Category Archives: Real Estate

10 Tips for Homebuyers and Sellers

Spring is here, and so is spring home-buying and -selling. Buyers and sellers preparing to take action this season should put those plans into play now—according to Zillow Group’s Report on Consumer Housing Trends, the No. 1 regret for both buyers and sellers is “not starting their home search or prepping their home to sell soon enough.”

“This spring, both buyers and sellers should be prepared for fast-moving sales, intense negotiations, and even bidding wars,” says Jeremy Wacksman, CMO at Zillow Group. “Home shoppers and sellers are motivated to become more strategic and knowledgeable about what’s happening in their neighborhood. Understanding whether you are in a buyer’s or a seller’s environment will help you manage your expectations and will give you insight into what you’re going to need to bring to the table in order to close the deal.”

For buyers, that means:

Keep your options open. More than half (52 percent) of homebuyers surveyed in the report said they also considered renting, and more than one-third (37 percent) of first-time buyers seriously considered continuing to rent. Savvy shoppers should have a Plan B in place, hoping to buy if it works out, but willing to sign a lease for a home if they don’t make a deal by the time they need to move.

Be realistic with your budget. Once you set it, stick to it. First-time home buyers are more likely to exceed their budget than repeat buyers (39 percent versus 26 percent), according to the report. Before you meet with a lender to determine how much mortgage you’ll be approved for, take a good look at your individual finances and spending preferences to determine the monthly payment range that you feel you can comfortably afford.

Get your financing squared away early. Plan to meet a few lenders four to six months ahead of when you’re planning to buy to ensure you can make a competitive offer quickly when you find your dream home. The majority (82 percent) of buyers get pre-approved, with 77 percent getting pre-approval from a lender before finding a home on which they are interested in placing an offer.

Find an agent with a winning track record. Take the time to find an agent who has expertise in fast negotiation, leveraging escalation clauses, and winning bidding wars. Only 46 percent of buyers got the first home on which they made an offer, according to the report, demonstrating that competition is now part of the process. Choose an agent based on sales and listing activity, area of expertise and reputation.

Communication is key. Make sure your preferred method—and frequency—of communication matches that of your agent. One-third (33 percent) of all buyers surveyed in the report preferred phone calls with their agent over emailing (21 percent) or texting (15 percent). Buyers can use the agent reviews on Zillow to learn more about prospective agents and their clients’ experiences.

And for sellers:

Start early and be strategic. Sellers consider putting their home on the market for five months before they list it—but the top seller regret is that they wished they spent more time prepping for the sale. Many cities have a magic window in the spring when homes have a higher likelihood of selling quickly for more money.

Work with an agent from the start. The vast majority (90 percent) of sellers surveyed in the report who sold quickly and for more than list price worked with an agent, and two out of three (58 percent) began working with an agent at the very beginning of their selling journey.

Pay attention to your online curb appeal. The majority of buyers begin their search online. Sellers who sold their home for more than list price made imagery and home information available online: 48 percent had professional photos taken of the home; 30 percent shot video footage; and 21 percent shot drone footage. Zillow’s video walk-throughs give sellers an easy way to show home features that are hard to capture in photos.

Home improvements can be a worthwhile investment. Sellers who fetched above list price tackled home improvements before listing their home, being 50 percent more likely to take on a large project like modifying an existing home plan and 20 percent more likely to renovate a kitchen than the average seller.

Don’t be afraid to try again. In many markets, nearly half of listing views occur in the first week the home is on the market. Twenty-six percent of those who sold above list price took their home off the market once to adjust the sales price, opting to start anew, rather than letting the home languish on the market with minimal activity.

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

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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.

Washington, DC Protected Classes

How well do you know your protected classes in the District of Columbia?

For real estate agents that have DC licenses but do not practice in the jurisdiction on a daily basis, it may seem daunting to keep up with and, in some cases you may be surprised at the traits on the list.

Under the D.C. Human Rights Act, discrimination in housing on the basis of the following traits is illegal:

  • Race
  • Colorgroup
  • Religion
  • National origin
  • Sex
  • Age
  • Marital status
  • Personal appearance
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender identity or expression
  • Familial status
  • Family responsibilities
  • Matriculation
  • Political affiliation
  • Disability
  • Source of income
  • Status as a victim of an intrafamily offense
  • Place of residence or business

While I always say, “if you have to ask, don’t do it”, I can tell you the best practice is to be kind and inclusive to everyone. You should have learned that in kindergarten. 😉

Study: Smart Home Tech Adoption Motivated by Comfort, Safety

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Comfort and safety are the primary reasons more homeowners are adopting smart home technology, according to a recent study by Scripps Networks Interactive in conjunction with the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA). “Keeping up” with the latest technology, the study shows, is less of a factor, with three-quarters of those surveyed saying they implement smart home technology “to keep their family safe and comfortable.” Energy-efficiency, as well, is another motivator, with the intention to boost resale value and reduce energy costs.

Millennials are the most likely to adopt smart home technology, according to the study, “to make their home convenient for daily tasks;” those in Generation X, conversely, prefer smart home technology as a means “to make their home a healthy environment.” Baby boomers, in addition, favor smart home technology “to add value to their home.” Eighty-five percent of millennials are likely to add smart home technology to their home, compared to 73 percent of those in Generation X and 67 percent of baby boomers.

