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August
15

What to Know When Buying Farmland

Farmland Tips

If you've dreamed of growing your own food or raising livestock, purchasing farmland can help you turn your dream into a reality. Our real estate agents know that purchasing farmland is a little different than purchasing a more conventional piece of property. Here's what you need to keep in mind when buying farmland. 

Plant Types

  • You Should Determine What You're Hoping to Accomplish by Purchasing Farmland
    Before you can start searching for farmland, you should have some idea of what you want to do with the land. Having a plan for your farmland will help you find properties that are suited to your needs. If you just want the ability to own animals that aren't allowed within the city limits (like chickens and a few goats), your land needs are different than those of someone who wants to grow and raise most of their own foods. 
  • There May Be Regulations That Impact Your Ability to Use the Land
    Even though farmland is usually subject to fewer laws and regulations than other types of land, there may still be restrictions that dictate how you can use the land. For example, you may only be allowed to use a certain amount of water. This will affect the types and quantity of any crops that you grow. Zoning laws can also impact your ability to use the farmland. If the land parcel is on a conservation easement, any activities on the land will need to follow the easement's guidelines. 

Soil Type

  • The Soil May Not Fit Your Plans
    Before you decide to purchase one of the Augusta County homes for sale, make sure that you obtain information about the soil's history, including details about what crops have been successfully grown on the land in the past. This will help you decide if it's a good fit for the crops that you want to grow or if it's best to continue searching for a different property. While some soil problems can be fixed, this process is usually expensive and time-consuming. 

Building Types

  • Some Buildings May Not Be Usable
    It's common for a farm to have multiple buildings and structures, including barns, garages, tool sheds, and spaces for storing crops. However, there may be some buildings on the property that aren't usable. If a property has unusable buildings, you need to review the financial implications of restoring the space's functionality. Some buildings may need extensive repairs; you may be better off tearing these structures down. Even if you decide to tear down a building, this project will add multiple expenses to your budget. Should the property have buildings that require extensive repairs or demolition, make sure to factor in these costs when making an offer on the farmland.

 Location

  • The Farmland's Location Can Impact Your Plans for the Land
    Where the farmland is located should be considered when deciding if it's right for your needs. Maybe you envision setting up a booth at the local farmers market to sell your crops, eggs, or other goods. If the local farmers market is a lengthy distance from your farm, this will affect your ability to earn an income from your farmland. Or, if the farmland is so remote that you'll have trouble finding buyers or will spend a lot of time and gas driving to potential buyers, you may want to consider other options that are more centrally located. You should also think about how the land is situated from major roadways and bodies of water. For example, if your farmland is low-lying and near a river, it may be at risk of flooding and destroying your crops or livestock. Farmland that's close to busy roads may experience pollution from vehicle exhaust; it's also more likely to face theft or vandalism. 

Purchasing farmland has unique considerations that you should explore to help you confirm that a property is a good fit for your needs. Ready to start looking for your next property? Contact us today to get started!

August
1

ODR's Affiliation with Leading Real Estate Companies of the World

Old Dominion Realty

As an independent real estate firm, our goal is to provide the best possible service to you and provide comprehensive assistance in achieving your real estate goals. This is true whether you're moving to a Virginia/West Virginia community from across town or across the world. One of the ways that we provide that level of service is through our affiliation with Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® (LeadingRE), a worldwide network of top independent real estate brokerages.

Both our real estate agents and our clients benefit from our affiliation with LeadingRE, whose mantra is "Making the Best Brokerages Better." No matter where you're moving from, our team is here to help you find the home that perfectly suits your needs.

Get to Know Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®

Founded in 1997 by 50 of the largest real estate brokerages in the United States, LeadingRE has grown into a worldwide network over the last 25 years. It's now comprised of 550 companies in more than 70 countries, with 4,700 offices located across the world and 136,000 sales associates. LeadingRE is a by-invitation-only network focused on raising the bar in real estate, with industry-leading metrics in sales and market coverage.

What this means for clients is that no matter where you're currently located and where you're planning to move, there's a global network of like-minded real estate firms ready to serve you. Long-distance moves are so much easier when you have a worldwide network to lean on, and we're proud to be part of a network that's built to serve you.

Global Network

A Global Network with Local Knowledge

Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® is made up of industry-leading local and regional real estate firms. As a client, one key benefit of working with a local or regional real estate brand is that you have access to unparalleled local knowledge. In our case, that means helping you find the right home, in the right neighborhood, in Virginia and West Virginia communities.

When you're relocating from far away, there are so many factors to consider, whether you're relocating for work, family, military service, or simply to experience something new. Starting a new life in a new location is so much smoother when you have access to a global network with unmatched local knowledge. Take the guesswork out of a long-distance move, and find a real estate brand you can trust to make your transition a smooth, streamlined experience so you can focus on settling into your new home.

Local Team

Our Affiliation with Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®

You can find our Old Dominion Realty page on the LeadingRE website and our video on Old Dominion Realty and LeadingRE to learn more about our affiliation with the network. If you're moving from out of state or outside the country, we can help you manage the logistics, find the right neighborhood, and find the right home. If you're moving from Virginia/West Virginia to another location, our affiliation with LeadingRE means that we can help you find the right agent in communities across the world.

On the LeadingRE website, you can also access tools like the Global Cost of Living Report, Currency Converter, and Mortgage Calculator to help you make informed decisions. The goal is to provide you with the best possible service, no matter where you're moving from or where you're moving to, through a network with global reach.

Services from Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®

Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® offers a variety of tools to help facilitate long-distance moves for individuals and organizations.

  • Luxury Portfolio International®
    Luxury Portfolio International® is geared toward luxury clientele, with more than 50,000 of the world's finest properties listed annually. If you're searching for a luxury home, Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® can help you find it.

  • RELO Direct, Inc.®
    RELO Direct, Inc.® is a service for corporate clients, providing comprehensive administrative support to help employees move with high satisfaction rates. It also has extensive certifications to help government organizations manage employee moves.

  • Solutions Group
    The Solutions Group program helps us help you. LeadingRE partners with a wide range of service providers that allow members to leverage the best tools, technology, and services in the real estate industry to provide the best possible service to our clients.

Our Team

Let Us Help You Plan Your Next Move

Whether you're shopping for Augusta County homes for sale or homes in another Virginia or West Virginia community, our team is here to help you accomplish your real estate goals. Our affiliation with Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® can help us accommodate your needs, no matter where you're moving from or what is motivating your move. Contact us to buy and sell homes in the Augusta County, VA area.

July
25

What to Know When Buying a Historic Home

Historic Home

If you envision yourself owning a home that stands out from other properties or boasts design details that are rare in modern properties, a historic home is a terrific option to consider.

There are a few things our real estate agents want buyers to know when considering historic homes to help them confirm that the property is right for their lifestyle and property needs. Here's what you need to know. 

  • A Property Must Meet Certain Criteria to Receive a Historic Classification
    The historic home designation isn't arbitrarily used. Instead, the home must meet certain criteria to receive the historical classification. A home isn't a historic home just because it's old. To be called a historic home, the property must be a minimum of 50 years old. The overall structure must look the same as when the property was first constructed. It must also meet a qualification that proves the property is historically significant, like playing a role in a historical event, housing an important person or group, or using an architectural style that's historically significant. 
  • Historic Homes Often Experience Higher Than Average Appreciation
    When compared to other homes in the area, historic homes usually appreciate in value at faster rates than other properties. This increase is driven in part by the limited stock of historic homes. Historic homes aren't as widely available as other home types, and this limited supply helps support higher home prices. People who purchase historic homes tend to hold onto them for years, a fact that further drives steady increases in the value of historic homes. If your home is located in a historic district, this may further boost your home's appreciation. Historic districts contain multiple historic properties that create a neighborhood with properties that are required to maintain a certain standard of appearance. 

remodeling plans

  • Remodeling Plans Should Maintain the Home's Structural Integrity
    Any remodeling that you complete must support the home's original design and structure. In many towns, renovations to historic homes must be approved by a local review board. It's usually fine to repair or even replace materials that are original to the home when necessary, but these repairs must support the property's historical appearance and, whenever possible, use materials that are original to the home. While massive renovations inside a historic home usually aren't permitted, enlarging the home by building an addition may be permitted as long as the addition adheres to the home's architectural style. Any existing details in the original portion of the home should be reflected in the addition.

Financing Options

  • The Process of Acquiring Financing and Insurance for the Home is a Little Different
    Before you start looking at Rockingham County homes for sale, you'll want to obtain mortgage preapproval so you know how much you can borrow. However, you need to know that the process for acquiring financing for a historic home is a little different than securing financing for a traditional property. Some mortgage programs can't be used for historic homes that require a lot of repairs; the lender is likely going to want to know how you're going to pay for these repairs. There are programs available, including the Limited 203(K) loan and Title 1 Property Improvement Loan, that provide homeowners with affordable loans to repair their historic homes. You'll also want to shop around for your home insurance, as some home insurance companies may be reluctant to insure properties that they feel will be expensive to repair or replace. 

Tax Incentives

  • You May Qualify for Tax Incentives
    There are tax incentives available for homeowners who need to rehabilitate a historic property. The Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives Program is one tax credit you may qualify for; there are also tax deductions available if your property is eligible for a historic preservation easement. 
  • Properly Maintaining a Historic Home Requires More Resources Than the Average Home
    While historic homes have long lifespans thanks to their quality construction and durable materials, they do occasionally need maintenance. Maintenance for a historic home is usually a little more expensive and time-consuming than maintenance for a conventional property. Historic homes may require specialized materials and labor to ensure that the repairs are in line with the home's original design. 

Architecture

  • Historic Homes are Valued for Their Distinctive Details
    Historic homes contain details that are often only found in this type of property. Your windows or other details might not be perfectly centered, or your floors may creak and appear a bit uneven. These aren't issues that need to be fixed; instead, they should be viewed as details that are unique to a historic home's distinctive style and architecture. 

A historic home is a terrific option for anyone who wants to own a property that's a part of history and features a one-of-a-kind design. Ready to start the search for your historic home? Contact us today to get started!

