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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
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Found a Job? Next, New Grads Must Find an Affordable Home

2015-05-23 17:18:00

Filed under: Economy, Lifestyle, Renting Getty ImagesIn the 25 largest rental markets, fewer than 19% of listings are affordable for recent college graduates. By Ralph McLaughlin School is (nearly) out for the summer. That means millions of newly minted college graduates will strike out on their own to find a job and a place to live. Here is a guide from Trulia, an expert source for information on rentals and real estate, to help new grads find areas where they can afford the rent and still have some money left to pay back their student loans. Trulia measured graduate affordability as the share of rental homes on Trulia on May 7 that were within reach of an employed college graduate who was 22-25 years old. The standard was whether the total monthly payment, including rental payment and insurance, was less than 31 percent of the metro area's median income for recent grads. Trulia calculated affordability based on the local median graduate income and rents for the 25 largest U.S. rental markets. For that reason, what was considered "affordable" for a recent graduate varied from market to market. For instance, in metro Atlanta, the median salary for a new grad is $25,571 a year. Making that much (or that little) money, you could only afford to rent a place that cost less than $661 a month, based on the 31% guideline. Sadly, that meant just 8.7 percent of the homes for rent in Atlanta (those listed for less than $661) were within reach. Affordability is even worse for new grads looking to rent in large coastal cities. TruliaThe gap between median earnings and the income required to afford the median rent is highest in San Francisco. Want To Pay Less In Rent? Move Inland Generally, the picture isn't pretty for recent grads who want to find an affordable place on their own. Those who head to the Midwest and the South can save the most on rent. But even in St. Louis, which topped the list of most affordable metros for new grads, just 18.6 percent of rental units were affordable. And it's all downhill from there: In the next most affordable areas, less than 15 percent of units rated as affordable. The good news is, you would need no more than one roommate to make the median rental unit affordable in each of five least expensive metros for grads. Top 5 Most Affordable Rental Markets for Recent Grads U.S. Metro Affordable Rentals Maximum Affordable Rent Roommates Needed for Median Rental Median Bedrooms St Louis 18.6% $666 0.3 2 Dallas 14.9% $799 0.5 2 Houston 10.4% $746 0.7 2 Atlanta 8.7% $661 0.5 2 Phoenix 8.0% $613 0.7 2 Note: Statistics are for the 25 largest rental markets. Trulia counted any fraction of a roommate needed to make rent affordable as a whole person. For example, to not break the 31% affordability criteria, a recent grad in St. Louis would need at least one roommate to make the median rent affordable. Income estimates are inflation-adjusted to 2015 dollars and originate from the 2013 American Community Survey for college educated graduates ages 22-25. Download the full dataset for the 25 largest U.S. rental markets here. Go West Young Grad? Only If You Can Pay More If you plan to head to the West Coast after graduation, then you might want to take a crash course in sticker shock. Less than one percent of all rental units in the bottom five are affordable, and almost all are in expensive California markets. Portland (Ore.) ranks the least affordable with 0.1% of units affordable, followed by Riverside-San Bernardino (Calif.) at 0.2%, Orange County (Calif.) at (0.2%), Miami at 0.4% and San Diego at 0.4%. So what's a grad to do? Although it's an exciting prospect to get a place of your own right out of college, the cost of doing so may be too high. For those not wanting to live with Mom and Dad, there are two options: You can spend time searching for the few affordable units that are out there (Trulia can help with that) or find roommates. To help with the latter, we've crunched the numbers to find out how many roommates a recent grad would need to afford rent, and whether that means sharing a bedroom. In the five least affordable rental markets, a recent grad would need at least two roommates to make the median rental unit affordable, and in Riverside-San Bernardino, that number jumps to three. Think about it: In some cities, two individuals would need to share a room -- just like freshman year. Top 5 Least Affordable Rental Markets for Recent Grads U.S. Metro​ Affordable Rentals Maximum Affordable Rent Roommates Needed for Median Rental Median Bedrooms Portland (Ore.) 0.1% $479 1.5 2 Riverside- San Bernardino (Calif.) 0.2% $426 2.3 3 Orange County (Calif.) 0.2% $666 1.9 2 Miami 0.4% $666 2.3 2 San Diego 0.4% $666 1.6 2 Note: Statistics are for the 25 largest rental markets. Trulia counted any fraction of a roommate needed to make rent affordable as a whole person. For example, to not break the 31% affordability criteria, a recent grad in Portland (Ore.) would need at least two roommates to make the median rent affordable. Income estimates are inflation-adjusted to 2015 dollars and originate from the 2013 American Community Survey for college educated graduate ages 22-25. Download the full dataset for the 25 largest U.S. rental markets here. San Francisco, Washington and NYC: The Big Challenge Want to live like a young professional and not like a fresh-faced graduate? You might want to think twice about moving to a high-wage metro. For recent college graduates looking to live comfortably, moving to a metro where the young and educated earn the most might be tempting. After all, in San Francisco, Washington and New York, the starting salaries for recent graduates aren't too far from the salaries of more experienced workers in other metros. These areas also have high rates of employment. So why not pack up and move to the City by the Bay, the District, or the Big Apple? Two words: high rents. Many of the metros that pay the highest salaries also come with hefty rental price tags. Here's a look at how new grads' salaries stack up to the salaries needed to afford median rents. So take notice, grads, bigger isn't always better -- 'cause that big salary may not seem so big after you start writing that monthly rent check. Where Grads Need to Earn the Most to Afford Median Rents U.S. Metro Median Income for Recent College Grads Income Needed to Afford Median Rent Median Rent San Francisco $41,244 $137,272 $3,500 New York $32,995 $121,584 $3,100 Boston $31,552 $98,052 $2,500 Miami $25,778 $86,285 $2,200 Los Angeles $25,778 $85,697 $2,185 Cambridge (Mass.) $31,552 $82,363 $2,100 Washington $37,120 $77,461 $1,975 Oakland (Calif.) $27,841 $76,971 $1,963 Orange County (Calif.) $25,778 $74,794 $1,907 Chicago $25,778 $69,421 $1,770 Download the full dataset for the 25 largest U.S. rental markets here. The Cliffs Notes on Rental Affordability The lesson here for recent grads is that although it may be tempting to seek out metros with the highest wages, doing so may not necessarily lead to a better quality of life because these metros also have high rents. Recent grads need to balance both wages and rents, so such places as St. Louis, Dallas and Houston fit the bill for affordability. Although the percentage of units in these areas that are affordable is under 19%, finding just one roommate is enough to make the median-priced rental unit affordable. However, in such places as Portland and Southern California, not only are affordable units few and far between, it also takes living in dorm-like quarters to make the median priced rental unit affordable. Ralph McLaughlin is a Housing Economist at Trulia and conducts research on housing market trends and real estate search patterns. His academic background includes a degree in Regional Development from the University of Arizona and a Ph.D. in Planning, Policy, and Design from the University of California, Irvine with a specialization in Urban Development).  Permalink | Email this | Comments

