Archive for the ‘Northern Virginia Real Estate’ Category

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CNN Money article talks about the housing market, Wall Street, and the AIG Insurance Bailout: WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Wall Street crisis has been caused by plunging housing prices. So despite the billions of dollars being thrown at the problem, experts say more trouble lies ahead.

By Chris Isidore, CNNMoney.com senior writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — The nation’s financial system is in the midst of a massive shakeup and many on Wall Street and in Washington are pointing fingers and looking for someone to blame.

But in the end, it all comes back to one issue – housing.

Earlier this decade, it was much easier to get a mortgage. Home prices soared about 85% from 1996 through 2006in inflation-adjusted dollars, creating a bubble.

Then the bubble popped. And the fallout isn’t over yet, experts say.

In the past two weeks, the government took over Fannie Mae (FNM, Fortune 500) and Freddie Mac (FRE, Fortune 500), Lehman Brothers (LEH, Fortune 500) filed for bankruptcy and Merrill Lynch (MER, Fortune 500) sold itself to Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500).

If all that weren’t enough, the Federal Reserve announced late Tuesday night that it was loaning $85 billion to insurer American International Group (AIG, Fortune 500).

None of this would have happened if the housing market had not imploded, leaving all these firms with staggering losses from their investments tied to mortgages.

“These institutions, which weathered all kinds of calamities before, including depressions, are being knocked out,” said Lakshman Achuthan, the managing director of the Economic Cycle Research Institute. “It’s a testament to the significance of the problem we have here.”

Thus, experts agree that there are likely to be future shocks to the financial system until the housing market finally hits bottom.

Even Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, the administration’s point man in the many rescue discussions of the past month, admits this.

“The housing correction poses the biggest risk to our economy,” Paulson said the day he announced the Fannie and Freddie seizure. “Our economy and our markets will not recover until the bulk of this housing correction is behind us.”

The problem of falling home prices

But because of the depth of the housing problems, it may take a long time before real estate prices head higher again. Here’s why.

Home prices, while sharply off from the 2006 peaks, are still high in comparison to long-term gains in income, rents or overall prices, suggesting that they still have a way to fall, according to experts.

The reason housing is wreaking havoc even on insurers like AIG and big investment banks, who do not make mortgage loans, is that during the boom, trillions of dollars of mortgages were packaged together into securities that promised to pay investors with the proceeds of those loan payments.

Those securities paid better rates than other types of assets during the boom years. So many investors from around the globe poured as much money as they could into those securities.

Faced with this demand, lenders starting making more loans to riskier borrowers, including people who might not be able to afford their mortgage payments in the future and even many with no proof of income.

When prices were rising, this wasn’t a problem. The risk of loan foreclosure or default was limited because many homeowners were able to sell their house for more than they owed and make a profit.

But once prices topped out and began falling, loan defaults and foreclosures started shooting higher as homeowners found it more difficult to sell their house. This created problems not just for subprime borrowers but even for those with good credit and income.

When foreclosures rose, the value of the various types of securities tied to mortgages started to fall, causing huge losses up and down Wall Street. It also made banks less eager to extend credit because of the risks involved.

A downward spiral

This credit crunch in of itself slowed the economy, leading to job losses and more defaults, feeding a downward spiral that has been difficult to stop.

“A really bad situation — a home price bubble bursting — was made significantly worse when the recession began,” said Achuthan. “Now we have to let this thing play out.”

Some experts even argue that the steps being taken to rescue firms like AIG could make a recovery in housing and the broader economy more difficult, as financial firms and investors become more reluctant to lend money.

“We are certainly taking credit and squeezing it tighter and tighter,” said Kevin Giddis, managing director of investment bank Morgan Keegan. “Housing needs buyers. Buyers need credit.”

Achuthan said that even though rates for mortgages and other types of loans have fallen in the last two weeks, those loans are becoming more difficult for many consumers and businesses to get because banks are severely tightening their lending standards.

And if housing prices do fall further, that will only cause more losses in the financial sector and perhaps more failures of banks, insurers and securities firms.

“I would hesitate to say the worst is behind us,” Achuthan said.

So even with perhaps hundreds of billions of tax dollars going to AIG, Fannie and Freddie, one expert said the only real solution to the housing problem is for the correction in housing to finish running its course.

“We want home prices to return to normal,” said Barry Ritholtz, CEO of Fusion IQ and author of the upcoming book “Bailout Nation.”

