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Should you hire a general contractor?

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If you’re planning a major renovation or you want to build a new home, you should consider hiring a general contractor (GC) to manage the project. If you do, the GC will be responsible for supplying materials and equipment. They’ll also oversee the hiring of specialized subcontractors such as plumbers, electricians and carpenters. Plus, they’ll take care of administrative tasks like obtaining the proper permits, acquiring the requisite insurance and paying subcontractors.

While managing the project on your own may seem doable, a contractor has the experience and resources to execute the work more efficiently. Most GCs have a short list of professionals they’ve worked with before and trust, saving you the guesswork of finding the right person for each job. And, because they’re licensed pros, they can get materials for your project at discounted prices only offered to those in the industry.

Managing a renovation or construction project is a full-time job that requires experience in order to do it well. If you aren’t able to take time off from work, or if you don’t have experience in project management, you may run into problems. But by hiring a general contractor, you’ll be sure that your construction project gets completed properly and on time.

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Be ready for an unscheduled showing

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When an agent wants to show your place on Tuesday at 4 p.m. or Wednesday at 8, you’ve got a convenient choice to make.

But what if the agent is showing other homes in your neighborhood to a hot buyer who is in town for the day and intends to buy? What if he or she has seen your sign and is interested? Could you let the agent show the house now?

The problem is that buyers often have schedules that are inconvenient for sellers. Out-of-town people and people who travel for a living are just two examples of buyers who might need to see your home on a weeknight evening.

When your home is on the market, you have already done the painting and other maintenance, so the house is almost showable. To allow a showing in a short time, try to keep the place generally picked-up and in order.

This is especially true with bathrooms and bedrooms. They are very important rooms which should have nothing lying about, like clothes on the floor. Put out clean towels.

If you can’t get the beds made, at least pull the blankets straight.

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Local real estate industry reaction to COVID-19 crisis; new video series to help sellers, buyers and homeowners

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Realtors, buyers, sellers, and homeowners, in general, are understandably curious about the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the local real estate market. Local industry expert Beth Medved Waller (a top-producing associate broker in Warren County) interviewed countless agents about the state of their business and hopes to shed a light on the pulse of the local real estate market from multiple agents and perspectives. “It’s my obligation as well as my honor to inform my community about the state of the real estate industry in light of the current state of our world,” says Waller who’s been a top producing Realtor since 2005.

Watch this video for her general commentary about the local real estate climate amid threats of the virus spreading through the Shenandoah Valley:

Stay tuned for Beth’s video series (launching through Royal Examiner next week) offering tips for people to enhance their “real estate health” while they are stuck indoors to protect their own health. In the seven-part series, she’ll be advising homeowners, buyers (both active home seekers and those thinking of buying soon), sellers (those with active real estate listings and with properties preparing to hit the market this spring) and Realtors (agents already in business as well as people who are considering becoming a licensed practitioner). She’ll share suggestions about what each party can do to make their time at home productive from a real estate perspective. A four-part article is also being published with her timely tips by “Real Estate Agent Magazine.”

A Bright MLS analysis by Waller on 3/25/2020 indicated that Warren County inventory levels are approximately 100 units below 2019 stats with 178 active listings, 6 coming soon, 14 temporarily off the market and 8 withdrawn within the last two weeks. Since Friday the 13th (when COVID precautions tightened), 28 listings went under contract/pending for a total of 110 in the category. Many recent listings posting have been new constructions and vacant homes obviously have extra appeal in today’s market.

