You’ve been prequalified … what now?

I met with a first-time buyer over the weekend. She was prequalified by her lender. Prequalifying helped frame her choices. It’s a waste of time and energy to look at homes that are outside of the budget, so prequalification is the first step for any home buyer. Here are the steps that we’ll be taking on the road to home ownership.3D Realty Handshake

  1. Tour properties — We took a top level tour of some of the properties that are in her
    budget. This gives the client something concrete and real to think about so that she can decide whether this home ownership thing is for her or not. In addition to the units we saw, I can think of a number of places that would also fall within this client’s budget and still offer a very reasonable commute to Ft. Belvoir. But I wanted to get her impressions of these places before going on a bit deeper.
  2. Revisiting — We’ll revisit those communities that hold the greatest interest and look at everything available in those communities.  (So far we just did a top level search.)
    • A few more choices — If none of these really feel right, we’ll find a few more to consider and continue with the search.
  3. Make an offer — When we’ve found the property that stirs the soul, fits the budget and feels right, I’ll write up an offer. At that time I’ll collect “earnest money”.
    • The earnest money is evidence that the seller is serious about the purchase and is held in escrow until the sale is completed. We’ll submit a preapproval letter, a copy of the earnest money deposit and the signed offer for the seller to consider.
  4. Negotiations — Sometimes there is a difference between the asking price and the selling price. The selling price is determined by negotiation. We’ll pass drafts of the contract back and forth until the buyer and seller have agreed on all terms.
  5. Loan processing — Julie at Condominium Mortgage will then collect documentation from the client. This documentation will serve the purpose of proving the representations made in the loan application process. The buyer will produce pay stubs, bank statements etc. Julie will also order an appraisal as required by all lenders.
  6. Settlement — Settlement is the word used to describe the actual transfer of ownership. We’ll settle on the property in a timely fashion on an agreed upon date. Settlement will occur at a title company’s office and a settlement agent will ensure that funds are present as is marketable title.
  7. Ownership — Here’s where the fun begins … as does the responsibility of home ownership.

Properties in Fort Hunt

1603 Revere Dr

New construction in the coveted Waynewood elementary school district. Purchase now and make your interior selections for the finished home. Enjoy living in the quaint village of Hollin Hall...walk to shops and restaurants, minutes from GW Parkway & Old Town! [Hollin Hall Village - $879,000]

03 Zoe Pl

SAMPLE LISTING AT LOWEST BASE PRICE - Potomac Trace is a vibrant new townhome community located in sought-after Alexandria, VA and the Mt. Vernon neighborhood. The enviable location offers homeowners close proximity to downtown Washington DC, legendary attractions, dining, shopping, major employment centers, Mt. Vernon Hospital, Amazon HQ2, and Reagan airport. This Sweet Briar floorplan offers 1st floor bedroom option and optional elevator. PHOTOS Representative only - may show options. [None Available - $694,990]

02 Zoe Pl

SAMPLE LISTING AT LOWEST BASE PRICE - Potomac Trace is a vibrant new townhome community located in sought-after Alexandria, VA and the Mt. Vernon neighborhood. The enviable location offers homeowners close proximity to downtown Washington DC, legendary attractions, dining, shopping, major employment centers, Mt. Vernon Hospital, Amazon HQ2, and Reagan airport. PHOTOS REPRESENTATIVE ONLY - may show options [None Available - $689,990]

01 Zoe Pl

SAMPLE LISTING AT LOWEST BASE PRICE - Potomac Trace is a vibrant new townhome community located in sought-after Alexandria, VA and the Mt. Vernon neighborhood. The enviable location offers homeowners close proximity to downtown Washington DC, legendary attractions, dining, shopping, major employment centers, Mt. Vernon Hospital, Amazon HQ2, and Reagan airport. PHOTOS REPRESENTATIVE ONLY - may show options [None Available - $649,990]

8957 Fort Hunt Rd

LOOK OUTSIDE THE BOX! This home is not your square box. Thoughtfully planned Modern Farmhouse Estate with 3 car garage accessory structure. Detached garage with optional finished 912 SF which connect (or not) to main house - bedroom, office, rec-room, in-law suite are all possible. One of a kind, custom-built home by premier local builder. Every inch of this home is beautifully thought out; absolutely stunning. Get in early to further customize your dream home! .72 acre flat lot overlooking Fort Hunt Park. A bikers and exercisers paradise. This home is unlike any other; 4 bedrooms and 4 full bathrooms upstairs. Optional main level master with full bath, deck and screened porch. Estimated completion is August 2020. [Plymouth Haven - $1,695,000]

