Real Estate – Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights America's Leading LGBT News Source Fri, 21 Sep 2018 01:55:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Art is in the eye of the homeowner Fri, 14 Sep 2018 15:54:36 +0000 Conceal your questionable taste when listing a house

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There’s no accounting for taste. If taxidermy is your preferred art form, then hide it away before listing your home.

In my freshman year of college, I took a class in watercolor painting. Like Julia Roberts says in Pretty Woman, it was a “Big mistake. Big. Huge.”

Each week we were given a subject to paint. The following week, all the paintings would be taped to the wall, so the instructor could provide constructive criticism. No matter where I put my painting, it would always be cited as the worst in the class. I was repeatedly told I had no focal point (the story of my ADHD life). After that and a fight with an iron in sewing class (the iron won), I gave up my career aspirations in art and fashion.

Still wanting to have art in my life, I became the proud owner of an aluminum-framed M. C. Escher poster entitled Belvedere. It was given to me not by Mr. Right, but by Mr. Right Now. It echoed our relationship, with the woman looking off in one direction and the man facing another.

After college, I began a career in law enforcement that required a six-week boot camp in Brownsville, Texas in the heat of the summer. It was while on assignment there that I bought my first piece of “real” art.

I can still see it. A toreador painted on black velvet surrounded by a faux gold-leaf frame, lovingly carried from Matamoros, Mexico into Texas, where the scorching heat made the acrylic paint soften. It hung in its place of honor over the sofa in my first house, across the room from the macramé wall hanging my roommate had given me for my birthday.

On the floor nearby sat what I called my “duty-free sculpture” – a three-foot high bottle of Galiano, essential to the makings of a Harvey Wallbanger. I can attest that downing a few of those made tacky art look much better.

It was during a round-trip cruise to Jamaica that I fell in love with the works of French abstract artist, Marcel Mouly, the humanistic style of Persian artist, Ali Golkar, and the figurative paintings of Israeli artist, Itzchak Tarkay. I bid frantically at auction to obtain my favorite lithographs, most of which have graced my walls for 25 years.

Sometimes, though, what qualifies as art is simply in the eye of the beholder.

For example, I was showing what I thought to be an empty house one morning. As my client and I rounded the corner into the kitchen, I spotted a woman in her bathrobe and hair curlers, sipping coffee at the breakfast bar. I quickly began to apologize for the intrusion and then I realized that she was a true-to-life mannequin. Thankfully, she didn’t get up and follow us around the home.

Then there was the doll house – not the type that my grandfather built for me to play with as a child, but like the ones you see on Hoarders, where at least one is room filled with “collectible” porcelain dolls, with those googly eyes that watch your every move. Thankfully, Chuckie had left the building.

Taxidermy is another lost art form which, given my love for animals, should stay lost. Consider, though, that the moose head mounted over the fireplace in a rustic cabin in the Shenandoahs is still popular with some people.

If these examples don’t appeal to you, then here are some other ways to enjoy art in your surroundings.

You can view it. There are multitudes of galleries throughout D.C. that pay tribute to art and architecture at little or no cost. Don’t wait for friends to visit before going to the National Gallery of Art, the National Portrait Gallery, or the Arlington Arts Center.

You can buy it. Meander through Zenith Gallery on Pennsylvania Avenue or at its Iris Street location. Sip wine and shop along Dupont Circle, where many of the galleries are open from 6-8 p.m. on the first Friday of the month. Visit local exhibits and art fairs. Check online auction sites.

You can make it. Are there children’s paintings posted on your refrigerator? Frame them. Staring at a blank wall in your back yard? Commission a mural of a serene vista. Want to work with your hands? Try pottery or create a custom kitchen backsplash from broken pieces of china and glass.

Whether you’re an aficionado of Matisse, Rodin, Warhol, Avedon, or your own work, let your home feature art that brings you joy, like the Elvis on velvet that hangs in my family room.


Valerie M. Blake is a licensed Associate Broker in D.C., Maryland and Virginia and Director of Education & Mentorship at Real Living| At Home. Call or text her at 202-246-8602, email her at, or follow her on Facebook at TheRealst8ofAffairs.

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How does a real estate agent compare with an app? Fri, 07 Sep 2018 20:08:03 +0000 To find the right home, you need both

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Sure, apps are convenient, but buyers need the personal experience and expertise of a real estate agent, too.