”My most active properties are my vacant listings, but I did have a showing this weekend on one of my occupied homes and am expecting an offer. The agent and buyers wore gloves and my seller felt comfortable, although the same seller declined an earlier showing this week when the agent informed me that her buyers had just returned from overseas (and were within the recommended 14-day quarantine).” Beth added, “Showings on my listings have drastically slowed since Friday the 13th, but I’m encouraged by the buyer and agent calls I’ve received since Thursday. I listed a vacant home on Friday and have had 5 showings already, which is less than normal, but much better than I feared. I’ve only ratified one contract in three weeks, but have renewed hope that as we navigate our new ‘normal’ buyer activity will increase. I expect to start seeing virtual showings more and more and anticipate having offers from buyers who haven’t physically toured that will include the ‘sights unseen’ and new ‘COVID-19’ addendums.” Closing delays have already occurred for Waller due to lender slow-downs from appraisal backlogs and government tax transcript delays. How the market will be affected as the virus spreads more heavily through the valley remains to be seen, but “business as usual” is a thing of the past for the foreseeable future.

According to Executive Order 53, all professional service business (including real estate) may remain open as long as an emphasis is placed on honoring the under 10 gathering mandates, teleworking as much as feasible, meeting with clients virtually when possible, avoiding hosting in-person open houses, engaging in social distancing, limiting the numbers of houses buyers tour and embracing enhanced sanitizing practices.

Cindy Greenya, President of the Blue Ridge Association of Realtors, offered a positive outlook for the industry:

“All of us are walking into an unknown time. Realtors and the Association are trying to figure out how to adapt and change. We are still very low on inventory, houses are still selling and our affiliates and members are working on adjusting the way they do business as well. People still need to buy and sell houses, people are still moving. Now is just a time for us to adjust and change, and at some point in the future life will go back to normal, we just don’t know when that will be.” She added that she’s still seeing showings, especially on vacant property, but she has heard from colleagues that slowdowns are happening and deals are falling through. She’s been blessed to date with showing activity but is anxious to see what happens when her many upcoming listings hit the market. So far, she’s encouraging her sellers to not delay and to get on the market as planned since buyers are seeking additional homes inventory and interest rates are at an all-time low. She also emphasizes the importance for real estate professionals to keep in close communication with their clients and to invest time to keep abreast of the FAQs and COVID-19 releases being published by Virginia REALTORS at www.virginiarealtors.org/coronavirus.

Sharon Cales of Remax in Front Royal (a top producing Realtor for three decades and partner with Ken and Donna Evans of frontroyalagents.com) has the following commentary to share with the community:

My biggest concerns are for the welfare of our clients and their families. While our job is to sell real estate we are still obligated by our code of ethics to keep “the best interest of the client” at the forefront. Knowing that there may be a silent killer on the doorstep makes it more difficult than ever before. As an industry, we are being told to disinfect the surfaces, stop hand to face contact and keep washing our hands. My concern is that this is not enough. Some still appear to think this is a hoax or overkill, REALTORs included. Those of us who have friends still recovering know better. Showing vacant properties is a much easier process. While I still have concerns, I can indeed disinfect and do what is suggested by the CDC. However, the necessary items they suggest using are in VERY short supply and in most cases impossible to get. Occupied properties are where my largest concerns lie. There is no way for us to know what the homeowners are doing to protect their environment or what the buyers or sellers may have been exposed to. This is an environment that is an accident looking for a place to happen. We have the ability to either take the virus into an otherwise safe environment or bring it out with us into the world. Not a safe situation for anyone.

While the government has named us essential, it is my belief that the guidelines should be refined. We still need to process existing cases and get buyers and sellers to the closing table while taking the necessary precautions set forth by the CDC. However, it is my opinion that showings should be limited to vacant homes. In the event showings on occupied properties is essential, the buyers and sellers both should agree to sign off on an authorization form stating both parties understand the possible ramifications. I’m sure some brokers might be OK with that. However, this does still not address the possible infection for the REALTOR. Some Brokers and companies have already made statements concerning their policies. Most have not and it’s business almost as usual. Since we are an industry based on commission income and the future of the market is uncertain, many REALTORS are going to be willing to take the risks I’m afraid.

