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

Jan. 2, 2021

New Year, New Home? Set Homeownership Goals Whether You’re Buying, Selling, or Staying Put

The start of a new year always compels people to take a fresh look at their goals, from health and career to relationships and finance. But with historically low mortgage rates, increased home sales and price growth, and a tight housing inventory, the time is right to also make some homeownership resolutions for 2021.

Home buyers, is this the year you work to improve your credit score, pay down some debt, or save for a down payment? 

Home sellers, we’ve laid out plans for you to get top dollar for your property, including timing your home sale, making your property stand out from the crowd, and investing in your extra living space. 

And even if you’re staying put for awhile, homeowners, you can resolve to improve your status quo by evaluating your home budget, finalizing your home maintenance schedule, or maybe investing in a second property.

So no matter your homeownership status, we’ve got some ideas and advice for you to make this year your best one yet. Read on to learn more.

 

HOME BUYERS

Resolution #1: Qualify for a better mortgage with a higher credit score.

Your credit report highlights your current debt, bill-paying history, and other key financial information. Importantly for your home-buying journey, it is also used by lenders and companies to calculate your credit score, which partly determines if you are qualified to obtain a mortgage. Therefore, before you start house-hunting, make sure your finances are in the best possible shape by checking your credit report from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion (via AnnualCreditReport.com). You can also obtain your credit score for free from some banks and credit card companies.

Your credit score will be a number ranging from 300-850.1 Generally speaking, a credit score of 740 or higher is considered very good to excellent.2 If your FICO score drops below 740, you might need to work at boosting your score for a few months before you begin house-hunting. Ways to do this are to pay your bills on time every month, keep your credit card balances low, and avoid applying for new credit.

 

Resolution #2: Improve your credit health by paying down debt

Do you have student loans, credit card debt, or car payments tying up your income each month? That debt is hurting your “buying power,” or the amount of home you can afford. Not only is it money that you can’t spend on your new home, but your debt-to-income ratio also affects your credit score, which we discussed above. The less debt you have, the higher your FICO score and the better mortgage you can obtain.

If you can, pay off some debt in its entiretylike a low balance on a credit card. Then apply that “extra” money you previously paid on that credit card to pay off bigger debt, like a car loan. Even if you can’t pay off all (or any) of your debt in full, reducing the balances of each account will help you qualify for the best possible mortgage terms.

 

Resolution #3: Create a financial safety net before applying for a mortgage

Don’t forget that buying a home requires some cash as well. A down payment is typically 7% of a home’s purchase price, and closing costs currently average $3,700.3,4 You’ll also need money for moving expenses and any initial maintenance tasks that might pop up. And as the pandemic taught us, you never know when an unforeseen event might cause a job loss, drop in income, or health scare, so having some liquid savings will ensure that you can still pay your mortgage if a crisis occurs.

Dedicate some effort to building up your reserves. Cut down on unnecessary expenses, and consider having a portion of each paycheck automatically deposited into your savings account to avoid the temptation to spend it.

 

HOME SELLERS

Resolution #4: Decide on the right time to sell your home.

If you’re looking to maximize profit on the sale of your home, selling earlier in the year makes sense. Listing prices historically increase early in the year, peak in May, plateau through June, and decrease for the remainder of the year.5 And, according to the National Association of Realtors, “[w]ith both mortgage rates and the number of homes available for sale expected to remain relatively low, home prices are likely to continue to increase. [In] mid-January, home prices typically begin a quick ramp-up in a normal year.”5 

But sales price isn’t the only thing to consider. You might not be ready to sell your home yet because you don’t want to uproot your kids during the school year or because you need to tackle some minor upgrades before placing your home on the market. 

This means that there is no one month or season that is the perfect time to sell your home. Instead, the right timeline for you takes into account factors such as when you’ll earn the highest profit, personal convenience, and whether your home is even ready to put on the market. A trusted real estate professional can talk you through your specific needs to clarify when to sell your home. 

 

Resolution #5: Boost your home’s resale value by making your property shine.

Housing inventory is at historic lows across the country, and that means the market is fiercely competitive.6 Selling your home in 2021 has the potential to net you a huge return right now, and you can maximize that amount with some simple fixes to make sure your property outshines your neighbors’ for sale down the street. 

