How’s the Housing Market?


The number one question Terry & Tom are getting at the holiday parties this season is “How’s the housing market?”. 

That is an extremely broad question in our opinion. We know you want a straight forward and direct answer, but bottom line is that it depends.  It’s kind of like the stock market. That may be a bad subject for people over the last few weeks (sorry!), but it’s very similar in the way someone would answer the question “How’s the stock market?”.

If you’re talking about the stock market, just like the housing market, there’s never a bad time to buy, generally speaking. There are always highs and lows. But we need to dig a bit deeper to discuss the market as it pertains to the person asking specifically. So, our question to them would be, “What’s your situation? Are you needing to sell, wanting to sell? Are you needing to buy, wanting to buy? These all play a role in how the market is doing in regards to their specific situation. 

If you are currently in the market to buy a home you may have seen national headlines about how strong the market is right now. What market are those headlines referring to? Be sure to check out our latest video to hear about different buyer/seller scenarios and what a healthy market looks like. 

Thinking of buying or selling or knows someone who is? We want to help anyway we can! Feel free to drop your questions in the comments or reach out to us. 

Give us a call at 703-242-3975 or Email: info@thebeltteam.com 

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

U.S. Housing Inventory Hits a New Low – That’s GREAT! (If You’re Selling!)

Here’s the latest from our colleagues at Keeping Current Matters.
For info about YOUR neighborhood (or the neighborhood you want to live in), give The Belt Team a call at (703) 242-3975. We can provide you with detailed facts PLUS the “boots on the ground” data that will help you make the RIGHT move! Because what’s happening in Vienna may be different than in Arlington. Even more important is price range – because we are seeing a slowing in the upper ranges, while other price ranges remain HOT!
U.S. Housing Inventory Hits a New Low… List Your House TODAY! | MyKCM

Every summer, families across the country decide if this will be the year they sell their current house and move into their dream home.

Mortgage rates have hovered around 4% for all of 2017, forcing buyers off the fence and into the market, resulting in incredibly strong demand RIGHT NOW!! At the same time, inventory levels of homes for sale have dropped dramatically as compared to this time last year.

Trulia reported that “U.S. home inventory has tumbled 8.9% over the past year and has now fallen for nine consecutive quarters.” There is now 20% less inventory than there was five years ago.

Here is a chart showing the decrease in inventory levels by category:

U.S. Housing Inventory Hits a New Low… List Your House TODAY! | MyKCM

Bottom Line

Demand for your home is very strong right now while your competition (other homes for sale) is at a historically low level. If you are thinking of selling in 2017, now may be the perfect time.

FREE INSTANT ONLINE HOME VALUATION

Search Homes For Sale on our State-of-the-Art Search Site (It’s updated faster and more often than other sites!)

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Thinking of Selling? You Should Act NOW!

Now is the time to sell.

That’s the opinion of our colleagues at Keeping Current Matters. (Our opinion depends on your personal situation, so give us a call at (703) 242-3975 and we will do an in depth analysis with you so you can be sure of what’s right for YOU.)

What Is My Home Worth

Here’s why KCM thinks NOW is the time . . .

Thinking of Selling? You Should Act NOW! | MyKCM

If you thought about selling your house this year, now more than ever may be the time to do it! The inventory of homes for sale is well below historic norms and buyer demand is skyrocketing. We were still in high school when we learned the concept of supply and demand: the best time to sell something is when supply of that item is low and demand for that item is high. That defines today’s real estate market.

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors, recently commented:

“Buyer interest is solid, but there is just not enough supply to satisfy demand. Prospective buyers are being sidelined by both limited choices and home prices that are climbing too fast.”

Yun goes on to say:

“Current demand levels indicate sales should be stronger, but it’s clear some would-be buyers are having to delay or postpone their home search because low supply is leading to worsening affordability conditions.”

In this type of market, a seller may hold a major negotiating advantage when it comes to price and other aspects of the real estate transaction, including the inspection, appraisal and financing contingencies.

Bottom Line

As a potential seller, you are in the driver’s seat right now. It might be time to hit the gas.

Call The Belt Team at (703) 242-3975. Recently named to Washingtonian Magazine’s Best Realtors list for the 3rd year in a row, we are one of the country’s top teams and would love to help you make the RIGHT move for YOU.

