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Ask Adam: My Final Article

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — May 26, 2015 at 2:15 pm 1,776 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.

It’s hard to believe that I have been answering your real estate questions here on ARLnow for over three years already.

Writing this column has given me the opportunity to connect with some wonderful people, online and in person. It hasn’t always been easy (especially when on vacation!) to find time to write responses to your questions, but I have always enjoyed the interaction.

This is my last article and though I am going to miss the chance to engage with you on a weekly basis, I hope that you will hold onto my contact information and let me know if there is ever a real estate challenge or opportunity you need help with in the future: [email protected].

I’m happy to know that one of my colleagues, Will Wiard is taking over to answer your real estate questions here on ARLnow. Will brings a wealth of real estate experience (residential and commercial) and he is an Arlington resident like myself. I’ve enjoyed working with Will for several years and I think you will appreciate his fresh perspective.

Thank you for all of your support these last three years and thank you to ARLnow for allowing me to contribute to the best website in Arlington!

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — May 19, 2015 at 3:45 pm 1,216 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’m looking to purchase my next property and am debating about the age of the property and its value. Aside from standard replacement of regular items (roof, appliances, HVAC), how does the year built affect the value of a townhouse or condo? If I buy a townhouse built in the 1980s, it’s fine right now, but when I go to sell it in 30 years, will it be ready to be demolished and rebuilt?

Most of the condos in Arlington are built with cement and steel. I don’t expect them to be ready for demolition in 30 years. The only residential building in Arlington that concerns me is River Place. It has a land lease and is sitting in one of the most prime locations in Arlington. I’m just not sure it has a very long future ahead of it.

There are two things that tend to negatively affect the value of older condos.

  1. The maintenance costs on older buildings is often higher and can push condo fees way above average. If the building has a good long term plan for keeping condo fees low, that is a very good thing.
  2. When finishes of buildings are not kept up-to-date they tend to become less attractive to a large pool of homebuyers. We have all walked into dank smelling condo buildings with gold trim and worn-out carpet. It certainly doesn’t make you want to pay top dollar.

With townhomes you are not subject to all of the shared maintenance costs that go along with condos. It is your responsibility to keep the home in good condition and up-to-date. If you take good care of it, your home should last much longer than 30 years.

D.C. is a great example of an area with plenty of older homes that continue to attract strong interest from home buyers.

As always, you should pay close attention to location. If it is a desirable location for reasons that will last (i.e. walkability or metro), then I expect it will continue to be a desirable home well into the future.

Thank you for this week’s question. Please keep them coming to [email protected]. This is also a great place to reach me for anyone looking to buy or sell a home in the Arlington area.

Ask Adam: Noisy Neighbors

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — May 12, 2015 at 12:30 pm 2,604 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 recently bought a property, and just discovered I live near renters who are there through the Section 8 program. It is a problem: loud music, late-night drinking and partying, open drug use. But they take good care of the property, so the absentee landlord doesn’t care. Is there any recourse for homeowners who are impacted by Section 8 tenants?

A. Dealing with noisy neighbors is not something that really requires my expertise as a real estate broker, but this is the third time I have gotten a question like this so I’ll do my best to answer it.

I don’t think that the tenants being Section 8 is an important detail. Noisy neighbors are noisy neighbors and should be dealt with in a similar manner regardless of whether they are renters or owners. Said differently, there isn’t an additional governing body that is going to be able to assist with this situation because they are Section 8 renters.

Whenever I have had a situation with any of my neighbors, I’ve found that reaching out to them directly was the best path. Most people are reasonable, and, as long as you approach them in a tactful and non-threatening manner, they are usually willing to work with you. Maybe you can get them to share a phone number with you that you can call or text when they start to get too loud.

If that doesn’t work then I would contact your condo association. They likely have rules in place to protect the residents against loud noise after a certain time of day. As a landlord myself, I have received complaints from the condo association before about my tenants. I brought it up to the tenants and it was never a problem again.

If all else fails, you can always report your issue to the police. Nobody likes to go this route, but if it is bad enough then you may have to.

I’m hoping some readers can share any additional advice they have in comments.

Thank you for this week’s question. Please keep them coming to [email protected] This is also a great place to reach me for anyone looking to buy or sell a home in the Arlington area.

