10 Tips To Keep Your Home Safe During The Holidays

Holiday Meal

Have you figured out what you’re making (or what you’re bringing) for Thanksgiving dinner yet? I bet you have! But don’t forget to think about how to keep your home safe if you’re traveling during the holidays.

Here are 10 Tips To Keep Your Home Safe

(1) Be careful with your status updates on Insta, Facebook, etc. Don’t be too specific. For example: “Can’t wait to see Grandma & Grandpa” might be better than “Leaving for Ohio in 2 hours. Back on Sunday.

(2) Take advantage of the “nosy neighbors” you have (assuming you trust them!). Ask them to keep an eye out while you are away. Make sure they know how to reach you in case of an emergency.

(3) If you still have a newspaper delivered instead of reading online, make sure you suspend delivery. (And ask a neighbor to keep your driveway clear of the various “throwaway publications” that appear.)

(4) Think twice about setting up an auto-responder or voice mail message that says you’re out of town – especially if you work from a home office. A better idea might be to just say you are not checking messages until a certain date (as if you’re taking a “Stay-Cation”.)

(5) Set up timers on certain lights in your house. Install motion detector lights outdoors.

One of my neighbors (who happens to know a bit about this topic since he is a Sheriff!) gave me some extra advice about this particular item. He said,  “My two cents on timers. If you use them, stagger the times they go on and off, create the illusion of movement in the house. Most people have them go on and off at the same time. Instead, have downstairs timers go on during normal dinner & TV time, and then go off. Then have upstairs timers go on like you’re going to bed. Works great and gives the bad guys doubts if you’re home or not.” GREAT ADVICE!

(6) Don’t forget to lock the interior garage door. Exterior doors are relatively easy to compromise. And lock ALL of your windows.

(7) Stop your mail. Or have a neighbor collect it daily.

(8) Don’t publish your physical address or personal information on your social media profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. It’s amazing how many people advertise their birthdate, home address and more – just because the site asked you to fill it in when you set up your account. It’s not just children who do this, but many adults who are new to the world of social media are guilty of this as well. Even if your site is “friend-protected”, you’d be surprised at what web-savvy folks can find out. Be discreet!

(9) If your home is in an area of the country where it’s cold (as in freezing), don’t turn your heat off. You don’t want your pipes to freeze!

(10) You can always employ the tactics of Kevin McAllister in “Home Alone”!

SELLERS: Make sure you read our blog post about whether or not it’s a good idea to sell during the holidays. In general, low inventory & low housing supply mean good things for you. But there are lots of things to consider.

BUYERS: Inventory is low and even as we approach the holidays, homes are selling quickly. If you would like to buy now & celebrate the New Year in your new home, make you use our state-of-the-art home search site. Listings are updated on our system faster than other sites so you won’t miss out on your Dream Home!

If you’’re thinking of buying or selling a home, Contact The Belt Team at (703) 242-3975 for a more in-depth discussion & analysis – because it’s only the neighborhood YOU live in (or you WANT to live in) that matters. We’ll be happy to schedule a consultation and get very detailed about “YOUR Market” so that you can make the decision that is best for YOU!

Belt Team 50th Anniversary and Client Appreciation Event!

2017 marks 50 years for The Belt Team. We are grateful to have been invited into so many clients’ lives over the years. To end our year of celebration, we invite YOU (our past & current clients) to bring your family and join us for dessert, coffee & hot chocolate in The Atrium at Meadowlark Gardens.

The first 100 guests to RSVP will also receive free entry that night to Meadowlark Gardens’ Winter Walk of Lights courtesy of Mark Kilfeather (George Mason Mortgage) and Manuel Sanchez (our favorite handyman!) (Tickets are normally $8-$16 each.) Don’t miss this! Take a peek!

We’re looking forward to seeing you. Come say hello to the entire Belt Team – Terry Belt, Gail Belt, Kevin Kleifges, Beth Dadisman, Tom Hanton, Jerry Belt & Christy Belt Grossman!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fun Facts About The Winter Walk of Lights

  • This is the 6th year for the Walk of Lights.
  • It takes 3 MONTHS to install the lights & displays!
  • You can ask for a Scavenger Hunt form at the front desk.
  • The huge tree at the end of the walk has 50,000 LED lights.

SPONSORS:

The Belt Team chooses our partners VERY carefully. Serving our clients well is our number one priority. We are happy to share our sponsors with you and highly recommend their services. Mark Kilfeather is a great resource for refinancing your mortage or for securing a new loan. Manuel is our “go-to” guy for handyman repairs and home improvements.

