Dreaming of…


Next week, I'm going to my parent's beach house in NC. All week I've been waking up and saying "Next week this time, I'll be at the beach!" I can't wait.

As always, as soon as I get ready to go somewhere, all hell breaks loose at work. This week has been insane, in a very good way. But insane, nonetheless.

A lot of issues are swirling around in real estate news today. The most interesting is an article from Realtor Magazine: "Home Tax Credit Could Expand" Congress is discussing increasing the tax credit to 15K and making eligible to ALL buyers with no income restrictions. This would be an immense boost to the real estate industry. The the 8K tax credit and the low interest rates have really stimulated buyers. If it increases to 15K, good things will happen. (Do a little happy dance at this point if you're a buyer!)

Have a great weekend and a wonderful 4th of July!!

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I have a new listing at 4009 Cole Blvd, SE WDC 20032 for 275K.

It's a 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath end unit town home in Wheeler Creek. It's 1326 sf. It's been freshly painted, has new carpet, new kitchen appliances and bathroom fixtures. The basement is unfinished and it has one assigned parking spot. Click here for the virtual tour.

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I just reduced the price of my 1 bedroom condo at the Rhapsody (2120 Vermont Ave, NW #319) to 358K. It's going to be Open on Sunday from 1:30-4pm. As you can see, it has floor to ceiling windows in the living room, an open floor plan, stainless steel appliances, hardwood floors, w/d, a storage closet (5'x15') in the basement, a walk in closet with an Elfa system, and parking. Click here for the virtual tour. I hope to see you at the Open!

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In the trenches

I mentioned I have a difficult short sale situation in progress. I have to say it's sucking the life out of me. My clients have been great. The other parties in the deal: not so much.

I'm posting about this because there's a lot of buyers out there searching for short sale and foreclosure properties. I mentioned a few of the pitfalls last week that I learned in CE class. Here's a few real life pitfalls as well:

1. Be educated. I'm currently dealing with a seller who thinks that declaring bankruptcy vs. a short sale is going to mean exactly the same thing to them. Ummm…actually the two situations are really different. Hire an attorney and/or do some research about exactly how these two options impact your credit. I'm not an expert so I'm not expounding any further on this one.

2. Hire an agent that has experience with shorts sales and foreclosures. I can not stress how important this is for buyers and sellers. Short sales and foreclosures are painful for a number of reasons. You want the process to be as easy as possible. Do yourself a favor and use an agent that's familiar with the procedures.

3. Document, document, document. And then document some more. It's a lengthy process and lots of things can go wrong. Make sure you have an accurate, written record of what's happening. Keep all your emails. Transcribe all your phone conversations. Protect yourself as much as possible.

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This week has been absolutely crazy. Sorry for the lack of posts. I had a few ideas early in the week. Then they were swept away by CE classes, major problems with a deal, and an offer. As I mentioned: INSANE. But in a good way.

Anyway, I attend a great CE class on Wed. titled "Short Sales and Foreclosures." Since I'm dealing with a problematic short sale deal, what a pertinent class topic! It was taught by Suzanne Cytryn, a settlement attorney for over 15 years.

There were 3 things I found really compelling about the class: she has no great love for real estate auctions, buyer beware on REO properties and short sales aren't as bad as they seem.

The first topic: Real Estate Auctions. This is when you actually go to the auction and buy a property. The house has been foreclosed upon and it's up for auction. If nobody buys it, the bank usually purchases the property and sells it. Some pitfalls to the auction: You can't inspect the property before you purchase it, (eek!), the owners/tenants might still be living there and then you have to evict them, those same owners/tenants might inflict major damage as they are evicted, the utilities/taxes/etc. are not pro-rated to the date you close but to the date of the contract, and buyer usually pays all closing costs. I'm with her on this..this sounds horrible!

