Top Tips To Improve Your Home Curb Appeal

Tips to improve home curb appeal

“Curb appeal” is a term you hear often when talking about buying and selling a home, but first impressions are just as important when it comes to rental properties. A surprising number of renters and buyers will pass on a property without even seeing the inside of the home if the exterior appears uninviting or not maintained. There are many easy and inexpensive ways to improve the curb appeal of your property, which in turn will help increase property value and get your property rented or sold faster.

Take a critical look to identify any repairs that need to be made before listing your property. Look for loose, missing or damaged siding and brickwork, a cracked or uneven foundation, and gutters, downspouts or fences that are in disrepair. Neglected repairs on the outside can give potential renters or buyers the impression that the property is not maintained on the inside.

Check the driveway and sidewalks for weeds and clutter. Clean and declutter patio, deck, and front porch areas. Sometimes, simply pressure washing your patio, deck, or porch can make a huge difference in appearance. Painting or staining the front door and buying a new doormat can go a long way to making the entryway feel more welcoming. Make sure all the exterior lights are working, and that pathways and entryways are well lit. Replace the mailbox if it is dented or rusty looking, and repaint or add house numbers if they are not easy to see from the street.

Read full article here.

Article written by Allison B.

Original source


HUD-1 Closing Process Upcoming Changes

Changes to HUD-1 closing process August 1 2015

The HUD1 Settlement Statement  is a document that lists all charges and credits to the buyer and to the seller in a real estate settlement. In transactions that do not include a seller, such as a refinance loan, the settlement agent may use the shortened HUD-1A form.

On August 1, 2015 the HUD 1 will be replaced by the new Closing Disclosure and the new Loan Estimate will be replacing the Good Faith Estimate and the Trust in Lending Disclosure.

Closing Disclosure: Consumers will receive this form three business days before closing on a loan. It replaces the final Truth in Lending statement and the HUD-1 settlement statement, and provides a detailed accounting of the transaction.

  • •  The new form is now 5 pages a long instead of 3 pages
  • •  This form must be given to the borrower 3 business days before closing instead of 24 hours before closing
  • •  First page of the Closing Disclosure carries much of the same information as the Trust in Lending form does
  • •  Page 2 and 3 resemble the HUD 1 explaining fee’s and closing cost
  • •  Explaining more in detailed about cash to close
  • •  Page 4 has a great easy to read section explaining escrow
  • •  Last page provides a quick summary of the loan calculations, contact information and other disclosures

Loan Estimate: This form will be provided to consumers within three business days after they submit a loan application. It replaces the early Truth in Lending statement and the Good Faith Estimate, and provides a summary of the key loan terms and estimated loan and closing costs. Consumers can use this new form to compare the costs and features of different loans.

  • •  Lenders must provide the borrower the Loan Estimate 3 business days after application is submitted by the consumer
  • •  Page 1 will provide the borrower with a breakdown of loan terms, projected payments and closing cost
  • •  Page 2 breakdowns the closing cost details
  • •  Page 3 explains additional information about the loan and also shows your APR.

You can familiarize yourself with these new forms on the website of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which has taken over administration of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) from HUD. Just go to and type in the name of the forms in the search box. Current forms can be very confusing to borrowers; and they are lacking important information like cash needed to close and total principal, interest, taxes, and insurance (PITI) payment. There is not even a place for a signature on the existing form.

NAR is recommending that all forms are ready seven days prior to closing, so when you go into the three-day period, you don’t have to make any changes. Because making changes as the clock winds down comes with a cumbersome  set of hurdles. During this time period no APR changes, program changes, interest rate, loan amount, lender charges, and affiliate charges are allowed to change. If changes do occur, the three-day waiting period starts anew.

What this means is, you and the other settlement service providers, including the lender and title agent, have to get everything ready and figured out earlier than you have to today. Buyers and sellers have to be cooperative as well, because if last-minute changes are made, a new three-day waiting period kicks in, at least in some cases.

