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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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Real Estate News

How to Keep From Getting Scammed in a Real Estate Deal

2015-03-27 07:13:00

Filed under: Buying, Financing, Renting Alamy By Geoff Williams You'd be foolish to think you couldn't be fooled in a real estate transaction. While the majority of sellers, buyers and renters are presumably honest, there can be additional players with skin in the game, including landlords, real estate agents, bankers or workers at title agencies. As Sacramento real estate broker Alexis Moore observes: "The crooks don't always have on orange jump suits. Many are former real estate professionals who are using the system." So how do you know if you're about to be scammed? You can't, but there are warning signs and steps you can take to protect yourself. Even if you are working with honest people, there are smart ways to approach buying, renting or selling any home. Don't Rush Sometimes, you really do stumble into a great deal and, yes, you want to act quickly before someone else stumbles on -- and snags -- this great deal. But rushing means you have little time to question what you're doing. Joe Rand, managing partner for Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty in New York and New Jersey, says that about once a week, he hears of a renter who saw a house but didn't actually go inside. "The person will tell the renter that they've relocated, they need to rent [the property] quickly, here's a photo. Just go look at the place, but I can't show you the inside," Rand says. The renter will send the "landlord" deposit money and show up at one of his business's many offices, asking for the keys. Of course, that's when the renter learns he was working with a con artist who had simply taken a photo of an apartment and let the victim's imagination fill in the blanks. It may seem crazy to rent property without touring the interior, but as Rand explains: "What does every scam depend on? Somebody thinking this is an amazing deal and they have to jump on it." Vet People and Businesses Just because someone has a LinkedIn page doesn't make him or her a swell human being. For instance, earlier this month, at least 14 unsuspecting home buyers in towns around Monroe County, New York, paid down payments to a real estate agent whose license had reportedly expired. The homeowners wrote him checks but instead of putting their funds in escrow, the agent allegedly pocketed the money. At the time of this writing, the accused agent, John Valerio, was cooling his heels in the county clink. But one can hardly blame the victims. Valerio apparently was, until very recently, a licensed real estate agent. He doesn't have much of an online presence, but his LinkedIn profile states that his company, Lamplighter Realty Inc., has been in business since 1971. What's more, his business is listed in the Yellow Pages. This scenario may happen more than we'd like to believe. Moore says she recently reported an unlicensed colleague who was still selling homes. Your safest bet is likely to walk into a bustling, reputable real estate office to meet with a new agent. But if you meet an agent randomly who has little more than a business card and a charming demeanor, ask to see an agent's license to ensure it's current, Moore suggests. "We all carry a plastic card like a credit card in California, and it says the person's name and their title, like broker or sales agent," she adds. If you're really concerned, check online to see if anything concerning pops up. To find someone you trust, ask for a referral from a close friend or family member.  Permalink | Email this | Comments


Oprah Auctioning Contents as She Sells Chicago Penthouse

2015-03-26 06:00:00

Filed under: Buying, Celebrity Homes, Selling Jordan Strauss/Invision/APOprah Winfrey with Stedman Graham at the Academy Awards. She has been trying to sell her Chicago condo. Oprah Winfrey is decluttering her real estate portfolio and her Chicago condo. The Queen of Talk has been trying to unload her Water Tower Place penthouse for $7.5 million. But while waiting for the 56th-floor, 9,600-square-foot spread to sell, Oprah is auctioning off some of its valuable art and antiques on April 25. Leslie Hindman Auctioneers of Chicago is handling the sale of more than 500 lots including English, French and Continental furniture; paintings, prints, crystal, memorabilia and clothing. A Richard Miller painting that is valued between $80,000 and $120,000 is expected to attract the top bid. Some notable items on the block: A George I giltwood console table. Jorg and Olif Dutch city bicycle. A Biedermeier burlwood barometer. Artwork by Albert Bertalan and William H. Clapp. Designer handbags by Chanel, Fendi, Giorgio Armani and Gucci. Designer shoes, sizes 40 and 41 (European) by Christian Louboutin, Chanel and Marc Jacobs. Couture clothing and sunglasses. Proceeds from the sale will go to Oprah's favorite charities, including her Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa, Stanford and Brown universities, and Spelman and Smith Colleges. It looks as if Oprah, who has homes in California and Hawaii, is ending her love affair with Chicago. In recent years, she's sold a couple of Lake Shore Drive condos and the West Loop campus of her Harpo Studios production company, which she recently announced she's shutting down. Her Water Tower Place penthouse currently on sale combines four adjacent condos, according to Curbed.  Permalink | Email this | Comments