2504 Childs Ln

This Just Renovated 4 bedroom, 3 full bathroom home is absolutely stunning. It has an open concept with abundant natural light, amazing light-filled entryway, brand new gourmet kitchen, fully renovated baths, fresh paint, flooring, new fixtures, recessed lighting and more!! Lower level walk-out basement is complete with rec room, 2 bedrooms, full bath and utility room. Large flat backyard where you'll enjoy an expansive patio, tons of privacy, and a fenced in back yard. This location cannot be beat. Move-in ready with easy access to major commuter routes. This is a must see! For more information call listing agent Tom Billard 202-880-9371. [Stratford On the Potomac - $719,000]

7925 Fairfax Rd

Brick front home with a large lot and driveway. The home has a carport and tons of mature trees. Living room with hardwood floors, beams, lighted ceiling fan, and a fireplace. Dining room with chair rails and a lighted chandelier. Kitchen with stainless steel appliances, white cabinets and tons of counter space. Family room with neutral carpet, and tons of natural light. Master bedroom with neutral carpet and lighted ceiling fan and good closet space. There are 2 additional bedrooms with neutral carpet and lighted ceiling fans. Hall bath with a tub and shower with ceramic tile backsplash. The outside is very private on your brick patio great for entertaining and relaxing on those beautiful days. Large lot .28 acres, of land that is flat and very open with mature trees. Truly a great home!!! [Hollin Hall Village - $599,900]

1804 Whiteoaks Dr

Classic exterior with truly stunning open interior combined with gorgeous elevated 3/4 acre wooded setting just minutes from Old Town. One of the most unique and exciting opportunities in recent years! Special features include: Chef's kitchen with custom cabinetry and top of the line appliances including "Viking" cook top, gorgeous refinished hardwoods, expanded family room and main level Master suite lead to truly spectacular solarium with custom endless lap pool. Expansive glass doors from family room and pool area open to massive stone patio creating exceptional flow for indoor/outdoor entertaining. 3 Main level bedrooms and upper level private suite, basement with gas fireplace and bar. 2 car garage & gravel circle drive provides ample parking. This special property with its spa like private environment is more than just a residence. This home provides a complete lifestyle experience! [Hollindale - $949,900]

7812 Friars Ct

Lovely, spacious brick home with attached garage on a quiet, friendly cul-de-sac. This wonderful location is convenient to shopping, restaurants, schools, library and Mt. Vernon Hospital. Open floor plan features wood floors and loads of natural light on the main level. The charming kitchen features granite counters and a breakfast bar that is open to the dining room. The main level also has the master suite as well as a second bedroom and hall full bath with tub. The finished lower level has an inviting family room with a wood-burning fireplace, two bedrooms, a full bath, also with tub. The lower level also has a large laundry room with plenty of space for storage and walks out to the large fenced back yard. Double-pane windows help with energy efficiency. The home is in a great location for those commuting to DC, the Pentagon, Old Town, Ft Belvoir, Amazon's new HQ and so much more. The scenic GW Parkway and bike trail are close by whether you choose to go for a run, a ride or a scenic drive. [Sherwood Forest - $599,000]

1400 Alexandria Ave

Stately and southern colonial with welcoming front porch and vaulted ceiling screened in porch located on quiet cul-de-sac! Built in 2001 the current owners have spared no expense updating this home putting in nearly $400,000 in recent improvements! 5 bedrooms on the upper level + main level library/office! Open concept kitchen/family room (with gas fireplace), breakfast room opening up to incredible screened in porch. Oversized 2 car garage walks into mud and laundry room. Hardwoods throughout the main and upper level. Aupair/ inlaw suite in the walkout basement with kitchenette, built ins, full bath, and gas fireplace. Fully fenced in back yard featuring landscape lighting and in-ground sprinkler system. Open Sunday 1/19 from 2-4 PM. [Wellington Heights - $1,399,000]

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

 

Why use a realtor?

Realtor pin
Realtor

All real estate licensees are not the same. Only real estate licensees who are members of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS(r) are properly called REALTORS(r). They proudly display the REALTOR “(r)” logo on the business card or other marketing and sales literature. All agents and brokers at Condo Alexandria are Realtors. REALTORS(r) are committed to treat all parties to a transaction honestly. REALTORS(r) subscribe to a strict code of ethics and are expected to maintain a higher level of knowledge of the process of buying and selling real estate. An independent survey reports that 84% of home buyers would use the same REALTOR(r) again.

Real estate transactions involve one of the biggest financial investments most people experience in their lifetime. Transactions today usually exceed $100,000. If you had a $100,000 income tax problem, would you attempt to deal with it without the help of a CPA? If you had a $100,000 legal question, would you deal with it without the help of an attorney? Considering the small upside cost and the large downside risk, it would be foolish to consider a deal in real estate without the professional assistance of a REALTOR(r).

