Bethesda, Chevy Chase Real Estate News

More Washington DC Area Real Estate Insights!

Although I’ve just begun writing on my other blog, I have written a handful of articles that you may find interesting if you enjoy what you’ve been reading at (or at least some of it!)

The latest post I created at my REW blog site (Real Estate Web Masters – no, I’m not a “webmaster”, but my partner/son Kevin is working on me!) was on the topic of a proposal to increase conforming loan amounts. This article deals with the Economic Stimulus Package that’s being considered in Congress; specifically raising the conforming loan amount and its implications/benefits to higher-priced real estate markets like Washington DC and Montgomery County.

Another on my REW blog list had to do with what I perceive to be the over-reaction of the loan industry in the wake of the sub-prime loan fall-out. Titled the “The Pendulum Is Swinging…Too Far?”, I recognize the wisdom of imposing rational qualifications for those seeking mortgages but question the validity of creating restrictions based on gross assumptions that encompass but don’t apply to close-in Montgomery County (Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Kensington, Potomac) & Washington DC Real Estate.      

Finally, “The January Question” deals with a lot of issues covered in my previous KoitzGroup post (I know, it gets confusing) about the Super Bowl and how it typically signals...

The Super Bowl: not just football and great commercials for DC Metropolitan Real Estate

When you think of Superbowl Sunday, you probably have visions of two football teams in hot pursuit of a national title. I’m sure you also conger up the million dollar commercials that often bring more excitement than the game; and perhaps some thought goes to the fun food that is consumed during the game – hot wings, chili, beer..whatever. Of course, you say, what else would come to mind when you think of Superbowl? The answer, my friends, is that I think of the spring real estate market!!

Montgomery County MD and Washington DC Real Estate waits for The Super Bowl?

Okay…now I have to explain. In the Washington, D.C. area we can, in my opinion, define our spring market (and every seller wants to sell in the “spring” market) as from Super Bowl Sunday ‘til Mother’s Day. Don’t ask me why…it’s one of those things that just is. It’s clear from the statistics and from the activity level in the market that this is how the dc real estate market functions.

I have some guesses about why this is…and, thanks for asking, I’ll share them. For me, it seems that the phone starts ringing right at the beginning of every New Year and the calls are coming from people who want to buy and/or sell. My theory is that people spend a lot of time in their homes over the holidays and, when the humble abode no longer works (either too big or too small), they are more likely to feel it after having been confined during this time. So, as soon as the holiday decorations are put away, they make a call to their favorite real estate agent. If they’re buyers, they’re probably only a week or two away from being in a position to begin their hunt. For sellers, we often have a short period of “get the house in showing order” time (something that’s become even...

Proposal To Raise Conforming Loan Amount

As part of the Economic Stimulus Package being considered by the administration and by Congress, there is a proposal that would be a great boon to the housing market in the Washington, D.C. area – that is the increase in the conforming loan amount. Depending on what you read, this amount (which is currently capped at $417,000) could temporarily increase to $625,000…or even more.

My understanding is that the temporary increase would be different for different parts of the country. Where housing prices are more expensive, the loan limit would be allowed to go higher than where housing prices are less. This makes great sense and, even if the increase is only temporary, it seems that” the powers that be” should give consideration to the fact that housing prices in our country vary tremendously. In some locales, the $417,000 limit makes sense and leaves only the very wealthy having to deal with a “jumbo” loan. But, for real estate in areas like Bethesda, or Chevy Chase, or Potomac or many areas of Washington, D.C., a conforming loan just doesn’t do the trick and one of the fallouts of the subprime crisis is the increase in jumbo rates. Currently, in our market, there is a one point difference between conforming and jumbo rates – and that adds up quickly over the years of a mortgage.

An increase in the conforming loan amount would be extremely helpful to Washington area home buyers. A recognition by our government that the cost of housing in our country varies dramatically and that this should translate into varying loan programs is also extremely important. Even if the former is a temporary fix, the latter may just be the beginning...

New NW Washington, DC Home For Sale

The "Grande Dame" of Mount Pleasant!   We just listed this special 1910 Victorian Washington DC Rowhouse.  Updated with painstaking period restorations, this is one of the most unique and extraordinary properties in the area.  With approximately 3800 sq. ft. of living space including 8 bedrooms, 3.5 and an in-law suite, this is a lot of house for the money at $1,049,000!  For more details you can visit our featured listings section.  I've included the interactive virtual tour below for quick reference.  Enjoy!    

 Interactive Map of 1842 Lamont Street NW


Metro Stops & Mountain Views?

Update:  One of Gretchen Koitz's Many Contributions Here attributed to me (Kevin Koitz).  Blame it on our developers :-)

Greetings from Telluride Colorado where I’m sitting in our condo watching a few people making their way to the Gondola…trying to decide if this is another ski day (third in a row), or a “break” day so that the legs can recover. No matter where I go, there’s always the real estate agent in me that comes to the surface, so I thought I’d share my impression of the market in this VERY upscale area.

