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Year after year the demand for single level living rises in Northern Virginia. This is particularly true in 55+/Active Adult communities. The population is aging and with age, many people find it difficult to get up and down stairs but they can do just fine on their own otherwise. There is also the population of 55+ people who simply like the resort style living (golf, indoor and outdoor pools, activities, exercise classes) offered in many of these communities. The problem is, rental housing that allows for single level living is hard to come by in Fairfax County and Prince William County. I know this because I'm a Seniors Real Estate Specialist and the number of calls I receive from people looking for rental housing in 55+ / active adult communities has skyrocketed. Communities such as Spring Hill in Lorton, River Ridge near Occoquan, Four Seasons in Dumfries and Regency at Dominion Valley in Haymarket are just a few of the spectacular 55+/Active Adult communities in which you could find a good investment property to buy, Rent Quickly and hold. 

To learn more about Northern Virginia's 55+/Active Adult Communities or to receive listings-by-email, you can contact me at SusanBorrelliHomes@gmail.com or go to: www.NorthernVirginiaSelectProperties.com   

There's no question about it- the demand for single level living has risen dramatically in our Northern Virginia 55+/Active Adult communities. The population is aging and with age, many people find it difficult to get up and down stairs. The problem is, rental housing that allows for single level living is hard to come by in Fairfax County and Prince William County. I know this because I'm a Seniors Real Estate Specialist and the number of calls I receive from people looking for rental housing in 55+ / active adult communities has skyrocketed. Communities such as Spring Hill in Lorton, River Ridge near Occoquan, Four Seasons in Dumfries and Regency at Dominion Valley in Haymarket are just a few of the spectacular 55+/Active Adult communities in which you could find a good investment property to buy, rent quickly and hold. 

To learn more about Northern Virginia's 55+/Active Adult Communities or to receive listings-by-email, you can contact me at SusanBorrelliHomes@gmail.com or go to: www.NorthernVirginiaSelectProperties.com   

Buy & Hold Real Estate Wealth Building Strategy

by Susan Borrelli

I personally believe buying & holding real estate is one of the most effective wealth building strategies available to us as individuals. Holding one or more rental properties affords us the long term opportunity to own the property outright. Unfortunately, Principle Pay Down/Building Equity is a strategy that many people overlook because it's not a get rich quick scheme. In essence, the tenant pays down the landlords mortgage in the form of rent (payments are applied to principle, interest, taxes and insurance). Over time, the principle amount owed diminishes and your equity in the home increases. When you sell (10, 20 or 30 years from now) you have a nice chunk of equity or you own the property outright. 

Potential tax benefits, appreciation and passive income during retirement are more good reasons to consider investing in real estate.  

As with all investment strategies, due diligence is required. Seek the help of a local Realtor to identify areas where homes rent quickly and to verify market rent in those areas. A local lending professional can help you understand your loan options and consult your accountant to assess potential tax benefits. 

If you're considering purchasing a rental property in Northern Virginia and would like to know more about current rental conditions or areas where homes rent quickly and for top dollar, don't hesitate to contact me at SusanBorrelliHomes@gmail.com.  

 

 

There's a new energized direction in downsizing. It's called right-sizing, it's trending and it's happening at an earlier age. People are trading in their big, longtime homes for smaller, comfortable, yet luxurious homes and the accompanying lifestyle and amenities. Homes are often half the size but newer and more energy efficient. They're beautifully upgraded and the communities in which they reside typically come with luxurious amenities and an active lifestyle such as golf, workout facilities, indoor and outdoor pools, themed parties and even on premise restaurant, activity director and concierge services. In essence, people are trading up! They're not waiting for retirement to make their move and why should they?

The HOA fee may be a little higher but in return, there is less spent on upgrading and repairs on the old home, lower taxes, reduced utilities and little or no yard work.  People experience a better, active, resort-like lifestyle after years of hard work. 

The trade-offs are your neighbors are a little closer and the work commute may be a little further. Though you may need to downsize your belongings, in the scheme of things, it could be a great excuse to discard old furniture and modernize. 

If you would like more information about Northern Virginia's active lifestyle communities, you can contact me at: SusanBorrelliHomes@gmail.com or 703-216-2620.

