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Real Estate

What the tax bill means for buyers, homeowners

There’s good news and there’s bad news



tax bill, gay news, Washington Blade, property taxes

There’s good news and there’s bad news in the new tax bill.

In case you missed it, the hotly debated new tax bill has officially passed. Since real estate is one of the key areas of change in the bill, everyone is asking us, “What does the new tax bill mean for me? Is this good news or bad news for D.C.-area buyers and sellers?” The answer, as it so often is in real estate is, “it depends!”

The initial version of this new tax bill would have been troublesome for real estate values in our area. It slashed the mortgage deduction in half, had big changes for capital gains, and made it much more expensive to move. Several changes were made between the initial draft and the final form, which makes the final impact of the bill more of a mixed bag. There’s good news and there’s bad news.

So without further ado, here are the main changes and takeaways affecting homeowners in our area.


THE CHANGE: Through the end of 2025, new homebuyers will only be able to deduct interest on the first $750,000 of a mortgage (down from $1 million). In 2026, the deduction cap will revert to $1 million in loan value. Existing mortgages will be unaffected.

THE IMPACT: None for existing homeowners or new buyers with loan amounts under $750,000. While this reduction is bad news for upper price point buyers, the news is much better than the original proposal, which was a reduction to $500,000 and would have affected the majority of mortgages in our area. Remember, these are loan amounts – NOT sales prices. Thus, the only impact will be for buyers with loans above $750,000 – which most often is homes above $825,000 – depending on how much the buyer is financing. While it is possible the bill could cause a small slowdown for “move-up” buyers in our market, we don’t anticipate this causing a major change now. The impact of the new cap will probably make it less attractive to refinance in upper brackets. If your loan existed before December 14, 2017 up to $1,00,000 can still deduct the interest as long as the new loan does not exceed the amount refinanced.

Let’s look at Buyers A & B to see how this new cap comes into play.

Buyer A is putting 10% down on a sales price of $825,000, meaning he has a loan of $750,000, which is the deduction limit. Buyer A would be unaffected.

Buyer B is putting 10% down on $1,000,000, which is a loan amount of $900,000. The deduction can still be taken, but can only be taken on the first $750,000. Buyer B would not be able to deduct the interest paid on $150,000 of the loan (the difference between $750K-$900K).


THE CHANGE: The new tax bill also suspends the deduction for interest on home equity loans until 2026. Currently, deductions are allowed for loans up to $100,000. Caveat: the interest on a home-equity loan can be deducted if the proceeds are used to substantially improve the home.

THE IMPACT: This change makes it less attractive for homeowners to take out equity lines on their homes in order to do minor renovations or use their home’s equity to pay for other things like kids’ college tuition or other big purchases. While this change is certainly frustrating for those planning to take advantage of these loans, it shouldn’t affect the housing market in a significant way since it is typically utilized by homeowners who have been in their properties for several years (and have equity) and are planning to stay longer to regain the equity over time.


THE CHANGE: The interest deduction on loans for a second home will still be allowed. However, homeowners can only deduct the first $750,000 of interest on the combined value of loans on their first and second homes.

THE IMPACT: Owners of multiple properties will feel this one. The bad news is there is likely to be a large impact on housing markets in resort or second home areas, as it will certainly be more expensive to own more than one property. While we are not a second home market, we have many clients buying properties in our area to be near their kids and grandkids. Similarly, we have many service members who take advantage of their housing allowance and low down payment opportunities with VA loans to keep their homes in other areas while buying a home when they are stationed here in the DC area. The impact of this change remains to be seen.


THE CHANGE: Individuals can only deduct up to $10,000 in state and local income and property taxes or state and local property and sales taxes. Previously, there was no cap on this deduction.

