69°Scattered Clouds

by ARLnow.com — September 16, 2014 at 1:40 pm 505 0

Ask Adam header

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. This may be a silly question, but I am wondering if I can use an escalation clause if I am offering less than the listed price for a home? 

A. It’s not a silly question at all, but let me briefly explain what an escalation clause is and how it works for anyone who may not be familiar with it.

An escalation clause allows you start with an initial offering price and specify how much you are willing to escalate your offer price above the next best offer. You may start at $500,000, but specify that you are willing to go up in increments of $1,000 above the next best offer. If the next best offer is $525,000 then yours would escalate to $526,000.

You also specify a maximum amount that you are willing to let your offer price reach. For example, you may set a maximum of $535,000. Your offer will not escalate above $535,000 even if the other offers meet or exceed this number. The process of using an escalation clause is very similar to the process of bidding on eBay.

Back to your question… You will not want to use an escalation clause if you are the only one writing an offer for the property. All that will accomplish is showing the sellers how much you are willing to go up to. Savvy sellers are going to use this information to formulate a counter offer.

The only time it may make sense to include an escalation clause in an offer for below asking price is if you are competing to purchase a property for which you expect all other offers to be below asking price. An escalation clause in this scenario, has the potential to put you in the strongest position in terms of price, without going higher than you need to in order to outperform the other offers.

In a situation where an escalation clause reaches or exceeds the asking price, it is rare that a seller would counter on price. If an offer escalates to a price below the asking price, don’t be surprised if you receive a counter from the sellers if they still don’t think your offer is strong enough, even if you had the highest price.

To learn more, please check out a previous Ask Adam article I wrote about escalation clauses.

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 — September 9, 2014 at 2:30 pm 759 0

Ask Adam header

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’ve been in my house a few years and am about to start a home renovation. Prior to purchasing my home, a second full bathroom was added to my house sometime in the the 70s or 80s. My property assessment only lists one bathroom.

When the Arlington inspector comes to my house during the reno, is he required to make note of any discrepancy? If/when I do sell, and I want to maximize the value of the house, can the MLS listing include the second bath or is that information exclusively dependent on county assessment records?

A. If you have two full bathrooms, but the Arlington tax records only lists one… it makes me wonder if permits were ever approved for the installation of the second bathroom. That’s the first question I would try to answer if I were you. You can check for permits online: https://permits.arlingtonva.us/.

If your purpose is to have Arlington County account for the second bathroom then this can be arranged by contacting the department of real estate assessments: 703-228-3920.

If you are concerned about Arlington County discovering the existence of an unapproved second bathroom then this is a situation I recommend exploring with your contractor. A licensed contractor with experience in Arlington is going to have more insight into the possible pitfalls of this situation than I do.

The MLS is dependent on information manually entered by your Realtor. You are able to advertise all the bathrooms that exist in your home regardless of whether they are included in the tax record. You’ll probably still need to update some of the real estate websites that automatically generate information about your home (i.e. Zillow), just in case they are pulling from the tax record.

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 — September 2, 2014 at 2:30 pm 791 0

Ask Adam header

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’re going to be selling our house in Arlington. Between my wife and I, we have six real estate agents in our network of friends, including the wonderful person who helped us buy our home. How should we pick who to use?

A. For most people, their home is their most valuable asset they have. That being the case, you should treat this purely as a business decision. It should go without saying that this is not a contest to be won by who you like the most, but who will produce the best results.

There are thousands of real estate agents in the D.C. area. Their level of experience, areas of expertise, organizational skills and ethics vary wildly. Not to mention their marketing, sales and negotiation skills. Commenters on my previous articles have shared many a horror story about the person they unfortunately chose to work with in the past.

I’ll provide some criteria to use in your evaluation, but I’m guessing you intuitively have a hunch who would be the best choice.

Experience — I am much less interested in how many years someone has been in the business as I am by how many transactions they been involved in like yours. You want someone who who can skillfully handle all the situations that may present themselves during the home sale process.

Time – Make sure that they have enough time to make your listing a priority. Ask how many other active and under contract listings they have right now. If they are also working with buyers, find out how many buyers they are helping. You’ll have to compare these numbers amongst the agents you are evaluating to decide what you feel comfortable with.

