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Archive for November 2014

Military Relocation to Hampton Roads

Hampton Roads is surrounded with Military Families. From Newport News to Virginia Beach, our area is abundant with military bases and resources.

Relocation plays a major role in the military lifestyle. A variety of services are offered across Hampton Roads to assist active duty military personnel and their families in successfully managing the mobile military lifestyle.

Personal Relocation Assistance: Sometimes you will get transition information with your command, but you can always opt for a one-on-one consultation with an experienced relocation counselor at a Fleet and Family Support Center. They can help you with extensive information and referral services.

Relocation Workshops:
 All transferring singles, couples and family members are encouraged to attend:

Over Seas Transfer Workshop: This helpful, single-session workshop is a great way to prepare yourself and your family for the challenging adventure of working overseas. Information will be provided on household goods and auto shipment, financial planning, travel arrangements and passports, personal security, and culture shock. Open to active duty members, spouses, and dependents 12 years and older.

  • Welcome to Hampton Roads
  • Transferring to a new duty station? This single-session workshop offers tips to help make your move as “painless” as possible! Topics include hints on shipping household goods, travel and financial planning, entitlements, family preparation, and ways to reduce relocation stress. Open to all active duty, retiring, and separating military personnel, and their families.
  • In-addition, a Foreign Born Spouse workshop addresses concerns about life in the U.S. A follow-on Foreign-Born Spouse group meets monthly at the Oceana FFSC.

Plan My Move: Find the right allowances and support services to help you with your move at the Military Home Front Website.

The Sponsor Program: Some command’s have a sponsor program set up to enhance morale and readiness and provide a strong start to newly reporting personnel and their families. Ask about it.

Fleet and Family Support Centers: Find more resources and information at the Fleet and Family Support Centers of Hampton Roads.

How to Be Energy Efficient This Fall

How To Be Energy Efficient This Fall

Summer has been over and Fall is really here, temperatures in Hampton Roads are beginning to drop, and you’re dreading having to turn the heat on for the first time. Firing up the furnace can burn a hole in your pocket, but there’s something you can do about it. Consider these tips to help lower your heating bill.
Replace Your Air Filters

Get new air filters for your central heating and cooling. The filters get clogged and it takes more and more energy to keep your house warm. Be sure to clear out any dust bunnies or cobwebs from behind the filter. Use a vacuum if necessary.
Does Your Attic Need Insulation?

Heat rises, and if your attic is not adequately insulated, then your central heating system will be stuck sending all your hot air (and your heating bill) straight through the roof. There are three options for attic insulation: roll on insulation, spray on insulation, or polyurethane foam. Roll on insulation is the best option for the do-it-yourselfers out there, but you might consider using polyurethane foam if you plan to turn that attic space into a bedroom.
Caulk Up The Windows

Cold air is constantly sneaking into your house through the cracks in your window. Use a temporary silicone caulk to seal up your windows during the winter. When you’re ready to open them up again in the spring, the silicone caulk will crack right off without damaging the paint.
Wrap Your Pipes

Wrapping your pipes will insulate them from the cold to prevent freezing, as well as saving you money on energy bills. Use a special insulation sleeve from the hardware store or do it the old fashioned way with heat tape. This is especially important if you have pipes in a crawlspace or basement that isn’t insulated.
Let The Light In

You don’t have to buy special panels to take advantage of solar power. Open the curtains on south-facing windows, and heat up your house the natural way. With the sun’s help, you won’t need to bump your thermostat up as often.
Be Smart With The Thermostat

Don’t be afraid to turn your thermostat down a little bit. If you’re leaving the house for a while, bump it down a few degrees and give your system a rest. Try throwing an extra blanket on the bed and dropping a few degrees before bed. You’ll only see a difference on your bill.
Look for more real estate and household tips upcoming on our Blog, and be sure to like our Facebook page to stay up to date with current listings and market trends! https://www.facebook.com/southerlandrealestate

The Cold Weather is Here.. Prepare Your Home!

Let’s face it, your home is your largest investment. You want to take every step to protect it. Getting your home prepared (inside and outside), can save you thousands of dollars from repairs in the cold winter months. Also, by being proactive, you’ll lower your energy bills, increase the efficiency and lifespan of your home’s components, and make your property safer.

