Types of Condos

Many people picture a high-rise building filled with apartments when they think of a condominium. But, not all condos are high-rises.  In fact, not all condos are buildings, much less hi-rises! For example, a bare land condo  is a condominium in which the owner owns land only.

Even horses are getting into the act! Some stables have gone condo. In a stable condo, the owner purchases a single stall for his horse in a stable, but shares the stable and grounds with other horses and owners. At a marina, it is possible to condo a single slip from a dock. In both cases, the owners pay a fee to the association for maintenance, but in both cases, the owner is solely responsible for his interest in the condo.

A more common type of condominium is the garden-style condo. Garden-style condos are one to five floors of condominiums and usually don’t have an elevator. From the exterior, townhouse condos look exactly like regular condominiums.

It is even possible to have a single family residence titled as a condo. This can happen in a vacation community where the association maintains the exterior and grounds of the house, while the owners have possession of the interior of the house.

This article was reprinted by permission from CondoBenefits.com. If you are a condo expert or if you would like a link from CondoBenefits.com just drop me a line. I’m building a directory of condo experts from around the country at that site and would love your input!

 

Decorating a Rental House

Those who opt to rent a house as opposed to an apartment may still be held to certain restrictions regarding the type of decorating which can be done on the property. These restrictions may be stricter or more lenient than those typically enforced when a renter is renting an apartment property. This will largely depend on the preferences of the homeowners. Homeowners who do not want to see major modifications done to the property may place strict restrictions while those who want to see the property improved may allow the renter a great deal of freedom in their decorating options.Continue reading

Live in Northern Virginia — without a car!

Leave your car behind?  I can help you live in Arlington, Alexandria or Falls Church–without owning a car. Outside the City of Washington DC, Arlington County has the highest number of Metro Subway stops in the Capital Region.

Many large employment centers–Rosslyn, Courthouse, Clarendon, Crystal City, The Pentagon, Pentagon City and all of Falls Church City are on either the Yellow or Blue Line of the Metro system These areas are also loaded with all kinds of residential properties–single family homes, townhouses and condos.   Properties of all different sizes and prices ranges are available for purchase of lease.

metro

Want to get around? Try the healthy alternative–bikes!  Arlington, Alexandria and Fairfax counties are home to one of the nations most extensive system of bike trails.  Want to know a local secret–bikes are permitted on both the subway trains and Metro buses!  Bike lockers are available at most Metro stations.

Still need are car from time to time?  Use Zip Car. Hundreds of cars are available at dozens of sites all around the area-Metro stops, shopping centers, the business district, restaurant areas, museums–even the airport. Here is another local secret–Zip Car parking spots are just about as convenient as handicapped parking.

For more information or to set up an appointment call Stuart at (703)765-0300.

 

Ballston Commons Mall- Fun in Arlington

Ballston
Ballston Common Mall

Bring the kids to take part in the annual Halloween trick or treating all throughout the mall. If you have a lazy teen who will be going off to college soon, why not send him over to Ballston Common Mall’s yearly college fair?  Or you can simply shop in over 200 of their stores.

Ballston Common Mall has something for every single person in the family. If you’re looking to kick back and enjoy a good laugh, then the Comedy Spot is just the hangout spot for you. If you’re treating yourself to hair and nail treatments, you can choose from four beauty salons. Or if you want to keep the kids busy with something fun and energetic, you can always send them over to the nearby Kettler Capitals IcePlex for ice skating or to play hockey. Something that the whole family can enjoy is the Ballston Common Mall big movie theater! As you can see, this mall offers a diverse mix of services and goods. From their CVS Pharmacy to their Cyber Star Services they cater to every person’s wants.

The mall’s main features are their Macy’s, Macy Furniture Gallery, Gourmet Restaurants and the Sport & Health Club. Ballston Common Mall stretches out over 1.3 million square foot piece of land, it has four levels and is located at the corner of Glebe Road and Wilson Boulevard only four miles from Washington D.C in Arlington Virginia. Ballston’s mall is quickly becoming the new “downtown” of Arlington.

For more information or to set up an appointment call Stuart at (703)765-0300.

