Seven Tips For A Successful Buying Experience

With Spring officially here, the real estate market is in full swing. The process can seem overwhelming, and assumptions can be expensive. So take the time to understand everything, and don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions!  Work with a Realtor and a mortgage lender that will help you achieve your goals.  If you are planning to make a purchase this season, follow these seven simple steps, and you will be firmly on the path headed towards the house of your dreams!

1.  Get preapproved, not disappointed:

Before you even start looking at homes, it is paramount that you speak with a lender and get preapproved.  Sellers want to see a preapproval letter when you make an offer, so you will need it anyway.  Why scramble around at the last minute to get a lender letter after an open house on Sunday?  Trust me, that’s not always easy to do!  Plus, it is better to know exactly what you can afford from the get go.  Why waste time looking at houses that are way out of your price range?  Nothing will measure up after you have fallen in love with a house that’s over your budget.  Furthermore, some buyers will find incorrectly reported credit issues that need resolution, and that takes time.  If you get a head start on the loan process, you will save yourself unnecessary disappointment and be ahead of the competition!

2.  Understand the home loan process:

Don’t change or quit your job.  Yes, buyers have actually done this before and not understood why this would adversely affect a loan.  Don’t make large purchases either.  Buy the new car you’ve been eyeing after settlement!  And don’t apply for a whole bunch of new credit during the loan process thereby racking up credit inquiries.  Lenders perform a soft pull just before closing, and if there are any significant changes in your credit report from the time you submitted your formal loan application, your loan may not go through.  It is not a done deal until it closes!

3.  Make a wish list:

This is the fun part!  I usually tell my buyers that we will focus on their top three wishes.  Wish lists aren’t set in stone, but they can be extremely helpful in setting priorities. We always have to make compromises, so it is useful to know ahead of time where you are willing to make them.  Equally important is to know what your deal breakers are.  Think about why you are moving and what you truly want in your next home.

4.  Don’t lack vision and certainly don’t buy into a manufactured one:

Look beyond wallpaper, ugly carpets and dirty dishes in the sink. These are all cosmetic and easily changed.  If you are open to renovating, you may even score a great value on a property others have overlooked. Buying a diamond in the rough may be the only option to securing a deal in a Seller’s market.

Everyone wants the perfectly renovated and staged home.  Staging adds the “wow factor,” and for that, you will pay a premium.  And none of the furniture and art will convey!  Look beyond sexy staging to the bones of the home.

5.  Read and understand HOA and/or Condo Docs:

These are a week’s worth of boring reading for people who mostly aren’t prepared or qualified to read the legal jargon.  It’s all too easy to skim the docs or worse yet, give up all together.  What’s in these documents is information that is both vital to your budget and your comfort in your new home.

If you are not prepared to read the documents, hire an attorney to read everything and explain the pertinent information in plain English.  Also, don’t forget to request a copy of the last year’s minutes as they may include information regarding upcoming expenses that have not yet been approved and thus, will not yet be found in the budget.

6.  Make your offer in accordance with current market conditions:

Don’t lowball in a hot market.  Forget about asking for too much in concessions and be willing to give a little bit.  Otherwise, you will not secure a new house very easily.

On the flip side, don’t be scared to negotiate in a Buyer’s market, no matter how badly you want the house.  There’s no need to give away money you don’t need to.

7.  The inspection report may not be as bad as it looks:

How about those humongous home inspection photos that make even the tiniest problem look massive? They’re enough to disturb even the most level-headed buyer.  The inspector is being paid to be nit-picky and, thus, the report may be quite lengthy and the photos may be frightening and misleading.  There is no need to freak out over a plate-less electrical outlet, and many larger problems can be dealt with through further negotiations with the Seller.

Take the time to understand the process and you will pave your way to a smoother transaction and hopefully, many happy years in your new home.  Remember to have fun.  Good luck!!

