Virginia Beach Real Estate Blog by Tom Hubba
Going green is not just a new trend; it is a way of life that benefits not only the environment, but also your health — and your pocketbook.
Green living cuts down on carbon emissions and creates a healthier environment both inside and outside of a home. While green structures sometimes cost more initially, the money (and environment) saved in the long run is well worth the investment.
Owning a green Eagle Construction home inChesapeake Virginia has significant health benefits. Many conventional buildings are not properly ventilated and indoor air quality is often more polluted than the air outside.
Poor air quality is bad for your health and can aggravate asthma and allergies. Certified green properties tend to have excellent airflow and ventilation. They also use toxin-free materials in building and tend to have fewer problems with mold and mildew.
Homes are responsible for a significant portion of the carbon emissions on earth. A green home has a smaller carbon footprint since it is built with better insulation and fitted with energy-efficient appliances.
Green structures are built from sustainable or recycled materials that are meant to lower the impact on the environment. Proper green buildings also take advantage of natural lighting and airflow to reduce the use of electricity to light and to help warm and cool their interiors.
Green buildings are constructed to use less energy, which means you should pay less in energy costs. Ventilation systems in green structures are better insulated to reduce air leakage.
Builders also install fixtures that conserve water and are energy efficient. The initial cost might be slightly higher, but the monthly bills can be cut almost in half in many cases.
There are even more financial, environmental and health benefits to owning a green property. Living in a green home can allow you to save yourself money and help the earth, all while living in a healthy environment.
When deciding to sell a piece of Virginia Beach real estate, there are certain things you must disclose about the property to the buyer before the sale can go through.
Disclosure laws are put in place to protect the buyer from unknowingly purchasing defective property. Not disclosing certain information about the property can jeopardize the sale, or worse, invite a lawsuit.
This has become more of an issue lately as some sellers are tempted to gloss over deficiencies in the home they are selling in order to try to get a higher sales price. In fact, a recent poll of real estate agents showed that 75% of agents ranked non-disclosure among the "top three current and future issues."
What You May Need To Disclose
The main items that need to be disclosed are any defects with the home. This includes, but is not limited to, adjacent parcels, survey, plumbing problems, water leaks, cracks in the foundation, insect infestations and toxic materials in the home — such as lead, asbestos, carbon monoxide or mold.
Be sure to fully disclose anything that may be pertinent to the buyer before purchase. Some disclosure laws include reporting issues with neighbors and whether the home has a criminal or notorious past.
If you are unsure about some information regarding your real estate, one option would be to state that you do not know that specific information. Remember though, if you knowingly withhold information, it may cause the sale to fall through or could be used against you in a lawsuit.
Does It Make Sense To Have A Pre-Inspection Done?
Sellers can also have their home inspected prior to placing the property on the market to prevent any surprises of unknown problems with the home. This way, defects can be fixed before listing the property, and the disclosure form can state the problem has been fixed.
Whether you're looking to buy a new house this month or do a little remodeling, take advantage of the opportunity to give the mom in your life a present she'll appreciate every day.
Below are a few ideas for housing priorities and renovation projects that typically rate high on women's wish lists for their homes.
Open Living Areas
The open floor plan is usually a big plus for any mother. They want to be able to cook dinner in the kitchen while monitoring their children's schoolwork at the dining table.
So look for a house that affords this visual luxury or consider the generous gift of getting dirty and knocking down some walls.
What woman doesn't need more room for her clothes, shoes and purses? If you're looking at houses, keep in mind how much closet space will work for your wife or mother.
If it's not enough, see if there's another area you could convert to create a custom closet. Another great gift would be to upgrade your mom's closet with a new shelving and organizing storage system.
And great storage doesn't stop in the bedroom. Most women like to keep the family's things organized and put away, so think about upgrading some of the other cupboards and closets in the home as well.
Some women are expert gardeners or love home-improvement projects; however, many just want to leave those tasks to someone else.
