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

8230 La Faye Ct

Beautiful 3-level townhome in sought-after neighborhood! Updated kitchen with breakfast nook, leads to a large deck - perfect for relaxing or to enjoy your morning coffee! Upper level features huge master bedroom with updated ensuite bathroom & ample closet space. Second bedroom used to be two rooms - new owner could have option to add drywall back to create two spacious bedrooms! Walkout lower level has lovely fireplace and wet bar, with full bathroom & third well-lit bedroom with two egress windows. Lots of storage and closets! Includes 2 parking spaces. Community features pool, tennis courts, playgrounds & walking trails. Close to Old Town, Fort Belvoir & Mt. Vernon Parkway, as well as tons of shops & restaurants! This home is a must-see - come look for yourself! Please park in spaces marked 145 for showings! Lots more photos coming soon! [Huntington At Mt Vernon - $485,000]

1503 River Farm Dr

Grand Colonial residence with a commanding street presence and quality construction. Potomac River views from the extensive multiple decks that overlook a half acre flat lot. The deck stretches from one side to the other and is nearly 1,000 square feet. Indoor and outdoor space combined amounts to almost 7,000 square feet. Blends luxurious contemporary finishes with classic architectural styling. Impressive ability to accommodate a variety of lifestyles and generations. Sweeping driveway opens to an oversized 4 car garage; obviously great for your cars but also ideal for additional storage needs. Designed to maximize the indoor and outdoor connection with multiple decks and patio space for comfortable entertaining. Generous dimensions throughout the home finished with neutral colors and most accented with crown molding, chair rail, and recessed lighting. The soaring ceilings of the two-story foyer entryway welcome guests and is illuminated by a new designer chandelier. A gourmet white kitchen built for function and flexibility; KitchenAid appliances, granite countertops, an abundance of cabinet storage, breakfast island for quick meals and center island for meal prep. Family room with beamed ceilings, custom built-in shelves, and cabinets, and a wood burning fireplace adjoins the kitchen and flows into the living. Living and dining rooms are versatile settings for more formal occasions or just a casual dinner party. Extend those dinner party conversations to the bonus rooms found on this level; second family room with wood burning fireplace that seamlessly flows into a barroom ideal for the ending the day with a nightcap. The upper level can be accessed by a front or back staircase. Five graciously sized bedrooms on this level with plush carpeting, high ceilings, and four with ensuite bathrooms. Master with access to its own private deck, and boast two walk-in closets, two separate vanities, two commodes, and separate shower room for added privacy. Master bedroom features a programmable thermostat that controls all three HVAC zones on the level essential for ideal comfort throughout. Laundry on bedroom level for added convenience. Walkout lower level is completely finished and presents large rec/games rooms areas, the homes 6th bedroom, a full bath, and ~hobby~ room or office. Sliding glass doors on the lower level bring in natural light and lead to the patio. Located less than 100 yards to the Mount Vernon Trail and Potomac River.~ mile to popular Fort Hunt Park to enjoy ball fields, trails, pavilions or visiting the National Horse Stables. Quick drive to Fort Belvoir, Old Town or Mount Vernon Estate. View across the river, which is especially noticeable in the fall/winter season, will never be obstructed since it is a government park; Piscataway National Park. [River Bend Estates - $1,350,000]

8329 Woodacre St

Located in the sought after community of Fort Hunt, 8329 Woodacre Street, Alexandria, VA 22308 was built for entertaining. You are greeted by the welcoming two-story foyer which features a beautiful curved staircase. The main floor features a den/study, powder room, hardwood floors, living room with wood burning fireplace, and formal dining room. The family room, kitchen, and eating area offers a large open floor plan with cathedral ceilings and another wood burning fireplace located in the family room. You have easy access to the pool and patio areas; perfect for enjoying the summer and entertaining. Laundry is conveniently located off the kitchen, making it easy to multi-task. Upstairs greets you with a large master suite which includes a sitting area, walk-in closet, whirlpool tub, and separate shower. Three additional bedrooms and one full bath complete this level. New carpet throughout this level. The fully finished basement, with new carpet, lends itself perfectly for a pool table or movie night. Two other large rooms are ideal for a craft room or media room. Each includes a good sized closet. A full bath and utility room round out this area. The oversized garage provides plenty of storage for tools and pool equipment. The central location makes commuting to work easy in all directions. Take the GW Parkway to Old Town, DC and points north, or head south to Fort Belvoir, Lorton, and Quantico. Closest Metro stations are Huntington and Franconia/Springfield. Price reflects condition. [Collingwood Springs - $860,000]

