Some Thoughts from Realtor, David Houghtaling

For several Northern Virginia school systems, the 2017-18 year start before Labor Day.

Parents, are you ready?  Students, are you making the best of the summer vacation days left?

Click HERE to connect to your school district and the official school calendar.

Posted in:General
Posted by David Houghtaling on July 27th, 2017 4:16 PM

If you are going to be 62 or older by August 27th, you like our National Parks, and you would like to save $70 on your lifetime SENIOR pass, then you need to get in your convertible and go!

Click on the picture above and you'll be taken to the list of National Parks that sell the LIFETIME SENIOR PASS for the next month at only $10.  As of August 28th, pay $80. That's an 87% savings.

As a Realtor I don't want to show any age bias against younger people so I am making this information available to everyone, including those under 62 years of age. 

PS, you can go to the US National Park Service website and mail them $20 plus a copy of your driver's license and they will mail it to you.  Just make sure your envelope is postmarked by August 27th.

Posted in:General
Posted by David Houghtaling on July 26th, 2017 11:41 AM

Interested in Fireworks Displays?  We are fortunate to have the ones in Washington, DC and they are on the 4th.  (But if you just want to see the performers with a smaller crowd, head to the US Capitol on the evening the the 3rd and watch the dress rehearsal.  (No fireworks on the 3rd , however)

Beginning Saturday, June 30th, then July 1st, then July 4th and then July 8th you have 4 nights in different locales to take them in.  So here’s my list, but double-check before you go and pack patience please.

June 30th and July 1st

Mount Vernon

 Mount Vernon Highway


Admission fees, Fireworks at 9:45 PM

July 1st

Lake Fairfax County Park

1400 Lake Fairfax Drive, Reston

All day activities, fee for car, bikes and pedestrians free, fireworks at 9:15 PM


July 3rd


Capitol Fourth Dress Rehearsal

West Lawn of the Capitol, Free

Washington, DC

Performing:  The Beach Boys, the Four Tops, Blues Brothers, Kellie Pickler and more

Take the Subway.  Parking scarce

8 – 10 PM


July 4th


Capitol Fourth

West Lawn of the Capitol, Free

Washington, DC

If you have never sat on the Capitol lawn, watched the fireworks at the Washington Monument and listened to the National Symphony play the 1812 Overture, grab up the family and leave at 4 for the Capitol South METRO station.  If it rains, watch it on PBS.

Take the Subway, Parking worse than scarce

8:00 – 9:30 and then Fireworks until 10 PM


Iwo Jima Memorial, Arlington Potomac River Shoreline

All good areas to observe the fireworks but arrive early and expect crowds.

Take the Subway, expect to walk

Fireworks 9:30 – 10 at the Washington Monument



Town of Herndon

814 Ferndale

Free, starts at 6:30 PM with fireworks at 9:30 PM


Town of Vienna

Southside and Yeonas Park

Festivities begin at 4 include circus acts, moon bounce

Fireworks at 9:30


City of Manassas

Train Depot & the Manassas Museum Lawn

9431 West Street, Manassas

Events start at 3 PM and the fireworks are at 9:15 PM

Free parking in commuter lots, handicapped parking by Train Station


July 8th

City of Alexandria

Oronoco Bay Park

100 Madison St


9:30 PM



Happy Birthday America!

Posted in:General
Posted by David Houghtaling on June 26th, 2017 6:36 PM

Ready to clean out a closet, basement or garage?  Weichert Reston is again this year offering you Reston Parkway exposure for your stuff!  Saturday morning, May 20th is the when.  The cost for you (and why not do this with your friends) is only $25 and that's a charitable donation for your to Habitat for Humanity. 

Details on the Parking Lot Sale

Sign up Sheet for Your Sale Space

Want more information or you just have items you would like to donate?  Contact David

Posted in:General
Posted by David Houghtaling on May 6th, 2017 8:10 AM

Until you have owned a home for a while it is your hope that expenses for repairs will be minimal and far off in the future.  I'm not speaking about upgrades - replacing appliances and changing wood for carpet.   I am speaking of replacing the roof, HVAC, hot water heater, an appliance that fails, repainting, etc.  All items have an average life expectancy, (and my father better than me), should be budgeting for replacement.

I have been recommending to first-time buyers that they should save 1-2% of the purchase price of their home EACH YEAR for repairs and replacements.  If you start with a home warranty covering many things in your first year, you will get by with less savings.

Want to read more and see an "Annual Home Repair Budget?"  CLICK for Article

Posted in:General
Posted by David Houghtaling on May 3rd, 2017 10:17 AM

Let's Clean Out the Closet or Basement

Weichert Realtors Reston Parking Lot Sale

Once again this year Weichert is holding a Yard Sale in the Parking Lot at 1760 Reston Parkway on Saturday Morning, May 20th.  If you want to reserve a spot to sell your things, call me - 703-220-0406 or Click to Email Me.  Your space fee will benefit Habitat For Humanity but your sales proceeds stay with you.  Consider getting a friend or 2 to join you.

To Recycle Your Electronics

A Forever Home is a not-for-profit organization that matches rescued dogs with screened individuals/families to adopt them.  This Sunday, May 7th from Noon to 4 PM in the Greenbriar Shopping Center in Chantilly parking lot of Petco you can ecologically recycle all kinds of electronics.  You benefit and they get needed funds.

