Northern Virginia Real Estate News & Market Trends

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

Sept. 13, 2019

5 tips for buyers in a tight housing market

 

Friends and Clients— 

Determine and stick to a budget. 

Before beginning the house-hunting process, prospective homebuyers should receive pre-approval from one or more lenders to verify the amount of money they are qualified to borrow. Then, after taking into account the additional costs of ownership such as taxes, utilities and insurance, buyers should determine a final budget they can comfortably afford. When listings are scarce, bidding wars can drive up prices, so buyers must be prepared to walk away if the asking price surpasses their budget

Identify desired neighborhoods and home wants versus needs.

When housing inventory is tight, buyers may need to compromise on what they believe they want from a home. Certain wants, such as stainless appliances or hardwood floors, can be added later. However, if a buyer wants to be in a specific school district or have a decent sized backyard, those cannot be addressed later and must be taken into account during the house-hunting process.

Be ready to make a decision quickly.

In a seller’s market, homes rarely stay on the market long, so when a house that is in their budget and checks off all of their needs come along, buyers should not hesitate. Buyers should be ready to submit an offer quickly, or they may risk missing out on the home altogether.

Bid competitively and limit contingencies.

It is tempting to submit a low offer as a starting bid, but in a seller’s market buyers need to put forward their highest offer from the very beginning or they are likely to lose out on the home. It is also important to remember that in multiple bidding situations it is not always the highest offer that is most attractive to the seller but the one with the fewest contingencies. Removing restrictions related to the sale of a current home and being flexible with things like the move-in date can make a bid stand out to a seller.

Work with a Realtor.

All real estate is local, so it is important to work with an agent who is a Realtor, a member of the National Association of Realtors, and who is familiar with the areas and neighborhoods the homebuyers are considering. Realtors are the most trusted resource for real estate information and have unparalleled knowledge of their communities; they can give buyers the competitive advantage needed in a tight market. 


If you have any other questions or would like more information, feel free to give me a call, text, or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Aug. 22, 2019

This Is the Best Way to Guarantee Your Home Sells Quickly

What is the No. 1 way to guarantee your home sells fast?

Selling your Greater Washington DC area home?
Buying an Greater Washington DC area home?

 

What is the No. 1 way to guarantee your home sells quickly after you put it on the market? The answer is simple: bury a statue of St. Joseph in your yard. This is guaranteed to work—go online and you’ll be able to find thousands of testimonials that say the exact same thing. In fact, if you buy the statue online, it comes with instructions on how to bury it and the prayer you need to recite. All you have to do is bury it face down, make sure it’s pointed toward your home, and say the prayer. What’s the second-best way to guarantee a quick home sale? Give me a call. I look forward to working with you. 

 

Also, if you have questions or would like more information, you can always reach us at 703-328-3434 or email me at Janet@simplyyourbestmove.com. We look forward to hearing from you soon!.

 

Aug. 8, 2019

How Much Do You Know About Down Payments?

 
Friends and Clients— 

Whether you’ve owned a home before, or you’re ready to jump into homeownership for the first time, there are always a lot of questions swirling around about what is truly required for a down payment, and how to best source down payment assistance. Let’s tackle these two today.

1. How much do you really need for a down payment?
There is a long-standing misconception about down payment requirements. A survey from Fannie Mae shows only 17% of consumers know the minimum options are actually between 1 - 5% of the purchase price and 40% don’t know how much they need at all.
There are many mortgage loans available that require as little as 3% down for first-time buyers, and some ask for only 3.5% down from repeat buyers. There are even loans available for Veterans that provide 0% down payment options too.

We’ve mentioned recently that you don’t need to come up with a 20% down payment to buy, and we’ve also shared how quickly you can save for a 3% or 10% down payment, depending on where you live. If you’re planning to put down just 3%, the research shows it may be possible in most states to have enough saved for a down payment in less than a year. That puts homeownership in a much closer reach for many potential buyers, maybe even you!

2. How can I get help with my down payment?
Regardless of the loans available, many buyers still need assistance with a down payment. The great news is, there are a lot of ways to tap into down payment assistance options. Here are just a couple of them:

Assistance from Family Members
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) said, “a third of recent first-time buyers received down payment assistance from family members.” They also mentioned, “the average net worth of those aged 75 and over stands at $264,800...They just might offer the boost the next generation needs to become homeowners.”

That means one of the ways to find help with a down payment is to accept a gift from a family member. If this is an option for you, make sure you talk to your loan officer before you accept the money, to ensure you document the process the way it is required by your loan. This way, it will be received properly and you can still potentially qualify.

