Home Buying in Bristow>Question Details

Carrie, Home Buyer in Bella Villa, MO

After 6 years in Europe we are returning to the DC area. We want to plan a house hunting trip in the spring to view houses and make a purchase-

Asked by Carrie, Bella Villa, MO Mon Feb 14, 2011

My questions are these 1) is there a better month to come as far as available inventory, 2) is five days enough time to look and find my new home 3) what should we do to prepare in advance so we can utilize our time wisely 4) is there a website where I can get good information on local schools as this will determine more than anything where we end up.
Thanks for your help with a family that's been off the U.S. housing ladder for many years.

P.S. My husband's job will take him to DC but he's willing to commute from Bristow/Manassas area on VRE line.

Help the community by answering this question:


Your questions have been answered several times with good advise so I'll keep this short. The market in Bristow usually has a noticeable increase of listings beginning in early March, and remains steady through May when families with children in school are waiting for the end of the school year to put their home on the market. You can certainly find a home in 5 days. But you will need realtor(s) to dedicate a lot of time with you when you are in the area. When Maryanne & I work with military clients from overseas who are trying to find a safe home for their family in a short time frame, we usually have a limited power-of-attorney document completed with a contract offer in order to handle any problem issues which may occur while you are out of the country. This can also be used to have your agent represent you with signatures on closing paperwork. I worked as a Patrol Officer/Detective/Sergeant for the Prince William County Police Department for 13 years. If you have any questions or concerns about the area please feel free to contact me. The Bristow/Haymarket/Gainsville area is in Prince William County and the Crime Prevention Unit crimeprevention@pwcgov.org specialist for the Bristow area can also be a valuable resource for your safety concerns. I can also show you areas I would feel safe to raise my family. Remember to make advance hotel reservations. Hotel rooms can be tough to reserve along the I-66 corridor.

Dwayne Moyers
The Moyers Team: Dwayne and Maryanne
Avery-Hess Realtors
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Feb 19, 2011
Hi Carrie....having returned twice from Europe, I am both excited for you and hopefully, excited with you! You will find the Bristow/Manassas areas to have grown quite a bit in the last 8 years, and many roads have been widened or created.
In terms of inventory, I usually reach a peak of purchase closings around the May/June timeframe. Most contracts call for a closing within 30 to 60 days of purchase, so I would sumrise the greatest inventory is available during the March/April time frame. I know there are some super values out here now (I live north of Manassas, off 234).
I agree with many others here you should be contacting lenders right now and get pre-qualified. If your husband is qualified for VA financing, there are some great rates available right now. Heck, the rates are great across the board. Many times after being overseas, a client's credit is a bit spotty in terms of depth. A good loan officer can give you a quick overview of your credit here in the US, and if necessary, suggest ways to bring it back up to snuff so your loan will go through as easily as possible.
I am also happy to recommend a real estate broker that works in the area of Bristow/Manassas. Feel free to contact me for a no cost, no obligation quote.
Jim, HSOA 703 615 4675
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 15, 2011
Thanks to you all for the very helpful information. It's time I start doing my "home"work now.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 14, 2011
Hello Carrie

There are some things you definitely want to do before you arrive in Virginia. Number one is talk to some lenders. I always recommend shopping for finance and comparing rates, points and fee’s. Once you pick the lender you are going to work with then get a letter of approval from them. You will need that when you are ready to make an offer.

Second, you want to start looking at houses now, online. By far the best way to do that is not from an online site but to have an auto email set up. An auto email will send you all the listings that fit your criteria in Bristow as soon as they are entered in the MRIS by the listing agent. They are very timely and accurate. All other sites update every 24 hours at best and often they will show a home as active only to find out that they are under contract. I would be very happy to set that up for you. Feel free to contact me with the price range, amount of bedrooms, baths, single family TH and so on and I can get those coming to you today. You can save your favorites and get a good idea of what is available before you arrive. When you do you will have a list all set on day one. I look forward to your call.

