10 Tips To Keep Your Home Safe During The Holidays

Holiday Meal

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

Here are 10 Tips To Keep Your Home Safe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You Need More Than a Guide. You Need a Sherpa.

You Need More Than a Guide. You Need a Sherpa. | MyKCM

In a normal housing market, whether you’re buying or selling a home, you need an experienced guide to help you navigate the process. You need someone you can turn to who will tell you how to price your home correctly right from the start. You need someone who can help you determine what to offer on your dream home without paying too much or offending the seller with a low-ball offer.

We are, however, in anything but a “normal market” right now. The media is full of stories about an impending recession, a trade war with China, and constant political upheaval. Each of these potential situations could dramatically impact the real estate market. To successfully navigate the landscape today, you need more than an experienced guide. You need a ‘Real Estate Sherpa.’

A Sherpa is a “member of a Himalayan people living on the borders of Nepal and Tibet, renowned for their skill in mountaineering.” Sherpas are skilled in leading their parties through the extreme altitudes of the peaks and passes in the region – some of the most treacherous trails in the world. They take pride in their hardiness, expertise, and experience at very high altitudes.

They are much more than just guides.

This is much more than a normal real estate market.

The average guide just won’t do. You need a ‘Sherpa.’ You need an expert who understands what is happening in the market and why it is happening. You need someone who can simply and effectively explain it to you and your family. You need an expert who will guarantee you make the right decision, even in these challenging times.

Dave Ramsey, the financial guru, advises:

“When getting help with money, whether it’s insurance, real estate or investments, you should always look for someone with the heart of a teacher, not the heart of a salesman.” 

Bottom Line

Hiring an agent who has a finger on the pulse of the market will make your buying or selling experience an educated one.

Call The Belt Team at 703-242-3975 and talk to one of our experienced agents. We have been in business for over 50 years and have closed over $1 Billion in real estate transactions.

The information contained, and the opinions expressed, in this article are not intended to be construed as investment advice. Keeping Current Matters, Inc. does not guarantee or warrant the accuracy or completeness of the information or opinions contained herein. Nothing herein should be construed as investment advice. You should always conduct your own research and due diligence and obtain professional advice before making any investment decision. Keeping Current Matters, Inc. will not be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on the information or opinions contained herein.

How Does the Supply of Homes for Sale Impact Buyer Demand?

How Does the Supply of Homes for Sale Impact Buyer Demand? | MyKCM

More good real estate supply and demand stats from our friends at Keeping Current Matters…

The price of any item is determined by supply, as well as the market’s demand for the item. The National Association of REALTORS (NAR) surveys “over 50,000 real estate practitioners about their expectations for home sales, prices and market conditions” for their monthly REALTORS Confidence Index.

Their latest edition sheds some light on the relationship between seller traffic (supply) and buyer traffic (demand).

Buyer Demand

The map below was created after asking the question: “How would you rate buyer traffic in your area?”

How Does the Supply of Homes for Sale Impact Buyer Demand? | MyKCM

The darker the blue, the stronger the demand for homes is in that area. The survey shows that in 3 of the 50 U.S. states, buyer demand is now very strong; only 2 of the 50 states have a ‘weak’ demand. Overall, buyer demand is slightly lower than this time last year but remains strong.

Seller Supply 

The index also asked: “How would you rate seller traffic in your area?”

How Does the Supply of Homes for Sale Impact Buyer Demand? | MyKCM

As the map shows, 18 states reported ‘weak’ seller traffic, 29 states and Washington, D.C. reported ‘stable’ seller traffic, and 3 states reported ‘strong’ seller traffic. This means there are far fewer homes on the market than what is needed to satisfy the buyers who are looking for homes.

Bottom Line

Looking at the maps above, it is not hard to see why prices are appreciating in many areas of the country. Until the supply of homes for sale starts to meet buyer demand, prices will continue to increase. If you are debating listing your home for sale, let’s get together to help you capitalize on the demand in our market now.

Call The Belt Team at 703-242-3975 and talk to one of our experienced agents. We have been in business for over 50 years and have closed over $1 Billion in real estate transactions.

The information contained, and the opinions expressed, in this article are not intended to be construed as investment advice. Keeping Current Matters, Inc. does not guarantee or warrant the accuracy or completeness of the information or opinions contained herein. Nothing herein should be construed as investment advice. You should always conduct your own research and due diligence and obtain professional advice before making any investment decision. Keeping Current Matters, Inc. will not be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on the information or opinions contained herein.

What Is the Probability That Home Values Sink?

What Is the Probability That Home Values Sink?| MyKCM

Some interesting market info from Keeping Current Matters…

With the current uncertainty about the economy triggered by a potential trade war, some people are waiting to purchase their first home or move-up to their dream house because they think or hope home prices will drop over the next few years. However, the experts disagree with this perspective.

