Category Archives: Real Estate

Update Your White Kitchen

Is that white kitchen too white?

All-white kitchens complement any decor, but they’re hard to keep pristine and can come across as dated. An older white kitchen shows signs of discoloration and wear. What can you do to make your white kitchen more 2021 than 2010?

Make it artsy

Art galleries have white walls because they’re a blank canvas where artwork can be attractively displayed. Add a colorful abstract painting in a key location. Have fun with artistic-themed dishtowels, placemats, and dishes. Try a washable rug or runner with a colorful modern pattern.

Fold in some color

Cookware, serving pieces, utensils and small appliances in analogous colors (those next to each other on the color wheel such as yellow, green and blue) can give you a pleasing new color palette. 

Add texture

Add interest with textures in complementary tones of white, grey or mushroom to walls, backsplashes, curtains or blinds. Natural wood accents like bowls can also warm up a white kitchen. If you have a place for barstools at the island, woven fabric, cane or hemp seats work well to add texture.   

Repaint

White reflects light, making your kitchen brighter, but one reason why people tire of white kitchens is that there’s no focal point. For a soft contrast, introduce watery colors like sea glass. For more drama and sophistication, go for high contrast with deep blue, black or grey. Paint the island a different color from the rest of the kitchen, or paint lower cabinets a different color from the top cabinets. 

Responding to Today: How to Avoid – and Fix – Costly Mistakes

Hot market or not, the agent you have representing you truly makes all of the difference in how your transaction will play out. The latest installment in our Responding To Today series addresses how to fix, or better yet avoid, mistakes that can have a serious impact on your checkbook!

Real Estate in 2021: How to Avoid – and Fix – Costly Mistakes

For those buying or selling a home in today’s ultra-competitive real estate market, time is not a luxury afforded to most. Decisions are made quickly, with many buyers in particular left to worry that they’re setting themselves up to make a costly mistake. And while homeowners seemingly have the upper hand in this universally hot sellers’ market, the myriad of factors that play a role in a frenzied sales and negotiation scenario leaves much room for error. 

So what’s a buyer or seller to do in this unprecedented market? We sat down with two leaders in the industry-Christy Budnick, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices and Allan Dalton, SVP of Research and Development for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices-to hear their recommendations for avoiding, or fixing, many common and current real estate missteps. 

Q: A recent Wall Street Journal article chronicles the regrets and mistakes of recent buyers who rushed into a purchase-but in this market, many buyers feel that’s the only option. How can would-be buyers feel confident that they’re buying the right house at the right price? 

Christy Budnick: Ifs normal for buyers to feel this type of stress in such a strong sellers’ market. But I would encourage them to look at the big picture and the benefits of a real estate purchase in the long term. With interest rates at historic lows, if a buyer plans on staying in a home for 10 years, the average appreciation of that home, plus the tax advantages of home ownership, will typically make the higher-than-normal sales price more than worth it. 

Allan Dalton: In a highly competitive, multioffer environment, you want to be able to buy on the best terms, but you don”! want to lose it. So as you’re figuring out what your top offer number will be, ask yourself this question: “Am I willing to deprive myself or my family of this lifestyle because of $100 a week, $50 a day, $50 a week?” I never want to be cavalier with money, but the point I’m trying to make is that I’ve never bought a home I wouldn’t have paid more for. If you’re investing in your lifestyle and you break the numbers down in that manner, it’s much easier to answer that question and understand if you actually feel like you’d be paying too much. 

Aside from the money side of things, don’t use a competitive market as an excuse not to do your due diligence. I would never buy a home without going back five or six times, parking in front of the home in the morning and also in the evening to see what traffic is like. Make sure you walk around the neighborhood and talk to the neighbors, especially the next-door neighbors if possible. If you’re buying from out of town, have your realtor do that work for you. I once bought a home from across the country and had my realtor take videos at 5:00 in the morning, 6:00 in the morning, 7:00 in the morning. That drove the realtor crazy, but the safety of my family is worth it to me. Before you make that offer, ensure there·s nothing that you could know that you don’t know-about the town, the schools, the home, the neighborhood, values, zoning restrictions. Because these are the things that end up making people think they made a mistake in buying a home. 

