Don’t Make These Mistakes When Buying

Let’s say you’ve found the house of your dreams, you’ve got it under contract, and in 30 days, you’ll be handed the keys. 

First of all, congratulations! That being said, if you don’t want to jeopardize your plans of becoming a homeowner, here are five common buyer mistakes you need to avoid making:

1. Quitting your job. Now is definitely not the time to quit your job or get fired. Before closing, your lender will call your employer to verify your employment status. If you don’t have a job, you might be denied financing. 

2. Buying a new car. If you’ve been waiting for an opportunity to buy your dream car, don’t do it before settlement—wait until afterward. If you lease a car or use financing to buy one during this time, your debt-to-income ratio will change, and you might not qualify to purchase the home anymore. This leads me to my next mistake to avoid...

3. Creating any new credit card debt. Don’t book any expensive vacations or make any large purchases. Again, this type of thing can wait until after settlement. 

4. Buying new appliances. This falls under the umbrella of creating new credit card debt, but it still warrants its own point because it happens so often. I understand you might be excited at the prospect of buying new appliances or furniture for your home, but using your credit card to make these purchases is another thing that will disrupt your debt-to-income ratio and prevent you from qualifying for your mortgage. 

5. Borrowing from your down payment sum. If you agree to put down, say, $30,000 for your home purchase, it needs to be that amount exactly—not anything less. 

As hard as it is to believe, I’ve seen people make all five of these mistakes during the home buying process, so keep them in mind and make sure nothing gets in the way of you closing on your dream home. 

As always, if you have any questions about this or any other real estate topic, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I’d love to help you. 

How You Can Appeal Your Home’s Tax Assessment

If you think your home’s tax assessment is too high, you can always appeal it.

Selling a home? Get a free home value report

As a homeowner, tax assessments are something you have to deal with on every year. Upon finding out that their property tax has increased, many people simply throw their assessment in the shredder and accept the increase without giving it a second thought.

Don’t do that! If you read your assessment carefully, you’ll see that you have a right to appeal it. If you’re concerned that your assessment might not be accurate, you can save hundreds—maybe even thousands—of dollars by appealing it. Talk to a real estate professional first to get a second opinion of whether the assessment is inaccurate. 

If you decide you want to appeal, you can’t just call the county and tell them they’re charging you too much. You have to make a strong case to have your assessment reevaluated, and there’s a process you must follow, which is another reason to call a real estate professional (such as myself) to help you. When you make your case, you and your Realtor can find some bad comps to lower the assessment. 

Also, remember that there is no direct correlation between your home’s tax assessment and its market price. 

If you read your assessment carefully, you’ll see that you have a right to appeal it.

In some instances, it’s good to have a high tax assessment. If you plan on selling soon, for example, you don’t need to worry about a high tax assessment—you’re leaving soon anyway. Some buyers look at tax assessments when home shopping and assume that it’s good to make an offer above the home’s tax value, so in that case, the higher your tax assessment, the better. 

I actually worked with a seller once whose home had such low tax assessment that we had to call the county and have them increase it while their home was on the market. This client already failed to sell their home once with a different agent because all the buyers were comparing the home’s tax value to its list price and assuming it was way overpriced. In reality, it was just an error on the part of the county. 

So before you accept a high tax assessment, call your real estate professional and see if you can save some money by appealing it. 

As always, if you have any questions about this or any other real estate topic, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I’d love to help you.

Real Estate Market Conditions in Northern Virginia, D.C., and Maryland

For this market update, I’ve compiled the data from the Northern Virginia, D.C., and Maryland real estate markets because all of the numbers are so similar. Here’s what you need to know. 

Let’s start by looking at what the real estate market is doing today. The median sold price in the D.C. Metro is up by 2.91%. Although there is a 17% appreciation rate right now in Arlington, it’s from a much smaller sample size.

The average days on market is down by 18.97%—from 58 days to 47 days. You might think 47 days is a long time, but this statistic takes into account luxury homes, which typically take much longer to sell. 

Our inventory remains at an all-time low.

For attached units such as condos and townhomes, their closed units are down 3.27%. The sales for detached units, or single-family homes, is up by 3.07%.

Our inventory remains at an all-time low, sales have remained steady, and homes are still appreciating at a steady pace. Affordability, however, has taken a bit of a toll on the market as well as an uncertain economic future.

