Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Considering a Home Remodel? Make Sure It Will Pay Off

If your family has to wait in line to take a shower, or if you're storing pots and pans in the laundry room due to lack of cabinet space, it could be time to consider a home remodeling project. Not only will an updated space make your house more pleasant for you and your family, it can pay off in higher resale value.

To find out if your project will add to the resale value of your home, take stock of other houses in your neighborhood. Have many of them been upgraded in the past few years? If everyone on the block has added a bathroom or upgraded their master suite, these projects would be something to consider. On the other hand, you may not want to price your house out of the market by adding a third or fourth garage if that's not the standard in your area.

Remodeling Magazine conducts an annual survey that compares construction costs with resale values. Over the past four years, bathroom and kitchen remodeling have consistently shown good returns on investment. In 2005, a kitchen remodel that included updating cabinet fronts; replacing the oven, stove, sink and faucet; adding new paint or wall coverings; and replacing existing flooring recouped 98.5 percent of the job cost at resale time as a national average.

Bathroom remodels pay off even better. Updating a bathroom that is 25 years old with new fixtures, tub, and toilet; adding new tile, a solid surface vanity counter, ceramic floor and wallpaper recoups on average 102.2 percent.

Of course, you won't want to tackle a home improvement project solely for the resale value, especially if you intend to stay put for a while. A remodel can contribute to a better quality of living for your family while your house increases in value. "Choose an improvement that makes sense for you and your family and one that you can afford," says Maxine Sweet, vice president of public education for Experian, a global information solutions company.

To decide if a home remodeling project is right for you, make a list of features that you would like in the room to be renovated, taking into account how you and your family use the space. Consider traffic patterns, lighting and special features you'd like, such as a wet bar or walk-in shower.

Next, figure out how much you can spend on the project. You might want to consider taking out a home equity loan to finance the remodel. Because the loan is secured by your home, it will likely have a lower annual percentage rate, and you may get some tax breaks, too. The amount you can borrow is limited by the equity you have in your home. Other factors that may influence the amount you can borrow include your credit history, income and current financial responsibilities. Also, be sure to have a plan for how you will repay the loan. You don't want to put your home at risk or add too much stress to the family budget.

To make sure your financing is ready when you are, visit a credit reporting company online such as to quickly and easily access your credit report. "If you notice anything questionable, such as accounts you don't recognize, or payment disputes, deal with those issues before applying for a home equity loan," says Sweet. "It can also be helpful to have your credit score which will tell you specifically the factors in your credit history that could be considered risky by lenders."

Finally, get bids from several contractors to see how your budget and the cost of your dream remodel compare. Ask friends, neighbors and co-workers for recommendations, or ask your lender if they're familiar with the contractors you're considering. Another great way to check out a company is SmartBusinessReports, also available through Experian. These business credit reports provide consumers with background information, comprehensive financial information and credit risk facts about the business they are considering using in an easy-to-read, online format.

As with any big project, you'll need to be flexible and not let the inevitable glitches get in the way of the big picture - when you're done, you'll have a beautiful new space for you and your family to enjoy for years to come. (ARA)

If you would like input from a real estate professional as to whether or not your home improvement project will add resale value to your home or if you are over-improving for the neighborhood, just give us a call at 866-222-0158 #550. We are glad to help.

Monday, April 24, 2006


What gorgeous weather we had yesterday and another beautiful day forecast for today. How lucky we are to live in Hampton Roads!!

If all that yard work you did yesterday is in preparation to sell your home, visit A current market value of yur home will be emailed to you...without having to talkw with an agent.

And join us for Monday Morning Coffee.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Spring Has Sprung In Hampton Roads!

The South Hampton Roads spring real estate market is in full bloom. Both sales and prices are up, making this a great time to buy or sell a home.

March sales are not quite up to the 2005 level, with 1716 residential homes sold March 2006 compared to 1772 in March 2005. But, the good news is, there is a strong 12% increase in the average sales price compared to a year ago.

Another indication of the busy spring market is the comparison of the February and March sales. Sales in March more than doubled from the February with 1716 sales in March vs. 842 sales in February of this year. As well as, a decrease in DOM from 57 days in February to 45 days in March.

NAR President Thomas M. Stevens from Vienna, Va., says home prices are expected to cool in 2006, but not as much as in earlier projections. This statement was part of an updated housing report released last week for National Association of Realtors. The association is now saying homes sales will be up and down this year, but will remain high resulting in the third strongest year on record.