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Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie Selling Home in New Orleans

2015-05-22 00:01:00

Filed under: Buying, Celebrity Homes, Selling WireImage/GettyAngelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, shown here with local children in 2007, bought their New Orleans home in 2006. By Melissa Allison Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have listed their prime French Quarter mansion for $6.5 million, but a rep tells US Weekly the couple remain committed to New Orleans and will look for "something off the beaten path down the road." #fivemin-widget-blogsmith-image-652796{display:none;} .cke_show_borders #fivemin-widget-blogsmith-image-652796, #postcontentcontainer #fivemin-widget-blogsmith-image-652796{width:570px;display:block;} try{document.getElementById("fivemin-widget-blogsmith-image-652796").style.display="none";}catch(e){} Pitt and Jolie became involved in philanthropic efforts in the city after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and bought the renovated 1830s home in late 2006 for Pitt's filming of "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button." In 2007, Pitt cofounded Make It Right, a non-profit organization based in New Orleans that builds environmentally friendly homes and other buildings for people in need. The home the Jolie-Pitts put on the market has five bedrooms, five baths and all the grandness you'd expect from a Big Easy mansion: Venetian plastered walls, marble mantles and fireplaces, crown moldings, a grand spiral staircase and -- bringing it into the modern era -- an elevator. There's also a two-story guesthouse. The couple let actor Jonah Hill crash at the home when he was filming "21 Jump Street." Hill, a months-long guest, called Pitt "the nicest guy" for letting him stay there but said it came with some fan baggage. "I would go home every day from work, and there'd be a tour outside and they'd be freaking out," he told Jon Stewart on "The Daily Show." "I'd get out of the car, and you could hear a collective audible sigh of annoyance when it wasn't Brad Pitt." The listing photos, alas, include only exterior shots.  Permalink | Email this | Comments

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Live Like F. Scott and Zelda: 'Great Gatsby' House for Sale

2015-05-21 16:29:00

Filed under: Buying, Celebrity Homes, Selling #fivemin-widget-blogsmith-image-337542{display:none;} .cke_show_borders #fivemin-widget-blogsmith-image-337542, #postcontentcontainer #fivemin-widget-blogsmith-image-337542{width:570px;display:block;} try{document.getElementById("fivemin-widget-blogsmith-image-337542").style.display="none";}catch(e){} By Melissa Allison If F. Scott Fitzgerald was right that we're "borne back ceaselessly into the past," then it's fortunate when there are photographs to go with those backward glances. And there are photos to accompany the $3,888,888 listing of the Long Island estate where Fitzgerald began writing "The Great Gatsby," as first reported by The Wall Street Journal. Fitzgerald and his wife, Zelda, rented the seven-bedroom, 6.5-bath home for two years in the early 1920s. It has since been remodeled. Zelda called it "our nifty little Babbit-home at Great Neck," and it became their base for parties and visits to even more luxurious homes in the vicinity, which eventually became the class-conscious West Egg and East Egg of "Gatsby." The Fitzgeralds' raucous parties here spurred the writing of half-facetious house rules such as, "Visitors are requested not to break down doors in search of liquor, even when authorized to do so by the host and hostess," according to Andrew Turnbull's biography of Scott Fitzgerald. Scott and Zelda left this home in Great Neck for France, where he finished "The Great Gatsby." The listing agent is Nurit Weiss of Coldwell Banker.  Permalink | Email this | Comments