Many moms love easy-to-wipe-down granite counters and hardwood floors. These can be beautiful and functional home upgrades all at the same time.
And especially if you're shopping real estate for an elderly mother, consider looking at Norfolk homes that are new construction, have easy-to-care-for landscaping and maintenance-free siding or brick.
Easy-to-Use Security System
While security is important to everyone, it ranks high on most women's list of priorities.
Mortgage rates fell last week and approached or reached record low levels.
According to Freddie Mac, the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage (FRM) fell from 3.40 percent to 3.35 percent. Average rates for a 15-year FRM moved from 2.61percent to 2.56 percent.
Average rates for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) fell to 2.56 from last week's average of 2.58 percent Discount points for last week's mortgage rates ranged from 0.7percent for 30 and 15 year FRM loans to 0.5 percent for a 5/1 ARM.
Rock-bottom mortgage rates can offset the impact of rising home prices.
Last Week Was A Strong Showing For The US Economy
Last week's economic news provided further indications of economic recovery, with housing related reports contributing to overall confidence in a stronger economy.
Highlights of last week's news include:
Monday: Pending home sales moved up to 1.50 percent in March from February's -1.07 percent. This reading also surpassed Wall Street's forecast of 0.90 percent for March.
Tuesday: The Case-Shiller Home Price Index for February reported that the national average home price had increased by 9.3 percent year-over-year between February 2012 and February 2013. By comparison, the average national home price between January 2012 and January 2013 increased by 8.1 percent year-over-year. Rising home prices are contributing to the economic recovery, but in some areas demand for homes exceeds supply, which also contributes to rising home prices.
Wednesday: The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) issued its scheduled statement after its meeting concluded. Committee members noted signs of an improving economy, and cited housing markets as a leading contributor to the recovery. The FOMC statement also indicated that economic conditions were not sufficiently improved for the FOMC to change or cease the Federal Reserve's quantitative easing policy. The Fed's goal for its current quantitative easing program is keeping long-term interest rates including mortgage rates low.
Wednesday's Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) statement indicates the Federal Reserve's commitment to keeping long term interest rates and inflation under control.
The Fed will continue monitoring inflation, but does not expect inflation to rise more than 0.50 percent above its target rate of 2.00 percent over the next one to two years.
Ongoing monitoring of inflation and unemployment, as well as developing economic news, will guide the Fed in its future determinations concerning policy for its present iteration of quantitative easing (QE3).
Currently, the Fed purchases $85 billion of treasury securities and mortgage –backed securities each month with the goal of keeping long-term interest rates lower.
This includes mortgage rates, which can assist homebuyers with qualifying for mortgage loans in an environment of increasing home prices. Other goals include stabilizing the labor market, and limiting inflation.
Job Growth To Be Determining Factor On Fed Interest Rate Action
The statement also noted that the Fed will keep its interest rates between 0.00 and 0.25 percent, until the Fed sees the national unemployment rate fall below 6.50 percent.
While noting that the housing sector is improving, the Fed stated concerns about ongoing high unemployment rates. Jobs are a key aspect to supporting the economy, as 70 percent of the U.S. economy involves the purchase of goods and services by consumers.
The Fed also repeated its position to evaluate the efficacy of its quantitative easing program; if the agency finds that the program is not achieving their desired objectives, changes to the program can be expected.
While a clear majority of FOMC members voted to keep current policies intact, one member voted against this course of action citing the potential for continued quantitative easing at current levels to fuel inflation.
The bottom line for today's statement is that the Fed continues its "wait and see" position concerning quantitative easing and low federal interest rates.The committee also re-asserted its intention to gradually reduce quantitative easing when it's time for a change.
In fact, a recent survey by HomeGain showed a whopping 568% return on investment for money put toward cleaning and organizing a home for sale!
And other experts say that a well-put-together home can shorten the time on market drastically as well.
Before your real estate agent lists your Chesapeake home, it's essential for it to look its best.
