How To Make Your Home Look More Luxurious On A Budget

Have you been looking through home decor magazines and gazing with wonder at the gorgeous homes inside? Do you want to add a touch of elegance and luxury to your home, but you are on a tight budget?

How To Make Your Home Look More Luxurious On A BudgetHave you been looking through home décor magazines and gazing with wonder at the gorgeous homes inside? Do you want to add a touch of elegance and luxury to your home, but you are on a tight budget?

No need to worry, there are many ways that you can make your home look like a million bucks, without actually having to spend a fortune.

Luxury Home Decor Ideas

Here are a few great ideas that don’t have to cost a lot, they just require a little bit of planning and some elbow grease and they will take your home from ordinary to luxury.

  • Mount your curtains at ceiling level rather than the top of the windows. This draws the eye upwards and gives the illusion of high ceilings.
  • Paint your interior doors a sleek and shiny shade of black. This looks very modern and sophisticated and is much cheaper than buying expensive doors.
  • If your home doesn’t have crown moulding, paint a white band around the ceiling to fake the look.
  • The little details can make a big difference when it comes to making a home look elegant and luxurious. Add in finishing touches such as a beautiful glass vase, a stack of coffee table books, fresh flowers or a piece of artwork.
  • Remember, less is more and a cluttered house will not create the impression of luxury. Eliminate as much clutter as possible, making your home seem more spacious and sophisticated.
  • Lighting can also have a big impact on how luxurious your home appears. Invest in a few beautiful and stylish lamps, or a chandelier, and you will transform the entire space.
  • When choosing fabrics for accessories and upholstery, go for fabrics that have a luxurious texture such as velvet, satin or fur. They can be faux to make them cheaper, but they will still add to the luxurious look.
  • You can take simple and cheap accessories such as a candle holder or a vase from the dollar store and then paint them with gold paint. They will have a luxurious look, for much less than the real thing!

These are just a few ideas that you can incorporate into your home décor of your home in order to make it look and feel more luxurious. For more helpful information check out my Pinterest boards and, contact your trusted real estate professionals at The DC Team, Keller Williams Fairfax Gateway.

Where To Squeeze A Home Office In Your Home

If you have started working from home, whether you are a freelancer or running a business, having a home office in your home is very important.

Where To Squeeze In A Home Office In Your HomeIf you have started working from home, whether you are a freelancer or running a business, having a home office in your home is very important.

It is a place where you can separate your home life and work, so that you can get “in the zone” and concentrate on the important work tasks that you need to complete. But where should you place your home office?

If you have a spare bedroom in your home, the answer is easy – but what if you don’t have this extra space? Is it possible to squeeze a home office into an already full home? Of course it is, you just have to think outside of the box. Here are some ideas:

Convert Your Attic

If you have an attic in your home, why not use that space for a quiet and private home office? It will be separate from your home and free from any distractions. If your attic is unfinished, converting it into living space can be a good investment that will improve the value of your home.

Work At Your Breakfast Nook

Perhaps your kitchen has a breakfast nook, but your family always ends up eating at the dining table and doesn’t really use it much? If this is the case, you could create a small and compact office space where you can work – while being close to the coffee maker in the kitchen!

Find An Unused Corner

Perhaps there is a corner of your bedroom or living room that you aren’t really using for much? Why not turn it into a home office? All you need is a small desk and a chair to create a workspace. If you want to separate it from the rest of the room, you can use stylish room dividers.

Go Underground

Have you ever thought of using your basement for your home office? Many homes in Northern Virginia have basements. There is probably a corner down there that you could use for office space. To combat the lack of natural light, you can use a SAD lamp that offers the same wavelengths as sunlight.

These are just a few ideas of where you could place your home office, even if all of the rooms in your home are in use. As long as you can find a quiet corner somewhere, you can create your ultimate working space.

For more tips and information, contact your trusted real estate professionals at The DC Team, Keller Williams Gateway today.

How To Maintain Your Gutters

An entire gutter system around the home might seem expensive to many homeowners.

How To Maintain Your GuttersAn entire gutter system around the home might seem expensive to many homeowners.

However, not having one could mean water pooling around your home creating a moat and costing you thousands of dollars in damage to your foundation. If you live in Fairfax, Virginia last year alone they had 41.54 inches of average annual rainfall. So it’s a good idea to install gutters and take care of them

Below are tips for gutter maintenance to help keep water away from your home.

