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President Declares Emergency for Virginia

by Desi Sowers

 

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that federal aid has been made available to Commonwealth of Virginia to supplement the commonwealth and local response efforts in the area due to the emergency conditions resulting from Hurricane Irene beginning on August 26, 2011, and continuing.

The President's action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in the counties of Accomack, Northampton, Isle of Wight, James City, Lancaster, Mathews, Middlesex, Northumberland, Richmond, Westmoreland, and New Kent and the independent cities of Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Poquoson, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Virginia Beach, and Williamsburg.

Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency.  Emergency protective measures, including direct federal assistance, will be provided at 75 percent federal funding. 

Donald L. Keldsen has been named as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area.  

Follow FEMA online at blog.fema.govwww.twitter.com/femawww.facebook.com/fema, andwww.youtube.com/fema.  Also, follow Administrator Craig Fugate's activities at www.twitter.com/craigatfema

The social media links provided are for reference only. FEMA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies or applications. 

FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

 

Wealthiest Small Towns - by CNN Money

by Desi Sowers

In uncovering the “Best Places to Live,” CNNMoney recently also found which small towns -- having populations less than 50,000 -- boast the highest incomes. Here are the top 10 cities with the highest median family incomes, according to the survey. 

1. Great Falls, Va.

Population: 8,757

Median family income: $367,660

Median home price: $1,090,000

2. Hillsborough, Calif.

Population: 10,540

Median family income: $319,240

Median home price: $2,277,500

3. Scarsdale, N.Y.

Population: 17,745

Median family income: $250,124

Median home price: $1,200,000

4. Weston, Mass.

Population: 11,787

Median family income: $248,871

Median home price: $1,004,000

5. Los Altos Hills, Calif.

Population: 8,647

Median family income: $243,406

Median home price: $2,273,250

6. Glencoe, Ill.

Population: 8,881

Median family income: $237,874

Median home price: $807,500

7. Winnetka, Ill.

Population: 12,234

Median family income: $236,222

Median home price: $990,000

8. New Canaan, Conn.

Population: 19,682

Median family income: $231,957

Median home price: $1,210,000

9. Darien, Conn.

Population: 20,049

Median family income: $227,195

Median home price: $1,253,800

10. Chappaqua, N.Y.

Population: 9,459

Median family income: $219,258

Median home price: $825,000

30 Habits that Will Change Your Life

by Desi Sowers

30 Habits that Will Change Your Life

This list really doesn't have anything to do with real estate but it caught my eye and made me really spend some time thinking on lots of these items that I am very guilty of NOT DOING!!

I hope this is helpful to you as well.....we all need better habits!

Health habits

  1. Exercise 30 minutes every day. Especially if you don’t do much movement while working, it’s essential that you get some daily exercise. 30 minutes every day are the minimum recommended for optimal health.
  2. Eat breakfast every day. Breakfast is the more important meal of the day, yet so many people skip it. Personally, I like to eat a couple of toasts in the morning along with a fruit beverage.
  3. Sleep 8 hours. Sleep deprivation is never a good idea. You may think that you are gaining time by sleeping less, when in reality you are only gaining stress and tiredness. 8 hours are a good number of hours for most people, along with an optional 20 minutes nap after lunch.
  4. Avoid snacking between meals. Snacking between meals is the best way to gain weight. If you are hungry, eat something concrete. Otherwise don’t. Update: for clarification, I mean don’t eat junk food between meals, but eating real food it’s ok.
  5. Eat five portions of fruits and vegetables every day. Our body and brain loves getting vegetables and fruit, so I highly recommend eating as much of them as possible. Five portions is the dose that’s usually recommended by many health associations.
  6. Eat fish. Fish is rich of omega 3 and other healthy elements. At least one meal per week of fish should be enough for getting all these nutrients.
  7. Drink one glass of water when you wake up. When you wake up, your body is dehydrated and needs liquid. Make the habit of drinking one glass of water after you wake up in the morning. Also, drink more during the day.
  8. Avoid soda. Soda is often one of the most unhealthy beverage you can find. Limit your consumption of soda as much as possible and you’re body will be grateful for that.
  9. Keep your body clean. I don’t advise spending your day in front of the mirror, but a minimum of personal care does never hurt.
  10. If you smoke, stop it. There’s no reason to smoke anymore, and quitting is possible.
  11. If you drink, stop it. Same as above. Don’t think that alcohol will solve your problems. It never does. The only exception is one glass of wine per day during meals.
  12. Take the stairs. This is just a hack that forces you to do a minimum of exercise. Instead of taking the elevator, take the stairs.

