Alexandria, VA Real Estate News & Market Trends

You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to community happenings. That’s because we care about the community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!

By the way, we proofread but occasionally we make mistakes.  If you find one, please let us know and we'll be sure to correct it!  

Aug. 8, 2019

Ten Tips for Buying a Home to Flip

Ten Tips for Buying a Home to Flip

Though not foolproof, these tips will help you evaluate the potential of a home you plan to 'flip':

1. Look at the locks. Schlage and Baldwin are the “gold standards,” said Ditto, while a Home Depot or Quickset lock may indicate a renovator who wasn’t willing to spend the extra money.

2. The quality of appliances vary greatly. Write down the serial numbers and see what the developer paid for the appliances.

3. Take note of the bathroom fixtures, and do some research on the price and quality. Kohler is widely used and respected, and a rain shower often costs significantly more than a typical shower head. Again, a mid-range product doesn’t necessarily mean that the house is not well done, but a high-range product shows that the developer was willing to invest more.

4. The quality of plumbing fixtures can be determined by weight; the heavier the fixture, the more metal used, which generally translates to a more expensive product. You may not be able to pick up mounted fixtures, but holding a handle may give a sense of the weight.

5. Doors also fall into the “the heavier, the better” category. Swing the interior doors to determine their weight; solid core doors are heavier than hollow core, and are more expensive.

6. Cabinets and kitchen drawers also vary. One trick is to look at the drawers to see if they are dovetailed. Dovetailed woodwork indicates a higher quality, though a lack of dovetailing doesn’t necessarily indicate a poor job. Here are a few ways to check out the cabinets.

7. Perhaps the biggest worry when buying a renovated home is whether the developer has covered up large problems — mold, cracks in the foundation, a bad electrical system — with drywall or quick fixes. Look for water damage, which may indicate mold, or bring a trusted inspector or experienced real estate agent with you.

8. To that end, get your hands on the inspection report if you can.

9. An A/C system can be a good indicator of how much the developer cares. The difference between the cheaper systems and the nicer ones, like Trane and Carrier, can be just a few hundred dollars and is sometimes determined by the installer; seeing a Trane or Carrier means that you have a developer who insisted on a better system.

10. Finally, a good developer is usually willing to put their name on the product. If you have a hard time finding out who is responsible for developing or renovating the home, you have a right to be suspicious. Don’t be afraid to ask for references of past work, and call the current owners to find out if they are happy in the home.

 

Nov. 2, 2018

The Home Inspection - A Test Drive with Higher Stakes

The Home Inspection

A Test Drive with Higher Stakes

A standard checklist item of today’s home purchase, the home inspection is an opportunity to explore the ins-and-outs of a listing for sale. 

A certified home inspector, hired by the potential buyer, will closely assess the condition of a home for sale and provide a detailed report of their findings.  Ideally, no major issues exist in the home and the buyer gains confidence to proceed with their purchase. 

What to Expect 

From the roof to the foundation, your inspector will thoroughly take note (and photographs) of the home’s physical structure, test its mechanical and electrical systems and the functionality of major appliances, even wriggle their way into the attic and crawl spaces.  Smart buyers (and their Realtors) will attend the home inspection, likely two to three hours in length, to learn more about the home. If you do tag along, inspectors will likely explain what he sees and field questions.  Feel free to ask away but remember not to interfere with the inspection.

Read the entire article at Alexandria Living Magazine. 

 

Oct. 18, 2018

Alexandria parents share their favorite Halloween hangouts

Festive family fun for trick-or-treaters of all ages 

We asked ten Alexandria parents for the inside scoop on the sweetest spots for trick-or-treating.  While our survey didn’t poll enough folks to return a determined favorite, you'll find the advice and experiences of these Alexandria Halloween veterans - who’ve been around the block a time or two (or twenty) - helpful in choosing which location you'll make a family favorite.  

Lee Street


“Born on Oct 31 and raised in Old Town, few times of the year are as special for me than Halloween, especially trick or treating with my family along festive Lee Street, which is decked out for the night unlike any place in America,” Alexandria native, John McCaslin shared.  

