Arlington, VA

by ARLnow.com Sponsor February 16, 2016 at 3:45 pm 0

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based Realtor and Rosslyn resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: Where do the most problems occur during the home sale process?

I get this question from almost every first time home buyer and seller I work with. They want to know where problems turn up and how to avoid them. The two areas I see causing the biggest issues or delays are the home inspection and financing. Here’s some advice to buyers and sellers on each.

Home Inspection

The purpose of a home inspection is to make sure there aren’t any major problems with the “bones” of the house (foundation, pipes, roof, etc) and ensure the major systems and appliances are operational. In most cases, homes are purchased contingent on a home inspection, meaning the buyer is permitted to make requests of the seller after the inspection and if the buyer and seller cannot come to an agreement, the buyer has the right to walk away from the deal without losing the Earnest Money Deposit.

Buyers: Remember that you are buying a used home (usually). Things will be near or beyond their expected useful life. If the water heater is from 1996, but it’s working well, you can’t expect the seller to buy you a new one. New construction is more expensive for a reason.

Sellers: If something doesn’t work or is broken, you should fix it or offer the buyer a comparable credit. Most homeowners know what problems exist and it’s a good idea to proactively solicit bids so you can move quickly if needed. It’s likely that issues in one inspection will show up in another inspection report, so it’s in your best interest to work hard to compromise with a current buyer instead of letting a deal go and risk facing the same problem(s) with a second buyer.

Financing

A lot has to go right in order for buyers to secure a loan in time to settle. Since 2011, banks have significantly increased the paperwork requirements and scrutiny on borrowers and recent changes by the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) have changed the protocols between lenders and settlement agents, causing difficulties for both parties. Without financing, there’s no deal and if there’s no deal, a buyer’s Earnest Money Deposit may be at risk.

Buyers: Ask your agent for a local lender and a loan officer who is responsive, with a good reputation. Your pre-approval should be based on a detailed review of your financial accounts and include a credit check. Please avoid services that offer “immediate” approvals and don’t require documentation like tax returns or account balances. Finally, do your homework while you’re searching for properties so that you’re ready to select your lender within a day or two of going under contract. When you find a property you love, ask your lender to prepare a few estimate sheets so you’re comfortable with the numbers and the type of loan that works best.

Sellers: Have your agent call the loan officer listed on the pre-approval (submitted by buyer with offer) and ask questions about what they reviewed. This will also give you a sense of how responsive they are. An unresponsive lender makes life tough on the buyer and is a bad sign for you. Ask your agent to check-in with the loan officer occasionally during the financing period to make sure the buyer is cooperating and acting in an appropriate time frame.

Eli Tucker is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington DC, and Maryland with Real Living At Home, 2420 Wilson Blvd #101 Arlington, VA 22201, (202) 518-8781.

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

by Alex Koma March 13, 2019 at 3:30 pm 0

Residents of an affordable housing complex in Arlington Mill could soon get access to free wi-fi, thanks to the county’s own fiber optic network — but is that legal?

It’s a question that vexes broadband experts and legal observers alike, who see the county potentially running afoul of some restrictive state laws, even though the project happens to be in service of a good cause.

The county’s plans for this “Digital Inclusion Initiative” over at the Arlington Mill Residences have attracted new scrutiny as local officials and a team of independent experts have begun studying the “ConnectArlington” dark fiber network.

That group identified a whole host of problems with the county’s management of the program, which was designed to build on Arlington’s existing fiber network to provide high-speed internet to local businesses. The county already uses the network to link its facilities together, and expanded it in 2015.

The experts did not identify any issues with the Arlington Mill project, specifically, in a report they prepared for county staff, but some members of that “Broadband Advisory Committee” told ARLnow that they harbor deep concerns about it. And a survey of other lawyers specializing in telecommunications policy reveals that it’s entirely unclear whether the project’s structure is actually legal under state law.

Arlington officials and attorneys believe they’re perfectly within the bounds of the law with their efforts, and the county held a community celebration to kick off the installation of some internet equipment last month.

Thus far, county leaders have billed it as a pilot project, which could inform other efforts to connect communities that lack access to low-cost internet. Officials are particularly enthusiastic about its potential to connect students living at Arlington Mill with the internet, closing the “homework gap” and helping kids get online and keep up with their increasingly high tech studies.

But, at the very least, experts fear this means that the county has wandered into a confusing legal gray area that could invite future court challenges.

“They’re doing it for the right reasons, and I don’t fault them for it,” said Chris Rozycki, a member of the county’s Broadband Advisory Committee with 30 years of telecom regulatory experience. “But I think they know they’re tiptoeing onto thin ice here.”

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by ARLnow.com Sponsor October 24, 2017 at 12:30 pm 0

This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based Realtor and Rosslyn resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: I came across an article you wrote about how buyers and sellers can avoid the most common problems encountered in a real estate transaction and it made me wonder what some of the most common mistakes are that home owners make when selling that have the biggest impact on their bottom line.

Answer: The biggest mistake a home owner can make when selling their home is not calling me first… kidding (but not really). Below are a handful of the biggest mistakes I see home owners make when selling their home, that have the most impact on their net bottom line. This is not exclusive to homes sold without an agent either. Unfortunately, I see many of the same mistakes on For Sale By Owner (FSBO) homes as I do on listings owners are paying an agent to manage.

Over-Investing In Updates

Choosing the right combination of updates to invest in (or not) to prepare your home for sale has the biggest impact on your net bottom line of any decision you’ll make. I cannot stress the importance of getting this decision right early in the process.

You should only invest in updates that will result in an ROI of greater than 100% or it’s a waste of money and time. Of course you will be able to sell your home for more money if you redo the kitchen and master bathroom, but in most cases, you’ll only get a fraction of your money back, generating a huge net loss for you.

Similarly, don’t spend $10,000 replacing floors, but ignore painting and leave your old brass doorknobs. Selecting the right “package” of updates that will generate the highest ROI is specific to your sub-market, budget, priorities and time of year.

Working with an agent on these decisions who works with both sellers and buyers is critical because they have a strong understanding of how buyers interact with homes during showings and the impact certain updates have on their buying decisions.

Stop Using Amateur Photography

My photographers are some of the most valuable assets I have because the quality of photos can make the difference between drawing heavy traffic and being passed over… Traffic = offers and heavy traffic = multiple offers. Buyers and agents are combing through a lot of homes to decide what is worth seeing in person and the quality of your photos influences that decision more than anything else. Do not take pictures with your cell phone. Do not use an amateur photographer. Do not use a photographer without real estate experience.

Listing On The Wrong Day

It’s Sunday evening… you’ve taken pictures, selected your asking price and spent all weekend cleaning so you’re finally ready to put your beautiful home on the market, make yourself a drink and watch the offers roll in. STOP. There is one day of the week that you should put your home on the market to maximize exposure while minimizing days on market (and two acceptable alternatives), but Sunday evening is not one of them. Feel free to email me to find out which day you should list your property and why.

Stage It… Vacant Or Not

I discussed this in detail earlier this year. It hasn’t changed. Yes, you should hire a staging professional. (more…)

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