Articles Tagged "homeowner tips"

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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.


What to Know Before Adding a Pool To Your Property

Pool Tips

Having a pool in your own backyard sounds idyllic; on a hot, muggy summer day, you can cool off with a refreshing swim within minutes. Or, instead of the traditional cookout, pool parties are on the itinerary for your friends and family members.

Before you decide to install a pool, our real estate agents recommend considering the following factors that could potentially affect your decision. 


  • The Zoning Laws in Your Area
    Zoning laws aren't typically your first concern when you envision having your own pool, but they can impact your ability to install a pool on your property. Many towns have strict laws concerning fencing and safety precautions for residential pools. These laws can affect your budget and plans for your pool. Or, you may need to apply for a permit to add certain types of pools. If you install a pool without the right permits, you'll have trouble selling your home if you decide to add it to the inventory of Rockingham homes for sale

Pool Parties

  • How You Plan to Use Your Pool
    Spend a few minutes envisioning how you will use your pool. Do you want to add a daily swim to your exercise regime? Or, are you more interested in having a fun spot for summer parties and gatherings? Your purpose for the pool will impact the best design and materials for your pool, as well as the surrounding area. For example, if you want to use your pool for entertaining, you'll likely want to add a large patio to accommodate chairs and pool toys for your guests. Or, if your pool plans involve lots of lap swimming, an endless pool gives you the aquatic area you need without taking up as much of your yard. 
  • Whether You Plan to Remain in Your Home Long Term
    While you might not know your exact plans for your future, consider if your current home is a place that you want to stay for years or indefinitely. Adding a pool is a significant expense, and it usually doesn't provide a stellar return for your investment when you add your home to the list of Bridgewater homes for sale. Some potential homebuyers may even view a pool as a negative when shopping for potential homes. If you only plan to remain in your home for another couple of years, installing a pool may not be the best use of your funds. However, if you plan to remain in your home for a decade or more, the expense seems a bit more reasonable to ensure your home is suited to your needs and preferences. 


  • Your Budget
    There are a lot of costs associated with installing a pool, and you want to make sure that your budget can handle the expense. In addition to the cost of the pool itself, you have to factor in expenses for preparing your yard or, if you're installing an in-ground pool, the costs associated with excavating your property. There are also a seemingly endless number of features you can add to your pool, like ambient lighting, jets, and waterfalls. These extras will quickly cause the price of your pool to balloon. Another detail to think about is whether you prefer a chlorine or saltwater pool. Chlorine pools are usually initially cheaper, but they're difficult and more expensive to maintain. Saltwater pools have a higher upfront cost, but the maintenance is less cumbersome, and they're cheaper to operate. A pool also has ongoing costs that you'll need to account for. You'll likely pay a higher homeowner's insurance premium due to the liability of owning a pool, and you'll spend more on utilities to keep your pool running. Pools also need maintenance and periodic repairs to keep them running smoothly. 
  • How Quickly You Want to Start Using Your Pool
    Unfortunately, a pool is a home improvement project that can potentially take months to complete. If you want access to a pool immediately to improve your personal fitness, this isn't realistic. Plan on joining a local gym with an aquatic center to get your training done while your pool is being installed. Or, perhaps you're hosting an event and want to make sure your pool won't disrupt the aesthetic. If you're in a situation where a yard undergoing construction isn't acceptable, it may be best to delay your pool's installation. It's best to install a pool with minimal expectations about how long the installation process will take. Materials may be delayed, or the project just might take longer than expected. 

A pool sounds like a fantastic outside addition, but there are a lot of factors to think about that will influence your final decision. Want a home with more outside space? Contact us today!


How to Create a Hobby Space in Your Home

Hobby room

When you schedule a block of time to enjoy a hobby, it's frustrating to discover that your supplies and equipment are scattered throughout your home, or even worse, that you can't locate them at all. You wind up spending a portion of your craft time tracking down and organizing your stuff. Our real estate agents know that setting up a hobby space in your home is an efficient solution to this problem. Here are some tips to follow when setting up your hobby space. 

Work Surfaces

  • Decide What Furnishings You Need
    Each hobby requires different equipment and furniture. If you like to build or assemble models, you'll likely want a sturdy work table. However, if you enjoy knitting or crocheting, you'll want a comfortable, supportive chair. The storage that you need should also be personalized to your hobby. Make a list of your storage needs so you can keep them in mind as you create your space. A metal utility cart is a popular storage choice for multiple hobbies because it's perfect for holding smaller bins, and you can easily maneuver it around the room. Before purchasing any new furnishings, consider the room's dimensions and the size of your items to make sure that everything will comfortably fit. 

  • Pick the Right Location for Your Space
    The ideal area in your home for your hobby space will also depend on your preferred activity. For example, if you like to play an instrument, you'll want a room away from your home's sleeping spaces with additional insulation. Or, if you like to paint and prefer to do so with a lot of natural light, set your space up in a room with windows. Keep in mind any electrical needs that you have for your equipment. If you frequently operate electrical equipment, you'll want to choose a space with access to an electrical outlet. Or, if you have a hobby that requires a large amount of electrical capacity, you may need to upgrade the room's electrical outlets. 

  • Make Sure Your Work Surfaces are the Right Height
    When using a table, the surface should be the proper height. Otherwise, you risk having to hunch over and potentially straining your back. If you'll be standing while you work, a table that's 36 inches high is usually suitable. However, if you prefer to sit while you work, you'll want a table that's between 30 and 32 inches tall. Already own a table but find that it's a little short? Use blocks or PVC pipes to lift it to the appropriate height. 

  • Utilize Even Small Spaces
    If you feel like you already use all the rooms in your home and don't have the budget for an expansion, it's time to get creative with how you use your space. Are there any rooms that you infrequently use? Or, are there any spaces that sit empty most of the time? If you usually eat in the kitchen, you might convert your dining room area into a hobby space. Or, if you have a corner of your living room with a chair that no one ever sits in, swap the chair for a worktable. A closet with the doors removed also makes an excellent hobby area. Built-in shelves and cabinets are a terrific way to add extra storage to small rooms.

Wall Storage

  • Use the Walls for Storage
    The walls are a perfect place to hang organizational items that keep your supplies within reach, like a Peg-Board for holding your tools or a magnetic strip for securing scissors and other metal craft supplies. Floating shelves work well for holding craft books, small containers, and other gear that you want to keep close by. 

Task Lighting

  • Add Extra Lighting
    Even if the space has natural lighting and an overhead light, you'll likely want additional light for your hobby. Ample lighting can even make the room look more appealing to potential buyers when you add your home to the list of Augusta homes for sale. You'll likely want at least one task light that you can adjust to your project's needs. Swap your existing lightbulbs for bulbs designed to mimic the sun's natural light for better illumination. 

One of the main benefits of being a homeowner is getting to customize your space, so it's perfect for you and your needs. Looking for a home with more space for your projects? Contact us today to start your search!


Kitchen Island Inspiration

Kitchen Island

Whether your goal is to increase your amount of counter space, add more seating, or expand your storage options, a kitchen island is an excellent addition to your home. Our real estate agents know that a kitchen island is an adaptable feature that many potential homebuyers find highly appealing. Check out these design and style ideas for making the most of your home's kitchen island. 

Kitchen Island Colors

  • Opt for an Island in a Different Color
    If you want to explore a two-toned look for your kitchen cabinets, but aren't sure how to embrace this trend in your kitchen, consider installing a kitchen island that's a different color than the rest of your kitchen cabinets. Since your kitchen island is typically a feature that you want to highlight and draw attention to, choosing a color that's different than the rest of your kitchen will help it stand out. A kitchen island is also a perfect option to add bright pops of color to your kitchen without overwhelming the space. When it's time to add your home to the list of Augusta County homes for sale, your kitchen will boast an updated look that will appeal to prospective buyers. 

