Simple Sprucing Tips for Your Home

Simple Sprucing Tips For Your Home

You don’t need thousands of dollars to fully refurbish your home to make it feel like new again. Instead, you can DIY a lot of features in your house to help spruce it up for the upcoming season. Whether you plan to sell your home, have guests over, or are just tired of how drab it’s been feeling lately, here are a few tips and tricks you can use to refresh your space:

Clean and Declutter
Throw out all of the junk taking up space! You’d be surprised by how much more you’ll fall back in love with your home when you take out the collection of accumulated stuff that has piled up over the years and finally get to see your home’s features for what they are. Store what you don’t need/use in either the attic, basement, or in a storage unit. After you’ve decluttered, be sure to finish it off by cleaning your home. Clean windows, walls, and the floors for the best results.

Bring in Natural Light
Do you have heavy curtains covering your windows? Bring them down! Not only will this make your space feel bigger by removing stuff off the walls, it’ll also feel alive again with all of the natural light that pours in.

Add Fresh Paint
Nothing refreshes a home like a new coat of paint. If you have dark dull colors, opt for lighter tones. Covering up stains on the walls, or drab old paint, can help your house feel brand new all over again.

Add Tile
Consider adding a tile backsplash in your kitchen or bathroom. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get beautiful results. Be sure you get tiles that compliment the colors in the space, so it doesn’t clash and look unappealing.

Add Color
Although neutral colors are always recommended as the base of any home decor, don’t be afraid to compliment your neutrals with a pop of color. You can add it throughout the home by using flowers, pillows, decor, or even light curtains that are staged on the sides of your windows.

Change Out Fixtures and Hardware
You’d be surprised by how much more a kitchen can look different just by replacing the hardware on the cabinets. A bathroom or living room can come alive again by installing a brand new light fixture. If you moved into a place that still has the same stock hardware or fixtures, replace them and add a little creativity with the new pieces you have installed.

Rearrange Furniture
Head to Pinterest and get inspired for new living room, bedroom, or dining room arrangements. Most homeowners decorate “incorrectly” when it comes to standard staging rules. View a variety of furniture set-ups on social media and let it motivate you to rearrange your space. You don’t have to buy a bunch of new furniture to make a drastic change.

The Barn Amphitheatre

The Barn Amphitheatre at One Loudoun

Have you seen the large red barn in One Loudoun off of Russell Branch Parkway?  I was curious about its importance and explored a little bit.  “The Barn” was originally constructed here in Loudoun County in 1875 on the property of a man named Charles Harris.  Shortly after the Civil War, Mr. Harris, an African-American landowner, began acquiring land along what is present-day Shellhorn Road.  Between 1870 and his death in 1907, Mr. Harris acquired a total of 32 acres including the land where he constructed his barn.  Much of his land, according to records, was used for social gatherings and for picnics in the surrounding rural communities.  The barn stood for 132 years before it was carefully deconstructed by One Loudoun developer Miller & Smith and a timber-frame preservation expert and Loudoun resident, Mr. Allen Cochran.  In 2014, reconstruction of The Barn was completed and was dedicated to be used for similar purposes as Mr. Harris had used it so long ago.

The Barn now offers an iconic back-drop for a wide range of outdoor events and shows throughout the year for the One Loudoun Community.

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Can I use an agent to purchase a new construction home?

Yes!  In fact, some builders pay agents to find prospective buyers.  You can also use a buyer’s agent to help negotiate the price and upgrades on a new home.  An agent can be particularly valuable for directing you to newly built developments that match your needs, as well as helping you select reputable builders who are financially sound and respond promptly to buyer’s concerns.

Builders normally require an agent to be present on your first visit to the site.  This is a sensible procedure that allows the agent to be paid a commission should you decide to buy within that community.  Otherwise, if you find a development on your own, make the first visit without the agent, and later make a purchase, the builder may refuse to pay the commission – even if, at some point, the agent became involved in the process.

I’ve created a free guide to help my clients properly prepare for purchasing a home. If you’re thinking about buying a home in the near future (or ever…), grab a copy! The Ultimate Home Buyer’s Guide

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Majority of Buyers Favor School District Over Home Features

Like the old saying goes, when it comes to homeownership, the most important thing? Location, location, location.

According to a recent report from Realtor.com, getting their kids into the right school was the top priority for a huge portion of buyers. And those buyers were more than willing to give up other features in order to buy a home in their desired school district.

According to the report, a whopping 91% of buyers with children (and 73% of buyers total) said that school boundaries were “important” or “very important” to their search. And of the buyers that purchased a home in their desired school district, 78% willingly gave up desired home features—like a garage, large backyard, or updated kitchen—in order to make sure they got their children into their school of choice.

