When December rolls around, you probably are not as keen to tour homes for sale, even if you do expect to buy and move soon. The holiday season is hectic enough with people making plans to visit relatives, shop for gifts, and host people for holiday parties. I can’t imagine somebody wanting to selling a home in this time, even one who is eager to move. Some have suggested, too, that the holiday season isn’t conducive to selling homes because people are indeed preoccupied. Nonetheless, it should not deter you from thinking about the house you want to buy when you are ready.
While you continue to browse real estate websites and classified over a steaming cup of cocoa or cider, keep in mind a wish list for your new home. It may be a good idea, too, to check out certain neighborhoods and properties in this time, so you will be able to perceive winter weather issues and work commute delays where applicable.
Need help composing a wish list? Here are a few things to think about when you are ready to find that new house:
1) New or recently renovated fixtures. Unless you want to buy a fixer-upper, you may see a house in need of a new roof or windows as one to pass. Homeowners know, too, in order to make a house attractive to buyers they must concede to a few changes and improvements. You may be more inclined to bid on a house with a new roof or HVAC, newer windows and upgraded kitchen appliances. This way you don’t have to replace anything right off the bat and spend more money.
2) Eco-friendly applications. Everybody is “going green” these days, and with eco-friendly fixtures added to a house you may see energy bills reduced. If the homes you browse have money-saving appliances like thermal windows and a tankless water heater, you definitely want to make note. Consult with a real estate agent, too, and let them know you are interested in green homes.
3) Off-street parking. This may not seem like a dealbreaker to you, but you will definitely appreciate the luxury of a driveway or garage as opposed to parking in the street.
4) Decking. If you like to relax at home, consider checking out houses with the backyard deck ready for your outdoor rocker.
Keep a list of things you want in your next home. Once the holidays are over, many homeowners will resolve to sell, and you will be ready.
You’ve taken the initial tour, explored every room, and pictured how the entire place will look with some new paint and your furniture. After weeks or even months, you have finally found the home you want. You call your real estate agent, ready to make an offer and get that contract hammered out. That’s when you find out somebody else has fallen in love with the exact same place.
It’s frustrating to discover you may have to bid against another party for a house you want to buy. If you have spent a long time looking for the right place to live, you may feel aggressive. It’s understandable – if you’ve invested this much time, the last thing you want to do is start all over again. However, you don’t want to end up agreeing to pay more for a home if you think the price is too high for the house… and if you can’t afford a raised cost.
So, what do you do? Keep nudging up the bid and hope the other party backs away? Can you afford to do that?
If you anticipate such a situation, you may need to face the fact that you need a Plan B in the form of another property on which to bid. When it comes to real estate, you never want to put all of your eggs in one basket anyway – you need to weigh different factors with each home you visit and determine ideal locations for you and your family. You’ll want to look for homes in good school districts that offer reasonable commutes to and from work, and you want to find a home that won’t require too many repairs or renovations before you move in.
It’s worth noting, too, that another party can bid on the home but may be rejected for various reasons – a bank or credit institution may not approve him for a loan or mortgage, or they may be relocated out of town – so you want to be careful how you match or exceed bids in these cases. When you sense other people are interested, you might tend to bid high initially to discourage competition, when all you’re really doing is driving up the price.
When faced with the possibility of a bidding war on a home, you want to assess the most accurate worth of the house, keep a cool head, and bid incrementally to a point. Don’t get carried away and end up committing to a price you can’t pay.
Kathryn Lively is a freelance writer specializing in articles on Norfolk real estate and Virginia Beach homes.
What’s so great about Norfolk, Virginia? Why settle here when there are many other options in the Commonwealth? This is one question my husband and I pondered when he was hired to teach at an area university. We explored the entire Hampton Roads region, from historic Wiliamsburg to sunny Virginia Beach, and gave serious thought to Norfolk for a number of reasons.
For one, my husband liked the schools. We didn’t have children at the time, but we planned on a family. As a professor of education, my husband became familiar with the school systems and knew Virginia overall had good public school. Norfolk, too, is home to a number of acclaimed private schools, like The Williams School. Also, the city is rich in history and culture. There are museums, performance venues, and community colleges that sponsor many artistic classes and events. Several festivals happen every year at Town Point Park, and with the addition of light rail it’s easier to get around town.
If you’re looking for a condo in Norfolk, as we did many years ago, you should know that many come up for sale regularly. Norfolk enjoys a steady economy due in part to the military presence, many large corporations with headquarters here, and NATO. Just a few affluent areas you should consider as you explore the city include:
Ghent – This part of town is known for proximity to Eastern Virginia Medical School and a great children’s hospital. Many gourmet eateries and boutiques line the main drag on Colley Avenue, and you can walk to the Chrysler Museum from here.
