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HomeSmart Realty is an independent real estate brokerage, committed to providing outstanding service and value to buyers and sellers. We are widely recognized as the preeminent real estate company in Washington DC Area, while also beeing known for developing quality working relationships with our clientele; relationships based on respect, integrity, and trust.

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Buying or Selling

Wether its buying or selling we are here to guide you step by step in those process. In each tab you will find an overview of what will happen during each process. No question will go unanswered when working with us.

Real Estate News

Floods, Crimes and Disasters: Is Your Home in a Danger Zone?

2015-10-07 06:44:00

Filed under: News, Buying
AFP/Getty ImagesA local resident in Charleston, S.C., surveys the water surrounding a home during the October floods.

By Blake Miller

With the recent news of catastrophic flooding in South Carolina to other stories of homes blowing up because of broken gas lines or vanishing into a massive sinkhole, you might be ready to Google your address to find out if your little abode is all that safe where it is.

"A lot of property owners wait until it's too late [to figure out if their home is in a safe location]," says Peter Di Natale, president of Peter Di Natale & Associates Inc., a general contracting and construction management firm in Cold Spring, N.Y. "You have to think top to bottom, from the roof to the basement." (And don't overlook these neighborhood details, either.)

Here are the top ways to ensure your new home is out of the danger zone.

Check the Flood Map

In addition to the all-important flood zone map, which your real estate agent can provide, "keep in mind that flooding from storms or water main breaks will hit homes the hardest that are on a ground pitch angled downhill," says Di Natale. "Check how level the ground is. It's not difficult to have the dirt and grass regraded so it slopes gently away from the house towards the yard instead of into the house. You can imagine how preferable that would be to a flooded basement or first floor of a home."

Check the Crime Rates

"I know it sounds silly and maybe too simple. However, knocking on the neighbors' door is sometimes like opening the floodgates to information," says Justin Udy, a real estate agent in Midvale, Utah. "Ask about the property, the neighborhood, and any issues they are aware of. Typically, neighbors are an open book and love to talk about their area, the good and the bad." Including crime.

Not feeling chatty? Check out Trulia's maps, which feature neighborhood guides that identify high-crime areas as well as flood plains and natural disaster probabilities. Adds Heather Leikin, a real estate agent in Los Angeles: "Consider the type of crimes [as in burglaries versus DUIs], rather than if there is crime."

Check the Trees

Think that towering oak tree won't cause your home any harm? Think again. "I once had a tree fall on a gutter that created Niagara Falls down the side of the house when the next rain came," says Di Natale. How do you know if your trees could be a problem? Call in an arborist or tree specialist, who oftentimes will provide free consultations to homeowners and potential homebuyers.

Check for Gas

Not if the home has natural gas but, rather, where those dang gas lines are actually buried, says Leikin. "If you are concerned about proximity of the larger gas lines to your house, contact your local gas utility," she adds. "There should be a map of your area that shows how close major gas lines are to your new home.

"This is especially important to know after numerous pipeline explosions in the United States." Enough said.

Check for Natural Disasters

Californians aren't the only ones who need to know if they live in an earthquake-prone area. To be in the know about just which natural disasters -- tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc. -- could wreak havoc on your potential new home, Patty Brockman, a real estate agent in Portland, Oregon, suggests checking with your insurance carrier. "Have them investigate whether or not the property is in a flood plain, earthquake, or slide area," she says. "It's always best to seek out the experts, rather than rely on someone's opinion."

Check the Sellers' Disclosure Carefully

Legally, sellers have to disclose if their home's basement, for example, tends to flood. Which means that sellers' disclosure form can be a valuable tool in detecting what hazards may await you when you purchase your new home.

"If there is any area of question, consider going back and asking more questions," suggests Udy. "It's routine for me to ask, 'Tell me more about that' or 'What did you mean when you mentioned XYZ?'"