Development Watch: The Wharf and Georgetown 2028

There are so many exciting things happening in Washington D.C., it’s hard to keep them all straight! Aside from the many apartment complexes that are literally transforming notoriously “questionable” neighborhoods into desirable, hip and fashionable ones, we are also seeing some exciting rebranding for our Nation’s Capitol. With a backdrop as historical and politically relevant as that of D.C., the developments currently underway are sure to make our city even more of a tourist attraction, while also attracting young professionals and budding business opportunity. With this and the expansion and improvement of our DC metro, I foresee a variety of investment opportunity in the next few years!

Here are a couple of developments to keep an eye on:

Developers: PN Hoffman & Associates, Madison Marquette 

I am already such a fan of this developing “mix-living” neighborhood that will combine residential living, employment, recreation and shopping; similar to the neighborhood style of Manhattan. The Wharf is a $2 billion development that extends along the Potomac River from the Maine Avenue Fish Wharf to Ft. McNair. The Maine Avenue Fish Wharf is one of the oldest operating fish markets in the country, dating back to 1805. It will continue operation but become part of a larger market that will offer a range of products. Additionally, the very underutilized Southwest Waterfront which currently houses the Arena Stage, Capital Yacht Clubs, Gangplank Marinas, several restaurants and few nightclubs, is being transformed into an urban destination that mixes maritime activity and commerce with culture. We will soon be welcoming a riverfront community that includes restaurants, shops, condominiums, apartment buildings, hotels, marinas, a waterfront park and an expanded riverfront promenade with public access to the water; all walking distance from the National Mall. The Washington Marina and the Gangplank Marina will be expanded and the 7th Street Pier will support a variety of water activities. The closest Metro Stations are currently Waterfront and L’Enfant Plaza, but there will be additional transportation constructed for easy accessibility including redesigned walkways, water taxis and streetcars. We’ll be able to say hello to the first phase by 2017!

Click on the image below to listen to developer, Monty Hoffman, speak more about the future Wharf:

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Developers: Business Improvement Development 

Georgetown is one of my favorite neighborhoods and I consider myself lucky to work here. It’s historic brick and cobblestone streets are both inspiring and charming, and the multimillion dollar mansions dating back to the mid-1700s offers some very impressive eye candy! However, as of 2013, Georgetown has begun a slow and steady 15 year long facelift. Transportation issues, the loss of boutiques and independent restaurants and retailers, as well as chronically high office vacancy rates have resulted in a necessary step-in by the Business Improvement District (BID) to commence a plan to update Georgetown to attract more tourists and improve the employment landscape.

The BID’s list of improvements include the need for restoration of our historic C&O Canal which has suffered from cutbacks from the National Park Service Budget. In addition to rebuilding the narrow, uneven towpath to include benches and room for bikers and joggers, the Georgetown Canal Boat, which was used for 30 years for historic tours and educational purposes, will be recommissioned to serve as the anchor for a vibrant park where one can paddle boat, jog, bike, or of course, relax. The goal is to make this tourist attraction safe, beautiful and better maintained for tourists and locals.

Screenshot 2015-01-15 10.54.57Due to lack of traffic south of M street, Georgetown Boutiques and independent restaurants have had to leave their shops to follow traffic further up Wisconsin Avenue, or left Georgetown altogether. Additionally, office vacancy rates are at a chronic low in Georgetown! It just so happens that south of M street is also home to 80% of the neighborhood’s commercial office space. The recent opening of the Waterfront Park adjacent to Washington Harbour, their new [seasonal] ice skating rink, as well as the up and coming streetcar route that will begin operation on K street before 2020 are all part of Georgetown’s 2028 plan to extend Georgetown traffic south of M street where more businesses can enjoy profit, empty offices and stores will be more appealing to buyers, and a vibrant waterfront community can be developed. The BID is also working to turn ground floors of office buildings into restaurants and retail space in an effort to offer more to tourists and shopping locals but also to find ways to reduce office vacancies faster, which will of course benefit the economic landscape.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, transportation is looking to improve in Georgetown. Hurrah! BID plans to bring a streetcar with a dedicated lane and a fancy gondola to connect the nearby Rosslyn metro with Georgetown’s commercial district. While these two additional options open, plans for a neighborhood metro are also underway. The transportation plans will undoubtedly be another helpful benefit in the office market!

