How Interest Rate News Affects Your Home Search

With the interest rate in the news, I wanted to provide some perspective on what that might mean if you are considering buying a home. The Fed declined to raise the rate, but is projected to make a slight bump in December. While rates probably wont skyrocket soon, any increase does affect your buying power when it comes to house shopping. We would never advise you to buy a house based on fear or market pressure. The decision to buy should be made considering many factors, including your lifestyle, desires, and general readiness, in addition to financial considerations. To look at the financial picture, a rent versus buy calculator, like my favorite from the New York Times, can help you get a better sense of whether or not it makes sense for you.

If you are already considering buying a home, the projected bump in interest rates, and the estimated additional 5.4% increase in housing prices over the next year, may be reasons to consider looking in earnest now, versus waiting until next spring or summer. As an example, below is a snapshot at the average housing price for a first time home buyer in our area. If you are looking at homes priced higher, the difference will be even more pronounced.

The difference of $185 a month, may not look like much, but it adds up to almost $67,000 across the life of the loan for the same house. If you are ready to buy now, that difference could make it worth starting to look seriously this fall versus waiting until next year. The good news is that if you aren’t ready to buy, next year’s projected rate of 3.71% is still VERY low compared to historical averages.
As always, we want to lead with information and help you make the decision that is right for you. Feel free to contact us with any questions, we’d love to hear from you.
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Falls Church First Time Homebuyers Program

falls church logoThe City of Falls Church offers closing cost and down payment assistance of up to 20% of the purchase price of a house (less than $450,000) for first time homebuyers. The assistance is a second interest-free loan, with repayment due at the sale or refinance of the home, or if the buyer rents the home out (it is no longer the buyer’s primary residence). One caveat: the City wants an interest in any appreciation in the property for the use of the money. If they loan you 20% of the purchase price of the home and it appreciates, when you sell the home, they want 20% of the new sale price.

Requirements to qualify:

  1. Income restricted to 120% of the area median, which for a household of 1-2 people is $120,000.
  2. Credit score of 620 or better.
  3. Be able to qualify for a 30 year loan.
  4. Be able to contribute at least 2% down.
  5. Buy a home within Fall Church City that is less than $450,000

Ask us for more information about how this program stacks up to others on offer in the area, or a recommendation on getting started in your search or working with a lender.

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Under Contract- 2811 New Providence Ct

Listed and Under Contract in less than a week! We received 4 offers on this property, and strong contract terms.

This lovely two bedroom, two bathroom townhouse was updated top to bottom, and boasts updates throughout. We made recommendations to the owner regarding updates to get the house ready for the market, and staging options.

Remodeled three level townhouse with two bedrooms and two full baths located in a Lakeside Community. Gourmet kitchen updated with granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances.
Inviting dining room is open to the kitchen and lower level living room and overlooks the mature trees in the back yard. The open floor plan features beautiful Brazilian cherry hardwood floors on the main level and a two-story living room. Both bathrooms have been renovated with tile flooring and updated fixtures. Large master bedroom overlooks tree preserve and features a large closet and built-in vanity. The second bedroom has spacious double closets with tons of storage.
The fully finished walk-out lower level features an open living room with a sliding glass door and a separate laundry and utility room with plenty of storage.
The private patio is open to the walking/jogging paths that lead to the lake.
The community features walking/jogging paths, pool and tennis courts.
You will be just minutes from shopping, dining and entertainment.
This home is easily accessible to 495, Rt. 50, 66 and bus lines.

Sales in the Lakeford Community ranged from $350K-$399K depending on the size, number of bedrooms, updates and location of the property. This area is ideal, given the proximity minutes to 495, 29 and in between Vienna metro and East Falls Church metro. This home was listed for $375,000. Contact us for more details on this home, or to find out what your home is worth

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SOLD: 6020 Hardwick Place

We just sold this stunning townhouse at 6020 Hardwick Place in Falls Church.

Open and inviting living/dining room with newly refinished hardwood floors, crown molding, and cozy fireplace.
Separate dining area off kitchen and open to living area.
Updated kitchen with granite counter tops, new cabinets and stainless steel appliances. Large window in kitchen, with great natural light. Half bath off entryway hallway with pedestal sink. Upper level with three bedrooms and two full bathrooms. Updated master bath with vanity and standing shower and second bathroom has full shower/tub. Spacious lower level with TV/recreational room, mounted TV will convey. Walkout to fully fenced rear yard. Separate utility room with plenty of storage space. Fantastic patio and outdoor entertaining space! Plenty of room for grilling, patio furniture, and LARGE rear fenced yard! Unassigned parking, and plenty of nearby visitors parking. Installed new 5″ gutters and down spouts in July 2011 with lifetime warranty. Replaced all windows with Simonton 5500 series and front door and storm door both come with a transferable lifetime warranty for all parts and labor. HVAC system was replaced in 2009.