Tom Cruise Lists Hollywood Hills Estate for $13 Million

2015-03-25 01:39:00

Filed under: Buying, Celebrity Homes, Renting#fivemin-widget-blogsmith-image-657678{display:none;} .cke_show_borders #fivemin-widget-blogsmith-image-657678, #postcontentcontainer #fivemin-widget-blogsmith-image-657678{width:570px;display:block;} try{document.getElementById("fivemin-widget-blogsmith-image-657678").style.display="none";}catch(e){} Tom Cruise now has two properties on the market -- his Colorado retreat in Telluride for $59 million and a 2.5-acre Hollywood Hills West compound he reportedly owns that recently was listed for just shy of $13 million. The California estate covers two parcels and includes a European-style main house featuring walls of glass overlooking city lights, a living room with vaulted ceilings and a fireplace, and three bedroom-bathroom suites. Other features: Four-bedroom, four-bath guest house with kitchen. Stone pathways. Lagoon-style heated pool with waterfall. Stone-clad craft building usable as a wine cellar and tasting room. A Los Angeles Times report credited Variety with spotting the listing and linking it to Cruise. Variety noted Cruise's main residence is a home in Beverly Hills and repeated rumors that the Hollywood Hills property at times has been used as a Scientology retreat after being bought by Cruise in 2005.  Permalink | Email this | Comments


Mortgage Rates at 3.56% on Fed's Signal Rise Won't Come Soon

2015-03-24 20:11:00

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 fell this week, with the rate borrowers were quoted on Zillow Mortgages at 3.56 percent Tuesday, down 9 basis points from this time last week. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate dropped last week, then rose to 3.69 percent Monday before falling Tuesday. "Rates fell sharply last week after the Fed statement suggested that rates will remain lower for longer than expected," said Erin Lantz, vice president of mortgages at Zillow. "We expect mixed domestic data to drive some small market movements this week, but mortgage rates should remain unchanged." Additionally, the 15-year fixed mortgage rate Tuesday morning was 2.81 percent. For 5/1 ARMs, the rate was 2.70 percent. Check Zillow Mortgages for mortgage rate trends and up-to-the-minute mortgage rates for your state, or use the mortgage calculator to calculate monthly payments at the current rates.  Permalink | Email this | Comments


Kylie Jenner, 17, Buys Her Very Own House in Calabasas

2015-03-24 10:51:00

Filed under: Buying, Celebrity Homes, Selling ZillowThe teenager's first home features five bedrooms, six baths, two entertainment centers and a three-car garage. Kylie Jenner, not even old enough to order a beer legally, is buying her very own house a block away from sisters Kourtney and Khloe in Calabasas, a Southern California enclave and celebrity haven. Kim/Kanye and mom Kris have separate mansions in nearby Hidden Hills, and dad Bruce recently bought a retreat in the hills of Malibu. Joel Ryan/Invision/APKylie Jenner Kylie, 17, paid $2.6 million for the five-bedroom, six-bath, Mediterranean-style house with two built-in entertainment centers and a three-car garage, the Los Angeles Times says. Later reports pinned the figure at $2.7 million. Among the home's features: Solar power. Whole-house speaker system. Pool and spa. Barbecue center. Covered patio. The young "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" reality star is busy establishing her own brand. She already has handbag, jewelry and nail lacquer lines. Later this year, Kylie and sister Kendall will be featured in a new mobile game developed by Glu Mobile, which created sister Kim's game, "Kim Kardashian: Hollywood." Kylie's mobile adventures "will allow players to interact with the sisters as friends and mentors as they work to realize their creative and career aspirations," a Glu Mobile release says.  Permalink | Email this | Comments

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