It's a good time killer, so don't try and make it all the way through in one shot unless you just finished the Star Wars Trilogy and have got time to burn before popping Lord Of The Rings into the DVD player. Enjoy, nonetheless.
Just a quick post about Neighboroo, an interesting way to find out information like Density, Housing, Safety information and more about areas throughout the country. Most of the time, when you find this data, it's a generalization of a larger region, but Neighboroo seems to have done a good job of localizing the search data. Take everything with a grain of salt, of course, but it's at least an interesting way of looking at the New River Valley ... and maybe your brother's place in Detroit, as well.
Dave Shelor at Prosperity Mortgage tells us that rates appear to be holding at 6.125% on a 30-year fixed with 5% down for this weekend. Looking back on the week, mortgage bond prices fell a bit under pressure from the CPI, pushing rates up about 1/4 of a point. For the coming week, the Mortgage Genie tells us that the Gross Domestic Product data will be some of the most important happenings of the week. Lower GDP growth will create lower mortgage rates, so conversely higher GDP growth will mean slightly higher rates. Don't fret though - it's still a good time to buy!
So the weather has finally warmed here in the New River Valley, and I thought I'd post some pictures the recent cold weather brought us ...
Okay, so maybe it wasn't that bad! The pictures above are from the town of Versoix, near Geneva City, Switzerland, sometime in 2005. The water in the background is Lake Leman, also called Lake Geneva. So ... things didn't seem so bad after all, huh?
UPDATE: Thanks to Tommy Clapp for the pictures - he correctly chastised me for not giving him props. So ... props! :)
More and more over the last couple of weeks there has been talk circulating about a technique called "lock bumping". Admittedly, I haven't paid much attention to it as it didn't catch my eye, but yesterday I heard the term three times and thought I'd look into it more. Today, two blogs I read mentioned it and I thought "hey, I'm behind the times here". So, a quick reference to wikipedia turned up this post regarding lock bumping. You can also find things about it on YouTube, like this news video ...
It appears as if this is a real threat, and one that's been around for years and years. I talked with a local locksmith from Blacksburg Locksmith who said that bump keys can be purchased. They're keys with special cuts in them that when inserted into a lock correctly and then struck correctly, virtually any standard lock can be opened. Locks by Medeco and Schlage are supposedly safe, but of course you'll want to talk to a locksmith before purchasing.
Interesting stuff to consider. Can one ever be too safe? I'm interested - has anyone else ever heard of this technique, or God forbid been a victim of it?
Recently, I was showing condos to an investor in Blacksburg and he was gung ho to buy something. He had cash in his pocket and could afford to buy 2 or 3 income-producing properties at the time - he was ready to go, and I was ready to help him!
It was easy to get caught up in his enthusiasm, but would I be representing him well by suggesting he forgo a home inspection? In my opinion I would not, and so I made the recommendation he consider the idea. I'm glad he did - in one of these particular buildings, a water leak subsequently damaged several units resulting in thousands of dollars worth of damage. One of the purposes of the home inspection is to determine that the plumbing system is in safe working order ... I can't say for certain that an inspection of this property would have uncovered a problem, but it's likely it would have - the failure occurred at a common area the inspector would have checked.
If you're working with me or anyone else on my team, you'll know that we always recommend a home inspection ... we have several we work with exclusively because they're the best in the business! It's an upfront charge of a couple of hundred dollars, paid to the inspector, that can have the potential of saving you thousands. And in the end - if you decide it's something you'll want to bypass, at least consider putting a home warranty on the property. You don't buy a car without having it insured - why would you do that to such a significant investment as real estate?
Chances are, in your mind it looks like the second mansion (which is the Harry Packer mansion, by the way) and for good reason - there were surely things that made you fall in love with your current home, and you've most certainly made improvements to fit your lifestyle. But did you know the camera can add 10lbs?
When selling a home, too many folks discover that they're just not the professional photographer they thought they were! The NY TImes had a great article this past weekend entitled Making Every Pixel Count, by Vivian Toy, which talked about how a picture can make or break your home when selling properties online. This is often the first and best chance to make a good impression, and less-than-flattering pictures can make the buyers move on to the next home without giving yours a second chance. Sarah Cooper of Coldwell Banker Advantage had a blog post about this very topic this morning in regards to her own home - check out the before and after pictures to see just how dramatic the differences can be.
The point is, real estate agents aren't experts when it comes to handling cameras, and most of us - sellers included - couldn't tell you the absolute best placement of furniture when staging a room. What we can do is call in the experts, folks like the guys at Graphic Dimensions here in Roanoke, who provide floor plans and pictures for listings throughout both the Roanoke and New River Valleys. These guys, or any professional photographer, know how to optimize your home's exposure (sorry, had to throw in the camera reference) in order to maximize your dollar. And if your agent isn't using tools like these, ask them why not? Chances are you're missing out on a lot of opportunity.
