3 Over-the-Top Home Improvement Projects that Just Aren’t Worth It

If you’re planning on selling your home within the next year or so, you’ve probably already started thinking about the best ways to increase its value. But if you’re not an experienced home flipper or contractor, it can be tricky to know which projects are worth it and which simply aren’t.

To save you time and money (and a lot of hassle), here are some home improvement projects that just aren’t worth it (and what you can do instead).

Replacing Old Cabinets

Beautiful completely upgraded kitchen with new cabinets.Depending on what kind of cabinet material you choose, you could be looking at an estimate anywhere between $1,000 to over $9,000 to completely replace your kitchen cabinets. Materials like laminate are certainly less expensive, but prices on real wood can quickly skyrocket.

As an alternative to completely re-doing your cabinets, you might consider sanding them down and re-staining them yourself (or painting, if they’re laminate) to give them an upgraded appearance.

Extensive Master Bathroom Remodel

Sure, there are plenty of homeowners dreaming of a spa-like master bathroom, but with a bathroom remodel averaging anywhere from $5,000 to over $14,000, it’s probably not worth it.

Instead of dropping thousands of dollars into a complete overhaul, consider some smaller upgrades that can still significantly boost your value. You can give your bathroom a much-needed uplift simply by replacing old sink fixtures, re-caulking the tub and shower, or adding in a stylish backsplash.

Adding on a Room

Man using a power-saw to cut through a floor.The national average for building an additional room on to your home is $42,000. And even with the added square footage, there’s no guarantee it will add much (or any!) resale value to your home. How badly do you need that extra room?

A more worthwhile alternative might be removing or adding a wall to create more space (or another room) without increasing the square footage. Another option is to add a deck, which typically costs only around $6,000 and adds desirable outdoor entertaining space (which has been shown to positively affect home values).

Get More Money From Your Home Sale

With so many home improvement options, it can be tough to decide which ones are best for adding resale value to your property. That’s why it’s so important to work with an experienced Realtor to sell your home.

If you’re interested in selling your home, or simply want to chat about your real estate plans, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. We would love to assist you in making your real estate goals a reality.

So, What Does a Realtor Actually Do for Home Buyers?

If you’re actively looking for a new home to buy, it may be tempting to try and do it yourself, without a Realtor. After all, the agent isn’t really working for you, right?

Two-story suburban home made of brick and stucco.There’s a common misconception that real estate agents are only working for sellers, but that couldn’t be further from the truth!

When you’re buying a home, a real estate agent can help you make the right financial decision while maintaining your sanity.

Real estate agents live and breathe real estate, so they know how to navigate the market unlike anyone else.

The Right Buyers Agent Will Make All the Difference

An experienced Buyer’s Agent will keep you on top of the market, show you hard-to-find homes for sale, negotiate your buying terms, handle the bulk of your paperwork, and more. And it won’t cost you a penny!

In fact, here are the 4 things real estate agents do to eliminate stress from your home-buying process.

Help You Find the Right Home

Nice kitchen interior with bar seating and a chrome fridge.You don’t have to spend hours on Zillow wading through thousands of home listings in your area. Need a home with 2,000 square feet, at least two-and-a-half bathrooms, and a large backyard? Tell your Realtor!

Using your guidelines, they’ll provide you with a list of homes that meet your needs. Realtors have access to many homes that are not actively advertised on public sites like Zillow or Trulia.

Negotiate the Terms of Your Contract

In general, Realtors handle the bulk of the paperwork details so you don’t have to!

Contract negotiations are just one example of where it really pays off to have an experienced agent on your side. An experienced agent knows the rules and regulations of buying a home, so they’ll be able to negotiate a contract with the seller to ensure the best terms for you.

Prioritize Your Financial Wellbeing

When you enter into an agreement with a real estate agent, their job is to help you build your new investment in a smart way that ultimately protects your money and your interests.

Their obligation is to helping you decide whether a potential home will be a good, and affordable, financial investment for you.

In short, their primary responsibility is to protect you and your finances.

Answer All Your Questions

Let’s be real, buying a home is one of the biggest financial investments you’ll ever make! Naturally, you’re bound to have a couple of questions — both before and after the close.

