Why Use A Buyer’s Agent? Because You’ll Get A Better Deal

July 25, 2009

Another piece on buyer’s agents from Greg Swann:house

Are home-buyers best served by the vigilant efforts of an experienced buyer’s agent? Consider a transaction we have in play right now.

The buyers are a young couple, about to be married. They have about $10,000 in cash. With a conventional loan, they could put 20% down on a dismal starter home. Or, with Private Mortgage Insurance, they could put 10% down on a nicer home.

But with an FHA loan, $10,000 is 3.5% down on a $285,000 home. We can argue the wisdom of making so small a down payment, but the FHA loan program is the path to homeownership for millions of Americans. And $285,000 is too much house for our buyers. They found a nice lender-owned two-story home in the suburbs selling for $169,000. The down payment on that home would be $5,915. But the closing costs would probably run to another $5,000 — which comes to more money than they have.

They qualify for the $8,000 first-time home-buyer tax credit, but they won’t get that until they file their tax return. They also qualify for a state-funded grant program that will contribute up to 22% of the purchase price — but which can’t be used for the down payment or the closing costs.

Here’s the deal we put together. We offered $175,000, $6,000 over list price. In exchange, we asked the seller to contribute 4% of the full purchase price [$7,000 — FHA allows up to 6%] to defray the buyer’s closing costs. The down payment will be $6,125, leaving the buyers $3,875 in cash to pay for the endless expenses of moving into a new home.

And there will be about $2,000 left over after the closing costs are paid. This will be used to buy down the interest rate. The buyers will end up with just over 25% equity in the property for a cash outlay of $6,125 — all at a very low monthly payment. And they’ll still have their $8,000 tax credit to look forward to.

This is the kind of outcome a skilled buyer’s agent can achieve.

Right again, Greg. There are so many ways a knowledgeable agent can help you get a better deal, that is right for you, even when you pay full price or more.

Kim Hannemann, Samson PropertiesSamsonPropTag
Real Estate Consultant/Realtor
Cell: 703-861-9234 • Fax: 703-896-5055
Email: KimTheAgent@gmail.com
It’s Good To Have A Friend In The Business®

If you would like to discuss real estate questions, sell or buy a home in Northern Virginia – including Alexandria, Annandale, Arlington, Burke, Centreville, Chantilly, Clifton, Fairfax, Fairfax Station, Falls Church, Kingstowne, Lorton, McLean, Reston, Springfield, or Vienna – contact Kim today.

4.5% Listings with First-Class Service — Cash Back to My Buyers!


If You Can Search The MLS, Why Do You Need An Agent?

July 24, 2009

homesalepriceFrom agent Greg Swann in the Arizona Republic:

Here’s an intriguing question: Given that it’s so easy to search for homes on the internet, why do you need a buyer’s agent?

Face it, if you use the MLS search tool on my web site, you’re seeing exactly the same listings I see. And you know better than I ever could what you like and what you don’t like.

By now, the home search process is at best a partnership between the agent and the buyer. In some cases the buyer and I will work together to perfect our search criteria. But many buyers simply search the available inventory on their own, emailing me the MLS numbers of the homes they want to see.

So why do those buyers need a buyer’s agent?

Realtors hoarded the MLS data for so long that even they came to believe it was the source of their value to buyers. But this is very far from the truth.

You don’t need me to search for listings, although I’m happy to do that. And you don’t need me to open lock-boxes. You need a buyer’s agent to guide you through what is in fact an arcane and perilous process — potentially a financial disaster. You might not need me to find your next home, but you need me to make sure that you get it — or that you pass on it, if that is what is truly in your best interests.

A skilled buyer’s agent will write the kind of purchase contract that will prove surprising to you at every turn, with every term and condition tailored to achieve your best advantage. Your agent will supervise the inspection process and negotiate the optimal solution to the repair issues. Your agent will be prepared for every pitfall in the escrow process.

If you bought and sold houses every day, you could do all these things yourself. It’s because you don’t — and because the seller and the listing agent are looking to take advantage of your naivete at every turn — that you need a skilled buyer’s agent as your steadfast champion in the home-buying process.

Greg’s post is right on the money. Personally, I like to help my clients search for homes, but that’s largely because as an agent I have access to information that can tell me, for instance, whether or not the property is already under contract even though it’s still listed as “Active” in the search they are using. I’m also looking for certain things that clients – no matter how savvy they may be – will not notice or understand. Still, it’s what comes after finding the property that is going to make a bigger difference to my clients, and makes my involvement crucial for them.

