Selling Your Home? Here Is A List Of Steps You Can Follow For A Successful Home Sale

Selling your home can seem like a daunting task but here are a few steps to help keep you sane and help you put your best foot forward when listing your home.

  1. VALUABLES: Place valuables like pain medications, jewelry, cash, firearms, and valuable documents in a safe or off site while your home is listed.
  2. DECLUTTER: Most folks have items around the house that are just taking up space or cluttering a room. You can place items in a temporary storage unit, box up or take advantage of online yard sale sites and or hold your own yard sale. Donating unused items is also a good way to get rid of items you don’t need anymore.
  3. STAGING: Don’t think you are in this on your own! ASK your Realtor for advice on staging or hire an a professional stager. Choose a stager that fits your budget, there are plenty out there that can fit your budget. Need a referral? Contact me for folks who professionally stage.
  4. APPRAISAL: Your real estate agent will pull together comparables of recent home sales to give you an idea of what your home is worth. Purchasing an appraisal is also another way to get an idea of how much your home is worth. Appraisers do this every day and have the resources to give you a better idea of what your home is worth.
  5. PETS: I’m a huge pet lover and hate the idea of removing animals from the home but not every person may enjoy your pet like you do. If it’s feasible during showing hours have pets retire to a neighbors or a friend’s home. If this is not possible then pets should be placed in an area or crate marked with signs to let people know that Fido or Kitty is in the laundry room or another area of the home.
  6. CARPETS: If needed plan on having the carpets in high traffic areas cleaned and if carpets are beyond cleaning, think about replacing.
  7. PAINT: Now it’s time to repaint bedrooms that may have been a fun color for the kids but may not appeal to all buyers. Touching up spaces that are high traffic areas like staircases and hallways are also a good idea.
  8. UPDATES AND REPLACEMENTS: The major items buyers look for to be updated or recently replaced are Bathrooms, Kitchen Appliances, Kitchen Countertops, Washer/Dryer, A/C Unit, Furnace, Roof, and Decks. It’s great if you can compile a list for your Real Estate Agent of all the items that have been replaced or recently updated.
  9. FURNACE AND A/C UNIT: If you don’t already have a yearly maintenance contract on the Furnace and A/C Unit, have a company come out and service your unit. This will eliminate any surprises during a Home Inspection. The Heating & Cooling company will then place a sticker on the unit showing when the last maintenance was performed on the system. A fresh filter should always be placed every 1-3 months depending on how dusty your home is and if you have pets.
  10. FIREPLACES: It’s not a bad idea to get the chimney swept and inspected. Most home inspectors are not qualified to comment on the chimney so they will recommend to have it cleaned and inspected.
  11. LANDSCAPING: If needed, add fresh mulch to flower beds. Remember to keep mulch away from siding on the home as this is a great way for pests to find their way up into the house. Trim trees away from the house to reduce damage to roof, siding and reduce ways for animals to get on the roof. Freshen Decks up with a good powerwashing and fresh coat of sealant or paint if needed.

These are just few things you can do to help sell your home in Northern Virginia. If you’re thinking about selling your home I would love to help! You can contact me anytime at or 571-299-8307.







Thinking About Selling Your Home? Got Kids?

Are you thinking about selling your home with young children in tow? There are a few easy tricks you can use to keep the process a little less stressful.

Selling your home is always a slightly stressful situation. You always worry about your home being clean and presentable for prospective buyers. Add children to the mix and stress levels can go up a little more. As a Mom of two boys I can relate to parents who are trying to sell their home and the chaos that can overtake your home on a daily basis. Don’t panic, these tips will help you get through the process a little easier.