“Until that happens, you can throw as much money at the market as you want at the situation….and it ain’t going to make any difference,” Ritholtz said. To top of page

Find this article at:
http://money.cnn.com/2008/09/17/news/economy/housing/index.htm?postversion=2008091715

Click Here to Print

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Who offers the best AV and Home Theater Installations in the Mid-Atlantic Region? Art Cuevas from Silver Screen & Sound, INC. (DC, VA, MD)

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Lamborghini, Ferrari, Maserati, and Luxury Home owners in the Baltimore Washington Area recommend Art Cuevas of Silver Screen & Sound, Inc. for all your home indulgence and high-tech lifestyle needs in the Dulles Technology Corridor or Greater Baltimore Washington areas.

For a personal referral, please contact Maserati of Baltimore General Manager Jack Davis (jdavis@mbalt.com) or ask Art for a list of recommendations from some of the most elite clientèle of Washingtonians residing locally in our region.

Silver Screen & Sound, Inc. is the area leader in custom designed and installed Home Cinemas, Video & Music Distribution, Lighting Control, Automation, Media Servers, Computer Networking and all of your other electronic lifestyle needs. The business was established by Art Cuevas in 1993 and has remained successful under the same corporation since its inception. Art’s background is in electrical engineering, control systems, and acoustics. Over the years he and his company have completed over 1,000 installations, won 6 International Awards (including Top 10 Installer in the Nation), and have been featured in dozens of national and local publications. Their top notch engineering/installation team receives special training in-house as well as CEDIA certifications and specific manufacturer training.

Silver Screen & Sound is very particular about the products they sell and are constantly evaluating new product lines. All products must not only perform well, but must be installation friendly. This ensures simple and reliable operation by homeowners, with consumer satisfaction being the ultimate goal of all Art’s professional endeavors.

Their current state of the art product lineup features:

Projectors – Marantz, JVC, Sony, Mitsubishi

Surround Sound – Lexicon, B&K, Marantz, Sunfire

Media Servers – Kaleidescape, Escient, ReQuest

Multi-Room – Elan, B&K, Marantz, Niles

Speakers – Snell, Sunfire, NHT, RBH, Elan, Niles

Video – Sony, Samsung, DVDO, Panasonic

Automation – Elan, RTI, LiteTouch, CentraLite

Accessories – Monster, Furman, Panamax, Bass Industries, Sanus + many others!

For more info, check out their website: www.HomeCinemas.biz

——————————————————–
Art Cuevas
Systems Engineer/Owner
Silver Screen & Sound, Inc.
Established 1993
Winner International Best Home Theater 2000 from CEDIA
Winner International Best Home Theater 2001 from CEDIA
Winner HBAM Award of Excellence 2002
Winner Top 10 Custom Installer in the Nation 2002
Winner Baltimore’s Best Home Theater firm 2003
Winner International Best Home Theater Technical Design Level 1 2006
Winner International Best Home Theater Technical Design Level 2 2006
Showroom: 410-296-0202
Toll Free: 877-2CINEMA
FAX: 410-296-0203
Art (direct): 443-677-3400
www.SilverScrn.com
www.TheaterRooms.com
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Selling your Home in Brambleton or Ashburn? 8 Quick Fixes to Improve Home Value from Realtor.ORG

Sunday, May 4, 2008

8 Quick Fixes to Increase Value

www.realtor.org

With buyers scarcer [but still actively searching for great homes in the DC Metro region and Dulles Technology Corridor], sellers [in luxury home suburbs like Ashburn’s Brambleton] must up the ante to convince them that their property offers what many want most — top value for dollar expended. Here are eight fast fixes:

1. Buff up curb appeal. You’ve heard it before, but it’s critical to get buyers to want to look on the inside. Be objective. View listings from the street. Check the condition of the landscaping, paint, roof, shutters, front door, knocker, windows, house number, and even how window treatments look from the outside. Add something special—such as big flower pots or an antique bench — to help viewers remember house A from B.

2. Enrich with color. Paint’s cheap, but forget the adage that it must be white or neutral. Just don’t let sellers get too avant-garde with jarring pinks, oranges, and purples. Recommend soft colors that say “welcome,” lead the eye from room to room, and flatter skin tones. Think soft yellows and pale greens. Tint ceilings a lighter shade.

3. Upgrade the kitchen and bathroom. These make-or-break rooms can spur a sale. But besides making each squeaky clean and clutter-free, update the pulls, sinks, and faucets. In a kitchen, add one cool appliance, such as an espresso maker. In the bathroom, hang a flat-screen TV to mimic a hotel. Room service, anyone?

4. Add old-world patina. Make Andrea Palladio proud. Install crown molding at least six to nine inches in depth, proportional to the room’s size, and architecturally compatible. For ceilings nine feet high or higher, add dentil detailing, small tooth-shaped blocks used as a repeating ornament. It’s all in the details, after all.

