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 Your House This Summer

5 Reasons to Sell Your House This Summer | MyKCM

Here are 5 compelling reasons listing your home for sale this summer makes sense.

1. Demand Is Strong

The latest Buyer Traffic Index  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, multiple buyers are competing with each other for 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 needed for a normal housing market. This means that, in most of the country, there are not enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of buyers.

Historically, the average number of years a homeowner stayed in his or her home was six, but that number has hovered between nine and ten years since 2011. Many homeowners have a pent-up desire 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 are granted the freedom to move.

Many homeowners were reluctant to list their home over the last couple of years for fear that they would not find a home to move in 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 to 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. Buyers know exactly what they can afford before home shopping. This makes the entire selling process much faster and simpler. According to Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Insights Report, the time to close a loan has dropped to 43 days. (Last numbers available.)

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! The inventory of homes for sale at these higher price ranges has created a buyer’s market. This means that if you are planning on selling a starter or trade-up home, it will sell quickly, AND you’ll be able to find a premium home to call your own!

According to CoreLogic, prices are projected to appreciate by 4.8% over the next year. If you are moving to a higher-priced home, it will wind up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage payment) 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 start living the life you desire.

That is what is truly important.

Thinking of selling? Call/text us at 703-242-3975!

Visit http://www.northernvirginiahousevalues.com for your FREE home valuation.

The KonMari Method: Helping You Prep Your House For Sale

The KonMari Method: Helping You Prep Your House For Sale | MyKCM

One of the biggest challenges sellers face when listing their house is decluttering. Cleaning out some of the more personal decorating choices allows buyers to imagine themselves living in the house.

Those planning to sell soon are in luck! Marie Kondo, the inventor of the KonMari Method of Tidying Up, has gained popularity with her new Netflix series. She gives some great tips for sorting through years of accumulated possessions that we all collect in our homes.

“The KonMari Method™ encourages tidying by category – not by location – beginning with clothes, then moving on to books, papers, komono (miscellaneous items), and, finally, sentimental items. Keep only those things that speak to the heart, and discard items that no longer spark joy. Thank them for their service – then let them go.”

When you subjectively look at all of your belongings, you can sort through the ones that mean the most to you. Not only will you increase space for more joy-bringing items in your new home, but you will also have a much easier time packing remaining belongings!

“Remember, tidying up isn’t about getting rid of stuff. It is about creating an environment that sparks joy and improves your quality of life.”

When selling your house, first impressions matter! Before you or your agent schedule a photographer to take photos for your listing, make sure to tour your home with fresh eyes. Look for any imperfections that a buyer might notice.

When you sort through your more sentimental items, consider packing them away to ensure that you know where they all are. That way, they are safe during open houses and showing appointments. This will also cut down on the amount of packing you need to do right before you move!

Bottom Line

Whether you are selling your house to move up to a larger one, downsizing, or moving in with family, only bring the items that truly spark joy for you. This will not only help cut down on the items you move, but also ensures that you’re off to a great start in your new home!

Thinking about selling? Visit www.TheBeltTeam.com 

Thinking about buying? Visit www.BeltTeamRealEstate.com 

Or give us a call at 703-242-3975

Shhhh! What NOT To Say When Your Home Is On The Market!

Real estate markets around the country differ in terms of the protocol of how showings are handled. In some areas, homes are shown by appointment only with the listing agent present for every showing. In Northern Virginia, it’s customary for buyer agents to let Sellers know when they would like to show the home to their clients. The Seller then lets the agent in or the agent accesses the home through the lockbox that is placed on the door. (Appointment only listings exist, but unless the home is in the multi-million dollar luxury category, this can be a huge detriment to selling.)

This means Sellers are often home when agents come to show. We recommend that our Sellers leave during showings so Buyers can really picture the house as “theirs”. The other reason we recommend they leave is because it’s in their best interests NOT to discuss the following things with the Buyer Agent or the Buyers. Why? Because potential purchasers want to obtain the LOWEST price and BEST terms for themselves. And Buyer Agents represent them, not you.

The conversation might be a casual one. Just a meet & greet as you head out the door. But don’t get caught off guard and end up in the DANGER ZONE!