  •  Obtain an agent that is child friendly. These agents will understand what you are going through when you complain to them about how stressed out you are with the process. They will also understand when you have screaming children in the background and won’t get irritated if you have to get off the phone to attend to your little ones….:) These agents also understand that a short and to the point email or text will also get the job done since answering the phone with small children always ends up with them hanging on your leg while you try and have a conversation.
  • Have a plan. Set up a plan before the home goes on the market. Decide on how you are going to keep the home picked up, handle showings, and if you have pets where are they going to be secured in the home.
  •  Kids come with lots toys and accessories. Pack up about 50% of the toys and place them in a basement storage space or a relatives garage for safe keeping. You were going to have to pack them up when you move anyway so why not do it now. The kids won’t miss the toys while the home is on the market and it makes clean up a lot easier on you if an agent calls to get into the home. Also when you unpack the toys at the new house it will be like Christmas all over again for them.
  •  Infants come with lots of items too including bassinets, play mats and swings. Buyers are not going to think less of you if these items are in the home. Dedicate an area for these items and leave them out if you need them. As long as they are not blocking walkways or making a room feel cluttered, leave them out.
  •  Have a catch all basket. Showings can be much easier on you if you create a place where you can put items that the kids want to have out to play with. If the kids are old enough to help pick up, have them use the basket to clean up a rec room or family room before an agent arrives with prospective buyers.
  • Request an hour notice before agents come to show the home. This gives you a little breathing room and doesn’t allow for any surprise visits from agents with prospective buyers.

These are just a few things that can help take the pressure off of you and your family while trying to sell your home.

Geothermal Installation Complete!

Our Geothermal Heating and Cooling system has now been fully installed for over a month and we couldn’t be happier. The system saved us over a $100 during the month of March where we saw extremely low temperatures and snow. Next month’s electricity bill should show decreasing energy use as the temperature outside has been more on the mild side. The graph below, which I will be updating throughout the year, shows us a 4 year trend of our homes energy costs.

Energy Savings April


All that is left for the completion of the project is for them to hydro-seed our yard and replace some of our planters stone work. Once a year we will have the system maintained to make sure the system is operating correctly. We will also change the air filter out every 2-3 months to assure the air flowing through the house has less pollen and dust. The desuperheater on the hot water heater will be turned on once the warmer weather stays around. The function of this piece of equipment is to take the unwanted heat from the home and put it towards heating the hot water heater also saving us some money on energy costs.

If you ever want to know how about Geothermal Thermal Heating and Cooling feel free to reach out and ask.

Kamber Petty

Geothermal Installation: Part 4 Trenching & Earth Loops

Before the big storm hit on Wednesday night, the drilling company came out and dug our trenches to the house. The Earth loops they installed into the wells were hooked up and brought to the house via the trenches. The technicians then drilled into the side of our home into where the Water Furnace sits in our basement. This was an all day project and the men were trying to beat the storm that was going to drop 16 inches of snow. Once the piping was in the house they quickly back filled the trench and called it a day.

The following day the crews were going to do the flush and purge of the system but the snowy roads made this impossible for some of the crew to make it in. So now we are in a holding pattern until hopefully this week. We will also be getting our larger hot water heater along with the desuperheater that uses the heat from the earth to heat our hot water. This addition is also another way we will be saving on electricity.

Till next week……

Geothermal Installation: Part 3 Let the Drilling Begin!

Patience is a virtue I wasn’t granted apparently but in a big surprise last weekend they delivered the drilling rig and gear to start drilling our two wells for the Geothermal system. Drilling started on Saturday but only last about 10 minutes when the rig’s hydraulic system blew a pressure valve. Monday they were not able to fix the rig and decided to replace it with a brand new rig. Drilling commenced on Tuesday and can I say it is amazing how the drill operators work these machines and the machine itself is great fun for the kids to watch.

While they were drilling the second well, the first well was grouted using one of three pipes placed into the well. The only purpose of this piping to help the grout reach the bottom of the hole. During the process, a Loudoun County Inspector needs to be present to make sure it’s done correctly. The inspector didn’t want to wait for the second well to be grouted so that was done a few days later when an inspector was available.

Our next step in the process was started on Thursday when they installed the Water Furnace and new thermostat. Right now the system is running on auxiliary heat since they have not run the geothermal loops to the house. This week they will be trenching to the house, purging the loops and installing our new hot water heater with the degenerator. Friday they will be adding duct and vents to our basement so our basement will have heat and a/c as where it only has baseboard heating currently.

