At Home |  DC • VA • MD Real Estate

Aug. 12, 2016

DC Real Estate Market | August 2016

DC Real Estate & Homes for SaleThe real estate market in D.C. has been growing only slowly in 2016, and that pace is expected to continue. Thus far this year, the average home price in the District is just about 1.4% over 2015. While this is on par with the national average pace of growth, it’s nothing compared to the total growth witnessed in 2015, when the average sales price grew by 3.6 percent, or the two previous years of 5.6% in 2014 and 6.7% in 2013.

From an historical standpoint, the real estate market nationwide seems to tend to operate on an 18-year cycle, which incorporates the four phases of recovery, expansion, hyper supply and recession.

During the recovery phase, slow growth overflows from the previous cycle. The expansion phase is represented by rapid increase in average home prices and signs of market stabilization. The third phase, hyper supply, sees the market flooded as homeowners race to sell in order to take advantage of the higher-priced home sales. This leads to a downturn in home prices as homeowners price cut in competition with neighbors. The ending cycle of recession is the lowest point of the cycle and of the market, after which the cycle repeats. Almost without fail, this predictable cycle has repeated itself about every 18 years in the national market.

Since just about 2009, the market in D.C. has gone through both a recovery phase and a boom phase. While the rest of the nation went through the effects of the housing bubble, D.C. recovery was speedy and proved promising for D.C. homeowners. Consequently, the District has risen to become one of the strongest real estate markets in the entire U.S. on several fronts.

More recent data indicates that the cycle may be reaching its high in D.C., however. The average pace of home sales is slowing down. The dog days of sales over listing price will soon be over for good, and the market is expected to experience a downturn.

Factors regarding local real estate conditions heavily affect the cycle and add to its complexities. One of the biggest factors has to do with the inherently limited supply of housing within the D.C. area. Compared to the rest of the nation, D.C. lacks the supply of residential property on the market at any one time. This fact may have contributed to the fast recovery in D.C. post-2009. The District real estate market stayed a seller’s market simply because of the inherent lack of inventory.

Links to DC Real Estate

Northwest DC Homes for Sale

Northeast DC Homes for Sale

Southwest DC Homes for Sale

Southeast DC Homes for Sale

With this said, homeowners in D.C. who are looking to sell their property should price conservatively to avoid overpricing. Recent year’s house sale prices don’t necessarily predict what a homeowner will be able to get for similar residential property in 2016. This doesn’t mean a recession is on the horizon, but it does mean to exercise caution and pay attention to the natural trends in the local market. Buyers should beware that they likely won’t be able to get huge deals on homes in D.C.

To sum up, the cycle of the real estate market is still to be considered theoretical in nature. D.C. has always been a strong market, and there’s no reason to predict that will change. With continued slow growth during the remainder of 2016, the real estate market in the District will hold its own.

Posted in Market Reports
July 2, 2016

Best Choices for New Construction

DC Area New Construction HomesNew home sales in the United States jumped to 619,000 for April, 2016, a 16.6 percent increase. That’s much higher than expectations, and the increase is the biggest gain since 1992. If you’re considering the purchase of a new construction home, here’s the information you need to start your home search.

How to Make the Best Choices for Your New Construction Home

1. Pick the right neighborhood – There are lots of new communities being built in the Washington, DC, Maryland and Northern Virginia areas. Make sure you choose the community that will fit your lifestyle best.

2. Understand the details before you make a final decision. Most new communities will have a home owners’ association that will take over managing the community after the builder has finished construction. Associations can have vastly different fees and rules. Make sure you understand everything that will impact what you can do with your home, and the home owners’ association fees that you’ll pay.

3. Negotiate with the builder from a position of strength. Make sure you understand when a builder has room to negotiate. While you want to establish a good working relationship with your builder, don’t let that relationship deprive you of getting a good deal.

The best way to accomplish the three things listed above is to have your own representation when you’re buying a home in a new community. Here’s why:

1. There is no cost to you. The REALTOR® who assists you in your sale is compensated as part of the closing costs on the home. The builder has already factored that into their pricing, so if you don’t have your own representation, the builder will simply retain that fee.

2. You can work with one person to evaluate all your options. The builder’s representative that you meet at the model homes in a new community work for the builder. It’s not possible for that person to suggest a different community, even if they believe it’s a better fit for you. When you hire a REALTOR® to represent you, you’ll get unbiased information about all your alternatives.

3. You’ll improve your negotiating position. A REALTOR® who works with new home buyers should have an in-depth understanding of where a builder will have room to negotiate. That person can also advise you as to which options will have the best opportunity for appreciation when you decide to sell your home.

