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4 ways to get your outdoor living space ready for summer

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Now that the warmer weather has arrived, it’s time to set up your outdoor living space for the season. But before you bring out the patio furniture, you should attend to these four tasks.

1. Wash your windows. Clean the frames and glass, and don’t forget to give the screens a scrub as well. You should also inspect the caulking around your windows and doors. If there are any cracks, apply new caulking

2. Get your deck ready. Clean your patio or deck and check for loose boards or anything else that looks like it needs to be fixed. Make repairs, then sand and seal wood surfaces.

3. Examine exterior surfaces. Inspect your siding for damage and ensure your foundation is free of cracks that might have formed over the winter. If you see any peeling paint on your shutters or window frames, make plans to have them painted.

4. Inspect your barbecue. Look out for signs of damage. Clear off spider webs, clean the grill and make sure animals haven’t nibbled on the gas line.

Once you’re done with the above, it’s time to set up your outdoor furniture. Give chairs, tables and loungers a good cleaning, then sit back, relax and enjoy soaking up the sun.

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Real Estate

Buying and selling in the temporary normal

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With all of this extended time spent homebound recently, many of us have discovered a new truism: if you have to be quarantined, you might as well do it in your dream home.

No matter what — the season, the economy, even a virus — people will continue to buy and sell houses. It’s only the process that changes. And buyers and sellers who can adapt and pivot are the ones who come out ahead.

Fortunately, real estate professionals are already adept at strategies that could prove especially helpful this year, as COVID-19 dominates the news.

Think: technology. Virtual tours will likely increase in popularity. Buyers were already screening houses online before seeing them in person, and a thorough virtual tour could dramatically increase the number of eyes on your property.

A 2018 report by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) said that 46 percent of buyers found a virtual tour very useful, while 74 percent used the internet to search for homes. Among millennials, that figure leaped to 92 percent.

Some other accommodations this year could include:

* Sellers may request more hand-washing. Another NAR survey, this one in March, found that more sellers were requesting that visitors wash their hands or use sanitizer. (Some may also request the use of booties, a commonplace request already.)

* Open houses may limit the number of people inside a home at one time – which probably makes for a more pleasant walk-through anyway.

* Technology can also aid in brokering a deal. Already, contracts are regularly sent via email, and signatures can be gathered online. Expect more of this.

* Those who attend open houses in the coming months are more serious buyers, as the tire-kickers have opted to stay at home.

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Real Estate

Your home has secrets known to few

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From tiny holes in the siding to wainscoting or the drawer under the oven, your house may include a number of features that serve a purpose even the most attentive of homeowners wasn’t aware of.

No, a woodpecker didn’t figure out how to hammer into your siding. If you spot some tiny holes, they’re most likely “weep holes” that allow water to escape rather than make its way inside; vinyl siding is designed to allow for ventilation and for condensation to drain out.

Think a chimney cap is meant just to keep debris from falling in? Think again. It also helps wayward embers from escaping up and then damaging your roof or starting a chimney fire, says Best Life Online, which offered some other fun “secret” house features:

* Wainscoting, that charming decorative wall paneling that typically reaches chair rail height, was originally intended to provide more insulation.

* A toe kick, the indented strip of wood between the bottom of your cabinets and the floor, actually serves an anti-toe kick purpose: they make it possible for you to open the cabinet doors without hitting your feet and to work closer to the counter.

* Ever notice that the backs of your oven knobs have screws? Once they’re loosened, you can calibrate the knob with a thermometer to get a more accurate temperature reading. A how-to from GE Appliances says each notch on the back of the knob changes the temperature by 10 degrees.

* That junk drawer at the bottom of your oven? Go figure – it’s not a junk drawer. That space can serve as a warming drawer or a broiler, depending on your appliance, and can help you keep a dish hot while waiting for the rest of your food to cook. Remember this come Thanksgiving.

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Real Estate

Warren County Market Report – April 2020

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Numbers are in and they do reflect our restrictions at this current time with demands for social distancing and stay at home order. However, I certainly think when you consider these numbers are compared to a healthy spring market in 2019, we have a lot to stay positive about!

A shift is happening. As we start to very slowly open up again, could the real estate market come to life with a late spring market pop? We are learning how to manage the once very scary surprise of a global pandemic with more ease and common sense. I predict our numbers are going to climb back to the green.

Could we start to see more Northern Virginia buyers move out this way for space away from congested city life? Will more and more people look for home office arrangements to save overhead costs? Will larger higher end homes start to be in greater demand? Time will tell!

Watch this video for a quick summary of Warren County real estate for April 2020. Charts demonstrate the changes in the market, so be sure to click play!

