Home Buying 101: The Appraisal

Home Buying 101: The Appraisal

You’ve spent months looking and finally settled on the house of your dreams. The seller even accepted your offer! Congrats! It’s not *quite* time to break out the bubbly yet, though! So many home buyers and sellers have questions about the appraisal process, we wanted to make sure we addressed it on our blog! For more tips on how to buy your first home, click here!

house landscaping lawn buying

What’s an Appraisal?

The appraisal is basically your lender making sure that the home is worth what you’re offering (in case they need to get their money back!) The lender uses an unbiased third-party to examine the home and any improvements the seller has made, as well as how it compares with similar properties that have sold in your area within the past six months.

neighborhood comps appraisal

What Does It Involve?

Appraisers take quite a few details into account when determining their valuation of your dream home! They’ll be looking very closely at the square footage, condition of the home, any improvements the seller has made and any factors that might negatively affect the home’s value. They’re not home inspectors so they won’t be looking over every little detail—they’re just getting a general idea of what the home’s worth.

home appraisal buying garage

What Happens Next?

Once the appraiser is finished, you’ll get a copy of the report. The fee for the appraisal is typically included in your closing costs—around $300 to $400. If the appraised value is higher than your sales price, you’re in the clear! You’ll have instant equity in the home and your lender will feel confident in loaning you the money needed to purchase it. It’s when the appraised value comes in lower than the sales price that you’ll run into trouble. The lender won’t pony up more than the home is worth so the seller either has to lower the sales price or the buyer needs to come up with the remainder out of pocket.

If lowering the price or coughing up the difference won’t work, it’s not the end of the world! You can choose to walk away from the contract and have your earnest money deposit returned or even pay for another appraisal. Keep in mind: not being able to buy your “dream house” because of a low appraisal is actually a good thing—you won’t be overpaying for a house that’s not worth it!

How To Sell Your House Fast

How To Sell Your House Fast

Ever wonder why some homes sell faster than others? There are plenty of examples of similarly priced homes that had drastically different days on market! Here are our 5 best tips for speeding up a home sale:

1. Clean It Up 

There’s no beating around the bush, the house needs to be clean. If you’re not sure if your house is passably clean, get a friend to give you an honest opinion or just hire a cleaning service. Ideally, decluttering and deep cleaning should happen BEFORE listing photos are taken. Don’t make potential buyers have to imagine what the house might look like tidied up–get rid of clutter both inside and outside the house and put some elbow grease into making the place sparkle! Cabinets and drawers should be wiped down, any scuffs removed from the walls and kitchen appliances polished. Shampooing your carpets or mopping the floors can make a big difference!

 couch table plant

2. Consider Staging

Take a look at some of the other homes for sale in your area. Some of them will be vacant, some will still have the seller’s furniture and some may be professionally staged. Which looks more appealing to you? Staging is an extra expense but for many sellers it is worth the trouble! You can cut down on staging costs if the home is only staged for the listing pictures. If you’re really pressed for time or can’t afford to hire a staging company, focus on staging the bedrooms and living rooms, adding art pieces strategically to make the home feel more comfortable.

3. Professional Listing Photos

Dimly lit iPhone pictures aren’t going to cut it nowadays! The pros know the best ways to frame and shoot various rooms and can adjust for non-optimal lighting situations. Professional photographers will also have wide-angle lenses to fit the entire room in the photo and video and drone capabilities if your home requires them. Your CBE agent will know several great real estate photographers who can make your home look amazing!
 clean white kitchen

4. Make It Available

Once your home is on the market, get ready to spend a lot of time away from your home so buyers and real estate agents can view the property comfortably without you or your pets lurking around. For at least the first week or so that the home is on the market, it’s best to accept all showings within normal viewing hours and to make the home as accessible as possible.

