Real Estate Information Archive

Blog

Displaying blog entries 11-20 of 208

The 50-20-30 Rule - Learning to Live on a Budget

by Desi Sowers

If you are new to budgeting, managing your money may seem complicated and overwhelming.  You not only have to be organized, but you must make challenging decisions about how to spend your money.  But there is good news for you.  You don’t need fancy financial apps on your phone or extensive spreadsheets with dozens of categories of spending to see how your money is being spent.  You simply need to follow the 50-20-30 rule!

The 50-20-30 rule assists you in building a budget by using three spending categories. 

  1. 50% of your income should go to living expenses and essentials including rent, utilities, groceries and transportation.
  2. 20% should go to savings, investments and Debt Reduction payments.
  3. 30% of your income should be used for flexible spending. This includes everything you buy that you want, but don’t necessarily need such as travel, going out to movies etc.

Remember that the percentages for essentials and flexible spending are the maximum amounts you should spend.  If you use less income in these categories, you will have more to put into your other financial goals.

Here is how to start the 50-20-30 budget. First, determine exactly how much money you bring home each month.  This will be the amount you will base your 50-20-30 split on.  Then Track Your Spending. Every penny of it, from your rent payment down to the coffee you stop for on the way to work in the morning.  As you are analyzing your spending, split it into the 50-20-30 categories.  Once you see what you are spending where, you can make the needed adjustments to ensure you are falling into the 50-20-30 parameters.  If you find you are spending too much on things that you want but don’t need, that’s when it is time to cut back.

The 50-20-30 rule works because it provides a simple way to track your spending so that you can pay your bills, add to your savings and have money left over for fun stuff.  It keeps you on the straight and narrow so that you can begin to meet your financial goals.  If you stay the course, you will eventually achieve financial stability.

Have you been saving to become a homeowner?  If you are thinking of purchasing a home, contact experienced, professional Realtor Desi Sowers and let her assist you with all your real estate needs!  Call her today at 540-320-1328!

Photo Credit: pinterest.com

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

New River Valley VA Real Estate 200 Hagan Street Christiansburg VA 24073
 
 
 
View the Tour

 

Pack your things and get ready to move! Here is your chance to live in a charming Bungalow with in-town conveniences. An inviting covered porch overlooking nearly a half-acre sets the scene for this sparkling move-in ready home. One lucky buyer will enjoy glistening refinished hardwood floors, neutral paint colors, sun drenched rooms, built-in’s, French doors, vinyl windows and the pride of home ownership! A bright kitchen offers ample cabinet and counter space plus an adjoining breakfast area that is just waiting for a family to make memories. Main level master and two upper bedrooms for a dreamy night’s rest. Large unfinished basement includes a laundry area, outside access and plenty of storage. Gorgeous lot with mature trees, garden area and storage shed. Ready set go, first time home buyers this is the home you have been looking for.

You don’t have to just visit; you can live here and enjoy Virginia’s growing economy and vacation-like lifestyle! With easy access to I-81 you can appreciate a prime example of why New River Valley VA is such a desired place to live and play.

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.

Pool Ownership - Love It or Leave It?

by Desi Sowers

Summer is almost here and it is getting hotter with every passing day.  There is nothing more refreshing on a steamy summer day than slipping into the coolness of a swimming pool.  The idea of having a swimming pool in your own backyard sounds very appealing, but before you decide to install one, take some time to learn the pros and cons of pool ownership.

Pros:

  • Family Time - What better way to spend a hot summer day than playing in the pool with your family?  Spending time with family is one of the biggest reasons people get pools.  Gathering your family together in the heat of summer to sit around inside your home isn’t half as much fun as swimming and being around the pool together.  A swimming pool provides activity and fun for families. 17 Swimming Pool Games for Kids This Summer
  • Entertainment - Many people enjoy hosting backyard cookouts during the summer months. Having a pool makes cookouts even better.  A pool will keep your guests cool and entertained.  Celebrating special occasions poolside makes them more fun!
  • Lifestyle & Convenience -  Being able to walk out your back door and relax by the pool is another reason why pools continue to be a popular choice for homeowners.  Going to a public pool isn’t always relaxing.  First, you must pack up everything you’ll need for the day - towels, books/magazines, water, snacks/lunch, goggles, pool toys etc.  Once you get that all in the car, you have to drive to the pool, find a parking place and lug all that stuff into the pool area. Then hopefully you find a chair (or if you brought your kids, two or more chairs together).  Once you finally settle in and open your book, relaxation may not come easy at a crowded pool with loads of screaming children splashing and playing around you.  Now, imagine simply stepping out your back door with book, towel and drink in hand, lying in a comfy chair, and enjoying a quiet day of reading and cooling off in the crystal water of your own pool.  Sounds pretty spectacular to me! 
  • Aesthetics - A pool makes a beautiful centerpiece for the backyard.  With attractive landscaping and lovely patio furniture, a sparkling pool can become the crown jewel of your outdoor living space.17 Swimming Pools That Make us Wish that Year-Round Summer Was a Thing
  • Health - An increasingly popular reason to own a swimming pool is for physical activity. Swimming has been a favorite form of recreational activity for a long time.  Whether you do lap swimming or water aerobics, physical activity in the pool can help you stay in shape while also being easy on your joints. 

