New Listing at The Manors of Stonegate in Alexandria – Open Saturday, March 30th

The 2 bedroom, 2 bath unit at The Manors of Stonegate in Alexandria was just listed and will be open tomorrow (Saturday, March 30th) from 1-3PM! Offered at $363,900

Manors of Stonegate

Enjoy an open floorplan, volume ceilings, bright living room with marble surround gas fireplace, updated kitchen with stainless appliances & granite countertops, separate dining area, & relaxing balcony. Master suite includes a walk-in closet plus separate tub & shower in bathroom. Freshly painted throughout. Townhouse setting with morning & evening sun. Super convenient location!

Directions: 395 to King Street West; Left on N Hampton Drive; Right on Lambert; Left on Henshaw Pl; Right on Lawton; Left on Henshaw; Right on Longstreet to 4667 Longstreet Lane #205.

Call (703) 242-3975 for more info!

Northern VA Real Estate Prices Are Rising

Prices on homes in Northern Virginia are rising, but what else is happening in the real estate market? Find out in this 2 minute video!

Search Homes For Sale In Northern VA

How Much Is My Northern VA Home Worth?

Yes, Northern Virginia, It’s Still A Seller’s Market

Are you wondering how the real estate market is in Northern Virginia, and whether it’s a Buyer’s Market or Seller’s Market? Well, wonder no more. Inventory is low, low, low. And Buyers all over Northern VA are competing for the same homes.

The areas we get most asked about are Vienna & Oakton, so real estate stats for those areas are below. (Call 703-242-3975 or email us if you need real estate stats for Reston, Fairfax, Herndon, McLean, Falls Church, Arlington or any other area of Northern Virginia).

If you’re in the market to buy or sell NOW, you may want to read these articles:

Last week in Vienna Real Estate (22180,22181, 22182):

Search Homes For Sale in Vienna

  • Number of Contracts: 13 (down from 18 the week before)
  • Average Days on Market for Active Listings: 100 days (down from 103 the week before)
  • Average Days on Market for Listings That Went Under Contract: 52 days (up from 36 the week before)
  • Inventory: 124 homes on the market (up from 115 the week before)
  • Number of Months Supply of Homes (Based on past 90 day contract rate): 2.0 months (up from 1.9 the week before)
  • Number of Months Supply of Homes (Based on past 30 day contract rate): 1.5 (up from 1.35 the week before) months

What Is My Vienna Home Worth?

Last week in Oakton Real Estate (22124):

Search Homes For Sale in Oakton

  • Number of Contracts: 13 (twice as many as the week before)
  • Average Days on Market for Active Listings: 88 days (down from 94 the week before)
  • Average Days on Market for Listings That Went Under Contract: 35 days (down from 125 the week before)
  • Inventory: 57 homes on the market (just 1 more than the week before)
  • Number of Months Supply of Homes (Based on past 90 day contract rate): 1.8 months (down from 2.1 the week before)
  • Number of Months Supply of Homes (Based on past 30 day contract rate): 1.2  months (down from 1.4 the week before)

What Is My Oakton Home Worth?

No matter why you’re moving, we can help you make the BEST move. If you’re thinking of buying or selling a home, Contact The Belt Team at (703) 242-3975. We think you deserve the BEST Realtors in Northern Virginia!

Our mission is “Changing Lives For The Better – One Family At A Time!”

“Yes, Mrs. Grossman, I Remember Your Mom”

(OK – Stay with me – this post DOES have to do with real estate!)

So, yesterday, I went to see a doctor for a second opinion and the meeting started out like this:

Me: “Hi Dr. Hartley. It’s nice to meet you.You may remember my Mom. You operated on her shoulder a number of years ago.

Dr. Hartley laughs and says ” Oh I remember your Mom. And I know all about you too. She wrote me a note.”  And he pulls out a note my mother wrote that was marked “Read this before you talk to patient Christy Belt Grossman”.