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 — May 5, 2015 at 3:45 pm 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. My husband and I are just beginning a search for a single-family house in Arlington and our first steps are to designate the neighborhoods and areas we are interested in (and those we are not). Since we don’t plan on purchasing anything in the next 6-9 months, we aren’t yet working with a Realtor.

We recently visited a nicely updated home in Maywood, which we knew was in a designated historic community. The real estate agent at the open house was helpful in explaining some of the restrictions (mostly exterior limitations). We then heard from another agent from a different open house that Penrose also has restrictions.

I’ve tried to find a list of neighborhoods with restrictions due to historical status and have come up empty. Do you know of a resource that lists the neighborhoods and describes what types of restrictions are in place for each or have you created anything like this you could share?

A. I think it is always a good idea to consider whether your plans for a home are consistent with the neighborhood. Even if there is not a homeowners association or restrictive covenants in place, we can all think of examples where a certain home is very out of place in a neighborhood.

I recall a recent conversation with a neighbor that wanted to make sure my clients weren’t planning to tear down and rebuild the house we were looking at. There technically wasn’t anything to stop them from doing so, but you are usually better off trying to find a location where new homes fit in a little better.

For the purpose of identifying historic neighborhoods, Arlington has a very good website that lists all the historic districts within the county. You can drill down for a wealth of information about the specific designations you are interested in.

The Arlington County list does not include Penrose and I have never heard of any restrictions within that neighborhood. Hopefully, we have some Penrose residents who will provide insight within the comments section of this article. You can also call the county for questions about any neighborhoods you would like more information about: 703-228-3000.

There is a field that listing agents can use within the multiple listing service (MLS) to inform buyers whether or not a property has a historic designation. It is subject to human error so I wouldn’t rely completely on this, but it is an additional tool at your disposal.

Thank you for this week’s question. Please keep them coming to [email protected] This is also a great place to reach me for anyone looking to buy or sell a home in the Arlington area.

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: Errors on Appraisal

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — April 28, 2015 at 1:45 pm 767 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 buying a house and the appraisal just came back. The value they quoted is above the sales price we agreed to, but I noticed a couple errors on the appraisal report.  For one, it listed the basement level bathroom as a half bathroom, but it is actually a full bathroom. Should we report this to the lender and appraiser? 

A. I think that homebuyers get confused sometimes about the purpose of the appraisal. Unlike a home inspection that is in place for the protection of you the buyer, the appraisal is a requirement of the mortgage process to protect the lending institution. You’ll notice that they are the ones who chose the appraisal company.

They want to make sure that if they are going to lend hundreds of thousands of dollars towards the purchase of your new home, that it meets their basic criteria and the value is at least that of your contract sales price.

The appraiser is not performing a separate home inspection, but they are making sure that certain items are in place. They may even check that the appliances and vital systems within the home work properly. The condition of the home should be safe, livable and resellable.  They are comparing the home to similar sales within a defined radius and timeline to determine the value.

Not to get too sidetracked, but appraisals are subjective. You can have 10 appraisers come up with 10 different values. The fact that your particular appraiser determined that the value is above the contract sales price means that you can move forward with the purchase without having to bring extra money to closing or trying to re-negotiate the sales price with the sellers. To learn more about how appraisals and appraisal contingencies work, please see my past article.

If the appraisal had come in low and you had evidence to dispute the appraiser’s sloppy work and miss-evaluation, then I would fully encourage you to challenge the appraisal. In this case there really is not anything to gain by reporting errors to the lender or the appraiser.

If you would sleep better at night having this cleared up then please go ahead and report the discrepancies. Based on what you have shared with me I don’t see how it can do any harm.

Thank you for this week’s question. Please keep them coming to [email protected] This is also a great place to reach me for anyone looking to buy or sell a home in the Arlington area.

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 — April 21, 2015 at 3:30 pm 909 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.

I am taking a break from answering real estate questions this week. Instead, I am turning the column over to Adam Segel-Moss, the Green Building Outreach Coordinator for AIRE and the Arlington County Department of Environmental Services, to talk about LED bulbs and an Earth Day event they are hosting. 