DC, VA & MD New Home Communities

There are a growing number of new home communities in the greater Washington, D.C. area.  The communities discussed below only give you a few examples of the types of lifestyles and homes you can choose from.

Washington, D.C New Home Communities

Banneker Ridge by Ryan Homes: The luxury brownstones in this community will give you an excellent view from the rooftop terrace.  These are four and five level homes that offer delightful downtown living with easy access to commuter routes. Home prices start in the low $700s.

The Willard plan offers the convenience of a townhome with the feel of a single family home.  Over 3000 square feet of living space gives you quite a lot of room to roam.  The kitchen is a chef’s dream with a huge island and upscale finishes. 

The kitchen is open to a large formal dining room perfect for entertaining family and friends.  At the opposite end of the kitchen, you’ll have access to a great room.  You can entertain while you cook, and enjoy an after-dinner retreat.

The lower level can be used as a recreation room, or if you have guests or members of your extended family living with you, it can be made into a living room/bedroom/bath for privacy.

Parkside by K Hovnanian Homes:  If you’re looking for a new townhome in a close-in location, Parkside is a community you’ll want to visit.  You’ll enjoy the community park and the Anacostia River Trail network.  You’ll also have easy access to stylish boutiques, the Arts District, the Minnesota Avenue Metro Station and I-295.

All the townhomes in this community have three bedrooms and two and one-half baths in three stories, and a one- or two-car garage.  Homes start in the upper $300s. Features include large family rooms, spacious kitchens with designer cabinets, GE appliances and rich granite countertops.  You’ll find 9’ ceilings that provide a roomy atmosphere, and lovely hardwood floors. The homes utilize 90 percent efficiency gas heat with programmable thermostats.

Leesburg, Virginia, New Home Communities

Shenstone Reserve by Toll Brothers:  This community consists of luxury estate homes nestled on three or more acres of land.  Located just a few minutes from downtown Leesburg, living at Shenstone Reserve provides easy access to shopping, dining and entertainment.  However, you’ll feel like you’re in the country since the homes are surrounded by mature trees, rolling hills and babbling brooks.

Toll Brothers is offering six different two-story home designs, ranging in size from 3420 to 4780 square feet.  Home prices start in the mid-$800s.  You can personalize your home’s design to meet your needs, including adding a multi-generational suite that provides privacy for members of your extended family and much more.

Crescent Place by Ryan Homes:  If you enjoy the convenience of living in a walkable neighborhood, you’ll love living in downtown Leesburg.  Crescent Place is a small enclave of luxury townhomes and two-level luxury condos, with prices starting in the mid-$300s. 

You’ll be able to walk to all of the shopping, dining and entertainment that Leesburg is known for.  You’ll also have easy access to major highways that can take you to work or play in Reston, Arlington and Washington D.C. 

Four models are available, ranging in size from 1606 to 2440 square feet and up.  You can customize the layout of your home to suit your needs.  Some plans even offer a large finished attic space with a bath to be used as a retreat for a teenager, a man cave or an activity room for the whole family.

Maryland New Home Communities

If you prefer to live in the counties of Montgomery, Howard or Prince George’s in Maryland, you’ll have many new home communities to choose from.

Clarksburg Village by Ryan Homes:  Ryan Homes has created a lifestyle with its homes in Clarksburg Village.  It’s a 775 acre master planned community in Montgomery County that offers 55 miles of trails for bicycles and pedestrians, a clubhouse with two swimming pools, several parks, dining and more.  It’s a self-contained retreat that provides lots of opportunity to spend quality time with your family and friends.

Three types of homes are being built in this community, townhomes, classic neo-traditional homes and neo-traditional homes.  Home prices start in the upper $450s to the low $570s.

The Strauss townhomes in the community offer convenience while providing lots of space (just over 2000 square feet) and customization options.  The open floorplan on the main level reinforces the feeling of spaciousness and the country kitchen has an optional island for additional prep space.  Upstairs you’ll find three bedrooms, including a master suite.  The lower level provides lots of storage space with the option of including a rec room, a fourth bedroom or study.

Oak Creek by Toll Brothers:  Prince George’s County is home to this luxury gated community.  Oak Creek is an easy commute, being Just 20 minutes from downtown D.C.  When you come home, however, you’ll be treated to resort-style amenities that will make you think you’re far from the city. Six home designs range from approximately 3000 to over 4000 square feet.  Home prices start at $625.

