Blog :: 08-2018

Amanda Davidson Real Estate Group is Northern Virgina's most trusted local, independent resource for real estate news and insight. Our team has its finger on the pulse of the real estate market in Alexandria and the surrounding counties. Here you'll find the latest market updates, local news, and tips for buyers and sellers.

Buying A Home In Kingstowne | What You Need To Know About Financing

Buying A Home In Kingstowne | What You Need To Know About Financing

Buying a home, whether it’s your first or your fifth comes with a lot of “I didn’t know that.” Real estate is constantly changing and there are always going to be questions about choosing the right home to determining what loan is best for you. Lending is a big part of real estate and it’s also always changing. Below is what you’ll need to know about mortgages and how they relate to buying a home in Kingstowne.
 


What’s The First Step To Buying A Home In Kingstowne?
Kingstowne, like many other areas of Northern Virginia, and the United States for that matter is experiencing low inventory. When supply isn’t keeping up with demand competition comes into play and makes getting a pre-approval for a home loan more important than ever. It’s always important but, when inventory is low it’s a downright must. Being a pre-approved buyer not only signals to sellers you’re serious, it also gives them confidence you can actually buy their house. If you’re considering buying a home starting with getting pre-approved is your first step. Consult with your agent for recommendations and team up with a lender who you not only trust but, one that can close your loan promptly after you go under contract on a home.


How Much Can I Afford?
This is a question I get a lot and there are multiple factors that are considered in order to determine affordability. It’s not one I can answer as a real estate agent and always reaffirms why talking to a lender is the first step in home buying. Debt to income ratio, credit score, and credit utilization all factor into a pre-approval. Not all lenders are created equal and you need to work with one that reviews your credit and your finances, not only to determine how much you can afford but, also to determine if there is anything that needs improvement before you buy.



Are Interest Rates Rising?
Yes, interest rates have risen this year but, buyers are still buying because historically rates are still low. Buying now means locking in an interest rate that is very likely lower than it will be in the future. If rates keep rising (they’re predicted to do so) and you wait to buy it will impact your overall buying power. According to NerdWallet’s 2018 Home Buyer Report millennials make up the largest share of current first time home buyers and 82% state buying a home is a priority.


Do I have To Have Perfect Credit?
This is another question I get a lot and while perfect credit can be a subjective term we always tell our clients you certainly don’t need an 800 credit score to buy a home. In general, the minimum score lenders look for is a 620. There are some that can and will go lower than that. An average credit score is in the mid 600’s. If your credit score is 740+ you’re considered to have an extremely strong credit score. When obtaining a mortgage the higher your credit score the better your rate will be but, that’s not to say you can’t get a mortgage without perfect credit, you absolutely can.

 


Do I Need To Put 20% Down?
It’s a common misconception that you need to put 20% down to purchase a home. It’s absolutely a myth that you need to put 20% down, right now the average in the nation is 10% down. There are programs that offer 3% and 5% down as well. There are cases where if for example, you’re in a multiple offer situation where 20% down could make your offer stand out more but, that’s going to be case by case and shouldn’t deter you from wanting to buy. There are plenty of ways to make your offer stand out if you have competition that doesn’t include a higher down payment.

How Long Does It Take For A Loan To Close?
The closing timeframe will vary by lenders and even states. In the Kingstowne area, an average closing time is 30 days. We work with a handful of preferred lenders and all can close in as quickly as 2 weeks if needed. This can set our buyers apart if they’re in a competing situation. That said, often times if a home is still occupied the sellers need a few weeks to move out. Working with a loan officer that gives you the flexibility to close on the seller’s timeframe is important in the current market conditions because sellers are in the driver’s seat. In the Kingstowne area, it’s not advisable to work with a lender that needs more than 30 days to close your loan.

 


Are you looking for help with your Kingstowne real estate needs? Contact me at 703-431-3755 or amanda@amandadavidson.com. Whether its questions about buying a home or looking for a recommendation for a local lender I’m always glad to assist.

 

 

 

Realtor Safety | It's Not Just a Concern When Going to Meet Prospective Clients

Realtor Safety – It’s Not Just a Concern When Going to Meet Prospective Clients

I’ve been thinking about writing this post for months but, for some time just couldn’t bring myself to relive something that happened to me last November. Realtor safety discussions often revolve around the risks involved when we go to meet someone to show a house. I think that’s the most common risk and likely the biggest one we face but, last year I experienced a different kind of safety concern. I wasn’t prepared when another agent’s client showed up at my office and proceeded to threaten me.
 


