The Best Breeds for First-Time Homeowners

You finally have your own home and the “no pets” policy is out the door! But what kind of dog is best?

Dogs come in all shapes and sizes, which one is right for you?
Dogs come in all shapes and sizes, which one is right for you?

If you’re a first-time homeowner, the odds are good you will soon be ready for the fun and responsibility of owning your first dog.

If you’re looking for a pet that suits you and your lifestyle, the pooch experts at Petbreeds.com suggest breeds that are low maintenance, shed minimally, are easily trainable, and get along well with kids and other dogs:

  • Labrador retriever. There’s a reason these dogs are among the most popular breeds in the country. Known to be loyal, intelligent, obedient, and easy to train, they are deservedly a top choice, especially if you have, or plan to have children. Their energy make them an excellent choice for larger homes with big yards.
  • German short-haired pointer. These favorites are also low maintenance dogs that are easy to train. However, they’re also very active and require a lot of exercise to stay healthy, so they’re a good choice for active owners. Intelligent and playful companions who like their exercise and don’t require a lot of grooming.
  • Brittany spaniel. These loyal, intelligent pups are popular favorites among first-time pet owners because they’re loving, obedient, and great around children.
  • Vizla. Originally a Hungarian sporting dog, Vizslas are great exercise companions who are affectionate, friendly, and easy to train—and they don’t shed much. They are loyal, low-maintenance, easy-to-train breed, but they tend to be shy around children and other dogs.
  • Boston terrier. If you’re a couch potato, a Boston terrier may suit you well. These pups are friendly and loyal. They don’t require a lot of exercise, and they won’t shed much on your couch.
  • Australian cattle dog. If you’re into cuddling, this breed will greet you with open arms at the end of a long day. They’re a wonderful first dog, easy to train, although they do enjoy regular exercise and require regular grooming.
  • German Pinscher. These dogs are active but very obedient, and are especially adorable as puppies. They rarely shed and training them is usually easy and fun.
  • Papillion. These fluffy, adorable little dogs are super smart and are one of the most loving and sociable breeds. Their ability to learn makes them a favorite in for service dog trainers. Their cheerful demeanor will turn first-time pet owners into dog owners for life.

Are you interested in learning more about real estate? Feel free to contact me directly.

Top Home Decor Trends for 2021

With most people spending more time at home than ever, it is not surprising that home design trends in 2021 will focus on comfort and functionality. From clean lines to homey touches that remind you of Grandma’s house,  some of these popular styles may surprise you.

Grandmillenial Style 
Inspired by the comforts of Grandma’s home (cue the velvet sofa, needlepoint and floral curtains), millennials are decorating with a nostalgic sense of style. Expect to see vintage touches and old-school patterns mixed with bold, modern colors.

Japandi Design 
In a tumultuous year, the trend moves to a soothing neutral color palette. Enter Japandi style: a combination of Japanese design and Scandinavian minimalism that’s all about sleek lines and neutral color palettes. Check it out on Pinterest, which has seen the search for Japandi increase 100 percent in the past year. 

Earth Tones 
They’re back, replacing recent trends toward gray and bright white. Warm taupes, beiges, sands—basically any earth tone is surging in popularity, both for walls and furnishings.

Oversized Tiles 
Out with teeny-tiny bathroom tiles with impossible-to-clean grout lines, and in with larger scale tiles that provide less visual clutter while helping to visually expand a small space.

Clever Room Dividers 
Because homes are now serving multiple functions—home office, gym, schools and creative space—the need for privacy and separate zones has increased, and dividers are back. Etsy reports a 134-percent increase in searches for room dividers, while Pinterest saw the search for ‘cloffice’ ideas (as in closet converted into an office) more than double.

Outdoor Living 
Taken from the Danish concept of “friluftsliv,” or “free air life,” the age of coronavirus ushers in more options for making small outdoor gatherings comfortable. Fire pits, weatherproof upholstery, comfy patio furniture and even drink ledges for balcony railings are being sought after for backyards, patios and balconies.

Neon Lights 
Brighten up 2021 with fluorescent light fixtures—neon lighting is back with a modern look. Customized neon word art and neon-hued LED lights are trending. On Pinterest, searches for “neon room” and “LED light signs” have already more than tripled.