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Take a look at Georgetown’s detailed plan here. 

To say it’s an exciting time to consider investing in Washington D.C. would be an understatement. Feel free to contact me with any questions about developing D.C. neighborhoods.

More to come!

The Why and How of Passing Your Buyer’s Home Inspection Before Putting Your Home on the Market

If you’re planning on putting your home on the market during real estate’s upcoming busy spring and summer months, chances are you’ve already started preparing for it. And if you haven’t — here’s a reminder to start! Moving homes is a huge undertaking and being ready for every aspect of it can take months of prep work. Time and time again I’ve seen clients not give thought to their home inspection until their potential buyers are looking to schedule one prior to signing. Here’s the problem with that: if your home buyers have a home inspection before signing and issues are identified, buyers will want to renegotiate the  price or have you complete the repairs. Take my word for it, when you’re about to move — this is the last thing you want to be thinking about. In order to ensure the best deal possible and a smooth transaction, prepare for the buyer’s home inspection before putting your home on the market.

Here are a few things to think about:

1. Consider having a seller’s home inspection: This is certainly a good thing to think about. Home inspectors know exactly what to look for. Often times, you’ll be alerted to only quick, easy to fix issues that you were simply unaware of. By having them fixed before the buyers inspection, your home will look in very good shape thereby justifying your price.

Alternatively, if something arises that you do not want to repair, your honesty and disclosure of the issue prior to your buyers submitting an offer will likely keep them from wanting to renegotiate. Buyers will also feel confident that you know exactly what you are selling them and that the price you have chosen takes all items into consideration. Trust is the most valuable attribute for a seamless real estate transaction.

2. Documentation of maintenance: Assemble all maintenance documentation in a folder. Keep note of who has performed work on your house, exactly what was needed, and how the house and it’s systems have been maintained and running in at least the last five years. Have the folder available for potential buyers to look through before signing, and then have after signing.

3. Disclose everything: In addition to the above, if there has been a problem in the time that you have lived in the house and you have done what was necessary to rectify said problem, discuss and show potential buyers before a home inspection so that they are aware.

4. Bright lights and clutter free: Make sure all parts of the house are accessible and well lit for potential buyers. Avoid having boxes or general clutter piled up in corners, basements and attics and, if possible, bulky plants should be removed. Do everything you can to make sure the entire house can be seen easily.

5. Do not attend the buyer’s home inspection. Now that you’ve done all that you can do, there is no need to be present for the inspection. By the time the inspection has been scheduled, you have provided them will all necessary information and done your best to ensure that your home is in its best possible condition. Give them the time and space to make the decision best for them.

Good luck!

2.6 Million Dollar Listing on the Washington Harbour

The completely re-built river view penthouse on the Washington Harbour is listed at $2,600,000. The penthouse is approximately 2,800 square feet with a private terrace, 2 deeded garage spaces, skylights, 2 gas fire places and high end finishes throughout. The full-service building includes a 24 hour desk and doorman, outdoor pool and gym, Starbucks downstairs, and the National Park next door.

Address: 3030 K Street NW, #PH-303

View the original Trulia listing here.

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Curbside’s Hot Spots (no pun intended) for Food and Drink by the Fire

It’s the time of year where nothing beats a tasty cocktail by the fire! Here are my favorite restaurants and bars where you can enjoy some of the best food and drink that Washington D.C. has to offer while snuggling up by a romantic fire.

Iron Gate

1734 N Street, NW

You can’t get better than the romantic ambience offered at one of the most unique restaurants in all of D.C. The original carriageway of this historic landmark houses the bar and dining space while the courtyard, sheltered with a natural awning of century old wisteria and hanging grapevines, provides an outdoor dining space used all year round.

