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7 steps to become a homeowner

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Ready to take the plunge and finally purchase your dream house? Here are seven key steps to become a homeowner.

1. Set a budget
Start by figuring out how much you can realistically afford to pay for a new home. Remember that mortgage payments aren’t the only expenses you’ll have to consider; you’ll also need to pay for utilities, property taxes, home insurance and repairs.

2. Save for the down payment
When you buy a house, you have to put down a large amount of money to secure your purchase. The larger the down payment, the smaller your mortgage loan will be. Keep in mind that if your down payment is less than 20 percent of the total purchase cost, you’ll also have to pay for mortgage default insurance each month. As you’re saving, pay attention to your credit score, which is a determining factor in how good of a mortgage you’ll get.

3. Find the mortgage that’s right for you
Mortgages depend on the amount you’re able to pay upfront (the down payment) and the length of time you’ll have to pay the loan back. Before you start house hunting, you should get pre-approved for a mortgage by your bank or mortgage broker. During the pre-approval process, the lender determines the amount you qualify for. Sellers will be more receptive to your offer if you’re pre-approved.

4. Choose a real estate agent
Your real estate agent is your guide through the home buying process. Take the time to interview at least three different agents who have a thorough knowledge of the housing market in your area before choosing one who’s a good fit in terms of your needs and personality.

5. Start house hunting
As you tour different homes, make sure to keep a list of all the features you’re looking for during
the visits and take notes so you can keep track of your impressions. You should also make a list of questions to ask your agent about each property.

6. Make an offer
When you find the home of your dreams, you’ll need to prepare a written offer in consultation with your agent specifying how much you’re willing to pay. It’s recommended that your offer include certain contingencies like the right to have the home appraised and inspected before completing the transaction.

7. Finalize the deal
Once you’ve settled on a price, you’ll be able to start making closing arrangements, such as finalizing the payment and mortgage terms. On closing day, the final documents will be signed and you’ll receive the deed and the keys to your new home.

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Real Estate

5 questions to ask when choosing a neighborhood

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Before you start shopping for a new home, it’s a good idea to consider what neighborhood you want to live in. Here are five questions to ask yourself when considering location.

1. Are the schools good? If you have young kids, this is a top priority. Do some digging online and consider visiting the more promising schools in person.

2. Is it safe? Ensure that the neighborhood doesn’t have issues with crime. You can often find information about crime rates on the web. Another option is to make inquiries with the local police department.

3. Where can I go by foot? Consider what shops, services or amenities are within walking distance. This includes grocery stores, cafes, restaurants, daycares, clinics, parks and gyms.

4. What will commuting be like? Take into account how close the neighborhood is to your workplace and your children’s school. If you intend to take public transportation, see how accessible and convenient it is.

5. Do I like the atmosphere? To better understand the overall vibe of the neighborhood, the best thing to do is scope it out in person. Walk the streets, chat with the locals and visit the area’s shops and restaurants.

In addition to asking yourself these five questions, it’s worth discovering what trends are emerging with respect to home values in the neighborhood. This will indicate whether buying in the area will prove a good investment if you choose to sell the property down the road.

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Real Estate

Warren County Market Report – July 2019

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Welcome back to school, Warren County!

Watch this video for a quick summary of Warren County real estate for July 2019. Charts demonstrate the changes in the market, so be sure to click play!

In general summary:

  1. New Listings are up 15%.  This is a significant increase over last year.  Good news is that we are selling what we list and hopefully will continue to do so.  Closed Sales are up 9%.
  2. Average Median Sold $241,000.
  3. Average Days on Market 76.

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

Resource: 2019 Market Stats by ShowingTime
MRIS: Statistics calculated July 2019

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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Fixed versus variable rate mortgages: what you need to know

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Fixed or variable rate? It’s a question every homebuyer is faced with when obtaining a mortgage. If you’re unsure about which option is best for you, this primer should help.

What are fixed and variable rate mortgages?
Fixed rate mortgages are straightforward and involve paying the same monetary installments and interest rate for the duration of your term.