Sharon Cales on Current Buyer/Seller Traffic:

My showings are way down also. I’d say it’s a reduction of 85% or so. I have had a few calls but several canceled after scheduling and hearing the daily news updates. I do have a couple touring this weekend. However, I am only showing vacant properties. The phones are VERY quiet and although I am continuing to touch base with buyers and sellers, the return calls are not coming in. People seem to be very concerned. Last week, nobody knew anybody affected, but now everybody seems to know somebody being tested or positive for the virus. Listings are almost down to nothing also. Sellers don’t seem to know which way to go. I have ratified 3 contracts, but all have been on vacant properties.

Broker/Owner of Main Street Front Royal’s Exit Premier Realty, Jim Clark (theclarkteamrealty.com), who has been thriving as one of the top producers in Warren County in recent years offers encouragement:

The real estate industry is the most resilient industry in the world. We work in an ever-changing landscape in an ever-changing world, and it changes very quickly sometimes. From economic impacts, legislative requirements, dealing with influxes of foreclosures and short sales, etc, etc. We real estate professional weather the storm, time after time after time. Coronavirus is another storm. It’s a big scary storm. But we are adapting. From virtual showings, video conferencing with clients, and we’re even working on e-closing so clients don’t have to sign their settlement docs in person. We will get through this, just like we have every other time… every other storm. We’ll be stronger and better for it. Because we are all in this together. May God bless and protect us all, and God bless America.

Jim Clark on Current Buyer/Seller Traffic:

I’d say we are down 80% from 2 weeks ago in showings for buyers and of listings, showings on my listings have totally died as well. A few here and there. But it’s really come to a total stop. It’s sad. So many people want to buy and want to sell but they can’t.

A March 23rd Virginia REALTORS Press Release States: Going into March 2020, consumer confidence remained high; however, it is likely these consumer confidence measures will fall this spring. Says Virginia REALTORS® Chief Economist Lisa Sturtevant, Ph.D., “Heading into the spring, local housing markets across Virginia were strong, and February was a good month for the market. While the full impact of COVID-19 is not yet certain, strong economic fundamentals in the Commonwealth can help support a quick recovery. We’ll know much more when March housing market data are available in mid-April.”

Contact a Realtor for updates concerning the local market or reach out to Beth Medved Waller at beth@whatmattersw2.com or 540-671-6145. Check out her column on Royal Examiner for future updates and videos pertaining to the market.

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For Baby Boomers, it is time to make a profit, save headaches

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Baby Boomers (aged 54 to 74) are holding on to their beloved homes, but selling and downsizing now could not only save a lot of headaches, it could also make a tidy profit.

Interest rates are low with the national average rate hovering around 3.6% to 3.9%. Buyers are plentiful. In most areas, there are more buyers than houses for sale. That means a great house for sale could snag a great price.

One option for downsizing is condo living, which can bring a host of benefits to retired Boomers.

Condo retirement communities offer a community where people interact and make new friends.

Some have parties and even social events for people from the same area. And, you can admire the landscaping without having to mow and trim.

A condo in the city brings the excitement of shopping and entertainment within walking distance. Or, an Uber is just a click away. No more commutes.

Selling that big home and buying a smaller home can add to your nest egg and, if you want, bring you closer to the kids. It’s also a good way to bring the pets along. Along the way, downsizers save big on smaller utility and maintenance bills.

One other consideration: It is always easier to finance a home before retirement. If you have the will and the way, make your move while the market is perfect.

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Warren County Market Report – February 2020

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New this month we are adding some industry tips from the experts! Enjoy real estate market update from Jen Avery, lender tips from Jim Gordon, closing & title tips from Jennifer Gordon, and insurance tips from Ellen Aders!

Market Update

February was yet again a very strong month. Closed sales up 100%, sellers are closing their sales at higher dollar values than last year, and the closings are happening faster than last February as well! Weather and interest rates have definitely been positive influences.

