Reasons to Buy a Home This Fall

4 Reasons to Buy a Home This Fall | MyKCM

Last week we blogged about selling your home during the holidays so this week we want to share some information about buying a home this time of year.

Here are four great reasons from our friends at Keeping Current Matters to consider buying a home today, instead of waiting.

1. Prices Will Continue to Rise

CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Insights Report shows that home prices have appreciated by 3.6% over the last 12 months. The same report predicts prices will continue to increase at a rate of 5.8% over the next year.

The bottom in home prices has come and gone. Home values will continue to appreciate for years. Waiting no longer makes sense.

2. Mortgage Interest Rates Are Projected to Increase Next Year

The Primary Mortgage Market Survey from Freddie Mac indicates that interest rates for a 30-year mortgage have recently hovered just above 3.5%. This is great news for buyers in the market right now, because low interest rates increase your purchasing power – but don’t wait! Most experts predict rates will rise over the next 12 months. The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the National Association of Realtors are in unison, projecting that rates will increase by this time next year.

An increase in rates will impact your monthly mortgage payment. A year from now, your housing expense will increase if a mortgage is needed to buy your next home.

3. Either Way, You Are Paying a Mortgage 

There are some renters who haven’t purchased a home yet because they’re uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize that, unless you’re living rent-free with your parents, you are paying a mortgage – either yours or that of your landlord.

As an owner, your mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings’ that allows you to have equity in your home you can tap into later in life. As a renter, you guarantee your landlord is the person with that equity.

Are you ready to put your housing costs to work for you?

4. It’s Time to Move on With Your Life

The ‘cost’ of a home is determined by two major components: the price of the home and the current mortgage rate. It appears both are on the rise.

But what if they weren’t? Would you wait?

Look at the actual reason you’re buying and decide if it is worth waiting. Whether you want to have a great place for your children to grow up, you want your family to be safer, or you just want to have control over custom renovations, maybe now is the time to buy.

Bottom Line

Buying a home sooner rather than later could lead to substantial savings. Call or email The Belt Team to help you determine if homeownership is the right choice for you and your family this fall. 703-242-3975 | info@thebeltteam.com.

Can’t wait to hear from you and help with make your real estate dreams come true!

5 Powerful Reasons to Own Instead of Rent

5 Powerful Reasons to Own Instead of Rent | MyKCM

Owning a home has great financial benefits.

In a recent research paper, Homeownership and the American Dream, Laurie S. Goodman and Christopher Mayer of the Urban Land Institute explained:

“Homeownership appears to help borrowers accumulate housing and nonhousing wealth in a variety of ways, with tax advantages, greater financial flexibility due to secured borrowing, built-in ‘default’ savings with mortgage amortization and nominally fixed payments, and the potential to lower home maintenance costs through sweat equity.”

Let’s breakdown 5 major financial benefits of homeownership:

1. Housing is typically the one leveraged investment available

Homeownership allows households to amplify any appreciation on the value of their homes by a leverage factor. A 20% down payment results in a leverage factor of five, meaning every percentage point rise in the value of your home is a 5% return on your equity. If you put down 10%, your leverage factor is 10.

Example: Let’s assume you purchased a $300,000 home and put down $60,000 (20%). If the house appreciates by $30,000, that is only a 10% increase in value but a 50% increase in equity.

2. You’re paying for housing whether you own or rent

Some argue that renting eliminates the cost of property taxes and home repairs. Every potential renter must realize that all the expenses the landlord incurs (property taxes, repairs, insurance, etc.) are baked into the rent payment already – along with a profit margin!!

3. Owning is usually a form of “forced savings”

Studies have shown that homeowners have a net worth that is 44X greater than that of a renter. As a matter of fact, it was recently estimated that a family buying an average priced home this past January could build more than $42,000 in family wealth over the next five years.

4. Owning is a hedge against inflation

House values and rents tend to go up at or higher than the rate of inflation. When you own, your home’s value will protect you from that inflation.

