Close

“Daren and Randy always had thoughtful, fresh and creative proposals – truly impressed.”

“I listed my property on Riggs Place with Daren and Randy. They staged it, inside and out, and then marketed it with videos, social media, and who knows how many other ways. I was very impressed. But where I was most impressed were their skills in negotiating. I think far too many times today, people are afraid to think outside the box. Daren and Randy always had thoughtful, fresh and creative proposals – truly impressed.”

Jesse Hauer

“Molly was patient and flexible, and stepped in when she needed to in order to make the transaction happen”

“Molly was patient and flexible, and stepped in when she needed to in order to make the transaction happen. She had great ideas which totally worked out, and was never upset or put out…even when we had to contact her with an emergency while she was on vacation.”

Vickie Drake

“He has tried-and-true recommendations that he is more than willing to share”

“My husband and I worked with James to find our new home in DC. We were new to the market and had lots of different thoughts about what we were looking for. James was incredibly patient as we traveled from neighborhood to neighborhood, from free-standing houses with yards to condos with street parking! James continues to be very helpful with brainstorming renovation ideas, giving recommendations for contractors/painters/glass workers. He has tried-and-true recommendations that he is more than willing to share. During the negotiation and settlement process, James was 100% present the whole time, keeping us up-to-date and running every decision past us. He took the time to explain each aspect of the bidding process, each point on the contract, and every step of the settlement process. We never felt pressured to increase our number or establish an escalation clause before the offer was submitted. James has a fabulous understanding of the bidding process and was able to predict (I sweat he has a crystal ball) how the seller would respond to different bids, inspection reports, etc. My husband and I would wholeheartedly recommend James to anyone looking to buy in the DMV area. When we are ready to move to another place we will definitely be using James to help us sell and buy somewhere else. We cant wait to have him over for dinner in our new place! Thanks for everything, James!”

Erin P.B. Katz

“Not only did James do a fantastic job for us we will always be thankful for the lesson he taught us.”

“James showed us how to let go of the part of the real estate business that was just taking up our time. By trusting his vision and putting his strong, extremely competent and creative talents to work for us, we finally learned to hire others who were better than us to do things that were using up our time. Not only did James do a fantastic job for us we will always be thankful for the lesson he taught us.”

Eric Weaver

“Molly has been an outstanding Realtor throughout the whole process of helping me buy a new place.”

“Molly has been an outstanding Realtor throughout the whole process of helping me buy a new place. It was my first time buying and I had so many clueless questions but Molly made all of my questions important and addressed them immediately. The process of buying a place could be a little frustrating but she makes it all easy and fun and fast forward 5 months, I have a condo that I really like. She is patient and never pushy, this is very important because no one wants to be pushed and buy a place that they will end up not liking. I really had a great experience of buying a place with Molly and she went above and beyond every time. I couldn’t wish for a better Realtor and experience. You would be lucky to have her as your agent.”

Kali Ferede

“Randy and Daren are an incredible team!”

“Randy and Daren are an incredible team! They thoughtfully walked us through the listing process and staged our Capitol Hill home beautifully — and completed the sale in just five days! Now that we’re looking for a home, we’ve been impressed with their diligence, consideration, and honesty at every step of the process.”

David White

“Randy and Daren are fantastic; they’ve exceeded my expectations and then some!”

“Randy and Daren are fantastic; they’ve exceeded my expectations and then some! They guided this first time homebuyer beautifully through the process. I felt that my concerns were their concerns; emails and phone calls were answered very quickly and I was never left wondering what was happening. Every step from online listings, viewings, finances, bid/offer letters, and plenty of things I would not know to ask. They are extremely patient, professional and made me feel like I was their only client! I do not have enough words to explain my gratitude for their help in finding my perfect “castle” condo!”

Irina Royter

“At each step of the process, we never felt pressured”

“As first time homebuyers, we were intimidated by the market and unfamiliar with the process, but we love DC and were open to living in a variety of neighborhoods. We were looking for someone who would be patient while we learned the ropes and who would help us feel confident in a highly competitive market.