5. Price It Right

Bottom line: Buyers are mostly concerned with their bottom line. Pricing the home appropriately from the beginning will drastically cut down on days on market and help you capitalize on the initial buzz from potential buyers. Your Coldwell Banker Elite agent can help you decide on the right price for your home by looking at a variety of factors: your house’s age, any updates, square footage, and the school district. They can also pull up comparable homes, or “comps,” that have sold in the area to evaluate the best price.
3 Energy Upgrades That Appeal to Buyers

3 Energy Upgrades That Appeal to Buyers

 Most sellers (wrongly) assume that upgrading your home before putting it on the market is a waste of money. Today’s savvy buyers may take a second look or even end up paying more for a home with energy-efficient features! With all of the smart home tech coming out nowadays, it’s easier and cheaper than ever to update your home! Here are a few home improvements you can make without spending a fortune.
 
Install Energy-Efficient Products and Features
Consider investing in energy-efficient appliances throughout your home such as a washer and dryer or refrigerator.  If you can’t afford to make that big of an investment, a smart thermostat or smart lights can help cut down on energy use and utility expenses. Smart thermostats learn the user’s habits and preferences with the ultimate goal of creating cost savings and comfort. In addition to making the future homeowner’s life easier, savvy modern buyers will recognize immediately the value of having a smart home in terms of energy-efficiency.
 
Replace Windows
Energy-efficient window replacements can also make a difference in attracting buyers and lowering utility bills. Windows are the first place many homeowners and energy auditors examine for leaks and cracks that can lead to higher energy bills. New windows can really spruce up the exterior of the home, too!
 
Put in a New Furnace
Home heating costs can add up, and replacing old or damaged furnaces can be pricey. However, new energy-efficient furnaces are becoming increasingly popular and more affordable. It may be beneficial to conduct a home energy audit to determine where efficiency can be improved. This is a great way for you to pinpoint where in the home needs extra attention, energy-wise.
9 Overlooked Items to Prep Your Home For Sale

9 Overlooked Items to Prep Your Home For Sale

You’ve prepped your home for sale in every imaginable way–fresh paint, a deep cleaning, new landscaping, decluttered closets, even tidying up the garage!  Your house looks better than it ever has and you’re ready to hit the market! Before you stick that “For Sale” sign in the ground, consider gathering these key pieces of information to make your life a bit easier down the road!
house landscaping lawn
1.  Survey
Do you have a copy of a current survey on your home?  Buyers want to know about property lines, easements, conservation buffers, whether there’s room for a pool, if the property line extends to the water behind your home, etc. Providing a survey upfront will help to eliminate these types of concerns before your property is under contract.
2.  Floorplan 
Buyers often need to know room dimensions as it helps with determining furniture placement and to ensure their furniture will fit in the new space.  As any real estate agent can attest, many hours have been spent measuring spaces while looking at homes and comparing that against the existing buyer’s furniture dimensions.
 kitchen stove sink white
3.  Utility Bills 
Buyers want to get an idea of what they can expect the heating and cooling bills to be in a home.  Review your bills over the last one to two years to get an average in the various seasons, or call your local utility provider as they can often provide you with information on the high, average and low costs.  This information can be very beneficial when a buyer sits down to number crunch their total costs of owning a home.  If you had an unusually high or low bill, provide some explanation to accompany the numbers.
4.  Pest Control
If you have any type of regular pest control treatments done on your property, compile information as to who the provider is, what you have done, how much you pay and how often the company comes out to treat the property.  You may want to keep a copy of your service agreement handy for the buyer’s reference.
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6.  Insurance
Buyers especially want to know who a seller uses for their homeowners insurance and how much they pay.  This is especially important in higher risk areas (where there are hurricanes, floods, fires, etc.) With homeowners insurance potentially more difficult to obtain in some areas, using the existing seller’s insurance company can help streamline the process.
7. Product Manuals and Warranty Documents
Gather the various product manuals for all items that will be staying in the home such as appliances, water heater, heating and cooling system, ceiling fans, pool equipment, etc.  If your home came with any warranties, be sure to include these for the new owner as well.  Putting all of these in one large folder makes it easy for everything to be readily accessible in one place for the new buyer.
 