August
16

7 Ways a Real Estate Agent Can Help You in a Hot Market

Real Estate Agent Tips

A combination of low-interest rates, limited nationwide inventory, and pent-up demand has made this year's real estate market one of the hottest in history. In a competitive seller's market, buyers often lose some negotiating leverage and are forced to enter into bidding wars.  

However, if you're looking for a home in today's real estate market, all hope isn't lost. The key to finding the right home for the right price is a combination of patience, dedication, and working with an experienced real estate agent. 

Our real estate agents are working with clients to help them navigate the complexities of today's hot market. Below are some ways we can help you:

closing tips

  1. Agents Can Help Minimize Issues During Closing
    After putting weeks of work into looking for the right house, securing financing, and negotiating terms, the last thing you want is for the deal to fall apart at closing. Title problems and financing issues are the things that most commonly delay closings. An experienced real estate agent can establish a realistic closing timeline and knows how to spot problems before they arise.

  2. Agents Are Expert Negotiators
    Buyers can lose some negotiating leverage in a hot seller's market, which is why is the expertise of your agent is more important than ever. As a consumer, negotiating with a home seller can be an emotional process. Agents are able to remove emotion from the equation entirely. They also don't have any issue with being persistent and aggressive when asking for contingencies. Buying a new home is an emotional process, which is why it's important to have a good agent negotiating on your behalf.

competitive offer

  1. Agents Can Help You Make A Competitive Offer
    In a hot market, the key to winning a bid is making your offer as competitive as possible. Luckily, there are many things you can do to help your offer stand out without drastically exceeding the asking price. For example, you may consider waiving the appraisal contingency, putting down a higher earnest money deposit, and making your offer as straightforward as possible in order to increase the chance of your offer being accepted. The bottom line, your agent can work with you to create a compelling offer.

Market Tips

  1. Agents Know The Market
    Not only can your agent help you find homes that meet all of your criteria, but they're also familiar with current market trends as well as specific neighborhoods in your area. If you're considering one of these beautiful Shenandoah County homes for sale, your agent can provide you with insights about homes and locations that you may not be able to find on your own. They can also help you gauge whether a particular property is over or underpriced.

  2. Agents Can Act Quickly
    Buyers need to act fast when looking for a home in a seller's market, especially if you're considering one of these great Augusta County homes for sale. If you find a property you absolutely love, a good agent will be willing to turn around an offer in a matter of hours. 
    real estate paperwork

  1. Agents Can Handle The Paperwork
    A real estate transaction requires an immense amount of paperwork, which an average consumer likely can't handle on their own. Between the offer, counteroffer, and contingencies, there is a lot riding on the accuracy and completeness of the paperwork. Your agent will not only ensure everything is documented correctly, but that all pages are signed and initialed.

real estate resources

  1. An Agent Can Connect You To Resources
    A standard real estate transaction often involves several third parties who perform various services throughout the process. If you need a mortgage broker, home inspector, or notary public, your real estate agent likely has a wide network of trusted resources. Real estate agents often manage multiple closings each week, so chances are, they've had ample opportunity to vet the efficiency of the service providers in their network. Since your agent can connect you with the services you need to ensure a smooth transaction, you can avoid a lot of stress and headaches along the way.

While a hot seller's market can present a number of challenges for buyers, working with a good agent is the best way to mitigate risks and secure the home of your dreams. For more tips on how to make a competitive offer, contact us today.

January
27

5 Reasons You Were Denied a Mortgage Loan--And How to Fix Them

Buy a House Home Loan Approval
Getting denied for a mortgage loan may put a temporary halt to your dream of buying a house, but it doesn't have to be permanent. When you find out why your loan application was denied, you can correct any issues and reapply. Here are five common reasons your loan application can be denied as well as suggestions from our REALTORS® on how to fix them:

  1. Check your credit score.
    Your credit score is based on your credit history and is supposed to represent your creditworthiness. If you've failed to make payments or have made them late, you may have a credit score that's too low to qualify for a mortgage loan.

    What to do: Check your credit reports to make sure they don't contain any errors, and if they do, work with the credit reporting agency to correct them. If you've been denied a mortgage loan because of accurate information, start making all your bill and loan payments on time, every time. Also, you can check with a different lender.

  2. You don't have enough money for a down payment and closing costs.
    You'll need to make a down payment as a condition of most mortgage loans. In addition, you'll need to be able to pay closing costs, which are fees that are due at the closing of a real estate transaction. The down payment and closing costs can't be included in the mortgage loan, so if you don't have the money to pay them, you may be turned down.

    What to do: A relative may be willing to give you money for a down payment as a gift. You can also ask the seller to pay some of the closing costs.

  3. You have too much debt compared to your income.
    Your mortgage lender will look at your debt-to-income ratio, which calculates how much of your monthly income goes to debt payments. If your lender thinks you won't be able to cover the monthly mortgage payment in addition to your debts, you may not be able to get a mortgage loan.

    What to do: Pay down more of your debt and also avoid taking on any more debt. You can also try to reduce the interest rate on some of your debt by, for example, transferring your credit card balance to one with a lower interest rate.

  4. You recently changed jobs.
    Lenders prefer it if borrowers have held their current jobs for at least two years. This represents stable employment and gives the lender confidence that your income will allow you to make your mortgage payments. If you've recently changed jobs, a lender may deny your mortgage application.

    What to do: Ask your employer to provide documentation such as your job offer letter or contract and several pay stubs.

  5. Your home appraisal is too low.
    A condition of your mortgage approval will be an appraisal of the property. If the appraisal is higher or in line with the purchase price, you won't have any trouble. But if it's lower, your mortgage loan application may be denied.

    What to do: Try to get the seller to accept a lower price, or pay the difference between the appraisal and the purchase price in cash.

Buy a House with Old Dominion Realty
Contact us today to find out more about how to qualify for a mortgage loan, even if you've been previously denied. We're very familiar with the mortgage loan process and can suggest lenders that have helped others buy Harrisonburg homes for sale.

September
30

5 Steps to Buy a Home in a Different State

Buy Home Different State

Moving to a new state is a great way to begin a new chapter of your life while experiencing the diversity our country has to offer. Our REALTORS® understand that many homeowners dream of one day moving to another state but aren't sure what steps to take first. With years of experience helping homeowners relocate across state lines, we've put together this helpful guide with steps to buy a home in a different state without hassle.

  1. Organize & Prepare
    At very least you're buying a home which is a milestone purchase. At very most, you're conducting two substantial real estate transactions — buying a new home and selling your current home. The first step is to get organized and prepare to invest your time and energy into successfully closing on both transactions.

  2. Enlist Help from a Relocation Specialist
    Thankfully, you don't have to juggle this process alone. A knowledgeable and experienced REALTOR® that specializes in nationwide relocation is your best resource. They will be your advocate in your new town while you're away and ensure your current home's sale is finalized without a hitch.

  3. Decide Whether to Sell or Buy First
    Some believe you should finalize the sale of your current home before you begin the process of purchasing a new home. This is a wise decision because it allows you to free yourself from your physical and financial commitments to the previous home while helping you fund the new home. However, every situation is different, and it may be in your best interest to buy before you sell. Speak with your REALTOR® to identify the benefits and disadvantages of beginning the process in either way.

  4. Be Present for the Inspection
    While the number of times you travel to your new city prior to moving may be limited, there are a few situations when you must be there in person. By committing to the inspection date, you're able to understand and visually see any issues that might be present. You can also ask the inspector about anything you may be unsure of and learn information or tips that wouldn't be on the inspection report.

  5. Close Electronically if Possible
    Closing on the home is an act worth celebrating; however, it's not an element of the sale you need to be involved in in-person. Electronic closing is common now and a title company can easily help facilitate these signatures remotely.

Old Dominion Realty is a proud member of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World (LeadingRE). No matter if your dream home is across the street or the globe, the LeadingRE team of over 560 firms encompassing 4,300 offices is ready to help you relocate to anywhere on the planet. These sales associates within the LeadingRE group deliver unparalleled performance and exceptional client experiences in every transaction they conduct.

Are you ready to find your dream home in another state? Our REALTORS® are ready to help. Contact us at Old Dominion Realty today to get started on your search.

September
23

Why Homeownership Matters

Homeownership matters - Family and community

Homeownership Matters to Families and Communities

No matter the generation, time and again it's proven that homeownership remains a key ingredient in the American Dream. Owning a home provides financial stability, makes it easier to build personal wealth, helps in establishing social stability, and gives you the freedom to plot your own course in life. The community also benefits from homeownership by gaining active, engaged residents who have a stake in the future of each neighborhood. Our REALTORS® know the benefits of homeownership for people, and why it's so important for communities to have a strong base of homeowners.

  • The Perks of Owning Over Renting
    The initial investment required to own a home can be scary for first-time buyers, but there are many long-term financial benefits to owning over renting. Both rent rates and the value of homes tend to rise over time. When rent goes up, only the landlord benefits. When the value of a home that you own goes up, you're the one to benefit. With the variety of assistance programs available for people who want to own a home, the upfront investment isn't nearly as daunting as it seems. Over time, as you make your mortgage payments, your equity in the home and personal wealth build. Add it all up, and homeownership just makes more financial sense than renting.

  • A Place to Call Your Own
    Of course, owning a home is about far more than financial benefits. When you buy a home, you can customize it to suit your needs and make it your own in ways that you never could with a rented dwelling. Your home is your own personal space in the world, where you can be comfortable and enjoy time with the people you care about most. It's a place where you can host family, friends, and neighbors while creating memories that last a lifetime.

  • How Homeownership Builds Strong Communities
    Buying a home also provides a chance to lay down roots, and truly become a part of the community. When people own homes, they're more likely to care about the future of the neighborhood and do what they can to add to the community. Homeowners become active in community organizations and provide many benefits to the local economy. When more people have a stake in the future of the community thanks to homeownership, the whole community ultimately benefits.

  • Social Stability Benefits Families
    Your home is both a gathering place for your extended family and a place to lay down roots for immediate family members living under your roof. Kids benefit by being able to attend the same school throughout their education, build relationships with community members, make friends, and participate in community events. Everyone in the home benefits from having a place in the neighborhood to call their own, and being able to build a life in the community.

