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Posts from — June 2012

Smith Mountain Lake Sellers: Itemize What You’re Taking With You

Believe it or not, after months of searching countless homes, finding the perfect one, negotiating price and finally agreeing to a deal, a sale can fall apart over a disagreement about curtains.

When striking a deal to sell a home, it’s important that you are perfectly clear about what you are taking with you and what you are leaving behind. The general rule is that if something is attached to the structure or the ground, it is real property and stays with the house.

If removing the item would ruin or disfigure the walls, the item generally stays. If you need a tool to remove it, it stays.

Legally, these are called fixtures, which include everything permanently attached to the property such as a fence, built-in appliances, ceiling fans, flowerbeds and shrubs.

Conversely, if you can disconnect, unhook or detach an item from the home with bare hands, it’s free to leave when you do. This is known as personal property and should never be assumed to be part of the sale.

Items that fall into this category are furniture, potted plants, free-standing appliances and an outdoor grill.

A good rule of thumb is to not show your home with any fixtures you are planning to take. Replacing them is the better option.

Every real estate agent has a story about a deal falling through because of an argument about what a buyer thought was staying. For this reason, you should walk in each room with your agent and make a list of things that you will be taking with you.

If you decide to leave the curtains, chandeliers or are open to giving up some of the outdoor furniture, it may just help with a sale. People appreciate the notion of getting something for free, and a savvy agent will hint to a prospective buyer that fixtures and furnishing may be negotiable. Unless the items are really important to you, let them go with the home. Use them to get the price you want and then replace the items in your new home.

By itemizing and discussing all the things that stay and go at the outset, there will be no miscommunication on closing day.

June 27, 2012   No Comments

Don’t Drench Your Smith Mountain Lake Home Sale by Ignoring Plumbing Issues

A plumbing checkup should be among your top priorities when preparing your Smith Mountain Lake home for sale. Your buying prospects might flush toilets, turns on faucets and inspect the showerheads, while more seasoned “experts” will look under the cabinets for leaks and check for water spots around key areas. The last thing you want is to drench a buyer’s enthusiasm because you didn’t fix a simple plumbing issue.

Major plumbing renovations may be huge selling points, but many homeowners can get as much credit by simply fixing leaks and changing out a few faucets. If you can’t make repairs yourself invest in a reputable plumber.

Before allowing prospective buyers into your Smith Mountain Lake home, make sure you have strong water pressure and that there are no stains on any of the porcelain. Hire a local housecleaning company to remove difficult stains.

If you do nothing else, take care of any leaks in your plumbing system, as these will be instant deterrents for buyers. Check as much of your plumbing as possible for corrosion or rust. If your house has more than one story, a smart buyer will look at ceilings for water stains from leaking pipes. Make sure to paint the ceiling following repairs.

Prospective homeowners tend to focus on places where they can use their hands, so make sure that all the hot and cold water knobs are easy to turn, and that the faucets do not leak. Also ensure that sinks and tubs drain easily.

Finally, updated fixtures catch the eye of prospective buyers. A relatively small investment for new faucets can pay off when prospects walk through.

No buyer wants problems. Take care of simple plumbing issues and keep your sale from going down the drain.

June 26, 2012   No Comments

Down Payment Tips on a Smith Mountain Lake Home

Many people dream of owning a home at Smith Mountain Lake, but don’t think it’s possible because they lack the resources for a down payment and closing costs. Here are tips for securing that down payment.