 8.  Service Providers
Compile a list of all service providers/vendors and their contact information who you have used on your home: lawn service, pool service, A/C company, etc. While a new buyer may or may not choose to use these services, they will certainly appreciate having resources available to them and may elect to initially use them as they make the transition to living in your home.
9.  Covenants and Restrictions, Neighborhood Rules and Information  
This is key critical information for a new owner to have on hand.  A contract may likely hinge on the buyer’s review of this information, so it’s easiest to have it available ahead of time.  If you don’t have these, contact your neighborhood’s association president or management company for assistance in obtaining a copy. Many of these documents are matters of public record and are available by going online to the appropriate municipality’s website.
 coldwell banker real estate white house
Whenever you’re ready to list, we can work together to create an informational package or binder that you can provide to prospective purchasers that come through the home with the information mentioned above.  Gathering this information before you put your home on the market will save time and make the process that more efficient once you find a buyer.  It may even help your home to sell faster as all of this information is available upfront, eliminating the need for guesswork and waiting on answers while another property could possibly come on the market to grab the buyer’s attention.
Home of the Brave:  2018 Veterans & Active Military Home Buyers Profile

Home of the Brave: 2018 Veterans & Active Military Home Buyers Profile

veteran home buyers

We’re lucky to be located near several military bases and government contractors so serving veterans and active duty military members is one of our top priorities. We’ve taken a closer look at the 2018 Veterans & Active Military Home Buyers Profile report to analyze the differences between recent active-duty and veteran homebuyers and sellers versus those who have never served.

One of our main takeaways was that differences in household composition and financing options incentivized home buying demand for veteran and active military buyers and sellers.  Over half of active-duty and 41% of veterans purchased a home with no money down (100% financed) as opposed to just 7% of civilian home buyers. The majority (77%) of active-duty military used a VA loan and 15% used a conventional loan. If you’re one of those service members that might be interested in no-money-down financing, we’d be happy to connect you with loan officers that can find the right loan product for you.

Interestingly, active-duty military buyers were most likely to buy a multi-generational home with an average of 4 bedrooms and 2 baths. The report found that active-duty military buyers were most likely to have children under the age of 18 in the home. Active-duty buyers’ main reasons for moving in the future were either for a job change or to flip their current home. If “flipping” or remodeling a home as an investment before your next PCS might be something you’re interested in, we have plenty of experience finding suitable “fixer-upper” homes with enough room for the whole family!

On the other hand, veteran buyers were the largest group purchasing a home as a married couple and had the oldest median age. They were also the most likely group to purchase a home as a single male. Veterans and non-military buyers tended to buy smaller, less-expensive homes–around 3 bedrooms and 2 baths. Whether you’re looking to stay in the Northern Virginia area or relocate to the shores of Lake Anna or the peace of the countryside, we have offices and knowledgable agents all over the region to help you with your next move.

Civilian or non-military buyers typically listed a better neighborhood as their biggest reason to move in the future, and bought the smallest homes of all three groups. Non-military buyers were also the least likely to purchase a multi-generational home and moved the shortest distances of all groups.

We are so honored to assist our active-duty and veteran military members find their new “Home of the Brave” in the greater Northern Virginia region! Whether you’re looking to accommodate your growing family, downsize after retirement or just find a project home to work on before your next PCS, Coldwell Banker Elite would be proud to help.

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Celebrate the Fourth of July in Fredericksburg!

Celebrate the Fourth of July in Fredericksburg!

It’s almost Independence Day! Even though it falls on a weekday this year, there’s plenty of celebrations going on around the greater Fredericksburg area! We’ve compiled all the firework shows and festivals happening near Fredericksburg and a couple that are just a short drive away so you can start planning how you’ll celebrate our country’s 242nd birthday!

