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!

“Love It” Or “List It” – Is That On YOUR Mind?

Have you seen the show on HGTV called “Love It Or List It“?

If you haven’t seen it, the story each week is of a family who is debating whether to renovate their home or whether to move. Sometimes their existing home is really out of date. Sometimes the family has grown & they need more space. So they invite in a designer and a Realtor to discuss their options.

Home Renovation

They discuss their budget, and analyze their needs & wants. The designer makes & executes a design plan to renovate the home. And the Realtor takes the owners out to look at what their budget would allow them to buy. Once the renovation is complete (and there are ALWAYS problems with the renovation on the show), the owners decide whether to stay in their renovated home (“LOVE IT”) or whether to sell & buy a new home (“LIST IT”).

The show itself is of course very dramatic and there are problems after problems. The husband & wife always disagree. The designer always runs into road blocks. And their budget never seems to go as far as they want. And yet, there is ALWAYS a Cinderella ending where the family is uber happy.

Despite some of the “only on TV exaggerations”, this scenario is one that many of our clients deal with. They wonder whether they should “right size” their home. Should they renovate & stay, or sell and move into a larger home? Should they adapt their home as they age and stay in it? Or should they sell and down size into something with less maintenance?

And The Belt Team can help with that. Not only do we know the market well and can advise you on which changes are saleable, which add value and which changes may negatively impact resale value of your home; we also are in touch with designers, builders, contractors and more who can meet with you to discuss the options.

One of the members of our team went through this scenario. We thought you might enjoy a sample before & after picture. She lived in her home in Vienna since the 80’s when it was brand new. After 26 years of family living, it was time to make a change. So – it was time to decide – “love it” or “list it”. She chose to renovate and ended up loving it. A before & after picture of the kitchen is below. Stay tuned for more pictures and an upcoming post with her “Top 10 Tips To Survive A Renovation”!

Kitchen renovated by Dominion Associates Inc in Vienna VA
Kitchen renovated by Dominion Associates Inc

Kitchen Before: Vinyl flooring, laminate countertops, flourescent lighting, maple cabinets, rose wallpaper, cream appliances, only one oven

Kitchen After: Hardwood floors, granite countertops, additional counterspace/breakfast bar, tile backsplash, white cabinets including some glass front, recessed & pendant lighting, stainless steel appliances, two ovens

Call The Belt Team at (703) 242-3975. We can help you decide whether to “love it” or “list it”!

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

Thinking of Downsizing? 4 Tips To Simplify Your Life!

The Belt Team works with many clients who are downsizing. (And we like to call it “right sizing.”) So why do people think about moving “down” and how can you simplify the process?

Downsizing Your Home Northern VA Real Estate  Halstead at The Metro II

Here are the most common reasons our clients “right size” to a smaller home:

Travel – A smaller home is easier to maintain. And that means they can travel more – visit grandchildren – or take those trips they’ve always dreamed of. This is not uncommon with empty nesters.

Health – Sometimes their current home is just too much to take care of on top of whatever health concerns they are dealing with.

Financial Freedom – Some people bite off more than they can chew. Or their priorities change (or their job situation) and they don’t want to be tied down to a big mortgage payment.

Commuting Time – Buying a condo or townhouse closer to the city might be enticing after commuting an hour each way in order to have that single family home.

Age – Perhaps it’s time to move into a community where you can get the extra assistance you need and/or have more opportunity for recreation and cultural activities. And maybe it’s time for a place without stairs.

Here are 4 Tips To Simplify Downsizing:

1. Plan Ahead

Schedule appointments with your financial advisor, your Realtor and your lender. Each one will walk you through a variety of things you’ll need to either do or think about: cash flow, market conditions, important amenities, lifestyle changes, tax considerations & more.

