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The Top Ten Things to Look for When House Hunting

by Desi Sowers

House hunting can be overwhelming sometimes, especially when beginning the search for your first home.  Chances are you might get caught up in the process and important details might slip by you. While the number of rooms, condition of the kitchen, and size of the yard are important, there are other things to consider before you make an offer.  This list of things to look for can help get your search off to the right start.

 

  1.      Location, Location, Location
    They say that the 3 most important things to look for when buying a home are location, location and location.  While a home might not be perfect, loving your neighborhood and neighbors can make all the difference in living with imperfection.  And face it…you can change almost anything about your house, but you can’t change its location or the people living nearby.  When you go house hunting, make sure to consider the home’s proximity to your work, the appeal of the neighborhood, when in the neighborhood the home is situated, ease of access, noise from neighbors, traffic, pets and access to parks, shopping, schools and public transportation.

 

  1.      Home Placement
    Beyond location, look at how the home is situated.  If the home is on a hill does it have a view, a walkout basement, or lots of stairs to climb? Do neighbors' windows look directly into the home? Is the yard suitable for kids, pets, gardening, or other uses? Is their safe access to the home? These are all important questions to ask yourself when determining if it is the right property for you.

 

  1.      Check Out the Neighborhood
    While it’s important for your house to meet your expectations, it’s equally important that the neighborhood meets them too. Take a drive around the development you are interested in on week days and weekends, during the day and in the evening.  Are the homes in good repair? Are yards kept clean and tidy?  Is the neighborhood safe enough for people to walk, run or bike?  Are there children playing outdoors?

 

  1.       Consider a Home’s Curb Appeal
    You want a home that is going to reflect your lifestyle. Do you live a    casual, laid-back life? Then you probably won’t want a formal Victorian or Tudor style home.  A simple, contemporary home might better suit you.  Pay close attention to exterior features.  Think about maintenance.  For example, a brick home is easier to maintain than one with siding.  Do you like working in the yard?  If not, you might not want a house with extensive landscaping.  Is the roof in good condition?  Attention to detail will help you choose the home with the best curb appeal for you.

 

  1.       Size and Floor Plan
    You may be thinking about buying your dream home. But is your dream home practical?  Do you actually need 4 bedrooms and 4 baths when you live alone? A spacious home may provide  the extra room you've always wanted for a home office or a theater room, but you'll pay higher heating bills and have higher taxes. Additionally, it will take more furniture to furnish and money to decorate. Think about how the new home space will be used and whether it will fit your lifestyle now and in the future.

 

  1.        Bedrooms and Bathrooms
    Decide how many bedrooms and bathrooms you will need and only    look at homes that meet that criteria.  You don’t want to fall in love with what is otherwise a perfect house if it doesn’t provide the space needed for your family.  It’s smart to consider counting an extra bedroom in that number so that you have extra space for a home office or guest room. If you think you might add on to the home later, make sure you consult an architect who can advise you on space planning and regulations.

 

  1.         The Kitchen
    For many people, the kitchen is the heart of the home. Don’t settle for a home with a kitchen that doesn’t work for you.  Yes, you can remodel later, but at great expense.  If it’s an easy fix like replacing cabinets or countertops, get a price quote before committing the house so that you will know if it is within your budget to take that on.

 

  1.          Closets and Storage
    Older homes often have small closets and lack storage space.  As you’re looking at a home ask yourself where you will store your belongings.  Tiny closets don’t have to be a deal breaker.  There are ways to maximize storage without renovations. Newer homes tend to have lots of storage and you may sacrifice living space while having more closet space than you actually need.

 

  1.          Windows and Lighting
    While looking at a home keep in mind your preferences regarding light and privacy.  Do you want a lot of windows to provider bright, sunny rooms?  Pay attention to the locations of electrical outlets and fixtures to make sure they will meet your lighting needs. 

 

  1.            Finishing Touches
    Even a simple home can look spectacular with the right moldings, hardware, and a fireplace.  If elements like these are important to you, look for them while house hunting. 