The CFPB’s goal in making these changes is to increase transparency for consumers. Currently, it is very common for documents to be sent to the title company one to two days in advance and the loan to close immediately afterward. This new waiting period will force borrowers, lenders, and real estate agents to alter their timelines and rework their processes to ensure a smooth and stress-free closing. This will be a challenge for everyone involved and used to having documents ready the day before or even the morning of settlement.

Read full article here.

Article written by Betty Best

Original source: Key Home

Things People Want In A Smart Home

What people want in a smart home

Smart home technology isn’t just about home security anymore. Like something out of a futuristic movie, utilities, lighting, doors, and windows can be monitored and accessed through smartphones, tablets, and other devices. Barcodes in refrigerators can track when staple items are running low and automatically add them to your grocery list. Sensors in washing machines and dishwashers can tell just how dirty your clothes or dishes are and optimize the wash cycle. Home owners are increasingly connecting everything from home security to energy usage to their various devices.

What is it that makes a home smart? In the most general sense, a smart home has automated controls for climate, entertainment technologies, intelligent appliances, green materials, and energy solutions that are all connected. Smart home technology has advanced in recent years, and these advancements have made it more affordable, but many of these technologies are still pricey, and are not without risks. New homes can be designed to take full advantage of the latest green materials and technologies, while older homes may be limited by existing electrical systems which can be costly to update.

In this growing market, what is it that consumers want in a smart home? According to research conducted by Icontrol Networks, a home technology company, security is one of the most important reasons for using a smart-home system. 67% of those surveyed rank it the number 1 reason, and the majority of consumers say security is a must have in any home automation. Fire and carbon monoxide alarms, as well as gas leak alarms, were listed as the top features in home security monitoring desired by consumers.

According to the survey, energy management was the second most important thing consumers want when choosing smart home technology. Reducing utility bills through HVAC heating and cooling management was listed as the most important thing consumers want. Almost 43% of respondents said they would be interested in upgrading to an automated thermostat that adjusts the temperature when the home is occupied. According to Energy Star, programmable thermostats can save consumers around $180 annually. Other options to optimize energy efficiency are on-demand tankless gas water heaters that turn on only when hot water is being used rather than constantly heating a large tank of water like traditional hot water heaters. While initially more expensive to install, tankless hot water heaters can reduce water heating cost by up to 35% annually. Automatic dimmers on lighting can adjust lighting based on the time of day or turn off completely when a room is empty, and automated blinds and drapes are an eco-savvy development to window treatments that allow residents to program their window treatments to open or close depending on outside conditions.

Home appliances are also becoming more intelligent. Some of the new ranges and refrigerators have a built-in ability to look up recipes and set the temperature and timer. They even have internal diagnostic systems that will email the dealer and the homeowner if servicing is needed. New appliances also have safety features that allow you to deactivate the controls and reactivate them with a smartphone. Many of the newer smart appliances are significantly more expensive than standard appliances, and while they are great luxury items, if energy efficiency is your goal then an Energy Star approved appliance might be a less costly option for now.

Read full article here.

Original article written by Betty Best.

Source: Key Home

Property Managers in Burke VA and Tax Advantages

Burke VA property manager

Key Home Sales and Management is a full service real estate and property management company servicing the entire Northern Virginia region, including Fairfax and Arlington counties. We are dedicated to providing property management services that is hands-on, friendly, responsive, and above all, caring. Our property management company is specialized in residential homes, including single family homes, townhouses and condos in and around Arlington and Fairfax counties.

Burke VA Property Managers Have Tax Advantages

Having rental properties could mean long-term income if the property owner is able to keep tenants in their properties. Landlords who still have a professional job might not be able to devote the necessary time to take care of their properties. Hiring a qualified property management company in Burke Virginia to help, can offer numerous advantages, including some tax benefits.

Tax Deduction

As a property owner, any professional services they need in order to maintain their investment could be tax-deductible. This means getting the services of property managers can potentially lower the tax dues of the property owner after the tax deduction.