The most popular response we received was to 
venture East toward the water’s edge to Lee Street.  You'll find stringy spider webs strung on wrought-iron fences, courtyards turned graveyards and larger than life spiders, ready to lurch on their next prey.  South Lee Street traffic will be temporarily prohibited and the ghouls and goblins can roam freely to forage as much candy as their parents allow.  Superbly fun for all ages, the majority of escorting parents and candy givers will be in costume, with many families making a themed group appearance.  You may even happen upon an adult-only party or two, where an of-age passerby could be offered an invitation inside or gifted a walkalong libation. 


Davis Avenue 


No less exciting is exploring Davis Avenue where you’ll find a more suburban experience in the neighborhood of North Ridge.  Jerry Slominski, having lived on the corner of Davis and Crestwood for decades, says, “Trick-or-treaters are lured to Davis Ave by ghosts and graveyards, skeletons and spiders, strobe lights and scary music.  The occasional smoke machine clouds some yards and a motorcycle-riding Frankenstein guards the northern entrance.”  


Davis Avenue has little traffic and the houses are close together resulting in an efficient round up of large bags of treats by the end of the evening.  Mr. Slominski fondly remembers many Halloweens happening a little something like this, “The fun starts promptly at 6pm with the preschool aged children.  Barely old enough to say trick or treat, they are stunned when they receive pieces of candy simply by asking. While the toddlers tend to have the cutest costumes, their watchful parents also seem the most into dressing up for the occasion. By 6:30, the street is buzzing with bumblebees, prancing princesses, menacing grim reapers and the occasional wizardry of Harry Potter.  Later, the pre-teens begin showing up, usually in groups of three to four and without parents.  Their costumes appear worn, and the treating more transactional but no less fun. By 8pm, most house lights are out and the street tucks in for the evening.”


Old Town Boutique District: Trick or Treating at the Boo-Tiques 


You may want to skip the scary shenanigans with little ones under two or three.  This daytime event on October 27, features the “Boo-Tiques” of Old Town Boutique District.  From 10am to 5pm, you can trick-or-treat at these participating locations.  No one will judge if you shop for a treat or two of your own. 

Del Ray 



A neighborhood tradition, the annual Del Ray Halloween Parade is a full day of Halloween fun. On Sunday, Oct 28 at 2pm, Mount Vernon Ave will be lined with spectators waiting to watch the mishmash of costumed paraders who will march from E. Bellefonte Ave to the Mount Vernon Recreation Center.  Last year's march was packed with over 7,500 participants, more than a third were children.  The parade ends with a celebration at the rec center featuring live music, goodie bags, refreshments and kid-friendly activities.  The ‘best of’ awards will be announced in a variety of categories from four-wheeled strollers to four-legged pets.  

 

Oct. 5, 2018

Local Organizations Team Up to Support Underserved Alexandria Youth

RunningBrooke and the LizLuke Team are taking steps together to champion student success through movement and wellness in the classroom

ALEXANDRIA, VA, October 5, 2018 — RunningBrooke, advocate for Alexandria City’s underserved youth, whose mission is to get more minds moving through fitness-infused classrooms and schools, after-school programs and community playgrounds, teams up with the LizLuke Team, a veteran real estate group serving Alexandria buyers and sellers for over a decade, for Taking Steps Together on Sunday, October 21, 2018.  

The free family-friendly fun begins at 2pm at Oronoco Bay Park and features live music by Noise in the Basement, delicious BBQ and all the fixins catered by Pork Barrel, Port City brews, and activities for kids of all ages.  Register ahead of time (takingstepstogether.eventbrite.com) and bring your picnic blanket for an enjoyable afternoon in the warm fall sun.  Guest speakers and honorary RunningBrooke chairpersons, Congressman Don Beyer, and his wife Megan Beyer, will be in attendance, as well as Mayor of Alexandria, Allison Silberberg. 

Celebrations in order at Taking Steps Together are two-fold.  The focus is the steps RunningBrooke, propelled by year-after-year contributions from the LizLuke Team and a number of other generous partners, have taken together to build a happier, healthier community.  Also worth honoring is the upcoming milestone marathon of Brooke Sydnor Curran, founder and front woman for RunningBrooke, who experienced a near fatal brain aneurysm earlier this year.  

Sydnor Curran will run the Marine Corps Marathon on Oct 28 in Arlington, VA. “I’ve never felt stronger, or more determined, to serve and ignite change for kids in our community,” says Sydnor Curran.  Dubbed “The People’s Marathon,” this 26-miler was Sydnor Curran’s debut marathon 14 years ago and her first return to organized running since her aneurysm last spring.   

