Category Archives: Real Estate

Should I Sell or Remodel?

Anything that gets as much use as your home shows wear and tear after a few years. Colors and decorative styles look tired and outdated, or you may need more room due to an addition in the family. So do you sell or remodel and stay?

Image resultAsk your favorite Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices PenFed Realty professional to show you homes for sale that have the size, features and finishes you want, and create a comparative market analysis of homes like yours so you’ll know what you can reasonably expect to net if you sell.

You’ll pay about 12% of the sales price and more in closing costs to sell and purchase another home. Moving costs are about $2,300, (if you have 4 movers at $200 per hour) for an intrastate move and about 7,400 pounds of household goods, according to the American Moving and Storage Association.

If you decide to remodel, make sure your design will meet your needs for years to come. You’ll need the right team – contractors, kitchen planners and interior designers to help you put it all together. Talk to your lender to learn how much you can borrow and if that sum will help you meet your remodeling goals.

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Drive Before You Buy

Whether you are shopping for a home in a familiar location or a new neighborhood, remember that you are buying more than a home. You are also buying the neighborhood, so it helps to become familiar with your favorites, whether you drive them or walk them.

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Why is that important? It’s the neighborhood that helps establish home values, which depend largely on location and local amenities (close to high-paying jobs, high-scoring schools, high-starring restaurants, transportation, etc.)

Neighborhoods can also change over time, so look for signs of transition. Do you see reinvestment or decline? Homeowners reinvest by repainting, making repairs and refreshing their homes with updates. What kinds of stores and services do you see? Dollar stores or boutiques, payday loan shops or investment firms, fast food or upscale restaurants. Are you the right target demographic?

Visit the area at different times of the day and on weekends. What’s traffic like? How long is your commute?  If you are looking in a neighborhood a little further out than where you currently live, you definitely want to drive your commute at rush hour traffic.

As you drive, check a few home-buying apps. On your Realtor.com app, you can see crime stats and amenities and save your favorites to show your Berkshire Hathaway Home Services network professional.

You’ll be happier if you pick the neighborhood first, then choose the home.

Ready to get started?  Call 703-836-1464 today!

We are #1 among repeat home sellers!

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices – Ranked #1 by J.D. Power, again!

Did you see the news?  J.D. Powers ranked Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices #1 in overall satisfaction among repeat sellers! The study, now in its 10th year, measures customer satisfaction with the nation’s largest real estate companies.

“The Berkshire Hathaway brand is recognized and respected worldwide,” said Kevin Wiles, president and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices PenFed Realty. “The fact that we’re #1 in satisfaction among repeat sellers is a testament to our dedication to consistently exceeding our clients’ expectations during every stage of the transaction.”

Among repeat sellers, the company also scored the highest when it came to satisfaction with their agent/salesperson, marketing, and the closing process.

 

Things to Consider When Buying a Townhome

If you’re buying a home but are not interested in keeping up with maintenance, you’re probably looking at buying a condo or townhouse. And while condos can feel very much like living in an apartment, a townhouse gives you a space of your own. While townhomes typically do share a wall with another home (or homes) in the development, buying a townhouse is also buying the little plot of land it sits on, which means getting an outdoor space you’re not likely to find in a condo.

You won’t find townhomes offering as much space as single family detached homes, but by offering more space than a typical condo they can have a lot of appeal for families—or anyone who needs more room than an apartment or condo, without the hassles of owning a single-family home.

But a townhouse isn’t the perfect solution for everyone. Let’s walk through what you should consider before deciding on a townhouse.

You’ll have to deal with a homeowner’s association

If you buy a single-family detached home, the repair and maintenance of it will be on you—but for townhomes, much of the repair and maintenance will be handled by an HOA. Though these services are not free, you’ll pay monthly dues in addition to your mortgage. An HOA will help you avoid unexpected costs (like the need to fix a damaged roof) and they’ll save you time on maintenance tasks by managing the yard and even shoveling the snow. Though this can increase your monthly expenses, it may also be a good way to make your monthly expenses more predictable, since surprise homeownership costs will be few and far between.

If low maintenance homeownership appeals to you, a townhouse could be an ideal fit. However, you should still take a close look at the HOA and what it offers you, because the precise repairs and maintenance they’ll do will vary from association to association.

Still, that association can come with snags if you want to customize your house. For example, you may not be allowed to change the exterior colors or plant whatever you’d like in your front yard. If that’s important to you, check the HOA’s rules (CC&Rs) to see what they allow. If they won’t let you use the property to your liking, you might consider a single family detached home instead.

You may be able to find a townhouse with better amenities

Though what you’ll find in your area will vary, because more townhomes can be built in a smaller space than single family homes, you’re more likely to find them in urban areas—possibly locations where it’s hard or prohibitively expensive to buy a single-family home. For this same reason, it can also be easier to find newly constructed townhomes, which can make it easier to find modern, updated amenities that you might not come by in an older single-family home.

In addition to these extras, buying a townhouse also means you’re buying into a community, and most such communities will also have shared amenities, like a gym, pool, tennis court, or laundry room. Different developments will offer different perks, so if there’s something in particular you have your heart set on, investigate the development to make sure it has just what you want.

