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Desi Sowers

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New Listing: Exceptional Home, Panoramic Views, 5 Acres

by Desi Sowers

10 Staging Tips to Help Your Home Sell

by /posted by Desi Sowers

10 Staging Tips to Help Your Home Sell

Want to sell your home? Get out the bucket, mop and Mr. Clean. The key to making a positive first impression is simple, said Sandra Rinomato, host of HGTV’s popular “Property Virgins” show.

“Get it clean, clean, clean,” said Rinomato. “If your house isn’t clean, it instantly sends up negative thoughts that the home is not well maintained. If your house is spotless, you’re ahead of the game,” she said.

But don’t stop there, advised Rinomato. To increase your chances of making a sale, “stage” the house to make it as attractive as possible. Until recently, “Staging meant pulling out all the stops—setting the dining table with your best china and crystal, arranging flowers, lighting candles,” she said. “Now we take the minimalist approach. Basically, you want to strip the house to its bare essentials, depersonalize it so potential buyers can superimpose themselves and their lifestyle on the house.”

Rinomato offered the following tips for staging a home:

1. Visit model homes and examine shelter magazines for inexpensive decorating ideas. Always keep in mind you are not decorating for yourself but for the general public.

2. Start with the outside. Give the house a fresh coat of paint, add shiny hardware to the front door and plant a few flowers to send a subliminal message the house is loved and well cared for.

3. Declutter every room to make it look larger. Get rid of family pictures, trophies and knickknacks. Closets and drawers should be no more than 30% full.

4. Invest in eco-friendly but bright lights. Open the drapes or remove them completely. “Light, bright rooms give the impression this is a happy place—and everyone wants to move into a happy place,” said Rinomato.

5. Feature only a few pieces of furniture with mainstream appeal. Pull pieces away from walls to make rooms look bigger.

6. Make sure a room’s primary use is obvious. A bedroom should look like a bedroom, not an office, hobby center or gym.

7. Bedrooms and kitchens are difficult to stage because they are in daily use, but make the effort. Clear everything off the counters and nightstands, roll up the rugs and hide the laundry hamper. Buff the cabinets with car wax and clean under the sinks. Invest in pristine white bed linens and towels.

8. Minimize the “pet effect.” Remove food bowls and litter boxes to the utility room. Deodorize thoroughly.

9. Organize the utility room and garage. Hang up the bicycles, roll up the hose. Renting a storage locker is worth the cost if it helps you sell faster and for a higher price.

10. Once your house is staged, invite your friends or Realtor over and walk them through to get an objective opinion.

Written by Jean Patteson

New Christiansburg Listing - Great Neighborhood, Fabulous Yard!

by Desi Sowers

What Home Sellers Don't Tell Buyers

by /posted by Desi Sowers

As buyers ease back into the battered real-estate market, they're often hitting a stumbling block: fibbing by home sellers.

Eager to unload their abodes, some sellers exaggerate the size of their lots or their houses. Others minimize their property-tax or utility bills, conveniently forget about pests, or play down flooding problems or noise.

Real-estate experts say that while such misrepresentations aren't new, the tough market of the past few years has made buyers more wary, partly because they can't expect rising home prices to bail them out of costly mistakes. As a result, deals are taking longer, and more of them are falling apart as buyers find properties sometimes aren't all they're supposed to be.

More than 30 states have disclosure laws requiring sellers to tell prospective buyers and agents about leaky roofs and other problems, according to the National Association of Realtors. But there's often a gray area involving the disclosure of problems the seller may not know about, such as a long-ago flood or hidden mold.

States are also increasingly passing laws requiring homeowners to disclose environmental issues, such as the presence of radon gas, a contaminant linked to lung cancer, and underground fuel tanks. In California, the checklist of required disclosures is so long that a cottage industry has sprung up of firms that help sellers prepare the forms.

Given the complexity of disclosure laws, it's not surprising that potential buyers don't hear about every problem in a house. Besides the issue of fibbing, sellers may genuinely not know about problems. And even if they do, the laws generally don't apply to bank-owned homes transferred in foreclosures, which now constitute a larger share of sales.

