Crystal Ball Predictions for The Northern VA Real Estate Market

Trying to predict the future is like trying to drive down a country road at night with no lights while looking out the back window.” Peter Drucker

But we’re going to do it anyway!

At this time of year, our phone starts ringing off the hook looking for our CEO, Terry Belt, asking for his forecast of what this year in real estate will hold. And while his crystal ball may be as imperfect as everyone else’s, he has weathered 27 years in the Northern VA real estate market and done it uber successfully. This brings with it a good look in the rear view window, but at the same time an ability to spot & react to trends quickly.

Realtor The Belt Team     Real Estate Predictions

Here are Terry Belt’s Top 3 Predictions For Northern VA Real Estate in 2014:

1. Buyers Will Continue To Compete For Homes

Last year Northern Virginia experienced a market where housing inventory was low year round. Inventory rose slightly during the Spring, but pent up demand meant that many of the homes were snapped up as they hit the market. I expect that to continue in 2014. Although we experienced a market where buyers were competing for homes back in the 90’s and again at the height of the market in 2006, this market is different in that the number of homes selling is much less. Homes sold quickly in those earlier markets, but new homes came on the market to replace them. Currently, we still have demand left over from the downturn, as well as new purchasers entering the market, and there are large numbers of buyers just sitting and waiting for homes to come on the market. Many of these buyers have been looking for months & months. The number of homes coming on the market just cannot keep up with the demand.

The question will be whether that will continue to drive up prices or whether rising interest rates will price some of these buyers out of the market. Keep in mind that a 1% rise in interest rates equals a 10% decrease in home price affordability. Stay tuned to see how that plays out. In the immediate short term, look for early Spring market conditions to be very similar to 2013.

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2. More Northern VA Homeowners Will Emerge From Underwater

Home prices in Northern VA continued to rise last year and I believe this trend will continue in 2014. From 2011 to 2012, the median price rose 4.82%. And from 2012 to 2013, the median price rose 7.13%. This is good news for homeowners who were underwater. If you tried to sell unsuccessfully during the years 2008-2011, your golden ticket may just be cashed this year.

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3. Interest Rates Will Rise, But Mortgages May Be More Accessible

For several years, we have had interest rates at historical lows. This will not last. In fact, we have already seen rates rising. While this may price some buyers out of the market, it actually may work in reverse for other buyers. The silver lining to rising interest rates is that means less refinancing business for lenders; and that may result in lenders loosening their standards in order to compete. Just this week, we were notified by several of our lenders of new programs they are offering that are more flexible than what we have seen over the past few years.

Wild Cards: 

  • If home prices continue upward and more sellers put their homes on the market, this could help alleviate the low inventory problem for buyers adding a little more balance to the market. 
  • The market will continue to do well if the local economy and jobs remain positive.  Should this change it would have a slowing effect on housing.

My Advice To 2014 Buyers & Sellers:

If you’re thinking about buying or selling a home in 2014, the absolute most important thing you can do is to make sure you have the best Realtor representing & advocating for you. There’s a lot to navigate along the way – appraisals, surveys, legal disclosures, when to sell, how to price, how to stage, what to disclose, what not to disclose, mortgage financing, how to compete and more. Every market has its own ins & outs & idiosyncrasies.

According to NAR, 90% of homes are sold by 10% of the Realtors. So my advice to clients, whether they are buying here in Northern VA or across the country in California or even across the ocean in Europe – is to make sure you work with the best. You know they’re the best when they’re in that top echelon of performers. The more transactions a team does, the more prepared they are to be your advocate and help you navigate successfully.

Buying or selling a home is often one of the biggest, if not THE biggest, financial transactions of your lifetime – not to mention the emotional importance of your home and family. Do it right!

Do You Want To Do The DANCE FOR JOY?!

Whether you live in Vienna, Oakton, McLean, Fairfax, Falls Church, Reston or any of the other awesome areas of Northern VA – if you’re thinking of selling your home in 2014, this is a MUST WATCH 30 second video!


Our marketing at The Belt Team may be a bit outside the box, creative, tongue-in-cheek – but we are SERIOUS about our commitment to our clients. We have SO many Buyers who need homes. Help us help them! Call (703) 242-3975 if YOU are thinking of selling. And if you’re not in the market to sell – please share this video!