To Recycle Your Books

I had been recommending Books Across America as the place I donated books but they have recently shut down operations. 

I would now recommend the Vietnam Veterans of America as a good choice and they will pick up your boxes of books and other items.  Here's their list and if you want to schedule a pickup directly from their website, CLICK



Posted in:General
Posted by David Houghtaling on May 3rd, 2017 8:01 AM
A renewed home ownership trend has turned strongly positive.  In the first 3 months of the year, more households purchased homes than rented according to Real Estate Daily.  "People are looking at housing as being a bit more attractive, as memories of the financial crisis fade," Joseph LaVorgna, chief U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank, told the Wall Street Journal.

Locally the challenge for buyers is finding the home in the neighborhood they want and then in many cases, competing with other like-minded buyers.   But the swing has taken more than a decade to get back to this level.  If you are looking to run the numbers, feel free to contact me or if you want to test your thoughts click on my calculator - Rent vs Buy.

Posted in:General
Posted by David Houghtaling on May 1st, 2017 2:31 PM
Assume for a moment you have a property and your son or daughter is interested in renting it from you.  Within most families the agreement between you is that your "tenant" takes care of the property, probably pays utilities, presumably takes out renters insurance and agrees to a monthly rental price.

But let's assume you have a place that you would like to find wonderful, respectful and responsible tenants for -- just as good as your offspring.  Many assume that the pitfalls are few and at least compared to selling, a real estate agent isn't needed.  If you are in that group, please read on.

As a Realtor, I can share with you what other similar properties have been renting for and help you set your rate.  I can review with you what you cannot do so that you aren't breaking any fair housing laws, stay compliant with lead paint disclosures, etc.

I can also make sure that as many applicants see your place online, at hundreds of websites plus make sure that the real estate agents in the area all see your place on the MLS.  Then when a prospective applicant contacts me to see your place, I can meet them and show them.  I can make sure other agents in the area, with their clients, also get into see your place by installing an electronic lockbox that records information about their visits that I can share with you.

I'm skipping over photography, signs on the property when allowed, sharing the information about your place with people in my database by sending out informational emails, etc. 

When someone is interested in renting they are given an application and charged a fee to have it processed and a report generated by the company for you.  Rental history, credit history and employment history is included.  I can help you, but the decision to accept or reject them will be yours.  I will inform the applicants and if you accept them, prepare the lease.  Once the lease and the initial walk through is completed, the rental listing process is complete.

On April 22, 2017 in the Washington Post there was a column in the Real Estate Section titled, "Are you afraid to find tenants?  You can pay someone to do that" and you can link to it and read it here.

You may or may not want your property managed, but please consider carefully whether you want to market, meet to show, and screen the applicants yourself.  If I can help you, please call me -- 703.220.0406 or email me at
Posted in:General
Posted by David Houghtaling on April 23rd, 2017 3:02 PM

If you can afford it, buying a second home or vacation home, can be a sound part of your investment strategy towards retirement.  I am not a retirement planner, but buying a vacation home in your 30's or 40's can be a smart move.

First, you can use it for a vacation destination and otherwise rent it out.  Even if you are not in the 28% who might pay cash and therefor have a mortgage, by the time you are planning to retire you can sell the presumably appreciated asset.

According to a National Association of Realtors 2017 Investment and Vacation Home Buyers Survey report released this week, vacation homes accounted for 12% of all 2016 transactions.  Buyers typically earned on average in 2015 and 2016 between $89,900 and $103,700 per year and the top two reasons for the purchases -- 42% for a family retreat and 18% for future retirement.

According to the NAR Survey, 36% purchased in a beach area, 21% in a lake area and 20% in the country, 14% in the mountains and typically the vacation home was 200 miles from the primary residence.

Two last points.  If you have an investment property here, would a 1031 Exchange make sense swapping it for a rental property at the beach, for example?  

The other point -- I can connect you with a great agent in one of dozens of vacation locations, beaches, up and down the coast.  Let me know where you are thinking of looking and I'd be happy to set up an introduction and stay involved (or uninvolved if you prefer).

As someone with owns vacation home on a lake, my experience is that it is a place to make memories with your family that last a lifetime!

Posted in:General
Posted by David Houghtaling on April 19th, 2017 6:00 PM

The housing market continues strongly with low interest rates, but buyers are having a tougher time finding a home to buy.  Nationwide new construction starts for residential properties dropped in March nearly 7% compared to March, 2016.

Home prices year over year, varying by area in Northern Virginia are generally up 4-6% compared to last spring and the National Association of Home Builders reports a nearly 13% increase in single family homes being built in the Northeast, but a 3% drop in the South.  Confused?  To add to your confusion, multi-unit construction (apartments for example) increased nearly 14% in March while single family permits were down 1% from last year.  Link to Realtor Magazine

So, perhaps the 2017 year will be up but there may not be as many homes for summer move in as buyers would like.

As a reminder, please give me a call BEFORE you sign in at the new home sales offices because in that way I can represent you.  The super nice sales staff in those new home sales offices work for the BUILDERS.

Posted in:General
Posted by David Houghtaling on April 19th, 2017 5:35 PM



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