Their drinks, you ask? Perfection. And even more perfectly enjoyed in front of their beautiful fireplace!


The Jefferson Hotel 
1200 16th st., NW 

Plume was recently named the only 5 star restaurant in Washington D.C. by Forbes Travel Guide …Need I say more?

The menu, inspired by the harvest from Thomas Jefferson’s kitchen gardens at Monticello, was designed by a most impressive culinary team and is just as 5 star as the ambience. Plume somehow manages to be upscale and elegant while being romantic and private all at the same time.


1226 36th st. NW

1789 is another unique, historical and must-try spot. Located in a federal period house, it’s six dining rooms have an extensive history and are completely decorated with American antiques and historical prints, making it an unforgettable ambience that I’d recommend every D.C. Native try at least once. It’s rustic but elegant ambience paired with the toasty fire and long wine list makes this a fun winter date night or an interesting spot to bring your tourist friends.

Bistro Bis

Capitol Hill15 E. Street, NW

Current, modern and sophisticated, Bistro Bis is where everybody who’s anybody wants to dine. Having dinner here makes it very likely that you’ll be rubbing shoulders with Washington D.C.’s elite while cocktail-ing it by the fire. The menu, which is focused on modern interpretations of French cuisine, is top notch every time. Open breakfast, lunch and dinner — this is one of those spots to put on the bucket list whether you’re able to snag a table by the fire or not!

Room 11

3234 11th St., NW 

Their food and drink selection is small but mighty! Every option is interesting and very different from the next, making this a spot where you just can’t go wrong. Everything about this place is hip and cool, and yet cozy and warm. And yes, there’s a fireplace, of course.

Ya see? You just can’t go wrong.

Farmers Fishers and Bakers

3000 K Street, NW

A total winner, especially if you have kids. Aside from the fact that this place operates as a certified green restaurant and the cool, hip and casual ambience actually makes you feel like you’re dining at a farm; you can enjoy cocktails by the fire pit as you watch your kids ice skate at the rink located out front. 2 birds…1 stone.

Harth (patio)

Hilton McLean Tysons Corner
7920 Jones Branch Drive

Being in a hotel, this spot has the added advantage of not only being a nighttime spot to celebrate or hangout with friends, but a day time spot where you can have a wi-fi connection!! Yep…not too shabby. So whether work is stressing you out and a cocktail by the fire is just what you need to get the job done, or you’re looking for a cozy spot to have a seasonal honey inspired drink — oh ya, I forgot to mention that Harth has it’s own rooftop beehive where it produces 200 pounds of honey a year!! — this is the spot for you.

Get Buzzed happy hour (get it? because of the bee hive?…cute) includes specials on honey-themed cocktails and made to order flatbreads. And just FYI: Cigars are now available for purchase.

Chez Billy

3815 Georgia Ave., NW

The original French bistro, recently joined by a very chic sister eatery in Georgetown. A large hearth warms the rustic dining room and bar and perfectly compliments their heartier french dishes on their menu, such as the delicious boeuf bourguignon and French onion soup.

Tuesday – Saturday from 5:30 – 7:30, enjoy 5$ stellas, glasses of wine and a seasonal cocktail. Specials also run 5:30 – close on Sunday nights.

Bourbon Steak (winter lounge)

2800 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

Cuddle up by the fire under faux fur blankets on their red-brick walled patio, decorated charmingly with twinkle lights. Duane Sylvestre’s hot cocktails include spiked hot cocoa and steamy buttered rum…The food here is pretty tremendous, too.

OH…Did I mention that you can reserve a spot by the fire in advance? … !!!

Ritz-Carlton Georgetown

3100 South St., NW

This swanky lobby is lit by a huge fireplace where you can enjoy specialty cocktails (as well as wine and beer) from the dimly lit, Degrees bar, and complimentary Valrhona chocolate treats nightly as well as free s’mores nightly from 6:30 – 7!

