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by Borderstan Sponsor — December 15, 2016 at 1:45 pm 0

SlateProperties Inside Real Estate

This is a sponsored column written by Kevin J. Wood, a licensed Realtor© in the District of Columbia and surrounding area. For more information on buying or selling a property, feel free to contact Kevin at 202-297-9753 or email him.

The residential neighborhood in Northwest Washington, Cleveland Park, is bounded by Rock Creek Park to the east, Wisconsin Avenue to the west, Klingle Road to the south and Rodman Street to the north. The two main commercial corridors in the neighborhood are Connecticut Wisconsin avenues.

The neighborhood was named Cleveland Park in 1886 when President Grover Cleveland bought a farmhouse that was used as a summer estate, which he named Oak View. The higher elevation of Cleveland Park provided cooler temperatures from the hot summers in downtown Washington. Many of the original houses in the area were originally built as summer homes — many built with large porches and expansive windows. The creation of the streetcar along Wisconsin Avenue spurred the commercial development to serve the nearby residents.

Numerous associations serve the residents of Cleveland Park including the Cleveland Park Citizens Association, Cleveland Park Historical Society and Cleveland Park Club.

Cleveland Park

by Borderstan Sponsor — December 8, 2016 at 1:15 pm 0

SlateProperties Inside Real Estate

This is a sponsored column written by Kevin J. Wood, a licensed Realtor© in the District of Columbia and surrounding area. For more information on buying or selling a property, feel free to contact Kevin at 202-297-9753 or email him.

Brookland is sometimes referred to as “Little Rome” for the many religious institutions nearby.

This residential neighborhood is centered along 12th Street NE. Technically, it’s bordered by 9th Street the west, Rhode Island Avenue to the south, and South Dakota Avenue to the east.

The name comes from Colonel Jehiel Brooks, who married Ann Margaret Queen, the daughter of the owner of the 150-acre estate where the neighborhood sits today.

The area remained farmland for much of the 19th century. Then, after the civil war, the population of Washington grew and so did people looking for land out in the country. Homes were eventually marketed as providing a “small town atmosphere”. The introduction and expansion of D.C. streetcar helped shape this middle-class suburb of Washington.

Over the last decade, Brookland has continued to evolve with redevelopment, new housing options, retail and restaurants. Most notably, Monroe Street Market was developed by Abdo Development in 2010. It was finished in 2014 and is a mixed-use development with retail, housing, and restaurants.

Brookland, Slate Properties

by Borderstan Sponsor — November 3, 2016 at 12:35 pm 0

SlateProperties Inside Real Estate

This is a sponsored column written by Kevin J. Wood, a licensed Realtor© in the District of Columbia and surrounding area. For more information on buying or selling a property, feel free to contact Kevin at 202-297-9753 or email him.

The residential neighborhood of Southwest Washington (the smallest quadrant in the District) has an interesting past and is currently undergoing a major revitalization. The neighborhood is bounded by 395 to the north, the Washington Channel to the west, the Anacostia River to the south, and the South Capitol Street to the east. 

The Southwest Waterfront was part of Pierre L’Enfant original master plan for DC and includes historical sites such as Fort McNair that was established in 1791. After the civil war, the area became home of poorer residents with a mix of eastern European immigrants and freed slaves. The commercial area was located at the waterfront and became a thriving waterfront with stores and shops – although most of the neighborhood was tenement housing.

The 1950s brought the controversial “urban renewal” which permitted the city to essentially start from scratch with a new master plan – only a few buildings remained after urban renewal. Most notably, the fish market, Wheat Row, Thomas Law House, and the St Dominic’s Catholic Church.

Today, the Southwest Waterfront is comprised of many large condominiums, cooperatives, and apartment buildings — many include both townhouses and apartment buildings. Many of the existing properties are from the modernist period of the 1950s and 1960s. Since the early 2000s, the Southwest Waterfront has begun gentrifying with major renovations at many of the large apartment and condominium communities.