The second topic: REO Properties. These are properties that are actually already owned by the bank. This is what you typically see in the MLS. What she meant by "buyer beware" is the LONG bank addendum that accompanies these types of properties. The properties are always "as is". You're basically giving up all of your rights when you sign one. If anything happens (mold, termite damage, etc.), you've given up your right to sue the bank for any of the problems. BUT you do get to inspect the property before you buy it. You also get clear title to the property. Out of the two, this is your better option because at least you know what you're getting when you purchase the property.

The third topic: Short Sales. This occurs when "the outstanding obligations (loans) against the property are greater than what the property can be sold for. The borrower (normally the seller) proposes that the secured lender accept a compromised (reduced) payoff amount upon the sale of the property." Although they are called short sales, there's nothing short about them. They take a minimum of 2 months to complete. Banks are getting faster at processing short sales but there's a lot of paper work and documentation needed to make it to closing. You must be exceedingly patient. If it works out, it's usually a win-win situation for the buyer and seller. The seller avoids foreclosure and ruining their credit. The buyer gets an excellent deal.

If you're a buyer in this market, you're encountering these situations daily. In fact, you might be seeking these types of properties. Hopefully my CE class will help you too! Have a great weekend.

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As I reported last week, HUD published guide lines that will allow buyers using FHA loans to monetize the 8K tax credit.

But what does that mean? And how is HUD and lenders going to achieve the monetizing?

Kenneth Harney of The Washington Post wrote a great article today called "Closing Cash From Uncle Sam".
The article outlines the way that HUD is allowing buyers to utilize the credit immediately.

Although a lot of states already have non-profits set up to give the 8K advance detailed in the article, DC does not. I'll keep you posted as I discover more details about the process in DC.

Meanwhile, this is more encouraging news for the housing market. Have a great weekend and happy shopping!

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Frankly my dear…

I'm depressed. When did we move to Seattle? I am over this weather. I haven't mustered up a lot of interest in posting this week because all I want to do is nap. I need some sunshine, dang it.

Anyway, more food news. We've recently tried Eatonville, Policy, AND Cedar. My thoughts:

Eatonville: Full disclosure..the chef dates one of our good friends. I'm definitely rooting for him to make this work. I had the crab cake sandwich and the arugula salad with goat cheese and bacon. It was yummy. Our table also had the fried green tomatoes, the trout, fish and grits, and the stuffed hush puppy. It was all good..no complaints except it was heavy. I was glad we took a little walk down the street to St. Ex. when we were done. Don't get me wrong..I love some fried food but I think a simple grilled fish would be a good addition.

Policy: We sat at the bar (our favorite place to eat) and had the lamb chops and the scallops. Both were amazing. The hubby had some stuffed pepper app that didn't impress. But the chops and the scallops were really, really well done. Neither was over cooked and both were well seasoned.

Cedar: This is a new place in Penn Quarter. Daily Candy did a blurb about it's opening. Then a friend sent us a notice that they were having a $30, 3 course deal. I love a deal so off we went. The location is a little funky..on E St., off the beaten path. You go downstairs to the dining room which is cute. Their focus is fresh, local ingredients and it was fabulous. I had an asparagus salad and grilled tuna with tomatoes, capers and black olives. Nothing ground breaking but amazing. My dining companions had a fava bean salad and a soft shell crab as apps. They both had quail with fiddle head ferns and ramps as their main course. It was my first fava bean, fiddle head fern and ramp. Verdict: Yum. Dessert was also insanely good. We tried the carrot cake, the blueberry-almond tart and the "rocky road" brownie. UNBELIEVABLE.

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Breaking news..

Yesterday afternoon, DC Council passed the measure to tax co-ops similarly to condos. Co-ops will now have to pay a "economic interest tax" according to Ed Krauze of GCAAR. The "economic interest tax" will implement the same rates that DC uses for real property: 1.1% for sales below 400K and 1.45% for sales above 400K. This measure was included in the Fiscal Year 2010 Budget Support Act of 2009.

The Murphy Team does a lot of business with co-ops in Foggy Bottom. I'm sure there's going to be a major outcry about the change. Oh boy.

Both DC Mud and Urban Turf reported on the possibility of this measure last week.

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