Down Payment Assistance Programs
The reality is, not everyone has a loved one or a family member who can provide help with a down payment. There are, however, more than 2,500 down payment assistance programs available (by local areas like city, county, or neighborhood), and some of them are even specifically for first-time buyers.

The gap, as mentioned in the same survey, is “only 23% of consumers are familiar with low down payment programs.”

That’s why it is so important to get familiar with these options by doing your homework before you plan to buy a home. Determine what is available in the area where you ultimately want to live, so you have all the details you need to take advantage of the down payment assistance option that is best for your family.

Bottom Line
If buying a home is one of your long-term goals, you may be able to get there sooner than you think by tapping into one of the many down payment assistance programs available.


And If you’re thinking of buying or selling a home or have questions about making a down payment, just give me a call at 703-328-3434 or send me an email today. 
July 26, 2019

What a Difference a Year Makes for Sellers



Selling your Greater Washington DC area home?
Buying an Greater Washington DC area home?
Friends and Clients— 

Over the last few years, many sellers have been hesitant to put their houses on the market because they feared not being able to find another home to buy.

We’ve reported on inventory shortages in the past, and it’s been a constant concern for potential buyers throughout recent years. New research shows the inventory concern is starting to decrease among potential buyers.

According to First American, the two leading obstacles to homeownership that buyers feel today are Affordability and Limited Inventory. This means the feeling that homes are less affordable has risen, while the fear of limited inventory has decreased, delivering a wealth of good news for sellers.
At the same time, over the past 12 months, we’ve seen a steady month-over-month increase in the number of homes coming to market for purchase. In the past, the lack of listings and available inventory slowed down the real estate market. This recent increase in current inventory has many buyers and sellers now thinking it is time to make their move – and rightfully so! For the last two months, we’ve seen over 4 months of inventory become available for sale, a promising number that’s been slowly increasing this year and creating more buying opportunities.
To further support the idea of an improving real estate market, Sam Khater, the Chief Economist at Freddie Mac says,
 

In the near-term, we expect the housing market to continue to improve 
from both a sales and price perspective.
 
Many experts, like Sam, believe the second half of 2019 will drive a stronger market than we saw at the beginning of the year. This is great news for homeowners who have put off getting their houses on the market and are now ready to make a move.

Bottom Line


What a difference we’ve seen over the course of this year! If you’re thinking of selling, now is the time as inventory is on the rise. If you’d like to know more about your specific area, just give me a call at 703-328-3434 or send me an email today. 
July 12, 2019

What the Push for Rent Reform Means for Homeowners



Selling your Greater Washington DC area home?
Buying an Greater Washington DC area home?
Friends and Clients— 

Rent reform is brewing across the country.

Starting in New York and Oregon, sweeping new legislation is being proposed at the local, state, and federal levels.

And no wonder. Rents are higher than ever, and many renters are unable to find an affordable place to live. So what can be done?

Well, some of the proposed reforms would overturn bans on rent control.

Others would make it harder to evict tenants. 

Still others would make it more difficult to pass on the costs of making improvements on the property in the form of higher rents.

What does this mean for you?

Well, at this point, all these reforms are still in the proposal stage. So it's hard......in Northern Virginia and the Washington DC Area.
 
But here are a couple of predictions:

If rent reform measures like the above get enacted, renters will rejoice, while landlords will complain. However, things are unlikely to stop there.

Rent control and related measures, while well-meaning, often have unintended consequences.

For example, they make some landlords sell off homes that they used to rent out.

This decreases the number of homes for rent — while simultaneously increasing the number of homes for sale. It also tends to drive down home prices.

Combine this with the lower incentive for investors to buy a home in order to rent it out, and home prices tend to get depressed even further.

If a scenario like the above comes true, then my prediction is that home values will drop as a result of rent reform—and homeowners will take the hit.

That's why, in case you've been considering selling your home, then now might be a golden moment.

Home prices are near all-time highs.

The number of homes for sale in the Northern Virginia/Washington, DC area are still limited, and mortgage rates are at a temporary dip.

In other words, supply far outstrips demand, and the market still favors sellers.

But it won't stay this way forever. Particularly if rent reform really starts rolling. 

So it might make sense to start making some moves now. You can get started by getting an estimate of the current value of your home, based on recent sales in the Washington, DC area:

Enter your home address here to find out what your home is currently worth: 

And if you have any questions about selling or more broadly about real estate conditions in the Northern Virginia/Washington DC Area, give me a call at 703-328-3434. I am here to help.
 
 
June 27, 2019

Are Low Interest Rates Here to Stay?



