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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 being known for developing quality working relationships with our clientele; relationships based on respect, integrity, and trust. 

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10 Insanely Clever Home Hacks Every Renter Needs To Know

2016-02-12 14:18:00

Filed under: How To

By Michelle Hainer

Apartment living can be tight, but these little tweaks can go a long way toward making your place feel more spacious.

Apartment life can come with many perks, like a doorman, pool, and fitness center. Unfortunately, loads of space isn't often one of them: Even the roomiest New York, NY apartments have their limits. With a little bit of creativity, however, you can make your 500 square feet (or less) seem like a palace.

Here are 10 DIY hacks to maximize your living quarters:

1. Turn to trunks

Vintage suitcases displayed in a corner can pull double duty as storage for sheets and towels if you don't have a linen closet, says Lisa Zaslow, founder and CEO of Gotham Organizers in New York, NY. A large decorative trunk that doubles as a coffee table can hide a home office too. Store file bins, a box for supplies, and a wireless printer inside, and just pop the top when you're ready to work. When you're entertaining, the trunk can be used as a bench for additional seating (just make sure it's sturdy!).

2. Rethink hanging storage pockets

We've all seen those over-the-door organizers that have a million pockets for shoes. But don't limit their use to footwear. If you rent a townhouse with a garage, use these hanging organizers on the door for holding cleaning bottles or scrub brushes. In smaller rentals, sneak in extra storage by adding a hanging organized on a closet door for stashing small canned foods or spice jars. Cut to size, they can be used on bathroom cabinet doors: They are the perfect size to corral hair dryers, brushes, or curling irons.

3. Maximize your sofa space

"Pull your couch 12 inches from the wall and use the space behind it to store suitcases, sports equipment, holiday decorations, and other infrequently used items that are hogging limited closet space," says Zaslow. You can also take it a step further and build a slim "table" that covers the stored items behind your sofa, really camouflaging them from full view. An added bonus? You can put drinks on it when there's no room on your coffee table.

4. Get creative with magnets

For starters, magnetic knife racks can be used beyond knife storage. "In the kitchen, [a magnetic knife rack] can hold measuring cups and spoons," says Zaslow. "In the bathroom, it keeps tweezers, nail clippers, scissors, and bobby pins and barrettes handy. In a home office, it works to hold pens, scissors, clips. In a kid's room, it can hold small cars and trucks." For more magnificent magnet tricks, use a single magnet to attach a small item that's easily misplaced (like tweezers) to the inside of your medicine cabinet.

5. Hang temporary curtains

Landlords usually discourage tenants from hanging curtains, since the rod holders need to be secured into the wall with anchors, and the holes left behind can be unsightly. Circumvent this problem by using large adhesive hooks and setting the rod into the hook. Just make sure your curtains are somewhat lightweight (think sheers or linen panels).

6. Invest in binder clips

That's right, binder clips. These gems have unlimited uses. When clipped to the edge of a desk, they can keep computer cords in place. In the fridge, they can keep bottles in a perfect pyramid. Or they can be used to secure your duvet corner to the duvet cover. The list goes on.

7. Use tension rods to increase your storage space

Apartments can be limited when it comes to cabinet space, so it's important to make use of every square inch. Pick up some tension rods and get to work. Stick one horizontally in your under-the-sink cabinet to hang cleaner bottles from, freeing up the bottom of the cabinet. Alternatively, put a few vertically in a cabinet to keep baking sheets and cutting boards organized. They can also be used in a closet to create a small hanging section (just don't overload it with clothes, or it'll fall!).

8. Eliminate wasted space in the kitchen

Attach hooks with adhesive backs to the wall between your cabinets and countertops or on the bottom of your cabinets to hold mugs, utensils, and gadgets, says Zaslow. (Bonus: They won't cause damage when you remove them.) Or place a cutting board over an unused stove burner or two to extend your counter space.

9. Use a shelf as a table

If you don't have floor space for a nightstand in your bedroom but need a spot to rest a glass of water or reading lamp on, install a small floating shelf as your nightstand. Not only are these relatively inexpensive at home improvement stores, but they also are surprisingly easy to hang - usually just two screws. Floating shelves can also be used couch-side as an end table.

10. Perfect your paper product storage

Paper towels and toilet paper take up a surprising amount of room when you store them under a sink. Use a wall-mounted wine rack to hold paper towels (pro tip: These can also store rolled-up towels) or a hanging closet organizer for both paper towels and TP. Permalink | Email this | Comments


Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs Slashes Price On New Jersey Mansion

2016-02-12 13:45:00

Filed under: Celebrity Homes

By Megan Johnson

The rapper/entrepreneur doesn't have to worry about "mo' money" bringing "mo' problems" to his (surprisingly ordinary) suburban home, because it still hasn't sold.

