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Selling your neighborhood

D.C.’s many subdivisions can be intimidating, confusing

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neighborhood, gay news, Washington Blade

D.C. is divided into many neighborhoods that can be confusing to learn. (Image by Peter Fitzgerald; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Do you really know where you live?

When I started selling real estate in D.C. in the 1990s there were a number of neighborhood monikers that had withstood the test of time.

Everyone knew Georgetown, for example, with its expensive properties and the restaurants and shops that lined M Street and Wisconsin Avenue. Nearby Foggy Bottom was also well known; its name still produces the nervous giggles of a 10-year-old from transplants to our fair city.

Capitol Hill had always been a prominent section of the District although out-of-towners generally associated it with the government rather than the neighborhood of historic homes its residents know and love. And for other D.C. newbies, Dupont Circle was, and perhaps still is, a frustrating roundabout where one can drive in circles for an hour while working up the courage to veer off in the wrong direction, vowing never to return.

Areas like Cleveland Park and American University Park were often a mystery to newcomers who had never realized there was a suburban-like aspect to D.C. And why, they would ask, were there two different Chevy Chases and Takoma Parks?

As time passed and the District improved its economic base, increased development flourished. Legally known as Old City II, easily the Rodney Dangerfield of names, D.C.’s northwest area splintered into a number of new subdivisions. With the addition of each Starbucks a neighborhood name was born.

Initially, when development headed east from western parts of northwest D.C., we added Dupont East, the U Street Corridor, Logan Circle and Logan East, a cachet name for Shaw, which, thankfully, has returned to its roots as Shaw again.

Now we also have Bloomingdale, Mount Vernon Square, Truxton Circle, Kingman Park, NoMa and the Atlas District. Even Penn Quarter, one of the District’s pricier downtown neighborhoods, was not much more than a decaying combination of dim sum restaurants and office buildings prior to 2004.

Because the boundaries of D.C. subdivisions are somewhat blurred, there are often days when I travel around the city never knowing where I am and according to whom. Still, real estate agents must be familiar with a number of areas so we can introduce them to our buyers and sing their praises on behalf of our sellers.

One good way to do this is by developing neighborhood profiles with information that can be kept in a folder or binder for review at an open house, inserted into a PowerPoint presentation to appear on a website or be accessed via tablet, or even take the form of a PDF that can be shared with potential buyers and their agents via email.

It’s important to clarify that a neighborhood profile should not include facts or assumptions that could steer a buyer to or from a given area or tread in any way on fair housing laws. Be sure to let your real estate agent guide you in drawing that line in the sand.

Here are some items that sellers can provide to their agents to help buyers select their neighborhood and ultimately, their home.

• The URL of a website that provides information about the neighborhood

• Access to a listserv or other online forum that includes other residents of the area

• The latest edition of a local paper or community newsletter

• A Walkscore map (www.walkscore.com) that shows the home’s proximity to transportation, recreation, shopping and nightlife

• Metrobus schedules and Zipcar locations

• Copies of articles about the neighborhood from periodicals and magazines

• Background information on properties in historic districts

• Information for pet parents: veterinarians, dog parks, daycare, walkers, etc.

• Reviews of favorite local restaurants and hangouts, shops and markets, and other areas of interest

So when you’re putting your house on the market, increase the visibility and desirability of your area by assembling all the good stuff you would like to have known before you moved there and keep it handy for when your agent asks, “Is there anything in particular about your neighborhood that I should make buyers aware of?”

In real estate marketing, TMI does not apply.

Valerie M. Blake can be reached at Keller Williams Capital Properties, 202-246-8602 or at [email protected]. Each office is independently owned & operated. Equal Housing Opportunity.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Ted Smith

    August 21, 2014 at 9:30 pm

    Right on target, Valerie. If the profusion of multiple names for the same neighborhood are confusing to realtors (say, when we list a property there), I can only imagine how bewildered buyers must feel. Units in my condo on 10th St. NW regularly show up in the MLS as being located in Shaw, Logan, Mt. Vernon Square, or that perennial catch-all, Old City 2.

  2. Ted Smith

    August 21, 2014 at 9:30 pm

    Right on target, Valerie. If the profusion of multiple names for the same neighborhood are confusing to realtors (say, when we list a property there), I can only imagine how bewildered buyers must feel. Units in my condo on 10th St. NW regularly show up in the MLS as being located in Shaw, Logan, Mt. Vernon Square, or that perennial catch-all, Old City 2.

