Every buyer has a different journey when it comes to finding the place they will call home. The scarcity of houses on the market is something that makes the house hunt more of a struggle lately. At the closing table today, I remarked to the buyer clients pictured above that they had seen relatively few homes before having success. They said it felt like more.
This family was connected with me in October by their father/father-in-law, a past client who sold with me, moved to Florida and pursued a second career in real estate. Between our first home tour and when they found their home, we saw a total of only eight homes. Those were over the course of six house hunting days. They would see something of interest, we would take a look. Some houses were easy to make an instant no for a decision. Some were homes required more pondering. Of course, in the time it may take to consider it overnight, the thought provoking home would be under contract. In a seller’s market, homes move fast. In the 2021-2022 market, homes seem to be moving in a matter of hours. It can be soul crushing.
One thing that was the most helpful was the local father/father-in-law who is a licensed contractor, coming on home tours with us. Contractor dad stole my heart when he called himself the Dream Crusher. That’s my line! There is never a hard sell in my world. Buyers get reality checks about work needed and cost to do it, commute times and more that often have me dubbing myself the Dream Crusher.
Contractor dad was able to give the important things a look and give his blessing or advice to move on. This made it easy to move forward with the one when we found it with no home inspection, just well and septic inspections.
While it may have felt like a lot of disappointment in offers not made on potential houses that they slept on, this family wrote only one offer and nailed it, just like their family members did with me last year. One offer and done! I am so excited for them, especially their daughter. Word at the settlement table was she woke up at 6:15am today, excited out of her mind because it was “house day.” She now gets a room all to herself. You have to love that happy ending.
If you need help finding a home, reach out and let’s get started.
It seems as though the outer suburbs of Northern Virginia, anywhere from Gainesville to Fredericksburg, agents on both the listing and buying side of deals are encouraging sight unseen offers. To a seasoned real estate agent like myself, the thought is bone chilling. Yet, I have seen and heard the statements from listing and buying agents alike encouraging them.
As a listing agent, I have a hard time encouraging my sellers to take a sight unseen offer. There is way too much room for the buyer to get buyer’s remorse. In fact, the most recent listing I had hit the market and had a sight unseen offer so high above list price, with a low appraisal guarantee to cover the difference between our list price and their sales price, that I had to double check with the buyer’s agent to make sure that the buyer knew what they were doing. There was no way the home was going to appraise for the price the buyer offered.
The buyer’s agent was very heavy handed with his client and told him that was the only way he was going to go under contract. He proudly told me that. Well, my sellers were cautioned about taking it, made some adjustments to the offer, countered and there was silence. By this point in time, the buyer had studied up on the community. Hmm. Interesting that didn’t happen before he had written this offer. Remorse set in as soon as he realized there were condo fees, which are always higher than HOA fees. I knew something wasn’t right with that offer. The buyer vanished into the ether.
Then, as a buyer’s agent I was beating the street from Stafford County to Western Prince William County, trying to get a leg up for my out of state buyers. More than three listing agents encouraged sight unseen offers. Mind you, my buyers are out of state and not able to fly in for a home tour. The idea is laughable. They would have to book their plane tickets the moment a home of interest came up as Coming Soon just to accompany me on a drive by looksie. Naturally, to be the best offer, it would have to be minus inspection contingencies. It is madness, but buyers are jumping at the chance. What choice do they have?
It was nice this evening to open up the MLS portal I have set up for these buyers and see a listing where a sight unseen offer had been encouraged and accepted come back on the market. My buyers lost out because they had not been comfortable making that move. Turns out, the buyer that did could not move forward. I was told their former listing agent encouraging acceptance of a offer contingent on a home sale. Now it is back on the market with a new listing agent and thankfully, she told her sellers to let it get some tours through. A breath of fresh air to find an agent not indulging in the Coming Soon, sight unseen offer madness.
Remember, buyers are going to see the house eventually. Why not just wait it out and let them see it? Maybe the offers won’t be as high. Maybe they will. What I personally know is that the offers would be one hundred percent legitimate and not made under duress or fear of losing another home.
