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

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!

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!

Home Is Where the Heart Is More than Ever This Year

There’s no denying the financial benefits of homeownership, but what’s often overlooked are the feelings of gratitude, security, pride, and comfort we get from owning a home. This year, those emotions are stronger than ever. We’ve lived through a time that has truly changed our needs and who we are, and as a result, homeownership has a whole new meaning for many of us.

According to the 2021 State of the American Homeowner report by Unison:

“Last year, staying home became a necessity and that caused many homeowners to have renewed gratitude for the roof over their head.”

As a nation, we continue to work through the challenges of a pandemic that’s pushed us all to new limits. Over the past year and a half, we’ve spent more time than ever at home: working, eating, schooling, exercising, and more. The world around us changed almost overnight, and our homes were redefined. Our needs shifted, and our shelters became a place that protected us on a whole new level. The same study from Unison notes:

  • 91% of homeowners say they feel secure, stable, or successful owning a home
  • 64% of American homeowners say living through a pandemic has made their home more important to them than ever
  • 83% of homeowners say their home has kept them safe during the COVID-19 pandemic

It’s no surprise this study also reveals that homeowners are now more emotionally attached to their homes as well:

Home Is Where the Heart Is More than Ever This Year | MyKCM

As we’ve learned throughout this health crisis, homeownership can provide the safety and security we crave in a time of uncertainty. That sense of connection and emotional stability genuinely reaches beyond just the financial aspect of owning a home. As JD Esajian, President of CT Homes, LLCsays:

“Aside from the financial factors, there are several social benefits of homeownership and stable housing to consider. It has long been thought that buying a home contributes to a sense of accomplishment. Still, most individuals fail to realize that homeownership can benefit your mental health and the community around you.”

Whether you’re thinking of buying your first home, moving up to your dream home, or downsizing to something that better fits your changing lifestyle, take a moment to reflect on what Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, notes:

“Buying a home is not just a financial decision. It’s also a lifestyle decision.”

If you’re considering buying a home, it’s not entirely about the dollars and cents. Reach out to The Belt Team if you would like to discuss the non-financial benefits that may truly change your life when you need them most.

Let our 54+ years of experience work for you! 703-242-3975 | Info@TheBeltTeam.com | Contact Us

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

✨

-Depauls Urban Farm, 2599 Chain Bridge Rd, Vienna

✨

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

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