Here is a table showing the predicted levels of appreciation from six major housing sources:

What Is the Probability That Home Values Sink?| MyKCM

As we can see, every source believes home prices will continue to appreciate (albeit at lower levels than we have seen over the last several years). But, not one source is calling for residential real estate values to depreciate.

Additionally, ARCH Mortgage Insurance Company in their current Housing and Mortgage Market Review revealed their latest ARCH Risk Index, which estimates the probability of home prices being lower in two years. There was not one state that even had a moderate probability of home prices lowering. In fact, 34 of the 50 states had a minimal probability.

What Is the Probability That Home Values Sink?| MyKCM

Bottom Line

Those waiting for prices to fall before purchasing a home should realize that the probability of that happening anytime soon is very low. With mortgage rates already at near historic lows, now may be the time to act.

So call The Belt Team now at 703-242-3975 if you are thinking about buying a home for the first time or moving up to your dream home. We would love to put our experience and expertise to work for you!

The information contained, and the opinions expressed, in this article are not intended to be construed as investment advice. Keeping Current Matters, Inc. does not guarantee or warrant the accuracy or completeness of the information or opinions contained herein. Nothing herein should be construed as investment advice. You should always conduct your own research and due diligence and obtain professional advice before making any investment decision. Keeping Current Matters, Inc. will not be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on the information or opinions contained herein.

11338 Westbrook Mill Ln #304, Fairfax, VA 22030- Just Listed by The Belt Team

11338 Westbrook Mill Ln #304 was Just Listed by The Belt Team!

This spacious 2 level condo is full of natural light & has a perfect layout for living & entertaining!  Unit features 2 main level bedrooms, both with attached full baths & walk-in closets, and an upper level loft and half bath (makes a wonderful extra living space or 3rd bedroom!).  The kitchen has lovely granite countertops, a breakfast bar and gas cooking.  There is a separate dining room and large living room with soaring ceilings and a cozy fireplace.  This condo also includes an in-unit washer/dryer, additional storage closet, ceiling fans and a private balcony off the living room.  Don’t miss out on this rarely available 2 level condo in a fantastic Fairfax location!

Price, lots more photos & additional info 11338 Westbrook Mill Ln #304, Fairfax VA 22030

Call Terry & The Belt Team at (703) 242-3975!

Call Beth & The Belt Team at (703) 242-3975 if you would like to buy or sell  this year. (Sellers –  you’ll be interested to know that Belt Team Sellers sell FASTER and for MORE money than average!

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

Seniors Are on the Move in the Real Estate Market

Seniors Are on the Move in the Real Estate Market | MyKCM

Did you know August 21st is National Senior Citizens Day? According to the United States Census, we honor senior citizens today because,

 “Throughout our history, older people have achieved much for our families, our communities, and our country. That remains true today and gives us ample reason…to reserve a special day in honor of the senior citizens who mean so much to our land.

To give proper recognition, we’re going to look at some senior-related data in the housing industry.

According to the Population Reference Bureau,

The number of Americans ages 65 and older is projected to nearly double from 52 million in 2018 to 95 million by 2060, and the 65-and-older age group’s share of the total population will rise from 16 percent to 23 percent.”

Seniors Believe in Homeownership

Seniors Are on the Move in the Real Estate Market | MyKCM
Seniors Are on the Move in the Real Estate Market | MyKCM

In a recent reportFreddie Mac compared the homeownership rates of two groups of seniors: the Good Times Cohort (born from 1931-1941) and the Previous Generations (born in the 1930s). The data shows an increase in the homeownership rate for the Good Times Cohort because seniors are now aging in place, living longer, and maintaining a high quality of life into their later years.This, however, does not mean all seniors are staying in place. Some are actively buying and selling homes. In the 2019 Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report, the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) showed the percentage of seniors buying and selling:

Here are some highlights from NAR’s report:

  • Buyers ages 54 to 63 had higher median household incomes and were more likely to be married couples.
  • 12% of buyers ages 54 to 63 are first-time homebuyers, 5% (64 to 72), and 4% (73 to 93).
  • Buyers ages 54 to 63 purchased because of an interest in being closer to friends and families, job relocation, and the desire to own a home of their own.
  • Sellers 54 years and older often downsized and purchased a smaller, less expensive home than the one they sold.
  • Sellers ages 64 to 72 lived in their homes for 21 years or more.

Bottom Line

According to NAR’s report, 58% of buyers ages 64 to 72 said they need help from an agent to find the right home. The transition from a current home to a new one is significant to undertake, especially for anyone who has lived in the same house for many years.

If you’re a senior thinking about the process, let’s get together to help you make the move as smoothly as possible. Call or text The Belt Team at 703-242-3975 or email info@thebeltteam.com.