Visit www.NorthernVirginiaSelectProperties.com to see active listings for sale in 55+/Active Adult communities: Spring Hill in Lorton, Four Seasons in Dumfries, River Ridge near Historic Occoquan, Regency at Dominion Valley in Haymarket and much more!

 

Best 55+ Active Adult Communities in Northern Virginia

by Susan Borrelli

Did you know there are some very appealing active adult communities in Northern Virginia that were not established as such? Their rise is organic in nature. Some condominium buildings in Alexandria, for example, have morphed into 55+ / active adult populations as owners who have owned for decades and love the feeling of the community, simply elect to stay. Many of these buildings have convenient access to I395 and have one or more dining rooms, party rooms, game rooms, a pool, physicians and even a convenient store on premise.  Other neighborhoods, such as beautiful River Ridge in Woodbridge, VA is a true active adult community (with age restrictions), but many of the homeowners still work and the convenient location lends itself to an easy commute. River Ridge had been a little known gem but has rapidly gained popularity due to its beautiful views, the amenities and SRES Realtors such as myself who have listed and sold homes in the community and who understand the appeal.  

What is the best community for you? It depends on many factors. For example, you'll pay more in HOA fee's for a golf community so if you're not a golfer, that will likely not appeal to you.  If you work in Northern Virginia or in DC, the closer-in communities of Spring Hill in Lorton (golf course next door, indoor pool) or River Ridge (nature, mature trees, amenities) may appeal to you.  

Two of my retired clients purchased homes in beautiful Four Seasons located in Dumfries, VA. The HOA fee was reasonable, the location off  I95 is convenient and the terrific floor plans easily accommodated their needs.

I've visited all of the active adult communities in Northern Virginia and in my opinion, they all have a  "WOW" factor. Developers put a significant amount of money into the design and the amenities. In fact, I anticipate there will be more than one community you would consider. I'd be happy to sit down and discuss your needs as well as the pro's and con's of each community. Your commute, interests, location of friends, family and physician offices and your space requirements will play into which communities may or may not work for you. Once we've discussed your needs, we'll visit the communities, the spectacular community clubhouses and amenities and of course, the homes for sale. Even if your not quite ready to move forward, give me a call. I'm here to help and to answer any preliminary questions you may have. Call me today at 703-216-2620 or send me an email SusanBorrelliHomes@gmail.com.  

Tips For Selling A Home In Today's Market - Happy Selling!

by Susan Borrelli

Although it may be difficult to think about on these frigid winter days, the spring real estate market is just around the corner.  This is one of the busiest times with an abundance of listings popping up in neighborhoods all over Northern Virginia.  HGTV provided a list of 10 ideas you can use to help your home stand out amongst the competition.  Happy Selling!

10 Best-Kept Secrets for Selling Your Home

Tricks of the trade to help you get top dollar when selling your home. 

 
Tags:
  1. Home Staging
Home Exterior With

HGTV's Buying and Selling offers up the industry's best-kept secrets to help you get top dollar when selling your home. 

Selling Secret #10: Pricing it right
Find out what your home is worth, then shave 15 to 20 percent off the price. You’ll be stampeded by buyers with multiple bids — even in the worst markets — and they’ll bid up the price over what it’s worth. It takes real courage and most sellers just don’t want to risk it, but it’s the single best strategy to sell a home in today’s market.

Selling Secret #9: Half-empty closets
Storage is something every buyer is looking for and can never have enough of. Take half the stuff out of your closets then neatly organize what’s left in there. Buyers will snoop, so be sure to keep all your closets and cabinets clean and tidy.

Selling Secret #8: Light it up
Maximize the light in your home. After location, good light is the one thing that every buyer cites that they want in a home. Take down the drapes, clean the windows, change the lampshades, increase the wattage of your light bulbs and cut the bushes outside to let in sunshine. Do what you have to do make your house bright and cheery – it will make it more sellable.

Selling Secret #7: Play the agent field
A secret sale killer is hiring the wrong broker. Make sure you have a broker who is totally informed. They must constantly monitor the multiple listing service (MLS), know what properties are going on the market and know the comps in your neighborhood. Find a broker who embraces technology – a tech-savvy one has many tools to get your house sold.

