We had 40% more listings for sale in April 2014 vs. April 2013. (493 vs. 350) I think this is huge! We had 15% less “under contracts” than a year before. So what does this mean? I am not exactly sure yet, but what I am seeing – the supply is up and the demand is down – so the market might be slowing down. Here are some more Arlington real estate statistics for April, 2014:
I found this announcement on arlnow.com. I don’t know if it’s rumors or if it’s for real, but I hope it’s true. We need more condo inventory near Orange Line Metro. And if it does become a condominium – the prices will be high – no doubt. Click here to see the original article.
Lead based paint was banned in 1978. So any house built before then can potentially have lead based paint in it. Most houses in Arlington were built before 1978 – especially the affordable ones. So should you worry?
Lead based paint is a serious issue – if the paint is chipping and it ends up in a child’s mouth – it can do some serious damage to the brain. If you are doing a remodel and disturb lead based paint – your whole family can end up with lead poisoning. So you need to be aware of the dangers. Here is a booklet prepared by EPA how to protect your family from lead. Every client buying a home built before 1978 has to sign that they received this booklet from me.
Interestingly lead based paint inspections are extremely uncommon in Arlington. Sellers are required to disclose if they are aware of any lead based paint in the home, but usually they are not aware of any. The buyers usually accept this “disclosure” and buy a home without an inspection. Why?
- Hey – it did not kill the sellers, our parents grew up with lead based paint, most of us grew up with lead based paint – how bad can it be?
- What if we find lead based paint – then we will have to disclose it to the future purchasers. Do we really want to do that?
- If we do find lead based paint in the walls – will the seller be removing walls for us? Probably not.
And usually it’s OK to not know – if you are not doing any remodeling, if you make sure no paint is chipping – then you can live not knowing the lead based paint situation.
I just had a client who opted to do a lead based paint inspection in an older Arlington home built in 1951. I was really anxious to find out the results. So what were the results? Except for a couple of doors and a ceiling beam – the house was clean of lead based paint. It was a lot better than I expected. Lead based paint inspector told me that builders never chose to use lead based paint, because it was so much more expensive back then. If there was lead based paint – the owners had to do it themselves.
There are many ways to do a lead based paint inspection. The 2 most common test are paint swipes – which really test just a couple of surfaces, but is a more affordable option costing a couple of hundred bucks or use a technology like X-ray Fluorescent Spectrum Analyzer. If you choose to use the X-Ray – every wall will be tested and the results are immediate. The cost of the inspection for my client was $525 for a medium size home. We used Geller Environmental – I highly recommend it.
So there is really no perfect answer – you have to weight your pros and cons.
Can you guess what is this paper looking stuff around the duct in an Arlington home? Why is it important to know?
I continue to learn in this business. The paper looking thing is duct insulation containing asbestos. If you are not familiar with asbestos – it is a mineral fiber that under certain circumstances can cause lung disease – this is my very abbreviated explanation. You can read more here. This is a photo from a very recent home inspection in an old home in Arlington. This paper was used as insulation for ducts in unfinished parts of the home. When you buy an older home – the potential for banned materials – like lead based paint, asbestos is much higher – so do the research and understand what you are getting yourself into. In most situations these materials are insulated and do not cause any harm, but if you are thinking about remodeling, removing walls, disturbing old surfaces – you absolutely HAVE to educate yourself and hire professionals who understand the hazards and are certified by appropriate organizations.
Yes – absolutely. Especially in older Arlington homes. Just a couple of weeks ago there were termites and termite damage found in one of my listings. A year ago there was no trace of termites in that same Arlington home. In the sales contract in Arlington, VA it is seller’s responsibility to exterminate and repair any termite damage. It will cost my clients over $1,000 to get rid of the little wood destroying critters and repair the damage they have done. So yes – you absolutely should worry about it.
Termites need moisture and cellulose (wood, plant material, paper) to survive. So you need to take these steps to minimize termites ability to locate moisture and food around your home.
Problem: Wood in contact with soil provides termites with ready and unobservable access to food.