Why work with a real estate agent in this internet filled world we live in? Let me put it this way: You could do a Google search for “Paris” but what if one of your good friends has been to Paris say, 20 times over the last few years? Isn’t it good to get advice from both? Sometimes the internet can be overwhelming with facts and data, and the use of a good reliable real estate agent can help you decipher which facts are the most important for you to know. Also, it’s one thing to see a property online, it’s another to stand in it physically and really get a feel for how big the space is, how much light it’s getting, and how close the neighbors are, as well as what the surrounding neighborhood is like. A good agent will help you see the forest AND the trees.

A good agent is like an extra set of eyes and ears for their clients. They can offer sellers feedback on how much to de-clutter their space, why their favorite teddy bear from their childhood might need to go in a closet during the open house, and which color to paint the front door. Additionally, a good agent will give their clients recommendations on lenders to work with, negotiate strategies that are a win-win for both the sellers and the buyers, advise on ways to do simple renovations after settlement to make the living area more open, and give their clients the names of handymen and contractors to help them with those projects.

I also try to be inclusive when working with my clients. I realize that many clients have significant others, parents, children, or roommates that they will be bringing along on the  showings, and will also be giving feedback and potentially even be living in the new property with the client. If someone wants to check to make sure the HVAC system is really working properly, while someone else is putting together measurements for drapes, I try to answer questions from both parties. Or find out the answers from the sellers or listing agent. Buying a home can be one of the biggest purchases and decisions a client makes in their lifetime, so I understand the need to bring along others to help with the decision making and fact finding.

In many cases I have helped my clients through the home buying process, then gone to get a drink and celebrate with them afterward, and I feel l truly have made a new friend through the process.

I will be teaching a homebuyer seminar on Tuesday, Sept. 11 at Paragon Title and Escrow at 1410 Q St., NW at 6:30 p.m., along with Tina DelCasale from Sandy Spring Bank to discuss the home buying process more in depth. Refreshments will be served and the seminar will last about an hour.

Sign up here.


Joseph Hudson is a Realtor with The Oakley Group at Compass. He can be reached at 703-587-0597 or

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Extend your summer: Buy at the beach Fri, 31 Aug 2018 12:00:16 +0000 Fall is a great time to start your house hunt at the shore

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Looking to buy in Rehoboth? Expand your search to include Lewes and Milton. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Labor Day is usually considered a bookend to summer, but it doesn’t have to be. (For the record, summer technically lasts through Friday, Sept. 21!) Plus, fall really is a great time of year to explore your options for living at ‘the beach’ – which is a broad umbrella term for living where you can easily enjoy access to the perks of beach life. Summer rentals can sometimes make showings challenging to see investment homes and condos for sale, so fall is a bit more flexible all around.

Locals generally do not want to give away our secrets, but I will tell you that fall is absolutely the best time of year at the beach for so many reasons. Restaurants offer specials and the weather is still great.

Whether you want to sell it all and move from the city to the beach year-round, or if you want to explore a second home for your own getaway or to use as an investment property, there is overwhelming opportunity to do so. And with Maryland’s recent expansion of Route 404 from two lanes to a four-lane divided highway from US 50 to the Denton bypass, your “road not taken” for fear of traffic just opened up to you.

While traditionally Route 50 led you to Rehoboth Beach as the main destination in “Our Nation’s Summer Capital,” we now actually cast a wide net to include Dewey, the Indian River Inlet area and Bethany to the south, and increasingly Lewes and Milton to the north. Rehoboth Beach has the envious draw of the Atlantic Ocean, boardwalk, beautiful beaches, shopping, dining and nightlife. But these amenities are accessible from several different communities. When you are searching online for “Rehoboth Beach,” consider broadening your search to include Lewes and Milton.

Both historic towns, Lewes and Milton have been around – well, since the beginning of Delaware – and have hosted generations of beach lovers. Increasingly, both towns are expanding culinary and shopping options to rival Rehoboth’s great restaurants. At least so far, home prices in these areas have not caught up to Rehoboth Beach. Simply put, you can get more for your money while still enjoying the array of beautiful natural destinations like Cape Henlopen State Park, where the Delaware Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean and which is now connected to Gordon’s Pond in Rehoboth Beach via a five-mile scenic bike trail; Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge in Milton; Lewes Beach on the Delaware Bay; the scenic Lewes-Rehoboth Canal and Broadkill River. The season is unbelievably long here for biking, hiking, kayaking, paddle boarding, bird watching, surfing, crabbing, fishing, and basking in the serenity of beach life.

