Real Estate, Tips and Tricks

Moving Tips

movingMost people have moved at least once in their lives, but for some, it has been quite a long time OR the thought of moving is so overwhelming (either because of a bad experience or because moving all of your life’s treasures is just difficult by nature) that they just don’t even know where to start.  Here are a few tips for a successful and less stressful move:

*A quick note: Some Moving expenses are tax-deductible, so save receipts and check with a tax professional for details

1) This probably goes without saying, but plan ahead.  Do not make the physical move and packing the last item on your list.  You will need time to get on a mover’s schedule and determine your timeline for packers, etc.

2) Considerations for Moving within the state vs. out-of-state.  Moving out-of-state is a little more complex and requires more coordination.  Moving charges will be calculated differently depending on whether or not you are staying within the stave or leaving the state.  Within the state, charges are usually based on an hourly rate plus any additional services.  Between states, will often be calculated by weight and other factors, so it is helpful to get a specialized moving consultant/coordinator to lay out your options and help you determine what the best course of action is.  Many interstate moving companies include this service as part of their initial quote.

3) Make sure the company you are interviewing sends someone to the house to give a quote and do not accept a quote over the phone.  The last thing you want is to expect one price and get another on the day of the move.  Some companies will guarantee their price quote…this gives you assurance that you will actually pay what you have been quoted, regardless of unexpected factors such as whether the move took longer than expected because of traffic or bad weather.

4) Make sure that the company insures the goods for damage or loss and find out how much coverage you receive per item.  In many cases, you pay an additional fee for full coverage but basic coverage is only a percentage on the dollar or weight.

5) Get the kiddos on board: we all know that moves are difficult, but kids (who love routine, can get especially upset by a move if care isn’t taken to prepare them).  Help them feel more comfortable by keeping open dialogue about the move, introducing them to the neighborhood and maintaining as much of a normal routine as you can.   Try to get them involved in the packing by allowing them to pack their toys and favorite belongings in their own special box.

6) Make a plan for the pets…either to stay with a friend or family member during the move to reduce anxiety and/or keep them out-of-the-way.  If flying or driving a long distance, make a plan for how you will keep them comfortable.  If flying, it is a good idea to take them to the vet first to get copies of vaccinations and other health records, and determine if some sort of sedation is needed to get them through the trip.   Also check with your airline for their guidelines on moving animals.  For long car rides, get them accustomed to riding in the car ahead of time if they are not already.

7) Finally, the moving consultant you meet with can give you all sorts of options and tips on how to make the move successful, such as how to properly pack certain fragile or special items and what to expect from the moving team, so listen to their recommendations.  If they have none, you may want to consider interviewing someone else :).

*And a little reminder…don’t forget to coordinate utilities in the new house and the home you are leaving ahead of time.  It is important to transfer utilities out of your name as of the closing date or to be safe, the day after and have the utilities put into your name as of the closing date in your new home.  This can sometimes take coordination between buyer and seller so that there is a seamless transition and there is no interruption in service or undue paying of reconnection fees.

Happy moving all!

area info, Dining, DIY, Financing-home loans, home for rent, Homes for Sale, New Listing, open houses, Real Estate, The Market, Things to Do

Washington DC Open House-Chevy Chase-Sunday, October 30, 2011, 1-4pm


4 br, 2.5 bath Cape Cod in sought after Chevy Chase.  This home sits on a quiet residential street, boasts an open floor plan, spacious living room with fireplace, airy sunroom, renovated kitchen with breakfast bar, finished lower level perfect for an in-law suite, and private hot tub just outside the back door. Close to Metro, Garage Parking and long driveway!  Metro Bus stops & shops/restaurants of Connecticut. Ave.

Come visit!

Decorating, DIY, House and Home, Real Estate, The Market, Tips and Tricks

Give your home more value to buyers with landscaping

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Weichert Insights:

Landscaping really does make a difference – both positively and negatively. Not only does a well-landscaped home have a higher perceived value than one with a plain lawn, but one with a minimal landscaping effort actually can detract from a home’s value. Luckily, landscaping projects don’t have to cost a lot and should be seriously considered by any homeowners planning to put their home on the market.  Here are a few tips to get you started on developing a landscaping plan:
•    Start by measuring your property and then sketching out a basic layout, including all of the areas where you would like to add landscaping and make improvements. Once that is done, you can add costs to each and see how much can reasonably be accomplished given your budget.
•    Be practical when deciding on your plan. While they might not sound glamorous, sensible improvements such as irrigation, fencing, lighting, equipment storage, privacy, and security can protect your property value far more than a formal garden with walls and water features.
•    Consider enlisting the help of a professional who can help you best allocate your landscaping dollars. Ask your friends and neighbors for recommendations, especially those whose yards you admire.