1. Keep all wooden parts at least 6″ above the soil.
2. Keep mulch levels several inches below the siding and wooden parts of the structure.
3. Avoid or minimize use of wood mulch next to the foundation.
4. Remove dead trees, stumps, and roots near the structure.
5. Never store firewood, lumber, or paper against the foundation or in the crawl space.
6. Remove wood debris and form boards.
Problem: Moisture accumulation near the foundation provides water needed for termite survival
1. Grade or slope soil away from the foundation.
2. Divert rain water away from the foundation.
3. Divert lawn sprinklers and irrigation water away from the foundation.
4. Promptly repair leaky faucets, water pipes and air conditioning units.
5. Use mulch sparingly (no more than 2″ is recommended)
6. Keep plants and ground covers 3-4 feet away from the house foundation.
Problem: Poor ventilation in crawl space provides water needed for termite survival.
1. Cover approximately 75 percent of the soil surface in the crawl space with a vapor barrier (4-6 ml polyethylene sheeting).
2. Install 1 square foot of vent opening per 300 to 500 square feet of crawl space area (when using a vapor barrier).
3. Install 1 square foot of vent opening per 150 square feet of crawl space area (without a vapor barrier).
4. Enhance cross ventilation.
5. Remove any vegetation covering vents.
Problem: Hidden termite access
1. Install trellises and trim plants so that they do not contact the house.
2. Do not build flower planters against the house.
3. Regularly inspect cracks or joints in concrete slabs for evidence of termites.
4. Install metal flashing when attaching porches or decks (even when using “treated” lumber) to an existing house.
5. Remove mulch that contacts siding or obscures a clear view of the foundation.
6. Never install foam board insulation (polystyrene) below grade.
You can hire a termite company to do regular inspections and help you minimize the risk of termite infestation. Your house is one of the largest investments of your lifetime – you should not take this issue lightly.
Arlington is experiencing a very hot real estate market. Not all properties are hot, but some are really hot. Most buyers want the what I call “cream puffs” – properties in a great location, with a good layout, in move-in condition. Those properties are flying off the shelves with multiple offers. If you would like to increase your odds of buying one of those properties – here is what you have to do:
1. Move fast – as soon as the property is o the market – go and see it right away. Don’t wait for the open house, because there might not be one – as it could be “under contract” by then. Once you see the house and you love it – you have to make an offer right away. I know some sellers set a deadline for offer, but you can still make an offer and put a an expiration time.
2. If you make an offer before the open house – you have to make a really good one – probably above asking price. Most sellers believe in open houses and will rarely consider an offer below asking price. So if you really want the house – you have to be BOLD. Make an offer they will worry about loosing.
3. What makes a great offer:
- Price – a full price at a minimum.
- Large Earnest Money Deposit – think BOLD – like 25k, 50k, even 100k. This deposit shows how serious you are – it goes towards your closing costs and down payment at the end, but if you decide to cancel the deal before closing – you will be at risk of loosing it. A minimum should be 2% of sales price.
- Settlement date convenient for the seller. If the seller needs rent-back after settlement – ask for a security deposit, but consider giving them free rent-back.
- As few contingencies as possible: Can you remove financing contingency? Some lenders can give you a full approval subject to title work – this way you can wave financing contingency. Can you remove appraisal contingency? This one is a tough one to wave – what if the appraisal comes in low and you have to cover the difference? Can you wave home inspection? This one is a tough one – you could get an inspection before submitting an offer to make sure there is nothing majorly wrong, you could get ages of all systems in the house, you could budget a certain amount of money for potential inspection repairs. Old homes tent to have more issues – so don’t be reckless, but you can make a calculated risk. Can you wave radon inspection? You can get a radon test after settlement and if there is elevated radon reading – you can have a remediation system installed for $800-$1,5000 – a small investment in the big scheme of things.
- If there is another offer on the table you will have to use an escalation clause. The escalation clause lets you increase your offer price by a certain increment above the next highest offer. You do set a limit of the highest price you are willing to offer. The questions is always – how much should I offer? We usually don’t know what the competition is offering, but I always tell my clients to think this way: If this property goes for $1 above this price – I don’t want this house any more. The seller does not have to honor the escalation clause and they can just counter at the highest price you offer – so there is risk in playing this game with your cards wide open, but the seller is in the driving seat and you can always say no.
