37°Rain

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — March 3, 2015 at 3:30 pm 795 0

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Adam Gallegos, Arlington-based real estate broker, voted one of Arlington Magazine’s Best Realtors of 2013 & 2014. Please submit your questions via email.

Q. I live in a small condo complex in the Ballston area, less than 15 units. Our small lot has one spot per unit, and two guest spots. Recently it was proposed that we eliminate the guest spots because people from neighboring complexes have been monopolizing them instead of our residents.

Many residents were fine with getting rid of them, but someone said eliminating the guest spots would lower our property values. Does that seem right? I’m sure eliminating resident spots would lower values, but it seems weird that guest spots would affect our prices.

A. I’ve never seen an appraisal or home value analysis that placed a dollar value on the availability of guest parking spaces. That said, I think your condo building will be more appealing to potential buyers if it offers guest parking than if it does not.

Ballston can be a challenging place to find parking at certain hours of the day. A savvy homebuyer is going to recognize this and may be turned off if guest parking or ample street parking is not available. If buyers go elsewhere because guest parking isn’t available then it is having an effect on your home values.

I recommend keeping the guest parking spaces even if you have to work with one of the local towing companies to set an example when the spaces are not used by legitimate guests.

Please keep the questions coming to adam@rlathome.com.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Ask Adam: Walkable Communities

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — February 24, 2015 at 3:30 pm 1,817 0

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Adam Gallegos, Arlington-based real estate broker, voted one of Arlington Magazine’s Best Realtors of 2013 & 2014. Please submit your questions via email.

Q. We are brand new to the area and looking for a house in Arlington. Coming from the Bay Area in California we have been spoiled by walkability. I don’t think we can afford a house on the Metro line. Can you please recommend some other neighborhoods in Arlington that are somewhat walkable to parks, restaurants and necessities?

A. Arlington does such a nice job providing parks that it’s more difficult to think of areas in Arlington that do not have parks within walking distance. You can click here for a full list of parks… searchable by name, community or address.

Below is a list of the top six neighborhoods that come to mind, but I am hoping the commenters can fill in the blanks with additional neighborhoods that they have experienced as walkable.

  • Cherrydale – restaurants, grocery store, wine shops, bakery, hardware store, cafes, etc. It’s a quaint and convenient part of town.
  • Columbia Pike Corridor — Columbia Pike has grocery stores, restaurants, a movie theater, odds-and-ends shops and a farmers market. It’s a long stretch of road, though, so where you live along Columbia Pike is going to greatly determine what you have walkable access to.
  • Harrison/Lee Highway area — The shopping center at the intersection of Harrison Street and Lee Highwy is so packed with dining and shopping options that it is hard to find parking. A nearby park called Chestnut Hills is wonderful for kids.
  • Shirlington — The dining options at Shirlington provide a ton of variety. It is also well equipped with a Harris Teeter, library, movie theater and dog park.
  • East Falls Church area — You will be within walking distance of the Orange Line Metro, some nice little restaurants and few conveniences. You also have easy access to the W&OD trail. You’ll have to get in the car or on the metro for most of your shopping needs though.
  • Westover – like Cherrydale, this is another quaint area of Arlington. You have a small hardware store, market (with the best beer selection in town), restaurants, ice cream shop and cafe.

I know you mentioned not being interested in homes along the Metro line, but there are a number of neighborhoods within reasonable walking distance of the parks, restaurants and shopping that surround the metro stations (i.e. Lyon Park, Ashton Heights and Bluemont) that you may want to consider.

We are happy to spend some time with you or anyone else who is new to the area and would like a personal tour to become more familiar with the various neighborhoods before buying.  Please just send me an email: adam@rlathome.com.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — February 17, 2015 at 3:30 pm 657 0

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Adam Gallegos, Arlington-based real estate broker, voted one of Arlington Magazine’s Best Realtors of 2013 & 2014. Please submit your questions via email.

