Friday, July 29, 2011

First Friday

This week, a condo at the Sonata at 301 Mass Ave, NW caught my eye.  The seller took a cookie cutter condo and added unique details.  Take a look.
301 Mass Ave, NW #607.
#607 kitchen view to entrance.
Living area with two balcony's and arched door.
301 Mass Ave, NW #607 is a 2 bedroom/2 bath condo with a garage parking spot.  It's listed for $469,900, the yearly taxes are $3,779 and it's 816 square feet.  The condo fee is $609. 

The unit has many unique design features which I adore.  The Sonata was built in 2006 and embraced the industrial look.  It has exposed duct work, concrete ceilings, hardwood floors, stainless steel appliances, and granite counter tops...all of the prerequisite elements in a newer DC building.  The seller went a step further and added amazing light fixtures which unfortunately, don't convey.  If I was the potential buyer, I'd negotiate that the lights remain  because they're gorgeous.  I also LOVE the arched door to the master bedroom the seller added.  The original door to the master bedroom was a sliding glass door.  The enormous arched door way is a fantastic focal point and emphasizing the ceiling height. 

If you'd like to take a peek for yourself, it's Open on Sunday, 7/31/11 from 1-3pm. 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The ins and outs of getting a deal to closing

1718 Harvard St, NW living room
In yesterday's post, the house on Harvard St, NW hadn't closed although it's been under contract for months.  I speculated there might be lender or tenant problems and that's why the closing had been delayed.  These days, getting a deal to closing is the hardest part of any real estate transaction. 

The recent article in the Huffington Post "Can a dying deal be saved?" also focuses on this problem.   Although the author concentrates on the market in NY, many of his points apply to any real estate market.

1.  Don't be surprised about how much paper work is needed for your loan.  Underwriting these days is no joke.  More than likely, there's going to be some "conditions" on the loan that are going to cause a major panic.  For example, previous clients had been pre-qualified by several different lenders, including some of the big boxes.  We found a place, it was under contract, and then WHAM.  The bank starting giving us problems about one of the sources of income.  Although my client worked for the Federal Government, it was through a contractor.  This contractor was considered a "temporary employer."  If you work for a temporary employer, you have to work with them for three years for your loan to be approved.  My client had been with the contractor for close to a year.  So much for those pre-qualification letters.  This caused all sorts of problems.  We had to find a new lender, do another appraisal and scramble for paper work mid deal.  We did close but it was an awful experience for my clients.

2.  If you're buying a condo or coop, make sure the building doesn't have a high investor ratio BEFORE you write a contract.  Having a high investor ratio wreaks havoc on your interest rate and your down payment.  The interest rate and down payment will be higher.  Also make sure the building meets Fannie and Freddie guidelines.  They're ever changing.  If the building doesn't meet their guidelines, your loan won't be funded.

3.  If there are tenants, make sure the listing agent is following the TOPA laws.  Has the listing agent given the first right of refusal?  When?  Has the second notice been given?  Are the tenants moving out as they're supposed to if they aren't going to buy the house?  If not, your closing could be delayed indefinitely.     

The moral to this story:  Be prepared.  Be ready for headaches.  Be patient. 

*photo via MLS

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

First Friday-Did they sell?

In April, I featured two houses that caught my eye.  Let's see what happened to them. 
606 14th St, NE was a 2 bedroom, 1 bath rowhouse in Capitol Hill within walking distance to H St. Corridor.  Listed for 349K, this is an excellent condo alternative.  Although it's narrow, it's 1096 square feet, has hardwood floors, a fireplace and off street parking.  The taxes are $3160 a year.  It went under contract in 10 days and sold for $348,000 with a $9,000 seller subsidy. Somebody got a good deal!
1713 Harvard St, NW is a 3 bedrooms, 2 bath town house located near the zoo for 619K.  Designed by modern architect Joseph Abel, it has an open floor plan, a lovely patio with a hot tub (!), and two car parking.  It's 1248 sf and the taxes are $4298 per year.  It was reduced to $599,000 and went under contract after 44 days.  It's still under contract in the MLS although it says the closing date is 6/30/11.  Maybe there's been problems with the loan or there were tenants.  Those are the two most common problems when the closing date gets delayed.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Riveting Rooms

Master bath in Nantucket from Elle Decor
I need to relax.  Heat and stress are making me one cranky lady.  This beautiful bathroom with the enormous tub overlooking sand dunes in Nantucket fits my needs.  I can feel myself unwinding as I look at the picture. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Blackbyrd Warehouse

Blackbyrd Warehouse
Blackbyrd Warehouse, the latest Hilton brother's venture, opened a week and a half ago.  POP has a great preview of the space which I read avidly.  You know I love a new restaurant in the 'hood especially one by the Hilton brothers as their food is always high quality.