In your home, you might need to tackle a minor remodeling project, such as upgrading the flooring or adding a fresh coat of paint. According to the National Association of Realtors’ 2019 Remodeling Impact Report, simply refinishing existing hardwood floors recoups 100% of the cost at resale, and completely replacing it with new wood flooring recovers 106% of costs.7

Outside, you might consider improving your curb appeal by removing a dead bush, trimming a tree that blocks the front window, or power-washing your moldy driveway and sidewalks. In fact, real estate agents say cleaning the exterior of your house can add $10,000 to $15,000 to a home’s sale price.8 And according to a Virginia Tech study, improving a home’s landscaping may increase its value by 10 to 12%.9 

A good agent should provide custom-tailored suggestions to ensure your property pops inside and out. Ask us about our local insider secrets that will make your home stand out from others on the market.

 

Resolution #6: Invest in your “extra” living space to meet current buyers’ needs

Due to COVID-19, more people are staying at home to work, go to school, exercise, and stay entertained. And these lifestyle changes are showing up in home buyer preferences. For example, according to one study, buyers are looking more and more for homes with formal, outfitted home offices, private outdoor spaces, and updated kitchen appliances.10

So if you’ve got an underutilized room, consider turning it into an office, home gym, schoolroom, or multi-purpose room to meet current home buyer needs and attract better offers on your home. Got some underwhelming space outside? You could turn it into an outdoor entertainment area by adding a firepit, upgrading the patio furniture, or installing a grilling area. Be sure to consult with a local real estate professional before investing in a renovation, however, as each markets’ buyers have different tastes.

 

HOMEOWNERS

Resolution #7: Evaluate your household budget to reflect financial changes.

After this past year, in particular, your financial picture may have changed. Maybe you were furloughed, had your hours reduced, or got a new job further from home. Perhaps you’ve kept the same job, but you’re now working remotely. A work-from-home arrangement could mean less money spent on gas, tolls, a professional wardrobe, and dining out for lunch. 

But this could also mean new (or increased) expenses now that you’re working at home, such as new tech-related purchases, faster Wi-Fi, and higher energy bills. January marks the perfect opportunity to update your income and expenses and review last year’s spending habits, tweaking as needed for 2021.

For more specific ideas, contact us for our free report “20 Ways to Save Money and Stretch Your Household Budget.”

 

Resolution #8: Save money now (and earn more later) with a home maintenance plan. 

Having a schedule of regular home maintenance projects to tackle will save you money now and in the long-term. You’ll avoid some surprise “emergency fixes,” and when you’re ready to eventually sell your home, you’ll get higher offers from buyers who aren’t put off by overdue repairs.

Even if nothing necessarily needs fixing right now, you can lower your energy costs by maintaining and upgrading your home.  According to the U.S. Department of Energy, simple fixes add up: replace five most frequently used bulbs with ENERGY STAR ones to save $75/year; repair leaky faucets to save $35/year; replace older toilets with low-flow models to save $100/year; and seal air leaks to save $83-$166/year.11

For a breakdown of home maintenance projects to tackle throughout the year, contact us for our free report “House Care Calendar: A Seasonal Guide to Maintaining Your Home.”

 

Resolution #9: Invest in real estate for a better standard of living. 

Even if you don’t plan on leaving your current residence, real estate is a great way to improve your quality of life in 2021. 

Have cabin fever from the long quarantine? A vacation home in a getaway location you love lets you safely spread your wings. And if you have been looking for a second stream of income, an investment property might be your answer. Just be sure to consult with a real estate professional to get a realistic sense of a property’s true income potential.

Want more information on how a second property fits into your 2021 plans? Request our free report, “Move Up vs Second Home: Which One Is Right For You?”

 

LET US HELP YOU WITH YOUR 2021 GOALS

 

 

 

Whether you’re looking to buy, sell, or stay put in your home, it helps to connect with a trusted real estate agent. As local market experts, we have the knowledge, experience, and networks to help you achieve your homeownership goals, whatever they may be. Reach out to us today for a free consultation and commit to a happy and prosperous new year.

                            

Posted in Buyers
Dec. 31, 2020

Buy A Home Alexandria VA | Four Expert Views on the 2021 Housing Market

Ready To Buy A Home in Alexandria VA | Four Expert Views on the 2021 Housing Market

Four Expert Views on the 2021 Housing Market | MyKCM

The housing market was a shining star in 2020, fueling the economic turnaround throughout the country. As we look forward to 2021, can we expect real estate to continue showing such promise? Here’s what four experts have to say about the year ahead.

