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Monday, December 6, 2010

Living in DC: Columbia Heights

When looking at DC neighborhoods to reside, there are many options to choose from depending on your living criteria. One such residential neighborhood is Columbia Heights, a new hub of DC retail commerce and home of the Tivoli Theatre.

"Once farmland on the estate of the Holmead family (called "Pleasant Plains")...The area began developing as a suburb of Washington soon after the Civil War when horse-drawn streetcars delivered residents of the neighborhood to downtown. Original home of the first building for Columbian College, now The George Washington University was completed in 1822 before the campus was moved to downtown." (Wikipedia)


In 1999, the city began it's revitalization project of the Columbia Heights area. The finished product is a combination of mixed-use projects and big box retail stores such as Target, BestBuy, Marshalls, Washington Sports Club, and Giant surrounding the Tivoli Square. Columbia Heights has become the new hub of retail for DC, it is a one-stop shop of restaurants such as Five Guys, Ruby Tuesdays, Chipotle, Ihop, and other local eateries.


The majority of condominiums in Columbia Heights are condo conversions of older apartment buildings or townhomes. Columbia Heights by far has the most affordable condos in Washington DC with the average price starting around $215K. As in most urban neighborhoods, parking is difficult and a $35K premium is placed on homes with available parking. There is a huge $50K+ disparity in home pricing from 16th St to 7th St side of Columbia Heights. The condominium prices in Columbia Heights range from $175k to $700k...needless to say, there is something for everyone.


Columbia Heights is also known for its wide array of Victorian style townhomes. The average starting price is $325K.

Call me at 301-452-4767 if you have any real estate questions!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Greatest Homebuying Obstacle: Location vs. Space

The GREATEST homebuying obstacle facing all homebuyers is: LOCATION vs. SPACE!

It doesn't matter how many homes you visit or research is done on each neighborhood the results always comes back to this issue. When making your initial homebuying criteria list it is important that you also RANK what is most important to you.

This list is an important guide to help you with this overwhelming decision making process.

What is "LOCATION?"
-Location can range from accessibility to public transportation, major roadways, restaurants, shopping, work, schools, or even nightlife such as bars, clubs, and lounges.

What is "SPACE?"

-Space can range from square footage, floor plan, and storage.

How does my choice affect home prices?
-There is a direct correlation between Location and home prices...there is a premium placed on sought after location, especially in urban areas. The farther away from the city the lower prices fall.

How does my choice affect Space?
-It is well-known that in more sought after locations, Space is limited based on your price range. You can expect to gain more Space for a lower price range as you move further out of the city.

Now you might read this and think it's common sense...but it is inevitable that many homebuyers will have many sleepless nights tormenting over this same issue, especially since purchasing a home is a very emotional process.

It doesn't matter if you are a first-time homebuyer or second home...the obstacles and anxieties remain the same.

Call me at 301-452-4767 if you have any real estate questions!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Things to know: Homebuying on the web

For anyone thinking about purchasing a home usually starts with the internet as the primary source for information. You will soon find that there is an overwhelming array of sources to chose from whether you are looking at pictures of homes or researching interest rates and potential mortgage payments!

It will become apparent as you begin moving further into the process and speaking with your realtor and loan officer, that not all the information on the web is ACCURATE!

Here are some things you need to know as follows:

1. The status of properties for sale on the web are NOT always accurate. It doesn't matter where you look on the web...no website provides more accurate information on a property than your realtor's MLS system.

2. Mortgage calculators are NOT accurate in estimating your potential monthly payment on a mortgage. These calculators do NOT take into account PITI (Principle, Interest, Taxes, and Insurance).

3. Never judge a book by it's cover! Depending on the pictures on the web to determine the condition of a property is a poor substitute to actually visiting a property.

4. Research upcoming developments in the neighborhood where you are thinking about purchasing. There is no substitute like local blogs and following up with local representatives and agencies about the status of development projects. Projects are always beginning and postponing due to external factors.

MY ADVICE:Take everything you read on the web at face value. ALWAYS follow up with a realtor and loan officer about questions regarding the homebuying process. Make sure you have all the information to make an informed decision!

Call me at 301-452-4767 if you have any real estate questions!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Living in DC: Gallery Place-Chinatown

When looking at DC neighborhoods to reside, there are many options to choose from depending on your living criteria. One such residential neighborhood is the Gallery Place-Chinatown, a historical east community of over 20 ethnic restaurants.

"The Chinatown area was formerly populated by German immigrants; Chinese immigrants began to populate the area in the 1930s, having been displaced from Washington's original Chinatown along Pennsylvania Avenue by the development of the Federal Triangle government office complex." (Wikipedia)


In 2006, Chinatown underwent a $200 million renovation transforming the neighborhood into a bustling area of shopping, bars, and restaurants. Chinatown looks like a mini-Times Square with huge jumbo-trons, Verizon Center, and large chain businesses, such as Starbucks, CVS, Fuddruckers, Lucky Strike, Clydes, etc.

