Sunday Sights

Sunday Sights

Every day is a blessing when you love what you do. There are plenty of agents out there that get wadded up over showing property on a gorgeous weekend day when they know their buyers have zero chance of either liking the homes or have the ability to win in a multiple offer situation. I am an agent that understands that interacting with my buyers at properties helps me to understand better what they like, help them adjust expectations and get to know them better. Bonus for me is that I genuinely have fun just about anywhere I go. And I have found that my good disposition has a way of rubbing off.

Today my buyers and I traveled from Culpeper to Warrenton, to Nokesville and back to Warrenton. We saw some interesting things. The blue pig above was one of the more attractive things we saw today. He was so cute we just had to stop and admire. Didn’t notice he had his left ear reattached until uploading the photo above to this post. Some defects can be easily overlooked if the subject is charming enough.

One room we saw was a virtual time machine. Shag carpeting on the walls as an accent to the wood paneling below. Welcome to 1970. The literal orange laminate counter tops in the kitchen made it easy to picture Mike Brady at this desk drawing up some architecture plans.

The other gorgeous thing we saw was this back yard. It had some truly lovely trees in bloom. The dogwood pictured above was the prettiest. Somehow, it looked better in person. Probably something to do with being in the sunlight, hearing the birds chirp and the rooster next door crow.

Though we ruled out more than we ruled in, my buyers and I made good progress today. We tried on some homes that would have been dismissed out right before. My buyers learned where they have flexibility and that the geographic area of the most interest is not out of reach with a new vision on how to utilize smaller spaces. We are now thinking out of the box.

If January Is Any Indication…

If January Is Any Indication…

Wow. Just wow. Rolling into January, the prediction I made for the Bristow/Gainesville real estate market was very measured. If the past week of real estate activity is any indication of how this year is going to go, I think we are looking at a rinse and repeat of 2021. Very fast paced first half of the year.

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.

15

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.

Attention to Detail Matters Even in Shredding Files

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.

Buyer Success in Gainesville, Spring 2021

Buyer Success in Gainesville, Spring 2021

Every buyer’s path to the closing table is different. And buyers facing the madness of the 2021 seller’s market have tales of endurance through the toughest market a buyer could imagine. Homes would go on the market and have literally dozens of offers, with a handful that waived all contengencies and go well above list. Acting fast is a must. It was actually at an Open House for 15124 Santander Drive in Gainesville in January that I met these buyers relocating from a neighboring state.

Their home requests seemed simple enough: Find a four bedroom, three and a half bathroom home, with a finished basement bedroom and bathroom, double sinks in the upper hall bathroom in one of two high school districts. However, with the market leaping up significantly in value of homes due to the overwhelming demand, the plan was to act as quickly as possible.

From the end of March to the early part of June, we looked at twenty-eight homes and wrote eight offers, each one more aggressive than the last. It was disheartening to keep striking out. And then, on my birthday of all days, they sent a request to see a home that had popped up online. Because they were out of town, it ended up being a virtual tour. The home was impressive inside and checked all their boxes…something that hadn’t happened in a while as prices kept marching up. They made a full price offer and gave great terms.

It took a few days to get an answer, but my buyers got the house. And today, July 23rd, they signed all their closing documents to become official Gainesville home owners. Their perserverance paid off. Congratulations and welcome to Gainesville, my friends!

Buyer Success in Heritage Hunt

What a view! Taken from the Heritage Hunt Clubhouse looking to the outdoor pool.

Buyer Success in Heritage Hunt

In September 2019, I was connected with a couple looking to purchase in the Active Adult community of Heritage Hunt in Gainesville, VA. This amenity filled community has tons to offer, including a variety of housing. From condos to attached villas and varying sizes of detached single family homes, there is something for every fifty-five plus buyer. Like so many buyers I have helped before, this couple was looking to relocate from out of state to be closer to their daughter and new grandchild. Heritage Hunt seemed the perfect place to land.

Upon our first conversation, it sounded as though the buyers wanted to be even closer to their daughter, who lived inside the beltway. So a conversation of what you could get in Alexandria vs. Gainesville started a house hunt that involved myself and another agent that was better versed at the Alexandria options. Not surprisingly, Alexandria and all of Fairfax County ended up priced out of the running over the course of the next twelve months. There was a definite lack of outdoor space in anything with a main level owner’s suite. The choices ended up being all condos in Fairfax County and my buyers wanted an attached single family home. Heritage Hunt became the focus in the Fall of 2020.

