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December 29, 2016

How to Hold an Open House

If you list your home for sale with a real estate agent, the listing agent should schedule (and host) the open houses for you, but if you list your home For Sale By Owner (or “FSBO”) the responsibility for planning—and hosting—open houses falls on you. Since most homeowners don’t have much experience holding open houses, here are some tips for getting the most from your FSBO open house:

  • Hold Your Open House On A Weekend. Plan in advance, and hold your open house on Saturday or Sunday – the days when buyers are most likely to be looking. Also, find out when local real estate agents normally hold their open houses, and schedule yours for that day of the week whenever possible.
  • Advertise (And Put Up Signs). People can’t visit your open house if they don’t know it’s happening. Advertise the open house online, on social media, and in the local newspaper’s “open house” or real estate section. Don’t forget to put up signs in front of the house and in your neighborhood (if allowed) on the day of the open house as well.
  • Prepare The Property—Inside & Out. Before the day of the open house, make sure the house is sparkling clean, clear away clutter, and make sure the yard has curb appeal. Houses make a better impression, and usually sell much faster, when freshly cleaned and staged.
  • Treat Your Visitors Like Welcome Guests. During the open house, greet guests at the door, offer a brochure or flyer with details about the home, and make sure they feel welcome. Offer to answer questions, and be willing to show potential buyers through the house, but don’t hover—many buyers prefer to walk through a house on their own, without the pressure of a seller looking over their shoulders.
  • Dress And Act Professionally.Homeowners who look and act professional during an open house tend to inspire more confidence in potential buyers, which may increase the likelihood of those buyers making an offer on your home. You wouldn’t want a real estate agent showing up to host your open house in worn-out jeans—and you should expect no less from yourself!
  • Follow Common-Sense Safety Rules. It’s normally a good idea to have at least two people present during open houses, for safety reasons. Put valuables in safes (or remove them from the home), and call police if someone or something threatens your safety (or that of your home).

Even if you follow these tips, your house may take some time to sell—especially if there are lots of properties on the market in your area. However, with proper planning and preparation, a successful open house can dramatically increase your chances of finding the perfect buyer for your home.

December 19, 2016

4 Signs It’s Time To Replace Your Front Door

Whether you want to sell your home or simply improve your home for your own enjoyment and personal comfort, timely replacement of old front doors can give your home a physical and economic boost. Although most homeowners realize an old front door detracts from a house’s appearance, worn or ill-fitting entry doors can also let heat escape and let in drafts, increasing energy costs. Here are some tips to help you decide if it’s time to replace the front door of your home:

  • Trouble Opening, Closing, and Locking (or Latching). Over time, doors and doorframes can become warped or worn, and hinges may start to sink or bend. Cracks and fractures can also develop in wood or fiberglass doors. Once this happens, the door may stick, have trouble opening or closing, or even refuse to latch.
  • Signs of Water or Insect Damage.Once weather or pests cause visible damage to a door, it’s time for replacement. Termites and other pests can damage the structural integrity of exterior doors, and water can cause wood to swell and crack. Don’t waste time trying to repair a visibly damaged door; install a new one for maximum energy savings and security.
  • Tarnished or Broken Locks, Knobs, or Hinges. It’s sometimes possible to clean or replace the broken or tarnished hardware without installing a whole new door, but sagging hinges and ill-fitting locks may also impact the structural integrity of the door itself. In those situations, it’s time for a door replacement.
  • Dents, Scratches, and Serious Cosmetic Flaws. Replacing the entry door is one of the simplest ways to give your house a facelift, improving its curb appeal and charm. New, clean entrances make houses look more modern and inviting, and can make a significant difference in the way that you – and prospective buyers – feel about your home.

Whether you’re planning to sell your home or simply increase your own enjoyment (and possibly reduce your energy bills), take a look at the entry door for these and other signs of potential problems. If your door is damaged, hard to open, or outdated compared with the rest of your home, you may want to consider replacement, especially before you list the house for sale.

If you want to sell, but don’t want to bother replacing doors, windows, and other old or broken systems in your home, consider selling your house to an investor like 4 Brothers Buy Houses. We purchase homes “as-is,” for cash, and never request repairs before closing. Click here to get a fast, no-obligation quote today.

December 14, 2016

October 2016 Housing Sales and Market Update For Washington, D.C. & Surrounding Area


*Market information courtesy of

October 2016 Housing Sales and Market Update For Washington, D.C. & Surrounding Area

In October 2016,Median Housing Prices Remained Close to Last Month’s Figures, With Increased Sales Volume, But Fewer New Listings.

