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!

Selling Your Home During The Holidays – Good Idea or Bad?

Northern VA Home sales As Thanksgiving approaches, we often get the question, “Should I wait to go on the market until after the holidays?” or “My home is on the market now, should I take it off during the holidays?”. Well, the answer is “It depends“! Here are some things you might want to consider if you’re thinking of selling your home during the holidays (and you can start here with a FREE online estimate of what your home is worth.)

  • If your home is already on the market, it may be a good idea to stay on the market. Buyers who are looking at homes during the holidays are usually “Real Buyers” and not just “lookie-loos”. Beth Dadisman, Buyer Specialist for The Belt Team, says “I have multiple buyers who are VERY motivated to buy during this timeframe.” And Gail Belt, Founding Partner of The Belt Team says, “My experience is that Buyers who are out looking at property during the holidays tend to be serious buyers. There may not be as many people looking at your house, but the ones who come NEED to buy or they wouldn’’t be out looking at this time of year.” Beth added, “My husband and I have moved 3 times in January. So we were some of those serious buyers looking in December!”
  • During the holidays, many Sellers take their homes off the market. This means we often see inventory drop and therefore if you’re on the market, you may have less competition. Kevin Kleifges, Belt Team Listing Partner, says: “It depends on your situation. I’m advising most of my sellers to stay on the market. We can work with you to restrict showings on special days like Thanksgiving. But selling now before Spring competition picks up might be in your best interests.” Terry Belt, CEO of The Belt Team adds, “If you do go off the market now, consider coming back on immediately in the new year. In many areas, homes sell for more money in January-February than they do in the typical “Spring Market”  of March-April.
  • What is your true motivation? Do you truly want/need to sell? If you’re just “testing the market” (IE – if you are not realistically pricing your home to what TODAY’S Buyers are willing to pay), then now is NOT the time to go on the market. Your home will likely not sell, and then when Spring arrives – your home will be “stale on the market”. Tom Hanton, Realtor Partner with The Belt Team says “Prospective Buyers will wonder what’s wrong with your home and why it’s been on the market so long.” (This is true at any time of year. Overpricing stigmatizes your home and hurts your eventual bottom line significantly.)
  • Set your expectations properly.” says Kevin. “Plan accordingly and prepare yourself & your family to be ready to juggle preparation & showings with other seasonal activities. (And if you have little ones, maybe Santa’s upcoming visit will encourage them to keep their rooms clean!)”
  • Some Sellers really should wait until Spring. While most homes look better in the Spring when the trees fill out & flowers are in bloom, this is not usually a reason to wait for Spring. (That’s what everyone does and that just means more competition.) However, some homes are an exception to this rule. For example, Terry Belt shares, “We had a listing that backed to a cemetery. And while some people like that idea (quiet neighbors!), most people don’t like the reminder when they look out the window of their home. This is an item that can severely impact salability and price. In this case, we advised our Sellers to wait a few extra months and put their home on the market when trees were fully blossomed and the cemetery was not visible. You cannot get rid of extraneous factors like a cemetery, but you can mitigate their impact.”
  • If you do go on the market, don’t forget that Buyers looking at your home are trying to picture themselves & their families in your home. This is hard to do if your home is over-decorated with holiday knick knacks. “You may want to be a little more restrained than you normally would be when putting up your decorations” says Tom, “Too many decorations can also make your rooms look smaller than they really are. In addition, Winter is a dark time of year, so make sure you keep your home as light-filled as possible. Open the drapes, raise the blinds and turn on all your lights. The few extra pennies will be worth it!

If you need help working through what is the best time to put your home on the market, contact The Belt Team – or give Terry Belt or Kevin Kleifges or Tom Hanton a call at (703) 242-3975. Every situation is different and we would be happy to help you figure out what is best for YOU!

FREE online estimate of what your home is worth.Best Real Estate Agents in Northern VA

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 Twitter, 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!

Selling Your Home During The Holidays – Good Idea or Bad?

Northern VA Home sales As Thanksgiving approaches, we often get the question, “Should I wait to go on the market until after the holidays?” or “My home is on the market now, should I take it off during the holidays?”. Well, the answer is “It depends“! Here are some things you might want to consider if you’re thinking of selling your home during the holidays (and you can start here with a FREE online estimate of what your home is worth.)

