DO sweat the small stuff

SO….you are getting ready to sell your home! Along with a multitude of concerns , the who, what, when, where questions start popping into your mind. Who should we list our home with? What should we establish as list price? When shall we list? Where will we go? and… What happens if we get an offer right away and we have no place to go?

Start a list now, write your questions down and Do sweat the small stuff-upfront! Preparation can save you time, stress and most of all $$$!

It really is all in the details. I’ve decided (after many interviews and conversations home sellers and home buyers) to refresh this blog and do what I just said. Write. It. Down. In the next several blog posts, we’ll begin breaking down the steps to maximizing your net profit on your home while minimizing and managing stress.

Literally, a light bulb went off when speaking with a friend and previous client-Holly- about the details of preparing to sell your home. Quick honorable mention: check out thejunkdrawerlife.com to connect with Holly and find out what is going on in her life as she begins blogging …and selling her lovely home. Now Under Contract since I began this draft- she’s an expert at this =)

While most homeowners focus on the big items ( to be addressed later), buyers are paying attention to the little stuff. Like Light Bulbs, Light Switches, and UGH! Heating/Air Conditioning Intake Vents…

Notice how much updating light switch covers change the “age” of a house! I highly recommend consistency in style, color and cleanliness of light switch covers-small detail, BIG IMPACT.

Next, door knobs, hinges and handles…consistency in metal, quality and again, spic and span-no grime allowed! Buyers hands want to touch clean surfaces not sticky, gunky, germy surfaces-it also reflects the care of the entire home.

Replace smoke detectors, clean dusty intake registers and paint the attic access with better quality trim paint. Buyers DO look UP!

Just remember, these small details tell more of the story than you realize and these can be relatively inexpensive updates for a fresh first impression.

Tricia’s Top Tips

  1. Match light bulbs in wattage and color, especially prior to photography. Select the appropriate bulb for each room, brighter in darker rooms with limited natural light, warm for cozier areas, correct lighting for vanity areas in bathrooms.
  2. Update the look of your home with white switches, switch plates and outlets if possible.
  3. Refresh door handles and hinges with more contemporary metals, brushed nickel, rubbed bronze, even chrome over the yellowed gold, brassy look.
  4. Hinges should be cleaned of grime and match the hardware ideally.
  5. Check local code for smoke detectors, this will come up on the home inspection.
  6. Clean all heat/ ac registers and paint if they are chipped.
  7. Paint trim and even obscure areas like attic accesses, crawl space entrances and closet doors.
  8. Bottom line, the least expensive way to update your house is to make it sparkle with cleaning products and fresh paint. My favorite for quality and finish is Benjamin Moore.


“Home Alone” House For Sale! A Dream Marketing Opportunity!

Trends in marketing real estate have  changed dramatically in recent years. The use of computer technology is a MUST for realtors marketing a house today.  This is the very reason we use every tool available to get our clients’ homes maximum exposure. Personally, we find using video and audio clips a lot of fun and gets our listings noticed. Our daughter in Boston emailed us the following interesting link!  Considering “Home Alone” was one of our favorite movies and Christmas traditions and we’re realtors, we  had to take a peek!  This is a cleverly done You Tube video and a great marketing opportunity any Realtor would love to add to their portfolio!

The “Home Alone” house looks like it could be in downtown Charlottesville around The University of Virginia neighborhoods or Park Street. Anyone interested in filming a movie in Charlottesville? Please do and then we can list it afterwards!!

Check it out! We think you’ll enjoy it!

Short sale or foreclosure, Uncategorized

How Do Distressed Properties Impact Home Values?

 I found this interesting article about how foreclosures and short sales affect values of resale homes.

The Impact of Distressed Properties on Neighboring Values
by THE KCM CREW on MAY 6, 2011 · 1 COMMENT

The banks are finally getting their foreclosure paperwork in order. They will start bringing larger numbers of distressed properties to market over the next six months. We must realize that this influx of discounted inventory will have an impact on the values of neighboring homes. How large an impact?

According to RealtyTrac a foreclosure sells for 59% of the value of a similar non-distressed property. Therefore, this foreclosure inventory will affect values in two ways:

1.) As Discounted Competition

Obviously, a segment of purchasers will prefer the discounted property based on price alone. Even if the distressed property is in need of substantial repair, the buyer is getting the property at a 41% discount. Price is determined by supply and demand. Distressed properties will eat up a portion of the demand for housing and that will put downward pressure on all values.