5. Screen hardwood floors. Buyers favor wood over carpet, but refinishing is costly and time-consuming. Screening cuts dust, time, and expense. What it entails: a light sanding, not a full stripping of color or polyurethane, then a coat of finish.

6. Clean out, organize closets. Get sorting—organize your piles into “don’t need,” “haven’t worn,” and “keep.” Closets must be only half-full so buyers can visualize fitting their stuff in.

7. Update window treatments. Buyers want light and views, not dated, fancy-schmancy drapes that darken. To diffuse light and add privacy, consider energy-efficient shades and blinds.

8. Hire a home inspector. Do a preemptive strike, since busy home owners seek maintenance-free living. Fix problems before you list the home and then display receipts and wait for buyers to offer kudos to sellers for being so responsible.

Sources: Ernie Roth, Roth Interiors, Los Angeles; Angel Petragallo, abr, Group One, Boise, Idaho; Melissa Galt, Galt Interiors, Atlanta; Steve Kleiman, CEO, Oakington Realty, Houston; Sid Davis, Sid Davis & Associates, Farmington, Utah, and author of First-Time Homeowners’ Survival Guide (Amacom, 2007); Steve Hochman, Friendly Note Buyers, Roxbury, N.Y.; Margi Kyle, designer and spokesperson for Hunter Douglas.

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Tips on Furniture for Condo Decorating and Loudoun County Townhome Living

Friday, March 7, 2008

Looking into life in a condo or smaller townhome in the Brambleton or Ashburn area community–but not sure how to downsize to make it all work? FINDING WAYS TO CREATE EXTRA STORAGE SPACE AND INCREASED COMFORT SEEMS TO BE THE KEY. Here’s a great older article about buying furniture, and it lists items that are especially handy to use while decorating an apartment or rental unit. Buying and utilizing the right furniture pieces (and even knowing what the names of them are so you know what to research or ask for) helps to smooth the process. Read on to find out how to keep things feeling neat, tidy, and spacious even when you are in a reduced size, a cozy room, or  your next rental transition home.

Shopping for Furniture

Posted By apartmentscomliving On September 20, 2006 @ 1:53 pm

Shopping for furniture seems like a pretty fun undertaking, until you realize you have no idea what to buy. Thumbing through a catalog, you see ottomans, loveseats, vanities… what happened to the old couch and table? If finding sturdy, well-priced, useful furniture is your goal, then arm yourself with Apartments.com’s guide to furniture shopping. We’ll clue you in on modern furniture lingo and pass along some tips for creating a great living space. Now all you need is a way to get it home! (We’ll give you some tips on that, too).

Bookcases-Yes, these obviously store books in a neat and convenient fashion but they also make great shelving solutions for living rooms, bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchens. Pick up a small one to hold the toiletries in your bathroom, a large one to serve as a hutch (more on that later) in your kitchen or a mid-sized one in your bedroom to hold the extra clothes that don’t fit in your drawers.

Chest-These are great for extra storage, but are often quite heavy and can’t really serve another purpose unless they are designed to be sat on when the lid is closed. Look for designs that can also serve as stools, pedastals or benches.

China Cabinet-This is a thin cabinet designed for displaying china. You’ve probably seen one before in a larger house but if you have a spacious kitchen or dining room in your apartment, these will work great! If you don’t have china, but like the cabinet, go ahead and store collectibles or even your everyday serveware in it. China cabinets usually have clear doors, so make sure that you’re okay with the world seeing whatever you may store in it.

Dinette-This term refers to a set of table and chairs used for dining purposes. You can usually save money by buying the entire set as opposed to buying one piece at a time. A dinette is usually smaller than a standard dining room set.

End table-An end table is similar to a coffee table. Many end tables have additional drawers or storage space underneath. These are great for apartments that are short on cabinets or closets.

Hall tree-This is a tall stand with hooks on it for hanging coats, hats, umbrellas, etc. You might consider buying one if you have extra space near your front door. You can also create storage for coats and the like by hanging hooks on the wall close to the front or back door.

Hutch-A piece of kitchen furniture designed for extra storage and as a display for dishes or knick-knacks.

Loveseat-A loveseat is not just for lovers—this shorter-than-usual couch is great for smaller spaces where a full sized sofa won’t fit.

Ottoman-An ottoman is a footstool that is usually placed in front of a chair. Some of the best ottomans have tops that flip up to reveal extra storage space inside!

Recliner-This is a chair that can recline back for sleeping or napping. These are usually more expensive that traditional chair but are super comfy.

Settee-If you have a small space where you’d like to put a sofa but can’t fit something that large, a settee may be a good solution. This is a smaller piece of furniture that can seat two people.

