An abundance of attention has been paid to the District’s Kalorama neighborhood in the past year as a home site of former president Barack Obama and his family; first daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, presidential adviser Jared Kushner; and Amazon founder and Washington Post owner Jeffrey P. Bezos.
Most Kalorama addresses carry a price tag above $1 million — and sometimes more than $6 million. But properties on the east side of Connecticut Avenue NW often list for a lower price point.
Residents in this area of Kalorama have easy access to shops, restaurants and nightlife in Adams Morgan, Woodley Park and Dupont Circle. They can walk to either the Woodley Park or Dupont Circle Metro stations.
[Luxury condos in D.C.’s Kalorama open]
The 1,453-square-foot condo at 2312 Ashmead Pl. NW, listed at $799,900, has three bedrooms and three bathrooms. The monthly condo fee is $239.
The unit, part of a stately condo built in 1922, has an open floor plan with wide-plank-oak flooring and recessed lighting. The kitchen has white quartz counters, sleek white cabinets, a Carrara marble backsplash and upgraded appliances. The bathrooms have marble tile flooring, marble walls, double-sink vanities and modern fixtures.
D.C.’s changing landscape has brought a new vibe (and some gentrification controversy) to long-established neighborhoods, as well as a whole new purpose to older structures whose original use is long past the sell-by date.
Such is the case with 11Park at 1628 11th St. NW. Nestled between the hip-and-happening neighborhoods of Logan Circle and Shaw, this former commercial building has now been converted to a chic condominium complex, featuring eight ultra-modern two-level town houses and 24 flats.
Located on a quiet and historic stretch of 11th Street and across the street from a church and dog park, 11Park offers a variety of thoughtful amenities: a quietly elegant two-story lobby with wood paneling and slate tile floors; an elevator that goes from the garage to the penthouse-level club room, fully equipped fitness center and terrace with lounge and grilling stations; 19 garage spaces (separately deeded and ranging from $40,000 for a compact car to $50,000 for full-sized); storage units ($3,000 to $7,500); and bike storage. With the dog park so close by, it goes without saying that the building is pet-friendly.
Unit 106 is typical of the duplex town houses, which are located on the first and second floors of the building. (Flats are on the third and fourth stories.) It offers approximately 1,650 square feet of living space with two bedrooms, two-and-a-half baths and two very private outdoor areas: a terrace above and a courtyard below. It is on the market for $1,339,900 with a monthly condo fee $653.78.
The unit’s main entrance is from an interior hallway of the 11Park building on the home’s upper level, and it opens into a large living and entertaining space comprising the kitchen, dining area and living room. (To the right of the entry hall is a half-bath and hall closets.) At the far end is a wall of floor-to-ceiling west-facing windows and a glass door leading to a spacious L-shaped terrace with IPE wood decking and raised planter beds for privacy.
The kitchen features an appetizing blend of functionality and aesthetics. It includes soft-close Porcelanosa cabinetry; a white Caesarstone backsplash and countertop; integrated Bosch appliances (gas cooktop, convection oven, refrigerator, dishwasher); and a deep Kraus sink with Grohe faucet.
Off the dining area is an open staircase with a wire, wood and metal railing that leads to the lower level, which holds the two carpeted bedrooms, two full baths and a family room/den. Sliding doors open into the courtyard. There is also a laundry closet with stacked Whirlpool washer/dryer.
Both the full and half-baths are fitted with Waterworks fixtures, Kohler commodes and soaking tubs, Porcelanosa millwork and tile backsplash/flooring, and Caesarstone vanity counters.
At 750 square feet, Unit 402 is less than half the size of the town house — but it’s no less sleek or high end. The one-bedroom, one-bath home is listed for $639,000 with condo fee of $287.10 per month. It too features outdoor space: a sizable balcony, facing east, off the living room. Materials and finishings are identical except for the refrigerator (Blomberg instead of Bosch). Other notable features are the sliding barn door with frosted glass that closes off the bedroom and the tall glass panel that provides a view into the living room and park beyond.
Overall, there are a variety of apartment sizes and layouts to choose from, starting with one-bedroom, one-bath units at 675 to 750 square feet and ranging in price from $524,900 to $644,900 with monthly condo fees of $248.85 to $287.10. Two-bed, two bath residences range from 1,000 to 1,200 square feet and are priced from $824,900 to $1,199,900 with $400.18 to $457.97 in monthly condo fees. The duplex townhouses with 1,650 to 1,750 square feet are listed at $1,314,900 to $1,384,900, with monthly condo fees of $637.98 to $702.42.
11Park combines convenient proximity to the vibrant corridors of U and 14th streets NW with the peacefulness of protected views — a benefit of neighborhood height restrictions — and plenty of on-street parking. It also gets great walking, biking and Metro scores. The building is just blocks away from Whole Foods, Le Diplomate, Room & Board and a host of other retail and dining attractions.
Chapman Stables, one of the most anticipated residential projects coming to DC in 2018, has just celebrated its topping out and announced that it is almost 20 percent sold.
Originally built in stages between 1906 and 1916, the historic Chapman Coal Company Garage and Stable at 57 N Street NW was used as a coal yard, a stable and a garage before it became home to the Brass Knob warehouse, which vacated the space in 2010. The buildings are now getting a 21st century facelift and will be the home to a 114-unit condo development with retail space from renowned DC developer Four Points.
The condominium residences at Chapman Stables will infuse high-end architectural designs and classic finishes to bring the building to life and restore its storied history.
The units at Chapman Stables will include studio, one-, two- and three-bedrooms, and building amenities will include a front desk concierge, WiFi in all public areas, a library, a peaceful landscaped courtyard, a roof terrace with clubroom and garage parking. Each home will also come complete with Nest thermostats and built-in device charging ports.
Located in the heart of the vibrant Truxton Circle neighborhood, Chapman Stables residents will be steps away from some of the best dining and entertainment options in the city. Homeowners can take a quick stroll to popular eateries like Convivial, Big Bear Cafe and Republic Cantina, which is located on Chapman Stables’ ground floor; or catch the Metro to sights and attractions in and around downtown DC.
Prices at Chapman Stables start in the low $300s. Prospective buyers can now schedule a sales appointment at the McWilliams|Ballard sales office located at 1416 P Street NW DC 20005. Stay tuned to learn more about the property’s on-site, furnished model home, which is scheduled to debut in early 2018.
Nov. 30, 2017
By: Devon Thorsby
Thanksgiving has passed, the weather has turned cold and everyone has their mind on the holiday season as the year comes to an end. For the residential real estate industry, that means sales go quiet.
The seasonal real estate cycle typically sees a decrease in buyer demand during the last couple months of each year, as people turn their attention to family gatherings for the holidays and wrapping up projects at work before the new year.
Where you’ll see the biggest change in sales over the ebb and flow of the seasons is the number of days a property is on the market. Realtor.com reports the U.S. housing market hit its lowest median days on market in June 2016 with 65 days, climbing to 89 days in December 2016 and hitting its peak in January 2017, with a median of 96 days on market. The trend appears to be repeating itself. The housing market hit its low for this year again in June, at 60 days, and is now climbing up, with the most recently reported number being 73 days for October.
But fewer active buyers and more days on market doesn’t mean you can’t sell your house during the winter months. Especially if you’re pressed for time and need to sell quickly, particularly hot markets see many eager buyers looking to snatch up available properties while the competition is still recovering from Thanksgiving dinner.
In New York City, for example, many international buyers looking for property in the city use the holiday season as an opportunity to tour a few available listings to “scout the market,” says Ross Evangelista, a licensed real estate salesperson with Stribling & Associates in New York.
Even with some potential out-of-town buyers shopping the area, listing your property during the winter months means you’ll need to be more flexible with the sale price. With fewer buyers stopping by, demand is lower.
For those who aren’t in a rush, taking your property off the market or waiting to list it until after the holiday season can lead you to more interest, more offers and – hopefully – a higher final sale price, says Timur Loynab, a real estate agent and principal at CondoNest, the condo resales division of the District of Columbia-based brokerage McWilliams Ballard.
“I believe strongly that it is not only a good idea to go dormant during the holiday season and the winter market in general, I think it’s a strategic move to make,” Loynab says. “Because, in general, the holidays and the winter real estate market is a time of doldrums in our industry – your pool of buyers shrinks considerably.”
If you’re not pressed for time, the combination of your holiday schedule, your agent’s possible vacation time and the reduced number of buyers can make waiting to list until after the new year the right move. “If the logistics aren’t there, don’t push the issue,” Evangelista says.
With your home off the market for the holiday season, here are five things you can do now to make a splash when you list the property next year.
Boost your curb appeal. While working on your property’s exterior appeal during the winter may not be the first thing that comes to mind, it may have something to do with why buyers haven’t been eager to make an offer on your property.
“If your lawn is lackluster and there isn’t any curb appeal, you’ve lost your buyer already,” Loynab says.
There may be no leaves on the trees and the grass may not be the vibrant green it is in spring, but a manicured lawn, some landscaping with flowers or plants that will continue to look nice in the colder weather and maybe even a fresh coat of exterior paint on your house can make a big difference.