The problem with the Heritage Hunt market at the end of 2020 was that many moves that would have freed up inventory for buyers were on hold. The next step for a lot of Heritage Hunt owners is assisted living, and with the pandemic, moves into those facilities were on hold. If a single family home or attached villa came on the market, it was gobbled up immediately, or faced sky high bidding. You really had to have a lead on something before it hit the market to have a shot.

For months I worked my network of agents and uncovered one that was to come up. Because of stringent MLS rules, we didn’t know the address until right before it hit the market, but were told of the floor plan. On paper, it worked. So my buyers drove to town for an opportunity to be the first showing on a listing that none of us had any other information about. My buyers leapt, having decided that villas were for them.

They conducted an inspection during their showing, with the permission of the seller, and made an offer within an hour of their showing. Nonetheless, another offer came in, sight unseen, because the listing had been active for a couple hours during our inspection. That’s how crazy demand is in Heritage Hunt! My buyers improved their offer with a signing bonus to the seller if they would take the offer by a particular time. Sure enough, it worked. The seller chose their offer. Woo-hoo!

Today, my buyers were delighted to sign for their new Heritage Hunt attached home with a two car garage. It needs a lot of cosmetic updating, but they are more than prepared to take on that project. They know they have the perfect size place to call home and were able to get it done quickly and at a price they feel good about. A true win made possible by the power of this well connnected Gainesville Real Estate Agent.

In a seller’s market, who you hire to represent you matters in who they know and how they network. If you hire someone relying solely on what pops out of the MLS, you are in for a long haul. Knowing the players in the market is vitally important. Just as important as having a buyer’s agent that listing agents WANT to work with. In the market in Bristow or Gainesville? I am happy to put my network and reputation to work for you. Get in touch with me and let’s get started.

High School Districts in Bristow & Gainesville are Changing Fall 2021

High School Districts in Bristow & Gainesville are Changing Fall 2021

If you are looking for Bristow or Gainesville home with a particular high school district in mind, bear in mind that high school districts are changing in the fall of 2021. The much anticipated Gainesville High School will be opening its doors for the first time, taking students from Unity Reed (formerly Stonewall Jackson,) Patriot and Battlefield.

The MLS (Multiple Listing Service) doesn’t have Gainesville High School as an option for listings that will be attending it in the fall when it opens its doors. The best a listing agent can do is fill in “Call School Board” and state in the remarks that the high school district is changing for grades nine to eleven as of 2021 to Gainesville High School. Buyer-clients of mine found out today, after two weeks under contract, that the school district they thought they were buying in has changed. The listing stated Battlefield as the high school. Whoops! It is now Gainesville. Thankfully, they still have an out in the contract. Others may not be so lucky.

If you are moving with only a twelfth grader in the home, you need not worry. Twelve grade in fall 2021 goes to the school the home had been districted to for the previous years.

House hunting right now, for buyers with specific high school districts in mind in Western Prince William County, just got a bit trickier. Do not rely on the information in the MLS. Independently verify which high school district any property is zoned to in Prince William County by clicking this link.

Seller’s Market Madness

Seller’s Market Madness

Even as a Top Bristow/Gainesville Real Estate Agent, going through the struggles of the 2021 seller’s market with buyer-clients, at times I find myself wanting to rip my hair out. Buyers are frustrated, and despite putting their best foot forward time after time, get booted to the curb over and over. The intense market demand has virtually every seller expecting a pile of sky high offers with no contingencies. When buyers provide that and are told that their offer will be reviewed immediately, it is frustrating when it is not.

Having represented sellers, I know that sellers will have the best intentions when they proclaim that their plan is review offers as they come in, but the reality is this — if a seller isn’t ready to accept or reject offers quickly, they truly aren’t reviewing them as they come in. Setting buyer expectations is critical to starting off on the right foot. In the role of a listing agent, I often find myself sharing with sellers the best game plan given current conditions. That usually means hitting the market on a weekend, setting a deadline and reviewing offers at a pre-determined time.

