Buying a home is a major life decision. Not only is your home the place where you’ll spend a large amount of your time—and maybe even more time as the work-from-home trend continues—buying a home is a large financial investment.

As a result, homebuyers typically need a mortgage from a bank or other financial institution to supplement any cash they’re using for a down payment. Interest on this mortgage adds to the total of what you’re ultimately paying for the home over time.

One of the silver linings of the COVID-19 pandemic is all-time low mortgage rates. In May of 2000, 30-year fixed rate mortgages through government-sponsored lender Freddie Mac reached their most recent peak at 8.64%. Rates have declined relatively steadily over the last 20 years and have now hit all-time lows, dipping below 3% for the first time ever in July 2020.

Unfortunately, even though rates have come down since the COVID-19 pandemic set in, self-employed individuals and small business owners all over the country are now facing increased obstacles when it comes to applying for a mortgage.

What do mortgage lenders look for?

When applying for a mortgage—whether you’re self-employed or a W-2 employee—lenders want to make sure you are someone who will make consistent payments toward paying off the loan. Lenders want to ensure applicants have a good credit history, sufficient liquid assets available, a history of stable employment, and a low debt-to-income ratio.

To assess creditworthiness, mortgage lenders require borrowers to submit federal income tax returns from the last two years as well as recent pay stubs to ensure you have a steady income stream. However, because most self-employed people don’t receive pay stubs, they need to provide other documentation to prove financial stability.

What do self-employed individuals need to provide when applying for a mortgage?

Historically, most mortgage lenders required self-employed individuals to provide a two-year history of self-employment earnings to ensure that that income was stable and that the business (whether it be a sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation) was currently operating.

Now, in the COVID-era, mortgage lenders are requiring self-employed individuals to also supply a year-to-date profit and loss statement as well as at least two recent months of business bank statements.

Can self-employed individuals qualify for mortgages?

Yes, and—like with anyone else—if you have documented proof of good credit history, available liquid assets, history of stable employment, a low debt-to-income ratio, and patience with paperwork, receiving a mortgage loan can be just as straightforward for a self-employed person.

Can 15 West Homes help you apply for a mortgage?

There are lenders that actually specialize in helping self-employed individuals get a mortgage with a competitive rate. Please reach out to us, and we’ll be happy to pass along names and contact information to you. It’s always good to talk to a couple lenders as you begin the process.

2020. A year for the ages.

Loudoun County, Virginia has always been an opportunistic location to plant family roots, but in 2020, the global COVID-19 pandemic, the lowest mortgage rates in decades, and low housing inventory made Loudoun even more of a hotspot for buyers looking to socially distance and embrace more suburban lifestyles.

At 15 West Homes, we were grateful to help more than 30 families either buy, sell, or rent a home this year, leading to more than $14 million in total sales volume. This was in great part due to the expansion of our team and continued support of our community.

Year in Review metrics graphic for 15 West Homes
  • Sales Volume = $14,147,000
  • Total transactions = 32
  • Buyers Served = 16
  • Sellers Served = 10
  • Renters Service = 6

In 2021, we look forward to once again serving families joining us, saying goodbye to, and staying put in Northern Virginia, in a year that’s shaping up to be one of the hottest seller’s market in Loudoun County’s history.

A graph looking at the 2020 real estate trends in Loudoun County, Virginia

The biggest challenge for buyers looking to move to Loudoun County in 2021 will be inventory. Over the last 20 years, there have only been 19 months where there were less than 800 active listings in Loudoun; 11 of those months were in 2020, and we can anticipate December being the 12th. This means buyers need to move quickly, while continuing to do their due diligence in terms of choosing the right home, making sure it’s inspected, and putting in a great offer.

On the flip side, sellers have a great opportunity to make some money on their real estate investments in 2021. Not only is inventory down and demand up, prices are soaring. Through November 2020, average sales price in Loudoun County was up more than $35,000 versus 2019; and in the second half of the year that number climbed to nearly $50,000 more. Additionally, offers are coming in quickly as homes are lasting a mere 18 days on the market on average in 2020 compared to 41 days in 2019.

All indications for the foreseeable future show that homes in Loudoun County will continue to sell. Low mortgage rates paired with the need for additional space in the suburbs, makes Loudoun an ideal location for families looking to move on from city life and take in the great outdoors.

