4 Easy Ways to Green Your Move

A new home is an exciting fresh start. Actually moving into that new home, however, can be a huge pain.

To add to the stress of shuffling houses, it’s hard to keep your carbon footprint low when you’re dealing with cardboard boxes, tape, bubble wrap and Styrofoam.

Keep your move in Virginia Beach “green” with these tips:

Look for Green Peanuts

Yes, we literally mean green-colored packing peanuts. The moving industry got together and decided to bereally obvious with their packaging, so the green-colored items are often biodegradable, recycled or derived from renewable resources like vegetable oils.

Always read the label to make sure, but grabbing green packing peanuts is typically going to be a safe bet!

Rent Boxes

Cardboard boxes are a pain for several reasons:

  1. If you can’t find them for free, you have to pay for them.
  2. There’s a high probability that the bottom of your box will break if you move anything heavy. And there goes your stuff!
  3. They take at least two months to decompose in a landfill, which isn’t great on the conscience.

Instead, go plastic! Services like ZippGo.com will deliver plastic boxes to your house, then pick them up when you’re done moving for as little as $99. You’ll save time hunting down boxes and avoid broken-bottom situations during the move.

Give Best Buy Your Old TV

Often times, moving means you get to upgrade your things. If you’re considering new electronics or appliances for your new home, give Best Buy a call. Through their recycling program, they’ll take nearly “all electronics and large appliances” off of your hands at no charge. Staples also has a similar program.

Donate Used Boxes

If you decide to use cardboard boxes during your move, no worries! You can lower your carbon footprint afterthe move by donating your gently used boxes.

Most moving companies will gladly take those boxes off of your hands. You can also post them on Craigslist – most recipients will probably come to you to grab the boxes, so you can avoid a trip to the dump.


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RE/MAX Consumer Mobile Apps Get Agent-Branded Search

Mobile app image via Shutterstock.

With the help of its technology partner Homes.com, RE/MAX has updated its iOS and Android consumer mobile apps to provide an agent-branded search feature, integration of saved mobile and Web searches, and a revised map search results view.

With the updated “RE/MAX Real Estate Search” apps, RE/MAX agents — through a custom code they give out – can now ensure that consumers using the apps to search for properties stay connected to them throughout the process.

“With (consumers’ interest in mobile home search) in mind, the 2.0 RE/MAX mobile app provides users with a quick, easy way to search for homes as well as a simple way to contact their agents,” said John Smiley, RE/MAX technology strategy officer, in a statement.

In addition to the agent-branded feature, saved searches consumers make in the apps now sync up with Web saved searches, the map view now surfaces clusters of nearby homes for sale and an aerial “balloon” view is available for each listing.

The app updates are the latest step in the partnership between RE/MAX and Homes.com, which began in March 2012 when RE/MAX chose Homes.com to host and build its website, remax.com, and build iPhone, iPad and Android mobile apps for it. RE/MAX also began feeding its listings to Homes.com and co-branding Homes.com’s marketing suite Homes Connect to its agents with the partnership.

Homes.com agent products will also be highlighted in the updated apps.

– See more at: http://www.inman.com/2014/03/26/remax-consumer-mobile-apps-get-agent-branded-search/#sthash.eKfW79w9.dpuf

Weekly Marketing Tip

Weekly Marketing Tips

How To Follow-Up

  • Have a plan – Who do you want to follow up with first?  What will you say?  Be prepared for any and all circumstances so you sound professional.
  • Try multiple channels – If you are not getting a response, try email, phone calls, texting, social media messaging, and make sure you have the correct information.
  • Your objective is an answer- make your goal to get a definite answer, even if it is a “no”
  • Be polite – Your fifth follow-up should be as polite as your first one was.  Don’t forget to say Thank You!


FREE App of the Week

RoomScan- The app that draws floor plans by itself!  Just open the app and touch each wall with your phone!  The floor plan appears in second with approximate wall lengths and floor area.  RoomScan can draw floor plans of L-shaped and complex rooms just as easily as small rectangular rooms.  Only available for Apple products right now.


Top Tips for Buying a Home on the Virginia Coast

Why is the coastal area of Virginia such a popular real estate market, in spite of the recent economic downturn? There are a wide variety of reasons, but one thing is clear: the Mid-Atlantic region is booming. According to Biz Journals, 71% of real estate professionals in the area expect that there will be an increase in home transactions this year, as compared to the year before.

Many families are moving to cities like Virginia Beach, Newport News, and Chesapeake because of the region’s historic background, the great public school systems, and the small-city environment. Before people commit to buying a new home in the region, however, there are a few things they should be made aware of. Here are several facts everyone should know before they buy a new home in Virginia.

First Time Home Buyer Tips

  • If you’ve never bought a home before, it’s easy to make mistakes. You might, for example, think property on the edge of the city is a good deal. It’s cheap, and you don’t mind driving. It’s a double-edged sword, however. A low price now likely means a low selling price when you move 20 years down the line — and potential difficulty in finding a buyer.
  • Finding a loan is often one of the biggest concerns for first time home buyers. Most financial experts recommend spending less than 30% of your income on your mortgage. If you need help with your loans, you may qualify for some of the regional and state programs aimed at assisting new home owners.
  • It’s important to keep future needs in mind. If you plan on starting a family in two years, why get a one-bedroom condo?

