New Construction Buying Tip

serving condo owners, sellers and buyers in Northern VA
Nothern Virginia Condo Experts

If you’re thinking of buying a newly-built condo or new house, you probably already know that every new development will have its own sales staff. These people are often friendly, helpful and very knowledgeable about the new development. However, these folks work to sell this property only, because the sale staff works for the builder. The on-site staff of a new condominium knows the property as-well-as or better than anyone around and they are there to assist you but they work for the builder. The staff at a new home development probably knows the property very well, but they will tell you want the builder wants you to know.

When in the market for a new construction, it’s a good idea to work with a Realtor who is there to protect your interests. A Nesbitt Realty agent knows the entire area, not just one development. If you have your own Realtor you can trust that you’ll understand the pitfalls and benefits of buying new. Best of all it doesn’t cost you one dime more than if you use the onsite staff. You have a right to representation: exercise that right today!

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“Using a real estate agent is a very good idea,” says the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). “All the details involved in home buying [and selling], particularly the financial ones, can be mind-boggling. A good professional can guide you through the entire process and make the experience much easier.”

Selecting the right professional is the key to a successful real estate transaction. Better than working with a simple real estate agent, you’ll want the services of a Realtor®.

What’s the Difference Between a Real Estate Agent and a Realtor?

More than two million people have earned real estate licenses but only a small percentage of these are Realtors. Realtors are members in good standing of the National Association of Realtors, their state association of Realtors and a local real estate board. Realtors are held to high standards of ethical behavior and must undergo continuing education annually to remain accredited.

All agents of Nesbitt Realty are Realtors!

What Does a Realtor Do?

Realtors are required by law to:

  • perform necessary and customary acts to assist in the purchase or sale of real estate.
  • perform these acts in good faith and with reasonable care.
  • properly account for money or other property placed in his or her care.
  • disclose “adverse material facts” which are, or should be, within the agent’s knowledge.

Realtors can help buyers pre-qualify for mortgages and keep abreast of the latest home listings. They can assist sellers in preparing their homes and screening potential buyers. They can show investors the properties that fit their risk profiles and long-term investment strategies.

Nesbitt Realty can quickly locate the perfect home for you, or sell your home in the shortest possible time frame. Our agents can efficiently organize and coordinate meetings with potential buyers and sellers.

A Nesbitt Realty Realtor will be well acquainted with the important things you’ll want to know about the neighborhood you may be considering:

  • the quality of schools,
  • the safety of the community,
  • traffic volume,
  • price,
  • Metro accessibility
  • nearby parks and attractions

Our agents have immediate access to homes as soon as they are put on the market, saving you hours of wasted drive-around time. When you’re ready to make an offer on a house, our Realtor will help structure the deal to save you money. He or she will explain the advantages and disadvantages of different types of mortgages and guide you through the mounds of paperwork.

When it comes to selling your home, a Realtor will save you time and aggravation. Their commission will vary depending on your location. Realtors pay for all advertising, schedule all open houses and make sure potential buyers are qualified. The money they can save you is often more than the cost of their commissions.


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

Scrutinizing the Henry’s Location / About Old Town

The Henry is a brand new condominium community located in Old Town Alexandria—sort of . . .

The builder will tell you that the Henry is in Old Town Alexandria and this is almost completely true. But the truth of that statement that really comes down to how you define Old Town.

If you define Old Town as the 22314 Zip Code then the Henry is in Old Town without question. Addresses in 22314 run from Slaters Lane in the North, along the Potomac and down to the Beltway. The western boundary of this zip code runs along the train tracks over toward Telegraph Road. That means that 22314 includes the Carlyle District (which is anything but “old”), Potomac Greens (a fairly new subdivision), and other parts of the city which are not really historic Old Town Alexandria. Please reference the map provided by Yahoo to get an idea of the subtle differences in the Old Town area.

Yahoo Map
This map is provided by Yahoo! Please click the image to see the map on Yahoo.

If you look close at the map, you’ll see that Yahoo divides the 22314 Zip code into these neighborhoods:

  • Old Town North — Home to Canal Place, Abingdon Row, Watergate of Alexandria, Old Town North mostly looks like Old Town, but most homes here date from after 1980 and 1990.
  • Northeast Alexandria — This is an area of tightly-packed colonial-style townhomes that were built in the 1980’s in developments like Nethergate. There are also newer communities straddling Slaters Lane like Potomac Greens and Old Town Crescent.
  • Braddock Road Metro — This is the neighborhood where the Henry is located. More below.
  • Old Town — This is the heart of Old Town. It’s where you’ll find the shops homes and restaurants that make Old Town such a desirable place to live.
  • Southwest Quadrant — This is a neighborhood composed mostly of modest brick rowhouses and townhouses that were constructed in the middle of the last century. These well-built, conveniently situated homes have little cachè that you’ll find in the waterfront homes and stately villas in Old Town.
  • Eisenhower East — The Carlyle area is mostly newly built high-rises surrounding the campus of the USPTO.

