Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Posted On January 29th, 2015 by McEnearney | No Comments

Cozy Fire

Ever felt like you didn’t want to leave the house? We know the feeling. Here’s a list of fun things to do in your home while hopefully avoiding cabin fever!

Blog It – There are infinite options and topics for fun and inspiring blogs. You’d be surprised how many good reads you will find. And if you’re feeling really adventurous, go ahead and start your own!

Cook Up A Storm – The aroma of fresh baked cookies or a hearty beef stew will make you never want to leave the house. Try your hand at some new recipes and maybe even host a chili cook off. The parties don’t have to stop just because the holidays have ended.

DVR Magic – Set the timer and let the magic begin. During the work week, it’s difficult to watch all your favorite shows. Invest in a DVR system and catch up on all the episodes you’ve been dying to watch.

Game Night – When was the last time you played a board game? Go ahead. Open your closet and dust off that Monopoly box and have some good quality fun buying and trading properties. You might get a feel for what it’s like to be a REALTOR®!

Get Lost – Pick up your favorite book or purchase a new e-read this season and get lost in its pages. A cozy fire, a wool blanket, and an adventurous book can always be the perfect escape.

Redecorate – Is there 1960’s wallpaper still up in your bathroom? Pick a room and take on a redecorating project. Whether it’s peeling down wallpaper, painting or just rearranging furniture, the project can be fun and refreshing.

Super Bowl Planning – It’s never too early to test out recipes and plan your Super Bowl party. February 1st will be here before you know it. Whether your team is in the Super Bowl or not, it’s always fun to break out the dip and have a party.


Need Help Surviving Winter? Snow Problem!

Posted On January 22nd, 2015 by McEnearney | No Comments


Brrr! Are you ready for winter storms? And is your home prepared to take on the force of Mother Nature? The cold can be harmful if we do not take action before the storms. Consider these tips to help protect your home, your car, and you, as the winter months become full force.
Home TLC – Give your home the love it needs as we get ready for the next few months of snow. Be sure to clean your gutters. This is important so water can flow freely to help prevent the formation of icicles. And use your ceiling fan – it’s not just for the warmer months. Set the fan to move clockwise to push the hot air along the ceiling to the floor. Also consider insulating your windows. They may keep the cold from coming in, but if not properly insulated they will allow heat to escape.

Car Care – We spend most of our time in the car traveling to work, running errands and visiting family and friends. But so many of us forget our vehicle’s basic car care needs, and doing this can be detrimental – especially during the winter months. Check the tread on your tires, wear on the wipers, and test your battery. All of these can be done with a quick basic tune-up. And don’t forget, never leave home without extra windshield wiper fluid!

Invest in Warmth – Don’t forget to bundle up. How many times did we hear that as a kid? Well it’s as true today as it was back then. The cold air and drop in temperatures can be harmful to your health. And who wants to burn up all your sick days during the first month of the new year? The key to surviving this season is layers upon layers. As the saying goes, go big or stay home.

Stay warm and safe this winter season!


Dreaming Of A Getaway?

Posted On January 15th, 2015 by McEnearney | No Comments

Dreaming of a Getaway

I’m dreaming of a white…beach, palm trees, and salty air. The holidays are over and now more than ever a getaway sounds like the perfect remedy for the wintertime blues.

Have you ever wanted to have a second home or a snowbird getaway? It may be a great time to consider investing in a vacation spot. Ideally, we know most of you would enjoy the warmth of the sun to escape the cold; although, some may prefer a cabin in the mountains with a comforting countryside fire.

Whatever your getaway dream may be, remember our Relocation Services offer expert information on potential properties across the world. Thanks to our coveted affiliation with Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, we are connected with top brokerages around the globe. We can help you personally select a company and an agent that is right for you. Some important tips to remember when purchasing your vacation home are to buy what you can afford, calculate extra cost-insurance, utilities, and find a location that’s popular with renters. A good REALTOR® can help you navigate the many difficult questions and ensure you find a getaway that’s perfect for you.

If you have questions, we have answers. We would be happy to connect you with our team. Please let us know if we can help you get into your vacation dream home this year.


Winter Clearance!

Posted On January 8th, 2015 by McEnearney | No Comments

Winter Clearance

Remember that not-so-attractive sweater you received as a present this holiday? Well, consider keeping the tags on it, because after the holiday sales are right around the corner. And you may also find some great deals in the winter real estate market, too!

Believe it or not, winter can be a favorable time to sell or buy a home. There is less competition from other sellers and buyers during the winter months, which gives you more room to negotiate a favorable price and be advantageous in what is considered a serious market. We don’t put on those boots and scarves and fight through the cold of winter just to window shop, do we?

Remarkably, 30-year fixed mortgage interest rates also remain extremely low – just under 4%. Did you know that in the 1970s the average mortgage rate was 8.86%? That’s more than twice what it is today! At only 3.97%, home buyers are taking advantage of today’s historic low rates. 30-year mortgage rates are at their lowest point and their best levels in more than a year. It is a great time to buy and sell!

