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Room to Roam in Up-and-Coming Neighborhoods

by Ron Sitrin

DC rowhouses in Petworth

Living in DC is expensive.  In fact, the region typically ranks in the top 10 most expensive metropolitan areas in the US. As housing prices and rent prices continue to rise, many residents are left with little disposable income, after covering their basic living expenses. Housing costs are especially troubling for DC renters, who may not know the advantages of buying versus renting long-term. Right now, it is 15 percent cheaper to buy than rent in Washington, DC.*

But where should DC residents consider buying? Neighborhoods, like Petworth, Brightwood, 16th St Heights, and Fort Totten, are ripe for the picking. Even though these neighborhoods are within the city limits, they are often more affordable due to their perceived distance from downtown and limited amenities, like grocery stores and restaurants.

All of that is changing.  These neighborhoods are experiencing a rebirth, with the development of new shopping, dining and entertainment opportunities.  In addition, some of the biggest reasons to consider a northern DC neighborhood (in NW and NE quadrants) are home size, price per square foot, and quiet streets.   

Neighborhood

Median Sales Price

Price per Sq. Foot

Median Rent Price

% Cheaper to Buy

Monthly Savings

Interest Rate Tipping Point

Fort Totten

$397,000

$420

$2,600

37%

$918

9.75%

Brightwood

$600,000

$428

$2,897

16%

$443

6.85%

16th St. Heights

$605,000

$440

$2,850

14%

$384

5.80%

Petworth

$675,000

$462

$3,250

16%

$508

6.15%

*Rent vs. Buy assumes a 20% down payment on a 30-year-fix-rate mortgage, owner remaining in house for 7+ year, an income tax rate of 25%, and a mortgage interest rate of 4.35%

These neighborhoods offer a diversity of single family home types such as row houses, bungalows and craftsmen. The home styles are typically larger than the more numerous condos, in places like Logan Circle and Columbia Heights.  Additionally, since they are further out from the city center, on average, the price per square foot is $100 less in these neighborhoods compared to neighborhoods closer to downtown. 

While commute times are a consideration, a Metro station is located within most of these neighborhoods  or is easily reached by a short bus ride. Plus, the distance from downtown means less traffic, quieter streets, and closeness to more open space like Rock Creek Park.  For renters who desire communing with nature, owning a large dog, or growing their families, this is a welcome feature.

These neighborhoods are growing, with even more development planned for the future. Petworth real estate, is currently the most developed of the northern neighborhoods. The Georgia Avenue corridor offers residents a burgeoning restaurant scene, while Upshur Street gives a small-town vibe with its many street activities like the Farmer’s Market and its Art and Craft Fair. The Parks at Walter Reed, a 66-acre multi-use development will add 2000+ housing units, retail stores and an arts district. This will be a boon for buyers looking for Brightwood, 16th St. Heights, and Brightwood Park homes for sale given the complexes proximity to these neighborhoods. 

The Ron Sitrin Team is active in these neighborhoods and has helped many satisfied buyers find their next home within the city limits.  If a larger home on quiet streets sounds appealing, reach out today.

Has your father, mother, or grandparent passed away recently? Have you been appointed as the Personal Representative, in charge of selling a house that is part of an estate in the Washington, D.C. area?

Selling an estate property can be very difficult, particularly if you don’t live near the District of Columbia. You now must take time from your own life to perform the duties of a Personal Representative:  to tie up loose ends, complete probate duties and deal with your own emotions as you go about selling a home that has been an integral part of your life.

We recommend four primary considerations when looking for a Realtor to assist you in the sale of inherited property.

1.  Make sure the DC area real estate team you choose to help you has experience with inherited property sales.  

 Taking on the role of  Personal Representative is often a thankless job that will require endless hours of time.  If you’ve never been a Personal Representative before, the learning curve is steep.  Ideally, you want to hire a Realtor that has done this many times before so they can point you in the right direction, refer you to trusted sources, and help you expedite many of the decision that need to be made.    

