Connect with us

Real Estate

Strong D.C. housing market has wide-ranging factors

City officials want to continue attracting newcomers while not pricing long-term Washingtonians out

Published

on

real estate, gay news, Washington Blade, DC real estate market 2017

Local Realtors say buyers are pricing their properties more strategically than they were a decade ago based on current buying trends.

Ed Wood is a D.C.-based realtor with City Houses LLC for 20 years and former president of the District of Columbia Association of Relators. He sells in all eight wards and averages 15-20 sales per year.

He spoke with the Washington Blade this week on local housing trends, renting vs. buying and why the rental market is soft now, but likely to explode in the coming years. His comments have been slightly edited for length.

WASHINGTON BLADE: It seems most agree in Washington we’re back to pre-recession prices and multiple offers on real estate. Is that your assessment?

ED WOOD: Yes. D.C. was in a much better position during and after the recession. We saw a flattening but then it picked up fairly quickly and the market has been really strong ever since about 2011, 2012. We regularly see multiple offers still on properties.

BLADE: Is the asking price sort of an opening bid in those situations?

WOOD: It depends where it’s priced. It’s they’ve priced a little below asking, they’ll often get multiple offers and it will bump up. If they’re priced at asking or above, we do see things sit on the market because of that. Buyers are more savvy and more cautious than they were pre-2008.

BLADE: Were there many cases in D.C. where a homeowner may have been underwater on their mortgage during the recession but got out of it once the economy rebounded?

WOOD: There wasn’t a lot of that in D.C. It was more in the suburbs and more likely the further you got out from the city but those prices we saw coming back by last year. Occasionally in some of the more developing neighborhoods we saw some slow downs and some price softening but those prices have completely come back. Many values have increased above what people paid.

BLADE: How is the market for rentals vs. sales in Washington?

WOOD: The rental market has been fairly soft for awhile while the buying market has been strong. A lot of the buildings that are going up in the city have been rental buildings as opposed to condos and that’s because the long-term demographic outlook for the city — we’re still gaining about a thousand residents a month — is expected to be over a million by 2030 so there are a lot of companies from around the country who see this as a really good rental market and they’re interested in the long term. We’re not seeing the number of condos we saw pre-2008, so that’s why we see the competition. There’s still not enough inventory.

BLADE: Why is the rental market soft if the projections are so strong?

WOOD: They’re building for that projected million residents. (Editor’s note: D.C.’s current population is about 672,000.) You can’t suddenly build all the units you’ll need, so they’re building them now for five-10 years down the road. These are big companies who work in the long-term market so they can afford to do this. Sometimes they’ll even go to developers building a condo building and say, “Hey, we need a rental building at this location. Would you consider reconfiguring the design a bit to turn it into a rental building and selling the whole thing to us?” That’s attractive to developers because it’s a lot easier to sell an entire building than individual units to individual buyers.

BLADE: Those population projections must be pretty solid then. Could something catastrophic throw a wrench in those plans?

WOOD: Certainly. After 9-11 around the country, it just killed the market immediately and people stopped moving to D.C. immediately. But then things turned around. A lot of things could happen to change things, but hopefully nothing of that scale. All the demographics I have looked at are pointing toward that large population growth at least through 2030. Others that go beyond that are less reliable in my opinion.

BLADE: Based on what we’re seeing now and with those kinds of projections, will gentrification spread across the river?  What’s it like in those wards now?

WOOD: There’s a lot of interest in Anacostia and there’s a lot of change going on there. Bigger companies are looking at that area. … One of the issues there has been a lack of services and also people who’ve been priced out of other areas are looking over there. There’s been a lot of revitalization there but there’s also been a very active group of long-term residents who want to see improvements but don’t want to be pushed out. I know the mayor and city council members are focusing more on that part of the city. There’s even talk of moving the Reeves building at 14th and U., of selling that building and moving it over there.