Burke, Virginia – Property Management Services 

Key Home property managers do not just offer tax-deductible services for the property owner; we also offer serious management. Part of our job is handling and issuing all the necessary paperwork between the property owner and the tenant. When the tax season comes, this can be very helpful, especially for property owners who are not specifically organized or skilled at bookkeeping. The property owner can then take the highest credits and deductions they are allowed to get. They can miss this opportunity if the paperwork had not been easily sortable or organized.

Read full article here.

Original article written by Betty Best

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Simple DIY Home Improvements

Simple DIY home removations

Home improvement is such a broad topic. Due to the fact that it provides such a large array of alternatives, home improvement can seem a bit challenging and overwhelming. Many people may think they need a professional to do these seemingly time consuming, impossible tasks. The important things is: you can do it yourself! This short article concentrates on teaching you how to finish simple, everyday house improvements on your own, no contractor needed. Prior to you know it, you will be so smart in home repair, all your buddies will be knocking on your door for aid with their homes!

Home improvement is typically a daunting job. This is due to the fact that of the time and the amounts of cash required. However, it does not have to be so bad. If you have numerous tasks in your residence, divide them up into a number of smaller Do It Yourself tasks. For instance you may wish to redo the whole living-room. Start easy, by just replacing the carpeting, and before you know it, your living-room will resemble new.

Enhance your home by installing ceiling fans in your rooms. Ceiling fans can help you conserve energy when you have to heat or cool your house. In the summertime, the fan can produce a breeze that has a cooling result in the space. In the winter, when the spinning direction is reversed, the fan can recirculate warm air, meanings that less work is needed from your heating system.

Think about utilizing heat tiles if you’re revamping your flooring. Radiant heat tiles use electrical energy to heat the tiles and keep your feet warm. Thankfully, it’s easy to install them yourself if you have the ability to follow directions. So, this type of project is one that you can broaden upon, regardless of whether you try it yourself or get expert assistance. You’ll be grateful you did the first winter season early morning that you walk into your bathroom.

If you don’t have sufficient area for a little office, you can use a small portion of your living-room for that function. Purchase a little personal privacy screen and location a desk behind it with a coordinating chair. You can acquire little shelves to install on your wall to save your pens, pencils, staplers and other essential items.

Never ever overlook an electrical system upgrade when you are making house improvements to offering your home for sale. Older houses are woefully unequipped for the needs of contemporary home appliances and electronics. Even recently-built homes may do not have the power systems that the current gizmos need. Setting up a completely current electrical service will make your home stand out to potential buyers.

Would you like to know what’s your home worth? Click here.

See? That was not so gruelingly hard, was it? While home improvement might appear like it is something you ought to pay someone else to do, you can save money and do it yourself! The do-it-yourself tips found in body of this short article explain exactly how to do it, all the while making your tasks enjoyable and easy.

For more tips on DIY home projects, click here.



Advantages of Using Alexandria VA Property Management Company

Northern VA rental management company

It is quite a good idea to work with Alexandria VA professional management company to manage rental homes. In the beginning, it may appear simply an extra cost, but when landlords think about the benefits of having property supervisors, it is in fact nearly not an expense at all.

Property management business make the life of proprietors more hassle-free due to the fact that home managers can deal with the tedious tasks that go along with having properties. Additionally, they could help business grow and the landowner can just use their time with other things they have an interest in. There are a great deal of other needs to work with a property management company.

Better Screening Capabilities

A professional Alexandria VA property management services encounters countless applications. Given that they have the appropriate training, they know exactly what to watch out for when inspecting paperwork. Building supervisors carry out a long, however efficient technique in selecting renters. Allowing them to screen the candidates would indicate having better quality renters.


Considering that an excellent Alexandria VA property management company is experienced in their field, this gives them the understanding to meet their jobs that homeowners may not have the ability to do. Building managers comprehend every detail of all the elements about home management from evaluating to dealing with tenants and knowing the laws connected with possessing properties.