Q: Many sellers have been waiting to list their homes, potentially hoping to capture the apex of the market. What steps can these sellers take to avoid missing the right moment to list? 

Christy Budnick: This is such a debatable topic. The critical consideration in this decision is the relationship between supply and demand, and what can we anticipate about what might happen to supply and demand? Right now, supply and demand is completely in the favor of sellers. But what might happen to the frothy market as economic conditions change? By every indication, the strength of the economy and !he anticipation of inflation probably means that interest rates will continue to go up. Well, as rates continue to go up, fewer and fewer buyers will have the ability to afford the homes that they want to buy. As fewer buyers are in the marketplace, the relationship between supply and demand starts to level out, which will result in a cooling of home price appreciation. The summer is also a traditional time of the year where homes come on the market for sale. So you·ve got this combination of fewer buyers in the market moving forward and more homes for sale as we move forward. Those two things will most likely and I think undoubtedly create a cooling of home price appreciation. 

Allan Dalton: When the market is moving and changing so fast, it’s more valuable than ever to have a real estate agent-particularly if you are a seller in a competitive bidding war scenario. Let me give you an analogy: If you were a great football player and about to become a free agent, would you do that without the help of an agent? Of course not! When you have an asset that has great appeal and great demand, that’s when a realtor has the greatest value in maximizing that demand. It’s always better to rely on somebody who can navigate and manage and negotiate on your behalf-and create even more demand. 

Q: Some homeowners are waiting to list because they’re worried they’ll pay too much for their next home. Do you think this is a mistake or a good strategy? 

Christy Budnick: I just feel like now, 2021, is really the time to consider a sale and purchase, especially because of where I see interest rates going. Consider this: A buyer might be paying 

$30,000, $40,000 or even $50,000 more for a house today than they potentially could by waiting until next year. But wait. what are they getting for the home that they’re selling? Assuming the home you are selling is less expensive than the one you are buying, are you going to get $15,000. $20,000 or $25,000 more today than you might next year? So now I’m paying $50,000 more for the home I’m buying, but I’m earning $25,000 more for the home I’m selling, so my net differential is $25,000 negative to me. What”s the monthly payment differential? 

And if that seller takes a short-term hit to their equity-let’s say they buy at $50,000 right at the top of the market and it corrects-well, if they’re buying a home that they’re going to be in for eight, 10, 13 years, what does that appreciation annually need to look like, even if there’s a short-term blip in the value for the first one, two or three years that they own? It is so critical for people to think about these scenarios of value, payment and equity in a holistic way to make the right decision. Using a real estate professional with extensive knowledge of the local market is critical here in understanding the entire equation and its impact on your finances in the long term. 

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Bitcoin to Pay for a Home?!

If you are anything like me, you missed out on the Bitcoin market early on. I mean really, crypto-currency? Can that even be a thing? Well, apparently it is and the value is only going up! Read on for the latest from our newsletter…

In April 2021, Bitcoin hit an all-time high in the price of its coins, virtual trader Coinbase went public with a valuation of $86 billion, and Venmo, owned by PayPal, announced it’s adding support for cryptocurrencies. All of these give access to customers who can now easily buy, sell and pay for items with cryptocurrencies for lower fees, more privacy and more security than they currently get through traditional banking.

Coinbase.com explains that cryptocurrencies are simply decentralized monies to be used over the Internet. No governments, banks, companies or other entities are in charge of it, allowing anyone who wants to participate to be able to. Transactions are safer as they don’t include personal information to merchants, lenders, payment processors, advertisers, or credit reporting agencies.

While the coins are volatile, you can even turn your virtual coins into dollars, as one homebuyer did in Texas in 2017 using Bitpay at the seller’s request. According to CNBC.com, all you need is for the buyer and seller “to agree on exchanging bitcoin for the property.” Or another cryptocurrency if you prefer. All transactions are public and transparent through an open book technology called the blockchain.