Niche – Do they have a niche or are they a generalist? If they do have a niche, does it fit with the home you are trying to sell? Think of it this way… if you had a serious health concern, wouldn’t you seek out the specialist who is most qualified to help you?

Marketing — ask to see examples of the marketing they do. Ask what things they are doing to market properties that are beyond the norm. This one is huge in my opinion.

Negotiation – ask about their strategies for negotiating in the current market. Bonus if they can show you examples of their results.

Violations – check the DPOR website to see if they have open or closed complaints against them. You may also want to check Yelp and Angie’s List for reviews.

Team or Individual – teams have become very popular in the real estate community and they come in all shapes and sizes. Understand up front who you are going to be working with and in what capacity.

It’s also important to pick someone you feel comfortable working with. If these are friends of yours, you probably have a good feel for this one and how similar your styles of communication are. For example, if you prefer email and texting, don’t pick the agent who is still dialing in to an AOL account.

I hope this helps. Having been in situations like this before, it is best to be up front and honest with the parties involved. They may not love your decision, but they will respect it if they are true friends.

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 — August 26, 2014 at 1:30 pm 1,299 0

Ask Adam header

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. Do you know about any new condo developments coming to market in the next year or so? Specifically along the Orange Line corridor. I have seen close to a dozen new apartment buildings crop up in the last 1-2 years, but I cannot recall seeing any new condos. Anything in the pipeline?

A. I’m assuming you are are aware of Gaslight Square, which are luxury condos currently being sold between Rosslyn and Courthouse.

AKA Virginia Square being converted into condominiumsThe only other development on the radar is the condo conversion in Virginia Square located 3409 Wilson Blvd. It was originally built to be a condominium building called the Joule in 2006. A company called AKA bought the before it was occupied and repurposed the building for luxury corporate rentals. ARLnow.com reported last month that they are switching back to condos this fall.

I haven’t been in the building in eight years, though I remember that the homes have a lofty feel with high ceilings and exposed ductwork. It is slim on amenities, but has a nice rooftop terrace. The new condo website boasts that the condos will include quartz counters, stainless steel appliances and solid hardwood floors. Pricing has not been released yet, but you can register for updates at ARC3409.com

An alternative, if you don’t mind leaving the Orange Line, is Columbia Place Condos. They are located just off of Columbia Pike on S. Walter Reed Drive and 11th Street. Sales are underway and delivery is expected to begin this winter. Prices for the almost 1300 square foot, two-bedroom, two-bath homes begin in the $500,000′s. It’s a boutique building with only 14 units total.

Feel free to check back with me at any time or provide more detail about what you are looking for and I can let you know when I hear about something matching your criteria.

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 — August 19, 2014 at 3:30 pm 535 0

Ask Adam header

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 started looking for a good iPhone app to use during my home search and was a little overwhelmed. Do you have one that you recommend?

A. I have tried a bunch of different real estate apps and have narrowed them down to my top three favorites.

Mobile real estate app1) Homesnap is the one I use most often. If I want to learn about a home and whether it is for sale, I open Homesnap and press a button on the screen like I’m taking a photo of it. It pulls up a map and asks me to confirm the home I am interested in. I am then provided with details such as the following:

  • Estimated value
  • Sales price and listing data, if it is for sale
  • Number of bedrooms and bathrooms
  • Lot size
  • Square footage
  • Year built
  • Parking
  • Historical sales data
  • Comparable listings
  • SmartZip HomeScore and InvestorScore

I can sign up for notifications when the price changes. I can even request that a competitive market analysis (CMA) be delivered to me.

In short, it’s the perfect nosey neighbor tool!

2) Maybe I’m a little biased, but I like using ArbourMobile.com when I’m searching for a specific address, city or zip code. It’s quick, accurate and has up-to-date information provided by the local multiple listing service (MLS). It allows me to display results in a list or on a map.  It provides all the listing detail including Walk Score. If I were in the market for a home, I would be inclined to use the favorites, notes and share functionality as well.