 

The Benefits and Disadvantages of Condos

This article is reprinted by permission from CondoBenefits.com

Advantages

  1. Condos on average are more affordable then other types of housing.
  2. Maintenance of the exterior of the building will be take care of.
  3. The peace of mind living next to neighbors if help is needed.
  4. Condos can be located in major cities surrounded by restaurants, night clubs, and local bars.
  5. Many condos offer a pool, gym, and basketball/tennis court for those who are active.

*Bonus*

Condos are often located in high rise building making for spectacular views.

Disadvantages

  1. 1. There are condo rules by the condo corporation that would have to be followed.
  2. Condos can have additional fees such as corporation fees.
  3. Only your interior walls inward are own by you (depending on which type of condo you own.)
  4. You will have to share the pool, gym, and basketball/tennis courts will your other neighbors.

Self Search of Real Estate in Northern Virginia

To search properties on your own, please select the city or county closest to your destination and the type of property you seek.

If you have questions, we’re here to help. Click here if you’d prefer for us to do the search.

Properties in Kingstowne

 

 

Can a Federal income tax lien prevent the sale of real estate?

The short answer is most probably not. Liens of all types must be paid by the seller when property changes hands. Real estate tax liens have

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A real estate brokerage serving Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax County

priority over all others. First mortgages usually come next. Then come mechanic’s liens, second mortgages, water bills and other encumbrances. Federal and State income tax liens must get in line just like the others. A deed MUST be recorded before property can be pledged.

For more information or to set up an appointment call Julie at (703)765-0300.

5 Important Tips for Condo Buyers

If you are looking or even just thinking about buying a condominium home, it’s perfectly natural to feel a little nervous. Buying a condo and owning your own home is a large, life changing purchase. Indeed, any individual thinking about buying a condo needs to know what to expect and how to prepare for those expectations. Below is a short list of 5 essential tips that any potential condo buyer would do well to consider throughout the process of finding a new condominium home. Happy hunting!

exterior detail
Royalton penthouse

1) Look at Everything in Person

First, remember to look in person at any condo unit you are interested in. It is very important that you make sure to actually see the amenities, parking space, and condo facilities personally. This simple but critical task will avoid any confusion and disappointment later on and will ensure that you are satisfied with your condo purchase. If you absolutely cannot look at the condo in person than ask the seller if you can send a friend you trust to look at the unit instead. In addition, if you are located in a different city than where you are condo shopping, be sure to ask the condo seller or realtor to send you as many pictures as possible of the condo and the condo building before you make a decision.

2) Carefully review the Condo Association Fees First

Make sure that you know what exactly is included in your condo purchase. What amenities are included in the condo fees to make the condo right for the price? Or, on the other hand, are you going to end up paying for benefits you don’t need? In addition, ask if there is any insurance included. Different condo associations may charge the same amount per month, but one may include some incidental insurance while others may require hefty fees for amenities you may not really need or want. Finally, check the condo association meetings and/or any printed bulletins that result from them. Look for any past or developing issues that you need to take into account.

Wooster Mercer
Wooster Mercer Lofts

3) Never Ignore the Documents that Accompany the Condo Purchase

Always review the condominium documents very carefully before you buy. In laymen’s terms, don’t ignore the fine print. Here, you should check the total price and property documents to make sure that they are reasonable for the area. Be especially cautious if the price is very low because this could mean you will need a special assessment of the unit, which could cost you a lot of money, later in the future.
4) Always Review Comparable Units for Sale in the Same Building

While every condo building is unique and features different amenities, styles, policies, and location, it is important that you look into other condo units that are for sale or have sold in the same building. Here, do not simply rely on the recent sale price of another unit in the building. Consider what another units’ floor plan was, what views it had, or if it had any special upgrades. Depending on the view and floor of the unit, the price of a one bedroom can vary within a condo building.

5) Work with a Specialist

The condominium marketplace is often a very specialized type of real estate and as such, you should always consider working with a qualified realtor, and particularly one who specializes in condos. With the help of a realtor, you will have access to a greater condominium market which will enable you to find the best condo unit to fit your needs at a price that you can live with.

For more information or to set up an appointment call Nesbitt Realty at (703)765-0300.
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What do real estate agents do?

