Monday, February 28, 2011

I spy...

two interesting listings that are perfect for first time home buyers!  The first is 1324 Euclid St, NW #101.  It's a corner unit 2 bedroom (1 bedroom + den), 1 bath for 399K.  It's a 1000 sf (!!!), has all the prerequisite DC standards: stainless steel appliances, hardwood floors, open floor plan.  It also has 10 ft ceilings, a bay window, a marble bath and an Elfa closet. 
The second is 1661 Park St, NW #206.   It's also 2 bedroom, 1 bath condo but it's located Mt. Pleasant.  It's 831 sf, has hardwood floors, a renovated, open kitchen (ideal for entertaining), a renovated bath and both bedrooms are sizable.

Either of these would be a good buy for buyers looking for a two bedroom that's *relatively* affordable.  (Affordable in DC.  I know what 399K buys everywhere else in the country.  Gotta love DC prices.)  

*photos courtesy of Matrix

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Numbers: How Much Certain Improvements Add To Your Sales Price

Listing agents tell sellers repeatedly that certain improvements will add dollars to their sales price.  They tell owners to repaint, to de-clutter, update kitchen and bathrooms and replace carpet.  Many sellers resist making these changes.  This was evident as I perused the new listings on the market this week. I saw numerous photos where sellers didn't listen.  There was clutter, brightly painted walls, dated fixtures and appliances.  Ugh.  
 (Beautifully edited but buyers don't want a red and yellow dining room)

Two articles recently took the improvements mentioned above (or lack therefore) and added values.  Quantifying these steps emphasizes the importance of performing these tweaks before selling your property.  The first article I referenced in an earlier blog post:  "The Top 5 Home Improvements Based on Average Cost and Return on Investment."  This is fascinating:

1. Cleaning and de-cluttering – ($290 cost / $1,990 price increase / 586% ROI)
2. Lightening and brightening – ($375 cost / $1,550 price increase / 313% ROI)
3. Home staging – ($550 cost / $2,194 price increase / 299% ROI)
4. Landscaping – ($540 cost / $1,932 price increase / 258% ROI)
5. Repairing electrical or plumbing – ($535 cost / $1,505 price increase / 181% ROI)

Another article that notes various improvements and how much they add or subtract from your price is "To Sell An Apartment, No Detail Is Too Small." from the NY Times.  Below are a few of the topics discussed in the article:

1. Clutter: Subtract 5 to 15 percent. 
2. Dirty rugs: subtract $5,000.
3. Replacing cabinets: add $107,000.
At the end of the day, a Realtors job is to get the best possible price for their client.  In order to do so, implementing the ideas a Realtor suggests will give sellers the results they desire.  Here's the numbers to prove it.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Do Over

Last October, I wrote about my desire to redo my guest bathroom. As I searched blogs and magazines for inspiration, I wrote about the fantastic skull wallpaper that I found by Graham&Brown.  After a lot of consideration, I passed on the wallpaper.  Although I loved it, my pragmatism overruled. 

Instead, I used an image from The Sartorialist as my inspiration.  There's something about a sharply dressed man in charcoal and camel that appealed to my sensibilities.  Why couldn't I recreate the look in my bathroom?
I already had the camel travertine tile.  The next step was finding the appropriate charcoal paint.  After trying several samples, I chose Pewter by Valspar.  The final result was exactly what I wanted.  The paint appears to have purple undertones in the pictures.  In reality, it doesn't.  (It's hard to photograph a bathroom with no natural light.  I included the pictures with/without the lights for that reason.)

To complete the new look, I added a poster by and black and white photographs.  The photo of the New River bridge in WV was a wedding gift.  (Thanks Keffers!)  The two small photos are postcards from Capri that I framed.  The ferris wheel photo is from the Esty shop of Bliss Goodloe.  When you compare the finished result (above) to the guest bathroom before (below), you can see why the guest bathroom needed a "do over." 
(How sad are those two little postcards before I re-framed them??)
*photo of man in camel/charcoal courtesy of The Sartorialist

Monday, February 21, 2011


I read a lot of blogs.  It's one of my favorite ways to relax, catch up on the latest trends in home design and fashion, find out what's happening locally and keep current with the latest happenings in real estate.

I've been reading a design blog called COCOCOZY for about two months.  The author, Coco, has recently launched a line of home goods that I love.  It's a known fact that I am obsessed with all things geometric (florals begone!) and her collection delivers.  It's Coco's first collection and she's focusing on pillows, throws, bedding, fabrics and drapes.  Below is a sample of one of my favorite pillows from her collection.  It's definitely worth checking out.   

Quatrefoil in black and white.  Photo courtesy of COCOCOZY.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Holy shmoly..Mt. Pleasant 3 bedroom house for 475K

1626 Oak St, NW is the latest deal I've discovered.  It's a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom rowhouse in Mt Pleasant for 475K.  It's 1001 sf, it has a back yard for grilling and two car parking.  It's located off 16th Street.  DC USA and the metro are a 15 minute walk.  There's an Open House tomorrow, 2/20 from 12-2pm, if you want to check it out yourself.  I bet they have a ton of traffic at the Open tomorrow.  There aren't a lot of single family homes in this price range in Mt. Pleasant.   

