The free bus that runs on a loop through much of downtown Bethesda is set to expand its route to two areas known for having plenty of apartment dwellers.
The Bethesda Circulator, which is operated by the Bethesda Urban Partnership, announced Monday that its route will expand south to Bradley Boulevard and north to Battery Lane starting Jan. 4.
The expansion, which will cost Montgomery County $160,000 through the end of June, has long been planned as a way to provide access to Bethesda’s Metro station, Bethesda Row and Woodmont Triangle for those who live on the southern and northern ends of the central business district.
“The new route is a reflection of Bethesda’s growing community,” Bethesda Urban Partnership Executive Director Dave Dabney said.
In July, County Executive Ike Leggett proposed delaying the expansion until a later date as part of $51 million in budget cuts. County Council members decided against the Bethesda Circulator cut and many others, instead opting to reschedule county construction projects to make up a budget shortfall.
The free shuttle averages more than 1,200 riders per day, according to the Bethesda Urban Partnership (BUP), which took over operation of what was then the county-operated Bethesda Trolley in 2006.
In 2011, BUP switched out the old-school trolleys for sleek, modern buses and rebranded the operation as the Circulator. Monthly ridership on the route surpassed 30,000 trips for the first time in the history of the service in April 2014.
In October 2014, BUP launched a phone app that provides the exact locations of all buses on the route.
The 2.1-mile, 20-stop route will expand to 3.3 miles and 20 stops. There will be three buses on the route instead of two starting Jan. 4 and BUP said a bus should still arrive at each of the stops every 10 to 15 minutes.
New Battery Lane stops include near the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad and next to Battery Lane Park. New Bradley Boulevard stops include Strathmore Street and between Strathmore Street and Wellington Drive.
A new stop will also be set up on Wisconsin Avenue near the Bethesda post office.
A full list of the 20 stops on the new route is below:
· Bethesda Metro Station
· Old Georgetown Road near Commerce Lane (Safeway)
· Old Georgetown Road between Fairmont and St. Elmo avenues
· Old Georgetown Road between Cordell and Del Ray avenues
· Old Georgetown Road near Glenbrook Road
· Battery Lane, near Bethesda Chevy Chase Rescue Squad
· Battery Lane, adjacent to Battery Lane Park
· Rugby Avenue at Rugby Garage
· Woodmont Avenue between Cordell and St. Elmo avenues
· Woodmont and Norfolk avenues (Veterans Park)
· Woodmont Avenue across from Metropolitan Garage
· Woodmont Avenue between Edgemoor and Montgomery lanes
· Woodmont and Bethesda avenues
· Woodmont Avenue at Leland Street
· Wisconsin Avenue across from Stanford Street
· Bradley Boulevard near Strathmore Street
· Bradley Boulevard between Strathmore Street and Wellington Drive
· Arlington Road between Bradley Boulevard and Bethesda Avenue
· Arlington Road between Bethesda Avenue and Elm Street (Giant)
The things we consider to be must-have home features are constantly changing—less than a half-century ago, plush, “can’t see my feet” shag carpeting (in bold colors such as gold, orange, and purple) was all the rage, and kitchen appliances came in coordinating hues. A quarter-century ago there was no HGTV to tell us to knock down a wall to open up the kitchen or swap out bathroom vanities. And just a few years back, tiny homes were just, well, really small homes.
We wondered what home qualities are must-haves right now, what the up-and-comers are, and what’s heading straight for the dustbin of home features history. To find out, our data team dug deep into our millions of listings and sifted out the most commonly used phrases for home features, going back five years.
Voila! Here are the 20 features that are most often touted in our listings. These are the stuff that home dreams are made of—a mixture of classic favorites and rising stars.
At first glance, the results aren’t too surprising. After all, who doesn’t love fireplaces and wood floors? (Well, other than those who prefer carpet, which is No. 3.)
“Rather than a barometer of trends, those are really adoptioncycles,” says Javier Vivas, data analyst at realtor.com®. “It’s more about how long it takes a particular new feature to become prevalent. It’s like car technology: First you see the cutting-edge stuff in luxury cars, then it spreads into the mainstream.”