Selling Secret #6: Conceal the critters
You might think a cuddly dog would warm the hearts of potential buyers, but you’d be wrong. Not everybody is a dog- or cat-lover. Buyers don’t want to walk in your home and see a bowl full of dog food, smell the kitty litter box or have tufts of pet hair stuck to their clothes. It will give buyers the impression that your house is not clean. If you’re planning an open house, send the critters to a pet hotel for the day.

Selling Secret #5: Don’t over-upgrade
Quick fixes before selling always pay off. Mammoth makeovers, not so much. You probably won’t get your money back if you do a huge improvement project before you put your house on the market. Instead, do updates that will pay off and get you top dollar. Get a new fresh coat of paint on the walls. Clean the curtains or go buy some inexpensive new ones. Replace door handles, cabinet hardware, make sure closet doors are on track, fix leaky faucets and clean the grout.

Selling Secret #4: Take the home out of your house
One of the most important things to do when selling your house is to de-personalize it. The more personal stuff in your house, the less potential buyers can imagine themselves living there. Get rid of a third of your stuff – put it in storage. This includes family photos, memorabilia collections and personal keepsakes. Consider hiring a home stager to maximize the full potential of your home. Staging simply means arranging your furniture to best showcase the floor plan and maximize the use of space.

Selling Secret #3: The kitchen comes first
You’re not actually selling your house, you’re selling your kitchen – that’s how important it is. The benefits of remodeling your kitchen are endless, and the best part of it is that you’ll probably get 85% of your money back. It may be a few thousand dollars to replace countertops where a buyer may knock $10,000 off the asking price if your kitchen looks dated. The fastest, most inexpensive kitchen updates include painting and new cabinet hardware. Use a neutral-color paint so you can present buyers with a blank canvas where they can start envisioning their own style. If you have a little money to spend, buy one fancy stainless steel appliance. Why one? Because when people see one high-end appliance they think all the rest are expensive too and it updates the kitchen.

Selling Secret #2: Always be ready to show
Your house needs to be "show-ready" at all times – you never know when your buyer is going to walk through the door. You have to be available whenever they want to come see the place and it has to be in tip-top shape. Don’t leave dishes in the sink, keep the dishwasher cleaned out, the bathrooms sparkling and make sure there are no dust bunnies in the corners. It’s a little inconvenient, but it will get your house sold.

Selling Secret #1: The first impression is the only impression
No matter how good the interior of your home looks, buyers have already judged your home before they walk through the door. You never have a second chance to make a first impression. It’s important to make people feel warm, welcome and safe as they approach the house. Spruce up your home’s exterior with inexpensive shrubs and brightly colored flowers. You can typically get a 100-percent return on the money you put into your home’s curb appeal. Entryways are also important. You use it as a utility space for your coat and keys. But, when you’re selling, make it welcoming by putting in a small bench, a vase of fresh-cut flowers or even some cookies.

A New Year Brings New Hope to the Spring Real Estate Market

by Susan Borrelli

The beginning of the year always brings about hope, excitement and anticipation of good things ahead and 2016 is no different.  We believe that this year will be a much better year for real estate in Northern Virginia.  There are many reasons for this optimism – great rates, new financing programs, lower inventory levels, positive consumer confidence and pent-up demand.

Let’s review each of these areas.HOPE SPARK IN 2015 REAL ESTATE MARKET

  • Great rates. Although there has been a very slight uptick in rates recently, rates remain very low historically.  Additionally, the interest rates will remain low through 2015 perhaps not reaching 5% until later in the year.
  • New financing programs. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae have both begun to accept 3% down payments for first time home buyers.  There will be guidelines such as a minimum 620 credit score, borrowers will have to take an educational class, and they couldn’t have owned a home in the last 3 years to qualify.  With 45% of renters delaying a home purchase because of available funds for a down payment, this should increase the number of home buyers in 2015.
  • Lower inventory levels. In September of this year, we reached a 7 year high in inventory in Northern Virginia with 9,163 houses for sale.  Since that time, the number of available homes has declined each week.  We now have just 5,944 homes for sale which resulted in a brisk sales month for December.  Some of these properties will come back on the market this upcoming spring, but many sold.  As long as we have a moderate winter weather-wise, inventory will slowly enter the market and we won’t have the accelerated inventory levels we experienced in May of 2014 due to the weather.
  • Positive consumer confidence. Many more people today believe that the economy, their personal situation and the real estate market are all going to be better in the future.  These optimistic expectations are leading indicators to people purchasing in the upcoming months – including housing.  Additionally, Freddie Mac and builders also have high expectations of the housing market.  These expectations will have a positive impact on housing in 2015.
  • Pent up demand. As previously mentioned, December experienced a brisk sales month here locally.  We continue to receive calls, emails and internet requests on our homes for sale.   This shows us that there are many people ready to buy the right home that suits their personal lifestyle needs.  Also, many people who went through distressed sales just a few years ago are able to purchase again.  Job growth coupled with population growth locally will also increase demand for housing.

