A Look Back at 2022 & Happy New Year!

Here we are at the beginning of another year…where does the time go?! The 2022 real estate market had its ups and downs but one thing that was, and remains, consistent for The Belt Team is the trust & support from all of our clients, friends and family. And for that we are grateful!

As we reflected on this past year, we thought it would be fun to put together a short video of some of our favorite moments from 2022 for you to enjoy!

Sending each and every one of you our best wishes for a happy and healthy 2023!

Terry Belt and The Belt Team

Should You Buy a Home with Inflation This High?

While the Federal Reserve is working hard to bring down inflation, the latest data shows the inflation rate is still going up. You no doubt are feeling the pinch on your wallet at the gas pump or the grocery store, but that news may also leave you wondering: should I still buy a home right now?

Greg McBride, Chief Financial Analyst at Bankrateexplains how inflation is affecting the housing market:

Inflation will have a strong influence on where mortgage rates go in the months ahead. . . . Whenever inflation finally starts to ease, so will mortgage rates — but even then, home prices are still subject to demand and very tight supply.”

No one knows how long it’ll take to bring down inflation, and that means the future trajectory of mortgage rates is also unclear. While that uncertainty isn’t comfortable, here’s why both inflation and mortgage rates are important for you and your homeownership plans.

When you buy a home, the mortgage rate and the price of the home matter. Higher mortgage rates impact how much you’ll pay for your monthly mortgage payment – and that directly affects how much you can comfortably afford. And while there’s no denying it’s more expensive to buy and finance a home this year than it was last year, it doesn’t mean you should pause your search. Here’s why.

Homeownership Is Historically a Great Hedge Against Inflation

In an inflationary economy, prices rise across the board. Historically, homeownership is a great hedge against those rising costs because you can lock in what’s likely your largest monthly payment (your mortgage) for the duration of your loan. That helps stabilize some of your monthly expenses. Not to mention, as home prices continue to appreciate, your home’s value will too. That’s why Mark Cussen, Financial Writer at Investopediasays: 

Real estate is one of the time-honored inflation hedges. It’s a tangible asset, and those tend to hold their value when inflation reigns, unlike paper assets. More specifically, as prices rise, so do property values.”

Also, no one is calling for homes to lose value. As Selma Hepp, Deputy Chief Economist at CoreLogicsays:

“The current home price growth rate is unsustainable, and higher mortgage rates coupled with more inventory will lead to slower home price growth but unlikely declines in home prices.”

In a nutshell, your home search doesn’t have to go on hold because of rising inflation or higher mortgage rates. There’s more to consider when it comes to why you want to buy a home. In addition to shielding yourself from the impact of inflation and growing your wealth through ongoing price appreciation, there are other reasons to buy a home right now like addressing your changing needs and so much more.

Bottom Line 

Homeownership is one of the best decisions you can make in an inflationary economy. You get the benefit of the added security of owning your home in a time when experts are forecasting prices to continue to rise.

Please reach out if you need assistance in buying your next home.

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

Keller Williams Red Day 2022!

⏰THE COUNTDOWN TO RED DAY IS ON!!! ⏰

Since 2010, the Keller Williams McLean/Great Falls annual RED Day has consistently supported local charities with large annual contributions.

This year, our goal is $20,000. We are asking you to help us with a tax-deductible financial contribution.

Please consider a gift of any amount to help the Falls Church/McLean Children’s Center provide much-needed resources for their programs that prepare young children, particularly those in need, for school. Our KW Cares McLean/Great Falls fund will MATCH the first $10,000 donated.

Donate here! https://bit.ly/3fljTyq

The U.S. News 2022 Best High School Rankings Are Out!

The U.S. News annual high school rankings include data from schools (24,000 public high schools) in all 50 states and Washington DC. They rank almost 18,000 schools based on state assessment performance and how well they prepare students for college.

In the 2022 National Rankings, the top 2 schools remained the same as last year (spoiler alert…#1 is in Virginia!!) however there were some changes to the other 8 in the top 10.

How well did Virginia high schools do? 323 schools in our state made the list…here’s a list of the top 10:

#1 – Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (and #1 overall in National Ranking)

#2 – Langley High School (#136 in National Rankings)

#3 – McLean High School (#157 in National Rankings)

#4 – Open High School (#177 in National Rankings)

#5 – Marshall High School (#247 in National Rankings)

#6 – Oakton High School (#282 in National Rankings)

#7 – W.T. Woodson High School (#337 in National Rankings)

#8 – Madison High School (#361 in National Rankings)

#9 – Richmond Community High School (#364 in National Rankings)

#10 – West Springfield High School (#434 in National Rankings)

Click Here for the complete list of Virginia Schools

Click Here for the complete National Ranking list

Here are the six factors on which U.S News based their assessment:

  • College readiness
  • State assessment proficiency
  • State assessment performance
  • Underserved student performance
  • College curriculum readth
  • Graduation rate

Additional ranking lists:

Best Charter Schools

Best Magnet Schools

Best STEM Schools

Looking for a home in a particular school district? Reach out to The Belt Team and let our 33+ years of experience in the Northern Virginia Area work for you!

