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June 11, 2016

Washington D.C.’s Most Common Housing Styles

shaw_rowhouses Home sale listings contain a variety of specialized terms sellers and real estate agents use to describe the listed property. Among the most common: terms that describe the style of the house itself, like “Tudor,” “Federal,” and “Beaux Arts.” You’ve probably seen these terms before, but do you know exactly what they mean? Test your housing style smarts against these short descriptions of Washington D.C.’s most common housing styles:
  • Beaux Arts. This French-inspired style was popular with architects from 1890 to 1930 – the “Gilded Age” when ornate architecture and intricate iron or woodwork played an important role in housing styles.
  • Bungalow. Only one to one and a half stories tall, bungalow houses feature low-pitched roofs and a covered veranda either in front of or behind the home
  • On the outside, Colonial homes have highly symmetrical facades, with entrances in the center and shuttered windows on either side. Inside, these stately houses feature practical floor plans and economical use of space.
  • Known for bright, open interior spaces, contemporary homes have clean, modern architecture, lots of windows, and angular designs that look more modern than Colonial homes and feature less ornamentation than Beaux Arts designs.
  • Drawing inspiration from ancient Roman architecture, homes built in the Federal style are normally 2-3 stories tall, with covered verandas and simple, clean architectural lines.
  • Row Houses. In many ways, the term “row house” actually refers to a form of construction—where several houses sit side by side and share a common wall with the house beside them. Row houses come in many architectural styles, from Victorian and Tudor to Federal.
  • Tudor. Known for their asymmetrical facades, wood-framed doors and windows, and European feel, Tudor-style homes are easily recognized by their pointed roofs, gables, and often-elaborate masonry.
  • Steeply pitched roofs, elaborately textured walls, and Gothic-inspired details give Victorian houses a distinctive “dollhouse” feel. Large bay windows, wood or stone walls, and even towers are common features of the Victorian style.
Architectural styles are a kind of “real estate shorthand” that helps buyers, sellers, and realtors quickly identify features of the listed home. Knowing the type of home you own can help you market it properly by emphasizing the features your home’s architectural style is known for. As a buyer, an understanding of architectural styles will help you narrow your search to the types of houses you’re drawn to, shortening your search and helping you find your ideal home.
June 5, 2016

How to Recognize The Warning Signs of Toxic Mold

mold Mold comes in many varieties. Some, like penicillum, help ripen tasty cheeses or create life-saving antibiotics. Unfortunately, some other molds make people sick, and long-term exposure to toxic molds can cause serious or even fatal injuries. Many homeowners don’t realize their houses have problems with toxic mold until they or a family member show signs of illness. Don’t make that mistake. Inspect your home regularly, and contact a professional mold removal company immediately if you notice mold or experience the symptoms of mold exposure. Here are some common warning signs of toxic mold:
  • Visible mold on walls, in cabinets, or under sinks.In the early stages of mold growth, homeowners often mistake mold for dust, soot, or even shadows. Beware: minimal mold growth on a wall may be a sign of a larger colony growing out of sight inside the wall.
  • Unusual or worsening allergies (or allergy-like symptoms). Common symptoms of mold exposure include congestion, difficulty breathing, coughing, burning, itching, or watering eyes, and worsening of asthma and other respiratory ailments. Many homeowners mistake these symptoms for other ailments, which can create a life-threatening situation because mold becomes more dangerous over time.
  • Excessive condensation.Windows occasionally “steam up” in cold weather or after a person takes a shower, but if your home experiences regular or excessive condensation—either throughout the house or in a specific room—you should take steps to solve the problem and also arrange for a mold inspection.
Although mold thrives in damp environments, toxic mold can also continue to grow when the dampness passes: for example, after a flood has dried up or a water leak has been repaired. Even if you don’t notice signs of mold initially, the spores can get a foothold and grow over time. Inspect your house for mold on a regular basis, paying special attention to dark, humid areas where mold can thrive. Bathrooms, kitchens, and cabinets are particularly susceptible. Contact a mold remediation specialist at the first sign of mold infestation, and ensure you clean, disinfect, and repair the damage properly and promptly. Your health, and that of your family, is at stake. If you’re planning to sell your home, be aware that mold can seriously impact the selling price. Many buyers won’t purchase a house with mold problems, and others will request complete remediation and repairs before the close of escrow. As an alternative, you may want to consider selling your house to 4 Brothers Buy Houses—we will even buy houses with mold! Want to know more? Click here for more information and a fast, no-obligation quote today.
May 28, 2016

