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

Your Tax Refund Is The Key To Homeownership!

According to data released by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Americans can expect an estimated average refund of $3,143 this year when filing their taxes. This is down slightly from the average refund of $3,436 last year.

Tax refunds are often thought of as ‘extra money’ that can be used toward larger goals. For anyone looking to buy a home in 2019, this can be a great jump start toward a down payment!

Your Tax Refund Is The Key To Homeownership! | MyKCM

The map below shows the average tax refund Americans received last year by state.Many first-time buyers believe that a 20% down payment is required to qualify for a mortgage. Programs from the Federal Housing Authority, Freddie Mac, and Fannie Mae all allow for down payments as low as 3%. Veterans Affairs Loans allow many veterans to purchase a home with 0% down.

If you started your down payment savings with your tax refund check this year, how close would you be to a 3% down payment?

Your Tax Refund Is The Key To Homeownership! | MyKCM

The map below shows what percentage of a 3% down payment is covered by the average tax refund by taking into account the median price of homes sold by state.

The darker the blue, the closer your tax refund gets you to homeownership! For those in Virginia looking to purchase their first homes, their tax refund could potentially get them 40% closer to that dream!

Bottom Line

Saving for a down payment can seem like a daunting task. But the more you know about what’s required, the more prepared you can be to make the best decision for you and your family! This tax season, your refund could be your key to homeownership!

Thinking about buying or know someone thinking about buying? Share this with them. They could be closer to their down payment than they think & we would love to help them along the way.

Give us a call at 703-242-3976 or email us at info@thebeltteam.com

Think you are ready to sell? Text BELTVALUE to 59559 for a FREE valuation of your home!

10 Tips To Keep Your Home Safe During The Holidays

Holiday Meal

Have you figured out what you’re making (or what you’re bringing) for Thanksgiving dinner yet? I bet you have! But don’t forget to think about how to keep your home safe if you’re traveling during the holidays.

Here are 10 Tips To Keep Your Home Safe

(1) Be careful with your status updates on Insta, Facebook, etc. Don’t be too specific. For example: “Can’t wait to see Grandma & Grandpa” might be better than “Leaving for Ohio in 2 hours. Back on Sunday.

(2) Take advantage of the “nosy neighbors” you have (assuming you trust them!). Ask them to keep an eye out while you are away. Make sure they know how to reach you in case of an emergency.

(3) If you still have a newspaper delivered instead of reading online, make sure you suspend delivery. (And ask a neighbor to keep your driveway clear of the various “throwaway publications” that appear.)

(4) Think twice about setting up an auto-responder or voice mail message that says you’re out of town – especially if you work from a home office. A better idea might be to just say you are not checking messages until a certain date (as if you’re taking a “Stay-Cation”.)

(5) Set up timers on certain lights in your house. Install motion detector lights outdoors.

One of my neighbors (who happens to know a bit about this topic since he is a Sheriff!) gave me some extra advice about this particular item. He said,  “My two cents on timers. If you use them, stagger the times they go on and off, create the illusion of movement in the house. Most people have them go on and off at the same time. Instead, have downstairs timers go on during normal dinner & TV time, and then go off. Then have upstairs timers go on like you’re going to bed. Works great and gives the bad guys doubts if you’re home or not.” GREAT ADVICE!

(6) Don’t forget to lock the interior garage door. Exterior doors are relatively easy to compromise. And lock ALL of your windows.

(7) Stop your mail. Or have a neighbor collect it daily.

(8) Don’t publish your physical address or personal information on your social media profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. It’s amazing how many people advertise their birthdate, home address and more – just because the site asked you to fill it in when you set up your account. It’s not just children who do this, but many adults who are new to the world of social media are guilty of this as well. Even if your site is “friend-protected”, you’d be surprised at what web-savvy folks can find out. Be discreet!

(9) If your home is in an area of the country where it’s cold (as in freezing), don’t turn your heat off. You don’t want your pipes to freeze!