    Mobile Kitchen Island

    • Consider a Mobile Kitchen Island
      Not entirely sure that you want a permanent kitchen island or unsure about the placement and size of your island? A mobile kitchen island is an excellent, affordable way to add a kitchen island without the expense and commitment of a built-in island. You can experiment with different placements and positions for the island, and if the size doesn't work for your needs, you can always upgrade it to a larger version. 
    • Allow for Ample Walkaround Space
      It's inconvenient to have to squeeze through your kitchen or wait for someone to move before you can access a specific area. Check that your kitchen island is the appropriate size for your kitchen space and offers clearance of at least 48 inches between the island and your cabinets or other structures. 

    Kitchen Storage

    • Add Storage Features
      Take a few moments to think about what features you wish your kitchen had. Do you wish you had pull-out shelves for your heavy appliances? Or, perhaps you would love to have a slide-out prep station so you can slide food scraps directly into the trash? Maybe you would love open shelving to display your favorite dishes and cookbooks? Your kitchen island gives you the opportunity to add these things to your kitchen. While you may not be able to add every single feature with one kitchen island, you can definitely add a few features that will make your kitchen more functional. If you decide to add your home to the inventory of Staunton homes for sale, a kitchen with convenient features for food preparation, cooking, and cleanup will stand out to potential buyers. 
    • Explore Different Shapes 
      Even though many kitchen islands are rectangular, this isn't your only option for the shape of your island. For example, you can have a curved or circular kitchen island built. Or, you can even combine two shapes for a truly unique look. 
    • Use Multiple Materials
      If you know that you'll be using your kitchen island for multiple functions, consider using multiple materials to add sections to the island. Assume that you plan to use your island for food preparation, light work, and dining. You can have a stone counter for the portion of the island that you plan to use for food prep and a wood counter for the area of the island where you plan to eat and work. 

    Outdoor Kitchen

    • Don't Forget Your Outdoor Kitchen
      For some reason, kitchen islands are usually only associated with indoor kitchens. However, a kitchen island can be just as beneficial for an outdoor kitchen. Since an outdoor kitchen is usually a secondary cooking space, it often lacks the storage and functionality of a primary kitchen. You can create your own outdoor kitchen island with a sturdy stainless steel cart. If you prefer a little bit more pizzazz or want a concealed storage area, deconstruct a shower curtain to hang around the perimeter of the cart. 

    Want a kitchen with more space for a kitchen island? Contact us today to upgrade your home!


    Returning Trends: Wallpaper is Back

    Wallpaper Trends

    What goes around comes around, and our real estate agents have been noticing several old trends from decades ago reemerge this year. Bold colors, '70s patterns, and, believe it or not, wallpaper are all making big comebacks. We're not talking about your basic neutrals and boring patterns. Wallpaper printing has come a long way over the last few years, and we're seeing some of the most fun, unique, and nature-inspired wallpaper trends across some of these Augusta County homes for sale.

    Wallpaper has gone in and out of style for hundreds of years, and every time the pendulum swings back, we see new art and interesting designs. Here are some of our favorite concepts in 2022:

    • Bringing Back The Past
      If you love traditional, old-timey wallpaper patterns used in late 19th century or early 20th century homes, you might be able to find some of these lovely designs reprinted at commercial stores. Wallpaper with beautiful bold floral concepts and carefully crafted patterns are back in a big way. 

    Nature Design

    • Nature Is In-Style
      As a society, we've been spending more time outdoors than ever these last couple of years, and so we're seeing many people bring the outdoors back inside. This has been playing out in the form of new green shades and earthy tones across interior decor, and wallpaper is no exception. In addition to nature-inspired colors, we're seeing an increase in trees, flowers, and greenery patterns. If you want something calming, try some abstract botanicals. If you want something more fun, try a jungle theme. 

    • Modern, Yet Rustic
      Rustic interiors have been in-style for the better part of the last decade, and we're even starting to see this trend come through in wallpaper designs. Adding in a light faux, faded wood wallpaper design can combine the best of both modern and rustic elements. 

    Wallpaper Bathroom

    • Floor To Ceiling Wallpapered Bathrooms
      Many are quick to dismiss the idea of wallpaper in the bathroom, but when matched with the right decor, floor-to-ceiling wallpaper around the tub can look quite nice. Choose a nice blue or green coupled with a visually stunning pattern, and you can go a long way towards creating a peaceful paradise.

    • Quirkiness 
      If you're looking to introduce an element of fun into your bedroom or bathroom, quirky wallpaper elements are definitely in this year. Imagine patterns comprised of random collections of plants, animals, rocks, insects, or really anything you can think of. Try it with a bright green or yellow backdrop. 

    Blue Wallpaper

    • This Year's Theme Is Blue
      We're all longing for peace and calmness, so it's no wonder bright, bold, and navy blue wallpaper shades are all simultaneously emerging. Matched with bright blue furniture or rugs, blue wallpaper patterns are visually appealing on a level that can't be achieved with paint alone. If you want something less vibrant, choose a peaceful blue coastal wave pattern or a deep-blue nautical theme.

    • Think Maximalist
      After spending the last couple of years in the home, many people are beginning to grow bored with minimalism. It's no surprise the tides have turned towards maximalist design. When it comes to this trend, the bigger and bolder, the better. Big patterns, bright colors, with detailed and textured elements. 

    Abstract Pattern

    • Abstract Patterns
      The mind enjoys gazing at complex patterns, which is why this interior design trend will never truly fade away. Wallpaper with abstract geometric patterns is very visually appealing. Think of the '90s or early 2000s computer screensaver shapes except with better color patterns. Abstract wallpaper was big in the '70s, and now it's finally making a big return.

    • Grandmillenial Design
      One of the most surprising design trends of 2022 is grand millennial. This term refers to design elements reminiscent of your grandmother's house yet with some upscale elements. The grand millennial movement is all about creating a very cozy atmosphere without sacrificing class.

    Interior trends always return eventually, and we think of it as a great opportunity to combine the past with the future. With wallpaper, it really gives you the opportunity to add your own artistic element and personal touch to any room. For more tips on the latest interior design trends, contact us today.


    Spring Cleaning Tasks That Will Get Your Home Ready to List

    Spring Cleaning

    Spring naturally brings out the desire to clean, and if you're interested in selling your home, it couldn't come at a better time. Before your home is listed for sale with one of our real estate agents, make sure it will look its best. Spring cleaning can make your home shine and look fresh and clean! This is sure to make it more appealing to prospective buyers and help it stand out from other Rockingham County homes for sale.

    The following spring cleaning tasks will help you get your home ready to list:


    • Clear the Clutter
      Everyone has possessions that they no longer want or use, and holding onto them makes your home look messier and harder to keep clean. A crowded home also will make prospective buyers wonder if your home has enough storage and makes it harder for them to imagine your home as their own. Before you start spring cleaning, go through your home and remove clothes that are no longer worn, broken, or outgrown toys and household goods that have outlived their usefulness. Items that are still in good shape can be sold or donated.

    • Make a Checklist
      Make a room-by-room checklist of what you need to clean. This helps keep you on track, ensures that areas aren't forgotten, and gives you a sense of accomplishment as you cross items off your list. Break each room down into areas, such as drawers, and then individual tasks such as wiping them down and swapping out any outdated hardware. This checklist can also be used to divide spring cleaning tasks among several family members.

    Cleaning Supplies

    • Shop for Needed Cleaning Supplies
      Make sure you have what you need, including a good all-purpose cleaner and microfiber cloths, before you start cleaning. Supplies that can be used for a myriad of objects and surfaces are ideal to start with, and as you start cleaning, you can always buy a specialty product if there's a need for it. Look for cleansers that have a pleasingly light scent since this can also help your home seem fresh and clean.

    • Don't Forget the Outside
      It's not just your home's interior that needs freshening up in the spring - it's also the outside. The outside of your home will be seen by house hunters even before the inside is. And if it makes a poor impression, they may never make it through your front door. Walk around your home and yard to see what needs cleaning, repairing, and refreshing. You might need to pressure wash the exterior of your home as well as your driveway, patio, deck, and walkways. Paint touch-ups may also be needed. 

