Northern Virginia Real Estate and Community News

July 23, 2019

Multigenerational Living In Northern Virginia



Our has a crowd.


And, it’s usually quite loud...


A multigenerational household is defined as including two or more adult generations or including grandparents and grandchildren younger than 25.  And their prevalence is growing -even here in Northern Virginia.


The rates of multigenerational living hit a low of only 12% in the 1980s, but that number has steadily grown to 20% (64 million Americans) today.  There was a sharp increase during the 2007-2009 Great Recession when many Americans lost their homes and were forced to combine households. And while it has slowed back down it is still growing more rapidly than it was before the recession.  Experts can’t point to one single factor for the growing trend but instead, list multiple reasons.  


One factor is that increased life expectancy may make it financially necessary for older Americans to move in with their children rather than into assisted living facilities.  Also, with more women in the workforce having grandparents in-house to help with the child-rearing is a benefit.  


It’s not just parents moving in with their children, in many instances, children are moving back in, or living longer, with their parents.  This could be due to the unsteady job market, rising education debts, and the delay of marriages. Financial security is taking longer for many of the younger generations to reach.  


Another reason is the growing racial diversity of the country.  While there is growth among all demographics, minority Americans and immigrants have a higher percentage of multigenerational living than white Americans.  Some of which may be based on cultural expectations.


Along with the financial benefits to this living arrangement, research shows that grandchildren who are close with their grandparents have less emotional or behavior problems, may be better equipped to deal with life’s stresses and are more respectful of other older people.  Also, when the grandparents feel useful and are more engaged they suffer less from loneliness and depression.  


Hopefully, that will outweigh some of the conflicts that may arise when your parents question your parenting.  


41% of Americans say they are in the market for homes that can accommodate multigenerational families, either to take care of aging parents or to just spend more time together.  And it’s not a one size fits all situation. There are many options if you’re considering multigenerational living. Duplexes, multiplexes, or homes with two master suites. A few months ago I published a blog on this topic about adding a “Granny Pod” to your property.  And, this trend has caught the attention of national home builders who have begun designing homes with multiple family-living in mind, some with completely different living spaces under one roof.  


Multigenerational living is not for everyone, and it comes with plenty of adjustments and compromise, but in the end, the benefits may just outweigh the struggles.


As always, I am here to help with all your home buying needs.  Are you considering a multigenerational living situation? Let's talk about it.

Robin Butler,

Your friend in the real estate business.



Posted in Real Estate News
June 20, 2019

NOVA Staycation

Staycation, all I ever wanted.

  Staycation, don’t have to get away.


Just because we know you are singing that now. . .



Want a summer vacation without the headaches of actually GOING on vacation?  Why not avoid the hotel guest running past your door, or over your head, and just stay home.  There are plenty of vacation activities to enjoy right here in Northern Virginia, and you won’t have to worry about whether or not you packed everything you need.


Start the summer off with some fun outdoor activities.


Great Falls National Park in McLean offers 15 miles of hiking trails, 5 miles of biking trails, and if you’re really feeling adventurous you can kayak the Potomac River. And if you're feeling not so adventurous, the sights are beautiful and the Visitors Center offers a museum, slide shows, and a children’s room.  


Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna offers a more relaxed approach to getting outdoors as you explore the beautiful plants and flowers as well as a few man-made sculptures that are throughout the park. The Gardens also offer various summer camps for kids, but they do fill up fast.


If you need a day for the kids to run off some of their summer energy, Alum Spring Park in Fredericksburg, is a quiet refuge with play equipment and walking paths.  Bring your picnic and make it a fun day out.


Want a little less nature in your outdoor activities?


Last year Money Magazine named Old Town Alexandria the “best value U.S. travel destination”.  Full of restaurants, boutiques, and history, Old Town offers something for everyone.  You can stroll the streets, hop the King Street Trolley, or even see the sights from a water taxi or sightseeing cruise.  And, make sure you save room for dessert as there is definitely no shortage of ice cream shops.


50 Years of Love


This year will be the Summer of Love as we celebrate 50 years of “Virginia is for Lovers”, and the celebration will include plenty of fun summertime activities.  


You can check out Prince William County’s calendar of events

 And Loudoun County events here--Summer of Love


And if you’re past the age of following the Dead on tour, you can follow love around Fairfax County.  Snap your picture with the LOVEwork sign at the various stops as it makes its way to the permanent home in Lorton.  You can follow the travels here---LOVEwork


With so much to do around home why bother packing up the car, finding a dog sitter, and worrying about whether the stove is off.  Stay home, plan a few day trips, and relax.


