Potomac Yard | Del Ray | Old Town Alexandria Real Estate News

Jan. 20, 2020

Interview with Molly Flory of Old Republic Home Warranty

Home warranties can be a great tool to assist buyers and sellers, but do you really understand how they work? Take a look at my latest video where I interview Molly Flory, Regional Representative for Old Republic Home Warranty.

Molly talks about commonly asked questions including:

  • What is covered when you have a home warranty?
  • How is a home warranty different than home owners insurance?
  • How does a homeowner make a claim?

One of the most interesting things that I discovered is that if you are buying a new construction home, you can purchase an Old Republic home warranty at closing and defer the coverage until your anniversary date, that way you don't have overlapping coverage with your typical builder's warranty.

I hope you found this interview helpful!  For more information, please visit www.orhp.com and learn about the different types of protection plans that Old Republic offers.

 

               

Posted in News
Dec. 5, 2019

Arlington VA Condo Market Update - Days On Market Plummet After Amazon HQ2 Announcement

Arlington VA Condo Market Update - Days On Market Plummet After Amazon HQ2 Announcement

It's been a year since the Amazon HQ2 announcement sent the Arlington area into a frenzy.  And rightfully so, the real estate market in Arlington has taken a life of its own ever since.  Condos for sale in Arlington VA are being plucked up left and right by buyers who want the convenience and walkability of Crystal City and Pentagon City, in the heart of Amazon territory, in addition to investors looking to bank on future appreciation.

Just take a look at the interactive chart below and see the change in days on market over the past year.

In November 2018, the average days on market was 33, then it peaked in December at 45 days.  After December, the time a condo for sale in Arlington VA stayed on the market reduced drastically, even with five consecutive months of less than 20 days.

But is this days on market trend indicative of sold prices?  Yes, it is.  Below is the chart that shows the original list price-to sold price ratio for Arlington condos for the past year:

 

Look at the timing and how straight the line is.  After the announcement and starting in January, if you had a condo to sell in Arlington VA, two things were certain, you were going to get your asking price, and you were going to get it in less than a month.

Do you currently own a condo in Arlington?  Click here to find out what it's worth.  Even if you're not quite ready to sell, we'll provide you with a free monthly report with a list of all of the homes that have sold in your building, so you can keep track of the value of your real estate investment.

        

Posted in Arlington VA
Dec. 1, 2019

7 Reasons to List Your Alexandria VA Home This Holiday Season

7 Reasons to List Your Alexandria VA Home This Holiday Season

7 Reasons to List Your House This Holiday Season | MyKCM

Around this time each year, many homeowners decide to wait until after the holidays to list their houses. Similarly, others who already have their homes on the market remove their listings until the spring. Let’s unpack the top reasons why listing your house now or keeping it on the market this winter may be the best choice you can make.

Here are seven great reasons not to wait:

  1. Relocation buyers are out there now. Many companies are still hiring throughout the holidays, and they need their new employees to start as soon as possible.
  2. Purchasers who are looking for homes during the holidays are serious buyers and are ready to buy now.
  3. You can restrict the showings on your home to days and times that are most convenient for you. You will remain in control.
  4. Homes show better when decorated for the holidays.
  5. There is minimal competition for you as a seller right now. Over the past few months we’ve seen the supply of homes for sale decreasing year-over-year, as shown in the graph below:7 Reasons to List Your House This Holiday Season | MyKCM
  6. The desire to own a home doesn’t stop during the holidays. Buyers who were unable to find their dream homes during the busy spring and summer months are still searching, and your home may be the answer.
  7. Late fall and early winter make up the “sweet spot” for sellers. The supply of listings increases substantially after the holidays. Also, in many parts of the country, new construction will continue to surge and reach new heights in 2020, which will lessen the demand for your house next year.

Bottom Line

It may make the most sense to list your home this holiday season. Let’s get together to determine if selling now is your best move.  Use our 2019 Winter Home Selling Guide first. To get started, click here to find out what your Alexandria VA home is worth today.

                  

Posted in Sellers
Nov. 29, 2019

Buying a Home in Alexandria VA | What FICO® Score Do You Need to Qualify for a Mortgage?

Buying a Home in Alexandria VA | What FICO® Score Do You Need to Qualify for a Mortgage?