*photos courtesy of Matrix

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Happy Hour at Al Crostino

Al Crostino was my go-to Italian joint for the first year and half I lived on U St.  After my initial love affair, I became fickle.  I started exploring shiny, new restaurants off my four block grid.  Although I've visited Al Crostino on occasion over the last year and half, I've never completely renewed my love affair.

There's a reason there's truth to the phrase "oldies but goodies."  Al Crostino recently introduced HAPPY HOUR two weeks ago and my love affair has resumed.  The menu is simple but elegant.  3 drinks:  Multipuciano (red), Pinot Grigio (white) or Prosecco (bubbles) for $4.  6 bites:  meatballs, arancini di riso (fried rice balls similar to croquettes), polenta bites, a selection of cured Italian meats and cheeses, grilled smoked mozzarella and eggplant or crostini.  All dishes are also priced at $4.  Each is scrumptious.

Another interesting development:  Al Crostino has recently changed hands.  Long time manager Juliana Nicolai recently purchased the restaurant from Luigi Diotaiuti of Al Tiramisu.  She's launching a new menu in the beginning of March.  Don't worry.  She's keeping the dishes treasured by regulars and adding dishes to entice mercurial (!) customers and newcomers alike.  

Monday, February 14, 2011


One of my favorite parts of owing a home is the ability to refresh the rooms.  When I moved into our condo, I utilized what I already owned.  Although I loved everything I employed in my initial decorating frenzy, my taste has evolved.  Recently, I revamped my bedroom.  Below is the before and after:
I'm a big fan of color (as if you couldn't tell from my other photos.)  My bedroom is pale yellow.  The furniture is my great grandmother's bedroom suite.  I refinished the set and added new pulls.  The chairs were my Nana's.  Originally mauve velvet, they were recovered in 1998.  They're due to be recovered again but that's a project for later this year.  I'm already plotting what kind of fabric I'm going to buy at the Paul and Galbraith sale.

This is the bedroom now.  Same furniture, new configuration.  We installed hardwood floors in the bedrooms, I added new bedding, my JA lamps (SO EXCITED!!), a Campbell Laird poster and a dark gray upholstered headboard.  Same soothing, comfy atmosphere with a few elegant twists.  I love it. 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Holy shmoly..check out these deals.

As I mentioned in my last post, a few listings have recently hit the market have intrigued me.  They definitely fit the "holy shmoly" category.
The first is 1419 Clifton St, NW #303.  It's a 2 bedroom, 1 bath and it also has a sun room.  It has parking and it's 915sf.  It's $429,900.  You can walk down 14th St. to U St. or up 14th St. to Target.  Both are about a 10 minute walk.  I also like the building.  It isn't your typical, cookie cutter condo and has character.  Check it out this weekend on 2/13 from 1-4pm.
The second is 917 Kennedy St, NW.  It's a 4 bedroom, 3.5 bath house with parking in Petworth.  It's been renovated and has an open floor plan.  It's 1,080sf and it's listed at $339,700.   I don't think this is going to last long.  There aren't many renovated houses in Petworth at this price point!

Buyers...move fast.  The selling season has officially started!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Holy shmoly properties..what happened to them?

What happened to those properties that I've featured as good deals in previous posts?  My curiosity was piqued and I bet yours is too.  Here's the results:

In December, I featured this cute house that was listed at 289K. As predicted, it went fast.  It was under contract in 6 days.  Final price:  289K with an 11K seller subsidy.

In November, I featured this 3 bedroom condo that had just been reduced to $549,000 in Columbia Heights.  At 549K, it was $361 a square foot.  Somebody else thought it was a good deal too.  It sold for 535K with a 10K seller subsidy.   

Nice to see my instincts are on the money.  Next post:  more holy shmoly deals.  

Saturday, February 5, 2011


I've been preoccupied this week and it shows in my lack of posts.  Sorry Dad had surgery on Wednesday and it was major.  He's fine but he's still in the hospital.  Everything that's happening is "normal" according to the doctors but it feels abnormal to me.  Seeing someone you love in a lot of pain seems unnecessary.  Especially when there's a lot of good pharmaceuticals out there.  But I digress.

Meanwhile, all hell has broken loose (in a good way!) on the real estate front.  Typically, the real estate season kicks off AFTER Super Bowl weekend.  Except this year, it's starting this weekend.  YEA!  I have a bevy of buyers and listing appts.  You'll be seeing those soon (I hope).

A few articles that caught my eye this week: 

The Post has a great article about selling your house:  "Trying to sell your home?  Take the theatrical approach."

Urban Turf posted about changes Obama wants to make to mortgages:  "Obama Administration Poised to Propose Mortgage Changes."

RisMedia talks about the top 5 home improvement projects and the return on your investment.  I thought this was fascinating:  Top 5 Home Improvement Projects Based on Average Cost and Return on Investment."

Last but not least, a fab, fun post of some gorgeous decor from Coco+Kelly"February Light."

*image via Elle Decor


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Kalorama Classic

I love the classic lines of the houses that line the streets of the Kalorama neighborhood.  Above is 2123 Leroy St, NW and it was listed today.  It's just under 6,000 square feet and has six bedrooms, six full baths and one half bath.  This house can definitely host a crowd.  This would be perfect for an Angotti Christmas Eve celebration!  Check out the amazing kitchen.  (below)
The price tag is hefty:  $3,595,000.   As you can tell from my multiple posts about houses in this price range, I have HUGE aspirations.