    • Wash Everything You Can
      Household items can collect dust that makes them look dirty and dingy, so wash everything you can. This includes curtains, some area rugs, bath mats, and shower curtains. Items that can't be washed should be thoroughly shaken outside and vacuumed using the right attachment. If they've seen better days, you may want to simply replace them, especially if they're relatively inexpensive items.

    Spring Clean Windows

    • Make Your Windows Sparkle
      If you've had your draperies or blinds closed for a good bit of the winter, you may not have noticed how grimy they've gotten. Scrub each pane clean inside and out on a cloudy day so you're not left with streaks. And don't forget to also scrub any sills or trim. Clean windows can make your entire home sparkle and will let sunlight in, giving your home a bright, fresh appearance. Just be aware that sunlight streaming into a home highlights any dust, so make sure to add dusting to your list of spring cleaning to-dos.

    • Clean Easily Overlooked Areas
      Prospective buyers will be looking over your home from top to bottom, so no area is too small to ignore. Clean your light switch plates and outlet covers, and pay attention to the inside of your appliances, drawers, and cabinets because potential buyers will definitely open them.

    Spring Clean Entryway

    • Spend Extra Time on Your Entryway
      Since your entryway will be the first part of your home's interior that prospective buyers will see, take extra time on the area so it makes a good impression. Invest in a new welcome mat, make sure your door is in great shape (including any glass inserts), and clean the floor thoroughly. And if you have any furniture to store shoes, coats, or other items near the door, make sure it's clean and uncluttered. Not only does this make a better impression, but it also gives prospective buyers a place to hang their jackets.

    Contact us to see Rockingham homes for sale or Harrisonburg homes for sale. Whether you're looking to buy a home, sell one, or do both, we have the knowledge and experience to make your transaction go smoothly.


    New Year's Resolution: Real Estate Tips for 2022

    Sell Home in 2022

    If your plans for 2022 involve selling your home and purchasing a different property, now is the perfect time to start your planning. Accomplish your New Year's resolution of selling your home! Here are some tips our real estate agents recommend in 2022 to help you streamline the selling process. 

    Declutter Tips

    • Remove Half the Stuff in Your Closet
      No matter what year you're selling your home, some things remain timeless. Like the fact that a clean and decluttered space will show better to potential buyers. It's common knowledge that you need to declutter before listing your home, but it's best to cut the amount of stuff in your closets and cabinets by half. Buyers will open your closet and cabinet doors to get a closer look at the storage space in your home. Though it might seem like having the closet or cabinet packed full will showcase how much it can hold, it's better to stage the space with less stuff. Having less stuff in a closet or cabinet makes it appear roomier and well-organized, Both of these traits will increase its appeal to potential buyers. 
    • Price Your Home Right at the Start
      It's tempting to price your home at the higher end of what you think you can get for it in hopes of maximizing your profits. You may think that if it doesn't quickly sell, you can always lower the price after a few weeks. Most of the time, it's better to price your home at a lower, more realistic price. Homes that are correctly priced attract more interest and sell faster. A home that's on the market for an extended period often appears worrisome to potential buyers. They may worry that it hasn't sold because there are issues (like expensive repairs or strict offer requirements) that are preventing potential deals from closing. 

    Natural Lighting

    • Illuminate Your Home with Attractive Lighting
      A simple, highly effective way to help your home look its best is to ensure that it's well-illuminated. Any home looks better when it's lush with atmospheric lighting. Go through your home and check that all your light fixtures have working light bulbs. Confirm that the lightbulb in the fixture is the best alternative. For example, fluorescent lighting often looks hazy and a little dull. Swap these light bulbs for an LED bulb that emits a soft, warm light. 

    • Optimize Your Home's Natural Light
      A space with lots of natural light looks cheery and inviting; it also appeals to potential buyers. Maximize the amount of light that enters your home by cleaning your windows, washing drapes and blinds, and moving any furniture that obscures the light.

    Real Estate Agents

    • Work with an Experienced Agent
      A qualified agent with experience handling Staunton homes for sale transforms the home selling process. Since they have local experience, they understand how to properly price your home and what concessions are considered normal for your area. They can make recommendations that will help your home look its best. Your real estate agent will assist with scheduling tours and open houses, and they'll take care of the marketing for your property. Experienced agents know how to handle buyer negotiations so that you're able to get as much money as possible for your home. If a problem arises during the home inspection or appraisal, they'll try to salvage the deal. 

    Home Upgrades

    • Be Strategic with Your Home Upgrades
      You might think that completing a few home upgrades is a simple way to get more money for your home. Some upgrades will have an excellent return and help your home sell faster and for more money. Others don't make a significant difference to potential buyers and provide a poor return for your money. One area that tends to have a strong return for your money is your home's kitchen. If your cabinets are old, consider painting them and adding new hardware to update their look. You can replace your countertops for a few thousand dollars. This instantly gives your kitchen a facelift, and you'll get your money back when your home sells. Remember, home repairs and maintenance aren't upgrades. These are the tasks that buyers expect to be completed in a home that's been properly cared for. Check that all your utilities and appliances are in working order. Doors should be even and on track. All your home's electrical components should work. It's also best to take care of any plumbing or structural repairs that your home needs before listing it. 

    Ready to put your home on the market? Contact us today to get started!


    National Mason Jar Day: 7 Ways to Use Them in Your Home

    Mason Jar Tips

    What was originally designed for canning and pickling vegetables has since become one of the most versatile household items. The mason jar and its unique screw-top was created by John Landis Mason in 1858 in order to improve the safety of food storage. However, they are now the quintessential multi-purpose container. If you're thinking about ways to make good use of extra mason jars around your house, the opportunities are endless.

    With National Mason Jar Day coming up on November 30, our real estate agents thought it'd be appropriate to pull together a list of our favorite and most creative ways to use mason jars around the house. Here are some of their best ideas:

    Smoothie Storage

    1. Store Your Smoothies
      If smoothies are part of your daily diet, you can actually use a mason jar as a container for both blending and storage. This works if you have an upright blender, in which case you won't have to worry about dirtying a pitcher every time you make a smoothie.

      If you don't have an upright blender, mason jars can still serve as convenient storage containers. Prep your smoothies for the week, store them in mason jars and grab them on the go. Mason jars make prepping smoothies and cleanup easy.

    2. Mix Some Cocktails For Your Party
      If you're planning a house party, pre-portioning cocktail ingredients into individual mason jars will make it easy for guests to grab a drink of their choice. Choose your favorite cocktails (mojitos, margaritas, or vodka lemonade work great) and mix the ingredients into jars. Then, when a guest is ready for a beverage, all they need to do is grab one, add ice, secure the lid, and shake! This way, your guests won't have to worry about mixing their own drinks.

    Toothbrush Holder

    1. Make A Toothbrush Holder
      If you're going for a rustic vibe in your home or bathroom, top it off by using a mason jar as a toothbrush holder. Simply cut one or more circles in the lid, and you're done. Or you can even use chicken wire to create a grid across the top of the jar. If you're short on storage space around your sink, secure the mason jar to a wood plank and hang it on the wall.

    2. Gift Some Yummy Treats
      Looking for the perfect gift idea? Packing your favorite treats, mixes, or sauces into mason jars, decorate them, and now you have gifts for all the special people in your life. Cookies, candy, baking mixes are all great ideas for the holidays. Or you can do salsas, jams, or BBQ sauce. Whatever goodies you decide to give away this season, your mason jars will keep them fresh.

    Lunch Storage

    1. Take Your Lunch To Work
      Mason jars make for a convenient lunch storage container. Soups, salads, or leftover pasta can be easily transported to work and kept fresh all day long. With mason jars, it's also easy to prep your lunches ahead of time. Being able to simply grab a jar from the refrigerator and head out the door will make your morning routine a breeze. The best part is -- mason jars are microwave safe.

    2. Store Your Herbs
      If you grow your own herbs and want to keep them nearby for easy access while cooking, you can actually store them indoors in mason jars. Just add an inch of water, cover your herbs with plastic wrap, and place them in the jar. This works especially well for parsley or cilantro. Keep them by the window sill for direct sun exposure
      Spice Storage 
    3. Create A Seasoning Shaker
      If you like to create or mix your own seasonings, mason jars can really come in handy. You can easily transform them into a shaker or dispenser by repurposing a spout from a salt container and creating your own circle lid. Secure the lid, and then use the mason jar to store and dispense salt, herbs, or garlic, or your favorite mixed seasonings. Since mason jars always look great, you can line them up on your counter for easy access.

