Northern Virginia Real Estate and Community News

July 26, 2018

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

I often get asked by my Northern Virginia homeowners how long people typically live in their homes. For the majority of the last 25 years, most families stayed in their home an average of 6 years before moving.


There are several things that can cause a homeowner to move:

  • Change in family size due to children leaving home or due to having more children
  • Changes in employment or income
  • Changes in the local neighborhood
  • Desire to be closer to other family or friends
  • Changes in health needs


The reasons can go on and on. In general, as things change, people’s housing needs tend to change as well. But, according to the National Association of Realtors, over the last several years, we have seen that average jump to 10 years. That’s a pretty drastic increase of almost 50%.



Why the change?


During the fairly recent economic recession, not only did many people lose their jobs but their homes were in a negative equity position because of falling home prices. This forced many people into a position of not being able to sell their homes due to the fact that they would need to bring money to the closing table that they did not have. In an interesting twist, it was also discovered that while many people were NOT moving as often, the millennials were still moving every 6 years due to needing more space as their families grew.


The Pent Up Demand is There


People still want [and need] to move and the demand for great homes is there. But, the lack of inventory is a deterrent to those people being able to move. This all means that NOW IS THE TIME TO SELL. With the demand out there, that is only driving the prices of homes further up meaning that this is truly a seller’s market.


If you’ve been thinking of making a move, give me a call and let’s talk about it.


Robin Butler, Your friend in the real estate business



June 30, 2018

What's Up With Interest Rates?

What's Up With Interest Rates?

As we approach the halfway mark for the year, everyone wants to know how the real estate market is doing here in Northern Virginia. 

Find out in my latest video below. 

june 2018 interest rates from Robin Butler on Vimeo.


As always, feel free to contact me if you have any questions or need some assistance. 


Robin Butler, your friend in the real estate business


May 24, 2018

How To Buy A Northern Virginia Home In A Tight Market

You found the perfect house, perfect neighborhood, perfect price. You text the realtor to set up a showing and- WHAM! Too late, it’s already pending. But, it just came on the market yesterday. How did you miss it?


Does that sound like you? Don’t worry. You’re not alone. Right now, it is a seller’s market across the country, not just in Northern Virginia. This means that there’s really only less than 6 months worth of homes available on the market right now. This doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to get your dream home. It just means that you have to “shop smarter” than the average person. Here’s what you can do:


Get pre-approved

Getting pre-approved is good for many reasons. But, in a market like this, it’s important to be able to be “the most attractive buyer” if you end up in a bidding war for a home. When you are pre-approved, your realtor will present that pre-approval letter with your offer so that the sellers know you are a serious buyer that has already been guaranteed for financing. This gives you a leg up on the buyer that has not applied for financing yet.


Be ready to pay listing price

When there are fewer homes to go around, you will see prices appreciate. But, more than that, you will hear about multiple offers on the same home. A lot of home shoppers go in with the mentality of “Noone pays the listing price so I know I can get 20% off.” This just isn’t accurate right now. If you’ve been pre-approved for a home up to $350,000; don’t even waste your time looking at homes over that. You need to accept the fact that if you find a home you like, it’s highly possible you will have to pay the listing price. And, if you love that home and are in a bidding war, you may even have to pay more than listing price to win it.


Have your down payment and a security deposit ready

So, you have your pre-approval letter and are ready to pay full price. What’s the status on your down payment? Make sure that you know how you are getting that money. You also will want to be sure you have a small amount of good faith money to put a check in with your contract offer. Your realtor can advise you on the proper amount for the home but even $500-$1,000 can go a long way. If a seller is entertaining multiple offers on their home and they have one that’s pre-approved, willing to pay the price and has already “shown them the money,” then they are much more likely to accept your offer over someone that doesn’t show themselves as well-prepared.




 Work with a realtor

When you are buying a home, there’s no reason not to use a realtor. The seller pays all the realtor commissions. And, no, you won’t get the home cheaper by not having a realtor. When you work with a realtor, not only can they advise you on tips like the above, but they are also more in the know on what’s going for sale. Many homes are being sold just through realtor/office connections before they even hit the MLS.


I know it can be a bit stressful and overwhelming buying a home. That’s why I’m here. I have many, many years of experience and am happy to help answer your questions and be your fearless leader. Feel free to contact me if I can be of help with your Northern Virginia home.


Robin Butler, Your friend in the real estate business





Posted in Buying a Home
April 27, 2018

Working From Home in Fairfax County



Working from home is becoming more popular every day. Not including those that are self-employed, the telecommuting workforce has grown 115% since 2005 when it came on the radar. When you add in the self-employed and those with side gigs, that’s a lot of people working from home.


