Real Estate Information Archive

Blog

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 31

Five Top Home Décor Trends for 2018

by Desi Sowers

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

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


Photo Credit: Flickr

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


Photo Credit: Amazon

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


Photo Credit: liwenyun.me

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



Photo Credit: My Vintage Porch

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


Photo Credit: The White Hydrangea Company

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

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

Saving Money: Lowering Your Electric Bill

by Desi Sowers

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Credit: YouTube.com

Everything You Need to Know About Choosing a Storage Unit

by Desi Sowers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo credit: sellallyourstuff.com

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

      1. Education & Experience

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

      2. Your Agent is Your Intermediary

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

     3. Neighborhood Knowledge

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

     4. Price Guidance

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

      5. Market Conditions

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

     6. Professional Networking

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

    7. Negotiation Skills & Confidentiality

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

    8. Paperwork!

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

    9. Questions After Closing

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

   10. Relationship Development

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

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

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

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

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

Making Holiday Guests Feel at Home

by Desi Sowers

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.  A time for friends and family to come together to celebrate the holidays.  Many of you will be hosting guests in your homes over the next few weeks and while you are surely delighted to spend time with your loved ones, it can be a stressful time as well.  If you are opening your doors to family members or friends this holiday season, here are some ideas for prepping your home so that you’ll be ready to welcome them with open arms.

Tidy up the house.  Use this as motivation to thoroughly clean your house. Get rid of clutter, make small house repairs and complete that decorating project you’ve been putting off.

Stock up on food and drinks. Make sure you have different types of beverages and snacks that your guests enjoy. It’s nice for them to be able to easily grab a quick snack whenever they want.

Have activities planned for your guests. Depending on how long they are staying, you may want to plan some special events or activities for your guests.  Whether it’s a shopping excursion, a day at a museum, a holiday concert or just a nice dinner out, your visitors will appreciate your thoughtfulness in keeping them entertained. Click here for a list of fun events happening in the New River Valley area this holiday season: Holiday Events

Be mindful of the little ones. If your guests include children, be sure to plan for them as well.  If you don’t have children, you may want to pick up a game or some arts and crafts to have around for them.  Find out their food preferences prior to their arrival so that you are prepared to accommodate them at meals. 

Provide comfortable sleeping spaces. Be sure to have nice, clean sheets, pillows and extra blankets.  If you have a guest bedroom that has not been used in a while, strip the bed and wash the bed linens so that they are fresh for your guests.  Prepping a Room for Holiday Guests

Provide toiletries.  The guest bathroom should have soap/body wash, shampoo, conditioner and lotion available for guests.  5 Tips for Preparing Bathroom for Guests

Give instructions for electronics. If the guest room has a television, leave written instructions for how to use the remote.

By following these tips and prepping your home ahead of time, you will be able to offer a warm welcome to your guests and enjoy the time you have with them!

 

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Thanksgiving-is-a-VERB

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Putting-Your-House-on-the-Market-During-the-Holidays

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/New-Home-New-Traditions

How to Prevent Electrical Hazards in Your Home

by Desi Sowers

Electricity is a beautiful thing.  It provides warmth in the winter and cools you off during hot summer months. It gives you light in the dark and makes chores like washing/drying clothes and doing dishes so much easier.  You take it for granted because you’ve always had it and you certainly can’t even imagine what life would be like without it.  Because it is such a normal part of your life, you probably don’t stop to think about how dangerous it can be.  It is important to be educated about possible electrical problems in your home so that you will know how to deal with them before they happen.