3) I like to use Zillow when I want information about real estate outside the DC area. Like if I’m on vacation dreaming about owning a beach house and wondering what the Zestimate is for the house next door. I would prefer to use Homesnap in these situations, but they currently have a limited service area.

In a previous article, I have listed some additional apps that may come in handy during the home buying process.

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 — August 12, 2014 at 2:30 pm 1,916 0

Ask Adam header

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. Given your thoughts on the Ballston condo market, what kind of impact do you foresee for the three townhouse communities triangled between N. Glebe Road, Wilson Blvd, Carlin Springs Road, and Vermont Street?

A. I can’t think of any reason why the townhomes around Ballston wouldn’t be poised to ride the same wave of appreciation that I spoke about in my recent article about Ballston condos.

I’ve been particularly interested in a townhome for sale in Ballston Green that is currently listed at $1,230,000. According to the tax record, it was purchased new from Madison Homes in January of this year for $953,675. If they get their price (which is a big “if”) then it would be almost a 29 percent jump in less than a year. Even with high demand and low supply of newer townhomes, this will be an extraordinary amount of appreciation compared to any location in the region.

The specific townhomes you are describing have been selling quickly this year. The average number of days on market for the last six months is only five days. Thats even faster than the popular townhomes at Clarendon Park, which are currently averaging 18 days.

The key variable I see for the Ballston townhomes you mentioned is their updates. Some are 32 years old so you get a wide range of upgrades, if any at all. The homes that have been rented out for the last 10 years and have original finishes throughout are going to slow down average appreciation for the neighborhood as a whole.

It’s an improving area where the car dealership has been replaced by class A office space and new restaurants. The tired shopping mall will be replaced by a new structure and a fresh crop of retailers. You can walk to your local grocery store and weekly farmer’s market. The Ballston Metro station provides easy access to the Orange and Silver lines. Route 66 is only a stoplight or two away. I like the future of Ballston for condos, townhomes and the sprinkling of single family homes.

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 — August 5, 2014 at 2:45 pm 2,830 0

Ask Adam header

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.

I just watched the Ballston BID development plan video on YouTube. How do you expect the plans to effect condo values in the area? I’m interested in both the next couple of years when we’ll continue to be “under construction” in a big way vs. 2017 when much of it should be complete.

For those who have not seen the video, it’s an animated rendering of what the future of Ballston may look like. It includes improvements such as:

  • Seating for outdoor entertainment in front of the Ballston Metro station.
  • Additional landscaping and water features in front of the Ballston Metro station.
  • The exterior of the Ballston Metro station is a colorful work of art.
  • Attractive landscaping has been added to the medians along Fairfax Drive.
  • There is an outdoor market in Welburn Square (901 N. Taylor Street).
  • A “beachfront,” “cloud” and “forest of knowledge” art projects are displayed in Welburn Square.
  • New trash and recycling receptacles.
  • A new Marymount University building on the corner of Fairfax and Glebe.
  • A gateway sign signifying the entrance to Ballston.
  • A new “parklet” on Glebe. I’ve not heard of this term before seeing the video, but it seems to be a tiny park area designed for relaxing and conversing.
  • Digital banners displaying points of interest.
  • Bocce court park outside Ballston mall.
  • Completion of the new Liberty Center block.
  • The fully renovated Ballston mall with outdoor facing shops and dining.

In my opinion the renovation of Ballston Common Mall alone will significantly improve interest in Ballston. The mall in its current form has been the black eye of Ballston since Ballston began shedding its rough-around-the-edges image back in the early 1990s. Not only is it going away, it is being replaced by an attractive building by today’s standards with shops and dining that will cater to the demographic who live along the Orange Line.

Clarendon has long been the leader in condo values and the highest cost per square foot in Northern Virginia. I don’t expect Ballston condo values to exceed those in Clarendon, but with improvements like the ones described above, I think that they will catch up.

I took the average cost per square foot for the last three sales at two comparable condo buildings — The Phoenix in Clarendon and Liberty Center in Ballston. The Phoenix is currently selling for a little over 2 percent more than Liberty Center. Going back to last year around this time, the difference was over 4 percent. Maybe the current improvements in Ballston along with speculation of what’s to come, is already closing the gap between Ballston and Clarendon condo values.