Keep in mind that most recessions are typically good for real estate markets. With the exception of the last recession, which was caused by real estate, home prices have appreciated during recessions many times in the past.

If you have any questions for me about the market or about real estate in general, don’t hesitate to give me a call or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

What Are Instant-Offer Companies?

You’ve probably heard on TV, radio, or the internet ads from companies that are launching an iBuyer program. But what are iBuyers?

An iBuyer, or instant buyer, is a company that buys properties from sellers quickly and conveniently. When you sell to an iBuyer, you don’t have to list the house for sale on the market; in fact, you don’t need to do much with the home at all as far as preparation goes. Like their name suggests, iBuyers will craft an instant offer for your property.

As of today, none of the prominent players (Zillow, Offerpad, Opendoor, etc.) are offering an iBuyer program in Virginia, Maryland, or D.C.; usually, they launch their programs in states with lower sales prices.

How do iBuyers work, exactly?

By design, they’re pretty easy to sell to. You simply call them up, and they’ll write you a check.

The downside, however, is that they’ll charge you a convenience fee of about 10% to 20%, which can be a substantial amount.

Like their name suggests, iBuyers will craft an instant offer for your property.

Why would someone sell to an iBuyer, especially in a good market where homes are selling in less than a week? Usually it’s because they need to sell quickly, for whatever reason, and they’re not interested in getting the maximal amount from the home sale. 

It’ll be interesting to see how this program will unfold and whether it will stick. Discount brokerages like Purplebrick have already exited the market; they’re based in the United Kingdom but now have closed their doors in the United States. Only time will tell.

If you have any questions about iBuyer programs or real estate in general, feel free to reach out to me anytime.

The Truth About Amazon’s Impact on Home Values in Our Area

What kind of effect will Amazon have on home values in our Northern Virginia/D.C./Maryland marketplace? Should you sell now, buy now, or wait? 

The answer depends on where you live and what kind of house you have. 

I did some research about the average yearly salary of Amazon employees, and truth be told, I wasn’t that impressed—depending on the position, the answer usually ranged from $58,000 to $128,000. C-level executives, meanwhile, earned a yearly average income of $220,000. This means, out of the 25,000 or so people predicted to move into our area, only a handful will be able to afford luxury homes. 

If you’re a luxury homeowner, then, this means your situation won’t change at all. If you live in Arlington or certain parts of Fairfax County, though, the story is slightly different. Many organizations predicted a single-digit increase in home values in both areas for 2019, but now they upped it from 9% to 17% in Arlington and 3% to 7% in Fairfax County. 

In general, the closer you are to Amazon’s HQ2 headquarters in Crystal City, the better your outlook. If you’re located outside of this area, though, your home’s value won’t be affected.

Our real estate market has been strong historically, and that won’t change moving forward.

In any case, there’s no need to panic. There are plenty of other great companies expanding in our area, including Facebook, Microsoft, and Yelp! Our real estate market has been strong historically, and that won’t change moving forward. 

If you have any more questions about this topic or you’re thinking of buying or selling soon regardless, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I’d love to help you. 

Should You Invest in Real Estate Today?

Given that today’s market leans heavily toward sellers, should you invest in real estate? The answer is yes, but not without following these tips.

Selling a home? Get a free home value report

Our current market is booming with activity and inventory sits at an all-time low, which is leading many of my clients to wonder if there are still opportunities to invest in real estate despite the definite seller’s market we’re in. 

Admittedly, as someone who’s almost always investing in real estate, I can tell you that opportunities are harder to come by when the market favors sellers so strongly. Still, that doesn’t mean there are none whatsoever. With the right guidance and drive, you can find a property worth investing in, and today I’ll offer some tips for doing so. 

Your priority when venturing into the market should be to look for a property that you know will break even. You can’t break even on a property if you’re having to bring money to the table each month.

There’s no limit to the number of properties you can invest in, as long as they have a positive cash flow or are breaking even at the very least.

As a general rule, most people invest in real estate for one of two reasons: to generate cash flow or for appreciation. It’s not often that you’ll find a property that both appreciates and generates considerable cash flow. 

As many of you know, my wife and I own property in Maryland, Virginia, and D.C. The properties we own in Baltimore have yielded double-digit cash flow, but over the last 10 to 12 years, they haven’t appreciated at all. Conversely, my properties in Virginia have hardly produced any cash flow, but their appreciation is soaring—6% to 8% annually.

