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Purchasing Your First Home - 5 Steps to Get You Started!

by Desi Sowers

Buying your first house is a monumental milestone in life.  It’s likely the largest financial commitment you will have made up to this point.  You want to get it right.  Here is a basic overview of five essential things you need to know when taking this step.

- Hire a Realtor.  Having a Realtor will save you time.  They can send you listings directly from the MLS that fit your wants/needs and you won’t waste time looking at properties that might already be under contract. Realtors are also often aware of new listings that are not yet on the market.  And while house hunting, there is no point in wasting your gas when an agent will pick you up and provide transportation.  The advice you will receive from a qualified Realtor will be invaluable in the buying process.
 

- Figure out what you’re looking for.  Searching for the right home can be overwhelming, especially if you’re not even sure what you want.  Come up with a list of must-haves and desires that you can present to your Realtor so that they can provide listings that fit those parameters.
 

- Get a loan.  It is smart to get loan pre-approval prior to making an offer on a house…especially in a seller’s market where you may be competing with other buyers. Sellers want assurance that you will be able to complete the purchase of the home.
 

- Negotiate the offer. Don’t make the mistake of comparing the sale price to other homes you have seen because the truth is, sellers can ask any amount they want for a house.  Your agent can provide you with comparable sales of similar houses in the same condition and location over the past few months. Keep in mind that you may have to pay more than the list price in a seller's market.
 

- Do a home inspection. Some states will allow you to have a home inspection prior to making an offer on a home. In other states, the inspection becomes a contract contingency, meaning the buyer has the right to cancel the contract.  Either way, you don’t want to get locked into purchasing a home that has a faulty foundation, for example.

Remember, you don’t have to do this alone! Contact Desi Sowers at 540-320-1328 to help you find your first home today!

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Buying-or-Selling-a-Home-Ten-Reasons-to-Hire-a-Professional-Realtor-Today

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Finding-Your-Dream-Home-Tips-for-Success

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Home-Inspections-are-Important-Heres-Why

Don’t be Shocked by the Unexpected Costs of Buying a Home

by Desi Sowers

Buying your first home is exciting.  After getting approved for a mortgage loan, working with a professional Realtor and finding your dream home, it’s time to settle in and start enjoying your new digs.  Then BAM!  The shock of an unexpected expense slaps you in the face.  Don’t let that happen to you.  Being informed about the possible expenses of being a homeowner will not make spending the money any more fun, but at least you will be prepared.  Here are some ancillary costs of homeownership that you should be aware of:

 - CLOSING COSTS - When closing on your mortgage you will be presented with a long list of costs: mortgage taxes, lender application fees, attorney’s fees, title insurance, recording fees and any potential real estate tax reimbursements if the seller has paid them up front.  Altogether, closing costs are an average of 2 to 5 percent of the total cost of the home.  They will vary state to state.  Closing cost information for Virginia can be found here.

 - HOME MAINTENANCE - Now that you are a homeowner, you are solely responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of your property.  Everything from yardwork to cleaning; pressure washing to clearing the gutters…it’s all in your hands and on your dime.  Oh…and fixing things.  Yeah.  When the AC isn’t working or there is a leaky faucet, you will be footing the bill for repairs.  This all sounds a bit scary, but the key is to be prepared.  Go into your home purchase knowing that you will likely be spending about 1% of the purchase price of your home on maintenance annually.

 - PROPERTY TAXES - Property taxes vary by state and can also vary based on city, ordinance, and even specific house.  You can utilize a Property Tax Calculator to get an idea of what your taxes will be when planning for your expenses.

 - UTILITIES - If you’re coming from a rental where your utilities were included with the rent, you may not have considered how much you will need to set aside to pay for electricity, gas, water and sewage costs.  Added to internet, cable and phone bills, it can be quite a chunk of change.  Planning for utility costs is crucial to making sure you can afford to live in a home of your own.

 - HOMEOWNER’S INSURANCE - When you get a mortgage, you must get homeowner's insurance as well.  Be sure to do your homework and shop around for the best possible price.  You can get discounts for things like security systems, working from home or bundling coverage for your home with your auto insurance policy.  Educate yourself on what your insurance policy covers so that you’re not left disappointed when you must pay for something you thought would be taken care of.

Don’t let these expenses scare you off from purchasing a home.  Again, the key is to be aware of them going in so that you won’t be caught unawares when they come up.

