Just Listed 15602 Habitat Ct

We just listed this stunning home in Cardinal Grove neighborhood of Woodbridge. This is a newly constructed community, and the house is less than a year old. This home offers all the amenities of new construction, without the additional cost of upgrades or the wait time!

Stunning brick front home, on quiet cul-de-sac! This home was built in 2015, and is less than a year old. The home features updates throughout, as well as an open concept floor plan! Enter through the two story foyer with gleaming hardwood floors, 9ft+ ceilings, and recessed lights throughout. Inviting stone fireplace in family room is the perfect place to relax and entertain. The family room opens to the gourmet kitchen with a large center island and breakfast bar. The kitchen features stainless steel appliances, custom tile back splash, under cabinet lighting, glass cabinets, walk-in pantry and attached breakfast room. There is an additional dining room, living room and main level bedroom or office. Custom iron work on the stairs to the upper level. Luxurious Master Suite featuring a tray ceiling, separate sitting area and double walk-in closets. Spa-like Master Bath has jetted soaking tub, separate walk-in shower, ceramic tiles and dual sink vanities. The upper level also features, three bedrooms, one full bath and laundry room. Entertain or relax in your lower level retreat with custom wet-bar and theater room. The 6th bedroom on the lower level has an attached full bathroom with ceramic tile. There is a double door walk-up from the basement to the yard. Open and private backyard with custom trek deck. Other amenities include high efficiency systems, builder warranty and Guardian Security system. This home has all the updates you are looking for, with over 5000 square feet of living space!

This home is listed for $699K, and has all the upgrades included. Contact us today for a private showing.

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Building a Home: Construction Financing

So you’ve decided to purchase a new-construction home. This series of posts will detail the process from start to finish, and hopefully give you a good idea of what to expect throughout the process. In part one, we’ll look at how to get started by securing construction financing and what to expect from the lender.

Financing New Construction

The first thing you should do before embarking on the journey of building a home is to secure financing. Actually, this is true no matter what type of home you’re buying, be it resale or new construction. You need to know how much house you can afford.

You’ll need to shop for lenders. Compare rates and loan terms. Construction loans sometimes have a higher interest rate than a traditional resale mortgage. During construction you may be paying a bit more in interest, but when the project is finished, the construction loan will convert to a long-term note and you should be able to get a lower rate going forward.

Be aware of the time limit on the construction loan. If the loan term is for nine months, be sure the builder can complete construction in that time, or you’ll likely be paying penalties every month that construction drags on (this happened to a member of our team). The penalty will vary from lender to lender, so it’s important to ask about this when shopping around.

Construction financing differs from a mortgage used to buy a resale home in other ways, as well. For starters, the bank has to approve your builder. Some of the larger builders will already be approved by multiple banks, or they may have an in-house or affiliated lender that offers incentives to use them. You might get some discounts if you go with an affiliated lender, and sometimes this is the most cost-effective way to go. But don’t be afraid to comparison shop. Building a home is a huge undertaking, and you want to be diligent every step of the way.

If you go with a smaller builder, then the bank will likely need to check out the company finances before they will give the go-ahead to your project. This protects both you and the lender, and any reputable builder will be happy to provide the necessary paperwork to gain approval. If a builder balks at this, this should raise red flags. The last thing you need is for a builder to go belly up in the middle of building your home.

Another difference with construction loans: The bank holds onto the money and makes payments to the builder in installments, called draws. Before the bank will release a draw to the builder, an inspection will be scheduled to make sure work on the house is progressing in a timely manner and the work is up to par. Some banks require the borrowers’ permission to release the funds. If possible, go to the house yourself to check and make sure the work that has been done is what is in the contract. If there’s a problem, notify the builder and the bank immediately. And consult an attorney before withholding payment.

As with all financing, do your research. Ask questions about the process, fees, terms, etc, so you don’t wind up surprised at any point during the process. Building a home can be stressful, but some of that stress can be reduced if you understand what you’re getting into, starting with the construction financing.

Questions about building a home or financing? Contact us! We’ll be happy to help.

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Building a Home: Quick Overview

Recently, a member of our team went through the process of building a new home. In another state. Overseeing construction of a new home is a lot of work, and doing it from afar presented some additional challenges. This series of posts will highlight the process from start to finish and hopefully help our readers make informed decisions should they decide to purchase new construction. For now, here’s a quick look at the overall process. In upcoming posts, we’ll delve into greater detail for each of these steps!

  • Secure financing
  • Choose your home site
  • Choose your builder
  • Decide on the design and upgrades
  • Breaking Ground
  • Framing
  • Electrical and Plumbing Walk-Through Inspections
  • Drywall and Insulation
  • Flooring
  • Fixtures and Appliances
  • Utility Hook-ups
  • Punch List
  • Final Inspections
  • Certificate of Occupancy

If you’re thinking of building a new home, please contact us! We’ll be happy to guide you through the entire process.

 

 

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Giving a Facelift to a Dated Exterior

While Arlington is a fantastic place to live, there are many neighborhoods built in a time when…well let’s just say it wasn’t necessarily architecture’s finest moment.  Don’t overlook some of these hidden gems though — with a little creativity, and the right contractor, your dream home could be right in front of your eyes.  Take a look at this transformation on a North Arlington home similar to one pictured at left.

After!

Hard to believe, isn’t it?  But look closely and you’ll see the remains of the original home. On the main level, the owners added a welcoming front porch, and swapped the window out for a bay window.  Then they “popped the top” and added a second floor, and extended the chimney up.   Then they painted the brick and trim for an entirely new look!