My husband and I went last week and enjoyed the experience.  It's a raw bar so if you don't like seafood, this is not the place for you. 
Oyster happy hour
For the oyster lovers out there, they have an oyster happy hour from 5:30-7pm.  Oysters are $1.  I don't eat oysters but my husband loves them.  He said Blackbyrd's were fresh and delicious.

We also tried the heirloom tomato salad, the steamed shrimp, a special of red mullet stuffed with ratatouille and the crab cake sandwich. 

We were not impressed with the heirloom tomato salad.  Reviewers on Yelp! loved it but it needed more acid.  (I know I just went "Top Chef" on you.  But it did..a splash of lemon or vinegar would have made the dish outstanding.) 

Red mullet stuffed with ratatouille
The highlight of the meal was the red mullet stuffed with ratatouille.  I'd never eaten red mullet before and it was yummy.  The ratatouille was well seasoned and I loved the micro greens.  It seems the specials at Blackbyrd will be a highlight. 

The shrimp was what we expected:  steamed shrimp served cold.  I enjoyed them.  I also loved the finger bowl that they brought to the table after we finished with the shrimp. 

The crab cake sandwich was delicious.  It was rich, the slaw was a nice touch and we ate every bite. 

We'll visit again.  I loved the atmosphere, decor and as always, the music was excellent.  

*top photo via POP

Friday, July 22, 2011

First Friday

1335 R St, NW
I'm so excited to feature this listing today!  I drive down R St, NW a lot and I've been watching the progress of this place for months.  Several months ago, 1335 R St, NW was an empty lot.  The builders have been busy and today, it finally hit the market.

1335 R St, NW is two condos not a house.  Only 1335 R St., NW #1 has been listed in the MLS.  #1 is a 3 bedrooms/3 bath duplex unit (basement and first floors), it's 2,100 square feet.  It's listed for $1,200,000.  The condo fee is $241.79.  The taxes are TBD since it's new construction.  It has top of the line finishes (Sub Zero, Wolf and Bosch to name a few), a wine refrigerator, marble counters, Brazilian cherry hardwood floors, a gas fireplace, surround sound, outdoor space and secure parking.  

#2 is the exact same except it's the top two floors and it's listed for $1,400,000. As you can see from the top picture, they're completing the details.

Since there's no interior pictures posted, I can't wait to check out these condos myself.  Both are Open this weekend on Saturday and Sunday from 12-5pm.
1335 R St, NW rendering

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Cool it

It's too hot for me to think or write anything substantial.  I have brain melt.  I told my clients the wrong time for my closing!  I never get that mixed up.

I am focusing on staying cool today but I know it's going to be impossible.  I have to run around town.  I can't hide in the AC. 

I'm also dreading showing property this weekend.  I can already imagine how sweaty I'll be and that's such a horrible impression.

I went swimming yesterday at Vida (Endless pool.  My first experience.  I really enjoyed it even though I smelled chlorine for hours after I showered) and it was fantastic.  Hopefully, at the end of the day I'll be able to dive in the pool and cool off.   

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hood Happenings

U St. Vida has finally opened and it's bad ass.  I went on Monday and I'm impressed.  I've been going to Vida for 3 years.  They took the "mistakes" from the Verizon and Metropole branches and improved everthing.  The Spin room is huge.  The class studio is enormous and so is the Inner Fitness studio for yoga/pilates.  There's tons of cardio equipment and weights.  There's a TRX station plus the roof top pool.  Well done. 

Blackbyrd Warehouse opened last Thursday.  The latest endeavor by the Hilton brothers has an industrial vibe:  concrete floors, exposed brick and duct work, and vaulted ceilings.  I peeked into the front on Saturday morning on the way back from the Farmer's Market.  We'll be trying it this week.

Lost Society opened July 4th weekend.  I've heard the food isn't great but the bar and roof top are fantastic.  I'm hoping to sample both myself this weekend too.  (Sounds like I'm having a big weekend, huh?)

