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Unless you plan to stay in a home for the rest of your life, resale value should be a major consideration when purchasing a house. Home-ownership is a huge financial investment and the goal should be to get as much monetary return as possible when you sell.  While you can’t always predict what the future holds for the real estate market, there are some basic guidelines for what kind of properties have good resale value.  Don’t make the error of focusing only on what you want when doing your home search.  Think about the following factors that will affect the resale value:

  1. LOCATION - This should be a primary consideration when looking for a home that will provide a good return on your investment.  A desirable location is likely to remain a hot market for home sales.  Think about the school district you will be in.  Even if you don’t have children in school, a top district will draw many buyers.  Different people will be looking for different things, but most buyers will want basically the same things from the location of their home.  Home Buying: Location Matters
  2. NUMBER OF BEDROOMS - A house with more than two bedrooms will sell faster and for a better price than one with only one or two bedrooms.  Even a couple with no children will want extra space for an office or guestroom (or both).
  3. NUMBER OF BATHROOMS - Buyers will expect to pay much less for a home with only one bathroom.  If people are choosing between a house with one bathroom and one with two, they will almost always be willing to spend a little extra to get that additional restroom.
  4. GATHERING SPACE - Buyers want a large, informal space for relaxing and entertaining family and friends.  You will get more value out of a spacious family room than you will out of a formal living room.  Large Family Room Ideas
  5. STORAGE - These days people have a lot of “stuff” and they need places to put it all.  Storage space, including closets, a pantry and loads of cabinets will improve the odds of getting high bids for your house. 
  6. GARAGE - People who live in suburban areas need places to park their cars.  A covered parking place or two is ideal.
  7. OPEN FLOORPAN - Buyers are looking for homes with open spaces and rooms that flow from one to the next.  A house with an Open Floorplan will improve your chances for a profitable resale.
  8. OVERALL CONDITION - A property that is well-cared for, updated and remodeled will greatly enhance resale value.  Focus on rooms that matter most to buyers - kitchens and bathrooms. Make sure everything is in good working order.  Some people might be looking for a fixer upper, but many buyers are willing to pay a premium for a move-in ready home.

If you’re thinking about selling or buying a home in the New River Valley area, contact professional, experienced Realtor Desi Sowers and let her assist you with all of your real estate needs. Give her a call today at 540-320-1328!

Dog Lovers Unite! How to Find a Dog-Friendly Neighborhood

by Desi Sowers

When searching for your new home you want to make sure the neighborhood is a good fit for everyone in the family, including your pup. You will likely be looking for a nice yard, but it’s important to look beyond the property line. The type of neighborhood you end up in can make a huge difference in the quality of life for you and your fur babies. Here are a few signs that you have found a dog friendly environment:

- There are more groomers in a two-mile radius than hair salons…walk in appointments welcome!

- Restaurants and shops have water bowls and treats for visiting pups.

- Pet waste stations are abundant.

- The local dog park is always busy with happy pooches frolicking with friends.

Here are some more serious things to think about when considering the home and neighborhood that will work best for you and your pets:

- NEIGHBORS WITH DOGS.  They will be more understanding if your dog occasionally barks and are more likely to be helpful should you need someone to let your dog out or walk them while you are away from the house.

PET SHOPS.  Areas with a lot of pets mean that there will be pet shops conveniently available.

- SIDEWALKS. A neighborhood with sidewalks is idea for dog-walking.  Bonus point if they have waste stations too.

DOG PARKS. These are especially nice for urban areas. Check if there are off-leash hours or dog runs, or at least grassy areas where pups can run and play.

- MEET-UP GROUPS. Check and see if there are local meet-up groups available for playdates with other families with dogs. This is a great way for you to make friends as well!

If you are looking to move to the New River Valley area and want to find a pet friendly neighborhood, contact Desi Sowers at 540-320-1328 to start your home search today!

Photo Credit: thespruce.com

When choosing a new home, there are usually several items on the buyer’s list of priorities, but when kids are involved, school systems often top that list. According to the latest National Association of Realtors’ "Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers", more than half of all homebuyers with children under 18 years of age rate the quality of the local school district as a major factor influencing their choice of neighborhood.  People are often willing to pay more and sacrifice other desires to make sure they are in the best school district for their children. Private Schools may be a feasible alternative for some, but that is not the case for many. Even if buyers don’t have children (or plan to have them), they may still want to buy in where the schools have the best reputation because it will have a positive effect on resale value down the road. But keep in mind, that may mean that available homes in that area will harder to come by and might be more expensive than comparable homes in other areas. It’s also important to note though, that a poorly ranked school district does not automatically mean that the overall quality of local education in an area is poor.  You must do your research.  Consider the age of the schools, their physical condition, the student-to-teacher ratios and standardized test scores.  Understanding how the school system works in the New River Valley will be helpful in your search as well. Information is readily available online, but the best thing to do is to talk to someone who knows the area well. If you’re relocating to the New River Valley area,  Desi Sowers can not only help you find the perfect home, she can help you find the perfect home in the right school district!

Desi Sowers is an award-winning Realtor with over a decade of experience helping clients buy and sell homes in the New River Valley.  Call her at 540-320-1328 and start your home search today!!

