Can Staging Increase Your Home’s Profit?

One question I'm frequently asked is whether home sellers should stage their home. I'll explain my answer in detail today.

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When you sell your house, should you stage it?

Painting and carpet will be the cheapest bang for your buck when getting your home ready to sell, but I absolutely recommend staging your home. 

Have you ever been to a new home builder? Notice how they've staged their model homes. Why? Their business is to build a lot of homes and sell them for as much money as possible. If a builder that sells hundreds of homes a year stages their properties, shouldn't you too?
In real estate, logic makes you think, but emotion makes you act.
Logical people tend to get freaked out about staging and consider it a waste of money. In real estate, though, logic makes you think, but emotion makes you act. You want a buyer to act and make a great offer on your home to get you the highest profit.

If you have any questions about staging or you're thinking about buying or selling a Northern Virginia home, give us a call or send us an email. We'd be happy to help you out.

How Will Trump’s Election Affect Our Northern Virginia Market?


With the new administration settling in here in Washington D.C., you can expect to a few major changes to take place. 

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How will President-elect Donald Trump affect our real estate economy in the near future?

First of all, we know that whenever there is a new administration, a shift of some kind is going to take place here in the Northern Virginia market. A new administration means new policies, and that’s where the real change takes place.

Last week, interest rates increased to 4.03%, which is the first time since early 2015 that they’ve been above the 4% mark. Is that a reflection of the election? Possibly. They started creeping up after the day of the election.

Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen has indicated that sometime this month, the Fed will raise interest rates. However, she’s made this same prediction many times before, and they ended up staying where they were, so as far as that goes, I’m content to wait and see what happens.
Interest rates will eventually rise, and there may be more changes in store.
Regardless, we believe that interest rates will increase somehow, some way, as a result of a new presidency. As interest rates rise, buyers won’t be able to afford as much home. For sellers, it will reduce the price they can sell their home at.

With all the transitioning taking place, there are a lot of unknowns floating around out there. We know that there is going to be change, we just don’t know what kind of change. Nobody has a crystal ball, so if you’re in the market to buy a home, sell a home, or invest in real estate, you might as well do it now.

If you have any questions or would like to make a move in the market sometime soon, don’t hesitate to reach out to me by phone or email. I’d be happy to help! 

How Can You Take Advantage of the Current Interest Rates?

Interest rates are still at an all-time low, but they won’t stay that way. Whether you’re buying or selling, you need to act now to take advantage of them.

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Over the last several years, interest rates have remained at an all-time low.

If I had a billion dollars to bet, though, I would put that money on interest rates rising sometime in the future. The reason I say that is the fact that they’ve been artificially kept at the level they’re at and have stayed that way for so long. When will this rise happen, exactly? Nobody really knows.

There are other global economic factors at play here as well. You know about Brexit, but there is also the matter of the IMF replacing the U.S. dollar with the Chinese Yuan as the world’s reserve currency.
Whether you’re buying or selling, now’s the time to act.
What does this all mean?

If you’re in the market to buy a home, now is a great time to do so. For the moment, you can still lock in these all-time low interest rates. If you’re in the market to sell, you’re in the same situation. This is because higher interest rates lower home values, and their inevitable increase will shake up the market.

If you have any questions about what’s going on in the real estate market, feel free to give me a call or shoot me an email. I’d be happy to talk with you!

Introducing Anthony Howard, Our Newest Agent

Our new agent Anthony Howard is eager to help anyone who’s thinking about buying or selling real estate. 

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It’s our pleasure to introduce you to the newest member of the Greetings Virginia Team, Anthony Howard.

Anthony joined the Greetings Virginia Team because he cares about the people who are close to him and wants to be able to help them out with anything they might need help with. In addition to being an agent, Anthony can be your resource for any topic related to real estate.
If you’re looking to buy or sell, don’t hesitate to give Anthony a call.
If you have any real estate ventures in mind—whether it’s buying a home, selling a home, or doing some investing—feel free to give him a call at (703)-708-4019.

