Spring is a beautiful time of year. Flowers come out to bloom (including DC’s famous Cherry Blossoms), the weather warms up, neighborhood kids come out to play, and BBQ’s are abundant. But during this wonderful time of year, home maintenance needs to be done. Heavy April rains and intense July heat can cause significant wear and tear on your home. Use the following items as a checklist to make sure your house is ready for whatever the season throws at you.

 

Check the Roof

Examine roof shingles to see if any were lost or damaged during winter. If your home has an older roof covering, you may want to start a budget for replacement. The summer sun can really damage roof shingles. Shingles that are cracked, buckled or loose or are missing granules need to be replaced.

 

Clear Gutters

Check around your home for loose or leaky gutters. Improper drainage can lead to water in the basement or crawl space. Make sure downspouts drain away from the foundation and are clear and free of debris.

 

Inspect Wood

Heavy rains and intense heat are especially tough on wood. Use a screwdriver to probe the wood trim around windows, doors, railings and decks. Make repairs now before the spring rains do more damage to the exposed wood.

Test Outdoor Faucets

Check outside hose faucets for freeze damage. Turn the water on and place your thumb or finger over the opening. If you can stop the flow of water, it is likely the pipe inside the home is damaged and will need to be replaced. While you’re at it, check the garden hose for rot and damage.

Service the AC Unit

Have a HVAC professional come and clean the outside unit for your air conditioning system. Clean coils operate more efficiently, and an annual service call will keep the system working at peak performance levels. Be sure to also change interior AC filters on a regular basis.

Lay Compacted Soil

Low areas in the yard or next to the foundation should be filled with compacted soil. Spring rains can cause yard flooding, which can lead to foundation flooding and damage. Also, when water pools in these low areas in summer, it creates a breeding ground for insects (such as mosquitoes).

Trim Overgrowth

Spring is a good time to trim plants and trees that border your home. Start cutting back before leaves have a chance to grow so you can see individual limbs. Keep branches a few feet away from your house so they can’t transfer moisture onto your roofing and siding. Trimming will also help discourage squirrels and other animals from exploring ways to nest in your attic.

 

Plant Some Color

Ensure that your home looks lovely by planting some nice spring flowers. Now only will it make it more enjoyable to relax in your yard, your neighbors will also love you for it. Especially if you’re selling your home, well placed landscaping makes a world of difference. You can even turn it into a family activity so everyone can get their hands dirty.

When buying or selling a home, closing day is the light at the end of the tunnel, the final hurdle to clear before it’s all over. A successful closing day is a cause for celebration. The day can either be a breeze or an anxiety filled headache. But if you follow these 3 simple steps, we ensure that your closing day will be as smooth as possible.

 

Step 1: Get Your Paperwork in Order

Before you even think to walk into your closing, all of your paperwork should be settled, organized, and in order. This shouldn’t be finished the day before, or even a few days before. Ideally, your paperwork should be finalized at least a week before your closing date.

If you are a home buyer, you should have the completed the following items:

  • Finalize your loanArrange to meet with your lender before the closing date to ensure that all necessary paperwork is complete and your loan is finalized.
  • Obtain homeowners insuranceYour homeowners insurance policy should list the buyers as insured, as well as the lender. Once you purchase the policy, you should make sure to have the insurance company send you a proof of insurance document.
  • Obtain Title Insurance. A title officer will perform a title search to make sure there are no clouds on the title (third-party claims to a property). If there are, these problems will need to be resolved before the property becomes yours.
  • Complete the Home Inspection. A home inspection is not required, but you’d be stupid not to have one performed. If you find a serious problem with the home during the inspection, you’ll have an opportunity to back out of the deal or ask the seller to fix it or pay for you to have it fixed.

 

Step 2: Review, Question, and Review Again

Mistakes are not unheard of at closing. There are hundreds of pages of documents that all need to be 100% accurate. In addition to reviewing your own documentation, make sure to look over the review the Settlement Statement, which is typically used for residential real estate closings, and contains an itemized list of all of the closing costs associated with the mortgage loan. Make sure you have relevant documentation of your homeowner’s insurance, a paid receipt of your first year homeowners insurance premium, and a certified check for the closing amount.

