Unparalleled Trust Necessary Before Listing Your House

The article below came out last week from Keeping Current Matters. We thought it was right on target. It surprises us how often people trust the sale of their largest asset to someone who may not be an expert – just because they are a family member, a neighbor or a friend. They list their home with this person out of obligation. And then they take a BIG leap.

Questions To Ask When Selling Your Home

While they may be able to trust them in terms of their personal relationship, they often cannot really trust this person’s expertise, negotiating skills & problem solving abilities. When you’re selling your home, you need it all. Personal trust (integrity, To be able to trust they will have your best interests at heart) AND to trust they have the ability to do the job at a high level.


Here’s what Keeping Current Matters had to say:

You and your family have decided to sell your house. It is now time to choose a real estate professional to help with the process. One of the major attributes this agent must possess is trustworthiness. To what degree do you need to trust them?

You must have enough trust in them that you feel comfortable they will accomplish all four things below: 

1. Sell possibly the largest asset your family owns

In many cases, a home is the largest asset a family has. Studies have shown that the equity many families have in their home is the largest percentage of that family’s overall wealth. 

2. Set the correct market value on that asset

Pricing is crucial even in the best of markets. You want to get the best price for your home without putting your house at a value that buyers will have little interest in.

3. Set the time schedule for the liquidation of that asset

Your family probably has a certain timetable for the sale of your house and the move into your next home. Coordinating the home selling process to meet certain schedules can be tricky.

4. Set a fair fee for the services required to liquidate that asset

You will need to pay a commission to an agent for selling the home and coordinating all elements of the selling transaction, including possible future negotiations (ex. with a home inspector or appraiser).

That’s a lot of trust. Make sure you pick a true professional to help with the sale of your home.


So how do you know if you can trust the sale of your home to someone?

1. Interview them.

Ask questions. Ask for statistics – things like: how many homes they’ve sold (that will tell you whether they have good problem solving skills, relationships & resources for you to use), what their list to sell price ratio is compared to the average (that will tell you about their negotiation skills), and what their average days on market is (that will tell you about their expertise). Spend more time asking questions like these than asking where they advertise and what kind of videos they do. And don’t choose the realtor who just throws out the highest number. The results they get are what you’re after. If they are experts, you won’t need to tell them how to do what they do best.

2. Ask for references.

Call people who have sold their home with the team you’re interviewing and find out first hand what it’s like to work with them.

3. Google them.

You’ll be surprised what you see (or don’t see).Pay special attention to third party sites like Zillow. Realtors cannot control what is posted there (unlike the testimonials you see on their personal web sites.) And when you read the reviews, read between the lines. Are they generic (“she’s great”) or are they specific (she sold our home in 9 days over list price and has the patience of Job”)?

Whether you’re selling in Vienna or McLean, Great Falls or Falls Church, Oakton or Oak Hill, Arlington, Ashburn or Annadale – wherever you live – you deserve the BEST real estate team. For a FREE report of “Questions To Ask Your Realtor When Selling Your Home” – email The Belt Team or call (703) 242-3975. We are listed in the Top 20 Best Real Estate Agents in Virginia and are happy to help you make the RIGHT move.

Click here for Reviews on Zillow about Terry Belt, Kevin Kleifges, Tom Reilly, Beth Dadisman, Gail Belt & Tom Hanton

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3 Tips For Surviving The Northern VA Real Estate Jungle

An experience with a longtime friend got me thinking about the Northern VA real estate market and how it’s become a jungle out there. “Kill or be killed” as the saying goes.

Monday morning I got a Facebook message from my friend Tarzan that said “So Jane and I stopped by an open house yesterday just for grins . . . Uh Oh Chongo, we need The Belt Team!“. (Note: Names changed to fit the jungle theme – and to protect our clients.)

Apparently Tarzan & Jane had been debating over the past few months whether or not to renovate their current home – or whether to buy another home that was already updated. As part of their decision process, they had been stopping in to open houses to see what was out there, what other people had done and how much homes were going for. They weren’t ready to jump in to anything. Just gathering info.

