Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!




This my week of music at the 9:30 Club.  I went to see the Roots on Tuesday and it was an amazing show.  I see them whenever possible because they're such great musicians.  They played for 140 minutes and they rocked it.  I love seeing live music and I really don't take advantage of living across the street from the 9:30 Club.  That's one of my resolutions for 2010...MORE live music. 













 
Tonight, I'm going to see Sharon King and the Dap Kings.  The Dap Kings were the back up band for Amy Winehouse and her big album Back to Black.  I grew up listening to Motown so I love this sound.  I'm also thrilled that we're not doing the typical "dinner out" this year.  Maybe I'll become a 9:30 Club groupie in 2010 and get to know the entire bar staff.   Hmmm.  Could be an interesting year.


Meanwhile, Happy 2010!  I'm hoping for a year of good sales, cool trips, adventures with good friends and fun with my family.  Salud!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!!


I've just returned home from a great week in NC with my folks.  I managed to get out of DC the day after we received 16" of snow.  The roads in DC were horrific but that's not a surprise to anyone!  They were better in VA but I still saw 3 accidents.  I was glad to make it!  

One of my projects every year is to decorate my parent's house for Christmas.  Every year I do something different on their mantel and this was the winning design this year.  The sprays of silver balls caught my eye at West Elm and a whole look was born.  Since I do this every year, my parents have A LOT of decorations at the house.  The blue ornaments were from previous years.  I like blue/silver/white as a decorating scheme instead of just red and green.  Since my Mom is obsessed with blue and white, the silver/blue/white theme also goes well with her decor.

I'm showing property in Cleveland Park tomorrow which is why I'm back in town.  I'm also trying to get final approval on a short sale purchase that's been lingering since October.  Back to the grind.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The end of low interest rates?

I spoke too soon...I do have something to report!   

According to the minutes of the last Federal Reserve meeting, the Fed is going to stop buying mortgage back securities in March 2010.  That means the lovely, low interest rates of the past year will be long gone.  There's many news items about this development but this article explains it well:  "D-Day for Low Mortgage Rates?"

When I was at my team luncheon on Monday, we asked our broker Ricki Gerger, what interest rates were when she started in the industry.  Her answer:  16.5%!  Seriously!

The interest rates are expected to go up when the Fed stops buying the mortgage backed securities.  Historically, anything below 7% is considered to be a good interest rate.  Keep your eyes peeled for more items in the news about these developments. 

Sick of being sick




I'm down and out with another cold this week.   I've basically been sick since Thanksgiving and I'm over it!  First I had a virus.  Now I have a sinus infection.  I really have nothing interesting to report because all I do is blow my nose.  It's very attractive.  I did go to the doctor yesterday and get some antibiotics so hopefully I'm on the road to recovery.

Meanwhile, I'm showing property later today in Arlington.  I hope my poor client doesn't mind my red nose.  Maybe she'll think I'm imitating Rudolph and getting in the holiday spirit.  Ha!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Things to do


I was showing property in Penn Quarter yesterday and this cute, holiday market has sprung up.  It turns out it's the fifth year the holiday market has been in existence.  It's full of local artisans.  I did a quick tour and saw a lot of great photos, art, t-shirts and jewelry.  There were also home made donuts that smelled delicious but I managed to resist the temptation. 















I also bought a really cute hat from one of the vendors, De*Nada.  Check out the cute scarves by designer Virginia Blanca ArrisueƱo.  Her scarves were just featured on the today show!

If you haven't finished your Holiday shopping, this could be a good option.  You're supporting local business AND buying original gifts.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Current Obsessions

This week I'm sending my Holiday cards and I'm using Paperless Post for the first time.  Normally, I mail them but I couldn't find any cards that I loved.  Plus people move all the time but their e-mails generally stay the same.  I know e-cards have been around forever.  However, I am TOTALLY obsessed with the fact the cards from Paperless Post mimic the opening of REAL mail.  This was my "business" holiday card for past and current clients.  How cool is that?! 


I'm also currently obsessed with is the Clarasonic Mia .  The Clarasonic cleaning system has been around for a couple of years.  Oprah loves it along with a slew of other celebs and beauty editors.  I never invested because it was over $200 and that seemed kinda crazy.  Then I was reading one of my new favorite blogs Nothing But Bonfires. Holly dedicated an entire post to how much she loved her Clarasonic brush.  One thing led to another and I discoverd that Clarasonic had just come out with the "travel" version of the brush.  That's the Mia and it's a $150.  Hot diggity!  I did a little research and found that www.keepyoungforever.com was giving a 20% discount on Clarasonic products.  And thus, I became the proud owner of a Mia!

This sucker really does work.  My skin did break out initially as all the reviewers mentioned.  That phase only lasted a week.  Now I feel like I've got that pretty glow you get from a series of facials.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Breaking ground on the Howard Center?


DC Mud has a great update on the status of Howard Town Center.   It sounds like they're FINALLY going to break ground in Fall 2010.  Click the link above for the scoop.  IF this ever happens, I'm going to be excited.  Another grocery store within walking distance of the building!  Not that I ever go to the grocery store but I like to pretend.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Teeny, tiny tree


For the first time in 3 years, I put up my teeny, tiny Christmas tree.  The tinsel beauty pictured here has been sitting in a box since we moved in '07.  Although I'm already having moments of "bah humbug" (WHY does Christmas music have to be played in all retail stores?  WHY?), I decided to break it out.  I'm hosting our semi-annual White Elephant dinner next week and I thought we needed more sparkly stuff in our house. 

I'm going to take a break from real estate news this month.  There's been lots of good news in real estate news lately.  I'm siked the tax credit got extended until next year.  I'm also stoked that October's house sales are the best since March 2006.  I'm really thankful that this year was busy.

But I'm burnt out.   I feel apprehensive and I don't know why.

Therefore, I want to spend the month of December reflecting upon the silly stuff that makes me happy.  My teeny, tiny Christmas tree.  The White Elephant dinner.  Going to see The Roots.  Spending time with my family over Christmas and our annual Christmas Eve party.  New Year's with friends at the 9:30 Club. 

I'll still be showing property, going to closings and marketing property.  I'm just not going to write about it.  I'm going to refresh my attitude and get ready for 2010.  Happy December!

Friday, November 20, 2009

9th St. Estate Sale..SOLD


 
I recently realized that I never update my loyal readers.  I always *say* I will but I don't.  So I'm rectifying the situation!

This listing went on the market the last weekend of September.  You might remember my posts about it..we had 5  offers.  We ratified the contract shortly thereafter and it closed today.

It was a tough deal.  First, it was an estate sale.  Second, it had tenants.  Third, the lender insisted we put on a new roof before closing.  (I mentioned that in an earlier rant..I mean post.)  Fourth, the bank also made us go back and amend all the addendums we had used to craft the deal.  Fifth, the loan docs weren't ready when we went to closing at 2.  When I left at 3, they were still waiting to sign the docs.  Latest update at 3:30 is the docs have arrived.  Hip hip hurahhh!

Those poor buyers.  What an experience.  Some deals are really easy and some are really hard.  This was a hard one.

I'm sure once it's all over, they're going to be really excited.  The house needs some updating but it's really a great place.  Congrats new owners!


