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Avoid Water Shortages with Xeriscaping

In many parts of the country, from California to Texas, green lawns are not indigenous to the region. Non-native landscaping contributes heavily to water shortages in many areas, causing watering restrictions.

How can homeowners help? By adopting a concept called Xeriscaping. Xeriscaping is simply creating a landscape that features native plants that don’t require extra water and are capable of withstanding native drought conditions.

While the look of a xeriscaped garden or yard of cacti and hardy shrubs is much different from the lush carpet of St. Augustine or Bermuda grass, you can easily create attractive landscaping that demands less water.

Simply pay attention to your yard’s shape, size, slope, sun, and shade. Choose grasses, plants and flowers that are “native” to your area and can grow on the typical regional annual rainfall without additional watering needed. Group plants and flowers with similar watering requirements in zones, so that any extra watering is more efficient.

Zoned areas may be broken up by walkways, berms (mounds), bits of turf, glass, walls, large boulders, river rocks and other stones. Add mulch to accent the plants and flowers, as well as to provide a healthy root environment, which also reduces the need for extra watering. In some cases, artificial turf may be an option where it can be effectively used in small areas to accent flowers and plants.

The total effect can be quite beautiful. You’ll use less water, lower your costs and maintenance, and your yard will attract fewer pests.

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Three Responsibilities of Homebuyers

Nothing says, “Welcome to Adulthood” like buying a home. You’re taking on very real responsibilities, but you may not realize how far they reach and impact others. Meeting them will reward you and your family for years to come with more equity, happier neighbors and a better living environment for your family.

Financial responsibilities:Paying your mortgage on time helps you build better credit and gets you lower interest rates if you refinance or make a new purchase loan some day. Now’s not the time to get overextended with new furniture, remodeling or other debt.

Limit the credit you actively use and pay off balances every month. Don’t add new charges until you’ve paid off your balances. Try to save as much as you comfortably can with the goal to build at least six months of cash so you can make your house payments if you become ill, lose your job or face an emergency.

Neighborhood responsibilities: When you buy a home, your household becomes part of the neighborhood. Protect your investment and that of your neighbors by keeping your lawn and trees trimmed, your home freshly painted and repaired, and toys and trash picked up from the yard.

Household responsibilities:Your home should help make you and your loved ones safer and happier. Don’t take on more house than you can comfortably afford. Try to choose the best home that suits the needs of your household without creating anxiety between you and your spouse over monthly bills.

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Selling Your Home In a Cooling Market

Homebuyers tend to move like a herd – they stampede together and they graze together. Signs your market is easing may include showings with fewer offers, longer days on the market (tracked by your area’s multiple listing service) and more questions, contingencies and demands from buyers.

I can help you with sales and staging strategies and bring offers from qualified buyers. So what can you do to help?

Make your home pristine.
There’s a huge difference between a home that’s “move-in ready” and one that “needs work.” Show pride of ownership by putting your home in top move-in condition so that your home is more appealing to buyers than any other home in your area and price range.

Price it right.
You can expect lower offers in a slower market, but homes that are priced fairly and in pristine condition will be treated with respect and enthusiasm by buyers. Consider pricing slightly below market value or offer to include all appliances to attract more interest from buyers.

Be willing to negotiate. 
Negotiation works best when both parties get what they want. You might take less money in exchange for a cash offer or quick closing. Your buyer may be willing to pay your asking price, but may ask you to pay their closing costs.

You may sell your home for a little less than you were expecting, but you’ll find that a slowing market means you’ll be able to buy your next home for less, too.

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How Late Payments Impact Your Credit Scores

 

FICO scores, the Fair Isaac Corporation credit-scoring system, are used by lenders to determine your creditworthiness. The lower your scores, the more risk you pose to lenders, resulting in higher interest rates or loan denial.

Scores fluctuate for many reasons, including your debt-to-income ratio, making minimum payments only, credit inquiries and other factors. But nothing impacts credit scores like a missed rent or revolving credit payment. And, for the best-scoring consumers, the drop in credit scores is the most punishing.

Making timely payments is one of the easiest things you can do to show you’re using credit responsibly, which is why your payment history accounts for the largest part of your FICO score—35 percent.

Late payments remain on your credit report seven years from the original delinquency date, regardless if the payment is made and the account is current or if the account is closed and the payment is never received, according to Experian.com.

The more recent the late payment, the more it can impact your scores. If you’re late or missed a payment, make the account current as quickly as possible. The length of time it takes to recover will depend on whether the late payment is an anomaly or part of a habitual pattern.

Establish a current history of on-time payments. Use at least one credit card, paying in full each month to avoid finance charges.

On-time payments will add positive activity to offset negatives from the past, and over time your credit scores will rebound.

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Open House Sunday, April 29th, 2018 from 12-5 PM

 

Come join us for an extended open house on Sunday, April 29th, 2018 from 12-5 PM. 

Best of both worlds – nature meets city life! Relaxing balcony with scenic woodland view; trails, parks, golf & swim in close proximity. Enjoy your coffee as morning light pours into large living room & gather for meals at cozy kitchen banquette. Devour books in bedroom window seat, or head out for entertainment. Reston Metro, Dining, Movies, Shopping, Reston Town Center all within 1 mile. Welcome home!

Bentana Park Community in Reston, Virginia

Scenic wooded view from balcony

Bathroom, granite countertops and ceramic tile flooring

Kitchen with granite countertops and cozy banquette style table

Virtually staged living room

Virtually staged bedroom

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Rainy Day Projects Around The House

April showers bring May flowers, but they also give you time to check a few things off your to do list on a rainy weekend. Here are a few projects you can get done:

Spring clean.