Thanks for taking the time with us, today. We look forward to helping you!

Maximizing Your Home's Value When Selling

How do you get the most value out of your home sale? It's never too early to start this conversation, whether you're selling in three months or three years.

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There are certain things you can do when selling a home to ensure the highest value in return. When you're thinking about improving the value you get from your home, it's also never too early to start thinking about it.

About three months ago, in fact, I actually met with a homeowner that intends to sell their home three years from now. This house backs right up to a parkway with no buffer zone, so I recommended that they plant a buffer zone with some evergreen trees so that when they sell in three years, the home is more appealing.

You may not be three years ahead like these sellers, however, so what can you do right now?
You'll get the best return on investment from paint and carpeting.
The biggest bang for your buck you'll get from improvements is with paint and carpet. Almost 100% of the improvements we do to maximize profit for sellers involves painting the home or cleaning or replacing the carpet. Other areas where you can make upgrades include the kitchen, bathrooms, and curb appeal of the house. Every single home is different.

Again, it's never too early to start thinking about this conversation. I would be happy to put you in touch with painters, contractors, or any type of service workers you need from my preferred list. The best part of working with a professional like myself is that you can leverage my relationship with them knowing that they will treat you right since we send them a lot of business.

If you'd like some more info about how we can help you start talking about improving your home's value or you'd like a recommendation for a contractor, give me a call or send me an email. I'd be happy to help!

How James Oxley Can Help With Your Real Estate Needs


Our new agent James Oxley can help you with all of your real estate needs, whether it’s buying, selling, or investing.

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It’s our pleasure to introduce you to one of the newest members of the Greetings Virginia Team, James Oxley.

Some of you might already know James as a local actor and pastor. Previously, James had a career in the military and has been in the sales and management business for more than 25 years. One of the things that attracted James to the Greetings Virginia Team was the opportunity to help people and go the extra mile to give back to them.
James lives for the opportunity to help people and give back to them.
If you’re interested in buying a home, selling a home, or investing in real estate, don’t hesitate to reach out to him by email at james@greetingsvirginia.com or by phone at 202-590-8926. In addition, you’ll also receive two educational videos a month about the world of real estate and what’s happening in the marketplace.

We look forward to helping you!

Why Does Selling in the Winter Make Sense?

The winter is actually not a bad time to sell your home. There are more serious buyers and fewer homes for you to compete against.

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I have been getting calls almost every day from home sellers asking me if they should sell their home during the fall and winter months or wait until spring. To help you make your decision, let’s look at one of the most important factors that determine whether it’s a good time to sell: inventory.

Inventory in real estate is like inventory in any other market. When supply goes down, demand goes up. In the fall and winter real estate markets, it’s true that demand dwindles this time of year. However, supply dwindles as well. Although there is less activity overall, the market is just as strong. This makes winter a great time to sell.
The current buyers in the market are more serious.
Homes sell faster in the winter than they do during other times of the year as well. You have more serious buyers at this time who aren’t just out looking at homes because it's nice out. The buyers in this market are braving the cold weather to see homes, so you can bet they want to get a deal done.

If you have any questions for us, don’t hesitate to give us a call or send us an email. We would love to hear from you.

The Top 3 Reasons Real Estate Deals Fall Apart



Real estate transactions fall apart for a number of reasons, but some stand out as the most common:

  1. Inspection goes bad: Sometimes buyers look at the inspection and ask the seller to make dozens of repairs, which is not a good strategy. We advise you to look at the big-ticket items like the roof and the heating system, not things like a ding in the wall.
  2. Real estate agents getting in the way: Too often I see agents become emotionally involved and get in the way of their clients' best interests. Make sure you hire the right agent for your specific and unique needs as a buyer or seller.
  3. Don't hire an agent who lets their emotions get in the way.
  4. Negotiation goes bad: I've seen a buyer offer $40,000 under asking price on a $500,000 and upset the seller. As your fiduciary, I'd tell you that while an offer like that might not be great, let's still negotiate and make a counteroffer. The agent's job is to get the highest profit possible, so let them be the third party negotiator who can act on your behalf.

