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Tying the knot in style

The D.C. region has endless options for getting hitched in every imaginable setting

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Powerhouse, gay marriage, same-sex marriage, style, gay news, Washington Blade
Powerhouse, gay marriage, same-sex marriage, style, gay news, Washington Blade

Give your reception an industrial vibe at Powerhouse. (Photo by Rodney Bailey; courtesy Powerhouse)

One of the toughest parts of planning a wedding is choosing the right venue. Indoor or out, it can be difficult to choose where to celebrate with family and friends. This list of 12 places includes everything from hotels and art galleries to ships and churches that are guaranteed to make your wedding day one to remember.

Powerhouse. If traditional isn’t your style, try an avant-garde reception at Powerhouse. Located in historic Georgetown, the LGBT-owned-and-operated space was once the D.C. Paper Manufacturing Company’s powerhouse. Now its been converted into a fully renovated two-story space with floor-to-ceiling windows, state-of-the-art sound system and a catering prep kitchen. A second floor mezzanine balcony and exposed brick and steel beams give your special day an unconventional touch. 3255 Grace St., N.W.; riseeventsdc.com/powerhouse

Westin Annapolis. Want to celebrate the big day in luxury? The Westin Annapolis, located in downtown Annapolis, offers a sophisticated setting in its 6,500-square foot ballroom with chandeliers and a pre-function space with a view of Park Place from its 16-foot arched windows. The culinary staff is also available to create customized menus for all types of receptions from a brunch to an elaborate cocktail reception. 100 Westgate Circle, Annapolis, Md.; westinanapolis.com

Black Walnut Point Inn. Want to get away from it all on the big day? Black Walnut Point Inn is the perfect place to celebrate in seclusion. The gay-owned inn is tucked away on Tilghman Island in Talbot County, Maryland. The Great Lawn features unobstructed waterfront views. Their packages includes a whole weekend with a catered rehearsal dinner and reception, two night stay for couple and up to 20 guests, hors d’oeuvres on the Great Lawn at sunset and more. 4417 Black Walnut Point Rd., Tilgman, Md.; Blackwalnutpointinn.com

Corcoran Gallery of Art. The Corcoran Gallery of Art provides more than art for the public to enjoy — it also rents parts of the gallery for private events, including weddings. Give a Parisian vibe to your reception in the Salon Doré room. The room seats 50 and includes Corinthian pilasters, trophy panels and mirrors all original and once part of the hôtel de Clermont, a historic private residence in Paris. The Atrium and the Bridge are also available to rent and can seat 100-900 guests. 500 17th St., N.W.; corcoran.org 

Metropolitan Community Churches. For couples that want an old-fashioned church wedding, Metropolitan Community Churches are a good option. Its mission states it is “a place for all people.” Locations are all across the D.C. metro area including Fairfax Va., College Park, Md., and in the District. mccchurch.org

The Black-Eyed Susan. For a different wedding experience, try celebrating at sea. The Black-Eyed Susan allows both a ceremony and reception on board. Provide your own clergy or let the captain of the ship perform the ceremony. The reception takes place on the upper deck and a customized wedding cake is included as part of the package that includes a silver-plated cake knife set as the ship’s wedding present to the happy couple. 2775 Lighthouse Point East, Baltimore; Baltimorepaddlewheel.com

The Loft at 600 F. An intimate-yet-stylish celebration may be the ideal choice for some couples. The Loft at 600 F, located in the Chinatown/Penn Quarter neighborhood of the District, achieves that combination. The venue offers custom sofas that can be moved into various setups, moveable bars, up-light and accent lighting and a microwave and mini fridge. Getting the party started won’t be a problem with its surround sound receiver, HD projector, Apple TV and 55-inch HD television. 600 F St., N.W.; theloftat600f.com

Old Hickory Golf Club. The clubhouse at Old Hickory Golf Club is a combination of beautiful views with a gorgeous indoor space. The clubhouse includes a ballroom and dining room with a veranda that overlooks the golf course. Your guest list can include up to 250 people to enjoy lunch or dinner buffets with an optional hors d’oeuvre reception and cocktail party. 11921 Chanceford Dr. Woodbridge, Va.; golfoldhickory.com

River Terra Retreat. A small wedding away from it all can be found at River Terra Retreat, tucked away on the edge of the Potomac River. The family owned home offers a cozy aesthetic with a big front porch, river view balcony, formal dining room and eat-in kitchen. Vegetables and fruits can be taken fresh from the garden depending on the season. Meeting rooms are available for an inside celebration or take the party outside for a tented event on the fenced grounds. 37 4th St., Colonial Beach, Va.; riverterraretreat.com