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

SOLD


My listing at 343 Cedar St, NW closed on Monday.  It went under contract in 7 days (while I was on vacation..thank you Ross!)   

The buying agent was a Redfin agent.  I've never worked with a Redfin agent before and it was a great experience. 

Congrats to the new owners!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Masa 14


Masa 14 opened a couple of weeks ago to much ado on the 14th St. Corridor.  They had a big launch party, they hosted "The Satorialist" book signing party, etc. etc.  So yea.  It's definitely a cool spot.

I love a new restaurant and I like to try new places in the 'hood.  Some stick, some don't.  This place will definitely remain on my rotation. 

Not only do I *LOVE* the extra long bar, the food is amazing.  I had my doubts.  Asian/Latino fusion??  There's been some baaaaaddddd restaurants that tried that concept. (Mercado, anyone?)  But Sandoval and Okachi do a great job melding the two flavor profiles. My current favorite:  serrano ham flatbread with arugula, lime, goat cheese and cantalope.  Sounds like a lot of ingrediants, doesn't it?  It's a perfect bite and it's heavenly. 

Next time you're strolling down 14th St. in search of a bite or a cocktail, give it a whirl. 

Friday, November 6, 2009

Homebuyers Tax Credit is expanded and passed!

Once again, all the real estate blogs are going to be covering this new development.  I can't help but comment
because this development is really encouraging for the DC area. 

Not only have the credit been passed, they upped the income levels for singles to 125K and couples to 225K.  This is really, really going to help a lot of buyers in DC.  DC is a city of workers that make a lot of money.  It's expensive to live here so the salaries are in line with the cost of living.  A lot of my clients buying this year, both singles and couples, didn't qualify for the first version of the 8K credit.  They made too much money.  (Ha..how often do you get to say that??)  Already, at least one of my current clients is going to benefit from the extension and the expansion.

Click here for a chart from NAR of the features, old and new.  YEA CONGRESS.  Well done.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Senate passes legislation to extend 8K tax credit

I know, I know.  Every real estate blog in the blogosphere is discussing this development.  But I had to post something!  It's important because it might be passed by the House as soon as today or tomorrow.  Wahoo! 

Not only is the credit going to be extended until June 30th, 2010, they're also proposing to up the income levels for elgibility.  Read Dina ElBoghdady's article on the extension for exact details.

This is an exciting development for me!  I have clients that have been running around town trying to find a place to buy.  They'd love to use the 8K tax credit but we haven't found anything that they like!  The clock is ticking on the credit and I don't know if we'll make it.  It's "do or die" this weekend.  Fingers crossed!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

New FHA regulations?!

On Nov. 2, new FHA regulations are going to be published.  The news on the street is intriguing.  Under the new guidelines, HUD is eliminating FHA spot approvals.  This is causing a lot of concern in the real estate industry.  I was searching for the latest list of FHA approved buildings in DC and came upon this link on the Real Estate Channel.  This article was also posted on a message board on another website.  Boy, were the opinions heated!!

For me, the elimination of the spot approval is a problem.  A current client is trying to write a contract this week to capitialize on the 8K home credit.  The unit they like is in a small building (8 units) and it's not FHA approved.  If spot approvals are gone, so are our chances on making an offer and using an FHA loan.

I've heard a rumor that spot approvals will be allowed until Dec. 7th.  My sources at First Financial Services, Inc. (FFSi) say otherwise.  I'm in a holding pattern until somebody finds out what's really happening.  The joys of lending '09 part 2. 

On a positive note, my 3rd short sale of the year FINALLY closed on Friday.  It was a month late, but it closed.  I'm relieved and elated for my client!



BTW..I hope everyone had an amazing Halloween.  DC was rife with costumes last night and it was highly entertaining.  We went to a Halloween party and I was a roller derby girl (skates and helmet included!).  Roller skates in a party provided a lot of interesting conversation.  I'm happy to report, I didn't fall down.  I love Halloween!


UPDATE: 11/2-  FHA spot approvals good until 12/7/09.  If you're using FHA, hurry, hurry, hurry!  Getting a building FHA approved is a process.  Getting into a building that's already FHA approved is a challenge too.  Good luck!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Back on the market with a price reduction!


4009 Cole Blvd., SW is back on the market for 265K.  Yes,
we had a contract but it didn't work out.  *sigh*   I hate when that happens.  Click here for the virtual tour.

This is a perfect for a first time home buyer.  It has 3 bedroom, 2.5 baths and an unfinished basement.  It also has new carpet, new appliances and a new fixtures in the bathrooms.  

If it goes under contract in the next week, you should be able to meet the 8K tax credit deadline of Nov. 30th.  Fingers crossed that it goes fast!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Dreaming of....


I'm having a heck of a time getting back in the swing of things.  Hence my lack of posts. 

I really want to be back in Italy, driving along tiny, twisty roads.  Life back in DC has left me dreaming (ALREADY!) of escape.

What is happening, you wonder?   First, we had the carpet replaced with hardwoods in the bedrooms of our condo.  This was the result of that really fun flood in August.  I'll go into more detail in another post.  Anyway, it displaced us for three days.  Some friends graciously let us stay with them.  We're back in our house but there's stuff everywhere.  I do not like clutter!

Meanwhile, a few of my deals have issues.  This is a common problem in this real estate market but it's driving me batty. 

The two deals with the most problems involve the same key player.  One of the major banks out there is a TOTAL PAIN whenever they finance a deal.  Right now they're fouling up two of my deals.  I'm the listing agent on one and the buying agent on another.

On my listing, this bank is insisting a new roof be installed before they'll give the buyers a loan.  Really?  Before they purchase the house?  This is a first for me.  What's even more interesting is it's NOT an FHA loan.  It's a conventional loan.  WHY this is a factor is beyond me.  Welcome to lending '09.

On the deal where I'm the buying agent, they're the second trust holder in a short sale.  The first trust gave approval on the deal within 4 weeks.  That's pretty fast for a short sale.  I thought we were going to make our 9/30/09 closing date. Ha.  I should have known better.  Said bank decided that they were wanted to keep their options open. They worded their approval letter so they could go after the sellers once the short sale was completed.  Which is totally scummy.  It didn't work (kapow, stupid bank!) so we were back to step 1.  After weeks after negotiations, they demanded 10% of the net profits.  Most second trusts are really lucky to get 5%.  Surprisingly, the first trust gave approval.  Now we're waiting AGAIN for the second trust to issue an approval of some sort.  Meanwhile, my clients second loan lock expires next week on the 30th. 

I'm trying to evoke the calming spirit from my yoga class this morning.  It's not working.  Instead, I'm back to dreaming about Italy. 

Monday, October 12, 2009

Villa in Greve in Chianti? 850,000E please!

As I mentioned on Oct. 1, my husband surprised me with an anniversary trip.  We went to Italy (Florence, Greve in Chianti and Torino) for 9 days.  It was a wonderful trip with a lot of new experiences. 

Besides driving down dirt roads and swilling wine, I took a peek at the local real estate.  It's expensive!  Studio flat in the center of Greve in Chianti?  300,000E.  Villa in the Tuscany countryside?  850,000E.  The exchange rate when we were in Italy was 1.47E to $1.00.  That means the studio was 441K and the villa was $1.2 million.  YOWZA!  Who said real estate in Europe was cheaper??

