Mortgage Rates are going UP! What will that do to Home Prices?

Mortgage interest rates have already risen by over a quarter of a percentage point in 2018. Many are projecting that rates could increase to 5% by the end of the year.

What impact will rising rates have on house values?

Many quickly jump to the conclusion that an increase in mortgage rates will have a detrimental impact on real estate prices as fewer buyers will be able to qualify for a loan. This seems logical; if there is less demand for housing then prices will drop.

However, in a good economy, rising mortgage rates increase demand as many prospective purchasers immediately jump off the fence to guarantee they get the lower rate.

Let’s look at home prices the last four times mortgage rates increased dramatically.

Mortgage Rates on FIRE! Home Prices Up in Smoke? | Keeping Current Matters

In each case, home prices APPRECIATED and did not depreciate. No one is projecting as dramatic an increase in rates as the examples above. Most are projecting an increase of approximately 1% by the end of the year.

The last time mortgage rates increased by 1% over a twelve-month period was January 2013 (3.41%) to January 2014 (4.43%). What happened to house prices during that span? They appreciated by 9.8%.

Just two weeks ago, Rick Palacios Jr., Director of Research at John Burns Real Estate Consulting explained:

“Mortgage rates have risen 1% or more ten times in the last 43 years, with little impact on home sales and prices when the economy was also strong…Historically, rising confidence, solid job growth, and higher wages have more than offset reduced demand for housing resulting from higher mortgage rates.”

Bottom Line

When mortgage rates increase, history has shown that prices appreciate (and do not depreciate) during that same time span.


Kristen is a realtor in Sterling, VA.  She has worked with every kind of buyer and seller but finds herself working mostly retirees ready to sell their homes and the homebuyers with young families ready to buy them!

Ready to Rightsize


Upsizing? Downsizing? Let the Barbour Team help you “Rightsize.”  We know that moving can be overwhelming which is why we have built an extensive list of local rightsizing partners ready to assist you.  Join us on March 1, 2018 from 6-8pm at the Reston Chamber of Commerce for an informational evening filled with great tips from our panel of experts as well as a local real estate market update.


  • Benjamin Barbour, Clark Financial Solutions
  • Leigh Newport, Staged by Design
  • Lisa Geraci Rigoni, The Organizing Mentors
  • Sal Gonzalez, General Moving Dynamics
  • Wes Stone, Prophet Home Solutions
  • George Light, Homes Savings & Trust Mortgage

Light fare and beverages will be provided.

Click Here To Register

3 Ways to Find Off-Market Properties

I attended a broker’s open yesterday and was talking to another agent about having buyers ready to purchase if the right house comes along.  The problem? Low Inventory!  Not enough choices!  To illustrate, Sterling saw 16% fewer listings in 2017 compared to 2016.  Now, do I tell my clients to sit and wait until something comes on the market?  No way! I push up my sleeves and see if I can find something off-market.

Here are three ways I help buyers find off-market properties:

  1. Talk to homeowners. I talk to homeowners every single day for a variety of reasons. Let me give you an example. I door knock the neighborhood for each of my listings prior to going on the market.  It’s part of my pre-marketing program called “Pick Your Neighbor” where I ask homeowners if they know anyone who might be interested in their neighbor’s house.  I also ask if they have any intention of selling their home.  Not surprisingly, most people tell me that they are not planning to sell in the immediate future, but many do say that a move will happen at some point.  I stay in touch with these future sellers and keep them in mind if the right buyer comes along in the meantime.  I spoke to two such owners last week when I was out pre-marketing for an upcoming listing in Reston.
  2. Write letters. When I’m working with buyers who have narrowed their search criteria in a certain area then I will identify off-market homes that could be a good fit for them. I go into the tax records and mail to the owners.  In the letter, I ask if they would consider selling and request a showing.  I recently worked with buyers who loved a specific building in Arlington.  They wanted a condo that was at least 2,000 sq. ft. and only smaller units had come to market.  You guessed it!  I mailed directly to the owners and we were in for a showing two weeks later.
  3. Talk with other local realtors. I already mentioned brokers opens and the opportunity to talk to agents while previewing.  There is also an active community of agents in online forums.  For instance, one private Facebook group I belong to has over 2,400 agents licensed and working in Northern Virginia.  Every Wednesday agents list buyer needs to find upcoming listings.  This thread is very active, to say the least.  Similar “Buyer Need” requests can be found on the other private realtor groups I’m also a member of.

