If you’re buying a home, chances are you’ll need a loan to make the purchase. Once you have a contract, your loan officer will order an appraisal of the property.
There are three types of loans generally seen in D.C.: Conventional, Federal Housing Administration (FHA), and Veteran’s Administration (VA). Outside the Beltway we also see United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) loans.
The job of a licensed or certified appraiser is to determine a home’s fair market value. This lets the lender and the buyer know whether the value and the loan amount are in keeping with the what you have agreed to pay for the property.
An appraiser will view the home, take pictures and make notes to later be transposed to the Uniform Residential Appraisal Report and provided to the lender, who will share it with you. In the case of FHA, VA, and USDA loans, the appraiser’s requirements also include a limited property inspection.
Armed with that information, the appraiser will research properties that have recently sold to determine which are closest to the makeup of the home you are buying. Typically, the appraiser will look at properties within a half mile radius that have sold within the last six months and select at least three homes to compare.
Some typical items compared are lot size, square footage, number of bedrooms and baths, exterior features such as patios, decks and fencing, parking availability and features like central air conditioning and fireplaces.
The sales price of each property is the starting point. From there, the appraiser will assign a dollar amount to each item, then add to or subtract from the sold price to arrive at an adjusted sales price for each of the comparable homes.
For example, if the home you are buying has a fireplace and a comparable home has none, the appraiser will add a predetermined value (perhaps $3,000) to adjust the actual sales price of the comparable home to reflect the value if both homes had fireplaces.
Similarly, if the comparable home has two fireplaces, the appraiser will subtract the $3,000 to adjust the home’s value in line with the one fireplace your home has.
Also included are the age of each home and its condition and quality. The condition standards range from C1 (new construction) to C6 (deferred maintenance that affects structure and stability). Most commonly seen in our area is category C3 (well-maintained with some upgrades).
The categories that denote quality are Q1 (individually designed for a specific person or purpose using the highest quality exterior and interior materials) to Q6 (basic quality using lowest cost building materials). Once again, Q3 is what we normally see (higher quality with upgraded interiors and finishes).
Most appraisals will reflect the sales price of your property. If yours comes in above, congratulations! You got a bargain. But what happens if it comes in low?
If you have an appraisal contingency, you have five options: 1) challenge the appraisal, 2) proceed with the sale, adding money to your down payment to make up the difference, 3) ask the seller to lower the price to meet the appraised amount, 4) negotiate with the seller to split the deficit in a mutually agreeable manner or 5) exit the contract and have your earnest money deposit returned.
To challenge an appraisal, review it with your agent and look for discrepancies. Are the comparable homes located in the same area? Are there better homes to compare? Are there errors in describing the houses? Have specific items been properly adjusted?
Your agent can provide any new information to your lender, who will forward it to the appraiser to review and make a final decision. If your challenge is not successful, your agent will help you negotiate with the seller to find the best solution.
So, what’s the worst-case scenario? My own experience, of course. I attempted to purchase my current home four years ago with an FHA loan. I was all excited until the appraisal came back—at $90,000 less than what I had agreed to pay! And because of FHA guidelines, that appraisal would be tied to the property for four months until I could get a new one.
My loan officer provided the solution—change my loan to conventional and order a new appraisal. When I received it, I realized that the first appraiser had made a $50,000 error and used houses that were of much lesser quality as comparable homes. I had been avenged!
Valerie M. Blake is a licensed Associate Broker in DC, MD & VA with RLAH Real Estate. Call or text her at (202) 246-8602, email her through DCHomeQuest.com, or follow her on Facebook at TheRealst8ofAffairs.
Leather and lace in your home decor
From couches to countertops, add some flair
When I was very young, I would visit my maternal grandmother and marvel at the hand-tatted and crocheted doilies that adorned the arms and backs of her sofa and chairs. They were also found on her dressers and side tables, and on the dining table as coasters and placemats, to prevent scratches on the furniture. Like snowflakes, the designs of the doilies were both intricate and individual.
I’m convinced that people had better posture in the early 20th century, because I never saw the remnants of men’s hair tonic, Macassar oil, or pomade on Nana’s doilies, even though they were there to keep the furniture from absorbing those hair products. Certainly, people weren’t the couch potatoes lounging on sofas then that we are today. Being able to Netflix and chill was a long way off.
