The Belt Team Awarded Top 100 Real Estate Blog on The Planet

Northern VA Real Estate BlogsThe Belt Team was just notified that we have been named to the “Top 100 Real Estate Blogs on the Planet” list!

Our competition included not just other Realtors (of which there are more than 1.2 Million in the U.S.), but also entire brokerages (like Keller Williams Realty), listing portals (like Zillow) and news organizations (like Inman News). We are one of only 2 Realtors or teams in the entire state of Virginia to make the list. (The other was in Charlottesville). We are thrilled because that means the Sellers we represent have market exposure like no other Realtor can provide in Northern VA. And our buyers get the local “boots on the ground” info they need.

Real estate is local. It’s actually hyperlocal. What you read about in the paper, hear about on the news, see posted on Facebook, skim on Twitter or see delivered to your email – is NOT necessarily what’s happening in YOUR neighborhood. Even right here in Northern VA, what’s happening in Arlington may not match Alexandria. Great Falls and Falls Church may be on opposite ends of the spectrum. And even in the same town, things can be different. For example, the Vienna market is currently seeing both a buyer’s market and a seller’s market depending on price range.

THAT is why we started blogging TWENTY years ago. If you are thinking of buying or selling in Northern Virginia, THIS is where you want to be to find out local statistics and strategies for how to win in TODAY’S Northern VA real estate market. In addition to posting new listings, coming soon and TONS of local market stats, we also share real estate related strategies and info that benefit our clients.

Here are a few of our most popular blog posts over the years:

Call The Belt Team at (703) 242-3975. We’ll help you interpret the market in YOUR neighborhood or the neighborhood you’re moving to, so you can make the BEST move!

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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

Real Estate Property Tax Rate Rising In Fairfax County

Fairfax Real Estate

Last week, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved the Fiscal Year 2017 (Tax Year 2016) budget to include an increase of FOUR CENTS in the real estate property tax rate. This becomes effective July 1, 2016.

The last time the tax rate increased was in 2014 – from $1.085 per $100 of assessed value, to $1.09. That makes this year’s increase 8 times the last increase.

What does this mean for you and what will the new tax rate be?

  • Current Rate: $1.09 per $100 of assessed value
  • New Rate: $1.13 per $100 of assessed value

Here’s the calculation:

Your Assessed Value – Divided by $100 – Multiplied By $1.13 = Your Property Tax

So, if your home was valued at $800,000 last year, then you paid $8,720 in property tax. If your assessed value stayed the same this year, your new tax would be $9,040. (A small $320 increase.  However, 55% of homes in Fairfax County were also assessed at higher values this year than last year. So the increase is larger than it looks.)

Note: Assessed values and market values are not always the same.

Click here to find out the Fairfax County assessed value of your home.

Click here for an INSTANT online estimate of your home’s market value. Then call Terry Belt or Kevin Kleifges & The Belt Team at 703-242-3975 for a detailed, personalized review. We’re happy to assist will ALL of your real estate needs!

Home Prices and Interest Rates – Here’s the 411!

Wondering what’s happening with home prices and interest rates in the national real estate market? Check out this one minute video:

When you’re ready for a hyperlocal update for areas in Northern Virginia like Vienna, McLean, Oakton, Great Falls, Fairfax, Reston, Arlington, Annandale, Ashburn, Falls Church, Burke, Dunn Loring & Alexandria – contact The Belt Team at (703) 242-3975. Local numbers don’t always mirror national trends and you may even find wide variations in adjoining towns and cities in Northern VA!

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Northern VA Real Estate Market – How Did We Fare in 2014? What’s Happening in 2015?

2014 Northern VA Real Estate Stats

2014 was the “Year of Micromarkets”.