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Buying-or-Selling-a-Home-Ten-Reasons-to-Hire-a-Professional-Realtor-Today

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Finding-Your-Dream-Home-Tips-for-Success

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Home-Inspections-are-Important-Heres-Why

With the internet making information about selling and buying homes so readily available, some may wonder if they need to hire a Realtor. The answer to that is YES!  And here are the top ten reasons why:

      1. Education & Experience

There is ample information on the internet about diseases and medications too, but I would bet that if you were sick you would seek out a trained medical doctor to help you.  If you hire a real estate professional, you don’t need to know everything about the housing market or the ins and outs of selling or buying a home.  It is simply the smart thing to do to hire someone who knows more than you do!

      2. Your Agent is Your Intermediary

Agents take the spam out of your property showings.  If you’re looking to purchase a newly built home, your Realtor will keep builders’ agents from overwhelming you. If you’re selling, your Realtor will help you avoid wasting your time with “lookie loos” who aren’t really interested in purchasing and keep the focus on serious buyers.

     3. Neighborhood Knowledge

Realtors make it their duty to either have intimate knowledge about the neighborhoods in their area or to know where to find that information.  They can provide comparable sales information and tell you where to find a plethora of demographic material about the neighborhood, such as data about schools and crime.  They also have access to information regarding other homes for sale in the area and can use that knowledge to help you be competitive whether pricing your house to sell or bidding on a house to buy.

     4. Price Guidance

Realtors don’t select prices for buyers and sellers, but they can help guide them to make intelligent choices for themselves.  They will supply data regarding current market supply and demand conditions that will assist both buyers and seller with pricing negotiations.

      5. Market Conditions

A lot of time and energy can be saved by allowing Realtors to impact their knowledge regarding current market conditions.  Yes, you can probably research it yourself, but do you truly want to spend your time doing that? This type of information will have a large impact on what you ultimately decide to do. 

     6. Professional Networking

With a competent Realtor, clients will have an “in” with other professionals they may need to buy or sell.  Legal liability will keep agents from recommending certain individuals or companies over others, but they know which vendors have reputations for efficiency, competency and competitive pricing.  So, they can provide a list of references with whom they have worked and assist you in making a wise selection.

    7. Negotiation Skills & Confidentiality

Top producing Realtors are great negotiators because unlike buyers and sellers, they are not emotionally driven. In addition, they have negotiation skills that make them excel at their job. They are professionally trained to represent their clients’ best interests and to keep information confidential from competing interests.

    8. Paperwork!

Today’s real estate purchase agreements can run ten pages or more. That’s a lot of paperwork. One tiny mistake can land you in court or cost you thousands of dollars. Avoid the risk and allow a professional to guide you through the process!

    9. Questions After Closing

A smooth closing transaction doesn’t always mean that there won’t be complications later.  There might questions that were overlooked in the excitement of closing on a home. A reputable agent will be there by your side even after the sale is complete to answer any questions that come up.

   10. Relationship Development

Successful real estate professionals depend upon referrals for continued business. This gives them strong incentive to make their clients happy and satisfied. And it also means that your Realtor will be there for you if and when you are ready to sell or buy again. Don’t be surprised to receive periodic updates from your Realtor in the mail.

If you’re thinking about buying or selling a home in The New River Valley, contact Desi Sowers to help you with all your real estate needs!

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Home-Inspections-are-Important-Heres-Why

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Debunking-the-20-Down-Payment-Myth

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Help-for-First-Time-Homebuyers

View the Tour

 

Welcome to Senneca Springs in Christiansburg VA where homes match the taste and lifestyle of anyone who loves low maintenance living. The Rendition Grande model offers main level living, Timberlake cabinets, a brick/vinyl façade with stucco accents, hardwood flooring, vaulted ceilings, arched doorways, granite counters, tiled backsplash, stainless appliances, recessed lighting and two car garage. Gorgeous open floor plan offers comfort and quality to meet today’s busy lifestyle with a living, kitchen and dining room combination plus a large sunroom. The HOA features lawn maintenance, snow removal and common area maintenance. Only minutes from Blacksburg with the charm of country living and a small-town feel, yet just minutes to VT, hospitals, shopping and Huckleberry Trail.  Come see this new home! View The Floor Plan

You don’t have to just visit; you can live here and enjoy Virginia’s growing economy and vacation-like lifestyle! With easy access to I-81 you can appreciate a prime example of why New River Valley VA is such a desired place to live and play. This Christiansburg VA home is just steps to shopping, nightlife, VA Tech and recreational activities.

Desi Sowers has distinguished herself as a leader in the New River Valley real estate market. Desi assists buyers looking for New River Valley real estate for sale and aggressively markets New River Valley homes for sale. 

