Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Where is everyone moving?

Here is an interesting map of the country depicting where folks are moving to and from:

The blue states are the ones with positive population moving in
The yellow states are losing residents
The red states are static

This map if from this blog: http://www.kcmblog.com/2012/01/27/where-are-people-moving-to-and-from/

If you'd like to make the most of your real estate experience call me today, I will treat your transaction as if it were my own!


Carla Brooks

Monday, January 30, 2012

Why use a licensed Realtor?

According to the lastest statistics reported by NAR, more buyers are using an agent than ever before for their home purchases.

Realtors are, after all, licensed professionals, with the education and expertise to guide one through perhaps the biggest purchase of a lifetime.  They have access to  a broad range of properties and search parameters that can save one time and money at the end of the day.  They can explain the pros and cons of lifetstyle choices (Condo vs single family home).

Realtors network with the builder community and can often guide the buyer to the up and coming neighborhoods.  They can simplify the process of buying a home by setting up showings, driving the buyers to appointments and handling the negotiations.

If you'd like to make the most of your real estate experience call me today, I will treat your transaction as if it were my own!


                                                 Carla Brooks

PS All photos are a courtesy of http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

6 Things that will go up in price in 2012

Just when we thought that life couldn't get more expensive CNN is predicting rising prices on 6 items in 2012.

These items include:
1. Airfare

Airlines are committed to reducing the number of flights to popular destinations.  They are concentrating on lean mean operating budgets.  By limiting supply the prices are sure to rise.
2. mail

Due to financial troubles the US Post Office will raise prices on January 22nd for the 1st class postage stamp and also reduce delivery times and days.  Forever stamps are a plus though since they are good forever and stamp prices normally rise only once a year.

3. meat

Increased demand on top of rising fuel costs will most likely result in higher costs for quality meat products.

 4. fish


5. coffee

Coffee prices have risen steadily in 2011.  Starbucks is in the process of raising prices on their coffee products.  

6. Gas

Due to strained relations in the Middle East and the possible closure of a Delaware refinery, fuel costs are certain to rise.  High unemployment and economic woes will keep demand from rising significantly. 

The good news is the economy appears to be plugging along and consumers are spending once again.  Including buying homes!

If you'd like to make the most of your real estate experience, call me today, I will treat your transaction as if it were my own....



PS  All photos are a courtesy of http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Most Important Question Sellers should ask a Potential Listing Agent

There are many opinions on how to interview a potential listing agent.  The one thing that resonates at any given time and in any given market is attitude!

The potential listing agent must be up on the current market vibes.  No doubt about it.  If now is the time to buy (and finally many experts are agreeing it is) then your agent must have that can do attitude and be able to relay their attitude to the potential buyers and their agents.

Why is this so important?  Because many buyers are reluctant to move forward with the purchase.  As an agent I am aware of this reluctance.  The statistics on how many contracts fall thru versus how many go to closing is an issue.  We'd like to see all contracts go to closing.  Writing a contract is a time consuming process.  So is the home inspection.  Home inspections, radon inspections, septic inspections and well inspections etc. are also expensive.  As an agent, I want this to be a successful experience for every buyer out there.  Many times, though it is not.  One reason is that the loan for the buyer is rejected.  Another reason is that the buyer gets "cold feet".  Listening to the reports on the economy,

 or a co-worker who bought a distressed property for next to nothing --all these fear factors enter into the process.

The buyers in 2012 need to focus on the current day Multiple Listing statistics and take their cue from there:

The only news thats relevant to today is whats happening now and whats predicted for the future.  There is no crystal ball and living in the past will not make for good decision making today.

So while you are interviewing your potential listing agent for the job of selling your home, remember to ask them what their future expectations are concerning the real estate market today.... Remember its a good market, and recommendations on what to do depend on your individual situation.....

If you'd like to make the most of your real estate experience call me today, I will treat your transaction as if it were my own....

