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October
11

Building a Home in Highland Park: 7 Things to Consider

Highland Park Lots
Harrisonburg, lovingly called Rocktown or The Friendly City by locals, has earned its reputation as a home for foodies, arts and culture aficionados, and history buffs. Located in the Shenandoah Valley region of Virginia between the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains, Harrisonburg is the perfect combination of city and rural living. 

If you're in the process of searching Harrisonburg homes for sale, and you're questioning about whether to buy or build a home, our real estate agents are proud to say we've helped clients buy existing homes and lots for over 50 years.  Harrisonburg has a number of subdivisions with lots ready to build your dream home.  We're here to introduce you to the Highland Park neighborhood.

Harrisonburg Living: The Highland Park Neighborhood

The Highland Park subdivision in Harrisonburg is no exception with its convenient location on the outskirts of Harrisonburg on its beautiful lots. An ideal site for building a home, Highland Park has been around for more than two decades and offers its residents a welcoming neighborhood feel with plenty of mature trees and a softly rolling landscape. The neighborhood has easy access to shopping, schools, and other popular amenities like the Lakeview Golf Course, Shenandoah Lake, and Sentra RMH Hospital. 

Building a Home in Highland Park

If you're building a home in Highland Park or any one of the Shenandoah Valley's other communities, there are certain factors you'll need to take into consideration before you start.  Here's a checklist of seven things to consider when you're thinking about building a home.

  1. Pinpoint Your Building Location
    Choosing where you want to live is just as important as your decision to build a house. You'll want to consider factors like proximity to work, schools, and amenities of course, and if you wish to live in an established community. Take your time, and consult with a qualified real estate agent who can help you narrow your search for the perfect neighborhood.
  2. Know Your Budget Well
    You may have already worked out a construction budget, but if you haven't, planning well ahead of time is recommended. What you will pay for your lot will be in addition to the actual home construction cost, and you need to plan for extra expenses during construction such as permits and fees.
  3. Selecting Your Contractor
    Deciding who will build your home is a significant decision and one that will affect the entire process. While adhering to your budget is critical, money shouldn't be the only deciding factor in choosing your builder. Check their credentials, references, and warranties offered as well as viewing homes they have recently built in the area. Our real estate agents are an excellent resource for finding local contractors.
  4. Design and Features
    Once you know your budget, your location, and your builder, you can focus more on visualizing the house you want to build. Your contractor will likely be able to make suggestions based on your tastes and budget if you do not have a clear image of the result. Be open and honest when communicating with your builder to avoid misunderstandings and costly adjustments during construction.
  5. Lot Compatibility
    Another pre-construction consideration is the lay of your land in regards to the type of home you are planning to build. Will any modifications such as extra grading be necessary? If so, will your budget support the additional expense?
  6. Work With Local Contractors
    Consider hiring builders and subcontractors from the area, as these professionals are familiar with the land, neighborhoods and construction requirements. Your home builder will also have access to most or all of the subcontractors required to complete the construction of your home. It's much easier to check references and credentials locally.
  7. Colors, Fixtures and More
    Perhaps one of the most enjoyable aspects of building your own home is being able to decide on the interior design. Adding your personal touch is essential when choosing the wall color, flooring material, cabinetry, and fixtures, but it's also advised to shy away from trends. Staying with classic design elements may give your home more value in the long run, and you can always add flair with furniture and decor.

We'd love to discuss your real estate goals and partner with you in locating your perfect home or lot for building. Listing agent Gail Mitchell from our team at Old Dominion Realty to learn more about building your dream home in Highland Park.

Contact Old Dominion Realty

May
7

Use Your Tax Refund to Buy Your First Home

Tax Refund for Down Payment
Use Your Tax Refund for Your Down Payment

If your tax return is burning a hole in your pocket, there are endless ways you could spend it. Sure, you could go on vacation, or splurge on that latest gadget you've had your eye on, but there's a better option.

If you've been dreaming of finally becoming a homeowner, your tax refund could offer a real opportunity. Our REALTORS® have a few ideas on how you could use your refund to make home ownership a reality once and for all.

Put it toward your deposit

The more you are able to put down as a down payment for your new home, the less you'll end up paying in interest in the long run. You'll also be less likely to have to pay for private mortgage insurance if you're able to put down the recommended 20 percent down payment. When you get your tax refund, create a separate savings account for it so that you won't be as tempted to spend it. You may even gather a little interest if you let it sit for a while.

