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4 reasons you should bid at the listed price

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If you’re ready to make a bid on a home, you may want to consider resisting the impulse to negotiate. Here are some key reasons why making an offer at the listed price could be a good idea.

1. You’ll get the seller on your side
Making an offer for the listed price is likely to make the seller more receptive to requests. For instance, they may be willing to pay for inspections or to accommodate your move-in schedule.

2. You’ll get the listing agent on your side
Matching the listing price that was initially suggested by the seller’s agent will make them look competent. They may be more receptive to your offer and to any requests you may make.

3. You’ll get an edge on other offers
If the seller received multiple offers, it’s likely that most of them are for less than the listing price. This will make your offer stand out in comparison.


4. You’ll make future negotiations easier
If you try to get a bargain upfront, there may not be any room to negotiate for repairs later. The seller is much more likely to be receptive to such requests if you offer to pay the list price.

If you find your dream home and can afford it, you may want to skip the negotiations. Besides, if the house gets appraised for less, the seller may be willing to lower the price.

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4 things that can lower the value of your home

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Even if you don’t intend to sell your home anytime soon, you’d probably like it to eventually be worth more than you paid for it. While some factors are out of your control, there are decisions you can make as a home¬owner that will either boost or lower the value of your property. If you want to increase the value of your home, here are four things you should avoid.

1. Poorly executed renovations
If you want to expand the kitchen, redo the bathroom or build a deck in the backyard, it’s best to hire an experienced professional. While it might cost less in the short term, a do-it-yourself renovation can significantly decrease the value of your property, especially if the workmanship doesn’t comply with regulations.

2. A lack of maintenance
Whether you fail to replace the roof, upgrade the plumbing or perform other upkeep as needed, neglect can seriously influence how much buyers are willing to pay for your home. Plus, if you wait to complete necessary repairs, they’re likely to become more expensive.

3. Too much carpeting
Carpets retain smells and can trap particles such as dust mites, pet dander, and other allergens. They’re also difficult to clean, and they wear out over time. Additionally, since removing this type of floor covering is time-consuming and expensive, its presence may deter potential buyers.


4. A dated bathroom or kitchen
Home decor trends change over time, which can leave certain rooms looking like they’re trapped in another decade. If all the fixtures in your bathroom are turquoise, or your kitchen cabinet doors are too ornate, potential buyers may try to lower the price so they can afford to update the space.

To find out how you can maximize the value of your home before putting it on the market, consult a local real estate agent.

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Pandemic-inspired renovation ideas and how to make them work

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If being stuck at home during the pandemic has given you the urge to renovate, you’re not alone. Here are some tips and ideas to help you upgrade your living space.

Renovation trends
Home upgrades are set to ramp up in 2021. According to a survey by porch.com, nearly 60 percent of Americans admitted that spending more time inside during the pandemic inspired them to renovate their home. Here are some of the latest trends you may want to get in on:

1. Making homes more hygienic. Since porcelain only absorbs 0.1 percent of bacteria, many homeowners are using this material for their countertops and floors. Additionally, touchless faucets and smart soap dispensers have become increasingly popular.

2. Enhancing outdoor spaces. When public spaces were shut down, many homeowners focused their attention on upgrading their backyards. Screened porches, gazebos, decks, pools, and hot tubs are now all the rage as people look for new ways to make the most of spending time at home.


3. Creating multipurpose rooms. For many people, working from home made it necessary to rearrange one or more rooms to serve as an office, school, gym, or studio. Designing a multifunctional room is a great way to make the most of your living space.

4. Letting in more natural light. Pandemic lockdowns inspired homeowners to bring the outdoors inside with windows and skylights. Natural light not only makes a space brighter but can also boost your mood and productivity.

Remodeling during the pandemic
Before starting your renovation project, it’s a good idea to get quotes from several contractors. Since the price of building materials has skyrocketed due to a limit in supplies, shopping around for the right contractor can help you stay within your budget. In addition, you may want to find out if they offer a price adjustment clause in their contract to recoup any increased costs.

As with any renovation, planning for delays and unexpected bumps in the road is a must. Before starting your upgrade, make sure you have all the necessary building permits and licenses. You should also sign an agreement with your contractor that outlines mandatory deadlines. This will help keep the project on track.

Additionally, you should consider when you plan on starting your renovation project. For example, since materials and contractors may be more available in the fall or winter, your project could get completed faster during this time of the year.

