Happy Holidays From the Art Real Estate Group

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This holiday season, we at the Art Real Estate Group would like to thank you for the gift of your business. We wish you joy and prosperity in the next year, and I hope to continue to serve you and your real estate needs.

Selling Your Own Home in 6 Easy Steps

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There is a six-step process to selling your home without an agent and saving on the commission cost. There are no gimmicks or shortcuts to this process—you’ll just have to do the work that an agent normally does in order to succeed.

I have developed a 20-page system that outlines this process in full which you can obtain for free by simply giving me a call or sending me an email. In the meantime, here are the six steps you need to know:

1. Understand the market conditions. What do supply and demand look like in your current market?

2. Calculate the bottom line.
You need to calculate your net gain after all the fees you’ll have to pay in selling your own property.

3. Prepare your home for selling. How do you need to show and stage your home to get it ready for the market?

If you follow these steps, you can absolutely sell your home without an agent.

4. Understand how to market your home. You need to know how to expose your home and make sure everyone knows about it once it’s listed.

5. Negotiate the contract. Know what kind of contingencies and deadlines are involved in your contract.

6. Closing and moving.

If you follow these steps, you can absolutely sell your home without an agent. Once again, if you’d like to receive the full 20-page document on how to sell your home without an agent or you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to give me a call or send me an email. I’d be happy to help you!

5 Reasons to Sell This Holiday Season

Over the last few years, I’ve sold most of my personal properties during December, November, and January. There’s a reason why. Actually, there are five reasons why that I’d like to share with you today:

5. Relocation buyers. Most employees that are transferring into the D.C. area start on January 1st, so they are in the area now looking for homes to purchase. Listing now means your home will be seen by this large group of buyers.

4. People are more emotional during the holiday season. People are simply in a better mood during this time of year. When buyers get emotional, they are usually more generous with their offers.

3. Tax buyers. There is another fairly large group of buyers that need to purchase a property by the end of the year for tax reasons.

There aren’t many tire-kickers in this market.

2. Historically, there is less inventory. With fewer homes on the market during these months, you’ll have much less competition than you would if you waited until spring to list.

1. Serious buyers.
If someone is out there looking for homes and knocking on your door in the cold, sleet, or snow, you can bet that they aren’t a tire-kicker. Buyers who are in this market during this time of year typically have one thing in common: they’re serious.

If you have any questions for me about selling your home or about real estate in general, give me a call or send me an email today. I look forward to hearing from you.

What Do Agents Actually Earn From Their Commission?

A lot of people come to me asking how people make so much money with real estate. But, before you get too excited and get a real estate license yourself, you need to consider the truth about what agents really earn.
Let’s consider a house listed at $500,000 with a commission rate of 6%. In this case, that 6% adds up to $30,000. This may sound like a lot, but what if you start breaking it down?

Keep in mind that 99% of the transactions will have two real estate agents. One agent will represent the buyer, while one is going to represent the seller. This means that the 6% we mentioned earlier is going to be split in half.

But it doesn’t stop there. Agents often work on a team, so the $15,000 you thought was left is actually going to be split again. Let’s be generous and assume this split is going to be 50/50 again, and that the agent will be left with $7,500. What happens from there?

The next time you see a big total and think that’s what an agent is actually earning, think again.

Well, to have an active real estate license, you’ve got to associate yourself with a brokerage. This means that you’ll need to pay fees.

The broker fee can be 30% or even 40%. If you take that fee out of the $7,500 we mentioned earlier, that leaves just about $4,000.

That isn’t all. Then you pay other annual fees, your multiple listing services dues, and a few other costs as well, leaving a grand total of about $3,000.

Ultimately, agents may tend to end up with just 10% of the commission. So, the next time you see a total like $30,000, $40,000, or even $50,000 and think that’s the number an agent is actually earning, think again.

If you have any other questions, would like more information, or want advice on how you can be successful as a real estate agent, feel free to give me a call or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Can a Transaction Be Saved After a Low Appraisal?

What happens if your listing doesn’t appraise? Saving a transaction after this happens is difficult, but not impossible. 

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If a house appraisal comes back at a low value, what can you do?

Imagine you have listed a home on the market for $500,000. After receiving multiple offers, you escalate the price to $525,000 only to later find out that the house couldn’t appraise at that value.

So how do you save a transaction from an unfortunate appraisal? Low appraisals are a difficult hurdle to overcome.

Since the lender won’t give more money than the house is worth, a low appraisal could cause buyers to back out when they realize their offer was too high.

As a real estate professional, I always try to turn these situations into a win-win. I do my best to create a compromise between the buyer and the seller so that the transaction can move forward.

