Adding Green Value to a Home

The home of Handshake 2.0 might need a deck…

Question:  We want to add a deck to our house. Given all the new "green" building materials, what factors should I have in mind and what should I or can I do to add to the property value of my home?

Answer: Rachel Anker-JohnsonColdwell Banker Townside, REALTORS(R):

Adding a deck to your home will definitely enhance its value, living appeal and marketability.  If you intend to sell the home in the near future, however, you probably won't get dollar-for-dollar return on your investment, especially if you are using a contractor for the work.
 
Rachel Anker-Johnson, Coldwell Banker Townside If your goal is to enhance your experience living in the home while adding value for a long-term future sale, then there are some choices you can make that will be attractive to future buyers.  Trex decking (or other brands of a similar material) is very popular right now because of its low maintenance characteristics.  The material is extremely durable, and does not require curing, sealing, stripping or painting over time like the more common wood decks. 

My experience with buyers is that they are looking for an outdoor space that can be used rain or shine, so screening in the deck would also enhance its appeal.  If this may be out of the budget, consider installing a retractable awning to achieve the same goal.
 
Thanks for your question, and best of luck!

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Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTORS (R) is a full service real estate agency specializing in Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Roanoke, and Salem, Virginia real estate and homes.  A client of Handshake 2.0, Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTORS (R) strives to be the best online source for real estate listings in Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Roanoke, Salem and all of the  Roanoke Valley and New River Valley.   Experienced agents are available to provide expert real estate advice and quality customer service.  You're invited to view this week's featured properties.  ( Technorati: uwack73qps )

Small Steps to Sell a Small Home – Make Small Repairs and Clean, Clean, Clean

Question:  I work for a local technology company and I’ve just received a promotion.  Once my pay raise kicks in, I’d like to buy a larger house.  I’m not very handy, but I’d like to do what I can to increase the likelihood that my small home will sell for a good price.  Do you have any suggestions for minor, short-terms, do-it-yourself steps I can take to increase the value of my home?

Answer: Pat TracyColdwell Banker Townside, REALTORS(R):

An overstuffed closet leads prospective buyers to wonder if your house is a fit for them. The most important thing to do, in a way, is the easiest:  Make small repairs. Are all doorknobs and cabinet knobs secure? Do all lights work?  Does the paint need touching up?

If repairs are beyond your skills (be honest), hire a handyman and for a couple of hundred dollars, you can get a lot of small repairs done well. 

Then clean, clean, clean.  The standard to keep in mind:  What do you want to find in a hotel room you’ve rented?  After all, when you market your home, you’re asking people to imagine brushing their teeth in that sink…

The standard advice about de-cluttering is not a joke.  Prospective buyers have to imagine THEIR stuff in your space, and your stuff is a distraction (unless it’s really cool -  then maybe you’ll get an offer to sell some furniture).

Closets and cabinets that are full-to-bursting remind people to ask whether there would be enough storage space; an unmowed lawn reminds people that lawn-mowing is a chore; gutters overflowing with leaves or pine needles remind them they’ll have to clean the gutters.

When prospective buyers come in, you want to encourage only happy thoughts!  If small repairs and cleaning are under control, then think about bigger projects: neutral paint colors, best-condition countertops, new carpeting or refinished hardwood, etc.  Feel free to ask a local REALTOR (R) to give you some on-site advice tailored to your particular house in terms of its comparably priced homes – "comps" - in your neighborhood and price range.  She or he will know what, beyond the basic touch-up and cleaning, is cost-effective in your particular market segment.

And congratulations on that promotion!

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Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTORS (R) is a full service real estate agency specializing in Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Roanoke, and Salem, Virginia real estate and homes.  A client of Handshake 2.0, Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTORS (R) strives to be the best online source for real estate listings in Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Roanoke, Salem and all of the  Roanoke Valley and New River Valley.   Experienced agents are available to provide expert real estate advice and quality customer service.  You're invited to view this week's featured properties. 

Twitterin’ Tommy – Success Stories from Road Trip 2.0

From Z. Kelly Queijo:

On the information superhighway, Twitter has provided Tommy Clapp, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Townside, plenty of roadside assistance.

