Friday, January 28, 2011

State of the Market 1/11

As January winds down, I thought an update on the state of the market 2011 would be apt.  Here's what's happening so far:

Inventory is FINALLY increasing.  The number of listings on the market always decreases in the colder months.  As the weeks have progressed in January, the number the new listings in the MLS has proliferated.  This is an excellent development.  It's been slim pickings.  

People are back in the game.  Anything "good" has been getting multiple offers.  According to one agent on my team, he's already encountered three multiple offer situations on desirable properties in January.  One in Dupont, one in Eckington and one in Shaw.  I think this trend will continue throughout the Spring.  Will it be a "do over" of the 2005/2006 market?  I hope not but who knows.  If inventory doesn't increase dramatically, multiple offer situations will continue.  Urban Turf also noted the luxury market is making a come back.  Although the multiple offers scenarios doesn't bode well for my buyers, I'm encouraged the market is brisk.

Rates are still low.  According to Jennifer Landgraff at First Financial Services, Inc., rates on a 30 year conforming loan with a 20% down payment on a single family home are 4.875% and 5.25% on jumbo loans.  When I purchased in 2007, rates for 6.1% and I was thrilled.  How times have changed!

Selling remains tough.  The days on the market average has decreased to about 60 days from 120 days in 2008/2009.  The name of the game is price and presentation.  The Post recently published an article about seller difficulties and I agree with many of it's points.  If buyers don't feel they're getting a deal, they're not interested.  The property also has to look good.  I saw a listing today that had a PINK dining and living room.  Really?  

Overall, I'm hopeful.  Let's see if I retain that feeling over the next several months.

*photo of 3118 Sherman Ave, NW priced at $559,900 courtesy of Matrix. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Golden Coast

Over the weekend, my husband and I escaped to California.   It's his birthday next weekend and January is a great time to travel.  Business is starting to pick up but it's not insane.  Plus, it's been 20 to 30 degrees for most of the month.  I needed some sunshine, STAT.

This year we headed to Southern California to visit my Aunt and Uncle plus friends that recently relocated from DC to LA.  My Aunt and Uncle live in Pasadena in a very swanky neighborhood.  We passed one house that had recently sold for $40,000,000!  My favorite bit was the Spanish architectural influence.   There were many houses with adobe walls and tiled roofs. 

Below: a "cottage" in my Aunt and Uncle's neighborhood.  I loved the intricate design of gate.  

Along with exploring Pasadena neighborhoods, we took a whirlwind tour of the dining scene in LA.  We hit Rivera, Lucques, Red Medicine, The Foundry, Sugarfish and Craft.  All were amazing in one aspect or another but Sugarfish and Craft were the stars.   

We also jaunted about Beverly Hills, shopped on Rodeo and Wilshire, hiked Runyon Canyon and strolled about Santa Monica Pier (pictured above).   It was a quick trip that we enjoyed immensely.  I'm already missing the wonderful 70 degree weather.   

Monday, January 24, 2011

Affordable Art Online

Outfitting your new home with furniture, accessories and art can be expensive.  I'm constantly looking for affordable, original items to put on my walls.  Through my voracious reading habits, I've come across some great resources.   

One great source is 2Modern.  As you've seen from various photos that I've posted, my furniture is mid-century modern and I want my art/wall hangings to reflect that aesthetic. I purchased the limited edition print above by Campbell Laird for $300 and I'm thrilled with the results.

I also love the website Textile Arts.  This site is Marimekko heaven.  Not only does it give you access to various bolts of fabric for drapes or pillows, they also have wall hangings and wallpaper.  I purchased the Lumimarja kit in the 48"x48" size for a wall near my kitchen and it looks amazing.  It only cost $80.  (Prices have gone up in the last three years so now it costs $95.  For the size of the piece, it's still an excellent price.) 

Two other websites I recently discovered are and Exhibition A.   I haven't purchased anything on either of the sites (YET).  So far I've been browsing and bookmarking items like mad.