Pay off your debts

Debt makes it hard to qualify for a mortgage, especially credit card debt. Using your tax refund to work on paying off your credit cards and other debts will help boost your credit rating, which will make it easier to qualify for a mortgage with a rate and terms that you can live with.

Apply it to closing costs

Some new homeowners are shocked to learn that closing costs, including attorney fees, appraisal and inspection fees, title insurance and escrow costs, often add up to a substantial chunk of change. In a lot of cases, these costs must be paid upfront rather than being rolled into your monthly mortgage payments. Your tax refund can be a great way to take care of closing costs.

Put it toward taxes and insurance

Once you own your home, there's still property taxes and homeowners insurance to think about. Putting your tax refund toward these future costs is a great way to ease the financial burden of homeownership.

Build your emergency fund

The costs of owning a home don't end when you're handed the keys and open the door. There are ongoing expenses, many of them unforeseen, that often catch first-time homeowners by surprise. It's important to have a nest egg saved up to deal with the continuing costs of homeownership, and your tax refund can really help out. From monthly mortgage payments and utility bills to unexpected hardships, such as the loss of your job or a sudden and expensive home repair, you'll be glad you had some money tucked away.

Contact Old Dominion Realty today to learn more about how you can put your tax refund to good use. Whether you're planning on buying or selling a home, we're here to help!

Contact Old Dominion Realty

January
11

Buying a House As Is

Here Are Some Things to Know About Buying a Home "As Is"  

Buying a House As Is

When most people see the words "as is" in a real estate ad, they act as if the words are a red flag warning them against checking out the property. While there have been times when a house sold "as is" has turned into a dud, you shouldn't dismiss the property without first learning more about it. Sometimes "as is" property's turn out to be a good deal.

Exactly What Does "As Is" Mean When Buying a House?

When you see the words "as is" in a real estate advertisement, it means that the property's current owner has no intention of making any repairs or updating the home to appease the buyers. If the property has problems, or needs to substantial updating, the buyer must handle the situation after they've closed on the house.

Why Property Gets Listed "As Is?"

There are a few different reasons why a seller chooses to list the property "as is" as opposed to leaving the door open for buyers to request changes. The most common reason is that the property is foreclosed on and the bank that holds the ownership wants to sell it quickly and with minimal fuss. Another reason may be that the current owners need to move quickly and don't have time to handle home improvement issues, such as replacing septic tanks, updating wiring, or installing a new furnace, that some buyers request before making a final offer.

The Drawbacks to Buying a House "As Is"

The reason so many buyers shy away when they see the words "as is" included on a real estate advertisement stems from the knowledge that most houses listed in this manner need a great deal of work, and often the time and money needed to make the property livable is more than they want to invest.

Another reason to be wary when considering buying a house that's listed "as is" stems from the fact that it's difficult to tell exactly how much work the property needs. At first glance it might seem okay, but once you move in, you may find all sorts of problems, such as rotting floor support beams, that it will cost you a bundle.

Is it Always a Bad Idea to Purchase a House "As Is"?

While you should always approach a property that's listed "as is" with caution, there are times when they can also be a good deal. The best way to determine how much work the property needs is by hiring the services of a professional home inspection expert. They inspect the entire property and make note of its condition and provide you with a detailed report. Based on this information you can decide if the property is a smart investment, or if you should look for sellers who are willing to work on making repairs and improvements before selling the home.

The most important thing to remember when buying a house is to not get your heart set on a property until it's been properly inspected.  Contact Old Dominion Realty to work with one of our experienced real estate agents to help you wade through the details of buying a house in "as is" condition.

Contact Old Dominion Realty

July
10

Home Security Checklist for Summer Travelers

Keep Your Home Safe While on Vacation

Home Security Checklist


July and August are hot summer months for swimming, barbeques, and vacations.  Did you know more break-ins occur during July and August too? Keep your home safe and secure while you are away this summer with these ten tips for home security from Old Dominion Realty.  Knowing your home is well-secured and under proper care allows you to simply relax and enjoy your time away.


