Buy Archives - Patricia Joy Schenk, M.Ed.
The Long Hot Summer

The Long Hot Summer

Did you know that this summer has been incredibly hot? Of course, you did! But I am talking about the real estate market. You may have heard stories about buyers unable to get their offers accepted, being outbid by others, Or stories of buyers waiving home inspections, and even appraisals. Even more, stories of bidding wars where buyers are willing to pay over asking….sometimes still losing because someone else will pay more.

YES, all these stories are true.

You may ask, why would this be true?

1. mortgage rates

In January, mortgage rates were around 5%. What would $2600 buy considering principal and interest? A $484,332 house. At today’s approximate 3.75%, $2600 would buy a $561,414 house. That’s almost 80K difference!

2. extremely low unemployment

3. prices on average 2500 sq ft townhouse haven’t gone up much in 10 years (not counting this summer) BUT interest rates are much lower and wages are higher

4. inventory shortage

4. this is an off presidential election year – expect more uncertainty next year no matter what your political persuasion and uncertainty can cause hesitation on the part of buyers and sellers

Quickly check the value of your home here.
To see what 484-560K buys in Fairfax County click here.

Newington Forest Home for Sale

Newington Forest Home for Sale

Welcome to 8475 MAGIC TREE CT in Springfield, VA. Nestled on a quiet cul-de-sac street on a fabulous wooded lot, you will find space for everyone and everything in this 4 bedroom*, 3.5 detached home with garage. Many recent big-ticket improvements include windows, HVAC, lower level jacuzzi bath, water heater and more The remodeled kitchen/family room, complete with granite kitchen island, will be the heart of activity. The large remodeled master bedroom has an exceptional walk-in closet and spa-like bathroom The lower level has two large flex spaces to use any way you want. Office, workout room, craft room, music room, playroom….whatever your needs. The complete lower level could also be used as an in-law suite. There is a full bath for your convenience as well as a laundry room. The door to the outside leads to a concrete patio for you to enjoy summer gatherings. Play games in the flat back yard.  Complete with a storage shed to conveniently store needed items. All this in a treed setting that gives a “back to nature” feeling where you can watch wildlife and relax after a long day.

Located in Newington Forest, where more than 50% of the land is set aside for common areas,  Newington Forest is a neighborhood that is full of amenities.

25-meter swimming pool
community center
6 tennis courts
13 tot lots
3 basketball courts
1 ball field
2.5 miles of hiker-biker trails connecting to the South Run Stream Valley Park.

HOA fee of $138/quarter  includes trash removal, recycling, snow removal, road maintenance, tot lots, pool membership, tennis courts, community center, common area maintenance.

Newington Forest Elementary
South County Middle School
South County High School

This special home is centrally located to major transportation routes. Close to 495, 95, 395, Fairfax County Parkway, Franconia/Springfield Metro (park and ride). Close to Fort Belvoir. Approximately 30 minutes to D.C. and the Pentagon. Newington Forest is also serviced by public transportation. This property is approximately 3 miles from the Lorton VRE train station making the commute to National Landing/Crystal City a breeze. Great for Amazon employees!

Minutes to Springfield Mall and Kingstowne with all the surrounding stores, restaurants and entertainment. Everything is within easy reach, including NoVa’s favorite grocery store, Wegman’s!

Enjoy Farmer’s Markets? You will find them within a few miles in Kingstowne and Lorton

Minutes to the South Run Park and Recreation Center with sports and activities for everyone, including a dog park.

*See floorplan. Easy to put up a wall to enclose.

Market Snapshot Shows You Everything

Market Snapshot Shows You Everything

Market Snapshot is for buyers, sellers and the “just curious”.
It will show you what properties are active,
pending, and sold. It’s valuable information. It’s also easy to read.

General Information

  • average sale price
  • average sold price
  • average days on market
  • 90-day trend – whether it’s a buyer’s or seller’s market

Specific Property Information

  • property details
  • photos (if available)
  • school information
  • neighborhood information

Click on the MAP to see the location of all the properties.