David Howell

Online Real Estate Sites Spur Rethinking Among Traditional Brokerages

Posted On January 7th, 2015 by David Howell | Comment (1)
imrs (1)

(Scott Eells/BLOOMBERG)

One of the topics generating a lot of buzz — and a lot of consternation — in the real estate business these days is “control.”  Everyone is worried about controlling the search process, or controlling the creation, compilation and dissemination of data, and biggest of, control of the customer.

Some in our industry are wringing their hands over the fact that the overwhelming majority of home buyers identify the house they eventually buy on the Internet, and that some of the most popular online real estate portals have wrestled control of the home search process away from us.

We’re worried that we’ve lost control of the listing data that we work so hard to produce, that others have repurposed or misused our data.  And the big one is that we have somehow lost control of the customer — they’ve bled off to these national portals, or to mortgage lenders, or heaven forbid, they go and to the transaction themselves.

Here’s the reality: You can’t lose something you never had. We have never controlled the search process for real estate, we’ve never controlled the data and we certainly have never controlled the customer. And we’re kidding ourselves if we think we did, could or should truly control any of those things.

The process of searching for a house has changed significantly with the advent and pervasiveness of the Internet.  In 2001, 13 percent of home buyers identified the house they bought on the Internet  – and today it’s approaching 80 percent.  In the old days, folks relied on newspaper ads, yard signs, friends, neighbors and co-workers.  In 2001, 69 percent of home buyers used an agent or broker — today, it’s 88 percent.  That’s because it isn’t about controlling the search process — it is and always has been about providing value to the transaction.

We don’t control the data.  We can and should rigorously enforce our copyrights to unique information, but our listing data are just pieces of the overall real estate portfolio — tax records, insurance info, demographic records, home plans and blueprints, mortgage loans and credit report — so we should recognize what we have and what we don’t have.

And what we clearly have is accurate data.  On a Friday afternoon in November, using Zip codes where we have offices, we compared the number of all agent-listed, fully available listings in the multiple-listing service with those on our Web site and two popular national sites.

Out of almost 1,000 listings, we were off by one, while one of the national sites showed almost 28 percent too many properties and the other national site showed 30 percent too few.  The first national site simply doesn’t update its data on a timely basis, and the other one has the same problem compounded by the fact that lots of sellers don’t want their homes on a site with inaccurate estimates of the market value.

Most importantly, we have never met a consumer who wants to be controlled. And there is not a lack of choices in real estate service providers. In our multiple listing system, there are more than 4,000 real estate companies and 40,000 agents.  Sellers can sell by owner and buyers can work directly through a seller.  There are discount brokers and full service brokers and everything in between.

None of us are entitled to anything — we have to earn it with every single client, every single transaction.  If we’re good enough, if we bring enough knowledge and skill to the table, create a brand and try to build long-lasting relationships then we have a chance to earn the business.  And that’s exactly how it should be.


January Home & Auto Shows

Posted On January 4th, 2015 by McEnearney | No Comments

Home & Auto Show


Don’t miss these great home and auto shows happening near you this January.

Washington Winter Antiques & Fine Arts Show
January 9 – 11
Not only are there great finds, but the Washington Winter Show was founded in 1955 for the purpose of raising funds for local charitable organizations. During the past sixty years, the show has raised more than eight million dollars to help at-risk children and families in Washington, DC. The beneficiaries of the 2015 Show are The Founders Board of St. John’s Community Services, the Bishop John T. Walker School for Boys and THEARC.

International Motorcycle Show
January 9 – 11
The International Motorcycle Show at the Washington Convention Center showcases the latest sport bikes, dirt bikes, cruisers, scooters, ATVs, and more. This family-friendly event includes a motorcycle stunt show, celebrity appearances, an exotics pavilion featuring rare high-end motorcycles, digital graffiti walls to design a custom Kawasaki bike, and a Women Ride Center for the ladies.

Home and Remodeling Show
January 23 – 25
You’ll get some tips and tricks when you explore the ultimate Open House at the Dulles Expo Center this January. Celebrity guest appearances and workshops will get your creative juices flowing as you look to decorate or remodel your home. See first-hand, thousands of products and services along with what’s new in home decor for 2015.

Washington Auto Show
January 23 – February 1
Car lovers unite at this annual event held in the Washington Convention Center. With over 700 new makes and models of cars, this is a show you won’t want to miss. If you have ever dreamed of sitting in a brand new Mercedes, Hummer, or even that Punch Buggy Volkswagen, this is your chance. Not to mention there are free car giveaways, special entertainment and children’s activities. Start your engines!

I really do hope you have a chance to experience at least one of the home shows, and be sure to let us know which is your favorite by commenting below!


Lost to Your Device?