It's "All About the Benjamins" for Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs, and he's hoping to make a boatload of them on his home for sale in Alpine, NJ. Unfortunately, that's easier said than done. Puff Daddy, who just signed on as Team Pharrell's adviser on The Voice, first put the home on the market back in 2011 for $13.5 million but didn't manage to snag a buyer. He relisted it again last year after a $5 million price cut, and it still didn't sell. Now, he's finally dropped the price even more, landing at the oddly specific price of $7,988,888.

Built back in 1999, the seven-bed, nine-and-a-half-bath home is a stunning brick estate on 3.25 acres of rolling grass and carefully manicured greens. With stunning sunset views and a spot in one of Alpine's most coveted gated communities, the home doesn't skimp on luxury. Its 8,800 square feet include formal living and dining rooms, a great room with a large fireplace, a classic mahogany-paneled library, and a chef's kitchen with a breakfast nook.

Three master bedroom suites have their own sitting rooms and walk-in closets, and a few have fireplace saunas. The three additional bedrooms on the second floor have private, en-suite bathrooms and walk-in closets as well. For the busy household, the basement features a kitchen of its own, as well as a wet bar, custom home theater, aquarium, and an additional bedroom with a full bathroom. Fit in a quick game on the indoor basketball/racquetball court, or head to the fully equipped gym (with a full bath) to get in a workout. Oh, and let's not forget the swimming pool with waterfalls, private putting green, lighted tennis court, or the six-car attached garage, because no professional rapper is going to scurry around town in just one measly Hyundai.

Puff Daddy bought the palatial estate back in 2004 for $6 million. Word is, the taxes on this "Bad Boy (For Life)" are almost $47,000 a year. Ouch! But in the grand tradition of successful rappers, this isn't his only property. Back in 2014, he dropped $40 million on a European-style mansion in the luxe Los Angeles, CA, community of Holmby Hills. Sounds like when Puff Daddy says, "Can't Nobody Hold Me Down," he means it. Permalink | Email this | Comments


Paper Trail: The 19 Documents Required to Buy (or Sell) a Home

2016-02-11 12:49:00

Filed under: Home

By Meaghan Agnew

Before you sign a single page at the closing table, you'll need to have these documents and forms at the ready.

Real estate paperwork can be overwhelming. Simply put, buying or selling a home buries you in printed materials. Some of them are obvious (W2s, bank statements), and some of them are surprising (what's a termite letter anyway?). The key is to start collecting them now - before the time crunch begins.

Below are 19 must-have documents that both buyers and sellers will need in hand during the purchase process on that home for sale in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Note: These are just the most commonly needed documents. Some states require specific certification letters like confirmation of hurricane-grade windows, and in some situations, such as when you're selling to a buyer who's getting a VA loan, you may have to provide additional certifications to secure loan approval. Always, always talk to your real estate agent about the unknowns.

W2s and 1099s

This one is obvious, but you'll want hard-copy proof of your earnings for the previous two tax years. When in doubt, just scan your whole tax return; some mortgage lenders prefer to have your entire return anyway.

Recent paychecks

Most of the time, your last two pay stubs will suffice, but some banks might ask for up to two years' worth of payment records. If you receive payments via direct deposit, printable versions of your paycheck might take some legwork to track down, so it's best to get on top of this one early.

Gift letter

Are you getting an early inheritance from your parents to help cover your down payment? They'll need to write a gift letter making clear that the money is indeed a gift and not a loan. The letter should be addressed to the mortgage company and include, among other elements, the dollar amount, the address of the property you hope to purchase, and the date the funds were transferred.

Proof of any debts

Credit card statements, student loan statements, car loan statements, child support agreements ... you need records of them all. Honesty is key here; "forgetting" to include debts can put your loan approval and closing in jeopardy.

Bank statements

As a buyer, you'll need to offer bank statements as part of your lender's due diligence procedures. They'll look to confirm that your money is "seasoned" (essentially confirming that any financial transfers were completed legally) as a requirement of the USA Patriot Act.

Records of additional assets

This one is less traumatizing. You'll need to gather proof of any other assets, such as mutual fund statements and documents relating to any other real estate or property you own.

Copy of your driver's license

You'll actually need this twice: once during the initial mortgage application process and once at closing. The seller also needs to bring a copy to the closing.

Copy of preapproval letter

Once you start shopping around for a piece of real estate, you'll want to prove your buying power. The preapproval letter details your loan type and amount you've been approved for, plus your interest rate. It's like carrying around your buying résumé.

Purchase & sale (P&S) agreement

The P&S is a legally binding contract, not merely a pinkie-swear promise. As such, you should have your real estate attorney carefully review its terms before you sign it, then be sure to keep it handy as you begin the next stage of the buying process.


It's not unusual to tack on some hard-copy changes to the original P&S, most often involving either the purchase price or the repairs that the seller has agreed to make to the property.

Proof of insurance

At closing, some lenders require proof of home insurance from the buyer, including hazard or flood insurance. Even after you secure the insurance itself, you'll likely need printed copies of the policies.

