The Wethman Group’s Real Estate News – September 2017

September 2017

Greetings!

As summer winds to a close we are seeing some changes in the market, but it is too soon to tell if this is part of a seasonal cooling or a bigger emerging trend. The year-over-year July median price in our area inched up 1% from last July, but was down 3% (just over $15,000) from last month’s record median price. July new pending sales were down 3% from last year’s record July high, and down 14% from last month. Houses are sitting on the market a bit longer, with average Days on Market (DOM) up 2 days from June. Our team has seen some great listings of our own sellers sit longer than anticipated, even when priced competitively, and in great showing condition. Is this the beginning of a tip in the favor of buyers? Time will tell and we’ll keep you informed.
Inventory is still low, with July marking the 15th straight month of month-over-month declines in active inventory. New listings were in line with previous July averages, but were quickly absorbed by buyers. New listings are actually up 1.5% year to date over last year, but increased buyer activity earlier in the season accounted for the continued decline in active inventory.
As always, these are general trends. We are seeing more variation among neighborhoods and price bands. Contact us for specific data by zip code or price point to strategize your best approach.
There is still time to think about selling this year! Our area experiences another flurry of activity between September and the beginning of October, so if you are on the fence, it is time to move. Not able to move that fast? It is never too early to start planning for spring of next year. If you’ve been considering a change, let us work with you on the best strategy to make the most of the current market conditions.
In the News
Fannie Mae joined Freddie Mac in announcing this week that appraisals will no longer be required on certain properties with low Loan to Value ratios, saving buyers (and lenders) both time and money. The majority of loans will be unaffected, but if the property is in a hot area, likely to hold or appreciate in value, and the buyer is putting down a large down payment, a waiver of the appraisal could save the buyer $500 in fees and potentially 10 days in closing time.
VOTE FOR US: Best of Arlington
Voting for Arlington Magazine’s Best of  Arlington survey is open and we’d love your vote for Best Real Estate Agent. Go to vote.wethmangroup.comand write in Katie Wethman. A vote for Katie is a vote for the entire Wethman Group team! Choose winners in at least 5 categories, and include your name, address (no requirement that you live in the area), and email for your vote to count. Your support means the world to us!
Love us? Review us! Your reviews drive our business. To show our appreciation, if you share your experience online at Yelp, Zillow, Angie’s List, or on Facebook, and you will be entered into a quarterly drawing for a $100 gift card. Plus, you will instantly receive our deepest gratitude!
As always, if you or someone you know has a real estate need please reach out. We’re here to help!
The Wethman Group
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UNDER CONTRACT: 2723 Hemlock Ave

Just Listed- Charming Cap Code in desirable Del Ray Neighborhood. The house has been renovated TOP to BOTTOM and features a number of upgrades to include:

Completely remodeled kitchen (2015) with new cabinets, granite counter and stainless steel appliances. Gleaming hardwood flooring throughout main level with inviting living room with wood burning fireplace.Two bedrooms located on the main level with a renovated bathroom with shower/tub combo.
Upstairs (loft, in law suite, 3rd bedroom) with huge closet, and brand new bathroom (custom tile, new vanity, toilet and curved glass shower door)
Lower level: spacious recreation room with access to back yard. 4th bedroom with en-suite full bathroom and large closet. (Bathroom is completely re-done). Large utility room/work shop with plenty additional space for storage. Walk out from the basement to a beautiful brand new patio, perfect for gathering and entertainment. Parking pad out front. Open rear fenced yard!

Community Amenities Include:
Ideal location! Close to many of Del Ray’s restaurants and shopping, Mt. Vernon’s Recreational Center & James M Duncan library.
Less than 2 miles to Braddock Metro Station & Potomac Yard Center which includes Target, Staples, Petsmart, BestBuy, Regal Cinemas, Barnes and Noble as well as many other stores and restaurants.

This community has a range of sales prices from mid $600K’s to over $1.5M, depending on size, amenities and location in the community. Similar homes to 2723 Hemlock Ave, have sold for $675K to $720K, with differences based on upgrades in the home, size of lot, and yard space. 2723 Hemlock is listed for $695K.

Contact us for more details!

