As we enter the holiday season, we continue to see strong sales numbers in the Northern Virginia housing market, even as inventory levels continue to decline. Right now we have 24% fewer homes for sale than the last week of November in 2016.
We are seeing houses that are priced right often receiving multiple contracts, which is unusual for this time of year. Yet, and you know you have heard me say this before, if they are not in tip top condition priced and marketed properly they are sitting. It is definitely a “haves and have not’s” market as a home seller.
During this time of year, I often get asked, “should I keep my house on the market or take it off”. My advice is simple – if you need to sell, keep it on. Nicely decorated houses look festive and cozy which attracts many buyers (see the article about holiday staging below). Additionally, buyers who are looking over the holidays are serious buyers; we don’t get many window shoppers this time of the year. These buyers are looking because they have a real housing need; whether their lease has ended, they are relocating into the area or they are looking to get a great deal as sellers tend to be a little more motivated when listing their homes at this time of the year. If you just want to sell your home but don’t have a real need to sell, take your house off the market and kick back, relax and enjoy the holidays. Wait until the second or third week of February to put it back on the market. If you or someone you know is thinking about selling or buying a home, please let me know so I can give them advice specific to their situation
After much deliberation, the Senate tax bill narrowly passed during the early morning hours on Saturday December 2nd in a vote of 51-49. The House passed their bill in mid November so now they need to both come to an agreement to put on the President’s desk for signature. Details of the final plan are still forthcoming, When we know what the final bill will entail I will give you detailed interpretations about it’s impact on the real estate market. One thing I can tell you with certainty is that many of the projections I have read thus far are erroneous and do not represent next level thinking and analysis. We’ll fix that in the coming weeks so stay tuned.
I hope that you have a Merry Christmas and enjoy the holidays with your family, friends and loved ones!
It’s a good life.
Bull Run Festival of Lights
The holidays bring family and friends closer. It’s a time for celebrating and a time for good cheer. Our area offers a variety of events to celebrate the holidays; from concerts to Tree Lighting events along with winter activities, both indoors and outdoors. We have selected a few of our favorites from around the area.
Washington, DC — The National Symphony Orchestra: Handel’s Messiah Presented by: National Symphony Orchestra at The Kennedy Center – December 14 – December 17 / Tickets $15-$89 · Visit www.kennedy-center.org or call 202-467-4600 to purchase tickets.
Fairfax County — Bull Run Festival of Lights and Holiday Village
7700 Bull Run Dr., Centreville, VA 20121 — November 22, 2017 – January 7, 2018 / Monday – Thursday: 5:30 to 9:30 pm.; Fridays – Sunday & holidays: 5:30pm to 10pm / Mon -Thurs, $15 per car / Fri-Sun & Holidays, $20 per car.
Enjoy 2.5 miles illuminated by holiday light displays. Drive the festival route from the comfort of your car; turn out your headlights and just follow the magical glow. After viewing the lights, bring your family and friends to the holiday village to enjoy rides, refreshments.
Prince William County — Holiday Performances and Events
Swing Machine Big Band: 4th Annual Christmas Extravaganza —
Hylton Performing Arts Center (10960 George Mason Cir, Manassas, VA) Tickets: $15.00
Manassas Holiday Market Arts & Crafts Christmas Fair — December 16 from 12pm—4pm at the Harris Pavilion, 9201 Center Street, Manassas, VA.
Just in time for the holidays, come check off your shopping list! From arts and crafts to jewelry and baked goods, to body and hair care, our vendors have everything you wish to surprise your loved ones with! Happy Shopping!
Loudoun County — Oatlands Historic House and Gardens – November 17 to December 30 – Monday-Saturday, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm / Sunday, 12pm to 5:00 pm. 20850 Oatlands Plantation Lane Leesburg, VA 20175
Visit the historic estate as it comes alive with afternoon teas, holiday house tours, shopping, wreath making, a candlelight hayride, and photos with Santa.