Lastly, if you want to minimize costs, look into receiving reimbursements from the energy efficiency assistance programs in your area. An online search will help you find out how to apply and take advantage of these savings.

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Ask the Expert

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Home prices have been rising fast. Should I apply for a preapproval that’s more than I think I need?

There’s no question we’re in a hot market right now that shows few signs of cooling off. However, the fundamental rule still applies when it comes to getting a mortgage: Stay within budget.

The more prep work you do ahead of time, the better. This serves the dual purpose of helping you move quickly when needed, as well as acting with a cool head. Before you even start looking at homes, figure out your finances and calculate how much you can and want to spend on a mortgage. Remember to factor in insurance, taxes, and a rainy day fund for repairs.

Then you’ll apply for your preapproval. This is the bank’s letter attesting to how much you can afford.


A quick note about preapproval versus prequalification letters: The prequalification is typically based upon self-reported information, while the preapproval involves the bank checking your credit score and verifying bank and income records. Although some institutions may use the terms interchangeably, the preapproval generally carries more weight — and in a hot market, this can give you an edge when making offers. Remember that neither is final, however. Your loan will go through a final round of verifications and include an appraisal and inspection before it becomes official.

Back to how much you should apply for. A common rule of thumb says to keep your mortgage payment — including principal, interest, taxes, and insurance — at or below 28 percent of your gross monthly income, and your total debt service below 36 percent.

When you stick to this formula, you make things easy on yourself. Now you’ve got a definitive number in mind, and you can shop for houses that fit your budget rather than the other way around.

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How to successfully transform a fixer-upper

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Are you thinking about buying a fixer-upper? If so, you should know the process can have many steps, and that encountering unforeseen issues is fairly common. Here are some tips to help make your renovation a success.

Inspect the property beforehand
As with any home, you’ll want to look for signs of water damage, cracks in the foundation, and other potential problems before you finalize your offer. Hire an inspector to ensure nothing is overlooked. A major renovation could prove quite costly if the home isn’t structurally sound.

Know when to hire professionals
If you’re handy, you might be tempted to take on as many renovation tasks as possible to reduce your expenses. However, when it comes to electrical, heating, and plumbing jobs, it’s best to leave the work to the experts. This will prevent you from making costly mistakes and ensure the job’s done safely.

Look for affordable alternatives
Although you don’t want to skimp on structural materials, there are plenty of ways to cut costs on features that are largely esthetic. For example, consider affordable flooring and countertop options that mimic more expensive materials. You can also rely on paint to create accent walls or repurpose old kitchen cabinets.


Finally, remember to put some thought into the decor. New furniture and decorative accessories can add the perfect finishing touches to a freshly renovated home. Consider hiring an interior designer to help you create a cohesive space.

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5 questions to ask before buying a condo

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Are you in the market for a condo? Before you make an offer on a property, be sure to get answers to these crucial questions from either your real estate agent, ow¬ners in the building, or the condominium association.

1. What are the main complaints?
Ask to look over the minutes from recent board meetings to find out what issues have been raised and whether they were resolved. Additionally, consider speaking with residents in the building to find out how complaints have been handled in the past.

2. What storage space is available?
In addition to closet space within the unit, find out if each owner has access to a locker in the basement or an outdoor shed. This is a particularly important question to ask if you have bikes, skis, or other large equipment that you don’t want to keep inside.

3. What does the insurance cover?
Be sure to get a copy of the building’s condo corporation insurance policy so you know what’s included. This will help you determine whether you need additional insurance for your unit and what type.



4. What are the rules of the building?
Every condo has its own set of regulations that re¬sidents must respect. This may include rules about owning a pet, planting a flower garden, or renting out your unit. Make sure these rules don’t clash with your needs and lifestyle.

5. What do condo fees get spent on?
In addition to knowing the amount you’ll have to pay every month, it’s important to know what the money collected is spent on. This will give you an idea of how well the common areas of the building are maintained and whether the board has an emergency fund.

Remember, your real estate agent can help you navigate this process, so don’t hesitate to reach out.

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Virginia’s hot summer housing market shows signs of cooling

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According to the June 2021 Home Sales Report released by Virginia REALTORS®, while June sales numbers were strong, several signs point to a slowing of the housing market over the second half of the year. A cooling in the market will help ease the frenzy that has led to bidding wars and major price escalation all across the state.

