Northern Virginia Real Estate and Community News

Feb. 15, 2018

Which Comes First… Marriage or Mortgage?

Which Comes First… Marriage or Mortgage? | MyKCM

According to the National Association of REALTORS most recent Profile of Home Buyers & Sellers, married couples once again dominated the first-time homebuyer statistics in 2017 at 57% of all buyers. It is no surprise that having two incomes to save for down payments and contribute to monthly housing costs makes buying a Northern Virginia home more attainable.

But, many couples are also deciding to buy a home before spending what would be a down payment on a wedding, as unmarried couples made up 16% of all first-time buyers last year.

If you’re single, don’t fret! Single women made up 18% of first-time buyers in 2017, while single men accounted for 7% of buyers. A recent report pointed to a sense of responsibility and commitment that drives many single women to want to own their own homes rather than rent someone else’s.

Here is the breakdown of all first-time homebuyers in 2017 by percentage of all buyers, income, and age:

Which Comes First… Marriage or Mortgage? | MyKCM

Bottom Line

You may not be that much different than those who have already purchased their first homes. Let’s get together to determine if your Northern Virginia dream home is already within your grasp!


Robin Butler, Your friend in the real estate business




Posted in Buying a Home
Feb. 8, 2018

How to Get a Free Credit Report


We should talk about credit reports. These reports are critical to the Northern Virginia homeownership process, but many people don’t really understand them. Let’s break them down some.

What is a credit report?

Credit reports contain your basic information, as well as your credit activity, past credit information and current credit status. It highlights your credit situation and shows your loan payment history and current credit accounts. Credit reporting companies, or credit bureaus, collect your financial data from creditors, such as lenders and credit card companies. Creditors do not have to report to every credit reporting company, so people can have multiple credit reports.

What else is included?

Credit reports include credit accounts and credit limits. They also show your account balance and payment history. Reports include public records, like foreclosures, bankruptcies and civil suits, as well.

Why should I care?

These reports are important to lenders. They look at these reports to help determine if they will loan you money and, if so, at what interest rate. They also use credit reports to determine if you still meet the terms of a current lending agreement. Credit reports are also used by other companies to determine whether to provide you insurance or cell phone service.

Where can I see my credit reports?

The first place to get a copy of your credit report is from the government (the Federal Trade Commission, in this case). Everyone is entitled to one free copy of their credit report from all three of the national credit reporting companies each year. To order, visit or call 1-877-322-8228.

Another option is to visit Credit Karma. Credit Karma offers free reports from two major credit reporting companies: TransUnion and Equifax. Visit to begin the process.

There’s another website that offers your Experian credit report. Visit to see your account history, hard inquiries from lenders or landlords and potentially negative information.

Another option is to check with your credit card company or bank. Many credit cards and banks will also have free credit report opportunities.

How can I make sure my credit report is good?

There are many steps you can take to help make your credit report better.

  • First of all, remember what goes into your credit score and report: payment history, debt level, credit age, credit mix and recent credit.
  • Secondly, pay all of your bills on time and in full - from utilities to credit cards, any unpaid bills could show up on your credit report.
  • Third, keep your credit card balances low and pay off as much as you can.
  • Next, manage your debt and pay off loans as quickly as possible.
  • Finally, check your credit report.

 As mentioned earlier, you’re entitled to one free report from the government every year. Even if you only use that outlet, check your report and make sure it is error-free. This can help save you money and save your score.

Have you gotten a credit report before? Do you have any other tips on how to keep up a good credit score and report? Do you monitor your credit? I’d love to hear about your experiences, especially if they relate to home ownership here in Northern Virginia!


Robin Butler, Your friend in the real estate business


Posted in Buying a Home
Feb. 1, 2018

Why Northern Virginia Millennials Choose To Buy

5 Reasons Millennials Choose to Buy [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

  • “The majority of millennials said they consider owning a home more sensible than renting for both financial and lifestyle reasons — including control of living space, flexibility in future decisions, privacy and security, and living in a nice home.”