Whether you’re looking to move to Loudoun County and enjoy the many things our community has to offer or you’re looking to move even further out of Washington, D.C.’s metropolitan region, 15 West Homes is here to help you whether you’re selling, buying, renting, or staying put.

Market stats provided by Dulles Area Association of Realtors®

If Q3 2020 was any indication, the real estate market in Northern Virginia is still on the rise. Homes are flying off the market at a record pace for more money than they have since our housing boom in the early 2000s. Location independence, outdoor expansion, the need for multi-purpose sanctuaries, and historically low mortgage rates are encouraging residents of Washington, D.C. and its immediate suburbs to set roots further west—in Loudoun County.

Homes Continue to Sell

When the coronavirus first caused shutdowns throughout the nation’s capital region in March, Q2 home sales in Loudoun County in stalled to six-year lows. However, those numbers quickly rebounded in Q3 when 2,023 residential units were sold, the most on record since Q3 2005. That trend also seems to be continuing as 737 homes were sold in October 2020, the most homes sold in October in more than 20 years. For reference, 538 homes were sold in Loudoun in October 2019.

Average Sales Price Continue to Rise

While the number of homes sold continues to trend upward, so does the average price. In Q3 2019, homes in Loudoun County sold for an average of $548,440. In Q3 2020, homes sold for an average of $613,333. The near 12% year-over-year increase is the highest increase in average sale price in Loudoun since 2004–2005. That trend continued into October when Loudoun homes sold for an average of $605,000, a 10% increase versus average sales price in October 2019.

The average home sale price in September 2020 was the highest average sales price for homes in Loudoun in a single month…ever. With inflation, increased home sale prices might seem normal, however, before September 2020, you had to look back to August 2005 for the month with the highest average home sale months in Loudoun.

Homes Continue to Fly Off the Market

Lastly, the listed homes in Loudoun are not lasting long. In Q3 2020, the average home in Loudoun was on the market for just over 18 days, the shortest amount of time on the market in more than 20 years. In Q3 2019, Loudoun homes were on the market for nearly double that at 35 days.

Are These Trends Here to Stay?

We are now nearly a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, and people and businesses are fully recognizing the benefits of remote work options. Technologies like Zoom, Google Docs, and Slack or Microsoft Teams mean that coworkers don’t have to be sitting in side-by-side cubicles to keep businesses moving forward. Additionally, many companies are reporting increased employee morale—due to better work-life balance and less time sitting on the Beltway—actually leading to increased productivity outside of the traditional office.

We saw the typically active spring market slide into summer and October was a major indicator that the typically active summer market will slide into the fall. Trends show that people are fully embracing wanting more space, more nature, and more privacy. And smaller communities outside of Washington, D.C. are embracing the changing needs of their changing demographics as well, adding new infrastructure, entertainment venues, restaurants, and shopping centers further supporting the westward shift in Northern Virginia’s home buying trends.

Whether you’re looking to move to Loudoun County and enjoy the many things our community has to offer or you’re looking to move even further out of Washington, D.C.’s metropolitan region, 15 West Homes is here to help you whether you’re selling, buying, renting, or staying put.

Market stats provided by Dulles Area Association of Realtors®

In 2017, Gallup published its most recent iteration of its State of the American Workplace report stating that more than 75% of Americans work remotely at least once a week, 43% work remotely at least half time, and 20% work remotely full time.

Up until 2020, those numbers seemed to be on a slow and steady rise. Then in March of 2020, those numbers started to skyrocket due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Before working from home was a realistic, long-term option, home buyers and renters often wanted to live reasonably close to their offices in order to avoid long commutes—and in the D.C.-met, those long commutes were often unavoidable either way. As companies around the world start to recognize the long-term benefits of a remote workforce, and with public schools in Loudoun County introducing distance learning as the primary form of education for the time being, the needs of American home buyers continue to evolve. 

Dedicated office space

One of the major benefits of working from home is the opportunity for better work-life balance. However, without dedicated office spaces, work life often bleeds into home life. As more companies commit to at least partial remote work policies long term, buyers are looking for homes with dedicated office spaces where they can focus on work during working hours then physically leave work behind to spend time with their families. Even if you don’t have a traditional office space at home, there are ways to get creative with your interior design to utilize unconventional spaces as dedicated working areas.

