Kirin Blog

Welcome to Kirin Blog: Your destination to get the inside scoop of the Greater Washington DC Metro real estate market. Whether you are a buyer, seller or investor, you will find the most up-to-date information on our blog. Feel free to ask questions or leave comments.

Investing in today’s market

January 9, 2024

More buyers and investors see the value and opportunity of investing in today’s housing market.  With approximately 6.5% interest rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage and a healthy rental climate, most investors get positive cash flow after putting a 40-45% down payment.  That sounds like a lot of down payment. The good news is that with interest rate expected to drop, homeowners can refinance to reduce their monthly mortgage payment. The challenge right now is getting that property before it get snapped by another investor.  Investors shall get the pre-approval letter ready before house hunting.  They need to make a decision fast and get the contract in on time for consideration.

Building a Real Estate Investment Porfolio for Retirement

January 8, 2024

What is your new year resolution for 2024? Is building a real estate portfolio one of your financial objectives?

Buying real estate is particularly attractive to many investors these days. With higher capital gain expected, especially for stock investments, many investors turn to real estate for long term wealth accumulation. Real estate builds wealth through rental income and price appreciation. Investors can even delay capital gain tax using 1031 Exchange for like-kind assets. All expenses including mortgage interest, homeowner association fees, insurance, property tax, ongoing repair and maintenance costs are all deductible from rental income. With reasonable interest rate and decent down payment amount, most properties recently acquired may be able to generate decent cash flow overtime. Keep in mind that if properties are located in growing areas, rental income will increase steadily, thus expanding your cash flow.

Investing in real estate is not just for the rich. If you are making $50,000 or more, have a steady job and a reasonable credit history, you should start thinking about buying your first property. Start with a home for yourself to live instead of renting. There are loan programs available for first time homebuyers with down payment as low as 3.5% of the property value. You may qualify for VA loan with zero down payment if you are a veteran. Then save up in the next 2+ years (hopefully sooner) for down payment for your investment property. Lenders require 20-25% or more down payment for investment loans.

The Kirin Real Estate team can help you chart out a customized plan to turn your American Dream to a reality. Many of our investor buyers have been able to build their investment portfolio from zero to 2, 3 or even 4 properties in the last five years. This is not a get-rich-fast scheme. Instead the process is very systematic. It is very important to ensure that the properties are financially sustainable with good rentability and fixed mortgage payments. These investors do not flip properties which require much higher risk. Instead, the investors hold their properties for a long haul. Some keep the properties to build college fund, while others keep them to generate cash for retirement.

Feel free to contact us at for a private, no-risk, no-cost, consultation.

What buyers should know before entering the housing market

January 7, 2024

The Greater Washington DC market is heating up again due to the impending mortgage interest rate drop.  Many listings in sought after locations have multiple offers.  In one of recent transactions, my buyer had to compete with 9 other contracts and the winning bid had to pay substantially higher than asking price.  Many properties are under contract in a matter of weeks if not days.  Location, showing condition and price are three key decisive factors for buyers. To get better prepared, buyer should have a pre-approval letter ready before house hunting. That way, a contract can be submitted right away as soon as a desirable property is identified.

Buyers today compete not only with other regular buyers but also investors. Properties under $600K are in the highest demand because they are more affordable and less risky. Locations that are located closed to metro stations and/or within good school districts are still most desirable.

For investment purpose, is townhouse or detached home better than condo?

May 21, 2023

Investors select specific type of properties based on their budget, anticipated responsibilities and projected return. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each property type.

For a starter who has limited time and energy to manage the property but still wants to do it herself to gain some landlording experience, condo is a good one to start, especially for someone with a smaller budget. The responsibility is primarily limited to the condo interior. Roof, siding and landcaping are taken care of by the condo association. The major downside is the high monthly condo fee which covers the master insurance, reserved funds for building repair and maintenance as well as utilities for the common areas,

Townhouse and detached home are more expensive and require much attention inside and outside of the home. Common issues to address include roof leak, exterior wood rots and landscape maintenance. As a result the maintenance costs can be high despite the more affordable monthly HOA fee compared to condos.

Just like any investment portfolio, it is good to diversify, That applies to property type and geographic coverage in your portfolio.

Kirin Realty specializes in investment properties. We offer customized solution to meet your needs. Contact us today for a free consultation or sign up to get on our email distribution list for future educational workshops.

Smoke detector certification requirement for residential rentals in Virginia

February 27, 2023

In accordance with §55-248.13 (8) of the Code of Virginia, generally known as the Virginia Residential Landlord Tenant Act, the Landlord shall: “Provide a certificate to the Tenant stating that all smoke alarms are present, have been inspected, and are in good working order no more than once every 12 months. The Landlord, his employee, or an independent contractor may perform the inspection to determine that the smoke alarm is in good working order.” Upon each such inspection, Landlord shall:
1. Test the smoke alarms of Tenant to confirm such alarms are in good working order and that batteries (if such alarms are not AC hard-wired) are not expired as per the manufacturer’s recommendations.
2. Confirm that all smoke alarms are still in the installed locations and have not been moved, removed or tampered with.
3. Replace any removed, damaged or expired smoke alarms.
4. Confirm that all smoke alarms are compliance with the uniform set of standards for maintenance of smoke alarms established in the Statewide Fire Prevention Code (§ 27-94 et seq.) and subdivision C 6 of § 36-105, Part III of the Uniform Statewide Building Code (§36-97 et seq.)

Feel free to contact us should you have any questions regarding property management.

Maintaining Your Home to Protect Its Value

January 15, 2023

Buying a home is just the beginning. Keeping it up with proper maintenance will uphold its value and minimize frivolous repairs.