When he needed to help a referral connect with a Realtor in another state, Clapp tweeted a direct message (DM) to an agent in Northern Virginia and received the name of an attorney who handles real estate closings in Baltimore. He then contacted that person via Twitter and the name of a Baltimore agent was sent in reply. Before the day was over, he was able to connect a buyer who had been referred to him and who wanted to buy a house in Baltimore with an agent from a trusted source. “Its fantastic how well it worked out and in a period of hours,” says Clapp. “They were able to get together that weekend to find something.”

Tommy Clapp, Realtor, Coldwell Banker Townside, with his iPhone

Handshake 2.0 asked Tommy Clapp,
"Can an iPhone take a picture of itself?"
Great answer – a shot taken with his Mac.

Imagine shopping in Lowes and realizing you forgot to measure a piece of furniture and that measurement was a “must-have” in order to make a purchase decision? That's exactly what  happened to Clapp. He did what anyone with a cell phone could do – he posted a tweet asking for the dimensions of a king size bed. Seconds later, he had the info he needed. “I love the connection part of it and the wealth of information is incredible.”

Making friends on Twitter is another added benefit. Clapp met his first “Twitter friend” on an out-of-state trip. They arranged to meet over lunch and discovered that they knew a great deal about one another even though they had never met face-to-face.

With all the successes Clapp has experienced using Twitter, I asked him if there were anything else he needed to further make his way on Road Trip 2.0. His reply? “Hands down – a blog.”

Meet Tommy Clapp on Twitter at @Chumley21.

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Z. Kelly Queijo writes about business and technology, people and their passions.  She is a frequent contributor to Handshake 2.0.  You can follow her on Twitter, @zkellyq.

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Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTORS, a Handshake 2.0 client, is a full service real estate agency specializing in Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Roanoke, and Salem, Virginia real estate and homes.  It strives to be the best online source for real estate listings in Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Roanoke, Salem and all of the  Roanoke Valley and New River Valley.   Experienced agents are available to provide expert real estate advice and quality customer service.  You're invited to view this week's featured properties, search all area listings, and to read agent tips on the Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTORS® blog, Keepin' It Real Estate.

Real Estate. Simplified. Socialized.

From Z. Kelly Queijo:

I've never met real estate agent Jeremy Hart face-to-face, yet I feel like I know him or would certainly like to. Our contact has been by phone, through email, blogging and Twitter.

Obviously, these communication methods can't tell me everything there is to know about this Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTORS agent, but I've learned enough to trust his insight into the New River Valley (NRV) real estate market and appreciate his view on how to use social media tools effectively.

Jeremy launched the NRVLiving – Real Estate. Simplified. blog in 2006 to address what he saw as an unmet need.  “No one else seemed to be talking – online – about real estate in the New River Valley.  I wanted a forum to talk about real estate that focused on our area of Virginia.”

His blog not only includes regional highlights, tips for home buyers and sellers, but also gives us an  insight into Jeremy as a person as well as a professional. But most importantly, it's “how” the blog is written that makes you feel as though you're sitting and chatting with him in his living room.

“The blog, and Twitter, are both critical pieces of my business,” says Jeremy. “With social media, though, I don't think it's so much 'what' you're using as 'how,' and 'why.' [I] Find ways to engage with people.”

Fellow agent, Tommy Clapp agrees. New to Twitter, he's already found the network of real estate and other professional people to be highly interactive and, in a word, “fantastic” but notes that the technology makes business both harder and easier.

“Easier,” Tommy says,  “from the standpoint of allowing us to be in two places at the same time, being able to communicate more freely with clients at anytime of the day and instantly get someone. A harder thing is how much information the public has before they even see you. If you aren't abreast of the latest and greatest, you'll be spitting the dust of your competition.”

Jeremy's found that following and being followed on Twitter works well for bringing people together. “I met with an executive at a local firm here in Blacksburg just the other day. Neither of us had any business with the other at the time, The purpose of the meeting was simply to meet each other in real life since we'd followed each other online for some time.  The first thing he said to me when I got there?  'I feel like I already know you.'  To me, that's social media.”

I know that feeling. You can follow Jeremy or Tommy on Twitter. To find out more about them, visit the CBTownside website where you can also engage and chat online.