Do you work from your Fairfax County, VA home? If so, have you checked to make sure you don’t need a permit? In many cities and counties, there are specific rules about working from home in a residential area.


I can’t offer you any legal advice, but here’s the gist of what the web says for Fairfax County. In Fairfax County, it seems you can do most any clerical/computer type of job from home. The main concern is that the home still “appears” residential so no signs, storage, etc.If there’s anything that takes special equipment, monster trucks, and/or clients visiting your home, you will need additional types of permits for those occupations.


They have a great list on the county website of what they consider “home occupations” and the form to get the official permission. It’s only $50 so it’s certainly not a burden for anyone running a business.


They do have two different classifications so you need to be sure you are applying for the correct one:


Home Occupations: are things like clerical and artistic businesses. (This is what is mentioned above.)

Home Professional Offices: are people like therapists, accountants, etc. that would have clients visiting the home. They ask that if you have a home professional office, you call them to get a special permit. For that, you can contact the Zoning Evaluation Division of the Department of Planning and Zoning at 703-324-1290, TTY 711 for further information.


Here’s an interesting statistic to leave you with regarding working from home:


The percent of female and male telecommuters is almost equal.52% of all telecommuting employees are female (compared to their 48% of the entire workforce in the United States).This statistic helps disprove the theory that more females work from home when they become mothers.(


If you’re looking to buy or sell in Fairfax County, contact me.

Robin Butler, Your friend in the real estate business



Posted in Real Estate News
April 19, 2018

First Quarter 2018 Market Update

What's going on right now in the market? 

Price increases, low inventory. . . find out more in my latest vlog. 


First Quarter 2018 Market Update from Robin Butler on Vimeo.


If you need more information on renovating for resale or are looking to buy or sell a home, keep me in mind. I'm happy to help!

Robin Butler, Your friend in the real estate business



Posted in Real Estate News
March 29, 2018

Boost Your Home’s Resale Value

Boost Your Home’s Resale Value with These Renovations

By guest blogger Seth Murphy,



Image via Pexels


When it comes to being a homeowner, you do everything you can to save money. You shop around for the best price on insurance. You preserve energy by turning your lights off and keeping your water heater maximum temperature at 120 degrees F. As a responsible homeowner, you understand the value of doing every little thing you can around the house to cut down costs. So when it comes to home renovations, don’t you want to invest in the things that add to its resale value?

Fortunately, there are lots of projects out there that do just this. Many of them even recoup the costs of undertaking the enterprise once your house is on the market. Below are some of the best renovations homeowners can do to add to the resale value of the house.




While what’s on the inside counts, that doesn’t mean you should neglect your home’s curb appeal. Doing everything you can to make the outside appealing attracts buyers and eventually gets you those high bids you are after. Landscaping is a great way to improve the curb appeal of your home. A landscape architect can work with you and help you plan a design that is both beautiful and functional. Having a plan is essential for a successful landscaping project. It will help keep you on track and within your budget. 

There are a lot of landscaping trends to consider, but we really love the idea of working with local flora and natural landscaping. Landscaping with native wildflowers and grasses is environmentally beneficial as you don’t have to work with fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, or irrigation. Local plants also attract pollinators like bees and butterflies as well as a variety of birds and other animals. Native landscaping requires less daily maintenance and helps your house stand out in the market. Talk with your landscaping architect about using local grasses and flowers to find out what native garden options work best for your particular region.


Replace Your Roof


A new roof is both beautiful and functional, but it’s not always necessary. When deciding whether or not your roof needs repair, it’s best to get a second, third, and even fourth opinion on the topic. Bring in two to three different roofing contractors to evaluate the wear and tear of your roof and provide estimates on what it will cost to repair. If the evaluations show your home could really use a roof update, don’t fret. The money you spend on a new roof can be redeemed when your house is on the market. The return on investment for a roof replacement averages 53.4% for a full replacement and 61.7% for a minor rehab.


Add an Outdoor Living Area


An outdoor living area in the backyard is the kind of extra feature that helps your home stand out for potential buyers. Plus, homeowners can recoup more than eighty percent of the cost of installing a deck at sale time. Just like with landscaping, you want to create a plan before you start executing your new outdoor recreational space. Consider adding cool features like benches with built-in storage or a fire pit for added functionality. Before you begin building, always check your city’s codes regarding these kinds of additions. Also be sure to use high grade materials when building your deck to ensure it lasts a long time and can withstand the elements.


When it comes to renovations around the house, the smart homeowner knows to invest in the ones that will add to the resale value. Landscaping adds to the home’s curb appeal, which is essential for creating market interest. A new roof isn’t an exciting project, but it has a good return on investment. Finally, fun features like an outdoor living area can help your house stand out in the market.