With that thought bouncing around my head, my interest was piqued by an article in the International Tribune.  It was titled "Europeans Again Interested in Florida Homes."   Apparently, the rock bottom prices of Florida real estate are drawing more and more Europeans into the Florida real estate market.  After seeing the prices in Greve in Chianti, I can see why Europeans are cheering the strong Euro and investments in Florida.  

Thursday, October 1, 2009

New listing!! Open 10/4





I have another new listing hitting the market this weekend.
It's a 2 bedroom, 2.5 bath townhouse condo with a private patio, open floor plan, bamboo floors, stainless steel appliances, granite counter tops, a private patio! off the second bedroom and a garage parking spot for
375K.  It's minutes to the Takoma Park Metro and downtown Takoma Park.  It's an easy commute on the Red line to anywhere in DC.  There's an Open House this weekend from 1:30-4pm.  Click here to see the virtual tour. 

My lovely husband has surprised me with an annivesary trip.  I'm off to the wild, blue yonder for the next week.  More (maybe!) from the road.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Multiple Offers? Really?


My new listing at 4929 9th St, NW has multiple offers!  I'm flabbergasted.  Seriously.  It's very exciting.

I think we're seeing the result of the 8K closing cost credit expiring on Nov. 30th and a lack of inventory at this price point.  This house does have a ton of potential.  It also needs some major updating. 

Since this is an estate sale, it is more complicated than a regular sale.  In addition, one of the tenants has decided to excercise their first right of refusal.  I did disclose this fact as potential buyers decided to make offers.  It might take a couple of days for the dust to settle and for an offer to be accepted. 

Stay tuned to see how it progresses!

Friday, September 25, 2009

New listing! 4929 9th St, NW Open Sunday 1:30-4pm





I have a new listing at 4929 9th St, NW.  It's an estate sale, 4 bedroom, 2 full baths.  It's a bright, corner row house with the original hardwood floors.  The rooms are large.  It has a new roof, new windows, a newer hot water heater and a new boiler.  It does need some updating but it has tons of potential.  It also has a basement rental/au pair/in law suite.  That's where the second bath is located and a mini kitchen.  There's also a front porch, garage and a lovely back yard.

I put in the MLS last night and I've already had 5 phone calls about the house.  I guess the push to close by Nov. 30th is officially ON!  

I'll be holding an Open House on Sunday from 1:30-4pm.  If you'd like to see the virtual tour, click here.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The 9 Day Black Nail Polish Manicure


On Saturday Sept. 12th, I joined a friend for a mani/pedi. She'd had a tough week and her fiance (take note men) bought her a day of beauty at the Red Door Spa in Mazza Gallery. I couldn't join her for the whole day of festivities because I had to work. I was able to catch up with her in the afternoon for a mani/pedi.

For some reason, fall=black nail polish to me. I also like to pretend I'm a bad *ss mamajama. In honor of the first day that felt like Fall, I had the manicurist use the color in the picture at the top of the page. (Yes I have man hands. It's another thing that Giada D. and I have in common.) I expected it to chip within days. IT HASN'T AND THAT WAS NINE DAYS AGO. I'm abnormally excited by this discovery.

I'm not usually the manicure type. I'm always doing things with my hands and generally they're pretty beat up. If I do paint my nails, I usually do it myself. Maybe that's why my black polish is always chipping so quickly. Anyway, I am so very excited to present you with the 9 day, black nail polish manicure!! I wonder if it'll last until tomorrow?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Lonny Magazine launches in October


Last week, I told you about my obsession with Domino magazine. I was crushed when it folded and the extra Glamour issues I received instead didn't lessen the pain. I don't like Dwell (why is their layout so bad? I can never tell if I'm looking at a feature or an ad. Is that on purpose?) and the other design magazines are too complicated. I enjoy flipping the pages but I've never utilized any ideas in my own home. On the flip side, I actually used a lot of the ideas I saw in Domino. Where do you think I got the idea for our recycled aluminum back splash??

Well I have exciting news..one of the ex-editors from Domino is launching a new on-line magazine called Lonny on October 1st. Hopefully it will be chock full of cute ideas that I can steal...um..interpret..in my place.

Monday, September 14, 2009

New Murphy Team Website!!


After years (and I do mean years) of discussion, The Murphy Team has finally launched our new website: http://www.tmurphyteam.com/

Our previous website was circa the early '90's and it was not user friendly. This is a wonderful update that allows you to search for properties, view testimonials, look at our listings and contact any of the agents on the team. It's a welcome addition.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Only One Left!


I am happy to report that Unit 1 at 1221 Harvard St, NW is SOLD. Yes, it's very exciting news. I have one left, the top unit (pictured here). I'm having an Open House this weekend on Sunday, 9/13/09 from 1:30-4pm. Please join me if you're in the area.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Mod to Modern

One of the best things about being a real estate agent is being able to glimpse the interiors of different types of properties. I'm fascinated by interior design and the process of designing a space to make it a home. I was an avid reader of Domino magazine and I was crushed when it folded. (Although I did keep every single issue for inspiration.) I'm obsessed with Jonathan Adler and HGTV's Design Challenge. I also love the Home and Garden section of The Post.

In today's edition of the Home and Garden section, there's a great article about interior designer Lori Graham and the project she did on a Watergate penthouse. Lori often works with one of my team members, Ross Vann, so I've been able to see some of her work. I love her point of view with it's mix of modern and traditional. I also *really* want every single light fixture she uses. That's one of her signatures. It's a minor detail that always makes a big difference in the finished look. Although she's no stranger to good press, it's pretty cool to see her work featured in The Post.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

8K First Time Home Buyer Credit Expires Nov. 30


It's the last weekend of summer. Can you believe the summer passed so quickly? Fall is on it's way and I'm excited. I love the change of seasons and the cooler weather. We've had a great taste of of it this week with temperatures in the 70's.

This fall we also have the expiration of the 8K First Time Home Buyers Credit. We're already seeing an uptick in buyers trying to make the Nov. 30th deadline. The big news is that your deal has to be CLOSED by Nov. 30th. I wrote about the deadline a couple of months ago and everyone in the real estate business is writing about it too. NAR (National Association of Realtors) published this article in their weekly newsletter: "Home Buyer Tax Credit Countdown Begins."

If you are a first time home buyer (and this is defined as anyone who hasn't purchased in the last 3 years), this is the time to move forward. A lot of the news sources are saying the market has hit bottom. I know I'm seeing some good deals in my area.

It's a big change from last Fall when everything was in a free fall and NOBODY was buying. I'm happy to report that sales have been up for the last three months in the DC area and Nationally. I hope the trend continues.

Monday, August 31, 2009

New Grocery Store Coming Soon...

I was reading DCist this morning and discovered I missed a post about a new grocery store coming to the 'hood. I read about this upcoming development in 2008. This is VERY exciting because currently there's a really ugly abandoned car wash across the street from our building. It gives our part of U St. a lovely cityscape (ha!) It's encouraging to know that this development will be 3 blocks away. Another value add for the building and the surrounding area.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Importance of Insurance


That, my lovelies, is the ceiling in my guest bathroom after a fireman hacked it open. This image is what greeted me when I returned from vacation along with the news that there was a fire, a faulty sprinkler and a flood. What a trifecta!