    From food storage to crafts and decor, the versatility of mason jars has made them popular for over a century. Contact us today for more information on home decorating tips or to check out some of these beautiful Luray homes for sale.


    Happy Cat Month: How to Make Your Home Cat-Friendly

    Home Improvement for PetsWhether you have one beloved cat or a full house with multiple cats, you want to provide a comfortable, safe, cat-friendly home environment.

    September is National Happy Cat Month. Yes, there really is a recognized month when cat lovers celebrate their feline friends. Happy Cat Month is an annual event held in September that serves to inform and educate cat owners about creating a cat-friendly home. At Old Dominion Realty, our real estate agents take pride in supporting the well-being of our furry felines. Take a look at ways you can create a cat-friendly home.

    Cat in Home

    Create an Outdoor View

    Although your cat may be an indoor-only feline, they will welcome an outdoor view of trees, plants, flowers, and outdoor critters. Cats are curious creatures, and they need stimulation to stay happy. If you're looking for properties in Virginia, many homes have spectacular outdoor views that will keep your cat mesmerize your cat for hours.

    Keep Your Cat Active

    Keeping your cat active will provide exercise and mental stimulation. Cats love to play, so they love cat toys with playful interaction. You don't need to buy expensive toys since cats like unwinding balls of string, attacking shadows on the floor, jumping up to catch a feather, and chasing toy mice. Taking time to play with your cat shows affection, creates strong bonds and promotes healthy activity.

    Tabby Cat

    Create Vertical Spaces

    One of the best ways to create a cat-friendly home is by providing vertical spaces where your cat can climb. This is especially important in multiple-cat households where cats need their own private space. Cats love to climb and perch themselves high above the floor where they feel safe. If Broadway homes for sale have high ceilings, you can use tall cat trees with multiple levels, as well as cat shelves that can be attached to walls and windows.

    Indoor Cat

    Provide a Cozy Bed

    Cats spend a lot of time sleeping, so they need a cozy bed where they feel safe. Some cats like to rest and relax in different spots in the house, so you can use soft quilts, blankets, and large throw pillows to create cozy places to relax in different rooms. For cats who like to hide, soft baskets and decorative containers are cozy options for Dayton homes for sale with large rooms and open floor plans. 

    Buy a Scratching Post

    Cats scratch to file their claws and mark their territory. If you don't buy a scratching post, you're likely to find scratches on your walls, cabinets, furniture, and upholstery. Scratching posts should be as tall as possible to allow your cat to scratch vertically at a full stretch. If you build a floor-to-ceiling scratching post in an area where your cat likes to scratch, your cat will love you, and your furniture will last a lot longer.

    Indoor Cats

    Buy a Quality Food Bowl

    Cats look forward to eating their food. As creatures of habit, they prefer regular daily feeding schedules, food placed in particular bowls, and meals served in certain places. Cats are picky about their food. It's best to buy a food bowl made of glass, ceramic, or stainless steel so you can wash it. Avoid bowls made of plastic that can give off chemical odors because your cat will turn up his nose. An elevated food bowl will keep your cat's whiskers cleaner and out of the food.

    Provide Fresh, Clean Water

    Water is essential to your cat's health, so make sure they always have fresh, clean water. Most cats like their water bowl near their food, but some cats prefer water in separate locations. Cats are natural hunters, so finding a water bowl in a different room rewards their hunting instincts. Cats prefer water bowls that are filled to the brim so they can drink without putting their heads down. Pet drinking fountains encourage drinking while creating a playful experience.

    Pay Attention to the Litter Box

    If you have a cat, you need a litter box. Cats instinctively know how to use a litter box, even if they have never stepped into one. Make sure your cat's litter box is big enough for your cat to easily move around. If you have two cats, get three litter boxes. As a cat owner, you owe it to your cat and yourself to clean out litter boxes every day and refill them with clean, fresh litter. Dirty litter boxes can quickly create unhealthy, stinky odors in your home. 

    Ready to find a new home for you and your cats? For information on Virginia homes for sale, contact us for available listings and prices in different neighborhoods. 


    FHA Appraisals Explained

    FHA Appraisals Explained

    One of the most common questions I receive wearing both the appraiser and broker hats in real estate is: will this house pass the appraisal for FHA lending?

    To provide some context the FHA (Federal Housing Administration) loan is offered by FHA approved lenders and are insured by FHA.  This minimizes the risk for the lender.  In order to offer this insurance FHA has an entire handbook (Handbook 4000.1) of guidelines that must be met with standards for the borrower(s) and the property being purchased.  In order to minimize risk FHA's standards are set to ensure that the properties FHA is insuring meet certain safety and condition elements.

    The role of the appraiser is to be the eyes, analyze and report defective conditions and provide photo documentation of the interior and exterior condition of the property to the lender. 


    Key takeaway that is hard to understand.  The borrower pays up front for the appraisal in most cases.  Yet, the client on the appraisal is the lender and by the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice and its confidentiality rule:  the only communication the appraiser can have is with the client on the report.  If that information seems difficult to grasp, it is for most folks who pay for a service.  In this case it does work in the favor of the consumer.  It ensures that the appraisal will a non-partisan opinion of value and the results will be confidential.  Both of which benefit the consumer.

    FHA has minimum property requirements and standards that the property must meet in order to be eligible for an FHA insured loan.

    FHA requirements begin with legal use. The property's zoning must be reported and the property must comply with all zoning ordinances.

    The appraiser must report on any encroachments that might affect the property.  That is, any intrusion on the real estate being used for collateral in any way physically.  Easements and deed restrictions must be reported on as well if they would affect use, value or marketability in any way.

    The appraiser is asked to comment on any externalities.  Any heavy traffic, airport noise, overhead power lines or anything else outside the property boundaries that would affect use, value or marketability of the property.

    The appraiser will be asked to verify the access to the property is an all-weather road surface over which typical passenger and emergency vehicles could traverse regardless of the weather conditions.  The appraiser must also describe the access, either private or public and make note of the condition of the access.

    The appraiser must note onsite hazards or nuisances and conditions that could endanger the health and safety of the occupants or affect marketability going forward.

    These health and safety standards include looking at the grading to make sure there is no standing water around the foundation or in the crawlspace or basement and that positive drainage away from the structure is being achieved.  The appraiser is to look for the existence of sinkholes, slush pits, underground storage tanks or other environmental hazards on the property.  The appraiser will research and report on the location of the property and identify if it is in a Special Flood Hazard Area. 

    Inside the home there are many more requirements to ensure the health and safety of the occupants in the future.  The appraiser is to make a thorough inspection of the home including a head and shoulders inspection of the attic and crawlspace or walk through of the basement to see all readily observable conditions.  If there are any mechanical systems in the basement the crawlspace is to be at least 18" in height to accommodate maintenance on those systems.   


    The appraiser will research and report on there being a safe and potable water source with sufficient pressure and available hot water working to be of use for residential dwelling.  Every living unit must have one bathroom with at least a toilet, shower and water closet with safe method of sewage disposal.  The appraiser must operate the toilets and water faucets to discover function and the presence of leaks. 

    Electricity sufficient to support lighting, cooking, and mechanical equipment used in the living area.  The appraiser is to test a representative number of outlets in each room to make sure the electric is safely operating.  The appraiser is also to test the light switches.  The electrical system is evaluated for the presence of frayed or exposed wiring. 

    If the home was built prior to 1978 there is to be no chipping or peeling paint either on the interior or exterior of the building or any detached outbuilding.  The presence chipping or peeling paint in a home built before 1978 will require correction.

    Bedrooms are to have a form of ingress and egress in case of an emergency. 


