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Want to list your home? Read this first! Top 6 renos with the biggest ROI!

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1. Update bathrooms
Kitchens and bathrooms sell houses, so it pays to make sure your bathroom is tastefully designed and fully up to date before putting your home up for sale. If you’re renovating on a budget, focus on making small changes like repainting the walls, retiling the tub or shower and installing new plumbing and lighting fixtures, especially if the existing ones are dated and inefficient. If you have more time and resources, consider adding an extra bathroom. Homebuyers are increasingly looking for homes that have master, full and half baths. Investing in another bathroom before you sell will increase your home’s market value.

2. Upgrade for energy efficiency
Improving the energy efficiency of your house is likely to pay off when you sell it. Studies show that contemporary homebuyers prefer energy-efficient homes due to their environmental concerns as well as the possibility of gaining long-term savings. Think about tackling tasks like amplifying or reinstalling the attic and basement insulation, upgrading the HVAC system, replacing the water heaters and installing new windows to lower the costs of heating and cooling your home. Adding solar panels can also add substantial value. Although they’re quite costly to install, more and more buyers are willing to pay more for “green” homes with solar energy systems.

3. Enhance curb appeal
When thinking about what renovations will pay off when you sell, don’t underestimate the power of the first impression: your home’s curb appeal plays a key role in determining its perceived value on the housing market. Consider updating the siding, repainting the exterior and improving the landscaping on your front lawn. Even small things like repainting the front door and adding new shrubs and potted plants can go a long way toward enhancing your home’s look and enticing potential buyers. And don’t forget about the garage — recent reports show that replacing your garage door is one of the most cost-effective home improvement projects.

4. Install hardwood floors
Real estate agents report that homes with hardwood floors tend to sell faster and for more money. Hardwood floors add timeless charm to any home and consistently show up on the wish lists of potential buyers. While they may cost more than carpet or laminate flooring, they last longer and are more likely to pay off in the long run. If your home has wall-to-wall carpeting, consider having the carpets taken out and the original hardwood floors restored before putting your home on the market. Keep in mind that engineered wood flooring can be a good alternative if you’re renovating on a budget.


5. Renovate the kitchen
According to many real estate experts, the kitchen is the room that matters the most when selling your home. When it comes to redesigning your kitchen, however, you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a great return on your investment. Even minor upgrades can increase your home’s overall value and improve the look and feel of your kitchen. Repainting walls, refurbishing cabinets, updating hardware, installing modern appliances and replacing countertops are all cost-effective changes you can make that will likely lure in potential buyers and pay off big during the sale of your house.

6. Paint the walls
Repainting the interior is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to transform your home, and it works wonders when it’s time to sell. The right shade of paint can bring together any room and make it appear brighter and more spacious. Real estate agents recommend sticking to light and neutral hues such as tan, beige and white. These shades can make spaces feel more open and aren’t likely to clash with buyers’ furniture and accessories. Save bolder tints to use as accents when painting fixtures like kitchen cabinets or to emphasize unique design features like a breakfast nook or built-in shelves.

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Real Estate

How to sell your property with peace of mind

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Over the past two years, demand for real estate has been rising. Are you considering moving in with your partner or retiring to a seniors’ residence? Now’s the perfect time to put your house up for sale. Here are a few things to consider to ensure the sale goes as smoothly as possible.

Surround yourself with the right people
First and foremost, do business with an experienced real estate broker who knows the market inside and out. Real estate professionals take a lot off your plate and handle a variety of tasks, including:

• Setting a fair and impartial selling price
• Verifying information about the property
• Taking photos and videos
• Staging the home
• Promoting your ad on different websites and online platforms
• Managing showings
• Preparing contracts and various documents
• Evaluating purchase offers

Real estate brokers are subject to an ethical code that governs their handling of your property. Therefore, you can rest assured they’re trustworthy and have your best interests in mind. Moreover, a real estate broker will help you avoid making costly rookie mistakes.


Furthermore, find your future home before putting your residence up for sale. It’s a good idea to work with a housing consultant or the same real estate broker handling the sale of your home to make your life easier.

Similarly, relying on the expertise of a mortgage broker will save you a lot of work, especially when it comes to transferring your mortgage.

In short, surrounding yourself with the right people is the key to a stress-free experience. Contact a broker near you to get started.

Network
Real estate brokers have access to a vast network of other brokers and an impressive pool of potential buyers. Therefore, they’re best positioned to help you sell your home fast.

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Real Estate

Mortgage vocabulary explained

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Getting a mortgage is an essential part of buying a property. Here’s a short glossary to familiarize you with the most important terms.

• Mortgage loan. A type of loan typically obtained from a financial institution to purchase a home or other real estate property. The property itself serves as collateral to secure the loan. Moreover, the lender reserves the right to seize the property if the payments aren’t made.

• Down payment. An upfront payment you make to purchase a property. The amount paid is usually a percentage of the purchase price and can range from as little as three percent to as much as 20 percent.

• Mortgage loan insurance. You must buy mortgage loan insurance if your down payment is less than 20 percent of the property’s price. The insurance can be paid upfront or added to your monthly payments.