Listings have gotten ever-more detailed and adorned in recent years, and certain features appear more and more often as selling points. So popularity among listing descriptions is kind of like being listed on the S&P 500—it shows that a feature is no passing trend. For example, granite countertops, once a splurge, are now a go-to feature—they’ve shot up from being mentioned in 8% of listings in 2011 to 13% today.
Got it? Good. Let’s go home shopping! Don’t forget to bring your checkbook.
Fireplace (No. 1)
On a chilly night, nothing competes with snuggling up near a crackling fire—or maybe it’s the hissing, considering that the leading type of fireplace mentioned in 3.2% of our listings is gas. After all, it’s easy to clean and maintain and comes in some cool modern designs. Still, there’s nothing like the charm of a wood-burning fireplace, and its popularity is picking up fast.
And in total, fireplaces—wood-burning, gas, brick, stone, or kiva—are the stars of 23.8% of our listings.
Always popular, the classic elegance of a wood floor continues to gain ground, particularly since last year. Not surprisingly, carpeting’s popularity seems to rise and fall in opposition to wood. It’s made a comeback before, but wood seems to be pulling ahead. In 2015, wood floors appeared in 15% of listing descriptions, 2 percentage points ahead of carpet.
Meanwhile, the tile floor—though never a major contender for the top spot—has slipped from No. 4 in 2011 (when it beat out walk-in closet and open floor plan) to today’s No.10. Still, it will probably hold onto its niche in humid, warm climates such as that of Florida.
Granite counter (No. 4)
Once a rare luxury, granite has become more affordable and is now practically standard for anyone who gives a hoot about kitchen design. It shot to fame quickly over the past five years, making its slick presence felt in 13% of all listings. For those who think all this trendy granite craziness is on the wane, reports of its death, as Mark Twain might (or might not!) have said, are greatly exaggerated—at least according to our listings data.
Stainless-steel appliances (No. 5)
With their elegant and modern appearance fitting into almost any kitchen design, stainless-steel appliances have made their way into more and more households since the 1990s. “Stainless” is now mentioned in 9% of all listings, almost double its share of five years ago.
Open floor plan (No. 6) vs. formal dining room (No. 8)
A house divided? Not these days. Separate living rooms, dining areas, and kitchens have been edged out by the open floor plan, which knocks down or eliminates walls to create a sense of spaciousness and light.
The open floor plan has seen a rapid increase in popularity, and in 2014 it surpassed the formal dining room for the first time. In 2015, an open floor plan is the fifth most popular feature, representing 8% of listings. The much-debated open kitchen, which encompasses the dining as well as the cooking area, also made it onto the list at No. 9.
Walk-in closet (No. 7)
In a time of over-the-top “glam rooms” dedicated to, um, getting ready, the walk-in closet is another feature that has seemingly gone from luxe to a near necessity. Stashing all your clothes in a shallow closet with hangers crammed together and no shelves? How primitive! It’s no wonder 7% of home listings mention walk-in closets as a big selling point.
Chef’s kitchen (No. 16) vs. open kitchen (No. 10)
The kitchen used to be all business—a place to churn out meals, nothing more. Again, we’ll point the finger at TV—not just HGTV, but also the Food Network—for fueling homeowners’ desire for a kitchen worthy of a chef, featuring a center island, a large stove/oven with hood, and granite or marble counters (see No. 3).
And it’s not just for cooking, but also for hanging out while you prepare the meal—especially if you have an open kitchen, touted in 5.7% of listings. We’ll also point out that five of the top 20 home features are kitchen-related.
Garden tub (No. 20)
No, a garden tub is not set amid the lovely and fragrant rose beds so you can bathe in the open air (and get bitten by insects). The term generally refers to a wider and deeper bathtub that usually has steps but no jets. Nice! Providing a relaxing soaking experience with less cost and cleaning difficulty, the garden tub has gained popularity over the years, but it’s still a niche feature.
