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

Sept. 11, 2008

Alexandria City September 11 Service

These photos were taken during today's service in Old Town Alexandria in remembrance of those lost in the September 11 attacks.

Alexandria City September 11 Service

Alexandria City September 11 Service

Alexandria City September 11 Service

There are tons of websites, photos, and links that can take us back to that day, but nothings warms me more than the sound of "The Voice", Whitney Houston singing the Star Spangled Banner.

Gives me goose bumps...

Posted in News
Sept. 10, 2008

Jazzy Events In And Around Alexandria VA

The fall brings out the best in music, art, and performances from around the area.  Check out these terrific events for some jazzy September fun:

  • Alexandria Festival of the Arts - Sept 13-24, ArtFestival.com. King Street becomes an outdoor gallery featuring 200 of the nation's top award-winning artists.
  • Mount Vernon's 18th Century Craft Fair - Sept 13-14, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., MountVernon.org. The fair is a re-creation of an early American marketplace with artist demonstrations, family entertainment, and 18th century amusement.
  • Rosslyn Jazz Festival - Sept 6, 12:30-7 p.m., RosslynVa.org, Enjoy a day of jazz concerts in Rosslyn, VA.
  • DC Shorts Film Festival - Sept 11-18, various locations, DCShorts.com. During the week, 102 films will be screened and 6 screenplays will be read in 9 rotating showcases.
  • Prelude 2008 - Arts Across America, Weekends, Aug 23-Oct 19, Kennedy Center, Kennedy-Center.org.  This annual event brings together talents from every region of our nation, from American masters and bearers of tradition to young innovators developing their craft.
  • Bethesda Art Walk - Sept 12, Bethesda.org. Free guided tours of 11 art galleries that feature painting, sculpture, photography, pottery, jewelry, and mixed media.

See You There!

Posted in Fun
Sept. 9, 2008

Understanding Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae Changes


Does the recent news about the government takeover of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae have you scratching your head?  Before the news was news, Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association of Realtors wrote a brief article explaining the current housing situation and what could happen.  Talk about forecasting...

Why are the companies' share prices falling? Investors fear they will collapse because of rising mortgage defaults driven by home price declines.
What are the default rates on loans held by the companies? For Fannie, 1.22% for single-family loans delinquent 90 days or more, up from .62%; for Freddie, .81%, up from .49%.  The figures are for April and were reported in The Wall Street Journal.
What happens if they collapse? Mortgage rates will rise much higher.
What happens if home prices fall much further than anticipated and the newly raised capital runs out or stock prices fall to zero? The federal government will take over the companies (without a doubt) and assume the mortgage debt default risk.

Yun hit the nail right on the head because the government is now in charge.  But what does it all mean? Here's a snapshot:

Over the weekend, both Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae have been placed into a government conservatorship that will be run by the recently created Federal Housing Finance Agency.

·         This was a necessary move to prevent the collapse of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae which would have been more damaging to both US and global financial markets.

·         It is expected that this move will bring stability to the housing market by increasing the available funds for lending, thereby lowering interest rates.  It is also expected to spur buyer activity which will begin the process of reversing the downward trend in property values.

·         Although there is no indication when the conservatorship will end, this move is viewed as a short-term take over intended to increase confidence and lower uncertainty in the housing market. 

·         This takeover has been strongly endorsed by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, "These necessary steps will help to strengthen the U.S. housing market and promote stability in our financial markets."

·         It is not clear how, if at all, this will affect Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s lending guidelines.  Their lending guidelines will continue to depend on how much risk they are willing to accept.

·         For now, this appears to be a good thing for the housing market but the full impact on the economy and the ripple effects this will have to taxpayers and Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac investors remains to be seen.


