Scattered

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!

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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
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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

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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. 
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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

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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!
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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.* 

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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!

Yum

*photos courtesy of Tangy Sweet Yelp page.

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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?

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