BLADE: With all the gentrification that has spread down 14th Street to Florida Avenue and starting into the Northeast quadrant — look how different Bloomingdale, for instance, looks from what it was like 10 years ago — is it safe to assume that trend will continue or is that an oversimplification?

WOOD: I think that’s true. City government for a long time was desperate to get people to move back into the city. It was a dying place as people were overall fleeing out to the suburbs but that’s turned around and most cities are growing whereas the suburbs are starting to die out. People want to be closer and they want to spend more time doing the things they like as opposed to sitting in their car going to and from a bigger house. The city government is taking a renewed look at how that happens, how that takes place and what it means for the long-term city residents.

BLADE: They want to put some mechanisms in place to absorb some of that shock so to speak?

WOOD: Yes. There’s a lot of interest in trying to move in that direction so we don’t have a city where only the wealthy can afford to live. Whereas before they were trying to stop people from fleeing the city, we don’t even have to think about that now.

BLADE: Do people comment to you about Ed Wood the schlock film director often?

WOOD: Yes. It was actually helpful after the movie came out because growing up, my full name was Edward Wood. I would say Edward and they would think I said Ed Wood. That happened constantly. But nobody says that anymore. It’s kind of a name that sticks with people so they feel like they’ve seen it more than maybe they have.

BLADE: Have you seen “Glen or Glenda?” or “Plan 9”?

WOOD: Yeah. I’m a fan of his terrible movies.

BLADE: Do LGBT issues factor into D.C. real estate to any significant degree?

WOOD: I haven’t seen it be much of a factor at all. DC. has been such a gay-friendly city for so long, I don’t think it’s much of a consideration. When they’re selling a house, they just want the best price.

BLADE: Is there any sense of a gayborhood anywhere in 2017? Do people buy with that in mind?

WOOD: I don’t see that anymore. When I was first in the business 20 years ago, there was a desire, usually by gay men, to want to be near Dupont. I live near there. My husband and I have had a house here for 20 years so we’ve really seen the change on 14th Street. When we moved here, our friends thought we were crazy. Now they say, “How did you know?” We didn’t know. We just bought where we could afford and at the time we wanted to be near Dupont. Now when I have gay clients, they want to look all over the city and I see them asking things I never saw gay clients asking before like what are the schools like. They’re more interested now in the things you would have thought the straight couples would be looking at.

BLADE: Did marriage, either in D.C. or with the Supreme Court ruling, affect real estate in any perceptible way?

WOOD: I didn’t see much. There used to be a lot more estate planning, wills, setting things up in case something happened to one of you. My husband and I have been together 25 years and we did all that. … But now there’s a whole structure in place to keep you more protected than there was before.

BLADE: About how many of your clients on average are LGBT?

WOOD: I would say about a third.

BLADE: Are there any lesbian streets or enclaves around the city or is that not really a thing?

WOOD: It’s really not. Even with gay men, that Dupont thing is out the window. People are looking at schools, they want to be near work, they may want to be near a particular restaurant or they’re looking for the feel of a neighborhood. It’s usually things like that and it happens to be very individual to the couple.

Ed Wood can be reached at [email protected] or cityhousesdc.com

Advertisement
FUND LGBTQ JOURNALISM
SIGN UP FOR E-BLAST

Real Estate

Totally radical home buying

We should celebrate advancement of homeownership rights

Published

on

The phrase “totally radical” came of age in the 1980s and was defined as cool, wonderful, or awesome. Its synonym, wicked, can be found in nearly all Ben Affleck movies and a cry of “Excellent!” will bring back memories of an adventure had by Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves) in 1989.

Although some people are not ready for cocooning yet, homeownership is still a cornerstone of financial strength and wealth building. For LGBTQ individuals, owning a home can provide a sense of economic security and a sanctuary where they can express their personalities freely and without fear of discrimination or harassment. 

