Tysons, VA

Ask Val: Summer Ready Backyard

This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Val Sotillo, Northern Virginia-based Realtor and Falls Church resident. Please submit your questions to her via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: What outdoor upgrades do you recommend now that vacation places are very limited and the whole family is home for the summer?

Answer: The summer of 2020 is shaping up to be a long one, especially since many outdoor venues and public pools remain closed due to the pandemic. Now that everyone is spending most of their time at home in the era of coronavirus, our backyards have become our havens, our places to soak up the sun, grill some food and sip some drinks, and where most of us will be celebrating the Fourth of July.

Other than giving some TLC to what you already have, such as power washing your deck, or painting the fence, here are some ideas to make your backyard more enjoyable for the whole summer. I’ve included some DIY links if you’d like to make the most of this time at home and save some money.

  • Consider a large outdoor rug. Not only is this a good way to include a pop of color in your backyard, but it’s also an inexpensive way to change up a space without having to go through the process of painting or staining a deck.
  • Try a gravel patio. You can save a ton of money by adding gravel instead of the more traditional patio materials, which makes this DIY project more appealing. Surrounding the gravel with lumber adds style and dimension to this space and makes it look much more expensive without the expense.
  • A pergola is a fantastic idea for your dream backyard. Clear out an area on a deck or in your yard and build your own. Add curtains for extra shade to create the ultimate outdoor living room.
  • Don’t forget about the outdoor lighting. Drape string lights down from a pergola or across your outdoor living space to give it a starry-night feel. You can also line any patio or garden path with torches and lanterns for soft lighting.
  • Fire pits are a lovely way to add charm, coziness and relaxation to your backyard. You also don’t need a lot of space to create this cozy scene. Whether you want to cook your food over an open fire or cozy up to it with blankets on a cool night, fire pits make a great addition to your backyard. Here are some great DIY ideas.
  • For a nice alfresco dinner, get a patio set that comes complete with table and chairs, or build your own outdoor table out of a few wine barrels and wooden boards for DIY yard decor.
  • Let your backyard be the best spot for entertaining the whole family with a kitchen! There are plenty of ways to build an outdoor kitchen that fit within your budget. Add a charcoal grill and table on a patio for a simple look. You can also build a Grillzebo (A gazebo for your grill).
  • Flowers are ideal for adding a natural pop of color to your landscape. Plant hydrangea bushes or tulip bulbs along the fence if you have a major green thumb. Or go to your local plant nursery and buy a few pots to fill with your favorite blossoms.
  • Now that most public pools are closed, here are some above ground pools you can get on a budget that will be easy to remove once summer is over.
  • You can bring family movie night outside, and try a DIY backyard movie theatre here.
  • If you’re not into outdoor movies, but you’re into music, a simple outdoor Bluetooth speaker will help you set up the summer mood. This speaker is my favorite and it’s the best bang for your buck.
  • If you have a front porch, make it look like an outdoor oasis by installing ceiling fans and hanging a set of sheer curtains.

I hope these backyard ideas inspire you to make your yard your favorite place this summer!

I also want to take a moment to wish a Happy Fourth of July to all! May this day be a symbol of hope, prosperity and happiness in your lives. Be safe, be kind, and take care of your family, friends and community.

If you’d like more information, or would like a question answered in my column, please reach out to [email protected]. I hope to hear from you soon.

Val Sotillo is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington D.C., and Maryland with Real Living At Home, 4040 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite #10C Arlington, VA 22203, 703-390-9460.

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Val Sotillo, Northern Virginia-based Realtor and Falls Church resident. Please submit your questions to her via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: We’re considering buying a house and we’ve been attending a few virtual open houses. There is one property we really liked, and the agent mentioned the seller needs to do a rent-back for 4 weeks after selling. How does a rent-back work?

Answer: A Seller’s Post-Settlement Occupancy, more commonly referred to as a rent-back, allows a home owner to sell their home, collect the proceeds and continue living in the home for a pre-determined period of time after closing.

The most common scenarios for a rent-back are:

  1. The seller has a need for the sale proceeds quickly; such as applying them towards the purchase of their next home. A word of caution on this strategy for sellers — they have to make sure that they’ll be able to find and close on their next home before the rent-back period ends.
  2. Moving out is burdensome and/or highly disruptive to the seller’s family and/or job that they don’t want to start the process until they’re under contract and all buyer contingencies have expired.
  3. Sellers need to remain in their home until the school year is finished.
  4. Sellers want to avoid a double move, first to interim housing and then to a new home. It can be costly to store belongings, and moving twice can be a huge inconvenience.
  5. Buyers are flexible with their move-in date, or their current lease doesn’t end until weeks after settlement.

