When furnishing a room, a little planning goes a long way. Most importantly, it helps you avoid making impulse purchases and selecting furniture that’s the wrong size. Here are some tips to help you make the right home decor choices.
1. Identify your priorities
Before you start furniture shopping, list everything you need in order of importance. This will help you determine how much of your budget to put toward each item. For instance, if you have trouble sleeping, you may decide to splurge on your mattress rather than on a dresser or vanity. Or, if you work from home, you may want to spend a little extra on an ergonomic office chair.
2. Look for deals
Once you’ve planned your purchases, it’s time to bargain hunt. Be on the lookout for sales and promotions, but keep in mind that sometimes you need to be patient to take advantage of the best discounts. If the item you’ve set your sights on is unlikely to drop in price, see if your local retailers can suggest solutions. For example, you may be able to get a deal on display models or pieces that have slight imperfections.
3. Think long-term
Make smart investments by choosing styles that have a timeless look and don’t merely reflect the current fad. If you want to indulge in a few trendy pieces, opt for inexpensive items that you can sell or donate in a few years.
Finally, consider making an effort to buy locally. You don’t have to go far to find talented furniture makers and well-curated furniture stores.
8 essentials allies in any real estate transaction
Are you planning to buy or sell a home? If you want to make sure everything goes smoothly, rely on these professionals.
In any real estate transaction, protecting your legal interests is a must. A lawyer will review contracts before you sign them, draft key documents, manage financial transactions and keep you informed about all important legal matters.
2. Real estate agent
A realtor’s role is to advise and guide you through every step of the real estate transaction. An agent will arrange visits, answer your questions and direct you to trusted professionals as needed.
Using a variety of proven methods, an appraiser will formulate an objective opinion as to the true value of a property. This is important to know if you want to price a home or make an offer on one.
4. Land surveyor
This professional will issue an improvement location certificate, which includes a plan or illustration of the property’s physical features and a written analysis detailing the surveyor’s concerns. This document provides an accurate representation of the property.
5. Home stager
If you want to quickly sell your home, presenting it in the best light possible will ensure the property gets noticed. A home stager will provide you with invaluable advice about how to make your home appeal to potential buyers.
6. Mortgage broker
Acting as an intermediary between you and various lenders, a mortgage broker will help you secure a loan that provides advantageous terms and meets your needs.
7. Mortgage lender
If you want to buy a home, you’ll probably need to get a mortgage. Banks, trust companies, credit unions, and other institutions offer this type of loan. Additionally, getting pre-approved for a mortgage allows you to know what you can afford.
A home insurance policy protects your investment by providing you with compensation in the event that your property gets damaged or destroyed. In this way, your insurer can offer you peace of mind.
What all homebuyers should know about flooding
It’s not hard to find out if the home you’re interested in buying is located in a flood zone. Simply ask your realtor, or visit the online Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Flood Map Service Center and enter the property’s address in the search bar. However, there are a few things to keep in mind before you decide whether to buy a particular home.
Flooding can happen anywhere
You don’t have to live in a designated flood zone for your home to be at risk of flooding. In fact, flooding can be the result of melting snow, burst pipes, tornadoes, hurricanes, construction issues, blocked storm drains, or problems with municipal sewer lines.
Maps don’t tell the whole story
Even if the home you want to buy isn’t in a designated flood zone, it might still be affected by seasonal changes to water levels in the area. Furthermore, these maps don’t necessarily account for trends driven by climate change such as rising sea levels and extreme rainfall.
Mortgage lenders may require flood insurance
If a property is in a FEMA flood zone that’s considered high-risk, homeowners may need to get flood insurance coverage before their lender agrees to grant them a mortgage. This is true of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, USDA, and VA loans.
If you’re applying for a non-government loan or the home is in a low-risk area, you probably won’t have to purchase flood insurance to secure a mortgage. Nonetheless, getting this type of coverage might be recommended.
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which is administered by FEMA, provides most residential flood coverage in the United States. In places where the NFIP is unavailable, homebuyers may be able to purchase flood insurance from a private insurer.
All homebuyers should be aware of the potential risks of flooding. The best approach is to do your research, ask pointed questions of the sellers and their neighbors, and spend time in the area. Additionally, working with a local realtor is a huge asset.
What should you ask during a virtual tour?
If you want to learn more about a home, here are some things you should definitely ask about during a virtual tour of the property.
Can street noise and other sounds be heard from inside the home? What about when you’re sitting outside? If any of the floors are carpeted, ask whether they creak, as this can indicate structural issues with the subflooring.
Request that curtains and blinds be opened in every room. If there’s something unsightly nearby or a neighboring house is too close, you’ll want to know about it.
Wear and tear
It may not be easy to tell over video if surfaces are damaged, so ask whether countertops, cabinets, and floors look worn or scratched.