2.) As Comparable Sales on Your Appraisal

Even after you put your house into contract, this distressed inventory can still impact your transaction. Unless your purchaser is paying all cash, there will be an appraisal of your property by the bank who is giving the mortgage to your buyer to complete the purchase. Because of the volume of distressed properties selling in almost every market, banks are instructing appraisers to use these discounted sales in determining values of non-distressed sales. We can argue the logic of this some other time. At this point, we must simply be aware that this is taking place.

Bottom Line

Over the next several months, banks will be moving substantial numbers of foreclosures onto the market. This will impact values of other homes in the region. If you are considering selling, now might be the best time. You want to be sold and closed before these properties come to market and impact your price.

2010 Market Report, CAAR, Charlottesville Area Association of Realtors

C-ville 2010 Year Home Sales Market Report

Thinking about buying or selling a home in 2011? The latest market report for the Charlottesville area can give you important insight to help you with this decision. Additional factors are the interest rates available and your sense of urgency. For more specific information contact us for a free market analysis of your home.

Green Homes

Going Green without Breaking the Bank!

Live Green
Easy and Affordable Green Home Makeovers

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Want to save the environment, but can’t afford costly solar panels? Are you eager to cut down on energy costs, but leery about putting a wind turbine in your backyard? Don’t worry. There are plenty of easy and affordable ways to “go green with a home makeover and stay within your budget.”

Green Home Makeovers

Here are some green living tips for doing environmentally friendly home and yard makeovers on a tight budget:


Start with a home energy audit. Check to see if your local utilities company provides this service. If it doesn’t, plenty of other companies do. The auditor should make a complete inventory of all your household appliances that use electricity and/or water. An energy audit is a good way to determine how efficient (or inefficient) your appliances are, and whether your home heating and cooling system is running efficiently.

Change your lights

Replace your incandescent light bulbs with more efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). The latter will last longer while using less power.

Water, water everywhere

Some modern, multi-headed shower systems spew out water at the incredibly wasteful rate of 80 gallons per minute (gpm). Buy a water saving showerhead that emits water at a rate of 1.75 gpm instead. You will save thousands of gallons a year.


Composting toilets, that turn human waste into natural fertilizer, are a great way to conserve water. However switching to a composting toilet is a pretty major step for most people. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of other things you can do in the bathroom to go green. Use recycled, processed-chlorine free toilet paper, organic cotton bath linens and a PVC-free shower curtain.

Magic carpet ride

Your home contains a magnet for dirt, dust, bugs, fungi, animal dander and toxins. It’s called a carpet—i.e. the wall-to-wall variety found in so many American living rooms. Not only is your carpet a dirt reservoir, but it’s probably made from nylon or some other petrochemical synthetic material. Use area rugs made from natural fibers instead. Make sure the rugs are stitched, not glued.


Instead of drowning your lawn in a sea of dangerous pesticides and chemicals, make your own bug and weed repellent from hot peppers and water. Some households remove the grass from their yards and replace it with rocks, gravel, wild flowers and native plants (hearty species that don’t require much water or fertilizer). If you do have a grass lawn, don’t feel obliged to constantly mow it. A “high mow” with a push mower gives grass the chance to grow sufficiently to deny shade to weeds, and hopefully, kill them.

Other simple suggestions:

  • Don’t run the water while brushing your teeth
  • Only use your toilet for its intended purpose, not as a ‘garbage disposal’
  • Cut shower time to five minutes max
  • Dry your clothes on an outdoor line or on a drying rack
  • Wash your clothes in cold water instead of hot
  • Use an organic, cotton or wool mattress and organic cotton bedding
  • Turn your thermostat down two degrees in winter. Turn it up to 73 in summer

These simple methods will help reduce your carbon footprint while saving money on utility bills. Any structural upgrades you make to the home will be especially valuable, as green homes are increasingly sought-after by many homebuyers. With global warming quickly becoming a huge issue, it’s up to each of us increase our focus on environmentally friendly, sustainable living.

Famous Homes

Famous Homes for The Holidays

Homes Made Famous in Favorite Holiday Movies


Home Alone House

RISMEDIA, December 20, 2010—As the decorations go up and the temperatures go down, winter is the perfect time to cozy up and indulge in a holiday movie marathon. While the Whos in Whoville and elves in Santa’s workshop live happily in our imagination, there is a plethora of real-life locations where some of the best holiday movie moments were captured. Here are some favorite festive flicks from over the years and a sneak peek at the homes and spaces that were part of the Christmas-season movie magic.

