Wednesday, October 31, 2007

O St Market May Have a Hiccup

Thanks to the ANC2C02 RSS feed, it was noted that at the last meeting, Roadside Developments initial plans to build to a height of 110' may not be as promising as it once was. At the recent meeting, the Zoning commission seemed a objectionable to the variance submitted by the developer to go to the increased height under their PUD, or planned unit development. According to the article, "Commissioners Jeffries, Parson, Chairman Mitten, Vice Chairman Hood and Commissioner Turnbull stated that 110ft seemed to be too disproportionate and "not tailored to the neighborhood."

Mortgage Applications Surged in October

In October alone, mortgage companies saw a 3.8% in applications over September, they say mostly cause by refinances. I think there is more to it than just refinances. With the fiscal year coming close to its end and prices down 7% nationwide, some of those hesitant buyers might be coming out of the wood-work, looking for their all time low price before the upcoming spring fever hits. With recent PR stating nothing but positive figures for our economy, the Fed rate cut today, and the possibility of reestablishing subprime mortgages with stated income loans, next year might just be better than everyone thinks.


Fed Cuts Rate to 4.5%

Today, to keep the economy booming the Fed cut the rate to 4.5%, a cut that economists say will be the last of the reductions for quite some time.

More HERE.

Just What in the Heck is Going On?

Someone Please Help Jusitfy What is Going On!!!!!

For the past 8 months now we all know just what has been going on with the real estate market. Despite many of our initial thought a bubble did burst (though not as badly as many thought). However, over the past few days I have noticed what seem to be shocking and somewhat controversial articles about the U.S. Economy.

S&P announces DC is one of 10 worst hit cities for real estate pricing
Mortgage Apps climb 17% for the month of October
Oil prices at $93 a barrel
NACA and Countrywide team up
Housing permits down

106,000 jobs created in October
Fed to lower rate again
GDP is Up
Fed sees tame inflation

So, readers out there, what are your thoughts about the economy and our local housing market?

From Washington Convention Center to Washington Convention Center

This week the Washington Convention Center officially took on its new name. From this point forward it will now be called the Washington Convention Center. Well not entirely. On Monday the Washington Convention Center became the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in honor of D.C.'s first elected Mayor, Walter E. Washington.

As an aside, according to the Washington Business Journal:

"The convention center, which has 703,000 square feet of exhibit space and 150,000 square feet of meeting space, is facing increasing competition with the impending arrival of Gaylord Entertainment Co.'s convention complex at the National Harbor in Prince George's County. Gaylord will offer associations and meeting planners 400,000 hotel rooms and 470,000 square feet of meeting space on an isolated complex, a move that has D.C. tourism officials worried."

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Ferry Trial between PG and DC a Success

Yesterday an announcement between Kettler and MetroMarine Holdings may mark the beginning of DC area water travel. The two companies successfully ran the "Potomoc River Express" ferry service between Quantico, VA and the Navy Yard in DC. The trial came as the beginning of a new market as local companies will compete for river access during the riverfront development boom in upcoming years.
Kettler, one of DC's largest real estate companies, and MetroMarine Holdings, based out of Alexandria who designs public-private ferry partnerships, have been working together for years to alleviate the increase in local land-based transportation. With the success of recent real estate developments and more on the way, their vision is becoming a reality.
Local governments are in support of the ferry service as well. The Prince William County Board of Supervisors said, "This passenger service on the Potomac River has been a vision since the late 90's. If anyone can make this a reality, it's Kettler."
In order for the trial to occur, the companies shipped down a ferry from a Boston service line that operates daily between Boston, MA and Providence, RI. The MS Provincetown III was chartered for the trial. It is a 100-foot, 149 passenger ferry most similar to what is expected to be making the run's locally. The trial run took 55 minutes to complete.

No date has been set for an official ferry line.

Business Journal

Takoma Park - Am Immigrant Sanctuary

Unlike many of the local cities in surrounding areas, Takoma Park remains firm on their immigration policies: "Welcome." This past week the Town Council voted once again to maintain their "sanctuary" status for illegal immigrants. Not only does this vote maintain their laws against enforcing federal immigration policies but illegals are also allowed to vote in local elections.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Developer Gets 60 Days in Jail Plus $35,000 in Fines

Thanks to Mari of we found a report of a local developer has been sentenced to two consecutive 30 day sentences for "one count of False Statements in a Condominium Registration Application and one count of Failure to Post a Bond or Letter of Credit for 45 R Street NW."

