Sean Shanahan

A Georgetown rowhouse — whose owner, a professional landscaper, designed a charming backyard garden for it — was among the properties that sold the most above list price in July, according to multiple-listing service MRIS.

The three-level home at 1412 34th St. NW went on the market at $1.195 million, but sold for $1.45 million in an all-cash offer. That’s about $255,000 — or 21.34 percent — above the original list price.

Listing agent Julia Diaz-Asper with TTR Sotheby’s International Realty says there were three competing offers for the property.

She says a nearby comparable home sold for $1.2 million, so the original list price seemed reasonable. The buyer and seller did not want to identified, Diaz-Asper said.

The three-bedroom, three-bath home has high ceilings and plenty of natural light. The seller was mainly drawn by the garden, says Diaz-Asper, which includes a flagstone patio enclosed by high brick walls with multiple levels of plants.

New tool for remodeling projects

Courtesy of Houzz

Trying to figure out how much your bathroom remodel will cost?

Houzz, a Web site which claims to have the largest residential design database in the world, has developed a new interactive tool called the “Real Cost Finder” that helps homeowners estimate the price of various remodeling projects. The estimates are based on real cost data from homeowners in the area, so D.C. area residents will generate estimates tied to local costs of contractors and materials rather than what a project would cost in another part of the country.

Houzz recently conducted a survey that showed that more than 40 percent of homeowners went over budget on their remodeling projects, so this tool is designed to help them develop a more realistic budget.

The Houzz database has more than 1.7 million professionally designed interior and exterior images along with guides and idea books to help homeowners choose a remodeling project. The Real Cost Finder tool interacts with these images and guides to show products at different price points and styles. In addition, homeowners can be linked to local professionals for estimates.

Carfax for houses

Used car buyers have become accustomed to checking on the history of the vehicle they want to purchase with Carfax.

But homebuyers have had to rely on reports from home sellers and their agents about any past problems with a property. In many cases, the sellers don’t necessarily know the entire history of the home or are unwilling to disclose it.

Now a new service called has launched a national property data service that allows consumers to access a range of records pertaining to the house.

The idea is for for house hunters to access the report before they make an offer and before a home inspection. Consumers pay a fee of $59 for a report on the home they’re interested in buying and can view the history online. The information available varies according to the state where the property is located, but it can include data on whether there’s been a fire in the home or even if a meth lab was reported on the premises.

Information on building permits can be used to determine if repairs were needed after the home had water or fire damage or mold contamination; reports can also include a hail exposure index and data about the nearest sink hole or earthquake fault line. Financial information such as property and land assessments, the loan history and even heating and air conditioning use can be accessed to make an informed decision before putting in an offer.

D.C. renters love their pets


According to, 12.8 percent of referrals in D.C. are for “pet-friendly, dog-friendly or cat-friendly” apartments, compared to an average of 9.4 percent in the top 40 largest U.S. cities. , a Web site with nearly one million listings aggregated from hundreds of other rental sites, recently introduced a mobile app with a map-based interface that allows renters to narrow their options by location, price and pet friendliness. The app, available so far just for iPhones and iPads, allows users to see an average of 14.5 photos per listing; to take notes about which rentals they want to contact or have visited and to contact landlords directly by phone or e-mail.

They can save favorites on their phone, computer or tablet and access them from any device. The company plans to introduce an app compatible with Android devices later in 2013.

According to recent data from the company, the average monthly rental for an apartment in D.C. (averaging together studio through three-bedroom apartments) is $2,652, about twice the average rent of $1,243 in the top 40 largest cities. More women than men rent in D.C. — 47.8 percent male and 52 percent female.

Michele Lerner is a freelance writer. To pass on a tip or news item, contact us at and put “Town Square” in the subject line.