Archive for the ‘LOUDOUN COUNTY, VA’ Category

Loudoun County Virginia adopted the Budget for the new Fiscal Year 2010 – 2011, which begins July 1, 2010 and ends June 30, 2011.

Compare the tables for real property (real estate) and personal property (vehicles, etc.)  tax rates for Northern Virginia counties.

Loudoun County Virginia real estate and personal property tax rates per $100 of assessed value are as follows:

TAX RATE $1.30  $4.20

NOTE: The above information is deemed to be accurate, but is subject to errors and ommissions and should not be relied upon without verification – contact the county directly to confirm.



NOTE: Advertisement Ads which appear in most posts on this Blog are run by WordPress and do NOT necessarily represent the views of Vivianne Rutkowski or Keller Williams Realty. Visitors to this blog are NOT obligated to click the ads to visit this blog.

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The real property (real estate) tax rates per $100 of assessed value for Arlington County VA, Fairfax County VA, Fauquier County VA, Loudoun County VA, and Prince William County VA are as follows:

 $0.958  $1.09  $0.97  $1.30  $1.315


The personal property (vehicles, etc.) tax rates per $100 of assessed value for Arlington County VA, Fairfax County VA, Fauquier County VA, Loudoun County VA, and Prince William County VA are as follows:

 $5.00  $4.57  $4.65  $4.20  $3.70

SOURCE:  Arlington County;      Fairfax County;            Fauquier County;

Loudoun County;       Prince William County


NOTE:  County governments refer to 2010-2011 budgets as Fiscal Year 2010 or Fiscal Year 2011, depending on the county – be sure to refer to the correct Budget Year – this blog refers to the Budgets for Fiscal Year 2010-2011 which begins July 1, 2010 and ends June 30, 2011.

NOTE: Some counties apply tax rate based on calendar year, some based on the fiscal year, some on both. Contact the county you reside in for details.

NOTE: The above information is deemed to be accurate, but is subject to errors and ommissions and should not be relied upon without verification – contact the counties directly to confirm.



NOTE: Advertisement Ads which appear in most posts on this Blog are run by WordPress and do NOT necessarily represent the views of Vivianne Rutkowski or Keller Williams Realty. Visitors to this blog are NOT obligated to click the ads to visit this blog.

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ForbesWoman published a list of the best cities for working women raising children.

To pick the 10 best cities, Forbes factored in crime rates, quality of the schools, availability of good healthcare, employment opportunities with high earning potential, and a budget-friendly cost of living.

Here are Forbes’ top choices:

  1. Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.
  2. Washington, D.C.
  3. Boston, Mass.
  4. Pittsburgh, Pa.
  5. Baltimore-Towson, Md.
  6. Denver, Colo.
  7. Hartford, Conn.
  8. New York City, N.Y.
  9. Seattle-Tacoma, Wash.
  10. Buffalo-Niagara Falls, N.Y.

SOURCE: ForbesWoman

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Virginia and Maryland are offering tax-free shopping to help out with back-to-school time.

Aug. 6 to Aug. 8, 2010 is scheduled as a sales tax holiday in Virginia.

School supplies under $20 will be exempt from sales taxes, so will clothes and shoes under $100.

In Maryland, “Shop Maryland Week” will be Aug. 8 to Aug. 14, 2010. Qualifying clothing and footwear under $100 will be sales tax exempt.

The District used to have tax-free shopping days, but discontinued the back-to-school tradition.


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The Forbes Magazine reported that Loudoun County tops the list of America’s 25 richest counties for the second consecutive year in a row. Loudoun County is followed by Fairfax County, Va., Arlington County, Va., Stafford County, Va., Prince William County, Va., Charles County, Md., and Alexandria City, Va.

Loudoun County, Va. median household incomes are higher than anywhere else in the country. In Loudoun County, affluent suburb to the west of Washington, D.C., families take home a median $110,643 annually.

For most people, wealth is associated with glitzy Southern California, big oil states, and New York Wall Street bankers and investors. However, studies show that often wealth trickles down from big metropolitan cities to high-end suburbs.

19 of the 25 richest counties in the country are on the East Coast. This is partly because Forbes looks ONLY at the middle incomes, and counties in the East tend to be smaller, thereby allowing for less of a spread between the richest and poorest workers.

Data used by Forbes come from the U.S. Census Bureauthe most recent data available are from the calendar year 2008 and include 1,889 counties.


