Renovate or Move up?

A common question we get from our clients is “Should we put our money into renovations or sell and move up?”

If you are asking yourself the same questions give us a call. We can setup a consultation to see what might be the better option for you! 703-242-3975

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

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

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

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

7 Things Home Sellers Should Not Say

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

1. Reason for selling

2. Motivation/urgency to sell

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

4. Terms under which you would sell

5. Relocation, timing, benefits & policies

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

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

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

FREE – What Is My Home Worth?

42 Questions To Ask When Selling Your Home

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

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

Tips To Prepare Your Home For Sale

When listing your house for sale your top goal will be to get the home sold for the best price possible! And we’re sure you’d also like to sell it quickly. After all, who likes keeping their home spotless day after day, week after week, month after month – especially if you have children and pets!

Well, there are a myriad of small projects you can get started on NOW to help make that happen. Check out the infographic below and when you’re ready for a FREE consultation from one of our Listing Specialists, call Terry Belt & The Belt Team at (703) 242-3975.

When you schedule your appointment, they will also share with you our FREE REPORT “Ninety Tips To Prepare Your Home For The Market”! And they can help you with finding contractors if needed in the preparation process.

Credit: Keeping Current Matters
Credit: Keeping Current Matters

Selling Your Home in 2017? Easy Tip to Do NOW!

If you’re thinking of selling your Northern VA home in 2017, it’s never too early to prepare. Here’s an easy tip to get you started!

If you’re thinking of selling in the January to April timeframe, now is a great time for a photo shoot. Get some shots of the autumn leaves. Then when you put your home on the market this winter or early next year – when things are dead and brown – you’ll still be able to showcase your home at its best!

(Don’t forget to email The Belt Team and ask for our FREE Report “Questions To Ask Your Realtor When Selling A House”)

Inverness at Penderbrook Fairfax TH

Snow landscapes made lovely shots to show in that “in between” time in February-March, when it’s almost Spring, but the flowers aren’t blooming yet.

Snow Day in Vienna VA

(If you’re really organized, you can do what some of our past sellers have done and sign your listing now so we can have our professional photographer come out and shoot photos for you!)

Give Terry Belt or Kevin Kleifges a call at (703) 242-3975 to schedule a pre-listing walkthrough. Fall and winter are a great time to start thinking about the updates and repairs you might need to make in preparation for next year. And you’ll want to talk to them first to ensure you don’t waste time or money on things that really aren’t necessary.

If you’re wondering about Northern Virginia Market Statistics – click the links below to find out: How fast are homes selling? What’s happening with prices? Buyer’s Market or Seller’s Market?

The Northern VA Real Estate Market Is Shifting – Special Message from CEO Terry Belt

I’ve lived in Northern VA for almost my entire life. And I’m a third generation real estate agent. I know both our area and real estate well! One thing I know for sure is that the real estate market is not a straight, static line and it never will be. It is always moving.

I believe we are going to see our next shift in the next 12 months or so. Local bankers and experts are giving it 12-24 months in the Northern VA – Washington DC area market before it hits. I’m calling it sooner, and yet who knows? This means I believe we will move into neutrality, then back into a Buyer’s Market. We are likely at the peak of this Seller’s cycle between now and Spring. In fact, some parts of our market have already shifted notably over the past 3 months.

I recently returned from masterminding with Gary Keller, the Chairman of the Board of Keller Williams Realty (the world’s largest real estate company with over 140,000 Realtors), and with our Top 100 agents. Approximately half of the metropolitan areas in the USA are already undergoing this shift. I am tracking it closely. We may or may not have one more spring as crazy and frenetic as this past one was, with multiple offers in the entry price ranges and buyers beating down seller’s doors. As one of the area’s top teams, The Belt Team has been privileged to help 71 families buy and sell homes so far this year, and we expect to help many more in the coming months. We have an excellent handle on the market and especially the micro markets throughout Northern VA and Washington DC. Sometimes those micromarkets are geographical and sometimes they are price driven.

What does this mean for you? Well our market has two primary seasons, although we are lucky that we don’t have extreme seasonality here. The majority of our residential real estate sales come in the spring. Our secondary market is fall: September/October. If you have been thinking about selling your home in the next few years, I highly urge you to email or call me (703-242-3975) so we can begin the conversation about home prep, pricing, and timing. You may not decide to sell now, and yet I highly recommend having the conversation now. I think selling in the next 60 days is outstanding timing.