After - Bump Out View

Obviously adding a second floor provides a lot more square footage to the house, but the existing floorplans on a lot of these older homes don’t allow for the circular flow and open floorplan that most of today’s homeowners love…unless you also do a “bump out” like these owners did, which you can see clearly in this side view photo.

But be warned, Arlington has very strict lot coverage rules so if you’re intending to do a large scale renovation like this, do your homework before you sink too much money into the process.

Obviously a transformation like this one doesn’t come cheap or easy, but if you can pick up a house in a great location for the right price, you can throw in a creative eye, some patience, and a great contractor and have the home of your dreams!

For recommendations on great contractors, or to get started finding your own hidden gem in Arlington, contact me!

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Unique Risks in Buying New Construction Condos

There are risks in any real estate transaction, but buying new construction has several unique ones:

1) Contract Risk – builders use their own contract and rarely (if ever) allow changes. Obviously the contract is written in the builder’s favor, but how will you know which terms are commonplace in the local market and which are uniquely theirs?

2) Financing Risk – If the building isn’t ready to be delivered yet, the buyer assumes any financing risk between contract date and delivery. If interest rates double between now and then, for example, it’s the buyer’s problem. Similarly, any change in the buyer’s status (e.g., job loss) is rarely accepted as a reason to get out of the contract. Best case is that you lose your deposit and walk away.

3) Delivery Risk – Again, with buildings that aren’t complete, builders write in a clause that give them a specific time frame-often 2 years in this area-in which they can deliver late with NO consequences. If a buyer’s lease is up or they have no place to go, that’s the buyer’s issue. It also adds to the Financing Risk (see #2)

4) Sales Risk Part A – If the builder doesn’t sell out, then it’s nearly impossible for a resale owner to price competitively. Consider the math–a buyer purchases, and has to mark it up to cover their own sales costs. How will a resale ever compete with a builder that doesn’t have that markup?

5) Sales Risk Part B – If a builder doesn’t sell out, and money is getting short, they may decide to “repartment” the building – that is, convert partially to apartments. That’s a bad situation for owners (who now have tenants in their building) as well as for re-sellers (who would buy in a building when they can rent for much less in the very same building?)

6) Fees – Not really a risk so much as an FYI. Don’t get too excited about that huge closing cost credit with use of “preferred lender and settlement attorney.” They’re “preferred” because the fees are higher in the first place. Know what a reasonable fee is so you can make an informed decision.

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Parkside Alexandria

Here’s an interesting new twist for builders trying to liquidate inventory: the live auction. Parkside Alexandria, a condo community on Van Dorn St, is selling 30 condos with a minimum bid of $225K for a 2BR/1.5BA unit. There certainly aren’t too many 2BR units inside the beltway for that price. There are some catches, of course – you must register by 10/23, sign the contract on the spot if you win, bring $5000 with you, and close before Nov 27, among other things. More details are here. Of course there are also the usual risks inherent to new construction. Contact me to discuss more on these.

One quick note of warning — if you intend to use a real estate agent to advise you and help review the contract(at no additional cost to you), make sure your agent is with you when you register or the builder will not allow you to be represented.

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22 Condo Projects Canceled? Come on, now…get serious.

Let’s get serious. Here’s another “the sky is falling” example from the press. Today’s Post has a good article on some condo projects that have been canceled, and how that situation leaves buyers in the lurch. Sure they get a refund, but no place to live, and no compensation for their efforts. (A good warning on the risks of buying new construction.)

Delta Associates is quoted in the article saying that developers had canceled plans for 22 projects in the 2nd quarter alone! Really…22?! I just don’t buy it…unless they’re using “plans” pretty loosely. (As an aside, it’s not a bad thing that condo projects get cancelled–it keeps inventory reasonable and supports prices.)

I’ve been hearing about these conversions back to apts for a year or more. And the same developments are always mentioned: the Joule in Arlington, View 14 in DC, the Bellmeade in Leesburg (Leesburg? That’s a VERY different market than Arlington or DC), Four Winds at Oakton, and a few others. Those conversions happened months and months ago. So where are the 22 from THIS QUARTER? Someone please find this list so we can map them out. I’ll bet they’re further away than this article would leave you to believe. And what counts as a “planned” development? My guess is most of these “plans” are on paper–units were years away from delivery anyway. We’ll never see that list in the Post though, because alarmist headlines sell more papers.

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Builder Permit Drop: If this is bad, then what counts as GOOD?

Real estate articles in the Post often drive me batty. Take an article in today’s paper with this headline:

“Builders’ Permit Requests Tumble; Drop Seen as Bad Sign for Housing”

The article goes on to describe that permits for future construction dropped by the largest amount in 17 years, and that this is yet another indicator that the five-year boom ended last year. Really? Duh. Anyone who has looked around their neighborhoods at the For Sale signs in the last year can see that. What I think they missed in this article is that rather than this being a BAD sign for housing, this is actually a GOOD sign. Maybe even a GREAT one. It means that the builders recognize that the pace of building was unsustainable, and that inventory flooded the market. Permits is obviously a leading indicator of deliveries, so now we can expect a drop in deliveries later this year and into next. How can anyone argue that fewer houses being delivered is a BAD thing in this market? It means the market will be coming back into a more reasonable balance between available inventory and buyers. But, as we all know, bad news sells papers, so any available statistic gets spun as “bad news.” I’d be willing to bet that if permits went UP, then the headline would have been something like “Builder Permits Increase; Flood of Inventory Expected to Worsen Housing Market’s Woes”

Once again, I have to advise that if you’re looking to buy a home (not an investment property–that’s a whole other post), then you have to look at your individual situation, talk to a Realtor, and run the numbers yourself. Don’t let the press–which is certainly a LAGGING indicator–overly influence your decisions.

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