What are the benefits of buying a Winchester, Virginia short sale?

What are the benefits of buying a Winchester, Virginia short sale?

What are the benefits of buying a Winchester, Virginia short sale?  What are the  benefits of buying a Winchester, Virginia short saleShort sales do have their challenges, but with the right agent, a short sale can offer a great opportunity for any buyer.  Some of the benefits and challenges of buying a short sale are:

  • Short sales tend to be in better condition.  Typically, the owners are still in the home.  Just because they find themselves in a distressed situation doesn’t mean they will start ignoring the needs of their property.
  • Short sales tend to be priced at or below foreclosures.  I recently closed a short sale that sold at 47% of the homeowners mortgage.  That is a substantial discount for a new buyer.
  • Short sales tend to take longer to be approved and closed than fair market or foreclosure properties.  If time is of the essence, a short sale may not be for you.  I’ve seen short sales take 9 months to get all through the process, but the trend is moving to shorter turnarounds.  I’ve had them close within 2 weeks of contract, but I’ve averaged an approval to closing in the 60-90 day range.
  • Short sale lenders must approve the purchase even if the homeowner has accepted the contract.  So, the contract is not final without that third-party approval.
  • Short sale lenders rarely make any repairs or offer any assistance in a short sale.  If you need closing cost help, this may not be the purchase for you.
  • Short sales can be a great option if you have an experienced short sale agent working with you.  Contact Cornerstone Business Group, Inc., to discuss your short sale options.  This is a time where experience counts.

If you would like to buy, or if you need to sell your home through the short sale process, give us a call at 540-722-6029.  There are benefits in buying a Winchester, Virginia short sale.


Amanda Davidson, your real estate pro in Northern Virginia

In 2012, I had the privilege to meet Amanda Davidson of Living a Amanda Davidson, Real Estate Broker, Northern VADream Real Estate.  We’ve done a few projects together, and I have come to admire her in a number of ways.

Amanda is an intelligent and skilled real estate broker.  She knows her market and she represents her clients well.  Last year, I talked to one of her clients about his experience with her, and he was thrilled with the service she provided in helping him find a home, and he would gladly use her services again.

One of the other things I’ve come to appreciate about Amanda is her compassion for animals.  Being the daughter of a vet, it’s no surprise.  She has a rescue pit bull named Walter, who is a love.  Walter is the kind of pit bull that dispels all of the bad press pit bulls have received over the past decade.  I’ve always believed that the owner brings out the best in a dog. If that is true, Walter has a great owner.  He is a sweetheart.

I also enjoy Amanda’s sense of humor.  She has an infectious laugh that is hard to ignore.  We’ve talked a number of times in person and on the phone, and it is always peppered with laughter.

If you’re looking for a real estate broker in the Alexandria, VA area who will take care of all of your real estate needs, I highly recommend Amanda Davidson.  Amanda is a true professional with the right stuff to get your real estate needs met, and she will do it with a smile.  Give her a call today at 703-431-3755.

Turn Setbacks into Springboards

Turn Setbacks Into Springboards

The one thing I love about New Years is that it is a time to start over.  OK, you failed at your diet in 2011.  Instead of weight-loss it was weight-found, no problem.  Start over.  You didn’t make the top ten agents in the US, your State, your office or your solo brokerage, no problem.  You get another chance.  You didn’t make the top 30 under 30 list, no problem.  There’s always the top 40 under forty list.  Begin again.

We all need points in our lives where we get another chance.  You can let life’s failings derail and wreck your life, or you can pick yourself up and dust yourself off and start over.  When the economy crashed in September of 2008 my stock portfolio literally disappeared.  I had traded over 600 trades that year and was on my way to an early retirement.  My first impression on seeing the news was, “Wow, that really sucks!”  That was pretty much it.

It drives my wife crazy because I don’t go crazy when things like that happen.  It wouldn’t make a bit of difference if I did, but what I will do when I have more time in the office is re-establish all of my former brokerage accounts, and I will start again.  I know now, that you cannot be a trader like I was and be away from the markets for days on end.  If you do, you could end up with a negative balance in your account, and you can owe more than you invested in the stock market.  Lesson learned.

That’s just one example, but we’ve all had setbacks.  We’ve all been hit so hard that we didn’t think we could recover.  Maybe it was a divorce.  Maybe it was a business partner who ran off with all of the money.  Maybe it was the loss of a loved one, the end of a friendship or the alienation of a relationship.  It happens to all of us, but what we do with the pain will determine if the past controls the future. 

There are things you can do when you have setbacks that can help you not only get back on track, but they can put you on a better track.

  • What did you do wrong, if anything, in the failure?  In my day-trading days I know that I have to stay engaged all the time. You can’t leave a half a million dollars on a park bench and assume it will be there when you get back.  It most likely will not.  Lesson learned.
  • What could you have done differently?  In a friendship relationship, it might be best not to spend too much time with a friend.  There is balance between what is healthy and what is unhealthy.  You can feel it down deep inside when it starts to turn unhealthy.  Listen to that inner voice.
  • Don’t set unrealistic goals and expectations.  Saying you’re going to lose 50 lbs is a great goal if you need to, but it might be a bit overwhelming if you have a couple setbacks early.  Set smaller achievable goals.  When you meet them, they will inspire you to go just a little bit further.  Each success fuels the next success.
  • Talk less and listen more.  I was in a salvage yard years ago listening to a man blowing off about something.  Everyone was starring at him.  The poor guy behind the counter was making a host of apologies for whatever had offended the guy, but nothing would appease him.  Finally, the counterman asked me, “Mr. Cooper, what do you think?”  I simply said what was on my mind, “A fool is known by the multitude of his words.”  The place went silent, and the bloviator left.  Problem solved for those of us listening. The company wasn’t ever going to pacify him.  So, offending him was not a problem.  Listen more, talk less.
  • Approach some issues more slowly.  I’m a very fast moving person.  I make decisions very rapidly.  It’s unnerving for some around me, but most issues have the answer peeking out of the issue.  If you’re paying attention, you will see it.  Some do not.  In those cases, you need to proceed slowly.  If you’re unsure about something, take your time.

