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The listing you can’t find

listing, gay news, Washington Blade

With so many opportunities to capitalize on smart Washington real estate investments this spring, place your trust in firms that want to expose you to the market.

Lately, some brokerage firms in Washington have been boasting to sellers about how they are holding “private exclusive” and “private placement” listings. These are listings where the seller signs an agreement and elects not to go into the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) for exposure to the broader market. Sometimes, these agreements actually give the broker the exclusive right to bring a buyer – stopping other brokers from participating.

The proponents of “private” listings tell you the seller that they are doing you a favor, assuring your privacy, making sure only the most qualified buyers can get into your home. Restricting access to a property does not often do the seller a favor – it is a benefit to the broker who may get both sides of the commission by making sure nobody else has access. Marketing “private” listings under the guise of “exclusivity” often excludes potential buyers who might otherwise be interested in your home. The laws of supply and demand dictate that if you reduce the demand by making sure only a few people know about a listing, while you still have the exact same supply, you get less money.

Don’t get me wrong — there are certainly situations that warrant keeping a property out of the MLS. A seller who isn’t ready to move until she finds a new house might want to stay out of the computer so as not to run up days on market. A seller whose property is in particularly poor condition or with an unusual living situation may not want the exposure. By and large, though, more exposure gets you more money. The best way to sell a property in Washington is to price it correctly, present it attractively and make sure that EVERYBODY SEES IT. Multiple offers can cause an escalation in the sales price and even if not, can garner better terms for the seller.

That said, if you’ve signed a listing agreement that allows for MLS entry but you’re still preparing the property for market, there is nothing wrong with letting your agent make other agents in multiple firms aware of the upcoming listing — and even allow them to show it to motivated buyers who have a little imagination. I’ve sold many listings pre-market by creating hype — the buyers are afraid they will have to compete and so they will pay top dollar for a property they have fallen in love with. It is up to the seller to decide whether to go with the bird in hand or to see what’s in the bush. Sometimes taking a big profit pre-market makes sense; there’s nothing like a sure thing.

Don’t let an agent or broker tell you that he or his firm is the only one with a buyer for your property. It’s OK to sell pre-market, but make sure your agent is working the larger brokerage community for you if you do so. Trying to keep things “in-house” is a service to the broker, not to the seller, and it can hurt the seller’s bottom line. With so many opportunities to capitalize on smart Washington real estate investments this spring, place your trust in firms that want to expose you to the market.

Sammy Dweck with Evers & Co. Real Estate, Inc. is a licensed real estate agent specializing in townhouse, condo and co-op sales in the D.C. metro area. Reach him at or 202-716-0400.


Where D.C. rents are headed

In 2013, rents rose in the most expensive U.S. cities (San Francisco, New York City, Boston, Los Angeles), including Washington, D.C., but they did not rise as much in D.C. as elsewhere. Two years ago at this time, the vacancy rates here were so low that it was hard to imagine the balance of supply and demand getting level. But over the last year, a number of new Class A (luxury) apartment projects has filled the market with new units and that number is expected to increase for at least the next three years. In 2009, the number of new apartment units in the pipeline stood at 16,606; by the third quarter of 2013, there were 36,098 new units and counting.

More rental housing choices drives down rental prices, and that’s what the rental market figures show comparing 2013 to the preceding year 2012:

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(Data from RealEstate Business Intelligence)

In 2013, the number of days that the average two-bedroom was on the market before renting stood at 42.44, 1.10 percent higher than 2012 (1.56 percent higher if we compare just 4Q2013 to 4Q2012). The longer a property is on the market, the more the market pressure pushes the perceived value down. We start to see this phenomenon at work in 4Q 2013, where the average rental price for a two-bedroom apartment was $2552.85 — the lowest it’s been in the last two years.

Further, notice that the rental volume is only .97 percent higher for 2013, suggesting a slowing down in the rental market. More apartment choices in the market should only increase this slowdown of the rental pace and a softening of rental prices.

