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

2218 Traies Ct

Six bedroom (To include two, Master Bedrooms), four full bathroom home on a cul-de-sac with a private pool and extensive landscaping. Hardwoods throughout. In-law/Au pair suite. Two car, attached garage. Walking distance to bus line, public library, farmers market and elementary school. New electrical panel box and hot water heater, new window panes/springs and locks. Sprinkler system. [Kirkside - $664,850]

1139 Cedar Dale Ln

Gracious, charming and expansive Cape Cod on one of the most beautiful streets in Fort Hunt! Curb appeal for days; this is truly a gardeners and entertainers dream. This three level, three-bedroom, three full bath residence is nestled on a stunning .6-acre lot showcasing stunning floral gardens and professional landscaping. Exterior highlights of this magnificent home include a sparkling in-ground pool, a screened-in gazebo and a screened-in porch right off the kitchen. Walk up the brick path noting the incredible gardens and enter a lovely foyer. Relish the living room, wood-burning fireplace, and intimate dining area; all with gleaming hardwoods and charming architectural features. The main living level provides one level living if desired. Enjoy a sun-drenched massive owner~s suite with an updated master bath, floor to ceiling windows, and a laundry nook. Additional main level notable features include a handsomely laid-out kitchen, a beautiful breakfast nook with built-in cabinetry and an updated full bath with soaking tub. Exposed brick, a wood burning fireplace and soaring ceilings await your gatherings and are a few steps down from the main living level. Relish this spectacular Great room; striking in size and personality. French doors lead to the incredible grounds and patios galore! Note the incredible amount of storage on the upper level featuring an updated full bath and two amply sized bedrooms with built in dressers and a nook for an office, homework area or library. The lower level is highlighted by new luxury vinyl flooring and features a huge open space which is perfection for entertaining people of all ages! There is ample storage and a work area in the lower level as well. This is an exceptional and distinct offering which boasts truly outstanding entertaining and gathering places both inside and out. There is a carport, an oversized flagstone patio, a screened-in porch, and stone and brick patios all around the fully fenced yard!Fort Hunt is a hidden jewel of a community vibing like a small town, but so close to Old Town and Washington D.C. Steps to the George Washington Parkway and Bike Path, Fort Hunt Park and the Potomac River. Enjoy scenic commutes along the River to Old Town, Fort Belvoir, the District, the Pentagon and beyond. Many Fort Hunt residents bike commute to work, and many enjoy the 11Y commuter bus stopping in Old Town and Downtown D.C. Coveted Waynewood Elementary School District! [Wellington - $849,000]

7808 Frances Dr

One level living at its finest in Hybla Valley Farms! This single-family home sitting on a 1/2+ acre lot has 3 bedrooms and 1 full bath. The updated kitchen has granite and stainless appliances, a convenient breakfast bar and large breakfast area that opens to an inviting dining room. Gleaming hardwood floors throughout the home. Large living room and dining area. Spacious bedrooms and good sized closets. Updated bathroom. Utility room off kitchen, with brand new washer/dryer. Partially fenced backyard area, perfect for pets! Huge over-sized storage shed for convenience. This extremely large lot with mature trees is perfect for expansion. Tucked in between George Washington Parkway and Route 1, away from the hustle and bustle. The neighborhood is located~with close proximity to parks, nature trails, recreation center,~~shops, restaurants, Mt. Vernon Swim and Tennis Club, Mt. Vernon Bike Trail,~Inova~Mount Vernon Hospital, Sherwood Hall Library and much, much more.~~Favorite hot spots include an Italian restaurant, bistro,~Hollin~Hall Pastry Shop, and Village Hardware. Plus, the convenient Child Care Center and Senior Center make~life easier for parents and grandparents.~Commuters will enjoy easy access to the Huntington Metro,~GW~Parkway and I-95. Just minutes to Old Town Alexandria, Fort~Belvoir, Crystal City, Pentagon, Amazon's HQ2, Washington DC, MGM/National Harbor and National Airport. [Hybla Valley Farms - $419,900]

8201 Collingwood Ct

Beautiful 4 bedroom, 3.5 bath all-brick Colonial in an unbeatable location! Incredible craftsmanship with refinished hardwood floors, freshly painted walls, crown molding and built-ins. Enjoy a sunlit great room with vaulted ceilings and fireplace. The eat-in kitchen was remodeled in 2011 and all stainless appliances. The master bedroom has two large walk-in closets and a master bath with two vanities, shower enclosure with Moen shower system and jacuzzi tub. The beautiful back deck is the perfect place to enjoy the rest of the summer and early fall. A must see! [Collingwood Springs - $889,000]