I don’t know if these neighborhood names are constructs of some data provider for Yahoo or if they are from some census-related information, but these little neighborhoods are fairly accurately defined even if they don’t exactly match-up to what people call them here on the ground. The Henry is in Braddock Road Metro in an area that included some of the least desirable addresses in this Zip code. This neighborhood is well-served by the Braddock Road Metro Station and that’s always a big plus to real estate values in Northern Virginia. Many homes here are just a few blocks from King Street and a pick-up point for the King Street Trolley, so the question is what made this neighborhood less desirable?

Firstly the big obvious difference is the waterfront. One of the elements of life that makes Old Town living special is proximity to the Potomac River. Ford’s Landing, Cameron Mews and the Torpedo Factory offer homes that are at or near the water’s edge and the Mount Vernon Trail. The Henry is not close to the waterfront and you’ll have to cross a couple of busy streets to get to the Potomac.

The next difference is access to King Street. People like living a few paces from King Street because there are so many restaurants and boutiques along King Street. This is even more true at thew waterfront. The Henry is only a few blocks from King Street so that is a plus. The Braddock Road neighborhood has almost nothing of commercial interest, whereas Old Town, Carlyle, and even Slater’s Lane have some interesting options for shopping and dining. This may change as the neighborhood develops but for now, it is what it is.

The next big difference is public housing. The 22314 zip code has long had a cluster of public housing that straddled Route 1 (Patrick and Henry Streets) and much of that housing was/is located in close proximity to the Braddock Road Metro. About 10 years ago a large chunk of Alexandria’s public housing was destroyed and redeveloped as Chatham Square. That development was so successful that the city is now pushing forward with Old Town Commons. To that end blocks of subsidized housing have been destroyed to make way for Old Town Commons. Until that construction is completed I expect that the appearance and value of the neighborhood will be diminished.

Lastly, this area was (like much of Old Town North and even Old Town) formerly a light-industrial neighborhood. For example the Torpedo Factory was at one time a place where actual torpedoes were built. Today the Torpedo Factory Art Center and the Torpedo Factory condos occupy the same space and some of Alexandria’s priciest real estate. Time will tell if the transition is as remarkable at the Henry, but the odds are in favor of this becoming a successful and highly desirable neighborhood.

View Larger Map

The street view of the Henry looks almost surreal it’s so pleasant, but turn the map to view across the street and you’ll see the warehouses. The good news is that one day these will probably be gone. The bad news is that what replaces them will probably block the view.


What every purchaser should know about title insurance

Here are some of the basics about title insurance:

1. Every mortgage lender requires title insurance. Title insurance protects the lender and the secondary markets to which they sell the loans from defects in the title to your home and property. It ensures the validity and enforceability of the mortgage document. Title defects could include mistakes made in the local property office, forged documents and claims from unknown parties. The amount of the policy is equal to the amount of your mortgage at its inception. You pay a one-time fee as part of your closing costs. If you are purchasing a home, you should also purchase an owner’s policy which provides coverage up to the purchase price of the home you are buying. In some states it is customary for the seller to purchase the owner’s policy on your behalf.

2. You have the right to choose your title insurance provider! You can shop around for a lower insurance premium rate on line at sites, or you can also ask your lender or real estate professional for help in getting quotes.

3. Check the companies out before you select one. Make sure the title insurance company you choose has a favorable Financial Stability Rating® with Demotech, Inc., the leading title insurance rating company.

4. It’s easy to save money on title insurance. Request quotes from a few companies and then reach out and speak to them. Ask about hidden fees and charges which could make one quote seem more attractive than another. Ask about discounts. There are often discounts available if you are refinancing and sometimes even when you are purchasing if the current policy issued to the seller on the property isn’t too old.

5. Even new construction needs coverage. Even though the home is new, the land isn’t. There may be claims to the land or liens placed during the construction which could negatively impact your home.

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

Homebuilding Soars to Highest Level in 4 Years

Housing starts surged in February as well as future permits for future construction to the highest levels since 2008 — a sign that the new-home market is picking up steam just in time for the spring buying season, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday.

Overall housing starts rose 0.8 percent in February to a 917,000 annual rate. Single-family housing starts, which make up the biggest bulk of that total, reached their highest level since June 2008. Meanwhile, multifamily starts rose 1.4 percent in February to 299,000 units.

“Demand for new homes and apartments is definitely rising as the spring buying season approaches and more young people move out on their own,” said Rick Judson, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders. “Builders are responding to this improved demand by putting more crews back to work and pulling more permits for future construction, though this positive activity is being constrained  by continuing issues with appraisals and credit availability for both builders and buyers, and also by newly arising challenges such as lot shortages and increased costs for labor and materials.”