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Coming Soon at Great Falls Chase in Sterling!

Townhouse at Great Falls Chase in Sterling – Coming Soon!

Inventory may be low, but we have a number of new listings coming on the market soon! Call Kevin Kleifges at (703) 242-3975 for more information.

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Sterling Townhouse For Sale

Terry Belt on Real Estate Radio Washington: Northern Virginia “State of The Real Estate Market”

Terry Belt, CEO of The Belt Team, and nationally known Realtor, recently guested on Real Estate Radio Washington where he was asked about the state of the Northern Virginia real estate market. The discussion centered on whether you should buy or sell now, what’s happening with mortgage interest rates and more.

Tune in now!

(And if you’re looking to refinance your mortgage OR find out how much mortgage you can qualify for, contact The Belt Team and we will connect you with our mortgage experts at Churchill Mortgage.

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Contact Terry Belt about buying or selling your home.

Tip For Homeowners Who Want To Sell This Spring

If one of your 2014 goals is to sell your Northern Virginia home this Spring, you’ll want to watch this one minute video to find out what you can do NOW to make that happen! (And then contact the BEST real estate team in Northern Virginia!)

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Our mission at The Belt Team is “Changing Lives For The Better“. If it’s time to change YOURS, call (703) 242-3975. We’ll help you make the RIGHT move!

Terry Belt Guests On Real Estate Radio Washington

Belt Team CEO, Terry Belt, is a guest real estate expert on “Real Estate Radio Washington”. Stay tuned for his 2013 real estate review and 2014. We’ll post that later this week.

In the meantime, hosts Jim McQuaig & Erik Spencer talk to Terry about careers in real estate and specifically, with The Belt Team. Tune in now if you’re looking for an opportunity – and not just a job!

(And if you’re looking to refinance your mortgage OR find out how much mortgage you can qualify for, contact The Belt Team and we will connect you with our mortgage experts at Churchill Mortgage.

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Contact Terry Belt about buying or selling your home.

Mortgage Minute for HomeBuyers: “What’s A Qualified Mortgage?”

New mortgage guidlelines

If you’re buying a home in Northern Virginia, you may have heard talk of new mortgage guidelines & regulations, but aren’t sure what that means for you. So we asked our Partner Paul Diaz, Senior Loan Officer with New Penn Financial, to explain.

Northern VA Mortgage Financing
Paul Diaz


What Is A “Qualified Mortgage”?

Lenders that follow underwriting guidelines and product guidelines exactly when they write a loan will be considered to be making a ‘qualified mortgage”. “Qualified mortgages” will provide lenders and borrowers certain legal protections in the event the borrower should default.

Lenders will more than likely still write mortgage loans that are not considered to be qualified mortgages, but because they will lose some protection should the borrower default on a mortgage loan, most other lenders might just stick to the new definition and stay within the guidelines. This may mean less flexibility in the marketplace for some buyers.

Parameters for a qualified mortgage are as follows:

  • Have a loan term of 30 years or less.
  • Not have negative amortization (monthly payment must cover all the interest due).
  • Not be an “interest only” loan.
  • Not be a “balloon payment” loan where a large lump sum of the principal is due back at one time (exception made for small lenders).
  • Upfront points and fees must not exceed 3 percent of the total loan amount. Note: This cap on points and fees may make lenders less likely to offer smaller loans (less than $100,000).
  • Debt-to-income ratio may not exceed 43 percent. *Note: This can be superseded if the loan is originated and kept in portfolio by a qualified small lender, or if the loan is approved by FHA, VA, USDA, RHS, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. But it may become harder for people with higher debt loads to get approved for a new home if they cannot stay below the 43 percent debt-to-income ratio.

This last guideline is likely to affect many Buyers in Northern Virginia.


If you’re wondering how much of a mortgage you can qualify for, contact our partner Paul Diaz at New Penn Financial. He can help you analyze the loan product that works best for your needs and help you get pre-approved for a mortgage. This gives you the power of a CASH buyer!

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McLean Home Open Sunday Jan 19th

If you’re looking for a home in McLean, just 10 minutes to Washington DC – then stop by our open house on Sunday. You just might find the home of your dreams at 6423 Linway Terrace!

