Homeowners are Using Rental Income Earned Through Airbnb to Refinance Their Mortgages

February 23, 2018 | Front Page, jeblog

Homeowners are now using rental income earned through Airbnb to refinance their mortgages. It’s a pilot program launched just a few weeks ago that took off quickly, and new loans are already closing.

It’s another program from mortgage giant Fannie Mae designed to help more borrowers get better loans in today’s tight mortgage market. Airbnb already tracks the income data and will now provide documentation for a mortgage application.

“We want to enable those borrowers to be able to refinance and lower their mortgage costs and tap into their housing equity,” said Jonathan Lawless, vice president of customer solutions at Fannie Mae.

Partnering initially with three lenders, Better Mortgage, Quicken Loans and Citizens Bank, Fannie Mae allows borrowers to use the rental income as part of the income qualification to refinance their home loans. This helps them either to get a better interest rate or to take cash out for other expenses, like renovations or education.

“Some of the nation’s largest financial institutions understand that Airbnb is an economic empowerment tool that can generate important income for families, and they are working to recognize this,” wrote Nathan Blecharczyk, Airbnb co-founder and chief strategy officer, in a release.

Borrowers are required to have 12 months history of Airbnb earnings that they can document, and the home must be their primary residence. The program is not for investors using multiple homes only as rental properties.

“Because of the sharing economy, the way people use their homes has changed … and now finally the mortgage industry has caught up,” said Vishal Garg, CEO of Better Mortgage. “We are able to use that income in actually underwriting the value of your house, your ability to make a payment on that loan, and then qualify you for a lower rate.”

It may be a marriage made in mortgage heaven, or it could add risk to a still-recovering mortgage market.

Since the housing crash, brought on by irresponsibly loose standards in the mortgage market, lenders have been very strict with the amount of debt borrowers can carry compared to their income. They are required, by new regulations that followed the crash, to verify a borrower’s ability to repay a loan. Airbnb income can now count in that calculation, allowing borrowers to qualify for bigger loans.

“Absolutely income is a very important part of the mortgage application, and we look for income that’s sustainable over time,” said Lawless. “But Airbnb earnings, just like any other forms of earnings, have potential risks in the future. We don’t see it as any different than any type of job or commission or a bonus type of earning that you recognize.”

Better Mortgage’s Garg argues that none of the underwriting criteria are changing – the consumer’s credit score, the loan to value on the home, “all of that is there.” And, he added that the program could actually help some troubled borrowers avert defaulting on their mortgages.

“If consumers encounter some kind of financial hardship, the fact that they’ve got a stable income source on Airbnb probably means that maybe they could rent out another bedroom on Airbnb and most likely engage in using that to stabilize their income,” said Garg.

The home rental-sharing economy is still in its infancy, but given how fast it’s growing, it may become harder for individuals to compete for renters. Rental stream that is fast and easy now may not come as easily five years from now. In some local markets, there continues to be regulatory issues limiting these part-time rentals. That, said Lawless, is why this is a small test pilot, although he admitted he already expects it to expand.

“We think that trend seems to be here to stay. And if it changes, of course we’ll need to revisit our policies like we always do,” he added.

As published by CNBC – Diana Olick – 2/22/18

Big Sale in Georgetown

February 23, 2018 | The Scoop

Under Armour Inc. CEO Kevin Plank is selling his Georgetown home for $29.5 million, the most expensive residential property currently on the market in the District.

Built around 1815, the brick Federal home spans 12,200 square feet. The house has seven bedrooms, and features include a gym, heated pool, gated parking, marble staircase and entertainment room with a bar. D.C. assessed the property at $8,688,490 in 2017.

Plank paid $7.8 million for the 34th Street NW home in 2013.


Dell CEO Sells Manhattan Property

February 23, 2018 | The Scoop

Dell Technologies founder and CEO Michael Dell was the buyer behind the $100.47 million purchase of a penthouse on Manhattan’s Billionaire’s Row, according to two people familiar with the deal. The transaction, which closed in 2014, holds the record for the most expensive home ever sold in New York City.


NYC to DC in 29 Minutes

February 22, 2018 | The Scoop

Elon Musk’s firm, The Boring Company, has just received the approval to begin the creation of a tunnel in D.C. that will likely connect the city to New York through a speedy 29-minute trip.Known as the Hyperloop, this project was given an approved building permit in November 2017, granting Musk the go-ahead to begin digging beneath Washington, D.C.

Under an abandoned parking lot near the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will soon be a Hyperloop station. The super-high-speed train envisioned by Elon Musk would eventually connect Washington, D.C. to New York with stops in Philadelphia and Baltimore.

A spokesperson for Boring Company told The Washington Post that “a New York Avenue location, if constructed, could become a station.”

While there is still a long way to go before the Hyperloop becomes a reality, digging is an exciting first step! There are other permits and paperwork that will likely arise as the tunnel is built underground across a number of cities.