  • The top reason millennials choose to buy is to have control over their living space, at 93%.

  • Many millennials who rent a home or apartment prior to buying their own homes dream of the day when they will be able to paint the walls whatever color they’d like, or renovate an outdated part of their living space.

Does this sound like you? If you're interested in learning more about buying a home, let's talk about it. 

Robin Butler, Your friend in the real estate business


Posted in Buying a Home
Jan. 25, 2018

Top 5 Reasons Home Ownership is Good for You


Everyone knows that owning a home is a good financial decision. If you’re looking to stay here in Northern Virginia and maybe do some DIY projects, a home can be a good investment. There are other reasons that make owning a home a good decision, as well. Here are the top five.


1. Owning a home has a positive impact on educational achievement

Have kids in school? Looking to go back to school yourself? Homeownership might help you be more successful. Findings from the National Association of Realtors have consistently shown that owning a home is significantly correlated with educational achievement. Researchers do not know, however, if it is the act of owning a home, consistent, stable housing or simply a good neighborhood that specifically creates this achievement. No matter what it is, though, owning a home could help you or your children be more successful.


2. The pride of ownership and having a “family home”

This is a personal decision more than anything, but 6% of respondents in a Gallup poll said that pride in ownership was their primary reason for purchasing a home. Furthermore, 7% of respondents said they were motivated to become homeowners because of the idea of having a “family home.” If the quintessential American Dream idea is pulling you to invest in a home, it might not be a bad idea.


3. Save the environment

With your own home, you can control the energy efficiency. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to invest in and install solar panels? Do you think you could cut down on your heating and air conditioning by adding some more insulation? If your landlord isn’t on the environmental wagon, it might be difficult to convince him to do the costly renovations. In your own home, however, you can add whatever energy-saving upgrades you can imagine.


4. Similarly, you’re done with landlords

Some landlords can be wonderful people who care about their renters, and I hope you’ve had those experiences. Chances are, though, there’s been some landlord that either you’ve worked with or you’ve heard someone talk about who delayed non-essential repairs. You might even know someone who has been evicted because the landlord decided to sell. If you own your home, you have protection from landlords. Sure, you have to be available when the air vent company can come to your house, but you can schedule when that happens and ensure that it does.


5. Security and community

 As I mentioned, owning your home puts you in a position of security as a landlord cannot evict you because their family member wants to move to town. Moving from rental to rental can be stressful, even subconsciously, and having a secure place to call home can often cause children (and adults) to thrive. When you’re settled in one place, you oftentimes become more involved in the community. Whether that means a local association, spending time at the neighborhood park or participating in block parties, forming a community is beneficial to everyone. We have lots of communities here in Northern Virginia just waiting for you to find your home.


So what do you think? Homeowners: what did I miss? Why did you buy a home, other than financial reasons? Renters: is there a particular reason you don’t want a home? Give me a call soon - I’d love to discuss your situation and help you find your perfect home.


Robin Butler

Your friend in the real estate business



Posted in Buying a Home
Jan. 18, 2018

The Impact Staging Your Northern Virginia Home Has on Sales Price

I could wax poetic all day long on reasons for staging your Northern Virgina home for sale but I think this infographic sums it up nicely.




The Impact Staging Your Home Has on Sales Price [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights:

  • The National Association of Realtors surveyed their members & released the findings of their Annual Profile of Home Staging.
  • 50% of staged homes saw a 1-10% increase in dollar value offers from buyers.
  • 77% of buyer’s agents said staging made it easier for buyers to visualize the home as their own.
  • The top rooms to stage in order to attract more buyers are the living room, master bedroom, kitchen, and dining room.

In the end, people want to see a home that at least feels like a home and staging creates that. If you have questions about this or anything else regarding real estate in Northern Virginia, feel free to reach out. I'd be happy to help.