The developer of the aforementioned row home is not only the owner but related to a local real estate agent with Fairfax Realty out of Falls Church, VA. Mudasir Khan's conversion took place in 2005-2006 and was converted into a two unit building, the top unit selling for $499k and the bottom for $411k in April and March of 2006, respectively. Thank god DCRA requires a two year letter of credit for situations such as this but I cannot say what a shame it is that the owners have to deal with the problems now.

I ran a search on the MLS for every property that Amir Khan, the relative/agent has conducted a listing on and there four more conversions for which he was the listing agent for the whole building as well as over five to ten single family homes where it states on MLS that the agent is related to the owner. (You fill in the pieces here)

The condo building addresses are:
2721 13th St NW
1621 E Se NE
1637 A St NE
611 Quincy St NW

If you or anyone else you know lives at or near these buildings I would have them check their bond documentation in their condo docs. If you don't know what to look for, email me.

Investors, Developers - Reduce Construction Costs by 37%

Sound too good to be true?

Think again!

This past Wednesday several clients of mine and I headed to Berwick, PA to the Deluxe Home factory to take a look at what could very well be the future of condo conversion construction. As the real estate market has taken a beating from not only the media but from consumers as well the only logical outcome could be a significant drop in prices and as a result lower margins for developers. Several weeks ago one of my clients Stuart Kushner, developer of Maricor Gardens Condominiums, came to me with an idea. How about modular multi-family housing? At the time I hadnt given it much thought, blowing off modular as housing for the past generations.

After much research we came across a manufacturer who was approved by DC for construction, Deluxe Homes, whom we approached to gain insight into the world of off site construction and I must say I could not have been more wrong in my initial impressions. After a long three hour drive we arrived at a small Detroit-like town where it didnt seem like there was much to do besides hunt or fish (neither of which I do). As we walked into the factory site there were pieces of homes laying everywhere, plastic covered sections lying on what seems to be a 50+ acre site with hundreds of huge boxes. Still skeptical, we followed Bill Nash, a rep for Deluxe inside the factory and he showed us how the units are built, the quality of construction and the ease at which homes, condo buildings and commercial buildings can be constructed in up to 12 by 64 foot sections, trucked to the site and stacked like Legos using a crane. The quality far surpassed my every expectation. Bathrooms looked like they were custom built, walls looked perfect, floors, kitchens and wiring looked as if it had been installed by master craftsmen. But that wasnt the best part...we were shocked when he told us what they cost vs. conventional stick-built construction...nearly 37% off.

In running analysis for developers such as Kushner, the typical magic number for construction seems to be $165 per square foot but these modulars, installed and finished were estimated at an astonishing $105 per square foot, nearly 37% off of the largest cost for any developer. Talk about a savings.

To help understand what a savings that is, lets take a 20,000 square foot building anywhere in DC, zoned R5A.
Assuming the lot is buildable we would be able to build
8,000 sq ft footprint (40% lot occupancy = 20,00 *40% )
18,000 sq ft building (0.9 FAR = 20,000*0.9) + Cellar @ footprint size
=Total Construction of 26,000 square feet

Conventional Construction
26,000 * $165 = $4,290,000

Modular Construction
26,000 * $105 = $2,730,000

Thats a total savings (increase in profit) of over $1.5 million on the exact same building. Now, in a market where prices have come down over 5% and to sell quickly, reductions must be made on the initial listing coming close to nearly 10%, thats could quite possibly be an increase in profitability close to 20% (after all additional cost) over conventional construction and sales.

For one example of a finished building using modular construction, there is a building at 12th & K NE.

What are your thoughts on modular housing in DC?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Now You've Done it Macy

This past week Macy Development caused themselves to face a $15,000 dollar fine for cutting down a 65-foot tall oak tree in Southeast DC, the largest fine offered by the city.

While I may not have much cause in publishing this information, I attribute this post to my client whom I'll call the 'Soul' and has had more difficulty with Macy than anyone should have to go through with a developer after purchasing a unit.

We support you 'Soul.'

More on Macy Development

Macy Development, What did you do???

Oh Macy...

Macy, Macy, Macy, Oh Why Have You Done This Macy Development?

