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3 home buying tips for military families

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If you or your spouse serve in the military, here are a few tips that can help you buy a home and put down roots, even if it’s just for a few years.

1. Take advantage of incentives
The Department of Veterans Affairs offers several home loan programs intended to help service members buy a house without a down payment or by securing a mortgage with a low-interest rate. Plus, many home improvement companies such as landscapers and interior designers offer discounts for service members and veterans.

2. Think about resale value

Since you’ll likely need to relocate again soon, try to avoid neighborhoods with a high turnover rate. Too many houses on the market in your area will make it hard for yours to stand out. You should also opt for a home with timeless features rather than extensive customization to ensure it appeals to a wide variety of buyers.

3. Look for places to connect
It can be hard to start over in a new city, especially if you have children. To facilitate the transition, seek neighborhoods with plenty of gathering places and amenities that bring people together such as public pools, community gardens, dog parks, and outdoor fitness classes. These spaces also provide great opportunities for quality family time.

Finally, since you’re likely moving to an unfamiliar city, consult with a real estate agent who has extensive knowledge of the area and can help you find a property that meets your needs.

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Should you invest in a sump pump?

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A sump pump is a device that can be installed in a basement, either beneath or above the floor. It’s designed to pump out the water collected in a sump basin and discharge it to the outdoors. Consequently, your home is kept safe from the damage that can occur as a result of flooding.

If your basement is at risk of flooding, you should consider buying a sump pump, especially if you live somewhere with a high water table. If possible, select a submersible rather than a pedestal pump, as they’re less noisy when covered with a lid. You should also opt for a model with an iron core since it’s more durable than the plastic alternative. Plus, you should think about getting a pump with an alarm that alerts you if the water in the basin reaches a dangerous level.

In addition, you may want to install a secondary sump pump next to the first one, especially if you have a finished basement. This way, if your primary pump fails or becomes overtaxed, the secondary pump will automatically take over.

A battery backup pump can also be installed. In the event of a power outage, this type of pump will continue to work for up to two days.

To install a sump pump in your home, speak with a qualified plumber in your area.

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Popular window styles and where to use them

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Do you want to update the windows in your home? If so, here are some popular types and where they might look best.

• Double-hung windows feature two large sashes that slide up and down along vertical tracks. They perfectly complement rambler, farmhouse, bungalow, and other modern-traditional style homes. They have many customization options and look good in almost any room.

• Slider windows are available in a variety of styles, materials, and finishes. They open horizontally rather than vertically, which makes them ideal for spaces with horizontal features. For example, they look good over a counter or in a hallway. Since slider windows are easy to open and close, they’re also practical in hard-to-reach spaces.

• Casement windows open inward or outward with a mechanical crank. They’re well suited to contemporary homes and great in rooms where you want to let in a cool breeze.

• Bay and bow windows extend outward from the home and are traditionally composed of a picture window flanked by one or more pairs of double-hung or casement windows. Place them anywhere that overlooks a view or in a living room, family room, or bedroom that needs a focal point.

The best windows for your home will depend on your budget and style. In all cases, however, it’s best to make sure they’re energy-efficient (look for the Energy Star label) and installed by an experienced contractor.

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Touchless design features for a germ-free home

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Touchless technologies have long been featured in public spaces to limit the spread of germs. Now, these motion-activated innovations are making their way into homes. Here are a few you may want to adopt.

• Light switches. Illuminate your home by walking past conveniently placed sensors.

• Faucets and toilets. Touchless versions will help keep your bathrooms sanitary.

• Soap dispensers. Wash your hands without getting the dispenser dirty.

• Appliances. Dishwashers, refrigerators, and ovens are increasingly featuring technologies that allow you to open and close them without using a handle.

• Garbage bins. Open and close your trash can with motion-activated technology.

You can find touchless technologies at hardware and appliance stores in your area.