Champion sponsor of Taking Steps Together, Elizabeth Lucchesi, leading lady of the LizLuke Team, holds RunningBrooke close to her heart.  Lucchesi and Sydnor Curran have been friends for years and worked together selflessly to promote wellness in the classroom and the community.  Lucchesi was named Volunteer Alexandria’s 2017 Small Business Philanthropist of the Year and shares, “When you volunteer in your community, most often it’s done out of love, a sense of pride for where you live and because you believe in the work of the organizations you support.” 

For over a decade RunningBrooke and LizLuke Team have served Alexandria.  RunningBrooke has invested nearly $1.5 million into schools and nonprofit partners.  During this time Sydnor Curran has run 116 marathons to highlight steps the community can take together to build a better Alexandria.  LizLuke Team has helped 1,500 home buyers and sellers, including many families, some of whom now call Elizabeth and her team friends.  Each year, a portion of LizLuke Team profits are contributed to nonprofit partners.

Contributions made in support of Taking Steps Together celebration will benefit 20 underserved classrooms across the city, bringing brain-boosting activities, equipment, and high-performance learning to students!  Among our most appreciated supporters are local wellness studios Core Wellness and Mind the Mat.  

If you’re interested in teaming up with RunningBrooke to promote the success of Alexandria students, please consider a tax-deductible partnership option. Visit runningbrooke.org or contact Brooke Sydnor Curran at brooke@runningbrooke.org.  

Posted in Community
Oct. 2, 2018

Metro Area Market Insights

The real estate market is always changing, and if you’re buying or selling a home, it’s critical to understand the current market conditions. Click on the image below to see what’s happening to real estate in your neighborhood. 

Need insights on what’s taking place in the high-end market? Visit our Luxury Insight page now!  

 

CLICK TO BE REDIRECTED TO ALEXANDRIA CITY'S NEIGHBORHOOD FEATURE. 

ADDITIONAL NEIGHBORHOOD INSIGHTS AVAILABLE ON THE RIGHT SIDEBAR.  

 

 

 

 

 

Sept. 21, 2018

House Hunt Like a Pro

How to Overcome Common Home Buying Challenges

Today’s homebuyers are facing increasing mortgage rates, rising sales prices and low inventory in many markets.  Not to mention, recent tax policy changes.  

How does a buyer tackle such obstacles? Take a page from our playbook below to better prepare and navigate your home buying experience.  

Get perspective

Relatively speaking, "The fours are not a terrible place to be," said Skylar Olsen, director of economic research at Zillow.  Average 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages reached 4.45 percent, a record high since 2014, last month.  However, this number is still historically low.

What do nominal rate increases cost the homebuyer after all?  

The latest Long & Foster Real Estate data reported a median home sales price of $470,000 in August, 2018.  Home buyers securing a 30-year loan at the current rate of 4.5 percent, with no down payment, would pay $337,312 in interest over the life of the loan.  At 5 percent, interest costs rise to $438,302 - about a $100,000 difference in total, but only a $142 increase in your monthly payment.  

While those numbers seem hefty, pre-recession home buyers faced interest rates of 6.5 percent in the summer of 2007.

The golden rule

Don't buy more house than you can afford.  Think of your future purchase as a place you’ll call home, not an investment.  Put your affordability in bounds by reviewing your latest credit report and obtaining pre-approval from a lender. 

Work with a professional Realtor

This is no market for the faint of heart.  Homebuyers should prepare to face a tight inventory and competitive offers from other buyers.  Teaming up with an experienced real estate professional who has likely been to the negotiating table more times than you is a smart move.  Realtors assist buyers to craft better deals with tactics like offering a bigger down payment, more earnest money or a shorter closing time.  They’ll also walk you through an escalation clause.  In such a clause, a buyer agrees to pay x price for a home, but if the seller receives an offer higher than x, the buyer is willing to increase their offer to y.  

What about taxes? 

Tax laws are not as generous as they once were.  Previously capped at $1 million, homeowners can now deduct interest paid on only the first $750,000 of a loan for their first or second home purchase. 

