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October 2013

Found 14 blog entries for October 2013.

What are the steps to buy a home in DC? If you find yourself pondering this question, you may feel overwhelmed, but we’re here to help you through the process whether you would like to buy in Adams Morgan, Petworth, Arlington, Silver Spring, or another neighborhood in the DC area.

One of the first steps to buy a home in DC involves selecting a realtor to guide you in your home search. It’s important to enlist a real estate agent with experience in your market. This person will listen to your needs and desires about number of bedrooms and bathrooms, features, location, timing, budget, and more. Feel free to contact me as you begin your home buying adventure.

After establishing your budget with your lender, it’s time to start looking at homes.

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The DC Housing Finance Agency (HFA) has a new program called DC Open Doors to help with down payment costs. Generally, such programs are targeted to low income residents, but DC Open Doors assists potential homeowners with incomes up to $123,395.

With an Area Median Income of $107K and an average home price over $450K, HFA realized that they needed a program to encourage homeownership and help people over the hurdle of a down payment. The $123,395 income limit only applies to the borrower, not the entire household.

DC Open Doors is a mortgage program offered through participating lenders, including Wells Fargo Bank and First Home Mortgage, among others. HFA offers residents a down payment assistance loan (DPAL) for 3% (with an HFA Preferred loan)

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Capitol Hill, which spans parts of Southeast and Northeast, is nestled below the H Street Corridor, above the Washington Navy Yard, east of the National Mall, and west of the Anacostia River. The neighborhood is not only the home of the United States Capitol, it’s also the largest historical neighborhood in the District. If you’re interested in a new home in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, you’re in luck! There are a few new developments currently selling or coming soon.

The Edmonds School project is currently offering luxury condominiums and townhomes at 901 D Street in Northeast. The Townhomes at Edmonds School are a conversion of the original school building into multi-level brownstones. The interior features include exposed brick, hardwood plank

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The DC Department of Transportation (DDOT) has been renovating the New York Avenue Bridge for years. The span carries traffic over the rail yard north of Union Station. During the rehabilitation project, DDOT decided that the bridge needed some visual appeal like the lions on the Taft Memorial Bridge, tigers on the 16th Street/Piney Branch Bridge, or horsemen on Memorial Bridge. So DDOT enlisted the help of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities (DCCAH).

DCCAH oversaw the project to adorn the bridge that is the gateway from an area of industrial warehouses to a new and more vibrant NoMa neighborhood. Currently, two 52-foot-high (over 5 stories tall), 56-foot-long, 22-ton, wing-like, steel sculptures appear on either side of the bridge on New York

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There’s no shortage of expensive properties in Washington D.C. Even small studios are just out of reach to the growing number of home buyers here.

But several homes are on the market in the very top tiers of luxury real estate offering an especially expensive option for buyers nowadays. They range from penthouses to mansions and some have a history that beefs up their price tag.

One Virginia mansion is among the more historically branded homes on the market because it was built by John F. Kennedy. JFK and Jacqueline only visited the home, priced at $11 million, twice before the president was assassinated. Ronald Regan also spent time at the property, which has a pool, tennis court and pond on 166 acres. It’s called Wexford.

Other expensive homes

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The government uses zoning ordinances, building height limits, safety codes, and historic preservation laws to influence the design of buildings. But those regulations can’t generally outlaw an eyesore or maintain the character of a neighborhood.

DC has a comprehensive master plan for the whole city. Part of that includes zoning ordinances which specify rules for land use, density, and parking. Plus, building heights in DC are constrained by the 1910 Height of Buildings Act passed by Congress. But often, DC zoning ordinances set height limits even lower. However, the act is currently under consideration by the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) and the DC Office of Planning. After studying the issue, the Office of Planning found that only a

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Clearly, housing prices have fallen since the housing market collapsed, which surprised many who once truly believed real estate values could only go up.

But now the once record levels of affordability in housing are waning. In fact, housing affordability has hit a four-year low, close to those recession lows, according to the National Association of Realtors. That’s because interest rates have started to climb, although prices are generally still dipping.

While real estate trends in the District may tell a slightly different story -- as the housing market here from Southwest Waterfront to Georgetown is booming -- prices are still not quite to levels they were pre-recession. Likewise, home buying nationwide is still significantly more affordable

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Do you gravitate toward movies because it seems like live theater is too expensive? Read on to learn about the myriad of discount ticket options in the DC area.

It is true that theater can be pricey especially for big broadway musicals with large casts.  In fact, The Book of Mormon, which played at the Kennedy Center over the summer, sold some tickets for $250 each. But there are other options for more reasonably priced tickets.

According to Rachel Grossman of Dog & Pony DC, all DC theaters offer pay-what-you-can (PWYC) performances. These may be preview performances when a show first opens or perhaps on a specific day of the week. With this model, each person selects his own ticket price.

Theaters also offer discounts to various groups like

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Cooperative housing is a popular housing ownership model in New York City, and apparently Washington D.C. residents are increasingly favoring cooperative housing, too.

Cooperative housing is different from straight ownership in that residents actually purchase shares in a corporation that’s provides members with a place to live. That corporation owns the building, land and all the property, but the residents own the corporation.

Washington D.C.’s cooperative housing includes at least about 120 co-ops that, in this city, are a source of affordable housing. In New York City, many cooperatives are for luxury living and cater to the city’s more elite residents.

Among the earliest examples of cooperative housing in Washington D.C. is the Watergate

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Your personal finances are a critical part of securing a mortgage. One important part of your finances is your credit; a higher credit score can lead to a lower cost mortgage.

It’s important to have open lines of credit with no debt, which can increase your credit score. Lenders typically look for at least three open trade lines, such as a Mastercard or department store credit card. Paying your credit card bills on time leaves your credit report with “paid current” for each line of credit and no derogatory items or delinquencies. It’s also critical to show a consistent payment history over time, so keep your credit accounts long-term. 

On the other hand, payment obligations can reduce your ability to qualify for the mortgage amount you want.  If you

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