Blog :: 2017

What Is Actually Covered by Your Condo's Master Policy?

 

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Today I’m speaking with Austin Head, who is the Long & Foster insurance guru. Austin is going to give us some insight into the subject of condo insurance.

With condo insurance, owners are usually only responsible for the interior of the building. This is because the condo association holds a master policy over the exterior. 

But recently, Austin says he’s been seeing many master policies that are covering not only the exterior, but also the interior of the unit. 

This sounds like a good thing at face value, but it is still important to be aware of what is covered. For a better understanding of this, Austin always recommends obtaining a copy of the master policy and taking it to your insurance agent. 

The master policy may state that the interior is only covered up to builder’s grade materials. So, if you lived in a very nice condo and it happened to burn down, it may be rebuilt using builder's grade material. 

"If you lived in a very nice condo that was covered by a master policy and it happened to burn down, it may be rebuilt using builder's grade material."

If you spent a lot of money upgrading your living space with high-quality amenities and something were to happen to require them to be replaced, the replacements would be installed with a much lower grade of material. 

Even if the interior is covered by a master policy, Austin highly advises that you get additional condo insurance to cover any upgrades. 

If you have any other questions or would like more information, feel free to give me a call or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you soon. 
 


 

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Let Total Wine Help You Celebrate the Holidays in Style

 

This time on “Fairfax Fridays,” we decided to stop in at Total Wine and talk with assistant manager Kathleen Scott about what makes their store unique and how they can help you celebrate this holiday season.

According to Kathleen, Total Wine’s best quality is their knowledgeable staff. Not everybody is totally comfortable when it comes to making wine choices, but they’re always able to assist people with their questions. 

Kathleen also says Total Wine has the best selection and best pricing of any store in the area. They offer product knowledge classes throughout the year which you can sign up for, along with weekly wine tastings on Fridays and Saturdays from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. 

If you’re hosting a party this holiday season, Kathleen has a couple useful tips for you. 

"Total Wine has the best selection and best pricing of any store in the area."

First, keep your wine selection simple—try for a crowd-pleasing red and a crowd-pleasing white. A good example for red wines would be a Pinot Noir because it goes well with any type of food. For white wines, you can try a Riesling or a Prosecco. 

Also, allow your wine enough time to breathe. To do this, you can use a regular decanter or a decanter with an aerator attached to it to save time. 

Lastly, as an added bonus, if you walk into the Total Wine located in Greenbriar Shopping Center and say the words “Get Keyed Up,” you’ll earn a free gift. 

We want to thank Kathleen for allowing us to stop in and visit with her. If you have any questions for us, feel free to give us a call or send us an email. We’d love to speak with you. 
 

 

 


 

Who Pays Real Estate Commissions in Virginia?

 

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Want to see our inventory of homes?  View our listings here.

 

The No. 1 question we get from folks who are either new homebuyers or new to buying homes in Virginia is this: “Who pays the commission of the buyer’s and seller’s agents? How does it work?” To show you, I’ll use this example.

I recently met with a client who contacted me through Zillow at a house. When I met him, we started to chat and I found that he was looking at a bunch of different houses with a bunch of different agents. I was curious about this. 

He felt very strongly that he needed to interview multiple agents. I agreed with him, and think it’s a great idea. However, his reasoning was that he was going to be paying them a 3% commission, so he wanted to make sure to hire someone he trusted. 

"It’s extremely important to interview multiple agents."

In Virginia, commissions work a little differently. The sellers are actually the ones who are responsible for the commission for both agent's. However, the amount they spend on the buyer’s agent commission is usually reflected in the sale price.

Whether you’re looking to buy or sell, it is extremely important that you interview multiple agents and find one with the experience, communication skills, and business savvy to help you accomplish your goals.

If you have any questions for us, don’t hesitate to give us a call or send us an email. We look forward to hearing from you.


 


 

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Prepare Your Home for Winter With the Autumn 8

 

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What are the eight things you can do to your home to get it ready for the winter to come? 

