Some Thoughts from Realtor, David Houghtaling

Let's face it, things in and around the house need repair or replacement from time and if you already have a trusted service technician, you're ahead of the game.  As your Realtor, I have many recommended technicians and service companies because of some personal experience and experience from my clients.  Feel free to call me when a need arises.

Today I would like to highlight the services of my tree service of choice is Adam's Tree Service out of Culpepper.  Just call Adam on his cell phone: 540-229-5411 and let him know that your Realtor, David Houghtaling of Reston gave you his number.

PS  If you have a person or company you've hired that you would recommend, just let me know. 

Posted in:General
Posted by David Houghtaling on November 10th, 2017 11:52 AM

Here's something you may not have been considering.  Renter incomes are rising making it possible for landlords and complexes to charge higher rental rates.

In Reston alone we have had a few open upscale rental complexes open in the past couple of years and there are a few more under construction.  The Harrison, followed by the Boulevard  the Avant and now the Aperture.  Even as a Realtor I have scratched my head wondering where all of the relatively well to do tenants are going to come from. 

The Aperture

The Avant

The Blvd

The Harrison

Rental apartments are being constructed with high ceilings in the units, upscale designs and apartment amenities and amenities for the building including specialized services and common rooms, rooftop pools, etc.  It's not uncommon for the 1 bedroom units to be over $2,000 and 2 bedrooms closer to $3,000.  Premiums are charged for top floors and their views.

Millenials perhaps, but there are a lot of professionals moving into these apartments for the lifestyle flexibility.  Renters can live without many home responsibilities and they enjoy the flexibility of picking up and moving. 

Click for the Bloomberg Article

This does not mean doom and gloom for your Reston investment properties and their rents.  Not all renters want an apartment house, no matter how lovely.  They don't all want a parking space below a building and an elevator to schlep their stuff.   You will still be able to rent your 1980's townhouse, 1990's condo and everything in between.  Renters will continue to expect upgrades and updates, fresh paint and prefer things like hardwoods and perhaps granite, but they are paying you more in 2017 than they did in the past.

There is a table below from Bloomberg from the article that shows a portion of the population that is rent-burdened or severely so.  Worth consideration.

Do you have real estate investments?  Thinking of buying additional properties and renting them?  Please call me at 703-220-0406

Posted in:General
Posted by David Houghtaling on October 18th, 2017 12:37 PM


Want to search for homes to buy or rent?  How about look up the price of the place with the sign out front (any brokerage)?  Then please add my App to your Android.  CLICK HERE for quick 3 steps when you are on your phone in something like Chrome

Posted in:General
Posted by David Houghtaling on October 12th, 2017 8:43 AM
The evening temperature has dipped to 60 degrees, or less, and it's time for most of us to be thinking of setting a fire in the fireplace.  My insurance company, Amica Mutual sent me a few reminders and I've copied it here.

LINCOLN, R.I. - Proper chimney maintenance can help prevent fires in the home. That’s why Amica Insurance is sharing tips to promote chimney safety as the cold weather approaches.

The Chimney Safety Institute of America suggests the following:

  • Have a professional perform an inspection on the chimney’s interior before using your fireplace, woodstove or furnace every year. That way, you can make sure it has not suffered damage that would allow heat or hazardous gases to enter the living space.
  • Keep the chimney clear and capped. Remove tree branches and leaves that are within 15 feet of the top of the chimney, as flames or sparks can jump from the fire source and ignite those objects.
  • Pick the right fuel. If burning firewood in fireplaces or woodstoves, choose well-seasoned wood that has been split for at least six months and was stored in an elevated, covered location.
  • Clear the hearth area, and remove all ashes. Be sure to keep furniture at least three feet away from the hearth, as combustible materials can catch fire if they get too close to the flames.
  • Install smoke detectors on every floor, and replace batteries in the spring and fall. When changing clocks for Daylight Savings Time, it’s also a good time to check the batteries.
And while we are on the subject of fire safety, next week (Oct 8-14) is National Fire Prevention Week.  If you would like my free stickers for alerting the emergency responders, just call/text me 703-220-0406.

Posted in:General
Posted by David Houghtaling on October 2nd, 2017 5:49 PM

In the 2005 time period the lenders allowed for very low down payments AND they didn't screen potential borrowers thoroughly for risk.  The lending business had to tighten up, and did, for several years.

Relatively recently lenders have made it possible for borrowers to make smaller down payments and that can be good.  The 20% down payment is not completely a thing of the past, but the average loan last year involved a 6% down payment according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

Private Mortgage Insurance charges on the buyer are understandably higher for folks that put less skin in the game leaving the lender with a great risk.  A low down payment in an increasing market means your of return on your investment (percentage) is higher because you have leveraged your down payment cash. 