How Rent-Backs Work

The Northern Virginia Association of Realtors contracts (as well as other regional contracts) provide a standard form for a Seller’s Post-Settlement Occupancy Agreement so you don’t need to worry about hiring an attorney. It functions as a short-term lease including how much the seller will pay the buyer for the rent-back, how long the rent-back lasts, a security deposit and a penalty for staying past the rent-back period.

Buyers will conduct a pre-closing walk-through before they purchase the home where they have all the rights provided to them in a normal sale. At the end of the rent-back, the new owners will conduct another walk-through once the previous owners move out, which is similar to that of a walk-through at the end of a normal rental period.

If the buyers are financing the home as a primary residence, the rent-back has a limit of 60 days per the buyer’s loan regulations.

If the previous owners caused damage during the move-out, the new owners can make a claim against the security deposit, generally held by the Title Company who handled the sale.

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Val Sotillo, Northern Virginia-based Realtor and Falls Church resident. Please submit your questions to her via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: Do you foresee the real estate market going back to normal in the summer?

Answer: We made it to June! Can you believe it?! Spring has been full of uncertainty and we’ve all been adjusting to a whole “new normal”. Honestly, it’s impossible to predict the future but I’m very optimistic that we’re going in a positive direction now that coronavirus-related restrictions are easing and the economy is reopening.

Here’s why:

  • While the number of transactions in the Tysons area is lower compared with last spring, they did not drop as much as many industry experts predicted. May has been more favorable, with increasing numbers of properties under contract and new listings, according to MLS data.
  • Normally we see sales really ramp up in March and April, but amid the pandemic and widespread job losses, many buyers wanted to wait not only until they felt more secure in their jobs but also until they could physically step into the homes they were considering. As COVID-19 cases (hopefully) drop significantly and states are loosening restrictions, buyers are becoming more comfortable with the home buying process as they’ve gotten used to taking precautions such as wearing masks and keeping social distance.
  • During these past months at home, homeowners had lots of time to figure what type of space is more valuable to them. Many people have found that they need a home with more space, while others have decided to downsize. What I’m seeing more often on my buyer clients must-have list, is a true home office and not just a desk area in the kitchen. The demand to work from home will remain strong motivating buyers to look for a separate space for that home office.
  • Although home sales have declined due to social distancing and economic unpredictability, home prices are still strong in the Northern Virginia market. In the past couple of months, most of the buyers I represented were competing for properties with multiple offers and they either offered full asking price or above.
  • Active sellers are key to a healthy market. We are seeing sellers getting their properties on the market as they are more confident with pricing than the last couple of months and they’re more comfortable as buyers and agents are taking health precautions when showing a property for sale.
  • Another driver for a stronger third quarter is Millennials with families want to settle in new homes before the school year begins. Don’t expect an increase in sales to last into the fourth quarter though.
  • The low mortgage rates, without a doubt, is helping to entice buyers back into the market.

While all these are signs of a market kicking into more of a recovery mode, there are still some challenges we’re still to overcome:

  • Sellers haven’t come back as quickly to the market as buyers.
  • Even if buyers can find a home, they may not be able to secure a loan. Mortgage rates are historic lows. But today’s reality is lenders are increasingly getting tougher on qualifying criteria.

Tysons Market Update

Here are some numbers for April and May’s real estate transactions within 5 miles from Tysons:

April

  • 235 Properties sold
  • 192 Properties went under contract
  • 26 Average days on the market

May

  • 219 Properties sold
  • 272 Properties went under contract (considering they close within 30 days, we should expect higher numbers in June)
  • 21 Average days on the market

Fairfax County in May

In the chart below you can see our current inventory is about half of what it was in June 2019. However, the number of properties under contract is pretty close which means buyers are very active in this market.

Final Thoughts

We’ve seen a quick bounce back due to record-low mortgage rates and virtual home shopping options and I’m positive that our market will remain strong throughout this year. I will keep you posted!

If you’d like more information, or would like a question answered in my column, please reach out to [email protected]. I hope to hear from you soon.

Val Sotillo is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington D.C., and Maryland with Real Living At Home, 4040 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite #10C Arlington, VA 22203, 703-390-9460.

