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March 31, 2015

Alexandria VA New Homes Buyer Guide - The Lot Says A Lot

Alexandria VA New Homes Buyer Guide -
The Lot Says A Lot

New Construction Townhomes in Alexandria VA

When you're buying a new construction home in Alexandria VA, you'll have to decide where your home will be built, or make a lot selection.  In a hot sellers market where homes are selling quickly and prices are steadily increasing, builders may charge a LOT PREMIUM.  A lot premium is a flat fee, or premium price, the builder charges when you make your lot selection.  You may see lot premiums on home sites such as:

  • Cul-de-sac lots
  • Lots that have a wooded view or back to trees
  • Lots that can accommodate a walkout basement
  • Corner lots (desirable for side-load garages)
  • Lots with water views
  • Lots backing to a golf course
  • Lots that are larger in size in comparison to the others that are available
  • End unit townhomes
  • Top floor/Penthouse level condos
  • Condos with a balcony or patio vs a unit with no outdoor space

The cost for the lot premium will be added to the base price of your new home.  Having to pay a lot premium is often a tough pill for many buyers to swallow because they view the BASE PRICE as the initial cost of the home and assume this is inclusive of any lot.  But when you drive though the different neighborhoods and see the dramatic exteriors, it's easy to see why some buyers would pay a premium to live on a certain street, or for a specific view.  Think about it, would you rather back to trees, or to other homes?  Would you rather have a view of water, or of some electrical towers?

With detached homes, certain elevations may require a certain lot size. For example, the models that offer the largest square footage can only be built on certain lots.  Also, if you have your heart set on a side-load garage, you may be limited to a corner lot.  You'll also discern the difference between a home with a walkout vs a walk-up basement.  Some buyers prefer the walkout basement because you may be able to get full length windows on the basement level, in addition to a reduced likelihood of flooding.

If you're looking at new construction townhomes in Alexandria VA, you'll find that end units have more windows, may have a 2-car vs a 1-car garage, and you'll also find more yard space.  And with brand new condos, premium pricing will take effect as you ascend to the penthouse level.

So yes, the lot says a lot.  When you're ready to buy a new home in Alexandria VA, put my experience to work for you.

More in the Alexandria VA New Home Buyer Guide Series:

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Posted in New Construction
March 24, 2015

Tam's Tuesday Tip | Pendings Predict A Record Breaking Spring

Tam's Tuesday Tip | Pendings Predict A Record Breaking Spring


Alexandria VA Real Estate - If we take a look at pending home sales right now, from December 2015 to February 2015, we see that the number of homes going under contract is growing nicely.


We're in a really good place and it looks like the momentum is continuing to build. Take a look at the percentage change in pending sales for December through February of 2014 vs 2015:

December marked the month where the tide turned in the Alexandria VA real estate market in comparison to last year.  In December 2013 there were 146 pending home sales in Alexandria VA vs 169 in December 2014; a 15.8% increase.  In January 2014 there were 180 pendings vs 211 this January; a 17.2% increase, and in February 2014 there were 245 home pending compared to last month's total of 265, which was an 8.2% increase.

Sellers are you convinced yet?

This data on pending home sales in Alexandria VA compliment NAR's report on the recent foot traffic in homes that are currently on the market.

If you are thinking about buying a home in Alexandria VA within the next 3-6 months, then you'd better "Get on the Good Foot".  Why? Here are three good reasons:

Interest Rates are Projected to Increase This Year

Freddie Mac has predicted that mortgage rates will increase this year.  Even if Alexandria VA housing prices remain the same (which they don't in a hot market), the cost of money will increase.  The longer you gamble with time and try to wait, the greater your chances are of having a higher monthly mortgage payment as the year progresses.

Low Down Payment Mortgage Programs Are Making A Comeback

Rising rents can make it harder to save up money for a down payment.  If you think that you need 20% down to own a home, that's not the case.  Freddie Mac announced earlier this year that first time buyers can buy a home with as little as 3% down with the Home Possible Advantage Program.  The Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA) also announce a 3% down payment grant, this means eligible first-time buyers can qualify for down payment funds that's not even a loan.....there's nothing to repay!

You Will Competing With Other Buyers

As an experienced Alexandria VA buyer agent, my advice still falls on deaf ears sometimes.  So, if you don't believe me, just ask the "Google gods".

When we look at how many people Googled the phrase "buying a home" we see that in January 2015, "buying a home" was trending at a much higher rate than January of 2014 and 2013.

So, get that Alexandria VA home search started today! The spring real estate market looks like it's going to be a record breaker. If you want to make the most of it, get in early and stop putting it off.  One of the toughest things to explain to a buyer is how "that" house is now thousands more than the homes that sold in the same neighborhood just six months ago. Get in the game before you have to pay more!