Q. It’s been a while since we purchased our home so we are a little rusty. Can you provide me with some questions we should be asking the sellers of homes we are considering? 

A. You’ll want to tailor a list of standard questions to your specific concerns, but here are a few good questions to get you started.

Why are they moving? I usually ask this out of curiosity if nothing else. Sometimes it gives me insight about limitations of the home (i.e. the house was not big enough for children).  Sometimes it tells me a little bit about how motivated they might be (i.e. they have already purchased a new home they are moving into).

Have they had any issues with water infiltration? This is something they should disclose to you, especially if you ask directly. You’ll want to know about any flooding or major leaks, even if they have been fixed. If nothing else, it will help your home inspector look for issues.

Have they had any other issues with the house? They are required to disclose any latent defects with the house, but by simply asking the question you may learn a whole lot more about things they have dealt with in the past.

Do they have approved permits from Arlington County for any work performed on the house? Don’t make assumptions just because the home looks nice. Ask the question and verify documentation.

Can they provide utility bills for the past 12 months? Utility usage is going to vary from household to household, but this will give you some idea of what to expect.

Have they received any other offers? If an active offer exists, you will need to find out when they plan to make a decision and if there is still time for you to submit an offer. If an offer was received previously and did not ratify, I like to find out as much about that other offer as possible. It may give you some clues about the seller’s threshold for negotiating certain terms.

Please keep the questions coming to adam@rlathome.com

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — February 10, 2015 at 2:00 pm 1,978 0

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Adam Gallegos, Arlington-based real estate broker, voted one of Arlington Magazine’s Best Realtors of 2013 & 2014. Please submit your questions via email.

Q. I live in South Arlington. Will the construction of new affordable housing next door affect the value of my building and condo?

A. When you hear the words “affordable housing,” you may be picturing something out of a scene from the TV show The Wire. The reality is that there are affordable housing neighborhoods all over (north and south) Arlington that fit right into the community.

I’m not sure which new development you are describing, but if it is new like you mentioned, it is likely to be very nice inside and out. Many of the the newer affordable housing buildings rival the accommodations that demand thousands of dollars per month in rent on the open market.

Off the top of my head, I can think of million-dollar-plus condo buildings, townhomes and single family homes that exist within a block or two of affordable housing in Arlington. I’ve helped people buy and sell homes in each of these communities and it has never been a major concern. I do not see any evidence that it has affected home values in the slightest.

Please send questions to me at adam@rlathome.com.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — February 3, 2015 at 1:30 pm 643 0

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Adam Gallegos, Arlington-based real estate broker, voted one of Arlington Magazine’s Best Realtors of 2013 & 2014. Please submit your questions via email.

Q. Maybe I’m worrying too much, but we recently put our home on the market and I am afraid that the snow is slowing down interest. The online listing already shows that it has been on the market for over two weeks, but a few of those days were awful out. 

A. Let’s look at the bright side first: If someone has a day off of work because of snow, they are more likely to spend time on the computer looking for listings they would like to see.

The downside is that most homebuyers do not want to be driving around looking at homes when the weather is bad. I usually take inclement weather predictions into consideration when choosing which day to go live with a new listing.

Once you go live, you could place the home in temporary off status. In my opinion, the benefit of saving days-on-market is outweighed by the possibility of buyers not finding your home online during those days. I think it is better to ride out the bad weather. Most of the snow days around here only last for a day or two, so they won’t drastically affect your days-on-market.

If you are planning an open house I would pay attention to the weather report. It is worth delaying your open house by a week if it provides the potential for better weather.

Tip: put up a sign asking visitors to remove their shoes when showing your home and/or provide shoe covers. You don’t want people tracking snow or salty water through your house.

Please keep the questions coming. You can send them to adam@rlathome.com.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — January 27, 2015 at 3:00 pm 1,936 0

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Adam Gallegos, Arlington-based real estate broker, voted one of Arlington Magazine’s Best Realtors of 2013 & 2014. Please submit your questions via email.

