Finding Your Village

I created this space to provide you with stories from my own experience and information that I gather from the most trusted and verified sources. I want to help you find your home and your village, just like I am lucky to be a part of mine. 

You’ll find my blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to community happenings. That’s because I care about the community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. I'd love to talk with you!

June 1, 2021

Family Is Everything

 

Family. There’s nothing like it. And especially after this past year with all the travel restrictions, it’s so nice to see families visiting one another in person, at home. If there’s one thing this global health pandemic taught me, it’s how important it is to cherish every moment with family. 

 

Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and working with so many incredible families. From young people searching for their first home to empty nesters looking to downsize, and everyone in between. But every so often I have the honor of working with a family whose story of strength and sacrifice just humbles me. 

 

Such was the case with the Lees. They are a military family who have been serving our country overseas. When they recently returned to the US to begin searching for a new home, they suddenly found themselves in the middle of a highly competitive buyers market. 

 

Although they knew exactly what they wanted in their new home — features, price, location, etc. — time was working against them. Their greatest challenge was finding a home and securing a contract in time before other potential buyers beat them to the chase. 

 

So they approached this dilemma strategically. They began their new home search on the day they arrived at their new duty station. And, to alleviate any stress on the family and prevent them from clouding their decision-making process, they secured a fully-furnished rental on a monthly contract that was less than their basic allowance for housing. In fact, their biggest piece of advice for other military families is, “Don’t rush!”  

 

This temporary housing gave them a little breathing room and the gift of time needed to find the perfect home. It also enabled them to stay in constant communication with me so I knew exactly what they were looking for in a new home. According to Alicia Lee, “Understanding and communicating our preferences to Dana was crucial so she could widen or narrow the scope of our search as needed.”

 

I was thrilled to be able to help the Lees find their forever home. And I am particularly humbled by the strength of military families and the bravery they show every day in service to our country. It is especially meaningful this Memorial Day weekend, as we remember the brave men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

 

I keep in touch with my clients even after the purchase or sale of their home just to make sure everything is perfect. When I asked the Lees what the best memory in their new home is so far, they responded without hesitation, “Our best memory has been being able to have both of our families all in the same location, for the first time in a very long time.”

 

Family is everything. 

 

Thank you to the Lee family for your service. May you have a lifetime of happy memories in your new home. 

Posted in Community
April 28, 2021

Are Schools Important When Buying A Home?

Are schools important when buying a home

 

 

My kids recently returned to school, in person, after attending virtual learning this past year, and let me tell you it was a joyous day! They were so excited to see their friends on a daily basis in person (rather than on zoom). And their teachers were excited to see them, too. I think we’re all ready for things to get back to normal.

 

Schools are such an important part of any community. 

 

Ask any home buyer with kids, they’ll tell you the same. 

 

In fact, whenever I’m talking with people about neighborhoods and homes for sale, one of the first things they ask me about is the schools in the community. What are they like? How are the teachers? Could my kids walk or are they on the bus route? What does the diversity look like? 

 

Good quality schools can boost your property’s value and increase the resale value of your home. Buying a home near a good school can be a great investment, whether you have children or not.

 

Montgomery Public Schools are among the very best in the nation and they are situated within some of the most beautiful neighborhoods in Maryland. To make things easy for home buyers, I have a tool on my website that lets you check out some of our school “clusters” and search for homes within each. Check it out at SoldByDana.com/schools

 

Home is where I find my village of friends and neighbors. It’s where my family and I live, work, and go to school. Now that our kids are back to school in person, I find I’m even more grateful for the teachers and the warm welcoming environment they’ve created in our community.

 

With Gratitude, 

Dana

 

March 31, 2021

Women Who Make A Difference In Our Community

 

 

Think of a woman who has made a difference in your life. Was it a teacher who saw your natural talent for art? Or a coach who saw your potential as an athlete? Or maybe it was a relative -- an aunt or a sister, a grandmother or a mother? Someone who was always there to give you words of advice, encouragement, and reassurance when you were struggling? 

March is Women's History Month and although our social media timelines have been flooded with images and quotes from famous women throughout history, I decided to narrow my focus to the women who are closest to me. Women in my circles who are doing really important and meaningful things with their lives. Women who have shaped, influenced, and inspired me in so many positive ways. The person at the top of my list was my mother. 

 

My mom came to this country as an immigrant from India and a single mother of two. It was difficult and she overcame many hardships. She is without a doubt the strongest woman I know. On International Women’s Day (earlier this month), I was thrilled to share a picture of her alongside my grandmother and aunt. These incredible, fearless women helped raise my sister and me and they inspired us both to become strong, confident women. 

 

Soon, a list of other inspiring women came to mind. So I decided to start a series called “Spotlight on Women Leaders,” which features women in my personal and professional life who are leaders and absolute rock stars in their communities. 

