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HUGE $20,000 Price Reduction!! - 9.5 Acres

by Desi Sowers

HUGE $20,000 Price Reduction - 9.5 Acres, All Brick Home

 

$10,000 Price Reduction

by Desi Sowers

 

 

Exceptional Log Home - Radford

Price just reduced $10,000!


It's About the Basics: 7 Tips for Selling Your Home

by Desi Sowers

It's About the Basics: 7 Tips for Selling Your Home

Since the housing boom ended and the market began to shift, the phrase “going back to basics” has been tossed around quite frequently. From the way agents handle their business to the way they communicate with clients, the phrase has gotten quite the workout.

But what about consumers? They were caught up in the housing boom as well…with homes selling in a day, sometimes a few hours. Getting back to basics seems like something simple that sellers should look at as well. It might just mean the difference between selling within a month and selling within a year.

Here are some basic tips from State Farm on selling a home:

Set your price carefully

Too high and buyers may not consider it, too low and you're selling yourself short. Agents often give a free home market analysis if you ask. This gives you an idea of how your home compares financially with similar, recently sold homes in your area. The analysis may also include how much you might expect to earn after closing.

Don't do major remodeling

Don't break the bank preparing your home for sale. Pricey items such as a new roof may be big hits with buyers, but rarely does the buying price end up covering the payout for such costly home improvements. When possible, stick with the simpler (and less expensive) options rather than major remodeling.

Make a good first impression

Curb appeal is important. Keep your lawn and other landscaping neatly trimmed, weeded and watered. Check the exterior of your home for signs of wear and damage, such as peeling paint, foundation cracks or loose shingles, and fix what is needed. Clean the outside of the house, including windows. Many people suggest giving the front door a fresh coat of paint for that warm, welcome feeling. In addition, adding a few flowers in the spring and summer, or keeping the walks cleared of leaves and snow in the fall and winter can be inviting to potential buyers.

Clean!

The obvious seller's commandment: thou shalt clean. Remove all clutter from every room, including closets. Organize your basement and attic. Have a garage sale with all the stuff you don't want to move to your next home! Wipe down and paint walls and trim if necessary. Many people advocate repainting with a neutral color palette to appeal to a wider range of potential buyers. Clean all windows, light fixtures and ceiling fans. Bathrooms should always be squeaky clean. Inspect and make any necessary repairs to the plumbing, heating, cooling and electrical systems. Highlight the bath and kitchen by selecting some attractive new towels, curtains or cabinetry knobs.

And keep it clean

Maintain the new and improved interior and exterior of your home until you successfully sell. It's hard, but it's necessary. A professional cleaning service may be able to help maintain the new clean look with occasional visits.

Light it up

When showing your house, provide plenty of light and make your home a warm, welcoming place. Open the curtains to let in the sunshine. In the event of an evening showing, make sure you have ample lighting available in all areas. Fresh cut flowers make a nice addition, and a pleasantly scented house is very inviting.

Go away

Many agents and potential buyers would prefer that the seller not be present during a showing, to avoid limiting the buyers' conversation or making them uncomfortable. Children and pets should also be absent or out of the buyers' way during a showing, if at all possible.

Open House! Sunday, 8/22/2010 Come See!

by Desi Sowers

Please join me as I host Open House at this custom built brick home on 9.5 acres. 

Open House 1:00 to 3:00 Sunday, August 22nd

 

5 Tips for Choosing a Neighborhood

by Desi Sowers

There's more to weigh than just crime, prices, and commute.

You're not just buying a house -- you're also buying a neighborhood. Sometimes, though, one resident's "neighborhood glories" are another resident's "neighborhood warts."

Take, for example, close proximity to clubs and nightlife.

For some homebuyers, that would be a turnoff. But a few years ago, Austin, Texas, broker Kimbrough Gray had clients who insisted on being "stumbling distance" from a particular bar.

"They said, 'We don't want to drive after we've gone to our favorite club,' " Gray said. "I'd show them houses, and they'd say, 'If we were drunk, could we find our way home to this house?' "

His clients ended up being happy with their eventual choice. But how is a stranger to a community expected to know the difference between "too close" and "too far"? Or how to know, like Gray's clients, which neighborhood features are truly critical to their personal needs?

Five things to consider when picking a neighborhood:

1. The time of day when you first lay eyes on a prospective house can affect your impression of the neighborhood, so visit at various hours.

"A neighborhood can be totally different at night," said Gray, "If you go somewhere at 1:30 p.m., it may seem OK, but if you go back at night, it (could seem) a bit more sketchy."