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You can get to know Jeremy Hart and his view of The Blacksburg and Christiansburg Real Estate Market in this video from his site NRVLiving – Real Estate. Simplified.

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Z. Kelly Queijo writes about business and technology, people and their passions.  She is a frequent contributor to Handshake 2.0.

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Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTORS®, a Handshake 2.0 client, is a full service real estate agency specializing in Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Roanoke, and Salem, Virginia real estate and homes.  We strive to be the best online source for real estate listings in Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Roanoke, Salem and all of the  Roanoke Valley and New River Valley.   Experienced agents are available to provide expert real estate advice and quality customer service.  You're invited to view this week's featured properties, search all area listings, and to read agent tips on the Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTORS® blog, Keepin' It Real Estate.

Time to Walk in the Front Door of Your New Home

Front door in the New River Valley, photo by Jeremy Hart, Coldwell Banker, Townside, REALTORS From Margaret Galecki:

This is a great time for buyers in the New River Valley real estate market. Inventory is up, interest rates are at historic lows, and prices are realistic.  The average sales price is down for the first two months of the year compared to the same period last year –  down by an average of 9% for Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Radford, Giles, Floyd and Pulaski County, Virginia – and now the stimulus package offers a great opportunity for first-time home buyers.

You may qualify for up to an $8000 tax credit:

  • If you OR you spouse have not owned a home in the last three years.
  • If you make less than $75,000, or if you and your spouse make less than $150,000 together (tax credit phases out gradually for singles up to $95K and joint filers, up to $170K)
  • If you close on the purchase a home between January 1, 2009 and November 30,2009.
  • If the home you purchase is a principal residence.

This is truly a tax credit, not a loan; it does not require repayment. The amount of the tax credit is up to 10% of the cost of the home you purchase or $8000, whichever is less.

So…  If you qualify for the tax credit and you buy an $80,000 or more home, you will receive a credit on your tax return of $8000. If you only owe $6000, for example, the remainder, $2000, will be refunded to you.  Here are more details and FAQs for you on the First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit and here's an IRS link, but do consult your personal tax advisor before making a purchase to make sure you qualify for the tax credit.

So if you don't own a home and you haven't owned a home for three years, this is a perfect time to look. New properties are coming on the market every day in every price range.

An agent at Coldwelll Banker Townside can set up a system to e-mail you new listings the moment they come on the market, so you can know what is new first.  Maybe you'll see the perfect front door during this perfect time to buy. 

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From Handshake 2.0:  Margaret Galecki, general manager of Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTORS®, was featured in A New Outlook on Sales Prices by Sarah Cox (.pdf), The Roanoke Times, 10/26/08.

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Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTORS® is a full service real estate agency specializing in Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Roanoke, and Salem, Virginia real estate and homes.  We strive to be the best online source for real estate listings in Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Roanoke, Salem and all of the  Roanoke Valley and New River Valley.   Experienced agents are available to provide expert real estate advice and quality customer service.  You're invited to view this week's featured properties, search all area listings, and to read agent tips on the Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTORS® blog, Keepin' It Real Estate.

New River Valley and Roanoke Valley Mortgage Market – From Soft to Stable

Margaret Galecki, general manager of Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTORS®

From Margaret Galecki:

At our sales meeting at Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTORS® on Tuesday, 2/3/09, Marianne Lane, New River Valley and Roanoke Valley representative of Coldwell Banker Mortgage, shared good news about the Blacksburg, Virginia and Roanoke, Virginia mortgage market: 

"Lending guidelines have dictated that in order for mortgages to meet agency guidelines, every property upon loan submission must have a designation as to what type of market in which the property is located. The designations run from great (stable), good (soft), not so good (declining), and bad (severely declining)."

"These designations are based on many things and much data, but to nutshell it, it is a clear indicator as to how the properties are retaining their value … i.e. stable market means the values are steady, severely declining means property values are down significantly. In a stable market, for some programs, a minimum down payment of 5% is acceptable where as in a severely declining market the acceptable minimum down payment needs to be at least 10%."

Given the importance of those guidelines, Marianne Lane was happy to announce that the Blacksburg and Roanoke area has been upgraded from "soft" to "stable" in the mortgage market. This means that lenders should have more flexibility in mortgage products they have to offer, particularly with down payment restrictions.