When selling property, brokers and agents arrange for title searches to verify ownership and for meetings between buyers and sellers during which they agree to the details of the transactions and in a final meeting, the new owners take possession of the property. They also may help to arrange favorable financing from a lender for the prospective buyer; often, this makes the difference between success and failure in closing a sale. In some cases, brokers and agents assume primary responsibility for closing sales; in others, lawyers or lenders do.

Duties to Sellers

Agents and brokers spend a significant amount of time looking for properties to sell. They obtain listings—agreements by owners to place properties for sale with the firm. When listing a property for sale, agents and brokers compare the listed property with similar properties that recently sold, in order to determine a competitive market price for the property. Following the sale of the property, both the agent who sold it and the agent who obtained the listing receive a portion of the commission. Thus, agents who sell a property that they themselves have listed can increase their commission.

The listing firm and its agents must

  • promote the sellers’ best interests
  • be loyal to the seller
  • follow the sellers’ lawful instructions
  • provide the seller with all material facts that could influence your decisions
  • use reasonable skill, care and diligence, and
  • account for all monies they handle for the seller.

Once you have signed the listing agreement, the firm and its agents may not give any confidential information about you to prospective buyers or their agents without your permission so long as they represent you.

Duties to Buyers

If the real estate firm and its agents represent you, they must

  • promote the buyers’ best interests
  • be loyal to the buyer
  • follow the buyers’ lawful instructions
  • provide the buyer with all material facts that could influence your decisions
  • use reasonable skill, care and diligence, and
  • account for all monies handled for the buyer.

Before showing residential properties to potential buyers, agents meet with them to get an idea of the type of home the buyers would like. In this prequalifying phase, the agent determines how much the buyers can afford to spend. In addition, the agent and the buyer usually sign a loyalty contract, which states that the agent will be the only one to show houses to the buyer. An agent or broker then generates lists of properties for sale, their location and description, and available sources of financing. In some cases, agents and brokers use computers to give buyers a virtual tour of properties that interest them.

Agents may meet several times with prospective buyers to discuss and visit available properties. Agents identify and emphasize the most pertinent selling points. To a young family looking for a house, for example, they may emphasize the convenient floor plan, the area’s low crime rate, and the proximity to schools and shopping. To a potential investor, they may point out the tax advantages of owning a rental property and the ease of finding a renter. If bargaining over price becomes necessary, agents must follow their client’s instructions carefully and may have to present counteroffers to get the best possible price.

Once the buyer and seller have signed a contract, the real estate broker or agent must make sure that all special terms of the contract are met before the closing date. The agent must make sure that any legally mandated or agreed-upon inspections, such as termite and radon inspections, take place. In addition, if the seller agrees to any repairs, the broker or agent ensures they are made. Increasingly, brokers and agents are handling environmental problems as well, by making sure that the properties they sell meet environmental regulations. For example, they may be responsible for dealing with lead paint on the walls. Loan officers, attorneys, or other people handle many details, but the agent must ensure that they are carried out.

Most real estate brokers and sales agents sell residential property. A small number—usually employed in large or specialized firms—sell commercial, industrial, agricultural, or other types of real estate. Every specialty requires knowledge of that particular type of property and clientele. Selling or leasing business property requires an understanding of leasing practices, business trends, and the location of the property. Agents who sell or lease industrial properties must know about the region’s transportation, utilities, and labor supply. Whatever the type of property, the agent or broker must know how to meet the client’s particular requirements.

Brokers and agents do the same type of work, but brokers are licensed to manage their own real estate businesses. Agents must work with a broker. They usually provide their services to a licensed real estate broker on a contract basis. In return, the broker pays the agent a portion of the commission earned from the agent’s sale of the property. Brokers, as independent businesspeople, often sell real estate owned by others; they also may rent or manage properties for a fee.

Are you purchasing a condo or home that needs work? Perhaps and FHA 203k is for you.

your lender
Nesbitt Realty never makes any money from your loan. This frees us to make the most objective recommendation possible.

FHA 203K Loan – Eligible Property

To be eligible for the FHA 203k mortgage loan, the property must be a one- to four-family dwelling that has been completed for at least one year. The number of units on the site must be acceptable according to local zoning requirements. All newly constructed units must be attached to the existing dwelling. Cooperative units are not eligible.

Homes that have been demolished, or will be razed as part of the rehabilitation work, are eligible provided some of the existing foundation system remains in place.