Letter to Doctor

As I reflected on my visit after the fact, I realized that what I experienced at the doctor had several parallels to what our clients experience in the real estate market.

________________________________________________________________________

1. When the doctor pulled out the note, I was flabbergasted. I am 51 years old. Does my mother really think that I am not capable of handling my own medical care? I was embarrassed to say the least. But as I think back, I now realize that my Mom has been through many shoulder issues, has gone through lots of physical therapy and several surgeries. So she actually does have a lot of experience and a lot to offer in terms of the best way to go about getting the help I need and achieving a healthy shoulder.

Our clients often experience this same thing. Once they say they are going to buy or sell a house, everyone they know comes out of the woodwork to give them advice. They hear tons of stories about what to do and what not to do, who to call, who to stay away from, and how to do things themselves. Young couples particularly get TONS of advice, usually from loving, well-meaning parents, especially if they are helping with the down payment.

The trouble comes when the people giving advice don’t sell real estate professionally. They may have bought or sold many homes over the years, but things change from state-to-state and year-to-year. Laws change. Strategies change. Markets change. And so just as in my case at the doctor, my Mom could direct me to an expert, but she was not the expert herself on shoulder rehab.

________________________________________________________________________

2. The whole reason I went in for a second opinion was that the doctor I had already seen did not inspire confidence. I did not do my research before I went to him. And while he may be a fine doctor, I just wasn’t sure. Regaining movement in my shoulder and getting rid of the pain is a pretty big deal to me. When my first doctor recommended a cortisone shot, I just wanted to know I was doing the right thing. So I went to see Dr. Hartley.

Dr. Hartley is the President of Commonwealth Orthopaedic (a large practice with about 10 offices). He handles tons & tons of patients with shoulder problems. And he’s been doing it for years. Not only that, I talked to multiple people who have gone to Dr. Hartley and were pleased with the results. My existing doctor is the only doctor at the location I go to. He is much younger and though not inexperienced, he is less experienced.

So what did Dr. Hartley say? He totally agreed with my doctor’s diagnosis and treatment plan. 100%. I breathed a huge sigh of relief, got the cortisone shot & headed back to physical therapy. But I believe the outcome will be much better because of my peace of mind.

I think home buyers & sellers often experience the same thing. There are many Realtors who are probably just fine to work with, even good perhaps. But those who consult with and work with Realtors who are at the top of their field (“great” Realtors) buy & sell their homes with much more confidence and much less trepidation. And because of that, they are able to make the right decisions and make them more quickly. In today’s swift market, that means a much better financial outcome, as well as more peace of mind.

________________________________________________________________________

3. Lastly, I looked back at my day and thought, “You know, even though I’m 51 and my Mom is 74, it still feels really good to have someone looking out for me.” Our clients feel the same way. We look out for them and put their interests first. No matter what. That’s just the way we do business. Sometimes we tell people it would be better to rent their home than to sell. Sometimes we tell them not to sell for a few years. Sometimes we say we think they should buy a less expensive house. Sometimes we advise folks to buy the house that’s best for them, even if we don’t get paid. (You may have seen the national news story about this very issue happening in Des Moines, Iowa recently.)

So – when it’s time for YOU to buy or sell a home, remember my Mom and:

1. Consult an expert Realtor instead of listening to advice from well meaning, but possibly misguided friends & family.

2. Do your research and consult the TOP Realtor in your area so you can proceed with confidence to the outcome you desire.

3. Have the best Realtor you can find look after YOUR best interests.

Call The Belt Team at (703) 242-3975. You deserve the BEST Realtors in Northern VA!

P.S. “THANKS MOM!”

Just Listed at The Manors at Stonegate in Alexandria & Open Sunday!

We just listed a fabulous 2 bedroom, 2 bath condo at the sought after Manors at Stonegate! Highlighted by its desirable location, features also include a balcony & attached garage with large storage space. Plus gleaming hardwoods throughout, volume ceilings, open and bright living room with marble surround fireplace, updated kitchen appliances & separate dining area. Master suite includes walk-in closet, separate tub and shower in bathroom.