But lo & behold, they walked into an open house on Sunday and fell in love. Hence the call to our team.

Well, if you have been following our Northern VA real estate blog, you know the market is crazy – with many areas (maybe even most areas) in a Seller’s Market. The home Tarzan & Jane were interested in had gone on the market the previous Friday. So, by the time they contacted us it had been for sale for 3 days. We reached out to the listing agent on their behalf and it turned out they had already received a contract and were close to ratifying it. Unfortunately, Trazan & Jane did not already have a loan approval letter (since they were not “serious” about buying until they saw this home). Jane works for a credit union and could make that happen quickly. But the Seller preferred the “bird in the hand”, did not want to wait and so their dream home home sold to another buyer.

Moral of the story? It’s a jungle out there! Whether you’re in the market to buy or sell now – or whether you’re just thinking about it – you have to proceed like animals do in the jungle. “Kill or be killed.” Here are 3 Tips to survive the real estate jungle:

Act Like A Cheetah:

Northern VA Real Estate Market Tips

Cheetahs don’t closely approach their prey and then slowly go after them. (Like what Tarzan & Jane did.) Instead, they stalk the animal and then charge it from a slight distance – at speeds no other animal can match. They also often hunt in groups. In the Northern VA real estate market, buyers need to act like a cheetah. They need to stalk the market, gather facts from expert hunters in their group (top notch Realtors), and then when they are ready – go in for the kill and do it fast. Realtors with long term partner relationships can make things happen fast.

I think folks who are contemplating buying or selling often hesitate to call a Realtor because they don’t want to be pressured, especially if they are not ready to do anything and are just in the fact gathering or mulling over the options stage.  While this might happen if you speak with a Realtor who does not do much business, it’s not the case if you talk to a trusted Realtor with years & years of happy clients. Our reputations have been too hard won to risk losing by pressuring a client into buying or selling when they are not ready. People also tell us “we don’t want to bother you until we know what we want to do”. But, really, it’s not a bother. We want to make sure you make the best decision you can and one that is right for YOU. Talking to us can provide clarity and additional things to think about that you had not previously considered. And it’s our pleasure to provide that service.

Protect Like A Lion:

Lion Yawning

The lion is known as the “King of the Jungle”. They protect themselves with their roar, their large mouths and their claws. This jungle animal also travels with other lions (in prides). In the Northern VA real estate market, you need to protect yourself like a lion. And a top notch real estate expert can help arm you with the claws you need – with counsel on loan approval, inspections, pricing, staging & more.

Free Reports from The Belt Team

Eat Like An Elephant:

Elephant

Elephants are known for eating massive amounts of food (some say African elephants eat 600 pounds in a day!). We’re not recommending chowing down at your local “all you can eat” buffet; but if you’re contemplating buying or selling a home – you need to consume information the way an elephant eats. Now, you can do this yourself or you can do it with the help of a professional. In the African elephant’s case, he eats like this every day, day after day. He’s an “expert eater” so to speak. On the other hand, if you took that African elephant and put him in Antarctica every 5-7 years and watched whether he was good at gathering food, we’d guess probably not as good as the penguins. The same thing goes for real estate. You need to eat real estate info the way an elephant eats – market statistics, interest rates, renovation costs, buying conditions, legal implications, resale issues, tax considerations, etc. And since you probably don’t do real estate on a daily basis year after year, it’s kind of like the elephant in Antarctica. He’d find a lot more food if he consulted the local eating professional (the penguin). And so will you by consulting the best Realtors in Vienna, Oakton, McLean or wherever you are looking to buy or sell.

Click here if you would like to set up FREE email listing alerts for Northern VA about homes coming on the market in the area you’re looking to buy or sell. It’s a great way to be educated to the market BEFORE you’re ready to make a move. (There’s no obligation.)

