Happening NOW | Navy Yard Open House

From 1 to 3pm today, and again tomorrow, come see this penthouse one-bedroom coop. (As a bonus, you’ll see me, too!)

1000 New Jersey Ave SE PH#12 is right by the metro, close to Nationals Ballpark, the Yards Park is just a stone’s throw away, and the building offers concierge service, a fitness center, and even an indoor pool.

An added bonus – for those who need to rent out spaces when traveling, etc. – this coop ALLOWS renting.

What else can I tell you? Hmm…for all who love Whole Foods, WF will be your neighbor at 800 New Jersey Ave SE come early 2017, while Harris Teeter and Vida Fitness are already within walking distance.


1000 New Jersey Ave PH12
Open Concept Design
Future WF and Canal Park
Financing- Informational Purposes

1-3pm TODAY | Open House | 816 8th Street NE Units 1 and 2

Just a hop, skip, and a stone’s throw away from the H Street Corridor. Newly built in 2014 by Connell and Schmidt, these units are none other than stunning – a “wow”-za-like stunning. With many developments planned for an already hot, hip, and pricey area to call home, 8/H is unique in that it offers the ease of condo living (monthly fees are also just $238) in a beautifully-designed row home.

Both Unit One (1,962 sq ft) and Unit Two (1,634 sq ft) have 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, private parking, and outdoor living spaces (take your pick: roof deck, or private garden space ideal for grilling, chillaxin’, and the like…).


816 8th Street NE Unit Two

See you. today. 1-3pm.

Home Inspections – Comparing Notes

Picture showing existing ceiling
Picture showing existing ceiling
Shannon #2 Ceiling Joists Exposed
Ceiling Joists Exposed

Prior to purchasing real property (aka your home!), most buyers choose to hire a home inspector to perform a limited examination of their prospective home. I recently had the opportunity to see how home inspectors conduct an inspection … on two different homes in D.C. While the method and steps taken at each home did not vary widely, the inspection results certainly did. So, for today’s post, I’m going to share with you some random and not-so-random thoughts I had about the home inspection process and the quality (or lack thereof) of the home renovations subject to inspection. And, in case you are wondering, each home inspection averaged around $450.

Home #1 – Brentwood

Before beginning his inspection, an inspector may check to see what permits have been pulled on a particular property (e.g. building, mechanical, electric, plumbing, etc.). In this case, the owner renovated his home without pulling any permits. While the permit process can sometimes be time-consuming, permits and follow-on inspections serve a purpose: permits can be pulled by licensed professionals only (except for the building permit in cases where the homeowner is acting as his/her own general contractor) and inspectors verify the work being done is completed to code. So, what did the inspector find?! Most noteworthy – in a not so good way – were a PVC pipe used for the basement bathroom that just happened to have been routed outside the actual home (cold weather = freezing pipes) and a HVAC unit that was too large for the actual size of the home. You may think bigger is better, but in the case of HVAC systems, the inspector explained, if a unit is not sized correctly a smaller system is actually ‘less bad’. A unit that is too big heats and cools a home too quickly (short cycling), leading to moisture issues as well as other problems you can read about here

Home #2 – Petworth

Structural issues, generally speaking, are a huge red flag for homebuyers. Even when embarking on a renovation project, the budget needed to fix what lies below the home’s surface or within its walls, can be cost-prohibitive. In this property’s case, cracks in the sidewalk and a deep dip beginning at the property’s center led the inspector to believe that the home may have been subject to a water main leak. Broken water mains have been known to flood homes with mud and cause streets to crumble. Add to this an addition that had never been secured properly – neither to the ground nor the existing structure – and a joist (what’s that?) that had been cut into and therefore compromised, this house was not priced to take into account its many structural woes. 

p.s. Following these home inspections, I’ve decided to inspect my own home (Shannon #1). You see, when I purchased my first property — and even now my second – I purchased a blighted property. In this category of home-buying, (1) a home inspection would have made me a less competitive buyer (think: the more contingencies you have as a buyer to opt out of the home purchase when the seller wants to sell immediately, the less likely you are to be the successful home bidder) and (2) it was very clear that both properties were in dire need of rehabilitation. Now that Shannon #1 is mostly complete, it’s time to find out how my home renovation compares to those I’ve so far observed in D.C.

