Category Archives: Real Estate Advice

Finding Your Accessible Dream Home

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“Accessible” and “dream home” aren’t two words that typically go together, but as home builders embrace universal design, it’s becoming easier to find homes that are both accessible and beautiful. If you’re a home buyer with a disability or are simply looking for a “forever home” that you can live in through every stage of life, read this guide to learn how you can buy an accessible home.

Buying an Accessible Home

There are lots of reasons why you might want an accessible home. Accessible homes enable independence for seniors and people with disabilities. Many accessible features also make daily life easier for people from all walks of life, whether it’s a parent pushing a stroller or carrying arm loads of groceries into the house.

Even if you don’t need an accessible home today, it’s smart to consider accessibility in your home purchase. Needs change over time, and buying for accessibility today ensures you can live in your home for years to come.

Along with accessibility needs, you’ll also need to consider your budget (Lake of the Woods home sales average $285,000) and which type of mortgage fits your finances best. If you have a spotty credit history, an FHA loan may be your best option. For example, PennyMac FHA loans have broader credit requirements, and you may be able to pay as little as 3.5 percent down. 

Accessible Homes: The Basics

A lot goes into making a home fully accessible. However, the average homeowner doesn’t need every accessibility feature available. If you’re in search of a forever home or shopping for an age-friendly home for your senior years, pay attention to major details like these:

  • Single-story living.
  • Step-free entrances.
  • Flush thresholds.
  • Wide doorways and hallways.
  • Ample lighting.
  • Raised power outlets.
  • Blocking for grab bars.

Thankfully, these home features are popular in new construction, making it relatively easy for buyers to find a house that offers basic accessibility. However, while these are the building blocks of accessible housing, they may not be all you need to enjoy full independence at home.

3 Ways to Increase Home Accessibility

Even when buying new construction, you may need to make changes to achieve full accessibility at home. Since remodeling can be costly, it’s important to factor these costs into your home-buying budget. You may even be able to roll remodeling expenses into your mortgage!

Replacing Carpet

One popular change for wheelchair and mobility device users is replacing carpet with wood floors. Mobility devices can’t move easily on plush carpet, and seniors are more prone to fall with high-pile carpeting underfoot. While there are a variety of alternatives to carpet, wood flooring offers the best return on investment because it’s both durable and in high demand by home buyers. Homeowners can save money by choosing inexpensive woods, removing old flooring themselves, and scheduling installation while the home is empty.

Adapting Counters and Cabinets

Most homes come with standard-height countertops and cabinets, but these can be inaccessible for wheelchair users and people with other disabilities. However, with counters and cabinetry accounting for as much as 60 percent of kitchen remodeling costs — which run nearly $30,000 on average — creating an accessible kitchen is costly. If you can’t afford to completely replace counters and cabinets or are worried about impacting your home’s resale value, talk to your contractor about working with what you have. For example, you may be able to add storage solutions that maximize lower cabinets or install a two-tier kitchen island to match your existing space.

Designing an Accessible Bathroom

Due to the high cost of bathroom remodeling, it’s best to buy a home that already suits your accessibility needs. But if you can’t find the right home in your budget, you may have no choice but to invest in bathroom updates. While minor changes like installing an accessible shower head and grab bars are affordable, replacing a bathtub with a walk-in tub or barrier-free shower costs as much as $5,000 or $15,000, respectively. However, for people who need them, the independence an accessible bathroom provides is priceless.

Finding a home that checks every box is difficult in the best of circumstances. When you have a disability or need an age-friendly home, finding the right home can seem impossible. But the truth is that there are lots of homes out there just waiting to be turned into your accessible dream home. Rather than giving up on your house hunt, reach out to an experienced agent who knows how to find the right home for you.

 Whether you’re looking for homes for sale in Fredericksburg, Stafford, Orange, Locust Grove, Culpeper, Northern Virginia or even Maryland or DC, we are your Real Estate team committed to finding the perfect home for you! Thinking of selling? In any market condition, “what is my home worth?” is the #1 question asked by homeowners. If you wish to sell your home, it needs to be sold for top dollar, and in a timely manner. Pricing your home accurately, one of our area expert advisors will partner with you to make the selling process so much easier. Get started today by calling us at (540) 388-2541 or contact Pat Licata.

