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Parties, tours, exhibits and more

Region bustling with fall home & garden-related events

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Home and Garden, gay news, Washington blade

David Reid (left) and James Klein will be at Room & Board today in Washington. (Photo courtesy Room & Board)

Ceramic designers and couple James Klein and Davin Reid of KleinReid will visit Room & Board (1840 14th St., N.W.) today (Friday, Sept. 29) from 5-7 p.m. for a “meet-the-artists” event. They’re known for their elaborate vases and pottery that are created with a 28-step process. Details at roomandboard.com.

The Rhode Island Avenue 2017 Fall Fest is Saturday, Sept. 30 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Rhode Island between 20-24th streets, N.E. The event showcases “one of the hottest real estate markets in D.C.” for a full day of “shopping, food and entertainment for the whole family.” Details at riamainstreet.org.

Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens (4155 Linnean Ave., N.W.) has garden tours on various dates through Sunday, Nov. 12 at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Tour guides lead visitors through the grounds and share facts about the estate’s design, history, plans and flowers in 13 acres of formal gardens. Details at hillwoodmuseum.org.

The Bloomingdale Civic Association will host its “Historic Bloomingdale: Victorian Secrets & Modern Truths House Tour and Reception” on Saturday, Oct. 28 from 10:30 a.m.-7 p.m. (rain date is Sunday, Oct. 29). Six houses will be on the self-guided tour. Tour registration will take place at Tyber Creek Wine Bar & Kitchen (First and Rhode Island Ave., N.W.) starting at 10:30 a.m. A reception will be held from 4-7 p.m. at Old Engine 12 restaurant (1626 N. Capitol St., N.W.). Tickets are $30 in advance and $35 day of. Details at bloomingdalecivicassociation.org.

The Washington chapter of Ikebana International (ikebana is the art of Japanese flower arranging) is celebrating its 60th anniversary with a grand exhibition Oct. 6-9 at the U.S. National Arboretum (3501 New York Ave., N.E.) with about 80 ikebana arrangements on display. Demonstrations from master teachers will also be held on Oct. 8-9 at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. each day. Both are free and open to the public. Details at bonsai-nbf.org.

Big Gay Flea: a Queer Market will be held Sunday, Oct. 1 at Town (2009 8th St., N.W.) from noon-5 p.m. with 30 indoor vendor spaces available. Exhibitors will be local gay businesses and artisans, drag queens selling wares and collectors. Vendors will be outside; indoor area will have games, bar service, drag performances, DJs and more. Outdoor market is all ages and free. Indoor is 21-and-up with ID. Details at towndc.com or search for the event on Facebook.

The 10th annual D.C. Design House (9004 Congressional Court, Potomac, Md.) will be held from Sept. 30-Oct. 29 with 23 designed spaces, four boutiques, a celebration event on Sept. 28 and events throughout the month in the home’s ballroom. On Thursday, Oct. 5 at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., former chief White House florist Laura Dowling will present her book “A White House Christmas.” She’ll sign copies; admission tickets to this event include a guided tour of the Design House. Look for the event on eventbrite.com for details.

The National Cathedral (3101 Wisconsin Ave., N.W.) has its fall festival on Saturday, Oct. 7 from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Details at cathedral.org.

Live music takes over Adams Morgan on Saturday, Oct. 7 for the Adams Morgan PorchFest from 2-6 p.m. on various porches, patios and stoops in the neighborhood featuring 30 bands. Maps available at the event at the corner of 18th and Columbia Rd., N.W. Search for the event on Facebook for details.

The 10th annual Oktoberfest is Oct. 19-22 at the Doener Bistro (202 Harrison St., S.E.) in Leesburg, Va., and offers “merrymaking at its best” with “boot drinking, chicken dancing and Lederhosen-wearing, like-minded friends” celebrating Bavarian style. Another will be held in Frederick, Md., Oct. 6-8. Full details at doener-usa.com.