Q. I can’t seem to find a real definition of a bedroom for Arlington County. I purchased a condo in Clarendon a few years ago that was marketed as a 2 bedroom/1.5 bathroom. Arlington property records and the original floor plan call it a den. Upon refinancing my mortgage, the appraiser told me it can’t be considered a two-bedroom unit. Luckily, the appraisal still came back where I expected, but it was still quite a surprise. A Google search gave me some general guidelines of which my unit meets all (mainly number of entrances, methods of egress, minimum square footage, HVAC), but each noted that the definition varies by local jurisdiction. What are the rules in Arlington?

A. Before getting out my tape measure and calculator, the things I normally look for to initially determine if a room is a bedroom are the following: an egress large enough for a fireman to exit the home with all of his/her equipment, heating, ventilation and a reasonable size.

For a more technical overview of how a bedroom is defined in Arlington, you can consult the 2012 Virginia State Building Code. This is the standard that Arlington has followed since July 14, 2014. I’ll paraphrase some of the pertinent items that apply, below.

Egress – Every sleeping room shall have at least one operable emergency escape and rescue opening. The emergency escape shall have a sill height of not more than 44 inches measured from the finished floor to the bottom of the clear opening. The minimum horizontal area of the window well shall be 9 square feet with a minimum horizontal projection and width of 36 inches. Emergency escape and rescue openings shall open directly into a public way, or to a yard or court that opens to a public way. Window wells with a vertical depth greater than 44 inches shall be equipped with a permanently affixed ladder or steps.

Bedroom size – Habitable rooms shall not be less than 7 feet in any horizontal dimension with a ceiling height of not less than 7 feet.

Heating and ventilation – All habitable rooms shall have an aggregate glazing area (windows) of not less than 8 percent of the floor area of such rooms. Natural ventilation shall be through operable windows, doors, louvers or other approved openings to the outdoor air. Every dwelling unit shall be provided with heating facilities capable of maintaining a minimum room temperature of 68 degrees. Portable space heaters do not qualify.

Closets — Despite popular belief, closets are not required by the building code when defining a bedroom.

If you are still not sure whether you have a bedroom or not, you may want to consult an Arlington County code official.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — January 20, 2015 at 1:30 pm 1,298 0

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Adam Gallegos, Arlington-based real estate broker, voted one of Arlington Magazine’s Best Realtors of 2013 & 2014. Please submit your questions via email.

Q. Do you see an increase in the number and proportion of original homes (mostly ramblers) in North Arlington that go on the market and are bought by families to occupy with modest improvements rather than by developers to tear down and replace with new, much larger homes?

The reason I ask: New and recently new resales of McMansions appear to be selling ever more slowly, and the prices of new McMansions appear to be decreasing. In this context, the financial viability of developers buying and tearing down the original (mostly ramblers) homes for replacement with McMansions would seem to be getting weak.

This suggests to me the possibility of a meaningful decrease in developer demand for and in the developer driven prices for original homes for replacement, thereby creating an opening for families to buy the original homes, perhaps at somewhat lower prices, for them to occupy. And maybe some developers will give more emphasis to renovations and expansions of the original ramblers at modest cost for new family owners.

A. It’s hard to quantify the proportion of builders that are still buying lots because a number of the homes purchased for tear down are bought before they go in the MLS. I also don’t have a way of organizing the data to tell me whether the purchaser was a builder, renovator or primary resident. Using the information we do have available, I searched single family homes priced under $700,000 that have sold in Arlington within the last two years.  Knowing that many builders pay with cash, I divided the sales into two categories: 1) cash buyers 2) conventional, VA and FHA home loan buyers.  The numbers were almost identical in 2013 and 2014.  See below:

  • 2013 – 76 cash buyers and 352 home loan buyers
  • 2014 – 74 cash buyers and 311 home loan buyers

Arlington single family home sales over the last five years

Though there is not a significant change between 2013 and 2014, some of these cash buyers maybe be planning to renovate rather than tear down and rebuild. I wish I had a way to quantify their intentions for you.