We found all that and more. They helped guide us through many properties around the District to more fully understand what we were looking for in a house and a neighborhood.

At each step of the process, we never felt pressured to make an offer or any other decision with which we were not completely comfortable.

They were able to educate and empower us with his knowledge of the market, and his engaging personality helped us thoroughly enjoy the experience from start to finish.

After looking for just about a month and putting in two offers, we were under contract for an amazing house in Petworth. We’re so thankful they were in our corner advocating for us every step of the way.”

Adam & Rebecca Evans

“He created some of the best marketing pieces I’ve seen in my 25 years”

“I worked with James for years as he provided marketing, design and social media services for our real estate brokerage and directly to our agents. He created some of the best marketing pieces I’ve seen in my 25 years in the business and added much value to our endeavors during our collaboration.”

Patrick Carlisle

“We found all that and more with District Residential.”

“As first time homebuyers, we were intimidated by the market and unfamiliar with the process, but we love DC and were open to living in a variety of neighborhoods. We were looking for someone who would be patient while we learned the ropes and who would help us feel confident in a highly competitive market.
We found all that and more with them. They helped guide us through many properties around the District to more fully understand what we were looking for in a house and a neighborhood. At each step of the process, we never felt pressured to make an offer or any other decision with which we were not completely comfortable. They were able to educate and empower us with their knowledge of the market, and their engaging personalities helped us thoroughly enjoy the experience from start to finish. After looking for just about a month and putting in two offers, we were under contract for an amazing house in Petworth. We’re so thankful they were in our corner advocating for us every step of the way (including pushing back on settlement and personally climbing on the roof to show the seller that inspection items were not addressed correctly and made sure they were fixed!).”
Adam & Rebecca

“Highly recommended and we would plan on using her as our agent again in the future!”

“We used Molly as our agent for both selling/buying, upgrading from a condo in DC to a house in Maryland. We first met Molly at an open house and were impressed by how much she remembered from our short conversation in the follow-up email she sent to us later that day. Throughout everything we appreciated Molly’s honesty and how she listened to our thoughts and concerns — she never came across as condescending or as if our concerns didn’t matter to her. When it came time to put an offer in on the house she was very aggressive in beating out a competing offer, which we appreciated since we had never been in that situation before. Molly also communicated with us constantly throughout the process and responded instantly whenever an issue came up. Highly recommended and we would plan on using her as our agent again in the future!”

David Garber

“Flexible, timely, agile, and all around a wonderful person to work with”

“District Residential made the journey of finding a perfect apartment seamless. Flexible, timely, agile, and all around a wonderful people to work with, their style of customer relationship had no time-limits — from the weekends calls to late evenings emails, while I was different time-zones, they were there every step of the way — consummate professionals who facilitated exactly what I was looking for in an apartment. I believe I’ve found my real estate broker as long as I’m in the DC area for the years to come.”

David Mazaheri

“If you’re looking to buy or sell your home I highly recommend that you choose Molly Branson as your agent”

“If you’re looking to buy or sell your home I highly recommend that you choose Molly Branson as your agent. First, Molly is friendly and easy to work with. She always made time to answer our questions and was very clear about where we were in the process of selling our condo. Molly also did a great job showing our condo. She used everything from advertising on social media, phone calls with her network of agents, and two open houses. Our condo was on the market for two days and sold over list price. We plan to use her as an agent again and will definitely recommend her to our friends.”

Jason Trentacoste

“James’ mind works at another level from the rest of us humans”

“James’ mind works at another level from the rest of us humans. Because of his creativity, my sales material was unique, compelling and always impressive.”

Shelly Sutherland

“They got us into the exactly right property for us.”

“We lucked out meeting Daren and Randy at a new home buyer’s seminar. They explained the process and when we were finally ready to look seriously, we called them and asked them to be our buyers agents. It was the best decision we made! We told them what we were looking for and they targeted neighborhoods and properties in our price range. Our wish list was crazy for what we wanted to spend, but we managed to pull it off in the end. When we toured each property, they provided their honest assessment. Their eye for detail and ability to identify problems steered us away from shoddy flips and lurking problems. They negotiated hard and when we lost the bidding war on a house we liked, they provided encouragement and convinced us we would find the house for us. While we couldn’t see it at the time, they were right. When we did find the perfect place (and we did find it!), we were able to move quickly and put together the winning offer. They worked hard behind the scenes, sometimes very late into the night to put together offers quickly and accurately. They even helped us with financial documents to quickly get the financing secured. Even when we were traveling we worked with them to make sure we could submit offers quickly. Now that the sale is done, they continue to be helpful finding resources to make home ownership easier. Aside from their knowledge, research and understanding of the market, Randy and Daren are just great guys who we always enjoyed talking to and being around them. There’s so much more I can say about how much we enjoyed working with them and how they got us into the exactly right property for us. The bottom line is this: great agents, great guys, we were so lucky to have found them and I’d work with them again in a heartbeat!”

Candace Archer & Jenn Nichols

“I’m grateful for his positive spirit, can-do attitude, creative genius and OCD-level work.”

“Being a real estate agent requires the ability to juggle many things at once. Agents need to focus on their clients’ needs, and should delegate what they can as soon as they can. I simply cannot provide great customer attention if I’m preoccupied with my website or social media. Enter James Kastner. James not only unburdened me but he took my website and social media sites and ran with them. His elegant and creative design propelled my site into something more than I hoped for. And social media? Forget about it! I’m all over the place – key in this short-attention-span society. James has given me what I feel is priceless: peace of mind. I’m grateful for his positive spirit, can-do attitude, creative genius and OCD-level work. It’s always perfect, error-free and on point. Thank you, James!”

Mary Macpherson

“Thank you to all of the team.”

“The team made our transition to finding the right tenants and property management easy and a welcoming experience. We know our home while being rented will be in good hands! Thank you to all of the team.”

Steven and Beth Fabbri

“He’s fun to work with, and smart as a whip.”

“James did marketing work for some of my real estate development properties, and was consistently energetic, focused, and creative. He’s fun to work with, and smart as a whip. No hesitation giving him a strong recommendation.”

Joel M. Karr

“They work hard at it. They made me feel completely at ease throughout the whole buying process.”

“I’m a pretty competitive person. I do Ironman competitions, plus a whole host of other races and fitness challenges. I work hard at it. Randy and Daren are the Iron-men of real estate. They work hard at it. They made me
feel completely at ease throughout the whole buying process. I was a first time home buyer and pretty nervous. But they seem to just have a way about them that put my mind at ease. But the best thing is just smart they work.
The strategy they implemented got me the home I wanted, and I went up against 6 other offers. I’m truly grateful. And so is Hannah, my 2 year old lab. We now live in my dream two bedroom condo in the heart of Bloomingdale!”

Jack Tisne

“Thank you to all of the team”

“District Residential made our transition to finding the right tenants and property management easy and a welcoming experience. We know our home while being rented will be in good hands! Thank you to all of the team.”

Steven

“James is a real go-getter with genius ideas!”

“James is a real go-getter with genius ideas! He has helped me advance my real estate business in numerous ways. He is always ready to jump in and help with anything from marketing to social media to prospecting and lead generation. He is a delight to work with – fun, smart, professional and did I say fun?”

Deborah Lopez

“They were there every step of the way”

“District Residential made the journey of finding a perfect apartment seamless. Flexible, timely, agile, and all around a wonderful people to work with, their style of customer relationship had no time-limits — from the weekends calls to late evenings emails, while I was different time-zones, they were there every step of the way — consummate professionals who facilitated exactly what I was looking for in an apartment. I believe I’ve found my real estate broker as long as I’m in the DC area for the years to come.”

David

“He improves everything that he touches!”

“I employed James to manage and deliver my real estate print, social media and online marketing. James is a brilliant, savvy idea generator, brimming with creativity and energy. His excellent editing and writing skills result in marketing copy that is direct and full of impact! James delivers visually appealing results and he improves everything that he touches!”

John Solaegui

“He is passionate, creative, out of the box thinker, with a can-do attitude”

“We hired James and Intersect to build our website and on line presence for our real estate business. He is passionate, creative, out of the box thinker, with a can-do attitude!”

Alla Gershberg

What Unmarried Couples Should Consider Before Buying a Home

February 13, 2018

What Unmarried Couples Should Consider Before Buying a Home

Imagine this scenario: An unwed couple decides to purchase a home together. After a few years in the house, they split, not-so-amicably, leaving a long list of questions about what to do with the shared property:

  • Could one buy the other out or would they have to sell?
  • If they sold, how would the profits be divided?
  • If one stayed in the home, would they have to refinance, or could they just pay rent to the other?
  • What would happen to all the money one of them invested in the down payment?
  • Would either of them have any rightful claim to any of the money they paid into the mortgage?
  • Who gets to keep the furniture, artwork, and other property they’ve accumulated together in the home over the years?
  • If one dies, who receives the proceeds on sale?

This was their state of affairs when I met them – in the midst of a contentious break-up and barely able to have a conversation about the weather much less the division of property. We were eventually able to work things out in a mutually acceptable way, but we could have saved a lot of time and anxiety, and possibly some steep legal fees, if only this couple had taken the time to work through the legal ramifications of owning property together before they purchased.

As a seasoned title attorney doing business in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia, I’ve seen similar scenarios play out time and time again:

Couple falls in love.

Couple does not marry (either by choice or due to legal barriers).

Couple decides it’s cheaper and/or more financially wise to invest in real estate together.

Couple buys a property together.

Couple splits up.

This is the point when they might finally consult a title attorney such as myself, or an experienced estate attorney – someone like my colleague Stuart Sorkin, who like me, has seen this situation play out in many, many different ways over the years.

If you want to avoid the mess these folks found themselves in, Stuart and I have compiled our best advice for unmarried couples to help them make the smartest and most informed choices when it comes purchasing property together.

Consider the End Before the Purchase

Any unmarried couple considering a home purchase should run, not walk, to consult with an experienced real estate lawyerwho can help them work through any possible pitfalls that might arise.

People in the thick of love and romance rarely want to talk about what would happen if one of them dies or there’s a tumultuous break up. But not talking about those things before buying property together could lead to huge problems down the road.

This process is a little like creating a prenuptial agreement, but it’s a critical step to avoiding all kinds of possible financial and emotional situations down the road. Understanding what each party brings to the table and considering all the potential outcomes may seem anti-romance, but when you’re making a purchase as big as a home, the details matter. Making these types of decisions when you are in love can be difficult, but it is far less costly and emotionally draining compared to waiting until there is a problem.     

Know Who Pays What and Get it in Writing

It’s rare that a couple comes to the table with the same financial pros and cons. Generally, one person has more savings, one has more income, one has a better credit score – you get the idea. While couples often work out ways between themselves to deal with these uneven contributions, if the relationship doesn’t last, these differences can cause major issues.

For example, if one partner contributes more money to the down payment, how can that partner be assured that they will get their investment back upon a voluntary or involuntary sale? Or does the partner get some form of compensation, for example, interest for the larger down payment? Or if one partner has more income and pays more of the mortgage each month will they get a greater share of profits if the house is sold down the line? And which partner will get to take the mortgage interest deduction each year? Or in the case of a sudden death, does the survivor have a continuing occupancy right? If yes, for how long and are there conditions? In the case of death, how does the deceased’s family receive their share?

We highly recommend working with an real estate lawyer or other legal consultant to create a legally binding contract that outlines the details of who contributes what amount to:

  1. Down payment
  2. Monthly mortgage payment
  3. Property taxes
  4. Household expenses like utilities, repairs, maintenance, and planned renovations or updates
  5. Shared home furnishings and appliances (such as furniture, artwork, etc.)