4 Warning Signs of Roof Leaks – And How To Avoid Them

roof-leaking-water-damage A leaking roof can cause thousands of dollars of damage to a house. When not repaired promptly, roof leaks can create structural problems as well as cosmetic ones, and roof leaks also significantly reduce the selling price of a home. If you notice any of these warning signs in your home or roof, be sure to repair them or contact a professional roofing company promptly, to avoid more serious damage:
  • Spots or stains on ceilings. Water leaking in through a roof will eventually make itself known through spots on ceilings (and sometimes upper parts of walls). Never ignore ceiling spots, because they may indicate serious damage in parts of the house you cannot see.
  • Curling, warping, or buckling shingles. Damaged shingles or roofing tiles provide a place for water and condensation to enter the roof. Sometimes, damaged shingles and tiles are the cause of the leak, but they may also indicate a separate problem, like inadequate attic ventilation.
  • Indoor mold. Mold thrives in damp environments. The presence of mold inside a house often indicates either a leaking roof or other water-related damage, such as broken pipes or foundation problems.
  • Clogged gutters. Not all blocked gutters are signs of a roof leak, but if the clog is caused by shingle granules or other roofing materials, the clog may signal a loss of roof integrity—or a leak. Clean your gutters regularly, and call a professional roofing company if you notice roofing material in the gutter or drain.
What should you do if you discover one or more of these leak-related problems? Call a professional roofing company promptly and arrange for a roof inspection. Many times, homeowners put off roofing repairs and maintenance because they believe—mistakenly—that there isn’t a problem until they notice a leak inside the house. Unfortunately, by the time enough water seeps inside to create a noticeable stain, the leak may have caused significant damage to roofing, insulation, ceiling beams and other major structural components of the home. Contacting a professional at the first sign of potential problems can significantly reduce the cost of repairs, and may help you avoid a costly roof replacement. Remember: big problems often begin as little ones, and minor leaks don’t “heal” themselves. Time can easily turn a small repair into a costly renovation. Paying attention to your roof, walls, and ceilings can alert you to potential problems and help you keep your home leak-free.
May 21, 2016

April 2016 Housing Sales and Market Update For Washington, D.C. & Surrounding Area

medianmay2016 4 Brothers Buy Houses is proud to share this update on current Washington D.C. area housing sales and market conditions.* In April, D.C. Area Median Housing Prices Reached a Ten-Year High: In April, the median overall home sale price in Washington D.C. and the surrounding area was $419,250, which represents the highest April median sale price in a decade.. Home sale prices increased in all D.C. area counties, with median sale prices an average of 5% higher than March 2016 sales figures. Regional Housing Sales, Inventory,& Listings Increased Slightly in April 2016: According to figures published by RBIntel.com: 4,678 home sales closed successfully in Washington D.C. and the surrounding counties in April 2016, and half of those houses were on the market 14 days or less – a 30-day increase in average days-on-market since February 2016. 6,647 homes were listed as “sale pending” at the end of April, an increase of more than 7% over April 2015 and an increase over the numbers for in both February and March of 2016. These figures reflect sale increases in all residential housing types, including condominiums, townhouses, and single-family detached homes. 8,809 new sales listings were reported in Washington D.C. and the surrounding counties last month, only a 1% gain over last year but still the highest total number of new monthly listings since April 2010.Significant increases in new listings often result in a drop in area sales prices, since more inventory on the market means more buyer choice, but the April median sales price increase suggests that the market remains strong for sellers, at least so far. Average “Days on Market” Fell Significantly in April 2016. In February 2016, the median days-on-market for listed homes was 44 days; that number dropped to only 14 average days-on-market in April, which suggests the market for well-priced homes is healthy and inventory is moving (when the price is right). During April, the slowest regional market was Prince George’s County (April median days-on-market: 25), and Alexandria City and Washington D.C. shared the lowest median DOM last month—in both cities, average days-on-market was only 10. Sales numbers vary from county to county, and even among neighborhoods, and the speed and success of a housing sale is dependent on many factors, from listing price to home condition and comparable listings in the area. Your personal experience may vary, but knowing the average numbers is still helpful when making plans to sell your home, either through a realtor or to an investor.
May 14, 2016

