Close It! House of the Week: Bright unit with luxurious features in a super walkable location

Close It! House of the Week: Bright unit with luxurious features in a super walkable location

This week we’re venturing in the super walkable Columbia Heights neighborhood to check out a newly constructed 2BR / 2BA condo, the last unit for sale in a rowhouse conversion project. It’s listed for $649,000.

Dark hardwood flooring, exposed brick and quartz countertops are some of the special design features offered in this bright unit that lets in lots of sunlight through large windows. The master bathroom features a marbled-topped vanity and luxurious rain shower head.

Assuming a homebuyer puts down 20 percent on a conventional loan, her cash to close number will be approximately $148,130.61. Monthly payments will then be around $3,253.75, which also includes the HOA fee of $190. For a complete picture of cash-to-close, including the seller’s net proceeds from this home-sale scenario, check out the Close It! Web version or download the free Close It! iOS app.

Top D.C. real estate stories (Week of April 24)

Top D.C. real estate stories (Week of April 24)

Two former Olympians now working in D.C. commercial real estate, a banner war in Southwest, high hopes for D.C.'s spring real estate market and more in this week's top stories.

D.C. building bans balcony banners after residents use them to argue about politics | Washingtonian

The likely inspiration for this sudden order, according to one resident, was a rush of political banners in the past few months, starting with a “Trump: Make America Great Again” flag that appeared shortly after last November’s election.

D.C.'s missing middle | Urban Turf

Their income enables them to afford a monthly mortgage, although likely not a down payment, for a home.

This spring's real estate market likely to be busier than last year's | Curbed DC

Some of the factors that survey respondents said will contribute to a busier spring include an improved job market, more first-time homebuyers entering the market, more qualified buyers.

D.C. area tops the list for black, Latino homeownership rates, Trulia says | Washington Post

The D.C. area tops the list for the largest increase in black homeownership between 1990 and 2015, with a 9.6 percent rise.

7 former star athletes in D.C. commercial real estate | Bisnow

Commercial real estate is a competitive industry, and some of the top players in the DC market have backgrounds in high-level sports that set them up for high-stakes dealing.

Close It! House of the Week: Bright, open townhouse condo with easy city access

Close It! House of the Week: Bright, open townhouse condo with easy city access

This week we’re heading over to the D.C. side of Chevy Chase to check out a spacious 2BR / 1.5BA townhouse-style condo on Connecticut Avenue. It’s listed for $525,000 with an open house scheduled for this Sunday.

In addition to an open floor plan with 10-foot ceilings, this unit features a beautiful wood burning, brick fireplace and a fully renovated kitchen with breakfast bar. A private balcony looks onto a quiet, residential street, but it’s just a short walk away to Metro as well as the shops like Politics and Prose and restaurants like Comet Ping Pong.

Assuming a homebuyer puts down 20 percent on a conventional loan, her cash to close number will be approximately $121,149.89. Monthly payments will then be around $2,721.16, which also includes the HOA fee of $251. For a complete picture of cash-to-close, including the seller’s net proceeds from this home-sale scenario, check out the Close It! Web version or download the free Close It! iOS app.

Our favorite real estate stories (Week of April 17)

Our favorite real estate stories (Week of April 17)

Is living in D.C. worth it for Millennials? Are robots taking over the home construction business? Why should you hire a real estate attorney anyway? All this and more in this week's favorite stories.

The Robots Streamlining Home Construction | Urban Turf

Humans pick up where the robots leave off, adding details to more-customized pieces and moving and packing the products to be shipped to development sites.

Selling Your Home in a Seller’s Market Isn’t as Easy as You Think | Washington Post

Some say a home in this market will sell itself. That’s true, but only if it’s priced strategically, staged well, photographed professionally and marketed properly.

For Millennials, is living in Washington, D.C. worth it? | Curbed DC

What needs to happen for developers to keep Millennials in the District is to construct housing that will appeal to the values of those who are trying to build a family: good schools, low-cost housing, and more space.

Republican tax reform plan puts 1031 Exchanges on the chopping block | Bisnow

Investors use 1031 exchanges as a way to defer the tax from any capital gains earned through the sale of a property, so long as the money is immediately used to purchase another asset.

Buying a house? Hire a real estate attorney | Huffington Post

Attorneys are the only professionals involved in the real estate transaction who represent you and are ethically bound to act in your interest.

