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Archive for the 'Wednesday’s Blog – Buying a Home' Category

Second Homes – Now is the Time to Buy

Hi! Tax Day – it’s a great time for a blog post about more tax deductions!

Have you ever considered buying a second home? A retreat from the busier lifestyle of the DC area? An investment? Well, now is a great time to buy. As a second home and Virginia countryside expert, I talk with people all the time about what will work for them.

Virginia Horse Farm

First, let’s talk about why to buy at all. You have probably seen your current or past primary home increase in market value. This added to your wealth, right?
Buying a second home gives you another way to invest in your future while enjoying the home (if it is a getaway for you) and benefitting from the tax breaks.

Why buy now? Mortgage rates are hovering around 4%. At one time not terribly long ago, they were double, and not too long before that double that double – in the teens!
Secondly, more baby boomers and others who have the desire and financial ability are expected to continue entering the second home market. This drives prices up. Avoid paying more money! Buy now before homes increase in price and you cannot afford as much house or perhaps cannot afford one at all. And before the availability of existing homes decreases and you have less to choose from. For instance, there is a shortage of older farmhouses in the Virginia countryside already.

There are so many options to choose from across the US and the world. And right in your own back yard where there is the ocean, some lakes, rivers, mountains and stunning countryside.
Whatever your preference, one recommendation is to consider how often you will use it and whether or not you will rent it out. You wil also want to consider:
1. How do I spend my free time now?
2. How much travel time would be the maximum I would want to spend to get to and from the home?
3. How often would I use the home?
4. How much maintenance is required or would I be willing to do?
5. What cost of owning the home is agreeable to me?
6. Do I want to enjoy the home seasonally, in more than one or in all seasons?
7. Does the area I am considering buying in have a growth history and /or a stable price sales history?

So, why is buying a second home a great financial investment? Often, when you or anyone buys a home, you borrow money to do so. It is referred to as “leverage.” For example, say you buy a $300,000 second home with a 20% down payment. And then suppose that the property increases in value a modest 5% per year. At the end of the first year of your ownership, the home will be worth $315,000. You have earned $15k on your investment of $60K, an increase of 25%! Isn’t that an impressive return on your money?

Do keep in mind that second homes are considered a luxury and can sometimes be a volatile market to buy in. So, get Realtor who helps you to buy wisely. Not every second home is a wise or good buy. Always invest with the current market in mind and also think of resale. Determine or project how long you will or might own it and whether or not you will make any improvements or corrections to it while you own that may increase its value.

Next – Tax Breaks – yes!

Here is a list:
1. Mortgage interest may be tax deductible depending on your use of the home, just as interest payments are on the mortgage of your primary home.
2. Property taxes – ditto on no.1.
3. Used an equity line to buy? This may be tax deductible also.
4. Renting at all: If you have used it to rent out, you may be able to deduct some expenses including depreciation, if the government considers your home to be a “vacation home.”
Ask your accountant about the distinct government regulations of claiming a home as a second home or vacation home. She can advise you on the government’s definition which has to do with the number of days you use the home for a rental vs the number that you enjoy it yourself as a vacation home. Possible other specifications. Find out the distinct guidelines. Make the numbers work well for you, if you can by adjusting the days you rent it vs. spend there yourself.

Again, as a second home and Virginia countryside expert – and a land and homeowner in Rappahannock County – I talk with people all the time about what will work for them and what they will enjoy. Reach out to me for a free consultation. Let us show around and show you some homes in the Virginia countryside or elsewhere. It will be our pleasure.

Have a great day and a wonderful summer!


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New to Market in DC – Columbia Heights – DC Rocks too!

New to Market in DC – Columbia Heights – DC Rocks too!


Join us this Sunday at our open house for our new listing at 1401 Columbia Rd., N.W. It’s 1-4pm.

We have just finished renovations on unit 305. It is gorgeous. Take a look here!

See complete pics and even an HD Video

See complete pics and even an HD Video

We hope to see you this Sunday, March 29th, 1-4pm!


The Columbia Heights Gem

The Columbia Heights Gem

orig_09Columbia Rd_PK_3036858

orig_10Columbia Rd_PK_3036860

Stonegate Townhome Listed Today! Alexandria Rocks, too! Open House 3/22.

Stonegate Townhome Listed Today!
Alexandria Rocks, too! Open House 3/22!

Hi! We just listed a stunning townhome in Alexandria in the fabulous area of Stonegate. It is the most beautiful home I have ever seen here.