The Takeaway:
When you invest in a home, make sure it’s in a good school district, whether you have children or not—for many buyers, it’s one point they’re just not willing to negotiate on.

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Why You Need An Agent For New Construction

Are you ready to buy a home and considering going along the route of new builds? It may seem like an easy enough process, where you get to call the shots of how you want your dream home to be, but there is a lot of risks when it comes to new construction if you are going in blindly. It’s unfortunately not as trouble-free as we’d like to hope if you don’t have the right representative by your side to help with the things that need to be looked out for from a professional’s eye. Below, we’ll dive into the many reasons you need a professional buyer’s agent representing you in the sale. They are, after all, on your side. And it’s their role to ensure you aren’t taken advantage of by the builders and their representatives in the transaction.

1. Hiring the Right Builder
The most important part of finding an agent is having a professional’s perspective to finding a builder with a great reputation. You get to benefit from your agent’s network of vendors, lenders, and home builders. They have the industry expertise to connect you with a builder that matches your needs, and more than likely, have already had experience with the builder with a past client. Or, if they haven’t worked with a builder you want to use directly, they can gather person-to-person recommendations from other agents to know the expected experience with said builder. They will help you find one, that not only delivers exactly what their clients want, but in a timely fashion.

2. The Right Lot in the Right Neighborhood
The lot you choose to go with in a new build can either be a positive to your new home, or detrimental. In the excitement of the process, we tend to overlook important features of a property. It’s important to have a professional to ensure you make a purchase that will best serve you. They’ll be able to find a neighborhood that best fits your lifestyle and a lot that has a location that works for you. Whether you’re single with pets, or a family with children, the lot location can really make a huge impact. Especially when it comes time to selling it in the future. These are important things your agent will be able to help walk you through, so your decisions work in your favor in the long term, as well as now.

3. Upgrades and Plan Modifications
Not only will your agent be able to ensure you get the upgrades and modifications that will best suit your life style, but will also help you make decisions that will increase the value of your home in the long term. They are working for your best interest long term, and with an agent’s guidance, you can be sure to make changes that end up benefiting you.

4. Handling Contracts and Paperwork
Your agent will handle the contract and all of the paperwork, and they will be sure to review it to ensure that it is in your best interest. They will be able to help you break down the best loan types, purchasing processes, and steps to take that benefit YOU, not the builder. They are, after all, working for you. They’ll make sure there are no overlooked terms in a builder’s contract that could end up hurting you after you move in. Or even during the building process. You want to make sure you have a professional who is experienced with the paperwork and contracts and knows how to make revisions that work in a way that make you happy.

5. Negotiations
It is imperative in the purchasing process to have an agent that is able to represent you and negotiate for you. The building process is so much more than having the builder put in your favorite counters and floors. They will be able to get you a price that actually benefits you – not the builder. They will be able to run a comparative market analysis to ensure you are paying a fair price for the property. You don’t want to end up overpaying for the home – it could put you in a tough spot when it comes time to sell. They’ll also be able to negotiate terms around building time frame, closings costs, and so many other aspects of a contract that you may otherwise overlook.

6. Builder’s Agent Represents Them, Not You
It may seem easy just to pop into an office of a new build, or a builder’s office, and use the onsite agent. But keep in mind that this agent works FOR the builder, NOT for you. So they will be working to make sure the builder gets the best deal at the end of the day. By having a buyer’s agent of your own, you can ensure there is a professional on your side that can walk you through the process and avoid being taken advantage of during the transaction. They will also have a better handle on things when you hit bumps along the way. If you end up working with a builder who isn’t holding their end of the deal, they will have the power to make connections that ensure the builder holds their end of the contract terms.

I’ve created a free guide to help my clients properly prepare for purchasing a home. If you’re thinking about buying a home in the near future (or ever…), grab a copy! The Ultimate Home Buyer’s Guide

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New Survey Finds Misconceptions About Down Payments Keeping People From Purchasing Homes

One of the main reasons people aren’t buying homes is they think they can’t afford it—especially the down payment. But, as it turns out, there are plenty of buyers out there who actually can afford to purchase a home, but their misconceptions about affordability are holding them back from making a move.

According to a recent survey by lender Laurel Road, 53% of Americans are concerned about their ability to afford a home. But a lot of that concern is because they don’t know what their options are.

A solid 58% of Americans surveyed said they planned to put down a 20% payment on a home, but 35% (and 46% of millennials) didn’t think they could afford to save that kind of down payment. But with alternative lending options, you don’t need 20% in order to buy a home! According to the National Association of Realtors, the median down-payment for first-time buyers is at 6%—significantly less than the 20% the majority of Americans believe they need in order to purchase a home.