Arlington County — National Chamber Ensemble “Holiday Cheer” Concert
December 16th at 7:30pm—Universalist Unitarian Church of Arlington, located at 4444 Arlington Blvd, Arlington, VA
NCE’s holiday concert will bring classical masterpieces and holiday favorites together for the whole family. NCE’s Outstanding Young Artist Achievement Award – piano competition winner performs. For tickets, visit www.nationalchamberensemlble.org
French Toast Waffles with Apple Cherry Topping
1 can (21 oz.) apple pie filling
¼ cup cherry preserves
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ cup heavy whipping cream
1 can refrigerated crescent rounds
1 ½ teaspoons brown sugar
- Heat waffle maker. In a 1.5 quart saucepan, mix apple pie filling and cherry preserves. Cook over low heat until warm, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; keep warm.
- In shallow dish, beat eggs, 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon and 1 tablespoon of the whipping cream with wire whisk until foamy. Separate dough into 8 rounds. Dip each round in egg mixture, coating well. Place 2 to 4 rounds in waffle maker; close lid. Cook 3 to 4 minutes or until crisp and golden brown. Repeat with remaining rounds.
- Meanwhile, in medium bowl, beat remaining whipping cream, remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and the brown sugar with electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form.
- To serve; spoon warm apple mixture over waffles; top with sweetened whipped cream.
The Perfect Snow Day Checklist
People talk about going home for the holidays, but it’s often the traditions of the holidays that create a home wherever you are.
Is school called off and the office closed? Don’t waste your snow day cooped up inside. Bundle up, take the hot chocolate to go and
follow this checklist for the perfect snow day.
- Epic snowball fight Step 1: Build your snow fortress. Step 2: Stockpile your snow ammo. Step 3: Dig out your ski goggles, divide your crew into teams and let the battle begin.
- Make snow ice cream With just three simple ingredients — condensed milk, vanilla extract and snow, you can stir up a sweet snack.
- Snow graffiti Fill spray bottles with water tinted with food coloring and have at it, artistically expressing yourself in the snow. An afternoon of spritzing can transform a yard of white into a bright work of art.
- Build a snow family Roll up a family of snow people and outfit your new friends in your favorite sports team’s colors.
- Winter bonfire Bundle up and bring on the s’mores. Light up your fire pit for a magical night of fun surrounded by glittering snow and winter starlight.
Staging Tips for Selling During the Holidays
It’s the time of year that calendars are packed with holiday parties, budgets are strained by gift-giving and the roads are covered in freshly fallen snow. Alas, ’tis not the season for real estate. But the good news is that the few brave house-hunters who do venture out are serious about buying a house and stylish trimmings will make them want to ring in the New Year in your home.
“Holidays can be personal on a lot of levels, but you want to make sure your decor is neutral,” advises Amy Powers, owner of Accent Home Staging & Interiors of Atlanta. “You want to romance your buyer, not invite them to your Christmas party.”
Try these tips to get buyers in the right spirit:
Clean and stage. Before you decorate, your house should be staged. If your living room is already piled high with clutter and tchotchkes, your ceramic reindeer collection is only going to add to the sense of overcrowding.
Create a cozy vibe. The less-is-more mantra of home staging may tempt you to forgo holiday cheer this year. But a few subtle touches like a bowl of pinecones, an evergreen wreath, or a pot of cider simmering on the stove can create a warm and festive feeling in your home.
Accentuate the positive. Too many trimmings may distract buyers, but the right accessories can draw attention to your home’s best features.
Go light on lights. Step away from the inflatable snowman! One man’s “merry” is another man’s “tacky,” so tone down any garish light displays while your home is on the market. Instead, use simple string lighting to play up your home’s architecture or draw attention to the gorgeous fir tree in your front yard.
Be an equal-opportunity decorator. Leave the life-sized Nativity scene in storage this year, because overtly religious flourishes may be off-putting to some buyers. You want to keep neutrality throughout, so you can attract any type of buyer. Not sure what qualifies? Powers adds, “No matter what your religion is, you’re not going to feel offended by a nutcracker.”
Mind the tree. A tall Christmas tree can help you show off your two-story great room, but make sure the wide base won’t overwhelm the floor space. If your living area is on the small side, save space with a skinny tree.
Clear the clutter. A few decorations can stir the holiday spirit, but don’t feel obliged to hang every ornament. If you start to miss your favorite trimmings, just remember that with a little luck, you’ll be celebrating next year’s holidays in a new home. And you can decorate that place any way you please!