Community Amenities:
-No HOA fee, but well maintained community! Bluemont Park with jogging/walking paths and tennis courts. Ideal location minutes to Seven Corners/Baileys Crossroads!

Nearby shopping includes: Target, Giant, Trader Joe’s, REI, BJ’s, Best Buy, Petsmart and more! Perfect for commuters, with quick access to 395 and Route 7. 11 Minutes to Ballston Metro (Orange Line). Nearby Metro bus to King Street Metro (Yellow Line). Only 20 minutes to Reagan National Airport.

We received 8 offers, and more buyers are out looking!

Contact us today for into on your neighborhood.

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When is the best time to sell my house?

Sellers always want to know: “When is the best time to sell my home?”. Many automatically think that spring is the best time: after winter is officially over, when their yards look the best, and as kids are finishing their school year. Surprisingly, putting your home on the market in the winter, specifically from January to March is more advantageous. According to a study by Redfin, this theory was confirmed. In their research, they tracked list to sales price, and days on market from October 2010 to December 2014 across several real estate markets. After analyzing four years of research, Redfin concluded that winter months offered sellers: higher percentage of “above asking” sales prices, less competition with other homes and more serious buyers than other times of the year. Along with potentially higher prices, homes were also on the market less time than other points during the year.

Redfin’s study also concluded that if sellers want to get more than their asking price, they have a better odds listing their home in December through March, compared to June through November. The reason for this, is simply competition and inventory available to buyers. When more housing options are available through the summer and fall months, buyers can choose between a number of homes. While some markets may differ, housing markets across the country saw better sales prices, in early months, compared to later in the year. Additional info on the Redfin study can be found here: Best time to list?

Although each individual seller’s situation and home is different, if you would like to know more about the best time to sell your house, contact us today for more details.

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Just Listed: 307 N Barton St

New this week in Arlington: our listing on 307 N Barton St!

This home is located in the desirable Lyon Park neighborhood, and features 4 bedrooms, 3.5 bath, open and inviting floor plan and plenty of living space. This home has story book charm, but also modern updates to include: gleaming hardwood floors, gourmet kitchen with granite counters and stainless appliances and breakfast bar, as well as updated bathrooms. Peaceful master bedroom on the main level with a large walk in closet. Cozy family room off kitchen with French doors to relaxing back porch and fenced yard with patio. Spacious lower level with recreation room, two bedrooms with attached bathrooms, separate laundry and additional storage.

Lyon Park, just a short distance from Clarendon, is one of North Arlington’s most exclusive places to live. An extremely walkable neighborhood, Lyon Park is home to numerous shops and restaurants including Whole Foods, Circa, Pottery Barn and Spark Yoga just to name a few. The 300-acre neighborhood, bounded by Arlington Boulevard on two sides, North Irving and North 10th Street, has a population of just over 5,000 residents. The Lyon Park Community Center holds up to 150 people and can be used for receptions, dinners and parties. The community center and park are owned by Lyon Park Citizens, and is the only private park open to the public. Many of the homes located here are from the 1920’s and 1930’s interspersed with new construction making for an architecturally unique neighborhood boasting with charm.

The home is also perfect location for quick access to Washington DC, The Pentagon, Ft Meyer, Henderson Hall, Crystal City and Alexandria. A short 5 minute drive to Clarendon Metro, and minutes away from Route 50, 66, and 395.

This home is listed for $769,900. Looking at sales for the year, the average list price for comparable Bungalows of with similar number of bedrooms and square feet in Lyon Park is around $760K, with the list to sale price about 98% and higher. Additionally, the average days on market is around 11.

Contact us today, for a provate showing or more details.

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Renting Vs. Buying In The Washington, DC Area

We often find that incoming clients are on the fence about buying or renting in the area. The DC area is a very transient one, and many people find themselves packing up to leave just as quickly as they arrived. The decision of whether to rent or buy is a difficult one; renting is essentially hassle free, but without the possibility of appreciation and no tax benefits.  Consider this: DC and the surrounding area average a 34% higher rental rate than a comparable mortgage. So if you find yourself loving a home for rent at $2,000/month, that same home sold to you and financed through a typical mortgage would be only $1,300-1,500/month! Here is a great Rent vs. Buy Calculator to start determining what would work best for you!