We’ve talked about features that have made their way into the mainstream, but we also saw a couple that are clearly on their way out:
House with vinyl siding
Vinyl siding was once one of the most popular cladding choices, because it’s affordable, long-lasting, and virtually maintenance-free. But over the years it’s become something of a gauche punch line in some quarters. It’s no wonder its lead has slipped substantially in recent years, while fiber cement is gaining ground, according to PlasticsNews.com.
Oak and cherry cabinets
The last time honey oak cabinets were trending, Monica-gate was a thing, Will Smith was the prince of Bel-Air, and Y2K loomed as the biggest threat the world faced. Yes, the ’90s were particularly friendly to oak cabinetry and cherry wasn’t far behind, popularitywise, but those days are long past. Today you’ll be hard-pressed to find either in listings or in new home construction. But maple cabinets? Welcome to the future!
If you’ve been on the fence about buying a home, 2016 is the year to take the plunge. Mortgage rates have been bouncing around record lows for a while now. But even though they’re likely to start going up, you haven’t missed your chance to get a deal on a house. A number of factors are coming together, making next year a good time to buy, 4 reasons 2016 is the year to buy a home; 1. Home prices will finally calm down
Real estate values have been on the rise for a while, but are likely to slow their pace next year. Prices are expected to rise 3.5%, according to Zillow’s Chief Economist Svenja Gudell.
Buyers who’ve been stuck behind the wave of rising prices may finally get the chance to jump in.
And that could lead to a flood of buyers, said Jonathan Smoke, chief economist at Realtor.com.
“We have the potential for about six million home sales just through the months of April through September; that is basically impossible to do,” he said.
Related: These are the most expensive housing markets
But not everyone will be in a position to take advantage.
Despite the slowdown, Zillow still expects home values to outpace wage growth, which can make it tough to afford a home, especially for lower-income buyers.
Plus, prices in the country’s hottest markets — like San Francisco, Boston and New York City — aren’t expected to pull back as much next year. 2. More homes will hit the market
The slowdown in home prices will prompt more owners to list their homes, Smoke said, giving buyers more choice.
“Because of the price appreciation they have experienced, you will have more sellers put homes on the market next year,” he said.
Related: How to buy a home without a 20% down payment
The new home market is also expected to grow in the coming year with builders focusing more on starter and middle-range homes, which will also boost inventory and make it easier for buyers.
With more homes on the market, bidding wars will become less common and prices could ease even more. 3. Dirt cheap mortgages could disappear
The Federal Reserve is widely expected to begin increasing interest rates soon, which means the window for record low mortgage rates is closing.
While rates are expected to go up gradually, higher rates push up borrowing costs and monthly mortgage payments.
“You are likely to get the best rate you will possibly see, perhaps in your lifetimes through the majority of next year, but certainly, the earlier the better,” said Smoke. 4. Rents will still hurt
Rent prices are expected to continue to climb in the new year, which means in most cities, buying will be cheaper than renting.
Even though mortgages could get more expensive, buying might still be the better deal.
Interest rates would need to rise to around 6.5% for the cost of buying to equal that of renting on a national level, according to Ralph McLaughlin, housing economist at Trulia.
In a strong market, if a home is priced right and shows well, it should sell within the first six weeks. If it doesn’t, many sellers become frustrated, especially if their agent begins pushing for a price reduction. The seller may think the agent just wants a quick sale, but the agent sincerely wants to help the seller get action. Agents understand that a listing loses momentum and excitement soon after being listed. Buyers will think of a home as stale, tired, or flawed if it sits on the market too long. Agents and buyers alike will view the stale listing as a problem home- and wonder why it has sat and often will be overlooked and not shown. It is important to price your home right for your best financial outcome.
If your home is not generating offers, there are ways to get more action.
Home Condition, Updates and Price
You can’t change your home’s location, but you do have some control over the other two important buyer considerations. If the home is still sitting on the market after a couple of months, and especially if it has had no showings or offers, you need to look at the price and the condition. The most activity a new listing will receive happens in the first two weeks, and sellers are likely to get the best price at that time.
You have two big choices to make if you are ready to sell. The first is to take the home off the market and make some changes, such as more staging, de-cluttering, and altering the look of the kitchens and bathrooms.