Which leads me to the title of this post: the importance of insurance. We live in a condo building which has a Master Insurance policy. Every month, a portion of our condo fee goes towards the payment of the building policy. We also have a home owners policy that covers all sorts of stuff. Both will probably be used to deal with the results of this disaster.

The fire was on the 3rd floor in the unit next to ours. It wasn't a big fire but the sprinkler system went off in that unit. Unfortunately, one of the sprinklers had a malfunction. It spewed water for about 45 minutes (!!) down the side of the building, into the hallway, down the elevator shaft and into the units below. We missed all the action since we were out of town. From the reports of our neighbors, it's a good thing we were out of town because it was an unpleasant night. The fire alarm went off 3 times starting at midnight and ending at 7am. Ugh.

Thankfully, we don't have much damage. Wet carpet, a hacked up bathroom ceiling and some molding removal is the extent so far. But our place smells funkalicious and we slept on the couch last night. I was amazingly blase about the whole thing until I realized we had to sleep on the couch with Zazu the Kitty lurking. We could have gone down the hall or called some friends but I was beyond grumpy by that point. I wasn't going to inflict myself on the public.

Stay tuned for updates on the situation. Currently, we have 6 industrial strength fans and 2 humidifiers on full steam. It sounds like a wind tunnel in our condo. The hubby and I are constantly shouting "WHAT??" but we're adapting.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Ask me a question...

This week, I was asked by the bloggers at Urban Turf to contribute to their weekly "Ask an Agent" feature.

This week's question explores the best time to lock your mortgage interest rate. It was a complicated question because there's a lot of variables. They edited my original reply to fit their format (I'm a windbag, what can I say?) but the essence is there. Click on the link above to check out my answer.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Real Estate Intervention


Have you seen "Real Estate Intervention" on HGTV yet?? I'm officially obsessed. I watched the premiere (for me..it was a repeat Sunday night) and I want to be Mike Aubrey. Oh..except I already am in the comfort of my home! Hahaa.

Seriously, this is a very, very interesting look at a part of our profession that nobody addresses. The agent that's a realist. I employ this same approach all the time. Sometimes it's very effective but sometimes it isn't. Not all prospective clients want an unvarnished assestment of their property and it's value. But a lot do and I think that's why I've been able to be successful in this wacky market.

One reason I really enjoyed the show was because it shows sellers foibles. I know I sound a little gleeful. I can't help it. I feel like real estate agents have a bad rep of pushing over priced listings. That's not true a lot of the time. We want our sellers to be successful. Sometimes sellers won't listen to us even though we're the "experts." That's why I find "Real Estate Intervention" so refreshing. Finally, our point of view.

HGTV Thursdays at 10:30pm.

DC Vacant Property Tax Update

Last week, the DC Council met for the last time before the summer recess and reduced the vacant property tax back to $5 per $100 of assessed value.

Washington Business Journal wrote an article about all the changes enacted by the council in order to fill the budget gaps.

The increase that the DC Council passed earlier last year (from $5 to $10 per $100 of assessed value) clearly back fired. Vacant property owners were furious and there was a lot of public discussion about the increase.

As I mentioned in previous posts, the increase had affected two of my deals and it wasn't pretty. As everything with DC Gov, both situations became long, drawn out affairs. Both situations were rectified but it was a pain.

I'm glad to see that the Council listened to it's consituents!

PS-Craigs List FINALLY took down the fraudulant post. What a mess. I had a couple of calls from people that actually called the number in Nigeria! (I bet their cell phone bill is going to be outrageous.)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Fraud Update



The fraud persists. I've received at least 6 phone calls from potential renters. I also received an email from a very nice reader who sent me the following email. It's unbelievable. Yahoo did answer my email but I haven't heard anything from Craigs List. This is bull honky!


Ms. Angotti,

I just received this 'reply' - I thought, after seeing your blog post you would like to see they are persisting. Please let me know if I can do anything more to help you catch these scammers.

Also, if you know of any good (real) rentals, I'd love to hear about them. I'm sorry for the trouble, but I'm glad you became aware of this before anything truly awful happened.

All the Best,
Annemarie

P.S. Bella is adorable, we have a Black lab (Baron) who just turned 1 - just so your husband knows, condo life with a dog isn't all *that* bad :)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Jen Angotti
Date: Sun, Jul 26, 2009 at 11:14 AM
Subject: Re: 4009 Cole Blvd. SE
To: annemarie <>



Good day Applicant,

Thanks for your email and interest in renting my house. I am Jennifer Angotti, the owner of the house you are making enquiry of. Actually I did reside in the house with my family, my husband and my only daughter before and presently we have moved out due to my official job transfer or posting, whatever you may call it, which has now found me in Warsaw, Poland. Presently my house is still available for rent for $900 USD per month (which includes utilities), though i intended selling it off but on a later thought changed my mind and have decided putting it on rent. More so now, I’m currently in Lagos, Nigeria for an international Christian follower's crusade taking place at the Nigeria national stadium, by one Pastor Chris of the Christ Embassy Ministry.

I want you to understand that I spent a lot on my property that you have requested to rent, so I will solicit for your absolute maintenance of this house and would want you to treat it as your own because cleanliness they say is next to Godliness. It is not all about the money to be paid on rent or spent; it is all about a good maintenance culture which I want you to adopt on the property. I want you to keep it tidy all the time so that I would be full of smiles whenever I come and above all, a good, strong and tight relationship between us when I come for a check up. Please one more thing, I wouldn’t like to have any benefit of trust in you because I want to stand in your words that the property would be well taken care of all the time.

Here is the address of the House again: 4009 Cole Blvd SE, Washington DC 20032 as to really see how lovely it is if from only the pictures you saw in my posting compare to the 100% comfort to be derived from it as an occupant.. Please note than you will only be able to drive by the house for now but can't have a look at the interior until i have sent the keys and documents of the house to you. Reason because, i couldnt find someone trust worthy to drop the keys with as my call down here was so sudden. I do hope you understand.

It has a dramatic entry foyer with ceramic floor. Extremely spacious rooms throughout with lots of big windows...nice and light! New neutral paint and some newer carpet. Very quiet, low traffic area. New fridge (7/07)...I believe it’s absolutely a perfect home for you and your family. Utilities include Water, Trash, Sewer, Gas etc. Please note that, a deposit payment would be required if accepted to have the property rented.

SO IF YOU ARE REALLY INTERESTED I WILL WANT YOU TO FILL THE RENT APPLICATION FORM BELOW.

RENT APPLICATION FORM.