Call, or email any time. We are happy to talk and meet with you, advise you on preparations & timing, and to give you a property and pricing analysis of your home with no obligation. Feel free to browse our website. I look forward to a continued conversation.

Best,
Terry Belt
CEO, The Belt Team

CEO The Belt Team

Selling Your Home? Thinking of “Trying” The Market?

Price-It-Right-STM- Keeping Current Matter.jpgWhich strategy works best – pricing BELOW the market, pricing AT the market, or pricing ABOVE the market just to see if you can get your price?

Well, that all depends. On YOUR market. If you’d like to talk strategy and find out about YOUR SPECIFIC market, contact The Belt Team. In the meantime, here’s some great info from Keeping Current Matters. We happen to think in many cases it makes a LOT of sense. (Note: Not ALL markets are the same. There are NO absolutes. Call us at 703-242-3975 to find out about YOURS.)


In today’s market, where demand is outpacing supply in many regions of the country, pricing a house is one of the biggest challenges real estate professionals face. Sellers often want to price their home higher than recommended, and many agents go along with the idea to keep their clients happy. However, the best agents realize that telling the homeowner the truth is more important than getting the seller to like them.

There is no “later.”

Sellers sometimes think, “If the home doesn’t sell for this price, I can always lower it later.” However, research proves that homes that experience a listing price reduction sit on the market longer, ultimately selling for less than similar homes.

John Knight, recipient of the University Distinguished Faculty Award from theEberhardt School of Business at the University of the Pacific, actually did research on the cost (in both time and money) to a seller who priced high at the beginning and then lowered their price. His article, Listing Price, Time on Market and Ultimate Selling Price, published in Real Estate Economics revealed:

“Homes that underwent a price revision sold for less, and the greater the revision, the lower the selling price. Also, the longer the home remains on the market, the lower its ultimate selling price.”

Additionally, the “I’ll lower the price later” approach can paint a negative image in buyers’ minds. Each time a price reduction occurs, buyers can naturally think,“Something must be wrong with that house.” Then when a buyer does make an offer, they low-ball the price because they see the seller as “highly motivated.”Pricing it right from the start eliminates these challenges.

Don’t build “negotiation room” into the price.

Many sellers say that they want to price their home high in order to have“negotiation room.” But, what this actually does is lower the number of potential buyers that see the house. And we know that limiting demand like this will negatively impact the sales price of the house.

Not sure about this? Think of it this way: when a buyer is looking for a home online (as they are doing more and more often), they put in their desired price range. If your seller is looking to sell their house for $400,000, but lists it at $425,000 to build in “negotiation room,” any potential buyers that search in the $350k-$400k range won’t even know your listing is available, let alone come see it!

One great way to see this is with the chart below. The higher you price your home over its market value, the less potential buyers will actually see your home when searching.

Selling Your Home? Make Sure the Price Is Right! | Simplifying The Market

A better strategy would be to price it properly from the beginning and bring in multiple offers. This forces these buyers to compete against each other for the“right” to purchase your house.

Look at it this way: if you only receive one offer, you are set up in an adversarial position against the prospective buyer. If, however, you have multiple offers, you have two or more buyers fighting to please you. Which will result in a better selling situation?

The Price is Right

Great pricing comes down to truly understanding the real estate dynamics in your neighborhood. Let’s get together to discuss what is happening in the housing market and how it applies to your home.


FREE, Instant Online Home Valuation Estimate

Search our STATE-OF-THE-ART Home Finder Site

For more questions or for a specific update on YOUR neighborhood – call Terry Belt & The Belt Team at (703) 242-3975 for a FREE Buyer or Seller Consultation. Don’t you deserve the BEST Realtor in Northern Virginia?!

“Four Months Is Cray-Cray”

We often share with your the research that is brought to us by Keeping Current Matters. Recently, they quoted Jonathan Smoke, Chief Economist for Realtor.com. He said

“The increase in sales is resulting in continued tighter-than-tight supply—measured by NAR to be four months in January.  For you non-economists out there, that metric measures the number of months it would take to sell the current inventory of available homes, at the current pace. Got it? Six to seven months’ worth of homes on the market is considered normal; four months is cray-cray.”