Desi brings with her a keen eye for the details of buying or selling a New River Valley home and seemingly boundless determination and energy, which is why her clients benefit from her unique brand of real estate service. Rooted in Tradition, Focused on the Future – Desi Sowers will help make the most of your New River Valley real estate experience. Give her a call today, 540-320-1328, and discover the difference she can make during your family's move.

Finding Your Dream Home: Tips for Success

by Desi Sowers

With interest rates still relatively low, but expected to rise in 2018, now is the time to start your search for a new home.  Here are some tips to help you find your dream home:

 - Make a list of priorities.  Ideally, your dream home would have everything you want in it, but it’s still a good idea to make a list of what you want in order of importance to you. What are you most concerned about?  Location? Square footage?  Private backyard? You may have to give up one thing to get another, so you want to be prepared with your priorities so you will know what is non-negotiable for you.  Also, think about desires verses needs when making your list.  For example, a home might not have the vaulted ceilings that you love, but meets your needs and wants in every other way. Those vaulted ceilings are a “want” more than a “need”.

 - Think ahead.  How long do you plan to live in the home?  If you are single or newly married you may want a starter home that you will only stay in for a few years while you save for a larger home.  But if you are expanding your family or planning to work from home, make sure you factor in the space that you will need.  Don’t buy a house that will only suit your needs for a year if you think you may live there for ten years.  There is always the chance that things will change, but plan for what you know for sure now.

 - Decide on your “most lived in” spaces. Where do you spend the most time in your current home?  If you love to cook, chances are the kitchen is going to be the most important room for you.  If you are a homebody who likes to kick back and watch movies, your den or family room might be the room to focus on.  It might be challenging to find a home where you love every room, but you can give a little on the others if the one you use the most is perfect for you.

 - Stick to your budget.  While searching for your dream home, it may be tempting to extend your budget a bit. Don’t do it. A standard goal is to keep your mortgage payment (with taxes and insurance included) at around 25% of your monthly household income.  Make sure that you have looked at your overall monthly budget to see what you can really afford, and then limit your house hunting to properties in your price range.  Refrain from looking at houses 1-2 price ranges above yours. You don’t want to get excited about a property that you can’t afford. In addition, once you have seen them, the houses that you can afford won’t look as good in comparison.  The exception is that if it is a buyer’s market, you might be able to negotiate a lower price, so it is ok to look at homes just slightly above your budget.

 - Decide if you want to do renovations or if you want a move-in ready home.  If you are handy, you might see a diamond in the rough that you want to fix up yourself.  Make sure if you do this that you are not shopping at the top of your price range because you will need extra funds for doing the renovation.

 - Try to see through the “ugly”.  It’s easier said than done for some people, but try not to just pass on a home because of cosmetic reasons.  Look at the bones of the house and imagine its potential. Focus on layout and flow rather than paint and décor.  If it’s the right home for you, cosmetic changes are easy and will give you the opportunity to make the home your own.

 - Don’t give up!  It might take a while to find exactly what you want.  Be patient and don’t settle for something just because you’re tired of looking.  You never know when just the right house will go on the market.  It will be worth the wait when you move into the home of your dreams!

 

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Open-Floor-Plans-Love-Them-or-Leave-Them

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Home-Inspections-are-Important-Heres-Why

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Investing-in-Real-Estate-Tips-for-Success

A Home for the Holidays: 5 Reasons to Buy Now!

by Desi Sowers

Buying a home in the midst of the holiday season might sound like a crazy idea, but the truth is there are good reasons to purchase a home this time of year.  Here are 5 good reasons to purchase a home during the holidays:

- Less Real Estate Market Activity - With lots of family, school and work activities happening during the holidays, fewer real estate transactions are taking place.  Because fewer people are looking for houses, there is less competition for buyers.  And with less competition, buyers have more leverage when negotiating purchases.  People selling homes during the holidays must often lower asking prices or make other concessions to sell.  So, if you buy this time of year, you might get a bargain!

- Highly Motivated Sellers:  If someone is selling their house at the end of the year, it’s because they need to.  Usually sellers avoid the end of the year due to shorter days and cold weather, so if they are selling this time of year they are likely under pressure and motivated to make a deal.

- Lower Interest Rates: Because of limited demand during the holiday season, there is greater competition among lenders so there is a general trend of lower rates. 

- Tax Perks: Buy a house before the end of the year and you can deduct any points you paid upon closing.  You can also deduct property taxes and mortgage interest.  Learn about the tax benefits of purchasing a home and find out if it is to your advantage to buy before year’s end. While your decision to buy a home shouldn’t be made solely for tax reasons, you certainly want to take advantage of the perks that exist!