Unclog The Gutters

Annual gutter maintenance includes cleaning them of debris, such as leaves, sticks or animal nests. Remove downspout cages and clean them.

Determine if they’re still in good shape or need to be replaced.

If a downspout is clogged, try to use a plumbing snake to dislodge the debris. Then use a hose to force water down the spout and hopefully remove the rest of the clog.

Check The Pitch

Gutters should be set on an incline of 1/4 inch for every 10 feet. For example, if your gutter is 20 feet long, then it should have a drop of 1/2 inch. If your gutter doesn’t have enough of an incline, then you might have water overflow because it can’t drain quick enough.

Most gutters also come to a point in the middle so the water runs both ways to downspouts on each end.

Seal Leaky Gutters

Right after a rainstorm, inspect your gutters for leaks. Look for water-saturated areas along your home underneath the gutter.

Constant leaks can cause water damage to vinyl, brick or stone siding. Use a sealant to repair small leaks or purchase a gutter maintenance patch kit for larger holes.

Replace Damaged Areas

If part of your gutter falls off or is damaged beyond repair, then you’ll need to replace it. You’ll need two ladders, a helper, new gutter cut to fit, joint connectors and sealant.

Remove old joint connectors and clean the area. Fit the new joint connectors with sealant and then install the new piece of gutter.

Install A New Downspout

You’ll need roughly the same tools for replacing the gutter, except you’ll also require downspout sections and self-tapping gutter screws.

Make sure the drop outlet at the end of the gutter fits securely into the downspout to prevent leaking.

Then fasten the joint with gutter screws and add sections as needed.

Finish with an elbowed section that extends five feet into the yard.

For more information on how to clean your gutter check Pinterest. There I have a few pictures along with tips and tricks for cleaning out and maintaining your gutters.

What To Consider When Buying A Fixer-Upper

In your imagination it seems like a great idea – you purchase an older run-down property and you have the chance to fix it up and turn it into the home of your dreams.

What To Consider When Buying A Fixer-UpperIn your imagination it seems like a great idea – you purchase an older run-down property and you have the chance to fix it up and turn it into the home of your dreams.

To Renovate, Or Not To Renovate

However, the renovation project that is simply a quick montage in your imagination will actually take several months or years and thousands of dollars in real life.

The concept of renovating a “fixer-upper” property is exciting, but the reality is a lot of work and investment. How can you make sure that you are making the right choice for you?

One of the main advantages of buying a fixer-upper property is that you will usually be able to get the property for a much cheaper price. But is it worth it for the amount of time and money you will need to invest in the property?

Here Are Some Questions You Should Be Asking Yourself When Making Your Decision:

  • Do you (or your friends and family members) have the skills to be able to perform most of the renovations yourself? If you do the labour yourself, you will be able to save thousands of dollars that you would have spent hiring contractors, which will make the renovation a much more profitable project.
  • Are you comfortable with the idea of living in a construction zone, perhaps for several months or more? There will be dust and noise everywhere and you might have to cope without a kitchen or a shower for a while.
  • Make sure that you have a thorough inspection of the home performed so that you can see whether the home has a sturdy foundation, good wiring and plumbing, etc. If your inspection reveals any structural issues or water damage, you might be in for more than you bargained for. You need to start with a house that has “good bones”.
  • If the home has serious structural, plumbing or wiring problems you should stay away – these repairs are very expensive but “invisible”, so you are unlikely to recoup your costs when you sell the home.
  • Add up the estimated costs for renovating the property along with the cost of the home – does it still work out to be a better deal or would you be better off buying a new property.
  • What is your strategy for financing the renovations? If your only option is putting it on the credit card, you might want to think twice because this is a very high interest option.

Buying a fixer-upper property can be a great investment and can give you the opportunity to transform a run-down old house into the property of your dreams. However, make sure you that you consider the choice carefully before making your decision.

For more information about about buying or selling a fixer-upper or any questions regarding real estate, contact your trusted real estate professionals at the DC Team, Keller Williams Fairfax Gateway.

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – February 24, 2014

Last week’s economic data supported recent reports indicating that housing markets are slowing, The National Association of Home builders/Wells Fargo Home Builders Index (HBI) dropped by 10 points to a reading of 46 for February.

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week February 24, 2014Last week’s economic data supported recent reports indicating that housing markets are slowing, The National Association of Home builders/Wells Fargo Home Builders Index (HBI) dropped by 10 points to a reading of 46 for February.

