Virginia Beach Home Owners Place High Value on Good Yards

Don’t underestimate the importance of a beautiful yard to home owners and their neighbors. 84 percent of adults say that the quality of a home’s landscape and yard would affect their decision on whether to purchase a home or not, according to a new survey of more than 2,000 adults conducted by the National Association of Landscape Professionals.

The majority of Americans want to live amid nice landscaping. The survey found that 91 percent of Americans believe it is important to live in close proximity to trees, grass, or nice landscaping. Midwesterners are the most likely to rate the importance of landscaping the highest (at 94%), followed by the West (89%) and Northeast (87%).

“Across the board, the survey reveals that Americans deeply value surrounding natural elements and yards where they can spend time outside their homes,” according to the National Association of Landscape Professionals.

Eighty-four percent of home owners surveyed said that it is important to have their yard well-maintained, and 71 percent also say it’s important for their neighbors to have well-maintained landscapes as well. But the survey finds that only 33 percent of Americans say they believe they have the knowledge and skills to keep their lawn and plants healthy and appealing.

Virginia Beach Yards


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Virginia Beach ranked #15 fittest city in the United States

Virginia Beach,Va. – Virginia Beach has been ranked the #15 fittest city in the United States, according to a recent report released by the American College of Sports Medicine.

Virginia Beach has ranked among the top 20 metropolitan areas since 2009. Strengths include a high number of parks, as well as a high number of recreational facilities including park playgrounds, park units and ball diamonds.


Researchers highlighted those four areas as Virginia Beach’s most improved since 2009:

  • The number of farmers’ markets per 1,000,000 increased from 9.0 to 14.3.
  • The number of acres of parkland per 1,000 increased from 40.5 to 58.4.
  • The percent of city land area as parkland increased from 11.1% to 15.9%.
  • The percent using public transportation to work increased from 1.3% to 1.8%.

The news was not all great for the area, however. The report says there is a high percentage of people who don’t consume more…

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Weekly Marketing Tip

Weekly Marketing Tips

Target with Local Keyword Phrases

  • Keyword phrases are what words people type in an online search.
  • 69% of home shoppers begin their research with a local keyword phrase like “Great Neck realtor”.
  • Really focus on capturing local traffic by using these keywords when creating your website pages.
  • You have a much better chance of showing up higher on a search engine by using local keywords and phrases instead of generic and broad keywords.

real estate keywords

FREE App of the Week

Zite- Zite is a personalized magazine that automatically learns what you are interested in.  This app is great for work and personal.  It gives you options of topics like real estate, travel, exercise, interior design, finance, food, business, and much more!  You can ignore topics that don’t interest you and learn more about what you like on one screen.

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Virginia Beach Housing Update: Demand Up, Supply Down, Prices Increasing

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Buyer Demand

Total existing-home sales (which include single family and condo) were at an annual rate of 4.97 million in the first quarter of 2015. This represents a number which is 6.2 percent higher than the pace during the first quarter of 2014.

Supply of Housing Inventory

There were 2 million existing homes available for sale at the end of the first quarter of 2015 which represents a 4.6 months’ supply of inventory which down from 4.9 months a year ago. A healthy balance of supply between buyers and sellers is 6 to 7 months.


Single Family Residential Prices

Home prices accelerated in 148 out of 174 metro areas (85%) during the first quarter of 2015. and the number of areas experiencing double-digit price appreciation doubled compared to last quarter. Compared to last quarter, the number of regions experiencing double-digit price appreciation doubled.

The national median existing single-family home price in the first quarter was $205,200, compared to $191,100 in first quarter of 2014. This represents a 7.4% increase year-over-year.

Whether you are thinking about buying your first home or selling your current residence to buy the home of your dreams, meet with a professional in your market to discuss how the numbers above have affected your neighborhood’s prices.


Virginia Beach Homes

Weekly Marketing Tip

Prezi– Want to wow your clients?  Prezi is an online tool that creates virtual presentations.  Import a powerpoint presentation or create a presentation from scratch.  Similar to powerpoint except you can rotate and zoom and add images with different shapes and text.  Prezi makes presentations more interactive and enjoyable for viewers.

Prezi Website

 FREE App of the Week

Eventbrite–  Interested in local events around Hampton Roads?  This app shows you popular upcoming events, recommends events for you, and allows you to see what events your friends are attending.  View your upcoming events, tickets, and all the information in one place!  Invite friends to join events and make it a big get together.  Create an event for clients and invite them so that they never forget and can stay connected!


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6 First-time Homebuyer Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

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Have you heard that 2015 is “The Year of The First-Time Home Buyer”? They’re making a comeback in Virginia Beach, and builders are ramping up production of homes that they think first-time homebuyers and millennials will want.