The appeal of Coastal Delaware is undeniable – but what about the prices? I’ll leave D.C. real estate to the D.C. experts, but it is fair to say that house for house, living at the beach is less expensive, especially when you factor in our low property taxes, and investing here is definitely something to consider with your financial adviser. Our clients are a mix of retirees who are moving here full-time or selling a current house here for another (either smaller or closer to downtown); second home buyers who plan to retire here in the future; and increasingly families and couples who look at newer construction neighborhoods in and around Lewes, Milton and Rehoboth.

As a point of comparison, beachfront property in Rehoboth Beach, depending on the home, is typically in the $4M+ range. We listed an unprecedentedly high priced home in Lewes this year for $4.5M; however, we also have beachfront homes in the $2.5M range and one block off the beach can go for $1.5M and less. Lewes is home to several new construction communities that will offer homes in the $500-600Ks. And Milton, just a few miles north, features communities from the high $200Ks to $400Ks.

Medical facilities and specialties continue to expand here to include a cardiovascular specialty at Beebe Medical Center and a brand new hospital north of Milton in Milford. Our school district is booming and has updated the high school, is replacing the outdated elementary schools and has added an additional one, and is adding a new middle school. The longtime question of “will I be able to live year round at the beach?” can be answered with a resounding “yes,” and you can even still enjoy an often solitary walk on Lewes Beach in the morning.

Labor Day doesn’t have to be the end of summer!


Lee Ann Wilkinson is a Realtor and CEO of The Lee Ann Wilkinson Group of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Gallo Realty, the top-selling real estate team in Delaware and #4 nationally for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices. Visit, email, or call her at 302-542-7125 for information on living at the beach.

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Setting expectations when hiring an agent Mon, 27 Aug 2018 18:26:49 +0000 Good customer service is in the eye of the beholder

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Get to know your agent before hiring them.

Last weekend, I took part in an online discussion among real estate agents about how we meet, exceed, or, from time to time, fail to live up to our clients’ expectations when helping them buy or sell a home.

The original scenario was this: Your buyer client has made an offer on a property and you have received a counter-offer from the seller. The buyer asks you to meet her to go over it and discuss what to do next. In this day of electronic signatures, how do you respond?

A host of people replied, “I’ll send it to you to read and sign electronically.” Others said, “Let’s discuss it on the phone and I will amend it as necessary and email it to you for signature.” A smaller number said they would meet the client but cautioned that if she didn’t respond quickly, another buyer might come along.

My response was, “I’ll be right there.” I got a little pushback from some agents who thought I should be setting more stringent boundaries with my time, but a number of them agreed with me when I insisted that my job was to make the process easier for my client, not for myself.

I’ve found that meeting a potential client is like going on a first date when you’ve both swiped right. If there weren’t some type of attraction, then you wouldn’t be there, but you’re both on your best behavior and are cautiously looking at each other as a potential mate.

There is no “one size fits all” for houses or the people who buy and sell them. That’s one thing I love about the job. Likewise, good customer service is in the eye of the beholder.

Accordingly, I recommend interviewing the agents you are considering hiring face-to-face in a comfortable setting whenever possible. This gives you an opportunity not only to listen to their presentations, but also to ask questions and observe their demeanor and body language to see whether you “click.”

For most people, personality also plays a large part in decision-making. In general, if you enjoy the company of the agent you hire and feel a mutual connection, then you’re more likely to trust his or her advice. Interviewing an agent who has been recommended by a friend can be a good start, since there’s at least one person that you both know and like.

Consider whether the agent is focused on you and your needs. Is he rushing through his presentation or taking time to explain how choosing him will benefit you?  Is she allowing for questions and answering them to your satisfaction? Is he respectful of your time and your family?

A seller always wants to talk about price and commission, but there may be other important issues that need to be resolved. One point of discussion might be the type of marketing that will be done and where those materials will be displayed. You might also need to reach consensus on what to repair or improve, and whether to use your existing furnishings or a professional stager.

