Blog :: 2018

It's Time to Flex Your Support for the Special Olympics

The Dulles Plane Pull is coming up in just a few short months, and we want your help in supporting a great cause.

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Are you ready to test your strength for a great cause? We hope so, because we need your help on September 15 as we compete in the Dulles Plane Pull to raise money for the Special Olympics. Space on our team is limited, so if you want to join us for fundraising fun on the tarmac, you’ll need to send us a text, email, or a video explaining why we should choose you. Of course, helping us pull an 82-ton aircraft isn’t the only way you can show your support. You can also help us reach our donation goal of $2,500 by July 30. You can learn more about joining our team and supporting our donation goal here. To hear our full message about this event, watch this short video. 

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Get Rid of the Unwanted TenANTS in Your Home

You don’t have to call an exterminator to get rid of ants in your house. Here are a couple quick and easy tips that can get the job done.

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If you have ants running amok in your house, here are a couple easy tips that can solve this problem:

1. Spray rosemary oil. This is my preferred method. Put a few drops of rosemary oil into a spray water bottle and spray wherever you see any ants. Rosemary oil is what I use to wash my counters anyway, and whenever it comes into contact with ants, it kills them almost instantly. It might not prevent them from coming back, but it’ll take care of the ones already there. This is safe to use around food and is nontoxic to humans, so you don’t need to bother with buying a can of Raid. 

2. Lay down a few Terro® Liquid Ant Baits. Terro is an ant bait liquid that you can buy in pre-filled, ready-to-use trap stations. All you have to do is place one of these trap stations wherever ants accumulate in your house. The ants are attracted to the sugary, sweet liquid inside it, but the active ingredient is borax, which interferes with their digestive system and eventually kills them. Before it does, though, it gives the ants who visited the station enough time to share that lethal dose of Borax with the rest of their colony. 

"Hopefully these tips will keep ants out of your home."

Obviously, you can also hire an exterminator to take care of your ant problem. We use Suburban Pest, and they’ll come out to your home as many times as they need to between quarterly treatments. 

If you have any other questions about keeping pests out of your home or you have any other real estate needs I can take care of, feel free to give me a call or send me an email. I’d be glad to help you.

Our Team Has Welcomed a New Member

Allow me to introduce our newest team member: Ashley Sears.

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.

Today I’m excited to introduce you to our newest team member: Ashley Sears. 

I’ve known Ashley for a couple of years, and now she’s going to be joining us as a buyer and seller agent. But how did Ashley start out in real estate?

After spending three years in new home sales, Ashley decided it was time to move on to residential sales. This is how she’s found herself on our team, today.

"Ashley is a very hard worker, is very responsive, and has always had great results with her clients."

I am so thrilled that Ashley has joined us. She’s a very hard worker, is very responsive, and has always had great results with her clients. And because I served as Ashley’s mentor a couple of years ago, this praise is coming from a place of personal experience. 

“I’m really excited to join a team that has such a wonderful reputation,” says Ashley.

If you have any real estate questions or needs, feel free to give our team a call or send us an email. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

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What Home Renovations Should You Focus on Before Selling?

If you’re thinking about selling your home, where can your renovation money be used most efficiently? That’s what we’re going to go over today.

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

Today we’re going to talk about the renovations that are going to give you the most bang for your buck. 

What should you do first? In order to get the best bang for your buck, it’s important to focus on your kitchen and master bathroom first. Kitchens usually require the most work. If your home is 30 years or older, it might be time to consider replacing your cabinets and countertops. 

If you’re selling your home, consider how future homeowners would like to live in it.

The master bathroom is a huge eye-catcher for buyers, and they really like it when they know going in they don’t have to make any big renovations.

 

"The master bathroom is a huge eye-catcher for buyers."

 

The third place to focus on is the systems of your home. Home buyers want to know about the roof, windows, HVAC, and plumbing. If they don’t have to put that money in right away, they will be more attracted to the home.

Finally, look at your flooring. Buyers prefer hardwood so if that’s an option for you, it might be a good idea to replace your carpet. 

If you have any questions for me or want to know more about any of these renovations, give me a call or send me an email today. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

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Keeping an Eye on This Hectic Market

The Northern Virginia market is getting crazy this year. Here’s what buyers and sellers need to know about it.