    The foundation is inspected and commented on to make sure it is not subject to a foundation issue or termite infestation.  Appliances must be operational.  The condition of the plumbing, electrical and heating systems is to be noted.  Central air is not a requirement.  The mechanical systems are to be identified as safe to operate and have a reasonable future utility.  The roof is to be observed and must have at least 2 more years of useful life left. 

    When any of these minimum property requirements or minimum property standards are not met the appraiser will make report of the necessary repairs to bring the property into compliance.  The buyers, sellers and their respective brokers will work through the negotiations and logistics of coming to compliance.  The appraiser will then come back out to do a final inspection to verify that the work is complete and compliance is achieved. 


    Another question I get frequently is from sellers is: "why can't we include my finished basement in the total finished square footage".  My typical answer is that the market aka me responds to finished basement differently than above grade square footage.  For instance:  we have a basement bedroom at my family's lakehouse.  When the spare bedroom upstairs is not being used where do you think you will find me?  Upstairs every time there is an opportunity above grade.

    The FHA Handbook also lays out the process for measuring and reporting Gross Living Area (GLA) in a dwelling unit.

    Gross Living Area
         Definition - "Gross Living Area (GLA) refers to the total area of finished, above-grade residential space calculated by measuring the outside perimeter of the Structure.  It includes only finished, habitable, above-grade living space."

    "When any part of a finished level is below grade, the Appraiser must report all of that level as below-grade finished area, and report that space on a different line in the appraisal report, unless the market considers it to be Partially Below-Grade Habitable Space."

    It is required that specifically finished basements, and unfinished attic areas are not included in the total GLA. The FHA Handbook calls for the appraiser to treat Modular Housing the same as stick-built housing including using the same form for reporting of both products.

    FHA will ensure homes with an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU), a cistern, a spring or several other anomalies under certain conditions.  They must be legal uses and typically the appraiser must be able to provide at least one comparable sale in the market with that characteristic to prove the marketability of those characteristics in the local market.

    When you list these requirements out it seems that these requirements cover the gamut of what the prudent buyer would ask in the way of questions or the process of discovery a typical buyer would follow to purchase a property.  The purchase is an investment, as is the offering of an FHA insured loan.  These steps are in place to manage the risk of the lender and also to protect the consumer in the process. 


    Home Office Decorating Tips From Our Agents

    Home Office Augusta

    Have you spent 2020 working from home? If you're like many of us, remote working may be your new nine-to-five. Whether you're browsing our Harrisonburg homes for sale or planning on staying put in your current house, you may be considering ways to turn bedrooms or other areas into a functional working space. Here are a few home office decorating tips from our real estate agents.

    Home Office Agents

    Lightening the Workload with Krista Fields

    When designing your home office, you'll need to prioritize functionality. Thankfully, that doesn't mean that you need to sacrifice aesthetic. In fact, there are many homes or areas of your home that are ready-made to act as practical offices. Bedrooms with windows are especially easy to convert into offices, as there's already enough space for a desk and the windows provide ample light. Take it from our agent, Krista Fields:

    "I do like a lot of light as well as having a space on the top of my desk to put paperwork or files that need my attention. I also like to surround myself with décor that I like; I use "outside the box" accessories such as wooden crates for files and old glass jars or wooden boxes from antique stores to use as pen holders. For an added touch of comfort, I always love having pictures and a cozy blanket."

    Along with the natural light, Krista's insistence on creating a comfortable "homey" space within her workspace is a great idea. Her use of antiques and furnishings as nontraditional office equipment bring a fantastic balance to the space. A potted plant would be another excellent addition to a light-filled office.

    However, we do recommend that you invest in a few resources to help control the lighting and temperature of your space. Depending on the time of the year, the natural light may provide varying degrees of light and heat. Blinds or curtains are useful, as are anti-glare shields for your computer screen.

    Home Office Tips

    Polishing Up Your Workspace with Duane Turner

    When you envision your perfect home office, what furnishings do you see? It's natural for many professionals to assume that they need to purchase brand-new office furniture to help them function optimally. Take it from our Duane Turner who had a little help from his wife Catina, you can still accomplish your goals by buying items that are new to you. For example, she's taken an older desk and refurbished it with chalk paint to create a statement piece.

    There are dozens of gently used or antique items that you can give a second life to. Thrift stores and antique shops are perfect places to find unique pieces for your home office. Believe it or not, your home is the best place to "shop" first! You'd be surprised how quickly a fresh coat of paint could turn an under-used desk or side table into a useful addition to your office space.

    Bea Miller Office

    Keep Your Business in the Black (But Your Office in the Red) with Bea Miller

    Let's talk about color! Professionals rarely have a say in the décor and design of their company workspaces — but when it comes to a home office aesthetic, all rules are out the window! Just look at what our agent Bea Miller did to her workspace. Her office is cozy and inviting thanks to rich wooden furniture and a warm red wall color. White trim and doors provide contrast while small décor pieces complement the aesthetic.

    It's your house which means it's your rules, though we do caution all homeowners to put some consideration into their choice of wall paint. Each color has a psychological impact on us, for example, green sparks creativity, and blue produces calmness. Before you throw your favorite color up on the walls, discover how these hues can potentially influence your productivity. Keep in mind that the amount of natural and artificial light in the space will affect the appearance of the color, too. Remember that you can always choose to make the dominant colors neutral and use your favorite colors to complement the space without having too strong of an influence.

    Are you interested in visiting the latest listings of Augusta County homes for sale? Contact us today and let our agents help you find the perfect home office in a new house.


    Does Your WIFI Blanket Every Corner of Your Home?

    Home Improvement - WIFI
    With more people working from home than ever before, having a strong WiFi connection throughout the house is critical. Our real estate agents are acutely aware of this, as we're doing much of our business online as well. 

    Whether we're doing virtual showings of Virginia homes for salefollowing up with our clients, or working with other professionals to coordinate inspections and closings, it's important that we don't miss a beat.

    Take a look at some of our best tips for making sure you have a great WiFi signal in every corner of your home.

    Check Your Router Location
    It's always best to start by moving your router around. There are many simple issues that can impact a router's performance, including being too close to things like microwaves, baby monitors, Christmas lights, and even large fish tanks! Concrete and brick walls can also block the signal.

    While you might be limited in your location options, sometimes getting a longer cord and being creative with the router's positioning can solve the problem.  

    Update your Firmware (Or Upgrade Your Router) 
    If moving the router doesn't help, it might be time to update the firmware. You can often do this by entering your router's IP address into your web browser and then entering your username and password. Once you're logged in, follow the instructions to complete the update, then restart your router.

    If your router is old and outdated, you're likely better off upgrading to a new one. Check with your internet service provider to make sure you get one that's compatible.  

    Add Some Repeaters 
    WiFi range extenders, also known as repeaters or WiFi boosters, are also quite effective for ensuring your signal reaches every corner of your home. It works by repeating the signal coming from your router, resending it to areas of the home where the signal was previously weak. 

    Although these devices are relatively inexpensive and work well, they can be a bit tricky to set up. To ensure the best results, do some research before you set them up or contact a professional to do it for you. 

    Consider Powerline Networking
    Powerline networking is a more expensive option, but it will give you a strong, reliable signal with a higher speed than you'll get with repeaters. This setup uses the electrical wires in your home to transmit the signal from your router to any room. You'll then want to set up a wireless or wired connection at the other end. 

    This is a convenient option as there's no need to rip up walls or floorboards. It's as easy to install as simply plugging in an adapter. While these adapters will usually work fine in most modern homes, it's not guaranteed. Make sure you do plenty of research before you make this investment as it's likely to cost you at least a few hundred dollars. At a minimum, you'll want to purchase adapters that you can return if you run into a problem. 

    Combine Solutions to Meet Your Needs
    Depending on the layout of your home, you may be able to combine a few of these options. This is often the best way to counteract a variety of potential issues and optimize your WiFi signal in each room. 

    Enjoy Your New Connection! 
    Whether you're working from home, binging on Netflix, or searching for the best West Virginia homes for sale, a strong WiFi connection will make your life so much easier! 

