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Piedmont Real Estate Blog

Flying Off the Shelves

Jul. 12, 2011
Categorized in: Buyers

It's been a long time since I've seen my buyers having so much trouble finding houses to buy. In some areas inventory (high quality, well-priced inventory) disappears almost as fast as it hits the market. The western side of Prince William county, including Gainesville, Bristow and Haymarket fit that description. The southeastern side of the county, not so much.

But even in places like Bealeton and Remington, in the lower price ranges there is very limited inventory for sale and the good stuff goes fast.

There is an increasingly steady drumbeat of press articles around this amazing buying opportunity, that might be part of it.

Meanwhile, the many reasons sellers don't want to sell if they don't have to haven't changed, which continues to limit inventory.

So, is it a great time to buy? Interest rates are low, prices remain low (although beginning to edge upwards a slight bit) and those are good things. The lack of inventory and continued economic uncertainty would suggest continuing to proceed with caution. Every situation is different. But if you're staying put over 5 years, I like your odds of at least breaking even when you sell.

Short Sale Success Stories

Mar. 14, 2010
Categorized in: Foreclosures/Short Sales

Admit it. You saw the title of this blog and thought "no way"!

I understand that kind of thinking! Short sales are hard. I talk about that all the time on this blog. But it's time to look at some success stories. Hard doesn't mean impossible. And, it doesn't mean you should avoid a short sale like the plague.

Here are the stories of three sellers and their successful short sales.

Note: Success is defined here as the clients believe it was successful and they achieved what they wanted from the short sale.

The first story is a young couple with a house in Bealeton. They were upside down on the house and their interest rate was about to reset. They would be unable to afford the new payments. They wanted to preserve their ability to rebuild their credit and buy again in the future as their family grew. They were one of the early short sales in this area. It took time, but the short sale was approved. They had great credit before the short sale and did everything they could to maintain that afterwards. Now, nearly three years later they're once again in a position to talk to a lender about buying a home.

Another young couple owned a townhouse in Remington. They bought it just before they got married. Their growing family had made the townhouse much too small for them. They initially rented out the townhouse. But when the renter stopped paying, decided it was time to try a short sale. Not only did the short sale get approved and the deficiency forgiven. The lender in this case actually gave the sellers a small check after the sale. Even more important to this couple, their credit has been almost unaffected. I can't guarantee it'll work this way for everyone. But they saw only a 1 point reduction in their credit score.

The third short sale is a townhouse in Culpeper. The owners were transferred out of state. They initially rented the townhouse out. But the rent they received didn't begin to cover the mortgage. When the tenants moved on, they decided to try a short sale rather than go to foreclosure. Their goal was to avoid a foreclosure and it's greater damage to their credit. This one took almost a year. It featured four different buyers, six different lenders and required the patience of Job! But in the end, these sellers also succeeded.

If you are upside down on your mortgage and don't know what to do, you owe it to yourself to at least discuss the possibility of a short sale.


Fauquier Geography and Real Estate Prices

Feb. 1, 2010
Categorized in: Fauquier County


You know what they say: Location, location, location!

That's true just about everywhere. (I allow for the possibility that there may be some corner of the world where this rule does not apply!)

But how does it apply specifically in Fauquier County? I'm going to examine one aspect of the location question here, where are you in Fauquier County.

How much a home is worth is dependent in large part on where in Fauquier County it sits. In general, plan on spending more if you're buying in the northern part of the county, less as you head south. So the same home on a similar lot in The Plains or Marshall will cost you more than one in Remington or Bealeton. There are a number of reasons for this.

First of all, Fauquier is part of the greater Northern Virginia real estate market. Yes, it's on the fringes of that area, but a huge percentage of local residents and potential home buyers commute into Northern Virginia each and every day. For most commuters, the northern part of the county is simply more convenient. You're closer to I66, the major commuting artery in this neck of the woods. You're also close to 50, 29 and 15.