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 — July 29, 2014 at 2:00 pm 1,276 0

Ask Adam header

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 just bought our first house and are feeling a little house poor, but we are eager to make some worthwhile improvements. Can you recommend some relatively inexpensive improvements that will provide return on investment at some point? 

I love your enthusiasm and foresight. You don’t always have to spend a lot of money to improve the appearance and value of your home. Below are my top five suggestions:

Paint — You just bought the home so I am hoping you plan to live there for many years to come. Updating the interior paint is probably not a strong return on investment project at this point as you are likely to paint again before selling one day. At that time it will be a good idea to speak with your agent about the trending interior colors. This year I am seeing a lot of the light grays.

I suggest concentrating on the exterior. The wood trim and shutters often get neglected. You can give them a fresh look and provide them with much needed protection from sun, rain and snow. I can’t tell you how many home inspections I have been to where we discovered rotting wood trim.

Deck Cleaning and Staining – Similar to the suggestion above, this is a project you can do by yourself to freshen and protect your investment.

Start with a thorough cleaning. I usually rent a power washer from Bill’s True Value Hardware (2213 N. Buchanan Street), but first check around to see if you have a friend that will lend you theirs. It’s a simple process of cleaning, sanding and staining. Compare stains to find one that lasts for a longer period of time.

Landscaping — I just got back from a trip to Cape May, N.J., and was extremely impressed with the beautiful landscaping that is prevalent in that little beach town. It’s amazing how much more inviting the landscaping can make a home feel regardless of the home’s age.

I suggest creating a plan for your landscaping that takes into account the placement of plants, flowers and shrubs in relations to their height and the seasons they are in bloom. You should also consider the amount of water and sun they will require. It’s nice to create a garden you don’t have to water.

Because we are talking about improvements that will add value to your home, I suggest using perennial flowers that will continue to come back season after season.

Arlington County provides free mulch. For a small fee you can even have it delivered. Mulch provides a nice accent to your yard and helps control weeds.

Hardware — No offense to those of you who have gold colored hardware throughout your homes, but it is not really the finish of choice for most home buyers right now. I’m talking about doorknobs, light fixtures, fireplace hardware, cabinet knobs, towel racks… you get the picture. You can really update the feel of your home by replacing these items with a popular finish like brushed nickel or oil rubbed bronze.

ReStore – Habitat for Humanity ReStores are nonprofit home improvement stores and donation centers that sell new and gently used furniture, home accessories, building materials, and appliances to the public. Because they depend on donations, the inventory is hit or miss, but I have seen some gems in there. Everything from hardwood flooring to stainless steel appliances. There is a ReStore located in Alexandria.

I highly recommend YouTube for any projects you would like a quick education about. In my personal experience, it has been a life saver.

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 — July 22, 2014 at 2:15 pm 931 0

Ask Adam header

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. My husband and I are soon going to be in the market for a single family home in Arlington, and we were wondering if you can advise on the pros and cons of buying a flip versus buying a smaller, cheaper home and commissioning the renovations ourselves. I imagine there are differences between the risk you take on, the financing options, as well as the equity you end up with when all is said and done. Can you walk through those and any other considerations?

A. In most cases you are going to get more for your money by purchasing a smaller, cheaper home and commissioning the renovations. If someone is going renovate a home to be move in ready, they are usually going to build in a premium on the sale. This is especially true with homes that are being “flipped.”

If you make tasteful choices and manage your costs carefully, you could create some nice equity for yourself by the time you are done renovating. Another benefit of commissioning the renovations yourself is that you get to choose the options and build the home around your needs. This can be fun and rewarding. The most prideful homeowners I can think of are the ones that renovated their own homes.

I’m only aware of one mainstream loan program that allows you to finance the home and the renovations. It’s a form of FHA called the 203k. It allows you to purchase with a low down-payment and finance your renovations. You’ll want to speak to a lender for more details, but I’ve heard it can be used for just about any home renovations besides a hot tub or firepit.

If the 203k loan does not meet your needs, then you will most likely need to save the money required for your renovations or tap into an alternative line of credit. This will be in addition to the down-payment and closing costs you will need to budget for with your purchase.

