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Cost comparison: should you buy or build a house?



When deciding whether to build or buy a house, the cost is a key factor to consider. Here’s a look at the expenses associated with each option.

Upfront costs
Though housing prices vary significantly, an existing home tends to be less expensive than a new one. And since construction takes an average of 10 to 16 months, you’ll also need to consider interim housing expenses.

However, a major perk of building a house is that it can be designed according to your exact specifications. This means you’ll only pay for what you want. In contrast, the price of a resale home might include features you’re not interested in such as a finished basement or pool house.

Ongoing expenses
It might take more time and money to build a home from the ground up, but the end result is a house-made with new materials covered by warranties. This allows you to avoid costly repairs for years to come. Plus, most new builds meet the latest energy efficiency standards, which leads to additional long-term savings.

In contrast, a resale home requires more frequent maintenance and repairs, especially if the roof, plumbing, or HVAC system will need to be replaced soon. You might also have to invest in renovations if the house isn’t up to code or doesn’t meet your needs and style preferences.

To help you make the right decision for your family, consult with a local real estate agent. A knowledgeable professional can provide you with information about the housing market and new development opportunities in your area.

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Travertine flooring: is it right for your home?



Travertine is a type of limestone that naturally forms in deposits near mineral springs. It comes in earthy neutral colors like beige, tan, off-white, and gray and has a fibrous, marble-like appearance.

As a flooring material, it’s sold in tiles by the square foot. While very durable, it does require ongoing maintenance and care. This is because travertine is a porous material, which makes it prone to staining and etching. It should be coated with a protective sealant upon installation and then again every three to five years. Travertine floors should also be regularly swept and mopped to prevent scratches and discoloration.

In terms of cost, travertine is a mid-range stone that tends to be more affordable than marble but more expensive than granite. It’s not the cheapest type of flooring for your home, but it isn’t the most lavish either.

Travertine has a timeless quality that complements both traditional and contemporary design styles. It typically comes in one of four finishes — polished, honed, tumbled, or brushed — and the type you choose will impact whether your floors look glossy and refined or rustic and weathered.

So, is travertine flooring right for your home?

If you have an ample budget and want a floor that gives your home a sense of reserved dignity and prestige, travertine may be the right pick.

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Real Estate

Home theater essentials



Enjoy a big-screen experience at home with your very own home theater. This renovation project is easier to pull off than you might think. Here are the five things you’ll need.

1. TV or projector
Before you choose your viewing system, compare the pros and cons of a big-screen TV with those of an overhead projector. Opt for the biggest screen you can afford with the highest resolution.

2. Sound system

The best home theater systems don’t skimp when it comes to sound. Consider adding built-in speakers to the walls or ceiling. Also, make sure your system includes a subwoofer, as rich bass notes will make the cinematic experience more exciting.

3. Seating
Opt for luxurious single seating in plush leather or soft fabric. Black recliners are a classic choice, but upholstered chaise lounges may offer greater comfort.

4. Snack station
Save space for the movie snacks you love most. Your snack station can include a popcorn maker, a mini-fridge, a bar, jars of candy, a soda-making station, or a water cooler.

5. Lighting
Blackout curtains are a must, and overhead lighting on a dimmer will allow you to quickly get the show started. Consider adding LED light strips to create a theater-like atmosphere. They can be placed behind movie posters, underneath seats, or along pathways to the restroom, snack station, and exit.

Once you’ve picked out the essentials, you can choose one or more add-ons. Consider including an electric fireplace, a video game console, or simply some soft blankets to curl up under.

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Real Estate

Warren County Market Report – December 2020 with Jen Avery



A few interesting numbers to notice:

  • The median sold price for Warren County has remained steady at approximately 300K this month and last.
  • This month for Frederick County, the median sold price is 293K.
  • Another number to notice is the new listings — Listings are down again this month by -23.7%.

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

In general summary:

  1. New Listings are DOWN -23.7%
  2. New Pending UP 10.2%.
  3. Closed sales are UP 3.3%
  4. Average Median Sold $299,995
  5. Average Days on Market  34

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

Resource: December 2020 Market Stats by ShowingTime
Bright MLS: Statistics calculated January 2021

Jennifer Avery, REALTOR® “Your Happy Home Expert!”
BPOR, SRS, CNE, E-Pro Certified | Licensed in VA | 540-683-0790
CRUM REALTY, INC| 318 S Loudoun St, Winchester VA 22601 | 540-662-0400

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Real Estate

How to make room for a home office



Have you recently started working from home? If you need a good-size office space but don’t have a spare room, here are a few options to explore.

• Basement. As long as it has adequate headroom, your finished basement (or a portion of it) can be a great place for an office. However, this isn’t the best solution if your basement has moisture issues.

• Attic. Some attics can be converted into usable living space. This isn’t a small renovation, however, and you may need to install electrical outlets, solid flooring, and much more to support your setup.

• Garage. If you rarely use your garage to park your car, it can be made into an office. You’ll undoubtedly need to invest in a number of updates to make it a comfortable space to work.