Your Realtor will be there to clear things up, every step of the way.

Ready to Find Your Dream Home?

So are we. If you’d like help finding the perfect home, please give us a call.

We’re here to make your life, and your home purchase, as easy and stress-free as possible. Feel free to reach out to us so we can get started!

What Do Those Home Selling Terms Even Mean?

Real estate lingo can be hard to decipher because, well, there’s so much of it! It might even seem like your Realtor is speaking another language.

From fancy acronyms to words like “escrow” and “riders,” there are a lot of terms out there that might seem totally foreign. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have to know what they mean!

If you’re in the process of selling your home, here are a few real estate acronyms you really should know.

CMA: Comparative Market Analysis

Man's hand resting on the mouse pad of a silver laptop.A comparative market analysis is a great way to research the market and find out what homes in your neighborhood are selling for. It’s an in-depth report that lists the prices of sold homes that are similar to your home (otherwise known as “comps” or “comparables”).

CMAs provide information about homes that were recently sold, home that are currently on the market, and homes that were on the market but were not sold within the listing period.

FSBO: For Sale By Owner

Home sellers who opt not to use a Realtor will list their home as For Sale By Owner. This simply means the homeowner is selling their home without the help of a Realtor and is taking on all the responsibilities of selling their home.

When you choose to sell without a Realtor, you may be saving money on their commission fee, but you’re taking on a lot of additional work and responsibility. Plus, you may end up losing money in the long run if you don’t know how to stage and photograph your home, market it effectively, or price it correctly and competitively.

Escrow

Escrow refers to a number of documents, payments, and other material that are held by a third party. Once you’ve negotiated the sale of your home with a potential buyer, you’ll want to make sure there’s a proper escrow set up.

Basically, when a buyer makes an offer on your home, they’ll write you a check for “earnest money” (kind of like a security deposit or holding fee). This money is held by a neutral third party until you and the buyer negotiate a contract and close the sale.

Since you can’t use the money and neither can the buyer, the money is considered to be in “escrow”.

Contingency

When you’re negotiating the contract of your home sale with the buyer, there are likely to be a few contingencies in your contract. Contingencies protect the buyer if they fail to qualify for a loan, if they are dissatisfied with the results of the home inspection, or if something else falls through.

Carefully consider all terms of the contract, including specific contingencies, when reviewing offers. The more contingencies an offer contains, the riskier it is to accept the offer, as there are more ways it could potentially fall through. Work with your Realtor to negotiate a contract that benefits you and the buyer.

Need a Translator? We’ve Got You Covered

Allow us to handle all the details of selling your property, giving you more time to focus on finding and relocating to your new home. We’ll be there to guide you through every aspect of selling your home, from pricing it to signing the closing paperwork.

Give us a call today to get started.

The Most Popular Features in Multimillion-Dollar Properties

Ever wonder why some homes sell for millions of dollars? As different as each listing might be, many share a number of common features that are known to bolster home values.

If you’re on the hunt for your dream home, some of these features could be yours! Don’t worry about breaking the bank; prioritizing your wants and needs can help you determine which of these luxury features will fit your lifestyle and your budget.

Here are 5 features of multimillion-dollar homes you can get at affordable price tags.

In-Ground Pool

In-ground pool with small cabana and water slide.Who needs a neighborhood pool when you could have your own?

Imagine spending those warm summer days cooling off by your own private pool.

It’s not uncommon to see multimillion-dollar homes outfitted with gorgeous entertaining spaces, all centered around a luxurious in-ground pool—but many homes in lower price ranges also feature great backyard pool areas, too.

Expansive Outdoor Entertaining Space

It’s often said that your home’s exterior is equally as important as its interior. That’s why we’ve been seeing more and more multimillion-dollar listings with extensive outdoor entertaining spaces.

Common features of outdoor entertaining areas such as these include built-in barbecue grills, full bars, and spa-like outdoor amenities. Multimillion-dollar condos and townhomes might come with a huge private balcony complete with breathtaking views of nearby scenery.

In more affordable homes, outdoor entertaining spaces may consist of patios, porches, and, as we mentioned before, private pools.

