Headlines: Arts coming to Dupont Underground; How will DC fund new United stadium?

Here's a look at what's happening in real estate in and around the District of Columbia.

Housing gets more affordable: Why aren't more millennials buying?

The problem may also be geographic. Rent gains are cooling slightly, with a slowdown in 14 out of the 25 largest rental markets, according to a new report from Trulia, but high rents still plague the youngest adults. -CNBC

DC neighborhoods with best price appreciation on 2014

Using legal subdivision data provided by RealEstate Business Intelligence (RBI), UrbanTurf dug into the neighborhoods where median sales prices rose the most between the first ten months of 2013 and the same period this year. -Urban Turf

Even in cold weather areas, winter is still a good time to buy and sell a house

Winter — officially Dec. 21 through March 20 for the upcoming season — can be a surprisingly advantageous time to list, shop, negotiate and buy. -Washington Post

Borrow it: How DC will fund its share of the DC United stadium

Two weeks after the D.C. Council adopted a stadium financing plan that he deemed "clearly unlawful," Mayor Vincent Gray has submitted his legislative proposal to generate the roughly $139 million D.C. will need to acquire the land and prepare the Southwest site for construction. -Washington Business Journal

It's official: The arts are going underground in Dupont

The Arts Coalition for the Dupont Underground has signed a lease with the city to transform a vacant former trolley space under Dupont Circle into an arts exhibition hall and event venue, the coalition announced today. -Washington City Paper

What to do when the home seller has dementia?

A Power of Attorney allows a person with dementia ("the principal") to name another individual ("the agent" or "attorney-in-fact") to make financial and other decisions when the person with dementia is no longer able. 

As with any Power of Attorney, the decision in regards to who to appoint as the attorney-in-fact should be made after careful consideration.

In addition, a successor agent should be named in the event the original agent is unavailable or unwilling to serve.  

The Power of Attorney does not give the appointed person the authority to override the decision making of the person with dementia. The person with dementia maintains the right to make his or her own decisions as long as he or she has legal capacity.

However, just because there is a Power of Attorney, it does not mean that the title company will allow it to be used for the sale of the property. If you plan on using a Power of Attorney for an individual with dementia, be prepared to answer the following questions: 

  1. When was the Power of Attorney executed?
  2. When was the principal diagnosed with dementia?
  3. What is going on with the current transaction?  
  4. How are the funds to be disbursed?
  5. Who is the attorney in fact and what is that person’s relation to the principal?

When dementia is involved, there is always a concern that the principal may not have been competent at the time the Power of Attorney was executed. 

The best way to persuade the title company to use the Power of Attorney is to obtain an affidavit from the principal’s physician setting forth the approximate date that the principal was diagnosed with dementia and a statement that at the time of the execution of the Power of Attorney, the principal was mentally competent and did have the capacity to understand the nature and significance of the Power of Attorney that he or she signed.  

Without this document, most title companies will hesitate to allow the use of a Power of Attorney for an individual with dementia, based on a fear that the Power of Attorney might in the future be declared invalid if it was executed after the principal lacked the capacity to make decisions. In the event of a future challenge to the validity of the Power of Attorney, the title company will want to prove that it properly vetted the validity of the document. 

So what can be done if the title company will not allow the use of the Power of Attorney and the individual is no longer able to make his or her own financial decisions?  

A guardian or conservator will need to be appointed by the court.   

A guardianship or conservatorship is not common, but it can be granted by the court when it finds that a person is totally or partially legally incapacitated. 

Since the procedure for obtaining a guardianship or conservatorship varies per jurisdiction, you should consult with an attorney if you are considering this possibility. 

Close It!™ House of the Week: Sunny 1 Bedroom in Adams Morgan

This week we venture over to Adams Morgan, recently named one of the country's Top 10 neighborhoods, to check out a beautifully renovated 1-bedroom condo with fireplace. It's listed at $379,000.

The unit is located in an historic, full service building and features 10-foot ceilings as well as a renovated kitchen with stainless steel appliances and vintage hardwood floors. It's just steps away to the bustling 18th street corridor where plenty of restaurants and quirky shops await. 