If you don’t have enough bitcoin cash to buy a home, no worries. You can start saving for your down payment by using USD Coin, which is tracks 1:1 with the U.S. dollar. Customers who hold USDS coins can earn rewards, an alternative to a traditional savings account, says Coinbase, so start saving for your down payment now.

Top Home Decor Trends for 2021

With most people spending more time at home than ever, it is not surprising that home design trends in 2021 will focus on comfort and functionality. From clean lines to homey touches that remind you of Grandma’s house,  some of these popular styles may surprise you.

Grandmillenial Style 
Inspired by the comforts of Grandma’s home (cue the velvet sofa, needlepoint and floral curtains), millennials are decorating with a nostalgic sense of style. Expect to see vintage touches and old-school patterns mixed with bold, modern colors.

Japandi Design 
In a tumultuous year, the trend moves to a soothing neutral color palette. Enter Japandi style: a combination of Japanese design and Scandinavian minimalism that’s all about sleek lines and neutral color palettes. Check it out on Pinterest, which has seen the search for Japandi increase 100 percent in the past year. 

Earth Tones 
They’re back, replacing recent trends toward gray and bright white. Warm taupes, beiges, sands—basically any earth tone is surging in popularity, both for walls and furnishings.

Oversized Tiles 
Out with teeny-tiny bathroom tiles with impossible-to-clean grout lines, and in with larger scale tiles that provide less visual clutter while helping to visually expand a small space.

Clever Room Dividers 
Because homes are now serving multiple functions—home office, gym, schools and creative space—the need for privacy and separate zones has increased, and dividers are back. Etsy reports a 134-percent increase in searches for room dividers, while Pinterest saw the search for ‘cloffice’ ideas (as in closet converted into an office) more than double.

Outdoor Living 
Taken from the Danish concept of “friluftsliv,” or “free air life,” the age of coronavirus ushers in more options for making small outdoor gatherings comfortable. Fire pits, weatherproof upholstery, comfy patio furniture and even drink ledges for balcony railings are being sought after for backyards, patios and balconies.

Neon Lights 
Brighten up 2021 with fluorescent light fixtures—neon lighting is back with a modern look. Customized neon word art and neon-hued LED lights are trending. On Pinterest, searches for “neon room” and “LED light signs” have already more than tripled.

Easy Kitchen Hacks to Help Save on Groceries

Tired of wasting on groceries? Try some of these simple hacks…

Store leftovers in clear, airtight containers

There is little that home cooks can do about rising prices at the local market, but there are plenty of ways to make your grocery fund go further. Check out a few of these simple kitchen hacks to save pennies that add up to dollars.

Grate your own cheese. You pay big time for the convenience of pre-grated cheese. Buy an economical chunk of cheddar, or whatever type of cheese you like, and grate it yourself. Freeze what you don’t need right away so you’ll always have some on hand.

Chop and freeze herbs. Most recipes call for just a tablespoon or two of fresh herbs, but they come in bunches and unused portions often go to waste. Chop what you don’t use and pack it in ice cube trays with a little water. Throw the cubes into your soups or stews, or mix them with butter in your veggies.

Stop tossing brick-hard brown sugar. Store it with a marshmallow to keep it from hardening. If it’s too late for that, put the box or jar of hardened sugar into the microwave for 20 seconds to soften.

Roll your lemons. Don’t use two when one will do. You’ll get a lot more juice out of a lemon when you roll it on the counter before you cut it. 

Keep homemade cookies fresh. Lay a slice of fresh bread over them in your storage container. If they’re still around after a few days, change the bread to keep them fresh a little longer.

Skip the cooking spray. It’s more expensive and less nutritious than the tablespoon of olive oil, butter or coconut oil you need in your skillet.

Make leftovers more appealing. People turn up their noses at microwaved leftovers because they often wind up dry and tasteless. You can save on lunch by adding a bit of moisture to make them taste like they’re fresh-cooked. Wrap bread in a damp paper towel before nuking. Put a glass of water in the microwave when heating pastas, meats or stews.  