Here are few basic maintenance tips:
– Change the air filter every 2-3 months. Have an HVAC technician check the air conditioner in the spring and heater in the fall to ensure the system operates properly. The maintenance contract typically costs $550-650 a year, depending on specific service provider;
– Power wash and seal the deck and fence, especially if the construction materical is wood;
– Repair and paint over any exterior wood rots around the house. Consider wrapping the window trims with PVC (non-wood material) to avoid wood rots in the future;
– Check and repair any water leak from the ceiling, faucets, below sinks, or at the basement;
– Clean the gutter every year, especially if the house is surrounded by trees or located in a wooded area;
– Paint the interior walls every five years or so to give the house a fresh look.

A well maintained home will not only increase housing value but also bring positive energy to your life.

Moving a Less-than-Perfect Property

December 27, 2022

Every now and then we come across some tough listings — a house with a backyard backed to I-66, a house with an abandoned property next door, or the one with small room size and limited windows. Eventually every listing gets sold.

There are some thiings that we just cannot change about a house, but we can always change the price and the condition for sale. There is a price point that’s low enough to make the property attractive to buyers. However, not many sellers want to short change themselves. There are some investments that are worthwhile. For instance, having a house staged. By decluttering the house, re-arranging furniture and adding accent to the walls, tables and night stands, you will give a refreshing look to the house. Painting the house to a more neutral color and installing new carpets can easily yield good results. Try to get rid of any strange smells if any. Keep the lights on if possible to have the rooms look bright and inviting. Emphasize the interior in a house with a bad location. Using plants to obscure undesirable views. A location that may be a deal breaker to one person could be less important to someone else. If someone likes the home enough and the price and condition are right, they are willing to overlook a negative feature.

Whether a home is in poor condition and in a bad location, using creativity, being courteous and using common sense can turn a difficult listing into w successful sale.

Cash Building versus Equity Accumulation Strategies

November 28, 2022

There are two major types of real estate investment strategies: cash-building versus equity accumulation. For investors who’d like to make quick return within a short time frame such as 3- to 6-months, cash building strategy is the way to go. There are several ways to accomplish this strategy. One way is to identify a property for sale, secure the contract and then assign it to another buyer by making a smaller margin. For investors who are interested to make a higher return, they shall buy a fixed-upper type of property at a deep discount, have the property remodeled and then sell it at the open market. Obviously there is risk involved. Investors opting this route will have to make sure they have enough capital to acquire the property and inject more fund for renovation. They must have some cash reserve to cover carrying costs while the property is being remodeled and listed on the market before transferring title to the new buyer.

For equity accumulation, investors would hold the investment property for long term; the longer the property is held, the higher the return tends to be. We have recently sold a house for a client who had bought the house back in 1945 for $5,000. The sold price of this property in this past summer was $460,000. Had the seller sold the property 10 years ago, she would have made $100,000 less. Equity accumulation strategy focuses on two main factors — ongoing cash flow and future appreciation. Investors would typically rent out the property and systematically pay down the mortgage principal to build up the equity. If the property is located in a desirable neighborhood, its market value will appreciate overtime, thus increasing the owner’s equity as well.

To learn more about these two very different investment strategies, please attend our seminar on this specific topic. You may contact us to get on our email distribution list.

Should I Outsource Landlording Responsibilities?

November 27, 2022

Acquiring an investment property is one thing and managing it requires a totally different skill set. Ask yourself the following questions before deciding whether or not to manage the property yourself:
1. Where is your rental property located? How much time does it take to drive out there averaging 1-2 times a month?
2. How busy is your schedule? Do you have time to take care of tenant’s requests?
3. Are you a handy person? Do you have the skill and interest to fix household related problems?
4. Do you handle stress well? Does it bother you if tenant calls you late at night for urgent matters?
5. Do you have a good supportive network — contractors, plumbers, HVAC technicians, roofers, electricians, attorneys, etc whom you can call upon should the need arise?
6. Are you familiar with the Landlord-Tenant Act that outlines the landlord and tenant rights and responsibilities?

All of the above are considerations when decising if you could manage the rental properties yourself. Having a property management firm to take care of your property is often worthwhile if you don’t have the expertise to handle tenant issues. It will save you money long term because the value of the property will be maintained and any repair or legal expenses could be kept to a minimum.

We offer a Landlording 101 seminar 1-2 times a year. Please contact us if you are interested to be on the seminar distribution list.

Finding a Dream Tenant

October 27, 2022

No one likes landlording headache so getting the right type of tenant is key. A dream tenant is one who pays rent on time, takes care of your property, has a multi-year lease term and leaves the house in a move-in condition when the lease ends. He or she makes no unreasonable demands and abides by the rules of the homeowner association throughout the lease term. Does a dream tenant really exist? YES, in fact majority of the tenants that we manage belong to this category. The secret lies in our rigorous screening process. In addition to running a credit check, we also verify the applicant’s employment and rental history. It is extremely important to be assured of the applicant’s ability to pay rent and there is no history of delingency rental payments.

Keep in mind that there are many good tenants out there despite low credit score due to recent short sales or foreclosures. If the applicant does not have a pattern of late payments long before or after the short sale or foreclosure occurs, he deserves a second chance. One of the tenants we manage had filed bankruptcy three years prior to the lease. Because of his determination to rebuild his financial credit, he has been paying rent early and has done a wonderful job keeping the property in top shape. He has now lived in the property for over five years. Because of his steller rental record, he is considered a dream tenant.

In summary, dream tenants do exist. Have a screening process in place and stick to it.