One other area to see home ownership grow in 2015 and beyond is the Millennial homebuyers.  They believe in home ownership as a wealth building opportunity and an overwhelming majority of them will be buying in the next 5 years.  Lastly, rising rental rates will push more people into ownership as a cost savings measure.

All of these positive influences in our region will strengthen our housing market in 2015 and beyond.  As we see our local economy continuing to rebound after 4 years of stagnant growth, this will have a positive impact on housing.  To see what this means to you, please feel free to contact me.

Cheers in the New Year!

 

Top 25 Biggest Renovating Mistakes

by Ron and Susan

A new year could mean new renovations to your home. Make sure to watch out for these possible renovating mistakes to avoid stress and trouble!

http://www.hgtv.com/homekeeping/

-Ron and Susan 

Forecasting The Real Estate Market With Government Shutdown

by Ron and Susan

 

Wow, where did September go?  It was a very interesting month – kids went back to school, football season started, the weather has changed, the housing market remained strong and the government shut down for the first time in 17 years.

 

It will be interesting to see how the stock market reacts to the government shutdown, what the impact will be on rates, the housing market and how long it lasts.  If it is a quick shut down, we will probably see little reaction in the stock market and as a result, rates and the housing market.  If it is a prolonged shutdown of a few weeks or more, the stock market will have a negative reaction, rates will rise as bond yields decrease and we could see a loss of momentum in the housing sector of the economy.  What will happen to government backed loans in process and how will it affect settlements?  None of these are helpful to our economy since the housing recovery leads the economic recovery as a whole.  At this time, it appears as if this could last longer than just a day or two so let’s get prepared for a rocky economic road the next few weeks.

Let’s talk about the real estate market in September.  We did see a pickup in sales over last year in Northern Virginia.  Inventory increased slightly which gave buyers more choices.  As inventory increased, distressed properties made up a lower percentage of this increase which is great for home owners.  New home sales continue their strong pace of sales.  Interest rates came back down as the government eased off their threat of reducing their purchasing of mortgage backed securities and we still see multiple contracts on properties in certain price points and locations.

All in all, September was a good month for Northern Virginia real estate.  We need this trend to continue, so let’s hope the shutdown gets resolved more quickly than it appears it will.

Answers to Last Blog Post on Abgreviations!

by Ron and Susan

 

     If you had trouble with these abbreviations and had to rack your brain for hours on end, don't worry! Even WE had to look up what some of these crazy shortcuts mean. You don't have to worry any longer, because here are the answers to last week's challenge!

 

 “SS appls”   =   Stainless steel appliances

 “LR, FR, DR, Kit”   =   Living room, family room, dining room, kitchen

“w/o LL"   =   Walk out on lover level

“Hrdwd Flrs”   =   Hardwood floors

“frpl”   =   Fireplace

“MBR w/sit rm & wi closet”   =   Master bedroom with sitting room & walk in closet

“S.L. 3-car gar”   =   Side load 3-car garage

“Lux BA w/whirlpl jets & sep shwr”   =   Luxurious bathroom with whirlpool jets &                                                                separate shower

“SGD”   =   Sliding glass door

“Sit Rm”   =   Sitting room

“LL: FF, RR/FP, wet br"   =   Lower level is fully finished: recreation room with                                                   fireplace and wet bar   

“ESIK”   =   Eating space in kitchen

 

     ....All we have to say is, "WOW". The lesson here is don't go crazy with abbreviations. If you do decide to use them, make sure that people will know what they mean immediately and without confusion. TIP: If you want to test out an abbreviation you came up with yourself, show it to 5-10 different people and see if they will know what it means right away. If they pass the test, then you have a green light to use that abbreviation.

Happy Listing! 
 

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