• "Betsy was wonderful to work with. Very professional." -Coleen M.
  • "Both Bette and Betsy were awesome to work with.  Their knowledge and expertise in the field of real estate went a long way.  We'll definitely work with them again." S. Goodman & J. Luckett
  • "We enjoyed the experience of two professional agents who worked together to accomplish our mission." -Katie and Clark O.
  • "Very efficient and professional.  They know what to do and I had a contract in 6 days!" -Penny S. 
  • "I have made 6 corporate moves and Betsy is hands down the best realtor I have worked with. She worked tirelessly to ensure I was paying a fair price and getting a quality property." Tricia B.
  • "First class.  Betsy worked with us for a long time, so we got to know her well.  Her knowledge and professionalism were outstanding."  Julia and Dan L.
  • "Service above and beyond my expectations-highly recommend. Customized level of service to the needs of their clients. Excellent communication and very professional." -Gwen A.
  • "Betsy's expertise in Old Town was invaluable.  It was very apparent why she and her mom have such a fantastic reputation."  -Tricia B.
  • "Very professional. Incredibly knowledgable. We had worked with many Realtors and none of them compared to Bette and Betsy. They are fabulous. I would recommend them to everyone." -Jessica J.
  • "Betsy rocks!" James B.
  • "Betsy worked very hard dealing with our very difficult buyer. The transaction would have fallen apart if not for her persistence." Carol H and David T.
  • "Bette and Betsy are great in every way." - Shelley Y.
  • "Bette and Betsy represent you not only in making a smart howeowner decision but also in the negotiating process-your agents really are on your side."  -Meleah and Mark B.
  • "They really know the business and what they are doing. They came highly recommended-they exceeded our expectations." -Barbara and Ted K.
  • "The transaction went incredibly smoothly and I knew where I stood throughout the process." -Wendy R.
  • "We were in the process of moving out of state and Bette and Betsy took care of everything for us regarding the closing. We didn't worry-they are so trustworthy." -Barbara and Ted K.
  • "Betsy certainly goes above and beyond. Wouldn't use anyone else."  -Julia and Dan L.
  • "Love the home warranty and help with subcontractors." -Sherwood T.
  • "Bette and Betsy were very professional and made themselves available to me at the hours that worked best for me and through whichever form of communication I chose." -Wendy R.
  • "I have bought and sold 6 other properties and working with Bette and Betsy was by far the best sale/buy. Personally they are delightful to work with." -Heather C.
  • "Bette and Betsy are easy to get in touch with and fast moving." -David M.
  • "Working with Bette and Betsy put me totally at ease because I was totally confident in them."  -Evan S.
  • "Betsy has a strong set of ethics and was excellent in providing her professional opinion at all the right moments. We love our home!" -Lauren G.
  • "This is a true team-both are strong realtors in their own right." -Lauren G.
  • "Bette and Betsy were both very personable and professional.  They were perceptive to my needs and wants and were also very knowledgable for a first time home buyer." Evan S.
  • "Awesome. No drama. Helpful every step of the way. Very professional and gave honest opinions." Elizabeth and Richard H.

Betsy Gorman
(703) 861-4825
betsy@gormangroup.net

Bette Gorman
(703) 585-2235
bette@gormangroup.net

Long & Foster
400 King Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
(703) 683-0400 - Phone
(703) 763-5750 - Fax

New First Time Homebuyer Financing in City of Alexandria

City of Alexandria Announces New Financing Opportunity for First Time Home Buyers

For Immediate Release: October 9, 2018

The City of Alexandria has announced the availability of Community Homeownership Revitalization Program (CHRP) funds to provide first-time homebuyers with permanent financing for home purchases. The City was recently awarded an allocation of $4 million through a competitive solicitation administered by the Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA).

The CHRP funding only applies to VHDA mortgages, but can be combined with City homeownership and down payment loan assistance to qualified, income-eligible first time homebuyers. CHRP funds reduce VHDA mortgage loans to 1% lower than VHDA’s published First-Time Homebuyer mortgage rate. CHRP financing is not a grant or a loan, and does not require repayment. However, CHRP allocations are only reserved for individual homebuyers after the buyer has a ratified sales contract.