Telluride, like many Colorado ski areas, started its life as a mining town. As a developing ski area, it’s relatively young….its popularity only blossomed in the last 10 to 15 years. That’s partly because it is not as accessible as many other Western ski towns. As many people say, “The bad news about Telluride is that it’s hard to get to…the good news about Telluride is that it’s hard to get to…” That translates to a ski mountain that is never crowded, where lift lines just don’t exist.

In a housing sense, Telluride is made up of two very distinct areas…the Town of Telluride at the “base” of the mountain and Mountain Village, which sits part way up the mountain. Telluride still feels like a mining town, in many ways…and Mountain Village feels like a ritzy LA suburb with snow. That doesn’t mean that properties in town are reasonably priced, because they aren’t.  It appears that the average sales price is $1000 to $1500 per square foot – in both single family homes and in condos. In the local real estate catalogue there are efficiency condos for as little as $400K and single family homes for up to $20M.

So why am I attempting to write about real estate in Telluride,...

A Special Side Benefit

When you have the privilege of helping people buy and sell houses…especially if those properties are for their own use…you have an opportunity to share a very personal time with the buyers and/or sellers. Some people say that you really get to know people when you come between them and their money – and that’s something real estate agents do on a daily basis.

In the over 20 years that I’ve been assisting in the exciting process of buying and selling homes in the Washington DC area, I’ve been fortunate enough to have many of these transactions result in not only a sale, but also a life-long friendship. To me, this makes perfect sense. It especially makes sense in a “slower” market when you have more time to spend with both buyers and sellers. Although there was something really fun (in a purely selfish sense!) about the market that we’ve recently left, where sellers could expect multiple offers after the first weekend on the market and buyers had to make quick decisions and give up home inspections, a more ‘normal” market allows for more time to get to know both buyers and sellers.

When I first started in the real estate business, the crazy market of the late 80s was ending and things were slowing. As a new agent, that was good for me because I had the “luxury” of learning my craft at an unhurried pace. During that time, I worked with one set of buyers that took three years to find their “perfect” Bethesda home. Some may be shaking their heads and thinking that I was absolutely crazy to hang on for that long, but I liked the clients…they made very few demands and their decision to wait for that “right” house made absolute sense. When you spend that much time with people, you get to know them…and...

Do you Freecycle?

Last February, my son/partner and I were invited to have dinner with some clients. They had just moved into a wonderful Bethesda Maryland home from their Capitol Hill Townhome and we were privileged to have been involved in both transactions. Originally “found” thru the internet, they have become not only favorite past clients, but also friends.

So, back to the story…on this February evening, we met at their Bethesda home and were headed to a nearby restaurant when another car pulled into their driveway. “Oh,” Elizabeth said, “I forgot to leave the Valentines.”   She jumped out of the car and ran into the house where she retrieved a small paper bag and handed it to the person who had driven up in the car. When she joined us, she explained that she belonged to an online group called “freecycle” where people posted things that they wanted to give away. In this case, she had some Valentine cards left from the ones that she’d already addressed for her 4 year old’s nursery class. What do you do with a few leftover Valentines the night before Valentine’s Day? You “freecycle” them.

I immediately joined the group and am amazed at both the things that people give away (anything from furniture to old nuts and bolts), as well as the number of people who are interested in obtaining the give-always. In addition, you can post something that you “need” that others may have to give away. If you have sellers who need to do some “de-cluttering” prior to selling their house, it’s great to let them know about freecycle.

Now that “green” is in, it feels great to freecycle.  We’ve also “met” some wonderful people thru this site. When someone’s junk becomes someone else’s treasure, it’s a good thing. The freecyles in our area are set up according...

Maryland Homestead Tax Credit | New Process for Eligibility

As most homeowners are aware, in the State of Maryland property taxes cannot go up more than 10% per year for owners in homes that are their primary residence. When you buy a house, you indicate whether or not you intend to occupy the house you’re buying as your primary residence and that kicks in the “homestead exemption.” In the past, no further action has been necessary.

The problem that arises from this process is that some homeowners over the years keep their Maryland residences, but buy another home outside of the area and claim that new home as their “primary” residence. Many of these people “forget” to let the State of Maryland know that they are no longer Maryland residents and their Maryland home continues to carry the homestead tax credit.

This will now change. For all current homeowners, a form will be provided when you get your next assessment (remember, this is done every three years – so some owners may not be notified until 2010) and you will need to fill it out and return it in order to continue to get the homestead credit (assuming you qualify). In purchasing a new property, a form will be provided by the State of Maryland within 180 days of the purchase.

For current homeowners it is extremely important to LOOK FOR THE FORM IN YOUR NEXT ASSESSMENT STATEMENT. Since this is new, it’s not something that most people are going to be looking for. If you’ve already received your assessment and didn’t see the form, you can call the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation at 410-767-2165 or 1-966-650-8783.

This credit is a substantial savings for homeowners, so don’t unintentionally give it up!

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