Home builder confidence dropped to its lowest reading in nine months,  and fell below the benchmark of 50, which indicates that more builders are pessimistic about current market conditions than not.

Severe weather was blamed for the lower builder confidence reading, which fell below the expected reading of 56.

Regional readings of builder confidence were also lower:

  • Northeast: Builder confidence fell from 41 to 33 points. This suggests that weather is a major concern as this area has experienced a series of nasty winter storms.  Fairfax County has had tons of snow this winter and that has greatly affected builders ability to work.
  • South: The HBI reading fell from 50 in January to 46 in February and was the smallest decline among the four regions. Fewer index points lost in the South appears to support builder’s concerns about bad weather in other regions.
  • Midwest: Builder confidence dropped from 59 points to a reading of 50.
  • West: Builder confidence fell by 14 points to February’s reading of 57. Desirable areas in the West had been leading the nation in home price appreciation. February’s reading may signal an easing of buyer enthusiasm as rapidly rising home prices have reduced affordable options for first-time and moderate income buyers.

Builders also cited concerns over labor and supplies as reasons for lower confidence readings.

Housing Starts Lower, Mortgage Rates Higher

On Wednesday, Housing Starts for January were released. Although analysts predicted a figure of 945,000 housing starts as compared to an upwardly adjusted 1.05 million housing starts in December, only 880,000 housing starts were reported for January.

The Department of Commerce also cited extreme winter weather as a cause for the drop in housing starts, which reached their fastest pace since 2008 in November. There is some good news. Economists said that housing starts delayed during winter could begin during spring.

According to Freddie Mac’s weekly survey, average mortgage rates rose across the board. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate loan rose by 5 basis points to 4.33 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose by two basis points to 3.35 percent.

The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage moved up by three basis points to an average rate of 3.08 percent. Discount points for all three products were unchanged with readings of 0.70 for 30-year and 15-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.50 percent discount points for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that weekly jobless claims came in at 336,000 against expectations of 335,000 new jobless claims. The prior week’s reading was for 339,000 new jobless claims. Analysts said that job growth may be slowing after last year’s growth, but also noted that winter weather had slowed hiring in labor sectors such as construction and manufacturing.

Existing home sales fell by 5.10 percent in January according to the National Association of REALTORS®, which reported a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of home sales at 4.62 million sales against expectations of 4.65 million and December’s reading of 4.87 million sales of pre-owned homes. The national average home price rose to $188,900, which was 10.70 percent higher year-over-year.

January’s inventory of available existing homes was 1.9 million homes; this represented a 4.90 month supply of existing homes for sale. Real estate pros prefer to see at least a six month inventory of available homes for sale.

What’s Ahead

Next week brings a series of economic reports and opportunities for good news. The Case Shiller Home Price Indices, FHFA Home Price Index will be released. Consumer Confidence and the University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment report along with New and Pending Home Sales reports round out next week’s scheduled news.

The Three R's Of Fixing Historic Homes For Sale

If you enjoy history and fixing things, then it may be hard to drive by historic homes for sale without feeling the urge to buy one and fix it up. Before you do, you need learn the three R’s of fixing up historic homes and the differences between them.

The Three R’s Of Fixing Historic Homes For SaleIf you enjoy history and fixing things, then it may be hard to drive by historic homes for sale in Virginia without feeling the urge to buy one and fix it up.

Before you do, you need learn the three R’s of fixing up historic homes and the differences between them.

The three R’s of fixing up historic homes are restoration, renovation and repair.  Some of the differences are minor, but they can make all the difference in cost, time and problems.

Restoration

“Restoration” literally means returning something to its original state.

Restoring historic homes for sale involve city and state programs. It’s essential that you check to see if the home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) or if it’s located in a historic district. Fairfax County, Virginia has over six historic districts and countless historic buildings.

If either of these is the case, there is a specific set of rules that you must follow while renovating.

Cost: Restoration is not a cheap endeavor. For a home to keep its historic value, the materials used need to match the original materials, including furnishings. These can be very expensive due to their antique value.

Renovation

Renovating is less complicated than restoring, at least when talking about what you can and can’t do. However, with a renovation, you’re generally turning the home into a more modern living place, which lowers its historic value. The Virginia Department of Historic Resources has guidelines listed about how to maintain the integrity of the home without losing the historic feel, such as making it energy efficient. Make sure your home isn’t listed in the NRHP or located in a historic district. If it is make sure you check your local historic home guidelines before making any changes.