It started off like many mornings do, just me and my assistant at the office. I was in the back in my office and heard the door chime, she works at the front and greets everyone that visits our office. I heard a disgruntled male voice and walked up to see who was there. I was greeted with you real estate agents are crooks and you will change the language in the lease now. I knew immediately who he was, his agent had told me she was having trouble with him wanting to change the language of the lease to accommodate him if he wanted to break it early. I introduced myself and explained that I wasn’t able to talk with him because he is represented by another agent and I don’t believe in violating the Code Of Ethics. That only fueled his anger so I offered to call his agent and put her on speaker so that she could be a part of the conversation. The situation was growing increasingly volatile with him pacing, refusing to sit down, getting in my face and tossing insults left and right.

 


He was former military and used to leases that allowed him to move at any time due to his military orders. Due to no longer being military that wasn’t an option anymore. I was ultimately able to think of a way to add wording to protect my client in the event he wanted to break the lease while still giving him the option to end the 1-year term early. Not before he threatened me and tried to force me to make changes without my client’s approval. The line that really sticks with me was – my parents must be proud I steal money from people for a living, he was about 2 inches away from my face when he said it. He was out of line in every way but, I knew with his anger spewing I couldn’t go the confrontational route. I was genuinely scared for my safety which is a very rare occurrence for me. I am a very observant person and carry a gun when I feel circumstances are unknown. I don’t take chances in anyway when it comes to my safety but, I was not prepared for this situation at all. No gun, no pepper spray, nothing. The only thing I could do was try to diffuse the situation.

 

 

I didn’t realize it at the time but, my assistant had slipped into a spare office and grabbed something I could use to defend myself if needed. She was poised by the phone to call the police. As it was happening I knew it was dangerous but, it wasn’t until it was over and he left that I started shaking and crying realizing how badly it could have ended. She was completely shaken too, it was hard to even process what had happened. It was also a huge wakeup call that we’re vulnerable even if we’re just in our office.

 

 

I am completely fine and only wanted to share my experience to raise awareness that as Realtors we aren’t just at risk when we go show homes. Taking the time to think about our daily routines and identifying times and places we could be at risk is important. I hope that everyone will take the time to do that, we all have different routines but, each one of them carries risk. We owe it to ourselves to do everything we can to minimize those risks.

 

 

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    Runnymeade Homes For Sale in Alexandria | August 2018 Market Update

    Runnymeade Homes For Sale in Alexandria | August 2018 Market Update
     


    Why Do People Live Here?

    Runnymeade is conveniently located off South Van Dorn Street. It’s just two stop lights to 495 and less than 15 minutes from National Harbor and Old Town. There is a beautiful wooded area in the community where you’ll often see residents playing with their children, walking their dogs, or enjoying a game of catch or kickball. The neighborhood has tennis courts and tot lots.
     


    Looking For A Home In Runnymeade?

    Interested in finding homes for sale in the Runnymeade neighborhood of Alexandria VA? Click that link to find homes currently available in this area of Alexandria.
     


    What’s The Neighborhood Like?

    Runnymeade is home to 346 townhomes. They were constructed in the 1980’s and range from 2,080 square feet up to 3,000 square feet depending on the model. All of the homes are three levels, some offer one car garages while others sell with an assigned surface parking space. The homes range from 2-4 bedrooms and 2-3 full bathrooms. The homes are typically in the $415,000 to $500,000 price range.
     



    What’s Going On Nearby the Runnymeade Neighborhood?

    There’s no shortage of things to do if you live in Runnymeade. Kingstowne Towne Center is less than 5 minutes away. You’ll find multiple grocery stores, Kingstowne 16 Movie Theater, World Market, Home Goods, Panera Bread, Pasara Thai, Bonefish Grill, Bath and Body Works and many other dining and retail options in the center. The center is home to over 25 dining options. Runnymeade is also close to Springfield Town Center, home to Maggiano’s, Yard House, Chuys, LA Fitness, Target, and many retail stores. Check out the movie theater while you’re there – it’s a great experience from the comfortable seats to the delicious food. You can even have an adult beverage while you watch the latest release. Hilltop Village Center, home to the sought after Wegmans grocery store is less than ten minutes from the neighborhood. Van Dorn and Franconia Springfield metro stations are easily accessible and there is a bus stop located in the front of the neighborhood that’s in walking distance to all residents. 395, 495, 95, and Fairfax County Parkway are all just minutes away.
     