The kitchen is the top spot for smart home technology, with those studied purchasing app-enabled, connected appliances, such as a smart refrigerator, motion-activated lighting and voice-activated speakers. Generation X respondents reported the kitchen as the top spot for smart home technology more than any other generation.

Fifteen percent of study respondents cite the front door as the most desired place for adding technology, while 13 percent cite the living room. Forty-four percent cite “energy monitoring” and “light automation” as their most desired tools; computer-controlled or mobile device-operated systems, a doorbell camera and surveillance equipment are also popular.

Smart home technology, according to a recent report by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), is becoming more concerning to homebuyers and sellers, who are most interested in privacy and security measures.

Source: Scripps Networks Interactive
Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.

Dodge Winter Lawn Damage

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Winter conditions can present a wide range of challenges to your lawn and landscape, but there are precautions you can take to protect your lawn, as well as your trees and shrubs, from seasonal harm.

Preventive steps from the lawncare experts at TruGreen can help your lawn survive the winter season’s harsh elements.

Snow Plow Damage

Install brightly-colored boundary markers along the edges of paved areas to help protect lawn and shrubs from snow plow and snow thrower blades. Lightweight wooden stakes, at least four feet tall with bright reflective tape and brightly covered fiberglass rods, serve as good markers. Avoid heavy metal, fence posts and other large objects, as they can pose a hazard to snow plow operators.

Cold Temperature Stress

More so than any other season, trees and shrubs are vulnerable to changing weather conditions during the winter. Wide temperature fluctuation and extremely low temperatures are the biggest factors of tree stress, meaning your trees are more susceptible to things like frost cracks, sunscald and winter burn.

Keep twigs and limbs from breaking under the weight of ice by carefully brushing away, whenever possible, any snow load from plants, which will reduce the weight on the limbs and decrease the damage. Placing a burlap cover around shrubs such as boxwood and yews will help reduce winter desiccation.

Proper fertilization can help keep your trees and shrubs healthy well into spring, and allow them to better tolerate winter. A service can help with tree and shrub services customized to meet your landscape’s every need, including applications to control overwintering insects, pests and mites.

Freezing Temperatures

Damage to plants, shrubs and trees as a result of sustained low temperatures can typically go undetected until spring or early summer, when plants fail to produce new growth. To help prevent damage, maintain a two- to three-inch layer of mulch to help protect the crown and roots from weather extremes.

Winter Dehydration

During the colder months of winter, plants cannot replace moisture lost from leaves and needles. This leads to “dehydration” – technically known as desiccation. To help avoid this problem, maintain proper watering late into the fall, or water during periods of winter thaw.

Ice Melt

Ice-melting agents, such as rock salt and products containing calcium and magnesium chloride, may accumulate in the soil and cause damage to plants. Use extreme care when applying ice-melting agents to prevent damage to your plants or concrete surfaces.

Source: TruGreen.com
Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.

Top 5 Reasons the Mortgage Process Gets Bogged Down

Questions? Call Maxine for answers! 703-836-1464

Questions? Call Maxine for answers! 703-836-1464

Things are moving along at a nice pace and then BAM! out of no where come mortgage issues… how could this happen?!  Believe it or not, there are a few very common things that frequently are the sources of those bumpy roads. Read on for some tips from Jason Banks, with Presidential Mortgage.

1)         Internet banking – With the invent of internet banking, we find clients are very active with money transfer.  Each transfer has to be paper trailed and followed.  We once had a client with 23 different accounts that they would push money to every month.
2)         One day sale! – I get called a few times a month by the client that is at LOWES, HOME DEPOT, SEARS, etc. stating they have a fantastic sale on Washer Dryer.  Keep in mind, the mortgage process is like a recipe…change one ingredient and you may not end up with a house.
3)         Availability of Funds – any time a borrower is withdrawing funds from a 401k, IRA, TSP, or some other “non-cash” account, we recommend that the client withdraw the funds at least 2 weeks prior to settlement.  We have had clients try to wait to the last minute only to find out it is a 10 day process…
4)         Lack of Urgency – The mortgage process is many times a very tight time line.  I find that for some clients, they are not aware that every day counts.  I have sent loan papers out on a Monday to be told they can get them back to me within a week OR SO….  The quicker we get the loan package the quicker we can get everything ready to submit.  On every file we hope to have the loan ready to submit the minute we get the appraisal in hand.
5)         Appraisals – The timing of appraisals continues to be an issue.  We are now requesting the reports be turned into us with 15 days.  This is up from 10.  So please write your contracts accordingly as we cannot push appraisers for expedited service based on HVCC guidelines.

Everyone wants a smooth deal… taking these observations to heart will be a huge help in keeping the mortgage process moving smoothly along.

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices PenFed Realty Outperforms AGAIN!

From the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices PenFed Realty Blog…

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices PenFed Realty Demonstrates Sustainable Growth Trajectory

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Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices PenFed Realty Mid-Atlantic continues to outperform the industry in sales volume according to MRIS data. As illustrated above, we had record-breaking double digit growth for the month of October 2016 versus October 2015. And year to date growth (January ’16 through October ‘16) of 42.3% versus MRIS industry average of 9.48%.

“We are constantly at work creating opportunities to provide value to our agents and their clients,” said Kevin Wiles, president and CEO of Mid-Atlantic.

“Managing sustainable growth requires ambition, commitment and dedication,” Kevin said. “Our branch leaders, agents and support staff are the best in the industry – results bear this out.”

This is just more evidence that we really are #GoodToKnow!