Glenn Stromberg, ABR
Long & Foster Realtors
Cell 703-987-8053
Office 703-986-5700
Fax 703-583-7655
Licensed in the Common Wealth of Virginia
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 14, 2011
Hi Carrie,

I work with buyers who come from overseas as well as across the country and will be happy to answer your questions:
1) Since you will be coming from Europe, the BEST time to arrive would be any time after April 1 and before June 1 to have the most available inventory of which to choose.
2) Ideally, you should allow AT LEAST 7 days to avoid a hurried decision: Approximately 3 days in which to make a decision 2 days for negotiations and 1.5 days for inspections. You will also need at least a half day to recover from your travel.
3) You will have access to the MLS through my website and various others in advance so you may view areas, maps, homes, amenities, photos and more.
4) For schools in the Bristow/Manassas area, you may Google: Prince William County Public Schools.
For schools in Fairfax County, along the VRE, you may Google Fairfax County Public Schools for their information.
I very much look forward to assisting you in any way I possibly can with your home search.

Most sincerely,
Janet M. Lange, ABR,CDPE,e-PRO, GRI, SFR, SRES
Certified Military Relocation Specialist
Avery-Hess, Realtors 571-722-4348
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 14, 2011
As a Bristow agent, I can tell you that five days should be plenty of time if you know what you want. There are plenty of homes for sale in the Bristow-Manassas area and if you have time to wait for a Short Sale, then there are even more choices available to you.

More tiime would be best if you can do it, but a good agent will be able to work with what time they have.

It's probably best to get in touch with an agent and have them set up an MLS search for your criteria. That way, you can start virtually touring properties that are available before you ever land.

So start making that list of must haves and would like to haves. Then get in touch with an agent. While there is a lot more inventory in the Spring, it's also when all the buyers come out of the wood work. You would have faced less competition in the fall/winter.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 14, 2011
January is the lowest point of inventory, then it climbs every month after that until you reach June which is the peak month of housing inventory, then it drops back down each successive month after that until a low point in January again.
As far as five days is concerned, in this age of modern technology, most of your shopping can be done ahead of time with help from an agent via videos, pictures, maps, satellite imagery, school scores reports, etc. Then when you get here 5 days will be ample time to look around an decide on your favorites, since you will have been able to pre-shop and know which areas you want to be in. Go to http://www.insiderealestate.com
to see all homes on the Realtors MLS for free. You can also get schools info there as well.
Most relocating families to this area (and there are thousands every yeear0 mange to do it in 3-5 days, so I;m sure you wont have any difficulty. You can check out http://www.novahomesavings.com for ways to save money on your housing here.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 14, 2011
Given the distance you're travelling, it's probably not practical to think you'd be able to plan more than one trip, but that would be ideal. Cramming everything into 5 days is enough to make your head spin. Does it seem reasonable to you to consider a short term rental before buying? I would hate for you to get pressured into choosing a home before you were ready.

In 5 days you can buy a property, it's just hard when those 5 days are consecutive, since negotiating a contract usually takes a few days. That almost means you'd have to choose 1, 2 and 3 choices for a home within 3 days so you could try to negotiate the contracts within the remaining days.

I had one couple that did this. Day 1 they realized their expectations were not being met and needed to turn and look in an entirely new direction. Day 3 we did find a house, and 2nd and 3rd choices. Day 4 we successfully got the contract negotiated (but that requires extreme cooperation from the other side) and Day 5 we did the home inspection.

I do not believe that most couples can do this. You must be willing to commit to it, be decisive and not spend time worrying about how to make something work that is going to be hard.

For example, you would essentially have to eliminate any REO or short sale homes from the possible list, and focus entirely on traditional sales with available owners. Since I don't know your criteria, I don't know what the housing supply and break down is of that market segment, but that could reduce your potential homes by about 2/3. And chances are it will include a home that is fabulous and you might really, really want that house... but if you need a buy a house in 5 days, you can't even think about it. Can you do that?

Honestly, it may sound restrictive, if you want to find ONE, you need to quickly eliminate the houses that aren't going to be a good fit.

Would love to chat more with you. Please feel free to reach out to me 703-669-3142 vchrisner@kw.com. On my web site, go to
"About the area" If you are looking for school information for Bristow, the best resource if going to be the Prince William County Public School web site.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 14, 2011
I bought a short sale here in Bristow almost 2 years ago. I call it New Bristow because almost everything here is new and shiny---please see video below.

