Real Estate Information Archive


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 11


Housing Inventory IncreaseWow, it is hard to believe that we are almost half way through 2014 and summer is just about to get into full swing.  It is going to be interesting to see how we get through the real estate market this summer as we had no true spring selling season.  Now that school is about to get out, people will be taking their vacations.  So it is important for sellers to be prepared for the upcoming situation.

Our inventory levels have continued to escalate since the warm weather broke in May.  It has resulted in us having more homes for sale than any time since October on 2011.  As we enter the summertime, the season generally slows down which will increase inventory as well, so sellers need to do all they can to attract the buyers that are out looking for a new home.  Sellers need to position their properties accordingly, as there is currently a 2 month supply of houses on the market.  The inside and the outside of the house needs to shine and show like a model home, as well as be priced to sell!  We are not able to “push” prices like we did earlier this year. What it takes to sell your house in 2014The sellers who overprice their properties, even just above what we recommend, sit on the market.  Additionally, we are having appraisal issues with properties in areas where there are no sales to support the higher values – even in multiple contract situations in arm’s length transactions.  The underwriting guidelines have made it tougher to get above market values approved, so please price your house accordingly.


-Ron and Susan

Caution When Using Home Estimate Websites

by Ron and Susan

These days, there are a lot of websites available to buyers in aiding them to find the perfect home in the right price range. However, nothing beats the value of having a local Realtor provide timely market information and statistics! Check out this blog post and find out why you should use caution when using certain websites:

-Ron and Susan

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!

-Ron and Susan 

2014 U.S. Housing Outlook

by Ron and Susan

With 2013 drawing to a close, predictions for the 2014 housing market are appearing. Check out this article on the International Business Times for their outlook!

If you want to know what YOUR home is worth, call-us for a no cost or obligation consultation at 1-888-495-6207.

October took the real estate market roller coaster ride.

Rates went up, rates came down.  Sales went down, sales went up. Inventory rose, inventory came back down.

Real Estate Market Roller Coaster Ride 31OCT2013

In some areas, the number of multiple contracts went down, then they went back up.  Inventory of short sales and foreclosures were down, then they rose but luckily by not too much.  The government shut down and the government opened back up – luckily, it was not too long and did not have a tremendous impact on the housing market.

Our emotions went up, our emotions came back down, as there was a lot of concern about delays in closings associated with the shut down because of the reduced number of employees at FHA and the IRS, but we avoided a potential disaster there.  Additionally, we were worried about the government defaulting on their debt which would have sent interest rates skyrocketing, and again, fortunately, this did not happen.

Even though there were so many ups and downs, the market in October this year was still better compared to a year ago.  There were more home sales, higher home prices and more homes for sale for buyers to choose from, although the uncertainty skewed people’s perception.  So now you know why October was such a roller coaster for real estate.

What lies ahead on the horizon as we enter the winter market?  My belief is we will be in our typical winter market.  Homes will come off the market for the holidays.  Motivated, savvy buyers will be out buying homes.  Interest rates will remain in the low 4% range.  Home prices will continue to stabilize throughout the Northern Virginia area.  Houses that are priced right, in the right condition and right location will see multiple offers and our market won’t be as up and down as it was in October.  Basically, we will continue to have a robust housing market locally.

Real Estate Bloopers

by Ron Kowalski


     When listing a home for sale, it is important to use images and words in your marketing materials that accurately describe the property so that potential buyers are excited about going to view it – and hopefully make an offer.  The proper spelling of descriptive words is imperative.  One small typo can change the entire meaning of your message and confuse a potential buyer.  But, they can also be quite funny.  So, here are some that I have come across in my 10+ years in the business:


Large panty in kitchen (pantry)

Just lusted (listed)

Fresh pain throughout (paint)

Heated poo in back yard (pool)

Backs to tree (trees)

Custom inferior paint (interior)

Large walking closet (walk-in)

Stainless steal appliances (steel)

Remolded bathrooms (remodeled)

Ceiling fangs in all bedrooms (fans)


     Yes, these are funny.  But a poorly worded real estate ad, one filled with grammatical errors or typos – whether they’re funny or not – does reflect poorly on your home and on your agent’s professionalism.  Be sure to spell-check all ads, listings, brochures and flyers to ensure they are accurate.