5. There are still substantial tax benefits to owning

We know that the new tax reform bill puts limits on some deductions on certain homes. However, in the research paper referenced above, the authors explain:

“…the mortgage interest deduction is not the main source of these gains; even if it were removed, homeowners would continue to benefit from a lack of taxation of imputed rent and capital gains.”

Bottom Line

From a financial standpoint, owning a home has always been and will always be better than renting.

Ready to buy? Call/text us at 703-242-3975

Before You Look for Your Dream Home: Know What You Want vs. What You Need!

Before You Look for Your Dream Home: Know What You Want vs. What You Need! | MyKCM

In this day and age of being able to shop for anything anywhere, it is really important to know what you’re looking for when you start your home search.

If you’ve been thinking about buying a home of your own for some time now, you’ve probably come up with a list of things that you’d LOVE to have in your new home. Many new homebuyers fantasize about the amenities that they see on television or Pinterest, and start looking at the countless homes listed for sale through rose-colored glasses.

Do you really need that farmhouse sink in the kitchen to be happy with your home choice? Would a two-car garage be a convenience or a necessity? Could the “man cave” of your dreams be a future renovation project instead of a make-or-break right now?

The first step in your home buying process should be getting pre-approved for your mortgage. This allows you to know your budget before you fall in love with a home that is way outside of it.

The next step is to list all the features of a home that you would like, and to qualify them as follows:

  • “Must-Haves” – if this property does not have these items, then it shouldn’t even be considered (ex: distance from work or family, number of bedrooms/bathrooms).
  • “Should-Haves” – if the property hits all of the ‘must-haves’ and some of the ‘should-haves,’ it stays in contention but does not need to have all of these features.
  • “Absolute-Wish List” – if we find a property in our budget that has all of the ‘must-haves,’ most of the ‘should-haves,’ and ANY of these, it’s the winner!

Bottom Line

Having this list fleshed out before starting your search will save you time and frustration. It also lets your agent know what features are most important to you before they start showing you houses in your desired area.

Thinking about buying? Call/text us at 703-242-3975

Starting the Search for Your Dream Home? Here Are 5 Tips!

Starting the Search for Your Dream Home? Here Are 5 Tips! | MyKCM

In today’s real estate market, low inventory dominates the conversation in many areas of the country. It can often be frustrating to be a first-time homebuyer if you aren’t prepared.

In a realtor.com article entitled, “How to Find Your Dream Home—Without Losing Your Mind,” the author highlights some steps that first-time homebuyers can take to help carry their excitement of buying a home throughout the whole process.

1. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage Before You Start Your Search

One way to show you are serious about buying your dream home is to get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage before starting your search. Even if you are in a market that is not as competitive, understanding your budget will give you the confidence of knowing whether or not your dream home is within your reach.

This step will also help you narrow your search based on your budget and won’t leave you disappointed if the home you tour, and love, ends up being outside your budget!

2. Know the Difference Between Your ‘Must-Haves’ and ‘Would-Like-To-Haves’

Do you really need that farmhouse sink in the kitchen to be happy with your home choice? Would a two-car garage be a convenience or a necessity? Could the ‘man cave’ of your dreams be a future renovation project instead of a make-or-break right now?

Before you start your search, list all the features of a home you would like and then qualify them as ‘must-haves’‘should-haves’, or ‘absolute-wish list’ items. This will help keep you focused on what’s most important.

3. Research and Choose a Neighborhood You Want to Live In

Every neighborhood has its own charm. Before you commit to a home based solely on the house itself, the article suggests test-driving the area. Make sure that the area meets your needs for “amenities, commute, school district, etc. and then spend a weekend exploring before you commit.”

4. Pick a House Style You Love and Stick to It

Evaluate your family’s needs and settle on a style of home that would best serve those needs. Just because you’ve narrowed your search to a zip code, doesn’t mean that you need to tour every listing in that zip code.

An example from the article says, “if you have several younger kids and don’t want your bedroom on a different level, steer clear of Cape Cod–style homes, which typically feature two or more bedrooms on the upper level and the master on the main.”

