Best Way To Evaluate a Property

When you are making one of the biggest purchases of your life, you need to know how to properly evaluate the home. 


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When buying a home, it's important to know the steps in determining the value of a property.  There are several "big ticket" items that should be evaluated to help you decide your offer. These include the condition of the roof, the age of the HVAC, water heater, well & septic systems, chimney and overall maintenance of a property. 


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The website, Building Intelligence Center is a handy website. Take a picture of the serial number on the HVAC and quickly look up the age of the system. This site also has a lookup for the age of water heaters and for recalled units. This is the way to go if the home is being sold "as-is" and/or the sellers are not providing information regarding the major systems in the home.

  • Lot and location-This is the very first step in evaluating a property. Is the house on a busy, double yellow lined street? Is the lot desirable? Since you cannot change the lot and location of a property, this needs to be the very first thing you consider when buying a home. The double yellow lined street means the road carries a lot of traffic. If you are at all sensitive to noise and traffic volume, a house on a busy road may not be a good choice for you! 

  • Messy neighbors-This is step two in evaluating a property. Sure, neighbors may move but if you're buying a house, make sure the next door neighbors and people living across the street maintain their properties up to your standards. If they don't, and sadly, I know this firsthand, it really impacts your life. If you buy into a neighborhood with an HOA, then your neighbors have to agree to a level of upkeep with their yard and homes. If you are not buying into an HOA, you are on your own and this could mean living next door to a yard full of gazing balls and quirky lawn ornaments (sigh....welcome to my world)

  • Roof & exterior of the home- You and your buyer agent are not home inspectors but you should be able to determine if a roof is really old. Look for missing shingles, waves in the roof and/or curling shingles. Is there moss growing on the roof? Are the gutters clear or packed with sticks & leaves? Again, you are not expected to do the work of a home inspector but before you make an offer on a house, have a general idea of the age of the roof. When evaluating the exterior of a house, look for cracks, bulges in bricks and any signs of moisture. Where there is a crack, there is an opportunity for water to get in so you'll want to make sure that cracks are sealed and the foundation is straight. Also, check for low areas in the yard where water may pool. As a general rule, dirt should be higher next to the house and sloped in such a way as to direct water away from the foundation. 

  • HVAC, water heater & appliances - How old are all the systems in the house? If the seller isn't providing this information in the disclosures, take pictures of serial numbers and look them up. If there are new appliances and systems, be sure to get the paperwork from the seller so you can take advantage of the warranty. 

  • Porches & Decks- I'm fortunate to have learned so much from excellent home inspectorsin the Washington DC area! I've taken videos of some of our home inspections and learned it's important to ask lots of questions! One inspector says deck posts should be built on cement foundations, not in the dirt. They should be securely fastened to the house to avoid deck failure. A qualified licensed home inspector will provide the best evaluation of the condition of a deck. Porches should be properly sealed. 

  • Chimney evaluation - Take a good look at the condition of the chimney cap and screen. If you can see cracks, these will need to be filled by a licensed contractor. You may also consider having a chimney evaluated by a chimney sweep company. Most of the companies will recommend lining the chimney and should provide a video of the inside of the chimney. 

  • Choose to find your home with a true buyers agent - You need an advocate on your sideas you navigate the home buying process. Consider all your options so you can move confidently ahead as you find your home!



Make a Resolution to be a Better Person

Being a better person is #5 on the list of New Year's resolutions for 2019.

That’s according to a new Marist poll which also finds that most Americans are optimistic about the future.

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The resolution, to "be a better person" seems easy but can be a challenge if you don't have a plan. According to Psychology Today, 40% of Americans will make a New Year's resolution. Many of us will slip in the first month but it's the planning and your attitude that determine success. 

I've had the most success with New Year's resolutions when I keep them simple. In fact, setting realistic resolution goals is a sure way to guarantee success.

I write down my resolutions and review them throughout the month of January. Through the years I've had some success keeping my resolutions.

In fact, several New Year's resolutions are now habits. They are so simple and after years of practice, they've created positive change in my life. 

Take a look and see if any of these resolutions resonate with you. I wish you a happy and successful New Year! 

