Northern Virginia Real Estate Experts

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Monday, April 25, 2016

The Best Apps for Homebuyers

Technology has made a huge impact on the process of buying and selling real estate, and it continues to evolve and shape our experience differently each day. For some homebuyers, it may be easier to rely on your local Realtor® to guide you through the steps from searching for homes to writing an offer to closing on that perfect new house, but many will want to take advantage of the plentiful resources available to us. These apps are some of the best available to homebuyers right now. Read on for details.

KW Realty
Over time, the local MLS (Multiple Listing Service) has become more and more accessible to the general public. There are several home search apps that aid homebuyers, and Keller Williams has come up with one of the best. Not only does the KW app update regularly with the local MLS, it allows you to search for homes for sale or rent in the US and Canada. You can easily filter your search parameters, and once you find a home you like, simply hit the "Contact Agent" button to meet with a local Realtor® to view homes.
Free to download and use. Available for iPhone and Android. 
Another home search app, Homesnap takes things to a new level. While touring your favorite neighborhood, simply snap a photo of a home to get details like number of bedrooms, square footage, and price (this is estimated if it is not an active listing). Like the KW app, Homesnap is linked with the local MLS to give the most up-to-date information on the real estate marketplace. You can also easily share and send your favorite homes to anyone- including your local Realtor®. It's an extremely convenient way to interact with your agent as you flip through homes for sale anywhere you happen to be.

Free to download and use. Available for iPhone, Android, and Apple Watch. 
New to the neighborhood? Use AroundMe to locate local amenities including ATMs, coffee shops, hospitals, restaurants, and more. Once you find what you need, use the built-in GPS to get directions to your destination. Not just for home buyers, this app works around the world and is available in several languages. 
Free to download and use. Available for iPhone, Android, and Apple Watch.
Are you dependent on public transportation or simply don't want to have to drive everywhere you go? This is the app for you. Originally intended for rentals, WalkScore can be used by anyone who wants to know how to get around in their neighborhood. Find the Walk Score, Transit Score, and Bike Score for any area through this app. Scores are rated from 0-100, with a higher number meaning you're closer to a walker's/rider's/biker's paradise.
Free to download and use. Available for iPhone and Android.
For the planners among us, having the dimensions of your new home before you move in would be great, right? Well you can do it with MagicPlan. Simply download the app and then take your phone along to your showing appointments to create a full floor plan of the home you plan to buy. Once you have followed the prompts from the app, you can choose to create your floor plan from several formats (some at a small fee), and then you will be able to visualize where your furniture will fit in the new space. 
Free to download with potential in-app purchases. Available for iPhone and Android.
For your inner interior designer, Houzz is the best app to get design inspiration, shop for home decor items, and seek advice for your creative undertakings. Search by room type, design style, budget, and more to plan out color schemes, furniture purchases, and even landscaping projects. If you find that you need some guidance, you can reach out to the Houzz community or even search for a local professional through the app. 
Free to download and use. Available for iPhone and Android.
***Bonus for after move-in:
Settled in your new place? Now it's time to meet the neighbors! Nextdoor allows you to do just that, in a secure space that is only open to people who live in your neighborhood. Each neighborhood can build the online community differently, but usually people will share news, post sale items, recommend local contractors, and invite neighbors to events, like any other social media platform. The app allows you to access the discussion on-the-go and is a great way to get involved in your new community. If your neighborhood doesn't have a Nextdoor page yet, you can start one yourself, and the site will help you do it.
Free to download and use. Available for iPhone and Android. 
Are you buying a home in Northern Virginia this year? Contact Preferred Realty Partners today to get started!

Monday, April 11, 2016

How the Appraisal Impacts Your Home Sale

Market value, appraisal value, what does it all mean? How do these numbers impact your home sale? The short answer is that the market value determines the price at which you list your home. This is the price that a buyer is willing to pay for your home in the current real estate market conditions. Your local Realtor will be able to assist in pricing your home to sell quickly.

The appraised value of your home comes from a report completed by a licensed appraiser. The appraisal is a part of most real estate contracts, as the buyer's lender will not award a loan on a home that is priced above the appraised value. Because of this, some sellers may choose to have an appraisal done on their home before listing it for sale. It's important to keep in mind that, as the market shifts, the appraised value of a home may not be its true market value.
In a buyer's market, when inventory is high and demand is low, the market value of a home will usually fall below the appraised value. In a seller's market, when inventory is low and demand is high, sellers need to be careful of pricing their homes over the appraised value.
If an appraisal comes in below the offer price, then there are a few options. The seller may decide to lower the price to the appraised value, or the buyer can bring extra cash to the table to purchase the home. The buyer's lender will not approve a loan on a home that is higher than the appraised value, so one way or the other, the money will have to be adjusted.
How to Prepare
Although many items that are covered in the appraisal are fixed within a home and the attached grounds, there are some things you, as a seller, can do to ensure your home is rated at its best value. Many of these things are also recommended when staging your home, so if you have taken those steps before listing, you will be ready to go.
  • Clean up - A clean home will always make a better impression than a cluttered, dirty one. Cleaning your home also makes it easier for the appraiser to move about and get where he needs to go.
  • Maximize curb appeal - Mow the lawn, tidy up the landscaping, and put a fresh coat of paint on that porch. Small maintenance items like these can go a long way in making a first impression.
  • Feature your updates - Any permanent changes that you have made to the house should be documented and shared with the appraiser, if possible. This is especially important for less apparent updates like a new HVAC system or roof. The appraiser will appreciate having these pointed out to him.
  • Show comparable homes - Your local Realtor should be providing you with current market updates before and while you are on the market, but if you don't have some comparable homes on hand, she should provide this for you and present it to the appraiser.
Are you buying a home in Northern Virginia this year? Contact Preferred Realty Partners today to get started!
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