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Property Guide





6 options for funding your home improvement project


How builders can keep radon from entering a home


Outdoor improvements that boost home value


Get your home sold fast with staging


Lighting is a key component of curb appeal


The choice of moving or staying put


How sellers and agents can work together


Maximize the perks of a townhouse lifestyle


Make moving much easier



This custom built 3,633 square foot home is located at 121 Granville Court in Winchester and is listed at $675,000. The home features an open floor plan with hardwood floors, master suite with his and her walk-in closets, finished basement with a kitchenette and media room, front and back covered porches, and a fenced-in back yard. There are two garages and a two-story workshop. The home is located off of Cedar Creek Grade, close to local wineries, farmers markets, and Winchester Medical Center. Sellers are motivated. View this listing online at and search for MLS #1000307486. Photo by Sam at Gateshot Creative.




6 options for funding your next home improvement project

1. Cash-out refinancing: With cash-out refinancing, a person will begin the mortgage process anew with the intention of paying off the current mortgage balance, and then taking out additional funds for other purposes. Cash-out refinancing is a way to tap into a home’s Before starting a home improvement project, either on one’s existing equity for use on improvements or own or with the assistance of a professional contractor, homeother expenses, such owners must first consider the costs involved. According to as college tuition. the home improvement resource HomeAdvisor, more than one-third of homeowners do not understand what hiring a pro- 2. Home equity line of fessional will cost, and then cannot successfully budget and credit: The financial secure financing once they have set their sights on a renova- experts at Bankrate indicate that a HELOC tion project. works like a credit HomeAdvisor says that some of the more popular projects, card, with the house such as remodeling a kitchen or bathroom or building a deck, as collateral. There is can cost, on average, $19,920, $9,274 and $6,919, respectively. a credit limit, and borHomeowners may find that the more expensive renovations rowers can spend up require them to secure some type of financing. Those who to that limit. The interhave never before sought such financing may want to consider est rate may or may not be fixed. However, these options.

the interest may be tax-deductible if the financing is used to improve, buy or build a home. 3. Home equity loan: Individuals also can borrow against equity in their homes with a fixed interest rate through a home equity loan. Most lenders will calculate 80 percent of the home value and subtract a homeowner’s mor tgage balance to figure out how much can be borrowed, according to the financial advisory site The Simple Dollar. 4. Personal loan: Homeowners can shop around at various financial institutions for competitive personal loans to be

used for home improvement purposes. Funds may be approved within one business day, which can be ideal for those who want to begin their improvements soon. 5. Personal line of credit: A personal line of credit allows borrowers to borrow only the money needed at the time, and offers a variable interest rate that is generally lower than fixed loan rates. Again, like a credit card, PLOC gives a person a maximum borrowing amount and is ideal for ongoing purchases. 6. Credit cards: In a pinch, credit cards can be used to finance improvements,

Renovation & New Home Construction

but they do come with the cost of very high interest rates if the balance is not paid in full by the time the bill comes due. However, for funding smaller projects and maximizing rewards points through home improvement retailers or specific credit card company promotions, credit cards can be a way to earn various perks in addition to the benefit of improving a home.

Homeowners looking to finance their next improvements should speak to a financial advisor and shop around for the best types of funding for them.

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How builders can keep radon from entering a home As the world has changed, so, too, have home buyers. The home buyers of today typically want homes that align with life in the 21st century. That means extra outlets for all of our devices and homes pre-wired for high speed internet access. Housing starts, which refers to the number of new residential construction sites, reflect buyers’ demand for newly built homes. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were slightly more than 1.2 million housing starts in September 2018, which marked a sizable increase from a year prior, when 1.158 million new residential constructions broke ground. Though prospective buyers want a host of modern amenities, they also want something valued by homeowners since the dawn of time: safety. Security systems can safeguard homeowners and their families from criminals, but homeowners also must ensure steps are taken to protect a home’s inhabitants from naturally occurring threats, including radon. Radon is a radioactive gas that is produced from the natu-