According to the following chart that I pulled from Arlington County’s website, it looks like demolitions and construction starts slowed down in 2014, which seems support the idea that new builds are trending down a little bit.

We can keep an eye on whether that trend continues so feel free to check back with me later this year.

I would like to see more renovations and fixer uppers available on the market. We certainly work with a good number of homebuyers who would love to stay in Arlington if they could find the right home within their budget. Even for the family who may want to build a new home for their primary residence, it has become very challenging to compete for prime lots.

Please send your questions to adam@rlathome.com.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — January 13, 2015 at 1:00 pm 955 0

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Adam Gallegos, Arlington-based real estate broker, voted one of Arlington Magazine’s Best Realtors of 2013 & 2014. Please submit your questions via email.

Q. I would love to shorten the length of my 30-year mortgage. I’ve heard that bi-weekly payments can shorten the loan to almost 20 years. Is that true? If so, how does it work?

A. Whenever we get mortgage questions, I like to bring in a mortgage expert. I shared your question with Paul Nagel at First Home Mortgage to gain his insight and advice.

A decade or two ago, a way of making mortgage payments, called the “Bi-Weekly Payment Program” was introduced, and gained popularity. For an annual administrative charge, the program would automatically take half of your monthly mortgage payment from your bank account every two weeks. By doing so, you would pay off a 30 year mortgage in 23-24 years, notably reducing interest paid to the bank.

Before going any further, it’s important to know that this is not a bad program — it does as it advertises and saves money. That said, there’s a much easier way to reduce the term of your mortgage 6-7 years, save approximately the same interest, and skip the $100 – $300 yearly administration fee for the bi-weekly program.

By way of background, a Bi Weekly plan actually makes one extra payment every year due to some simple math:

  • A typical mortgage makes one payment per month, or 12 payments a year
  • The Bi Weekly Payment Plans make one half-payment every two weeks;
  • With 52 weeks in a year, that makes 26 half-payments during the year
  • 26 half-payments equals 13 full payments, or one extra payment every year than making one’s mortgage payment every month

The fact that one extra payment is made each year accounts for well over 90 percent of the benefit (i.e. shortening the life of the mortgage). Said differently, if one, on their own, makes one extra payment per year, they would obtain almost the identical benefits of the Bi Weekly Program, but save the $100-$300 administration fee.

All this feeds into a bigger question: specifically whether it’s good or not to make extra payments to your mortgage. The technical answer to this question is relative to what returns you money could earn invested elsewhere. For example, if your interest rate was currently 4 percent, and you could invest in your uncle’s oil well and earn 20 percent annually, it would not make much sense to save 4 percent in interest but skip the opportunity to earn 20 percent with your Uncle. Conversely, if you were earning 1 percent in a Certificate of Deposit, making extra payments to your mortgage could make sense.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — January 6, 2015 at 3:00 pm 2,304 0

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Adam Gallegos, Arlington-based real estate broker, voted one of Arlington Magazine’s Best Realtors of 2013 & 2014. Please submit your questions via email.

Q. I saw the article about the rising home prices in Arlington. However, prices in South Arlington (22206) seem to be either stagnant or decreasing. Do you know why?

A. The demand for homes was lower throughout the entire region for a good portion of 2014, which created a fairly well balanced market.

My theory is that there wasn’t a great sense of urgency among homebuyers. Interest rates have been low for so long that consumers are numb to the idea that they may go up significantly at some point. In fact, I think a spike in rates would actually spur activity.

Rents went down, which helps to lower the urgency to buy among renters. Home prices weren’t rising quickly enough to scare anyone or lowering enough to excite anyone. All of these factors combined for an unexciting year for local real estate.