The other major consideration is the time and stress involved in renovating your home. It can be fun, but it can also put a lot of stress on your life and relationships. Even a simple bathroom or kitchen renovation should be entered into with caution. Invest ample time up front asking friends for referrals and interviewing contractors. In my experience, working with the right contractors can make a world of difference in how your project turns out and how enjoyable or painful the experience is.

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 — July 15, 2014 at 2:30 pm 1,386 0

Ask Adam header

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. Our house in 22207 would be considered a teardown. We may move in a year or so when my husband retires. Our question is: would it be better to do some remodeling and then rent it out for a few years to benefit from possible future appreciation, or better to take advantage of the current developer demand and sell? Of course it will depend on specific details of the house, the neighborhood, and other family considerations, but do you have a general suggestion?

A. Cash in or let it ride… This is the classic question of gamblers and investment owners. In this case I’m inclined to advise you to cash in. Here are three reasons why:

  1. Alhough I have confidence in the direction of our real estate market, there is no guarantee that the current level of demand for tear down properties will continue. In the current market, you may be able to orchestrate a bidding war that will outperform what your property will return during more conservative times. Many builders are buying with their own cash and they have been burned by past markets. I imagine that the slightest hint of slowdown in the luxury market will directly affect the demand for teardown properties.
  2. You have mentioned remodeling the home before renting it out. This is going to require investment in the home that is not going to provide any value to the person or developer looking for a tear down. Your investment will become a sunk cost that eats into the additional profit you hope to gain by holding onto the property longer.
  3. You’ll want to carefully explore the tax implications of holding the property. For example, renting the property out for too long can create substantial costs in the form of your capital gains tax.

If you were my client, I would provide you with an estimated sales price and strategy for the current market. I would also do my best to project the appreciation or depreciation you may experience by holding onto the property. This exercise would help you make a decision based on the unique value and estimated performance of your home. You can compare these numbers to the estimated costs of holding on to the property as a rental.

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 — July 8, 2014 at 3:00 pm 797 0

Ask Adam header

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 have to admit that my question is more based on curiosity than desire to sell or purchase anytime soon. Can you tell me if the luxury housing market is on the incline or decline in North Arlington?

A. To help me answer your question, I’m going to use statistics for the 22207 and 22201 zip codes. That is where the bulk of luxury, single family home sales take place in North Arlington, and it will reduce the variables in my analysis.

I’ll compare January through June in 2013 to the same time span in 2014. The price range I am looking at is $1 million and greater. I realize an argument could be made for whether $1 million will buy you a “luxury” house these days, but I think it is a fair cutoff.

In 2013 the market experienced the following sales activity:

  • Average sales price: $1,402,099
  • Sales price compared to original list price: 95.5 percent
  • Average days on market: 64
  • Number of homes sold: 85

In 2014 the market experienced the following sales activity:

  • Average sales price: $1,396,940
  • Sales price compared to original list price: 97.2 percent
  • Average days on market: 63
  • Number of homes sold: 106

You can see some improvement in the sales price compared to original list price, which is a good sign that sellers are getting closer to their asking price in 2014. There is also a 21-unit increase in the number of homes sold in 2014. I think this can be partially attributed to an increase in the number of new homes available, which is helping inventory catch up with demand.

There has been a 33 percent increase in the number of new homes sold so far in 2014. The increase in new home inventory is good news for homebuyers, but the cost of teardowns is rising sharply, which is causing the price of new homes to increase accordingly. With more new homes pushing the $1.8 million and greater price range, we have to be getting close to a tipping point where the pool of buyers able afford these homes dwindles. When that happens, the amount of days homes spend on the market should start trending higher.

Average sales price doesn’t really tell the story, but from what I am seeing, the average price you would pay for a luxury home in 2014 is higher than what you would have paid for the same home in 2013. I would personally categorize the luxury market as an inclining, though it is a gradual incline.

You can follow this link to view the current luxury market listings in Arlington.

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 — July 1, 2014 at 2:30 pm 654 0

Ask Adam header

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’re preparing to buy a house and are doing some preliminary research. One thing I came across is the idea of radon testing. This is something I have not heard of before and am wondering if you can help me understand how it relates to buying a home? 