THE IMPACT: Homeowners living in high property tax states (like New Jersey with an average rate of 2.38%) will likely see an increased tax bill come April. Nationally, ATTOM Data Solutions estimates that 4.1 million Americans pay more than $10,000 in property taxes so it will affect many Americans. Locally, average property tax rates are more reasonable (Maryland is 1.1% which is #22 nationally, Virginia is .78% which ranks #37 nationally and D.C. is .57% bringing up the rear at #46 nationally), so it should have less of an impact here than it does in some of the higher-taxed states.


THE CHANGE: Reasonable moving expenses for work-related relocations are no longer deductible – with the exception of those in the military.

THE IMPACT: While it is possible that fewer people will want to move due to this deduction, generally these types of moves come with increased salaries and opportunity, so we don’t anticipate big changes to the market because of this change.


NO CHANGE. Despite some back and forth, the deduction for up to $500,000 in capital gains (or $250,000 for single filers) from selling a primary home remains (so as long as it has been the primary residence for two of the last five years). This is a big win, as previous versions of the bill sought to make the tenure requirements five of the last eight years as the primary residence.


The good news is that many of the real estate changes in the new tax bill will have much less of an impact than previous versions of the bill suggested. On the plus side, it’s possible that the impact of the lowered deduction could be offset by lower income taxes for these high-end homebuyers, specifically business owners or those in “pass-through” businesses, which will see a big tax deduction on their income.

The bad news is we might see an impact in our “move up” market. We will carefully watch buyers’ reactions to the home mortgage deduction limit to $750,000, which could make “moving up” slightly more difficult in upper bracket price points. This change is likely to have the biggest impact in our market. Nationally, we may see a decrease in people buying vacation properties so resort areas will likely take a hit. We’ve read statistics that predict the changes could lower home values by 4%.

The bottom line? While there might be some slow down and a temporary dip in values while everyone comes to terms with the changes in the new tax bill, we don’t anticipate a significant long-term effect at this point. This is certainly a change from our perspective just a few short weeks ago when the bill was still in draft form.

We have been following this bill closely and know how impactful these changes are to your life. We’re here to help you through this complex process. If you are thinking of buying or selling and wondering what these changes might mean for you and your bottom line, please reach out. We are always happy to help.


Allison Goodhart DuShuttle is lead agent for The Goodhart Group, Alexandria’s and McEnearney Associates’ top-producing real estate team. In 2015, she was nationally recognized by Realtor Magazine, being named to its “30 Under 30” club. Allison can be reached at 703-362-3221 or [email protected]

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Real Estate

Finding your footing in fall housing market

Act quickly before winter arrives when selling



Fall can be a good time to sell, but act fast before winter sets in.

Though it may not feel quite like fall weather quite yet in some parts of the country, as students return to school, we know that it means fall is right around the corner. Without question, fall is usually a wonderful season – it is the perfect time to enjoy beautiful weather, and plenty of festivals and fun. The return to school also means, for many, a return to routine – to getting organized and beginning again to check things off the to-do list after the lazy days of summer are over. 

You may have heard that housing inventory and activity is often lower in the fall than in the popular spring and summer seasons – and this is true. On the other side of the coin, however, fall buyers are often more serious about buying. They may be eager to buy quickly to get children enrolled in school, because of a job relocation, or due to a change in their family situation. Often, fall buyers are eager to find a home they love quickly, and to take action once they find it.

The good news is that if you plan to list your home for sale in the fall, there are a few tips and things you can add to your to-do list that will help you market your home in the best way possible and maximize your chances of a quick and successful sale. These include:

Act quickly: Depending upon the area of the country that you live in, beautiful, crisp, colorful fall weather might quickly give way to less desirable winter weather. It’s often far easier to sell a home in the fall than it is to sell in December, January, or February when bad weather might make traveling difficult, and potential buyers less likely to want to leave their homes. Once you’ve decided you’re ready to sell, it’s best to make every effort to list your home quickly to take advantage of good weather and buyers on the market.

Photograph the property as soon as possible: In many parts of the country, fall is a truly beautiful season of the year. Fall typically also offers plenty of beautiful, natural light. Take advantage of those ideal conditions by taking pictures of your property early. Don’t wait until the leaves begin to fall and the skies turn gray. Get your pictures early and use them to attract potential buyers to the unique beauty, both indoors and out, that can be enjoyed in your home.