The biggest source of income for Loudouners is the federal government, which generates a wealth of jobs, keeping unemployment in the D.C. metro area at a low 6.2% (the national average is still near 10%). The best-paid workers from D.C. take their money home to Loudoun, VA,  Fairfax, VA,  Arlington, VA,  Stafford, MD,  Prince William, VA, where jobs have grown 4% between the second quarter of 2007 and the second quarter of 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

However, a big chunk of that income goes toward maintaining the every-day life. Loudoun homeowners pay a median $4,844 per year in property taxes and the housing is relatively expensive. Tax burdens are similarly high in a lot of well-off counties. Also, commuting to and from work can be burdensome.


Like Loudoun, a number of the country’s wealthiest households are tightly concentrated in counties around the nation’s capital. Six of the richest counties lie on the outskirts of Washington, D.C.: Fairfax County, Va., Arlington County, Va., Stafford County, Va., Prince William County, Va., Charles County, Md., and Alexandria City, Va.


In Maryland, not far from D.C., lies another cluster of wealthy counties. Howard County, Md., a suburb of Baltimore, has a standout school system with standardized test scores that consistently beat out the national average, and median household incomes of $101,710. In nearby Montgomery County, where 59% of residents over 25 have an advanced degree, households bring in a median $93,999. Historic Calvert County, Md., has profited from its roots as a tobacco-rich farmland as well as its proximity to Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, and claims a median income of $89,049.


The New York City suburbs reap the benefits of the big city’s financial industry. Six of the wealthiest counties in the country–Hunterdon County, N.J., Somerset County, N.J., Morris County, N.J., Nassau County, N.Y., Putnam County, N.Y. and Suffolk County, N.Y.–are all part of the New York metropolitan area.

According to Forbes, these N.Y. counties may be knocked a few rungs down the list when the next American Community Survey is released later this year. The new data will reflect incomes for 2009, when the near-collapse of Wall Street stripped many families in the city–and its wealthy outlying suburbs–of their paychecks.


Counties No. 18 and 19 on the list are two wealth centers in California: Marin County and Santa Clara County. Picturesque and stylish Marin offers scenic vistas, health care industry and technology industry money–Kaiser Permanente and Comcast ( CMCSAnews people ) are among its major employers–and a median income of $88,101. Well-paid, highly skilled tech jobs boost the median income to $87,287 in Santa Clara.


Nashville, Tenn., suburb Williamson County and Atlanta, Ga., suburb Forsyth County are the only representatives from the non-coastal south–but just like the other counties on the list, they have big-city growth industries to thank for their prosperity.


NOTE: Median income should NOT be confused with wealth. In high cost-of-living areas, where housing and education are expensive, it actually can be very difficult to accumulate any meaningful wealth despite the *high* median income.


SOURCE: Forbes.com



NOTE: Advertisement Ads which appear in most posts on this Blog are run by WordPress and do NOT necessarily represent the views of Vivianne Rutkowski or Keller Williams Realty. Visitors to this blog are NOT obligated to click the ads to visit this blog.

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February 17, 2010, Loudoun County Board of Supervisors created a Limestone Overlay District in the Route 15 corridor north of Leesburg, Virginia.

The decision was intended to protect groundwater and prevent contamination problems in that area. Raspberry Falls subdivision has been experiencing water quality problems in recent years.

Under the new policies, any water supply or well that will withdraw more than 10,000 gallons of water per day during any 30-day period would have to have a study done prior to approval. In addition, wells must be located at least 100 feet from sinkholes, depressions, caves, and sinking streams.   Also, any land disturbing activities and development will be allowed only if a geophysical study shows there is no risk from karst features. However, primary residential structures will be allowed, unless decided otherwise.

What does it mean to homeowners in the LOD area?

It means that all DEEDS, Site Plans, and Record Subdivision Plats will include a notice that the property is located within the LOD, Limestone Overlay District.  The notice informs new residents that they live in an area with very special geographic features.

The policy was criticized by DAAR, Dulles Area Association of REALTORS, who opposed creation of the District saying it will negatively affect property values and make it harder for homeowners to sell homes.

Anyone who needs more information about LOD should contact Loudoun County Zoning Office directly.


SOURCE: Leesburg Today

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The residential rental market was plagued by falling rents and rising vacancies during the last few years, very much like the commercial real estate market.

