Recent Posts

Tuesdays on the Town: Preserve at Westfields by Craftmark Homes

Tuesdays on the Town: Preserve at Westfields by Craftmark Homes

As we look past the naked trees and bland winter palette eagerly anticipating Spring, nothing seems to be experiencing quite the growth and activity that we’re seeing in the new construction housing market. I’m working with a client currently in negotiations and the builder has […]

Video Vednesday! The Arlington by Richmond American at Southern Hills

Video Vednesday! The Arlington by Richmond American at Southern Hills

The Arlington by Richmond American at Southern Hills To read the blog post: Southern Hills in Stephens City, VA

Tuesdays on the Town: Southern Hills by Richmond American

Tuesdays on the Town: Southern Hills by Richmond American

When buyers move to Northern Virginia from out of the area, their search criteria can produce a vast number of results – none of which anyone will admit is “perfect”. So where do buyers compromise?

It’s often said that real estate is a combination of three factors – price, condition and location. You may have heard me say, “Pick two. Because even rich people still only get two of the three on their wish list.” If you can find the perfect house in the perfect location, it’s way out of your budget. If it’s the perfect house with the perfect price, it’s almost definitely not in the right location. Naturally, the last combination is the perfect price and perfect location but the condition is terrible. So which do most buyers choose?

This week, we’re visiting a community that is probably further West than most would consider but the compromises need to be adequately weighted, especially for investors. While Stephens City is 70 miles west of Tysons Corner, it’s also one of the last places in Northern Virginia where you can get single family new construction for under $300,000. When prioritizing the wish list, I will tell you from experience that most will extend their commute to get the home that suits their lifestyle best.

Southern Hills is a Richmond American community that is just getting started. Two collections (The Seasons, The Collection) of nine floorplans for over a hundred available lots. Base prices range from $281,990 for the Coral and Onyx floorplans to $343,990 for the Yorktown, which offers 6 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms, a 3 car garage and 3 finished levels – still under $500,000. While the community won’t have a full-scale suite of amenities, that also keeps the HOA fee down to $56 a month. Ideal for price sensitive, cost-conscience buyers.

The community offers four models to tour – the Onyx, the Citrine, the Arlington and the Hopewell. Pictured here is the most popular of designs, the main level Arlington. Built with three bedrooms and two baths on the main, the basement with two additional bedrooms and a bathroom can finish the space up to 3,300 square feet. The Seasons collection prides their standard features list on being more inclusive so that homeowners can get what they want and stay as close to the base price as possible. All models in Southern Hills have 9′ ceilings and 8′ doors, 36″ cabinetry and granite counters in the kitchen, washer/dryer installed and automatic garage door openers.

I mentioned previously that I felt like this was something investors should consider. Keep in mind, I’m not a lender – can’t give financial advice and nothing I’m saying can be taken to the proverbial bank. So here we go. Most investors will buy property with 20-25% down payment. On the smallest $290k Citrine model, let’s just say the payment would be $1400 a month (to include principle, interest, taxes, insurance and HOA). Now there were only 20 single family detached homes rented in Stephens City in the last 6 months but one of them happened to be in Southern Hills – for $2,500. Even if you were able to get $2,000 for a smaller floorplan, that’s some solid cash flow.

The reason I came out to Southern Hills is that I have two different clients looking for new construction under $300k. Sadly, there just aren’t that many options for those looking under $300k, for main level master bedrooms and in a condition that doesn’t require copious amounts of cash out of pocket. This option checks all the boxes but one: location. So let’s address that. Stephens City is home to The Family Drive-In Theater (a summertime favorite of ours), the fabulous Roma Casual Italian restaurant and minutes south of Winchester, which is where you’ll likely find anything else you need. Put a price on your quality of life and you’ll rethink your priorities. Trust me on this!

For a tour of the community, reach out at 703-261-5826. Investors, first-time buyers, retirees and everyone else welcome.

Tuesdays on The Town: The Landing at Cannon Branch by Stanley Martin

Tuesdays on The Town: The Landing at Cannon Branch by Stanley Martin

You’d have to see it to believe it but Manassas is experiencing tremendous growth. The landscape is changing with the addition of Micron’s new $3 billion campus, live music venues, breweries and The Landing at Cannon Branch by Stanley Martin, the city’s only waterfront community. […]

The Growing Home Real Estate Team Takes Root at Pearson Smith Realty in Ashburn

The Growing Home Real Estate Team Takes Root at Pearson Smith Realty in Ashburn

Over the past couple years, my business has grown exponentially – quite literally doubling every year. The number of transactions, the volume of business, the hours, the miles…naturally I came to the conclusion I couldn’t keep going without help. This past October, I brought on […]

The Girlfriends’ Guide to New Construction, Part One: Agency

The Girlfriends’ Guide to New Construction, Part One: Agency

Before the Internet, we had to rely on books for information (thousands of Millennials suddenly gasp in horror.) We didn’t have social media news feeds, there were no blogger insights and Google was just a baby. So what did we do in the year 2000?