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

What You Need To Budget for When Buying a Home

When it comes to buying a home, it can feel a bit intimidating to know how much you need to save and where to find that information. But you should know, you’re not expected to have all the answers yourself. There are many trusted professionals who can help you understand your finances and what you’ll need to budget for throughout the process.

To get you started, here are a few things experts say you should plan for along the way.

1. Down Payment

As you set your savings goal for your purchase, your down payment is likely already top of mind. And, like many other people, you may believe you need to set aside 20% of the home’s purchase price for that down payment – but that’s not always the case. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) says:

One of the biggest misconceptions among housing consumers is what the typical down payment is and what amount is needed to enter homeownership. Having this knowledge is critical to know what to save . . .”

The good news is, you may be able to put as little as 3.5% (or even 0%) down in some situations. To understand your options, partner with a trusted professional who can go over the various loan types, down payment assistance programs, and what each one requires.

2. Earnest Money Deposit

Another item you may want to plan for is an earnest money deposit. While it isn’t required, it’s common in today’s highly competitive market because it can help your offer stand out in a bidding war.

So, what is it? It’s money you pay as a show of good faith when you make an offer on a house. This deposit works like a credit. You’re using some of the money you already saved for your purchase to show the seller you’re committed and serious about their house. It’s not an added expense, it’s just paying some of that up front. First American explains what it is and how it works:

The deposit made from the buyer to the seller when submitting an offer. This deposit is typically held in trust by a third party and is intended to show the seller you are serious about purchasing their home. Upon closing the money will generally be applied to your down payment or closing costs.”

In other words, an earnest money deposit could be the very first check you’ll write toward your purchase. The amount varies by state and situation. Realtor.com elaborates:

The amount you’ll deposit as earnest money will depend on factors such as policies and limitations in your state, the current market, what your real estate agent recommends, and what the seller requires. On average, however, you can expect to hand over 1% to 2% of the total home purchase price.”

Work with a real estate advisor to understand any requirements in your local area and what they’ve recommended for other buyers in your market. They’ll help you determine if it’s something that could be a useful option for you.

3. Closing Costs 

The next thing to plan for is your closing costs. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) defines closing costs as:

The upfront fees charged in connection with a mortgage loan transaction. …generally including, but not limited to a loan origination fee, title examination and insurance, survey, attorney’s fee, and prepaid items, such as escrow deposits for taxes and insurance.”

Basically, your closing costs cover the fees for various people and services involved in your transaction. NAR has this to say about how much to budget for:

“A home costs more than just the sale price. For example, closing costs—which make up about 2% to 5% of the home’s purchase price—are a major added expense…Lenders provide a Closing Disclosure at least three business days prior to closing on a mortgage. But buyers will need to budget for these added costs ahead of time to avoid sticker shock days before closing.”

The key takeaway is savvy buyers plan ahead for these expenses so they can come into the process prepared. Freddie Mac sums it up like this:

“If you’re in the market to buy a home, your down payment is probably top of mind. And rightly so – it’s likely the biggest cost of homebuying. However, it is not the only cost and it’s critical you understand all your expenses before diving in. The more prepared you are for your down payment, closing and other costs, the smoother your homebuying journey will be.”

Bottom Line

Knowing what to budget for in the homebuying process is essential. To make sure you understand these and any other expenses that may come up, let’s connect so you have reliable expertise on what to expect when you buy a home.

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!

Ulta Beauty is Coming to Tysons!

Ulta Beauty is coming this Spring! 👏👏👏 Located at 8350 Leesburg Pike/Pike 7 Plaza (across Rte 7 from The Boro), Ulta Beauty will be in the location of the old Performance Bike shop. It is based in Illinois and is one of the nation’s largest beauty retailers with over 25,000 products featuring more than 600 brands and we are excited that it will be here in Tysons soon! 

Ulta Beauty is just one many companies recognizing the incredible growth and opportunity here in  Tysons.  They call it “America’s Next Great City” for a reason!  Tyson’s is a 4 square mile area that is experiencing unprecedented growth and development.  The master plan is for Tysons to be THE place to live, work & play.  

To think that it was once rural farmland…us natives remember when Tysons 1 Mall was built, and the many  corporations that have moved their headquarters here over the years (including Capital One and Hilton). With the expansion of the Silver Line Metro adding 4 stops in Tysons, access has become easier for everyone to come and enjoy all of the shopping, restaurants and events that make it a major Hot Spot!

More to come on America’s Next Great City🇺🇸

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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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Wellness Wednesday…Mother Nature’s Pharmacy!

One minute you are jumping rope feeling like a kid again and the next you are hobbling around in a boot for 4-6 weeks. 😩. Injuries happen, it’s a part of life especially for athletes and us (middle aged😉) people just trying to stay active!