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

My team member, Amy O’Rourke, is with me today to discuss what is going on in the Northern Virginia market this spring.

Fairfax was a little crazier this year compared to last year. Active listings are down 22% year over year. Though fewer homes are being sold, the ones that are selling are doing so even quicker than in 2017, 19% faster, to be exact. 

Loudon is in a similar position. Inventory is down 22%, and the number of days the listed homes are spending on the market is down 18%.

Now, what should buyers in this spring market expect?

"If you’re planning to enter the market soon, all we can say is 'Buckle up!'"

In most situations, buyers will likely face some competition. Most homes that are showing well are receiving multiple offers. Many are waiving the home inspection or doing it for informational purposes only. A good majority of sellers aren’t offering any closing cost assistance. It’s competitive, yes, but it’s doable. Ours is a good market to be in.

Many buyers have told me that they’ve written offers for several homes but haven’t been accepted on any of them. A lot of the reason behind this occurring has to do with your relationships in the industry or your pre-approval. To get the home you want, you have to have all your ducks in a row. We can help with that—having someone competent and experienced to guide you during the transaction is critical.

On the other hand, sellers are in a very favorable position. They get to choose the best offer of the many strong ones they receive. Additionally, a lot of sellers in the market are also buyers, and I think they’ve learned how aggressive they need to be for the buying process.

Open houses have been extremely busy this spring. It’s not uncommon to have 25 to 35 parties come through without agents, but I’m also seeing a lot of agents themselves coming to open houses.

Overall, we’re seeing a lot of energy in the market and a lot of great homes for sale, though we still don’t have enough of them.

If you’re planning to enter the market soon, all we can say is “Buckle up!”

If you have any questions or need assistance navigating this crazy market, feel free to reach out to us. We can help.

How to Keep Radon From Building Up in Your Home

Radon is a gas that can build up in your home and be hazardous to your health, but there are ways you can test for and mitigate it.

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

What is radon and how can you keep it out of your home?

Radon is a gas produced from the radioactive decay of the element uranium. It can be found naturally moving through soil, water, or air.  After seeping from the ground, it can enter the building materials of a home through foundational cracks and/or sump pumps. From there, it can get trapped in basements (or main levels, if you live in a home built on a slab) and accumulate. 

Radon is measured in units of picocuries per liter (pCi/L), and the EPA states that radon becomes harmful once it reaches or exceeds 4 pCi/L. 

There are a couple ways you can test for radon. If you already own a home, you can buy a radon testing kit at any local hardware store or big-box store. If you’re purchasing a home, I recommend getting it tested by a professional. A professional radon test costs around $200 and takes two days to complete. 

"If you didn’t get your home tested for radon when you bought it, you can always do it now."

In either case, if the test comes back positive, the mitigation process will typically cost anywhere from $1,000 to $1,200. To mitigate radon, they simply stick a PVC pipe in the ground with a fan attached that sucks the radon out and releases it into the atmosphere. It’s not a hard fix, but it is something you should be aware of if you change your sleeping arrangements or a member of your household decides to live in the basement. 

If you’re curious how prevalent radon is in your specific area, Fairfax County provides a radon potential map on their website. In the video above, we’ve printed out a copy of this map to show you what it looks like. Officially, the EPA classifies Fairfax County as “Zone 1,” which is high. 

So remember, if you didn’t get your home tested for radon when you bought it, you can always do it now.

If you have any more questions about radon, don’t hesitate to give us a call or send us an email. We’d be happy to help you.


 

2 Home Repairs You Need to Keep an Eye On

Some home repairs are more preventable than others. Here are two that you can easily snuff out by being proactive.

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

Today I want to talk about the two biggest repairs that you can prevent while you own a home. I see these all the time, and they’re completely preventable:

1. Wood rot. Especially on the outside of your home. The most common places to find it are around your door frames and exterior. This happens usually because you’re not keeping up with painting. Make sure any exterior wood is painted, sealed, and caulked so that water doesn’t eat away at the wood. Rotted eaves are common too.

"We were actually victims of gutter overflow."

2. Gutter overflow. We were actually victims of this. Water ended up seeping in through our foundation simply because we weren’t cleaning our gutters. Make sure you have your gutters cleaned at least once, if not twice, per year.