Buyers need to do their own due diligence and not rely exclusively on what sellers and agents say. They should hire an independent home inspector or home-inspection engineer, one not referred by the seller—and be aware that real-estate agents typically represent the seller.

Here are some of the common misrepresentations and white lies that buyers may hear as they shop for a house, according to real-estate experts and state regulators:

• "This house is on two acres." Disputes about property dimensions—how many square feet in a house or condo, or its exact boundaries—are common. Sometimes buyers don't learn the exact dimensions until the lender's appraisal.

Listing agents usually accept a seller's word on property dimensions, says Diane Saatchi, a senior vice president at Saunders & Associates, a real-estate firm in Bridgehampton, N.Y. "We tell everyone to verify," she says. Smaller dimensions also can cause an appraisal to come in lower than the agreed-upon purchase price. Low appraisals are a leading cause of ruined deals in today's market. A properly worded appraisal contingency in the purchase contract would allow you to scuttle the deal or find other financing if the appraisal comes in low, says New York real-estate attorney Michael Xylas.

• "We don't have pests." A basic home inspection generally doesn't include a peek inside walls or underground for termites and mold, which are among the top complaints. Inspections for mold and radon gas also generally aren't included; usually buyers must order these inspections separately. Other inside-the-wall problems include faulty wiring and old plumbing, which also may require specialists.

James Holtzman, a financial adviser at Legend Financial Advisors Inc. in Pittsburgh, says sellers of the 1901 house he bought in August 2006 said its electrical wiring was completely upgraded, yet an electrical inspection revealed only one of three floors had been totally upgraded. The seller then knocked $6,000 off the sales price before they went to contract so Mr. Holtzman, 35 years old, could pay for the necessary work.

• "This place never floods." Even arid states such as Arizona and New Mexico have occasional flash floods, and water and drainage problems aren't always obvious. June Walbert, 52, a certified financial planner at USAA, a financial-services company, says her San Antonio house received a clean bill of health from a home inspector before she bought it six years ago. But 10 days after she moved in, the sewer backed up, flooding the house, and she had to fork over $2,800 for repairs. "It was a rude surprise," says Ms. Walbert, who adds she asked her home inspector and the seller for compensation, but didn't get it.

Bill Richardson, outgoing president of the American Society of Home Inspectors, says a general home inspection wouldn't catch that unless the sewer line was visible from the basement or water backed up into sinks and tubs or toilets.

• "Taxes and maintenance costs are low." Home buyers often gripe about tax and utilities bills that are higher than sellers said they were. Homeowner association and condo dues and assessments are also common complaints. Sometimes sellers simply underestimate the bills, or forget to include recent or expected increases, agents and brokers say. Taxes can also be deceptively low because of unrecorded improvements like decks and finished basements. Ask to see recent bills, and check with the tax assessor's office for up-to-date information.

• "This is a quiet neighborhood." Sellers may play down distractions that could drive you crazy, such as barking dogs or idling buses. A charming park by day could be a teen hangout at night. Your best bet is to view a property at different times of the day. "I can't tell you how many times in my career buyers didn't go there in the night time, even though I told them to. You spend more time in the house at night than during the day," says Ms. Saatchi, the New York real-estate agent. Talk to neighbors and peruse the local newspapers and blogs to get a feel for a place, and check with police for crime.

• "There's going to be a golf course, a pool and a party room." Builders of many developments that broke ground during the housing boom ran out of money before the project was completed. Many homeowner and condo associations also are strapped because of delinquencies and defaults. Some states require upfront disclosures about this, but you should also ask neighbors, not just sellers, about any promised facilities. Also, check titles to be sure that specific parking spaces, storage units or other facilities are included in a property sale.

Printed in The Wall Street Journal, page D2  Written By M.P. MCQUEEN

Real Estate Outlook: 2010 Stark Contrast to 2009

by Desi Sowers

Real Estate Outlook: 2010 Stark Contrast to 2009

Even the grumpiest, grinchiest economist would have to admit that New Year's 2010 looks a whole lot more positive for real estate and housing than things did last year at the same time.

You may remember that dark and scary time. We had just come through the Wall Street financial panic, but it wasn't yet clear what the federal government could - or would - be able to do to prevent a total collapse.