The same can be said for neighborhood traffic congestion, which can change dramatically at rush hour -- or traffic on a Saturday can be a different story than on a Tuesday, he said.

2. Neighborhood choice can be a pocketbook issue, and not just because of house prices and property taxes. Commuting costs -- of both time and money -- are critical.

"I'm a Realtor, but we also do a lot of investing, so we move around a lot," Gray said. "I always calculate (in a buying decision) how much I'm going to spend on gas when I'm commuting.

"I've had clients say, 'This house is $10 cheaper on the mortgage (than another house),' but I've had to tell them, 'Yes, but this one is going to cost you $80 more in gas.' "

3. Ask questions of people who already live there.

The locals usually freely offer their opinions of neighborhood safety, noise, school performance, commuting times, etc., he said.

"When I'm dealing with a condo association, I usually stand outside the building and wait to chat with somebody who's just walking around," Gray said. "But I've had clients who will go around and knock on doors."

4. The Internet can be a boon for researching the nitty-gritty.

NeighborhoodScout.com, for example, is a subscription service that offers in-depth looks at such considerations as crime statistics (for 17,000 law-enforcement jurisdictions), school-performance data, and quarterly price-appreciation records of area homes.

It's customizable: The site can do such things as take the characteristics of a neighborhood that's familiar to you and approximate similar neighborhoods in other cities. For retirees, it can narrow down neighborhoods that have, say, a large population of educated seniors.

And coming soon, the site says, is a "build your neighborhood" feature in which users enter home-price range, crime-level comfort, preferred school scores, etc., to come up with suggested areas.

The service costs $29.99 a month, or $14.99 a month for a six-month subscription.

5. Some neighborhood characteristics can be hard to cram into numerical categories or scores. NabeWise.com has taken 65 "quality of life" characteristics and set them up as criteria for neighborhood-hunters.

For example, you can actually search for "trendy" neighborhoods -- or "clean" ones. Perhaps you want to live around liberals or around conservatives. Maybe you want to be near a farmers market or public transit or nightlife. The user just needs to fill out a checklist.

The site also features photo tours of neighborhoods and reviews from locals. Currently, it covers only New York City, San Francisco, Boston, Seattle and Chicago; Los Angeles is in the works, the company says.

Written by Mary Unberger, Wednesday August 18, 2010

10 Low-Cost Tips to Improve Your Home's Appeal

by Desi Sowers

 

When selling your home, the goal is to sell it quickly for the highest price while investing as little as possible in renovations. With a limited budget and a little effort, you can greatly increase your home's appeal by focusing on what prospective buyers can see on their first visit. The experts offer the following recommendations for preparing a house for sale and staging it for showings.

Tip #1: Refresh the exterior

First impressions count when it comes to selling a home. Most buyers won’t even leave their car if they don’t find the exterior appealing. The best ways to improve your home’s exterior include:
-Repairing and/or replacing trims, shutters, gutters, shingles, mailboxes, window screens, walkways and the driveway.
-Painting siding, trim and shutters and lamp and mailbox posts.
-Pressure washing vinyl siding, roofs, walkways and the driveway.
-Washing windows.

Tip #2: Spruce up the lawn and landscape
Home buyers associate the condition of your lawn and landscaping with the condition of your home’s interior. By improving the outside, you affect buyers’ impression of the entire property. The best ways to enhance the yard include:
-Mowing and edging the lawn.
-Seeding, fertilizing and weeding the lawn.
-Keeping up with regular lawn maintenance by frequent watering.
-Trimming and/or removing overgrown trees, shrubs and hedges.
-Weeding and mulching plant beds.
-Planting colorful seasonal flowers in existing plant beds.
-Removing trash, especially along fences and underneath hedges.
-Sweeping and weeding the street curb along your property.

Tip #3: Create an inviting entrance
The front door to your home should invite buyers to enter. The best ways to improve your entry include:
-Painting the front door in a glossy, cheerful color that complements the exterior.
-Cleaning, polishing and/or replacing the door knocker, locks and handles.
-Repairing and/or replacing the screen door, the doorbell, porch lights and house numbers.
-Placing a new welcome mat and a group of seasonal potted plants and flowers by the entry.

