This 7 part series is accompanied by BETHvids featuring tips regarding buying, selling and the real estate industry in general.
Top 5 real estate tips for those planning to buy soon:
- Ask for a recommendation for several local Realtors then explore them online and contact them. Take note of their initial enthusiasm, professionalism and response time. Ask them to send you sales statistics of homes in your price range, in your favorite neighborhoods, or with your physical criteria. It’s important to get a feel for what your money will buy before you start pounding the pavement.
- Contact at least two lenders to start building relationships and get on their mailing lists about rates and get tips on how to best improve/maintain your credit. I suggest reaching out to at least two lenders so that you can have multiple quotes and loan products to compare. It’s best to choose the lender you feel has been most responsive and helpful (and whom you trust the most) when you find a home and want to lock in a rate–if the other lender(s) beats their rate, ask them to match it and they probably will. Start gathering information the lender will require for loan processing and ask them to pre-approve you so you’ll know what type of loan to expect.
- Start making a list of MUST HAVES vs. WISH LISTS so that you have criteria to share with your Realtor. Ask for recommendations and contact a Realtor even before you want to explore properties in person. They can best advise you about the process and start sending you listings that match your specifications to give you a feel for the market well before you start touring. If you are buying with a spouse or partner, be sure to get on the same page at the onset of your search so you fully understand and agree on each other’s “make or break” features.
- Refine your budget to get prepared for the expenses of home ownership starting with costs associated with your purchase. Start saving money to cover the earnest money deposit (typically $1,000) and buyer-paid inspections (which can be $1,000 or more). Even though most buyers roll their actual lender closing costs into the loan, there are many upfront expenses to consider. While contemplating costs, be sure to ask your lender contacts for “good faith estimates” and “truth in lending” statements so that you can compare their fees, total monthly payment projections for your price range and annual percentage rates (which are more important than the actual interest rate they quote).
- Download some good home searching apps on your phone like Homesnap, and do some generic online real estate purchasing research on sites like nar.realtor so you know what to expect when you start the process and can start keeping tabs on the market. Know your rights as a buyer and educate yourself on the pitfalls of dual agency, which is when buyers work with the seller’s listing agent to help you with the purchase. I wholeheartedly believe dual agency should be illegal as buyers and sellers best interests are not able to be fully protected.
Stay tuned for more BETHvids and corresponding articles made for buyers, sellers and Realtors for additional tips to implement while stuck indoors. Follow her real estate and WHAT MATTERS postings on Royal Examiner under the Features tab, “What Matters Warren.”
Beth Waller, Associate Broker at KW Solutions – Keller Williams Realty
Local Office: 27 Cloud Street Front Royal, VA 22630
Northern Virginia Office: 8100 Ashton Ave #103 Manassas VA 20109
Licensed in VA
To learn more about my real estate sales or nonprofit (WHAT MATTERS), to book a time to utilize my free community meeting space (“Open House” in the Middle of Main building on Main Street), to schedule a no-cost social media video to promote your business/group or cause, or to discuss my listing your property (which makes all of my charity efforts possible), visit my website at www.whatmattersw2.com or give me a call at 540-671-6145!
Popcorn ceilings: how to patch, paint and remove them
A popcorn ceiling, also known as a stipple, stucco, or acoustic ceiling, is a type of textured ceiling that has a noise-dampening effect. It was a common feature in houses 50 years ago, and many homes still have them. Here’s what you should know about renovating them.
If your popcorn ceiling is stained or cracked, you can patch it. There are special products designed for this purpose that can be purchased in either an aerosol can or a container. These products are easy to spray or paint on.
Removing a popcorn ceiling can be messy, dangerous, and time-consuming, but it isn’t difficult. If it’s painted, you’ll need to apply a specialized stripping product. It should be rolled or brushed on and given time to soften the ceiling material, which can then be scraped away with a trowel.
To simplify patching, painting, or removing your popcorn ceiling, hire an experienced contractor to complete the job.
Before renovating a popcorn ceiling, you need to determine if it contains asbestos. If it does, make sure to hire a professional asbestos remediation company to remove it.
Exterior siding: how long do various types last?
Siding protects your home from the elements but inevitably takes a beating in the process. Your choice of material, however, will determine how long this part of your house endures.
• Vinyl typically lasts 20 to 40 years and is easy to maintain. The grade and thickness of the panels will impact their durability. If damaged, vinyl panels are easy to repair or replace.
• Wood siding (usually cedar) can last anywhere from 15 to 40 years. It offers unrivaled beauty but also requires much more maintenance than other types of siding. The wood should be resealed every five years and inspected annually to stave off potential rot and pest infestations.
