Doing Real Estate Safely

The Belt Team has been hard at work adapting to today’s new realities in the real estate market. Thanks to our wonderful technology partners, we are still able to help people in these uncertain times.

If you or anyone you know needs to buy or sell a home but are not sure how to proceed at this time, please click the link below to see how our team has created a safe and effective strategy to help you to accomplish your real estate goals – SAFELY – whether buying a home, selling a home, or both.

https://thebeltteam.com/safety

Then give us a call to discuss your specific real estate needs – 703-242-3975!

The Belt Team is Here to Help!

Dear Belt Team Clients, Friends and Family, 

During this uncertain time, the world is definitely changing but the real estate market in our area is still active and moving. And…The Belt Team is still open for business! After being in business for over 50 years, we have been through challenging and unpredictable times before and we have learned the real estate market never drops to “zero”. Why? Because we work with people in the “traditional” market, meaning they have to buy and sell because of life changes. Even during this difficult time, that is not going to change. Housing is an essential need and we are here to help.  

We are well positioned to make the necessary modifications to accommodate the needs of our clients and business partners because of our extensive use of technology in our business as well as our years of experience. Along with implementing recommended sanitizing measures for in-person meetings, open houses, and showings, we are excited to be able to continue to offer virtual options for our services which we have been doing for certain people even before the Coronavirus arrived. We can conduct virtual buyer and seller consultations, virtual tours/open houses for our seller clients, virtual showings for our buyer clients, etc. As for our partners in the industry, mortgage and title companies, home inspectors, appraisers, contractors, photographers, etc.. .they are still operating and business is creatively being done. These companies are also taking all necessary precautions and adjusting as needed for their clients. We have great relationships with our lenders and title companies and are in touch with them daily to ensure that our clients are able to complete their transactions. 

Our local markets are still very healthy. The inventory of homes before now was so historically low and real demand for housing so high that we have not yet seen a negative impact on the housing market. Aggregate showing activity has decreased as those that are not buying now are not browsing as much; however, the real buyers who need housing now continue unabated and we continue to see a homes go under contract quickly. Bottom line, if you are needing/wanting to buy and/or sell we recommend acting NOW before things possibly change that affect available housing, access to housing, interest rates and loan qualifying criteria, and the unpredictable.  

We know there are going to be people that need to buy or sell because of life circumstances and these people have been the lifeblood of our business. So, if you or anyone you know fits this category, we would love to connect, share our market knowledge and create a customized strategy to make your real estate needs and dreams come true. You can reach us at Info@TheBeltTeam.com or 703-242-3975

And, of course, if there is anything non real estate related that we can do to help you through this time, please DO NOT hesitate to reach out.  

Please stay safe and healthy as we all look forward to the better times ahead!   

Terry, Gail, Beth, Patty and Sarina

The Belt Team

Coronavirus and the Real Estate Market

How is the coronavirus affecting the real estate market? Terry Belt shares what we are seeing in Northern Virginia. Give him a call at 703-242-3975 to discuss your goals and create a strategy during this challenging time for everyone.

Housing Inventory Vanishing: What Is the Impact on You?

Housing Inventory Vanishing: What Is the Impact on You? | MyKCM

The real estate market is expected to do very well this year as mortgage rates remain at historic lows. One challenge to the housing industry is the lack of homes available for sale. Last week, move.com released a report showing that 2020 is beginning with the lowest available housing inventory in two years. The report explains:

“Last month saw the largest year-over-year decline of housing inventory in almost three years with a dramatic 12 percent decline, pushing the number of homes for sale in the U.S. to the lowest level since January 2018.”

The report also revealed that the decline in inventory stretches across all price points, as shown in the following graph:

Housing Inventory Vanishing: What Is the Impact on You? | MyKCM

George Ratiu, Senior Economist at realtor.com, explains how this drop in available homes for sale comes at a time when more buyers are expected to enter the market:

“The market is struggling with a large housing undersupply just as 4.8 million millennials are reaching 30-years of age in 2020, a prime age for many to purchase their first home. The significant inventory drop…is a harbinger of the continuing imbalance expected to plague this year’s markets, as the number of homes for sale are poised to reach historically low levels.”

The question is: What does this mean to you?

If You’re a Buyer…

Be patient during your home search. It may take time to find a home you love. Once you do, however, be ready to move forward quickly. Get pre-approved for a mortgage, be ready to make a competitive offer from the start, and understand that a shortage in inventory could lead to the resurgence of bidding wars. Calculate just how far you’re willing to go to secure a home, if you truly love it.

If You’re a Seller…

Realize that, in some ways, you’re in the driver’s seat. When there is a shortage of an item at the same time there is a strong demand for that item, the seller of that item is in a good position to negotiate. Whether it is price, moving date, possible repairs, or anything else, you’ll be able to demand more from a potential purchaser at a time like this – especially if you have multiple interested buyers. Don’t be unreasonable, but understand you probably have the upper hand.

