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Rising or falling rents?

The answer depends on property type

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rents, gay news, Washington Blade
rents, gay news, Washington Blade

Are rents in the District actually rising? Maybe on Class A properties, but not overall.

“Rents Rise in the District Despite a Crush of Class A Units,” shouts the most recent headline from the real estate newsletter Urban Turf. The article points out that developers were worried that the wave of new Class A apartments that came online in 2014 would actually force rents down, when in fact the opposite has happened. (Class A properties are defined as large buildings that came online after 1991 with full amenity packages.)

But are rents in the District actually rising? Maybe on Class A properties, but not overall.

Statistics compiled by Real Estate Business Intelligence show that rents in the District have actually fallen overall by
3.89 percent in 2014 versus the same period in 2013. However, when we look at these figures by housing type, we find that these two claims about rising and falling rents are not actually mutually contradictory.

Some overall observations:

• The number of rental units on the D.C. market has substantially increased (by almost +35 percent) since last year. The biggest increases have come in the number of townhouses (+108 percent), detached homes (+62.86 percent), and midrise apartments (+58.23 percent, probably due in part to the development of new Class A apartment buildings).

• List prices have fallen for all categories of rental housing except townhouses (+29.47 percent), midrises (+12.84 percent), and multi-family houses (+3.32 percent). Similarly, rental prices have fallen for all categories of housing except townhouses (+16 percent), semi-detached (+8.1 percent), and midrise apartments (+4.19 percent).

• The ratio of rent prices to asking prices (list price) has fallen for all categories of housing types, except semi-detached houses (up 13.27 percent) and garden apartments (up 8.78 percent). It may be new information to some readers that there is almost always some “wiggle” room in rental negotiations, and that the overall ratio of rental price to list price for D.C. rentals overall is 93 percent.

• Average days on the market for rental properties has increased for D.C. overall, from 42 to 69 days (a +64.29 percent increase). Especially notable here is the large increase in days on the market for high-rise apartments (+185.37 percent) and garden apartments (+86.96 percent), which would also seem to be an effect of the number of new Class A properties.

So the number of rental units is increasing, but prices for those units are actually decreasing except for certain housing types. What are the implications of these statistics? Well, that depends on whether you’re a landlord or a tenant. If you’re a landlord, it probably means that you’ll have more competition for tenants from the new Class A projects. If you’re a potential tenant, it means you have more choice of units and that your new landlord may be willing to bargain a bit more in order to get you moved in.

Happy hunting!

Ted Smith is a licensed Realtor with Real Living | at Home specializing in mid-city D.C. Reach him at [email protected] and follow him on Facebook, Youtube or Twitter. You can also join him on monthly tours of mid-city neighborhood Open Houses, as well as monthly seminars geared toward first-time homebuyers. Sign up at meetup.com/DCMidCity1stTimeHomeBuyers/.

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Real Estate

Chores for the fall before the chill arrives

Clean gutters, replace smoke detector batteries, and more

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Get busy now on house projects before the winter chill sets in.

While it may not feel like fall is in the air yet, it won’t be too long before pumpkin spice will explode everywhere — in food, drinks, candles, and body lotions, to name a few places. If you’re not a fan, you’ll find air freshener plug-ins in scents like Frosted Cranberry, Fresh Fall Morning, and Sweater Weather among the offerings at Bath and Body Works.

Soon after, hordes of December holiday decorations will appear in the stores, often bypassing a smidgen of items for Halloween and Thanksgiving. Except candy. Halloween candy will always figure prominently.

But before you hibernate and chow down on mini-Snickers bars, there is work to be done to prepare your home for the winter.

Inside the home. To ensure your safety, check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Replace batteries or buy new detectors if they are more than 10 years old. Have your chimney inspected and cleaned, and make any necessary repairs, then test your fire extinguishers. Seal doors and windows that might allow drafts to enter with weatherstripping.

Now is the time to take advantage of the discount prices on heating system tune-ups that some HVAC companies are offering. As little as $59 for a check-up will help your equipment function better and extend its life. 

