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2915 Rittenhouse St NW

Nestled in the heart of Chevy Chase DC, this dignified home will catch your eye and charm you from the first moment you meet.  Take the tour!

As you walk in you’ll immediately notice the open feeling and beautiful natural light that flows from the living room, through the study and out on to the gracious back deck. 

Take your time as you move through the main floor. You’ll notice plenty of architectural features including handsome built-ins, dentil crown moldings, stained beadboard paneling and trim; all complemented by glowing hardwood floors and a distinctive split entry staircase. The roof was recently replaced, and the owner kept it slate to maintain the architectural integrity of the exterior. The owner also installed a distinctive limestone mantle in keeping with the Tudor style of the house and the traditional feeling of the living room. 

The kitchen is spacious, with ample cabinets, dressed in white and a comfortable sunny breakfast area, all with direct access to the deck making it perfect for indoor-outdoor living.

As you move up the staircase, you’ll find 4 bedrooms and 2 full baths, one of them ensuite, with a fixed staircase attic upstairs for additional storage.  Downstairs you’ll find a comfortable inlaw suite, with private entrance, and a full sized table space kitchen. It’s just right for visiting family or an au pair.

The location is prime, with easy access to the great variety of shopping, plentiful dining, public transportation and cultural amenities that make Chevy Chase so desirable. You’ll love the close proximity to Rock Creek Park and Lafayette Elementary School. Your search is over, welcome to 2915 Rittenhouse St.

Steps to buying a house Part 1

This week I’ll share 5 things you should know to help you understand if you’re financially ready to become a homeowner. A lot of people start thinking that they want to buy a house, and the first thing they want to is run out and start “shopping”. They think that’ll be fun. But in my experience that’s not the best way to get started. It’s important to lay the groundwork for your search so that you’re set up for success.  Here are a few things to consider from the very beginning of the process so that you can determine if you’re ready to make the financial commitment to becoming a homeowner.

1. Do you know what your credit score is? Knowing your score, and if you have any dings on your credit that can be easily fixed is a great place to start. There are lots of places you can go online to check your score, and if you want to get a copy of your credit report for all of the details go to and request a copy of your file.

2. Forty points can make a difference. A little bit of repair work that moves your score up to the next tier can make a big difference in your mortgage expenses over time.  620 is considered the minimum score for conventional or FHA financing these days, but every 40 points you can improve your score can save you thousands of dollars over the life of your mortgage. If you are looking for ways to improve your credit score, you can go to for some great tips on how to do that.  If you’ve got a score of over 740, congratulations, that puts you in the top tier of borrowers, so you should be able to get the best rate and terms from your lender.

3.   Have you been steadily employed for the past 2 years? Banks tend to be conservative these days, they look for stability in a borrower. So 2 years is their preferred minimum, but there are caveats to that. Here one:  many banks consider being in college as “employment” so you could have graduated a year ago and gotten a job right out of school and a lender would look at that as the same as having been employed for 2 years.

4 . How much money do I need up front? So there are really 2 parts to this answer. The first is your down payment.

4a. There are different low down payment programs that are available depending on your income and credit score, but for most people, the minimum down payment you’ll need is 3.5% of the sales price. That will get you an FHA loan. If you are active duty or former military you can buy a house for almost no money down. There are also assistance programs which are available from the different jurisdictions, but they vary from time to time. Here is one of the places where a good lender will prove invaluable in helping you to find the right loan program for you.  Now let’s talk about closing costs

4b. Closing costs – These are the fees that the lender and the local jurisdiction will charge you when you want to purchase a home. They are like taxes and tags when you buy a car. Those can vary depending on the jurisdiction, Virginia generally has the lowest closing costs, but also on the loan program you are using. One thing that a lot of first-time buyers do is ask for closing cost assistance from the seller as part of the negotiation process. As a general rule, you’ll need between 2.5 and 3.5% of the sales price for your closing costs.

So, that’s an introduction to some of the financial items you’ll need to consider before you become a homeowner. I hope that you found this useful. If you or someone you know is thinking about starting the home buying process, I have a complimentary home buyer’s handbook that I’m happy to share. It’s full of great tips about the whole home buying process from soup to nuts. Just call or text me at 202-362-4663 or email me at harry and I’ll get it sent right out.

Is it a tectonic shift or just shifting gears?

3Q 2018 Real Estate Update

You can smell the change in the air, just like that musty aroma of wet leaves that comes in the fall.  Every 2 weeks we have a team meeting at my office. There are usually between 30 and 40 agents who come. It’s a great way to get a sense of what’s going on out in the market. There are a variety of levels of experience, and many of us work in broadly scattered areas of the DMV. The conversation is usually quite lively (realtors can be a chatty bunch 🙂  

The sentiment at last week’s meeting was “the market shift is here”. Gary Keller, the head of Keller Williams International, has been talking about a shift since I came to the company 2 years ago. The hot seller’s market is cooling off. Inventory is up a bit, and buyers have more choices. Average days on the market are trending up in many neighborhoods as well, although both are still on the low side by historic standards. Everyone seems to feel that it’s not just a seasonal blip. 

The fall market is historically a short sprint of activity before things slow down for the holidays. It usually starts right after Labor Day, and by early November things have cooled off, so there is not a lot of time to try and figure it out. 

What’s driving the change? There are a few pieces to the puzzle:

Interest rates – They’re up… since the recent low of 3.43 in Aug 2016 they’ve moved up to the 4.5-5% range. For someone who is getting a $400,000 mortgage that translates to an extra $250-300/month in principal and interest payments on a 30-year mortgage. That’s a considerable chunk of change. 

Prices have hit high levels – Large swaths of the DMV have recovered all of the losses from the great recession and moved into the realm of new historic highs. Not all areas can say that, but many can. When people see that, they tend to take a step back and wonder if this is the top of the market. The fundamentals of the market are stronger than they were back in 2006, no “liar loans” these days,  so the consensus is that the adjustment when it comes, will be more gradual and less severe than it was in 2006-2011. Let us hope!!

Real Estate trends have historically moved from west to east – There is a lot of press about how the market on the west coast has already shifted. We’ll see how long it takes to migrate east, the west coast is like the canary in the coal mine for those of us back east.

All markets shift – nothing goes steadily up forever. Values ebb and flow, they’ve been flowing for a while, so it’s time for some ebb. Prices have generally trended up since 2011 in the DC area. Some neighborhoods have seen huge gains, some much more modest, but the trend has been almost universal. Historically “up” real estate markets have a 6-8 year life cycle, so we are due for an adjustment.   

Below are a couple of charts: The first one shows the price trend in the Mid-Atlantic since 2011 and the second shows inventory levels in the same area during that same time period. I’ve got more thoughts, data and other perspectives, hop on over to my blog to read more.

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