I was impressed with the amount of work that had gone into such a little piece of fabric, so I later tried to learn to crochet. Sadly, all I was able to accomplish was string after string, never having been taught how to join those strings together to resemble a doily. At least with knitting, I was able to form squares large enough to be blankets for my Barbie.
In my mid-century childhood, doilies were put away and saved for grandchildren who, years later, would neither want them nor appreciate their historical value. The ‘50s saw polyvinyl chloride (PVC) go from a commercial substance used frequently in post-WWII construction to a residential fabric that we now refer to fondly as “pleather.” I can still remember the sound of my thighs peeling off the vinyl banquette at the diner when I would get up to leave a booth.
To be without a leather couch in the ‘60s was déclassé and, although styles have changed, such a couch remains a timeless piece. These days, if you are looking for a little more leather in your life and in your home, you can look beyond that couch and chair, where options range from the subdued to the highly decorative.
While vinyl is still the least expensive leather-look fabric, we now have “bonded” leather, made with scraps that are bonded together using polyurethane or latex. As you can tell from the prices of such furniture, the actual leather used in the process can vary from 10-90 percent.
Of course, top grain leather is the most expensive, and we have suede, die cut, embossed, patent, and a variety of other techniques used to change the look of a hide. In addition, there is now vegan leather.
For something unique for your kitchen or bar, check out the tooled leather countertop from Kosel Saddlery (koselsaddles.wixsite.com/marty) in Montana. They also make saddles and chaps.
Instead of the shiny granite counters that we all know, MSI Surfaces (msisurfaces.com) makes honed and leathered granite finishes for a more subtle appearance and has dealers throughout the DMV.
For a do-it-yourself application, Amazon sells the Aspect brand eight-pack of leather glass, peel and stick subway tiles for backsplashes in five neutral colors for less than $20 each.
EcoDomo (ecodomo.com) in Gaithersburg offers a variety of custom leather treatments, including countertops, door and cabinet panels, floor planks and tiles, and wall systems. Your color choices aren’t limited to black or brown either. They can manufacture pieces in blue, red, green, and even in custom colors to match other items in your décor.
Many online stores such as Wayfair and Overstock carry real and faux leather headboards, footstools, poufs and benches at affordable prices.
There’s always something in leather at Pottery Barn, even for the conservative budget: pieced leather pillows, tufted stools, basket collections, and even a leather-bound coffee table book for cigar aficionados.
If you’re looking for small accent pieces, try a leather coaster, placemat, napkin ring, or my personal favorite, a cutlery pouch for your tableware collection from Lucrin Geneva (lucrin.com). They also offer office accessories such as crocodile desk sets, wastebaskets and storage boxes.
And for the connoisseur of leather, vinyl, rubber, or even neoprene items of a more personal nature, head to the Capitol Hill Hyatt Regency this Friday through Sunday for Mid-Atlantic Leather weekend. With plenty of specialty items, high-impact fashion, toys and games for all ages and yes, even custom-made furniture among the vendor exhibitions, you’re sure to find something that will tickle your fancy.
Just remember that you (and your puppy) must both be vaccinated and masked to attend. We take COVID (and rabies) very seriously here in D.C.
Valerie M. Blake is a licensed Associate Broker in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia with RLAH Real Estate. Call or text her at 202-246-8602, email her via DCHomeQuest.com, or follow her on Facebook at TheRealst8ofAffairs.
What to know if you’re buying or selling in 2022
Research interest rates, contractors now before spring arrives
The years 2020 and 2021 were wild on the books for real estate. Many successfully sold a house, bought a house, or sold a smaller residence and bought a larger one due to the new “needs” that they realized they had.
After a year or more of staying home, working from home, dining out (at home), studying from home, many just realized they needed a different home than the one they were sitting in. Many experts are saying that 2022 might be the year we go back to our “normal cycles” in real estate. If that is the case, then what does that mean?
It means that right now, first time buyers can find deals on one- or two-bedroom condos that are sitting on the market, and the single family home market is going to be ramping up in the spring, when more buyers are out in the streets and more homes are getting ready to go on the market. So, if you are thinking of selling this year, you might already need to be calling painters, carpenters, and other contractors to do those little projects that make a home ready for photographs and to be shown in its best light. Now that the holidays are over, many of the contractors we hire start getting calls, and their schedules start to fill up. As a Compass agent, we have the “Concierge” program that helps sellers to finance, at zero interest, projects that spruce up their home, and then it gets paid back when the home sells. I know other brokerages have some similar programs, also.