7813 Oaklawn Dr

Welcome to this Sherwood Hall charmer, this home lives beautifully inside and out!Nestled on a large fourteen-thousand sq. ft. quiet corner lot, this spacious split level home offers four bedrooms, with two-and-a-half bathrooms.Updated throughout with an open floor plan and a lush backyard, you can just move right in and hang the pictures and enjoy!Step through the front door into the bright and open living room, dining room combination. Enjoy sunlight pouring through a large living room picture window, with gleaming hardwood floors and freshly painted throughout.The recently remodeled kitchen, features granite countertops, 42-inch cabinets, a deep farmhouse sink, white appliances, a tiled backsplash, and ceramic tile flooring overlooking the backyard.The large day-lit lower level family room with all new flooring has a delightful fireplace perfect for the upcoming cool fall and winter evenings, the fourth bedroom is also located on the lower level, and a half-bath, with access to the back yard.Relax, barbecue, garden and rejuvenate in the back yard! A nice long driveway leads to a convenient carport with access to the back yard and two sheds. The neighborhood is located with close proximity to parks, nature trails, recreation center, shops, restaurants, Mt. Vernon Swim and Tennis Club, Mt. Vernon Bike Trail, Inova Mount Vernon Hospital, Sherwood Hall Library and much, much more.Favorite hot spots include an Italian restaurant, bistro, Hollin Hall Pastry Shop, and Village Hardware. Plus, the convenient Child Care Center and Senior Center make life easier for parents and grandparents.Commuters will enjoy easy access to the Huntington Metro, GW Parkway and I-95. Just minutes to Old Town Alexandria, Fort Belvoir, DC, and Maryland. [Sherwood Hall - $549,000]

7612 Woodridge Cir

Lux elegance through out this home. All custom built by the areas best craftsman. Each cabinet and builtin was designed and installed by master carpenters. Attention to detail throughout. Unparalled quality in each room. 2 master suites one on main level. All BR's have insuite baths. Two Laundry room on main and upper level, High ceilings on main and upper level. Inviting back porch overlooking professionally landscaped grounds with something for all seasons. Viking and Meile appliances with 2 dishwashers, Marble baths, sprinkler system, generator. 3 zone HVAC. Nothing like this perfection! [Wellington Heights - $1,599,000]

2211 Wittington Blvd

Price Adjustment! Welcome home to this charming Raised Rambler in the Mt. Vernon Area. Close to the Potomac River, this 5 bedroom house features a Large Bonus room in basement, beautiful hardwood floors, fireplace, and Large Kitchen/Dining combination that flows into Living Room. Near GW Pkwy, biking/jogging trails and Fort Hunt Park. Convenient to DC, Old Town Alexandria, Belvoir, and DCA. [Stratford Landing - $534,900]

8923 Battery Rd

Pristine and move-in-ready, this captivating home is a must have for every family to experience here in Alexandria, VA. Featuring 4 Beds, 2.5 baths and an adorable and comfortable living space that never fell short of style an elegance, capturing the very essence of the phrase "Home Sweet Home". Hardwood floors stretching from the living area to the kitchen, complemented with elegant furnitures, breathes life into this lovely home.The kitchen with granite top counters, stainless steel appliances, accented by wooden cabinets is certainly is to die for!Sitting on 0.31 Acres of land, the home offers a backyard paradise. Perfect for all outdoor activities with friends and family for all occassions.Set in a very strategic location as it is close to almost everything. Excellent access to schools, parks, groceries, you name it! And also close to public transportation. (For SA: Bus and Huntington metro as well as GW parkway)Let us help you experience this magnificent home! [Potomac Valley - $599,900]

8012 Candlewood Dr

Traditional colonial offering updates and 3 finished levels! Updated kitchen, with eat-in kitchen area on main level, along with formal dining and living rooms. The upper level boasts 4 bedrooms and 2 updated bathrooms. The walk-out lower level offers a recreation room with fireplace, office, bedroom and full bathroom. The rear yard is perfect for kicking a soccer ball, or enjoying family BBQ's. A screened in porch and patio also make up the backyard. Convenient to Route 1, D.C, shopping, dining and more! [Kirk - $675,000]

8000 Scott Pl

Darling Hollin Hall rambler has been completely updated since 2010 including the roof, windows, floors, driveway, mechanical systems and more. Spacious kitchen has granite countertops, ample cabinet space, stainless steel appliances and access to a 150 SF deck overlooking a large fully fenced, flat backyard with mature shade trees. Originally three bedrooms, the floor plan has been altered to allow for a dining room, which can easily be converted back as desired. Lots of storage including an attached shed and pull down attic space. This house is ideally located on a quiet cul de sac just three blocks from Hollin Hall shopping center and minutes from Old Town, DC and metro. [Hollin Hall Village - $459,000]

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.