L’Auberge Chez Francois

332 Springvale Rd., Great Falls

So, yes, you do have to order a meal to sit near the hearth in L’Auberge’s formal dining room, but anyone can drop by the more casual Jacques’ Brasserie and have a hot drink by the outdoor fire pit (weather permitting). Their seasonal menu includes champagne cocktails as well as a number of hot options such as mulled wine and spiked cider.

Happy Hour is Tuesday – Friday, 5 to 6:30 and 3 to 4:30 on Sunday. The menu offers a variety of French dishes (don’t miss their onion soup or their mushroom crepe) as well as creative and deliciously tasting drinks.

La Chaumeiere 

2813 M Street, NW

This rustic and romantic restaurant in Georgetown is a can’t miss, especially if you love French cuisine. Patrick Orange’s food avoids the fusion tendencies of the United States and offers an experience as close to country side France as you’re going to get! With it’s central stone fireplace and extensive wine list, this is another must-try for the holidays.

Murphy’s Irish Pub

713 King St., Alexandria 

So, a fireplace at an Irish Pub isn’t necessarily the craziest concept but — it’s pretty darn cool when said Irish pub fuels their said fireplace with actual wood! At Murphy’s, you’ll not only enjoy a toasty toast but trivia nights, live musicians and 9$ brunch deals.

Weekday happy hour runs from 4 to 7 and includes half-price drafts, appetizers, Jameson and additional daily specials.

Poste (winter lounge)

555 Eighth St., NW

Comfy couches, heating lamps, comfortable blankets, fire pits and mind blowing cocktails make this a top pick. How can you say no to a cozy ambience with salted caramel rum cider and bourbon toddies as well as tasty nibbles!? You can’t. But wait, I’m not done. Free DIY s’mores with home-made (yes…home-made) marshmallows offered daily. #CountMeIn

The lounge is open at 42 degrees or above, Thursday through Saturday, 4 to close.

Happy Holidays!
May a cocktail by the fire be in your near future.

“Hola Union Market!” Latin Cuisine is Welcomed at D.C.’s Growing Culinary Epicenter

Currently, more than 100 businesses employ 1,500 people in food production and distribution at Union Market, making it DC’s new and upscale culinary epicenter. Established in the NoMa neighborhood, Union Market has served as a place where a wide variety of ethnic groups and diverse social-economic groups can come together and share a spirit of community since September of 2012.

Though not yet confirmed, according to a letter submitted to the D.C. Zoning Commission last month, a brand new cuisine will be welcomed soon at the Union Market Establishment: Latin!

Edens, the Union Market developer, has (according to aforementioned letter) signed a lease for a 20,000 square foot Latin market that will be located in a brand new 520 unit residential building planned for 1270 Fourth Street, NE. The market will be a new concept from chef Jose Garces, offering a variety of Latin groceries and prepared foods. Garces is the owner of more than a dozen Latin-inspired restaurants in Philadelphia, Arizona, California and Illinois. He was welcomed by D.C. this past summer with Rural Society, a Latin steakhouse in the Loews Madison Hotel.

Following the opening of the Union market, the NoMa neighborhood has become a hot-spot for all things delicious! Adding Latin would be only the latest addition to an already rapidly growing cullinary epicenter. Since the market’s opening, Edens has also opened a Dolcezza Gelato Factory, the Artisan Coffee Lab, as well as Red Apron Butcher’s meat professing facility behind the market. Edens also opened the second floor event space called Dock 5 and a temporary pop-up movie theater from Angelika Film Center in advance of a permanent Angelika that will open as part of the redevelopment of the existing market building.

Whether we have confirmation on the Latin market or not, Edens has big plans for the further development of Union Market and it’s surrounding areas. In addition to the Fourth Street building that would house Garces’ market, Edens’ developing company has been quietly acquiring a number of properties on Fifth Street NE, making it clear that NoMa neighborhood is yet another developing D.C. hot spot to keep an eye on.