“You want to always make a good first impression, and it starts the minutes the prospective purchasers enter your property,” Loynab says.
Remodel where it will help. Another problem area may be one of the key rooms buyers pay the most attention to when touring a property. If your kitchen, living room, master bathroom or master bedroom need a lot of work, buyers may rule out buying your house because it will be too much work.
If that’s the case, Loynab recommends weighing your options to update one or more of those rooms in the most cost-effective way possible – replacing fixtures and repainting cabinets, for example. The plus side of off-season renovations is that contractors are less in demand during the winter.
“Those contractors are not only readily available, but their services are often a little less expensive because there isn’t this feeding frenzy for their services,” Loynab says.
Remove the holiday decor. A winter wreath can be a nice touch, but if your property is going back on the market in January, take down your holiday decorations before any would-be buyers walk in your door.
“As a general rule, the tidier the better. You don’t know what [type of background] your buyer is coming from,” Evangelista says, noting that a lot of religious or cultural decorations can distract from the rest of the home. Once the holidays have passed, pack up your holiday decorations and put them back in storage.
Keep winter scents around. You can, however, keep your seasonal scented candles out. “If it’s right after the holidays, you might want to keep some of the nice smells if you’re going to list in January,” Evangelista says.
The smell of evergreen, chestnuts and peppermint can help buyers connect their own fond memories of home with your property. Diffusers, sprays and plug-in air fresheners can serve as a substitute for candles, but be sure that no scent overpowers the space.
Keep it off market for a reset. A big reason you’re opting to take your property off the market is to keep it from looking like it’s been sitting on the market for an extended period of time with no interest. “Many buyer agents simply will not show listings to their clients with high days on market,” Loynab says.
Some local multiple listing services – where your real estate agent markets the property to other professionals – require a property be off market for a minimum period of time before the days on market counter can reset. Strategize with your agent to determine when will be the best time to bring your property back on the market.
In the Washington area, for example, Loynab notes a property has to be off the market for 90 days. After that, “Your days on market are reset back to zero,” Loynab says, making it a fresh, new listing.
Just north of the Washington National Cathedral, Wiscon- sin Avenue NW is undergoing a renaissance.
ON THE MARKET
After numerous delays, the build-out of Cathedral Commons has been completed, transforming a sleepy stretch of low-rise storefronts into a vibrant shopping and dining destination.
Now, a nearby property at 3211 Wiscon- sin has gotten a facelift and extension that
Preservation Review Board, the Adams Investment Group came up with an ingenious solution that re-positioned the home, literally lifting it from its foundation, moving it 28 feet closer to Wis- consin and then connecting a modern multi-apartment building behind it. The result? A singular integrated structure that’s both classic Cleveland Park and urban contemporary — perfect for its blossoming setting.
The property now offers eight condominiums with a variety of floor plans and unique structural details. The lot once housed a single home, a 1905 Queen Anne that had clearly seen better days. Located in the middle
of the site and set back from the street, its original charm was overshadowed by surrounding apartment buildings and its awk- ward location precluded addition- al development.
Working with neighborhood stakeholders and the Historic range from a two-bedroom, two-bath pent- house with roof deck in the new wing, to a one-bed- room, one-bath unit in the historic home. Each condo is fitted out with
rustic wide-plank oak floors; sub- stantial molding; inlaid kitchen cabinets in muted shades of white, stone gray or taupe; marble countertops (including Calacatta); Viking or Blomberg appliances; and other distinctive architectural embellishments, which include lunette or clerestory windows and spiral stairs. An elevator serves all the floors in the modern wing.
Two available units demon- strate the range in size and price. Unit 103, a two-bedroom, two- bath apartment in the historic building, is the only home with its own exterior entrance — off the mini porch facing the street. It’s on the market for $669,900 with a monthly condo fee of $510. At 810 square feet, it is compact but well-designed and does not skimp on luxurious touches. Once inside you’re greeted by an open entertaining space with room enough for a dining area and living room. The ergonomi- cally laid-out kitchen features painted white cabinets and island; honed Bianco Rhino countertops; Blomberg French-door refrigera- tor/freezer, dishwasher, five-burn- er gas range, hood and oven; Sharp microwave; and Kraus stainless sink. Off the kitchen to the right are two bedrooms, one with en suite bath. Both bath- rooms are elegantly appointed with Oriental white marble tile, frameless glass showers and water-saving Icera commodes. In the hallway on the way to the bedrooms is a closet housing a Whirlpool Duet stacked washer and dryer.
On the other end of the price and space spectrum is the pent- house. Located in the modern building, this unit offers 1,550 square feet of living space with two bedrooms, two baths, an ample roof deck with an excep- tional view of the nearby Cathe- dral and rooftops of Cleveland Park, two garage parking spaces and private elevator access. It’s available for $1,450,000 with a monthly condo fee of $976.
Straight ahead as you enter the unit is a full bath, appointed with marble tile, single sink vanity and glass-doored walk-in shower with rainforest shower head. To the right and set off from the main living space is a comfortable guest room with a wide closet. Down the hall to the left of the entryway through a pocket door is the hub of the home — a stunning kitchen with extensive creamy cabinets and large island topped with Calacatta gold marble coun- ters, polished chrome hardware and top-of- the-line appliances: two Fisher Paykel two- drawer dishwashers and Viking refrigera- tor, microwave and six-burner gas range, oven and hood. To the right of the kitchen is the dining area, and to the left is the liv- ing room with tall casement windows and two doors opening onto a step-out Juliet balcony.
Off the living room is the master suite with floor-to-ceiling windows, a step-out Juliet balcony and a view of the Capitol. The master bath is a thing of beauty, with a frameless glass enclosed shower, Carrara tile floor and backsplash, and rainforest shower head. An open black iron and polished steel spiral staircase off the living room takes you up to the east- and south-facing roof- top terrace that overlooks the trees and the nearby Cathedral. Located in the western section of Cleveland Park, the building is just a block from the new Cathedral Commons complex, fea- turing a Giant supermarket and CVS Phar- macy as well as a host of retail and dining options. A Capital Bikeshare station is also nearby, and the area is served by several major bus routes.
The condominium units at 3211 Wiscon- sin Ave. NW are listed with McWilliams/ Ballard Inc. For details, call John Guggen- mos at 202-549-2212 or jguggenmos@ mcwilliamsballard.com.
June 12, 2017
One-bedroom, one-bathroom condo in Fairfax lists for $280,000
By Michele Lerner
Unit 308 is a one-bedroom condo in the Isabella in the Alexandria area of Fairfax County. Amenities include an outdoor swimming pool, a fitness center and a dog park. (Marlon Crutchfield)
When you want to buy a house in Fairfax County with a maximum budget of $400,000, you’ll need to set very careful priorities. The median sales price of homes there is $497,000, according to the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors, which could mean you’ll need to buy a condo or a townhouse rather than a single-family house.
If your priority is to live in a community with plenty of on-site amenities, a condo in the Isabella building at 6301 Edsall Rd. in the Alexandria section of Fairfax County could be an option. For example, Unit 308, priced at $280,000, is a one-bedroom, one-bathroom condo with 781 square feet. The monthly condo fee is $366.
The unit has a balcony, wide-plank flooring, a bonus nook for a home office, crown moldings, a coffered ceiling in the bedroom, a tankless water heater, a marble bathroom and an updated center island kitchen with maple cabinets. The unit also includes one garage parking space and three storage spaces.
Amenities at the pet-friendly Isabella include an outdoor swimming pool, a fitness center, a residents’ lounge, a dog park, a sport court and shuttle service to Metro.
Local schools are Bren Mar Park Elementary, Holmes Middle and Thomas A. Edison High, all rated 4, 5 or 6 out of 10 by GreatSchools.org, which is average.
For more photos, click here.
For more information, contact listing agent Timur Loynab with McWilliams Ballard at 571-215-6554.
April 8th, 2017
Map Out Moves Before Moving
By Michele Lerner
Moving from an apartment into your first home can be stressful. But proper planning can make the transition much smoother.
“When moving from a smaller property like a one-bedroom apartment to a larger home, worry about the necessities first and all other items last,” says Elysia Casaday, part of the Casaday Allison Group of Wydler Brothers Real Estate in Chevy Chase, Maryland. “Focus on the areas you'll be living in the most. Once you're in your new home, you'll be able to analyze what's needed, where and in what size.”
Some items you may need right away are extra lamps for dark rooms, says Mary Roberge, a real estate agent with McEnearney Associates in Leesburg, Virginia.
“Don't forget shower curtains for each bath, with rings and rods, and the all-important bathmat so no one slips and falls,” says Roberge. “The additional toiletry essentials like shampoos and towels for each bath are often overlooked but are very comforting to have early on.”
People tend to forget some of the basic things, says Katharine Delo Gregg, a real estate agent with McEnearney Associates in Washington, D.C.
“Some things don't cross your mind until you wake up in the morning after your first night's sleep in your new home, like coffee and milk!” she says. “I recommend scheduling a small Peapod order with just the basics, delivered at the end of your move-in day.”
