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september/OCTOBER 2010

We Love Our Homes Homearama Builders Bill Brice & Les Ore

Special Feature:

Berkley Reborn



September/October 2010 features 12 Homearama Builders Bill Brice and Les Ore LLC

14 Berkley Reborn Special Feature

28 30



Community Preservation


Floored by the Possibilities


@ Home News


Chelsea Custom Contracting Alexandra Whiteside


Spirituality, Religion and Business


Now is the Time to Remodel


Living Green Outdoors


Contractor Directory

about the cover in every issue: 5 from the publisher

Special Feature


The Harbour View home of Amanda & Trye Batten, showcasing a fabulous kitchen and breakfast nook. “We Love our Homes,� page 6. 20 @ home news

26 mission page

32 by design

33 mortgage matters

PUBLISHER Bernard S. Harrison

editorial director Joyce A. Henry

marketing director Tom Hayden

graphic design

DISCOVER THE VALUE OF ADVERTISING IN BUILDERS HOMES SHOWCASE No matter how large or small your business or budget, we have effective marketing solutions you can afford. Position your message in front of local Builders Homes Showcase readers and reach top decision makers in the Hampton Roads market. Builders Homes Showcase gives you the advantage to promote directly to your local market, generating local brand awareness and an excellent ROI. No other publication serves the home design and decor market in Hampton Roads like Builders Homes Showcase.

(757) 545-0732 |

Put It In Print Graphics & Media

contributing writers Steve Cook Harrio Tara Neville Charles Wermers Amelia Baker Builders Homes Showcase Magazine is published by Seven City Media Group LLC 227 Hardy Ave. • Norfolk, VA 23423 Phone (757) 545-0732 Subscription rate: $36.00 per year; $62.00 two years; $3.50 single copy Advertising rates on request Although every precaution is taken to insure accuracy of the published materials, Builders Homes Showcase cannot be held responsible for opinions expressed or facts supplied by its authors. Copyright 2010 Seven City Media Group LLC All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part without written permission prohibited.

From the publisher


Find Your

Yesterday is but a dream, and tomorrow is only a vision, but today well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope. —Anonymous

That I may publish with the voice of Thanksgiving and tell of all thy wondrous works. —Psalm 26:7

The word “inspire” derives from the Latin word “inspirate,” which means to breathe upon or into. When we inspire others, we’re living from our higher selves. When we’re being inspired, we expand beyond what we previously were or know ourselves to be. Our personal lives and careers have new breath. Our souls and our actions are one. As the publisher of Builders Homes Showcase magazine, I have one of the greatest jobs on the planet. I actually get the opportunity to speak with designers who inspire others or draw on inspiration from God’s gifts. What I have learned is that there is a formula for finding your own inspiration. Inspiration lives between the two spaces of ambivalence and perfection. Inspiration is what moves us forward in life—through the ambivalence and towards the ideal. As a professional in today’s business environment, we have all had to be inspired to reach a greater level of accomplishment. Where does that feeling come from that hits you when inspiration suddenly strikes? That in-your-belly goodness or soulful filling of God’s spirit! In my opinion the formula for Inspiration is God’s grace + Openness + Life + Soul. In each of us, we have the power to find our inspiration, but understand it is not an easy task all of the time. Deadlines, pressure from peers and supporters, overbearing clients, and family time constraints add to the burden of everyday life. We must step outside ourselves; think about what has inspired us

in past experiences, think about the exhilaration, the passion that inspiration brought on and surround yourself with what inspires you (your recent copy of Builders Homes Showcase magazine). What’s so great about this issue is our builders showcase featuring Bill Ore LLC. The story of two successful veteran-business owners. Builder Bill Brice and audio-video business owner Les Ore. These men establish Bill Ore LLC, and home-owners took notice. The business merging of these two professionals, experienced in the building and customer service industries, has created a company that knows just what a home-buyer wants and inspires them to think outside the box with there creative floor plans and audio systems. We have continued to receive e-mails from many of you letting us know what topics are of interest and importance to you. If there is a topic of discussion you would like our writers to develop a storyline about, send us your thoughts. We will do our best to include it in subsequent issues. I must always thank God for the blessings, and all BHS advertisers. Until next month… God Bless & Good Reading,

Bernard S. Harrison


We Love Our Homes

In Rowena and Will’s living room, the sofas are vintage leather paired with table lamps by Mariette Himes Gomez. The center-piece of the room is an autographed photograph of Ali. photograph by sherri paris


In Hampton Roads, homebuyers are always concerned with location, location, location. Those same words also impact local design. This is a true testament to our selected home owners who have an eye for design and really love the spaces they created. In downtown Norfolk’s Rotunda, urban professional Will and Rowena Peralta incorporate bold colors with clean lines with an Asian influence to create the epitome of downtown cool. In the home of auto broker Lawson and Kenya Basnight, they have created the glamour of Hollywood with the use of soft whites and “pops” of color and glass. Builder Chuck Miller provides the appropriate style and restraint in a Virginia Beach home. Our homes are really reflections of ourselves and should provoke memories of times gone by and experiences that made us happy. BHS was given the privilege to peek inside the private homes of several local Hampton Roads residents. For many, their homes play an integral part in forming their own signature lifestyle. Their unique designs give a poignant example of life imitating art; their spaces are infused with a “je ne sais quoi.” Will and Rowena Peralta drove by their current home several times, “someday we are going to live up there” they recall thinking. They are now entertaining in an ultra-cool slice of downtown living. The Rotunda, Norfolk’s own Art Décor circular building built by renowned developers Jack Pope and the Wermers. “We love living downtown, in this neighborhood, because it’s cool and mellow.” Say’s Will and Rowena. The couple both exhibits a mixture of laid back and fast-forward thinking. Their home also reflects those same love our homes continued on page 8…

This well designed foyer welcomes anyone in with a touch of Asian influence. Rowena and Will use contemporary lines to create a well defined space. The floors are also concrete. This remarkable space in The Rotunda marries ancient Asian art with contemporary sensibility. photograph by jay smith


Adreinne and Tony Applewhite living room comes standard with a standard poodle named Jazz. The creamy white sofa and chair are from Decorum.