7 Things Home Sellers Should Not Say

7 Things Sellers Should NOT Discuss With Buyers (or Buyer Agents):

1. Reason for selling

2. Motivation/urgency to sell

3. Willingness to consider an offer less than the listing price

4. Terms under which you would sell

5. Relocation, timing, benefits & policies

6. Items of personal property which you “might” be willing to include in a sale.

7. Any confidential information that would serve to disclose your negotiating strategy.

For more tips about how to sell your home for the highest price, contact Terry Belt & The Belt Team. We are known nationally for our top-notch negotiating skills and Belt Team listings sell FASTER and for MORE MONEY than average. It’s why we are routinely recognized among the best Realtors in Northern VA, and rank in the top realtors in the entire state.

FREE – What Is My Home Worth?

Our mission is “Changing Lives For The Better“. If it’s time to change yours, call Terry Belt & The Belt Team at (703) 242-3975

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

Northern VA Home sales 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. Kevin Kleifges, Belt Team Listing Partner, says: “It depends on your situation. I’m advising most of my 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”. Tom Hanton, Realtor Partner with The Belt Team says “Prospective Buyers will wonder what’s wrong with your home and why it’s 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.” says Kevin. “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” says Tom, “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 – or give Terry Belt or Kevin Kleifges or Tom Hanton a call 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.Best Real Estate Agents in Northern VA

Is August A Good Time To Sell My Home? Or Should I Wait Til September

Sell My Home Now or Wait

“Should I put my home on the market now or wait until September?

This is a question we have recently been asked a lot. And this year’s answer is not the same as it used to be. Conventional thought was that August was a slow real estate month, families were on vacation and if you were thinking of selling, it might be better to wait until September when kids are back in school and more buyers have time to look at homes.

This year, however, we are advising that our Sellers are better served by not waiting to enter the market. Interest rates are rising. And serious buyers are looking now. We’ve had a number of open houses. At each one, there was a larger number of buyers than average. And, the key factor we noticed (very different than in many years past) –  is almost every buyer was represented by a Realtor.

Why is this important? Because the majority of “serious” buyers (buyers who actually buy and are not just “lookie-loos”) have Realtors working on their behalf – especially in a market like today’s where inventory is low and buyers are competing for the same homes.

This puts potential sellers in a great position. Should you wait until September? We say “Carpe Diem!” The time to sell is NOW!

(Buyers – our advice is the same to you as well. Prices are rising and so are interest rates. Each month you wait is costing you money!)

(NOTE: Every situation is not the same. If you’d like a PERSONAL consultation on when we recommend you sell, and what items need doing before that, call The Belt Team at (703) 242-3975. We are happy to meet with you and provide you with 42 Questions You MUST Ask Your Realtor Before Selling A House)

WHat Is My Home Worth

OMG! What Realtors Say To Other Realtors About YOUR House

Home Selling Mistakes

If your home has been on the market, and it’s not selling as fast as you expected, it could be that your home is one of the ones Realtors are talking about to each other! (But don’t worry, these are all fixable issues!)

Here are some real life examples of “What Realtors Say To Other Realtors About YOUR House”:

1. “Interesting” MLS Descriptions:

Here’s a real example from our local MLS: “Basic rancher in good shape, but has working Single Father Decor“.

A Realtor friend posted this on Facebook and asked “I wonder if THAT was approved by the Seller?!

It may accurately convey the state of the home, but it doesn’t help you sell. It night be wiser to list your home with a professional who will provide a free consultation with a professional stager. Even if you don’t choose to hire the stager, she will provide you with no cost ways to prepare your home so you put your best foot forward.

2. Inaccurate MLS Entry:

If your home hasn’t been shown much, it could be that your agent entered it wrong in the MLS. Check out this Facebook post from another Realtor friend of mine:

Why My Home Isn't Selling

This happens a lot. Sometimes the number of bedrooms is wrong. Sometimes townhomes are listed as condos. Sometimes homes are listed in the wrong zip or city!

3. Oops, We Hid The Property Address:

Why My Home Isn't Selling

This could possibly be a tactic to get people to call, but we think it works in reverse. Most people will just go on to the next home for sale. Kind of hard to find an open house when you don’t have an address, right?!

4. Typos That Make You Cringe:

Why My Home Isn't Selling

Enough said here!

