What it takes to buy and sell a marketed house


Deciding whether to take on the job of marketing a house depends on whether the real estate agent is drawn to something distinctive about that property.  At least that’s how Timur Loynab feels about his work.

“I always look at what distinguishes the property, its uniqueness,” said Loynab, an agent with McWilliams Ballard. “Marketing is easier when it stands out. With so much cookie cutter product out there, it’s nice to have something more nuanced and sophisticated.”

Loynab spoke to a reporter on a recent rainy Sunday afternoon during an open house at 727 Euclid St. NW, where two new 3,000-square-foot  townhouses, both spread out over four levels, are for sale. The houses are across Euclid Street from Banneker High School, and half a block from the iconic Howard Hall at Howard University.

Loynab said a lot of legwork goes into listing and selling a house.

“For a house this size, staging is very important,” he said. “It took a small army of people to stage both houses. Buying a home is not always a logical decision. It’s important for a buyer to have an emotional response to a property.”

Deciding on how much to ask for a piece of real estate depends on several factors.

“Market comparables will determine that,” Loynab said. “You have to look at the neighborhood and see what comparable property is selling for, and make adjustments for age and size.

“Price is determined by market demand, how much interest there is, how long a property stays on the market. The longer it stays on the market the more vulnerable it’s perceived to be. There’s not much incentive [for the seller] to negotiate heavily when you’ve just come out on the market.”

Loynab listed some important things for buyers to keep in mind.

“Pricing is important,” he said. “On the purchaser’s side, it’s important to know what you qualify for. If your budget is $800,000, there’s not much reason to visit a house selling for $2 million.”

Shaw is among the “hot” neighborhoods in D.C. right now, Loynab said.

“Dupont is making a resurgence,” he said. “There’s new construction there that we haven’t seen for awhile. If you look at the cranes in the Truxton Circle area, it’s pretty jaw-dropping.”

John O’Brian, a New York advertising executive, is preparing to take a new job in the District, and was intrigued by the Euclid Street houses. He said looking at the pictures online first caught his attention.

“I really liked the open floor plan and the clear bright interior,” O’Brian said. “It has lots of windows, light, a nice kitchen and appliances. The layout of this house is the down side. I would rather it had fewer levels.”

He said it’s tough to decide what’s the most important thing to consider about buying a house.

“That’s a tough one. Location is really important to me. I like to be close to activities, restaurants, stores, public transportation. I’m afraid I will have a hard time living in D.C. versus New York. It’s not as walkable here.”

O’Brian’s sister, Mary Kate Newdoyle, says that style trumps all.

“If a house doesn’t call out to me by the beauty and elegance of its design, I turn away,” Newdoyle said. “I want to live in a house that makes my spirit sing.”

O’Brian said a “to-do” list is key. He gave his.

“First, determine my budget. Second, determine the general location where I want to be. Third, decide if I want something move-in-ready or a fixer-upper.”

Mary Hewitt is ready to move back into the District after a 10-year in the leafy suburbs of Calvert County while she was raising her son, who will leave for college at Robert Morris University in the fall.

The house where she has been living near Lower Marlboro was built to her specifications on an open floor plan, but she now rues the day she made that decision.

“An open floor plan does not give you privacy,” she said. “If I’m in the living room with people and others are in the kitchen, everybody can hear other people’s conversation. It’s not cozy. In an open floor plan, sound travels too much. It’s more difficult to heat and cool.”

She contrasted her new house with the 1960s rambler in Shepherd Park where she grew up.

“At my dad’s house, you do have privacy,” Hewitt said. “I can go into the dining room with my phone and people in the den can’t hear me. A traditional floor plan gives you more formal areas. When you’re in the dining room, you’re in the dining room, not in the dining room, kitchen and den all at the same time.”

Arron Sikka and his fiancee Samyika Jain attended a recent open house in an 1881 row house at 1420 12th St., just off Logan Circle. 

They presently reside in a one-bedroom apartment in the Mount Vernon Triangle, but are ready for something larger, and for a neighborhood that is more residential in character.

Jain said deciding what’s most important can be tricky.

“There’s a tug of war between space, location and price,” she said.

Sikka thinks locally and wants to live locally.

“I’m looking for walkability, a local grocery store and shops,” he said.