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist, National Association of Realtors (NAR)

“In 2021, I think rates will be similar or modestly higher, maybe 3%...So, mortgage rates will continue to be historically favorable.”

Danielle Hale, Chief Economistrealtor.com

“We expect sales to grow 7 percent and prices to rise another 5.7 percent on top of 2020’s already high levels.”

Robert Dietz, Senior Vice President and Chief EconomistNational Association of Home Builders (NAHB)

“With home builder confidence near record highs, we expect continued gains for single-family construction, albeit at a lower growth rate than in 2019. Some slowing of new home sales growth will occur due to the fact that a growing share of sales has come from homes that have not started construction. Nonetheless, buyer traffic will remain strong given favorable demographics, a shifting geography of housing demand to lower-density markets and historically low interest rates.”

Mark Fleming, Chief Economist, First American

 

 

“Mortgage rates are expected to remain low for the foreseeable future and millennials will continue forming households, keeping demand robust, even if income growth moderates. Despite the best intentions of home builders to provide more housing supply, the big short in housing supply will continue into 2021 and likely keep house price appreciation flying high.”

 

Alexandria VA Home Prices in 2020

 

Bottom Line

Whether you’re ready to buy or sell a home in 2021, if you’re planning to take advantage of the market this winter, let’s connect to talk about the opportunities available in our local market.

              

Posted in News
Dec. 29, 2020

Multi-Generational Homes Alexandria VA | More Generations Are Living Under One Roof This Year

More Generations Are Living Under One Roof This Year
Alexandria VA Home Buying

More Generations Are Living under One Roof This Year | MyKCM

This year challenged us to reprioritize everything - from the way we use our time to where we work, how we socialize and gather together, and our needs at home. For many, this also meant making decisions about how to best support and engage with our extended families, near and far.  Public school systems in Arlington, Alexandria City, and Fairfax County went virtual, and the some households had difficulties with older parents and extended family.

In some cases, we weren’t able to see our relatives and loved ones who were living in senior facilities. In others, maybe older children moved back home. Jessica Lautz, Vice President of Demographics and Behavioral Insights for the National Association of Realtors (NAR), says:

A lot of families have an aging senior relative who was living independently or in senior care and wanted to move them into their home.

These changes led more homebuyers to invest in multi-generational homes to accommodate more long-term plans. A multi-generational home, according to the 2020 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers from NAR, is a home that has adult siblings, adult children over the age of 18, parents, and/or grandparents in the household.

A recent study from NAR shows that since the health crisis began, there’s been an increase in purchasing trends for homes that cater to this dynamic:

“Buyers who purchased after March were more likely to purchase a multi-generational home at 15% compared to 11% who purchased before April.”

There are many reasons for this uptick in preference toward multi-generational homes. The graph below shows the top two reasons and how they’ve increased this year:More Generations Are Living under One Roof This Year | MyKCM

Bottom Line

More homeowners in Alexandria VA are making arrangements to accommodate their loved ones so they can safely take care of them at home. If you’re in a similar situation, let’s connect to discuss your options and maybe even have your whole family under one roof by early next year.

              

Posted in Buyers
Dec. 22, 2020

The Difference A Year Makes In Homeownership in Alexandria VA

The Difference a Year Makes for Homeownership in Alexandria VA

The Difference a Year Makes for Homeownership | MyKCM

Over the past year, mortgage rates have fallen more than a full percentage point, hitting a new historic low 15 times. This is a great driver for homeownership, as today’s low rates provide consumers with some significant benefits. Here’s a look at three of them.

1. Move-up or Downsize: One option is to consider moving into a new home, putting the equity you’ve likely gained in your current house toward a down payment on a new one that better meets your needs – something that’s truly a perfect fit, especially if your lifestyle has changed this year.

2. Become a First-Time Homebuyer: There are many financial and non-financial benefits to owning a home, and the most important thing is to first decide when the time is right for you. You have to determine that on your own, but know that now is a great time to buy if you’re considering it. Just take a look at the cost of renting vs. buying.

3. Refinance: If you already own a home, you may decide you’re going to refinance. It’s one way to lock in a lower monthly payment and save more over time. However, it also means paying upfront closing costs, too. If you want to take this route, you have to answer the question: Should I refinance my home?