American Confidence in Housing at an All-Time High

American Confidence in Housing at an All-Time High | MyKCM

Fannie Mae just released the July edition of their Home Purchase Sentiment Index (HPSI). The HPSI takes information regarding consumers’ confidence in the real estate market from Fannie Mae’s National Housing Survey and condenses it into a single number. Therefore, the HPSI reflects consumers’ current views and forward-looking expectations of housing market conditions.

Great News! The index reached its highest level since Fannie Mae began their survey. Breaking it down, the report revealed:

  • The share of Americans who say it is a good time to buy a home increased from the same time last year.
  • The share of those who say it is a good time to sell a home increased from the same time last year.
  • The share of Americans who say they are not concerned about losing their job over the next 12 months increased dramatically (16 percentage points) from the same time last year.
  • The share of Americans who say mortgage rates will go down over the next 12 months increased dramatically (24 percentage points) from the same time last year.

The day after the index was released, Freddie Mac also announced the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rate fell to its lowest level in three years.

Doug Duncan, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist at Fannie Mae explained the uptick in the index:

“Consumer job confidence and favorable mortgage rate expectations lifted the HPSI to a new survey high in July, despite ongoing housing supply and affordability challenges. Consumers appear to have shaken off a winter slump in sentiment amid strong income gains. Therefore, sentiment is positioned to take advantage of any supply that comes to market, particularly in the affordable category.”

Bottom Line

Consumers are feeling good about the real estate market. Since Americans are not worried about their jobs, see mortgage rates near an all-time low, and believe it is a good time to buy, the housing market will remain strong for the rest of the year.

So now’s a great time to give us a call/end us an email to help you buy or sell! 703-242-3975 / info@thebeltteam.com

ANNOUNCING The Belt Team’s 1st Annual Dog Days of Summer Photo Contest!

The Belt Team loves our dogs and we know many of you do too! So we want to see your photos in honor of our furry friends & the end of summer!

Click the link below to see more contest details (rumor has it 1st prize is a YETI dog bowl!) and to enter a photo that best shows your dog’s personality.

https://thebeltteam.com/photo_contest_

And yes, the adorable pups above are members of our Belt Team family. 🥰

And as always…if you, or anyone you know, need any real estate assistance, email us at info@thebeltteam.com or call/text 703-242-3975!  We would love to help.  (And not just in the Northern Virginia area.  We know fantastic agents all over the country and would be happy to make introductions!)

*Entry deadline: 5pm, August 21, 2019. One entry per household. Winners chosen by The Belt Team and announced August 28, 2019.

Thinking of Buying or Selling: Three Things You Need to Know From the Experts

Mid-Year Housing Market Update: Three Things to Know Today | MyKCM

Shifting trends and industry-leading research are pointing toward some valuable projections about the status of the housing market for the rest of the year.

If you’re thinking of buying or selling, or if you just want to know what experts are saying is on the horizon, here are the top three things to put on your radar as we head into the coming months:

  1. Home prices are appreciating at a more normal rate: Home prices have been appreciating for about ten years now. Experts at the Home Price Expectation Survey, Mortgage Bankers Association, Freddie Mac, and Fannie Mae are forecasting continued growth throughout the next year, although it should be leveling-off to normal appreciation (3.6%), as we move into 2020.
  2. Interest rates are low: Over the past 30 years, the average mortgage rate in the United States has been 8.27%, and rates even peaked as high as 18% in the 1980s. Today, at 3.81%, the rate is considerably lower than the historical 30-year average. Although experts predict it may climb into the low 4% range in the near future, that’s still remarkably lower than our running average, suggesting a great time to get more for your money over the life of your loan.
  3. An impending recession does not mean there will be a housing crash: Although expert research studies such as those found in the Duke Survey of American CFOs and the National Association of Business Economics, are pointing toward a recession beginning within the next 18 months, a potential recession isn’t expected to be driven by the housing industry. That means we likely won’t experience a devastating housing crash like the country felt in 2008. Expert financial analyst Morgan Housel tweeted:

“An interesting thing is the widespread assumption that the next recession will be as bad as 2008. Natural to think that way, but, statistically, highly unlikely. Could be over before you realized it began.”

Mid-Year Housing Market Update: Three Things to Know Today | MyKCM

In fact, during 3 of the 5 last U.S. recessions, housing prices actually appreciated:

Bottom Line

With prices appreciating and low interest rates available, it’s a perfect time to buy or sell a home. Let’s get together to discuss how you can take the next step in the exciting journey of homeownership!

Call or Text The Belt Team at 703-242-3975! Our mission is “Changing Lives For The Better – One Family At A Time!” And we LOVE creating Real Estate Success Stories for our clients.