The unlimited federal deduction for state and local income and sales tax has also been reduced.  Taxpayers may deduct up to $10,000 in combined property, state, and local income taxes, often affecting those in areas with heavy tax burdens the most.

Stay focused

Whether you buy now or later, stay the course for eventual homeownership. Vice President of Communications of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, Bruce McClary, reminds buyers, "There is an investment value in homeownership but time is a big factor. It's slow and steady because there are peaks and valleys. It can be a roller coaster at times.”

Novice and veteran home buyers alike may find it tricky to navigate the current market.  The LizLuke Team provides clients with excellent guidance, backed by exceptional expertise, in order to make sound real estate decisions.  Call, text or email The LizLuke Team today - we’ll be by your side every step of the way.  

Sept. 6, 2018

Macro, micro and the real estate market

Alexandria, VA - A web of interdependent macro and micro economic factors influence the real estate industry and are key considerations in evaluating the nation’s financial health.  Microeconomics examines small scale consumer behaviors (e.g., supply and demand) collectively influencing more complex macroeconomic issues like Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and interest rates.  

Ideally, macro and micro strike a balance.  Theory assumes certain factors will remain constant; therefore solving for ‘x’ is possible.  In reality, these factors are in constant flux and macroeconomic policy is particularly difficult to manage.  Policy complications aside, and stated obviously, an informed decision based on probability typically results in a better outcome than one made in haste.

The following economic metrics impact real estate and offer important insights for home buyers and sellers.  Couple this data with the support and resources of an experienced Realtor and gain the advantage in an increasingly competitive market.

Mortgage interest. Yes, rates are edging up and many industry experts predict additional increases, averaging around 5 percent, in the near future.  Home buyers shouldn’t agonize over nominal increases just yet - five percent is historically low and doesn’t result in much higher month-to-month mortgage payments.

Why it matters: Increased borrowing costs, combined with current low inventory and rising home prices, forfeit buyers’ purchasing power.  Finding the right home can be taxing and buyers often face competition when submitting an offer. 

Builder confidence. “Builders continue to report strong demand for new housing, fueled by steady job and income growth along with rising household formations,”  said Randy Noel, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders.  NAHB conducts a monthly survey to derive the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index from a number of data points.  Builder confidence was last reported at 67 percent (50 percent is the lower limit for growth).

Why it matters: Current demand is encouraging home builders to negate a percentage of low inventory with a supply of new construction homes.   However, the construction industry is facing rising costs that will inevitably reach the consumer and potentially affect housing affordability.  

GDP. The U.S. is realizing its strongest GDP growth in years and expected to close out 2018 at 3 percent.  

Why it matters: A combination of record low unemployment, increasing incomes and strong consumer spending behavior is fueling expansion.

Consumer confidence. Sentiment rose slightly in July, showing fairly strong optimism.

Why it matters: Confident consumers, experiencing job security and increasing incomes, are more likely to make real estate investments.  Although the National Association of Realtors’ affordability index has declined to 134.8 since January, the average family income can afford an average-priced home – for now.  Low-supply, high-demand environments may cause buyers in more expensive areas to be priced out if current trends continue.

Novice and veteran home buyers and sellers alike may find it tricky to navigate the current economic waters. The LizLuke Team will work with you to better understand these hefty topics - providing clients with excellent guidance, backed by exceptional expertise, in order to make sound real estate decisions.  Call, text or email The LizLuke Team today - we’ll be by your side every step of the way.  

Aug. 17, 2018

Mmmhhmmm is for Mia's Italian Kitchen

An Old Town must - Mia's Italian Kitchen

A block from the waterfront on King St, Mia’s Italian Kitchen offers casual dining, attentive service and delicious eats - all for a bill that won't break the bank.

Start simple and keep your diet inshape with Mia’s baby arugula salad - shaved fennel and orange slices,lightly dressed with lemon and extra virgin olive oil, and topped with parmesan. Dining with friends?  Choose a charcuterie or cheese board to share.

Hearty main options include heaping portions of house made al dente pasta and specialties like porchetta - a roasted stuffed pork belly with fennel, creamy polenta and garlic escarole - mmmmhhhhmmm.  Personally sized brick oven pizza and sandwiches are perfect lunch choices. 

Save room to indulge in dessert.  The tiramisu is to die for - light lady finger layers with creamy mascarpone.  Yes, please!  