- Faster Closings: Everybody involved in the home buying/selling process has incentive to complete transactions before the end of the year.  Lenders want to close their books, Realtors want to receive their commissions before the new year and sellers are anxious to move on.  Since everyone is so motivated, and there is less real estate activity, closings should happen quickly and efficiently.

So, if you’re thinking of buying a house anytime soon, don’t wait for the holidays to be over. Contact Desi Sowers at 540-320-1328 and start your home search today!

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Selling-to-Millennial-Homebuyers

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Debunking-the-20-Down-Payment-Myth

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Help-for-First-Time-Homebuyers

View the Tour

Barely lived in this comfortable home was new in 2015.  Enjoy the Kingston floorplan with high ceilings, laminate wood floors, tiled floors, recessed lighting, granite and a 2 car garage is sure to impress. Entertain guests in the stylish great room. Gorgeous granite countertops, quality cabinetry and stainless steel appliances highlight the gourmet kitchen. Fabulous flex space with tons of natural lighting is ideal for home office or sunroom. Soothing master suite with plush carpeting, walk in closet and a private bathroom. HOA covers snow removal, lawn and common area maintenance.  Conveniently located with a quick commute to Blacksburg and just 3 miles to New River Valley Mall.   A super buy for all the amenities this ranch home offers! Call today!

You don’t have to just visit; you can live here and enjoy Virginia’s growing economy and vacation-like lifestyle! With easy access to I-81 you can appreciate a prime example of why New River Valley VA is such a desired place to live and play. This Christiansburg VA home is just steps to shopping, nightlife, VA Tech and recreational activities.

Desi Sowers has distinguished herself as a leader in the New River Valley real estate market. Desi assists buyers looking for New River Valley real estate for sale and aggressively markets New River Valley homes for sale. 

Desi brings with her a keen eye for the details of buying or selling a New River Valley home and seemingly boundless determination and energy, which is why her clients benefit from her unique brand of real estate service. Rooted in Tradition, Focused on the Future – Desi Sowers will help make the most of your New River Valley real estate experience. Give her a call today, 540-320-1328, and discover the difference she can make during your family's move.

 

How to Prevent Electrical Hazards in Your Home

by Desi Sowers

Electricity is a beautiful thing.  It provides warmth in the winter and cools you off during hot summer months. It gives you light in the dark and makes chores like washing/drying clothes and doing dishes so much easier.  You take it for granted because you’ve always had it and you certainly can’t even imagine what life would be like without it.  Because it is such a normal part of your life, you probably don’t stop to think about how dangerous it can be.  It is important to be educated about possible electrical problems in your home so that you will know how to deal with them before they happen.

  1. Do you know how old your home is?  Often older homes don’t have the capacity for electricity that current technology uses.  If you have never had an electrical safety inspection by a professional, now is the time to do so.  If your home’s electrical wiring has not been updated to safely handle all the current that your family uses, it is crucial to have it done .
  2. Is your electrical panel hot to the touch?  It shouldn’t be.  Check the brand of your panel. Several brands are outdated or faulty and should be replaced.  A faulty electrical panel can lead to a fire.  That is not something anyone should risk.
  3. Outlets should not be hot either.  If you feel an electrical outlet and it is warm or hot, it means there could be a problem.  There are dangerous issues indicated by a warm/hot outlet. Whether it’s too much demand on the outlet, faulty or melting wiring, or other precarious situations, you don’t want to ignore it.
  4. Keep plugged in appliances away from water.  This seems obvious, right?  But sometimes limited space forces us to use electrical appliances near sinks or bathtubs.  Whether you are blow-drying your hair at your bathroom vanity or your kitchen only has one plug for your toaster and it’s right by the sink, be extra careful.  If a plugged-in appliance gets wet, don’t unplug it. Go to your electrical panel and unplug the power source for the outlet you’re using.  Then you can unplug it.
  5. Make sure you are using the correct wattage light bulbs.  Using a higher wattage than can safely be accommodated by a lamp or light fixture may overload its wiring, which is a fire hazard.  It’s ok to use a light bulb with wattage equal to or less than that called for on the lamp’s socket.  If you want brighter light, look for a lamp that uses a higher wattage bulb.
  6. Use an experienced, licensed electrician to handle your home’s electrical repairs and/or replacements.  Professional electricians are well-trained and have years of on-the-job experience before being granted a license.  They will know current codes and regulations and can safely navigate any problems they might come across.

It’s easy to prevent electrical hazards if you are informed and educated about what to be aware of.  So, don’t take electricity or your family’s safety for granted!