Fredericksburg-Area Festivities

Heritage Festival & Parade

July 4th, 7:45am-10pm

A good old-fashioned small-town parade and festival! Watch the early-morning race and kids’ parade or browse the craft show and classic cars while you wait for the fireworks to start!  The parade, hosted by the Blue Star Mothers of Fredericksburg, will feature children in costume with decorated bicycles. The parade will start at 9:30 a.m. at the Lafayette VRE lot and go first to Caroline Street and on to George Street, along Princess Anne Street and back to Lafayette Boulevard. Awards will be presented for the best costume and most decorated bicycle.

The Festival of the Streets with around 150 craft show merchants and artists will be set up along Sophia Street, and will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Other activities, centered around Old Mill Park, will include a moon bounce, face painting and a photo booth. There will also be a gyroscope ride. The Misfit Acres Petting Zoo will be at the Festival of the Streets. Live music will be playing throughout the day, specifically Patsy and the Country Classic Band and Mike Gill!  Don’t miss the Presentation of the Colors at noon by the American Legion with a special welcome by Mayor Greenlaw!

 

Ferry Farm 4th of July

July 4th, 10am-5pm

Peek inside the newly-completed, interpretive 18th-century replica of the Washington house where the Washington family lived from the beginning of 1738. Kids can learn to churn butter, watch archaeology presentations and even visit with  “Gen. George Washington,” members of the Patawomeck tribe and Revolutionary and Civil War re-enactors. Make sure you stay for the flag retirement ceremony at 1pm with Rep. Rob Wittman and the American Legion Honor Guard. Only $1 admission and you can catch the bus or trolley from Downtown!

Fredericksburg Fireworks

July 4th, 4:30pm-10pm

Head on down to John Lee Pratt Memorial Park for the July 4th Spectacular! There’ll be live music by Groove Motive and the US Navy Band Country Current as well as plenty of games, food trucks and face painting to keep the kids busy until the fireworks start! The show starts at 9:30pm and the fireworks should be visible from John Lee Pratt Memorial Park and Old Mill Park! Bring a lawn chair if you’d like, but no grills, sparklers, tents or alcohol is allowed and dogs must be on leashes!

A Short Drive from Fredericksburg

July 4, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Every year Stratford Hall, the home of four generations of the Lees of Virginia, hosts its free Family Fun Festival to celebrate Independence Day.  Colonial games, a scavenger hunt for children and self-guided tours of the Great House, at 483 Great House Road in Stratford, will be among the activities offered during this year’s July 4 festival!

 

National Independence Day Parade

July 4, 11:45 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Constitution Avenue NW from 7th Street NW to 17th Street NW: Marching bands, fife and drum corps, floats, military units, giant balloons, equestrian, drill teams and more celebrate Independence Day in this patriotic, flag-waving, red, white and blue celebration of America’s birthday.

A Capitol Fourth

July 4, 8 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.

Co-sponsored by the National Park Service and the National Symphony Orchestra, join Jimmy Buffett and the Broadway cast of Escape to Margaritaville, pop superstars the Temptations and the Beach Boys, country music star Luke Combs, host John Stamos, and many more as they honor our country’s 242nd birthday. Gates will open at 3 p.m on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol.

DC Fireworks Display

July 4, 9:09 p.m. – 9:27 p.m.

Independence Day culminates with a spectacular fireworks display over the National Mall. The fireworks will be launched from the area of the Reflecting Pool, and will be visible from many locations throughout D.C. and Northern Virginia. The fireworks will be cancelled in case of heavy rain, thunderstorms or high winds.

Marketing Your Listings with CBx

Marketing Your Listings with CBx

CBx

Marketing your listings doesn’t have to feel like a shot in the dark—what if you could pinpoint exactly who was most likely to buy your  listing, where they’re likely to move from and speak directly to them? Coldwell Banker has done exactly that and given our agents a huge leg-up on the competition with the CBx technology suite.