Posted in Buyers, Foreclosures, News
Sept. 7, 2008

Open House Sunday Sept 7 - Burgundy Woods

Open House Sunday, September 7th 1:00 - 4:00 p.m.
3419 Burgundy Road
Alexandria, VA 22303 - $759,000

Burgundy Woods Home

When location and luxury are essential, make the time to put this home on your list.  This three level brick front home includes the following special features:

  • Three (3) car garage
  • Four bedrooms, three full bathrooms, one half bath
  • Approximately 3400 square feet of finished living space
  • Custom wood moldings throughout
  • Rear deck with private yard backing to trees
  • Hardwood floors
  • Kitchen with double oven, upgraded cabinets
  • Office/library
  • Master bedroom with large walk-in closet
  • Deluxe master bathroom with his and her vanity sinks
  • Finshed recreation room

Photo Slide Show   Property Details   


Posted in Buyers, Open House
Sept. 5, 2008

Down Payment Assistance Now A Memory

 funds have dried up

Well, it seems that all of the funds for Down Payment Assistance (DPA) programs have dried up.  Even though the deadline is near for the government aid to officially come to an end, it appears that local banks are applying the 30-day rule.  Meaning that buyers who are approved for a mortgage utilitizing a DPA, like Nehemiah or AmeriDream, are encouraged to find a home quickly and reach a written agreement (contract ratification or acceptance) with the seller and close within the next 30 days.

Alexandria VA homebuyers can still purchase a home with the help of the Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA).  One program that stills offers home buyers to purchase with a minimal down payment is the VHDA FHA Plus loan. Borrowers need only a 1% down payment, and the seller can still pay up to 6% of the sales price toward the closing costs.  There is no adjustable mortage, the FHA Plus loan is a 30-year fixed loan.

Applicants must meet eligibility requirements and attend a free course offered by the VHDA.

Search the MLS   

Sept. 4, 2008

Labor Day Humor

What's So Funny About Work? 

 Work Funnies

 (Note: my office is really much neater than this!)

In honor of Labor Day, September 1, and all workers, here's a look at the lighter side of labor :

My first job was working in an orange juice factory, but I got canned...couldn't concentrate.

Then I worked as a lumberjack, but I couldn't hack it, so they gave me the ax.

After that I tried being a tailor, but I wasn't suited for it...and it was a so-so-job.

Next I tried working in a muffler factory, but that was too exhausting.

My best job was being a musician, till I found I wasn't noteworthy.

I wanted to start a bakery, but I couldn't raise the dough.

I studied a long time to become a doctor, but I didn't have any patience.

I became a professional fisherman, until I couldn't live on my net income.

I managed to get a good job with a pool maintenance company, but the work was just too draining.

So I applied for a job in a gym, but they said I wasn't fit for the job.

So I finally got a job as a historian until I realized there was no future in it.

My last job was working at Starbucks, but I quit because it was always the same old grind.

Hope you had an enjoyable Labor Day! 

Funny realtor (Thank you... thank you very much!)


Posted in Fun
Sept. 3, 2008

Gunston Corner VA Has Easy Commute For Military Homebuyers

 * Under Contract* - 8301 Bluebird Way, Unit D
Lorton, Virginia 22079
Highlands at Gunston Corner Condominiums

Gunston Corner Condo

Military homebuyers have the convenience of location, and different options for commuting from Gunston Corner to the Pentagon, Fort Belvoir, or Quantico Marine Base.

Located just under 20 miles from The Pentagon, your hassle-free commute from Gunston Corner may include:

Located less than five miles from Fort Belvoir, as a Gunston Corner homeowner, your commute would be less than the average Washingtonian commute, and you could probably come home for lunch!

And going against traffic with Quantico Marine Base as your destination, you should find the traffic steadily flowing down I-95 South as you wave to the north bound commuters.

This home is currently Under Contract, but there are others for sale!

Gunston Corner Condos For Sale

Gunston Corner Townhomes For Sale

Lorton Homes For Sale

Posted in Buyers, Condos
Aug. 27, 2008

Top Six Questions To Ask About Specialty Mortgages

More and more, people are calling me asking for help on how to keep their current home.  In listening to their stories and understanding how their financial difficulties came about, it's easy to see how consumers can fall into the trap of obtaining a mortgage where the terms are not fully understood (and in some cases not fully disclosed).

In high-priced housing markets, like Northern Virginia, it can be difficult to afford a home. That’s why a growing number of home buyers are forgoing traditional fixed-rate mortgages and standard adjustable-rate mortgages and instead opting for a specialty mortgage that lets them “stretch” their income so they can qualify for a larger loan.

But before you choose one of these mortgages, make sure you understand the risks and how they work.