Whether house, condominium, or cooperative apartment, owning a place to chill allows you to build a legacy and provide for future generations. It offers the stability needed to plan for the future, whether that involves raising a family, supporting aging parents, or ensuring a spouse’s or partner’s financial security.

Homeowners are also more likely to invest in their communities, fostering strong, inclusive, bitchin’ neighborhoods. For many LGBTQ people, a home is “In the District,” which prides itself on diversity. Homeownership allows individuals to create personal spaces that reflect their identities and values, contribute to the city’s rich cultural tapestry, support local businesses, and participate in community events and governance.

The journey toward homeownership for gay individuals has evolved over the years, reflecting broader societal changes and the struggle for LGBTQ rights. The stark contrast between the ’80s and now highlights the progress made, the challenges that still exist, and future uncertainties brought forth by the space cadets in our political system. 

In the 1980s, homeownership for gay people was bogus. The decade was marked by lame, pervasive discrimination and limited legal protections. The HIV/AIDS epidemic further stigmatized the gay community, intensifying societal prejudices. This climate of fear and hostility permeated various aspects of life, including the housing market.

Gay individuals faced overt discrimination from landlords, real estate agents, and mortgage lenders, even in the rental market. It was not uncommon for same-sex couples to be denied housing simply because of their sexual orientation. Even in the late ’90s I had clients looking for homes in Prince William County, Va., who had to hightail it out of an open house when told to take a hike. I kid you not!

Financial institutions were often unwilling to grant mortgages to same-sex couples or openly gay individuals. When they did, the terms were often less favorable than those offered to heterosexual couples. This made the dream of homeownership significantly harder to achieve, even though DINKs (dual income, no kids) tended to have more household income than so-called “traditional” families.

Additionally, the lack of legal recognition for same-sex relationships posed harsh challenges. Without the ability to marry, same-sex couples faced difficulties in co-owning property and ensuring that their partner had legal rights to the home. Estate planning was complicated, as inheritance laws did not recognize same-sex partners, potentially leading to the loss of a home upon a partner’s death.

The landmark Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, was a fantabulous moment. This ruling provided same-sex couples with the same legal rights as heterosexual couples, including the ability to jointly own property and inherit without complication.

Anti-discrimination laws have also evolved. The definition of sex under the Federal Fair Housing Act has been expanded to include sexual orientation and gender identity, as have protected classes in Maryland and Virginia. The District has taken that a step further; our protected classes also include gender expression and personal appearance. 

Organizations like the DC Center for the LGBT Community and the National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals (NAGLREP) offer resources and advocacy for LGBTQ+ homebuyers. These organizations provide educational workshops, networking opportunities, and support to navigate the housing market.

The advancement of homeownership rights for gay people is a testament to the righteous resilience and determination of the LGBTQ+ community. As society continues to strive for equality, it is essential to address the remaining challenges to ensure that everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, can achieve the goal of homeownership.

In 2024, the only limitations on owning a home are finding one and being able to afford it. Pride weekend is a great time to go to open houses. You’ll probably be walking right by several. 

But if you’re not ready yet and just feel like getting your ’80s jams on, grab your disco balls and check out the Totally Tubular Festival at The Anthem at The Wharf on July 14.I’ll be Desperately Seeking Susan and will, as they used to say in the ’70s, catch you on the flip flop.

Continue Reading

Real Estate

Decorating tips for Pride in D.C.

Perfect time to add a dash of creativity to your living space

Published

on

Hang your Pride flag and other LGBTQ-themed décor this Pride month. (Washington Blade file photo by Daniel Truitt)

As the vibrant LGBTQ community in Washington, D.C., gears up for the much-anticipated Pride celebrations on June 8 and June 9, it’s the perfect time to add a splash of color and a dash of creativity to your living space. Normally, I know you’re used to reading more educational and serious articles in this space. In the spirit of D.C. Pride this year, I thought a bit of levity would be welcomed.