I really don’t think there is anything to worry about. From what I’m seeing in your ZIP code, prices are holding steady for the most part. I expect them to show gradual improvement this year.

The only thing that concerns me a little is the loss of the streetcar. Development along the Columbia Pike corridor was basically stagnant from the late 1970s when the Orange Line Metro began service until recently when the potential for a streetcar began to grow.

The streetcar gave the county a tool to attract new retail, restaurants and development. It is something that often came up when talking with homebuyers looking in South Arlington. I really don’t know how much effect (if any) the loss of the streetcar is going to have on home prices. It is more likely to affect the 22204 ZIP code, but it may have some carryover to the 22206 as well.

It’s just something to keep an eye on. Personally, I think home prices in the area will perform well if Arlington can continue to find ways to attract businesses to the Columbia Pike corridor and Shirlington.

Please keep the questions coming to adam@rlathome.com!

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — December 30, 2014 at 12:00 pm 640 0

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Adam Gallegos, Arlington-based real estate broker, voted one of Arlington Magazine’s Best Realtors of 2013 & 2014. Please submit your questions via email.

Q. We are planning to buy some time this coming year. It’s kind of our 2015 goal. We are in a month-to-month lease so we have some flexibility on timing. When is the best time to buy in your opinion? 

A. I get this question a lot. As I have explained before, when supply is higher so (usually) is demand. Therefore, you are not going to gain a lot of advantage trying to time the market based on seasonality.

Right now seems like a pretty great time to buy in my opinion. Here are five reasons why:

  1. Buying at the beginning of the year allows you to take advantage of more interest tax deductions than if you buy towards the end of the year. Double check with your accountant on this.
  2. Interest rates are as good now as you could possibly hope for. I guess you could get lucky and they will drop another fraction of a point, but not enough where it is worth not buying now.
  3. This is the slowest time of year for real estate agents, mortgage officers, settlement attorneys, home inspectors, movers, etc.. Therefore, it is a great time for you to get their undivided attention.
  4. While other home buyers are distracted by the holidays, you could be in a great position to negotiate a better deal or find a hot property before someone else does.
  5. The second half of 2014 was lackluster for the real estate market. Homes continued to sell, but not in a fashion that created significant price appreciation. This is good for you as a home buyer. However, from what we are experiencing in our office and from talking to other brokers, a wave of new buyers are putting plans in place to buy in 2015. In other words, based our small sample, I anticipate strong buyer activity going in to the new year.

Have a fun, safe NYE!  Please keep the questions coming in 2015.  You can send them to adam@rlathome.com.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Ask Adam: New Cherrydale Condo

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — December 23, 2014 at 12:30 pm 1,601 0

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Adam Gallegos, Arlington-based real estate broker, voted one of Arlington Magazine’s Best Realtors of 2013 & 2014. Please submit your questions via email.

Q. I heard a rumor that 3800 Lofts in Cherrydale is going to become a condominium? Any truth to that?

A. It’s true. 3800 Lofts is going to convert from rental apartments to condos. You may remember that the building was originally intended to be condos back in 2005/2006. They were going to be called The Bromptons. The newest rendition is called 38 Place.

3800 Lofts (photo by Adam Gallegos)38 Place is located at 3800 Lee Highway. In addition to being within walking distance of Ballston, Cherrydale has plenty of its own charm and conveniences to offer. There are some nice little cafes and restaurants, wine shops, a bakery, tea shop, yoga studio, hardware store and niche retail. I’ve found that there is a lot of neighborhood pride in Cherrydale.

38 Place is four stories with retail on the ground level. There are two one-bedroom homes and 20 two-bedroom homes. Sizes range from 800-1,500 square feet. Current retail includes Subway, House of Steep and Kite Runner Cafe.