Hotel Lombardy. If you can’t afford to take your wedding overseas, Hotel Lombardy offers an international theme to bring the world to you in downtown D.C. Feel like you’re vacationing in northern Italy with the Venetian-style rooms, imported fabrics and Oriental wool rugs. Get a taste of France with the Café Lombardy, the hotel’s French-inspired continental bistro offering breakfast, lunch, dinner and brunch for your guests. Let go of wedding planning stress by using the hotel’s professional event planning services who can help make your day special from start to finish. 2019 Pennsylvania, Ave., N.W.; hotellombardy.com

Lazy L at Willow Creek. Couples that want to bring their dogs along for the celebration should consider Lazy L at Will Creek. This quaint bed and breakfast offers dog-friendly services, such as easily accessible pet friendly beaches and restaurants to make your dog as happy as you are on the big day. The innkeeper is an ordained chaplain and can provide officiating services. 16061 Willow Creek, Rd., Del.; lazyl.net

Salero Ocean Front Venue. Make the ocean the focal point of your wedding day on this ocean front wedding venue. Their wedding packages include an open bar, cake service, complete room setup and a chocolate fountain. Full-course meals can also be provided. Their menus are available to view on their website. 511 N Boardwalk, Rehoboth Beach, Del.; saleroonthebeach.com

A few more of our favorites

Potomac View Terrace at the American Pharmacists Association

2215 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20037
202-429-7547
potomacviewterrace.com

Black Walnut Point Inn

4417 Black Walnut Point Road
Tilghman, MD 21671
410-886-2452
blackwalnutpointinn.com

Glenview Mansion at Rockville Civic Center Park

603 Edmonston Drive
Rockville, MD 20851
240-314-8660
rockvillemd.gov/glenview

The Henley Park Hotel

926 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
202-414-0509
henleypark.com

National Press Club

529 14th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20045
202-662-7597
press.org

Wolf Trap

703-255-1991
wolftrap.org/rentals

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Real Estate

No, you really don’t have to put down 20 percent

There are many options when financing your new home

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When buying your home, there are alternatives to the old 20 percent down requirement.

I was just out at brunch this weekend (I know a gay in D.C. at brunch — groundbreaking). Anyway, I was at brunch and naturally the subject of real estate came up and your boy’s ears perked up and as the resident real estate expert at the table, some of the newcomers were making conversation about some open houses they had been to in the past few weekends, some trends they had seen that they hated that developers seem to continually do in the D.C. area, how unaffordable things are and some comments about where the best areas to invest are in D.C. I just sat and listened while eating my food, which was rather under seasoned, but I digress. The one comment that came up several times that really got me was the affordability comment and what it was based around. It might very well shock you.

When we speak about affordability in the District we are typically speaking to the price of real estate and how expensive it is to purchase a place here in D.C. However, for this conversation – the affordability factor in particular that I was hearing about that piqued my interest was the specific line item of “we have to put down X as a down payment to purchase a home.” The consensus at this brunch table and even when speaking to some buyers on a daily basis is that you must put down 20% to purchase a home. While there are some perks to this, yes. The fact that you MUST put that amount down is just not true. When my parents purchased their first home for $60,000 it was much easier to put down 20% versus a first-time buyer in D.C. putting down 20% for a $600,000 purchase. Furthermore, most buyers are staying in their homes for as little as six years, according to the National Association of Realtors. If you do the math – does it make sense, for your personal situation, to put down 20% versus 5% or 10%? Yes, that’s right – you can purchase a home for as little as 5% down and in some cases as little as 3% down.

When my husband, who was a first-time homebuyer in D.C., purchased his condo, he was able to put down 3% and qualify for a conventional loan. We will stay in this condo for under the average 7-10 years so putting anything more than 3% down for our personal situation just didn’t make sense. Now, because we didn’t put 20% down we pay what is known as PMI, or private mortgage insurance, however it was still worthwhile for him to save the capital and only put the 3% down and pay the small PMI amount monthly as he could put the rest of the 17% he didn’t put into a house in an investment account to yield more. Again, he was a first-time buyer in the District so he qualified for a 3% down loan and the numbers made sense for him. Everyone’s personal situation is different.

According to a 2023 report from the National Association of Realtors the average down payment for a home was 15% while the average down payment when looking at first time buyers was right around 5%. Again, each situation is specific to each person, their credit, finances, debt to income ratio etc., so there is really no recipe that fits every single buyer. It is important to work with a local lender to ensure that you are well qualified and understand which loan packages are out there for you that make the most sense for you so that when you do find that home you are ready to go.