The first is to get your furnace inspected. You may have a contract that comes twice a year, so October is always a good time to get it inspected, get the filter cleaned, and make sure you won’t be without heat this winter. 

The second thing you can do is winterize your AC unit. A lot of us don’t do this in our area, and it’s not necessary, but if you live up north and sometimes experience feet upon feet of snow, it might be a good idea to cover your AC unit with a canvas.

Third, draft-proof your home. I did this in my own home two years ago. We looked for any leaks where cold air could seep in from, and we added some weather stripping around our door. We also bought outlet insulators, which helped a lot. 

Next, test your home’s safety devices, especially your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors.

"These eight tasks will have your home ready for cold weather."

Fifth, do a quick roof check. See if you’re missing any shingles or if there is any damage. You never know if the winter is going to be good or bad, so now is a good time to check your roof just in case. 

Sixth, check the exterior of your home for cracks or holes. A rodent can get in through a dime-sized hole. The area where your AC unit attaches to your foundation is a prime entry point for anything small that wants to escape the cold. 

Seventh, clean your gutters. The No. 1 reason people have water in their homes this time of year is fallen leaves clogging up their gutters and causing leaks they wouldn’t normally have. 

Lastly, walk the perimeter of the house and look for dead trees, dead branches, or anything that might be a hazard if there is a big storm.

If you have any more questions about preparing your home for winter, please don’t hesitate to give me a call or send me an email. I’d be glad to help you. 
 


 

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How Can Snap Fitness Help You Reach Your Fitness Goals?

 

 

Recently, I got a chance to visit with Sean Boyd, one of the owners of Snap Fitness, to talk about everything their gym and fitness center has to offer.  

Snap Fitness is located at 13300 Franklin Farm Road in the Franklin Farm shopping center. They’ve been there for seven years, and I was at their grand opening, which makes me one of their first clients. One of the great things about this place is it truly has a community feel to it. Sean, his wife and co-owner Schatem, and all of their trainers have great relationships with all of their clients. 

Here are a few things you might not know about Snap Fitness:

  • They’re open 24 hours a day worldwide, meaning you can enter any establishment at anytime if you have your access key card. They have 2,600 total locations that span eight different countries.
  • They’re all one big family. As I said before, they take pride in having personal relationships with their clients. Most of their members are local, and their training is specialized. They don’t just sign you up and walk away. They also help oversee diet and nutrition plans with their clients. 
  • Some of their best success stories come from their own employees. Their manager, Marie, has lost 100 pounds since joining them.  

For anyone who has a hard time getting to the gym due to their busy schedules, Sean maintains that you have to be committed and set realistic goals. If you set your goals too high and don’t meet them, that will wear on your motivation to keep coming back. 

At Snap Fitness, being fit is about more than just losing pounds; your body mass index and body fat percentage are more valuable indicators of fitness than just lost weight. Their trainers give assessments to their clients based on how they progress in their fitness regimen. If they want to continue their training once they’ve met their goals, they have the option to do so. 

Now that we’re getting closer to the holidays, we’re doing a special joint-promotion with Snap Fitness where if you buy a home through us, you’ll receive a free, month-long membership from them.  

"At Snap Fitness, everyone knows your name."

But that’s not all! If you simply walk through their doors and mention our team name during their staff hours, you’ll receive a free training session and week-long trial. Their staff hours are as follows:

  • Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. 
  • Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

I want to thank Sean for taking the time to visit with me. If you’d like to reach out to him and learn more about Snap Fitness, you can give him a call at (703) 463-9886.

If you have any questions for me, feel free to reach out to me. I’d be glad to help you! 

 


 

3 Home Improvements to Consider When Selling Your Home

 

Thinking of buying a home?  Search the local MLS here.

Thinking of selling your home?  Get a home valuation here.

Want to see our inventory of homes?  View our listings here.