Luxurious Master Bathroom

Oversized shower with tiling.At the end of a long day, nothing beats kicking back and relaxing in a spa-like master bathroom. It’s really no surprise that two of the top selling points for a home are the master bathroom and the kitchen.

Oversized glass-paneled showers are a must-have for multi million-dollar properties, as well as soaking tubs and stylish backsplash. Homes in lower price ranges may also feature stylish master bathrooms with upgrades like these.

Guest House or In-Law Suite

Commonly referred to as a “casita” or simply a guest house, this is a smaller dwelling separated from your main home.

Casitas are becoming more and more popular because of their versatility. Use them as a pool house, guest room, or even a source of low-maintenance rental income.

Wine Cellar

Wine cellar with glass bottles.The creme de la creme of luxury listings is… the wine cellar. You know you’ve made it when your home comes with its very own wine room.

Bonus points if your wine room comes with temperature-controlled shelving.

While more affordable homes may not come with wine cellars, you can still find homes with extra space for an excellent home theater, study, mini-library, or game room.

Your Dream Home Doesn’t Have to Break the Bank

In fact, if you budget correctly, you can find the perfect home for you that has a number of special features. Correct prioritizing is key here. So, if you really can’t picture life without that in-ground pool, it may mean you won’t get an extra-special master bathroom or guest house.

Need some additional help working out the details in your home search? We’re here to help. Simply give us a call today to get started finding the home that’s right for you.

beautiful spacious living room with floor to ceiling windows.

Why There Has Never Been a Better Time to Buy Real Estate in Wintergreen

If you’re in the market for a home with mountain views, and resort-style amenities then it is time to look into the real estate options in Wintergreen Resort.

Discover the luxury lifestyle this community has to offer, and find out why now is a great time to purchase a home in Wintergreen.

1. An Award-Winning Lifestyle in Wintergreen

tennis ball on a court with a net in the background.Wintergreen Resort has received numerous accolades throughout the years for their beautiful location, and four-season amenities. Some of the prestigious awards include Best Spa and Best Ski Resort award by Blue Ridge Country Magazine.

The resort also features top-rated tennis programs, which has received awards from Tennis Magazine and Tennis Resorts Online. Discover the rest of the award winning amenities that Wintergreen has to offer.

Want to be minutes from Wintergreen’s slopes and spas? Learn more about what Trillium Place has to offer.

2. Exciting Annual Events For All Ages

red, white, and blue fireworks at night.There’s always something new and fun to do when you live in Wintergreen. Celebrate holidays and special events with your family and friends year round in this bustling community.

You can kick off the Fall season with pumpkin carving or experience what Mardi Gras is like in the Virginia countryside! Wintergreen also celebrates holidays like the Fourth of July with dazzling fireworks, and the Christmas season with story time by Mr. and Mrs. Claus.

Searching for a condo with views of Devil’s Knob Golf Course? Explore what life is like in Stone Ridge!

3. Plenty of Real Estate Options To Choose From

real estate option in wintergreen with mountain views.Townhomes, condos, detached homes, attached homes, and buildable lots await you at Wintergreen Resort. With a variety of real estate options to call home, you are sure to find the perfect place to take in the beautiful  scenic views.

Many of these properties are even located on lots that are golf-front, ski-front, or right on the edge of an incredible mountain view. If you’re looking for a home that is maintenance free, Wintergreen offers that luxury amenity as well!

Desire a condo that is maintenance free? Enjoy a worry free lifestyle in North Ridge.

Enjoy Breathtaking Views Right Outside Your Door

As your Wintergreen Resort experts, we are more than happy to answer any questions you may have!

Whether you are considering buying a Wintergreen property or just want to look at available listingscontact us for any of your real estate needs. We look forward to guiding you to the perfect property that is just right for you.

5 Tips to Streamline Your Online Home Search

Who doesn’t love online shopping? You get to sit back in the comfort of your own home and browse fun things for sale on the internet. However, with online shopping comes hundreds of options from which to choose — and not all of them will work for you.

Woman on her computer staring off into space.The same goes for online shopping for a home. With so many options available on the Multiple Listing Service, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. But there are a few ways to make your search easier.

