Some Thoughts from Realtor, David Houghtaling

Supporting the South Lakes High School Pantry


I'm happy to report a very successful food collection out front of Safeway South Lakes on Friday April 5th from 4-7 PM.  We collected 7 carts totaling perhaps 2,000 pounds of box, jars and cans to help replenish the South Lakes High School Pantry shelves.  

In addition we collected $331 in cash and better still, dozens of you thanked the Weichert Realtors for being there doing the collecting!  We will be out there again pretty soon, but THANKS SO VERY MUCH !
Posted in:General
Posted by David Houghtaling on April 9th, 2019 4:53 PM

Friday evening, April 5th from 4-7 PM, we will be out front at the South Lakes Safeway collecting food and personal items for delivery to the South Lakes High School Pantry.  The pantry is visited by students and families in need in greater numbers than you might guess.

If you headed into Safeway on Friday the 5th, please stop and say hello, pick up a list of items needed, and then if possible, pick one or more up while you shop and drop it with us on your way out.  Thank you
Posted in:General
Posted by David Houghtaling on March 26th, 2019 3:42 PM
Starting with the Separation of Terms.

When you buy a home and you want to paint the walls a different color, replace the white kitchen appliances with stainless steel, and you want to put in new carpet, those expenses are not repairs - more like upgrades.

When you buy a home and have to replace the old washing machine, replace the hot water heater, the roof, or HVAC - those are repair/replacement costs.  For this blog, I am speaking of the repair and replacement expenses.

According to Bankrate and a WTOP reporter, Jeff Clabaugh (CLICK for Article), a whopping 63% of first-time home buyers regret their purchase because they are facing a new thing -- repair costs not faced as renters!  "Before, when they were a renter, they were used to calling the landlord ..."

Buyers need to know that repair expenses are normal and to be given guidance before settlement.  First, home warranties may not be perfect, but they relieve a lot of stress.  My clients normally need one for the first year.  A $75 trip charge is better than a $300 repair ... or worse.

Second, budget for annual expenses equal to 1% of the purchase price of your home.  A $400,000 townhouse purchase means $4,000 socked away for troubles.  A roof may last 20-25 years.  the cost may be a few years away, but the cost of a roof will hit someday.  An HVAC system may last 15 years, but could be 10-12.

Here's an article on budgeting for these expenses.(CLICK)  



Posted in:General
Posted by David Houghtaling on March 12th, 2019 1:28 PM

Everything is local, but the five mile above views of Fairfax and Loudoun County rental statistics show the tone for when you ask me for neighborhood information.

The number of properties rented in Fairfax County is about 3 times that of Loudoun, but trends parallel each other.  Looking at places rented between $1,000 and $3,000 per month rent for the most between May and September, but the days on the market are lowest between May and August.

And if you are curious about price trends, prices aren't always lowest in November and December.  In part it's because the number of places on the market is lowest November-January.

If you would like to learn more or have some questions specific to your property or neighborhood -- call or text me at 703-220-0406.
Posted in:General
Posted by David Houghtaling on February 26th, 2019 3:20 PM
Knowing that I lack a crystal ball means that my forward projections are greatly influenced what I see behind us.  16+ years of real estate experience matters too, but let's look a Fairfax and Loudoun Counties, townhomes (attached homes) and so called single family homes (detached).

Hard data is coming from the BrightMLS folks in Rockville, MD dated January 4, 2019.  According to Bright, home prices increased 1.9% in Fairfax County while the number of townhomes sold was down 1/2% for the year and single family home sales dropped 5%.  

But, the number of days on the market was down nearly 15% and the sales price ratio (when compared to the original list price) was higher.  Both good news for sellers.

Switching over to Loudoun County, things were brighter.  Sales prices average 3 1/2% more than 2017; the days on market were nearly 40% shorter; and sales price ratios were up 1/2% too.

Keep in mind that sales prices are about 10% higher in Fairfax County which works out more than $55,000 and the number of townhomes and single family homes sold in 2018 was twice as many in Fairfax County.

Confused yet?  Let me roll 2017 to 2018 to now 2019 and see what is likely happening.

1st.  We are likely to have limited "inventory" of homes on the market again this year.  There is nothing to indicate a change in direction including limited numbers of homes being constructed in the two Counties.  (Keep in mind that for each piece of land a build is working with they are trying to maximize the dollars they can sell it for with housing on it.  This means more expensive condos, townhouses and single family homes.  Don't look for a course change).