Kim Hannemann,  Samson PropertiesSamsonPropTag
Real Estate Consultant/Realtor
Cell: 703-861-9234 • Fax: 703-896-5055
Email: KimTheAgent@gmail.com
It’s Good To Have A Friend In The Business®

If you would like to discuss real estate questions, sell or buy a home in Northern Virginia – including Alexandria, Annandale, Arlington, Burke, Centreville, Chantilly, Clifton, Fairfax, Fairfax Station, Falls Church, Kingstowne, Lorton, McLean, Reston, Springfield, or Vienna – contact Kim today.

4.5% Listings with First-Class Service — Cash Back to My Buyers!


Springfield Town Center Plan Finally Moves Forward

July 14, 2009

From the Fairfax Times today:sprtownctr

A complete overhaul of the Springfield Mall and surrounding areas gained final approval July 13.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved turning the 34-year-old mall property into a more urban-style town center that the community hopes will once again make central Springfield a destination.

“Springfield Mall needed a complete transformation,” said Supervisor Jeff McKay (D-Lee). “We wanted a regional mall on par with other regional malls in the area that we could be proud of.”

The project includes upgrades to the mall itself, as well as construction of new offices, apartments, a hotel, movie theater and additional restaurants and shops. Mall owner Vornado has also promised to improve connections to the Franconia-Springfield Metro station for pedestrians, cyclists and buses; build a synthetic turf playing field; and contribute to area road and park improvements.


Why Can’t Tar-Jay Get With The Program?

May 18, 2009

spfldmallchgFrom the Washington Examiner:

Supervisors delay Springfield Mall redevelopment

Fairfax County supervisors on Monday [5/18/2009] delayed a vote on the long-awaited overhaul of Springfield Mall after an unresolved issue among landowners knocked the project off course. County officials and mall owners alike had hoped for a quick rezoning approval that would have allowed the ambitious redevelopment to move forward. The makeover would install new retail, hotel, office and living space on the site of the languishing mall, as well as trails, parks and other improvements.

The delay is rooted in a disagreement over details of the project among the four owners of the 80-acre mall property, officials said. County supervisors Monday agreed to delay the rezoning until July. [Kim note – ugh.]

“For me, this is a very difficult thing to have to do, because the community has embraced this project, and county staff has moved mountains” to keep it on schedule, said Lee District Supervisor Jeff McKay. McKay said one of the landowners, Target, has not reached an agreement on proffers, which are contributions to roads, schools and other services a developer makes in exchange for a rezoning.

Overhauling Springfield Mall has been one of the county’s top revitalization priorities for years. Eclipsed by better-regarded shopping centers in Tysons Corner, the mall garnered an undesirable reputation as a symbol of suburban decay. Officials hope to use the revamp to reverse that image.

They’re not the only ones!

Kim Hannemann, Real Estate Consultant/Realtor®, Samson Realty
Cell: 703-861-9234 • Fax: 703-896-5055 • Email: KimTheAgent@gmail.com

It’s Good To Have A Friend In The Business®
samson-realty-and-bird

If you would like to discuss real estate questions, sell or buy a home in Northern Virginia – including Alexandria, Annandale, Arlington, Burke, Centreville, Chantilly, Clifton, Fairfax, Fairfax Station, Falls Church, Kingstowne, Lorton, McLean, Reston, Springfield, or Vienna – contact Kim today.

4 – 4.5% Listings with First-Class Service — Cash Back to My Buyers!


Supervisors Vote On Springfield Mall May 18

May 7, 2009

midtownspringfieldFrom the Springfield Connection:

At its May 18 meeting, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is expected to approve a rezoning proposal and finally sign off on the transformation of the Springfield Mall into a commercial and residential town center.

The mall’s owner, Vornado Realty Trust, plans to redevelop the 80-acre suburban retail shopping center into an area where people will be able to live, work, dine and entertain themselves — all without getting into a car.

According to the Web site, http://www.springfieldtowncenter.com, the new town center would include high-quality retailers, a state of-the-art movie theater, “Class-A” office space, upscale hotels and “premier” residential homes.

Vornado’s plans also include parks and plazas with pathways that make travel between residential and commercial space easy. According to the Web site, parking would be offered throughout the development.

“This is the single most important project for Springfield obviously, but I think it is also the most important project for the entire county. I can’t think of another regional shopping center that is in such dire need,” said Supervisor Jeff McKay (D-Lee), who represents the area where the Springfield Mall is located.

The Springfield Mall has many amenities some of the county’s higher performing shopping centers, including Tysons Corner, Fairfax Corner and Reston Town Center, lack. The mall is at the crossroads of Northern Virginia’s two major thoroughfares, the Capital Beltway and Interstate 95, and is in close proximity to a Metro station.