 

If you’re thinking about selling your home, I’ve got a few areas for you to consider updating that will add tremendous value to your property:

1. Kitchens and bathrooms. Because of the hassle involved with renovating them, folks are always interested in new and updated items in these rooms. If you keep things neutral with new cabinets and/or countertops that would remain in style for a long time, you could add thousands of dollars to your sale price. If you have specific tastes, however, and have all red appliances, that might not be something that adds much value. It’s best to keep things neutral. Buyers love large floor tiles as well.

        "Keep the colors neutral in the bathroom. " 

2. Hardwood floors. We are seeing more and more homes with hardwood flooring on two levels. Carpet isn’t as durable as it used to be, at least that’s what I hear from buyers all the time. I constantly see people replacing their carpet with hardwood flooring in this market.

3. Outdoor living spaces. Any kind of outdoor living space will bring value. Whether it’s something big like an outdoor kitchen or large patio, or a deck with some furniture, it will bring value to your home. 

If you have any questions for me in the meantime about selling your home or anything else related to real estate, don’t hesitate to give me a call or send me an email. I would love to hear from you.


 

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5 Upgrades That May Not Add Value to Your Home

 

Thinking of buying a home?  Search the local MLS here.

Thinking of selling your home?  Get a home valuation here.

Want to see our inventory of homes?  View our listings here.

 

If you plan on selling your home, you should know that some of the upgrades you’ve made won’t necessarily add value to your house. 

1. A pool. In Northern Virginia, pool season lasts three or four months. It’s not year-round like in Texas or Florida. Although you and your family may really enjoy having a pool, it will not necessarily add value to your house. Most buyers don’t come into Northern Virginia looking for a pool, so it may end up hurting you.

2. A highly customized design. Maybe you have a grand marble entryway that really suits your specific tastes. You may enjoy it for 15 or 20 years, but it can make selling your home difficult if it doesn’t appeal to a lot of people. 

3. Room conversions. Let’s say you live in a neighborhood where most homes have four or five bedrooms. Most of the buyers in the area have children. Let’s say you decide to redesign your master suite and convert one of those bedrooms into a beautiful master closet. It may be wonderful for you, but it will hurt you when the time comes to sell. Why? Most buyers in that neighborhood are looking for those four bedrooms. 

        "Before you convert any rooms, consider what buyers will expect in your neighborhood." 

Again, this is a very specific example that really depends on your neighborhood. If you were in a neighborhood where most of the houses only had one or two bedrooms, converting one into a master closet wouldn’t have the same effect. 

4. Incremental square footage increases. Let’s say you always wanted a sunroom but due to restrictions with your lot line, you can only add a room that is 8 by 10 feet. Small rooms like that are probably not going to get your value back. Even if it fits with the style of the home, don’t expect to get dollar for dollar back on that upgrade. 

5. Over-improving homes. If most homes are selling between $600,000 and $700,000 in your neighborhood, you don’t need to add Viking appliances or sub-zero refrigerators. When you over-improve a property, you may not get that investment back. Keep all upgrades in line with the level of your neighborhood. Like most of the things on this list, you may enjoy those upgrades but they won’t give you a bang for your buck. 

As you can see, you may enjoy many of these upgrades while you live in the home, but they could become a problem when the time comes to list the home on the market. If you have any questions about upgrades that will net you a great return on investment, just give me a call or send me an email. I would be happy to help you!
 


 

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Why Sellers Have an Advantage in the State of Virginia

 

Thinking of buying a home?  Search the local MLS here.

Thinking of selling your home?  Get a home valuation here.

Want to see our inventory of homes?  View our listings here.

 

If you’re a seller in the state of Virginia, you have the upper hand when it comes to selling your home. We are a “buyer beware” state, which means that buyers are responsible for doing inspections to find out issues in the home. Many other states require you to fill out extensive disclosures, but you don’t have to in Virginia.

There are some things you do need to disclose, however. One example is the presence of mold. Another is lead-based paint. If you know that either of these things is in your home, you must disclose it or suffer the legal penalties down the line. If your home has a high level of radon, that will need to be disclosed as well.

