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Now is a Great Time to be a Move-Up Homebuyer!

by Desi Sowers

We hear a lot about people downsizing and simplifying, but if you are looking for a larger home, now is a great time to sell your smaller home and move up to something that better suits your wants and needs.  Perhaps you have a growing family and need more space, or an additional income-earner has joined your household or maybe you have enough equity in your current home that you can now afford your dream home. Whatever the reason,movin’ on up is an exciting prospect!

Ok, now let’s contain that excitement a bit and think about what it means to purchase a more expensive house.  First, just because you can afford something on paper, doesn’t mean you should commit all your resources to the most expensive property on your radar.  It would behoove you to take a thorough look at your current budget and then play with the numbers a bit to determine how much more you’re willing to spend each month on a higher mortgage payment.  A dream house is wonderful, but being house-poor is not.  Think about your lifestyle and don’t make the mistake of getting into a financial bind that doesn’t allow you to do the activities you enjoy.

When financing your new home, you have a couple of options.  If you haven’t sold your current home yet, you can choose a Home Equity Loan or a Bridge Loan to make the down payment on the new home.  A home equity loan allows you to borrow against your current home’s equity and is usually less expensive than other loans.  A bridge loan is a short-term loan that is used until you can obtain permanent financing.  Because they are short term, the interest rates on them will be relatively high.

Before you put your house on the market and commit to purchasing a new one, educate yourself about the prices of houses in the areas where you will be selling and buying. Whether it’s a buyer’s market or a seller’s market, a Professional Realtor will be able to assist you in navigating the process.  The goal is to sell high and buy low, and in today’s market that is an achievable dream!

Contact Desi Sowers at 540-320-1328 and let her help you list your current home and find your dream house today!

It’s Cookout Time! How to Clean Your Gas Grill

by Desi Sowers

Spring has sprung and for many families, that means it’s cookout time!  One of the best things about cooking out on the grill is that there are fewer pots and pans to wash than with stovetop cooking.  While you don’t have to scrub down your gas grill to shiny perfection after each use, it is important to give it a deep clean every now and then to make sure it runs safely and efficiently.  Here’s how!

  • Gather your cleaning supplies - You may want to use gloves and you will need a grill brush or some other type of cleaning brush.  You will also need old cleaning rags or paper towels, a bristle brush or putty knife, and soap and water.
     
  • Turn off the gas supply - This is very important!  Make sure the gas supply is turned off or play it extra safe and remove the gas tank from the grill while cleaning it.
     
  • Remove the grill grates - Pull them out so you can give them a thorough cleaning. Scrub them with a grill brush or other coarse brush.
     
  • Clean anything covering the burners - Remove any V-shaped metal heat tents, ceramic briquettes, or lava stones that cover the burners and brush them clean.  You will want all the Gas Grill Parts to be spic and span.
     
  • Clean the burner tubes - Lightly brush the burner tubes and make sure all the gas ports are clean and open.
     
  • Clean the bottom of the grill and the lid - Brush or wipe any debris out of the bottom of the grill. If there is peeling black stuff (usually carbon flakes and grease) on the grill lid or bottom, use a bristle brush or putty knife to scrape it off
     
  • Clean the grease collection tray - Use soap and water to clean the grease collection tray and replace any disposable pans as needed.  Make sure to dispose of grease properly - pour it into an empty can or bottle, wait for it to harden, then throw the whole thing away.
     
  • Wipe down the outside of the grill - With a rag or paper towel, wipe down the outside of the grill and any side trays using soap and water.
     
  • Put the grill back together - Now you’re ready for a cookout!!

Are you looking for a home with a great outdoor space for cookouts?  Desi Sowers is an experienced Realtor who can help you find just what you’re looking for. Give her a call at 540-320-1328 today!

Photo Credit: doityourself.com

Worth it or Not? Open House Anxiety

by Desi Sowers

Home owners and Realtors often debate whether having an open house is beneficial or not.  Some sellers will insist that having an open house is the best way to sell their home, while others will want nothing to do with having potential buyers traipse through their home.  Real estate professionals have different views on this topic as well.  Some swear by open houses and feel they are critical to sales, while others never hold them and some just have them occasionally.

