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Archive for August, 2011

Real Estate Market Report for Alexandria and Northern Virginia July 2011

Have you ever vacationed in a favorite locale and thought, “I’d love to own a home here.”

It might be time to give that notion serious consideration as we draw towards the end of our traditional summer vacation months.   Several factors are currently in place which make owning a vacation home a viable opportunity and a worthwhile investment.

Vacation homes are more affordable than they’ve been in recent years, making a secondary residence a way to save money, generate income and build equity.

coldwell-banker-logoNot only will you always have a home waiting in your favorite vacation spot, you have the option to rent it for select periods of time.  In fact we are renting a house later this month through Vacation Rental by Owner (VRBO).

It’s also possible that this second residence might eventually become a primary residence, allowing a way to start preparing now for retirement.

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, lower prices have opened up the door for more families to own vacation homes. The median price of a vacation home was $150,000 in 2010, an 11.2 percent drop from when the median price was $169,000 in 2009. As a comparison, the median price of a primary residence in 2010 was $176,700, 4.5 percent less than the $185,000 median in 2009.

The housing market in general is favorable for qualified buyers at this point in time. Home prices are down an average of 27 percent from peak values five years ago. Even though second mortgages tend to have higher rates and shorter terms, interest rates as a whole remain near historic lows.

If you’re thinking of purchasing a vacation home, there’s another reason to consider it now: Unless Congress acts soon, conforming loan limits are being reduced on October 1, decreasing the availability and affordability of mortgage credit for many buyers.

If you want to understand what is happening in the real estate industry as it directly impacts your buying and selling decisions, look to the linked graphs below and then call me at 703.927.4554.



Fairfax Country

Faquier County

Loudoun County

Prince William

Washington, DC

I will provide you with facts and the current market conditions that are relevant to you, in your local area. It’s my job to dissect those national headlines and give you the right kind of information you need to make the right decisions.

Let’s do this together,


Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 9 Comments »

FSBO Founder Hires Realtor to Sell New York Property

This great story came across our desk today and we couldn’t resist sharing – especially since it emphasizes what an important role Realtors® play in the residential housing market.

Seems that Colby Sambrotto, founder and former CEO of ForSaleByOwner.com (FSBO) turned to a real live real estate agent after his property languished on the New York market for six months.

The new agent immediately lowered the price, attracted multiple offers and closed for $150,000 over the original asking price.

ForSaleByOwnerSignAs AGBeat columnist Herman Chan noted, “If people want to take a stab at For Sale By Owner (FSOB), go for it.  But well over 80% of FSBO’s eventually list with a real estate agent to get their house sold.  It’s harder than it looks!

Consider this – I choose to be a Realtor®, I love my job and I do it every day.

Why take a chance (not to mention your time and energy) on what you can only do part-time.

If you are considering selling your house yourself or even if you already have an FSBO sign in your front yard, give me a call  at 703.927.4554 and let’s see what a difference a Realtor® can make for you.


Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 1 Comment »

Renter’s – Ask About “Move In Fees”

I do a fair number of rental for clients who have investment property or are moving away from the area for a few years.  One thing I have noticed recently, especially with condominium associations, is a “move in fee.”  What this fee really covers is anyone’s guess but it’s there and it has to be paid.

If you are the property owner, talk to your real estate agent about how you want to handle the fee.  Will you pay it or will you include it in the listing along with security and pet deposits?

for-rentIf you are going to include it in the upfront fees, double check the listing paper work – mistakes happen.

A client of mine moved into a condominium rental property just yesterday.  Today he called because the association was trying to collect a $150 move in fee.

A few phone calls later, it was determined that the fee was not included in the original paperwork, a mistake on the part of the listing agent, and she ended up paying the fee out of her commission.

If you are the renter, ask the agent to detail the upfront fees before making a final decision or signing a contract.  If the property has languished on the market for awhile, this may be a item for negotiation – and it never hurts to try.   One thing you should never have to pay however is the monthly condominium fee – that is the responsibility of the property owner.

The Northern Virginia/Washington, DC area has some of the highest rental rates in the country and you need to know exactly what you are paying for.

Give me a call at 703.927.4554 if you have any questions or need to rent.


Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently No Comments »

Grape and Bean Coming to Rosemont?

Grape and Bean, a small, independent coffee shop and wine bar in Old Town Alexandria, has announced it’s intention to occupy a space in Alexandria’s Rosemont neighborhood at Commonwealth and East Walnut Streets.

Grape and Bean in Old Town

Grape and Bean in Old Town

From what we understand, Grape and Bean would also operate as a small grocery, carrying on a long tradition in this location and offering  basics in addition to well selected cheeses, wine and bread.

Rosemont is a heavily residential neighborhood without the shops and restaurants of either Old Town or Del Ray.

We’ve heard a few folks question the feasibility of a wine bar and whether that would attract an ‘unsavory element’ and add to parking woes.

Rosemont Market

Rosemont Market

Other residents look forward to walking in their own neighborhood for a cup of coffee, a glass of wine and a bite to eat.

Sounds good to me – and it would definitely add to Rosemont’s walkability score.

Want to know more about houses in Rosemont?  Give me a call at 703.927.4554 and we’ll go exploring!


Update (August 13, 2001) – we met a friend in Old Town the other day for a good ‘catch up’ over a cup of coffee and choose the Grape and Bean on South Royal.  What a treat!  Small, friendly and quiet,  this establishment seems to have ‘good neighbor’ written all over it.

Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently No Comments »

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