The South Hampton Roads market is warming up and reflecting the NAR predictions for 2006.
Sellers, there are lots of buyers entering the market. These buyers are looking for the best value and they have more to choose from this year. Pricing is critical. Listen to our April Podcast for a detailed discussion of how pricing will effect your sale the the amount of money you will put in your pocket.

If you want to know the current market value of your home, click here.

Statistics are based on information from REIN. They are deemed reliable, but not guaranteed.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Hampton Roads City Legislation

Chesapeake - City Council passed an emergency ordinance that provides additional tax relief measures for some senior citizens. Beginning Tuesday, the gross income threshold to participate in the real estate tax relief program was raised to $59,000 from $45,000 and the net worth threshold was raised from $200,000 to $207,000. This means that more seniors will be able to participate in the relief program.

Norfolk - The city has several programs available to help first-time homebuyers and low income homebuyers purchase homes in Norfolk. To find out about these programs, as well as new developments and other programs at

Portsmouth - The Virginia Port Authority's plan to develop a new 600 acre port facility on Craney Island took a major step forward when the project received the blessing of the Army Corps of Engineers' Civil Works Review Board. This allows the environmental impact statement will be released for a final review by local governments and other local entities. After that is complete, the Corps' final report on the project will be prepared and ultimately forwarded to Congress. The Corps and the Port Authority do not expect any substantial problems to arise as a result of the final review. Funding for the port project, which is expected to cost $2 billion, has not yet been appropriated.

Virginia Beach - City Council is considering changing the financial requirements to participate in its senior citizen tax relief program. Net worth requirements would rise from the current $179,500 threshold to anywhere between $200,000 and $350,000. City Council has appointed a task force to study the effects of the change on the budget and report back to Council in May.

Monday Morning Coffee

Please join us for Monday Morning Coffee

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Housing Market To Stay on High Plateau

Home sales should remain strong this year according to a report just released from the National Association of Realtors. The association expects sales to move up and down somewhat over for the rest of the year, but are predicting 2006 as being the third strongest year in history.

NAR President Thomas M. Stevens from Vienna, Va., said home prices are expected to cool, but not as much as in earlier projections. Click here to read the full report.

So if you were waiting for the real estate market to go bust before you buy, you probably shouldn't hesitate any longer. Visit our website, or contact us by phone, 866-222-0158 #550 or e-mail. We will show you how you can take advantage of this strong market and low interest rates.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Access Your Free Credit Report

One of the first steps to buying a home is arranging for financing and getting a pre-approval letter from a lender. This is a good time to take advantage of your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. This law requires the 3 credit reporting companies - Equifax, Experian, TransUnion - to provide you with a free credit report once a year.

Your credit report contains information on where you live, how you pay your bills and if you have been sued or filed for bankrupcy. It is used by businesses to evaluate applications for credit, insurance, employment and renting a home. Very often information on your credit report is inaccurate and you will want to get any discrepancies cleared up prior to applying for a home loan. Your credit reports effects whether or not your can get a loan and the interest rate you will pay. The better your credit report the better financing you will get.

Our March Podcast gives details on how to access your free annual credit report. Just visit our website, and click on the Podcast button. After receiving your credit report you may have questions about what it means. If so, give us a call, 866-222-0158 #550. We will put you in touch with a reputable lender who willbe happy to explain what it means.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Mortgage Rates Edge Up This Week In Response to Fed Actions

Freddie Mac (NYSE:FRE), Friday, released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market SurveySM (PMMSSM) in which the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 6.35 percent, with an average 0.5 point, for the week ending March 30, 2006, up from last week’s average of 6.32 percent. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 6.04 percent. The average for the 15-year FRM this week is 6.00 percent, with an average 0.5 point, up from last week’s average of 5.97 percent. A year ago, the 15-year FRM averaged 5.58 percent. Five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) averaged 6.02 percent this week, with an average 0.6 point, up from last week when it averaged 5.96 percent. A year ago, the five-year ARM averaged 5.43 percent. One-year Treasury-indexed ARMs averaged 5.51 percent this week, with an average 0.8 point, up from last week when it averaged 5.41 percent. At this time last year, the one-year ARM averaged 4.33 percent.

Confused by how these statistics effect you? Give us a call or drop us a line, we'll explain.

Join us for Monday Morning Coffee...