In the home stretch now! A big thank you to North America Geothermal for getting the job done.

Geothermal Installation: Part 2

Currently we have hit a snag in our installation of our geothermal system. The first snag was an application that missed a signature by the geo company on our permit application to the County. The second snag dealt with Miss Utility not marking the lines for the home water and sewer lines. So recently when we got home from a trip we noticed that Miss Utility had come out along with the drilling company to flag our property. My husband noticed that the drilling flags were right on top of our water and sewer lines that enter and exit our home. The county further came out and noticed the same issue. We contacted the geo company and they came out today with line locators to mark our lines in the front yard.

One obstacle is going to be the county telling the Geo company how far away the wells actually need to be from each line in order to drill in the correct location. Not to mention if our main line ever went out we would need to be far enough away from the wells as to not disturb them. So far Loudoun County hasn’t been any help because on three separate occasions they have told the Geo company three different distances the wells need to be from the utility lines.

At this point we are completely frustrated with the process as it’s now January 20th and nothing has been started but a bunch of fingering pointing. If we hadn’t said anything to the County the drillers would have severed both the water and sewer line in our front yard. Here is hoping that the County inspection tomorrow goes well and we can get our permit for the wells. Drilling can’t start soon enough as the temperatures are going to dip down into the 20s for about a week.

Crossing my fingers…..


Our permit was approved and drilling can commence. Now for snag number three. We are third in line for drilling to begin and with the weather being just a tad above freezing it’s most likely going to happen in February. Makes me wonder if they hadn’t missed a signature on our application for permit would we still be waiting until February. Not to mention they have about $18,000 of our dollars with nothing but flags in our yard and our old system working hard to get through these cold days.

Geothermal System For My Home

A couple years ago I put an article together talking about Geothermal Heating and Cooling Systems. My friend and her husband were installing a Geothermal Water Based Furnace in their home. A costly project that was going to take about a month to complete but in the end the money and time spent were going to be well worth it. Three years later they love their system and are almost at the break even point when it comes to the money they save on their electricity, gas bill and what they spent on their system.

My husband and I have a very open home with lots of hard to heat and cool elements in the house. One of them being the lack of heat on the main floor and abundance of heat on the second floor due to the issue of the second floor being open to the main level. The basement has always been comfortable and in the winter we would put the baseboard heaters on really low just to take the chill out of the air. Our heat pump system was installed in 2006 and the previous owners chose to take the cheap route when they chose the system. The last few winters we have been worried that the heat pump would quit on us when we had a overly chilly day. On certain days that I was home I would start a fire in the fireplace just to take a little pressure off the heat pump.

We have finally bitten the bullet and decided to go with a Geothermal heat pump system. We have plenty of yard for the wells to be drilled and it turns out they only need two 6-inch wells for the loops to be placed into the earth. So even if we didn’t have a great big yard there still would of been plenty of room. In the end there will only be one unit on the inside of the house and our outside heat pump unit will be removed. When we started looking at systems we found there are two (2) different options to choose from. The first system is your basic Water furnace system and the other is what they call a DX  or direct exchange system. Here are the differences:


Water Furnace

A WaterFurnace geothermal heat pump uses the ground loop to extract heat from the ground when heating your home. The system then takes the heat and distributes it to the conventional duct system. This same heat can be used to heat the water in your hot water heater also saving energy and dollars. The ground loop system is made from Earth Loop that pumps a water-based solution through a polyethylene pipe.

When cooling your home the process is reversed. The heat from the air in your home is placed either back into the ground or put towards your hot water heater needs.

Direct Exchange

In the Direct Exchange system you have the same basic concept but with one less step and different piping. Refrigerant is sent through copper piping where the ground heat moves across the copper piping without the need to use a water pump to circulate water through plastic ground loops. One issue that the system needs to overcome is the copper becoming compromised in the ground and one way to do this is to add an anode. The anode acts to protect the copper by sacrificing itself to corrosion thus protecting the copper piping. One benefit is the loop system does not have to be  as large as a water based system thus can be placed in areas where space is limited. Another advantage is the one step exchange of heat in the system versus the two steps required in a water based system.