Merrifield Garden Center, with locations in Merrifield, Fairfax and Gainesville (all Virginia) has gardening seminars scheduled throughout fall, a Halloween scavenger hunt and doggie Halloween costume contest on Oct. 28 (Gainesville location), ladies’ night out on Nov. 16, holiday workshops for Thanksgiving and Christmas and more. Full details and locations at merrifieldgardencenter.com.

The D.C. Big Flea Market will be held Nov. 4-5 at the Dulles Expo Center (4320 Chantilly Shopping Center, Chantilly, Va.) in the South Hall. Period and country furniture and collectibles of all eras including glassware, jewelry, silver, porcelain and more. Admission is $10. Details at thebigfleamarket.com or dullesexpo.com.

The Germantown Family Fall Festival will be held on Saturday, Nov. 4 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. near Safeway (19718 Germantown Rd.). The shops at Town Center will host their fourth annual event with face painting, snacks, a football-watching party and more. It’s free. The event has a Facebook page for details.

Home and Garden, gay news, washington blade

This Japanese floral arrangement is an example of ikebana, the complex system of arranging that will be on display at the 60th anniversary of Ikebana International exhibit Oct. 6-9 in Washington. (Photo courtesy KRPR)

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Autos

Rides in all sizes

With sky-high gas prices, how much car do you really need?

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Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

With the current surge in gas prices, many potential buyers are taking a hard look at just how much vehicle they really need. Here’s a look at three choice rides in various sizes: small, medium, and large. 

SMALL: MITSUBISHI ECLIPSE CROSS
$24,000
Mpg: 26 city/29 highway
0 to 60 mph: 8.6 seconds 

Introduced in 2018, the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross channels plenty of excitement for those of us still pining for the sporty Eclipse coupe produced between 1989 and 2011. This affordable compact crossover offers similar cocky styling, including a futuristic fascia and tony Lexus-like tush. 

But despite the rakish good looks, the acceleration from the four-cylinder turbo is more practical than powerful. And the composed suspension is more amiable than arousing. But the nimble steering and taut cornering are perfect for quick maneuvers during rush-hour congestion and for squeezing into tight parking spaces. The straightforward cabin design comes with faux-aluminum trim and fairly comfortable cloth seats—though the lack of an adjustable lumbar support to cushion my back was a bummer. Some of the many standard features include 7-inch touchscreen, four-speaker stereo, Bluetooth and lots of safety gear: automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning and rearview camera. 

Step up to any of the three other trim levels to add heated seats, smartphone integration, synthetic suede upholstery, power panoramic sunroof, head-up display, additional safety gizmos and more. In other words, despite its budget-pleasing price, the Eclipse Cross boasts plenty of amenities. 

MEDIUM: JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE
$41,000
Mpg: 19 city/26 highway
0 to 60 mph: 7.4 seconds

Jeep Grand Cheerokee

Completely redesigned this year, the Jeep Grand Cherokee now looks more luxe-like than rugged. This could have been a disaster, considering the automaker’s reputation for churning out rough-and-tumble rides. Yet despite what is essentially a nod to Land Rover’s boxy yet soft-edged styling, this midsizer still retains its true Jeep DNA. 

This is evident in the seamless mix of smooth on-road handling with stellar off-road capability. There are more than a dozen trim levels, from the $41,000 base-model Laredo all the way up to the Summit Reserve 4xe PHEV at $77,000. While that’s quite a price difference, it shows Jeep’s commitment to offering a Grand Cherokee for every buyer personality. Sure, offering so many configurations can be confusing, but it gives drivers the chance to really customize their rides. This includes choice of three powertrains: standard V6, robust Hemi V8 and the fuel-friendly 4xe plug-in hybrid that can travel up to 25 miles on battery power alone. 