On January 21st, I listed 14530 Kylewood Drive for $315,000. Before we hit the market we received a very serious offer from a buyer who was desperate to be in the Gainesville area in an affordable home. Having come off of the second half of 2021, where things had not be crazed, but still favoring sellers, I wondered if it may be the best offer the sellers got. Heck, based on a look at the comps when signing the listing in late December, it was likely to be the only offer. My seller wanted to work something out with the buyer, who incidentally had a home sale contingency. However, when that buyer panicked about the amount over list he had written and didn’t sign my seller’s counter that only shortened time frames, I advised my seller to withdraw his counter offer. Thank goodness he heeded my advice.
Turns out that a condo with fees at just under $500/month, got a total of fifteen offers.
Were any of them just at list price? Not a single one. Every offer was above list price. And surprisingly, buyers willing to waive inspections, appraisals or offer a low appraisal guarantee were back in full force. What a difference a week makes.
If you are a buyer in the western suburbs of Northern Virginia, get yourself an agent that is actively engaged in the market. A full-time professional who notices quickly when the pace or conditions shift. Looking over the fifteen offers I saw submitted, I realized how poorly some of these buyers were being represented. Not my circus. Not my monkeys.
In other news my buyer-clients, who wrote their first offer in a similar price point in Warrenton over the weekend, got their offer accepted. You don’t get winning advice from agents who are barely engaged in the market.
If you need a buyer’s agent, give me a call. If you want the best results and expert evaluation of multiple offers, get in touch with me. This is what I do every day. I make it my job to know the market so I can best represent YOU.
Looking for affordable three bedroom properties in Gainesville? You have come to the right place. Welcome to 14530 Kylewood Way in the Parks at Piedmont South Condos. A four level condo with three bedrooms and two and a half bathrooms and one car garage for only $315,000. Let me tell you all about it.
For starters, it is located in the only phase of the Parks at Piedmont South Condos that is HUD approved. That may not sound like anything meaningful to you until I share this next bit with you. For a condo to qualify under FHA or VA financing regulations, the condo meet certain approval guidelines. This one does. So unlike two-thirds of the condos in Parks at Piedmont South, literally any type of loan can be used to finance it. That makes it in high demand before I even tell you anything about the condo itself.
Every condo in the Parks at Piedmont South is an end unit. However, this is about as end a location as you can get. It is the last condo on the street before you get to the townhouses. That means it sides to a nice grassy common area and also offers a longer driveway than most, with the ability to accomodate two mid-size cars without breaching the concrete apron.
Inside you will be greeted by laminate hardwood flooring. The first floor is the “landing zone” with a powder room, and closet. The powder room boasts a utility style, stainless steel sink in the vanity. It serves dual duty, being right next to the garage.
Head up to the second level, which I call the main level. This is where you find the kitchen overlooking the living room and dining area. You will enjoy plenty of Corian counters, more laminate hardwood flooring, stainless steel appliances and a gas fireplace.
Third floor is carpeted and is where you find the owner’s suite. An expansive room with walk-in closet with custom built-in shevling and a luxury bathroom with dual sinks, soaking tub, separate shower and water closet. Don’t walk past the hidden gems on the third floor landing. A laundry area with full size stacked, front load wasther and dryer, shelving and a tuckaway folding station. And the full size hall mirror hides an ironing board nook. Just slide it over and you will see the organizational ingenuity of the owner at work.
The fourth floor, also carpeted, is home to a loft area off of which bedrooms two and three and the second full bathroom are located. Forget an ensuite bathroom. This entire floor is perfect for the family member(s) that want their own living space in the loft.
There will be an open house on Sunday, January 23 (2022) from 1pm-3pm. Come by and see it for yourself.
Attention to Detail Matters Even in Shredding Files
When you are studying to obtain a Virginia real estate license, one of the details is that is ingrained in you is that our licensing entity only requires brokerages to hold onto files for three years. That works well with the Virginia Statute of Frauds having a two year expiration from the time fraud was committed. Of course, our commonwealth law is not the only law that can apply to a real estate file.
Over ten years ago, while representing a buyer, I uncovered what appeared to be mortgage fraud. A fly-by-night investor who had taken a course in buying up distressed properties that were headed to foreclosure was crossing many lines in selling homes. State laws were being broken and ultimately, when reported to the FBI, it was the federal laws broken that mattered. Turned out, the Federal Statute of Frauds time limits are different. In the case of this investor, the statute of limitations for bank fraud was five years.