That’s good news for renters. In January, Urban Turf, the real estate web site and blog, published an article about what $2,800 (approximately) will rent you in D.C. For $2,900, you could rent a two-bedroom rowhouse on a charming alley on Capitol Hill; for $2,695, a spacious three-bedroom townhome in the H Street corridor; for $2,895, an elegant two-bedroom coop in Kalorama. Those could all be good options for a couple, a small family or a group home for singles.

The spring market will also bring more choices as properties begin to turn at the end of their leases. So between that and the constant influx of newly constructed apartments, it’s a great time to rent if you still aren’t ready to buy. More about this comparison in my next column.

Happy Hunting!

Ted Smith is a licensed Realtor with Real Living | at Home specializing in mid-city D.C. Follow him @TedSmithSellsDC, TedSmithSellsDC.comFacebook, or Youtube. You can also join him at free monthly seminars for first-time homebuyers or monthly tours of open houses in a different neighborhood each month. Sign up at


Spring brings buyers, but what about inventory?

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Flowers aren’t the only things that bloom in spring. The season also brings a boosted real estate market. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The spring residential market awakens as of March and ushers in the strongest quarter of any year. The cold and snow are further behind us and days are growing longer. Homeowners are waking up and discovering that in their winter slumber the house has perhaps grown too small for comfortable living or perhaps another found their home too big or too much work as they grow another year older.

Renters will generally have done their taxes and reevaluated the costs of not owning and are ready to throw their iron in the fire. For us here at the Goodhart Group, it is an exciting time as we meet so many people and learn of their needs and goals and work out ways to assist them to achieve them.

In meeting each client we find most people love where they live. Prying them out of the area they plopped into when they arrived in town can be tough. They like their grocery store or the local deli and they have developed roots.

Often, however, the type of home they are yearning for may not be available in the neighborhood they love. So showing them new, interesting and just as lovable areas becomes our primary job. There is resistance at first and even tears on moving day but we have found that buyers snuggle into their new homes and neighborhoods and grow as many roots as they had in the last home. Mainly it’s because we fill each home with our love, our families, our friends, our pets and our “stuff.” I hate to be trite but home really is where the heart is. Where we bring what we love and like a big beating heart we learn to love whatever radiates around it.

The 2014 spring market promises to be an interesting one. The stock market growth in 2013 has given buyers fatter wallets and stronger reserves. The desire to move investments out of cash and into real estate has become stronger. The problem? Inventory. New construction in most areas has been limited to apartment buildings. People are staying in their homes longer. We shall see if the pace of sales can match last spring.

From the bottom of our hearts, we’d like to thank you for your referrals. If you or anyone you know would like to learn more about local real estate, please contact us at 202-507-7800 or or visit us online at

Sue Goodhart is the top-producing agent at McEnearney Associates in Alexandria and is licensed in D.C., Maryland and Virginia. Reach her at 202-507-7800 or


Coping with necessary evils of buying

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With more sellers dipping their proverbial toes into the market than last year, opportunities to buy exist, but as yet do not abound.

Who knows what evil lurks behind the drywall and in the hearts of mortgage underwriters?

The Shadow knows.

The Shadow retired from his job as a radio crime fighter in 1954, but much like the superheroes of today, he possessed powers far beyond those of a normal human being: astonishing reflexes, the muscular control of a contortionist and the ability to alter his facial features to hide in plain sight or impersonate others.

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Orson Welles dressed as The Shadow. (Photo public domain)

As a hypnotist, The Shadow could “cloud men’s minds” and he could survive without air for hours.

Today he would probably make an excellent home inspector, battling the Wet Foundation Corporation as they attempt to infiltrate the research facility known as The Basement, where the Red Termite is planning the destruction of Capital City. But I digress.