1) I recommend April
2) 5 days is plenty--although it may not be enough time for you to be present for the home inspection itself
3) start viewing all Bristow listings that come on the market--view the virtual tours and for some have your agent run number/comps on them and let you know what the most aggressive offer you could make on that home

4) for a video about Bristow real estate and solds (see the prices of sold homes yourself) see this link:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 14, 2011
Hi Carrie,
As an Army wife who has moved several times, including a move from Germany, I understand how important it is to find a home in a time crunch :)
I just helped a client from California who was here for 3 days with a POA to find a house :)
Please feel free to check out my website and browse for homes; http://www.Quanticohomesearch.com . Another great local search engine is Franklymls.com. If you contact me with your criteria, I will have lists sent you daily with new inventory that meets your criteria.
I would recommend researching schools at Greatschools.com
I have seen quite a bit of new inventory hitting the market. I have several friends who are PCSing this summer and will list their homes in the next few weeks.
I specialize in Prince William county real estate, so please feel free to ask me any questions about the area, or the commute to the Pentagon; my husband has worked there over 2 years. (The government provides metro cards that will cover most of your husban'd's commutings costs on the VRE).

With Kindest Regards,
Jennifer Rivera

Jennifer Rivera
Realtor, Army Wife & Veteran
Move4Free Realty LLC
8405 Dorsey 201
Manassas, VA 20110
Office: (571) 292-5377 ext 112
Fax: (703) 542-4240
VoiceMail: (304) 952-8735
Email Jennifer@move4freerealty.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 14, 2011
Good Morning Claire,

There are many great areas in No. Virginia. People that choose the Bristow/Manassas area to look in, typically do so because of the lower prices and the newer homes. If one or both of those is correct, that finding a home in 5 days is very doable. You just need an good agent that is willing to devote a block of time to you upon your arrival. The spring market (March - May) will always the best inventory to choose from. To prepare in advance, you'll need to select a Realtor before you get here, because you'll need to hit the ground running when you arrive.

I would still suggest that you try to interview 2-3 Realtors while your overseas. If you have access to Skype, this can be accomplished relatively easily and for free. You'll be cramming a lot into 5 days, and it is important that the Realtor you choose is in sync with you, and that you communicate well with each other. The Realtor you choose can easily send you listings to look at before your arrival, and you should be providing feedback to that Realtor so they understand your taste for different styles. I set my clients up with an excellent tool (called Listingbook) that not only lets them query the available homes for sale, but it allows them to delete listings, mark their favorites, and even make notations on a listing so their spouse or agent can see their notes.

You'll also want recommendations from the agent you choose for a couple of good lenders, and you should make contact (email will be sufficient) prior to your arrival.

There are a number of things that can be done prior to your arrival. Select a good agent and they'll coordinate and guide you through the process.

When you're ready, I would like the opportunity to interview with you for the opportunity to help you.
I hope this has been helpful.

Andy Krumholz, ABR, GRI, CDPE
Keller Williams Realty
(703) 599-4755 - cell
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 14, 2011
There's an inventory out there right now. It all depends on what type of home you're looking for. March/April can be a busy time. There are generally more properties, but there are usually more buyers, too.

Five days is possible with enough planning.

You should talk to a lender and get your financing taken care of ahead of time.

All of the counties have their own websites that show test scores and data.

Don't hesitate to email me with any other questions. I'd be happy to help with the move back to the area!
Web Reference: http://www.jimmccowan.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 14, 2011
Hello Carrie,

I am glad to hear your questions. Here is the answers.
1. Starting March, we will have more inventories.
2. Five days are enough to see all the houses in Bristow and Manassas area. I advise not to rush things.
3. You can consult with loan officer to see financing options you have.
4. http://www.greatschools.org/ for school info and http://www.crimereports.com/# for crime report.

Let me know if you need any other help.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 14, 2011
Hi Carrie

As the spring rolls around typically there will be more inventory on the market, so March, April and into May is when typically the most homes are on the market in the area. Five days could be enough time if you and your Realtor do some homework before time to really lay out your needs in the house and then when you are in town get out and see as much as possible. I have had clients find the house on the first day, it really varies. I would talk to a lender to get pre-qualified, so you know what price range to be looking for and think about what you want in your home (bedrooms, baths, kitchen style, neighborhood, etc). The Washingtonian has run some good articles about schools in the area and occasionally the Washington Post has some articles as well.

Please let me know if I can be of any more assistance or if you have any further questions.

Melissa Barkalow
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 14, 2011
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