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Posts from — November 2009


The Willard Companies is excited to announce Smith Mountain Lake’s Third Annual Holiday Tree Lighting ceremony in conjunction with a “Holiday Open House” and  U.S. Marines Toys for Tots drive at Westlake Towne Center. New this year is that the three day event will begin on Thursday, December 3, 2009 from 4:00 – 8:00 p.m. and will continue through Saturday, December 5, 2009 from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. All events will take place in front of Westlake Library and the Retail Shops.

The Blue Spruce holiday tree selected for the event will stand approximately 22’ tall and was picked from Joe’s Tree Farm in Craig County, Virginia. The tree will be centrally located at the retail shopping center and stand in front of Westlake Library at Westlake Towne Center.

In addition to the holiday tree lighting ceremony, the U.S. Marines will be coordinating a flag lowering ceremony in support of Toys for Tots drive. Flag presentation recipients will be Bill King, Former National Commander of the 29th Division Association along with wife, Juanita King, Current Women’s National Commander of the 29th Division Association. Toys for Tots collection boxes will be located inside each of the participating businesses including Inside Out by Kris, Haywood’s Jewelers, Westlake Salon & Spa, Cottage Gate, The Little Gallery II, Smith Mountain Lake Retirement Village (Runk & Pratt), Westlake Library, Kroger, Carilion Clinic and Westlake Cinema. The first 150 individuals who donate a new, unwrapped toy will be given a complimentary ticket to a special showing of “Polar Express” at Westlake Cinema, which is scheduled to begin at 8:00 p.m. immediately following the event. The movie voucher can be picked up at any participating retail store during the night of the event once a toy is donated. Tickets are not available for purchase.

During Thursday evening’s festivities, participating Towne Center businesses will also be offering previews to exclusive holiday gifts while serving refreshments. In addition, a live concert featuring the Smith Mountain Lake Harmeneers, Philip and Tara Bouknight, and Dudley Elementary is scheduled throughout the evening. Holiday photos opportunities with Santa Claus will be available. A breakdown of the three-day event is as follows:

Thursday, December 3, 2009

4:00 – 8:00 p.m.
“Holiday Open House”
Santa Claus Visit
Children and Family Holiday Photo Opportunities

US Marines Flag Ceremony and Presentation
Toys for Tots drive

Smith Mountain Lake Harmeneers

Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony
Philip and Tara Bouknight
Dudley Elementary Children Choir

Polar Express” movie

Friday, December 4, 2009 and Saturday, December 5, 2009
10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.    Retail Businesses “Holiday Open House”

During the “Holiday Open House,” shoppers can also register at each participating store for a Gift Pack drawing along with enjoying complimentary refreshments. Each store will have entry forms and a list of gifts. One person will win a complete gift pack at the conclusion of Saturday’s event.

According to Christopher Finley, Director of Marketing and Communications for The Willard Companies, “With a number of other regional events scheduled this time of year, we moved the Holiday Open House and Tree lighting ceremony to Thursday night to allow more lake-area families to come out and enjoy a great kickoff to the holiday season. We are really excited to offer a forum for the community to come together, support local businesses, and collect toy donations for a worthy cause.”

November 23, 2009   No Comments


U.S. real estate received a big boost from Congress earlier this month when President Obama signed into law a five-month extension of the first-time homebuyer tax credit and a new tax credit benefiting existing homebuyers.

The first-time credit, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, was set to expire Nov. 30. Both credits will be available for qualified buyers through April 30. “Congress did the right thing by extending and expanding these tax credits,” said Prudential Real Estate and Relocation Services President Earl Lee. “The first-time homebuyer credit played a significant role in the U.S. housing market’s recovery in 2009, and both will help the market in the new year.”

According to the National Association of REALTORSrego.jpg, nearly half of all home sales are now being made by first-time purchasers. In fact, 47 percent of all Americans who purchased homes this year had not owned one during the previous three years, said NAR, up from 36 percent in 2006. NAR forecasts that existing home sales will rise 2 percent this year to just over 5 million. NAR predicts a 13.6 percent gain in 2010 to 5.69 million homes sold.

The first-time homebuyer tax credit equates to as much as $8,000, or 10 percent of a principal residence’s purchase price and is available to those who have not owned a principal residence in the past three years. Existing homeowners who have lived in their current home for at least five consecutive years of the previous eight and who are purchasing a home to be their principal residence may be eligible for up to a $6,500 tax credit.

November 23, 2009   No Comments


Opportunity is knocking for those considering homeownership for the first time. Historically low interest rates, lower home prices in most markets and the first-time homebuyer tax credit – part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 – brought first-timers to the market in droves during the first half of the year.

In fact, these consumers represented about half of home sales logged during much of 2009’s first two quarters, according to the National Association of REALTORS®, a significant increase from historic levels. And the favorable conditions that prompted many of these buyers are likely to continue. Even the first-time homebuyer tax credit – set to expire Dec. 1 – may get a second wind as legislation is pending in both houses to extend it into the new year.

Today’s opportunities aside, here are eight time-honored reasons why those considering homeownership for the first time should make their move.

1. Pride of Ownership

Owning your own home adds to your own sense of self-esteem and personal pride. The satisfaction that comes from feeling connected to the land you occupy and the home in which you live is ages-old. 