Zatista is original art work with a range of prices.  It's accessible to the average buyer and most importantly, it's not intimidating.

Exhibition A is a "members only website that sells exclusive editions of artwork by top contemporary artists."  The setup is similar to HauteLook or Rue La La but for art.  I think it's ingenious. is another great option.  I recently purchased a black and white photo of a Paris Ferris Wheel from Bliss Goodloe Photography for $24.  The revamping of my guest bathroom is still in progress and this was a recent addition. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Is this your view when you get home?

This amazing vista is from 3303 Water St., NW #7H which hit the market this week.  It's a stunner.  For a mere $2,995,000, it could be yours.  Can you imagine gazing at that scene every evening?  How lovely!

The interior of the condo is comely as well.  The kitchen is by Eggersman and the baths are by Waterworks.  It has 2 bedrooms, 2.5 baths and 3 parking spaces.  This is a fancy place with fantastic accouterments.  Isn't it fun to peek into lives of others? 

*photo courtesy of Matrix

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Down at the Bayou

My only New Year's resolution for 2011 was to check out one new restaurant a month.  I'm in a rut.  DC has wonderful restaurants and I only go to three on a regular basis.  They are my favorites and they're always good so why mess with perfection, right?  That attitude is why I made the resolution.   

My first stop on the new restaurant tour of 2011 was Bayou in Foggy Bottom.  (See?  I am leaving my four block radius on a more regular basis.  Pat on back, please.)  Formerly the Rookery, I wasn't expecting much except amazing food.  When the Rookery decided to revamp as Bayou, a New Orleans inspired bar and restaurant, they hired Rusty Holman as the chef.  (See post here about his stint on a food truck.)  I've been lucky to be a dinner guest when Rusty was cooking and he makes damn good food.

At first glance, I thought Bayou was going to be a total dive.  Latticework and clear plastic do nothing for your curbside impression.  I know it's winter so the clear plastic is a necessary evil to keep the outside area warm for the smokers.  But latticework?  

This impression is blown out of the water once you enter Bayou.  It's warm and welcoming.  There's a long bar, a few TV's and several tables on the first floor.  The bar offers a cocktail list inspired by New Orleans.

Upstairs, there's a stage for live music, a bar and lots of tables.  We sat in a curved banquette overlooking Pennsylvania Ave.  The menu has a few classic New Orleans dishes like gumbo, jambalaya, and blackened catfish.  In addition to those items, there's steak, fried chicken, crawfish pasta, and salads.  Our table sampled most of the menu and every bite was delicious.  Rusty has a way with a collard green. 

The live music was a treat.  We saw two acts:   Zachary Smith and the Dixie Power Trio.  I love jazz and enjoyed the music immensely.  Although it made conversation difficult at times, it was a pleasant addition to the evening. 

There were a few kinks in the service but that's to be expected.  Bayou launched on New Year's Eve.   A new restaurant always needs a few weeks to make everything run smoothly.  Overall..Bayou was a great time and I'll be going back.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Friday, January 14, 2011

What in the sam hill??

On first glimpse, I'm confused.  Is it a house?  A boat?  Then I look a little closer and see it's a house.  This is when I love my job! 

This beauty hit the market today for $3,450,000.  It's the personal residence of Travis Price, a world renown architect.  At the time of writing, the virtual tour hasn't been posted to the MLS.  I bet it's going to be a doozy.  Unfortunately, this isn't going to be a house where the average yahoo can have a lookie loo.  It's appointment only.  Bring on the photos so we can live vicariously!

12/16-Holy cow the photos are finally up.  Boat from the front, 3 levels of glass on the back with a "living in the woods" feel.  Truly one of the most interesting houses I've ever seen.   WOW.

*photo courtesy of Matrix

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Another Modern gem

I was catching up on my reading when I saw this post on Urban Turf.  Check out this amazing Modern house on Arizona Ave, NW.  I want it..I need it...too bad I can't afford it.  It's listed for $1,295,000.  Sometimes it sucks to have such expensive taste. 