If that’s true, 2015 will be a great year. But there’s one problem. Buying a home in Hampton Roads is not an easy process. Our first-time homebuyer clients have no idea about what goes into the process from start to finish. They can and do make mistakes. Here are just a few that I’ve identified and some tips on how to help your clients avoid them:

1. Borrowing the maximum amount allowed by the lender and not creating a realistic budget of their expenses

A good amount of research is needed by the buyer to find out what costs come along with owning a home. Some are not prepared for these known or unknown expenses after they sign that contract. Taxes, insurance, association fees, home maintenance, utilities and major/minor repairs are just a few. Knowing what these costs are and budgeting for them ahead of time is important for anyone, but especially the first-time homebuyer. At the first meeting with your clients, include a checklist of these costs in the buyer’s packet, and add some examples of costly surprise home repairs. If they are interested in buying a particular property, ask the seller’s agent to provide the monthly utility costs or call the utility companies for estimates. Some cities even require the utility costs to be included when listing a property.

2. Planning ahead

Resale value is an important factor when buying a home. Most first-time homebuyers aren’t looking into their crystal ball and haven’t thought about their plans and when they eventually plan on selling the home. They’re living in the here and now.

It’s our job as real estate agents to ask the right questions to keep them on track and looking at the big picture. On average, first-time homebuyers only stay in their home for about four years. The other problem when it comes to resale value, is that a lot of buyers tend to rely on the Zillow Zestimates instead of talking to a real estate agent when looking at the resale value of a home that they are buying.

We all know that Zillow Zestimates are notorious for being incorrect and can often be up to 30 percent too high or even too low on a property. So do yourself a favor and have that conversation with your clients ahead of time. You never know. If referrals are a part of your business, you might be selling this house for them in about four years. Don’t you want to know what it might be worth?

3. The dreaded pre-approval

First-time homebuyers, especially millennial buyers, are weary of filling out that pre-approval application for the mortgage lender, and I haven’t quite figured out why they drag their feet on this. The first step is the lender pre-approval before looking at houses.

Most real estate agents that I know require their buyer clients to have that pre-approval letter in-hand before they take them out looking at homes. Why would you want to waste time looking at houses your clients can’t afford?

Doing this pre-approval process ahead of time is vital. If there is something negative on your credit report, it’s best to find it early in the process, so you have time to correct it. Have a list of lenders on hand to give to them. They can choose which one to use.

4. Indecision

Ever heard of the saying “Curiosity killed the cat”? Well, here’s another one, “Indecision killed the deal.” Not moving on a house fast enough and taking too much time to make a decision on buying the house is common as well. This indecision gives someone else the opportunity to scoop up that home before your clients have a chance to send in the bid to buy it.

A multiple offer situation is good for the seller, but for a buyer — not so much. In this competitive real estate market with low inventory and high buyer turnout, you need to move quickly in order to get the house that you want. A good real estate agent can try to help their clients through this indecision by asking questions and finding out the reasons behind the hesitation. Some of those reasons might be solvable, but you never know if you don’t ask. Once your client loses a home the first-time because they hesitated on making a bid, I think they probably won’t make that same mistake a second time.

5. Only checking online sources for mortgage rates and available home buyer programs

As much as everyone loves to do everything from their computer or smartphone today, especially the millennials, this is one thing that should be done in person. It is always best practice to call a local mortgage lender and sit down in person with them to talk about the most current rates and programs available to first-time homebuyers.

A good amount of the lenders that you find online are not local and only have teaser rates on their websites. If your client chooses a mortgage lender that doesn’t have a local presence, a lot can change once they get the paperwork in front of them at the closing table. Even the appraisal that is done can be off by thousands of dollars if the in-house appraiser that the lender uses is not familiar with the area in which your clients are buying.

An accurate appraisal is crucial and not using the right comps in the neighborhood can be catastrophic to the buying process. You know that if it doesn’t appraise for the amount of the loan or higher, your buyer will have to come up with the balance of the funds fast to cover the sale or the deal falls apart. As for homebuyer programs, there are many new programs available to buyers, especially first-time buyers. It’s almost impossible to figure all of this out by just looking online. That list of lenders I mentioned in No. 3 above would come in handy for this too.

6. Debt to income ratio (DTI — recurring monthly debt divided by monthly gross income)

Most first-time homebuyers have no idea what this is and in turn don’t know that it affects their buying power when looking for a home. Buying a car or a big ticket item before qualifying for a mortgage is a common mistake made by the first-time buyer. Any extra costs, such as car payments, increase this number. The lower the number, the better. Lenders typically do not want it to be higher than 43 percent. Buyers must be careful, different lenders have different DTI ratios depending on the type of loan. It’s your job to give your clients the facts about the buying process, especially their buying power. And try to make sure they don’t suddenly buy that cute red convertible they’ve always wanted before they have the garage to store it in.


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