But if you’re still not convinced of the value of a REALTOR(r), here are a dozen more reasons to use a Realtor from Condo Alexandria.

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

The Young Professionals Survival Guide to Condo Ownership and Growing-Up

cashAlthough there are numerous benefits to owning a condo which include the lifestyle that such ownership entails; individuals living as single, young professionals who are just starting out, are arguably the most notable beneficiaries. The economic benefits that condo ownership provides for this particular demographic are two-fold. First, owning a condo is certainly less expensive than owning residential property insofar as the material upkeep and residual costs that homeownership necessitates. Second, most contemporary condo buildings offer a host of wide-ranging amenities that would command a considerable cost to an individual homeowner but which can be enjoyed instead at a significantly reduced rate to condo-owners who share jointly in the overall expense.

These otherwise high-priced features and amenities usually include guarded and/or private, enclosed parking; 24-hour security and front desk staff; indoor and outdoor swimming pools; clubhouses; gated recreational facilities; etc., etc. (the list goes on and on!!). To that extent, condo ownership is therefore an ideal middle ground for the single, young professional who may very well aspire towards homeownership someday but who still remains a far cry away from white picket fences, two-car garages and 2.5 children.

Nesbitt Realty can help you buy or sell in Cameron Station.
The condos of Cameron Station include Carlton Place, Condominiums of Cameron Station Blvd, Main Street, Oakland Hall, Residences at Cameron Station and Woodland Hall.

In addition to the economically sound benefits that condo ownership provides, there are other elemental and lifestyle benefits that are associated with condominium ownership as well. Today, there are as many types of condominiums out there as there are types of people. Plainly put, the condominium marketplace has progressed with such rapidity that the variety and availability of choice in condo options is as original and unique as individual homes. Thus, each type can satisfy the different needs of different individuals and therefore enhance and accommodate every kind of lifestyle. For example, there are distinctions between what are popularly thought of as ‘condominium apartments’ versus those that are known as ‘condominium townhouses’, which might have small differences from one another save for their structure regulations. There are also condominiums known as freeholds whereby a condo owner owns the plot of land as well as any structure on the land such as a house or townhouse.

Finally, for single or young professionals who are still growing into their grownup-ness, condo ownership signifies an increase in responsibility and a commitment to ownership. To be clear, condo living isn’t like renting a single dwelling home or apartment and this is due to the dual nature that comes with owning any condo unit. Condominium owners hold ownership over their respective units but, additionally, each owner is also responsible for the operating costs and maintenance of the all of the shared elements on the property such as lobbies, passageways, and elevators. Here, owning a condo is effectively choosing to live within a community of other condo unit owners and thus, your neighbors. Each condominium complex is a unique community and each owner accepts the rules and regulations that are equally unique to condo living.

Condos in Ballston 880 Condominium Unit 404 Pksp 260
Arlington

In a condominium complex, you also become part of a distinctive community where you as an individual become an integral part in the community as a whole; and this includes being an essential part of the decision making process. However, the advantages that come with shared communal facilities like the pool, clubhouse, and state-of-the-art gym are collectively a strong incentive to watch your neighbors’ back.

In summation, owning a condo can provide both economically sensible and personally enjoyable benefits to any owner looking to buy but especially for individuals who are single, working and fairly young professionals who are new to the game but ready for more. In addition, because of the multiplicity and vast assortment of condominium units and styles that are available, condo ownership includes something for everyone. Lastly, although buying a condo certainly signifies a new level of maturation and grownup responsibility; the advantages to living in a shared community and to be able to engage as an honest and responsible neighbor will hopefully serve you both by keeping your pocketbook and your sense of self a little more full.

Condominiums are found in all shapes, sizes, prices and types. Are you looking for a high-rise condo, a mid-rise or a garden-style condo? Maybe you'd prefer a townhouse?

The term "garden-style" condo usually refers to a condominium residence in a building that has less than three stories. Most garden-style condos have balconies or patios for each residence. Many garden-style condos have a main entrance that opens to a common-area hallway. Additional common areas include the green space and "gardens" surrounding the structures. If you're interested in garden-style condos you'll have a lot of options in Northern Virginia.

From the suburban feel of Kingstowne to the central location of Bolling Brook from the vintage charm of Belle View to the chic feel of Carlyle Square, are just some of the many Northern Virginia condominium communities we feature.


[read more]

Recent Listings

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

A Financial Plan for Your Home

You probably already have a financial plan for yourself in place. Most likely you sat down with an advisor at some point to set up a budget and diversify your investments. Or maybe you did it yourself online or at the dining room table. Either way, smart move.

