Prince William County, VA Real Estate News

By Susan Jacobs CDRE, Gainesville,VA Certified Divorce RealEstate Expert
(Samson Properties)
Who is on title and why it matters is sometimes over looked. Facts:Husband and wife married 16 years ago. About five years in the marriage they bought a house. In March of 2017, they divorce. Husband remained living in the house, they both are on title to the house, and both remained on the mortgage. The property deed states that  the property is owned by "right of survivorship", and the the divorce decree did not address any specific terms regarding the house other than title vesting remains in place until further agreement.  In 2018 the husband remarried. His new wife moved into the house, they had a set of twin daughters in 2020. They have been paying the mortgage out of the joint income.  The husband suddenly passed away a few months ago - with out a will. The deed to the property w...
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By Susan Jacobs CDRE, Gainesville,VA Certified Divorce RealEstate Expert
(Samson Properties)
Divorce & Capital Gains on Real Property Property values have skyrocketed over the last couple of years in the Gainesville, VA housing market - leaving Uncle Sam to be the fly in the ointment!  First and foremost, disclaimer: I am not an accountant and this shall not be construed as tax advice.  I had a recent divorce case where the wife was blind sited by the capital gains hit. She faced a $62,000 hit when she agreed to take the couples rental property in the divorce - a condo they bought when they first married.  In the divorce the husband keep the big house and she got the condo. She planned to sell the condo and use the equity to buy a house closer to the kids. That's when she got hit with reality! What she didn't know when she agreed to take the condo and sell it later was that she...
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By Markita Woods NMLS#196099, Queen of Mortgages - FHA, VA, Conventional, USDA
(American Financial Network)
A neighbor asked me, "Is buying a home still affordable, even with sales prices rising rapidly here in Northern Virginia (NOVA)?"The answer is YES houses are still affordable because most folks use a mortgage to finance a portion of their purchase, and interest rates are still near historic lows, 2.5%-3.25% on conventional and government backed home loans.  He asked, "Why are so many people buying, and not enough people are selling?" If you go back in time to the 1980's and 1990's, and look at a graph showing the number of babies being born, you will see an uptick above the curve, a short-term baby boom between 1986 and 1994. That demographic is what we now call Gen Y.  Gen Y folks are in their late 20's and early 30's in age, and they are buying their first homes.  Some are buying firs...
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By Markita Woods NMLS#196099, Queen of Mortgages - FHA, VA, Conventional, USDA
(American Financial Network)
VA zero down home loans typically have rates 1/2% lower than conventional loans. Maybe that doesn't much to you, but if you live in a $500,000 house, and plan to live in your house for five years, you would save almost $8,000 on your home loan. A conventional loan at $500,000 with a 3% rate gives you a payment of $2,108.02 per month, while a VA loan at 2.5% gives you a payment of $1,975.60. The difference is $132.42 per month; $1,589.04. over the course of a year; or $7,945.20 over five years. That's a significant savings.  There is an urban legend that says you can use your VA loan only once, so save it for your retirement home. That is false. You can use your VA loan over, and over again. You can even have two different houses with your VA loan, depending upon the real estate market w...
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By Markita Woods NMLS#196099, Queen of Mortgages - FHA, VA, Conventional, USDA
(American Financial Network)
Let's see what industry leaders in mortgage and realty are saying about the second half of 2021, and the first half of 2022:realtor.com“. . . homes continue to sell quickly in what’s normally the fastest-moving time of the year. This is in contrast with 2020 when homes sold slower in the spring and fastest in September and October. While we expect fall to be competitive, this year’s seasonal pattern is likely to be more normal, with homes selling fastest from roughly now until mid-summer.”National Association of Realtors (NAR)“Sellers who have been hesitant to list homes as part of their personal health safety precautions may be more encouraged to list and show their homes with a population mostly vaccinated by the mid-year.”Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com“Surveys showed t...
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By Markita Woods NMLS#196099, Queen of Mortgages - FHA, VA, Conventional, USDA
(American Financial Network)
The following is an important message from a real estate agent I respect because she sells more homes than any other agent with whom I work. Are you married, and separating or divorcing? Will you be selling your jointly owned property? There are some REQUIREMENTS to attend to when selling jointly owned property. First and foremost, see an attorney and create a separation agreement. Don't skip or delay. Know who gets what possessions, and how the finances will be handled. "Oh but Peggy, we are still friends, and our separation is amicable, so we don't need a separation agreement." Ha! You say that now, but I've seen too many amicable settlements get ugly at the closing table when the parties get serious about who gets what from their possession, and who gets how much of funds. The time t...
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By Markita Woods NMLS#196099, Queen of Mortgages - FHA, VA, Conventional, USDA
(American Financial Network)
I was looking over the news headlines online when I found a story about multiple applications with bids going as high as $5,000 over list price. Rental listings in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) are including screening comments such as, "Credit score must be 740 or higher," and "Applicants must have income 5X the monthly rent," which means that to get a modest $3,500 per month rental house, the tenant must have montly gross income of $17,500, adding up to $210,000 per year, and $3,500 per month rent doesn't get a palace, more like a cottage. Moreover, some landlords are requiring the first and last month's payment, and a security payment of 2X monthly rent. A $3,500 mortgage payment would get you a lovely, spacious, new or newly renovated priced at $621,340, with monthly escrows of ...
