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It’s a highly competitive market for home sellers right now. More homes to compete with means that the impression your homes makes - from the curb, and on the inside - matter now more than ever. You can increase your chances of selling faster - and at today’s top dollar - by investing in a select few home improvement projects that have been shown to make a big impact on buyers.

Bad news alert: it might cost you a little time, effort and cash.  The good news, though, is that the best projects for quickly increasing your home’s resale value tend to be cosmetic and fairly simple and inexpensive to do. Here are five projects with big-time return on investment for home sellers-to-be, in terms of their power to attract buyers, and to attract dollars from those buyers.

1. Painting:  Adding a fresh coat of paint to ceilings and walls is a tried and true way to increase your home’s appeal to buyers. Go for white or neutral tones that help lighten your rooms. (Now is not the time to show off your fascination with fuschia and lime green.) Buyers will have an easier time envisioning how they will infuse their own personalities into your home if they’re looking at a relatively blank slate. 

Painting lightens and brightens rooms, instantly removes scuffs and dings and gives every room a fresh, polished feel. 


Fresh exterior paint - even if your time or cash budget limits your efforts to accents like eaves, shutters, doors and trims - is also a quick, inexpensive way to polish the look of your home from the curb.

2. Landscaping:  Everything you’ve heard about curb appeal is true. First impressions matter - especially if your house is one of eight or nine a buyer has seen in one day. Buyers will be more excited to look at the inside your home if the outside looks clean, charming and inviting. Mow the lawn, trim the hedges, pull the weeds and plant some flowers, bushes or shrubs for the biggest impact - and be diligent about keeping your landscaping very well-manicured throughout the time your home is on the market. 

Be sure to keep it low-key, relatively low maintenance and neutral, though. This is not the time to indulge your personal fantasies of living in an exotic paradise, unless that matches the existing look and feel of your home, nor is it the time to install a time-intensive English garden that buyers will love, but not want to take on. Think clean, simple and elegant for the biggest boost in value.

3. Cleaning and de-cluttering:  Start by removing all your family photos from the walls and all sorts of tchochkes and clutter from the tops of tables, desks, dressers and counters. Buyers want to be able to envision their lives in the house, not yours. Personal items - and the visual clutter they create - have been shown time and time again to block buyers’ ability to create this vision. 

Also, remember that buyers are coming to see the house and evaluate its space, not to bear witness to all the fabulous furniture that means so much to you (no matter how amazing your personal taste). Remove furniture that takes up too much space and fills up rooms. Get rid of clutter such as clothes, boxes, piles of mail and other items. 

And then clean - and keep cleaning obsessively, the entire time your place is on the market. Kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms should look unlived in when they are shown.  And don't forget to clean less obvious places like windows, walls, doors and  and floors, to dust off shelves and furniture, and to polish appliances. 


4. Plumbing repairs and water stain/damage repair: Paying a plumber to make a few stops throughout your home can be well worth the investment. Leaky faucet in the master bathroom? Get it fixed. Does the space under your kitchen sink look like a science experiment? Leaks and water stains definitely provoke disgust and exasperation on the part of the buyers you want and need to impress.  And they can be pretty cost effective to fix - ask your agent for a referral, if you need one.

5. Staging:  Staging your home can make a dramatic difference in the price for which your home sells. Good staging is equal parts:


(a)    removing your personal belongings and replacing it with more  artwork, decor and cleaner-looking furniture,

(b)    and tweaking the home’s paint, wall coverings and even landscaping to show the place in its very best light.


When done well, staging can convert your home from just another listing on a buyer’s list to the setting for a fresh, new start to the fresh, new life of their dreams. Professional stagers, in particular, have special skills and materials they use, from convincing you to get rid of a bunch of things you value (but read: junk to a buyer), to  items like mirrors, plants, art work, lamps, pillows and even furniture that tells a visual story of the life buyers can fantasize about living in your home.

Talk to your agent about staging - some agents have the skill to do this on their own, while others might have a professional stager they frequently work with.

In some cases, you might want to take on even larger projects. Before you go that route, talk with a local real estate agent; they are well-positioned to know what sort of updates and features will make the most impact on local buyers. Not all major, non-cosmetic upgrades to your home will create a significant difference in the price it commands, so take advantage of your agent’s expertise as you make decisions about which property preparation investments to make (and which to forego). 