Local Real Estate Update

Historically, the summer time has been a good time to be a home buyer but not such a great time to be a home seller.  We have had many people ask if our opinion has changed in the season of COVID-19 and record low interest rates in place to stimulate the real estate market.  The answer is yes and no.  Like everything else in real estate, it is location dependent.

Today we are taking a look at two of our favorite zip codes:  22314 which covers Old Town Alexandria and 22301 which includes Rosemont, DelRay, and the surrounding area.

In DelRay we are seeing some good news and some not so good news.  The average sales price is up 29% from last year but the average days on market is also up by 120%.

In nearby Old Town we see not only a 54% increase in the average days on the market year over year, but a 14% decrease in the average sales price as well.  It is interesting to note that in 22314 we also saw a 113 increase in new listings compared to June of last year.

Who knows what the future holds but compared to previous years, I would say that at least in Alexandria, when the temperatures go up, the number of home buyers tend to go down.

 

 

An Outdoor Oasis in the Heart of Delray

Enjoy Southern Living at its Finest at 507 E. Alexandria Street 

As previously reported, one of Delray’s finest homes is on the market. Featuring a total of 5 bedrooms, three baths, and over 2800 square feet of living space in in the main house, this home is sure to delight!

Screened porch overlooking backyard

One of the most delightful aspects of this home is the incredible outdoor living spaces.  

The front of the home features a lovely, neighborly front porch perfect for rocking chairs and greeting Trick or Treaters on Halloween. 

The rear of the house is will delight you with every Southerner’s dream porch: completely screened with a blue two-story ceiling, ceiling fan, and custom curtains.  It is a simply a lovely place to relax and enjoy your morning beverage, have an glass of iced tea, or to host a springtime dinner party.

Large Trex Deck, perfect for grilling and chilling

Accessible from the Pella French doors in the great room or off of the screened porch, you will find the  outdoor entertainer’s favorite part of the house!  A large Trex deck overlooking the backyard! With the Onkyo receiver system providing music from the house to the deck, it is perfect for happy hours and cooking out! 

If you are just looking for a place to retreat, you will find it a terrific place to just grab a book and enjoy your private space.

Backyard oasis with a fountain and walking paths

The deck overlooks the wonderfully landscaped backyard.  The yard is a garden oasis in the city with irrigation, abundant landscaping, a small patio, walking paths, and a fountain. 

Leaving no detail untouched, the shed in the backyard is not only painted to match the main house, but it is currently set up as a workshop and even has electricity.

Storage shed, workshop, play house, endless options! 

Other exterior perks include yard lighting, Leafguard gutters, recently painted Hardiplank siding, and trim for worry free upkeep. 

Big bonus:  The finished basement is currently a 1-bedroom apartment with its own entry, living/dining/kitchenette combo room, separate and private bedroom with ensuite bath and its very own laundry room with washer and dryer.

Open Saturday and Sunday

Come join us this weekend for the first open house of this Delray gem or take a 3D Virtual Tour. A delight for commuters, it is just a few blocks to the Braddock Metro and two blocks from the Avenue where you can enjoy restaurants and shopping. This is the home you have been waiting to hit the market!  It has been updated and expanded and is ready for a new owner to call it home!  

Priced to sell at $1,295,000. For more information or to arrange a tour, Contact me!

507 E Alexander Ave

Nestled in the heart of Delray

Expanded and Updated Single Family Home in the Heart of Delray

This Delray gem, located perfectly near the Metro and a few blocks from the Avenue where you can enjoy restaurants and shopping, is the home you have been waiting to hit the market!  It has been updated and expanded and is ready for a new owner to call it home!

The first floor features hardwood floors, an open kitchen with granite and custom tiled backsplash,  stainless appliances, jumbo cabinets with extra storage, and an oversized pantry.  There is a formal dining room with built-in buffet which steps down into the great room with cathedral ceiling and a gas burning fireplace.  Sunlight fills the house with the custom Pella windows.  Also on this floor is the formal living room, library, and  two bedrooms with an adjoining bathroom.

