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Increasing mortgage interest rates: what it means for you

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Mortgage rates are on the rise for the first time in years, with 15-year rates expected to rise from 3.9 percent last year to 4.4 percent at the end of this year. Here’s what it means for the real estate market.

What it means for sellers
You should expect your house to stay on the market a little longer before selling it. Taking on a mortgage represents a big commitment, and climbing interest rates are forcing some prospective buyers to stop and think a little harder before buying a house. Also, don’t be surprised if you get fewer offers than you were expecting.

What it means for buyers
While rates are higher than they’ve been in several years, they’re still relatively low. However, the trend isn’t likely to change anytime soon. Unless you’re buying the home with cash, opt for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage and avoid variable rate mortgages as they’ll likely go up again in the coming years.

The bottom line is that sellers should manage their expectations, and buyers should keep in mind that rates will likely continue to go up.

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Real Estate

8 real estate investment tips

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Investing in real estate offers substantial tax benefits and is a good way to diversify your portfolio. To make the most of your real estate investments, here are eight tips you should follow.

1. Do your research. If you’re not familiar with the market, seek the help of a professional and remember that the principle of “buy low, sell high” applies to real estate.

2. Diversify. Just like your overall portfolio, it’s crucial to diversify your real estate holdings. Invest in diverse areas and property types.

3. Team up. Unless you can devote a lot of time and energy to your holdings, it’s best to have an investment partner or join a group of investors.

4. Get advice. Seek the expertise of someone with a good track record in real estate transactions. They’ll be able to give you relevant information.

5. Adjust expectations. Don’t expect investing in real estate to be easy, because it isn’t. Just like other forms of wealth management, it requires know-how and experience.

6. Look beyond bargains. Don’t expect to find a major discount. Approach the market with a long-term outlook and privilege properties that are likely to help you build equity and grow your portfolio.

7. Have a way out. Selling a piece of property that’s appreciated in value may seem like a lucrative option, but you may end up paying a lot of taxes. Have a plan for reinvesting the profits.

8. Look at the big picture. Make sure you understand how real estate fits in with your overall investment strategy. The best thing to do is to sit down with a financial adviser and make a plan.

Above all, remember that the best way to enter the real estate market is strategically. Know what your goals are and make a plan to attain them.

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Real Estate

3 tips for downsizing in a hot market

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It’s common for seniors living in up-and-coming areas to be solicited by realtors and potential buyers interested in their homes. A hot real estate market can be a boon if you’re looking to downsize, but it can also attract predatory buyers and lowball offers.

Here’s how to get the most out of this opportunity, especially if you’ve been off the market for a while.

1. Hire a good realtor. Interview three or more and check their references. Ask questions about their experience with selling properties like yours, their general approach to closing on sales and what you can expect in terms of communication. You should also ensure that the realtor you hire is a registered member of the relevant professional organization in your area.

2. Get a market analysis. It’s important that you have a clear understanding of your home’s actual value. Your realtor should be able to provide you with a realistic estimate. You should also get a home appraiser to assess the value of the property.

3. Make your wishes known. Just because you’re selling doesn’t mean you need to leave everything behind. You’re perfectly within your rights to request that valuable or sentimental items, such as your vintage chandelier, be excluded from the sale.

Downsizing in a hot market can mean a quick sale, but it’s important that you work with a reliable realtor to ensure you get the most out of the deal.

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Real Estate

Is home staging worth the money?

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Staging involves altering the look of your home to make it more attractive to potential buyers. Is it worth paying for? The short answer is, it depends.

How much does it cost?
The extent of the staging will largely determine how much it costs. A minimal staging involving a deep clean and a fresh coat of paint will be less expensive than one involving renting chic furniture and installing new light fixtures.

What are the advantages?
A 2017 report by the National Association of Realtors cites that 29 percent of seller’s agents believe that home staging can increase the dollar value of a home by one to five percent.

Staging can also prevent sellers from having to accept lowball offers or drop their asking price. Realtors may insist that the price of staging a home is offset by the (potentially) gained profits, but this strongly depends on a number of hard-to-predict factors such as how strong the market is. There’s no universal rule that can be applied in every scenario.

What’s the bottom line?
How effective staging is varies from case to case. The most important thing to do is have an open discussion about it so that you can define your budget, timeline and expectations.

Finally, remember that anyone can call themselves a home stager. If you decide to stage your home, make sure to check the stager or staging firm’s references.

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Real Estate

Lockboxes: pros and cons

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If you’re selling your home, your realtor might suggest keeping a set of your house keys in a lockbox. Though this can make it easier for potential buyers to view your home, is it a good idea? Here’s what you should know.

The pros
Lockboxes are convenient, especially when the property up for sale is vacant. Sellers don’t need to attend each visit and buyers can take a look at the property when it’s most convenient for them. In addition, some buyers prefer visiting homes when the sellers aren’t around.

The cons
No matter how secure the lockbox is, there’s always some level of risk that a burglar could access it. Mechanical lockboxes, however, are more vulnerable than electronic models.

Electronic lockboxes often use smartphone applications to enter a personal code, creating a record of who opened the box and when. While secure, they don’t eliminate the risk of human error.

Keep in mind that the use of a lockbox requires your consent following a thorough explanation of the risks. If you’re not comfortable with the idea, it’s your right to refuse. Finally, remember that realtors are never allowed to give the combination to anyone who isn’t a registered real estate agent. If you see this happen, report it right away.

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Homebuyers beware: get an air inspection before you make an offer

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Are you in the market for a new home? If so, you may already know that having a property inspected before finalizing a deal is generally recommended. However, standard home inspections don’t usually include an evaluation of the building’s air quality. Since air quality can have a huge impact on the health of a home’s inhabitants, forgetting to check this important aspect is a mistake.