What Is My Home Worth

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

Mortgage Rates’ Impact on 2017 Home Values

Here’s the latest from our colleagues at Keeping Current Matters. Just another reason why selling NOW may be your best move!

Mortgage Rates Impact on 2017 Home Values | MyKCM

There is no doubt that historically low mortgage interest rates were a major impetus to housing recovery over the last several years. However, many industry experts are showing concern about the possible effect that the rising rates will have moving forward.

The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the National Association of Realtors are all projecting that mortgage interest rates will move upward in 2017. Increasing interest rates will definitely impact purchasers and may stifle demand.

In a recent study of industry experts, “rising mortgage interest rates, and their impact on mortgage affordability” was named by 56% as the force they think will have the most significant impact on U.S. housing in 2017. If rising rates slow demand for housing, home values will be impacted.

To this point, Pulsenomics, recently surveyed a panel of over 100 economists, investment strategists, and housing market analysts, asking the question “In your opinion, at what level will the 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate significantly slow home value appreciation?” The survey revealed the following:

Mortgage Rates Impact on 2017 Home Values | MyKCM

Bottom Line

Most experts believe that rates would need to hit 5% or above to have an impact on home prices.

WHat Is My Home Worth

Call Terry Belt & The Belt Team at (703) 242-3975 for a LOCAL forecast if you’re thinking about buying or selling in Northern VA! We will help you make the best move for YOU.

The Impact of Homeownership on Civic Involvement

Here’s a fascinating new update from Keeping Current Matters:
The Impact of Homeownership on Civic Involvement | MyKCM

The National Association of Realtors recently released a study titled ‘Social Benefits of Homeownership and Stable Housing.’ The study confirmed a long-standing belief of most Americans:

“Owning a home embodies the promise of individual autonomy and is the aspiration of most American households. Homeownership allows households to accumulate wealth and social status, and is the basis for a number of positive social, economic, family and civic outcomes.”

Today, we want to cover the section of the report that quoted several studies concentrating on the impact homeownership has on the civic participation of family members. Here are some of the major findings on this issue revealed in the report:

  • Homeowners have a much greater financial stake in their neighborhoods than renters. With the median national home price in 2015 at $223,900, even a 5% decline in home values will translate into a loss of more than $11,195 for a typical homeowner.
  • Because owners tend to remain in their homes longer, they add a degree of stability to their neighborhood.
  • Homeowners also reap the financial gains of any appreciation in the value of their home, so they also tend to spend more time and money maintaining their residence, which also contributes to the overall quality of the surrounding community.
  • Homeowners were found to be more politically active than renters with 77% of homeowners saying they had at some point voted in local elections compared with 52% of renters.
  • There seems to be a greater awareness of the political process among homeowners. About 38% of homeowners knew the name of their local school board representative, compared with only 20% of renters.
  • There is a higher incidence of membership in voluntary organizations and church attendance among homeowners.
  • Homeownership does create social capital and provide residents with a platform from which to connect and interact with neighbors.
  • Owning a home means owning part of a neighborhood, and a homeowner’s feelings of commitment to the home can arouse feelings of commitment to the neighborhood, which, in turn, can produce interactions with neighbors.

Bottom Line

People often talk about the financial benefits of homeownership. As we can see, there are also social benefits of owning your own home.

*Next Thursday, we will report the study’s findings on the impact homeownership has on a family’s health.

WHat Is My Home Worth

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”. Tom Reilly, Lead Buyer Specialist for The Belt Team, says “I have multiple buyers who are VERY motivated to buy during this timeframe, especially since interest rates are forecast to rise next year.” 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 Dadisman, The Belt Team’s Showing Partner 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.2424Best Real Estate Agents in Northern VA

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!

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”. Tom Reilly, Lead Buyer Specialist for The Belt Team, says “I have multiple buyers who are VERY motivated to buy during this timeframe, especially since interest rates are forecast to rise next year.” 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 Dadisman, The Belt Team’s Showing Partner 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 Martin Bristow, Belt Team Realtor.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 Terry, “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 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! Best Real Estate Agents in Northern VA