While you are reviewing everything, be sure to ask questions. Your loan officer, real estate agent, inspector, and other professionals are there to help. Don’t be afraid to bother them. If anything is unclear or not as previously discussed, be sure to make a note and contact the relevant party. There is no problem in asking questions, but problems do happen if you are too afraid to speak up.

 

Step 3: Clear Your Calendar and Have Patience

While closings can sometimes take as little as 30 minutes, they have a tendency to drag on for hours or more. It is important that you are not in a rush to complete everything and have the time to make sure everything is done right. After all, one mistake at closing (or a failed closing) will end up costing you months or years worth of work; so taking off one day is more than worth it. Especially don’t try to close during your lunch break. Not only will you be late for work, but you’ll also be hungry and frustrated.

Most important of all is to go into the closing with a Zen like mindset. Even if you have checked and doubled checked all of your paperwork, you still have to rely on the other party. Just have patience if something does go wrong and remind yourself that they want to complete this transaction just as much as you do.

Oh and…

 

Step 4: Celebrate!

Bowie is known throughout the DC metro area as one of the best areas to raise a family. The abundance of beautiful parks and reasonable cost of living are some of the reasons that families flock to the Bowie area. But the main reason that families stay in Bowie is because of the great community organizations. Here we’ll rundown a few of the community groups that help Bowie to shine.

 

Bowie Community Theater

The Bowie Community Theatre was founded in 1967. The Arts Center later became known as the Theater in the Woods because of its bucolic setting. However, after years of answering the question “where do you perform in inclement weather?” the BCT Board of Directors in conjunction with the other companies sharing the venue petitioned the Bowie City Council to change the theatre’s name to “The Bowie Playhouse.”

Over the years Bowie Community Theatre, or BCT, has expanded its repertoire considerably, recently expanding offerings past the traditional dramas, comedies and murder mysteries to include more contemporary and thought-provoking work, which has been recognized by the WATCH awards and the British Embassy’s prestigious Ruby Griffith awards.

 

Bowie Boys & Girls Club

The Bowie Boys and Girls Club (BBGC) is a non-profit organization run entirely by volunteers. The Club was established in 1963 and remains commited to its mission of character building, integrity and teamwork. BBGC offers numberous sports and activities for boys and girls including: soccer, lacross, football, flag football, basketball, baseball, softball, cheerleading, cricket, kickball, track, volleyball, and wrestling.

 

Bowie Baysox

The Bowie Baysox stadium is like the old days of Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb. You can see the players and feel like you’re in the game. There isn’t a single seat here more than 100 feet from the field. There are no overpriced tickets here. $10 for general admission ($7 for kids); compare that to $30+ if you go to an Oriole’s game and sit in similar areas.

The Baysox makes you feel up close and personal to the game. On top of that, it’s a family friendly affair, with all sorts of silly presentations between innings, an area dedicated to the kids (including a carousel), and an awesome mascot (Go Louie!). The Baysox are an experience you cannot miss. If you’ve been to minor league games, you’ll know what I’m talking about.Take your family out to the ballpark, take them out to the game! Don’t forget to buy them some peanuts and crackerjacks; they probably won’t care if they never get back!

 

Bowie State University

Founded in 1865, Bowie State is the oldest Historically Black College/University in Maryland and one of the ten oldest in the country. It is also a diverse university whose 5,600 students, along with faculty and staff, represent many ethnic and cultural backgrounds.

Bowie State University provides high-quality and affordable educational opportunities for students with ambitions to achieve and succeed. In addition to its 22 undergraduate majors, Bowie State offers 38 master’s, doctoral, and advanced certification programs with specific focus on science, technology, business, education and related disciplines. A supportive academic environment empowers students to think critically, make new discoveries, value differences and emerge as leaders in a highly technical, rapidly changing global society.

 

Bowie Public Television

The City of Bowie operates Verizon Channel 10 / Comcast Channel 71. City Council meetings and other city government meetings are broadcast on this channel. In addition, resident information and announcements about upcoming city events and meetings are advertised on Channel 10/71. Videos about city-sponsored special events, such as the parade and Bowiefest also run on this channel.