To see available properties, please visit our website

How to Sell a House — Messy Kids and All

As your family grows, your starter home is starting to feel awfully full. But there’s one big obstacle standing in the way of you and an upsized home: selling your house. From the crayon you gave up on scrubbing off the walls to the tornado of toys that is your kids’ playroom, there’s a lot to contend with if you’re going to get your house in show-ready condition and keep it there.

You could stay put, but why live in a cramped house if you don’t have to? Instead of avoiding a move, find your dream home and then tackle your upsize head-on with these time-saving tips.

Decide if You’ll Move Out

Moving out makes selling a house much easier, especially for parents. When you relocate while your home is on the market, you eliminate the need for constant cleaning and scrambling to leave before every showing. Before moving out, consider the average days on the market in your area. While renting an apartment or Airbnb is affordable in competitive markets, it could be costly if your home takes a long time to sell.

Sellers who move out should avoid leaving the home vacant. Instead, leave just enough furnishings for staging. Home staging improves listing photos and helps buyers imagine themselves in a home they’re thinking about purchasing.

Start Packing Now

Staging is an even bigger concern for families who don’t vacate. Clutter can kill a home sale, so it’s critical that parents have a plan for eliminating clutter while keeping their house livable. For most families, this means putting most belongings in storage and keeping only the bare necessities. Thankfully, buyers are forgiving when it comes to non-master bedrooms, so there’s no need to leave play areas barren. Instead, downsize toy collections and look for easy yet stylish storage solutions like wicker baskets.

Get Your Home in Tip-Top Shape

With clutter out of the way, you can finally see your home clearly, including all of its flaws. From the little repairs you’ve put off to the dust bunnies in the corner, it all needs to go before your home hits the market. Minor fixes like patching drywall, painting, and fixing loose knobs and cupboards are simple enough to DIY, but hire contractors for anything involving plumbing or electrical wiring. While they get your home in good repair, work your way through a deep-cleaning checklist that will make your home gleam.

Keep Up with Daily Cleaning

Right now, your home looks the best it has in years. But as a parent you know it won’t last for long. You need a plan for keeping your home clean day-in and day-out while your home is on the market. Some parents take the DIY approach, diligently following cleaning schedules to stay on top of dishes, laundry, and other hallmarks of a lived-in home, but don’t rule out hiring a housekeeping service. Letting someone else handle the house can be a huge relief when you have so many things on your plate.

Housekeeping and maid services, for example, can help with tasks such as running errands and meal prep in addition to general upkeep. These services ultimately allow parents to focus on work, parenting, and life instead of constantly tending the house.

Make Showings Fun for the Whole Family

Ask any parent who has bought and sold a home, and they’ll tell you that getting kids out of the house for showings is easily one of the most stressful aspects. Make these disruptions easier on the kids (and you!) by creating a reason to look forward to showings. Find fun places to go as a family and keep a bag in your trunk full of kid-friendly activities, snacks, and other supplies. By creating a positive association, you can eliminate the fight to get out of the house.

Moving may feel like an insurmountable feat right now. But before long, this will be just a blip in your family’s history. Instead of letting the idea of selling a house with kids overwhelm you, take charge of your move. With creative solutions (and maybe a little outside help!), you can tackle your move like a pro and settle into your new, right-sized home.

 Whether you’re looking for homes for sale in Fredericksburg, Stafford, Orange, Locust Grove, Culpeper, Northern Virginia or even Maryland or DC, we are your Real Estate team committed to finding the perfect home for you! Thinking of selling? In any market condition, “what is my home worth?” is the #1 question asked by homeowners. If you wish to sell your home, it needs to be sold for top dollar, and in a timely manner. Pricing your home accurately, one of our area expert advisors will partner with you to make the selling process so much easier. Get started today by calling us at (540) 388-2541 or contact Pat Licata.

To see available properties, please visit our website

Everything You Need to Know About Buying a Lakefront Property

Having a house by the lake is a dream of many people, and for a good reason. Due to their picturesque settings, breeze along the shore, and range of outdoor activities, lakefront properties will give you the feeling that you are on a non-stop vacation. Still, purchasing a lakefront home is not only about buying a piece of real estate, but it is also “buying” into a certain lifestyle.  Owning a lake house is a lot of fun, but it also comes with a set of challenges you must prepare for. Here is everything you need to know about buying a lakefront property.

