Thursday, June 30, 2011


I can't get it together today.  My mind is going in a million directions because a million things are happening at once. 

I'm thinking about my closing today.  I'm ecstatic this deal is FINALLY closing because it's been the source of a lot of angst the last two weeks.  This is the fourth closing date.  Use your imagination.

I'm tying up loose ends on the offer I submitted yesterday.  My client told me he's pre-qualified with a lender (yea!) but I just found out that lender is in LA (boo).  The chances of him being licensed in DC are slim to none.  My client is from this area so I assumed the lender was local.  I should know better..never assume anything in this business.  He'll be fine because he's got oodles of assets.  Plus we have a financing contingency.  Unfortunately, that doesn't help me *right now*.  Start the scramble to get a new letter. 

I'm lamenting my computer crash last November because I lost all my email correspondence.  It's deadly in my world and now it's biting me in the *ss.   A client just emailed looking for a conversation from 9/10 about their house that's going to closing next month.  Tragically, all those emails are gone.  The files were recovered but not the emails.  *sigh*

I'm reflecting about my Dad's retirement.  Today is his last day of work.  Ever.  Isn't that exciting?? 

I'm musing about this weekend.  We're heading out of town for the holiday weekend.  Hip hip horaa! 

I'm brooding about the drive.  Due to the multiple changes of my closing date, we now have to leave with the hoi poi.  Bring on the road rage.

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Loan Limits

On Monday, The Washington Post published an article about how loan limits are going to affect high end home prices in the DC area. To summarize, "this fall, the government is scheduled to stop backing loans of more than $625,500, making them subject to higher interest rates and down payments. The change could drag down home prices, especially in upscale neighborhoods, and deliver yet another blow to the faltering housing market.

It was also hot topic at our weekly meeting.  There was a lot of speculation if the limits will be extended or not.  Also discussed was how it would impact our business and real estate in general.  Meanwhile, the limits are set to expire on September 30th, 2011.  This does not bode well for our region, which has shown recent price growth of 4.3% in March 2011 vs. March 2010. 

Why are realtors up in arms about this change?  DC is expensive. Lowering the loan limits is going to make it more difficult (and it's already difficult, thank you very little shady lenders from 2001-2007) for buyers to buy and sellers to sell.  Already, sellers who were waiting to sell in the Fall are reconsidering that strategy.  Ditto with buyers. 

As someone from North Carolina recently commented on my Facebook page,  "A 2 bedroom for only 997K?  It's a steal!"  Yes..I understand your sarcasm but that's the DC market.  That condo happened to be in a luxury building in the middle of Foggy Bottom, it was 1400 square feet and had garage parking.  You pay top dollar for the convenience of city living especially if it's luxury living. 

Welcome to the DC market.  It's unique, expensive and vibrant.  It certainly isn't the same as markets in other parts of the country.  Below is graphic about prices dropping through out the country...except in DC.
Graphic via The Washington Post.  Source: Standard & Poor's

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Riveting Rooms

Virgina Beach Back Yard by William McDonough + Partners
Over the weekend, I attended a going away party/cook out in the suburbs of Virginia.  Although the occasion was lamentable, it was a beautiful night to mingle outside.  One of the highlights of my evening was enjoying the sensation of being barefoot in the back yard as the temperature cooled. 

Standing in the grass (I can't tell you the last time I stood in grass!  It's all concrete or sand in my life) inspired this weeks Riveting Room.

This impressive house was designed by William McDonough + Partners.  The incredible landscaping in the back yard is by Nelson Byrd Woltz.  Located in the Virgina Beach area off the Chesapeake Bay, it's visually stunning.  Could you imagine this ambling through this oasis every day?  I can. 

*photo from William McDonough + Partners website via Elle Decor

Monday, June 27, 2011

Earl's Sandwiches

Earl's Louie-roasted turkey, lettuce, tomato, pesto mayo
Every once in a while, I cross the bridge and sample Virginia's fine options.  My best friends, who lived in the Courthouse area for many years, recommended Earl's Sandwiches. 

