She Became a Broker to Buy Her Own House Near Washington, D.C. Which Did She Choose?

Alyssa Latney comes naturally to her instinct to invest in real estate.

When Ms. Latney was growing up in Washington, D.C., her grandmother owned four apartment houses and a single-family home in the area, all of which she passed down to her six children. Ms. Latney was raised in one of those houses.

“Everyone in my family bought a house because of the legacy of my grandmother,” she said. “So I wanted to be the next one to become a homeowner.”

Ms. Latney, 32, who calls herself a “student forever,” has two master’s degrees and works as a health and physical education teacher at an elementary school near Capitol Hill. For three years, she rented a two-bedroom apartment in Northeast Washington, for about $1,000 a month, before briefly moving in with her mother. She was saving up for something big.

“Initially, my dream was to own an apartment complex before I bought my own home,” she said.

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To that end, at the start of 2022 she decided to get a real estate license and become a part-time broker. “I wanted to get the commission and not put my hard-earned money in someone else’s hands,” said Ms. Latney, who is now a sales associate with Coldwell Banker. “But I also wanted to be my own advocate. The knowledge is even more important than the money to me.”

As her reserves grew, she received some sage advice from her office manager, and from her mother (“my best advisor”), who thought it would be better to buy her own place first.

So with a budget of around $325,000, she set her sights on a three-bedroom home, preferably with off-street parking and a fenced backyard for her dog, Chloe. Space for entertaining was also a priority.

“I like to host my friends and family, so it’s important to me to have a floor plan that feels welcoming and open,” she said. “I like the idea of separating church and state, with private areas upstairs and public areas downstairs, so more than one level is important.”

After starting her search in the city, Ms. Latney quickly refocused on the nearby Maryland suburbs, where there were better options in her price range. That’s when her hunt became a family affair.

“Alyssa sent a video to me of every property she looked at in the beginning, and then I started going with her to see them for myself,” said Ms. Latney’s mother, Constance Latney-Fernandez, 67, a retired teacher. “Her father gave us a list of everything to check out in each house to make sure it worked.”

Mrs. Latney-Fernandez told her daughter to pay special attention to each home’s condition and to “picture herself there for the next 30 years.”

“If a place needed a little work, that’s OK,” she said. “But if it needs too much, that could be a problem.”

Among her options:

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