Surprise: DC SFH Volume Sales Down, Prices Up

Yesterday a fellow blogger, Keith of, released his monthly analysis of the local real estate market. After what seems to be an extremely thorough report some surprising results seem to have arisen out of his data. From what I understand, while the DC market volume is down nearly 10% this year when compared to 2006, average single family home prices are up over 11% for the year (as compared to condos which are down 1.5% for the same period.


Me too.

Residents in Anacostia Plead with Mayor Over Controversial Poplar Point

As I returned from my weekend in New York this morning and opened up my feeds, I couldn't help but see an overwhelming amount of sources repeating the same thing..."Fenty, Keep DC United in DC." As you may have read in last weeks post, MacFarlane, the owner of DC United, is now considering taking his team (and the tax revenue generated by the team) outside of District boarders in response to Fenty's RFEI for Poplar Point. As a result, not only have DC officials responded by promising to find MacFarlane's team another site in DC but a second coalition of Anacostia are publicly pleading for Fenty to revert back to the original plan to bring DC United to the 110 acre site. Their plead comes with the emphasis on MacFarlane's involvement with the community and the immediate areas overall economic growth.

As quoted from a Washington Post article:

"D.C. United has been in the community for quite a while now working with the community," said Sandra Seegars, an advisory neighborhood commissioner in Ward 8. "The new mayor comes in and takes us back to step one. We don't need to start over again."

Under MacFarlane's plan, total development would reach 8.5 million square feet -- twice the amount of space envisioned by the Anacostia Waterfront Corp. MacFarlane offered to pay for the stadium, expected to cost from $150 million to $200 million, if the city would contribute $350 million in infrastructure for the development project."

Thursday, October 18, 2007


Now you can search local developments via Google Maps, the new link is to the right. [More Developments Added Daily]

View Larger Map

Broadcast Center One Begins

This past week DC approved the application for Broadcast Center One, located at the intersection of 7th & S streets NW, just around the corner from the historic Howard Theater.

Douglas Jemal, the famed developer known for transforming this city, is the owner of the site for Broadcast Center One. The site, which was purchased for over $21 Million several years ago, is currently the vacant Wonderbread Factory and an eye soar.

The lot itself is just larger than half an acre but the development will be going through a Planned Unit Development (PUD) process to allow for increased density and possibly height than the current zoning allows.

According to the National Capital Revitalization Corporation (NCRC) the new development will have 21,000 square feet of retail space with 202 residential units, over 76,000 square feet of commercial space, and 250 underground parking spaces. In addition, the city is requiring a portion of the retail and residential to be affordable.

As per the NCRC, the development must have 10 percent affordable retail and 25 percent affordable housing. This housing must be five percent lower than the recently imposed 30 percent requirement imposed by DC Mayor Fenty several months ago.

The proposed expected completion was 2010 based on breaking ground earlier this year so I would expect the closeout closer to 2011. Radio One, under the guidance of founder Cathy Hughes, has already signed a letter of intent to occupy the new development. Hughes was noted for mentioning her long awaited return to the roots of her company in DC and Broadcast Center One should provide the perfect place for her to do so.

With the revitalization of Shaw and the development at the McMillan Reservoir, the area will be a completely different neighborhood within three years. It’s going to be absolutely amazing.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Housing: The magic number is 417.

This morning I came across an article basically saying that if you are looking to sell your home, it could take until 2009 to find the right buyer at the right price. The statement came from Doug Duncan, chief economist for the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), who expects prices to fall another 2-4 percent next year and a 22 percent drop in new home sales and a 12 percent drop in existing home sales.

While the article came mostly of deepening worries about the housing market, the final paragraph shocked reads

"There's one group of home buyers, home sellers and loan originators who will have an easier time of it than everyone else: those dealing with "anything that's conventional and conforming," Duncan said. In other words, 30-year fixed rate mortgages for borrowers with good credit under the "jumbo" cutoff of $417,000."

From CNN Money

Maryland Welcomes DC United

Less than a week after MacFarlane originally announced his intentions for seeking a new home for DC United outside the boundaries of D.C. the Maryland Comptroller responds by welcoming MacFarlane's initiative and aiding however possible.

Just yesterday DC United owner Victor MacFarlane and team president Kevin Payne met with MD comptroller Peter Franchot expressing one anothers interests. The meeting comes amongst the severing of ties between Mayor Fenty representing Poplar Point and the owner over. The disagreement began when Fenty required MacFarlane to contribute $200 million to the Poplar Point development but MacFarlane was unwilling to offer more than $150 million...hardly a difference worth noting in the scheme of both the multi-billion dollar project nor the net worth of the billionaire. Since the dispute, Fenty published a request for expressions of interest (RFEI) from global developers with experience in waterfront development. The proposals are due this Friday, October 19th.