• Aluminum has a lifespan of about 30 to 50 years. However, expect the paint to peel after about 15 years. Fortunately, aluminum siding can be repainted. Though it’s possible for aluminum panels to be scratched, dented, or pitted, they can usually be fixed or replaced
• Fiber cement planks have a lifespan of about 25 to 40 years. Their color may eventually fade, but the planks can be repainted. Fiber cement can resemble wood but is resistant to termites and rot. This type of siding requires little maintenance.
Siding should always be replaced when it can no longer protect the internal structure of your home. However, it may deteriorate long before this and should be replaced once it becomes shabby, brittle, or discolored.
Should you invest in a sump pump?
A sump pump is a device that can be installed in a basement, either beneath or above the floor. It’s designed to pump out the water collected in a sump basin and discharge it to the outdoors. Consequently, your home is kept safe from the damage that can occur as a result of flooding.
If your basement is at risk of flooding, you should consider buying a sump pump, especially if you live somewhere with a high water table. If possible, select a submersible rather than a pedestal pump, as they’re less noisy when covered with a lid. You should also opt for a model with an iron core since it’s more durable than the plastic alternative. Plus, you should think about getting a pump with an alarm that alerts you if the water in the basin reaches a dangerous level.
In addition, you may want to install a secondary sump pump next to the first one, especially if you have a finished basement. This way, if your primary pump fails or becomes overtaxed, the secondary pump will automatically take over.
A battery backup pump can also be installed. In the event of a power outage, this type of pump will continue to work for up to two days.
To install a sump pump in your home, speak with a qualified plumber in your area.
Popular window styles and where to use them
Do you want to update the windows in your home? If so, here are some popular types and where they might look best.
• Double-hung windows feature two large sashes that slide up and down along vertical tracks. They perfectly complement rambler, farmhouse, bungalow, and other modern-traditional style homes. They have many customization options and look good in almost any room.
• Slider windows are available in a variety of styles, materials, and finishes. They open horizontally rather than vertically, which makes them ideal for spaces with horizontal features. For example, they look good over a counter or in a hallway. Since slider windows are easy to open and close, they’re also practical in hard-to-reach spaces.
• Casement windows open inward or outward with a mechanical crank. They’re well suited to contemporary homes and great in rooms where you want to let in a cool breeze.
• Bay and bow windows extend outward from the home and are traditionally composed of a picture window flanked by one or more pairs of double-hung or casement windows. Place them anywhere that overlooks a view or in a living room, family room, or bedroom that needs a focal point.
The best windows for your home will depend on your budget and style. In all cases, however, it’s best to make sure they’re energy-efficient (look for the Energy Star label) and installed by an experienced contractor.
Touchless design features for a germ-free home
Touchless technologies have long been featured in public spaces to limit the spread of germs. Now, these motion-activated innovations are making their way into homes. Here are a few you may want to adopt.
• Light switches. Illuminate your home by walking past conveniently placed sensors.
• Faucets and toilets. Touchless versions will help keep your bathrooms sanitary.
• Soap dispensers. Wash your hands without getting the dispenser dirty.
• Appliances. Dishwashers, refrigerators, and ovens are increasingly featuring technologies that allow you to open and close them without using a handle.
• Garbage bins. Open and close your trash can with motion-activated technology.
You can find touchless technologies at hardware and appliance stores in your area.
Virginia’s 2020 home sales top 2019 sales by nearly 11%
According to the December 2020 Home Sales Report released by Virginia REALTORS®, Virginia’s housing market surged in the second half of 2020. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn, there were 13,603 more home sales in 2020 than there were in 2019. This is an increase of 10.8%—the Commonwealth’s fastest growth in annual sales transactions in more than five years.
Sales activity in the final quarter of 2020 was significant compared to recent years. Home sales activity gained steam throughout the fall and into the winter months when transactions typically tend to slow. In December, there was a total of 12,525 home sales in Virginia, which is 32.4% higher than a year ago.
Demand for homeownership has been strong throughout the pandemic, fueled by historically low mortgage rates. Virginia REALTORS® Chief Economist Lisa Sturtevant, PhD, says, “The foremost challenge for Virginia’s housing market has been a lack of supply. Declining inventory has limited options for would-be homebuyers and has driven up home prices across the Commonwealth.”
In Virginia, the median sales price in 2020 was $319,902, which was up from $295,000 last year, an 8.4% increase. For the past few years, home prices have risen by between 2 and 4 percent, so the gain in 2020 is notable. The biggest price gains were in the last few months of the year. In December, the median sales price statewide was $325,000, up 10.2%.
Demand for homeownership will continue to be strong in Virginia in 2021, while a lack of inventory will constrain market activity. Virginia REALTORS® forecasts that home sales will increase in 2021, though the pace of home sales transactions will slow due to insufficient supply.
The Virginia Home Sales Report is published by Virginia REALTORS®. Click here to view the full December 2020 Home Sales Report. Current and past reports are available to members, media, and real estate-related industries through the organization’s website.