Feature some fall curb appeal: You may not have spring flowers in the fall, but there’s abundant natural beauty to enjoy nevertheless. If you have falling leaves, make sure to regularly rake and bag them. Mow the lawn, perhaps add some new mulch, or consider adding some fall flowers. These steps don’t take long or cost much money, but they can go a long way toward catching the eye of potential buyers. 

Leave the lights on: In fall, the sun begins to set early. As a result, it’s important to keep your home as bright and inviting as possible. Clean your windows, open the curtains or blinds, and encourage as much natural light to come in as possible. If you have very dark paint colors, consider having a few rooms repainted to lighter shades. This will maximize light, and make your home appear more open and airy. Finally, if the showing is later in the day, be sure to leave plenty of lights on within the home. This will not only increase your curb appeal as potential buyers approach the home by making it look warm and inviting – it will also help buyers feel more comfortable inside your home as they envision themselves in that space. 

While these tips are intended to be helpful, it’s important to remember that one of the best steps you can take to truly increase your chances of a successful home sale is to hire a real estate agent who knows and loves the community and can help you truly tailor the marketing and pricing of your home to potential buyers in your area. Finding and connecting with an agent that can help you do exactly that is essential. At, we’re here to help. 

At, we aren’t just passionate about real estate. We’re passionate about real estate with a purpose. Our mission is to connect LGBTQ home buyers and sellers all over the country with knowledgeable, talented, and experienced LGBTQ-friendly realtors who know their communities well and are dedicated to helping clients every step of the way. Wherever you are in the real estate process, and whatever your goals, we’re here for you, and we’re ready to help. If you’re ready to get started, connect with us today. 

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

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Real Estate

5 tips for novice house flippers

Hire an architect, budget for overruns, and more



Do your homework before entering the home flipping market.

If you still use Facebook, you know that there is a group for everything, from different breeds of dogs and cats to silly games that lead to data mining of your information for business or nefarious purposes, to groups that offer advice on certain medical issues, to everything real estate.

One of the Facebook groups in which I participate allows users to share do-it-yourself home improvement tips. It’s a bit like HGTV or the DIY network, with a dose of reality thrown in.

Simple topics might include improving curb appeal, selecting paint colors, installing flooring, replacing an electrical fixture, or changing a toilet. 

Sometimes contractors weigh in on more complicated work and even give an idea of how long a project might take and how much it might cost in a particular area of the country. 

It constantly surprises me how little people know about how their home works. I fault the seller’s market over the past years, where inspections are either short or non-existent, for much of that.

It used to be that an inspector would spend several hours with a buyer, going through the condition and operation of a home’s systems and fixtures, providing a written report, and even including a binder that outlined how to fix simple items or when to conduct general maintenance. 

The advent of the “walk and talk” inspection, conducted prior to making an offer, shortened that process. A buyer would have to take his own notes while the inspector was talking and pointing things out. Often, the buyer would go home with information in cryptic shorthand that made no sense a few weeks down the road.

Some people still fancy themselves as house flippers, intent on making a massive profit by making a few choice renovations and reselling a home. My Facebook group often brings out those who have the desire but lack the skills or funding. 

One person recently posted photographs of a house he was interested in renovating for profit. His first question was whether he could remove all the mold himself or whether he should hire a professional mold remediation company.

I looked at the photos and immediately thought of Tyvec suits, respirators, and those movies where CDC warns of a toxic environment that must be contained and the toxins eradicated — not my idea of a DIY project.

Another unrealistic aspect of this renovation was his cost estimate — $100,000 to cover mold remediation, a new roof, central air conditioning and heating and, of course, new electrical, plumbing, drywall, fixtures, cabinets, and appliances. Even with a price of $175,000 for the house and a potential value of $400,000 after renovations, the professional flippers told him he was living in La-La-Land.