To qualify for a City of Alexandria sponsored CHRP allocation, the prospective homebuyer must meet the following criteria:

  • Live or work in the City of Alexandria for six months prior to requesting CHRP funding;
  • Have an annual household income at or below 100% of Area Median Income (which ranged from $82,100 for a household of one to $126,600 for a household of five in 2018);
  • Be a first-time homebuyer, defined as someone having had no ownership interest in real property in the past three years (exceptions may be granted based on circumstances regarding a termination of prior ownership);
  • Receive a first trust VHDA mortgage from a City of Alexandria-designated “Participating Lender;” and
  • Purchase a home located within the City of Alexandria.

Homebuyers do not have to participate in the City’s Flexible Homeownership Assistance Program to use CHRP funding, but they may be eligible.

Lenders and homebuyers who are interested in using CHRP funding should visit alexandriava.gov/Housing.

Posted in Uncategorized

Personal property tax due October 5-replace your decals!

Personal property (car) tax is due at the City of Alexandria on October 5. Be sure to pay your tax on time AND don’t forget to replace your decal(s). Every resident will receive the City decal that goes on the windshield (note the new location for the decal in the lower left corner of the windshield). If you live in a part of the City that is part of a residential parking zone, be sure to remember to replace the sticker on your bumper.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

The Most Glorious Time of Year

 

tulips

Spring, the most glorious time of year! I love that the weather turns warmer, outside events populate our calendars, everyone’s mood lifts, the real estate market heats up and, it’s Spring Clean Up in the City of Alexandria! What’s Spring Clean Up you ask?  It is the day the City expands the refuse program and picks up unusable items, including items not usually permitted. Of course, it’s always best to donate or recycle as much as possible, but sometimes there are items that have to go to the landfill.  This is your opportunity to get rid of them without calling for a special bulk pick up or paying someone a disposal fee.

 

Even though the rules regarding permitted items are loosened on Spring Clean Up Day, the follow items remain impermissible:

Yard Waste
Concrete
Improperly prepared paints
Hazardous Materials
Unbundled brush or loose yard waste
Incorrectly prepared sharp items
Building materials (such as drywall, shingles and lumber)

You don’t have to be preparing your home for sale to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to clean out the basement or attic and rid yourself of extraneous items weighing you down.

Consult the schedule and map to determine when your neighborhood pick up will be. The City is divided into 4 quadrants and spring clean up happens on four sequential Saturdays, starting April 14 in Old Town and Del Ray.

Happy Spring Cleaning!

Posted in Uncategorized

How does the new tax law affect real estate?

The tax bill signed into law in December 2017 has some important provisions for taxpayers who own real estate (or who hope to purchase real estate) in 2018.  Below are some highlights of the new law.  As always, consult your tax advisor to see how the new law might affect your particular situation.

Exclusion of Gain on Sale of a Principal Residence

  • The law retains current law (single filers can exclude up to $250,000 of gain and married filers can exclude up to $500,000 of gain).
  • The Senate-passed bill would have changed the amount of time a homeowner must live in their home to qualify for the capital gains exclusion from 2 out of the past 5 years to 5 out of the past 8 years. The House bill would have made this same change as well as phased out the exclusion for taxpayers with incomes above $250,000 single/$500,000 married. 

Mortgage Interest Deduction

  • The law reduces the limit on deductible mortgage debt to $750,000 for new loans taken out after 12/14/17. Current loans of up to $1 million are grandfathered and are not subject to the new $750,000 cap. Neither limit is indexed for inflation.
  • Homeowners may refinance mortgage debts existing on 12/14/17 up to $1 million and still deduct the interest, so long as the new loan does not exceed the amount of the mortgage being refinanced.
  • The law repeals the deduction for interest paid on home equity debt through 12/31/25 (previously homeowners could deduct interest on home equity debt up to $100,000 with no restrictions on how the money used – like for college tuition). Interest is still deductible on home equity loans (or second mortgages) if the proceeds are used to substantially improve the residence.
  • Interest on mortgage debt remains deductible on second homes, but subject to the $1 million / $750,000 limits.
  • The House-passed bill would have capped the mortgage interest limit at $500,000 and eliminated the deduction for second homes.