If you are unwilling or unable to make the needed changes to the home, the other option is to reduce the price. Even if your house is the absolute best home in the neighborhood but the setting is not private or on a busy road , the only option will be to drop the price.
Make sure you and your agent are on the same page
Your agent is a professional and has experience and knowledge that will benefit you, however, you are the home owner and all decisions are ultimately yours. If you and your agent don’t see eye-to-eye on the pricing or sales strategy prior to listing, it might be time to find another agent. While it is your job to prepare your home for the day it becomes “active” on the listing service and internet, it is the agents job to be completely prepared as well. Your agent should be very clear about the service and timeline you should expect. The agent should research and the homework regarding sold homes prices, days on market for similar homes and the difference in upgrades, updates and condition between your home and others that are on the market now or have recently sold. You should be consulted on when your home will be photographed, what marketing will be done and where it will appear, open houses, brochures, and plans for the sign post. Your agent should diligently follow up will all agents who have showed the house and all interested parties.
Discuss your intentions and plan with your agent upfront, and listen to her feedback. Reducing the listed price may be necessary- but you will have to see firsthand how the market works in your neighborhood. Listen to the feedback your agent is gathering and reporting to you, and take action to address repeated criticisms.
It is so important to work with an agent who is understands the area market and will work with your strategy and can help you adapt to sell your home for the best price.
Beautifully restored residence by the craftsmen of M.H. Holahan Builders. Extraordinary kitchen & family room space. Dazzling owner’s suite with spa bath, private office, expansive closets! Elegant finishes throughout. Crisp, fine detailing. Exceptionally special lot that is deep, lush, private & flat! The street & neighborhood are peaceful. Highly desirable Walt Whitman High School cluster!
Today nearly all home searches begin on a mobile phone or tablet— not on the Web, and not using the newspaper.
If you want to get the right kind of buyer activity on your home, you need to make sure that you optimize your listing and your photos for mobile devices.
2) Be ready to separate your “home” from your “investment”
Many sellers make the mistake of letting their emotions get the best of them. Selling a home is not like selling a used car — it holds memories and occupies a special place in your heart.
When it comes time to sell, however, it’s important to realize that your home is also an investment. Being able to change your homeowner hat to your investor hat is crucial.
If you are too sentimentally attached to your home, you may reject a good price or fail to negotiate with a serious buyer. Don’t let your emotions sabotage your sale.
3) Don’t list your home until you’re serious about selling
Do you have a place to go if you sell? Have you fully cleaned and de-cluttered your home? Have you taken your agent’s advice on staging and pricing?
Many sellers list their home before they are truly ready to sell, only to shoot themselves in the foot by overpricing it or not presenting it to the market in its best possible light. A stale listing is often overlooked by buyers and real estate agent alike.
4) Make the best impression online
Nothing frustrates an active and aggressive buyer more than getting an email or mobile notification alert for a new property listing only to get to the listing and not see any photos.
Buyer first impressions today are on the Internet. If you list your home without complete information — including photos, description and accurate data — not only will you turn them off, but they may simply not come back later.
5) Be ready to leave- with your pet!
Keep your home neat and clean and odor free and be ready to leave when an agent wants to show it to a prospective buyer, whether it is convenient or not. Listen to your agent’s advice and tips for selling your house. Your goal is to sell your home and move forward.
Full Disclosure: What You Need To Tell Buyers About Your Home
Whether you have owned your home for a few years or a few decades, you know its quirks, best features and flaws. When you morph from homeowner to home seller you need to be aware that your experience with your home is something you may have to share with potential buyers.
Most buyers opt to have a home inspection before they finalize their purchase, but you as the seller must also follow state and federal regulations regarding disclosure of known facts about your property’s condition.
As a seller you may feel uncomfortable revealing problems in your home that could discourage potential buyers, but it’s best to be open about issues before your home goes under contract. A home inspector is likely to find problems and the buyers will be less favorably inclined to negotiate with you if they feel you have withheld information. If a flaw is found after the sale is complete and the buyers have reason to believe you were aware of the problem, you could face a lawsuit.