Specialty mortgages often begin with a low introductory interest rate or payment plan — a “teaser”— but the monthly mortgage payments are likely to increase a lot in the future. Some are “low documentation” mortgages that come with easier standards for qualifying, but also higher interest rates or higher fees. Some lenders will loan you 100 percent or more of the home’s value, but these mortgages can present a big financial risk if the value of the house drops.

Specialty Mortgages Can:

  • Pose a greater risk that you won’t be able to afford the mortgage payment in the future, compared to fixed rate mortgages and traditional adjustable rate mortgages.
  • Have monthly payments that increase by as much as 50 percent or more when the introductory period ends.
  • Cause your loan balance (the amount you still owe) to get larger each month instead of smaller.

    Common Types of Specialty Mortgages:

  • Interest-Only Mortgages: Your monthly mortgage payment only covers the interest you owe on the loan for the first 5 to 10 years of the loan, and you pay nothing to reduce the total amount you borrowed (this is called the “principal”). After the interest-only period, you start paying higher monthly payments that cover both the interest and principal that must be repaid over the remaining term of the loan.
  • Negative Amortization Mortgages: Your monthly payment is less than the amount of interest you owe on the loan. The unpaid interest gets added to the loan’s principal amount, causing the total amount you owe to increase each month instead of getting smaller.
  • Option Payment ARM Mortgages: You have the option to make different types of monthly payments with this mortgage. For example, you may make a minimum payment that is less than the amount needed to cover the interest and increases the total amount of your loan; an interest-only payment, or payments calculated to pay off the loan over either 30 years or 15 years.
  • 40-Year Mortgages: You pay off your loan over 40 years, instead of the usual 30 years. While this reduces your monthly payment and helps you qualify to buy a home, you pay off the balance of your loan much more slowly and end up paying much more interest.

    Questions to Consider Before Choosing a Specialty Mortgage:

  • How much can my monthly payments increase and how soon can these increases happen?
  • Do I expect my income to increase or do I expect to move before my payments go up?
  • Will I be able to afford the mortgage when the payments increase?
  • Am I paying down my loan balance each month, or is it staying the same or even increasing?
  • Will I have to pay a penalty if I refinance my mortgage or sell my house?
  • What is my goal in buying this property? Am I considering a riskier mortgage to buy a more expensive house than I can realistically afford?

When looking to buy a home in Alexandria, Virginia, homebuyers should choose to work with a reputable lender who takes the time to prepare different scenarios and explains the differences of the many loan programs available.

Call Your Realtor Tamara

Aug. 23, 2008

Open House Sunday August 24 - Gunston Corner Condos

Open Sunday, August 24 1-4pm
8301 Bluebird Way, Unit D
Lorton, Virginia 22079 - $229,900

8301 Bluebird Way Unit D

This beautiful home offers two bedrooms, two full baths, new carpet throughout, new flooring and appliances in the kitchen, separate dining area, cartwheel friendly living room with gas fireplace and built-in shelves, den with ceramic tile flooring, and a separate laundry room with full sized washer/dryer/rinsing tub.

See the video tour   Search All MLS Listings   Visit My Website

Posted in Buyers, Condos
Aug. 15, 2008

Sharing and Learning At The Main Event

Every year By Referral Only comes to the Washington DC area.  As a member, I find The Main Event to be refreshing and rewarding because it gives me the opportunity to meet other members in person, see what's working well for other agents, and to reinforce the things that I currently do for my clients.  Here are some photos from this week's Main Event:

Me and Hugo Robinson (Partners In Crime!  Hugo is having success helping his clients with Reverse Mortgages)

Me and Tony Aragon (I knew you could do it! Tony was practicing his referral dialogues, and during the Main Event called a past client and received two referrals!)

Me and Joe Scerbo (aka The CraigsList King!  Joe has helped me market my listings on CraigsList to find buyers for my sellers!)

Me and Teresa Hollingsworth and Teresa Wright (Taking it to a new level!  I had just referred some clients to Teresa H. a couple of months ago.  She was able to help them get their home SOLD before any other home in the neighborhood.  Teresa W. and I shared our experiences on working with foreclosures.)

So many times clients just don't know what great Realtors do behind the scenes.  When we network and share ideas, we get homes sold faster, solve problems (and often help prevent them!), and help each other grow professionally and personally.  Just over 70% of my business is by word of mouth and referrals from happy past clients, thanks to the teachings of By Referral Only.