So, the question remains…if you are selling your home, should you hold an open house?  Here is a list of pros and cons to help you make that decision:

Pros to holding an open house:

  • Attract buyers who may not know how to start the home buying process. Purchasing a home is a process that many people are not familiar with, especially first-time home buyers.  People new to home buying will need a significant amount of guidance and advice.  A positive that may result from having an open house is the possibility of a buyer who doesn’t know where to start coming to see your home.  You may also get the attention of potential buyers who just happen to drive by and see the sign for the open house. 
  • Additional exposure.  One of the most important jobs of a Realtor representing sellers, is making sure their clients’ home is getting ample exposure.  Open houses can give extra exposure through promotional advertising such as street signs, newspaper ads and internet ads.
  • Allows buyers to look at house without feeling pressured.   With the laid-back atmosphere of an open house, prospective buyers will feel more comfortable looking around with little to no pressure from the Realtor or seller.  An interested buyer might want time to analyze the home in detail without someone looking over their shoulder.  It also provides the buyer time to look at specific details of the home that will help them decide if it is the right house for them.

Cons to holding an open house:

  • Slim chance of a sale.  The truth is that a very small percentage of homes sell as a result of open houses.  Honestly, the person that benefits most is the realtor.  Open houses provide the realtor with potential clients.  Private showings of your home are much more likely to result in a buyer than open houses.
  • Unqualified buyers.  One of the first steps in the home buying process is obtaining a Mortgage Pre-Approval. Getting a mortgage pre-approval is essential for knowing what you can afford when buying a home.  At an open house, you may find many people walking through your home who can’t afford it.  It is a waste of time for you and your realtor to have people looking at your home when they cannot afford to possibly purchase it.
  • Nosy neighbors and Looky Loos. Open houses often attract inquisitive neighbors who simply want to see your house and compare it to their own.  They also might just want to see how you have your home decorated.  Looky loos are people who go to open houses with no intention of buying a home.  They just like to look!

The pros and cons of having an open house should be carefully considered before deciding whether to have one. With today’s technology and social media, there are a lot of other ways for people to see your home, but with the right Realtor holding the open house, it can still be the best way to impress potential buyers. If you’re thinking about putting your home on the market, contact Desi Sowers and let her explain how an open house can be beneficial for you.  Call her today at 540-320-1328!

Preparing Your Home to Sell this Spring

by Desi Sowers

Spring is the optimum time to sell a house.  In fact, according to a 2016 Zillow Study, homes listed between May 1 through May 15 sold, on average, around 18.5 days faster than homes not listed during this period.  Add this to the fact that the largest number of buyers are actively searching for homes in the months of April, May and June and you will see that getting a property on the market this time of year is a must! What Sellers Can Expect in 2018 is for the market to still be in their favor if the price is right. With inventory low and buyers competing for homes, sellers have the opportunity to get the best price possible for their homes.  Here are some tips that will help improve the odds of your house standing out among the plethora of homes that get put on the market in spring:

- Wash windows inside and out and polish all mirrors.  A little bit of sparkle goes a long way in impressing potential buyers

- Rake the yard and trim back bushes. Curb appeal is the first thing people will notice. Dead leaves and debris do not paint a pretty picture.  In addition, you want a much natural light as possible flooding through your windows, so make sure bushes aren’t blocking the rays.

- Mow the yard diagonally and edge along the driveway and sidewalks.  Mowing diagonally makes yards look larger. And edging shows that you give attention to small details. 

- Plant yellow flowers.  Yellow tulips and daffodils promote feelings of happiness and contentment.

Clean window treatments and open windows.  It will be worth your while to take down your drapes, curtains and blinds to clean them and give them a crisp, fresh look.  Weather permitting, opening windows lets the fresh air in and gives the whole house the feeling of spring.

- Have fresh, fragrant flowers in the house.  Artful home-staging brings color and pleasant aromas indoors.

Polish floors to a high gloss.  Make those floors shine!  Refinish them if necessary.

- Use light colors. Even if you must spend a little to replace items, towels, linens, throws and sofa pillows are inexpensive accents that will pay off.  In soft, spring colors such as yellows, pinks, pale blues and lavenders, they will light up a room.

- Spruce up your entryway.  This is the part of your home where buyers will get their first impression.  Make it a good one!

Contact Desi Sowers at 540-320-1328 and let her help you get your house listed and ready to sell this spring!

