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!

Dec. 2, 2021

A Little Inspiration From a Refrigerator Magnet

 

 

My husband and I teach our kids that life is wonderful and good and that anything is possible. And, we also teach them that life can be a little messy and complicated sometimes, too. In fact, few things in life happen in a straight line. We set our sights on a goal and we make plans to get there. But have we anticipated any challenges? What’s the backup plan? Are we prepared to adjust our sails if the seas get a little rough?

I think learning to adjust your sails is key. 

We’re in the middle of a really dynamic real estate market. But I probably don’t have to tell you that. Buyers are jumping on low lending rates and trying to zero in on their first, next, or dream home. But buying a home isn’t linear; it requires dexterity and a proactive willingness to adjust and pivot and respond quickly as things change. This is especially true when buyers are competing against one another over fewer available homes.

And for sellers? Well, it’s a seller’s market for sure, but some sellers may be concerned they won't be able to find a new home by the time their current home sells. Here, there are a few options. Sellers can rent back the home from the buyers for up to 60 days (when a mortgage is involved). Or, if they're moving out of the area, they can rent for a short term, while taking the opportunity to learn the various neighborhoods, navigate traffic patterns, and explore their new community before investing in their new home. Sellers may also think the prices are too expensive, however, with today's low-interest rates, the higher prices are significantly offset by a lower monthly mortgage payment. 

Again, there’s no straight path. My purpose is to guide my clients along the journey and to be nimble enough to adjust and adapt to new plans and new strategies when necessary. Not only to avoid the pitfalls but to move us closer to our goals.

The picture above is a beautiful handmade magnet given to my youngest child by her teacher at the end of this past school year. Virtual school was an uncharted path for everyone, and this sweet and thoughtful teacher wanted to remind her students that despite the challenges they faced, they proved they can handle anything that comes their way.

“I am not afraid of storms for I am learning to sail my ship.”

This magnet is prominently displayed on our refrigerator and it’s a powerful reminder for my daughter and for all of us, really, to remain flexible and willing to adapt and adjust our sails, no matter what happens.

As we enter the holiday season, I hope your home is filled with all the wonderful and messy things that life is made of. And I hope you're able to share it with the people who mean the most to you. 

With gratitude, 

Dana

Posted in Community
Oct. 25, 2021

Colors Create a Vibe

Dear Friend,

For mid-October, it’s still kind of warm here in Bethesda. The leaves haven’t quite turned reddish-golden yet, but if you look carefully you can see a change is underway. Soon, there will be some really gorgeous trees in my neighborhood, which always make me smile when I drive past. I think that’s why I enjoy bringing some of that color, with flowers and pumpkins and other fall decor in my home. It creates a feeling of comfort and warmth and honestly, it makes me feel pretty happy.

Color is really powerful. Think of how soothing pastel colors in a spa or even a doctor or dentist’s office can lend an air of relaxation and calm. Or, how bright bold colors in a school or on a playground create a stimulating and fun environment for kids. The right color can set the mood and the perfect backdrop to any setting.

A fresh coat of paint, or some colorful decor, can really transform the look and feel of your home, too. This is a great tip if you’re thinking of selling your home. Refreshing the interior or exterior of your home is a relatively inexpensive and easy way to enhance your living areas or to prepare your home for sale. In fact, as more people spend more time at home working, learning, and relaxing, who knows? The right color may be just the thing to entice prospective home buyers. 

Speaking of the right color, did you hear Sherwin Williams just announced their Color of the Year for 2022? I love it. It’s called Evergreen Fog and it’s just this delightfully soft, warm shade of green. Their marketing folks said that after such a challenging year for everyone, they wanted to choose a color that would help people feel a sense of renewal, re-birth, and re-emergence. Green was a natural choice, and I think this particular hue does the trick.

The colors you choose for your home communicate a lot about the kind of vibe you want to create for your family and your guests. And don’t forget to look to nature for some inspiration!

With gratitude,

Dana

P.S. I am so honored to have been named one of the region's Top Producers by Modern Luxury DC Magazine. This award is given to a select group of agents who work in the luxury market and who display the highest levels of professionalism and customer service. This award is based on sales volume in a given calendar year. I thank the readers of this magazine for this wonderful honor. To receive this award during a pandemic year is especially meaningful to me. But I have to tell you, I am grateful every day to be able to do a job that I love. And that is thanks to YOU! Thank you for allowing me to be part of your story. 

Posted in Community
Sept. 10, 2021

Conquering Fear With The Help Of A Steady Guide

 

Dear Friend,

Fear can do two things. It can either paralyze us and stop us in our tracks. Or, it can be the catalyst that takes us to places we never even dreamed of.

I think we all deal with fears in one way or another. The weeks leading up to our trip to Portugal to visit my in-laws, our youngest shared with my husband and me her anxiety about flying. Prior to the pandemic, we flew every summer and she was always very excited about getting on an airplane. From talking with her, we learned that she was afraid of flying during thunderstorms, and we had several nights of heavy rain with thunder and lightning in the weeks leading up to our trip. I completely empathized with her, validated her concerns, and assured her that the pilot would not take off in stormy weather. The more specific information we knew about her fear of flying, the more specific my husband and I could be in our approach to helping her. By talking with her, we empowered her to overcome her fear. 