Another basic that first-time buyers often forget they will need is something to cover their windows.
“Window treatments can be a surprise cost for many buyers, especially since custom blinds can be pricey,” says Steven Centrella, a real estate agent with Redfin. “But there are many different options available at a variety of price points, once you have time to research the issue. If you can't get blinds up before you move in, some stick-up blinds from the hardware store can be helpful to make sure your neighbors don't get to know you too well!” Fort Wayne Journal Gazette April 8th, 2017 CondoNest http://www.journalgazette.net/20170408/map-out-moves-when-moving
While many sellers will clean a property before settlement, D.C. regulations require only that the home transfer “broom-clean,” says Centrella. “You may want it a little cleaner before you start moving everything in, which takes time that some buyers don't budget for,” he says.
Even if the previous owners left the home clean or you're the first person to live in a new place, Gregg suggests that you have a broom easily accessible on moving day. “Your floors are going to be filthy after a day of movers hauling furniture in and out of your front door,” she says.
Brittany Allison, also part of the Casaday Allison Group, says a few of the absolute necessities to make you feel at home on your first day include toiletries, toilet paper, paper towels, towels and linens.
“You'll need furniture for your master bedroom and other bedrooms, depending on the size of your family, plus some living room furniture, maybe even just a couch before you start putting the room together,” says Allison. “You need a place to eat, so even just bar stools for your island or breakfast bar are fine to start. Don't forget to set up your cable and Internet so you're connected on the first day.”
If you're moving into a brand-new unit, there are some extra steps you can take before your move that will have long-lasting impact.
“Upgrade to devices that add efficiency to your home and save you money in the long term,” says Timur Loynab, a vice president of McWilliams Ballard in D.C. “Consider programmable thermostats, like Nest, and look into renewable sources of energy for power, such as solar panels and solar battery packs.”
Charilyn Wells Cowan, an associate broker with McEnearney Associates in McLean, Virginia, suggests that people think about which features are “infrastructure” and which are decorative and can be easily changed over time.
“For both new and resale homes, the furniture is the easiest to sacrifice in the beginning, and some rooms can stay empty until there's a need for them,” she says.
Cowan recommends that home buyers spend money before they move in on things like woodwork, cabinets, and wiring for sound and security because those items are harder to add or change later.
Loynab suggests waiting on some decisions until you've settled into your new home and see how you use the space.
“Do test paint swatches on your walls first and sit with the color for a day or two before committing to a color for all of your home's walls,” he says.
Centrella suggests spacing out your purchases and letting yourself acclimate to the space before buying furniture for the whole place. “Don't buy new furniture until you've gotten in and made sure your measurements are correct,” says Centrella. “You never want to order that expensive new living or dining room set and then not have it fit in the space.”
While paper towels and cleaning supplies are necessities for a move, Roberge suggests some other items to have ready on moving day. Fort Wayne Journal Gazette April 8th, 2017 CondoNest http://www.journalgazette.net/20170408/map-out-moves-when-moving
“Not always an essential, but a wonderful feel-good item to have at the move-in, are cheese and crackers or other snacks, along with the owner's preferred beverages, for not only a possible special first night in the new home but also for any visitors and friends who may stop by to graciously help unpack or just congratulate you,” she says.
Centrella suggests having disposable plates, cups and napkins for a takeout meal on your first night so you don't have to worry about finding the box with the dishes and silverware.
“If you've got kids, make sure you have something to keep them busy and out of the way if they're too young to help with the move,” says Centrella.
Roberge says that if you don't have your TV or internet connected, it's a nice idea to download a movie or two onto a laptop so you, your kids or your teens can have a little downtime when you're exhausted and adjusting to your new setting.
October 26th, 2017
Pet Owners Face Unique Challenges
When Buying and Selling a Home
By Michele Lerner
Not all neighborhoods, houses or condos will love your dog as much as you do.
Elena Ruiz and her partner, Shawna Kerns, place such a high priority on their desire to rescue animals, they switched neighborhoods to find a place with a yard.
The couple had two cats and a dog when they began house hunting from their apartment in the H Street corridor area of Northeast Washington. Now that they have settled into their Marshall Heights home in Southeast, they’ve added a rescue puppy to their menagerie.
“Our animals determined which neighborhoods we looked at,” Kerns says. “We were able to find a place with a fenced front yard and a fenced back yard by looking at Marshall Heights.”
Ruiz says that they had wanted to stay near H Street but that their budget limited them to a condo in that area.
“We sacrificed location and walkability, but we love that we are getting to know all our neighbors and have space for our animals,” she says.
Millennials, in particular, are often motivated by their dogs when house hunting, according to a recent survey of that generation of home buyers conducted by the Harris Poll on behalf SunTrust Mortgage.
The survey found that the desire for a better space or a yard for a dog influenced their decision to buy their first home. Dogs were among the top three motivators — cited by 33 percent of buyers, compared with 25 percent who mentioned marriage, and 19 percent who mentioned the birth of a child. Washington Post October 26th, 2017 CondoNest https://www.washingtonpost.com/realestate/pet-owners-face-unique-challenges-when-buying-and-selling-a-home/2017/10/25/b91a29da-3fdc-11e7-8c25-44d09ff5a4a8_story.html?utm_term=.fdb6d9179c77
Robin Waugh, a real estate agent with TTR Sotheby’s International Realty in Washington, says dogs are almost like children to their owners and need space to play, room for their toys, and a place to interact with other dogs and people.
Elizabeth and Patrick Carberry recently bought a rowhouse near 14th Street NW, primarily to accommodate their two dogs, Scruffy and Cody.
“I’ve lived with these dogs for the past eight years in the city in apartments and then in a condo, but one of my dogs is 15 now, and it’s harder for her to climb stairs,” she says. “It’s much easier to be in a house where I can open the door and let her out. I think it’s important that people with pets think about their long-term needs. Just like people, dogs grow and get older, and their needs change.”
About 68 percent of American households have pets, 60 percent of which are dogs, according to the American Pet Products Association’s 2017-2018 National Pet Owners survey. There are nearly 90 million pet dogs in the United States.
Home buyers and sellers with dogs, whether they are looking for an urban condo or a suburban house with a yard, often place a high priority on their pets’ happiness. Some communities have become more pet-friendly than they had been by developing dog parks where canines can run free. Condominiums and apartments are also catering to the needs of pet owners.
“I grew up in condos in D.C. and Maryland, and they were never pet-friendly, but now it’s almost inconceivable for a condo to not be pet-friendly,” says Valerie Grange, a sales manager with McWilliams Ballard condo resale division in Washington. “People consider their pets family members, which means they’re willing to do more for them.”
Even though a condo says it’s pet-friendly, says Lindsay Dreyer, broker-owner of City Chic Real Estate in Washington, it’s best to check the fine print, because there could be restrictions on the size of your pet, the breed and the number of pets allowed.
Lisa Groover, a real estate agent with McEnearney Associates in Old Town Alexandria, specializes in working with dog owners.
“A lot of people don’t realize that various jurisdictions have regulations about the number of dogs you can own or how much space you need to have,” Groover says. “On top of that, homeowner associations and condo associations often have rules, too.”
Although every jurisdiction requires dogs to be licensed and vaccinated, some areas have noise ordinances, and others restrict the number of dogs you can have depending on the size of your property. In Prince George’s County, it’s illegal to own a pit bull unless it was born before February 3, 1997.
“In the city of Alexandria and some other cities, you are limited to a maximum of three dogs,” Groover says. “In Fairfax County, there’s a rule that if you have three or four dogs, you need to have a property with at least 12,500 square feet. That number goes up if you have more dogs.”
Groover worked with a buyer who had seven beagles and was living in a townhouse. He needed a property with at least 25,000 square feet. Washington Post October 26th, 2017 CondoNest https://www.washingtonpost.com/realestate/pet-owners-face-unique-challenges-when-buying-and-selling-a-home/2017/10/25/b91a29da-3fdc-11e7-8c25-44d09ff5a4a8_story.html?utm_term=.fdb6d9179c77
In Montgomery County, dog owners face a penalty of $100 if their dog barks loudly and persistently. In Fairfax County, a noise ordinance prohibits barking and howling completely between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., and prohibits howling and barking for more than five minutes during the day.
“Neighbors can call the police if your dog makes noise, so if you’re concerned about this, it’s best to pick a dog-friendly neighborhood,” Groover says.
Grange says dog-friendly condos are a good idea, too — your neighbors are likely to be more forgiving of an occasional incident of barking.
Buying a home with a dog
If you’re looking for a single-family house, your focus is most likely to be on finding a place with a fenced yard.
“Don’t assume you can add a fence,” Groover says. “You may need to get the approval of an architectural review board and get permits. It’s important to get that information before you sign a contract.”
Even an electric fence might require approval by a homeowners association, Dreyer says.
Most homeowner associations and condo associations, even if they are pet-friendly, have pet regulations.
“It’s essential to get that information or to ask your agent to get that information for you ahead of time,” Groover says. “You do have three days to review the condo or HOA documents and can get out of the contract if you find a rule that won’t work for you, but it’s better to know about it before you get that far into the contract.”