I say all of this to say that gone are the days when you are required to put down 20% in most cases. Depending on the loan type and loan amount – you likely can get away with putting down 5-15% down and save some funds for upgrading from that tragic Ikea dresser from college or hiring a painter because let’s be real, you are not a professional. Like with most things in life you can pick and choose the things that are right for you and a mortgage and its down payment are exactly that same. If you would like to and can put down 20% for a mortgage then please do so – however if you want to get out from under the power and money hungry landlord and buy a condo where you are paying yourself back with equity – you can do so in a manner that is much more affordable than you may have thought possible – especially if you are a first-time buyer in D.C.

Justin Noble is a Realtor with Sotheby’s international Realty licensed in D.C., Maryland, and Delaware for your DMV and Delaware Beach needs. Specializing in first-time homebuyers, development and new construction as well as estate sales, Justin is a well-versed agent, highly regarded, and provides white glove service at every price point. Reach him at 202-503-4243,  [email protected] or BurnsandNoble.com.

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Real Estate

2024 tax season tips for landlords

A crucial period for investors to assess financial standings

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For many landlords, March can be a stressful time due to the upcoming deadlines to file annual tax returns. The year prior to April is a crucial period for property investors to assess their financial standings, ensure compliance with tax regulations, and take advantage of available tax-saving strategies. As a housing provider, understanding the intricacies of the tax code and how it impacts landlords can significantly impact your bottom line. 

Deductions for Rental Property Owners

One of the advantages of being a landlord in the United States is the ability to deduct numerous expenses related to the rental which can significantly reduce your taxable income. Do not overlook this benefit as it is the federal government’s incentive to promote the development and ownership of rental property. Schedule E of the federal form 1040 organizes the financial results of the rental property from the tax year and is how you report it to the IRS. 

If you qualify as a real estate professional under IRS guidelines, you may be able to deduct rental real estate losses against your other income, reducing your overall tax liability.

Here are some key deductions to consider:

Mortgage Interest: Landlords can deduct the interest paid on mortgage loans for rental properties. Keep detailed records of your mortgage payments and ensure that the loan is used to acquire, improve, or maintain the property.  The lender delivers a form 1098 form to owners of the property to make it easier to claim this deduction.

Property Expenses: Ordinary and necessary expenses related to the property can be deducted. This includes all expenses getting the property ready to rent, charges for finding tenants, management fees, repairs, preventative and on-going maintenance, utilities, HOA dues, etc.  Homeowner insurance premiums and real property taxes can also be deducted and if they are paid to the lender in escrow who in turn pays those bills for you. Those payments will be located on your annual escrow report from the lender or on the form 1098.  Even travel expenses incurred for property-related purposes may be deductible from rental income.

Professional Services: If you do not manage your rental properties yourself, any fees paid to property management professionals such as my firm, an accountant you may have, or real estate attorneys you retain are deductible. These experts should also be able to help you navigate the complexities of tax on income generated by owning and renting out residential real estate.

Depreciation: Depreciation is a non-cash deduction that allows you to account for the wear and tear of your rental property over time. Even though you are not recording this as an expense that you pay for, the IRS provides for a declaration of depreciation expense to recognize that assets lose their value over time.  There are specific guidelines for depreciating different components of your property, such as buildings and appliances or capital improvements made.

Depreciation: A Valuable Benefit to Landlords

Depreciation is a powerful tax-saving tool that deserves special attention. It allows you to allocate a portion of the property’s cost over its useful life, thus reducing your taxable income. To make the most of depreciation, consider the following:

The Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS) is the method used by the IRS to determine depreciation deductions.  MACRS tables to calculate depreciation accurately are located online and individual residential properties depreciate at a rate of 3.636% each year for 27.5 years.  Note that only buildings and contents are depreciated.  You cannot depreciate the land value.  

Make sure to maintain good records of the property’s original purchase cost, all acquisition fees and charges paid, improvements over time, and other expenses that can be depreciated. These records may be harder to locate if you have lived in the house as owner occupant for some time.  All of this information will be needed to set up your depreciation schedule whether you do it yourself or rely on a tax preparation professional.  Lastly, be aware of  the “recapture tax.” If you sell a rental property for a profit after having claimed depreciation expenses, you may need to pay “recapture tax” on the accumulated depreciation deductions. Proper planning can help minimize this tax liability.

Tax Preparation Tips for DC Landlords

If someone else collects your rental income for you, they will deliver to you a form 1099-MISC. The income reported should match the gross income you receive over that tax year, not the net income after expenses. This is a common misunderstanding.  All rental related expenses can be deducted from the reported gross income.

If your rental income includes subsidized rental payments from the DC Housing Authority, you will be sent a form 10099-MISC.  If your manager also issues a form 1099 on your tax ID, then it needs to be reconciled in your tax return to inform the IRS and to avoid double reporting (and taxation) of rental income.