 

You may not find everything you want in one house, but keep this list handy and you are more likely to find the home that best suits your needs and desires.  Happy House Hunting!

If you are interested in buying a New River Valley home, contact Desi Sowers at 540-320-1328, and discover the difference she can make during your family's move. 

 

Lucky Number 7 for First-Time Homeowners

by Desi Sowers

With the tax code constantly changing, first-time homebuyers need to educate themselves to understand year-to-year changes.  As an incentive to buy homes, the government provides tax breaks to existing and new homeowners.  Homeowners receive multiple tax deductions, tax credits and other breaks that aren’t available to those who rent.  If you bought your first home in 2016, it is smart to familiarize yourself with current homeowner tax breaks so you can take advantage of them and save some money.

  1. HOME MORTGAGE INTEREST DEDUCTION

The mortgage interest deduction is one of the largest home tax breaks and is a significant new homeowner tax credit.  It covers interest paid on loans of up to $1 million, or $500,000 if you’re married but filing a separate return. This deduction can especially benefit borrowers with new loans because interest changes on mortgages are typically steeper in the early years of the mortgage’s term. Don’t miss out on this money saving tax credit.  Your loan provider should send you a form 1098 which will show how much interest you paid the previous year.

Instructions For Home Mortgage Interest Deduction

 

  1. MORTGAGE INTEREST CREDIT

The federal government's mortgage interest credit provides another chance for first-time homebuyers to claim a tax break for the mortgage interest they paid. Unlike the mortgage interest deduction,             which reduces your taxable income, this mortgage interest credit directly counts against your tax bill, lowering what you owe.  To be eligible for this strategic tax break, a state or local government must have issued you a MORTGAGE CREDIT CERTIFICATE.  Typically, this certificate is issued when you originate your mortgage.  It tells you how much interest you can claim as a credit.  If you also claim a    mortgage interest deduction when you file your taxes, you must reduce the credit by that amount.   Mortgage Interest Credit Form

 

  1. MORTGAGE POINTS DEDUCTION

You can also deduct what you pay in points to obtain the mortgage loan in the first place. Mortgage points are prepaid interest that can help a borrower qualify for a lower interest rate over the life of the loan. How to Deduct Mortgage Points on Your Tax Return

 

  1. TAX FREE IRA WITHDRAWALS

Saving money for a down payment and closing costs is something many people have to do when buying a home. The IRS says you can pull funds from your IRA to help. You can take up to $10,000 from your IRA without penalty to buy a home, although you'll still need to pay taxes on the money. Your 401k plan does not qualify for the exception to the 10 percent penalty. How to Tap an IRA for a Home Purchase

 

  1. PROPERTY TAX DEDUCTION

Property taxes are one of the many advantageous tax breaks for first-time homebuyers. You can deduct property taxes paid during the year for which you're filing. If you purchase a home midway through the tax year, you can claim all taxes paid from the date of sale onward.  How to Claim Property Taxes

 

  1. HOME IMPROVEMENT TAX BREAKS

Improvements you make to a home can qualify for a tax break. If you use a home equity loan or other loan secured by your home to finance improvements, the loan will qualify for the same mortgage interest deductions as your main mortgage.  Home Improvements that are Tax Deductible

 

  1. HOME ENERGY TAX BREAKS

Unfortunately, two property-related home improvement tax credits have been eliminated as of Jan. 1, 2017. That means both credits will no longer apply beginning with the 2017 tax year.  They are: the Nonbusiness Energy Property Credit and the Residential Energy Property Tax Credit.  However, you can still claim these credits if you made qualifying improvements to your home during the 2016 tax year. Keep all receipts and contracts from the home improvements and use Form 5695 to file for this credit.

 

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Real-Estate-Myths-Dont-Let-Them-Fool-You

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Mortgage-Information

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Top-10-Remodeling-Projects-for-Adding-Value-to-Your-Home

How to Determine if You are Ready to Buy Your First House

by Desi Sowers

The decision to purchase your first home is not one that should be made lightly.  It is an important, life-changing decision that should be given serious consideration.  So, before you take the plunge into searching for the prefect home, here are some questions you should ask yourself to make sure that you are ready.