In October 2016,the median home sale price in the Washington D.C. area was $400,000 – only $1,000 difference from the September, 2016 average.Sales volume increased by 4.5% over October 2015’s numbers. The year-to-date median sales prices of homes in the Washington D.C. area is up by 0.6% overall, with the greatest year-to-date increasesseen in Prince George’s County and Falls Church City.

Falls Church Citycontinues to hold the title of “region’s most expensive location” (by average prices), with October median sales prices of $702,500 (5.6% higher than last year’s prices); Prince George’s County remains the most affordable, with October median sales pricesof $267,137.

New Listingsand On-Market Inventory Declined in October 2016.

According to figures published by

On-sale housing inventory at the end of October 2016 was 18% lower than this time last year, and 6.4% lower than September 2016’s figures. These decreases apply to all housing types, with single-family detached homes, condominiums, and townhomes all showing decreases in on-market inventory.

New sales listings also decreased in October, with only 5,398 new properties coming on the market last month – a 12% decrease from September’s new listing numbers (and 20% fewer new listings than came on the market in October 2015). As with inventory, the decreases were seen in all available property types.

October Saw a Decrease in Average “Days on Market” For Listed Properties.

The median days-on-market for listed properties in Washington D.C. and the surrounding counties in October 2016 was 23 days –just one day less than September’s figure, but four days lower than the average DOM in October 2015. Reductions in DOM are not uncommon when inventory decreases; with fewer houses to choose from, the available properties often sell faster due to increased scarcity.

FairfaxCity was the slowest regional market in October (median days-on-market: 36), and Washington D.C. remained the fastest-moving area for a second month in a row, with amedian DOM of 12.

Sales numbers vary from county to county, and even among neighborhoods. The speed and success of a housing sale is dependent on many factors, from listing price to home condition and comparable listings in the area. Your personal experience may vary, but knowing the average numbers is still helpful when making plans to sell your home, either through a realtor or to an investor.

December 5, 2016

Three Easy Steps to Prevent Ice Buildup From Damaging Your Roof


The holidays are approaching fast, and winter storms aren’t far behind. Snow, ice, and freezing rain are winter travel hazards, but they also create dangers for your home.

Ice dams” are dangerous lumps of ice that often build up along the lower edges of roofs—where the roof meets the gutter—during the winter. Dams are formed when melting snow flows down the roof and resolidifies as ice along the edge of the roofline. This occurs when warm air rises up through the roof from the attic, melting the underside of the snow that accumulates on the house. The melted snow trickles down the slope of the roof and refreezes along the eaves, which are naturally colder than the portion of the roof above the attic.

Over time, ice builds up along the eaves, blocking gutters and downspouts and often also forcing newly melted snow back up beneath the roof, causing leaks and other damage to your home.

Although ice dams are dangerous, you can prevent ice dams from forming and damaging your home. Here are some simple tips to spot, prevent, and keep your home safe from ice dams during the winter months:

  • Don’t Let Snow Build Up On Roofs. Use a broom or snow rake to remove new snow from your roof as soon as it’s safely possible after snowfalls (or hire a professional snow removal service). Ice dams form more easily on roofs with flatter slops, so if your roof is not steep, you must be extra vigilant when it comes to removing extra snow and ice.
  • Seal And Insulate Roofs Properly. Ice dams result from warm air leaking upward through the roof. You can prevent this (and lower your heating bill into the bargain) by installing adequate insulation, venting roofs properly, and ensuring roofs are properly sealed to prevent warm air from leaking into the attic from the living space below.
  • Install Metal Roofing, Drip Edges, or Waterproof Membranes. Replacing old shingle or tile roofs with metal roofing or metal drip edges near the eaves can help prevent ice dams from forming and pushing water back up beneath the roof. Waterproof membranes beneath your roofing can also help prevent damage from ice dams, melting snow, and other water-related leaks. However, be aware: not even metal roofing can stop ice dams from occurring in every case, especially on roofs with flatter slopes.

No matter how well a roof is vented and insulated, smart homeowners inspect the roofline regularly during the winter months, removing extra snow and ice and paying attention to icicles that block or overhang eaves and gutters. A little time taking care of your roof will help ensure that your roof takes care of your family (and your belongings) too.

November 28, 2016

5 Easy Ways to Lower Your Heating Bill This Winter


For most homeowners, a drop in outdoor temperatures means an increase in the heating bill. As chilly weather returns to the east, it’s time to start thinking smart about heating costs and winter energy conservation.