Chuck Miller’s masterpiece great room has hand-scraped Walnut hardwood floors, Marble window sills and a Energy efficient direct vent gas fireplace. A second level library overlooks an expansive experience. photograph courtesy of chuck miller

love our homes continued from page 7…

characteristics. Once entering their home you are greeted with a layout that is open and stylish. The décor is a mix of furnishings and art that’s comfortable and chic without looking contrived. The first level floors are polished-concrete. The home is animated by their personal collections, including a collection of Ali memorabilia that’s displayed throughout the home. In fact their home is not unlike a great hotel suite, but with nicer amenities. Entering the Basnight home is truly a walk through fine design. Lawson and Kenya have taken up residence in the upscale neighborhood of Stonebridge. Their taste are impeccable and their style is all their own. It is no doubt that Lawson and Kenya know a little something about creating beauty- they have created a beautiful home, a beautiful business and three handsome and athletically talented sons. The awe-inspiring décor is seen from the minute you drive into their driveway. Then, you’re graced with a lovely picture perfect manicured lawn and unbelievably tall palm trees-- in Virginia! With over 4,000 square feet, you come to truly appreciate “living large” once you enter the home. Lawson gave Kenya, a budding interior decorator, free reign to buy new furniture and decorate the home as she love our homes continued on page 11…

Homeowners who love to cook can enjoy this ethic experience. This kitchen really has function and beautiful wood cabinets. photograph courtesy of hampton roads crossing


Sally and Bert Whitmire enjoy reading a book while sitting beside the waters edge mural. photograph by harrio


Kenya and Lawson’s strategy for joining two rooms seamlessly with style and elements is perhaps best exemplified by the use of white leather and glass. The dining table is by Ironies, the chairs are by Michael Taylor Designs.

The sofa is upholstered in soft red Italian leather; the rugs are by Mansour Modern. The house’s most eye-catching design feature is also its most basic—Kenya and Lawson refreshed the walls with a coat of bright white paint and added splashes of red and gold for contrast. photograph by harrio


The understated contemporary feel with the natural colors and patterns showcase this living room. The celebration of Africa’s cultural heritage within the home creates a true sense of identity and relationship with the environment. photography courtesy of hampton roads crossing

love our homes continued from page 8…

pleased: and boy did she! Kenya says” The inspiration comes from who I am.”

Chuck Miller has been creating mega-homes for several years. The “Mothership” which is currently under contract, exhibits the craftsmanship and attention to the finest details he’s known for. The home in Virginia Beach VA. blends the ideals and the belief of uncompromised luxury and style, for the benefit of the environment through the use of renewable resources is known as the Miller Custom Home difference! The home of Adreinne and Tony Applewhite has it all.

A great view of the Elizabeth River, A great downtown address, a layout that’s open and airy and 3,200 square feet. Adreinne feels that accents play a very important role in their home, their business and their lives; they show flair, creativity and a sense of love for beautiful things. She reflects that in her own home’s gorgeous décor,” It’s important to show family members and quest how much you appreciates their being apart of your life.” She also states that fitting accessories in places where there is space without clutter is important. Similarly, she feels that candles, pillows and throws as well as “culturist” pieces display your individual taste and personality. SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2010 11

Bill Ore, LLC

Creating Homes with Glorious Details and Fabulous Functionality By Tara Ann Neville

Bill Ore, LLC…The company name says it all—a union of two names and two talents. When veteran-builder Bill Brice and audio-video business owner Les Ore partnered together to establish Bill Ore, LLC, home-owners took notice. The business merging of these two professionals, experienced in the building and customer service industries, has created a company that knows just what a home-buyer wants—even before the client has a chance to ask!


Homebuilders Les Ore and Bill Brice

Showcasing their customer-friendly building style at the Homearama Culpepper Landing in 2009, Bill Ore built the award-winning Elderberry – A Christmas Tradition. The wrap-around porch proved to be an enticing design feature, just as the classy interior finishes elated home-buyers. They have six models (named after their daughters) available to build at Culpepper Landing, as well as a Homearama house in Founder’s Point— with various lots owned and ready for the client’s custom design. Bill Ore builds homes innately aware of the home-buyer’s wish list. “Our house price includes features that other builders consider ‘optional upgrades’ and charge accordingly,” explains Les Ore. All Bill Ore kitchens are highlighted with their high-quality standard features, such as: Granite Counter-tops, Under and Above Cabinet Lighting, Soft-Close Cabinets and Stainless Steal Appliances—including the refrigerator. The entire first floor is hardwood or tile with 4 ¼” trim and crown molding throughout. A more luxurious touch may be the whole-house surround sound system, with speakers located in all main rooms, including the deck. With the Audio/Video storage cabinet built into the living room, the room’s focus easily becomes the classically-trimmed fireplace with a 42” Plasma TV mounted above it—another standard feature! Ore says, “We are concerned

with profit, but we don’t let that interfere with the quality, features and benefits of our homes.” Approaching home-building from the customer’s vantage point has made Bill Ore, LLC synonymous with excellence and exceptional quality. Bill Ore considers the customer’s interest when they offer full use of “left-over” space. Whether adding floored storage to a low attic ceiling or building in a medicine cabinet in an upstairs bath, the company is committed to giving home-buyers the benefits that come from Bill Ore’s experience. With Bill Brice on site daily to ensure quality and precision guidelines are followed, clients can rest assured their best interests are in mind throughout every stage of home-building. “ Home-buyers can have what they really want in a house if they find a builder who cares and listens to their needs,” Ore insists. Using the same sub-contractors for each of their homes, Bill Ore knows their expectations will be met. Ore assures clients, “When we do our walk-through, there may be only one or two items that need addressing—and most of the time, we’re fussier than the home-buyer!” With the belief that “building a home should be fun”, Bill Ore, LLC has set a new standard for home-building—one that starts and ends with the client. Visit or call Les Ore at 652-2434.