This past weekend, I represented two buyers who were told their offers would be reviewed as soon as possible. One seller in particular had told their agent they just wanted a quick, smooth deal. My buyer provided that and was STILL put on hold for the promise of another offer. Then two offers in hand turned into the sellers having wet their appetite for a competitive pile of offers. Those sellers darn near lost my buyer, who it turned out, was ideal for what they wanted. The other seller (who needed to sell as part of a home sale contingency on their purchase offer) made my other buyers wait two days until they started to look for other homes before accepting my buyers’ contingent-less offer.

Sellers need to be careful not to get too greedy, particularly now. The market is starting to shift a bit. Not every buyer is interested in properties where literally no improvements were made. Sellers may make ridiculous demands, like a six to seven month post settlement occupancy that would have flown in early spring, but not now. More inventory is coming on the market. The sellers still have the advantage, but they may not get a dozen offers, or even six.

What does the future hold? We need to take that as it comes. For now, it does seem that the increase in inventory is putting some sellers in their place.

A Step in the Right Direction for Buyers in Bristow/Gainesville

A Step in the Right Direction for Buyers in Bristow/Gainesville

This morning I was setting up a home tour for a buyer relocating from out of state. We have found an opportunity that is ninety-nine percent likely to be the one. Between the buyer coming to terms with the seller’s market and adjusting expectations, and getting a lead on a property that checks every box where we will be the first ones in, it seems the stage is set for success. Being that home inspectors have been fairly idle since the seller’s market really hit the peak and buyers were having to forego inspections just to have a chance at being competitive, I figured getting an inspector on short notice would be easy. WRONG!

In talking with a trusted home inspector this morning, it seems that business has picked up for he and his colleagues in Bristow and Gainesville. That means more buyers are having inspections. He relayed to me that they weren’t walk and talk inspections either, but full blown inspections that happen once a buyer is under contract. They might be Right to Void Only inspections, or maybe just strictly for informational purposes, but he is booking more inspections. Hmm. Could the market be shifting? Certainly is possible.

Supply has been increasing. There are more listings coming on the market lately. Of course, demand has been so out of control that the increase in supply hasn’t meant the end of multiple offers. It does seem, however, that buyers are at least able to not give up every conceivable contingency in a lot of circumstances, which is positive news for buyers.

Getting back to a time where buyers can make offers based on comparable sales would be an improvement. Lately, a list price plus seven to ten percent is what a sales price is likely to be. Comparable sales have no meaning in the market we’ve been dealing with. It is put up, be willing to go above appraised value and move on. There is no negotiation.

Of course, the seller’s market has favored sellers so strongly that some sellers may feel a since of regret if they lose out on being able to pull down an offer ten percent above list price with absolutely no contingencies, but this market is not sustainable. Buyers have been pulling out from sheer frustration and opting to stay where they are or rent.

Our Bristow/Gainesville real estate market is likely to favor sellers for the foreseeable future. Of course, we may see more inventory still if there is just enough cooling for move up buyers who also need to sell, to feel they won’t be homeless if they list. That would lend itself to this market really becoming more tolerable for buyers, while still favoring sellers.

It’s going to take some time for the market to truly be stable, which means neither party has an advantage. Right now, the best we can hope for is the insane seller’s market to become a more reasonable seller’s market. As long as demand is still not being met by the supply, seller’s have the advantage. Maybe it will get back to something like the seller’s markets we have experienced in the past. A handful of offers, not two dozen. That would feel less frantic and certainly be more reasonable for all parties. Dare to dream.

Rumors That the 2021 Summer NoVa Real Estate Market is Slowing Down

Rumors That the 2021 Summer NoVa Real Estate Market is Slowing Down

There has been talk among agents that the real estate market in Prince William, Fairfax and Loudoun Counties is starting to slow down. Oh how I wish those rumors had some basis in reality. The extreme buyer demand that has sellers cashing out at unbelievable prices, has left buyers waiving just about every conceivable contingency and reaching deep into their savings or retirement plans just to have a chance at purchasing. Still, this past Memorial Day weekend I had buyers offer $30,000 above a fairly optimistic list price on a home that had plenty of outdated decor, and waived all contingencies only to lose along with ten other buyers.