“Take the Silver Line For All Your Holiday Needs!” Says Tysons

Tysons Corner Center had the official celebration for the opening of their Silver Line on November 29th! It’s officially official — DC’s favorite holiday shopping destination is about to become DC’s favorite shopping destination, period. Where once you could only visit Tysons if you had a car or lived locally, now anyone with a metro card will be riding the Silver Line and adding to the already 100,000 daily visitors. As a result of the Silver Line Metro, some retailers have reported double-digit percentage increases in weekend sales compared to the same period last year.

Here are some of the promotions Tysons is using to attract shoppers this holiday season:

  1. Brave the weekend crowd so you can take advantage of Silver Saturdays! Since November 15th, anyone who shows their Metro SmarTrip card at the guest services desk at Tysons Corner Center will receive a booklet with coupons from more than 60 retailers. The deals are good every Saturday through Christmas and comes with a free roll of silver wrapping paper!!
  2. Hello to Home Delivery! If you’re riding the Silver Line to Tysons but are worried about lugging your finds home on the train, you are in some serious holiday luck! Tysons Corner Center is working with delivery service, Deliv, to provide home delivery for shoppers’ packages. Deliv will deliver up to 50 pounds worth of packages to any address within a 10 mile radius of the shopping center for 5$. Shoppers can bring packages to the concierge or text Deliv from wherever they are in the mall and have the concierge service come and retrieve the packages directly from you so you can continue shopping. If you’re at Macy’s or Bloomingdale’s, Deliv will have a concierge service specific to those stores, as well.
  3.  Winter Wonderland a la Silver Line! As of Black Friday, the plaza that connects the Silver Line with Tysons Corner Center will be turned into a huge winter festival throughout the holiday season. Enjoy a 5,200 square-foot ice rink, a 50 foot Christmas tree, a 1,800-square-foot tent selling German holiday goods, vendors selling mulled wine, German beer, German fare, hot chocolate and coffee. This coming weekend, even more vendors will join the Germans, making this holiday season a truly unique shopping experience for this area.”As the years unfold, we hope this becomes our region’s version of Rockefeller Center,” says Bob Maurer, marketing director for Tysons. — Well, Bob, you just might be on the right track.

There’s a New Christmas Tree in Town. Three, Actually.

Washingtonians (and Americans in general) typically celebrate the start of the holiday season with the lighting of the National Christmas tree, of course! But — there are some new big shots in town who are competing for the title of “Holiday Commencer,” and not without reason!

Retail heavy hitters, Tysons Corner and newly opened CityCenterDC, are holding their Christmas tree lighting on the same day, November 29th. Tysons has become a major hot shot in the last decade, and now with the DC Metro extending a Silver Line to this major shopping destination, this arena will be more visited than ever before (can you even imagine!?). The Tysons Corner Christmas tree lighting will therefore celebrate the opening of the Silver Line, making it the official shopping destination for anyone and everyone in the DC metropolitan area. Hosted on the plaza that connects Tysons to her brand new metro line, guests can enjoy an ice skating rink…(I know, right?)…German holiday products and other craft vendors, along with German beer, gluhwein and other refreshments.

But wait a minute, with the opening of CityCenterDC, perhaps I’m calling this the official shopping destination a little too quickly. For the new downtown shopping arena, their christmas tree lighting celebrates the unofficial grand opening of the center which has gradually been seeing more and more activity. There will be another more official opening in Spring 2015 when the rest of their retail shops will be opened, which is when we expect the rivalry to officially commence. But there’s no denying that this years lighting is not only foreshadowing said rivalry, but perhaps requesting it! That said, I’m not sure how the downtown shopping center can compete with the already established Tysons Corner (this year, at atleast). But, I’m not done yet…

On November 21st, one week before Tysons Corner and CityCenterDC go head to head, City Market at O, in the Shaw neighborhood, held their own lighting! Shaw is a neighborhood almost entirely under construction. With the award winning Giant at O Street Market, a soon to be Cambria Suites Hotel, and a number of luxury buildings as well as a number of hip new bars, restaurants, and luxury apartment complexes; buzz has begun!! Their November 21st one year celebration included a santa sighting, neighborhood food vendors, face painting, balloon twisters and, of course, a Christmas tree lighting that was clearly taking place as an introduction of what is sure to be a future hip and major neighborhood.