A Miracle on 34th Street

A movie loved by families worldwide, the story of 6-year-old Susan and Kris Kringle in “A Miracle on 34th Street” is the ultimate Christmas classic, and has been for over 50 years. The original was filmed in 1947 and starred Natalie Wood, Maureen O’Hara and John Payne. Since then, there have been four remakes of the movie, the most recent being a 1994 feature film starring Mara Wilson and Dylan McDermott. A majority of the movie is centered around Macy’s flagship store on 34th Street in New York City where Mr. Kringle is hired as Santa. One of the most memorable scenes, however, is when little Susan’s Christmas wish comes true and she sees the house of her dreams for the first time. The real home used as Susan’s dream home is located in Port Washington, New York. The 1,703-square-foot home still stands to this day and looks practically the same as it did in 1947.

A Christmas Story

A holiday season rarely passes without hearing the infamous phrase, “You’ll shoot your eye out!” This, of course, pertains to the Red Ryder BB-gun idolized by Ralphie Parker, but also serves as one of the most memorable lines of the Christmas classic, “A Christmas Story.” Filmed in 1983 and set in the 1940s, “A Christmas Story” has maintained its popularity over the years and has become a top-of-mind flick during the holidays. As a tribute to its immortality, the house originally used in the movie was completely restored and is now open to visitors who wish to walk in little Ralphie’s shoes. Located in Cleveland, Ohio, “A Christmas Story House” is open for tours year-round and sits right across the street from a museum of movie moments, props and costumes.


Inspired by “A Christmas Carol,” this comedy, “Scrooged,” stars Bill Murray as a selfishly cynical television executive who bathes in wealth but is horribly cold-hearted to his employees and family. As in the Charles Dickens’ original, Murray’s character, Francis “Frank” Xavier Cross, is haunted by three spirits on Christmas Eve who are determined to help him appreciate the spirit of Christmas. Before he embarks on his lesson-bearing adventure, we see Mr. Cross in his executive element, peering down at a recently fired employee from his towering office in New York City. It just so happens that the office building used in the movie is the 38-story, Midtown Manhattan skyscraper known as the Seagram Building. According to the movie location website On the set of New York, the corporate tower stands 516 feet tall and was built in 1958 as the headquarters for Canadian distillers Joseph E. Seagram’s & Sons.

Home Alone

The booby-trapping antics of Macaulay Culkin in his claim-to-fame flick, “Home Alone,” are always a family favorite come holiday season. And, aside from the sneaky robbers (aka Wet Bandits), Culkin’s character, Kevin McCallister, shared most of his screen time with the picturesque house that the rambunctious McCallister family called home. Today, the “Home Alone” house that Culkin so creatively defended sits quietly on a tree-lined street in Winnetka, Illinois, and is free and clear of rigged blow torches, flying paint cans and loose tarantulas. According to Zillow, the home was built in 1920 and features five bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms and 4,243 square feet of living space.

Home Alone 2: Lost in New York

Culkin comes back for an encore performance as Kevin McCallister in “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.” While the sequel sprouts the same premise of a frantic McCallister family who loses Kevin en route to a Christmas vacation, Kevin is set to defend a different location this time around—a monstrous toy store known as Duncan’s Toy Chest. Despite the film’s title, a little bit of digging revealed that Duncan’s Toy Chest was filmed at The Rookery, which is far from a department store and far from New York. The building used is actually a condo property on La Salle Street in Chicago, Illinois.


In “Elf,” Will Ferrell takes us on a hilariously heartfelt adventure as Buddy—a human raised by Santa’s elves who travels to New York City in search of his true identity. Since the 2003 film takes place in the Big Apple, most of the movie’s locations are veterans of the big screen, (i.e., the ice rink at Rockefeller Center, the Empire State Building and Central Park). As it turns out, the building where Buddy’s father lives is a blockbuster veteran as well. Nicknamed the “Ghostbuster Building,” the building at 55 Central Park West served as the location to several scenes in 1984’s “Ghostbusters” movie and, more recently, the home of Buddy’s cynical, naughty-listed father, Walter Cobbs (James Caan).

Built in 1929, 55 Central Park West opened with apartments ranging from three to nine rooms and set itself apart from neighboring Upper West Side buildings with a unique art deco exterior. Over the years, the co-op property has been home to several famous residents, including Calvin Klein, Donna Karan and Noel Ashman.