Written by:  Tara-Nicholle Nelson

New River Valley Real Estate For Sale: 130 Sapphire Avenue Christiansburg, VA 24073

MLS#303578

 

Nestled in lush landscaping and mountain views this gem is sure to please. Come on in and take a look at the attention to detail. A lovely formal dining room combined with an elegant formal living room is ideal for main level entertaining. Mosey out on the extensive decking boasting a majestic mountain view. This is the perfect for grilling and chilling.  Imagine all the delicious meals you can create in this gourmet designer kitchen. Flourishing with gorgeous custom cabinets, new quartz counters, gas stove, a center island plus a bonus serving bar, cooking is sure to be a pleasure. A luxurious master retreat provides a soothing oasis of special conveniences and comforts at day’s end with a walk-in closet, gleaming floors, sunny views and a pampering bathroom. The additional three bedrooms are generously sized and share a large hall bathroom. The finished walkout basement is a thriving place to entertain with all the amenities to accommodate guests of any age. Featuring a living area with a gas fireplace, wet bar, gaming area, workshop plus a guest suite, one could happily linger throughout the day. Grab your favorite book off the built-in shelving and step out on the covered patio persuading you to unwind while enjoying captivating views. Let the kids roam in the private backyard with mature trees and beautiful landscaping.  Bring all your toys as the two car garage plus workshop is ready for stocking. This nice quiet family neighborhood is conveniently located to shopping, schools, Virginia Tech and all the mountain fun. The current owner thought of everything. Now this home just needs you to be complete. Call me today for your personal tour.

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.



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12 Housing Markets Seeing Biggest Turnarounds

by Desi Sowers

 

12 Housing Markets Seeing the Biggest Turnarounds

The National Association of Home Builders is debuting a new economic index that highlights metro areas that are seeing the most improvement in their housing markets. The First American Improving Markets Index reveals 12 metro areas that have seen a turnaround for at least six months in three core economic areas — housing permits, employment, and housing prices. 

"Despite the challenging conditions in the national economy and housing sector, there are areas throughout the country where we are seeing pockets of improvement," Bob Nielsen, chairman of NAHB, said in a statement. "We created this new index to shine a light on those housing markets across the country that have stabilized and have begun to show signs of recovery."

Here are the 12 cities that have seen the biggest improvements, according to NAHB’s new index:

  • Alexandria, La.
  • Anchorage, Alaska
  • Bangor, ME
  • Bismarck, N.D.
  • Casper, Wyo.
  • Fairbanks, Alaska
  • Fayetteville, N.C.
  • Houma, La.
  • Midland, Texas
  • New Orleans, La.
  • Pittsburgh, Pa.
  • Waco, Texas

DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS | MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2011

Blacksburg real estate firm gets right to use "Hokie" in Company Name

by Published by Desi Sowers

 

Blacksburg real estate firm gets right to use "Hokie" in company name

A Virginia Tech alumnus sued by the university for using the term Hokie in his real estate business name may not only keep using the moniker, but now gets free tickets to Hokie football home games.

The university sued John Wilburn, and his Blacksburg company Hokie Real Estate Inc., on Oct. 18 in the U.S. District Court for Western Virginia. The university alleged that in using the term "Hokie," Wilburn infringed on the institution’s exclusive right to the "famous Hokies and Hokie trademarks," and asked that the company be ordered to cease using the name and pay Tech’s legal fees and unspecified damages.

Wilburn countersued, claiming the university had perpetrated a fraud on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in its application for and use of trademarks. The countersuit asked for monetary damages and other punishments, but was dismissed on grounds that as a state agency Tech is immune to the damage claims.

After months of negotiations, Wilburn seems to have won the upper hand, securing the right to use the Hokie name and receiving tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of university goods and services.

Reached by phone Friday, Wilburn was reluctant to comment on the terms of the agreement, particularly the extras.

"It’s done, it’s settled. I’m just trying to list and sell houses now. That [the suit] was kind of an interruption. Hokie Real Estate is still here," Wilburn said.

Tech spokesman Larry Hincker said university officials got what they wanted from the suit.

"We very clearly own the [Hokie] mark. We control the mark," Hincker said.

Tech settled because "litigation is expensive. For us, it was a business decision," he said.

Precise figures on Tech’s legal fees were not immediately available, but Hincker said they were in excess of $125,000.

Copies of the licensing agreement and the legal settlement, both dated Aug. 10, were obtained Friday by the Roanoke Times through a Freedom of Information Act request.

According to the agreements, Wilburn not only has a license to use the Hokie moniker free of charge, but for five years beginning in 2011 will receive from President Charles Steger’s allotment four free tickets to all home football games and a free parking space near Lane Stadium.

Additionally, Wilburn will receive a 10-year Platinum-level Hokie Club membership normally reserved for Virginia Tech Athletic Fund donors who give $5,000 to $9,999 a year. Hokie Real Estate will receive four free half-page ads in the Virginia Tech Magazine, worth, according to the magazine’s online rate card, about $2,700.

In return, Tech got Wilburn to agree that it owns the rights to the term Hokie, and got a legally binding promise that Wilburn will never seek to register the name Hokie Real Estate with either state or the federal trademark agencies.