However, this sometimes simply isn’t possible. Certain factors are beyond anyone’s control.

Low appraisals are a difficult hurdle to overcome.

Sellers, though, do have options in certain cases. If you are listing in a seller’s market with very little inventory, you have a much better chance of salvaging a transaction after a low appraisal. Appraisal contingencies may be removed if the conditions are right. Cash offers are also possible—but those are very rare.

Sellers trying to list in a buyer’s market are not in such a good position. It will be very difficult to navigate this kind of situation as a seller.

It’s ultimately best to try avoiding a low appraisal in the first place. If the appraisal does come in low, you still need to carefully analyze the appraisal to make sure everything has been accurately assessed.

If you have any other questions or would like more information, feel free to give me a call or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Why Is Zillow Being Sued?

Zillow is being sued, and the reason why will make you think twice about relying on them for an accurate home valuation.

Last month, a lawsuit was filed against Zillow by a homeowner in Illinois who claims that her home’s Zestimate created a roadblock to her selling it at the price she wants.

She listed her home at $626,000, but it’s Zestimate only values it at a little over $560,000. This homeowner says homes are selling on her street for more than $600,000, but just because her home’s Zestimate is so much lower, it’s scaring buyers away.

We all know that Zillow’s Zestimates aren’t very accurate. Zillow says they’re just a valuation, but the homeowner claims they’re acting like an appraiser without an appraisal license. 89.7% of the time, Zillow claims their Zestimate will be within 20% of your home’s value. On a $500,000 home, that’s a difference of $100,000 one way or the other. At that point, I think you’re better off reviewing your tax record and looking at what Uncle Sam assessed your property for.

We all know that Zillow’s Zestimates aren’t very accurate.

It will be very interesting to see how this lawsuit plays out. At the same time, if you ever need a real appraisal or an accurate assessment of what your home would sell for and how long it would take, have a professional such as myself do it. 

If you have any questions about Zillow or any other real estate topic, don’t hesitate to give me a call. I’d be happy to speak with you.

How Has the D.C. Metro Market Changed in a Year?

Numbers are up from last year across the board. What does it mean for you?

I’ve got a mid-year market review to share with you today that compares how the market has changed in the last year. I took the most recent numbers and compared them to what we saw at this time last year. Let’s dive right in.

Our current median sale price of $425,000 is up 5.39% from the $403,000 median we saw last year. Homes are selling for more money, which is great news.

The total number of units sold is up from 20,036 to 21,429. That’s a 6.95% increase. The average days a home is on the market has dramatically dropped as well. The average last year was 55 days, but has since dropped 16.36% to 46 days.

Homes are selling faster and for more money.

To put things simply: homes are selling faster and for more money. If you’ve been thinking about selling anytime in the near future, there’s no telling how long we’ll experience this type of market where you can likely sell your home for top dollar in less than a week if it’s priced and marketed correctly.

If you have any questions for me, don’t hesitate to give me a call or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you.

Don't Miss out on These 2 Beautiful Homes

We are so excited about our upcoming listings. The two homes featured today are beautifully renovated, so they won't be on the market for long.

In the next couple of weeks we’ll be listing seven or eight homes, but I’ve personally chosen two standout listings to feature here.

In my opinion, these homes aren’t going to last long on the market. Because of this, I’d like you to be among the first to know about them. 

The first, located in Falls Church, is a beautiful, cozy, Cape Cod-style home. Sitting at a scenic point on a three-acre lot, this property is within walking distance of the metro station.

This home comes with a renovated kitchen complete with stainless steel appliances. The property will list for $649,000 and is at 403 S Spring St, Falls Church, VA 22046 .

The second property I’d like to draw your attention to is a $699,000 townhouse at 1123 Brentfield Drive, Mclean, VA 22101. I’ve personally had experience with listings in this area and I’m sure that this home will move quickly off the market.

In my opinion, these homes aren’t going to last long on the market.

With its renovated kitchen and updated bathrooms, this beautiful townhouse is a great deal for its price.

So if you have any interest in these properties or any others we’re listing or have any other questions, feel free to get in touch by giving us a call or sending me an email. I look forward to hearing from you, soon.

Condos vs. Single-Family Homes: Which Is Better for You?

Both condos and single-family homes have their share of benefits and downsides. Whichever is best for you depends on your situation.

Should you buy a condo or a single-family home? What are the benefits and downsides of each?

