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

How to Get the Most Money When Selling Your Home

How to Get the Most Money When Selling Your Home | MyKCM

Here’s another great article from Keeping Current Matters. If you’d like to discuss strategy for selling YOUR home, call Terry Belt & The Belt Team at (703) 242-3975.

Every homeowner wants to make sure they get the best price when selling their home. But how do you guarantee that you receive maximum value for your house? Here are two keys to ensuring you get the highest price possible.

1. Price it a LITTLE LOW 

This may seem counterintuitive. However, let’s look at this concept for a moment. Many homeowners think that pricing their home a little OVER market value will leave them room for negotiation. In reality, this just dramatically lessens the demand for their house (see chart below).

How to Get the Most Money When Selling Your Home | MyKCM

Instead of the seller trying to ‘win’ the negotiation with one buyer, they should price it so that demand for the home is maximized. By doing this, the seller will not be fighting with a buyer over the price, but will instead have multiple buyers fighting with each other over the house.

Realtor.com gives this advice:

“Aim to price your property at or just slightly below the going rate. Today’s buyers are highly informed, so if they sense they’re getting a deal, they’re likely to bid up a property that’s slightly underpriced, especially in areas with low inventory.”

2. Use a Real Estate Professional

This, too, may seem counterintuitive, as the seller likely believes that he or she will net more money if they don’t have to pay a real estate commission. With that being said, studies have shown that homes typically sell for more money when handled by a real estate professional.

Research posted by the National Association of Realtors revealed that:

“The median selling price for all FSBO homes was $185,000 last year. When the buyer knew the seller in FSBO sales, the number sinks to the median selling price of $163,800. However, homes that were sold with the assistance of an agent had a median selling price of $245,000 – nearly $60,000 more for the typical home sale.”

Bottom Line

Price your house at or slightly below the current market value and hire a professional. This will guarantee that you maximize the price you get for your house.

If you’d like to discuss strategy for selling YOUR home, call Terry Belt & The Belt Team at (703) 242-3975. You can also request our FREE Report “40 Questions You MUST Ask Your Realtor BEFORE You Sell Your House”.WHat Is My Home Worth

Unparalleled Trust Necessary Before Listing Your House

The article below came out last week from Keeping Current Matters. We thought it was right on target. It surprises us how often people trust the sale of their largest asset to someone who may not be an expert – just because they are a family member, a neighbor or a friend. They list their home with this person out of obligation. And then they take a BIG leap.

Questions To Ask When Selling Your Home

While they may be able to trust them in terms of their personal relationship, they often cannot really trust this person’s expertise, negotiating skills & problem solving abilities. When you’re selling your home, you need it all. Personal trust (integrity, To be able to trust they will have your best interests at heart) AND to trust they have the ability to do the job at a high level.


Here’s what Keeping Current Matters had to say:

You and your family have decided to sell your house. It is now time to choose a real estate professional to help with the process. One of the major attributes this agent must possess is trustworthiness. To what degree do you need to trust them?

You must have enough trust in them that you feel comfortable they will accomplish all four things below: 

1. Sell possibly the largest asset your family owns

In many cases, a home is the largest asset a family has. Studies have shown that the equity many families have in their home is the largest percentage of that family’s overall wealth. 

2. Set the correct market value on that asset

Pricing is crucial even in the best of markets. You want to get the best price for your home without putting your house at a value that buyers will have little interest in.

3. Set the time schedule for the liquidation of that asset

Your family probably has a certain timetable for the sale of your house and the move into your next home. Coordinating the home selling process to meet certain schedules can be tricky.

4. Set a fair fee for the services required to liquidate that asset

You will need to pay a commission to an agent for selling the home and coordinating all elements of the selling transaction, including possible future negotiations (ex. with a home inspector or appraiser).

That’s a lot of trust. Make sure you pick a true professional to help with the sale of your home.


So how do you know if you can trust the sale of your home to someone?

1. Interview them.

Ask questions. Ask for statistics – things like: how many homes they’ve sold (that will tell you whether they have good problem solving skills, relationships & resources for you to use), what their list to sell price ratio is compared to the average (that will tell you about their negotiation skills), and what their average days on market is (that will tell you about their expertise). Spend more time asking questions like these than asking where they advertise and what kind of videos they do. And don’t choose the realtor who just throws out the highest number. The results they get are what you’re after. If they are experts, you won’t need to tell them how to do what they do best.

2. Ask for references.

Call people who have sold their home with the team you’re interviewing and find out first hand what it’s like to work with them.