  • Say Thank You - My husband is a great cook. He makes homemade pizza, all our holiday pies, Indian curries and great tacos! I am so grateful and amazed by his talent that I say thank you! As it turns out, this just encourages him to make more good food! So saying thank you, in this case, has served me well. Consider saying thank you to the grocery store checker, the waiter/waitress, the person collecting money for the Salvation Army. Every chance you have to say Thank you creates a habit of gratitude. 

  • Create a Daily Positive Mantra - Louise Hay was a motivational author who created the Hay House publishing company. I listened to her podcasts for years and practice the following mantra she created; I am open and accepting to the abundance and good the universe has to offer and I thank you life. 

  • Respond instead of React - Responding to a person or an event keeps me in control. Reacting to a person or event gives my power away. There are times when you have to react, like a flight/fight situation. But most of the time, it's a good idea to take a breath and give a measured response to a situation. 

  • Practice Yoga & Meditation -   Yoga and meditation go hand in hand. Even if you're someone who says, "I'm not flexible" or "I can't keep my mind quiet for meditation" just give it a try. When I first tried yoga, I couldn't do one chaturanga ( a yoga move where you slowly lower your body from a plank position to the ground) My first meditation lasted 3 minutes! If you want to try a free guided meditation, Oprah & Deepak Chopra offer online guided meditations several times a year. This is a great kick-start to a meditation practice. There are also plenty of free meditation apps. Find what works for you! 

    Looking for a home in the new year? We are here to help! Exclusive Buyer Agents advocate for home buyers in every real estate transaction. Learn more about us-NAEBA.org

#1 Way Real Estate Agents Get Sued

Real Estate Agents are required to take continuing education classes to keep their licenses active. 

At the Greater Capital Area Association of Realtors otherwise known as GCAAR, we have an ethics instructor who is a lawyer. He's acted as general legal counsel for the Maryland Association of Realtors since 1984. 

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 Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

 

The stories he shares come from real life experiences and they are scary! 

  • The #1 way real estate agents get into trouble is failing to disclose material facts. If the seller chooses to disclaim instead of disclose, they still need to disclose a latent defect.  (that's a fault with the property that couldn't be discovered by a thorough inspection prior to the sale.) 

  • Listing agents and buyer agents need to be careful how they describe a property. Is the house really in excellent condition? Is the roof/HVAC new? Has the kitchen been updated? These vague descriptions have been the subject of lawsuits filed against real estate agents. Provide dates instead of saying something is "new or updated". And don't say "excellent condition" in a description unless it's 100% true. Here's an example: A house listed as "in excellent condition" was purchased by a buyer. The buyer had a home inspection and several items, one major, were discovered by the inspector. The buyer said, "How can this home be excellent with all these repair items?" So the buyer asked the listing agent to reimburse him for the cost of the home inspection. The listing agent said no. Many months and thousands of dollars later, the buyer won a lawsuit! All because the listing agent wrote "excellent condition" as a description of the property. 

  • Your real estate agent will never say which neighborhood is right for you. Certain details of a neighborhood could violate the Fair Housing Act which was enacted in 1968 to eliminate housing discrimination. A real estate agent can and will provide a home buyer with tools and resources so they can make an informed decision regarding neighborhoods. 

  • Real estate agents should be careful to present a true (honest) picture when advertising. Apparently, this is another common issue when agents get into trouble. All advertisements should disclose the Broker's name and/or company name with the office telephone number. In other words, it should take no longer than 15 seconds for someone to know an agents Brokerage. This includes all correspondence, anything that's mailed, business cards and newsletters. 

 

Continuing education classes give us the opportunity to check ourselves. Are we acting ethically every day with every client? Are we staying in the scope of our expertise? Are we acting solely in the best interest of our client/principal? 

New Smoke Detector Law in Maryland takes effect January 1st 2018

Maryland Residents are required to replace the 9-volt battery operated smoke detectors that are 10 years old with new smoke detectors. 

Video is from MDFRS Media

Maryland's Smoke Alarm Law applies to both hardwired and battery operated smoke alarms. The date will be on the back of the smoke detector. If you don't see a date then the smoke detector is probably over ten years old. 

