Thursday, April 28, 2011

March/April 2011 Update from NVAR hits the nail on the head.

An article in the most recent issue of "Update" by the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors hits the nail on the head in regards to our national ecomony: "The revival of housing is essential for sustained economic growth as we head into 2011." by Lisa Sturtevant (George Mason University Ph D assistant research professor) is an insightful look at the role of housing in the nations economic recovery. For the full article please go to:

Briefly, since 1947 the total amount spent on housing (i.e. Total housing expenditures) has accounted for roughly 20% of GDP. What is the Total Housing expenditure % of GDP in 2010 for housing? A mere 2.4%!

How can this be? After all the bailout $$ for banks, foreclosures and shortsales it doesn't seem possible. The truth of the matter is that a significant number of homeowners are still underwater (they owe more than house is worth) and/or they paid more than the house is worth and/or they added improvements far beyond today's market value.

Northern Virginia's real estate market is faring well in relation to the rest of the country. Let's be frank though, it could be doing a whole lot better. Many buyers & sellers are sitting on the fence-

waiting for the momentum to build. Look at this chart on New Housing starts:

What is preventing the housing recovery? Many factors I suppose. The article above does not address these issues. One solid factor that is of great concern to every loan officer, realtor and buyer & seller out there--the often times too conservative direction the loan underwriting standards have taken.

A housing bubble was created when the underwriting standards became absurdly lax.

The reaction to this bubble bursting has been severe by Congress, the banks and mortgage investors. Once again the pendulum is swinging too far in the opposite direction. There are many well qualified buyers out there with excellent credit that want to purchase a home.

Why are they sometimes denied loans? For many reasons is the reality of the situation. Little glitches that push their individual circumstances( or the property itself) off the bell curve if you will. Is loan denial the answer?

If various institutions had not been pressured to make home ownership affordable to all, if mortgage investors had not reduced underwriting standards to practically zilch (low doc, no doc, option arms etc), if banks had not entered the subprime market with reckless abandon would we be at this point today?

Probably not. I believe it is the duty of our government to encourage the banks and mortgage investors to establish reasonable standards of qualification for all ready, willing and well qualified buyers out there so our country can get on with the business of competing in a global economy.

Eventually, the housing market will recover yet why prolong the stagnation by instituting more unreasonableness?

For those in the process of securing a loan I wish you smooth sailing through the process. Home pricing and mortgage interest rates are certainly in your favor...and the dream of the United States will hopefully live on!


Carla Brooks

PS Most photos are courtesy of

PPS If you, or anyone you know is thinking about buying or selling a home call me today for your real estate transaction. I am here to earn your business and your trust and I treat every transaction as if it were my own!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Three Questions Most Buyers Have

The latest issue of Realtor magazine published by the National Association of Realtors explores the fundamental questions most buyers ask.

1.Does buying make better sense than renting?

It depends on the reason one wants to buy a home to begin with. If the decision is purely financial then we would need a crystal ball to foretell the future in terms of appreciation and so forth.

Yet the reasons for owning a home are rooted in far more than the financial aspect of the actual purchase of one. Homeowners are thirsting for a safe, secure place to raise and educate their families.

They desire lots of space to feel comfortable in and they want to have control over their lives.

They don't want to be subject to the whim of a landlord giving 30 days notice to vacate, monitoring all decorating projects and prohibiting pets.

Buyers deciding whether to rent or buy need to examine their wants, needs and motivations and plans for the future.

2. When will Appreciation occur if I do buy?

Appreciation varies by market. There is plenty of information out there regarding the Northern Virginia real estate prices over the decades and particularly over the last 6 years. The Washington DC area was set to see a 3% price increase in 2011 according to local economic authorities. Keep informed of the latest news and long term trends.

3. Why should I buy now if prices could fall?

Falling prices are always a possibility. Cost should be the concern to the buyer. This would encompass the mortgage interest rate as well. Waiting for prices to bottom out while interest rates are rising could cost one more in the long run.

Hope this answers some of your questions, I am always available if you have more questions!

If you, or someone you know would like to buy or sell a home I am here to earn your business. I treat every transaction as if it were my own...

Carla Brooks

PS all photos courtesy of:

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Do you have the "Clutch"?

The current issue of "Realtor" magazine published by the National Association of Realtors has a short interview with the New York Times columnist Paul Sullivan regarding the book "Clutch".

First, the definition of Clutch is defined as the "ability to do under pressure what you do under normal circumstances." Pressure is not considered a "normal" state.

The "Clutch" can be applied to any profession: law, business, real estate etc.

Paul Sullivan maintains that five traits are necessary to have the "clutch". These are



being present:

and the push and pull of fear and desire:

And the importance of each are in the order presented.