If you have more questions about making sure your transaction goes smoothly, please don't hesitate to give me a call or send me an email. I look forward to helping you!

Can the Market Cycle Affect You as a Home Seller?


Today I’d like to give you a quick rundown on the market cycle and explain how it can impact you as a home buyer or seller.

The first thing to understand about the market cycle is that there are four different possibilities for markets at any given time. There is the bottom of the market, an inclining market, the top of the market, and a declining market.

We have to understand where we’ve been to figure out where we’re going. None of us have a crystal ball, but what we can do is look at the market’s history:

In 2009, we were at the bottom of the marketplace. From 2009 to 2013, we saw pretty major appreciation in home values—in fact, we regained all of the losses that we had taken previously from the crash of 2006 to 2009. So from 2013 to today, we’ve been pretty much at the top of the market, despite the micro-pockets in the Northern Virginia area.
The winter downshift may coincide with an economic downshift.
Why does this matter to you? If you’re thinking of selling your home in the next nine months to a year, we need to talk now. Winter is coming, and with that comes a seasonal downshift. Right now, it looks like that seasonal downshift is going to happen at the same time as an economic decline, so if you want to be able to reap the highest price on the sale of your property, contact me now and I’d be happy to talk with you about what’s happening in the marketplace and how that may impact you.

In the meantime, if you have any questions about buying or selling a home, don’t hesitate to reach out to me by phone or email. Looking forward to hearing from you!

What Buyers and Sellers Can Expect to Pay During a Real Estate Transaction

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Typically in real estate transactions, everything is negotiable. However, there are certain costs that buyers and sellers can usually expect to pay.

Usually, the seller will pay the commission to the broker they hire. The broker then pays out a commission (the amount of which the seller has agreed upon) to both the agent selling the house and the buyer’s agent. Remember, the agent works on behalf of the broker.

As a buyer, you typically have to pay for the appraisal, the termite inspection, loan fees, title processing fees, and the title search. When you select your title company, the title company will search to make sure there are no defects and the title is free and clear. That way, you won’t wind up with hostile claims or other people claiming they own the property once you buy it.



Remember, everything is negotiable.



Things like taxes are paid on both sides of the transaction. The buyer will be responsible for flood certification, prepaid interest, homeowner’s insurance, and property taxes. Sellers can always contribute to closing costs. Remember, everything is negotiable.

If you have any questions about what you can expect from your specific transaction, give me a call or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you!

3 Different Types of Real Estate Transactions

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Many times, buyers approach me and say that they want a deal. Some of these buyers think they can find a deal with a foreclosure or short sale. What is the difference between foreclosures, short sales, and traditional transactions?

First of all, foreclosures are when the bank takes back the collateral for the loan they made. The bank owns the property, which makes them real estate-owned (or REO) properties. When you put an offer on that property, you have to understand that you are negotiating with an institution. It’s not the same as negotiating with Joe Homeowner.

When you negotiate with the bank, you might find yourself saying, “Wouldn’t it make sense to do this instead?” Sure, it would make sense - but you have entered a different type of transaction when you’re negotiating with a bank.

The other thing to keep in mind when dealing with the bank is the statute of frauds, which means all negotiations need to be in writing. They may say they accept your offer but that doesn’t mean anything until you get the documents and sign the contract.



Short sales are anything but short.



When it comes to short sales, remember that they are anything but short. A short sale happens when the homeowner owes more on the home than what it is worth and they need to sell. In this case, the negotiation is with the lender. Say they owe $300,000 and the property is worth $200,000 - they have to negotiate with that lender for the difference of $100,000.

It’s summertime right now and hot as can be. I mention that because if you make an offer today on a short sale, it might be the middle of winter before you get an answer back.

Traditional sales are the easiest of the three. They do come with their own challenges, but compared to foreclosures and short sales, the buying process is simpler.