Many local real estate agents now have a long list of clients in various stages of preparing to buy a home. Agents and buyers alike are anxiously awaiting a surge of inventory that we hope will spring up like cherry blossoms the moment the final dusting of snow trickles into the sewers of the District.

With more sellers dipping their proverbial toes into the market than last year, opportunities to buy exist, but as yet do not abound, resulting in a series of necessary evils with which a prospective homeowner must contend.

Altered Timelines: I used to be able to tell people who were renting to begin getting ready to buy about three months prior to the expiration of a lease. Now, due to increasingly cumbersome aspects of mortgage lending and the dearth of available homes in nearly every price range, I advise them to double that timeline, especially if they are just beginning their search online or starting to visit open houses to get a sense of what their money will buy in different parts of the metropolitan area.

Agent Selection

Many buyers commonly treat open house sign-in sheets as one of the necessary evils of the buying process, scribbling illegible names and email addresses or providing incorrect telephone numbers so they won’t be contacted by agents before they’re ready to take the next step.

In the current, fast-paced market, however, it’s critical to align oneself with a buyer’s agent earlier in the process to obtain the professional guidance needed for success. As you fine-tune your list of wants, needs and neighborhoods, your agent lurks in the shadows like Progressive’s Flo, seeking opportunities for you on and off-market and quickly spiriting you away to each new listing even before it hits your inbox.

Loan Process

If you last obtained a mortgage loan even as little as three years ago, you’ll encounter new rules and procedures that will make you feel as if Big Brother is not only watching, but is holding you down and slapping you silly while stripping away your last shred of privacy in a Vulcan mind-meld.

While interest rates remain low, easy access to that money is a thing of the past. Documentation is the name of the game and if you think your bank’s underwriter is kidding when he asks for written evidence of every transaction of more than $1,000 entering or leaving your bank account, you’re so wrong.

Multiple Offers

Within the Beltway, chances are nearly 100 percent that you’ll be competing with other buyers for a choice property, so break open the piggy bank and get ready for a dazzling Cirque du Soleil tightrope walk as your agent crafts your offer, helping you balance financial limitations and protective contract clauses against your desire to beat the competition and buy the home.

First Day Out

If you find “The One” on your first day of shopping, trust your gut and go for it. If you need to analyze it against your search criteria, do so quickly, because another one like it may not come along for a while. Sometimes the first offer is the charm and sometimes it’s the sixth, but even a loss will arm you with new negotiating strategies and increase your comfort level with the process.

As a respected superhero, The Shadow knows that crime doesn’t pay. As your trusted adviser, your real estate agent knows that buyer procrastination and indecision does pay — probably at least 5 percent more to the seller of the next property you like.

Valerie M. Blake is with Keller Williams Capital Properties. Reach her at 202-246-8602 or at Each Keller Williams Realty office is independently owned and operated. Equal Housing Opportunity.


Want the best of both worlds?

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Condominium remodeling is now an increasing portion of some remodeling firms’ business.

Condominium living, particularly in urban areas, largely was a preference of Gen Xers who sought to be at the heart of city life with its conveniences and distinct culture. However, of late, empty nesters uninterested in maintaining large homes have been leaving the suburbs to dwell in urban neighborhoods.

Empty nesters’ entry into the condo market has spurred a home design trend as homeowners seek the convenience and accessibility of urban living, but without forgoing the amenities and finishes of their larger, custom homes. The trend is growing across the Metropolitan Area – including the District, Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Alexandria and McLean. Projects range from pull-and-replace kitchens to remodeled master suites to whole-unit renovations. Condominium remodeling is now an increasing portion of some remodeling firms’ business.


Finding, Evaluating the Right Unit

For those of you who are looking to buy a condo and are entertaining the idea of a remodel, keep in mind that each building is unique and some projects may be more feasible than others (even within the same building). Consider consulting someone who is an expert in your particular building before making an offer.