3800 Lofts (photo by Adam Gallegos)As a side note, I highly recommend Kite Runner Cafe for great kabobs.

The interior finishes include wood floors throughout (including bedrooms), GE stainless steel appliances (with gas cooking), granite counters, maple cabinetry and full size washers and dryers in the units. There are some loft features such as nine foot ceilings with exposed ductwork, large windows with Mecco shades and modern lighting fixtures. The homes come with underground parking.

Sales are slated to begin in January. The 1-bedroom units will start in the mid $300′s and the 2-bedroom units will start in the low $500,000′s.

I would love to hear feedback about the building in comments from anyone who has lived here while it has been a rental.

Happy holidays!

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

by ARLnow.com — December 16, 2014 at 12:00 pm 625 0

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Adam Gallegos, Arlington-based real estate broker, voted one of Arlington Magazine’s Best Realtors of 2013 & 2014. Please submit your questions via email.

Q. I saw a mention on ARLnow this past Tuesday that Arbour Realty has been acquired.  Isn’t this your company? Are you going to continue the Ask Adam column? 

A. Yes, Arbour Realty is a company that my wife and I started in 2008. We were recently acquired by a company called Real Living | At Home. Real Living is a national brand owned by Berkshire Hathaway. Real Living | At Home is the regional franchise.

They have been one of the fastest growing real estate brokerages in D.C. and Maryland. Purchasing Arbour Realty is part of their strategy to begin their rapid growth in Northern Virginia. Real Living is on the cutting edge of technology and real estate services, providing a clear advantage over traditional brokerages.

Real Living | At Home logoWe will now have an in-house staff of PR, marketing, photography, videography and technology professionals working on our behalf when we are selling homes. We are looking forward to leveraging the myriad of resources provided by Real Living to take our real estate services to the next level.

We are keeping the Arbour Realty team together under the new brand. I will remain a leader in the Virginia office, but will focus more on our clients and less on the administrative duties of running a company.

I will continue to write the Ask Adam articles for ARLnow so please keep the questions coming. I truly enjoy responding to your questions and following the comments that follow my articles.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Ask Adam: Being a Good Client

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — December 9, 2014 at 2:30 pm 524 0

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Adam Gallegos of Arlington-based real estate firm Arbour Realty, voted one of Arlington Magazine’s Best Realtors of 2013 & 2014. Please submit your questions via email.

Q. I work in the consulting field and know firsthand that you can have good and bad clients. We are in the process of hiring a real estate agent and I would like to know how I can be a good client in hopes of getting everything I can out of the relationship.  

A. I have not thought about things from this perspective before, but it certainly has validity. Below are four suggestions that I think will help you build a productive relationship with your real estate agent.

Commitment — If someone is committed to working with me then I am going to give them 100 percent of my effort regardless of how much money they are spending or how long they may take to accomplish their real estate goals. Although I expect their up front commitment, I feel they should hold me accountable for delivering everything I promise. I include language in all of my buyer and listing agreements that allows clients to cancel the agreement at any time.

Communication — It helps me help my clients when there is a productive flow of two-way communication. For example, let’s say you are buying a house with me and I am sending you homes I have picked out that I think will be a good fit. It helps tremendously to hear what you like or don’t like about them. If you despise split-level homes and would really prefer a cul-de-sac … these are things I will be looking out for in the future.

Set Expectations Early — I find it is easier to cater to someone’s expectations when I know exactly what they are. Let your agent know what you expect from him or her. Describe your goals and find out how he or she can help. Put anything and everything on the table. This way everyone is on the same page from day one.

Commission — If you negotiate a compromise on the commission rate, just be sure that you have not negotiated out the incentive for your agent to go above and beyond on your behalf. It’s not always about the dollars and cents, and I assume that most agents are savvy enough to not get themselves into this situation. I am just putting it out there as an item to consider, as I have seen that beaten look in another agent’s face before where the demand on their time compared to their potential compensation, stopped making sense a long time ago.