Deduction for State and Local Taxes

  • The law allows an itemized deduction of up to $10,000 for the total of state and local property taxes and income and sales taxes. This $10,000 limit applies for both single and married filers and is not indexed for inflation.
  • When House and Senate bills were first introduced, the deduction for state and local taxes would have been completely eliminated. The House and Senate passed bills would have allowed property taxes to be deducted up to $10,000. The final bill, while less beneficial than current law, represents a significant improvement over the original proposals.

Moving Expenses

  • The law repeals the moving expense deduction and exclusion, except for members of the Armed Forces.
  • The House-introduced bill would have eliminated the moving expense deduction for all filers, including military.

Standard Deduction

  • The law provides a standard deduction of $12,000 for single taxpayers and $24,000 for joint returns. The new standard deduction is indexed for inflation.
  • By doubling the standard deduction, Congress has greatly reduced the value of the mortgage interest and property tax deductions as tax incentives for homeownership. Congressional estimates indicate that only 5-8% of filers will now be eligible to claim these deductions by itemizing, meaning there will be no tax differential between renting and owning for a majority of taxpayers.

Repeal of Personal Exemptions

  • Under the prior law, tax filers could deduct $4,150 in 2018 for the filer and his or her spouse, if any, and for each dependent. These exemptions have been repealed in the new law.
  • This change alone greatly mitigates (and in some cases entirely eliminates) the positive aspects of the higher standard deduction.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Considering VRBO or Airbnb in Alexandria?

The City of Alexandria released the following press release containing information regarding short terms rentals in Alexandria. If you are considering offering your property as a short term rental, the information below may be helpful to you.

 

On January 1, the City of Alexandria launched a mandatory online registry for short-term rental properties, which are commonly advertised on platforms such as Airbnb, craigslist, Expedia, FlipKey, HomeAway, TripAdvisor, and VRBO. Short-term residential rental, or “home sharing,” refers to the rental of houses, condos or apartments to guests staying for 30 days or less.

A 2017 state law authorized localities to create registries for this relatively new type of business. In November 2017, City Council approved the creation of an Alexandria registry.  Registration by short-term rental property owners is required by law, and there is a penalty for failing to register. The new online form is intended to make the registration process quick and convenient for rental property operators, and there is no fee to register. Visit the Short Term Residential Rental Registry page for more information, or to sign up.

This registry creates no new taxes, but the City reminds operators that they continue to be responsible for collecting and remitting any applicable taxes related to renting their homes.  Home sharing is generally subject to the same taxation as hotels and other similar businesses, such as the Transient Lodging Tax. Nationwide, many localities are working to ensure that all taxes are assessed and collected fairly. This involves identifying properties involved in home sharing and collecting taxes due.

Short-term rental properties continue to be subject to the following taxes:

  • Regional and local Transient Lodging Taxes of 8.5% plus $1 per room per night must be collected from the renter and remitted by the operator to the City of Alexandria’s Department of Finance.
  • State and local Sales Taxes totaling 6% must be collected from the renter and remitted by the operator to the Virginia Department of Taxation.
  • The operator must obtain a Business, Professional and Occupational License (BPOL) only if 1) their gross revenue is greater than $10,000 annually, and 2) they rent more than four separate dwelling units (each having cooking facilities).

Short-term rental properties do not require special zoning or permitting approvals for that purpose, but any normal zoning or permitting provisions (e.g., maximum occupancy, construction permits) would still apply.

For more information, contact the Finance Department’s Revenue Division at businesstax@alexandriava.gov or 703.746.3903.

Posted in Uncategorized

Winter is Here

frozen pipe

The recent cold snap in our region was a sudden and brutal reminder that winter has arrived.  You can and should prepare your house for cold temperatures to avoid higher than necessary heating costs and the potential headache of cleaning up and repairing after a burst pipe.  The spate of public warnings about water main breaks around the City and posts on neighborhood listservs from frantic neighbors illustrates no one is immune from freezing pipes. As we hunker down and prepare for a few more months of winter, here are some tips to help you and your house survive.