Productivity habits

  1. Use an inbox system. Make the habit of keeping track of all the ideas and things that comes to mind. You can use a notebook to do this, and then sync everything on your computer.
  2. Prioritize. If you have a list of things to do, where do you start? One way is to prioritize your list. If you are in doubt, ask yourself: “If I could only accomplish one thing today, what would it be?”
  3. Plan, but not too much. Planning is important, and you should decide in advance what you are going to do today or this week. However, planning for more than a few weeks is usually inefficient, so I would not worry too much about that.
  4. Wake up early. Waking up early in the morning is a great way to gain extra time. I personally like to wake up at 5 am, so that by 9 am I have already accomplished what otherwise would have taken me many days..
  5. Check your email only twice per day. Email can easily become an addiction, but it’s usually unnecessary to check it every 10 minutes. Make an effort and check your email only once or twice per day, see if the world will still rotate as before after you try this.
  6. Eliminate unimportant tasks. Being busy all day does not mean you are doing important stuff. Eliminate every activity that’s not important, and focus on what really matters.
  7. Clean off your desk and room. Having a clear room and desk is important to maintain focus and creativity.
  8. Automate. There are a lot of tasks that you need to perform every day or every week. Try to automate them as much as possible.
  9. Set strict deadlines. When you do something, decide in advance when you’re going to stop. There’s a rule that states that you will fulfill all the time you have available for completing a task, so make an habit of setting strict deadlines for maximizing your productivity.
  10. Take one day off per week. Instead of working every day, take one day off per week (for example sunday) where you are not going to turn on your computer. Use that time for doing recreational activities like going for a walk.

Personal Development habits

  1. Read 1 book per week. Reading is a good way to keep your brain active. With just 30 minutes per day you should be able to read one book per week, or more than 50 books per year.
  2. Solve puzzles. Quizzes, word games, etc. are all good ways to exercise your brain.
  3. Think positively. You are what you think, all the time.
  4. Make fast decisions. Instead of thinking for one hour wherever you are going to do something, make your decisions as fast as possible (usually less than 1 minute).
  5. Wait before buying. Waiting 48 hours before buying anything is a tremendous money saver, try it.
  6. Meditate 30 minutes per day. A great way to gain clearness and peace is through meditation. 30 minutes are not a lot, but enough to get you started with meditation.

Career habits

  1. Start a blog. Blogging is one of the best way to put your word out. It doesn’t have to be around a specific topic, even a personal blog will do.
  2. Build a portfolio. If your job is creating stuff, building a portfolio is a great way to show what you are capable of. You can also contribute stuff for free if that applies to your work.

What do you think? What are the habits that changed your life?

Home Office on a Budget

by

A better place to work
Home Office on a Budget


Turn your home office into a more productive and comfortable place with these simple enhancements.

Practically everyone in the real estate business has some sort of home office ideally, a quiet place to make phone calls, jump on the Internet, and access client files.

For the space-crunched, home offices could simply be a hutch with a fold-away desktop in a living room. Others may carve out a corner of the guest bedroom, and the luckiest have an entire room of their house to devote to professional endeavors. Regardless of where you fall in the home-office spectrum, you could benefit from some easy improvements.

The best part is that you don't have to spend a lot of cash to do it. Experts in home office design and organization offer their tips to boosting productivity and comfort in your home office.