Mia’s is debuting in its first Alexandria Summer Restaurant Week, beginning today until Aug August 26.  Over 60 local eateries feature prix-fixe dinner menus for $35.  About half of those restaurants will also offer lunch options, and a quarter will offer brunch.  Browse participating restaurants and menus here. 

 

 

 

Posted in Community
Aug. 13, 2018

Experienced Realtors are an invaluable asset to real estate success

 

In Real Estate, Odds Are Best When There's An Expert in Your Corner

Expert Realtors are an invaluable asset to real estate success.

Real estate transactions can be hefty emotional and financial decisions.  Novice and veteran buyers and sellers alike will immeasurably benefit from the advice and resources of an experienced Realtor.  

Partner up with a pro that you trust is the key to choosing the right Realtor.  Begin by asking close friends and family for recommendations.  The foundation of real estate and related industries is built on relationships.  Successful real estate agents have clients that return year after year.  Die hard fans like this aren’t a dime a dozen - they’re cultivated by exceptional Realtors who build confidence with clients by listening closely to their needs and supporting the achievement of their goals - both immediate and long-term.  

Realtors often come as a package deal and are part of a team including buyer and seller agents and administrative and marketing staff.  Clients benefit from this additional manpower, receiving seamless transaction management from the initial meeting and continuing until long after settlement.  Also players on a Realtor’s team are an extended network of business associates (lending firms, attorneys, etc.) and supplementary services (home inspectors, handymen, etc.) that assist in the smooth navigation of transactions. 

Paperwork involved in the purchase or sale of a home is plenty; auxiliary staff ensure deadlines and contract requirements are met.  Team agents have access to regular continuing education courses in order to stay current with industry regulations, making certain clients are in compliance with the latest requirements.  Regular training also means these Realtors are likely to have timely and reliable market insight.  This data puts buyers on the ‘first to know’ list of active properties and supports accurate pricing strategies for sellers. 

Expert Realtors are tough negotiators, too.  They will go to bat for a client’s best interests, deter potential red flags, whittle down sales prices when possible and insist that the parties on the other side of a transaction are up to par.  

Wherever you are on your real estate journey, an experienced Realtor is an invaluable asset to the victories you hope to achieve.  Not sure where or how to begin?  Call, text or email The LizLuke Team today - we’ll be by your side every step of the way.  

July 31, 2018

To Buy or Not to Buy?

Is home ownership right for you right now?

Signing the dotted line of your first home loan is a big deal - likely one of the most intense financial decisions you make in life.  

While mild apprehension about the mortgage process is common and expected, an overly cautious attitude can prevent qualified home buyers from capitalizing on a tried and true investment - real estate.  

Present economic factors complicate purchase decisions for would-be buyers.  Record high incomes are filling the bank accounts of many Americans - especially the latter fifth of millennials approaching Generation X birth years, and the former fifth of Gen Xers born before 1978.  Lurking around the corner, however, are nominal interest rate and home sale price increases. 

Recent developments, including the ingenuity of lenders to adapt loan criteria in order to combat common mortgagee challenges, may encourage your decision.  Read more about these industry changes here.  It’s critical to consider the intent of your investment and your time horizon.  Determine an action plan by asking yourself a simple strategic question.  Are you willing to stay put in a home in order to realize long-term capital appreciation?  

On average, experts agree real estate gains are realized in five to seven years.  Investment tycoon Warren Buffett advises, “Only buy something that you’d be perfectly happy to hold if the market shut down for 10 years.”  Sahil Gupta, co-founder of Patch Homes, a home equity finance company in San Francisco, told U.S. News & World Report, “ ‘In general, if you're buying for the long term, then market cycles matter less.’ ”

Many millennials (and the outlying Gen Xers) are making the leap. Recent data from the National Association of Realtors report over a third of home buyers are 36 and younger – comprising the largest share of all home buyers.

The bottom line?  Don’t let mortgage misconceptions hold you back from homeownership or real estate investing. Take heed to the caution of self-made millionaire David Bach, “ ‘the single biggest mistake millennials are making’ ” is not making home ownership a priority.  Bach insists buying a home is “ ‘an escalator to wealth.’ ”

Ready to develop your real estate strategy? Call us today.  We are an experienced team, connected to professional industry resources, who will guide you every step of the way.