Be sure it also answers the following questions in as much detail as possible:

  1. If there is a split what are the timetables for selling the property?
  2. Does a surviving partner get a limited occupancy right or a right of first refusal to purchase the real estate?
  3. What say, if any, does the deceased partner’s family have in the real estate?
  4. How can both partners ensure that their family will eventually receive sales proceeds?

While it may not seem necessary to spell out who contributes every last penny, knowing all of this before putting in an offer on a home will minimize issues down the road. Finances are often a point of contention with couples and this also helps to open that discussion overall and make sure both partners are on the same page and know what is expected of them from the beginning of the process.

Choosing the Best Title Option for Your Situation

When it comes to the property title, or the deed, there are several options for unwed couples.  Each one has significant consequences in the event that the couple splits up or one of them dies, so careful consideration should be given before a decision is made.

Titling a home as Joint Tenants means that each partner has equal ownership of the home and if one of the partners dies that partner’s share of the home transfers to the living partner. If a couple is contributing equally to the property financially and neither has any heirs, this may be a good title choice for them. But if there are heirs, or if one or both owners wants their share of the property to be transferred to someone other than the co-owner, titling in this manner could potentially cause tension, conflict, and huge headaches.

You could also choose to own your home as Tenants in Common. In this case, the title specifies what percentage of the property each partner owns. While that seems straightforward, this could cause issues if one of the partners dies because if there is no will, that partner’s share of the property belongs to their next-of-kin. If the desire of the partners is for their share of the property to pass to heirs though, and both agree, then this title option could work for them.  Some of these negative consequences can be addressed in what I call a Co-Sale Agreement.

In some cases, it might make the most sense to have one partner be the Sole Owner of the property. This could be a good choice if one partner has a much lower credit score or if only one partner will be contributing financially to the down payment and mortgage of the home. However, keep in mind that only the titled owner can claim the mortgage interest deduction on their taxes and if a partner is not on the title their legal rights regarding the real estate are more difficult to enforce.

A more sophisticated option for unmarried couples who want to own property together would be to put it in a Revocable Trust. While treated as a pass-through entity for tax purposes, the trust allows the parties to stipulate who pays for what and how the property is treated should the couple part ways or should one of the parties dies. A revocable trust has one significant advantage over other types of written agreements in that the recorded owner of the property is the revocable trust and its terms are required to be disclosed to the title attorney upon a sale of the real estate.

Who Gets What?

Some of the decisions made about your estate and how the property will be titled will determine, or at least lay the groundwork, for who owns what percentage of the property and who inherits the other’s share if one of the partners passes away. But if there’s a bad breakup or an unexpected death, the home isn’t the only property that has to considered.

We fill our homes with things from our pasts, as well as things we’ve picked out individually and as a couple. There’s something to be said for thinking about what will happen to those items down the line if the relationship ends. Who gets the antique clock your grandmother left you? Who inherits the appliances your partner purchased with his tax return if you die? How do you divide the property that you bought when you were together?

I’ve had clients who only wanted to provide for the big picture issues and others who have had very specific instructions for every conceivable issue. We don’t always know what we’ll be buying and who will contribute what items to your home design. Still, I always recommend that my clients include details about any items that might be placed in the house, whether purchased separately or together, and how they should be split or who will inherit them should something happen to the relationship or one of the partners.

It may sound like a lot to consider before you start scanning the listings for your dream home but doing the work now could save you so much in legal fees and many headaches (and potential heartache) down the line. Plus, talking about these things before making one of the most significant purchases a couple may ever make can ensure that both partners are on the same page financially – something any couple would benefit from whether buying a home together or not.

If you and your partner are considering purchasing property together, reach out to Stuart or me to get the process started. We can help you ask the right questions, figure out the answers and even recommend real estate agents familiar with working with unmarried couples. Don’t wait until you’re signing a purchase agreement to start thinking about these important issues!

Source