Upstairs you will find a large loft overlooking the great room.  Currently used as an office, it could make a great wellness retreat or second family room.  You will also find the huge master bedroom with cathedral ceiling and dual walk-in closets, master bathroom, laundry room and a fourth bedroom.

Enjoy evenings on the fabulous screened porch, and parties on the Trex deck in back overlooking the private backyard!  The yard is a garden oasis in the city with irrigation, abundant landscaping, walking paths, a fountain. 

Garden oasis with fountain and inground irrigation.

Garden oasis with fountain, lush landscaping, yard lighting, and inground irrigation.

In 2005 the owner raised the roof and meticulously renovated this home to include many unseen, high-end touches and finishes that are sure to delight.  From updated plumbing and electric to smart switches and five thermostat zones to an Onkyo receiver system for music throughout the house and deck.  The Leafguard gutters, Hardiplank siding and trim are maintenance and worry free.  All this, and it is on a double lot!

Big bonus:  The finished basement is currently a 1-bedroom apartment with its own entry, living/dining/kitchenette combo room, separate and private bedroom with ensuite bath and its very own laundry room with washer and dryer.  Currently leased until January 2021.  Perfect for the owner who would like a little extra income with the option to update in the future for a 5 bedroom, 3 bath house. 

Priced incredibly at $1,295,000. For more information or to arrange a tour, Contact me!

Three Easy Upgrades to Increase Home Value

Contact Maxine for more home improvement tips.

Whether you’re planning to sell or rent, a little renovation goes a long way in helping to increase your home’s market value. For most homeowners, the biggest concern is usually the budget required for upgrades, renovations, and home maintenance. The great news is that there’s no need to spend thousands of dollars on home improvements. Here are three tips for some of the best home upgrades that add value:

  1. Knock down a wall, and go for an open concept. Not only will it create the illusion of a bigger space, but it’s also a home design trend that’s very much in demand today. Just make sure to have the wall assessed for possible electrical wires housed behind it before hitting it with a sledgehammer.
  2. Brighten up the bathroom. Bathrooms are among the most important considerations for many tenants and prospective homebuyers, so it’s pertinent to get this area of the house right. Buff up the tiles and replace the faucets, showerheads and toilet seats. There’s no need to replace all the tiles, just those that are cracked and chipped. The trick is to find the right cleaning agent that can help make the tiles look good as new.
  3. Apply a fresh coat of paint. Choose modern color palettes to give the house a fresh new look.

Source: Reprinted with permission from RISMedia ©2020. All rights reserved.

How to get the best mortgage rate

A house is a major purchase. In fact, it’s typically one of the biggest purchases people make in their whole lives. If you’re like one of the millions of buyers who get a mortgage for their dream home, securing the lowest interest rate possible could go a long way toward saving you money over the lifetime of the loan.

According to national nonprofit American Consumer Credit Counseling, here are five factors homebuyers need to consider to get the best mortgage rate:

Questions? Call Maxine for answers! 703-836-1464

Good credit score. The higher the credit score, the better the mortgage rate. People with lower scores are considered more at risk of defaulting on the loan. To improve your score, make sure you pay all your bills on time and try to eliminate or significantly lessen credit card balances.

Down payment. Building savings and being able to put forward a larger down payment will help you receive a lower mortgage rate. Ideally, you should try to save up enough to make a 20 percent down payment.

Steady employment. Working for the same employer for at least two years shows mortgage lenders you have steady earnings, which makes you a more attractive borrower.

Fixed rate vs. adjustable rate. Fixed-rate mortgages keep the same interest rate the entire life of the loan. Adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) rates change over time, beginning with an introductory period that lasts three, five, seven or 10 years of a steady rate. Following this introductory period, the ARM rate may change periodically

15 year vs. 30 year. If you have a consistent income and feel you’ll live in your home for an extended period, it may be worth considering a 15-year loan rather than the average 30-year loan. Although a 15-year loan means higher monthly payments, it’ll save you thousands of dollars in interest.

Make sure you shop around for lenders and do research, even when refinancing, to make sure you’re getting the best rate for your situation.

This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional advice.

Source: Reprinted with permission from RISMedia ©2020. All rights reserved.