Instead of saving hundreds of different favorites, you can fast-track your search by prioritizing homes for sale with the features that are important to you.

If you feel like you keep seeing homes that aren’t a great fit, here are five easy tips for streamlining your online search and finding your dream home.

Create (and Stick With!) a List of Wants and Needs

What are the home features that you can’t live without? Do you have a price range in mind? Will it need to have a certain amount of acreage?

These requirements should be at the top of your list. Creating a wants and needs checklist like this will help you determine which homes are right for you, and which you shouldn’t even look at.

Must-Have Features

Will your home need at least two bathrooms? Do you need a large yard for your dogs? Does your home have to be close to the interstate? Come up with a list of features that you absolutely must have in a home.

These will also serve as your deal breakers. When you come across a home that doesn’t have these features, you’ll automatically know that it’s not the home for you, and it’s not worth taking the time to tour.

Set Your Budget

A great way to determine your budget is by getting pre-approved for a loan. You’ll sit down with a lending agent who will go over your current income, credit score, borrowing history, and outstanding debts. Then, they’ll let you know exactly how much the bank is willing to lend you.

Look, your budget is set! Having a predetermined budget means you can eliminate homes from your search that you know you can’t afford.

Use the Advanced Home Search Option

Couple sitting on the floor with a tablet.On our home search tool, there’s an option for an “advanced search.” Using an advanced search is especially advantageous as it allows you to filter results by important features, location, and price.

Use that list you just made to fill in the advanced search! You’re now one step closer to finding your dream home.

Sign Up to Receive New Listing Alerts

When you complete an advanced search, you have the option to receive email alerts. When you register for email alerts, we’ll send you notifications whenever any homes that fit your criteria hit the market.

That way, you stay one step ahead of the competition!

Schedule a Tour and Do a “Twice-Through”

Happy couple touring a home for sale with a Realtor.Ready to see a home in person? Easily schedule an in-person tour on our home search tool. During your tour, we recommend going through the home twice.

First, breeze through the home to get a feel for living there. Does it smell pleasant? Is it easy to navigate? Will it be the right size for your furniture?

Then, go back to the front door and tour it again. This time, look at the details. Be meticulous. Is there enough storage space in the hall closet? Are the floors in need of refinishing? Do the windows let in plenty of natural sunlight?

On your second run-through, jot down your impressions. Take pictures and maybe even measure the rooms to see if your furniture will fit.

Work with a Professional Realtor

When you choose to work with a professional real estate agent, you’re enlisting the help of an area expert who will make your home buying experience even easier. You can even hand over your list of “must-haves” and let us do the rest! 

Give us a call today if you have any questions.

mountain peak and range.

Why You’ll Love the Laurelwood Condos in Wintergreen, VA

Are you a fan of the mountains of Wintergreen, VA? Then you’re sure to fall in love with the condos of Laurelwood. These mountain chalet style condos are sure to speak to your inner mountain lover, with easy access to nearby Wintergreen slopes, trails, and attractions. Here are a few features you’re sure to love.

Close to the Slopes

skiier going down slope.You never have to go far to get to the incredible attractions of Wintergreen, VA. The Laurelwood condos are just minutes away from the Mountain Village, ski slopes, and The Market, which is located conveniently adjacent to the condos. Whether it’s running errands or enjoying the attractions of the resort, what you’re seeking is never far from your home in Laurelwood.

Gorgeous and Dependable

These homes are sure to impress! Built originally in the late 1970s and early 1980s, these homes are both fashionable and durable. The building’s exterior has been maintained over time, and many of the interiors of these condos have been updated to suit modern sensibilities and tastes. You’re sure to find stylish and dependable homes in Laurelwood.

A Great Investment

dinner table with plate, glass, and candle.As is the case with any Wintergreen condo building, you can’t go wrong when investing in a Laurelwood condo. Whether your Laurelwood property will serve as a vacation home or as a rental property, you will soon find that these properties are what dreams are made of. Whether you love to ski, hike, or take in gorgeous mountain vistas, you’re sure to find it in Laurelwood at Wintergreen.