ral breakdown of the uranium found in most rocks and soil. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, exposure to radon gas is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. Because it’s naturally occurring, radon can infiltrate any home. However, the EPA, working alongside state and federal geologists, has developed maps that predict the potential indoor radon levels for every county in the country. (Note: Radon can pose a health risk when breathed in through outdoor air, but such instances are unusual because radon is typically diluted in open air.) Each county has been assigned a zone depending on its potential radon threat, and those that pose the biggest threat are designated as Zone 1, while those with the lowest threat are Zone 3. Homeowners building their homes can contact their state’s radon office via to determine which zone their property is in. In addition to learning which radon zone they’re in, homeowners building new homes can ask their builders to take the following measures so their homes’ interiors are as resistant to radon as possible.

••Install a layer of clean gravel or aggregate beneath the slab or flooring system. ••Lay polyethylene sheeting on top of the gravel layer. ••Include a gas-tight venting pipe from the gravel level through the building to the roof. ••Seal and caulk the foundation thoroughly. ••Learn more about radon, including how to determine radon levels in your home, at www.




Outdoor improvements that boost home value Whether home improvement projects are design to improve the interior or exterior of a house,

Patios offer a strong ROI, and add useable space to the home.

focusing on renovations that make the most financial sense can benefit homeowners in the long run. The right renovations can be assets if and when homeowners decide to sell their homes. So how does one get started? First and foremost, speak to a local real estate agent who is knowledgeable about trends in the community. While a swimming pool may be something coveted in one area, it may impede sales in another. It also helps to study generalized trends and data from various home improvement industry analysts to guide upcoming projects. The following outdoor projects are just a few renovations that tend to add value.

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Fire pit: A fire pit is a great place to gather most months of the year. Bob Vila and CBS news report that a fire pit realizes a 78 percent return on investment, or ROI. Outdoor kitchen: Many buyers are looking to utilize their yards as an extension of interior living areas. Cooking, dining and even watching TV outdoors is increasingly popular. Outdoor living areas can be custom designed and built. In addition, prefabricated modular units that require a much smaller commitment of time and money are available. Patio: Homeowners who do not already have a

patio will find that adding one can increase a home’s value. Patios help a home look neat, add useable space and may help a home to sell quickly. The experts at Space Wise, a division of Extra Space Storage, say that refinishing, repairing and building a new patio offers strong ROI. Deck: Deck can be as valuable as patios. A deck is another outdoor space that can be used for entertaining, dining and more. Remodeling magazine’s 2018 “Cost vs. Value” report indicates that an $11,000 d e c k c a n a d d about $9,000 in resale value to the home, recouping

around 82 percent of the project’s costs. Door update: Improve curb appeal with a new, high-end front door and garage doors. If that’s too expensive, a good cleaning and new coat of paint can make an old door look brand new. These easy fixes can improve a home’s look instantly. New landscaping: The National Association of Realtors says an outdoor makeover that includes well-thought out landscaping can net 105 percent ROI. Installing a walkway, adding stone planters, mulching, and planting shrubs are ideas to consider.




Get your home sold fast with home staging By JENNY BAKER The Winchester Star

“These days, over 90 percent of buyers search online to view potential listings. It is the pictures that will have a significant impact on whether or not buyers will want to preview your home. Staging takes away the guess work for potential buyers,” said Elizabeth Moseley, owner of Edecor of Winchester, a home staging company. Home stagers like Moseley adds furnishings and accessories to give a home the finishing touches it needs to look “model ready” for listing pictures and showings. Staging can add value to the listing price, and get a home sold faster. “A home stager has a creative talent to turn a property, no matter the style or condition, into a marketing masterpiece. A home stager is compassionate but determined to find the greatest potential and showcase the home so that any potential homeowner can visualize themselves in it,” said Moseley. For a home that is occupied while being shown to buyers, staging involves decluttering, taking away many personal possessions like photographs of family, and organizing. It makes a home look more inviting and allows potential buyers to more easily imagine themselves living there. For homes that have been moved out of completely, staging can be a necessity. “When a home is vacant, the potential buyer can’t visualize themselves living there. I like to create a space that appeals to the market while keeping a welcoming flow,” she said. This means bringing in furniture, art, accessories like throw pillows and blankets, which help define each room. Many home stagers get called in to stage a property after the property has been sitting on the market for months without any offers. Moseley said she’s had several experiences where she has staged such a home, and the home is sold days or weeks later. One misconception of staging is that all new furniture and accessories must be brought in. Moseley said she likes to work with the unique pieces that her clients already have and if needed, mix them with what works from her own collection. The primary living areas like family and living rooms, kitchen, dining room, and master bedroom