I read that and thought, “Wow if four months is cray-ray, what is two months?” You see, places all around Northern Virginia are sitting at two months or less of housing inventory. That’s a Seller’s Market folks.

Search our state of the art home search site.

Low Inventory in Northern VA - Keeping Current MattersBuyers – you gotta be prepared. Sellers – NOW is the time.

Buyers – it’s not always price that wins a contract. Talk to your Realtor about price, AND about strategies in terms of:

  • Earnest money deposit
  • Whether or not to waive home inspection
  • Whether or not to waive financing contingency
  • Whether or not to waive appraisal contingency
  • Closing date
  • Escalation clauses
  • Introduction letters
  • Other important terms to the seller (example: they may want to rent back for a short time)
  • Finding homes to buy that are off market or before they hot the market

Sellers – preparing your home & pricing right up front will net you the MOST. Talk to your Realtor about strategies to elicit multiple offers. (Click here for an INSTANT online value estimate of your home and then call 703-242-3975 for a FREE personalized consultation.)

P.S. – Beware of selling on your own without a Realtor. You may save commission dollars, but you will likely net less on your bottom line. According to NAR, only 2% of Buyers purchased a home from a Seller they didn’t already know. 92% of Buyers used the internet and of those, 95% used an agent, builder or builder’s agent. So selling on your own can severely limit your exposure and consequently your final yield.


Keeping in mind the definitions that less than 3 months inventory is a Seller’s Market, 3-6 months is a Balanced Market, and more than 6 months is a Buyer’s Market – where do the towns and cities of Northern Virginia stand today:

Buyer’s Markets

  • Great Falls – 6.7 months

Balanced Markets

  • Dunn Loring – 5 months
  • McLean – 4 months

Seller’s Markets

  • Alexandria – 1.6 months
  • Annandale – 1.4 months
  • Arlington – 1.8 months
  • Ashburn – 1.8 months
  • Burke – 1.1 months
  • Centreville – 1.1 months
  • Chantilly – 1.5 months
  • Clifton – 2.7 months
  • Fairfax Station – 1.5 months
  • Falls Church – 1.7 months
  • Herndon – 1.4 months
  • Oakton – 2.1 months
  • Reston – 1.4 months
  • Springfield – 1 month
  • Sterling – Less than 1 month
  • Vienna – 2.7 months

Search our state of the art home finder site where listings are updated FASTER than other sites.

If you’re thinking of buying or selling in this “cray-cray” market, email or call Terry Belt & The Belt Team at (703) 242-3975. We specialize in real estate success stories. We’ll help you make the BEST move in today’s market.

Top Realtors Northern VA

Sell Now or Wait Until April?

Sell Now or Wait Until SpringIf you’re wondering whether you should sell now or wait until true Spring – April, May or June – you might want to read the latest info from Keeping Current Matters:


Just like our clocks this weekend in the majority of the country, the housing market will soon “spring forward!” Similar to tension in a spring, the lack of inventory available for sale in the market right now is what is holding back the market.

Many potential sellers believe that waiting until Spring is in their best interest, and traditionally they would have been right.

Buyer demand has seasonality to it, which usually falls off in the winter months, especially in areas of the country impacted by arctic temperatures and conditions.

That hasn’t happened this year. Demand for housing has remained strong as mortgage rates have remained near historic lows.

 

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently reported that the top 10 dates Sellers listed their homes in 2015 all fell in April, May or June.

 

Those who act quickly and list now could benefit greatly from additional exposure to buyers prior to a flood of more competition coming to market in the next few months.


CEO The Belt TeamKevin Kleifges, Realtor, The Belt Team, Keller Williams RealtyBottom Line

If you’re planning on selling your home in 2016, NOW is the time to meet with The Belt Team to evaluate the opportunities in YOUR market. Call Terry Belt or Kevin Kleifges at (703) 242-3975 to schedule a consultation.

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.

FREE, Instant Northern VA Home Value Estimate

STATE-OF-THE-ART Northern VA Home Search Site

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.

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