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Sold: 9201 Sudbury Rd

9201 Sudbury Rd was was listed and under contract within a week!

This stately three level, brick home on quiet tree lined Highland View neighborhood. The home is located on corner “lot and a half”, and features four bedrooms, two and half bathrooms with over 2000+ square feet of living space on all three levels. Open and inviting floor plan, with newly refinished hardwood floors and fresh paint throughout. Living room with fireplace, and built in bookshelves. Step up to elegant dining room with plenty of space for larger table, and view out to back yard.Gleaming hardwood floors have been recently refinished, and fresh paint throughout. Main level master bedroom off dining room, with two closets and plenty of built in cabinets. Full bath off hallway has been renovated to included updated vanity, counter top, and standing shower. Stunning kitchen with updated custom cabinets, granite counters and newer appliances. Enclosed screen porch off living room offers additional space for entertaining. The upper level boasts three full bedrooms, and a full bathroom. Spacious first bedroom with custom closet. Second and third bedrooms with hardwood floors, overlooking back yard. Upper level bathroom with updated vanity, counter top, tile floor and jetted tub. Pull down stairs to attic for even more storage. The lower level features a spacious recreation/media room, with a half bathroom. Additional, laundry/utility area with plenty additional room for storage. Walk up stairs to side patio and huge backyard. Fully fenced back yard, and rare lot and a half.

This home is a wonderful neighborhood in Silver Spring, just minutes to Long Branch Park, Sligo Park. Five minutes driving to I-495, ten minute drive Silver Spring Metro, and Marc Train, Short commute to 95, 295 (BW Parkway), downtown DC and Virginia. Less than a mile to Giant shopping center.

Sales in Highland View range from $350K- $500K for single family homes. There are a mixture of home sizes/styles in this neighborhood, ranging from smaller rancher or cap cods to larger colonial homes. Many of the homes were built in the 1950’s. The average sales price in this neighborhood is $437K, with 45 days on the market. We listed this home for $474,900 and it sold for $485,000 with $13,000 in seller subsidy (or net price of $472,000).

To prepare this home for sale, we encouraged the sellers to make specific renovations that appeal to most buyers (ie paint and flooring), and to have the home staged since it was vacant. Our recommendations worked, as we had a very strong offer, only days after going on the market.

Contact us today for more details about this home, or how to sell your home for top dollar!

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Estate Sales

Did you just inherited a property, or are you helping a family member of friend with an estate sale

Photo: Canterbury Estates Llc

 

Whether you are looking for step by step guidance, or just an overview of the current market conditions, we can help you! Without the proper professional guidance, residential estate sales can require some tricky maneuvering. Our DC, VA, and MD licensed team is ready to help make this process as easy as possible for you and your loved ones. Below are some basic steps to take to help you through the process:

Step 1: Hire a Real Estate team with experience in estate sales. Our team has helped a number of sellers with estate sales, and can help guide you through the process. You may also need to hire a qualified Trusts and Estates Attorney. Together your team will help you to sort through any legal documents, determine all pre-sale requisites, and help you to maximize the home’s sale price through proper marketing avenues.
Step 2: Determine who is the authorized party to sell the residential property. The authorized party (or executor) could be a family member, group of family members, friends, or pre-determined advisor. Before selling the property, the entire authorized party must be in agreement with the proposed selling plans.
Step 3: Determine if the property is a probate or non-probate asset. Probate assets are defined as assets that are solely in the decedent’s name and are required to be collected by court appointed fiduciary, who will then distribute the assets in accordance with the terms of the will. Non-probate assets are items that are not collected or sold by a court appointed fiduciary. In these cases, the surviving joint tenant has the power to collect or sell the property as the new owner.
Step 4: Be sure to have the proper legal documents in order, before starting the residential estate sale process. Some of the documents that your Real Estate agent and legal team may need you to gather include:
Original death certificate – proof that the original owner has passed away, thus allowing the executor to claim ownership of the property.
Copy of Will – proof of the executor(s) and their right to sell the property.
Copy of Codicil – proof of any exceptions or amendments to the will.

Photo: Geeks Buy Houses

 

Conducting a residential estate sale in DC, VA, or MD can be a much easier process when you hire a knowledgeable team that follows the above steps. To learn more about our Real Estate services and our specialty in estate sales, please contact us today! Besides providing a wealth of Real Estate knowledge, our team also offers home staging services and access to the best contractors for any property renovations and repairs that need to be completed before the sale. We look forward to answering any of your questions and helping you throughout the estate sale process.

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SOLD! 305 Marshalls Venture

We are thrilled that our listing in Accokeek, MD finally settled this past week. This was an important sale for us, because we took it over from another agent, and it was also a referral from past clients. This home was on the market for over three months, before we took over the listing. We encouraged the sellers to stage the home, and then retook new photos afterward to refresh the listing and attract new buyers that may have over looked the home previously. After going back on the market, we had an increase in showings, and we were able to secure a contract  after diligent follow up with the buyer agent. The house listed by our team for around 40 days before receiving a contract.

In addition to selling their home in MD, we also helped these client purchase their new home in Virginia, through a coinciding settlement. While these types of transactions can be very tricky, juggling the sale of one home and purchase of another, let alone in different states, we worked closely with the clients to keep them updated every step of the way.  This sale also reminded us the importance of working with an experienced lender, and how critical “effective” communication is between agents and all parties in the transaction.