 
The Washington, DC, region is one of the strongest housing markets in the country, and as such you can typically expect your break even horizon to be 4 to 5 years.  Why is this important to you? Over the course of a standard 2 to 3 year lease, with a monthly budget of $2000, you will have spent anywhere from $55,000 to $85,000 in total rent and utilities. This money might be better used to build equity and then either sell for a profit or use as a rental investment property. We can help you think through the decision of renting vs. buying, and then to find the best home to reach your financial goals. Contact us for a no obligation consultation!

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Free Money Monday: Fairfax County First Time Home Buyer Program

Fairfax County has a program that offers first time home buyers affordable townhomes, and condominiums – both new and resale. This program is a part of the Affordable Dwelling Unit Program (ADU) and is offered directly through area builders or current owners at a drastically reduced market rate ranging from $70,000-$160,000.  The communities are located throughout the county and offer many of the same amenities as you would find in your standard local neighborhood. For details on income restrictions, eligibility, and how to apply; contact us today.

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Let’s Talk Loans: Conforming Conventional Loans

Many clients are frequently baffled about where to begin the financing process and what they should be looking for in a mortgage. With so many changes over the years, it’s hard to keep up! We decided to simply and effectively lay out the most common loans and their general guidelines over the coming weeks as part of a series “Let’s Talk Loans”.

Conforming Conventional Loans

What is it? “Conforming” loans are the most common loans in the marketplace, and meet the required standards of both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (that is, they “conform” to Fannie and Freddie rules), both of which purchase loans from lenders and then package them up to sell on the secondary market. This allows lenders to receive cash up front for you loan, so they can lend to someone else.  Conforming loans can be fixed rate or adjustable rate, and can be 15 year or 30 year.

Why is that important? Investors buy these packaged loans from Fannie and Freddie.  Fannie and Freddie charge a guarantee fee, which is approximately 0.5% more than your interest rate.  Some banks, however, keep these loans in their own portfolio rather than sell them, depending on the market and their own investment objectives.

What are the guidelines? Typically, you need at least a 5% down payment, and good credit.  The conforming loan limit is generally 417,000; however, in more expensive markets of the country, including the DC Metro area, high-value conforming loans up to $625,500 can be found.  But be prepared to have a 10%-20% down payment for these larger loans.  And without 20% down, you can expect to pay private mortgage insurance, as well.

Next Up:  Let’s Talk Loans: FHA

To find out more, or to speak with a home loan expert, contact us!

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Preparing to Buy a Home

Buying a home in 2013? If so, here are some tips for preparing to buy a home.

Save your cash. You’re going to need it for your down payment and closing costs. Save at least 3% of the purchase price to put toward closing costs, even if you’re asking the sellers to chip in. The lower the price of the home, the higher the percentage you should save. For your down payment, you’ll need at least 3.5% for an FHA loan, and for a conventional loan, you’ll want at least 10% down. If you can put 20% or more down, that’s even better and will go a long way toward getting you the best rates and terms from your lender. To help you save, consider setting up a separate “home” savings account into which you make regular deposits with each paycheck and from which you make no withdraws. Ever.

Do your research. Part of preparing to buy a home is research, research, research. By the time you’re ready to get in the car and start looking at homes, you should have logged hours of internet research. From financing to home prices and from neighborhoods to local real estate agents, you’ll need to learn about all of it. By being informed, the process will be more manageable and won’t seem so intimidating.

Check your credit. Go to AnnualCreditReport.com to get your free credit report from all three credit bureaus. You can’t get a free score from the site, but you can at least check the information that’s in their files and ensure it’s correct. If there are errors, get them fixed BEFORE you apply for a mortgage as it can sometimes take a while to get things straightened out. Also, now is NOT the time to open new accounts, close old ones, or to make any large purchases (cars, boats, furniture, etc).

Check your budget. Now IS the time to crunch numbers and see where you stand financially. It’s important to know how much money you have coming in and going out each month. This will help you set a target for your mortgage payment so you don’t overextend yourself financially.

Talk to a Realtor and a lender. If you don’t know any real estate agents, you can start by asking friends, relatives, and colleagues for recommendations. You can also search online. A couple of sites provide reviews of agents in your area. Start by looking at Zillow and Yelp. Trulia is also helpful. Talk to several agents and set up a meeting. You want to be compatible with the agent you choose. After all, you’ll be spending a lot of time together while you’re looking for a home. To get a feel for how we can help you buy your new home, come to our first-time home buyer’s class, being held Tuesday, January 29th at 7pm. We’ll walk you through the home-buying process and give you an overview of current market conditions. This no-obligation class is FREE, and you can register here.

Once you choose an agent, they can provide recommendations for a lender. Talk to several lenders and shop for the best rates and loan terms.

Preparing to buy a home is a lot of work. Contact us to help you get started!

 

 

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