“Virginia is for Lovers,” and what’s not to love!


Robin Butler, Your friend in the real estate business.



Posted in Community Events
May 17, 2019

Money Pit Or Potential Palace?





Whether you’re looking to buy a house to flip for profit or want to save a little money on a personal home project, there are many things to consider when buying a “fixer-upper”.  


Experts recommend trying to avoid homes that need major renovations or structural changes as your first project, as these homes have a tendency to grow much larger than most people anticipate. Also, once you start digging into the bones of the house you could find the project snowballing into larger problems. You don’t want to get caught throwing good money after bad.   Instead, look for homes needing some sprucing up with cosmetic changes. These are much easier to budget for and much of the work can be self-done, depending on your skillset. Additionally, cosmetic changes generally have a better return on investment.


When assessing a property for purchase you’ll want to bring along an expert, home inspector or real estate agent, to give you a thorough estimate of the property’s value and condition.  The inspector can help you understand how much work will be necessary and find any structural problems you may want to avoid, and the real estate agent will assist in valuing the neighborhood, so you don’t end up overpricing the market.   You don’t want to purchase a $300,000 home that needs $100,000 worth of work in a $300,000 neighborhood.


In Northern Virginia even fixer-uppers are in demand so don’t assume you’ll have your pick of properties, you will most likely have to compete for what you want.  And, because of the hot market, you’ll want to have your renovation estimates done before making any offers as sellers may not accept any inspection contingencies.  But, be careful the competition doesn’t force you into a financially bad situation.


When determining your offering price, you’ll want to estimate all labor and material costs for the renovation.  Experts recommend estimating on the high side with an additional 5 to 10 percent for unforeseen problems and factoring this into the home’s future estimated value.  You’ll also want to factor in the extra time unforeseen problems will take. Time is money!


Here's another side note on using contractors to renovate your "potential palace."


In talks of finances, depending on the condition of the property you may run into difficulty securing a loan.  You also may not be able secure a loan for the renovation costs. There are a few government mortgage programs for renovation properties, so do your homework and have your financing lined up in advance.  Or, if at all possible, remember, Cash is King.


Buying a fixer-upper is a great way to save money on a home purchase and the rewards can be significant.   Buy wisely, buy cautiously and use the advice of experts to guide you and your decision. And, as always, I am here to help you along the “fixer-upper” journey.


Robin Butler,

Your friend in the real estate business.








April 30, 2019

Tips for Visiting Open Houses

If you're looking for a new home, chances are you plan to do some open houses this weekend. It can get really overwhelming if you don't have a strategy. Check out my video below for tips on tackling the open houses without your brain exploding from overload in the process. 


Tips_on_Open_Houses from Robin Butler on Vimeo.


As always, feel free to contact me if you need some assistance making decisions. I'm happy to be your friend in the real estate business.

Robin Butler



Posted in Buying a Home
April 24, 2019

Over the river and through the woods...or just the backyard…to grandmother’s house we go!

Over the river and through the woods...or just the backyard…to grandmother’s house we go!

Granny pods are the trend of the year.


Are your parents getting close to the age where you’d feel more comfortable with them out of their BIG overwhelming home but they are still too independent for an assisted living facility?  The age where you’d like them closer, but you all agree the guest room may be a bit too close? Maybe you can think about meeting somewhere in the middle. Or more accurately the back, as in the backyard.  


A trend that has been growing the last decade is the Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU), also referred to as Granny Pods.  ADUs are a second residential structure on your property, either by converting an existing structure, such as a garage or shed, or building a new freestanding tiny house.  As with most things in life, the laws vary by locality, but because of the popularity of ADUs, many areas are beginning to adapt their laws to the will of the people. As always, if you think this is a path you may go down do your due diligence prior to making any commitments.  


After researching the laws the next step would be to go through the pros and cons of this idea.  Your property taxes will go up, your utilities will go up, and of course, there is the initial cost involved.  On the flip side ADUs, when used for your parents, could be less expensive than an assisted living facility, and when it is no longer needed for that purpose it could be rented out as a source of income (definitely check your local statutes on this one).    And of course, as with any home improvement project, resale will be affected. Though it's difficult to determine if that will be a pro or a con, as that typically comes down to the buyer.