The new law emphasizes the use of sealed smoke alarms with long-life batteries and silence buttons. Below is an outline of requirements.

  • In existing homes, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) requires a smoke alarm outside of bedrooms and one on each level of the home. However, it also recommends that existing homes be equipped with at least the same number of smoke alarms required in new homes which includes smoke alarms present inside all sleeping rooms.
  • For new construction, Maryland’s Smoke Alarm Law has been updated to match with the International Residential Code and National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code. An AC powered, battery back-up smoke alarm is required in every bedroom, in the common area outside of the bedrooms and on every other level of the dwelling unit, with all of the required smoke alarms being interconnected. The requirements for smoke alarms vary depending on when the residence was constructed. 

This new law is meant to protect people from house fires. Since the battery operated smoke detectors are easy to dismantle, many homeowners would take batteries out if they were triggered by cooking. The homeowners would then forget or neglect to replace the batteries. This has resulted in house fires where firefighters find no batteries in the smoke detectors. The new smoke detectors have a hush feature that allows you to temporarily turn off the smoke detector while cooking. 

For more information about Maryland's Smoke Alarm Law, read this article from the Baltimore Sun

It's Important to be Kind but you don't have to be Nice

Our daughter just completed her first year of college. 

 

She is double majoring in Political Science and International Relations so we've spent hours talking about world events and Washington DC politics. But a recent conversation, sparked by a psychology class, fascinated me; the difference between being nice and being kind.

According to Merriam-Webster's online definitions- Kindness is the quality of state of being gentle and considerate. Nice means being pleasant and agreeable. 

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Kindness is a noble trait like honesty, courage, patience and compassion, kindness is a quality admired in others. Practicing kindness can be challenging like when...

 

  • a coworker aggressively expresses his/her political opinions
  • your daughter or son yells that you never listen and you don't understand
  • your dog chews your expensive leather shoes
  • your friend drinks too much at a party, makes a fool of himself and you have to get him home

Practicing kindness, especially when it's a challenge, strengthens the habit. A kind person is loving and giving and acting out of the goodness of their heart. 

Being nice is good at times but if you're too nice, it could be a sign of insecurity or needing approval from others. 

Have you ever been around someone who was nice but you just felt like you couldn't quite trust them?

Whereas when someone is kind it feels genuine and honest.

Trust your gut and remember the golden rule!

Buying a Home in the Washington D.C. Area

The Greater Washington DC area includes Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia

View of National Harbor in Maryland from the Virginia shoreline

View of National Harbor in Maryland from the Virginia shoreline

 

We work with many families who are moving to the area for the first time. If this is you-here is what you need to know before buying a row house, town house, condo, co-op or single family home. 

  • Washington DC is Expensive-you need to make $108,092 a year to live comfortably in DC. That's according to a recent report in theWashington PostA report from Cheat Sheet shows DC ranks third in the nation with households earning $150,000 or more a year. San Francisco and San Diego ranked first and second in the report. 
  • Washington DC is Green-newcomers are surprised at how much green space is in the Greater Washington DC area. Rock Creek Park, is a large green space in the NW section of the District. It was created by an act of Congress in 1890 so there are old trees and undeveloped forest areas. The creek winds from upper Montgomery county to the Potomac River with walking paths and trails alongside the water. Dumbarton Oaks is one of the greatest historic home and gardens in the city. Many locals are pleased to discover this beautiful estate with gardens and walkways in the upper part of Georgetown. My favorite green space in Washington DC is a....

Franciscan Monastery in N.E. Washington DC

Construction of the monastery began in 1856. The monks visited the Holy Land and took measurements of the sites they would reproduce on the grounds. Today, there are beautiful gardens surrounding this historical landmark. If you love green space and awesome architecture-you have to visit this monastery!

  • Washington DC is Cool-despite the stuffy members of Congress and all the blah blah of politics, Forbes magazine ranked DC at the top of America's Coolest Cities in 2014

I know, I was a little surprised too but I'll take it! After all, the city has excellent dining, entertainment and shopping. For the outdoorsy types, there is kayaking and boating on the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay and hiking and camping nearby in Shenandoah National Park, Skyline Drive and Cunningham Falls! 