Contributed by Edecor

Elizabeth Moseley, owner of Edecor in Winchester, staged this Loudoun County home.

and bathrooms are places that benefit most from staging, according to Moseley. As working from home has become more popular in recent years, Moseley likes to stage a home office as well. When listing a home, Moseley said many homeowners often overlook needed cleaning and areas that need repair. Powerwashing the exterior, cleaning carpets professionally, replacing or cleaning air conditioning vents, and ensuring caulking is in good condition all can make a big impact on potential buyers. Moseley advises against using air fresheners, since many people are sensitive to fragrances. Moseley’s home staging process starts with a two hour consultation which includes a room-byroom walk through, after which she will prepare a report of recommendations. “The consultation report is detailed yet easy to follow. Some Realtors include my consultation services with the listing. It is such a smart tool and makes it easy for both the agent and homeowner to follow.”

She said the the report will have detailed recommendations for homeowners to get the most “staged” look on their own. “I’m available to come back to help if needed, but the consultation process is usually all it takes to make a difference and get the home sold. The consultation as often booked by the agent and then the agent has a guideline as well to hold their client somewhat accountable,” she said. Recommendations can include how to increase curb appeal with exterior and landscaping improvements, decluttering and organization, rearranging furniture, new paint color suggestions, lighting and fixture upgrades, and maintenance issues. She can provide contractor and vendor recommendations as well. If the seller wants to hire Moseley to professionally stage their home, she’ll take it from there. “Hiring a stager is beneficial for the seller and for the Realtor. A home staging consultation is a great tool for a seller and agent to use in order to properly prepare the home for the market,” she said.




Lighting is a key component of curb appeal Curb appeal can affect prospective buyers’ perception of a home. When addressing curb appeal, homeowners may be inclined to focus on features that are easily seen from the street during the day. But what can a homeowner do to improve on his or her home’s nighttime aesthetic? Outdoor lighting is one aspect of curb appeal that is often overlooked,

advises the home improvement experts at The Spruce. Homeowners may fail to recognize the importance of how proper illumination can provide their homes with a warm glow and make it look beautiful after the sun has set. For example, think of how cozy and inviting neighborhoods appear during the holiday season when homes are strung with twinkling lights. Home-

owners can replicate that look all year long with lighting elements. Lighting for evening hours also helps maintain a safe environment for people who are visiting the property. Illuminating walkways and doorways provides a clearly visible and safe path to and from the home. The following are a few ways to improve outdoor lighting.


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pathways, gardens, and all of the elements of softscapes and hardscapes on a proper ty. The lighting experts at Vernon Daniel Associates say that soft lighting can make homes feel war m and cozy. Uplighting trees or other elements can add Play up landscap- a dramatic efing. Stylish light- fect. ing can highlight t r e e s , s h r u b s , Light up all doors. Focus on architectural features. Outdoor lighting can focus on the external features of the home’s architectural style. Use light to draw attention to interesting gables, dramatic roof lines, dormers, or curved entryways.

Make sure that doors, both entr y and garage, are properly lit for ease of entry and egress from the home., a home and personal security resource, says a home burglary occurs every 15 seconds in the United States. Installing motion-activated lights or lights on timers can deter break-ins. Con-

sider using home automation to control porch lights and other outdoor lights remotely, if necessary. Create entertaining areas. Outdoor lighting can be used to extend the hours residents can spend outside. This is great for entertaining and can be an excellent selling point.




