3 Best Practices for Selling Your House This Year

A new year brings with it the opportunity for new experiences. If that resonates with you because you’re considering making a move, you’re likely juggling a mix of excitement over your next home and a sense of attachment to your current one.

A great way to ease some of those emotions and ensure you’re feeling confident in your decision is to keep these three best practices in mind.

1. Price Your Home Right

The housing market shifted in 2022 as mortgage rates rose, buyer demand eased, and the number of homes for sale grew. As a seller, you’ll want to recognize things are different now and price your house appropriately based on where the market is today. Greg McBride, Chief Financial Analyst at Bankrateexplains:

“Price your home realistically. This isn’t the housing market of April or May, so buyer traffic will be substantially slower, but appropriately priced homes are still selling quickly.”

If you price your house too high, you run the risk of deterring buyers. And if you go too low, you’re leaving money on the table. An experienced real estate agent can help determine what your ideal asking price should be.

2. Keep Your Emotions in Check

Today, homeowners are living in their houses longer. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), since 1985, the average time a homeowner has owned their home has increased from 5 to 10 years (see graph below):

3 Best Practices for Selling Your House This Year | MyKCM

This is several years longer than what used to be the historical norm. The side effect, however, is when you stay in one place for so long, you may get even more emotionally attached to your space. If it’s the first home you bought or the house where your loved ones grew up, it very likely means something extra special to you. Every room has memories, and it’s hard to detach from the sentimental value.

For some homeowners, that makes it even harder to negotiate and separate the emotional value of the house from fair market price. That’s why you need a real estate professional to help you with the negotiations along the way.

3. Stage Your Home Properly

While you may love your decor and how you’ve customized your home over the years, not all buyers will feel the same way about your design. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you focus on your home’s first impression so it appeals to as many buyers as possible. As NAR says:

“Staging is the art of preparing a home to appeal to the greatest number of potential buyers in your market. The right arrangements can move you into a higher price-point and help buyers fall in love the moment they walk through the door.”

Buyers want to envision themselves in the space so it truly feels like it could be their own. They need to see themselves inside with their furniture and keepsakes – not your pictures and decorations. A real estate professional can help you with tips to get your house ready to sell.

If you’re considering selling your house, call The Belt Team today so we an help you through the process while prioritizing these best practices.

703-242-3975 | Info@TheBeltTeam.com | Contact Us

Be sure to follow our blog, as well as our pages on Facebook & Instagram and our YouTube channel, to get our updates on the real estate market, community happenings and much more!

Top Questions About Selling Your Home This Winter

There’s no denying the housing market is undergoing a shift this season, and that may leave you with some questions about whether it still makes sense to sell your house. Here are three of the top questions you may be asking – and the data that helps answer them – so you can make a confident decision.

1. Should I Wait To Sell?

Even though the supply of homes for sale has increased in 2022, inventory is still low overall. That means it’s still a sellers’ market. The graph below helps put the inventory growth into perspective. Using data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), it shows just how far off we are from flipping to a buyers’ market:

Top Questions About Selling Your Home This Winter | MyKCM

While buyers have regained some negotiation power as inventory has grown, you haven’t missed your window to sell. Your house could still stand out since inventory is low, especially if you list now while other sellers hold off until after the holiday rush and the start of the new year.

2. Are Buyers Still Out There?

If you’re thinking of selling your house but are hesitant because you’re worried buyer demand has disappeared in the face of higher mortgage rates, know that isn’t the case for everyone. While demand has eased this year, millennials are still looking for homes. As an article in Forbes explains:

At about 80 million strong, millennials currently make up the largest share of homebuyers (43%) in the U.S., according to a recent National Association of Realtors (NAR) report. Simply due to their numbers and eagerness to become homeowners, this cohort is quite literally shaping the next frontier of the homebuying process. Once known as the ‘rent generation,’ millennials have proven to be savvy buyers who are quite nimble in their quest to own real estate. In fact, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say they are the key to the overall health and stability of the current housing industry.”

While the millennial generation has been dubbed the renter generation, that namesake may not be appropriate anymore. Millennials, the largest generation, are actually a significant driving force for buyer demand in the housing market today. If you’re wondering if buyers are still out there, know that there are still people who are searching for a home to buy today. And your house may be exactly what they’re looking for.