In short, we've got it going on! 

Relocating to Washington DC or moving across town? We can help. We are exclusive buyer agents with Buyer's Edge, serving Home Buyers in Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC.

Feng Shui

Feng Shui your Home

for happiness, health & prosperity

 

Last Thursday evening, Buyer's Edge hosted a feng shui party. Our guest, Jayme Barrett, author of the book, feng shui your life came from Santa Monica California to offer advice on how to improve our home environment.  

Most people have heard of feng shui, pronounced fung shway, but may not know what it is or how it can improve your life. So first, a definition:

feng shui:  translates as wind & water in English. It is a Chinese philosophical order that harmonizes people with their surrounding environment. Feng shui is linked to Taoism and dates back 3500 years before the invention of the magnetic compass. Feng shui relied on astronomy to find a correlation between humans and the universe. Feng shui involves Qi, pronounced chee, the positive and negative life forces and the orientation of structures & objects.

Jayme Barrett is a popular speaker in Los Angeles and around the world. She spoke about feng shui on the Today Show with Campbell Brown and is a contributor to HGTV.  We were pleased and honored to have her come to our Bethesda Maryland office

Feng Shui Basics from Jayme Barrett

  • Declutter your space - This is where you start. In order to add feng shui elements to your home or office, you need an organized space. Start small, like with the surface areas in your kitchen. Are there piles of papers and various items on your counters? Find a "home" for everything.

For example, I have a large hook that is attached to one of my kitchen cabinets. This hook is for everyone's keys. When guests come to visit overnight or longer, their keys go on the hook too. This is a simple way to avoid the frantic search for car keys when you are leaving the house.

  • Bring nature indoors - Feng shui is about balancing the energy in your space. By bringing plants indoors, you energize your living space. Plants uplift and harmonize the energy in a living space. When you need more energy in your workplace or home, add a plant. Look for plants like peace lilies, ficus trees, bamboo, and philodendrons to energize your space. 
  • Add wind chimes and/or music - Sound vibration is very powerful. Wind chimes offer a calming sound effect and soft music can do the same. 
  • Add a water feature - Feng shui literally translate to wind-water. Consider adding a pond or small water feature in your home. Water fountains invite nature indoors and create a sense of well-being and ease. Adding an aquarium to your home is suggested to increase your wealth and good luck. This explains why you see aquariums in many Chinese restaurants. 
  • Crystals - Crystals refract light and move energy. Crystals will stimulate stagnant corners, where negative energy can collect. Crystals also soften sharp edges in a room defusing any negative energy that may linger in a home or work space.
  •  Scented candles - Adding scented candles boost energy in a room and provide relaxation. Be sure to choose soy candles since these will provide clean non-toxic scents into a room. 

Bring light into every room - This is obvious but light, particularly sunlight, will increase positive energy and lifts the overall energy of a room. Light inspires ideas and improves your mood.  When buying light bulbs, be sure to purchase the full spectrum type of bulb. Full spectrum bulbs simulate sunlight. 

The feng shui points I've highlighted are easy first steps in feng shui. Consider reading more about feng shui and how it can improve the quality of your life. You can purchase Jayme Barrett's book here or learn more about feng shui from other authors

Is That Flipped House a Flop House?

The Market is Hot and Investors are Flipping Houses

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Flipped houses can be great IF the flippers hired licensed contractors to do the structural, electrical, plumbing and the major changes in a home. If you're checking out a flipped property, ask to see the permits for work completed. If the workers didn't pull the proper permits, consider turning around and walking away. 

Steve Carpenter-Israel, Broker & Owner of Buyer's Edge was quoted in a  CNBC interview about a flipped house that was a flop. Steve said, " It's literally putting lipstick on a pig. "They're just doing cosmetic stuff and actually covering up problems, and that's scary because it's very difficult to figure it out."

Steve Carpenter-Israel, Marshall Henderson & Stephen Mercer are members of the National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents (naeba.org)

Last month, NAEBA warned about the dangers of buying a flipped house.