As a buyer, you’ll want to know your agent’s availability and whether it suits your schedule. Ask how he will help locate the right house and how he will protect your interests. Discuss any creative ways in which her clients have won in multiple offer situations.

Whether buying or selling, if you’re interviewing someone who manages a team of agents, you’ll probably want to know whether you’ll be dealing with the principal or another member of the team. It’s fine to interview the team leader, but you may also want to meet and talk to whoever will be your point person during the process and learn which team member will be helping you at various steps.

Most importantly, determine how you’ll keep in contact with your agent. In a service-oriented business such as real estate, poor communication is an issue that can quickly scuttle a business relationship. Your agent needs to know how and when you would like to keep in contact, so speak up to ensure that you’re both using the same definition of good communication.

For example, do you want to chat via phone, text, email or something else? Do you listen and respond to voicemail? How often do you want updates? Every day? Once a week? Just when something changes? And don’t forget to compare travel schedules to be sure you can stay in touch.

You’ll find most agents anxious to provide a positive experience and willing to accommodate your communication preferences. And, if you’re the tech-averse lady who wanted an agent to come over to discuss that counter-offer in person, then I’m at your service.

Just put on a pot of coffee and I’ll be right there.


Valerie M. Blake is a licensed Associate Broker in D.C., Maryland and Virginia and Director of Education & Mentorship at Real Living| At Home. Call or text her at 202-246-8602, email her via, or follow her on Facebook at TheRealst8ofAffairs

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Accentuating apartment spaces Fri, 17 Aug 2018 17:46:20 +0000 Lessons from The Belgard

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With an expanded lobby, rooftop pool, and a ‘speakeasy’ styled bar, amenities abound at The Belgard.

Apartment buildings nationally have been expanding on their common spaces for residents, as amenities have begun taking an increased importance for potential residents over living space. D.C. metro area buildings have taken note of the trend and have been adding larger club rooms, fitness centers and differentiated lounging areas, and more to woo guests.

Nationally, many developers are creating smaller in-unit living spaces and expanding the common spaces in the building. The Belgard has created special settings for residents to escape their homes. In order to create special destinations onsite for residents, developers need to go beyond the traditional common spaces that most buildings have just to check the box – clichéd clubroom, standard rooftop pool and grilling areas, occasional piece of art scattered throughout.

NoMa’s The Belgard, developed by Wood Partners, has moved the goalposts for luxury living with thoughtful amenities meant to serve as an extension of the apartment space. Developers and designers, keep these in mind when crafting living spaces for your residents, whether they are first-time renters, young married couples, or an older couple just looking to have an extra place in the city.

Accentuating the lobby

For many years, the lobby was a grand opulence that buildings designed to make residents feel like they were walking home into luxury. However, those spaces were not always welcoming to residents The Belgard’s lobby space is meant to serve as an extended living room for residents. Whether they are looking for a place to get some work done, hang out with friends, or sneak away from their apartment to read a book, the lobby highlights the awe-inspiring 561-gallon exotic saltwater reef tank. The stunning high ceilings, modern industrial light fixtures, and plush seating options all revolve around showcasing this piece that residents are already flocking to. The lobby feels more like a larger, and cooler, version of everyone’s living room. Don’t think stodgy old gathering place, but more reminiscent of the Hudson Hotel.

Not every building needs to follow The Belgard’s lead in aquatic exploration to create a space that will encourage residents to spend more time in common areas. Choosing a centerpiece or focal point to spark conversation or engagement among your residents is the first step. When in doubt, a large conversation-provoking sculpture or art piece seems to do the trick.

Craft a space to entertain

With ever-rising drink costs in D.C., it’s always nice to have a cocktail before you go out on the town with friends – or one when you return from a night out. Whether you focus on creating communal areas by a rooftop pool, have a bar area near your game room, or even by just decorating a club room with nightlife-themed art or design pieces. Create a welcoming, inclusive environment that feels unique to your building.

The Belgard has built out a full “speakeasy”-styled bar for residents to entertain in, including a dual-tapped Kegerator, bar seating, and private liquor lockers for residents who want to store their entertaining stash for when they have guests.