Larchmont – Larchmont is set a bit deeper back in the city near the LaFayette River. You’re close to Old Dominion University and the naval base here, and some very beautiful scenery.
Downtown and Freemason – More people are coming to choose the urban life in downtown condos. The historic Freemason area along the Elizabeth River is also close to downtown and attractions like Nauticus and the ballpark.
Ocean View – You don’t have to move to Virginia Beach to live at the beach. Ocean View is where you’ll find Norfolk’s shoreline along the bay. If you long for a water view, definitely take a drive.
All of these regions are why Norfolk offers benefits to condo owners. You’re always close to good schools and dining, and the areas are convenient to I-264, so the work commute is rarely a hassle. Contact a local Norfolk real estate agency today to learn more about condos for sale in town.
Kathryn Lively is a freelance writer specializing in articles on Norfolk real estate and Norfolk condos.
One good thing about shopping for a new home is that you do have some freedom to shop and compare. You may hear from real estate agents that you should act quickly to bid on houses that appeal greatly to you, and it is true that good deals can receive several offers even before the For Sale sign is hammered into the lawn. However, as the buyer, you are in an important decision and can afford a moment to view upgrades made to a house that interests you. As you browse you may discover, too, features you never thought to put in a home.
It would be nice to move into a new house that has what you need and want already installed. What would you like to see in the ideal new home? If you’re not certain, here are a few things to consider as you visit open houses or tour residences with an agent.
Security: Even if you’re looking in a neighborhood that is generally considered “safe,” it’s nice to check if the homeowners have a security system setup. This could include motion-sensitive outdoor lights that come on in the night, or a security panel by the front and back doors. As the previous owners about the condition of the area and subscription costs of their system to determine if it’s worth having.
Upgraded Kitchen: Having toured many a home, I can tell you the kitchen is one of the first rooms I visit on the tour. I would like to walk into a kitchen knowing I don’t have to immediately replace the stove, refrigerator, or dishwater once it’s bought. If you’re serious about buying a home, and you cook, it would be nice to find newer appliances ready for you. A refrigerator with a built-in ice dispenser, a flat-top stove, a whisper quiet dishwater – these are great items for any dream kitchen.
Bigger Closets: Older homes don’t have much closet space. This is because decades ago, even longer, people didn’t focus on having much to store. You used everything you had. These days, we pack more clothes and keep holidays decorations in the house. If you’re looking at older houses, look for renovations done to improve storage space.
Backyards: Is there a space outside where you can chill after work? It would be nice to see a deck or firepit, or a beautifully landscaped patio in the backyard. It would save you the trouble of planning one.
Keep an eye out for improvements homeowners have made. The better the upgrades, the easier your homebuying decision will be.
Kathryn Lively is a freelance writer specializing in articles on Norfolk real estate and Chesapeake real estate.
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When my husband and I began shopping for homes in earnest, our real estate agent took us to many condos and attached homes. We didn’t think much of it at the time – since we live in a beach town, condominiums are fairly common. Seeing so many communities with single family attached homes, however, interested us. They were not listed as condos, because owners would not be subject to fees or covenants as they might within a condo community. It did give us pause to determine, though, if buying a single family attached house was a good idea.
An attached home is defined simply – a single-family structure that shares a common wall with another home. Where we live, we may find four such homes connected, or sometimes two. You may consider such buildings as duplexes or quadruplexes, though these terms are more often associated with rentals or condos. Regardless of how you spell it, though, the fact remains that if you buy such a place you’re going to be very close to your neighbors. This is something you need to consider strongly before you commit to a mortgage.
Living in an attached home can have advantages and pitfalls. As you weigh your options, you’ll have a clearer picture of whether or not such a place is right for you. Consider these points:
- Attached homes typically do not have much lawn space. If you’re the type who despises doing lawn work, you may find this housing option more attractive.
- As opposed to condo owners, attached home owners may have more leeway when it comes to landscaping and decor. It’s wise, however, to check for a community covenant.
- Living in this type of home may grant you more security. With people close by to watch the area, you may enjoy heightened vigilance.
On the flip side:
- Too much closeness may not always be a good thing. If there is one certainty in life, it’s that you cannot choose your neighbors. If the people next to you like to play loud music, smoke, and party until the wee hours, you’ll have a problem.