At a recent home inspection of a flipped property in Baltimore, our inspector turned on all the water to check the pressure. I followed him into the living room as he continued with his inspection. As he turned an infrared camera to the ceiling, he yelled,  "Oh (expletive)" and I looked up to see water stains forming along the crown molding of the living room ceiling!

Buyer Beware!

  • If you are buying a flipped property, ask if the flipper used licensed contractors to do the major work
  • Work with an experienced real estate agent. Your buyer's agent will be looking for what is wrong with a house as much as what is right with a house. 
  • Hire an excellent home inspector. An inspector will evaluate electrical, plumbing and the structural elements of a home. If there are major issues, a good inspector will find them.
  • If you have a chance to talk to the neighbors, do so! One day I was checking out the backyard of a home for sale. I chatted with a neighbor who told me how the previous owner (the owner who sold the house to a flipper) struggled for years with a wet basement. Once inside the home, I saw the flippers had installed not one but two sumps pumps. They had also installed an interior french drain .  My client moved ahead with the home inspection and the inspector determined the work was done well and the basement would stay dry. 

For more information on Flipped houses, townhouses & condos

CNBC-Why your flipped house may be a flop

5 Mistakes that make house flipping a flop

 4 Keys to Buying a Flipped House

 

Beautiful Home and Bad Neighbor

It's the single biggest disappointment-to find a house...

next to a very messy neighbor

My Buyer and I stood in the backyard of a large brick colonial style house near a Metro station. He checked off three major items from his "What My House Must Have" list. 

1. large beautiful backyard backing to trees and then a soccer field

2. brick colonial home classic style, built in the 40's with crown molding, arched doorways and hardwood oak floors

3. walking distance to Metro-everyone in the DC area knows the value of an easy commute. Buying a home near a Metro station is a great find!

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So there we were, loving the yard, house, and commute and staring at piles of blue plastic containers that looked like small beer kegs.

There were dozens of them strewn around the neighbors back yard. In one corner of the neighbor's yard, the blue containers were stacked to create a makeshift table covered with piles of paint cans and heavy black plastic. And then we saw the back porch-piled with wet paper boxes. The porch was packed! There was no way to open the back screen door and no space to walk inside.

I pointed out every container and pile of trash in the neighbor's yard. While we were upstairs admiring the master bedroom, I showed my Buyer how much more trash we could see in the neighbor's yard from the bedroom window. Finally, he said, "let's go".

It's not easy walking away from a great house with an awesome backyard. It's especially difficult to walk away when the only problem is the house or yard next door! Just consider this-

A neighbor's yard is an expression of who they are, it's a display of their passion and a reflection of their true personality

Still, think neighbors don't really matter? ReadThe Best Bad Neighbors of 2015 these true stories will scare you into the reality that you cannot change your neighbors.

Moral of the story-

When you want to buy a home,research neighborhoods & communities, review the master planfrom the county and always evaluate the homes and yards adjacent to a house you are touring. 

To learn more about exclusive buyer agents visit

BuyersAgent.com HomesBuyHendersons

and NAEBA.org

Habits of Millennial Home Buyers

Who are Millennials?

Is their approach to buying a home different than Gen X'ers or Baby Boomers? 

Millennials, according to Pew Research, are 18-34 years of age in 2015. These men and women overtake baby boomers as America's largest generation-according to population estimates by the Census BureauImmigration adds more numbers to this group than any other. By the year 2036, Millenial population is expected to peak at 81.1 million

So what are Millennials looking for in a home? Are they confident, city dwellers with expectations that are wildly different from previous home buyers?  

Not really-they have the American dream of owning their own home, just like home buyers before them. Here's a breakdown of the survey done by the Responsive Home Project

  • 83% of Millenials want space in a less populated community
  • 85% of Millenials buy a home to build personal equity
  • 86% of Millenials want outdoor space for entertaining and plenty of space in the home
  • Walkability ranks very high for most Millenial home buyers. They want to be close to parks, grocery stores and schools with community activities close by too. 

Millenials are searching for homes, on their own, more than any other generation of home buyers. Mobile apps make it easy and fun to learn about schools, communities, and home prices in neighborhoods. And finally, Millenials are more likely than other groups to interview several Realtors before choosing someone. 