Another tip when you’re out looking for an investment property is to try and stay under $400,000. Investing in a $1.3 million home in Arlington might sound like a good idea until you realize that the rent you charge will eventually cap out somewhere around $4,000 to $4,500, which won’t be enough to cover your mortgage, taxes, and the costs associated with finding a new tenant. I strongly caution against purchasing above the $400,000 price point if you don’t want your investment to become a financial liability. 

Now, there’s no limit to the number of properties you can invest in, as long as your properties have a positive cash flow or are breaking even at the very least. However, without a constant stream of cash flow, you’ll end up sinking your cash into them month after month, and those are dangerous waters to be in. 

If you have any further questions or you’d like to hear more of my tips on investing in real estate, please reach out to me. I look forward to hearing from you!

A Quick Virtual Tour of a Gorgeous Property

Our newest Great Falls property is absolutely gorgeous. Listed at $3.69 million, this luxurious home boasts a whopping 14,000 square feet. You’ll definitely want to see the stunning photos of this incredible home, both inside and out. We’ve even captured some incredible shots using drone photography. If this home has captured your attention or if you have any questions, feel free to give me a call.

What Do the 5 Richest Counties in the U.S. Have in Common?

What do the five richest counties in the U.S. have in common?

Before we answer that question, let’s add some context to it. According to U.S. News & World Report, the median household income for counties around the nation is $57,652.

What constitutes a household? According to the Census Bureau, a household refers to a single housing unit and all of the people that live in it. For example, a studio apartment, one half of a duplex, and a mansion are all considered a single household. Family households have related residents, such as a husband, wife, and children. People who aren't related who live together, such as roommates or unmarried couples, also constitute a household.

Also, the median household income refers to the income level earned by a given household where half of the homes in the area earn more and half earn less. It's used instead of the average or mean household income because it can give a more accurate picture of an area's actual economic status. Median household incomes are frequently used to determine housing affordability.

Median household incomes are frequently used to determine housing affordability.

Now, the one trait that all five richest counties in the U.S. have in common is...they’re all located around the DC area:

1. Loudoun County, Virginia: $129,588
2. Fairfax County, Virginia: $117,515
3. Howard County, Maryland: $115, 576
4. Falls Church City, Virginia: $114,795
5. Arlington County, Virginia: $112,138

As always, if you have any questions about this or any other real estate topic, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I’d be happy to help you. 

What’s Going on in Our Spring Market?

It’s hard to believe that it’s already May. Now that the first quarter is behind us, let’s take a look at what’s been happening in the market. Specifically, we’ll be going over data related to how conditions have changed since this time last year.

Let’s start with Northern Virginia. Year over year, the median home price has risen by 3.3% (up to $465,000). This rise is likely thanks to the current high demand, which has also caused the average days on market to drop by 23.81% over that same period. It now takes an average of 48 days for homes to sell in our market. 

It’s also worth noting that the average list-to-sales price ratio in Northern Virginia reached 98.8% this May. 

We’re still in a seller’s market, but conditions are beginning to shift.

In Maryland, home prices rose 2.26%. The average days on market, meanwhile, dropped 10.81% to 68 days. Also, the average list-to-sales price ratio in Maryland is 98.5%. And in D.C., specifically, the median sold price rose 3.27% year over year, while the average days on market in the district dropped 17.19% (to 53 days) in that same period. 

So what does this all mean for you?

In general, we’re still in a seller’s market, but conditions are beginning to shift. So if you’ve been thinking of selling, now may be a good time to do so. 

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. 

Make Your Yard Shine With these Spring Cleaning Tips

Here are a few spring cleaning tips for your property that will help make the outside look clean and organized:
  • Trim the trees. Sometimes I trim the trees on my property during the fall, but this year we decided to do it in spring.
  • Remove any dead plants or bushes and plant some new ones in their place. Adding dark mulch always is always a nice touch.
  • Reevaluate the lawn. You might have some bald spots leftover from the winter.
  • Clean the gutters. You don’t want your basement to end up flooded because of clogged gutters, so be sure to check that water is able to flow freely through your downspout as well. 
If you’re selling your home, it’s very important that your lot looks great, so these tips become even more crucial to follow up on before entering the spring market.

If you’d like to know more spring cleaning tips you can apply to your home or you have any other real estate questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I’d be happy to help you.