Buyers – Let me put these strategies to work and help you find your new home!

On the fence sellers – Listen to me when I tell you buyers are out there, they just don’t want to buy for the sake of buying. Call me for a complimentary consultation to get an estimate of what your home is worth in today’s market.

Kristen is a realtor in Sterling, VA.  She especially loves helping first-time homebuyers and clients juggling selling and buying a home simultaneously. Kristen has a knack for working with clients with young children – they always make the process more exciting!

5 Tips to be Spring Market Ready

You’ve heard of the expression “the early bird gets the worm,” right?  Well, the saying applies to the real estate market too.  Now, I realize spring officially started last week, but the market is already heating up!

Here is your to-do list to be Spring Market ready:

  1. Make Repairs & Partial Updates: You may not notice the leaky faucet or the cracked tile in the bathroom, but believe me buyers will point those issues out immediately. Take care of minor repairs (See #3 to make sure you don’t miss anything!).  Better yet, swap out a bathroom vanity with a broken door for a new one.  This inexpensive update can really have a big impact on the look of a bathroom.
  2. Start Packing: You want a new family to envision themselves living in your home.  Take down family photos and kid’s artwork. Pack up seasonal clothing.  Declutter your cabinets.  Consider getting a storage unit, especially if there is large furniture that isn’t needed in a room.  The room will look larger in photos and during showings.  Remember, moving is expensive.  Selling, donating or tossing home goods now will save you time and money when it comes time to move.
  3. Make a Punch List: In new construction, buyers do a “blue-tape” walk-through. They tear a small piece of blue tape to mark areas that still need repair.  For example, wall paint that needs a touch up would get a piece of tape.  The same technique can be done at your home.  Remove the tape as projects are completed.   
  4. Return Rooms to Original Use: The most common example is to return a spare bedroom turned office back to the original use.  I have seen homes that leave the office and they linger on the market.  Once the room is staged as a bedroom it sells.  You can always include a photograph of it as an office.
  5. Visit Nearby Open Houses: This suggestion can be a real eye-opener.  It is helpful to physically see the condition of houses that are selling vs. those that are not.  Walk through homes and get inspired to make yours stand out from the competition.

Hold off on painting or installing new flooring until closer to listing.  There is no reason to do these until then.  Why risk trekking dirt into the house and ruining brand new carpet?

Let’s chat before you get started on any of your to-do list.  I’ll make recommendations on where to focus your efforts for the greatest ROI.  Remember, the sooner you start, the easier life will be as your date approaches.  Happy prepping!

How Long Will Your House Last?

There are plenty of joys that come with home ownership, but few would say that maintenance is one of them.  The average life expectancy summarized above is a good starting point for understanding the future expense of maintaining the home of your dreams.

For buyers, this is one of the reasons why home inspections are OH SO IMPORTANT, even if only for informational purposes.  In Virginia, the home inspection is a protection for a buyer to walk away without penalty if unsatisfied with the condition of the home.

Donofrio & Associates, a trusted Ashburn based home inspection company, recommends asking plenty of questions during their home inspections.  Here is a partial list of their suggested questions:

  • How bad is it?
  • How do we fix that?
  • What would you fix first?
  • Can you show me how (X) works?
  • How much time do I have before I should replace (X)?
  • Where are the shut-off valves, and how do they work?
  • Are there any serious problems with the roof?
  • Is the deck structurally sound?
  • Is there adequate insulation in the attic? Any signs of water damage?
  • Are all major systems and appliances working?
  • Is there any indication of structural issues or mold?

Answers to these questions equip buyers with the information needed to walk away or move forward with the home purchase.

For those who do buy, a good rule of thumb trying to figure out the annual expense of maintaining a home is to allocate 1 1/2 – 4 % of the purchase price for regular maintenance, depending on the age and size of the house.

I’m just a phone call away if you need a recommendation for any of the service providers needed to maintain your home!