Photo Credit: realtor.com​

Nine Ways to Make the Outdoors More Enjoyable in Spring

by Desi Sowers

Spring is just around the corner and many people enjoy spending time outdoors to savor the warmer weather.  Unfortunately, there are some not-so-pleasant aspects of spending time outside such as bugs, rain and hot, humid days. Whether you have a deck, patio or a fancy She Shed, the following tips will help make the time you spend outside more comfortable in any situation:

  1. 1. BUGS.  Yuck.  Whether you are hosting an alfresco dinner party or just simply trying to relax with a good book on your deck, nothing will send you running back inside faster than nasty, annoying bugs.  If mosquitoes are a problem in your area, dealing with them is imperative if you want to be able to enjoy the outdoors.  Screening in a porch is an ideal way to be able to feel like you are outside without all the awful bug bites. Check out these screened porch ideas on Pinterest.  Other ways to keep insects away:
  • Do not keep any standing water on your property.  Even a single forgotten flowerpot full of rainwater can become a mosquito breeding ground.
  • Make water features running rather than standing, or treat them with Mosquito Dunks.
  • Install ceiling fans on porches - flies and mosquitoes do not like moving air.
     
  1. 2. USE OUTDOOR FABRICS IN EXPOSED AREAS.  If your porch is covered, you may be able to get away with using more delicate furniture and cushions not specifically made for outdoor use.  But if your seating area is exposed to the elements, you will want to invest in fabrics and furniture made for outside use.  They will likely be more expensive, but they won’t fade in the sun, will resist stains and are water resistant.  The cushions are stuffed with material that sheds water easily so that they won’t stay waterlogged if they get wet.
     
  2. 3. UTILIZE A STORAGE BENCH.  While outdoor cushions are designed to stand up to repeated soakings, they will still be wet for a while directly after a rainstorm.  You can avoid having to sit on damp cushions by keeping them in a covered storage bench when you know there is a chance of rain.  If they won’t fit in a storage bench, lean your larger cushions against the wall of the house.  Do the same with any lightweight folding chairs.
     
  3. 4. MASK SOUNDS WITH RUNNING WATER.  If noise is an issue that prevents you from indulging in a peaceful outdoor experience, try using a water feature to drown out the distraction.  Water is a great way to gently camouflage sounds from close neighbors.  Try installing a small fountain near your seating area for a more tranquil atmosphere.
     
  4. 5. MUSIC. If the water feature doesn’t appeal to you, soft music playing in the background can be just as effective at masking sounds.  With wireless speakers, you don’t even need an outlet to play your music.
     
  5. 6. SHADE.  Even when you are craving the warmth of the sun, sitting outside without any shade on a hot, sunny day will send you running for the AC before too long.  There are a lot of options for adding shade to your yard.  Try freestanding umbrellas, a cloth overhang, lattices, a shade tree or a pergola.
     
  6. 7. PUT TOGETHER AN OUTDOOR DINING KIT.  Dining alfresco will be easier if you have a kit ready and waiting.  Put your frequently used outdoor items in a basket or on a big tray with handles so you can just grab it and go.  Here are some things to include:
  • Unbreakable wineglasses and plates
  • A carafe for water, wine or tea
  • Big napkins
  • Candles and matches or a lighter
  • A wicker or mesh dome-shaped cover to keep flies off the food
  • Unbreakable outdoor serving pieces
  • A bottle opener
  1. 8. HAVE BLANKETS FOR CHILLY EVENINGS. Keep some blankets nearby.  Old wool camp-style blankets, light weight Kantha Blankets, or fringed throws work well.  Your guests will thank you on chilly evenings in the garden!
     
  2. 9. HAVE ADEQUATE NIGHTTIME LIGHTING.  Your outdoor space will really come alive at night with the right lighting.  Try placing lighting under a bench seat for subtle illumination, make a ring of lanterns on the grass around your dining table or hang strings of lights overhead.  Landscape lighting will add to the ambiance as well.

YOUR HOME SEARCH STARTS HERE             FIND OUT WHAT YOUR HOME IS WORTH 

Photo Credit: HGTV.com

Creating a Kitchen That is Timeless and Functional

by Desi Sowers

Have you been thinking about remodeling your kitchen, but you’re not sure where to start?  Kitchens are important to resale value, so if you’re going to invest money in a remodel, you want to be sure that you end up with a kitchen that will stand the test of time.  So, instead of following fads that are currently popular, stick with classic features that will not only bring you joy, but will entice buyers should you ever sell your home.  Here are some tips for creating a kitchen that is timeless and functional:

  1. Brighten up your kitchen using white as the dominant color. White is the most marketable color and never goes out of style. It is associated with happiness and new beginnings.  It makes small spaces look bigger.  And best of all, it’s easy on the budget due to its availability.
     