Check out our blog and you’ll find year-end statistics for both the larger macromarket of the Mid-Atlantic region, as well as the counties of Fairfax, Loudoun & Arlington. Along with that, you’ll find stats for the various cities and towns in Northern VA. It used to be that looking at statistics city by city was often enough to arm you with most of the information you might need to understand the market – whether on the buy side or sell side. But that is no longer the case. (So when you hear the national news headlines about real estate – don’t listen! It’s like listening to the weather forecast in Phoenix when you’re trying to figure out what to wear in McLean.)

Within each county and city, there is a whole other story being told – market by market by market. Let’s take Loudoun County for example. Average days on market in Loudoun was 44 days. The average home sold for 97.5% of original list price. If you’re a buyer, you might draw the conclusion that you can “get a deal” or at least that you can negotiate some off the list price. On some homes, that might be the case. (In fact, that was the case for Buyers represented by The Belt Team. Our buyers only paid on average 93.8% of list price.) But that would not be representative of the entire market.

If you look at the statistics further, you’ll find that last year, 37% of homes in Loudoun sold in 10 days or less. Buyers of those homes often competed and came prepared to pay over list price. In fact, the average paid was just over 100% of list price. This micromarket was seen primarily in the $400’s and below. Homes that were listed over $900K saw a different market. Average days on market was 121 days (4 months!). And homes sold for 92.9% of list price.

The moral of the story of 2014 (and going forward in 2015) is that you MUST get the detailed, hyperlocal info you need to make decisions on the very specific micromarket where you’re looking to buy or sell. It’s a vital part of setting your strategy for success – whether you’re buying or selling. The average agent (and even you) have access to some of this data through normal channels – either online, through the MLS, public tax records, etc. But if you really want to get the most when selling your home (or prevail as a buyer in a market where inventory is low – which it is all over Northern VA) – it’s imperative that you work with Realtors (like The Belt Team) who not only have the free info online and in the MLS, but who pay premium dollars for the most detailed and up-to-date data available. We are your local enconomists. And this data gives our clients a leg up.

Northern VA Real Estate Market

So. 2015. Here’s what we see:

  • Interest rates rising
  • Prices rising slightly. (Note that last year’s prices rose, but not like they did in 2013. For example – in 2013, Fairfax County rose about 7%. In 2014, Fairfax County prices rose less than 2%.)
  • Low inventory.
  • Competing contracts in the lower price ranges.
  • And the early bird will get the worm – both on the buyer side and the seller side.

If you would like an in-depth analysis of YOUR micromarket, call Terry Belt & The Belt Team at (703) 242-3975 to schedule a FREE consultation.

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January 2015 National Real Estate Update

Everything you want to know about the national real estate market in a minute or less!

(When you’re ready for a HYPERLOCAL analysis – contact Terry Belt & The Belt Team at (703) 242-3975!)

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What’s Happening Nationally in Real Estate?

Here’s a one minute look at the national numbers in real estate:

  • Home Sales
  • Home Prices
  • Interest rates

If you’d like to know what’s happening in YOUR neighborhood, call our CEO, Terry Belt, at (703) 242-3975.

Home Sales Down Across The Board, What About Prices?

As professional Realtors, it’s our job to have a read on the housing market. We do this by taking the market’s temperature and by taking its pulse.

Northern VA Real Estate Temperature

So – What’s The Temperature?

“98.6”

That’s the exact number just about anyone can quote when you ask them what a normal temperature is. In real estate, we also like to know EXACT numbers.

Scroll down and you’ll find a year-over-year comparison between last year’s and this year’s home sales & home prices for each city in Northern VA. What you’ll see is that although each city varies in the exact number, the trend for the entire market is that the number of home sales is DOWN. Great Falls and Oakton lead the way with the largest home sale drop (44% and 36% down respectively). Burke & Springfield also had less home sales so far this year, but only dropped by 5% and 1%.

What About Prices?

Here we see a wide swing. Some areas have seen prices rise, while others have seen the average home price drop. Still other areas have remained flat. Dunn Loring leads the way with a 12.3% rise in price. However, with only 13 home sales so far this year, that number is probably less statistically accurate and more of an anomaly.