Listed at $969,000


McLean Homes For Sale

Mint condition.Brand new top of the line appliances granite counter tops ,new carpets, new bathroom fixture. Custom painted inside out.5 bedrooms 4 full baths. Main level bedroom. Family room with fireplace and sliding doors to the back yard and deck. Fully fenced lot. Located on cul de sac . Lower level with Rec room and Den

More pictures & info about 6423 Linway Terrace in McLean

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What Homebuyers Need To Know About “Shadow Inventory” in Northern VA

Shadow Inventory in Northern VA

Have you ever heard the term “shadow inventory“?

Shadow inventory is normally a term that refers to a supply of homes that has not yet been put on the market, but is “lurking” in the background – usually real estate properties that are in foreclosure (REO or bank owned properties) or close to foreclosure.

But there really is another type of “shadow inventory” here in Northern Virginia; and if you’re a Buyer, you need to pay attention to this!

As you know, inventory around Northern Virginia is scarce. Homes are selling quickly and there is not a glut of homes on the market the way there was five years ago. Homes that are priced well, in a good location and in good condition are getting snapped up – and sometimes getting multiple, competing contracts and selling over list price. Places like Vienna, VA for example, only have 2.5 months of housing inventory.

In the meantime, prices are rising and so are interest rates. So what is a Buyer to do?

Find the shadow inventory! Not the REO homes, but the “other” shadow inventory.

Successful, experienced Realtors often have their own “shadow inventory”. When you’ve been in the real estate business for an extended period of time and are tops in your field, you build up a very loyal clientele & following. And this means that past clients (and new ones) often contact you well in advance of going on the market. They list their home with you and then have you consult with them on how they can maximize the return on their home. Only then do they go about preparing the home – doing repairs, improvements, painting, staging, etc. And the home does not go on the market until everything is ready.

Therefore, there is a period of time between when the home is listed and when it actually hits the market. THIS creates a small amount of “shadow inventory” and THIS is why Buyers should work with TOP Realtors. It maximizes their chances of finding their dream home. Not only do TOP Realtors often have their onw shadow inventory, they zre wired in with other TOP agents as well. (This is one reason our team is affiliated with Keller Williams in McLean. Some of the best Realtors in the country are also in our office. It’s a BIG advantage for our clients.)

As an example, The Belt Team has signed listings for properties in the following areas that are not on the market yet: Great Falls, VA and Vienna, VA.

In addition to this, top agents also have vast networks of contacts and can reach out to them on your behalf. Sometimes, people are not actively ready to sell their home, but when we reach out to them on behalf of a buyer who has targeted their neighborhood and who is already approved for a loan, it’s enough to make them consider a sale. And sometimes they actually sell – without putting their home on the market. We have sold a number of homes that way. And it’s a win-win for both buyer and seller.

If you would like to work with a real estate team who is creative, proactive and who thinks outside the box, contact The Belt Team at (703) 242-3975. That’s what it takes to make your real estate dreams come true in today’s market.

Our mission is “Changing Lives For The Better, One Family At A Time.” Is it time to change YOURS?

Oakton Real Estate Stats: 2003 to 2013

As we head into the New Year – it’s a good time to look back over the past 10 years and see what has happened in Oakton real estate. Here are the highlights:


Prices are steadily rising. The average price in Oakton rose 9% over the previous year. However, unlike in Vienna where prices are higher than they were at the height of the market in 2006; Oakton’s prices remain below the market high in 2005.

 Oakton Home Prices Rising


Oakton saw a HUGE jump in sales in 2013 – 35% over the previous year! More homes were sold than in any year since 2004.

How Many Homes Sold In Oakton 2013


Homes continue to sell quickly in Oakton. In 2013, homes sold in an average of 49 days – faster than in any other year since 2005. (Note: Belt Team listings sold in an average of 9 days – AND at a higher percentage of list price than average. This means Belt Team Sellers had one less mortgage payment to make – saving thousands of dollars!)

 Hos Fast Do Homes Sell in Oakton VA


Sellers in 2013 garnered a higher percentage of list price than in any year since 2005 – 96.75%. (For example, if a home was listed at $800,000 – the average Seller would have sold it for $774,000. )

Oakton Real Estate Stats Sold Price To List Price 2003 to 2013

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Contact our CEO, Terry Belt about selling your home in Oakton.

Contact our Senior Buyer Specialist, Tom Reilly about buying a home in Oakton.