 

First up was my dear friend Laura Hayes, Founder of The Brave Girl Project. I first met Laura when we were students at Virginia Tech and from the moment you first get to know Laura, she makes you feel heard. She is a Life Coach and an Educator and her passion is helping girls realize how truly wonderful and brave they are. I am so inspired by the great work Laura is doing for girls in our community!

 

I'd love to know some of the important women who have helped shape your life. You can email me at dcruz@ttrsir.com and be sure to follow me on Instagram @sold.by.dana for more amazing women who are making a difference in our community.

 

With gratitude, 

Dana

Feb. 23, 2021

Fall In Love With Your Home

 

 

Have you ever scrolled through home listings and come upon a home that you just love? Why did you love it? What features caught your eye? Now ask a partner or friend what their dream home looks like. There might be similarities in your answers, but if there's one thing I know for sure, it’s that everyone has a different picture in their mind of their dream home. 

 

One group of home buyers who knows exactly what they're looking for are millennials (people born between 1981 and 1996). These folks represent the largest share of home buyers on the market right now and while they may have waited a little longer than previous generations to purchase their first home, they’re taking the market by storm precisely because they know what they want. Generally speaking, millennials gravitate toward homes that are smarter, high-tech, and more environmentally conscious. Overall, they fall in love with homes that offer them the lifestyle and experience they value most.

 

But millennials aren’t the only ones having an impact on the market right now. I’m also seeing a growing number of buyers who are mid-career and considering downsizing in the near future. And I’m working with many buyers with families who are less concerned about being close to their work and more focused on finding a home the whole family can love that offers flexible spaces for living, working, learning, and entertaining. 

 

If you’re ready to begin a new home search, let’s talk. Whether you’re looking for your first home or your next home, I’ll help you find a home you can fall in love with!

 

With gratitude, 

 

Dana

Posted in Community
Jan. 27, 2021

Do you TRUST me?

Have you ever done a trust fall? It’s usually something organizations do as a sort of team-building exercise. With your back to your partner, you’re supposed to stand straight and tall and then fall back into the (hopefully) waiting arms of your partner, who you trust will save you from a potentially embarrassing and painful splat on the floor. The hope is that if your co-worker literally has your back in this exercise, they will also figuratively have your back to help you through stressful times.

Usually, the catcher tries to reassure the other person to make them less nervous.

They might say something like, don’t worry, I’ve got you.

Or, I won’t let you fall, you can trust me!

Exercises like this are fun. They aren’t a magic bullet for building trust, but I think they’re a good first step because communication is central to building trust. Without it, there’s always that undercurrent of uncertainty and worry and will this person let me fall?

Choosing a realtor is somewhat of an exercise in trust, too. You want someone with the strong market knowledge and good negotiation skills to fight for your best interests. But at the end of the day, with all the twists and turns that happen when you’re buying or selling a home (just check out my latest Instagram post below), the relationship between realtor and client — between you and me — all comes down to trust. And that begins with great communication.

For nearly 20 years, people have trusted me to handle what is often a very personal transaction and certainly one of the biggest investments of their life. I don’t take that responsibility lightly. As a professional realtor, I know that good communication is the foundation of trust and it is by far the most important skill in my toolbox.

Great realtors do two things better than their competitors: First, they provide expert knowledge of the market, industry trends, throughout the entire home buying and selling process. And, second, they do it in a way that mitigates anxiety and fosters trust, reassurance, and peace of mind for every client.

My job is to help you buy or sell your home, but my purpose and passion are to make the whole process as smooth and stress-free as possible. And that can only happen through good communication, trust, and the assurance that I’ve got your back.

With much gratitude,

Dana

Posted in Community
Dec. 31, 2020

Local Virtual and In-person Holiday Activities

Happy New Year! If you're like me and trying to enjoy as many holiday festivities as you can, then check out this list below of local and virtual events you can enjoy!

 

“A Christmas Carol” Two Ways

Ford’s Theatre: Available for streaming through Jan. 1 at fords.org. 

Olney Theatre Center: Available for streaming Dec. 15 through Jan. 3 at olneytheatre.org. $15-$20.

 

Winternational Virtual Marketplace | Ronald Regan Building and International Trade Center

About: The Winternational Virtual Marketplace celebrates DC’s diverse diplomatic community and its artisan diaspora in a new, year-long format designed to showcase the cultural heritage of diaspora communities from around the world. Shop from the embassy-curated collection including visual and decorative arts, handcrafts, apparel, jewelry, and artisan-crafted culinary fare. The Virtual Marketplace will be open through December 2021—a unique place to shop for holidays and special occasions throughout the year.