Posted in Buyers
March 23, 2015

Alexandria VA New Homes Buyer Guide - The Site Plan

Alexandria VA New Homes Buyer Guide - The Site Plan

When you're looking at new construction homes for sale in Alexandria, it's important to review the SITE PLAN.  Some things to know include:

  • How many homes are planned to be built in the community?
  • Will there be a mix of homes styles?  For example, all single-family homes, a mix of townhomes and condos, etc.
  • Where are the entrances to the community located?
  • How many homes have sold (the sold homes should be clearly identified)?
  • When is the builder expected to be finished with the final home?
  • How many building phases have been planned?
  • Identify the visitor parking spaces, especially for condo and townhome communities.
  • What homes and homesites are currently available, and what do these lots back to/ face?
  • Is there a clubhouse or community center, if so, where is it located?
  • Where are the community amenities, such as the swimming pool, tennis courts?
  • Is there an identifiable dog park, open dog run area?

Sometimes a buyer can love the builder or fall in love with an individual floor plan, but dislike the overall site plan.  Perhaps it's a community where parking will be a premium, and your preference is to have more available parking for guests.  Or, you've always wanted to be in a community with a pool and fitness center, and the community doesn't offer those amenities.  Most planned communities in Alexandria VA will have monthly or quarterly association fees, so reviewing the site plan will also give you a bird's eye view of how your dollars will be spent to maintain the grounds and visual appeal of the community.


Are you ready to take a look at some new homes for sale in Alexandria VA?  Then give me a call today at 703-623-8759.


Up Next in the Alexndria VA New Home Buyer Guide Series -
"The LOT Says a Lot!"






Posted in New Construction
March 13, 2015

Down Payment Assistance Grant for Alexandria VA Buyers

Down Payment Assistance Grant for Alexandria VA Buyers

Down Payment Grant - One of the biggest hurdles that first-time buyers face is saving money for the down payment.  The Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA) is removing this hurdle by offering Down Payment Assistance grants.  VHDA has set aside $5 million for this program, but buyers will have to act quickly, these funds are only available until June 30, 2015 and are awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Grants will be limited to 3% of the lesser of the purchase price, or the appraised value.  This is a significant help to renters who are saving up for the down payment.  In many cases, the closing costs can be negotiated and paid by the seller, but when the Alexandria VA real estate market heats up, things get more competitive, and buyers vying for the same home will want to make offers as attractive as possible, and that means not asking for seller concessions.  With grant funds being used toward the down payment, buyers won't have to worry about possibly missing out on a home.

Another benefit of this grant is the borrower is under no obligation to repay, this is not a loan or any type of lien against the property.  If you are buying a home in Alexandria VA, call me today at 703-623-8759 to see if you qualify, or complete this form for additional information.


      Search homes for sale     What's Your Home Worth

Posted in Buyers, Home Buying
March 11, 2015

Alexandria VA 2014 Foreclosure Report

Alexandria VA 2014 Foreclosure Report

Alexandria VA Foreclosures - Foreclosure sales in Alexandria VA closely mirrored the short sales in 2014.  When you look at the chart below, you can see how the Alexandria VA real estate market gained momentum from March to June, however the number of bank owned foreclosures remained low.  The number of closed foreclosure sales ended in December with a big 'goose egg' - ZERO.  Hard to believe that in a Washington DC metro market, there weren't any foreclosures sold in December of 2014.


Take a look at the 2014 foreclosure number by quarter.  With the traditional sales removed, you have a clearer picture of how the Alexandria VA foreclosure market fared.  As you can see, in a market where closed sales peaked at 265 in June, the number homes sold that were foreclosures never even made it to 20. 

Alexandria VA Foreclosures Lingered in 2014

With foreclosures being as scarce as they were in 2014, buyers weren't exactly snapping them up quickly either.  Take a look at how long foreclosures typically stayed on the market in 2014:

On average Alexandria VA foreclosures stayed on the market longer than traditional sales in 2014.   When looking at the different types of distressed properties, the biggest advantage of pursuing a foreclosure versus a short sale is the response time from the bank once an offer has been submitted.  With foreclosures,  banks usually respond within two business days as compared to waiting months for a short sale.  But responsiveness aside, buyers seemed to prefer the traditional sales in 2014.

Can you still find a good deal with a foreclosure in Alexandria VA? Possibly.  In January, there were 7 new foreclosure listings that came into the market.  These listings still vary in terms of condos, townhomes, and detached homes for sale, so the opportunities are still there.  Many times the deals are made by going against the grain.  Banks don't want to be in the property management business, they are trying to offload an asset.  So, if you're buying a home in Alexandria VA, don't overlook the bank owned foreclosures, especially if they have been lingering on the market longer than traditional sales. 

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March 5, 2015

Alexandria VA 2014 Short Sale Market Report

Alexandria VA 2014 Short Sale Market Report


Alexandria VA Short Sales - Short sales continued to play a very small part of the Alexandria VA real estate market.  Take a look below and you'll see that as 2014 wrapped up, short sales accounted for less than 5% of the total inventory of active listings:


The gap between the traditional sales and the short sale is significant.  This reflects positively on the rebound of growth and property values in Alexandria VA.

When we hone in on the short sale closings for 2014, you'll notice a dramatic decrease in the 4th quarter of 2014.

In the first quarter, there were 10 short sales that closed; in the second quarter 15; 9 in the 3rd quarter, and in the fourth quarter only 7 short sales closed.