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Val Sotillo, Northern Virginia-based Realtor and Falls Church resident. Please submit your questions to her via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: Can you explain mortgage forbearance? Is it a good idea to get it and will it negatively affect my credit in the future?

Answer:  Many homeowners who are dealing with a financial hardship during this pandemic are considering mortgage forbearance or asking for clarification about the process. We don’t have all of the answers yet, but enough information is available to help people make more educated decisions about forbearance.

I asked one of the top mortgage lenders in the D.C. area, Jake Ryon of First Home Mortgage, to join as a guest columnist and provide a rundown of how mortgage forbearance works, and what are some of the unintended consequences.

Take it away Jake!

What is Mortgage Forbearance?

Congress passed the CARES Act, allowing those facing financial hardship due to COVID-19 to request a mortgage forbearance (pause in mortgage payments) for 180 days, with the option to extend for an additional 180 days.

The bill does not require you to provide proof that you’re suffering a hardship, but the CFPB makes it clear that if you can pay your mortgage, you should. However, not everyone is following that guidance and some borrowers who are able to pay are choosing not to and may suffer unintended consequences.

Mortgage forbearance is a temporary pause in payment; it is NOT forgiveness. All missed payments by the borrower must be paid back.

Repayment

Unfortunately, the repayment terms for a forbearance are vague. Statements from Fannie and Freddie indicate that you do not have to repay the missed payments all at once, but that it is for the borrower to work out with the servicer. If the payments are not paid back in a lump sum or over a designated period, but instead added to the end of the loan, the borrower is agreeing to a loan modification.

During a forbearance the servicer (the company you pay) is still advancing the monthly mortgage payments to the end investor. This has led to major issues for lenders, and as a response, tightened credit standards and made it more difficult to obtain a mortgage.

Unintended Consequences

While taking a forbearance is not supposed to negatively affect your credit, there are some unintended consequences I’d like to explain.

*Please note this is based on the most up to date information I could find and is subject to change as this is a fluid situation. Please reach out to your loan servicer directly for your options.*

Refinancing: This may vary by lender, but as I understand it, to be eligible to refinance, borrowers must be out of forbearance and current on their mortgage. This is a big concern if rates continue to fall throughout the year.

Repayment Terms: As mentioned earlier, there are options to repay the missed payments via a lump sum, over a repayment period, or modifying the term of the loan. Keep in mind the servicer must agree to the repayment plan.

I’m hearing that modifications are only being offered if there is documentation to show you’ve been adversely affected by COVID-19. This is going to be problematic for borrowers who didn’t lose their job and assumed their skipped payments would be tacked onto the end of their mortgage or forgiven.

Buying Your Next Home: Since this is so new, we haven’t seen any credit reports reflecting modifications as a result of COVID-19. It’s unclear how lenders and investors will treat these modifications when evaluating new loans.

For example, most investors want to see borrowers pay their mortgage on time for a minimum of 12 months after their modification begins. If someone takes the full 12 months of forbearance, they could be looking at a minimum waiting period of 2 years before obtaining a new loan.

Residual Effects to Your Credit: While the CARES Act says mortgage lenders won’t report you as delinquent during a forbearance, they can’t control how other lenders will view it. For example, if you’re a credit card company and you see a borrower is in forbearance, are you inclined to increase their credit limit or issue a new card? If your credit card debt is increasing and your available line of credit is staying the same or decreasing, it will most likely lower your score.

Weekly Tysons Market Snapshot

Thank you very much for all this helpful information Jake!

If you’d like to talk with Jake about a loan, refinance, or any other mortgage related question you can contact him at [email protected].

Here’s a quick look at how the market performed over the past week within 5 miles from Tysons. I will provide a Market Report for the month of May in my next column. Through these tough times, our market has remained busy and hopefully things will only get better moving forward.

Past Seven Days in Tysons

If you’d like more information, or would like a question answered in my column, please reach out to [email protected]. I hope to hear from you soon.

Val Sotillo is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington D.C., and Maryland with Real Living At Home, 4040 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite #10C Arlington, VA 22203, 703-390-9460.

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Val Sotillo, Northern Virginia-based Realtor and Falls Church resident. Please submit your questions to her via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: Is there any new development in Fairfax?

Answer: I hope this column finds you and yours well, healthy, and you’re managing to stay productive.