A furnace tune-up should include cleaning all components, lubricating motor parts, checking electrical parts for rust or corrosion, making sure your thermostat is working properly, and replacing the filter. You may want to take this opportunity to have your vents cleaned as well. 

A heat pump inspection includes cleaning and lubricating the blower and fan motors, inspecting indoor and outdoor coils, flushing the condensate drain, and testing the controls.

If you have a boiler instead of a furnace or heat pump, you can expect your serviceperson to inspect, test and calibrate all gauges and safety mechanisms, measure and record the flame pattern concentration and carbon monoxide, check electrical connections, and more. 

Don’t forget to bleed the radiators to release air in the pipes and enhance the circulation of warm water. And if you’re like me, cross your fingers that your 47-year-old boiler will last one more season.

Outside the home. While the leaves haven’t started falling yet, the recent rain and winds may have blown yard debris into your gutters, so make sure they, and your downspouts, are clear. Position the downspouts so they will take any water away from your foundation and regrade the perimeter of your house, if needed.

Check your roof for lost shingles. Look for missing flashing or bricks in need of tuck-pointing or parging on the exterior of your chimney. Walk around your house and note any foundation cracks or unsealed openings. Check retaining walls for missing mortar. There is still plenty of time to make these repairs before the cold sets in.

Now that 90-degree temperatures have receded a bit, plan the power washing and painting of exterior surfaces that you have been putting off tackling. And since the Labor Day barbecue is now over, it’s time to winterize your gas grill.

In the garden. Far be it for me to profess to be an expert in the garden. I’m the first one on the phone to a landscaper to seek help. In fact, there is a barrage of weeding going on at my home this week. Nonetheless, here are a few suggestions.

Prune trees and bushes to promote future growth. Water, aerate, and fertilize the lawn. Select any bulbs you want to plant and enjoy next spring and consult a source such as Better Homes and Gardens magazine for tips on how and when to plant them. 

Drain garden hoses, detach them, and drain the pipes that run to the hose bibbs as well. If you’re lucky enough to have underground sprinklers (I am not), follow the manufacturer’s instructions for winterizing them, or call a professional.

Store lawn furniture and cushions in a shed, garage, or basement. Or do as I do – throw away the cushions that are dirty or moldy and buy new ones next spring. And when the leaves fall en masse, rake them, bag them, and recheck your gutters and downspouts to be sure they’re clear.

Finally, head to the hardware store to buy a snow shovel, some windshield de-icer and washer fluid, and a few bags of salt or pet-safe, snow-melting product before the rush. You’ll be glad you did.

And if you happen to live in a condominium or cooperative, when you have completed any relevant interior chores, relax for the rest of the season and enjoy some candy. I stash mine in the cabinet above the refrigerator. 

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Real Estate

What to expect during a home inspection

Foundation, windows, heating, outlets, and more to be checked

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Before you buy, consider an inspection.

As we get into the fall market, home inspectors will find that their phones and inboxes are becoming a bit busier. And if you have never bought a home, or the last purchase was during a very competitive period where a home inspection was waived, here is your chance as a buyer to find out what they are all about.  

There are several types of inspections. The inspection for a condo is different than an inspection of a single-family home (SFH). Then there is the length and intent of the inspection.  A quick “walk and talk” inspection is cheaper and faster than one in which the inspector generates a detailed report with photographs and comments or suggestions. As a home seller, you may want to have your home inspected before putting it on the market, to get in front of any concerns a potential buyer may have. A buyer may want to inspect to confirm that the home is worth submitting an offer, or they may want to negotiate based on the results of the inspection report.

What are the items an inspector will be checking? Many of the items can include all or a combination of the following:

  • Structure – foundation, crawlspaces, framing (SFH)
  • Exterior – doors, windows, steps, walkways, decks, gutters (SFH)
  • Roof, drainage, chimneys, skylights (SFH)
  • Plumbing and distribution systems, faucets, hot water heaters, sump pumps, hose and water main valves.
  • Outlets, proper wiring within the outlet, GFCI’s, 
  • AC systems
  • Heating systems
  • Insulation, walls, ventilation
  • Chimneys – (separate chimney inspections are available)

A condo inspection is usually just an interior only inspection, where a single-family home includes more of the exterior and evaluation of the surroundings. If a report is generated, the items will be divided into categories such as the ones listed above, and then usually subdivided into priority levels of concern. 