Tip #4: Reduce clutter and furniture
A buyer cannot envision living in your home without seeing it. A home filled with clutter or even too much furniture distracts buyers from seeing how they can utilize the space your home offers. If you have limited storage space, you may want to consider renting a temporary storage unit to place items you wish to keep. The best ways to declutter your home include:
-Holding a garage sale to prepare for your move, getting rid of unnecessary items.
-Removing clutter such as books, magazines, toys, tools, supplies and unused items from counter tops, open shelves, storage closets, the garage and basements.
-Storing out-of-season clothing and shoes out of sight to make bedroom closets seem roomier.
-Removing any visibly damaged furniture.
-Organizing bookshelves, closets, cabinets and pantries. Buyers will inspect everything.
-Putting away your personal photographs, unless they showcase the home. Let buyers see themselves in your home.
-De-personalize rooms as much as you can.

Tip #5: Clean, clean, clean
The cleanliness of your home also influences a buyer's perception of its condition. The appearance of the kitchen and bathrooms will play a considerable role in a buyer's decision process, so pay particular attention to these areas. The best ways to improve these areas include:
-Cleaning windows, fixtures, hardware, ceiling fans, vent covers and appliances.
-Cleaning carpets, area rugs and draperies.
-Cleaning inside the refrigerator, the stove and all cabinets.
-Removing stains from carpets, floors, counters, sinks, baths, tile, walls and grout.
-Eliminating house odors, especially if you have pets.
-Considering air fresheners or potpourri.

Tip #6: Make minor repairs
The small stuff does count, especially with first-time home buyers. Without dismissing the importance of repairing major items such as a leaky roof or plumbing, you do not need to spend money on replacing these items. Instead, focus on the minor repairs that will make your home visually appealing. The best ways to improve your home include:
-Repairing ceilings and wall cracks.
-Repairing faucets, banisters, handrails, cabinets, drawers, doors, floors and tile.
-Caulking and grouting tubs, showers, sinks and tile.
-Adding fresh paint to ceilings, walls, trim, doors and cabinets.
-Tightening door handles, drawer pulls, light switches and electrical plates.
-Lubricating door hinges and locks.

Tip #7: Showcase the kitchen
The heart of any home is the kitchen. If you are going to spend any money on renovations, this is the one area where you will see the greatest return. Even with a modest budget, focusing on a few key areas can make a great difference in getting the asking price for your property. The best ways to showcase the kitchen include:
-Replacing cabinet doors and hardware.
-Installing under-cabinet lighting.
-Replacing light fixtures.
-Replacing outdated shelving with pantry and cabinet organizers to maximize space.
-Baking cookies or cupcakes for a showing, to create a homey smell.

Tip #8: Stage furniture
Furniture placement can enhance the space of your home while giving buyers an idea of how to best utilize the space with their own belongings. Take some time to rethink how different areas in your house could be used. Some ideas to think about include:
-Moving couches and chairs away from walls in your sitting and family rooms to create cozy conversational groups.
-Creating a reading corner in the master bedroom.
-Clearing an empty room to set up a reading space.
-Turning an awkward space into a home office.
-Setting the dining room table with your best china.
-Set wine glasses in front of the fireplace or next to a Jacuzzi tub.

Tip #9: Light up the house
Create a sense of openness and cheerfulness in your home through its lighting. To improve the lighting try:
-Opening shades and drapes to let the sunshine warm and brighten rooms.
-Installing brighter light bulbs in rooms that tend to be dark.
-Adding additional lamps for ambient lighting.
-Turning on all the lights for a showing.

Tip #10: Add fresh touches
You can easily add color and style to your home by adding fresh touches throughout. Some ideas to consider include:
-Placing fresh floral arrangements in the entry and master bedroom.
-Placing bowls of bright-colored fruit in the family room and the kitchen.
-Filling an empty corner with a potted leafy plant.
-Setting new hand soap in the bathrooms.
-Displaying fresh towels near sinks.

New Listing - Blacksburg Townhome, Walk to VT!

by Desi Sowers

Very popular end-unit townhome, walking distance to shopping and VT!

 

Least and Most Expensive Cities For Living in the U.S.A.

by Desi Sowers

It’s hard to beat the low cost of living in the South. Seven of the ten least expensive cities on our list are in Texas, Arkansas, Kentucky and Tennessee.

 

Fort Smith
Fort Smith, Arkansas

 

We compiled our rankings based on the ACCRA Cost of Living Index produced by the Council for Community and Economic Research. The Index measures relative price levels for housing, utilities, transportation, grocery items, health care and miscellaneous goods and services (it does not include taxes). A composite score of 100 reflects the national average. So scores lower than 100 reflect a lower-than average cost of living, and scores higher than 100 reflect a higher-than average cost of living. Median household income and average home prices are from the Toronto-based Martin Prosperity Institute. We sampled all U.S. cities with metropolitan area populations of at least 75,000.