5. Document Your Home Visits

Once you start touring homes, the features of each individual home will start to blur together. The article suggests keeping your camera handy to document what you love and don’t love about each property you visit.

Making notes on the listing sheet as you tour the property will also help you remember what the photos mean, or what you were feeling while touring the home.

Bottom Line

In a high-paced, competitive environment, any advantage you can give yourself will help you on your path to buying your dream home. We are here to be part of your support system! Let’s get you setup on a listing alert so you are notified when any potential homes in your price range hit the market.

Call/text us at 703-242-3975 with any questions or email us at info@thebeltteam.com.

Text BELT to 59559 to see the latest listings in your area.

69% of Buyers are Wrong About Down Payment Needs

The Belt Team sells lots of homes to first-time homebuyers and invariably when we meet for the first time, there are lots of misconceptions about what it takes to buy a home. How much money you need for a down payment is almost always one of them.

Here’s an article from Keeping Current Matters about some of the mythunderstandings:

69% of Buyers are Wrong About Down Payment Needs | MyKCM

According to a recent survey conducted by Genworth Financial Inc. at the Annual Mortgage Bankers’ Association Secondary Market Conference, mortgage professionals say that first-time buyers still believe a 20% down payment is necessary to buy in today’s market.

Nearly 40% of mortgage industry professionals surveyed believe that a lack of knowledge about the home-buying process is keeping potential buyers on the sidelines. Saving for a down payment is often cited as a huge barrier for first-time homebuyers to make the leap into homeownership.

If homeowners believe that they need a 20% down payment to enter the market, they also believe that they will have to wait years (in some markets) to come up with the necessary funds to buy their dream homes.

The greatest source of confusion cited in the survey results centered around down payments. The results are broken down in the chart below:

69% of Buyers are Wrong About Down Payment Needs | MyKCM

Rohit Gupta, CEO of Genworth Mortgage Insurance had this to say,

“While first-time homebuyers continue to drive the purchase market, we believe many are staying on the sidelines due to the misconception that a 20 percent down payment is required to secure a mortgage.

There are various low down payment options available today that allow prospective homebuyers to reach their dreams of homeownership sooner. It is crucial that, as an industry, we proactively educate eligible borrowers about solutions that will enable them to buy a home when they’re ready.”

Bottom Line

Don’t let a lack of understanding of the home-buying process keep you and your family out of the housing market. Let’s get together to discuss your options! Call The Belt Team at (703) 242-3975.

What Info Is Needed To Apply For A Mortgage

Tips For First-Time Homebuyers

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Slaying Home Buying Myths

We get questions from first-time homebuyers like this all the time:

  • Do I have to have a perfect credit score?
  • Do I need 20% cash for my down payment?
  • Aren’t interest rates really high?
  • Can I really afford to buy?

Check out what Keeping Current Matters has to say about the myths related to buying a home:

Slaying Home Buying Myths [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights:

  • Interest rates are still below historic numbers.
  • 88% of property managers raised their rent in the last 12 months!
  • The credit score requirements for mortgage approval continue to fall.

The Belt Team has a Buyer Specialist whose expertise is First-Time Homebuyers. If you’re looking for someone to walk you through each step of the process, call Beth Dadisman at (703) 577-1144. Or click here to schedule a FREE consultation.

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Here’s how you might feel after you buy your first place! We helped these first time homebuyers find their dream home and go to settlement just last week! The Belt Team is ranked in the Top 20 Real Estate Agents in the State of VA (out of 30,000 agents). Don’t you deserve the BEST?!

The Belt Team Specializes in First Time Homebuyers

Buyers & Sellers – Interest Rates Remain at Historic Lows . . . But for How Long?

If you’re pondering buying or selling NOW or waiting another year or two – you might want to take note of the latest info below from Keeping Current Matters!