Whether you’re in a cozy condo, a spacious home, or a rental apartment, here are some fabulous ways to zhuzh up your indoors and outdoors with Pride-themed décor. 

Indoors: Celebrate with Style

1. Colorful Accents Everywhere

Transform your living area into a festive space by incorporating the colors of the rainbow. Here’s how:

• Throw Pillows and Blankets: Swap out your regular throw pillows and blankets for those in bright, rainbow colors. This simple change can make your space instantly feel more festive.

• Pride Flags: Hang LGBTQ Pride flags on your walls or in your windows. The traditional rainbow flag is a staple, but also consider including other flags like the bisexual, transgender, or pansexual flags to celebrate the diversity of our community.

• Art and Posters: Display Pride-themed art or inspirational quotes from LGBTQ+ icons. Local artists often have prints and posters that reflect the spirit of Pride.

2. Light It Up. Lighting can set the mood for any celebration:

• Fairy Lights: Drape rainbow-colored fairy lights around your living room or bedroom for a magical touch.

• LED Candles: Use multi-colored LED candles to safely add a warm glow to your space.

3. Tabletop Décor. Celebrate at every meal with:

• Tablecloths and Runners: A vibrant rainbow tablecloth or runner can turn every dining experience into a celebration.

• Centerpieces: Create centerpieces with flowers in hues of the rainbow, or use colorful glass bottles as vases.

4. DIY Pride Crafts. Get creative with DIY decorations:

• Rainbow Paper Chains: Make paper chains in rainbow colors and hang them across your rooms.

• Pride Mason Jars: Paint mason jars in rainbow stripes and use them to hold utensils or flowers.

Outdoors: A Festive Façade

1. Balcony or Patio Pride. If you have outdoor space, make it a part of the celebration:

• Rainbow Banners and Streamers: Decorate your balcony or patio railings with rainbow banners and streamers.

• Outdoor Flags: Fly a large Pride flag from your balcony or in your garden.

2. Welcoming Door Décor. Your front door can be a bold statement of support:

• Pride Wreath: Create or buy a wreath featuring rainbow colors or themed around different LGBTQ+ flags.

• Welcome Mats: Greet visitors with Pride-themed welcome mats.

3. Garden and Window Dressings. Let your garden or exterior windows echo your Pride:

• Window Decals: Use removable rainbow decals to decorate windows facing the street.

• Garden Flags: Place small rainbow or other LGBTQ+ flags throughout your garden or in plant pots on your porch.

4. Lighting the Night. Make your outdoor space shine:

• Solar Rainbow Lights: Use solar-powered lights in Pride colors to illuminate pathways or garden borders.

• Projection Lights: Project rainbow patterns or Pride flags onto your home’s exterior.

Community Engagement

1. Share the Spirit. Decorate your shared spaces if you’re in an apartment building:

• Bulletin Boards: Put up colorful notices or flyers announcing local Pride events.

• Community Areas: If possible, decorate communal areas with small flags or posters.

2. Local Pride. Support local LGBTQ businesses by buying decorations or craft supplies from them. This not only helps the community but also promotes local artists and crafters.

Safety and Considerations

• Check with your landlord or HOA: Before hanging decorations outside or in shared areas, make sure to check if there are any restrictions.

• Be Mindful of Neighbors: While celebrating Pride, ensure your decorations are respectful and mindful of your neighbors.

By decorating your home for Pride in Washington, D.C., you’re not just brightening up your living space; you’re showing your support and solidarity with the LGBTQ community. Let your Pride shine brightly, and make this year’s celebrations unforgettable!

Scott Bloom is owner and senior property manager, Columbia Property Management. For more information and resources, visit ColumbiaPM.com.

Continue Reading

Real Estate

Looking for vacation homes during Memorial Day weekend

A busy, strategic time in the housing market

Published

on

As summer arrives, more tourists begin thinking of buying in resort towns like Rehoboth Beach, Del. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Memorial Day weekend, a time to honor the sacrifices of the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces, also marks the unofficial start of summer. Beyond its significance as a day of remembrance, it has become a prime period for the real estate market. The long weekend provides a unique opportunity for home buyers and sellers, making it one of the busiest and most strategic times in the housing market.