Bad Santa

For Billy Bob Thornton fans, “Bad Santa” is a Christmas favorite. Thornton puts a spin on the Grinch character by playing a mall Santa who cons his way into employment and robs different malls after hours. Thornton eventually befriends a troubled kid and takes up residence in his house while the parents are out of town. It was a pleasant surprise to discover the stucco-style home featured in the film is actually up for sale. The five-bedroom, 4.5-bathroom estate is currently on the market with an asking price of $1 million. Despite the home’s silver screen appearance, it boasts several other assets that are sure to attract the right buyers. According to the listing, the West Hills, California, house features panoramic city views, a custom infinity pool, barbeque center and 4,100 square feet of living space.

The Family Stone

While the movie received mixed reviews, the star-packed, romantic comedy, “The Family Stone,” was set in a gorgeous house in Riverside, Connecticut. In the movie, the 1860 colonial is the home and place of gathering for the Stone family’s annual Christmas celebration. Likewise, it is the place where a new and rather tightly wound girlfriend (Sarah Jessica Parker) is meeting the close-knit family for the first time. The 3,554 square-foot house consists of 10 rooms—five of which are bedrooms—3.5 bathrooms, and sits on 1.4 acres. With a classic, yet cluttered interior, this house is the ultimate, well-worn home that every family dreams of filling with holiday memories.

The Holiday

In the romantic comedy, “The Holiday,” two guy-troubled women (Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz) swap homes for the holiday season. True to romantic comedy form, both women find new loves at their new addresses. The home that Diaz swaps into is a quaint cottage on the English countryside. The swanky abode that Winslet temporarily takes over, however, is a Wallace Neff-designed home located in the small, affluent city of San Marino, California. According to Zillow, the 10,324-square-foot mansion has nine bedrooms, five bathrooms and a large outdoor pool (also featured in the film). Public records show the home last sold for $3,250,000 in 1998.

Lauren Riefflin is PR/Marketing Coordinator at Zillow.com.

For more information, visit www.zillow.com.

RISMedia welcomes your questions and comments. Send your e-mail to: realestatemagazinefeedback@rismedia.com.


“Ben” Paints Cville!

   It is always refreshing to meet people who are enthusiastic and knowledgeable about their products!  Today I had the pleasure of the grand tour of one of Benjamin Moore’s Signature Stores right here in Charlottesville, Virginia! 

 Bill Farmer, Regional Representative for Benjamin Moore and Deborah Bryning, Sales Manager, brought me up to date about  several new products that are environmentally friendly and perfect for allergy sufferers.

Not all green products are alike as Bill pointed out!  Apparently some paints are low VOC, which is great,  but they now have a premier product  called Natura which is virtually odorless and has zero VOCs. 

Aura was my favorite because of texture and incredible coverage, but from what I understand, each paint has a unique indication for different surfaces and conditions.

 Ben is a new paint marketed to the younger crowd and priced a bit more affordably for first time home buyers.  Your best bet is to consult with the experts!  Debbie Bryning has extensive experience with paint and decorating. Not only is she a Home Decor Consultant, she is certified as a  Hunter Douglas  Professional specializing in window fashions! With the variety of  window styles that we have here in Central Virginia, what better person to assist you than Debbie!

Paint swatches, Oh my Gosh! Instead of buying a quart to try or even the little sample jars (which I love!) try out a large paint swatch which is  $4.49 and worth it!!! You can move it around and you won’t have to cover your test area, how cool is that?

Dennis and Michael were very polite and helpful, customers were greeted and accomodated in a very efficient manner. Not one person went unrecognized and sales were handled professionally!

Benjamin Moore paints are available at three locations in our area, specifically:Blue Ridge Builders Supply in Crozet,    Blue Ridge Paint and Decorating on Greenbrier in Charlottesville and their newest store at  Blue Ridge Paint and Decorating in Palmyra located by the Turkey Sag Gate at Lake Monticello.We’re not the only ones who find product and customer satisfaction with Benjamin Moore Paint!  Check out this  experience  noted by another blogger, Jeannine at Small&CHIC!

Good Luck with your home remodeling  whether it is paint, flooring or window treatments; ask for professional guidance on your do it yourself projects!


Your Home Makes a First Impression

Personally, we are fans of  Benjamin Moore Paints and more specifically the Aura products!
The coverage and texture are fabulous and they are kind to the environment as well!  This paint has been certified under the  GREENGUARD Standard for Low Emitting Products and the  GREENGUARD for Children & SchoolsSM product certification programs. 

Locally, we have Blue Ridge Paint and Decorating with three locations  for your convenience.  Debbie Bryning is the manager at the Greenbrier Signature Store and I am off to meet her right now to hear more about the .  

 More information about paint to follow in our next post about your home and color.