FIRST NAME:__________
MIDDLE NAME:__________
LAST NAME:__________
PROFESSION:__________
PHONE: _______________
(CELL)PHONE__________
(WORK)PHONE__________
(HOME)PHONE__________
ARE YOU MARRIED: __________
KIDS _____ (YES/NO), HOW MANY ________
PRESENT ADDRESS: _____________________
CITY: _______________
STATE:______________
ZIP CODE: ____________
HOW LONG ___________IF RENTING
WHY ARE YOU LEAVING__________
IF THIS HOUSE IS BEING GIVEN TO YOU,
HOW LONG DO YOU INTEND STAYING ____________
WHEN DO YOU INTEND MOVING IN ______________
IF YOU HAVE A PET: _________
NAME OF PET: _____________
KIND OF PETS: _____________
HABITS: ___________
DO YOU SMOKE ______________
DO YOU DRINK ______________
DO YOU WORK LATE NIGHT ____
HOW SOON CAN YOU MAKE THE MOVE IN DEPOSIT ($900) REQUIRED: ____________
WHEN AND WHERE DO YOU WISH TO RECEIVE THE KEYS AND DOCUMENTS OF THE HOUSE: _______________

Looking forward to hearing from you with all this details so that I can present it to my family, pray over it (because I consult the Almighty God before making any decision) and if accepted, and then have them stored in my file in case of issuing the receipt for you and contacting you. Await your urgent reply so that we can discuss on how to get the document and the keys to you, please we are giving you all this based on trust and again I will want you to stick to your words, you know that we are very far apart now and only putting everything into God's hands and hope that you will not let us down.

The house will be available for rent for a period of five and a half years so you have a choice of deciding how long you intend staying there.. Here is my number 011-234-803-080-9184 or +234-011-803-080-9184, I will be expecting to hear from you.

Feel free to call me for more information and arrangements.

God Bless,
Jennifer

--- On Sat, 7/25/09, annemarie spadafore <> wrote:

> From:
> Subject: 4009 Cole Blvd. SE
> To: angottijen@yahoo.com
> Date: Saturday, July 25, 2009, 1:40 PM
> Ms. Angiotti,
>
> Good morning. I am contacting you in reference to your
> Craigslist posting at 4009 Cole Blvd. SE. I will be starting
> a new position in Washington on 31 August and I am very
> interested in renting this home. Is it still available? Can
> you provide me with a little bit more information (i.e. on
> the neighborhood, what else is in the area as far as grocery
> stores/Target etc.) and which metro line is closest?
>
>
> Thank you very much.
>
> Sincerely,
> Dr. A.M.
>
>


Friday, July 24, 2009

FRAUD ALERT


This morning I received a very nice email from a lady asking if my 4009 Cole Blvd. property was still for rent. Except I'm not renting it. I'm selling it. I thought she'd made a mistake. Then she sent me the post from Craigs List..with my pictures and my description. Except it has a bogus email address and is for rent for $900.

How messed up is that? I've reported them to Craigs List. I sent the other "jen angotti" a nasty email. (Which probably wasn't smart, in hindsight.) I also reported them to Yahoo.com.

I know all sorts of frauds are perpetrated on a daily basis. I've been lucky. I've never been on the receiving end of one. So be careful!

The lady who emailed me also looked up the listing on Trulia.com. She emailed me through Trulia and that's how I discovered the scam. If you are looking for rentals, look at other sources, especially if the post is claiming a real estate agent is marketing the property. Better safe than sorry.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Taking Advantage of the 8K Housing Tax Credit

Urban Turf has a great post about taking advantage of the 8K first time home buyers tax credit. They have a weekly post that's called "Ask An Agent." This week's question was the 8K first time home buyers tax credit and when it's going to expire. Mandy Mills from Hounshell Real Estate answers the question handily.

We were just talking about this at my sales meeting on Tuesday. If you are a first time home buyer and you want to take advantage of this credit, you MUST close by Dec. 1, 2009. That's coming up rather fast especially when deals can take 30-45 days to close. Not to mention the time it takes to find a place and then actually get the property under contract. (ah hem..refer to earlier post this week about multiple contracts.) There's also the real possibility that title offices are going to be swamped in October and November with buyers trying to close their real estate deals.

Not only is the 8K credit going bu-bye Dec. 1, so are the current loan limits of 729K. Although I'm sure Congress will extend these benefits again to stimulate the housing industry, there might be a gap of a couple of months.

Just a few thoughts if you're thinking about jumping in the real estate pool.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Multiple offers? Plllffff.

This is 17 Todd Pl, NE. It's a 4 bedroom, 2 bath foreclosure in Eckington. I was one of the 6 offers on the house because it was listed for a mere $327,750. That's correct. 6 OFFERS.

My offer wasn't accepted. (ho hum) I know it went for over 351K. That's what we offered. I'm thinking it went for 360-375K. It's amazing that a property went for at least 24K over list in this market. Actually..it's not so amazing. The house has been renovated. It has central air. It's got decent square footage. It's a DEAL at 24K over list if you look at the sold comps in the neighborhood.

Deals like this is one of the reasons the real estate market is still alive in DC. They're hard to find and even harder to get under contract. I'm no fan of the multiple offer UNLESS I'm the listing agent. (Te hee. I have to be an equal opportunity real estate agent, right?)

Anyway, I'm bummed this didn't work out for my client. We've been searching for a couple of months and so far, this has been the only house that's been really interesting. Back to the drawing board!


Friday, July 17, 2009

Deal from hell: OVAH!

I'm happy to report that the short sale that's been driving me crazy FINALLY closed. It was a nerve racking week. There were so many different problems with this deal. At one point, my client was bringing 3K more to closing than the original estimate. Yep. You're reading that correctly. We resolved that problem lickety split and my clients brought the original amount to the table. That's not happening on my watch if I can help it. But it closed. My clients are happy and proud owners of a new condo. Yaaaaaa!

While I was being consumed by problems with my deal, some really interesting articles came out in the Post. Kenneth Harney's article titled: "When Default Is a Strategy" is a must read. Who would have thought that people would be using foreclosure as a strategy? Really? I was raised to believe that having good credit was really important. I find it hard to believe that someone would ruin their credit for 7 years on purpose. But that's me.

Renae Merle wrote an article about short sales titled "Coming Up Short, More and More." Since I had just lived through my own personal short sale horror, I found the article informative.

The other article I thought was intriguing was Elizabeth Razzi's post in her blog Local Address. It's called "Appraisal Quality Getting More Attention." On May 1, a new set of appraisal rules went into effect nation wide for real estate agents, banks and mortgage brokers. It's wreaking havoc on the buying/selling process and NOBODY has been happy with it. A lot of people in the industry feel that it's affecting the housing market adversely. Read the post for more details because this has become a HUGE issue when buying and selling a property.

In some good/sad news, Dave Stevens, the President of Long&Foster has been appointed as the new FHA Commissioner of HUD. I'm glad because I think he'll do an amazing job. I'm sad because he was doing a fabulous job for L&F too. He spoke to a small group of us at one of our weekly meetings a couple of weeks ago. I was impressed with his vision for L&F and for real estate in general. He was very engaging and entertaining. Plus he told a funny joke about Sarah Palin. I know, I know. He said the same thing: never mix politics with business. But it was still funny. Good luck Dave!

1221 Havard St. will be Open again on Sunday from 1:30-4pm. Have a great weekend!

Monday, July 13, 2009

City Livin' With The Pup


This is Bella. As I've mentioned in my last post, we're doggie sitting for my parents. They went on a grand tour of the West (Denver, Grand Tetons, and CA). We used the beach house (thanks!) and volunteered to keep the pup. She's 7 months old and she's got a lot of energy.