    What Schools Will The Kids Attend?

    Children living in the Runnymeade neighborhood will attend Bush Hill Elementary, Twain Middle, and Edison High School. Visit GreatSchools for reviews and information on test scores.

     


    Now You Really Want to Find a Home Here, Right?

    If you are interested in the current homes for sale in the Runnymeade neighborhood of Alexandria VA click on the link. Our property information is a direct feed from the Bright MLS and is updated multiple times per day.

    If you have questions about the neighborhood just let us know. We'd be happy to help!

     

     

    Kingstowne Home Sales July 2018 Market Update

    Kingstowne Home Sales July 2018 Market Update

    The housing market in Kingstowne continues to see strong sales. Days on the market inched up just a bit but, remain extremely low. Median sale price decreased as compared to last month but, as compared to last year is up by over $20,000. 
     


    Let’s check in on what happened in the Kingstowne market during July 2018.

    •Number of Sales: 56

    •Highest Priced Sale: $865,000

    •Lowest Priced Sale: $300,000

    •Median Sales Price: $483,150

    •Median Days on Market: 9

    •Median Sale Price to List Price Ratio: 98.69%

     

    Is It A Buyer’s Or A Seller’s Market?
    It is still a seller’s market in Kingstowne. Throughout 2018 it has remained a seller’s market. Supply in Kingstowne is not keeping up with demand.

    View homes for sale in Kingstowne.

    Current Inventory In Kingstowne

    There are currently 66 homes for sale in Kingstowne. An increase from this time last month by 7 but, important to point out that the Crest Of Alexandria a 55+ active adult community has added new construction listings and they account for part of the increase. Overall inventory levels saw very little change month over month. The Kingstowne real estate market is strong and homes continue to move quickly but, only when they show well and are priced correctly. By priced correctly we mean according to the market. Even though it’s a seller’s market overpricing a home is a big mistake that will cause it to sit and become stale inventory. Buyers are savvy and looking for a turnkey product. There’s no doubt it’s a great time to sell your Kingstowne home but, what if you’re looking to buy in Kingstowne? While inventory is low that doesn’t mean its non-existent. Having the right strategy and understanding that sellers are in the driver’s seat will prepare you to be successful. With interest rates slowly rising waiting to buy will cost you more. Interest rates are by no means high, they’re still historically low but, they are higher than they were, for example, this time last year. If prices continue to rise waiting will cost you more in the form of a higher sale price as well. While there are always exceptions, in general, this market is not conducive to much if any negotiation. Often times it takes offering above list price to be successful. Work with your agent to make your offer as appealing to the sellers as possible from minimal contingencies to a flexible closing date there are lots of ways to stand out to a seller and secure your dream home.
     


    If you’d like to know more about the Kingstowne real estate market or have questions about buying or selling reach out to us. We are a small boutique brokerage focused on personalized service and always happy to help.
     


    Find out the value of your Kingstowne home here – free estimate. Our home value tool is just a guide if you are looking for an accurate analysis of the current value of your home nothing replaces the expertise of a local agent with years of experience selling homes.
     


    Kingstowne Home Sales June 2018 Market Update

    5 Things To Do In Kingstowne

     

     

     

    Osaka Japanese Steakhouse in Kingstowne

    Osaka Japanese Steakhouse in Kingstowne

    If you’re in the mood for great food and entertainment in Kingstowne I highly recommend Osaka. The restaurant has been in Kingstowne for years and it’s tucked away in Kingstowne Towne Center. I hadn’t been in ages and we went for date night last weekend. Same great service, high-quality food, and lots of tricks from our chef.

     

     

    Osaka has wonderful hibachi but, it doesn’t end there. They have fun specialty drinks and their sushi is excellent. Their specialty drink list has over 15 options – the Geisha is a favorite of mine. Pineapple juice, lemon, rum, and a splash of Curacao give it its fun turquoise color. It always makes me think of vacation. If you’re just looking to keep it simple beer and wine are also served. The bar is a great place to sit if there’s a wait. You can enjoy a beverage while you watch them make sushi.
     


