Fairfax County Real Estate Tax Assessments Have Been Mailed!

Those of you who live in Fairfax County should be receiving your real estate tax assessment shortly.

For a large number of you (88%!), the assessment went up. On average, residential real estate assessments are up an average of 4.25%.

Note: the Board of Supervisors has not yet adopted the 2021 tax rate and will do so later this spring. On February 23th the 2022 Budget was presented to the Board and included a one-cent reduction in the Real Estate Tax Rate, from $1.15 to $1.14 per $100 of assessed value. Therefore, considering equalization and the rate decrease, the average tax bill would increase by approximately $224 based on the proposal.

Assessments increased more from the previous year in part because most areas of the county saw property price increases because of things like low inventory and historically low interest rates.

(If you have not received your notice yet, you can check your Fairfax County assessment value online)


Here are some overall stats from Fairfax County:

Of the 356,171 taxable parcels in Fairfax County:

  • 326,263 have an assessment change
  • 29,908 have no assessment change

Here’s the breakdown of average home property assessment by property type (averages are not necessarily indicative of individual properties or neighborhoods):

  • Single family detached homes – $725,327, up 4.17%
  • Townhouse /duplex properties – $460,526, up 5.13%
  • Condominiums – $304,877, up 4.62%

Now. Truth be told – the assessments in Fairfax County are oftentimes LOWER than actual “market value” (meaning what a “willing Seller” and “willing Buyer” agree a property is worth by ratifying a contract to sell/buy that property.)

If you are thinking of buying a home in Fairfax County, don’t be deceived into thinking you will be able to buy a home for about what the County has assessed as the value of the property. We are often asked how a Seller could justify an asking price above the Fairfax County tax assessment.

Assessed value is just ONE factor to look at when buying or selling. A better place to start is with a FREE INSTANT online estimate. Then schedule an appointment with The Belt Team for a custom estimate.

If you think your assessment is wrong, Fairfax County does have an appeal process. You can file an online appeal prior to April 1st. More info here.

Also note that Seniors and People with Disabilities may be eligible for the county’s tax relief program. More info here.

If you have questions about your assessed value, the market value of your home or are thinking of buying or selling a home, give The Belt Team a call (703) 242-3975. We are happy to help you make the right move!

Where Have All the Houses Gone?

Where Have All the Houses Gone? | MyKCM

In today’s housing market, it seems harder than ever to find a home to buy. Before the health crisis hit us a year ago, there was already a shortage of homes for sale. When many homeowners delayed their plans to sell at the same time that more buyers aimed to take advantage of record-low mortgage rates and purchase a home, housing inventory dropped even further. Experts consider this to be the biggest challenge facing an otherwise hot market while buyers continue to compete for homes. As Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com, explains:

“With buyers active in the market and seller participation lagging, homes are selling quickly and the total number available for sale at any point in time continues to drop lower. In January as a whole, the number of for sale homes dropped below 600,000.”

Every month, realtor.com releases new data showing the year-over-year change in inventory of existing homes for sale. As you can see in the map below, nationwide, inventory is 42.6% lower than it was at this time last year:

Where Have All the Houses Gone? | MyKCM

Does this mean houses aren’t being put on the market for sale?

Not exactly. While there are fewer existing homes being listed right now, many homes are simply selling faster than they’re being counted as current inventory. The market is that competitive! It’s like when everyone was trying to find toilet paper to buy last spring and it was flying off the shelves faster than it could be stocked in the stores. That’s what’s happening in the housing market: homes are being listed for sale, but not at a rate that can keep up with heavy demand from competitive buyers.

In the same realtor.com report, Hale explains:

Time on the market was 10 days faster than last year meaning that buyers still have to make decisions quickly in order to be successful. Today’s buyers have many tools to help them do that, including the ability to be notified as soon as homes meeting their search criteria hit the market. By tailoring search and notifications to the homes that are a solid match, buyers can act quickly and compete successfully in this faster-paced housing market.”

The Good News for Homeowners

The health crisis has been a major reason why potential sellers have held off this long, but as vaccines become more widely available, homeowners will start making their moves. Ali Wolf, Chief Economist at Zonda, confirms:

“Some people will feel comfortable listing their home during the first half of 2021. Others will want to wait until the vaccines are widely distributed.”