Check with the City

Some of the most valuable information about your home's danger probability can be found with the city government. "I always recommend owners be involved with their city planning office and code enforcement," says Udy. "Depending on the size of your city, a seasoned planner or code enforcement officer may be able to tell you what projects people are doing, what is in process, and things to be aware of [such as planned neighborhoods, which could cause potential flooding to your backyard]."

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3 Home Improvements You Can Make With $5,000

2015-10-06 08:31:00

Filed under: Design, How To

Courtesy of White Buffalo Styling Co.via Zillow

By Lindsay Jackman

For a renovation budget of $5,000, you can add some serious functional upgrades to your home. Kitchens and bathrooms are smart places to focus your dollars. They are hardworking rooms that you'll enjoy using, but also among the first rooms a future buyer will want to see.

Another practical way to increase the function of your house is by adding living space. While you can't do an actual home addition for $5,000, you can create a functional outdoor living space that increases your usable square footage.

Here's how to complete each of these three renovation projects on a $5,000 budget. (If you have a little more to spend, consider what you can do for $10,000.)

Upgrading to Custom Kitchen Cabinets
​Creating a more functional and beautiful kitchen is a win-win, and one way to achieve that goal is by upgrading your cabinetry. For this price-point, you could design cabinets that work for you, the way you use your kitchen, and your kitchen layout. Custom cabinets allow you to maximize storage for the space that you have.

Installing a Tile Shower

Nothing says luxury in a master bath like a standing tiled shower with glass door. For $5,000, you could remove the standard bath insert and surround and put in a custom tiled shower. For additional function, tile in a corner bench and soap shelf. You'll feel like you're visiting a luxurious resort in the comfort of your own home.

Courtesy of White Buffalo Styling Co.via Zillow

Create an Outdoor Living Area

Boosting square footage is a great idea for you and future buyers, but additions are expensive. Adding a fabulous outdoor patio can drastically increase your usable living space for a much smaller price tag.

The options for patio material include chipped granite, pavers or flagstone. Adding mulch in beds surrounding the patio will really make a visual statement, and keep the patio from looking like it's floating in your backyard.

Courtesy of White Buffalo Styling Co.via Zillow

Build a pergola or covered seating area to create more visual appeal and boost the space's usability. You can hang lights or fans overhead in the structure -- and if it's covered, you'll have a spot to escape the weather.

While this upgrade benefits you, it's also a big selling feature. Most homes don't have an attractive outdoor living area, and adding this amenity will make buyers flock to your listing.

Any of these three updates will make you love your home in a whole new way. You can't go wrong with improving kitchen storage, upgrading your current bathroom, or increasing your potential living space by taking to the outdoors.

See more home design inspiration.

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Money Maven Suze Orman Selling Apartment at Plaza

2015-10-02 08:54:00

Filed under: Celebrity Homes, Investing, Selling
Corcoran via StreetEasy/ZillowThe Plaza Hotel at 1 Central Park South features residences in addition to a hotel known for its old-fashioned luxury.

By Melissa Allison

Financial maven Suze Orman is set to turn a tidy profit on a small apartment in the Plaza, New York's famed hotel and residences.

Orman is asking $4.5 million for the 1,279-square-foot unit, as Curbed New York first reported.

Orman got a deal on it in 2007, when she paid $3.68 million. A similar apartment with Central Park views was going for $3 million more, the talk-show host told The Wall Street Journal.

ShutterstockSuze Orman

Real estate investing isn't her thing, Orman said, adding that she pays cash for homes. "If I can't write a check for it, I can't afford it," she said.

Like a grown-up version of Eloise, the 1950s children's book character who lived in the Plaza, Orman enjoys the apartment's location and perks, including room service, housekeeping and an upscale food court, she told the Journal.

She and her wife, Kathy Travis, considered the white-gloved butlers a little over the top, and their unit needed a year-long remodel to pull it out of Motel 6 territory.