Looking for a Vacation Home or Investment Property in Wintergreen, VA?

If you’re in the market for a vacation or investment property in Wintergreen, VA, it’s time to contact the experts. The Chase Team has an intimate knowledge of Wintergreen area and can help you with all of your buying needs. Contact us today to get started!

Costly Mistakes to Avoid After You Buy Your First Home

A single-level ranch-style house with a front porch, two-car garage, and well-maintained front yard.You’re smart. You’re doing your research about home buying and homeownership (like you are right now!), so you feel like you’re prepared to avoid common home buying pitfalls. But you’ll soon find that once you’ve moved in, there is a whole new list of common problems that plague unwary first-time homeowners.

To help you make the best buying and ownership decisions possible, we’ve outlined some of the the biggest blunders that first-time buyers make after closing on their home.

Investing in Too Many Upgrades

Not every home improvement project is worth the money or effort. Many first-time homeowners make the mistake of not considering a project’s return on investment, at least until it’s time to sell the house down the road.

If you want to know which home improvements are worth the investment, talk with a real estate agent or get a market report for your neighborhood. Give us a call and we’ll send one to you.

Ignoring “Minor” Maintenance Issues

Water dripping out of a long kitchen faucet and into the sink.As your home ages, seemingly minor issues may arise. But be careful: A dripping faucet, crumbling caulk, or slanting floors could spiral into much bigger headaches if you don’t take care of them quickly.

To avoid shelling out hundreds or even thousands of dollars down the road, tackle these maintenance issues as soon as you can.

We’re happy to provide local vendor recommendations if you need maintenance work. Just give us a call!

Choosing the Cheapest Repair Option

Quality comes at a price, especially when it comes to making repairs. Whether it’s picking up a cheap tool set or going with the lowest bid for a service provider, many first-time homeowners make the mistake of sacrificing quality for cost.

Contact us and we’ll be happy to recommend a high-quality local service provider.

Trying to DIY a Complicated Project

A large bathroom with white countertops, a white standing tub, white bidet, frameless glass shower, and orange walls.Some things can be done yourself. Think painting, hanging up shelves, or sprucing up the front entry.

But when it comes to stuff like plumbing, electricity, or structural engineering, think again. Hiring a professional will save you time and money — and keep you from starting a project you don’t know how to finish.

Need to talk to a contractor? Call us and we’ll give you recommendations.

Not Preparing for the Unexpected

A sudden job change, severe weather damage, or major maintenance problem can throw a wrench in your plans. Be sure that you budget accordingly for unexpected expenses as a homeowner.

We’re Happy to be a Resource

As local real estate experts, we have a wealth of information that can help you avoid many of these first-time home buying and homeownership mistakes. Contact us to learn more.

Do You Know What These Crucial Real Estate Acronyms Mean?

A man standing on a flat field and juggling apples.Acronyms are tossed around like crazy in the real estate world, which can be confusing to even the most veteran home buyers. But don’t worry — it doesn’t take long to learn the language.

Here’s a quick list of the most widely used home buying acronyms and what they actually mean. Of course, if you’d like to know even more real estate terminology, don’t hesitate to call us.

MLS: Multiple Listing Service

The multiple listing service is a massive database of available properties that is split up into hundreds of different regions. If you’ve ever heard someone refer to a home as “on the market,” it means that the home is available on the MLS.

Buyers can search for properties that are on the MLS by using a real estate agent’s website (like ours!), but that’s not the only way to find homes. Your agent can send you updates whenever new properties hit the market.

Want to get these email updates? Call us and we’ll set them up for you!

PITI: Principal, Interest, Taxes, and Insurance

A wooden cutout of a house standing next to three stacks of coins, each taller than the next and with a sprout growing out of the top.Principal, interest, taxes, and insurance are the four parts of a mortgage payment. Initially, you will pay more toward the interest on the mortgage, but you will start to pay off more of the principal (the initial loan amount) the longer you stay in your home.

Want to see the estimated PITI for your next loan? Check out our handy mortgage calculator on our website.

FHA: Federal Housing Administration

The Federal Housing Administration, or FHA, is a mortgage insurer that offers a variety of home buying assistance programs to help people purchase homes that they otherwise couldn’t afford.

