JUST LISTED: 1414 Belmont Rd NW #102 Washington DC

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The spring market is here, and we’re excited about our newest listing in DC! This modern condo is located at 1414 Belmont Rd N at the Solea in bustling Columbia Height neighborhood.

Details on the unit:
A spacious studio that lives like a one bedroom!
The unit features 670 sq feet of living space, 12 ft ceilings, gleaming wide plank, bamboo hardwood floors and fresh paint throughout.
Ideal layout with plenty of space for a bedroom and living area.
Updated kitchen with granite countertops and newer cabinets.
Spacious foyer perfect for an office nook.
Walk-in closet with custom shelving.
Expansive bathroom with large vanity, shower/tub, and tiled floor. Stacked washer and dryer in unit.
The front door opens to a private and secured courtyard with outdoor furniture.
Reserved parking spot, just steps from your front door.
The building was built in 2008, is pet-friendly, and offers a low condo fee.
Ideal location, just 1 Block to Meridian Hill Park- 4 blocks to Metro- Mins to 14th St, U St, and Columbia Heights!
Plenty of retail & restaurants nearby: Busboys & Poets Kapnos, Provision no 14, Marvin, Policy and more!

This unit is unique because it’s almost twice the size of other studios and features convenient access right off the private courtyard. Other studios in the building have sold for $280K-$330K, depending on their size and updated. One bedroom units in the building have sold for $390K-$420K, depending on their size and amenities.

This unit is being listed for $389,900. Please contact us for a private showing!

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Inventory, Tax Assesments, and Rising Prices

Well, it looks like more of the same this month: low housing-market inventory and all-time low interest rates. Just in the past week, though, I’ve noticed more homes coming on the market, so the Spring market is upon us.

And we have some good news and some bad news for Arlington homeowners: Property tax assessments are out, and overall, residential values are up 1.8%, with single-family homes showing the largest increase. The area in general has done well—both Northern Virginia and DC were named #3 and #6, respectively, on a list of Top 10 metro areas with the biggest rise in real estate prices. They showed year-over-year list prices increasing 6.06% and 4.34%. The secret is out: DC is the real estate market that defies the odds, according to Time magazine. But our unique combination of a strong job market, lack of foreclosures, and tight inventory is hard to duplicate in other markets.

Thinking of remodeling instead of selling or doing some upgrades to get ready for the market? Check out the Cost vs. Value report to get an idea of payback.

Do you know someone thinking of selling? NOW is the time to start decluttering and consulting with staging professionals. We would love to give someone you know a free analysis of their neighborhood—this market (and our team) needs listings!

If you or someone you know is thinking of starting the home-buying process, please attend our free first-time home buyer class at Arlington Central Library on March 26th at 7:00 pm, and encourage your friends to do the same. You can register here.

If you or someone you know is looking to move, please contact us. And if you’re thinking of selling, contact us and we’ll be happy to provide you with a free market analysis of your home’s value and a review of statistics in your local neighborhood.

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Bedrooms Defined

Every night, you put on your pajamas and head to your bedroom for some shut-eye. But is the room you’re sleeping in really a bedroom? Just because that’s where you have your bed and where you drift off to dreamland doesn’t necessarily make it a bedroom, at least in the eyes of our local and state governments.

In Virginia, the minimum requirements for calling a room a “bedroom” are established by the Uniform Statewide Building Code, which follows the International Building Maintenance Code (IBMC) but offers a few amendments to that code. Throughout the Commonwealth — including our immediate areas of Arlington and Fairfax counties and Alexandria — a room must have an area of at least 70 square feet to be considered a bedroom. If more than one person occupies the room, add 50 square feet for each additional occupant. Ceiling height must be no less than 7 feet.

Emergency egress is also required, and must go directly outside. The exit (whether a window or door) must have a minimum area of 5.7 square feet, or big enough for a firefighter or other rescue personnel in full gear (including an air pack) to be able to carry you to safety. There is one exception to this rule: if the room is at grade level, the minimum size is 5 square feet. In addition, emergency exits may measure no more than 44 inches from the floor to the bottom sill. Also, bedrooms can not constitute the only means of access to other bedrooms or habitable spaces and can’t serve as the only means of egress from other habitable spaces.

In Fairfax County, at a minimum, there must be two means of exit — one of which must go directly outside — for each bedroom. So, for example, if your in-law suite in the basement is accessible by only a door leading to or from the outside, it’s not really a bedroom, but just a clever way of keeping the in-laws at a distance.

Just to make things really interesting, the IBMC also has lighting and ventilation requirements for all habitable spaces, including bedrooms. Get out your calculator and measuring tape for this:

  • Every habitable space must have at least one window facing to the outside. The total glazed area for every habitable space must be a minimum of 8 percent of the floor area of the room. So, if you have a floor area of 70 square feet (the minimum required and certainly small by today’s standards) your window area must be at least 5.6 square feet.
  • For ventilation, every habitable space must have at least one openable window with an area equal to no less than 45 percent of the minimum glazed area requirements. So if we use our example above, the openable area of our window must be at least 2.52 square feet.

The rules are pretty much the same in Washington, DC, as far as size and height requirements of emergency exits from bedrooms are concerned:

  • emergency exit area must measure no less than 5.7 square feet
  • height from the floor to the bottom of the window sill can be no more than 44 inches
  • minimum size of 70 square feet

Most real estate agents and home buyers expect a closet in a bedroom, as well. But in Virginia and the District, it’s not included in the building codes. That’s right—you don’t need to be able to hang up your shirts or store your shoes to call it a bedroom. The local building codes are there mainly for safety, not to make sure you’re guaranteed creature comforts. Many older homes (and there are quite a few in our area) don’t have closets in the bedrooms but were clearly intended to be sleeping areas. Some homeowners get around this by permanently installing an armoire.

So it’s not so easy to tell if a room is indeed a bedroom. If you have any doubts, call your local codes enforcement office and ask. Or call us…we travel with tape measures and calculators.

All information deemed accurate but not guaranteed.

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Real Estate Market Update for DC and Northern Virginia – February 2010

Anybody ready for spring yet?  It feels like real estate has been on hold these last few weeks with our multiple blizzards.

Speaking of snow, as we continue the ‘big dig’ out from under the snow, remember these tips to help prevent snow related flooding in you home.  Many homeowners are also dealing with ice dams in gutters, so if you have water suddenly appearing on your walls you may want to read this article.

What does the spring market look like?  I’d expect a big push of inventory to hit the market now that we appear be out from under the storms.  And there are definitely buyers anxiously awaiting that inventory, given the continued lack of resale and even low new construction inventory, as noted here.

Home equity is again on the rise, according to the Fed. These factors, combined with the home buyer tax credit, are still motivating buyers.

On the bad news front, property taxes continue to be some of the highest in the nation, as shown here. There also continues to be buzz about looming potential increases in mortgage rates when the government stops buying mortgage backed securities next month.

More FHA changes regarding condos went into effect February 1, so expect that to have an impact on the condo market — sellers need to be aware that conventional financing may be the more appealing option should you have the choice, and buyers need to be aware that the process just got a whole lot more complex and expensive, at least for some of you.

I’ve scheduled a First Time Home Buyer class for March 3, 2010 at Arlington Central Library.  If you or someone you know is thinking of buying, please contact me to register.  The session is free, but space is limited and registration is required.  The next class is March 24.

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