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!
Not all real estate agents are created equal. Like all industries, there are plenty of terrific pros, but once in a while a bad apple rubs a buyer or seller the wrong way and spoils it for the rest of us.
If you’ve had a bad experience in the past, don’t let it happen again. If you aren’t comfortable with your current agent, stop everything. You can find wonderful agents in every market — don’t move forward until you have.
Once you find an exceptional real estate agent, you’ll discover plenty of reasons to be thankful for them.
They’ll be there for you during the difficult moments
In the middle of a transaction that seems to be giving you more heartache than love? Maybe it’s not the “deal” you thought it was, or something just doesn’t seem right?
A good agent will take your call at 10 p.m., hear you out and support your decision not to move ahead. Buying or selling a home is a serious financial transaction — not to mention one with huge emotional and practical considerations.
Your agent should uncover any issues and, if it’s the best decision, suggest backing out of the deal before you even bring it up. They’ll be on your side, and looking to build a long-term relationship — not just make a quick buck.
They’ll help get your house ready for sale in record time
A good listing agent doubles as a project manager, designer, and connector of all things quick and fast for home improvement.
Thinking of selling, but daunted by the idea of prepping your home, making necessary fixes or simply deep cleaning? Good listing agents take on the burden and alleviate unnecessary drama from an already stressful time in your life.
With your approval, your agent can muster up a team of painters, stagers, floor finishers, home organizers — and the list goes on. As the lead on prepping your home for sale, your agent will be your single point of contact and get the job done quickly.
They know you’re juggling work, kids and all the other parts of your life
A real estate transaction can be so tedious. Someone always wants a random signature or a document notarized. Inspectors and appraisers need to get into the home, and sometimes one of the parties has a last-minute request that you can’t ignore.
A good agent realizes you have a life outside your real estate transaction. She’ll drive to your home late at night or catch you in the lobby of your office building in between your meetings for that important signature. He’ll open doors, get second bids, sometimes pull weeds and even walk your dogs.
Tasked with making your life easier and your transaction as smooth as possible, a good real estate agent is full service 24/7. And they love doing it.
They’ll send you helpful data about your home long after you’ve closed
Some agents do their deals and move on, seeing your purchase or sale as transactional. But good agents know that their services continue long after you close.
Homeowners like to know what’s going on in the market and how their investment has fared over time. Agents see homes in person each week, and can take note of comparable homes and keep their past clients informed about the market.
It’s true you have a lot of information at your fingertips already, but having an active agent keeping you in the loop, without even asking, is the best.
They have the inside track because they’re well-connected and well-liked
Often, deals fall into place because of the strength of the relationships a good agent builds over time. Being well-connected with other agents, bankers, inspectors and deal-makers means they can help you find opportunities off the market, get the attention or time you need, or get your offer to the top of the pack in a competitive bidding situation.
A truly great agent constantly has your interests, wants and needs in mind, and uncovers opportunities to find the house or the buyer of your dreams.
If you’ve found your dream agent, you have a lot for which to be thankful. If you haven’t, find a good agent and get them on your team. They can make all the difference.
BY BRENDON DESIMONE
I strive to always do my best for you, and communicate everyday to keep you informed and give you the advantage.
New amazing price!New Arts & Crafts home w/ Hardi & stone exterior, wide front porch & side load gar. 5 BR 4.5 BA, crafted with exacting standards & superior finishes. Extensive crown molding & trim details, 2 fire places. House is flooded with light, beautiful green view from the breakfast bay window. Walk to NIH metro, YMCA.Final touch- picket fence
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!
There are several steps you can take to stage your home for sale — and many of them don’t cost a dime. Here are five No Cost Staging Tips you can do to prepare your home to sell.
Clean, clean, clean
The number one thing people think about while in a home is whether or not they believe it is clean. A home that is absolutely pristine presents as well cared for.
Clean all windows inside and out. Dust all door frames, light fixtures, ceiling fans and blinds. Don’t leave a single spot in your home untouched. Potential buyers look everywhere, so make sure the entire home is clean.
Depersonalize the house
Pack up almost all personal photos and family keepsakes. If you have a great photo of your family enjoying a camping trip or other family activity, you can leave it out on display if your home is being marketed to families. This one family photo plants a seed of happiness in a buyer’s mind, making them think how happy their own family could be living in the home.
All other photos, portraits and keepsakes must be packed away out of view — and ideally, stored outside the home. In general, family photos and keepsakes draw a buyer’s attention to your family and keep them from seeing your home as their potential home.
You’re not selling the family, you’re selling the house — so always let that be the center of attention.
Pack — and pack some more
You could probably live comfortably for a short time with about half the things you own, especially if you have lived in your home for more than a few years. We all tend to collect things. Whether we use them or not doesn’t matter, but what does matter is showcasing the space your home has to offer potential buyers. You cannot showcase rooms that are full of stuff — especially too much furniture.
