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SPRING HOME & GARDEN 2020: Navigating D.C.’s housing market in COVID era

Coronavirus impacting cities in different ways

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real estate covid, gay news, Washington Blade
real estate covid, gay news, Washington Blade
(Photo by Carol Highsmith for the National Park Service)

The cherry blossom trees are beginning to bloom and the weather is warming up in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. Springtime is generally the time D.C.’s housing market hits a high. How will COVID-19, more commonly known as coronavirus, affect the market?

The two main concerns Americans have right now are health and the economy. Schools are closed and places of business have shut their doors and many may never reopen. But what does that really mean for the housing market? And although a recession would have catastrophic consequences for our economy, historically speaking the housing market isn’t closely aligned with the ebbs and flows of the stock market, not including the housing market crash of 2008, which was unlike our current predicament. The 2008 recession was led by real estate that lasted 18 months. Although we are likely in a recession right now, it is too early to see what kind of effect it will have on home prices.

D.C. market stronger than other cities

It is looking like the greater metropolitan D.C. area may get through this pandemic in better shape than many other areas of the country due to our unique local economy. Local Realtors are reporting requests for showings and listings. This is most likely due to the housing shortage D.C. is facing. D.C. has faced a shortage of housing for years. The people in this area are in need of housing and the coronavirus is not eliminating that demand. The lack of inventory is the reason D.C.-area homes are expensive and coming into spring 2020, many expected record sales prices throughout the region.

This housing shortage isn’t expected to go away anytime soon, even with our current pandemic. The nation’s capital and its contracted companies alone employ thousands of people, many essential with work-from-home capacity. Because of the federal government and internet-based companies in the D.C. area, when the stock market falls it doesn’t hit quite as hard in D.C. According to Clint Mann, Urban Pace’s president of sales and marketing, new home sales are trending to beat projections. Just last weekend, eNvy, a new condo development in the city’s Ballpark District, received more interested buyers than it has in all of 2020. This may be due to a younger population interested in purchasing a condominium and their belief they will not get sick from the virus. Regardless of our current situation, this is not a city where people are rushing to get out. In fact, it is quite the opposite. People are trying to get into the D.C. greater metropolitan area.

Should I enter the market?

We have known D.C. to be a seller’s market for quite some time. Will it continue to be? That is impossible to predict at this uncertain time, but there is a chance that it will continue. Much of this is dependent upon mortgage rates. Right now they are up, down, and then up again due to our uncertain situation. People are asking, “should I buy a house?” “Should I sell my house?” COVID-19 is terrifying, there is no question about that. However, anyone entering the housing market may find themselves with the benefit of low rates and less competition. If you have to have to sell a home, you will very likely find a willing buyer.

If you spend any time at all online or watching the news you will see news reports that will tell you America is on its way to another recession and other reports predicting everything will level off and we will survive this pandemic and economic crisis just fine.

You need to determine why you are selling or buying a home. Pay attention to national and local trends. We at Glass House have helped several buyers and sellers during this time and each situation is unique. We have our finger on the pulse of the local market and are well equipped to help you determine whether buying or selling is right for you.

Khalil Alexander El-Ghoul is principal broker with Glass House Real Estate. Reach him at [email protected] or 571-235-4821.

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Books

New book explores why we categorize sports according to gender

You can lead a homophobic horse to water but you can’t make it think

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‘Fair Play: How Sports Shape the Gender Debates’
By Katie Barnes
c.2023, St. Martin’s Press
$29/304 pages

The jump shot happened so quickly, so perfectly.

Your favorite player was in the air in a heartbeat, basketball in hand, wrist cocked. One flick and it was all swish, three points, just like that, and your team was ahead. So are you watching men’s basketball or women’s basketball? Or, as in the new book, “Fair Play” by Katie Barnes, should it really matter?

For sports fans, this may come as a surprise: we categorize sports according to gender.

Football, baseball, wresting: male sports. Gymnastics, volleyball: women’s sports. And yet, one weekend spent cruising around television shows you that those sports are enjoyed by both men and women – but we question the sexuality of athletes who dare (gasp!) to cross invisible lines for a sport they love.

How did sports “become a flash point for a broader conversation?”

Barnes takes readers back first to 1967, when Kathrine Switzer and Bobbi Gibb both ran in the Boston Marathon. It was the first time women had audaciously done so and while both finished the race, their efforts didn’t sit well with the men who made the rules.

“Thirty-seven words” changed the country in 1972 when Title IX was signed, which guaranteed there’d be no discrimination in extracurricular events, as long as “federal financial assistance” was taken. It guaranteed availability for sports participation for millions of girls in schools and colleges. It also “enshrine[d] protections for queer and transgender youth to access school sports.”

So why the debate about competition across gender lines?

First, says Barnes, we can’t change biology, or human bodies that contain both testosterone and estrogen, or that some athletes naturally have more of one or the other – all of which factor into the debate. We shouldn’t forget that women can and do compete with men in some sports, and they sometimes win. We shouldn’t ignore the presence of transgender men in sports.

What we should do, Barnes says, is to “write a new story. One that works better.”

Here are two facts: Nobody likes change. And everybody has an opinion.

Keep those two statements in mind when you read “Fair Play.” They’ll keep you calm in this debate, as will author Katie Barnes’ lack of flame fanning.

As a sports fan, an athlete, and someone who’s binary, Barnes makes things relatively even-keel in this book, which is a breath of fresh air in what’s generally ferociously contentious. There’s a good balance of science and social commentary here, and the many, many stories that Barnes shares are entertaining and informative, as well as illustrative. Readers will come away with a good understanding of where the debate lies.