Here in Hampton Roads, we are more fortunate than our more northern states that we don’t typically have a long winter full of snow and ice storms. However, if this winter is anything like last year, you will want to be prepared! With any winter season, the cold can bring on a lot of damage with freezing pipes and heating problems.

Here are just a few winter preparation tips:

Windows and Doors

  • Check all the weatherstripping around windows and doorframes for leaks to prevent heat loss. Replace weatherstripping, if necessary.
  • Replace all screen doors with storm doors.
  • Replace all window screens with storm windows.
  • Examine wooden window frames for signs of rot or decay. Repair or replace framing to maintain structural integrity.
  • Check for drafts around windows and doors. Caulk inside and out, where necessary, to keep heat from escaping.
  • Inspect windows for cracks, broken glass, or gaps. Repair or replace, if needed.

 

Lawn, Garden, and Deck

  • Trim overgrown branches back from the house and electrical wires to prevent iced-over or wind-swept branches from causing property damage or a power problem.
  • Aerate the lawn, reseed, and apply a winterizing fertilizer to promote deep-root growth come spring.
  • Ensure rain or snow drains away from the house to avoid foundation problems. The dirt grade — around the exterior of your home — should slope away from the house. Add extra dirt to low areas, as necessary.
  • Clean and dry patio furniture. Cover with a heavy tarp or store inside a shed or garage to protect it from the elements.
  • Clean soil from planters. Bring pots made of clay or other fragile materials indoors. Because terra cotta pots can swell and crack, lay them on their sides in a wood carton.
  • Dig up flower bulbs, brush off soil, and label. Store bulbs in a bag or box with peat moss in a cool, dry place for spring replanting.
  • Remove any attached hoses and store them away for the winter to prevent cracks, preserve their shapes, and prolong their life. Wrap outside faucets with covers to prevent water damage.
  • Shut off exterior faucets. Drain water from outdoor pipes, valves, and sprinkler heads to protect against pipe bursts.
  • Inspect decks for splintering, decay, or insect damage and treat, if needed, to prevent further deterioration over the winter.
  • Clean leaves, dirt, and pine needles between the boards of wooden decks to thwart mold and mildew growth.
  • Inspect outdoor lighting around the property. Good illumination will help minimize the chance of accidents on icy walkways at night.
  • Check handrails on exterior stairs to make sure they’re well secured.

 

Tools and Machinery

  • Bring all seasonal tools inside and spray them with a coating of lightweight oil to prevent rust.
  • Weatherize your lawn mower by cleaning off mud, leaves, grass, and debris.
  • Move your snow blower and shovels to the front of the garage or shed for easy access.
  • Prepare the snow blower for the first snowfall by changing the oil and replacing the spark plug.
  • Sharpen ice chopper and inspect snow shovels to make sure they’re ready for another season of work.
  • Make sure you have an ample supply of ice melt or sand on hand for steps, walkways, and the driveway.

 

Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning

  • Inspect the firebox and flue system to ensure that they’re clean of any soot or creosote and that there aren’t any cracks or voids that could cause a fire hazard.
  • Check fireplace for drafts. If it’s cold despite the damper being closed, the damper itself may be warped, worn, or rusted. Consider installing a Chimney Balloon into the flue to air seal the area tightly.
  • Clean or replace the air filter in your furnace for maximum efficiency and improved indoor air quality.
  • Clean your whole house humidifier and replace the evaporator pad.
  • Bleed valves on any hot-water radiators to increase heating efficiency by releasing air that may be trapped inside.
  • Check that smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are in working order.
  • Remove air conditioners from windows or cover them with insulated liners, to prevent drafts.
  • If you have an older thermostat, replace it with a programmable unit to save on heating costs.
  • Install foam-insulating sheets behind outlets and switch plates on exterior walls to reduce outside airflow.
  • Make sure fans are switched to the reverse or clockwise position, which will blow warm air down to the floor for enhanced energy efficiency and comfort.
  • Flush a hot water heater tank to remove sediment, and check the pressure relief valve to make sure it’s in proper working order.
  • Examine exposed ducts in the attic, basement, and crawl spaces, and use a sealant to plug up any leaks.

