Have you ever wanted to leave your job to try something new? Do you think about doing something completely different in your life and follow your passion? Taking this one step further, have you ever left a job where you were on top and making a great living, but yet yearned from something more? Well, meet Marian Marsten Rosaaen of The Marsten Group, LLC at Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc.
I met Marian last Summer during one of my weekend house tours for The Cribline’s House Pick of the Week. There was something about her that stood out, but I didn’t really give it much thought at first. It wasn’t until I kept seeing her on my Sunday tours of the city hosting open houses and we started talking that I started to get to know her. She was everywhere! And, if there’s one good sign I can point to of a good Realtor, or any professional, it’s that their commitment is visible and they’re out there engaged in what they’re doing in a big way. One of the things that I learned last Fall that I found striking about Marian is that she had a long, successful career at AOL and left all that to follow her passion for real estate.
I sat down with Marian the other morning over steel cut oats and green tea for me and Chai tea for her at Teaism in DuPont Circle. Marian is one of The Approved Cribline Vendors who has been hand selected as part of the community that we’re building to help people smartly navigate real estate in Washington, contribute to the positive growth of our neighborhoods and city, and continue to strengthen our community. She provided some good insights about her passion for real estate and what she sees ahead for investing in DC’s market.
Take a look at the exchange below:
Eric (The Cribline): One of the things that stuck out with me is that I kept running into you, and before too long we were talking and you shared that you had a successful career at AOL! AOL to real estate? How did that happen?
Marian: I loved my job at AOL, and the group I was a part of was having a significant impact on the lives on millions of people. And yet, even with that success, and working with great people, I felt something was missing. While I believe I was helping improve people’s lives, they were people that I didn’t have a direct connection with. And, ever since I was a little girl growing up in St. Louis I liked real estate. My parents would lug me and my sister around every weekend in our Oldsmobile station wagon looking at houses. By the way, the car was like a great white whale and my sister called it MOBY. It was huge!
And, there was a point in my career working in corporate America that I felt compelled to do something on my own! I wanted to feel the impact I could have on people’s lives. And, with real estate, this is one of the biggest decisions someone can make, and I felt that I could be a positive help in guiding people through that process.
Eric (The Cribline): You have had to completely reinvent yourself! So, did you just wake up one day and say, “I want to be in real estate?”
Marian: I either had enough “crazy” in me or enough faith in myself to know that real estate was just something I had to pursue. I was at the point where I had learned so much at AOL. My specialty was product development and marketing, looking at trends, and examining what works and what doesn’t in business, and it just became clear that I could combine this training with something that I’ve always loved – real estate. I knew that where I was was not my lifetime career. So, I got my real estate license! And my experience exploring trends? Now, I look at real estate data and statistics that impact the housing market. Just take for example the current data on house prices in our city. This is something I’ve been looking at closely. Right now we just hit $400,000 as the median price of a home in DC. This is back to levels that we saw in 2007/2008.
Eric (The Cribline): So you said something that caught my attention. I think Cribline readers would like to know more about what you see happening in DC?
Marian: Real estate is always going to have highs and lows, but prices have consistently gone up over time all across the country and particularly in DC. I don’t have a crystal ball, but I know we live in one of the strongest markets in the country. I believe in the stock market, but if you want to invest, real estate is something you can actually touch.
Eric (The Cribline): Can you describe what has been happening with DC’s real estate market lately? It seems a little crazy out there!
Marian: Right now it’s a seller’s market. If you look at absorption rate data. We have about 4.25 months of inventory. Anything below 5 months of inventory is a sellers market. That’s why you’re seeing 2006 and 2008 behaviors in real estate. That’s why you’re seeing multiple offers and sometimes $100,000 more than the listing price. A buyers market is above 7 months of inventory incidentally. A healthy balanced market is between 5 and 7 months of inventory, and I believe we are heading back into a more balanced market. Eric (The Cribline): Why are people paying $100,000 more than the asking price for property?