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Robin Thicke Singing a New Tune, Buys a New Spread in Malibu

2015-05-21 14:57:00

Filed under: Buying, Celebrity Homes, Selling Getty Images By Megan Johnson Looks like someone's got a new bachelor pad. "Blurred Lines" singer and legendary lothario Robin Thicke has dropped $2.395 million on a four-bedroom California spread in tony Malibu. The R&B star, the son of one of the 1980s' best sitcom fathers, Alan Thicke, has moved in with his 20-year-old girlfriend, April Love Geary. (Alan, by the way, just confessed that he and his wife like to get it on to his son's music. Yeah, we're a little disturbed too.) David M. Benett/Getty Images for Annabel's/ChopardRobin Thicke and girlfriend April Love Geary at a party during the Cannes Film Festival in France. The 2,359-square-foot home may be just the place that Thicke needs after his tempestuous split from ex-wife Paula Patton. A single-story, midcentury-style house, it's the picture of relaxation with ocean and mountain views, a 7,000-square-foot lawn, and 60 fruit trees. The property is also a fully-functioning equestrian compound, with almost two acres of gated land plus a four-stall corral, tack room, and full-size arena. The house boasts some other interesting aspects: It has a recent "seismic retrofit," which means it's prepped to be sturdy in case of earthquakes. And then there's the eight-line phone system with an intercom, which really isn't all that surprising if you think about all the girls Robin probably needs to keep in touch with. A beautiful chef's kitchen with bird's-eye maple cabinets and quartz countertops complements ash and granite floors. It hasn't been all smooth sailing since moving to this chill location at the beach, however. Turns out, Robin's pet dog likes to party almost as much as he does: The pup apparently got into Robin's weed stash multiple times and had to be brought to the vet for treatment, Page Six reported.  Permalink | Email this | Comments

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The True Costs of Owning a Pool

2015-05-20 07:00:00

Filed under: Buying, Investing, Lifestyle ZillowThis California home on a hillside in Laguna Beach has a swimming pool as well as views of the Pacific Ocean. By Susan Johnston As summer approaches, perhaps you're daydreaming about putting in a swimming pool or buying a property with a backyard pool. That way you can take a dip and cool off in your own pool whenever the mood strikes, never mind piling the kids in the car on a hot summer day or jockeying for space at a community pool. (Plus, a beautiful pool can make you feel like you live the glamorous life.) But before you dive in (pun intended), consider these financial implications of a swimming pool. Upfront Cost If you're planning to install a pool, be prepared to open your wallet. PK Data reports that the average cost of a residential in-ground swimming pool was $39,084 last year. Don't expect to recoup all of that money when you sell your house in the future, cautions Sabine H. Schoenberg, a home improvement expert and founder of SabinesHome.com. "It's not something that's value-enhancing to a lot of people," she says. "Just as there are people with positive feelings towards pools, there are those with negative feelings. I would never put a pool in as a speculative builder." Whether to buy an investment property with a pool is another decision to consider carefully. If you decide to move forward with a pool installation, Schoenberg suggests thinking carefully about the placement of the pool in your yard. "If it's in one faraway corner, people aren't going to use the pool," she says. "You need to look at the natural daylight as it travels around the house. I don't think it's a good idea to put a pool into a dark, shadowy place." She also suggests finding an installer who offers a five-year warranty, not just a one-year warranty. Also investigate your town or municipality's regulations around pools. "Each town will have its own definition of a 'pool,' often based on its size and water depth," says Loretta Worters, spokeswoman for the Insurance Information Institute, an industry organization that provides insurance information to the public. "If the pool you are planning to buy meets the definition, then you must comply with local safety standards and building codes. This may include installing a fence of a certain size, locks, decks and pool safety equipment." Ongoing Maintenance Before you buy a home with a pool, try to get the pool inspected. "The best way, I find, is to get a pool company to come and look at the pool closely," Schoenberg says. "Sometimes that's a challenge if it's the winter, and the pool is partially drained down, so you may not be able to do a full inspection." Also, find out if the previous homeowner had a pool company servicing the pool so you can find out if it's been serviced regularly and what that company charges. Peter Wingskam, owner of Crystal Clean Pools of New York, says the quality of a pool's construction matters more than its age. "You might have above-ground pools where you've got ladders pulling on the side and ripping the vinyl," he says. "Some people cut costs, and there's thicker vinyl or better grade vinyl available." In-ground pools can also get cracks, he adds.  Permalink | Email this | Comments

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