While housing starts have shown a big improvement in the past year, economists say that homebuilding is still less than half of what it was during its prerecession peak and is near levels in the early 1990s.

Source: National Association of Home Builders and “Housing Starts at Highest Level Since 2008,” Reuters (March 19, 2013)

Are you looking for a new condo or a newly built home? The on-site staff works for the builder. Our brokerage represents the buyer's interests and doesn't work for the builder. Start your search here to see our suggestions.

Nesbitt Realty doesn't work for the builder. We work for you and we'll help you find the best new home for you. Best of all there is no charge to the buyer for our services!

Home Ownership Is Within More Americans’ Reach

Low interest rates helped keep housing affordability high in the final quarter of 2012, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index released on Thursday.

Nearly 75 percent of homes sold between October and the end of December were affordable to families earning the median income of $65,000.

“The most recent housing affordability data should be encouraging to many prospective home buyers, because it shows that home ownership remains within reach of median-income consumers even as most local markets appear to be on a recovery path,” says NAHB Chairman Rick Judson.

The median price of all new and existing homes sold in the fourth quarter of 2012 was $188,000.

“It is noteworthy that affordability remains historically high thanks to favorable mortgage rates even as national home price indexes show some rise in values,” says NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe.

The nation’s most affordable major housing market? For the second-consecutive quarter, it’s Ogden-Clearfield, Utah, according to the index. Nearly 94 percent of all home sales there were affordable to families earning the median household income of $71,500. Other affordable major housing markets were Dayton, Ohio; Indianapolis-Carmel, Ind.; Lakeland-Winter Haven, Fla.; and Syracuse, N.Y.

Meanwhile, the most expensive major housing market remains San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, Calif. Twenty-eight percent of homes sold in San Francisco during the fourth quarter were affordable to families earning the area’s median income of $103,000, according to the index.

Source: National Association of Home Builders

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A critical look at the Henry in Old Town Alexandria

condos in Old Town Alexandria
Will Nesbitt stands inside of this model home at the Henry in Old Town Alexandria.

The Henry is a brand new condominium development in Old Town Alexandria. Most condos are at the Henry are ready for delivery and construction is nearly complete. The builder’s representatives that we know and have worked with at the Henry are professional, knowledgeable, honest and hard-working, but it’s their job to represent the builder’s interest and it’s their job to tell you why the Henry is a great place to live. As buyer’s representatives, it’s our job to learn as much about your needs as possible to make recommendations that make sense for your specific needs. That’s one of the reason I like to take a look at the worst parts of a community first. Every home for sale on the market has advantages, but it’s not the advantages of a property that make the sale. Buyers buy homes when they can make peace with the worst parts of living at a particular address.

  • More about why I'm writing this article?

    It may interest the reader to know that I was contacted yesterday by a buyer who is currently living overseas in Switzerland. This potential client is familiar with Northern Virginia but doesn’t know exactly where or what to buy just yet. Everyday we help people like this find homes in Alexandria and Northern Virginia. For their benefit I’m going to put together a few opinions and facts about the types of homes that most interest them.

    This particular buyer is looking for brand-new construction in Old Town Alexandria. At a start hat criteria makes a very short list. This is because brand-new construction is not common in an area that is one of the oldest and most historic settlements in Northern Virginia. The list of developments that are under construction or just completed includes the Henry, Old Town Commons, the Oronoco, and 900 N. Washington. I am also recommending that this buyer take a look at the Eclipse (nearby in Crystal City), Potomac Yard (just north of Old Town) and the Carlyle District (which if not new, is nearly new).

    As time permits I’m going to make public some of the thoughts I’m going to share with this client, in the hopes that it will not only benefit this client but others who might be looking for similar opportunities.

One can find glowing details about the amenities and features of the Henry, as well as information about models that are on sale now elsewhere on this site or by talking to builder’s representatives. But what people really want to know is “what’s the catch?”. My clients often say, “Tell me the worst things about this purchase and I’ll make the decision about whether this is a good buy for me or not.”

So, I’m providing this is a critical look at the Henry and the value of what a buyer might find at the Henry.


New contruction? Here’s a buyer’s tip …

If you’re thinking of buying a new construction in your next home, you probably already know that every new home development will have its own sales staff. These people are often friendly, helpful and very knowledgeable about the newly built home. However, these folks work to sell this property only. The on-site staff of a builder knows the property as-well-as or better than anyone around and they are there to assist you but they work for the builder.

When in the market for a newly built home, it’s a good idea to employ your own advocate, an agent who does not work for the builder, to look out for your interests. We don’t work for the builder … we work for you. Our agents know the entire area, not just one property. We know the pitfalls and benefits of buying new, and best of all it won’t cost you one dime more than if you use the onsite staff. You have a right to representation:exercise that right today!