Amateur flippers in the DMV have seen their options dry up in the past five years, as even distressed properties left in disrepair can sell for half a million dollars or more. Even the professionals are knocking on doors, sending postcards in desired neighborhoods, and calling or texting owners and real estate agents, looking for properties to fix and flip.

Still, if you are inclined to try rehabbing, even for your own home, here are my top five things to consider before diving in.

• Get to know what permits you will need and the process and timeline for obtaining them, or else you may face the dreaded orange Stop Work Order slapped on the home’s window.

• Find an architect and/or engineer to help with planning the layout. Remember, not every wall can come down to make an open concept floorplan without shoring it up in another approved manner.

• Learn about “hard money.” Unlike traditional home loans that are based on income, assets, and credit, these high-interest, short-term loans rely on the difference between what you pay for the house (“as is” value) and what the “as renovated” value is estimated to be upon resale.

• Consult with a real estate agent about popular features and finishes to help you sell the house quickly and get the highest price. Purchase those items locally to avoid supply chain delays.

• Budget for unexpected cost overruns of 10-15%. Even with an interest-only loan with no payments due until resale, you will still owe taxes and insurance and make periodic payments for materials and labor. Don’t forget to add commissions and closing fees on the purchase and sale.

Your first project may not result in the profit you anticipated, but it will give you a sense of whether it’s worth trying again or leaving renovations to the professionals.

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, or follow her on Facebook at TheRealst8ofAffairs

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Real Estate

Mortgage rates continue to drop while rent skyrockets

Start living for yourself and not your landlord



Remember you can always refinance a high interest rate down the road.

There are several sayings that I keep in my “Realtor tool kit,” aside from those catty, snarky comments, I hold two true and use them on a daily basis: “Date the rate – marry the home” and “You’re paying a 100% interest rate when you rent.”

It’s pretty simple. As we have seen rates fluctuate as much as some of our waistlines — mine included. Let’s look at the housing market in terms that we all know and understand: DATING! 

It’s important to realize that we are NOT marrying the interest rate we purchase our home with, instead we are merely dating — for however long or short it may be. Here in D.C. it’s often short; can I get an amen? But in all seriousness, we see rates come and go up and down. We were spoiled with the unsustainably low rates for the past several years below 4% and now that rates are, frankly, where they should be, we are claiming the victim role. Today is still a great time to buy. The rates we are seeing today are still historically low when you think about it. We are lucky to live in an area such as the D.C. metro where demand is always strong and a change in party means more than a recession in regards to the housing market. Rates have continued to drop in the past few weeks. 

Aside from the current rate that you are paying, it’s important to realize that you are marrying the house and just simply dating the rate. You can refinance your interest rate whenever you want. Trade that baby in for a new model with a lower rate. You are, however, married to the home that you decide to purchase. If you are currently in the market and see a home that you absolutely love — or in my case is like 80% okay because we all know that you are the arm candy here and hold up the relationship — or I mean the house has a dishwasher and central AC, then buy it. You can always refinance later to a lower rate.

Looking at the second saying in my bedazzled sparkling Realtor tool kit we have the saying “You’re paying a 100% interest rate when you rent,” which is for sure factual. You are paying someone else’s mortgage and as such that interest rate is 100%. Don’t get me wrong, when I first moved to D.C. from quaint Bethany Beach, Del., I rented as I was unsure of what neighborhood I wanted to call home. But once I got my bearings I stopped paying 100% interest and helping pad the landlord’s pockets and started living for myself, my future, and married the house. I would encourage everyone that is reading this and who is currently in a rental to speak to a mortgage broker – see what you can afford and if it makes sense for you to buy — I bet it will. In most cases, it is less expensive to buy than it is to rent in cities, including in D.C. Not only is it less expensive, but there are several grant and down payment assistance programs available to district residents to help with making homeownership a reality for you.

Start living for yourself, not your landlord, and always remember to date the rate and marry the home.

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

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