Special F

Norfolk’s least talked about treasure lies ¼ of a mile outside of the downtown hub along the eastern branch of the Elizabeth River. Once an industrial area, were several American Revolution ships were built in the 1700’s. It has now become a vibrant and historical community to 3,500 residents, whom call Berkley home. Norfolk’s Berkley section is alive and well. New homes are going up as fast as the old dilapidated ones are coming down. Berkley’s main thoroughfare “Berkley Ave” has been restored with rows of trees and manicured lawns, a hint of its former self. A Farm Fresh grocery now anchors a shopping plaza, The NCP Credit Union has opened its doors with the hope of serving a communities financial needs and Metropolitan Funeral homes has open a state-of-the-art funeral home. A plan put in progress in the hope of restoring a business district. Rita Snowden a longtime resident says “We haven’t seen so much positive activity in the last couple years since the 60’s.” Through the years, Berkley’s identity has gone through several metaphases. Berkley once was the home to immigrant Jewish business owners, who started their businesses in Berkley and found success. Some of the businesses are still thriving today. The neighborhood featured large Victorian styled homes with unique architectural designs. In the late 50’s, the racial demographic started to change. Whites began moving out of (Hardy Fields), which had the huge Victorian homes and blacks became to move in. African American families saw that the community was assessable and different. The streets were lined with flowering trees, the home were big and beautiful. As the community grew so did the shopping an entertainment district. Mrs. Snowden recalls” residents from South Norfolk, Campostella and Berkley could frequent the area on Liberty Street. You didn’t have to go outside Berkley for anything. We had a Whattaburger, 5&dime store, several doctor’s offices, Sparrows Restaurant, Dave’s barber shop, Perkins Lounge, several banks, and two movie houses. The 70’s brought a completely new flavor to the community. The once grand houses were becoming vacant and down-trodden. The family oriented community was changing to a com-


l Feature

munity of transients. Businesses were either going under or moving to a more prosperous section of Norfolk. A community with a great history became a community rot with despair. Berkley was a community that once held generations of families that played and prayed together, then became a community where the demand for drugs and violence was high and never-ending. As the 90’s was issued in so was a breath of fresh air. In a joint effort between the Beacon Civic League, Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority and the Virginia Dept. of Transportation. Old roads were paved and widened, vacant homes were torn down, homeowners were given grants to renovate their historical homes and new homes were built with additional plans to revitalize the community. Berkley was in the midst of a renaissance going into the new millennium. Ten years later, Berkley boasts of its rich history. This month marks the 16th annual Berkley Reunion. A three day celebration bringing together past neighborhood residents and current residents. “We celebrate a legacy of community improvements and people working together” said an event organizer. Berkley’s community has risen from the ashes of the Great fire of 1922, through the prosperous50’s and 60’s and the turbulent 70’s and 80’s to the diverse family orientated neighborhood model we know today. In the words of Maya Angelou “Still I Rise.”

Photography by Ronald Atkinson


Special Feature Community Preservation By Ronald Atkinson


Community Preservation starts with a seed. It only takes a spark to get a fire going. Coach, as he is affectionately called, planted himself in the community of Berkley hailing from Elizabeth City, N.C. After a short term, two years, of serving families in Park Place, Coach made the transition from country life to the urban lifestyle. Coming from the country Coach understood the concept of seed – sowing - harvest. He sees his life as a seed sown into a generation that will produce trees that will impact: family, education, faith, politics, media, entertainment, and economics locally and globally. Those that know Coach are very aware of his storytelling abilities. He has lived life with many boys and girls who are now men and women with children and some with grand children. One can go almost anywhere in Hampton Roads and Coach Williams is known. He is known by the TREES he has produced. One of those trees is William Fuller. Elwood “Coach” Williams of Southside Boys and Girls’ Club received the Boys and Girls Club award, Commitment to Youth Award, honoring his 40 years of servant leadership April 2010. His stellar career includes 200+ awards including the Lewis Hines award, which was given to Oprah Winfrey and Tipper Gore, Vice President Al Gore’s wife.


William Fuller, retired All-Pro defensive end for the Philadelphia Eagles, is one of those trees. At age ten William was a bustling lad with great entrepreneur savvy. How so? He would serve families with his transportation business. He only had a license to be creative, productive, intuitive, and competitive. His business was Grocery Transportation. Yes, grocery transportation . . . Families that needed groceries and didn’t have cars would use William’s four-wheel will-pull wagon. That’s right, William’s red rectangular wagon served to deliver groceries to the Berkley families’ front porch. He would travel to Overton’s, a neighborhood store, and wheel in the groceries. Of course, William was one many aspiring youth learning the value of work and rewards, even at a nickel or dime a load.


Please allow me to make a little life note. Often times we don’t understand process and in ignorance we interrupt or abandon a thing while it’s still being cultivated. When opportunity becomes hard or takes a different turn we’ll runaway. Runaway really means revert to something that is safe or familiar. This safe zone only feeds our fear nature. We normally want noncombative environment, this is true in relationships within families, schools, faith communities, and communities at large. Why do we fear different opinions? Example – There is only one TRUTH in this mathematical fact – 4x8 = 32 However, there are multiple ways to get this mathematical outcome 32. 8x4, 2x16, 16x2, (3x4) + 8 + 12, etc. 16 BHSMAGAZINE.COM

Fearful thinking causes relationships, schools, faith communities and communities at large to divide around differences, rather than embracing the differences to make a DIFFERENCE. At ten years old William caught this principle. He understood: the law of transportation = a four-wheel vehicle can move and transport goods. His vehicle was a wagon not a Volkswagen. The result was the beginning of a forest. FOREST What’s in a seed, a tree or a forest? You now see it. When William was pulling the wagon, he didn’t know at the time that 34 years later preservation continued on next page…

Preservation continued from previous page… he would be pulling in 26 aisles of food through structuring a community development business opportunity with Farm Fresh. Again, just as when he was younger, he saw an opportunity and this time he assembled a team with expertise that complimented his; John Wheeler of Wheeler Development and Farm Fresh’s innovative Test Model Store team. Now families pull their own grocery carts to load their chicken and veggies. They can also choose to drive or phone in their order and have a taxi deliver it to their front porch. Could it be that Farm Fresh represents a business that has recognized the wealth of Berkley, like recently discovered oil reserves inland in Montana and North Dakota that would make the U.S. to independent of foreign oil?

Forest planting requires a CAUSE. Coach Williams puts it like this, “Never Become Bigger than the Cause.” This is the title to a recent documentary highlighting Coach’s tenure leadership in Boys and Girl’s Club. After forty years of stories like William Fuller, it’s time to build the Human Infrastructure of Berkley. For Coach the cause is the lives of Berkley’s children becoming transformed to reach their full potential. He knows for this to occur the families must be empowered with DREAMS. When adults’ dreams are encouraged and supported they create environments of hope. Give children hope then there is no dope. Hope is the result of Dreams. Dreams are always Cause focused. Here’s our Equation for Community Preservation: Cause + Dream = Hope So now Berkley Our Dream . . .. Building Human Infrastructure is early in formation to address these outcomes. Berkley Our Dream is a member of the Community of Dreams. Berkley let’s dream together at Let’s

go there and record our dreams for Berkley and personal dreams. No telling what might happen when we dream together. Maybe we’ll find oil right here in our own backyard. Let’s support Coach as he takes these principles beyond the borders of Berkley with the “Never Become Bigger than the Cause campaign to school campuses, online, faith-communities, jails, and neighborhoods. Donations can be given through United Way during upcoming Federal Campaign CFC #64234 and Virginia Campaign CVC #5045 and UW/CCC #5045. Just code in each respective organizational code. Corporate sponsors are being sought to under gird this Community Preservation thrust. Great job Coach and much success as we dream and remember “Never Become Bigger Than The Cause.”