  2. Install hardwood flooring. Hardwood floors are popular among buyers.  Hardwood adds warmth and coziness to a home.  It’s great for open floor plans because it flows beautifully from one room to another. It’s durable and long-lasting. And if “going green” is important to you, hardwood is echo friendly.  It’s considered a “green” building material when it has been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council and comes from sustainably managed forests.
     
  3. Choose cabinets that have clean lines, like Shaker style cabinets.  The clean lines of these cabinets will be in style forever. Their beauty is in their simplicity.  They help limit the “busyness” of the kitchen, creating a soothing, peaceful vibe.  They also transition easily should the next homeowner want a change of style.  Whether you want a traditional or contemporary look, these cabinets will work for both.
     
  4. Go with marble countertops; specifically, Carrara Marble.  Carrara marble has been used in homes for centuries.  It looks fantastic in a white kitchen, but also with other colors. It’s affordable and readily available and will last for generations.  You will find some critics who will tell you that it stains easily, but that can be avoided with proper sealing. If you want a truly timeless look, Carrara marble is the way to go.
     
  5. Include smart storage.  If you currently store many of your kitchen supplies in other areas of the home due to lack of storage space, now is the time to change that!  Cabinets that are being made today feature a plethora of storage options including shelves and compartments that unfold, extend, slide and turn.  Have fun and be creative when designing kitchen storage

You will love your new kitchen and future potential buyers will find it irresistible!

YOUR HOME SEARCH STARTS HERE                 FIND OUT WHAT YOUR HOME IS WORTH  

 

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Five Top Home Décor Trends for 2018

by Desi Sowers

We are over a month into the new year and spring is approaching.  If you are thinking about changing your home décor, now is a great time to do it, before warmer weather and longer days make you want to head outdoors.  Here are five home décor trends that are popular this year:

  1. Iridescent Accents: If you’re renovating your kitchen or bathroom, don’t be afraid to add a little shimmer!  Iridescent tiles bring sparkle to the room!  Iridescent accents such as photo frames and small vases can be placed in other parts of the house as well.


Photo Credit: Flickr

  1. Fringe:  That’s right, fringe!  It’s going to be huge this year. Fringe on items such as lamp shades, blankets and curtains will add a little fun to your décor.  How to Decorate with Fringe


Photo Credit: Amazon

  1. Classic Books:  Add a vintage vibe to your shelves by decorating with old, classic books.  You might have some in your home already, but if you don’t you can find some here


Photo Credit: liwenyun.me

  1. Cement Texture for Walls & Floors: Add a utilitarian edge to your home by either exposing cement floors, counters or walls.  No cement to be exposed? Don’t worry!  You can paint a wall to look like concrete! Learn more about Paint Colors That Sell!



Photo Credit: My Vintage Porch

  1. Typography: The written word is still “in” for 2018.  Signs with favorite quotes or poems or even single words offer a simple way to express yourself in your home décor.  If you can’t find what you’re looking for, you can make your own!


Photo Credit: The White Hydrangea Company

These are just a few of many home décor ideas that are trending this year! Read my blog to learn more about home trends and tips for 2018!

YOUR HOME SEARCH STARTS HERE            FIND OUT WHAT YOUR HOME IS WORTH  

Saving Money: Lowering Your Electric Bill

by Desi Sowers

With all the expenses of being a homeowner, we all want to cut back where we can to lower costs. There are several ways to save on your electric bill.  Try these tips and you’ll find a lower bill in your mailbox next month!

  • Get an Energy Audit - Check and see if your utility company offers a free home energy audit.  If so, it’s well worth it to have them come out.  They can point out areas where you can trim your energy use.
     
  • Install Dimmer Switches - Dimmer switches will allow you to only use as much light as you need.
     
  • Keep Your Fridge & Freezer Full - The food that you store in your fridge and freezer serves as insulation, so the more you have in there, the less your appliance must run to keep itself cold.
     
  • Install Ceiling Fans - If you keep the air circulating in your home, your AC will not have to work as hard to keep the house cool.
     