Earl's is so good that I took my husband there for our Valentine's lunch.  They roast their own turkey, pork and beef and their fries are hand cut.  My favorite is the Louie, shown above.  The Cubano, the French Dip and the Turkey Cranberry are delicious as well.  If you're in Virginia, Earl's is a must. 

Friday, June 24, 2011

First Friday-Petworth Edition

Petworth has a number of stately Wardman rowhouses at affordable prices.  Properties tend to move fast especially if they're well priced, located on one of the circles or close to the Petworth Metro.
27 Sherman Circle, NW
27 Sherman Circle, NW main level kitchen
27 Sherman Circle, NW is a three bedroom, 3 full bath rowhouse listed for $334,900.  It's 2417 square feet and the yearly taxes are $3,055.  It's a foreclosure (hence the low price..normal price would be in the 400K range), it's been updated (hardwood floors, stainless steel appliances, granite, central ac/heating), it has off street parking AND it has a rental unit in the basement.  I sense a bidding frenzy in the making.  It's Open Saturday 6/25 and Sunday 6/26 from 1-4pm. 
5007 8th St, NW
5007 8th St, NW kitchen
5007 8th St, NW is a three bedroom, two full bath rowhouse listed for $339,000.  It's 1,336 square feet and the yearly taxes are $2,874.  It's located north of Sherman Circle.  The property has also been updated with hardwood floors on the main level, an open kitchen with granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances, off street parking, a finished basement and a free LCD TV.

*photos courtesy of MRIS

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Dark and Stormy

Dark and Stormy at Jack Rose
Today's cocktail of choice is the Dark and Stormy.  As with the Moscow Mule, ginger beer plays a big role.  *Another day and another cocktail because work still is horrible. sigh*

The picture above is the Dark and Stormy from Jack Rose.  Their version had fancy ingredients that I didn't write down and it was very, very good.    

*Jack Rose just opened and has an amazing roof deck.  The downstairs dining saloon is opening today or tomorrow.  The food on the bar menu looks good but I haven't sampled anything beyond drinks.  Therefore, I'll write more at later date.  It is a beautiful building and the design is stunning.  I love all the rustic elements.*

To make a Dark and Stormy at home, you need the following:

Dark and Stormy

1 collins glass
4-5 oz. Gosling's Ginger Beer
lemon or lime for garnish

Fill collins glass with ice, add 4-5 oz. of ginger beer and top with 2 oz. of rum.  Add a lemon or lime slice for garnish.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

My Perfect Summer Cocktail Part 2

Moscow Mule
I recently rediscovered the Moscow Mule.  I forgot how much I love the combo of lime, ginger beer and vodka on a hot evening.  It's a refreshing, light cocktail that's perfect for summer.  Give it a whirl!

Moscow Mule
1 collins glass
2 oz. Grey Goose or Russian Standard Vodka
1 oz. fresh squeezed lime juice
4 to 6 ounces Gosling's Ginger Beer

Fill collins glass with ice.  Add vodka, lime juice and top mixture with ginger beer.  Stir.  Enjoy.  

*Work sucks.  This week, I'm only blogging about real estate on First Friday.  You know the old adage:  "If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all."  Instead, I'll write about cocktails because work is making me want to drink...a lot.* 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Riveting Rooms

Traditional Home: Design Ideas for White Kitchens
I constantly day dream about what I want in our next property.  Cooking and entertaining is one of my true joys.  Therefore the kitchen and it's layout is important.  We currently have an open floor plan where the kitchen opens to the dining and living areas.  I love the functionality of being able to cook and entertain guests at the same time.

In our next place, I want a similar floor plan but with a few upgrades:  a hood, more storage space, and a wine refrigerator.  The kitchen featured above on the Traditional Home website is a first class representation of the elements I love:  classic, modern, elegant, and serviceable.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Shake Shack

Shake Shack burgers: one single, two doubles
This weekend, my husband and I finally sampled Shake Shack in Dupont Circle.  Based on the hype, I was expecting good things and they delivered. 