The choice of moving on or staying put Many home improvement television series showcase people deciding whether to improve upon their current homes to make them into the houses of their dreams or to put “for sale” signs in their lawns and move on to something new. The question of whether to move or stay put depends on various factors. Such factors may include emotional attachment to a home, the current economic climate and the cost of real estate. Current data points to

a greater propensity for people to invest and improve upon their current properties rather than trading up for something new. According to information collected by John Burns Real Estate Consulting, the percentage of homeowners moving up to their next home is the lowest in 25 years. Many are opting to make starter homes permanent by expanding them and repairing homes for the long haul. The National Associa-

tion of Realtors said that, between 1987 and 2008, home buyers stayed in their homes an average of six years before selling. Since 2010, however, NAR says the average expected length of time people will stay in their homes before selling is now 15 years. Part of what’s fueling this permanency is that many home buyers were able to acquire rock-bottom mortgage interest rates shortly after the 2008 recession. As a result, they’re not inclined

to walk away from those rates, even if doing so means getting more house. Also, a low inventory of available houses has stymied repeat buying for many people. Those factors and others have led many homeowners to invest

in renovations instead. The experts at Bankrate say realistic budgeting and comparing renovation project costs against mortgages and interests rates can further help individuals decide whether to remain in their current homes or move out. Very

often a smarter layout and more efficient floor plan can make meaningful differences in spaces. Renovations and redesigns can make sense and often are less expensive and disruptive than moving.

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How sellers and agents can work together Selling a home can be stressful. Despite this, 5.51 million existing U.S. homes were sold in 2017, according to data from the National Association of Realtors. In many cases, homeowners choose to work with real estate agents to facilitate the process of listing, showing and selling their homes. Real estate agents are valuable assets. Agents have neighborhood knowledge, are educated in pricing trends, can filter phone calls or emails from buyers who aren’t serious, and can organize all of the people necessary for a closing. Real estate agents provide many services that the average person may not have the time nor the experience to handle. When selecting an agent to sell a home, homeowners may not understand that the terms real estate agent and Realtor are not interchangeable. Although both must be licensed to sell real estate, the main difference between a real estate agent and a Realtor is the latter is a member of the National Association of Realtor. NAR ensures that members subscribe to a certain code of ethics. There are many qualified agents, but an agent cannot do his or her job well without some help on the part of the homeowner. These tips can make the process of selling a home go smoothly.

“Skilled Selling Since Sixty-Six”

Price the home correctly. Homeowners should trust the agent’s ability to price a home for the market. Everyone wants to get the most money possible, but listing the home for more than it’s worth may cause it to sit unnecessarily for several weeks or months, which could raise red flags among potential buyers.

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Market the home. A real estate agent will list the home via a multiple listing service (MLS) on a private website, in newspapers, and wherever else he or she feels is pertinent. Homeowners can share the listing via social media and word of mouth to help increase the chances of selling the home.

Mark E. Pangle, Broker/ Auctioneer Robert “Tip” Pangle, Broker/Auctioneer Melissa R. Kibler, Realtor (540) 459-2113 • (540) 335-2113 • 933 S. Main St. • Woodstock, VA 22664



Be available. Limiting the time an agent can show the house to potential buyers is in no one’s best interest. Sellers should be ready and willing to open their homes, which is the

best way to make a sale. An agent may suggest a lock box so the home can be shown when homeowners are not on the property. Make suggested renovations. Agents know which features can make or break a sale. Homeowners should be amenable to certain suggestions, such as neutral paint colors, removing personal effects and clearing clutter. Give recommendations. Real estate is a commission-based industry. Agents often tirelessly put in hours and only reap rewards if the house is sold. A homeowner who was satisfied with an agent can then recommend that person to friends or family. By working with real estate professionals, homeowners can sell their homes quickly.