And don’t wait until you HAVE to move. As soon as the thought crosses your mind – start gathering information. This will make it SO much less stressful when the time comes. My parents moved several years ago. After 30+ years in the same town, the move was emotional. They didn’t “have to” move at the time, but they were starting to think about things like stairs and maintenance of such a large home. Not long after they moved, Dad fell & became very ill. If they had still been living in the big house, his road back to “normalcy” would have been long extended. But since they were in their condo by that time, he was able to come home so much sooner. Looking back now, they are so happy they moved when they did.

2. Start Educating Yourself To The Market

Online searches are a great way to see what your money will buy AND see what range your current home might sell for. You may find you have to compromise some of your wish list or you might find your money buys more than you think.

3. Family Is An Easy Way To Simplify

If you have children (or grandchildren) who may benefit from some of the “things” you’re ready to let go of, but you’re not ready for those cherished items to leave the family; make family holidays a “shopping time”. Send each visitor home with a (re)gift! You could also enlist one of the younger generation to help you sell unwanted items on Craig’s List. Offer them a percentage of the sales – and you have a win-win. Less clutter for your home. And you’re helping teach entrepreneurial skills & hard work!

4. Open House Instead of Garage Sale

When my parents moved, they had an open house. It was like a garage sale, except the items were free. They were moving from a huge house where they entertained a lot – to a smaller condominium, and Mom had so many lovely things she just didn’t use any more. She wanted to know that they were going to someone who would enjoy using them the way she did. We set up tables and displayed all the items – silver platters, crystal, percolaters, linens. Mom invited folks over – a number of whom were friends in my generation. They were so excited. I still have a friend who talks about how awesome Mom’s turkey roaster is! (They don’t make them like they used to.) Not only did this help clear her house of clutter and make moving easier – it was also a nice way for Mom to connect with folks before she moved.

The Belt Team has helped hundreds of clients downsize. And some on our team have even downsized themselves! If “rightsizing” is in your future, call Terry Belt & The Belt Team at (703) 242-3975. We are happy to meet with you and walk you through all kinds of helpful ideas to help you make the RIGHT move!

Search Homes For Sale in Northern VA On Our State-of-the-Art Search Site

FREE – How Much Is My Home Worth

The Belt Team’s Mission Statement is “Changing Lives For The Better“. if it’s time to change yours, call (703) 242-3975 today!

Downsizing Your Home

Downsizing Made Easy – 4 Tips To Simplify

The Belt Team works with many clients who are downsizing. (We like to call it “right sizing.”) There are a number of reasons people think about moving “down”:

Downsizing Your Home Northern VA Real Estate

Travel – Some of our clients downsize to a home that’s easier to maintain so they can travel more – visit grandchildren – or take those trips they’ve always dreamed of. This is not uncommon with empty nesters.

Health – Maybe your current home is just too much for you to take care of on top of whatever health concerns you are dealing with.

Financial Freedom – Some people bite off more than they can chew. Or their priorities change (or their job situation) and they don’t want to be tied down to a big mortgage payment.

Commuting Time – Buying a condo or townhouse closer to the city might be enticing after commuting an hour each way in order to have that single family home.

Age – Perhaps it’s time to move into a community where you can get the extra assistance you need and/or have more opportunity for recreation and cultural activities. And maybe it’s time for a place without stairs.

Here are 4 Tips To Simplify Downsizing:

1. Plan Ahead

Schedule appointments with your financial advisor, your Realtor and your lender. Each one will walk you through a variety of things you’ll need to either do or think about: cash flow, market conditions, important amenities, lifestyle changes, tax considerations & more.

And don’t wait until you HAVE to move. As soon as the thought crosses your mind – start gathering information. This will make it SO much less stressful when the time comes. My parents moved several years ago. After 30+ years in the same town, the move was emotional. They didn’t “have to” move at the time, but they were starting to think about things like stairs and maintenance of such a large home. Not long after they moved, Dad fell & became very ill. If they had still been living in the big house, his road back to “normalcy” would have been long extended. But since they were in their condo by that time, he was able to come home so much sooner. Looking back now, they are so happy they moved when they did.

2. Start Educating Yourself To The Market

Online searches are a great way to see what your money will buy AND see what range your current home might sell for. You may find you have to compromise some of your wish list or you might find your money buys more than you think.