Mark Kilfeather, Assistant Branch Manager, George Mason Mortgage

Manuel Sanchez, Owner, Sanchez General Contractor Inc

  • Phone: 571-212-3657
  • Email: sanchezgcontractor@gmail.com

Fun Facts About The Belt Team

  • 2017 is the 50th year The Belt Team has been in business.
  • The Belt Team’s Mission is “Changing Lives For The Better“.
  • One member of The Belt Team struck out the Homerun King (Frank Howard) four times in one game.
  • One member of The Belt Team was VP of the Student Body at Wolftrap Elementary the year the time capsule was buried.
  • Meadowlark Gardens is in Vienna & The Belt Team has sold more homes in Vienna than ANY other Realtor or Team. (And we’ve sold more outside Vienna than in!)

Hiring an Agent to Sell Your House May Cost You NOTHING!

Here’s the latest report in from Keeping Current Matters:
Hiring an Agent to Sell Your House May Cost You NOTHING! | MyKCM

There is no doubt that it is easier to sell your house when using the services of a local real estate professional. The agent will provide:

  • Greater exposure to more buyers
  • The skills of a professional negotiator
  • A layer of protection from possible legal liabilities
  • Professional guidance in navigating any pitfalls that may arise
  • A level of safety while showing the home

There is no doubt that these services are valuable to any family that decides to sell. The only question is – how valuable? One of the main reasons For Sale By Owners (FSBOs) don’t use a real estate agent is because they believe these services are not worth the fee an agent charges. But, what if those services didn’t cost the seller a penny?

study by Collateral Analytics, however, reveals that FSBOs don’t actually save anything and, in some cases, may be costing themselves more by not listing with an agent.

In the study, they analyzed home sales in a variety of markets in 2016 and the first half of 2017. The data showed that:

“FSBOs tend to sell for lower prices than comparable home sales, and in many cases below the average differential represented by the prevailing commission rate.” (emphasis added)

Why would FSBOs net less money on their own than if they used an agent?

The study makes several suggestions:

  • “There could be systematic bias on the buyer side as well. FSBO sales might attract more strategic buyers than MLS sales, particularly buyers who rationalize lower-priced bids on with the logic that the seller is “saving” a traditional commission. Such buyers might specifically search for and target sellers who are not getting representational assistance from agents.” In other words, ‘bargain lookers’ might shop FSBOs more often.
  • “Experienced agents are experts at ‘staging’ homes for sale” which could bring more money for the home.
  • “Properties listed with a broker that is a member of the local MLS will be listed online with all other participating broker websites, marketing the home to a much larger buyer population. And those MLS properties generally offer compensation to agents who represent buyers, incentivizing them to show and sell the property and again potentially enlarging the buyer pool.” If more buyers see a home, the greater the chances are that there could be a bidding war for the property.

Three conclusions from the study:

  1. FSBOs achieve prices significantly lower than those from similar properties sold by Realtors using the MLS.
  2. The differential in selling prices for FSBOs when compared to MLS sales of similar properties is about 5.5%.
  3. The sales in 2017 suggest the average price was near 6% lower for FSBO sales of similar properties.

Bottom Line

If you are thinking of selling, FSBOing may end up costing you money instead of saving you money.

Wondering How Much Your House Is Worth? Here’s a place to start. THEN call Terry Belt & The Belt Team at (703) 242-3975.

WHat Is My Home Worth

Search Northern VA Homes For Sale By School District

Over the years, we’ve noticed many of our clients rank “school district” as one of their top search criteria when thinking of buying a new home. Whether it’s because you have children in school now or because you’re thinking about resale value – school district can be an important factor. For example, some buyers look for schools that offer AP (Advanced Placement) classes. While other buyers are more interested in a school that offers the IB (International Baccalaureate) program. Some require a school with a GT program. And others are looking for special assistance. We’ve even had clients choose a home based on a particular high school baseball team they are targeting. And others who search for homes based on who has the best theater program. In Northern Va, there’s something for everyone!

So we made it easy for you. Our web site has customized searches by high school for Northern Virginia homes in areas like Vienna, Oakton, Arlington, Fairfax & all the surrounding areas.

Search Northern Virginia Homes For Sale by School District

What is My Current Home Worth? (Instant, Online Home Valuation)

The Belt Team is ranked in the Top 20 Best Realtors in the State of VA by Real Trends (out of 30,000 agents) and also named to Washingtonian Magazine’s Best Agents in 2015 & 2016. Call (703) 242-3975 and The Belt Team will help YOU make the RIGHT move!

Hurricane Harvey – What YOU Can Do

Dear Friends & Clients . . .

Thank you to those who have already reached out to us to see how you can help! It means a lot.

For those who don’t know, our company (Keller Williams Realty) is headquartered in Austin, Texas. This means we have thousands of agents in the Houston and surrounding areas that were hit by Hurricane Harvey. At present count, at least 300 of our agents (and thousands of other non KW folks) are out of their homes and many more severely impacted. 7,000 people will take refuge in Austin where many of us will be volunteering. Not only have they lost their homes, their pets and belongings – they will be impacted for months to come since their livelihood is dependent on the housing industry.