Marian: Over $100,000 is definitely an exception, but over the long-term, the reason people are over an asking price is because they know that this city is booming, and people are tired of losing homes after making offer after offer. What’s happening is that we are seeing a lot of investor groups moving into key areas of the city because they see the opportunities. They are looking at demographic data, traffic, and many of the things I used to look at at AOL to help guide future business. Individual buyers are competing with those investors and it’s tough. Look at SW Waterfront for example. Investor’s have moved in there in a big way. The President just signed a bill to bring in huge investment to the area. This will pave the way for 2.5 million square feet of mix use of hotel, office, retail, and residential space, and include new and improved waterfront parks and other improvements.
If you go to any of the city’s Business Improvement District websites, you can see what’s coming ahead all over the city. And, that’s a great gauge to where smart investments can be made.
- NOMA BID
You can just see it happening before your very eyes! If you want a visual of what’s happening in this city, just find a rooftop anywhere in the city. Grab a cocktail and take a look at where the cranes are. And, if you follow the investor community, you’ll see that they’re in Mt. Vernon Square, Brookland, 14th Street, SW Waterfront, and now we’re seeing huge investments in historic Anacostia.
Eric (The Cribline): What are some of the qualities that make DC special?
Marian: Intellect. Architecture. History. And, for better or worse politics. You also have to appreciate the character of our neighborhoods and how approachable and accessible our city is. There’s just so much. If you look at the geography, I’m a train ride from NYC, a few hours from the ocean, and hour or so from the mountains, and great vineyards. You can go down to Jack’s boathouse and go paddle boarding or kayaking. You can be a tourist in our own city.
And, I haven’t even made the point about the people you’ll meet here. They are from everywhere. My family has started somewhat of a tradition for the 4th of July. My family gets a room at the Willard hotel overlooking Pennsylvania Avenue and the Washington Monument. We have dinner downtown, then my small nieces return to the room, order ice cream for room service and watch the fireworks. It’s great when you have lil’ folks who are still very scared of the loud ‘BOOM’. Inevitably though, I run into someone famous. Last year, it was Reba McEntire. The year before that, it was Jimmy Smits. It’s just an interesting place to be living and there’s always a lot happening.
Eric (The Cribline): So, let’s connect a couple dots. You made a big leap to transition into real estate after a very successful career in high tech. And, it’s clear that you like houses and DC. So, what was the one thing that got you to this place?
Marian: I always loved real estate, and I just followed my gut! I was looking at development plans, tax records, and touring houses long before I switched careers. And, for me it just made sense. I’ve pulled together all of the things I’ve been trained to do in corporate America with what I love. All the signs pointed for me to be right where I am, and I feel like I’m a part of the greatness that is happening in our city. Buying a home is one of the biggest things someone can do, and to be a guide to help with that process is really meaningful for me. I now have a real sense of purpose and this feels like what I’m supposed to be doing! If I look back on my life, I see that this has just been a big journey going back to when I was seven riding in the back of my parent’s station wagon. It was the right time to do this, and I am doing all the things that I love to do wrapped up in one career. And you have to love real estate. I don’t know how you would do it if you didn’t love it, because it takes 100 percent of your time.
Eric (The Cribline): You spend a lot of time on your passion with real estate, but when do you carve out time for fun?
Marian: That’s something that I’m working on! And, when I have spare time, I love exploring the restaurant scene in town.
Eric (The Cribline): So one last questions! When you are able to carve out some time, where are we going to go to dinner?
Marian: This weekend! And, we are going to Ripple in Cleveland Park. They have the best bacon roasted pecans. They’re divine!!! I love them so much I have a picture of them. The restaurant was started by a man who was a GM at TLC had a passion for food. He also followed his passion. He left his job at TLC and started Ripple, his first restaurant. It features local farmers, an ever changing menu, and a grilled cheese bar. I was drawn to it because of the story behind it, and the food kept me coming back.