20165 December Market Report


Here are the latest market statistics for all the wonderful neighborhoods that comprise 20165 – Cascades, Countryside, Lowes Island, Potomac Lakes

  • Active Listings

The number of active listings decreased from 72 in October to 56 in November, representing a 22.2% change.  However, this was a 21.74% increase in active listings (46) from a year ago at this time.

  • Sold Homes

37 homes closed the last month which is a 2% increase from October.  November 2016 saw 41 closing for a 9.76% decrease compared to the previous year.

  • Days on the Market

Homes continue to sell despite the traditional holiday slowdown period.  Days on market (DOM) were nearly identical in October and November at 37 and 38 days, respectively.  There was a 26.92% decrease compared to last year (52 days).

  • Average Sales Price

The average sales price for November was $522,819 last month; a 15.7% increase from the month prior. A year ago at this time, the average sales price was $444,348  representing an 17.66% increase.

  • Average Sold to Original List Price (OLP) Ratio

The Average Sold to OLP Ratio was 95.5% for November 2017, down 2.46% for the month and year prior.


Are you thinking of selling? Did you know the unofficial Northern Virginia spring real estate market kicks off Super Bowl weekend? That’s only 7 weeks away! Call me to find out what you should be doing to prepare your home if you plan to sell in early 2018.

Kristen is a realtor who especially loves helping first time homebuyers and clients juggling selling and buying a home simultaneously. Kristen has a knack for working with sellers and buyers who have young children – they always make the process more exciting! She lives in Sterling, VA with her husband and their one year daughter, Ava. In her spare time, you will find her out and about enjoying all Sterling and neighboring communities have to offer.


I get a lot of questions from potential sellers about what improvements make the most sense for resale.  Gosh, this is a loaded question because the return on your investment depends on the value of your house, the value of houses in your immediate neighborhood, the housing market and how soon you sell after making the improvements.

For each of my seller clients, I create a “Should Do” and “Could Do” list to help them evaluate what changes are worth investing in prior to listing.  As an example, I recently sold a town-house style condo that had replace carpeting and repaint walls on the “Should Do” list.  The house was under contract in 3 days with a full price offer despite others in the same community with a similar floorplan. Why? The refresh made the home photograph and show beautifully.  Buyers liked that it looked modern and would not have to make major changes in the near term.  While most projects don’t have 100% ROI, the 5 Home Improvements to Add Resale Value list is a solid place to start for attracting buyers.   PLEASE READ (I’M begging here!) only make a project DIY if you are capable of doing quality work.  Buyers are quick to point out improvements that were done poorly which end up having the opposite effect.

Kristen is a realtor who especially loves helping first time homebuyers and clients juggling selling and buying a home simultaneously. Kristen has a knack for working with sellers and buyers who have young children – they always make the process more exciting! She lives in Sterling, VA with her husband and their one year daughter, Ava. In her spare time, you will find her out and about enjoying all Sterling and neighboring communities have to offer.


Winter Is Coming!  This expression immediately makes me think of Game of Thrones.  It also makes me think about what my daughter, Ava is going to when the weather turns too cold to play outside.  Rest assured, there is plenty to do in and around Sterling!

Storytime at the Library –  Not all storytimes are created equal!  What I love about the Loudoun County libraries is that each type of storytime is tailored for a specific audience.  For example, baby storytime is designed for meaningful one-on-one interaction between baby and caregiver. Whereas at toddler storytime, the librarian leads the group in a variety of action-oriented books, fingerplays, songs, and rhymes.  Visit their website for more details and the calendar so you can attend the age appropriate storytime with your little one.

Heritage Farm Museum – Here you’ll find traditional museum exhibits showcasing 250 years of Loudoun county’s agricultural history, plus you’ll find great interactive exhibits for kids.  The exhibits encourage role playing and are hands on – awesome!  Be sure to visit Grandma’s Kitchen, Claude Moore’s Children’s Farm, and Waxpool General Store.  If it isn’t too cold, guests are welcome to explore the grounds.  My family lives nearby so we often walk to the pond and feed the resident ducks.  Be sure to check out Toddler Tuesdays where kids 18-months to 4-years-old enjoy a themed story time, songs, and crafts.

Dulles Town Center Mall – You’re probably thinking, “Shopping? How original!” Trust me there is more to do here than pop into a few stores or stop by the food court.  The mall has regular attractions like the Dulles Town Center Train Express that kids can’t get enough of.  There is also Play Date Thursday at 10am where kids are treated to free educational and entertaining activities.