Robin Butler

Your friend in the real estate business



Jan. 11, 2018

Tax Reform & Housing: A Reference Guide


Disclaimer: This guide is not meant to be a resource for tax advice but instead a resource for basic information concerning only certain aspects of the new tax code and how they may impact the real estate market. You should get tax advice from your accountant or tax preparer who will explain how the entire tax code will affect your personal return.


This information comes immediately after the new tax code became law. Some of the information may be revised as the analysis of the new law evolves.

When the tax code was originally being overhauled by the House and the Senate, there were three major proposals being considered that would have substantially impacted the residential real estate market, including Northern Virginia:

  • Changing the requirements for the exclusion of gain on the sale of a principal residence
  • The reduction on the limit of the Mortgage Interest Deduction (MID)
  • The elimination of the State and Local Tax deduction (SALT) which includes property taxes

Let’s look how the tax code has evolved from the original proposal, and decipher what impact experts believe it may have on the housing market.

1. Exclusion of gain on sale of a principal residence

Original Proposal: Owners would need to live in their house for at least 5 out of the last 8 years to claim this exemption. Under the former tax framework, a typical owner, who has lived in their house for at least 2 years out of the last 5 years, would pay nothing in capital gain taxes if they sell the house.

The New Tax Code: No change. The “at least 2 years out of the last 5 years” requirement is unchanged.

Impact on the Market: None.

2. Mortgage Interest Deduction

Original Proposal: Reduce the limit on the mortgage interest deduction (MID) amount from $1,000,000 to $500,000.

The New Tax Code: Reduces limit on deductible mortgage debt to $750,000 for new loans taken out after 12/14/17. Current loans up to $1 million are grandfathered.

Impact on the Market: Assuming a 20% down payment, this reduction in the MID will impact buyers that are purchasing a home between the prices of $938,000 and $1,250,000. Any home under the lower price is still covered and any home over the higher price was not covered under the former tax code either.

What does that mean to the market? Experts disagree. Calculated Risk’s Bill McBride:

“I think the impact of reducing the MID from a maximum of $1 million in mortgage debt to $750 thousand in mortgage debt will have very little impact on the housing market.”

On the other hand, Capital Economics claims:

“The impact on expensive homes could be detrimental, with a limit on the mortgage interest deduction raising taxes for those that itemize.”

3. State and Local Taxes (SALT)

Original Proposal: The elimination of the state and local tax deduction (which includes property taxes).

The New Tax Code: Allows an itemized deduction of up to $10,000 for the total of state and local property taxes and income or sales taxes.

Impact on the Market: Most experts agree that higher taxed regions will be impacted as homeowners in those communities now have a cap on these deductions.

Calculated Risk’s Bill McBride stated:

“SALT will have an impact on housing in some areas. Some people might choose to live in one state over another (if they have a choice), based on taxation. This could impact demand in certain states – especially for the middle and upper-middle class homeowners.”

Mark Zandi of Moody’s Analytics said:

“The impact on house prices is much greater for higher-priced homes, especially in parts of the country where incomes are higher and there are thus a disproportionate number of itemizers, and where homeowners have big mortgages and property tax bills.”

What will be the overall impact on the housing market?

For most of the country, the new tax code will not have a negative impact on the market. As Capital Economics reports:

“Given most households will see an overall tax cut, and potential buyers are likely to put that saving towards their home, we doubt it will have a significant detrimental impact on the housing market.”

There is also no doubt that some higher priced, higher taxed regions will be affected more than others. However, most experts agree that other portions of the tax code will favor the high-end buyer and seller, and this might mitigate many concerns. McBride explains:

“The corporate tax cuts (and other tax cuts) will mostly benefit the wealthy, and this will be a positive for high end real estate.”

What does this all mean to you?

To know for sure, you should sit with your accountant or financial planner and explore how all the aspects of the new code will impact your family.

Most families consider homeownership an essential part of the American Dream, and don’t purchase a home based solely on the tax advantages. The main reasons they buy a home are personal (they just got married, they are looking for a good place to raise children, they want to be near friends and family, they want to better enjoy their retirement, etc.). This will never change.