Occupants Can Talk with Somebody Right away

If something needs instant attention, the homeowner does not have to go to the unit and inspect the issue, especially if they are not local. If a knowledgeable Alexandria VA property management company is in control of managing the home, renters can talk to somebody who can take care of their issues so the property owner will not be bothered.

On Time Payment

A good building management business will certainly concentrate on their jobs on collecting rent. The secret to obtaining rental fees on time is to be consistent with rent collection. An Alexandria VA building management company would impose rental policies if payments are not received. Through this, homeowner do not have to worry when issues including rent payments will occur.

More Freedom

When a homeowner has a property manager, they can live and invest anywhere they desire without the constraint of having to be close to the properties. Furthermore, they do not have to be available whenever there is a concern on the rental homes. It does not matter if they live in the same state as long as they have a reliable Alexandria VA home management business. Some homeowner even live abroad and just gather their check monthly without really seeing their properties.

Avoid Anxiety

Homeowners do not have to handle mountains of documents, tenants triggering problems on the building, chasing after rental payments, and kicking out renters, among others since a professional Alexandria VA rental management company can do all that.

Why Hire a Property Manager in Lorton VA

Why hire a property management firm in Lorton VA

Hiring Lorton VA rental managers can be extremely helpful, specially if you have multiple properties to manage. A lot of property owners handle their rentals with the help of a resident manager or just by themselves. However, in some cases landlords may need professional help, and this is the time that they need to think about employing a home management company.

What Property Managers in Lorton VA Do

Home managers directly deal with tenants and leads, conserving time for the property owners and assisting lessen concerns on rental marketing, collecting rent, handling repair and maintenance, pursuing expulsions, and handling occupant complaints. Great Lorton VA rental managers bring their competence to the building, providing peace of mind for the landowner understanding their possession is in good hands.

When to Hire Property Managers

There are specific considerations to know if employing a professional property manager. Landowners must work with property managers if:

  • They do not live near the rental home– Lorton VA home supervisors can be instrumental in managing numerous matters that the property owner can not handle from afar.
  • They have a lot of rental units or homes– property owners who have great deals of rental units might not have the ability to properly manage their possessions, so they can make the most of a property management company.
  • They have actually restricted time– Even if they wish to handle their buildings on their own, landowners might not have the time to do so. Lorton VA property managers can assist in changing business structure, handling finance for renovations, and trying to find brand-new buildings.
  • They do not want hands-on management– Many landowners consider their rental homes only as an investment. So, they have little or no interest in the daily management, and this is when building managers can be valuable.
  • They are suddenly flooded with management tasks– If the business is growing, there comes a time that the landowner feels they require help to properly manage everything, and it would make sense to hire property managers.
  • The home is part of an affordable real estate program– Real estate programs can cause problems. Generally, the property owner gets financial support, which could be a low interest loan, tax credits, or a grant, in exchange for allowing occupants who make lower than a certain income bracket to lease a part of their property. Lorton VA rental managers have the experience in handling such housing programs.
  • They do not want to be a company– Property management services are independent contractors. Unlike in employing a resident supervisor, property owners do not have to handle payroll and legal requirements when they employ a property management business.

Tips on Finding a Professional Management Company

Here are a few of the methods to find an excellent Lorton VA rental managers:

  • Get references from associates and the regional home association.
  • Interview property managers to respond to all concerns prior to having them take control of.
  • Browse the Web to discover expert building supervisors.

For more information about professional management services in Lorton VA, click here.


Home Renovations That Increase Home Value

Increase home value tips

There are many things that can be done to add value to the property, when you are looking to sell your Northern VA house or even if you are just looking to redesign your current home. Once you get these improvements done, they may look very good, but some of them may not add a significant amount of value to your home, simply costing you a great deal of money. Put these ideas to good use so that you can be more comfortable in your own surroundings, and get the best sale price for your home later on.