Yes! West Oaks Corner is conveniently located by West Ox Road and I-66, at 4489 Lateleaf Trail, Fairfax Virginia 22030. Built by Winchester Homes, it’s a community with 188 luxury townhomes. They opened their sales office last July and they have already sold over 80 units.

They just released two properties in their model row available for immediate delivery (they look amazing!), and they have a few homes ready to be customized and depending on the model they can be delivered anytime between October and December this year. The expected completion date is 2021. I visited their model homes and it looks like construction is moving quickly.

The Homes

The community looks beautiful and it was thoughtfully designed. The homes have a traditional brick front-architectural style and all of them offer different outdoor space options. They have many green areas and their amenities are nature focused: 2 tot lots, a community lawn, a picnic area with grilling, a community pavilion, meditation park and a Bocce court.

There are 4 different models, each with unique features:

The Jackson: It’s about 2,311 sq. ft. Three levels and a terrace off the kitchen level.

The Wesley: I loved this one! Approx. 2,701 sq. ft. Four levels and a loft (that can be built as a 4th bedroom with a full bath), and a spacious rooftop terrace in addition to the kitchen level terrace.

The Burke: About 3,061 sq. ft. Three levels with a backyard in addition to the kitchen level terrace.

The Sully: Approx. 2,979 sq. ft. End home, 3 levels and the model has a dreamy terrace with a zen space ideal for practicing yoga or meditation. There’s also a backyard and some are fenced.

You can see all floorplans, photo gallery and videos here.

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Val Sotillo, Northern Virginia-based Realtor and Falls Church resident. Please submit your questions to her via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: What are some good home improvement projects I can do during this time of quarantine?

Answer: I hope this column finds you and your family healthy. This is week 5 and we’re all wondering how to use all this time at home. Putting away winter clothes? Done. Watching YouTube tutorials on how to disinfect groceries? Done. The only reason I’ve stopped making banana bread is that I ran out of flour and it’s sold out in most grocery stores.

You can use this time you’re spending at home to make it better. I’ve collected some examples of wholesome small projects to tackle while you’re hunkered down so your make your home more enjoyable.

Exterior

  • Paint your exterior window shutters: Remove old shutters from windows and wipe them down with all-purpose cleaner. Spray paint is easier to use. In a well-ventilated area, hold the can 6-8 inches from the shutter surface and paint the sides and ends of the shutter using a sweeping side-to-side motion with slight overlap. Allow the shutters to dry overnight before reinstalling.
  • Replace damaged window screens: This weather is perfect for open windows and fresh air. Just make sure bugs don’t get in.
  • Paint your front door: Fast and easy way to increase your curb appeal.
  • Check for peeling wood trims: An easy fix for peeling outdoor paint without sanding and scraping is using a thick primer that locks down and hides peeling.

Rearrange your furniture and give a new look to what you already have.

It’s easy to get bored of the same old furniture setup, but what if you move the couch to a different wall, or mix things up by swapping rugs from one room to another? Even switching a lamp from a side table to another spot in your house could brighten up a space in new ways.

Time to Clean

Beyond disinfecting all of your high-touch surfaces, it’s also time to clean your vents and baseboards. Cleaning heating and vent covers can help reduce allergens in your home and increase the efficiency of your air conditioning or heating unit.

Vacuum the vents with a dusting brush attachment or wipe with a dry microfiber cloth. And while you’re at it, change the air filter on your furnace. Unplug lamps and clean the lampshades with a dry microfiber cloth or vacuum cleaner attachment. For other types of lamps, clean the bulbs and use a cloth to dust off the hardware.

Clean curtains can make a room feel much brighter. If you can machine-wash your curtains, use the gentle cycle, cool water and hang them to dry. Get a tub and tile refinishing kit to get your tile and grout looking just as good as new.

Paint

There’s no more affordable way to freshen up a room than with a new coat of paint. If you’re done painting for the day but you still have more to do, a tip to keep your brushes fresh is to simply brush off the excess paint, then tightly wrap them in cling film and place them in the fridge overnight.

You can give your kitchen and bathrooms a new look by painting the cabinets and replacing the faucet and hardware. Love your current hardware but wish it were a different color or finish? Don’t be afraid to give them a little makeover with a can of spray paint.

Make Your House Smart

Try new self-programmable thermostats or camera doorbells. Most of them are easy to install. There are many options for smart home features that seamlessly integrate into your existing wiring and systems and upgrade your home’s energy efficiency.