DC is a dog friendly town. People LOVE their puppies. City living with a puppy has been a great experience. But it's really different from beach living with the puppy.

Our condo building is very dog friendly. It's a point of contention for some owners..some dogs have a little bathroom problem in the elevator. That's not what you want to see first thing in the AM.

I've found that living in a dog friendly building is actually a selling point in DC. There's a lot of DC condo buildings that have a "no pet" policy or just a "cats only" pet policy. Cleavland Park (CP) is especially tough for pet owners. I have a client looking for a one bedroom in CP but she has a cat and a dog. It's been almost impossible to find her something.

Having Bella visit has been a ton of fun. Since we don't own a dog just a cat, the learning curve has been interesting. First, you meet all sorts of new people with a dog. I've met a lot of neighbors in the last week and half. Second, you become really familiar with the dog park. Shaw has a great dog park on 11th and S St, NW. The dogs seem to be friendly although I do get skeeved out by cesspool smell. Uf. Third, it's not as hard as I thought it would be to care of the pup. The hubby has been resistant to getting a dog because we live in a condo. I see his point of view: late night walks aren't fun especially in bad weather. But Bella sure has been fun. She goes home tomorrow and I'm going to miss her a lot. Awww.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Price Reduction on 1221 Harvard St., NW


I'm back from the beach and it was lovely. I really, really wasn't ready to head home. But I'm back and I hit the road running.

As I mentioned in a previous post, in real estate, if you're going on vacation you instantly get busy. While I was at the beach, I had an offer on one of my listings and I had to deal with a home inspection (HI) contingency. The offer didn't work out but the HI contingency did..yea! I also had a ton of traffic on 2120 Vermont Ave, #319. Serious buyers look on holidays people..remember that!

Anyway, 1221 Harvard St...we've reduced the prices by 25K on each unit. That means Unit 2 is now $624,725 and Unit 1 is $573,765. I'm holding them Open Sunday 7/12 from 1:30-4pm. Stop by if you're interested..they are very, very nice. Especially at these price points.

More news: my hubby caught a 27" red drum while we were at the beach! It was quite the catch. It was also good eating. We're also doggie sitting my parents pup Bella. She is a trip. City living with a dog is really, really interesting. I'll save those thoughts for my next post.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Dreaming of...


Next week, I'm going to my parent's beach house in NC. All week I've been waking up and saying "Next week this time, I'll be at the beach!" I can't wait.

As always, as soon as I get ready to go somewhere, all hell breaks loose at work. This week has been insane, in a very good way. But insane, nonetheless.

A lot of issues are swirling around in real estate news today. The most interesting is an article from Realtor Magazine: "Home Tax Credit Could Expand" Congress is discussing increasing the tax credit to 15K and making eligible to ALL buyers with no income restrictions. This would be an immense boost to the real estate industry. The the 8K tax credit and the low interest rates have really stimulated buyers. If it increases to 15K, good things will happen. (Do a little happy dance at this point if you're a buyer!)

Have a great weekend and a wonderful 4th of July!!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

New listing! 4009 Cole Blvd, SE 275K


I have a new listing at 4009 Cole Blvd, SE WDC 20032 for 275K.

It's a 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath end unit town home in Wheeler Creek. It's 1326 sf. It's been freshly painted, has new carpet, new kitchen appliances and bathroom fixtures. The basement is unfinished and it has one assigned parking spot. Click here for the virtual tour.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Price Reduction! Open this weekend 1:30-4pm


I just reduced the price of my 1 bedroom condo at the Rhapsody (2120 Vermont Ave, NW #319) to 358K. It's going to be Open on Sunday from 1:30-4pm. As you can see, it has floor to ceiling windows in the living room, an open floor plan, stainless steel appliances, hardwood floors, w/d, a storage closet (5'x15') in the basement, a walk in closet with an Elfa system, and parking. Click here for the virtual tour. I hope to see you at the Open!

Monday, June 15, 2009

In the trenches

I mentioned I have a difficult short sale situation in progress. I have to say it's sucking the life out of me. My clients have been great. The other parties in the deal: not so much.

I'm posting about this because there's a lot of buyers out there searching for short sale and foreclosure properties. I mentioned a few of the pitfalls last week that I learned in CE class. Here's a few real life pitfalls as well:

1. Be educated. I'm currently dealing with a seller who thinks that declaring bankruptcy vs. a short sale is going to mean exactly the same thing to them. Ummm...actually the two situations are really different. Hire an attorney and/or do some research about exactly how these two options impact your credit. I'm not an expert so I'm not expounding any further on this one.

2. Hire an agent that has experience with shorts sales and foreclosures. I can not stress how important this is for buyers and sellers. Short sales and foreclosures are painful for a number of reasons. You want the process to be as easy as possible. Do yourself a favor and use an agent that's familiar with the procedures.

3. Document, document, document. And then document some more. It's a lengthy process and lots of things can go wrong. Make sure you have an accurate, written record of what's happening. Keep all your emails. Transcribe all your phone conversations. Protect yourself as much as possible.

Friday, June 12, 2009

What I Learned In CE Class

This week has been absolutely crazy. Sorry for the lack of posts. I had a few ideas early in the week. Then they were swept away by CE classes, major problems with a deal, and an offer. As I mentioned: INSANE. But in a good way.

Anyway, I attend a great CE class on Wed. titled "Short Sales and Foreclosures." Since I'm dealing with a problematic short sale deal, what a pertinent class topic! It was taught by Suzanne Cytryn, a settlement attorney for over 15 years.

There were 3 things I found really compelling about the class: she has no great love for real estate auctions, buyer beware on REO properties and short sales aren't as bad as they seem.

The first topic: Real Estate Auctions. This is when you actually go to the auction and buy a property. The house has been foreclosed upon and it's up for auction. If nobody buys it, the bank usually purchases the property and sells it. Some pitfalls to the auction: You can't inspect the property before you purchase it, (eek!), the owners/tenants might still be living there and then you have to evict them, those same owners/tenants might inflict major damage as they are evicted, the utilities/taxes/etc. are not pro-rated to the date you close but to the date of the contract, and buyer usually pays all closing costs. I'm with her on this..this sounds horrible!

The second topic: REO Properties. These are properties that are actually already owned by the bank. This is what you typically see in the MLS. What she meant by "buyer beware" is the LONG bank addendum that accompanies these types of properties. The properties are always "as is". You're basically giving up all of your rights when you sign one. If anything happens (mold, termite damage, etc.), you've given up your right to sue the bank for any of the problems. BUT you do get to inspect the property before you buy it. You also get clear title to the property. Out of the two, this is your better option because at least you know what you're getting when you purchase the property.

The third topic: Short Sales. This occurs when "the outstanding obligations (loans) against the property are greater than what the property can be sold for. The borrower (normally the seller) proposes that the secured lender accept a compromised (reduced) payoff amount upon the sale of the property." Although they are called short sales, there's nothing short about them. They take a minimum of 2 months to complete. Banks are getting faster at processing short sales but there's a lot of paper work and documentation needed to make it to closing. You must be exceedingly patient. If it works out, it's usually a win-win situation for the buyer and seller. The seller avoids foreclosure and ruining their credit. The buyer gets an excellent deal.