 

Gutters, Roof, and Drains

  • Check for missing, damaged or warped shingles and replace, as necessary before you get stuck with a leak.
  • Check for deteriorated flashing at the chimney, walls, and skylights and around vent pipes. Seal joints where water could penetrate, using roofing cement and a caulking gun.
  • Check the gutters and downspouts for proper fastening, and re-secure if loose or sagging. The weight of snow and ice can pull gutters off the house.
  • Clean gutters of any debris. Make sure downspouts extend away from the house by at least 5 feet to prevent flooding of the foundation and water damage from snowmelt.
  • Clean leaves and debris from courtyard and pool storm drains to prevent blockages.
  • Ensure all vents and openings are covered to prevent insects, birds, and rodents from getting inside to nest in a warm place.

Done?! Great! Now you can stay inside where its warm, next to the fireplace and wait for winter to be over!

 

Mortgage Tax Relief and Lower Down Payments

With the turn in the economy, also comes call for changes in mortgage restrictions.

Source: National Association of Realtors

Call for Action: Mortgage Forgiveness Tax Relief
During the NAR Conference & Expo in New Orleans, NAR launched an all-member “Call for Action” (CFA) on “The Mortgage Forgiveness Tax Relief Act.”  This bill would extend an expired provision that has helped millions of distressed American families by allowing tax relief for homeowners when lenders forgive some portion of the mortgage debt they owe.  The provision expired last Dec. 31st and it is imperative to get it extended before impacted homeowners have to file their 2014 income tax.  The Call for Action asks all REALTORS® to contact their Member of Congress and United States Senators and urge an immediate vote when the “Lame Duck” session begins following the election.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to Accept Lower Down payments At the 2014 REALTORS® Conference and Expo, Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mel Watt announced that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are working on “sensible and responsible” guidelines to ensure borrowers who take out low-down-payment loans can afford to repay them. Director Watt stated that there are creditworthy borrowers who have enough income to afford monthly mortgage payments but not a large downpayment and closing costs. He said FHFA will offer loans with as little as 3 percent required up front from borrowers. Additionally, because downpayment size is not the best indicator of whether a borrower has the ability to repay, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will also evaluate the full financial picture of a borrower, including credit histories and other compensating factors. Director Watt said that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will also soon offer mortgages with loan-to-value ratios of 95% and 97%. However, he stressed that the new loan products will be “targeted in scope,” and only available to creditworthy borrowers.

Hampton Roads Real Estate Market Continues to Improve

Source: Real Estate Information Network (REIN)

 

Modest improvements in October for Hampton Roads real estate support the reality of a

normalized market, with the month’s leading statistical measurements (residential active listings, pending

sales, settled sales, and median sales price) all rising year-over-year.

 

Residential active listings rose 8.7% when compared to October 2013. Of the region’s seven

major cities (Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Virginia Beach) all but

Portsmouth experienced a year-over-year increase in the number of homes for sale. Chesapeake,

Suffolk and Virginia Beach saw the largest growth at 16.53%, 14.40% and 13.02% respectively, while

Portsmouth’s residential listings declined marginally by 1.38%. A total of 3,386 new listings were added

to the MLS in October 2014, an 8.8% upturn in the number of units added in this month 2013.

 

The region’s months’ supply of inventory for residential homes for sale is currently 6.89 months,

up 10.59% from October 2013 when it was 6.23 months. Virginia Beach currently maintains only 5.71

months’ supply of inventory, the lowest in the region, while Suffolk sports the highest of the seven major

cities at 7.89 months. Six months is considered a “balanced” market.

 

Hampton Roads’ October residential pending sales surged 11.91% as compared to the prior year.

Of the region’s major cities, Norfolk and Suffolk improved the most with increases of 29.65% and

24.04% respectively. Hampton and Portsmouth were the only regional major cities to see a reduction in

the number of pending sales, down 12.68% and 4.96% compared to the same month last year.

October’s residential settled sales were up a token .21% when compared to October 2013.

Newport News (22.22%), Norfolk (11.21%) and Hampton (6.67%) were the only major cities to

experience an increase in settled sales year-over-year. All others declined between 3.55% and 8.82%.

The region’s residential median sales price for October 2014 is $205,000, up 2.5% from the previous

year when it was $200,000. Chesapeake has the highest median sales price at $238,000.

 

Distressed homes, those that are either short sales or foreclosures, appear to be leveling off and

settling into a new “norm” that has significantly less impact on the region’s market. During October 2014,

distressed homes accounted for just 18.38% of all residential active listings, down 3.75% from the same

period of time last year. October’s distressed homes accounted for only 19.68% of all residential settled

sales, a decrease of 5.86% from October 2013.