Maximize the perks of a townhouse lifestyle Townhouse living is experiencing a resurgence, and many people may be surprised to find how this lifestyle choice fits with their home ownership goals. Townhouses are a great way to get the benefits of single-family living without all of the responsibility of having a detached property — typically at a more affordable price. indicates that the median prices for townhomes and row homes in the United States in September 2016 was $198,000. Townhomes are now the fastest-growing segment of the single-family housing construction market, according to the National Association of Home Builders, a trade group based in Washington, D.C. According to the most recent data available, townhouse construction was up 17.8 percent between 2014 and 2015. Although various styles of homes and apartments have their pros and cons, townhouse communities have much to offer and can be the way to go for busy professionals or people who live active lifestyles. Here is a look at some of the benefits of living in a townhome.

Ownership. Unlike an apartment, townhome residents own their homes and the land they’re built on, according to the lifestyle resource The Nest. Spacious square footage. Townhouse builders are masters at maximizing interior space through innovative design. Depending on where you live, a simple search on Trulia or Zillow can yield many townhomes that boast anywhere from 1,500to 3,000-square-foot

townhomes with three or more bedrooms. Maintenance. Townhouse communities often collect a maintenance or homeowner’s association fee each month that covers upkeep of the grounds. Depending on the area, this fee may cover the cost of leaf and snow removal, landscaping and pool maintenance. That gives homeowners more time to relax on weekends. Amenities. Many town-

house communities are now designed with lifestyle in mind. Moder n townhouses may have tennis cour ts, resor t-style swimming pools, fitness centers, walking trails, and children’s playgrounds right on the premises. In addition to the parks and fitness areas, many of these communities have common areas and green spaces that enable residents to meet and socialize. This affords townhome residents ample opportunities to

socialize. Proximity to town. Whether they’re in the city or suburbs, townhouse communities tend to be built in booming areas that are close to trendy towns, shopping, metro hubs, and good schools. To w n h o m e s b o a s t m a ny a d v a n t a g e s and should be given ample consideration by prospective home buyers.




Make moving much easier It should come as no surprise that spring kicks off one of the busiest times of year in the housing market. Warm weather makes it more comfortable to see and display homes, leading to more listings and open houses. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average person in the United States changes residences more than 11 times in his or her lifetime. With each move, the process of moving may become more familiar. But even the most practiced nomad can find moving to be an overwhelming experience. Those on the cusp of moving and nervous about packing up and leaving can employ a few tricks to make moving much easier.

Research areas carefully. Buyers are advised to do their research when seeking new towns or cities to call home. There are many factors to consider, including school district ratings, proximity to shopping, distance from work/commute times, availability of transportation, climate, and crime ratings.Before falling in love with a particular home, potential buyers can visit the area in which the home is located during a typical weekday to get a feel for the atmosphere. Check out shopping centers, observe the residents and drive by the schools and businesses. This can help paint an accurate picture that may or may not differ from that

depicted in the real estate listing. Stack the deck. Wo r k in g with qualified professionals who have gone through the moving process before can make for easier work for buyers and sellers. Ask for recommendations regarding real estate companies, real estate attorneys, home inspectors, insurance agents, and all of the other people who will assist with buying, selling and moving. Carefully vet these professionals, relying on third-party reviews as well as any information provided by the Better Business Bureau. Secure temporary storage. It can help to put some be-

longings into a storage center prior to moving, and then gradually take items from the storage unit to your new home. This will free up space to make repairs to your new home and give you time to figure out decorating schemes while ensuring clutter won’t get in the way of renovation projects. New homeowners also can take their time sorting through boxes and getting rid of items they may not need in their new homes. Get estimates and verify licensing. The BBB advises consumers to verify all licensing for movers. Solicit at least three in-home estimates and get those fig-

ures in writing. Confirm insurance coverage for the company chosen, and be sure to have all agreed upon information spelled out explicitly in a written contract. Red flags to consider include movers who don’t make on-site inspections for estimates and those who demand payment in advance before the move. Have a first-week sur vival kit. New homeowners can pick up takeout restaurant menus and premade grocery store meals. In addition, stock up on staples such as paper plates, toilet tissue, light bulbs, and cleaning supplies in advance of the move so you

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Winchester Star Property Guide - February 2019  

Winchester Star Property Guide - February 2019