What FICO® Score Do You Need to Qualify for a Mortgage? | MyKCM

While a recent announcement from CNBC shares that the average national FICO® score has reached an all-time high of 706, the good news for potential buyers is that you don’t need a score that high to qualify for a mortgage. Let’s unpack the credit score myth so you can to become a homeowner sooner than you may think.

With today’s low interest rates, many believe now is a great time to buy – and rightfully so! Fannie Mae recently noted that 58% of Americans surveyed say it is a good time to buy. Similarly, the Q3 2019 HOME Survey by the National Association of Realtors said 63% of people believe now is a good time to buy a home. Unfortunately, fear and misinformation often hold qualified and motivated buyers back from taking the leap into homeownership.

According to the same CNBC article,

“For the first time, the average national credit score has reached 706, according to FICO®, the developer of one of the most commonly used scores by lenders.”

This is great news, as it means Americans are improving their credit scores and building toward a stronger financial future, especially after the market tumbled during the previous decade. With today’s strong economy and increasing wages, many Americans have had the opportunity to improve their credit over the past few years, driving this national average up.

Since Americans with stronger credit are now entering the housing market, we are seeing an increase in the FICO® Score Distribution of Closed Loans (see graph below):What FICO® Score Do You Need to Qualify for a Mortgage? | MyKCMBut hang on – don’t forget that this does not mean you need a FICO® score over 700 to qualify for a mortgage. Here’s what Experian, the global leader in consumer and business credit reporting, says:

FHA Loan: “FHA loans are ideal for those who have less-than-perfect credit and may not be able to qualify for a conventional mortgage loan. The size of your required down payment for an FHA loan depends on the state of your credit score: If your credit score is between 500 and 579, you must put 10% down. If your credit score is 580 or above, you can put as little as 3.5% down (but you can put down more if you want to).”

Conventional Loan: “It's possible to get approved for a conforming conventional loan with a credit score as low as 620, although some lenders may look for a score of 660 or better.”

USDA Loan“While the USDA doesn't have a set credit score requirementmost lenders offering USDA-guaranteed mortgages require a score of at least 640.”

VA Loan: “As with income levels, lenders set their own minimum credit requirements for VA loan borrowers. Lenders are likely to check credit scores as part of their screening process, and most will set a minimum score, or cutoff, that loan applicants must exceed to be considered.”

Bottom Line

As you can see, plenty of loans are granted to buyers with a FICO® score that is lower than the national average. If you’d like to understand the next steps to take when determining your credit score, let’s get together so you can learn more.

          

Posted in Buyers
Oct. 21, 2019

Buying a Home in Alexandria | Popular Down Payment Programs for First Timers

Buying a Home in Alexandria | Popular Down Payment Programs for First Timers

Alexandria VA Homes For Sale - Let's face it, rents in Alexandria and Arlington have skyrocketed.  When you couple that with the expenses of daily living which include commuting costs, food, and utilities, it can literally take years to save money for a down payment on a new house.

If you have solid credit, stable employment, and a good rent payment history, but don't have a lump sum of cash sitting around, you should take a look at the down payment programs that are available.  Here are the most popular programs today:

VHDA - Virginia Housing Development Authority.  This is the most popular down payment program in Virginia.  VHDA offers grant funds (which means zero down payment and zero repayment), low options of 1% and 3% down, and grants for closing costs.

USDA - Rural Housing Program.  No down payment, 100% financing.  This program is open to buyers who are looking in more rural areas, such as western Prince William County, Loudoun County, and Stafford.

FHLB - Federal Home Loan Bank. Offers down payment assistance and extra incentives for law enforcement, teachers, healthcare workers, firefighters, and veterans.

VA - Veterans Administration. Up to 100% financing for active duty military, veterans, and eligible reservists.  It's surprising to know that a lot of military members do not take advantage of this option.  With a VA loan, buyers take advantage of a 30-year fixed rate, no mortgage insurance, and interest rates that are usually lower than conventional 30-year mortgages.  If you are buying a luxury home, the VA does requires a small down payment.  You don't have to be a first time buyer, and you can use this mortgage for homes in the upper end price range.  Veterans who are also first-time buyers can couple a VA loan with a VHDA closing cost grant.  This is especially helpful in a tight sellers market where sellers are not paying closing costs.  With a VA closing cost grant, military buyers have the advantage of zero down payment, and zero out of pocket closing costs.

