Close It!™ House of the Week: Beautiful blend of row home, condo living

This week we're going across town to check out a top-unit condo unit situated west of RFK Stadium and just a block or so from Lincoln Park in Capitol Hill East. It's listed at $475,000.

It's a 2 bedroom / 2 bathroom condo with private deck and two off-street parking spots. Plenty of sunlight streams in from three exposures. All together, it's about 1,100 square feet and just steps from Eastern Market, H Street, Barrack's Row and Capitol Hill. 

Assuming a homebuyer puts down 20 percent on a conventional loan, her cash to close number will be approximately $109,485.10. Monthly payments with carrying charges would then be around $2,253.33 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.

5 marketing ideas for real estate agents from Close It!™

The best real estate agents are constantly on the look-out for ways to better market themselves to their home buyers.

And while the latest report shows it's 34% more affordable to buy versus rent in the DC metro area, many would-be homebuyers remain on the fence

How can you get these homebuyers off the fence – and then convince them to buy the fence along with the house that comes with it? Here are 5 ways Close It!™ can help you market your real estate business:

1. Follow up with clients by sharing Close It!™ in your email, social media or blogging campaigns. 

You've already got a database of email addresses, Facebook page likes and Twitter followers. Perhaps some of those contacts are would-be homebuyers who aren't quite sure if they can really afford to buy a house. Reach out to them about the only app in the region that calculates a homebuyer's total cash to close. It's a fun and useful tool that lets them crunch the numbers any way they want. 

2. Customize your Close It!™ reports with photo and contact info.

You're already working with several prospective homebuyers who no doubt have lots of questions about how much everything is going to cost in the end. Follow up on last weekend's house tour with a set of HUD-1s custom branded with your professional photo and contact information. Your homebuyers will be impressed when you outline every cost for them down to the penny.

3. Appeal to the foreign investor market.

If you're working in neighborhoods like Georgetown, Foggy Bottom and the West End, it's quite possible you've worked with foreign investors or that you will at some point. Did you know that sellers who do not participate in the U.S. tax system must pay the IRS a tax of 10% of the sales price for all properties over $300,000? A surprise like that at closing could cost you a client, or worse yet, merit you a negative online review. Close It!™ helps you better serve foreign clients by accounting for FIRPTA withholding along with every other nuance of real estate law and tax code for each jurisdiction.

4. Appeal to the first-time homebuyer market.

The first-time homebuyer demographic may make up a smaller share of homebuyers now compared to historic levels, but it's only a matter of time before an influx of millennial homebuyers causes it to explode. And the millennials, more than previous generations, are more likely to look to technology to help them gather information about the process. Be their guide. Keep up with real estate technology, including mobile apps, and share your favorite findings with your millennial homebuyers. Close It!™ is one app homebuyers in the DC metro region in particular will appreciate, but there are many more apps, tools and resources to discover. 

5. Appeal to the move-up buyer market with seller's calculator. 

For buyers in the move-up market, how much house they can afford often depends on how much money they can net from their existing home sale. Introduce those clients to the app that toggles between a net proceeds calculator for the seller side and a cash-to-close calculator for the buyer side. 

Close It!™ is a free iOS and Web app that helps real estate agents, buyers and sellers drill down the costs of buying and selling real estate.

Close It!™ House of the Week: The famous Mushroom House of Bethesda

Halloween is just a day away and this week we've stumbled upon the perfect house, a one-of-a-kind home in Bethesda, Maryland known about the neighborhood as the Mushroom House.

Once look at its exterior, and you'll know why they call it that. The inside is just as unique and whimsical, reminiscent of a cottage out of Lord of the Rings. It has 4 bedrooms and 2.5 baths and is less than a block from the DC/Maryland line.

Assuming a homebuyer puts down 20 percent on a conventional loan, her cash to close number will be approximately $269,843.27. The monthly payments would then be around $5,758.52 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

Marketing Service Agreements face more scrutiny

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is actively seeking enforcement actions against Marketing Service Agreement (MSA) participants. 

Their latest enforcement action occurred last week against Lighthouse Title, a Michigan title company,  resulting in a $200,000 civil penalty,  forcing Lighthouse Title to cancel all existing MSAs and prohibiting them from entering into future MSAs. 

If your brokerage currently participates in MSAs, your broker would be well served to carefully review the findings issued by the CFPB in this order

Perhaps the most weighted finding by the CFPB stated that Lighthouse Title violated federal law by entering into MSAs with the understanding that, in exchange, the brokerages would refer closings and title insurance business to the title company and, further, by paying those brokerages fees with the understanding that in exchange the brokerages would refer business. 

It’s important to note that the CFPB didn’t state that the "understanding" to refer business had to be in the written agreement. 

One of the key factors to identifying an "understanding for the referral of business" was a determination that brokerages referred significantly more transactions to the title company when they had an MSA with the title company than when they did not.

Why else would a title company enter into an MSA and pay fees to a brokerage if not for the referral of business?  Otherwise, the title company would simply hire a marketing/advertising firm to "market" its services — right?

By its ruling and findings, the CFPB is effectively saying that if MSAs are premised on an understanding that the brokerage will refer business to the paying title company, then the MSA is in violation of federal law.

Close It™ House of the Week: A Cape Cod near the Crescent Trail

This week we take a look at a Cape Cod style home with four bedrooms and four bathrooms in over 2,700 feet of living space located just across the DC border in Bethesda, Maryland.

This house has a fireplace in the large living room plus a dining room that opens into a kitchen with stainless steel appliances. The house was built in 1951 and renovated in 2006. It recently dropped in price. 

Assuming a homebuyer puts down 20 percent on a conventional loan, her cash to close number will be approximately $212,329.64. The monthly payments would then be around $4,535.03 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.

  • Ways to save at closing

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  • What are closing costs?

    The real estate closing process involves loan steps, legal steps and title steps.

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  • What's title insurance?

    Insure your legal ownership just like you'd insure the building, but for lots cheaper.

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