This space is open at all hours, and residents can utilize it whether they’re looking to entertain a date by whipping up cocktails to take to the courtyard, or for having a nightcap after a long night out. Inclusive and unique amenity spaces like this make apartment buildings stand out from the glut of other buildings in the market and provides a blueprint on modern entertaining in apartment buildings.

Game night brought to a new level

Not every night in D.C. is a party – for those who are looking less for a pregame and more for a fun night in, it’s helpful to offer different common areas for residents to interact in. Creating an atmosphere of inclusion in a mature setting, many buildings are building out more robust game rooms – whether it’s for pool tables, shuffleboard, ping pong, or other activities, residents enjoy having these perks.

People don’t typically think of playing video games as the most social activity – however, when you supply your residents with a customized four-player arcade machine with classic games like Street Fighter, NBA Jam and NFL Blitz, friends may just start flocking over. The game room includes classic board games like a jumbo-sized Monopoly board, shuffleboard table, and for those who like to gamble – there’s a luxurious custom-made 60-inch poker table and chips available for residents to entertain.

With the trend continuing to shift toward accentuating the common areas, D.C.’s new buildings must continue to innovate and provide different experiences and destinations onsite for their residents.

The Belgard is located at 33 N Street NE, in Washington’s NoMa community. The building will feature 346 luxury residential apartments and ground floor retail, with leasing ongoing and move-ins beginning on July 1. The building offers micro-units, junior one-, one-, and two-bedroom residences. Those interested in scheduling a tour and learning more about the building can do so on the property website, (Courtesy The Belgard)

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Selling your home in the fall Fri, 10 Aug 2018 20:13:02 +0000 Who says spring is the best time to list?

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There are numerous advantages to listing your home in the fall.

Most homeowners who are planning to sell their homes in the not-too-distant future think it is best to wait until the spring market to list their homes. Conventional wisdom is that more buyers are looking in the spring months and so the odds of selling your home in the fall at your desired price are better.

Not so fast. Allow us to break down why selling your home in the fall, especially THIS fall, may be the wiser move.

1. SERIOUS BUYERS. People need to move at all times of the year, due to such transitions as a job relocation or life change. The people looking in the fall are not lookie-loos, but serious house hunters. While yes, there may be fewer buyers in the fall market than in the lightning fast spring market, there are more SERIOUS buyers looking in the fall than in any other time of the year.

2. INTEREST RATES ARE ON THE RISE IN 2018 & 2019. Interest rates usually go up in the spring so financially savvy buyers are out there looking now.  Furthermore, the Fed has said recently that it intends to raise rates twice more in 2018 and perhaps three more times in 2019. It’s certainly possible to see mortgage rates above 5 percent before the year is over should the Fed follow through with these plans. This will affect the overall market, but it will especially affect move-up buyers, many of whom have mortgage rates around 3% if they purchased 6-8 years ago. A change to a mortgage of 3% to 5% will be a huge jump for many.

3. LESS INVENTORY. The best of all reasons for selling now is that fewer houses are listed in the fall months so buyers have fewer homes from which to choose. A smaller housing inventory means that odds of a buyer wanting YOUR home increase (and could even turn into a multiple offer situation). The inventory of available homes is very low in our area and has been for well over a year now. Since few sellers like to put their homes on in August there is pent-up demand.

THE BOTTOM LINE: If you are considering selling your home in the fall, please reach out now to get started. We’ve helped hundreds of sellers over our 25 years of experience and would love to help you, too.


Sue Goodhart is with Compass Real Estate. In 2017, the Goodhart Group helped 120 clients achieve their real estate goals. Led by Sue and Allison Goodhart, they have been named a Top Agent by both Washingtonian and Northern Virginia magazines.  Allison can be reached at 703-362-3221 or

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5 tips for selecting the best offer Fri, 03 Aug 2018 12:17:00 +0000 Take emotion out of it and remain flexible

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Negotiations can take time, but stay calm and remember it’s a business decision.

You’ve worked hard to get your home ready for sale. You’ve staged it properly, kept it spick-and-span, kept beds made and clothes out of site. Buyers came through on private tours and via open house events. And now, you have an offer, or several! No matter the number of offers in hand, you’ll need to review each one carefully. Every offer has its strengths and drawbacks. There rarely is a perfect offer, but there is usually at least one that is a great option with which to work. Here are five tips that can assist you as you evaluate.

