4 Things every home-buyer should know before buying a home.

There are a number of things every home-buyer should know before buying a home. There is no sense getting excited over a home purchase without covering all of your bases first. So, let’s get started.

Home-buyer rule 1

Every home-buyer needs to know what they can spend before contacting a Realtor. That means, drop by a lenders office first. I just had a buyer find a house, put an offer in, give an EMD and do a home inspection. Then, I received a note from the lender who had given me a pre-qualification letter 45 days earlier, telling me the buyer wasn’t actually qualified.

Buyers, check your own credit. Go to a reputable lender and have them qualify you. Better yet, get them to pre-approve you. In my case, the lender’s incompetence allowed this buyer to go way too far into the process before realizing the mistake. It cost the buyers money, the Realtor time and money and the sellers time off the market. Check and double-check.

Home-buyer rule 2

Don’t change your credit report in any way other than positive ways. Once you start the home-buying process, stop using credit. Pay your bills on time and don’t add any more debt. Don’t open up any new credit accounts, don’t buy new furniture for your new house, don’t buy a car and don’t take time off of work before closing. Freeze in place. You want your credit report to look better just before closing, and your lender will pull your credit right before closing.

Home-buyer rule 3

Make sure you hire a Realtor who can make things happen. I just had an agent who was too green to be out on her own. She sent an offer to purchase agreement 6 times in 5 days before she got one right. She also missed that they property was being sold “as-is” in the listing. Her clients had a home inspection, which is perfectly fine, but there is a better than average change the seller isn’t going to do anything. When she submitted her 3 pages of repair requests, I had to reminder her that the house was being sold as-is. She was dumbfounded.

Her home-buyer spent money for the report, and again, it’s fine to do them for information purposes when a home is listed as-is, but there is no sense in asking the seller to fix things when he has already made it public knowledge that he will not. Pick someone with a proven track record and negotiation skills. This agent had neither, and it costs her clients money, the home and the seller time off the market.

Home-buyer rule 4

Use the Internet to find your dream home before calling your agent. No agent in any community knows every home in the community. You can glean much information on the Internet before calling your agent. Drive by the properties that interest you and once you’ve settled on an area, home style and price range, then have your Realtor confirm the status of the homes and go shopping. Your agent can set up an automatic update for you that will add to your own efforts. Spend the majority of your time looking at homes online before looking at them in person. You can cut a lot of homes that aren’t right for you this way.

When you’re ready to make the leap into home-ownership, give Cornerstone Business Group, Inc., a call. We are your neighborhood real estate sales pros.


Canter Estates, Stephens City, VA – Mid-Year Real Estate Update – 2018

Canter Estates, Stephens City, VA – Mid-Year Real Estate Update – 2018

The Canter Estates, Stephens City, VA mid-year real estate update for 2018 shows a community that is hitting all the right notes. The numbers that need to be up are up and those that need to be down are down. The trajectory of the community is on an upward path and a great 2018.

Canter Estates, Stephens City, VA: Growing Average Home Sale Prices

The average home sale price for the first six months of 2018 was $372,074. That is a Canter Estates, Stephens City, VA - Mid-Year Real Estate Update - 20185% improvement from 2017 and a 19% increase in home sale prices since 2014. Each year since 2014, the average sale price has risen. The smallest rise was in 2015 at 1%, but increases have been from 4% in 2016 to 8% in 2018.

That’s good news for homeowners who have waited for right time to list their homes. The continued good news coming out of the real estate market should bolster seller’s confidence that now is a safe time to sell at a profit. The pains of the 2008 market collapse are no longer on the minds of homeowners, and that is justified. The new market is strong, steady and moving in the right direction. There are no whipsaw features built into it and sellers and buyers can enter the market with confidence that the market has reached a healthy place.

Canter Estates, Stephens City, VA: Distressed No More

One of the most encouraging numbers in the Canter Estates subdivision is the number of distressed properties that sold in the first six months of 2018. Distressed properties are made up of foreclosures and short sales. Canter Estates had zero (0) distressed sales the first six months of 2018. That is a pattern that has built for the past five years. The neighborhood has only had three in fives years. That is an incredible number when comparing Canter Estates to other Stephens City subdivisions.

One last number that is showing a good consistent pattern is days on the market. The average days on the market for the first six months of 2018 was 36. That is consistent with the past five years. Days on the market is an unusual marker for any market health survey. It can give a false view or a very right view of the market. There are many things that affect the DOM. Location, condition and price all affect the price and sale-ability of a home. If a home is in good condition, it’s priced well and it’s in a desirable area, it should sell quickly, and the Canter Estates DOM shows those three are right where they need to be.

When you’re ready to buy or sell in the Canter Estates subdivision, give Mike Cooper a call. Mike is your local real estate sales pro.


Winchester-Frederick County, VA Mid-Year Real Estate Market Update – 2018

Winchester-Frederick County, VA Mid-Year Real Estate Market Update – 2018

The Winchester-Frederick County, VA mid-year real estate market update for 2018 continues to show promise of a good year despite the effects of a few headwinds. Throughout the country, many housing markets have slowed. There are many pockets of robust sales, but in a general sense, there has been a slowdown. Forbes magazine points to a housing slowdown in its six predictions for the 2018 housing market.

A Pull-back in Winchester-Frederick County, VA Home Sales

Winchester-Frederick Co., VA did see a slight pull-back from 2017 home sales. Housing Winchester-Frederick County, VA Mid-Year Real Estate Market Update - 2018sales were 827 for the first half of 2018. That is a 4% decline over 2017 sales (856). The majority of local sales were in the Frederick County side of the market, which is consistent year to year. Frederick County had 665 sales in the first half of 2018 and Winchester City had 162. The 2017 sales were Frederick County at 682 and Winchester City at 174.