If you're a buyer in this market, you're encountering these situations daily. In fact, you might be seeking these types of properties. Hopefully my CE class will help you too! Have a great weekend.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Monetizing the 8K tax credit

As I reported last week, HUD published guide lines that will allow buyers using FHA loans to monetize the 8K tax credit.

But what does that mean? And how is HUD and lenders going to achieve the monetizing?

Kenneth Harney of The Washington Post wrote a great article today called "Closing Cash From Uncle Sam".
The article outlines the way that HUD is allowing buyers to utilize the credit immediately.

Although a lot of states already have non-profits set up to give the 8K advance detailed in the article, DC does not. I'll keep you posted as I discover more details about the process in DC.

Meanwhile, this is more encouraging news for the housing market. Have a great weekend and happy shopping!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Frankly my dear...

I'm depressed. When did we move to Seattle? I am over this weather. I haven't mustered up a lot of interest in posting this week because all I want to do is nap. I need some sunshine, dang it.

Anyway, more food news. We've recently tried Eatonville, Policy, AND Cedar. My thoughts:

Eatonville: Full disclosure..the chef dates one of our good friends. I'm definitely rooting for him to make this work. I had the crab cake sandwich and the arugula salad with goat cheese and bacon. It was yummy. Our table also had the fried green tomatoes, the trout, fish and grits, and the stuffed hush puppy. It was all good..no complaints except it was heavy. I was glad we took a little walk down the street to St. Ex. when we were done. Don't get me wrong..I love some fried food but I think a simple grilled fish would be a good addition.

Policy: We sat at the bar (our favorite place to eat) and had the lamb chops and the scallops. Both were amazing. The hubby had some stuffed pepper app that didn't impress. But the chops and the scallops were really, really well done. Neither was over cooked and both were well seasoned.

Cedar: This is a new place in Penn Quarter. Daily Candy did a blurb about it's opening. Then a friend sent us a notice that they were having a $30, 3 course deal. I love a deal so off we went. The location is a little funky..on E St., off the beaten path. You go downstairs to the dining room which is cute. Their focus is fresh, local ingredients and it was fabulous. I had an asparagus salad and grilled tuna with tomatoes, capers and black olives. Nothing ground breaking but amazing. My dining companions had a fava bean salad and a soft shell crab as apps. They both had quail with fiddle head ferns and ramps as their main course. It was my first fava bean, fiddle head fern and ramp. Verdict: Yum. Dessert was also insanely good. We tried the carrot cake, the blueberry-almond tart and the "rocky road" brownie. UNBELIEVABLE.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Breaking news..

Yesterday afternoon, DC Council passed the measure to tax co-ops similarly to condos. Co-ops will now have to pay a "economic interest tax" according to Ed Krauze of GCAAR. The "economic interest tax" will implement the same rates that DC uses for real property: 1.1% for sales below 400K and 1.45% for sales above 400K. This measure was included in the Fiscal Year 2010 Budget Support Act of 2009.

The Murphy Team does a lot of business with co-ops in Foggy Bottom. I'm sure there's going to be a major outcry about the change. Oh boy.

Both DC Mud and Urban Turf reported on the possibility of this measure last week.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Oh boy!

I know every real estate blog in the country is going to cover this but it's huge news:

HUD just announced that FHA approved lenders can help buyers use the 8K tax credit to cover closing costs, buy down your interest rate or put down more than 3.5%!!!

It's a complicated system they're in the process of developing but this is wonderful news for buyers. Hurrah!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Kicked to the Curb v. 2

How timely! After blogging about my clients that were almost homeless, Elizabeth Razzi of the Local Address blog ran this story:

"Renters Get New Protection From Foreclosure".

To quote Elizabeth:

"Starting immediately, the law requires that tenants who pay their rent on time can remain in their home until the end of their lease, unless the bank sells the property to someone who intends to make it his own residence. Even without a lease, renters must be allowed to stay in their home for 90 days after the foreclosure."

This is a big change from the previous policy which was "GET OUT NOW". Yea!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Food news

Metrocurean reports that Cork Wine Bar is opening a retail space down the street. Yea! Wine store in the 'hood. We used to have a little wine store on 9th St. It was so great to be able to stroll down the street and buy good wine from smaller producers. It went belly up (probably due to the management not from demand) so this will be a welcome addition.

I also tried Pitango, the new gelato shop on P St. today. It was good but expensive! $5 for a small. Yowza. I had the Lemon sorbet which was really refreshing.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Summer lovin'

With Memorial Weekend upon us, summer is officially beginning. I'm really excited we've had 3 days of sunshine in a row!

Yesterday, a high school buddy was in town before a flight. She had a couple of hours so we went to the Smithsonian Sculpture Garden and sat at the fountain. We sat in the sun and dipped our toes in the water. DC..oh how I love thee. (hahaaa!)

I also tried Tangy Sweet yogurt (Penn Quarter) for the first time. OMG. I'm in love. I'd never indulged in the Fro-yo phenom that swept the country last year. I will be FULLY indulging the rest of the summer. Yum. This is great discovery because Ben's has become too busy to pop in for a milkshake. Which is a shame because Ben's has one of the best milkshakes in the city. Ho hum.

Although this is a holiday weekend for most people, I'm working. I'll be showing property in the Brookland neighborhood. I'm excited because I'm not that familiar with the area. I recently attended a baby shower for a friend in Brookland and was fascinated by the cute houses. 4 bedroom house for 300-400K? Score! I'll let you know what I find.

Meanwhile, have a lovely Memorial Day Weekend!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Ye hawwww


Last week, I went to Charleston, SC to celebrate my sister in law's graduation from Med School (YEA Lauren!) I had a wonderful time. The weather was beautiful and the graduation party was amazing. Matthew (my brother) had a mobile pizza oven provide the food. It rocked! It was basically a wood burning stove on wheels that produced some outstanding pizzas. Yum. Anyway..enough of my rhapsodizing about the food.

One of the things I've been contemplating since returning was people's reactions about the real estate market. Everyone knows I'm an agent. Everyone was hesitant to ask how it was going. It's a natural reaction..according to the National news, the market is a mess. I could have as easily said "horrible" instead of "great." There were a lot of surprised faces when I replied. It made me thankful that I live in DC. (Again! Maybe I should write a goofy FB parody about 25 things I love about DC. Hmm.)

Matthew is a home inspector in SC and owns his own inspection company, Live Oak. After returning to this subject again and again, I gave him a call. I was curious: was business SO bad in SC that I should have expected that reaction from people? According to the number of home inspections he's completed this year, no. Business is not that bad. It's on par with last years numbers. He's owned his own company for 3 years and it's growing. About half of his inspections have been foreclosures. Contracts are on the rise. Are they at the same level as five years ago? Nope. But it's not completely dead.