(10) You can always employ the tactics of Kevin McAllister in “Home Alone”!

SELLERS: Make sure you read our blog post about whether or not it’s a good idea to sell during the holidays. In general, low inventory & low housing supply mean good things for you. But there are lots of things to consider.

BUYERS: Inventory is low and even as we approach the holidays, homes are selling quickly. If you would like to buy now & celebrate the New Year in your new home, make you use our state-of-the-art home search site. Listings are updated on our system faster than other sites so you won’t miss out on your Dream Home!

If you’’re thinking of buying or selling a home, Contact The Belt Team at (703) 242-3975 for a more in-depth discussion & analysis – because it’s only the neighborhood YOU live in (or you WANT to live in) that matters. We’ll be happy to schedule a consultation and get very detailed about “YOUR Market” so that you can make the decision that is best for YOU!

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.

Search our FREE State-of-the-Art Search Site

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

10 Tips To Keep Your Home Safe During The Holidays

Holiday Meal

Have you figured out what you’re making (or what you’re bringing) for Thanksgiving dinner yet? I bet you have! But don’t forget to think about how to keep your home safe if you’re traveling during the holidays.

Here are 10 Tips To Keep Your Home Safe

(1) Be careful with your status updates on Twitter, Facebook, etc. Don’t be too specific. For example: “Can’t wait to see Grandma & Grandpa” might be better than “Leaving for Ohio in 2 hours. Back on Sunday.

(2) Take advantage of the “nosy neighbors” you have (assuming you trust them!). Ask them to keep an eye out while you are away. Make sure they know how to reach you in case of an emergency.

(3) If you still have a newspaper delivered instead of reading online, make sure you suspend delivery. (And ask a neighbor to keep your driveway clear of the various “throwaway publications” that appear.)

(4) Think twice about setting up an auto-responder or voice mail message that says you’re out of town – especially if you work from a home office. A better idea might be to just say you are not checking messages until a certain date (as if you’re taking a “Stay-Cation”.)

(5) Set up timers on certain lights in your house. Install motion detector lights outdoors.

One of my neighbors (who happens to know a bit about this topic since he is a Sheriff!) gave me some extra advice about this particular item. He said,  “My two cents on timers. If you use them, stagger the times they go on and off, create the illusion of movement in the house. Most people have them go on and off at the same time. Instead, have downstairs timers go on during normal dinner & TV time, and then go off. Then have upstairs timers go on like you’re going to bed. Works great and gives the bad guys doubts if you’re home or not.” GREAT ADVICE!

(6) Don’t forget to lock the interior garage door. Exterior doors are relatively easy to compromise. And lock ALL of your windows.

(7) Stop your mail. Or have a neighbor collect it daily.

(8) Don’t publish your physical address or personal information on your social media profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. It’s amazing how many people advertise their birthdate, home address and more – just because the site asked you to fill it in when you set up your account. It’s not just children who do this, but many adults who are new to the world of social media are guilty of this as well. Even if your site is “friend-protected”, you’d be surprised at what web-savvy folks can find out. Be discreet!

(9) If your home is in an area of the country where it’s cold (as in freezing), don’t turn your heat off. You don’t want your pipes to freeze!

(10) You can always employ the tactics of Kevin McAllister in “Home Alone”!

SELLERS: Make sure you read our blog post about whether or not it’s a good idea to sell during the holidays. In general, low inventory & low housing supply mean good things for you. But there are lots of things to consider.

BUYERS: Inventory is low and even as we approach the holidays, homes are selling quickly. If you would like to buy now & celebrate the New Year in your new home, make you use our state-of-the-art home search site. Listings are updated on our system faster than other sites so you won’t miss out on your Dream Home!