- Because you share a common wall with another homeowner, the risk of damage to your home may increase. If another unit catches on fire, your home may incur damage. Also, your insurance rates may vary with an attached home as opposed to a detached one.
Ultimately, you will need to decide if such a home is right for your family. We have decided to keep looking, but if you find it suits your needs make sure you go into the buy knowing everything about the home and the community.
When you come after a long day of work, you want to make yourself comfortable. To this effect, you choose furniture that is functional and easy on the back, though you may be concerned that some pieces cause your rooms to appear cluttered or smaller. It’s nice to have space in which to move around, but if you also need tables and shelving for storage you will need to consider how to place everything so you can walk freely through your home. There are ways to get the items you want without sacrificing space.
If you value having plenty of room to move, whether in your bedroom or living room, here are a few ideas to keep your home clutter-free.
1) Storage Beds. If your current bed is raised from the floor, no doubt you have stored unused boxes underneath it. This is a good idea, but when left unchecked those boxes will end up coated in dust bunnies! You want to consider buying a bed with a storage base – drawers to hold seasonal clothing and other objects.
For your child’s bedroom, the storage bed is very useful for stowing away extra clothes and toys. You can also look for models that have a trundle bed underneath, which is good for sleepovers and visiting relatives.
2) Sofa Tables. If you find you’re the type who is always stacking something on a table, you may frown on the cluttered look of your home. Sofa tables, those long, narrow tables that are positioned behind couches, give you some space to set keys and phones for easy access. Depending on how you position your furniture, the sofa table can be somewhat concealed, so you don’t have items strewn about a room.
3) Drop-Leaf or Butterfly-Leaf Tables. If you have a small family at home, or it’s just yourself, there’s no need to own a large dining table. In fact, having a smaller, cafe style table is sufficient for eating and it may encourage you to keep it clean and not pile untouched mail and books on the surface.
If you entertain often or work from home, using a drop-leaf or butterfly-leaf table lets you extend the surface for a more practical use. When you are finished, you can store the leaves and increase room space.
You can also visit your local furniture store for more ideas on saving space through furniture positioning and special items. Give yourself some elbow room but don’t skimp on furniture pieces you want.
As you tour potential houses to buy, you may see something in each one that appeals to you. One home may have lots of closet space, and another may have a lovely backyard deck, perfect for summer barbecues and outdoor parties. Occasionally, you’ll drive past a For Sale sign with the word “Pool” attached. If you love to swim and have dreamed of owning a pool, you may be more inclined to look at homes for sale where the pool is already installed. Yes, it saves you the trouble of having one built eventually, but is it a good idea to buy a home with an existing pool?
A home for sale that includes a pool, is likely priced higher than other properties by virtue of the value a pool purportedly adds. When looking at such sale properties, here are some things you’ll want to look for:
- Style of the pool – is it above ground or underground, and what is the condition of the landscaping around it?
- Condition of the pool – does it appear well-maintained, or are there cracks in the bowl and chipped tiling or a dirty lining?
- Accompaniments – is there an pool house on the property?
If the swimming pool is kept well and you believe you can secure the home at a good price, there are other considerations to bear in mind. Some pool owners will argue that owning one is like paying into a money pit. Expenses that come with a pool add up over time, especially if you live in an area where you can swim year round.
Advantages to Buying a Home With a Pool
If you buy the house as is:
- You have the pool ready to go, barring any cleaning or maintenance needed. You don’t have to think about hiring a contractor to dig up your yard.
- You don’t have to concern yourself with pool club memberships.
- You may be able to negotiate with the seller on a good price if he wants to sell quickly.
Disadvantages with Buying a Home With a Pool
- You may need to pay a higher home insurance premium.
- If nobody in your family is certified to administer first aid, you’ll need to take safety courses through the Red Cross. This is especially important if you plan to have people over to swim.
- If something breaks down immediately, you’re responsible for repair.
- Should you decide you no longer want the responsibility of maintaining a pool, you’re stuck until you sell.
Swimming pools are fun, and refreshing in hot weather. If you truly want one for your home, take care when browsing for sale homes. Weigh all the pros and cons before you bid.
It would be nice to have closets like they do at Hogwarts, where you can keep stuffing the space with everything you own and you never run out of room. Unfortunately, many of us live in older homes, built during a time when people presumed we wouldn’t collect so much. If you’re limited on closets and storage at home, you may have considered renting a self-storage unit to keep the house free of clutter. It’s a great solution, especially if you have no plans to sell anything. So, what’s stopping you from renting a unit?