Cost: Depending on the amount of renovations, i.e., modernizing, gutting or remodeling, this can also be expensive. However, it’s much easier to find deals on modern appliances than it is on antiques.

Repair

Repairs differ because they generally aren’t as in depth as the others. For restoration repairs, it’s important to use materials that fit the house, such as plaster walls and wooden floors. For renovation, original materials aren’t as important.

Cost: Again, the cost depends on the number of repairs, as well as, whether you’re keeping the historic value.

Whether restoring, renovating or repairing historic homes for sale, the key is cost. Don’t get so caught up in the possible that you miss the probable. Thinking of buying or selling an historic home? I can help! Call your trusted real estate professionals at the DC Team today.

How To Get The Full Asking Price When Selling Your Home

Selling your home is a complex process and there are a lot of factors that you will need to consider. Your goal will be to sell your home in a timely manner, while getting the highest price you can.

How To Get The Full Asking Price When Selling Your HomeSelling your home is a complex process and there are a lot of factors that you will need to consider. Your goal will be to sell your home in a timely manner, while getting the highest price you can.

However, many properties sell at a discount because the buyer is able to negotiate a lower price on the property.

Although it is impossible to guarantee that you will receive your full asking price when you sell your home, there are things that you can do to increase the likelihood of this happening. You will need to have a strategy that attracts highly motivated buyers and improves competition.

Here Are Some Tips To Keep In Mind That Will Help You To Get The Full Asking Price When You Are Selling Your Home:

  • First of all, make sure that you have a reasonable asking price to start with. Research your local real estate market and find out what other buyers paid for homes comparable to yours.
  • Hire a home inspector to perform a full inspection of your home, so that you can fix any problems. If you can show the buyer the repair receipts and inspection report, you will be in a better position to ask for full price.
  • First impressions are very important and can improve a buyer’s perception of your home’s value. Make sure that your property has plenty of curb appeal and feels welcoming.
  • De-clutter and clean your home – this makes it appear more spacious and luxurious and will make a buyer willing to pay more.
  • Ask your DC Team, real estate agent to create a flyer that compares your home’s price to other similar listings in the area – showing that your home is a great deal. This will convince buyers that your asking price is already discounted.
  • Schedule your property tours as close together as possible. This can mean that you get multiple offers at around the same time, which will encourage the buyer who is eager to seal the deal to pay full price.
  • If you have any rooms with bright colours that might not appeal to the average buyer, give them a quick makeover with neutral tones. These are safe colours that will increase the odds that your home will sell.
  • If you have the budget to renovate one of the rooms in your home, it should be the kitchen or the bathroom. Studies have shown that renovations and upgrades in those two rooms have the most impact on the potential selling price of the home.

With these tips, you should be more likely to achieve the full asking price when you are selling your home. For more tips, contact your trusted real estate professionals at the DC Team.

Smart Ways To Create Equity Within Your Home

Home equity is the difference between what your home can sell for and what you owe on it. Generally, the longer you own your home, the more equity you build.

Smart Ways To Use The Equity In Your HomeHome equity is the difference between what your home can sell for and what you owe on it. Generally, the longer you own your home, the more equity you build.

This is money you can use before you sell your home through a home equity loan. Just keep in mind that a home equity loan is secured with your home. If you can’t make the payments, you can lose your home.

Use Your Home Equity In Smart Ways:

  1. Remodel Your Home – If you’ve wanted to add on a family room or modernize your kitchen, consider using your home’s equity to fund the project. Home improvements usually increase your home’s marketability and value.
  2. Make Needed Major Repairs – Your home’s equity can be a funding source for major repairs like plumbing problems and re-roofs. Once again, this is an improvement for your home that will help keep its value up.
  3. Buy Another Property – Real estate is still a safe investment. You can use your home equity to buy a second property when home values are down. When the market recovers, you can sell the investment property for a profit. This also works if you have to move out of town and are still trying to sell your home. If you can afford the payments, use your home’s equity to purchase your new home until the current one sells.
  4. Pay For Unexpected Medical Expenses Or Job Loss – You never know when a medical emergency or job loss will leave you in debt. A home equity loan can give you the money you need to get through this difficult time.

It’s easy to build equity in your home when you find the right deal. Let the DC Team help you find your perfect home and negotiate a great price and terms for you. Contact your real estate professional today at Keller Williams Fairfax Gateway.

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – February 18, 2014

Last week’s economic news was dominated by the first address by the new Fed chairperson, Janet Yellen.