That just goes to show you how each real estate market is really localized. As I often discuss on this blog, business isn't horrible. It isn't where it was in '07 but it's not as bad as '08. That's progress! Maybe a recovery IS coming.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Kicked to the curb

Like everyone, I've been following the stories about short sales and foreclosures. I've probably been following these stories more closely than most because I'm a real estate agent. I've had one foreclosure sale and one short sale. Both took longer than a normal deal but they weren't horror stories. It was a pleasant surprise.

This week I've had really unpleasant experience with a short sale/foreclosure. Two of my clients, a very nice married couple named Bradley*, have been thrust into a really twisted situation due to a short sale/foreclosure.

They rent a unit in a condo building. The owner of the unit had been receiving lots of letters in the last several months. In April, one of these letters was addressed to the Resident. They opened the letter. Shockingly, it was notice that their unit was to go to auction May 19th. That's next week.

Meanwhile, the owners told them they were putting the unit on the market. These two events happened about the same time. The listing agent never gave them the "First Right of Refusal" (FRR) paper work. Anybody living in DC knows that tenants have very strong rights. Whenever an owner is selling a property and has tenants, the tenants have to be given the opportunity to buy the unit first. Thus the "First Right of Refusal" paper work.

She did say they could have a shot at making an offer. (But still no FRR paper work.) They were attempting to sell the unit as a short sale before it was auctioned for foreclosure.

The Bradley's decided to make an offer. They had spoken to the owner. The owner said they'd take an offer of 250K for a newish condo (completed in 2006) with parking. It's two blocks from the metro and it's about 660 square feet. That's an amazing deal!

The listing agent sent them a contract. The Bradley's decided they didn't want to work with her in a dual agency situation. (When one agent represents both the buyer and seller in a transaction.) They called me instead on the recommendation of a former client.

I met with the Bradley's and explained what to expect in a short sale situation. The next day we wrote and submitted an offer. The offer has been ratified by the seller. But in the case of short sale, the bank has final approval.

Basically, we're in limbo. We're waiting for an answer from the bank. The listing agent has indicated that our offer isn't good enough. The auction is next week. IF the auction does proceed and somebody buys the condo, they have to vacate immediately. Seriously.

They are besides themselves. They've lived in the condo for 2 years. They paid their rent on time. They're excellent tenants.

But in a foreclosure situation, they don't have many rights as tenants. It's really frustrating on many levels.

We do have a back up plan because I love a back up plan. There's another unit in the same building that they can rent. They can move into it next week, if needed.

But isn't this messed up on so many levels? What if they didn't have solid jobs? What if there wasn't another unit in the building? What if they didn't have the money for the security deposit?

Apparently, this scenario is playing itself out all over the US. I had read about it but I hadn't experienced it. Another real estate first..oh boy. I have numerous feelings about this situation. I'm sure you can imagine.

Crazy, isn't it?

UPDATE: 5pm, 5/12- I just received an email from the listing agent saying the bank has postponed the auction. WHEW.


*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of my clients.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

On Trend: Art=Sales




I love when I'm on trend and I don't realize it! I was catching up on the various blogs I like to peruse and Urban Turf had a post called "The Key to Selling Condos: Display Art at your Grand Opening."

The title explains the premise: good art=good sales. I hope this holds true for Harvard St, NW. When I was staging the property, I asked my friend Jason Robey if I could hang his art in the condos. It was a win, win situation. His art gets exposure. My walls get decorated. Sweet!

The picture above features three of his paintings. My favorite is hung in Unit 2 in the living room. I think the art added some panache to our Open House today. 32 people attended and I'm thrilled. That's great numbers especially for a holiday. Happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Staging ain't easy


For the last week and half, I've been consumed with staging 1221 Harvard St, NW. Once again, my "I can do that" mentality led to some hard work.

Staging is when a property is decorated with furniture. This helps a potential buyer envision what it'd be like to live in the property.

Staging ain't easy! The last several times I staged a property, it was really expensive. In one case, I lost a bundle (north of 5K) on a property that didn't sell. It was a lesson I learned the hard way. It wasn't pretty and it definitely stung. That particular deal was a hot mess, but let's focus on 1221 Harvard St.

In many cases, the seller pays for the staging. In this particular deal, I'm paying for it. I decided to buy the furniture. I have another vacant listing that will hit the market in a month or two. I could use the furniture again. If push comes to shove, I can sell it.

I made a list, consulted a number of websites, watched some HGTV shows and began the process.

Harvard St. had been staged previously. The furniture wasn't appropriate for the units. It was also painted a sage green. Buyers don't love sage green. I had it re-painted. I used furniture I felt would be more appropriate. I'm really happy with the results. (I'd also like to give a shout out to my hubby. The man put together MAJOR furniture. He also threw away a lot of boxes. In general, he's the man. You might have guessed that already since I married him.)

What do you think? Significant improvement??
http://vicaso.com/13331 and http://vicaso.com/13335

If you want to see my efforts live, please stop by the Open House this Sunday from 1:00-4pm. I hope to see you there!!










Monday, May 4, 2009

Remember Illinois Ave?


My last post about this property generated a couple of comments so I thought I'd give an update.

Despite all of my outrage about the offer for 150K, my clients ran out of time and had to take it. It wasn't the outcome that I wanted for them but they needed the money. (A quick refresher: they were selling the house to fund an elderly Aunt's stay in a home.)

The deal closed in the beginning of April and I've been consumed with work. I hadn't thought about the property a lot.

Interestingly, when I was showing property on Saturday, I ran across Illinois Ave. again. Yep..the company that bought it is in the process of renovating and flipping it. It'll be available in June for $374,955.

You might have read about Express Homebuyers in the City Paper's Blog Housing Complex in April. This is the company that's listing Illinois Ave. It's not in the MLS yet. They are advertising the house in their weekly emails and flyers of current listings.

All is have to say is "hmmmmm." I can't decide how I feel about this. On one hand, good for Express Homebuyers. They're following their business plan and it's working. On the other hand, uf. I feel for my former clients. I wish they had more time to get a better price for the house. ESPECIALLY after seeing proposed listing price. Oh well. It's over now. But hmmmmmmmmmmm.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

L&F job loss protection program

I'm about two weeks behind this news flash. I wanted to mention it because it is a great program for sellers to offer potential buyers. L&F is really excited about the program. Check out the details in a post from Elizabeth Razzi's blog, Local Address. She summarizes the main points very well.

Monday, April 27, 2009

In my perfect world



Last week, I went on a mini-vacation to Philly. My sister-n-law (SIL) was at a medical conference for 5 days. My cousin Josh and his wife have lived there for 4 years and we've never visited. (I'm a bad relative. I know.)

I've been to Philly before but it was years ago. I think I fell in love. We stayed in Center City, went to the Rodin Museum and dined at some amazing places. But my FAVORITE place of the 2 days was Reading Terminal Market. It's a fresh, public market place with numerous merchants. There was local produce, pastries, cheeses, meats, seafood, condiments, cookies, a raw bar, a gyro stand, Middle Eastern food, coffee, etc. etc. I was in food geek heaven. I could have spent hours there.

I know we have Eastern Market, but it's in Cap Hill. I want a market like this in NW. Preferably on the U St. Corridor. I'm thinking the old church on the corner of 14th and T St. could be converted to a market like Reading Terminal and all would be right in my little world. Hello??..developers..read my blog.