The following personality tendencies can jeopardize the "Clutch": Overconfidence:


and lack of responsibility to own up to failure:

If you are looking for a good book to read this might be a good one to rev up one's confidence for the coming year.

If you'd like to make your real estate dreams come true call me today. I'm here to earn your business and I treat every transaction as if it were my own.

Carla Brooks

PS all photos are from

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

May I suggest?

Running on empty? No time for a good meal? May I suggest a Cliff Bar?

Great for athletes as well.....

Hint: White Chocolate Macadamia Nut is irresistable!

Carla Brooks

PS Have a great day and if you or someone you know wants to buy or sell a home give me a call today. I am here to earn your trust and your business....and I treat every transaction as if it were my own!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Was Home ownership for all really the goal of the lending institutions?

An interesting point regarding the ongoing financial crisis

is explored in "All the Devils are Here" by Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera

in the latest issue of Realtor by the National Association of Realtors.

The authors debate the notion that "home ownership" had everything to do with this crisis plaguing the global economy today.

In a nutshell:

With all the confusion permeating the real estate market over the last 5 years regarding foreclosures, bank owned properties and short sales it has often been said that sub prime lending and policies created by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were in the name of giving everyone a chance to be homeowners. Yet, as we know, a huge percentage of sub prime loans (75%) were refinances not purchase loans. These loans had nothing to do with "home ownership" other than the fact that the borrowers used the real estate as collateral to obtain the loans.

This refinance money was used for many purposes that had nothing to do with real estate and homes. Refinance loans were used to pay off credit card debt, purchase vehicles, finance college educations purchases of furniture and other consumer products.

So, in essence, the refinance loans were used to fuel public debt and consumer spending , not promote home ownership.

These are interesting thoughts that deserve consideration as public policy will be formed in the coming years regarding the mortgage industry and the role of government regulation in protecting the economy and the consumer. Lets hope we can all take a leadership role in formulating policy on the local and state levels first. We all need to be involved. Send an email or letter to your local politicians and leaders today!

Anyway, some lessons to be learned by all of us are the lessons taught over and over to many of us in grade school through high school, by our parents and church leaders:

1. Money doesn't buy happiness

2. Greed knows no bounds

3. We can live quite happily on alot less

4. Taking time to smell the roses and be thankful for what we do have can be a very therapeutic experience

5. There is great power in communicating our thoughts and concerns to our local and national
politicians on a regular basis.

and last but not least,

6. Home ownership is a good thing. Home ownership has enabled many Americans to provide a great future for their families and finance their retirement years by building wealth over a long period of time. Long live Homeownership!!

The challenges our country faces are enormous, yet I believe we are up to the task, as long as we all chip in and help!

Your thoughts?

Best regards,

Carla Brooks

PS photos courtesy of and

PPS If you or someone you know would like to purchase or sell a home call me today for expert real estate assistance. I am here to earn your business and I treat every transaction as if it were my own!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Tysons Central-Long & Foster Real Estate Inc.

What makes up a real estate office? Who works there and what do they do to make the buying and selling of real estate safe and enjoyable for you? This is our office view from Gallows Road and

Our suite is on the first floor...straight ahead. Through the front doors....

..... to our reception area. We have free wireless connectivity for all wishing to multitask while you are here.

Our office "broker" is Kathleen Kennedy. She has a wealth of information and knowledge and experience to bring to the agents who practice at this location:

We have regularly scheduled tours of "Broker Open Houses" to keep up with market pricing and condition of homes.

Kathleen is terrific and "hands on" when it comes to being a "second set of eyes" for reviewing our ratified contracts and listing agreements. Two heads are better than one as the saying goes.

She is famous for her "Broker Brown Bag" sessions. (BBB's) They are held in our conference room:

and we cover material relevant to the real estate business. There appears to be no shortage of changes in short sales, bank sales, listing agreements, the Northern Virginia Sales Contract and so forth. We, as agents, have to keep up with these changes as well as legislative changes in the State of Virginia. As our office broker, Kathleen keeps us up to "snuff" on it all.

Velma, our receptionist, will greet you at the front desk with a smile every time, and make sure your communications get to us promptly!

Donna Wong, our office manager, coordinates all our listings, contracts & closings. She has managed Tysons Central for many years and we rely on her experience and ability to keep information flowing in the right direction.

Christina, our assistant office manager also doubles as a receptionist:

Carl Lesher, with Home Service connections, coordinates all our referral contractors. Need a home repair? Call Carl at our office number to connect you with the right contractor !

So do stop by.... enjoy "a cup a" while we listen to your real estate plans.

And remember, parking is "free" and plentiful. I've never seen the lot without many spaces available for visitors.... We make it easy for you and we don't bite!

The best to you today!
Carla Brooks

PS All the photos that are not of the office are a courtesy of

PPS. If you, or anyone you know, would like to buy or sell a me today. I am here to earn your business!