We went to the library and we borrowed books.

One of my favorite series from the reading room was “The Girlfriends’ Guide” by author Vicki Iovine. Popular for its extremely candid, no-nonsense take on practical tips and honest reassurance about what to expect – I have decided that this is what real estate needs.

Here it is in Top Ten format, The Girlfriends’ Guide to Buying New Construction.

#1. Who’s Who in the Transaction, A Conversation About Agency

Starting with the basics. A legally binding contract is a few things; a written agreement between competent parties with acceptable consideration. In the case of new construction, the buyer and the builder are considered the parties. Each party also has representation, much like attorneys representing their parties. So let’s be clear on who this representative is – HINT: It’s not the sales representative that works in the model home.

Let me explain why this is important. When buyers visit the sales center, they’re greeted by a sales person who should be knowledgable on the community; the lots, the amenities, the homes, the options, the pricing and the delivery dates. One can only hope that this information is readily available. Advance the conversation to contract and you’re ready to negotiate. Unfortunately some of these sales people can be rather territorial and (for lack of a better term) are “gatekeepers” to the decision makers.

The most recent example I can offer is a community in Chantilly where a Van Metre rep told my clients they needed a 5% earnest money deposit in order to secure a lot and build a home. Non-negotiable. “And we’re getting it all day long”, is the way he phrased it. FIVE PERCENT IS HUGE. That’s a lot of cash. For a contract that is completely binding after a 3-5 day (a week at best) review period, that’s an unusually large amount of money. So my clients walked away, disappointed that the subdivision wouldn’t be an option for them. A few months later another client tours West Park at Brambleton, also by Van Metre, where upon I have to disclose in warning – this might be more than you’re comfortable with since we already know that the earnest money deposit is 5%. But wait! We’re told that even with only two lots remaining, they would be more than happy to compromise on the deposit schedule.

How is it that one community tells us it’s a 5% deposit up front and the other says they’ll consider a payment schedule with the 5%? Shouldn’t the builder have policies in place about what they will and won’t do? The answer is both yes and no. While there are rules (or shall we call them guidelines), there are always exceptions. When it comes to contracts, EVERYTHING is negotiable and you won’t make any movement in your direction unless you ask.

Case in point, let your Realtor negotiate these terms for you. Don’t walk away defeated, you’re not even dealing with the decision makers. Many buyers think that it’s a good idea to cut the real estate agent out of the transaction and use the builder representative. Thinking that they’ll save the commission is a real estate myth that is absolutely FALSE. Not only is this quite possibly the best service that you’ll ever receive, you won’t be charged for it. Agents are compensated as part of the purchase, the commissions are already built into the price. If the builder negotiated this out of the contract and gave you a lower purchase price, they’d end up setting a precedence for every home buyer to approach this way. These sales representatives are not looking out for the buyer’s best interests but that of the builder. If you don’t know what you don’t know, who are you looking to for advice on what’s reasonable and what isn’t? (Please don’t say library books.)

So here is my homage to Mrs. Iovine. I present to you “The Girlfriends’ Guide to New Construction.” In this 10 part series, I’ll cover the top ten things that every home buyer should know before they consider purchasing new construction homes.

Next week, we’ll cover Part Two: If It’s Not In Writing, It Didn’t Happen, A Conversation About Contracts

Video Vednesday! The Brighton by Beazer Homes at Willowsford

Video Vednesday! The Brighton by Beazer Homes at Willowsford

The Brighton by Beazer Homes at Willowsford To read the blog post: Willowsford in Aldie, Virginia

Video Vednesday! The Hadley by Van Metre at Eastview

Video Vednesday! The Hadley by Van Metre at Eastview

The Hadley by Van Metre at Eastview To read the blog post: Eastview in Chantilly, Virginia

Video Vednesday! The Portsmouth by Van Metre at Tanglewood

Video Vednesday! The Portsmouth by Van Metre at Tanglewood

The Portsmouth by Van Metre at Tanglewood

To read the blog post: Tanglewood in Aldie, Virginia

Tuesdays on the Town: Brighton by Beazer at Willowsford

Tuesdays on the Town: Brighton by Beazer at Willowsford

It’s been incredibly busy these past few months and as I write, the team is getting ready to put 6 listings on the market in the next 2 weeks. We’re always out visiting new construction, the majority of our tours just never get published. Writing […]