Bottom Line

The housing market will remain strong throughout 2020. And it will be very important to work with an experienced agent who can help you understand what that means to you, whether you’re buying, selling, or doing both. That’s where The Belt Team comes in…give us a call or send us an email to help you navigate this market. We’ve been in business for over 50 years and have sold over $1 Billion in transactions throughout the years. It would be our pleasure to work with you and make your dreams come true!

703-242-3975 | Info@TheBeltTeam.com

National Cut Your Energy Costs Day

National Cut Your Energy Costs Day [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights:

  • On January 10th of each year, “National Cut Your Energy Costs Day” encourages consumers to reduce their overall energy costs by improving home efficiency.
  • According to Freddie Mac, a typical U.S. family spends $2,200 per year on energy bills. By making energy efficient upgrades, you could reduce your energy bills by up to 30%.
  • To assess the energy efficiency of your home and see how it measures up, take a moment to check out Home Energy Yardstick to calculate your estimated opportunity. Don’t forget to have your energy bills nearby!

The New Spring Real Estate Market is Here. Are You Ready?

The New Spring Real Estate Market is Here. Are You Ready? | MyKCM

Which month do you think most people who are considering buying a home actually start their search? If you’re like most of us, you probably think the surge happens in the spring, likely in April. Not anymore. According to new research, January 2019 was only 1% behind February for the most monthly views per listing on realtor.com.

So, what does that mean? The busiest season in real estate has just begun.

The same research indicates,

“Historically, April launched the kickoff of the home shopping season as buyers would come out of their winter hibernation looking for their new home. However, the spring shopping season now starts in January for many of the nation’s largest markets.”

With the reality of fewer homes on the market in the winter, and that supply naturally increases as we head to the spring market, waiting for more competition to list in your neighborhood this year might put you behind the curve. Perhaps now is the time to jump into the market.

George Ratiu, Senior Economist at realtor.com says,

“As shoppers modify their strategies for navigating a housing market that has become more competitive due to rising prices and low inventory, the search for a home is beginning earlier and earlier.”

There is a lot of speculation in the market about why the search for a home is shifting to an earlier start. The one thing we do know is if you’re thinking about buying or selling a home this year, the earlier you get started, the better.

Reminder: When should you sell something? When there is less of that item for sale and the greatest number of buyers are in the market. That’s exactly what is happening in real estate right now.

Bottom Line

The new spring market for real estate is underway! If you’re considering buying or selling, NOW is the time to connect, so you have the advantage in this competitive market. Give us a call at 703-242-3975 or email info@thebeltteam.com.

What is the Best Investment for Americans?

What is the Best Investment for Americans? | MyKCM

Some are reporting that there is trepidation regarding the real estate market in the United States. Apparently, the American people are quite comfortable.

Porch.com, a major network helping homeowners with their renovation projects, recently conducted a survey which asked Americans:

“What do you believe is the safest investment over the next 10 years?”

U.S. housing came in at number one, beating out other investments such as gold, stocks, bonds, and savings.

Here is a graph showing the top five investments Americans selected:

What is the Best Investment for Americans? | MyKCM

The findings of the Porch.com survey also coincide with two previous surveys done earlier this year:

  1. The Federal Reserve Bank’s 2019 Consumer Expectations Housing Survey reported that 65% of Americans believe homeownership is a good financial investment, and that the percentage has increased in each of the last four years.
  2. The Gallup survey showed that Americans have picked real estate as the “best” investment for six straight years.

Bottom Line

Based on all three surveys done this year, we can see that Americans still believe in homeownership as a great investment, and that feeling continues to grow.

Contact The Belt Team if you are thinking of purchasing real estate…we have over 50 years of experience and would love to help! 703-242-3975 | info@thebeltteam.com

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!

Selling Your Home During The Holidays – Good Idea or Bad?

As Thanksgiving approaches, we often get the question, “Should I wait to go on the market until after the holidays?” or “My home is on the market now, should I take it off during the holidays?”. Well, the answer is “It depends“! Here are some things you might want to consider if you’re thinking of selling your home during the holidays (and you can start here with a FREE online estimate of what your home is worth.)