     Even worse than typos, though, are bad photos.  The listing of your property needs plenty of professional photos.  Without them, potential buyers will simply click to another property.  If you fill your listing with dark, unappealing photos – perhaps a shot of a cluttered kitchen counter or a master bedroom shot that makes the room appear smaller than it actually is – you’ll be hurting your chances to make a sale.  Perhaps not so funny, but the photos here are examples of what not to do.

     If you’re shopping real estate professionals to represent you in the sale of your home, make sure to take a long look at their listings. Search for any obvious typos – and look for stunning photos. You’ll need your home to look its best – both in person and in the listings advertising it – if you want to attract offers in today’s challenging home-selling market.


If you have any others funny real estate typos or photos, please feel free to post below!



Multiple Offer Strategies to Help Home Buyers

by Ron and Susan


It is no surprise that we are seeing more and more multiple contract situations. The perfect storm is in place – interest rates are at 65 year lows, inventory levels are at extremely low levels, and there are buyers anxious to get into houses. Affordability levels are near all-time highs as well so it only makes sense that buyers are finding themselves competing to get into a home today.

So, the question is how do you win and get the home your client’s desire?

  • Add an escalation clause which allows you to bid up the price above any other offer up to an amount you are comfortable paying. The escalation amount should be an interesting number like $1,150 as most people just do $500 or $1,000 – make your offer stand out.
  • Increase your earnest money deposit to show your interest in purchasing the house. If your down payment is 20%, make your deposit 10%. If you are doing FHA, have your deposit equal your down payment of 3.5%. You are going to be putting the money down anyway, why not do this and attract more attention to your offer?
  • Have a very short time frame on your home inspection contingency and radon contingency if you choose to have them. Also, consider doing the inspection contingencies for informational purposes only just leaving yourself the opportunity to void if you find something so egregious or beyond what you expected. If you and your agent are confident in the home’s condition, you may want to consider eliminating these contingencies but be extremely cautious when not exercising these contingencies.
  • Have a quick settlement date – Ashley Smith with Atlantic Coast Mortgage can close a loan in just 8 days if she has a complete loan application from her clients.
  • Additionally, encourage your loan officer to be proactive and call the listing agent and explain the financial arrangements and status of the loan. Pat Cunningham of Home Savings and Trust was one of the first lenders to mention he was doing this for his clients.
  • Allow the seller to rent back after closing giving them flexibility on when they need to move or to give them time to find a home.
  • Put in a home of choice contingency for the sellers if they have not found a home yet – make the contingency for an extended period of time so they have the opportunity to find the house they really want.
  • If you are so bold, you can have the clients waive the appraisal contingency. In order to do this, you need to work in conjunction with your lender and see if they can get a quick turnaround on the appraisal. If so, have the appraisal done in concert with the home inspection contingency and if it doesn't appraise, you can void based upon the home inspection or on the HOA/condo documents. Not one of my favorite suggestions but it is a strategy you can undertake to help your contract win. Also, if your lender can get a quick turnaround, make the appraisal contingency 5 or 7 days.
  • If you are dealing with a home owner and not a bank or investor, have your clients write a letter along with photos explaining why the house is so important to them and the trials and tribulations of their home buying experience. It can sometimes help to pull on the heart strings of the owners.
  • You can explain to the listing agent, the highest contract isn’t always the best contract. You need to have the right people in place to consummate the transaction not just someone willing to throw a high number just to get the house to only experience remorse later and back out of the contract.

These tips will help you win more contracts. Consult with the clients and make sure they are comfortable with your recommendations prior to implementing them so they fully understand the repercussions of their actions.



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! 

Abbreviations That Will Confuse Your Clients

by Ron Kowalski


Abbreviating may be shorter, but readers may miss the message.

     In my 10 years as a real estate professional, I’ve seen a lot of things that make me say, “what?”.  One area where I see a lot of ambiguity is in the property descriptions for houses for sale in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS).  Communication is VERY important in our industry and being as clear as possible can help market a home more effectively, avoid misunderstandings, and even reduce legal liability.