#1 Secure Doors and Windows

While it may sound silly, but an unlocked door or window is a common entry source for potential burglars. Secure all your exterior doors with a deadbolt at least one-inch thick.  Install locks on all your windows.  Prevent your sliding glass door from being broken into by placing a metal bar in the bottom sliding track and secure the opposite end against the door jam on a diagonal.  Of course, remember to lock your doors and windows before leaving for vacation.

#2 Employ Your Neighbors

Your neighbors are often a great line of defense when it comes to home security.  Ask your neighbor to help while you are away.  Neighbors can hold a spare key and alarm codes for emergencies, keep an eye on your home, pick up your mail or newspapers, and water your plants.

 

Home Security Dog

#3 Hire a Pet Sitter

Keeping your pets at home under the care of a pet sitter or a house sitter may increase home security. A sitter helps make it look lived in and helps your pets stay secure in their own environment.  Also, dogs act as a natural burglar deterrent when they bark alerting neighbors to intruders.

 

#4 Maintain A Lived In Look

It is important to make your home appear lived in while you are on vacation. If you are not using a house sitter or employing the help of a neighbor, there are additional home security measures to follow. Install timers to turn on the lights, televisions, and radios.  Invite your neighbors to park in your driveway.  Allow your A/C to run on its lowest setting or use a programmable thermostat to switch it on and off throughout the day.

 

Home Security Mail Service

#5 Stop the Mail

Contact your local Post Office to stop mail delivery while you are away.

#6 Think Socially

In today's digital world, we often post our plans online without a second thought.  Avoid mentioning your vacation plans on social media.  After all, you do not want to advertise a vulnerability in your home security.

Home Security Alarm

#7 Use Your Alarm

Your alarm is a key tool in home security.  Make sure it is set before leaving and make your monitoring company aware you will be out of town.

 

#8 Windows and Blinds

Closing all your blinds and curtains could indicate you are away from home.  Keep things looking normal by positioning window treatments as you normally do during the day.

 

Home Security Lawn

#9 Don't Forget the Lawn

An unkempt lawn is a key sign that your home is unoccupied.  Keep your home safe by hiring someone to take care of the yard while you are on vacation.

 

#10 Unplug Your Garage Door

Don't forget to unplug your electronic garage door opener before leaving for vacation.  This makes it difficult for a burglar to use a universal remote to enter your home.  Unplug electronic devices--like the television--to protect them from power surges.

 Contact Old Dominion Realty

Old Dominion Realty for Homes in Virginia and West Virginia

Contact Old Dominion Realty to find homes for sale in eastern West Virginia and the central Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

March
27

Harrisonburg VA Shows Its LOVE

LOVE Letters from Harrisonburg

Virginia's state slogan, "Virginia is for Lovers" was adopted in 1969.  Its "love theme" continues today as seen in communities throughout the state embracing the Virginia Tourism Corporation's LOVEworks campaign.  The campaign was originally created to prove that "love is at the heart of every Virginia vacation" by having giant "LOVE" artworks appear up at various locations throughout the state.  During the summer of 2012, Virginia cities and tourist destinations joined the campaign creating LOVEworks exhibitions in their communities.

Harrisonburg VA LOVEworks Artists
Harrisonburg, VA located in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley is one of those local communities.  Number 27 on the LOVEworks list, Harrisonburg exhibits a love for their community with its own LOVEworks sculpture. The artists behind LOVEworks Harrisonburg, Nicole Martorana, Jeff Guinn, and Mike Herr, spent four months designing and creating their own labor or love for Harrisonburg. 

 

About LOVEworks

The mission of LOVEworks is to showcase the strengths of the communities and tourist destinations in which they reside. Each letter in the word "love" provides an interactive, educational representation defining their individual city's characteristics.


Harrisonburg, VA is known for its diversity of ethnic and cultural backgrounds, agricultural heritage, large number of outdoor recreational opportunities, and vibrant arts scene.  Each letter represents one of Harrisonburg's four focus areas.

Harrisonburg VA LOVEworks


What LOVE Means in Harrisonburg VA

Harrisonburg's LOVEworks exhibit rests on a base of bluestone; the same material used in many signature buildings throughout Harrisonburg.  Plaques describing the exhibit, theme, materials used and their local significance as well as the names of local artists who designed the sculpture and contributing community partners are on display with the LOVEworks exhibit.

