Most Herndon small businesspeople will recognize this post-startup scenario. It’s the moment when the whole idea of long-range planning first starts to make sense.
Although everyone who stakes his or her claim in a new business hopes for success, in the beginning, that outcome is far from certain. Throughout the early going, the first order of business has been simple survival—and that’s been a full-time job. You work your tail off 25 hours a day, tackle all the expected (and unexpected) challenges, and if the best happens, see the bottom line begin to brighten. And then, the reality dawns: your brainchild actually has a future—and it might just be a really bright one!
Last week, Forbes published a piece of business real estate advice for anyone in that happy position. It urges paying attention to one strategic area that can prove to be a “stealth benefit”—one significant enough to make the struggle that much more worthwhile.
In brief, Forbes recommends that as soon as you determine that your business has a future, it’s time to focus on establishing its permanent quarters. That means seizing control over your Herndon business’s real estate future. There are two directions:
Long range business real estate planning may seem like a pie-in-the-sky abstraction when you first start out—but soon enough, its impact on your bottom line can become real enough. I’m here to help you make the most of the Herndon real estate opportunities that are out there!
Some key preparations for the marketing of any Herndon home actually start well before the first showing or open house: they take place in the hours before the Herndon listing photos are taken. Those Herndon listing photos will become the definitive beauty shots—the equivalent of the glamorous depictions that grace product packaging.
Manufacturers know very well the import of how their product looks on the carton, jar or bag. It’s why top commercial photographers rely on “product stylists” (they’re the experts who sort through 100 bags of potato chips to come up with the two or three that will photograph perfectly).
Herndon listing photos no longer have anything to do with 20th-century cameras or film. But it’s not just the move to digital that’s responsible for creating a higher quality Herndon listing photos. To guarantee you maximize the quality of your own Herndon home’s listing photos, it remains a team effort...and you’re on the team. Four elements are called for:
Starting out with dynamic listing photos is important—as are the many steps to follow. When it’s your time to list, I hope you’ll allow me to demonstrate the personal care that makes selling your Herndon home a low-stress experience!
Ask a typical Herndon consumer to name the two most important purchases people make, and you’ll almost always hear “new house” and “new car.” They’re often lumped together, but they shouldn’t be. They aren’t all that similar.
The rationale for buying a new car is clear: automotive technology advances nearly every model year, improving fuel economy and safety. Add in that intoxicating new car smell, and the preference is all but automatic. Used cars may be economical, but as for the thrill factor: nyah!
Similarly, when the question is put to a cross-section of typical Americans, new homes get the nod over existing ones. The percentage of those who “strongly” or “somewhat” prefer buying a newly built home weighs in at 41%. That’s a 2-to-1 margin over those who say they favor existing homes.
With such pronounced popularity, you might think it means that Herndon new homes should sell twice as rapidly as those previously owned—but that’s not the case. It isn’t just that there’s no
intoxicating new house smell. It’s all about the cost factor.
The preference numbers come from the latest survey run by Trulia, which also reported the major reasons given. “Modern features” were cited, along with the “ability to customize the home.” The first reason is perhaps more sensible than the second since the survey’s definition of “new home” included newly-built homes that were fully completed. An existing property can usually be customized (remodeled) as readily as a finished new home.
In any case, the popular leaning toward new homes is tempered in practice when it comes to dollars and cents. Among those who strongly prefer a new home, only 46% are willing to pay for the privilege when it comes to actually writing the check. Since the national average is for new homes to be priced at a 20% premium over existing properties with similar features, that original “strong” preference often takes a backseat to a slightly stronger one—working within the family budget.
Fortunately for those who do become Herndon new home owners, the long-term outcome differs from what new car buyers experience. Whereas the joy of driving a new model automobile off the dealer’s lot is tempered by an instantaneous drop in its resale value, nothing similar happens when you take ownership of a new Herndon home. The steady rise in housing values over the past five years is pretty solid evidence of that!
Some terrific Herndon new and existing homes are out there awaiting new owners. Give me a call whenever you’d like to take a look!