Pack up as much as you can live without, then store it offsite if possible. Store packed boxes and extra furniture neatly away from living spaces no matter what. If you have to store items in the garage, make certain you leave enough room for a car.
Manicure outdoor spaces
Outdoor living is now a part of everyday life for most of us. Potential buyers will absolutely consider the outdoor spaces as critically as they do indoor spaces. If you don’t have the budget to freshen the landscape with flowers and decorative items, you can still make sure the yard is perfectly manicured.
Keep your yard watered, and cut grass to approximately 3 inches high. Any shorter takes away from the fresh green look, and any longer starts to look unkempt.
Foliage should be very neat and properly shaped to match your neighborhood. Trim the trees so that a 6-foot-tall person can easily pass under them. This makes the trees appear taller, and gives the yard a clean, tidy look.
Power wash the sidewalk, patio, deck, driveway and fence. You will be amazed what a difference this will make in the look of your home.
When showing or photographing your home for potential buyers, open every blind and curtain in your home, and turn on every light. Even the lights over the stove and inside the oven should be on. (Remember, the appliances are pristine — they need to be shown off!)
Buyers are looking for “light and bright,” not “dark and dreary,” so give them light. Help them see how clean and well cared for your home is. Don’t be afraid to move a lamp to brighten up a space if you need to. Let there be light — and lots and lots of it.
It can be a lot of work getting your house ready to sell. Even with no staging budget, you can still take the time to make a few changes that will have a profound impact on your home sale.
The single most important factor to consider when selling a house is pricing the house correctly; it’s choosing the right list price: how much your house is worth. Over pricing the house will cause it to sit on the market and lose the freshness of the home’s appeal after the first two to three weeks of showings. After a month on the market, demand and interest can wane and after that a listing can become stale to potential buyers. It is a tough concept, because no one wants to chance leaving money on the table, but pricing the home just below fair market value will often cause a seller to receive multiple offers, which will then drive up the price to market price or above. Pricing is all about supply and demand. It’s part art and part science. Beware of the realtor that advises a list price way above the range of sold home prices in your neighborhood, choosing to list with that agent may be setting you up for the delay or even failure to sell your home.
Pricing your home to sell may not be as simple as you think. Looking at what similar homes in your immediate neighborhood that have sold for in the past 6 months to a year will give you some, but not all of the data you will need to calculate the list price. It is important to compare apples to apples when looking at the comparable recently sold homes. Compare and consider not just how many bedrooms or bathrooms, but also is the basement finished, is the yard nicely landscaped, how many garage spaces are offered? Look at homes’ sizes (square feet), style, condition and if updates and renovations have been done. A good real estate professional will format all of the information for you and help you to make the comparisons to come to the right listing price that will get you the most money possible for your home sale.
Using a real estate professional can save you money in the end by helping in pricing your home to sell quickly and for the best sale price. A good agent will assess what improvements should be made prior to putting your house on the market. Many times the first step is to de-clutter; when selling your home, the less-is-more concept is the way to go. Your agent should be honest and direct in telling you what needs painting and repair or replacing before making your listing “active on the market”. You only have one chance to make a good impression, and that goes for the list price and your homes presentation.
Why buy now? Since the beginning of the year, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate has fallen by more than a half point, from 4.3 percent to 3.8 percent. A half point may not seem like a lot, but it can translate into significant savings on a monthly basis and over the life of a loan.
For example, mortgage rates have dropped off so much this year that a buyer who started shopping at the beginning of the year for a $375,000 house could buy a $400,000 house now for the same monthly payment — an extra $25,000 of spending power.
Despite industry-wide projections that mortgage rates would likely climb to near 5 percent by the end of 2014, they have dropped back to levels the market hasn’t seen since late 2012. The dip gives consumers more buying power.
Buyers who started shopping for a home loan two or three months ago should have their agent or lender run their numbers again before continuing their search.
We are entering the holiday real estate market, meaning generally activity slows down-which can be a great opportunity for buyers. Buyers may not have to compete with other buyers and might be able to negotiate a great deal on a property that has been around for while.
So Why Buy Now? Low interest rates and good timing can make for a very successful and happy real estate transaction!
Call us to help you determine how much home you can afford and lets get started.
Once upon a time, the big bedroom investment was a complete set of furniture that matched identically in style and details. This style, says designers surveyed in the latest is decidedly out this season. The designers shared what’s popular for master bedrooms for the year to come and what designs make inviting bedrooms .
In: Coordinated furniture
Approach the bedroom like you would a living room, finding furniture that coordinates, but doesn’t necessarily match exactly.
In: Rustic, or raw wood and natural details
One of the biggest trend surprises this season is the amount of raw or natural wood — especially in pine finishes, said designer Vanessa DeLeon.