Looking at the new tax code, Mr. McBride’s opinion makes the most sense:

“There will be some negative impact based on SALT, but overall the impact of these policy changes on housing will be minimal.”

In the end, people will still want and need to buy homes. If you are looking at a real estate transaction in Northern Virginia, give me a call. I'd be happy to help.


Robin Butler

"Your friend in the real estate business."


Posted in Real Estate News
Jan. 4, 2018

Seven Reasons to Sell Your Northern Virginia Home During Winter


Believe it or not, winter might be a good time to list your Northern Virginia home on the market. Everyone knows that spring and summer are the most popular times to sell a home, so listing in the winter might sound counterintuitive. Here’s a list of seven reasons to list your home in the next couple of months..


1. Fewer people are looking to buy houses, but they are more serious about doing so.

The amount of showings is smaller in the winter than in the spring. However, the buyers that are looking in January and February are more serious and motivated than people in the more high-traffic months of the spring and summer.


2. Companies begin relocating employees in the first quarter of the year.

Many companies use the first of the year as a prime time to place some of their employees. These employees, therefore, have an immediate need to find a home and often even have some moving expenses from their company to help make their decision.


3. Fewer houses are on the market, so buyers have fewer choices.

This goes hand-in-hand with my first two points. Since most people choose not to list their homes in the winter, the homes that are on the market get more attention. Buyers are limited by the inventory listed, meaning your home will likely gain more attention than when the market is more crowded in the spring.


4. You can highlight the seasonal perks of your home.

Have a great fireplace in your family room? Is your basement perfect for hosting holiday parties? A few simple decorations can help potential buyers see their future memories. In the midst of the cold, gloomy weather, a warm, welcoming home with light winter decorations can stand out to buyers.


5. You don’t have to stress as much about landscaping.

While you still want to make sure your house has nice curb appeal, buyers will likely not be looking at the landscaping during these chilly months. Flowers, trees and hedges that don’t grow in the winter mean less of your focus needs to be directed toward your outdoor green space.


6. Your home will already be available for buyers looking to get a jump on the spring market.

Spring is just around the corner, so listing a home early ensures you are ready for buyers as soon as they begin looking. Buyers know the competition will be stiffer in the spring, so prepared buyers might begin their search early to get ahead of the crowd.

7. You’ve already prepared your home for winter - use that to your advantage.

To get ready for winter, you’ve probably changed your air filters, had your furnace serviced and potentially even had your roof inspected. All of these are great selling points to potential buyers. Your home is in great shape and you can provide inspection results upon request.

So, have I convinced you yet? Listing your Northern Virginia home in the winter can be a good decision for you - especially if the market is right. Give me a call and I will gladly help you start the process.


Robin Butler,

"Your friend in the real estate business."


Posted in Selling Your Home
Dec. 28, 2017

2017 Local Real Estate Update

Last week, we talked about the overall US real estate market. This week, I'm updating you on the local market. 



Here's wishing you a fabulous 2018. If you have any questions or need any real estate assistance, feel free to contact me and pass my name along.



Robin Butler,

"Your friend in the real estate business."


Dec. 21, 2017

2017 US Real Estate Market Update

2017 has been a wild ride and the real estate industry is no exception. Overall, it's been a good year for real estate. Here's a brief update on where the overall market stands. Next week, I'll provide a local market update.





Robin Butler,

"Your friend in the real estate business."


2017 US Real Estate Market Update from Robin Butler on Vimeo.

Dec. 14, 2017

FREE Winter Buyer's Guide

Are you thinking of buying a Northern Virginia home this winter? If so, my FREE home buyer's guide will help answer any questions you may have (and some you've never thought of before). 

Click here to download a FREE copy now. 


Robin Butler,

"Your friend in the real estate business."



Buying a Home eGuide

Posted in Buying a Home