How the Latest Stats From Our Market Compare to Last Year’s

What’s the latest news from our Northern Virginia/Maryland/Washington DC market? Here are the latest statistics and how they stack up compared to this time last year:

Northern Virginia:

  • The median sold price rose 4.65% to $450,000
  • The average days on market dropped 19.23% to 63 days—this number is higher because it includes luxury homes, which often take two or three years to sell
  • Homes are selling at 98% of their asking price


  • The median sold price rose 4.02% to $329,900
  • The average days on market dropped 8.43% to 76 days
  • Homes are selling at 97.1% of their asking price

Washington DC:

  • The median sold price rose 7.77% to $555,000
  • The average days on market dropped 14.08% to 61 days
  • Homes are selling at 97.5% of asking price

If you’d like to know what these statistics mean for your buying or selling plans or you have any more questions about our market, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I’d love to speak with you.

Tips for Getting off the Mortgage Treadmill

I just jumped off the treadmill in my home gym, which got me thinking about a different kind of treadmill: the mortgage treadmill. Many of us jumped on this treadmill whole-heartedly, but we can’t wait to get off of it.

Truth be told, I’d rather be paying my mortgage than paying someone else’s, so that’s fine. Reports show that people who own homes have a net worth that’s 44 times higher than renters. Even the millennials are catching up and understanding that real estate will be their No. 1 priority in the next few years.

If you do already have a mortgage and you want to pay it off faster, all you need to do is make one extra payment per year. You could put a work bonus toward it or simply increase each mortgage payment by one-twelfth. That will shorten your payment period by four years, which will save you a lot of money.

If you are like most Americans and only plan on living in your home for five to seven years, you may want to consider refinancing to an adjustable-rate mortgage that’s fixed for five to seven years. This can save you tons of money as well.

The money won’t come out of nowhere. Sacrifices will need to be made. However, if you cut some wasteful spending and just apply it to your mortgage, your run on the mortgage treadmill will be much shorter.

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

The Top 5 Mistakes Sellers Make

Are you having trouble selling your home? If so, it may be because you've made one of these five home selling mistakes:

1. Overpricing the home. People think they can simply price their home high and negotiate if necessary. While it’s possible, this is not recommended. When you sit on the market for months before adjusting your price, it doesn’t reflect well on your listing. Even after the price has been lowered, buyers will think something’s wrong with it since it’s been on the market for so long. Avoid this by pricing your home reasonably from the outset.

2. Doing a “For Sale By Owner.” 92% of FSBO sellers end up using a real estate agent, so it’s best not to waste your time. Let the professionals handle it.

3. Not getting the house ready. If you want to sell your home quickly and for top dollar, your home needs to be adequately prepared. A Realtor will tell you what needs to be done and show you where you should put your money for a great return on investment. You’re basically entering a beauty contest for your home, so it needs to look great.

4. Not having a walk-through inspection. Go through the home with an inspector, contractor, or agent to find issues that need to be addressed before you list.

5. Being present for showings. Buyers will want to look through your home, but if you’re looking around in the background, they won’t feel very comfortable exploring. While you’re there, you’re actually hurting the showing. It’s best to simply leave your buyers in peace.

If you have any questions or need further information, feel free to reach out to me. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Buy the Right Home at the Right Price By Following the 5 P’s

If you’re a homebuyer in our market, here are the five P’s you need to remember to find the right home at the right price:

1. Professional: Find a real estate professional to work with. Work with someone who knows the area you want to buy in and knows how to negotiate. We’re in a low-inventory market here in the DC area, so if you don’t hire an expert to represent you, you won’t get the property you want.

2. Price: Know your price range. You don’t want to waste your time shopping for homes you can’t afford.

3. Preferences: Know your preferences. What are the items you must have regarding your new home? For example, do you need to live in a certain school district?

4. Perspective: Gain some perspective on the neighborhood you’re buying in. Start driving around the area and checking the comparable home sales from the past few months so you can make an educated buying decision. Having a knowledgeable real estate professional by your side can really help you with this process.

5. Put it all in play: This one is self-explanatory. Once you understand the previous items on this list, it’s time to put it all in play and buy the home you deserve.

If you have any questions about this method or you have any other real estate needs I can take care of, don’t hesitate to give me a call or shoot me an email. I’d be happy to help you.