Assuming a homebuyer puts down 20 percent on a conventional loan, her cash to close number will be approximately $89,213.17. Monthly payments with carrying charges would then be around $2,209.01 per month. For a complete picture of the cash to close, or for a run-down of the seller's side of the deal, plug the numbers into the Web version of Close It™ or download the free iOS app.

Headlines: The real estate roller coaster; 7 mortgage myths debunked

Here's a look at what's happening in real estate in the District of Columbia and beyond. 

Buying trumps renting in Washington

A Washington resident making the region's median household income is spending an average of 18.1 percent of monthly income on a mortgage payment, according to report from Zillow. Renters are spending an average 27.1 percent. -Washington Business Journal

DC region's housing market remains stalled

According to data released Wednesday by RealEstate Business Intelligence, a subsidiary of MRIS, sales of homes in the D.C. metro region fell to 3,036, a decrease of 1 percent compared to November 2013.  -Washington Post

Renting is twice as expensive as buying: Zillow

On average, homebuyers making the nation’s median income and purchasing the typical U.S. home spend 15.3% of their income on their monthly house payment, down from the historical norm of 22.1% during the pre-bubble period from 1985 to 1999. -Housing Wire

3% down payments may be a game changer

Mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced Monday that first-time home buyers can now qualify for loans with down payments as low as 3 percent. That will expand credit for qualified home shoppers who may have been sidelined the last few years because of higher down-payment requirements, housing analysts say. -Realtor Magazine

7 myths millennials believe about mortgage lending

Millennials are forecasted to be a driving force in housing in 2015, with the majority of them being first-time homeowners. -Housing Wire

Real estate agent builds roller coaster house tour (video)

Dutch real estate broker Verder met Wonen found the perfect way to give tours to potential homebuyers: send them for a ride on a custom-built roller coaster through the house. -Distractify

Not all Power of Attorney documents created equal

The topic of "Power of Attorney" comes up pretty frequently in our office. On an almost daily occurrence, clients ask whether or not a Power of Attorney is sufficient for a client’s upcoming real estate settlement.  

Or, at the 11th hour we are informed someone who should be at settlement will not be attending settlement, and then come to find out their Power of Attorney is insufficient.  

Government mortgage entity Fannie Mae also issued new guidelines regarding the use of Powers of Attorney for purchase transactions earlier this year, so it seems like a good time to revisit the topic of Power of Attorney and discuss the differences between various types of Powers of Attorney.

What is a Power of Attorney?

A Power of Attorney is a written document which grants authority to an agent to act on behalf of a principal, in the event that the principal is unable to make decisions or act on his or her own behalf.  

There are several different kinds of Powers of Attorney, and it is important to understand the differences between them.

A General Power of Attorney is one that allows an agent to make all personal and business decisions on behalf of the principal.  It gives the broadest authorizations to the agent, and it is often used to allow the agent to make medical, legal, financial or business decisions for the principal.

In stark contrast, a Specific or Limited Power of Attorney is one that is narrowly drafted to give an agent power to conduct a specific transaction with specific powers.  For example, a principal could have a specific Power of Attorney drafted authorizing his agent to sell his property at 123 Main Street, Washington, DC, including the authority to sign all documents related to the sale, to include the HUD-1 Settlement Statement, Deed, etc.

In addition, a Durable Power of Attorney is one that remains in effect even if the principal becomes mentally incapacitated.  In order for any Power of Attorney to be accepted as a Durable Power of Attorney, specific language must be included in the body of the document (not just the caption of the document) stating that it shall "not be affected by subsequent disability or incapacity of the principal, or lapse of time."  If the specific language is not included in the document itself, the agent’s power to act on behalf of the principal will end if the principal becomes mentally incapacitated.

As each of the jurisdictions in the DC metro area have different requirements for drafting a real estate power of attorney, we strongly recommend that if you require the use of a power of attorney for an upcoming real estate transaction, you contact our office so that we can provide you with the required form for that particular jurisdiction.  

Or, if you already have a power of attorney, please forward a copy to our office for review, well in advance of settlement, to ensure that all the statutory requirements have been included for that jurisdiction.

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