Floored by the Possibilities Today’s Choices of What to Put Under Our Feet Are Seemingly Endless By Mark West

Turn the calendar back to 1976 and you’ll likely see home advertisements touting the luxury of wall-to-wall shag carpet, plus the chance for lucky home buyers to choose from an array of brilliant colors in both carpet and shiny new vinyl floors. Fast-forward 30 years and home advertisements reveal that wall-to-wall is practically gone, replaced in many living areas by hardwood or laminate floors. The vinyl isn’t missing entirely, but it often looks like another material, or it’s been replaced in prominence by ceramic, glass and other types of tiles. “Everything eventually repeats itself, but with a new twist,” says Larissa Boychuk, owner of Floormaster Carpet One showroom, which sells carpet and area rugs as well as hardwood, laminate, ceramic and vinyl flooring. “The bright colors of floors are back, and so is shag, though it’s not the thin strands of the 60’s and 70’s.” Still, the bold new palettes of color and patterns cannot hide the reality that both carpeting and vinyl have lost market share. As far as carpet, Ray Boelig, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Columbia Flooring, explains, “Many home buyers are avoiding carpet because of problems with allergens or because carpets are hard to maintain and keep clean, especially the lighter colors used to brighten a room.” The living rooms and dining rooms that used to be almost exclusively carpeted now have hardwood floors, adds Boelig, though in new construction, carpeting is still preferred in bedrooms and playrooms. Vinyl, which used to cover most kitchen and utility rooms, is down 80 percent over what it was a decade ago, Boelig reports. Ceramic tile has taken up much of the slack because it is easy to clean, but also comes in scores of colors and styles. For Boelig, however, the biggest difference between the 1970’s and today is the sheer volume of available choices in floor coverings, along with the increase awareness of those choices by consumers. Thirty years ago a home builder might show a new buyer a carpet sample book with a half dozen colors and the choice of either a basic or upgraded pad, Laminates weren’t even around, Boelig points out. THE CHOICES TODAY Boychuk confirms that vinyl floors are on the way out, while ceramic tile is on the rise and hardwood floors are increasingly popular for common areas of the home. Wood is popular partly because its image today is “luxurious,” with many exotic woods now readily available,” she observes. Yet wood is also seen by homeowners as flexible decorating medium. “You can put in a hardwood floor and then soften it with area rugs – and area rugs are a lot easier to change periodically than wall-to-wall carpet,” she explains. Among exotic woods, bamboo and cork are consumer favorites today, and one of the newest trends is to make a floor look old. “Distressed” wood floors with wide planks make a floor look like wood from an old farmhouse. Even some laminate floors are now available that are textured to mimic the distressed look. Another growing trend is the use of mosaic tiles, as well as colored glass tiles and metallic tiles as flooring and as flooring accents and backsplashes for counters and kitchens. As for carpet, Boychuk said that the recent focus on new bold colors, such as red, brown and teal, got its start in furniture design. Overall, the boom in floor covering is not only a great benefit for the consumer, but also for the builder and architect. This is because you will have more options to differentiate your home from others. This could be a great consideration when selling your home. 18 BHSMAGAZINE.COM

HOME news


house gets certification

Hohmann Builders recently announced that a new house built as a part of the Founders Pointe community in Carrollton, is the first single-family home in Isle of Wright County to earn the EarthCraft certification. The house, designed by Frank Betz Associates, is named the Abberly and has also been certified under the Energy Star program. It’s built to be 30 percent more efficient than an identical home built simply to code, and designed to offer better indoor air quality and reduce the home’s carbon footprint.

Current Home Sales Report Home Sales Pace For the second month in a row, sales of existing U.S. homes fell in January, according to the National Association of Realtors. With the deadline of the first-time home buyer tax credit in December extended through June, buyers felt less pressure to buy immediately. Total sales fell 7.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.05 million units, down from December’s downwardly revised 5.44 million sales. The silver lining is that January’s sales figures were up 11.5 percent over January 2009 data. “Most of the completed deals in January were based on contracts in November and December,” said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun. “People who got into the market after the home buyer tax credit was extended in November have only recently started to offer contracts, so it will take a couple months to close those sales. Still, the latest monthly sales decline is not encour-

HOME OWNERSHIP EDUCATION SEMINARS Listed below are organizations providing Home Ownership Education Seminars. Please call to confirm dates & times (may be subject to change), and to make a reservation. Classes have limited space and tend to fill quickly, so please call as soon as possible to RSVP. For those classes covering two evenings, you must attend both classes in order to receive a certificate: Community Housing Partners Corporation 911 First Colonial Road, VA BEACH Luxmy Panzardi at (757) 422-9664 Weekday and Saturday Workshops (English & Spanish) 20 BHSMAGAZINE.COM

aging, and raises concern about the strength of a recovery.” The national median home price fell in January to $164,700 from a downwardly revised $170,500 December price, but the latest median is unchanged from a year ago. The NAR defines existing homes as all previously-owned single-family homes, townhouses, condominiums, and co-ops. The group “seasonally adjusts” the sales numbers to factor in things like inclement weather, school sessions, winter holidays, etc. to smooth out the trends. The NAR also describes its sales data based on an annual pace. The monthly figure represents the total number of housing units that would be sold in one year if the current rate were to continue unchanged. Sales Pace by Region Sales of existing homes dropped across the board on a

Virginia Beach Community Development Corporation 2700 International Parkway, Suite 300, VA BEACH (757) 463-9516 Every Other Month: Tuesday and Thursday 5:45 pm – 8:45 pm Greater Hampton Roads Realtor & Tidewater Mortgage Bankers Assoc. 184 Business Park Drive, Suite 200, VA BEACH (757) 473-2160 or (757) 473-9700 Once a Month: First Tuesday and Thursday of the month 6:30pm – 9:30pm Catholic Charities of Hampton Roads 4855 Princess Anne Road, VA BEACH (757) 484-0703

