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March 25, 2014
We always try to focus on regional real estate news that is more relevant to DC homebuyers and homeowners, but here’s a Feel Good story at the national level.
Millions and millions of American homeowners’ equity holdings (the market value of their homes minus the amount of money still owed) soared by nearly $2.1 trillion nationwide to a total of $10 trillion.
“It can be hard to grasp large numbers like this that come from national statistics,” said Gerard DiRuggiero, Principal Broker at UrbanLand Company. “Housing prices in DC have risen substantially in the past year, and homeowners’ equity has also increased as they’ve made their monthly mortgage payments. In times of rising housing values, your level of equity can increase quite a bit.”
There was a time not too long ago where national news told a different story. Gone are reports of homeowners being ‘underwater’ on their homes and the words ‘negative equity’ do not show up in real estate news as often. A great deal of distressed properties, foreclosures and short sales have been cleaned out of the market as a whole.
“Negative equity simply sucks the life out of the real estate market, and out of people’s enthusiasm in general,” continued Gerard. “You’ve got people putting their life savings into their homes, and values dropped, and they are affected emotionally by it. You’re literally trapped in your home, can’t refinance without cash to pay down the mortgage, and buyers who are facing the same personal situation can’t buy your home, either.”
So, it’s big news and relevant to us here in DC when over 4 million American homeowners are estimated to now be out of negative equity and into positive territory with their homes again. “Real estate values, like everything else, follow a cycle. This last cycle took about 7 years, from when the markets first began to tumble, to today,” said DiRuggiero. “While there are still lots of homeowners facing financial problems, this type of announcement really does show some sunshine as Spring approaches.”
*shared from UrbanLand website*
February 13, 2014 — As the snow begins to melt, homeowners need to act quickly to protect their investments in their homes, according to Jeff Caruso, president of Caruso Homes.
“With amounts of just 6 inches or more of snow, homes need critical care that the owner can easily administer in just a matter of hours to avoid the problems associated with water damage,” says Caruso, a master builder with more than 30 years of experience building homes throughout the region. “Homes are designed to shed water and for it to flow away from the home, so the critical areas are windows and doors.”
Caruso says it is urgent that homeowners dig snow out of window wells and basement exterior stairwells, including drains in those spaces. Also critical: remove snow 1 to 2 feet away from outside doors, then dig a path for water to flow away. “This is especially necessary on rear decks,” says Caruso.
“Heat from the house melts the snow, creating a lower surface, and then an ice crust can form an ice dam,” he explained. “When snow melts from the roof, flooding occurs, and in a deep snow, even siding and brick can leak.”
Water infiltration will show up either as a flooded basement, wet carpets – usually near doors – or water stains on the ceilings, usually below the door areas, Caruso says. But the real damage can hide for months, with the possibility of the plywood subfloors swelling, or worse, the growth of harmful molds.
Another problem area is the roof. Like doors and windows, roof shingles are designed to shed water and an ice dam at the gutter can cause water to back up and get under the shingles. Roof leaks caused by ice dams first show up as water stains on the ceilings and walls of the rooms. If a homeowner sees water stains or wet areas, they should contact a roofing specialist who will climb a ladder and break up the blockage or ice dam, usually near the gutter areas, to minimize the leaking.
More winter home care tips from Caruso Homes
Keep your outside condenser unit ice-free so it can breathe and heat your home properly;
Shovel a place for gutters to drain to when they thaw out;
Dig drainage ditches in the snow for water to drain away from your home;
Avoid throwing salt-based ice melt on concrete driveways, walks and porches, as salt can damage the finish of the concrete.
January 21, 2014
With DC housing prices rising quickly and consistently, more and more buyers are asking us daily to help them find ‘value’ in downtown real estate.
“We’re getting more and more inquiries from traditional home buyers and condo buyers who are starting to think of their home as an investment rather than just a place to live,” said Gerard DiRuggiero. “Home buying can be such an emotional purchase, and informed buyers are starting to transition to a more hybrid set of expectations based on value today versus value tomorrow, how long they will stay in the home, and if the home or condo is a good investment from a numbers sense.”
UrbanLand Company constantly communicates the merits of buying in ‘emerging neighborhoods’ or areas that have not quite matured into ‘destinations’ for working professionals, both in the city and outside DC. “We coach our more flexible buyers on looking in to the future 3 years, 5 years, even 10 years when looking at potential homes to buyer,” said Gerard DiRuggiero, Principal Broker at UrbanLand Company. “There’s areas with real character and charm that are starting to become DC’s hot new destinations for buyers. It’s similar to what happened with U Street early on.”
For those seeking value right now, there’s plenty of options and areas to consider looking. If you absolutely must stay within Downtown, there’s great neighborhoods in Southeast, Northeast and even some parts of Northwest that are still attractively priced.
“We’ve been telling people all year to watch Deanwood, Brightwood, Trinidad and Anacostia very closely,” continued DiRuggiero. “Our involvement with the DC Open Doors program puts us in contact with a large number of 1st time homebuyers seeking the most value for their dollar, and we take them to these neighorhoods constantly.”
There’s lots of value priced single family options in Prince George’s County, just over the District line.
Those with more flexibility who don’t need to be right in the city should consider close-in Prince George’s County, and people are already making the short trip over the DC border in the County. “Prince George’s County had the best year outside of downtown of any area housing market. Median sales prices are shooting up with a 15.9% increase in sales price on average during 2013,” said DiRuggiero. “There’s still plenty of room for further increases in price, and you get more single family home options that you just don’t see in the city.”
UrbanLand Company is a downtown based DC real estate brokerage and new condominium sales specialist, operating in DC, Maryland and Virginia. More information is available at http://UrbanLandCompany.com.