  3. Mid-City DC Life

    August 21, 2014 at 9:33 pm

    Great article in The Washington Blade about neighborhood names in DC.

  4. Mid-City DC Life

    August 21, 2014 at 9:35 pm

    Right on target. If the profusion of multiple names for the same neighborhood is confusing to realtors (say, when we list a property there), I can only imagine how bewildered buyers must feel. Units in my condo on 10th St. NW regularly show up in the MRIS as being located in Shaw, Logan, Mt. Vernon Square, or that perennial catch-all, Old City 2

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Real Estate

Helpful tips for homebuyers in seller’s market

2021 has been a great year for home sales

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COVID-19 housing market, gay news, Washington Blade

Without question, 2021 was a great year for home sales. Sellers across the country, in many cases, found themselves listing their homes and quickly having not just one, but multiple offers, many of which were at asking price or above. With limited inventory and high demand, it has been an ideal year to sell—and conversely, often a difficult year to buy. Buyers who are interested in a particular home, or even in a specific neighborhood, often find themselves facing stiff competition to have offers accepted. 

Fortunately, this doesn’t mean that many buyers haven’t had successful and rewarding home buying experiences—just that doing so often means making an extra effort and taking helpful steps to make an offer the most competitive that it can be. With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few helpful tips for buyers in a seller’s market:

  • Plan ahead with mortgage pre-approval: While there are certainly a wide variety of strategies that real estate agents and financial advisors may recommend, and while those strategies might vary depending upon the buyer and the circumstances of a particular market, one thing almost all experts agree on is that obtaining a mortgage preapproval is a smart decision. A mortgage preapproval is an ideal way to reassure sellers that a reputable lender has verified your credit and approved your buying power up to a certain limit. If you’re caught in a bidding war with another potential buyer, having preapproval establishing that you are ready, willing, and able to buy just might give you the advantage you need in a competitive market.
  • Be willing to look under budget so you can bid higher: In this highly competitive market, many home buyers find themselves in a situation where they are in a bidding war with another—or even several other—buyers. In that situation, you may find yourself having to make an offer at, or even in many cases, above, the asking price. This means that you may want to adjust your budget—and bidding—accordingly. Choosing to make an offer on a home that has an asking price that is already at the top of your budget may mean that you simply don’t have much wiggle room when it comes to making an offer over that price. Choosing a home slightly under the top of your budget means you’ll have more flexibility to make a bid that is more competitive and likely to be accepted.
  • Consider offering non-price-oriented incentives: Without question, making a highly competitive offer is going to be the key to increasing your chances of having that offer accepted. It’s important to remember that there is more to an offer than just price, however. Buyers may want to consider increasing the appeal of an offer by supplementing it with other incentives beyond just the dollar amount itself. Examples of such incentives might include things like foregoing the seller-paid home warranty that is often offered as part of the process, offering a shorter closing period, not making the purchase contingent upon the sale of a currently-owned home, or other such incentives. Doing so may give you the edge you need to have your offer selected over other competitive bids.
  • Retain the right real estate agent: Often, for LGBTQ buyers, especially in a competitive market, this piece of the puzzle is particularly important. In many, although certainly not all, cases LGBTQ buyers are drawn to specific areas of a city or community where other LGBTQ individuals live. That means that in a market where inventory is already limited and going quickly, there can be even fewer homes available upon which to bid. When that is the case, you will need a real estate agent who knows the community that you’re interested in, and who can quickly help you identify and take action toward making offers on homes that fit your needs. Having the right agent can make all the difference between a smooth and successful home-buying experience, and a stressful one

Jeff Hammerberg (he/him/his) is the Founding CEO of Hammerberg & Associates, Inc. Reach him at 303-378-5526, [email protected] or GayRealEstate.com

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Real Estate

Help, I’m under contract!  They accepted my offer?!

Buyer and seller need to work as a team

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What are the most common questions real estate agents, title companies and lenders get once a client is under contract? Well, luckily on my team we send out a next steps letter to all of our clients once an offer has been accepted and this helps them to know what to do the first week, the second week, and in any subsequent weeks before the settlement.  

