Articles Tagged "homeowner tips"

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winter maintenance

Even though winter brings colder temperatures and shorter days, it's still an excellent time to tackle some landscaping projects on your to-do list. You can cross a few things off your spring gardening list, and your lawn and garden will be ready when warmer temperatures roll around. Our real estate agents recommend completing these landscaping chores during the winter months. 

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Holiday Hosting

Does the thought of holiday entertaining turn you into Santa Claus or the Grinch? Yes, it's really possible to throw a festive bash without losing your holiday spirit. Our real estate agents share their favorite tips for hosting a successful holiday party.

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New Pet

Bringing a new pet home is one of life's most enjoyable moments. In honor of Celebrate Shelter Pets Day, many people will be heading out to their local animal shelters to rescue a dog. Adopting a pet is a win-win situation: it gives a home to an animal in need and also helps to ease the burden on our local shelters.

If you're planning to bring a pet home this month, remember a little preparation goes a long way. While it's exciting to bring a pet home for the first time, it's also a huge adjustment for both the pet and your family. When our clients are ready for a dog, our real estate agents always recommend visiting a local Augusta County shelter and planning ahead. Here are some tips we can share to help ensure you're ready on day one:

Time to Adjust

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Hardwood Floor Tips

Original hardwood floors are often a top selling point for many homes. They're beautiful, easy to clean, and when properly cared for, they can last a lifetime. Despite the durability of hardwood floors, they're still impacted by day-to-day wear and tear, which can result in scratches, dents, fading, discoloration, and an unhealthy look. However, unlike carpet and laminate flooring, hardwood floors can be refinished, which can make them look as good as new.

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Kitchen Updates

If your kitchen is due for a makeover, it's important to know that a kitchen update doesn't need to be costly or time-consuming to be effective. Our real estate agents suggest these simple tricks to update your kitchen. 

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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.

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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. 


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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

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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 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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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%

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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."

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