Category Archives: News

Drive Before You Buy

Whether you are shopping for a home in a familiar location or a new neighborhood, remember that you are buying more than a home. You are also buying the neighborhood, so it helps to become familiar with your favorites, whether you drive them or walk them.

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Why is that important? It’s the neighborhood that helps establish home values, which depend largely on location and local amenities (close to high-paying jobs, high-scoring schools, high-starring restaurants, transportation, etc.)

Neighborhoods can also change over time, so look for signs of transition. Do you see reinvestment or decline? Homeowners reinvest by repainting, making repairs and refreshing their homes with updates. What kinds of stores and services do you see? Dollar stores or boutiques, payday loan shops or investment firms, fast food or upscale restaurants. Are you the right target demographic?

Visit the area at different times of the day and on weekends. What’s traffic like? How long is your commute?  If you are looking in a neighborhood a little further out than where you currently live, you definitely want to drive your commute at rush hour traffic.

As you drive, check a few home-buying apps. On your Realtor.com app, you can see crime stats and amenities and save your favorites to show your Berkshire Hathaway Home Services network professional.

You’ll be happier if you pick the neighborhood first, then choose the home.

Ready to get started?  Call 703-836-1464 today!

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We are #1 among repeat home sellers!

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices – Ranked #1 by J.D. Power, again!

Did you see the news?  J.D. Powers ranked Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices #1 in overall satisfaction among repeat sellers! The study, now in its 10th year, measures customer satisfaction with the nation’s largest real estate companies.

“The Berkshire Hathaway brand is recognized and respected worldwide,” said Kevin Wiles, president and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices PenFed Realty. “The fact that we’re #1 in satisfaction among repeat sellers is a testament to our dedication to consistently exceeding our clients’ expectations during every stage of the transaction.”

Among repeat sellers, the company also scored the highest when it came to satisfaction with their agent/salesperson, marketing, and the closing process.

 

Market News: Home Prices Rise in First Quarter

Market News: Home Prices Rose in Q1

Home prices rose 1.4 percent in the first quarter of 2017, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s (FHFA) House Price Index (HPI). The HPI year-over-year— based on prices for homes with Fannie Mae- and Freddie Mac-backed mortgages— was up 6.0 percent.

“The steep, multi-year rise in U.S. home prices continued in the first quarter,” said Andrew Leventis, deputy chief economist for the FHFA, in a statement. “Mortgage rates during the quarter remained slightly elevated relative to most of last year, but demand for homes remained very strong. With housing inventories still languishing at extremely low levels, the strong demand led to another exceptionally large quarterly price increase.”

Per the Index, quarterly home price changes ranged from 1.0 percent in the Middle Atlantic Census division to 2.0 percent in the Pacific Census division.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.

Prepare for a Real Estate Rush This Spring

Everywhere you turn you hear real estate agents talking about the “Spring Market”, the “real estate rush”, the “Spring buyer frenzy”.  While a much larger number of people do tend to move between March and June, the hype really is just that… hype.  The 2017 Spring Real Estate Market, however, appears to be the real deal.  RISMedia tends to agree.

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Homebuyers this spring will meet out-of-this-world prices and unsparing competition—a real estate rush.

According to Clear Capital’s recently released Home Data Index (HDI) Market Report, the national median days on market is 43 days, down from an 85-day stretch seen in January 2012. Days on market in Denver, Colo., Lincoln, Neb., and Raleigh, N.C., are coming in under two weeks, while days on market in Fresno, San Francisco and San Jose, Calif., and Portland, Ore., and Seattle, Wash., are finishing in under three weeks.

“Along with an increase in temperatures, the spring season also brings out the buyers and an increase in demand to the housing market, which most often translates to faster price growth and a decrease in marketing times,” says Alex Villacorta, vice president of Research and Analytics at Clear Capital. “But what’s great news for homeowners—particularly those looking to get out of negative equity or sell outright—is unfortunately bad news for prospective buyers. This springtime uptick in demand is likely to put buyers in a major time pinch in areas where marketing time is already lightning fast.”

Home price growth in the first quarter of 2017 was 0.9 percent, according to the report, with quarterly growth across regions between 0.8 percent and 1 percent. Prices grew 1.8 percent quarterly in San Antonio, Texas, making it the fastest growing metropolitan market, while quarterly prices in San Jose, Calif., remained at a standstill, posting no growth.

“This situation, coupled with the already precarious affordability situation for buyers, can lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts for the market as a whole, one where buyers rush to purchase homes at or above asking price in fear of waiting too long and losing out—pushing prices up and pulling marketing times even lower,” Villacorta says. “Buyers will need to remain vigilant this spring and constantly keep their eyes peeled for new supply entering the market, and, most importantly, be wary of rushing to purchase at sky-high prices.”

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.