• Interest rate. A fixed or variable percentage is added to the amount of your mortgage loan. In short, it’s the price you pay to the financial institution for taking on your loan.

• Amortization period. This refers to the length of time it takes to pay off your mortgage.

• Mortgage term. The length of your current mortgage contract is referred to as the term. After the mortgage term expires, the remaining balance must be renewed, refinanced, or paid in full.

• Pre-approval. When you get pre-approved for a mortgage, the lender estimates how much you might be able to borrow based on your income, credit history, assets, debt, and down payment.

Contact a mortgage broker in your region for more information about mortgages or support for buying a home.

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Question: In 2020 I lost my job and went into bankruptcy. But now I am back on track and I would like to buy a house. Is it even possible to get a mortgage?

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Yes, it is possible to get a mortgage after bankruptcy.

For a conventional mortgage, a lot depends on the type of bankruptcy. For Chapter 7 bankruptcy (you’ve sold your assets to discharge your debts as much as possible), typically, you have to wait four years, but it is possible that your situation could qualify as extenuating circumstances.

For Chapter 13 bankruptcy (you’ve completed your debt repayment plan), you generally need to wait two years from the discharge date. This period is shorter for FHA, VA, and USDA loans.

You’ll also need a 620 minimum credit score for a conventional loan, so keep your balances low on credit accounts and always pay on time. For FHA loans, a credit score of 580 is permissible, and your score could be as low as 500 if you have a 10 percent down payment.


You’ll need a cash down payment. With FHA loans, this could be as little as 3.5 percent.

Another type of loan can benefit people coming out of bankruptcy if they have cash on hand. The non-qualifying mortgage loan (non-QM) is suitable for people in special circumstances, typically self-employed people who don’t have pay stubs but do have a lot of cash and a high credit score. It can also benefit those with cash and a high credit score but a recent bankruptcy.

In 2022, here were the characteristics of the typical non-QM loan:
* Average credit score was 771
* Average down payment 24 percent
* Average Debt-to-Income (DTI) ratio was 37 percent

You generally need a DTI of 43 percent or less to finance a house. A good DTI is about 35 percent or less. You calculate DTI very simply: Monthly debt payments divided by gross income. Add up all the payments you make in a month, including student loans and child support, but don’t include utilities, groceries, and gas.

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House selling: should you ever disclose the details of a competing offer?

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If you’re selling your home and have several interested buyers, find out if disclosing the amount of a competing offer could help you get the best price.

Who can disclose this information?
Depending on your state, your real estate broker may not be allowed to tell other buyers the amount of a competing offer. However, they can disclose how many other offers are on the table.

If you’re selling your home privately, the decision is yours. You can either tell potential buyers what others have offered or keep this information to yourself.

Why should you share this information?
If you choose to share these figures, you may want to do so after shortlisting the best bids to see if any buyers wish to increase their offer. You could also remain open throughout the entire process and provide this information upfront to anyone interested in putting in an offer.

Front Royal Virginia

The first option may allow you to sell your home well above the asking price. The second option may reduce the number of potential buyers but increase the competitiveness of their offers.

Whatever you decide, consulting a professional will help make your sale successful.

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Good news for buyers as home prices cool

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The red-hot real estate market is slowly cooling as sellers in big markets lower their prices, according to brokerage firms.

Notable in the market are urban areas in California and Utah, where prices were often set unrealistically high, Redfin reports. The highest number of price drops on homes occurred in July in Boise, Idaho, where sellers lowered prices on 70 percent of homes for sale. In Salt Lake City, 56 percent of sellers lowered their prices in July. In fact, more than 15 percent of home sellers dropped their prices in July throughout all metro areas.

This trend may well affect areas throughout the country.

Rising interest rates have cooled expectations across the board. Rates that remained under 4 percent since 2019 are rising to about 5 to 6 percent. As buyers become a little less available, this should mean that the supply of houses on the market will rise.


Sellers should expect to see their homes on the market for 30 days or more, and they should price their homes in line with the market from the start. Some sellers showed unrealistic expectations about what prices their homes would fetch, Redfin says. Part of that problem was the seller grapevine, with people listening to the prices neighbors were getting on their homes and trying to win big themselves.

For now, even with higher interest rates, buyers should begin to have more choices and better prices.

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Should you buy an existing home or build new?

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Do you want to become a homeowner but can’t decide if buying an existing home or building a new one is the best option? Here are a few things to consider.

New home
The cost of building a home can quickly escalate when choosing the finishings. Keep in mind that you must also pay taxes on the value of the purchase. However, you can be sure you’ll move into a home that suits your tastes.

Additionally, building a new home requires you to be involved in the entire process, mainly because you must make various decisions and supervise the construction. Delays can also sometimes push back your move-in date.

Finally, although you may have more land options in a developing area, remember to ask about future road and service developments to avoid unpleasant surprises in a few years.


Existing home
When you buy an existing home, you generally get what you see. However, you may have to factor in renovation costs for things like new windows and updated plumbing. You may also have to set aside your style preferences and visualize the property’s potential during viewings.

