DC Real Estate News
Keeping up with the latest DC real estate news and market trends helps make your transaction smoother and more profitable.
DCRA Restructuring Bill
TOP STORY
DCRA Restructuring

It’s the DC regulatory department everyone loves to hate. The DCRA, or Department of Consumer & Regulatory Affairs, may be subdivided, if a new bill introduced by DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson passes.

The Department of Buildings Act of 2018 restructures the agency according to service type. Building-related services like construction oversight, permitting, building safety, rental code enforcement, etc., will be under the purview of the Dept. of Buildings, or DOB. The Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection, or DLCP, will be responsible for business and professional licenses (including landlord licenses), consumer protection and all business-related services.

DCRA’s failure during recent years to improve its service has been a source of concern and oversight hearings over the past year. Efforts by the Mayor’s office to reform the department have effected only minor change. The bill enjoys strong support among Councilmembers.

DC real estate market data
Market Update
Condo & COop Market Data Update

The District/s median sold price for Condo & Coops was $449,450. in December, This represents a decline of 3.7% from October 2017 and a 0.1% from December 2016. December is, on average, a slower month for DC real estate due to holiday travel.  Average days on market for units sold in December was 42 days, the same as the 5-year December average. There was a 12.2% month-over-month decrease in new contract activity with 274 New Pendings; a 10.5% MoM decrease in All Pendings (new contracts + contracts carried over from November) to 400; and a 28.9% decrease in supply to 529 active units.This activity resulted in a Contract Ratio of 0.76 pendings per active listing, up from 0.60 in November and a decrease from 0.77 in December 2016. The Contract Ratio is equal to the 5-year December average of 0.76. A higher Contract Ratio signifies a relative increase in contract activity compared to supply, and indicates the market is moving in the seller’s favor. A lower Contract Ratio signifies a relative decrease in contract activity compared to supply, and indicates the market is moving in the buyer’s favor.

How did your neighborhood fare?

Chevy Chase DC neighborhood
TOPA Reform
TOPA Reform Bills

In 2017, Ward 1 Councilmembers Anita Bonds and Brianne Nadeau each proposed bills restricting TOPA. Bonds’ bill, TOPA Accessory Dwelling Unit Amendment Act, exempts a dwelling’s rental portion such as a basement apartment, from the law if it consists of less than a third of the total square footage and the dwelling is owner-occupied. This bill shortens deadlines associated with TOPA. Nadeau’s Home Sale Facilitation Amendment Act, prevents tenants in owner-occupied single-family dwellings from selling or assigning their TOPA rights. This bill also shortens TOPA deadlines for single-family homes.

Approximately 200 people attended the DC Council hearing on TOPA reform on September 21st, with about 25 testifying to the Committee on Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson said that, while he continues to be an advocate for tenant rights, there were a number of TOPA issues that would not be remedied by newly proposed legislation and he stated his support for a full TOPA exemption for all single-family homes, eliciting a standing ovation.  A “Fix TOPA” website was launched to document TOPA horror stories.
Next steps are amendment mark-ups, a Council vote, then a 30-day U.S. congress review.
House Flips in DC
“Flips”
Why Are “Flips” Risky?

Beware: The house you flip for may be a dog, not a unicorn. And that’s giving dogs a bad name. “Flips” are homes that have been purchased by a rehabber and “improved” for quick resale. Unfortunately, a good number of flippers focus more on cosmetic aspects of the home and less on its structural integrity or soundness of electrical, plumbing and mechanical elements. Their goals are speed and profit, not care and concern. And that’s the good news. Some unscrupulous DC and NVA flippers have been caught drywalling over serious structural issues that later became homeowner nightmares. While some flippers do a good job, flips are an area of great concern and should be approached with extreme caution. Their popularity has exploded in DC in the last decade, as have the number of serious construction issues and lawsuits. With little regulatory oversight for permitted and unpermitted residential construction in DC, bad behavior can be commonplace. Remember, anyone can decide to start flipping houses, whether they are qualified or not. Permits may or may not be pulled, and in our experience, DCRA inspections are often ignored. Often the properties are held in an LLC to limit liability, so there may be limited legal recourse if you experience problems. Flips are classified as renovations rather than ground-up construction, so they’re subject to spotty DCRA permitting and inspection rather than the much more rigorous building code new projects are expected to adhere to.

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The Isaacs Team LLC
theisaacsteam@gmail.com
(202) 669-5343
Slate Properties LLC
1121 5th Street NW DC 20001
Serving Northwest DC, Northeast DC, Southeast DC and Southwest DC including Dupont Circle, Logan Circle, Crestwood, Capitol Hill, H Street, Kalorama, Mount Pleasant, Columbia Heights, Georgetown, West End, Burleith, Foggy Bottom, Shaw, LeDroit Park, Bloomingdale, U Street, Penn Quarter, Mt. Vernon Triangle, Palisades, Chevy Chase, Friendship Heights, Barnaby Woods, American University Park, Observatory Circle, Forest Hills, Woodley Park, FoxHall, 14th Street Corridor, U Street Corridor, Meridian Hill, Hill East, Barracks Row, Eastern Market and portions of Northern Virginia including Arlington, Alexandria, McLean, Great Falls, Fairfax, Vienna and Falls Church. We do not handle leasing transactions.

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