Do you have the income and credit to buy a home, but haven’t saved the cash for a down payment yet? DC Open Doors may be the answer. The program provides fully-forgivable loans for minimum (3-5%) down payments and access to below-market interest rate loans. This equates to essentially 100% financing. There are a few requirements listed below, but this program has already helped over 500 buyers in the first 3 years of operating the program.
Program Qualification Highlights
Can have an income of up to $125,580
Good Credit >640
Not required to be a first time homebuyer
Best of all, the down payment loan is offered at 0% interest and is forgiven at 20% a year for 5 years. As long as the buyer makes payments on time and continues to occupy the property as their primary residence, the down payment loan is completely forgiven after 5 years! If a buyer decides to sell before the 5 years are up, they just pay off the remainder of the 0% interest loan along with the underlying mortgage. This great program is designed to help DC residents afford to stay in the city when they are ready to buy. If you are interested in learning more about this or other resources available to buyers, please contact us. We are always happy to walk you through your options.
April Fool’s Day may have passed, but this market is also no joke! We’ve said it before: List your home early in the year. Buyers have been out for months, and most sellers are still de-cluttering. We had five successful closings in March and we are looking forward to warmer weather and new listings in April and May. If you are thinking of listing your home this spring, give us a call. In most neighborhoods the inventory is still low, and well priced homes are going fast, but reviews are mixed on how the market is doing. While we’ve seen bidding wars in some neighborhoods and at certain price points (particularly moderately priced single family homes), but rapidly growing inventory in other segments, like condos. Our local MLS reported that inventory was up a whopping 20% in March 2016 vs March of last year–the highest level of March inventory since 2007. Typically April inventory spikes even higher. We’re still below 2.5 months of inventory, but that’s no consolation that sellers that haven’t priced well and are wondering why they have no offers. Across the nation, there are rumblings of a slow down in the market–could it actually come our way this time??
We’re off to the races again this year! The Wethman Group is literally headed to the races at Gold Cup with clients and friends at our Client Appreciation EventSaturday, May 7th. If you are going to the races also please stop by Tent #124 (North) and enjoy a cocktail with our team–we’d love to see you. We’ll also have some cornhole, friendly wagers and raffles to keep the action going between races. Clients, if you haven’t received your invite, please contact us asap!
As we settle into spring it’s important we do some seasonal home maintenance. Click here to view a checklist we created to help you get started. Should you need a referral to a vendor, please give us a call we have many preferred vendors we refer our clients to.
Spring is in the air! Well, maybe not the air just yet, but Spring is certainly here for real estate. Surprising to many (but not us), we’re seeing multiple offers for many our sellers. Buyers are always out earlier in the year than sellers, and the early bird seller catches the worm. Our Falls Church seller received 8 offers and sold for $36,000 above list price, and nearly $80,000 above the Zillow Zestimate!
NOW is the time! We’re meeting with both buyers and sellers daily to plan our timing for Spring purchases and sales. If you need a refresher on the home buying process, sign up for our free home buying class THIS SUNDAY, February 28 at Arlington Central Library. It’s not just for first timers anymore! We’ll discuss buying and selling simultaneously, and how to manage the risks of the process. (February 28 doesn’t work for you? We have another class March 21st. You can register for either class at http://www.buyerclass.com
Clients, don’t forget our Williams Sonoma private brunch and shopping (with discount!) is this SUNDAY morning! It’s not too late to RSVP if you haven’t already–just email us!
Congratulations to our client Sarah Stein, who won this quarter’s drawing for free Caps tickets! Clients you can be entered each quarter for writing us a review online (up to 3 entries per quarter) or posting a photo of yourself with one of our client appreciation program items on social media — contact us for details!
As always, don’t hesitate to call us if we can help with your real estate needs.
This is a tough question without knowing more of the background, and I suspect the answer varies considerably depending on the geographic area you’re in. In our area of metro DC, many agents would advise their buyers that more than 10% off of list price is considered ‘low ball’. Does that make it offensive? Not necessarily. A good agent will investigate and help you determine what’s a fair market value to offer for a property you’re considering, and present it accordingly to the other side. Some things to consider:
What are the comparable sales that are pointing you towards your offer price? Are they within the past 90 days? Within a similar season (late winter but pre-spring run up in prices) as last year? If there are clearly similar homes that your agent can walk the listing agent through, then it’s not offensive — it’s fact. But it needs to be presented in the right way. There are tactics to this…for example, a phone call with a simple “I’m trying to find comps to justify this price and having a hard time…can you send me which comps you used to come up with this price? The ones I’m finding are all quite a bit lower, and I don’t wish to offend your seller or waste anyone’s time.” This is the sort of thing an experienced agent can guide you through!
Is the neighborhood trending up or down? How many homes like this one are likely to come on the market in the next few months? What is the seller’s situation and his estimated carrying costs (i.e., what did he pay for the property and can you ballpark how much his mortgage is? Maybe it’s a very low cost and he’s not opposed to waiting if his carrying costs are low). Has your agent called the listing agent to see what the situation is? It could be that the agent knows it’s overpriced but the seller is just unreasonable. Has the seller turned down offers previously that could help you narrow a range of what the seller is likely to accept?
Many agents will advise you not to write an offer if it’s too low because the seller is unlikely to accept it, or even counter offer. However just because an amount is what the seller will accept doesn’t mean it’s the market value! Sometimes it’s better to pass on a house if you think something similar will come up in the next few months that is in a lower price point for similar condition, or if the seller is just unreasonable. A look at historical sales in the neighborhood in the past 12 months will tell you that, combined with a live discussion between your buyer agent and the listing agent. But before you decide to move on, discuss these questions with your agent to determine whether it’s worth the time to submit an offer, and how long to wait for a response before you move on to a reasonable seller. On the other hand, if the comps support a higher value, then in the absence of special circumstances, you might just be wasting valuable time, and more likely to offend a seller.
