The backyard garden at 1412 34th St. NW was designed by its owner, a landscaper. (Sean Shanahan/SEAN SHANAHAN)
Georgetown charmer sold for highest amount above list price

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 comparable home nearby 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 to the garden, Diaz-Asper says, which includes a flagstone patio enclosed by high brick walls with multiple levels of plants.

Housefax: Think Carfax for homes

Used-car buyers have become accustomed to checking the history of the vehicle with Carfax.

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

A new service called has launched a national property-data service that allows people to access a range of records. The idea is for house hunters to access a report before they make an offer and before a home inspection. Consumers pay $59 for a report on a home they’re interested in buying; they can view the history online. Available information varies according to the state where the property is located, but it can include data on whether there has 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 whether 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 sinkhole or earthquake fault line. Financial information such as property and land assessments, loan history, and even heating and air- conditioning use can be accessed to make an informed decision before making an offer.

New online tool for remodeling projects

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 an interactive tool called the “Real Cost Finder” that helps homeowners estimate the price of remodeling projects. The estimates are based on cost data from homeowners in a region, so D.C. area residents will generate estimates tied to local costs of contractors and materials, rather than what a project would cost elsewhere in the country.

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 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 professionals for estimates.

Pet projects: Renters love their dogs, cats

According to , 12.8 percent of referrals in the District are for “pet-friendly, dog-friendly or cat-friendly” apartments, compared with an average of 9.4 percent in the 40 largest U.S. cities., a Web site with nearly 1 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 for iPhones and iPads, enables 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 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 Android app later in 2013.

Michele Lerner

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