Here are five top tips to lower your heating bill this winter season:

  • Install a Programmable Thermostat. Programmable thermostats can save hundreds of dollars on your annual heating bill, and replacing a manual thermostat with an electronic, programmable unit is simple and inexpensive. Many homeowners can handle the installation without professional help (and home improvement stores will often help you, inexpensively, if you’re not confident in your DIY abilities).
  • Close Curtains or Shutters at Night, and Open Them In Daylight Hours. Window coverings like curtains or shutters provide insulation and help prevent nighttime heat loss through your windows. During daylight hours, open your curtains and shutters so sunlight can enter, warming the interior of the house.
  • Turn the Water Heater Down to 120 Degrees. Reducing the setting on your water heater to 120 degrees can save up to ten percent on your home’s annual water heating costs. Most people can’t even tell the difference between water heated to 120 degrees and 140 (the maximum temperature on most water heaters) – but you can see the difference on your monthly electric bill.
  • Replace Worn Weather Stripping Around Doors and Windows. Warm air leaks out any available opening, including the spaces around the edges of your doors and windows. Replacing old, worn, or damaged weather stripping can have a measureable effect on your heating bill, and reduces drafts through doors and windows too.
  • Clean and Unblock Vents and Ventilation Ducts. Blocked vents and air ducts can reduce air circulation and prevent much-needed heat from reaching your home. Before winter sets in, inspect all visible vents and move furniture and rugs away from openings, ensuring the free flow of air. (Be sure to check floor vents behind the furniture, too.) Arrange for professional cleaning of the air ducts, too. Clean ducts can lower your heating costs and improve air quality in your home.

In addition to these tips, smart homeowners should keep a sharp eye on doors, roofs, and windows, watching for places where heat can escape and blocking or repairing leaks as soon as possible. Consider new insulation in your roof or attic if the existing insulation is old or damaged. By paying a little extra attention to these helpful tips, you may save hundreds of dollars on your winter heating bill.


November 22, 2016

Recognizing Warning Signs of Damage to Your Basement


Many homeowners think about the basement rarely, if at all. Most basements are used for storage, and rarely accessed, but damage to the basement (or foundation) can cause serious damage to your home. Homeowners should inspect basement areas regularly, and be on guard for any of these warning signs of trouble in the underground areas of a home:

  • Cracks in Walls or Basement Foundations. Cracks in basement walls and foundations may appear slowly, over time. Hairline cracks may indicate normal settling or shrinkage. Larger cracks, especially those exceeding a quarter inch in diameter or accompanied by noticeable shifting or displacement of the wall, are signs of potentially serious problems. If you notice significant cracks or settling in your basement, contact a professional for an evaluation right away.
  • Basements flood for many reasons, some more serious than others. However, flooding may lead to additional problems, like mold or bacteria growth, unpleasant smells, and even foundation problems. Flooding may also be a sign of other issues with a home, like faulty pipes, poor grading, or cracked foundations. Serious or regular flooding merits a professional inspection (and repairs).
  • Musty or Unpleasant Odors.Basements often develop a musty smell from lack of ventilation. Many musty odors can be fixed with proper cleaning or the addition of dehumidifiers and other moisture removal aids. However, smells that don’t go away after cleaning, or that carry the scent of sewage, often indicate serious problems like mold or sewer leaks.
  • Mold Growth. Mold thrives in damp, unventilated environments, and basements often offer exactly the conditions mold requires to thrive. Inspect your basement regularly, and arrange for immediate removal of any growth. Mold spreads by releasing spores into the air, and spores from the basement can easily infiltrate other parts of the house through your heating and ventilation system. Don’t risk your family’s health – inspect the basement for mold on a regular basis.
  • Sinking Floors.Sinking or settling in the basement floor is a potentially serious sign of problems with the home’s foundation or the earth beneath the house. Settling, either across the entire basement floor or in localized areas, can be a sign of soil erosion beneath the home, a damaged foundation, or issues with the house’s footing pads—all of which, if left untreated, will result in extensive damage and costly repairs.

If you notice any of these signs of trouble in the basement area, contact a professional contractor, mold remediation team, or other experienced home repair specialist for assistance. Solving the problem may cost a little time and money now, but could save thousands of dollars down the line.

If you’re considering selling your home, but don’t want to invest in repairing a problem basement or foundation, consider selling directly to 4 Brothers Buy Houses instead. We never ask the seller to make repairs, and purchase homes in any condition. Click here for a free, fast, no-obligation quote and offer today!