Nevertheless, investments in apartment complexes are generating annual returns of 7%-8% because purchase prices for investors have declined.


Purchasing a rental property requires putting down at least 30-50 percent in cash because lenders have more strict criteria for investors than for primary residence borrowers. Rental property owners need to be able to hold the property for at least five to seven years or more to give the investment time to gain value.

As of March 1, 2009, Fannie Mae increased loan limit for investors and second home borrowers from 4 to 10.  In practice it means that  investors and second home borrowers can finance up to 10 purchased properties, if each property is financed with only one mortgage.  Of course, the 30-50% downpayment applies as a lender requirement.


Local Market Monitor, which analyzes real estate investments, identified these good and not-so-good markets for landlords.

The Washington Metropolitan area residents might be pleased to find their area on the Good Markets list:


Good Markets

  • Columbus, OH
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Raleigh, N.C.
  • Greenville, S.C.
  • Columbia, S.C.
  • Kansas City, MO.
  • Oklahoma City, OK.
  • Fort Worth, TX
  • El Paso, TX


Bad Markets

  • Detroit, NY
  • Cleveland, OH
  • Wilmington, DE
  • Dayton, OH
  • Orlando, FL
  • Tampa – St. Petersburg, FL
  • Boise, Idaho
  • Stockton, CA
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • Phoenix, AZ


SOURCE:  The Wall Street Journal

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The IRS has spelled out additional guidelines for eligibility for the home buyer $8,000 tax credit when co-borrowers purchase a property.

When a home-owning parent of an adult child co-signs for a mortgage and both names appear on the note, the IRS says that under some circumstances, the first-time home buyer can qualify for the whole amount.

The IRS says the parent doesn’t qualify for any portion of the credit, but if the child hasn’t owned a home during the three years preceding the current purchase and can qualify based on income, he or she can be allocated the entire $8,000 credit.

When un-married individuals co-purchase a home and only one of them is eligible for the credit, then the full $8,000 can be allocated to the eligible buyer.

More about the extended and expanded $8,000 tax credit that expires April 30, 2010

SOURCE: Washington Post Writers Group

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The Federal Housing Administration issued new condo-loan guidelines which took effect December 8, 2009.

The new guidelines will make it easier for condo buyers to qualify for FHA loan.

Under previous guidelines, half of the units in a new condo development had to be sold before the FHA would underwrite a mortgage in the complex. New guidelines cut the requirement to 30 percent sold.

The new guidelines also raise the ceiling on FHA loans in a development to 50 percent from 30 percent. It means that up to 50% of the condo units can be financed with FHA loan.

In summary: a condo buyers can receive FHA mortgage as long as the condos they plan to purchase is in a condo development where at least 30% of the units are already sold AND no more than 50% of those units are financed with FHA loan.

The new rules also allow condo associations to turn down an accepted offer if they agree that it’s too low—unless they will be violating the Fair Housing Act. This is expected to motivate many associations to seek FHA-approved status for their buildings.

The new guidelines are designed to help ease the condo vacancy problem.

Unfortunately, much of the fault lies with the condo boards that are not FHA loans friendly. Those boards do not understand that FHA loans are the reason many buyers can purchase to begin with, since FHA loans require only 3.5% downpayment. Often home buyers cannot qualify for a conventional mortgage because of the 10-20% downpayment requirement by most lenders.  The only way those buyers can purchase a condo, or any other home,  is if they qualify for a FHA loan.


Source: Investor’s Business Daily; REALTOR Magazine

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On November 7, 2009 the $8,000 tax credit was extended and expanded. The new tax credit is good through April 30, 2010.

The new tax credit:

1) 10% of purchase price with maximum $8,000 – in other words, homes below $80,000 get 10% tax credit, and all homes above $80,000 and below $800,000 get $8,000 tax credit for first time homebuyers

2) There is a limitation on cost of the purchased home – tax credit applies only to principal residences up to $800,000
3) There is no tax credit for homes above $800,000

4) Expires April 30, 2010

5) First time home buyers did not own a home in the last 3 years prior to purchase/closing day

6) Other home buyers who are current homeowners qualify for a tax credit equal to 10% of the purchase price up to  $6,500 if they used the home sold as a principal residence consecutively for 5 of the previous 8 years 

7) The purchasers have until July 1, 2010, IF a written binding contract to purchase is in effect on April 30, 2010

8*) Income limits increased and are as follows:
$125,000 – Single purchaser
$225,000 – Married purchasers