3 must-have apps for real estate agents who crave better cyber security

3 must-have apps for real estate agents who crave better cyber security

The threat cyber criminals pose to real estate agents – and specifically their inboxes – has come up in a lot of recent conversations within the real estate and title insurance world lately. Wire fraud scams have cost the industry millions, if not billions, over the past decade or so.

At Federal Title, we’ve received several phony emails supposedly from real estate agents, asking us to wire funds to a particular account. We’ve read about these scams happening in other parts of the country as well.

Our staff is trained to spot these fake emails. We also make phone calls to agents, lenders, buyers and sellers to ensure the funds are going where they are supposed to go because we take our clients' privacy and security very seriously.

But in the interest of cyber security for all, we can recommend a few apps that we think are essential for better inbox protection. These services are free to use and go a long way toward protecting sensitive information, such as the kind that is exchanged throughout the homebuying process.

ProtonMail

First and foremost, make sure you’re sending sensitive information through encrypted email. Most email by default is transmitted in the clear or encrypted after it is sent to the email provider’s server, which means it’s possible for emails to be intercepted. Sending emails over free and public WiFi networks, such as in a coffee shop, makes the contents of one’s emails particularly vulnerable.

When it comes to buying or selling homes, it’s necessary to report personal information such as social security numbers, salary history, alimony payments, wage garnishments, etc. Your real estate agent and lender as well as third parties like the title company are legally required to maintain confidentiality, but a rogue party like a cyber-criminal is not.

ProtonMail, a free and open-source end-to-end encrypted email service that was originally created for researchers at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (also known as CERN in Switzerland) offers a more secure solution. Available as a webmail client or via the iOS / Android app, ProtonMail allows the user to encrypt email contents and data before they are sent to the ProtonMail servers.

With the click of a button, a user can enable to the encryption feature on ProtonMail and set a password, which is then sent separately to the intended recipient(s). Without the password, the contents of the email would present as a series of jumbled characters rendering the email useless to a cyber-criminal.

Another cool feature of ProtonMail is that it allows the user to set an expiration time for the message so that the contents of the email become inaccessible after the pre-determined number of minutes, hours or days, whether someone has the correct password or not.

LastPass

Most IT professionals will usually advise their clients to create a unique password that contains upper- and lowercase letters, a number and a character. The password should also be double-digits in length – and it can’t be used for any other accounts! To make passwords even more interesting, some companies require their employees to change passwords every month or quarter – and it can’t be one that’s been used in the past six months!

Who has time to remember so many random sequences of letters, numbers and characters? It’s really no wonder that so many of us will still default to easy-to-remember phrases such as “Password123!” or passwords that can easily be socially engineered such as kids’ or spouse's names, or mother’s maiden name.

That’s where a password manager service like LastPass comes in quite handy. Essentially, it’s a digital lock box that protects all your unique passwords. With a service like LastPass, all you have to do is remember one difficult password. LastPass will automatically remember and fill in login credentials for every site in your lock box.

LastPass is certainly not the only password manager on the market, but it happens to be the service we like. Skeptics out there may be wondering what happens if a user’s LastPass master-password is cracked, or if a security breach occurs that compromises hundreds of passwords such as the security breach of LastPass in 2015?

That’s where two-factor authentication can really save the day.

Google Authenticator

We’ve talked about two-factor authentication before, a second layer of security that user must clear to gain access to an account. A user must configure two-factor authentication with an external device, usually a smart phone or a thumb drive. We like Google’s free Authenticator app.

Services like ProtonMail and LastPass both offer the option to configure the account with two-factor authentication, and we highly recommend our clients take that extra precaution to protect their encrypted email account and password manager service. (After all, if a cybercriminal gained access to either of those services, it would undermine the whole purpose of this post and likely cause all kinds of hassle.)

When two-factor authentication is enabled, upon logging in a user will either receive a text message containing a six-digit code to unlock the account or be prompted to enter a 6-digit code from her authenticator app. In either case, the code is randomly generated and changes every 30 seconds making it virtually impossible to crack with a brute force attack.

Many social platforms offer some version of two-factor authentication including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Gmail and Yahoo! Mail. For independent contractors who use TurboTax or Mint to manage their finances, Intuit also offers a two-factor authentication option for their suite of services.

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