Buying a home is an expensive adventure...and it should be fun! If you're buying a home or just thinking about getting started, here are a few things to do-

  • Interview several Realtors and trust your gut instinct. Are they listening to you? Will they promptly respond to your texts & phone calls? 
  • Review their Buyer Broker agreement. Can you really break up with them or are you wedded to their company? At Buyer's Edge, you can end your agreement by email. Again, trust your gut before signing with a real estate company.
  • Are they showing you houses & condos that you want to see or houses they want to sell? Remember, you are the one financing this transaction. You deserve to be fully represented by a qualified professional who will guide you through the home buying experience.  

Resources for Home Buyers

The National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents

U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development

Forbes-10 Things You Have to Know Before Buying a Home

NAEBA Strict Code of Ethics

Buyers Edge

Homes Buy Hendersons

Condo or Co-op, what's the difference?

N.W. Washington D.C. view from the roof of a co-op.

N.W. Washington D.C. view from the roof of a co-op.

Condominiums and Cooperatives are different types of ownership. A condominium is a building or complex of individually owned units.

A condominium is owned outright with the owners sharing ownership of common areas like hallways, entryways, and rooftops. 

 

A co-op is a legal entity usually a corporation or cooperative which owns real estate. The corporation is membership based and each member or shareholder is granted the right to own one housing unit. Monthly payments to the co-op are used to pay taxes, in addition to paying other building expenses. In addition, shareholders have elected representatives who screen and select new applicants to the cooperative. 

 Co-op's are very different type of ownership as compared to owning a single family home, townhouse or condo. 

With condo's and co-op's, buyers should check the rules and regulations. 

  1. Are pets allowed? If so, is there a size limit or are only cats allowed and not dogs?
  2. What are the rules regarding remodeling the co-op or condo?
  3. Can you rent out your condo or co-op?
  4. What are the monthly condo or co-op fees and what is covered? 
Cooperatively Speaking, written by Edmund J Flynn Company based in Washington D.C., is a 28 page book. It's an excellent go-to manual on housing cooperatives. This page is a side by side comparison of condo's and co-ops. 

When searching for a condo or co-op in Washington D.C., remember you have a period of 3 business days to review the condo or co-op documents.

These "docs" give a description of the rules and bylaws, the budget, which is very important to review, minutes from previous meetings and a description of special assessments.

As a buyer, you will want to carefully review these documents because you will be buying into this living situation. When you buy a condo you share the maintenance expenses for common areas. When you buy a co-op, you are buying into a community that shares the entire buildings operations. 

Links for more information

Search for a home with Buyer's Edge

Co-op D.C. 

National Association of Housing Cooperatives

Inspection of a Crawlspace

A home inspection is a vital part of the home buying process. We recommend several home inspectors who are licensed, experienced and highly qualified but remember it's always the home buyers choice. 

Last summer, one of our buyers hired a home inspector we didn't know. The inspector, Glenford Blanc, is with Pro-Spex. We were impressed by Glen's knowledge about homes. He patiently answered all of our buyers questions and showed him what was right and wrong with the home. He also uses a drone during home inspections when roofs are too steep to climb.  Pro-Spex made our "cut" and the company, which employs about 8 home inspectors, is now on our preferred home inspectors list. We also recommend Jeff Pearce with The Pearce Group who is licensed in Maryland, Virginia and Washington D.C. In addition to being a licensed home inspector, Jeff has a background in HVAC installation. 

Bobby Mayberry owns RPM Home Inspect. He is licensed in Washington D.C. and Virginia. Bobby stars in our video titled, "Inspection of a Crawlspace" 

Marshall and I enjoy working with Bobby because he goes through the house with our home buyers explaining how everything works. He encourages buyers to ask questions and like our other preferred home inspectors, he provides a detailed home inspection report. If you are buying a home in the Greater Washington D.C area, consider working with exclusive buyer agents with Buyer's Edge. We are licensed in Virginia, Maryland and Washington D.C. and advocate for home buyers through the entire home buying process. 