When the Federal Prosecutor called me before the Federal statue of limitations had expired, I was fishing through email for remnants of the file since the paper copy had been shred. Let me tell you, that’s not a great feeling. None the less, with what I had turned over to the FBI nearly five years earlier, was enough to kick off an investigation that would land this investor in Federal Court and ultimately, behind bars for five years.
As I shred files from 2014 and move into 2015, I realize that I am not a typical Viriginia real estate licensee. My experience in this career has taught me so much more than a lot of my fellow licensees care to even entertain. Attention to detail is the most important thing a real estate licensee has, but if they are trained to the bare minimum of details, it is their clients that pay the price. This is an industry where the required level of training does not even begin to cover how an agent can truly benefit their clients, industry and society at large. Being inquisititive and learning the ins and outs of contracts, mortgage, title and insurance are what make the agents that do attain this level of knowledge invaluable to their clients.
If you require more than the bare minimum from the person guiding you through your home purchase or sale and reside in or around the areas on my chalkboard to the right of this post, I would love the opportunity to help.
New Year’s Eve 2021 and what is this Bristow/Gainesville Real Estate Agent doing? Starting her yearend market reports and blogging. What better topic to post about on my real estate blog than my predictions for the 2022 real estate market. This prediction is not for the country, nor the entire Commonwealth of Virginia. Instead, it is for the areas with which I am most familiar that are outlined on the chalkboard to the right of this post. Those I am most familiar with are Western Prince William County, which includes Bristow, Gainesville and Haymarket.
The real estate market in the first half of 2021 was more hectic and buyer frantic than it had been throughout all of 2020. Buyers were facing multiple offer situations, having to waive all contingencies and offer well above list price to have a chance at being chosen. The second half of 2021 is where things started to calm down. That’s not to say that the market went from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market. Not at all. It was still a seller’s market, but not as intense. My favorite way to explain the change in the latter half of 2021 was a weather analogy. If it were 120° outside early in the day, but later was 108°, you could say it was cooler than it had been, but 108° would still be considered hot.
The second half of 2021, while still presenting a shortage of inventory, compared to buyers in the marketplace, saw less frenzy on behalf of the buyers. Home inspections became a common request again, which was a relief to me having a few buyers actively looking. Marketing times began to creep up and seller subsidy (closing cost help) started to be seen here and there. All of this started about the time the sellers decided in late June/early July to take advantage of the seller’s market. Meanwhile, buyers who had lost out on summer vacations in 2020, were busying themselves with travel and fun. That meant putting house hunting on hold for a bit. The fall didn’t see much of a correction when they returned, rested and relaxed. The buyer frenzy had calmed, but it was still a seller’s market.
The New Year is jumping off from where we left 2021. Home prices are still high and climbing, but the rate of increase is slowing down. It’s far less likely to see a home list a at a reasonable price and see it bid up 7-10% higher. List price or a little higher is what sellers seem to be getting now. Sellers are still unlikely to have to give any closing cost help, but are much more likely to see home inspection contingencies.
No matter the market, my job remains the same–getting my sellers the maximum bottom line they can out of their largest asset. That starts with buyer enthusiasm and maintaining it throughout the process. For buyers it means making sure they find a home that meets their needs and are as protected as they can be throughout the process. Referring to the best lenders, home inspectors and title companies are just the start.
If a home sale or purchase in on your radar for 2022, let’s chat. It is never too early to start talking over the process and getting ready in advance.
There is something special about selling real estate during the holiday season. The sale that closed today is one that gives tremendous satisfaction. It all started with a call from a colleague in Colorado Springs in October whose friend in Gainesville needed help finding a home for her and her family. The colleague gave me her friend’s number and I reached out. While the colleague gave me a very brief overview of what was happening, I really didn’t get the full perspective until talking to her friend.