Dust all the blinds, wipe down the quarter-round molding, and clean under the beds and furniture you haven’t moved in a while. Organize your closets. Unless you’re extremely neat all the time, you’re bound to have items you can sort. Create sections or piles to keep, throw away, and donate. Getting rid of clutter makes you feel good and it also makes your home look better.

Paint something.

Paint may take longer to dry in wet weather but it’s still fun to sand and finish an old table or spruce up a nightstand. Get your house paint from the garage and touch up dings on the doors and walls. Or paint some small terra cotta pots and fill them with plants for your kitchen window.

Fix something.

Even if you don’t know how, it’s time to stop that leaky faucet or install that new sink. Just visit the Internet for instructions or invite a knowledgeable friend to help, and then serve them dinner.

Make updating plans.

A rainy day is a good time to assess your home and think about projects you want to do later. Make a wish list of things you want to accomplish, like updating the kitchen or finding new lamps for the den.

Five Must-do Improvements For Resale

Most buyers want a move-in ready home that’s clean, updated and functional and they’re willing to pay more to get what they want. Here are just a few improvements you can do that will go a long way with buyers.

  1. Update the finishes. If you’re going to improve a room, update everything, even the light switches. Get rid of popcorn ceilings, which are universally reviled by buyers. If you have wood floors, pull up your old carpet and polish the wood until it gleams.
  2. Reconvert the conversions. Conversions are usually awkward, such as garages turned into living spaces. The house and garage elevations are rarely the same, the driveway leads nowhere, and there’s no place to park cars away from the next hailstorm. Offer to reconvert on request.
  3. Paint neutrally. Nothing improves a home like fresh paint. As your real estate professional, I can help you choose sellable colors and finishes.
  4. Fix obvious problems. If you can see it, your buyer will see it, too, so fix the sticking door, the running toilet, the leaky faucet, the busted sprinkler head, the wobbly ceiling fan, the loose doorknob, and so on. Buyers are so turned off by dirt, so plan to deep clean every nook and corner. Hire a professional if you need help.
  5. Say “Welcome!” with curb appeal. Fresh modern paint on the front door, a new welcome mat, potted flowers, shiny new porch lights all show pride of ownership – something you want your buyers to feel, too.

Don’t Worry About Rising Interest Rates

National average 30-year fixed rate mortgage interest rates have been close to or well under four percent for nearly a decade. They should stay that low forever, right?

Don’t bet on it. A growing economy, the lowest unemployment rates we’ve seen in years, rising salaries, and a booming stock market don’t come without growing pains. There are fears of inflation and an increasing federal deficit, among many reasons why interest rates are expected to rise in 2018. What happens is that the Federal Reserve raises overnight borrowing rates to banks, causing banks to pass those higher costs onto borrowers. Car loans, credit cards and mortgage loans become more expensive.

But don’t let rising rates discourage you from buying a home. While you’re going to pay more for your loan in interest, with a correspondingly higher monthly payment, you’re getting higher standard tax deductions in 2018 ($13,000 to $24,000 for couples filing jointly, $6,500 to $12,000 for single filers.) Child care credits are more generous, and your mortgage interest payments are still tax deductible, up to loans of $750,000 or more.

According to the mortgage calculator at Bankrate.com, a home purchased by a borrower with excellent credit for $400,000, with 20 percent down ($80,000) and a benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage at 4%, would have a monthly payment of $1527.73. If rates hit 4.5%, the same borrower would pay $1621.39 monthly, or a difference of about $94. Roughly, every increase of an eighth of a point translates to a little less than $25 per month more in your payment. As always, consult your tax professional for specific advice.

Compare that to the tax breaks you’re getting, you’re ready to go.

Five Tips To Buying In A Fast Market

 

If you’re a buyer in a hot housing market, you may have already lost out on several homes already. How can you get the upper hand? Here are five tips:

  1. Get preapproved by a lender. Sharing financial information your lender requests will get you preapproved. You’ll know the limits on how much home you can afford, how much money to put down, and what your interest rate will be. A preapproval letter will assure the seller that you’re ready to buy.
  2. Trust me. I know the market, can feed you new listings that fit your criteria, and has many contacts to learn about homes coming onto the market which you wouldn’t get to see otherwise.
  3. Make a realistic must-have list. Pick a neighborhood, house type and price range with a limited number of features. Be prepared to make compromises – smaller, fewer bedrooms or baths.
  4. Consider less-than-perfect homes. Buying the worst house on the best block is a proven strategy. A home that needs repairs and updates will sell at a discount to other homes. Bringing your home up to the neighborhood standards is a quick route to building equity.
  5. Buy under your means. If you get into a bidding war, you’ll need a little wiggle room so you can compete. Many homes will sell above list price, so it’s smart to keep your cool because you know you can go up if you need to.
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Should You Sell or Remodel Your Home?

Anything that gets as much use as your home shows wear and tear after a few years. Colors and decorative styles look tired and outdated, or you may need more room due to an addition in the family. So do you sell or remodel and stay?

I can show you homes for sale that have the size, features and finishes you want, as well as create a comparative market analysis of homes like yours so you’ll know what you can reasonably expect to net, and if that is enough to help you qualify for your next home.

You’ll pay about 12% of the sales price and more in closing costs to sell and purchase another home. Moving costs are about $2,300, (4 movers at $200 per hour) for an intrastate move and about 7,400 pounds of household goods, according to the American Moving and Storage Association.

If you decide to remodel, make sure your design will meet your needs for years to come. You’ll need the right contractors, kitchen planners and interior designers to help you put it all together. You’ll also need to talk to your lender to learn how much you can borrow. Of course I am happy to recommend professionals if you are interested in moving forward on a home project.

Change is an evolution, and will bring some upheaval to your life. You’ll either have to open your home to workers or to buyers. But if you come out on the other side with what you and your household desire, it will all be worth it.