Bobby Mayberry with RPM inspecting a crawlspace. He recommends conditioning crawlspaces. If you DIY $500 If you hire someone to do the work $1500 a $2000 Buyer's Edge 4849 Rugby Avenue Bethesda, MD 20814 301.657.1475 or 301.922.1677

Thank you for watching our video on the inspection of a crawlspace. Watch other videos on our YouTube Channel and have a great day! 

Our Habits Create Our Destiny

We are what we repeatedly do.

About six weeks ago, one of my longtime yoga buddies started having migraine headaches. She's been to doctors, had cat scans, taken prescription pain medication and had acupuncture treatments. 

She's been miserable but made it to yoga every Sunday. Today, I asked how she was doing and she replied,

"Great! My migraine headaches are gone!"

What happened? Well it turns out, that she tipped her head down and curled her shoulders forward whenever she typed on the computer or texted on her cellphone. In fact, her chin was tipped so low, it almost touched her chest. Her daughter made the observation and asked if she always typed and texted this way and my friend answered, "Yes."

Her daughter snapped a picture and sent it to the doctor who said, "Yes, holding her head in this awkward position for long periods of time could be causing her migraine headaches." A week later, after buying a new desk and chair, her headaches are gone. 

Which brings me to this quote-

We Are what we repeatedly do

My friends' story demonstrates the power of unintentional or unconscious habits. Thanks to her daughters' compassionate observation, my friend changed for the better. 

Her story prompts the questions, 

"What am I repeatedly doing that I should stop doing?"

and

"What could I repeatedly do that would make my life better?"

This TedTalk challenges us to try a new habit-just for 30 days

Buying a Condo in Washington DC

Living within walking distance of work enhances your quality of life. You walk to your favorite coffee shop in the morning, you walk to dinner and the theater at night. Life is sweet. This is the lifestyle in Washington D.C. and we are working with home buyers to find the best condos. Here are a few of the big things you want to consider if you are shopping for a condo in Washington D.C. or in the near suburbs of Virginia and Maryland. 

Capital Hill Washington DC

This is the lifestyle in Washington D.C. and we work with home buyers to help them identify the right neighborhood, building and condo association.  Here are a few of the big things you want to consider if you are shopping for a condo in Washington D.C. or in the near suburbs of Virginia and Maryland. 

This time of year, the market slows down just a little bit. Just enough so you can take a moment to understand what's important to consider when buying a condominium.

  • Buying a condo is much like marrying into a family.Like it or not, you will be making decisions on how to run the building with other condo owners.There is a condo association with a board consisting of other condo owners. These board members make decisions about how to spend the condo association funds. Much like a small business, the board decides how to pay and care for the common living areas when to replace the roof or the elevator. The condo association holds regular meetings and all condo owners follow the rules or bylaws. If this makes you uncomfortable, consider buying a rowhouse or townhouse. You can also search for condo's in smaller buildings and fewer people to deal with.
  • What is included in the monthly condo fee? Your monthly mortgage is only part of the story when you buy a condominium. Look for condo fees that include all or most of the utilities. Condo fees in D.C. can range from $250 to over $1,000 a month. Working with your agent and lender, find the monthly range that fits your budget. Remember, condo fees can and will go up. If there is a special assessment, like replacing the roof or washers and dryers in the common laundry area, it's going to cost you money. 
  • What is the condition of the building and grounds?  In Washington DC, some condo buildings are 100 years old. This is not necessarily a bad thing. The question is, 

How well maintained in the condo building? 

like detached houses, maintenance is the key to quality. As you look at the condo, take a good look at the building. Remember, if you buy a condo in Washington D.C., you have a 3 day review period for the condo documents. This means once you have a ratified contract, the listing agent provides the condo documents for review. Check the budget. Make sure that the condo association is paying bills on time and maintaining the property. How many people are delinquent on their condo fees? Do they have any special assessments? Are there pending lawsuits? Examine the budget and bylaws carefully. You will be living by these rules. Make sure they work for you. 

  • Is the neighborhood near grocery stores and restaurants? Just because you live in the city doesn't mean you can easily walk to grocery stores, retail stores and restaurants. In N.W. Washington D.C., near the Washington Cathedral, there are condo's and coop's tucked away from the conveniences of city living. Near Rock Creek Park,you'll find condo's closer to the woods than to a store. If this is exactly what you want, then this neighborhood in NW Washington D.C. is for you! 