We’re having a great holiday season here at the Wethman Group, having just completed our Thanksgiving Pie Giveaway and Breakfast at the Movies with Santa events for our clients. We had a great time and hope all of you did too!
We’re also pleased to announce our newest buyer agent, Sarah Cevallos! Proud to call herself a Northern Virginia Native, Sarah Cevallos has dedicated her life to helping others. She attended Villanova University to receive her Bachelor of Science in Nursing and is a Lieutenant in the US Navy. During her professional career she has worked as an obstetric nurse, nurse recruiter, manpower analyst, and most recently helping others find their dream homes in Northern Virginia. Sarah is active in charitable work and she and her husband Hector are homeowners in Arlington, VA.
In market news, things seem quiet, which is not unexpected for mid December. Inventory is down, and buyers seem hesitant to pull the trigger on purchases. The Fed’s rate hike last week, the first in nearly a decade, may further damper holiday cheer for potential home buyers and sellers. Is it good or bad for the market? In reality, Fed rates are only one of many factors that influence mortgage rates. In the short term, this hike was already anticipated, and so rates will change very little. In the medium term, we’ll likely see small increases in mortgage rates, and in the long term, we’ll undoubtedly see higher rates as the economy improves.
Whether this scenario is good or bad for you depends on whether you’re moving up, moving down, or buying for the first time. Rising rates hurts buyers’ purchasing power and makes it even harder to find an affordable property, but the resulting smaller pool of buyers at higher price points may translate into more reasonable prices. On the other hand, rising rates historically have made buyers realize the window of opportunity is closing, and rush to market before it gets worse. In short, it’s complicated. Call us to discuss your situation!
Early January is the perfect time to start prepping for the Spring market; buyers need to start getting paperwork in order, and sellers need to start de-cluttering (it takes longer than you think!) and schedule necessary repair work. If you’re thinking of making a move in 2016, please reach out to us now so we can schedule a meeting in January!
Fall is in full swing and we are enjoying all the changes that come with the season. We have continued to stay busy here at the Wethman Group with 15 settlements in September and October! We hosted several First Time Home Buyer Classes and were proud to sponsor the JMU Metro Dukes Crab Fest.
We have two big client appreciation events coming up in the next few weeks so all our clients should look out forinvitations to Thanksgiving Pie Giveaway and Breakfast with Santa at the Movies — contact us if you haven’t received your invite!
Market & Lending Conditions
Nationally, it was a rather ordinary month for the residential housing market in October, based on a preliminary analysis of realtor.com® data. “October saw little change in the for-sale housing market other than the typical seasonal decline in demand and inventory,” said Jonathan Smoke, chief economist.
But in our local market, we’re seeing inventory creep up and sales drop, and expect that to continue into November and December. This may be a good opportunity for buyers! Buyers are anxious about apotential Fed rate hike in December, and if mortgage rates go up, that will continue to cool our high-priced local market, especially. In other mortgage news, FHA recently announced changes to its notoriously difficult condo approval process, which should help provide additional financing options to condo buyers very soon.
Before the weather grows colder it’s important to prepare for the winter months to prevent costly damage. Email or call your agent if you need a copy of our Fall Maintenance Checklist.
We’re so grateful for our clients, friends and supporters this season of Thanksgiving and all year long. As always, don’t hesitate to call us if we can help with your real estate needs.
We hope this newsletter finds you well rested and relaxed as summer comes to an end and the kids are back to school. We have continued to stay busy here at the Wethman Group with 20 settlements in August and September! We’re also proud to announce Katie Wethman, our Managing Partner, landed a spot in the Washingtonian’s Best Agents List! But on to the news…
Though the press is touting continuing strong market conditions, on the ground our team is seeing the market slow down ever so slightly in our area. Of course there are still pockets of hyper activity, but we’re seeing inventory drop and some buyers sitting on the sidelines. The specter of rising interest rates loomed large for buyers in the past few months, but now the Fed has backed down given global economic conditions. Without that urgency driver, we expect buyers to be taking their time this Fall and Winter. Staging a home and pricing it well will become more important than ever for sellers.
Sellers, if you think you’ll be selling in the next 4-6 months, contact us now so that we can come up with a game plan for preparation and staging, including photos.
Even though Joaquin looks to be headed out to sea, this is still a good time to prepare for other storms sure to come; homeowners, move small items indoor or store in sheds, and secure anything that might blow away in high winds. And when this rain does clear up, go ahead and trim those trees of any dead or low branches that can become problematic in storms. If you find yourself with water in your basement and need to clean up, you may need to rely on professionals like ServPro. Act quickly to minimize damage from mold and mildew. (If you need recommendations for vendors or for waterproofing companies, just contact us!)
Check your sump pumps and battery backups. Too often we’re not diligent about checking for water leaks and backups until it’s too late. For extra peace of mind, one of my favorite inexpensive ‘must haves’ for the house is abasement water alarm like this one. I have several in my home, in fact–near the sump pit, near the water heater, and near the HVAC system. For $12 this little tool gives a lot of peace of mind!
Voter Registration Deadline
Finally, a tip for those who have moved in the past year — most jurisdictions have October voter registration deadline. Visit your County or City website for instructions on registering in your new district!
As always, don’t hesitate to call us if we can help with your real estate needs.