Week 4 is coming to a close and there has been significant progress, although sometimes it doesn't look like it. The contractors were working hard behind the scenes on tile work, electrical and plumbing. We found a few challenges along the way.
There is a leak in lower level laundry room that is causing moisture. We had a contractor come to take a look and we have to tear up the concrete and put in some drains. That is $5k we were not expecting, but we do want to make sure all the work is done correctly.
A few other things we figured out this week, 1) Paint makes a HUGE difference. We painted the exterior of the home including the brick. The picture I have here is not the most updated one but it does show the brick painted. 2) You cannot just change out light/outlet faceplates when doing a renovation, especially if the house was built in the 70's. The light switches and electrical outlets themselves are cream/brown colored so now we need to change out ALL light switches and outlets including the covers. 3) Don't assume your contractor knows what you want. :) 4) New garage doors that actually go up and down are a true blessing. 5) New windows cost upwards of $800 a window. WOW! 6) Always check the countertops and vanity bases for cracks and damage before you install them. Even if you already returned them to the store and got a brand new one.
I am sure there is more but I will leave that for the next update. We expect the house to be done in 4 weeks and on the market right after! If you know of anyone looking for a home in Herndon under $515k, have them contact me at 202-409-7513. :)
Today is the official last day of Herndon’s 2017 summer, but for most of us, the season has been feeling a lot more like fall ever since Labor Day. It isn’t the weather so much as the psychological factor. Things like the passing of that last summertime three-day weekend and watching Herndon’s seasonal businesses post hour change signs. As the school busses appear every morning, you also don’t have to have kids in school to register what all the activity signals: Herndon’s summer is over.
Pinterest, the internet’s foremost collecting place for everyone’s pictures of everything has scores of pages of photos and drawings with Last Days of Summer themes. Some of them do extract a sigh or two. It may have been decades since you last experienced a cookout with friends as the summer sun sets, or watched a little one discovering that the cold tidewater will get your toes if you don’t back away in time—but the thought that the chance to revisit such moments has slipped away till next year is a sigh-producer for most.
The Pinterest collections had lots of swimming pool and beach pictures (including many dogs-in-swimming-pools, for some reason), as well as barbecue grills and drinks with limes in them. They did a good job of making you wish Herndon’s summer could last just a little bit longer...
On the bright side, since they were also heavy with ice cream and popsicle imagery, it prompted the realization that some Herndon summer attractions won’t be disappearing at all! There’s no law that says Herndon’s autumn won’t include an ice cream cone or two. Besides, it’s a fact that the summertime pastime of racing to get to the bottom of the cone before it melts all over the place is easier to win as the weather gets colder. Another plus is how, before long, autumnal treats like pumpkin-flavored ice cream are going to show up again.
Today being Herndon’s official Last Day of Summer, those whose favorite season arrives with the fall needn't wait much longer. It will be many months before fall fanciers will have to resort to Pinterest to relive the Last Days of Autumn collections. They will undoubtedly find lots of pictures of high school football games, trees ablaze with orange-gold color, turkeys—but let’s not jump the gun; all that is yet to come!
In the meantime, season in and season out, call me whenever Herndon real estate matters need to be attended to!
A couple of weeks back, the ultimate authority on Herndon mortgage rates hadn’t minced words. That was Freddie Mac, whose opinion about mortgage rates constitutes the final say in the matter. Freddie isn’t modest about its preeminence (Freddie’s trademarked corporate slogan is “We make home possible”). Together with sibling Fannie Mae, the quasi-governmental entities stand behind 60% of U.S. mortgages.
Each week their PMMS survey collects data snapshots from thrifts, credit unions, banks, and mortgage lenders to gauge of the direction of the home loan market. Future Herndon home hunters and the homeowners whose properties are found in the current listings (or soon will be) are constantly affected by those ups and downs. For one thing, they dictate the “monthly payment” calculations you find in the detailed breakdown featured on most online listings—including those on my site.