For example, the letter will go out and say, “Make sure to get your EMD check to the title company in the agreed upon amount of time.” The EMD is your earnest money deposit, and most contracts have a buyer write a check for several thousands of dollars that will go the title company as sort of a “security deposit” on a contract that later gets applied to the buyers’ closing costs.

The letter will also instruct a buyer to contact their lender and confirm with them that they are under contract and to get the contract over to the lender so they can start preparing the loan and order the appraisal. The letter also states that later in the process the buyer will get the wiring instructions from the title company where settlement will be held for the down payment money. If there is to be a home inspection, we will also get that scheduled, usually in the first week after going under contract also.  

If selling, the letter is a different one with information about moving companies and getting any staging out of the listing. Both parties will receive instructions on how to change the utilities from the seller to the buyer the week of settlement. The title company will also follow up with the buyers and sellers to get any needed info. They will ask any questions necessary to possibly help the buyer to get any deductions or credits they might qualify for that could lower their closing costs. A good lender will do this also.

What each buyer and seller needs is good teamwork to make the dream work whenever a house is changing hands and a large transaction is going to be handled. For more information, you can contact me to attend my next Homebuyer’s Seminar on Oct. 12 in the evening, which will be on Zoom.  

Joseph Hudson is a Realtor at the Rutstein Group of Compass. Reach him at 703-587-0597 or at [email protected].

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Real Estate

Jenn Smira Team fighting to make world a better place

Join us in the fight against cancer

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Elvin Merlo is boxing on behalf of a friend who died of brain cancer.

At The Jenn Smira Team, we don’t just talk about making the world a better place, we fight to make it happen — literally. Case in point: this fall, Elvin Merlo (one of our very own agents) has been selected to fight in the Haymakers for Hope Beltway Brawl. What does that mean, exactly? On Nov. 4, Elvin will compete in a three-round amateur boxing match to raise money for cancer research. Read on to learn more about Elvin’s fight and the cause that compelled him to step into the ring.

A little bit about H4H: Haymakers for Hope is a 501(c)(3) charity organization that gives all of us the opportunity to fight back against cancer. The organization helps others like Elvin train for — and compete in — a sanctioned charity boxing event to raise funds for cancer research, care, awareness, and survivorship. To prepare for each event, they combine the efforts of local boxing gyms and volunteers, and match each contestant up with someone of a similar experience level (even if that experience level is “none”).

The H4H History: In 2009, H4H founders Andrew Myerson and Julie Anne Kelly participated in the New York City Golden Gloves, one of the most highly regarded amateur boxing tournaments in the U.S. After the lights went down, they realized that something was missing, and decided then and there to channel their fighting spirit to raise money for cancer research instead. This planted the seeds for Haymakers for Hope. Today, H4H gives people just like you the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to compete in their first-ever sanctioned boxing event while supporting a worthy cause at the same time. The experience is impactful, challenging, and life changing, and the march toward a cure continues long after the last match of the night.

Why Elvin Fights: Elvin fights for David Black, his dear friend who recently passed away after a nearly seven-year battle with brain cancer. He was only 33 years old and left behind his wife, Jen, and two beautiful children.

While it’s nearly impossible to capture John in just a few words, the ones that might do it best are perhaps: “I want to be like John when I grow up.” It’s a phrase that his father, John Sr., could often be overheard saying and a sentiment the rest of his family would all be quick to echo.

John was a force. He loved his family and friends above all else and radiated a quiet resolve that comforted those around him. He faced adversity with unflappable courage and never missed an opportunity to elicit a smile with his wry sense of humor, no matter the hardship he faced.

John truly embodied the warrior spirit, which is why Elvin knew there was only one way to honor him: to fight. That’s why on Nov. 4, he’ll step into the boxing ring and join 27 other fighters for a three-round sanctioned boxing event while raising money for cancer research, care, awareness, and survivorship.

Fundraising Specifics: Elvin is raising money for Dr. John Laterra’s research at John’s Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center. Dr. Laterra oversaw John’s treatment, and is internationally recognized for his clinical expertise and research on the mechanisms of brain tumor malignancy.

Compass Cares empowers agents and employees alike to support meaningful causes right where it counts most: at home. Compass has already pledged $15,000 to support Elvin in his fight against cancer. 

Will you join the fight? Visit haymakersforhope.org to make your donation today.

Jenn Smira is a Realtor and executive vice president at the Jenn Smira Team. Reach her at 202-340-7675 or via jennsmira.com.

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