Remodeling Your Kitchen Is A Great Place to Start

Many home buyers consider the kitchen the heart of a home. Since most families spend more waking hours in their kitchens than any other room, it is the first place you should consider remodeling. You could get back up to 80% of your monetary investment with the increase of your home value after a kitchen remodel. Depending upon the choices you make in appliance selection, you may even experience an immediate savings in energy costs.

When planning your kitchen renovation, it is important to keep in mind the architecture and design of the rest of your home. If your kitchen design clashes with the rest of the house this could drive away prospective buyers. If you are not sure where to begin, you might start with your built-in appliances, a very popular feature in today’s homes. If in doubt, an interior designer can be very helpful, especially in effective use of space.

Adding A Second Bathroom

An additional bathroom is also a great way of increasing the value of your home. This home improvement may give you back 80 to 100 percent of your renovation costs.

Read full article here.

Article written by Betty Best

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Mother’s Day Activities in Northern VA

Northern VA Mother's Day Activities

Mother’s Day is Sunday May 10, and if you haven’t made plans, there are plenty of fun things to do throughout Northern Virginia this weekend. Many of the area’s attractions are even offering free admission to moms!

Are you near Alexandria? Spend the day exploring the unique history of Old Town Alexandria and enjoy a meal at one of the many fabulous restaurants, meet Martha Washington at her beautiful Mt. Vernon Estate, or enjoy a garden tour and tea at historic Green Spring. Is Lorton closer to home? Take a tour of George Mason’s Gunston Hall, then shop for some fresh produce or baked goods for a special Mother’s Day dinner at the Workhouse Arts Center Farmer’s Market. If Springfield is more convenient, you can start the day with some exercise by participating in the annual Mother’s Day 5k Run/Walk at Lake Accotink, then come back later for a cruise around the lake! There’s a wonderful home and garden tour scheduled for Saturday in Arlington, or you can begin your Sunday morning with a 2.5 mile hike through the Gulf Branch Nature Center.

Below is more information on some of the various activities happening this weekend. Whatever you decide to do, enjoy your special day!

Free Mother’s Day tours at Gadsby’s Tavern Museum  134 N. Royal Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. Sunday May 10, 1-5pm.  Treat Mom to a tour of the historic tavern and City Hotel made famous by John Gadsby. Free for moms, regular admission for family and friends.

Free Mother’s Day tours at Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum  105-107 S. Fairfax Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. Sunday May 10, 1-5pm.  See the outstanding collection of apothecary bottles and equipment, many still in their original location. Free for moms, regular admission for family and friends.

Read full article here.

Original article written by Allison Baker

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For more information about property management in the Northern VA area, click here.

Why Hire A Property Manager in Lorton VA?

Property manager in Lorton VA

DID YOU KNOW that in Lorton VA property management doesn’t require a license?!

Virtually anyone could tell you they are a “Lorton VA property manager” and hold your tenant’s rent, and your home, in their unwatched and untrained hands. Amazing but true.
On the other hand, all real estate agents ARE required by Virginia law to be licensed and obey all rules regarding handling of client money (only a broker can hold rent and security deposits, not a real estate salesperson). But most real estate agents specialize in buying and selling homes, and do not manage properties on a day-to-day basis. While these agents are great at selling homes, most do not understand:

  • the dangers of improper tenant screening
  • the consequences of failing to abide by terms of the lease
  • how to manage difficult tenants or collect late rent
  • how to evict efficiently
  • how to troubleshoot maintenance issues without wasting the owner’s money

Key Home’s Lorton VA Rental Management
At Key Home Management, we are both real estate agents AND professional property managers. We are members of NARPM (National Association of Residential Property Management) and we are held to a higher standard. We are a fully licensed Property Management Firm in Virginia.

Why Is Key Home’s Lorton VA Property Management different from other property management firms?

  • We keep up with the latest legislation and trends in landlord/tenant affairs.
  • We understand difficult issues such as eviction, tenant rights, mold, military transfers, etc. and know how to respond.
  • All rent and security deposits are property handled and accounted for — we follow the rules.

Read full article here.

Article written by Betty Best.

Original source: