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

April 20, 2008

Top Alexandria VA RE/MAX Agent Climbs Even Higher

After consistently delivering Outstanding Results with RE/MAX Allegiance of Kingstowne for over five years, Tamara Inzunza has joined locally owned McEnearney Associates, Inc. in Old Town Alexandria.

Tamara Inzunza joins McEnearney Associates, Inc of Old Town Alexandria

Those looking to purchase or sell a home in Northern Virginia or Washington DC, will benefit from the marketing expertise of the area's #1 firm. The numbers don't lie, not only did McEnearney Associates lead the region in sales in 2007 but the firm also holds the records for highest list price to sold price ratio for homes.

Top Residential Sales Offices In Northern Virginia

 

When asked why make a move from an internationally known company to a local firm, Inzunza responded, "Whenever anyone talks about real estate, one of the first things that comes to mind is Location, Location, Location.  Even experienced real estate agents often remind consumers that 'real estate is local'.  Well, locally, the reputation of McEnearney Associates is second to none.  The company is highly regarded among the real estate community, has an unmatched agent retention rate, and is dedicated to providing agents with tools and support to help them increase their business and best serve clients."

"Anyone who knows me, from clients to fellow collegueas in the industry, knows that I have high standards.  In this service-oriented industry, it's imperative to ensure that all facets of my business reflect a solid level of professionalism, productivity, and performance.  Moving to McEnearney Associates is the logical step in the right direction."

Tamara can be reached by phone at 703-623-8759 or by email.

April 13, 2008

Can You Afford To Buy A New Alexandria VA Home? Get Pre-Approved And Find Out

Before you start your search for a new condo, townhouse, or single-family home in Alexandria VA, the real estate professional you're working with will likely 'prequalify' you to help you determine how much you can afford.  But taking it one step further will prove to be even more beneficial to you as a home buyer.  Get in front of a local mortgage reperesentative or loan officer, and obtain a mortgage approval or pre-approval.   According to Tamara Inzunza, Accredited Buyer Representative of McEnearney Associates in Alexandria VA, mortgage pre-approval is a necessary part of the home buying process.

"I've seen buyers visit open houses and get excited about the possibility of owning a particular home, only to find out in the mortgage approval process that they don't qualify," explains Inzunza.

"In today's society, consumers are used to doing their own research and using the internet to gather information.  I've visited several websites, from company websites to general information sites, and they all say that the approval process is the first step or it's second to selecting an agent," adds Inzunza.

Submit A Mortgage Application

By candidly discussing your financial situation, you'll give your Buyer's Agent the information necessary to show you homes you can afford. "If you don't open up, you are placing the real estate professional in the role of a tour guide, not someone who can help you find a home within your budget.  You'll wind up wasting your time, and that of the agent and the seller," Inzunza cautions.

With the recent changes in the mortgage industry, experienced buyer agents and listing agents will request a mortgage approval letter upon receipt of a purchase offer.  Sellers will want the assurance that if they take their home off the market making it unavailable to other potential buyers, that your loan is in order.

When selecting your buyer's agent, ask for recommendations of local lenders.  If you already have an existing relationship with a bank, mortgage company, or credit union, start there and obtain your pre-approval.

List Of Recommended Local Lenders       Find Out What You Can Afford

If you're already out visiting open houses or looking at homes online, then you're obviously in the market to buy a new home. Why not take the extra step and get the approval?  That way if you see something you like, you'll know it's within your financial reach.

Buyers who have already obtained their mortgage approval have the 'green light' to start their home search:

Del Ray Condos And Townhomes For Sale       Old Town Alexandria VA Homes For Sale       Kingstowne Alexandria VA Homes For Sale

Bonus Free Report #1: 10 Questions To Ask Your Lender 

Bonus Free Report #2: 10 Things A Lender Needs From You

Bonus Free Report #3: 8 Steps To Getting Your Finances In Order 

Tamara Inzunza, Associate Broker is one of 40,000 members of the Real Estate BUYER'S AGENT Council (REBAC) of the National Association of Realtors, who have obtained the ABR, Accredited Buyer Representative designation.  As the world's largest association of real estate professionals focusing specifically on representing the real estate buyer, REBAC is "The Voice for Buyer Representation," with more than 44,000 active real estate professional members of the organization throughout the world.

Accredited Buyer Representative

Call A Realtor First When Buying A Home

 

 

Dec. 18, 2007

Houses Are On Sale Too!

By now I'm sure you've received newspapers from your favorite stores annoucing special holiday deals. How about those emails from your favorite online stores with 'special' deals like free shipping, or an additional percentage off for a limited time.

If you've been receiving email alerts from the MLS, you would have also seen significant price reductions for homes across the area. Not only is December the end of the calendar year, but it's' also the end of the final quarter. Banks and mortgage companies with foreclosure homes currently on the market DO NOT want to carry these homes into 2008.

Why? For two main reasons:

(1) in Northern Virginia, it will cost sellers more to sell after January 1, 2008. The grantors tax will increase from $1 per thousand to $5 per thousand of the sales price OR the tax assessed value, whichever is higher.

And (2) many of the mortgage programs that are currently available to buyers will be unavailable after January 15, 2008. Certain 'zero down' loans will be no more, forcing buyers to have the traditional 5%-10% down payment that was required in yesteryear. And fewer buyers mean longer days on the market for some price brackets.

If you're still on the fence about a home purchase, waiting to buy can still cost your more in 2008 even though it's a buyers market.

These two perfect stocking stuffers are currently available:

http://www.301ReynoldsSt615.com/
http://www.17381HotSpringsWay.com/

My trusted lending professionals and I will be around this week for your real estate needs. We find 100% of our buyers the right loan and the right home. With over 10 years of service, we have never had a buyer or seller face foreclosure. Let us be your trusted professionals in today's market.

Posted in Uncategorized
Aug. 8, 2007

Good Deals In Foreclosures???

So, where are the good deals? I mean, it's a buyers market right? So you'd think there would be ample opportunity to get a great deal on a foreclosure.

When buying a home, usually every buyer starts out wanting to look at foreclosures. As an agent of ten years, I've learned that is code for, "I really want a house that's worth a lot...but I don't want to pay market value...and I want it to be worth a lot more than what I paid."

In Northern Virginia and Washington DC, these deals are still out there, but how you find them is a careful strategy. The problem with today's foreclosures is that many of them are a result of the supercharged seller's market of 2001-2005. Homes were being bid up, over their asking prices, and the next home that came on the market was listed at $10,000 or more higher than the last home that sold in the neighborhood...with no upgrades!

If the homes in the sellers market were overvalued, how do you determine if a foreclosure in today's market is a 'good deal'?

The answer...do your research, and use your due diligence!

First of all, if you're going the foreclosure route, decide on an area. It's exactly the same as if you were looking for a resale home on the market. Foreclosures come in all shapes, sizes, price ranges, and locations. Instead of trying to blanket the metro area, choose a zip code, school zone, or radius from metro. Anything that would give you an immediate edge if you had to sell the home quickly should be your first priority.

Second, take advantage of your Realtor's tools to keep you informed of recent sales (a CMA or comparative market analysis), neighborhood sales alerts, or MLS market snapshot alerts. A market analysis is a snapshot of the homes that have sold recently, whereas the neighborhood sales ale rts tell you what homes are being listed for (and reduced to) in an effort to obtain top market value. The market snapshot alerts give you information (charts, graphs, and maps) of the market activity within a five-mile radius of a given address.

Be serious about your search. Get approved, so that once your foreclosure opportunity presents itself, you can submit a non-contingent offer. The foreclosure market itself is always a sellers market. You will be competing against deep pocketed investors, possibly government agencies, and other buyers who specifically want to buy a foreclosure. A clean offer will move to the top of the pile.

Don't be afraid to low-ball a foreclosure. With the help of your agent, your research should give you a firm idea of the price range of the market value of the foreclosure at its highest and best use. Everything is negotiable, even the sales price of a foreclosure. Remember, foreclosures are in every market. They are also listed in the MLS and can present a great opportunity to build equity instantly.

Banks don't want to be property managers, that's why homeowners are given options and alternatives to avoid foreclosure. Banks really do want to 'cut their losses', and with the right information on your side, their loss can be your gain.

If you would like a list of foreclosures in your area (Northern Virginia & DC), please reply back to me and I'll send you the information right away!

Posted in Uncategorized
May 14, 2007

Protect Yourself From Predatory Lending (Part 2)

One of the things that made DC Metropolitan area such a breeding ground for predatory lending was the fact that there was such a shortage of housing, that buyers were willing to do anything to 'Get That House' that came on the market. Strategies such as waiving home inspections, and waiving appraisals were the norm.

Also, buyers accepted exotic loans as an alternative because it seemed like if you didn't go that route, you simply would not own a home. Buyers were enticed by 'teaser' rates. Teaser rates are low introductory interest rates that are fixed for a short period of time, usually 1-6 months. After the initial period, the interest rate could adjust monthly, and many loans offered buyers the option of paying a certain portion of the required payment, and tacking on the difference to the principal.

A recipe for disaster for those households were already walking a fine line when it comes to financial discipline. Add increased fuel costs, and you have the makings of a real estate market breakdown.

But wait a minute, was it always the lender's fault? It is ultimately the buyer's responsibility to read all of the documents pertaining to the loan...including the fine print. All buyers should understand exactly what their mortgage payment will be prior to closing. Buyers should also prepare themselves financially so that they have the means to pay their mortgage during the adjustment periods. These are some of the things that buyers learn during the initial consultation with the buyer agent, and the chosen lender. And all buyers have the right to receive their Good Faith Estimate of closing costs within three days of loan application. If the chosen lender does not provide this, then that should be a red flag.
In the Washington DC real estate market, a lot of buyers either sink or swim. Nobody likes sitting in traffic, so people are willing to pay more to live closer to the city. On the flip side, if you're spending $400,000 in Arlington, you're looking at condos and older townhomes that need work, whereas in Prince William and Stafford Counties, $400,000 equates to a single-family detached home with a 2-car garage, and yard space. What's a family of four to do?

One of the requirements for demand is scarcity. And we were facing a housing shortage. Homes were being bid up, and for many buyers, that meant stepping out of the traditional 30-year fixed mortgage, into an interest-only loan so to increase the purchasing power. Mortgage companies had to offer creative loan products just to stay competitive.

In many areas, we are starting to see sellers who are upside down on their mortgages, meaning that when they sell, they will be bringing money to the table. Also, many sellers can't afford to offer incentives such as buyer paid closing costs, which can increase time on the market. This, however, will open the door to pre-foreclosures, short sales, and bank-owned properties making their way into the open market. Where are the investors?

Posted in Uncategorized
April 20, 2007

Protect Yourself From Predatory Lending

The hot sellers market in the recent past had a lot of buyers asking me, "How can so many people afford these high priced homes?"

It was hard for a lot of buyers, particularly first-time buyers and military buyers to compete with multiple offers, and offers without a home inspection. During these times, it was normal to write anywhere from 4-7 contracts per client.

If you're keeping up with real estate news, you are aware that not only is there a rise in foreclosures, but the government is cracking down on companies and people who prey on individuals with predatory lending practices.

In case you're new to the term, Freddic Mac explains predatory lending to include:

  • Excessive cost – charging interest rates and/or fees that far exceed reasonable compensation for a lender's costs or risks.
  • Equity stripping – lending at a high interest rate, then repeatedly refinancing at a lower interest rate to strip the borrower’s equity in order to pay new points and fees.
  • Failure to report borrower credit information – limiting the ability of borrowers to obtain the lowest interest rate available based on the borrower’s complete credit history.
  • Steering to higher-cost mortgages – referring borrowers to high-cost loans when they are eligible for lower cost financing.
  • Credit insurance products that are financed upfront – including single premium credit insurance that is paid in a single premium or financed in the loan amount.

In this age of information, there are real estate and mortgage websites that include pop-up advertising for low and no cost mortgages. As a consumer looking for a 'good deal', here are some ways to protect yourself, your wallet, and your credit:

  1. Know your rights as a borrower! Here is a link to HUD's website which includes the RESPA (Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act) Bill of Rights for borrowers.
  2. Understand what closing costs are involved with your loan.
  3. Get it in writing. If a lender will not give you a Good Faith Estimate of your closing costs, this is a red flag, no matter how enticing the interest rate.
  4. Get at least three estimates from reputable, local lenders.
  5. Make sure that you understand the mortgage that you have chosen before finding a new home. If your mortgage rate adjusts, you have to make sure that you can still afford to pay the mortgage, insurance, and property taxes, in addition to your other living expenses.

As a Realtor, I've witnessed first hand buyers who have come to me with an internet pre-approval, only to learn that they need thousands more than anticipated to close the loan, or that their loan has a pre-payment penalty, or that their interest rate will increase next month. It's very disappointing and discouraging, but it can be prevented.

Aligning yourself with a reputable real estate agent AND mortgage lender will go a long way in ensuring that you are not a victim of predatory lending.

Posted in Uncategorized
March 16, 2007

Market Statistics

Don't let the rainy weather get you down. Remember, there's always a rainbow after the storm, and I can help you find your pot of gold by using real estate as your treasure.

From our MLS provider the Metropolitan Regional Information System (MRIS),
"In his Chief Economist’s Commentary, NAR’s David Lereah explains why 2007 brings cautious confidence and hopefulness, as his forecast calls for modest quarterly gains throughout this year.
NAR Economist Ken Fears traces mortgage rates and the psychological effect of “payment shock” experienced by potential buyers in his Trends report. Are the most homes being sold in the middle price ranges or in the lower price ranges? The Trends chart lets you see for yourself. And, the Economic Monitor provides a good overview of home inventory levels, housing starts, and impact from the job market."

Click the following link to view the Watch Report and to see specific statistics by area:http://www.mris.com/reports/marketreport/index.cfm.

After a storm of increasing prices and bidding wars, we are still experiencing a slight calm. Is it the calm before another storm? The real estate market works in cycles, so only time will tell. As an experienced professional writing contracts and viewing homes every day, I can tell you that there are a lot of deals to be made right now. So, don't just sit on the fence...own one!

Posted in Uncategorized
March 7, 2007

In Like A Lion?

Historically speaking, the spring time has been the best time to sell your house, but what if you are looking at buying? Will you be able to find any good deals? Will prices start to creep up beyond your reach?

Here are five ways that buyers and sellers can get the most bang for their buck this spring selling season:

Sellers: This window of opportunity is like a pendulum. In order to attract ready, willing, and able buyers, it’s all about price. Remember, pricing too high could cause your listing to die a slow death of price reductions, and low ball offers. A competitive price will entice multiple offers, and competitive offers with fewer concessions and contingencies.

  1. Buyers: Don’t be afraid to make an offer, even if you feel the home is overpriced. On January 1 of this year, 323 listings in Northern Virginia expired. This means that these homes went off the market because they did not sell during a specific period of time. The majority of these homes were indeed overpriced, but many of these sellers would have been willing to negotiate with you.
  2. Sellers: Do what you can to prepare your home for the spring market. Take advantage of my offer for either a 10% off coupon for your purchase at Lowes, OR a FREE DVD from ‘Designed To Sell’. Save money on purchasing the materials you need to spruce up your home, or see first hand ‘before’ and ‘after’ effects from the pros on how you can get your home ready for the buyer’s eye.
  3. Buyers: Get your pre-approval now. It’s always free and there’s no obligation. My preferred lenders are always ready to help you. With your pre-approval you are informed of your credit score and alerted to any discrepancies that may exist. The higher your credit score, the more attractive your loan program and interest rate.
  4. Buyers and Sellers: Don’t make a decision without a Realtor! You don’t know what you don’t know, and my job is to provide you with the tools and information so that you have everything you need to make an informed decision. Knowing what your neighbor’s home sold for, knowing the comparables so that you know how to structure your purchase offer, knowing what inspections to obtain, knowing how to save money on closing costs are just some of the ways that I can help!

 

My professional prediction is that we will see a large number of homes enter the market this spring. Sellers who were unsuccessful in getting their home sold during the winter months are on the sidelines in hope of getting a better price. But with more competition…comes better pricing, which should bring more buyers out into the marketplace.

 

Posted in Uncategorized
Feb. 21, 2007

Double Dutch - Part 3 of 3

The last couple of weeks I have been comparing tracking and chasing the real estate market to learning how to jump rope double-dutch style. Finally, I'm going to show you where to look on the internet to help you do your due diligence when contemplating investing in real estate in any part of the country.

Here are some good sources for market statistics, demographics, and other information that will help you determine which areas would be a financial fit for your investing goals:
In Northern Virginia: http://www.nvar.com/ and click 'Market Stats'.
In Northern Virginia: http://www.MRIS.com/reports/stats and select your report from the drop-down menus

Nationally: http://www.realtor.org/ and click 'Research'
Nationally: http://money.cnn.com/ and under 'Real Estate', 'Best Places to Live', 'Best Places to Retire', and 'Home Prices'
Nationally: http://realtytimes.com/rtcpages/buyersadvice.htm
Nationally: http://www.freedemographics.com/
Nationally: http://www.census.gov/
Nationally: http://www.nahb.org/generic.aspx?sectionID=728
College Towns: http://www.collegerealestate.com/A+collegerealestate.htm
College Towns: http://www.forbes.com/lifestyle/realestate/2004/09/
03/cx_bs_0903home.html?partner=rss, and click the link at the bottom for top areas
I would highly recommend that you create a folder for bookmarks called "Real Estate Investing" and bookmark all of these links.

Also, try to 'salami slice' your investment goals. Set realistic, attainable goals, and work your way up. It's not as hard as you think!

If you have any other links that you'd like to share, please send them. Surrounding yourself with people with the same goals as you, makes it easier to bounce ideas, and network with those who can lend you a helping hand. Look for a local investing group in your area, or perhaps your church.

Now, you have the information you need to know when to jump in and out of the different real estate markets! Are you ready to JUMP IN?

Note: the following link contains sound:
http://pbskids.org/dragonflytv/show/doubledutch.html

Posted in Uncategorized
Feb. 6, 2007

Double-Dutch Part 2

Last week I compared tracking and chasing the real estate market to learning how to jump rope double-dutch style. This week, I'm going to show you how to watch the market (the ropes) in different areas, so that you have the information you need to know when to 'jump in' (buy) and when to 'jump out' (sell) and make a clean break.

If you can learn how to use the internet to your advantage, you can align yourself with updates and information to monitor real estate activity in Northern Virginia, or any other part of the country.

Any search engine, but particularly Google or Yahoo, is a good place to start. Think in general terms, write them down, then force yourself to carve out the fat and trim your search down to more specific terms.

For example, typing in 'real estate investing' returns hundreds of sites with get rich quick methods of investing in real estate. Remember, you're looking for information that you can use to help you make a decision. Delete your search, and type 'hot growth areas' OR 'hot job markets'. This will return specifics on areas that are currently experiencing an upswing in the market and have a stable local economy.

Another example, search for Fortune 500 companies, and try to find out where they are opening new offices, plants, stores, etc. Our own local Washington Business Journal (http://washington.bizjournals.com/washington/) is a premier place for businesses to make their announcements to Northern Virginia and the DC Metro area. Remember, Virginia was cited as the #1 place for business in 2006!

Are you retiring within the next five years and leaving the area? Research where you plan to move, and do your due diligence to see if it makes sense to purchase your next home now as a rental property, and rent it out until you're ready to move-in. That way when you move in, your mortgage will be based on today's value as opposed to the future appreciated value.

Well, what are you waiting for? Start your search! Next week, I'll tell you the BEST sites to bookmark for staying on top of trends anywhere and everywhere.

Email me and let me know what you've found out, and if you're one step closer to investing in real estate! If you thought of a very unique search phrase that provided you with astounding results, please share!

Posted in Uncategorized