Inside, there’s so much glam you might think this was a high-end Mercedes. Depending on trim level, you can deck out the interior with quilted upholstery, open-pore wood, dual-pane panoramic sunroof, quad-zone climate control, second-row shades and other goodies. For techies, there’s a Wi-Fi hot spot, various USB ports, smartphone integration, 10.10-inch infotainment touchscreen and 10.25-inch digital gauge cluster. Call me a hedonist, but I especially liked the massaging seats, premium 19-speaker McIntosh stereo and a rear-seat entertainment system that adds dual hi-def screens with built-in Amazon Fire TV. 

LARGE: CADILLAC ESCALADE
$78,000
Mpg: 14 city/19 highway
0 to 60 mph: 5.9 seconds

Cadillac Escalade

Introduced in 1999, the Cadillac Escalade received a complete makeover last year. The head-turning styling is daring and dramatic, with a massive prow-like hood, severely creased sheet metal, and bold, vertical lighting treatments that would make Thor proud. This colossus is 6 feet, 4 inches tall and tips the scale at a hulking 5,700 pounds—twice the weight of a Mini Cooper. 

Yet it’s surprisingly spry, outpacing the Mini Cooper by 0.3 seconds when accelerating from 0 to 60 mph. While power comes from a thirsty V8, half of the cylinders are automatically deactivated at cruising speed to reduce gas consumption. A more eco-friendly option is the diesel engine, which gets 50% better fuel economy. (And earlier this month, Cadillac announced its all-electric Escalade is expected by 2024.) I test drove one of the top-of-the-line Platinum models, with a hefty price tag of $105,000. To say this large SUV was oozing luxury is an understatement, with high-end finishes everywhere, adjustable ambient lighting, center console refrigerator, night-vision camera, 36-speaker stereo and rear-seat captain’s chairs. Perhaps even more impressive: The front dash has a staggering 38 inches of curved OLED screens, combining the digital gauge cluster, infotainment display and surround-view camera.

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Real Estate

Consider buying a beach house with a group of friends 

A lawyer can ensure everyone’s rights are protected

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Enjoy weekends at the beach? Why not invest with a group of friends?

A trend that we are seeing across the boards (get it…like boardwalk) as we head into summer, aside from the swimsuits getting smaller and smaller, is friends buying homes together. Buying a property with another individual is not only an option for those in a relationship, marriage, domestic partnership, business etc. but also friendships.

With the pandemic and the increase of people wanting to move out of their small spaces in the city and leave for the more bucolic settings, the trend has been to ask your roomie, kiki partner or other friend to go halfsies on your primary residence. Why pay rent when you can have an investment and build equity in your home, right? Well why not take that approach for a second home at the beach? You will likely have the beach house to entertain and have friends over for weekends or weeks during the summer so let’s get them on the hook for more than just a few bottles of vodka or boxed wine. Let’s get their names on that mortgage.

With the rising market prices your borrowing power is stronger as a collective. Think of your group that you head to the beach with. How many of those folks would love to have a space at the beach? Likely all of them. If you can only afford $200k but three of your best friends can also only afford $200k then collectively you can afford $800k. Using simple terms and numbers here, but I trust you are tracking. 

Now that you have found those select few that you implicitly, or mostly implicitly trust and are financially stable let’s now consider the actual items that matter in practice such as (1) how you will split up days, weeks etc., (2) how and who handles/coordinates repairs to the property, (3) what happens if you no longer enjoy this person or someone wants out of the house and they’re on the mortgage? This is where a lawyer comes into place and can advise on creating an operating agreement similar to what a business or corporation would have in place to ensure that all parties in the home are protected and each has their own rights as well as common rights for the home.

I know what you’re thinking, this sounds a little dicey, but I know if you’re reading this, that you have likely been in dicier situations, and for those who really want a beach house to enjoy but might not have the capital to do so, this is a great option. Instead of renting a beach house for the season and paying high season beaucoup bucks, why not get a few friends together to buy a beach house together?

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

How do Federal Reserve decisions impact mortgage rates?

Don’t panic, recent increases not as dire as some fear

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Will the increased rates mean fewer buyers? Not necessarily.