Love Thy Neighbor

If you recently have moved to a condo, you might appreciate this play on the old real estate adage: “Location, location, relationships.” Why the edit? Relationships are a key component to managing a condo remodel. A successful condo remodel project requires the delicate handling of a residential project and the complex systems of commercial building. Managing relationships with a condo board, building manager, engineer and others requires a specific skill set so be sure to work with a remodeler who has experience in the specialized job of condo renovations. Remodelers must address noise and debris regulations, access and tenant/worker safety, which are common issues with low- and high-rise residential projects. Strategic process and communication are critical to establishing and maintaining a good rapport with your new neighbors, building management and engineers.


Customizing Your Perfect Condo

Once you dive into the design phase, you’ll soon learn that one of the greatest benefits of condo remodeling is that the dollars previously spent on landscaping can instead be spent on finishes, appliances, flooring and the other interior comforts. Those dollars can go a long way in customizing ample storage, ensuring privacy for guests, replicating a beloved gourmet kitchen or making the space feel more open – all common concerns when transitioning from a single family home.

The current trend toward condo living is exciting. There are many possibilities for turning your condo unit into a condo home.


In the Future, You Will Build Your City


(Photo courtesy of Fundrise)


By Brandon Jenkins, Co-Founder, Fundrise

Take a moment to imagine yourself on the sidewalk. Picture the buildings surrounding you. Now, answer this: Who owns each building? Who profits from the places you go to?

The answer: not you, and probably not anyone you know.

In 2012, we were looking to purchase a worn-down building in an up-and-coming area of Washington, DC — H Street NE. We went out to raise money from investors across town and in New York, most of whom had never heard of and never been to the neighborhood. The investment funds and wealth advisors looked at us confused when we told them what we were doing.

Our friends and neighbors, on the other hand, thought it was amazing. They understood the opportunity and our vision, because it was their vision, too. The community, the customer and the local residents were excited about what we were doing, but the investors didn’t know what we were talking about.

At that time, only high net-worth, accredited investors were allowed to invest in these types of commercial real estate projects, while the other 97% of the population was excluded. As a citizen of Anytown, USA, it was easier to invest in a Japanese manufacturing company than to invest across the street.

So, we started Fundrise with a simple goal: give everyone the opportunity to invest in real estate.

This was before crowdfunding or the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act were on the table, and everyone we spoke to told us that our idea was impossible.

Well, they were wrong. It is possible.

After nearly a year of working with lawyers and the Securities and Exchange Commission, we got there. We raised $325,000 from 175 local residents who believed in their community and wanted to own part of a building in their neighborhood.

Then we did it again and raised $350,000 from 361 investors. Then again. The first time it took us three months to raise the money. Our most recent public offering, 1539 7th Street NW in Shaw, raised over $100,000 in two hours.

Now we’ve had nearly 1,000 investors invest over $10 million in 19 deals in cities like Austin, Indianapolis, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, DC and we have plans to make it to even more cities soon.

It’s caught on because it’s intuitive. It makes sense.

Imagine if you invested in your neighborhood. You could transform vacant buildings in your city. You could actually see your money at work and own something tangible. One of our $100 investors showed off the H Street property building to his mom and dad when they came to town. That’s powerful.

So, what would you build? A bookstore? New restaurants? More day care centers? Affordable housing? What would it be like to live in a city you built?

With Fundrise, everyone will be able to find out.


A look back at 2013 D.C. real estate

In this article, I’ll review some statistics for D.C. real estate for 2013, and will have something to say to both sellers and buyers in light of those statistics.