Consider the financing when buying a lakefront property

Before you start looking at houses, you need to take into consideration the financing and ask yourself whether you are able to afford an investment like this. A lot of costs come with purchasing a lake home, and it’s not just paying the mortgage. Before you buy a waterfront property, consider the following:

  • ●      property cost – for starters, waterfront properties are more expensive than other types of properties. Plus, if it is your second home, financing will come with more stringent requirements. However, if you have firmly decided to own a lakefront property, there are many easy ways to save up for a new home.
  • insurance and maintenance – don’t forget to buy flood insurance, because even just a few inches of water can cause costly damage to a home. Keep in mind that regular homeowner’s insurance typically doesn’t cover flood damage. Additionally, homes near the water tend to get more wear and tear, thus you will need a larger maintenance budget for your lakefront property.
  • fun stuff when you buy a lakefront property -Well, let’s be honest, fun stuff is a major reason why you are buying lakefront property. But, remember that all the fun activities, such as boating, jet skiing, and water skiing aren’t cheap.
Before buying a lakefront property, you need to take a few considerations into  account

Consider the location of the lakefront property

If you want a lakefront property to be your primary home, you must consider the distance from school, work, medical clinic, and standard amenities like grocery stores and post office. For example, choosing a lakefront property in Orange County, VA is a great idea, since it is near major cities such as Richmond, DC, and Charlottesville. Even if you want to lead a more rural lifestyle in a picturesque waterfront home in Lake of the Woods, you can have reasonable access to these services and make your everyday life a pleasure and not a chore.

Also, the proximity to your residence is important if the lakefront property is intended to be your vacation home. Some experts recommend that vacation homes should be one to two hours away from your primary home so that you use your vacation home more often and don’t get discouraged by a burdensome drive.

Make sure you have enough space in your lake home

A good lake house shouldn’t be small, because when you finally transport extra furniture you have, there should be enough space left to accommodate you and your friends and relatives because they will no doubt want to visit you. Apart from being big enough to provide comfort for you and your guests, there should also be enough activities available in the area. Besides water sports like fishing, swimming, or jet skiing, ask around if there are other activities like hiking, biking, and bird-watching. Also, ask about amenities like swimming pools, a gym, or a clubhouse.

Your friends and relatives will most certainly visit you in your lake house, so make sure you have enough space for everybody

Before buying a property talk to the neighbors If you want to get inside information on the property, ask your neighbors because they probably have all the information you need. You can ask them if they enjoy living in the community, if they have any issues with the property you are thinking about purchasing or if there are any waterfront related problems. If you are young and want to buy a property that is a bit rural, but at the same time modern, you can find some of the best neighborhoods in Orange County for young couples.

You will find a perfect house in Lake of the Woods

People in Orange County are charming and friendly, and you can find many interesting things to do and see here – there are local breweries, you can glance at the private life of James Madison, and most importantly, in Lake of the Woods, you will find magnificent lakefront houses no matter your age or interests.

Choose the right waterfront home for you

If you are considering buying a lakefront property, make sure you chose the right one for you. A lakefront home is a great place to move to after retiring, so you might want to buy a home that is a bit secluded without many people around. On the other hand, if you are young, you might want to have access to the activities you’re passionate about, so choose a property accordingly. Hopefully, these tips will give you the confidence you need and help you decide on the right lakefront property for you. Your lakeside life, full of serenity and happiness, can begin now.

Four Biggest Questions Regarding the Coronavirus and the Housing Market Part 4 of 4

 As we come to the end of this four-part series, we look to examine the outcome that we will face once this is all over. With that in mind, we ask ourselves the final question; are we going to see the same outcome and devastation that we saw in 2008?

One of the key factors in buying and selling a home is the confidence that people have, and in times like these, memories of past experiences come back to us as we recall all the uncertainties that we faced. But the focus cannot be on what has occurred in the past, but rather what is occurring today and the days to come. With that, we look to see what is being said from the Federal Housing Administration.  

The Federal Housing Administration indicated it is enacting an “immediate foreclosure and eviction moratorium for single family homeowners with FHA-insured mortgages” for the next 60 days. The Federal Housing Finance Agency announced it is directing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to suspend foreclosures and evictions for “at least 60 days.”

What we are seeing is things in 2008 that we got wrong that you are now seeing the government respond to in regard to the needs that the consumers and the industry have so that It doesn’t happen again. We are seeing how banks are going to respond individually to borrowers in those situations. Actions like this show that the way this is being handled is significantly different than back then, and there are also structural actions that we can look at that are very different now. The visuals provided below will help to better illustrate this.