10 Easy Ways to Refresh a Tired Living Space

Has being cooped up made your home just feel tired? Try a few of these tips to refresh your space…

A new rug or even cleaning an old one can make a big difference in an otherwise stale space.

If you’re like many Americans who’ve been working from home for many months, you may be tired of the living space you once enjoyed and find it is now totally uninspiring. Decorators suggest 10 simple refresher solutions to perk up your living and work space.

  • Repaint one wall. Add a new splash of color by repainting one wall of your kitchen, bedroom or living room. Choose a color you find relaxing or pleasing and add new interest to your day.
  • Bring in a few plants. A little greenery can do wonders to brighten up a space and lift your spirits as well. Try an easy-care philodendron, a low-light friendly Devil’s Ivy or Chinese evergreen, or mini-sago palm or weeping fig.
  • Hang a mirror. It will get a little more light bouncing around, which can make a room look more spacious.
  • Try some new wall art. Add interest and create something fun to look at while you work by hanging one larger piece surrounded in an interesting way by several smaller pieces. You can even use framed photos or a variety of smaller watercolors to make a pleasing gallery wall. 
  • Change up the lighting. Overhead light can be pretty boring. Bring in a table or floor lamp or two to get light coming from different heights and angles around the room.  
  • Bring in a rug. In addition to adding warmth and texture to the floor, an area rug helps ground a room and the furniture in it. Even a small rug in the kitchen or in your entryway can make a big difference. 
  • Do some rearranging. Speaking of furniture, you can completely change the look of a room just by moving it around. 
  • Toss some pillows around. Make a tired room more inviting by tossing some comfy, bright-colored pillows on the sofa,  a chair or a bed.
  • Change out the knick-knacks. Accessorize a bookcase, shelving or a mantelpiece with some new decorative pieces, such as a couple of framed pictures, a small vase or sculpture, a pretty clock or whatever pleases you. 
  • Try adding scent. If you find the scent of pine or hyacinths relaxing, bring in some scented candles. Bringing scent into a room can liven it without breaking the bank.

Have questions about real estate? Please reach out!

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Easy Kitchen Hacks to Help Save on Groceries

Tired of wasting on groceries? Try some of these simple hacks…

Store leftovers in clear, airtight containers

There is little that home cooks can do about rising prices at the local market, but there are plenty of ways to make your grocery fund go further. Check out a few of these simple kitchen hacks to save pennies that add up to dollars.

Grate your own cheese. You pay big time for the convenience of pre-grated cheese. Buy an economical chunk of cheddar, or whatever type of cheese you like, and grate it yourself. Freeze what you don’t need right away so you’ll always have some on hand.

Chop and freeze herbs. Most recipes call for just a tablespoon or two of fresh herbs, but they come in bunches and unused portions often go to waste. Chop what you don’t use and pack it in ice cube trays with a little water. Throw the cubes into your soups or stews, or mix them with butter in your veggies.

Stop tossing brick-hard brown sugar. Store it with a marshmallow to keep it from hardening. If it’s too late for that, put the box or jar of hardened sugar into the microwave for 20 seconds to soften.

Roll your lemons. Don’t use two when one will do. You’ll get a lot more juice out of a lemon when you roll it on the counter before you cut it. 

Keep homemade cookies fresh. Lay a slice of fresh bread over them in your storage container. If they’re still around after a few days, change the bread to keep them fresh a little longer.

Skip the cooking spray. It’s more expensive and less nutritious than the tablespoon of olive oil, butter or coconut oil you need in your skillet.

Make leftovers more appealing. People turn up their noses at microwaved leftovers because they often wind up dry and tasteless. You can save on lunch by adding a bit of moisture to make them taste like they’re fresh-cooked. Wrap bread in a damp paper towel before nuking. Put a glass of water in the microwave when heating pastas, meats or stews.  

HOW AN APPRAISAL COULD AFFECT YOUR MORTGAGE REFINANCE RATE AND COSTS

Refinancing your mortgage may help you lower your interest rate and monthly payments, or cash out some of your home equity. Your lender may require an appraisal as part of the refinancing process. The result can affect the new interest rate you will qualify for, along with other costs.

What is an Appraisal?

An appraisal is an inspection conducted by an independent professional to assess the current market value of a house based on its size, amenities and condition. An appraiser compares the home in question to similar properties in the same area that have been sold recently.