DDOT is revamping the U St. sidewalk.  Although I'm excited we're getting a face lift, I am not excited about the traffic problems this will cause.  The reconstruction project in Adams Morgan is hell on wheels.  I had a fab time showing property in AM earlier this month.  (pull out hair now).

The Wallach Place project on 14th St, NW  hit a snag.  Their design was rejected by the Historic Preservation Review Board.  Uh oh.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Riveting Rooms

Living Room via July/August Lonny. 
We're having a heat wave in DC.  It leaves me longing for a cool room like this living room from Lonny's latest issue.

I love the mural on the wall that adds visual interest but doesn't overwhelm the decor.  The organic elements (tree root table, hunk of blue glass) meld the indoor and outdoor.  The couch would be perfect for reading the latest summer thriller.  I could enjoy the sunshine but not sweat buckets.  I feel refreshed already.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Cherry-Ginger Cobbler

Step 1:  Pit the cherries

I love to bake and I love the farmers market.  Yesterday, I combined those two loves and made my first cherry cobbler.   I know it's not rocket science but it was a lot of fun plus it was delicious.
Step 2: Bring cherries, sugar, vanilla, lemon and cornstarch to a boil.
The recipe, which I adapted from, is really easy.  The most arduous part was pitting the cherries.  I strongly recommend a cherry pitter.  I didn't have one and used a more traditional method which ruined my manicure.  Silly me. 
Step 3:  Once cherries come to a boil, remove and pour in a pan.  Add slivered, crystallized ginger.
In total, the recipe took about an hour and a half.  Thirty to forty minutes to pit the cherries and make the recipe, fifty minutes to bake.
Step 4:  Add the cobber topping.  Bake 45-50 minutes.
It was a huge hit at dinner.
Cherry-Ginger Cobbler
Cherry-Ginger Cobbler

4 cups cherries, picked over, rinsed, and drained well
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/3 cup brown sugar + 1/3 cup regular sugar plus 2 tablespoons sugar (brown and white)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup slivered crystallized ginger
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Working over a bowl, pit the cherries, discarding the pits and reserving the cherries and any juices in a bowl.

In a heavy sauce pan, stir cherries, cornstarch, 1/3 cups brown and white sugar, the lemon juice, and vanilla extract.   Bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and simmer for 3 minutes.
In a small bowl stir together the flour, the baking powder, the salt, the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, and the butter.  Blend the mixture until it resembles coarse meal.
In an 8"x8" square pan,  pour cherry mixture.  Sprinkle slivered, crystallized ginger along top of cherry mixture.

Add topping.  

Bake the cobbler in the middle of a preheated 350°F. oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the top is golden.


Friday, July 15, 2011

First Friday-Glover Park

Once again, stellar design details caught my eye in this weeks First Friday property.  I covet!
2218 Hall Place, NW
Living Room
Open floor plan into dining area with view of living room
2218 Hall Place, NW is a stunner.  The property has three bedrooms, three full baths and it's listed for $1,245,000.  It's total square footage is 2,121 square feet and the yearly taxes are $6,683.  Features include hardwood floors through out and an updated kitchen with an open floor plan.  (The kitchen is gorgeous! I love the tile back splash.  Plus I'm a sucker for nice appliances.)  The baths have been updated and the back yard is lovely.  It's a couple blocks to Whole Foods and restaurants on Wisconsin Ave, NW.  Accordingly, it's appointment only. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Korean BBQ at home

Dinner last weekend
I'm loving the Korean BBQ trend that's appearing in the latest cooking magazines.  I've been enjoying this type of food for years since my husband is half Korean.  As you can see from the picture above, he whips up a fantastic version of Beef Bulgogi.

This particular evening we had a Tex Mex/Korean night.  He made the Beef Bulgogi mentioned previously.  He also grilled pork that he'd marinated in chili powder, lime and Montreal Steak seasoning (I know that seems random but it's delicious on everything).  We had lettuce leaves for the beef and corn tortillas for the pork.  He also made a black bean, corn, and tomato salsa.

Our sides were absolutely delicious as well.  First there was a carrot, cilantro and chile slaw. My friend brought a green bean salad with an Asian Style dressing.  Sounds like a hodge podge of items but the cold veggie sides with the lettuce wraps and tacos was a delicious combo. 