This first visual shows us exactly where we were in 2008, and what you’ll notice is that there were $828 Billion in cash out refinances back then, and homes were basically being used as ATM machines to which cash was being taken out to harvest equity from their home, a lot of which was being put in depreciating assets. When we start to look at today in the last 3 years, cash out refinances are a fraction of what they were leading up to 2008. What this entails, is that people have learned their lesson and are no longer doing what they have done in the past with the equity in their homes, and today the equity position is very different than what it once was, with over 50% of homes in the united states having over 50% equity. In 2008, people were walking away from homes when they had negative equity, but that is no longer the case.

We are in a very different situation today than we were back then. Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it, and its fair to say that the government and the American people have learned their lesson.

As we started out this year, we saw a market where income is rising, and mortgage rates have been falling. What this has created is a drop for the historic norm in the payment as a % of income, as demonstrated in the visual above. Historically speaking, the norm percentage of income that has been dedicated to their mortgage has been 21.2%, and right now what we’ve seen leading into this, is that number being 14.8%. This is significantly lower than the historic norm speaking in leverage to the consumer in relative to housing.

In conclusion, what we are seeing now and, in the months/years to come is not going to be the same as we saw after the crash in 2008. Homeowners have learned from their past mistakes, and the government is taking the necessary precautions to ensure that history does not repeat itself. While the uncertainty factor remains for a lot of what is occurring in the county and the world, it can be said with confidence that we will come out of this stronger, and better than going into it.

We hope that this four-part series has shed some light into the biggest questions that you may have right now. If you have any other questions about the current market and what’s to come, feel free to give us a call at (540) 388-2541.

Four Biggest Questions Regarding the Coronavirus and the Housing Market Part 3 of 4

Moving into part three of our four part series, the next question that we need to ask is: Are we headed towards another recession, and what does that mean?

When we talk about where we are today, the reality is that we can feel the slowdown occurring across the county, and it will continue to have an impact on economic activity. When addressing this question/concern, we have to ask ourselves what a recession truly is. A recession is a slowdown in economic activity. Now when we hear the word “recession” we immediately have these ideas and thoughts of what the prior recession was. If we talk about an economic slowdown, it’s very different, and keeping that in mind as we continue to talk about it is critically important in these times. To help discuss this, we’ll turn to the experts. Bill McBride from Calculated Risk had this to say:

“With this sudden economic stop, and with many states shutting down by closing down schools, bars restaurants etc. my view is the US economy is now in a recession (started in March 2020), and GDP will decline sharply in Q2 (as Goldman Sachs is forecasting). The length of the recession will depend on the course of the pandemic.”

Now certainly we can say that we are feeling this slowdown, and it can be said that we will continue to feel this throughout the course of the pandemic. If we look at where we were in 2008 compared to today, 2008 was like a tornado that had ripped through our town and tore things that had to be slowly rebuilt over time, and what we are experiencing today is a heavy snowstorm that is shutting things down. What we do know is that as time moves on, we will start to see things open back up again. We will be able to go to bars, restaurants and sporting events with the only challenge being getting into these places as everyone is going to be out and about.

Looking at that graphically speaking, the figure above provided by Goldman Sachs begins to show a “V” of recovery, and not a “U” like we saw in 2008, being a sharp decline followed by a sharp increase displaying further strong gains as we head into 2021. When looking at what the experts have to say, Wells Fargo agrees as well, saying “We do not expect a repeat of the severe recession of 2008-2009, because the virus and oil shocks are not endemic to the financial system, but are, rather, external. Once the virus infection rate peaks, we expect a recovery to gain momentum into the final quarter of the year and especially into 2021.”

Referring back to the analogy previously used, we will not have to rebuild our financial system like in 2008. Once the snow melts from this current storm, things will kick in, and that’s why we see that “V” curve instead of the “U” curve.

So rather than use the actual word “recession” we should look to use the definition, being an “economic slowdown” and if that does happen, we need to look at our history of events that have shown similarities to what is occurring, and what we can expect to see moving forward. The visual provided below shows what has occurred with changes in home price over the last 5 recessions.

What we can see from this graphic is that in three of the last five recessions, home prices actually increased as a result. We did see a slight decrease in 1991, but what we all really remember is the significant decrease shown in 2008.

The message that needs to be taken from this is that recession does not equal a housing crisis.