In spite of the meeting with the MD Comptroller, DC officials promptly responded by publicly stating their intentions to find a new home for the team within the limits of the city, a feat hardly worth believing...that is unless they can find 13 contiguous acres needed for the stadium site (or call on Douglas Jemal who to my research may be the single largest private landholder in the city).

MacFarlane has not responded to the cities efforts nor his intention to stay in the city.

Monday, October 15, 2007

PN Hoffman Named Fourth Fastest Growing Company in Metro Region

According to this weeks Washington Business Journal, PN Hoffman was named the fourth fastest growing company in the area between 2004-2006. According to the Journal, PN Hoffman saw 175% growth over the time period and nearly quintupled their revenue, from just under $10 Million in 2004 to just under $50 Million this past year.

"One Day, Washingtonians will be able to stroll along the sidewalks of the Southwest waterfront in D.C. and grab a bite to eat or window shop. And PN Hoffman Inc. is one of a handful of companies that hopes to turn that vision into a reality.
The developer of upscale condominium residences and mixed-use properties in the Washington area is one of two companies chosen to develop the Southwest waterfront, an $800 million mixed-use development near the new Washington Nationals stadium. PN Hoffman and Struever Bros. are planning for hundreds of economically and socially integrated housing units, a cultural component focused on education and maritime history, a hotel, a gourmet grocery store, casual and upscale dining, parks, open space and a promenade. Construction is expected to start in 2009 and to be completed in 2016.
PN Hoffman has been developing mixed-use projects in the Washington area since its launch in 1993."

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Discovery Channel: 'Build It Bigger' to Feature the New Nationals Stadium Oct 17th

Do you have a TV? I don't, but this Wednesday night, October 17th, 2007 at 8 PM on the Discovery Channel, Danny Forster will be featuring our new Nationals Stadium and the duration of construction.

Series Description:
"In Washington, DC, 800 workers attempt to design and build a $650 million baseball stadium in less than two years. Danny Forster finds out if they can finish the 41,000-seat Nationals stadium, complete with the largest scoreboard in the US, on schedule."

Show Schedule

Poplar Point Coalition Created Saturday as Opposition to Fenty Grows

Ward 8 Council members Marion Barry and Yvette Alexander announced the creation of the Poplar Point Coalition yesterday, just days before the RFEI's are due from developers for the development of the 130 acre site known as Poplar Point. The announcement comes as tension has been building between the DC United owner, Victor MacFarlane, former DC Mayor Marion Barry, and with not only the city government but most notably with Mayor Fenty. Several months ago a disagreement between Fenty and MacFarlane led the mayor to announce the opening for bidding from developers for the site despite years of negotiations between MacFarlane, Barry and Fenty.

Now MacFarlane has taken the opposition to another level by announcing his intent to begin looking for possible stadium sites outside the city boundaries, an act that is nothing short of explicit defiance. It seems as though the creation of the coalition yesterday comes just days short of the deadline for RFEI proposals (Oct 19th) and MacFarlane's new site search, possibly to hasten the parting of ways for MacFarlane and DC.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Monument Realty Sues WMATA for $100 Million

This past week Monument Realty filed a lawsuit against WMATA for $100 Million for the 2.2 acre site they expected to be purchasing but was instead contracted for sale to Akridge Development for $69 Million. Monument Realty was the selected developer for the Half-Street project at Half & M in Southeast DC at the site of the new Nationals Ballpark. The sale came as a shock as the Anacostia Waterfront Corp named Monument the official developer of the surrounding area and was under the impression the Southeastern Bus Garage would be included in the contracted developments for the area. What seems more surprising is the fact that Monument submitted a $60 million offer with an escalation clause stating it would increase its bid $250,000 above any higher bidders but still lost the sale to Akridge.

So far the city has not taken any action to settle the case.