8300 Centerbrook Pl

Welcome to the stately home of 8300 Centerbrook Place, located in the highly desirable neighborhood of Manors at Mount Vernon! This home has been carefully cared for with over 3,400 square feet of living space on three levels. Enjoy fresh paint in the entry, and a formal sitting room and dining room with large bay windows. The kitchen features upgraded countertops, a large island, and eat-in dining space. It is open to the family room, which overlooks the deck, screened-in porch, and well-manicured backyard. Upstairs you will find an oversized master bedroom with attached master bath, two walk-in closets, and a jetted bathtub. There are also 3 additional bedrooms and a full bath on this upper level. Walk downstairs to a spacious recreational room and walkout access to the backyard, additional full bath, and a huge storage area. This premier community is within close proximity to schools, shopping, Fort Hunt Park, bike trails, and much more. Its prime location makes for an easy drive to the GW Parkway, D.C., Fort Belvoir, the Pentagon, and new the Amazon HQ in Crystal City. [Manors At Mount Vernon - $899,000]

8205 Collingwood Ct

Located on a quiet cul-de-sac in Fairfax Co Alexandria, this well-designed home is built w/ thoughtful details and unique touches, including spacious rooms, bountiful windows/skylights throughout allowing for floods of natural light, gorgeous millwork, vaulted/cathedral ceilings, 2-story/+11ft. ceilings, ornate light fixtures, & large lot. A great opportunity. [Collingwood - $819,900]

8209 Doctor Craik Ct

3 full level all brick town home with renovated, open style kitchen, 3 BR & 2 full BA upstairs; Den/Study and full bath in basement w/ rec room and walk-out to the wooded area behind. Located in the wonderful Briary Farms neighborhood, near the Mt Vernon Hospital. Easy commute to Ft Belvoir, Old Town Alexandria and DC via the GW parkway, which also has the biking/joggging trail along the Potomac River. Just minutes away from the metro, or take the nearby local bus service. [Briary Farms Townhomes - $485,000]

1911 Cool Spring Dr

12.5K price reduction! Come vacation from home in this wonderful 4-level split level (private master suite on the top floor), featuring lots of updates, sunny Florida room and peaceful back yard with an in-ground pool. Just .4 miles to Stratford Landing Elementary. Meticulously cared-for by long-time owners, including lots recently: paint thru-out, light switches and door handles, many lights, furnace, sump pump, hot water heater, master bath vanity/light, A/C coils, pool pump. Previously, replacement windows, siding, sun room addition. Huge floored attic w/ easy access; shed, too. Very well-maintained, but comes with an HMS warranty for further peace of mind. [Collingwood Springs - $682,500]

8410 Blakiston Ln

Don't miss your chance to see this beautiful waterfront home on Little Hunting Creek before it's gone! With a large, light filled floor plan great for entertaining it surely won't last long. The home features a lovely addition including a family room, eating area, and separate laundry room/pantry with so much extra storage. Walk out from the addition to the full length deck that has sweeping views of the water! The kitchen leads you to a separate formal dining room and even more living space. For the avid chef this home boasts a gas range with a trivection oven. There is beautiful hardwood flooring throughout both the main and upper level living spaces. Flowering trees, bushes and perennial blooms dazzle with new colors popping up in Spring, Summer, and Fall! The floor plan can easily be converted back to a 6 bedroom by anyone looking for a home with a main level master. Cast a line from your own back yard, or hop in a canoe to enjoy a relaxing ride to watch the majestic great blue heron, osprey, and great egrets just outside your door. Easy access to everything including Old town Alexandria and DC from this amazing location. Seller offering home warranty. New price below appraised value! [Stratford On the Potomac - $815,000]

2215 Collingwood Rd

Your search is over. This delightful home features oversized rooms with treed views and showcases beautiful hardwood floors throughout the main and upper levels. The upgraded kitchen with bay window offers granite counters, cherrywood cabinets, stainless-steel appliances and nice fixtures and hardware. Gracious living room with French doors that open to lovely three-tiered deck and parkland with basketball court and tot-lot. Large family room with a fireplace and impressive red oak mantle is next to a spacious guest bedroom with walk-in closet and full bath. Spacious, lighted master bedroom with large sitting area and upgraded master bath. Two additional bedrooms and a bath with large linen and cedar closets on upper level. Large usable basement with storage and play/work areas. Just moments to the George Washington Parkway, Mount Vernon and the scenic Mount Vernon bike path. This home is conveniently located with easy access to Old Town Alexandria and a short drive to National Harbor and National Airport. A must see. [Williamsburg Manor North - $684,900]

910 Dalebrook Dr

Captivating home recently remodeled in upscale community of Waynewood with over 3,400 square feet of living space. Spacious airy updated kitchen w/ stainless steel appliances, granite countertops and one of a kind brick wall w/fireplace. Spacious Bedrooms and Den. Large Trex Deck overlooks yard. Close to community pool. Awesome commute along the GW Parkway to Old Town, DC, Belvoir & Pentagon.5,000 Closing Cost Assistance if Purchaser uses Seller's Preferred Lender- [Waynewood - $860,000]

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.