1. Know the process. When you receive an offer you can accept it, reject it outright, or you can work to negotiate some of the terms so the offer is more favorable to your needs. Keep in mind that all offers are negotiable. If you get an offer that meets your needs, you don’t have to negotiate. But, when you receive an offer that is less than satisfactory, keep in mind that may not be the final answer from the buyer. Negotiate! Returning a response offer asking for modified terms is called a counteroffer. Once the potential purchaser receives your counter, they then have the same right: accept, reject, or negotiate back. This can go on for a couple of rounds. I recently finished a negotiation period that lasted four days. In the end, we came to terms that were agreeable to both parties. Negotiations can take time and you need to be prepared not to get the last word. The goal is to reach terms acceptable to both parties.

2. Don’t take it personally. When you get into the negotiations, it can be tempting to reject a counter outright. I recently had a client say, “They didn’t counter with what I expected, so I don’t want to negotiate further.” That’s a missed opportunity. Just because your first counter didn’t get the response you wanted, it doesn’t mean you can’t find agreeable terms. Being “right,” or getting the last word, in a negotiation process should not be your goal. Selling your home can be emotional. But truly it is a business transaction. If you can set your emotions aside and treat it as a business deal, you will have a much better process and outcome.

3. Think about your bottom line. In advance of reviewing any offer, have a heart-to-heart with yourself and your agent to decide what terms are most important to you. If closing by a certain date is important, you may need to be flexible on price, or vice versa. Decide what you can, and will, be flexible on so that when the times come to negotiate you are prepared.

4. Review every term. Some sellers immediately zero in on the price. They ignore all of the other terms of the offer. They see the price and let that guide their decision. You have to evaluate all of the terms of every offer—not just price. Yes, the offered purchase price is important, but so are the other terms. Is the amount of earnest money the buyer proposes adequate? Is there a lender pre-approval or pre-qualification letter included? Are they asking for a home inspection and multiple repairs? Do they want a home warranty, too? With each term of the offer you need to ask yourself: Is this a deal breaker, or can I be flexible on this point to reach the ultimate goal of selling my house?

5. Think outside the box. Receiving an offer with unacceptable terms can open the door to creativity. Talk with your agent and see if they can discover what is important to the buyer. With that information in hand, is there is a way to structure the deal to meet both of your needs? Perhaps the buyer needs to move quickly, for example, but you have nowhere to go. Maybe a bit of a higher price would give you the cash you need to rent temporary housing until you close on your new place.

The most important things to remember while reviewing offers is to remove your emotions, think in terms of a business deal, and remain flexible.


Sherri Anne Green is an award-winning Realtor with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage having earned the prestigious International Sterling Society Award. Focusing on custom, data-driven marketing and client service, she provides impeccable, high-touch service tailored to her clients’ unique situation. She can be reached via phone or text at 202-798-1288,, on Facebook, or on Instagram.

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Going global with real estate investments Sun, 29 Jul 2018 14:10:09 +0000 Bargains galore from Mexico to France

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Investment property in Mexico can be affordable with high rental rates.

I’m on vacation, walking down a street of shops and restaurants when I come across a real estate office. Its window is filled with pretty pictures of houses for sale and as a real estate agent, I’m drawn to the window like a child to a Christmas display.

I look at the style of homes, their prices and the amenities they offer and, whether I am in the North, South, East, West, or in America’s heartland, I can’t help but compare them to what the D.C. metropolitan area has to offer. Since many areas still rely on real estate advertising magazines, I pick one up and leaf through it over lunch, imagining myself living there.

As I grow older, thoughts of winding down creep into my head and I wonder whether the place where I am at the time will allow for a comfortable retirement. Many of my friends are investing in areas that are popular among travelers, buying homes that will produce income from renting year-round, seasonally, or as local laws permit, as an Airbnb, until they are ready to make the move permanently.

So, when San Francisco, Palm Springs, Fort Lauderdale and St. Petersburg just won’t do – go global. Here are six properties currently listed for sale on that may pique your interest.

Mexico – If you want something elegant where you can earn a good income, a penthouse condominium with two bedrooms, two baths and 1,250 square feet in the resort area of Playa del Carmen can be yours for purse pleasing price of $259,000. Enjoy 180-degree ocean views from your 700-square-foot roof deck and mini-dip (or skinny-dip) in the plunge pool. With a rental occupancy rate of 80 percent you’ll receive a 15% return on investment (ROI).