1. Fort Smith, Ark.

Cost of Living Index: 85.2
Metro Population: 288,595
Median Household Income: $35,726
Average Home Price: $223,885

Arkansas is a low-cost, low-tax state, and its second largest city, Fort Smith, is no exception. Housing, grocery and transportation costs here are well below the national average. And compared with the most-expensive city on our list, New York, everything in Fort Smith is a bargain.

2. Pueblo, Colo.

Cost of Living Index: 85.9
Metro Population: 154,371
Median Household Income: $39,570
Average Home Price: $197,037

This economic hub of southeastern Colorado is just 103 miles from Denver but has a much lower cost of living. Homes in Pueblo are cheaper, on average, than in the rest of the state -- and nation. Pueblo residents also benefit from Colorado's low state income-tax rate of 4.64% of federal taxable income.

3. Harlingen, Tex.

Cost of Living Index: 86 .1
Brownsville/Harlingen Metro Population: 385,274
Median Household Income: $28,026
Average Home Price: $221,445

Housing prices in the southernmost city in Texas, on the Gulf coast near the Mexican border, are well below national average and are big factor in the city's overall low cost of living. The average cost of grocery items, transportation and health care also fall below the national average -- but utility costs are about 10% higher here. Brownsville/Harlingen has long been a popular destination for retirees on fixed incomes.

4. McAllen, Tex.

Cost of Living Index: 86.5
McAllen/Edinburg Metro Population: 706,039
Median Household Income: $28,328
Average Home Price: $213,383

Located only 50 miles away from Brownsville/Harlingen, this city in the southern tip of Texas also has extra-low housing costs. However, utility costs are higher than the national average.

 

Johnson City
Johnson City, Tenn.

 

5. Johnson City, Tenn.

Cost of Living Index: 86.6
Metro Population: 193,457
Median Household Income: $36,853
Average Home Price: $217,986

Affordable homes and below-average utility, transportation and health-care costs keep the cost of living low in this city on the western edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It's about a 2 hour drive from Charlotte, N.C., or Knoxville, Tenn. To top it off, Tennessee has no state income tax.

See the Top 10 Least Expensive U.S. Cities

Most Expensive Cities For Living in the U.S.A.

When you leave the nation's heartland and head to the coasts, prices jump. In fact, half of the most expensive cities on our list are in California. The rest are on the East Coast and in far-flung Hawaii and Alaska.

 

New York
NYC, Julienne Schaer 2008/New York & Company

 

1. New York, N.Y.

Cost of Living Index: 218
Metro Population: 18,925,869
Median Household Income: $60,964
Average Home Price: $1.15 million

It should be no surprise that New York is first on this list. Housing costs four times the national average are a big reason that the overall cost of living is so high. But everything from grocery items to utilities are much pricier in Manhattan than in the rest of the nation. A New Yorker would have to make $127,935 a year to have the same standard of living as someone earning $50,000 in Fort Smith, Ark., the least expensive city.

2. Honolulu, Hawaii

Cost of Living Index: 163
Metro Population: 903,231
Median Household Income: $64,355
Average Home Price: $709,945

You have to pay a high price to live in this island paradise. The average home price is well above the national average. And consumer goods and services are more expensive here than in many places on the mainland.

3. San Francisco, Cal.

Cost of Living Index: 162.1
Metro Population: 4,222,756
Median Household Income: $72,059
Average Home Price: $815,556

With the highest home prices in California and second highest in the nation, it's no wonder San Francisco is one of the most expensive places. However, it stays out of the second-place spot in our list because costs for grocery items and utilities are much less in San Francisco than in Honolulu.

4. Santa Ana (Orange County), Cal.

Cost of Living Index: 146.5
Metro Population: 12,818,132
Median Household Income: $56,680
Average Home Price: $748,359

Orange County is home to Disneyland, "Surf City, U.S.A." and some of the most exclusive and expensive neighborhoods in the nation. Not only are home prices well above the national average, costs for everything from groceries to health care run higher. California also has some of the highest income taxes in the country.

5. Stamford, Conn.

Cost of Living Index: 145.9
Bridgeport/Stamford Metro Population: 903,425
Median Household Income: $66,870
Average Home Price: $626,611

Although the Bridgeport/Stamford metropolitan area is among the places where home prices have fallen most, housing costs still are twice the national average. However, the city is a much more-affordable option than nearby New York City.

See the Top 10 Most Expensive U.S. Cities

By Cameron Huddleston , Kiplinger.com
Jul 30, 2010

Displaying blog entries 1-8 of 8

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