If you’’re thinking of buying or selling a home, Contact The Belt Team at (703) 242-3975 for a more in-depth discussion & analysis – because it’s only the neighborhood YOU live in (or you WANT to live in) that matters. We’ll be happy to schedule a consultation and get very detailed about “YOUR Market” so that you can make the decision that is best for YOU!

Crystal Ball Forecast for The 2016 Northern VA Real Estate Market

Northern VA Real Estate Forecast 2016

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 28 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 Predictions For The 2016 Northern VA Real Estate Market

  • Over all, we’ll see a good year in Northern VA. The national and local press are all telling “feel good” real estate stories and this is great as it resonates positively for consumer confidence, which is a huge factor in the market.
  • The first half of the year will bring a very healthy market. I predict the second half of the year will soften as inventory grows.
  • We will see slower appreciation than we have seen the past 5 years. Statistics for the past five years for various Northern VA markets are on our web site:

(FREE – How Much Is My Home Worth)

Wild Cards – Things To Watch: 

  • Interest rates (already up once and likely to continue rising)
  • Stock market
  • Job creation, especially locally where we are trailing the nation
  • Inventory

(Our FREE state-of-the-art buyer search site)

My Advice To 2016 Buyers & Sellers:

If you’re thinking about buying or selling a home in 2016, 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!

Keeping Your Home Safe During The Holidays

If you’re headed “over the river & through the woods to Grandmother’s house” for the holidays, here are 10 tips to keep your home safe while you’re gone!

(1) Be careful with your status updates on Twitter, Facebook, etc. Don’t be too specific. For example: “Can’t wait to see Grandma & Grandpa” might be better than “Leaving for Ohio in 2 hours. Back on Sunday.

(2) Take advantage of the “nosy neighbors” you have (assuming you trust them!). Ask them to keep an eye out while you are away. Make sure they know how to reach you in case of an emergency.

(3) If you still have a newspaper delivered instead of reading online, make sure you suspend delivery. (And ask a neighbor to keep your driveway clear of the various “throwaway publications” that appear.)

(4) Think twice about setting up an auto-responder or voice mail message that says you are out of town – especially if you work from a home office. A better idea might be to just say you are not checking messages until a certain date (as if you’re taking a “Stay-Cation”.)

(5) Set up timers on certain lights in your house. Install motion detector lights outdoors. One of my neighbors (who happens to know a bit about this topic since he is a Sheriff!) gave me some extra advice about this particular item. He said,  “My two cents on timers. If you use them, stagger the times they go on and off, create the illusion of movement in the house. Most people have them go on and off at the same time. Instead, have downstairs timers go on during normal dinner & TV time, and then go off. Then have upstairs timers go on like you’re going to bed. Works great and gives the bad guys doubts if you’re home or not.” GREAT ADVICE!

(6) Don’t forget to lock the interior garage door. Exterior doors are relatively easy to compromise. And lock ALL of your windows.

(7) Stop your mail. Or have a neighbor collect it daily.

(8) Don’t publish your physical address or personal information on your social media profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. It’s amazing how many people advertise their birthdate, home address and more – just because the site asked you to fill it in when you set up your account. It’s not just children who do this, but many adults who are new to the world of social media are guilty of this as well. Even if your site is “friend-protected”, you’d be surprised at what web-savvy folks can find out. Be discreet!

(9) If your home is in an area of the country where it’s cold (as in freezing), don’t turn your heat off. You don’t want your pipes to freeze!

(10) You can always employ the tactics of Kevin McAllister in “Home Alone”!

SELLERS: Make sure you read our blog post about whether or not it’s a good idea to sell during the holidays. In general, low inventory & low housing supply mean good things for you. But there are lots of things to consider.

BUYERS: Inventory is low and even as we approach the holidays, the best homes are selling quickly. If you would like to buy now & celebrate the New Year in your new home, make you use our state-of-the-art home search site. Listings are updated on our system faster than other sites so you won’t miss out on your Dream Home!