Only available to Coldwell Banker agents, CBx transforms “big data” into critical market intelligence. Using machine learning, proprietary algorithms and easy to understand displays, the CBx Technology Suite analyzes consumer, demographic and economic information from various sources to provide agents with insights they can’t get anywhere else. With CBx, Coldwell Banker agents can target the most likely buyers to get results fast.

Agents can set price adjustments to allow for improvements and desirable features and show how your listing compares to other homes in the area. Once the price is set, the app identifies likely markets where potential buyers currently live. On top of that, Coldwell Banker is pumping even more horsepower into the app with the brand new “Propensity to Move” data point. This takes the Buyer Profile Map to the next level by not only telling you how a target area compares to your listing with the percentage match, but also telling you the percentage of people that are likely to move in that target area.

CBx allows you to tell unique “stories” about neighborhoods and specific homes which inform your approach to a sales strategy. With the data from CBx, Coldwell Banker agents can better target their online ads to reach exactly who’s most likely to buy their listing. This approach saves valuable DOM and marketing dollars when you’re trying to sell a particular listing, but it also allows you see what kind of audience you should be targeting through your own personal marketing.

Want access to CBx? Find out more about how to take advantage of Coldwell Banker Elite’s technology and tools here!

CBx: Your Agent’s Secret Weapon

CBx: Your Agent’s Secret Weapon

Selling your home can feel like a shot in the dark sometimes—who should my agent be advertising my home to? What type of person is most likely to want to live in my area? How does my home stack up against the other homes in the neighborhood? What if you could pinpoint exactly who was most likely to buy your home and speak directly to them? Coldwell Banker has done exactly that and given their agents a huge leg-up on the competition with the CBx technology suite.

Only available to Coldwell Banker agents, CBx transforms “big data” into critical market intelligence. Using machine learning, proprietary algorithms and easy to understand displays, the CBx Technology Suite analyzes consumer, demographic and economic information from various sources to provide agents with insights they can’t get anywhere else.

 

Agents can set price adjustments to allow for improvements and desirable features and show how your home compares to other homes in the area. Once the price is set, the app identifies likely markets where potential buyers currently live. With CBx, Coldwell Banker agents can target the most likely buyers to get results fast. On top of that, Coldwell Banker is pumping even more horsepower into the app with the brand new “Propensity to Move” data point. This takes the Buyer Profile Map to the next level by not only telling you how a target area compares to your home with the percentage match, but also telling you the percentage of people that are likely to move in that target area.

CBx allows your agent to tell unique “stories” about neighborhoods and specific homes and inform their approach to a sales strategy. With the data from CBx, your Coldwell Banker agent can better target their online ads to reach exactly who’s most likely to buy your home. This approach saves you valuable time and money when you’re looking to move!

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4 Essential Home Upgrades for 2018

4 Essential Home Upgrades for 2018

Keeping up with the latest home trends and decor styles can be exhausting! Here’s our picks for the most essential home upgrades for 2018–bonus: most are cheap and can easily be completed in a weekend!

Smarten Up!

Smart home gadgets have never been cheaper or more accessible! It’s time to jump on the smart home trend, your home will appreciate it! For complete smart home newbies, try a Nest Thermostat or a Ring Doorbell. They’re the easiest to install and will make your life way easier. For smart home buffs, check out the new Sengled lightbulbs that can play music via Bluetooth! Surround sound without any wiring=win!

removable-wallpaper-dots-bedroom

Try a Fun Removable Wallpaper

A super easy alternative to letting the kids paint their own room is removable wallpaper! There are so many cool designs and patterns available now and it’s perfect for a no-commitment room refresh. Search Etsy for more custom chic designs! It’s literally as easy as peel-and-stick for this quick upgrade–the wallpaper comes off easily if you change your mind!

Get Rid of a Popcorn Ceiling

Popcorn is for movie theaters, not your ceiling. Popcorn ceilings can really date a home and subconsciously influence a buyer to offer less for your home. It’s not complicated to get rid of but it can be super messy—this would be a great home upgrade to leave to professionals.