Memorial Day weekend is often a time when people head to the beach, the country, or the mountains for relaxation and to join in the local festivities. This long weekend offers a break from routine, a chance to honor those who have served, and an opportunity to enjoy the beginning of warmer weather. 

For real estate agents, however, Memorial Day weekend can be a blend of work and leisure, especially in resort communities where the real estate market is particularly active during this time. 

The influx of visitors to these destinations often includes prospective buyers who are considering purchasing vacation homes or investment properties. As a result, real estate agents in these areas might find themselves balancing work commitments with personal downtime.

We are keenly aware that the long weekend brings a surge in potential clients. Agents joke among themselves about business being slow until they make plans to go out of town. Open houses and community home tours are often scheduled to coincide with the holiday, taking advantage of the increased foot traffic.

Due to constantly improving technology, real estate agents can effectively manage their time and resources even during busy holiday weekends. Virtual tours, online listings, and digital marketing campaigns enable agents to reach a broad audience without always being physically present. Technology also allows agents to stay connected with clients and respond to inquiries promptly, ensuring that the clients do not miss out on potential sales opportunities. 

Often, agents licensed in the DMV are expanding their territories by becoming licensed in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. Writing offers while on vacation has become the norm. Social media accounts can highlight special listings and open house events, and agents can also post pictures and descriptions of amenities in the towns they are visiting, attracting interested buyers who are in the area for the weekend.

The vibrant atmosphere of vacation getaway towns during Memorial Day weekend also provides a unique opportunity for networking and relationship-building. Agents can meet potential clients in a casual setting, forging connections that might lead to new business opportunities. They can also form relationships with other agents and create partnerships to help current and future clients find leisure homes.

The appeal of owning a place by the water, for example, is often strongest during the summer months, when the weather is inviting and the potential for rental income is high. Real estate agents who serve beach towns such as Ocean City, Md., Virginia Beach, Va., or Rehoboth Beach, Del., often mix business with pleasure as they seek out new clients.

Alternatively, if the relaxed life in the country is more to your liking, places such as The Amish area of Lancaster County, Pa. may be for you. Charles Town, W.Va., and Ashland, Va. have a robust military history and may be what you’re looking to enjoy. If mountains and lakes are more your style, the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia, the Appalachians of West Virginia, or Deep Creek Lake, Md., may fit the bill, so let’s look at a few properties on the market today.

In Ocean City, you can find an oceanfront, one-bedroom condominium with beach and sunset views in a short-term rental building for $439,900. As you can imagine, it already has four weeks booked for the summer.

The historic district of Charles Town, W.Va., offers a 3,000-square-foot Victorian home built in 1890. It has five bedrooms, two bathrooms, 10’ high ceilings, original pocket doors, inlaid floors, and central air conditioning for $159,900. What’s the catch? It requires a complete renovation, but what a wonderful project it could be for weekend warriors.

Stretch your budget a bit more and you can own a 4,000-square-foot chalet with mountain views on both sides in Front Royal, Va. For less than $700,000, you will get four bedrooms and three baths, nearly two acres of land, and low-maintenance siding.

While many people flock to nearby vacation spots purely for relaxation, real estate agents often find themselves working diligently to learn about different areas and capitalize on the increased interest in local properties. By doing so, they can help clients find their dream homes, whether for retirement, short getaways, or investment potential.

Valerie M. Blake is a licensed associate broker in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia with RLAH Real Estate / @properties. Call or text her at 202-246-8602, email her via DCHomeQuest.com, or follow her on Facebook at TheRealst8ofAffairs.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Sign Up for Weekly E-Blast

Follow Us @washblade

Advertisement

Popular