November 13, 2016

September 2016 Housing Sales and Market Update For Washington, D.C. & Surrounding Area


*Market information courtesy of

4 Brothers Buy Houses is proud to share this update on current Washington D.C. area housing sales and market conditions.*

September Median Housing Sales Remained Close to September 2015 Figures, With Slight Price Decreases Since Last Month.

In September 2016,median home sale pricesin the Washington D.C. region were$399,000 – slightly below last September’s $400,000 figure, but sales volume increased more than $2 billion dollars, a slight increase over last September’s figures. The median sales price in September was almost $21,000 lower, on average, than August 2016’s median price. The price of single family homes decreased by 2.8% in September, but condominiums showed a 1.5% average price increase.

On average, Falls Church City remainsthe most expensive place to buy, with a September median sales price of $595,000 (though, notably, that price is 26.5% lower than last year’s prices); and Prince George’s County is still the most affordable, with September median sales pricesof $260,000.

New Listings and Inventories in the D.C. Region Increased Slightly in September 2016, but Remain Lower than September 2015’s Numbers.

According to figures published by

On-sale housing inventory was up almost 8% in September, compared with August figures, but the total number of properties on the market was more than 14% lower than inventory available for sale in September 2015.

New sales listings increased in September, with 6,779 new properties on the market – more than a 23% increaseover August’s new listing numbers. Single-family houses saw a slight decline in new listings (off 1.3% from August) and new townhouse listings also declined, but almost 3% more condominiums went on the market in September than in August.

Average “Days on Market” Increased Slightly in September 2016.

The median days-on-market for listed properties in Washington D.C. and the surrounding counties in September 2016 was 24 days –two dayshigher than August 2016, but three days lower than the average DOM in September of 2015.

Falls Church City was the slowest regional market in September (median days-on-market: 33), and Washington D.C. became the fastest-moving area, with amedian DOM of 16.

Sales numbers vary from county to county, and even among neighborhoods. The speed and success of a housing sale is dependent on many factors, from listing price to home condition and comparable listings in the area. Your personal experience may vary, but knowing the average numbers is still helpful when making plans to sell your home, either through a realtor or to an investor.

October 29, 2016

How Do You Sell A House to an Investor?


Many homeowners have at least a basic understanding of the way traditional home sales work: find a realtor, sign a listing contract, and hope for a buyer. However, many homeowners are surprised to learn how fast and simple it is to sell a house to an investor. Here’s an overview of the process:

Step 1: Contact an experienced real estate investor. If you’re reading this, and you have a house to sell in Northern Virginia or the Washington DC area, your work is done. (Click here to see a list of the communities where 4 Brothers Buy Houses buys homes.) If you live outside our areas, an Internet search can help you find an experienced investor in your area.

Step 2: Request a free, no-obligation quote. Investors gladly offer potential sellers a no-obligation quote, which contains the purchase price the investor is willing to pay for the house. When making quotes, 4 Brothers Buy Houses uses the same information real estate agents use when setting the sales price of the homes they list, which means you get the price your home is actually worth—not the hypothetical price a buyer might or might not be willing to pay.

Step 3: Accept the investor’s offer and sign a contract.If (and only if) you decide to accept the investors’ offer, the investor arranges for preparation and delivery of a home sale contract, deed, and any other required paperwork. Investors don’t ask you to make repairs, give credits against the purchase price, or gamble on approval of a loan.

Step 4: Sign the deed and other required documents. A deedis a document that transfers ownership of a home. To sell a house, the owner has to sign a variety of documents, including a contract of sale and a deed. When you sell to an investor, these documents are prepared for you—but you can hire a lawyer to represent you if you wish. In fact, 4 Brothers Buy Houses encourages sellers to hire a lawyer to review and explain the sales documents.

Step 5: Receive the purchase price . . . in cash! Like many investors, 4 Brothers Buy Houses pays cash for the homes we purchase. Sellers receive the purchase price at closing, which can occur in as little as ten days from the date the seller accepts the offer.No waiting on loan approvals, contingencies, or inspections.

That’s all there is to it! Selling to an investor is fast, simple, and secure—less costly than hiring a real estate agent and far less hassle than “For Sale By Owner.” If you have a house to sell, give 4 Brothers Buy Houses a call today, or click here to receive a quote online!

