Spreading Love in Virginia

Ever heard the saying “Virginia is for Lovers?” Did you know there are over 200 LOVEworks signs all over the state?

Virginia residents have worked on spreading the love by building massive signs of the word “LOVE” in cities all around the state to spread joy. Many of the artworks and paintings on the letters represent that specific area, too. For example, Cape Charles made their letters out of kayaks and fishing accessories to represent their water-oriented lifestyle.

You can find these signs anywhere in the state, but some of our local sign locations include Fredericksburg, Stafford, Spotsylvania, Montross, Warsaw, Richmond, Woodbridge, and more. Go check them out and spread the love! They are perfect for photo-ops.

The above photo was taken at one of the LOVEworks signs in our local area! (Colonial Beach, Virginia)

For a complete map of all of the LOVEworks in Virginia, please visit https://www.virginia.org/love


Tips for First Time Home Buyers

First time buying a home? Don’t panic! here are some tips to help you through this process:

  • Pay Down Debt, and Start Saving

When buying a home, you want to make sure you have money saved up for things like a down payment, inspection & closing costs, and any additional things you would like for your home (furnishings, décor, paint, or even just an emergency fund). It is also important to talk with a lender to help you determine what you can afford. They can prequalify you for that amount, so that when you find your dream home, you are ready to purchase.

  • Start Researching Neighborhoods/Areas of Interest

Where do you see yourself living? Consider what areas fit your needs and budget. Some things to consider are commute to work, school districts, price point, and personal taste. Think about your lifestyle – Do you want to be close to stores, restaurants, and entertainment or would you prefer a quiet rural area?

  • Find a Real Estate Agent to Help You

Realtors can help guide you through this whole process, by answering all of your questions and helping you find the home of your dreams. At Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Select Realty, we have many agents that serve a large area of Virginia, such as Fredericksburg, Colonial Beach, King George, Stafford, Dumfries, Woodbridge, and Richmond.

  • Have Fun With It

Buying a home can be overwhelming, but it is also exciting! Enjoy this process and find what makes you happy. There is no place like home.


Are You Selling Your Home, Or Just Curious About Value?

All homeowners wonder at some point what their home is worth, but there’s a big difference between planning to sell and simply satisfying your curiosity. You can get a ballpark idea of what homes in the neighborhood are fetching by going online, or you could contact your Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Realty professional for a comprehensive market analysis, a comparison between your home and other similar homes in your neighborhood. 

If you’re just curious, you can take your estimated sales price, subtract the customary closing costs in your area plus the closing costs on your new home (anywhere from about six to ten percent for both transactions). But then, what have you got? Without a plan of what you want to accomplish with your equity, your home’s worth doesn’t mean anything because it can change at any time. The economy, jobs, buyer preferences, and more can all make a difference.

If you’re really interested in selling your home, run some what-if scenarios. What are your goals? A bigger, nicer home? A home closer to work or family? Are there better programs for your children in a different school district? In short, you want to know how life will improve for each of your household members in a different home or location.  

Once you have the answers to these questions, you’ll be in a better position to sell your home with confidence. It’s not just about knowing how much your home is worth; it’s about providing quality of life to your household. 

Contact a Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Realty sales professional to learn more about what your home is worth. www.bhhsselect.com


Five Ways to Show Courtesy at Showings

A seller’s home is their private sanctum, and that should remain true even when it’s on the market. You’ll enjoy showings or open houses more as well as protect the seller’s home with these five courtesies.

  1. Sign in. Sellers and listing agents need to know who’s been in the home so they can ask for feedback. If you tour builder’s homes or open houses unaccompanied, be sure to include your Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Realty professional’s contact information so others know you’re already represented.
  2. Wear slip-ons. Especially during inclement weather, park your shoes at the front door to keep from dragging mud or other contaminants into the home.
  3. Establish rules for children. You may prefer to leave the kids at home for first and second viewings, but you’ll want to show them their next home eventually. Tell them to stay by your side, not to touch anything, and to refrain from running or horseplay.
  4. 4 Open closets, cabinets and drawers. Part of what you’re buying is storage and organization, so you have every right to open all closets, built-in cabinets and kitchen drawers. But if a piece of furniture is used instead of a built-in, such as a buffet table or china hutch, you should leave it alone.
  5. Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer. You introduce or take away germs when you enter any home, so make sure your hands are clean before you touch anything as well as after the showing is over

Buying a Home On the Dip

In mid-March, borrowing rates were slashed to banks to nearly zero percent and announced it would buy at least $700 billion in government bond purchases, channeling about $200 billion of the stimulus into mortgage-related bonds. Not since 2008 has the central bank made such a dramatic move to stave off the effects of a pandemic economic recession.

What does that mean to home buyers like you? Opportunity.

The Fed doesn’t set mortgage interest rates, but it does influence short-term borrowing and adjustable mortgage rates because banks follow the federal funds rate. Fixed rate mortgages tend to move with long-term Treasury yields, according to Bankrate.com. As more investors pile into Treasury bonds, the yield lowers, which means fixed rate mortgages will cost less.

According to Reuters, mortgage interest rates should remain low for some time. For example, the monthly payment on a $350,000 home purchased with a 20% down at 4% interest would be about $1,850. At 3%, the same payment would be about $1,700, allowing borrowers to buy homes more affordably.

The National Association of REALTORS® recently reported that only three percent of home sellers took their homes off the market in March in response to the coronavirus quarantines, which means there will be plenty of homes to choose.

Economic uncertainty typically causes home buyers to move to the sidelines, which can cause inventories to grow and housing prices to fall as well. The time to act is now while the costs of buying a home are dipping.