We arrived at the tail end of the lunch hour on Saturday and the line was out the door.  Big sighs and lots of cussing ensued on my husband's end.  But the money was in the meter (Yes, I drove.  I had to meet a client afterward.) so off we went.  The line moved quickly.  Total line time was about ten minutes.  I had a single Shake burger and a vanilla shake.  My husband ordered two (!) double burgers.  One was for lunch, the other for his late afternoon "snack."  (Jeez, I wish I had his metabolism).  We didn't bother with fries. 

I loved my burger.  It was cooked medium (hallelujah) which was fantastic.  I love 5 Guys but they cook the living hell out of those burgers.  I liked the Shake sauce.  The milkshake was pretty damn good too.  My hyper-critical foodie husband also liked it.  Consensus:  GO.  It's yummy, fun experience. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

First Friday-U St. Edition

This week, I'm featuring two condos around U St., NW.
1744 U St, NW #C
1744 U St, NW #C is more Adams Morgan than U St. Corridor.  It's a 2 bedroom, 1.5 bath condo for $417,000.  It's 831 square feet, the condo fee is $275 and the yearly taxes are $2,675.  It's a short walk to Dupont Circle,  Logan Circle or U St., two different Metro stops (Dupont or U St.), bars/ restaurants and two grocery stores.  It's two levels with hardwood floors in the upper level.  Upstairs is the living room and the fireplace, downstairs is the two carpeted bedrooms and 1.5 baths.  There's no virtual tour yet but the description says "a little dated."  It was built in 1981 so I'm thinking it's straight 80's:  laminate counters, cabinets that have the brown stripe and slightly choppy rooms.  A little updating would make it as fantastic as the location.
2120 Vermont Ave, NW #418
#418 living room
#418 kitchen with bar
2120 Vermont Ave, NW #418 is at the opposite end of U St, NW.  This is a 2 bedroom, 2 bath condo with garage parking for $459,000.  It's 888 square feet, the condo fee is $488 and the yearly taxes are $3,718.  The property features an open floor plan, a lot of windows, high ceilings, hardwood floors, granite counter tops in the kitchen/baths and stainless steel appliances.  It's 2 blocks to the U St. Metro (green/yellow line), across the street from the 9:30 Club and minutes to various restaurants and bars.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Summer Obsession: Tangy Sweet Frozen Yogurt

Tangy Sweet in Penn Quarter
I have a client that's under contract to buy a condo in Penn Quarter.  Which provides me with the perfect opportunity to stop at Tangy Sweet to grab a frozen yogurt.  I'm partial to the classic with rainbow sprinkles.  If you're in Dupont Circle or Penn Quarter, stop and give it a whirl.  I love it!
*photos courtesy of Tangy Sweet Yelp page.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

On my soap box

Last night I went to a fundraiser for American Diabetes Association on the roof top of the Newseum Residences.  It was a beautiful night with stunning views (see above) for a great cause.

I spent most of the night debating a financial advisor that's advising his multi-million dollars clients to NOT invest in real estate in DC.  He feels renting is a smarter option.  Needless to say, I was flabbergasted. 

First, a disclaimer.  I'm a real estate agent.  Of course I think you should buy real estate and that it's a good investment. 

(This is when I get on my soap box.) Beyond my natural inclinations, let's note the Harvard study that talks about the lack of affordable rentals in the United States.  In addition, there's the recent Trulia report that it's still  cheaper to buy than rent in DC (and in 50 other states in the US).  What the hell is that guy talking about and why is he advising his clients in such a manner?  Does he read the news? 