Marshalls Venture sold for $330,000 with seller subsidy. This was a new home, only four years old, but did have some challenges to include: only three bedrooms on upper level, and an unfinished basement. The home did have an open floor plan, bright sunroom off kitchen and was position on one of the larger lot (.46 acres) and backed to trees for added privacy.  Other homes in the nearby by have sold for $315,000-$399,000+ depending on their size, condition and amenities.

To learn more about coinciding settlements, or buying and selling in different states, please contact us for more information.

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Review of the Wethman Group

We here at the Wethman Group are so lucky to work with wonderful clients.  In fact, over 60% of our business since 2010 has been referrals from past clients and friends.  We strive to make every transaction smooth and constantly troubleshoot potential issues.  We’re grateful for our clients and the referrals they send us.  Here are some recent client reviews on Zillow:

I met Katie through her first time home buyers classes. I was impressed that someone will take from their free time to share her knowledge with people that may or may not be her clients. Some months later we met for coffee and I explained to Katie what I wanted. We also discussed if she and I were a good match. We were. Katie is extremely diligent and returns all your calls and emails in a timely manner. Being a first time home buyer I was very confused and overloaded with information. Katie held my hand along the process and explain all the very different aspects of the home buying process that I had to be aware of until they became clear. One of my favorite things about the way Katie works is that I was able to review and sign documents electronically. If there was a question in a critical part of the process, Katie explained this process through videos on her Youtube channel. After closing, we still keep in touch and she will definitely be my realtor when when I decide to move to bigger quarters. Highly recommended!!!!

As first-time homebuyers, we appreciated Katie’s expertise and the Wethman Group’s resources for guiding us through the process. We purchased a semi-detached home in Arlington in 2011. Katie’s knowledge of the local market (a unique market!) is unparalleled. In addition to being responsive regarding the property and contract negotiations, Katie’s understanding of the financial commitment involved and the settlement process was a key reason we would highly recommend her to others.

Katie and her team know this complicated process inside and out, and they utilize the tools that make it easy for busy families to navigate it all easily. Additionally, her recommendations for related services (inspection, moving, remodeling, etc.) were right on the money. Total package with the Wethman Group! Thank you, Katie!

We’d like to make your home buying or home selling experience a great one, too.  Contact us to hear more about us and how we work hard for you!

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I Am An Iceberg

A few weeks ago I was in New Orleans for a real estate conference.  The Northern Virginia real estate market, however, missed the memo that I would be out of town, and so homes came on the market, deals were negotiated, and clients went under contract despite my absence. Luckily I can work from just about anywhere as long as I have internet access and a cell phone. And so I found myself sitting in the Houston airport, waiting for my connecting flight home, working out details on a few different transactions.

On one, we had to arrange for a well and septic inspection on short notice for a client who was relocating to the Northern Virginia area. Ever try to arrange a septic inspection with a over a foot of snow still on the ground?  Not very straightforward.  Our team hit the phones.

On another, there was a problem with a buyer client’s appraisal — the value was acceptable but underwriting was overruling the value and declining the loan anyway.  A real problem for our client, who wanted the condo and had already given notice on her apartment. I combed through my list of lenders looking for options.

There were a half dozen other phone calls about topics I can’t even remember. Nothing extraordinary.  Just part of the list of a hundred things that an agent manages between contract and close. There were calls to our team’s client care manager, calls to my partner, calls to an inspector, to several lenders, and then back through another round of calls to coordinate what we had each learned, and finally two 30 second voicemails to clients with the conclusions that it had taken three of us an hour to research.

Finally my flight was boarding and I packed up my electronic paraphernalia.  A woman had been working across from me for most of the hour said to me as I got up: “I have a whole new respect for real estate agents after listening to you for the past hour.”

I laughed and mumbled something about ‘all in a day’s work’ and we boarded the plane. And it occurred to me that she had a rare glimpse into the 90% of the workload that our clients don’t see. They see the 10%: the opening of lockboxes, the filling in of blanks in an offer, and me sitting next to them at the settlement table. The tip of the iceberg.

But 90% of an iceberg is underwater and never seen. That’s the 90% that really counts in real estate. The 90% that knows how to work a network to find a loan that will help a client get that condo when the original lender backs out and now it’s a ‘problem loan’; that knows who to call to get a last minute inspection to beat a deadline that an unreasonable seller demanded following a blizzard; that can get a real estate attorney on the phone at 8:00 at night because our response is due by 9:00 and there’s an issue; that knows how to amend the contract to protect our client’s deposit in case a deadline can’t be met. You want an agent that knows the parts that you don’t see — the other 90% of the business.

So I’ve concluded that a good real estate agent is very much like an iceberg. Our clients see the 10%, but a good team knows the other 90% that is behind the scenes, and that’s the part that makes the transaction seamless.