As you can see, the Washington D.C. metro area has lots to offer.  A professional and experienced REALTOR® can help you make the best choices and avoid situations that can be both frustrating and costly.

When you’re ready to make a move, call/text me at 301 660-6272 x 700 or send an email to get the professional guidance that will make your next real estate transaction a rousing success.

Posted in New Construction
July 1, 2016

Financing for First-Time Home Buyers

Home Buying Assistance Raising money for a down payment, particularly in Washington D.C. and the surrounding area, is expensive.  This is especially true in metropolitan areas where home prices tend to be more expensive.  Finding money for a down payment is the single biggest obstacle for first time home buyers when looking to purchase a home.

Not to fear.  There are nationwide and local financing programs available for first-time buyers that make purchasing a home more affordable, including those which require little or no down payment.


FHA Loans

These loans are offered by the Federal Housing Association.  The credit requirements for those seeking FHA loans are not as stringent as those for conventional loans.  Also, the prospective homeowner can expect to pay as little as 3.5% of the contract price of the home as a down payment.

VA Loans

For eligible active duty personnel, veterans, and eligible spouses, VA loans are a viable alternative.  These VA-insured loans require no down payment.  Loans are not subject to mortgage insurance paid with other loan products where the down payment is less than 20%.

RHS Loans

For those who live in a government approved rural area the Rural Housing Service backs a mortgage that offers no down payment.

In addition to these nationwide programs, there are other mortgage options for those local to Washington D.C. and the surrounding area.


Virginia Loan Programs

FHA Plus Loan

For borrowers who need additional down payment assistance, the FHA Plus Loan is another option.  Depending on creditworthiness, the borrower can qualify for a second mortgage of between 3 and 3.5% of the contract price to cover the down payment and closing costs.  It is important to note that the combined mortgages may not exceed the FHA purchase price limitations.

VHDA Down Payment Grant

For Northern Virginia residents meeting credit worthiness and maximum income standards, VHDA offers down payment grants equivalent to 3 to 3.5% of the home’s purchase price. 

VHDA Mortgage Tax Certificate

Homeowners who qualify for VHDA’s loan programs and who meet the income and eligibility requirements of the FHA Plus program will receive a gift from Uncle Sam at tax time.  The VHDA offers a mortgage credit certificate which allows for a 20% tax credit for the mortgage interest paid on their loan for the duration of the loan.

Maryland Loan Programs

Mortgage Credit Certificate

This program is similar to its Virginia counterpart but is limited to a total credit of $2,000.

Maryland Mortgage Program

This program offers a 30-year fixed rate loan at 0 percent interest.  This loan allows perspective buyers to cover up to 5 percent of the purchase price for down payment and closing costs.  The loan does not require repayment until the end of the 30-year term unless the home is sold or refinanced.

The mortgage covering the remaining purchase price of the home is subject to both income restrictions as well as limitations on the purchase price of the home. 


Mortgage Credit Certificate

Similar to the Virginia and Maryland programs, D.C. homeowners may take a credit of 20% of the mortgage paid on their loan for the duration of the loan.

Home Purchase Assistance Program

First time home buyers who are DC residents may be eligible for assistance of between $10,000 and $50,000 of the purchase price of their homes, subject to income limitations and credit worthiness.  An additional $4,000 in closing cost assistance is also available. 

The payments on the 40-year loan are deferred for five years to reduce the burden the loan may have on the home buyer.

DC Open Doors  

For those looking for a home in Washington D.C., regardless of current residency, the DC Open Doors Program offers down payment assistance to applicants who meet the minimum credit requirements and do not exceed income limitations outlined by the program.

The DCHFA (DC Housing Finance Agency) will pay the down payment of 3 to 3.5% of the home purchase price.  The 0% loan is forgiven over a five-year period at a rate of 20% annually.  The loan becomes repayable in instances where the home is refinanced or sold during the five-year term.

First time home buyers have numerous options when it comes to financing a new home. To see if you qualify for home buying assistance and to check out more D.C. area downpayment and home buying assistance options visit our Buyers Assistance page. Keller Williams can assist you in find the appropriate program for your circumstance. Feel free to contact the Tania Ivey Home Selling Team for more information. (703) 661-9410. 

Posted in Mortgage
June 2, 2016

55+ Living in Virginia

Benefits of Independent Living

Virginia 55+ LivingThe kids are grown and starting families of their own and the family home seems much too large now. After years of working and caring for your home and family, you are still an active adult. You don't want to have to spend all your time caring for a large home when you could be enjoying your time now. It has been proven that staying active goes a long way to keeping you healthy.


