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!

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 Wintertime To Do’s To Get 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 seems like a long way away, especially with the frigid temperatures this week, but it will be here before you know it.

Here are 5 Wintertime To Do’s To Get 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 once spring does roll around.  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.