  • Building Your Own Dream
    While there are many similarities, everyone has their own reasons for pursuing the dream of homeownership. Whether you want a place that you can customize to your heart's content or an opportunity to build a life in the community of your choice, homeownership simply offers benefits that renting can't match. Owning a home gives you the freedom to pursue the life you want, and that's the real dream!

Whether you're a first-time buyer or a homeowner looking for a new place to call your own, our team is here to help you achieve your homeownership dreams. Contact us to buy and sell homes throughout the Central Shenandoah Valley and Eastern West Virginia.

August
5

7 Insider Secrets for Buying a House

Secrets for Buying a House-Old Dominion Realty

Buying a house can be challenging. If you are looking for Harrisonburg homes for sale, the perfect home is not likely to just magically appear. In almost all home purchases, those buyers who find their dream home remain firmly in the driver's seat throughout the entire house-hunting process.

With that in mind, you can increase your chances of finding and buying the perfect home for you and your family by following some of the same steps other successful buyers have used.

  1. Lay the Groundwork.
    Ideally, six to 12 months before you begin your home search, you should run your credit report. Review the report carefully and check for any inconsistencies so that you can clear up the errors. If you find that you owe some debts, get these paid off immediately. You want to approach your mortgage lender with a credit score that is as high as possible.

  2. Crunch the Numbers.
    Proactive homebuyers get loan pre-approvals from their lenders before embarking on their house-hunting quests. This is important because it narrows your field and doesn't waste your or your real estate agent's or the sellers' time and efforts. Some sellers will not even allow their homes to be shown to potential buyers who don't have pre-approvals.

  3. Find the Best REALTOR®.
    When you're searching for a home, your REALTOR® literally holds the keys to your dreams. You want to choose someone with whom you have a good rapport and who understands your concerns and home-buying goals. Your real estate agent should be responsive to your needs and return telephone messages quickly.

  4. Know What You're Looking For.
    With budget constraints in place, consider what you really want to have in a home. Is moving into a certain school district a priority? If so, start your search there. Is your heart set on a two-story older home on an acre or more? Steer clear of subdivisions of ranch homes on small plots of land.

  5. Be Open to Possibilities.
    Even though you have a certain ideal in mind, keep an open mind for some outliers that just might fit the bill. Sometimes a thorough renovation or re-purposing of existing space can turn a so-so option into the house you've always longed to own.

  6. Be Bold or Go Home.
    In a tight housing market, there's always the chance that you will find the home of your dreams only to find it snatched out from under you and sold to another buyer. If you find a home you love, don't drag your feet on making an offer. While you don't want to rush such a big decision, sometimes you have to take a leap of faith and make an offer.

  7. Don't Look for a Unicorn.
    Your real estate agent can't wave a wand and produce the perfect white picket-fenced home in your price range and the right school district, with the exact number of bedrooms and bathrooms you seek. Unicorns don't exist and you can exhaust yourself in the process of trying to find one. Your home-buying search needs to remain centered in reality. While you shouldn't have to "settle" on such a major purchase, you must remain mindful of the parameters of your search and adjust your expectations accordingly.

If you'd like to learn more about some of the homes for sale Old Dominion Realty has listed, our REALTORS® can help. Contact us to to get your house hunt started today.

January
21

Buying a Home in Augusta? Here's How to Apply for a Mortgage

Mortgage Application Tips
Do the words "mortgage application" send a chill up and down your spine? It's an understandable reaction, considering the financial and emotional investment that goes into the purchase of a home in Augusta County.

Fortunately, applying for a mortgage doesn't have to be so stress-inducing. Preparation is the key, as our real estate agents share their top tips that pave the way to a streamlined mortgage application process.

  1. Polish Your Credit Score
    Mortgage lenders have a lot to lose on bad decisions, and your credit score is the best indicator they have regarding your financial responsibility. Request free copies of your credit reports from all three major agencies and clean up any inaccuracies.  Credit utilization ratio accounts for one-third of your total score, so devise a plan to pay down open balances as soon as possible.

  2. Know Your Limit
    If you fall in love with a house that's beyond your means, emotion may fool you into believing you can come up with the extra money. But reality hits hard and fast, and you might find yourself sinking under the weight of monthly payments. The industry standard is the 28/36 rule, which dictates that housing costs should be no more than 28 percent of gross monthly income while total debt payment should not exceed 36 percent.

  3. Determine a Down Payment Amount
    While it can be difficult to come up with ready cash for a sizable down payment, the advantages are worth it. Monthly payments will be lower, especially if you put enough down to avoid private mortgage insurance (PMI).  In addition, the smaller the down payment, the more vulnerable home equity is to sudden changes in real estate values.

  4. Research Options
    The good news AND the bad news is that there's no shortage of lenders, types of mortgages and rates. Fixed or adjustable rate? 15-year or 30-year? Government-backed or conventional? First-time home buyer program? It means putting in some serious study time, but there's enough variety to offer solutions for nearly every home buyer's individual situation.

  5. Collect Documents 
    There may be slight variations, but here's a list of the principal documents required by most lenders:

    - Recent paycheck stubs and bank statements
    - Last year's tax returns, including your most recent W2
    - Rent history, if applicable
    - A complete list of assets and debts
    - Divorce decree and bankruptcy discharge papers, if applicable

    If you're self-employed, documents such as tax returns, 1099 forms, and profit-and-loss statement can serve as proof of income.

  6. Get Pre-Approved
    While pre-approval doesn't guarantee a mortgage, it indicates that a lender has reviewed your qualifications and found that you meet their standards for a loan. A pre-approval letter can also mean the difference in having an offer accepted over a buyer without pre-approval.

  7. Read the Fine Print
    Imagine the shock and discouragement you would feel when you learn extra payments actually cost you more due to prepayment penalties. No one enjoys wading through legal documents, but when it comes to mortgages you literally can't afford any surprises. 

When you're ready to view Augusta County homes for sale, our friendly and experienced real estate agents can help you every step of the way. Contact Old Dominion Realty and get ready to make your dream home a reality.

December
17

Does a New Home Top Your Christmas Wish List?

Buy House at Christmas
When you think about tinsel, mistletoe, and candles all aglow, do you envision yourself decking the halls in a different home? If you're daydreaming about Harrisonburg homes for sale as you plan your holiday shopping, it's time to add "New Home" to the top of your Christmas wish list.

Our real estate agents enjoy sharing their biggest house-hunting secret: The year-end holiday season is one of the best times to buy a home. Here are a few reasons why.

  1. You'll Be the Center of Attention
    Many buyers begin abandoning their home searches as their children return to school. Before the holidays arrive, they get caught up in annual activities and seasonal celebrations. The local real estate market slows down even more as potential buyers begin shopping, cooking, and preparing for the upcoming holidays. All those missing house hunters clear the way for you and other serious holiday homebuyers. You can relax, take your time, and view homes without having to navigate a crowd. Real estate agents have more available time to spend with you as well. They'll do their best to meet your demands and help you negotiate your home deal. 

  2. Serious Home Sellers
    Sellers who leave For Sale signs in their yards this time of year have probably been marketing their homes since spring. They need a holiday break from open houses and home tours. Still, they keep their homes on the market anyway. These die-hard sellers may have pending job transfers or need a bigger place. Some homeowners may have added "Sell Home" to the top of their holiday lists. Whatever their reason for staying the course, you may be one of only a few serious prospects. They'll be ready to listen to your concerns, negotiate your offer, and agree to flexible terms. They might even greet you with a cup of hot cocoa and a candy cane.

  3. Year-End Tax Advantages
    Tax laws are always in transition, but if you buy a home this year, you may reap the benefits when you file next year's taxes. Itemized home sale fees and expenses, mortgage interest, and other home-buying costs may reduce your tax burden. Veterans in Virginia benefit from a homeowners tax exemption. It's a good idea to check with your tax professional to determine your potential tax benefits as a new homeowner.
     
  4. Holiday Prices
    Year-end home sellers are like department stores during the holidays. They want to sell the merchandise. When a seller has to keep their home on the market longer than they originally anticipated, they often adjust their asking price even if they'd prefer not to. Just like all those holiday sales, a reduced home price is a great motivator. Lower prices encourage home buyers to make an offer and complete a deal. Even if a seller hasn't cut their listing price, they may be receptive to your lower-than-listing-price offer. 

  5. Faster, Easier Closings
    As homesellers make their year-end exit from the real estate market, they leave mortgage underwriters, home inspectors, appraisers, and other home closing professionals with a light workload. When your finance and closing documents cross their desks, they can complete your credit evaluation, title research, home appraisal, and related tasks faster than at other times of the year. 

Contact Old Dominion Realty if you're ready to make your dream of a new home a reality. Our real estate professionals will be here to help with your holiday home shopping.

October
30

Buying a House: How Much Does Commute Time Matter?

Commute Time Harrisonburg, VA

Buying a home is a big step, and there are many details to consider to help ensure that it is a step in the right direction. While commute time is a detail that many people tend to overlook – especially if they find a home or neighborhood they love – our real estate agents know that it's important to factor it into the decision-making process. How much does commute time matter? Taking on a long or stressful commute every day can impact your quality of life in many ways, so keeping commute time in mind as you shop for your home can prevent regrets later.

Why Commute Time Matters

Commute time can seem like a minor detail among the many things you'll need to look into as you compare Harrisonburg homes for sale. However, unless you're lucky enough to have a very flexible work situation, it's an aspect of life that you will have to deal with day in and day out, usually five days a week. Here are some of the ways that a longer commute could impact your daily life.

  • Commuting Can Be More Costly Than You Realize
    Most people drive themselves to work, and adding up the expenses of doing so means taking more than just the cost of gas into account. Other costs to tally up include any tolls you pay on your route, parking fees, auto insurance costs, which are partly based upon daily mileage, and the costs associated with wear and tear on your vehicle, including routine maintenance, occasional repairs and periodic replacement of tires, for instance. Those costs can stack up over time. According to CNN, the average American spends $2,600 per year getting back and forth to work. If your commute is longer than average, which CNN says is 45 minutes and the US Census Bureau places at 26.1 minutes, your costs will be higher. Factoring in these costs as part of your overall housing expenses can provide a clearer perspective on whether or not a home you are considering is as affordable as it may appear at first glance.