First, let’s consider the following graph of active listings vs. sold listings for the last 5 years:

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Average active vs. sold 

The monthly inventory of available homes (active listings) has been declining rather sharply over the last five years (from 3,161 in January 2009 to 1,060 in December 2013), while monthly sales have risen steadily over the same time period (from 273 to 675). Percentagewise, that’s about a 66 percent decline in active listings vs. almost a 250 percent increase in sales. The space between the two lines in the graph indicates the months of available housing. Each 500 homes indicates about a one-month supply of housing for purchase. When there is a six-month supply, we say the market is in equilibrium—neither a seller’s nor buyer’s market. The lower the supply of available homes, the more it becomes a seller’s market. As you can see from the right side of the graph, we barely have a one-month supply of available homes for new buyers, and this has been true all of 2013. So we can say that all of 2013 has been a seller’s market.

The good news for buyers is that we expect there to be a number of new condo projects coming on line on 2014, which will increase the available inventory of homes — as well as a number of foreclosure homes (which have been in limbo in D.C. for almost the last three years) later in the spring. (So potential sellers, you might want to beat the spring competition by listing now!)

Now let’s take a look at comparison just between 2013 and 2014 in the following table (below):

Looking back, the D.C. market was strong in every variable over 2012:

• Total number of homes sold was higher by 14.51 percent;

• Total dollar volume of homes sold was higher by 21.99 percent;

• Average sold price was 6.53 percent higher, at $588,330;

• Median price was higher by 10.23 percent

• Average days on the market decreased by -28.33 percent to 43 days;

• Ratio of sold price to original list price (OLP) was up 2.46 percent to 98.8 percent, which means that home sellers are getting very close to their asking price.

All of these are signs of a continuing seller’s market. But buyers, take heart. There will be more inventory in the spring because of the new condos and foreclosures. And if you go out looking now, you’ll have less competition from other buyers holding back and therefore more selection.

Happy Hunting!

2013 year end market statistics

2013 year end market statistics

Ted Smith is a licensed Realtor with Real Living | at Home specializing in mid-city D.C. Reach him at and follow him on, or @TedSmithSellsDC. You can also join him at free monthly seminars for first-time homebuyers or monthly tours of open houses in a different neighborhood each week. Sign up at


Hot housing trends in D.C.

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Some residents are opting to ‘go micro’ while others are finding their money goes far enough to afford an extra bedroom in their condo. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Spring is finally here but the biggest buzz isn’t about what’s outside but what’s going on inside. Real estate in the District is changing in a major way from size and design to renovations. Here’s a roundup of some of the latest trends a savvy buyer should know about when hunting for a new home in the District.

First, expansion has become a need than a want. Efficiencies were once the popular (and affordable) option when seeking out a new condo. However, more buyers are now springing for that two-bedroom unit. According to Valerie Blake of Prudential PenFed Realty, the market is more affordable than it’s been for a while. Residents are no longer forcing themselves to downsize and are choosing to spring for another bedroom. The extra space can be used for a guest room, office, nursery or combination of the three.

More space isn’t only desirable feature. Those looking for a new condo are no longer primarily interested in condo facilities such as how good the gym is or whether there’s a pool. Instead, Blake notices a trend of residents wanting their own private, larger outdoor space.

D.C. residents also seem to have had enough of picking up the hammer, those who work the local market say. Many buyers are now looking for completely finished properties that require no extra work.

Kevin McDuffie of Coldwell Banker in Dupont Circle says, “People just want to bring their clothes and toothbrush. They don’t want to do their own renovations. They want a finished product.”

Design is always evolving and kitchen design is no exception. Dark cabinets with light floors used to be the “in” trend. However, now the opposite is true. Dark floors with lighter cabinets is the new chic. Many new homes feature this modern design. In general, traditional looks are no longer being used and a sleeker, sophisticated feel is in demand.

A neighborhood that’s becoming a trend in its own right is the waterfront in Southwest. Chris Heller of Coldwell Banker says this spot is one of the best places to move these days. He says the River Park building (1301 Delaware Ave., S.W.) sat for years with empty townhouses and apartments. Now, many units are going under contract. Heller attributes the interest to the location.

“It feels like living in a suburb over here. There’s a new Safeway and restaurants. But the Metro is only two blocks away. It’s the best of both worlds.”