Advice for Single Female Homebuyers

Advice for Single Female Homebuyers

In 2019, the National Association of REALTORS reported that 18% of home buyers were single females, compared to nine percent of single males. From this data, it’s clear that single women see homeownership as an important way to provide themselves with more stability and financial security.

Here’s some helpful advice to help single women meet the responsibilities and rewards of homeownership.

  1. Buy within your means. While it’s good advice for all home buyers, single women can lower their risk by keeping their house payment, including property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, homeowner association fees and mortgage insurance at no more than one third of their income.
  2. Choose a forever home. Your home should promote well-being and prosperity. The longer you own your home, the more equity you build. And your home can provide rental income should you move or marry in the future.
  3. Plan for surprises. You may have put all your funds into your down payment, but as soon as you can, start rebuilding your cash savings. Create a fund for home repairs and planned expenses such as a new roof one day. You should also have at least six months cash on hand in the event of illness or layoffs.
  4. Take ownership and repair classes. Your state or local housing authority may offer homebuying and home ownership classes. You can also take repair or home improvement workshops at your local Home Depot or elsewhere. It’s a great way to meet people, develop skills and save money on maintenance and repairs.

Fair Market and Other Values

Fair Market and Other Values

Home buyers and home sellers want to know one thing – how much a home is worth.  Fair market comparable data, assessments and appraisals are all relevant ways to determine value, but all values are not the same. So what are the differences?

Fair market value. This metric is used to help determine asking and offer prices for a given home for sale. Market conditions and the economy can cause home prices to fluctuate, so get an electronic comparable market analysis (CMA) from your Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices network professional. The CMA will include at least three recently sold homes (within three to six months) that are as similar as possible to the home you want to buy or sell, including the dates of sale, time on the market, addresses, age when built, square footage, condition, features and improvements.

Assessed value. Tax roll authorities use assessments to determine annual property taxes. They use market data such as CMAs from multiple listing services but also include non-market data such as type of ownership (homestead VS investment property) and age of the homeowner (taxes are often frozen for seniors).

Appraised value. Mortgage bankers hire licensed appraisers to ascertain whether or not a home is valued correctly to protect homebuyers and limit their own risk. They use sales and rental data, plus other formulas. If the appraised amount is lower than the sales contract amount, the buyer can either come up with more cash or back away, or the seller can lower the price.   


DRIVING THE NEIGHBORHOOD

Whether you’re shopping for a home in a familiar location or a new neighborhood, remember that you’re buying more than a home. You’re also buying the neighborhood, so it helps to become familiar with your favorites, whether you drive them or walk them.

Why is that important? It’s the neighborhood that helps establish home values, which depend largely on location and local amenities (close to high-paying jobs, high-scoring schools, high-starring restaurants, etc.)

Neighborhoods can change over time, so look for signs of transition. Do you see reinvestment or decline? Homeowners reinvest by repainting, making repairs and refreshing their homes with updates. What kinds of stores and services do you see? Dollar stores or boutiques, payday loan shops or investment firms, fast food or upscale restaurants. Are you the right target demographic?

Visit the area at different times of the day and on weekends. What’s traffic like? How long is your commute?

As you drive, check a few home-buying apps. On our local Virginia community pages, you can see crime stats and amenities and save your favorites to show your Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Realty sales professional.

You’ll be happier if you pick the neighborhood first, then choose the home.


Three Things Sellers Should Never Do

Selling your home is one of the largest transactions you’ll ever make, so you want to make sure you sell your home quickly, for the most money and for the best terms possible you don’t want to start off on the wrong foot. Here are three things sellers should never do.

  1. Sell it yourself. A real estate professional has the resources and experience to help you price, show, sell your home and safely navigate it to closing. He or she can provide numerous marketing and showing services to help sell your home quickly and with as few hurdles as possible.
  2. Pick the wrong sales professional. Interview several real estate professionals to learn how they plan to market your home, what services they provide, and what you need to do to get the highest and best offer for your home. Choose the one who is straight with you about your home’s assets and drawbacks, and who explains current market conditions so you’ll know how to price your home successfully.
  3. Ignore your sales professional’s advice. Your Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Realty sales professional is trained to help you present your home at its best. Staging, updates, and repairs will help, but what’s most important is price. Your home’s price, location and condition should be supported by comparable homes in the area. You’ll attract the most interest if you price slightly below comparable homes, allowing room for buyers to bid up the price.

Remember, every market is different and can change quickly, so be prepared. Request a free, no-obligation market analysis from your local Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Realty sales professional and learn more about obtaining the highest value for your home in todays market.


Portable Gardens for Curb Appeal

To make your home more attractive to homebuyers, you could plant fresh flowers or you could put plants in containers and take your garden with you when you sell your home!  

Containers can accent your home’s personality – like washtubs for a farmhouse look or colorful fired pottery for a bohemian vibe. They’re the perfect solution for styling a porch, entry or walkway.

Follow these easy tips to make sure your potted gardens thrive:

Pick the right container. A confined space means substituting what the plants would get if they were in the ground. You need to have enough space for plants to grow and proper drainage holes so your plants don’t become sodden.

Use fresh potting soil. Good potting soil doesn’t clump and allows roots to spread. It contains nutrients to give plants a good head start.

Group plants according to sun and water requirements. A mix of cascading plants, tall leafy plants and various flowers make a beautiful composition. You can even mix in edibles like vegetables and herbs, but make sure all the plants in one container require the same amount of sun and water.

Water frequently. Container gardens dry out quickly, especially smaller pots. Check that the container is draining properly and you don’t have to worry about overwatering. Water daily in warm weather.

Bigger is better. Larger containers hold more soil, allow plants to grow larger, offer more room for variety and require less frequent watering.