  • The "L" in Harrisonburg's LOVEworks sculpture represents the city's cultural diversity. Using collages that represent ethnic heritage and cultural backgrounds of people throughout the community, the letter is covered in textiles, flags, maps, jewelry and more.
  • Artists represented the city's agricultural heritage with the letter "O". The letter is covered in local wood featuring etchings by local artist Brady Schwendeman which highlights agricultural scenes.
  • Outdoor recreation is a vital part of life in Harrisonburg, VA, and this is highlighted by the "V" on the art piece. The "V" is constructed entirely from bicycle parts, and the orange color of the letter highlights the popularity of hunting and fishing in the area.
  • Finally, the "E" touches on community significance, and has whiteboard and magnetic board on which the local community can contribute to the art. People who live in Harrisonburg can post their own artwork, and on First Fridays in downtown Harrisonburg, featured local artists will use the "E" to showcase their own work.

  

LOVEworks - Part of a Vibrant, Reviving Downtown

Harrisonburg, VA is working hard to grow and revitalize its downtown. The Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance plans regular events and supports local businesses to breathe life back into the historic, charming downtown region, making it a place where people love to live, work, shop and play. Their efforts are working, and with events like First Fridays and regularly highlighting local artists and businesses, Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance is seeing the city come to life.

This is a great time to live in Harrisonburg, and LOVEworks is just one of example of ways the local community comes together to grow their city. If you are looking for a home in Harrisonburg, VA, Old Dominion Realty is ready to help. With headquarters in Harrisonburg, VA, the real estate team at Old Dominion Realty are your area experts. Come and discover Harrisonburg for yourself, and let Old Dominion Realty help you find homes for sale in Harrisonburg, VA.

March
19

Would You Rather Buy or Build a Home

Buying vs. Building Your Home - Which is Right for You?


Old Dominion Realty has been working with home buyers and home sellers since 1962. Many home buyers have opted to buy an existing home while others have decided to build a new one.

Buying or building a home

Both of these options have their own benefits and drawbacks, and making the choice is not always easy. As you weigh your options, here are some things to consider.


Pros and Cons of Buying a Home

Buying a Home Pros and Cons

Buying a home carries several benefits, including:

  • Better Value - You can negotiate a price on the home, and you will almost always pay less for the same amount of square footage if you buy.
  • Established Neighborhood - Buying a home means you have the chance to see the character of the neighborhood and the neighbors before you buy.
  • Complete Landscaping - Established homes have mature landscaping.
  • More Convenient - When you buy a home, you don't have to make as many decisions about the features of the home, and you can usually move in within two months.

Buying a home has its drawbacks as well. Some of these include:

  • Fewer features in the home are brand new.
  • Some items will need to be cleaned or replaced.
  • The floor plan may be outdated and less open.
  • The home may need renovation or remodeling to make it modern or in line with your needs.

 

Pros and Cons of Building a Home

Pros and Cons of Building a Home

Building a home is a second option to consider when pursuing home ownership. The benefits of building include:

  • Everything is New - Everything in the home, from the carpeting to the light fixtures, is brand new.
  • Energy Efficient - New materials and improved standards mean newly built homes are more energy efficient.
  • Less Immediate Maintenance - You won't have to deal with immediate maintenance needs from an older structure.
  • Comfortable New Communities - While the neighborhood may not be established, it likely does have modern amenities, like sidewalks and playgrounds, common in new subdivision.
  • More Personalization - You can choose everything, from the color of the paint to the type of lighting fixtures, when you build.

Buying also has its drawbacks, which include:

  • Higher potential cost, with hidden costs and surprises and additional fees for upgrades.
  • Noise of construction of nearby houses after you move in.
  • Longer time commitment, as building can take up to seven months on average.

 

Which Makes the Most Sense?

Neither option is a bad choice, so the truth is that you will have to decide for yourself whether buying or building makes sense in light of your goals, budget, and desires. So how can you decide? First, make a list of what is most important to you in a home, then compare your options in your price range. This will help you determine which option in your area is the best fit for your needs.

Old Dominion Realty Office Locations


Whether you decide to buy an existing home or build a new home having a real estate agent on your side is important. Old Dominion Realty serves the people of Virginia and West Virginia, offering real estate services focused on the needs of buyers.


Old Dominion Realty has a history working with local many builders like Landmark Home Builders Inc., Milstead Construction, Valley Renovators, Inc., and W. Boutros and Co., Inc. Contact Old Dominion Realty for help determining if buying or building is the right for you.

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