Testing indoor air quality
When testing the air quality in a home, the inspector will focus on several elements, including:

• The building’s history, including the year it was built and the materials used to insulate it. This information will offer insight into potential air contaminants.
• The health of the current residents, including any symptoms that indicate an issue with the air in the home.
• The state of the home’s ventilation system.

The inspector will also collect samples of the air in the home to check for mold, bacteria and gases like radon and carbon monoxide.

Don’t risk your health. Before scheduling a home inspection, ask if the inspector is qualified to assess the air quality of the home and if they’re comfortable drawing conclusions about potential health risks.

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Real Estate

Understanding guaranteed sale programs

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Have you heard of realtors offering to buy your home if they don’t sell it within a certain length of time? While guaranteed sale programs may seem like a hassle-free way of selling your home, there are a few things you should know about them first.

You need to do your homework
No two programs of this type are the same. Different realtors offer different terms, and you need to look closely at the fine print. Find out what the limiting conditions are and ask for a detailed explanation of the offer and a written agreement that clearly outlines the costs involved.

You need to ask questions
Ask the realtor about their strategy for selling your home and how much you’ll get if they end up purchasing it. Many guaranteed sale programs involve listing a house under its market value to ensure a quick sale.

You should also get a written disclosure outlining any factors affecting property value and the brokerage’s plans for the property.

They’re not for everyone
Outside of ensuring a quick sale, these programs don’t offer many advantages. Some realtors denounce guaranteed sale programs as mere marketing schemes, citing that they rely on listing homes under market value and that anyone could sell a house for cheap.

In any case, make sure to look up potential realtors through the relevant professional real estate association and be careful before signing anything.

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King Cartoons

‘Tis the Season

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Front Royal
47°
Cloudy
07:1916:50 EST
Feels like: 45°F
Wind: 4mph SSE
Humidity: 93%
Pressure: 29.84"Hg
UV index: 0
MonTueWed
min 51°F
58/33°F
41/20°F

Quotes

Upcoming Events

Dec
10
Tue
4:30 pm Science Scouts and More @ Samuels Public Library
Science Scouts and More @ Samuels Public Library
Dec 10 @ 4:30 pm – 6:00 pm
Science Scouts and More @ Samuels Public Library
Tuesday, December 3: Kids will explore popular books and book series through science, games, food, and more! After reading a Christmas story, we’ll discuss giving and how it affects us and the people around us.[...]
Dec
11
Wed
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Dec 11 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, December 4 and Thursday, December 5: Gingerbread and Candy Canes will be the delicious theme of our stories, songs, and craft this week! Siblings welcome.[...]
Dec
12
Thu
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Dec 12 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, December 4 and Thursday, December 5: Gingerbread and Candy Canes will be the delicious theme of our stories, songs, and craft this week! Siblings welcome.[...]
Dec
13
Fri
6:00 pm Holiday Open House @ Ruby Yoga
Holiday Open House @ Ruby Yoga
Dec 13 @ 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Holiday Open House @ Ruby Yoga
Ruby Yoga will host a Holiday Open House Friday, Dec. 13. Doors open at 6 p.m. with free gentle yoga starting at 6:20, followed by refreshments and door prize drawings.
7:30 pm Canticum Novum: Sing a New Song @ Front Royal Presbyterian Church
Canticum Novum: Sing a New Song @ Front Royal Presbyterian Church
Dec 13 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Canticum Novum: Sing a New Song @ Front Royal Presbyterian Church
The Blue Ridge Singers presents its 2019 Christmas concert titled “Canticum Novum:  Sing a New Song” featuring some of the finest Christmas choral music across the centuries at one of the most popular events in[...]
Dec
14
Sat
11:00 am Celebrate George Washington @ Samuels Public Library
Celebrate George Washington @ Samuels Public Library
Dec 14 @ 11:00 am – 12:30 pm
Celebrate George Washington @ Samuels Public Library
December 14 is the 220th anniversary of George Washington’s death. Today we will learn more about this great leader of our country and celebrate his legacy. Refreshments will be served. For ages 7 to 18.[...]
Dec
15
Sun
4:00 pm R-MA Hosts Community Christmas C... @ Randolph-Macon Academy | Boggs Chapel
R-MA Hosts Community Christmas C... @ Randolph-Macon Academy | Boggs Chapel
Dec 15 @ 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
R-MA Hosts Community Christmas Concert @ Randolph-Macon Academy | Boggs Chapel
The local community is invited to join the Randolph-Macon Academy family for an afternoon of holiday spirit with the R-MA Band and Chorus! The annual R-MA Christmas Concert will be held on Sunday, December 15th,[...]
Dec
17
Tue
4:30 pm Science Scouts and More @ Samuels Public Library
Science Scouts and More @ Samuels Public Library
Dec 17 @ 4:30 pm – 6:00 pm
Science Scouts and More @ Samuels Public Library
Tuesday, December 3: Kids will explore popular books and book series through science, games, food, and more! After reading a Christmas story, we’ll discuss giving and how it affects us and the people around us.[...]
7:30 pm Christmas Concert @ Boggs Chapel on the R-MA Campus
Christmas Concert @ Boggs Chapel on the R-MA Campus
Dec 17 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Christmas Concert @ Boggs Chapel on the R-MA Campus
Christmas Concert | Presented by the American Legion Community Band Tuesday, December 17, 2019, at 7:30 pm Boggs Chapel on the R-MA campus in Front Royal, VA
Dec
18
Wed
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Dec 18 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, December 4 and Thursday, December 5: Gingerbread and Candy Canes will be the delicious theme of our stories, songs, and craft this week! Siblings welcome.[...]