  1. Can I afford a home?  The first step is to determine if you can afford to buy a home based on your current financial situation.   Using a home affordability calculator will help you figure out how much you can afford by plugging in your income, debt and the amount of a down payment you will be able to make.   You will now have a number of the highest amount you can afford and what the monthly payment will be.
  2. Is it better for me to rent or buy?  The answer to this question depends upon what kind of market you are in because inventory can make a huge difference. Using a rent vs buy calculator will allow you to crunch the numbers. You can enter the current amount of rent you’re paying (or how much you would be able to pay) and the zip code where you want to live. The calculator will provide a comparison of the cost of buying a home versus renting in that area.  You will also be able to see which option is more cost effective over time.
  3. How long will I live here?  If you plan to stay in a home for a long time, it is generally better to buy versus rent. If you’re going to be living somewhere for a short term, renting might be the better option.  The reason is that when you buy a home you will likely have to pay closing costs which can total in the thousands of dollars.  In addition, most of your early mortgage payments go toward interest rather than paying down the principal, which is the actual amount you owe on the home.  A good rule of thumb is that home buyers should stay put for at least five years.  Otherwise, renting is better.
  4. Are you saving for retirement?  Retirement may seem a long way off to young home-buyers, but it is important to start saving early.  It’s not a good idea to neglect your retirement accounts in order to “save” money to put down on a house. Consider meeting with a financial counselor who can help you find a balance in saving for retirement and saving for your first home at the same time.
  5. Am I ready for the responsibility?  Owning a home is a huge responsibility.  With rentals, you can call your landlord to fix things that aren’t working in the home, but as an owner, it all comes down to you.  You need to be sure that you have the time, willingness and resources to keep up with home and yard maintenance.

 

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Dont-Wait-Buy-Your-Home-in-2017

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/How-to-Get-Out-of-Debt-and-Buy-a-House

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Mortgage-Information

Protect Your Home from Fire: Four Surprising Fire Hazards

by Desi Sowers

It is estimated by The National Fire Protection Association that over 47,000 home fires reported to fire departments are caused by some kind of electrical failure as a trigger to ignition.  But there are some other unusual ways that fires can start that we should all be aware of.

Dishwashers

While you may be aware that overheating dryers or ovens can cause fires, you might think dishwashers are safe because they have water. And water puts out fires…right? Wrong!  Dishwasher fires can be caused by liquids coming into contact with the machine’s wires.  Serious damage can occur when fires are ignited in dishwashers.  According to a 25 year veteran of the New York City Fire Department, any appliance that powers a motor, heating element, or both always has a higher risk for fire - and dishwashers are a common example.  He advises that they never be turned on when going to sleep or leaving the home.

Jars and other glass objects

According to survivalists, one of the best ways to start a fire is to use a piece of glass to refract sunlight onto dry wood.  Without proper care, that same scientific process can happen on your own kitchen table.  In 2015 a fire broke out in a southwest London home because of sun rays reflecting through an empty Nutella jar, the Associated Press reported.  While it may seem to be an freakish way for a fire to start, the fire brigade’s investigative unit confirmed that the glass jar was to blame.  The chances of this happening in your home are slim, but it is important to remember to never store flammable liquids like gasoline, cleaning fluids, paint thinners and even cooking oils in glass jars that you intend to leave out in the sunlight.  Metal cans for commercial-use flammable liquids and plastic containers for things such as cooking oils are safer options.

Rodents

Small rodents like squirrels and rats like to burrow into your attic insulation in cold weather and chew anything they can get their teeth on, including rubber covered electrical lines.  Unfortunately, if electrical wires become exposed dud to their protective insulation being compromised, there is a likelihood of igniting a flame.  The key to preventing this from happening is to keep the critters out to begin with. Before winter season, make sure all vents are covered, holes are patched and cracks are sealed.