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

In general summary:

  1. New Listings are DOWN -3.6%.
  2. New Pending UP 39.1%.
  3. Closed sales are UP 100%.
  4. Average Median Sold $265,000. 26.1% increase over last year.
  5. Average Days on Market 57 compared to 85 last year.

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

Resource: 2020 Market Stats by ShowingTime
MRIS: Statistics calculated March 2020

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


Lender Tip

DOs & DON’Ts For Borrowers During Loan Processing
You want your loan approved. So do we. Here is a list of tips to improve your chances. While it’s usually best to avoid the actions below, we understand everyone’s circumstances are different. Please contact your loan officer with any questions about what is best for you.

Generally, DON’T:

  • Quit or Change Your Job
  • Allow Inquiries on Your Credit Report
  • Taking on Additional Debt
  • Co-Signing on Loans
  • Changing Bank Accounts or Transferring Money

Make Sure you DO:

  • Keep Paystubs
  • Pay on Time
  • Contact Your Loan Officer with Questions

Jim Gordon, Loan Officer
NMLS ID# 1728615

Alcova
Phone: 540.542.6133  | Cell: 540.729.3645
jgordon@alcova.comalcova.com/jgordon


Closing & Title Tip

Even if a survey isn’t required for closing, it’s always a good idea as a new home buyer to get their own survey. It will show you your land’s corners & boundary lines in case you want to do improvements like a deck or add a pool for fun or put up a fence for the kids or dogs to enjoy their new home and yard.

Jennifer Compton
Blue Ink Original

Phone: 540.635.9845 |  www.blueinkoriginal.com
425 North Royal Avenue
Front Royal, VA 22630


Insurance Tip

Spring is here and for those of us who live in the Shenandoah Valley, we love the budding trees! But, trees cause some of the biggest frustrations when it comes to insurance and claims. That’s because if your NEIGHBOR’S tree falls on YOUR property, causing damage to YOUR house or YOUR fence, the damage is covered by YOUR homeowners insurance, not your neighbor’s. That’s right! Your deductible applies and the claim is filed under your policy. So, be a Good Neighbor and maintain your trees!

Ellen Aders, CLU, LUTCF, LTCP
State Farm AGENT

Phone: 540.635.3336 |  ellen.aders.r5ef@statefarm.com
23 Church Street
Front Royal, Virginia 22630

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Town Talk: Meet Chad Pangle, Whitetail Properties

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Chad Pangle was born and raised in northwest Virginia in the small town of Strasburg. Hard work, hunting, and outdoor life have always been a way of life for him.  He grew up fishing the Shenandoah River and hunting along the Blue Ridge Mountains. As a boy, he spent summers on his grand-parents small farm. He has lived and worked in this area for over 35 years.

For the past 12 years, Chad owned and operated a concrete construction business as well as a real estate investment company. He is passionate about my relationship with God, his family, the real estate business, and hunting trophy deer. He is blessed to be supported by his fiancé, Jaclynn and fifteen-year-old son, Cayden. Chad believes God clearly led him to this opportunity with Whitetail Properties and he is eager to help people find their dream property.

Watch this Royal Examiner video and get to know Chad Pangle.

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How to spot a walkable neighborhood

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Walkable neighborhoods are increasingly popular, especially as more millennials enter the housing market. These communities can be safely and conveniently navigated by foot and are often located close to transit and bike paths. Here’s how to spot one.

Walkability checklist
When determining if a neighborhood is walkable, first and foremost, be on the lookout for the following:

* Walking room. Look for wide and well-maintained sidewalks. These typically indicate that people in the area frequently walk.

* Ease of crossing. Confirm that crossing the streets is safe for pedestrians. Is it easy to see oncoming cars? Are there traffic lights or signage?

* Local driving habits. Evaluate the flow of traffic in the area and how drivers respond to surrounding foot traffic.

* Clear safety rules. Confirm that the area is safe for you and your children. School crossings with plenty of signage are a good indicator.