2.  Will the home need to be cleared of personal possessions?

If so, this tends to be one of the most time-consuming tasks.  It’s not uncommon for tons (literally and figuratively) of possessions to be left behind for the Personal Representative to sort through.  We suggest dividing the contents in the following groups:

Paper records that you can take with you, 

● Personal items that you or other family members want to keep,

● Personal items that can either be sold off or given away,

● Items to send to the dump. 

The time involved in sorting through and removing all the personal items tends to take much longer than most people think.  We’ve seen families get bogged down for months trying to do it themselves.  There are specialists who can help you get through this stage quickly. By hiring them, there is a good chance that you will actually save money for the estate, even after you pay their fees.  That is because even a vacant home has hidden costs like taxes, insurance, utilities, and upkeep. The longer the estate owns the house, the more these hidden costs add up.

Many sellers ask “should we leave the existing furniture for staging?".  If the furniture is dated, it’s doing more harm than good. In the vast majority of estate homes, we find it's best to remove everything prior to preparing the home for sale.

3.  The home is likely dated.  Find an expert who specializes in updating a home quickly and profitably.

Cosmetic fix-ups to a dated home can vastly improve the offers you receive.

● As you look at each room, think what can be done to make it light, bright, neutral and clutter-free. 

● A fresh coat of paint can do wonders to give a house a quick boost to its cosmetic appearance.  Don’t feel you must go with white.  Soft grays are very popular and help give the home a much warmer feel. 

● Old carpets need to go.  If they are covering wood floors, expose the wood.  Even if the floor needs some attention, a wood floor will show much better than an older carpet. 

● Finally, a deep cleaning can make a big difference in how the home smells and looks.  Nothing turns off a buyer faster than bad odors or lack of cleanliness. 

● Many estate homes have older kitchens and baths.  This is normal and will not stop the home from selling. We find it's best just to clean them thoroughly and sell them “As Is”.   

4.  You’ll want an expert in the DC Metro Area real estate market. 

The agent you hire has a legal obligation to look out for your best interest. As the Personal Representative, you, similarly, have a legal obligation to look out for the heirs' best interests.  

● Hiring a top-flight agent, who provides you with solid documentation, demonstrates that you are doing your job properly.  This is even more important if you live out-of-state.  Ultimately, you should always feel that your agent is advocating for you and has your best interests at heart.

● The listing process begins by having your Realtor provide you with market statistics and recent sales to help you pick the best listing price.  As you look at the recent sales, imagine you are the buyer.  Ask yourself “how much would I be willing to pay for this property?”.  The goal is to price the home to the market.  Doing so will help it sell faster and for the most money. 

● Next, you want to make sure the agent you hire offers a high quality, digital marketing plan.  Insist on high quality pictures and floor plans. These will make a huge difference.  Keep in mind that 93% of all consumers are shopping for their next house online.   

● The combination of preparing the home for sale, proper pricing and professional marketing will get you an offer.  This is your Realtor's chance to shine as your negotiator.  An experienced negotiator will help you keep thousands of dollars in your pocket. 

● A Realtor with probate experience can make your life infinitely easier.   Even though you are ultimately hiring them to sell your house, they can be an invaluable resource, long before the home goes on the market.  

The Ron Sitrin Team, because it is a team, offers many additional services to Personal Representatives.  Members of the team are available, every step of the way, to recommend reliable movers, junk removal services, estate sale specialists, painters, contractors and probate attorneys, to name just a few. Team members can even help coordinate the logistics of many of the tedious tasks so you don’t have to.

The Ron Sitrin Team specializes in inherited property sales.  We know how emotional and draining selling an estate property can be. As one of our recent clients expressed:

“Ron Sitrin offers heart and soul and expertise, and takes you in like family on this journey.  His team cares about you and the results, and about having the best experience that you can.  I can’t even do them justice. For me, they are so much bigger than that; I shared this journey with people of great integrity. I would highly recommend Ron Sitrin and his whole team.”  - Lisa Lewis, sold an inherited property in the DC area while living in California

Let our experience and professionalism help make your life easier  and get you top dollar.  Contact us to learn more about how about how we have helped others and what we can do for you.   