So, when an injury happens, what’s our body’s natural response to trauma? Inflammation! And what do we do next…

We R*I*C*E

R– Rest
I – Ice
C – Compression
E – Elevation
(and we reach for the ibuprofen)

R*I*C*E & 💊💊💊 are super effective but don’t forget that Mother Nature is also an incredible source of healing. SO many foods are loaded with anti-inflammatory properties that reduce inflammation and get you back to your life, your workouts and make you feel AMAZING!

So whether you are injured or just looking for ways to incorporate anti-inflammatories into your diet, we’ve provided a list below to serve as a good reference for you…

Foods that pack a big anti-inflammatory punch are:

  • Berries🫐
  • Broccoli 🥦
  • Peppers 🫑
  • Salmon 🍣
  • Avacados 🥑
  • Tomatoes 🍅
  • Olive oil 🫒
  • Green Tea 🍵
  • Dark Chocolate 🍫

*Added Bonus: glowing skin, amazing energy & better sleep!

Being sidelined is hard and it can be all out mental warfare. I know many of you reading this can relate! Hope this information is helpful on your road to recovery and happy healing! ❤️‍🩹

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

Please sign up to follow our blog, as well as like/follow us on Facebook, Instagram & YouTube to be the first to see our wellness posts, our real estate updates, community happenings & more!

Wellness Wednesday…Protein is Your Best Friend!

Did you know The Belt Team’s Director of Marketing is also a certified personal trainer and fitness instructor?! The passion for health & fitness runs deep on the team so we love sharing some of our knowledge, tips and tricks with you every week!

The fun thing about the health & fitness world and being part of an amazing community, is you NEVER stop learning. We are students of the game and love learning & sharing new things while we fine tune some of the knowledge we already have ~ especially when it comes to nutrition!

Today we want to shake it up when it comes to one of the most important macronutrients we all consume…

✨Protein✨

Protein is your best friend, your secret weapon, your “go-to”, your fountain of youth, your game changer, your cornerstone, your building block, your magic maker, your energizer, your metabolism booster, your fat burner, your appetite suppressant, your muscle builder, your hormone regulator, your bone strengthener and so much more! Getting adequate protein on a daily basis can be a challenge, but with a little planning, creativity and a little help from your friends (The Belt Team 🤗) it will soon become second nature and something you feel so good about.

We know that we should be aiming for a daily protein intake goal of .7-1 gram/per pound of body weight. Another way of looking at it is to have 30-40 grams of protein at each meal and boom💥 you are well on your way! Build your meals around 30-40 grams of protein FIRST, fill in the rest with healthy carbs & fat – and voila! Keep it simple and eat foods you love. Healthy does not mean boring or not flavorful.

Which brings us to the video and one of the creative ways we get our protein and keep it tasty around here. So many of us supplement our protein intake with protein powder and we usually make shakes and smoothies. They are good ….until they are NOT 😩. So we started making our shakes into new and exciting meals and treats. The things you can do with protein powder are endless and so delicious and satisfying! We make pancakes, cookies, brownies, ice cream, açaí bowls, oatmeal bakes, cobbler, etc… Most recipes have just a few ingredients and are super quick & easy to make. So skip the shaker cup and try something new!

Protein Pancakes:
-1 scoop (30g) protein powder (vanilla, chocolate or berry all work)
-3 egg whites
-1 tsp baking powder
-milk or water to desired consistency

*Keep it quick & easy…just mix in a bowl with a fork and pour into a hot skillet. Flip when you see the bubbles.

**We like to make one big pancake, and make several at a time, store in the refrigerator and re-heat for 60 seconds! These are high protein, low carb & low calorie but you can add some carbs like oatmeal, or add in some healthy fats like almond butter.

***Top with sugar free syrup, fruit, nuts, seeds, sprinkles, powdered sugar, or sugar free Hershey chocolate syrup and ENJOY! 😊

And remember 2 things!
⁃ One day at a time, one meal at a time
⁃ Sometimes the smallest changes have the biggest impact

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

Please sign up to follow our blog, as well as like/follow us on Facebook, Instagram & YouTube to be the first to see our wellness posts, our real estate updates, community happenings & more!

Where to find the perfect Christmas tree in Northern VA

It’s the most wonderful time of the year and Christmas trees are going up! Wondering where to find that perfect tree? Here’s a list of some of the best places to get the perfect tree (thanks to our friends at Patch.com)!

-Merrifield Garden Center, 8132 Lee Highway, Falls Church

✨

-Optimist Club of Vienna, Maple Ave next to PNC Bank, Vienna

✨

-Meadow Farm Nurseries, 10618 Leesburg Pike, Vienna & 11254 Leesburg Pike, Herndon

✨

-Krops Crops, 11110 Georgetown Pike, Great Falls

✨

-Vienna Host Lions Club, 225 Maple Ave E, Vienna

✨

-Vale United Methodist Church, 11528 Vale Rd, Oakton

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-Depauls Urban Farm, 2599 Chain Bridge Rd, Vienna

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George C. Marshall High School Boosters, 7731 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church

Head over to Patch.com for more info before heading out!