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Virginia’s 2020 home sales top 2019 sales by nearly 11%

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According to the December 2020 Home Sales Report released by Virginia REALTORS®, Virginia’s housing market surged in the second half of 2020. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn, there were 13,603 more home sales in 2020 than there were in 2019. This is an increase of 10.8%—the Commonwealth’s fastest growth in annual sales transactions in more than five years.

Sales activity in the final quarter of 2020 was significant compared to recent years. Home sales activity gained steam throughout the fall and into the winter months when transactions typically tend to slow. In December, there was a total of 12,525 home sales in Virginia, which is 32.4% higher than a year ago.

Demand for homeownership has been strong throughout the pandemic, fueled by historically low mortgage rates. Virginia REALTORS® Chief Economist Lisa Sturtevant, PhD, says, “The foremost challenge for Virginia’s housing market has been a lack of supply. Declining inventory has limited options for would-be homebuyers and has driven up home prices across the Commonwealth.”

In Virginia, the median sales price in 2020 was $319,902, which was up from $295,000 last year, an 8.4% increase. For the past few years, home prices have risen by between 2 and 4 percent, so the gain in 2020 is notable. The biggest price gains were in the last few months of the year. In December, the median sales price statewide was $325,000, up 10.2%.

Demand for homeownership will continue to be strong in Virginia in 2021, while a lack of inventory will constrain market activity. Virginia REALTORS® forecasts that home sales will increase in 2021, though the pace of home sales transactions will slow due to insufficient supply.

The Virginia Home Sales Report is published by Virginia REALTORS®. Click here to view the full December 2020 Home Sales Report. Current and past reports are available to members, media, and real estate-related industries through the organization’s website.

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4 tips for homeowners upgrading their garage door

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Replacing your garage door is a home renovation project with a high return on investment. Here are some things to keep in mind if you’re making this upgrade.

1. Use manufacturer websites. Choose a door design you like by perusing your options online. Many manufacturers have software on their website that lets you upload a photo of your home and try on different garage door styles.

2. Invest in good insulation. The effectiveness of a garage door’s insulation is referred to by its R-value. The higher the number, the better the door prevents heat transfer. Garage doors insulated with polyurethane are the most efficient.

3. Opt for the best springs. Springs are what hold the weight of your garage door and allow it to effortlessly move up and down. Standard torsion springs are rated for about 10,000 cycles, but those rated for 20,000 cycles are only a bit more expensive and well worth the extra cost.

4. Buy an opener at the same time. If your opener is showing its age, or you want one with the latest features, this is the perfect time to replace it. You can save on installation costs by having your contractor put in the door and opener at the same time.

Finally, make sure you hire a professional to install your garage door as this job can be complex, time-consuming, and dangerous.

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How to become a homeowner in 2021

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Is your new year’s resolution to buy a new home? If so, here’s how to make good on this promise.

Establish a budget and start saving
Determine how much money you require to buy a home. Research house prices in the area where you want to live and educate yourself about mortgages and what’s required to apply for one. Your bank or a reputable mortgage lender can assist you.

Once you’ve calculated how much money you need, establish a budget that allows you to reach this goal. To make ends meet, you may need to trim unnecessary spending. However, you can grow your finances further by keeping your money in a high-yield savings account or investing it wisely.

Boost your credit score and get pre-approved
A good credit score is a key to buying a home. It gives you more mortgage options and will lower your monthly interest rate. Here are a few ways to improve your score:

• Pay all your bills on time and don’t surpass your credit limit.

• Don’t transfer the balance of an older credit account to a new one; the longer an account is open and in use, the better your score.

• Use different types of credit (such as a credit card, car loan, and line of credit), since using only one type can result in a lower score.

Once your credit score is in good shape, you can get pre-approved for a mortgage through your bank. This will equip you with a letter indicating how much you can borrow. Mortgage pre-approval is a great asset when house shopping, as it shows sellers that you’re a qualified buyer.

Once your financial affairs are in order, you’re ready to become a homeowner. To find a house that meets your needs, make sure to hire a realtor.