If you have any questions for me in the meantime about your home, the real estate market, or anything else, don’t hesitate to give us a call or send us an email. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

Happy St. Paddy's Day. Here's an Update on Our Market

We may be seeing green for St. Patrick’s Day, but our local real estate market is red hot!

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

In honor of St. Patrick’s day, Amy and I decided to combine forces and become the O’Rougherty team for today’s market update. 

It’s a strong market out there in the Fairfax County real estate market. 

Active inventory is down 24% from last year and monthly supply is also down to about 2.5 months. This is a decrease of about 20% since last year.

Active inventory is also down in Western Fairfax, having decreased by 38% since last year. There are only 1.2 months of supply right now in the Western Fairfax market. This is a decrease of 40% since last year.

"Low inventory has been causing strong demand in our local market, which means now is a great time to list your home."

This low inventory has been causing strong demand in our local market, meaning multiple offer situations have become increasingly common. Buyers are making cash offers and offers that are well over list price, and many are also waiving contingencies. 

In other words, now is a great time to list your home. But if you’re a buyer, don’t give up. Just make sure that you put your best foot forward.

If you have any other questions or would like more information, feel free to give us a call, send us an email, or visit our website: www.getkeyedup.com. We'd be happy to help.

 


 

Should Homebuyers Get Pre-Qualified or Pre-Approved?

If you’re a buyer, a pre-approval is far more standard than a pre-qualification in today’s market, and it’s what you should much rather have.

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.

What’s the difference between a pre-qualification and a pre-approval? 

According to Terry Schenck, our preferred lender from Prosperity Home Mortgage, a pre-qualification is simply a letter a lender provides you that details your preliminary information you’ve given verbally but they haven’t verified yet. This includes bank statements, pay stubs, and W-2s. This letter isn’t very strong and is typically frowned upon by sellers. Sometimes pre-qualification letters come with a credit check, but often they don’t.

A pre-approval letter is standard in today’s market. With this letter, the lender actually pulls your credit and verifies your documentation. The lender also puts you through an automated underwriting system, which gives you a much stronger letter and allows you to go much farther in the marketplace. 

"A pre-approval letter is standard in today’s market."

Sellers in today's market prefer for their buyers to have a pre-approval. If you're in the market to buy a home, getting one is a no-brainer.

Prosperity Home Mortgage can also take your pre-approval one step further with their buyer advantage program. In addition to the pre-approval, they can also submit you to their underwriting team for a full review before you even start looking at houses. There is no cost or obligation with this program, and it can strengthen your offer tremendously. 

Competition is fierce among homebuyers in our current market because of low inventory, so I recommend you take advantage of this opportunity. 

If you’re interested in this program or you have any other questions for Terry, you can email him at terry.schenck@phmloans.com or call him at (703) 408-3978.

(Terrence V. Schenck NMLSR ID 193123 Senior Loan Officer, Prosperity Home Mortgage 13135 Lee Jackson Mem Hwy, suite 100 Fairfax, VA 22033 Phone (703)408-3978 | Fax (703) 293-4298 terry.schenck@phmloans.com)

If you have any other questions or real estate needs, don’t hesitate to reach out to me and my team. We’d be happy to help you.

 


 

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These 2 Inexpensive Home Products Are Absolute Game-Changers

Do you need a little help around the house? Today, I’ve got two devices that may just do the trick.

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.

Do you ever feel like you could use some help around the house? If so, I’d like to recommend two great devices that can make your life much easier. 

First of all, if you or anyone in your family has long hair, you’re probably familiar with the problem of clogged drains. Well, as someone with this same problem, I saw a solution on the show “Shark Tank” that I knew I had to buy. For $10 on Amazon, you can buy the Drain Wig—a small device you hang down into your drain that collects hair, therefore preventing clogs.

This product has been super helpful for my family and me. I know this isn’t a glamorous subject, but it’s certainly important.

"These products have been super helpful for my family and me."

The second device I recommend is the amazing Watchdog Water Alarm. You can purchase this product for about $13 at Lowe’s or Home Depot, and I highly recommend it. When you place the product near a sump pump, washing machine, or anywhere else where leaks may occur, this alarm will alert you right away so that you can prevent a flood in your home. 

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.