Worried About Being Priced Out of the DC Housing Market?

by Ron Sitrin

The cost of buying a home keeps creeping up. For those buyers in the DC housing market, there are legitimate reasons to worry:

 1. The cost of homes keeps getting more expensive.

Buyers are forced to increase how much they are willing to spend, or to adjust their expectations downward to match the current market's offerings.  For most buyers, increasing how much you can spend is not an option, so as the prices go up they see themselves losing purchasing power. This is especially pronounced in markets where multiple offers are quite common. 

2. There is an accompanying interest-rate creep.

Although the rates are rising slowly, with each additional rate hike the cost of borrowing money goes up.  

What's most alarming to homebuyers, especially for first-time buyers, is the combination of prices going up along with the increase in the cost of borrowing money. It's this one-two punch that creates the fear of being priced out of the market. Many first-time homebuyers have told me this is their number one fear.   

3. Buying a home in this market may feel like a rushed decision.

It's a long-term commitment that should be made at the appropriate time in one's life! For those wondering if they should enter the market now or wait just a bit longer, it's a tough decision because the consequences of waiting can be expensive. Make sure to weigh the pros and cons with the help of a real estate team.

The question buyers must answer is: “How do I balance the right time to buy, versus potentially being priced out of the market?"

There are several questions one can ask to help resolve this.  Here are just a few:

- Is my salary likely to increase quickly or over a long period of time?

- Do I intend to stay in this area for at least 5 to 7 years?

- If I bought today, how much would my monthly cost increase over my current rent payment?  

- How much more will it cost per month if I waited and both home prices and mortgage rates increased?

The Ron Sitrin Team has helped hundreds of people answer these questions.  

We know how to get you an edge in the homebuying process and how to make sure your move counts! If you'd like to learn more about how our home buyer services and our Home Buyer's Roadmap can help you, give Ron a call: 202-321-4677

Your Real Estate Agent’s Responsibility to You

by Ron Sitrin

Ron Sitrin untangles the Realtor's fiduciary responsibility for you.

When you hire a real estate agent, whether in the Washington DC area or across the country, you create a fiduciary relationship.  That means that the real estate agent has a legal obligation to represent your best interests.

Your fiduciary relationship officially begins when you sign an agency agreement with your Realtor.  This can be either a listing agreement to sell your house, or a buyer-broker agreement to help you buy a new home. This agreement spells out the terms to which both parties agree.

To help you understand this, I’ve explained the six primary duties your agent agrees to:

Confidentiality: your real estate agent must always maintain your privacy.

Obedience: they must follow your instructions.

Loyalty: they must put your interest ahead of theirs.

Due diligence: an in-depth investigation will be completed.

Accounting: your agent must make sure the dollars add up.

Disclosure: they are responsible to disclose to you any material information they discover.

Ultimately, you hire a Realtor to represent your interests when buying or selling a home.

You should expect above all else that your interests are always first – no exceptions! This means an agent or real estate team should be advocating to help get the best terms and conditions for you.  

I, along with the entire Ron Sitrin Team, believe that it’s the combination of performing as a fiduciary, providing guidance, and delivering excellent customer service that are at the core of what we must do to ensure a positive experience for our clients.  The combination of these three attributes are what give added value to the relationship.

If you are interviewing realtors for the job of representing your best interest, here are four probing questions to ask: 

1. How do you plan to fill your fiduciary responsibilities?

2. What things do you do differently that go beyond just being a fiduciary?

3. What guidance and leadership role will you provide?

4. What services do you offer to provide an exceptional real estate experience?  

As you listen to the answers of the four questions above, each answer should build your confidence in the agent you intend to hire. Ultimately, you should feel that the agent you hire is looking out to protect your best interests and giving you an edge in this competitive DC Real Estate market, as well. 

The Ron Sitrin Team serves the entire Washington, DC real estate market, specializing in the District of Columbia, Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Rockville, Potomac, Kensington, Silver Spring and Takoma Park.  Whether you are considering buying a home, selling a home or both, we know this area inside and out.  If you’re interviewing realtors, make sure to give us a call!  Reach Ron Sitrin directly at 202-321-4677.

Make the Move: Stress-free Packing Tips from the Pros

by Ron Sitrin

Moving in the Washington D.C. area is no small task!


The Ron Sitrin Team, with over 20 years of real estate experience in District of Columbia and Maryland, has put together some packing tips to make sure your move is as easy as can be.

Whether you are moving to a larger home or downsizing to a townhome or apartment, you’re going to want to make sure your belongings arrive at their destination in the same condition as you packed them. 

Take a look at the useful moving tips our team has put together for you:

1. Get rid of most of your stuff.

Even if you’re moving into a larger home, consider your move the chance to purge yourself of unnecessary belongings -  the backup wok, the dog’s television. If you’re moving into a smaller space, think of this as an opportunity to start fresh. You’ll undoubtedly find that living with less at your new place (no matter how big it is) helps you feel calmer and more at peace.

A company we recommend for junk removal is 123Junk.  Mention Ron Sitrin and you will receive a 10% discount.  Plan to spend around $700 for the removal of the cubic volume equivalent of 9 refrigerators. In addition to removing and disposing of junk, they will deliver items that still have value to charities, and provide you with the receipt so you can take the charitable tax deduction. 

2. Decide how you will move your remaining belongings.  

 Most people within the District of Columbia move to another neighborhood in the District itself, or just a few miles away in Maryland or Virginia. Even so, hiring a professional moving firm can make a big difference.  The weight of all your belongings can be deceiving.  I bet you could measure it in tons, not pounds, and someone must lift it all.  I see a lot of do-it-your-self movers with very stiff backs the next day.  The average move can cost between $2,500 to $5000 and for most people, it’s worth it.

If you are hiring a moving company, make sure they have good reviews.  Things happen during moves, even when hiring the best of movers.  You want to make sure you are working with a company that will stand behind their promises.  Here are a few movers that our clients have used in the past and have had good experiences:

3. Make a master moving list and put all the tasks on a calendar.

Moving entails lots of small details:  find enough boxes, make needed repairs, enroll children in new schools, and so on. Some things need to be done before others can even get started and so you’ll need to plan your tasks. Here’s a great “what to and when” list to help you plan your move.

4. Purchase or borrow extra packing supplies.

You can never have enough boxes, bags, tape, scissors, box cutters, and markers. Trust me on this.  Round up more than you think you will need, then double that amount.  

Check out www.freecycle.com  or the “free” section of Craigslist to see if you can find some free boxes.  Most people only need the boxes for a few days. Once they’ve unpacked, they would be delighted if someone would come and take moving boxes off their hands. 

One thing that caught me by surprise was books.  Books need to go in lots of small boxes.  If you put too many in one box, it very quickly becomes too heavy to lift.

5. Start packing. Today.

Sure, you’re not moving for two months, but packing takes time. Whether its clothes or bric-a-brac, take some time each day to pack some things. You’ll be glad you did. 

Just so you know, your movers can pack everything for you.  Typically, I find the older you are, the more likely you are to opt for this - and often it's worth it!

6. Photograph your electronics before you disconnect.

A picture of the back of your TV and other equipment can be invaluable when you are ready to reconnect things on the other end of your move.

7. Pack a 'First Night Kit.'

Moving day can be long and exhausting.  The last thing you want to do is to open lots of different boxes to find a few essentials.  So, do yourself a favor and pack a 'First Night Kit.'  Include things like a roll of toilet paper, a first-aid kit, basic cleaning supplies, a flashlight, batteries, chargers, scissors, duct tape, a small tool kit, a pen and pad of paper.  Also remember something for your creature comforts like sheets and a pillow, a shower curtain, a change of clothes, a towel, basic toiletries, a few plates and utensils, and maybe some snacks.  You’ll be very glad to have these all collected in one, easy-to-find place.

Your kit should be extremely well-marked.  You could even pack it in a piece of luggage so that it is easily recognizable and not lost amongst the sea of boxes.  Be sure this is the last thing put on the truck and the first thing to come off at your new home.

8. Label boxes - well.

This is critical. Even though you think you can remember where you packed what, I promise in the chaos of the move, you will forget.  Especially if it’s a long-distance move, as you may not see your boxes for weeks.  Label boxes by category and/or by room. You may even want to purchase different colored tape or labels (red for kitchen; blue for your son’s bedroom) to help you and the movers identify which box goes in which room.