Posted On January 1st, 2015 by McEnearney | No Comments

Lost to Your Device

It’s OK – we’re addicted to our technology, too. And that’s why we are dedicated to providing you with the best online tools available when searching for your next home. Next time you swipe that screen, swipe on over to! There is no better place to find local information about our amazing communities.

Curious about a neighborhood? We feature real-time information on what it’s like to live in nearly 70 different communities in the Greater DC Metro Area. From Frederick County, Maryland down to Spotsylvania County, Virginia, and all the many neighborhoods of DC, you can find detailed information on what kind of housing is available, what the local schools are like, neighborhood demographics, public transportation options, and much more.

It’s a new year. Why not think about a new home? Looking never hurt anyone. We know the weather is cold and gloomy, but that doesn’t stop you from dreaming. Sit back and enjoy the search online. Take the time to learn more about the area you might want to call your new home.


New Year Goals: Time to Declutter?

Posted On December 22nd, 2014 by McEnearney | No Comments


A New Year means a New You! Now is a time to be more thoughtful of you. Whether it’s managing debt or saving money, we all have a few things we can improve on. Take a look at your linen closet. Is it eye-appealing or does it make you want to scream every time you open the door? We could all use some re-organization from time to time. Let’s declutter.

Each item should have a designated spot, towels on one shelf and linens on the next. Try adding some fun printable labels to keep yourself from losing your mind when looking for this month’s bills, or on the kitchen canister – is that flour or sugar?

Grab a trash bag and see how quickly you can fill it with items you no longer need. Also, when was the last time you cleaned out your closet? Try the Closet Hanger Experiment. Place your clothes on hangers in the reverse direction, and when you wear an item rehang it in the correct direction. In about six months, you will notice that sweater with the hole never gets worn.

Implement decluttering methods in all parts of your home. Also consider donating the items you discard to help others in need. Take these tips and tricks into consideration, especially if you’re trying to sell your home. A clean and clutter-free environment is more appealing and will make you feel better, too.


How Much Can Your Home Save You?

Posted On December 19th, 2014 by McEnearney | No Comments

Dreaming A Home

It’s a new year and that means only one thing – tax adjustments from the IRS. Okay, not exactly what you had in mind, but there are some great tax breaks available to homeowners. Everyone’s situation is different, and it is always a good idea to talk with your financial advisor, but here’s a look at some of the potential tax benefits you can consider. And you can thank your home later.

Mortgage Interest – That’s right! In most cases, you can deduct every penny of interest paid on your home loan.

Late Payment Charges – What? Slackers do get rewarded. You may be able to deduct a late payment charge as home mortgage interest.

Prepayment Penalties – And for those of you who are not slackers, well you get a tax break too. If you pay off your home mortgage early and are required to pay a prepayment penalty, you can deduct it as home mortgage interest.

Points – For those of us who paid for points in order to secure a better interest rate, this expense may be deductible in the year you paid them. Other terms for points are: loan origination fees, maximum loan charges, loan discount, and discount points.

Real Estate Taxes – Most can deduct annual taxes paid based on the assessed value of your property.

Home Improvements – Keep those receipts! You can’t deduct the expenses now, but when you sell your home the cost of the improvements can be added to the purchase price to help reduce taxable gain that may accrue from the sale of your home.

Mortgage Debt Forgiveness – If you sold your home as a short sale in 2014, Congress has extended the tax relief originally passed in 2007, so you won’t have to show any mortgage debt forgiveness as income.

Beginning in 2014, Mortgage Insurance Premiums (also known as PMI) are no longer deductible. If you desire a reduced or no cost utility bill, there are also great energy efficient benefits available that are set to be phased out as early as 2016.


2015 Housing Market Forecast: Still Solid

Posted On December 19th, 2014 by McEnearney | No Comments

Young couple with cardboard house

Curious to know what the housing market will look like this year? We were, too. The significant differences in the real estate market among the various jurisdictions in the DC Metro Area were more evident than usual in 2014, and we anticipate more of the same in 2015.

New contract activity is the most important indicator of the direction of the market. For all of 2014, Northern Virginia and Loudoun County saw a drop of about 10% in the number of new contracts, Montgomery County was off by 5%, and the District was down only about 1%.

None of this means that 2014 was a bad year – it just wasn’t as robust as the 2013 market, which was extremely fast paced with sales prices rising quickly across all price ranges. Average sales prices are up compared to last year in every jurisdiction, and properties are selling an average of anywhere from 37 days (DC) to 50 days (Montgomery County). Those are signs of still-healthy markets.

The biggest change we saw in 2014 was a jump in the number of homes on the market. Compared to the end of 2013, DC had 7% more homes for sale and the suburbs saw increases closer to 40%. And that tells us a lot about what to expect in the first half of 2015. More inventory means more choices for buyers, so there will be less upward pressure on prices.

Overall, we expect 2015 will end up looking a lot like 2014 for the region’s real estate market.