3. Family Is An Easy Way To Simplify

If you have children (or grandchildren) who may benefit from some of the “things” you’re ready to let go of, but you’re not ready for them to leave the family; make family holidays a “shopping time”. Send each visitor home with a (re)gift! You could also enlist one of the younger generation to help you sell unwanted items on Craig’s List. Offer them a percentage of the sales – and you have a win-win. Less clutter for your home. And you’re helping teach entrepreneurial skills & hard work!

4. Open House Instead of Garage Sale

When my parents moved, they had an open house. It was like a garage sale, except the items were free. They were moving from a huge house where they entertained a lot – to a smaller condominium, and Mom had so many lovely things she just didn’t use any more. She wanted to know that they were going to someone who would enjoy using them the way she did. We set up tables and displayed all the items – silver platters, crystal, percolaters, linens. Mom invited folks over – a number of whom were friends in my generation. They were so excited. I still have a friend who talks about how awesome Mom’s turkey roaster is! (They don’t make them like they used to.) Not only did this help clear her house of clutter and make moving easier – it was also a nice way for Mom to connect with folks before she moved.

The Belt Team has helped hundreds of clients downsize. And some on our team have even downsized themselves! If “rightsizing” is in your future, give us a call today at (703) 242-3975. We are happy to meet with you and walk you through all kinds of helpful ideas to help you make the RIGHT move!

Search Homes For Sale in Northern VA On Our State-of-the-Art Search Site

FREE – How Much Is My Home Worth

The Belt Team’s Mission Statement is “Changing Lives For The Better“. if it’s time to change yours, call (703) 242-3975 today!

Downsizing Your Home

Dynamic Duo Strikes Again

Last year, our team implemented a new model. We call it our “Secret Weapon”. Our Lead Buyer Agent Tom Reilly, works in tandem with our Showing Partner Beth Dadisman. We have always worked as specialists on our team, but we took it to the next level in an effort serve our clients even better. Tom does the initial Buyer Consultation & Needs Analysis, Tom & Beth both search out the best properties, Beth previews & shows homes, and Tom negotiates the contract. Our clients Ben & Carissa Decker just posted a review on independent site Zillow.com and it’s a great testimony to how well our system worked for them.

Tom Reilly and Beth Dadisman

Carissa flew in from out of town to look at homes and she only had a very short amount of time. In preparation, Showing Specialist Beth Dadisman previewed more than 30 homes in a variety of cities – Ashburn, Herndon, Sterling, Centreville, Chantilly & more. The goal was to make the most of Carissa’s time here and not waste time looking at homes that wouldn’t meet her criteria. You see, you can’t tell everything from the pictures on the internet or the MLS. They don’t always show how busy the street is, the power lines in the backyard, or even how poor the condition is. Carissa knew what she was looking for. And so did we. The days spent ahead of time on previewing meant that Carissa & ben were able to accomplish their goal and do so in their desired timeframe.

Congrats Carissa & Ben. And welcome home!

Read more about how our showing partner strategy helps you compete in today’s market.

Search Homes For Sale in Northern VA On Our State-of-the-Art Search Site

I Want Buy A Home & Schedule a FREE Buyer Consultation

I Want To Sell A Home & Schedule a FREE Seller Consultation

FREE – How Much Is My Home Worth

 

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!

Search Homes For Sale in Northern Virginia

What Is My Home Worth?

 

New Strategy Helps Homebuyers Compete in Low Inventory Markets

If you’re trying to buy a home in Northern Virginia, you’re well aware that inventory in many areas is just about as low as we’ve ever seen. And it’s been that way all year.

Some buyers & agents are walking around wringing their hands about how their buyers just can’t compete. Or how they lost out on that perfect home because it sold before they even knew it was on the market.

Instead, we like to think outside the box (just look at our car!) And so this year, we searched high & low for what we call our secret weapon – and we implemented the Showing Partner Model.