Four Biggest Questions Regarding Coronavirus and the Housing Market Part 2 of 4

As we continue to look for answers to some of the biggest questions surrounding this crisis, we start to wonder what kind of effect the stock market has on the housing market, and how much of an impact we will see as a result. We begin by asking ourselves; When the stock market goes down as quickly has it has been, does it have a tremendous effect on home prices?

Often the best answers to questions is another question itself, and in this case, we look to the last crisis that occurred; being the crash of 2008.  So, we ask, will this be just like 2008?

To help answer this, we take a look at the graph provided above which shows the crash of 2008, to the S&P Correction of the same time. The graph illustrates the S&P Correction at 51% during that time, and the Annual Home Price Deprecation that occurred just under 20%.

In a quote by David Rosenberg, he explains that what we are experiencing now has more in common with what we experienced in 2001 (9/11) than with 2008.

“What 9/11 has in common with what is happening today is that this shock has also generated fear, angst, and anxiety among the general public. People avoided crowds then as they believed another terrorist attack was coming and are acting the same today to avoid getting sick. The same parts of the economy are under pressure – airlines, leisure, hospitality, restaurants, entertainment – consumer discretionary services in general.” – David Rosenberg, Gluskin Sheff + Associates Inc.’s Chief Economist.

When breaking down what was said by Mr. Rosenberg, we can see that this event lines up more with how we acted when 9/11 occurred. To help better illustrate this comparison, we will look at the graph below similarly as we did for 2008, but instead observe what occurred with 9/11 as well as the crash.

Here we can see that the S&P Correction was at 45%, however cumulatively over the same time, Housing Price Appreciation was up almost 24%. This shows that housing reacted very differently during 9/11 and the crash compared to how it reacted in 2008. This visual helps make the case that it’s not unreasonable to say that if what we’re experiencing right now is a lot more like 9/11 and not 2008,  than the housing market will react a lot more like it did during 9/11 and the crash than it did in 2008. Annual Home Price Appreciation reacted very well, and based of off what’s occurred so far, we can make the argument that we are seeing similar situations now.

When this year (2020) began, the housing market was off to a tremendous start, with home sale reports showing the highest number of houses sold within the last 13 years, on an annual basis. While a bit of a slowdown has occurred due to the events going on, we can say that when this is all over, and it will be, we can expect the market to come roaring back and continue that trend that started the year off.

Four Biggest Questions Regarding Coronavirus and the Housing Market Part 1 of 4

In these recent times of uncertainty, you may find yourself asking how the Novel Coronavirus has impacted the housing market, and what changes you can expect to see. We are here to give you some insight by answering four of the biggest questions in this four-part blog involving what has happened to the housing market, and what we can expect to see in the months and years to come. Now more than ever it’s important to stay informed on what’s occuring in the county, and we hope this series will provide you with the necessary information that you need.

The first biggest question you may be asking yourself, is what are people doing with their money, and what does it mean for housing?

To start off, it’s important to look at the relationship between the 30-year mortgage rate and 10-year treasury rate. For almost 50 years, the two rates have moved in unison with one another, with the 10-year treasury rate often being used to predict the foreseen mortgage rate.

As seen in the graph above, the two have held a symbiotic relationship of the past several decades. What you may now notice, is that this relationship has recently changed. This change can be attributed to several other factors such as money coming out of the stock market and into bonds. While treasury rates have seen a recent decline, mortgage rates have not followed in the same trend. In fact, what we are seeing right now is volatility in the market as pricing is going back and forth intraday.

In a quote from First American, “As evidenced by recent events, often the spread increases because mortgage refinance application processing capacity cannot meet demand, so lender-offered rates don’t follow the Treasury yield down one for one. So, while the mortgage rate has declined in response to the decline in yields, it is unlikely to fall by the same magnitude as the Treasury yield…

It is plausible that mortgage rates fall further if the benchmark 10-year Treasury bonds yield decline further…

It’s reasonable to expect that rates will fall even further and likely surpass the prior record low, but not necessarily one-for-one with the 10-year Treasury yield.” – Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist, First American.

In the graph below, we can look at the rate environment over the last year to better illustrate the flow of the 30-year mortgage rate going forward.

With all the volatility we’re seeing in the market right now being different than we’ve ever seen, we should look to the 10-year treasury as a way to judge what to expect in the future.