If you haven't indulged in this trend yet, give it a whirl.  It's fantastic!

Beef Bulgogi

1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon Asian (toasted) sesame oil
1 tablespoon mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine)
1/4 Asian pear, coarsely grated (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 medium onion, coarsely grated (about 1/2 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
1 teaspoon sesame seeds, toasted , plus additional for garnish

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound beef sirloin, trimmed of excess fat and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
8 red leaf or bibb lettuce leaves, for serving
1 cup cooked white rice , for serving
1/2 cup kimchi, for serving
1 cup fresh enoki mushrooms, trimmed
4 teaspoons hot bean paste
In large bowl, whisk together soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, mirin, pear, onion, garlic, ginger, sesame seeds, and pepper. Let marinade stand 30 minutes at room temperature, then add beef and toss to coat. Refrigerate, covered, 1 hour.

In large skillet over moderately high heat, heat oil. Remove beef from marinade, draining it very briefly over bowl to remove excess liquid, and then cook until browned and done medium-well, 6 to 7 minutes.

Remove beef from heat and serve by filling each lettuce leaf with about 2 tablespoons Korean sticky rice, small handful of beef, 1 tablespoon kimchi, about 8 enoki mushrooms, and about 1/2 teaspoon hot bean paste. Serve immediately.

*recipe via

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I love spray paint

Last week, I posted about giving a chandelier new life with a coat of spray paint.  That was not my first go round with a can of spray paint.  In fact, my obsession with spray paint began in May when I was revamping my dining area.
TradHome living room
My inspiration for the walls in my dining area was the picture above from TradHome.  I love the designers use of the multiple wall sculptures and mirrors.  I began searching for something similar that didn't break the bank.  I found my wall flowers on the Plantation Home website.  (love, love, love! this website.  want a million things).  The only problem:  the wall flowers were gold and I needed silver.  Thus, my love affair with spray paint began.
Wall flowers from Plantation Home in their original form.  3 for $115.
Wall flower before
Wall Flowers Mid Spray
Wall Flowers Silver
This round of spray painting did not require steel wool or a primer.  I laid out the paper bags and whipped out my spray paint.  It literally took 30 minutes start to finish.  I'm thrilled with the finished product and I think they look fab in my dining area.  (Although I occasionally think I need to hang more.  Any opinions?)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Riveting Rooms

Outdoor day bed from July/August issue of Lonny.
Yesterday was one of those days.  The weather was hot and muggy.  My continuing education classes, which I thought I completed in March, really aren't wrapped up.  One of my deals is up in the air.   

I needed a soothing retreat like the pool above to escape the mayhem.  The daybed with the Venetian chandeliers is perfect for lounging.  The pool invites you to dive in and relax. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Real Estate Round Up

The most recent developments in the real estate world.
EHLP fund breakdown.  Graphic via The Washington Post from Dept of Housing and Urban Development
"HUD to give one billion dollars to struggling homeowners" from The Washington Post.  The Emergency Homeowner's Loan Program (EHLP) has recently been launched to help homeowners that are still struggling with loan payments.  Apply now if you need help as the money has to be spent by Sept. 30th, 2011.

"Local Title Insurers Stop Insuring Foreclosures" via Urban Turf.  This has been brewing for several months but it's still shocking.  This is going to have a huge impact on foreclosure sales in DC.  Currently, the number of foreclosures in DC is at an all time low.  DC Gov recently based a bill that requires lenders to mediate with homeowners facing foreclosure.  This has effectively halted foreclosures in DC.  Yep..that means in a couple of months, foreclosures will be flooding the market.  Consumers and realtors are following this issue closely.

"The Benefits of a Bi-Weekly Mortgage Plan" by The New York Times.  If you're in your property for the long haul, this could be an attractive option. 

"DC Mulls Broadening Eligibility Criteria for $20 million dollar foreclosure fund." via The Washington Post.  More help for homeowners in DC that are facing foreclosure.