- If your offer has a financing contingency – you will need a strong lender’s letter. Pick someone local, someone who is known and reputable. Internet lender’s letter won’t do you any good. You can change your lender once the contract is ratified.
These are the main steps in putting your best foot forward. You have to go item by items and see what you are willing to offer and give up and want you are not. If you do less than your best – you will have to live with many “what ifs”. So do it right. And if you do get the house you love – make sure to live there for a while, because real estate values goes up and down and in a few years your home might come down in value and it will go back up again. Regardless of the ups and downs you will live in a house that you love – and that’s living a good life.
I came across this great article by Sophie Pyle and thought it could be very helpful for any buyer looking to buy in this area. She has a few great points and insights about pros and cons of living in Rosslyn. You can read the article here.
I ran across this new solution for extra storage in Washington Post. It’s called “Cabidor” and it looks promising! Unlike racks and hooks that hang over a door, the Cabidor attaches to the hinges of any door to create storage space. The Cabidor, which has the storage capacity of more than five medicine cabinets, can be customized with adjustable shelving and a retention rod system. You can use it for extra pantry space, craft or office supplies, pet supplies, laundry or utility room materials.
The Cabidor, produced by Hingenuity, has won best product awards at various house ware shows.
The Cabidor can be attached and detached easily, so it can be used by homeowners, renters, office workers or college students in their dorm rooms. The product, which ranges in price from $129-$199, can be ordered at www.cabidor.com
If you are a buyer you might be wondering if this market is crazy or what?! Are you hearing multiple offers?Escalations? And on and on and on? Well, the market is a little crazy, but not as crazy as you think and not everyone is getting multiple offers. If you want a “cream puff” property that is perfectly located with a decent layout and in a lower price range – yes – you will have to fight for it, but there are plenty of homes that are not selling the 1st weekend.
So what’s happening? Here are the Arlington real estate statistics for February, 2014.
Inventory – the number of houses that are available for sale – is low. The last 5 year average for active listings is 449, in February there were 377 active listings – that’s 16% less than average.
Number of homes that went under contract (current demand) is 184. Last 5 year average is 201 for Arlington. So that’s a little less than average – I wonder if it has something to do with the freezing cold winter we’ve been having.
The number of new listings is about the same as usual – about 254 (5 year average is 264).
So the law of supply and demand – supply is lower, demand is about the same – expect for the prices togo up!
From the 4 listings that I put on the market this year in Arlington – I did not have multiple offers on a single one of them. Yes – 1 of them did sell in 2 days above list price, but the buyers weren’t snoozing and waiting for the open house – they made an irresistible offer to my client. Others got great offers in a week or two.
The prices are definitely heading up and don’t expect to pay yesterday’s prices – especially in a hot spring market. If you are looking for a single family home under a million in North Arlington – you really need to roll up your sleeves. A lot of buyers are out trying to buy something before the interest rates go up. If you are a seller – this is a great time to sell.
I welcome your feedback on the market – I definitely am not out there selling every home in Arlington and might not know about a certain market segment that’s absolutely crazy – would love to hear about this.
Here are the statistics from out local MLS that I was referring to:
Not in MLS yet – a new townhome community is coming in West Arlington – Westover Place built by Evergreen Homes. It will not be near a Metro, but it will be walkable to a cozy shopping area, a few parks and surrounded by multiple single family home neighborhoods. If you are looking for new construction under a million in a family neighborhood – this might be a great option. The only thing that these town homes will not offer is a yard – only roof-top terraces. That’s the latest trend – roof top terraces – probably maximizes builder’s square footage. I find very few people go all they way up to the roof for entertainment or grilling, but hey – at least you have an option.
Here is the website for the community – you can register to get the latest updates, releases, etc. If you are seriously interested – let me know and I can try to dog more info about exact release dates and so on.