Why Orange County, Va is perfect for ex New Yorkers

There is an ever-growing number of people moving out of New York and trading their previous lifestyle for something different. Luckily, there are so many cities, towns, and counties that can provide you with everything you want your future neighborhood to have. For instance, Orange County, VA is perfect for ex-New Yorkers for many reasons we will try to analyze in this article.

A little bit about Orange County

Orange County is a part of the Los Angeles metropolitan area. With over 3 million inhabitants, it is the third-most populous county in the state of California. The average annual temperature of 20 degrees Celsius makes the county very pleasant for living. Among other things, this is the reason why some Canadians decide to buy properties in Virginia. Orange County takes pride in its educational and sports opportunities. At the same time, the county is home to many start-ups and overall successful companies, which means that the economy is strong too.

Orange County, Va offers suburban lifestyle while having 3 million citizens

Ex New Yorkers move to Orange County for the convenience of suburban living

Although it is a densely populated area, Orange County is mostly suburban. Many New Yorkers opt for living in houses instead of apartments when they move to this area. Who can blame them? When they get tired of everything that the “concrete jungle” has in store for them, they opt for leaving NY for good and trading it for the new lifestyle that they can have here. Some of the benefits of living in Orange County in comparison to NYC in terms of housing include:

  • not having to spend a fortune on rent in NYC – it is not a secret that New York City is one of the most expensive cities in the World for renting a place; Of course, not all NYC counties and neighborhoods cost the same, but still, they are mostly overpriced.
  • being able to afford some home features and amenities that you could only dream of in NYC. To be honest, a house with a nice garden, a water view, or a swimming pool in your backyard comes with a certain price tag in Orange County too, but the numbers are more realistic than in NYC.
  • being able to earn some money on renting a vacation home you can buy in Virginia – A vacation home in Orange County can be a great place for you to relax and earn some extra cash too. It turns out that in many areas, the weekly fee you can get for renting out is greater than the monthly mortgage payment.

The slower pace of life is definitely a plus, but you might need to learn some new skills

After moving from New York City to Orange County, you will have more time for yourself since you won’t be spending it in NYC traffic. On the other hand, a suburban lifestyle might require you to have a driver’s license that you probably didn’t need in NYC.

You might need to learn how to drive after moving from NYC

Work/life balance is so much better in rural areas

Just like we have already mentioned, moving to a suburban or even rural area from an urban one such as NYC can save you a lot of stress in your daily life. Commuting to work might be a little time-consuming if you are used to living and working in the same part of the city, but the benefits of space and money are there to compensate for the loss. In fact, many companies follow the trend of moving their headquarters and offices outside the city centers for these particular reasons. They are able to choose much better spaces within their budget, plus they get overall better working conditions for their employees.

Orange County, VA can be perfect for ex New Yorkers with families

Whatever you crave for – NYC has it. Be that business, culture, entertainment, or anything else, you will be able to find it in New York. However, the Big Apple might not be an ideal place for raising a family. That is exactly why people choose to leave it at a certain period of their lives when they decide to start a family.

We all agree that raising children is easier and often healthier in smaller places. Orange County, VA is specific since it has a vast population, yet its citizens enjoy the privileges of living in smaller communities.

For instance, the crime rate is much lower than in NYC or some other bigger cities. This is usually the first factor people consider when moving to a new town or city with their families.

After that, there is the healthcare factor. Orange County has a great network of hospitals and clinics. Here are some of those:

  • Mary Washington Healthcare/Mary Washington Hospital, Fredericksburg
  • UVA – Culpeper Regional Hospital, Culpeper
  • University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville
  • Martha Jefferson Hospital, Charlottesville

Education in Orange County, VA is also something that can attract ex New Yorkers

Moving professionals such as noticed that there are many people who choose Orange County for their relocation from bigger cities in search of education. Whether they are the ones who plan to continue their schooling, or they would like their children to have better educational opportunities, here they can choose from a variety of public and private schools, colleges, and universities.

Education is one of the reasons why Orange County, Va is perfect for ex New Yorkers

Recreational activities in Orange County

The parks in Orange County might not be as impressive as Central Park in NYC, but they do offer a variety of recreational to entertainment activities. From various sports that can be practiced here to cultural events that are organized all-year-round, there is always something to do in Orange County, Virginia.

This is also a very famous surfing destination! The long sandy beaches will help you relax and forget about your previous hectic life in NYC. So, whatever your reason might be for moving to Orange County, VA, you can rest assured that you will find everything you need in your new hometown.