9) Tax credit is a direct reduction of tax liability, not just taxable income and does NOT need to be repaid

10) The tax credit CAN be monetized for closing costs expenses, and downpayment above the required 3.5%,  if borrowers use FHA-insured mortgage

11) Purchasers must attach documentation of purchase to tax return to claim credit – IRS Form 5405

12) Cannot purchase a home from a close relative: spouse, parent, sibling, child, grandparents

13) Step-relatives qualify – Homes purchased from not direct blood relatives do qualify

14) If parents co-sign the mortgage and child qualifes – the child can claim the credit

15) Cannot claim a tax credit on a home purchased by a Dependent



$8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers

$6,500 tax credit  for trade-up home buyers


NOTE: For additional details contact lender, tax advisor, or an attorney.

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A recent study by Bankrate.com showed that despite the economic downturn, 92% of Americans believe that owning a home is a good investment and a hedge against a potential inflation, because even if prices do go up, the monthly mortgage payments on 15 year or 30 year mortgage loan stay the same.

Indeed, the benefits of homeownership are too many to list here. Being able to deduct the interest expenses on tax returns and the simple pride of owning a home are just two of them.

Unfortunately, the last few years have not been kind to homeowners due to predatory lending practices and subprime mortgages given to borrowers who clearly could not afford them. That irresponsible mortgage activity applied to all income levels.

What should first-time homebuyers remember?

  1.  House should be purchased as a HOME first and as an investment a distant second.
  2. Purchasing a Home is a LONG-TERM investment and should be kept for a minimum of 7-15 years to absorb the closing costs and to weather the economic downturns.
  3. Home buyers should have at least 15-20% down payment and a credit score of 720+ for a conventional loan, and 3.5% down payment with 620+ credit score for FHA loan. Military home buyers might consider VA loans that require no down payment. 
  4. To ensure a successful homeownership, home buyers should have enough savings to cover at a minimum 6-12 months of living expenses, as well as an emergency fund for unexpected repairs and maintenance expenses. Debt-to-income ratio should never exceed 31/43%.
  5.  The best way to grow EQUITY is by pre-paying principal, especially in the beginning years when the interest expense is at the highest, and thus decreasing substantially the cost of the mortgage – however, borrowers must remember that principal pre-payments are independent from monthly payments, which include principal and interest, and  which cannot be skipped even if principal pre-payments were made.  In other words, it is possible to make principal pre-payments and then go to foreclosure by not being able to make the scheduled monthly payments.  This is crucial to understand so adequate savings are always kept for emergencies.  However, when done right, pre-payments shorten the number of monthly payments and thus allow the borrower to save money by skipping the monthly interest.

Welcome Home!

Enjoy Your Castle!


NOTE: For a financial advice always contact an expert in that field.

NOTE: I am a REALTOR who is also an ABR, Accredited Buyer Representative and if you plan to purchase a home in Virginia, I would be happy to professionally assist you with finding your ideal dream home.

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The Urban Institute published its seventh annual report titled “Housing in the Nation’s Capital.”

According to the report, more than 100,000 mortgages – almost 8% of all loans in the Washington, D.C. region – were delinquent in June, 2009.  And additional 51,500 were more than 90 days past due – with probability quite high that they will go to foreclosure .

Prince George’s County, MD,  had the highest June foreclosure rate (5.2 percent), followed by Charles County, also MD, (3.9 percent) and Prince William County, VA, (3.7 percent), the report found.

From January to June, monthly bank sales were higher than the number of foreclosures in the county. In July and August, however, the number of foreclosures outpaced the number of bank sales – a tough statistic for a market still struggling toward recovery.

This is especially hard on families who rent and have school-age children – when the landlord loses a rental home to a foreclosure, the tenants lose their home and often the children must change a school (and friends)  in a mid-year, as well.

Recently, Fannie Mae has announced a new program whereby renters in good standing will be allowed to stay in their apartments — if the property is owned by the government-controlled home funding company.

The policy seems like a step in the right direction, but only a small step. Currently, Fannie Mae only owns about 10% of all foreclosures.

The tenants can find out if the building is owed by Fannie Mae by contacting an attorney on the foreclosure notice and asking if the home is a Fannie Mae home.

Of course, it still leaves the remaining 90% of renters at the mercy of their landlord’s foreclosing lender – it certainly is a very uncertain life for renters.