Costa Rica – If you really want to get away from it all, check out the village of Chauita, where $250,000 will buy a secluded, 1,600-square-foot, two-bedroom, two-bath home with garage near the rainforest. With a fabulous mountain view, it’s located only 45 minutes from the capital city of Limón (also known as civilization).

Argentina – In the beautiful area of San Rafael, you can purchase a five-acre Chardonnay vineyard (to be planted upon purchase), where Mumm has bought its grapes for the last seven years. The asking price of only $110,000 includes the services of a staff of 7 and is eligible for purchase from your self-directed IRA or 401k. No house comes with it, but you can build one locally for only $50 per square foot.

France – Who doesn’t want to frolic and canoodle on the French Riviera? If you’re interested in running a bed and breakfast, a mere $790,000 Euros ($923,000 in U.S. dollars) buys a five-bedroom, five bath B&B, where the rooms rent for $90 per night for a party of two. There is a two-bedroom owner’s suite, a living room with stone fireplace, a library, and a salt-water pool. Breakfast is served on a 320-square-foot terrace. The property is located near 10 golf courses and is only 15 minutes from Cannes. Can you say film festival?

Italy – Near the town of Cotona sits a six-bedroom, two bath Tuscan “casale” (castle) that awaits your loving care. Originally built in 1900, it consists of a main building of about 3,800 square feet in need of total restoration, plus two other outbuildings to restore. The property is characteristic of Tuscany with wooden beams, “cotto” (Italian brick tile) paving and a huge fireplace in good condition. The home sits on 74 acres with the ability to buy another 5 acres nearby, all with pleasant views of the countryside. It’s priced to sell at only $190,000 Euros (roughly $222,000 U.S.).

Spain – If your trust fund permits, you can buy a stunning 2.5-acre resort in Toledo for $1,950,000 Euros (a steal at under $2.3 million U.S.). The Toledo Countryside Hotel is an elegant and intimate picturesque resort with distant views of the Sierra de Gredos mountains. The business features a hotel with seven stylish rooms, 12 deluxe villas, an events hall and a restaurant. Local activities include golf, horseback riding, hiking, fishing, and visiting nearby towns to enjoy the national heritage and savory cuisine. Translation: the perfect site to host the next G-20, if only someone will share a villa with Justin Trudeau.

So, the next time you go on vacation, take notice of your surroundings, eat, drink and be merry – and please bring me a local real estate magazine for my collection.

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How to appeal to millennial homebuyers Sun, 22 Jul 2018 18:54:10 +0000 Outdoor space, lighting, kid spaces are key

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Millennial buyers love outdoor space.

Big news! A recent study by the National Association of Realtors shows that millennials make up the highest percentage of homebuyers nationwide. We’ve found this to be true of our local market in the D.C. Metro area as well. We’ve also found that these younger buyers have very specific tastes. Therefore, it’s critical if you’re selling your home to prepare your home to appeal to millennial homebuyers. Even though it may not be the way you currently live in your home, or even the way you will decorate your next home, this approach can net you more money at the end of the day. So, how does one prepare their home to appeal to millennial homebuyers? We have a comprehensive plan we reserve specifically for our listings, but here is a sampling of our insider secrets.

1. First, consider the color palette of your home. Younger buyers prefer cool color tones – such as whites, grays, light creams and blues over warmer color tones like darker beige or bolder colors. While you don’t need to change everything in your house, repainting goes a long way to making homes seem more updated and millennial-friendly. Our stagers are experts in recommending colors that will complement your existing cabinet and counter colors. Of course, we can recommend changes to these as well if needed (and the budget allows). However, we are seeing that most sellers are doubling their investment when they repaint and make other appropriate color adjustments.

2. Second, swap out old hardware. These are quick fixes that go a long way. If you have older fixtures in your bathrooms or kitchens, you can go to Home Depot and switch them out for just a few bucks. Your space will instantly look updated.

3. Next, add some drama with lighting. While a little more expensive than hardware, adding more dramatic (yet still neutral) light fixtures adds some WOW factor that younger buyers love. While you may prefer a ceiling fan in your bedroom, millennials often prefer a chandelier or pendant light to make the space feel more luxurious. Again, a few hundred bucks can add instant drama!