In the end, it's all about getting the right look for your home so that when that interested buyer clicks on your listing, they say WOW!
(FYI - the first home was found to have a spring running through it. From English Russia)
In today's issue of the The Current, Angela Manese-Lee wrote of the poorly kept secret that Olive Garden is bringing it's all-you-can-eat breadsticks and salad to Christiansburg. The addition of the restaurant is just one of many changes that the Pennyslvania Real Estate Investment Trust, which owns the New River Valley mall, is making to increase consumer interest in the mall and keep retail dollars in the New River Valley. Other than a multi-plex cinema, Panera Bread and Dick's Sporting Goods, no other announcements have been made regarding potential retailers but further announcements are expected in the coming weeks.
Today's announcement reminded me of the effort the City of Roanoke is making with MyRetailRoanoke.com, and I thought I'd mention it once more. Most of us shop in both Valleys and it only makes sense that we would be interested in what retailers are brought to the area, so if you haven't checked out the site and registered your vote, make sure to do so. As today's article mentioned, retailers are listening to what consumers are saying ... so get involved, and enjoy those breadsticks!
Read recently on Smith Real Estate Services' blog, this post about how to make more money on your real estate investments. It's a good article about how the returns investing can bring can be controlled in more ways then we realize. The text is copied below, thanks to the guys at Smith Real Estate Services for doing such a good job on this ...
1.Know your holding period
the amount of time you plan to hold an investment property is an
important consideration in determining what you will pay for a property. You make your money going into an investment.
in the market and/or area could dramatically affect the value of your
property. For example, if you buy in a redevelopment area, you may
plan to buy the property at a low price, renovate it an then lease it
out for significant cash flow. If you are among the first to renovate
in the area, it may take you awhile to lease out the space.
your goal is to hold this property for 2 years and you are the only one
in the block renovating, you may not realize a very dramatic return,
even after you renovate. However, if your holding period is 5 years
and others are making significant improvements in the area, you would
most likely see a dramatic increase in your property value.
2.Choose the right agent/broker
There are four key factors to consider when making your selection:
Ongoing communication with you about your property.
3.Set the right price
Performance measures are ratios (ie. cap rate, cash on cash, etc). Working
with performance measures can often lead to opinions, causing you to
either leave money on the table or price your property out of the
Measures of value allow you to make comparisons between investments and and take into account the time value of money. When
you can reduce numbers to a comparable measure that takes into account
the most relevant factors of property ownership, then you have numbers you can use for sound decision making in pricing.
Cast a broad net. You and/ or your agent/broker may have knowledge of certain buyers. Those buyers may not be buying your specific property at this time. For this reason, it is important to get the message out to as many people as possible. After all, you do not know where your next buyer is!
and Money are what most deal points break down to. Because your
agent/broker works for you, when they understand your objectives, they
can make sure you keep the deal in play while protecting your
interests. If the deal dies, you want it dead because you were unable
to reach an agreement on your terms.
6.Post Contract details
A time line with accountability is key. It is not just the job of the escrow officer to make sure all of your details are handled on time. A detail-oriented professional should be a part of your team. This can help you avoid those last minute details that can kill your deal.
Kim! Kim's comment regarding the cold won the prize. Our spell checker didn't like her response, but it met our criteria for getting to the point - "I kant type ... fngerz 2 cold ..."
Seems to get the point across, doesn't it? Kim wins two gift certificates to Texas Steakhouse, so she can - in their words - Eat Like She Means It. Whatever that means, but I'm sure she'll be able to warm up around a bowl of soup or something. Stay on your toes - we'll have another drawing soon!
The Habitat for Humanity's ReStore opened this past Saturday here in Christiansburg and was a fantastic opening day success! NRVliving.com's own Aaron Doyle, a Habitat for Humanity board member, posted about the store's grand opening last week, and I've "recycled" her text below. Make sure to check out the store - it's a great opportunity to have them here in our area, and don't forget to get involved. Local volunteerism is the foundation of a healthy community! And now, without further adieu, the post ...
Take a little Home Depot and mix in some
Goodwill thrift store, and you get Habitat for Humanity's newest home
improvement center concept: The "ReStore". Habitat ReStores, home
improvement centers for new and used building supplies and housewares,
are cropping up all over the country. While the size and availability
of products in each store differs, the basic concept is a store that
offers home improvement items at a fraction of retail value. Most, if
not all, of the items are donated to the stores, then sold to the
public at reasonable prices. The proceeds from all sales go toward
supporting Habitat for Humanity's mission of building decent,
affordable housing with families in need.