5. “Charlie” Is Home:

Why My Home Isn't Selling

The reaction above (even from “dog” people) is not unusual. (Here’s how we advise our clients if they are selling a home when they have a pet.)

6. Ugly Christmas Sweater:

Wallpaper Room

You should see the pictures agents post. If you think the paint or wallpaper in your home doesn’t need to come down, you might think again because your home may have been entered in someone’s Facebook contest for UGLIEST ROOM. (It’s kind of like the Ugly Christmas Sweater Party – except online.)

How Do We Fix This?

The one thing we see in common in most of the cases like the above, is that Sellers sometimes choose Realtors who are not full-time, who are not professional, who don’t work with professionals and/or who work solo without teams to handle the details.

If you’re selling your home, don’t be short sighted. Listing with your sister, your neighbor, your friend, or your local discount broker just might not be in your best interests!

You deserve the BEST Realtors in Northern VA to protect your asset. Call The Belt Team at (703) 242-3975 and ask about a FREE staging consultation with a professional stager, FREE listing photos from a professional photographer and FULL SERVICE from a professional team. Belt Team listings sell FASTER and for MORE MONEY than average.

Don’t be the house everyone is talking about, but no one is selling!

FREE Instant Online Home Valuation

State-of-the-Art Home Search Site for Northern VA

Best Real Estate Agents in Northern VA

Shhhh! What NOT To Say When Your Home Is On The Market!

Real estate markets around the country differ in terms of the protocol of how showings are handled. In some areas, homes are shown by appointment only with the listing agent present for every showing. In Northern Virginia, it’s customary for buyer agents to let Sellers know when they would like to show the home to their clients. The Seller then lets the agent in or the agent accesses the home through the lockbox that is placed on the door. (Appointment only listings exist, but unless the home is in the multi-million dollar luxury category, this can be a huge detriment to selling.)

This means Sellers are often home when agents come to show. We recommend that our Sellers leave during showings so Buyers can really picture the house as “theirs”. The other reason we recommend they leave is because it’s in their best interests NOT to discuss the following things with the Buyer Agent or the Buyers. Why? Because potential purchasers want to obtain the LOWEST price and BEST terms for themselves. And Buyer Agents represent them, not you.

The conversation might be a casual one. Just a meet & greet as you head out the door. But don’t get caught off guard and end up in the DANGER ZONE!

7 Things Home Sellers Should Not Say

7 Things Sellers Should NOT Discuss With Buyers (or Buyer Agents):

1. Reason for selling

2. Motivation/urgency to sell

3. Willingness to consider an offer less than the listing price

4. Terms under which you would sell

5. Relocation, timing, benefits & policies

6. Items of personal property which you “might” be willing to include in a sale.

7. Any confidential information that would serve to disclose your negotiating strategy.

For more tips about how to sell your home for the highest price, contact Terry Belt & The Belt Team. We are known nationally for our top-notch negotiating skills and Belt Team listings sell FASTER and for MORE MONEY than average. It’s why we are recognized among the best Realtors in Northern VA, ranking in the Top 20 Realtors in the entire state.

FREE – What Is My Home Worth?

42 Questions To Ask When Selling Your Home

Our mission is “Changing Lives For The Better“. If it’s time to change yours, call Terry Belt & The Belt Team at (703) 242-3975

NOTE: Enjoy the videos below. Our marketing may be tongue-in-cheek, but our results are SERIOUS!

It’s a Seller’s Market! Should I Downsize Now?

This article about downsizing (or “rightsizing” as we like to call it!) from “Keeping Current Matters” brings up some great points. Call us at (703) 242-3975 if you’d like someone to help lay out your options and walk through current market conditions with you. You might also check out our blog posts:

It's a Seller's Market! Should I Downsize Now? | MyKCM

A study by Edelman Berland reveals that 33% of homeowners who are contemplating selling their houses in the near future are planning to scale down. Let’s look at a few reasons why this might make sense for many homeowners, as the majority of the country is currently experiencing a seller’s market.