Recently, the real estate market has been incredibly active. In many neighborhoods, it seems that a for sale sign is scarcely placed in the front yard before multiple offers, even some above asking price, roll in. In many cases, this was made possible by relatively low mortgage rates, which enticed buyers to get into the market and make those offers. Recently, however, there have been concerns about the state of the economy and increased inflation – furthered by the recent news that the Federal Reserve has raised interest rates.

This increase has understandably left many potential homebuyers wondering – what does this mean for mortgage rates, and my ability to obtain the loan I need to purchase a home? It has also left sellers asking – will the increased rates mean fewer buyers? Will it be harder to sell? These are important questions to ask. While no one has a crystal ball, many remain hopeful that the real estate market will continue to thrive. Let’s take a closer look at why together.

The Federal Reserve – Why it Matters

The Federal Reserve is the central bank of the United States, and among its many functions, it essentially guides the national economy. Part of that mission is keeping inflation under control. Recently, in an attempt to slow ever-increasing inflation, the Federal Reserve raised short-term interest rates by half a percentage point. Short-term interest rates are essentially the interest rates that banks charge one another for short-term loans.

It’s been some time since the Federal Reserve has made a move of that nature – slightly more than 20 years in fact, with the last such increase occurring in 2000. The Fed also indicated that more adjustments may be planned before the end of the year. Certainly, this raises the question – what does this mean for mortgage rates?

Federal Interest Rates Vs. Mortgage Rates

It’s important to understand that the Federal Reserve does not actually set mortgage rates – there is in fact no such thing as a “federal mortgage rate.” Ultimately, the decisions of the Federal Reserve don’t directly impact mortgage rates in the same manner as with other products, like savings accounts or CDs, for example. Mortgage rates generally respond both to the actions of the Federal Reserve, as well as to the general movement of both the United States and global economies, so there are many factors to consider.

Nevertheless, those in the mortgage industry do closely monitor the actions of the Federal Reserve, and certainly, how much buyers pay for a home loan is influenced by those decisions. As a very rough rule of thumb, for every one point increase by the Fed, your buying power goes down by $100,000.

When the Federal Reserve makes it more expensive for banks to borrow by setting a higher federal funds rate, the banks typically pass on those higher costs to their customers. This ultimately means that interest rates on consumer borrowing, which includes mortgage rates, tend to go up.

Keeping it in Perspective

While any increase in mortgage rates may not be welcome news for buyers, it’s important to keep these increases in perspective. Historically, the current interest rate, which is around 5 to 6%, depending on whether you have a 15 or 30-year mortgage, is still very low and very favorable for buyers. At the end of the 1970s, for example, interest rates were hovering near 10%, only to ultimately reach an all-time high of about 16.5% in 1981 before eventually decreasing. Throughout the 1980s, however, mortgage interest rates remained near 10% – nearly twice what they are today.

Another potential silver lining is that increased rates may also mean increased inventory – which is certainly good news for buyers. While rates are still historically very low, the increase may nevertheless mean that there are more available homes to choose from, as the number of buyers in the market decreases overall. This could be a refreshing change of pace for those buyers who felt that they had minimal choices in a highly competitive market.

While this may not be the most welcome news for sellers, it’s not necessarily bad news either. As rates are still relatively low, there will still likely be plenty of potential buyers out there. When the present market is compared to the course of the real estate market over the last several decades, now is still an excellent time to sell.

At GayRealEstate.com, we are passionate about helping LGBTQ home buyers and sellers through every aspect of the real estate process – and that includes more than just buying and selling. It also includes addressing the important issues in the real estate market that matter to you the most. We believe in the importance of connecting LGBTQ buyers and sellers with talented and dedicated agents who can help. We also believe in ensuring that our clients feel informed, prepared, and knowledgeable about all aspects of the real estate process. You deserve nothing less. Whatever your real estate needs, we’re here to help.

Jeff Hammerberg is founding CEO of Hammerberg & Associates, Inc. Reach him at 303-378-5526 or [email protected].

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