Examine your living space and see it as a buyer would — then double check this list of staging tips to make sure you haven't overlooked these important details.Clear out the clutter. Tidy up counter tops, bookcases, garages and closets. Pack up your sentimental items. Personal photos and knick-knacks should be boxed up for moving day. Get a storage unit. Open up space by moving furniture and boxes into storage -- it will make the rooms appear bigger. Remove appliances and fixtures that you want to keep. If you are taking the dining room chandelier or the built-in microwave, remove them before the house goes on the market. Make minor repairs. Check that faucets don't leak, doors close properly and holes in the walls are patched. Make it pretty! Windows, floors and bathrooms should be sparkling. Dust every surface, hang up fresh towels in the bathroom and make sure there are no lingering odors. Don't forget the yard. Curb appeal starts at the curb -- go figure -- so mow the yard, wash down walkways and add some bright flowers near the front door to trigger the emotion to buy.
There are so many different ways to give your home an advantage over the competition in the spring buying market.
If you've been considering taking your home in a green direction, April is the perfect month to make an environmentally friendly update.
Installing a solar energy system may be a very smart way to help the environment.
Plus, solar panels turn sunlight into energy that can save you money!
The federal government and many states are now providing tax incentives and rebates for installing solar panels in 2013 which make this an excellent opportunity to go green this spring.
However, there are many installers that might not have the necessary experience, so be sure to ask the questions below when searching for your solar energy system.
How many solar panel systems have they installed?
You want to make sure to find a reputable company that has significant solar experience and has successfully completed at least 50 installations.
Ask for references before you sign anything.
What is the output in kWh per year?
Many times, solar panel brands will claim to be more efficient than others.
You'll want to weigh the annual output against the price to determine what system is going to be the most cost effective for your Chesapeake home.
It is important to note that you should do an energy audit to see how you are using the power in your home before sizing the solar power replacement system.
You may be able to install a significantly smaller, and less costly, system if you learn how you can cut your power consumption prior to installing your new solar panels.
How long is the warranty on the panels?
Most high quality solar panel systems have a warranty of at least 25 years.
Top-of-the-line panels usually guarantee an output of no less than 90 percent after ten years and no less than 80 percent after 25 years.
Be wary of any company whose panels don't come with a warranty.
Selling a house in the current market can be tricky, but there are certain mistakes an owner can make that will cause a Virginia Beach home to sit still without a decent offer and cause the listing to go stale.
In order to prevent that from happening, make sure you are not making one of the following mistakes when putting your property on the market.
While your home may hold sentimental value, many times that value does not translate into dollars.
Be realistic about your asking price and know the details about your current market.
Look at the list price of similar houses on the market to get a rough idea of what you should ask for your property.
Make special note of the actual closing sales price as well as the time on market and listing to sales price ratio.
A licensed real estate agent can provide these details as well as give you their expert opinion based on experience and comparable properties.
Glaring problems with a property will cause the buyer to think the home was not properly maintained.
While it may cost some money, repairing things like holes in the walls, broken light fixtures or missing tiles can change a buyer's entire attitude about a property.
Ask for help if you aren't comfortable doing these things yourself.
A real estate professional will have a whole list of qualified referrals who they trust to help you get things fixed up.
Ignoring Curb Appeal
Overgrown and unweeded yards can cause potential buyers to drive right by.
Also, having junk in the front of your house or peeling paint can deter someone from considering the property.
Step across the street and take an honest look at your house - and then make necessary adjustments.
Fixing these items may be as easy as one weekend day of clean up and a little elbow grease.
Have you ever walked into a home for sale and looked down to see stained carpet or scratched and worn flooring?
If so, you would probably agree that it doesn't leave a positive first impression.
Imagine if you were a buyer looking at the same floor.
The right type of flooring and whether it is well taken care of can make a big difference to buyers.
If your floor is questionably clean, here are a few fixes to help remedy the issue to help your home sell quickly.
Does your home have hardwood floors?