I'm always up for a debate but in this case, I think I've proved my point.  What do you think?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Riveting Rooms

Courtney Cox's outdoor fire pit with custom banquettes from Elle Decors July 2011 issue
The glorious weather of the last two days has left me longing for more lounging outside.  This weeks "Riveting Room" is from Elle Decors feature about Courtney Cox's Malibu house.  This outdoor area is stunning and so is the view.  The design blogs have been going gaga about this feature with good reason:  the aesthetic creating by Cox and her interior designer Trip Haensich is simple, rustic and modern.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Real Estate Roundup

Back to the grind.  This round up focuses on financing.  New and proposed financing rules are changing the purchasing landscape.  This does not bode well for the real estate industry and will make my job (more!) difficult.  *long sigh*. 

Rates are low but if you're looking to refinance, find out the new rules.  "Changes in Refinancing" via The NY Times.

Discrimination against women much?  This makes me so angry.  "Pregnancy, maternity leave vex lenders" from The Washington Post.

Oh come on!  This plus 20% down?  Put me out of my misery now.  "Federal housing proposal would toughen debt restrictions on mortgages" courtesy of The Washington Post.

Based on the stories above, sellers as lenders will become the norm again.  "When the Seller is the Lender" by The New York Times.

Friday, June 10, 2011

First Friday-NC Coast

Want a second home?  Look at the NC coast for a reasonably priced (by DC standards.  I'm sure the NC POV is different) beach house. Here's two that caught my eye in Topsail.

910-A S. Anderson Dr.
Boat slip
910-A S. Anderson Dr. is a three bedroom, three bath duplex in a gated community for $549,000.  It's 1800 square feet, it was recently remodeled and it has a 30' deeded boat slip with a 10,000 lb. lift.  Amenities include two boat ramps, private parking area, and a gazebo for community use.  The house features hickory floors, stainless steel appliances, and storm protection.  It was originally listed at $575,000 and it's been recently reduced to $549,000.
2139A Ocean Blvd.
2139A Ocean Blvd dining room with views of the Point
2139-A Ocean Blvd. is a two bedroom, two and half bath duplex at Serenity Point for $355,000.  It's 1250 square feet.  The Point is on the southern tip of Topsail Island.  The house has views of the Point, the ocean and the sound.  Although I feel the house needs updating, I love the unrestricted panorama of the dunes.

*photos courtesy of

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Best of the Beach

Surf City Crab
Besides sitting on the beach and reading a million books, my favorite indulgence is the meals my husband whips up on the grill.  We have a revolving menu: hot dogs, hamburgers, grilled veggies, and always, local seafood.

The trip to the local fish market is one of his favorite traditions.  He frequents Surf City Crab.  This year, one of the options was a strawberry grouper.  Never heard of a strawberry grouper?  Me either but it was fantastic!  He grilled it with Soy Vay (ha!) Veri Veri Teriyaki sauce.  The sauce caramelized on the grill and it was absurdly delicious.  He also purchased regular grouper and made ceviche with pineapple, cilantro and lime.  He topped it off with a homemade corn, black bean and tomato salsa.  I love the beach. 
Strawberry Grouper:  Before
Strawberry Grouper:  After

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Hood Happenings

Taylor Deli is coming to 14th and T St, NW via 14th&U.  I am so excited!  Salad with pastina within walking distance.

Peregrine Espresso finally opens at 14th and S St., NW.  U St Girl and several other local bloggers attend the soft opening.  I've yet to try it because I have a love affair with my espresso maker at home.  Reports so far have been positive. 

Current Boutique opened.  It replaced the much loved Go Mama Go.  This is their first DC outpost.  Once again, there's been rave reviews.  I haven't strolled about this store either.  Work has been crazy the last two weeks.

I'm having technical difficulties at the moment.  Once they're resolved, I've got a few additional hood happenings and photos.  Stupid outages.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Riveting Rooms

Coastal Living: Decorating with Seaglass Colors
Later this week I'm heading to the NC coast.  My husband's niece is graduating from high school (woot!) and we're spending some time at my parent's beach house.  I'm looking forward to mornings on the deck, evenings on the porch, dinners looking at the water and beach time.

Monday, June 6, 2011

First Friday: Did they sell?

My original "First Friday" featured three properties.  Below is an update to see if they're still on the market, under contract or sold.