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Front Royal
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Upcoming Events

Jan
29
Fri
12:30 pm Opioid Overdose and Naloxone Edu... @ Online Event
Opioid Overdose and Naloxone Edu... @ Online Event
Jan 29 @ 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm
Opioid Overdose and Naloxone Education @ Online Event
Save a Life: Free REVIVE! Opioid Overdose and Naloxone Education January 29th The Northwestern Prevention Collaborative and Northwestern Community Services Board will offer a free virtual REVIVE! Training on January 29th from 12:30 pm to[...]
Jan
30
Sat
2:00 pm Paint Camellias with The Studio @ The Studio - A Place for Learning
Paint Camellias with The Studio @ The Studio - A Place for Learning
Jan 30 @ 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Paint Camellias with The Studio @ The Studio - A Place for Learning
We will paint these beautiful camellias on Saturday, January 30th at 2 pm at The Studio. This will be the first in a series of floral paintings we will do over the course of 2021.[...]
6:00 pm Parent’s Night Out @ Code Ninjas
Parent’s Night Out @ Code Ninjas
Jan 30 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Parent's Night Out @ Code Ninjas
Help Code Ninjas Front Royal celebrate our Grand Opening! We are hosting our first Parent’s Night Out! $35 per child, space limited to 5! – Drop them off. Go have fun. Just remember to pick[...]
6:00 pm Robert Burns Night 2021 @ Virginia Beer Museum
Robert Burns Night 2021 @ Virginia Beer Museum
Jan 30 @ 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Robert Burns Night 2021 @ Virginia Beer Museum
Known in medieval Celtic culture as a storyteller, verse maker, and composer, the word ‘Bard’ has become synonymous with the world’s greatest poets. However, few are as celebrated as Scotland’s own ‘National Bard’, Robert Burns,[...]
Feb
9
Tue
10:00 am Course 1 Trauma-Informed Training @ Online Event
Course 1 Trauma-Informed Training @ Online Event
Feb 9 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Course 1 Trauma-Informed Training @ Online Event
The Warren Coalition, in partnership with Northwestern Prevention Collaborative, will offer area residents two opportunities to take a free, virtual Course 1 Trauma-Informed Training in February. This course is designed to provide information about identifying[...]
Feb
11
Thu
6:30 pm Course 1 Trauma-Informed Training @ Online Event
Course 1 Trauma-Informed Training @ Online Event
Feb 11 @ 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Course 1 Trauma-Informed Training @ Online Event
The Warren Coalition, in partnership with Northwestern Prevention Collaborative, will offer area residents two opportunities to take a free, virtual Course 1 Trauma-Informed Training in February. This course is designed to provide information about identifying[...]
Feb
13
Sat
6:00 pm Parent’s Night Out @ Code Ninjas
Parent’s Night Out @ Code Ninjas
Feb 13 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Parent's Night Out @ Code Ninjas
Help Code Ninjas Front Royal celebrate our Grand Opening! We are hosting our first Parent’s Night Out! $35 per child, space limited to 5! – Drop them off. Go have fun. Just remember to pick[...]
Feb
15
Mon
9:00 am Free Tax Preparation @ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Free Tax Preparation @ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Feb 15 @ 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Free Tax Preparation @ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Free tax preparation will be available again this year through the AARP Tax Aide at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Front Royal, Monday and Wednesday mornings beginning Feb. 15th. To make an appointment, please call[...]
Feb
16
Tue
10:00 am Course 1 Trauma-Informed Training @ Online Event
Course 1 Trauma-Informed Training @ Online Event
Feb 16 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Course 1 Trauma-Informed Training @ Online Event
The Warren Coalition, in partnership with Northwestern Prevention Collaborative, will offer area residents two opportunities to take a free, virtual Course 1 Trauma-Informed Training in February. This course is designed to provide information about identifying[...]
Feb
17
Wed
9:00 am Free Tax Preparation @ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Free Tax Preparation @ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Feb 17 @ 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Free Tax Preparation @ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Free tax preparation will be available again this year through the AARP Tax Aide at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Front Royal, Monday and Wednesday mornings beginning Feb. 15th. To make an appointment, please call[...]