Buying a condo in Washington D.C. is a learning process. We work to educate our Buyers and help them identify the neighborhood, building, and condo that suits their needs. This is fun experience!

It is a beautiful time of year to be shopping for condo's in Washington D.C.!

Buying a Condo in Bethesda Maryland

What You Should Know About Condos in Bethesda

 

Bethesda Maryland garden gate

 Looking for Condos in Bethesda Maryland?

We toured condos in Bethesda this weekend including a hard hat tour of Hampden Row 4915 Hampden Lane in Bethesda Md. When Hampden Row is complete, there will be 55 hi-end condominiums. Hard hat tour Hampden RowSeveral condos have large balconies and all have high-end appliances. The rooftop deck has a gas fireplace and stunning views of downtown Bethesda. Condos on the west side of the building face the Bethesda library and a park. The view is serene and green.  The Lauren 4901 Hampden Lane features 29 luxury condominiums including a 7300 square foot penthouse listed for $10.5 million. The Lauren has a concierge team. According to The Lauren's website, the concierge team provides unmatched services for condo owners.

"No request is too big or small and will always be carried out with strict confidentiality." 

Downtown Bethesda Maryland

The Darcy 7171 Woodmont Avenue is one of the newer condos in downtown Bethesda. It's across the street from Barnes & Noble and Pottery Barn & above Passion Fish restaurant. The Darcy condos we toured faced Bethesda Avenue and a building across the street that is soon to be renovated. For our client, the unattractive building and the prospect of a construction project in the near future, played a part in his not making an offer. 

 

Lionsgate 7710 Woodmont Avenue is a condominium built in 2008 and modeled after New York style co-ops. It is a luxury hi-rise 9+ stories with 24 concierge service, an elegant entrance, and circular driveway. Many of the one bedroom condominiums at Lionsgate have a small den with a large walk in closet. A parking space is included in the list price. These extra features put Lionsgate high on our home buyer's list. However, condos on the levels 4 and below, in the back of the building, face an ugly concrete garage. It's unfortunate since the condo's we toured are beautiful. 

The Edgemoor 4821 Montgomery Avenue is a large condominium building with million dollar penthouses on the top floor. Montgomery Avenue is a quiet street but convenient to Metro and all the popular shopping and dining spots in downtown Bethesda. 

The Adagio 6820 Wisconsin Avenue is across the street from Trader Joes. Many of the one bedroom condominiums have two full bathrooms a den and parking included in the list price. These features make The Adagio a very attractive option. 

What You Need to Know When Buying a Condo in Bethesda

  • How much is the condo fee and what does it include? Some condominiums have monthly fees over $800.00. Always check the listing to see what utilities are included. What hours does the building offer concierge service? 
  • Is there a parking space included in the list price? One of the condos we toured this weekend offers parking at an additional cost. One space costs $85,000.00. When you add that to the list price, you are racking up high costs. If you are buying an existing condo that does not include parking, you may be able to purchase a space from another condo owner. 
  • Is the Condo Association in good financial order? There is a 7 day review period for buyers to review the condo documents. Read all the documents. Are there any special assessments? If so, you may ask the Seller to pay that off at Settlement. Make sure you can abide by the rules that govern the building. If they do not allow pets, you may want to reconsider. 
  • Is there a common laundry area or is there a washer & dryer in the unit? There are common laundry rooms in older condominiums in Bethesda. In North Bethesda, condo's in The Grosvenor share a common laundry area. In downtown Bethesda, particularly  in the newer buildings, condominiums have a washer and drier in the unit. 
  • Are pets allowed? If so, is there a size limit? We were with a buyer in Washington D.C. the other day and just as we were going to ask the concierge if pets were allowed, a Great Dane strolled by the front desk. So that building stays on our client's list since pets are allowed and there are clearly no size limits! 

Links for Buying a Condo in Bethesda Maryland

Buyer's Edge

HomesBuyHendersons

Bethesda Maryland Master Plan

 

 

video of Bethesda Maryland