(Secret NYC)

The Psychitect is In

February 22, 2018 | The Scoop

If you’ve ever embarked on a design project, whether it be selecting a new sofa to a massive gut renovation, you probably know how stressful, confusing, and mentally exhausting the experience can be. Enter the “psychitect”: Rachel Melvald, a licensed psychotherapist with a background in fine arts, architecture, and psychology who specializes in helping her clients maintain good relationships—both romantic and professional—during the design process.

Who Is Rachel Melvald?

Melvald studied fine arts and psychology at the University of Michigan and training at both the Southern California Institute of Architecture and the UCLA School of Interior Architecture. This multifaceted background allows her to do everything, from reading architectural drawings to analyzing design preferences, and from curating art to developing methods for stress reduction—from when contractor deadlines are missed, for example.

The Birth of Psychitecture

After more than two decades of working as a licensed psychotherapist in both the private and public sectors, Melvald started her own private practice, calling it pyschitecture: a balanced blend that uses her disparate areas of expertise to guide clients beyond mind and body well-being into sound investments through the cultivation of space.

During her practice, Melvald pinpointed a correlation between the high-stress situation of a home remodel and the growing tension between couples during this process. “I noticed many of my clients turning to couples therapy while remodeling their homes,” she says. “At such a stressful time in the relationship, it was an opportunity to explore dynamics already at play [and] to remediate the dysfunction that can ensue.”

Says Melvald, “I problem-solve with the couple and support them in creating a harmonious design process, not a confrontational one.” Her multifaceted method draws from the principles of neuroscience, Jungian analysis, somatic experiencing, design-led contextual inquiry, phenomenology, environment psychology, experienced-centered design, and mindfulness.

For individual clients or couples, she typically starts with sessions to understand her client’s design vision, whether it be conscious or unconscious. She delves into connections between personal history and personal preferences, tying together space, art, and experience.

In one case, Melvald worked with a married couple during a condo purchase. However, they didn’t exactly see eye-to-eye—the husband wanted to continue renting for its convenience, while the wife wanted to invest in a property. Furthermore, while he stipulated needing air conditioning, she dismissed it as a luxury. Through this conflict, Melvald unearthed issues around the husband’s tendency to make unnecessary purchases while the wife struggled to remain the breadwinner and voice of reason. Ultimately, the couple divorced, and the wife continued the purchase and renovation of the condo on her own terms.

“In this instance, the couple needed support in finding themselves through the remodel to learn they would be happier separated,” says Melvald. “[The wife] ended up…designing based on her taste which brought her much joy—an expression of self she had never had, coupling up and getting married when she first left college.”

In another case study, Melvald worked with a couple that, in the midst of making a home purchase, felt dissatisfied with their sex life and scared that their relationship was becoming a friendship. “I worked with the couple on managing stress related to the ups and downs of purchasing a home,” says Melvald, “and then assessed both clients’ vision of what their sex life would look like in their bedroom.” These so-called vision boards helped her lead the couple to make fruitful design decisions about the bedroom, and set better intentions for their sex life.

When acting as a go-between for an architect or designer and a client, Melvald first works with the architect in a one-on-one session, or even with both the client and the architect to better facilitate communication between the two parties. In these types of situations, Melvald seeks to understand the artistic concepts of the architect in concert with the needs and desires of the client.

Ultimately, the psychitect seeks to understand what a client wants in a home, personal art collection, production design, or place of business—and helps realize that vision.


Veganism Rising on H Street

February 22, 2018 | The Scoop

Even non-vegan neighborhood restaurants cater to vegetarians and vegans by offering more than a token meat-free dish. Sticky Rice has more than 30 options, including the addictive Garden Balls with shiitake mushrooms, red pepper, cilantro, and spicy rice in a tempura-fried inari pocket drizzled with sweet soy sauce.

Most of the menu at Farmbird can be made vegetarian, and the dinner menu at Mediterranean restaurant Sospeso boasts about 15 vegan or vegetarian dishes, like vegan kofte made with lentil and bulgur instead of lamb.

Anwar Saleem founded H Street Main Street in 2002, and he’s watched the neighborhood evolve when it comes to healthy options. The organization puts on the H Street Festival and provides commercial property improvement services and government relations assistance to area businesses.


Modern French Country

February 21, 2018 | Front Page, jeblog

When you think of Provence and the French countryside, you’re sure to see lavender fields and bright sunshine. While there are many elements that contribute to the French Country style of decorating, the resulting look is always rustic, old world, and welcoming. The look fits well into both country houses and elegant, old chateaux. The French Country style of decorating, with its warm and casual feel will fit beautifully into your home as well.

Colors used to decorate in the French Country style come from the full spectrum of the rainbow. Sunny yellow and soft gold, fiery red and burnt rust, bright grass green, dark hunter green and cobalt blue are all colors that influence this style. However, if you are looking to make a more modern style, choose from a variety of neutral colors. Today’s designers are utilizing ecru, oatmeal, heather gray and pale white to create a more sophisticated and elegant modern look.

Typical of French Country interiors are accented with architecture and furniture, which contrasts texture and color. Pale plaster walls and ceilings are typical punctuated with dark rough wood beams.