With more homeowners getting ready to sell later this year, putting your house on the market sooner rather than later is the best way to make sure your listing shines brighter than the rest.

When you’re ready to sell your house, you’ll likely want it to sell as quickly as possible, for the best price, and with little to no hassle. If you’re looking for these selling conditions, you’ll find them in today’s market. When demand is high and inventory is low, sellers have the ability to create optimal terms and timelines for the sale, making now an exceptional time to move.

Bottom Line

Today’s housing market is a big win for sellers, but these conditions won’t last forever. If you’re in a position to sell your house now, you may not want to wait for your neighbors to do the same. Reach out to The Belt Team (703-242-3975 | info@TheBeltTeam.com | Contact Us) to discuss how to sell your house safely so you’re able to benefit from today’s high demand and low inventory.

Wonder what your home is worth? Click below for a free home valuation!

A Special Night at the Vienna Inn

We had such a great time at the Vienna Inn this week supporting a great cause -The Eric Monday Foundation- #takedownthestigma.

Other highlights…🌭Our chili dog was made by guest “dogtender” Vienna’s Mayor Colbert ♥️🎉! We were also celebrating Vienna Inn’s 61st anniversary & supporting it’s 1960 challenge to provide 1960 meals to first responders this month‼️ This town of ours is a special place.🤍

Home Sale Statistics in Northern Virginia – January 2021

Happy New Year!  While it’s cold and snowy outside, the real estate market is HOT!  How hot you ask?  Well, we are seeing things like buyers purchasing homes sight unseen…crazy!  

The January stats for the Northern Virginia market are below, as well as links to market details in some of our hyper-local areas.

Northern Virginia January 2021 home sales:

2,897 homes went under contract in the region. This is up 18% from the same time period in 2020.

54% of the homes that went to settlement in January 2021, sold in 10 days or less from when they hit the market. 

• Average sold price was $592,787 (up 5% from the same time period in 2020).

3,144 homes came on the market. That’s up 8% from January 2020.

• Homes that sold (closed) averaged 21 days on market, 15 days faster than in January of 2020.

• There is currently a 0.6 month supply of homes (remember, in a balanced market – the demand from buyers equals the supply from sellers – there is a 5-6 months supply) in the Northern Virginia – and 2,092 homes for sale (townhouse, condo and single-family).

OVERALL: Northern Virginia remained a Seller’s Market. Market activity in the region was up from December and continued to be up year-over-year.  Average sold prices were up from last year and low inventory remains to be a very big issue. 

If you are thinking of buying or selling, contact us NOW (703-242-3975 or Info@TheBeltTeam.com).  It is very important to work with an experienced agent that will provide you with the data you need to make good decisions to help you navigate this type of market.  The reality is that Buyers & Sellers who are successful in today’s market look at the data and act accordingly.

To see what the conditions are like in your community, click on the link to your desired city below! 

Vienna: January 2021 Home Sales

Oakton: January 2021 Home Sales 

McLean: January 2021 Home Sales 

Great Falls: January 2021 Home Sales 

Reston: January 2021 Home Sales 

Falls Church: January 2021 Home Sales 

Arlington: January 2021 Home Sales 

Alexandria: January 2021 Home Sales  

*Data compiled from SmartCharts, MarketStats by ShowingTime, whose data comes directly from the Multiple Listing Service (MLS).

3 Reasons We’re Definitely Not in a Housing Bubble

Are we in a housing bubble? Terry Belt, CEO of The Belt Team at Keller Williams Realty, doesn’t think so….”I don’t think we are in a bubble. The fundamentals of the market are much different and more healthy than the last cycle. However, the price increases and pace of the current market is unsustainable. If inflation rears its head and interest rates spike or if there is an economic shock to the economy, or both, the market could shift.”

Home values appreciated by about ten percent in 2020, and they’re forecast to appreciate by about five percent this year. This has some voicing concern that we may be in another housing bubble like the one we experienced a little over a decade ago. Here are three reasons why this market is totally different.

