Kathy O'Neal
Fairfax, VA 22033
Office: 703.802.2850
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Look For Improvements In The Real Estate Market In 2013

Home Prices Improving March 2013The previous couple years’ doom and gloom outlook is looking like it is turning more upbeat and robust for the rest of 2013.

Home Prices Climb Nearly 10% Over Past Year

In fact, a recently released report by CoreLogic stated that home prices were up 9.7 percent from one year previously.

That kind of increase is a very good sign that the momentum may be building for a strong real estate market this year.

Many other economic experts are predicting that things might be improving this year, including increases in both home prices and sales.

Here are some of the ways that these positive changes may impact Chantilly home buyers and sellers this year.

For Buyers:

Attractive Financing Options

Interest rates could remain at the lowest levels they have been in years, which can make purchasing a home more affordable.

Stiffer Competition

More buyers will be competing for the homes that are available which could mean bidding wars on homes with more than one interested party.

Be sure to take this into consideration before making your offer, and have a licensed real estate professional representing you in your purchase negotiations.

Great Home Prices

Housing remains affordable in many areas of the country.  Although home prices are rising, the cost of real estate is well below what it was ten years ago.

And For Sellers:

Marketing Is Vital

Working with a skilled property professional is imperative to ensure the best advertising and marketing for your listing.

Real estate agents have access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which is where other agents and buyers look for properties that are listed and available for purchase.

Contract Negotiations Prevalent

Multiple offers will become more commonplace.  Do your research on how to best handle contract negotiations.

Maximize Your Selling Price

Make sure you get the most for your home.  Know what other properties are selling for in your neighborhood, and consider hiring a designer to stage your home for showing.

With the Chantilly/Centreville  real estate market shifting, both buyers and sellers need to be aware of how the changes could affect them.

Whether you’re looking for your dream house or wanting to get the highest return on your home for sale, a great next step would be speaking with a qualified real estate professional.

We at The Kathy O’Neal Team are here to help you!  We have a section on our website devoted to seller strategies and buyer strategies that may prove helpful.  Please feel free to contact us anytime!

Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: No Comments »

Quick Tips For Moving To A New Home In Miserable Weather

Moving to a New Home in Miserable WeatherIdeally, when you are moving to a new Chantilly home, you will want to do it on a pleasant and sunny day which makes everything much easier.

However, if you are moving in the winter, or an unexpected deluge shows up on your pre-arranged moving day, it can really dampen your enthusiasm and throw a wrench into your plans.

It can also make you worry about your possessions being damaged as you move them into your new home.

Don’t worry; it’s still possible to move your possessions in the rain, snow or cold.  All you need is a little bit of technique, forethought and planning.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you are moving on a day with terrible weather:

Dress For Success

Make sure everyone in the family is dressed warmly.  You will be going back and forth from indoors to outdoors a lot, so it might be tempting to not bother with your warm clothes.

However, it’s important to dress appropriately.  You don’t want anyone catching a cold.

Wear multiple layers that you can take off or put on accordingly.   Also, remember a rainproof layer if it’s pouring.

Ensure Safety

In snowy climates, clear the driveway and the front porch of snow and ice, and sprinkle them with salt.

This is very important to ensure that no one slips and falls while carrying boxes out of the old house and into your new home.

The last interruption you need on moving day is a trip to the emergency room.

Wrap Up Your Belongings

If it is raining or snowing you will need to protect your belongings from getting wet.

Wrap your furniture in waterproof plastic and seal your boxes with packing tape and plastic.

Invest in enough of these supplies before the moving day so you don’t have to run to the store to buy more in the middle of your move.

Keep It Clean

At your new house, set up an area at the front door with towels so that everyone can dry off the boxes and themselves to avoid tracking rain or snow into the new house.

As these simple tips point out, packing and moving in the rain or snow is a problem that can be overcome with appropriate planning.

Plus, sometimes moving in the winter can give you an advantage because there will be a low service demand that can decrease your moving costs.

And if you are preparing your home to sell, please know that  The Kathy O’Neal Team is here for you!

Please feel free to contact us anytime!  We have a section devoted to seller strategies on our website that may prove helpful!

Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: No Comments »

Chantilly-Centreville Real Estate Investors: The Long Term Perspective

In helping real estate investors in the Chantilly and Centreville area, as well as the overall Northern Virginia region, I have seen two very different perspectives.

One perspective is the “make a fast fortune in real estate” view.  The other is the long-term perspective.

The first view has a good bit of wishful thinking and popular mythology that is not apparent at first look.  It generally includes “creative” ways to get properties vastly below their normal selling price.  Occasionally, someone navigates the huge risks and other considerable barriers and makes something like this happen.  But for the most part, reality wins out and people discover the road to rapid profits is not as promised.

The other view sees real estate investing as a disciplined process done with knowledge and good support.

Investors who take this approach build a team of trusted associates they work with to get the deals done right and get the properties ready to rent (or sell).

This is a time when lots of people are looking at real estate as either an adjunct to their overall investment strategy, or as a way to get started with their first rental property, and build a portfolio of properties that will generate income.

If you want more background on the long-term view, take a moment to check out our Investor Center.  You can take

You can get there.  Get help figuring out your route, and start driving!

You can get there. Get help figuring out your route, and start driving!

our  free video course, and also use our Real Estate Investment calculator as one easy-to-use analytical tool.  (Watch the very brief video, then click “Try it now”).

I want you to know that you don’t need to be a real estate guru or have a fortune to get started in real estate investing.

Today there are people who are enjoying the benefits of monthly income from properties they acquired quite some years ago.  The bought, they improved, they held….and now they enjoy the results.  Take our free course if this approach fits with your perspective.  And let us know if you have any questions about the real estate investment opportunities in the Chantilly and Northern Virginia area.  We are here for you!

Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: No Comments »

Northern Virginia Real Estate Investors: A Tool to Evaluate Potential Properties

If you are a beginning or experienced real estate investor in the Northern Virginia area, you may want to know about an easy to use tool in our Own America Investor Center.

The Case Study Calculator will enable you to plug in a few simple numbers from your potential property.  You can see how a property may perform over time, given varying estimates that you control. One of the critical things for  153079919property investors is doing the best up-front analysis that they can do., in order to start on a solid foundation.  The Case Study Calculator can help you make sound judgments about prospective properties.

Just go to the Investor Center and watch the very short video next to the “Case Study Calculator.  Then, plug in a few basic number and you are off and running.

In addition to the Case Study Calculator, check out our free video course, which is also described in the Investor Center.

We believe the best real estate investing for most part-time investors is to take the conservative, well-researched, and “tried and true” approach that can build real wealth over time.  The video course is based on this reality-based approach.

If we can be of any help or answer questions, please know we are here for you!

Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: No Comments »

Real Estate Investing in Chantilly and Centreville VA Area

Investing in Chantilly and Centreville VA real estate has very real opportunities at this time.

To help anyone who has been thinking about real estate investing in the Chantilly, Centreville, or Northern Virginia area, the Kathy O’Neal Team wants all potential and experienced real estate investors to know that we are now Certified as part of the Own America Investment Network.

We invite you to visit our Investor Center and use any of the free resources that are there for you.  www.realestateinchantilly.com

For example, maybe you are not yet an experienced real estate investor and would just like to get grounded in the basics so that you can see if starting with a first investment might be right for you.

A great place to begin is with our educational videos.  You can watch a few or take the entire video course.

Our approach is very different than the high risk and, in my opinion, highly unrealistic approaches which promise immediate profits.  I have found that those who do well are careful and smart in how they start and how they continue.  Our Investor Center videos will give you reality-based knowledge about how successful investors approach the craft of real estate investment.

Visit the Center and let us know how we can help get you started or continue on your successful journey.  We are here for you!

Written by Fran ONeal | Discussion: No Comments »

Tips For Selling Your Chantilly Home In The Colder Winter Months

Shovel snow on the walkwaysReal estate agents in Chantilly will tell you that it can be harder to sell a home in the winter.  The days are colder and shorter, leaving less time to show a home to potential buyers.

The good news, though, is that most buyers looking at houses in the winter aren’t just killing time.  They’re serious enough about finding a new home to house hunt at a time when most people might rather stay inside.

There are a several steps you can take to make a good impression on home buyers this winter.