The amount of time you invest in buying an existing home depends on how many properties you visit and the extent of the renovations you want to make.

In addition, buying an existing property gives you the advantage of starting out in an already well-developed neighborhood. However, this may limit your options.

Once you’ve decided, contact a real estate broker or developer to make your project a reality.

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Aire Serv Heating and Air Conditioning

Apple Dumpling Learning Center

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Blue Ridge Arts Council

Blue Ridge Education

BNI Shenandoah Valley

C&C's Ice Cream Shop

Christine Binnix - McEnearney Associates

Code Ninjas Front Royal

Cool Techs Heating and Air

Down Home Comfort Bakery

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Explore Art & Clay

Family Preservation Services

First Baptist Church

Front Royal Women's Resource Center

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G&M Auto Sales Inc

Garcia & Gavino Family Bakery

Gourmet Delights Gifts & Framing

Green to Ground Electrical

Groups Recover Together

House of Hope

I Want Candy

I'm Just Me Movement

Jen Avery, REALTOR & Jenspiration, LLC

Key Move Properties, LLC

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Legal Services Plans of Northern Shenendoah

Main Street Travel

Makeover Marketing Systems

Marlow Automotive Group

Mary Carnahan Graphic Design

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National Media Services

No Doubt Accounting

Northwestern Community Services Board

Ole Timers Antiques

Penny Lane Hair Co.

Philip Vaught Real Estate Management

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Royal Blends Nutrition

Royal Cinemas

Royal Examiner

Royal Family Bowling Center

Royal Oak Bookshop

Royal Oak Computers

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Ruby Yoga

Salvation Army

Samuels Public Library

SaVida Health

Skyline Insurance

St. Luke Community Clinic

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The Institute for Association & Nonprofit Research

The Studio-A Place for Learning

The Valley Today - The River 95.3

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Valley Chorale

Vetbuilder.com

Warren Charge (Bennett's Chapel, Limeton, Asbury)

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Warren County Democratic Committee

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WCPS Work-Based Learning

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Woodward House on Manor Grade

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Upcoming Events

Sep
30
Fri
4:30 pm Fall Bazaar @ FRUMC Fellowship Hall
Fall Bazaar @ FRUMC Fellowship Hall
Sep 30 @ 4:30 pm – 6:30 pm
Fall Bazaar @ FRUMC Fellowship Hall
Fall Bazaar will be held Friday, Sept 30th, from 4:30 – 6:30 pm, and Saturday, October 1st, from 8 am – 2 pm, in the Front Royal United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall. Baked goods, jewelry[...]
6:00 pm Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Sep 30 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
 
Oct
1
Sat
8:00 am Fall Bazaar @ FRUMC Fellowship Hall
Fall Bazaar @ FRUMC Fellowship Hall
Oct 1 @ 8:00 am – 2:00 pm
Fall Bazaar @ FRUMC Fellowship Hall
Fall Bazaar will be held Saturday, October 1st, from 8 am – 2 pm, in the Front Royal United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall. Baked goods, jewelry and accessories, Silent Auction, holiday decorations, and apple dumplings[...]
11:00 am Fall Farm Days: The Nature of Sk... @ Sky Meadows State Park
Fall Farm Days: The Nature of Sk... @ Sky Meadows State Park
Oct 1 @ 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
Fall Farm Days: The Nature of Sky Meadows @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area. During Fall Farm Days’ Nature Weekend, get in touch with nature and explore a managed landscape rich in biodiversity. Discover native flora and fauna, learn the craft of beekeeping, the importance of various[...]
11:00 am The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
Oct 1 @ 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area. The forge is fired up and the blacksmiths are hard at work in the Historic Area. Members of the Blacksmith Guild of the Potomac have set up shop and are ready to show[...]
5:00 pm WATTS 3rd Annual Fundraiser @ Bowling Green Country Club North
WATTS 3rd Annual Fundraiser @ Bowling Green Country Club North
Oct 1 @ 5:00 pm – 10:00 pm
WATTS 3rd Annual Fundraiser @ Bowling Green Country Club North
WATTS 3rd Annual Fundraiser – An Evening of Caring & Sharing Come out to support WATTS homeless shelter (Winchester Area Temporary Thermal Shelter) and help us fundraise for our upcoming overnight shelter season! A fun[...]
Oct
2
Sun
11:00 am Fall Farm Days: The Nature of Sk... @ Sky Meadows State Park
Fall Farm Days: The Nature of Sk... @ Sky Meadows State Park
Oct 2 @ 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
Fall Farm Days: The Nature of Sky Meadows @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area. During Fall Farm Days’ Nature Weekend, get in touch with nature and explore a managed landscape rich in biodiversity. Discover native flora and fauna, learn the craft of beekeeping, the importance of various[...]
11:00 am The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
Oct 2 @ 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area. The forge is fired up and the blacksmiths are hard at work in the Historic Area. Members of the Blacksmith Guild of the Potomac have set up shop and are ready to show[...]
Oct
5
Wed
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Oct 5 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]