The waterfront itself is undergoing a multi-billion dollar revitalization with the new Wharf Development by PN Hoffman and Madison Marquette. The mixed-use project will include office, residential , hotels, entertainment, and outdoor public spaces.

The learn more about the neighborhood and its history, visit a neighborhood blog: “Southwest… The Little Quadrant That Could.”

sw-waterfront-20-year

by Borderstan Sponsor — October 13, 2016 at 12:30 pm 0

SlateProperties Inside Real Estate

This is a sponsored column written by Kevin J. Wood, a licensed Realtor© in the District of Columbia and surrounding area. For more information on buying or selling a property, feel free to contact Kevin at 202-297-9753 or email him.

Mount Pleasant, the residential neighborhood in Northwest Washington, is bordered by Rock Creek Park to the north and west, Harvard Street to the south, and 16th Street the east.

Mount Pleasant Farmers Market, photo via Wikimedia CommonsOriginally part of the Pleasant Plains neighborhood of D.C., Mount Pleasant Village (as it was called) came about during the Civil War when Samuel P. Brown bought approximately 73 acres of land. Although part of the District, it was considered very rural. The designed street grid of Mt. Pleasant is different than other parts of the District.

The majority of houses and apartment houses in Mount Pleasant were built between 1900-1925. Accordingly, the Mount Pleasant Library was built in 1925 with funds from philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.

Mount Pleasant was marketed to middle to upper class people and was the home of such celebrities as Helen Hayes, Walter Johnson, and Robert LaFollette. In the 1960s, the neighborhood underwent transition with an influx of Central American immigrants. Many of the new residents opened businesses that catered to Hispanics with a thriving commercial corridor.

Today, Mount Pleasant is a active vibrant neighborhood with diverse cultures and a true sense of community. You can learn more about the Mount Pleasant Neighborhood and the community by clicking here.

mount-pleasant-slate-properties

by Borderstan Sponsor — September 29, 2016 at 2:00 pm 2 Comments

SlateProperties Inside Real Estate

This is a sponsored column written by Kevin J. Wood, a licensed Realtor© in the District of Columbia and surrounding area. For more information on buying or selling a property, feel free to contact Kevin at 202-297-9753 or email him.

I remember the first time I saw a D.C. flag tattoo. I was working out at Results (now Vida) on U Street, and there was a guy with it tattooed on his calf. This was probably in about 1999, and I thought it was the coolest thing. I had never seen something like that before.

Flash forward to 2016 and the D.C. flag tattoo is everywhere. It seems like every other 20 to 30 something has one. There are even variants of it. The variants usually involve changing the three stars to other symbols. I’ve seen the stars replaced by maple leaves, marijuana leaves, dachshunds, plain circles and more.

I was wondering recently what this means for the future of real estate in D.C.

People like repeating myths about D.C., like that it was built on a swamp (maybe a few areas around the Mall/Foggy Bottom were, but not much else) and that D.C. is a transient city (ignoring the fact that D.C. is more than just NW).

Does the fact that so many young professionals have taken the step to have the flag of the city they live in tattooed on their bodies bode well for the long term growth of D.C. and the real estate market overall? Are they more likely to stay in D.C., and eventually buy real estate and settle here long-term? I’d be interested in your thoughts.

This time of year, people invariably ask if the election means a busy time for me. Their thinking is that because there are new Congress people and senators, along with their staffs, that there’s a big bump in sales.

Unfortunately, I’ve never seen a correlation between the general election and increased volume in D.C. There are only 100 senators, and only a third are up for election per cycle. More representatives are up for election but the combined number of senators and Congress people is relatively low.

I haven’t read any figures on this topic, but most members of the House of Representatives likely don’t buy in D.C., since they are up for reelection every two years. They have families and a house in their home district already, and D.C. is expensive. Senators are here for longer, but there are relatively few of them.

The Republican senators likely live in places like McLean and other Virginia suburbs. Democratic senators are more likely to live in D.C., but again, there aren’t very many senators. Their staffs will probably find it hard to afford D.C. on a congressional salary.