Sometimes you’ll need to pay a special fee for having a pet or need to make a special request for your pet to be approved. That, too, is something it’s best to know about before you make an offer on a home.
“Some condos have rules about how much of your floor must be covered with carpeting, but a lot of people prefer hardwood,” Dreyer says. “You can end up in a dispute with your neighbors if your dog’s nails make noise on the hardwood, and you could be forced to cover your floors.”
Dreyer says some condos have quiet hours, so you could have to pay a fine if your dog barks.
“If your dog is afraid of elevators or kids or other dogs, you might be better off looking for a first-floor unit with a patio or for a house,” Groover says. “But if your dog barks every time someone walks by, you might be better off with an area that can be fenced off and separated from nearby foot traffic.”
Dreyer says that lower-level units in condos, although not always the most desirable for buyers, are often popular with dog owners who like having a private patio and not having their dogs climb stairs.
“Some condos are starting to follow the trend of rentals and market amenities, such as dog washing stations and dog-friendly courtyards, to entice buyers,” Grange says.
Moving with a dog requires some extra attention to your pet’s needs. Washington Post October 26th, 2017 CondoNest https://www.washingtonpost.com/realestate/pet-owners-face-unique-challenges-when-buying-and-selling-a-home/2017/10/25/b91a29da-3fdc-11e7-8c25-44d09ff5a4a8_story.html?utm_term=.fdb6d9179c77
Living in an Airstream travel trailer seemed like a fun solution when Julie Ackerman Montross, her husband, Jeff Montross, and their English bulldog Winston needed temporary housing while waiting for renovations to be completed on their newly purchased house in Old Town Alexandria.
“Now that we’re in week five, it’s not so much fun,” Julie Montross says. “But it will be worth it when we move in, because we’re excited to be in a pet-friendly neighborhood where we can bring Winston to restaurant patios. Our new place has a nice fenced yard, too.”
Selling a home with a dog
When the Montrosses were selling their home, Groover discussed their options for taking care of the dog while making their home attractive to buyers.
“Our dog is a big shedder, and we have dark floors, so it was hard to stay on top of that to keep the house in perfect shape,” Julie Montross says. “We decided that in order to maintain our sanity, we’d board our dog with friends. It was a difficult four weeks and hard to adjust to living without the dog, but it was definitely the best choice for us.”
Julie Montross says their dog “spooks easily” and is young, which also convinced them that keeping him out of the house when strangers visited was best.
“Sometimes it works fine to keep a dog in a crate, but remember to think about whether your dog will bark or be stressed by visitors to the house,” Groover says.
Grange recommends putting explicit information in your listing about whether you have a pet in residence and what visitors to the home should expect.
In addition to concern for your pet, it’s important to remember that some people are allergic to dogs or simply afraid of them.
“Dogs make people uncomfortable, especially if their owner isn’t there,” Dreyer says. “You never know how a dog will react or how people will react, so it’s best to ‘de-dog’ your home.”
Dreyer says that if you can’t send your dog to day care or to a friends, you should at least take the dog out during showings. However, she warns, restricting showings too much to remove the dog first can hinder a quick sale.
Dog odors can be disturbing even if someone isn’t allergic. Groover recommends having a friend who doesn’t own a pet come by for a “sniff test” to see whether you’ve cleaned adequately.
“You have to clean everything deeply, including your bedding and your curtains,” Groover says. “Remove your dog beds and toys, and repair anything the dog has damaged. The goal is to make it as if a dog doesn’t live there, so you don’t distract from the house.”
At the same time, Groover says, the fact that a community is dog-friendly can be a positive marketing tool for a property.
“It’s very common now to see agents market a condo building or a neighborhood as pet-friendly,” Waugh says. “As long as you keep your home and your dog as clean as possible, you can actually entice buyers if you alert them to the location of nearby dog parks and good places to walk dogs.” Washington Post October 26th, 2017 CondoNest https://www.washingtonpost.com/realestate/pet-owners-face-unique-challenges-when-buying-and-selling-a-home/2017/10/25/b91a29da-3fdc-11e7-8c25-44d09ff5a4a8_story.html?utm_term=.fdb6d9179c77
Dog-and-owner “yappy hours,” dog parks, doggy day-care centers and pet-friendly shops and restaurants that stock dog treats all cater to the canine culture in the Washington area, which makes it easier for dog owners to buy and sell property with their furry family members at the center of the transaction.
Tips for buying with a dog
● Know the policies in the jurisdiction and homeowners or condo association to be sure you can comply.
● Look for a neighborhood where many residents have dogs — they’ll be more accepting of your pet.
● Look for a neighborhood with pet-friendly retailers and restaurants.
● Look for the closest dog parks.
● Check out doggy day-care options in the area if you’ll need them.
● If you opt for a high-rise, know where you can walk your dog and whether your dog is comfortable in elevators.
● If you can’t find a yard with a fence, find out how much it will cost and whether you are allowed to build one.
● Be careful to check out the stairs if your dog has trouble climbing them.
Tips for selling with a dog
● Decide whether your dog will be okay to stay in a crate while your home is being shown or if you can walk the pet whenever someone wants to see it.
● Consider boarding your dog with friends or a family member while your home is on the market.
● Be aware of dog odors — have a friend without pets do a “sniff test” to see whether you’ve done enough cleaning.
● Have your carpets, curtains and upholstery cleaned or replaced if necessary.
● An air duct cleaning might be necessary to remove dog odors.
● Put away dog toys, leashes and other clutter when showing your home.
● Check for dog damage such as scratched floors and ripped screens or trampled bushes, and make repairs.
October 3rd, 2017
Condos are at the Crossroads of Some of
D.C.’s Most Popular Neighborhoods
By Michele Lerner
The flat condos at 11Park are priced from $549,000, and the duplexes are priced from $1,314,900. (Benjamin C Tankersley/For he Washington Post)
When Christopher Hanson and his fiance, John Stabile, started looking for their first home to buy, location was a top priority.
The couple, renting an apartment in the Northwest Washington neighborhood of Shaw, “both walk to work and wanted to be able to continue to walk after we moved,” says Stabile. “We looked at two-bedroom resales and new construction in the Logan Circle and Shaw neighborhoods before we found 11Park.”
11Park, 1628 11th St. NW, matches another of their priorities: They wanted to be in a boutique building where they could get to know their neighbors, rather than a large, impersonal building.
“We like the idea of being in a new building because everyone who moves in will be part of a newly invented community instead of a preexisting one,” says Hanson.
Monument and cathedral views: Converted from a former office building, the 32 condos at 11Park include 24 flats and eight townhouses. The two-level townhouses are accessible only from an interior corridor, not the street. The original lower floors of the building were preserved. Three additional levels were added, along with an elevator and an underground garage.
Despite its relatively small size, the condo includes multiple amenities.
“We wanted to make this building stand out a little from others in the city, so we decided to include the kind of amenities that you usually see only in larger buildings,” says George Chopivsky, managing principal of the Fortis Cos., the developer of 11Park. “The entire penthouse level is community space.” Washington Post October 3rd, 2017 CondoNest https://www.washingtonpost.com/realestate/condos-are-at-the-crossroads-of-some-of-dcs-most-popular-neighborhoods/2017/10/02/3be3afaa-9eea-11e7-8ea1-ed975285475e_story.html?utm_term=.58838d41b48e
Residents have access to a roof terrace with a grill and seating, a clubroom with a bar and floor-to-ceiling windows on two sides, and a fitness center with floor-to-ceiling windows. Views from the windows and terrace encompass the Washington Monument, Washington National Cathedral, nearby rooftops and a dog park across the street. Half of the roof will be planted as green space, with the seating areas on the east side of the roof on top of an ipe wood deck. The pet-friendly building has a dog-washing station. The garage also has a bike repair area and storage.
Chopivsky says he was drawn to the building because of its location.
“You can walk for five minutes and get to U Street or to Le Diplomate or to the 9:30 Club or to Logan Circle or the Whole Foods on P Street,” he says. “At the same time, this is a residential street, so you don’t get the noise from all the bars and restaurants.”
Living there: Hanson and Stabile picked a top-floor corner unit because they like the views facing west and north through the floor-to-ceiling windows. They were looking for a place with plenty of natural light.
“Every unit has floor-to-ceiling windows and high ceilings,” says Chopivsky. “We also decided to upgrade the level of finishes, so the kitchens and bathrooms have Bosch appliances and Waterworks fixtures, plus Caesarstone counters and full-height backsplashes.”
Each unit has a coat closet and additional closets and niches. The bathrooms have tall medicine cabinets and shelves for linens.
The kitchen has imported European cabinets in a light or dark palette and Caesarstone countertops. (Benjamin C Tankersley/For The Washington Post
The one-bedroom, 751-square foot Unit 402 is priced at $639,900, with a monthly condo fee of $287. This condo has an open floor plan with a kitchen, a niche for a dining area with floor-to-ceiling windows, and a living area with a glass door to a balcony. The bedroom is in the interior of the unit and has a narrow window to bring in light from the living area, plus a sliding barn door with frosted glass. Adjacent to the kitchen are a pantry, a coat closet, a laundry closet and the full bathroom, which has a glass-enclosed shower with a bench, a floating vanity and an adjustable LED light above the sink and mirror.