Each lender decides whether to require an appraisal to refinance. Some government mortgage programs offer streamlined programs without an appraisal. If your lender requires an appraisal, you will have to pay for it. The fee is typically several hundred dollars.cc

How Can Your Home’s Appraised Value Affect Your Refinancing Options?

The current market value of your home can affect your loan-to-value ratio, which is a percentage calculated by dividing your mortgage balance by your home’s appraised value. A lender will consider the LTV ratio, in addition to your credit score and debt-to-income ratio, to set your interest rate.

If your home’s value has increased since you bought it, you may qualify for a lower interest rate. If your home’s value has fallen, however, you may not be able to qualify for a competitive interest rate because lenders consider borrowers with low amounts of equity riskier than borrowers with more equity. If the appraised value of your house is less than your mortgage balance, you may not be able to refinance the loan at all.

How Can the Appraisal Affect Private Mortgage Insurance?

If the LTV ratio is 80 percent or higher, you may need to pay for private mortgage insurance, which can cost hundreds of dollars per month. If you have been paying for PMI, your home’s value has increased since you bought it and you have more than 20 percent equity, you may be able to eliminate PMI and save money each month.

If you have less than 20 percent equity and don’t want to pay for PMI, you might be able to avoid it by choosing a cash-in refinance. You could pay down your mortgage balance to reduce your loan-to-value ratio, eliminate PMI and get a lower interest rate.

How to Prepare for an Appraisal

Given the importance of your home’s appraised value, you want to present your house in a positive light. You should make sure your home is clean and free of clutter so the appraiser can easily see all the important features. You don’t need to make major improvements before an appraisal, but you might want to apply a fresh coat of paint and make some inexpensive repairs.

Source: RIS Media

Helpful Tips for Moving with Pets

People move for all sorts of reasons, and while some moves can boast exciting opportunities, even a move under the best circumstances can be unbearably stressful. Transitioning to a new home can be hard on the furry members of your household, as well. Thankfully, there are measures you can put in place to make your next move as smooth as possible for your pets.

Board Your Pet on Moving Day

Ideally, you will not keep your pet around on moving day. The chaos can be stressful for your pet and you likely won’t give your pet the attention it will want or need. Movers can also let out your pet unintentionally. Avoid this by boarding your pet or asking a trusted friend or family member to pet sit.

Keep an Essentials Box

Just as you should keep essentials with you during a move so that you have vital items, if your moving truck is lost or delayed, it can be helpful to create the same essentials box for your pet. Include any prescriptions, favorite toys, familiar items and their bed.

Make it Familiar

You may not be able to explain to Fido why you left your old house, but you can make their new home feel familiar right away. Set up a small area with your pet’s toys, food and bed. Keep daily rituals as similar as possible. Particularly for outdoor cats, allow them to get acclimated to a bedroom or smaller space before letting them rule the roost.

Fill Out the Paperwork

Moving comes with a lot of paperwork, but don’t forget to add your pet’s files to the mix. Update their tags or microchip information to the new address and phone number and request that your previous vet transfer records to a local clinic.

Source: RIS Media

Local Real Estate Update

Historically, the summer time has been a good time to be a home buyer but not such a great time to be a home seller.  We have had many people ask if our opinion has changed in the season of COVID-19 and record low interest rates in place to stimulate the real estate market.  The answer is yes and no.  Like everything else in real estate, it is location dependent.

Today we are taking a look at two of our favorite zip codes:  22314 which covers Old Town Alexandria and 22301 which includes Rosemont, DelRay, and the surrounding area.

In DelRay we are seeing some good news and some not so good news.  The average sales price is up 29% from last year but the average days on market is also up by 120%.

In nearby Old Town we see not only a 54% increase in the average days on the market year over year, but a 14% decrease in the average sales price as well.  It is interesting to note that in 22314 we also saw a 113 increase in new listings compared to June of last year.

Who knows what the future holds but compared to previous years, I would say that at least in Alexandria, when the temperatures go up, the number of home buyers tend to go down.

 

 

Mortgage Market Update, July 2020

This month’s market Primary Mortgage Market Survey® from Freddie Mac showed that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.03 percent, the lowest rate in the survey’s history dating back to 1971.