Northern VA Real Estate Marketing       The Belt Team Buyer Model

The concept is based on a study that was discussed at length in the book “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell. Basically, the idea is that mastery of a skill to the point of greatness (whether that’s art, athletics, public speaking, music or negotiation) comes with 10,000 hours spent practicing & developing the skill. We decided to apply that study to our business (because our buyers & sellers deserve GREAT, not just good.)

Here’s how the Showing Partner Model works.

Our Lead Buyer Specialist (Tom Reilly) and our Showing Partner (Beth Dadisman) work in tandem. Instead of the traditional model where one agent does everything (or two agents work together to “cover” for one another), our buyers have two agents each working at their specialty – and both working directly with the buyer. That way – each one is twice as good at their particular area of expertise because they hone that skill twice as often. (We do the same thing for our Sellers – with a Listing Specialist and Client Care Manager.)

STEP 1: CONSULTATION

Buyers meet with both Tom & Beth for an initial consultation (no cost, no obligation). You discuss:

  • What you are looking for IN DETAIL
  • Why you are moving
  • Timeframe needed
  • General market overview
  • Market analysis of your target area
  • Financing/costs/loan pre-approval
  • Strategy

STEP 2: LOOK AT HOMES

Beth Dadisman Realtor The Belt Team
Beth Dadisman
Showing Partner

Beth specializes in knowing the market, showing houses and identifying exactly the right home for our buyers. Because that’s all she does (she does not write contracts, negotiate, etc) – she is SO much more knowledgeable than the average agent. She’s like a hawk stalking the market, swooping in for the kill. (That sounds a bit harsh and she’s really a sweet person, but she looks out for her buyers big time!) And she saves them tons of time because she doesn’t show properties that are not a good fit for the criteria they have identified. (We also have a state-of-the-art home search website that our buyers use. It’s faster and more up-to-date than others, so they see new listings first & don’t miss out!)

STEP 3: NEGOTIATION OF CONTRACT

Tom Reilly Buyer Specialist Northern VA Real Estate
Tom Reilly
Lead Buyer Specialist

Tom, who not only is a top-notch, experienced Realtor, also has a legal and technology background. His role is Master Negotiator. When you find that “perfect” home, he moves fast & furious to get the wheels turning. Tom also provides a second set of eyes and an objective perspective on the property you have identified – making sure you are aware of such things as potential resale challenges – so that you are well informed when making an offer.

RESULTS

With inventory so low, the Showing Partner Model is a HUGE advantage. Some buyers have to wait around until their agent has time to show them homes (we had one client whose previous Realtor would only show homes after 6PM!). But between Tom & Beth (and the rest of our team) – our buyers get almost 24/7 coverage. The same thing happens when it’s time to write a contract. Some buyers finish looking at the house and then have to wait for their agent to drive back to their office, draw up the contract and send them the paperwork. In our case, Beth is so skilled at knowing the market and knowing her buyers, that she often has already told Tom which home she thinks the buyers will love. And Tom has already talked to the listing agent and gotten the paperwork rolling.

Here’s how recent buyer Mike Taphorn described it: “Beth from the Belt Team helped us find the home that we were looking for. We were indecisive about whether to stay in Fairfax County or move to Prince William County, and Beth patiently showed us homes in both Gainesville and Clifton/Centreville areas until we found the home we were looking for. And Beth was the one who found, and helped us jump on this listing before it drew too much competition.  Beth’s partner Tom also played a key role in negotiating the sales contract and contingencies until we reached settlement.

Happy Belt Team Buyers -Taphorn

One of our favorite buyer success stories from the Showing Partner Model came earlier this year when we identified what we thought would be a dream home for our buyers the Pogors. We showed the property & the buyers fell in love. But it was Friday and an open house was scheduled for Sunday. Tom not only got the contract executed & presented so well & so fast, but also convinced the Seller to respond and ratify the contract and cancel the open house (which was a HUGE relief to our buyers since it likely would have resulted in competing contracts and a higher sales price IF they even got the home.)