Vanity-This is a table with mirrors connected to the top and a chair or stool in front. They are usually found in bedrooms or larger bathrooms and are most often used for make up application and hair styling.

Wardrobe-This is basically a free-standing closet. It holds clothes on hangers and is great for those who have limited closet space and want some extra room.

Order or Buy?
When you purchase furniture online, make sure to determine if the item will come to you already assembled or if you’ll need to do that yourself. If you’re not as handy as you wish, some online retailers will assemble the item for you at a fee.
When you visit a brick and mortar store, you can save some cash if you purchase floor models. Always check to make sure the piece does not have significant damage and all parts of the piece are working properly. Resale shops can also carry furniture that is unique and easy on the wallet.
Before you purchase, test out furniture for durability and comfort. If you don’t have a vehicle large enough to bring home the furniture, virtually all furniture stores have delivery services for an additional charge. If you get a good deal on your purchase, this may not be a bad choice.

Article reprinted from Apartment Living: http://living.apartments.com

URL to article:
http://living.apartments.com/decorating/advice-shopping-for-furniture

 

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REALTOR CORNER: Samson Realty has Smart Request for MRIS to Add Short Sale Information to Information Database to help speed and smooth Closing Process on Short Sale HOMES

Thursday, March 6, 2008
Hello All!We need to request that MRIS implement changes in the listing process for Short Sale properties. We have written a letter (see below) that we request that you copy and paste into an email to be forwarded to MRIS staff. These requests are intended to remedy the Short Sale epidemic currently overwhelming our market. As you can see below. We request that these listings be re-classified and full disclosure is made by the listing agent regarding payoff, approval status and time necessary to obtain bank approval. We hope that these changes will have a positive impact on our business in the coming months. If you agree with these changes, please copy and past this letter into an email and forward it directly to the following email addresses as well as forward it to any Real Estate professional that you can. The more people that send this to MRIS, the more likely MRIS will take action.suggest@mris.net

Thanks for your participation!!!

Regards,

Doug Hall and Donny Samson
Associate Brokers
Samson Realty

3/6/2008——————————————————————–

To Whom it May Concern,

The Washington DC suburban real estate market has an overwhelming number of Short Sale and auction properties available for sale through MRIS. These short sales are typically listed at “teaser “prices that are not reflective of the actual price that the buyer will pay for the property. Because of this, these listings are causing much distress for purchasers, their agents and the industry as a whole. We feel that these listings need to be separately classified through the MRIS MLS system in a way that accurately discloses the constraints that will be imposed on any contract submitted. Disclosures including: time needed to obtain a 3rd party approval, whether the sellers lender has already approved the short sale and payoff amounts. We propose the following solution and request that MRIS quickly implement these changes to take effect immediately:

Create new separate “status” heading of:

AUCTION/SHORTSALE

Instead of short sales and auctions being classified as ACTIVE the listing agent would use the above status when listing a property.

For Short Sale listings add required field for:

Number of days required for short sale approval
Payoff amount of first mortgage
First mortgage bank
Has bank agreed to short sale yes/no

Payoff amount of second mortgage
Second Mortgage Bank
Has bank agreed to short sale yes/no

The benefits of these changes are that they will allow agents to better educate their buyer clients about short sale listings. This will also require agents to provide full disclosure through MRIS to prospective buyers and their agents.


Excerpt from email blast by Casey Samson

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Zillow offers HOME VALUE REPORT to show Changes (Increase of Decline)

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

How Does Your City Rate?

Zillow’s latest Home Value Report shows that over the past year, U.S. single-family home values have decreased by 5.5%, while condo values have declined by 7.4%.

VALUE CHANGES 

ASHBURN 20148 

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Realtor.com shows online marketing surpasses all other media when it comes to marketing your home for sale.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Just the facts… Realtor.com has been funding some really big research projects and has released that for the year 2008, people seeking information about the local housing market are 500% more likely to sell a home if it has been advertised on the Internet (rather than simply relying on the newspaper).  To those of us living in the Dulles Technology Corridor, this comes as no surprise; but for many people and agents in the housing markets nationwide, they are scratching their heads wondering why properties not aggressively marketed by Internet are not selling at as fast a rate…

With the release of these new stats that show the dramatic rise in popularity of the Internets, these same folks can look back with 20/20 vision in hindsight and say, “Who knew?”. To that I would just laugh and answer, “Anybody under 40 or anyone living in Loudoun County–that’s who.”

Cheers, everyone. May all your internet footprints be left in the soft sand of the virtual beach standing on the edge of the real estate marketing ocean. Thanks for the statistical support Realtor.com–those of us out here who love the net and all the positive life changes the web has the power to bring us are really grateful to you.