It was at that moment that I met a family going through a life altering experience. After marrying as former high school sweethearts in 2020, and looking to retirement in the next five years, this was a newlywed couple that would be spending their post childbearing years together. They didn’t expect a late night call to come get their grandkids due to unforeseen circumstances. At that moment, this couple took on their four granddaughters, the oldest nine and the youngest six weeks. In their newlywed bliss, they had purchased a condo that was certainly large enough for a couple, but not optimal for more than that. And since they had recently been named legal guardians of the girls, they needed a home NOW!
Some pieces needed to fall into place to make financing the home possible. Mainly, the sale of a home in Colorado Springs. My colleague had that piece handled and it was due to come on the market in late October/early November. Of course, with the inventory still not meeting demand in the greater Gainesville area, home shopping was not an option until that Colorado home was at least under contract. By the time this couple identified the Warrenton home they thought would be the one, I had brought in a local colleague to help, as I was fairly tied up with my elderly mother overcoming a medical issue. House hunting could not wait until I freed up.
My colleague kept me in the loop the whole time. I was so nervous about their chances of getting the only home they had written an offer on, but had to put my faith in the fact that the Colorado Springs colleague would handle the discussion about the home sale there with the utmost professionalism when called by the Warrenton listing agent. When Mrs. Buyer asked if she should write a personal letter, going into the multiple offer situation, my response was something like, “Coupled with a strong offer, it could only help. You certainly have a compelling story that tugs at the heart strings.” My colleague and I discussed optimal offer terms and put it togther.
Sure enough, it all came together to make our buyers’ offer chosen. The sellers even wrote a letter back thanking them for the letter and expressing their own gratitude to care and raise their grandchildren in the home they had loved so much. It was meant to be.
Today, December 20th, our buyers purchased the home of their redesigned dream. They have a large back yard for the granddaughters to romp in and plenty of bedrooms. There is even a humongous covered porch that is going to become the romper room. Best of all, the granddaughters have not seen it yet. They get to see it on Christmas Eve, when the magic of the season will be at its height. Their grandparents are even putting a gigantic red bow on the entry so the girls know this was all for them.
Achieving Buyer Success in Gainesville’s Heritage Hunt, Again
There are some well traveled Gainesville neighborhoods in my real estate business. One that comes up again and again is the active adult community of Heritage Hunt. By its sheer size, it is no surprise Heritage Hunt gets a lot of activity. Heritage Hunt is so big it is its own voting precinct!
Earlier this year, I helped buyers who had narrowed down their search to Heritage Hunt after over a year of house hunting. I also helped not one, but two Heritage Hunt condo owners sell their units in 2021. What I was not expecting on the morning of October 3rd was a phone call from a colleague with a Heritage Hunt single family home for sale, that had encountered interested buyers that wanted to make an offer on her listing. The only thing they needed was an agent to represent them. What an honor to be a go-to resource for a colleague who needed to place unrepresented buyers with a an agent. I was on it.
It wasn’t hard to jump into action on this one. As it turns out, when the call came in I was en route to Heritage Hunt to show property to another buyer-client. What was unusual was that of the interested buyer couple, one had seen the property courtesy of my colleague (the listing agent,) the previous day. After discussing it with his wife, the decision to make an offer was made.
The listing agent let me know that there was a very attractive offer on the table. Without having specifics, I knew my newly acquired buyer-clients would need to put their best foot forward. In explaining what that meant in an offer, they were all in. Turns out that my new buyer-clients won the property. The biggest challenge was simply going to be managing inspections and contractor quotes with buyers who were out of state. Again, not a problem.
Home inspectors were provided. Mr. and Mrs. Buyer chose one and I met their relatives and the inspector at the property. With only very minor issues, moving forward was easy. Now came the challenge to help these buyer-clients get their home prepped for their move. That meant hooking them up with paint and flooring contractors, as well as movers. Color and product consultations were handled via video call, choices made and work scheduled.
On Wednesday, November 17th, Mrs. Buyer was able to see the home for the very first time. She was very pleased and very excited. She is likely to be even more excited after the new flooring is completed before the first weekend of closing. Painting is happening the following week while their moving truck is making its way from Colorado. I’m as excited to see their choices in action as they are.
Buying a home may be a process that takes some buyers longer than others. It doesn’t matter. No matter how long the process, I am here to help make it as smooth as possible. If you have been considering a move to Heritage Hunt, or any other location in the Gainesville area, get in touch with me. Helping my buyer-clients find and settle into home is one of my greatest delights.