The fact that you are considerate enough to ask the above question tells me that you are likely to have a great relationship with your agent. Best of luck with your home sale or purchase.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — December 2, 2014 at 2:30 pm 536 0

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Adam Gallegos of Arlington-based real estate firm Arbour Realty, voted one of Arlington Magazine’s Best Realtors of 2013 & 2014. Please submit your questions via email.

Q. One of the criteria we have been using in evaluating homes on the market is the number of days they have been listed. What’s puzzling is that we are finding that the numbers vary from one resource to the next. Zillow, Redfin and the listing updates our realtor provides are all different.

A. The primary source of this data is the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). When your Realtor sends you updates, you may notice that days-on-market is provided in two different formats within the MLS listings. There is “DOM-MLS” and “DOM-Prop.”

DOM-MLS is the amount of time the current listing has been active. DOM-Prop is the amount of time the current property has been actively listed. It takes 90 days for a property’s DOM-Prop to reset back to zero. With that in mind here is an example:

Agent 1 has a home listed for 50 days. The sellers decide to take it off the market for a couple of weeks and re-list it with Agent 2. Agent 2 is able to find a buyer and it goes under contract in 25 days. In this example, the DOM-Prop is 75 and the DOM-MLS is 25 days.

It usually matters more to me how long the property has been listed (DOM-Prop) than how long it has been listed most recently (DOM-MLS).

The discrepancy I have found with some of the real estate websites is that they count days-on-market even if the property is not actively listed. Sometimes I will have a property in an alternative status like “temp off.” The MLS does not count days-on-market while in temp off, but some of the real estate sites do.

Our local MLS just created a new status called “coming soon.” It will be interesting to see which real estate websites count the days in “coming soon” as days-on-market.

In summary, the count of DOM-Prop in the MLS is the most accurate and valuable indication of how long a home has actually been on the market.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Ask Adam: Preparing to Sell

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — November 25, 2014 at 2:30 pm 451 0

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Adam Gallegos of Arlington-based real estate firm Arbour Realty, voted one of Arlington Magazine’s Best Realtors of 2013 & 2014. Please submit your questions via email.

Q. We are planning to list our Arlington house for sale right after the holidays (early January). What are some things we can do now to get our home ready for the market? 

A. Below are five things you can do now so you hit the ground running in January:

  1. Coming Soon – our local Multiple Listing Service (MLS) just added the ability to advertise your home as a “coming soon” listing. You can also advertise your home on Zillow as “coming soon.” I highly recommend asking your Realtor to list in both of these locations before going live in January. You can also post a coming soon/for sale sign out front. It’s a great way to test the market and generate interest. Be prepared, you may attract someone who wants to see or even buy your home right away. It’s a good idea to have a plan in place for how you want to treat these situation.
  2. Your Network – get the word out to your social network that you plan to sell your home. You never know who may know someone looking for a house like yours. It’s helps to include photos, number bedrooms/baths, square footage, lot size, location and a short list of feature highlights.
  3. Prep The Home Inspection – make sure anything that may come up in a home inspection is addressed now. You may even want to have a home inspector come through for a preliminary inspection to help you identify items that will come up. You can also check out an article I wrote back in May of 2013 about preparing for a home inspection.
  4. De-Clutter – you are going to be packing up everything to move eventually, so get started early on the things that do not need to be out. Do not just shift everything to the garage or basement. You want the house to appear as if there is ample storage space. If needed, you can rent some of those temporary storage pods.
  5. Professional Photos — if you are going to be advertising your home as a “coming soon” listing, you should go ahead and get photos taken as soon as you are done with your home prep. Please don’t skimp on the photos. If you take them with your iPhone, the rooms are going to look small, dark and unattractive. Insist that your Realtor invest in professional photos. Photos are going to help potential buyers determine whether your home is worth seeing so putting your best foot forward is of major importance.

Happy thanksgiving!

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

 

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