        "Sellers have an innate advantage in the Virginia market." 

You don’t have to disclose any repairs you’ve made. You just have to make sure that you’ve fixed them. It’s on the buyer to uncover any issues with those repairs.

If you have any other questions for us, don't hesitate to give us a call or send us an email. We look forward to hearing from you soon.


 

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The Different Uses for Essential Oils

 

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Thinking of selling your home?  Get a home valuation here.

Want to see our inventory of homes?  View our listings here.

 

Essential oils are something I personally use for a number of things. From treatments for my family to cleaning my home, essential oils are a staple in my life.

By filling any glass spray bottle with essential oil, you can utilize it as a tool for cleaning countertops, killing ants, and more. 

So, what are some of the specific oils and their uses?

Lemon is great for deodorizing fridges or cleaning floors. Additionally, by combining it with half a cup of olive oil, you can use it as a great leather polish. 

Tea Tree is also very useful. When you mix it with water, you can use it either on your children’s hair or anywhere outside to deter lice and other pests. 

One of my personal favorites, though, is Rosemary. Rosemary has antibacterial and antiseptic properties, which is why I use it to clean my countertops. You can also use it in your laundry, as an air freshener, or in many other ways, as well.

        "Essential oils are a staple in my life." 

Another popular oil is Wild Orange. One to two drops will lift grease, and if you combine 12 drops with a quarter cup of castor oil and water you can use it to wipe down your stovetops. 

Lavender is great as a sleep aid. Personally, I keep it in the bedrooms in my home, but you can also add it to vinegar to make a cleaning mixture. 

Eucalyptus has great properties, as well. For one thing, it does a good job eliminating dust mites. By Combining it with baking soda, you can use it to deep clean your mattress. You can also use it in a dry wash to clean stuffed animals.

For car sickness, I love using Peppermint. By mixing 10 to 15 drops of the oil in a spray bottle with water, it can also act as a pest neutralizer.

Cinnamon leaf, too, is good for deterring pests. 

When it comes to cleaning a common oil that many people use is pine. Pine oil can be used to kill yeast spores and E. Coli.

There are other oils with similar properties, as well. Thyme, interestingly enough, is effective against salmonella. Using it on your cutting board is just one of its uses. 

Recipes for these all of these oils, which happen to be from doTERRA, can be found online on websites like Pinterest.

If you have any other questions or would like more information, feel free to give me a call or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
 

 


 


 

What Should You Know About Appraisals?

Thinking of buying a home?  Search the local MLS here.

Thinking of selling your home?  Get a home valuation here.

Want to see our inventory of homes?  View our listings here.

Download your free Residential Appraisal Guide here.

 

I wanted to just take a moment of your time to talk about appraisals. First, let’s discuss what an appraisal is because a lot of homeowners are confused about the difference between an appraisal and a county assessment. 

An appraisal is a qualified appraiser’s assessment of a home’s current value based on recent sales data.

A county assessment, on the other hand, is also based on recent sales but is not a true picture of your home’s total value. It doesn’t take the true picture of your home’s value into account, so you can’t make a direct market value based on this.

Here’s the situation as to why sellers dread appraisals and buyers love them: If you’re a seller and your home is being appraised, the appraiser will look at comparable sales over the last 90 days within a few miles of your home. It can be a little frustrating for homeowners if there is a great comparable property that’s five miles away or one that sold 100 days ago.

"Each situation is different." 

Why do buyers like appraisals? It’s kind of a double check for them. If they feel like they’ve overpaid for a house and the appraisal shows the same thing, it keeps them in check to make sure they aren’t spending more than the home is worth.

If an appraisal comes in low, there are three options if you want to proceed with the sale:

1. The seller reduces the price to the appraised value.
2. The buyer pays the difference between the sale price and the appraisal in cash.
3. The buyer and seller meet in the middle.

Each situation is different, but we’re usually able to work things out one way or another. If you have any questions about appraisals or anything else related to real estate, give me a call or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you.
 


 

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