  • Line Dry Your Laundry - Let Mother Nature dry your clothes for you on warm, sunny days.  When that is not possible, try using a drying rack indoors.
     
  • Eliminate Phantom Loads - You may be shocked to know that about 75% of the energy used by home electronics is consumed when they are turned off. Some examples of these “phantom” users are: televisions, CD players, computers, and various kitchen appliances. The simple solution is to plug these items into a power strip and then turn the power strip off when not using them.
     
  • Install an Attic Fan - An attic fan will pull cool air into your home, and help to remove hot air.
     
  • Shield Your Home from the Sun - You can cut down on air conditioning use by closing your curtains and blinds on the sunny side of the house.  You may also want to consider planting trees that will provide shade during the sunny times of the day.
     
  • Schedule Yearly HVAC Maintenance - Having your HVAC inspected and cleaned each year will save you money in the long run…and it will help provide cleaner air to your home.
     
  • Change Your Filters Regularly - Filters should be changed every 30 days to keep your HVAC running at peak efficiency.
     
  • Switch to LEDs - LED light bulbs use 90 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs.  Switch out the bulbs you use the most in your home and then change the rest as they burn out.
     
  • Lower the Temperature of Your Hot Water Heater - 13% of your home’s energy goes to heating water. You can lower this percentage by setting your hot water heater to 130-14 degrees.

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/How-to-Prevent-Electrical-Hazards-in-Your-Home

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

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

Photo Credit: YouTube.com

Everything You Need to Know About Choosing a Storage Unit

by Desi Sowers

Whether you are downsizing and need a storage unit to hold belongings you don’t have room for in your home, or you are putting your house on the market and need to store extraneous items so you can stage your rooms to sell, you want to choose one that will best suit your needs while keeping your valued possessions safe and secure.  Here are some questions to ask before choosing a storage unit:

- What are you looking for in a storage unit?  Do you need a large or small one?  A storage until manager can help determine what size unit you need if you provide a list of items you intend to store there.  Will you want climate control?  Units with climate control are more expensive, but if you are storing delicate items, it will be worth the extra cost to keep them safe should temperatures greatly fluctuate.

- What is the condition of the facility?  Observe the facility to see if it is kept clean and tidy.  Ask about pest control and look for any evidence of infestations. Make sure there are loading docks and equipment available to you and that there is sufficient parking near the units.  Check it out at night to see if it is well-lit.  Ask how many units are currently rented. If the number is low, that is a red flag indicating that something might be wrong.

- Where is the storage facility located?  Will it be convenient for you to get there? Storage facilities located in highly populated areas tend to be more expensive than those in more remote areas.  If you are storing things long term and won’t be visiting the unit frequently, choosing one located in a remote area may be less expensive for you. But if you are going to need access to your things on a regular basis, you will want one that is located close to where you live or work.

 - What are the business hours of the facility?  Not all storage facilities are open 24/7.  You will want to make sure that you can get into your storage unit during hours that suit your needs.  Find out if their business hours work with your schedule or if they offer on-demand access.

 - What kind of security do they have?  The fact that you are willing to pay to store your belongings means that they have value to you.  You want them protected.  A well-run storage unit facility should have at least some of the following security features:

  • surveillance system that includes cameras and alarms
  • a strong fence surrounding entire facility
  • a gate that only provides access to people authorized to be there
  • security guards
  • smoke detectors, fire alarms and sprinkler systems
  • well-constructed units built with safety and security in mind (good ventilation to prevent mildew, raised floors in case of flooding, solid doors with strong locks) 

- What is the condition of the facility?  Observe the facility to see if it is kept clean and tidy.  Ask about pest control and look for any evidence of infestations. Make sure there are loading docks and equipment available to you and that there is sufficient parking near the units.  Check it out at night to see if it is well-lit.  Ask how many units are currently rented. If the number is low, that is a red flag indicating that something might be wrong.

 - Do they offer theft and damage insurance coverage for your possessions?  For peace of mind, it is important that they do.

The most important thing to remember is that you should never choose as storage facility without seeing it in person first.  Visit a few and take notes on the positives and negatives of each. Making an informed decision will be the best way to be sure that your treasured personal property is in good hands.

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Staging-Your-Home-with-Young-Children

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Decluttering-101

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Packing-it-Up-and-Moving-it-Out

Photo credit: sellallyourstuff.com

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

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