But what about your home specifically, probably the biggest investment you’ll ever make in your life? Did you really take everything into account: repairs and upgrades, the mortgage, insurance, and taxes? Probably not.

Your house requires a financial plan of its own. Spend a weekend creating one. Once you have a handle on your home’s expenses you can devise a long-term strategy that’ll let you live there for years with maximum enjoyment and minimum anxiety. These are the four central elements you need to address.

The mortgage: Paying it—and then some

Yes, you already shell out a lot for your mortgage, but can you pay more? Even a little extra each month can add up. Let’s say you have $200,000 outstanding principal and a 20-year fixed-rate mortgage at 5%. Your monthly payment is $1,319.91. But if you can manage to pay another $100 a month, you’ll save $14,887 in interest. Run the numbers for yourself.

Alan D. Kahn, a financial planner in Syosset, N.Y., likes the idea of early payoff because lowering debt leaves you free to spend money elsewhere later on. There’s an emotional benefit as well. It can feel awfully good to own your house outright as soon as possible. And don’t fret too much about losing the mortgage interest deduction come tax time. Toward the tail end of the life of a loan most of your payment is going to the principal, not the interest.

Nevertheless, the same extra $100 might also go into a retirement plan every month, or be put aside for the inevitable home repairs (more on those later). Michael Kay, a financial planner in Livingston, N.J., says while a debt-free life may be enormously important to your peace of mind, an extra $1,200 toward your child’s college fund every year may feel even better. It’s about what’s ultimately important to you, both emotionally and financially.

Insurance: Protecting your property

You’ll want homeowners insurance with full replacement coverage in case your house is burned to the ground. This sounds simple, but be careful on the calculation. Remember that you own a house as well as the land on which it sits. So even though you bought your home for $300,000, it may cost only $100,000 to rebuild it. Your policy limits should reflect this.

The differences are regional. Where land is at a premium, like much of Southern California, a higher percentage of the purchase cost is for the property rather than the structure. Where land is cheap, like much of North Dakota, most of the value of a new house is the house itself. Don’t be deceived by shifts in market values. You may have bought a $1.2 million townhouse in Florida during the boom that now may only sell for $600,000. But the replacement cost of the townhouse hasn’t changed much, so you can’t cut insurance costs that way.

Do, however, try to cut costs by asking your insurance agent about discounts. Making structural improvements, such as adding storm shutters, can lead to lower rates. Membership is certain groups, such as AARP or veterans’ organizations, entitles some policyholders to breaks on premiums as well.

Repairs and renovations: By choice or necessity

Throughout the life of your house, you’ll be making two kinds of changes. The first is the fun kind, like a marble floor for the living room. The second is the essential, behind-the-scenes change: a new water heater. You don’t have a choice about when you’ll do the latter, but you can prepare for it financially.

It’s a good idea to have a rainy-day fund. Start with the inspection report you received when you bought the house. Did the inspector indicate that you would need a new roof in five years? A new furnace in 10? Get estimates on what these repairs will cost and start saving. Consider ongoing non-emergency maintenance too. Do you live in New England? Price a snow blower and get bids from plow services. Resist the temptation to take care of everything with home equity loans, which defeat efforts to pay off the mortgage early.

As for the discretionary upgrades, act prudently. Matthew P. Havens, a financial planner in Hingham, Mass., has seen too many people rationalizing lavish upgrades as an investment when they really were lifestyle decisions. According to Remodeling magazine, an upscale major kitchen upgrade, for example, could cost nearly $112,000, but only about 63% of that will be recouped in the home’s resale value. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t upgrade. If you can afford to redo your bathrooms, go ahead. Just don’t confuse your necessary repairs (new oil furnace—about $4,000) with your discretionary upgrades (Viking range—$6,000 and up).

Taxes: (Almost) no way around them

Taxes are an essential part of your home’s financial plan. The bank that holds your mortgage may already handle your real estate taxes with an escrow account. If so the expense is built into your monthly mortgage payment. Check your statements or call the lender. Otherwise create a dedicated fund for property taxes, which can run into the thousands of dollars annually.

You may be able to reduce your tax burden by getting a reassessment. Do your homework first. Are comparable houses taxed less than yours? Ask the local assessor what formula is used to set tax rates. Kay, the New Jersey financial planner, researched and then challenged the assessed value of his own home and got a 15% rollback.

If you’re in a special group, you might get some help from state or local programs. Check around to see what’s available in your area. New York State, for example, has its Star Program for giving senior citizens some relief from school-related property taxes.

Richard J. Koreto is a freelance writer. He has been editor of several professional financial magazines and is the author of “Run It Like a Business,” a practice management book for financial planners. He and his wife own a pre-Civil War house in Rockland County, N.Y.