If you want to work with a team that understands the complexity of today’s real estate market, please contact us. We’d love to talk to you about our approach to real estate.

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How Do I Start My Home Search?

If you read my recent post “Why I May Not Be Able to Represent You” then you know that it’s imperative that you choose an agent early in your home search process. But what happens when you meet with an agent for the first time?

Everyone is different of course, but here is a general idea of how many of my first meetings with clients go. Typically, we’ll spend about an hour to go over the basics:

1) Go over the home purchase process.

2) Get an idea of needs vs. wants (i.e., ‘must haves’) – Bring any listings that you are already interested in.

3) Discuss neighborhoods, what you get for the money, etc.

4) Discuss the financing process. Before we go out to look at properties, you will need to be pre-approved by a lender. If you have already spoken with a lender by this point, bring your Good Faith Estimate(s) and I will go over some key points on them.

We’ll also briefly discuss buyer agency agreements, and our mutual obligations.

Depending on the situation, we may even go out to tour properties following this initial meeting. If not, then we’ll work together to identify some properties that might fit your needs. If/when we have a few properties (about 6-8) that you wish to view, we’ll set up a block of time that we can go see them.

I find that most buyers need to see 8-10 properties (through a combination of open houses and agent tours) in a given neighborhood before they have a good idea of what they like and what they get for the money. Typically during our first few weeks working together we get you “caught up” to homes that are already on the market. Following that, it’s easy to keep up to date and see what’s new via open houses and brief (1-3 property) tours.

The search process may take longer than you think, though it varies widely by person. The search process itself takes anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. I’ve had buyers make an offer after just one or two days of looking–it’s part focus, part preparation, and part luck.

From contract to settlement (for loan processing, appraisal, home inspections, etc.) then takes 30-60 days additional. You should count on at least 3 months from start to finish.

Shoot me an email today if you’d like to discuss starting your search!

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How do you know if your listing agent is doing a good job?

I was out showing homes this weekend and I went to a community to see 3 townhouses on the same street. I reviewed the showing instructions. The first house had instructions to call a showing service, which I did, to receive the combination to the lockbox. (As an aside I HATE combo lockboxes…it’s such a disservice to the seller…there’s no record of who came by and when, and no way to tell how many people have the combination. But I digress.) The other two were labeled ‘show anytime, electronic lockbox’. I dutifully took my buyer—who, by the way, is pre-approved and ready to write an offer as soon as she sees something she likes—only to find that the two ‘electronic’ lockboxes were actually combination lockboxes. No combination listed in the MLS printout. I called both agents and got voicemail. We walked around the community for a few minutes, then left. Later that day I got a call from one of the agents with the combination. I never did hear from the second. And my client? She decided to buy somewhere else.

It’s really too bad that there isn’t a standard level of service provided to—and expected by—sellers. Here is a short list of questions to ask and ways to check up on your quality of service:

  1. Does your property have multiple pictures in the MLS? Have you looked at them? Too many times I see a picture taken with a point-and-shoot that is really a picture of the furniture rather than the room. You can’t get wide enough angles from a run-of-the-mill camera. Buyers DEMAND pictures. I work with a LOT of buyers, and they assume that something is wrong with the property if there are no pictures.
  2. Is there an electronic lockbox (this is for the seller’s safety)? Does it open properly (Ask your agent to check periodically…I tried to show one last week and the box wasn’t working so we weren’t able to get the keys.) Are there keys in it? (Yes, I’ve had this happen, too, when trying to show a property to a buyer.)
  3. Web Site – Does your property have its own website (e.g., www.1225NStreet.com) These sites aren’t for search engine ranking, but rather for your marketing materials—the brochures, the open house ads, the signs. Buyers want as much information as possible. Buyers DO look at these sites (my listings get dozens of hits per day), and they show them to their friends for opinions, and I want buyers spending as much time as possible looking at information about my listings versus others.
  4. Open Houses – I’m a big fan of open houses. (See my open house post here.) Any agent who says “No one buys off an open house” is WRONG. I’ve had several of my buyer clients buy a house that they saw for the first time when it was held open, and I sold one of my listings to someone who saw it at an open house. Do you want to be denied that chance? Make sure the ad in the paper has your property’s web address (see #3) in it – buyers are more likely to make the time to see your home if they’ve seen it online and the pictures are good—see #1. See how all of these fit together to form a marketing strategy?
  5. Updates – Make sure you get a full market analysis from your listing agent at least every week. Market conditions change, and it’s important that you know what your competition—those other listings—is doing.

This is just a brief list of some of the most common mistakes (or, dare I say, lack of effort) that I see out there. Make sure you optimize your chances of selling by demanding the best from your agent.

To discuss what I do in addition to the above for my sellers, email me.

Read more: Open Houses and Route Optimizer

Read more: 5 Mistakes Listing Agents Make

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