The two-bedroom, 1,200-square foot Unit 409 is priced at $1,199,900, with a monthly condo fee of $458. This unit has an open floor plan with floor-to-ceiling windows on two sides of the living and dining area, a large kitchen island with seating, and a balcony. The master bedroom has a walk-in closet and a bathroom with a combination tub and shower. The second bedroom has two closets and a full bathroom with a glass-enclosed shower across the hall. The unit also has a coat closet and a laundry closet. Washington Post October 3rd, 2017 CondoNest https://www.washingtonpost.com/realestate/condos-are-at-the-crossroads-of-some-of-dcs-most-popular-neighborhoods/2017/10/02/3be3afaa-9eea-11e7-8ea1-ed975285475e_story.html?utm_term=.58838d41b48e
Residents have access to a roof terrace with a grill and seating, a clubroom with a bar and a fitness center. (Benjamin C Tankersley/For The Washington Post)
The two-level, two bedroom, 1,633-square-foot Unit 106 is priced at $1,339,900 with a monthly condo fee of $653. This condo has an open floor plan with a large peninsula in the kitchen, a coat closet and a powder room on the main level. A private terrace with planters for trees and shrubs extends from the living area. The lower level has a den with glass doors to a second terrace open to the terrace above. This level has two bedrooms, each with double closets. The master bathroom has a shower with a window, and the second bathroom has a combination tub and shower. A laundry closet is also on this level.
What’s nearby: Residents can easily walk to restaurants, shops and nightlife on 14th Street NW, to a park across the street from the building, to nightlife on U Street, to the 9:30 Club and other venues in Shaw, and to Logan Circle. A few blocks to the west are Le Diplomate and Pearl Dive Oyster Palace, and a few blocks to the south are El Sol, a well-reviewed Mexican taqueria; and numerous restaurants and galleries near the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.
“After looking for places to live between Seventh and 15th streets NW, we were both surprised to find this modern new construction in a historic part of the city,” says Hanson. “We feel like we’re at the crossroads of the city because we’re in the middle of so many great neighborhoods.”
Schools: Garrison Elementary, Cardozo Education Campus for Middle and High.
Transit: Residents can walk in less than 10 minutes to three Metro stations for Green and Yellow Line service: Shaw, U Street and Mount Vernon Square. The neighborhood is also served by numerous bus lines.
1628 11th St. NW, Washington
The flat condos are priced from $549,000, and the duplexes are priced from $1,314,900. Two of the flats are reserved as affordable housing units available through the D.C. government’s inclusionary zoning lottery system.
Builder: Fortis Cos.
Features: Each unit has an open floor plan, high ceilings, wide-plank flooring, floor-to-ceiling windows, a full-size washer and dryer, imported European cabinets in a light or dark palette, Caesarstone counters, glass-enclosed showers and upgraded appliances. Some units have a balcony or terrace. Each of the duplex units includes two private terraces. The building has 20 garage parking spaces, priced at $40,000 to $50,000, accessed by an auto lift elevator from the alley behind the condo.
Bedrooms /bathrooms: 1 to 3 / 1 to 3
Square footage: Approximately 675 to 1,750
Condominium association fees: $249 to $458 for the flats and $638 to $702 for the townhouses per month
View models: Open daily by appointment
Contact: Timur Loynab of McWilliams Ballard at 571-215-6554 or visit liveat11park.com .
September 24, 2017
The Eric Stewart Show – September 24th, 2017
“Logan Circle has been hot for so long – but it still is. You know, it’s one of D.C.’s most desirable locations. It’s centrally-located and amidst all the city has to offer. Shaw as well, and now Truxton Circle with our Chapman Stables.”
“Each property comes with outdoor space on the rooftop. It’s not a green building, but everything is energy efficient – people love the efficiency. Aside from the rooftop, some units have their own private connected outdoor space as well. You might have gotten a two-for one.”
September 20, 2017
Armed with Firsthand Experience, D.C. Realtor Offers Advice on Flipped Homes
By Zoe Morgan
Jordan Aquino is a Realtor with McWilliams Ballard. (Photo Courtesy of Jordan Aquino)
When local real estate agent Jordan Aquino bought himself a house two years ago, he chose a historic home that had been freshly renovated by a “flipper” — a developer who purchased the property to upgrade and quickly resell it.
But as Aquino learned from his own purchase, buyers of a flipped home should take additional precautions to ensure the property is in good condition and up to code.
According to Aquino, after purchasing his house in the Trinidad neighborhood, he discovered a number of problems that the developer hadn’t disclosed. There was damage to the drywall that had previously been covered by a mirror, and exterior brick that was chipped and had been patched with plaster. Not only that, but the electric meter hadn’t been separated when what had been a single-family house was converted into a duplex.
“Maybe I just got to be the unlucky one,” Aquino told The Current. “But I’m sure I’m not the only one.”
Since his experience purchasing the home, Aquino, who works as a sales manager at McWilliams Ballard’s condo sales division, has developed a set of guidelines and advice that he gives clients looking to purchase flipped properties. Anyone buying a flip should hire a reputable home inspector to examine the property, he said. Many real estate agents have a home inspector that they use regularly, but in lieu of that Aquino advises prospective buyers to consult sites like Angie’s List, look at the inspector’s social media presence and solicit referrals from friends. Current Newspapers September 20, 2017 CondoNest https://currentnewspapers.com/armed-with-firsthand-experience-d-c-realtor-offers-advice-on-flipped-homes/
Although Aquino did hire an inspector when purchasing his home, the inspection was completed quickly. In particular, Aquino said it should be a red flag if the inspector says that nothing is wrong with the property. Looking back, Aquino said, he ought to have done more research.
Real estate agent Valerie Grange, also at McWilliams Ballard, recommends working with an experienced Realtor who has knowledge of the potential problems that can occur both pre- and post-settlement.
“The Realtor I think is at the top of the list, so that you can navigate properly through the process,” Grange said.
Both Aquino and Grange also recommended researching the track record of the developer who did the flip. In Aquino’s case, there was no sign of the developer as he prepared to purchase the home; he interacted with the listing agent instead. Since the purchase, Aquino has tried to contact the developer, but has been unable to get a response.
Grange told The Current that home flippers sometimes cut corners with the plumbing and electrical systems, and suggests researching who did the actual construction. Buyers should also pay attention to the condition of the foundation and the roof, she said. If the property was converted from a single-family home to one with multiple units, the buyer should confirm that the proper permits were obtained and check whether the structure complies with zoning requirements, Grange advised.
In addition to the major components of the home like the foundation, Aquino also recommends paying attention to the smaller details, like checking the soundproofing on windows and whether light switches are aligned with the outlet covers.
When considering a flipped house, Aquino and Grange both highlight the importance of checking to see if the seller is offering a warranty. Aquino recommended purchasing an extended home warranty if one is available. D.C. law provides for a two-year structural warranty, which covers some external parts of the house, Aquino said.
Corners are most often cut by house flippers who lack financing or did not properly budget for the project, Grange said. In her personal experience, these problems are most common among less experienced or small-scale developers.
Despite the problems with the property, Aquino continues to live in the flipped house he bought and plans to stay for the foreseeable future. He has had to make a number or repairs and modifications since moving in, but likes the neighborhood and intends to stay in the house.
“I think I am 150 percent more aware of exactly what I’ve experienced,” Aquino said. “There’s a lot more questions I do as an agent in terms of representing my clients to make sure that there aren’t any gray areas, there aren’t any missed opportunities in terms of finding any flaws.”
September 18, 2017
Money and Liability Are Among Issues Driving the D.C. Airbnb Bill
By Timur Loynab
(John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images)
This fall, the D.C. Council will tackle a growing phenomenon that condo associations all over the city have been grappling with: the explosion of short-term rentals.
Now firmly a staple of the sharing economy, companies like Airbnb, HomeAway and VRBO are part of a booming, multibillion-dollar web-based industry that is largely unregulated. The D.C. Council, like many local governments across the country, is considering ways to regulate, tax and license short-term rentals.
In October, the council is expected to hear the Short-term Rental Regulation and Affordable Housing Protection Act of 2017, otherwise known as the “Airbnb bill.”
The bill, which is sponsored by D.C. Council member Kenyan R. McDuffie (D-Ward 5), would create a licensing category specifically for short-term rentals and require residents who use home-sharing services to obtain the new business license. It would also establish requirements governing the use of short-term rentals and enforce hefty fines, from $1,000 to $7,000 for violations, with half the funds going into the Housing Production Trust Fund.
Critics of the bill argue that it doesn’t address the affordable housing shortage. But the real debate over short-term rentals boils down to money, risk and liability.