  • If your home is already on the market, it may be a good idea to stay on the market. Buyers who are looking at homes during the holidays are usually “Real Buyers” and not just “lookie-loos”. Tom Reilly, Lead Buyer Specialist for The Belt Team, says “I have multiple buyers who are VERY motivated to buy during this timeframe, especially since interest rates are forecast to rise next year.” And Gail Belt, Founding Partner of The Belt Team says, “My experience is that Buyers who are out looking at property during the holidays tend to be serious buyers. There may not be as many people looking at your house, but the ones who come NEED to buy or they wouldn’’t be out looking at this time of year.” Beth Dadisman, The Belt Team’s Showing Partner added, “My husband and I have moved 3 times in January. So we were some of those serious buyers looking in December!”
  • During the holidays, many Sellers take their homes off the market. This means we often see inventory drop and therefore if you’re on the market, you may have less competition. Kevin Kleifges, Belt Team Listing Partner, says: “It depends on your situation. I’m advising most of my sellers to stay on the market. We can work with you to restrict showings on special days like Thanksgiving. But selling now before Spring competition picks up might be in your best interests.” Terry Belt, CEO of The Belt Team adds, “If you do go off the market now, consider coming back on immediately in the new year. In many areas, homes sell for more money in January-February than they do in the typical “Spring Market”  of March-April.
  • What is your true motivation? Do you truly want/need to sell? If you’re just “testing the market” (IE – if you are not realistically pricing your home to what TODAY’S Buyers are willing to pay), then now is NOT the time to go on the market. Your home will likely not sell, and then when Spring arrives – your home will be “stale on the market”. Tom Hanton, Realtor Partner with The Belt Team says “Prospective Buyers will wonder what’s wrong with your home and why it’s been on the market so long.” (This is true at any time of year. Overpricing stigmatizes your home and hurts your eventual bottom line significantly.)
  • Set your expectations properly.” says Kevin. “Plan accordingly and prepare yourself & your family to be ready to juggle preparation & showings with other seasonal activities. (And if you have little ones, maybe Santa’s upcoming visit will encourage them to keep their rooms clean!)”
  • Some Sellers really should wait until Spring. While most homes look better in the Spring when the trees fill out & flowers are in bloom, this is not usually a reason to wait for Spring. (That’s what everyone does and that just means more competition.) However, some homes are an exception to this rule. For example, Terry Belt shares, “We had a listing that backed to a cemetery. And while some people like that idea (quiet neighbors!), most people don’t like the reminder when they look out the window of their home. This is an item that can severely impact salability and price. In this case, we advised our Sellers to wait a few extra months and put their home on the market when trees were fully blossomed and the cemetery was not visible. You cannot get rid of extraneous factors like a cemetery, but you can mitigate their impact.”
  • If you do go on the market, don’t forget that Buyers looking at your home are trying to picture themselves & their families in your home. This is hard to do if your home is over-decorated with holiday knick knacks. “You may want to be a little more restrained than you normally would be when putting up your decorations” says Tom, “Too many decorations can also make your rooms look smaller than they really are. In addition, Winter is a dark time of year, so make sure you keep your home as light-filled as possible. Open the drapes, raise the blinds and turn on all your lights. The few extra pennies will be worth it!

If you need help working through what is the best time to put your home on the market, contact The Belt Team – or give Terry Belt or Kevin Kleifges or Tom Hanton a call at (703) 242-3975. Every situation is different and we would be happy to help you figure out what is best for YOU!

FREE online estimate of what your home is worth.2424Best Real Estate Agents in Northern VA

Keeping Your Home Safe During The Holidays

If you’re headed “over the river & through the woods to Grandmother’s house” for the holidays, here are 10 tips to keep your home safe while you’re gone!

(1) Be careful with your status updates on Twitter, 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 are 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, the best 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!

Selling Your Home During The Holidays – Good Idea or Bad?

Northern VA Home sales As Thanksgiving approaches, we often get the question, “Should I wait to go on the market until after the holidays?” or “My home is on the market now, should I take it off during the holidays?”. Well, the answer is “It depends“! Here are some things you might want to consider if you’re thinking of selling your home during the holidays (and you can start here with a FREE online estimate of what your home is worth.)