FHA - Federal Housing Administration.  Requires a 3.5% down payment.  An FHA mortgage offers more flexibility for buyers with credit scores below 700.  This is a popular option for buyers with a good rental history and employment, but little savings.

NFCU - Navy Federal Credit Union.  This offers 100% financing to all credit union members, including non-military.  The interest rate is higher than market rate, but it is a 30-year fixed rate mortgage.  Navy Federal's program is popular with military homebuyers who have their VA loan tied to another property.  

NWFCU: Northwest Federal Credit Union.  Offers 100% financing plus no mortgage insurance to members.  This program is available to all buyers, not limited to first-time buyers or military.

Home Ready - Program offered by Fannie Mae.  Minimum down payment of 3%.  This program is open to first-time buyers and repeat home buyers with a credit score above 620.

For more information on these programs, click here and download our information flyer.

Over half of homebuyers are completely wrong about how much money is needed for a down payment.  Traditionally, 20% was the norm, but with credit unions, state programs, and military benefits available, you don't have to strap yourself down to a multi-year lease.  Let's talk about your options, all of them.  Part of the mortgage approval process includes not only shopping lenders, but shopping for the right loan that fits your needs, and your long-term and short-term goals.  Send me a quick message now, or text me at 703-623-8759 when you're ready.

 

              

 

Posted in Buyers
Oct. 1, 2019

Over Half of Buyers are Wrong about Down Payments

62% of Buyers Are Wrong About Down Payment Needs

62% of Buyers Are Wrong About Down Payment Needs | MyKCM

According to the ‘2019 Home Buyer Report conducted by Nerdwallet, many first-time buyers still believe they need a 20% down payment to buy a home in today’s market:

“More than 6 in 10 (62%) Americans believe you must put at least 20% down in order to purchase a home.”

When potential homebuyers think they need a 20% down payment to enter the market, they also tend to think they’ll have to wait several years (in some markets) to come up with the necessary funds to buy their dream homes. The report continues to say,

“The truth: 32% of current U.S. homeowners put 5% or less down on their home, according to census data.” (as shown below):

62% of Buyers Are Wrong About Down Payment Needs | MyKCMThe lack of knowledge about the home-buying process is unfortunately keeping many motivated buyers on the sidelines.

Bottom Line

Don’t let a lack of understanding keep you and your family out of the housing market. Let’s get together to discuss your options today.

              

Posted in Buyers
Sept. 30, 2019

Fall 2019 Home Selling Guide | Free Download

Before you sell your Alexandria VA home this fall, make sure you have a rock solid road map! We created an all out 2019 Fall Home Selling Guide chock full of information to help you prepare for one of the biggest financial transactions you'll ever make.

Inside, we show you all about:

  • What experts are saying about the market
  • To Stage or Not to Stage (presentation matters)
  • The role access plays in getting your house sold
  • What you need to know to price your home

Reality TV makes it look easy, but remember, that's entertainment.  When it comes down to the reality of selling your own home, make sure you have the right information before you get started.  Download your free copy of our 2019 Fall Home Selling Guide today, there's no registration required.

             

      

Posted in Sellers
Sept. 30, 2019

Fall 2019 Home Buying Guide | Free Download

School's back in session, summertime has come to an end, and now people are preparing their homes for the holidays.  We're getting close to the end of the calendar year, and we're also getting close to the biggest shopping day of the year, Black Friday.

While many shoppers are on the prowl for appliances and electronics, the fall can also be a busy season for homebuying.  Give yourself a leg up with our Fall 2019 Homebuying Guide.  

Inside, you'll learn about:

  • The latest on interest rates (they're still in the 3's, but what's the projection)
  • Projected home appreciation rates 
  • Tip for searching for your dream home
  • What you should know about down payments

We know there's plenty of information online, but sometimes it can be overwhelming to search multiple websites and understand it all.  Our free guide removes the hassle.  Download your copy today, there's no registration required.

 

                             

 

Posted in Buyers
Aug. 28, 2019

Buying a Home in Alexandria VA | What’s the Latest on Interest Rates?