Ask your realtor if they notice any unusual or unpleasant odors inside and outside the home. Industrial smells from a nearby plant can affect your enjoyment of a property, and a whiff of mold or sewage can indicate a bigger issue.
For most buyers, the look and feel of the neighborhood is important. If you can’t tour the area yourself, ask your realtor to take you on a virtual walk around the block.
More than ever, agents are relying on virtual tours to give buyers a closer look at homes. Speak with your realtor to find out more about virtually touring a property you’re interested in.
Before the tour begins, print out a floor plan of the home, so you can easily follow along.
Virginia’s commercial real estate market resilient amid COVID-19
According to the Q1 2021 Commercial Market Report released by Virginia REALTORS®, the commercial real estate market in Virginia has been surprisingly resilient, despite concerns about a serious downturn as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Virginia’s office market has seen a modest rise in vacancy rates. Office rents have risen or remained stable in most markets across the state, and mid-sized and suburban markets have been performing best. In the 1st quarter, the fastest rent growth occurred in Charlottesville and Roanoke.
One key reason behind the resiliency of Virginia’s office market is growth in several key office-supporting sectors. Virginia REALTORS® Chief Economist Lisa Sturevant, PhD, says, “In the commonwealth, the economy has gained back all of the jobs that were lost in the important Professional & Technical Services sector. In addition, the Finance & Insurance sector has remained steady throughout the past year.”
The impact of COVID-19 on Virginia’s retail market has not been as severe as expected. Despite early predictions, there has been no major fleeing from retail spaces in many Virginia markets. While retail vacancy rates have increased over the past year in Virginia, vacancy has remained fairly low—under 6%—in all markets across the state. Retail rents have declined modestly in Northern Virginia and Richmond, though there has been rent growth in some smaller markets, including Hampton Roads and Roanoke.
Industrial real estate has outperformed all other property sectors, benefiting from the pandemic’s fallout, rather than being set back by it. Growth in e-commerce sales has been a key driver of the strong demand for industrial space, particularly warehousing and fulfillment centers.
Virginia REALTORS® publishes quarterly reports on the commercial real estate market. These reports summarize trends in the office, retail, and industrial markets in nine regions across the state, and provide an outlook for future commercial market conditions. Click here to view the full Q1 2021 Commercial Market Report.
What to investigate if you want to buy a condo
If you want to buy a condominium, you may not know where to start. Here are several things to consider if you intend to purchase this type of property.
Find out what’s included with your unit. Does it come with appliances, a parking space, or a storage locker? If you buy a brand-new unit, you’ll likely be able to choose some materials and features such as the countertops, flooring, and electrical components.
You should also ask whether there are regulations regarding how the unit can be decorated, renovated, or used.
In addition to finding out what type of security features and amenities are included (gym, entertainment room, etc.), you should inquire about the building’s overall condition. If it’s an older property, make sure there aren’t any leaks.
Also, consider the demographic of the other residents. You’ll most likely want to live among people whose lifestyle is similar to your own.
For many people, the best part about living in a condo is having access to an urban community with a variety of conveniences and sources of entertainment. Make sure everything you’re looking for is available nearby.
Familiarize yourself with how the condo operates and read through minutes from past board meetings if you want to learn more. In particular, check to see if the condo corporation has a history of demanding one-time assessments to cover large repairs. If so, this suggests the board doesn’t properly manage the funds they receive on a monthly basis to anticipate expenses.
Finally, determine all the costs associated with owning a condo to ensure you can afford it. In addition to your mortgage, you’ll need to pay for condo fees, property taxes, insurance, utilities (if they’re not included), and upkeep of the unit.
How to get the best interest rates
You’ve decided to buy a home and, in doing your due diligence, are researching how to get the best interest rate on a mortgage.
It seems fairly straightforward: A good debt-to-income ratio and good credit score should result in the lowest rates, right?
Maybe, maybe not. Although these are two significant items, other factors also come into play. Some of these include:
* Type of loan. Research whether you qualify for special programs, including those geared toward first-time homebuyers and those aimed at helping people in certain professions to buy homes (think teachers, first responders, and veterans).
* Down payment. The amount of your down payment is likely to affect your interest rate, but it takes some calculating to decide what’s best for you. Will you be better off using a chunk of money to lower your rate, or could you put those funds to better use elsewhere, like in investments?
* Type of lender. Experts recommend shopping around among banks, credit unions, and online lenders to find the best product for you. A 2019 NerdWallet analysis found that a borrower who compares five lenders could save more than $400 in interest in the loan’s first 12 months.
* Property location. Certain loan types, like USDA mortgages, offer lower interest rates and down payment assistance for properties in specific locations. And rural may not be as far away from civilization as you think.
* Duration of the loan. Instead of the standard 30-year mortgage, consider a 15-year mortgage instead. Lenders like the shorter term and often offer lower interest rates to incentivize borrowers. You’ll pay more per month, but you could save thousands over the lifetime of the loan.