If you have more in-depth questions about these three transactions, give me a call or send me an email. I would be happy to help you!

We Want You to Have a Night at the Movies, on Us!


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Today, I want to take this opportunity to invite you to a movie night my team is hosting at Kingstowne Regal Cinemas. Anytime between 4-7 p.m. on July 24th, you can enjoy any movie that’s playing, my treat.

The reason I do this is because we appreciate you either as a past client, a friend, or a referral partner. We ask for nothing in return, but if you do know anyone looking to buy, sell, or invest in real estate, we always appreciate you referring us!



Please come by and be my guest at the movies!



Please come by and be my guest at the movies! Give me a call or shoot me an email to see how you can RSVP! I look forward to hearing from you soon!

Click here to register for your tickets!

Which Offer Is Best When Selling Your Northern Virginia Home?


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Clients often ask me, “When I have multiple offers, which offer should I accept?” It’s important to keep in mind that not all offers are created the same. My job is to advise you on the pros and cons of each different offer.

Price is an important factor to consider. However, if you have one offer for $400,000 and another for $405,000, the higher offer might not be the best. You also have to consider things like terms and financing.

For example, if you get an all cash offer that can close in 15 days, that might be your very best offer. An offer that uses conventional financing is better than an FHA or VA loan for various reasons. For example. VA and FHA loans come with stringent appraisal guidelines. Also, a buyer using conventional financing can typically put more money down.



The highest price may not be the best offer.



You should also consider the earnest deposit. Usually, someone will put around $1,000 into an escrow account to show that they are committed to purchasing your property. The more earnest money a buyer offers, the more skin they have in the game. In other words, would you rather have $1,000 in earnest money or $20,000 in earnest money? You would want the $20,000!

Finally, there are inspection and appraisal contingencies to consider. As you can see, all offers are not considered the same. You need someone who has a lot of experience to walk you through the process and help you make the best decision.

If you have any questions, give me a call or send me an email. I would be happy to help you!

Top 4 Reasons to Sell in Northern Virginia Today


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I wanted quickly share with you the top four reasons to sell your Northern Virginia home - today!

  1. You’re feeling too cramped. Maybe you live in a townhome and you have kids and a dog now. It may be time to sell and find something bigger.
  2. You have too much space. On the other hand, you might be an empty nester and you actually have too much space, it may be time to downsize.
  3. The neighborhood no longer works for you. You might find yourself on toll roads or a beltway all the time and that hour-long commute is just not working for you anymore. Maybe the HOA president comes around with requests like requiring you to plant a fruit tree in your lawn - you might be sick of it. Your home should fit your lifestyle.
  4. You want to take advantage of today’s seller’s market. We’ve been in this market since the bottom in 2009. We’re seven years into the cycle, and historically, the market has gone in seven-year cycles. The other piece is that interest rates continue to be at an all-time low, and we don’t know when they’re going to rise. When they do rise, affordability will take a hit.



Interest rates continue to be at an all-time low.



If you want to have a conversation or even just find out a little bit more about your situation, contact me today! Send me an email or give me a call and let’s keep this conversation going.

Are You Doing What It Takes to Get Your Home Sold?


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The other day, I was working with someone who had previously listed with another agent who failed to get their home sold. In my opinion, one of the primary reasons it failed to sell was the way they chose to showcase the property.

One thing I noticed in particular was how shoddy the photographs were. They did not give online buyers a good idea of just how beautiful the home was. When selling, you want to get the best possible marketing photographs of the property. These photos will be the first impression buyers have when searching for homes online.  This is crucial, as 90-95% of buyers begin the home search online!



You want to get the best possible marketing photographs of your property when selling.



In addition to crisp, clean, professionally done photographs, you need to hire an experienced real estate team to assist you. We will do floor plans of your property and present them to buyers in order to give them an idea of the benefits of buying your home, among many other things. We have the tools and resources necessary to get you the best possible selling results.

If you have any questions about the real estate market, or if you need our assistance with anything, we’re always available to chat. Give us a call or shoot us an email for the real estate help you need!