Scout out the Best Spot

Think about where your home office is located, says organizing guru Sally Allen, founder of A Place for Everything LLC in Golden, Colo. There may be a better place.

Offices are often shoved into "leftover" spaces rather than located in rooms with desirable lighting and layout, she says. When choosing a location for your home office, ask yourself: “Will I be easily distracted here? Is there ample lighting? Will I have enough room for all my equipment and files? Are there enough electrical outlets?”

The best rooms have a closet for your office supplies and enough space to comfortably fit a desk, cabinets, and any other essential equipment. If you don't have the luxury of relocating to a new room, try rearranging your furniture. Testing different layouts until you find one that feels right and allows you to move around efficiently.

Let There Be Light, Color

“Almost every home office has lousy lighting,” says design consultant Terrence Schlesinger of LightYears2.com in Kauai, Hawaii. To make your office an exception, choose a space with a window or skylight.

You’ll definitely want an overhead light or floor lamp that illuminates the entire room and a bright desk lamp. Schlesinger prefers a halogen desk lamp with an adjustable arm so light can be placed optimally for each task. Don’t forget to position your computer so the monitor is free from glare.

Another mood booster: bright paint colors. “It’s not just paint; it’s energy," says Schlesinger, who specializes in helping clients choose paint colors. "I recommend that you get away from anything traditional. Pick your favorite colors — not just one or two, but many.”

He suggests painting each wall a different shade, although he recognizes that not everyone is ready for such an adventurous approach. "I like to change colors every 90 degrees," he says. "And don’t forget about the door."

Not sure you trust your inner decorator? Luckily, there are plenty of Web sites that allow you to test out color combinations in virtual rooms. Some sites to try: Behr.com, BenjaminMoore.com and Sherwin-Williams.com.

Get Comfy

Whatever you do, don't overlook the one thing that our experts agreed is a critical component of any effective office: your chair.

“Anything is better than a chair from the kitchen table or dining room,” says Lisa Kanarek, founder of Dallas-based HomeOfficeLife. “I cringe when I see that — a good office chair doesn’t have to be expensive.”

Function matters more than appearance, she says. Look for an ergonomically correct chair that forms to your body, with adjustable seat height, tilt, and arm rests. Find deals online, but try out the chair in a store before you buy. For more guidance, check out Spine-health.com.

Relaxing or invigorating music can increase your comfort level, too, as it drowns out background noise and helps you get more done. You can install a sound system and speakers on your walls, or simply use a discreet radio. Keep a selection of your favorite CDs in an organized container next to the CD player, or hook up your iPod or MP3 player to speakers.

Organize, Organize, Organize

To get the most out of your time in the office, organization is critical. Your client files, office supplies, and personal items must be easy to find, Allen says.

Keep stationery and other office supplies neat in a closet, on shelves, or in drawers. Save money by buying in bulk, but buy only what you have room to store, Allen says. Group supplies by type so that you have only one place to look for what you need. For example, keep all the forms you use for buyers together or group all the components of your listing presentation in one drawer.

Allen says she likes to use the tops and bottoms of check-book boxes to organize her smaller office supplies on open shelving and in her top desk drawer.

If you're lacking in closet space, add a bookcase, Kanarek says. "It can organize a room so quickly.” Store office supplies in small baskets; organize professional magazines and journals that are stacked on the floor; and display "treasures" such as fancy paperweights and pen stands that clutter up your desk.

“If you feel that you must keep them, put your treasures on the bookshelf,” Allen says. Bookcases are also a great place to display awards and designations, especially important if clients visit your home office.

When it comes to filing, an effective paperflow system is far more important than fancy filing cabinets. "You want to be able to file a document or retrieve it in 30 seconds or less," Allen says. "Otherwise, papers can pile up."

Use hanging folders with tabs for your main filing categories, and use interior manila folders for individual topics. Go through your files periodically and toss papers or relocate what you no longer need at hand. You can make your files easier to use by color-coding folders by topic area or for all the files pertaining to one transaction.