  • If your home is already on the market, it may be a good idea to stay on the market. Buyers who are looking at homes during the holidays are usually “Real Buyers” and not just “lookie-loos”. Beth Dadisman, Buyer Specialist for The Belt Team, says “I have multiple buyers who are VERY motivated to buy during this timeframe.” And Gail Belt, Founding Partner of The Belt Team says, “My experience is that Buyers who are out looking at property during the holidays tend to be serious buyers. There may not be as many people looking at your house, but the ones who come NEED to buy or they wouldn’’t be out looking at this time of year.” Beth added, “My husband and I have moved 3 times in January. So we were some of those serious buyers looking in December!”
  • During the holidays, many Sellers take their homes off the market. This means we often see inventory drop and therefore if you’re on the market, you may have less competition.  However, it depends on your situation.  We advise many of our sellers to stay on the market. We can work with you to restrict showings on special days like Thanksgiving. But selling now before Spring competition picks up might be in your best interests.  Terry Belt, CEO of The Belt Team adds, “If you do go off the market now, consider coming back on immediately in the new year. In many areas, homes sell for more money in January-February than they do in the typical “Spring Market”  of March-April.”
  • What is your true motivation? Do you truly want/need to sell? If you’re just “testing the market” (IE – if you are not realistically pricing your home to what TODAY’S Buyers are willing to pay), then now is NOT the time to go on the market. Your home will likely not sell, and then when Spring arrives – your home will be “stale on the market”.  Prospective Buyers may wonder what’s wrong with your home and why has it been on the market so long.  (This is true at any time of year. Overpricing stigmatizes your home and hurts your eventual bottom line significantly.)
  • Set your expectations properly.”  Plan accordingly and prepare yourself & your family to be ready to juggle preparation & showings with other seasonal activities. (And if you have little ones, maybe Santa’s upcoming visit will encourage them to keep their rooms clean!)
  • Some Sellers really should wait until Spring. While most homes look better in the Spring when the trees fill out & flowers are in bloom, this is not usually a reason to wait for Spring. (That’s what everyone does and that just means more competition.) However, some homes are an exception to this rule. For example, Terry Belt shares, “We had a listing that backed to a cemetery. And while some people like that idea (quiet neighbors!), most people don’t like the reminder when they look out the window of their home. This is an item that can severely impact salability and price. In this case, we advised our Sellers to wait a few extra months and put their home on the market when trees were fully blossomed and the cemetery was not visible. You cannot get rid of extraneous factors like a cemetery, but you can mitigate their impact.”
  • If you do go on the market, don’t forget that Buyers looking at your home are trying to picture themselves & their families in your home. This is hard to do if your home is over-decorated with holiday knick knacks. You may want to be a little more restrained than you normally would be when putting up your decorations.  Too many decorations can also make your rooms look smaller than they really are. In addition, Winter is a dark time of year, so make sure you keep your home as light-filled as possible. Open the drapes, raise the blinds and turn on all your lights. The few extra pennies will be worth it!

If you need help working through what is the best time to put your home on the market, contact The Belt Team at (703) 242-3975. Every situation is different and we would be happy to help you figure out what is best for YOU!

FREE online estimate of what your home is worth.

5 Reasons to Sell This Fall

5 Reasons to Sell This Fall | MyKCM

Below are 5 compelling reasons listing your home for sale this fall makes sense.

1. Demand Is Strong

The latest Buyer Traffic Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that buyer demand remains strong throughout the vast majority of the country. These buyers are ready, willing, and able to purchase…and are in the market right now. More often than not, in many areas of the country, multiple buyers are competing with each other to buy the same home.

Take advantage of the buyer activity currently in the market.

2. There Is Less Competition Now

Housing inventory is still under the 6-month supply that is needed for a normal market. This means that in the majority of the country, there are not enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of buyers.

Historically, a homeowner would stay an average of six years in his or her home. Since 2011, that number has hovered between nine and ten years. There is a pent-up desire for many homeowners to move as they were unable to sell over the last few years due to a negative equity situation. As home values continue to appreciate, more and more homeowners will be given the freedom to move.

Many homeowners were reluctant to list their homes over the last couple years, for fear that they would not find a home to move to. That is all changing now as more homes come to market at the higher end. The choices buyers have will continue to increase. Don’t wait until additional inventory comes to market before you decide to sell.

3. The Process Will Be Quicker

Today’s competitive environment has forced buyers to do all they can to stand out from the crowd, including getting pre-approved for their mortgage financing. This makes the entire selling process much faster and simpler, as buyers know exactly what they can afford before shopping for a home. According to Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Insights Report, the time needed to close a loan is 43 days.

4. There Will Never Be a Better Time to Move Up

If your next move will be into a premium or luxury home, now is the time to move up. There is currently ample inventory for sale at higher price ranges. This means if you’re planning on selling a starter or trade-up home and moving into your dream home, you’ll be able to do that in the luxury or premium market.

According to CoreLogic, prices are projected to appreciate by 5.2% over the next year. If you’re moving to a higher-priced home, it will wind up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage) if you wait.

5. It’s Time to Move on with Your Life

Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and determine whether it is worth waiting. Is money more important than being with family? Is money more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you think you should?

Only you know the answers to these questions. You have the power to take control of the situation by putting your home on the market. Perhaps the time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire.

That is what is truly important.

Call The Belt Team to get the selling process started…our agents & team use their local market knowledge and experience to make it a smooth process for all! 703-242-3975 / info@thebeltteam.com