Best regards,



PS all photos are a courtesy of http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Its time to buy! By John R Talbott

The same man that predicted the global economic crisis is now advising buyers to get out and buy today.

John R Talbott is the author of "How I Predicted the Global Economic Crisis: The most amazing book you'll ever read".  In a recent article in the Huffington Post Business Section Talbott outlines the reasons why he feels that buyers should get out and buy now.

The first reason he maintains is that today's prices relative to peak prices are at a point that are very attractive to consumers.  In most cities the going prices are down 10%-60% from the peak housing prices which puts them at 1997 levels--before all the crazy lending practices came into practice.  In some areas the very choice housing has not come down much and probably never will.  For the purposes of Northern Virginia, 2003 pricing seems to be pretty much the average.

The second reason Talbott gives for buying now is the pricing relative to construction costs and replacement costs.  In many cities across the country the price per square foot is around $60 to $80 a square foot.  This is much less than it would cost to build the same home today.

The third reason Talbott gives is the current home pricing relative to Income and Rents.  In the peak of the housing boom, some homes were selling for as much as 11 times the average income level.  Most mortgage programs today are allowing mortgages at 3 to 4 times the salary of the applicant.  This is in line with the wages paid and many times a property purchased today can offer positive cash flow immediately with the hope of future appreciation to be earned by the homeowner/investor.  This is all positive news.

The fourth reason Talbott gives is the home pricing relative to US Treasury and future Inflation.  Why value homes in US dollars he maintains when the US dollar has fallen 98% in purchasing power relative to gold?  Why not value homes in units of gold?  One could argue that gold is overpriced (at an all time high) yet Talbott argues that golds purchasing power had remained stable over time while the dollar is depreciating and more volatile.

Interestingly enough the spring market is appearing very early in Northern Virginia this year.  The weather has been relatively mild and Open Houses are packed with potential buyers out looking for their dream homes.  

If you're thinking of listing your home this spring consider doing so soon.  Why not?  The buyers are out and about and interest rates are very attractive.  This is particularly important if you are looking to purchase a replacement property.

If you'd like to make the most of your real estate experience call me today.  I will treat your transaction as if it were my own....

Carla Brooks

PS All photos are a courtesy of http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Should buyers avoid Short sales?

This question is one that many buyers out there are contemplating at this very moment.  Short sales are not a sure thing when it comes to getting ratified and going to closing.  The bank is in control on the price and condition and settlement date.  For these reasons many buyers avoid short sales.  Many buyers cannot remain flexible and up in the air on the settlement date.  They must have a specific timeline to follow and be able to rely on the dates.  The short sale is not for this buyer.

Yet, if a seller is short selling for the right reasons and under the right conditions, there is no reason why buyers should not consider the short sale home versus a regular sale provided they have the flexibility to roll the dice and take their chances should the property not close in a timely manner or not at all.

The seller should be in a position of having to sell.  Foreclosure must be imminent to the seller or they should not be short selling.

 The seller must also have a particular hardship that is placing them in the short sale position.  This could be job loss, divorce, health issues and so forth.   On top of being underwater (they owe more than the property is worth), they must be able to prove that they are financially unable to pay off their mortgage with other assets.  If all these reasons apply to the seller, there is every reason to believe that the sale will be successful.

Each bank is different on how they deal with the short sale process.  And of course, more than one loan on the property complicates the situation a bit more.

With 30% of all real estate transactions being short sales, it is worth considering these properties as possibilities.

If you'd like to make the most of your real estate transactions, call me today, I will treat your transaction as if it were my own....

                                            Carla Brooks

PS All photos are a courtesy of http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

Monday, January 9, 2012

Have you finished Winterizing your Home?

Northern Virginia has had a mild winter so far.  Yet, chances are pretty good that the temperatures will dip down again soon.  Preventing heat loss and frozen pipes is the goal of Winterizing your home.