There were contributing factors in the decline in sales. Low inventory continues to haunt the country. There are 365 available homes on the Winchester-Frederick County, VA housing market. That is a considerable improvement from the first of the year, and an even greater improvement from the Fall of 2017. With the market finding its most aggressive point at 500-600 homes available at any time, 365 is still only 73% of the low-side of a healthy market. The current number of available homes is 2.9 months of inventory.

Winchester vs Frederick County, VA Home Sale Appreciation

As inventory improves, other factors are affecting home-buyers. Local home prices have fluctuated both up and down over the year to year statistics. Frederick County, VA has seen a 7% price increase on an average home. The first six months saw an average home selling at $284,590, while 2017 was $265,844. That is good news for county home-owners who are in the market to sell.

Winchester City did not fare as well. The Winchester City market was off by 9.8%. The average housing price dropped from $270,575 in 2017 to $243,834 in 2018. Availability may have been an issue in the city, but for those who choose to live in the city, affordable housing may be another problem. Many of those who are now renting are having a struggle saving enough money for down-payments, earnest money deposits and mortgage payments. Local rental costs have soared in the past few years, putting potential home-buyers on the sidelines. U. S. News and World Report has predicted that climbing rental costs will keep more Americans in rentals in 2018. 

Winchester-Frederick County, VA Distressed Sales

One area of the Winchester-Frederick County, VA real estate market that has not been Winchester-Frederick County, VA Mid-Year Real Estate Market Update - 2018a drag on home sales and value, has been the distressed property sales. Distressed properties are foreclosures and short sales. The 2018 mid-year average was at 6.4%. That is slightly higher than 2017, but it is small. The 2017 number was 5.7%. The local real estate market has hovered around 6% for many of the years since the recession of 2008 – 2013. The national average has fallen consistently and is at the lowest level since 2007. 

There are currently 232 pending sales in the local market. Of that number, 4.2% are distressed properties. A greater and more encouraging number is the number of new construction homes that are under contract. Currently, 14% of the pending home sales are new construction.

If new construction is factored into the local available housing numbers, there are 579 homes available. That is 37% of the local available properties. That brings the available properties back in line with a strong and vibrant market. The only issue with “to-be-built” homes is the waiting period. If a new resident, or a current home-owner who chooses to build a new home, the waiting period may force the new resident into a rental, and that same period may compel the home-owner to keep the current home off the market until a short time before the new home is ready to move into, stifling inventory.

The Winchester-Frederick County, VA housing market can be very static at times. After the challenges of the pre-and-post recession, a more steady movement in the market is welcome. It would be ideal to see an increase in inventory and sales, but as long as the critical numbers are moving in the right direction, the local market is consistently improving.

When you’re ready to buy or sell in the Winchester-Frederick County, VA real estate market, give us a call. Cornerstone Business Group, Inc., is your local real estate sales pro, and we can make something great happen with your housing needs.

Canter Estates, Stephens City, VA 1st Quarter Real Estate Report – 2018

Canter Estates, Stephens City, VA 1st Quarter Real Estate Report – 2018

Canter Estates, Stephens City, VA had a great first quarter real estate report. The market is up 100% over 2017, and it had no foreclosures or short sales. The number of Canter Estates, Stephens City, VA 1st Quarter Real Estate Report - 2018distressed properties is significant. During the down days of the recession, the first quarter in Canter Estates was heavily dominated by distressed properties. For instance, 2010 had 75% distressed properties in 1st quarter sales, 2011 had 50% and 2012 was back up to 75%. Zero distressed properties in 2018 should give homeowners confidence that their property values are steady and heading up.

Canter Estates, Stephens City, VA 1st Quarter: Property values climb

The lack of distressed properties bodes well for property values in Canter Estates. Foreclosures and short sales in any neighborhood can drag property values down. When they are absent, true property values surface.

Canter Estates, Stephens City, VA 1st Quarter Real Estate Report - 2018Another positive sign for Canter Estates is the average sales price. Each year since 2014, average sales price has risen. From 2014 to 2015 property values rose 4.6%. The rise was smaller from 2015 to 2016 with a 1% change in values. The biggest property increase happened between 2016 to 2017 with 14% and 2017 to 2018 climbed 1.5%. The good news in the numbers is that there has been a steady climb in property values and a steady decline in distressed properties.

Canter Estates, Stephens City, VA 1st Quarter: Another number that can give insight into a neighborhood’s health is Day on the Market.

Days on the market is an unusual indicator of a real estate market’s health. In some cases, it can be significant. In other scenarios, it can show almost nothing. It is not an indicator that I would encourage home buyers or sellers to depend on when it comes to the decision-making process.

Canter Estates is a perfect example of a subdivision where the DOM mean nearly nothing. The numbers have hardly changed over the past five years. They have gone from 55 in 2014 to 53 in 2018. The shortest DOM was 2016 at 39, and the longest was 2015 with 61. The change is so insignificant, that it would not be a number that would give a buyer an advantage in the offer price, nor would it tell a seller there is something wrong with his/her home.

Canter Estates, Stephens City, VA 1st Quarter: Steady, healthy and highly desirable.

If I was going to describe Canter Estates, Stephens City, VA, I would say it is a neighborhood that is steady, healthy and highly desirable. Its position along highway Rt 522 gives is quick access to Rt 66, I81, Rt 50 and Rt 7. It is a commuters dream come true. Quick access to the DC metro area makes it valuable for commuters, and the home prices are stunning in comparison to its eastern neighbors.

When you’re ready to buy or sell in Canter Estates, Stephens City, VA, give me a call at Cornerstone Business Group, Inc. I am your local real estate sales pro, and I’m here to help you make something great happen.