  • Commuting Can Eat Up A Lot of Your Time
    Whether you spend that 26.1 minutes each way, 45 minutes or more, that commuting time adds up over a five day week, and most certainly over the year. Even at the low end – 26.1 minutes each way – you'll spend more than four hours a week in the car and over 200 hours per year, leaving you much less time for other things, like spending time with family, household tasks, hobbies or relaxing after work.

  • Long Commutes Can Be Hard on Your Health
    Spending all that time on the road can cause stress levels to rise, and stress takes a toll on physical, emotional and mental health. Chronic stress is known to contribute to conditions that include anxiety, depression, back, neck and shoulder pain, overweight/obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, and heart disease, among others.

Of course, while long commutes may be stressful for some, they work quite well for others. Many people enjoy driving or just having that time to themselves to unwind before arriving home. Either way, it is important to weigh your options and know what you'll be getting into should you choose to purchase a home some distance from your workplace. For more tips on how to work out the best location to suit your needs as you shop for your new home, feel free to contact Old Dominion Realty – our team is always happy to help.

January
15

Harrisonburg VA Moving Guide

Moving to Harrisonburg Help
Making Your Move to Harrisonburg Easier

Located two miles south of Washington D.C. right between the beautiful Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains, Harrisonburg attracts new residents every year. It's a great place to move: Up-and-coming professionals, growing families, and retirees all find their way here.

As one of the three top Virginia cities in the area, Harrisonburg is noticeably less expensive than its neighbors Richmond and Alexandria--while still offering truly amazing homes.

Of course, you'll want to start enjoying everything Harrisonburg has to offer as soon as you can. That means taking care of the preliminaries so you'll be comfortable in your new home.

Here's how to navigate some of the most common issues when moving to Harrisonburg:

Driver's License and Registration

You'll find the local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) right on Rt. 11 at 3281 Peoples Drive, Harrisonburg, VA. To get your Virginia driver's license or ID, be sure you can bring multiple forms of identification (such as a passport or valid out-of-state ID.) You'll also need some mail and bills that include your local address, such as utility bills.

Vehicles must be inspected each year to be compliant with state rules. Any local auto servicing center approved to perform auto inspections can get this done for you. An inspection is necessary to accelerate the process of getting your local license plate and registration.

Electricity, Gas, and Fuel Oil

For electricity, you'll need an account with Harrisonburg Electric Company.

Residents moving from out of state may be surprised to see how common natural gas and fuel oil are in Virginia. It's good to be familiar with natural gas services at Columbia Gas of Virginia and propane gas services at AmeriGas. Some popular fuel oil providers include Columbia Gas of Virginia, Rockingham Petroleum Cooperative, and Quarles Energy Service.

Water and Sewer

If your home has existing water and sewer service, all you need to do is drop by the billing office and pay a deposit to switch the service to your name. When you make your deposit on the morning of a business day, you'll usually have service by the end of the day.

Trash Pickup

Trash pickup begins immediately for all Harrisonburg residents living on public streets. The city uses an "all-in-one" approach for its waste and recycling collection. Trash pickup schedule depends on your home's location. It's a good idea to review the local trash collection fees.

Public Transit

The local area provides a wide range of public transit options. In particular, Harrisonburg Department of Public Transportation is known for its clean and efficient buses. Bus schedule and route information can help you plan your trip. Also, take a look at Harrisonburg bus fares.

Pets

Dogs, cats, and other pets are welcome in Harrisonburg. All animals, regardless of species, must be on a leash while in public. Pet owners are responsible for cleaning up after pets while on walks. Animal bites should be reported to Animal Control at (540) 437-2670.

Virginia law requires current rabies vaccinations for dogs and cats aged 16 weeks and up. You can have this performed and get a certificate verifying vaccination status at any licensed veterinary office. Dog licenses are also required for any dog aged 16 and up – a dog license tag should be affixed to the pet's collar any time he or she is not on the owner's property.  Dog licenses are available from locations throughout the city.

We'll Help You Make Harrisonburg Your Home

Want help finding the best Harrisonburg homes? Our REALTORS® are the local experts. Contact Old Dominion Realty to get started.

Contact Old Dominion Realty

 

November
6

West Virginia is the Perfect Home for Hunters

West Virginia Home
Hunting is a West Virginia tradition that stretches back centuries to the time before our state was settled, and continues proudly to this day. It's a bonding opportunity for families, a sporting opportunity for competitors, and a key driver of the state's economy, generating nearly $270 million in revenue for West Virginia. Finding the right hunting property is easier when you start your search in West Virginia, because this is one of the best places in the country for deer hunters to call home. Our REALTORS® have all the details on why West Virginia is the place to be for hunters.

An Honored Tradition: Why West Virginia Communities are Perfect for Hunters

No matter where you choose to shop in our West Virginia communities, you'll find a great selection of properties that have been laid out with hunters in mind. There are fantastic hunting communities throughout the area, and today we're going to take a closer look at three of our favorites.

Hunting and Homes in Grant County

One of the best things about owning a hunting property is that you get to decide how the land is managed, and homes for sale in Grant County feature more than enough space for all of your outdoor needs. The Cave Mountain Ranch is an awesome example of what makes Grant County so special, and will quickly become one of your favorite destinations if you choose to call the community home.

Cave Mountain Ranch offers a unique, authentic hunting experience, with free ranging deer spread across a beautiful, natural hunting area. Use one of the permanent stands or blinds established on the property, or bring your own. Either way, you're in for a memorable hunt, and stories to tell while you're relaxing around the fire. There's also plenty of hunting away from the ranch, along with great hunting homes in the community.

Hunting and Homes in Pendleton County

Founded in 1787, Pendleton County has long been a top destination for hunters, and anyone who enjoys the gorgeous natural scenery of West Virginia. So Pendleton County homes for sale put you in close proximity to all of the outdoor excitement that the community has to offer. Take the time to enjoy hunting Grand Mountain, or head to the Thorn Creek Wildlife Management Area to hunt deer and small game. When you call Pendleton County home, the great outdoors are never far from your front door.

Hunting and Homes in Hardy County

Huntining Home in West Virginia

Hardy County homes for sale put you close to some of the best hunting that West Virginia has to offer, thanks to the Hardy County Rod & Gun Club, and the beautiful, 430-acre South Branch Wildlife Management Area. There are so many hunters in the Hardy County area that this is also a great place to make new friends, trade tips with other locals, and enjoy a community that simply "gets" what you're all about.

West Virginia Home for Hunters
Whether you're looking for a hunting property on a large, open lot, or a site with superb natural views, Hardy County has what you're after. There is real estate available with easy access to Moorefield, and smaller lots that still provide plenty of awesome hunting opportunities. If you're searching for the ideal lot to build your own hunting home, Hardy County has you covered there, too. This is a community where hunting dreams come true.

WV Home for Hunters

When you're searching for the right hunting property of your own, our real estate teams are here to help. Contact our offices in Moorefield or Franklin to find the perfect place to hunt, fish, and enjoy the outdoors.

Contact Old Dominion Realty

November
1

9 Neighborhoods Near James Madison University to Buy a Home

Find Your Home Near James Madison University

Buy a Home Near JMU
James Madison University (JMU), located in "The Friendly City" of Harrisonburg, is a nationally recognized university in Virginia and a plays a positive role in the cultural and economic livelihood of Harrisonburg and its surrounding communities.  JMU's seven colleges offer its students 124 bachelors, masters, and doctorate degree programs. The school's athletics program features tennis, swimming, golf not to mention a NCAA Division I Championship football program.

Harrisonburg-JMU Campus
JMU's beautiful campus and surrounding neighborhoods add the finishing touches that create an exciting university lifestyle.  

Harrisonburg - JMU - College

Faculty and staff members--many of whom relocate to Harrisonburg from other parts of the country--search to find Harrisonburg homes close to JMU to enjoy easy access to the university and the numerous businesses and attractions surrounding it.  Our REALTORS® have put together a list of the nine best neighborhoods near James Madison University to buy a home .

  1. Ashby Heights
    This quiet tree-lined neighborhood offers an assortment of attractive homes styles. Residential properties in Ashby Heights are beautifully landscaped, often with a backdrop of luxurious trees and greenery. Current home listings in the area range in from $269,000 to $549,000.

  2. Forest Hills
    The Forest Hills neighborhood features grand homes on beautifully landscaped lots. The neighborhood is an easily walkable distance to the JMU campus, Carrier Arboretum & Botanical Gardens, and other in-town features. Current home listings begin at $450,000.

  3. Old Town
    Old Town is located within the city's historic district. The neighborhood features broad streets and grand 19th and 20th-century homes. Its walkability to downtown and James Madison University make it an attractive location for university families. Current home listings range from $329,000 to $579,000.

  4. Pleasant Hill Acres
    This community is located at the center of the city. It offers nearby shopping and dining options and is close to JMU. Despite its central location, through traffic is prohibited in Pleasant Hill Acres. That makes it a quiet residential choice. Current home listings begin at $248,000.

  5. Preston Heights
    The Preston Heights neighborhood is located just beyond the JMU campus. It features large homes constructed on spacious lots. Current home sale prices in the neighborhood begin at $449,000.

  6. Stone Spring Village
    This quiet community is situated just south of the JMU campus. Homebuyers who choose Stone Spring Village can choose from a variety of existing homes and new home developments. Current listings begin at $274,000.

  7. Sunset Heights
    This community is located southwest of the James Madison University campus and features a variety of home designs. Sunset Heights is within walking distance of the JMU campus. Residents enjoy easy access to local businesses and social venues. Current home listings start at approximately $150,000.

  8. Purcell Park
    Purcell Park offers many of the same features of surrounding communities. It has tree-lined streets, walkability to nearby destinations and a quiet environment, but it offers more economical residential options. The homes are smaller and more affordable than those in grander JMU-adjacent neighborhoods. Current listings range from $155,000 to $209,000.

  9. Airhart
    Like most JMU-adjacent neighborhoods, Airhart residents enjoy comfortable, well-maintained homes and tree-lined streets. The area is walkable to local venues and convenient to public transportation options. Current home prices start at $219,000.