Interest Rates Remain at Historic Lows… But for How Long? | MyKCM

The interest rate you pay on your home mortgage has a direct impact on your monthly payment; The higher the rate, the greater your payment will be. That is why it is important to look at where the experts believe rates are headed when deciding to buy now or wait until next year.

The 30-year fixed mortgage rate has fallen half a percentage point since the beginning of the year and has remained at or below 3.5% for the last 11 weeks according to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey.

The chart below shows how far rates have fallen this year (on the left), and uses an average of the projections from Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, the Mortgage Bankers Association and National Association of Realtors (on the right). As you can see, interest rates are projected to increase steadily over the course of the next 12 months.

Mortgage Rates - 30-Year Fixed Rate | MyKCM

How Will This Impact Your Mortgage Payment?

Depending on the amount of the loan that you secure, a half of a percent (.5%) increase in interest rate can increase your monthly mortgage payment significantly.

According to CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Index, national home prices have appreciated 6.0% over the last year and are predicted to be 5.4% higher next year.

If both the predictions of home prices and interest rate increases become a reality, families will wind up paying considerably more for their next home.

Bottom Line

Even a small increase in interest rate can impact your family’s wealth.


Interest rate changes don’t just affect Buyers. They affect Sellers too. As rates rise, some Homebuyers are priced out of the market they want to move into. And they decide to stay where they are. Less Buyers means less demand and more competition. And that can put a downward pressure on prices.

If you’re wondering whether you should buy now or wait – or sell now or wait – there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. There are lots of things that should factor into your decision. Interest rates are just one. Call Terry Belt & The Belt Team at (703) 242-3975. Our team is one of the top teams in the entire country, with lots of resources at your disposal, and we are more than happy to consult with you and help you and your family make the RIGHT move!

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“Four Months Is Cray-Cray”

We often share with your the research that is brought to us by Keeping Current Matters. Recently, they quoted Jonathan Smoke, Chief Economist for Realtor.com. He said

“The increase in sales is resulting in continued tighter-than-tight supply—measured by NAR to be four months in January.  For you non-economists out there, that metric measures the number of months it would take to sell the current inventory of available homes, at the current pace. Got it? Six to seven months’ worth of homes on the market is considered normal; four months is cray-cray.”

I read that and thought, “Wow if four months is cray-ray, what is two months?” You see, places all around Northern Virginia are sitting at two months or less of housing inventory. That’s a Seller’s Market folks.

Search our state of the art home search site.

Low Inventory in Northern VA - Keeping Current MattersBuyers – you gotta be prepared. Sellers – NOW is the time.

Buyers – it’s not always price that wins a contract. Talk to your Realtor about price, AND about strategies in terms of:

  • Earnest money deposit
  • Whether or not to waive home inspection
  • Whether or not to waive financing contingency
  • Whether or not to waive appraisal contingency
  • Closing date
  • Escalation clauses
  • Introduction letters
  • Other important terms to the seller (example: they may want to rent back for a short time)
  • Finding homes to buy that are off market or before they hot the market

Sellers – preparing your home & pricing right up front will net you the MOST. Talk to your Realtor about strategies to elicit multiple offers. (Click here for an INSTANT online value estimate of your home and then call 703-242-3975 for a FREE personalized consultation.)

P.S. – Beware of selling on your own without a Realtor. You may save commission dollars, but you will likely net less on your bottom line. According to NAR, only 2% of Buyers purchased a home from a Seller they didn’t already know. 92% of Buyers used the internet and of those, 95% used an agent, builder or builder’s agent. So selling on your own can severely limit your exposure and consequently your final yield.