Cons:

  • Time - If you already live a busy lifestyle and you are rarely at home, a swimming pool is probably not for you.  There is no point in having something that you are not going to use.
  • Lifestyle -  Many people think “if only I had a pool, I would use it all the time!”. And maybe you would. Maybe you would stay home more often and exercise more.  But you must be realistic.  Just like having a pair of running shoes doesn’t make you a runner, having a pool might not make you change your current lifestyle.  And you can’t hide your pool in your closet.  Before installing a pool, give a lot of thought as to whether you will use it enough to make it worthwhile so that you don’t end up with buyers’ remorse.
  • Money - Installing and owning a swimming pool means spending some money.  Most people will finance their pool, so you have to budget for the monthly payments.  Also, there will be costs for upkeep.  There will be monthly chemical and utility costs.  If you don’t think you will use the pool enough or that you will want to spend that money elsewhere, purchasing a swimming pool is probably not a wise financial move.
  • Upkeep - Pools don’t take care of themselves.  They have to be cleaned and maintained regularly.  At the beginning of summer, you have to “open” your pool and at the end of the season you must “close” it.  It’s a lot of work.  You are either going to have to do that work yourself, or you’re going to have to hire someone to do it. Either way, you need to decide if you will use the pool enough to make it worth it. Pool Maintenance 101

Getting a pool is a big expense, so carefully think through the pros and cons before having one installed!

If you are in the market for a new home in the New River Valley area and you would like a home that already has a swimming pool, Desi Sowers can help you find it!  Give her a call at 540-320-1328 and let her assist you in finding your dream home today!

Photo Credit: houselogic.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!

It’s Cookout Time! How to Clean Your Gas Grill

by Desi Sowers

Spring has sprung and for many families, that means it’s cookout time!  One of the best things about cooking out on the grill is that there are fewer pots and pans to wash than with stovetop cooking.  While you don’t have to scrub down your gas grill to shiny perfection after each use, it is important to give it a deep clean every now and then to make sure it runs safely and efficiently.  Here’s how!

  • Gather your cleaning supplies - You may want to use gloves and you will need a grill brush or some other type of cleaning brush.  You will also need old cleaning rags or paper towels, a bristle brush or putty knife, and soap and water.
     
  • Turn off the gas supply - This is very important!  Make sure the gas supply is turned off or play it extra safe and remove the gas tank from the grill while cleaning it.
     
  • Remove the grill grates - Pull them out so you can give them a thorough cleaning. Scrub them with a grill brush or other coarse brush.
     
  • Clean anything covering the burners - Remove any V-shaped metal heat tents, ceramic briquettes, or lava stones that cover the burners and brush them clean.  You will want all the Gas Grill Parts to be spic and span.
     
  • Clean the burner tubes - Lightly brush the burner tubes and make sure all the gas ports are clean and open.
     
  • Clean the bottom of the grill and the lid - Brush or wipe any debris out of the bottom of the grill. If there is peeling black stuff (usually carbon flakes and grease) on the grill lid or bottom, use a bristle brush or putty knife to scrape it off
     
  • Clean the grease collection tray - Use soap and water to clean the grease collection tray and replace any disposable pans as needed.  Make sure to dispose of grease properly - pour it into an empty can or bottle, wait for it to harden, then throw the whole thing away.
     
  • Wipe down the outside of the grill - With a rag or paper towel, wipe down the outside of the grill and any side trays using soap and water.
     
  • Put the grill back together - Now you’re ready for a cookout!!

Are you looking for a home with a great outdoor space for cookouts?  Desi Sowers is an experienced Realtor who can help you find just what you’re looking for. Give her a call at 540-320-1328 today!

Photo Credit: doityourself.com

Nine Ways to Make the Outdoors More Enjoyable in Spring

by Desi Sowers

Spring is just around the corner and many people enjoy spending time outdoors to savor the warmer weather.  Unfortunately, there are some not-so-pleasant aspects of spending time outside such as bugs, rain and hot, humid days. Whether you have a deck, patio or a fancy She Shed, the following tips will help make the time you spend outside more comfortable in any situation:

  1. 1. BUGS.  Yuck.  Whether you are hosting an alfresco dinner party or just simply trying to relax with a good book on your deck, nothing will send you running back inside faster than nasty, annoying bugs.  If mosquitoes are a problem in your area, dealing with them is imperative if you want to be able to enjoy the outdoors.  Screening in a porch is an ideal way to be able to feel like you are outside without all the awful bug bites. Check out these screened porch ideas on Pinterest.  Other ways to keep insects away:
  • Do not keep any standing water on your property.  Even a single forgotten flowerpot full of rainwater can become a mosquito breeding ground.
  • Make water features running rather than standing, or treat them with Mosquito Dunks.
  • Install ceiling fans on porches - flies and mosquitoes do not like moving air.
     