Remember to repair/replace/install weather stripping around drafty doors and windows.

Have your Heating system checked, cleaned and change the filter.  Most filters are supposed to be changed monthly.  Some last longer.

Does your home have gas?  Make sure your monoxide detectors are working.

Clean your gutters and downspouts of debris to prevent clogs in your drainage system.

Have you had your chimney cleaned and inspected so its safe to use this winter?  Call a technician today if you haven't.

And don't forget to turn off the outside water spickets (and drain them).

Hope your home is safe this winter.

If you'd like to make the most of your real estate experience call me today,   I will treat your transaction as if it were my own....


PS all photos are a courtesy of  http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

Thursday, January 5, 2012

2012 Real Estate Trends

1.  More Buyers will appear in the market in 2012 than have appeared in the last 6 years.  This is because the economic conditions in the country will continue to improve.  There is alot of pent up demand for housing in that many buyers have been sitting on the fence and waiting for the right moment to buy.  They will see the favorable interest rates and softening housing prices as a signal to buy in 2012.

2.  Foreclosures will rise since the "robo signing" fiasco halted many foreclosure proceedings in 2010.  Distressed properties sell for less than market value so this foreclosure trend will adversely affect the non-distressed property values.

3.  Housing prices will soften as a result of the increase in foreclosures.

4.  Since housing prices will soften, there will be more short sales created by the "negative equity".  Banks will probably ease up on the short sale process to expedite the sale of distressed properties and keep their costs down.

5.  2012 will be a great year for real estate sales and restore the consumer confidence in owning vs renting.

If you want to make your real estate dreams come true, call me today.  I am ready to assist you in any way I can.  I will treat your transaction as if it were my own....

Carla Brooks
email: brkslong@aol.com

PS all photos are a courtesy of free digital photos 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Cleaning the Green Way

What are the ingredients one should keep on hand to keep their home spotless the environmentally conscious way?

Most lists would include:

Baking Soda
White Vinegar
hydrogen peroxide
Essential Oils
Castille Soap
Fresh herbs, citrus peels
Olive oil or vegetable oil

and of course:

For those of you with septic systems it is wise to avoid the toxic cleaners altogether to keep your system is top notch shape.  That would include not washing paint brushes in the sink since the paint residue can harm your septic system.

If you'd like further information on cleaning green please go to Apartment Therapy's web site  (http://www.apartmenttherapy.com).  Every January they do a great job of organizing your cleaning regimes for you!

If you'd like to make the most of your real estate experience call me today, I will treat your transaction as if it were my own...


                                                 Carla Brooks

ps the photos used are a courtesy of : http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Most Worthwhile Improvements

Is installing energy efficient windows the single most energy efficient upgrade to make for your home?  Not necessarily, according to many experts.  Windows are expensive to replace and heat loss from drafty windows ranks behind other culprits.  So you may want to delay window replacement until other upgrades are done.

Take your attic insulation for example.  Ceilings, many experts maintain, are the single greatest  loss of heat in a home.  Why not increase your attic insulation and/or upgrade the type of insulation that currently exists?  This new insulation installation is reasonable in price and will go along way in preserving heat inside your home.

In addition, consider an upgrade to your current ductwork and furnace.  Furnace systems made in the last 5 years are vastly superior to what was installed in the 70's and 80's.  Upgrading your furnace system (and ductwork if applicable) can save hundreds of dollars a year in heating and cooling costs and provide a more comfortable home to live in.  There might even be tax incentives to take advantage of when purchasing a new energy efficient system so remember to check with your accountant at tax preparation time.

Check out  Programmable thermostats.  They are a great way to save on heating and cooling costs so it would be worth the time to research the latest models.  They range in price from $80 to $500+.

If you'd like to make the most of your real estate experience, call me today, I will treat your transaction as if it were my own....

Best regards,


PS the photos used in this post are a courtesy of:  http://www.freedigitalphotos.net