As you start to consider downsizing your possessions, it is time to think about where you would like to go next. Hopefully, it will be someplace where you can socialize with others at your stage of life who have many of the same interests and enjoy the same activities. Maybe it is time to look into one of those innovative senior living communities you've heard people talking about.

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Posted in 55+ Communities, Buy
June 1, 2016

Owners Renting Condos at The Fitz May Not be Getting the Value They Seek

The Fitz | 501 Hungerford Drive | Rockville MD 20850

The Fitz | Rockville MDMany condo owners at The Fitz in Rockville, MD are choosing to rent out their luxury condo units rather than selling them, hoping that the prices will go up. However, in the short term, renting may not be providing those owners with the value they need, and doing so may not be smart from a tax or financial standpoint. 


Renting is not a new concept for this building or the community; prior to being condo units, The Fitz was a luxury apartment rental community with monthly rents ranging from $1,309 for a 682 square foot one-bedroom unit to more than $2,100 for a 1,309 square foot two-bedroom plus loft unit. 

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Posted in Market Reports
May 27, 2016

Real Housewives of Potomac Recap Episode 9 2016

Real Housewives of Potomac Episode 9 2016 RecapLet’s run through all the piddly, stupid stuff before Charrisse Jordan’s party of the century.

Ashley Darby wants to take care of her mother. Her mother has never wanted to be a burden. She’s been hit hard financially, and tearfully accepts Ashley’s offer to buy her a home. Katie Rost should stay lip locked with Andrew, and keep herself out of hot water. Instead, she bitched about Karen’s podunk cocktail party/O’Gala. Then she turned her tongue on Gizelle being a “genuinely good person with a spiritual heart, but dresses like a prostitute and can be a little bitchy.” This was (hands down) tonight’s LOL moment.

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Posted in RHOP
May 27, 2016

Real Housewives of Potomac Episode 8 2016 Recap

Real Housewives of Potomac Episode 8 Recap

Most of tonight’s episode focused on two things: Gizelle’s desire to create a new makeup line for women of color, and Karen’s gala for Alzheimer’s Awareness. Since so much time was spent checking their looks in the mirror, let’s call this episode “MIRROR MIRROR ON THE WALL.” It’ll be fun, so just roll with it. “Mirror, Mirror on the wall…who’s the grudge-holdingest one of all?” (Swirly, Swirly, Smoky Swirly—-that’s the mirror searching for answers…) “I see many who cannot let go…but for TWO I see it is TRULY so…And their names are Karen Huger and Katie Rost!”

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Posted in RHOP
May 27, 2016

Real Housewives of Potomac Recap Episode 7 2016

Real Housewives of Potomac Episode 7 Recap

Their Potomac circle is broken, but individually the housewives have much to celebrate.  Let’s start with Karen. Her daughter is heading off to college. And since Karen knows that boys get reckless after midnight, she tells Rayvin to avoid kissing during her freshman year. Rayvin seals the deal with a handshake. Then, Queen Karen locked Rayvin in the tallest Potomac tower, so she could grow a long braid and her prince could climb up for her “first kiss” senior year. Ah, fairy tales are wonderful.

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Posted in RHOP
May 27, 2016


Real Housewives of Potomac

Show of hands: Who’d complain about a free vacation to a beautiful Bethany Beach house with friends? You WOULD? Well congratulations, because Gizelle and Charrisse would too! More on that later.

There’s been some trouble brewing the last few episodes between Katie and Gizelle. Even though Gizelle agreed to help Katie with her Casino Royale fundraiser, she and Robyn felt that with less than three weeks notice there wouldn’t be enough time to make it successful. And why put their efforts (and their names) on a losing project? Katie got annoyed and fired her volunteers, noting that ALL of her projects were successful. How about Andrew’s marriage proposal? How’s that project coming along?

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Posted in RHOP
May 17, 2016

Real Housewives of Potomac Episode 5 2016 Recap

Real Housewives of Potomac
We could start with Ashley this week, but let’s not. We’ll save the worst for last. So, here we go:    

Gizelle went on a second date with Herman. Sadly, the coolest thing about Herman was his  name. He was sporting mint green pants. And though he had never eaten raw oysters, he still   ordered them. He was hoping his second date connection with Gizelle was for “forever”, and he  even told her so. And <<<cringe>>> he moved in for a kiss only to have Gizelle recoil, as  though he was Quasimodo. Luckily for Herman, Gizelle would need a safe nerdy date to take to  Karen’s yacht party later in the episode, and he met the requirements for that. Clearly, Herman  was never going to be HER­MAN.    

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Posted in RHOP