1437 Spring St, NW #32 for $349,000
1437 Spring Rd, NW is still on the market.  It's a 2 bedroom/1 bath condo for 349K located near the heart of Columbia Heights/DC USA.  It has hardwood floors, granite counter tops, and a fireplace.  It's 768 sf, the condo fee is $230, taxes are $2,267 a year.  It's been on the market 47 days.
1708 Summit Pl, NW #1708
1708 Summit Pl, NW #1708 sold for $505,000.  It hit the market at $529,000 and then the price was reduced by $10,000.  The reduction probably helped generate an offer.  It was on the market for 38 days.  To refresh your memory, it was a 2 bedroom, 2.5 bath condo with parking in a small boutique building.  It's 1137 sf, the condo fee is $305 a month and taxes are $4,614 a year.  It has a new kitchen, hardwood floors, a private patio and ELFA closet systems. 
2219 Ontario Rd, NW is currently under contract.  It was on the market 38 days and is probably slated to close sometime after the tenant vacates 6/11/11.  It's a 2 bedroom, 2.5 bath row house in Adams Morgan for 583K.  It's 1152 sf and the taxes are $4,853 yearly.  It's 3 blocks from the new Harris Teeter and 5 blocks to 18th St, NW.  

For me, this is an interesting snap shot of the market.  I thought the condo on Spring Rd. would be under contract due to the price for a 2 bedroom.  The other two moved at a normal pace.  Price and location are the biggest factors in property moving quickly.  

Friday, June 3, 2011

First Friday

This week I'm focusing on 2 bedroom and 2 bath condos.  I haven't talked about condos since my first "First Friday" and it's time to revisit.  
1833 S St, NW #
1833 S St, NW is a 2 bedroom, 1 bath condo in Dupont Circle for $299,000.  It's a basement unit which explains the aggressive pricing.  It has hardwood floors, lots of windows and is a fantastic location.  It's blocks to the Dupont Metro, restaurants and bars on 17th St and Conn. Ave.  It needs some updating.  The condo fee is $354.38 a month and the yearly taxes are $2,805.
1205 Clifton St, NW #B
1205 Clifton St, NW #B is a 2 bedroom, 2 bath condo with parking listed for $425,000.  It has a lovely front porch, hardwood floors through out, stainless steel appliances in the kitchen, granite counter tops in the kitchen and baths, programmable heated tile floors, Master Bath en suite with dual shower head system and a quaint back deck.  It's a short walk to either the Columbia Heights or U St. Metros, DCUSA, and 11th St. or U St. restaurants and bars.  The condo fee is $192 and the yearly taxes are $2,670.  Open House on Sunday 6/5 from 1-4pm. 

*Yes, I know 1205 Clifton St, NW is my listing and this is shameless promotion.  BUT I do feel it's a good deal and has appealing finishes.  Not 100% shameless promotion but it needed to be mentioned.*

**Photos courtesy of Matrix

Thursday, June 2, 2011

New listing and First Open This Weekend

1205 Clifton St, NW #B 
I have a new listing hitting the market today!  It's a charming 2 bedroom, 2 bath condo with parking on the first floor of a converted rowhouse.  It's priced at $399,000 and the condo fee is $192 a month.  

There's a sunny front porch, an open floor plan with hardwood floors through out, stainless steel appliances, granite counter tops in kitchen and baths, Elfa (!!) closet systems in both bedrooms, programmable heated tile floors in the bathrooms, a dual shower system in Master Bath and quaint back deck.  It's walking distance to Columbia Heights or U St. Metro, DCUSA, 11th St. or U St. restaurants and bars.  Click here for the virtual tour.

I'm holding it Open Sunday 6/5/11 from 1-4pm.  Come visit!
Perfect for after work relaxing and people watching.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Riveting Rooms

Rue May/June Issue p. 124
The recent days of 97 degree weather in DC has me dreaming of chaises and water views.  Rue's latest issue features a mid-century modern house in Malibu.  This image captures my fancy.