Homes for Sale, House and Home, open houses, Real Estate, The Market

Alexandria VA Open House in Seminary Valley! Sunday March 20, 1p-4p

Alexandria VA Open House in Seminary Valley! Sunday, March 20, 1p-4p

5337 Thayer Ave, Alexandria, VA 22304

SINGLE FAMILY HOME FOR UNDER $500,000!  Lovely 3BR/2 full bath, brick single-family home with large fenced back yard and lovely brick patio, perfect for grilling. Long driveway for off-street parking.  Convenient 1-level living with all bedrooms on the main level, spacious kitchen with adjoined breakfast room and separate dining room, wood floors, wood burning fireplace.  Updated appliances and bathrooms and more…Come see!

Financing-home loans, Real Estate, The Market, Tips and Tricks

FHA appraisals

Workers using special "roofing shovels&qu...
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FHA appraisals do not differ from conventional appraisals in a large way; however, there are a few differences.

One main difference is that there can be more required repairs.  A big one is the roof.  These are the appraisal guidelines for FHA appraisers:

Roofs and Attics:

The roof must prevent moisture from entering the home and provide reasonable future utility, durability and economy of maintenance. The roof should have a remaining physical life of two years. If the roof has less than two years remaining life, the appraiser must call for re-roofing or repair.FHA will accept a maximum of three layers of existing roofing. If more than two layers exist and repair is necessary, all of the old roofing must be removed as part of the re-roofing.Roofing on slopes of 2.5/12 pitch or less must be installed by a licensed roofer using built-up roofing that meets the Uniform Building Code.

According to

These are the 12 Most Common FHA Repairs

These conditions are not listed to scare you, but to help you understand and erase any worries you may have.The purpose of a repair is to correct deficiencies which may affect the health and safety of the occupants or the continued marketability of the property. If possible, we suggest that you make any repairs to your home prior to the appraisal. This will improve the marketability and help the sale or refinance of your home go smoothly.

1. If the home was built prior to 1978, chipping, peeling paint must be scraped and painted. This includes interior, exterior, garages, sheds, fences, etc.

2. Any useful components (appliances, floor covering, etc.) of the home, especially the roof, should have 2 years of useful life remaining. A roof should have no more than 3 layers of shingles.

3. Broken windows and doors should be replaced.

4. The cause of negative drainage must be cured (i.e., improve drainage away from house, gutters, french drains, etc.).

5. Health and safety hazards (i.e. electric garage door opener won’t reverse with resistance; burglar bars). GFIC outlets are not an FHA requirement.

6. Abandoned inoperable wells must be capped and sealed by a licensed well sealing contractor.

7. Safety handrails should be installed in open stairwells of three or more stairs.

8. Infestation of any kind should be exterminated (i.e., insects, mice, bats, etc.).

9. Damaged or inoperable plumbing, electric and heating systems should be repaired. The appraiser will check these areas.

10. Structural or foundation problems must be repaired.

11. Flammable storage tanks must be removed and filler cap sealed from the inside (i.e., buried oil tank).

12. If there is a crawl space, it will be the homeowner’s responsibility to make this area accessible so that it can be thoroughly inspected

All of the information in this post was taken word for word from:

This is meant to be helpful in the determining the right home for you if obtaining an FHA loan or accepting the right offer if you are a seller considering an offer with an FHA loan. Always discuss this information with your Realtor and lender to get more specifics.

**Regardless of the type of loan being used to purchase your home, it is always a good idea to fix anything broken and do all of the maintenance items you were putting off.  This will not only make any appraisal process go more smoothly, but will make a better showing to potential buyers as well.

Decorating, House and Home, Real Estate, Tips and Tricks

To decorate or not decorate…while your home is on the market

A Danish Christmas tree illuminated with burni...
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Many families start decorating for the holidays during the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend. Sellers with their home on the market during the holiday season shouldn’t feel the need to give up their holiday traditions. In fact, sellers should not forgo decorating their home for the holiday. People expect at least some decorations, plus they add warmth to a home.