  1. 2. USE OUTDOOR FABRICS IN EXPOSED AREAS.  If your porch is covered, you may be able to get away with using more delicate furniture and cushions not specifically made for outdoor use.  But if your seating area is exposed to the elements, you will want to invest in fabrics and furniture made for outside use.  They will likely be more expensive, but they won’t fade in the sun, will resist stains and are water resistant.  The cushions are stuffed with material that sheds water easily so that they won’t stay waterlogged if they get wet.
     
  2. 3. UTILIZE A STORAGE BENCH.  While outdoor cushions are designed to stand up to repeated soakings, they will still be wet for a while directly after a rainstorm.  You can avoid having to sit on damp cushions by keeping them in a covered storage bench when you know there is a chance of rain.  If they won’t fit in a storage bench, lean your larger cushions against the wall of the house.  Do the same with any lightweight folding chairs.
     
  3. 4. MASK SOUNDS WITH RUNNING WATER.  If noise is an issue that prevents you from indulging in a peaceful outdoor experience, try using a water feature to drown out the distraction.  Water is a great way to gently camouflage sounds from close neighbors.  Try installing a small fountain near your seating area for a more tranquil atmosphere.
     
  4. 5. MUSIC. If the water feature doesn’t appeal to you, soft music playing in the background can be just as effective at masking sounds.  With wireless speakers, you don’t even need an outlet to play your music.
     
  5. 6. SHADE.  Even when you are craving the warmth of the sun, sitting outside without any shade on a hot, sunny day will send you running for the AC before too long.  There are a lot of options for adding shade to your yard.  Try freestanding umbrellas, a cloth overhang, lattices, a shade tree or a pergola.
     
  6. 7. PUT TOGETHER AN OUTDOOR DINING KIT.  Dining alfresco will be easier if you have a kit ready and waiting.  Put your frequently used outdoor items in a basket or on a big tray with handles so you can just grab it and go.  Here are some things to include:
  • Unbreakable wineglasses and plates
  • A carafe for water, wine or tea
  • Big napkins
  • Candles and matches or a lighter
  • A wicker or mesh dome-shaped cover to keep flies off the food
  • Unbreakable outdoor serving pieces
  • A bottle opener
  1. 8. HAVE BLANKETS FOR CHILLY EVENINGS. Keep some blankets nearby.  Old wool camp-style blankets, light weight Kantha Blankets, or fringed throws work well.  Your guests will thank you on chilly evenings in the garden!
     
  2. 9. HAVE ADEQUATE NIGHTTIME LIGHTING.  Your outdoor space will really come alive at night with the right lighting.  Try placing lighting under a bench seat for subtle illumination, make a ring of lanterns on the grass around your dining table or hang strings of lights overhead.  Landscape lighting will add to the ambiance as well.

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

Photo Credit: HGTV.com

Creating a Kitchen That is Timeless and Functional

by Desi Sowers

Have you been thinking about remodeling your kitchen, but you’re not sure where to start?  Kitchens are important to resale value, so if you’re going to invest money in a remodel, you want to be sure that you end up with a kitchen that will stand the test of time.  So, instead of following fads that are currently popular, stick with classic features that will not only bring you joy, but will entice buyers should you ever sell your home.  Here are some tips for creating a kitchen that is timeless and functional:

  1. Brighten up your kitchen using white as the dominant color. White is the most marketable color and never goes out of style. It is associated with happiness and new beginnings.  It makes small spaces look bigger.  And best of all, it’s easy on the budget due to its availability.
     
  2. Install hardwood flooring. Hardwood floors are popular among buyers.  Hardwood adds warmth and coziness to a home.  It’s great for open floor plans because it flows beautifully from one room to another. It’s durable and long-lasting. And if “going green” is important to you, hardwood is echo friendly.  It’s considered a “green” building material when it has been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council and comes from sustainably managed forests.
     
  3. Choose cabinets that have clean lines, like Shaker style cabinets.  The clean lines of these cabinets will be in style forever. Their beauty is in their simplicity.  They help limit the “busyness” of the kitchen, creating a soothing, peaceful vibe.  They also transition easily should the next homeowner want a change of style.  Whether you want a traditional or contemporary look, these cabinets will work for both.
     
  4. Go with marble countertops; specifically, Carrara Marble.  Carrara marble has been used in homes for centuries.  It looks fantastic in a white kitchen, but also with other colors. It’s affordable and readily available and will last for generations.  You will find some critics who will tell you that it stains easily, but that can be avoided with proper sealing. If you want a truly timeless look, Carrara marble is the way to go.
     
  5. Include smart storage.  If you currently store many of your kitchen supplies in other areas of the home due to lack of storage space, now is the time to change that!  Cabinets that are being made today feature a plethora of storage options including shelves and compartments that unfold, extend, slide and turn.  Have fun and be creative when designing kitchen storage

You will love your new kitchen and future potential buyers will find it irresistible!

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

 

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Displaying blog entries 11-20 of 208

Syndication

Categories

Archives

Each Office Independently Owned and Operated