It’s time for real estate fence sitters to jump off the fence.

If you’ve been sitting on the real estate fence wondering when it would be a good time Fenceto jump in, it’s now.  The real estate market in Winchester, VA is starting to shift toward a seller’s market.  The number of foreclosures are dropping, and even though short sales have taken on a greater role, they are also dropping.

Property values are starting to stabilize.  The odds of grabbing that property that is radically undervalued and a great opportunity are quickly slipping away.  Buyers who are looking for deals need to jump off of the fence soon.  If not, it will be too late to get a discount on a great home.  The local market is turning in favor of sellers.

That’s good news for sellers.  Of the 321 homes currently pending in Winchester, 165 of them went under contract in less than 30 days.  Of that number, 83 went under contract in less than 10 days, and 45 went under contract in less than 5 days.  What does that tell you?  It’s time to get your property listed because they are selling quickly.  The Winchester, VA real estate market is shifting in favor of sellers.  It’s time for buyers to jump off the fence before they miss a great deal.

It’s time for real estate fence sitters to jump off the fence.


“Why do I need a pre-approval to submit a contract?”

“Why do I need a pre-approval to submit a contract?”  I hear that question in about 1 out of 3 contracts that I write.  It’s simple.  The seller wants to know if you can buy the house.  A pre-qualification letter may suffice for some sellers, but I’m running into more and more banks that won’t accept a pre-qualification letter in place of a pre-approval letter.

A pre-qualification letter is a letter based upon information given to a lender, but isn’t necessarily verified.  For instance, I may have a client call a lender who will take his information over the phone and then formulate a dollar amount the buyer would qualify for if the information is verified.  It’s a simple process.

A pre-approval letter is going to include verification of income, debt, credit, available funds, etc.  It’s much more valuable in a bidding war because it gives a seller up front information that will not have to be verified after the offer is accepted.  It speeds up the process and gives a seller confidence to accept an offer.

When you are ready to buy a home, start at your lender’s office.  Find out what price property you are qualified to buy, and then contact your Cornerstone agent to find that home.  In today’s competitive real estate market, you want every possible advantage when it’s time to buy.

“I want to buy a house, but I don’t have a clue what I’m doing. Can you help me?”

“I want to buy a house, but I don’t have a clue what I’m doing.  Can you help me?”  Absolutely.  I had a client say that to me this week.  Buying a house is a simple, yet complicated process.  If you’re truly ready when you start looking at houses, it’s simple.  If you’re not, if can become complicated.

They type of house you buy can be simple or complicated.  A fair market purchase can be reasonably uncomplicated, but don’t depend on that.  In contrast, short sales and foreclosures can be complicated, but here again, don’t always expect that.  Let’s start at the beginning.  There are a couple important steps that can get you prepared for a home purchase.

  • How much home can you afford?  It doesn’t matter what you see with your eyes if you can’t materialize it with your wallet.  You should visit a lender who can get you, at a minimum, pre-qualified to buy a house.  I prefer that you get pre-approved.  When that happens, you will have more paperwork involved and you will be more certain of the limits of your purchase.  It’s a great place to start.  It will help you discover danger signs in your credit history, or it might just offer you a pat on the back for a great track record.  Until you go, you won’t know the fullness of it.
  • Where do you want to live?  City, county, subdivision, rural, townhouse, condo, single family detached?  This community, that community?  Where? Real estate is always location, location, location.  Your location will affect the price of the house as much as the style and size of the house.
  • What type of house do you need, want or desire, and those three are not necessarily the same thing.  You should list what you actually need.  What are the basics you must have?  Then, list what you want.  What do you want beyond basic necessities?  Finally, if money was no object, what would you like in a home?  Those dreams do happen, even with a limited budget.
  • When do you want to move?  That time-line may affect what type of house buy.  A short sale may take longer than a fair market sale or a foreclosure purchase, but you might get more house for the money too.  Also, if you have time to wait, you might consider a VHDA or USDA loan.  They are government backed loans, and they take a little longer to complete but they have numerous advantages too.
  • Do you understand the importance of a Realtor to your purchase?  A buyer’s agent is your first line of defense against being taken advantage of.  Your agent can help find the right house for you.  He/she can help you see things you might miss when looking at houses.  He/she can help you determine if a house is overpriced or a true value based upon neighbor and area comps.  He/she is also there to protect your best interests.  A good agent can help you see the advantages and disadvantages of certain homes.  He/she can steer you to the right lenders, home inspectors, insurance providers, closing companies and attorneys, and he/she can make sure you get across the finish-line with the home of your dreams.

When you’re ready to take that step, give your Cornerstone representative a call (540-722-6029).  We’ll walk you through the process, and we’ll help you find the home that meets your needs.  Experience counts, and Cornerstone Business Group, Inc., is in the business of making things happen everyday.

“I want to buy a house, but I don’t have a clue what I’m doing.  Can you help me?”

Homeowner wiring might be a red flag. Check it out before you buy.

Homeowner wiring might be a red flag. Check it out before you buy. 

One of the things I immediately see when I show a house is the electrical system.  I instinctively look at the wiring early in a walk-through because poor wiring can signal other things are not right with a home.  On a recent electrical project my contracting company did, we found some of the most amazing, and dangerous, wiring I’ve seen in 40+ years in the field.

The former homeowner had done a lot of his own wiring.  That alone is a great reason to have a home inspection.  When someone tells me he has done a lot of the wiring, I get nervous.  Once in a great while, it’s awesome, but that really is the exception and not the norm.  This particular project had splices on top of splices.

It took longer to untangle the various connections than it did to re-wire the entire series of circuits.  How some of these homes don’t burn down is a mystery.  When you’re looking at a home to purchase, have a reputable home inspector do an inspection before you start figuring out where to put your furniture.  If there is one obvious electrical problem, be aware, there might be dozens hidden behind drywall, in crawl spaces and attics.  This is an area that you never want to cut corners on.


Homeowner wiring might be a red flag. Check it out before you buy.