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What to know before selling your home in fall, winter 2020

Make sure your agent is using the latest technology, social media

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curb appeal
Curb appeal is more important than ever when selling a home given sellers’ concerns about interior tours amid the pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed much of what we do on a daily basis. It has also changed the way we sell our houses. Much of what was previously done in person has moved to online platforms. Homebuyers are also developing new priorities such as looking outside of the city and into suburbs and rural areas. Currently, homebuyers are also searching for homes that offer spacious office areas and more amenities. If you are preparing to sell your home there are some things you should be aware of before putting it on the market.

Expert Online Marketing is Critical. Because of the current health pandemic, if you have concerns about offering open houses then as a seller you must present the curb appeal of your home through online platforms. Virtual tours are more popular than ever leaving first impressions critical for sellers. Hiring an agent that offers 3D matterport, virtual tours, video and high quality home photography is critical to the success of your home sale. 

Your listing agent should have extensive knowledge of the “online experience” of real estate. This means that they are using the latest technology, social media platforms and providing every opportunity for your home to get in front of the most qualified audience. 

At Glass House, we offer our sellers the ultimate online showcase for their home. Every listing has its own unique customized website with a virtual 3D tour, fusion photography and opportunity for buyers to request more information and showings. We launch a custom digital marketing campaign for each home based on its targeted market, including advertising on top social media platforms as well as local print and digital publications. Our homes are under contract within an average of 8 days on market in 2020 and have a 97% list to sale price ratio. 

Home Preparation & Investment in Improvements. Even in a seller’s market if you want top dollar for your home, you may have to invest in improvements. We recommend painting, de-cluttering, deep cleaning, power washing and carpet cleaning for all our listings. If you need small repairs such as a loose handle, a leaky faucet, a hole or dent in the wall, then get it done. Improving your home so that buyers see it in the best condition possible is critical to getting the highest price. Recently, our sellers on a Falls Church, Va. single family home spent about $4,000 on improvements, which would have cost almost double if it were retail pricing, and netted $25,000 over asking price and $75,000 over the most recent comps. Another seller in Arlington did $24,000 of work over a six-month period, including finishing a partially finished basement, and netted $65,000 over asking price and $115,000 over the comparable homes. Finally, another seller in Bluemont Arlington spent around $4,000 and netted $45,000 over asking price (not to mention – this entire sale from start to finish was done virtually). 

Unoccupied & Vacant Homes. If it is possible to have your home unoccupied and vacant when you are ready to put it on the market, that is the best case scenario for a fast sale. Not only does an unoccupied home have more appeal than one packed with your furniture and personal items, but it also allows for in-person private tours. 

Staging can emphasize your selling points. Today’s buyers are more interested in home offices, indoor and outdoor amenities like large pools, BBQ areas, and outdoor fireplaces. An unoccupied, staged office can accentuate this as a huge selling point. Master suites can even be staged adding a corner office that may have not been there before. Home gyms, basements, and outdoor amenities are also a key area for homeowners to accentuate. Appearance is literally everything when it comes to selling your home in today’s market. You are more likely to sell your home at a higher price unoccupied and staged. 

This is The Time For Sellers to Be Motivated. The market is on fire right now. With more and more buyers finding comfort in buying homes sight unseen along with incredibly low interest rates, houses are flying off the market. If you have made the decision to sell your home this is definitely the time to be motivated and prepare in every way to get it on the market. If at all possible vacate your home and stage it appropriately to the needs of today’s homebuyers. If you are unable to move before selling your home be sure to purge, de-clutter and clean your home thoroughly. Accentuate selling points such as home offices and both indoor and outdoor amenities and hire a real estate agent that offers expertise in online marketing campaigns. 

Glass House Real Estate is a modern, more affordable way to buy and sell a home in the DC Metro area. Our team of accomplished agents proves that affordability doesn’t have to come at the expense of service or results. Learn more about what makes use different on our website: glassshousere.com.

Khalil El-Ghoul is principal broker of Glass House Real Estate. Reach him at [email protected] or 571-235-4821.

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Real Estate

Chores for the fall before the chill arrives

Clean gutters, replace smoke detector batteries, and more

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Get busy now on house projects before the winter chill sets in.

While it may not feel like fall is in the air yet, it won’t be too long before pumpkin spice will explode everywhere — in food, drinks, candles, and body lotions, to name a few places. If you’re not a fan, you’ll find air freshener plug-ins in scents like Frosted Cranberry, Fresh Fall Morning, and Sweater Weather among the offerings at Bath and Body Works.