Every year owners with rental property in the District of Columbia need to file tax returns with the DC Office of Tax and Revenue (OTR). It is important to keep your tax filings current as it can create a roadblock in the future to renew your business license or do other business with the District government if you need a clean hands certificate.

A D-30 form is filed to report rental income, even if you do not earn other income in the District. You must also file a Personal Property Tax return FP-31, even if you have no personal property at the rental. The latter filing can be done online within minutes as a zero dollar return in your MyTaxDC portal. CPM has instructions if you need help. 

If you wish to file an extension so that your DC taxes are filed later in the year, use form FR-128 and file it on time.  NOTE: If you expect to have tax due for when you file the D-30, you must pay the estimated amount at the time of filing the extension. Failure to do so or failure to pay the right amount, will result in fines and penalties.

Navigating tax season as a property investor or landlord requires careful planning, attention to detail, and a good understanding of the tax code. Deductions, depreciation, and tax-saving strategies are essential tools that can help you maximize your return on investment and minimize your tax liability. 

As March arrives and tax filing begins, consider consulting with a tax professional to ensure you are making the most of these opportunities. With the right approach, you can make tax season a financially rewarding time for your real estate investments rather than a burden..

This article was written with publicly available information and is not to be considered as professional tax advice. A taxpayer should always consult a tax professional to determine if the ideas and strategies presented in this article apply to their situation. 

Note: Tax deadlines may vary based on individual circumstances, state residency, and tax situations. Always verify deadlines with the relevant tax authorities and consult with a tax professional if needed.

Scott Bloom is owner and Senior Property Manager of Columbia Property Management. Bloom founded Columbia Property Management in 2012. CPM’s goal is to provide a powerful, personal level of service to clients. For more information and resources, go to columbiapm.com 

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Real Estate

Building dream homes with confidence

The pros, cons, and LGBTQ insights of new construction

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One key advantage of buying a newly constructed home is the ability to customize its finishings.

Buying a new construction home offers a unique set of advantages and challenges compared to purchasing a pre-owned property. Understanding these can help potential homeowners make informed decisions. Here’s an exploration of the pros and cons of buying a new construction home and the importance of professional real estate assistance.

Advantages of Buying a New Construction Home

Customization: One of the primary benefits of buying a new construction home is the ability to customize it according to your preferences. Buyers often have the option to select floor plans, finishes, and fixtures, making the home truly their own.

Modern Features: New homes are built with the latest technologies and materials, offering more energy-efficient windows, appliances, HVAC systems, and construction methods. This can lead to significant savings on utility bills and a smaller carbon footprint.

Less Maintenance: Since everything from the appliances to the roof is brand new, homeowners typically face fewer maintenance issues in the first few years compared to older homes where systems might be nearing the end of their lifespan.

Warranties: New construction homes usually come with warranties that cover the structure and sometimes appliances and systems for a certain period, providing peace of mind to the buyer.

Disadvantages of Buying a New Construction Home

Higher Costs: Often, new construction homes come at a premium price compared to older homes. Customizations and upgrades can also add up quickly, further increasing the overall cost.

Delays: Construction timelines can be unpredictable due to weather, supply chain issues, or labor shortages. This can lead to delays in the move-in date, which can be problematic for buyers with specific timing needs.

Immature Landscaping: Newly developed areas may lack mature trees and landscaping, which can affect the property’s aesthetic appeal and privacy. It may take years for new plantings to grow fully.

Community Development: In new subdivisions, construction can continue for months or years after you move in, leading to ongoing noise, dust, and traffic.

Importance of Connecting with a GayRealEstate.com Realtor

Expert Guidance: A Realtor familiar with new construction can provide invaluable advice on the quality of different builders, potential future developments in the area, and the negotiation of upgrades and closing costs.

Representation: Builders have their own sales agents or representatives looking out for their interests. Having your own real estate agent ensures someone is advocating for your best interests, helping to navigate contracts and warranties.

Market Knowledge: Realtors have a deep understanding of the local real estate market, which can help in evaluating the new construction home’s quality and price against current market conditions.

LGBTQ Friendly: For LGBTQ individuals and families, finding a welcoming and supportive community is crucial. Realtors from GayRealEstate.com specialize in understanding the unique needs and concerns of the LGBTQ community, ensuring a smooth and respectful home-buying experience.

Before visiting a new home community, connecting with a Realtor from GayRealEstate.com can provide you with a competitive advantage. Their expertise, advocacy, and personalized support can help navigate the complexities of buying a new construction home, making the process less stressful and more rewarding. Whether it’s negotiating the price, understanding the fine print of your contract, or choosing the right community, a professional real estate agent is an invaluable asset in your home-buying journey.

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