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Real Estate

Can solar panels increase your home’s value?



You’ve probably heard solar panels can reduce your electricity bill and lead to major savings over time, but can they also increase your home’s resale value? Over the last few years, researchers have discovered that in fact, they do.

While installing solar panels may seem like a costly investment, a recent study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (the Berkeley Lab) found that Americans are willing to pay more for homes that have solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. The study estimates that buyers typically pay about four dollars per watt of solar power installed, meaning that a five-kilowatt system can lead to an added value of $20,000. Even given the costs of solar panel installation, the study suggests homeowners end up making money when selling their homes.

It’s less clear whether solar panels add value when homeowners rent solar power systems instead of buying them outright. Because of the upfront costs associated with solar panels, many Americans choose to rent PV systems. These leases often last for 20 years and can make selling your house more complicated. Nonetheless, a 2016 survey by the Berkeley Lab found that leased solar energy systems don’t reduce a home’s overall value and in some cases add value. Overall, real estate experts are finding that in an era when homebuyers are looking to go green, investing in solar panels — whether you buy or lease them — is likely to make your home more valuable.

Real Estate

Three ways to make your home more energy efficient



Whether you’re building from the ground up or renovating your existing house, there are many things you can do to reduce the amount of electricity it takes to power your home. Not only is it better for the environment but it’ll also save you money in the long run. Here are a few ways you can improve energy efficiency in your home.

1. Insulate: install both high-quality insulation and well-insulated windows and doors to stop cold air from coming into your home. Your heating and cooling system won’t need to work as hard to maintain a comfortable temperature.

2. Solar power: install solar panels on your roof to produce your own clean electricity. If you generate more power than your house needs, you can make some money by selling it back to the electric company.

3. Programmable thermostat: avoid heating your home when nobody’s there by installing a programmable thermostat that can be set to lower your home’s temperature both during the day and while you’re asleep.

Even if renovating isn’t in your current plans, there are still lots of things you can do to reduce your energy consumption. Replacing regular light bulbs with LED lights and installing thermal curtains to block cold air from getting into your house are simple measures you can take.

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Warren County Market Report – February 2019



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

In general summary:

  1. Closed sales (28 units) is significantly down by -37%.
  2. Average Median Sold $209,950. This number is up from February 2018 but down from last month January 2019 ($224K).
  3. Average Days on Market 110. January 2019 we were only at 69 DOM.

Looking forward to the spring market, we anticipate closed sales to improve. It is not clear why closed sales decreased so much. Reports indicate the available homes on the market has not dipped compared to last year. Could the government “shutdown” have created delayed closings?

To help answer this question, let’s ask a few local industry experts.

Tim Fusaro of Commonwealth Home Lending confirmed, “The government shutdown affected several of my USDA loan closings pushing them back into a March close date.” Fusaro continued, “We saw low purchase volume in January and February because USDA loans are utilized by a large percentage of home buyers in Warren County. USDA loans require RD approval prior to closing and those employees were furloughed. Even those purchasing homes with loans that don’t require any direct federal involvement prior to closing seemed to be discouraged and hesitant to move forward with purchasing homes. Rates began dropping in December of 2018 and we didn’t start to see the effect of that until mid February.”

Bill Tribus of Clear Title and Escrow challenged we research back additional years to determine the closed sales trend through 2016. Here is what was found:

  • Closed sales 2016: 40
  • Closed sales 2017: 42
  • Closed sales 2018: 45
  • Closed sales 2019: 28

Tribus commented, “Considering the number of government funded loans that are currently popular in our area, and the lengthy government shutdown, these factors could definitely be contributors for this significant drop.”

Loan Officer, Molly Llewellyn of CBM Mortgage confirmed she experienced a USDA loan delay this month. NextHome Realty Select broker, Curtis Siever concluded this brief investigation by adding, “Our local brokerage had two USDA loans scheduled to close in February pushed to March.”

*If you would like a copy of this report emailed to you, please just send your request to


Resource: 2019 Market Stats by ShowingTime
MRIS: Statistics calculated March 6, 2019

Jennifer Avery, Realtor for NextHome Realty Select
BPOR, SRS, CNE, E-Pro Certified | Licensed in VA | 540-683-0790
210 E Main Street, Front Royal VA 

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Real Estate

Three unique kitchen counter materials



Thinking about changing your countertops? Wondering what options you have outside of laminate, quartz and granite? If you’re on the hunt for something unique, consider one of the following three options.

1. Soapstone: this natural stone will give your kitchen a rustic look, especially as it ages. Soapstone is matte and soft to the touch, and its color changes from light to dark gray over time. This non-porous stone is resistant to heat and stains but can easily get dented or scratched.

2. Concrete: this incredibly durable material is infinitely customizable. Concrete counters can be manufactured in any color, shape or finish you dream of. You can even mix other materials like glass into it for a truly unique look. Concrete is scratch-resistant but porous and will need to be sealed to prevent staining.

3. Stainless steel: a mainstay in professional kitchens, stainless steel is making its way into people’s homes. Cooks love these counters because they’re sanitary, easy to clean, won’t stain and can’t be damaged by heat. However, some people don’t like the industrial feel of the material or the racket they make if you drop something.

If you’re on the lookout for a kitchen counter that’ll turn heads, one of the above options may be just right.