Federal disclosure Rules
The majority of disclosure issues are handled by state regulations, but federal laws apply to one area: lead paint. If your home was built prior to 1978, it may contain lead paint. Your home must be checked for lead paint and a disclosure form completed unless your home was built after 1978.
State Disclosure Rules
State regulations vary and often change, so rely on Tracy Tkac and Lindy Gelb at Washington Homes Group to be up-to-date on disclosure requirements for your area. Some states allow sellers to complete a disclosure form listing information about their home, or a disclaimer form that says the sellers don’t have any information about issues in the property.
In some areas you need to disclose what you know about natural hazards such as whether your home is in a flood zone or in an area known for earthquakes; other required disclosures can involve pollution issues, prospective zoning changes or the fact that a home is located within a historic district.
Another issue that sometimes causes problems is when a home has been a crime scene or if someone died on the property. Sellers may not want to disclose this for fear of stigmatizing the property, but if the buyers find out later they can sue if they believe the property’s history will hurt its resale value.
Sellers should be aware that some issues are particularly important, such as previous problems with mold; the foundation; termites; and electrical, plumbing or roof issues. If you have made repairs to your property, it’s usually best to disclose the information when you list your home for sale, even if local regulations don’t require you to do so.
Impact of Disclosure
Most sellers are aware of the benefit of letting prospective buyers know about positive features of their home such as new appliances or a new roof, but there can also be a benefit in disclosing defects in your home. Any issue that you have addressed during the years in your home can provide proof that you’ve kept up with maintenance. You may want to provide a binder with receipts and insurance claim information to show buyers what work has been done on your home.
If there’s an ongoing problem that buyers will need to handle, it’s better for them to hear about it from you so you can negotiate about when repairs must be made and who will pay for them. In fact, if you have a particular concern about your home, you may want to hire a home inspector yourself to get to the details before you put your property on the market.
For more information and the home selling process, call Tracy Tkac 301-437-8722
Spring is here, which means it’s time to get organized. This season, homeowners are spending less on big projects and are focusing on smaller-scale home renovation plans. According to the latest Zillow Digs Home Design Trend Report, built-in cabinets, cubbies with baskets or trays and repurposed antique furniture are the biggest home organization trends.
Call Washington Homes Group for home staging and decluttering ideas www.washingtonhg.com 202-719-0078.
To learn more about this season’s hottest storage trends, we asked Zillow Digs Board of Designersmember and design expert Mara Miller of Carrier & Company Interiors in New York to help solve three spring storage myths. Check out her surprising tips below.
The Reality: Save your dollars for other remodels. You can find great premade options at hardware stores that when painted can look just as beautiful as a custom built-in.
Mara reminds homeowners not to reinvent the wheel when installing built-ins. Instead, Mara recommends that remodelers “look at the simplest stock options available” that will give you a custom look without breaking the bank. Your local hardware store is a great place for premade cabinets or mass-cut wood pieces for built-ins. “Try painting the wood to match your trim or molding color to make the unit look as if it’s always been there,” says Mara.
Myth 2: Cubbies and open shelves don’t offer adequate storage space
The Reality: Cubbies and open shelves offer great storage space, just be sure to select quality storage containers
Cubbies provide ample storage; just make sure to choose your storage containers carefully. “Selecting your accessories are often more important than the furniture themselves,” says Mara. Maximize storage with beautiful trays and baskets, which are perfect for those less visually appealing items such as electronics or other knick knacks. Be sure to “shop around for good containers that are attractive in and of themselves,” advises Mara, as open shelves and cubbies leave little to the imagination.
Myth 3: I need to invest time and money in refurbishing antiques
The Reality: Don’t invest in a complete overhaul. Antiques are supposed to look vintage, that’s what makes them unique.
“Fully refurbishing an antique is when you do the most damage,” says Mara. In general, it’s best to do less, not more when working with antiques. You can maximize storage by adding in shelves or rods for linens and coats. But be conscious of the “furniture’s age and history – it’s not supposed to be modern and shiny,” reminds Mara. The more character the better!