Why 2020 Was a Great Year for Homeownership

Last year, the average mortgage rate was 3.93% (substantially higher than it is today). If you waited for a better time to make a move, market conditions have improved significantly. Today’s low mortgage rates are a huge perk for buyers, so it’s a great time to get more for your money and consider a new home.

The chart below shows how much you would save per month based on today’s rates compared to what you would have paid if you purchased a home exactly one year ago, depending on how much you finance:The Difference a Year Makes for Homeownership | MyKCM

Median Home Price Gains in Alexandria VA in 2020

When we look at the visual for the median home prices in Alexandria VA in 2020, we see that in January the median price was $510,500 and in November median prices were an even $600,000.  So even if you owned a home and did nothing, your asset significantly appreciated in value.

Bottom Line

If you’ve been waiting since last year to make your move into homeownership or to find a house that better meets your needs, today’s low mortgage rates may be just what you need to get the process going. Let’s connect today to discuss how you may benefit from the current rates.

 

 

 

               

Posted in News
Dec. 20, 2020

Buying A Home In Alexandria VA | Winter 2021 Home Buyer Guide Is Here

No doubt that 2020 was one heck of a year for real estate.  We went through a lockdown, sheltering in place, more working from home, virtual schooling, and protective measures to slow down the spread of the coronavirus.  2020 forced people to actually LIVE in their homes, and the Alexandria VA real estate market responded with higher home prices, shorter days on market, and an inventory of homes that continues to dwindle.

In the midst of the continued chaos, my Winter 2021 Homebuying Guide will give you the information you need as your prepare to buy a home in 2021. There's a good chance that you'll be facing competition this year, so to help get you prepared to enter the market, this guide gives you insights to:

  • Why you shouldn't wait until Spring to buy
  • A new meaning for home ownership
  • How down payment assistance opens the door
  • Five tips for making a successful offer

And so much more.  To calm the overwhelm of browsing the internet for endless information, my Winter 2021 Homebuying guide includes helpful graphics, national and local data, and gives you an easy-to-follow diagram of the steps to take to own a home.

Download your free copy today, there's no registration required.  If you find the information helpful, please share it with a friend.  Get in touch when you're ready, and we'll put your home purchase plan for 2021 together.

 

         

 

 

               

 

Posted in Buyers
Dec. 15, 2020

The Holidays Aren’t Stopping Alexandria VA Homebuyers This Year

 

The Holidays Aren’t Stopping Homebuyers This Year | MyKCM

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are behind us, yet finding the perfect holiday gifts for friends and family is certainly still top of mind for many right now. This year, there’s another type of buyer that’s very active this holiday season – the homebuyer.

Traditionally, the winter months have seen a lower volume of sales in comparison to spring and summer, but this year, the COVID-19 pandemic put the spring real estate market on pause, and literally pushed it back. As we head into December, we are still seeing homes get multiple offers and seller are still able to hold firm on their asking price.

Take a look at the stats for Alexandria VA for this year.  The interactive chart below shows that throughout 2020, sellers have consistently gotten their asking price when selling their homes.

 

Each month, ShowingTime releases their Showing Index which tracks the average number of appointments received on active U.S. house listings. The most recent index notes:

“The Showing Index reported a 60.9 percent jump in nationwide showing traffic year over year in October, the sixth consecutive month to see an increase over last year.”

Here’s the breakdown of the latest activity by region of the country compared to this time last year:

  • The Northeast increased by 65.5%
  • The West increased by 64.7%
  • The Midwest increased by 55.7%
  • The South increased by 54.7%

Why is the traffic so active?

The health crisis definitely put homebuying plans on pause for many earlier this year. Buyers, however, are in the market and making moves well past the typical busy homebuying seasons of spring and summer.

One of the main reasons buyer traffic has continued to soar in the second half of 2020 is how dramatically mortgage rates have fallen. According to Freddie Mac, the average mortgage rate last December was 3.72%. Today, the rate is a full percentage point lower.

This also holds true here in Alexandria.  Take a look at the pending sales activity over this past year:

Be sure to use your mouse to hover over the data points.  Notice the sharp uptick in pending homes once we got used to the March stay-at-home order.  It changed the way people started living in their homes and this birthed a new demand for homes with greater functionality.