Photo Credit: sheknows.com

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 a challenging time to purchase a home this spring because you not only have to find a property you want; you must also beat out all the other homebuyers who want to make an offer on it as well.  It is a Sellers' Market right now and that means supply is low and demand is high. This is especially true in the price ranges desired by first time homebuyers. The latest figures from the National Association of Realtors show that that there was only a 3.4-month supply of homes for sale in February, which is lower than the six-month supply that indicates a balanced market that equally benefits buyers and sellers.

So, home sales are moving quickly and often have multiple offers.  That means you need to be strategic to get into the home of your dreams.  Going to open houses and perusing listings is not enough to acquire the house you want in this market.

Seeking out an experienced Realtor to assist you in your search is vital to your success in buying a home this spring.  Realtors can help you with everything from finding properties, to placing appropriate offers and negotiating terms.   Knowing what is most important to sellers is key to winning a bidding war.  A good agent will know what motivates sellers.

Take the following steps to prepare and you will have a better chance at success:

  • Get your finances in order and shop for a Mortgage Pre-Approval prior to making an offer on a house.
  • Move quickly once you find the house you want.
  • Don’t make snap judgements based on listing photos. You must see a home in person to know if you truly love it or hate it.  Pictures do not tell the whole story!
  • Be realistic about the inspection and repairs.  In a competitive market, owners don’t need to make repairs to sell.  Inspections should be utilized to find major flaws that may be deal breakers for prospective buyers.
  • Start with your best offer. A competitive market is not the right market for negotiating a bargain.
  • Write a personal letter to the seller. You never know what might influence their decision.  Some homeowner love their house so much they want it to go to someone who will love it as much as they do.
  • Make a big earnest money deposit. A large deposit will let sellers know that you are serious about the purchase.
  • Make a backup offer. Even if a house is already under contract, the deal might still possibly fall apart for various reasons such as inspection issues or financing.  If you love a house, put a backup offer on it so that you will be first in line if the initial buyer walks away.
  • Consider waiving or shortening contingencies. Most offers are made contingent on the buyer being approved for a mortgage, the appraisal being equal to the purchase price and the buyer approving the inspection. Waiving any one of those contingencies can be risky, but may be worth taking a chance on in some circumstances.

Desi Sowers is an experienced, professional Realtor serving the New River Valley area in Virginia. If you’re looking to buy a home here, give her a call at 540-320-1328 and let her help you navigate this sellers’ market and successfully purchase the home of your dreams!

Searching for the right home is a huge endeavor.  Your home is where your heart is…where you feel safe and comfortable and happy. It’s the place where you spend time with your family, where you raise your children, where you come together in times of joy and sorrow.  So, choosing the perfect house is something that should never be taken lightly.  While feeling emotionally drawn to a home might feel good, it’s important to also consider practical aspects as well.  When deciding to make what will probably be your largest financial investment, you cannot rely solely on what you feel.  Both your head and your heart should be part of the decision-making process.

When you start your home search, chances are you’ve been thinking about it for a while and you have an idea of what you want.  If you’ve provided your Realtor with a list of wants and needs, she will find homes to show you that have as many of your wants and needs as possible.  You may walk into the very first home and immediately fall in love with it.  And that’s ok.  But that doesn’t mean you should stop your search and make an offer.  Here are some reasons why you should keep looking:

- There may be other homes with similar features, but lower asking prices.  Maybe the first home you fall in love with is the best one for you, but you can’t possibly know that if you haven’t compared it to any others.  It’s wise to shop around and compare that first home to others.

- You should take time to consider resale value.  Whether you are planning to stay in your new home long-term or you know you might be moving in a few years, resale value matters.  Shopping around will help you get a feeling for the area where you are looking. Is your “first love” home the nicest in the neighborhood?  If so, it may not appreciate in value as much as the others.  Educate yourself about features that provide high resale value before making a final decision on a home.

- Getting super excited about the aesthetics of a home can cause you to miss red flags.  You may walk into a home and immediately see beauty and perfection.  But that doesn’t mean it is in perfect condition.  Be careful to not get swept away by the look of the home.  Remember, you can’t judge a book by its cover and in the same respect, you can’t judge a home by its appearance.  There may be hidden problems that only a thorough, professional inspection will unearth.

- You will save yourself from experiencing “buyers’ remorse”.  Have you ever impulsively gotten a haircut, then looked in the mirror and wondered “what was I thinking?”  Choosing a home should never be an impulsive decision.  Don’t rush into it.  If, after looking at several more houses, you’re still in love with the first one you saw, go for it!  You can be confident in knowing that you are making an educated, thoughtful decision.

Falling in love with a home is just part of the equation when it comes to choosing the perfect place for you and your family to live.  Desi Sowers is committed to serving real estate clients in the New River Valley area. Contact her at 540-320-1328 and let her help you find your dream home today!

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

Photo Credit: thestoryfiles.wordpress.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

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

by Desi Sowers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by Desi Sowers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      1. Education & Experience

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

      2. Your Agent is Your Intermediary

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

     3. Neighborhood Knowledge

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

     4. Price Guidance

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

      5. Market Conditions

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

     6. Professional Networking

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

    7. Negotiation Skills & Confidentiality

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

    8. Paperwork!

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

    9. Questions After Closing

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

   10. Relationship Development

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

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

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

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

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

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