The outlook right now is a complete contrast: Home sales have been rising for months, thanks in part to the federal tax credit programs; new home starts and permits are up in most parts of the country; and prices generally are trending up in most of the markets that got shell-shocked in the bust.

Now new market data from last week point to continued growth just ahead, but with an ominous warning sign as well.

The latest pricing numbers released by the Federal Housing Finance Agency found home values nationwide up modestly in the latest month -- by six tenths of a percent. That sounds really small, but annualized it comes to more than seven percent, which is not bad at all.

And recent sales results from key local markets also are encouraging. For example, in November, every major metropolitan area in Florida saw sales of houses and condos up compared with the year before for the second straight month.

Overall, according to the Florida Association of Realtors, sales of houses were 61 percent higher than November of 2008. Condo sales were up by an amazing 111 percent!!

Plus consumer confidence has been trending upward nationally, by 7.5 percent during December, according to the University of Michigan's bellwether survey.

But now to a sobering subject: Mortgage money is getting more expensive, week after week. At least one big player in the market -- Freddie Mac -- is projecting rates to move from just over five percent today for 30-year loans to 6 percent or higher later in 2010.

Freddie Mac's deputy chief economist, Amy Crews Cutts, says the Federal Reserve's scheduled phase-down of its multi-billion dollar purchases of mortgage backed securities, plus expected moderate growth in the economy, will force rates at least a percentage point higher.

Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody's Economy.com, agrees. He said last week that six percent for mortgages "sounds about right. I don't think there's any question rates are headed up."

Bottom line here: If you or your clients care about rates, nail down financing sooner, not later. It could cost you if you wait.

Home Improvement Trends for the New Year

by /posted by Desi Sowers

Most homeowners are unlikely to be building, remodeling or decorating with abandon in 2010, given the slow recovery from the recession. But if you do plan to update your home or garden, here are some trends to keep in mind.

Home decor. The sleek, sophisticated but comfortable style known as “soft contemporary” will be a key look for the New Year, said Kris Kolar, vice president of interior design at Robb & Stucky Interiors. Instead of the eclectic clutter that has been popular for a while, there will be a move toward using just one or two eye-catching accents. These “punctuation-mark pieces,” featuring hand-worked techniques that give a custom look, may include special materials such as mother-of-pearl, flame mahogany and stainless steel.

Furniture. The environmental movement is getting stronger, said Jackie Hirschhaut, spokeswoman for the American Home Furnishings Alliance. Increasingly, furniture is being built using natural-fiber fabrics, recycled metals and sustainable woods. Red will be the trendiest accent color for furniture, she predicted. And home offices will continue to boom as growing numbers of Americans work from their residences.

Color. Classic neutrals and pops of exotic brights are the key shades at Pittsburgh Paints, which recently announced four color palettes for 2010.

The “Canvas” palette includes deep gray-browns and gray-blues, muted beige and chalky white. “Pink City” offers vibrant pinks, spicy oranges, grays and chocolate-brown. “Grace” includes elegant hues such as pale butter, bronze-gold and sea foam. And “Zest” reinvents the style of Palm Springs circa 1950, mixing high-energy yellows with gray, white and black.

Landscaping. Organic vegetable gardens, like the one installed at the White House are likely to be a huge trend in 2010, said Orlando, Fla., horticulture expert Tom MacCubbin. Community gardens are a growing trend, especially those that involve children. Of all vegetables, he predicts tomatoes will be especially popular. In the landscape, perennial plants that last longer than annuals and need less care are a strong trend, he added. Trendy plants include gold mound duranta, a shrub with acid-green foliage, and perennial bulbine, which sports spikes of yellow blooms.

New-home construction. The era of the extravagant McMansion is over, said Nathan Cross of NWC Construction in Orlando. When building new homes, people are increasingly budget-conscious. “It’s back to basics. Even the pool is a no-frills deal,” he said. About the only area where homeowners may be prepared to splurge a little is the master suite. Energy-efficiency will be important. So will going green: “So long as it’s a green trend that doesn’t cost too much.” Outdoors, some homeowners will be installing fireplaces, fire pits and summer kitchens.