ADUs, specifically for aging parents, have been criticized as simply a “storage unit” for grandma, while others have embraced the concept as a viable alternative to nursing homes.  One man who not only embraced but went all in on it is Rev. Kenneth Duplin who founded N2Care.  He worked with a team from Virginia Tech at their Blacksburg, VA research facility to come up with a prefabricated unit known as the MEDCottage.

(Roanoke Times)     (The Beacon)


N2Care offers a variety of units that can be bought, or in some places (such as Virginia), can be rented.   Renting the unit is a good alternative if you like the idea but don’t want a permanent structure, and some laws have been adapted to only allow temporary units.  The other benefit of the MEDCottage is that they can be adapted to your needs by including built-in utilities for different medical devices and monitoring equipment, and various handrails and ramps--for the added peace of mind.


There’s a lot to consider when you begin to move down this road, but it’s nice to know there are so many different avenues available to take.


As always I am here to answer your real estate needs.


Robin Butler, Your friend in the real estate business.



April 18, 2019

Real Estate Guides


Are you looking to buy a home this season? Or maybe it's time to move grandma out to assisted living? Here are some links to my latest real estate guides to help in making your upcoming home decisions. 


A Millennial's Guide to Home Ownership


Selling Your Home in Today's Market


Moving On: A Housing Guide for Seniors and Their Families


If you have any questions on home buying/selling or real estate, feel free to contact me. I'm happy to be your friend in the real estate business. 


Robin Butler


March 29, 2019

National Real Estate Update

Spring is finally here! I don’t know about you, but I love the change of the season. The season’s not the only thing changing according to the RE/MAX National Housing Report. Here are three things to take away from last month’s report. 

1. Home sales were down for the seventh consecutive month. They were down 4.2% from February 2018. 

2. Inventory grew for the fifth month in a row. It was up 5.8% year over year.
The median sales price also grew by 5.5% to $240,000. 

3. All signs are pointing to the market slowly balancing as it transitions from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market. However, with home sale prices on the rise, pricing is still in the seller's favor. 

It’s going to be a busy spring! If you’re thinking about buying or selling, let’s get started. Give me a call, send me a text, or reply to this email to set up a meeting to talk about your situation. 

Thank you for trusting me as your local real estate expert! 


Your friend in real estate.

Robin Butler



Posted in Real Estate News
March 15, 2019

Buyer Be Quiet.



As you come out of hibernation from our Northern Virginia winter and start touring open houses, here is some advice you may not have had to consider for your last home purchase...keep your excitement level to yourself.  


As more homes are being built, and upgraded, to be Wi-Fi enabled, they are being equipped with surveillance devices.  And while the initial intent of these is for security purposes more home sellers are taking advantage of the devices to ‘spy’ on their potential buyers.  


This is not a completely new strategy, though in the past sellers were limited to a single nanny-cam perched on a shelf.  Now with the prevalence of smart devices a single home can have multiple recording devices throughout the house, inside and out.  It is estimated that 11 million homes are currently wi-fi enabled, internally or externally, and by 2020 that number is expected to grow to 50 million.


The legality of this practice varies by state, so not everyone would record their showings, but in a Harris poll conducted for NerdWallet last year 15% of home sellers admitted to recording their open houses.  And 67% said they would record if their homes were equipped with recording devices.


Why should you worry about being recorded?


Many people find the practice disturbing, or creepy, but don’t understand how being recorded can play against their interest.  And while that may have once been the case, with most recording being done to help sell a struggling property, it has morphed into a powerful bargaining tool.  Sellers can watch their recordings and if they see your excitement level they can use that against you with any counter offers. Or, they can view the overall excitement for the home and use that in a bidding war.  


When viewing a home it is best to keep your discussions to a minimum until you are away from the property, and prying ears.  


Away from the property, and off social media


It’s also a good idea to keep discussions from prying eyes by limiting posting about properties on your social media accounts.   Social media has become a great tool in helping to sell your home, but it can also be used against you when buying a home. Facebook, Twitter, many ways to share with your friends about the awesome new house you’re falling in love with, there is nothing to stop the seller from looking at your public posts to find out just how interested you really are.   Why would they accept a lower offer if they can clearly see you may pay more.


House hunting should be fun and exciting, so don’t get discouraged or nervous about sharing that excitement.  Just be cautious about how and where you share. The old adage of buyer beware still exists but buyers should also be aware of just who may be listening in when you rave about how much you love a home.  


Once the home is yours you can yell it from the rooftops, but until the ink is dry shhhh.