If you're commuting into either Northern VA or DC, most people consider Bealeton or Remington a longer commute. It's further to get to 66. And, heaven help you if you're commuting route includes I95!

At the northern end of the county you're also closer to access to VRE (Virginia Railway Express). That's really the only mass transit option that's anywhere near us right now.

So if reducing their daily commute is the first reason for choosing northern Fauquier County, what's the second? The countryside itself. Let's face it, southern Fauquier is flat! There's nothing wrong with that, but for scenic beauty, most people would prefer the rolling hills and mountain views more frequently found in the northern part of the county.

Part of that scenic beauty is that this is hunt country. The horses definitely add to the gorgeous scenery, in my opinion and the opinion of many home buyers. And, if you're involved in horses, you're likely to find more events in this part of the county.

A third element I'll throw in is convenience. Like it or hate it, this is a society that likes to shop. In Fauquier County, for most people, that means Warrenton is their retail center, at least locally.

So, it's your turn. Why do you live where you live in Fauquier County? What do you think would improve the livability of where you are?


Nobody's Playing Outside

May. 4, 2008
Categorized in: Miscellaneous

There's an interesting article in Slate, the online magazine about the disappearing lawn. I thought this exerpt was particularly interesting.

U.S. Census Bureau data tell us that as American house sizes have grown (despite shrinking family sizes), the size of lots has actually shrunk. It is now not uncommon to see massive houses crowding to the very edge of their property line. Whatever lot is left is typically barren grass with a few random shrubs installed by landscapers (the lawn version of a bad hair-plug job). The scalped appearance of these lots is usually not accidental—developers often find it easier to cut down mature trees than to work around them.

And so then one sees it: the asymmetrical, triple-garage-fronted, architecturally confused house, towering over a lawn that's utterly stark—as if surrounding a prison so escapees can be seen—except for the assemblage of plastic junk and recreation equipment scattered here and there. Which is not being used, of course, because the entire family is inside the giant house, where the sounds of Nintendo echo off the high walls of the great room. The bright plastic begins to look like a memorial to the noble, dated idea of children playing outdoors. As historian Kenneth Jackson notes in his book Crabgrass Frontier, the shift to largely indoor living, accompanied by the much-reported decline of gardening and encouraged by everything from air conditioning (often now needed because houses seem to lack shade cover from trees) to front porches being replaced by garages, has left yards—when they even exist—curiously empty. "There are few places as desolate and lonely as a suburban street on a hot afternoon," he writes.

So true! Anyone driven around Bealeton or Remington lately?!

On a completely unrelated note, I've added a Meebo box to my blog here. If you'd like to chat with me about any of this, give it a try any time it shows me online! And, to the first person who gave it a try, I apologize for being so slow to respond! I didn't recognize the pinging sound at first!


One Week - Two Offers - One Contract

Nov. 2, 2007
Categorized in: Local Market Conditions

It's been a good week! I've gotten two offers on two different properties, one of which has already culminated in a ratified contract! That's definitely a good week!

One property is in Bealeton in Fauquier County and the other is in the town of Culpeper.

These properties share those critical qualities; they're aggressively priced and they show beautifully! The owners in both cases did everything they could to help get this done.

Only time will tell whether either of them actually go to settlement. You never know for sure until you sit at the settlement table and sign the documents. The two issues I'll be watching most closely are the appraisal and the financing. Either of these could derail this contract.

And, we'll have to wait and see whether the other offer ultimately results in a ratified contract. It's not dead yet!

All of this is proof again that there are buyers out there and it is possible to attract them.

That's good news for all of us to take into a weekend!

Piedmont Real Estate Blog

Blog by Julie Emery
Amissville, Virginia

An ongoing dialog on real estate news, opinion and trends in Northern Virginia and the greater Piedmont area. Julie is an Associate Broker at Frankly Real Estate Inc, 6304 Crossroads Circle, Ste 102, Falls Church, VA 22044


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