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Houses For Sale

Long time Front Royal family shares art collection



One of many Inman Otis Kibler paintings.

Small town Front Royal is, and has been, home for some big time talent. The natural beauty of the mountains, flow of the river, and wonderment of our sunsets and rainbows are obvious marvels, but the true magnificence is our people.

As a Realtor, one tends to have many adventures when listing a home. Once in a while, you walk into a listing appointment and know that this one is different; different because as you entered through the door, you know this house is a HOME. The life that was lived inside the home is still buzzing in the air. As I looked around the McFall home last month, this is how I felt.

In 1986, the McFall home had its debut in the Garden Club of Warren County’s Annual House and Garden Tour. The property featured lovely furniture, decor, and oil paintings throughout the home. These very paintings remained on the walls until just recently. Are you curious to learn more about these oil paintings? I sure was after noticing each was signed I.O. Kibler!

Inman Otis Kibler, founder of Kibler Furniture in Front Royal, was indeed the artist who had crafted the paintings. After quizzing his grandson, Gary McFall, I learned that I.O. Kibler had taken up painting in the 50’s or 60’s. He had been mentored by top DC artists. I.O. Kibler painted a variety of subjects, from portraits to landscapes to everything in between. For a slide show of the artwork, click here, or check out the following video:

Historic Garden Week 1986 brochure cover.

Garden tour description from 1986 brochure:

The McFall home on Salem Avenue will be listed for sale this spring. If you are looking for a beautiful home built with love, keep this home in mind! Please don’t hesitate to call with questions.

Jennifer Avery, REALTOR
NextHome Realty Select
210 E Main Street, Front Royal VA  22630
540-683-0790 |

McFall House description within the Historic Garden Week 1986 brochure.

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Real Estate

How to create a breakfast nook in your home



A breakfast nook is a small, secluded dining space that’s set apart from the rest of your kitchen or living room. It’s usually reserved for lighter meals and has a more intimate and relaxed atmosphere than a dining room.

Even if your house doesn’t have a built-in breakfast nook, you can create the feeling of one by putting a table and chairs in a small corner of your kitchen or living room that doesn’t get much use. Not only will you gain a cozy niche for eating, chatting and reading, but you’ll also be optimizing your living space by turning an awkward alcove into useable space. For maximal seating and legroom, think about installing benches or banquettes along the walls and using a pedestal table instead of a regular table and chairs.

To make your breakfast nook more inviting, include a hanging lamp over the table and add pillows to the benches or chairs for a bit of color and comfort. Keep in mind that the best place for a breakfast nook is usually by a window: the view to the outdoors will prevent the space from feeling too cramped and keep your breakfast nook bathed in natural light during the day.

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Real Estate

Market Report: Millennials become buyers as market normalizes



Eleven years after the real estate crash that triggered a recession, there’s good news: the market appears to have normalized in recent years.

Sales prices have rebounded but are not extreme, and loans are more readily available than in those first few panic-stricken years. Meanwhile, the Millennial generation (ages 22 to 36), are aging into home buying range just as baby boomers age into retirement sales — although that tradeoff has not been fully realized.

Even a steady stream of interest rate increases since 2015 hasn’t dampened the mood — 30-year fixed rates are still in the historically low to average range, hovering between 4 and 5 percent.
Lower inventory of homes for sale and the higher cost of materials and labor means sales prices have risen and conditions have favored sellers; additionally, many homeowners have opted to remain in place, finding it cheaper to renovate or add on rather than sell and find a replacement home.

In fact, in November 2018, the National Association of Realtors said that year-over-year contract signings — an indicator of pending home sales — had dropped for 10 straight months. At the same time, the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis reported a rise in rentals, which it expected to continue.

But that doesn’t mean home buying has stalled, either. In fact, opportunities are still plentiful, as are the number of buyers, especially millennials seeking their first homes.

According to Trulia, 21 percent of Americans aged 18 to 34 said they plan to buy within the next 12 months.

And in the end, a quarter of a percentage point here or there doesn’t equate to a big difference in the monthly payment — it can be as little as $20 in many cases. According to some forecasters, home prices adjust to accommodate the change. In other words, prices could actually come down a little.

So if you are considering a purchase, 2019 is expected to provide plenty of opportunity.

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Grab Some Clay and Create @ The Kiln Doctor, Inc.
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March 26th & 28th | Stop in any time between 10am-12pm or 3pm-5pm. Each week we create 5 unique projects that you can choose from. Pieces will be fired and ready for pickup in a[...]
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Botanical Drawing with Graphite Pencils @ Art in the Valley
This four week course (Tuesdays 1:30-4:00 p.m.from March 5 through March 26, 2019) with instructor Elena Maza, will focus on learning basic drawing skills as applied to botanicals: basic line drawings of leaves, flowers, the[...]
10:00 am Drawing Basics: Spring 2019 5-We... @ Art in the Valley
Drawing Basics: Spring 2019 5-We... @ Art in the Valley
Mar 27 @ 10:00 am – 12:30 pm
Drawing Basics: Spring 2019 5-Week Course @ Art in the Valley
This class is an introduction to drawing. Learn techniques that will help you build a solid foundation in drawing with artist and instructor Michael Budzisz. We’ll focus on improving skills by practicing contour drawings, line[...]