Thoughts?

by Borderstan Sponsor — September 15, 2016 at 1:15 pm 0

SlateProperties Inside Real Estate

This is a sponsored column written by Kevin J. Wood, a licensed Realtor© in the District of Columbia and surrounding area. For more information on buying or selling a property, feel free to contact Kevin at 202-297-9753 or email him.

Given the competitive real estate market and possibility of a multiple-offer situation, buyers are encouraged to consider all their options in preparing and presenting the strongest offer possible. Naturally, every real estate transaction is unique but there are five general ways you can put your best foot forward. Of course, your Slate Properties Buyer’s Agent will walk you through these strategies and discuss the pros and cons:

1. Loan Approval: Having your financing as secure as possible is one of the most important strategies. If you have been approved for the loan and simply waiting for title logistics, there is much less risk involved for the seller. Our market experiences a significant number of cash transactions and this is one way you are able to stay in the game.

2. Flexible Settlement Terms: If you are able to be flexible with the settlement date, this might be an advantageous term for the seller — especially if they are in the process of finding their new home. Some buyers offer a “rent-back” to the seller to accommodate their personal situation. Although the contract allows the buyer to select the settlement company, sometimes the seller has a strong preference and it might be worth inquiring.

3. Closing Costs: As with most things in real estate — closing costs are negotiable. Are you willing to pay some or all of the closing costs that the seller is responsible for? You would want to agree upon a “capped” amount so you are not stuck paying more than you anticipated.

4. Minimize Contingencies: After sale price, sellers will find an offer with limited contingencies the most attractive. Common contingencies include: home Inspection, appraisal and financing.

5. Escalation Clause: This tool is used when buyers are very serious about a property and want to prevent being out-bid from the beginning. The escalation clause states that your sale price will increase a certain amount above other offers not to exceed a certain point. The important consideration is that you are comfortable moving forward if the contract price escalates to your maximum.

Take a deep breath and good luck with your offer!

by Borderstan Sponsor — August 18, 2016 at 1:30 pm 0

SlateProperties Inside Real Estate

This is a sponsored column written by Kevin J. Wood, a licensed Realtor© in the District of Columbia and surrounding area. For more information on buying or selling a property, feel free to contact Kevin at 202-297-9753 or email him.

I recently sat down with a well-known D.C.. lender, David Toaff of First Home Mortgage, to talk about programs for home buyers in the District. Here’s what David had to say:

What benefits are there for first time homebuyers in D.C.?

There are several benefits available, such as the D.C. Homestead Tax Deduction, The D.C. Tax Abatement Program and D.C. Open Doors.

The D.C. Homestead Tax Deduction is a monthly property tax break of just over $50.00/month, just for occupying the property. D.C. Tax Abatement relieves low-moderate income borrowers from any property taxes for 5 years, transfer taxes AND has the seller’s transfer tax credited to them at closing. Income/sales price limits apply!

D.C. Open Doors offers down payment assistance in the form of a 0% interest, deferred loan that is fully forgiven after five years. It also allows for reduced mortgage insurance. Income and credit limitations apply. Maximum first mortgage is $417,000.

D.C. Open Doors can actually be used by anyone who doesn’t own other property at the time the loan closes; there’s no requirement to be a first time homebuyer!

Can buyers take advantage of the D.C. Open Doors program with a co-signer?

You absolutely can by using the D.C. Open Doors’ FHA program. A credit score of 640 is required for all applicants. You can also purchase a multi-unit property with the D.C. Open Doors’ FHA product

Are buyers not allowed to sell or refinance for 5 years, if I use D.C. Open Doors?

No. They simply would have to pay back the remaining portion of the second loan that they still owe, if they do so before five years is over.

What’s the minimum downpayment a buyer can do in D.C.?

Assuming a sales price of $429,896 or less, they can do zero down.

Is it worth saving up more money instead of using a down payment assistance program?

If a buyer is looking in an area where property values are appreciating significantly and is capable of buying now, waiting would be a real financial detriment to them. The loss of enjoyment of appreciation would be a shame.