*photo courtesy of Matrix

Monday, January 10, 2011

Pho'-licious part deux

There's nothing better than a steaming bowl of pho on a cold, wintry day.   The latest DC additions to Pho 14 and Nam Viet is Pho DC.  I saw some press on Metrocurean so I had to give it a whirl. 

Located in Chinatown, it's an easy Metro from U St.  (That's right..I do leave my 'hood for good food.)  My first visit was the week after Christmas.  I walked in at lunch time and it was jammed.  I had to wait about 15 minutes before I grabbed a seat at the bar.  It's a long, narrow attractive space with simple lines.  The decor matters but really, it's all about the broth.  I had the beef pho and I loved it.  It wasn't gristly lumps of meat floating in a oily slick.  Instead, the broth was clear and nicely flavored.  The noodles were yummy and the meat was substantial.  It was delicious. 

It was also tasty my second visit.  The service is a little shaky but it just opened.  The staff is very attentive but there always seems to be a little confusion about who is getting what.  As with all new restaurants, it takes a few weeks for everything to coalesce.  I have high hopes for this place! 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Photos "Exposed"

I like photos and I take a lot of pictures for this blog.  I also enjoy documenting various occasions and moments plus images that catch my fancy.

As you know from this post, I received a new camera for my birthday.  It's a "toy" camera from Japan and takes super, saturated color photos or slightly blurry black and whites.  All from that teeny, tiny camera.  (It fits in my palm.)

When I saw that DCist was accepting submissions for their annual DCist Exposed Photography Show, I decided to enter two photos.  I doubt they'll be chosen.  I don't know a thing about composition.  But why not?  It cost $5 and took 5 minutes.  To the left is my first photo.  It's a portion of the Berlin Wall in the Newseum.  I took it with my Harinezumi.

The other picture I submitted is a bocche score board from the Baltimore Little Italy courts.  The contrast of the brick and concrete with the rustic sign appeals to me.

So far over 300 photographs have been submitted.  The deadline is 1/12/11.  The exhibit opens March 15th at Longview Gallery and runs to March 27th.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Starting the year with a bang

Today I submitted an offer on the house above..a very cute, renovated town house.  I was excited.  What a great way to begin 2011.  Yippee!

I've been working with this client for a couple of months and we've missed a few opportunities.  She's a first time home buyer and the process is a lot to absorb.  This house has been on the market for 39 days and when I spoke to the "agent" yesterday, he said he hadn't received any offers.

My client wanted to start low.  It was around 30K off list.  That was about 10% off the list price. In DC, you can generally expect to get 3-5% off the list price.  10% off list is considered a low ball offer.  I knew this wasn't an ideal way to open negotiations but you do what your client asks.  Plus, a developer is selling it.  Developers are normally only concerned about the net price and making a sale.  They respond to all offers even low balls.  Although I counseled this tactic was risky, I didn't think it'd be a big deal.  Instead, I got an email from the "agent" that he's not going to counter.  In fact, he told me when my client was serious, we could submit a real offer.  He also told me he had two other offers. 

This was not the reaction I was expecting.  I assumed they'd counter closer to list price.  On my listings last year, all offers were consistently 5-10% off the list price or more.  That's never what a seller wants to see but that's how buyers roll these days.  You work it out so both sides are happy.

Also, my client has a good job, is pre-qualified with a respectable bank and most importantly:  SHE'LL MAKE IT TO CLOSING.  Key factors to a successful deal these days.

Turns out, the listing is really a FSBO.  (For Sale By Owner.)  The "agent" was really the owner.  This fact is not disclosed in the listing. 

The situation above is why agents hate FSBO's.  His definition of a "serious" offer is a full price offer.  Really?  Why are you trying to flip a house in this market if that's your expectation?  After 39 days on the market and sold comps that are consistently 10-25K off list?  If it was the right price, it'd be gone already.  This is not 2006, Mr. Developer. 

I was really, really hoping '11 would evolve into a different sort of real estate year than '10.  Apparently, it's going to be more of the same.

*photo courtesy of Matrix