3. Google them.

You’ll be surprised what you see (or don’t see).Pay special attention to third party sites like Zillow. Realtors cannot control what is posted there (unlike the testimonials you see on their personal web sites.) And when you read the reviews, read between the lines. Are they generic (“she’s great”) or are they specific (she sold our home in 9 days over list price and has the patience of Job”)?

Whether you’re selling in Vienna or McLean, Great Falls or Falls Church, Oakton or Oak Hill, Arlington, Ashburn or Annadale – wherever you live – you deserve the BEST real estate team. For a FREE report of “Questions To Ask Your Realtor When Selling Your Home” – email The Belt Team or call (703) 242-3975. We are listed in the Top 20 Best Real Estate Agents in Virginia and are happy to help you make the RIGHT move.

Click here for Reviews on Zillow about Terry Belt, Kevin Kleifges, Tom Reilly, Beth Dadisman, Gail Belt & Tom Hanton

Top Realtors Northern VA

Will Appraisals Continue to be a Challenge in 2016?

Our friends at Keeping Current Matters have provided us with some research indicating low appraisals could continue to be a problem in 2016. Here’s what they say:


Will Appraisals Continue to be a Challenge in 2016? | Keeping Current Matters

“First American Title issues a quarterly report, the Real Estate Sentiment Index (RESI), which “measures title agent sentiment on a variety of key market metrics and industry issues”. Their 2015 4th Quarter Edition revealed some interesting information regarding possible challenges with appraisal values as we head into 2016.

“The fourth quarter RESI found that title agents continue to believe that property valuation issues will be the most likely cause of title order cancellation over the coming year.”

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. In a housing market where supply is very low and demand is very high, home values increase rapidly. One major challenge in such a market is the bank appraisal. If prices are jumping, it is difficult for appraisers to find adequate, comparable sales (similar houses in the neighborhood that closed recently) to defend the price when performing the appraisal for the bank.

Another monthly report by Quicken Loans measures the disparity between what a homeowner believes their house is worth as compared to an appraiser’s evaluation. Here is a chart showing that difference for each month through 2015.

Will Appraisals Continue to be a Challenge in 2016? | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

Every house on the market has to be sold twice; once to a prospective buyer and then to the bank (through the bank’s appraisal). With escalating prices, the second sale might be even more difficult than the first. That is why we suggest that you use an experienced real estate professional to help set your listing price.”


We concur. Our Northern VA market may not be seeing huge price increases, but there are still pockets where homes are selling with multiple offers and above sales price. In this situation, there are a number of strategies your Realtor may employ to protect you. For example, sometimes you can strike the appraisal and financing contingencies, or look for contracts where the buyer is making a large down payment. This is why who you select to represent you when selling your home is SO important. There are a million ways a sale can fall through. This is is just one. Make sure your Realtor knows how to bulletproof a transaction. Ask your agent LOTS of questions before you hire them!

Call Terry Belt or Kevin Kleifges at (703) 242-3975 for more info about selling your home.

Watch Out For Shark Infested Waters in the Real Estate Market

Wondering how the real estate market is faring? Take a look at this snapshot from Keeping Current Matters:

Home Sales November 2015 Real Estate

What’s most important in the infographic is the quote from Lawrence Yun. You see, sales in November 2015 were down from sales in November 2014. In our opinion, the real reason for this is TRID.

TRID (Truth-In-Lending RESPA Integrated Documentation – or as some Realtors call it, “The Reason I Drink”) is a new government regulation that affects people who are buying and selling homes. We won’t go into all the details (and there are a LOT of them), but the bottom line is that TRID is causing increased costs and delays in settlement. We expect that when numbers come out for December, that many of the expected November closings will show up.

That said – TRID is just another reason why it’s SO important for consumers to be represented by Realtors who do this every day and can help their clients navigate what often feel like shark infested waters. Part of what we do is manage all the details of the buying & selling process. We make sure deadlines are met, you are protected, and that you get where you want to go when you want to be there.

We have heard all kinds of horror stories about delayed closings – Buyers with their household belongings on trucks for days, staying in a hotel because their settlement was pushed back due to a TRID delay. Others where their mortgage loan lock-in expired, only  to have to pay hundred or thousands of dollars to extend the rate. Sellers who pack up and move out – but can’t get their money when they need it because the Buyer was held up by TRID.