 Whether you’re looking for homes for sale in Fredericksburg, Stafford, Orange, Locust Grove, Culpeper, Northern Virginia or even Maryland or DC, we are your Real Estate team committed to finding the perfect home for you! Thinking of selling? In any market condition, “what is my home worth?” is the #1 question asked by homeowners. If you wish to sell your home, it needs to be sold for top dollar, and in a timely manner. Pricing your home accurately, one of our area expert advisors will partner with you to make the selling process so much easier. Get started today by calling us at (540) 388-2541 or contact Pat Licata.

To see available properties, please visit our website

5 Ways to Freshen Up Your Decor for Spring

The days are getting longer, temperatures are starting to climb, and the trees are finally starting to turn green again. As spring approaches, it’s a great time to freshen up your decor and add a splash of color to your space. Looking for some quick, easy, and affordable design tips? Here are a few ways to welcome spring into your home…especially if you’re thinking about selling in the next few months!

Our Top Spring Decor Tips

Do Some Spring Cleaning

Person cleaning a kitchen

Before you make any decor updates, it’s crucial to get every inch of your home looking pristine. Spring cleaning involves more than just a little scrubbing—you should take some time to reorganize, too!

If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, just start by working room by room and removing any clutter. It may also be beneficial to make “keep,” “donate,” and “throw away” piles to ensure that everything stays in order. After you’ve freed up some space, break out the cleaning supplies and banish any dust, cobwebs, and grime. Don’t have time to do it all yourself? Consider hiring a professional cleaner or organizer.

Incorporate a Little Greenery

Roses in a vase

Want to breathe new life into your home? Take some inspiration from nature! Adding freshly-cut or potted flowers and greenery can turn your house into a home—and if you’re selling, your buyers might appreciate the extra pop of color.

If you’re not sure where to start, consider picking up a ready-made bouquet or some low-maintenance houseplants for your living room, kitchen, or bedroom. Placing them in trendy planters and decorative vases can create an added level of style. For a final splash of spring, try hanging a wreath of seasonal blossoms or greenery on your front door to welcome guests inside.

Add New Accessories

Blue-themed living room

Take some time to get rid of your winter accessories and usher in a brand-new season. Light and bright colors, linens, textured pottery, and raw wood accents are all on-trend this spring, and adding these small details can really elevate your home’s style.

Start by incorporating some new accent pillows and paring down your current accessories in favor of a more curated collection. This is particularly important if you’re getting ready to sell; you’ll want to depersonalize your space, but it should still feel like a home. Hanging some different art on your walls can also help you transition to spring—we recommend floral prints or paintings.

Freshen Up with Inviting Scents

Lit candle in a living room

Is your home smelling a little musty after a long winter? Throw open the windows and freshen up with some invigorating scents…especially if you’ll be inviting buyers into your home.

Before you integrate spring fragrances, however, be sure to eliminate any unpleasant odors first. Once you’ve deodorized, swap out those holiday candles in favor of some fresher aromas. Lavender, fresh cotton, and lemongrass are all great choices, and they won’t be too overpowering.

Don’t Neglect Your Outdoor Space!

Spring patio with a table and chairs

As you prep for the warmer months ahead, the outside of your home matters just as much as the inside. Your outdoor space can really make or break a sale during the spring, as buyers are probably ready to spend some time outside. Even if you aren’t selling soon, your yard, porch, deck, or patio could probably use a little extra attention.

Brush off the winter blues by sweeping away any debris, addressing brown spots on your lawn, and getting rid of any dead or wilting plants. You might also want to incorporate some new outdoor furniture on your deck or patio to show off its potential.

Ready To Sell Your Home This Spring?

If you’re looking for spring decorating tips because you’re planning on selling your home soon, we’d love to help you navigate every step of the process. Feel free to reach out to us for more staging strategies and seller tips—we can even help you list your home with just a few clicks!

10 Things Buyers Need To Know In A Seller’s Market

When you’re making an investment of any sort, there’s one thing more important than just securing all the funds you need. You also need to do enough research to make sure you’re going to end up making a truly informed decision. And in this regard, real estate investments are no different. Especially if you’re a buyer in a seller’s market – you need to have all the right data and info. And that’s precisely what we’re going to talk about here!