    If you're ready to get serious about your home search, there's no substitute for working with a professional real estate agent. Not only can we help you find your dream home, but we'll also walk you through every step of the process from your initial offer to closing day. Contact us today to get started! 


    Should You Repair or Replace Your Air Conditioner?

    Air Conditioner Home Maintenance
    Home Maintenance Help: Repair or Replace Your HVAC System

    Waking up on a hot summer night to a broken air conditioner is a nightmare. Unfortunately, HVAC malfunctions are common, and it's only a matter of time until your A/C unit is on the fritz.

    Although this may be an unavoidable issue, knowing whether you need to replace or repair your unit will help save you thousands of dollars. Our real estate agents believe that you should know which problems with your air conditioning unit may require a quick repair or a full replacement.

    • Old Age = Replace
      No appliance lives forever, including your powerful HVAC system. While you should be able to get 10-15 years out of you're A/C unit, systems that show malfunctions around the decade-mark generally will need replacing. Repairing an old machine may not be money well spent if the entire system kicks the bucket shortly after.

    • Warm Air = Repair
      An air conditioner that's blowing hot air is a problem, but thankfully, it's usually not a serious issue. In most cases, the warm air can be caused by a faulty compressor, low refrigerant, or a duct problem. These repairs are usually affordable and last for years to come.

    • Multiple Repairs = Replace
      Most units will need a handful of repairs over the years, even if you do have them serviced every year. While many small repairs are common, you should keep track of their frequency. If you've had to repair an element of your air-cooling unit once every year or two, you'll notice that these expenses quickly add up. It may be better to invest that repair budget into a new replacement system that won't give you trouble for a few years.

    • Minimal Air Flow = Repair
      Similar to warm airflow, a lack of airflow in certain sections of your home is another inconvenient problem. Thankfully, this is an issue that typically points to a problem with the compressor or the ductwork. HVAC technicians will usually identify the cause of interrupted airflow swiftly and perform a quick repair that will keep the cool air flowing for years.

    • Increase Utility Costs = Replace
      As your system ages, it loses efficiency, and thus, increases your utility bills. While it's not uncommon to see a small rise in your electric bill, you should be concerned about consistently increasing spikes in your monthly expense report. If your bill is inflated continuously year after year, a replacement A/C unit could save you hundreds instantaneously.

    • Strange Noises/Smells = Repair
      Odd noises or odors coming from the unit, both outside and inside, should be assessed immediately. Smells and sounds can be caused by multiple issues, including electrical problems or fungal growth that present health hazards to your family. Thankfully, if these issues are caught early, they can be resolved with an affordable repair.

    Whether you've just moved into one of our Virginia homes for sale or have owned your current home for years, it's wise to get your HVAC system inspected and maintained to prevent breakdowns and extend its lifecycle. Routine checkups will make it easier to identify and understand if the problem should be repaired or if the repair cost would be better spent on a new system.

    For assistance buying West Virginia homes for sale, contact us today!


    Summertime Family Fun: Create a Family Time Capsule

    Summertime Family Fun
    Nothing brings history to life as vividly as the stories of those who lived through it. 2020 is almost halfway through, and it's already beyond the scope of any year our country has seen. Use these ideas from our real estate agents to memorialize 2020 with a family time capsule. 

    1. Choose a Container
      The ideal container should be large enough to accommodate all your items and durable enough to withstand wear and tear over time. If you're handy, a DIY wooden box can do the trick. Other options include plastic Tupperware-style or metal containers.

    2. Use Written Documentation
      We have become a digital society, and technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace. While it might be easier to create electronic documents, the media may be outdated by the time the capsule is opened. (Does anyone remember floppy discs?) Using hard copies, whether hand-written or printed off a computer, ensures the materials can be read at any future time. 

    3. Start a Diary
      Have each member of your family keep a diary to record specific events and their reactions. You don't have to write an entry each day, but over time you'll have a compelling picture of everyone's journey. Need help getting started? Canadian artist Natalie Long has created time capsule workbooks for kids and adults.

    4. Every Picture Tells a Story
      Even during "normal" times, it's both fun and enlightening to look at pictures from the past and see how far you've come. But don't limit yourself to photos of your family. Print out online pictures depicting empty streets, healthcare workers, and other scenes that create a fuller perspective of this moment in time.

    5. Include Media Reports
      Newspaper and magazine articles help provide context for personal observations. Include entire publications or print specific articles from media websites. Be sure to include positive stories for balance.

    6. Conduct "Interviews"
      Another method to document experiences is to have members of the family "interview" each other. It's a great way to learn more about each other and develop deeper bonds. 

    7. Write Letters
      What insights would you like to share with your unborn children or grandchildren? Tell them in a letter. If you have kids, suggest that they write a letter to their older selves about what they've learned along with their hopes and dreams for the future.

    8. Incorporate "Relics"
      Think about everyday items that have taken on a special significance during this time. Appropriate options include hand sanitizer or antiseptic wipes, a roll of toilet paper, and a face mask. 

    9. Commemorate Special Events
      Are any family members celebrating birthdays, graduations, or even weddings? People have found amazingly creative ways to observe these traditional rites of passage while maintaining social distance. Be sure to document any special occasions that occur in your household carefully.

    10. Decide on a Storage Place
      While the traditional concept of a time capsule involves burial, most experts don't recommend it. The capsule is likely to succumb to the elements, or you may lose track of where it's buried. If you're using an attractive container, display it on a bookcase or shelf. Otherwise, store it safely in the attic where it can be easily retrieved at a later date.

    At Old Dominion Realty, we respect the connection attached to your home. Contact us for considerate and dedicated assistance with your real estate needs.


    DIY Projects to Tackle While You're At Home

    Home Improvement Projects

    Have stay-at-home orders got you going stir crazy? We're all spending (much) more time at home these days, and there are only so many shows to binge-watch before that well runs dry.

    Why not stay busy and spruce up your space, with simple DIY home improvement projects from our REALTORS®? Taking care of projects around the house is a great way to pass the time, making your home a more pleasant and adding value in the process.

    • A Fresh Coat of Paint Can Refresh Any Room
      A relatively easy home improvement project that offers the chance for a big change without a big price tag, then it's hard to top a fresh coat of paint. If you plan on fully repainting a room in a new color, then you may need to pick up some fresh paint for the job. If picking up paint isn't an option, you may still have paint at home that you can use for smaller, touch up projects.
    • Updated Knobs Bring New Life to Old Cabinets
      While taking out old cabinets and installing new ones doesn't qualify as a simple DIY project, you can still give your cabinets a new look without undertaking a major renovation. Simply replacing old knobs and handles with new ones can add a new dynamic to the look of your kitchen.
    • Create a Family Gallery or "Hall of Fame"
      Spending more time with family can really make you appreciate the memories that you've created over the years. Creating a gallery wall of family pictures and mementos to celebrate all of those memories that deserve to be preserved. If you'd rather leave the walls of your main rooms for other decorations, hallways can also work well for this purpose. It's a great project because you can start small, build it up over time, and shape it to the unique personality of your family.
    • Rearrange Furniture for a New Look
      Have you ever wondered what your living room or master bedroom would look like with a different layout? Now is the perfect time to give it a try! Rearranging a room doesn't cost anything but time, and a different layout can totally transform a space. Even if you don't keep the new look, moving furniture also makes it easy to clean out-of-the-way spaces that would otherwise be hard to reach.
    • Prep Your Garden for Spring Planting
      Why not prepare your garden for the growing season? Prep your garden to plant your favorite varieties of flowers, or simply remove weeds to make your existing landscaping look its best. If you've got any outdoor furniture around your garden, now is also a good time to give it a thorough cleaning.
    • Create a New Look for Your Front Door
      Curb appeal never goes out of style, but sometimes the front door gets overlooked when you're busy thinking about your garden, lawn, and landscaping. Updating your front door with a new color can really freshen up the look of your home's entrance, and new door fixtures offer a more understated option for creating a new look. 

    Are you still searching for the right place to call home? You can continue your search while staying at home, too! Contact us to buy and sell homes in our local areas.