The New River Valley is set to open its own ReStore on February 10,
2007, at the old Hill's shopping center in Christiansburg, which most
recently housed Elements Home Furnishings & Memory Lane Antique
Mall (located at the junction of the Route 460 bypass and Route 11,
near Exit 118 at Interstate 81). The NRV ReStore will feature new
items such as patio furniture, plumbing fixtures, and bathroom vanities
from "big-box" stores as well as used items from individual donors.
Tools - hardware - doors - windows - you name it! Come out to the
grand opening on the 10th to see all of the awesome deals on home
If you have extra supplies around the house or are planning a
remodeling project, consider donating your items to your closest
Habitat for Humanity ReStore. This is an excellent way to reuse or
recycle your materials! For more information at the ReStore concept,
Lately, I've met with several potential sellers that are all considering selling their home at a time when there's a lot of inventory on the market, and buyers are having the opportunity to take their time when reviewing properties. As listing agents we are always looking for ways to set our listings apart from the competition and one way in which to do that is to offer a home warranty. There are plenty of companies out there that offer great home warranties, including the one that we use in my office, American Home Shield. It should be noted that I'm not advocating AHS over any other; nor do I receive any financial benefit from recommending their service ... there are plenty of other good plans out there, just Google the search term home warranty plans and do the research yourself. But I DO consider the warranty to be an essential piece of the puzzle when looking at what sets your home apart.
When you buy a new home, there is a warranty attached to the house guaranteeing that the home's plumbing, electrical, and HVAC systems will work for at least a 12-month period. Major appliances will also be covered, so if anything breaks - and it will - during the warranty period then for a small deductible (usually less than $75) repairs can be made at no additional charge to the homeowner. But it's important to remember that not all homes are new, and older homes (for obvious reasons) are likely to need more and more repairs over time ... this is why home warranties are something everyone should consider, whether they're getting ready to sell their home or have just purchased a home with no warranty attached. Under the plan we use in my office, the seller of the property can put a home warranty on the property that will cover the property for a period of six months prior to closing, and then another twelve months at no cost to the new purchaser - 18 months of coverage for the cost of 12, which usually runs $397.00. For purchasers of homes without warranties, you can often purchase a warranty outside of closing for the same price, as long as it's done within a reasonable amount of time from settlement (usually less than 30 days).
An interesting concept, and an added layer of protection when putting money into such a sizeable and profitable investment as real estate. The real estate website Zillow (which we at NRVLiving.com highly recommend) has a good wiki on the benefits and advantages of home warranties. Check it out, and whether you're buying, selling, or just own real estate with no intention of moving, consider a home warranty to protect your investment.
Exciting news out of the NRVLiving offices this morning, as the NRVLiving and NRVLiving Green blogs have just been posted to Roanoke.com's blog section! We're thrilled to be a part of this initiative - the Roanoke Times has been making tremendous investments into it's online presence, and as many of you know we feel this is going to be the next wave of information of distribution so we're excited to be a part of that. Thanks to Jim Ellison for his help with the coding, and to Stuart Mease as well. If you haven't read Stuart's blog on connections and networking throughout both the New River and Roanoke Valleys, you're missing out!
We've all done it - during the winter months when we're shut indoors and can't open the windows without letting in an Arctic blast, we've gone out and posted all kinds of air fresheners and scented candles throughout the house to give it a "Crashing Surf" smell. All of a sudden, we're transported to sandy beaches with hints of suntan lotion in the air. Oh, we can't wait for summer vacation.
One man's beach is another man's allergy. I went in a home the other day that reminded me of this - you walked in the door and were immediately greeted by an unbearable scent of ... something. I don't know what the fragrance was, or even where it was coming from, but it was just so overpowering that I found it hard to do an accurate assessment of the house for my buyer client. Then, while surfing some of my favorite blogs last night I came across this bit by Bonnie Erickson, a REALTOR and blogger in Minnesota I read on occasion, and her post about Vacant House Smells. Interesting notes if you've moved out of a house you're selling, and something I'm going to suggest to my clients with second homes. Enjoy - you won't have to plug your nose for this one.
A few weeks ago I mentioned MyRetailRoanoke.com, a site set up to attract the attention of regional and national merchants and show them the interest consumers in Southwest Virginia have in their products. Well, the site went live yesterday and has been a TREMENDOUS success - as of this posting, it looks as if 416 registered users have submitted 2512 ballots, and the Top 10 retailers are impressive ... names like IKEA, Banana Republic, and the Cheesecake Factory all top the list. It's an impressive statement made by the consumers of Southwest Virginia; you can find out more at their website, sign up and submit your vote. What's important for you in our area? Thanks to Stuart and the City of Roanoke for their efforts on this ...