But will this book make a difference?

Maybe. Much will depend on who reads and absorbs it. Barnes offers plenty to ponder but alas, you can lead a homophobic horse to water but you can’t make it think. Still, if you’ve got skin in this particular bunch of games, find “Fair Play” and jump on it.

The Blade may receive commissions from qualifying purchases made via this post.

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Theater

An exciting revival of ‘Evita’ at Shakespeare Theatre

Out actor Caesar Samayoa on portraying iconic role of President Perón

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Caesar Samayoa (center) and the cast of ‘Evita’ at Shakespeare Theatre Company. (Photo by DJ Corey Photography) 

‘Evita’
Through Oct. 15
Shakespeare Theatre Company
Harman Hall
610 F St., N.W.
$35–$134
Shakespearetheatre.org

When Eva Perón died of cancer at 33 in 1952, the people’s reaction was so intense that Argentina literally ran out of cut flowers. Mourners were forced to fly in stems from neighboring countries, explains out actor Caesar Samayoa. 

For Samayoa, playing President Perón to Shireen Pimental’s First Lady Eva in director Sammi Cannold’s exciting revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Evita” at Shakespeare Theatre Company is a dream fulfilled. 

As a Guatemalan-American kid, he had a foot in two worlds. Samayoa lived and went to school in suburban Emerson, N.J. But he spent evenings working at his parents’ botanica in Spanish Harlem. 

During the drives back and forth in the family station wagon, he remembers listening to “Evita” on his cassette player: “It’s the first cast album I remember really hearing and understanding. I longed to be in the show.”

As an undergrad, he transferred from Bucknell University where he studied Japanese international relations to a drama major at Ithica College. His first professional gig was in 1997 playing Juliet in Joe Calarco’s off-Broadway “Shakespeare’s R&J.” Lots of Broadway work followed including “Sister Act,” “The Pee-Wee Herman Show,” and most significantly, Samayoa says, “Come From Away,” a musical telling of the true story of airline passengers stranded in Gander, Newfoundland during 9/11. He played Kevin J. (one half of a gay couple) and Ali, a Muslim chef.  

He adds “Evita” has proved a powerful experience too: “We’re portraying a populist power couple that changed the trajectory of a country in a way most Americans can’t fully understand. And doing it in Washington surrounded by government and politics is extra exciting.” 

WASHINGTON BLADE: How do you tap into a real-life character like Perón?

CAESAR SAMAYOA: Fortunately, Sammi [Connald] and I work similarly. With real persons and situations, I immerse myself into history, almost to a ridiculous extent. 

First day in the rehearsal room, we were inundated with artifacts. Sammi has been to Argentina several times and interviewed heavily with people involved in Eva and Peron’s lives. Throughout the process we’d sit and talk about the real history that happened. We went down the rabbit hole.

Sammi’s interviews included time with Eva’s nurse who was at her bedside when she died. We watched videos of those interviews. They’ve been an integral part of our production. 

BLADE: Were you surprised by anything you learned?

SAMAYOA: Usually, Eva and Perón’s relationship is portrayed as purely transactional.  They wrote love letters and I had access to those. At their country home, they’d be in pajamas and walk on the beach; that part of their life was playful and informal. They were a political couple but they were deeply in love too. I latched on to that. 

BLADE: And anything about the man specifically? 

SAMAYOA:  Perón’s charisma was brought to the forefront. In shows I’ve done, some big names have attended. Obama. Clinton. Justin Trudeau came to “Come From Away.” Within seconds, the charisma makes you give into that person. I’ve tried to use that.  

BLADE: And the part? 

SAMAYOA: Perón is said to be underwritten. But I love his power and the songs he sings [“The Art of the Possible,” “She is a Diamond,” etc.]. I’m fully a baritone and to find that kind of role in a modern musical is nearly impossible. And in this rock opera, I can use it to the full extent and feel great about it.

BLADE: “Evita” is a co-production with A.R.T. Has it changed since premiering in Boston? 

SAMAYOA: Yes, it has. In fact, 48 hours before opening night in Washington, we made some changes and they’ve really landed. Without giving too much away, we gave it more gravity in reality of time as well as Eva’s sickness and the rapid deterioration. It’s given our second act a huge kind of engine that it didn’t have. 

BLADE: You’re married to talent agent Christopher Freer and you’re very open. Was it always that way for you?

SAMAYOA: When I started acting professionally, it was a very different industry. We were encouraged to stay in the closet or it will cast only in a certain part. There was truth in that. There still is some truth in that, but I refuse to go down that road. I can’t reach what I need to reach unless I’m my most honest self. I can’t do it any other way.

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Out & About

HRC’s National Dinner is back

LGBTQ rights organization’s annual gala features Rhimes, Waithe, Bomer

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Actor Matt Bomer will be honored at the HRC National Dinner.

The Human Rights Campaign will host its annual National Dinner on Saturday, Oct. 14 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

The dinner’s honorees include world-famous producers, actors and entertainers whose work spotlights the fight for civil rights and social justice, including Shonda Rhimes, Lena Waithe and Matt Bomer.

A new event, as part of the weekend, — the Equality Convention — will take place the night before the dinner on Friday, Oct. 13. The convention will showcase the power of the LGBTQ equality movement, feature influential political and cultural voices, and bring together volunteer and movement leaders from across the country to talk about the path ahead.
For more details about the weekend, visit HRC’s website.

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