Home Sales continued on page 17…

Once a Month: Saturday Only 9:00am – 4:00pm Norfolk Redevelopment & Housing Authority 201 Granby Street, NORFOLK Lashawn Fortes at (757) 623-0458 Once a Month: Two Night Course 6:00pm – 9:00pm Family Services of Tidewater 222 W. 19th Street, NORFOLK (757) 625-2227 Once a Month: Two Consecutive Tuesdays 6:00pm to 9:00pm First Providence Realty, Inc. 2011 Queen Street, PORTSMOUTH Freda Johnson at (757) 393-9600 Quarterly: Saturday 9:00am – 3:00pm

HOME news

HUD ANNOUNCES $13 MILLION IN GRANTS TO PROTECT CHILDREN FROM LEAD PAINT Funding helps to make low-income housing safer and healthier The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is awarding more than $13 million in grants to 25 local projects to conduct a wide range of activities that include eliminating lead and housing-related hazards in thousands of homes; training workers in lead and healthy homes interventions; supporting research to improve home safety efforts; increasing public awareness, and evaluating outreach on controlling housingbased hazards. Lead is a known toxin that can impair children’s development and have effects lasting into adulthood. The incidence of asthma linked directly to housing-related hazards costs the U.S. economy approximately $3.5 billion each year. “Every child deserves to grow up in a healthy home and yet far too many continue to be exposed to potentially danger-

ous lead and other health hazards,” said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. “These grants will not only help to clean up lead and other home health hazards but will support innovative new approaches to make all our homes healthier places to live.” “To grow up healthy, children need to live in healthy homes,” said HUD Deputy Secretary Ron Sims. “Housing is both a critical sector of our economy as well as a key source of wealth, security and stability for America’s families.” Through the four programs, HUD’s Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control promotes local efforts to eliminate dangerous lead and other key housing-related hazards from lower income homes; stimulates private sector investment in lead hazard control; and educates the public about the dangers of

Home Sales continued from page 20…

million houses, yet still rose by 7.6 percent from one year ago.

regional basis during January with the Northeast seeing the greatest decline. Sales there fell 10.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 820,000 units. Still, things are better than last year, as the latest numbers are up 22.4 percent from January 2009. The South experienced a 7.4 percent monthly decrease in sales, to 1.87 million homes, but sales are up 12.0 percent from the previous year. In the Midwest, sales declined by 6.9 percent in January to a rate of 1.08 million units. Sales in the region are up 8.0 percent compared with year before. Sales fell by 5.2 percent in the West to an annual pace of 1.28

Home Prices The median home price, the point at which half of all homes are sold for more and half are sold for less, fell in all regions but the Northeast on a monthly basis. In the Northwest, the median price rose to $245,300 from $240,700 in December, and the new price was up 8.8 percent from January 2009. The Midwest saw a price decline to $130,300 in January from $135,300 the month before. The median price also fell 1.0 percent below the previous year’s price. In the South, the median dropped to

lead-based paint as well as other housing related health hazards. A complete project-by-project summary of the programs awarded grants today can be found on HUD’s website. Virginia is slated to receive $875,000 in money and grants. Even though lead-based paint was banned for use in the home in 1978, HUD estimates that approximately 24 million homes still have significant lead-based HUD continued on page 23…

$140,200 from $148,400 in December. The price is down 2.0 percent over last year. The median price in the West sank to $203,400 in January, from $216,200 the month before, and it is down 5.8 percent over the same month in 2009. Inventory Housing inventory decreased for the sixth straight month in January, falling 0.5 percent to 3.265 million homes for sale. At the current sales pace, that represents a 7.8-month supply, an increase from December when there was a 7.2-month supply. On a yearly basis, inventory is down 9.6 percent. SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2010 21

HOME news

Homearama Features Homes Built On Inspiration From growing families to military service, Homearama builders find inspiration in a variety of situations. Though all Homearama homes typically offer inspiration and innovation, several of them stand apart for the themes they embody. These features homes will be among nine fully furnished and landscaped custom homes on display in Tidewater Builders Association’s Fall Homearama Oct. 16-31 in the East Beach community of Norfolk. A Tribute to the Armed Forces Builders Jimmy Richardson and Edward Hewitt of Richardson/Viridian Homes pay tribute to Hampton Roads’ military personnel. Hewitt, a former Marine, and Richardson, the son of a Navy man, dedicated their home, A Tribute to the Armed Forces, to the men and women who sacrifice for their country. The home will feature subtle tributes, such as a wood inlay of a nautical star in the foyer and the memorabilia throughout the home, like flags and uniforms used overseas. Hewitt and Richardson hope visitors will see how proud the men are of the armed forces. “It’s really the reason we’re doing the house,” said Richardson. “I think people really are sacrificing a lot being in the mil-

itary … We’re doing the house to show how proud we are of those in the Armed Forces.” The Live Oak Cottage: The Norfolk House Journey through the city of Norfolk at The Live Oak Cottage: The Norfolk House built by Bill Ore LLC. Celebrating the city’s diverse history, the home features a look into the Norfolk’s past through memorabilia from the Ocean View museum, which will explore the Ocean View Park and Ocean View community, as well as memorabilia that shows how downtown Norfolk has developed into a booming attraction. Jump forward to present Norfolk as you walk through a high school student’s room and see the pendants, letter jackets and books that she will be using in a Norfolk public school. Celebrate life lived daily outside in the mermaid statue on display that honors those battling breast cancer. Norfolk native Lawrence Hollingsworth also is showing how life is lived through his artwork, which is also on display. The home will provide opportunities for Norfolk public schools to showcase student talents in a variety of ways. Family Tides: Celebrating today’s modern family Before East Beach was a reality, Simpson Builders Inc. was constructing a home for a budding family with two children and expecting a third. The home was designed to suit the needs of a growing family. Ten years later, they are continuing the tradition and building another home for the family. Just as the tides change with time, so do a family’s needs. The home features a custom design for a family with three pre-teenagers. Each child has his or her private space. The second floor features a bedroom for the eldest and a hangout area equipped with homework stations for each child. The first floor features a master suite at the rear while the other bedrooms are at the front of the home. Blue River Cottage: The Idea House For today’s fast-paced family, the key to a successful day is efficiency and organization. Thanks to the Blue River

@ HOME NEWS brings you news about product launches, classes, events and achievements of the home builder industry. Please submit news releases and photos to: Send photos as a jpeg file with a resolution of 300dpi.