How to Prepare Your Home For an Open House

OpenHouse Whether you list your home for sale with a real estate agent or “For Sale By Owner,” you’re likely to hold an open house (and often, more than one) in hopes of attracting potential buyers. However, a successful open house requires more than merely turning on lights and opening doors. Proper preparation, and a little extra effort, often makes the difference between a sale and an empty open house. Here are some top industry tips to prepare for a successful open house:
  1. Clean and De-Clutter Thoroughly (Including Closets and Cabinets).Dirt and clutter make houses far less attractive to potential buyers. Your house will never get a second chance to make a sparkling first impression, so make sure it’s clean and organized when buyers come to call.
  1. Hire a Gardening Service. Fresh-mowed lawns and weed-free gardens make a good impression. Consider hiring a gardener while your house is on the market, to ensure great curb appeal for open houses (and for people driving by).
  1. Repair Obvious Damage. Leaking faucets, broken doors, and other obvious signs of damage turn potential buyers off, preventing a sale or reducing the offer price.
  1. Stage Your Home For Maximum Effect. “Staging”means arranging the furnishings in a home to show off the space to best advantage. Whether you use your existing belongings or hire a professional to stage your home for sale, staging can improve the appearance—and sale price—of your home.
  1. Remove Displays of Personal, Political, & Religious Items.When Buyers tour an open house, they try to imagine themselves in the space—calling it home, and living there. Many buyers have trouble looking past the sellers’ personal items, including religious and political displays with which the buyers may not agree. This isn’t a criticism of your personal taste or beliefs; it’s a documented reality of the home selling market.
  1. Vacate the Premises, & Take Your Pets.Obviously, if your house is For Sale By Owner, someone has to stay and oversee the open house, but all unnecessary family members (and all household pets) should leave for the duration of the open house.
  1. Secure Valuable Items in Safes or Safe Deposit Boxes. Don’t leave valuable items, like jewelry or laptop computers, on display or in easily accessible locations. Thieves do visit open houses, and even vigilant real estate agents can’t always prevent a theft. Lock valuable items in safes or remove them from the premises before the open house begins.
While these tips can’t guarantee a sale—and they aren’t the only things smart sellers do to prepare for an open house—following them can help you avoid the worst open house mistakes, and give your home the best possible chance of finding a buyer at your open house.
May 7, 2016

How to List Your Home “For Sale By Owner”

house-shaped-stock-fsbo Skipping the real estate agent and listing your home “For Sale By Owner” can save you thousands of dollars in real estate commissions. Many homeowners list and sell their houses directly to buyers, and though the process does require extra work on the seller-owner’s part, many people consider the savings worth the extra effort. While you should always consider all the available options, and consult a licensed attorney before undertaking any legal obligation—including selling a house–on your own, here are some tips to make the “FSBO” process easier and more likely to yield a successful, profitable sale:
  1. Research the Market & Price Your House to Sell.Investors and real estate agents, as well as buyers, look for well-priced homes, meaning houses whose listing price is comparable to similar homes on the market (or recently sold) in the area. Before you set a price for your home, investigate recent sales and sale prices for nearby houses of similar size and condition.
  1. Stage Your Home For Maximum Appeal.“Staging”means decorating a home—inside and out—to show off its positive qualities (and minimize any negatives). Planting flowers, cleaning and de-cluttering indoor spaces, and renting or arranging existing furniture in decorative ways can make your house more attractive to buyers.
  1. Invest in Effective Advertising.Buyers can’t buy a home they can’t find! Write effective listing ads that use key words and phrases like “Excellent Schools,” “Large Yard,” and “Priced Below Market,” and place your ads in the real estate section of your local paper, on real estate listing websites, or on the MLS—the service real estate agents use to identify homes for sale.
  1. Create Professional-Looking Flyers.Create an information sheet with professional photographs of your home (inside and out) and other relevant information, including the listing price, square footage, number of bedrooms and baths, and any other special features potential buyers might find of interest. When people visit your home, at open houses or by appointment, offer a copy of the flyer to take with them when they go.
  1. Hire a Lawyer to Help With Contracts& Paperwork.Selling a home will require you to complete and sign a number of important legal documents, including (but not limited to) the sales contract. Hiring a lawyer will cost some money, but also helps protect you against mistakes in the legal part of the home sale process.
Although these tips can’t guarantee a problem-free sale (or that your home will sell at all), homeowners who treat their FSBO listing in a professional manner generally have more success at selling houses quickly and at an appropriate price. If selling your house “for sale by owner” seems like too much trouble, and you don’t want to go through the hassle of hiring a real estate agent to list your home, you can also consider selling directly to an investor, which normally takes less time, and far less effort, than either a FSBO or the traditional listing process. 4 Brothers Buy Houses will purchase your home in any condition, won’t ask for credits or costly repairs, and can normally close a sale in less than two weeks. Click here for more information, or to request a free quote today.
April 30, 2016