4. Fourth, make it kid-friendly. Not all millennials have kids, but many are starting to think about that next step. When they are buying their first – or second – home, they want to make sure there are spaces convenient for nurseries and playtime.

5. Maximize outdoor space. Millennials LOVE outdoor space. Often these buyers are moving from condos and when they are making their first purchase, they want to be able to entertain outdoors.  Create cozy outdoor living spaces with your furniture with a firepit and cozy chairs. If you have photos of gatherings you’ve hosted over the years, show ‘em off!

6. Finally, stage! This is the most expensive item on the list, but can make the biggest impact.  Interestingly, even though they came of age during the HGTV era, many millennials don’t have the vision to see past furniture – both the style and the way it is arranged in the room. That’s why it’s critical to make the space feel like them from the outset. Great staging means great photographs, which gets buyers in the door. Once they’re inside, it gets them to envision themselves (instead of their parents or grandparents) in the space. You want them to feel immediately at home. We have countless examples of homes that sold immediately after staging went in after being on the market for months.

All of these are great ways to help your home appeal to millennial homebuyers. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Our goal is to help you minimize your expenses and maximize your profit. That’s why we will look at each home with a different eye to determine who the most likely buyer is and what they are looking for in their next home. We’ll create a custom plan so you’ll know you’re in good hands.


Allison Goodhart DuShuttle is with Compass Real Estate. In 2017, the Goodhart Group helped 120 clients achieve their real estate goals. Led by Sue and Allison Goodhart, they have been named a Top Agent by both Washingtonian and Northern Virginia magazines. Allison can be reached at 703-362-3221 or

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Buying a house? Who’s gonna pay for it? Fri, 13 Jul 2018 19:10:07 +0000 Tips for preparing financially for home ownership

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Shopping for a house and don’t have 20 percent to put down? Don’t worry, there are programs to help.

There are lots of questions people have in their minds about being able to afford a house.  Especially in cities like Washington D.C., New York, San Francisco – any of these metro areas that have rapidly grown and changed over the last few decades. Housing costs have increased significantly. A quick search shows that the average cost of a one-bedroom apartment in D.C. has been hovering around the $2,000 mark for over the last five years. Some years and months above, some below.

So how does one begin the arduous task of putting money away to buy a home when such a large portion of your paycheck goes to just paying for the place you currently inhabit?

Well, fortunately D.C. has some programs, and your Realtor can use some techniques to help you put a small amount down, or even get a seller credit to help cover some of your closing costs. It’s not a guarantee in every situation, but I think it might be easier than some people think to get themselves out of paying someone else’s mortgage (renting) and paying their own.

For example, programs like D.C. Opens Doors and the HPAP (Home Purchase Assistance Program) are sometimes useful for people who don’t have a lot of cash available. D.C. Opens Doors can help people have a 3% or 3.5% down payment which converts to a grant if the homeowner stays in the property for five years. Then the purchaser just needs to have the closing cost cash on hand. D.C. Opens Doors is attractive for competitive offer situations, which happen often in this city, because you can still have a 30-day closing period, which is pretty common. There are income maximums and loan amount maximums that apply here, but they are pretty healthy and people with average incomes in this city would qualify.

With regards to HPAP, this is how it is described on the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development website: “As of 2017, eligible applicants can receive a maximum of $80,000 in gap financing assistance and an additional $4,000 in closing cost assistance. The HPAP 0% interest loan for borrowers with incomes below 80 percent of the area median income (AMI) is deferred until the property is sold, refinanced to take out equity, or is no longer their primary residence. Moderate-income borrowers who earn between 80 percent and 110 percent AMI will have payments deferred for five years with a 40-year principal-only repayment period. The maximum first trust loan amount cannot exceed $417,000, the conventional conforming loan limit.”

There are many other details regarding these programs, and if you really want to know more, contact me, and I can put you in touch with a local lender who understands the ins and outs of these programs, and can walk you through what you need to prepare financially for transitioning into home ownership!

Oh, and there’s always Powerball and Mega-Millions, too.


Joseph Hudson is a Realtor with the Oakley Group at Compass. Reach him at 703-587-0597 or

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