Terry Belt Realtor The Belt TeamTerry Belt, CEO of The Belt Team says, “You don’t need to know all the ins & outs of TRID, but your Realtor does. Our advice to you – whether buying or selling a home – is to make sure to work with a seasoned real estate team – the best you can find. It’s in your best interests to use their years of experience and their immense resources to your advantage. When problems arise, and with new regulations like TRID it’s not unusual – you need someone with creativity & pull on YOUR side. The more homes a Realtor sells, the more likely they are to be a great problem solver. So ask for details when you’re interviewing your Realtor. (We even have a list of questions you should ask your Realtor!)”

Schedule an appointment with The Belt Team by calling (703) 242-3975.

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The Belt Team is one of the Top 20 Best Real Estate Agents in the State of Virginia (as named by Real Trends) and one of Washingtonian Magazines Best Realtors in 2015. Our mission statement is “Changing Lives For The Better”. If it’s time to change YOURS, call us at (703) 242-3975 TODAY. It’s our pleasure to help you make the RIGHT move.

Read Independent Reviews of The Belt Team on 3rd Party site

Best Real Estate Agents in Vienna VA

When Homes Sell Quickly, Does It Really Matter Who Your Agent Is?

When homes are selling as fast as they are in Northern VA, you may wonder whether it really matters who your agent is. When the market is tough, it seems Sellers seek out the top Realtors in the area. But when the market starts to come back, some Sellers are lulled into thinking it doesn’t really matter and so they list with an agent for the “wrong reasons”.

What are the “Wrong Reasons” to list with an agent?

  • Your relative is an agent.
  • The agent “liked” your house.
  • Your neighbor is an agent.
  • The agent gave you the highest price.
  • Your exercise partner is an agent.
  • The agent is a solo agent instead of part of a team.

Whether the market is “good” or “bad”, it’s important to remember that you are trusting your most important financial asset, as well as your family’s well-being, to the person you hire as your Realtor. This is a business decision and you need a professional to advocate for & guide you.

Your relative is an agent. Your neighbor is an agent. Your exercise partner is an agent.

Family members, friends & neighbors can make good Realtors. But the fact that they are a relative or someone you already know is NOT the only criteria to weigh. We often hear “But my friend/relative will be so upset with me if I don’t list with him/her.” If this is the primary reason you are choosing them, it might be the wrong reason.

The agent “liked” your house.The agent gave you the highest price.

Sometimes people select a Realtor because when they interview agents to hire, there is one who is really complimentary of the house and/or one that gives a higher price that is more in line with what they are thinking. These are often the Sellers that come to us to list their homes when they don’t sell with the first Realtor. Hire a Realtor who will be honest with you.  Realtors who gloss over possible issues and/or “buy” the listing by quoting the highest price are often the same Realtors whose listings take longer to sell and sell for a lower percentage of list price. The longer a home is on the market, the less it will sell for.

The agent is a solo agent instead of part of a team.

In Real Estate One Person Can Not Do It All

Another comment we hear is “I want to list with so-and-so because she is not part of a big team. I’ll get more personal attention that way.” Imagine hiring a doctor who was a solo praticioner with no support staff. That would mean he would check you in, do your insurance paperwork, weigh you, examine you, diagnose you, treat you, collect your check, schedule your next appointment and then call you to remind you of your appointment. How much time would he really have to spend doing the most important part – diagnosing & treating you?

Real Estate Teams Work Better

Working with a team actually means that you will get a LOT more attention and attention from people who are experts in each part of your real estate transaction. You will have the counsel & care of not just the agent, but their professional photographer, stager, listing manager, marketing specialist, closing manager, etc.

IF YOU WERE GOING TO ASK YOUR POTENTIAL REALTOR JUST THREE QUESTIONS, WHAT SHOULD THEY BE?

1. “What is the average days on market and sold-to-list-price ratio in my area and what are your statistics?”

Example: So far in 2013 for homes sold in Northern VA, average days on market is 55 days. The Belt Team’s average is 6 days. Average sold-to-list price in Northern VA is 95.9%. The Belt Team’s average is 99.2%. Our listings sell faster AND for more money than average. So a Seller of a $900,000 home would have netted an extra $30,000+ and saved almost 2 months mortgage payments & 2 months hassle.

2. How many homes did you sell last year?

Example: The average Realtor in Northern VA sold 4 homes last year. The Belt Team sold 116. (Conclusion: Experience counts. Why? Experience begets mastery. Mastery is one reason our homes sell faster and for more money.)

3. Where can I read client reviews about you on a 3rd party site?

Example: You can find reviews about The Belt Team on Zillow.com (and Trulia and Yelp). We are not able to preview or approve the reviews since this is a 3rd party site. These reviews will tell you a LOT about your potential agent and what it will be like to work with them.