Large outdoor space

A major concern from working from home is not spending enough time outdoors, so, now more than ever, home buyers are interested in houses with large, usable, outdoor spaces. Fenced yards to allow kids and pets to play without needing 100% adult supervision, covered decks where you can get some fresh air during the work day while limiting the glare off your computer screen, and patios where you can barbecue with family and friends in the evening and on the weekends are great features to help you spend more time outdoors. Additionally, houses near parks, recreation areas, and walking and hiking trails offer home buyers alternative and convenient outdoor spaces.

Updated, functional kitchens

The American kitchen is one of the most popular entertaining spaces for family and friends, so wanting an updated kitchen is nothing new. However, as restrictions on restaurants continue and with the additional time remote workers save by not having a commute, cooking at home has become more popular, so more than simply wanting an updated looking kitchen, home buyers are looking for more functional kitchens, including state-of-the-art appliances and creative storage options. 

Moving to the suburbs

When searching for more functional space—both indoors and out—the Loudoun County suburbs become an obvious choice. Even as growth continues, Loudoun maintains an excellent amount of green space with larger houses and larger lots than city living often allows for. Whether you’re looking to buy, sell, or stay put in Northern Virginia, 15 West Homes is here to help you make your house a home.

How have your home needs changed since schooling and working from home? Let us know on Facebook!

… and there’s no better time to answer

As “Zoom towns” boom in popularity, we are starting a new series intended to help you stay informed and aware of the ever-changing world in these unprecedented times. We hope you enjoy it!

Location, location, location: the motto of the real estate agent. And despite being a trope, it’s not wrong. When you consider where you’re going to set down stakes and live, you should always consider how close you are to everything that matters. Make sure you’re near good schools. That it’s only a quick jaunt to handy shopping and delicious dining. And that your job commute is short and sweet.

Under that criteria, it’s hard to find any sort of ideal location, location, location these days in the DC area. Any native can tell you, no matter where you live, it’ll take you at least 30 minutes to get ANYWHERE. And you’ll be paying for the convenience of a 30-minute commute with a hefty house price, crowds, and a lot less house. On the other hand, not sitting in an hour of beltway traffic on a hot Friday afternoon is worth it, right?

Except. Now you don’t have to.

Everyone says “Covid-19 has changed everything,” and that’s no less true than with real estate. Schools are online. Groceries and dinners are delivered. And most offices are embracing the idea of giving up the expense of brick and mortar real estate to become remote. It doesn’t matter if you’re 30 minutes or three hours from the office—your cute Zoom meeting background won’t change. So why pay the hefty house price for the convenient commute that you’re not making?

And for these reasons, there has been a significant upswing in people migrating to “Zoom towns,” which are noted for offering a casual, more picturesque, and less expensive options—but because school and work are all online, they don’t come with a long commute to where the jobs are.

As Fannie Mae recently noted, “we are seeing some early signs of shifting buyer preference to locate to lower density areas.” And Redfin agrees: “there’s more demand—and less supply—for rural and suburban neighborhoods than cities as the pandemic influences homebuyer preferences.” But that doesn’t mean there are no options.

Over the course of this series, we’ll explore some of the “Zoom towns” around here.

Why Not Get More for Your Money?

Here are six out-there, but not-too-out there, neighborhoods where you can enjoy the gorgeous beauty of landscapes, the quiet peace of nature, and much more house for your money. Each of these communities are a perfect mix of the rural, scenic west, and the vibrant, urban east of Loudoun County.

  • Selma Estates—with quiet streets, sweeping meadows, and a Target and Starbucks a mere six miles away, this lovely neighborhood has the best of both worlds. 250 estates provide a small community feeling but with lots that range from half an acre to ten and views of mountains and sunsets, you won’t feel crowded.
  • Raspberry Falls—built around one of the most acclaimed golf courses in the country, which this community of 200 single family homes run between four and six bedrooms and includes neighborhood swimming and tennis amenities, parks and trails, and you can find both small town charm plus big-name retail and dining a short drive away.
  • Rokeby Farms—this great single-family residential community is just 3 miles down the road from historic Downtown Leesburg VA and features 4-6 bedroom homes, with up to 5300+ square feet of living space. Residents are surrounded by lots of activities and opportunity for adventure.
  • Tavistock Farms—350 single family homes and 213 townhomes makeup this community right in the heart of Northern Virginia – prime horse & wine country. A community farmhouse, a pool, tennis courts and playgrounds make it a perfect place for your family to grow and thrive.
  • Woodlea Manor—nestled between the historic charm of downtown Leesburg and the beauty of the Catoctin Mountains, this community of 467 single-family homes is a hop, skip, and jump away from history, nature, and all of life’s conveniences.
  • Meadowbrook—a brand new community just south of historic downtown Leesburg. With 400 single family homes that reflect the comfort and charm of small-town America, these spacious homes are inspired by the architectural legacy of rural Virginia, with homes offering up to six bedrooms and up to 4,000+ square ft of open floor plans.