First, if there’s snow or ice on the ground, make sure walkways are safe.  Spread out ice melt or sand to provide traction during snowy weather.  Shovel the snow on the driveway and sidewalks to make your home more inviting.  Be sure to place a mat on which for visitors to wipe their feet.

Second, warm up the house.  Buyers will remember the house that was pleasantly warm on a frigid day.  This also demonstrates to buyers that your furnace is in good working order.

Next, to make a “welcoming scent”, bake cookies the day of the showing.  Some people are sensitive to the fragrances in air fresheners and perfumes, so skip spraying those when expecting someone to look at your house.

You can also serve snacks in the kitchen.  Give the buyer a reason to linger in your home by leaving a light snack in the kitchen.  If the weather is cold, consider providing chili or soup in a crock-pot to keep it warm with festive disposable bowls.  Or, to keep it simple, you can provide coffee or hot chocolate and cookies.

Lastly, to make your house appear warm and inviting during cold winter months, turn all the lights in the house on; place warm-toned throws and decorator pillows around the living room.  Play soothing classical or jazz music; keep the volume low enough that buyers can talk quietly to each other.

These techniques each can help your home seem more inviting this winter.

And if you are preparing your home to sell, please know that the Kathy O’Neal Team is here for you!

Please feel free to contact us anytime!  We have a section devoted to seller strategies on our website that may prove helpful!

Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: No Comments »

Help Your Pets Adjust To Your New Chantilly Home

Help pets adjust to a new homeMoving to a new home can be a difficult transition for everyone in the family, including the furry, four-legged members.

Dogs and cats develop a strong bond with their environment so when they are relocated from their territory it can cause them stress.

Here are some tips to ease your pets’ transition to a new home :

Keep Your Mood Calm
Pets are very tuned-in to your emotions and will sense your mood.  If you are stressed throughout the moving process, your cat or dog will pick up on this and it will make him anxious. Try to remain calm and give your pet plenty of attention and reassurance during the process of moving.

Transporting Your Pet
A few weeks before the move, introduce your pet to his pet carrier so that he becomes familiar with it.  It will be much less scary for him to be transported in a carrier, which already has recognizable smells and perhaps a favorite chew toy or blanket inside.  When you are moving your pets to your new home, it is a good idea not to feed them for about three hours before setting off, as this can help to prevent accidents while in transit.

Upon Arrival
When you get to your new Chantilly residence, place your pets in one room of the house and provide them with water, food, and a few familiar possessions.  Keep them in a closed room while you move things in, as the process of moving boxes and furniture can be chaotic and doors can be left open.  Once everything has been moved in, you can take the time to give your pet some one-on-one attention.

Dogs find routines comforting, so try to stick to the same schedule of feeding and walking in your new home.  Cats will want to explore and rub their scent all over the house to claim it as their territory.  A cat might attempt to return to its old home after a move, so keep it indoors for a few weeks at first.

These are just a few ways that you can make moving to a new home a better experience for your beloved pets.  If you’d like more suggestions for helping your pets and family adjust to a move, call or email me with your questions. The Kathy O’Neal Team is here to help you find your new home!

Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: No Comments »

27 Months Of Consecutive Job Growth Helping Home Prices Rise

Job growth helping housing recoveryThe Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Non-Farm Payrolls report for December exceeded Wall Street’s expectations by 5,000 net new jobs, showing 155,000 positions created in December.

The December tally raised the economy’s 12-month total to 1.84 million net new jobs created nationwide.  Jobs added in December mark the 27th consecutive month of job growth.

Job sectors showing the strongest growth to close out 2012 included:

Private-sector hiring is driving the jobs market, too.  168,000 new private sector jobs were added in December.  Government jobs fell by thirteen thousand.

Monthly job creation has averaged +153,000 jobs since 12 months ago.  It’s a fine measure of growth but economists believe it’s not enough job creation to significantly reduce the national unemployment rate. 14.4 percent of workers are categorized as under-employed.

December’s national unemployment rate was 7.8 percent, representing 4.8 million job seekers.  This figure matched Wall Street’s expectations and was equal to November revised unemployment rate of 7.8 percent.

The improving jobs market and national unemployment rate make an impact on both mortgage rates and Chantilly home prices.