OPEN SUNDAY, MARCH 24TH 2-4PM LISTED AT $374,900

The Manors at Stonegate Alexandria VA

Directions: I-395 Exit Rt. 7 West, Left North Hampton, Cross Braddock Road, Right Lambert, Left Henshaw, Right on Longstreet Lane to 4691 at the end.

Search more homes in Alexandria

New Home on Cottage Street in Vienna Now Includes Finished Basement!

If you’re looking for a new home in close-in Vienna with a finished basement – we’ve got the perfect home for you. Come visit our open house on Sunday & check it out!

Enjoy a new design and excellent quality construction from one of Vienna’s oldest and finest builders, in the heart of “Downtown Vienna”. This delightful elevation includes Hardiplank, stone, and a charming porch feature. First floor guest bedroom/den with full bath. Six bedrooms & five full baths total. 9′ ceilings on all 3 levels. Designer kitchen opens to a fabulous expansive great room with gas fireplace & wall of windows. Coffered ceiling master bedroom with extra large walk-in closet & luxurious master bath. Basement will be finished to include 6th bedroom, 5th full bath & rec room. Madison HS Pyramid.

$1,200,000 – 204 Cottage Street SW in Vienna – OPEN SUNDAY 2PM – 4PM

New Home For Sale Vienna VA Cottage St

Directions: From Vienna Metro:  I-66 to Nutley Street; Right on Tapawingo; Left on Cottage. Or from Tysons: Maple Avenue to Left on Center Street S, Right on Locust Street, Left on Cottage St to #204.

Search Homes For Sale in Vienna

Read about Life In Vienna

The Highest Offer Is The Best Offer, Right?

Highest Offer

Sellers often say to us, “Of course I’d take the highest offer on my house, that’s the best one, right?”

Well, the answer is “Maybe. And maybe not.”

In today’s market, it’s not unusual for Sellers to sell above list price. In the lower price ranges, buyers are frenzily (is that a word?!) competing for homes. It reminds me of the way you see people in the grocery store the day before a snow storm, tripping over one another in the aisles, making sure they have enough milk & toilet paper. People start acting a little bit crazy when the shelves start getting empty.

Guess what, the real estate shelves are pretty bare right now. (In Vienna & Oakton for example, housing inventory is at 1.4 months). That means we’re seeing some crazy things.

One example is that Buyers are so desperate to win out in competitive situations that they are sometimes signing escalation clauses that are well above what they are comfortable paying. (An example of an escalation clause would be something that says the Buyer will pay $X above the next highest contract up to a maximum price of $Y.) A Seller might respond, “Well, who cares what they are comfortable with? I just want the highest price I can get.” But here’s what we have seen happen recently.

Contracts come in. The price is bid up. The Seller chooses the contract with the highest price. BUT, it is subject to the home appraising for the sales price. The buyer has talked to their lender ahead of time (and the lender to their appraiser) and everyone (except the Seller with the inexperienced listing agent) pretty much knows the home will not appraise for full price. So the Buyer writes the contract with a big escalation clause, pretty much betting that they will never have to really pay that high of a price. The contract is ratified and the Seller takes the home off the market. They wait 21 days for the appraisal. And Boom. Guess what happens?The appraisal comes in low.

Stressed Over Money

At this point, the Seller may already be packed & ready to move. Could they put the home back on the market? Yes. Do they want to go through the hassle? No. Do they possibly need the proceeds from their current home to go to settlement soon on their next home? Yes. And so – they often re-negotiate with the existing buyers rather than put the home back on the market. And sometimes they even end up selling for less than what the 2nd best original contract price was.

There are a number of things that could have been done to avoid this problem if they had been handled up front. But if they’re not, it puts the Seller in a less than desirable position.