There were 16,393 home sales in Virginia in June 2021, which is a 24.4% increase over June 2020. Sales were up 15.9% between May and June. The median home sales price statewide was $372,500 in June, up 17.1% from a year ago, a gain of $54,500. While the housing market delivered these high numbers in June, the number of homes available for sale is also increasing.

Most markets across Virginia are seeing expanding inventories, and some markets are seeing a slowdown in buyer activity. At the end of June 2021, there were 19,346 active listings statewide, which is 17.9% lower than the level at the end of June 2020. However, the number of month-end active listings increased by 7.5% between May and June.

In recent months, a lot of the expanding inventory has been driven by more listings of condominiums and townhomes, particularly in Northern Virginia. However, more single-family homes are coming onto the market, and it is expected that overall inventories will be greater over the summer and into the fall in most markets in Virginia.


“It remains a seller’s market, although buyers likely will find less competition and more options this summer and into the fall,” says Virginia REALTORS® Chief Economist Lisa Sturtevant, PhD. “Inventory will remain tight, and demand will stay strong, but the pace of home sales activity and the increase in prices should begin to return to a more normal state throughout the rest of the year and into 2022.”

The Virginia Home Sales Report is published by Virginia REALTORS®. Click here to view the full June 2021 Home Sales Report.

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Potential UNLOCKED: Become a Roblox Developer In this hands-on, fully guided camp experience, ninjas learn the basics of game building and creative development in an exciting, user-generated online gaming platform called Roblox! This camp will[...]
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Aug 3 @ 9:00 am – Aug 7 @ 12:00 pm
Potential UNLOCKED: Become a Roblox Developer @ Code Ninjas
Potential UNLOCKED: Become a Roblox Developer In this hands-on, fully guided camp experience, ninjas learn the basics of game building and creative development in an exciting, user-generated online gaming platform called Roblox! This camp will[...]
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Aug 4 @ 9:00 am – Aug 8 @ 12:00 pm
Potential UNLOCKED: Become a Roblox Developer @ Code Ninjas
Potential UNLOCKED: Become a Roblox Developer In this hands-on, fully guided camp experience, ninjas learn the basics of game building and creative development in an exciting, user-generated online gaming platform called Roblox! This camp will[...]
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Potential UNLOCKED: Become a Roblox Developer In this hands-on, fully guided camp experience, ninjas learn the basics of game building and creative development in an exciting, user-generated online gaming platform called Roblox! This camp will[...]
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Potential UNLOCKED: Become a Roblox Developer In this hands-on, fully guided camp experience, ninjas learn the basics of game building and creative development in an exciting, user-generated online gaming platform called Roblox! This camp will[...]
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9:00 am Waggin’ For Dragons @ Front Royal Golf Club
Waggin’ For Dragons @ Front Royal Golf Club
Aug 7 @ 9:00 am – 11:00 am
Waggin' For Dragons @ Front Royal Golf Club
Our Annual Dragon Boat race is back and better this ever, because we’ve got some special friends joining us! Our race teams, made of local community and business groups, will be racing and raising that[...]
11:00 am Friends of Sky Meadows Farm Market @ Sky Meadows State Park
Friends of Sky Meadows Farm Market @ Sky Meadows State Park
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Friends of Sky Meadows Farm Market @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area. Stop by the Friends of Sky Meadows Farmer’s Market for tasty preserved products, heirloom vegetables, eggs and more. Pick from seasonal vegetables grown in Sky Meadows’ authentic Kitchen Garden, July through September. Grab[...]
12:00 pm Settle’s Kettle @ Sky Meadows State Park
Settle’s Kettle @ Sky Meadows State Park
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Settle's Kettle @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area. Follow your nose to the Log House to see what tasty treats are cooking on the hearth. Watch as a Sky Meadows volunteer or ranger dons historic clothing and cooks delicious dishes using[...]
12:00 pm The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
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The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
Blacksmith Shop in the Historic Area. The forge is fired up and the blacksmiths are hard at work in the Historic Area. Members of the Blacksmith Guild of the Potomac have set up shop and[...]
8:00 pm Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
Aug 7 @ 8:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area – behind Mount Bleak. Our evenings begin with a half-hour children’s “Junior Astronomer” program, followed by a discussion about the importance of dark skies and light conservation. Then join NASA Jet Propulsion Lab[...]