The key is to decorate in a way that won’t turn off buyers, and the following tips will help sellers strike a good balance:

  • Too many decorations mask a home’s selling points: architectural details, condition, location and price.
  • Avoid too many personalized decorations. The goal is for buyers to visualize themselves celebrating the holidays in the home.
  • Choose an elegant, neutral palette of fresh greens, silvers, golds and classic whites. Avoid too much red and green.
  • Take down decorations within two weeks after the holidays.
    Happy Holidays!


Financing-home loans, House and Home, Real Estate

Lower price vs. lower interest rates

Interest Rates are at historic lows hovering around 4.25%. If you are still on the fence, it may be time to seriously consider the advantages of locking in this low of a rate for 30 years.  Additionally, the increase in your buying power is significant. If the rates increase just .5-1%, you will actually end up paying more per month than if you had bought at a slightly higher priced home with a lower rate.  This may also mean that you can afford more home than you would have been able to if the rates had been higher.  This is in the favor of sellers at the same time because they now have an increased buyer pool.

Here is an example:

Homes Decline 5% Homes Increase 5%
1% Rate Increase 1% Rate Increase
HOME PRICE $500,000.00 $475,000.00 $525,000.00
LOAN AMOUNT $482,500.00 $458,375.00 $506,625.00
INTEREST RATE 4.500% 5.500% 5.500%
MONTHLY PAYMENT $2,444.76 $2,602.60 $2,876.56
Savings – Monthly $157.85 $431.80
Savings – Life of Loan $56,826.00 $155,448.00
Decorating, DIY, House and Home, Tips and Tricks

Furnishing your home and wondering what to spend your money on?

Hi all…

Have you just purchased a new home and are so house-poor that you are wondering how you are going to fill it?  If this sounds like you and you want a lot of look for a little money, here are some tips that may help:

1) Choose a few items to splurge on…these items should be items that will last through taste changes and moves…and go the affordable/cheaper route on the rest.  Good examples of splurge items are: Area Rugs (choose high quality wool/silk blends or just wool and they will last a lifetime…you can will them to your children…), Original Art (oil paintings, etc)

2) Spend less money on furniture like chairs and sofas…chances are, you can find a great look for a good price and these types of furniture need replacing every 5 or so years anyway, so don’t put a ton of money in to them….you do NOT need a $5,000 sofa…nor do you need a $2,000 chair.   Also, choose neutral fabrics on the larger pieces and dress them up with more interesting fabrics on your pillows and throws.

3) Buy pre-packaged window panels instead of doing custom window treatments…they are a much better price, they are a lot of look and you wont feel sick if you have to leave them when you sell your house because you wont have tens of thousands of dollars in to them.  Also, if you get sick of the panels you have it is super easy to take them down and replace them with new ones.

4) Spend a little extra on pillows and throws…since this is what will be dressing up your more neutral furniture and will be what adds more style to your room, splurge a little…the most you will spend on any one pillow is (maybe) $250…you will be happy with the way they make a room look way more expensive than it really is.

And don’t forget…you do not have to do everything at once…you will be happier with your choices if you do it over time and really think about the look you are going for.  You will build back up your cashflow and you do not want to regret buying things that you really don’t like just because the were cheap and you wanted to fill the space.

I would love to hear more tips…so please feel free to add them.

Real Estate, Tips and Tricks

What not to do…when you put your home on the market

Hi All!

One tip when you put your home on the market is to take out any overpowering smells like: potpourri, candles and sprays.

Why you ask?  Because people think that you are trying to hide something problematic, like: mildew/mold, smoking, or just an overall bad smell.

Buyers want your home to smell fresh and clean, not like perfume.  A strong perfume smell raises red flags to potential buyers and will leave them with a bad impression and a headache!

Let your house smell natural…not like dirty laundry or anything, but just keep it clean and fresh.  You may even want to leave the doors and windows open for a bit before an open house to freshen stagnant air (unless you live near something stinky…then keep them shut!).

If you are unsure about how your home smells, bake some cookies or a pie before an open house…people love the smell of sweets and that will leave them with a positive impression of your home.

Obviously you can’t bake cookies before every showing, but just be sure to tone down any offensive smells as much as possible while your home is on the market.  The last thing you want is to lose a potential buyer due to the smell of your favorite incense!

If you are considering putting your home on the market, great news…the market is still good and buyers are out.  We still have a low supply of inventory and even though the market has cooled a bit since April (when we had record sales), it is still a good time to list….just make sure to keep the smell and colors of the home neutral keep it free of clutter and of course as always PRICE IT RIGHT and your house will sell.

It is true that he who wins the price war and the beauty contest sells his home!

Hope this helps and Happy Sunday!