Wilburn currently owns a state trademark on the name Hokie Real Estate that expires in May 2016. According to the settlement, Wilburn agreed to let it expire.

Additionally, Wilburn may transfer ownership of the Hokie Real Estate name if he ever sells the business, although Tech retained limited rights of approval for such a transfer, the agreement stated.

Tech may terminate the agreement if the Virginia Real Estate Board ever revokes Hokie Real Estate Inc.’s brokerage license.

Both parties agreed to pay their own legal fees.

Tech has owned rights to the term "Hokies" since 1998, according to the U.S. Patent database. An owner for "Hokie" is not listed.

A handful of companies established many years ago in Blacksburg — Hokie Spokes, Hokie House and Hokie Hair — continue to use the "Hokie" moniker, under contracts with the university.

Tech officials have said they will not challenge those uses but that no new corporate uses of the name will be allowed.

Before lawsuits were filed, the university declined Wilburn’s request to use the name under a standard licensing agreement.

Written by Tonia Moxley | The Roanoke Times  9/9/11

Crazy Low Mortgage Rates!!

by Desi Sowers

 

Mortgage Rates Dip, Reaching Another Record Low

​DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS | FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 09, 2011

For the second time in a month, fixed and adjustable-rate mortgage rates set new record lows this week, Freddie Mac reports in its weekly mortgage market survey. The previous record lows were set Aug. 18. 

Economic uncertainty and employment concerns are continuing to keep rates low, says Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

Here’s a closer look at rates for the week ending Sept. 8. 

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.12 this week, down from last week’s 4.22 percent. The 30-year rates’ previous low was 4.15 percent, set on Aug. 18. 
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.33 percent this week, down from last week’s 3.39 percent average. Its previous record low was 3.36 percent.
  • 5-year adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 2.96 percent, holding steady at the same record low it set last week. 
  • 1-year ARMs: averaged 2.84 percent this week, down from last week’s 2.89 percent average. Its previous record low was 2.86 percent.

Despite the low rates, mortgage application volume remains low, dropping for the third straight week, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported this week. The volume of mortgage applications for purchase remained relatively flat this week at “extremely low levels, close to lows last seen in 1996,” says Mike Fratantoni, MBA’s vice president of Research and Economics. Refinance application volume was also down, dropping more than 35 percent below levels last year at this time. 

 

 

12 Metro Areas Showing Economic Recovery

by Desi Sowers

 

12 Metro Areas Showing Sustained Economic Recovery

Recently, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) released its first NAHB/First American Improving Markets Index (IMI), a new economic index revealing metropolitan areas that have shown improvement for at least six months in three key economic areas—housing permits, employment and housing prices.

​The list of metropolitan areas includes:

• Alexandria, LA
• Anchorage, AK
• Bangor, ME
• Bismarck, ND
• Casper, WY
• Fairbanks, AK
• Fayetteville, NC
• Houma, LA
• Midland, TX
• New Orleans, LA
• Pittsburgh, PA
• Waco, TX

“Despite the challenging conditions in the national economy and housing sector, there are areas throughout the country where we are seeing pockets of improvement” says Bob Nielsen, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder from Reno, Nevada. “Housing conditions are local, and do not always reflect the national picture. We created this new index to shine a light on those housing markets across the country that have stabilized and have begun to show signs of recovery.”

“By examining key indicators of home prices, employment and housing permits data, we are using a comprehensive, but conservative method in determining which markets are improving,” says NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “Last year at this time, there was not a single market that showed improvement using these criteria, and now we can point to 12 examples of growth.”

“It’s not surprising that many of the states represented are energy rich areas,” Crowe continues. “Those are the regions still experiencing relatively strong employment, supporting housing demand.”

The IMI is designed to track housing markets throughout the country that are showing signs of improving economic health. The index measures three sets of independent monthly data to get a mark on the top improving Metropolitan Statistical Areas. The three indicators that are analyzed are employment growth from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, house price appreciation from Freddie Mac, and single-family housing permit growth from the U.S. Census Bureau. A metro area must see improvement in all three areas for at least six months following their respective troughs before being included on the improving markets list. NAHB uses the latest available data from these sources to generate the list of improving markets.

New River Valley Real Estate For Sale: 1000 J Progress Street Blacksburg, VA 24060

MLS#303466

Dynamic Location! Just hop on the bus right out your front door and enjoy an easy ride to VT campus and charming downtown Blacksburg. The galley style kitchen features an abundance of cabinet and counter space. A bright family room with balcony views is perfect for entertaining. Two spacious bedrooms and a lovely shared bathroom make this an ideal place for students. Tenant occupied till June 2012 means this is an instant fantastic investment. Call me today for more details on this awesome condo in the heart of Blacksburg.

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

 

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