Job creation suggests an expanding economy, which typically leads mortgage rates higher.  In addition, with more employed persons nationwide, the potential home buyer pool grows larger, which introduces new demand to the housing market. With more demand, all things equal, home prices rise.

Job growth is one reason why home values climbed more than 5 percent in 2012, according to the Federal Home Finance Agency; and why the national housing supply would be exhausted in fewer than 5 months, at the current sales pace.  Demand for homes is high and today’s low mortgage rates are extending buyer purchasing power in the Chantilly area.

For home buyers, the expanding U.S. economy and steady job growth suggests that home prices may not rocket higher this year, but will continue to increase, little by little.

If you are considering purchasing a home we are here to help!   Our website has many useful  tools for home buying and you can contact me directly with any questions.

Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: No Comments »

How To Improve Your FICO Score

Chantilly Homeowners – The U.S. housing market recovery is underway.  New home sales are at a multi-year high, housing starts are at pre-recession levels, and home builders plan for a strong 2013.

Since late-2011, falling mortgage rates have boosted buyer purchasing power.  Now, today, in many U.S. markets, the number of active home buyers outnumbers the number of active home sellers.  It’s among the reasons why home supplies remain scarce and why home prices are rising.

Roughly 20 percent of today’s home buyers purchase homes with cash.  For everyone else, the ability to gain mortgage approval depends on income, assets, and, most importantly, credit scores.  Your credit score is a predictor of your future payment performance and lenders pay close attention.

If you plan to buy a home in the Chantilly or Centreville area  or anywhere else in the next 12 months, spend some time with this The Today Show interview.  It’s five minutes of practical credit scoring advice, including separation of credit score myth from credit score fact.

Among the credit scoring tips shared :

You’ll also learn about utility companies and why you should never be late with payment.

As compared to August 2011, last month’s average, mortgage-financing home buyer’s FICO score improved 9 points to 750.  The average “denied” mortgage applicant’s FICO score was 704.  Clearly, standards are high. However, credit scoring is a system and, with time, you can improve your rating.

Watch the interview and find ways to make your credit score better. With better credit comes better mortgage rates.

And if you are considering buying or selling a property in Northern Virginia let us know how we can help!  As always, we are here to serve Chantilly and Northern Virginia area home buyers and sellers with our signature personal and state-of-the-art service which is described in the voices of our clients in this Testimonial video.

Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: No Comments »

Existing Home Sales Leap To 2-Year High

Existing Home Sales By Price Tier, August 2012

Chantilly Homeowners – The home resale market put forth another strong data set last week.  Home sales prices are higher nationwide and sales volume has moved to a 2-year high.

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, 4.82 million “existing homes” sold on a seasonally-adjusted, annualized basis in August, representing a near 8 percent improvement from the month prior and a nine percent jump from August 2011.

An existing home is a home which has been previously occupied.

Home sales were unevenly split across price tiers, with more than half of all homes selling for less than $250,000.  This suggests that the first-time home buyers and real estate investors continue to be active in today’s market as a foundation for growth is built.

According to the Existing Home Sales data :

Also noteworthy is that “distressed homes” accounted for the smallest percentage of overall home sales since the real estate trade group starting tracking such data.

In August, homes in various stages of foreclosures accounted for 12% of all sales and sold at an average discount of 19 percent below market value.  Short sale homes accounted for 10% of all sales and sold at an average discount of 13 percent below market value.

Of all the data in the August Existing Home Sales report, though, perhaps most relevant to today’s buyers is the shrinking national housing supply.

At August’s end, there were 2.47 million homes listed for sale nationwide, a three percent increase from the month prior.  However, because the pool of available home buyers is increasing more rapidly than the number of homes for sale, housing supplies fell 0.3 months to 6.1 months.

This means that at the current pace of sales, the entire housing supply would be sold by March 2013.

For today’s home buyers, home affordability appears poised to worsen.  Mortgage rates and home prices remain low today, but market conditions like these rarely last long.  Talk to your real estate agent about what options you have ahead of you.  2012 is coming to a close.

By 2013, the housing recovery may be fully underway.

And if you are considering buying or selling real estate, we invite you to hear what others are saying about The Kathy O’Neal Team.  As always, we are here to serve Chantilly and Northern Virginia area home buyers and sellers with our signature personal and state-of-the-art service.

Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: No Comments »