In the end, the husband and I chose the WaterFurnace for two reasons. The copper piping and refrigerant used in the system worried us when it came time to replace the pipes and the potential environmental repercussions if a pipe were to burst. Also the Direct Exchange system has only been in existence for about 10 years whereas the water-based system has been around for more than 30 years. The people that can work on and maintain the water-based system are in the hundreds compared to the select few that work on Direct Exchange systems in Northern Virginia.

The whole process is going to take about a month to complete but with only about 6 hours without heat. If the day is bitterly cold the contractors over at North American Geothermal will have space heaters for us to take away the chill while they complete the install.

The first step towards completing the project was determining the tonnage of the unit needed for our home. A Manual J was performed, Room-by-Room Load Calculations provided the heating and cooling loads for each individual room within the home.  This information is critical when determining the individual duct sizes, overall layout of the duct system, and unit size needed for the home. In our case we are potentially adding on to our home increasing the square footage thus needing a 4-Ton unit versus a 3-Ton for the existing house. We decided to go with the 3-Ton unit and if we do add on in the future we will be adding a splitter system to heat and cool that larger addition.

Once this was determined, North American Geothermal has started the process of acquiring County permits to drill the well holes and ordering the equipment needed for installation. In about two weeks they will start drilling holes.

Stay Tuned to watch the installation of our new geothermal system….




How the Government Shutdown Affected the Northern VA Market?

With Northern Virginia residents mostly employed by the government or companies that support the government, the market slowed considerably. Listings sat a little bit longer and showings slowed down. If clients went to see homes they were interested in they chose to wait until the government settled the shutdown.

Even though the government was shutdown the home buying process didn’t slow down when it came to lending and closing deals. Lenders were okay with moving forward as long as employment was the same and there was no change in credit score.

Since the government has put off the fiscal crisis for another couple months, the market returned to normal. We still are suffering from lower inventory with a good amount of buyers still looking in the market. Homes are sitting a little bit longer but if the home is priced appropriately and in great condition it will move off the market pretty quickly.

If you’re unsure if you want to purchase a new home or list your current home contact a real estate professional to inquire amount the market.

Kamber Petty, Realtor

Geothermal, another option for heating and cooling your home.

Geothermal – of or pertaining to the internal heat of the earth.

A few years ago when we purchased our first single family home we discussed installing a Geothermal System to heat the house and save a few dollars a month. At the time we figured it was too expensive to install and kind of crazy so we never researched the system. Instead we replaced the 25-year old wood windows and re-insulated the attic. Most homes spend most of their energy bills during the summer months. Our home is surrounded by 30-year old Oak and Poplar trees. When the leaves are on the trees during the summer months we are shaded and cool. During the winter months we see our energy bills double. My husband is always worried that our heat pump is not working efficiently and may quit on us due to the age.

Good friends of ours, both engineers, did a ton of research and decided to take the plunge and install a closed loop geothermal system. The loops contain water/anti-freeze fluid and as the fluid moves through the pipes it draws heat from the ground. Once the fluid passes through the heat pump, the heat pump uses electricity to extract the heat. The heat is then used to warm the house. If the system is run in the opposite direction the cooled fluid can be used to cool the house. The electricity used is minimal compared to the electricity used solely to heat a home. It is also a lot cheaper than using oil due to the ever flux in oil prices.

Overall they spent between 25K and 35K and in three to five years they will have recouped everything they spent to install and purchase the system. According to the EPA, homeowners will save approximately 30-70% on heating costs and 25-50% on cooling costs. Our friends will also get a 30% Tax Credit for installing an energy efficient system. This Tax Credit is available through 2016 and is different than the home efficiency tax credit.

Even if you’re not into the Green Movement it’s hard to pass up on the savings per year. The hardest thing to swallow would be the up front cost to install and purchase the system. But if you’re looking to sell your home in the future the reduction of energy costs would be an attractive selling point. For even more information check out Furnace Compare.