    Home Work - 5 Tips for Building a Home Office

    Build a Home Office
    COVID-19 is changing the way people work forever.

    Our REALTORS® have been exploring ways to work from home, and we know many of our clients have, too. As we're finding plans to market your Harrisonburg homes for sale, we are always exploring new ways to get more done, including at home. But adapting to a home office can be tricky at first!

    Being truly successful when you work from home starts with the right space. You can find your groove even if you don't have a fancy home office. Still, it is very important to plan out your work area from the beginning and give yourself every advantage possible.

    Here's how to get off to a running start with a home office just about anywhere:

    1. Use an Existing Room Where Possible
      Ideally, you would use a separate room, such as a spare bedroom, for your new home office. The most efficient home office is its own enclosed space far from distractions like the TV, phones, and various electronics. This isn't feasible for everyone, though. You can also consider folding it into your laundry room, expanding a closet, or using an alcove somewhere throughout the home. With the right decor, the space will still be separate and distinctive. That's the key!
    2. Make the Most of Natural Light
      Natural light will make it much easier to spend extended periods of time in your home office. It is crucial, however, to make sure that light streaming in from the window won't create glare in your monitor. Lamps should also be positioned to minimize reflection. In rooms with limited space, a torchiere can be ideal. Have multiple layers of optional window coverings to control light levels throughout the day.
    3. Organize It With Decluttering in Mind
      One of the biggest issues with a home office is keeping it clean and neat. Head off clutter before it starts by defining where everything goes and making sure you have sufficient storage space. A set of hanging folders or desktop "inbox" can keep papers organized. Be sure there is a discreet trash bin, too. While your favorite beverage is a must, try to avoid bringing whole meals into the space.
    4. Use Color to Your Advantage
      The work you do will affect what color scheme you want in your home office. A palette tending toward blue is the most relaxing. However, you might find that something bright and invigorating works better for you. No time to repaint right now? Treat yourself to a new painting that expresses your style and workplace goals and hang it where you can see it. Eliminate gray as much (and as soon) as you can.
    5. Add an Organic Touch
      Even if you are careful to create a space you really love, you're bound to feel the workplace doldrums from time to time. One of the best ways to make a space more inviting while keeping it looking professional is to add a plant. Anything from a desktop succulent to a hanging fern creates more vigor and life in a space – and, yes, it will even help to freshen the air. That's especially critical in the basement.

    One of the biggest reasons people look for a new home is to expand their office space. A little more space can make a big difference, but building good work at home habits is vital, too. That is something that only comes with experience.

    No matter what your needs look like, Old Dominion Realty is here to help you find the right home for your lifestyle. To learn more, contact us today.


    6 Tips to Rock Your Kitchen Reno

    Kitchen Renovation - Old Dominion Realty

    Our real estate agents at Old Dominion Realty are often asked how a seller can raise a home's value before going to market. No matter whether you're planning to put your house on sale or want to spruce things up, a kitchen remodel can bring plenty of value.

    It's also one of the most complex home improvement projects, so it's vital to do the right way. You can save time, money, and stress with these six kitchen renovation tips:

    1. Start With a Budget
      No matter if you plan to spend $1,000 or $10,000, the budget for a kitchen renovation is where you should begin. You can use this as a basic guideline for dividing up your funds:

      • Cabinets and hardware - 29%
      • Design and installation - 22%
      • Walls, ceilings, floors - 16%
      • Appliances, ventilation - 14%
      • Plumbing and electrical - 9%
      • Miscellaneous - 10%

    2. Leave Your Layout
      Unless you have a big budget, consider leaving the layout as-is. You should budget about $5,000 for each time you need to move plumbing or appliances. If you are going to change the layout, it's extra important to do plenty of comparison shopping with different designers.

    3. Invest in Your Backsplash
      Taking backsplash tile all the way to the ceiling will create a more finished appearance and add visual height to the space. This technique is especially striking with narrower backsplash areas. A dramatic backsplash can add plenty of visual interest.

    4. Go for Lighter Cabinetry
      Lighter cabinetry helps the kitchen appear larger and is virtually always the popular choice. The latest trend is paneled appliances that match the cabinetry itself. This design method can create a sleek, homey look that appeals to many buyers. Darker cabinetry is usually limited to smaller apartments.

    5. Brighten and Lighten
      Speaking of "dark," brighter lighting can make any room in the home seem bigger. It is especially apt for the kitchen, though, since good lighting simplifies meal preparation. Smaller "task lighting" inserts around the sink and other key areas can help. New bulbs and fixtures refresh the room at a low cost.

    6. Open the Space
      If you have a larger budget and more time, an open floor plan kitchen is your best bet. You could add thousands to your asking price when you open the kitchen to the dining area. Opening the area makes the space welcoming in comparison to old-fashioned formal dining rooms.

    Renovations are part of the fun of home ownership, so don't hesitate to get started on the project of your dreams. You'll enjoy your home all the more – and when it is time to sell, all that "sweat equity" is bound to put you a step closer to the deal you want.

    Whether you're buying or selling, an experienced real estate professional can help you achieve more on the market. Contact Old Dominion Realty to find out more today.



    5 Great Ways to Add Personality and Value to Your Home

    Add Value to Your Home
    No matter if you're thinking of selling in the future or plan to put your home on the market in the next few days, our real estate agents want you to know there's never a wrong time to raise a home's value!

    You don't have to spend tens of thousands to get a return on your renovation projects. Many projects are inexpensive – some, you could do yourself with only the cost of supplies – and the right ones are eminently worthwhile.

    No matter what your timeframe looks like, you want to be sure you're making the right selections to make the most of your investment. Luckily, there are consistent winners that stay the same no matter what style trends are popular.

    Let's look at them now:

    1. Refurbish the Kitchen
      The kitchen is always the #1 place to add value to your home. Buyers will spend a lot of time in the kitchen and family gatherings tend to center around the kitchen and dining area. With that in mind, they'll be giving its current state a close look.

      You don't have to start over with a completely new kitchen to get the benefit of updating. New appliances are reasonably inexpensive and will stand out to your prospective buyers. Updating countertops and finishes will also add new life to the space.

    2. Upgrade the Bathroom
      The bathroom is another area people spend plenty of time in but don't often think about much.

      To maximize value, it's always best to add a second bathroom if you can. If this isn't feasible, though, you still have options. Small touches go a long way in the bathroom: Classy towel bars, new fixtures, and re-grouting your tile will revitalize things with much less hassle.

    3. Brighten Things Up
      Color is powerful, but lighting has the most profound effect on the psychology of a room.

      People are subconsciously tuned into lighting conditions at all times, even if they don't notice it. The brighter a room is, the bigger and more open it feels. In addition to installing brighter bulbs, you can also bring in airy curtains and drapes to optimize natural light.

      LED lighting is extremely inexpensive and energy efficient – plus, it generates a tiny fraction of the heat associated with older bulb styles. This gives you more potential to add new lighting, such as under-counter lighting in bathrooms and kitchens.

    4. Add a Coat of Paint
      Fresh paint is an ideal solution for bringing a house in line with today's styles. Since would-be buyers form their first impression based on the outside of your house, an exterior paint job is just as valuable as anything you decide to do on the inside.

      What about indoors? Neutral shades, focused on living areas that form early impressions and stick in buyers' minds, are the best bet. If there's not much time, zoom in on painting trim.

    5. Do Some Landscaping
      Depending on where you are, your front yard could be a huge asset for your home sale. Many people look forward to the ability to have a garden of their own, and the stock of housing that offers this space is not always ample – but green spaces must be neat and tidy.

      Dark-colored mulch can rejuvenate an outdoor area quickly. Replace cracked or broken paving stones and concrete paths, too: Damage makes it feel like the space will be a chore to care for.

    This is only a small sample of the many ways you could raise your home's value before it goes to market! Contact Old Dominion Realty today to find out more.

    Contact Old Dominion Realty


    6 Tips for Safer Holiday Home Decorating

    Safer Holiday Home Decorating
    Decorating your home for the holidays is fun and exciting. Not only do you get to spend some time on an enjoyable project, but you'll beautify your neighborhood. Your time and effort could pay off in holiday cheer for lucky kids and families.