Certification letters

Two common examples? A termite letter (proof of a clean inspection) and a locate or decommission letter confirming the details of any buried oil tanks on the property. In either case, the responsibility to perform these inspections and provide the resulting certification letters is negotiable. Regardless of who pays, however, lenders frequently to require proof that necessary remediation or containment steps have been made before a sale will close.

Proof of payoffs

Owe money to a plumber, contractor, or another bank for your home equity loan? At closing, a seller will need documentation proving that all debts have been settled.

Lead paint letter

Was your home built before 1978? Then federal law requires you to disclose any lead paint hazards in the dwelling and to give any existing reports to a potential buyer.

Home warranty

Home warranties aren't required during all transactions, but sometimes a buyer will request that the seller provide a policy with a one-year guarantee that ensures the efficacy of the home's systems and appliances. (Good deal for the new buyer!)

Condo docs

Unloading a condo? At some point during the selling process, potential buyers will most likely want to peruse the rules of the condo association; if they're savvy, they might also want to read the minutes of recent association meetings.

Property survey

Property lines are often surprising; even if you've lived in a home for eons, you might be shocked to discover that a sliver of your driveway doesn't technically belong to you. Before selling your place, you'll want to pull up the survey document to assure the buyer that the presumed land is theirs. Lenders may also require that the buyer have a new survey done before the sale can close.

Property tax receipts

Here's another one that can easily slip through the cracks, but as a seller, you'll also need receipts for any property taxes paid in the last couple of weeks. This is a potential point of concern for some home sales, as sometimes the full property tax payments have not been made for the year by the time of the sale - leaving the buyer and seller to negotiate the details of the remaining payments. Currently owed condo or HOA fees are also frequently negotiated in the same way.

Power of attorney

It's rare that a seller will physically show up at a closing, in which case they need printed proof they've turned all negotiating powers over to that attorney in the suit. Permalink | Email this | Comments


A Farm of Miranda Lambert's Own Near Nashville

2016-02-10 14:38:00

Filed under: Home

By Natalie Wise

Country music superstar Miranda Lambert has found a sweet new place outside Nashville to contemplate whether she'll become the Academy of Country Music's "Entertainer of the Year" this spring.
She and ex Blake Shelton were named "Most Desirable Celebrity Neighbors" by a Zillow survey in 2013, but Lambert's only neighbor is nature on this 400-acre spread she landed for $3.4 million.

A recent photo of the farm on Lambert's Instagram page indicates she's doing more strumming than "Smokin' and Drinkin'" at her new Tennessee digs, which has lots of room for friends in its 3-bedroom main home plus two cabins.

The main house is cozy-country-luxury at its best - the perfect place for Lambert to snuggle up to her new love interest, R&B singer Anderson East. A massive stone fireplace dominates the living room, and soaring rustic wood ceilings and fireplaces grace nearly every room.

The animal-loving Lambert, who often posts photos of rescued pets from her no-kill shelter in Oklahoma, Redemption Ranch, has plenty of room for critters on this Tennessee acreage. There's a 2-stall horse barn and plenty of storage, plus a 6-car garage for horsepower of a different sort. The garage is topped by another studio-style apartment - presumably for a caretaker.

A large lake provides water recreation right in the backyard, complete with a boat dock and canoe storage.

Lambert won't even have to go into the big city to give a concert. An open-air pavilion on the grounds seats 60, and has a stage perfect for a private show - perhaps "The House That Built Me" and a little "Kerosene."

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Mortgage Rate Falls to 3.43%

2016-02-09 15:26:00

Filed under: Financing

By Lauren Braun

Mortgage rates for 30-year fixed mortgages fell this week, with the current rate borrowers were quoted on Zillow at 3.43 percent, down 7 basis points from last week.

The 30-year fixed mortgage rate hovered around 3.47 percent for most of the week before falling to the current rate.

"Mortgage rates fell last week to their lowest levels since May 2013 due to continuing financial market turmoil, concern about oil prices and shifting central bank policies overseas," said Erin Lantz, vice president of mortgages at Zillow. "Financial market developments should continue to dominate headlines this week, as well as expected congressional testimony by Fed Chair Janet Yellen. Rates could move lower if her comments are more dovish than expected."

Additionally, the 15-year fixed mortgage rate was 2.66 percent, and for 5/1 ARMs, the rate was 2.59 percent.

Check Zillow 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

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2300 South 9th St, Suite GR1
Arlington  Virginia 22204


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© 2016 Metropolitan Regional Information Systems®. All rights reserved.

Information Deemed Reliable, but Not Guaranteed. The property information being provided is for consumers’ personal, non-commercial use and may not be used for any purpose other than to identify prospective properties consumers may be interested in purchasing. The data relating to real estate for sale on this web site comes in part from the participating Brokers.

Last updated on Feb 14, 2016.