How Do Home Inspections Work When Buying in Northern Virginia


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Today we are going to talk to you all about the home inspection process in Northern Virginia when you’re out there looking to buy a home.


The home inspection process only happens for buyers after they have gone through their due diligence with the seller. Once the buyer and seller agree on the price and terms of their deal, the time comes for the inspection period.


You want to protect your investment and make sure you know what condition the home you're buying is in before you make the deal final. The best way to do this is with a home inspection from a home inspector that is ASHI certified. This is a special certification that holds home inspectors to a higher standard.


When you get your inspection report, there are definitely going to be items listed. However, we recommend that you focus on the big problems and the big systems instead of minor cosmetic issues. Pay special attention to any and all problems associated with your HVAC system, the roof, electric, plumbing, and appliances. You can still ask the seller to repair those smaller items, but it all depends on your particular situation.

If you have any questions for us about home inspections, or would like us to recommend a good home inspector, just give us a call or send us an email. We would be happy to help out in any way we can!

What Time of Month Should You Close in Alexandria?



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There are a few different theories in regards to the best possible time to close on a home. Some people believe that it’s better to close later on in a month, and others believe that it is better to close earlier in the month, but there are advantages and disadvantages to both.

If you wait until later in the month, you can avoid more closing costs and pay less overall. However, if you wait until the end of the month, closing deadlines can get in the way because it’s a bottleneck at the end of the month. All of the lenders want to clear their books at the end of the month, and this is the same with the title companies.

When you close on the first day of the month you can skip a month of payment. This is a good strategy for saving a little bit of money. These extra funds can be used for repairs or upgrades on your home.


Because things can get so hectic at the end of the month, we think that it’s better to close at the beginning of the month. It’s the least stressful way to close on a home.

If you have any further questions about real estate in Alexandria, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me!

We look forward to hearing from you!

The Secret to Success When Buying in Northern Virginia


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There are four crucial numbers that affect your buying power that you need to be aware of, especially from a lender's perspective. Keep the following four things in mind if you plan on buying a home anytime soon:
  • Credit Score. This helps a lender understand your creditworthiness. The higher your credit, the better chance you have of getting the loan amount you desire. 
  • Down payment. The higher your down payment is up front, the lower your payment is going to be. In many cases, a high down payment also results in a lower interest rate!
  • Debt-to-income ratio. How much debt do you have compared to your income? The lower this ratio is, the better. 
  • Your assets. What are your financial resources? A lender will want to take a look at your income and your financial assets. The more impressive they are, the better luck you’ll have getting the financing you seek.

We work with reputable lenders who can help you wade through the process and get the best possible rates and terms. Whatever your financial situation, we can put you in touch with someone who can get you what you need to accomplish your buying goals. 

Give us a call or shoot us an email with any questions. We would love to help you! 

Why Is It Crucial to Hire a Real Estate Agent in Northern Virginia?


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This year is going to be a great time to sell a home in Alexandria. Rising interest rates will push more buyers onto the market, and this means that your chance of selling will also increase. 

You could try to sell your home on your own and spend a lot of time and money, but you will have no guarantee of actually selling your home. I see why people don’t want to hire real estate agents, but more and more, this industry is getting harder to compete in. Selling your home on your own won’t help your chances of selling for top dollar, in fact many FSBO sellers end up hiring a real estate agent. Nearly 90% of FSBO sellers fail to sell their home, and they devalue their property in the process.


If you look at it this way, an agent can save you thousands and thousands of dollars. We have all the necessary experience and we know how to handle all of the paperwork involved. Real estate is highly regulated, and we know how to handle disclosure and disclaimers.

We’re also professional negotiators, and we will always fight for your best interests. Another benefit is that we have established relationships with many of the people that we negotiate with, so this makes cutting good deals much easier. 

Bottom line: if you want to sell for more money and in less time, then you need to hire a real estate professional. 

Contact us soon if you’re interested in selling!