Your Harrisonburg Real Estate Professionals

It can be difficult to choose a home or neighborhood that's compatible with your lifestyle, but our professionals can help. Contact Old Dominion Realty to find a home in Harrisonburg home near James Madison University.

Contact Old Dominion Realty

October
26

Old Dominion Realty Open Houses | October 29

Open House Weekend
Don't forget to grab your umbrella when you head out to visit our open houses on Sunday.  The weatherman is predicting a 70 percent chance of precipitation with a high of 48 degrees; no better time to be inside getting an up-close look at what could possibly be your new home.

Our local real estate agents know the local Virginia and West Virginia real estate markets inside and out and are ready to show you homes in the area and to answer the questions you may have. Visit our open houses this weekend to find the home you've been dreaming of.

Featured Open Houses

158 Fairfield Dr, Staunton, VA 24401

Spring Lakes Subdivision

$445,000

Sq Ft: 2,250 | Beds: 4 | Baths: 2 (full) 

Open House: Sunday, October 29 from 2PM - 4PM

Open House - 158 Fairfield Drive, Staunton

 

166 Fairfield Dr, Staunton, VA 24401

$415,000

Sq Ft: 2,000 | Beds: 3 | Baths: 2 (full) 

Open House: Sunday, October 29 from 2PM - 4PM

166 Fairfield Drive, Staunton VA


14 Spring View Dr, Staunton, VA 24401

$247,500

Sq Ft: 1,610 | Beds: 3 | Baths: 2 (full) /1 (partial)

Open House: Sunday, October 29 from 2PM - 4PM

14 Spring View Drive, Staunton, VA

October
18

5 Traits of a Buyer-Friendly Neighborhood

5 Traits of a Buyer-Friendly Neighborhood
It's hard to size up a home at first glance, and even harder to judge an entire neighborhood, but both are important. If you're searching for a home, it's important to remember that your new home isn't just a house; it's a street, a neighborhood, and an entire city. So how do you know that your new neighborhood is the right one?

That's a question that our REALTORS® get asked a lot with many different answers. When you're planning on buying a house, these are the things to look for in the surrounding neighborhood:

  1. Lifestyle Match
    The best indicator that a neighborhood is right for you is that it's in sync with your lifestyle. This means something different to each person, but it's worth taking the time to size up a neighborhood and ask yourself if it suits your lifestyle. If you're an active person, your neighborhood should have plenty of trails and outdoor spaces. If you like to go out at night, it's nice to live somewhere with hopping nightlife. If you're kids are about to start school, it's essential that you evaluate local schools.

  2. Crime Rates
    The lower the crime rate in your neighborhood, the better. Crime rates are a good way to ascertain if a neighborhood is improving, getting worse, or staying the same. A number of online tools are available to find out more about a neighborhood's crime rate, but it's also a good idea to talk with the locals about it before buying a house.

  3. Pride in Ownership
    One way to evaluate an area is to find out if the people who live there take pride in their neighborhood. This is actually very easy to do—just look at the other houses. Are they neat, well-kept and maintained, or are they messy and falling into disrepair? If the homes are well taken care of, that's usually a sign that the people who live there care about their neighborhood.

  4. A Sense of History
    There's nothing wrong with moving into a new home in an up-and-coming neighborhood. But there's something undeniably appealing about a historic area, and it's not just the nostalgia factor. If you see well-kept historic homes on streets lined with old, mature trees, that shows that the neighborhood has been stable for a long time, and will probably continue to be in the future.

  5. Getting Around
    Consider the amenities in the neighborhood—stores, restaurants, schools, banks, hospitals—and think about how easy they are to get to. No one likes a long commute every day, and it's always better to have amenities close by. Ideally, a neighborhood should be easily walkable, have access to reliable public transportation, or both.

Before buying a house, contact Old Dominion Realty to learn more about homes for sale in Central Virginia's Shenandoah Valley and Eastern West Virginia. Our team will help you find a house and a neighborhood that you'll be happy to call home. 

 Contact Old Dominion Realty

October
10

5 Reasons to Go to an Open House--Even If You're Not Ready to Buy

5 Reasons to Attend an Open House
Anyone who has shopped for a home knows what it's like to spend countless hours dreaming about your ideal home, scouring every online listing in your area, and attending open houses to get an up-close look at your favorite properties.

These can all be fun activities when you're working to buy a house, and they also present valuable learning opportunities that will help you find the right deal for your needs. But is it still worth it to attend an open house, even if you're not ready to purchase? Our REALTORS® are here to explain why with five reasons to attend an open house even if you're not planning to buy.

  1. Learn More about Your Likes, Needs, and Wants
    Looking at homes online is fun, but it's hard to make decisions on what you want just by looking at photos or video of the home. Attending an open house allows you to see the features of a home up close and personal, so you can get a better idea of what you'll want when the time is right for you to buy a house. Be sure to take notes as you go, so that you'll have something to look back on when you're ready to shop for a home. 

  2. Get to Know Listing Agents
    Even if you're not ready to buy, getting to know local listing agents will serve you well when you do decide to enter the market. An open house is an excellent chance to see listing agents in action, ask questions, and see if the agent is someone you'd like to work with in the future. Finding the right real estate agent makes it so much easier to find the right home, and attending open houses will put you in touch with a diverse group of real estate agents in your area.

  3. Discover Design Ideas for Your Current Home
    Perhaps you own a home that you love, and don't see yourself leaving anytime soon. You can still benefit by attending an open house! Visiting different homes in your area is a fun, easy way to pick up interior design ideas, gauge the latest decorating trends, and learn more about landscaping. Attending open houses is also an excellent way to find staging ideas, in case you ever do decide to sell.

  4. Market Research
    Whether you're buying, selling, or browsing, attending open houses can tell you quite a bit about the real estate market in your area. If you find yourself visiting crowded open houses in the same neighborhoods, then there's a good chance homes are pretty hot in that area. Open houses also provide opportunities to trade intel with other shoppers, and discuss the market with listing agents.

  5. Dreaming of the Future
    There are plenty of practical reasons for visiting open houses when you don't plan to buy, but there's also nothing wrong with visiting an open house just to dream on your own future home. Dream of your favorite features, your ideal neighborhood, or the perfect home for your family. While you're there, you can still learn plenty of valuable tidbits for when you're ready to buy a house.

Are you ready to shop for your dream home, find the best open houses, or stage an open house of your own? Contact Old Dominion Realty to learn more about how our experienced, local team can help with all of your real estate needs.

Contact Old Dominion Realty

September
25

Should Your Next Move Be to a Smart Home?

Buying a House That's Smarter

Should You Buy a Smart Home
A growing number of homes for sale seem to include smart home technology.  CNBC.com reported in 2016 80 million smart home devices were delivered worldwide...a 64 percent increase from 2015.  Analysts predict despite the industry's growth last year, 2017 will be the year of the smart home because the companies behind the technology will be smarter about educating their consumers.

In a smart home, wireless technology allows you to control various systems and appliances easily using your smartphone, computer, or even voice commands.  There is no standard definition of what makes a smart home complete. Exciting new features are hitting the market regularly.

Our REALTORS® have compiled this list of some of the most common smart home features:

  • Lighting
    A smart home can automatically adjust lighting throughout the day. Your lights may brighten as evening comes on or turn on completely during the night while you're away. In some systems, lights automatically adjust based on occupancy of the room.
  • Thermostat
    If your thermostat is tied into your smart home system, you never need to worry about being too hot or cold. The system learns from your preferences and adjusts automatically. In advanced smart homes, each room has individualized temperature control.
  • Security
    Many smart homes are tied into your security system. They automatically lock your doors when you exit the house. You may benefit from advanced access control, such as finger or retina scan. And, of course, they can sound alarms and summon help against intruders.
  • Appliances
    Dozens of kitchen appliances are empowered with advanced smart features. There are refrigerators that can alert you when your favorite staples are low or tell you when something starts to go bad. You can control everything with a single interface.
  • Home Media System
    Those who love the home media experience will enjoy the benefits of a smart home. There are smart home systems that can automatically adjust picture settings and sound based on what you are watching--not to mention completely control your DVR.

Is a Smart Home Right for You?

The idea to buy a home with smart technology is an exciting one. Still, it's important to make sure you are getting what you want from your new system. Here are some of the most important considerations when picking out a smart home:

  • Cost
    If smart systems are already deployed in a home, they really shouldn't add much to the bottom line price. However, there can be some elements that operate as a subscription service. This is common with security system features. Keep your ongoing cost of ownership in mind.
  • Convenience
    Once you fully understand how everything works, there is nothing more convenient than a well-run smart home. However, there is a learning curve. If you don't enjoy dealing with technology, the first few weeks could be off-putting.
  • Information Security
    Since your smart devices are wireless and Internet-enabled, some of them may be vulnerable to hackers. The risk is very low, however, as long as you are willing to implement basic security habits into your day-to-day life--just like you do when you use your computer.

Whether you are looking for a modern smart home, a colonial classic, or a fixer-upper, our real estate agents are ready to help. Contact Old Dominion Realty today.

Contact Old Dominion Realty

September
12

7 Home Buying Secrets from the Pros

Home Buying Secrets from the Pros
Are you getting ready to buy a home? Whether it's your first or your fifth, you need to make sure you are ready. Here are seven secrets from our real estate pros that will make buying a home just a little bit easier.

  1. Make Sure You Can (Easily) Afford It
    It's easy to get sucked in to finding your dream home and shopping at the very top of your budget, but remember, your home is going to cost you, and more than just the mortgage amount. Make sure you aren't risking foreclosure  by buying a home you can't easily afford.

  2. Don't Sweat the Small Stuff
    The home's exterior and its "bones" are the most important thing. If it has ugly wallpaper or stained carpet, those are easy to fix. Often homes with aesthetic issues are more affordable than those in move-in ready condition, and you can get a true gem this way. As you're looking, make sure the home is one of the worst in the neighborhood, because you can improve it, but not the homes of your neighbors. The neighborhood around will add value when you're ready to sell. The best home in the neighborhood will have its value brought down by the surrounding properties.

  3. Go for Fixed
    Research mortgages with a "fixed" interest rate. The market is constantly changing, and most likely not in your favor, so keep that rate tied down. Adjustable rates can be tempting, especially because they seem more affordable, but remember they can (and probably will) go up.