On the Tech Front

If a big share of your work and communication is done online — as it is for most real estate professionals — then it’s essential to have a reliable Internet connection, Kanarek says.

You’ll save time and frustration by investing in the quickest connection available, most likely DSL, broadband, or wireless. Compare rates of local providers to make sure you’re getting the best deal. You may be able to save a few bucks by using the same company for your phone service, Internet, and cable.

Equally important is your phone messaging system, Kanarak says. When prospects and clients call your home office expect the same prompt and professional response they’d receive calling the brokerage.

Consider forwarding your business line to your cell phone so you don’t miss important calls. A remote call-forwarding service usually costs less than $40 per month. If you prefer an answering machine or voice mail on your office phone, be sure it allows you to call in for messages.

Also check your phone greeting after you record it to make sure you sound clear and there are no background noises.

Decorative Touches

Liven up your office space with a small tree, a window garden, or a collection of plants. “Plants provide many benefits, including health benefits,” Allen says. “They soften the walls, add ambience, and absorbs pollutants.” Unless you have a green thumb, choose plants that will be happy in lower light and will survive irregular watering. Pothos and philodendrons are two good choices. Or opt for artificial.

For offices with wood or tile floors, a rug will help to absorb sound and warm up the room. “You work there, and you want the space to feel comfortable,” Kanarek says. A rug also is a good way to brighten up a room and tie in the décor.

Although rugs can be very pricey, they don’t have to be. Look for deals at retailers such as Ikea, home improvement stores like Home Depot, and discounters like Wal-Mart. Add a rug pad to absorb more noise, prevent slips, and reduce the wear and tear on the rug.

Minimize Distractions

A mini-refrigerator stocked with water and healthy snacks will keep you from making trips to the kitchen, where you can be easily distracted. Mini-fridges are available in a wide price range, with many models sold for under $100. However, keeping nearby drinks and snacks may not be the best idea for procrastinators, who will choose snack time over work time, Allen warns. Also avoid having too many snacks near at hand if you’re watching your weight. It’s too easy to just grab and gulp.

Maintaining a professional office environment in a busy home isn’t easy, but it can be done if you set some ground rules. Have a meeting with your family, and explain that you need certain uninterrupted times to work at home.

“Don’t force rules on them; you have to get their buy-in for the rules to work,” Allen says. Consider setting office hours, requiring family to knock before entering, and limiting when nearby televisions or radios can be turned on.

“There’s nothing more unprofessional than being on the phone with clutter in the background — voices, television, the washer and dryer,” Allen says.

Own Your Own Private Getaway on 45 Acres

by Desi Sowers

 

Rockin' Chair View

Panoramic scenes are the norm from every living space of this charming home.

Own your own mountain of 45 acres conveniently located just 10 miles to downtown Blacksburg or 20 miles to Roanoke.

Home has recently been totally renovated and boasts beautiful flooring, skylights and walls of windows to take in the views of Catawba Valley.

Enjoy relaxing on the gorgeous covered porch, hiking, mountain biking or 4 wheeling - this home will be your private retreat from the hustle and bustle!

Mortgage Rates Drop Sharply for the Week

by Desi Sowers

Mortgage rates dropped sharply last week, possibly improving the purchasing power of many home buyers.

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, the most popular choice among buyers, averaged 4.39 percent this week, its lowest average for 2011, Freddie Mac reported in its weekly mortgage market survey. The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage and the 5-year adjustable rate-mortgage also both reached new historical record lows.

Rates mostly dropped across the board amid signs of a weakening economy, Freddie Mac says. "Treasury bond yields fell markedly after signs the economy was weaker than what markets had previously thought allowing fixed mortgage rates to follow this week with the 15-year fixed and 5-year ARM setting new historical lows,” says Frank Nothaft, chief economist at Freddie Mac.

