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Buyer Agent-Eye View: Bethesda

Dec 13, 2017Market Trends

Exclusive Buyer Agent (EBA) in the Washington DC Metropolitan Area including the District of Columbia, Northern Virginia, and Maryland.

My office is located in Bethesda, Maryland, a small town just outside of DC. The housing stock in Bethesda varies by neighborhood, and proximity to our local metro rail system. Single Family detached homes in the downtown Bethesda area (zip code 20814) range from older 2 bedroom and1 full bath homes up to 7 bedroom with 7 full baths and 3 half bathroom homes. Recent listing prices ranged from $689,900 to $4,000,000 in the last few months.

Bethesda also has a diverse condo market. Condos listed in the last 6 months have been smaller 1 bedroom and 1 bath (544 square foot) units to 3 Bedroom with 3 and a half baths (2470 sq. ft.) luxury units with parking. List prices have ranged from $249,000 to $1,199,000.

By the time school starts in late August, the market for larger single family homes slows down and the market for smaller properties like condos and town homes tends to heat up. That was certainly the case this year.

There have been some changes to the DC mandatory parking requirements for new apartment and condo buildings. The goal for the city is to reduce the dependence on cars in the city. As a result, a local taxi company that can be hailed via phone app is all the rage. The development of new micro units of about 300 sq. ft. are suddenly popular. There also seems to be an increase in the number of buildings allowing dogs.

What’s hot this season?

The Trinidad/H Street neighborhood in NE Washington DC has a very hot row house market right now. Developers are buying rough condition town homes at very low prices and renovating with contemporary looks including hardwood floors, modern kitchens with islands, granite counter tops and stainless appliances. Over the last 180 days, these houses hit the market ranging in prices from $62,500 for short sale properties that need work to completely renovated homes for $560,000. Trinidad currently has Active listings ranging from 2 bedroom with 1 and a half baths fixers-uppers for $279,999 to 4 bedroom with 3 and a half baths renovated homes for $550,000. Because of the low prices, modern appeal, and proximity to metro stops, and the soon to be launched local trolley system, many first time buyers are searching in this area. Advice from the EBA – Get a great inspector. Many of these flips are beautiful, but these quick flips are not always well done. Also, pay attention to the functionality of the layout of the property.

Metro Accessible Arlington, Virginia has a hot townhouse market right now. Though many of the townhouses in Arlington are not fee simple, but rather condo town homes, the people looking for a home with a back yard do not care. Again there is a very broad range of properties in this category. They range from small 612 sq. ft. 1 bedroom 1 bath town-home units to 2070 sq. ft. 4 bedroom 2 and a half bath units. Some are older town homes while some have been renovated with modern amenities. In the last 6 months, townhouse condo units have been listed between $250,000 – $965,000. Advice from the EBA – Be sure to check how far you must walk to the closest metro, and get parking.Even if you don’t have a car, the next buyer might. And right now, Arlington buyers are only looking at townhouses with parking.

Downtown DC Condos are moving quickly. My clients seem to be finding plenty of inventory worth going to see. Special attention should be paid to properties with tenants. DC has the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) rules that may require a longer settlement so that proper notice can be given to the tenants and they have the chance to purchase the property or opt out.

My clients are entering multiple offer scenarios with well thought-out strategic offers. It is not just price that has been winning. Buyers must have clean competitive offers, excellent pre-approval letters and maintain a positive attitude about the home from the time they see it. Two of my recent clients won in multiple bidding wars because I provided feedback immediately after viewing the home, requested the disclosures right away and expressed an interest in offering. When the listing agent gave me the time of the offer presentation we were ready. On these two separate occasions, the listing agents told me that our offer was selected because the sellers felt that the buyers seemed to love the condo immediately and followed through without hesitation. You never know how the seller will select between two similar offers, but saying how much you like it can’t really hurt.

Dana Hollish Hill is an Exclusive Buyer’s Agent and serves as Vice President and Associate Broker at Buyer’s Edge. She also serves on the Greater Capital Area Association of Realtors (GCAAR) Education Committee.

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