Everyone faces setbacks at some point.  How you deal with them will determine if they have a hidden value or a heart full of pain.  Sometimes, they may have both, but in it all you can still grow and become a much wiser better person.

What electrical issues should cause a concern when buying a home?

What electrical issues should cause a concern when buying a home?

There are lot of issues a potential buyer should consider when looking at a piece of real estate, but few are more important than the electrical system.  What electrical system issues should cause a concern when buying a home?  A good home inspector will be able to identify these items for you.

The first electrical issue a home-buyer should consider is what kind of electrical service does the house have?

  • What amperage is it?  100 amp (absolute bare minimum), 200 amp (the modern day minimum), 400 amp (the new norm)
  • Fuses or breakers? – Along with the size of the service is the issue of fuses or breakers.  A fuse panel screams “OLD” panel and potentially old wiring.  Breakers should be the current norm.  Fuse panels should be replaced.
  • Panel brand – Most electrical panels should bare the UL label and are safe for current installations, but a Federal Pacific panel is a major red flag.  Federal Pacific was closed down in the mid-80s because their breakers would not trip under  stress.  The problem resulted in fires and the danger of panel arc flashes that could severely burn anyone nearby.  The breakers can be recognized by their distinct orange trip handle.  These boxes are dangerous and should be changed immediately.
  • Is the service grounding attached to the exterior ground rod, or rods,  and to an interior water pipe?  The interior ground may be unnecessary if the water line entering the home is plastic.  If it is not plastic, a # 4 bare copper wire should be attached to the cold water line within 5 feet of its entrance into the home.  The current norm for exterior grounding is 2 – 8′ ground rods spaced 6′ apart and interconnected with a #6 bare copper conductor wire.

The second issue of concern is related to ground fault receptacles.

  • Every receptacle above a kitchen counter needs to be covered
    by a GFI receptacle or GFI breaker mounted in the panel box.
  • Every bathroom receptacle needs to be GFI protected.  Bathrooms can be interconnected, but under current code requirements bathroom receptacles cannot link to receptacles outside the bathroom.  They also cannot be linked to switches inside or outside of the bathroom.  Older homes may be grandfathered in these circumstances.
  • All exterior receptacles need to be GFI protected.
  • All garage receptacles need to be GFI protected.  The only exception relates to dedicated receptacles for appliances, such as refrigerators, freezers or air compressors, etc.  These items should be identified as single receptacles.
  • Service receptacles for HVAC equipment in attics, crawl spaces or near heat pumps and exterior air conditioners need to be GFI protected.
  • Any receptacles within 6′ of any sink.  Washer receptacles are excluded, but for safety, they should be single dedicated receptacles.

A third issue, also related to receptacles concerns grounding and wiring techniques.

  • Grounded receptacles should never replace un-grounded
    receptacles if no grounding conductor is present.  Just replacing the two pronged receptacles with three pronged receptacles does not protect devices plugged in the receptacle.  The easy way to know if receptacles are truly grounded can be discovered with an inexpensive plug-in tester that can be purchased at any hardware store.
  • If the receptacles are not grounded a GFI receptacle can be place at the beginning of a line of ungrounded receptacles to provide a level of protection for devices down the line.
  • Backstabbing receptacles is a wiring technique that has been an approved wiring technique for decades, but it has in inherent danger.  Backstabbing is the process of pushing bare wires into little holes on the back of the device.  Over time, if a device is generating heat because of the product plugged into it (portable heater, window air conditioner) – it will start to arc and burn the insulation off the wires.  Take a look at the examples on my Quality Electric Co., Facebook page.  A home inspector can randomly pull a receptacle out of the wall to check to see how the device is wired.  If your inspector does not do this in his typical inspection, please request it.  The safest way for a receptacle or switch to be wired is to place the wires around the device screws and tighten.

There are additional issues that may have lesser concerns, but some of those mentioned above are worthy of a second look when considering a home purchase.  Many homes built before 1985 may have one or more of these issues.

Always look for inspection stickers on the inside door of the electrical panel.  If any new work has been done on the house, such as a finished basement, a closed-in porch, an addition, a pool, hot tub or interior remodel an electrical inspection would be required at the rough-in and completion of the work.  The inspection stickers should be attached to the panel door.  Look for final stickers.

The age of a home and the wiring system may be different from decade to decade.  A 40 year old house will not have the same National Electrical Code requirements of a current home.  Your home inspector will be able to give you a better idea of what the code standards were at the time of construction.   Be a savvy shopper.  Your safety may depend on it.

1. Buying your first home in Winchester VA

2. What to look for when buying a foreclosure in Winchester VA

3. Short Sale inventory in Winchester VA

4. Winchester, VA – The best bedroom community for the Washington, D.C. area

5. Passion is contagious – Infect somebody!

6. Winchester, Virginia is a great place to buy a house at great discount!

7. This simple electrical test could save your life.

8. Turn setbacks into springboards

9. Reduce your mortgage by pre-paying principle and eliminating interest

10. What can I do to sell my home more quickly?