Keeping in mind the definitions that less than 3 months inventory is a Seller’s Market, 3-6 months is a Balanced Market, and more than 6 months is a Buyer’s Market – where do the towns and cities of Northern Virginia stand today:

Buyer’s Markets

  • Great Falls – 6.7 months

Balanced Markets

  • Dunn Loring – 5 months
  • McLean – 4 months

Seller’s Markets

  • Alexandria – 1.6 months
  • Annandale – 1.4 months
  • Arlington – 1.8 months
  • Ashburn – 1.8 months
  • Burke – 1.1 months
  • Centreville – 1.1 months
  • Chantilly – 1.5 months
  • Clifton – 2.7 months
  • Fairfax Station – 1.5 months
  • Falls Church – 1.7 months
  • Herndon – 1.4 months
  • Oakton – 2.1 months
  • Reston – 1.4 months
  • Springfield – 1 month
  • Sterling – Less than 1 month
  • Vienna – 2.7 months

Search our state of the art home finder site where listings are updated FASTER than other sites.

If you’re thinking of buying or selling in this “cray-cray” market, email or call Terry Belt & The Belt Team at (703) 242-3975. We specialize in real estate success stories. We’ll help you make the BEST move in today’s market.

Top Realtors Northern VA

Watch Out For Shark Infested Waters in the Real Estate Market

Wondering how the real estate market is faring? Take a look at this snapshot from Keeping Current Matters:

Home Sales November 2015 Real Estate

What’s most important in the infographic is the quote from Lawrence Yun. You see, sales in November 2015 were down from sales in November 2014. In our opinion, the real reason for this is TRID.

TRID (Truth-In-Lending RESPA Integrated Documentation – or as some Realtors call it, “The Reason I Drink”) is a new government regulation that affects people who are buying and selling homes. We won’t go into all the details (and there are a LOT of them), but the bottom line is that TRID is causing increased costs and delays in settlement. We expect that when numbers come out for December, that many of the expected November closings will show up.

That said – TRID is just another reason why it’s SO important for consumers to be represented by Realtors who do this every day and can help their clients navigate what often feel like shark infested waters. Part of what we do is manage all the details of the buying & selling process. We make sure deadlines are met, you are protected, and that you get where you want to go when you want to be there.

We have heard all kinds of horror stories about delayed closings – Buyers with their household belongings on trucks for days, staying in a hotel because their settlement was pushed back due to a TRID delay. Others where their mortgage loan lock-in expired, only  to have to pay hundred or thousands of dollars to extend the rate. Sellers who pack up and move out – but can’t get their money when they need it because the Buyer was held up by TRID.

Terry Belt Realtor The Belt TeamTerry Belt, CEO of The Belt Team says, “You don’t need to know all the ins & outs of TRID, but your Realtor does. Our advice to you – whether buying or selling a home – is to make sure to work with a seasoned real estate team – the best you can find. It’s in your best interests to use their years of experience and their immense resources to your advantage. When problems arise, and with new regulations like TRID it’s not unusual – you need someone with creativity & pull on YOUR side. The more homes a Realtor sells, the more likely they are to be a great problem solver. So ask for details when you’re interviewing your Realtor. (We even have a list of questions you should ask your Realtor!)”

Schedule an appointment with The Belt Team by calling (703) 242-3975.

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The Belt Team is one of the Top 20 Best Real Estate Agents in the State of Virginia (as named by Real Trends) and one of Washingtonian Magazines Best Realtors in 2015. Our mission statement is “Changing Lives For The Better”. If it’s time to change YOURS, call us at (703) 242-3975 TODAY. It’s our pleasure to help you make the RIGHT move.

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Slaying Homebuying Myths

The Belt Team had a very successful first-time homebuyer seminar recently. And what we have found over time is that there are a lot of “mythunderstandings” out there about what it takes to buy a home – whether it’s your first home or your fourth. Here’s a great article from Keeping Current Matters that “slays” those myths!

FACTS:

  1. Interest Rates are still below historic numbers.
  2. 88% of property managers raised their rent in the last 12 months!
  3. Credit score requirements to be approved for a mortgage continue to fall. The 723 average score is the lowest since Ellie Mae began reporting on scores in August 2011.
  4. The average first-time home buyer down payment was 6% in 2015 according to NAR.

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What You Need to Know About Buying A Home

 

FREE, Instant Home Valuation

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Schedule a FREE Buyer Consultation with Our Lead Buyer Specialist or call (703) 242-3975 for more info.