The week or so that the gas shortage was causing anxiety in Northern Virginia, presented a great opportunity for buyers to get out and see homes while others were afraid to burn the gas in their tank to see property. That window allowed one of my buyer-clients, a first-time buyer, an opportunity to get under contract without having to waive home inspection. He was even able to negotiate some closing cost help. I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. Maybe that was the weekend the rumors of the slowing market started.

Alas, it was only an abbreviated window of opportunity which was created entirely out of panic, not actual shortage of gas. To me, it was like having a snow storm in winter during a seller’s market. Others may sit out the conditions and wait for the snow to melt, but not me. Striking while other buyers are sitting it out is the only way to give some buyers the leg up.

What we may be starting to see in the Northern Virginia marketplace is the typical slow down as we welcome summer and vacations are top of mind. For the first time since I became an agent in 2005, last year (2020) there was no slow down in July and August. Pandemic lock downs made vacations impossible. That makes summer vacations in 2021 even more of a priority for many who missed them last year. I believe the term I heard in some news media was “revenge travel.”

No matter what may ease up the buyer demand, even temporarily, rest assured that if you are a seller in Prince William, Fairfax or Loudoun County, your home will still sell and for a top price if you take time to prepare it and hire a listing agent that will professionally market it. We can shed some buyer demand and still be in a seller’s market.

What Should You Expect From Your Buyer’s Agent?

What Should You Expect From Your Buyer’s Agent?

Working as a full-time, professional Real Estate Agent in Bristow, Gainesville, Haymarket and this weekend, Ashburn, I can tell you that my time is largely taken on the weekends with my buyer clients. Because I also represent sellers as a listing agent, I understand the frenzied pace of the market. Outlined below are some things you should expect from a buyer’s agent.

  • Same Day Availability
  • Ability to Write Offers Quickly
  • Open, Honest Communication

When it comes to representing buyers in a seller’s market, same day availability to show property and write offers that day as well is a MUST. Today is a perfect example. I thought I was going to have only one showing this morning. It was booked ten days ago to be the first showing on the day the listing went active. Yesterday, those buyers threw another listing at me in Ashburn. Gainesville to Ashburn the same morning? Sure. No problem. Went back to my office after to write up the offer on the Gainesville home right after.

As we got to midday, a second buyer wanted to tour a home via video tour (thanks to the gas crisis) in Gainesville in the late afternoon. No problem. Not the home for them, but we updated the offer they made last night on a listing in Haymarket. Got it in writing. Sent to listing agent. Done.

Then a third buyer popped up to see a listing tomorrow in Bristow, but after seeing the lack of showings, no offers and no deadline, we made it a priority to see TONIGHT. That offer was made and is off to the listing agent. Meanwhile, the first buyer sweetened the pot on their offer from earlier.

That’s two offers and two written adjustments to existing offers made in one day after four showings at different times. You do what you have to do. And if you can’t do it, you better have help lined up. This market is no joke. It’s survival of the fittest. No time to laze around and get to it when you feel like it. Living arrangements are on the line. Lives are going to affected by your actions. Get to it!

That is why it especially irked me two weekends ago when a buyer’s agent complained about me moving an offer deadline up on her on one of my listings. According to her, “Four hours isn’t enough time to make an offer.” I’ve got a news flash for that agent, and every other agent who thinks there is some fairness to the market or that convenience matters. It isn’t fair and your convenience doesn’t matter. Four hours is PLENTY of time to get an offer together, electronically signed and over to the listing agent. Heck, I got one together this past week in a matter of thirty minutes after leaving a showing and before my next appointment. The deadline was during my next appointment so it HAD to get done.

Of course, open and honest communication is a must in any agency relationship. My buyers get advice that is based on what is happening in the market NOW. That’s because I’m a full-time agent that does a majority of her business as a listing agent. I see what other buyers are willing to do. And once one of my listings is sold, I am happy to share with you the multiple offer comparison sheet so you can see what I see.

One note about doing business with me, I will not do dual agency. That means I won’t represent you as a buyer on my own listings. You will be referred to a top notch buyer’s agent in my office if you fall in love with one of my listings. It is my belief that all parties deserve 100% representation aligned with their interests.

Want to hire me to represent you? I would love to talk about it. Get in touch with me and let’s get started. There are ways you can win in this crazy seller’s market and I would love to help you do just that.

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