District of Columbia
Last year was a very good year for luxury housing in the District of Columbia, with a record-setting 12.3 percent of all homes sold closing at $1 million or higher. But the increasingly limited volume of affordable housing in the District has generated a proposal to finance new tiny house communities as a measure to fill the void of affordable houses.
First, the luxury housing news: WTOP.com cited data from the listing service MRIS that found 7,956 residential properties were sold in the District in 2015. From that number, 875 sales were priced between $1 million and $2.5 million, while another 89 properties sold for between $2.5 million and $5 million, and 16 sold for more than $5 million.
“It was a banner year in terms of million-dollar-plus listings coming on the market, and sales quickly followed to meet market demand,” John Heithaus, vice president at RealEstate Business Intelligence Inc., told WTOP.com.
Now, the not-so-luxurious housing news: The D.C. Council's Committee on Business, Consumer, and Regulatory Affairs is debating a bill that would finance the construction of 1,000 tiny houses around the District. These micro-sized residences would be available to residents making either the local minimum or living wage, seniors and Millennials. The bill would require all of these houses to be constructed by local small businesses and cost no more than $50,000 each.
However, the bill also requires the 1,000 units be evenly spread across District’s eight wards, and even the bill’s author, At-Large Councilmember Vincent Orange, admitted, “Finding six to 10 acres in each ward is going to be problematic.”
Are homebuyers willing to pay more for a residence if it incorporates green energy features? A new study covering the Washington, D.C., housing market affirms that question.
In the study "What is Green Worth? Unveiling High-Performance Home Premiums in Washington, D.C.," conducted by the Institute for Market Transformation and the District of Columbia’s Department of Energy and Environment, high-performance homes marketed with clean tech features (including solar power panels or a LEED certification) were able to sell for a mean premium of 3.46 percent higher than properties without these features.
“As of September 2, 2015, the District had 457 LEED-certified homes, and as of August 2015, 329 new ENERGY STAR Homes had been certified,” the report stated. “To date, while no homes or multifamily buildings in the District have been certified through the ICC 700 National Green Building Standard (NGBS), several multifamily buildings are in the process of obtaining this certification.”
But the study also noted that the local multiple listing service did not provide for the proper showcasing of green features on listed properties, while many real estate brokers were found to have an inadequate understanding of green building principles.
“This study, one of the first of its kind, employed an appraiser-led technique to value green features in homes and it produced a credible set of quantifiable results” said Sandra Adomatis, founder of Adomatis Appraisal Service and author of the report. “These findings are critical to support the growing movement to properly value high-performance homes.”
The nation’s capital has long been recognized as a beacon for attracting jobseekers, but more recently it has seen an exodus of people that are moving elsewhere due to the local housing market.
A new study of Census Bureau data by District, Measured—the blog from the District of Columbia’s Office of Revenue Analysis—more than 500,000 moved to the District between 2000-2014, yet the market only experienced a net gain of 90,000 residents during that period. This can be explained by having more than 650,000 residents move out of the District between 2000-2014.
“Why do people move out?” the study wondered. “It is housing. The top two reasons people report moving out the District in the last 15 years have to do with wanting better housing, seeking cheaper housing, or wanting to own a house, for example, and these reasons account for 36 percent of the moves out of the District whereas they account for only 12 percent of the moves into the District. Jobs however, account for 12 percent of the people moving out compared to 32 percent moving in.”
And the District’s loss is the gain of neighboring states. Between 2000-2014, 391,000 District residents moved to Maryland or Virginia, which is 42 percent of the people who left the city. In comparison, only 191,000—30 percent of residents who moved to Washington during that same period came to the District.
“Looking at the reasons why people move to the suburbs, housing still plays a role, but the top reason is to establish a household,” the study added. “It appears from the data that those who share housing in the District with roommates are most likely to move out to the suburbs when they want a place of their own.”
First Savings Mortgage Corp., based in McLean, Va., is now offering a new program designed to open homeownership options to recent college graduates.
According to a Washington Post report, the lender’s new Graduate Loan Program is offering 90 percent loan-to-value loans, both adjustable and fixed-rate, ranging from $417,000 to $2 million without a mortgage insurance requirement. However, the program has some significant caveats: Applicants must have a credit score of 700 or higher, a maximum 40 percent debt-to-income, and be able to make a 10 percent minimum downpayment, with five percent of that money coming from personal funds. Borrowers must also show that they possess cash reserves of six to 18 months to cover all financial aspects of being a homeowner.
The program is currently limited to Washington, D.C.-area borrowers that received an undergraduate, graduate, doctorate or technical degree within the past three years for in medicine, legal, finance, engineering, education or a scientific subject.
Gregg Busch, first vice president of First Savings Mortgage, believed the current economic climate will enable a strong interest in the program. “We feel things have come around—jobs have improved and companies are hiring,” he said, adding that the program may be expanded to other markets as the economic recovery widens.