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By Markita Woods NMLS#196099, Queen of Mortgages - FHA, VA, Conventional, USDA
(American Financial Network)
What is an Escalation Clause and how can it help you negotiate a winning offer when multiple offers will be in contention. An Escalation Clause is an addendum that is added to an offer to purchase a house. It says that you will beat any other offer by $1,000, $2,000 or $5,000 (any amount you choose), up to and not to exceed your top bid for the house. For example, a house is listed for $775,000, and you offer $780,000 with an Escalation Clause that you will beat any other offer by $1,000, up to and not to exceed $805,000.  Two other offers are on the table, and we don't know what they are offering for the house. You find out later that the first buyer offered $795,000, and the second bidder  offered $800,000.  This is where your Escalation Clause would come into play, increasing your of...
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By Markita Woods NMLS#196099, Queen of Mortgages - FHA, VA, Conventional, USDA
(American Financial Network)
This is the tale of two Bobs, and their pathway to wealth. Bob A and Bob B were in the market for a $600,000 house. Bob A's goal was to save enough money for a 20% down payment to avoid Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) and get a low interest rate on his loan. 20% of $600,000 is $120,000. Bob and his wife, Betty set an automatic transfer of $2,000 per month from their checking account to their savings account to accumulate funds for their down payment. It would take 5 years to accumulate 20% of a $600,000 house. That's five years until Bob A would permit himself to buy a house. Bob B wanted to get a house as soon as possible, so he tapped his savings account for a 3.5% down FHA loan in the amount of $21,000 and $12,000 for closing costs that Bob B and his wife Ashley could borrow from Bo...
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By Markita Woods NMLS#196099, Queen of Mortgages - FHA, VA, Conventional, USDA
(American Financial Network)
 Buyer Sam engages agent Bob as his buyer agent. Buyer Sam says he plans to buy a house with his VA loan with zero downpayment in the $800,000 to $1million price range. Agent Bob refers Sam to loan officer Markita to get PREAPPROVED, not prequalified. What's the difference? A preapproved goes past the qualifications to getting the loan fully underwriter approved. Buyer Sam sails through loan approval in less than ten days. Markita says to agent Bob, "Sam has enough cash to buy two $1million houses, and still have over $16million in assets. Buyer Sam and agent Bob set out for an afternoon of house hunting. Before they left the office, Sam asks Bob to go to the computer and pull up the waterfront houses in Prince William County. Sam flips through the few houses on the water, finds a water...
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By Susan Jacobs CDRE, Gainesville,VA Certified Divorce RealEstate Expert
(Samson Properties)
A Certified Divorce Real Estate Expert (CDRE™) is a REALTOR who has passed The Ilumni Institute’s rigorous certification program. This program is application-only, and is taught by a faculty of family law attorneys, mediators, certified mortgage professionals, and real estate experts, with judicial officers as guest speakers.REQUIREMENTS Licensed Realtor for 3+ Years | Minimum 45 Closings |License in Good Standing | No Disciplinary ActionsAPPLICATION Resume | Written Essay | Two Letters of Recommendation |Proof of Production | Screening Interview | Attorney InterviewLIVE 4O-HOUR COURSE Anatomy of Divorce | The Landscape of Divorce Finance | Divorce Court 101 |The Ethics of CDREs | Communication, Bias & Neutrality | The Divorce Listings Process |Observe Live Proceedings in Family Court |...
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By Markita Woods NMLS#196099, Queen of Mortgages - FHA, VA, Conventional, USDA
(American Financial Network)
An agent, Susan, with whom I have frequently worked over the years, was helping a military couple buy a house. The clint's names are Brad and Dawn.  They had bid on three different houses and lost all three times because Brad insisted on bidding the list price, and not a nickel more. They were going up against 10-16 other bidders who went $20,000 to $45,000 above list price. After three rejected offers Braid said to Susan, "We talked it over, and we will just rent until the market settle down." Susan opened her laptop, logged into the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), programmed Brad and Dawn's wish list into a search with no limitation on price, and found zero houses for rent in Prince William County, Fairfax County, and Loudoun County. Susan explained that when a rental hous comes on th...
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By Markita Woods NMLS#196099, Queen of Mortgages - FHA, VA, Conventional, USDA
(American Financial Network)
Down PaymentsOne of the most important questions in the pre-qualification process is the down payment.   The traditional down payment in the past has been 20% of the loan amount. First time homebuyers may not have 20% to put down, but that's okay because today, there are 10% down loans, 5% down loans, and 3% down loans.   The most popular low down payment loan is the good old FHA 3.5% down loan that is often called "the first-time buyer loan" even though you don't have to be a first-time buyer to get an FHA loan. The FHA loan is a government backed loan that has a lot of helpful features for borrowers. You can get an FHA loan from any licensed mortgage company. FHA loans are more lax in their qualifications, so it's easier for first-time buyers to qualify for an FHA loan.   Another gov...