The Bowie Community Media Corporation (BCMC) is a non-profit organization supported by a grant from the City of Bowie to produce community programs. Individuals interested in producing shows must be trained and pay a membership fee to join BCMC ($100 for City of Bowie residents). Producers must also complete a studio form and a BCMC form available on the BCMC website.

Georgetown is known as a luxurious haven filled with historic charm. Today we’ll take a look at the upper crust of the neighborhood by looking at the 7 most expensive homes that Georgetown has to offer.

 

Captivating Views of Key Bridge and Virginia -

3150 SOUTH St NW Ph 2A $13,950,000

The finest condominium residence w/ over 6,100 sq ft of custom finished interiors on 2 levels plus over 3,000 sq ft of terraces for the ultimate indoor/outdoor living. Dazzling Potomac River and monument views. With its superb location, 4 valet parking spaces, & legendary Ritz-Carlton services, Penthouse 2A is, indeed, the pinnacle of luxury in DC.

 

Exterior (Rear) -

3245 N St NW $9,995,000

Award winning modern Georgetown townhouse with an open floor plan. The incredible renovation features smart glass, geo-thermal heating and cooling, Bulthaup kitchen, Boffi bathroom fixtures, Nanawall doors opening to ozone swimming pool, glass elevator and built-in architectural antiques. Separate garage with parking for three cars and a fourth parking place.

 

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3053 P St NW $9,975,000

Magnificent East Village, detached home on prominent & private corner lot. Nearly 9,000 SF of exquisite detail & soaring ceiling heights of 13 FT 7” w/ spacious 9 BR, 7 FBA, 4 HBA, LR, DR, parlor, kit, breakfast rm, fam rm, library, & finished LL for staff. Additionally, the home is complemented by landscaped gardens, garage, sprawling terraces, pool, & side driveway.

 

Exterior (Rear) -

3425 PROSPECT St NW $8,500,000

This elegant Georgetown mansion has a long history of hosting Senators and Presidents. Built in 1797 by John Mason (nephew of George Mason) with brick he imported from England and named ~Quality Hill~ by its subsequent owner. The house has been meticulously renovated and features over 10,000 sq ft with 9 bedrooms and 11 baths. Each room has a preserved sense of history with modern updates.

 

g5

3257 N St NW $5,200,000

Built c. 1812, the Semmes-Rhodes House is one of six Federal rowhouses on Smith’s Row. This five level home offers ideal flow for entertaining. Features include double living rooms, elevator, six bedrooms, five bathrooms, study, storage and two porches, all generously proportioned with high ceilings. There is an 18 person dining room and eat-in chef’s grade kitchen. Lovely garden & two-car garage.

 

g6

3327 DENT Pl NW $4,400,000

3327 Dent Place is an exceptionally renovated and expanded residence with an updated open kitchen and family room floor plan. The residence spans a width of two townhouses and features a large, beautifully landscaped private rear garden. There are four bedrooms and four baths plus an additional detached caretaker or guest suite overlooking the garden. Two-car garage.

 

g7

3030 K St NW Ph 106 $4,395,000

Stunning 4200 sq ft penthouse w/ the best outdoor terrace in the City! Over 1000 sq ft of outdoor space enjoys 180 degree views of the Potomac River, Washington Monuments, Rosslyn, Georgetown, & more. $3 Million int. renovation completed in 2009 by Bowa w/ the finest & most tasteful finishes. 2 car parking, 24 hour concierge, pool, gym, shopping & restaurants, on & on. Must see to believe!!

Whether you’re living in Bowie, interested in moving to Bowie, or just passing through; it’s always good to support locally owned restaurants. By eating at local places, you’re getting a taste of the town’s cuisine while keeping your money in the local economy. While Bowie doesn’t have the eating options of nearby DC, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by that this quaint community has to offer.

 

Old Town Deli

Old Town Deli is a great local diner and eatery. Owned by a Korean couple, you’ll find great breakfast sandwiches, lunchtime subs, Korean specialties, and strong hot coffee. The prices are more than reasonable and the portions are filling. A great place to eat a delicious meal surrounded by friendly, smiling faces.