Inventory is high and new listings are popping on the market every day. There have been 500 new listings already this year in the New River Valley and close to 400 of those are new residential listings. Low interest rates in a stable market with high inventory make it a great time to buy homes and investment properties.

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From Handshake 2.0:  Margaret Galecki, general manager of Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTORS®, was featured in A New Outlook on Sales Prices by Sarah Cox (.pdf), The Roanoke Times, 10/26/08.

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Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTORS® is a full service real estate agency specializing in Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Roanoke, and Salem, Virginia real estate and homes.  We strive to be the best online source for real estate listings in Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Roanoke, Salem and all of the  Roanoke Valley and New River Valley.   Experienced agents are available to provide expert real estate advice and quality customer service.  You're invited to view this week's featured properties, search all area listings, and to read agent tips on the Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTORS® blog, Keepin' It Real Estate.

Keepin’ Connected at Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTORS®

From Margaret Galecki:

As general manager of Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTORS®, I field a large volume of solicitations on how to make my business and the business of my agents better.  Most of what shows up in my mailbox, physical and virtual, ends up in the trash.  Margaret Galecki, general manager of Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTORS®Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTORS®, I field a large volume of solicitations on how to make my business and the business of my agents better.  Most of what shows up in my mailbox, physical and virtual, ends up in the trash. 

As mother of many and sister of one, I also field a large volume of requests for help on how to make business, both the personal and the professional,  better.  Most of my suggestions to my children end up in the trash, but my sister seems to welcome any idea I can throw her way. 

When I picked up my complimentary first issue of Valley Business FRONT from my mailbox, I immediately thought of my sister, Anne Giles Clelland, founder of Handshake 2.0, and how this might be a great place for her to advertise her product which I call "business blogs for people who are too busy to write them."

As I picked up the phone to call her, I continued to thumb through the magazine, only to find her ad was already there (designed by graphic artist, Kelsey Sarles, a referral to Anne because of the fine work she does for Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTORS®). 

While I was still looking through the magazine (for a much longer time than most), an e-mail arrived from Anne asking me if I could confirm that Eric Schmidt of Google fame was of the same Blacksburg family that we knew something of when we were in high school.  I knew that he was because of a conversation I had with Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTORS® agent and long-time Blacksburg and fellow past Airport Acres resident, Steve Ayers, so I suggested she send Steve a quick e-mail to ask for details. 

As I continued perusing the issue, I also found a picture and advertisement for Mary Miller, a client and friend of another one of my agents, John Skelton.  I showed the picture to John in case he wanted to commend her for the fine-looking ad.
 
The next day, I went to check with Steve to find out if he had been communicating with Anne about Eric Schmidt.  He was chatting with agent Tommy Clapp.  I mused out loud, "I wonder if Anne got in to see Eric Schmidt."

Tommy answered, "She was first in line!" 

"How'd you know?" I asked.

"Twitter."

I then checked out Handshake 2.0 to find out about the event.  While reading Anne's blog post about Blacksburg Eric Schmidt and her communication with Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTORS® agent Steve Ayers, I read down through her blog and found a post about the new magazine.  I learned that one of her favorite parts of the magazine was the ad showing Blacksburg businesswoman, and Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTORS® client, Mary Miller. 

Furthermore, Tommy knew Anne was first in line because another Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTORS® agent Jeremy Hart, had gotten her started on Twitter.
 
That was all under 24 hours… The connections in even my small world continue to amaze me, and I wasn't even trying.

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From Handshake 2.0:  Margaret Galecki, general manager of Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTORS®, was featured in A New Outlook on Sales Prices by Sarah Cox (.pdf), The Roanoke Times, 10/26/08.

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Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTORS® is a full service real estate agency specializing in Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Roanoke, and Salem, Virginia real estate and homes.  We strive to be the best online source for real estate listings in Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Roanoke, Salem and all of the  Roanoke Valley and New River Valley.   Experienced agents are available to provide expert real estate advice and quality customer service.  You're invited to view this week's featured properties, search all area listings, and to read agent tips on the Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTORS® blog, Keepin' It Real Estate.