Designer Jamie Beckwith echoed DeLeon, naming “very organic materials, and rustic, lots of wood materials and mid century design” as strong fall trends.
The layer of textures — a rustic wood headboard contrasting against silky sheets and woven blankets — is what creates today’s bedroom retreat.
In: Neutral, warm colors
One of the biggest “outs” in the bedroom?
“Highly patterned bedding in the master bedroom, especially anything that comes as a “bed in a bag,” said designer Kerrie Kelly.
Rather, go for a layered, luxe look of neutrals, specifically “warm tones that are enveloping,” says designer Garrison Hullinger.
And while a “bed in a bag” may be an affordable option for a room, bedding is probably one of the areas of a master bedroom that should be splurged on.
“Since we spend at about one-third of our lives in bed,” said designer Melissa Klebanoff, “I encourage my clients to purchase the best mattress, the finest pillows and the best bedding they can buy.”
In: Modern, statement lighting
Forget basic can lights. The fall, consider adding elaborate overhead lighting in the bedroom spaces.
“All types of chandeliers, hanging fixtures and ceiling lights grace the master bedroom, often defying our ideas about height and scale,” said Klebanoff.
It’s not just statement lighting, but great lighting in general that will set the tone of a bedroom.
“Lighting may be the hardest working—and most underrated—element of your master bedroom’s design,” said Kelly. “All the fabric, color and furniture in the world sit flat and lifeless without the appropriate lighting. An ideal lighting scheme starts with natural light and supplements with ambient, task, and accent lighting.”
In: Sitting rooms, added functions
“I’m getting a lot of requests for reading nooks and seating areas in the master bedroom,” said DeLeon. “Clients love being able to have a bedroom that is multipurpose.”
Even small rooms can include this function with furniture that allows for work or relaxation. Kelly suggests finding a nightstand that offers hidden storage or pullout trays to serve as spots for books and drinks.
Despite all the room trends, ultimately a master bedroom should reflect the person or people spending time there.
“Getting the room to look and function as they desire is critical,” said Klebanoff. “Thus my clients are asked to think long term about their design choices.”
While real estate websites and mobile apps can help you identify houses you may be interested in, an experienced agent does much more.
Real estate agents:
1. Guide. Before you tour your first home, your agent will take time to learn more about your wants, needs, preferences, budget and motivation. A good real estate agent will help you narrow your search and identify your priorities.
2. Educate. You should expect your agent to provide data on the local home market and comparable sales. The home-buying process can be complicated. A good agent will explain the steps involved – in a manner that makes them understandable – and provide counsel along the way.
3. Network. An agent who is familiar with your target neighborhoods will often know about homes that are for sale – even before they’re officially listed. Experienced agents tend to know other agents in the area and have good working relationships with them; this can lead to smooth transactions. Your agent may also be able to refer you to trusted professionals including lenders, home inspectors and contractors.
4. Advocate. When you work with a buyer’s agent, their fiduciary responsibility is to you. That means you have an expert who is looking out for your best financial interests, an expert who’s contractually bound to do everything in their power to protect you. If you find yourself in a situation where the same agent represents both the buyer and seller, things can get trickier, advises Scottsdale, Arizona-based real estate agent Dru Bloomfield.
“A lot of people think they’ll get a lower price by going straight to the listing agent, but that’s always not true,” she says. “If I was representing both the buyer and seller, I’d be hard-pressed to take a low-ball offer to the seller. But, as a buyer’s agent I’d do it, because I have no emotional ties or fiduciary responsibility to the seller. Buyers should work with an agent who can fully represent them.”
5. Negotiate. Your agent will handle the details of the negotiation process, including the preparation of all necessary offer and counteroffer forms. Once your inspection is done, the agent can also help you negotiate for repairs. Even the most reasonable consumers can become distraught when battling over repair requests; an agent can do “the ask” without becoming overly emotional.
6. Manage minutia. The paperwork that goes along with a real estate transaction can be exhaustive. If you forget to initial a clause or check a box, all those documents will need to be resubmitted. A good real estate agent understands the associated deadlines and details and can help you navigate these complex documents.
7. Look out. Any number of pitfalls can kill a deal as it inches toward closing; perhaps the title of the house isn’t clear, the lender hasn’t met the financing deadline or the seller has failed to disclose a plumbing problem. An experienced real estate agent knows to watch for trouble before it’s too late, and can skillfully deal with challenges as they arise.
Professional real estate agents do so much more than drive clients around to look at homes. Find an agent you trust and with whom you feel comfortable working; you’re sure to benefit from their experience, knowledge of the local market and negotiation skills.
301-437-8722/ 202-364-1700 Real Estate Professional Licensed in Maryland, Virginia & Washington, DC