    With all that in mind, it's no surprise that so many homeowners put such amazing creativity and hard work into their annual holiday displays. Many people start working on their displays the very first morning after Thanksgiving.

    Still, in all the hustle and bustle of the season, it's important to take your time with decorating for the holidays. There are all kinds of little hazards involved that can lead to accidents. If you take care to stay safe, you'll get the project done without a hitch.

    Six Quick Tips for Safely Decorating Your Home This Holiday Season

    Even if you've never done any other kind of DIY project, any homeowner can safely decorate in, outside, and around the home for the holidays. Just keep these pointers in mind:

    1. Double-Check All Electrical Decorations
      Many decorations are designed only for indoor or outdoor use. Double-check these to make sure they fit into your display plans properly. Be extra careful about picking the right extension cords. Outdoor electrical items should only use circuits protected by Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters.

    2. Be Cautious of Overloaded Outlets
      Most families don't use every plug in an outlet during most of the year, and it can be hard to judge an outlet's capacity. Take care not to overload outlets, and never chain surge protectors to create additional outlets. Always turn off electrical decorations before bed or leaving the house.

    3. Use the Right Equipment
      When hanging lights or decorations outdoors, a wood or fiberglass ladder will help you avoid shocks – don't substitute metal ladders. Never hammer tacks or nails when putting up lights for a home's exterior: Instead, use safety clips that can easily be taken down later.

    4. Be Wary of Moisture
      Double-check that outdoor lights are labeled waterproof. Use cord protectors to keep cords dry and don't allow cords to lie directly on the ground. You can use light stakes to elevate strings of lights, too – the higher the better to avoid tripping hazards.

    5. Look Out for Nuisances
      If you anticipate having people visit to look at your lights, be sure there are appropriate walking paths. Check your yard for obstructions that might make it easy to trip and fall. Review each night to be sure lights and decorations are still secure, especially after rain or wind.

    6. Plan Your Takedown
      While it's okay to leave decorations up for a little while into January, they should be all taken care of shortly after the start of the new year. Be sure you have the time and tools you need to manage a takedown. Remember, taking down takes at least as long as putting up.

    If you've been thinking about trading up or even buying your first home in one of our local areas, don't wait. Our REALTORS® will be glad to help you every step of the way when it comes to finding your ideal home. Contact us to get your home search started.

    Contact Old Dominion Realty


    Selling a Home in Staunton Open House Tips from the Pros

    Open House Tips from the Pros
    Selling your home in Staunton? While the internet brings buyers and sellers together like never before, most home sales still come down to one thing: first-hand impressions of the home. Personal tours still play priceless roles in the decision to make a bid, but because most sellers can't keep their home ready for guests at all times, they rely on the open house to show off their space to anyone who might be interested.

    So, how do you make sure your open house results in serious offers? Make sure you take the following five steps before opening your doors.

    1. Advertise your open house online.
      Marketing your home is easier than ever, with dozens of apps and websites that attract potential buyers with comprehensive, up-to-date local listings. Take advantage of these tools to list your open house, including the location, date, and time. Include all the info you'll put on your property description sheet, then spice it up with extra digital content like slideshows, maps, and virtual tours that help your home stand out.

    2. Inform and invite your neighbors.
      Some of the most helpful traffic at your open house might not be from house-hunting strangers at all. Your own neighbors could actually serve two unexpected purposes during your open house. First, potential homebuyers will get to interact with their potential new neighbors, making life in the neighborhood feel more real. More importantly, your neighbors might have friends or family who want to move closer to them, and they can spread the word on your behalf.

    3. Make your space as neutral as possible.
      Remember: your guests have other homes in Staunton to consider. If they spot something that violates their values or upsets them, they can simply choose to take their money elsewhere. Taxidermy, nudity, profanity, and politics are off-limits, so scan each and every room for any décor or belongings that could turn people off. Of course, neutrality is also important for a more subtle, subconscious reason: buyers need to "see themselves" in your home. Family photos aren't controversial décor, but too much personalization could prevent your buyers from picturing their own family members in each room.

    4. Clean and de-clutter every single room.
      A clean, organized home tells buyers it's also loved and well-maintained. Show how much you value your home, and make sure every surface is spotless and functional before guests arrive. Get rid of any clutter or extra furniture that makes rooms look smaller, and close the toilet lids in every bathroom. This is also the time to take care of any minor repairs you've been putting off, especially leaky faucets or missing bulbs. Finally, on the day of the open house, show off all your hard work in a good light. Open all the curtains and blinds to let natural light flow through every room.

    5. Guide the way with eye-catching signs.
      When the big day finally arrives, make sure you place signs throughout town. Advertise at busy intersections, with arrows clearly pointing the way to your street, and mark your actual home with matching signs and balloons that tell homebuyers they're in the right place. Today's buyers have a lot of listings to sift through, and someone who missed your post might spot a sign that changes everything.

    Need help selling your home in Staunton, VA? Our REALTORS® at Old Dominion Realty are passionate about Virginia real estate, and they're ready to help you stage and sell your home in Staunton. Contact Old Dominion Realty today to find a professional real estate agent near you.

    Contact Old Dominion Realty


    10 Tips to Protect Your Home While on Vacation

    Tips to Protect Your Home While on Vacation
    Vacation is an exciting prospect that many people look forward to. Often in the excitement, small details are forgotten until the time to leave is upon you. One aspect that can be a concern for homeowners is keeping your house safe while you're away. The best way to do that is to take the time to plan in advance. Here are 10 tips for keeping your house protected when you're on vacation so you can have some peace of mind and enjoy your well-deserved escape.

    Keeping Your Home Secure and Safe

    #1: Have someone stay in your home or stop by frequently – A home that's occupied, even if it's for a short period each day, can help prevent any issues. Consider asking a friend, family member, or trusted neighbor to housesit or at least drop by each day to check on things. This can include looking for packages dropped off, turning lights on or off depending on the time of day, making sure the newspaper is picked up—basically doing things that let others know that "someone is home."

    #2: Lay low online – Savvy thieves have discovered that the internet has a wealth of information. Once they see your family happily enjoying a vacation, it's fairly easy to find someone's address. It may even be seen by a friend of a friend who doesn't make good choices. There will be plenty of time to share your vacation photos and stories online, but do it after you get back. That way you're not announcing to the world that your house is empty.

    #3: Invest in timed lighting – Not only will lights left on 24/7 end up costing you a pretty penny, it doesn't deter people who are really watching your house. Instead, invest in a switch that you can program. Varying lights throughout the day will make it feel like someone is there.

    #4: Remove any spare keys – If you keep a spare key somewhere outside the house, place it inside before you go or give it to a trusted friend. There's no use making it easy to get in. Do a final walkthrough before you leave to check for any windows, doors, or other types of entries that may be unlocked as well.

    #5: Get security and advertise it – A home security system isn't a bad thing. In fact, a good service keeps your house monitored when you can't. A sign in your yard only reinforces that someone's making sure your home is safe. Also, make sure to let your home security company know if you're heading out of town.

    #6: Stow valuables – If you have truly priceless items, it's smart to stow them away in a safe or somewhere you're confident is secure.

    #7: Turn down the heat – Want to save money? Turn down the thermostat so you aren't running full-blown while you're gone. Make sure it's not too cold though to prevent freezing. If you want to return to a warm home, have a friend turn the heat on the day before you get back.

    #8: Unplug – Unplug electronics, toasters, and any other item you want to protect from potential surges or that pose a fire hazard when unmonitored.

    #9: Keep some curtains open – It's a way for friends, neighbors, or the police to be able to see what's going on inside.

    #10: Stop your mail and newspaper – Call to put a temporary hold on mail and any newspapers you receive. A stockpile sitting on your porch or in your mailbox attracts attention.

    Contact Old Dominion Realty

    If you're interested in buying your first house or tenth house, our teams of REALTORS® in Virginia and West Virginia are ready to make your dreams of homeownership come true.  Contact Old Dominion Realty today.

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