  • If your home is already on the market, it may be a good idea to stay on the market. Buyers who are looking at homes during the holidays are usually “Real Buyers” and not just “lookie-loos”. Tom Reilly, Lead Buyer Specialist for The Belt Team, says “I have multiple buyers who are VERY motivated to buy during this timeframe, especially since interest rates are forecast to rise next year.” And Gail Belt, Founding Partner of The Belt Team says, “My experience is that Buyers who are out looking at property during the holidays tend to be serious buyers. There may not be as many people looking at your house, but the ones who come NEED to buy or they wouldn’’t be out looking at this time of year.” Beth Dadisman, The Belt Team’s Showing Partner added, “My husband and I have moved 3 times in January. So we were some of those serious buyers looking in December!”
  • During the holidays, many Sellers take their homes off the market. This means we often see inventory drop and therefore if you’re on the market, you may have less competition. Kevin Kleifges, Belt Team Listing Partner, says: “It depends on your situation. I’m advising most of my sellers to stay on the market. We can work with you to restrict showings on special days like Thanksgiving. But selling now before Spring competition picks up might be in your best interests.” Terry Belt, CEO of The Belt Team adds, “If you do go off the market now, consider coming back on immediately in the new year. In many areas, homes sell for more money in January-February than they do in the typical “Spring Market”  of March-April.
  • What is your true motivation? Do you truly want/need to sell? If you’re just “testing the market” (IE – if you are not realistically pricing your home to what TODAY’S Buyers are willing to pay), then now is NOT the time to go on the market. Your home will likely not sell, and then when Spring arrives – your home will be “stale on the market”. Tom Hanton, Realtor Partner with The Belt Team says “Prospective Buyers will wonder what’s wrong with your home and why it’s been on the market so long.” (This is true at any time of year. Overpricing stigmatizes your home and hurts your eventual bottom line significantly.)
  • Set your expectations properly.” says Martin Bristow, Belt Team Realtor.Plan accordingly and prepare yourself & your family to be ready to juggle preparation & showings with other seasonal activities. (And if you have little ones, maybe Santa’s upcoming visit will encourage them to keep their rooms clean!)”
  • Some Sellers really should wait until Spring. While most homes look better in the Spring when the trees fill out & flowers are in bloom, this is not usually a reason to wait for Spring. (That’s what everyone does and that just means more competition.) However, some homes are an exception to this rule. For example, Terry Belt shares, “We had a listing that backed to a cemetery. And while some people like that idea (quiet neighbors!), most people don’t like the reminder when they look out the window of their home. This is an item that can severely impact salability and price. In this case, we advised our Sellers to wait a few extra months and put their home on the market when trees were fully blossomed and the cemetery was not visible. You cannot get rid of extraneous factors like a cemetery, but you can mitigate their impact.”
  • If you do go on the market, don’t forget that Buyers looking at your home are trying to picture themselves & their families in your home. This is hard to do if your home is over-decorated with holiday knick knacks. “You may want to be a little more restrained than you normally would be when putting up your decorations” says Terry, “Too many decorations can also make your rooms look smaller than they really are. In addition, Winter is a dark time of year, so make sure you keep your home as light-filled as possible. Open the drapes, raise the blinds and turn on all your lights. The few extra pennies will be worth it!

If you need help working through what is the best time to put your home on the market, contact The Belt Team – or give Terry Belt or Kevin Kleifges a call at (703) 242-3975. Every situation is different and we would be happy to help you figure out what is best for YOU! Best Real Estate Agents in Northern VA

When Selling Your Home, Do You Need to Stage It?

We are often asked whether or not a home needs to be “staged” when selling. And the answers is “It depends”.

There are different degrees of staging and your Realtor can help you decide which one works best for you.

1. CLEAN & SIMPLE

The most simple staging involves you preparing your home for market by cleaning & streamlining your house to look as appealing as possible. Your Realtor can do a walkthrough with you and give suggestions. This could include quick fixes like cleaning out your closets so they are only 1/3 full (so buyers feel like there is plenty of storage), clearing your kitchen counters (so buyers envision ample counter space) or hanging baskets of flowers on your front porch (for a friendly, welcome pop of color). There is no additional cost for this option.

2. STAGING CONSULT

The next level up might include a consultation with a professional stager. In Northern Virginia, this could cost in the $300+ range – depending on how much time the stager spends with you. The stager meets with you in your home, walks through with you and provides you with tips to implement to make your home more appealing. The stager might suggest things like removing certain pieces of furniture, rearranging others, removing draperies or regrouping wall hangings – to increase appeal, draw buyers’ eyes away from (or toward) certain features of your home and to help them envision how they would live there.

3. PARTIAL & FULL STAGING

Full staging is often used for new and/or vacant homes. The staging company will furnish some or all of your rooms. It’s a lot easier for Buyers to picture themselves in a home when the stager paints the picture for them. Partial staging is also an option and the stager can help you with storing some of your furniture, bringing in better pieces and developing a cohesive and attractive color scheme that appeals. As an example, you may have a HUGE dining room table – which is great for having the whole family for holiday meals. But if it overwhelms your dining room, potential Buyers may rule your home out because the dining room feels small. A stager can store your table and bring in one of her own that is more conducive to the room size.

Here’s an example of what happens when you stage and your competition does not!

Recently, we put a condo on the market. There were a number of other units in the same condominium for sale. None of the others were staged. And they had been on the market for a while.

When we listed our unit, we provided a staging consultation to our Sellers and at our recommendation the Seller went with Option 3. The cost for staging was $1,450.

Here’s what it looked like:

3000 Spout Run Parkway #A504 Arlington VA

When our unit came on the market, the others all reduced their prices.So – what happened? Was it worth it?

Absolutely! Within one weekend, our Seller’s unit was under contract. What about the others? Well – weeks later they are still for sale. And we know that per NAR stats, the longer a home is on the market, the less it will sell for.

Contact Terry Belt & The Belt Team at (703) 242-3975 if you are thinking of selling. We are happy to provide you with our FREE REPORT “90 Tips To Prepare Your Home For Market” .