Selling your Greater Washington DC area home?
Buying an Greater Washington DC area home?
Friends and Clients— 

Interest rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage have been on the decline since January 2019, now reaching lows last seen in September 2017. According to Freddie Mac’s latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey, rates came in at 3.82% last week!
This is great news for anyone who is planning on selling or buying a home this summer! Freddie Mac had this to say,

"Mortgage interest rates continue to decline since the beginning of 2019. Low mortgage rates along with a strong labor market will help housing markets post modest growth over the next year and a half. We expect mortgage rates to follow Treasury yields with the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaging 4.1% in 2019, before increasing modestly to 4.2% in 2020."


To put the low rates in perspective,
the average for 2018 was 4.6%! The chart below shows the recent drop, and also shows where the experts at Freddie Mac believe rates will be by the end of 2019.
Bottom Line

Whether you are thinking of buying or selling, it’s a great time to be in the market. Of course, if you have any other questions, give me a call, send me a text or send me an email. I would be happy to help you.

And if you have questions about your home's worth or need help buying or selling a home, give me a call at 703-328-3434. I'm here to help.
 
 
June 13, 2019

3 Things to Know in the Housing Market Today!



Selling your Greater Washington DC area home?
Buying an Greater Washington DC area home?
Friends and Clients— 

A lot is happening in the world, and it’s having a direct impact on the housing market. The reality is this: some of it is positive and some of it may be negative. Some we just don’t know yet.

The following three areas of the housing market are critical to understand: interest rates, building materials, and the outlook for an economic slowdown.

1. Interest Rates

One of the most important things to consider when buying a home is the interest rate you will be charged to borrow the money. In a recent Freddie Mac post, “Are Low-Interest Rates Here To Stay?”  the latest information makes it appear they are. We are currently at a 21-month low in interest rates.
2. Building Materials

Talk of tariffs could also affect the housing market. According to a recent article, the National Association of Home Builders reports that as much as $10 billion in goods imported from China are used in homebuilding. Depending on the outcome of the tariff and trade discussions between several countries, there could be as much as a 25% boost in the cost of building materials.

3. Economic Slowdown

At the beginning of 2019, many economic leaders thought we could expect a recession in late 2019 or early 2020. As spring approached, the economists started to push that projection past 2020.  Now, three leading surveys indicate that it may begin in the next eighteen months.
Bottom Line

We are in a strong housing market. Wages are increasing, home prices are appreciating, and mortgage rates are the lowest they have been in 21 months.  Whether you are thinking of buying or selling, it’s a great time to be in the market.

Of course, if you have any other questions, give me a call or send me an email. I would be happy to help you.

And if you have questions about your home's worth or need help buying or selling a home, give me a call at 703-328-3434. I'm here to help.
 
 
May 31, 2019

A Closer Look at CMAs



Selling your Greater Washington DC area home?
Buying an Greater Washington DC area home?
Friends and Clients— 

Today I’d like to answer a question I hear all the time: What is a CMA? In the real estate world, a CMA refers to a “Comparative Market Analysis". A CMA estimates a home’s value based on the recent sales of similar real estate in the area. Before putting a home on the market or making an offer on a home, home buyers and sellers should obtain a comparative market analysis from their agent.

I recently came across an article on Realtor.com that explains CMAs in great detail. Here are a few of the most important things I took away from the article:

1. It’s important to ask your agent for a CMA. Because a CMA is used to figure out home pricing, it’s important for both home buyers and sellers to understand CMAs because they can play a huge role in the final sale price of the home.

2. A CMA can go beyond comparables. Instead of just looking at homes that have already sold, you can also look at the current home sales that are under contract. Those values might be able to inform you a little bit more about where you should be priced in order to get the most money possible for the home. You can also look at the expired, cancelled and withdrawn listings. These are homes that were on the market and did not sell for various reasons. All of this data is important in determining the final sales price of the home.

3. You can do your own CMA. There are plenty of online home value estimators,  including our own: https://www.simplyyourbestmove.com/cma/property-valuation/. After putting in your address, it will give you an automatic price, and it’s a great starting point for determining your home’s value.

If you have any other questions about CMAs, interpreting the CMA data  or about real estate in general, I’d be happy to answer them. Just give me a call at 703-328-3434 or send me an email today.
 
 
May 16, 2019

Why You REALLY Shouldn’t Trust Zillow Zestimates



Selling your Greater Washington DC area home?
Buying an Greater Washington DC area home?
Friends and Clients— 

When you go to Zillow, you are able to get something called a Zestimate, which gives you the value of your home. Can you trust those Zestimates? 

