Is Section 8 a Boon or is it Detriment?

I do an inordinate amount of Section 8/Voucher deals.  For the uninformed, these voucher programs are meant to be a step up for the holders of said vouchers.  The idea is simple, lower income clients apply for a housing voucher thru their county and eligible clients will receive some type of financial assistance based on need.  Depending on the county can be anywhere between $1800-$4000 in some cases.

Now $4000 sounds like a big number (and it is), indeed I know people with $5000 mortgage payment and yet the county is giving this money away for clients to RENT a home, yes RENT a home–gain no equity, and all that goes with it.  You’re probably thinking to yourself ‘why don’t these people just buy a home?’  If it were that simple I swear I would have them all do that.  Unfortunately many of these client just won’t qualify for a traditional mortgage.  Their income won’t suffice, their credit score is not sufficient, etc.

These people still have the right to have a nice home.  Wouldn’t you agree?  That’s where I come in.  Unlike many Realtors, I will work with these clients.  My rationale is everyone deserves to have a home, and it’s my job to help them find that home.

Here are the issues.  There is a stigma with vouchers, as I mentioned before most (99%) voucher client look at it as a ‘step up’ or ‘helping hand,’ they go to work, they raise their kids and pay their bills.   There is that 1% that has ruined it for everyone else who have done exactly what you’re not supposed todo–not pay their portion of the rent, trash the house, and just be a general terror to a landlord.  These clients are the ones who have ruined it for everyone else.

The voucher program is guaranteed money into the landlord’s bank account every month without fail.  The landlord doesn’t ever have to worry about a late rent payment.  The county does periodic inspections of the properties to insure they are habitable.  For the most part, ever so small details which we my overlook for ourselves aren’t things the county overlook.  On the opposite side, if the client isn’t taking care of the home they can also help to get the client back in line by giving then notice that upkeep has to be improved.

That all being said, I believe that Section 8, Voucher programs in general are a good thing. What do you think?

2017 Christmas Events in Northern Virginia

Northern Virginia is a wonderful place to celebrate Christmas as many cities host special holiday events from small town Christmas tree lighting ceremonies to holiday parades, holiday market, tours to lively holiday music. The whole family can enjoy a wide selection of Christmas events and activities. Here are a few events guide to help you enjoy the season and make this year one to remember. Be sure to take some time out to make some special Christmas memories with your family.
City of Fairfax 1st Annual Holiday Market: December 15th – 17th
The City of Fairfax starts a new holiday tradition with an Old Town holiday market, during the first three weekends of December. Enjoy live holiday music, drinks and gourmet treats and more while you shop for crafts and unique holiday gifts. Vendors schedule will vary each weekend. Friday 5:00pm – 9:00pm, Saturday 10:00am – 6:00pm, and Sunday 1:00pm – 5:00pm.
Alexandria Del Ray Fine Art & Craft Holiday Market: December 15th -17th
Del Ray Artisans’ annual Holiday Market offers unique handmade fine arts and crafts from local artists, and features different artists each weekend. Choose from wall art, pottery, photography, jewelries, glass, and more. The market is open Fridays at 6:00pm – 9:00pm and weekends at 11:00am – 6:00pm.
Alexandria Christmas Illumination at Mount Vernon: December 15th -16th
Join Mount Vernon for an evening of family-friendly fun and fireworks choreographed to holiday music. Take a stroll through the estate while being serenaded by local choirs and learn 18th-century dance moves from costumed guides in the Greenhouse. Fee of $34/$24 adult/youth with mansion tour at 5:30pm – 9:00pm.
Arlington National Cemetery Wreaths Across America: December 16th
Join other volunteers in laying wreaths on headstones at Arlington National Cemetery. There is no sign-up required, no age limit, just show up if you would like to participate. Gates open to volunteers at 8:30am but screening begins at 7:00pm and wreath-laying begins at 9:15am.
Leesburg Animal Park Christmas Village:  December 15th-16th, December 22nd -23rd
Leesburg Animal Park in Loudoun celebrates December weekends at 6:00pm – 9:00pm with a nativity scene with live animals, pony rides, animal encounters, holiday crafts, a bonfire, holiday lights and more. Fee of $9.95 and free for two and under. 
Alexandria Waterskiing Santa: December 24th
Gather at Alexandria’s Potomac River waterfront for a spectacular show by the Waterskiing Santa and his wakeboarding reindeer, plus flying elves, the Grinch and his friends, Frosty the Snowman and Jack Frost. This event is free. 

We hope you will enjoy these Christmas events this year. Whichever December 2017 events you choose to attend, we wish you a happy and fun-filled month full of holiday cheers and festivities.