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HOME news Cottage: Idea House by Stephen Alexander Homes and Neighborhoods, families visiting Homearama will learn how to make their homes more livable. Inspired by historic homes, the house is an ultra efficient, sustainable and affordable home that lives like its larger cousins. The builders have taken a typical home’s wasted space and located it where it can be used everyday. Abundant storage solutions and attention to detail will have visitors feeling inspired to make their homes more efficient. The combination of the home’s energy-efficient building techniques, as well as its Energy Genie energy management system will save the homeowner money on utilities. The Oktoberfest Haus: Celebrating Norfolk’s Sister City in Wilhelmshaven, Germany Taste old-world Germany without taking a trip in time at The Oktoberfest Haus: Celebrating Norfolk’s Sister City in Wilhelmshaven, Germany. Simpson Builders Inc. is celebrating Norfolk’s sister city of Wilhelmshaven, Germany, which became Norfolk’s sister city in 1976. Located on the North Sea, Wilhelmshaven is a port city much like the city of Norfolk. Similar to the homeowner’s seaside hometown, the beach

cottage is a marriage of heritage and new beginnings, which can be seen in the combination of family antiques and new décor from Exotic Home. The home also will celebrate Wilhelmshaven through pictures and video from the port city. Homearama is open to the public Oct. 16-31, noon until 9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, and until 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. More information is available at or by calling (757) 420-2434.

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paint hazards today. Lead-contaminated dust is the primary cause of lead exposure and can lead to a variety of health problems in young children, including reduced IQ, learning disabilities, developmental delays, reduced height, and impaired hearing. At higher levels, lead can damage a child’s kidneys and central nervous system and cause anemia, coma, convulsions and even death. However, lead is not the only danger threatening families and children in the home. Asthma is now recognized as the leading cause of school and work absences, emergency room visits, and hospitalizations.


women in Construction

Chelsea Custom ContRacting – Alexandra Whiteside By Harrio

Most people dream of having a career they truly love. Imagine having a talent for handling the tools of the construction trade as well as the eye for interior design. Alexandra “The Lady Contractor” Whiteside was first influenced by the construction industry at an early age of seven years old. While most children dream of play houses, Alexandra was playing in houses being built in the neighborhood. “I remember smelling that fresh wood and hearing the sound of the hammering during the framing stages.” Alexandra also realized that she had a lot of creative energy which led her down the path of interior design. After completing high school, Alexandra started working for an Interior Designer in New York and then a large construction company where she honed her talents and rediscovered her childhood passion. She then decided to start a business combining interior design and new construction and do what she truly enjoys. Now with over twenty-five years of experience in construction, a Class A building contractors license and a professional interior designer, the lady contractor has set the bar for professionalism, integrity, continuing education and reliability. In a recent conversation we learned a little about Alexandra Whiteside and Chelsea Custom Contracting. Here is an edited version of our discussion: BHS: What type of projects did you first work on? I got my start with a commercial construction firm, so my first projects involved office and school buildings. The next company I worked for built homes, so in quick succession I got experience in commercial and residential construction. BHS: What was the driving factor that made you decide to go into business? After two decades of learning what to do and what not to do through a series of great and awful bosses, I finally decided I had enough knowledge and experience to be the big cheese myself! BHS: What is the best advice you ever received? “If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always gotten.” It made me take a serious look at where I wanted to go with my career, and at what I needed to do differently to stop treading water and move forward. BHS: What do you do that gives you the best advantage over your competition? There are numerous advantages to being a female contractor, and I discuss all those benefits can24 BHSMAGAZINE.COM

didly with my clients when we first meet. I make sure they don’t want to take their chances with working with anyone else! BHS: What value do you bring to the marketplace? I educate, educate, educate. I give my clients the information needed to make smart, informed choices, so they invest wisely in durable materials and skilled labor. BHS: What are the keys to your success? Unflagging determination to succeed, unfailing belief in the value of what I personally bring to the table as a contractor, and continual self-evaluation to make sure I am offering the very best service to my clients. BHS: What does it take to be a successful woman in an industry dominated by men? A huge amount of self-confidence. There will be a lot of times when you are your only cheerleader. You also need humor, diplomacy, an appropriate air of authority, and the willingness to accept constructive criticism to improve yourself. BHS: What advice would you give other women coming into the field? Have specific plans and goals, find a mentor, use a business coach. Join networking groups and professional associations, and find smart, positive people to be around. Learn more than you will ever need to know. Don’t let insensitive, incompetent, narrowminded bullies knock you down. Alexandra Whiteside, “The Lady Contractor,” owns Chelsea Custom Contracting, a Virginia Beach-based design-build firm offering residential and commercial remodeling and new construction services. The Lady Contractor is a proponent of green building techniques, residential fire suppression systems, and accessibility design. She is also a member of; The Institute for Human Centered Design (Adaptive Environments), an ENERGY STAR Builder Partner, and an approved independent builder for Nationwide Custom Homes. For more information about Alexandra Whiteside visit or call 757-407-2653.

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Spirituality, Religion and A perennial debate about the distinctions between religion and spirituality usually yields up artificial differences that distract from the important issue of the purpose of both: those who disdain religion but favor spirituality usually indicate that they are averse to following rules, particularly the rules that others have imposed. Ostensibly, there is no reverse with those favoring religion but disdaining spirituality; however, in practice it is this reverse that is most widespread. Many who attend church regularly and proclaim adherence to the rules do not seek the main goal of religion which is soulawareness, or God-union. Unfortunately, those who disdain religion but respect spirituality do not usually practice the purpose of spirituality either, which is the exact same purpose of religion—soul awareness (self-realization) or God-union. While there are, in fact, some superficial distinctions between the terms “religion” and “spirituality,” the goals of each are identical. Religion refers to the method and practice for becoming soul-realized; it stands to reason that more than one method would evolve at different times in different global locations; thus, we have the five major world religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, which provide systems of moral guidance and methods for prayer and worship. Most adherents to each religion are satisfied to simply follow the rules and sprinkle their devotion with a little prayer. And


while this first step is necessary, it is only the first step; the next step focuses squarely on the method itself that leads to Godunion, and that step includes techniques of body-purification, concentration, and meditation. It is only after some adeptness in this second step that true spirituality comes into play, because spirituality refers directly to the soul which is spirit, its nature, its function, its purpose, which can be known only intuitively by direct contact. Only spirit can realize spirit, and religion provides the path to realizing spirit. The physical body and the mind cannot know the soul or God; however, the human being through religious study, practice, meditation, and prayer can become self-realized, realizing the soul or God. Religion can be known, but spirituality can only be realized. Religion, therefore, is the tangible part of the search for God, and spirituality is the intangible part. And they both work together as the body and mind work together. The challenges of the unrealized human being are always the same whether in business or in personal relationships: how to become soul-realized. The first steps to soul-realization are moral steps: treating our fellow human beings humanely, kindly, with love and respect. Truly believing and living under the rule that treating others with fairness will result in receiving fairness in return. The world of business must be a place