Go Bold with Flooring

Big, bold flooring choices are all over Pinterest right now! Laminate and vinyl planks are crazy easy to install so this is a great DIY upgrade! Switching up the flooring can really change a room’s atmosphere and make a big impression on prospective buyers. Spring for luxury vinyl planks or laminate with underlayment attached to make this project even easier–a typical kitchen could probably be completed in a weekend! Just make sure you’re choosing a neutral color that will complement any existing appliances or cabinets!

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This Weekend in Fredericksburg: June 2-3

This Weekend in Fredericksburg: June 2-3

SATURDAY

rock the river

Rock the River

Old Mill Park – 11am-8pm

Join us at Old Mill Park in Downtown Fredericksburg for the fourth annual Rock the River FXBG celebration. Our fourth event is shaping up to be our biggest yet, featuring live musical performances from Karen Jonas, The Feathered Fish and Swift Technique. Rock the River 2018 welcomes two new event partners, including Gravatt Entertainment (Sound & Stage) and wonder (marketing and promotions).

Beer tasting and pint pour tickets will be going on sale shortly! Other event details and times are still being arranged. Be sure to check back here or at rocktheriverfxbg.com for more details as they are decided.

Stuff the Cruiser

Stafford & Spotsylvania Walmart – 10am-3pm

The Fredericksburg, Stafford, and Spotsylvania law enforcement agencies have teamed up with TRIAD and the Healthy Generations Area Agency on Aging (Rappahannock AAA) to collect items to give to seniors in need in the area. Your support will help our local senior citizens who are less fortunate. Please purchase any items listed in the flyer and drop them off at the stores listed on your way out.

Virginia Renaissance Faire

Lake Anna Winery – 10am-5pm

Back and bigger than ever! The faire brings a unique brand of educational interactive family entertainment. Join in the revelry as the little 16th century town of Staffordshire England celebrates the arrival of Elizabeth, Queen of England and her court. Oh yes there are TURKEY LEGS and Live Jousting. check out the website for activities and daily schedules www.VaRF.org #VaRF

Falling For Freedom

Skydive Orange – 10am-5pm

Join Operation Enduring Warrior and Skydive Orange for this spectacular skydiving event. Held from June 1 – 3, Skydive Orange will coordinate tandem jumps and donate a portion of each registration to OEW. Now is your chance to try what you’ve never tried… or to return to familiar skies!

Not only will a portion of tandem proceeds go to OEW but ALL JUMPS will count, as Skydive Orange will be donating $1 for every airplane slot, so the more licensed jumpers that come out and participate, the better!

TANDEM PRICE: $259 cash / $270 credit – Military discount $15 OFF total balance
Video and Photos: $125 cash / $130 credit

To book your tandem skydive, you may call Skydive Orange at (703) 759-3483 or book online at www.skydiveorange.com with a non-refundable $50 deposit per person jumping and you pay the remainder when you arrive. Anyone jumping MUST be at least 18 years old, under 220 lbs and in good physical health.

Mark your calendars, book your jumps and plan an awesome weekend with friends and family. In the past Skydive Orange has worked with OEW and plans on doing as much as we can with this incredible organization in the future. We believe the impact OEW makes on the community is immeasurable.

Plantation Cooking Techniques at Montpelier

Montpelier – 10am-3pm

Learn about foodways of colonial America from Michael W. Twitty, a noted culinary and cultural historian and the creator of “Africulinaria,” the first blog devoted to African American historic foodways and their legacies. Twitty will bring the South Yard alive from 10:00am-2:00pm demonstrating cooking techniques and discussing how food moved from garden to table during plantation community life in the Madison era.

At 3:00pm, Twitty will be in the Grand Salon at the David M. Rubenstein Visitor Center to discuss his James Beard award-winning memoir, “The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South.” A book signing will follow.