We have many personal friends who have been impacted. And many others who have been heroes, literally pulling people out of the water. One of many stories shared yesterday: “We finally found our cat. Floating by on a mattress.”

YOU CAN HELP.

Our company has an established 501(c)3 charity (KW Cares) with a long history and lots of experience in helping with disaster relief and recovery. We own multiple 18 wheelers for this purpose, the first of which arrived in Houston with supplies today. Rather than collecting water, clothing and other supplies, the best way you can help is to donate money. KW Cares is then able to buy in bulk. They are working closely with the Salvation Army & Red Cross, and will adjust what is purchased based on needs as they change day by day. 100% of all donations go to disaster relief. (All admin costs are personally handled by our Chairman Gary Keller and Vice Chairman of the Board Mo Anderson).

Image result for kw cares trucks

DONATE NOW

(Please donate and choose McLean or other when instructed to choose a Market Center. Designate your donation to Hurricane Harvey Relief.)

Our company has committed to raise $20 Million. We have a LONG way to go.

Thanks for stepping up. It’s in times like this that the good in people comes out and our friends and family shine. We appreciate you. Please pray for all of those affected.

#kwcares

Regards,

The Belt Team

Terry Belt, Christy Belt Grossman, Kevin Kleifges, Patty Schuebel, Beth Dadisman, Tom Hanton, Gail Belt & Jerry Belt

Terry Belt & The Belt Team Named To Washingtonian’s Top Real Estate Agent List

The Belt Team is honored to announce that we have once again been named to Washingtonian Magazines “Top Real Estate Agent List” in the 2017 “Best of Washington” issue. Only about 100 agents in the entire Northern VA, Washington D.C. & Maryland area (out of tens of thousands) were listed (and a large number of those were in our own Keller Williams McLean office!). Thanks to all of our clients and friends for allowing us to serve you and for your referrals!

In case you’re wondering how they came up with the list, here’s what the magazine said previously: ” We sent surveys to nearly 16,000 recent Washington homebuyers asking them to rank their agents on a series of criteria, including integrity, market knowledge, and negotiation skills. We called mortgage brokers and settlement attorneys to ask whom they most enjoy doing business with and whose clients always seem happiest. And of course, we asked dozens of agents to dish about their peers. Based on these layers of reporting, we came up with the names.

The Belt Team includes Terry Belt (CEO), Gail Belt (Founding Partner), Kevin Kleifges (Listing Specialist), Beth Dadisman (Realtor), Tom Hanton (Realtor), Christy Grossman (Chief Operating Officer), Jerry Belt (Special Services) & Patty Schuebel (Client Care Manager).

Best of WashingtonianThe Belt Team serves all of Northern Virginia and Washington DC. We have sold more homes in the Vienna Oakton area than any other Realtor or team since 1973, and we also sell more homes outside of Vienna / Oakton than we do in! The Belt Team Team is ranked in the Top 3000 Teams for the largest real estate company by agent count in the world – Keller Williams Realty, with over 140,000 agents. And we are most proud of the Five Star reviews given to us by our past clients on independent real estate site Zillow.com because the reviews reflect that we are achieving our mission: “Changing Lives For The Better“!

If it’s time to change YOUR life, call Terry Belt & The Belt Team at (703) 242-3975!

Search our state-of-the-art web site

FREE, Instant Online Home Valuation

Top Realtor Vienna VA

U.S. Housing Inventory Hits a New Low – That’s GREAT! (If You’re Selling!)

Here’s the latest from our colleagues at Keeping Current Matters.
For info about YOUR neighborhood (or the neighborhood you want to live in), give The Belt Team a call at (703) 242-3975. We can provide you with detailed facts PLUS the “boots on the ground” data that will help you make the RIGHT move! Because what’s happening in Vienna may be different than in Arlington. Even more important is price range – because we are seeing a slowing in the upper ranges, while other price ranges remain HOT!
U.S. Housing Inventory Hits a New Low… List Your House TODAY! | MyKCM

Every summer, families across the country decide if this will be the year they sell their current house and move into their dream home.

Mortgage rates have hovered around 4% for all of 2017, forcing buyers off the fence and into the market, resulting in incredibly strong demand RIGHT NOW!! At the same time, inventory levels of homes for sale have dropped dramatically as compared to this time last year.

Trulia reported that “U.S. home inventory has tumbled 8.9% over the past year and has now fallen for nine consecutive quarters.” There is now 20% less inventory than there was five years ago.

Here is a chart showing the decrease in inventory levels by category:

U.S. Housing Inventory Hits a New Low… List Your House TODAY! | MyKCM

Bottom Line

Demand for your home is very strong right now while your competition (other homes for sale) is at a historically low level. If you are thinking of selling in 2017, now may be the perfect time.

FREE INSTANT ONLINE HOME VALUATION

Search Homes For Sale on our State-of-the-Art Search Site (It’s updated faster and more often than other sites!)

Top Realtor Vienna VA