 

Jerry’s Seafood

For more than 25 years, Jerry’s Seafood has been serving the Bowie with it’s famous crab bomb, crab cakes, fresh fish, homemade soups and other gourmet seafood delights. There is a wide offering of Maryland seafood dishes, all with a local twist. If you can’t make it out to the store or live outside of the area, Jerry’s also offers next day delivery of all it’s famous seafood dishes.

 

Lima’s Chicken

Who doesn’t love a great Peruvian chicken place? Lima’s poultry is seasoned with a secret recipe and is left to marinate for a few hours before taken to the oven, which is then served with potatoes and a fresh salad. Lima’s Chicken serves large portions for a great price. As normal, chicken comes in ¼, ½, or hole chicken sizes with plenty of great sides to choose from.

 

Ichiban Sushi Asian Bistro

Ichiban Sushi can satisfy all of your cravings for Asian food, served in an elegant, friendly atmosphere. Of course, their sushi is great, with many different varieties and house specialties to choose from. If you’re not in the mood for sushi, they have plenty of Japanese, Chinese, and Thai dishes for you to choose from.  

 

Simple Pleasures Ice Cafe

Simple Pleasures Ice Cafe offers homemade ice cream, coffee, tea, delicious cakes, pies, cookies, torts, and pastries that are prepared onsite. Simple Pleasures also serves soups, sandwiches, and salads, and surprisingly great Cajun cuisine. If you are looking for a place to take a date, host a meeting or tea party, Simple Pleasures is a great choice. WiFi is available.

 

Best Pie

Best Pie is one of the best kept secrets in PG County. The owners have been baking incredible pies for over 30 years. They have over 40 varieties of pies, including all types of fruit pies and custard pies. Special requests can be honored if you contact them in advance. Lines are often out the door during holidays, so you’ll need to order ahead of time.

 

The list above is a good starting point for exploring the exciting local restaurants that Bowie, MD has to offer. There are many more local (and not so local) great places to eat in the area. Eating in out in Bowie will show you why so many people call this area home.

Top Six Things to Do In Winter In Georgetown, DC

DC’s most historic neighborhood turns into a winter wonderland each year as the Holiday season comes around. Here, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite things to do in Georgetown once the temperature drops:

 

Go on a Winter Sightseeing Tour

Georgetown’s 18th and 19th century homes are fun to see year-round, but they are especially beautiful during the winter months when homeowners adorn their properties with twinkling lights and evergreen wreaths.

Each Sunday Washington Walks organizes a two hour tour of the area, starting at 10am. Visit their website or call (202) 484-1565 for more information.

 

Go Ice Skating at the Washington Harbor

Georgetown is home to DC’s largest outdoor ice skating rink, located alongside the Potomac River at the Washington Harbor. Each year from mid-November until March, the fountain at Washington Harbor is frozen for recreational skating, parties on the ice, and ice skating lessons for all levels of experience.

For more information about ice skating at The Washington Harbor, visit their site.

 

Enjoy a Winter Dinner Cruise Aboard the Odyssey

Stay warm during the winter months aboard the Odyssey, DC’s premiere cruise ship. Enjoy freshly prepared cuisine, live music for dancing, and gorgeous views of the city as you cruise along the Potomac River.

For more information about Holiday dinner cruises aboard The Odyssey, visit their site.

 

Go Shopping

Known for its shopping, Georgetown is the ideal location to cross a few things off your list this year. From everyday favorites like TJ Maxx, and DSW to designer boutiques like Hu’s Wear and Intermix, every visitor to Wisconsin Ave, NW will leave satisfied.

The Washingtonian put together a great list of shops in Georgetown. To explore their curated shopping guide, visit this page.

 

Explore a Pop Up Art Exhibit

Georgetown GLOW are just one of the many short-lived winter art exhibits that Georgetown hosts each year. Organized by the Georgetown Business Improvement District (BID), such events encourage local artists to perform or contribute art. If you’re a creative, consider contributing to the cause!

Check the community calendar to look for upcoming exhibits and art events.

 

See Faberge Eggs at Hillwood Museum & Gardens

Marjorie  Merriweather-Post’s house in Georgetown is often recognized for its beautiful gardens but, during winter, it’s her collections of paintings, clothing, and – most notably – faberge eggs, that attract visitors to her estate. A thorough tour of the heiress and Ambassador’s wife’s house is well worth a visit this Holiday season.