Remodeling. The trend toward making minor improvements to home exteriors is likely to extend into next year—for good reason. It gives homeowners the biggest bang for their bucks when it comes to selling their homes. In terms of costs recouped, eight out of the top 10 home-improvement projects this year were exterior upgrades that cost less than $14,000, according to Realtors Report’s annual Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report. A steel entry-door replacement topped the list, recouping 128.9% of costs, followed by upscale fiber-cement siding replacements (83.6%), wood deck additions (80.6%), and several types of window replacements (more than 70%). The two interior projects that landed on the top-10 list were attic-bedroom additions (83.1% recouped) and minor kitchen remodels (78.3%). The least profitable remodeling projects in terms of resale, and therefore not likely to be popular in 2010, were home-office remodels and sunroom additions.


Written by Jean Patteson

Foreclosure Anyone?

by /Posted by Desi Sowers
Eighty-Eight Percent of Current Homeowners Looking to Trade-Up to Larger Home are Willing to Consider Purchasing a Foreclosure

New Listing - Spotless Brick Home in Christiansburg!

by Desi Sowers

Great Video! Know About the 2009-2010 Tax Credit

by Desi Sowers

Please click here to view a very informative video that explains the 2009-2010 Tax Credit.  We RE/MAX agents want you to be informed!

Homebuyer Tax Credit Extended and Expanded!

by Desi Sowers

House Mortgage Isolated on white

A new Homebuyers Tax Credit bill has been signed into law. The bill extends the tax credit for first-time homebuyers (FTHBs), as well as opens it up to current homeowners who are looking to buy. And even if you aren't looking to purchase - pass on this article to anyone you think might be in the market to do so. This is information that might benefit them greatly, and I'll be happy to be of service to them.

Here is a brief overview of the Homebuyers Tax Credit - and its benefits - based on the new bill.

Tax Credit for First-Time Homebuyers

FTHBs (that is, people who have not owned a home within the last three years) may be eligible for the tax credit. The credit for FTHBs is 10% of the purchase price of the home, with a maximum available credit of $8,000.

Single taxpayers and married couples filing a joint return may qualify for the full tax credit amount.

Tax Credit for Current Homeowners

The tax credit program now gives those who already own a residence some additional reasons to move to a new home. This incentive comes in the form of a tax credit of up to $6,500 for qualified purchasers who have owned and occupied a primary residence for a period of five consecutive years during the last eight years.

Single taxpayers and married couples filing a joint return may qualify for the full tax credit amount.

What are the New Deadlines?

In order to qualify for the credit, all contracts need to be in effect no later than April 30, 2010 and close no later than June 30, 2010. Those in the military do have some special extensions on the timelines available.

What's So Great About a "Tax Credit"?

The benefit of a tax credit is that it's a dollar-for-dollar benefit, rather than a "tax deduction", or reduction in a tax liability that would only save you $1,000 to $1,500 when all was said and done. So, if a first-time homebuyer who qualified for the entire benefit were to owe $8,000 in income taxes and would qualify for a tax credit of $8,000, she would owe nothing.

Better still, the tax credit is refundable, which means the homebuyer can receive a check for the credit if he or she has little or no income tax liability. For example, if a first-time homebuyer is eligible for a tax credit of $8,000 but is liable for $4,000 in income tax, she can still receive a check for the remaining $4,000!

Higher Income Caps

The amount of income someone can earn and qualify for the full amount of the credit has been increased.

Single tax filers who earn up to $125,000 are eligible for the total credit amount. Those who earn more than this cap can receive a partial credit. However, single filers who earn $145,000 and above are ineligible.

Joint filers who earn up to $225,000 are eligible for the total credit amount. Those who earn more than this cap can receive a partial credit. However, joint filers who earn $245,000 and above are ineligible.

Maximum Purchase Price

Qualifying buyers may purchase a property with a maximum sales price of $800,000.

I hope this information is helpful and please do contact me if you have any questions or would like to view homes for sale - I'm here to help!

 

 

Displaying blog entries 781-790 of 902

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

Each Office Independently Owned and Operated