 

Bull Run Festival of Lights

Where: Bull Run Regional Park | Centreville, VA

When: November 6 – January 10

Admission: $20-30/vehicle (look for discount below)

Experience 2.5 miles of colorful holiday light displays. As you drive the festival route, turn off your headlights and just follow the magical glow. It started early this year and online ticketing were added to provide minimal contact. Take advantage of a discount for purchasing online — use promo code WEB20 for $5 off the Monday-Thursday rate.

 

Lights on The Bay

Where: Sandy Point State Park | Annapolis, MD

When: November 20 – January 2

Admission: $20/car look for discount! (Discount coupons are available through local publications and at many retail locations.)

Driving through Lights on the Bay at Sandy Point State Park has become a tradition for many area families for the past decade. The scenic drive along the shores of the Chesapeake Bay features more than 60 spectacular animated and stationary displays illuminating the roadway. The holiday light show is sponsored by the SPCA of Anne Arundel County. 

Please note that Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights tend to be our most popular nights, so please plan ahead or visit us Monday - Thursday. Don’t forget to purchase your 3D glasses upon admission to the park to make the already magical light show come alive.

 

Symphony of lights

Where: Symphony Woods at Merriweather | Columbia, MD

When: November 25 – January 1

Admission: $20/vehicle

Called a “woodland wonderland,” this beautiful display of more than 100 all-new larger-than-life, animated and stationary light creations is a local holiday tradition for many. Cruise along the 1.4-mile route through the Symphony Woods in downtown Columbia and enjoy the twinkling lights as you go. On November 29, the Family Festival welcomes visitors to walk through the lights + enjoy activities for the whole family ($12/guest).

 

Sharpen your kitchen skills with the U.S. Botanical Garden

While the U.S. Botanical Garden might be closed, it’s making it easier than ever to bring the plant magic home with you by providing a regular schedule of online classes and tutorials that are perfect for the holidays. Create your own fall floral centerpiece or winter door wreath to bring a joyous vibe to your home, or take a cooking class that’ll help you make delicious Thanksgiving side dishes or figure out what exactly to do with all those leftovers.

Cost: Free

 

VIRTUAL DC MUSEUM EXHIBITS

Take a virtual tour of DC museums to keep the learning going.

DC has a plethora of museums, including 17 Smithsonian's. If you're looking for creative ways to get out of your house and into a new environment without actually leaving your house, we've compiled a list of virtual museum offerings in DC. You can take a voyage to space, see live animals, discover famous women in history or view the Hirshhorn's Sculpture Garden from a whole new perspective. 

 

Dec. 23, 2020

Creating Connections In Time of Uncertainty


If there’s one big takeaway for me from 2020 it’s that, as humans, we need connection. We crave it. And, when our traditional ways of connecting become tricky or even impossible, we can get wildly creative.

I think of healthcare workers who printed pictures of themselves and pinned them on their scrubs and protective gear to connect with patients so they could see the human behind the face masks and face shields.

 

I think of the local food banks and shelters, who gently remind us of so many in our community who need more assistance now than ever before.

 

I think of my kids’ teachers who moved their entire lesson plans to virtual and yet somehow show up every day with the same enthusiasm and passion for connecting with their students as they do in person.

 

And I think of my own neighborhood and how there may have been no summer pool parties, book clubs, or backyard barbecues, but yet somehow our sense of community has never been stronger. Back in the spring, when the stay-at-home orders went into effect, my family and I started taking more walks and bike rides in our neighborhood. The first thing we noticed is that we weren’t alone. At all times of day, we saw neighbor after neighbor out doing the same thing. Getting out of the house for a little while to connect with nature, and connect with one another with a friendly greeting or wave.

 

I think 2020 forced us all to get small, and that’s not a bad thing. Because when we get small, we come to realize that everyone else is small right alongside us. And that can be a great comfort and even provide some much-needed hope when the world feels uncertain and a little upside down.

 

It’s impossible to predict what the next year holds. But what I know for sure is that connections matter. And we are the single biggest determinants of how strong those connections are. 

 

As the year comes to a close, I want to thank you for your business, but more importantly, I want you to know how very grateful I am for your friendship and for the connection we’ve made this year. I look forward to working with you and helping you in any way I can in 2021 and beyond.

 

Wishing you and your family a happy and healthy holiday season and a wonderful New Year!


With gratitude, 


Dana

 

Posted in Community
Nov. 25, 2020

Creating meaningful connections

If this year has revealed anything to me, it’s the importance of creating and nurturing meaningful connections with others. It’s ironic isn’t it? That during times like these where we want the comfort of having our loved ones physically close, it’s become nearly impossible. 

I think about the possible and the impossible often. And how, even in the toughest of times, we’re somehow able to dig deep and reveal the resilience of humanity in big and small ways.

I think about my kids’ teachers and how they’ve gone above and beyond to maintain connections with students, whether it’s in the classroom or virtually.