  4. Keep Your Emotions in Check
    Your home isn't a boyfriend or girlfriend. Don't "fall in love." Until you sign on the dotted line and the home is officially yours, don't become emotionally invested. Something can go wrong, and if you are emotionally invested you can make poor buying decisions.

  5. Don't Skip the Inspection
    Even if you don't have to have one for your mortgage provider, you need an inspection. The home inspection helps you see beyond what you can typically see at a showing, so you get an unbiased opinion about the home and its inner workings. Take the information the inspector finds seriously, and don't buy a home with serious issues.

  6. Check out the Neighborhood
    Sort of like checking the medicine cabinet or meeting the family when dating, you want to stalk the neighborhood of the home you're considering. Visit at different times of day to see if there are any concerns, like neighbors who like to party well into the night or a neighborhood void of happy children for yours to play with on the weekend. Make sure the community, not just the home, fits your family.

  7. Forget Timing the Market
    Timing the market is nearly impossible. The best time to buy is when you can financially afford to and the right home comes along. The market will change, and waiting to time your purchase is going to make you crazy, and also cause you to miss a home that really fits you well.

Before you hit the market in earnest searching for your home, have the right real estate team on your side. Contact Old Dominion Realty to get more home buying information from our expert agents.

Contact Old Dominion Realty

 

September
6

5 Home-Buying Myths You Should Stop Believing Today

Setting the Record Straight About Buying a Home 

Setting the Record Straight about Home Buying Myths
Purchasing a home can be an overwhelming process--especially for first-time home buyers. There are a number of factors to consider when you're looking for the right home for you and your family. One of the first things to think about is finding the best financing to match your lifestyle and financial status.

While family and friends may offer well-meaning advice, it's always best to consult a real estate professional to set the record straight when you're buying a home.

When you're ready to start your home search, our real estate agents are here to help. In the meantime, here are five home-buying myths you should stop believing today.

  1. Perfect Credit Score is Necessary
    Good credit score is essential. The better your credit history, the higher your chances of getting better mortgage rates. However, this does not mean you need a credit of 800 to purchase a home. Otherwise, most people would not be able to own residential property. Ideally, you should ensure that your credit is at least 640; however, some lenders will work with credit scores between 580 and 620.

  2. Bad Credit Score Does Not Matter
    It is not wise to believe a bad credit score does not matter when purchasing a new home. If you have a poor credit score of 550 and below as well as numerous unpaid bills and loans, mortgage lenders may be unwilling to accommodate you.

  3. Renting is Inexpensive
    Most potential home buyers shy away from buying a new home because they believe that the cost of purchase is too high. Instead, they choose renting as the least expensive alternative. While buying a home will be one of your most significant investments, it does not mean that renting is cheaper. The payments you would use for your mortgage just end up being your rental fee. If you add up the total charges, you will realize that buying your own home may be cheaper in the long run.

  4. Older Homes are Cheaper
    The new and older homes for sale are available in our local real estate market. Both options have pros and cons for first-time home buyers. Unfortunately, inexperienced individuals believe that older homes are naturally the less expensive of the two. Initially, newly built homes can be more expensive than older homes; however, new homes most likely not need the remodeling and general repairs of an older home. While an older home appears fine at the start, you must be willing to budget finances and time for restoration and repairs.

  5. Down Payment Must Be 20 Percent
    Many potential buyers have shied away from buying a home because they assume a 20% down payment is required. For most homes, this is a significant chunk of your money and savings, so the prospect of paying can be daunting. The good news is that this is a misconception. The down payment will vary, depending on the type of loan and lender. Moreover, there are programs in place to help buyers attain a lower down payment percentage.

If you would like comprehensive advice about buying a home, contact Old Dominion Realty for help and advice.

Contact Old Dominion Realty

August
28

How to Qualify for a Home Loan

How to Qualify for Home Loan

Obtaining approval for a home loan is one of the most important things that you'll do in the process of buying a house – and for many people it's one of the most intimidating. Even if your financial picture is in great shape for obtaining a mortgage, it's not always easy to know where to start, what steps to take, and who you can turn to for advice. Here is a review of what it takes to qualify for a mortgage.

Follow These Steps to Simplify the Process of Obtaining a Home Loan

The most important thing to remember about qualifying for a mortgage is that it really pays to be prepared. Understanding the basics of how the process works ultimately saves time, makes life easier, and leads to better results.

  • Credit Score and Credit Report

    Your credit score plays a major role in your ability to qualify for a loan, as well as the terms that will be available to you. When it comes to credit score, higher is better, and the best way to build a high score is by paying back debts on time consistently. This can include credit card debt, auto loans, and most other types of loans.

    Your credit report is also a factor, and it's evaluated similar to your credit score. So if you have large, outstanding debts or judgments that have not been paid, there is a good chance you'll need to "clean up" those issues before qualifying for a mortgage.

  • Down Payment

    The down payment you're able to make is another big factor in qualifying for a loan, and the typical minimum down payment is 3.5 percent of the home's value for an FHA loan, and 5 to 10 percent of the home's value for a conventional mortgage. An FHA loan is an option for first-time home-buyers, and is also more forgiving when it comes to past credit issues. There is flexibility to make a larger down payment as well, if the finances work for you. Just remember to leave extra room in your budget for closing, moving, and other costs.

  • Debt-to-Income Ratio

    Put simply, the lender wants to know that you have a steady source of income, and that your income is enough to consistently make the necessary payments on your mortgage. This is one part of the process that often requires significant documentation, so it's a good idea to gather recent pay-stubs, your W-2 or 1099, federal tax returns, as well as comprehensive lists of your assets and debts. Combined, these documents help provide a clear, detailed picture of your finances for the lender.

  • Don't Be Afraid to Ask Questions

    Obtaining a mortgage is a complex process, especially when you're doing it for the first time. So don't be afraid to ask for help from trusted sources! Your real estate agent can tell you a ton about what it takes to qualify, and maybe even recommend lenders who could be a good fit for your needs.

    Shopping around for a loan is also encouraged, both for getting the most favorable terms and understanding exactly what your options will be. It will also help you identify the lender you'd most like to work with, which can go a long way toward simplifying the process.

Searching for the right home, and the right real estate team to help accomplish your home-ownership goals? Contact Old Dominion Realty to buy and sell homes in Virginia and West Virginia real estate markets.

Contact Old Dominion Realty

August
23

Why Real Estate Agents Ask if You're Pre-approved

Pre-approval Process
If you've been house hunting for any amount of time, there's a good chance you're all too familiar with the process. You find a few homes, meet the agents, and shake some hands. The conversation moves on to the type of homes you like, the type of neighborhood you're looking for, and maybe even making preliminary plans to visit an open house.

But before things get too far, you get the question that every experienced real estate agent asks of new clients: Are you pre-approved for a mortgage?

For some home buyers, the question comes as a shock. Aren't you supposed to be the one evaluating which real estate agent you want to work with? As it turns out, there are some very good reasons that your real estate agent asks about pre-approval.

The biggest thing to remember about mortgage pre-approval is that it has the potential to make life much easier for both you and your agent when you're buying a house. It's also good to remember that there's a big difference between assuming that you can attain a mortgage, and actually doing it – even if your credit score and finances are in great shape. With that in mind, here's why your real estate agent asks whether you're pre-approved:

  • Identifying Serious Home-Buyers
    Buying a house is a time-intensive process for you and your real estate agent. Most experienced agents ask about pre-approval because getting pre-approved shows that you are serious buyer. This is also a question your agent will ask of any buyer who wants to work with them. It's nothing personal, but agents simply want to make sure they are investing their limited time wisely.

  • Negotiate from a Position of Strength
    Obtaining pre-approval for a mortgage allows you to negotiate from a strong position. It gives you a good idea of what you will be able to spend on your home, and shows the seller that you'll be ready to hold up your end of the bargain once your offer is accepted. It's one thing to say you have the money, and another to be able to prove it.

  • Satisfying Sellers
    It's not just your real estate agent who might be interested in whether you're pre-approved. There's a pretty good chance that the seller will be, too! Pre-approval also shows the seller that you're serious about making a purchase, have done your homework, and are ready to get into the details of the negotiation.

  • A Simple Safety Step
    In some cases, showing a house alone or meeting with a new client can be a safety risk for real estate agents. Some agents have been the victims of crimes when meeting with someone who claims to be an interested customer. The agent doesn't know who you are, where you came from, or what your goals are; pre-approval shows them that you are a serious shopper. That provides peace of mind for your real estate agent, and makes it easier for both sides to take the next step.

Obtaining pre-approval is just one step on the path to buying a house. Contact Old Dominion Realty to buy and sell homes throughout the Eastern West Virginia and Central Virginia's Shenandoah Valley real estate areas.

Contact Old Dominion Realty

June
19

Staunton's Gypsy Hill Park - The Place for Summer Entertainment

Gypsy Hill Park - A Local Staunton Treasure 

Gypsy Hill Park Summer

Gypsy Hill Park remains a gem in the Shenandoah Valley's treasure chest with almost-nightly entertainment for the entire family.  Staunton neighbors come together at Gypsy Hill Park for play, a picnic or perhaps an evening concert.  In fact, when it comes to summertime in Staunton, Gypsy Hill Park is the central focus of much that takes place throughout the community. Here's why the park remains one of the top attractions for those who purchase homes in Staunton.

A Sprawling 214 Acres with Something for Everyone

Gypsy Hill Park spreads out over 214 acres and offers something for everyone. Not only will you find a public golf course here, but you'll also find football and baseball stadiums, a lake, two different playgrounds, a public pool, baseball fields, volleyball and tennis courts, horseshoe pits, and a gymnasium for basketball. For the little kids, the Gypsy Express mini-train is a big hit, and the Duck Pond is a favorite with families as well. Throughout the park covered pavilions offer grills and picnic tables, and The Bandstand is home to quite a number of season events. With just this description alone, it's easy to see why Gypsy Hill Park is the meeting place for the summer.