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/The-Aging-of-Your-House-How-Long-Will-It-Last

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Home-Maintenance-for-Winter

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Four-steps-to-protect-your-home-from-winter-water-damage

Open Floor Plans: Love Them or Leave Them?

by Desi Sowers

Watch any of the home renovation or buying/selling shows on HGTV and you will hear people asking for open floor plans. Even in small houses, people want the feel of spaciousness that an open floor plan provides.  A “great room” with no wall between the kitchen and living space seems to be the most popular choice when it comes to floor plan considerations.  But is it the best choice for everyone?  Let’s look at the pros and cons of the open floor plan and see if it’s the right decision for you and your family.

Pros:

  • You won’t feel isolated.  If you are cooking or doing dishes in a kitchen that flows into the family room,  you will be able to chat with family and friends or continue watching television instead of being stuck in a closed off room by yourself.
  • You will be able to keep an eye on the kids.  A great room with no walls allows you to watch your kids at play while you are cooking or cleaning.
  • More natural light.  Without interior walls, sunlight will flow through the house from the exterior wall windows.  You will also have an unobstructed view of the great outdoors.
  • Ideal for entertaining.  When you have guests over, they can congregate throughout the great room, so you won’t miss anything if you are in the kitchen cooking and serving food.

Cons:

  • Lack of privacy.  If your household includes people of various ages on a multitude of different schedules, an open floor plan can make things challenging.  For example, if your teenager wants to have friends over for a study group at the kitchen table, but you want to watch a movie.  Or perhaps you want to read quietly on the couch, but your daughter’s having a sleepover and they want to have pizza and bake cookies.  A separate, enclosed kitchen may be better for some families.
  • Limited wall space. Placing furniture in an open space is tricky sometimes, especially if you have a lot of windows.  And if you are an art lover, you are going to want blank walls for displaying your treasures.
  • Overwhelming mess.  Smaller, enclosed rooms are easier to keep neat and tidy.  With open floor plans, stuff tends to spread out.  And you may not want kids’ toys in your main living space, so a smaller, enclosed room might be your preference for a play area.
  • Too noisy.  With an open plan, there are more acoustics, therefore noise travels further. A quiet conversation in the kitchen may not be possible with the television on across the way.

Remember, just because something is popular, doesn’t mean it’s right for you.  Think about what is going to suit your family’s needs before starting your home search.

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Selling-to-Millennial-Homebuyers

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Welcome-to-the-New-River-Valley

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Help-for-First-Time-Homebuyers

Home Inspections are Important: Here’s Why

by Desi Sowers

With all the fees and expenses involved in purchasing a home, it may be tempting to skip the home inspection to avoid spending the money.  But in the long run, it may cost you more to skip it.  Home inspections sometimes reveal things that ultimately could have cost you way more than the fee involved.

While you might believe the sellers are being honest about the condition of the home, it’s important not to take their word for it.  Truthfully, they probably are being honest.  But they don’t necessarily see what could be “wrong” with the house any more than you do.  That’s why you need an expert to come in and do the inspection. They can find things that never would be noticed by the naked eye because they know what to look for. Home inspectors can also give you advice and things to look out for in the future. With that information, you have an idea of how to prepare for potential costs down the road.

A home inspection can be a deal breaker as well.  For example, if sellers offer a discounted price or cash back for skipping the inspection, that is a huge red flag!  Walk away from the deal.   A home inspection only takes a few hours and is paid for by buyers, so there is no reason sellers should protest unless there are critical issues in the home they know about and are trying to hide.

When hiring a home inspector, you want someone with many years of experience and proper certifications and licenses. You also want someone who will be thorough…willing to go through the basement, attic and up on the roof to check out every nook and cranny of the home.  It’s important to gather as much information about the house as possible so that you know what you are getting in to.

It is not mandatory for you to be present for the inspection, but it’s a good idea to be there.  Some inspectors are happy to have you walk along with them and ask questions as you go.  Others will want to do the inspection on their own and then have you do a walk through with them after they are done.  Either way, be sure to look carefully through the report they give you and ask as many questions as you want.  Remember that you are paying for their time, so don’t hesitate to have them go over the report with you so that you have a clear understanding of it.

Even if your inspection comes up clean, the fee you pay is worth the price to have peace of mind. Include it in your home-buying budget and don’t think of it as an “extra” expense.  It is a crucial element of your decision in purchasing the home and paying a $450 fee and finding nothing wrong is better than skipping it and ending up having to replace your roof for $3000! 

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Investing-in-Real-Estate-Tips-for-Success

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Help-for-First-Time-Homebuyers

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Buying-a-Home-is-a-Sound-Financial-Investment

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