This luxurious home is completely and elegantly renovated for your turnkey move-in. The floorplan has over 12 ft. ceilings on the main and master bedroom levels, gleaming hardwood floors, a unique, wonderful two-level master suite with loft spa bath – and so much more – to charm and please the distinguishing buyer. The new kitchen just sparkles and has the conveniences of well thought out pull-out storage, beautiful stainless steel appliances and more-than-ample cabinets.

Please come see this incredible home and us this Sunday 1-4pm. Priced at $572,000. Here is a sneak preview!

2440 Garnett's Living Room

2440 Garnett’s Living Room

2440 Garnett Dr., Alexandria, VA 22311

See more at

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Moving Tips For Arlington, VA, and Elsewherre

Moving Tips For Arlington, VA, and All Home Buyers


If you plan on moving to a new home or rental, here is a brief video I produced to help you with some clever moving tips.

I hope you found it helpful. Please let me know if you would like more tips or even a referral to an excellent moving company. I have tracked the ratings by my clients of the movers they like, including the ones that I refer them to and they use, and can share what they have to say.

Moving to a new home

Moving to a new home

Having sold a lot of homes, we have many clients who have moved. I know how nerve-wracking it can be. Like all we do for our clients, we like to take as much stress as possible off of our clients’ shoulders every step of the way. We hope this helps make your move easier. Have a great day!



Top 2 Ways to Buy Your First Home with Less Work and Less Money

Top 2 Ways to Buy Your First Home with Less Work and Less Money


When buying your first home in Arlington – or anywhere – there are some fundamental things to put into place to help you get the best home possible for you with the least effort on your part and for the smallest amount of bucks out of your pocket. Here goes!

1. Have a plan. The key components of this are timing, money and who.

-When do you want to buy, and what is this based on? Can there be flexibility in the timing? Flexibility is one of the keys to having more negotiating power when making an offer.

-Where is the money for the purchase coming from? If a loan, get a referral from your agent. They know the best ones. Service to get you to closing, not just a great rate, is important. You need to close on the house in the time you have agreed to in your contract with the seller, so you are not in default. When you say you will buy it on a certain date, the lender needs to make sure all flows well and you can close on that date, with certainty!

A Top Notch Buyer Representative saves you time and money.

A Top Notch Buyer Representative saves you time and money.

-Who is going to lead you to success? Choosing a Buyer Representative is important. A study showed that buyers consider buying a house for an average of 13 months before they select a Realtor. And then guess how long they take to select a Buyer Representative? Only 1 week. And it’s such an important decision to make. What this leads the experts to believe is that, for the most part, not a lot of thought is put by buyers into selecting a great agent, and one that will work well with a buyer’s needs and personality. Some buyers choose to work with the first agent that they meet in public. It’s highly recommended to choose one wisely.

2. Reduce your time spent on searching and buying. Time is money – imagine considering to buy a house and then the interest rates increase to a point that you cannot buy the house you want? Wouldn’t that be a bad thing?

The best time reduction technique or choice is to get an agent to represent you 6 months to a year out from when you want to buy. Let them do the work!

I hear every week from buyers, when I am out in the field working, that they are just checking things out and online, figuring out what they want to buy and where before engaging an agent. That they do not want to “waste” an agent’s time early on to help them determine this.

One, if they help you through the process and work with you until closing, they are paid by the seller when you close on your house. It is their choice as to how they plan to use their time in their business. No skin off their teeth, as the saying goes, huh?

Two, a great agent can determine your needs and wants with a great complimentary consultation in an hour or less.

There is no substitute for a top notch Buyer Representative. If you decide to do the work early footwork of what you think it takes to get started by yourself – which might be ill-informed by online information or what someone might tell you – no fault of your own, this takes a lot of time and work. The information that you find online, that you might elect to use as resources, can be incomplete, incorrect and not up to date. Can one believe all they read on the internet? Note that none of the real estate portals that the public has access to are real time. That’s why perhaps you showed up for an open house that was listed in the MLS as being open, and the unit had since gone under contract and the open house was canceled. Not fun, especially if you planned your day around it – or there was freezing rain – like buyers told me last weekend when this happened to them.

More on timing: There is work that needs to be done to establish your ability to buy a house. For instance, perhaps there is an erroneous item that shows up on your credit report and it takes time to get it removed before you can have a lender look at your true credit score and thereby get the best loan rate possible. A higher rate often means that you will not be approved for as expensive of a house.

I hope this was helpful! If you would like a complimentary hard cover book that we at Keller Williams have designed just for first time home buyers, please let me know. Or ask questions, and I will be delighted to help! Have a great day!


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