Soon after, hordes of December holiday decorations will appear in the stores, often bypassing a smidgen of items for Halloween and Thanksgiving. Except candy. Halloween candy will always figure prominently.

But before you hibernate and chow down on mini-Snickers bars, there is work to be done to prepare your home for the winter.

Inside the home. To ensure your safety, check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Replace batteries or buy new detectors if they are more than 10 years old. Have your chimney inspected and cleaned, and make any necessary repairs, then test your fire extinguishers. Seal doors and windows that might allow drafts to enter with weatherstripping.

Now is the time to take advantage of the discount prices on heating system tune-ups that some HVAC companies are offering. As little as $59 for a check-up will help your equipment function better and extend its life. 

A furnace tune-up should include cleaning all components, lubricating motor parts, checking electrical parts for rust or corrosion, making sure your thermostat is working properly, and replacing the filter. You may want to take this opportunity to have your vents cleaned as well. 

A heat pump inspection includes cleaning and lubricating the blower and fan motors, inspecting indoor and outdoor coils, flushing the condensate drain, and testing the controls.

If you have a boiler instead of a furnace or heat pump, you can expect your serviceperson to inspect, test and calibrate all gauges and safety mechanisms, measure and record the flame pattern concentration and carbon monoxide, check electrical connections, and more. 

Don’t forget to bleed the radiators to release air in the pipes and enhance the circulation of warm water. And if you’re like me, cross your fingers that your 47-year-old boiler will last one more season.

Outside the home. While the leaves haven’t started falling yet, the recent rain and winds may have blown yard debris into your gutters, so make sure they, and your downspouts, are clear. Position the downspouts so they will take any water away from your foundation and regrade the perimeter of your house, if needed.

Check your roof for lost shingles. Look for missing flashing or bricks in need of tuck-pointing or parging on the exterior of your chimney. Walk around your house and note any foundation cracks or unsealed openings. Check retaining walls for missing mortar. There is still plenty of time to make these repairs before the cold sets in.

Now that 90-degree temperatures have receded a bit, plan the power washing and painting of exterior surfaces that you have been putting off tackling. And since the Labor Day barbecue is now over, it’s time to winterize your gas grill.

In the garden. Far be it for me to profess to be an expert in the garden. I’m the first one on the phone to a landscaper to seek help. In fact, there is a barrage of weeding going on at my home this week. Nonetheless, here are a few suggestions.

Prune trees and bushes to promote future growth. Water, aerate, and fertilize the lawn. Select any bulbs you want to plant and enjoy next spring and consult a source such as Better Homes and Gardens magazine for tips on how and when to plant them. 

Drain garden hoses, detach them, and drain the pipes that run to the hose bibbs as well. If you’re lucky enough to have underground sprinklers (I am not), follow the manufacturer’s instructions for winterizing them, or call a professional.

Store lawn furniture and cushions in a shed, garage, or basement. Or do as I do – throw away the cushions that are dirty or moldy and buy new ones next spring. And when the leaves fall en masse, rake them, bag them, and recheck your gutters and downspouts to be sure they’re clear.

Finally, head to the hardware store to buy a snow shovel, some windshield de-icer and washer fluid, and a few bags of salt or pet-safe, snow-melting product before the rush. You’ll be glad you did.

And if you happen to live in a condominium or cooperative, when you have completed any relevant interior chores, relax for the rest of the season and enjoy some candy. I stash mine in the cabinet above the refrigerator. 

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Real Estate

What to expect during a home inspection

Foundation, windows, heating, outlets, and more to be checked

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Before you buy, consider an inspection.

As we get into the fall market, home inspectors will find that their phones and inboxes are becoming a bit busier. And if you have never bought a home, or the last purchase was during a very competitive period where a home inspection was waived, here is your chance as a buyer to find out what they are all about.  

There are several types of inspections. The inspection for a condo is different than an inspection of a single-family home (SFH). Then there is the length and intent of the inspection.  A quick “walk and talk” inspection is cheaper and faster than one in which the inspector generates a detailed report with photographs and comments or suggestions. As a home seller, you may want to have your home inspected before putting it on the market, to get in front of any concerns a potential buyer may have. A buyer may want to inspect to confirm that the home is worth submitting an offer, or they may want to negotiate based on the results of the inspection report.

