Friday, June 30, 2006

Interest Rate Hike

The Federal Reserve Board has hiked rates for the 17th consecutive time over the past two years, bringing the Fed Funds Rate to 5.25%.

But what was most important about the news was the wording of the policy statement, saying that "economic growth is moderating...and inflation expectations remain contained...yet the Committee judges that some inflation risks remain."

So what does this mean? The fact that inflation expectations remain contained is good news for long-term bond investors and fixed home loan rates, but it's not clear if the Fed hikes are done quite yet.

And the Fed Funds Rate does directly impact many other rates, including Adjustable Rate Mortgages and Home Equity Lines of Credit. And although those programs probably saved you a bundle over the past several years of low interest rates – times have changed, and it’s likely time to give your whole financial picture a once over and see if any adjustments are needed.

If you need an introduction to a loan officer, contact us or visit our website. We know experienced, knowledgeable people who you would benefit from knowing.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

No Grantor's Tax Increase...Yet!

The debate's not over yet, but this past week's passage of a 2007 state budget does not include an onerous grantors tax increase. For months, the Virginia Association of Realtors has actively opposed proposals that would have funded transportation improvements in Virginia by quadrupling the tax owners pay when they sell real estate. Thanks in large part to VAR's strong response to the tax proposal, it was not included in the compromise budget that passed.

"The grantors tax proposal would be yet another assault on the cost of the real estate transaction," said VAR President Kit Hale of Roanoke. "While REALTORS® are sensitive to the transportation problems many areas of the state are experiencing, it's just not good public policy to fund solutions to those problems on the backs of property owners."

Hale added, "Since the General Assembly raised the recordation tax on homebuyers only two years ago, and homeowners are experiencing record increases in real estate taxes because of soaring assessments across the Commonwealth, any additional increases in the prices of buying, owning or selling homes is simply unfair."

Gridlocked since March, legislators passed a two-year, $74 billion state spending plan this past week. The General Assembly will come back later this summer or fall to address transportation. VAR fully expects the grantor and recordation taxes to be back in play then. "We aggressively opposed any efforts to increase real estate transfer taxes on a statewide basis throughout the 2006 regular and special sessions, and will do so again in the months ahead," said VAR CEO Scott Brunner. "At the same time, we aim to demonstrate leadership in working with our elected officials to find fairer, more common sense ways to fund transportation infrastructure in our state."
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Thinking of buying or selling a home in Hampton Roads? Visit our website to view all listings in Hampton Roads and to get a Free home evalustion.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Landscaping Improvements Pay Off Big

Money spent sprucing up the yard with trees, shrubs, lighting, and patios is well worth it — especially when it comes time to sell the home, a new study says. The report, by Arbor National Mortgage, found that 84 percent of real estate professionals believe a house on a treed lot would fetch at least 20 percent more than one on a lot without trees.

Another of the company’s surveys suggested that while shelling out for top-of-the line landscaping may only bring in an additional 4 percent to 5 percent, spending minimal amounts has a penalty. Home swith average landscaping sell for 20 percent more than homes with just fair landscaping.

The American Society of Landscape Architects suggests budgeting 5 percent to 10 percent of a home’s value for its initial landscaping.Before launching into a landscaping project, keep these pointers in mind:

1. If you can't afford to hire a landscape architect, check out the services offered by nurseries and big-box home improvement retailers, such as Home Depot. Many offer design services — sometimes without charge — if you are buy plants there.

2. You can save about half the cost of landscaping if you do the work yourself. But keep in mind that large trees are often killed when carried uncovered in the back of the buyer's SUV from the nursery to the house, not because they are planted poorly. Also, most nurseries won't guarantee plants they don't install.

3. If you're trying to stick to a tight budget, remember that a few larger plants will have a greater visual impact than many small ones.

4. Before planting trees, determine how large they will become and what leaf pattern will develop. If you plant a big tree too close to the house, the growing roots could cause the foundation to crack. And if you place it too near a sidewalk or driveway, root expansion could cause the pavement to buckle.

Source: Orlando Sentinel, Lew Sichelman (6/11/06)
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Want to know how your landsaping has increased the value of your home? Visit my website for your Free home evaluation.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Second Homes - thinking out of the box

Many buyers think a second home is out of their reach. But sometimes all it takes is thinking out of the box. Consider these possibilities:

1. Buy land. Purchase the land first with the plan to build on it further down the road.

2. Go for 'access'. Buying a property with waterfront access instead of waterfront can be more affordable.

3. Consider having neighbors. Condos can offer the amenties location you are looking for without the price of a single family.

4. Don't go for the address. Look into communities other than the 'hot' addresses with the 'hot' price tags.

5. Make 2nd first. Consider making your second home your first and renting something modest close to the office.
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Thinking of buying a second home in Virginia Beach? Contact us. We are here to help. Or visit our website for an automated email home search. It is fast, automatic, and free!

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Thursday, June 15, 2006

East Beach Condos

East Beach has announced the opening of it's new luxury condominium complex, East Beach Villas at Pretty Lake. This is the first opportunity for condominium living in East Beach, Norfolk's premier waterfront community. What could be better than to be able to walk to the bay, the harbor and soon to restaurants and shops. You'll want to take a look.
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Thinking of buying or selling a home. Visit our website to view all Hampton Roads real estate listings and get a Free home valuation for your home.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Boardwalk Art Show

Virginia Beach's Boardwalk Art Show is one of the oldest and best outdoor art shows on the eastern seaboard. I always find it a great place to start my Christmas shopping. June 15-18. Four days of art, shopping, food and nightly entertainment...don't miss it!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Who Needs A Survey?

A property survey is a map of a property showing where structures, easements and boundaries are located. To most buyers, being required by the mortgage company to have an updated survey for closing just seems like a waste of money. And, who wants to spend more money than absolutely necessary?

But, a survey is like insurance. The chances of you ever really needing it are slim, but if you ever do need it, you will be glad you have it. CNNMoney.com has a great article about folks who wished they had a survey. Be sure to take a look.
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Thinking of buying or selling a home? Visit our website. Here you can look at all homes listed for sale in Hampton Roads and get a Price Valuation.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

What Is A Contingency Contract?

Sandra Nickel, Realtor in Montgomery, AL, has an excellent post on contingency contracts. What are they and should you as a seller accept one. It is short, sweet and informative.

Please contact us with any questions you have about contingency contracts or real estate in Hampton Roads.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Hurricane Preparedness

Well, hurricane season arrived today and runs through November 30. Our local newspaper, The Virginian Pilot, has a great article today, How Do I Make A Hurricane Kit. Of course, this is something none of us like to think about, but with predictions of another busy hurricane season, it is something we need to think about.

Another cool item on The Virginian Pilot website is a graphic illustrating the potential threat and likely impact caused by the strength of a storm. You can click on the various Categories of storms (1 through 5) and see the likely damage the storm would cause. This graphic really brings it all home.
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If you are thinking of buying or selling your Hampton Roads home, visit our website and see how we can help.