July 4 at Gypsy Hill Park

While Gypsy Hill Park is available year-round for summer fun, on the Fourth of July one of the biggest celebrations of the year takes place. In fact, in 2017 America's Birthday Celebration is so big, it takes two days for it all.

The festivities begin at 2:00 on Monday, July 3, when the Opening Ceremony takes place, followed by the introduction of the Miss America's Birthday Celebration winners. A concert from NOVA and then an Elvis Tribute by Ron Gilbert follow the presentation.

At 5:00, the Shenandoah Valley Bagpipe Band will take to the stage, followed by a presentation from the community children's choir, teen challenge choir and the America's Birthday Celebration Community Choir. Messages from two local preachers will be intermixed with the choir numbers, and the evening will conclude with the Stonewall Brigade Band.

On the Fourth, the day begins with the News Leader Firecracker 5K at 8. The entire community comes out to the Park for the America's Birthday Celebration Parade at 10:00. The rest of the day, various artists will take to the Bandstand and perform numbers, including many patriotic pieces.

Of course, the Fourth of July isn't complete without fireworks. Before the fireworks, the Retiring of the Colors and the performance of Taps will signal the end of the concerts. At 10, the sky above the lake will come alive with brilliant bursts of color as the community celebrates America's birthday in style.

Our REALTORS® in Staunton can help you find your ideal home to enjoy this welcoming community for yourself. Contact Old Dominion Realty to get started on your search for the perfect home in Augusta County.

Contact Old Dominion Realty

June
12

Cooling Down AC Costs in Your Staunton Home

5 Tips for Staying Cool in Staunton without Breaking the Budget

Cooling Down A/C Costs

Summer is just around the corner in Staunton and your A/C system will soon be working overtime. There's nothing like stepping through the door of your comfortable, air-conditioned home after a day in the summer sun--the good news is that keeping your home cool doesn't have to break the bank. Our REALTORS® have created these simple, money-saving, home cooling tips so you don't have to sacrifice air-conditioned comfort this summer.

Start by understanding how much energy you're using and where that energy is going. Running the A/C all day long naturally costs more than running it in shorter intervals, but the efficiency of your cooling system also plays a big role in costs. Once you have an idea of how much you're paying, you can get to work on lowering those costs.

  1. A/C, As Needed
    Running the air-conditioning while nobody's home is an easy way to rack up high cooling bills. You don't have to run the system all day for your home to be cool when your return. Consider picking up a smart thermostat, so that you can set your home to be a comfortable temperature when you arrive without wasting energy and money. When you're home, set the thermostat to the highest temperature where you still feel comfortable.

  2. Ceiling Fans
    Ceiling fans are an excellent way to keep cool during the evening and on those summer days that aren't total scorchers. Running a fan won't really cool the air in the room, but it moves the air around and the wind-chill factor makes the air feel cooler than it actually is. Ceiling, box and window fans can all be efficient sources of cooling during the summer. The extra cooling from a fan may also allow you to set the A/C a few degrees warmer to save on energy. 

  3. A/C Maintenance
    Central air-conditioning is a beautiful thing in the summer. Keeping up with regular maintenance is one of the most important steps to lowering cooling costs. Be sure to check your filters regularly based on the manufacturer's instructions. Call in an HVAC pro at the start of each summer to make sure your system is ready to operate at maximum efficiency.

  4. Efficient Appliances
    Buying new A/C equipment is a significant investment, but opting for a more efficient heating and cooling system may save you money in the long run. Look for the EnergySTAR label when shopping for a new A/C system paying close attention to those efficiency ratings. While it doesn't apply directly to cooling costs, shopping for more efficient kitchen, laundry and electronic appliances is also a great way to save on costs year-round.

  5. Seal Drafts
    Sealing drafts is a common project in the winter to keep cool air out of homes in Staunton and doing the same in the summer will help you keep the cool air inside. Silicone caulk works wonders around the doors, windows and vents where drafts most commonly develop and sealing is an easy DIY project to tackle.

Still searching for the perfect place to keep cool this summer in Staunton, VA? Our team is here to help you find the right home, for the right price. Contact Old Dominion Realty to buy and sell homes in Staunton, VA.

Contact Old Dominion Realty

 

June
5

7 Super Smart Ways to Save for a Down Payment

A Larger Down Payment Can Save You Money in the Long Run

Save for a Down Payment
Is buying a house on your bucket list? Saving for a down payment is an important first step. When you make a substantial down payment, it lets you save on your mortgage financing. The larger your down payment, the sooner you'll be able to pay off your home loan.

Most financing arrangements require at least a small down payment when buying a house. It is not unusual for down payments to range anywhere from two to ten percent of the home's appraised value. That can be a lot of money, so planning is essential.

Our real estate agents have created this list to increase your odds for success:

  1. Start With Your Goal in Mind
    If you don't have a clear goal to start with, odds are good you'll never reach it! There are two big factors you need to figure out first: How much you need to save and when you need it. These are the big factors that will help you determine how aggressive your saving needs to be. Of course, it never hurts to have savings, so don't be afraid to challenge yourself.
  2. Set a Budget
    Many people have a general budget, but don't pay very close attention to it. When you are saving for a major purchase such as a home, it's essential to start with a sound budget you can consult every week. The simple act of writing down how much you spend in each expense category will help you find ways to save more money. Even putting aside $100 a month will help.
  3. Use Automated Savings
    A payroll savings plan is the best way to consistently save for a big purchase. It will help you make sure you are constantly banking a certain amount. Allocate a percentage of your pay to go directly toward your savings goal. You'll be less tempted to use the money for other things, and you'll know approximately when you will reach certain savings milestones.
  4. Small Savings Count, Too
    You can save money and thus move more into your savings – by finding ways to save a little bit more each day. For example, many banks offer a savings plan where they "round up" each small transaction and put the remainder in savings. You should also look at financial instruments such as credit cards and checking accounts. Are you losing money to fees?
  5. Bank Any Unexpected Cash
    Every now and then, the average person runs into a little extra money. Tax returns are the biggest and most predictable example, but there may be others. Be sure to bank these rather than using them right away. Be proactive in looking for ways to create your own windfalls: For example, selling unwanted things in a yard sale or on eBay can net several hundred dollars in a day.
  6. Add Income if You Can
    The internet offers thousands of ways to add a little additional income to your bottom line each month. Of course, you shouldn't be working 80-hour days to make your down payment – you'll just end up burnt out. After all, your "savings" budget is your future "household" budget, too! Still, you may be able to add a few hundred in just a couple of hours each weekend. It's worth it.
  7. Celebrate Your Milestones
    Saving up for a long period of time can seem abstract and tiring. Look over your local real estate listings from time to time to remember what it's all for: Buying a house!

Thinking about buying a home in Harrisonburg, Staunton, or Moorefield? Contact Old Dominion Realty for personalized help and advice from our team of local real estate experts.

April
10

Historic Homes in Staunton Mary Baldwin University

Living in Historic Staunton, VA

Staunton Historic Homes - Mary Baldwin College

Staunton, Virginia is a beautiful community with a rich history and vibrant present. Its unblemished historic districts and the breathtaking backdrop of the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains are breathtaking, but this thriving community has much more to offer. Not only is it home to the only replica of William Shakespeare's famous Blackfriars Theatre anywhere in the world, it's also the location of Mary Baldwin University and carries the nickname of the Queen City of Shenandoah Valley.

Historic Mary Baldwin University

Known as Augusta Female Seminary at its founding in 1842, Mary Baldwin University boasts 175 years of experience providing excellent education in an all-female setting. It offers one of few remaining all-female residential undergraduate programs available in Virginia, as well as an array of co-ed residential undergraduate programs, co-ed graduate degree programs and education opportunities for non-traditional students. Mary Baldwin University (MBU) is home to the world's only existing all-female cadet corps and has garnered recognition as one of the best colleges in the region.

MBU's administrative offices are housed in the historic Main Building, built in 1844. Greek Doric columns grace the façade of the building, which has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) since 1973. Other historic places on campus include:

  • Hilltop – Built around 1810, Hilltop was originally designed to be a private dwelling but was converted to dormitory use. It was listed with the NRHP in 1979.
  • C.W. Miller House – Also called the Mary Baldwin College Music Building, the house was built in 1899 and 1900 and sold to the college in 1941. It's a historic home listed with the NRHP in 1979.
  • Rose Terrace – Originally a single-family home when built in 1875, this historic residence housed the Augusta Sanitarium for nine years beginning in 1910. It was purchased by the college in 1919, when it was pressed into use as the home of the college president. Currently, it's a student dormitory that has enjoyed a place on the NRHP since 1979.

MBU is a gem of history and gorgeous historic homes in Staunton, Virginia. Encompassing nearly 60 acres, the university provides a variety of educational opportunities, including:

  • College of Business and Professional Studies
  • College of Arts and Sciences
  • Murphy Deming College of Heath Sciences
  • Program for the Exceptionally Gifted
  • Mary Baldwin College for Women

At Mary Baldwin University, there are endless opportunities for personal enrichment of students through social interactions and exploration of what the future might hold.

Culture and Life in the Queen City

There's more history in Staunton than just MBU. Staunton, Virginia has five beautiful historic districts surrounding the downtown area. They're all best explored on a walking tour, giving you a reason to get out and enjoy the wonderful weather. Get your exercise as you window-shop along pleasant streets lined with Victorian storefronts and exceptional architectural sights like the Trinity Church, which boasts stunning Tiffany windows.

If you'd rather take in a play, the Blackfriars Playhouse is an absolute must. The stage is a replica of Shakespeare's own indoor theater and the American Shakespeare actors grace the stage to deliver perfectly-timed lines from the famous poet with Elizabethan lilt.

This community makes it easy to find something great to eat, unique places to shop and beautiful, historic Staunton homes and architecture. At Old Dominion Realty, we understand how special Staunton is. If you're considering moving to the Queen City of the Shenandoah Valley, our REALTORS® in Staunton are ready to help. Contact us for listings of great homes in Staunton to get started finding your perfect place in this historic community.