where each participant realizes that his/ her role is to offer useful service. Businesses must be places that exist to make the world a better place—not merely for the accumulation of wealth for selfish purposes. If every business deemed its purpose to offer the best service possible, then prosperity would come to all businesses. Such a dedication as described above comes from the spiritual law of the Golden Rule. A strong spiritual life forms the basis for the ability to be of service to others. Serving others becomes a way to serve God. A strong spiritual life gives one the courage to accept life’s challenges and still continue to offer selfless service. We are seeing a great awakening in the business world pointing toward greater interest in spirituality in the workplace. The reason behind the increasing interest in spirituality is quite simple: it works. It operates the divine law of abundance. It is not a fad. It will continue. Spirituality in the workplace will continue to grow, including all workplaces. God is omnipresent, as well as omniscient. Therefore, if God makes your Sundays better days, it stands to reason that God will make your Mondays-Saturdays better days as well. Businesses are learning this. And the success that those who have put a spiritual element into place will be desired by others; that’s why I predict that spirituality in the workplace will spread.

Ian Mitroff, author of the best-seller A Spiritual Audit of Corporate AmeriJulius Wall, CEO of Greyston Bakery, starts each day with a prayer, and he ca, says “Spirituality could be the ultimate competitive advantage.” says that by realizing that God is in control, he eliminates fear from his endeavors and therefore becomes more creative. Ben Cohen, co-founder and former CEO of Ben and Jerry’s Homemade ice

cream company, says: “At Ben and Jerry’s, we learned that there’s a spiriOther companies that have added a spiritual element to their equatual life to businesses as there is in the lives of individuals. As you give, you tion are Shell Oil Company, Microsoft, The World Bank, Apple, and receive. As you help others, you are helped in return. For people, for busi- many others. 26 BHSMAGAZINE.COM nesses, for nations — it’s all the same.”



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Don’t miss Norfolk’s 1,000-story building.

Science coming to life. Sharks you can touch. Interactive theaters. Traveling exhibits. The Battleship Wisconsin. Hampton Roads Naval Museum. It’s Norfolk’s ultimate story.

ONE WATERSIDE DRIVE • NORFOLK, VA 23510 • 800-664-1080 • 757-664-1000

Now Is the Time to


By Charles Wermers | Architect and Principal

Do you love your neighborhood but think your house is closed in, out dated and inefficient? Do you just need more space because your family is expanding? Or, like many others in this economy, have you said to yourself “based on everything out there, I’m going to hunker down and make the best of my current living conditions.” Then remodeling may be an alternative to the ordeal of selling and buying a new home. The following photos show the dramatic effects created by remodeling: Expanding - Remodeling a ranch creates room to breathe. A new second story provides additional bedrooms and frees up ground floor space for a home office. Updating - The kitchen adds style to the whole house. The reasons for remodeling are many and each job is unique so planning and design are crucial. Start with your own research. Look in books and browse the internet (a few links are listed below). Determine what you want and what you like. Then, depending upon your needs, you have several options on how to proceed. There are generally three approaches to planning a project: the General Contractor, the Design/Build Contractor and the Architect. The General Contractor may be the solution where design needs are basic. The Design/Build Contractor benefits the homeowner by providing both quality design and construction services within the same company. A design/build contractor will be able to manage your project from start to finish providing a systematic approach that encompasses design, construction and budget. Major remodeling projects with complexity may re-


quire an Architect to provide construction drawings and contract documents. Some remodelers work with architects. So plan, prioritize and Remodel Now. Some online links for planning your remodel: Find calculators for cost estimating and comparing that cost to the cost of moving. Also find links to finding a qualified contractor in your area. Green your project with the REGREEN Strategy Generator. Go here and enter REMODEL in the search box. You can find good information on adding value to your home, tips for a smooth remodel and more.


10 Reasons to Remodel Now Interest rates are low, so now is the perfect time to refinance and invest.


Fix everything at once. Older homes are in constant need of repair. Save your weekends and let the professionals do the work.


Invest in something that improves your daily life while improving the resale value of your home.


Create a better performing house while easing you conscience. “Green remodeling” helps save the planets resources while building a home that will be... • Efficient and comfortable, saving you money every month on your utility bills • Durable, decreasing the time and money that you spend for maintenance • And Healthy, making your home safer for your family and more pleasant.


Tax credits are available for energy saving improvements and green remodeling.

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Expand. Create room to breathe. Open up some walls. Provide more light and air. Everyone enjoys larger and more functional spaces. Make your house the envy of the neighborhood. Update and create appeal. Sometimes a 60’s kitchen is not retro cool. A new front porch can add loads of curb appeal.


You can get it done fast. “Two or three years ago, when you called a contractor, it could be six months before he even returned your call,” says Bernard Markstein, the director of forecasting and analysis for the National Association of Homebuilders. “Today, all you have to do is talk about a project you want to do, and three contractors will call you.”


When the market picks up, you will be ready. If you are eventually planning to put your house on the market, buyers will appreciate the upgrades you’ve made.


ut doors By Amelia Baker

Buying a house is more than making sure the foundation is sound, floorplan is perfect for your family, and upgrades are classy. A big part of the homestead is making the outside just as much of a haven as the inside which can be daunting if you’re a novice greenskeeper. Luckily, there are a few tricks to not only perk up your lawn and garden bed, but also pay tribute to planet-forward thinking. Let’s take a closer look at maintenance, weed control, plant selection, and water conservation. Mowing & Lawn Maintenance Giving your lawn a trim every few weeks is a summer chore you just can’t get out of. Unfortunately, gas mowers can plow through 800 million gallons of gas per year and that’s a lot of pollution. Your best is a simplistic reel mower if you have a smaller lawn or splurge for a rechargeable batterypowered mower for larger plots. Not sold on the eco mowing option? Read more about the benefits of mowing


green at www.greenalternativesstore. com/ecomowing.html.