Naturally, the rate averages vary from lender to lender and state to state—but it’s the direction in which mortgage rates are headed that can be a spur for buyers. Either direction can cause activity. When rates rise quickly, buyers can be incented to lock in rates before they get out of hand. When they fall, that inducement disappears—although a shrinking monthly payment number does create an increasingly affordable scenario. Low rates create an encouraging “price is up, but cost is down” situation.
The week before last, Freddie’s headline had been an unequivocal piece of favorable news for Herndon buyers and sellers:
“30-Year Mortgage Rate Hits Another 2017 Low.”
But last week’s follow-up failed to live up to what was expected (a slight rebound). Freddie’s headline on Thursday was neither fish nor fowl, up nor down. It was the third possibility, where mortgage rates don’t go anywhere: they just sit there, deadpan as a professional poker player, revealing nothing:
“Mortgage Rates Hold at 2017 Low.”
The U.S. weekly average was still 3.78%, tying the low for the year. For Herndon buyers who may have missed out on locking in the previous week’s home loan bargain rates, the reprieve was welcome news. Whether the expected rebound was on the way remained to be seen.
Current Herndon mortgage rates are key when it comes to buying and selling area homes—and with rates holding at historic lows, it creates an undeniably auspicious market opportunity. Call me!
When news of the Equifax hack first broke, the credit ratings giant scrambled to minimize fallout from this massive personal information breach. After an initial embarrassing misstep (they tried to have affected consumers sign off on Equifax’s liability), the company moved to ameliorate the hack by offering free ID protection to consumers.
Herndon homeowners and potential home buyers had reason to do more than shake their heads at yet another electronic pratfall. In one way or another, most Herndon real estate transactions involve creditworthiness appraisals that are managed by the three credit reporting agencies (Equifax is one). That means that among the 143 million consumers it admits could be “potentially impacted” are certainly a lot of current and future Herndon home buyers. The stolen information includes names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses—and for hundreds of thousands, credit card numbers. Even some Virginia driver license data figured in the Equifax hack.
Given the obvious potential for identity theft, the company’s Chairman went online to make an unprecedented offer: his firm will furnish a comprehensive package of credit file monitoring and identity theft protection to everyone. Literally.
To every consumer in the United States. For a year. For free.
With few exceptions, it was left to us to take the initiative to take them up on the offer. That factor might shrink the size of the undertaking, but even so, delivering on this scale was unlikely to be accomplished without a few hitches.
Hitch #1: when this many millions of people try to check in on any site, no system can handle it all at once. So contacting this Equifax Trusted ID Premier link results in varying lengths of delay before enrollment can be confirmed.
Hitch #2: because it is now obvious that sophisticated thieves are active in the credit reporting industry, it will be doubly necessary for Equifax to make certain that you are who you say you are. That makes multiple email confirmation back-and-forths unavoidable.
It’s a cinch that Herndon residents who decide to sign up for the free protection should also be extra vigilant in monitoring their financial transactions. An additional step is also possible: you can contact any one of the three credit agencies (Equifax, TransUnion, or Experian) to request that they place a 90-day “fraud alert” on your file. It’s free, and whichever agency you contact is required to notify the other two. Fraud alerts obligate any lender to contact you before they issue credit in your name. You can renew the alert as many times as you wish—and cancel at any point.
Your credit score is a vital ingredient when it’s time to look for favorable home loan offers, so even before the Equifax hack, it’s always been well worth protecting. Give me a call when questions about this or other Herndon real estate matters come up: I’ll be minding the phone!
Even investors whose Herndon rental homes have served long and well as income-producers can eventually decide it’s time to sell. Given today’s tight housing inventories, the current market does stack up as one where selling your tenant-occupied house can be a timely financial move.
But if that is under consideration, what should you do about the current tenant? Is it better to wait until the current lease expires—so that the vacated property can be shown without having to deal with an inconvenienced (and possibly miffed) tenant? Or will it be better to go ahead and list the property while it’s still occupied? Virginia landlord-tenant laws will have to be observed in any case, and specifics depend on the terms of the rental agreement, but experience teaches that following a few straightforward guidelines will usually solve any tenant-occupied Herndon rental home sale issues before they become problematical.