Change your report at any time.

View a sample report here.

Sign up for your personalized Market Snapshot here.

Metro –

Metro –

*How do you plan to get to work*

*How long are you willing to commute*

*If Metro, will you drive or take the bus to get there, carpool or slug*

Even if you are not familiar with our area the answers to the above basic questions, together with your price range, will quickly determine the area/s suitable for your needs.  Making a choice about where to live based on transportation quickly shows us where we need to concentrate our efforts. You may have thought finding a place to live in Northern Virginia a bit overwhelming. So much to choose from. But, with a few judicious questions asked, we know where to look.

The Washington D.C. area, which includes Northern Virginia, has AGAIN made the top 10 list for cities with the worst traffic in the United States, coming in at an astonishing #2!  Because traffic is so congested in NoVa,  many people want to live close to the Metro. What many people don’t realize is that there are only three Metro stations that can accomodate a lot of cars. Those Metro stops are Franconia/Springfield with parking for 5,000 cars and Vienna/Fairfax with the same 5,000 spaces. Wiehle-Reston comes in at 2,300.

It is certainly true that you will pay more money for a home near the Metro, but at  least your mortgage is may be tax deductible (always consult your accountant for your particular case). Consider the hidden expense in time, stress, gas and wear and tear on your car or costs for the bus should you choose not to live near the Metro. Of course, it makes sense that homes near Metro will retain value better, on average, than other homes.

Here is a handy map of the Metro stations.


Should I Rent or Buy a Home?

Should I Rent or Buy a Home?

Choosing whether to rent or own a home is not an easy decision. It requires you to carefully examine the factors and costs associated with each option. Which is better? That depends.

Your unique economic situation, lifestyle and goals play the largest part in deciding what is better for you. It’s important to go into your calculations with open eyes. As much as you want a home, you may not be able to afford it. Or it may not be the right decision for the way you like to live.

Factors To Consider When Buying/Renting a Home



The following four points are the largest factors to consider when weighing the pros and cons of home ownership vs. rental.

1) What are the total costs?

Many people look at the economics of home-ownership as a mortgage payment only. In reality there are insurance, repairs, property tax, homeowners association dues etc. that all have to be factored in to your monthly costs. Check out this calculator from the New York Times to see more.

Use a calculator and compare to see if:

  1. The monthly cost as a homeowner is less than renting.
  2. You can afford the monthly cost (if it works out more than renting in your area)
  3. Saving a 10-20% down-payment is feasible for you.

If owning a home definitely the way to go for you, you need to be able to answer the above questions definitively.

2) What is important to you?

Are you more interested in building for the future, or reducing your financial risk until you can figure out a plan? You may want to own if you are thinking about starting a family. But as someone who is single, you may enjoy your freedom and having less financial debt. (Even if it is building your net worth in the long run)

Undoubtedly, buying a house only makes sense if you plan to set up roots. If you plan to move within (or every) 5 years, your transaction costs will likely bring the equity you build in your house to zero. Thus diminishing your upside while carrying all of the liabilities that come along with home ownership. Owning a home is a smart decision if you plan to stay for 10 years or more.

3) What is your preferred lifestyle?

Do you want to build a career in a specific city or travel around? Do you have long-term goals in mind? It’s okay if you don’t. The most important part is being aware of where you are at. You may want to get some international work experience or try your luck in another part of the country. Or not.

Really think about what you want. You could lose some serious money if you buy a house and sell within a few years because you decide it isn’t for you.

4) What are the opportunity costs?

Think about the pros and cons of home-ownership. On one hand, you will always have a home base. On the other, you have a property that ties you down to a geographical location. Can you make more money in another city? With a home, you can’t move to pursue those opportunities.