Contact Old Dominion Realty

December
21

Streamlining Your House Hunt

How to Organize Your Home Search

Streamline Your House Hunt

Home shoppers have more resources than ever to research homes, neighborhoods and even real estate agents. The challenge is that with so much information available, it's easy to become disorganized or downright overwhelmed during the process. When faced with a bunch of information, a big to-do list and little time, the best thing to do is to develop an organized plan that will allow you to attack the task with confidence. Our REALTORS® have created these tips to streamline the home search process.

  • Make a List (or Three) – Make lists of your must-haves, the items that you want but don't need and the issues that would make you pass on a home immediately. You can always update your lists if your priorities change as you visit homes. These lists will be a useful guidepost throughout the process.

  • Drive-Through Visits – Remember that you're "buying" a neighborhood just as much as you're buying a house, so it's a good idea to spend some time in the neighborhoods that pique your interest. This is not the time to visit specific houses, but rather to drive through the neighborhood, identify properties for future visits and assess whether the local amenities suit your lifestyle. It's also a perfect opportunity to have some fun by sampling the nearby entertainment and dining options.

  • Write It Down – Between your real estate agent, the listings you research online and the referrals you receive from people you know, you're likely going to have quite a few homes to visit. Write down the address and general location of any listings that catch your eye, and plan visits so that you'll be able to check out multiple homes on each trip.

  • Smart Scheduling – A bit of planning ahead will save a ton of time (and gas) when it's time to start visiting homes. Your real estate agent can help you plan your visits efficiently. This is where that list of locations and addresses will come in handy. Just remember that while it's good to be efficient in planning visits, you don't want to plan so many that you get overwhelmed on any given day.

  • Keep Score – Since you'll be making a lot of visits, it's important to have an easy way to keep track of everything you learn during the house-hunting process. Rate each home based on the criteria that matter most to you. Your scores will be a huge help in comparing homes, and in finding the best value for your investment.

  • Involve Your Agent – Your real estate agent should be your go-to resource for answering questions and scheduling visits. Choose an agent you're comfortable working with, and rely on them anytime you need help during the process. In addition to possessing a deep knowledge of the local real estate market, a good real estate agent should also be a neighborhood expert.

There's no doubt that shopping for a home is exciting and with the right plan in place it can also be efficient. Contact us for help searching for and buying your new home.

Contact Old Dominion Realty

October
13

7 Tips to Protect Your Home From Fire

Smoke Alarms Save Lives

Smoke Alarms Save Lives

"Don't Wait: Check the Date! Replace Smoke Alarms Every 10 Years" is this year's theme for Fire Prevention Week sponsored each year by the National Fire Protection Association.  This year's choice of themes came from a recent survey conducted by NFPA, which revealed only a small percentage of homeowners know the age of their smoke alarms or how often they need to be replaced.

Whether you're a current homeowner or someone interested in buying a house, it's a good idea to review the age and location of smoke detectors in your current (or future) home. 

7 Tips About Home Smoke Alarms

Did you know that three out of every five home fire deaths in our country resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or smoke alarms that don't work?  Here are seven tips our team of real estate agents from Old Dominion Realty would like you to consider about the importance of smoke alarms as a homeowner, home buyer or if you're getting ready to sell your home.

  1. Install working smoke alarms in each bedroom as well as one outside each sleeping area. There should be an alarm on every level of your home as well as in the basement.
  2. Larger homes may need extra smoke alarms.
  3. Smoke alarms should be tested once a month by pressing the test button to be sure they are working.  Smoke alarms are an important first line of defense in fire prevention.  If they don't work (or aren't present), they can't protect you.  Information indicates nearly 40 percent of home fire deaths happen in homes with no smoke alarms and another 23 percent in homes with smoke alarms that don't work.
  4. Installing interconnected smoke alarms is recommended because when one smoke alarm sounds they all sound.  There are two kinds of smoke alarms—ionization and photoelectric. Ionization smoke alarms are quicker to warn about flaming fires. Photoelectric alarms are quicker to warn about smoldering fires. It's best to use both types of alarms in the home.
  5. Mount smoke alarms on the ceiling or high on a wall.   Smoke alarms should be kept away from the kitchen to reduce false alarms and at least 10 feet from the stove.
  6. There are special smoke alarms for people who are hard-of-hearing or deaf that use strobe lights and bed shakers.
  7. The NFPA recommends replacing smoke alarms after 10 years because that is typically the life expectancy of the units and when they begin to lose their sensitivity.  You can determine the age of the smoke alarm by looking on the back or side of the smoke alarm, where the date of manufacture is shown.

Contact Old Dominion Realty

Incorporating these fire prevention safety tips are good practices to include as part of your homeownership plans. Contact our Old Dominion Realty real estate agents when you're ready to buy or sell your home.

July
27

10 Common Moving Mistakes to Avoid

Avoid These Pitfalls When Moving Into Your New Home

Home Buyer Moving Mistakes

Moving can be chaotic and complicated.  When clients share their experiences about moving into a new home, we often hear the same types of stories and answer similar questions.  Consequently, our team at Old Dominion Realty has compiled this list of the top ten most common moving mistakes home buyers make when moving into a new home with tips on how to avoid them.

# 1 Procrastinating

Waiting until the last minute to pack and hire movers is a no-no. Save yourself stress by preparing in advance of your moving date. It might be helpful to complete one thing each day so that you are not overwhelmed.

# 2 Hiring the Wrong Mover

There are many movers to choose from and services vary greatly. Conduct research before choosing a moving company. If their offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Before signing anything, go over the fine print, looking for hidden fees.

# 3 Not Getting a Written Estimate

A written estimate is important when it comes to hiring movers. There are typically two different kinds of estimates:

  • Non-binding-This gives you an idea of how much your move will cost. If the estimate is in writing, the rate can only be increased 10 percent.
  • Binding-This is a legal document. It provides a detailed estimate of the charges, which cannot be changed unless you withheld pertinent information from the mover.

#4 A DIY Move

Although it might be cheaper, trying to move your things yourself can lead to hassle. In the end, it is probably not worth the money saved. Many things can go wrong with a DIY move, such as dropping your new 65-inch television or crashing into a parked car with the moving truck.

# 5 Not Organizing Boxes

When you are in a hurry, you might be tempted to just throw everything into boxes. Trying to sort through unorganized boxes can be a nightmare. Properly organize and label everything. Pack things that you will need right away, such as toilet paper, into a specially-labeled box to make it easy to find things that you will need immediately.

#6 Forgetting to Donate

Most people have things that they do not need anymore. Moving is an opportunity to get rid of possessions that you do not use. As you pack up your belongings, ask yourself if you really need each item that you come across. Keep only things that you really will use.

#7 Not Securing Your Valuables

The majority of moving companies are not liable for valuables. Take the time to separately pack valuables, such as expensive jewelry, and transport it to your new home yourself.

# 8 Forgetting to Transfer Your Utilities

There is nothing worse than moving into your new home, only to realize that you forgot to transfer the utilities. Request that major utilities be turned on by your move-in date and do not forget to turn off the utilities at your old house.

#9 Not Making an Inventory List

An inventory list is very important as it lets you know that everything from your home is packed. Check the list again when your items are unloaded at your new home. Mark any missing items and ask out how you can make a claim for them.

#10 Forgetting About Your Pet

With the chaos of moving, it is easy to forget about your pet. If you have a pet, ask yourself these questions ahead of time:

  • Do you have a carrier?
  • Is your pet current on all of their shots?
  • Do you have all of your pet's medications and necessary supplies?

Contact Old Dominion Realty

Old Dominion Realty specializes in helping families in the West Virginia and Virginia real estate areas sell their houses and find new homes for sale.  When you have a trusted REALTOR® on your side, finding and moving into a new home is a sna p.  Contact Old Dominion Realty today.

June
6

5 Questions to Ask at an Open House

Buying a House? Get Answers to These Home Buying Questions

Buying a House Open House Questions

It's exciting to attend an open house. The possibility of finding the home you have been looking for is enough to get your heart pumping. In your enthusiasm, it's easy to forget to ask some important questions that will help you determine whether the home you are looking at will fit your family's needs and financial objectives. When it comes to buying a house, the following are five questions you should remember to ask the next time you attend an open house:

1.  Why are the Sellers Moving?

Maybe they got a job offer, or possibly decided it was time to move closer to family. These are great reasons to move. However, if they're moving because they can't handle the noise coming from the neighbor's parties, or the airplanes flying overhead, these are things you want to know about when you are buying a house.

2.  How are the Jones'?

Everyone wants to have good neighbors, and it is important to know who your neighbors are. Maybe they are doctors, or maybe they are teachers. You might have an entrepreneur to the left, or possibly an artist across the street. Whoever they might be, you will want to find out who they are, and what they do for a living as these factors can influence your comfort and enjoyment of the home.

3.  Does the Home have "Issues?"

We're not suggesting you ask whether the home or its occupants need counseling, either. Major issues such as leaky pipes, cracking masonry, or a shifting foundation can cost tens of thousands of dollars to repair. The Virginia Residential Property Disclosure Act does not require homeowners or their agents to disclose problems with a property unless they are asked. As such, make sure to ask very specific questions about the condition of the home.

4.  What are the Utility and Tax Bills?

These are considerable expenses that come with owning a home and it is imperative to know them upfront. These can have a significant impact on your monthly budget and you will want to know what they are so that you can factor them into your plans. You should also ask the homeowner if the home's insulation, HVAC, or plumbing systems have been upgraded to include energy saving features. If they have not, you may be able to ask for concessions during the negotiation process. These concessions can help you purchase energy saving appliances and plumbing fixtures that can help reduce your energy bills down the road.

5.  What is the Seller's Timeline?

The seller's motivations for moving can have a significant impact on their timeline. A seller moving for retirement may wait until they get the offer they want, whereas a seller moving for a job transfer might be ready to accept the best offer they think they can get. Ascertaining their timeline and motivations can give you help you strategize negotiations. It is also a good idea to determine whether there are any offers and what those offers might be.

Other questions you should search out for yourself include area schools, places to shop, and nearby restaurants to grab a bite to eat. You and your real estate agent will also want to check local crime reports, traffic patterns, and the history of real estate prices in the area.

Contact Old Dominion Realty

Our REALTORS® at Old Dominion Realty can help you navigate the process of buying a houseContact us to learn more about the local real estate markets we serve and how we can help you during your real estate purchase.

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