Pay close attention to your appliances, heating, plumbing, electric and exteriors. Seal gaps and cracks in windows, inspect roof gutters after storms, clean outdoor furniture and power wash exterior decking and tiles.

Now that you’re spending much more time at home, pay attention to the areas that need some work and you can even get the whole family involved and accomplish a project together.

And don’t forget about your pets…

There are seemingly endless resources available to help do-it-yourselfers, such as books with step-by-step instructions and online videos. The general rule is to undertake projects you feel comfortable with and have the skill set to complete with good results. Otherwise hire a professional (I always recommend it for plumbing, heating and electrical work).

Quick Market Update

Within 5 miles from Tysons, here’s what happened in the past 14 days:

  • 157 properties were listed
  • 110 properties were sold
  • 104 properties went under contract

I hope you are staying safe, sheltered in place, stocked with toilet paper, and staying proactive during these unprecedented times!

If you’d like more information, or would like a question answered in my column, please reach out to [email protected]. I hope to hear from you soon.

Val Sotillo is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington D.C., and Maryland with Real Living At Home, 4040 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite #10C Arlington, VA 22203, 703-390-9460.

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Val Sotillo, Northern Virginia-based Realtor and Falls Church resident. Please submit your questions to her via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: What has been the impact of the coronavirus on the real estate market in the past weeks?

Answer: First of all, I hope you and your families are healthy and safe. I want to give a special thank you to all the frontline coronavirus workers; from nurses, doctors, hospital personnel, law enforcement, grocery store and pharmacy workers, cleaners, US postal service, to all of those who produce and deliver food, goods and services necessary for our healthy existence!

I’ve seen lots of carryout and delivery activity at local restaurants, and I hope we can keep our favorite establishments in business. Here’s an awesome interactive map that the DMV Foodie Crew put together for restaurants offering delivery and carry-out in Northern Virginia during the Temporary Stay at Home Order.

Okay. Now back to real estate!

What the Stay At Home Order — Executive Order 55 Means for Real Estate Practices

The Northern Virginia Association of Realtors (NVAR) and the Virginia Association of Realtors (VAR) announced that Realtors may continue to operate real estate businesses, but must do so in accordance with Executive Order 55 released on March 30.

This means that real estate operations such as showings, inspections, appraisals, lending, closings and any activities crucial to a real estate transaction are allowed in Northern Virginia.

Due to social distancing, Open Houses have the potential to violate the 10-person guideline and could pose an unnecessary risk to the public. Therefore virtual Open Houses and virtual showings are highly encouraged.

Personally, most buyers I’ve been working with are happy to virtually tour properties while in the safety of their homes. Other buyers who need to find a home immediately and need to see the property in person before making an offer, can still see the properties while taking safe social distancing measures. I always have extra masks, gloves, disinfecting wipes and shoe covers for my clients. As much as I understand a buyer’s need to see a property in person before making an offer, I’m advising clients who are not purchasing for another few months to stay home.

Tysons Market Update

It seems that most of the Virginia market in general has softened in the past weeks. In the graphic below you can see the significant drop in property showings. However, the showings that are taking place tend to be to ready-buyers so it should take fewer showings than it used to for the right buyer to surface.

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Val Sotillo, Northern Virginia-based Realtor and Falls Church resident. Please submit your questions to her via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: How has COVID-19 affected our real estate market so far?

Answer: I hope this column finds all of you healthy and safe. Many people who had planned to or needed to buy or sell their home this year are struggling with that decision during the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. While I would like to give a straightforward answer, no one knows what is going to happen next because we’ve never been here before. All I can do is offer my perspective on what is happening right now.

What Is Happening In Our Market

As of today, real estate is included as an essential business, so realtors can continue to practice and assist in transactions. However, this is not “business as usual,” including the requirements that social distancing and preventive measures are essentially mandated.

Other service providers like lenders and title companies, are continuing their business operations. Many banks are going to remote and drive-through only operations. Title companies are likely taking precautionary measures as well and they might attempt to employ alternate procedures using mail, electronic means and/or a combination of these to meet their legal requirements.

Combining the reactions of my clients and clients of other local agents I’ve spoken with over the last few days, it seems that most buyers are staying the course with their purchase. This is a period of uncertainty, so financial situations are changing by the minute. While some might elect to sit it out, others will be looking for opportunities to take advantage of low interest rates.

I’ve been closely monitoring the Tysons market, and the number of new listings in the past weeks has not yet changed that much. Within 5 miles from Tysons, there were 113 new listings in the first week of March, 127 on the second week, and 100 new listings on the week of March 16 to the 22.