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By Markita Woods NMLS#196099, Queen of Mortgages - FHA, VA, Conventional, USDA
(American Financial Network)
Here is a quick video message with some charts about the state of the interest rates on home loans.  Call me if you have questions: 703-929-2274. Markita WoodsNMLS#169099American Financial NetworkBranch Manager and The Queen of Mortgages703-929-22743002 Old Bridge Road, Suite A, Woodbridge, VA  22192
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By Markita Woods NMLS#196099, Queen of Mortgages - FHA, VA, Conventional, USDA
(American Financial Network)
Moving to the Washington DC area? What's happening in the real estate market. I'll get to the point now: it's a seller's market in the Washington DC (DC) area. That means there are more buyers ready to buy than sellers ready to sell. You will have fewer houses from which to choose, and that frequently leads to bidding wars, with buyers offering $10,000, $20,000, even $50,000 above the list price to be the highest bidder. A lot of home shoppers are turning to new homes, because new home builders have inventory to sell. That's the good news; the not so good news is that builders have a backlog of homes waiting to be built. Most of the builders are telling customers that their house will begin construction in October for contracts written now, in May, 2021, and finish the end of December, ...
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By Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Bristow, VA
(Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA)
Taking Fluffing to a Whole New LevelExactly how would you go about describing a jetted soaking tub with jets plugged up with chaulk?  It would likely be an explanation of why the jets were filled with chaulk and an explanation that the tub was being sold as-is.  This, of course, if you couldn't get the seller the replace or repair the tub in the $600,000+ home.Imagine my surprise when I listing I had interviewed for, but not landed,  hired an agent who did in fact list the tub as-is to buyer agents, but not to buyers.  In buyer remarks, the tub was remarked as "sumptuous."  I don't know about you, but the word sumptuous evokes nothing I would get from the local hardware store for utilitarian purposes...especially not CHAULK that is stopping a leak.  And in yet another story of over play...
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By Markita Woods NMLS#196099, Queen of Mortgages - FHA, VA, Conventional, USDA
(American Financial Network)
Working from home is fueling the current real estate market. There are other factors that are driving the volume of home sales, but we will stick with working from home in this post. The COVID-19 pandemic has millions of office workers working from home. Some companies have already announced that they will divest themselves from the expense of office space, and continue with work from home as the new normal. School closures have sent millions of children home for remote learning through online classes, and parents supplementing teachers to keep the children's education on track.  Houses were plenty spacious before the pandemic, but with mom and dad taking over portions of the house for office space, and kids requiring dedicated classroom space, folks are discovering that their homes are...
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By Markita Woods NMLS#196099, Queen of Mortgages - FHA, VA, Conventional, USDA
(American Financial Network)
As of April 27, 2012, interest rates on a conventional, 20% down, 30-year mortgage are in the 3.4% range, and headed down to 3.2% by the middle of May. It's only been a few months since rates were bottomed out at 2.75% on a conventional loan (2.25% on government backed loans by FHA and VA). The difference between 3.2% and 2.70% on a $500,000 conventional loan is $121.12. ($500,000 at 3.2% = $2,162.33. $500,000 at 2.75% = $2,014.21 with an APR of 3.2% and 2.75%). You probably spend more on coffee at Starbucks than $121.12 each month. We're not talking about a catastrophic difference in payment.Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com, explains:mortgage rates slid for a second week … but we don't expect rates to stay at this level for too long.Hale continues to say:For sellers, getti...
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By Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Bristow, VA
(Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA)
There is No Excuse for Insufficient MLS DataInsufficient and inaccurate data in the MLS continues to be an issue.  A former colleague that trained me to set up automatic MLS searches for buyers taught me to make the criteria as vague as possible.  Her saying on the lack of accurate data in the MLS still rings in my head, "Garbage in, garbage out."Even still, with the most basic searches I have run into homes not coming up for buyers.  Last weekend, it was a fully finished or partially finished basement that didn't have homes coming up for a relocating family.  What listing agent leaves that big of a selling feature out?  The agents that rely solely on the photos to do the talking.  Problem with that line of thinking is that when listings are Coming Soon, it is usually because photos hav...
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By Susan Jacobs CDRE, Gainesville,VA Certified Divorce RealEstate Expert
(Samson Properties)
Here are 5 real estate words to increase your vocabulary. 1- C.L.U.E.A C.L.U.E report is a comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange. It is a file that is compiled on you by the insurance industry. 2- ComminglingCommingling is to mix funds held in trust with other funds. Example a builder or broker hold funds in trust ( should be deposited into trust account) instead the money is deposited in to a general account. 3- Slant DrillingSlant drilling is a method of drilling fo oil or gas in an ajoining property when property rights have not been granted.4- GNMAGNMA (Ginnie Mae) Goverment National Mortgage Assoication. A federal association working with F.H.A. , which offers special assistance in obtaining mortgages and purchase mortgages.5- Abstract of TitileAbstract of title is a compilation...
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