    The hibachi entrees are served with soup and salad. Osaka offers the most options for hibachi that I’ve ever seen. Instead of just steak, you can choose from the cut of meat you like; filet, ribeye, or strip. Shrimp, scallops, lobster, and chicken are all choices as well. I opted for the ribeye and chicken combination, of course, I didn’t get anywhere near finishing it but, it was perfect for leftovers the next day. Osaka also offers a kids menu that’s a great value for young diners.

     

     

    Our chef was excellent, the entertainment of spinning an egg and cracking it over a knife along with shrimp being tossed always makes for a great time. There isn't a time we visit that we don't have a great meal and always enjoy the company of other guests at the table.

     

     

    Homes For Sale in the Landsdowne Neighborhood in Alexandria Virginia

    Homes For Sale in the Landsdowne Neighborhood in Alexandria Virginia

    Why Do People Live Here?
    Landsdowne is a beautiful neighborhood of single family homes and townhomes that are conveniently located in the Kingstowne area of Alexandria. It’s not uncommon to see people out enjoying the mature tree-lined streets or kids out riding their bikes. From a 25-meter outdoor swimming pool complete with a deep and shallow play area to tennis and basketball courts, wading pool, picnic area with grills, tot lots, and walking paths there’s a lot for residents to enjoy.
     


    Looking For A Home In Landsdowne?
    Interested in finding homes for sale in the Landsdowne neighborhood of Alexandria VA? Click that link to find homes currently available in this area of Alexandria.
     


    What’s The Neighborhood Like?
    The homes you would expect to find for sale in the Landsdowne neighborhood are generally going to range between 1000 and 2700 square feet. The homes were constructed by Pulte and Richmond American homes in the late 80’s. The smallest homes in the neighborhood start with 2 bedrooms while the larger floor plans have 5 bedrooms. The homes range from 2 to 3 levels and some offer garage parking.
     


     

    What’s Going On Nearby the Landsdowne Neighborhood?
    Landsdowne is located right off Beulah Street and is in walking distance to shopping and dining. Hilltop Village Center is just across the street and has everything from a grocery store to a coffee shop. If you’re looking for a good meal walk on over to Burton’s Grill, a great local spot with a chefs menu that changes weekly. Landsdowne Centre is also within walking distance and home to some wonderful local restaurants. Check out Olympians Family Restaurant or Mission Barbeque.

     


    What Schools Will The Kids Attend?
    Children in the neighborhood will attend Island Creek Elementary and Hayfield Secondary schools. To see local school scores and more information check out the GreatSchools website.

     



     

    Now You Really Want to Find a Home Here, Right?

    If you are interested in the current homes for sale in the Landsdowne neighborhood of Alexandria VA click on the link. Our property information is a direct feed from the Bright MLS and is updated multiple times per day.

     


     

    Do you have a question about Landsdowne?
    Just let us know if you'd like to ask us something specific about this neighborhood. 


     

    Under Contract In Brambleton: 42346 Benfold Square Ashburn, Va 20148

    Under Contract In Brambleton: 42346 Benfold Square Ashburn, Va 20148

    Pristine and 4 Years Young Van Metre Townhome!
     


    You won’t find another home with as much pride of ownership as 42346 Benfold Square and it was no surprise that it went under contract after just 5 days on the market. Inspections and the appraisal are complete and everyone is looking forward to closing later this month.

     


    42346 Benfold Square was built in 2014 by Van Metre and features 2 levels, 3 bedrooms, 2 full baths, and 1 half bath. You’re greeted with upgraded 5” hickory engineered hardwood floors on the main level. Entertain guests in the open kitchen with upgraded appliances, granite, backsplash, and a center island. The upgraded maple cabinets offer plentiful storage.
     


    Relax in the great room with the gas fireplace featuring granite surround. The ceiling fan, recessed lighting and crown molding add the perfect accents to the main level.
     


    Step out into the fully fenced backyard with a patio and enjoy the outdoors.
     


    As you walk up to the upper level you’ll find additional upgraded 5” hickory engineered hardwood flooring in the hall with a retreat area that’s perfect for an office. The laundry room is located off the retreat – nothing more convenient than upper-level laundry!
     


    The exceptionally large master suite is located on the right as you come up the stairs and in addition to the generous space boasts 2 walk-in closets. Upgraded tile, dual vanities with a granite top, and a large shower await you in the master bathroom.
     


    On the opposite side of the retreat are two additional bedrooms and a full bath. Both bedrooms are well sized and have ample hanging space in the closets.
     