The question: “Will the lender foreclose or not foreclose?” is very much on the minds of the landlords and the tenants these days. 

Many renters find out the hard way that owning a home provides more security than renting.  And as long as the HOME is purchased with a mortgage sensible enough to allow keeping that home long-term as well, purchasing  may be the way to go for many renting families.

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Thirty-year, fixed-rate mortgages moved closer to the all-time low of 4.82 percent reached in May 2009, falling to 4.87 percent the last week of September 2009, according to Freddie Mac.

Home owners who refinance have an opportunity to reduce their payment on a 30-year, fixed-rate loan for $200,000 by nearly $134 a month from a year ago, when long-term rates averaged 5.94 percent.

Other mortgage averages during the last week of September 2009 were as follows:

  • 15-year loans fell to 4.33 percent.
  • Five-year adjustable-rate mortgages dropped to 4.35 percent.
  • One-year ARMs rose to 4.53 percent.


Clearly, this is a wonderful time to purchase a real estate and there are many great deals waiting for home buyers.  If you are a home buyer searching for a home in Northern Virginia: Arlington County, Fairfax County, Fauquier County, Loudoun County, or Prince William County, I am would be happy to help you with finding that perfect or ideal property. 


I am REALTOR who is also Accredited Buyer Representative, ABR, and Certified Distressed Property Expert, CDPE, and have an excellent knowledge of the local market as well as procedures for traditional sales, short sales, bank owned properties, REO, foreclosures, and FSBO sales.

Buyer Representation is free to the Buyer and is paid by the Seller out of the commission paid to the Listing Broker, regardless if the Buyer is represented or not. Contact me today for a no obligation Buyer Consultation and you will be glad you did!  There are only benefits that come from Buyer Representation!


SOURCE: Chicago Sun-Times

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It is assumed by many that borrowers who default on their mortgages are low-income and purchased their home without being able to afford it by taking advantage of low interest rates and lax lending practices. Or that those borrowers signed mortgages without fully understanding the fine print. Or that they qualified for a loan based on no-documents or stated-income loan programs.

It is not necessarily true. Many stated-income borrowers happily meet their mortgage obligations.

At the same time, it is also true that many sub-prime loan borrowers defaulted on their mortgages.

However, a study of 24 million credit files by national credit bureau Experian and consulting company Oliver Wyman has shown that home owners with high credit scores are 50 percent more likely to deliberately walk away from a mortgage than lower-scoring borrowers.

The industry calls these “strategic defaults” and their numbers grew to 588,000 in 2008, double the total in 2007, and well beyond most earlier estimates.

The study determined:

  • Strategic defaulters tend to go straight from paying their mortgages dependably to not paying at all.
  • Strategic defaulters are heavily concentrated in negative-equity markets like California and Florida.
  • Two-thirds of strategic defaulters have only one mortgage.
  • Most likely to default are home owners with large balances and the highest credit ratings.

Clearly, strategic defaulters are sophisticated and look on the decision to default as a business strategy. They may find themselves $200K-$300K in the hole on their house, and choose to damage their credit rather than continue making payments to the lender.

Clearly it seems that most “strategic defaulters” look at a house purchase as an investment first and as a HOME a distant second – while most traditional home buyers purchase a house as a HOME first and foremost.


This study certainly explains the relatively low rate of short sales being approved by the lenders – in order to qualify for a short sale, the sellers must prove hardship. Merely not being happy with the current housing market and the fact that the seller’s house lost value, or that the seller owes more than the house is worth, is NOT enough for the lender to agree to a short sale.  A hardship letter proving inability to meet mortgage obligations due to circumstances beyond borrower’s control is the only way to qualify for a short sale.


NOTE: I am a REALTOR who is also CDPE, Certified Distressed Property Expert. If you or someone you know owes more on their house than it is worth in the current market, and must sell due to relocation, job transfer, loss of income or other factors, you may qualify for a short sale and thus save your credit. Contact me personally for a no obligation consultation before you decide to foreclose on your home and damage your credit – short sale is not reported on your credit report.

I practice real estate in Northern Virginia area: Arlington County, Fairfax County, Fauquier County, Loudoun County, Prince William County.

SOURCE: Washington Post Writers Group

Diva's scale of justice b

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Which cities are likely to be the hottest post-economic downturn destinations for young, brilliant, and highly mobile workers?