Buying a Home in Alexandria VA | What’s the Latest on Interest Rates?

With home prices on the rise in Alexandria VA, it's no doubt that a small change in the interest rates, up or down, can have a huge impact on your buying decision.  When the rates go down, housing affordability goes up, and that means more buyers are able to enter the market.

What’s the Latest on Interest Rates? | MyKCM

Mortgage rates have fallen by over a full percentage point since Q4 of 2018, settling at near-historic lows. This is big news for buyers looking to get more for their money in the current housing market.What’s the Latest on Interest Rates? | MyKCMAccording to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey,

the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) rate averaged 3.60 percent, the lowest it has been since November 2016.

Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac, notes how this is great news for homebuyers. He states,

“…consumer sentiment remains buoyed by a strong labor market and low rates that will continue to drive home sales into the fall.”

As a potential buyer, the best thing you can do is work with a trusted advisor who can help you keep a close eye on how the market is changing. Relying on current expert advice is more important than ever when it comes to making a confident and informed decision for you and your family.

Bottom Line

Even a small increase (or decrease) in interest rates can impact your monthly housing cost. If buying a home is on your short list of goals to achieve, let’s get together to determine your best move. Give me a call today at 703-623-8759 to get started.

            

Posted in Buyers
Aug. 27, 2019

Buy A House In Alexandria VA | 5 Real Estate Reality TV Myths Explained

Buy a House In Alexandria VA | 5 Real Estate Reality TV Myths Explained

buying myths

Television makes everything look so easy.  When it comes to buying a home in Alexandria VA, a process that can take months can be wrapped up in 22 minutes when it's been compressed by reality tv.  As a buyer agent, I can share countless stories about how the many simplicities of tv don't transfer over to real life.  So before you continue your search for Alexandria VA homes, take a look at the list below that breaks down Five Myths About Reality TV.

Have you ever been flipping through the channels, only to find yourself glued to the couch in an HGTV binge session? We’ve all been there, watching entire seasons of shows like “Property Brothers,” “Fixer Upper,” and “Love It or List It,” all in one sitting.

When you’re in the middle of your real estate-themed TV show marathon, you might start to think everything you see on the screen must be how it works in real life. However, you may need a reality check.

Call Tamara 703-623-8759

Reality TV Show Myths vs. Real Life:

Myth #1: Buyers look at 3 homes and decide to purchase one of them.
Truth: There may be buyers who fall in love and buy the first home they see, but according to the National Association of Realtors, the average homebuyer tours 10 homes as a part of their search.  

Myth #2: The houses the buyers are touring are still for sale.
Truth: Everything is staged for TV. Many of the homes shown are already sold and are off the market. 

Myth #3: The buyers haven’t made a purchase decision yet.
Truth: Since there is no way to show the entire buying process in a 30-minute show, TV producers often choose buyers who are further along in the process and have already chosen a home to buy. 

Myth #4: If you list your home for sale, it will ALWAYS sell at the open house.
Truth: Of course, this would be great! Open houses are important to guarantee the most exposure to buyers in your area, but they are only one piece of the overall marketing of your home. Keep in mind, many homes are sold during regular showing appointments as well. 

Myth #5: Homeowners decide to sell their homes after a 5-minute conversation.
Truth: Similar to the buyers portrayed on the shows, many of the sellers have already spent hours deliberating the decision to list their homes and move on with their lives and goals.

Bottom Line

Having an experienced professional on your side while navigating the real estate market is the best way to guarantee you can make the home of your dreams a true reality.

With 22 years of selling real estate under my belt, I can tell you that buyers who have the most successful transactions and most pleasant buying experience, start with a initial consultation.  Real estate in Northern Virginia is its own beast.  There are many hyperlocal mini markets from Arlington to Alexandria to Woodbridge.  It's worth it to invest 30 minutes of your time to sit down with me so that I can provide you with an overview of the market and show you what to expect throughout the homebuying process.  You'll also receive a 3-ring binder to keep that will include a detailed explanation of the process, a separate homebuyer guide, blank copies of the purchase contract, the buyer agency agreement, and copies of state and federal disclosures.  There's no obligation, so give me a call today at 703-623-8759 to schedule your appointment.

 

                      

Posted in Buyers, Home Buying