Household Cleaning Tips That Save Time and Money

Household Cleaning Tips That Save Time and Money

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Spring – a time for new beginnings – is just around the corner. It’s time to air out the winter blahs and let the sun shine in. But there’s no need to knock ourselves out or over-spend on cleaning supplies. The home editors at Good Housekeeping magazine offer tips on cleaning every corner of your home without exhausting yourself or your wallet:

One simple solution: No need to spend money on specialized cleaning products. Fill an empty spray bottle with a quart of warm water mixed with four tablespoons of baking soda, and use it for most surfaces, including windows, counters, tile, and appliances.

Toothpaste trick – If your kids are a little too creative, a dab of toothpaste will remove colored marker stains from wooden tables.

Wipe out wall doodles – A good sprinkling of baking soda on a damp sponge should wipe your walls clean of ‘artwork.’

Funky cutting board? – Rub the cut side of a lemon over it to remove old stains and odors.

Wake up patio furniture – add a squirt of dish soap to a bowl of warm water. Wipe down surfaces and hose them off with plain water.

Soften scratchy towels – Get rid of mineral build-up by washing scratchy towels in the hottest water possible with nothing but a cup of ammonia added.

Easy copper cleanup – A little ketchup – yes, ketchup! – will get those copper-bottomed pots and pans shining.

Dishwasher duty – Once every few weeks, especially while flu season hangs around, get rid of bacteria by adding a quarter cup of bleach to the regular dish cycle.

Disinfect the disposal – Run a few lemon peels, a little salt, and a few ice cubes through it to sanitize and banish odors.

Don’t forget the sponge – Keep that wet sponge clean and bacteria-free by zapping it in the microwave for one minute.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.

Millennials Buying Big in the ‘Burbs

Millennials Buying Big in the ‘Burbs

While most people associate the ‘hip younger crowd’ as living in cramped apartments and condos in the heart of the city, a recent study suggests that today’s millennial generation is going for amenity rich neighborhoods in the suburbs!

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Millennials are calling. They want the suburbs back.

Like generations before them, millennial homebuyers are beginning to shy away from city life, taking up residence in the suburbs—with one key difference.

According to a report by Zillow, millennial homebuyers are passing over starter homes, paying up for square footage typical of older generations: roughly 1,800 square feet.

Their preferences, however, reflect those of their older counterparts—specifically, an appetite for community amenities and townhouses.

“Millennials have delayed home-buying more than earlier generations, but don’t underestimate their impact on the housing market now that they’re buying,” says Jeremy Wacksman, CMO at Zillow. “As members of this huge generation start moving into the next stage of life, expect the homeownership rate to tick up and suburbs to change to suit their urban tastes. We’re constantly learning about this young group of homebuyers—we’re finding that they are more similar to older generations than many thought. Their views on community and homeownership are pretty traditional, and they don’t all fit the urban stereotype you might have in your head.”

Millennial homebuyers are also putting down roots like older generations—64 percent of those who moved in 2016, in fact, stayed within the same city, and only 7 percent relocated to another state, according to the report.

Half of millennial homeowners are in the suburbs, while 33 percent are in urban areas and 20 percent are in rural areas. Forty-two percent of homebuyers in 2016 were millennials.

Source: zillow.com.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.

Consumer Confidence Bounces Back to 15-Year High

Consumer Confidence Bounces Back to 15-Year High

Now that is what I call good news!  Read on for more…

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Consumer confidence bounced back in February after waning in January, posting a 114.8 reading in The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index®. The Expectations reading of the Index rose to 102.4, while the Present Situation reading rose to 133.4. January’s reading was 111.6.

“Consumer confidence increased in February and remains at a 15-year high,” said Lynn Franco, director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board, in a statement. “Consumers rated current business and labor market conditions more favorably this month than in January. Expectations improved regarding the short-term outlook for business, and to a lesser degree, jobs and income prospects. Overall, consumers expect the economy to continue expanding in the months ahead.”

The percentage of consumers who believe business conditions are “good,” as defined by the Index, decreased from 29.0 percent in January to 28.7 percent in February; the percentage of those who believe business conditions are “bad” decreased from 15.9 percent in January to 13.2 percent in February. The percentage of those who expect business conditions to improve increased from 22.9 percent in January to 24.0 percent in February; the percentage of those who expect business conditions to worsen increased from 10.8 percent in January to 11.1 percent in February.

The percentage of consumers who believe jobs are “plentiful” decreased from 27.1 percent in January to 26.2 in February, according to the Index; the percentage of those who believe jobs are “hard to get” decreased from 21.1 percent in January to 20.3 percent in February. The percentage of those who expect more jobs in the coming months increased from 19.7 percent in January to 20.4 percent in February; the percentage of those who expect less jobs in the coming months decreased from 14.4 percent in January to 13.6 percent in February.

The percentage of consumers who expect higher income, as well, increased from 18.1 percent in January to 18.3 percent in February; the percentage of those who expect less decreased from 9.4 percent in January to 8.2 percent in February.

Source: The Conference Board

Source: Freddie Mac

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.