What are the items an inspector will be checking? Many of the items can include all or a combination of the following:

  • Structure – foundation, crawlspaces, framing (SFH)
  • Exterior – doors, windows, steps, walkways, decks, gutters (SFH)
  • Roof, drainage, chimneys, skylights (SFH)
  • Plumbing and distribution systems, faucets, hot water heaters, sump pumps, hose and water main valves.
  • Outlets, proper wiring within the outlet, GFCI’s, 
  • AC systems
  • Heating systems
  • Insulation, walls, ventilation
  • Chimneys – (separate chimney inspections are available)

A condo inspection is usually just an interior only inspection, where a single-family home includes more of the exterior and evaluation of the surroundings. If a report is generated, the items will be divided into categories such as the ones listed above, and then usually subdivided into priority levels of concern. 

The agent that is writing the offer for their client can also indicate whether the inspection is just for informational purposes for the buyer, or whether the inspection will inform any repair requests or credits in the negotiation process. Many qualified home inspectors can also recommend home maintenance tips for the buyer going forward. In this landscape of higher interest rates buyers frequently have more time typically to decide, seek an inspection, and negotiate their terms, due to less competition being in the market. When the rates are lower and buyers are out in full force, this more relaxed environment can quickly turn into a competitive and more rushed experience. If you are interested in purchasing or selling a home, please let me know and I can help you find the right resources to help you reach your goals.

Joseph Hudson is a Realtor with the Rutstein Group of Compass. Reach him at 703-587-0597 or [email protected].

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Real Estate

Navigating the 3-2-1 mortgage in a changing market

Tap into affordability and leverage projected rate shifts

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Navigating the path to homeownership is a milestone that holds immense significance for everyone. However, for members of our LGBTQ community, the journey often carries unique considerations that demand careful thought and planning. 

With higher mortgage rates on the horizon and the Federal Reserve poised for policy changes, coupled with the ongoing challenge of rising housing prices due to low inventory, finding a mortgage solution that aligns with both financial goals and community values is paramount.

1. Initial Financial Advantage: With a 3-2-1 Mortgage, you initiate your homeownership venture with initial payments set significantly lower than the prevailing mortgage rates. This positions you favorably in the market, allowing you to commence your homeownership journey with manageable monthly payments, freeing up resources for other essential expenditures.

2. Anticipating Rate Adjustments: As the Fed recalibrates its policies and the mortgage rates embark on a downward trajectory, the 3-2-1 Mortgage structure strategically aligns you to harness this shift. Your payments remain highly competitive, ensuring that you gain a competitive edge as the rates transition into a more favorable range.

3. Flexibility Amid Changing Circumstances: The early years of homeownership can be a period of change. The reduced payments in the 3-2-1 structure provide you with financial agility to navigate potential shifts in your life, both personal and professional.

4. Navigating the Refinancing Opportunity: As mortgage rates dip due to anticipated Fed policy changes over the next 12 months, the door opens to explore refinancing. This could lead to further payment reductions or a shorter loan term, enabling you to maximize financial gains in the long run.

5. Long-Term Financial Security: Fixed-rate mortgages ensure stability in a fluctuating market. With a 3-2-1 Mortgage, the consistent payments offer a shield against potential rate fluctuations throughout the loan term.

6. Leveraging Property Appreciation: With housing prices poised to continue their ascent due to constrained inventory, your investment gains momentum. The accrued equity in your home provides options for future endeavors, such as refinancing, capitalizing on a profitable sale, or utilizing the enhanced home value for other financial pursuits.

7. Guidance from Real Estate Experts: Consulting a real estate professional at GayRealEstate.com remains a prudent step before any major financial/housing commitment, including your choice of mortgage. Their insights will help align your unique financial situation and objectives with the optimal decision.

Considering the 3-2-1 Mortgage option in the current dynamic may be a savvy choice, allowing you to tap into the affordability at the outset, leverage projected rate shifts, and stay ahead in a housing market characterized by climbing prices and limited inventory. 

Whether you’re seeking a welcoming neighborhood, navigating the intricacies of mortgage options, or aligning your homeownership dreams with your LGBTQ+ identity, a specialized Realtor is your dedicated advocate.

Don’t hesitate to reach out today for a free, no-obligation conversation with the finest LGBTQ+ Realtors at GayRealEstate.com, and a referral to an LGBTQ+ friendly mortgage lender. Your path to homeownership is a story that deserves to be written with care, authenticity, and unwavering support. Together, let’s make this chapter one of triumph, belonging, and prosperity. Your dream home awaits – let’s embark on this journey together.

Jeff Hammerberg is a distinguished entrepreneur and broker, renowned as the founder behind GayRealEstate.com. With an impressive journey spanning more than 25 years, he has played a pivotal role in championing the mission of fair, transparent, and just representation for every member of the LGBTQ+ community in the realm of residential real estate.

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