Chantilly and Vienna were the other two winners in largest price gain – with Chantilly prices rising 7% and Vienna right behind at 6.8%.

Quite a few areas (Alexandria, Arlington, Ashburn, Burke, Centreville, Herndon, Springfield & Sterling) are seeing prices rise, but very moderately – in the 2-4% range.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have what most consider to be the primary “luxury markets” of Northern Virginia – McLean & Great Falls. Both of these markets have seen the average home price drop since last year. McLean prices are down 3.1% and Great Falls is down 1.6%. We also have several markets that are close to flat lining. Oakton, Fairfax, Falls Church & Reston have all seen a less than 2% rise in prices.

(Search Homes For Sale in Great Falls) (Search Homes For Sale in McLean)  (Search Homes For Sale in Oakton) (Search Homes For Sale in Vienna) (Search Homes For Sale in Ashburn) (Search Homes For Sale in Springfield) (Search Homes For Sale in Burke) (Search Homes For Sale in Dunn Loring) (Search Homes For Sale in Chantilly) (Search Homes For Sale in Alexandria) (Search Homes For Sale in Arlington) (Search Homes For Sale in Herndon) (Search Homes For Sale in Fairfax) (Search Homes For Sale in Falls Church) (Search Homes For Sale in Reston) (Search Homes For Sale in Sterling)

And What’s The Pulse?

Northern VA Real Estate Pulse

When the nurse takes your pulse, it’s your heart rate that’s being measured. So as professional Realtors, we also measure the heart rate of the market. How do we do this? We monitor the “anecdotal data” we gather from open house attendance, conversations with potential & actual buyers & sellers, info from our trusted lending & settlement partners, competitive contract situations & more. That’s why a real estate team that does so many sales is much more in tune with what’s happening in the market than a solo agent.

The heart rate in Northern VA remains healthy, but it has definitely changed over the past few months. While there are still pockets where homes sell in a few days, and even have multiple contract offers; there are many areas where homes are sitting on the market for months. Open house attendance is good, but there are not many opens that are just swarmed with people. Part of this is the seasonality of the market. But part of this may also be the psychology of the market. For a variety of intangible reasons, the market seems to have softened somewhat. And buyers are a bit more tentative.

BUYERS: Before you start looking for a home, ask your Realtor to update you on YOUR market numbers . Define your market by price range and city, maybe even school district, zip code, bedrooms, acreage – whatever things are important to you. This will help you approach the market more intelligently in terms of whether you can make a low ball offer or whether you may still have to compete and pay over asking price.

SELLERS: Pricing your home to the market is the MOST important thing you can do to avoid sitting on the market for months. (Condition is second.) Many Sellers think testing the market is ok. In some cases, that strategy might work. But in most cases, all it does is lower the eventual price your home sells for and prolongs your carrying costs of the home. Statistics from the National Association of Realtors show the longer a home is on the market, the lower the price it will sell for. If you have priced the home “too low”, the market will respond accordingly and you’ll get multiple offers that bid the price back up to the max the market will bear.

Call (703) 242-3975 if you would like a zip code, school district or neighborhood analysis.

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The Belt Team’s Mission Statement is “Changing Lives For The Better” – if it’s time to change YOURS, call (703) 242-3975 or email The Belt Team and let us know how we can help! (The Belt Team is ranked in Top Teams in the State of VA – out of 30,000 Realtors).

Statistics below per MRIS – Jan 1 to July 31.