Can buyers still find a somewhat affordable home in D.C.?

Yes. Although many neighborhoods are extremely expensive, a good realtor can help you find some affordable gems.

David Toaff is a local, licensed residential loan officer with First Home Mortgage and lives in Dupont Circle, D.C. He also enjoys real estate investment and investing in the stock and bond markets. He can be reached on his cell at 610-348-3772 or by e-mail at [email protected]

This is a sponsored column written by Kevin J. Wood, a licensed Realtor© in the District of Columbia and surrounding area. For more information on buying or selling a property, feel free to contact Kevin at 202-297-9753 or email him.

 

by Borderstan Sponsor — August 4, 2016 at 12:45 pm 0

SlateProperties Inside Real Estate

This is a sponsored column written by Kevin J. Wood, a licensed Realtor© in the District of Columbia and surrounding area. For more information on buying or selling a property, feel free to contact Kevin at 202-297-9753 or email him.

Real estate agents (and the brokers with whom they are licensed) are usually paid a commission. A commission is a fee, often calculated as a percentage of a home’s sale price, paid to a real estate broker. The broker then divides this fee, sharing it with the real estate agent and cooperating broker/agent (if any) in the transaction. An agent skilled in marketing, negotiating, and in closing the transaction often can make you more money than the fees you pay them.

By law, there is no set commission schedule for real estate transactions. Typically, the agent commission is paid by the seller.

How are buyer’s agents compensated?

It used to be that seller-only agency was “customary” in residential real estate. The real estate commission was thought to be paid by the home’s seller, deducted from the home sale proceeds at the time of closing. Real estate agents and brokers represented the interests of the property’s seller; the buyer was unrepresented in the transaction – and usually not even aware that this was the case!

This “conventional wisdom” changed across most of America, during the 1990s: without buyers, nothing sells. The real estate commission is derived from the proceeds of the home sale, and is really paid by both buyer and seller. Both parties are entitled to an “agency relationship,” and the representation it entails.

With the advent of buyer agency, home buyers are now able to be fully represented by a real estate agent in the purchase of property. In most states, it’s rare that buyers would pay their agent/broker directly for services in finding and purchasing a home. If a broker does charge buyers a direct fee, it should be outlined in an exclusive agency agreement that the buyer signs when engaging the broker.

When a buyer is represented by a real estate agent, she/he comes to terms on which services the buyer-client is seeking, and the manner in which the agent will be compensated for providing those services. In most cases, a fee or commission is still derived from the seller’s proceeds of sale, and shared between the seller’s (listing) and buyer’s (selling) agents and brokers.

by Borderstan Sponsor — July 22, 2016 at 12:00 pm 0

SlateProperties Inside Real Estate

This is a sponsored column written by Kevin J. Wood, a licensed Realtor© in the District of Columbia and surrounding area. For more information on buying or selling a property, feel free to contact Kevin at 202-297-9753 or email him.

An attractive, well-maintained home will typically sell faster and for a higher price than a similar home that looks tired or run-down. When you prepare your home for sale, take a critical look at the exterior and interior of your home. Some areas to pay particular attention include:

The Exterior

Obviously, the outside of your home is the first thing buyers see. Make a good first impression. Step back and take an objective look at the exterior of your home. How can you make it more attractive? Review the following suggestions:

  • Keep the lawn cut and the shrubs well trimmed.
  • Remove dead tree limbs and other yard debris.
  • Enliven your landscape with fresh plantings of shrubs or flowers.
  • Arrange outdoor items neatly; put away lawn equipment.
  • Check siding, trim and doors (especially the front door) for dirt and peeling paint; wash or touch up with paint where needed.
  • Inspect the condition of your fence and repair or paint if needed.
  • Repair or replace loose or damaged roof shingles or flashing.
  • Clean and repair broken windows or screens.
  • Clean and neatly arrange the garage or shed.
  • Make sure the gas grill is ready for use, especially in season.
  • Make sure the entry light and doorbell work.