2. Security of Tenancy

With homeownership comes stability. When renting, you never know when you may have to move because of new ownership, rent increases or other changes. As a homeowner, you decide when and if you want to move.

3. Privacy

While there are usually some limits on the access landlords have to property, almost all landlords can access your property for necessary inspections and maintenance. For many renters, this lack of privacy is a significant discomfort. Homeowners on the other hand generally have much stronger property rights and experience an increase in perceived and actual privacy.

4. Decorating

Homeowners are free to decorate, remodel and accessorize a home any way they want. Not only do you have the right to make improvements, but the value of those improvements becomes yours as well. Having your living space and exteriors just the way you want them can significantly increase your satisfaction with your living environment.

5. Financial Predictability

When you buy a home with a fixed-rate mortgage, you have more predictability over future housing costs. Because your interest rate never changes, the amount of your payment never changes. Financial planning and credit are more easily managed with a fixed-rate mortgage compared to renting.

6. Building Equity

When you own your own home, you pay rent to yourself instead of a landlord. Most homeowners pay for their purchase by obtaining a mortgage. As you pay off that mortgage, your equity builds and you gain an increasingly larger share in a valuable asset. Over time, that asset can work for you in many ways, such as home equity lines of credit. And of course, a home is a wonderful asset to pass along in an estate.

7. Investment Appreciation

There are certainly no guarantees of property value appreciation. In the long-term, however, real estate valuations almost always increase. This means that when you decide to sell your home, its value may be significantly higher than when you purchased it. The difference in value is called appreciation. You can reinvest that appreciation in other real estate or you may wish to downsize and keep the value of that appreciation for retirement or other purposes.

8. Tax Benefits

In the United States, the cost of home mortgage interest and property taxes are usually tax-deductible. Depending on your circumstances, thousands of dollars in taxes can be saved each year. These tax savings are not limited to federal taxes either. Many states and localities either base their tax system on the federal system or offer similar incentives to homeownership. Some additional benefits are designed specifically for first-time homebuyers. See your tax advisor for additional information.

If you still have doubts, contact a real estate professional in your community. He or she can answer questions you may have about homeownership and explain the buying process to you.


Prudential Waterfront Properties markets property throughout Smith Mountain Lake and the surrounding areas. As members of the Multiple Listing Service, Prudential Waterfront Properties REALTORS® are able to assist buyers and sellers with all listed properties in a variety of price ranges and locations throughout the lake and surrounding areas. Prudential Waterfront Properties REALTORS® are consistent leaders in sales as well as customer and client service. Visit online at

November 11, 2009   No Comments


Whenever a natural disaster is broadcast on the news—whether a tropical storm hitting a state along the Atlantic Ocean, wildfires in the West or—it serves as a reminder how hazardous water, wind, fire and earth movement can be to your home, perhaps your most cherished and largest investment. But, there are immediate actions you can take to protect your property and prevent major damage should one of these elements strike in the future. Depending on the age of your home and the building codes in your area, some of these improvements may already be in place.

Apart from major flooding, most damage occurs when water seeps in through cracks and leaks. Make sure that windows and doors are well sealed. Seal any cracks and holes in the foundation and exterior walls. Repair or replace roof shingles around any area that allows water to penetrate the roof sheathing. Check for holes or air leaks in the attic and basement. Your basement windows and doors should have built-up barriers or flood shields.  Inspect your sump pump regularly to make sure that it is working properly. Install or make sure that the flashing, a thin metal strip, around the doors, windows, thresholds, chimney and roof are in tact.

Minimize the damage by keeping the wind from getting inside your home. Windows and glass doors should be fitted with impact-resistant laminated glass or covered with impact-resistant shutters. Consider solid wood or hollow metal doors, which are more likely to resist wind pressure and flying debris. There are also roofing products with high wind resistance available.

Some inexpensive home improvements that you can make include installing a spark arrestor on your chimney, eliminating brush and debris from around your property, and modifying your attic, sub-floor and basement vents. More expensive improvements include replacing single-pane glass windows, doors or skylights with tempered glass, recovering your exterior walls with a more fire-resistant material, and re-roofing your home with a Class A roof covering.

Of course, there may be times, when no amount of prepping can protect your home. However, homeowners insurance can help protect you financially in case something happens to your property or its contents.  Most standard homeowners insurance policies include structural coverage and personal property coverage. 

Periodically review your homeowner’s insurance policy to make sure that you are adequately covered to rebuild your home and replace your contents.

If there is ever damage to your personal property, having a home inventory can make it easier when filing an insurance claim. Start with a sheet a paper for each room in the house. Go around the room and list every item. Don’t forget the attic, basement or other storage places. For each item, write the original cost, purchase date, replacement cost, model number, brand name, where purchased, and a general description. In addition, take photos or video of each room for visual documentation. It is also a good idea to arrange valuable collections, silver, jewelry, etc. and take close up photos.  Make sure you update your home inventory photos and list at least once a year.

When weather-related disasters strike, what’s most important is your safety and that of your family.  However, by taking precautions to protect your home, you can possibly help keep damage to a minimum; or in the case of severe damage, make sure that you have the financial means to rebuild.

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November 9, 2009   No Comments