Tomorrow is Earth Day and it’s a good time to reflect on actions that can be taken at home to save money and leave a lighter footprint. There are many actions we can take in our lives to reduce our environmental impacts, but changing a light is one of the easiest (insert joke here about how many Arlingtonians it takes to change a light). This article provides some info from the Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy (AIRE) program and includes details about how to get a FREE LED bulb.

Lights in your home accounts for ~10% of your overall energy bill, according to the Department of Energy. Lighting has come a long way. Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) that were first released in the 1980s were $40 bucks each, had small amounts of mercury, did not work well with dimmer switches, and they didn’t always deliver on their promised lifespan.

Light emitting diode (LED) bulbs have followed a similar path of high costs; but the light quality, color, instant-on, and dimmer capabilities have leapfrogged incandescent and CFL technologies.  LED lights are still expensive, but the price has come down considerably over the last few years and the energy savings and life of the bulb make them worth the investment.

Here are a few tips to help you make sense of the many lighting options on the market today so you can choose the LED bulbs that are right for you.

LED 1Use Lumens, Not Watts

I am very familiar with lighting technology, but even I can get a bit overwhelmed when I walk into the lighting aisle at a big box builder store. We used to have a general sense of how bright a bulb was based on the bulb wattage.  The Federal Trade Commission recently mandated that all light bulb packages will be standardized with new labels which will make it much easier to buy light bulbs. The main indicator on the light bulb package will be “lumens”, which will replace the current “watts”. So no matter what kind of bulb you are interested in, using lumens as a guide will enable you to compare the brightness level each bulb will deliver.

LED 2Choose the bulb color temperature that you prefer

Over the years I’ve learned that people have very different opinions about light color.  Some like white light and others prefer a warmer yellow glow. The color is now noted on the package as temperature in Kelvin.  Use the graphic below to select the light color that you want.

LED lights come in an array of shapes and sizes

Up until now, LED bulbs have looked fairly wonky.  You can now finds LED bulbs in all shapes and sizes, including the ornamental filament style LED bulbs that are all the rage right now.  The LED bulb pictured here uses only ~6 watts, and it dims beautifully.

AIRE Filament LEDGet a FREE LED

You can test out a new LED bulb for FREE.  The Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy will be at the events below to exchange your old incandescent bulb for a new LED bulb.  One LED per household, while supplies last. We hope to see you!

Wednesday, April 22: Crystal City Power Purge and Shred

7:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m., 1900 Crystal Drive

Saturday, April 25: Arlington Courthouse Farmers Market

8:00 a.m.-noon, 14th Street N. and N. Courthouse Road

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 — April 14, 2015 at 2:30 pm 1,683 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’m interested in understanding the basics around how a “tear down and rebuild” scenario works in Arlington. For example, how much does it generally cost, what makes up those costs, and how would the financing work? I’d be interested in exploring this option but am intimidated by what I’m assuming would be a very pricey endeavor. Can you give me a primer and refer me to an online resource for some basics?

A. Your question about cost is difficult to answer from a general perspective as they can vary wildly. The major costs you need to budget for are:

  • Land
  • Site costs
  • Architecture
  • Construction

There are not many lots sitting vacant in the Arlington area, so you are likely looking for a tear down. I recommend working with an agent who specializes in land acquisition. They should be able to help you navigate zoning and setback designations as you are exploring different options. For example, if the house you want to build requires a footprint that is 40 feet wide, you need to make sure the lot is wide enough to accommodate the width of the house and the setback requirements for that particular location.

Site costs usually include such expenses as demolition, utility connection and permitting fees.  These fees may not be included in the construction quotes provided by builders you are talking to. They can easily exceed $25,000 so be sure you are financially prepared.

Architectural costs are going to vary based on the amount of customization you are looking for. Builders usually have models that they can easily tweak for your lot with minimal architecture costs, but the sky’s the limit as far as the amount of customization you can explore. The more you customize, the more expensive these costs will be.

Construction is usually quoted on a cost-per-square-foot basis. I’ve seen these range from $75 to more than $300 per square foot. That number is going to vary by builder. It’s also going to vary based on the size of your home. Because there are a numerous fixed costs in building a home, the cost per square foot tends to be less for larger homes than smaller ones. Another major factor is the level of finishes. Wolf appliances, rare granite and exotic hardwood floors are going to come with an appropriate price tag.