Tuesday’s news included the Jobs Openings report for December 2013, which matched November’s reading of 4.0 million jobs available.

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - February 18, 2014Last week’s economic news was dominated by the first address by the new Fed chairperson, Janet Yellen.

Tuesday’s news included the Jobs Openings report for December 2013, which matched November’s reading of 4.0 million jobs available.

This information was taken from a gauge of competition for available jobs; in December, competition for job openings fell to its lowest level in five years.

Fed Chair Janet Yellens First Address to House

Janet Yellen addressed the House Financial Services Committee for the first time on Tuesday as Chair of the Federal Reserve.

Ms. Yellen indicated that she expected “a great deal of continuity” in terms of Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) monetary policy direction, and noted that markets should expect the FOMC to continue its support of low interest rates.

Chairman Yellen emphasized that the FOMC’s current tapering of its quantitative easing program was expected to continue, but is not on a pre-determined course.

If economic conditions change, the Fed’s monetary policy would be adjusted according to such developments.

Mortgage Rates Mixed According To Freddie Mac

According to Freddie Mac’s weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey (PMMS), the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose to 4.28 percent from the prior week’s 4.23 percent.

The average rate for 15-year fixed rate mortgage mortgages was unchanged at 3.33 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped from 3.08 percent to 3.05 percent.

Discount points for each category were unchanged at 0.70 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.50 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

In other news, Weekly Jobless Claims were higher last week at 339,000 against a forecast of 330,000 new jobless claims and the prior week’s reading of 331,000 new jobless claims.

Analysts cited bad weather and the possibility of slower economic growth as factors, but said that it was too soon to tell if economic growth is slowing down.

The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index beat expectations with a reading of 81.2 against expectations for a reading of 80.0. February’s reading was unchanged from January.

Whats Coming Up

This week’s economic news includes the NAHB Home Builder’s Housing Market Index on Tuesday. Wednesday’s events include Housing Starts and the minutes from January’s FOMC meeting.

In addition to Freddie Mac’s PMMS, Thursday’s scheduled reports include Weekly Jobless Claims, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and Core CPI. Leading Economic Indicators (LEI) for January will also be released.

The National Association of REALTORS® will release data for existing home sales in January on Friday.

 

How To Make Your Old Furniture Look Like New

Out with the old, in with the new. The beginning of 2014 can have you wanting to reinvent yourself — and your home. It’s time to start fresh.

How To Make Your Old Furniture Look Like New Out with the old, in with the new. The beginning of 2014 can have you wanting to reinvent yourself — and your home. It’s time to start fresh.

Paint the walls, change the curtains and get new furniture. It’s important to have your home be a reflection of you; however, all that remodeling can get expensive.

Take a cue from Auld Lang Syne by buying a few new pieces, but keeping some of your older furniture.

If they have sturdy bones, then you can update their look by reupholstering them to fit your new home vibe. Below are DIY steps to help you modernize your furniture and save money in the process!

Take Photographs

It’s important to take photographs of your piece of furniture before and throughout the reupholstering process. You’ll want a visual reference in case you have one too many pieces or can’t seem to figure out what order the cushions were attached.

Plus, you’ll have a before and after picture as proof of your handiness and to inspire more DIY projects.

Disassemble The Upholstered Sections

Carefully take apart your piece of furniture. You only need to disassemble the upholstered sections, so don’t strip down an entire dining chair when only the cushion needs to be redone. If there are a lot of pieces then you might want to do some labeling with Post-It notes or painters’ tape.

Sew And Staple

Remove the old fabric and examine how it’s put together. You might have to sew corner seams for cushions. You’ll probably need to rent or borrow a sewing machine, if you don’t have one.

Or, for many pieces, you’ll just need a heavy-duty staple gun to pull the fabric tautly against the back frame and staple it in place. Try to recreate the way the initial fabric was secured.

Reassemble

Using your photographs and possibly your Post-It note organizational system, reassemble your pieces of furniture. In just a few hours, you can have updated radiant orchid chairs that match your bedspread or a sand-colored sofa for your beach-themed room.

If you aren’t gifted with a needle and thread and live in Northern Virginia you could go to Ikea in Woodbridge, Virginia and buy slip covers in many different prints for a very low price compared to other stores like Calico Corner.  Before throwing away that scratched leather furniture why not try buffing out the scratches.

Save your money to splurge on something you can’t create! With a little time and ingenuity, you can make your old furniture feel fresh and new by reupholstering it in an updated fabric.