Need to Escape?

One of the best parts of living in Northern VA is when you do feel like a commute, the ocean, the mountains, the nation’s capital, parks and lakes, wineries, and more are all about within a few short and easy hours away—as is Dulles International Airport in case you’d like to go just a little further.

In fact, within the immediate area, you can explore acres of natural beauty and real-life history with Ball’s Bluff Battlefield Regional Park—offering tours, living history events, trails, and outdoor programs. Other local parks provide waterslide and pool adventures, camping and cabins along the Potomac, and miles of natural trails for walking, hiking, and biking.

And, not so far away is the vibrant and growing Downtown Leesburg area that offers the quaint and quiet charm of your favorite small-town with independently owned shops, bars, and restaurants. Yet within a few miles down Rt. 7 either direction, you can find outdoor plazas boasting Wegmans, movie theaters, commercial retail, bowling alleys, world-class hospitals and schools, and anything else you need now—but that takes you half an hour or more to reach.

Want to learn more? Stay tuned as we continue uncover other hidden gems and “Zoom towns” as well as all the amazing things you can do in this area. If you’d like more details on any of the communities highlighted in this article, please reach out—I live, breathe, and love it here!

Maggie Hatfield
15 West Homes
703-531-7363
[email protected]

Catching up with lender partner Michael Kenyon on the loan market! Interest rates have fallen through June and July amidst the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Catching up with lender partner Michael Kenyon on the loan market! The market continues to shift amidst the COVID pandemic and businesses trying to get back to normal.

Catching up with lender partner Michael Kenyon on the loan market! The market continues to shift amidst the COVID pandemic and businesses trying to get back to normal. We discuss what it looks like now and strategies for purchasing or refinancing.

According to the latest Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report from the National Association of Realtors, millennials make up the largest segment of homebuyers today. And, one of the key criteria they have for shopping for homes are features that would be beneficial for their pets. 

  • A full 73 percent of millennials currently own a pet, according to the American Pet Products Association.
  • A whopping 89 percent of millennials who bought a home so far this year own a pet, according to Realtor.com.
  • For this demographic, 79 percent of pet-owning homebuyers who closed on a property this year said they would pass up an otherwise perfect home if it didn’t meet the needs of their pets, according to a Realtor.com survey.

In addition, approximately 66% of U.S. households currently own a pet or plan to get one, this has increased since COVID-19.  43% of U.S. households would be willing to move or change their living situation to accommodate their pet.

And, the one big feature many pet owners want? You guessed it, a pet shower. This feature has been a growing trend for years. I have a friend who started a remodel to build a dog shower for her dogs. In addition, here are other features that are of interest to pet lovers:

  • Pet friendly flooring – Luxury Vinyl plank and laminate flooring are favorites 
  • Feeding stations
  • Hidden trash bins
  • Hidden litter box stations
  • Pet gates (good for little humans too)
  • Ramps for older pets
  • Enclosed patios for cats

What pet features do you have or plan on incorporating into your home?

Even in the days of the novel coronavirus, we are still seeing many situations where there are multiple offers on a home. That’s certainly the case in this resilient northern Virginia market. If you’ve ever been a buyer in this situation, you know it can be confusing and stressful. Even today, it’s wise to assume your offer will not be the only one submitted, especially if it’s a well priced and nicely maintained home.  

Does that mean you don’t stand a chance? Absolutely not. If you work closely with your agent and keep these 9 strategies in mind, you’ll put yourself at an advantage over other competing offers and get noticed by the seller.