If you’’re thinking of buying or selling a home, Contact The Belt Team at (703) 242-3975 for a more in-depth discussion & analysis – because it’s only the neighborhood YOU live in (or you WANT to live in) that matters. We’ll be happy to schedule a consultation and get very detailed about “YOUR Market” so that you can make the decision that is best for YOU!

Homebuying Can Be Easy!

Homebuying Can Be Easy - With The Belt Team

Just ask Ian & Lauren Forbes! They bought their first home and went to settlement last week. They were kind enough to share their thoughts about the process on independent review site Zillow.com. Zillow notified us today about their review. And it made our day!

Here’s what they said:

“My wife and I recently worked with The Belt Team, and in particular with Tom Reilly and Beth Dadisman. As this was our first home purchase, we had no idea what to expect going in, but we really couldn’t have had a better experience. Tom and Beth helped us every step of the way, from narrowing down our search to finding the right home to guiding us through the closing process. Tom is a Northern Virginia native and is extremely knowledgeable about the neighborhoods in the area, which helped us greatly to focus our search. We always felt like Tom and Beth were on our side–they never pushed us toward a specific house or neighborhood, but always provided honest answers to any of our questions and added value by pointing out things that we, as first time home buyers, wouldn’t think about when looking at homes. We looked at a decent number of houses, and Tom and Beth were readily available whenever we asked to tour a home–we would always get a response within a few hours and they were always willing to work around our schedules to show us a house. After we found our home, Tom and the team helped us navigate the closing process–daunting for any home buyer–and prepared a checklist of all the things that needed to happen between signing the contract and closing, which was fantastic. Even after signing the contract, Tom worked with the sellers on a few issues that popped up before closing, resolving all of them in our favor and within a day. Finally, Tom attended our closing and even brought us a bottle of champagne to celebrate, which was truly a nice touch. If you’re thinking of purchasing a home in the Northern Virginia area, there’s really no other choice than The Belt Team.”

Thanks for taking the time to write Ian. It was our pleasure to help you make dreams come true. WELCOME HOME!

Our mission is “Changing Lives For The Better”. If it’s time to change YOURS, click here to schedule your Buyer Consultation online or call (703) 242-3975. No cost. No obligation!

Search our state-of-the-art home search site

FREE, Instant Home Valuation

Top Realtors Northern VA

Home Buyers – Don’t Let Your Heart Get Broken

Most people looking for a new home start their search online. In fact, according to the NAR, 43% of home buyers used the internet as the first step in their search. And 92% of buyers used the internet in some way as part of their search.

We don’t have statistics for this next fact, but based on our experience we can tell you it’s more common than not.

“Buyers shopping for homes often have their hearts broken.”

In fact, we are so sure of this fact that if you are a Buyer yourself, we will hazard a guess this has happened to you. You search and search and search. All of a sudden you find THE house online. The one you’ve been looking for. The PERFECT one. You call the agent. And it turns out it’s already under contract. Or maybe it’s already even SOLD! Many buyers who come to us have had this happen over and over before they started working with The Belt Team. Don’t let this happen to you. Because once you see the perfect house – nothing else will seem to compare.

Broken Heart - The House Is Already Sold

If you do a Google search for homes, your search will often yield info about homes that are not on the market. Even if you use the most popular search sites like Zillow, Trulia or Realtor.com – you’ll often gather inaccurate or untimely search results.

What’s the answer?

Use the same service that we as Realtors use to help our clients find homes. It feeds directly from the local MLS and is updated more frequently than other sites. Our team invests tens of thousands of dollars per year to have access to this system. (Note: This is just ONE of many special technologies we pay for to enhance our clients’ real estate experience. Per NAR, the average Realtor only spends $848/yr.)

Yes, you will need to register to use it. The system is really easy to use, and it has so many bells and whistles that we want to ensure you are finding EXACTLY what you’re looking for. Time is money. And YOUR time is valuable. Don’t waste it looking at homes that may not be available.