3. Can I Afford To Buy My Next Home?

If current market conditions have you worried about how you’ll afford your next move, consider this: you may have more equity in your current home than you realize.

Homeowners have gained significant equity over the past few years and that equity can make a big difference in the affordability equation, especially with mortgage rates higher now than they were last year. According to Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American:

“. . . homeowners, in aggregate, have historically high levels of home equity. For some of those equity-rich homeowners, that means moving and taking on a higher mortgage rate isn’t a huge deal—especially if they are moving to a more affordable city.” 

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking about selling your house this season, reach out to The Belt Team so you have the expert insights you need to make the best possible move today.

703-242-3975 | Info@TheBeltTeam.com | Contact Us

2022 Fall Foliage Prediction Map

It’s that time of year again…time to start planning your leaf-peeping for the fall! If you are a fan of fall like we are, you’ll be excited to know that SmokyMountains.com has released it’s annual interactive fall foliage prediction map!

The 2022 Fall Foliage Map is the ultimate visual planning guide to the annual progressive changing of the leaves. While no tool can be 100% accurate, this tool is meant to help travelers better time their trips to have the best opportunity of catching peak color each year.

SmokyMountains.com

“What started as a fun side-project quickly became the most respected nationwide fall leaf map and one of the best fall resources in the country,” says David Angotti, the map’s creator, to Travel + Leisure’s Stacey Leasca. “Now, tens of millions of people use our map each year to plan vacations, weddings and photography trips.”

According to the Virginia Department of Forestry, Virginia generally peaks between October 10th and 31st but can vary year to year based on things like temperatures, rain, wind, etc. As seen on the map below, between October 24th and the 31st is predicted to be peak for much of Virginia this year.

Some top spots to view fall colors in Virginia include:

Shenandoah National Park

Whitetop Mountain

Potomac Heritage Trail

And…head over to the Virginia.org’s travel blog to see many more options for leaf viewing throughout the state!

Some fun facts about autumn leaves:

  1. Why do leaves change their color? Both chlorophyll and carotenoids are present in the chloroplasts of leaf cells throughout the growing season. During this time, chlorophyll is produced and broken down, and leaves appear green. As days get shorter, chlorophyll production slows down until it stops. The green color is no longer visible, and other pigments present (carotenoids) with the chlorophyll are then revealed. During autumn, bright light and excess plant sugars produce anthocyanins within leaf cells.
  2. Why do leaves fall? In order to cope with the harsh winter temperatures, trees slowly close off the veins that carry water and nutrients to and from the leaves with a layer of new cells that form at the base of the leaf stem, protecting the limbs and body of the tree. Once this process is done, water and nutrients no longer flow to and from the leaf enabling the leaf to die and weaken at the stem, eventually falling gracefully to the ground.
  3. What happens to fallen leaves? When leaves fall to the ground, they begin to break down and eventually create a rich humus on the forest floor that absorbs dew and rainfall. This nutrient rich ‘sponge’ acts as a continual source of nutrients and water for trees and plants, helping to promote life and plant health in the next spring season.

Additional resources:

So get your calendars out and start planning this year’s fall foliage trip! And let us know your favorite place to view the autumn colors!

Sources: SmokyMountains.com; VA Department of Forestry; TravelandLeisure.com; Virginia.org

How to keep your house cool in this heat!

Since we’ve all been dealing with high summer temperatures we asked our friends at John Nugent & Sons for some tips on how to keep the COOL IN and the HEAT OUT! Here you go….

  1. Check for leaks in doors and windows.
  2. Change/clean air filters every month…more frequently if you have pets.
  3. Close curtains to block the sun’s rays during the heat of the day.
  4. Make good use of ceiling fans.
  5. Close air vents in unused rooms.
  6. Consider purchasing a programmable thermostat.
  7. And…remember to schedule regular maintenance and safety checks for your home’s HVAC systems!

Thanks to John Nugent & Sons for the great tips!!