    Enjoy all that the Brambleton lifestyle offers- outdoor pools, parks, community center, fitness center, clubhouse, sports courts, and tot lots. High-speed internet and cable are included in the HOA fee. 42346 Benfold Square is also located within minutes to the future Silver Line Metro.
     


    This home is already gone but, if you're looking to live the Brambleton lifestyle we can find you your dream home. Browse homes for sale in Brambleton and contact Amanda Davidson Real Estate Group to start your home search today, 703-988-1711 or info@amandadavidson.com.

     

     

    How Did Home Sales Perform in Alexandria in June 2018?

    How Did Home Sales Perform in Alexandria in June 2018?
    June was another strong month for home sales in Alexandria. Sellers continue to enjoy an over 98% sale to list price ratio and low days on the market.


     

     

    Here are the stats for June 2018 in Alexandria…

    •Number of Sales: 653 (increase from 614 in May)

    •Highest Priced Sale: $2,875,000

    •Lowest Priced Sale: $113,490

    •Median Sale Price: $504,500 (increase from $496,300 in May)

    •Median Days on Market: 10 (increase from 7 in May)

    •Median Sale Price to List Price Ratio: 98.57% (decrease from 99.03% in May)
     

    To gain perspective let’s go back and compare to June 2017…

    •Number of Sales: 652

    •Highest Priced Sale: $3,900,000

    •Lowest Priced Sale: $100,000

    •Median Sale Price: $482,300

    •Median Days on Market: 9

    •Median Sale Price to List Price Ratio: 98.50%

    Comparing the previous year highlights changes in the market. In this case, the market has remained consistent with the exception of the median sale price which saw a 4.6% increase.

     


     

    Active Listings in Alexandria
    As of today, there are 877 homes for sale in Alexandria. An increase from 857 at this time last month. The lowest priced property is a studio with 467 square feet listed at $115,000 and the highest is a 6 bedroom, 4.5 bath single family home with 8,145 square feet listed at $8,500,000. Current active listings in Alexandria have an average of 48.5 days on the market, an increase of 13.5 days as compared to last month.

     


    Pending Sales in Alexandria
    There are currently 614 homes under contract. Median days on the market for the pending homes is 35.

    View homes for sale in Alexandria

    Is Alexandria Experiencing A Buyer’s Or A Seller’s Market?

    In general 0-3 months of inventory is considered a seller’s market. Alexandria currently has less than 1 month of inventory. A trend that we’ve experienced throughout the year. Demand continues to outpace supply. It’s an excellent time to sell your Alexandria home. The fact that it’s a seller’s market doesn’t mean there aren’t pitfalls to avoid. Buyers know they are (in most cases paying) top dollar and in turn, they expect a product that has a reasonable amount of updates, shows well and is priced correctly. They resist homes that are overpriced and steer clear of them. Sellers who overprice their homes will still see the market react in the form of the home sitting and becoming what we like to call stale bread. No one pays top dollar for stale bread! With the right agent to guide you and the proper marketing plan in place that’s customized to your home, you will have a successful sale. It’s not just about selling, it’s about selling for the highest price in the shortest time possible. 
     


    Homes that sell quickly and are in high demand have similar characteristic; they are clean and well maintained, reasonably updated, uncluttered, and they are priced according to the current market. As a seller, when you meet these conditions your home will not only stand out from the competition it will also have the best opportunity to sell for top dollar.
     


    Buyers have to be prepared to make quick decisions in the current market. Have your pre-approval in hand, know what your must-haves are, and work with an agent who has full-time availability to show you homes as soon as they come on the market. Days on the market remain very low and delaying in making an offer when you find a home you love can mean it’s already under contract. In general, the current market is not conducive to negotiating power for buyers but, there are some homes that will be an exception. If the home you want has only been on the market for a couple days be prepared to make your highest and best offer upfront, it’s the smallest details that are making one buyer stand out from the next. Price is, of course, an important factor but, seller concessions, contingencies, and closing date are also details buyers need to consider. Rely on your agent to help you construct an offer that’s going to stand out to the sellers.
     


    Reach out to Amanda at 703-431-3755 or email amanda@amandadavidson.com to talk about the marketability of your home. Market reports provide general information but, they sure don’t replace a custom market analysis from an agent who understands the intricacies of the Alexandria real estate market. Every home and its unique features influence where it should be priced. Achieving top dollar for your home regardless of the current market conditions is always our top priority.