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

SOLD!!!

$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!

 

 

 

 

Finding Your First Home

It’s an exciting time when you start looking for your first home. Maybe you know what areas you like or the type of home you would prefer, maybe even your budget, but no matter your knowledge base, the task can be daunting. A lot of first time home buyers are uncertain how to start looking or who they can trust in the process. I offer a few suggestions below that may aid in the process.

Write It Down Write down what you are looking for in a property and what you would like to avoid. If you are buying with another person make your own lists and compare and contrast your needs.

Searches These days most home searches start on the internet where first time home buyers can go through many listings, virtual tours and photo albums. Look at maps and decide which areas you would consider and or avoid. Once you start looking at homes you can cross off areas you find don’t meet your needs. Drive around the areas you think you may want to live and commute from.

Finances If you’re uncertain about the lending process and what you can afford, go talk to an expert. Most banks have loan officers who will sit down with you and talk about your finances free of charge. This is the time to ask questions and determine what monthly mortgage you would be comfortable paying. The loan officer can also show you different loan programs that you qualify for with the best interest rate. Shop around for the best rate and loan options just know when you get serious about a home you must have a lender lined up. A lender will be writing your pre approval letter which you will submit with any offer on a property.

Realtors Referrals, referrals, referrals! If you’re on the search for a Realtor ask your friends, coworkers and family members for referrals. Chances are if they were happy with their Realtor you might be too. If you’re not from the area and can’t obtain a referral from someone who lives in the area go on the internet. Make sure you look at their websites, blogs and or social media pages to determine how well they know the area. Once you pick a Realtor, make your needs known and be honest if you don’t care for certain properties.

If you find this small bit of information helpful I would love to help you find your first home!

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 kamber.a.petty@gmail.com or 571-299-8307.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 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.

Northern Virginia 2014 Spring Market Shows No Signs of Stopping

We’re headed into the summer market with the same low inventory, steady stream of buyers and ever increasing prices. Is this safe? Are we setting ourselves up for another down turn of the market?

For the first time home buyer  its been an increasingly rough market to purchase the home of their dreams. We’re seeing move-in ready properties receive multiple offers in less than 24 hours. Escalation addendums are almost always a must and not only are our clients biting their nails so are the real estate agents. Key things for first time home buyers:

  • Pre-approval letter from a Bank of your choice. Feel free to shop around to see what is out there. You’re not picking your loan just yet but certain institutions might have credits for first time home buyers.
  • Learn your numbers. Know your credit scores and what you can afford. Do not burden yourself with a large mortgage even though a loan officer tells you can afford more. If you’re just figuring this out after you have a ratified contract then you’ve put yourself and your agent in a bad spot.
  • Hire a Realtor you have a good feeling about. Maybe it’s a referral from a coworker or a family member. Remember you will be spending a lot of time with them. If you’re a young couple, a Real Estate Veteran in their fifties might not be the right match up.
  • It’s okay to say NO! Tell your Realtor right away if you don’t like something. It won’t hurt our feelings but it will help us to understand where you’re coming from.
  • After you receive a ratified contract continually check in with your Realtor and Loan Officer to assure that everything is on track. If they are doing their jobs then the process will have a lot less hiccups. Answer all emails and phone calls right away to assure that all items arrive on time.
  • Part of putting an offer on a home is enclosing an Earnest Money Deposit. The Earnest Money Deposit is anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000 depending on the property size. The check will be deposited in a non-interest bearing account with your Real Estate Broker once you have a ratified contract. These monies will go towards your closing cost/down payment at settlement.
  • Other fees that will come up during the home buying process will be the cost of a Home Inspection, Radon Testing and Appraisal. All these will be due at the time of service. Check with your Realtor and Lender for current fees.
  • Expect a few issues right before settlement. It doesn’t always happen but you never know. Don’t get angry just ask how it can be rectified so you can make it to closing. Don’t get frustrated with the lender if they ask you for another document. Remember they are taking a gamble on you to loan you hundreds of thousands of dollars so it doesn’t hurt for them to want a little more information before you sit down to sign the documents.

If you’re a seller in this market and your home is in decent condition and a nice location you’re not having to wait long for that first contract. We’re seeing seller’s agents waiting a few days to review offers with their clients to ensure they are receiving the highest and best contract. Open Houses are being canceled due to multiple offers being received before the end of a weekend. In high trafficked areas I’ve seen Open Houses being conducted during the week while the sellers are at work so as not to interrupt their weekend. A few things sellers must take into account:

  • People will be coming to your home during the hours that you set with your Realtor. Make sure things are tidy and any pets are set up with notes on how to handle interactions with the pets. The more people see the home the better chance you’ll receive an offer. 
  • Don’t be greedy! Remember you were that young person on the other side of the table once too. Take in account that this is a business transaction but in the end someone is taking a chance on buying your home and are hoping to get a great home in the end.
  • You may think your home is in mint condition but in reality it might need a few fixes. If you know of anything that might need some repair have it done before it goes on the market. You can be sure that the home inspector will find it and the buyer will want it repaired before settlement.
  • Once on the market don’t get upset about an offer that might come in low. Just counter back with what you would like for the property. If it works out then you can move towards settlement. If it doesn’t work out there will always be another.

In response to the multiple offers buyer’s agents are offering their clients the option of passing on a  typical Home Inspection and conducting an informational Home Inspection. With the informational Home Inspection a buyer has the right to bring in a Home Inspector but not ask for any fixes to occur at the seller’s cost. Is it risky? Maybe, the Home Inspection is treated as a pass or fail situation. The other risk that some buyers are taking is dropping the appraisal contingency and rolling the dice that the property will appraise for the ratified contract price. If you’re flush with cash this is not a problem but a young buyer may not want to take this risk. This risk would force the young buyer to use more cash at settlement they may not have in the bank if the appraisal comes in low.

Now that I’ve scared you with all this current information let me tell you that my clients have been getting some really nice homes at pretty good prices. Patience is key. A property will eventually come along and at the right price. True North Realty’s Motto is Success is Client Satisfaction which means we will work hard till you find the right property at the right price and all the way to the settlement table.

 

**Just my opinion on today’s real estate market…..:)

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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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.