9. Plan parking and moving day schedules.

As you well know, parking in DC can be a big issue.  Most movers will pre-arrange a restricted area where they can park so the moving van is near the home. 

If you are moving into a condo, always make sure to pre-arrange with management as most have restricted move-in/move-out times and will want to protect their floors and elevators in advance.  Don’t be surprised if they require a security deposit, as well. 

10. Arrive safely and start unpacking!

Believe us: all this work will be worth it once you’re settled in your new home.  Still have questions? Contact the Ron Sitrin Team and we will help you solve your D.C. area moving problem or help you find the perfect new home to move into.

Why Work with a Real Estate Team?

by The Ron Sitrin Team

A dedicated team of pros, focused on you, will always outperform a solo agent. Here’s why.

It is true that you can use a solo agent to help you buy or sell your next home, but the real estate market is becoming increasingly more complicated and competitive. Here, in the DC area's hot housing market, things are heating up even more! That is why we are seeing the emergence of ​real estate teams​ to better serve you.

Real estate teams consist of agents who work together to help their buyers and sellers achieve a far more enjoyable and profitable real estate experience. Teams do this by taking a collaborative approach, where each team member contributes based on his or her skillset and expertise.

A successful real estate team, with its combined expertise, is able to juggle all of the moving parts. This provides clients with a smoother, more efficient, and less stressful transactional experience.

So why should you work with a real estate team rather than going with a solo agent?

1. It’s faster and easier for you.

Buying and selling real estate comes with an incredible amount of research, planning, footwork, and paperwork, paperwork, paperwork... and all of these take a lot of time. In addition, someone must arrange for marketing, negotiations, comparative market analyses, modifications to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), numerous telephone and e-mail requests, and much more.

A solo agent just runs out of hours in the day!

The team approach​ allows its members to leverage each other’s talents and focus on what they do best. While the outside agents are running from house to house, the in-office agents are keeping all the critical background tasks moving forward smoothly.

All of this means a quicker sale and more hands-on attention for you.

2. Efforts on your behalf expand exponentially.

Work with DC real estate experts such as The​ ​Ron Sitrin Team and you will enjoy the benefits of considerable real estate knowledge many times over:

  • ●  Someone is always available to take your call or answer your email question.

  • ●  You benefit by having access to the team’s larger pool of buyers and sellers.

  • ●  Many eyes mean attention to detail.

  • ●  For buyers, one member of the team can be showing you your new home while another is helping to prepare the paperwork. In other words, work on your behalf can happen in multiple places, at once.

● For sellers, coordinating showing appointments is not dependent on just one person’s schedule.

3. All this attention and effort, yet no extra fees.

Real estate teams work for the same percentage fee as does a solo realtor. The difference is that you receive much more ‘bang for the buck.’  Ron Sitrin of the Ron Sitrin Team loves this team strategy; he has put together a coordinated team of agents that exemplifies the real estate team mentality:

“We have the perfect talent for each task we do! Our buyer-agents are specifically geared to work with the time-intensive needs of buyers. For sellers, we have one person who coordinates any necessary repairs to get homes ready for market. Our marketing expert utilizes the latest technology to maximize each home’s market exposure. I specialize in the pricing, negotiations, and providing in-depth market knowledge. And our Client Care Coordinator processes mountains of paperwork and arranges everybody’s schedules. By staffing this way, I find my clients are getting a superior experience compared to when I was trying to be everywhere and doing everything myself. Now we each focus on our strengths and the clients love the results."

 

This combination of skills is rarely found in one person.

Ron Sitrin Team photo Washington DC and MD real estate

The​ ​Ron Sitrin Team​ has been helping sellers and buyers in the Washington DC area for over 20 years. To learn more about how one of Long and Foster’s top real estate teams can make a difference for you,​ ​contact us​ today. 

Is now the right time to sell?

by Ron Sitrin

Spring cherry blossoms

If ever there was a season to sell, this is it!  Spring has arrived early to the DC real estate market.   The market has been hot this year, even before spring flowers started to bloom. 