Akinola George of Washington, D.C., has pled guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and mail fraud for his role in a mortgage fraud scheme in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. George entered his guilty plea to the charge before the Honorable Reggie B. Walton. He also agreed to forfeiture of $2.4 million, and is to be sentenced on Dec. 9, 2011. Under federal sentencing guidelines, he faces a recommended sentence between 27 and 41 months in prison, along with restitution, a fine, and other conditions.
According to the statement of offense, signed by the defendant, from October 2004 to April 2008, George, with the assistance of others, defrauded banks and other lenders of money through false statements and misrepresentations. George used about 22 sales of residential real estate properties (all but two sales were for property in the District of Columbia) to fraudulently obtain mortgage loans. Loan documents in support of these mortgages listed false employers and false salaries for the buyers, exaggerated the assets available to the buyers to pay back the loans and make a cash contribution, and incorrectly listed the buyers' intent to occupy the houses. During the settlement of the sales transactions, thousands of lender dollars were siphoned off through fake “renovation” invoices and misrepresentations on the settlement documents.
Through this process, George, fraudulently obtained approximately $2.4 million, even though he was not the seller on any of the properties. George used some of this money to pay for the assistance of others in the conspiracy, to share with other co-conspirators, and to pay for bogus “downpayments” for the buyers, as well as other items. For many properties in the District of Columbia, a co-conspirator acting as the settlement agent submitted the signed Deed or Deed of Trust to the District of Columbia’s Recorder of Deeds, with the instructions that after recordation, the documents be mailed back to the title company, which did occur. After closing, the co-conspirators failed to continue to pay the mortgages on some of the properties. The lenders were forced to foreclose and resell the properties at a loss.
Total Mortgage Services LLC has announced that it has received its District of Columbia Mortgage Lender License from Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking and can now originate residential mortgage loans in the District of Columbia. Total Mortgage is licensed as a mortgage lender in District of Columbia and holds Mortgage Lender License NMLS2764.
“We are excited about now being able to help borrowers throughout Washington DC with their current purchase and refinancing needs,” said John Walsh, president of Total Mortgage Services LLC. “Total Mortgage is committed to providing quality borrowers with some of the industry’s lowest current mortgage rates as well as great customer service during the entire mortgage process. Our team of experienced, highly trained and fully licensed loan officers are able to answer questions, explain the various mortgage options available and help guide borrowers into the right mortgage program that fits their long-term needs.”
Total Mortgage, which offers some of the lowest mortgage rates on jumbo loans, FHA-insured mortgages, 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, and adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs), is also licensed in 21 states including California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont and Virginia.
A former U.S. Army contracting official has been sentenced to 42 months in prison in connection with two schemes to solicit more than $30,000 in bribes and other payments from an Egyptian businessman in Kuwait, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride of the Eastern District of Virginia.
William Rondell Collins of Bartlett, Tenn., was also ordered by U.S. District Court Judge Liam O’Grady to forfeit $5,775, to pay a fine of $1,725 and to serve three years of supervised release following his prison term. Collins pleaded guilty on April 21, 2010, to one count of bribery and one count of unlawful salary supplementation. Collins was originally charged in an indictment filed on Feb. 18, 2010.
Collins was employed by the U.S. Army Area Support Group-Kuwait (ASG-KU). The ASG-KU is responsible for maintaining Camp Arifjan, a U.S. military installation providing support for operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and other locations in the Southwest Asian Theater. As part of those responsibilities, the ASG-KU maintains an off-post housing office, located in downtown Kuwait City, which procures, leases and supervises off-post housing for government employees and military service members stationed at Camp Arifjan. According to court documents, Collins worked in the ASG-KU’s off-post housing office as a housing specialist responsible for supervising private contractors and procuring off-post apartment rentals.
According to court documents, Collins agreed to submit an inflated off-post apartment lease to the United States for approval and then split with an Egyptian businessman more than $23,100 that resulted from the inflated lease payments. According to sentencing documents, Collins also solicited approximately $8,400 from the Egyptian businessman between July and December 2009 and agreed in return to provide advice and preferential treatment in connection with a fixed-price U.S. government contract awarded to the Egyptian businessman’s company. The contract was for maintenance services for off-post housing supervised by Collins and the ASG-KU off-post housing office.
The case was prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan S. Faulconer and Fraud Section Senior Trial Attorney James J. Graham. The investigation was conducted by the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the FBI, the U.S. Army Criminal Investigative Division, and members of the National Procurement Fraud Task Force (NPFTF) and the International Contract Corruption Task Force (ICCTF).
The NPFTF, created in October 2006 by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), was designed to promote the early detection, identification, prevention and prosecution of procurement fraud associated with the increase in government contracting activity for national security and other government programs. The ICCTF is a joint law enforcement agency task force that seeks to detect, investigate, and dismantle corruption and contract fraud resulting from U.S. Overseas Contingency Operations worldwide, including in Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq.
For more information, visit http://washingtondc.fbi.gov.