In general summary:

  1. New Listings are DOWN -8.2%.  April  2019 = 110 vs April 2020 = 101
  2. New Pending DOWN -17.6%.  April  2019 = 85 vs April 2020 = 70
  3. Closed sales are DOWN -5.1%. April  2019 = 59 vs April 2020 = 56
  4. Average Median Sold $243,000
  5. Average Days on Market 38

*If you would like a copy of this report emailed to you, please send request to jenaveryrealtor@gmail.com.

Resource: 2020 Market Stats by ShowingTime
MRIS: Statistics calculated April 2020

Jennifer Avery, Realtor
“Your Happy Home Expert”

BPOR, SRS, CNE, E-Pro Certified | Licensed in VA
jenaveryrealtor@gmail.com | 540-683-0790
CRUM REALTY, INC | 318 S Loudoun St., Winchester, VA 22601 | 540-662-0400

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Understanding property stigma

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Property stigma is a challenging factor to account for when selling or buying a home. Here’s some information to help you understand it better.

What is property stigma?
Any feature of a home that makes it less attractive but is unrelated to its physical or functional properties is usually considered a type of property stigma. Common examples include:

• A suicide or death occurred

• A major crime took place

• A grow-op or meth lab was removed

• There are reports of unexplained phenomena

Whether or not a property is stigmatized is entirely subjective. What one person finds acceptable may be a deal-breaker for another.

What does it mean for buyers?
In most cases, sellers aren’t required to disclose property stigmas. The best thing to do is tell your real estate agent what you want to avoid, and they can ask the seller or their agent. If they refuse to answer, you can either conduct your own research or find another property. Your realtor will be able to assist you in making a decision.

What does it mean for sellers?
In most cases, you’re not legally required to disclose property stigmas. If something about the property could be considered one and you’re asked about it directly, you can either answer the question, answer with a qualification that the buyer does their own research or refuse to answer at all. If you choose to answer, you have to be honest.

Keep in mind that, in the end, whether or not a property is stigmatized is entirely subjective.

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5 smells home buyers hate

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An unpleasant smell can dissuade potential buyers from making a reasonable bid on your home. Here are some odors that are best to eliminate or avoid creating.

1. Smoke
Many people in the market for a home are put off by properties that smell like cigarette smoke. They may be worried about needing to pay for cleaning, odor removal or restoration services. As a result, they may ask you to factor these costs into the sales price or simply choose to purchase a different home.

2. Pet smells

You probably can’t smell your pets, but visitors and potential buyers certainly can. Ask your real estate agent if they have any recommendations for good odor removal products and, if you can bear it, consider having your pets stay somewhere else until you sell the house.

3. Cooking odors
While the aroma of freshly baked cookies may help you sell your home, not all food smells are welcome. Avoid cooking strong-smelling foods like fish or cabbage shortly before people visit, and try to get any such smells out before the next showing.

4. Bleach and other cleaners
Never go overboard when using cleaning products. It could give the impression you’re trying to hide something. This also goes for air fresheners, which can be overpowering.

5. Mold or mildew
Musty smells conjure up images of rot and water damage and are sure to deter potential buyers. Check that there are no leaks anywhere in the house and that rooms are well ventilated. In addition, bad smells coming from sinks or drains could mean you need to call a plumber.

If you notice unpleasant smells anywhere in your home, try to locate the source, as they could indicate a problem that needs to be dealt with before putting your house on the market.

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Real Estate

4 myths about real estate agents

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Here are four common myths about real estate agents that you need to stop believing.

1. They always make a six percent commission
This is false. Six percent is the average commission, but the rate can vary between three and seven percent.

In addition, commissions can be negotiated. For instance, agents will sometimes accept a slightly smaller commission to allow a buyer and seller to come to an agreement. When interviewing agents, ask if their rate is negotiable.

2. There’s no problem with a buyer using the seller’s agent
It’s always better to hire someone who can advocate for you. A good buyer’s agent knows the local market inside and out and they’ll be able to provide valuable insights. While the seller’s agent will treat you fairly, their fiduciary duty is to the seller.

3. Agents are interchangeable
Never underestimate the value of experience. An agent who knows the area well and has roots in the community is more likely to provide good advice than one who’s new to the area. In addition, some agents are more interested in making a sale than they are in helping you.

4. You can’t buy a for sale by owner (FSBO) home with an agent
This misconception stems from the idea that if someone is selling their home themselves, then they won’t want to pay the commission for a buyer’s agent. This is mostly false, as by and large sellers understand that offering to pay the agent’s commission is a good way to attract buyers.

Real estate transactions are complicated enough without these misconceptions. Your agent is there to help and can answer any questions you may have.

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