Laptops

If you have ever had your laptop computer in your, well, lap for an extended period of time, you know that they get hot.  Because of this, it is a bad idea to leave one sitting on a flammable surface such as bedding, furniture or carpet.  But the real culprit behind laptop fires is the lithium in the batteries.  A poorly made battery can overheat and burst into flames.  Recently the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphones were recalled because they were catching on fire and it was the lithium batteries that were the problem.  Any device powered by lithium ion batteries should be shut off when not in use and stored away from any flammable items.

 

More hidden home fire hazards  HERE!

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

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/12-Simple-Home-Repairs-to-Lift-You-Out-of-Winters-Funk

A college town can be a great place to purchase an investment property.  There are numerous positive attributes to living in a college town that can make owning a property there a profitable endeavor. But, as with everything, there are pros and cons.

Pros:

Lots of potential tenants:  A college town has a large population of renters.  Each semester new students are arriving and need to find a place to call home.  You should have no problem keeping your property continuously rented.

Stable rent:  Since the demand for rentals is so high in a college town, it helps to keep rental prices  in the area strong, even when other parts of the housing market aren’t doing so well. Also, consider that it is often the parents of students, or the university itself that pay for off campus housing, so you may be able to charge higher rental prices.

Fewer vacancies: Again, the high demand for rentals in a college town pays off.  There are always new students and faculty members looking for places to live and fewer vacancies mean more competition and ultimately may allow you to get higher rental prices.

The area sells itself:  You don’t have to spend any time “selling” the area. It sells itself with the many attractive amenities that draw people to college towns.

 

Cons:

Tenant turnover:  With a large population of renters, comes frequent turnover.  Most tenants in a college town will be short term. They will live there until they finish school or get a new job and then they move on.  Most of these tenants will not want to sign long leases.  You must be prepared to accept a one year lease and understand that turnover will happen often.

Difficulty in finding tenants during “off season”: Fewer students attend college during the summer, so you may find yourself with a vacancy during the summer months. One way to avoid that is to have tenants sign a 12-month lease verses a 9 month (school year) or month to month lease. 

Excessive Wear & Tear:  College living is hard on property. Young adult students don’t always have a lot of respect for their living space.  Immaturity, alcohol use and parents footing the bill can all contribute to this lack of concern for your property.  Property damage is common and repairs often exceed the amount collected in a security deposit.  This is something to consider when renting to college students.

Time and energy: This is not a passive investment. You will need to be a hands-on property owner. Between the turnover, potential property damage and other issues that might come up (tenants being too loud, renters breaking leases), you will need to be actively involved in the rental process at all times.  If you are not up to that task, owning an investment property in a college town may not be for you.

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/The-Perks-of-Retiring-in-a-College-Town

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Dont-Wait-Buy-Your-Home-in-2017

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Buying-Remains-36-Cheaper-than-Renting

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.

Don’t Wait! Buy Your Home in 2017!

by Desi Sowers

If you have been thinking about buying a home, now is the time to do it.  And here are three significant reasons why:

  • Interest rates have begun to rise and will likely continue to do so.  Last year rates on 30 year mortgages bottomed out at 3.55%.  Now that the Federal Reserve finally decided to raise its key interest rate, mortgage rates have begun to slowly climb.  Currently the average rate is just above 4%; by 2019-2020, rates could climb to 6%.  The upside is that when rates go up, competition and housing prices generally go down.  Higher rates can mean that sellers might be more flexible in pricing.

  • Inventory is shrinking. In November, 2016, there were only 1.85 million homes for sale.  That is a 10% drop from the year before. And the number of homes for sale continues to steadily decline since just before the housing crash when inventory peaked.  It is predicted that that inventory will continue to shrink for the foreseeable future.  That means as a homebuyer, you have more homes to choose from today than you will next year. Or even next month.  Winter is commonly considered to be real estate’s off season. So if you get moving now, you’ll have less competition for those homes than you will in the peak spring and summer months.  The longer you wait to look for a home, the more competition you will face for fewer homes.
  • Home prices are still rising. Unfortunately for buyers, home prices now stand higher than before the 2007 crash.  They increased 5% between 2015 and 2016.  It is expected that they will continue to increase and additional 2% to 3% in 2017.  While it’s anyone’s guess how high prices will rise and how long they will remain high, the good news is that if you jump into the market right now you might just get into your home before prices go up! 