1424 Whittier Place NW – Open House TODAY and TOMORROW

Come explore the Brightwood neighborhood (zip 20012) while I host my first open house today (2-4pm) and Sunday (2-4pm).

1424 Whittier Place NW, Washington, DC 20012
4 bedrooms. 3.5 baths, close to the Takoma metro station … all the space you said you wanted and needed in your new home.

While described as “unhip” in 2010, Brightwood today is a rapidly growing community.  With a new Walmart and Safeway, just to the south, there’s more change ahead in the form of the redevelopment of nearby Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

My thoughts: Check out 1424 Whittier Place NW today!

1424 Whitter Place NW

Daily Roundup – Zip 20018

20018 zip codeToday’s daily roundup is dedicated to my sister and her fiancé as we all search for their first home in Washington: zip code 20018.

As detailed by this 2013 UrbanTurf article, 20018 is dominated by detached homes and is bordered by the District’s eastern boundary, New York Avenue NE, and a western border that follows the railroad tracks, Franklin Street NE and 16th Street NE. Increasingly popular neighborhoods include Brentwood (close to the Rhode Island metro station), Woodridge, and Fort Lincoln. A new Brentwood village (re-developing a 20-acre site) is in the works for 2017, too.

So, here are some reviews. Today I’m using Zillow – let me know how it compares to HomeSnap, my take: it’s not 100% accurate.

(1) 2605 Hamlin Street NE | $619,900 – Pros: Newly renovated, 5 bed / 4 bath home with plenty of space … and off-street parking. If you like music, you’re a super short drive away from Echostage. Cons: If metro accessibility is important, this home is not easily walkable to the Rhode Island metro station. The exterior design – church/barn design turned into a home?!

(2) 2240 16th Street NE | $424,000 – Pros: Priced for renovating, and a $25,000 buyer’s credit for updates is provided. Walking distance to the metro. Cons: Zillow lists it. Trulia does not. My MLS access doesn’t show the listing either … how accurate is Zillow?

(3) 3713 22nd Street NE | $419,900 – Pros: Detached home on a sizeable lot, nicely maintained. Beautiful wood trim throughout. Cons: An otherwise nice kitchen, but the stove is awkwardly positioned. You would be sitting/eating so very close to a potentially hot stove – see pictures! Access to two metro stations (Brookland, and Rhode Island) is not walkable.

p.s. There is a ‘secret’ property in this zip code that I won’t disclose because it’s in the running for one young couple! Good luck, Victoria and Jon! 🙂

Renovating using a 203K Loan

This afternoon I close on my second home in Anacostia. New Renovation Project | AnacostiaLike Shannon 1 (my first home, which I fondly call “Miss Shannon”), this property requires rehabilitation. While not new to the renovation process per se, it is the first time that I will be working with a renovation loan. Also known as a 203K loan, this form of financing is backed by the federal government and is available to buyers who wish to buy a home requiring both minor (e.g. painting) and extensive repairs. While the loan is appealing and will help me not only purchase the property but complete a full renovation (I fall into the latter of the loan type categories), it has been a labor of love before the actual physical labor associated with any home renovation has even begun!

You see, my lender has played an important role not only in financing the purchase of the house, but also in the renovation plans (which impact the property’s post-renovation appraised value); my contractor’s professional and financial qualifications; and, the monies associated with the renovation process (e.g. labor, materials, architectural design, permits, etc.). Simply closing on the loan after obtaining a ratified contract has taken nearly 2 months of preparation! So, if you’re looking to buy and renovate, not only can I now help you purchase your home, but I can better advise you on the ins and outs of the 203K loan.

Daily Roundup – Properties for Sale in Anacostia 20020

So as to give you an idea of properties for sale in Anacostia as well as throughout the District, I plan to highlight 3-5 properties daily. Today I focus on the 20020 zip code (Anacostia) and one from 20019 (Parkside). I’m experimenting with home websites, with today’s picks being displayed using Homesnap. Send me a message or give me a call should you have any questions, want additional information, or would like to schedule a visit.