The housing inventory of available properties in the DC area remains historically low, averaging a 1.7-month supply.  So, this is clearly to the seller’s advantage.  Additionally, mortgage rates are still low at around 4.25%, which is important to buyers. 

As a result, competition has been intense with buyers clamoring to purchase their next home.  Homes are selling quickly.  In fact, I’ve already had listings that received as many as 8 or 9 offers on a single property.  I’ve witnessed this trend in DC over the past year.  Now that same intensity is spreading to Montgomery County, as well.

Due to the long period of low inventory, we’re experiencing great pent-up demand.  We expect the competition to get even hotter in the coming months. If you're thinking of buying or selling a property this year, call me now and let's create a plan to help you make your best move!

February 2017 Market Update

by Ron Sitrin

I have already seen a number of homes receive multiple offers and it's only mid-February. There are two factors leading to this. First, the threat of rising interest rates has motivated many buyers to jump into the housing market sooner.

Second, sellers typically wait until Spring to begin putting their homes on the market. This year, buyers are entering the market ahead of the typical supply of new Spring listings. This imbalance is creating pent-up demand for new listings.

Because supply is not currently keeping pace with buyer demand, those sellers ready to put their homes on the market will be pleasantly rewarded by the high level of interest their property receives.

For those buyers thinking of waiting, you may want to consider starting your search sooner. The reason is I expect prices to increase during the Spring market."

Why December is a Great Time to Buy

by Ron Sitrin

Experts are predicting that the Spring of 2017 will be dominated by first-time homebuyers. If you are thinking of entering the market in the Spring, you may want to consider speeding up your search. December happens to be a great month to buy for several reasons.

First, December is one of the softest months in the real estate market, giving homebuyers an edge over homesellers.  This can be the best time for buyers to negotiate a good deal.  
 
Second, home prices tend to take a big jump in the Spring market. By locking in your price now you get all the benefits of the upcoming market appreciation typical of every Spring. There are also some tax benefits if you're able to close by the end of the year because your mortgage interest and real estate taxes paid at settlement will be a deduction on your 2016 tax return.

Viewing homes in the winter makes a difference, as well.  Homes do not show as nicely as they do when everything is in bloom. This gives you a chance to see the home as it truly exists. In addition, when the trees have lost their leaves, one gets a much better sense of the actual view from the houses than you would see in the summer months. This way you know that there are no unsightly views.

Lastly, sellers of homes listed in December tend to be very motivated. As a buyer that may be your best chance to negotiate a better deal than at any other time of the year.

If you're curious about what's on the market in your neighborhood, click on the link below to see all the homes for sale:

2017 Predictions for First-time Homebuyers

by Ron Sitrin

First-time Homebuyer MillennialsIf you’re thinking of buying your first home in 2017, you may want to consider moving your purchase date up to avoid the Spring rush. 

Realtor.com recently conducted a study of consumers intending to purchase a home during the next peak season.  As Realtor Magazine identifies in their latest article,  Big Expectations That’ll Drive Housing in 2017 , this Spring is predicted to be a tight market for buyers.  Additionally, more than half of next year’s homebuyers are expected to be first-time homebuyers, competing for affordable starter homes.  They cited interest in finding a home that provides safety, more living space and a larger yard.

According to the study, Millennials will comprise 61% of first-time buyers.  This means that most prospective buyers will be under age 35.  The main homeownership drivers mentioned by Millennials include getting married or moving in with a partner, getting tired of their current living space, or planning to increase their family size.  The suburbs are cited as the most popular location.

In 2016, Millennials found low inventory and skyrocketing prices to be their biggest challenges.  The biggest anticipated barriers for 2017 are mortgage qualification issues (such as down payments and credit scores) and affordability.

One thing the article does not mention is that home prices tend to take a seasonal dip in the late fall / early winter market.  We’re seeing signs of that already. 

Typically, most families wait until the Spring to buy so they can move into their home prior to the start of the new school year.  As a result, there is a current window of opportunity for first-time buyers to purchase now, while they have less competition.

So, if you’re trying to time the market, now is a wonderful time to buy low, in advance of the anticipated seasonal price jump that happens every Spring.

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 21