If you are going to buy a home this year, you might want to seriously look at how long homes have been sitting in the market in the neighborhoods that interest you. If the “days on market” are more than 20, 30, 40 or even 50 days, this might be your time to strike. Call a local lender or two and see what interest rate you can get and how much you can get approved for a loan. Interest rates could be going up this year, so you might want to get this done in the first half of the year, if your current situation allows.
At any rate, if you are thinking of making a move this year, feel free to sign up for one of my homebuyer seminars, or give me (or your favorite Realtor) a call and find out what you need to do to get ready to make this move.
Joseph Hudson is a Realtor with the Rutstein Group of Compass. Reach him at [email protected] or 703-587-0597.
The highs and lows of the 2021 real estate market
A significant increase in large-scale investors
As 2021 winds down, and a new year waits just around the corner, it is helpful to look back on what lies behind us and to focus on our hope for what lies ahead. The year 2021 could perhaps be best summarized as a year of highs and lows – both generally, and in the real estate market, too. It was a year of Olympic glories, a year that saw the inauguration of the very first female vice president, and a year that saw the confirmation of the first openly gay United States Cabinet member. Unfortunately, it was also year two of a global pandemic – one that saw great medical advances with vaccines and treatment options, but also one that still brought plenty of pain and loss to families and communities around the world. Highs and lows, on a vast scale indeed.
The 2021 real estate market, in many sectors of the country, also saw its own sort of highs and lows – it brought high prices, high demand, and low inventory. Much of 2020 was a rollercoaster, in real estate and otherwise – one that many people expected to slow down and settle back to normal in 2021. In fact, 2021 turned out to be quite the opposite. A few factors that significantly impacted the 2021 real estate market included:
Work-From-Home: 2021 was a year in which work-from-home became not only the temporary “new normal,” but perhaps the new normal for the foreseeable future. Many businesses decided that remote work was an option that was both feasible and flexible, thanks to today’s technology. Some even found employees to be more productive without time spent commuting to and from an office each day, and without the distractions of at-work socializing. As a result, many employees who were once tethered to a particular city because their employer was located in that city found themselves free to move to areas they found preferable for any number of reasons.
Seeking Space in the Suburbs: As a result of the pandemic, either because they were no longer required to live in a certain city for work, because they lost income and needed a more affordable area in which to live, or simply because the pandemic meant that many aspects of busy urban life could no longer be enjoyed in quite the same way, 2021 saw buyers flock to the suburbs in huge numbers. Statistics indicate that in 2020 and 2021, suburban home prices grew more quickly than urban home prices for the first time since 2017. Demand went up, and inventory sold quickly.
Increased Real Estate Investment: 2021 also saw a significant increase in large-scale real estate investors, who saw an opportunity to capitalize on the shortage of homes available by offering cash for many available homes, and turning them into rental properties, or flipping them and selling them for an even higher profit. Statistics indicate that the share of investors in the market was far higher in 2021 than in the last several years preceding it.
More Moves to Tax-Friendly States: As part of the shift to work-from-home for many employees, real estate purchases in tax-friendly states increased significantly. No longer were employees required to live in big cities or close to any particular office, so states with no income tax, or lower property tax also became increasingly popular, affecting prices and demand in those markets.
These were only a few factors of many that impacted the 2021 real estate market, and the continued impact of those factors waits to be seen in 2022.
Ultimately, however, regardless of whether it is a buyer’s market or a seller’s market, whether you’re a first-time homebuyer, or you’re looking for a retirement home to enjoy your later years, real estate is about community. One important lesson we can all take from the last year or two is that in good times, and perhaps especially in difficult times, having the support and love of a community in which you feel you belong is essential. The real estate process is about buying and selling property, yes – but it’s also about so much more.
At GayRealEstate.com, we are passionate about connecting LGBTQ home buyers and sellers with talented, knowledgeable, and experienced real estate agents across the country who can help them to achieve their real estate goals. But even more than that, we are passionate about helping to build community. We are proud to do our part to help build neighborhoods, and strengthen networks of individuals who can celebrate and support one another across the country. We’re here for you, and we’re always ready to help. Contact us at any time. Wishing you a bright new year ahead.
Jeff Hammerberg is founding CEO of Hammerberg & Associates, Inc. Reach him at 303-378-5526 or [email protected].
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