The Interior

Take a look inside your home. Make every room look as organized, bright, and warm as possible. The following suggestions may help:

  • Wash walls, ceiling and trim; if possible, paint with light neutral colors.
  • Repair cracks in plaster.
  • Tighten loose doorknobs, pulls on drawers and cabinets, towel racks, switch plates and outlet covers.
  • Fix sticking doors and windows, squeaking doors and loose stair banisters.
  • Repair and clean caulking around tubs and sinks.
  • Fix leaky faucets; remove water stains.
  • Organize the basement and attic so that they appear as spacious and neat as possible. Discard anything you are not taking with you.
  • Organize closets and remove clutter; limit the number of items stored overhead or on the floor.
  • Organize the contents of kitchen cabinets and remove clutter from kitchen countertops.
  • Shampoo carpets and wax floors.
  • If you have not sprayed (or “bombed”) for bugs lately, now is a good time.
  • Arrange furniture so that the room appears as spacious as possible.
  • Remove items you are planning to take with you, including chandeliers, coordinating drapes, mirrors, etc.

by Borderstan Sponsor — July 7, 2016 at 10:45 am 0

SlateProperties Inside Real Estate

This is a sponsored column written by Kevin J. Wood, a licensed Realtor© in the District of Columbia and surrounding area. For more information on buying or selling a property, feel free to contact Kevin at 202-297-9753 or email him.

Buyers ask their agents all sorts of questions, which is what we’re here for. Most questions are easily answered (How far is the nearest metro stop? What year was the house built? Is the house in an historic district?) Other questions are not answered quite as easily.

I had a client once who wanted to know — seriously — if there was a way to find out if the house he was buying was haunted. I told him he’d have to research that himself. The last time I talked to him he seemed fine and was enjoying his house.

Buyers very often ask if the area they are interested in is safe, which is something real estate agents aren’t legally allowed to discuss. And occasionally I still get questions about an area’s demographics, another subject we’re not allowed to discuss. One thing many buyers want to know is whether the property they’re buying is a good investment.  That’s one of the hardest questions to answer, and something the buyers need to determine for themselves. I usually tell buyers who ask if what they’re buying is a good investment is that I can’t see into the future. Who knows how D.C.’s market will be in 5, 10 or 20 years?

Certain (even most) D.C. neighborhoods have done very, very well over the past 15 years or so.  Logan, Shaw, Columbia Heights, Petworth, Bloomingdale and Eckington are just a few of the neighborhoods where prices are dramatically higher than they were when I started in real estate 13 years ago. The last figure I saw for D.C.’s population growth was something like a 1000 person per month increase, which is a good thing for D.C. property values, and I don’t see signs that’s stopping anytime soon.

I also tell my buyers that their primary concern should be to find a home they want to live in, are happy in, with a monthly payment they can afford in the long term. If their property increases in value over time, all the better.  Sometimes my clients ask me where I would buy if I were buying an investment property for myself.  The answer that question has changed, obviously, over the years.

When Columbia Heights started to boom, I recommended Petworth. When Petworth boomed, I said Brightwood. When Brookland started to take off, I suggested neighboring Woodridge. Now that both neighborhoods seeing tons of renovations and new construction, I’d say that Fort Totten is a great place to buy. East of the river neighborhoods like Congress Heights and Anacostia, where prices were pretty stable for years, are now also seen as good investments and great places to live, and are only a short drive away from everything happening in Navy Yard.

In short, buy a property you want to live in and will be happy in. If it increases in value over time, which seems likely in many D.C. neighborhoods, at least in the short term, that’s icing on the cake.

by Borderstan Sponsor — June 23, 2016 at 8:00 am 0

SlateProperties Inside Real Estate

This is a sponsored column written by Kevin J. Wood, a licensed Realtor© in the District of Columbia and surrounding area. For more information on buying or selling a property, feel free to contact Kevin at 202-297-9753 or email him.