For a sneak peak of the property and for more information regarding tours, etc, visit this page.

The highest price that a buyer, willing but not compelled to buy, would pay, and the lowest a seller, willing but not compelled to sell, would accept.

A written contract that gives a licensed real estate agent the exclusive right to sell a property for a specified time.

When selling your home, seemingly small details can be the difference between “sold in a week” and “sitting on the market for months”. From the moment that a buyer arrives at your home, they want an emotional connection with what they see. They want to picture their family growing up in the house. They want to fall in love.

While triggering such an emotional response from a buyer may seem like an expensive ordeal, it can be quite cheap and simple if you work smart. By avoiding structural changes and sticking to DIY improvements, you can save tens of thousands of dollars. Here are 6 surprisingly inexpensive ways to make your home sell faster (and at a higher price):

 

  1. Focus on curb appeal

First impressions go a long way in real estate. Make sure that your lawn, garden and bushes are properly maintained. Trim unsightly hedges, branches, and shrubs. Planting fresh flowers greets visitors with a smile and signals that you actively maintain your property. Put a wreath or similar decorations on your front door for extra charm. Also, think about replacing your door knob with a sleek, modern design to make your home look more secure.

 

  1. Let there be light

Dark, underlit rooms look creepy, cheap and scare away buyers. You want a potential buyer to be able to see how great your home is. So to make your home look more attractive, light it up.

Replace older light bulbs with newer, higher wattage bulbs to illuminate every corner. Install dimmer switches to be able to set the right mood for each room. You can even install additional ceiling lights in main rooms that need a more luxurious look. Ceiling lights may come at a higher cost, but they make a massive difference.

 

  1. A fresh coat of paint can do wonders

Most of the surface area in your house is walls and ceilings (paint). One of the biggest differences you can make in an afternoon is to re-touch and re-paint your interiors. Since you don’t know who will end up buying your home, you need to appeal to a wide range of potential buyers.

Remove old, dated wallpaper and paint over polarizing colors (too bright or too dark). Use neutral colors that don’t elicit negative reactions. In smaller spaces and rooms, use lighter colors to make the area seem larger. And if a house filled with neutral colors seems too dull, you can always use a tasteful accent color in the right places such as doorways, windows, and select walls.

 

  1. Fix what’s under your feet

The second largest surface area of your home is your floors. When you’ve lived in your house for years, it’s easy to overlook areas of wear and tear. Luckily, making your floors look better can be done on the cheap.

If areas of hardwood are worn out (such as under tables) put a surface rug to cover the heavy usage. Replacing fraying carpet with generic (even commercial) alternatives is not too costly and goes a long way to make your home look new. In the kitchen, cracked or dated linoleum can be replaced for more modern styles without breaking the bank.

 

  1. Upgrade your kitchen and bathrooms

The kitchen is the focal point of the house and one of the first places buyers go when touring a home. It is very important for your kitchen to feel warm, welcoming and up to date. Instead of replacing old cabinets, simply repaint them a neutral color. After painting the cabinets, replace the knobs for a more modern feel. Finally, check that all the caulk and tile grout is in good condition and looking new.

Updated bathrooms can add a ton of value to your home, but often come at a steep price. To fix up your bathroom on the cheap, replace small, dated vanity mirrors with a large framed mirror. You can find simple mirror panes from any hardware store, and then use a picture frame for a great finish.

 

  1. Deep clean and declutter

No one likes a dirty house. Hire a professional cleaner to clean in areas that you might miss during your normal routine. You may not notice much of a difference, but your guests sure will!

Also, move your family’s personal items, pictures, and knick knacks to storage unit. Homebuyers want to be able to picture themselves in the space, not your family. Removing excess clutter also makes your home feel much larger and less stressful.

 

While you can go all out adding additions and renovating your kitchen, know that you don’t have to spend mega bucks to make your home stand out. Finding tasks that you can do yourself saves tons of money. Small improvements add up, especially when you are smart about what you are fixing. And most of all, be sure to consult an expert when selling your home.

 

The use of escrow funds to pay real estate taxes, hazard insurance, mortgage insurance, and other property expenses as they become due.