Why You Need an Expert To Determine the Right Price for Your House

If your lifestyle has changed recently and you’re ready to make a move, taking advantage of today’s sellers’ market might be just the answer for your summer plans. With homes continuing to get multiple offers, this could be your moment to get the contract you’re looking for on your house if you’re ready to sell.

And here’s the thing – you need an expert on your side to ensure you make all the right moves when you do, especially when it comes to pricing your house. Even in this competitive market, you can’t stick just any price tag on your home and get the deal you want. A key piece of the puzzle is setting the right asking price so you can help buyers notice your home (and get excited about it) from the very first time they view the listing. That’s where a real estate professional comes in.

Why Pricing Your House Right Is Important 

The price you set for your house sends a message to potential buyers. Price it too low and you might raise questions about your home’s condition or lead buyers to assume something is wrong with the property. Not to mention, if you undervalue your house, you could leave money on the table which decreases your future buying power.

On the other hand, price it too high, and you run the risk of deterring buyers. When that happens, you may have to do a price drop to try to re-ignite interest in your house when it sits on the market for a while. But be aware that a price drop can be seen as a red flag for some buyers who will wonder why the price was reduced and what that means about the home.

In other words, think of pricing your home as a target. Your goal is to aim directly for the center – not too high, not too low, but right at market value. Pricing your house fairly based on market conditions increases the chance you’ll have more buyers who are interested in purchasing it. That makes it more likely you’ll see multiple offers, too. And if a bidding war happens, you’ll likely get an even higher final sale price. Plus, when homes are priced right, they tend to sell quickly.

To get a look into the potential downsides of over or underpricing your house and the perks that come with pricing it at market value, see the chart below:

Why You Need an Expert To Determine the Right Price for Your House | MyKCM

Lean on a Professional’s Expertise 

There are several factors that go into pricing your house, and balancing them is the key. That’s why it’s important to lean on an expert real estate advisor when you’re ready to move. A local real estate advisor is knowledgeable about:

  • The value of homes in your neighborhood
  • The current demand for houses in today’s market
  • The condition of your house and how it affects the value

A real estate professional will balance these factors to make sure the price of your house makes the best first impression and gives you the greatest return on your investment in the end.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking about selling, pricing your house appropriately is key. Let’s connect to make sure your house is priced right for the local market, for your home’s condition, and to stand out from the competition.

703-242-3975 | Info@TheBeltTeam.com | Contact Us

Be sure to follow our blog, as well as our pages on Facebook & Instagram and our YouTube channel, to get our updates on the real estate market, community happenings and much more!

Sellers Have an Opportunity with Today’s Home Prices

As mortgage rates started to rise this year, many homeowners began to wonder if the value of their homes would fall. Here’s the good news. Historically, when mortgage rates rise by a percentage point or more, home values continue to appreciate. The latest data on home prices seems to confirm that trend.

According to data from CoreLogic, home price appreciation has been re-accelerating since November. The graph below shows this increase in home price appreciation in green:

Sellers Have an Opportunity as Home Prices Re-Accelerate | MyKCM

This is largely due to an ongoing imbalance in supply and demand. Specifically, housing supply is still low, and demand is high. As mortgage rates started to rise this year, many homebuyers rushed to make their purchases before those rates could climb higher. The increased competition drove home prices up even more. Selma Hepp, Deputy Chief Economist at CoreLogicexplains:

“Home price growth continued to gain speed in early spring, as eager buyers tried to get in front of the mortgage rate surge.”

And experts say prices are forecast to continue appreciating, just at a more moderate pace moving forward. A recent article from Fortune says:

“. . . the swift move up in mortgage rates . . . doesn’t mean home prices are about to crash. In fact, every major real estate firm with a publicly released forecast model . . . still predicts home prices will climb further this year.”

What This Means for You

If you’re thinking about selling your house, you should know you have a great opportunity to list your home and capitalize on today’s home price appreciation. As prices rise, so does the value of your home, which gives your equity a big boost.

When you sell, you can use that equity toward the purchase of your next home. And at today’s record-level of appreciation, that equity may be enough to cover some (if not all) of your down payment.

Bottom Line

History shows rising mortgage rates have not had a negative impact on home prices. Now is still a great time to sell your house thanks to ongoing price appreciation. When you’re ready to find out how much equity you have in your current home and what’s happening with home prices in your local area, let’s connect.