Of course, money. Unless you know a willing relative with an extra closet, or have access to a cave nobody visits, you probably won’t find good storage space for free. If you feel you’re already taxed with bills and rent and other expenses, tacking on another monthly payment for storage may seem too much for your wallet. In truth, storage may be more affordable than you think, and rental companies constantly offer deals and discounts to new and established customers. You just have to know where to look.
As you price the various companies in your area, you will look for a number of things. Location is a prime factor in your decision, as you don’t want to drive too far to retrieve things from storage. Even if one rental company is a fair drive away and cheaper, you have to weigh out the cost of gas versus the price of the unit. Is it economical to pay a bit more and drive less? Make sure you take notes on every place you visit.
A few perks you’ll want to look for include:
1) Truck rental specials. Most storage facilities offer truck rentals so people can make one large haul from the house. You’ll find some places will entice new renter with a free one-time use of a truck. If you have no way to move everything in one trip, look for a special like this.
2) First month free. It’s nice to get into a storage space and not have to worry about immediately paying the bill. The first month free deal is a common promotion to bring in new renters, and it’s a good special if you know you’ll have cash flow but not immediately.
3) Military discounts. If you serve, storage facilities may be especially helpful to you. Ask about discounts in your area.
4) No long-term commitments. Another concern about renting is the fear of being locked into a contract. If you prefer to rent month to month, make sure the deal you sign stipulates that you can cancel when you wish. You may have to give advance notice, but it’s better than waiting out a contract and paying for months you don’t need storage.
Self-storage is a viable and affordable solution to your home clutter problem. Take care to find the right deal for you.
Whether you plan to downsize your home, are in the process of moving, or just want to clear away unused items, self-storage is a viable and affordable solution. Renting a storage unit for a month or longer allows you to place your belongings in a safe, climate-controlled facility. It’s a good option if your life is in flux and you’re not certain when you will be able to unpack your things for home access. If you own a lot a books, you may be concerned if they will hold up well packed away. Self-storage of your personal library is one way to ensure your books are not damaged.
If you plan to box up your extra books to stow away, here are a few tips to ensure your library remains protected.
1) Determine what stays and what goes. This is important, especially if you continue to consult certain books on occasion. I typically go by the year rule when packing things – if I haven’t used it in more than a year, it gets stored. Cookbooks and manuals, for two, are more likely to be used regularly, so you will want to keep those on hand.
2) Use sturdy packaging. Whether you intend to pack newer books or antiques, you want to use good boxes that will keep your property dry and free from bugs and debris. Cardboard boxes are acceptable, as are plastic pins, just make sure they seal well.
3) Don’t load up too many heavy books. Remember, you have to haul these books to and from storage, so be mindful when you pack. You don’t want to load up all the heavy textbooks in one place and risk injury carting that box! Survey the books going into storage, then divide the sizes equally.
4) Pack books flat. You may be able to get more books in a box if you stack them spine upward. However, laying books flat in a box is better for the spines. If you have valuable books and keepsakes, pack them flat so the spines won’t crack.
5) Choose a self-storage facility with climate-control. Moderate temperatures are best for keeping books so they do not mildew. As you search for a storage unit, inquire about climate control and other procedures done to keep units clean and well-circulated.
6) Stack carefully. You will want to stack boxes to make room in your unit, but be mindful that the anchor boxes are able to support the rest.
With your library packed and stored, you can rest assured that your books are kept safe to enjoy in the future.
The real estate market in Norfolk is getting hotter, you have seen the “For Sale”signs here and there, and now you can see the “Sold” signs as well. Norfolk is a great place to buy a house and the time is great also. With reduced list prices and very attractive financing options available it is still the buyer’s market.
There are many ways to find the house, and the most popular is online searching. Visit websites, such as www.nancychandler.com, that have hundreds of real estate listings in your area. You can compare prices, house values, interior and exterior features, local school and business reviews.
Ask your real estate agent to perform a search with your particular needs, such as a number of bedrooms and bathrooms, a garage, desired neighborhoods and any other criteria you might have in mind. Find the best available options, and ask your agent to notify you of all the new listings. With today’s Norfolk real estate market getting hotter, the best deals are going away fast.
Norfolk is a great City, offering a large number of all varieties of homes and neighborhoods. You can buy a downtown condo, or a house on the beach, and still be in one of the neighborhoods of Norfolk.
There are many great deals in Norfolk real estate market, and a fast reaction often means getting the best deal. Hire a full time REALTOR to help you buy a perfect house in Norfolk. Call Nancy Chandler Real Estate Associates today!