A. According to the EPA, “exposure to radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. Radon is an odorless, tasteless and invisible gas produced by the decay of naturally occurring uranium in soil and water. For most Americans, their greatest exposure to radon is in their homes; especially in rooms that are below grade (e.g., basements), rooms that are in contact with the ground and those rooms immediately above them.”

According to the EPA map, Arlington falls within an orange zone, which is defined as having a predicted average indoor radon screening level between 2 and 4 pCi/L. The EPA recommends remediation for any home that has a concentration of 4 pCi/L or higher.

Keep in mind that these levels will vary from one home to the next within Arlington depending on the location and composition of the home. For example, as homes are being built tighter to make them more energy efficient, they can also trap greater concentrations of radon inside the home.

If you would like to include radon testing as part of your real estate transaction, you will use the same addendum as the home inspection contingency. In fact, the structure of the two contingencies are very similar. You will designate a certain number of days for the contingency, which will allow the testing and lab work to take place. You will also designate how many days each party will have to respond to a negotiation in a case where the buyer would like the seller to remediate unsafe levels of radon. You also reserve the right to void the contract based on the results.

In my experience, sellers are less apprehensive about radon testing than they are about a standard home inspection. If radon is something that concerns you, then I highly recommend testing for it. The cost of a professional radon test, usually ranges from $150 to $200. You can also buy your own test kit on Amazon.com for $11.99, but this will not meet the standards required for a radon contingency in a real estate transaction. The radon contingency requires a radon professional certified by the National Radon Safety Board, or the National Radon Proficiency Program using EPA approved testing methods.

When I bought my house I decided not to include radon testing as part of the transaction. I purchased a kit at Home Depot shortly after closing to test it on my own. I knew that radon remediation is not terribly expensive in most cases so I was willing to take on that risk.  We were well within the safe range and I was able to save the money I would have spent on a professional test. I also had one less item getting in the way of me negotiating the price I wanted. That said, I’m a little less averse to risk than I encourage my clients to be.

I didn’t even scratch the surface of information available about radon that is available on the EPA website. If you have additional questions about what it is and the risks it poses, I highly recommend spending some time on their website.

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 — June 24, 2014 at 1:20 pm 951 0

Ask Adam header

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. Despite positive reports about the local real estate market, I would like to find out how my neighborhood and zip code are selling. I’ve heard that finding out the rate of sales compared to the amount of inventory is a valuable analysis. Can you tell me where this information is located on the internet?

A. What you are referring to is often called the absorption rate. Absorption rate calculates how approximately how many months it will take to sell the current inventory of active real estate listings, based on the most recent sales volume.

  • More than six months of inventory on the market is generally considered a buyer’s market.
  • Less than six months of inventory on the market is generally considered a seller’s market.
  • Six months of inventory on the market is generally considered a balanced market.

It will be easier to understand if I take you through an example. Let’s analyze the absorption rate for the 22207 zip code:

  • Within the last 90 days, 159 properties have gone under contract.
  • That’s an average of 53 properties per month.
  • Currently there are 113 properties actively on the market.
  • At the current rate of 53 properties being sold per month, we have a little over two months of inventory on the market.

If you agree with the assumption that under six months of inventory is a seller’s market, then this analysis would indicate that 22207 is currently experiencing a strong seller’s market.

I think it is smart that you want to analyze your neighborhood as well as your zip code. We often find that neighborhoods and condo buildings within a given zip code can perform quite differently.

I don’t know of a website that provides this type of analysis, but your Realtor should be able to create a custom absorption rate chart with data from the multiple listing service (MLS). If you don’t have a Realtor yet then let me know and we can help you out with this information.

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 — June 17, 2014 at 2:30 pm 1,290 0

Ask Adam header

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.

(Updated at 4:05 p.m.Q. We are moving to the Arlington area this summer and would like to find a condo or townhouse with a view of D.C. Can you tell me where to look and how much we should expect to pay?

A. That’s one of the nice things about Arlington… we have the best views of D.C. Below is a list of the condos and townhomes I would put at the top of my list when it comes to view. I highly recommend experiencing the view in person to make sure it meets your standards as they vary significantly. You may also want to visit in the evening as some evening views can be quite spectacular. After all, you need to make sure it is worth the premium you are going to be paying.