     As listing agents, we have 400 characters in the MLS to describe the home, showcase the community, and provide any special instructions such as showing times, or to tell a buyer’s agent whether Fido will bite.  I understand that we want to squeeze in as much information in as we can, but sometimes using abbreviations can lead to confusion.

     So, in the interest of having fun, and not trying to pick on any particular real estate professional (because we’ve all done it), here is a list of real estate abbreviations from actual listings in our area.  See if you can figure out what they mean and comment below.  Answers will be posted next week.  Happy sleuthing!


“SS appls”                                                          

“LR, FR, DR, Kit”

“w/o LL”

“Hrdwd Flrs”


“MBR w/sit rm & wi closet”

“S.L. 3-car gar”

“Lux BA w/whirlpl jets & sep shwr”


“Sit Rm”

“LL: FF, RR/FP, wet br”



What You Need to Know to Prepare for a Home Appraisal

by Ron and Susan

Here are a few key items to take into consideration when know who you are working with on your appraisal:


Did you know there are two types of appraisers?
– Licensed and Certified
Do you know the difference?

  • Larger banks are paying less to appraisers through Appraisal Management Companies.  Almost all of the banks own them so they can make more money.  This is not always a “good thing”.  Often times you will get an appraiser with less experience or one that will rush through the process because they have to make up their income by doing more volume.  Appraisal companies are in place to put a buffer between the lender, Realtor and appraiser to perpetuate a more “arm’s length” transaction.  What has resulted is that the banks are using this as a profit center and not always employing best in class appraisers.
  • Check with the appraiser’s competency and local knowledge.  Ask where they are located and if they are familiar with your property/area.  Additionally, ask how long have they been appraising homes?  Lastly, check and see if they work from home or office?   Many small owner operators work from home and as a result, don’t get exposures to other appraisers.  This lack of networking, idea sharing and updates on the market can hurt appraisals.
  • Education for appraisers is getting tougher.  There is an apprenticeship for 2 years now.
  • There are two types of appraisers – licensed and certified.  Licensed Appraisers can only do values up to $1,000,000.  Certified Appraisers can do any property value.  Additionally, Certified Appraisers must take a test and have a Bachelor’s degree.  Lastly, only Certified Appraisers can appraise FHA loans.

What you need to be prepared for your appraisal:

  • Always bring your own comparable sales – make sure they are good comps so you can build creditability.  Even bring low sales and let them know what the issues were that resulted in their low sale – pet odors, back to power lines, short sale, foreclosure, etc.
  • If at all possible, provide plat/floor plan – proper measuring is critical because if its 100 square feet off the true square footage you will have issues
  • Bulls eye approach – first look in subdivision, then do a radius search of 1 mile, 2 miles, etc. to find the right comparable properties.
  • Use a couple of higher sales, couple of smaller home, the radius approach to finding properties and a couple within the timeframe of settling within 3 months or less
  • You now need to have 5 to 6 comps
  • Provide 1-2 under contract comps as part of your presentation
  • Find FSBO too!  They can help your cause
  • Pass on any and all information you know about your property – list all recent improvements and their cost/value to help support your price.
  • Provide details on other offers if you had multiple offers
  • Provide additional pricing details like the Home Pricing Wizard, RBIntel statistics, and articles relating to escalating prices.

Steps to overcome low appraisal

  • Get a “good” conversation going, kill them with kindness
  • Provide new info that the appraiser might not be aware of when you met initially at the property
  • Be there when the appraiser wants to meet at the property
  • Use their language
    • Beneficial
    • Neutral
    • Adverse

Appraisers need to be concerned with the following items:

  • Safety –  the house needs to be safe, easy to explain
  • Soundness – the house needs to have structural integrity including but not limited to the roof and foundation
  • Security – the house needs to have locks on windows and doors

Integral issues for appraising

  • You have to know the condition and the subsequent ratings of the properties condition.  The rating scale goes from C1-C6.  One is the best and 6 is the worst.  Speak with the appraiser in terms of the condition to get more value for your clients
  • You also have to know the quality of the construction in order to help get more value.  Was the home custom built or was it a cookie-cutter built in the late 70’s with 7.5 foot ceilings?  These rankings range from Q1-Q6

As you see, it is extremely important for you to be a professional agent, do you job thoroughly for you clients and get the results that everyone is looking for from the appraisal process.



Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 11