Real Estate Matters – October 2017

Cha-ching! Should You Cash Out?

Reverse Mortgages
The conversations that come up with Uber drivers …

He has a house in Petworth that he does not want his kids to get when he’s gone. Ookaay, sounds like a fun Thanksgiving is in the works!

A reverse mortgage, officially called a home equity conversion mortgage (HECM), might be something for him to consider if he’d like some cashflow and isn’t too interested in passing on equity in the home. There are certain criteria that he’d need to satisfy to qualify. He was past 62 years old (I didn’t ask, but it was apparent).

He would also need to own the home outright, which he did (his parents bought it for around $40,000 in the late 1940s), or owe very little. It must be his primary residence, and he would need to be able to pay the property taxes (they don’t do escrow accounts in a reverse mortgage). He could get the money in a lump sum or as a monthly stipend, depending on his situation and preference.

Age is a factor in determining the payout. The longer he lives, the more equity will be gone from his home, and the longer he’s paying for the required mortgage insurance and other fees, including closing costs. When he dies or moves out, the loan needs to be paid off at once – any additional equity left in the home after that is up for grabs, just as with a regular mortgage.

A reverse mortgage is not for everyone but is a good option to consider for some.

To be clear, I’m not a lender. I know what I know, but if you’re interested in a reverse mortgage, you need to speak with an authorized and credible lender. Bank of America and Wells Fargo stopped offering reverse mortgages, but there are other lending institutions that do. I’d start by going to, which also has an online HECM lender locator. None of the lenders are physically located in DC but they are authorized to lend in DC. 

International Buyers
According to the National Association of Realtors, residential home sales to international buyers are up 49 percent from last year. That’s astounding, though it may make sense, considering the number of people who were considering a move out of here last November!

The majority of buyers are coming from China, Canada, the UK, Mexico, and India – in that order.

What does that mean for you, the seller? It means your listing needs to be global, clearly articulated, and accurately translated. Does your agent/agent’s company provide that automatically? Photos need to be high-quality and crisp (buyers halfway around the world are probably not looking for a place depicted with fuzzy, dingy photos). Zhu ni cheng gong (Chinese for “Wish you success”)! 

New Digs for BHHS PenFed Realty
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices PenFed Realty has a new home at 705 North Carolina Ave. SE. PenFed purchased the building to the left of Port City Java. It will be a haunted house on Hilloween (Oct. 27, 5:30-7:30 p.m.). 

Is there anything real estate-related that you’d like for me to explore? Email me about it and I’ll work it in. Please indicate if you wish your identity to remain a mystery.


Heather Schoell is a Capitol Hill REALTOR with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices PenFed Realty and can be reached at, at the office at 202-608-1880, or by cell at 202-321-0874.