Another important element used in French style decorating is the use of natural materials and texture. Rough stained or painted plaster, hefty beamed ceilings and walls, delicately carved wood details, and chair seats that are woven of rush give texture and simplicity to the look. If you are looking to add a more updated style add a variety of texture ranging from shiplap, porcelain, chicken wire and linen. Natural stone floors are covered with wool or cotton rugs.

No real French Country home is complete without a stone fireplace. A heavy beam at the top of the opening serves as a mantle. Tiles, either stone or ceramic, form the border. The hearth is clay or brick, and herbs, copper pots, and iron accessories.

Architectural features like stonewalls and floors play an essential role in creating the French country style. Rustic flooring is most often made of stone, clay, or brick. Old wooden boards work well, too. The focus is on old and charming.

Lastly, the use of new or reproduction rustic furniture will help create the ambiance. A rectangular or round dining table in a dull waxed or low sheen finish is one piece of furniture that will help tie together your entire look. Chairs should either be ladder-back style or have vertical slats, often with rush seating or for a more modern look utilize benches or mixed chairs.

David Brown
Mulberry Seed Design

Giant Jenga in the Sky

February 21, 2018 | The Scoop

Tokyo’s ultra-modern skyline is getting a new addition–the world’s tallest wooden skyscraper. Japanese timber company Sumitomo Forestry has announced plans for a 1,148-foot-tall timber tower intended to mark the 350th anniversary of the business. The 70-story building will be a mix of offices and about 8,000 homes, and in keeping with the woodsy theme, the building will feature trees and foliage on balconies at every level.

The hybrid wood-steel building will be made up of 90% indigenous wood (Japan is carpeted in forests), and fully prepared to withstand fires and earthquakes. Wood is an environmentally sound choice, because it is thought to store carbon, whereas buildings made from concrete and steel are believed to be responsible for about 8% and 5% of global emissions. In 2010, Japan’s government passed the Promotion of Use of Wood in Public Buildings Act, which required all government buildings up to three stories high to be constructed with wood. Finland has been exploring a similar measure, and Congress introduced a bill in the United States last year.

The projected cost of the building is about 600 billion yen (roughly $5.6 billion), which the BBC says is about twice the cost of a conventional skyscraper of the same size. When completed in 2041, the wooden building will tower over the 173-foot dormitory in Vancouver that currently holds the title of world’s tallest wooden skyscraper.—ML

(Fast Co.)

Pierce School Lofts Hit Market

February 21, 2018 | The Scoop

The singularly impressive Pierce School Lofts have hit the market again. But instead of being offered as a package deal, the ten residences at the former DC school are now for sale individually.

Since a conversion of the rundown, waterlogged and rodent-infested school building at 1375 Maryland Avenue NE was completed in 2005, 90% of the units have been rented out while owners Jeff Printz and Chris Swanson resided in the 9,500 square-foot owner’s unit on the top two floors. Now, buyers will be able to purchase their pick of the ten units created in the conversion.

The bones of the Pierce School were largely kept intact as part of the conversion, creating 8 units with ceiling heights from 13 feet to as high as 35 feet-tall in the penthouse unit. Condos on the second floor also retained their chalkboards, and two of the ground floor condos have private outdoor space. An adjacent rowhouse was also retrofit into flats when the lofts were originally delivered.

Priced at $3,399,000, the 9,500 square-foot penthouse has five bedrooms, four bathrooms, a commercial-grade kitchen with an 18-foot marble island, a 14-seat movie theater, a salt-water aquarium and a private 800 square-foot roof deck. UrbanTurf covered the owner’s unit back in 2013.

Aside from the penthouse, the units range in size from 750 to 1,775 square feet and are priced from $359,000 to $699,000. The Pierce School also share access to an outdoor 40,000-gallon heated black bottom pool, hot tub, kitchen and gym.


Amazon is Sneaking Peaks at Arlington

February 21, 2018 | The Scoop

Eagle-eyed readers of this site may have noticed something odd in this past Friday’s weekend discussion post: namely, the inclusion of an article from December among the most-viewed stories of the week.

We also found that unusual, so we did a bit of digging. It turns out, there have been more than 6,000 views of the article, “County Wins Top Environmental Award from U.S. Green Building Council,” over the past week.

Here’s an excerpt:

Arlington County is the first community in the country to win a top award for its environmentally-friendly policies from the U.S. Green Building Council.

The county was named a Platinum level community by USGBC under its new LEED for Communities program.

USGBC said the certification recognizes the county’s creation of a “sustainable and resilient urban environment that has long-proven success in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, managing stormwater, ensuring economic prosperity and focusing on education, affordable housing, health and safety for residents and businesses.”

So from where is all this newfound interest in Arlington County’s sustainability bonafides coming? From Amazon.com, it seems.

The vast majority of the traffic to the page over the past week that can be tracked came from what appears to be an internal Amazon.com page devoted to its HQ2 search. Arlington, of course, is in the running as one of the potential landing spots for the company’s second headquarters.

No other page on ARLnow.com has a similar level of traffic coming from Amazon.

Last week a noted NYU professor who has written about the company opined that New York City and the D.C. area are among the most likely finalists for HQ2, due to a combination of being destinations for talented workers and being places that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos likes to frequent.