Real Estate Information Archive


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The path to home ownership is easier than many Home Buyers think. This is because Buyers often overestimate both the down payment and credit score needed to qualify for a home loan. In a recent article, First American Economic Blog shared:

"Saving for a down payment is one of the biggest obstacles faced by first-time home buyers. Dispelling the 20 percent down payment myth could open the path to homeownership for many more."

In my experience, it's not just first-time home buyers that underestimate their ability to obtain financing. There is a vast population of would be home buyers that will be glad to know there are mortgage programs available today with as little as 3%, 5% or 10% down. I meet with these Lenders everyday and I'm happy to share their contact information with you. 

According to the same article:

“Americans still overestimate the qualifications needed to get a mortgage, resulting in qualified potential buyers not even considering homeownership.


Expanding on this, Buyers make the mistake of assuming they need an 'excellent' credit score to be approved for a mortgage when in fact a 'good' credit score can work. Too often they assume their credit score won't cut the mustard and don't take the time to check. For example, believing 700 is a 'fair' credit score when it actually falls in a 'good' classification according to Experian. 

Here is the breakdown of credit score classifications according to Experian:

  • 16% Very Poor (300-579)
  • 18% Fair (580-669)
  • 21% Good (670-739)
  • 25% Very Good (740-799)
  • 20% Exceptional (800-850)

Another interesting fact is, according to Ellie Mae's Origination Insight Report, a whopping 41% of all recently approved loans had credit scores ranging from 650-750. 

So, with all of this in mind, if you or someone you know is considering buying a home but you're not sure if you qualify, I hope you'll reach out. In the worst case scenario you'll get sound advice on how to improve your credit score and in the best case scenario you'll be on the path to homeownership! To get started give me a call today! 703-216-2620



Last week I met with a new client for the first time. He was looking at homes priced up to $600,000 in Lorton, Burke, Springfield and Woodbridge. When I asked him if he had met with a loan officer to qualify for a mortgage he replied, "No, I've been using a mortgage calculator".  He has good credit and he was comfortable with a mortgage payment of up to $3000 per month. The problem was, he didn't calculate in taxes, insurance or HOA fee's which totaled $750 per month. Of course, this raised the total monthly payment significantly.

My client was disappointed to learn that he was calculating a principle and interest only payment which was far lower than what the actual payment would be. This information changed his price range and we started looking at less expensive homes. 

Consequently, there can be a substantial difference in the total tax bill (on similar homes) within the same zip code but different neighborhoods. Some differences align to lot size but some of it is simply because one neighborhood commands higher sales prices than another. You'll find higher tax bills in higher priced neighborhoods.

Here's an example of how the tax bill differs from a neighborhood in Lorton (Fairfax County) compared to Woodbridge (Prince William County). I compared a 2800 SQ FT home in Lorton's Laurel Hill neighborhood to a home with similar SQ FT in Port Potomac (Woodbridge). The total tax bill of the Laurel Hill property was close to $6700 while the Port Potomac property was close to $5200.  That may be fine for some and a deal breaker for others when factoring in gas prices and commute time. In either case, it's good to know. 

Before you officially start looking at properties it's always best to meet with a reputable local loan officer to get your price range squared away. I can work with you and your loan officer to get the information you and he/she need related to taxes and HOA fees so you can make informed decisions.




Are you thinking about selling your house soon?

by Susan Borrelli

It’s difficult to know when is the best time to sell, or how to get the most money for your house, but you don’t need to go through the process alone.

You may be wondering if prices are projected to rise or fall…or how much competition you may be facing in your neighborhood. My free eGuide will answer many of your questions and likely bring up a few things you haven’t even thought about yet.

Simply send me an email to / subject line: Seller eGuide to receive your copy of the eGuide. Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions.

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 or go to:   

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 or go to:   

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  



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: or 703-216-2620.

Visit 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!