Another thing we are observing in today’s crazy market is that Buyers are being forced to move quickly, usually more quickly than they are comfortable with. As a result, a large percentage of contracts are falling apart and buyers are voiding contracts because of “Buyer’s Remorse”. Again, there are strategies that a top-notch agent can assist you with that can mitigate this problem & protect you in case it does happen. But many agents have not worked in markets like this and don’t know all of the options.

When the market is “good”, people often think it’s easy to sell and so their choice of agent  is not a big deal and/or they decide to sell themselves. But the reality is that your choice of Realtor & their level of experience and creativity will directly influence not only your bottom line return, but whether you actually get to closing on time or at all. A small investment into paying a commission to the BEST real estate agents you can hire can bring a big payoff.

Win Win Hire The Best Realtor In Northern VA

NOW – Here’s what’s happening in the Vienna & Oakton housing market. 

(Call us at 703-242-3975 if you need real estate stats for Reston, Fairfax, Herndon or any other area of Northern Virginia).

Last week in Vienna Real Estate (22180,22181, 22182):

Search Homes For Sale in Vienna

  • Number of Contracts: 18
  • Average Days on Market for Active Listings: 103 days
  • Average Days on Market for Listings That Went Under Contract: 36 days
  • Inventory: 115 homes on the market
  • Number of Months Supply of Homes (Based on past 90 day contract rate): 1.9 months
  • Number of Months Supply of Homes (Based on past 30 day contract rate): 1.35 months

What Is My Vienna Home Worth?

Last week in Oakton Real Estate (22124):

Search Homes For Sale in Oakton

  • Number of Contracts: 6
  • Average Days on Market for Active Listings: 94 days
  • Average Days on Market for Listings That Went Under Contract: 125 days
  • Inventory: 56 homes on the market
  • Number of Months Supply of Homes (Based on past 90 day contract rate): 2.1 months
  • Number of Months Supply of Homes (Based on past 30 day contract rate): 1.4 months

What Is My Oakton Home Worth?

New Listings & Open Houses – Vienna, Oakton, Leesburg & Falls Church

$575,000 – 10393 Adel Road in Oakton – JUST LISTED & OPEN SUNDAY 1-3PM

Oakton Real Estate

This charming brick rambler sits on private .46 acre lot in the center of Oakton. Enjoy the natural setting on the large back deck that looks out on the beautifully landscaped back yard. Features include 4 bedrooms, 2 baths, wood floors, an updated kitchen with stainless steel appliances, Silestone counters & a sunny breakfast nook, delightful sunroom & a large lower level rec room with masonry fireplace.

Directions: From Vienna: South on Rt 123 to Hunter Mill. Right on Hunter Mill. Left on Hunter Ridge. Left on Adel to #10393. From Toll Rd: S on Hunter Mill to right on Hunter Ridge. From Rt 66 N on 123 to left on Hunter Mill Rd, etc..

Search more homes for sale in Oakton

******************************************************************************************

$1,200,000 – 204 Cottage Street SW in Vienna – OPEN SUNDAY 2PM – 4PM

New Home For Sale Vienna VA Cottage St

Enjoy a new design and excellent quality construction from one of Vienna’s oldest and finest builders, in the heart of “Downtown Vienna”. This delightful elevation includes Hardiplank, stone, and a charming porch feature. First floor guest bedroom/den with full bath. Six bedrooms & five full baths total. 9′ ceilings on all 3 levels. Designer kitchen opens to a fabulous expansive great room with gas fireplace & wall of windows. Coffered ceiling master bedroom with extra large walk-in closet & luxurious master bath. Basement will be finished to include 6th bedroom, 5th full bath & rec room. Madison HS Pyramid.

Directions: From Vienna Metro:  I-66 to Nutley Street; Right on Tapawingo; Left on Cottage. Or from Tysons: Maple Avenue to Left on Center Street S, Right on Locust Street, Left on Cottage St to #204.