Unfortunately, no. Most of the time, Zestimates are not very accurate.

According to Zillow’s website, a Zestimate is a starting point in determining a home’s value. It is not an appraisal. As I like to say, if it was, it would be called a Zappraisal. The Zestimate is based on public and user-submitted data. 

Public data is usually fairly accurate, as it includes information about the square footage of your home. The problem is that Zestimates rely on user-submitted data. 

If you are a homeowner who wants to sell your house and you know that people are going to Zillow to see what your home is worth, wouldn’t it benefit you to go to Zillow and add some home improvements to your property? There are some agents out there who actually help people increase their Zestimates to make it seem like their home is worth more than it is. In short, Zestimates can be tweaked and manipulated.

Zillow goes on to say that they encourage homeowners to supplement the Zestimate by speaking with a real estate agent and getting a comparative market analysis or getting an appraiser to visit the house. After all, Zillow has never been to your house; that Zestimate has no idea how your home stacks up against others in the area.

If you live in a major metropolitan area where there are a lot of homes for Zillow to pull from, then your Zestimate might be more accurate. If you live in a rural area without a lot of data or if you live in an area with a variety of unique homes, then that Zestimate can be a long way off. 

Zillow even admits that more than three-quarters of the homes in San Diego County have Zestimates that are off by 10% or more. That means if you have a $700,000 house and your Zestimate is off by at least 10%, then your Zestimate is either $70,000 too high or too low. 

Ultimately, Zillow is kind of like WebMD; if you are curious about a health condition, then you can look up some data on WebMD. If you are seriously concerned about your health, you will go to the doctor. You won’t trust your health to information from WebMD. Why trust the value of your house to some website? 

In order to know what your home is worth in the current market, you need to contact an agent about the value of your home. In fact, I invite you to look up your Zestimate and send it to me. I will then compare your property to recently sold homes in your area and we’ll see how accurate Zillow actually is. 

If you are interested, let me know. If I get enough Zestimates from you, I’ll cover them in our next video so that you can see exactly how accurate Zillow is about our area. 

Of course, if you have any other questions, give me a call or send me an email. I would be happy to help you.


And if you have questions about your home's worth or need help buying or selling a home, give me a call at 703-328-3434. I'm here to help.

 
 
April 22, 2019

Five Things That Do Not Increase the Value of Your Home



Selling your Greater Washington DC area home?
Buying an Greater Washington DC area home?
Friends and Clients— 

Deciding to renovate before listing your home can be a challenge. It’s tough to know what will or will not return results. Here is a list of things will NOT increase the value of your home. 

1) Extensive Professional Landscaping

You can build an entire amusement park in your back yard and it won't bring you big bucks upon resale. If you want to put in a waterfall, coupled with a flowing river dumping into a Koi pond, for example, do it because you enjoy the water feature, not because you're hoping to recoup the investment. Landscaping choices are a personal preference, and all the hand-crafted bridges and unique pergolas in the world won't dramatically boost your bottom line.

2) New Roof, Gutters, Sprinklers or HVAC

There are certainly buyers in the marketplace who appreciate a home that features a brand new furnace, but they won't pay extra for the home because the furnace has been replaced.
Ditto regarding a new roof. The life expectancy of average composition types of roofs is about 30 years. Again, replacing a roof that is past its life expectancy is considered a maintenance issue. It's like expecting to get paid more because you swept off the front steps.

3) Swimming Pool and / or Personal Spa

The TV commercials for water-related improvements make it seem like non-stop frolicking among kids in the pool (zero focus on drownings) or late-evening soirées in the spa sipping adult beverages, but the cost and expense of installing a pool or spa never finds its way back into your pocket. If you want to put in a pool or spa, do it because you will enjoy it. Realize that at resale time, a buyer might insist that you tear out the spa and, further, some buyers will not buy a home with a swimming pool.

4) Painting Your House

Although painting is the single most cost-effective improvement you can make before selling your home, it won't return any bang for your buck unless you do the painting yourself.
Painting the exterior or interior of the home certainly makes any home more saleable, but an appraiser will not give you a credit boost because the paint is fresh.

5) Solar Panels

Unfortunately, the Kool-Aid the sales people at the solar panel company handed you to drink is spiked. Sure, they tell you that solar panels will improve the value of your home and add to your bottom-line profit, but that's just not true. You get zero improved value for solar panel installation. On top of this, if you have financed the solar panels, you probably can't sell the home without paying the balance at closing, something else that most likely was not disclosed.


And if you have questions about making home upgrades or need help buying or selling a home, give me a call at 703-963-5500. I'm here to help.