The Wall Street Journal surveyed six trend-spotting experts and they chose cities based on economic diversity, lifestyle and their own personal preferences.  Similar study was done by Forbes Magazine.

Here’s the top-10 list:

  1. Washington, D.C. (tie) with Seattle
  2. New York
  3. Portland, OR
  4. Austin, TX
  5. San Jose, CA
  6. Denver
  7. Durham, N.C.
  8. Dallas
  9. Chicago
  10. Boston

It should not come as a surprise.  Arlington County real estate held up very nicely despite the recession and even managed to boast mini-sales boom. Click here for Arlington County median and average prices for August, 2009.

Of course, other counties west of Washington, D.C. were less fortunate as home prices declined significantly, especially in Prince William County.  However, Washington, D.C. area because of its location and proximity to the federal government, as well as strong job market is positioned to weather economic downturn better than other areas of the country.


SOURCE: The Wall Street Journal

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Luxury homes used to be immune to market downturns, but this recession is different. The housing market is volatile at all price levels.


While low and moderately-priced housing markets have taken off in many parts of the country, the higher-end market is still struggling. Sales are slow and more price declines are imminent.

The problem in the luxury homes market was exacerbated by job losses,  resetting of adjustable-rate mortgages held by loan borrowers, as well as lack of availability and tighter credit for jumbo loans ( above $729,750 ) which in turn creates shortage of buyers for the luxury homes.

Here are some reasons for caution when investing in high-end homes:

  • Jumbo defaults. The delinquency rate for jumbo loans is 6.9 percent, three times higher than the rate for regular conforming loans.
  • Fewer buyers. The number of buyers for $1 million-plus homes is shrinking as the economy falters.
  • Wealthy areas are hard hit. Home prices in California, Nevada, and New York have fallen the farthest.
  • The rich are in debt too. From 1995 to 2004, the top 1 percent of Americans in terms of wealth more than doubled their mortgage and residential debt to $494 billion.


Analysts at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. recently predicted that the higher-priced housing market won’t recover until at least 2012, and market declines could surpass 60 percent, compared to 40 percent for the rest of the market.


In the Washington, D.C. area, Arlington, Virginia,  is the only area that was immune to the market decline – although it did also experience some downward market shift.  Nevertheless, 2009 prices are well above the 2004 price level.


SOURCE: The Wall Street Journal

grey mansion

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The last few years were not kind to homeownership.

However, despite all of the bad news in the media and websites like Zillow.com about homeownership and mortgages, most Americans still believe buying a home is a great investment, according to a new study by Bankrate.com.

Among the findings from the study:

  • 92 percent say that a home is a good investment for the future.
  • 48 percent worry about losing or being unable to afford their homes.

“These results provide an interesting illustration of the homeowners’ mindset in a difficult economy. While 9 out of 10 still believe in the American dream of homeownership, nearly half worry about losing their homes” – according to Bankrate.

Historically, on average, homes appreciate at the rate of inflation.

During the 2003-2005 years homes appreciated nearly 25% per year – growth that was very unusual and to a great extent artificial, stimulated by low interest rates and easy credit.

The economy simply could not support such a rapid growth, nor was it necessarily healthy for the society as a whole. Many people found themselves priced out of the housing market as most incomes did not grow at the rate of the housing market.

In Loudoun County many people who work in this county had to move out further to the west, as they no longer could afford to live in Loudoun. Of course, one could argue that this was a perfectly normal economic process. One could also argue that 25% appreciation per year was unprecedented, disturbed the existing balance, and put to test all the principles of the micro and macro economics.


When purchased for a long term, at least 7-15 years, home still makes a good investment and provides a healthy return.

Prepaying the mortgage by making extra payments, gives the homeowners the opportunity to build equity and affords the financial freedom they deserve.

Owning real estate, mortgage free, is the best scenario and worth every sacrifice it takes to pay off the mortgage early.


Most of all, purchasing real estate is a great defense against inflation.


Because inflation tends to drive up prices, but also salaries. However, monthly payments on 15 or 30 year fixed mortgages stay the SAME throughout the life of the loan, regardless of inflation.

Homeownership is alive and well – it is true now and always. At least in this universe.

SOURCE:  Bankrate.com,  USA Today


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Apartments.com conducted a survey to determine what renters want most and concluded that the five most-desired amenities by renters in 2009 were:

  • Air conditioning
  •  Balcony, deck, patio, porch or yard
  •  On-site swimming Pool
  •  In-unit washer and dryer
  •  Internet access


More than 45 percent said they have decided against renting an apartment because it lacked an in-unit laundry and/or air conditioning.