Home Design Trends to Watch in 2018

Planning on a renovation project for your home? If you’re thinking about remodeling your home next year, whether you’re planning to DIY or will be hiring a pro, now might be a good time to start planning. These are the trends that made the list from the websites that offers home remodeling and decoration projects tips that we expect to see most frequently in 2018.
Trend #1: Vibrant Colors Are Coming Back
As we all expect, neutral colors such as gray, beige and the new favorite paint color “greige,” are still the trendiest colors in terms of home design and décor. The appeal of neutral colours is not going away and is becoming more sophisticated. However, brighter colors are picking up steam in 2018. Paying attention to brighter colors throughout the home can make your furniture and decorative items pop. Floral prints and colors have always been popular as well and expect to see more floral designs that use contrasting colors next year.
Trend #2: Metallic Accents
Another trend that’s ramping up now and is destined to carry over until next year is that of metallic accents anchoring a room. It may take a more dominant role, with furnishings like coffee tables and dining tables. However, it’s very easy to overdo it when it comes to shiny surfaces. The best way is to keep things basic, such as hanging a silver-accented mirror on a wall or buying some copper end tables. Metallic touches are one of the home décor trends right now and will continue well into 2018.  
Trend #3: High-Class Kitchen Elements
Today’s quartz truly delivers in style, design, and flair. It’s a popular choice for countertops as well because it goes with so many different styles. Quartz counters, lower and upper cabinets in different finishes, appliances in fun colors, layouts that promote ease of use, cement tile backsplashes will be one of the kitchen trends next year. Vintage lighting fixtures, like aged copper pendant lights, sinks made with materials like stone, copper, concrete, and granite are making a comeback and more likely to become popular in 2018.
Trend #4: Geometric Patterns
Geometric patterns are trending up in the interior design space, with fascinating wallpaper prints leading the charge. There are so many ways you can incorporate geometry into your decor; it’s one of the most approachable trends and you can choose from within a price range that will work for most budgets. It can also start small with pillows or throws in geometric prints. 
Trend #5: Minimalist Furniture 
Minimalism, or at least its spirit, has found its way to the design world. Simple, elegant furniture pieces have been a trending home design feature for years. In 2018, the emphasis is on “clean lines, comfort and ease of use as well as finishes that are easy to care for and use. Minimalism certainly isn’t for everyone. In fact, it probably isn’t for most people. But thinking like a minimalist can be a fun little thought-experiment. For couches and chairs, look for pieces made with vinyl or faux suede fabric. 
If you are ready to take the next step towards purchasing your new home and for all of your other real estate needs, contact me today at (703) 228-9788. Whether you are buying or selling, I will be here to help you every step of the way.

US Housing Market Forecast for 2018

The US housing forecast for 2018 reveals US markets are entering a very positive period of housing sales growth and if there’s one thing most early forecasters agree on, it’s that home prices will continue to rise. According to Freddie Mac’s Outlook report, new homes are expected to be a “primary driver of sales” in 2018 as 1.33 million housing starts are predicted in 2018, up from 1.22 million in 2017. Total home sales are expected to increase about 2 percent from 2017 to 2018, according to the report. “The economic environment remains favorable for housing and mortgage markets. For several years, we have had moderate economic growth of about two percent a year, solid job gains, and low mortgage interest rates. We forecast those conditions to persist into next year.” says Freddie Mac’s chief economist Sean Becketti.
CoreLogic, the largest real estate data and analytics company in the U.S providing financial, property and consumer information also indicates that home prices will increase by 5 percent from July of this year through July of 2018. Mortgage rates are expected to increase as well. 
Should You Buy or Sell in 2018?
Most real estate sales and real estate investment experts are predicting a strong year ahead for the US housing market in 2018 and for the next 5 years. They are predicting existing home sales of 6 to 6.5 million units in 2017 and then above 1.3 million new homes being built per month from 2018 to 2024. Economists also predict that the uptick in housing starts, coupled with a moderate increase in mortgage rates, will help slow the run-up in home prices next year. Still, homeowners likely will continue building equity next year.
Reports says these are some of the reasons why people are still eager to invest in Real Estate:
  • Home prices are appreciating
  • Millennials continue to buy a home to raise their families
  • High rental rate for rental properties
  • The economy is steady or improving 
  • International investors eager to own US property
Are you ready to take the next step towards purchasing your new home? For all your real estate needs, contact me today at (703) 228-9788. Whether you are buying or selling, I will be here to help you every step of the way.