Thanks to for the photos.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Whole Foods May Open in Penn Quarter

According to Shawington, of the Life in Mount Vernon Square Blog:

"Support our neighbors to the south & SIGN THE PETITION TO BRING WHOLE FOODS TO PENN QUARTER. Douglas Development has recently purchased the space at 7th & E originally slated to become a Balduccis back in the day. The Dowtown Neighborhood Association has been working to attract another grocer since that deal fell thru. As announced at the last DNA meeting, DD is reportedly trying to work out a deal with Whole Foods now and the neighborhood is demonstrating the demand for a grocer by this petition. So if you live near, work in, or shop in Penn Quarter, take a moment and fill it out!"

Also see DCist Artice Whole Foods in Talks for Gallery Place Space

This entry by Whole Foods marks the second possible entry into Penn Quarter by a grocery store. The first was a Safeway at 1010 Mass Ave.

Buyers Get Ready! DC September Sales Down 42% in '07 vs '06

So whats going on with the market? As the market has taken a turn downward in recent years it has taken cities like DC and New York almost 8 months to feel the same pain many other areas of the country have been feeling in recent months. Well, its finally here. Recently the Greater Capital Association of Realtors released the reports of September and the numbers are not looking to good for sellers. According to the GCAAR DC condo sales volume is down 29 percent this September when compared to last September (286 units vs 204 units) and single family home sales are down 42 percent (304 units vs 176 units). GCAAR STATISTICS

What does this mean?

It means that DC may undergo a bit of a price reduction for those in need to sell over this winter, at least in my opinion until the third month in 2008. We have been noticing corrective measures and unusual incentives offered by buyers but its time to take everything to the next level for the interim. Possibly upwards to 5 percent for the time being, and NOT after the property is on the market for a month and you consider a reduction...the discount MUST be accounted for upon initial listing of the property, when traffic is expected to be highest during the first three weeks of exposure. Reductions coming after the initial listing are only going to cause future buyers to add additional discounts. Cutting the price from day one will cause significantly increased market interest.

Not to worry....

My expectation is that we will have a much more *stable* spring market, back to the normal ebb and flow of market trending rather than the "binge and purge" effect that is taking place now. Sales will remain consistent throughout next spring, summer, and fall and interest rates will remain at historic lows. Additionally, with the upcoming (and hopeful) turnover in the government, our local market will undergo a home selling and purchasing trend unseen anywhere else in the country adding to the stability of our market. In addition, local job growth forecasts upwards of 50,000 jobs over the next year, all of whom will need a place to live, stay and settle so while for the time being the market has hastened, the long term success of this city is inevitable.

MacFarlane & Payne Stand Up to Fenty: Poplar Point or No DC

Just yesterday Victor MacFarlane, owner of DC United, and team President Kevin Payne finally took a stand against recent rival Mayor Fenty. According to a press release, MacFarlane and Payne have officially announced their intent to take DC United's stadium outside of the DC line if Poplar Point negotiations are not reinstated, thereby requesting 13 acres of the 130 acre site for the stadium and a negotiated lease for RFK Stadium. This release marks the first opposition to Fenty's recent [request for expressions of interest] for the site since Marion Barry was noted stating that he would in no way support anything but DC United. The RFEI originally intended to create competition among global developers with interest. The RFEI's are due October 19th, 2007.
According to the Examiner, MacFarlane and Payne wrote“However, given the uncertainty around the [request for expressions of interest], the unhurried pace of the negotiations with the federal government on the land transfer, and the fact that our current situation is not financially feasible, we have begun discussions with surrounding jurisdictions about alternative stadium sites."

For a background on the site see:
I stand corrected, DC puts out RFEI on Poplar Point
Barry Shuns Fenty in Rejection for Poplar Point Bid by MacFarlane

Thursday, October 4, 2007

DC's New "Hip-ness" Gives NYC a Run for its Money (NYT article)

Capital Gains

O St Market Update

As many of you have passed by and seen the 1881 Market Building at the corner of O and 7th Streets NW, there may finally be movement for the development of the building. The most impressive news is that the building may soon be housing the cities largest Giant Grocery store anywhere in the city! At the recent ANC2C02 meeting, this past month, Roadside Development presented their latest illustrations for the behemoth $250 Million dollar project.

Roadside Development is known for many of their incredibly popular developments such as the Cityline at Tenley (the Best Buy Building), and Potomac Town Center. This upcoming development should be their most impressive yet. Their proposed plans include the 65,000 sq ft Giant, 600 rental & condominium units and a 180 room hotel. Given that the project is "proposed" they will be applying for a PUD, requesting for the city to allow them for the mixed use development, and I believe they will get it due to the fact that the lot is 4 acres big. Someone please correct this statement if it is wrong but it is to my understanding that if you have a single conjoined lot of 2.5 acres or more, the city will significantly favor the PUD application approval and the likelihood is increased four-fold. In addition there will be several retail locations and a restaurant.

