Archive for the ‘Real Estate Advice and Tips’ Category

How appropriate for this Real Estate Market…..  Brian Buffini helps me to make lemonade out of lemons.  My clients have been the greatest this year and not only helped me with my success, but referred  others to me so they could take advantage of selling and buying homes when so many people are full of fear.  Winning is when confidence outshines fear and negativity.

Thank you for helping make this a great year. Yes, several hurdles with appraisal  issues, lending got tighter, inventory was less ( a good thing), and sometimes multiple offers made, but all in all, we all made it happen to our benefit.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same:
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

– Rudyard Kipling


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I thought this was worth passing to your since kitchens are usually the places which help to sell a home.

Kitchen Remodeling Trends

by Phoebe Chongchua

If you’re shopping for a new home, chances are, whether you cook or not, the kitchen is an area of great interest. The bathroom is also likely high on the list to inspect. That’s because we spend a lot of time in both of these rooms, socializing and taking care of the, ahem, important stuff.

These two areas of homes are so vital that there’s even an association to educate, certify industry professionals, and promote ideas for these rooms. The National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA), founded in 1963 as The American Institute of Kitchen Dealers, has nearly 40,000 members. Earlier this year it released its top trends for kitchens and bathrooms for 2010.

Finding what you like in a home is most important but if you’re considering a resale in the future, understanding what appeals to the masses can help. Here, then, is a look at some of the top trends from NKBA.

Concealed Kitchens. This doesn’t mean that you walk into a home and can’t find the kitchen. Instead, the kitchen area blends with other areas of the home. Formal dining spaces often aren’t used much. But when a home has a kitchen that opens to a great room, it allows far more flexibility for people’s lives. What may be concealed are items such as commonly used appliances. Ultimately, the harmonious blending of color, design, and functionality make kitchens aesthetically pleasing and useful. NKBA writes in a press release that, “Clean structural lines coupled with sleek color palettes enable the space to establish a distinctive identity, without overpowering the surrounding rooms.”

Thirst-Quenching Stations. NKBA writes that beverage stations, complete with under-counter refrigerators that hold beverages and wine, are a new element in many kitchens. Exemplifying our attachment to our morning ritual, many of these beverage stations include a coffee station (“simple single-pot coffeemakers to larger units capable of espresso, latte, and cappuccino”), states NKBA. The design typically includes space for stemware, beverage mugs and glasses, and condiments. This setup allows people to gather to quench their thirst while being out of the way of the chefs.

Rounding Out the Edges. Think soft geometry. Countertops, islands, archways, and even light fixtures, are being designed with soft, round edges. According to NKBA, “The introduction of rounded islands and countertops carves a smooth-flowing traffic pattern throughout the room, while an appropriately placed arch will bring an overall softening to the more angular fixed features that are typical in kitchens and baths.”

Varied Heights. No more monotony. Kitchen countertops, islands, and even walls are being designed for specific purposes and that means their heights are varied. The various heights create “a beautiful counterbalance.”

Asian influence. There has long been a fascination with Asian countries and now it seems that the impact of Japanese design is showing up in subtle ways such as “clean lines, open spaces, and neutral color palettes with bold splashes of color in select areas,” according to NKBA. The association says oftentimes there will be “one strong anchor piece of Japanese origin” that designs are built around.

Whether you’re shopping for a new home or thinking of remodeling your current home, remember that trends do change. However, those that tend to stick are the ones that combine pleasing looks with highly functional features.

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Increase Home Value with Mini- Renovations (edit/delete)

I found this great article which gives you some great ways to improve your home’s value by doing a few upgrades. Lowes has created videos featuring step-by-step instructions.


Check out their Creative Ideas


Doors & Windows





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Yes, that beauty you found looks like a great deal, but as your mother once told you, you don’t get anything for nothing,and with foreclosed properties, otherwise known as REO’s, getting it to close isn’t always easy. 

My clients happened to fall in love with this home. 