Bottom Line

There are first-time, move-up, and move-down buyers actively looking for the home of their dreams this winter. If you’re thinking of selling your house in 2021, you don’t need to wait until the spring to do it. Your potential buyer is very likely searching for a home in your neighborhood right now.  Use this link to connect with me and let's explore all of your options.

                   

Posted in Sellers
Dec. 14, 2020

Mortgage Help for Alexandria VA | 5 Steps to Follow When Applying for Forbearance

 

5 Steps to Follow When Applying for Forbearance | MyKCM

During the last recession, I worked with Alexandria VA families and helped them with short sales as an alternative to foreclosure.  I'm certain that if banks had offered the option of forbearance, more families would have been able to keep their homes instead of uprooting and incurring the additional expense of moving.

If you’re currently feeling the stress of affording your mortgage payment, or if you know someone who is, there’s still time to get help. For homeowners experiencing financial hardship this year, the CARES Act provides mortgage payment deferral options, creating much-needed relief in these challenging times.

It’s important, however, to understand how forbearance works. It’s not automatic. You need to take action now and apply for the program before these options expire.

study by the Urban Institute determined:

Approximately 400,000 homeowners who became delinquent after the pandemic began have forgone forbearance and become delinquent. These borrowers may not know they are eligible for forbearance.”

Thankfully, there’s still time to apply for forbearance, even if you’re just learning about it now. Doing so may be the game-changer you need to stay in your home, just when you need it most. Mike Fratantoni, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist at the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), explained:

“The increase in new forbearance requests may be the result of additional outreach to homeowners who had previously not taken advantage of forbearance opportunities.”

If you need to apply for forbearance but aren’t sure how to begin the process, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) published 5 steps to follow when requesting mortgage forbearance:

1. Find the contact information for your servicer

Look at your mortgage statement to find the phone number for your servicer (the company you send your mortgage payment to every month). The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau encourages you to use the number on your statement to avoid scams.

2. Call your servicer

Explain your situation so your servicer can determine your best course of action. Be sure to ask any questions you have about the process.

3. Ask if you’re eligible for protection under the CARES Act

The CARES Act protects homeowners with federally backed loans (FHA, VA, USDA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac). In addition, some private servicers are also providing forbearance programs.

4. Ask what happens when your forbearance period ends

Depending on the plan available to you, there are different options you may be able to consider. Your servicer will help you get a better understanding of what’s available.

The CFPB also recommends asking questions like:

  • What happens to the payments I miss?
  • What are my repayment options?
  • When will repayment be due?
  • Are there any fees?

5. Ask your servicer to provide the agreement in writing

A written agreement allows you to see exactly what type of program you’re agreeing to. It also helps you make sure it matches what you discuss with your provider over the phone.

Bottom Line

Help is out there for Alexandria VA homeowners in need, but it’s important to apply now while this benefit is still available. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says: don’t wait, forbearance is not automatic. It must be requested. Reach out to your mortgage provider today so you can get the assistance you need to protect the hard-earned investment you’ve made in your home.  If you're weighing all of your options and are curious about the current value of your home, click here for a free report.

              

Posted in Homeowners
Dec. 2, 2020

10 Ways to Give Back to Our Local Alexandria VA Community This Holiday Season

This year has demonstrated, perhaps more than ever, the importance of our family, friends, neighbors, and community in Alexandria VA. It truly “takes a village” to keep a community functioning effectively, whether that’s by keeping our waterways clean, feeding the hungry, teaching our kids, or supporting small businesses.

With the holidays right around the corner, December offers the perfect opportunity to give back to the place we call home. You might want to focus your efforts near home, expand to our larger community, or even help support the people closest to you. Whether you’re passionate about a particular cause or just want to get more involved in general, let these 10 ways, both big and small, inspire you to do good.

  

GIVE BACK NEAR HOME

 

1. Attract local wildlife. By making your neighborhood more wildlife friendly, you’re helping to  create a balanced and healthy ecosystem. Plus, many of the animals you can attract help with pest control and pollination.1

 

Ideas:

     Add a birdbath to your backyard or create a rain garden to attract wildlife (and filter out local pollutants).

     Place bird feeders on your property to feed birds all year long.

     Tie corncobs to tree branches to feed squirrels.

     Hang birdhouses on your property to provide shelter.

