Pick a local Realtor when selling your home. It will make all the difference.

Home sellers, choose your real estate agent wisely.  It may make the difference between a sale, or a listing.  I’ve noticed a pattern in the Winchester, VA real estate market.  For some reason, numerous Winchester, VA home sellers are listing their properties with out of the area agents.  What is the value of that choice?  Here’s what I can tell you is the effect of listing with out of the area agents.

  • Out of the area agents don’t know the local market.  Without a thorough understanding of the local market, an out of the area agent is likely to attempt to sell your property at a price that will attract few if any buyers.
  • Out of the area agents are very often difficult to make contact with.  In the past three weeks, I’ve tried to sell two properties for out of the area agents.  One didn’t respond to my full price offer for 5 days.  Then she declined it.  The offer was full price, no contingencies with a closing in 45 days.  I noticed the closing date on her current contract closes in 5 months.
  • Out of the area agents don’t always have your property on their priority list.  You’re out of sight, out of mind.  I am waiting for an out of the area agent to respond to my email, phone call and text message now.  It has been three days.  If I can’t show your property, I can’t sell it.
  • Out of the area agents more than likely don’t know your house or your neighborhood.  They won’t be able to market your home like a local agent.
  • Out of the area agents took the same classes to receive their licenses, receive the same continuing education and follow the same state regulations as your local agent.  They have no advantage in those areas.
  • Out of the agents will not be available to run over to your house to check on it, meet a client, replace the key when an agent accidentally takes it with him.

There is little to no advantage to hiring an agent out of your area.  A local agent will have his finger on the pulse of the local market.  He can respond to inquiries and clients wishing to see the property on the spur of the moment, and he is more likely to know where your property is most likely to sell.  When your ready to sell your Winchester, VA home, call Cornerstone Business Group, Inc., for your local market experts.

Pick a local Realtor when selling your home. It will make all the difference.


In the eyes of a child . . .

In the eyes of a child . . . 

Most days in real estate are pretty similar.  There are the typical events that each deal goes through, and for the most part, it’s pretty routine.  I did an open house Saturday, and then I had to race back to town to meet a new client.  The new client was a nice family of 5.  There was the mom and dad and two little boys and a very petite little girl.

While we were looking at the house the kids were deciding who would get which room.  They staked out their territory, and they carried their choices to mom and dad.  It was very much the norm.  When we were leaving the second floor, everyone has headed down the stairs except for the little girl and me.  I stepped onto the top step, and the little girl was following along behind.  Then I felt this little hand insert itself in mine and grab on.  She looked up and smiled knowing that I would help her navigate the long staircase, and I smiled back and she knew she was safe.  It was a precious moment.


In the hustle-bustle of the sales world, it’s easy to forget the benefactors of our craft.  A home should provide a sense of safety and security for the little ones in our lives, and Miley’s gesture just reinforced that.  With that simple gesture, she let me know that she trusted me with her safety.  Home-buyers and home-sellers do that everyday.  They entrust us with one of their biggest life choices.  That trust should be the motivation each of us needs to do a world class job with each and every client.  They are trusting us with their futures, and we should handle them with great care.

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?

What to look for when buying a foreclosure in Winchester, VA

What to look for when buying a foreclosure in Winchester, VA

While the real estate market continues to show some signs of life, there are still pockets of high volumes of foreclosures and short sales throughout the country.  In the Winchester / Frederick County, VA area the current inventory of REOs has fallen to 44.  That may sound like a lot, but it is below previous numbers.

These REOs (Real Estate Owned,or Bank Owned) properties range in price from $79900-$379900.  They offer bedroom and bath numbers from 1/1 to 5/3.  With interest rates at record lows, it’s a great time to hop off the fence and take a second look at one of these foreclosed properties.  When you do, there are some things you will want to look for, such as:

  • The overall condition of the property.  Are there broken windows, damaged door frames, soiled and smelly carpet or other unwelcome short-comings?  Remember, some defects will not pass FHA / VA loan requirements.  If the property is damaged, you may want to keep looking.
  • Look in unconventional places for signs of problems.  People notoriously paint a room and ignore the closets.  Always look in every closet to see if there are any wet spots on the ceiling.  Look under every vanity for water signs.  Look in sink base cabinets to see if there are water stains from a leaky sink, food disposal or dishwasher drain line.
  • If there are more baths or bedrooms than the tax record reports, check with the local inspections office to see if a permit was ever pulled.  If it was, was it ever closed?  Many contractors will put their rough-in and final inspection stickers on the electrical panel door.  Always check with your locality about inspections.  Electrical inspections are very important due to the obvious danger they present to unsuspecting users of power outlets.
  • Look around the exterior of the house for settling and drainage issues.  If the soil is lower against the house than it is a couple feet away you have a potential drain issue that can create major problems at some point.  Those types of problems are typically easy to repair with grading and landscaping.
  • Look in the attic for moisture stains on the underside of the roof.  While you’re up there, check on the insulation depth.  Different parts of the country have different R-values based upon the needs in that specific area.  That information can be easily found online or at a local big box construction material supplier.
  • Sniff, sniff, sniff.  Do you smell anything unusual.  Of course some REOs reek from the way angry owners left it, but in some cases, mold may be growing behind drywall or under carpets.  If you smell something that is unrecognizable, leave the house and ask that it be inspected by a home inspector.
  • Rub the walls with your hand.  If it comes back black, there is likely a ventilation issue with the fireplace or wood stove chimney.  Ask that it be inspected.
  • Step back in the yard and look at the roof.  Do you see ripples or missing shingles?  Ask about the age of the roof.  This may be hard to find on an REO, but a home inspector can give you a good idea.
  • Ask for an inspection on the well and septic system.  A drain field must be a specific distance from a well head.  You will want to know if it is outside those limits before you place a contract on it.  It’s very expensive to move either one.

Remember, most lenders will only do the bare minimum to get a property ready for resale.  Some lenders will not do anything.  Most will not guarantee the property.  It is your responsibility to make sure you know what you’re buying.  Once you close the deal, it’s yours.  As-is means as-is.  So, do a thorough inspection of an REO before putting a contract on it.

Things your mom said . . .

Most of us have a list of things our mothers said to us when we were kids.  Some of those things came to pass and some didn’t.  Here’s a short list of the ones I’ve heard from my mother and the mothers of my childhood friends.

  • Don’t go outside without your coat on.  You’ll catch your death of cold.  Mom 0 / MomKids 1  (Shivered a few times, but no death.)
  • Don’t climb that tree you’ll fall and break your neck.  Mom 0 / Kids 1
  • If you fall out of that tree and break your leg don’t come running to me.  Mom 0 / Kids 1
  • Don’t run in the street, you’ll get run over!  Mom 0 / Kids 1
  • Don’t go outside with wet hair.  You’ll catch pneumonia.  Mom 0 / Kids 1
  • Put that BB gun down.  You won’t be happy until you shoot somebody’s eye out.  (Well, I never shot anybody’s eye out, but I was never really happy either.  Just kidding.)  Mom 0 / Kids 1
  • Don’t make that face.  It’ll freeze that way.  Mom 0 / Kid 1
  • If all your friends were jumping off a cliff, would you jump off a cliff?  (And bungee jumping was born.  Thanks, Mom) Mom 0 / Kids 1
  • ait till your father gets home.  Mom 0 / Kids 1 (Whew!)
  • You’ve got enough dirt behind those ears to grow potatoes. Mom 0 / Kids 1  (Not a single spud.)
  • When you grow up I hope you have kids just like you.  Mom .5 / Kids .5   (At least they’ve been entertaining.)
  • Close that door.  Were you born in a barn?  Mom 0 / Kids 1 (Weren’t you there?)
  • If you swallow that watermelon seed you’ll grow watermelons in your stomach.  Mom 0 / Kids 1   (And I thought I was just fat.)
  • If you keep playing with it, it will fall off!  Mom 0 / Kids 1 (I’m
    not really sure what “it” was, but I’m glad to report that I still have all my parts.)
  • Don’t ever let me catch you doing that again!  Mom 0 / Kids 1 (Change in venue.)
  • You should go into Real Estate.  I think you would be good at it.  Mom 100 / Kids 0  Thanks, Mom!

Happy Mother’s Day!