Tips for Finding the Right Real Estate Agents

  • Talk to a real estate agent who has experience in the area and who can give you professional information about home value. Park Place in Norfolk, for example, might have cheap property, but it’s an area many buyers avoid because of safety concerns, and it’s important to know that risk before considering purchasing a home there.
  • Look for agencies that do extensive real estate market research. This means that they know where to find you the best homes for your budget, and they can also tell you a bit about long-term value.
  • Real estate agencies should always come with appropriate licensing. Real estate agents in Virginia have to pass a test in order to receive their license, and must receive 30 hours of post-licensing education before renewing it.

Are you looking for real estate agents? Let us know about your search for a new home in the comments.

Retirees Reaching for Reverse Mortgages Again

Baby boomers are fueling a resurgence in reverse mortgages as boomers are in search for extra retirement income, and small lenders are stepping up as they view reverse mortgages as a way of growing their business, Reuters reports.

In 2013, $15.3 billion of reverse loans were issued, a 20 percent increase from the year prior, according to trade publication Inside Mortgage Finance. Still, that’s only about half the number seen during a record year in 2009, in which $30.21 billion of reverse mortgages were issued.

A reverse mortgage allows home owners to borrow against their home. They don’t have to make payments on the loan until they move or die.

Many lenders remain leery of reverse mortgages. In 2011, Wells Fargo & Co. and Bank of America backed out of the reverse mortgage business, citing reasons like unpredictable home values and the high level of delinquencies at the time.

As such, smaller lenders are stepping in, seeing reverse mortgages as an opportunity to grow their business.

“The market is huge. It’s underpenetrated,” Denmar Dixon, chief investment officer at independent mortgage company Walter Investment Management Co., said at a recent conference. Lenders often charge high fees for issuing these loans since they do carry more risk.

More lenders may view it as a growth opportunity too, particularly as traditional mortgage lending is expected to decrease 37 percent in 2014 due to higher mortgage rates dampening refinance activity.

“There are lots of mortgage lenders who see declining volumes and may view [reverse mortgages] as an opportunity to increase revenues,” says David Stevens, president of the Mortgage Bankers Association.

The U.S. Federal Housing Administration posted big losses from reverse mortgages in the past, but has made changes to its reverse mortgage program last year in trying to protect the agency from steep losses from reverse mortgages again. In April 2013, the FHA limited the amount a home owner can borrow as a lump sum to 60 percent in the first year, up to a maximum of $625,500, Reuters reports. Previously, the limit was 100 percent. The FHA also now requires lenders to ensure borrowers can pay for taxes, insurance, and upkeep on their home when issuing these loans.

Source: “U.S. Retirees Return to Reverse Mortgages, Big Banks Stay Away,” Reuters (March 17, 2014)

10% More Properties For Sale Compared to Last Year

Economy Mortgage Rates

Brutal winter storms in much of the country didn’t stop home sellers from being optimistic about the housing market, with 10 percent more properties for sale nationwide in February compared to a year ago, according to data released today by realtor.com. The median list price increased 7.6 percent to $199,000 during the same time, according to the National Housing Trend Report.

Along with more homes being put up for sale at higher prices, the median age of the inventory went up 6.5 percent from a year ago to a median of 114 days, or almost four months. Homes being on the market longer can help turn what’s now considered a strong seller’s market into a better situation for buyers.

“We’re still seeing a stronger sellers’ market. We’re slowly, hopefully moving more toward equilibrium,” says Steve Berkowitz, CEO of Move, Inc., operator of realtor.com, the official website of the National Association of Realtors.

This good news doesn’t necessarily mean that the normally busy spring buying season is starting earlier, but it could open the door to more spring sales. Sellers are showing that they’re more confident than they were a year ago and are willing to put up homes for sale that they might have previously held back on because they had little or no equity in them, Berkowitz says.

“It could be a sign that more housing is coming on the market,” he says.

Why more listings? Home sellers could be putting their homes on the market well before the spring buying season because they think they’ll beat the competition and get the price they want now. “With the inventory you may get a better price,” Berkowitz says.

“Life events” associated with housing changes — such as births, children entering school, and aging homeowners downsizing — are again causing homeowners to move because they can afford to if they have more equity in their homes as home prices increase. Low interest rates for home loans can also be a reason for more home listings.

The 7.6 percent increase in home price listings is another sign of seller confidence going into the selling season. However, of the 121 markets that posted annual gains in median list price in February, 84 markets rose less than 10 percent, according to the report.


Americans’ Divergent Views on Housing, Mortgages

More Americans expect home prices to increase in the coming months, according to Fannie Mae’s February 2014 National Housing Survey.

Fifty percent of the survey’s 1,000 respondents say that they believe home prices will go up in the next year, a 7 percent increase compared to January’s survey. They say they expect the average 12-month home price change to be 3.2 percent.

What’s more, the number of respondents who say it is a good time to buy increased 3 percentage points to 68 percent in February.

While some gauges are rising, Americans are also expressing some concerns about the housing market. The number of respondents who believe it would be easy to get a mortgage dropped 7 percentage points from January’s high of 52 percent. Also, more respondents say they think the economy is heading in the wrong direction.

“We’ve seen a corresponding increase in volatility in our survey results, particularly for home-price expectations and perceptions about the ease of getting a mortgage,” says Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae. “Weather may have played a role, as suggested by a 6 percentage-point jump over the past two months in the share of consumers who say their household expenses are significantly higher than a year ago. This response would be consistent with higher home heating costs. Despite the volatile month-to-month changes, we believe that the housing recovery is continuing, but is not yet robust.”

Source: Fannie Mae