Financing has become a lot friendlier for construction loans.  I’ve seen options that require as little as 10 percent down. They usually offer one loan that can be used for the acquisition of the land (or tear down) and construction costs. You usually start off with an interest only loan based on the amount of money you have drawn against for land acquisition and construction. Then you will convert to non-construction loan when the home is complete.

I’m not familiar with any online resource that would be helpful. In fact, I have often thought about creating a helpful website myself. Maybe one day. In the meantime, I’m happy to connect you with a lender who is knowledgeable about construction loans and some of the best builders in town.

Thank you for this week’s question. Please keep them coming to [email protected]. This is also a great place to reach me for anyone looking to buy or sell a home in the Arlington area.

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 — April 7, 2015 at 2:30 pm 1,109 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 have an old wood burning fireplace that I use often during the colder months. I have it cleaned annually and it is well maintained. I’m thinking of converting to gas. From a resale point of view, which are more attractive to buyers… gas or wood fireplaces?

A. Based on sample of homebuyers I have worked with, they tend to be fairly evenly divided. Some love the charm of a wood burning fireplace while others want the convenience of a gas fireplace. I’ve asked other agents what their experience has been and they agree that it is about 50/50.

Our house came with a gas fireplace that we never use. On the few occasions that we want the ambiance of a fireplace, I wish it was wood burning. That said, if I were using the fireplace to actually heat my home, I would look for something more efficient than a standard wood fireplace.

It really comes down to personal preference and what you plan to use it for, rather than resale value. If you prefer a gas fireplace, I recommend converting it in a way that can be converted back if the future homeowner wants to go with wood. Other options to consider with a gas fireplace:

  • Self-start ignition so you don’t have worry about lighting the pilot and wasting gas when the fireplace is not in use.
  • Vented or ventless fireplace. One of the home inspectors I work with always harps on how he thinks ventless fireplaces pollute the inside of your home. It is worth researching.
  • Pick a style that fits with your home. For example, you probably don’t want to go ultra modern in an older rambler.
  • Compare the efficiency of different models. Some are really just for ambiance while others are relatively efficient at heating your home.

Please send questions to [email protected].  This is also a good place to reach me for any of your home buying and selling needs.

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 — March 31, 2015 at 11:30 am 1,133 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 was a little confused after reading your last article. I always thought that having a higher tax value indicated that my home is worth more money. Your article made it sound like having a lower value is of greater value.

A. Most professionals in the real estate industry realize that tax assessed value (TAV) is a generalization of what a home is worth.

For example, two Colonials built in 1952 may be located right next door to each other. They have the same square footage, number of bedrooms and number of bathrooms. House “A” has been beautifully updated inside and out. It is the picture perfect home.  House “B” has never been updated and has been poorly maintained for the last 63 years. Their TAV may be identical, but the market value is drastically different.

The above scenario is an example of why TAV is not used in determining market value, by real estate agents or appraisers. As mentioned in my last article, most homeowners and homebuyers would prefer to have a home with high market value and low TAV, because it lowers the amount of money they need to pay Arlington County in property taxes. That is why I make the argument that there is market value in having a low TAV.

The other clarification I will point out is that TAV is not the same as appraisal value. They sound similar and are therefore often confused with each other. Appraisal value is determined by professional appraiser, not by the county.

An appraiser typically performs an in-depth study of a home’s current market value. They take into consideration the home’s condition, size, lot, location and features compared to similar home sales. They also apply the current market conditions. In a perfect world, their analysis should provide a very close indication of market value.

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 — March 24, 2015 at 3:30 pm 1,104 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. The tax value that Arlington has for our new house is higher than what we bought it for. We are new to the area and have no idea how to challenge this. Can you please help me get started? 

A. As I’m sure you realize, the tax-assessed value is a major factor in the calculation of your county real estate taxes. If you are successful getting them to lower the value then it has the potential to save you money on taxes for years to come. Because of this savings, a home with a lower tax assessed value should be more valuable to future buyers.