Try it out. We’re pretty sure you’ll like it. (And by the way – it’s FREE to you and there is NO obligation.)

State-of-the-Art Home Search

(We also have a FREE, Instant Home Valuation Tool if you have a home to sell and are wondering what it might be worth.)

Search Northern VA Homes For Sale

The Belt Team is one of the top teams in the world for Keller Williams Realty, the largest real estate company. This is why we have access to tools such as our state-of-the-art home search site. But more important than numbers are people. Every client is important to us. Our mission statement is “Changing Lives For The Better“. If it’s time to change YOURS, give us a call at (703) 242-3975.

(Read what clients have posted about our agents Terry Belt, Kevin Kleifges, Tom Reilly, Beth Dadisman, Gail Belt, Martin Bristow & The Belt Team on independent site ZIllow.com here.)

Selling A Home In Northern VA? Meet Our Buyers!

Northern VA Home BuyersThe Belt TeamDownsizing Your Home Northern VA Real Estate

One of the benefits Belt Team clients have is the fact that we work with so many different Buyers & Sellers each year. It’s not unusual that we can “match-make”. We’ve sold many homes before they hit the market because we keep an active list of Buyers we’re working with (imagine saving the inconvenience of having your home in “showing condition” day after day after day). And we’vee found many homes for our Buyers before they hit the market (which is an added bonus in today’s competitive market of low inventory!).

We currently have quite a few Buyers who are ready to move and who have no home sale contingencies. “Help Us Help The Homeless”! Call (703) 242-3975 if our Buyers look like a match for you or if you would like to get on our “Meet Our Buyers” List!

MEET OUR BUYERS  . . .

(Note: Our active buyer list fluctuates daily and also includes buyers who prefer not to be listed here – especially in the upper ranges. We have buyers in almost all areas of Fairfax, Loudoun, Arlington & more! Make sure to call (703) 242-3975 to check the full list!)

  • A professional couple with two teenage children are looking for a townhome walking distance from Metro in the Marshall High School District. Their ideal price is up to $700,000.
  • A young professional couple, both engineers employed by the government, are looking for a townhome near Gallows Road, Dunn Loring area is ideal. Their ideal price is below $550,000.
  • A dentist and his lovely wife and daughter want to live in the Westbriar Elementary District in Vienna. They would love to find a colonial that has been updated with an open floor plan. Their ideal home has a private back yard and can be priced up to $800,000.
  • First time home buyers seek a single family home in Falls Church or Annandale, with commuting access to the District, priced close to $400,000.
  • A professional couple renting in Reston is seeking a home in Reston or Herndon, priced under $450,000. Their ideal home is a single family near or in the Town of Herndon, or an updated townhome in Reston or Herndon.
  • An architect and an artist seek an open floor plan home. A townhome or single family with small yard will fit their needs. They would even consider building a home if land was available for $400,000 or less.
  • An investor seeks a cash purchase in Pimmit Hills where he owns several properties already. He can close in a week for the right opportunity.
  • A professional couple currently living in Ballston seeks a single family home, completely updated or renovated, with a master suite, finished lower level with bedroom suite, screened porch, and a fenced yard for their Welsh Corgi. Their price range is in line with their needs, up to $1.3M.
  • A World Bank employee is seeking a two bedroom, two bath condo in Vienna near metro, priced at $220,000 or lower.
  • A renter in Hawthorne Village seeks a condo to purchase in that development.
  • A family living in Vienna seeks an upgrade to their current home. Ideally, the home will back to woods and have a deck, patio or other outdoor enjoyment area. The home needs to be updated, with renovations to the master bath and kitchen. A finished walk out basement is ideal. Their price and buying power reflects their needs, an ideal range is under $1,000,000.
  • Four buyers looking for single family homes in Vienna under $600,000.

Call Terry Belt & The Belt Team at (703) 242-3975 if our Buyers look like a match for you or if you would like to get on our “Meet Our Buyers” List!