     Use native plants in your landscaping to provide food and shelter for birds, bees, butterflies, and other critters.

 

Take action: While you might not be able to “break ground” until spring, start researching native plants now to design a landscaping plan that provides food, shelter, and water for local wildlife.

 

2. Clean up our community. Besides beautifying the area, picking up trash keeps it out of our local waterways, which means a cleaner water supply for all of us.

Ideas:

     Whether you make this a solo effort or join in an organized group event, pick up trash in your neighborhood, at a local park, or elsewhere in our community.

     Depending on your community’s regulations, you can recycle many home items such as paper, glass, and aluminum.

     And don’t forget to clean the exterior of your home, where water runoff (such as on your driveway and sidewalks) can carry debris into the local sewer system.2

Take action: Check with volunteer opportunities available in throughout the Alexandria VA area. 

  

3. Organize or join a neighborhood watch. According to a recent report, neighborhoods with Neighborhood Crime Watch programs experience roughly 16 percent less crime.3 Keeping an eye out for each other instills a sense of safety and security in your neighborhood by increasing surveillance, reducing opportunities, and enhancing information sharing among residents. Even if your neighborhood doesn’t have an official program, you can still share crime information via your local Facebook groups or apps like NextDoor.

Ideas:

     Make a point of looking out for each other and being observant of what’s going on.

     You can even make it official by joining a neighborhood watch program.

     Don’t have one? Consider launching a neighborhood watch program with the help of other interested neighbors.

 

Take action: Some police forces use online mapping tools that provide crime alerts to people in neighborhoods where recent criminal activity occurred.3 Share this information with your neighbors.  Alexandria City provides information on reported crimes on the local government website.  Click here for Fairfax County's website for crime reports.

HELP OUT LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS

 

4. Boost your civic engagement. Regardless of your politics, you can get more involved as a citizen to make a positive difference in our community.

 

Ideas:

     Sign a petition to make a needed change in our community.

     Join a peaceful march, protest, or rally to support a cause dear to your heart.

     Attend local school board meetings, town halls, or city council meetings to understand (and have a voice in) local issues.4

     Watch (and read) a variety of local news sources to get balanced reporting on what’s happening in our community.

     If you don’t know your neighbors very well, introduce yourself.

     Then make a commitment to check in on those who might need help, such as an elderly neighbor.

     Get plugged-in to the resources and events in our town by visiting local museums, taking historical tours, borrowing materials from our local library, and attending community festivals.

 

Take action: Do you know who our local leaders are, such as our mayor or city councilwoman? Get to know their names, their policies, and their stand on issues that affect our community. Subscribe to their newsletter and follow them on social media. Who are the local leaders for Alexandria City, click here.  Click here to learn about your local leaders in Fairfax County.

 

5. Support local businesses. Our community has been impacted by the pandemic, with many businesses being forced to limit capacity, instill social distancing efforts, and even shutter entirely in some cases. Help keep money in our local economy by shopping local instead of relying on online shopping from national chains.

Ideas:

     From handcrafted soaps and one-of-a-kind apparel to locally produced chocolate and small-batch wines, you’ll find plenty of unique gifts at the small businesses that dot our community.

     Consider purchasing tickets to attend live-streamed holiday concerts and shows.

     Buy cookies and other baked goods from our local bakery.

     Get takeout from our local restaurants.

     Support local farmers by purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables at community farmer’s markets.

 

Take action: If you’re concerned about shopping in person right now, many of these businesses, though small, offer online shopping, with options for in-store pick-up, curbside delivery, and/or mail options.  Here's a list of local businesses in Alexandria VA, show them some support this holiday season.

 

6. Donate to local charities. Nonprofits could always use your financial support, so consider making a monetary donation to help them carry out their mission in our community. But if money is tight (or you want to support in other ways), think beyond just donating dollars.

 

Ideas:

     Consider donating to a charity in someone else’s name as an altruistic gift on behalf of a friend or relative.

     Give blood to our local blood bank.

     Donate new or used books to our community library.

     Send school supplies to our neighborhood elementary school.

     Help struggling neighbors by donating blankets to the homeless.

     Pick out toys to give to a charity that caters to families. 5

 

Take action: Many collection efforts run by charitable organizations and businesses in Alexandria VA take place during the holidays. Look to see what’s already taking place in our community and choose one or more to give to this season.  