  1. Do you know how old your home is?  Often older homes don’t have the capacity for electricity that current technology uses.  If you have never had an electrical safety inspection by a professional, now is the time to do so.  If your home’s electrical wiring has not been updated to safely handle all the current that your family uses, it is crucial to have it done .
  2. Is your electrical panel hot to the touch?  It shouldn’t be.  Check the brand of your panel. Several brands are outdated or faulty and should be replaced.  A faulty electrical panel can lead to a fire.  That is not something anyone should risk.
  3. Outlets should not be hot either.  If you feel an electrical outlet and it is warm or hot, it means there could be a problem.  There are dangerous issues indicated by a warm/hot outlet. Whether it’s too much demand on the outlet, faulty or melting wiring, or other precarious situations, you don’t want to ignore it.
  4. Keep plugged in appliances away from water.  This seems obvious, right?  But sometimes limited space forces us to use electrical appliances near sinks or bathtubs.  Whether you are blow-drying your hair at your bathroom vanity or your kitchen only has one plug for your toaster and it’s right by the sink, be extra careful.  If a plugged-in appliance gets wet, don’t unplug it. Go to your electrical panel and unplug the power source for the outlet you’re using.  Then you can unplug it.
  5. Make sure you are using the correct wattage light bulbs.  Using a higher wattage than can safely be accommodated by a lamp or light fixture may overload its wiring, which is a fire hazard.  It’s ok to use a light bulb with wattage equal to or less than that called for on the lamp’s socket.  If you want brighter light, look for a lamp that uses a higher wattage bulb.
  6. Use an experienced, licensed electrician to handle your home’s electrical repairs and/or replacements.  Professional electricians are well-trained and have years of on-the-job experience before being granted a license.  They will know current codes and regulations and can safely navigate any problems they might come across.

It’s easy to prevent electrical hazards if you are informed and educated about what to be aware of.  So, don’t take electricity or your family’s safety for granted!

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

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Home-Maintenance-for-Winter

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

Putting Your House on the Market During the Holidays

by Desi Sowers

The idea of putting your home on the market during the holiday season may seem overwhelming at first, but it turns out there are several good reasons to do so. Don’t miss out on a great opportunity to get your house sold before the end of the year!

  1. If people are looking for a home during the holiday season, chances are they are serious buyers.
  2. Serious buyers have fewer properties to look at during this time of year, which means less competition and more money for you!
  3. Since the number of listings will increase dramatically in January, that means more competition and less money for you.
  4. Who doesn’t love a home delightfully decorated for the holidays?  Homes show better when festively dressed up!
  5. Buyers may have more time to look at houses during their holiday breaks.
  6. Some people want to buy before the end of the year for tax reasons.
  7. If you sell now, it may provide an opportunity for you to be a non-contingent buyer during the Spring, when many more houses are on the market for less money. This will allow you to sell high and buy low.

Tips for Selling a Home During the Holidays

If you would like to talk more about selling your home, give me a call at 540-320-1328 or visit my website to discover your new home!

Open Floor Plans: Love Them or Leave Them?

by Desi Sowers

Watch any of the home renovation or buying/selling shows on HGTV and you will hear people asking for open floor plans. Even in small houses, people want the feel of spaciousness that an open floor plan provides.  A “great room” with no wall between the kitchen and living space seems to be the most popular choice when it comes to floor plan considerations.  But is it the best choice for everyone?  Let’s look at the pros and cons of the open floor plan and see if it’s the right decision for you and your family.

Pros:

  • You won’t feel isolated.  If you are cooking or doing dishes in a kitchen that flows into the family room,  you will be able to chat with family and friends or continue watching television instead of being stuck in a closed off room by yourself.
  • You will be able to keep an eye on the kids.  A great room with no walls allows you to watch your kids at play while you are cooking or cleaning.
  • More natural light.  Without interior walls, sunlight will flow through the house from the exterior wall windows.  You will also have an unobstructed view of the great outdoors.
  • Ideal for entertaining.  When you have guests over, they can congregate throughout the great room, so you won’t miss anything if you are in the kitchen cooking and serving food.

Cons:

  • Lack of privacy.  If your household includes people of various ages on a multitude of different schedules, an open floor plan can make things challenging.  For example, if your teenager wants to have friends over for a study group at the kitchen table, but you want to watch a movie.  Or perhaps you want to read quietly on the couch, but your daughter’s having a sleepover and they want to have pizza and bake cookies.  A separate, enclosed kitchen may be better for some families.
  • Limited wall space. Placing furniture in an open space is tricky sometimes, especially if you have a lot of windows.  And if you are an art lover, you are going to want blank walls for displaying your treasures.
  • Overwhelming mess.  Smaller, enclosed rooms are easier to keep neat and tidy.  With open floor plans, stuff tends to spread out.  And you may not want kids’ toys in your main living space, so a smaller, enclosed room might be your preference for a play area.
  • Too noisy.  With an open plan, there are more acoustics, therefore noise travels further. A quiet conversation in the kitchen may not be possible with the television on across the way.