Bucking the trend of seeking more space are younger buyers, some of whom are seeking “micro units.” These units are even smaller than efficiencies. Many have been included in buildings on 14th Street and in the U Street corridor. Young professionals seek these micro units because they are easy to manage and clean. They are used solely for the purpose of sleeping. Nowadays, Heller says, entertaining isn’t done inside the home the way it used to in the past.

“People don’t hold dinner parties that often anymore if at all,” Heller says. “They entertain their guests in the city in restaurants and bars. There are so many places to go now that there’s isn’t a need for space to entertain anymore.”

These micro units are about 278 square feet and can run as low as $99,000.

Clean, modern and ready for move-in seems to be the consensus among those looking to purchase in the District. It’s something many of us can agree with — the less work the better.


Apartment updates


U Street Corridor


The Cardozo, a 28-unit condominium residential building, is planned for the corner of 11th and V streets. Units are planned to be small, ranging in size from 615-750 square feet. The six-story building will have underground garage parking.

JBG plans to build two buildings with five stories of residential units including ground floor retail and one level of underground parking. One building is planned to run from 8th to 9th Street and the other will be to the east.

Louis at 14th is planned for the west side of 14th street south of U Street. The nine-story building will house 267 units with 30,000 square feet of street level retail. Amenities include a movie theater, yoga room, rooftop pool and 24-hour concierge.


Logan Circle


Developer Brook Rose has proposed a rental complex on the 1400 block of Church Street. The building would include 29 micro-unit studios and six one-bedroom apartments for a total of 35 available units. Eight stories high, the complex would incorporate the existing row houses on the street.

The Fortis Companies plans to build a 33-unit apartment complex by converting the National Alliance of Postal and Federal Workers in Logan Circle. An additional two floors would be built for either condos or rentals. The units would range in size from 600-1,700 square feet.

Habte Sequar has built the Aston, a development consisting of 31 condominiums, 18 parking spaces and 3,000 in ground floor retail on 14th and R streets. This building is sold out.

The Irwin, a five-story residential building, has been planned for a vacant lot on 14th Street south of Rhode Island Avenue. Units are planned to be small ranging from 500-600 square feet. Condo amenities would include a large internal courtyard, fitness center, bicycle storage, 20 parking spaces and a common roof terrace.


14th Street Corridor


Douglas Development is building a seven-story residential building on the southeast corner of 14th and Florida Ave.; 30 units are planned for the building.

Community Three plans for a residential building with 18 condos with ground floor retail. The six-story building would have condos around 600-1,400 square feet including a penthouse on the top floor.

The Corcoran is a seven-story condo planned for a current Zipcar parking lot on 14th Street. The 40-unit condo building would include ground floor retail.

CAS Riegler has redeveloped the Lionel Train Store (1324 14th St., N.W.) into a five-unit condo building. Units are around 1,000 square feet. Pricing runs from $600,000-$850,000. The building is sold out.


‘H’ stands for ‘Hot’ on H Street

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The Atlas Theater (Photo public domain)

As the temperatures climb again, take a moment — and perhaps a streetcar, soon — to the nearby H Street corridor in Northeast Washington. Thanks to the continued promise of the new light-rail line connecting Union Station to Anacostia, many new dining and entertainment options are becoming available in this hot area. Entertainment, restaurants, and even an indoor bocce court now line this once less-glamorous street.

The most famous of places on H Street is perhaps the Atlas Theater. The Atlas Theater is home to the Joy of Motion Dance Studio and regular performances. Next door, The Rock & Roll Hotel is another recent spot for hot entertainment, housing a dance party every week, many popular DJs and a “drink to play, play to win” spelling bee.

Toki Underground is a new eatery that spices up the dining scene on H Street. D.C.’s first restaurant serving Taiwanese ramen, dumplings, and Asian-themed cocktails, Toki is a new hot spot for those looking for a unique dining experience. Be sure to try their pork cheek ramen with the homemade srirachi chili sauce.