How to Decide Between Multiple Offers - 5 Tips Worth Reading

by Susan Borrelli

When the market favors the seller, there's always the possibility of a multiple offer situation. These tips from a recent Re/ blog post are worth sharing. 


Sellers: How to Decide Between Multiple Offers

Thu, November 12, 2015

What a splendid dilemma! You’ve received several offers on your property. Which one should you choose? It’s not always the highest one.

Here are just some of the areas your agent could ask you to pay particularly close attention to as you're weighing the options.

1. Do the math.
This goes beyond simply calculating the dollar difference between the various offer prices. Before you do that, be sure to do all the math. Subtract things like seller subsidy, home warranty, temporary housing (see 4.) and potential repairs to determine the net proceeds of each offer.

2. Consider the financing.
Can the buyer provide proof from the lending bank that there are funds to back the offer? Your agent can help verify this – and help you understand the terms of the buyer's financing.

3. Motivation.
Do the buyers have a baby-sitting parent in the neighborhood? A new job just around the corner? Buyers with extra motivation to purchase your home are less likely to press for concessions and more likely to work harder to close the deal. Some buyers even include a personal letter with their offer to explain why they want the home. These letters can be particularly helpful in multiple-offer situations.

4. Timeline.
Note the closing date each offer proposes. You'll want a closing date that best meets your needs. You can always counter a closing date, too, if the best offer doesn't quite meet your timeline.

***I've added #5 because it's been a talking point raised by several of my clients recently.

5. Peace of Mind. If a quick sale and peace of mind that the cash is in the bank are your priorities, then a quick settlement may outweigh a few thousand dollars. This was the case for one of my clients who wanted to proceed quickly to settlement before making an offer on a new home. She had two offers but the higher priced offer couldn't close for 60 days. She elected to take a few thousand dollars less in return for a swift settlement. If this sounds more your speed, that's fine- just think it through and do your homework. Do you have a place to stay or will you need to pay for short term housing? How much will it cost to store your belongings? How much will a moving company charge for a tiered move? Those are some of the things to research before accepting an offer on your home. Give me a call, I can help.

Weighing the pros and cons of each offer can be tricky. An experienced agent can help you clarify, calculate and secure the very best deal for you.

If you're considering selling your home and would like to know what your home is worth in today's market, give me a call at 703-216-2620 or contact me by email at

Best 5 Tips to CALMLY prepare your home for the booming market

by Susan Borrelli

Tip  #1 Organize one room at a time. This will lead to feeling satisfied with daily results and ultimately you'll feel encouraged to continue. Start by packing items you don't use AND if you haven't used an item in over 2 years, consider donating it to a local charity. In terms of clothing, here's a trick I learned from a professional organizer. Hang up your cloths and turn all the hangers in one direction. After you wear an item, hang it back up but turn the hanger in the opposite direction. Live in the truth that it may be time to give away some of your old favorite clothing. Don't fret - you won't miss it! Remember, out of site, out of mind.  

Tip # 2  Discard unnecessary documents. For some people, organizing and/or discarding unnecessary paperwork is the most time consuming task to clearing away clutter. If you're not sure which documents can be shredded, talk to your accountant. If you need help, ask your accountant if you can hire their assistant for a few hours or hire a professional organizer that specializes in organizing documents. By the way, buy a shredder or call Secure Shred to discard important documents properly. 

Tip # 3 Discard old furniture that you won't be taking with you. This way you also get a better picture of what marks are on the walls and which walls need paint. If you're offering furniture to friends or family, give them a drop dead date for pick up.  

Tip # 4 Buy large, clear plastic bags to store clothing donations, linens, bedspreads, pillows and teddy bears ; ). Even though you may eventually put them in a box, this offers a layer of protection from dust and bugs until you donate or move.

Tip #5 If you have a lot of stuff to donate, schedule multiple pick-ups. Don't let donations sit around taking up space. Organizations like Purple Heart are in your neighborhood often. Set aside time to record your donations for tax purposes then schedule a pick-up.


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  

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 30