 It was in pretty good shape for a bank-owned home; the only big issues were a few missing appliances, missing knobs on cabinets, dirty carpet, a broken water heater control, and slightly elevated Radon.  THE Bank USUALLY WILL DO LARGE REPAIRS like Radon since most buyers will not make an offer on a property with RADON, and the agents and bank must disclose this to any other potential buyers.

As an Accredited Buyer’s Representative, my goal is to always work to get you, the buyer, the best terms and price; however, even after you think you’ve won a bank owned property contract, things can get messy.  We negotiated a $10,000 seller subsidy, which, by the way, the bank agreed to pay.  ( Make sure you read the small print in the bank addendum)  The addendum mentioned something about not paying prepaid items or escrows.  Since most bank addendum are unique to each bank, it is necessary to read each sentence and understand what is being addressed.

We did everything PNC, required.  Funds and documents had to be given to the Title Company no later than 12:00 pm 3 days before settlement. My purchasers’ lender worked diligently and had the docs emailed to OUR Title Company  who then emailed everything to Sam White’s Office by  11:23 am on Thursday.  Our closing was scheduled to be the following Tuesday at 2:00 pm.

By the way, it is extremely important to have your own Title Company do your closing, not the Bank Owned Title Company.  Send me an email and I will be gald to follow-up on any questions you might have regarding this.


Wednesday morning, I received word the bank was now reducing the seller subsidy to $8,000.  THIS WAS CLEARLY NOT WHAT WAS NEGOTIATED IN OUR CONTRACT.   We have the everything approved by the lender and if any changes are made to the HUD, we will need another approval.  This could take 1, 2 or more days, not something my buyer can afford to do.     

Talk about feeling like your held hostage to the bank!!  It as if each bank, the buyer’s lender and the REO Bank, PNC, are wanting to see who will back down first.  All we want to do is go to settlement on the home. 

So we pulled the trigger- WE REFUSED TO CLOSE WITH LESS THAN THE AMOUNT OF SUBSIDY WE HAD IN OUR CONTRACT!  Unfortunately, the listing agent reduced her commission $2,000 and made up the difference.

                              This must stop! Contracts must be dealt with fairly with all negotiated terms revealed.  Do the REO properties want to sell the property or not?  Who really is holding the cards?   I will be warning all my clients of these unfair practices and urging them to look elsewhere, especially with PNC owned properties. 

Tanya Spotts     

Director’s and President’s Club  2006-2008
This Spot’s For You!  ( http://ThisSpotsForYou.com )

 Long & Foster Realtors
508 E. Market St., Leesburg, VA 20176 

 Cell Phone: 703-618-1218

 Office Fax: 703-777-5627

Email: Tanya.Spotts@longandfoster.com

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Limestone Overlay Restrictions- Affects on Your Property and Home Values!

Limestone Overlay District,  What Does that means to Loudoun Homeowners?


•1.    Expensive geological studies before homeowners can construct barns, swimming pools, and additions on property.

•2.    Limitation on 14,000 acres north of Leesburg imposing restrictive regulations.

•3.    Financial burden on 1,200 to existing property owners

•4.    Restriction of growth and adverse affects of sale of existing and future homes


What is the Limestone Overlay District and who will be affected?  This Map shows you the area most affected by this proposed regulation.

How serious is this? Did you know that not only is Leesburg built on top of limestone, but so is the new high school, Tuscarora High School off of Route 15.

Dulles Area Association of Realtors is calling you to action.  Send this letter, if you live in Loudoun.

From DAAR website:

“On Wednesday, February 17th, the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors (LCBOS) will vote on adopting a Limestone Overlay District (LOD) intended to alter the way property owners use their land on over 14,000 areas north and south of Leesburg. The proposed regulations prohibit “land disturbing activities” and require property owners to conduct expensive geological studies before constructing barns, additions, swimming pools or large gardens. DAAR members and citizens are encouraged to participate in the call-to-action on this issue by writing the LCBOS and speaking at the public input session on Tuesday, February 16th, 7:00 pm at the Loudoun County Government Center. For more information and to participate in a the DAAR call-to-action on this issue, visit this site.


