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

8911 Fort Hunt Rd

Luxury living on a huge 1/2 acre lot in Alexandria~s premier 22308 zip code! Pre-Construction Opportunity ~ Nov/Dec 2019 Delivery. Visit our decorated Chapman model in Fairfax. Craftsman inspired, open concept kitchen to huge great room with coffered ceiling and fireplace. 3 way staircase is a unique custom design. The Gourmet Kitchen features stainless appliances and granite countertops. Formal Living, Dining, Study and large Mud Rm on Main level. Incredible Owner~s Suite with spacious Owner~s Bath. In Law Suite available on main level and 5th Bedroom w/ bathroom available for upper level. Personalize this Chapman model to fit your desired flow and lifestyle with a contract by May 31st. Waynewood Elementary! [Plymouth Haven - $1,424,900]

7710 Ridgecrest Dr

This elegant home is truly an entertainer's paradise. Cul-de-sac location, features a gorgeous in-ground pool on almost .6 acres of pristine, landscaped and fenced privacy.Almost 7,000 square feet of fine finishes welcome you to this warm and upscale residence. Marvel at dramatic entry way with walls of windows and full home-length flagstone front porch. As you enter the residence, note the dramatic two-story foyer highlighted with beautiful lighting. Three beautifully finished levels, with an elevator, features a first-class wine cellar and three grand fireplaces. Enjoy (7) bedrooms and 7.5 beautifully renovated baths highlighted by an open concept eat-in chef~s kitchen boasting high-end appliances and gorgeous custom cabinetry.The main level has a main level bedroom which is fully wired to work as an in-home office, a formal living room, formal dining room, a great room that open to the eat-in chef~s kitchen and a sunroom, two gorgeous stone fireplaces, a butler~s pantry, and screened-in-porch. The bedroom level features an owner~s suite with gorgeous built-ins, walk-in closet with a custom system and a luxurious en-suite master bath. Enjoy access to the upper level deck and the separate guest suite over the garage. You will find a total of four bedrooms and 3 full baths on the bedroom level, joined together by an attractive open walkway. The private guest-suite over the garage also has a separate entrance from the ground level. The suite features a family room, efficiency kitchen, bedroom and 2 full baths.The lower level features a family room, a wine cellar, another guest suite, a laundry room, storage room, a full bathroom and a stone fireplace. The lush grounds stun with striking landscaping, a full-length pool with a hot tub and multiple decks. There is a two-car garage and tons of parking space.Enjoy Waynewood Elementary School district and all that the Fort Hunt Community has to offer. Steps to the George Washington Bike Path with great commuting options. [Wellington - $1,550,000]

1802 Jamestown Rd

RED ALERT! Hollin Hall home in need of your customization. Expanded model to include sunroom addition off the kitchen and large master including double closets and bump out to backyard views. Flat backyard on a quiet street just around the corner from Mount Vernon Park. Livable but in need of TLC. [Hollin Hall Village - $399,900]

8218 Riverside Rd

Beautiful center hall Colonial with almost 3,500 sf of living space. Au pair/in law suite with kitchen, rec room and sauna on lower level. Renovated kitchen opens to family room with fireplace. Master bedroom with large walk in closet and newer master bath. New second bath on upper level, new carpeting and freshly painted. Private fenced in back yard with deck off family room. Walk to schools, close to shopping, bike path and parks. [Riverside - $759,495]

1224 Morningside Ln

Great home located in the Waynewood School District, south of Old Town, east of the Potomac River and the Mount Vernon Trail. Just a short commute to DC, Pentagon, and Ft Belvior. Exterior features a huge spacious front lawn with a long driveway leading up to the house where you can comfortably park 3 cars. Spacious fenced in backyard, new vinyl fence, and brick patio. Main level is light-filled and spacious. It features large open living/dining area, kitchen has been updated with granite countertop and stainless steel appliances, three generously sized bedroom, and updated bathroom. Step down to the middle level which features a large open family room with exit to the front driveway, back patio, or garge. This is a multi-purpose room that can be used for many things. Let your imagination run wild! Lower level has the laundry area, a full bath, and a recreation room with charming original hardwood floors. Other features include gas fireplace, built-in bookcases, recessed lighting, tiered backyard, and more. Come and check it out today! [Wellington Heights - $650,000]