For more tips on how to survive the Northern VA Real Estate Jungle, contact The Belt Team or call (703) 242-3975.

The Dangers of Overpricing Your Home & Other Truths You NEED TO Know

As professionals in the Northern Virginia real estate market for more than 40 years, we have developed a reputation for integrity & truth telling – even when it’s not to our advantage.

The Belt Team Values

How could telling the truth not work in our favor?

One example would be when we’re showing homes to a Buyer. And the Buyer falls in love with the house. We can see it in their eyes and hear it in their voice. Sometimes it’s even love at first sight.

But part of our job is to make sure the Buyer has ALL the facts before making a  decision that could affect their future forever. Sometimes that means giving them information they may not want to hear – about potential resale issues for example. Buyers from other parts of the country may not care whether a home has a basement. But Buyers in Northern VA DO care. And so homes with finished basements are often much more saleable (and sell for more) than homes without basements. If the Buyer is a relocation client, and likely to relocate again in 3 years, they need to know this. Telling them about a resale issue when they just fell in love isn’t easy. And losing a potential sale is not easy for us either. But it’s in their best interest to do so. And for us, it’s always “client first”.

Another example where telling the truth may not work in our favor is when we are interviewing with potential Sellers. Some Sellers believe they should ask each agent for their recommended pricing and select the real estate agent who suggests the highest price or is at least willing to go along with their ‘dream’ price.” (Note: This is a myth! You should always select an agent on his/her credentials. Market value is a separate issue.)

So when we tell the truth of what’s happening in the market, and the Seller is not ready to hear it, we sometimes find the Seller chooses another agent to try to sell their home. (We call this “Jack Nicholson Syndrome”. Remember his line in “A Few Good Men”? – “You can’t handle the truth!”)

But it’s not unusual for some of these Sellers to come back to us 90 days later when their listing expires and their home is not sold. We always wish they had been ready for the truth sooner, because the longer your home is on the market, the less it usually sells for!

Never let an agent “buy” your listing.

It’’s tempting to “tell you what you want to hear”, but integrity and a professional price opinion are in your best interests. No one has a crystal ball & pricing can validly have some variability, but pricing realistically from the start is one of the strongest tools you have in winning the “Sales Game”! Listen to your agent’’s professional input and recommendations. Then make an educated decision and let the agent get on top of things at the start. Many agents will overprice a home in order to get the listing… and then ask for a price change down the line. You should insist on working with an agent with a proven track record. Ask the agent not only for a market analysis to determine the realistic amount your home will bear in today’’s market, but also ask them what their pulse is on the market. Then price your home accordingly. Overpricing a home is the worst mistake you can make! Statistics prove that the longer a home is on the market, the lower the price it will sell for.

This graph illustrates what happens when Sellers do not price to “market”:

The chart above shows what happens in a “stable market”. Markets that are “shifting” (such as ours) find Sellers who overprice in even worse positions.

Dangers Of Overpricing Your Home Dangers Of Overpricing Your Home Dangers Of Overpricing Your Home Dangers Of Overpricing Your Home

Here are just SOME of the Dangers of Overpricing Your Home:

  • You will lose the excitement that a new listing generates.
  • You will lose the most qualified prospects.
  • Overpricing helps sell other, more competitively priced properties first.
  • Your home may become stale on the market.
  • If you do get an offer, the contract may fall through because of appraisal problems.
  • You lose a strong negotiating position when your house is on the market for a long time, both financially and mentally.

(Click through if you would like a FREE estimate of your home’s value or if you would like a FREE Buyer Consult, just fill out our scheduling form here.)

Now you know why we tell the truth. It may not always be in OUR best interests. But it IS in our clients’ best interests. Our goal is to maximize the return for our Sellers, and minimize the time and inconvenience of having their home on the market. And the best way to do that is with the facts.

Telling the truth is not always easy. But it’s the right thing to do. Our clients depend on it!