How to Recognize Signs of Dry Rot in Your Home, & How to Fix It

home-repair Most homeowners have seen “dry rot” – a condition where wooden siding, beams, and other wooden parts of a house become weak and brittle – but many don’t understand the causes of dry rot, or how to protect against it. Dry rot is caused by a wood-destroying fungus that can move through other materials, enabling it to reach protected wood as well as wood exposed to the elements. Despite its name, dry rot actually requires a significant amount of moisture (in the wood) to establish itself, and is most common in wet or humid environments, both inside and outside the home. The fungus can cause significant structural damage if allowed to spread unchecked, and recognizing dry rot early can avoid thousands of dollars in costly repairs. Here are some common signs of dry rot infestation in wooden surfaces:
  • Damp, Musty Odors. Dry rot occurs most commonly in wet or humid areas, because the dry rot fungus requires a damp environment to thrive. Damp or musty odors emanating from wooden surfaces can indicate fungal growth.
  • Brown, red, or grey “skin” on wooden surfaces (with or without thread-like strand or fiber growth). If you notice anything growing on the wooden portions of your home, especially growths that look like mold, mushroomsor “skin,” contact a dry rot expert immediately.
  • Shrunken, cracked, or darkened wood. If wooden surfaces inside or outside your home begin to look unusual, especially if the wood appears shrunken or darkened, dry rot may be present.
If you notice any of these symptoms, or suspect dry rot has invaded your home, consult an expert immediately. Delay will only make the condition worse. Experts may use some or all of these methods to help eliminate the fungus and fix your home:
  • Treating impacted boards with fungicides. Only certain fungicides work on dry rot, but the effective ones kill the fungus and stop further damage. Fungicidal treatments are most effective in the early phases of dry rot infestations.
  • Removal of affected wood and replacement with pre-treated boards.Once dry rot impacts the integrity of siding or other wooden structures, stopping the fungus requires removal of the impacted wood, which will normally be replaced with boards pre-treated with anti-dry rot fungicides.
  • Masonry sterilization. Where evidence suggests the dry rot fungus passed through other building materials to reach the impacted wooden area, experts may recommend sterilization of masonry and other non-wooden materials to help prevent the fungus from returning.
Dry rot can also reduce the selling price of a home—sometimes significantly—because buyers normally expect the seller to pay to repair any dry rot discovered during the escrow and inspection process. Sellers who want to avoid this expense should consider selling the house directly to an investor, like 4 Brothers Buy Houses, instead. 4 Brothers Buy Houses will purchase your home in any condition, and won’t reduce the price after the offer is accepted if the house has dry rot issues.Click here for more information, or to request a free quote today.
April 23, 2016

March 2016 Housing Sales and Market Update For Washington, D.C. & Surrounding Area

Marchsales *Market information courtesy of RBIntel.com 4 Brothers Buy Houses is proud to share this update on current Washington D.C. area housing sales and market conditions.* Overall, Area Housing Prices Increased Over February 2016 Prices: In March, the median home sale price in Washington D.C. and the surrounding area was $399,000, an average of $19,000 more than February 2015 (though slightly lower than home sale prices in March of 2015). Most counties showed increased housing prices, as did the D.C. Metro area, though the greater Washington D.C. area had a slight decline. Regionally, home sale prices show overall increases since the start of the year, a fairly normal trend as the weather improves and we enter the spring sales season. Regional Housing Sales, Inventory,&New Listings AlsoIncreased in March 2016: According to figures published by RBIntel.com: 3,755 home sales closed successfully in Washington D.C. and surrounding counties in March 2016, and half of those houses were on the market 27 days or less – a significant improvement over the 44-day average DOM for the previous month. 6,165 homes were listed as “sale pending” at the end of March, an increase of 11% over March 2015.These figures reflect increases in all residential housing types – good news, regardless of the type of home you want to sell. March brought 8,352 reported new listings in Washington D.C. and the surrounding area, 22% above the 5-year average. Although increases in listings and inventory often mean lower prices on the horizon, as buyer choice increases, a booming sales market may counteract this trend—we’ll know in the weeks and months to come. Lower “Days on Market” Means Faster Sales, But Also Encourages More Listings. In March, the median days-on-market for listed homes was 27, a significant decrease from February 2016 (median days-on-market: 44). Condos sold fastest in March, with an average of only 24 dayson the market. Sales numbers and days on market vary from county to county, and even among neighborhoods, and the speed and success of a housing sale is dependent on many factors, from listing price to home condition and comparable listings in the area. Your personal experience may vary, but knowing the average numbers is still helpful when making plans to sell your home, either through a realtor or to an investor. The fastest “days on market” sales usually happen when homeowners sell a property directly to investors for cash, with no inspections, repair requests, or extended escrow procedures. 4 Brothers Buy Houses can close a sale in less than two weeks, putting cash in your pocket without any hassle. To find out more, or find out what your home is worth, request a free, no-obligation quote today.
April 8, 2016