So Are Alexandria VA Short Sales Going Away?


Take a look at the inventory of short sale listings over the past four years.  In the first quarter of 2011, there were 55 active short sale listings in Alexandria VA, and never again has there been that level of inventory.  Short sales are still a very small portion of active homes for sale in Alexandria VA.


          Search Short Sale in Alexandria VA    What's Your Home Worth


March 3, 2015

Tam's Tuesday Tip | Looser Credit and Lower Down Payments

Tam's Tuesday Tip -
Looser Credit and Lower Down Payments


Winter seems to be lingering around like bad leftovers that you forget to throw away.  That's ok, because Spring is only 17 days away and warmer temps are sure to follow.
There are a couple points to share this week, all positive for those of you who will be in the market to buy a home within the next 3-6 months. First, lenders are loosening their lending guidelines. According to the national HousingWire news service, "mortgage applications should begin to see faster processing times, reduced credit score requirements, and greater leeway."  Does this mean that we're heading into the mess that we saw that created the last mortgage meltdown?  No, but it does mean that the super stiff restrictions that came as a result are now starting to ease up.   Lenders will still look at your income, time on your current job, how much monthly debt you have, and your credit score, so that still matters.  But you don't need a 780 credit score to buy a home.  Looser credit and low interest rates are creating more opportunities for buyers to make the transition into homeownership.
Second, low down payment mortgage programs are making a comeback!  The director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) just announced that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae will once again be making mortgages available with down payments as low as 3%, lower than the standard 3.5% that is currently required for FHA loans.
Take a look at the graph above and you'll see that many people believe that in order to buy a home, you need a down payment of 15%. With rising rents, it's a real challenge to put money away and save up for a large down payment on a new home.  Mortgage loans with low down payment options make it easier for renters to realize the advantage owning versus renting.
When you're in the beginning stages of your home search, let us help you find out what opportunities are available for you!  Remember, there's never an obligation. 
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Posted in Tuesday Tip
Jan. 28, 2015

Just Sold in Country Club Estates Alexandria VA

Just Sold in Country Club Estates in Alexandria VA
6711 Tahalla Drive

detached home alexandria va

Alexandria VA Homes For Sale - The real estate market activity is picking up in Alexandria VA.  Multiple offers were received on this split level detached home at 6711 Tahalla Drive, and it was just sold for $463,000. This home was located on a private cul-de-sac with a lot size of just under a half acre, and backed to Stoneybrook Park. 

Inside were three bedrooms, including a master bedroom with a renovated full bath, and a second hallway bath that was upgraded with new fixtures and ceramic tile flooring.  There were hardwood floors in the main level living room, dining room, and bedrooms.  The kitchen was also updated with granite countertops, black appliances, tile flooring, and new undermount sink with pullout spray faucet.

Although this home did include a one car garage, it also had an extended driveway.  Visitor parking was easy with the cul-de-sac location.

The back yard made you feel like you were completely away from it all.  When you stepped out through the french doors, onto the 20x20 TREX deck, there was nothing but open space and trees.  That's one of the benefits of detached living, the yard space.  Just one walk through this home and you could tell the owners spent a lot of time outside.  There were two decks, a lower level area that was partially fenced, playground set, and separate shed.

If you are currently living in a condo or townhouse and want to expand and find a detached home for sale in Alexandria VA, start your search here or give me a call at 703-623-8759 today.


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Posted in Just Sold
Jan. 24, 2015

Just Sold in Brightwood Subdivision in Washington DC

Just Sold in Brightwood Subdivision in
Washington DC

Brightwood Homes For Sale in DC - January is off to a rocking start.  Another home has just been sold in the Brightwood section of Washington DC, courtesy of Tamara Inzunza of RE/MAX Executives.

Like many clients, my buyer was referred to me from another client.  With a quick loan approval from one of my preferred lenders, we were on our way looking at homes for sale in Brightwood.  As the 2014 calendar year was wrapping up, the Brightwood real estate market was really heating up.  We wrote multiple offers with escalation clauses, then we shifted our strategy and found this home at 1400 Sheridan that needed a little love.

If you are moving up to a larger home or just starting out and buying your first home, put me to work for you. Visit my website to see all Brightwood homes for sale and give me a call at 703-623-8759.



Jan. 2, 2015

Alexandria VA Foreclosures for November 2014

Alexandria VA Foreclosures for November 2014

When sizing up the foreclosure inventory for Alexandria (City) VA in November 2014, you only need one hand...actually you only need one finger.  There was only one bank owned foreclosure home that sold in November, that property sold for $690,000.  It was a four level townhome in the Old Town Alexandria community of Old Town Greens.


Buyers who are swarming the real estate market looking for Alexandria VA foreclosures won't have a lot to choose from.  Take a look at the number below, there were only four new foreclosures for sale in the month of November, out 181 new listings total.  Foreclosures are only 2.2% of the total new listing inventory.

To make sure you're not missing out on another opportunity, visit the Alexandria VA foreclosures page for a current list of available homes for sale. Got a quick question, just text me at 703-623-8759.