Its a great move for the area, not much has been done here in quite a while but between this development and Broadcast Center One (Shaw, the New Entertainment Hub for DC), the area is sure to change over the next two years. For more info, read my previous blog on the market HERE.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

A great Washington Post article about Poplar Point, Well Put Marc Fisher

Marion Barry, Soccer Maven

The area's wealthiest zip codes: Hard to believe

According to the Washington Business Journal, of the area's top 50 wealthiest zip codes, 27 are in Virginia, 19 in Maryland and 4 in DC. If you refer to my blog several weeks ago,To Continue this Morning's Blog...., you will see that Fairfax, VA is the first county in the U.S. to break a six-figure median income ever. Montgomery County ranks just behind them at over $85,000 median income. Georgetown, DC comes in only at number 18 on the recently published list.

*Please note that the above median income does not refer to household.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Jim Cramer Says Montgomery County, MD one of ONLY THREE Places in U.S. to Buy

Not one sign points to a falling market locally. As investment goes, buy low, as homeownership goes, focus on the future of your local market.

Victor MacFarlane on DC United Stadium


Jim Abdo on New York Ave & Bladensburg


New York Times Article, September 29th, P B6

A great thanks to Hillary Chura, staff writer for the New York Times, for a great article on foreclosures. I couldn't agree with her more.

Betting on foreclosures can be risky venture

New York Times News Service

With home foreclosures on the rise, buying a property in default may seem a sure route to profit or, at least, a cheap way to get a home. It can be. But it is not an endeavor for the shallow of checkbook or faint of heart.

Even though the number of foreclosures is at the highest since the Mortgage Bankers Association began keeping records in 1979, they are concentrated in a few states and still represent less than 2 percent of all mortgages. And while foreclosures can be deals, not all are bargains.

Pitfalls vary. There are buyers who bid too much in an auction frenzy. There are buyers who cannot inspect the property beforehand and find out later that it is missing items like copper wiring, toilets and cabinets. Or, a property may have a cloudy title, which may leave the buyers responsible for thousands of dollars in unexpected debts, say real estate agents, foreclosure investors, mortgage bankers and lawyers.

"There is danger in today's market because people who are thinking they are going to steal a foreclosure property and flip it for a profit are making the same error that caused half of the foreclosures taking place in the country," said Wayne Palmer, who owns the National Note of Utah, a money management firm in Salt Lake City.

The likelihood of making money on foreclosures has not necessarily increased with the rise in foreclosures. Certainly bargains exist, and the occasional unsophisticated buyer has gotten a great deal in the past, fixed the house up, lived in it and sold it several years later for great profit. But making money can be trickier now that the market has soured in some regions because prices have not yet bottomed out.

"Before, even if you didn't know what you were doing, you were safe because the general market was on the upside," said Joseph Tammaro of Brooklyn, a real estate agent and investor. "Now, when you buy foreclosures in today's market with property values in decline in certain areas, you have to be careful because you might be catching a falling knife."

Brad Rozansky, a real estate agent in Bethesda, Md., cautioned against thinking that buying and selling foreclosures is an easy way to make a living. "I have plenty of customers who have lost $20,000, $30,000 or $40,000 on a house," he said.

Many investors have a real estate or construction background. Others sign up for classes. After taking a seminar in buying foreclosures, Todd Vela, a salesman for a nutritional supplement wholesaler, bought two houses nearing foreclosure last fall not far from his home in Grand Rapids, Mich.

He said he paid about $20,000 for a dilapidated four-bedroom house in a neighborhood where other properties are worth triple that. He said that because the house needs $25,000 in repairs, including a new roof and new kitchen, he hopes a contractor will buy it as-is for about $40,000, though he would take less.

For the second — an 1,800-square-foot, four-bedroom house — he paid about $60,000 and made $5,000 in cosmetic improvements. He hopes to sell it for about $90,000. Even though Vela has not been able to sell either house, he remains upbeat about buying foreclosed properties and intends to resume shopping once he sells one of his investments.

"I've been good on picking up properties, but I haven't been good on an exit strategy," said Vela, who paid cash. "I've had to hold them longer than I originally liked. That's OK. That's part of the game. It's affected my holding times but not my profit."