Four Important Tips to Protect Your Guests at Parties and Open Houses

dinnerparty Spring is the start of outdoor party season, and also a time when many homeowners put their properties up for sale. The welcome return of good weather makes people long to spend more time outdoors, and open house visitors often like to tour the yard as well as the indoor parts of a listed property. Property owners—and sellers—often have a legal duty to prevent foreseeable injuries to guests and other people who enter the property. Sometimes, the property owner is legally liable even if the dangerous condition was unknown before the injury occurred. Here are three important homeowner safety tips to keep your family, guests, and prospective buyers safe at parties and during open houses: Inspect Your Property Before the Event Whether you’re planning an indoor party, a poolside bash, or an open house for a property that’s on the market, take the time to look for hazards before the event begins. Remember to check both indoor and outdoor spaces, even if you don’t expect the guests to use the yard (or house). Repair or Screen off Damaged or Dangerous Areas If your visual inspection reveals damage—for example, broken or rotting deck boards just revealed by melting winter snow—try to repair the damage before your party or open house begins. If time is short, screen off the dangerous area and post a warning sign where guests and visitors can see. Closing off entire rooms might work for a party, but if you’re planning an open house, repair the hazards if you can. Blocking off parts of the property is a major turn-off for prospective buyers. Install Pool Gates and Fences, and Inspect Pool Covers Carefully Swimming pools make for great summer fun, but pools are also hazardous, especially for children. Before your party or open house, make sure your pool has legally-compliant fencing and inspect the fence and gates. Gates should close automatically, fasten securely, and latch high enough from the ground to prevent a child from reaching them. Make Sure all Staircases Have Stable, Functional Railings Check the stability and security of stairs, and especially staircase railings, before a party or open house. Railings should be secure, and capable of holding the weight of a leaning adult or child. Remember: children, elderly, and disabled people may need to use the railings, and broken or wobbly handrails create a serious threat of falls. A simple walk-through of your home before a party or open house can help keep guests and potential buyers safe and happy, leading to happy events and hopefully a successful sale.
March 26, 2016

February 2016 Housing Sales and Market Update For Washington, D.C. & Surrounding Area

medianfeb2016 *Market information courtesy of RBIntel.com 4 Brothers Buy Houses is proud to share this update on current Washington D.C. area housing sales and market conditions.* Overall, Area Housing Prices Decreased Compared With February 2015, but Show Slight Increases in 2016:   In February, the median overall home sale price in Washington D.C. and the surrounding area was $380,000, an average of $10,000 less than sales prices in February 2015. Some counties did see slight increases in housing prices, but these were offset by lower overall prices in the region.   However, home sale prices were slightly higher last month than in January 2016, indicating a small market increase since the start of the year.     Regional Housing Sales, Inventory,& Listings Increased in February 2016:   According to figures published by RBIntel.com:   2,874 home sales closed successfully in Washington D.C. and surrounding counties in February 2016, and half of those houses were on the market 44 days or less. 4,533 homes were listed as “sale pending” at the end of February, an increase of 32.4% over January’s numbers.   These figures reflect sale increases in all residential housing types, with condominiums, townhouses, and single-family detached homes all showing higher total sales numbers.   As of the end of February 2016, there were 8,293 homes “for sale” in the region, approximately the same as the month before but a slight increase compared with the number of homes for sale during January and February 2015.   In February there were 5,171 reported new sale listings in Washington D.C. and the surrounding area, a number 8.5% above the 5-year average. This increase in new listings may be partially responsible for the drop in some area sales prices; more inventory on the market means more buyer choice, which often has a negative impact on sales prices.   Increased Inventory Often Means More “Days on Market” Before a Sale.   In February, the median days-on-market for listed homes was 44 days, the same as median days-on-market during January, and a slight increase from February 2015 (when the median days-on-market number was 42).   The region’s fastest-selling area is Washington, D.C. (February median days-on-market: 20), and the slowest February regional market was in Falls Church City (February median days-on-market: 107).   Sales numbers vary from county to county, and even among neighborhoods, and the speed and success of a housing sale is dependent on many factors, from listing price to home condition and comparable listings in the area. Your personal experience may vary, but knowing the average numbers is still helpful when making plans to sell your home, either through a realtor or to an investor.