  1. Price is not always the main priority of the seller. Make sure your agent contacts the listing agent before an offer is written to find out what’s important to the seller. This should be done as a matter of course in any situation. 
  2. Make sure you are pre-approved from a good local lender. These days, sellers won’t even consider offers from buyers who are not pre-approved (pre-qualification is a lower hurdle and is not as strong). You will always be up against other buyers who are pre-approved. Don’t know where to start? Your agent is a great source of lender referrals, and this step should be taken at least several weeks before starting to look at homes. That way, when you find the home of your dreams, you’ll be ready to take action and have your offer taken seriously. 
  3. Increase the amount of your Earnest Money Deposit (EMD). This shows you are serious and want the home. Sellers know that a buyer is much less likely to walk away from a sale if they put down a significant EMD. The earnest money deposit gets credited back to you, the buyer, at closing, so there is minimal risk in putting down more. 
  4. Do not ask for closing cost assistance. Asking the seller to take money out of their pocket is not a tactic to employ in multiple offer situations. The less money out of their pocket the better. To them, it equates to reducing the price of the home.
  5. Consider an escalation clause to mitigate offering too much. That way, you can offer more, but only in increments and only if necessary. Odd-value increments like $1,200 or $1,500 are a good strategy as most people use $1,000 increments. You also have the option to retain the appraisal contingency so if the home does not appraise for what you offered, you have options — including voiding the contract.
  6. Shorten timelines on any contingency. Work with your lender and agent to minimize the time it takes to get financing approval, the appraisal and any inspections — while still protecting you as a buyer. 
  7. Be flexible regarding the closing date. If you have flexibility, offer to work around the seller’s preference for a closing timeline. IF that’s important to the seller.  
  8. Give the seller money. Yes, you heard it right, offer to pay some of their closing costs (like taxes or settlement fees). It’s a creative way to get your offer to stand out.
  9. “Love letters” to the seller are also an option. Let the seller know how much you love their home and what they have done with it. Make it as personal as possible — a handwritten note is definitely the way to go if there is time. If not, send a PDF of the letter. Try to find commonality or connection with the seller…did something in particular really stand out to you when you walked through the home? Did your agent uncover some relevant information when talking to the listing agent that might put your offer at an advantage? If so, use it. Make sure there are no spelling or grammar errors in your note, and close with gratitude and thanks.

Here’s what you need to know

The start of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on our economy has us all wondering how this will impact the housing market, especially for those of you who were planning to sell or buy during the busy spring market. 

As we know from the last major economic downturn, the NoVA area doesn’t seem to be as impacted as the national market. That said, with the impacts the virus has had on employment and the local economy, concern about the real estate market is justified. 

Zillow’s recent housing market projections forecasts a dip in home prices of 2%-3% through the end of 2020 from pre-coronavirus levels. They also predict a pretty steep decline in home sales, forecasted at 60%, before we recover to baseline levels by the end of 2021. That said, our local market data is showing new listings and closings and showings (Fig. 1 and Fig. 2) are tracking closely to 2019 levels. Showings are a bit off (Fig. 3), but clearly that doesn’t seem to be stopping sellers and purchasers from listing and buying. 

Fig.1

Fig. 2

Fig. 3

And, not surprisingly, inventory levels remain low (Fig.4), which means if you targeted the spring to put your home on the market, it’s still a good time to sell.

Fig. 4

If you want to discuss your specific situation and goals, email me at [email protected] and let’s talk!

12120 Garden Ridge Lane, Fairfax, VA

Coming Soon

Presented By:

Maggie Hatfield

Owner/REALTOR®
15 West Homes at Keller Williams Dulles
703-531-7363
Licensed In: VA
License #: 022522588923

  • Link on Facebook
  • Link on Twiiter
  • Connect on LinkedIn
  • Connect on Instagram
 
Logo

$ Click for current price
1 BEDROOMS | 1 Baths (1 full ) BATHROOMS | 797 SqFt

Enjoy the Fairfax lifestyle in this fabulous 1 bedroom, 1.0 bath home. Built in 2005 with a clean and well-planned 797 sqft floorplan. Gleaming hardwood floors, newer paint, updated kitchen with stainless steel appliances and granite counter tops. Open concept family room with formal dining room that walks out to a large covered deck that overlooks trees and walking path. Huge walk in laundry room/pantry combination. Large master bedroom with walk in closet. This beautiful home will sell fast, don’t wait!