Younger buyers who don’t have families to take care of or don’t want to live in the suburbs gravitate toward buying condos in Arlington or the DC area. Three or four years later, however, they usually end up making the move to a single-family home because they now have families and pay attention to school districts and other details that pertain to that change in lifestyle.

One of the biggest benefits of buying a condo is that your level of maintenance is very low. Certain amenities are taken care of for you, as well. For example, you might have access to a pool or an assigned parking place. If you travel a lot, condos are especially ideal to own because they’re turnkey. You can leave for two months and come back and everything will be the same as you left it.

If you plan on having a family, you can probably skip buying a condo.

One of the downsides to condos is you can’t make any upgrades or renovations to them, usually because their bylaws restrict making any serious changes. With a single-family home, you can do whatever you want to the property, though that can depend on whether you live under a homeowners association.

One of the downsides to single-family homes if you work in downtown DC is you’ll likely be commuting to work from further away. If you work elsewhere and you plan on having a family, you can skip owning a condo and buy a single-family home somewhere with a good school district.

Depending on your current situation, you don’t necessarily have to do one or the other. Like I said, buyers in our market often buy condos or townhouses and then sell them before settling in a single-family home.

If you have any further questions about the advantages and disadvantages and condos and single-family homes and which one makes the most sense for you, give me a call. I look forward to talking with you soon.

Should You Invest in an Airbnb Property?

Should you invest in an Airbnb property? There are three things you should know if you are considering this move.

Is Airbnb a good investment?

There are a lot of people researching this new investment opportunity. We have one person beta-testing a property in D.C. and another in northern Virginia strictly as Airbnb rentals, so I’ll be able to give your more specific information about those investments in the next few months and tell you if that provides a good cash flow.

For now, there are three things you should know if you are considering an Airbnb investment property:

1. Location and zoning. Make sure that your Homeowners Association allows short-term rentals. If you have a condo in D.C.,  Maryland, or Virginia, most bylaws do not allow short-term rentals. In fact, you have to have a lease of at least six to 12 months if you have a condo; you cannot do anything similar to a hotel rental.

That said, there are a lot of people who do use their condos as Airbnb rentals because they understand that the city does not have the manpower to enforce those laws.

I do not recommend going that route. You can definitely find townhomes or single-family homes that you can invest in without breaking any laws and still run a very successful Airbnb.

Ultimately, the most important thing is to understand the area laws and know what you should or should not be doing.

2. Decide if you want to hire a professional management company that specializes in Airbnb rentals. The company will provide a turnkey operation; you don’t have to do anything. They can take care of you and you will get a deposit every month, so it is a good way to make a profit. You can also manage the property yourself if you have enough time on your hands.

Make sure that you know the laws regarding short-term rentals in your area.

3. Have an exit strategy. I always recommend that you have an exit strategy for your investment properties. The first exit strategy would be selling the property. If you decide that the Airbnb property isn’t working for you six months after buying it, you need to know what kind of haircut you will have to get if you decide to sell.

Remember, with relocation taxes, closing costs, and broker fees, you will need to spend money to sell the home. You need to make sure that you can sell in six months without losing money on your investment.

The other option is to turn your Airbnb property into a long-term rental. Get a tenant in for 12 to 24 months so that you can create a positive cash flow without losing any money.

As I mentioned earlier, I will have some more details for you on Airbnb investment properties in the next few months. If you have any other questions in the meantime, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I would be happy to help you!

How Has the Real Estate Market Changed in a Year?

We saw a lot of encouraging signs in our market during the first quarter of 2017. Here’s what we are excited about.

We are already well into the second quarter of 2017, so I wanted to take this opportunity to give you an update on the real estate market from the first quarter of this year. We compared the numbers from the first quarter of 2016 to the numbers from the first quarter of this year, and here’s what we found.

The median sales price in northern Virginia is up 2.2% from last year to $425,000. The average days on market is down 21% from last year as well.

In the Maryland suburbs, the median price is up 9.69% from last year and now sits at $317,000. The average days on market here is down 17.65%.

Inventory is down, prices are up, and homes are selling fast.

Finally, in Washington D.C., the median sale price is up 3.38% to $527,250 and the average days on market is down 8.7%.

As you can see, inventory is down, prices are going up, and homes are selling faster. In addition to the real estate market, the lemonade market is doing well too, judging from the success my daughters had at their lemonade stand in the video above.

If you have any questions for me about the market or buying or selling real estate, give me a call or send me an email. I would love to hear from you.

How Does Real Estate Investing Generate Wealth?

If you’re still not convinced investing in real estate is a good idea, today I want to demonstrate how the numbers stack up in your favor.

Today I want to talk about my favorite subject—building wealth by investing in real estate.