It may cost less up-front

Because you’re sharing your home’s walls and foundation with your neighbors, construction costs for a townhouse are often lower than construction costs for a single-family home—which means you’ll pay less to buy one. Even considering the HOA fees (which you should carefully weigh against maintenance and repair costs if you’re trying to decide whether to buy a townhouse or a single-family home), you may be able to get more home for less money by buying a townhouse.

You’ll share a wall with a neighbor

However, there’s a downside to that lower cost—and it’s the fact that you share one or more walls with your neighbors and don’t have a lot of space to get some distance from your fellow community members. Because of this, townhomes can be nosier and offer less privacy than a detached home (though they’ll be quiet to those used to living in a condo or apartment).

In the end, how loud it is really comes down to your neighbors and your own tolerance for living in (relatively) close quarters.

Reprinted with permission from PenFed Credit Union Blog. ©2017. All rights reserved.

Market News: Home Prices Rise in First Quarter

Market News: Home Prices Rose in Q1

Home prices rose 1.4 percent in the first quarter of 2017, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s (FHFA) House Price Index (HPI). The HPI year-over-year— based on prices for homes with Fannie Mae- and Freddie Mac-backed mortgages— was up 6.0 percent.

“The steep, multi-year rise in U.S. home prices continued in the first quarter,” said Andrew Leventis, deputy chief economist for the FHFA, in a statement. “Mortgage rates during the quarter remained slightly elevated relative to most of last year, but demand for homes remained very strong. With housing inventories still languishing at extremely low levels, the strong demand led to another exceptionally large quarterly price increase.”

Per the Index, quarterly home price changes ranged from 1.0 percent in the Middle Atlantic Census division to 2.0 percent in the Pacific Census division.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.

How many people can I let live here?

Every two years when I renew my DC broker’s license I always come across little nuggets of information that I consider “good to know”. Others I shake my head and ask “how can that be?” Washington, DC’s regulations on housing capacity is one of the latter.

Housing Capacity

There are occupancy requirements recognized in D.C. According to D.C.M.R. § 14-402, each unit must have the minimum amount of floor area in order to comply with these requirements. In addition to unit size, there is also a minimum size for each bedroom or “sleeping area” as they like to call it. Here are the requirements:

Floor Area:

  1. At least 130 square feet of floor area in habitable rooms for the first occupant
  2. At least 90 square feet of additional floor area in habitable rooms for each additional occupant up to a total of 7 occupants
  3. At least 75 square feet of additional floor area in habitable rooms for each additional occupant if the unit is occupied by more than 7 people

Sleeping Area (specific to rooms used for sleeping):

  1. At least 70 square feet of habitable room area for not more than one occupant
  2. At least 50 square feet of habitable room area for each occupant when used by two or more occupants

So basically, if you are renting an apartment and three of you are sharing a bedroom, you need at least 220 square feet in the apartment to accommodate two people or 310 square feet for three people. For three of you to share a bedroom, you need at least 150 square feet in the room. If there are only two of you sharing a room, you only need a 100 square foot space in the room.

To put in in perspective for you, according to a November 2015 article on Road Warrior Voices, the average size of hotel rooms is about 330 square feet. A queen room at The Algonquin in Manhattan, a city famous for small hotel rooms, is 240 square feet. So your entire apartment must be about the same size of a small NYC hotel room for two people to share or a room at the Hampton Inn for three to share.

Your bedroom, or “sleeping area” as they like to define it, must be about the size of a walk-in closet to call it a ‘sleeping area’ for one or a 10 x 10 room for two people to call it a bedroom.

What is a sleeping area you ask? Well that is a curious term that we will cover in another blog post on another day.

Hopefully for those of you looking for a place to live in the District of Columbia this summer, this will help you decide how many of you can share an apartment and still fall within the requirements of the District’s regulations.

Quick Tips for Easy Spring Cleaning

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The snow has melted, the days are longer, and all of a sudden everything seems in need of a nice freshening up.  If spring cleaning is on you mind but you are overwhelmed at the task ahead, check out these tips from MaxSold.com.

Decide what you are keeping

Heard of the KonMari decluttering method? Keep an item if it brings you joy and if you have room for it – if not, set it aside. Start with a post-its to speed up the process as you go along – bite the bullet and blaze through it in a day, or tackle one room at a time.

Don’t take it to the dump

One person’s trash is another person’s treasure – it’s amazing how much money you can recover for your unwanted things. Instead of filling up landfill, fill up your wallet. Barry Gordon, the founder of MaxSold, an online selling platform, says “A chair that the owner was going to leave out in the side of the curb sold for over $2000, and a box of extension cords that would have gone to the dump sold for $40.”

Don’t prematurely sell off high value items

Ever post an ad online and get a response in an instant? This will leave you wondering if you grossly underpriced the item. The opposite is also true – if no one responds to your ad for weeks, maybe you overpriced it, and lowering the price over days for 100s of items is inefficient. Use an auction platform like MaxSold to sell everything where multiple people compete for the goods. Things that are better will engage more people and foster competition for not only items in demand, but for everything you are clearing out.

Don’t put stuff in storage

So many people are focused on “What’s my dining room going to bring?” The hard truth is that no one is going to give you a lot of money for your dining room. It’s going to be heartbreaking. It’s going to be awful. If you’ve got someone to give it to in the family, then that’s a good idea. But most people do not. And since they have nowhere else to go with it, they decide to put it into storage. Unfortunately, they end up paying thousands of dollars in storage cost each year, only to have the items further depreciate in value.