1. 1818 MINNESOTA AVE SE, WASHINGTON, DC 20020 | $189,000 – Pros: This is a 2 bed / 1.5 bath home that shows well (inside) and is reasonably priced. Cons: While accessible by both the Anacostia and Potomac Ave metro stations, both would be a far walk. The home’s exterior is in need of some lovin’, too.

1818 Minnesota Ave SE, Washington, DC 20020 | Zillow.com

2. 1332 Talbert Terrace SE, Washington, DC 20020 | $120,000 – Pros: Investors’ delight (the home is currently under contract), and very conveniently located (just a short walk to the Anacostia metro). Cons: Home requires a full renovation, with mold remediation likely in the basement. Creative vision is a must.

3. 2223 NAYLOR RD SE, WASHINGTON, DC 20020 | $295,000 – Pros: Large property with three bedrooms, parking for 3 (yes, three!) cars, and there’s even a basement. Hardwood flooring is also awaiting your discovery beneath the home’s existing carpeting. Cons: Offers on the house are due today at 4pm. While the home has ‘great bones’, it still requires your creative vision and renovations.

4. Parkside | Pros: For those interested in new-build homes, Parkside is steps away from Anacostia Park and the Minnesota Ave metro station (orange line). 3-level townhomes will also each have a garage, 3 bedrooms, and 2.5 baths. Cons: While I can help you join the Interest List, actual homes and pricing are not yet available.

DC: Meet your newest realtor

Miss Shannon-a nowIn late 2010, I became the proud owner of my first home. I started this blog to both track my progress renovating and to bring positive attention to my neighborhood. Needless to say, the renovation project encountered challenges, and my attention shifted to learning how to caulk, tile, level floors, install new flooring, put together kitchen cabinetry … you get the picture. My friends and family helped me turn my renovation mess into the place I call “home.”

Instead of my posts about Anacostia and my home’s progress, I am thankful to DC’s UrbanTurf (see before and after) and the The Washington Post’s Express which did a superb job.

Shannon-a (Renovation Project #1) is now mostly … almost, complete! I’ve come to realize there always things to fix and change. For example, I’m still trying to make a rolling bookshelf idea work….Alas, here are some pictures of my first home’s rehabilitation: (1) The renovation process explained in pictures (2) House post-renovation  (3) Landscape 

Five years later — just as Shannon-a gets ready to celebrate her 100th birthday — I am about to embark upon my second home renovation in Anacostia. Despite the challenges, you see, rehabilitating houses is my passion. General contractor license in my future?! YES.

Most importantly, for now, I’ve begun a dual career: I am now a licensed real estate agent in Washington, DC! So, while you all know I’m a fan of Anacostia, I can now help you find a home anywhere in the District. Try me out:http://www.homesnap.com/real-estate-agents/KRISTINA-LESZCZAK

And, here’s to posting more regularly about renovation #2!

Landscape Design by Bona Terra LLC

Summer 2010 | Step One, of how many?

Summer 2010 | Step One, of how many?

Because I work full-time and spend most of my off-time focused in one way or another on my new home, I feel like I have been involved in the homeownership and renovation process for ages. Just so you know, I really only have 6 months of house hunting, 4 months of homeownership, and 1 month of renovations under my belt. I like to think of the famous Confucius quote, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” and apply it to homeowners: “Single-steppin’ it or not, a thousand miles is no short distance.”

What was Step One for me?  Continue reading “Summer 2010 | Step One, of how many?”

August 2010 | Metro Man: Are you Lost?

August 2010 | Metro Man: Are you Lost?

My first visit to Anacostia began with Metro delays [.surprise.], an “I can’t believe you convinced me to come with you” look on my friend’s face, and a concerned station manager. The end of this visit, as you may have already guessed, was markedly different. If one word could describe me then, it would be: challenged.

Challenged by a neighborhood, enduring. / Challenged to care, and contribute. / Challenged to defy stereotypes, on both sides of the river. / Challenged to renovate.

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