If rent is equal to monthly payments as an owner, think about the opportunity costs of having all of your money tied up in the house. For example, some investors may rent and opt to invest their money in the stock-market or other investments in their portfolio. Can you make higher percentage returns yearly with the money you would be using for a down payment?

Rent vs Buying



The above were things you will want to consider. If you need to be realistic to make the right decision about renting vs owning a home. The below two situations may help if you aren’t able to come to a conclusion.

When is Renting a Home Better?

Despite popular belief, owning a home is not always the best decision. Let’s not be black and white. It depends on your particular situation.

You may want to rent if:

  1. You want to travel and set-up shop in different places every few years.
  2. You do not have the job or financial security to (realistically) guarantee payments for years to come.
  3. You have demonstrated the ability to make better financial returns through other investments.

There are other factors. However, this is a good starting point to help you determine your argument for renting versus owning a home. The benefit of renting is not being tied down to a geographic location and being able to leave when your lease runs up.

When is Owning a Home Better?

Owning a home is the long-term game. You need to have your goals in mind and understand if you can afford it.

You may want own if:

  1. You are okay with staying in one place for 10 years or more.
  2. You have the financial stability to afford the home (and float payments if you lose your job)
  3. You want to leverage your home as an investment property down the line (through rental)

Owning a home gives you an anchor. It helps you stay grounded by having a home base. At the same time, you can increase your upward potential by leveraging the home as an investment property.

In Conclusion

Choosing to rent or own your home is a big decision. It depends on your individual situation and vision for the future. In short, owning is traditionally the better long-term strategy. However, that’s not to say that you can’t do as good or better with the right investment portfolio.

Before jumping into anything, analyze yourself. Think hard about where you are and what you want for the future. Speak to a realtor and see if they have any advice for your individual situation.

If you are looking at purchasing property in the area, give me a call. I’d love to discuss your options and see if buying is the right path for you.

What’s Going on with Bidding Wars?

What’s Going on with Bidding Wars?

What’s Going On with Bidding Wars?

In a strong seller’s market, like the one we have experienced over the past few years, bidding wars are common and expected. This makes sense! A seller’s market is defined as a market in which the inventory of homes for sale cannot satisfy the number of buyers who want to purchase a home.

According to the Cambridge English Dictionarybidding wars occur when two or more parties repeatedly outbid each other as they compete to purchase something- in this case, a home.

In some areas of the country, first-time buyers have been met with fierce competition throughout their experience. Some have been out-bid multiple times before finally winning a bid on a home to call their own.

According to the latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), there is currently a 3.7-month supply of homes for sale.

    • With the current number of houses listed for sale and the level of demand from buyers, this means it would take 3.7 months for all the homes listed to sell if no additional listings came to market. Any supply number under a 6-month supply is considered a seller’s market. According to NAR, the housing market hasn’t had a 6-month supply of homes for sale since August 2012.

Good News for Buyers

A recent report shows that the percentage of houses sold including a bidding war before settling on a final price decreased from 53% in January of 2018 to 13% this year.

One reason for the decline is an influx of homes being listed for sale. Even though the month’s supply number is not increasing, the number of homes for sale is. The chart below shows the year-over-year change in inventory over the last 12 months.

As you can see, the number of homes for sale has started to build over the last eight months. Prior to this reversal, inventory levels had fallen for 36 consecutive months when compared to the year before.

Danielle Hale,’s Chief Economist, gave some insight into why bidding wars are less common on a local level this year,

“[Last year] you might have been the only listing in your neighborhood, and you could put your home up at a certain list price and you would likely see multiple offers at or above that list price. That tide is turning this year.

It’s going to depend on what neighborhood you’re in, but we expect it to be more common this year that you won’t be the only listing.”

Inventory in the luxury and premium markets (the top 25% of listings in an area by price), is increasing at a greater rate than the starter home market. As the choices buyers have continued to increase, the likelihood of a bidding war will decrease.

Bottom Line

If you are debating listing your house for sale this year, you may not want to wait for additional competition as inventory continues to rise.