CARE FOR YOUR NEIGHBORS 

7. Organize a holiday food drive. This year, in particular, people are struggling to pay their bills and put food on the table. The pandemic has caused many businesses to close or reduce their staff size, putting many people out of work.

 

Ideas:

     If you personally know someone who needs help buying groceries, reach out and offer to help that one family.

     If not, partner with a local food bank, soup kitchen, nonprofit or community organization that feeds people in need.

     Round up a few friends, family, co-workers, or neighbors to collect food for a few weeks. Then deliver the bounty in time for the holidays.

 

Take action: Take advantage of your grocery store coupons and buy-one-get-one offers to inexpensively stock up on nonperishable goods.

 

8. Adopt a family or an individual. The holidays can be a struggle, especially financially, for some families in Alexandria VA. They might not be able to buy a Christmas tree or presents for their children. Maybe their holiday meal consists of boxed macaroni and cheese because they can’t afford a turkey and fresh vegetables. You can make a difference by “adopting” a particular family (or even just a child) to help make their holiday special.

 

Ideas:

     If you know a family in need, help them directly.

     If not, ask a community group for the name of a family or individual in need.

     Some businesses even sponsor toy drives or “angel trees” where you can pick the name of a needy family off the tree and buy from their wish lists.

 

Take action: This works great as a family project. Get the kids in your life involved to help make holiday cards and pick out toys to give to the children in the adopted family.

 

9. Volunteer. Depending on your schedule and your preferences, you might be able to volunteer in Alexandria VA in-person or from home, whether it’s a one-time effort or ongoing project. It’s a great way to meet like-minded people in your community as you make a positive impact together for a shared cause.

 

Ideas:

     Give your time to a cause or organization that really matters to you, such as your local school, animal rescue organization, mental health awareness group, or environmental nonprofit.6

     Tap into a skill you already have, like creating videos, and offer your services.

     Or learn a new skill (like fundraising) to benefit your cause of choice.

 

Take action: Start here to see where its needs are the greatest are in Alexandria VA. Make a point to help this holiday season, perhaps extending your commitment throughout 2021.

10. Perform random acts of kindness. Don’t think you need to “go big or go home” in your give-back efforts. You can make a big difference one small act at a time.

Ideas:

     Give a generous tip to a waitress.

     Pay for the coffee of the car behind you in the drive-through.

     Take care of a neighbor’s pet while they’re out of town.

     Send holiday cards to deployed military personnel.

     Deliver a plate of homemade holiday cookies to our local fire or police station.

     Smile at a stranger.

     Rake leaves for a neighbor.

     Thank your child’s teacher for all their hard work this year.

     Send an uplifting text to a friend.

     Compliment someone.

     Help a coworker with an unpleasant task.  

 

Take action: Need more ideas? Visit randomactsofkindness.org for hundreds of inspiring ways to make someone’s day a little brighter.

 

HOW WE CAN HELP YOU? 

As real estate experts in our local community, we’re tuned into the unique needs of the place we all call home. Reach out to us today to discuss more ways to make a positive impact in our community—this holiday season and beyond. And we want to make sure you’re taken care of, too. If you’re thinking about buying or selling a home now or in the near future, connect today and let us help you!

 

         

 

Sources:

1.     Redfin -
https://www.redfin.com/blog/attract-wildlife-to-your-backyard/#:~:text=Sow%20plants%20that%20provide%20essentials,these%20alternate%20natural%20food%20sources

2.     The Groundwater Foundation -
https://www.groundwater.org/action/home/raingardens.html

3.     The Globe and Mail -
https://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/home-and-garden/how-neighbours-and-online-maps-can-help-deter-break-ins/article34886427/

4.     Parade -
https://parade.com/1083640/stephanieosmanski/what-is-civic-engagement/

5.     MentalFloss -
https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/88663/15-ways-give-back-holiday-season

6.     Together We Rise -
https://www.togetherwerise.org/blog/7-ways-give-back-community/

 

Posted in News, Things To Do
Oct. 27, 2020

Buy A Home Alexandria VA | How Down Payment Assistance Open The Door to Homeownership

How Down Payment Assistance Opens the Door to Homeownership
for Alexandria VA First Time Buyers

 

How Down Payment Assistance Opens the Door to Homeownership | MyKCM

Many people are eager to buy a home right now while affordability continues to be a highlight of the current housing market. However, a recent survey by Sparks Research shows that 20% of first-time homebuyers cite a lack of financial education as a barrier to homeownership. This is definitely understandable. If you don’t feel comfortable with the financial process of buying a home, it’s hard to make a confident decision. In fact, four in five homebuyers say they need help to understand what they can even afford in the first place. This is why finding the right professionals to help you through the process is so important.

