To Renovate or Move?

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It’s a question a lot of folks ask themselves when they start thinking about selling their home. My husband and I ran into the same quagmire when we started discussing needing more room for the kids in the future. There was no easy answer. We talked about how we loved our current neighborhood and ease of travel to anywhere we needed to go, the friends that we already made and also how sought after our current neighborhood was. It took us about 3 years before we committed to remodeling our home. I joke that my husband had a real estate search running for 2 years but his Realtor refused to take him out and look at homes.

A couple things to think about when considering renovation over moving are:

  • How much equity will it add to your home?
  • Can you find another home that will fit your needs?
  • Will the changes fix the current issues you face today?
  • Does equity really matter if you plan to stay in the house for years?
  • How to finance the renovations?

How much equity will it add to your home?

Equity is important if you think you might want to sell your home in 3 to 5 years. You are not going to get all of the money back dollar for dollar for everything you might change so keep that in mind. I tell my listing clients if you are going to update kitchens and bathrooms make sure you get some use out of them before listing. It won’t sting as bad if you don’t get all your money back from the changes that are made. In our situation we were juggling with our budget, not going over board with additions to the home and pricing the home out of the market. In the end we justified being over budget a little by knowing that this is our forever home. It helps that we have a fantastic lot and one of the smaller houses in the neighborhood.

Can you find another home that will fit your needs?

Of course! There are plenty of homes in the Northern Virginia Area to choose from. Our needs most likely were going to come with a much higher price tag and we were going to have to leave the neighborhood we love.  We absolutely love Loudoun County and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. With us we already knew what we needed to change to make the home fit our needs and that was really hard to walk away from. Now I have a beautiful Kitchen, Great Room and Master Bedroom Walk-In Closet. My kids have plenty of room for friends and we can hold a party without feeling cramped.

Will the changes fix the current issues you face today?

This is important. If you’re not going to get everything you want out of remodeling and spend a good amount of money doing it, don’t even consider it. The process of remodeling can be very stressful and be rough on a relationship.

Does equity really matter if you plan to stay in the house for years?

It matters in regards to overspending when it comes to doing renovations on your home. Remember to take into account the homes that are in your neighborhood. If you have a neighborhood with smaller homes you don’t want to have the extra large home among the smaller homes. It would be a better option to sell and find a home that fits your needs better.

How to finance the renovations? 

  • There is the obvious way by saving up and paying out of pocket. This might insure that you stay on budget.
  • You can find out from a lender if you can do a Home Equity Line of Credit. In order to do a HELOC you need to have equity in your home either because you have paid down your primary loan over the years or the appraised value of the home has risen. A HELOC is great because you can pay it back and use it over and over again. You can also write off any interest that has occurred just like your primary mortgage.
  • Renovation/Construction Loan is another option. These are becoming more popular. You can obtain a loan based on what you think your home may be worth after you have completed your project. Fannie Mae and FHA have these home renovation mortgages. Here is a little more about these programs: http://www.bankrate.com/finance/mortgages/mortgages-pay-home-renovations-1.aspx

Hope this information is helpful when trying to make your decision to move or to renovate! If you have any further questions I would love to help. You can reach me at kamber.a.petty@gmail.com or by phone at 571-299-8307.

 

Featured Listing

UNDER CONTRACT IN LESS THAN 2 DAYS!!!

$397,000

13115 Watchwood Lane, Fairfax, VA 22033

4 Bedrooms and 3.5 Baths

Rare END Unit Brick Front Townhome in the Fair Lake Land Bay Community. Tall 9 ft Ceilings give the Townhome a spacious feel with Vaulted Ceilings in the Bedrooms. New HVAC and HOT WATER HEATER installed 2016. Large Basement can be used as a MIL Suite with Bedroom with Egress, Full Bath and Walk-Out Basement Exit. Recently Updated Laundry Includes Extra Shelving and Storage Space. Backyard includes large Deck with Stairs to backyard, Fenced-In Yard, Storage Spot for Trash Cans and Storage Shed.

The Townhome is conveniently located near tons of Shopping including Target AND Walmart. Tons of Restaurants including the amazing Tony’s Pizza.
The home is within walking distance to the Metro Park and Ride and local bus transportation. HOV entrance to 66 is just around the corner off of Stringfellow Road. Entrance to Rt 50 and Fairfax County Parkway are within a few miles.
Home is located within the Greenbriar West, Rocky Run Middle and Chantilly High School based on Fairfax County Public Schools site, http://boundary.fcps.edu/boundary/. Both Greenbriar West and Rocky Run Middle are Advanced Academic Placement Centers.

Tons of Parks, Playgrounds and Athletic Fields surround this area. A little something for everybody!

 

 

 

 

Thinking About Selling Your Home? Got Kids?

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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: Part 4 Trenching & Earth Loops

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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!