What’s at Stake? To address a perceived problem concerning development on limestone geology, the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors(LCBOS) is once again considering adoption of a Limestone Overlay District (LOD).  The real intent of the ordinance is to limit development on 14,000 areas north of Leesburg and impose overly restrictive regulations and financial burdens on 1,200 existing property owners. 
In addition to limiting growth in the area, the proposal restricts what homeowners can do with their property, imposes unnecessary financial burdens for basic home improvements and adversely affects the future sale of existing homes.
Specifically, the proposal prohibits land disturbing activities and requires property owners to conduct expensive geological studies before constructing barns, building additions and swimming pools. 
The proposal also requires a warning-style notice on every property’s deed, subdivision and tax record alerting prospective buyers that the house is subject to environmentally sensitive features due to the nature of underlying geology.”

Tanya Spotts     

Director’s and President’s Club  2006-2008
This Spot’s For You!  ( http://ThisSpotsForYou.com )

 Long & Foster Realtors
508 E. Market St., Leesburg, VA 20176 

 Cell Phone: 703-618-1218

 Office Tel: 703-777-2900

 Office Fax: 703-777-5627

Email: Tanya.Spotts@longandfoster.com

L&F Office Green Ambassador 

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There is so much bad press; one minute you hear prices are stabilizing, then just today the news-worthy bleep was that we have record numbers of foreclosures happening.  We don’t see the record numbers here!

I know what my buyers are experiencing in our area and what a number of us who attended the Freddie Mac Real REO seminar (HOMESTEPS) which Long & Foster offered to us at our headquarters in Chantilly. Across Northern Virginia we are all experiencing a low inventory in some price ranges, bidding wars on REOS and Short Sales, and prices becoming more balanced, sometimes even going up.

 I was certainly glad I gave my time to attend this informational seminar.  I know I will be investigating and asking sellers if they have a Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae loan. 

If you are finding it difficult to make your mortgage payments or feel you might be heading down a scary place toward short selling or foreclosure, go here first and then to your lender. The best information you can gather is from your lender.  Freddie Mac has a great site which has tips and information you need.


Does Freddie Mac Own Your Loan?

Your mortgage servicer will be able to tell you if Freddie Mac owns your loan. You may also use their secured look-up tool:


Have These Documents Ready! 

     Gather your paperwork before you do anything.  Have your questions ready.

 Have you had a recent hardship?  Have you lost your job or have your pay substantially reduced?  Has your interest readjusted.  Has your neighborhood seen home values fall which would prevent you from selling or refinancing?

Here are some questions  HomeSteps has provided and are worth asking your lender to answer:

 “Questions to ask:

  • How much time is the lender willing to give you to complete a work-out?
  • What are your obligations under the work-out package?
  • What are the specifics? Be sure to ask what is due and when.
  • Will a foreclosure sale of your property be put on hold while your lender looks at the possibility of a workout package?”

Another great video which I found on Freddie Mac’s website. .  There is even a calculation and toolkit page. 

What if you want to buy Freddie Mac owned property?

                                  If you are thinking about buying a short sale or REO(bank owned property), know what to expect!  You must sit down with your agent and discuss strategies, especially time-lines, and your specific goals.  It is not as easy as you think and many regular resale properties can get you the same deals, without all the stress and anxiety.  Prepare yourself.  I have tried to give my clients who are thinking about purchasing a Short Sale or REO the pros and cons.  I always warn them about what to expect, but most of the time, they really don’t get the picture until they dive right in and are bedoming so stressed from not hearing from the 3rd party or from having  lost several REO contracts in a bidding war..

There is always a price to pay.  Like my mom said, “you don’t get anything for nothing!!

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