Real Estate Review Terry Belt and The Belt Team

BOTTOM LINE: It DOES matter who your agent is. With inventory so low in Northern VA, it’s likely your home will sell. And sell quickly. But it will sell FASTER, easier and for more money with a top agent. Call (703) 242-3975 NOW if you are thinking of selling.

3 Important Factors When Choosing A Realtor To Sell Your Home

You’re thinking of selling. So how do you know which Realtor to work with? Your boss gave you the name of a Realtor. You met a Realtor you liked at an open house. Your sister-in law just got her license and says she’d love to help you. And what about the one who sold you your house 8 years ago (what’s his name again?).

Selling a home can be a very emotional decision. After all, this is your LIFE we’re talking about. The place where you created LOTS of memories. AND it’s your FUTURE we’re talking about. What happens with the sale of your home affects what options you have moving forward.

And it’s likely one of, if not THE BIGGEST FINANCIAL DECISION OF YOUR LIFETIME. So you want to get it right. How do you do that?

1. The Personality Factor:

BFFs

You’re not looking for a new BFF here. (If you don’t have kids – that’s “Best Friend Forever“!) But you DO want to make sure you “click” with the person. After all, this person will be advising you on factors that affect you and your family’s life to a great degree. So the person needs to understand you and your needs. You need to “get” each other and trust each other and be able to speak openly & directly. And so while having a relative or friend in the business may be nice as far as the “clicking” part goes, sometimes the “speaking openly & directly” part may be an issue. You may not want to tell your relative or friend all your personal financial information. And even if you do, you may not want to have the kind of open & direct conversations that are often part of selling your home. Preserving your friendship or family relationship may take precedence over doing business together. (Worst case scenario: Something goes wrong. Wouldn’t you rather fire the Realtor you hired as a business decision versus firing your best friend or sister-in-law?)

Woman Using Laptop

So once you decide to make this a business decision. How do you find a Realtor you can trust? Google them! In this day & age it’s a great way to find out all sorts of things – including what Realtors’ pasts client think about the service they received. When you travel, don’t you read hotel & restaurant reviews? And when you are sent to a new doctor, don’t you check her out online first? Well, you can do the same thing with Realtors. But don’t just read the comments on their own web sites, check them out on 3rd party sites like Zillow or Trulia or Yelp. (Here’s an example of what you would see if you google “Real Estate Reviews for Terry Belt“). What you read here will tell you a whole lot about trust.

2. The Communication Factor:

She Did Not Communicate

The most common complaint we hear from people who hire us after they have tried unsuccessfully to sell with another agent, is that “after the sign went up, we never heard from her again until she called to ask us to reduce the price.” So when you are looking at Realtors, ask HOW they communicate, WHAT types of information they provide and HOW OFTEN they do so. And make sure that what they do works for you. Your Realtor should have systems in place that provide you with ALL the information you need to make smart decisions.

3. The Expertise Factor:

Newscaster in Television Studio

Your Realtor should be an expert in real estate AND an expert in your market. Did you know there are more than 1.2 million Realtors in the U.S.? And almost 10,000 Realtors in Northern Virginia? So make sure you have one with experience. The more homes they have sold, the better their skills are likely to be. (We call this the “Are you really a Realtor or do you just play one on TV” question.) More experience normally translates to a faster sale and a higher sales price for you!

You also want an expert in YOUR market. So how do you find out how much of an “expert” someone is? ASK FOR THE STATISTICS! They may be “boring”, but they could save you TIME and MONEY.

Buying The Listing

Here’s an example:

Last year in Vienna, The Belt Team sold 58 homes. That is 3 times as many homes as the next best agent. The “average agent” in Northern VA did not even sell 1 home in Vienna. Not only did we sell more homes, we sold them 15 days FASTER and for MORE MONEY than average (1.4% more). So in this example, if your mortgage payment is $4,000/month and your home sold for $800,000 – The Belt Team would have saved you $2,000 by selling your home 15 days faster (1/2 of one mortgage payment) plus $11,200 by selling it for a higher percentage of list price than average.

This is why you need to ASK FOR THE STATS (in other words – “SHOW ME THE MONEY!”)

Contact us if you would like a FREE copy of “41 Questions You Need To Ask When Interviewing A Realtor To Sell Your Home”” or ““90 Tips To Prepare Your Home For Sale“”.

If you’re ready to list your home NOW, call (703) 242-3975 to schedule an appointment.

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