“The summer is heating up as record low mortgage rates continue to spur homebuyer demand,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist. “However, it remains to be seen whether the demand will continue if COVID cases rise to the point that it hinders economic growth.” In addition:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.03 percent with an average 0.8 point for the week ending July 9, 2020, down from 3.07 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.75 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.51 percent with an average 0.8 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.56 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.22 percent.
  • 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 3.02 percent with an average 0.3 point, up slightly from last week when it averaged 3.00 percent. A year ago at this time, the 5-year ARM averaged 3.46 percent.

Freddie Mac. ©2020. All rights reserved.

An Outdoor Oasis in the Heart of Delray

Enjoy Southern Living at its Finest at 507 E. Alexandria Street 

As previously reported, one of Delray’s finest homes is on the market. Featuring a total of 5 bedrooms, three baths, and over 2800 square feet of living space in in the main house, this home is sure to delight!

Screened porch overlooking backyard

One of the most delightful aspects of this home is the incredible outdoor living spaces.  

The front of the home features a lovely, neighborly front porch perfect for rocking chairs and greeting Trick or Treaters on Halloween. 

The rear of the house is will delight you with every Southerner’s dream porch: completely screened with a blue two-story ceiling, ceiling fan, and custom curtains.  It is a simply a lovely place to relax and enjoy your morning beverage, have an glass of iced tea, or to host a springtime dinner party.

Large Trex Deck, perfect for grilling and chilling

Accessible from the Pella French doors in the great room or off of the screened porch, you will find the  outdoor entertainer’s favorite part of the house!  A large Trex deck overlooking the backyard! With the Onkyo receiver system providing music from the house to the deck, it is perfect for happy hours and cooking out! 

If you are just looking for a place to retreat, you will find it a terrific place to just grab a book and enjoy your private space.

Backyard oasis with a fountain and walking paths

The deck overlooks the wonderfully landscaped backyard.  The yard is a garden oasis in the city with irrigation, abundant landscaping, a small patio, walking paths, and a fountain. 

Leaving no detail untouched, the shed in the backyard is not only painted to match the main house, but it is currently set up as a workshop and even has electricity.

Storage shed, workshop, play house, endless options! 

Other exterior perks include yard lighting, Leafguard gutters, recently painted Hardiplank siding, and trim for worry free upkeep. 

Big bonus:  The finished basement is currently a 1-bedroom apartment with its own entry, living/dining/kitchenette combo room, separate and private bedroom with ensuite bath and its very own laundry room with washer and dryer.

Open Saturday and Sunday

Come join us this weekend for the first open house of this Delray gem or take a 3D Virtual Tour. A delight for commuters, it is just a few blocks to the Braddock Metro and two blocks from the Avenue where you can enjoy restaurants and shopping. This is the home you have been waiting to hit the market!  It has been updated and expanded and is ready for a new owner to call it home!  

Priced to sell at $1,295,000. For more information or to arrange a tour, Contact me!

Thinking About Downsizing After You Retire?

Is This Your Situation?

No matter if it is you or your parents or grandparents, older homeowners have different needs than the average homeowner. Check out this article from our news letter for helpful guidance.

Family

Having relatives close by grows in importance for many. If family members have moved away from the family home, a relocation could be in order. Or, for those with family nearby, this could simply entail downsizing or rightsizing to a smaller place across town.downsizing?

Roots

Many older homeowners choose to stay put because they want to maintain their existing friendships and community connections, meaning home needs may change but the zip code may not.

Size

Some homeowners in larger homes find the time and money necessary for its maintenance to be too much and simply look for a smaller home or a condo/townhouse that doesn’t require the same level of upkeep—or the same square footage.

Finances 

Many homeowners stay in the same city or state in which they raised their family despite the fact that a change in climate might be inviting. Many retirees examine their financial situation and the tax implications of moving to another state and realize it may not be a wise move monetarily.

Emotions

Before any move away from family—and a family home—can succeed, both the owners of the home and their entire family must be able to make an emotional break from the home. This will make the transition for the owners easier and the transaction simpler when all parties realize that the move is a business matter and not about a memory-filled structure that is being “lost.”

Give me a text or email today if you’d like more information on the process of downsizing to a smaller home. The simplicity that a small house can offer is well worth checking out your options.