Search Homes For Sale in Vienna

Read about Life In Vienna

******************************************************************************************

$585,000 – 801 Parker Avenue in Falls Church – JUST LISTED!

City of Falls Church Real Estate

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION! So close to it all….downtown Falls Church City, Farmers Market, Metro & Parks. Walk to TJ Elementary. Beautiful lot. Light & bright &  recently painted. Features include 2 masonry fireplaces, a cozy second living room/family room, updated insulated windows, a private rear patio, an oversized separate garage (can be a 2 car garage) and extra storage. You can beat the Falls Church city lifestyle!

Call (703) 242-3975 for more info!

Search more homes for sale in Falls Church

******************************************************************************************

$1,199,000 – 18511 Barton CReek Place in River Creek (Leesburg) – JUST LISTED!

Leesburg Real Estate River Creek

Beautiful Grand Botticelli model in sought after River Creek! Located on a rare private, wooded lot. Features include 6 bedrooms, 4.5 baths, refinished hardwood floors floors, curved oak staircase, custom molding & built-ins, gourmet kitchen with upgraded appliances, luxurious master suite, lower level rec room, custom window blinds/coverings throughout. Plus a 3 car garage, custom deck, porch and a patio with built-in grill & cooler!

Call (703) 242-3975 for more info!

Search more homes in Leesburg

6 Secrets To Surviving A Home Renovation

I recently wrote a post called “Love It Or List It” and gave you a peek at the home renovation we did last year. I am thrilled with how it came out. But it wasn’t always a walk in the park. So today I’m going to share my “6 Secrets To Surviving A Home Renovation”.

First –  let me give you an idea of the work we had done. We had our house built in 1986. We had been married 2 years at the time and we were SO excited to move from our condo to our new single family home. We spent hours talking about all the details. (Well “we” didn’t, but “I” did. LOL!) The carpet color, the tile selections, the window treatments & the wallpaper. Yes, the wallpaper.

25 years later, after raising two children, it was time to make a few changes. We finally decided we just couldn’t stand the grey carpet and rose wallpaper for even one more day. So – here’s what we did:

  • Installed hardwood floors throughout the entire main level (except laundry room)
  • Installed hardwood on stairs to upper level and in the upstairs hall
  • Upgraded from vinyl flooring to tile flooring in the laundry room
  • Slightly re-designed the kitchen layout to add a breakfast bar and 2nd oven
  • Upgraded from laminate counters to granite countertops
  • New kitchen cabinets
  • New kitchen sink & faucet
  • New stainless steel appliances
  • New recessed & pendant lighting in kitchen
  • New lighting in foyer, hall, family room & powder room
  • New cabinet, sink, faucet & granite countertop in powder room
  • Fresh paint throughout the entire main & upper levels
  • New carpet throughout the upstairs & stair runner on stairs

Vienna Great Room Before and After Renovation by Dominion Associates Inc

Vienna Kitchen Before and After Renovation by Dominion Associates Inc

Vienna Dining Room Before and After Renovation by Dominion Associates Inc

SO – here are my 6 Secrets To Surviving A Home Renovation

1. Hire a contractor who does what he says he’s going to do.

They all talk a good game. But they all don’t do what they say they’re going to do. Last year, I had a client call to ask for a contractor recommendation. Unfortunately, she called AFTER she was 8 months into what should have been an 8 week renovation. She was tens of thousands over budget and not happy. This could have been prevented if she had done her home work. Don’t just interview the contractor. Interview past clients. And not just the ones he gives you to talk to. Ask them who else they know who has had work done by this contractor. And then ask those people too. And don’t just talk to them. GO VISIT THEM! You might be surprised at what people will tell you. Even the ones the contractor “thinks” are giving him glowing reviews.

In our case, we hired a builder (Dominion Associates inc) that we have represented for more than 20 years. He builds million dollar homes that we list and sell. And so I already knew that he does what he says he’s going to do.

