More transportation dollars for NoVA to come with higher “Grantor’s Tax” on home sales

March 26, 2013 — Under legislation Gov. Bob McDonnell is set to sign into law, the Grantor’s Tax property sellers must pay will go up July 1, 2013 from 10 cents per $100 to 35 cents per $100.

The upshot: If you’re selling your home this spring as two of my clients  are, try to close before Tuesday, June 30 in order to pay at the the existing rate of 10 cents per $100. Keep in mind there could be a rush to close on that Monday and Tuesday so best to aim for that week beforehand.

This 250% increase — ouch! — does come with the projected benefit of more state transportation revenues funding road improvement projects in Northern Virginia, including Metrorail’s Silver Line extension to Dulles airport and Loudoun County.

For the sale of a $500,00o home, the Grantor’s Tax in a settlement in June is $500. After June, it will be $1,750.

VA general assembly logoThe Northern Virginia Association of Realtors (NVAR) “applauds” the efforts of Gov. McDonnell and the General Assembly for what would be the “first meaningful infusion of transportation revenues in nearly 27 years.”

The soon-to-be-law, aka House Bill 2313, reportedly provides close to $900 million a year in statewide funding and more than $300 million annually for Northern Virginia. We certainly could use it!

“In a perfect world,” said NVAR in a statement here, “we would prefer not to tax real estate transactions at a time when the market is on the verge of recovery. However, NVAR has honored its commitment to be part of a transportation funding solution so long as other industries are also part of the solution.”

Jurisdictions in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads will have the ability to collect additional funds dedicated soley to road and transit projects. Of course, that would mean higher local taxes, albeit with the peace-of-mind that those monies would stay ‘home.’

Working closely with NVAR were Delegates Dave Albo, (R-Springfield) and Jackson Miller (R-Prince William), and Senator Janet Howell (D-Reston). This trio succeeded in reducing the initially proposed Grantor’s Tax increase of 40 cents per $100 to the 25 cents per $100 in the bill.

Among the alternatives to the Grantors’ Tax increase was a local income tax increase of 1%. In the end, the Gov. McDonnell’s highly-touted transportation funding bill raised revenue from several sources including an increase in the sales and use tax, car titling fees and hotel occupancy taxes. All of those taxes are still said to be lower than those in D.C. and Maryland.

What to do with all of today’s home security, TV — and many other — technology choices

March 25, 2013 — With the supply of existing homes at or near a 10-year low in Northern Virginia, a growing number of my clients are opting to build their next or ‘dream’ home. Just one of the many decisions they need to make is how much of a home security system they want.

If you haven’t looked into them, home security systems present a mind-boggling array of options. Hint: It’s not just about “home security” any more.

Home security control panelDip your ‘toes’ into the home security arena and you’ll soon learn the companies such as ADT, Guardian and  Vintage package their services with data, home automation, “whole house” music, video monitoring, streaming video and yes, even central vacuum systems.

The very best time to wire your home for some or all of the above options is BEFORE the drywall goes up. After that, you’ll no longer have easy and clean access behind the walls to the wiring you may need wiring.

Even if you think about this before settlement, your builder may not allow changes after the final walk-through. That’s just another reason why it pays to think about these options well ahead of time and make your choices ahead of time.

What follows is a short check list to consider beyond the logical things we think of when considering home security systems, e.g. sensors on doors and windows and password-protectyed keypads. I can help connect you with a company I’ve seen walk a recent client through all of these options. Just give me a call at 703-593-9432 or email me at

Which Smart Mobile Phone(s) Do You Use?

Most of these systems use technologies compatible with iPhones and Android platforms, maybe less so with Windows phones. If you want the flexibility of remote controls, be sure to know which ones work up front.

Structured Wiring (Phone, Cable, Satellite, Data)

Will there be multiple computers in the new house and if so do you want to network them?

Which will you be using for your television signal: cable, satellite, Fios or a combination of them?

Do you need DVR service now, or in the future?

Will there be flat screen LCD or LED screens in the home?

Security System

Have you considered glassbreak coverage around your sliding glass doors or French doors?

Have you considered backing up your security system with motion detection?

How about monitored smoke detectors on your security system?

Will you need flood detection in the basement or 2nd floor laundry rooms? (Believe it or not, I’ve heard some horror stories about faucets left running or washing means backing up.)

Do you need additional keypads, in master bedroom for example?

Do you wish to protect the telephone line to the alarm system?

Thought about personal protection devices such as portable panic buttons, especially if you have aging parents living with you or children coming home alone after school?

Are you considering using voice over IP?

Whole House Audio and Home Theater

Do you want to distribute quality music throughout the house?

In which rooms would you like to enjoy music ?

Want access to free music services such as Pandora?

Want access to streaming movie services such as Crackle and subscription services such as Netflix?

Do you want the flexibility to listen to different music in different music at the same time?

Will you have a home theater / media room in the house?

Want to listen to local radio stations . . . in different rooms?

Think you would ever want to draw music off of a friend’s iPhone using the songs on their iTunes account? Yep, they do that.

Another Consideration

Have you considered having a central vacuum system installed?  Believe it or not, these systems can be configured along with all these other options.