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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

Tips for Handling a Last-Minute Move

by Desi Sowers

Sometimes things happen that are out of our control.  Perhaps a change in employment is forcing a move that you weren’t expecting. Other times you might have known you were moving, but were so busy that you waited until the last minute to start preparing.  Either way, it can seem overwhelming.  Whether your move is unexpected or you are just an expert procrastinator, here are some tips to help you get through a last-minute move:

Think Logically - A last minute move might make you feel paralyzed with anxiety over where to even start.  There is so much to be done and the “to do list” can seem insurmountable. Don’t despair. The key word here is “list”.  Take a deep breath, sit down with pen and paper and make a list of what you need to do. As you complete each task, simply cross it off the list. Before you know it, there will be more items crossed off than there are to do.  The first step should be hiring a moving company or renting a moving truck (depending on whether you are using movers or doing it yourself). It can sometimes be challenging to find movers and/or trucks available last minute, so make sure to do this as soon as you know you are moving.  There are tools you can use such as a Moving Company Directory to help you find reputable companies in your area.  Make sure to get two or three quotes, but then decide quickly.  Once you have the logistics worked out, you can get on with the rest of the tasks on your list.

Eliminate Items You Don’t Want or Need - Packing is quite a chore and the less you have to pack, the easier it will be. With a last-minute move, easy packing is all the more important.  As you go through each room in your house, separate items you no longer want or need into three categories: donate, recycle, and throw away.  Now is not the time for sentimentality.  Don’t make the mistake of packing everything thinking you will sort through it after you move.  Get this done before you go and you will have less to pack, which will make setting up your new home easier.  Once you have your piles sorted get rid of them immediately.  Donation Town is a great resource for finding places where you can donate items in your area.

Create an Essentials Bag - Prior to packing, set aside an overnight bag and fill it with essential items that you can’t afford to misplace.  Items such as medications, electronics chargers, important papers, toiletries and a couple of changes of clothes should go in this bag.  This bag is especially important for a last-minute move where things might get a bit chaotic. You may also want to consider putting together a Moving Day Survival Kit.

Time to Pack - Packing in a hurry means there won’t be much time to think and organize.  The important thing is to get everything into boxes so your possessions make it from your current home to your new home.  Don’t worry about trying to pack only “like” items in each box.  Put things where they fit. You can sort through everything once you’ve moved.  Keep a marker handy to label the boxes in a general manner. For example, simply label which room a box should go to such as kitchen or master bedroom.  It’s ok if there are miscellaneous items that don’t belong in the room the box is labeled for, as you can put them where they belong later.  Use towels, socks and blankets to wrap around breakable items.  Save yourself time and boxes by packing clothes as they are.  Use garbage bags to wrap around hanging clothes using the bag’s strings to tie around the hangers.  Keep clothes in dresser drawers and wrap the drawers in packing materials to be moved as is.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help - This is a big task you’re taking on, particularly since it must be done quickly.  Family and friends can and will help if you ask. And with help, you will get the job done quicker, which is the goal in a last-minute move!  To show your appreciation you can order a meal for your helpers while they are there.

Moving is stressful regardless of how much time you have, but when moving quickly focus on the end goal…which is getting all your belongings to your new home as safely as possible.

If you are planning to move and need to sell your home, let professional Realtor Desi Sowers assist you in getting your house on the market. Give her a call at (540) 320-1328 today!

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

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

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

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

by Desi Sowers

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

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

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

- Pet waste stations are abundant.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Credit: thespruce.com

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

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

Photo Credit: sheknows.com

Now is a Great Time to be a Move-Up Homebuyer!

by Desi Sowers

We hear a lot about people downsizing and simplifying, but if you are looking for a larger home, now is a great time to sell your smaller home and move up to something that better suits your wants and needs.  Perhaps you have a growing family and need more space, or an additional income-earner has joined your household or maybe you have enough equity in your current home that you can now afford your dream home. Whatever the reason,movin’ on up is an exciting prospect!

Ok, now let’s contain that excitement a bit and think about what it means to purchase a more expensive house.  First, just because you can afford something on paper, doesn’t mean you should commit all your resources to the most expensive property on your radar.  It would behoove you to take a thorough look at your current budget and then play with the numbers a bit to determine how much more you’re willing to spend each month on a higher mortgage payment.  A dream house is wonderful, but being house-poor is not.  Think about your lifestyle and don’t make the mistake of getting into a financial bind that doesn’t allow you to do the activities you enjoy.

When financing your new home, you have a couple of options.  If you haven’t sold your current home yet, you can choose a Home Equity Loan or a Bridge Loan to make the down payment on the new home.  A home equity loan allows you to borrow against your current home’s equity and is usually less expensive than other loans.  A bridge loan is a short-term loan that is used until you can obtain permanent financing.  Because they are short term, the interest rates on them will be relatively high.

Before you put your house on the market and commit to purchasing a new one, educate yourself about the prices of houses in the areas where you will be selling and buying. Whether it’s a buyer’s market or a seller’s market, a Professional Realtor will be able to assist you in navigating the process.  The goal is to sell high and buy low, and in today’s market that is an achievable dream!

Contact Desi Sowers at 540-320-1328 and let her help you list your current home and find your dream house today!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Credit: thestoryfiles.wordpress.com

Everything You Need to Know About Choosing a Storage Unit

by Desi Sowers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo credit: sellallyourstuff.com

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