However, the graphic below provided by ShowingTime indicates the number of showings in Virginia has significantly dropped in the past week.

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Val Sotillo, Northern Virginia-based Realtor and Falls Church resident. Please submit your questions to her via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: Do you have an update on The Boro? How is it as a neighborhood and what housing options are available?

Answer: The Boro is the largest mixed use project in the heart of Tysons with many dining and entertaining options. I spent some time there this past weekend enjoying the spring like weather and checking the new businesses that have already opened. It’s really coming along at a fast pace and there’s a lot coming soon (this year for sure).

With the construction of the Boro, Tysons will be transformed into a walkable, sustainable, urban center that will be home to up to 100,000 residents and 200,000 jobs. Tysons is envisioned to become a 24-hour urban center where people live, work and play; where people are engaged with their surroundings; and, where people want to be.

Here are the top reasons that make The Boro an awesome neighborhood:

1. Location

D.C. is a 30 minute drive away; Fairfax, Arlington and Dulles Airport are roughly 20 minutes each. There are 3 Metro stations nearby (Tysons Corner, Greensboro, and Spring Hill) with the Orange and the new and expanding Silver line. Tysons is located off of 495, just a few minutes away from I-66, Route 7 and Dulles Toll Road. 

2. Things To Do

With the construction of The Boro, Tysons will become a more walkable neighborhood. Their signature park, Boro Park, will be over an acre of green space and will host different events, such as outdoor concerts, movies on the green, markets and festivals. Surrounded by retail, office, restaurants and a movie theater, the park is activated day and night.

Some of the businesses that are now open at the Boro are Flower Child (healthy food offering amazing bowls!), Fish Taco, North Italia (great pizza and wine selection), Icon Theatre, F45 Functional Training, Ethan Allen furniture, My Eye Dr and my favorite, Whole Foods.

The Whole Foods has a trendy food court that includes Rappahanock Oyster Bar, Sushi, Donuts, Officina (Italian Food) and the High Point Club. It also has self-serve wine and draft beer so you can sip and shop. Also, they have an outdoor sports bar with great views. Here’s a link to all their eateries.

A few businesses opening soon are: Bluestone Lane Coffee, Caliburger, El Bebe Tacos, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, Poki DC, Boro Cleaners and Colour Bar.

There are many dog park options, and if you’re outdoorsy you are just minutes away from Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts, Great Falls Park for hiking and amazing views and a 45 minute drive to the mountains.

They also host outdoor events open to the general public.

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Ask Val: Back Up Offers

This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Val Sotillo, Northern Virginia-based Realtor and Falls Church resident. Please submit your questions to her via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: We’re on the market to buy a home and the house we love is under contract with another buyer. Does it make sense to submit a backup offer if the seller is taking them? Can we get out of it if we find another home that we love?

Answer: It happens so often in this market. You finally find your dream home, only to learn that the seller has accepted another offer. While many home buyers would feel disappointed and give up on such dream home, a backup offer is another strategy you can use to get the house you love.

How Does a Backup Offer Work?

A backup offer is an offer made on a home that already has an active contract, to be acted upon if the first contract falls through. It allows the interested buyer to make a financial agreement with the seller that becomes the official buying contract if something happens to impact the existing contract. A backup offer stops the seller from entertaining offers from other buyers or putting the home back on the market.

A backup offers may seem like a long shot, but can be a buyer’s ticket to their dream home given that contracts sometimes fall through.

A Backup Offer Is Good When

  • You have your heart set on a particular home, a backup offer can help you get a foot in the door before the sellers relist.
  • You have time to wait and you may be able to sweep in on the home at the last minute. If you’re currently renting, and you have a few months before your lease expire, you can go month-to-month, or you have alternate housing options while you wait for the right home.

Here Are a Few Potential Reasons Why Contracts Can Fall Through

  • Home Inspection — (most common) if issues are uncovered a buyer may decide to walk away or ask for too many repairs or concessions that are not agreed to by the seller
  • Contract is contingent on the buyer selling their home before closing
  • Appraisals — If there’s an appraisal contingency in place, and the appraisal report does not support the contract price
  • Financing — Buyer is no longer qualified to obtain financing for the purchase
  • Condo/Home Owner Association (HOA) documents — The buyer has three days to cancel the contract upon receipt of the condo’s disclosure documents
  • Buyer changed its mind. It happens…

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