1.  Run ceiling fans in reverse.  Many fans have a “winter” option that changes the rotation of the blades to clockwise. This will force warm air down (run fans counterclockwise in the summer to create a cool breeze). This will help keep you warmer and should have a positive affect on your heating bills.

2. Insulate drafty windows and doors with weather-stripping, caulk, insulating film or plastic, and door stops (even rolled towels work to minimize drafts).

3.  Make sure your gutters and downspouts are clean so any melting snow can easily drain from the roof.

4.  Winterize hose spigots or any other outside faucets.  Remove the hose (if any), turn off water to the line from the inside, then open outside valve to drain the line. This will prevent any water in the line from freezing and possibly bursting the pipe when temperatures drop.

5.   Be especially mindful of interior pipes that are susceptible to freezing-for example water supply pipes in unheated spaces like basements, crawlspaces, attics, and garages. Kitchen sink piping that is on an exterior wall can also be vulnerable. Insulate vulnerable pipes to the best of your ability. Leave kitchen sink cabinet doors open to increase the circulation of warm air.

6.  If you are unable to insulate vulnerable pipes, leave the end fixture on those lines open on a slow drip. Pipes burst in cold weather for two reasons:  first, water expands when it freezes and, if it expands enough, it can burst a pipe. But, secondly and most common, when water freezes in a pipe it creates an ice blockages. The pressure between the ice blockage and the faucet can build to excess and burst the pipe. Letting a faucet drip during extreme cold weather can prevent a pipe from bursting by preventing freezing to occur in the first place and also, by providing relief from the excessive pressure that can build between the faucet and the ice blockage.

7. Leave the heat on even when away from the house. Do not let the interior temperature of your house drop below 55° F.

8. If you suspect a pipe is frozen (usually the telltale sign is when you turn on the faucet and no water or only a trickle of water comes out), keep the faucet open while you are home and can monitor it (never leave the house with an open faucet).  Running water through the pipe will help the ice melt.  If you can reach the part of the pipe where you suspect it has frozen, you can accelerate thawing by applying an electric heating pad, hair dryer, hot towel or other heating method.  Do not use an open flame.  If you cannot reach the frozen area and the pipe does not thaw on its own, call a licensed plumber.  If you have one frozen pipe, it’s prudent to check all of your fixtures to make sure they’re aren’t more.

Spring, come quickly! We’re patiently waiting.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Is Parking Included?

Let’s be honest, parking can be tight in certain neighborhoods in Alexandria. Finding a house with off street parking can feel like winning lottery at times.  However, sometimes things aren’t as they appear, especially in Old Town with its numerous public and private alleys, oddly shaped lots and historic encroachments that neighbors have lived with for decades.  A parking spot that looks like it conveys with a property may actually be outside of the property lines. If you are shopping for a house and off street parking is important to you (or, if the sellers of a house have represented off street parking is a feature of their home and are asking a commensurate price for that amenity), it’s advisable to have a professional house location survey done.  A survey will definitively show the property lines, including any easements or other encroachments that may affect the property value or improvements that can be done to the property (click here to read a  Washington Post article describing one buyers’ experience). Getting this information early in the process will help prevent potential issues from becoming big problems and ensure you are purchasing exactly what you are expecting.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

The Inaugural Blog Post

 

Welcome to the Amazing Alexandria Blog.  We hope to have a regular feature “What I Have Learned Wednesdays” and then a post or two throughout the week.   In the world of real estate, every day is different, so there is always something interesting to share.

One a-ha moment I had in law school was when the professor declared that every piece of real property is unique in the eyes of the law.  This made sense to me on a practical level.  Two townhomes that have identical floor plans and finishes and that are located next door to each other are not identical. There may be differences in the view, grade of the yard, location of utility wires/county easements, etc.  Builders recognize this by charging different prices for lots within a new subdivision and buyers recognize this when they visit several houses in a subdivision and find they have a strong preference for one over the others.  When a buyer decides to write an offer on property, it is a signal that the uniqueness of the property has touched them in a subconscious way.

As you go out to look for your perfect home (or look to sell your unique home), we hope this blog and website provides helpful information to you.

 

Posted in Uncategorized