As with so many “people” matters, keeping the lines of communication open should be the first order of business. For the planned sale of a tenant-occupied house, that means letting your tenant know as soon as possible that the house is going to be put on the market, and that you and your agent will actively minimize any inconvenience that might result. This is also the most opportune time to suggest that they consider buying the place themselves—an option that eliminates further complications.
If that’s not a possibility, be prepared to address their likely concerns, such as--
The solution depends on the specifics. If you are selling a property that tracks well as an investment, tenants may be a plus. If you are selling an upscale property, having it vacant and staged to the 9s may well be your best bet (and a good one, too!).
In any case, the most accurate advice will come when you give me a call to come out and see your property. That’s how we can develop the right game plan!
What a simpler world it would be if Herndon home buying could be reduced to anything like a simple 4-Step process. Even better if those were four easy steps. Without actually coming out and saying so, that’s the tantalizing prospect hinted at on radio financial guru Dave Ramsey’s web site’s “Home Buying Process Made Easy.”
Ramsey is the likable media expert in household budgeting and financial planning. A good deal of his guidance could be summed up in just 2 steps:
Since that’s not bad advice, the promise of home buying in 4 steps seems almost reasonable. After all, his millions of listeners have undoubtedly benefitted greatly through the years (once they’ve figured out a way to act on the advice).
And in fact, his 4 easy home buying steps are actually not far off-target—although I think they’re out of order:
Realistically, Herndon home buying involves a bit more involvement than that. Also, Step 4 should actually come after Step 2, and Step 3 (getting a mortgage) should come after that—and after you and your good real estate agent have zeroed in on your target Herndon home.
One more practical alteration: the 15-year mortgage structure automatically results in a higher monthly payment that, when combined with a 25% of net income budget cap, could yield an unrealistically limited budget target. Being financially conservative also means being realistic. A growing family, for instance, might find that they have wasted money if they have to move to a larger home after only a few years.
That’s where your good real estate agent can save the day. Call me at any step in the process: I’ll be your sounding board on today’s practical short and long term Herndon home buying trade-offs!
Last weekend’s regular Virginia news should have been promoting all the usual upbeat feature stories about the onset of football season, the start of a brand new school year, the finals of tennis’ last grand slam tournament and the like—but Herndon readers would have gotten eye strain trying to find any of them. Instead, the dark clouds brought by Hurricanes Irma and Harvey cast dense shadows across the region and the nation’s news. It was certain, too, that even after the terror of their actual passages had subsided, the fallout would continue to reverberate—expensive—for a very long time.
What was covered was how the prayers of millions not directly affected were being answered by many thousands of Good Samaritan volunteers. That uplifting story was joined by another, too; a piece of hurricane-related real estate news. Too bad it was all but drowned out by the fury of the storms and their tragic aftermaths.
Nonetheless, for Harvey-stricken Houston area homeowners with home loans backed by FHA, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, the announcement came that evictions and foreclosures would be suspended immediately. Added: the same government-backed entities would forego demands for monthly payments for at least 90 days (along with hints that “in some cases” that relief might be extended for up to a year).
As for those just beginning the climb out from Hurricane Irma’s destruction, I think it would be all but inconceivable that the same relief won’t be swiftly forthcoming for those homeowners—even if the size and cost of that will eclipse the cost of defraying the Harvey-affected loans. The small print has it that interest will continue to accrue—but Herndon onlookers will probably agree that the immediate granting of this relief is more than welcome at this juncture.
It's really too soon to be able to concentrate on what happens in the months and years to come but
the future of the American story is entirely predictable. This year we may have lost focus on traditional late summer sports, but in the championship ring of our real world and our real communities, we don’t suffer knockdowns easily. In U.S. history, there are no true KOs; there won’t be this time, either. The communities Americans rebuild will be better than ever!
Mom. Mother-in-law. Chef's Wife. Navy Chief's Wife. Realtor. Christian. Connector. Empty Nester. Business Woman. Foodie.