Friday, July 8, 2011

First Friday

Today, there's only one new listing that inspired me.  It's a condo in a Logan Circle in a converted rowhouse.  Design elements by Lori Graham. *squee* The unit has her signature dark floors and clean lines in the baths and kitchen. 
1306 Rhode Islalnd Ave, NW #2
1306 Rhode Island Ave, NW #2 is a two bedroom, two bath condo listed for $714,900.  It's 1061 square feet, the yearly taxes are $5,319 and the condo fee is $321.75.  The rowhouse was built in 1885 and converted to four condos in 2007.  The unit features hardwood floors, marble kitchen counters and Italian cabinetry, high end, stainless steel kitchen appliances, a gas fireplace and 10+ ceilings.  The baths have designer tile, floating vanities and vessel sinks.  It's Open on Sunday 7/10 from 1-4pm. 
Living Room with gas fireplace with original mantel and bay window.
Kitchen with marble counter tops, Italian cabinetry and  fancy appliances.
Master bath with floating vanity and vessel sink.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Before and After-Beach House Chandelier

My parent's beach house is adorable.  Inspired by the sea glass they've discovered on the beach, it's painted in shades of blue and green with white accents.  I love everything about the house except a horrible chandelier left by the previous owners.  For years, I've begged my parents to let me redo it.

On my last visit, they finally caved.  After a lot of cussing, my Dad and husband took down the light and I began it's makeover. 
The Original in all it's glory.  Heinous, eh?
As you can see from the photo, it's really unattractive plus it's brown and gold.  It clashes with the blues, greens and white.  I'd read on various DIY design blogs that spray painting a light fixture can give it new life.  Lately, the trend is to use a bright color.  Inspired, my Mom and I headed to Ace Hardware to pick up the paint.

I purchased a can periwinkle blue spray paint, a can of silver spray paint and a can of primer.  The Ace Hardware man suggested I run steel wool on the plated parts of the chandelier.  If you skip this step, the paint won't adhere to those areas. 
Rubbing steel wool on the plated parts of the light.
I followed his suggestion, taped the electrical bits and primed the fixture.  I wanted to be certain the paint bonded to the light.
After several coats of paint, it started looking really cute.
Coat #1
The final product is adorable and my folks love it.  It adds a pop of color and contrast to the corner where it's situated.  Spray paint does wonders!
Wahla!  Long view with mosiac table and chair.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Graffito cocktail round.  I love the logo and how it's incorporated in the restaurant.
Graffiato opened two weeks ago and it's been receiving rave reviews.  My husband and I gave it a whirl the first Friday it was open.  I usually like to wait a week or two for a new restaurant to work out it's kinks (see Yelp reviews on El Centro DF) but we were in the 'hood so off we went.
Graffiato Gin & Juice Tonic (Terrible picture from my blackberry.  Sorry!)
We sat at the bar.  The drink menu has fun details.  They're serving Prosecco on tap and DC Brau plus baby bottles of Coronitas, Miller High Life and Rolling Rock.  They have five artisanal cocktails.  My husband sampled the Gin & Juice Tonic.  It was a clever drink.  The ice cubes contain the lime and quinine.  As the ice melts, it doesn't dilute the drink.  Instead, it adds to the flavors.

Gnocchi with Braised Pork Shank and Burrata, Chicken Thighs with Pepperoni Sauce, Sweet Corn Agnolotti

King Crab with Sea Urchin and Guanciale
We also sampled a number of the small plates.  We tried the four dishes above and the gnocchi, agnolotti and chicken thighs were outstanding!  Those three dishes are perfectly composed.  The king crab leg was our least favorite dish. I'm not saying it was bad.  It's delicious too but the other three outshone it.  We also tried the Romaine Salad with Mint, Radish, Ricotta Salata and Apple.  Our salad didn't have the apple but I still enjoyed it immensely.  It's refreshing combination. 

Although it seems like we ate a ton of food, my husband was still hungry when were done.  I was fine and definitely felt like I'd eaten enough.  Small plates are hard for him.  Perhaps we should have sampled a pizza too.  They looked delicious, by the way.  I can't wait to eat one on our next visit.

Overall, I am seriously impressed with Graffiato.  There were no opening weekend fumbles on our visit.  The service was excellent.  Our food came out quickly and was delicious..all of it!  Even my super critical foodie husband didn't complain.  Go visit immediately.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Riveting Rooms

Guest bath by Windsor Smith
The guest bath is where your creativity can come alive.  I love this bathroom with it's rich teal colored walls and fancy marble sink.  It's elegant but interesting.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July!

I hope you all are having a wonderful holiday full of sun, fireworks, good food and company.