For those seeking a more casual scene, enjoy H Street’s local Belgian-inspired restaurant and bar, Granville Moore. The lengthy beverage menu will have you coming back again and again to try the delicious cocktails. Make sure to try the mussels, which executive chef Teddy Folkman made to defeat Bobby Flay in an episode of “Throwdown.”

Vendetta, a bocce bar and tavern, offers its guests the chance to do the ultimate – throw balls and drink. Guests can even hold private parties where they serve more balls – meatballs.

If balls are your thing, also be sure to try the H St. Country Club, which offers a renowned menu with scrumptious Mexican food, as well as a large rooftop deck and the only miniature golf course in D.C. The weekend brunch also features bottomless mimosas, which no one should ever turn down.

Venturing a few blocks away from H Street is Union Market, featuring pop-up shops, restaurants and local produce. Many events are starting to encourage patrons, such as book signings, mixology seminars and gospel choir brunches. And don’t forget to check out Dock 5 for a potential event space. The 13,000-square-foot area can accommodate up to 1,500 people.

H Street is continuing to grow and will be bigger and better with the introduction of the D.C. streetcar. And just when can we expect to be joyriding on this streetcar?

Mayor Gray has promised it will be just a matter of months before the long-awaited line opens for business. Whether you use it to just get to work, or to enjoy a unique bar or restaurant experience, be sure to venture to H Street for great food and fun.

Phillip Ray is a Realtor with the Bediz Group (formerly Dwight and David Group) at Coldwell Banker Dupont. Reach him at 202-570-8822 or for advice on buying or selling in Dupont, H Street and beyond.


Spring market finally blooms

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With improving weather comes renewed hope for a busy real estate market. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Yes, it has been in hiding! We’ve been waiting for the 2014 spring market to emerge. It did not rush out of the gates in January as it did in 2013. In contrast, the 2014 market is slowing emerging from its cocoon with the “heat” still on in some price points and in certain neighborhoods.

If a well-maintained home in a popular neighborhood is priced appropriately, it will sell. The D.C. market is much more active than it is in the remainder of the metro area, but overall activity is down for a variety of reasons.

Federal workers and contractors are still unsure after the slicing and dicing of the federal budget and program cuts. Many new rental buildings are luring potential buyers to lease by offering “free month” packages and low initial rental rates. The pace of gentrification in the District is slowed only by the scarcity of properties to buy, renovate, and resell.

Even the changeable metro weather has played a part keeping us at home by the fire with Netflix. Yet, we’ve heard that other metro area markets are on a fast pace. Chicago, Boston and Atlanta are reporting that their markets have now caught fire.

Do not despair however, as there is promise of a strong spring market. The trees are starting to bud, daffodils are blooming and the tulips are emerging. It reminds me of my first D.C. spring arrival, having travelled from gray, cold Boston on an overnight train. I stepped out of Union Station and felt like Dorothy when she abruptly landed in Oz. It was alive with color, not black and white.

Blue skies, green grass, and tulips were everywhere and it had the magical feeling of Munchkin Land and the Yellow Brick Road. I felt certain the yellow brick road would lead me to a wonder-filled life in metropolitan Washington, D.C. and it did.

This is how I feel about spring and the 2014 real estate market. We have been drifting through the first quarter in shades of white, black and gray. The colors of spring are about to burst with refreshed life and all those in search of new beginnings will feel the need to find a new home.

Rates are not extremely low but they are not high either.  Federal employees will begin to feel more confident. Those who have delayed moving will feel that urge again. We just need the mental relief of a sunny sky and nature to run its course, kick starting a great real estate year.

Sue Goodhart is the top-producing agent at McEnearney Associates in Alexandria and is licensed in D.C., Maryland and Virginia. Reach her at 202-507-7800 or sue@