 Seth Murphy

Seth Murphy first got into doing DIY projects to save money, but over time he has developed a real passion for this hands-on, intensive work. He knows DIY can be intimidating so he created to share tips and help others with their own endeavors.



If you need more information on renovating for resale or are looking to buy or sell a home, keep me in mind. I'm happy to help!

Robin Butler, Your friend in the real estate business


Posted in Selling Your Home
March 22, 2018

Got Junk?


As time goes on, most of us tend to find ourselves with plenty of extra “stuff” and not enough room to have everything stored away and not feel chaotic. If you feel like you are about to be featured on “Hoarders,” it’s time to look around and see what you can start getting rid of. And, if you are feeling just too overwhelmed to do it alone, there are several options available for help.


  • Nova Junk Removal- I love that Nova Junk Removal will both recycle and donate what they can.
  • Junk King- will rent you a dumpster to do your own pitching or they will come haul stuff away for you.
  • Git Rid Of It- These guys appear to do the typical junk removal but on their website, it says they will also do shed and hot tub dismantling. I’ve seen some pretty nasty looking sheds out there so this is a great way to help the curb appeal of your backyard.
  • 1-800 Got Junk- I think everyone’s heard of 1-800 Got Junk, but did you know they also do leaf removal? I didn’t and think this is a great way to shape up your front yard in the fall.
  • 123 Junk- I really like that not only do these guys recycle and work with area charities but they are a local company and I try to work with locals as often as I can. And, not only that, but they appear to be well liked by Angie’s List.


If you’re like me (and most people) you probably want to know a little bit about who you’re looking at doing business with. Here are two good reviews of local junk removers:

Home Advisor Local Reviews

Yelp Local Reviews


And, if you just need a little extra space while you try to organize it yourself, you can look at having a portable unit at your home for a bit.

  • Smartbox is nice because they can offer various sizes, including a relatively small one, to meet your needs. It’s great if you only need a little space so as not to pay for a larger box.
  • PODS is one of the original on-demand storage companies. They too offer various sizes and sell boxes and other moving items too. PODS are great for storing and moving.
  • Zippy Shell is similar to the others and claims to be more affordable than traditional storage.


Whether you need someone to come and just “take it all” without you having to go through it or you want a little on-demand storage while you work, there are many options available to help you purge it all. Check out the options, compare their offerings and be sure to read the reviews. I’m sure you’ll find something to help you out.


After the big purge, if you’re ready to sell (or buy) a home, give me a call. I’m happy to help.


Robin Butler, Your friend in the real estate business




Posted in Selling Your Home
Feb. 26, 2018

Hiring a Contractor in Northern VA?

If you're going to be doing some work on your home this year, you might want to have a professional on the job. There are some important things to remember in hiring someone to come into your home. Here are my best tips. 


Insurance tip If Using Contractors from Robin Butler on Vimeo.


If you need more information or are looking to buy or sell a home, keep me in mind. I'm happy to help!

Robin Butler, Your friend in the real estate business


Posted in Real Estate News
Feb. 22, 2018

Mortgage Rates on FIRE! Home Prices Up in Smoke?

Mortgage interest rates have already risen by over a quarter of a percentage point in 2018. Many are projecting that rates could increase to 5% by the end of the year.

What impact will rising rates have on house values?

Many quickly jump to the conclusion that an increase in mortgage rates will have a detrimental impact on real estate prices as fewer buyers will be able to qualify for a loan. This seems logical; if there is less demand for housing then prices will drop.

However, in a good economy, rising mortgage rates increase demand as many prospective purchasers immediately jump off the fence to guarantee they get the lower rate.

Let’s look at home prices the last four times mortgage rates increased dramatically.

Mortgage Rates on FIRE! Home Prices Up in Smoke? | MyKCM

In each case, home prices APPRECIATED and did not depreciate. No one is projecting as dramatic an increase in rates as the examples above. Most are projecting an increase of approximately 1% by the end of the year.

The last time mortgage rates increased by 1% over a twelve-month period was January 2013 (3.41%) to January 2014 (4.43%). What happened to house prices during that span? They appreciated by 9.8%.

Just two weeks ago, Rick Palacios Jr., Director of Research at John Burns Real Estate Consulting explained:

“Mortgage rates have risen 1% or more ten times in the last 43 years, with little impact on home sales and prices when the economy was also strong…Historically, rising confidence, solid job growth, and higher wages have more than offset reduced demand for housing resulting from higher mortgage rates.”

Bottom Line

When mortgage rates increase, history has shown that prices appreciate (and do not depreciate) during that same time span.

Robin Butler, Your friend in the real estate business


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