2nd.  Well-priced homes for their condition move quickly and at nearly the asking price with some seeing 2-3 buyers making competing offers.  Generally appraisals are involved and prices don't go too far up.  You and I can talk about this - whether you are selling or buying - and strategize to your benefit.

3rd.  Interest rates are working to the benefit of sellers as well as buyers.  Sellers?  YES.  With lower rates like today, more buyers can afford the monthly payments buying your home!

So, even if you're not buying or selling, if you have real estate questions, click the "CALL DAVD" in blue at the bottom.
Posted in:General
Posted by David Houghtaling on February 6th, 2019 5:24 PM
You're buying a home and the home inspector informs you that the appliances -- stove, microwave, refrigerator, dishwasher, washer, dryer, HVAC system are all working normally.  The inspector provides some life expectancy information and on average, all of these things should last for a few years or more.

You've checked consumer reports and feel pretty confident that, nothing will die in your first year.  You may indeed be correct and it's possible all will last a couple of years before requiring a service visit.

If you are fortunate to have reserves, perhaps replacing an $800 washing machine or a $1800 refrigerator would be annoying but not a real financial hardship.  For others a refrigerator that dies one morning requires prompt servicing and you're off to buy bags of ice to hold your food over,

If you have an HVAC (particularly a heat pump) annual contract then a failed air conditioner in July or furnace in January will get your pretty prompt repair visit.

But in none of the scenarios will you be able to keep your out-of-pocket costs under $100 unless you have a home warranty.  

If you are like a big percentage of my clients a home warranty provides prompt service, repair or replacement of appliances or their components.  

Take a look at coverage under the AHS Warranty.  If you think it could benefit you, let me know.  I will put you in touch.  You cannot call and subscribe directly.  Understand that I receive no financial benefit but I might feel better knowing you're covered.  And if you would like to learn about other home warranties, reach out to me.
Posted in:General
Posted by David Houghtaling on February 4th, 2019 2:55 PM

People are different and this may or may not be what you seek.  But there's a growing segment looking for solutions-based service from us as Realtors and here's what I can do to help you.

In finding a new home there are dozens of things I do for my clients to ensure a smooth transaction and one where I make sure they get all of their interests covered and not just financial.  I make it a point to know, for instance, your lifestyle hopes for the home.  How are you and your family going to live in your new home?

At the same time, I have a team of servicers for you to choose one to all - mortgage options, insurance, closing services, and things like moving companies, assistance getting internet and cable set-up and cleaning services.

Selling, buying and moving can be stressful and extremely gratifying at the same time so if I can help reduce the first we might just succeed at inflating the second!

Posted in:General
Posted by David Houghtaling on January 31st, 2019 6:40 PM
Since Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in his 39th year it is hard for me to imagine that today would have been his 90th birthday.  As a nation we will celebrate with service to others on Monday, but this is a collage of photos I took on a Saturday in October, 2011 when his family visited the soon to be opened memorial in Washington, DC.


Posted in:General
Posted by David Houghtaling on January 15th, 2019 3:30 PM

    From Freddie Mac, take a look and if you are a buyer, let's get an early start on the Spring Market and Save.
    If you are a Seller, if the mortgage interest rates start up again, qualified buyer numbers decrease.  You may want to explore the market soon, too.



Drop in Rates Leads to Jump in Mortgage Applications

January 10, 2019

Mortgage rates fell to the lowest level in nine months, and in response, mortgage applications jumped more than 20 percent. Lower mortgage rates combined with continued income growth and lower energy prices are all positive indicators for consumers that should lead to a firming of home sales.







Posted in:General
Posted by David Houghtaling on January 10th, 2019 2:26 PM

The people at Pantone have in recent years told us that what would be the color taking over clothing and items for sale on the shelves and some of the success of their predictions must come from the power of suggestion.  In 2019 it is said to be living coral as you likely heard or read on the news.

But living coral isn't going to be the favorite color of kitchen cabinets.  But could it show up on powder room walls?  Could it be a background color for drapes?  IKEA is already promoting it.

Perhaps to both.  Be on the lookout for it in model homes or when paint consultants are commissioned to help you with your new wall paint colors!

Posted in:General
Posted by David Houghtaling on December 11th, 2018 6:55 PM

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