• Addition. This isn’t a budget-friendly option, but it could add permanent value to your home. Additions can be built above, behind or to the side of a house.

• Outbuilding. An office space that’s completely separate from the main house may offer the ultimate distraction-free work zone. However, this can be a costly project. The funds may be better allocated if spent on renovations to the main house.

When deciding how best to make room for your home office, be sure to assess all of your needs. Furthermore, find out if the renovations will affect the resale value of your home.

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Throw out the rule book! The best time to sell is now



Everyone knows that the spring home sales market heats up in early March and that’s when all the buyers are out, right? That may not be true in 2021.

Here are five reasons why:

1. Schools.
With many schools still going back and forth between virtual and classroom learning, buyers have less allegiance to school as a reason to wait until spring for a move. In most schools, sports and activities have been cancelled or curtailed, further softening parental concern about changing school districts.

2. Work.
More people are getting clarity on whether they will return to work in offices or continue working from home. Telecommuting remains popular, and telecommuters want homes with space for offices. This makes a cohort of buyers that are ready when you are. Suburbs and rural areas are hot right now as urban dwellers flee cities for more security, more space and a lower cost of living.

3. Not many homes on the market.
For sellers, that means don’t put off listing to wait for the market in spring. The market may well be ready now. Supply is low in most locales, and your property will shine with less competition in listings.

4. Home values are up.
There is no better time to get a great price for your home. Lots of buyers in the market means high demand. Fewer homes on the market means low supply. That is a recipe for a high selling price!

5. Sweet buying environment, too.
Buyers are now in a great position. Mortgage interest rates are historically low. Lenders want to lend. Demand for housing is high. In addition, some buyers have delayed during 2020 to wait out economic and social uncertainty. But much of that uncertainty is now resolved.

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10 tips to save money on home renovations



One of the most daunting aspects of a renovation is the price tag. Here are 10 tips to help ensure your next home improvement project doesn’t break the bank.

1. Look at the big picture
If you plan to upgrade the style of your home, determine whether you need to tackle structural issues first. Overlooking an old roof, cracked foundation or leaky windows can be a costly mistake if you have to rip out your new kitchen or bathroom in a few years to deal with safety concerns or water damage.

2. Write out a detailed plan

Create a list of all the projects you hope to get done. In addition to helping you establish a realistic budget, you can use this information to decide whether it’s more cost-effective to complete the renovations all at once or in stages. For example, compare the cost of paying a plumber’s call-out fee several times to the expense of temporary housing if all your bathrooms are out of commission.

3. Set and maintain a budget
Before you begin any type of renovation project, it’s important to calculate the approximate total cost. Take into account everything from permit fees to the final furnishings. This foresight will ensure you only take on projects you can afford. Remember to set aside about a fifth of your budget for unexpected costs.

4. Hire a reliable contractor
Don’t hire a contractor simply because they’re the cheapest. Instead, ask friends for recommendations, read customer reviews online, and interview at least two or three contractors to ensure you find someone reputable. Insist on seeing a detailed contract to avoid surprise fees. If possible, schedule your renovations during the off-season as companies tend to charge less.

5. Spend money strategically
Keep in mind that certain expenses might increase the cost of your renovation, but they’ll save you money in the long run. For example, buying high-quality countertops and insulation are worthwhile investments because they last longer and perform better than cheap alternatives. You should also prioritize projects that add value to your home, such as bathroom and kitchen remodels.

6. Keep the existing footprint
Unless the current layout is incredibly dysfunctional, it’s best to work with what you have. Avoid moving walls, windows, plumbing, and large appliances, as these undertakings can decimate your budget. Instead, repaint the walls, rearrange the furniture, and use effective storage solutions to make the space feel more open and airy.

7. Buy materials in advance
Once you commit to a renovation project, give yourself plenty of time to shop around for discounts on materials, appliances, and furnishings. Look for end-of-year sales and they-pay-the-tax promotions. Additionally, consider opting for floor models or slightly damaged pieces to cut costs without compromising on style.

8. Opt for classic design features
A timeless look and neutral palette are best when it comes to more permanent features like tiles, flooring, countertops, and major pieces of furniture. Save bold patterns and statement pieces for curtains, throw pillows, feature walls, light fixtures, and other design elements that are inexpensive to change as your style preferences evolve.

9. Reuse or sell materials
From painting kitchen cabinets to sanding down old hardwood floors, there are various ways you can give existing features in your home a facelift. Keep in mind, however, that some things cost more to repair than replace. If you have furnishings or appliances you no longer want, try to sell them if they’re in good condition.

10. Go for energy-efficient options
Take advantage of government-issued rebates and tax credits. These are available to homeowners who purchase energy-efficient appliances or make improvements that impact the energy efficiency of their house (new doors and windows, extra insulation, smart thermostat, etc.). In addition to offsetting the cost of your renovations, you’ll benefit from long-term savings on your heating and cooling bills.

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