Home-sharing services, like Airbnb, connect travelers or renters with owners or hosts who want to rent out their entire home or a room in their home for a night, a weekend or sometimes longer. The arrangements are financially beneficial for everyone except the District treasurer, according to the Airbnb bill’s opponents. The traveler/renter gets a bargain on a fully furnished home with all the amenities that come with a condo building for less than the cost of a hotel room and without the steep hotel taxes. Washington Post September 18, 2017 CondoNest https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/where-we-live/wp/2017/09/18/money-and-liability-are-among-issues-driving-the-d-c-airbnb-bill/?utm_term=.ae6c2c57293d
The owner/host makes much more on a short-term rental than an annual lease, or in many cases, earns additional income to subsidize a mortgage by occasionally renting a room.
Last year, Airbnb hosts in D.C. made an average of $5,800 and the District wants its cut.
In a condominium setting, the dilemma of the constant revolving door is whether an individual resident’s financial gain is worth the significant risk and liability that short-term rentals pose to the association.
For starters, most condo bylaws in the District expressly prohibit short-term rentals and often require a minimum 12-month lease term. The same bylaws typically preclude owners from using a unit for transient, hotel or commercial purposes. Condo rules also generally require that all rental agreements be in writing with a copy of the lease provided to the board for its review and approval.
A condo association’s aversion to Airbnb and other short-term rental programs is rooted in concerns over increased rule violations, damage and noise complaints. The reality is short-term visitors — vacationers — are less invested in the long-term security and well-being of a building. A steady stream of strangers reduces a condo community’s sense of safety and creates actual wear and tear by thoughtless guests who are there one day and gone the next.
In condo communities, owners who participate in home-sharing practices aren’t just renting out the four walls of their unit, but in effect, all the shared common areas like the hallways, lobby, rooftop, pool, gym and garage.
Liability cases have clogged our courts, and unless you’re an insurance professional, insurance is complicated. You never know if your coverage is adequate until you file a claim. While Airbnb rentals are a newer phenomenon, insurance companies looking to minimize their liability and pay as little as possible on a claim is as old as time. Most homeowner’s policies have a business activity exclusion, so when a neighbor rents his or her unit for even a night, it’s no longer considered a residential use but a commercial use.
In the eyes of the insurance company, it’s no different from a hotel. My association’s master insurance policy specifically excludes short-term rentals. When our board called to inquire about getting the business activity exclusion removed, the insurance rate would have increased by more than 20 percent, which for a small, four-unit building is consequential. Yet adding the expensive short-term rental coverage may still not be enough.
Our insurance agent told us that he’d be happy to sell us the coverage but a claim would probably be denied because our bylaws restrict short-term rentals. He likened it to carrying insurance for a swimming pool that we didn’t have. Washington Post September 18, 2017 CondoNest https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/where-we-live/wp/2017/09/18/money-and-liability-are-among-issues-driving-the-d-c-airbnb-bill/?utm_term=.ae6c2c57293d
The only way he could guarantee coverage is if we went through the legal process of changing and recording our bylaws to allow for short-term rentals.
A call to action
Despite the significant risks, short-term rentals and home-sharing sites are pervasive. Some unit owners may not be fully aware of the condo rules and woefully unaware of the insurance risk. Others may choose to ignore the rules because of the lucrative income potential. Still others may not know their long-term tenant is secretly subletting their home on Airbnb and other sites.
Condo associations, frustrated neighbors and the city government, however, are taking notice and attempting to police short-term rentals. Condo boards are dishing out substantial fines per infraction and seeking legal action to permanently restrict short-term rentals in their buildings.
Representatives from Airbnb, as well as other critics of the Airbnb bill, say the proposed law goes too far and is too restrictive, but if the proposed bill forces a conversation and an awareness of the risk and liability that exist, then it’s already been successful.
Timur Loynab is a vice president with the McWilliams Ballard condo resales division in Washington.
October 7th, 2017
Buying New: 11Park in Northwest Washington
By Michele Lerner
Converted from a former office building, the 32 condos at 11Park, 1628 11th St. NW in Washington, include 24 flats and eight townhouses.
The two-level townhouses are accessible only from an interior corridor, not the street. The original lower floors of the building were preserved.
The building has 20 garage parking spaces, priced at $40,000 to $50,000, accessed by an auto lift elevator from the alley behind the condo.
The living rooms have open floor plans and floor-to-ceiling windows. Washington Post 10.07.17 https://www.washingtonpost.com/realestate/buying-new--11park-in-northwest-washington/2017/10/02/42796316-a514-11e7-ade1-76d061d56efa_gallery.html?utm_term=.322ba0d57489
The units have wide-plank flooring and high ceilings.
The kitchens have imported cabinetry in a light or dark palette.
The kitchen has a niche for the dining area, Caesarstone counters and upgraded appliances.
The unit has a stacked washer and dryer in the hallway.
The units have one to three bedrooms with double closets.
The bedroom is in the interior of the unit and has a narrow window to bring in light from the living area, plus a sliding barn door with frosted glass. Washington Post 10.07.17 https://www.washingtonpost.com/realestate/buying-new--11park-in-northwest-washington/2017/10/02/42796316-a514-11e7-ade1-76d061d56efa_gallery.html?utm_term=.322ba0d57489
The bathroom has a glass-enclosed shower.
The bathroom has built-in shelving.
Located between Logan Circle and Shaw, 11Park residents can easily walk to restaurants, shops and nightlife on 14th Street NW, to a park across the street from the building, to nightlife on U Street, to the 9:30 Club and other venues in Shaw and to Logan Circle.
A few blocks to the west are Le Diplomate and Pearl Dive Oyster Palace, and a few blocks to the south are El Sol, a well-reviewed Mexican taqueria; and numerous restaurants and galleries near the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.
July 27, 2017
DC is No. 1 for residential flips. How to protect yourself from a flop
By Jeff Clabaugh Buyers inspired by the proliferation of renovate-to-sell cable TV shows should beware of a few costly shortcuts if they're looking for a quick return-on-investment. (Thinkstock)
WASHINGTON — The District now ranks No. 1 in the nation for the percentage of residential real estate being flipped, or purchased by investors, renovated and then resold, according to ATTOM Data Solutions.
Maryland now ranks No. 5.
Much of that multi-unit row house and condo flipping is being done by seasoned investors and high-volume developers. A shiny, newly-renovated, property, even at a lofty price, can look like a move-in ready dream to buyers.
Some of that flipping also is being done by individual buyers looking for a quick return on their investments, inspired by the proliferation of renovate-to-sell cable shows, and that raises the risk of corner-cutting and shoddy work.
For buyers, that can mean costly, or even dangerous shortcuts.
But in an environment of bidding wars, multiple offers and, especially in the District, sellers who aren’t all that interested in contingencies, some buyers may be tempted to forgo due diligence. Despite the pressure to get the best offer in front of sellers, that is still a mistake.
“Once you go through settlement, it’s like you’ve sealed the deal,” Jordan Aquino at McWilliams Ballard in D.C. told WTOP.
“If it’s a flipped home that’s general resale, you’re stuck with it,” he said.
Buyers, even in a heated multiple-offer bidding war, do have a small window to get a proper look under the hood.
“What we find our clients doing is getting an inspector before the offers are actually due,” Aquino said. “It can be done. Usually, they give you at least a week’s span, so that should give you time to find a really well-qualified inspector.” WTOP.com July 27, 2017 http://wtop.com/business-finance/2017/07/dc-is-no-1-for-residential-flips-how-to-protect-yourself-from-a-flop/
He said the most egregious flipping shortcuts involve work that is not done up to code or by licensed contractors, shoddy electrical and plumbing that’s easily hidden behind fresh dry wall and a new coat of paint, and bad utility metering in multi-unit renovations.
According to ATTOM Data Solutions, the 10.7 percent of residential sales in the District in the first quarter were flips, and 8.5 percent in Maryland were flipped properties.
July 18, 2017
How to Win Over Pet Owners When Selling Your Home
The right way to sell a pet-friendly home.
By Helen Anne Travis Traditional real estate wisdom says to hide all traces of pets when selling your home. Heaven forbid a potential buyer steps on an errant chew toy or discovers where you hide the litter box.
However, as more pet owners proudly show off their adoration for their pets, developers, realtors and sellers are realizing that highlighting a home or community’s pet-friendly features can bring big returns.
Take the builders at Standard Pacific Homes, who made a big splash a few years ago when they announced they were building homes with 170-square-foot “pet spas,” complete with food and water stations, flat screen TVs and special French doors opening to a private puppy run. The spas were reported to increase the homes’ value by as much as $35,000.
Today, even condo associations are getting in on the pet fun, says Valerie Grange, a sales manager with Alexandria, Virginia-based McWilliams/Ballard real estate sales and marketing firm. Gone are the days when breed and weight restrictions sidelined pet owners to stand-alone homes, Grange, who specializes in working with pet owners, says. The condo buildings she sees now offer everything from rooftop dog washing stations and community “yappy hours” to amenities like in-house pet acupuncture and massage services.
“These days, a lot of buyers are looking specifically for pet-friendly properties,” she says.
Below, learn more about how to appeal to pet owners when selling your home. PawCulture.com July 18, 2017 http://www.pawculture.com/lifestyle/home/how-to-win-over-pet-owners-when-selling-your-home/
Work with a Pet-Friendly Agent
Seeing a unique opportunity, agents like Grange are developing a niche among pet owners. They team up with local groomers, veterinarians and trainers to cultivate a strong network of animal-loving buyers and sellers.