In addition to typical home improvement loan projects, the FHA 203-k mortgage loan program can be used to convert a one-family dwelling to a two-, three-, or four-family dwelling. An existing multi-unit dwelling could be decreased to a one- to four-family unit.

An existing house (or modular unit) on another site can be moved onto the mortgaged property; however, release of loan proceeds for the existing structure on the non-mortgaged property is not allowed until the new foundation has been properly inspected and the dwelling has been properly placed and secured to the new foundation.

health and safety of the occupants of the residential property; and (3) the rehabilitation funds will only be used for the residential functions of the dwelling and areas used to access the residential part of the property.

What is the minimum amount of repairs required on a FHA 203k home improvement loan?

There is a minimum $5,000 requirement of eligible home improvement loan projects on the existing structure of the property. Minor or cosmetic repairs may be included after meeting the first $5,000 worth of repairs.

What are some of the repairs that qualify for the first $5,000?

  • Structural alterations and reconstruction: (Repair or replacement of structural damage, chimney repair, additions to the structure, installation of additional bath(s), skylights, finished attics and/or basements, repair of termite damage and the treatment against termites);
  • Elimination of health and safety hazards;
  • Changes for aesthetic appeal:
    (New siding, adding a dormer, covered porch, attached garage);
  • Air Conditioning or replacement:
    (plumbing, heating, air conditioning and electrical systems);
  • Installation of well, septic system or connection to public utilities;
  • Roofing, Gutter Downspouts, Flooring, Tiling and carpeting;
  • Major landscape and site improvement;
  • Improvements to improve accessibility and functions for the disabled.

What are the qualifications to be able to obtain a FHA 203-k loan?

The qualifications requirements are the same as a typical FHA mortgage loan. The only additional item that the borrower needs is either enough cash reserved to pay for materials and labor until they are reimbursed through a draw, or a credit card with an adequate available balance. If there is to be a contractor involved, the contractor may choose to cover these costs.

The interest rate on a typical FHA 203k mortgage loan is a little higher than a standard FHA or conventional 30/15-year fixed-rate loan. The cash requirements are the same as an FHA loan, 3 percent to 5 percent, which is less than a typical conventional loan. There are a couple of additional fees which pertain to the construction aspects of the FHA 203k loan.

Can I pick my own contractor to do the work?

Dillon Lee

You may decide on your own contractor, and they should be brought into the process in the beginning stage of the loan process. Check out the credentials of the contractor thoroughly, making sure he is knowledgeable in all aspects of rehabilitation work.

The home improvements or repairs need not be made before moving into the property, depending on how extensive the repairs are and whether the house is habitable while the repairs are being made. The home improvement loan provides the ability to include up to 6 months of mortgage payments in the improvement escrow, should you not be able to occupy the property and have to pay rent during rehabilitation.

Can the FHA 203k loan be used to improve a condominium unit?

Yes, however, condominium rehabilitation is subject to the following conditions:

  • Owner/occupant and qualified non-profit borrowers only;
  • Rehabilitation is limited only to the interior of the unit. Mortgage proceeds are not to be used for the rehabilitation of exteriors or other areas which are the responsibility of the condominium association, except for the installation of firewalls in the attic for the unit;
  • Only the lesser of five units per condominium association, or 25 percent of the total number of units, can be undergoing rehabilitation at any one time;
  • The maximum mortgage amount cannot exceed 100 percent of after-improved value. After rehabilitation is complete, the individual buildings within the condominium must not contain more than four units.

By law, FHA 203k loans can only be used to rehabilitate units in one-to-four unit structures. However, this does not mean that the condominium project, as a whole, can only have four units or that all individual structures must be detached. Example: A project might consist of six buildings each containing four units, for a total of 24 units in the project and, thus, be eligible for an FHA 203k loan. Likewise, a project could contain a row of more than four attached townhouses and be eligible for a FHA 203k loan because HUD considers each townhouse as one structure, provided each unit is separated by a 1 1/2 hour firewall (from foundation up to the roof). Similar to a project with a condominium unit with a mortgage insured under Section 234(c) of the National Housing Act, the condominium project must be approved by HUD prior to the closing of any individual mortgages on the condominium units.

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