For someone interested in doing the math, it's possible to make a lower down payment, pay some PMI, but have the appreciation amount each year be more than your PMI expense. 

Today we have FHA, VA, USDA, VHDA, HomeReady and, Home Possible Advantage plus Conventional loans with down payments as low as 3%.  Since I am going to help introduce you to a great lender or two, he/she will help you review your choices.

If you would like to read an article on this an more CLICK

And feel free to reach out to me anytime!

Posted in:General
Posted by David Houghtaling on September 26th, 2017 6:14 PM

The National Association of Realtors, published a study of those 22-35 years old and their challenges to home buying.  CLICK

The group is pointed out because generally during this period more people typically buy their first home, perhaps marry and start families, and due to some things beyond your control, you haven't been able to ... yet.  One major budget item is the burden of education debt measured against early salary levels, but both will improve.

According to Dr. Lawrence Yun (chief economist for the NAR), when I heard him speak on September 18th, student debt has TRIPLED in the past 10 years!

For most people their home gives roots, an ability to begin building wealth by putting income to work, and at the same time not the only home you will ever own.  But a start.  If I can be of help to you as you dream and plan, just reach out to me 703-220-0406 or

Posted in:General
Posted by David Houghtaling on September 19th, 2017 9:53 AM
Fairfax County, and many others around Northern Virginia have restrictions on the percentage of your back yard which can be covered with a patio, a deck or a pool and that number has been 30%.  The County government is considering doubling it to 60% and if you have an interest in this subject, pro or con, get in touch with the County.
Posted in:General
Posted by David Houghtaling on September 14th, 2017 11:41 AM

Are you aware that in Fairfax County you are NOT legally allowed to rent out rooms in your home on a short-term basis?  True.  Click  

This may not be something you have thought about, but if you are thinking about renting 1-5 rooms in your home for less than 30 days at a time, you need to apply for a "Bed and Breakfast" license and the Board of Supervisors makes that determination.

Many, if not most, HOAs and Condo Associations have restrictions as well.  Fairfax County is holding public hearings if you are interested in the subject, pro or con.

Posted in:General
Posted by David Houghtaling on September 14th, 2017 11:38 AM

I checked.  Labor Day was made a Federal holiday for all Federal Employees and residents of the District of Columbia on the first Monday in September, 1894.  The Nation's workforce has changed a lot in the years since WWII and without being a historian, I would say that that the type of jobs people hold changed tremendously in the past 30 years with fewer factory jobs, fewer farmers, and it seems (too few) skilled tradespeople.

In the past decade I've noticed in the Northern Virginia area that more and more people who worked 1/5 of their weekdays at home are now working at least 3/5 of their days away from "the office."  This is impacting the locations of homes people are buying.

15 years ago most people I worked with had offices to commute to and we drew lines from the homes they considered to the addresses of their offices.  It's less of an issue for more and more families.  Is this a trend that will continue to grow?  How does it all affect the traffic planners and the subway planners?

Interestingly, Labor Day used to signify the unofficial end of summer, but now the kids are back to school before the First Monday in September.  Parents are working much more from home offices.   Union membership is dwindling.  Is this a holiday that's lost its meaning or purpose?  

For those wanting work that allows them to feel fulfilled and take care of their families, this must be a hard holiday to celebrate.  For those in Texas looking forward to the chance to get back to work, and have a business to return to, this Labor Day is one of hope.  Happy Labor Day everyone.

Posted in:General
Posted by David Houghtaling on September 3rd, 2017 6:35 PM

According to the US Census Quarterly Report released July 27, 2017, the homeownership rate rose 0.8% over last year.  But what does it mean?

The high point for home ownership was around 2004-2007 and it was in 2006 that prices peaked and then home values fell and for many, did so until about 2009.  At that point they started their climb, slowly, until today.  For many owning detached and town homes that values by about 2015 had reached their "peak" 2005/6 numbers.

One can argue the correlation between the percentage of adults who are home owners vs home renters and the home valuation numbers.  Except that valuation numbers are related to home value confidence.  The more confident, the more values are maintained or climb.


Landlords and Renters

The same report includes information on the Median Asking Rent - 1995-2017 and even though these are the National numbers, they tell a story.


There is no good reason, looking at that chart, that rental rates will decrease in the near future.  With low interest rates the first-time buyers are moving from renting to buying, but not to the concern of investors and landlords across the country.

Asking Prices - Homes for Sale

The last point to make from this report relates to the prices of homes listed for sale across the US.  Since 2012 the prices have been rising and are potentially zeroing in on 2007 values.  Northern Virginia has reached those levels already, but the Country is catching up.  Condominiums have lagged behind -- but continue to slowly climb.


Posted in:General
Posted by David Houghtaling on September 3rd, 2017 5:49 PM



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