1. This time, housing supply is extremely limited

The price of any market item is determined by supply and demand. If supply is high and demand is low, prices normally decrease. If supply is low and demand is high, prices naturally increase.

In real estate, supply and demand are measured in “months’ supply of inventory,” which is based on the number of current homes for sale compared to the number of buyers in the market. The normal months’ supply of inventory for the market is about 6 months. Anything above that defines a buyers’ market, indicating prices will soften. Anything below that defines a sellers’ market in which prices normally appreciate.

Between 2006 and 2008, the months’ supply of inventory increased from just over 5 months to 11 months. The months’ supply was over 7 months in twenty-seven of those thirty-six months, yet home values continued to rise.

Months’ inventory has been under 5 months for the last 3 years, under 4 for thirteen of the last fourteen months, under 3 for the last six months, and currently stands at 1.9 months – a historic low.

Remember, if supply is low and demand is high, prices naturally increase.

2. This time, housing demand is real

During the housing boom in the mid-2000s, there was what Robert Schiller, a fellow at the Yale School of Management’s International Center for Finance, called “irrational exuberance.” The definition of the term is, “unfounded market optimism that lacks a real foundation of fundamental valuation, but instead rests on psychological factors.” Without considering historic market trends, people got caught up in the frenzy and bought houses based on an unrealistic belief that housing values would continue to escalate.

The mortgage industry fed into this craziness by making mortgage money available to just about anyone, as shown in the Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI) published by the Mortgage Bankers Association. The higher the index, the easier it is to get a mortgage; the lower the index, the more difficult it is to obtain one. Prior to the housing boom, the index stood just below 400. In 2006, the index hit an all-time high of over 868. Again, just about anyone could get a mortgage. Today, the index stands at 122.5, which is well below even the pre-boom level.

In the current real estate market, demand is real, not fabricated. Millennials, the largest generation in the country, have come of age to marry and have children, which are two major drivers for homeownership. The health crisis is also challenging every household to redefine the meaning of “home” and to re-evaluate whether their current home meets that new definition. This desire to own, coupled with historically low mortgage rates, makes purchasing a home today a strong, sound financial decision. Therefore, today’s demand is very real.

Remember, if supply is low and demand is high, prices naturally increase.

3. This time, households have plenty of equity

Again, during the housing boom, it wasn’t just purchasers who got caught up in the frenzy. Existing homeowners started using their homes like ATM machines. There was a wave of cash-out refinances, which enabled homeowners to leverage the equity in their homes. From 2005 through 2007, Americans pulled out $824 billion dollars in equity. That left many homeowners with little or no equity in their homes at a critical time. As prices began to drop, some homeowners found themselves in a negative equity situation where the mortgage was higher than the value of their home. Many defaulted on their payments, which led to an avalanche of foreclosures.

Today, the banks and the American people have shown they learned a valuable lesson from the housing crisis a little over a decade ago. Cash-out refinance volume over the last three years was less than a third of what it was compared to the 3 years leading up to the crash.

This conservative approach has created levels of equity never seen before. According to Census Bureau data, over 38% of owner-occupied housing units are owned ‘free and clear’ (without any mortgage). Also, ATTOM Data Solutions just released their fourth quarter 2020 U.S. Home Equity Report, which revealed:

“17.8 million residential properties in the United States were considered equity-rich, meaning that the combined estimated amount of loans secured by those properties was 50 percent or less of their estimated market value…The count of equity-rich properties in the fourth quarter of 2020 represented 30.2 percent, or about one in three, of the 59 million mortgaged homes in the United States.”

If we combine the 38% of homes that are owned free and clear with the 18.7% of all homes that have at least 50% equity (30.2% of the remaining 62% with a mortgage), we realize that 56.7% of all homes in this country have a minimum of 50% equity. That’s significantly better than the equity situation in 2008.

Bottom Line

This time, housing supply is at a historic low. Demand is real and rightly motivated. Even if there were to be a drop in prices, homeowners have enough equity to be able to weather a dip in home values. This is nothing like 2008.

If you want to discuss your “hyper-local” market or plan a strategy to buy or sell, please reach out…we would love to hear from you! (703) 242-3975 | info@thebeltteam.com | Contact Us

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