Working with a realtor who specializes in pet-friendly properties can be a huge help when listing your home. And if you can’t find one locally, don’t despair. It’s simply a matter of educating your current agent on why your home will appeal to fellow pet owners and asking him or her to call this out in the listing, says Grange.
Lisa Groover, another Arlington-based real estate agent who specializes in working with pet owners, recommends highlighting the home and neighborhood’s amenities for animals in a tip sheet that can be passed out at open houses. Include information like the home’s proximity to dog parks and pet-friendly restaurants and breweries, as well as contact information for local breed meet-ups and recommended veterinarians and trainers. This kind of information can give your agent an in with potential buyers.
“Highlighting a home or neighborhood’s pet-friendly qualities starts a conversation,” she says.
Don’t Forget to Clean
One of the biggest factors when selling a home is cleanliness, says Groover. Even the most devoted animal lover doesn’t want to see chewed up baseboards or smell your cat’s litter boxes.
“Even though you’re appealing to pet owners, no one wants to see a house that’s in disrepair because of a pet,” she says.
Desare Kohn-Laski, broker/owner of Skye Louis Realty in Coconut Creek, Florida, recommends replacing your home’s existing carpet to remove any lingering pet odors. Painting the walls will also help remove odors and hide scuffmarks. Go with a neutral color, she says, to make the home even more appealing to potential buyers.
Give all rugs and furniture a thorough vacuum before showings, she says, and don’t forget the outside of the home. Walk along the fence to make sure there are no holes or loose boards through which a new owner’s dog could escape. Replace any dead patches in the lawn with soil and fresh grass and, while you’re at it, give the yard a good poop scoop, she says.
“Viewers will always want to walk around the lawn and nothing could send them running faster than stepping on a land mine your fur baby left behind,” says Kohn-Laski.
Before the open house, Grange recommends what she calls a “friends and family test.” Invite someone you trust who doesn’t have a pet over for an honest smell test, she says.
Staging is Everything
Showing off your home’s pet-friendly attributes can go a long way in appealing to pet owners and landing a sale.
Grange says a few well-placed puppy portraits will appeal to pet owners, and stickers alerting police and fire rescue that animals are in the home show how much you care and will pull on fellow pet owners’ heartstrings.
While you don’t want to leave out a bowl of half-eaten food or a dirty litter box, defining a space for these pet stations can spark the imagination of a potential buyer, says Karen Gray Plaisted, a professional home stager in Warwick, New York. PawCulture.com July 18, 2017 http://www.pawculture.com/lifestyle/home/how-to-win-over-pet-owners-when-selling-your-home/
“Having a place for an animal to call its own can be very appealing to pet owners,” she says. “Whether it is a niche under a stairwell, or space under built-in shelves.”
Additional amenities like hardwood floors and pet doors are big selling points for dog owners, says Cedric Stewart, a residential and commercial sales consultant in Rockville, Maryland. Cat owners will appreciate deep windowsills or a few strategically placed window seats, he says.
Another big draw for pet owners, especially dog lovers, is space, says Kohn-Laski.
“The bigger the living area the better,” she says. “Any way a homeowner can remove coffee tables, side tables or any piece of furniture to make the room look more spacious is recommended.”
If your home doesn’t already have these features and installing them is not an option before you move, get a few quotes on how much additions or repairs would cost, Groover recommends. This empowers your agent to quickly ease any concerns that your home isn’t pet-friendly enough.
“You can tell buyers ‘it’s going to cost X, don’t let it hold you back’,” she says.
July 4, 2017
Renovated Victorian rowhouse in D.C.’s Logan Circle lists for $1.995 million
Where We Live
By Michele Lerner The renovated Victorian rowhouse at 1619 13th St. NW has five bedrooms, five bathrooms and five fireplaces. (HomeVisit)
While modern condos and apartments and hip restaurants can be found in abundance along 14th Street in Logan Circle, the Victorian rowhouses along nearby streets remind visitors that this part of Northwest Washington has a long history.
The renovated rowhouse at 1619 13th St. NW, priced at $1.995 million, was built in 1886 and retains its original plaster moldings, stained-glass windows in the front sitting room, banisters, two skylights and a dumbwaiter installed by the first owners of the property.
The house has 10-foot-high ceilings and hardwood floors throughout the 3,400-square-foot interior, which has five bedrooms, five bathrooms, five fireplaces and a landscaped garden with a deck.
The master bedroom suite on the top floor has a private balcony and the lower level includes an in-law suite with a full kitchen and a separate entrance. In addition to the main kitchen, which has a professional-grade gas stove, quartz counters, two sinks and a wine cooler, the formal dining room has a pantry with space for preparing food when entertaining.
The current owner of the property leases a parking space for $250 a month at nearby Logan Station, and the buyer will have the option to continue renting the space.
For more photos, click here.
For more information, contact John Guggenmos, a vice president of McWilliams Ballard at 202-716-9640.
June 27, 2017
Realtor Q&A: Are sales skills transferable?
By Dave Facinoli
Would real estate agents do well other types of sales? The Sun Gazette asked some local agents that question. Here are their answers:
Billy Buck, Buck & Associates: “Good listening is the key for any kind of sales job. If you believe in and are convincing about your product, then it doesn’t matter if you are selling ice or yo-yos.”
Dawn Wilson, Keller Williams: “Being a good real estate salesperson takes some of the same skills that are required for other types of sales. Most importantly, you need to be a good listener and to understand your clients’ needs and what they want to achieve, and be able to help them get to the end result they want. Being good at communication, being positive, being professional, being responsive, being determined, being good at follow-through and not being easily discouraged are skills that good real estate salespeople have and are also transferable to other types of sales.”
Jane Price, Weichert: “Real-estate sales skills are transferable, particularly having in-depth product knowledge, identifying client goals and needs, building a client base, knowing marketing and maintaining professional standards.”
Karen Close, Century 21: “I’m not sure it’s really about selling. It’s more of a human touch and building relationships with people. It’s a knowledge of the whole process, sharing that knowledge and building trust are the most important things in any types of sales.”
Stacy Hennessey, McEnearney Associates: “If you’re passionate about your product, whether it be selling a home or fund-raising for a charity, you’ll be successful. People recognize honesty and passion.” Sun Gazette/ INSIDE NOVA June 27, 2017 http://www.insidenova.com/news/arlington/realtor-q-a-are-sales-skills-transferable/article_795e104e-5aa4-11e7-a02d- 6f41f339c1d9.html
Renee Fisher, McEnearney Associates: “Being a successful real-estate professional, like being successful in any other sales profession, is about creating relationships. And the foundation of any relationship is trust. Realtors can learn new skills that are required for other types of sales, but the ability to create a relationship is the common thread.”
Lori Shafran, Yeonas and Shafran Real Estate: “The short answer is yes. To be successful in sales you have to have a strong sense of empathy and have a sincere desire to serve others. You have to be a very specific listener to what they need and deliver what they want. The customer-satisfaction side is huge.”
Craig Mastrangelo, Re/Max Allegiance: “Regardless of the product (i.e. real estate, software, staffing, etc.), a salesperson must first use their knowledge of their market/discipline to attract clients and then create an environment in which they sell themselves and create a professional relationship in which the client feels they are getting value for the sales services being provided. These inherent sales skills exist in many different types of sales. It is up to the salesperson to successfully implement them so they create a stream of steady business to be successful.”
John Mentis, Long and Foster: “I think good sales people are good sales people, if they can match up clients’ need with the products they need.”
Betsy Twigg, Washington Fine Properties: “Yes, because good selling involves relationships with people, gaining their confidence and trust and being very honest and forthcoming. Then, they will trust you are selling a good product.”
Casey Margenau, Casey Margenau Fine Homes & Estates: “Yes, of course. Sales is sales, but when you are talking about real estate, that is a much longer process. Other things, like automobiles and shoes, is a much faster process. The skills you learn in sales help you to be able to cross-sell. But if you sell real estate the way you sell other products, you can be successful in the short term, but not the long term.”
Dean Yeonas, Yeonas and Shafran Real Estate: “It could be. Selling real estate is more of a consultation and advising process than selling. If you are a successful real estate agent that skill set is transferable because of your attention to details and your social skills and how to relate to people.”
Karen Briscoe, Huckaby Briscoe Group: “Like the Frank Sinatra song, ‘New York, New York.’ If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere. I think it is the same in sales. If you can make it in real estate, those tend to stay in real estate, but you would be able to sell other products.” Ann Wilson, Keller Williams: “You are kind of born to be a salesperson and it takes a certain personality. It would be fun to own a small boutique. If you have a gift for gab, you can sell.” Sun Gazette/ INSIDE NOVA June 27, 2017 http://www.insidenova.com/news/arlington/realtor-q-a-are-sales-skills-transferable/article_795e104e-5aa4-11e7-a02d- 6f41f339c1d9.html
Gloria Adams, TTR Sothebys International Realty: “Yes. It’s all about the basic concepts of customer service and personal relationships 101. You meet people, have patience and understanding with them, and find out what they want.”