It all started on September 1st (2021.) In my email was a buyer lead, requesting a showing of a Haymarket condo in Market Center. Naturally, I got in contact immediately and upon making contact, found out I was dealing with the mom of the potential buyer. Apparently her son had been looking for a first time purchase from Ashburn to Manassas for several months. She didn’t want to trouble any one agent with that intense of a search, so they had been spending time at open houses.
First thing I did was express why it was important to have an agent in the process. Then, I let her know that if the search headed back to Ashburn or Manassas, I could work those areas too. Ultimately, a great buyer’s agent isn’t there to sell you a property, but help you find the one that fits your budget, wants and needs as much as possible.
We got started looking at the Haymarket condos of interest the very next day. We were going to make an offer on one that really stood out, but it turned out that we missed the boat. While the buyer was getting pre-approved for his mortgage, another buyer swooped in and took the home. Disappointing, but at least we found out what the budget was in the process and were poised to act next time.
As it turned out, there was only one next time. A townhouse in the Manassas community of Paradise popped up and we were off to see it as quickly as posible. It was an end unit with loads of updates. It made my buyer smile as soon as he entered. That meant it was time to figure out an offer. There were other offers on the table. How was he going to make his offer stand out and get accepted? We talked over some strategies and the one that made the most sense to him was a combination of going in over list price and offering to pay some of the seller’s closing costs. He didn’t have to waive appraisal or home inspection. And you know what? His offer was chosen.
In the multiple offer bid, I think the listing agent realized that if the appraisal came in low, at least the seller’s would have some of their closing costs paid, which was still a win. And sure enough, the appraisal came in not only lower than the offer, but also below list price. The sellers lowered their price, but still made out better than they would have with another offer thanks to the buyer’s closing cost help offer.
It must have chapped the sellers’ behinds to lower the price because on walk through, when I should have been snapping a picture of the exterior to of the townhouse to share in this post, I was snapping pictures like the one below to send to the listing agent. The sellers had left all kinds of stuff in the garage.
Not to worry. With the threat of $425 worth of junk removal on the horizon, the sellers made sure this stuff was out on settlement day….we double checked to make sure. Sellers can get so generous when it is time to get everything out.
From a September 2nd initial meeting to a settlement on October 22nd is a fast turnaround. This was a whirlwind. Not all buyers are sure enough in what they want to be that decisive. It’s okay. No matter how long it takes, a great buyer’s agent is there the whole time. Let me know when you are ready to house hunt and we’ll find the one for you…and make sure the crap is out of the garage by settlement day too!
When Is Using an Escalation Clause in an Offer Appropriate?
One of the devils of a seller’s market is use of the escalation clause in offers from buyers. Having been at the helm of a twenty-six offer offer scrum with a Gainesville seller ealier this year, I legitimately had to make sticky notes on the offers as to which offer escalated them to various points. From the listing side they are sought after by sellers, but misused by buyers.
The best explanation I have come up with for escalation clauses for my own buyer clients is that they should speak in your absence. Say for instance a home has no offers, but is likely to get many. An interested buyer may write a full price offer with an escalation clause to speak for them when other offers roll in. However, writing an offer with an escalation clause and expecting an immediate answer from a seller is insanity.
Escalation clauses are an invitation to the seller to find offers that would escalate the offer. A buyer writing an offer with an escalation clause, if they are willing to pay above list price and do not want to compete, should simply write the offer they were willing to stand behind with their escalation clause. That would be worthy of a seller answering right away.
Nonetheless, this week I encountered two misuses of escalation clauses as a listing agent. My sellers received a full price offer with an extremely generous escalation addendum. When they had not answered the buyer within less than eight hours, they pulled their offer. It was madness. But it didn’t end there. Another offer with an escalation addendum rolled in. What did they want? An immediate answer, of course. When they didn’t get it, they withdrew their offer.
Escalation clauses are wonderful tools when used appropriately. And of course, if you use one, you must expect the seller to attempt to escalate it or, another danger of escalation clauses, simply counter you at the highest escalation point. When buying a home, if you want an immediate answer, an escalation addendum is likely not the tool you want.