8801 Camden St

Fantastic one level contemporary with open floor plan on large corner lot. Newer kitchen opens to dining room and den/play room. Hardwood floors throughout. Rear deck to large fenced yard is great for entertaining. Carport attached to home. Close proximity to GW bike trails and newly renovated community pool across the street. Pool membership can be purchased with home. [Stratford Landing - $625,000]

2208 Basset St

Bring your kayak and canoe! Truly special property overlooking and backing to tidal creek on quiet cul-de-sac in premiere Stratford location. This solid brick 6 bedroom, 3 bath home with bright open floor plan and gorgeous refinished hardwood floors has been freshly painted inside and out and is in turn key condition. Features include: Large room sizes, updated kitchen and baths, two story entry foyer, finished lower level with direct outside entrance and garage parking. Spacious patio off lower level plus elevated deck provides sweeping views of fabulous fenced back yard and creek. Uniquely attractive property! [Stratford Landing - $725,000]

8203 Mack St

This stately brick front Colonial has been thoughtfully maintained and features many attractive renovations. Recent updates were carefully completed with premium materials by experienced professionals. A cedar-edged brick walkway leads to the columned front porch with new portico and railings. Both formal and casual spaces for entertaining are found on the main level where an open concept kitchen, family room and adjacent sunroom are the heart of this home - each space contributing a particular ambiance. The completely renovated kitchen is complemented by a breakfast room beaming with light from the bay window. Highlights of the refreshed kitchen include granite counters, Travertine backsplash, pendant and chandelier lighting fixtures, premium porcelain floors, and a granite bar with glass-front cabinets. The kitchen steps down into the cozy family room with a wood-burning fireplace and leads to the adjacent sunroom. Vaulted ceilings and a Palladian window create an airy, serene space that overlooks the landscaped backyard with a perfect view of the sunset from the large deck. On the upper level, double doors lead to a spacious master suite with vaulted ceilings where light pours in from double skylights. A charming sitting area, two large walk-in closets, double vanities with new lighting fixtures, a jacuzzi tub, and an expanded tile shower complete this suite. There is no shortage of storage space at 8203 Mack St. The home offers many large closets, a finished basement with two large rooms for stowing items, and a sizable two car garage. [Collingwood Manor - $1,150,000]

2412 Childs Ln

Move-in ready home in great neighborhood with vast potential! Functional floor plan with large living & dining rooms featuring beautiful hardwoods & large, newer, energy efficient windows. The eat-in kitchen has been updated w/new cabinets & granite. Lovely master w/walk-in closet & en-suite bath. Finished LL w/rec room, built-ins, bar & wood burning fireplace. Beautiful backyard landscaping, deck, screened porch, and two large sheds. Roof is only 2.5 years old, and house comes with a piped-in natural gas generator capable of carrying the house. Garage. [Stratford On the Potomac - $624,000]

8702 Camden St

Open, natural-light filled floor plan highlighted by wonderful kitchen with desirable central island including wine cabby & cooler for entertaining & gathering; striking quartz counter-tops; brand new appliances; enviable pantry with pull out drawers; adjoining deck for grilling; elegant lighting throughout; lovely red oak wood floors on main; tasteful ship-lap accents in kitchen and recreation room; the three full bathrooms include Carrera marble vanity tops (double in master); stylish tiling, frameless glass shower doors; Master BR has walk-in closet (shoe lover~s dream); lower recreation room opens to bonus sun-room overlooking massive flat backyard; tons of storage inside & out; 2 car garage; 4 car carport. [Riverside Park - $774,900]

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

 

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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.
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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]

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

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