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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

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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…..

Update

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.

Kid Trips: Northern Virginia Edition, Your Family’s Guide to Local Fun!

I’ve been honored to meet both SuperNOVAMommy (Micaela) & DC Metro Mom (Claudine & Amy) doing various blogger and charity events with my park review website NoVAOutdoors.com. Both of their sites cater to families in the DC Metro Area in a way that gets a ton of information out about local events and places families can go with the kids. They decided to research and join their knowledge of the Northern Virginia Area by writing a guide, Kid Trips: Northern Virginia Edition. Thus putting all the local activities and places like parks, museums, bounce houses, birthday places and more into one book.

“It is our hope that this book becomes an indispensable resource that area families come back to again and again throughout their parenting years,” says author Micaela Williamson. She adds, “I have lived in Northern Virginia for a decade and didn’t even know some of the places in this book existed. It was fun to learn and discover as we researched the book too.”

The book comes in both ebook and paperback and is available on Amazon and Smashwords. I personally like the paperback because I can leave it in the car to reference it when I need to. But the ebook is also a wealth of information with all the web links you can click on for more information. It also makes the perfect gift for my clients on settlement day!

If you’re new to the Northern Virginia area or recently started a family check out www.GoKidTrips.com and you can also find them on Facebook and Twitter at GoKidTrips.

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Charity of Choice: Mission Sleep

For all those that frequent my NoVA Outdoors site you know that I love supporting the Charity, Mission Sleep. When my children were just born I suffered terribly from postpartum depression. When I heard about a charity that donates overnight nursing care for moms of military spouses either deployed or killed in combat I instantly knew I needed to support this great cause. It’s hard enough to be waking in the night with a small infant but when your spouse is in another country and you have no back up or moral support it can be a tough situation.

I first met the owner Denise of Let Mommy Sleep at a fundraising event. She was promoting Mission Sleep through women bloggers in the DC Metro Area. Since then she has reached out anytime she has had a fundraising event. This time a local Insurance Agent has upped his support with donating $25 to Mission Sleep everytime someone does an online quote and mentions Mission Sleep.

If you’re in the market for new home, auto or renters insurance just a 5 minute online quote form can get a donation to Mission Sleep and the potential of lowering your home, auto or renter insurance. If you’re interested please check out his site, http://www.thebigoskiagency.com/missionsleep/

Kamber Petty, Realtor

Hi Everyone my name is Kamber Petty and welcome to my True North Realty site. Here you’ll find my current listings, client testimonials, and the lastest real estate news. If you’re considering buying, selling, or renting a home I would love to be your Realtor! I live and work in Loudoun County but have experience in Fairfax, Prince William, Arlington, Clarke and Frederick County.

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Home Owner Associations….Love ’em or Leave ’em!

In the Northern Virginia area you’ll find that most planned communities have Home Owner Associations. It may be a house, condo or townhouse but everyone is subject to rules and regulations. Home Owner Association covenants and restrictions are designed to protect property values by maintaining appearance and order in a community. HOAs have their pros and cons and you might not always agree with some of the restrictions.

HOA pros:

  • All Owners are kept to the same maintenance standards. Every year and sometimes twice a year committees are sent out to inspect common areas and homes for damage and in need of repair items.
  • By enforcing rules and regulations the HOA helps maintain or improve property values.
  • Many communities have shared pools, playgrounds, tennis courts, walking trails and clubhouses that are maintained with the dues that are paid.
  • Dues often include community snow removal and trash pick up.
  • Disputes between neighbors often can be mediated by the HOA
  • HOAs arrange neighborhood events or parties.

HOA cons:

  • Poorly managed Home Owner Associations can be a turn off. Most Board Members are homeowners in the community with day jobs and they don’t have the time needed to support an HOA.
  • If a budget is not maintained appropriately it can lead to due increases or “lump sum” payments needed for budget shortfalls.
  • Certain restrictions might detract new buyers from purchasing a home in your neighborhood if they feel the regulations are too restricting. For example no renters, no home businesses or only dogs under 50 lbs.
  • Dues might deter people from buying into the community. This fee is looked at as another cost to owning a home in the community.
  • HOA can put a lien on your home if you fall into arrears and can’t pay. Fines can be levied on repairs that are not fulfilled.

With the downward financial market the HOA fees are usually the first bill not to be paid. HOAs are forced to put a lien on the property and sometimes foreclose on properties if fees are not paid. In my community of Countryside they were offering a one time reprieve from past due fees.

Tips:

If you are looking to own or rent in a community that has a Home Owner Association, ask to look at the rules, regulations and bylaws before you go to settlement or sign that renter’s agreement. This way you understand what is being asked of you by the Home Owners Association. Also if you look at the budget and financial statements you might understand how well the Association is run and if this is the community for you.