Northern VA 2013 Sales 2014 Sales Yr Over Yr Avg SP 2013 Avg SP 2014 Yr Over Yr
Alexandria 3122 2869 -8% $485,653 $500,383 3%
Arlington 1807 1644 -9% $599,888 $621,221 3.6%
Ashburn 1069 911 -15% $482,263 $495,125 2.7%
Burke 377 357 -5% $438,739 $447,383 2.0%
Centreville 638 567 -11% $386,947 $395,292 2.2%
Chantilly 513 434 -15% $449,341 $480,806 7.0%
Dunn Loring 17 13 -24% $793,618 $891,538 12.3%
Fairfax 1365 1163 -15% $494,691 $502,509 1.6%
Falls Church 941 801 -15% $504,457 $510,076 1.1%
Great Falls 177 100 -44% $1,217,869 $1,198,601 -1.6%
Herndon 525 460 -12% $469,813 $484,617 3.2%
McLean 471 418 -11% $1,082,324 $1,049,266 -3.1%
Oakton 247 159 -36% $663,576 $664,913 0.2%
Reston 732 626 -14% $457,445 $465,474 1.8%
Springfield 776 772 -1% $432,298 $446,459 3.3%
Sterling 737 676 -8% $378,760 $393,913 4.0%
Vienna 530 483 -9% $744,413 $794,770 6.8%

Real Estate Market Shift Spells “Opportunity” for Some, “Reality” For Others

Opportunity or Reality

The real estate market in Northern Virginia is continuing to experience a subtle shift. While we’re still seeing competitive situations and multiple offers on some homes in some areas, other areas are seeing average time on market as high as 6 months and housing inventory of more than a year. If you’re thinking of buying or selling your home, you will definitely want to take a look at these numbers – because numbers tell a story!

City # Homes On Market Avg Days on Market # Under Contract Past 30 days #Months Housing Supply
Vienna 242 102 73 3.3
Sterling 281 50 109 2.6
Springfield 257 52 113 2.3
Reston 283 54 97 2.9
Oakton 104 112 28 3.8
McLean 321 108 66 4.9
Herndon 237 65 77 3.1
Great Falls 224 179 15 14.9
Falls Church 296 58 117 2.5
Fairfax 445 55 182 2.5
Dunn Loring 7 49 1 7.0
Chantilly 53 51 14 3.8
Centreville 243 61 80 3.0
Burke 105 48 53 2.0
Ashburn 558 93 143 3.9
Arlington 610 75 246 2.5
Alexandria 1181 79 440 2.7

The area and price range you’re looking in will vastly affect what strategy you employ.

If you’re looking to buy in Great Falls for example, then you have a HUGE amount of leverage when making an offer. Currently, there are 224 homes for sale and the average time those homes have been on the market is SIX MONTHS. There is also a FIFTEEN MONTH supply of housing right now. That means if homes sell at the rate they have over the past 30 days, then it would take 15 months to sell all of the homes currently on the market. That spells OPPORTUNITY for buyers. And it spells REALITY for Sellers. It’s no longer the time to price aggressively to “see what the market will bear.”

(Search Homes For Sale in Great Falls)

On the other hand, if you’re looking in Burke, you’ll find the complete opposite. Average days on market for active listings is less than two months. And there is only a 2 month supply of housing. Less than 3 months housing supply means that Burke is still experiencing a Seller’s Market. What does this mean? Sellers may still be able to push the envelope; and Buyers will likely find themselves competing for homes. This means Buyers need to adjust their contract strategy accordingly – being prepared to offer more, use an escalation clause, drop contingencies, offer a free rentback or a number of other strategies.

(Search Homes For Sale in Burke)

When you look at the chart above – what you’ll see is that in general, the higher price areas (like Great Falls & McLean) are starting to see longer marketing times and a much larger housing supply. While the more affordable areas (like Burke & Springfield) are still firecely competitive.

(Search Homes For Sale in Great Falls) (Search Homes For Sale in McLean)

(Search Homes For Sale in Burke) (Search Homes For Sale in Springfield)

Areas like Vienna, Oakton & Ashburn are experiencing what we call a “W” Market. Buyers in these markets are extremely price sensitive and there are pockets of Buyer & Seller submarkets embedded within each – some Seller’s, some Buyer’s, some Balanced Markets.. As an example, we recently put 3 listings on the market in Vienna between $800,000 and $900,000. One had multiple offers and sold in 3 days over list price. The others are still on the market. We are seeing Buyers step back and make much more considered decisions – sometimes not even looking at homes they feel are overpriced, and/or not being able to look past issues like dated kitchens. This means Sellers must be much more on target when setting that initial price in order to end up at the top of the W, and not at the bottom.