In a blog, Dave Ramsey, the financial guru, highlighted the advantages of selling your current house and downsizing into a smaller home that better serves your current needs. Ramsey explains three potential financial advantages to downsizing:

  1. A smaller home means less space, but it also means less time, stress and money spent on upkeep.
  2. Let’s assume you save $500 a month on your mortgage payment. In 30 years, you could have an additional $1–1.6 million in the bank to get you through your golden years.
  3. Use the proceeds from selling your current home to pay cash for a smaller one. Just imagine what you could do with no mortgage holding you down! If you can’t pay cash, aim for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage and put at least 10–20% down on your new home. Apply the $500 you saved from downsizing to your new monthly payment. At 3% interest, you could pay off a $200,000 mortgage in less than 10.5 years, saving almost $16,000 in the process.

Realtor.com also addressed downsizing in an article. They suggest that you ask yourself some questions before deciding if downsizing is right for you and your family. Here are two of their questions followed by their answers (in italics) and some additional information that could help.

Q: What kind of lifestyle do I want after I downsize?

A: “For some folks, it’s a matter of living a simpler life focused on family. Some might want to cross off travel destinations on their bucket lists. Some might want a low-maintenance community with high-end upgrades and social events. Decide what you want to achieve from your move first, and you’ll be able to better narrow down your housing options.”

Comments: Many homeowners are taking the profits from the sales of their current homes and splitting it in order to put down payments on smaller homes in their current locations, as well as on vacation/retirement homes where they plan to live when they retire.

This allows them to lock in the home price and mortgage interest rate at today’s values which makes sense financially as both home prices and interest rates are projected to rise.

Q: Have I built up enough equity in my current home to make a profit?

A: “For most homeowners, the answer is yes. This is if they’ve held on to their properties long enough to have positive equity that will be sizable enough to put a large down payment on their next home.”

Comments: A study by Fannie Mae revealed that only 37% of Americans believe that they have significant equity (> 20%) in their current home. In actuality, CoreLogic’s latest Equity Report revealed that 78.9% have greater than 20% equity. That equity could enable you to build the life you’ve always dreamt about.

Bottom Line

If you are debating downsizing your home and want to evaluate the options you currently have, let’s meet up to help guide you through the process.Call Terry Belt &The Belt Team at 703-242-3975. Don’t you deserve the BEST?!

WHat Is My Home Worth

Lack of Homes for Sale Slowing Down the Housing Market

WHat Is My Home Worth

Here’s an update from “Keeping Current Matters” about the state of the national real estate market. In general, in Northern VA, we are seeing similar things to what KCM reports, but not in 100% of the areas. For most of you, this means it’s a GREAT time to sell!

Call Terry Belt & The Belt Team at (703) 242-3975 for more info on YOUR neighborhood.


Lack of Homes for Sale Slowing Down the Housing Market | MyKCM

The housing crisis is finally in the rear-view mirror as the real estate market moves down the road to a complete recovery. Home values are up. Home sales are up. Distressed sales (foreclosures and short sales) have fallen dramatically. It seems that 2017 will be the year that the housing market races forward again.

However, there is one thing that may cause the industry to tap the brakes: a lack of housing inventory. While buyer demand looks like it will remain strong throughout the winter, supply is not keeping up.

Here are the thoughts of a few industry experts on the subject:

National Association of Realtors

“Total housing inventory at the end of December dropped 10.8%…which is the lowest level since NAR began tracking the supply of all housing types in 1999. Inventory has fallen year-over-year for 19 straight months and is at a 3.6-month supply at the current sales pace.”

Jonathan Smoke, Chief Economist for Realtor.com

“More than two-thirds of the markets are seeing less inventory now compared to a year ago.”

 Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR:

“The dismal number of listings in the affordable price range is squeezing prospective first-time buyers the most. As a result, young households are missing out on the wealth gains most homeowners have accrued from the 41% cumulative rise in existing home prices since 2011.”

 Sam Khater, Deputy Chief Economist at CoreLogic

“The lack of affordable supply is really driving up home prices.”

 Peter Muoio, Chief Economist at Auction.com

“Tight housing inventory remains a constraining factor limiting stronger sales growth… We expect further price growth to entice more homeowners to list their homes, particularly as existing homeowners have greater equity.”

Bottom Line 

If you are thinking of selling, now may be the time. Demand for your house will be strong at a time when there is very little competition. That could lead to a quick sale for a really good price.


Call Terry Belt & The Belt Team at (703) 242-3975 to schedule a FREE personalized consultation. Find out if your home is in a Seller’s Market or a Buyer’s Market!

WHat Is My Home Worth