I work with a lot of first time buyers, and many call me because a friend referred them. They know they’re supposed to use an agent, but often they don’t know why they need an agent. Or they have preconceptions about what their agent should or shouldn’t do for them. They usually have watched a lot of HGTV and are surprised they can see more than three places, and that the offer paperwork is not done on the hood of the car. So why use a real estate professional when searching for a property? And what exactly does the agent do for you?

First, buyers don’t pay their buyer’s agent anything. The way it works is that the seller pays the listing brokerage a commission, and the listing agent agrees to share part of that commission with the buyer’s brokerage. A good real estate agent does more than take buyers around to see properties and write up the offer paperwork. A buyer’s agent should be familiar with neighborhoods and what they offer, the various neighborhood amenities, what new developments are planned nearby, a bit of the history of the area, what materials are used in the house, etc.

(more…)

by Borderstan Sponsor — June 9, 2016 at 1:15 pm 1 Comment

SlateProperties

This is a new sponsored column written by Kevin J. Wood, a licensed Realtor© in the District of Columbia and surrounding area. For more information on buying or selling a property, feel free to contact Kevin at 202-297-9753 or email him.

My clients, at least my first-time buyers, are normally thrilled when their offer on a property is accepted. By this point, in D.C. anyway, they have likely been outbid at least once, and now they are on the road to homeownership. Yay! But wait. They know there are more steps along the path to closing, but some don’t know how critical the next big hurdle is: the home inspection.

The home inspection is normally completed 3-10 days after contract ratification (it’s negotiable, but the sooner the better). It involves the buyers bringing a home inspector of their choosing through the property they are under contract on and spending 1-3+ hours in the place (shorter time if it’s a condo or co-op, longer if it’s a house).

Buyers pay the inspector themselves. Costs vary, but for a typical DC row house, expect to pay $350-500 or so. A good inspector will test everything, and a smart buyer will be there for the inspection and follow the inspector around as they do the inspection, asking questions and learning about the property and how things function. The inspector will open and close all the windows, put the washer/dryer through a cycle, test the dishwasher, test ac/heat, evaluate the roof, open the electric panel box-and more.

What is a Pre-inspection?

Sometimes it makes sense to do what’s called a pre-inspection, which is a home inspection done on a property you’re not yet under contract on. Why do this? In D.C.’s super competitive market, there are often multiple offers on any given property. By doing an inspection before you submit an offer, you remove a contingency from your offer, thus making your offer stronger. A seller choosing among multiple offers will likely pick an offer with the fewest contingencies.

The downside to doing a pre-inspection is that you pay the inspector regardless of whether you get the property or not, and if you end up making several offers and doing pre-inspections on each, your out of pocket costs can add up quickly. Some buyers opt to take third route by not including a home inspection contingency and not doing a pre-inspection at all. I’ve never advised a buyer to waive a home inspection, but some buyers in this market are willing to take the risk.

After the Inspection:

So, the inspection report is in, and there are 20 things the inspector has called your intention to. What are you options?

1). You can walk away from the contract without penalty (meaning your earnest money deposit will be returned to you), provided you inform the sellers prior to the expiration of the home inspection contingency.

2). You can ask the sellers to correct some or all of the issues on the list by providing them a copy of the home inspection report and an addendum listing requested repairs. Sellers aren’t obligated to correct the items on your list, in which case the contract can be declared null and void or you can proceed with the contract and accept that there are issues with the property that you’ll have to take care of once the property becomes yours, at closing.

3). You can request a dollar amount in lieu of repairs. Sellers are not obligated to provide a credit for the repairs, but if they are inclined to do negotiate, it’s sometimes easier to provide a credit versus getting a contractor or handyman in to fix things before closing.

So one of the most stressful parts of the buying process is behind you. You and the seller have come to terms, one way or another, with the items needing to be addressed in the home inspection report, and that contingency has been removed. Most parties in involved in your purchase now give a small sigh of relief. There are still hurdles to be crossed before closing (appraisal, loan approval), but you’re path to closing is now a lot clearer.

For more information, or for a free real estate consultation, please email me at [email protected]

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