FHA-insured loans generally offer more flexible credit qualifications and a lower down payment. However, borrowers are required to pay for mortgage insurance.

Interest rates and terms depend on the FHA-approved mortgage lender you choose.

PMI: Private Mortgage Insurance

Speaking of mortgage insurance, many lenders require you to have private mortgage insurance (PMI) if you can’t put 20% down on your home. This insurance protects the lender in case you can’t pay off your mortgage.

HOA: Homeowners Association

A community pool with orange inflatable innertube floating on top.Want to live in a community with a pool or clubhouse? Chances are you’re looking for a neighborhood with an HOA, or homeowners association.

An HOA is responsible for maintaining common areas and any amenities, and it typically sets standards for how homes should look in order to keep property values up. In some cases, homeowners associations may even include Internet, cable, and lawn care with their HOA dues.

If you’re considering buying a home in a neighborhood with an HOA, check the association’s CC&Rs — Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions — to see what rules the HOA enforces.

We’ll Help You Speak the Language

Understanding real estate terminology is one of the best ways to start your research as a home buyer. Want to know the meanings of other commonly used terms? Give us a call!

6 Ways to Save for Your Down Payment

A 20% down payment is a significant chunk of change. But with enough time to prepare and a little bit of creative budgeting, you’ll be able to save up for your new home sooner than you think. Follow these helpful budgeting tips to get started!

Break Down Your Budget

Closeup of the black and white number keys on a basic calculator.While it’s never a bad idea to start saving for a down payment, it’s an even better idea to analyze your budget before you consider a home purchase. This will help you set realistic expectations and concrete goals.

First, make a list of all of your necessary monthly expenditures — rent, power, water, phone service, student loans, etc. Add these expenditures up and subtract them from your monthly take-home pay. Then, look at everything that is left over and consider what to cut back.

After you’ve taken a look at your spending, determine what home price range (and, consequently, a 20% down payment) you could comfortably afford based on your current monthly budget. Our handy mortgage payment calculator might help!

Set a Concrete Savings Goal

Once you have an idea of how much money you’ll need to put down toward your new home, set a timeline for your savings. For instance, if you need to save up $20,000 for a down payment and want to move in five years, consider setting a savings goal of $335 per month.

Use a finance app like Mint to track your spending and your savings. Apps like these may also provide you with your credit score, which is essential to receiving the mortgage you need.

Get Prequalified for a Mortgage

A calculator sitting next to a paper document, which is signed at the bottom.Setting goals based on your current spending is a great place to start. To take the next step to buying your new home, meet with a lender about prequalifying for a mortgage.

Prequalifying for a mortgage will let you know how much financing you may qualify for — and how much you’ll need to save for your down payment. When you talk with a lender, ask for the maximum amount of financing that’s available to you based on your credit score and financial history. This may open up a lot of options when you’re searching for homes.

Not sure how to find a reputable mortgage broker? Give us a call and we can connect you with a trusted local lender.

Find Creative Ways to Save Money

If you’re having trouble meeting your savings goals for the month, even after you’ve carefully budgeted for the essentials, find ways to cut out superfluous spending or think of ways to earn a little bit of cash on the side. For example, you can:

  • Sell gently used clothing and household items at a yard sale
  • Substitute a movie streaming service for cable TV
  • Collect your loose change in a jar and cash it in every month
  • Use coupons while shopping at the supermarket
  • Use browser extensions like Honey to save while shopping online

Celebrate Your Accomplishments

A young woman holding colorful shopping bags in her hand over her shoulder.Saving for a down payment is no easy task. Every time you reach a major milestone, be sure to congratulate yourself!

Obviously, don’t spend all of that money in one place, but feel free to treat yourself to something special to reward yourself for your hard work.

Consider Home Buying Assistance Programs

Are you still having trouble saving for a 20% down payment? It might be worth looking into home buying assistance programs, such as FHA loans, VA loans, and USDA loans.

How Can We Help You Achieve Your Goals?

We are always available to discuss your home buying plans. Connect with us and we can provide you with the resources and advice you need.