You can read an earlier blog about the Shaw neighborhood and why I think it’s a neighborhood to keep your eye on. 

Then, of course, there’s the National Christmas tree lighting on December 4th…a televised annual celebration on the White House lawn, with a celebrity host as well as a number of major names in the entertainment industry. (If that’s not a party, I don’t know what is!) But, that said, this is all taking place weeks AFTER major developments in our growing nation’s capital have already sparked the holiday spirit (literally…).

So…when does the Christmas season start again?

City Market at O Celebrates One Year! Here’s Why This Neighborhood is One to Watch.

On November 21st, City Market at O is hosting an inaugural tree lighting ceremony; neighborhood open house; and a fundraiser for the Children’s National Medical Center as part of their one year anniversary! The open house will include a Santa sighting, balloon twisting, face painting, holiday arts and crafts, neighborhood food vendors, live performances and more.

Click here for more details and to RSVP to the celebratory event with special guest, Mayor Gray. 

The hip and modern City Market at O is located in the Shaw neighborhood, home to apartment complexes (both newly opened and currently under construction) with fashion forward, modern and beautiful living spaces. With amenities that include a pool, dog park, lounge, and fire pits, this forward thinking complex offers a lifestyle that is convenient and luxurious and is located in a neighborhood that is fast increasing in value and appeal. City Market at O also comes equipped with a one of a kind grocery store located at the historical site of the O Street Market. With it’s two-story architecture, wine and beer bar, and huge selection of prepared foods, the Progressive Grocer has given it the award for best overall design particularly because of the designs ability to highlight historic elements in a clean, crisp and modern layout. The City Market at O prides itself on it’s modernity and it’s ability to respect the history of the area while being the hip centerpiece of this developing neighborhood with an exciting future.

Apartment complexes currently under construction include The Shay, The Hatton and The Oslo, all of which are sporting the themes of style, redefinition and moving forward. The Shay, a building that will open with 248 units, has made a point to stand out as the “fashion forward” development, particularly with it’s desire to host a fashion retail shop in the building; it’s Instagram fashion contests; and the launch of it’s official hashtag, #TheShayObsessed, which calls attention to all things stylish that The Shay is “obsessed” with. The Hatton’s “Evolved Style of Living” will offer condos starting in the $300,000 range and the Oslo will house only 9 (huge) apartments total. With each of their three-four bedrooms (per apartment) having it’s own bathroom and the apartments being connected by balconies to encourage “community bonding,” the Oslo is marketing towards the younger demographic whom they assume will be living with roommates.

Additionally, a building of furnished micro-units are going up on Blagden Alley geared to attract the single professional looking to live within walking distance from work and every day necessities. There will be no parking, but instead bikeshare and car-share memberships as well as electronic displays to provide public transit information, an onsite bicycle repair facility and and bicycle helmets for residents’ use. The micro-unit is looking to be the urban norm in the very near future, and it appears that Shaw neighborhood is getting ready for it.

Creative and charming bars are also making an appearance in this fast developing neighborhood. Blagden Alley recently welcomed Lost and Found, a bar that was decorated exclusively with items which were….suprise, surpise….lost and found! Rusty license plates, vinyl records, old street signs and forgotten black and white photos have helped to decorate the place. Co-owner, Geoff Dawson (who also operates Buffalo Billiards, Iron Horse Taproom, Nanny O’Briencs, and more) is making plans to host a night where patrons bring in old bar stools and any type of unwanted decor so they can exchange drink for furniture. The drink menu will include 24 beers, six classic cocktails and a limited wine selection. There will also be an extensive snack collection but guests are welcome to bring their own food (from home or the neighboring food spots opening in the area) as well as their vinyl collection to either listen to their own music or trade them in for beer! Check our their website HERE.