Nothaft also noted some improvement in the housing market, however. "There were indications that the housing market is firming,” he says. 

Here’s a closer look at rates for the week ending Aug. 4:

30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.39 percent, down from last week’s 4.55 percent average. A year ago at this time, 30-year rates averaged 4.49 percent.

15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.54 percent, dropping from last week’s 3.66 percent average.Last year at this time, 15-year rates averaged 3.95 percent.

5-year adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 3.18 percent this week, falling from last week’s 3.25 percent average. Last year at this time, 5-year ARMs averaged 3.63 percent.

1-year adjustable-rate mortgages: were the only ones on the rise last week, averaging 3.02 percent this week, which is up from last week’s 2.95 percent average. Last year at the time, 1-year ARMs averaged 3.55 percent.

I'm happy to put you in touch was a local mortgage lender if you would like to discuss interest rates and how they will effect your buying power.

New River Valley Real Estate For Sale: 1420 Floyd Lane Pulaski, VA 24301

MLS#303161 

Nestled in a peaceful neighborhood this all brick ranch is ready for a new family. Many recent updates include new vinyl windows, new cabinets and new countertops. Come on in and take a look. The amazing formal living room is illuminated by natural light and adorned with fantastic views. A bright kitchen with an abundance of cabinet and counter space plus tiled floors is sure to please the cook in your family. The sunny breakfast nook is the perfect place to start your day. Invite the whole family to start making memories in the supersized family room with a cozy fireplace. The three spacious bedrooms with gleaming hardwood floors are ready for move-in. An extra long double-wide driveway provides ample parking for recreational vehicles and more. Bring your check book and come on over. We are sure you will want to stay. Check out the virtual tour then call us for your private showing.

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.

Search All New River Valley Real Estate

 

 

The "Big Six" Home Selling Factors

by Desi Sowers

Although they can be stated in different ways there are only six factors that affect the sale of a home.


It is important for you, as the seller, to understand who or what has control over them and how they impact on each other.

  • You control 3 of the 6
  • The Market controls 2 of the 6
  • Your REALTOR® controls 1 of the 6

YOU Control

1. Price - You determine list price for your home. However, a list price above the market for homes similar to yours will impact negatively on buyer interest in making an offer. Your REALTOR® will review price history with you to assist you in making a list price determination.

2. Terms - Buyers have requirements just as sellers do. Your willingness to respect them and be willing to negotiate which terms will be acceptable to both parties can have a very positive impact. Price and Terms will usually be negotiated at the same time.

3. Condition - How well you have maintained the home will influence both your price and length of time to sell. The pool of buyers who are willing to make major repairs is much smaller than the pool of buyers who want a home that has been well maintained.

THE MARKET Controls
4. Timing - Economic conditions operate independently of price, terms and property condition. Similarly, seasons and weather factors can affect the time it takes to sell a home.

5. Competition - The number of homes on the market most certainly bears heavily on your ability to sell your home on a timely basis.

YOUR REALTOR® Controls

6. Promotion - From entry into the Multiple Listing System, to internet marketing and any other programs your agent will have an impact on your home sale.

CONCLUSION
No one of the six factors alone controls the timely sale of your home. Your agent should provide you with
  • Feedback from prospects who have visited your home
  • Changes in market conditions

Your willingness or ability to make adjustments in price, terms or condition based on the information provided will be the final determinant as to how quickly your home will sell.


Written by: Karen Kruschka, Remax Olympic Realty

New Listing - One Level Living in Christiansburg

by Desi Sowers

Pride of ownership is evident in this one owner home quietly situated on 1.33 acres.

Enjoy the quality brick construction and hardwood floors throughout the easy living, one-level floor plan.

Informal dining room welcomes guests and opens to the charming living room with fireplace and door to access the tiered decking.

The efficient kitchen boasts a charming breakfast nook and a bar area for kitchen stools. Beautiful windows, tray ceilings, double garage and full basement - 3BR, 2BA, 1964sqft.  Come See!

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