I think about my extended family and how we’ve been calling and texting more frequently these days. And, knowing our Thanksgiving will look a little different this year, we’ve already made plans for lots of FaceTime calls.

I think about my colleagues and friends at work who are simply the most extraordinary partners. Over the last several months, as our industry has pivoted and adjusted to overcome things that may seem impossible, we’ve come to rely on one another for help. The reassurance I have in knowing I can call on them for assistance during this time of isolation has touched my heart. 

Yes, there are most definitely people out there who are doing the impossible.

Did you happen to see the SpaceX launch? It’s always an impressive sight, but what struck me was the video of the astronauts’ arrival to the International Space Station. The cooperation, the teamwork, the open arms to welcome the newest arrivals on this mission, a mission which would have been implausible just a few years ago — inspiring. And by the way, the name of the capsule that launched these astronauts to space? Resilience. According to NASA, the astronauts chose this name in honor of the “enduring and resilient nature of humanity to persevere through difficult times.”

This has been a difficult year for so many. But the kindness and resilience of humanity reminds me that there is still so much to be grateful for. 

Wishing you and your family a healthy and Happy Thanksgiving.

Posted in Community
Oct. 28, 2020

Around Here..Fall Feels Like Home

Hello Friend,
A sure sign that fall is here is when I see our kids gathering twigs and branches so my husband can get a fire going in our fire pit for s’mores. The air gets cooler, the leaves transform into bright red, orange and yellow, and the smells? Apples, cinnamon, pumpkin spice, fire pits…it’s a feast for the senses. Fall traditions are a big deal in the Cruz home. And while this year may be a little different with quarantine and distancing, I’m grateful there are still so many ways we can celebrate the fun of this season with our family, friends, and neighbors.
And speaking of neighbors, have you ever BOO’d your neighbors? It’s literally my family’s favorite thing to do in October. When the sun goes down we leave a bag full of treats or small gifts as quietly as possible at an unsuspecting neighbor’s front door. We ring the doorbell and then — ding-dong-ditch — we run like crazy to hide behind cars or bushes so we can watch them discover their surprises! We do this every year and it’s such a great way to spread a little kindness among neighbors.
Just outside our neighborhood, we’re lucky to be surrounded by so many local farms and orchards — two of our family’s favorites are Butlers Orchard in Germantown and Homestead Farm. We cannot resist the corn maze, the haunted hayrides, the caramel apples, hot chocolate for the kids, and (my favorite) warm apple cider. We love choosing the perfect pumpkins to carve. And while we always come home with more apples than we need, our daughter Sofia makes good use of them. As an aspiring baker, she makes our home smell absolutely delicious with her mouth-watering apple pies.
Another tradition that makes this community so special is the highly popular "Trick or Treat On The Row". Our offices are located on the Row and it’s always fun to join my fellow agents in dressing up and handing out candy to trick or treaters.
I think I like fall so much because it’s a season devoted to sharing experiences with the people you care about. And aren’t we lucky to live in one of the most beautiful places in the country? Fall is special in Montgomery County. I can honestly say I wouldn’t want to live anyplace else. Because here, fall feels like…home.
With much gratitude,
Dana
Oct. 8, 2020

Things to Expect From Your Agent When Searching For Your Dream Home

Hello Friend, Buying a home isn’t always a straight line from searching…to making an offer…to acceptance…and finally, to closing. Of course, sometimes it happens that way, but when you’re in a competitive buyer’s market (as we are right now), the process can take a lot of detours and become pretty frustrating. I’ve found that when things get frustrating, it’s best to stay the course, remain laser-focused on your goals, and keep an open mind.
While there are many things you can do to position yourself well in a competitive market (make sure your financials are in order, get pre-qualified, etc.), the most important thing you can do to cut through all the noise and frustration is to have someone on your side who will be your advocate. Your biggest champion. Someone who’s willing to fight as hard and as tirelessly as you to help get the house you desire. This is what I do best. I’m on your side from day one and I’m ready to work for you no matter how frustrating the process becomes.
As an experienced realtor, my strength lies beyond simply knowing the market really well. My strength lies in knowing how to leverage that market knowledge and industry expertise in ways that best serve your individual home buying wishes, desires, and goals. That’s why the first thing I do is learn as much as I can about you. What’s your vision? What’s your endgame? What kind of home and lifestyle do you envision? What’s most important to you? Armed with this personal information, I become your informed, trusted partner and ally who will always have your best interests as my highest priority.
For sure, it’s easy to get discouraged sometimes when you’re in the market for your next home. Especially in a competitive market where things may not be happening as quickly as you’d like. That’s ok. Be patient. Stay the course. And keep an open mind because, working together, I know the right home is out there just waiting for you.
With much gratitude,
Dana