Now it's a luxurious one-bedroom, two-bath apartment with herringbone hardwood floors, silver-leaf crown moldings and a chandelier in the bedroom. It comes furnished with designer furniture and window treatments.

Living at the Plaza also means in-building access to some of New York's storied hangouts, including the Palm Court, the Oak Room, the Champagne Bar, the Rose Club, and the Grand Ballroom.

The listing agent is Corcoran's Charlie Attias.

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How to Lose the Bidding War But Still Get the House

2015-10-01 06:01:00

Filed under: Buying

By Michael Corbett

If your offer is rejected, a little patience (and a backup offer) may pay off.

When there are more buyers than available homes in your area, real estate competition can get fierce. Chances are, not every offer you make will win the deal. But don't despair. It's possible to turn that next rejection into your dream home.

Here are seven reasons why your initial unaccepted offer may eventually close the deal.

1. A backup offer is a secret weapon.

You made your best offer, but it wasn't strong enough to secure the home -- maybe your competition offered more money, or their terms were slightly better. All is not lost. Ask the seller to accept your offer as a backup offer. There is no cost to you, yet you are in line to get the property if the deal goes sour.

2. It's all so close, they can taste it.

Once a seller has an offer and it's progressing, they are already psychologically moving from their home. They're picturing closing day and the moving trucks in the driveway. If the deal abruptly comes to a screeching halt, the seller is much more willing to move forward with a backup offer just to keep that momentum going.

3. Your chances improve after the inspection.

I have been successful in backup situations where an inspection has uncovered more issues than the first buyer wants to deal with and the buyer walks away from the house. The good news for you is that those issues won't go away. The seller may realize he or she can no longer play hardball and be more willing to accept your offer, rather than lose the deal a second time.

4. We're in an era of tougher loan qualifications.

As loan qualifications become tighter and more scrutinized, some homebuyers may not qualify and will have to back out of the deal. In this situation, you have the advantage of jumping in to save the day.

5. Set a 30-day time limit.

The longer the current transaction takes, the greater the chance the two parties are struggling to come to an agreement. Set an expiration date of 30 days for your backup offer. If the two parties are unable to close the deal, it may force the seller to settle for the next best thing before it's too late.

6. Get first right of refusal.

Ask for a first-right-of-refusal clause in your backup offer. In this case, you're not bound to purchase the property, but you're first in line if the other deal falls through.

7. Get the terms of the backup in writing.

Once the seller agrees to accept your offer as backup, get a fully executed detailed agreement, in writing. Be sure they are obligated to sell to you within a certain period at the agreed-upon terms if the property becomes available.

Here's one more bonus for the backup buyer.

Legally, the sellers have to disclose any problems the first-position buyers uncovered, even ones that made them bolt. As a result, you'll know the property's flaws in advance, saving you time and money on your own inspections.

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Mortgage Rates Remain Low as September Ends

2015-09-30 08:43:00

Filed under: Buying, Financing, Refinancing
ZillowThe weekly mortgage rate chart illustrates the average 30-year fixed interest rate in six-hour intervals.

By Lauren Braun

Mortgage rates for 30-year fixed loans remained low this week, with the rate borrowers were quoted on Zillow Mortgages at 3.73 percent, unchanged from last week.

The 30-year fixed mortgage rate rose on Friday, then hovered around 3.76 percent before falling to Tuesday's rate.

"Mortgage rates are almost unchanged from last week despite some volatility in response to mixed messages from incoming data and Fed commentary," said Erin Lantz, vice president of mortgages at Zillow. "Despite a number of important speeches and data releases this week, expectations for the first Fed rate hike are firmly focused on December. We expect rates will remain roughly flat in the absence of exceptional global events."

Additionally, the 15-year fixed mortgage rate was 2.92 percent. For 5/1 ARMs, the rate was 2.74 percent.

Check Zillow Mortgages for mortgage rate trends and up-to-the-minute rates for your state, or use the mortgage calculator to calculate monthly payments at the current rates.

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