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Blacksburg-VA-Home-Sales-October-2016

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Mortgage-Information

 

 

 

 

If you are interested in buying a New River Valley home, contact Desi Sowers at 540-320-1328, and discover the difference she can make during your family's move. 

New Home New Traditions

by Desi Sowers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If this is your first holiday in your new home, it is a perfect time to start some new traditions!  When you move, you don’t leave everything behind.  You bring your belongings and your memories and yes, your traditions.  But a fresh start in an unfamiliar house is just the inspiration you need to begin unique traditions that will make that house feel like your home.

Check out these fun ideas for creating new traditions:

  • Take and annual family photo. Choose a theme or a pose that you can recreate every year.  Label the photos with the date and create a photo book or framed collage with them.  It will be so much fun for your family to see how everyone changes through the years. Creative Family Photo Ideas
  • Incorporate a cultural tradition.  No matter what holiday you celebrate, you will find a cultural tradition to go with it.  Make it a family activity to research your heritage and make new discoveries about how your ancestors celebrated.  Multi-Cultural Holiday Celebrations

     
  • Gratitude. Sometimes we take all that we have for granted. A wonderful way to experience the holiday spirit is to express gratitude.  This can be a fun and meaningful activity for the whole family.  Go outdoors and find a branch to use to hold your “leaves of gratitude”. Cut leaves out of colorful paper and each day have family members write something they are grateful for on a leaf. Then hang the leaves on the “tree” to create a beautiful reminder of all that is right with your world!  Gratitude Tree

If you are still in search of the perfect house to make your new home, contact

Desi Sowers for all your real estate needs! Happy Holidays!

New River Valley VA Real Estate For Sale
1020 Falor Lane, Christiansburg, VA  24073

MLS# 325680

 

View the Tour

Welcome to the desirable Walnut Creek neighborhood where this nearly new picture perfect 3 bedroom colonial is just waiting for you to arrive! Warmly welcoming you with a casual elegance that showcases a symphony of tasteful amenities including a flowing floor plan, easy care flooring, neutral colors, modern fixtures and lighting, low maintenance stone and vinyl siding, 1 car garage and exceptional outdoor space. Setting the scene for comfortable day to day living, these impressive rooms include a sun filled living room with deck access and formal dining for memorable family gatherings. Masterfully outfitted with a full complement of stainless steel appliances, pantry closet, and an abundance of cabinetry, this modern kitchen is sure to whet your appetite. Three generously sized bedrooms including the master suite that is sure to sweep you away featuring plush carpeting, walk in closet and bath with his/her vanities and tub/shower. Enjoy the peace and quiet on this cul de sac lot with a large fenced yard, deck and quality landscaping. Expansion possibilities in the already plumbed basement that could easily be finished. Modern, chic and move in ready; make your appointment today.

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.

New River Valley VA Real Estate For Sale
5643 Brush Creek Road, Riner, VA  24149

MLS# 325508

View the Tour

Welcome home to 5643 Brush Creek Road, a charming brick rancher on a sprawling, private and mostly wooded 6.69 acre lot with a bubbling spring and scenic views. Offering so much potential with the chance to add your own personal touches, this 4 bedroom, 2 bath home features a newer roof, full basement, spacious rooms, lots of storage, laundry room, plus located in the desirable Auburn school system. A flowing floor plan built for family enjoyment starts in the expansive living room with many windows filling the space with natural light. Host guests in the dining room with access to the wrap around deck for exceptional indoor/outdoor entertaining! Preparing a meal will be a breeze in this bright kitchen with cabinet and counter space galore, plus a bay windowed breakfast area to sip your morning coffee. Rest easy in the main level master and second bedroom with plentiful closet space and a shared full bathroom. Relax and unwind in the large family room in the basement, plus two bedrooms for privacy and room to grow. Future expansion possibilities in the unfinished basement space. Take advantage of all the opportunities this beautiful setting and home offers, make your appointment today!

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.

Displaying blog entries 21-29 of 29

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