Working With A Proper Realtor

If you’re buying in a seller’s market, before you actually present an offer to your seller of choice; you want to have all the right information. And in order to do that, you need to have the right representation while you’re buying a property. If you’re facing a steep seller’s market, a good real estate agent will make all the difference in the world. For example, they’ll be able to ask all the right questions when talking to the seller’s agent and figure out all of the activity on the home that you need to know about.

Doing Research In A Timely Manner

When you’re buying a home and moving there, you need to do everything you can in regards to making your relocation less expensive than it needs to be. And that means doing all the prerequisite research; not just on the specific property, but on the market in general. Once you’ve gotten the sense of the kind of home you want, or even the preferred neighborhoods that you have in mind; you should start learning all you can about them. This is another thing your real estate agent will be good at, so finding one early on is important.

An informed decision is the only good one!

Separating Needs And Wants

One of the realities of buyers in a seller’s market is pure and simple – you’ll need to get your priorities in order. It doesn’t matter whether you’re looking for a vacation home or a house you’ll primarily be living in. You still need to forego a couple of your less urgent wants and focus on what you truly require. So, a few compromises on the home’s condition, the local amenities, or the location will simply have to happen in a seller’s market; coming to terms with this reality is good for you.

Stay Within Budget

A seller’s market is, as the name suggests – one where, to paraphrase the old adage, buyers can’t be choosers. With this in mind, you need to say goodbye to the idea of presenting low-ball offers to your sellers. Find a price range you’re completely comfortable with, and make sure you stay within it. If you’re hoping that the seller might drop their listed price down to something more acceptable for you; that isn’t one of the smart things to do in a demand-heavy market where sellers have their pick.

Don’t let your chase for a dream home make you unrealistic!

Scheduling Flexibility

Before you can find a good moving company like to help you out with your relocation to a new home; you will need to do everything in your power to make sure you can nab the right property. And that means one thing – flexibility! You need to learn of the seller’s time schedule and adjust yourself accordingly.

Usually, it’s useful to learn why the seller in question is moving away; that’ll be a great hint in terms of your closing date. If they’re looking to leave in a hurry, they may want someone who can deal with a quick closing date. On the other hand, they may require extra time to relocate. If there are other buyers you’re competing with (and in a seller’s market, there usually are), this will net you bonus points with the seller. Never underestimate goodwill as a factor!

More Cash Upfront

This isn’t something you can always influence, depending on your budget and personal finances. But generally speaking, a seller’s market reasonably favors people who can offer a larger amount of earnest money. This will, logically, pique the seller’s interest in negotiating with you. When sellers have favorable market conditions and receive lots of offers, a big deposit could be what makes the crucial difference.

Having more cash to offer will differentiate you from the rest of the buyers!

Get Personal

Depending on the seller in question, including some humanity and emotion into the equation could also be the deciding factor. For example, you could write up a letter that you’ll include with the purchase offer, in order for the seller to know your personal reasons for buying the home. Try to become friendly with them through the letter as well – for instance, complimenting their home decor or well-kept outdoors.

Remember – many of the sellers still like the home that they’re selling. That’s why they’d also like for the home to go to someone who’s going to love it just as much!

Look For Potential

As we’ve mentioned above, a seller’s market does demand a certain level of compromise from a buyer. That’s why you shouldn’t take any home at face value; try to find the promise and potential within a good property. Perhaps you’ll be able to change a currently unfavorable layout later on?

Don’t Overdo Due Diligence

So far, we’ve talked quite a lot about the importance of making an informed decision. However, you should bear the other side of the coin in mind as well. Remember – real estate markets are a dynamic place. In certain situations, sellers will use the “other people are making offers” ploy as a tactic to get you to panic and agree to a less favorable price. Bear in mind though, that in a seller’s market, this is sometimes truly the case. You need to strike a careful balance between due diligence and overthinking, or the perfect home may slip away!

 Whether you’re looking for homes for sale in Fredericksburg, Stafford, Orange, Locust Grove, Culpeper, Northern Virginia or even Maryland or DC, we are your Real Estate team committed to finding the perfect home for you! Thinking of selling? In any market condition, “what is my home worth?” is the #1 question asked by homeowners. If you wish to sell your home, it needs to be sold for top dollar, and in a timely manner. Pricing your home accurately, one of our area expert advisors will partner with you to make the selling process so much easier. Get started today by calling us at (540) 388-2541 or contact Pat Licata.

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