Photo of D.C. view from Rosslyn (photo by Adam Gallegos)Waterview — I’ve been in a lot of homes in the D.C. area and I have not experienced anyplace with a view of D.C. that is this stunning. Some of these homes include panoramic views of the Potomac, Georgetown and the D.C. monuments. Because of the waterfront location, you truly get a front row view of DC. Recent home sales with a D.C. view range from about $775,000 to over $3,500,000.

Memorial Overlook – This building is located just south of Arlington Boulevard near Iwo Jima. These luxuriously appointed homes boast views of the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument and the Capitol. Recent homes sales with a D.C. view range from about $1,400,000 to over $2,000,000.

Odyssey — Even though the Odyssey is located in Courthouse, it sits high enough that many of the eastern facing units have unobstructed views of D.C. The floor to ceiling windows lend themselves well to you experiencing the view. If you don’t want to pay the premium for a home with a view, you can still enjoy the best views in the building from the rooftop terrace, which is available to all residents. I’m not aware of any one-bedroom units with a D.C. view at Odyssey. The two-bedrooms with a D.C. view have been ranging from $675,000 to over $1,300,000.

Residences at Liberty Center — You may also be surprised by the views that Liberty Center has from Ballston. The rooftop terrace and the upper level, eastern facing units actually have very impressive views of DC. You are just a little farther away than some of the other options on this list. Expect to pay between $500,000 to $800,000+ for a home with a D.C. view.

Monument Place – These impressive five-level townhomes have gorgeous D.C. views from the private rooftop terraces, which you can access with your own elevator. The most recent sale was for $1,775,000 and there is a home currently available for $1,950,000.

Here are some additional condo building where you can occasionally find units with a view: Turnberry Towers, Atrium, Alta Vista, Belvedere, Clarendon 1021, Station Square, Prospect House, Eclipse and Woodbury Heights. I’m sure the commenters will help me out if I forgot any others.

Please keep me in mind for your Fourth of July party…

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

by Ethan Rothstein — June 10, 2014 at 2:30 pm 1,893 0

Ask Adam header

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 own a condo unit (Falls Station in Arlington), not far from the East Falls Church Metro.  Condo values in Arlington have risen from their low point, but they certainly haven’t rebounded.  With the completion of the Tysons-Reston phase of the new Silver Line metro, and work continuing on to Washington Dulles Airport, could we see a corresponding increase in condo values in the EFC area?

For those who are not familiar, the East Falls Church (EFC) Metro station is located in Arlington on the border of Falls Church. It currently serves the Orange Line, but it is scheduled to begin servicing the Silver Line as well. Phase One of the Silver Line will run through McLean, Tysons Corner, Greensboro, Spring Hill and Wiehle-Reston East. Phase two of the project will extend the Silver Line through Herndon, Washington Dulles International Airport and points in Loudoun County.

In addition to the new Silver Line, there are also several mixed use development projects nearby in Falls Church City that will make the area more fun and convenient to live in. Many bicyclists and runners have already found how nice it is living directly on the W&OD trail.

Home buyers that don’t need to be within the Rosslyn to Ballston corridor will find that they can get a little bit more home for their money in the EFC area.

Below are some of the more popular nearby condos:

* Westlee (built in 2006 — recent prices ranging from $370k to $565k)

* Falls Station (built in 1994 — recent prices ranging from $368k to $468k)

* Washington Courts (built in 1979 — no recent sales)

The benefit of the Silver Line to the area is that it opens up Arlington to an additional pool of possible homeowners. There are a lot of jobs in Tysons, Reston and Herndon. There are also a good number of people who have to fly out of Dulles on a frequent basis. Some people are willing to drive back and forth every day, but traffic stinks even if you’re traveling against the grain. Being able to walk to the Metro station and jump on the Silver Line will make living in Arlington a lot more attractive for these commuters.

Will this potential increase in demand result in appreciation around the EFC Metro station?  It’s hard to say for sure, but I think it is certainly possible. We should check back in the fall to see how things are going.

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

×

Subscribe to our mailing list