On top of that, the same survey reports over two-thirds of prospective homebuyers believe they’ll need assistance to save enough for a down payment. What they may not realize is that there are a lot of down payment assistance programs at the state and regional levels, and many of them have funds available for potential buyers. Down Payment Resources recently released its Q3 2020 Homeownership Program Index, which explains:

“The number of total programs is 2,340, and over 81 percent (81.1%) of programs currently have funds available for eligible homebuyers.”

Down Payment Assistance Programs Are Not Only for First-Time Homebuyers

Keep in mind, these programs aren’t just for first-time homebuyers, so it’s worth exploring your options no matter where you are in your homeownership journey. For example, if you’re working from home now, you may be thinking of relocating to a more affordable area where you can stretch your dollar further and have more space, inside and out. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors (NAR), explains:

“Rural areas have mortgages (USDA loans) that don’t require down payments; and some workers who can work from home may want to consider outer suburbs or small towns where USDA home loans are available and where homes are very affordable.”

If affordability is on your mind and you’re expecting to be working from home long-term, the right home may be in an area you haven’t considered yet. In addition, the assistance program you need might be within reach too.

If you’re interested in learning more about down payment assistance programs, click here to use my down payment resource portal to see what programs in Virginia you may be eligible for.

Bottom Line

Thanks to a range of down payment assistance programs, affordable options are out there for today’s hopeful homebuyers. It’s important to get the financial education you need to understand the homebuying process and accomplish your real estate goals. Let’s connect today to get you started on the path to your dream home.

 

               

 

Posted in Buyers
Oct. 17, 2020

Buy A Home Alexandria VA | Do You Have Enough Saved For A Down Payment

Do You Have Enough Money Saved for a Down Payment?
Buying a Home in Alexandria VA

Do You Have Enough Money Saved for a Down Payment? | MyKCM

One of the biggest misconceptions for first-time homebuyers is how much you’ll need to save for a down payment. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t always have to put 20% down to buy a house. Here’s how it breaks down.

A recent survey by Point2Homes mentions that 74% of millennials (ages 25-40) say they’re interested in purchasing a home over the next 12 months. The study notes, “88% say they have significantly less savings than the average national down payment amount, which is $62,600.”

Thankfully, $62,600 is not the amount every buyer needs for a down payment in the United States. There are many different options available, especially for first-time homebuyers (millennial or not). That amount can also be significantly less, depending on the purchase price of the house.

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), “The median existing-home price for all housing types in August was $310,600.” (These are the latest numbers available). NAR also indicates that:

“In 2019, the median down payment was 12 percent for all buyers, six percent for first-time buyers, and 16 percent for repeat buyers.” (See graph below):

Do You Have Enough Money Saved for a Down Payment? | MyKCMThat means if a qualified first-time buyer purchases a home at today’s median price, $310,600, with a 6% down payment, in reality, the down payment only amounts to $18,636. That’s nowhere near $62,600.

Knowing there are also programs like FHA where the down payment can be as low as 3.5% of the purchase price for a first-time buyer, that up-front cost could be significantly less – as little as $10,871 for the same home noted above. There are also other programs like USDA and loans for Veterans that waive down payment requirements.

The Point2Homes study also shares how much millennials have indicated they’ve saved for a down payment. As we can see in the graph below, 39% have already saved enough for a down payment on a median-priced home. Another 47% are close to reaching that goal, depending on the purchase price of the home.Do You Have Enough Money Saved for a Down Payment? | MyKCMUnfortunately, the lack of knowledge about the homebuying process is keeping many motivated first-time buyers on the sidelines. That’s why it’s important to contact a local real estate professional to understand the requirements in your local area if you want to buy a home. A trusted agent and your lender can guide you through the process.

Bottom Line

Be careful not to let big myths about homebuying keep you and your family out of the housing market. Let’s connect to discuss your options today.

             

Posted in Buyers