Eat, Drink and Celebrate Thanksgiving in Northern Virginia

Few more days before Thanksgiving and restaurants in Northern Virginia are preparing special feasts for the big day. Don’t want to spend Thanksgiving in the kitchen stuffing your turkey? Luckily, NOVA is packed with restaurants offering buffets, variety of meals and relaxing alternatives to celebrate Thanksgiving Day. From family feasts to romantic candlelit dinners for two, check out these few restaurants that will be open for business on Thanksgiving 2017.
Top 5 DC Restaurants Open For Thanksgiving
Top 5 Arlington Restaurants Open For Thanksgiving
Top 5 Fairfax City Restaurants Open For Thanksgiving
Better go ahead and book your tables now as they could fill up quickly! Whichever restaurant you choose, let us all be grateful for our countless blessings not only this Thanksgiving Day but every day. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

5 Top Home Buying and Selling Pitfalls

Buying or selling a home is one of the most important and most challenging highest-value transaction we will make and being mindful of some considerations can help the buying and selling process go a lot smoother.
Here are some things to avoid to help buyers and sellers do well before they purchase and list their property. It could save a great deal of money, and could even make the purchasing and sale of the property easy down the line.
1. Allowing emotions to overtake common sense
It’s true that when you fall in love with a property, it can be hard to walk away but it’s important to know your budget. Don’t buy something you know you cannot afford. If you’re selling, don’t overprice your property. Don’t hire the first real estate agent you meet. Meet with a few different agent before settling on one, and make sure you feel comfortable with them and their approach to the process.
2. Not making your expectations clear with your real estate professional
It’s important that you and your representative have a mutual understanding about what you’re looking and selling for, and what services the brokerage will be responsible for. Make sure you talk to your broker or salesperson about the services you expect them to provide, and get it in writing.
3. Failing to read and understand forms and contracts
It can be tempting to speed the process along by signing forms that you haven’t read and totally understand but don’t assume everything is included. Taking the time to understand what you’re signing can avoid a lot of problems in the future. Either buying or selling, make sure all the details are well explained to you before you sign it, and make sure you get a copy of whatever you sign.
4. Not doing proper research and making verbal agreements
If you’re buying a home, a simple internet search for the address can go a long way and having an idea on how the selling process works if you’re selling a home is also significant. On the other hand, verbal agreements aren’t a problem until they’re a problem. Putting everything in writing forces both parties to be clear about their expectations and provides a record that can prevent disputes later on.
5. Underestimating closing costs and other expenses
From land transfer taxes to title insurance to a home inspection, the costs of a real estate transaction can add up quickly. Take the time to include estimates and other expenses in the full cost of buying or selling a property. Remember as well that owning can cost much more than renting with expenses like rates, insurance and maintenance. While all of these tips are essential, the most important advice is to work with a registered real estate professional. 
Are you ready to sell or purchase a home? For all of your real estate needs, contact me today at (703) 228-9788. Whether you are buying or selling, I will be here to help you every step of the way.

5 Things You Should Know About VA Loans

Holidays like Veterans Day and Memorial Day are holidays for remembering and honoring dedicated military personnel and veterans who died in the service of our country. Their bravery and sacrifice grant us the security and freedom. With this year’s Veterans day fast approaching, it’s a great time to refresh your knowledge of VA loans that helped more than 22 million service members become homeowners since 1944. For the vast majority of military borrowers, VA loans represent the most powerful lending program on the market. It is available to millions of veterans and active military members and are somewhat easier to qualify for than conventional mortgages.
The best way to start the VA loan process is with a thorough understanding of the program and its benefits. Here are five things you may not know about VA loans.
1. They’re reusable.
Even if someone has used a VA loan in the past, they’re still eligible for a new loan. You can use your full VA entitlement over and over again as long as you pay off the loan each time. Furthermore, service members with bankruptcies and foreclosures can still get a VA loan, even if you’ve lost one to foreclosure or currently have one.
2. Only certain homes are eligible.
VA loans are primarily designed for move-in-ready homes including single-family homes, condos, modular housing and more. While there are a few exceptions, commercial properties, investment properties, and vacation homes are typically ineligible in this kind of loan.
3. The VA doesn’t issue the loans.
The VA isn’t in the business of issuing home loans. Instead, they just guarantee on each qualified mortgage loan (usually up to 25 percent), making lenders more confident and allowing service members to get better terms and rates.
4. No mortgage insurance required.
Mortgage insurance is a monthly fee you pay with other programs when you’re not putting at least 20 percent down. The VA’s guarantee eliminates the need for service members to purchase mortgage insurance for their loans, saving them thousands of dollars. However, there is a mandatory fee about 2% of the loan amount for VA loan recipients and this can be rolled into the loan amount or waived for those with service-connected disabilities.
5. They have co-borrower restrictions.
Some loan programs lets you get a loan with just anybody but that is not the case for VA loan. Having a co-borrower who isn’t the spouse of the service member or another veteran with VA loan entitlement who will also live in the home will require a down payment on the home.
If you are ready to take the next step towards purchasing your new home and for all of your other real estate needs, contact me today at (703) 228-9788. Whether you are buying or selling, I will be here to help you every step of the way.