McKay said the mall has not lived in up to its potential, primarily because of poor and irresponsible ownership in the past. With Vornado at the helm of the redevelopment project, he expected the site to flourish.

“Springfield Mall had everything that Tysons Corner craved, except a good owner. There is no reason why that mall can’t exceed Tysons Corner in quality when it has everything going for it that it has,” said McKay.

McKay and other supervisors have been frustrated with recent delays in getting the Springfield development underway.

The Fairfax County Planning Commission approved the site’s rezoning application in February and the supervisors were supposed to vote on the plans in late March. But negotiations between the Target store and Vornado held up the supervisors’ final approval.

“It is unfortunate that Target and Vornado had not talked earlier in the process than they did on some of these last-minute details,” said Stuart Mendelsohn, Target’s lawyer and former Dranesville supervisor.

Target, one of the mall’s current retail anchors, owns the land on which its store sits and has more control over what happens to its property than most of the mall’s other retail outlets.

The mall redevelopment plans called for the current Target to grow from a one-floor store to a two-floor store; however, the company did not want to be locked into any specific expansion plans.

“Ultimately, I think [the expansion] is what they would like to do but, at this point, they were not prepared to move forward on that,” said Mendelsohn.

Target was also displeased with the configuration of the parking garage that is planned for outside the store’s entrance, said Mendelsohn and McKay.

But ultimately, Target is excited about the Springfield Mall redevelopment and wants the project to move forward.midtownspringfield

“Target is absolutely supportive of all the changes coming to the mall,” said Mendelsohn.


Special Education Teachers in Demand

May 7, 2009

bethSpecial Education Teachers in Demand – washingtonpost.com.

I bask in the reflected glory of my friend and neighbor Beth Curtis. She truly is “a natural.”


Daventry – Springfield’s Showcase Community

April 28, 2009

daventryheaderYesterday I took a mini-vacation – I went about a mile from my home to take photos in Daventry. Late April, when the azaleas and dogwoods are blooming, is a great time to visit any Northern Virginia community, but Daventry is special, even on trash day. Everywhere I turned there were photo opps.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Daventry boasts variety of home styles. There are over 500 two-, three-, and four-bedroom colonial style town homes backing to woods, and most have garages. Over 200 elegant three-, four-, and five-bedroom detached homes are situated on gently rolling hills, surrounded by mature trees. Ramblewood at Daventry’s 160 one- and two-bedroom condominium units are convenient and affordable. Here is a selection of floor plans for Daventry’s homes:

Floor Plans


Townhomes

Auburn
Bedford
Dover
Eton
Fairmont
Justin

Single Family

Amesbury
Hampton
Promontory
Chesapeake
Potomac
York

Daventry’s common property includes walking paths that join an extensive network of paths owned by Fairfax County. On the east there is the Fairfax Cross-County Trail, which connects to Accotink Creek via a paved path running under Keene Mill Road. Other paths on the west side meander through Daventry’s homes. The community features a large outdoor swimming pool complex (with an award-winning Swim Team), lighted tennis courts and a multipurpose court, and four tot lots equipped with swing sets, slides, and climbing equipment for children. An elegantly decorated clubhouse is available for community and private events. The Daventry Homeowners Association actively and consistently pursues recreational, landscaping, safety and property appearance initiatives that both enhance residents’ quality of life and preserve community property values.

The Daventry area is served by West Springfield Elementary School, which is adjacent to the community, nearby Washington Irving Middle School and Robert E. Lee High School. Daventry parental support for all three schools is strong – every school function is well-attended by Daventry parents, many of whom are highly active in the schools’ PTAs.

Daventry offers easy access to the Springfield Metro Station, Virginia Railway Express, Interstates 95/395/495, and the Fairfax County Parkway. An official carpool staging area (slug line) servicing the Daventry-Pentagon route is located at the Keene Mill Road entrance to the community.

Kim Hannemann, Real Estate Consultant/Realtor®, Samson Realty
Cell: 703-861-9234 • Fax: 703-896-5055 • Email: KimTheAgent@gmail.com

It’s Good To Have A Friend In The Business®
samson-realty-and-bird

If you would like to discuss real estate questions, sell or buy a home in Northern Virginia – including Alexandria, Annandale, Arlington, Burke, Centreville, Chantilly, Clifton, Fairfax, Fairfax Station, Falls Church, Kingstowne, Lorton, McLean, Reston, Springfield, or Vienna – contact Kim today.

4 – 4.5% Listings with First-Class Service — Cash Back to My Buyers!