Housing in Chinatown primarily consist of modern-style condominiums such as the Residences at Gallery Place, City Vista, 555 Mass, etc. These mixed-use projects are a combination of luxury and convenience with big chain retail store and restaurants on the lower levels such as AT&T, Safeway, Urban Outfitters, etc. The average price of these residences start at $350,000 up to $1 Million for the penthouse.

For more information about the latest news and entertainment in Chinatown dc: visit GalleryPlace.com

Call me at 301-452-4767 if you have any real estate questions!

What is the DC Homestead Act?

So you are thinking about purchasing a new home in the District and you have heard about the DC Homestead Act. What is it?

Well according to the DC official website:

"This benefit reduces your real property's assessed value by $67,500 prior to computing the yearly tax liability.

The Homestead benefit is limited to residential property. To qualify:

An application must be on file with the Office of Tax and Revenue;
The property must be occupied by the owner/applicant and contain no more than five dwelling units (including the unit occupied by the owner); and
The property must be the principal residence (domicile) of the owner/applicant.

If a properly completed and approved application is filed from October 1 to March 31, the property will receive the Homestead benefit for the entire tax year (and for all tax years in the future). If a properly completed and approved application is filed from April 1 to September 30, the property will receive one-half of the benefit reflected on the second-half tax bill (and full deductions for all tax years in the future)."

Basically...the Homestead Act saves you money on your property taxes for ONLY your primary residence.

Call me at 301-452-4767 if you have any real estate questions!

Thinking about Short Sale? What you need to know!

So you are thinking about selling your house as a short sale! Here is some information you need to know.

Short sales can be an extremely stressful experience for both homebuyers and sellers.

A bank will not even consider your short sale application unless you are delinquent with your mortgage payments. If you cannot show hardship, then your application will go at the bottom of the pile. In other words, you will have to sacrifice your credit score in order to leave the property.

You will get a lot of advise from different people. I would suggest contacting Lawrence Tucker at New Era Title. This law firm has been specializing in short sales for over 10 years. They have relationships with every bank and can walk you step by step through the process and do all of the negotiations with the bank on your behalf. This allows your realtor to focus on what they do best...selling your home.

The best part is that New Era Title fees are paid by the bank. You DO NOT pay them for their services. Here is Lawrence Tucker's contact information as follows:

Lawrence Tucker, Esquire, MBA
New Era Title
8521 Leesburg Pike, #450
Vienna, VA 22182
Tel: 703-448-4420
Fax: 703-448-7720
Email: ltucker@neweratitle.com

Many realtors might not admit it, but short sales are NOT for everyone.

Remember...the keyword with short sales is HARDSHIP!

Call me at 301-452-4767 if you have any real estate questions!

Friday, September 10, 2010

5 Things to know before investing in DC Foreclosures

So you have heard about the millions of foreclosures available...and you are thinking about investing. Here are a few things you need to know before embarking on this adventure:

1. Best Offer First:
-Always put your best foot forward! Banks do NOT accept escalation clauses and will NOT accept low bid offers. These properties are already priced under the market.

2. Bank Addenda is KING:
-Only after the bank accepts your offer will they provide you with the addenda and disclosures. Please read all addenda carefully! These bank documents override any and all buyer protections afforded to you by local real estate documents. For example, the buyer will NOT be able to sue the bank if the bank does not perform the necessary steps to sell the home, such as providing clear title.

3. Always get an Inspection:
-These properties are being sold As-Is! It is understood that the bank will not make any repairs to the property, but in rare case the bank should make repairs, they will only repair structural and/or mold issues in the home. Ask your inspector to always test the air quality and identify the sources of mold.

4. The 30-Day Rule
-On average banks revolve around the 30-day Rule when dealing with foreclosures. Every 30-days banks are requesting a price reduction. Every 30 days from contract ratification, the banks would like to sell the property. There is a misconception that purchasing a foreclosure will be as difficult as a short-sale. It is quite the opposite, the banks look at foreclosures as a liability and want to get rid of them immediately...providing the price is RIGHT!

5. Buyer pays 100% of property taxes

-So you have read that Federal law allows certain banks exemption from paying property taxes when selling properties (ie. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae). Well, DC government does not recognize the exemption status of these banks and demand the tax bill be paid in full...in this case it is the buyer's responsibility. This is a growing trend by surrounding local county governments such as Prince Georges, Montgomery County, etc.

Call me at 301-452-4767 if you have any real estate questions!