(Search Homes For Sale in Vienna) (Search Homes For Sale in Oakton) (Search Homes For Sale in Ashburn)

For more info about YOUR neighborhood or the neighborhood you WANT to live in, contact The Belt Team at (703) 242-3975. We’ll help create a personal strategy for YOUR market. regardless of whether you’re buying or selling, you deserve the BEST Real Estate Team in Northern VA!

Top Northern VA Real Estate Agents

Home Sales Down, Real Estate Prices Up in Most of Northern VA

Northern VA Real Estate

A year-over-year comparison for home prices in Northern Virginia (for homes that sold Jan 1 thru June 16) shows several trends for most of Northern Virginia:

Number of Home Sales:

The number of home sales is down in almost every area of Northern VA. Burke & Dunn Loring home sales remained stable. In Springfield, home sales increased 4% this year – from 522 sales to 543 sales. However, in every other city, home sales fell. The most extreme drop in sales occurred in Great Falls, where home sales dropped 43% (from 122 sales to 70 sales).

Average Sales Price:

With three exceptions, home sale prices increased in every city in Northern Virginia. One area (Burke) remained almost stable. And two areas (Mclean and Great Falls) saw prices fall. Note that McLean and Great Falls are also the only two Northern Virginia areas where the average home price exceeded $1 million. The areas seeing the highest rise in values year over year were Herndon (6.9%), Vienna (8.4%), Chantilly (9.2%) and Dunn Loring (10.4%).

If you’re buying or selling a home, it’s imperative you know the market trends not just in YOUR city – but also your school district and neighborhood.

This will help guide your pricing strategy. Statistics are not the ONLY guide to pricing, but are an important piece of the puzzle – whether you’re a Seller deciding on where to price your home for market – or a Buyer deciding whether to offer above or below list price.

Here are specific stats for each area of Northern Virginia.

Northern VA 2013 Sales 2014 Sales Yr Over Yr Avg SP 2013 Avg SP 2014 Yr Over Yr
Alexandria 2244 2005 -11% $479,250 $498,618 4%
Arlington 1309 1174 -10% $598,657 $609,025 1.7%
Ashburn 734 593 -19% $476,335 $478,629 0.5%
Burke 255 255 0% $440,717 $439,585 -0.3%
Centreville 436 387 -11% $377,711 $379,598 0.5%
Chantilly 335 309 -8% $439,383 $479,623 9.2%
Dunn Loring 8 8 0% $761,688 $840,563 10.4%
Fairfax 962 810 -16% $484,174 $495,857 2.4%
Falls Church 646 556 -14% $486,779 $507,063 4.2%
Great Falls 122 70 -43% $1,228,030 $1,160,466 -5.5%
Herndon 366 310 -15% $452,807 $483,955 6.9%
McLean 338 281 -17% $1,067,027 $1,002,964 -6.0%
Oakton 163 105 -36% $624,298 $633,566 1.5%
Reston 509 444 -13% $447,494 $458,481 2.5%
Springfield 522 543 4% $426,240 $444,782 4.4%
Sterling 498 484 -3% $377,291 $388,738 3.0%
Vienna 373 325 -13% $734,102 $796,107 8.4%

Call (703) 242-3975 if you would like a zip code, school district or neighborhood analysis.

FREE Instant Online Home Valuation

Our New State-of-the-Art Home Search Site

The Belt Team’s Mission Statement is “Changing Lives For The Better” – if it’s time to change YOURS, call (703) 242-3975 or email The Belt Team and let us know how we can help!

Best Realtor Northern Virginia