I own many rental units and I love investing in real estate. I know you might not like the idea of investing in real estate for a variety of reasons, but I want to show you how the numbers add up and let you decide from there if you want to try generating wealth by investing in real estate.

Let’s say you locate a $300,000 townhouse. If you put a 10% down payment on it, that equals $30,000 you would invest into that $300,000 price for a total loan amount of $270,000. A $270,000 loan at 4% interest gives you a monthly fee of $1,289. Add to that fee $300 for taxes and $70 for insurance, and you’ve got a total monthly payment of $1,659.

A townhouse of this price in northern Virginia and Maryland can easily rent for $1,800 a month, so your cash flow would be close to $200 each month. You can also get a home warranty to protect yourself from unwanted expenses that might disrupt that cash flow.

The numbers tell the story.

Every time you pay that $1,289 monthly fee, $389 of it goes toward the principal, or paying down your loan amount, and $900 goes toward interest. Early on in the process, you’ll pay a lot of interest. However, if you hold on to the property for long enough—say, 20 years—your interest payment would shrink to $400 and the principal payment your tenants pay would increase to $864.

If the rent is $1,800 now, where do you think it will be in 20 years? Do you think it will be the same? Maybe a little bit more? Perhaps $2,000 more?

Actually, try $4,000. Your monthly payment after 20 years would still be just $1,289, and your tenants would pay $864 toward your principal. At that point, you’re printing money with this property.

For a moment, just think of the appreciation aspect. In the last 50 to 60 years, statistics have shown that homes in the U.S. appreciate anywhere from 3% to 5% annually. This means a $300,000 home would appreciate $9,000 in the first year alone. Add that factor on top of everything else, and the numbers tell the story.

If you have any questions or are thinking about investing in real estate, don’t hesitate to give me a call or send me an email. Talk to you soon!

How My Referral List Can Help You in All Walks of Life

When you sell as many homes as I do, you meet a lot of experts in many different industries. I’d love to introduce you to these experts.
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Have you ever started a DIY project and left it unfinished because the work didn’t go the way you planned? If so, we need to talk. I have a list of experts I’d like to refer you to.

If you sell as many homes as I do, you run into many different contractors, vendors, and other professionals in other businesses. Whether it’s a plumber, an electrician, an appraiser, a financial planner, a car salesman, etc., I have many industry-leading connections you can use whether you’re selling a home or not. 

If you’re thinking of making an upgrade, an improvement, or an addition to your house, I can recommend several different people who’ve done a great job for other clients of mine who can help you too.

I know hundreds of high-quality people who can help you with anything you want in life.

However, my service is not limited to real estate. If you have a need for any kind of business, odds are I know someone who can help.

If there’s anything you need, please don’t hesitate to give me a call. I’d be happy to speak with you!

What Can A Real Estate Team Offer Over a Solo Agent?

When buying or selling, hiring a solo agent isn’t the best move. For the best results, you need a team like ours.

A few of you have asked us the question, so we thought we would answer it today. What is the difference between working with a solo agent and working with a real estate team? There are a number of them. Here’s what we can offer you as a team that a solo agent can’t.

For one, we have over 50 years of experience as a team. We’ve also got a dedicated person to closely monitor every single detail that gets you to the closing table.

If someone on our team is sick, it’s no big deal. There is always someone else to fill in, so you don’t have to wait like you would have to with a solo agent.

Seven hands are better than one.

We also have specialized agents on this team. Whether you’re buying or selling, our agents have specific knowledge in each area to help get the most out of your transaction. We collectively invest in technology and marketing to help our homes sell quicker. By spending more on promoting our listings, we get more money for our buyers and sellers.

If you have any questions for us or want to learn more about our team, give us a call or send us an email. We look forward to hearing from you.

Now Is a Great Time to Invest in Real Estate

I’m at a recently sold listing to talk to you about investing in real estate in 2017.

Today, I’m in Falls Church, Virginia standing in front of one of our recently sold listings. I wanted to let you know that 2017 is going to be a great year to invest in real estate. 

This particular property is located inside the Beltway in a neighborhood where a lot of activity is taking place. Homes are being torn down and new homes are being built. This home sold for $335,000, so if you are a first-time home buyer or investor looking to build your real estate portfolio, right now is an excellent time to invest in neighborhoods like these.

Right now is a fantastic time to invest in real estate.

If you lock in a 4% interest rate and have someone else pay off the mortgage, the investment opportunity can’t be beaten. 

If you have any questions, please feel free to give me a call or send me an email and I’ll connect you to the right property. I look forward to hearing from you!