Mark Middendorf, Long & Foster: “I definitely think sales is a people business that is transferable. It’s a matter of learning the product. Also, what it boils down to the most is people-skills and being efficient, organized, a good listener, knowing what you are doing, and knowing the next step before it gets there.”
Jack Shafran, Yeonas and Shafran Real Estate: “Servicing people is a skill set that leads to success. If you are selling cars, tires or fish at a fish market, if you are servicing people right, they will come back to you.”
Casey Samson, Samson Properties: “Being a Realtor requires a diverse skill set, and it either clicks or it doesn’t. Realtors are basically hunters and problem-solvers. We hunt for listings, purchasers, homes and solutions. We combine state-of-the-art tools on the Net with old-school, tried-and-tested techniques. We take a huge responsibility when a seller trusts us with their home.”
Rob Ferguson, Re/Max Allegiance: “So much of what we do is relationship-building and fulfilling a need. If you believe in the product you are selling that fills a need for someone, than you can sell it.”
Steve Wydler, Wydler Brothers Real Estate: “That’s an emphatic yes. Being in real estate sales requires incredible discipline and motivation, and that would transfer to other sales skills, as well as other types of work. If you don’t have ambition and self-motivation, you will not achieve anything.”
Carol Ellickson, TTR Sotheby’s International: “Negotiating the large and little things in everyday life requires that we first communicate – and continue to sharpen our communication skills that are so important as the first step in any negotiation. Yet, we must always be mindful that the first rule of negotiation is to work on and protect our relationships with others. These skills are transferable to other sales fields.”
Carol Temple, Coldwell Banker: “The ability to anticipate and work defensively for your client is a trait that top-performing Realtors should possess. A second important skill is a heightened ability to manage an overload of details. A third is the ability to defuse emotionally charged situations. All of these should serve a salesperson well, regardless of what they are selling. The secret sauce, though, is passion about what you are doing. Truth is that I would not be terribly passionate about selling printer toner. It would show and I would get fired.”
Diane Lewis, Washington Fine Properties: “A background in real-estate sales is a great background for any sales position. It prepares you for long hours, a need for good time-management, attention to details and, most importantly, care and compassion to your clients.” Sun Gazette/ INSIDE NOVA June 27, 2017 http://www.insidenova.com/news/arlington/realtor-q-a-are-sales-skills-transferable/article_795e104e-5aa4-11e7-a02d- 6f41f339c1d9.html
Joan Stansfield, Keller Williams: “Stripped down, sales skills are the same no matter the industry. Consistent service and communications based on relationship skills has been critical to my success. These people and service skills would transition well to positions like orchestrating and serving people and events where there are big emotions and lots of varying people with -different personalities and goals.”
Natalie Roy, Keller Williams: “Selling real estate is a great way to build and improve sales skills in any field. These skills include being customer-focused, tracking the latest trends, adapting to a fast-paced environment, staying updated on the latest technologies and sales techniques and, of course, the ever important multi-tasking. Even in the 21st century with the wide range of technology available, the most effective sales technique is person-to-person interaction.” Barbara Lewis, Washington Fine Properties: “Actually, everyone is in sales. Doctors sell themselves to patients and want them to return, lawyers sell themselves to attract clients, stores have employees greet customers so they will want to do business in the store, we are all in sales. Real estate is unique in that agents are independent contractors and therefore have a lot of flexibility in running their own businesses. Long hours, compassion and attention to details are what it takes to succeed in every profession.”
Valerie Grange, McWilliams Ballard condo resales division: “Both an art and a science, success in any form of sales simply requires the perfect balance of people skills and the practical application of meeting a client’s top needs, goals and desires. Especially in real estate, if you can help someone with the most important purchase in their lives, you can most definitely assist them with any other endeavor.”
Timur Loynab, McWilliams Ballard condo resales division: “I absolutely believe that the skill set that one obtains as a real estate agent is transferable. The bedrock of a successful real estate career is the ability to build relationships and in the process earn the trust, confidence and loyalty of clients/customers. Successful sales people must be able to articulate and present themselves and their product thoughtfully, competently and compellingly.”
June 20, 2017
A newly built condo isn’t for everyone. But if you’re leaning in that direction, here’s what you should know.
Where We Live | Analysis
By Timur Loynab
Over the past few years, the District has seen an increase in newly constructed condo buildings. (Benjamin C. Tankersley for The Washington Post)
The Washington condo market is red-hot, and there are no signs that it’s cooling anytime soon.
Consistently high demand coupled with a lack of compelling resale supply — particularly in the District’s sought-after neighborhoods such as Logan Circle and Shaw — have ushered in a new norm of deadlines, multiple offers and bidding wars.
While sellers have, understandably, embraced the current market dynamic, it has left a lot of buyers scrambling and demoralized. These are buyers who have gone through several iterations of offer submissions. They’ve stripped their offers of contingencies: financing, appraisal and even home inspection. They’ve included escalation clauses at $10K, $20K, $50K or more above asking price. They’ve done all of this in hopes of submitting the most competitive offer possible, yet they still find themselves outbid and outmaneuvered. For those who’ve been shut out of the condo resale market, new construction may be the solution.
New construction removes the urgency of having to make snap purchase decisions that sometimes compel buyers to pay well above list prices and waive protections such as home inspections. The typical condo resale experience in our current market goes something like this: Property goes live on Thursday; open house is on Sunday; deadline for offers is on Tuesday; offer rejection comes on Wednesday.
In new construction, there isn’t the same feeding frenzy over one unit. New construction condo projects usually consist of multiple units with similar floor plans and features. The Washington Post June 20, 2017 https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/where-we-live/wp/2017/06/20/a-newly-built-condo-isnt-for-everyone-but-if-youre-leaning-in-that-direction-heres-what-you-should-know/?utm_term=.0af5637deec5
If you lose out on one unit, then there’s probably another comparable unit elsewhere in the building. And because buyers aren’t competing for a single unit, bidding wars and multiple offers are rare in new construction. In fact, there are usually more opportunities for price negotiations and incentives in new construction than in resales.
New construction is not without risk. For starters, new construction is notorious for delays. There are so many variables that can affect a project’s delivery date, from weather to contractors to the city’s bureaucracy and agency backlogs. Buyers of new construction often find themselves planning and then readjusting their lives around tentative delivery dates. It’s important to understand that delivery dates are often moving targets, so buyers should have a contingency plan. For those who do have timing flexibility and value price certainty, then new construction is a good alternative.
There’s also a fear factor in purchasing something that doesn’t exist yet. While it’s easy to be drawn to the “new” in new construction and the opportunities for customization that it can sometimes afford from the selection of finishes to moving or deleting walls, new construction can be unnerving.
As any homeowner will attest, homeownership — new or resale — is a leap of faith. But having the luxury of time to conduct due diligence without the pressures of the deadlines, competing offers, bidding wars and risky concessions that are commonplace in today’s resale market can be reassuring. In the District, buyers have the added benefit of a legally mandatory 15-day cancellation period when they go under contract for a new construction purchase compared to the three-day period for condo resales. This can make buying off floor plans while a project is under construction less daunting.
The do’s and don’ts of new construction
•It’s important to identify who the key players are in a condo project. Prospective buyers of new construction should ask about the developer, the architect and the construction company collaborating on the project as these players are not interchangeable.
•Developers rarely have their own construction arms, so they routinely hire a third-party company to do the physical construction of the building. Buyers should ask the listing agent for developer, construction company and architect references, while inquiring: What are some other projects that this trio, either collectively or individually, has done in the past? Buyers can research and even visit examples of past projects to get a better sense of the style and quality of work.
•If a project is under construction, then buyers can request a hard-hat tour and make periodic hard-hat visits to the building. These visits can be especially helpful in providing buyers with a more tangible home-buying experience. This not only allows buyers to see the bones of their new home and how it’s being constructed, but can also help them gauge construction progress and timeline. Consider it a red flag if there are no opportunities for hard-hat tours or there is resistance on the part of a developer to entertain that request. The Washington Post June 20, 2017 https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/where-we-live/wp/2017/06/20/a-newly-built-condo-isnt-for-everyone-but-if-youre-leaning-in-that-direction-heres-what-you-should-know/?utm_term=.0af5637deec5
•Buyers shouldn’t rely on floor plans alone as they are for illustrative purposes only. Read the fine print and review the architectural plans which are the definitive source for measurements and detail the layouts for your new condo. Architectural plans are usually kept on site in the construction office, though listing agents may have a copy in their sales offices as well. Buyers should review these plans or find someone knowledgeable to help them navigate the plans. Buyers should take care to request the final, approved plans that have been submitted to the city.
•Buyers should make sure that they receive a schedule of finishes for their new condo that clearly spells out what finishes (size, style, brand) their home is to receive. This schedule of finishes should be included in the purchase contract and initialed by both parties as acknowledgment that this has been received and agreed to. This is actually useful for both parties because it eliminates any uncertainty about finishes and sets clear expectations on that front.
Timur Loynab is a vice president with McWilliams Ballard in Washington.