More than 35 percent said location and neighborhood are the most important factors in their choice of where to live.

The size of the apartment is the next more important factor — with 19 percent saying bigger is better.


Satisfying those needs should not be difficult here, in the Washington, D.C. area, where there is an abundance of prime rental properties, including single family homes.  Commuting and an easy access to major roads, neighborhood amenities, internet access, and overall condition of the property top the list of wants for renters in our area.

To search all Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia area rental properties, visit: 

www.RealtorVivianneRutkowski.com  and  the list of 10 top internet sites offering Rental Properties 


SOURCE:  Apartments.com

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Keller Williams Realty ranked first on the customer-service rankings among home buyers and Coldwell Banker scored highest among home sellers in the annual J.D Power and Associates 2009 Home Buyer/Seller study.

The study measures customer satisfaction with the largest national real estate companies. The most significant factor is the buyer/seller experience with the practitioner. Other factors include overall experience with the office and satisfaction with extra services offered, like referrals to home inspectors, appraisals, lawyers, and moving company recommendations. Home sellers also rate marketing.

In the home-buyer segment, Keller Williams ranked highest for a second consecutive year, with a score of 806 on a 1,000-point scale. Keller Williams also performed particularly well in the agent factor. Following in the rankings were Coldwell Banker (801) and RE/MAX (798).

Among home sellers, Coldwell Banker ranked highest with a score of 815. Keller Williams followed Coldwell Banker with a score of 801, as the second best performing real estate company in the home seller satisfaction ranking.

The 2009 Home Buyer/Seller Study included more than 3,100 evaluations from 2,801 respondents who bought or sold a home between April 2007 and June 2008.

Among the related findings:

  • Home sellers reported that, on average, 3.2 open houses were conducted for their property in 2009, compared with 4.5 in 2008.
  • Approximately 64 percent of home sellers used a Web site listing to market their home in 2009, up from 61 percent in 2008.

Here are the home buyer rankings on a 1,000-point scale. (The home buyer average score was 791.)

  • Keller Williams, 806
  • Coldwell Banker, 801
  • RE/MAX, 798
  • Century 21, 795
  • Prudential, 781
  • ERA, 744
  • GMAC, 731

Here are the home seller rankings on a 1,000-point scale. (The home seller average score was 786.)

  • Coldwell Banker, 815
  • Keller Williams, 801
  • RE/MAX, 784
  • Century 21, 770
  • Prudential, 753

(NOTE: ERA and GMAC were included in the study but not ranked due to a small sample size.)


SOURCE:  J.D. Power and Associates

Vivianne Rutkowski
Keller Williams Realty

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REALTORS love their job – there is never a dull moment and there is not much room for ignorance.

The law called Underground Utility Damage Prevention Act requires that Realtors® (and others) must call the Virginia Utility Protection Service — aka Miss Utility — before putting up any sign that involves sticking something in the dirt, other than temporary directional signs.

Effective August,  2009 real estate agents in Virginia will face up to a $2,500 fine if they do not call Miss Utility prior to installing a For Sale sign.  

The SCC maintains the new rule is for safety reasons, although the regulation has an exemption: The owner of the property does NOT need to get permission from Miss Utility before installing.  

The SCC points out that utility lines are not always buried deep; they can be as little as two inches below the ground (???).  The SCC claims that in the last two and a half years, more than 600 gas lines have been damaged within a foot of the surface.

Effective August 1, 2009, Virginia real estate agents must call Miss Utility for any kind of sign, except temporary, free-standing “tent” signs or directional Open House signs:

  • Utility of Virginia at 811 or (800) 552-7001 must be called at least 48 hours before installing, excluding weekends and holidays.
  • Once called, must wait 48 hours starting at 7 a.m. the next working day to give Miss Utility a chance to mark any lines.
  • After 48 hours, if there are no marks, need to call again, then wait three hours.
  • After those waiting periods, or if an OK call is received, then a sign can be installed.

The installation approval — called a “utility ticket” — is only good for 15 working days. If there is a need to install another sign after 15 days, the process must be repeated over in case a utility company added a line during that time.


Underground Utility Damage Prevention Act 


SOURCE: Virginia Association of REALTORS

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