703-242-3975 | Info@TheBeltTeam.com | Contact Us

Be sure to follow our blog, as well as our pages on Facebook & Instagram and our YouTube channel, to get our updates on the real estate market, community happenings and much more!

Your House Could Be Closer to List-Ready Than You Think

One of the biggest concerns for a homeowner looking to sell is the time they’ll have to put in before listing their house. If that’s the case for you, you should know – your home might be closer to list-ready than you think in today’s housing market. A survey of recent sellers from realtor.com finds that many were able to get their house ready in less than a month. It says:

“With many homeowners expecting a quick sale, and in many cases a lack of contingencies, the preparation process took less than a month for over 50% of home sellers this past year, with 20% completing it in less than two weeks.

Those sellers expecting to sell quickly are following recent buyer trends. With mortgage rates and home prices rising, buyers in today’s market are serious about finding a home quickly. But with the limited number of homes for sale, there are very few options for those buyers to choose from. That means many may be willing to take on projects after they purchase.

Because of this, you may be able to focus on less time-consuming tasks before putting your house on the market. According to the survey mentioned above, some of the top things recent sellers completed before listing over the past year include landscaping, making minor cosmetic updates, and touching-up paint (see image below):

Your House Could Be Closer to List-Ready Than You Think | MyKCM

A Real Estate Advisor Will Help Streamline the Process and Keep You Focused

Of course, each situation is different, and knowing what repairs or updates your house needs to stand out in your local area is critical. That’s where a trusted real estate professional comes in. In a recent article, NextAdvisor explains:

“. . . Real estate can be hyper-local, and demand can vary from one neighborhood to the next. It’s a good idea to work with a local real estate professional to determine an ideal listing price and if any improvements or repairs need to be completed before putting your home on the market.”

Your trusted real estate advisor knows the ins and outs of the market in your specific area. They’ll help you identify the places where you should and shouldn’t spend your time and money – and that can enable you to list quickly.

Bottom Line

If you’re ready to take advantage of the incredible conditions for sellers in today’s real estate market but are worried about the time it’ll take to get your home ready, you might be closer than you think. Let’s connect so you can see what you need to do before listing your house today.

703-242-3975 | Info@TheBeltTeam.com | Contact Us

Be sure to follow our blog, as well as our pages on Facebook & Instagram and our YouTube channel, to get our updates on the real estate market, community happenings and much more!

How To Approach Rising Mortgage Rates as a Buyer

In the last few weeks, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate from Freddie Mac inched up to 5%. While that news may have you questioning the timing of your home search, the truth is, timing has never been more important. Even though you may be tempted to put your plans on hold in hopes that rates will fall, waiting will only cost you more. Mortgage rates are forecast to continue rising in the year ahead.

If you’re thinking of buying a home, here are a few things to keep in mind so you can succeed even as mortgage rates rise. 

How Rising Mortgage Rates Impact You

Mortgage rates play a significant role in your home search. As rates go up, they impact how much you’ll pay in your monthly mortgage payment, which directly affects how much you can comfortably afford. Here’s an example of how even a quarter-point increase can have a big impact on your monthly payment (see chart below):

How To Approach Rising Mortgage Rates as a Buyer | MyKCM

With mortgage rates on the rise, you’ve likely seen your purchasing power impacted already. Instead of delaying your plans, today’s rates should motivate you to purchase now before rates increase more. Use that motivation to energize your search and plan your next steps accordingly.

The best way to prepare is to work with a trusted real estate advisor now. An agent can connect you with a trusted lender, help you adjust your search based on your budget, and make sure you’re ready to act quickly when it’s time to make an offer.

Bottom Line

Serious buyers should approach rising rates as a motivating factor to buy sooner, not a reason to wait. Waiting will cost you more in the long run. Let’s connect today so you can better understand your budget and be prepared to buy your home even before rates climb higher.

703-242-3975 | Info@TheBeltTeam.com | Contact Us

Be sure to follow our blog, as well as our pages on Facebook & Instagram and our YouTube channel, to get our updates on the real estate market, community happenings and much more!

