Thursday, March 30, 2006

Where Does Your Mulch Come From?

You may want to check with the companies that you hire to do your mulched beds this year, to make sure they know where the mulch they use is coming from. Or, if you buy your own mulch, be very careful about buying mulch it. After the hurricane in New Orleans many trees were blown over. These trees were then turned into mulch and the state is trying to get rid of tons and tons of this mulch to any state or company who will come and haul it away. So it will be showing up in Home Depot and Lowe's at dirt cheap prices with one huge problem...Formosan Termites will be the bonus in many of those bags.

New Orleans is one of the few areas in the country were the Formosan Termites has gotten a strong hold and most of the trees blown down were already badly infested with those termites. Now we may have the worst case of transporting a problem to all parts of the country that we have ever had. These termites can eat a house in no time at all and we have no good control against them, so tell your friends that own homes to avoid cheap mulch and know were it came from.

You can find more info here:

It is also a good idea to get a termite inspection this year. We recommed having your home inspected every year, but it sounds like this year it will be even more important. If you need a referral to a reputable termite company, just give us a call, 757-490-7300 #550, or drop us a note. We are happy to help!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Homeownership Trends

The Center For Housing Policy has released a new study detailing home ownership trends for the last 25 years. The sad news is working families with children are less likely to own their own homes now than they were in 1970. Although this is sad, it is not unexpected in light of the double digit housing price increases we have seen across the country in the last few years.

To read more, click here.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Let Yourself Be Heard

The Governor will hold town hall meeting Wednesday in Chesapeake concerning transportation and tax increases for state road and transit projects. Here is a chance to voice your opinion!

Join us for Monday Morning Coffee!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

What A Difference A Year Makes

A lower level of home sales expected this year will create a more level playing field for buyers and sellers on the heels of a five-year sellers’ market, according to the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. This is certainly true for the Hampton Roads real estate market! February home sales dropped 63% from February 2005 and the average market time has almost doubled.

Sellers in today's market will need to understand how things have changed over the past year. They must be competitively priced and have their homes in excellent condition to be able to compete for the limited number of buyers. You can have the current market value of your home emailed to you by clicking here.

Buyers will want to take advantage of the services of a Buyer's Representative agent who understands the current market, will look out for their best interests and help them negotiate the most favorable terms.

Are you thinking of buying or selling real estate in Hampton Roads in 2006? Give us a call, 866-222-0158 #550, or drop us a line. We can help!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Standardized Credit Score Is Unveiled

In an effort to make it easier for lenders and borrowers to understand consumer credit scores, the three biggest U.S. credit-reporting firms — Equifax Inc., Experian, and TransUnion — have banded together to standardize the method of calculation. The three firms have long used their own formulas to calculate credit scores, with varying grades sometimes resulting.

The joint system, VantageScore, brings consistency to the process and will make it easier for consumer to understand their score. VantageScore will offer ratings ranging from 501 to 990, with those over 900 earning an "A" rating. Though the credit-reporting firms will use the same exact formula to calculate the scores, they will continue to collect credit data individually. VantageScore reportedly will make it easier for consumers with limited credit histories to obtain financing.

Just like the traditional FICO credit-scoring system by Fair Isaac Corp., borrowers will score higher by making timely bill payments, keeping balances low, and showing a history of paying different types of debt.

Give us a call, 866-222-0158 #550 or drop us a line if you would like to learn more about how your credit score effects your ability to buy a home.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

CLUE Reports And How They Effect You

One of the biggest issues for buyers and sellers today seems to be overall rise in homeowners insurance, especially in the aftermath of recent natural disasters, like Hurricane Katrina. People are looking for ways to reduce these costs, and we’re getting a number of questions about CLUE Reports, and how they are being used by insurance companies.

What are CLUE reports? It is a report from the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange, which used by the insurance industry. Underwriters look at a property’s clue report because it lists all of the insurance claims that have been filed against that property over the past 3 to 5 years. Depending on the number of claims filed on the report, an underwriter may determine that a home is more or less risky to insure. Some people have seen their premiums go up significantly after the CLUE report was evaluated by the underwriter.

This is really something buyers and sellers need to be aware of – it’s a national issue and everyone is affected one way or another. Hear more about CLUE reports on our February Podcast.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

What Is Your Home Really Worth?

A new website claims to give the numbers in Hampton Roads and beyond. Wherever you live in Hampton Roads from Newport News to Virginia Beach to Isle Of Wight, if you plan to buy or sell a home, one of the most important pieces of information you will need is the home's current value in reasonably accurate terms.

Well, is a new national website that purports to be able to tell you that so that you - uh - won't need a Realtor like me. Well, I just read a good post on this by my friend Margaret Rome in Baltimore, Maryland and want to share it with you. It really says it all: "In the last few days, a new Web site launched with great fanfare but spotty performance. When CNN included a story about it on their evening news, the site couldn’t keep up with the hits. Why all the fuss? Zillow promises to give homebuyers and sellers up to date and complete information about the value of their home and comparables in their area. Some have suggested this will make real estate agents obsolete because people will be able to price their own homes to be competitive.

The early returns are that the site’s information is incomplete and sometimes wrong, which makes the suggested price ranges they give hard to justify. In some cases, the range is optimistically high, and for others, I’ve negotiated sales higher than their top amount. The site depends on public records for its data. But public records will not show factors, like recent additions and improvements or the condition of the interior, that affect price. Public records can also be wrong; a friend of mine checked her house and said she wants that fireplace she’s supposed to have, but will not give up the second bathroom they didn’t count.

If the information about a house is wrong, how valid is the price estimate? In time, the site will undoubtedly improve, but for now – caution. There is no question about real estate agents becoming an endangered species because of this or any other site. Price is only one factor in buying or selling your home, and getting to the settlement table means avoiding traps and overcoming obstacles.

A top agent will be experienced at: negotiating the terms of your contract, making sure only qualified buyers troop through your home, meeting and dealing with appraisers, and
working with home inspectors and title companies to be sure you are protected from start to finish.

Buying or selling a home is an emotionally-charged transaction. Now more than ever it pays to have an experienced professional on your side. Embrace the benefits of new technology, but don’t fall into the trap of believing it will replace market knowledge and personal service.
The end of real estate agents? Not any time soon. Margaret"

Visit Margaret Rome's Blog here.

I am glad to provide you with a complete, accurate home evaluaton. Click here for your no-obligation report.