Remember, just because something is popular, doesn’t mean it’s right for you.  Think about what is going to suit your family’s needs before starting your home search.

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Selling-to-Millennial-Homebuyers

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Welcome-to-the-New-River-Valley

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

Home Inspections are Important: Here’s Why

by Desi Sowers

With all the fees and expenses involved in purchasing a home, it may be tempting to skip the home inspection to avoid spending the money.  But in the long run, it may cost you more to skip it.  Home inspections sometimes reveal things that ultimately could have cost you way more than the fee involved.

While you might believe the sellers are being honest about the condition of the home, it’s important not to take their word for it.  Truthfully, they probably are being honest.  But they don’t necessarily see what could be “wrong” with the house any more than you do.  That’s why you need an expert to come in and do the inspection. They can find things that never would be noticed by the naked eye because they know what to look for. Home inspectors can also give you advice and things to look out for in the future. With that information, you have an idea of how to prepare for potential costs down the road.

A home inspection can be a deal breaker as well.  For example, if sellers offer a discounted price or cash back for skipping the inspection, that is a huge red flag!  Walk away from the deal.   A home inspection only takes a few hours and is paid for by buyers, so there is no reason sellers should protest unless there are critical issues in the home they know about and are trying to hide.

When hiring a home inspector, you want someone with many years of experience and proper certifications and licenses. You also want someone who will be thorough…willing to go through the basement, attic and up on the roof to check out every nook and cranny of the home.  It’s important to gather as much information about the house as possible so that you know what you are getting in to.

It is not mandatory for you to be present for the inspection, but it’s a good idea to be there.  Some inspectors are happy to have you walk along with them and ask questions as you go.  Others will want to do the inspection on their own and then have you do a walk through with them after they are done.  Either way, be sure to look carefully through the report they give you and ask as many questions as you want.  Remember that you are paying for their time, so don’t hesitate to have them go over the report with you so that you have a clear understanding of it.

Even if your inspection comes up clean, the fee you pay is worth the price to have peace of mind. Include it in your home-buying budget and don’t think of it as an “extra” expense.  It is a crucial element of your decision in purchasing the home and paying a $450 fee and finding nothing wrong is better than skipping it and ending up having to replace your roof for $3000! 

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Investing-in-Real-Estate-Tips-for-Success

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

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Buying-a-Home-is-a-Sound-Financial-Investment

The Aging of Your House - How Long Will It Last?

by Desi Sowers

What is the life span of a house?  Some houses may survive for hundreds of years, but the individual components that make them up may not.  Parts of the house made of concrete or brick may last a long time, but other things such as appliances may only last ten years or so, regardless of how expensive they were to purchase. 

As seen in the graphic, components of the house made with hardy materials such as wood or stone flooring can last 100 years or more.  Other durables that can last a lifetime included natural stone or tile countertops, fiberglass, wood or fire-rated steel exterior doors, copper wiring and most types of insulation.

A study by the  National Association of Home Builders warns that life expectancy of homes will vary and the life span of an individual house’s component will depend greatly on the quality of installation, level of maintenance, weather and climate conditions and intensity of use.

Many homeowners will swap out house components or appliances before necessary due to changing styles and preferences or improvements in newer products.  Eligibility for tax credits or rebates and newer models that are more energy efficient and less costly to use may entice homeowners to replace items before the end of their useful life.

Consistent home maintenance is the best way to make your home, and all its various components, last as long as possible. 

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Autumn-Home-Maintenance-Must-Do-List

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/To-Renovate-or-Not-to-Renovate-Should-You-Fix-Up-Your-Home-or-Sell-it-As-Is

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Protect-Your-Home-from-Fire-Four-Surprising-Fire-Hazards

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 31

Syndication

Categories

Archives

Contact Information

Photo of Desi Sowers,  Associate Broker,  Real Estate
Desi Sowers, Associate Broker,
Certified Residential Specialist at REMAX 8
1344 N. Main Street
Blacksburg VA 24060
Phone: (540) 320-1328

Each Office Independently Owned and Operated