Robin Butler, Your friend in the real estate business.



Posted in Buying a Home
Feb. 24, 2019

Fighting Home Buyer's Remorse


Let’s Fight Home Buyer’s Remorse


Home buyer’s remorse is fairly common, and while no one thinks it could happen to them, chances are it will. Once you sign your offer letter, you might suddenly be hit with many thoughts, questions and what-ifs that try to convince you that you’ve made the wrong decision. If you’re worried about encountering buyer’s remorse, here are four things to keep in mind:


Get a pre-approval on a loan first.


If you start your home buying process by getting pre-approved on a loan, that will make the buying decision so much easier. This way, you will know what you can actually afford to buy. You won’t have to worry about falling in love with a house that is out of your budget, and you’ll know that you will be able to pay for the house you choose.


Don’t rush to “get the deal.”


Make sure this is the home you REALLY want before you bid on it. Making a hasty decision just because you’re told a deal is going away soon isn’t a great way to purchase your home. Take whatever time you need to be confident that you’re making the best decision for you.


Don’t avoid your realtor.


Running away from your realtor won’t help. If they send you emails and try to call you, please respond. Ghosting your realtor will not fix the situation. Their job is to be in contact with you throughout this process. Avoiding them will make that more difficult, but it won’t stop them.


If your offer is accepted, the home is yours.


If your offer has been accepted, that home is legally yours. If you have a worry, have a real, honest conversation with your realtor about what your fear is. I can (almost) guarantee it is something that I, or your realtor, have heard before and can help alleviate your concern. Many times, a realtor can help you solve the problem instead of giving up the home. You might be overthinking something that has a fairly simple solution.


Home buyer’s remorse is more common than people like to expect or admit. Let me help you through your Northern Virginia home buying journey, so I can do everything I can to help you avoid that feeling. These four tips are a great way to start, but there are always more tactics to bypass buyer’s remorse. If you have questions, or if you’re on the brink of remorse yourself, give me a call today. I’d love to help you work through your questions and concerns.


Robin Butler,

Your friend in the real estate business




Posted in Buying a Home
Dec. 6, 2018

Local Northern Virginia Holiday Events


Well, everyone, December is upon us and that means it’s time for the holidays! Hanukkah began on December 2nd, and Christmas will be here before we know it. One of the best parts of the holiday season is that there are so many fun events happening around town. I’ve put together a list of some here, but of course, there are many other events not listed here.


Meadowlark’s Winter Walk of Lights

 See the Winter Walk of Lights 5:30 to 10 p.m. every evening from now until January 6 - yes, even Christmas and New Year’s Eve! The Botanical Garden is transformed into a half-mile walk of lights featuring sites like the Fountain of Lights and Lakeside Lights. For more information or to get tickets, visit


Bull Run Festival of Lights

Drive through the beautiful 2.5-mile festival route and see the beautiful lights. Then visit the holiday village for refreshments, rides and a chance to meet Santa! The Bull Run Festival of Lights is going on now until January 6. For more information, operating times and to get tickets, visit


Ice Skating at Reston Town Center

The ice skating rink is open from now until the middle of March! Stop by, rent one of their 500+ pairs of skates and enjoy the seasonal fun! For kids who might be new to skating, the skate shop has double bladed, flat edge skates to help young skaters get a feel for the ice. All skaters can choose between figure- and hockey-style skates. For more information and to learn about special themed nights, visit


Prince William Ice Center Holiday Ice Show

Visit the Prince William Ice Center on Sunday, December 16 at 1 p.m. for their annual Holiday Ice Show! The show features solo skaters and synchronized teams. The event also offers cookie sales, raffle baskets, and silent auctions, so it’s sure to be a fun event for the whole family. Bundle up! Admission is $5 or a non-perishable food donation for the food pantry. For more information visit


Spectacular Musical Tree Show

Check out the Spectacular Musical Tree Show at the Village at Leesburg any day until January 1. The 5-story tree performs music and light shows every day on the hour from noon until 9 p.m. For more information, visit


Holiday Through the Ages

For a different holiday experience, consider visiting Rippon Lodge’s Holidays Through the Ages. Learn about seasonal festivities from different time periods as well as different religions. Light refreshments and shopping close out this holiday experience. Visit for more information.


Did I miss your favorite local holiday event? Tell me in the comments below. And let me know if you make it to any of these! I would love to hear about your experience. Happy holidays!


Robin Butler, your friend in the real estate business.




Posted in Community News