All in all — Shaw neighborhood is evolving at a fast rate. With innovative restaurants and bars, a hip neighborhood that’s both historic and modern, public transportation convenience and every new development looking to offer life convenience, luxury and style — this neighborhood is not only a cool spot to call your future home but an interesting investment opportunity.

How to Winterize Your Home

The biggest mistake people can make is prepping their home for winter too late in the game. That’s why I’m sitting at my computer on a sunny, fall day where winter feels months and months away writing about winterizing your home. Because, unfortunately, snow and ice are on the way and will be here faster than you can say “Christmas.” Here’s how how you can start prepping now:

1. Clean your gutters.

Unless you’re looking for ice dams and icicles hanging from your roof, you must make sure water can flow freely through your gutters ASAP. I know this job isn’t fun or easy, but other than sweat and maybe tears — it’s free and will be a HUGE help to you.

2. Flush the water heater.

Particles and sediment can collect at the bottom of your water heater which will, of course, hinder it’s efficiency. Flush the water through the drain valve to clear out any lingering material and your heater will be functioning at it’s best. Again, you’re looking at a cost of nothing, so there’s no reason not to knock it off that to-do list ASAP.

3. Clock-wise (a.k.a. reverse) moving fans.

Here’s a sneaky (and free) trick if you have a fan. Hot air rises, which means if your fan is moving clockwise, it will help circulate the hot air along the ceiling and to the bottom of the floor. If they’re going counter clockwise, they won’t be as effective.

4. Replace Filters

Taking care of your central air and heating system by staying on top of when they need filter changes can significantly improve their efficiency and longevity. New filters cost about $10, whereas new air systems cost a lot more.

5. Weatherstrip Tape

Because drafts and air leaks increase heating costs, you can also invest in weatherstrip tape to make sure your windows and doors are sealed tightly. It’s easy to install and costs about $5 – $10 per roll.

6. Draft Guards

Draft guards will also help with the leaking of hot air and therefore the saving of hot air cost. They’re not very pretty, but they do work. You can snag one for $10 – $15.

7. Programmable Thermostat

Programmable thermostats make it possible to pre-program your temperature for when you’re not at home or when you’re sleeping and warm under the covers. You can save as much as 1% on your energy bill for every degree you lower your home’s temperature (according to The US Department of Energy). By installing a programmable thermostat you can make decisions that will still keep you comfortable but will also save you money. A quick browse through showed programmable thermostats from $20 – over $100 depending on various added features.

8. Caulk It

Any gaps in windows, doors or siding can be filled with caulk. For windows and doors with extra draft, caulk the outside and the inside. To be extra thorough, pull off moldings to fill all gaps in the insulation. A basic caulk gun costs $20, and $5 to $10 for a tube of caulk.

9. Chimney Balloon

For all chimney owners, invest in a chimney balloon! When your chimney is not in use, your chimney balloon will save so much money when it comes to heat conservation. It will keep drafts out and heat in, keeping you warm and your heating bill manageable. Chimney balloons cost about $55.

10. Turn Down Your Water Heater

Many conventional water heaters are set to 140 degrees F by installers, most households don’t need that much steam, but are paying for it nonetheless. Lowering the temperature to 120 degrees F will reduce your water heating costs by 6% to 10%. Or if you’re wondering whether or not you need a tank at all, you can consider a tankless water heater, or go solar. You can take advantage of the federal tax credit, which pays 30% of the cost for solar water heaters, or up to $1,500 for conventional systems.

11. Start prepping your home now. The longer you wait, the less you’ll get done and the less you’ll save come winter.