The first step is to contact the Department of Real Estate Assessment appraiser that covered your neighborhood: 703-228-3920. He or she will provide an informal description of how they came to your home’s value. After that conversation, you can submit a formal appeal application.

Your appeal needs to include one of the following:

  1. Proof of a discrepancy used in the county’s evaluation of your home’s value (i.e. they think you have four bedrooms, but you only have three).
  2. You can prove that, during the period of their analysis, similar homes sold for less money than the assessed value. Your real estate agent should be able to help you compile this data.
  3. You can prove that the estimated market value of your home is valid but it was not appraised in a manner equitable with similar properties during the analysis period. I would love to hear an example from anyone who has had luck with this one.

For additional information, I recommend visiting the webpage dedicated to real estate assessment appeals for Arlington county.

Please send future Ask Adam questions to [email protected]

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: Buy or Rent?

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — March 17, 2015 at 12:00 pm 1,539 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. My wife and I dream about purchasing a home in Arlington. Unfortunately, the prices are above our reach. So we put a plan in place to save for a hefty down payment after five years of savings. We pay about $1500 in rent for an apartment. I noticed condos in South Arlington going around $200,000-215,000, which would equal about $1,700 mortgage including a $400 condo fee.

Is it wiser to buy or continue renting? What should I consider beside the mortgage? My thinking strays me to think a condo would be a wise investment given that rent and mortgage payments are about the same and we could build equity with maybe 2-3 percent growth over five years. Also we live in highly populated area/city and five minutes from Washington, D.C. So I’m also thinking about renting instead of selling the condo.

A. I think that 2-3 percent growth over 5 years is very conservative, but that could be a whole other article in itself. I will go ahead and use your projection for our analysis.

I’m assuming that your down payment is 3.5 percent and let’s use a purchase price of $200,000.

  • Estimated principal and interest payment based on a 3.5% interest rate = $867
  • Estimated annual property taxes = $2432 ($202/monthly) *
  • Estimated monthly condo fee = $354*
  • Estimated PMI = $136
  • Total monthly = $1,559

* Based on sample property currently for sale, for $199,000

This is $59 per month higher than the current rent you are paying of $1500.

If the home appreciates by 3 percent over the next five years to $206,000, that is an increase of $6,000. You’ll also pay down about $20,247 towards your loan balance. Deduct the $60 premium you are paying each month above your current rent, which will cost you $3600 during those five years. The net gain over renting is $22,647.

You’ll want to compare that gain to a scenario where you invest your $7,000 down-payment elsewhere. If your $7,000 can make more being invested elsewhere then you may want to consider a different direction if this is purely a financial decision.

Please note that this is a very simple analysis. There are much more intricate applications you can use online that will take into account maintenance costs, inflations, tax savings, etc.

I like your idea of holding on to the condo as a rental once you are ready to move out. If you can afford to do that, I think it will make a nice addition to your investment portfolio. The longer you have the mortgage, the more rapid your payoff of the loan balance will become.

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 — March 10, 2015 at 2:30 pm 1,755 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. When a house is for sale and has a finished attic that didn’t apply for a permit from the county, how should you proceed with the sale?

A. It sounds like you are the purchaser. What I don’t know is how far along you are with the transaction. If you have not written an offer yet, then you will have to evaluate whether you want to purchase a house with major modifications that do not have permits.

It’s risky from the standpoint that Arlington County could require this work to be permitted at a later date. You may also want to consider the possibility of safety risks considering that the work was never reviewed by a third party.

During your value analysis you should not include the attic space as living area. You may also want to deduct some value due to the risks mentioned above.

If this is something you discovered during the home inspection and you have a full home inspection contingency in place, you have three primary options.

  1. You can move forward with the home in its current condition,
  2. You can cancel the contract and request a refund of your earnest money deposit,
  3. Or, you can request that the sellers apply for and complete permitting prior to closing.

You are going to have a tough time with option number three especially if you are planning to settle within the next month.

If you no longer have a home inspection contingency in place, then I don’t think the standard NVAR contract provides you with any leverage in this situation. I would recommend consulting an attorney to explore your options.

Please send your questions to [email protected]

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 — March 3, 2015 at 3:30 pm 973 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 [email protected]

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: [email protected]

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

Ask Adam Real Living header

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 [email protected]

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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