You're in luck. Buyers love hardwood floors and some will pay extra to get them.
If your hardwood floors are covered by carpet, painted over or showing anything but the natural wood grain, it's time for an overhaul.
With the ability to rent large sanders and other tools, you can either refinish the hardwood floor yourself or hire a professional.
Remember, however, that hardwood floors in have a tendency to show off scratches, dents and uneven surfaces.
If you don't think you can do an adequate job, hire a professional.
Does your home have carpeting?
If you don't have hardwood floors, take a look at your carpeting.
If it's stained, outdated or ragged, it might be time to pull it up and replace it.
There are many new techniques with carpet cleaning and spot repair, so check with a local carpet cleaning professional to assess your carpet before making expensive decisions.
When laying the new carpet, use high-quality carpet padding to make it comfortable to stand on.
Many buyers will kneel down and touch the floor, so make sure the carpet feels soft to the touch.
Does your home have tile floors?
Although tiles are beautiful, they typically show every ounce of old grime, dirt, chips and cracks.
When you make an investment in Virginia Beach real estate, it's important to consider your options for turning a profit even before you write an offer.
It might be best to rent out the property to cover your mortgage and build equity providing the home cash-flows with solid rents and demand.
Or, you could fix up the home and flip it so that you can sell it quickly for a larger amount than you invested.
Both strategies may be appealing options, so here are some important factors to consider before making your decision.
Flipping May Lead To Short Term Profits
Flipping a house can be tricky, so you will want to have enough experience to know what you are doing, or work with an experienced advisor who can guide you around the most common pitfalls.
If you are thinking about fixing and flipping a house, you will need to have enough capital to invest in the property so you can make the required improvements and repairs.
Many people find themselves short of working capital after closing on the new purchase.
It is important to factor in carrying costs, or monthly mortgage payments while fixing the home, into your overall budget.
Do your research so you'll know what renovations will have the most impact on the value of your real estate.
You will also need to know if the market in the area will support your new price point.
Make sure your flip property is in a very buyer-friendly community for your best chances of a positive return.
Renting Is The Buy And Hold Strategy For Investment Real Estate
Flipping a house gives you quick cash, but renting it out instead may give you monthly cash flow and a potentially larger long-term profit if the property appreciates over time.
If you don't mind being a landlord and you have the time to screen for reliable renters, then renting out the property might be a better option for you.
Last week's economic news includes several factors that drove U.S. mortgage rates lower.
The Bank of Japan announced that it would increase its purchase of bonds by $1.4 trillion over the next two years.
This news caused yields on Japanese bonds to fall, which made U.S. bonds more appealing to international investors, that in turn increased MBS prices and caused mortgage rates to fall.
Bumpy Employment Numbers Support Lower Interest Rates
Other significant economic news involves an unexpected drop in the number of new jobs created last month.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Nonfarm Payrolls Report issued Friday indicated that 88,000 jobs were added in March, which fell considerably short of the expected 190,000 jobs added as well as the 236,000 jobs added in February.
Average hourly earnings remained flat against February, which indicates another stall in U.S. economic growth.
Expanding employment sectors for March included professional and business services and healthcare, while retail jobs decreased.
Jobless claims increased last week in concurrence with lower than expected jobs added for March.
New jobless claims came in at 385,000 and were higher than expectations of 345,000 new jobless claims and the prior week's jobless claims of 357,000.
The monthly unemployment rate fell from 7.7 percent to 7.6 percent, but this isn't encouraging news.
According to the BLS, the unemployment rate fell due to workers leaving the work force instead of workers finding jobs.
Next week, Treasury Auctions will be held Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve will release FOMC minutes.
Fed Continues Monthly Bond Purchases
Investors and analysts review the minutes for predicting future economic developments and also for gauging the Fed's sentiment about how or if changes should be made to the current quantitative easing program (QE).
The current QE program involves the Fed's monthly purchase of $85 billion in bonds and MBS is intended to keep long-term interest rates including mortgage rates low.