Happy Belt Team Buyers - Iulina and Tatiana Pogor-Oct 2013

If you’re ready to buy a home in Northern Virginia – contact The Belt Team’s very own Dynamic Duo – Tom Reilly & Beth Dadisman TODAY to schedule your FREE consultation.

Unusual Mortgage Financing May Help You!

Box with Bow

Mortgage underwriters (the people who actually “approve” your loan when you’re buying a house or refinancing) like to think that everyone fits into a little square box with a nice big ribbon on top. But homebuyers are not all the same.

If you have a situation that may be a bit outside the box, don’t worry. We have a wonderful resource for portfolio loans in Northern Virginia! (Portfolio loans are loans that are held by the lender, rather than being sold on the secondary market. As a result, the lender can often be more flexible in their underwriting guidelines.)

Here are some examples where our lender partner may be able to help you:

Check MarkYOU’RE SELF-EMPLOYED– but have been self-employed for less than the standard 2 year requirement. Our lender can work with just 1 year of self-employed or commission income..

Check Mark YOU’RE A FOREIGN NATIONAL

Check MarkYOU’RE FINANCING A LUXURY HOME and only want to make a 15-20% down payment. Our lender can do 85% LTV to $1 million and 80% LTV to $1.5 million  (owner occupied.)

Northern VA Mortgage FinancingThere are lots of other ways our lender can help. If you don’t fit inside that neatly wrapped borrower gift box, and you want to buy or refinance a home in Northern VA – don’t give up! Reach out to our lender, Paul Diaz with New Penn Financial. There’s a good chance he can help!

“Love It” Or “List It” In Northern Virginia

Have you seen the show on HGTV called “Love It Or List It“?

If you haven’t seen it, the premise each week is that there is a family who is debating whether to renovate their home or whether to move. Sometimes their existing home is really out of date. Sometimes the family has grown & they need more space. So they invite in a designer and a Realtor to discuss their options.

Home Renovation

They discuss their budget, and analyze their needs & wants. The designer makes & executes a design plan to renovate the home. And the Realtor takes the owners out to look at what their budget would allow them to buy. Once the renovation is complete (and there are ALWAYS problems with the renovation on the show), the owners decide whether to stay in their renovated home (“LOVE IT”) or whether to sell & buy a new home (“LIST IT”).

The show itself is of course very dramatic and there are problems after problems. The husband & wife always disagree. The designer always runs into road blocks. And their budget never seems to go as far as they want. And yet, there is always a Cinderella ending where the family is uber happy.

Despite some of the “only on TV exaggerations”, this scenario is one that many of our clients deal with. They wonder whether they should “right size” their home. Should they renovate & stay, or sell and move into a larger home? Should they adapt their home as they age and stay in it? Or should they sell and down size into something with less maintenance?

And The Belt Team can help with that. Not only do we know the market well and can advise you on which changes are saleable, which add value and which changes may negatively impact resale value of your home; we also are in touch with designers, builders, contractors and more who can meet with you to discuss the options.

One of the members of our team recently went through this scenario. We thought you might enjoy a sample before & after picture. She has lived in her home in Vienna since 1986 when it was brand new. After 26 years of family living, it was time to make a change. So – it was time to decide – “love it” or “list it”. She chose to renovate and ended up loving it. A before & after picture of the kitchen is below. Stay tuned for more pictures and an upcoming post with her “Top 10 Tips To Survive A Renovation”!

Kitchen renovated by Dominion Associates Inc in Vienna VA
Kitchen renovated by Dominion Associates Inc

Kitchen Before: Vinyl flooring, laminate countertops, flourescent lighting, maple cabinets, rose wallpaper, cream appliances, only one oven

Kitchen After: Hardwood floors, granite countertops, additional counterspace/breakfast bar, tile backsplash, white cabinets including some glass front, recessed & pendant lighting, stainless steel appliances, two ovens

Call The Belt Team at (703) 242-3975. We can help you decide whether to “love it” or “list it”!