Ridgetop Circle Coffee – This coffee shop is AWESOME!  They have an infant and toddler section where parents/caregivers can both supervise and chat while the little ones play.  The drinks and nibbles are worth the trip too!

Play Area Open Hours are Weekdays 7 to 7 | Sat 8 to 4 | Sun 11 to 4

ZAVAZONE –  This is the latest indoor activity center in the area.  I have yet to visit, but the photos on their website make me want to go inside and play!  Parent Night Out is on the second and fourth Friday of each month.

DIY Crafts Project for Toddlers –  While it’s nice to have some time away from home, it’s always fun to play indoors too.  A lot of craft projects are geared toward slightly older kids, but this list focuses on toddlers.  I love #6 – Toilet Paper Prints and plan on doing this with Ava soon.  A quick trip to Michael’s at Potomac Run Plaza should have any of the supplies not easily found around the house.  Happy crafting!


My shopping trip to Wegmans began with a powerful punch of fall scents – cinnamon, cloves…you get the idea.  I’m confident that I’m in the majority who enjoys this scent profile, but it reminds me of a conversation I often have with sellers as they prepare their homes to go on the market.

  1. Think CLEAN first, SCENT second. It’s easy to plug in an air freshener or spray some Febreeze, but trust me when I tell you that these will only mask undesirable smells.  Instead, deep clean your home from top-to-bottom and then introduce some buyer friendly smells.
    • Appliances: Clean the oven, stove, microwave, and refrigerator.  Buyers will open all of them and no scent is best in this case.  Be sure to put a fresh box of baking soda in the fridge to keep any new smells at bay.  Also, check out this Real Simple “Cleaning Kitchen Appliance Checklist.”
    • Carpet: I know that I will need to replace the stair carpeting in my home because my dog, Lucy has claimed the landing space as her own.  Pets or no pets, having your carpets (and upholstery) professionally cleaned prior to listing is always a great idea.  I love HomeShine Carpet Cleaning and their move out special.  You may also consider replacing carpet if it’s beyond saving.
    • Clothes: If you are living in your home while selling, it’s important to stay on top of the laundry.  Smelly gym bags and stinky socks are just a plain no-no.
    • Smoke – We need to have a conversation about this one because removing this scent is going to take some work. It all depends on how much and how long you have been smoking in the home.  Ozonator, new flooring, fresh paint are some options, but getting rid of the smell is an ABSOLUTE MUST.  It’s really best that there is no evidence of smoking because it’s a big turn off to buyers.
  2. Nose Pleasers.  A 2013 study published in the Journal of Retailing by Eric Spangenberg found shoppers spent an average of 8 % more money in a home decor store when it was scented with a simple orange scent, rather than a blend of scents.  Spangenberg says aromas may affect cognitive functions in the same areas of the brain involved in decision-making.  What’s the take away?  Skip the complex smells and use the most proven appealing simple scents such as: orange, lemon, basil, tea, cedar, pine, vanilla and cinnamon.
  3. A Little Goes a Long Way. The evidence shows that scents sell, but even the loveliest scent can be off-putting if it’s too concentrated.  I recently sold a house with an owner who is one of the 19% of Americans who have a reaction to air fresheners.  He had to wear a mask when the cleaning crew came in with their professional cleansers.  While this is an extreme example, it is an important to consider your buyers.  Remember to use the power of mother nature if you went a little overboard.  Open your windows and let fresh air work its magic! Little did.

Little did Kristen know that she was in training to be a realtor at an early age. Before the convenience of the internet, Kristen’s family went on Sunday afternoon drives looking for inspiration for the home they would eventually build. Today, Kristen is still in the car only now it’s as a realtor staying on top of the Northern Virginia real estate market – especially in Sterling, Cascades, Countryside, Potomac Falls, and Lowes Island. Prior to launching her real estate career, she was a consultant at Accenture helping federal agencies build innovative business solutions. As with her past role, each new client has unique needs and her flexibility allows her to hone in on a client’s expectations, and fulfill them.

Kristen lives in Sterling with her husband and their one year daughter, Ava. In her spare time, you will find her out and about enjoying all the fantastic family-friendly events in the area.