(Click here for more info about The Belt Team’s MVVBP – Mission, Vision, Values, Beliefs & Perspective. This is our blue print for how we do business.)

HomeBuyer Question – Do I Need A Survey?

Here’s a question we often get asked by our Home Buyers:

“I’m already spending a LOT of money on my new home. Do I REALLY need to get a survey? My lender says they don’t require one. Is this is an area where I can save money by skipping it?”

We advise our Buyers to ALWAYS get a survey. Here’s why:

1. Without a survey, you have no idea whether there are encroachments, easements and other sorts of things that may matter to you (like flood plains or cemetery easements!). For example, on a contract we settled earlier this month, the survey showed that the fence on the property (and the hot tub!) was actually installed over the property line and in the common area of the townhouse community. So the backyard area was really not as big as it appeared to the buyer. AND if the buyer accepted it “as is”, the Homeowner’s Association could at some point require him to move it (at his expense!).

2. When you purchase title insurance, if you do not also purchase a survey, the insurance policy will not insure over these types of issues. Instead, there will be an exception to the policy for survey-related problems. So – if a problem arises later, you will not be covered. Don’t be confused by lender’s title insurance. Their policy (which only insures them – not you) may cover survey issues without a survey (or with the copy of an old survey) – but that is only because of the volume of business they do. Individual buyers are NOT covered without a survey.

Our motto – “better safe than sorry” – especially when it comes to your most precious financial investment – your home!

Contact The Belt Team at (703) 242-3975 if you have other questions about buying a home in Northern Virginia. We are happy to schedule a FREE consultation to walk you through the process!

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VA Loans, Short Sales, Military Buyers & Sellers – And Golf?!

Q. What do these things all have in common?

  • VA loans
  • Short Sales from a Buyer Agent’s Perspective
  • Military Buyers & Sellers
  • Golf (?!)

A. These are the topics of discussion tomorrow on Real Estate Radio Washington!

Tune in Saturday, October 20th from 10-11AM on 1260 AM WWRC to hear Belt Team Partners Mary Jane Perry, Jennifer Riddle & Krissy Cruse as they are interviewed by nationally recognized real estate & finance expert Jim McQuaig. (And if you can’t tune in, we’ll be posting the broadcast on our Belt Team You Tube channel.)

If you’re anticipating a military move into or out of the Washington D.C. area, you’ll definitely want to hear this show. Not only are these ladies experts in their fields, but Mary Jane Perry and Krissy Cruse both have active duty spouses and came to this area themselves on a military transfer. (Mary Jane is also retired United States Navy after 20 years of service.)

And if you’re a golfer – you will find out how you can play the normally “members only” course at Trump National Golf Club on Monday, October 22nd. Not only is this a spectacular course, but you can help raise money for two local charities : “Our Military Kids” and “Lift me up”. More details about the KW McLean Charity Golf Tournament can be found at www.KWMcLeanGolf.com.

Mistakes Home Buyers & Home Sellers Can Avoid!

Join Belt Team Partner Kevin Kleifges as guest real estate expert on Real Estate Radio Washington. Kevin has great advice for both Buyers & Sellers in today’s market and addresses the biggest mistakes he sees them making. Kevin also talks about the changes we have seen in 2012 to the Regional Contract in Northern Virginia and how this impacts today’s buyers.

FREE Home Buyer Reports & Buyer Tips

FREE Home Seller Reports & Buyer Tips

FREE Home Value Analysis

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Listen or watch more real estate videos on our Belt Team You Tube channel

Strategies for Buyers & Sellers In TODAY’S Northern Virginia Real Estate Market

The real estate market has shifted. Join Belt Team Realtors Catharine Via, Jennifer Riddle & Pauline Knipe on Real Estate Radio Washington as they give tips and strategies for home buyers and sellers in TODAY’s market. They discuss everything from multiple contracts to escalation clauses to pricing strategies and even what’s happening in the rental market!

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