Weed Control Weeds don’t need to be whacked with harsh chemicals to make them disappear from sidewalk or paver cracks. It’s as easy as a gallon of white vinegar. Dousing generously along the cracks will force weeds to wilt and die within a couple of days. Keep the vinegar out of your garden beds though. You don’t want to kill your flowers, veggies, or herbs. You can conquer weeds in your garden patch by planting close together so much that leaves of neighboring plants are touching, mulching around plantings, and amending your soil. Native Plants With the summer sun scorching, picking your plants and accompanying locations can be tricky. Look for native plants when you’re shopping around because they’ll be more ad-

ept to our mid-Atlantic climate making your job outside a little lighter. A great reference site is the Virginia Native Plant Society (

Water Conservation If you’ve ever watered a lawn or garden bed in the summer, you know water bills can skyrocket. There’s no need to neglect your flowers, veggies, and grass just to save a few gallons of water. Instead, invest in a rain water harvesting system which can be as simple as a single rain barrel hooked up to your gutter downspout or a cistern housing several hundred gallons of water. Using this instead of municipal supply will save water and money. Amelia Baker is the owner operator of Green Alternatives earth-friendly general store in Norfolk, VA. Amelia serves on the board of Friends of Norfolk’s Environment which supports the Norfolk Environmental Commission and Keep Norfolk Beautiful offices.

go Green Get Real

REAL REMODEL designs & builds high performance remodels and cu�om homes for a healthy life & environment


Remodel design. construction. home.

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REMODEL NOW WITH REAL REMODEL BEFORE REAL REMODEL is class A contractor with a licensed architect on staff. We have been designing and building homes for over 20 years. We believe that good design means an energy efficient, environmentally friendly home with style and value. We make green remodeling easy from start to finish and determine the best path for you. So Think green! Get Real!




Carol Schaper

by design

Design Strategies to Maximize the of Your Home


By Carol Schaper, Residential and Commercial Interior Design and Consultant

Many simple design strategies can help maximize the visual appeal of your home. The right color, mixing a couple rooms, a catchy piece of artwork or unique accessories will make your home uniquely your own and cause others to stop and do a doubletake. DON’T MIX TOO MANY COLORS One approach is to keep your palette simple, especially in smaller rooms. Treat colors like neutrals. Pick your favorite color; then layer shades and textures. Use various fabrics such as suede, silk and velvet in subtle shade variations. If the upholstery fabrics are solid, go with a patterned carpet for extra flair, the beauty of doing a single–color scheme is that the sculptural qualities of the furnishings and the architecture of a room come through. COMBINE THE KITCHEN AND DINING AREA For a more casual eating environment—especially for young families—

eliminate the formal dining room and incorporate the square footage into a kitchen eating area. Since these areas have become the true “living” rooms of modern life, don’t be afraid to bring in artwork and furniture pieces that might be found in a living or dining room. You can also dress up the eating area by using a banquette upholstered in a fabric. MAKE ART WORK POP OUT To get more mileage from your art, hang pieces closely together. Arranging artwork in a group can have a lot more impact than scattering pieces about a room. To moderate the impact of a large painting or photograph, paint the frame the same color as the walls. This visually lifts the image off the wall and makes it stand out by itself. MASS ACCESSORIES TOGETHER Accessories are crucial to a room – the “frosting” on the cake. Clustering groups of items by style, shape or color creates a far more interesting look

than having single items on a table. Select pieces with unusual and different contours, but keep all in the same color family. Use different height items to create more interest. A tall lamp, a pot of greenery and a small sculpture piece work well together. THINK OF YOUR HOUSE AS A COMPLETE EXPERIENCE A common mistake is to decorate one room completely, the adjacent room next year, and so on. When the whole house is finished, everyone wonders why it doesn’t go together. Making design decisions on a smaller scale in different rooms simultaneously can help to make the rooms flow better. There should always be at least one color that runs throughout the house, such as a consistent trim or ceiling color. The walls can be different, but the trim or ceiling pulls then together. Use the primary color from one room as an accent in another. This helps the rooms to relate to each other.

Carol Schaper has 20 years of experience in residential and commercial interior design. Schaper Associates can assist you with all your decorating needs. For more information, contact Schaper Associates at (757) 627-4697. 32 BHSMAGAZINE.COM

MORTGAGE MATTERS Understanding your credit opens the door to home-buying success With many signs pointing to the beginnings of a recovery in the housing market, potential home buyers can still find plenty of selection, low prices and low interest rates. If you’re thinking of buying a home your top priority should be checking your credit report to see if your credit is in good shape. Credit - specifically misuse and misunderstanding of credit - spurred the housing crisis, many experts agree. The consequences have included tighter standards from lenders and the need for borrowers to better understand how to use credit wisely. Interest rates remain low and those with good credit will be better positioned in this unique housing market. A good credit report and score can open doors and empower you to secure the best loan and terms possible. Being pre-approved for a mortgage can help you move quickly to secure a deal when you find the home of your dreams. If you’ve assessed your finances to determine how much mortgage you can afford, you’re ready for the next step - making sure your credit is in top shape to help you get the best possible loan. Understanding your score and what it means Lenders consider your credit score and

your current credit report when deciding whether or not you’re a good credit risk. Your credit score is a number generated by using statistical models that factor in elements from your credit report. The number can change when information on your credit report changes and it’s calculated at the time a lender requests a copy of your credit report. Different lenders may use different scoring methods, so your score may vary from lender to lender. Because credit scores are objective and are based on the information in your credit report, they are a fairer way of determining a person’s risk level. Your score is a prediction of your likelihood to repay debt responsibly, based on your past credit history and current credit status. Before you begin contacting potential lenders, check out your credit report, which can be accessed online at Web sites like Know what’s on your credit report Your credit report is basically a summary of your financial behavior, including how you’ve used credit in the past and how well you manage repaying debt. The information on your report comes from creditors, public records and other reliable sources, which

report it to the credit bureaus through automated processes. Credit reports generally include personal data such as variations on your name, your driver’s license number, Social Security number, birth date, etc. You’ll also find a listing of your credit accounts, when each account was opened and your payment history for each. If you’ve been involved in court action like bankruptcy or monetary judgments, this information will likely appear on your report as well. Your report will also show past requests for your credit reports (inquiries). Too many inquiries on your report might make potential lenders think you are trying to overspend, so think carefully before applying for new credit; inquiries stay on your report for two years. Because your credit report changes every time you use credit, it pays to enroll in a credit monitoring product. Web sites like make it easy to track both your score over time and monitor your credit report, ensuring you know what’s on your report before a potential lender looks at it. Buying a home is likely the largest investment you’ll ever make - one that will impact your credit for many years to come. It pays to understand credit, review your report and know your score. SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2010 33

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