2. Ask for a “worst case timeframe”.

The temptation is to just ask “how long will it take?”. But what I found is that there will come a time where you just want it to be done and each day after that can be excruciating. So instead, ask “How long would you guesstimate and what’s the worst case scenario?” Then, prepare yourself as if the worst case is the best case. In my situation, the builder said 6 weeks was worst case. I prepared for that. And it was done faster. That meant happy builder (because I wasn’t “pushing” him) and happy client (because he exceeded my expectations).

3. Keep your sense of humor

Things are bound to go wrong. It’s just part of the process. But if you keep your sense of humor and can laugh about it, it makes the process a whole lot easier. What went wrong during our renovation? Not much. It took 3 tries to get a refrigerator delivered without damage. Oh – and one day our dog got painted.

Renovation Problems - The Dog Got Painted

4. Move out

I work out of a home office most of the time. And we have a finished basement. So I was insistent that we could stay in the house during the renovation. We also have a dog. So it wasn’t easy to find a place to move to for 6 weeks. But if I had to do it all over again, I would at least have moved out for a few weeks. (Perhaps then Cody would not have gotten painted!) The worst times to be there were during the sanding of the hardwood floors and the painting. I have asthma and it was triggered badly by both of these events.

5. Go with your gut

When you’re doing a renovation project like this, it’s easy to get caught up in both the big & little choices you have to make. After all, this is probably something you’ve been dreaming about for quite some time and you want to make sure it comes out exactly right. I spent hours and hours and hours looking online, stopping in to look at granite samples & more. What color granite? What about the backsplash? Would that faucet work? What about the hardware on the cabinets? Horizontal or Vertical? Black or Silver? And the list goes on.

But what I found is that even though I spent hours (and days) agonizing over each decision (and I am normally a quick decision maker), the final selections were almost always what I had started out with. It’s kind of like when you buy your wedding dress. Oftentimes, you buy the very first one you try on. But you keep trying more dresses “just in case”, only to end up with your original selection. If I had trusted my gut, I would have saved a LOT of time! (And I should have known better, because I was one of those brides who bought the first dress she tried on!)

6. Pare down, purge, and prepare for dust.

No matter how good your contractors are at cleaning up after themselves and no matter how well they prepare the site to contain the dust (and our contractors were meticulous!), it will invade every surface and every crevice. Every singe item you pack away will need to be washed or cleaned when you unpack it post-renovation.

We carefully packed all our belongings and moved them to either the basement or the garage. Everything was covered, sealed & protected as well as it could be. After 25 years, we had a lot of “stuff”. So we purged as we went. But looking back, we could have pared down even more. There comes a point when you are packing where you find yourself just packing everything, because it seems like you will never finish the task. When you hit this point, I encourage you to KEEP PURGING! If you don’t, you’ll find yourself unpacking after the renovation and taking things out of boxes that don’t have a home any more. Because once your renovation is done, and your home looks spotless & beautiful, you are even more incented to keep it looking that way. So instead of taking the time to wrap things, box them up, carry them to storage, carry them back from storage and unpack them; only to wonder why you kept them in the first place, do it right the first time and PURGE, PURGE, PURGE! And remind yourself that every single item will have to be washed, cleaned or dusted. That includes clothing (even though our closets were sealed), furniture (even though it was in the garage) and every boxed up item like plates, glassware, photos, cd’s, books, etc (even though they were in the basement).

There are a lot more things to consider when renovating, especially if you’re debating renovating versus selling, so please give The Belt Team a call at (703) 242-3975 (or email us). We’re happy to share our expertise about resale value, contractor recommendations, etc!

Upcoming Homes For Sale in Falls Church & Oakton

Inventory may be low, but the best Realtors in Northern VA always have new listings. Here are two homes in Oakton and Falls Church that will be for sale soon. Call (703) 242-3975 for details!

Homes For Sale Oakton VA

Homes For Sale Falls Church VA