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!

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!!


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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.

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