October 16, 2016

Signs It’s Time to Replace Your Roof


Old or defective roofs can cost a homeowner thousands of dollars in higher heating costs and property damage from leaks and other weather intrusions. Don’t ignore the warning signs. Check your roof’s condition regularly, and call a roofing specialist if you see indications that your roof needs repair or replacement, including:

  • Properly functioning roofs don’t leak. If you notice water leaks in your ceilings or around the tops of walls, call a roofing specialist immediately. Roof leaks can be difficult to locate without professional help, and regular or repeated leaks are an indicator that your roof has passed its useful age.
  • Cracked Tiles or Curling Shingles. Tile and shingle roofs are designed to lie flat, with overlapping areas that prevent water from penetrating into the sub-roof and the interior of the home. Significant cracking or curling of tiles and shingles weakens the roof and creates opportunities for leaking.
  • Moss Growth or Significant Discoloration.Moss and airborne algaes often grow on old or damaged roofs, especially in damp climates or where overhanging trees prevent sunlight from reaching the roof. Both moss and algaes can damage shingles and other roofing surfaces, and significant growth can indicate it’s time to replace the roof.
  • Missing Shingles, Tiles, or Roofing Granules.A roof should offer uniform protection against the elements. Older roofs begin to shed their shingles (often in pieces), and may lose their protective granular coatings. If you notice pieces of shingle, roofing granules, or tile chips in your gutters, or spot “bare” patches on the roof itself, call a professional immediately.
  • Noticeable Sagging. It doesn’t take an expert to realize that a sagging roof is a sign of trouble. Whether sagging takes the form of localized divots or depressions in the roof or a “general sag” that covers the entire home,if you notice the sagging, it’s likely time for replacement.

Modern roofs are far more durable than they were decades ago, but even now, roofs are designed to last between 20 and 30 years (though ceramic tile may last longer). If you roof is more than 20 years old, you may want to arrange an inspection even if you don’t see any of these warning signs. Early identification of roofing problems can save tens of thousands of dollars in property damage.

Old or damaged roofs can also cause problems for home sellers – buyers pay attention to roof conditions, especially in the colder months. If you want to sell your house, but don’t want to repair or replace a damaged roof, consider selling directly to 4 Brothers Buy Houses – we buy homes in any condition, and don’t request repairs before we close. Click here for a no-obligation estimate and quote today.

October 10, 2016

What Credit Score Do You Need to Buy a Home?

Credit score text on blackboard with 3d house front of blackboard on white background

Buying a home is exciting, whether you’re a first-time buyer or a seasoned homeowner looking to upsize, downgrade, or relocate. However, many would-be buyers struggle with the decision to purchase a home due to concerns about credit scores and how to qualify for a purchase money loan (sometimes called a mortgageloan).

People are often afraid to ask how high a credit rating they need to qualify for a home loan, even though it’s a common question. The answer varies, depending on the type of loan a buyer needs (and other personal factors, including employment status, income history, assets owned, and available funds to put toward a down payment), but here are some general guidelines you can use to determine whether your credit score qualifies you for the loan you need to buy a home:

  • Know Your Credit Score Before You Apply. Always know your credit score before applying for a loan. If you don’t know your credit score, obtain a copy on your own, or ask a licensed mortgage broker or banker for help.
  • Conventional Loans (Fannie Mae-Backed): 620 Minimum Credit Score. Although exceptions do exist, new conventional loans backed, insured, or underwritten by Fannie Mae (the U.S. Federal National Mortgage Association) typically require borrowers to have a credit score of 620 or higher; like other types of loans, exceptions may exist where borrowers have the funds to increase the down payment, qualify for special programs, or in other loan-specific circumstances.
  • FHA Loans: 580 Minimum Credit Score. FHA loans are available to buyers with a minimum credit score of 580 who can provide a down payment equal to at least 3.5% of the purchase price; however, applicants with lower credit scores may also qualify for FHA loans if they can provide a down payment of at least 10% of the purchase price.
  • Better Credit Scores May Help You Obtain Better Loan Terms. Generally speaking, the higher your credit rating, the better the interest rate and other terms a lender or bank will give you on a loan. While other factors also impact your eligibility and ability to qualify for a home purchase loan, buyers should strive to maintain as high a credit score as possible when planning to apply for a loan or purchase a home.

Personal and family income, investments and savings, and debt-to-income ratios also play a role in loan eligibility and amounts, as doa variety of other factors. Contact an experienced banker or mortgage loan expert for an individual evaluation of your personal situation and your ability to qualify for a loan.

Disclaimer: Your ability to qualify for a loan may vary, even with the credit scores listed above. While these guidelines are helpful, you should never rely on this or any other online article to make decisions about home loans or other financial situations. This article is not, and should not be taken as, financial advice, an offer to make a loan or a representation about whether any person can or will qualify for a loan or purchase money financing.