The agent that is writing the offer for their client can also indicate whether the inspection is just for informational purposes for the buyer, or whether the inspection will inform any repair requests or credits in the negotiation process. Many qualified home inspectors can also recommend home maintenance tips for the buyer going forward. In this landscape of higher interest rates buyers frequently have more time typically to decide, seek an inspection, and negotiate their terms, due to less competition being in the market. When the rates are lower and buyers are out in full force, this more relaxed environment can quickly turn into a competitive and more rushed experience. If you are interested in purchasing or selling a home, please let me know and I can help you find the right resources to help you reach your goals.

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

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Real Estate

Navigating the 3-2-1 mortgage in a changing market

Tap into affordability and leverage projected rate shifts

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Navigating the path to homeownership is a milestone that holds immense significance for everyone. However, for members of our LGBTQ community, the journey often carries unique considerations that demand careful thought and planning. 

With higher mortgage rates on the horizon and the Federal Reserve poised for policy changes, coupled with the ongoing challenge of rising housing prices due to low inventory, finding a mortgage solution that aligns with both financial goals and community values is paramount.

1. Initial Financial Advantage: With a 3-2-1 Mortgage, you initiate your homeownership venture with initial payments set significantly lower than the prevailing mortgage rates. This positions you favorably in the market, allowing you to commence your homeownership journey with manageable monthly payments, freeing up resources for other essential expenditures.

2. Anticipating Rate Adjustments: As the Fed recalibrates its policies and the mortgage rates embark on a downward trajectory, the 3-2-1 Mortgage structure strategically aligns you to harness this shift. Your payments remain highly competitive, ensuring that you gain a competitive edge as the rates transition into a more favorable range.

3. Flexibility Amid Changing Circumstances: The early years of homeownership can be a period of change. The reduced payments in the 3-2-1 structure provide you with financial agility to navigate potential shifts in your life, both personal and professional.

4. Navigating the Refinancing Opportunity: As mortgage rates dip due to anticipated Fed policy changes over the next 12 months, the door opens to explore refinancing. This could lead to further payment reductions or a shorter loan term, enabling you to maximize financial gains in the long run.

5. Long-Term Financial Security: Fixed-rate mortgages ensure stability in a fluctuating market. With a 3-2-1 Mortgage, the consistent payments offer a shield against potential rate fluctuations throughout the loan term.

6. Leveraging Property Appreciation: With housing prices poised to continue their ascent due to constrained inventory, your investment gains momentum. The accrued equity in your home provides options for future endeavors, such as refinancing, capitalizing on a profitable sale, or utilizing the enhanced home value for other financial pursuits.

7. Guidance from Real Estate Experts: Consulting a real estate professional at GayRealEstate.com remains a prudent step before any major financial/housing commitment, including your choice of mortgage. Their insights will help align your unique financial situation and objectives with the optimal decision.

Considering the 3-2-1 Mortgage option in the current dynamic may be a savvy choice, allowing you to tap into the affordability at the outset, leverage projected rate shifts, and stay ahead in a housing market characterized by climbing prices and limited inventory. 

Whether you’re seeking a welcoming neighborhood, navigating the intricacies of mortgage options, or aligning your homeownership dreams with your LGBTQ+ identity, a specialized Realtor is your dedicated advocate.

Don’t hesitate to reach out today for a free, no-obligation conversation with the finest LGBTQ+ Realtors at GayRealEstate.com, and a referral to an LGBTQ+ friendly mortgage lender. Your path to homeownership is a story that deserves to be written with care, authenticity, and unwavering support. Together, let’s make this chapter one of triumph, belonging, and prosperity. Your dream home awaits – let’s embark on this journey together.

Jeff Hammerberg is a distinguished entrepreneur and broker, renowned as the founder behind GayRealEstate.com. With an impressive journey spanning more than 25 years, he has played a pivotal role in championing the mission of fair, transparent, and just representation for every member of the LGBTQ+ community in the realm of residential real estate.

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