* Pleasantness. Do you enjoy walking in the area? Is there sufficient greenery? Is it clean, safe and well lit?

Places to walk to
The second component of a walkable neighborhood is that it has places to walk to. At a minimum, there should be access to basic necessities like grocery stores and pharmacies. The presence of retail stores, restaurants and other services is also key, as it indicates that there’s an active community and strongly suggests that the area is pedestrian friendly.

Finally, proximity to public transit means you’re likely to get to work easily and may be able to forgo using your car entirely.

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Upcoming Events

Mar
31
Tue
4:30 pm Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Mar 31 @ 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm
Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Children will explore popular books and book series through S.T.E.M. activities, games, food, and more! Tuesday, March 17 –  Children will explore popular books and book series through S.T.E.M. activities, games, food, and more! This[...]
Apr
1
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10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Apr 1 @ 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, March 18 and Thursday, March 19: Our stories, songs, and craft this week will be about friends! Come to story time and see your friends,[...]
Apr
2
Thu
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Apr 2 @ 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, March 18 and Thursday, March 19: Our stories, songs, and craft this week will be about friends! Come to story time and see your friends,[...]
6:00 pm FRCS Spring Musical: Thoroughly ... @ Front Royal Christian School
FRCS Spring Musical: Thoroughly ... @ Front Royal Christian School
Apr 2 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
FRCS Spring Musical: Thoroughly Modern Millie @ Front Royal Christian School
3 exciting shows: APRIL 2 – 6pm, April 3 – 7pm, April 4 – 6pm. Bring the family! Filled with fun flappers and a villainess that audiences will love to hate, Thoroughly Modern Millie JR.[...]
Apr
3
Fri
6:00 pm Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Apr 3 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
6:00 pm FRCS Spring Musical: Thoroughly ... @ Front Royal Christian School
FRCS Spring Musical: Thoroughly ... @ Front Royal Christian School
Apr 3 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
FRCS Spring Musical: Thoroughly Modern Millie @ Front Royal Christian School
3 exciting shows: APRIL 2 – 6pm, April 3 – 7pm, April 4 – 6pm. Bring the family! Filled with fun flappers and a villainess that audiences will love to hate, Thoroughly Modern Millie JR.[...]
Apr
4
Sat
8:00 am Troop 53 Annual Mulch Sale @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire and Rescue
Troop 53 Annual Mulch Sale @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire and Rescue
Apr 4 @ 8:00 am – 1:00 pm
Troop 53 Annual Mulch Sale @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire and Rescue
Spring is approaching, and Troop 53 is preparing for their annual mulch fundraiser. The funds raised will help support troop activities and send our Boy Scouts to summer camp, where they learn valuable skills in[...]
6:00 pm FRCS Spring Musical: Thoroughly ... @ Front Royal Christian School
FRCS Spring Musical: Thoroughly ... @ Front Royal Christian School
Apr 4 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
FRCS Spring Musical: Thoroughly Modern Millie @ Front Royal Christian School
3 exciting shows: APRIL 2 – 6pm, April 3 – 7pm, April 4 – 6pm. Bring the family! Filled with fun flappers and a villainess that audiences will love to hate, Thoroughly Modern Millie JR.[...]
Apr
7
Tue
10:00 am Focus on Health Employment & Edu... @ LFCC | Science and Health Professions Building
Focus on Health Employment & Edu... @ LFCC | Science and Health Professions Building
Apr 7 @ 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Focus on Health Employment & Education Fair @ LFCC | Science and Health Professions Building
Two sessions: 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. Different vendors at each session. Held in the Science and Health Professions Building at LFCC’s Middletown Campus. Contact Taylor Luther for more[...]
4:30 pm Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Apr 7 @ 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm
Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Children will explore popular books and book series through S.T.E.M. activities, games, food, and more! Tuesday, March 17 –  Children will explore popular books and book series through S.T.E.M. activities, games, food, and more! This[...]