Foreclosures are being fueled by falling property prices in some areas, people who can no longer afford their mortgages and a liquidity crunch that makes refinancing impossible for some homeowners.

Already this year, lenders have foreclosed on 355,624 homes, according to Preforeclosure filings — including notices of default and notices of foreclosure auction — continue to increase. In the first eight months of this year, 731,244 preforeclosures were filed nationwide, double the monthly rate of a year earlier, according to the president of, Alexis McGee.

According to, foreclosures have been concentrated in a handful of states this year: California, Florida, Illinois, Texas and New Jersey. Specialists say that by the time prices start rising again, 2 million to 4 million homes may have been subject to foreclosure.

In the second quarter of this year, an estimated 620,000 mortgages, or 1.4 percent of 44.3 million mortgages, were at some stage of the foreclosure process, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association, though only a fraction of that number will actually go into foreclosure. As a percentage of all mortgages, the record was 1.51 percent in the first quarter of 2002. While stark, the recent figures are not so surprising considering that homeownership is at a record high.

Buyers learn about foreclosures in different ways — some through relationships with banks or in-the-know lawyers. Since lenders want to maximize their return, they often outsource listings to an agent or hire an auction company. If they cannot get rid of the houses that way, they would prefer to sell to professional buyers rather than someone just looking for a place to live.

Lane Houk, an investor and mortgage banker in Fort Myers, Fla., said he sometimes gets discounts of up to 50 percent when he buys pools of 30 to 100 properties. He said he sells the properties to wholesalers and occasionally to individuals at prices below market yet still high enough for him to profit.

Others use real estate agents and troll the multiple listing service. Many longtime buyers, however, say that by the time a property has reached the multiple listing service, at least 10 potential buyers have passed on it, so it will not be a great deal.

Jesse Kaye, a real estate agent who works with developers and investors in the Washington, D.C., area, took a training seminar in foreclosure buying but said he decided it was not a practical part-time job.

"Obviously making $30,000 to $50,000 is an opportunity everyone would like to get in on, but if it were that easy, everyone would be doing it," he said. "If you're looking to get into foreclosure, make it a long-term deal and adapt. If not, just look for a good property, take 10 percent off the asking price and make a few offers."

The Article Can Be Found HERE

New York Ave to Add One More Building at Entrance to 395

On September 27th Bozzuto Group, a locally known residential developer, had a meeting with HPRB, or Hearing, Planning & Review Board to determine the feasibility of their newest proposed development at 465-471 New York Ave NW. We have no updates as to the results of the meeting but if they are following suit of the new development of Yale Steam Laundry on the same block, chances are we might be seeing the newest rental building in the city.

Their proposal is simple and straight erect a building in the Mount Vernon Development District and to enhance the gateway to downtown on New York Ave NW. The proposed building will have projecting bay front windows and will maintain similar architectural style to Yale Steam Laundry by stopping the bay windows at the 11th floor and maintaining a strong foundation for the development by adding expression to the first two stories of the building.

Most of the units will be one bedrooms between 500 and 650 square feet with some as large as 1100 square feet. In addition, Bozzuto has "offered" to relocate the historic building on their site
to the left of the new building and will add several units to the building as well as adding a fitness center on the first floor of the relocated structure.

The proposed building
Designed by WDG Architects LLP
87 rental units
40 car underground parking
85,555 gross building size (square feet)
31,663 sq ft underground parking
Full service concierge

Currently Zoned R5B, DD
-50 ft height limit
-60% lot occupancy
-1.8 FAR (floor to area ratio)
Proposed Zoning C2C
-130 ft height limit (Matter of right height is 90 feet but with DD, Development District Overlay, allows for 130 feet) This will match the height of Yale Steam Laundry.
-74% lot occupancy
-13 FAR (floor to area ratio, matter of right FAR is 6.5 feet but with DD, Development District Overlay, allows for 13 FAR)

While I wish I could say that this will be an easy development, Bozzuto has quite a process ahead of them, and dont think we will see the results any time soon, at least not before 2009.
Oddly enough, I looked quite a bit through Bozzuto's site and I believe this may just be their first new construction project in DC, EVER. Their history of projects include a vast set of dense residential townhouse communities and condominium buildings throughout Maryland and Virginia. Lets just hope they know what they are getting themselves into here!