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Buying a Home During the Holiday Season

by Desi Sowers

The holiday season is just around the corner, and with everything that goes on this time of year, you may think that buying a house right now would be crazy!  But, really, there are a lot of reasons it makes sense to buy a house at the year’s end.  So, if you’ve been contemplating the purchase of a home, but thought you should put your search on hold for the holidays, here are some reasons why you should consider the holidays a great time to buy!

  1. THERE IS LESS COMPETITION - If you’ve been keeping up with the real estate market, you already know that right now there is a shortage of homes for sale. That means that sellers are often fielding several offers for their homes. But, since most people probably think this is a bad time of year to buy a home and move, that means there will be fewer buyers and fewer people making offers on homes.  You might actually get a great deal if a seller needs to be out of their house by the end of the year and you are the only one making an offer!
  2. MOTIVATED SELLERS - Let’s face it… nobody really wants to move during the holidays. But sometimes it can’t be helped.  It’s likely that people who are selling their home over the holidays are highly motivated to do so.  If you have a motivated seller combined with less competition from other buyers, chances are you are going to get a great deal on a home! A Home Buyer's Guide to Motivated Sellers
  3. MOTIVATED AGENTS - With less activity in the market this time of year, Realtors will be dealing with fewer clients.  This means they will have more time to devote to you and your search for the perfect home.  Also, getting a sales commission before year’s end is sure to be a motivating factor to bring your purchase to completion.
  4. LOWER INTEREST RATES - With Interest Rates Projected to Increase in 2019, now is the time to get that mortgage and save some money.  It might not seem like much, but may be surprised to discover how much you save over the life of your mortgage with just a small difference in the interest rate.
  5. LOWER PRICES - In addition to a lower interest rate, you will find that some people drop home prices when selling during the holidays.  This goes back to that “motivated seller” who really needs to move before the end of the year.  Historically, December has lower home prices than any other month.  There is no guarantee that home prices will drop, but it’s worth talking to a professional Realtor about the local market.
  6. FASTER CLOSINGS -  Generally, all the people involved in a real estate transaction want it done before year’s end.  As a buyer, you want to be settled in your new home and sellers certainly want to be moved and in their new homes as well.  Lenders want to include the loan in their current year’s books. And Realtors want to include their commissions on the current year’s income.  If you do your part and have all your paper work in order, your closing will be as quick and smooth as possible.

So, the moral of this story is…if you’re thinking of buying a house, you don’t have to wait!  Now is a great time to buy!  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 your real estate needs. Give her a call today at 540-320-1328!

Photo Credit: realtor.com

Why Location is Important When Purchasing a Home

by Desi Sowers

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “location, location, location!” before, but it has never meant more than when you are purchasing a home.  You can fall in love with your dream home, fix it up, renovate it; even change its structure, but if it’s in the wrong location, you likely can’t move it.  It’s attached to the land.  Identical homes can increase or decrease in value depending on their location.  Choosing the best area for living and resale value is equally as important as choosing your ideal home.  Here are a few things to be aware of when searching for the right location for your investment:

  • Top Rated School Districts

Homebuyers with children often seek homes in highly desirable school districts. They are willing to spend more for a home to enable their children to go the “best schools.”

  • Recreation & Nature

Homes on the water or near parks hold their value because people enjoy living where they can enjoy the outdoors.If you love the outdoors and being active, chances are you wouldn’t enjoy living in the middle of the city, or even in suburbs that require you to drive somewhere for outdoor recreation. Outdoors - Virginia's New River Valley

  • Scenic Views

A home with a scenic view often sells quickly. And there are plenty of breathtaking vistas to see in the New River Valley!  Mountains, golf courses, even a small glimpse of water are enough to entice buyers to purchase a home. It’s not only great for resale value, but you get to enjoy beautiful views while living there.

  • Entertainment & Shopping

While some buyers seek out scenic views, others may be looking for a home that enables them to walk to restaurants, movie theaters and boutiques.  If you prefer cultural activities to outdoor activities, then it would make sense for you to look for a home in a town or city.

  • Economically Stable Neighborhoods

Older neighborhoods that have survived economic recessions while maintaining evident pride of ownership appeal to buyers looking for long term stability.

  • Public Transportation, Healthcare & Jobs

Some buyers will be looking for convenience. They don’t want a long commute to work and want to have easy access to transportation and healthcare facilities. New River Valley Transportation Services

So, you may find your dream home but if it’s not in the right location, it might not be a dream come true. When purchasing a home remember…location, location, location!

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 your real estate needs. Give her a call today at 540-320-1328!

Photo Credit: hosteltrends.com

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

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

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

Finding Your Dream Home: Tips for Success

by Desi Sowers

With interest rates still relatively low, but expected to rise in 2018, now is the time to start your search for a new home.  Here are some tips to help you find your dream home:

 - Make a list of priorities.  Ideally, your dream home would have everything you want in it, but it’s still a good idea to make a list of what you want in order of importance to you. What are you most concerned about?  Location? Square footage?  Private backyard? You may have to give up one thing to get another, so you want to be prepared with your priorities so you will know what is non-negotiable for you.  Also, think about desires verses needs when making your list.  For example, a home might not have the vaulted ceilings that you love, but meets your needs and wants in every other way. Those vaulted ceilings are a “want” more than a “need”.

 - Think ahead.  How long do you plan to live in the home?  If you are single or newly married you may want a starter home that you will only stay in for a few years while you save for a larger home.  But if you are expanding your family or planning to work from home, make sure you factor in the space that you will need.  Don’t buy a house that will only suit your needs for a year if you think you may live there for ten years.  There is always the chance that things will change, but plan for what you know for sure now.

 - Decide on your “most lived in” spaces. Where do you spend the most time in your current home?  If you love to cook, chances are the kitchen is going to be the most important room for you.  If you are a homebody who likes to kick back and watch movies, your den or family room might be the room to focus on.  It might be challenging to find a home where you love every room, but you can give a little on the others if the one you use the most is perfect for you.

 - Stick to your budget.  While searching for your dream home, it may be tempting to extend your budget a bit. Don’t do it. A standard goal is to keep your mortgage payment (with taxes and insurance included) at around 25% of your monthly household income.  Make sure that you have looked at your overall monthly budget to see what you can really afford, and then limit your house hunting to properties in your price range.  Refrain from looking at houses 1-2 price ranges above yours. You don’t want to get excited about a property that you can’t afford. In addition, once you have seen them, the houses that you can afford won’t look as good in comparison.  The exception is that if it is a buyer’s market, you might be able to negotiate a lower price, so it is ok to look at homes just slightly above your budget.

 - Decide if you want to do renovations or if you want a move-in ready home.  If you are handy, you might see a diamond in the rough that you want to fix up yourself.  Make sure if you do this that you are not shopping at the top of your price range because you will need extra funds for doing the renovation.

 - Try to see through the “ugly”.  It’s easier said than done for some people, but try not to just pass on a home because of cosmetic reasons.  Look at the bones of the house and imagine its potential. Focus on layout and flow rather than paint and décor.  If it’s the right home for you, cosmetic changes are easy and will give you the opportunity to make the home your own.

 - Don’t give up!  It might take a while to find exactly what you want.  Be patient and don’t settle for something just because you’re tired of looking.  You never know when just the right house will go on the market.  It will be worth the wait when you move into the home of your dreams!

 

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Open-Floor-Plans-Love-Them-or-Leave-Them

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

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

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