The Takeaway: Your misconception about how much you need for a down payment could be holding you back from purchasing property. Explore the alternative loan options available to you and make your dream of owning a home a reality!

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Sellers, Take Note: A/C, Kitchens, And Energy Efficiency Top Criteria For Buyers

When you’re getting ready to list your home, you want to make sure any changes or renovations are going to give you a return on your investment by making your home more appealing to potential buyers. But what, exactly, are the things buyers are looking for?

According to Zillow’s 2017 Consumer Housing Trends Report, there are a few clear winners when it comes to upgrading your home to make it more appealing to sellers. According to the report, 62% of buyers require a home has air conditioning before they make a purchase. And while the perfect kitchen and an energy efficient home aren’t exactly “needs” for most buyers, they do rank high on their list of “wants” (at 48% for both)

Takeaway: If you’re thinking about making changes to your home in order to generate more interest from buyers, your money would be best spent installing central air. Improving your kitchen and making your home more energy efficient come in a close second.

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Nearly 1.3 Million New Homes Completed In May—The Most In Over A Decade

The housing inventory crisis—which, according to Realtor.com’s recent Housing Shortage Report, is the worst inventory shortage in the United States in over two decades—hasn’t been an easy time for people on the market for a new home. The low inventory and the intense competition for available homes has driven up prices in markets across the country, making it difficult for potential buyers to find and buy property.

But it looks like building is (finally) starting to pick up to keep up with buyer demand. According to a recent report on new construction from the US Census Bureau and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, builders completed new homes at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of a whopping 1,291,000 in May 2018—the most homes completed in over a decade.

The Takeaway: If you’ve been thinking about buying a home, this is good news! As new inventory becomes available (and as builders continue to construct new homes to keep up with demand), the fierce competition for property that’s become the norm in today’s real estate market will cool off, making it much easier to find a home (and, most importantly, to get that home at a reasonable price).

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More Newly Built Homes—Including More Affordable Options—Expected In 2018

The inventory shortage has been a real challenge for buyers. The competition for homes—especially starter homes—has made it difficult for potential buyers to successfully find and purchase property.

But it looks like that’s going to be changing in 2018.

According to a recent Realtor.com article, approximately 653,000 newly built homes will be sold in 2018—an increase of 5.4% over 2017. And many of these new builds are what’s considered “lower-priced offerings,” which experts define as costing less than $350,000. While that’s still higher than the US median home value (which, according to a recent press release from the National Association of Realtors, is $247,800), it’s still significantly lower than many other homes on the market, including the majority of new construction.

With new construction growth, including more affordable options, we can expect to start seeing inventory growth, which will lower competition and make homeownership more attainable for potential buyers.

The Takeaway:
What does this mean for you? If you’ve been thinking about buying a home, it looks like 2018 is going to be a much more buyer-friendly market than we’ve seen in years.

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My Passion for Real Estate

In 2014 I was sitting at my desk at my corporate job feeling like I needed something more and different for my life’s path.  Cliché, I know, but the first thing that came to mind truly was to be a real estate professional.  Years ago I dreamed of what a real estate career would have been like while watching my brother explore his own career path into real estate.  Of course, I didn’t pursue real estate until I finally dived in a few years ago, but it’s been a passion for as long as I can remember.

I can sit here and tell you I have strong negotiating skills, local market knowledge, and so forth – and of course, I do – but one thing I want to share with you, the thing that is the most important tool I can provide you in your home sale or purchase is my passion. I didn’t get into the industry to make money. I got into the industry because I fell in love with it. I fell in love with homes, the character each one had, and the beautiful people I got to help transition from one to another. I fell in love with hearing people’s stories, really getting to know their needs for their futures, and focusing on ensuring you found a home that actually met those future goals. Real estate can be a stressful thing, moving out of a home you’ve known for years can be hard, and it can be harder if you don’t have someone to partner with who doesn’t take the time to understand that.

My business goes beyond the professionalism I can bring to the table, my years of knowledge about our local market and communities, and past the number of sales I’ve made thus far. Instead, it prioritizes you. How much can you afford? What motivates your move? What do you HAVE to have to make this big transition in your life? You need a real estate agent who understands that and seeks to know the answer to those questions and all of the other important ones that make buying and selling a reality for you. Let’s grab coffee or lunch, on me, and we’ll talk about your real estate goals. I’ll get to know your needs, I’ll share the amazing experience I can provide, and we’ll make sure your next move is in the right direction. You don’t need a computer to find your dream house, you need a professional partner who has your best interest at heart from the moment you call to even after we close. I’m doing more than just selling houses in Northern Virginia, I’m helping you bring your dream home to life.  Allow me to help you find your NextHome.