In fact, while traveling, my family and I came face to face with a fear recently. We were on an excursion with a guide who led us through an experience called coasteering. The easiest way to explain this excursion is by cutting and pasting the definition here: Coasteering is an exhilarating, physical adventure activity, including the perfect blend of sea level traversing, rock scrambling, cliff jumping, and swimming, and it is the best way to experience the spectacular coastline and amazing wildlife up close and natural. I did not mind traversing, rock scrambling, or swimming. It's the cliff jumping I had a problem with!

 

When this activity was presented to us, I was sure one of our children would say no; however, they were all so excited and could not wait for the day to arrive. I did not want to show my fear and in turn make my children afraid as well, so I did not say a word and hoped for a thunderstorm.

 

On the day of our excursion, we met our wonderful and adventurous guide who helped calm my nerves. He spent quite a bit of time teaching us how to safely jump, where to place our arms, how to bring our feet together to make a pencil as we got closer to the water -- his instructions were detailed, as were his warnings. However, because I had this knowledge and knew we were in very capable hands, I did not feel nearly as afraid as I did at the start of our drive to the coastline that morning. 

 

We started by jumping off "small cliffs." Not too high and not too far. Those jumps were manageable and it helped boost my confidence! I was not fully over my fear as the jumps got progressively higher; however, thanks to our wonderful instructor preparing us well by telling us exactly what we could expect and exactly what we should do to make the jump enjoyable and safe, when it came time for my final jump I was able to jump off and actually enjoy it! It was exhilarating! By talking with me, educating me, and validating my concerns, my guide empowered me to overcome my fear. 

Over this past 15 months, especially, I’ve heard from many of my buyers who have a different set of fears. They want to make smart decisions. They don’t want to feel rushed. They don’t want to overpay. They know what they want, but they aren’t sure if they’re doing all the right things to get there. I’m thrilled that so many have trusted me to be their guide.

Bottom line? I’m not a professional rock jumper! But I listened to my guides and they were able to calm my fears by educating me and helping me get into the right mindset. And, I listened, so that I could move past my fear and hit my goal. I can do the same for you. Because at the end of the day, having a professional guide to manage the real estate transaction leaves you to do the most important thing…make the jump.

With gratitude,

Dana

 

 

 

Posted in Community
Aug. 9, 2021

These are a few of my favorite "summer" things...

Hello Friends,

It’s hard to believe August is here already. Summer is going by so fast! But when I consider how little we could all do last year, I'm grateful for the chance to travel a little and make the most of each day. 

This summer, I’ve been fortunate to work with so many wonderful people helping them sell their home or find their dream home. That always puts a smile on my face. It can be a little intimidating for homebuyers, especially in this market, knowing your offer is one of many. I'm pleased to report that working together with my clients we were able to negotiate and put forth strong — and winning! — offers. The first half of 2021 has definitely been busy. And while it's easing off slightly, the market is projected to remain strong through the rest of the year. 

In between helping my amazing clients, I took a covid-safe trip to the beautiful island of St. Kitts to attend my college roommate’s wedding. My husband and I had a blast! I reconnected with friends I haven’t seen in a long time. And, I got to experience creative cooking demos, really fun rum tastings, and the most gorgeous wedding ceremony. It was sheer perfection. The pictures above hardly do this Caribbean island paradise justice.

I’m grateful for so many things. For family and friends, like you. And especially, for the chance to celebrate in person with the ones we love. I hope you, too, have been able to enjoy some downtime doing whatever brings you the most joy.

With gratitude, 

Dana

 

A LITTLE GOOD NEWS 

Congratulations to my very happy buyers who just closed on this gorgeous property in Alexandria, VA! The timing was super quick — less than 48 hours from the initial listing, our offer was accepted, we went under contract, and the property was officially SOLD.

And congratulations to my newest clients for their winning offer on this beautiful home that checked everything off their wish list -- including a fenced-in yard for their sweet dog! It's currently under contract and I couldn't be happier for my buyers.

The market continues to be strong. My biggest piece of advice to anyone thinking of selling or buying is to act fast!

 

4 THINGS I REALLY LOVE

1. Summer in Maryland means one thing: fresh crabs! Fisherman’s Crab Deck is one of my favorite spots to relax and enjoy the most delicious seafood along the Maryland waterfront.

2. Easiest way to feel a little glam while being safe in the sun? Add a big floppy hat! It’s the perfect accessory on a hot summer day.

3. Oooh la la, Paris! My family and I were completely mesmerized to see the Eiffel Tower and strolling along the Seine River in Paris. 

4. Treat yourself and stop by Tatte Bakery and Cafe in Bethesda. The community gathers here and for good reason. This place feels like home. Trust me ~ the food and ambiance at Tatte Bakery and Cafe is just…*chef’s kiss* heavenly.

   

Posted in Community
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.