Variable rate mortgages, on the other hand, are a little more complicated. They’re tied to your bank’s prime rate, which may change over time.

Your bank’s prime rate is based on the target federal funds rate or the rate banks charge each other when they lend funds overnight. A quoted prime rate is typically the average of the prime rates charged by the major banks.

The target federal funds rate can increase or decrease several times per year. For example, in 2018, this rate changed four times. It rose by 0.25 percent each time, climbing from 1.25 percent in March to 2.50 percent in December.

Should you choose a fixed or variable rate mortgage?
Variable rate mortgages typically have a lower interest rate than fixed rate mortgages and historically, they’ve saved people money. However, fixed rate mortgages have the benefit of offering certainty and predictability. They make budgeting easier and take away any trepidation around potential interest rate hikes.

To better determine which mortgage type will cost you the least, see what leading economists are forecasting for the target federal funds rate. Just keep in mind that no one can reliably predict future fluctuations.

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Right of first refusal: what it is and why it’s useful

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A right of first refusal (ROFR) in a real estate contract is a clause that gives an individual first dibs on buying a particular property. If someone other than the specified individual makes an offer, they’re notified by the seller and given the opportunity to match the bid.

Who can arrange an ROFR?
An ROFR clause can be arranged between a tenant and a landlord, between family members or between neighbors. An ROFR can also be offered to a tenant via a homeowners’ association or condo board.

Advantages for tenants
This type of agreement can benefit all parties involved. If, for instance, a tenant is interested in eventually buying the home they’re renting, an ROFR clause gives them the assurance that so long as they have the funds, they’ll be first in line.

Advantages for landlords
On the landlord’s end, he or she maintains the right to sell to the highest bidder and always has at least one interested buyer. As an added bonus, it’s likely to be someone who can purchase the place with little hassle.

If you sign a right of first refusal agreement, make sure that the specifics suit you. Look at details such as the deadline to match an offer and the expiry date of the clause. Additionally, it’s a good idea to consult with a lawyer before entering into any legal agreement.

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Real Estate

What are junk fees?

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Junk fees are extra charges a mortgage lender tacks on when you close on a home. Paying some closing costs when finalizing a mortgage is expected. However, certain charges are unnecessary or excessive.

Junk fees may be labeled as an application fee, a mortgage rate lock fee, a processing fee, a courier fee, an administrative fee, a documentation fee or something else entirely. While such fees may represent actual work that was done, they tend to be basic services that the lender is expected to provide.

If you think you’re being charged junk fees, press your lender for details. If you find that the fees are in fact unjustified, you could ask the lender to waive them or simply state that you’re unwilling to pay. When pressured, the lender is likely to reduce or eliminate these charges.

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Local News

Meet Ray Bramble from AireServ

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Ray Bramble, President of AireServ, was in our studios recently and spoke with our publisher, Mike McCool, about high utility bills and what we can do to get them under control.

Ray is the President of AireServ, a heating and air-conditioning company in Front Royal. Bramble said, “We want you to stay comfortable and breathe clean air all year round.”

Ray, along with his son Ryan, also discussed a new technology called Aeroseal. Bramble says that duct leakage robs you of comfort, energy and peace of mind. Cracks and holes in your home’s air vents and duct system allow heated and cooled air to escape before reaching your rooms, ultimately leaving you with stuffy, uncomfortable rooms and wasted energy.

Watch as Ray and Ryan explain the Aeroseal process:

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Upcoming Events

Aug
22
Thu
5:30 pm Medicare Basics Educational Pres... @ Samuels Public Library | White Meeting Room B
Medicare Basics Educational Pres... @ Samuels Public Library | White Meeting Room B
Aug 22 @ 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
Medicare Basics Educational Presentation @ Samuels Public Library | White Meeting Room B
Come learn the basics of Medicare including: Eligibility, Important Dates, Medicare Coverage, Medicare Parts A,B,C, and D and Supplement Options. No Cost No RSVP required Walk-ins welcome For Educational purposes only For accommodations of persons[...]
Aug
24
Sat
8:00 am Safe Driving Class for Seniors @ Front Royal Police Department
Safe Driving Class for Seniors @ Front Royal Police Department
Aug 24 @ 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Safe Driving Class for Seniors @ Front Royal Police Department
Hosted By: Front Royal/Warren County S.A.L.T./TRIAD Are you a senior 50 and over in need of learning current driving trends, traffic laws and just an overall overview of driving safely? If so, AARP provides a[...]
10:00 am Sample an Irish Dance Class @ Jig 'n' Jive Dance Studio
Sample an Irish Dance Class @ Jig 'n' Jive Dance Studio
Aug 24 @ 10:00 am – 10:45 am
Sample an Irish Dance Class @ Jig 'n' Jive Dance Studio
Sample an Irish Dance Class at the Jig ‘n’ Jive Dance Studio. Saturday, August 24th. 10:00 – 10:45am. $2/dancer. Boys and Girls. No experience or registration required.
4:30 pm Front Royal Salvation Army Corps... @ Salvation Army
Front Royal Salvation Army Corps... @ Salvation Army
Aug 24 @ 4:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Front Royal Salvation Army Corps BBQ Cookout @ Salvation Army
The Front Royal Salvation Army Corps will host a BBQ Cookout on Saturday, August 24, 2019, from 4:30 pm to 8:30 pm at 296 South Street, Front Royal. A BBQ chicken meal, including chips and[...]
Aug
27
Tue
1:30 pm Botanicals in Watercolor I @ Art in the Valley
Botanicals in Watercolor I @ Art in the Valley
Aug 27 @ 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm
Botanicals in Watercolor I @ Art in the Valley
This four week course with the instructor, Elena Maza, will deal with the basic three-primary color palette, different pigments and how they interact, how to mix all colors from three primary colors, how to apply[...]
Aug
29
Thu
1:00 pm Substance Abuse and Recovery Summit @ Mountain Home Bed and Breakfast
Substance Abuse and Recovery Summit @ Mountain Home Bed and Breakfast
Aug 29 @ 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Substance Abuse and Recovery Summit @ Mountain Home Bed and Breakfast
The McShin Foundation and RSW (Rappahannock, Shenandoah, and Warren County) Regional Jail would like to invite you to our substance abuse and recovery summit to be held on August 29, 2019, in Front Royal, Virginia.[...]
Aug
31
Sat
1:00 pm DJ Skyhigh’s End of Summer Blast @ Warren County Fair
DJ Skyhigh’s End of Summer Blast @ Warren County Fair
Aug 31 @ 1:00 pm – 9:00 pm
DJ Skyhigh's End of Summer Blast @ Warren County Fair
Come join DJ Skyhigh for his end of summer blast. Lisa Bell will be hosting wine tastings (at an additional charge) of over 50 international wines. Wines may also be purchased by the bottle to[...]
Sep
3
Tue
1:30 pm Watercolor Landscapes @ Art in the Valley
Watercolor Landscapes @ Art in the Valley
Sep 3 @ 1:30 pm – 4:30 pm
Watercolor Landscapes @ Art in the Valley
This four week course with instructor Elena Maza will focus on learning basic skills to create watercolor landscape paintings: basic composition and use of color and value to create a sense of depth and distance.[...]
Sep
4
Wed
1:30 pm Botanical Drawing @ Art in the Valley
Botanical Drawing @ Art in the Valley
Sep 4 @ 1:30 pm – 4:30 pm
Botanical Drawing @ Art in the Valley
Learn and practice the art of botanical drawing in pencil with local artist and instructor Elena Maza. This four session course will focus on learning basic drawing skills as applied to botanicals: basic line drawings[...]
Sep
7
Sat
10:00 am SHS Marching Band Mattress Fundr... @ Skyline High School
SHS Marching Band Mattress Fundr... @ Skyline High School
Sep 7 @ 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
SHS Marching Band Mattress Fundraiser @ Skyline High School
Skyline High School Marching Band is having a mattress sale fundraiser on Saturday, September 7, 2019, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Skyline High School (151 Skyline Vista Drive, Front Royal, Virginia). There will[...]