What You Need To Know if You’re Thinking About Building a Home

If you’re ready to move up, you may be trying to decide whether you want to buy a home that’s already on the market or build a new one. And since the supply of homes available for sale today is low, you’re willing to consider either avenue. While home builders are doing everything they can to construct more houses and help narrow the supply shortage, they’re also facing delays due to factors outside of their control.

Here’s the latest on some of the key challenges homebuilders are experiencing today and how they could impact your plans to move up. When you know what’s happening in the industry, you can make an informed decision on whether to look for a newly built or an existing home in your home search.

Supply Chain Issues 

The first hurdle builders are dealing with is the lack of supply of various building materials. According to a recent article from HousingWire:

. . . Nearly everything needed in the homebuilding process is facing some sort of delay and subsequent price increase.”

The supply issue isn’t just with lumber, even though that’s what’s covered most in the news. The article explains many other supplies are impacted too, including roofing materials, windows, garage doors, siding, and gypsum (which is used in drywall).

The difficulty in getting these items is dragging out timelines for new homes as builders wait on what they need to finish construction. And since materials are in short supply, even when they do get the product, the principle of supply and demand is driving prices up for those goods. HousingWire explains it like this:

When supplies are low, charges inevitably go up, . . . Meanwhile, a lack of availability is causing huge delays, meaning builders are struggling to stay on schedule.”

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) agrees:

Builders are grappling with supply-chain issues that are extending construction times and increasing costs.”

Skilled Labor Shortage

But that’s not the only challenge with new home construction today. Builders are also having a hard time finding skilled labor, which means they’re short-handed, further dragging out their timelines. Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First Americansays this is an ongoing challenge for the industry:

The skilled labor shortage in the construction industry is not new – it’s been an issue for more than a decade now.”

But there is good news. The February jobs report shows employment gains in the construction industry. Kushi puts this encouraging news into perspective in the article mentioned above:

“Overall this was a good report, . . . The supply of workers continues to fall short of demand, but the underlying momentum of the labor market recovery is strong, and falling COVID case counts provide further forward momentum.”

That means, while finding workers continues to be a challenge for builders, there are signs of positive momentum moving forward.

How This Impacts You

HousingWire explains how these things can impact move-up buyers today:

The residential construction industry is facing a crisis as builders manage the critical shortage of building materials and labor. Explosive supply and labor costs are forcing long delays. . . .” 

So, when you weigh your options and try to decide between building a home or buying an existing one, factor the potential delay in new home construction into your decision. While it doesn’t mean you should cross newly built homes off your list, it does mean you should consider your timeline and if you’re willing to wait while your home is being constructed.

Bottom Line

When planning your next move, understanding the latest market conditions is key to making the best decision possible. To make sure you have all the information you need, let’s connect. Together we can make sure you know what’s happening in our local market so you can confidently decide what’s right for you, your priorities, and your timeline.

703-242-3975 | Info@TheBeltTeam.com | Contact Us

Be sure to follow our blog, as well as our pages on Facebook & Instagram and our YouTube channel, to get our updates on the real estate market, community happenings and much more!

Wellness Wednesday…Valentine’s Day Edition!

Where there is chocolate🍫 there is happiness! Where there is Dark Chocolate, there is health & happiness!😊

Yes, it’s true! Loaded with antioxidants, dark chocolate possesses superfood characteristics that help with inflammation and has a number of other health benefits including:

-Reduces the risk of heart disease 

-Lowers cholesterol 

-Helps brain function

-Helps blood flow

-And…makes us happy 😊 

(make sure your dark chocolate 70% cocoa content or more)

Now that we have a new love of dark chocolate, other than enjoying it like any other candy bar, what can we do with it? 

Here are some ideas:

  1. Melt it and dip in your favorite fruits like strawberries, bananas or apples 
  2. Make hot chocolate
  3. Put it in cookies
  4. Add it to your oatmeal
  5. Sprinkle it over Greek yogurt
  6. Add it to pancakes instead of chocolate chips 
  7. Add it to your chocolate protein shake

Happy Valentine’s Day💖

Sarina Belt – Former NASM Certified Personal Trainer | Schwinn Certified Spin Instructor | Former AFFA Certified Group Fitness Instructor

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