  1. Borrow from your retirement account: Many people have been investing in a 401(k) plan or traditional IRA for years and first-time homebuyers may borrow up to $10,000 for their down payment without incurring a penalty. For those self-employed or if your employer allows it, you also can borrow up to $50,000 from your current 401(k) and pay yourself back over five years at a low interest rate.
  2. Ask family: Sure, you may be too proud to ask for money, but if relatives can help you and your family move into that dream home, isn’t it worth it? If you do get help from a family member, the lender will ask you to sign a gift-letter form, attesting to the relationship. The lender may also require your relatives to explain where they got the money and prove that they are financially able to make such a gift.
  3. Look for down payment assistance grants: Down payment assistance and community redevelopment programs offer affordable housing opportunities to first-time homebuyers, low-income and moderate-income individuals and families who wish to own a home.
  4. Come to a lease/purchase agreement: Homeowners who can’t sell their homes in this market may consider a lease/purchase agreement, where you rent the home you want to buy and a percentage of your rent is applied toward the down payment. If you go this route, make sure you get a contract outlining all the details so both parties are protected.
  5. Add it to the wedding registry: Several mortgage companies allow those getting married to set up a down payment registry. This is a great way to celebrate the joining of two people in matrimony.
  6. Cut back and save: If none of the other ways will work for you, there’s always the old fashioned “saving for a rainy day.” Try putting aside 10% of each paycheck and make your meals instead of going out for them. If you’re married, save the money you would spend on birthday, anniversary and Christmas presents and put it toward your house. You also may need to forget that vacation this year.

These sacrifices may seem significant but they will be worth it once you’re inside your own Smith Mountain Lake home.

June 25, 2012   No Comments

United Way of Franklin County Receives After 5 Jive Proceeds

United Way of Franklin County After 5 Jive check presentation. (Left to right) Jerry Forry, Store Manager of Smith Mountain Building Supply (Southlake), Pat Koger, Executive Director United Way of Franklin County, Jason M. Turner, President of Turner's Building, Inc., and Parker Waters, REALTOR with Prudential Waterfront Properties.

 

The United Way of Franklin County was presented with a $1,000 check for proceeds from the first After 5 Jive concert in June by Jason M. Turner, President of Turner’s Building, Inc. along with Jerry Forry, Store Manager of Smith Mountain Building Supply (Southlake), and Parker Waters, REALTOR with Prudential Waterfront Properties. Turner’s Building, Inc., Smith Mountain Building Supply, and Prudential Waterfront Properties are one of several co-sponsors of the After 5 Jive concert series.

The next outdoor event is scheduled for Thursday, July 5th featuring “Super Hold” performing at Westlake Towne Center. Gates open at 5 p.m. with live music getting underway at 5:30 p.m. through 8:30 p.m. Admissions for Adults is $5, children 10 and under are admitted free. Valid ID required for 21 and older. A children’s play area along with food and drink vendors will be on site. Lawn chairs are welcome. Coolers, outside food or drinks, rollerblades, skateboards and pets are prohibited.

After 5 Jive at Smith Mountain Lake is sponsored by Prudential Waterfront Properties, The Willard Companies, Carilion Clinic, Turner’s Building, Inc., Kroger, Ferguson Bath & Kitchen Gallery, Verizon Wireless Zone, Western Virginia Water Authority, Telemedia Productions, Smith Mountain Building Supply, Laker Media, WDBJ-7, Budweiser, and Coca-Cola.

For additional information visit www.After5Jive.com or contact (540) 721-5288.

June 22, 2012   No Comments

Smith Mountain Lake Condominiums: 10 Tips for Success

Whether you are a first-time buyer looking for a low-cost way into the Smith Mountain Lake housing market, purchasing your next home, or a veteran home-owner purchasing a vacation home, a condominium is definitely worth your consideration. Condominiums can provide you with a viable way to share the costs of maintenance and upkeep of a home, afford you more security, provide you with lifestyle amenities, and offer other conveniences that come with living in a defined community.

It is, however, important to understand the unique issues that come into play when purchasing a condominium at Smith Mountain Lake. Here are 10 tips that will make you the best buyer you can be.

  1. Learn About The Building And Structure – Just like purchasing a single-family dwelling, you should know some details. Find out when your particular condominium was built, and by whom. Learn about the history of the structure, when it was renovated or updated, number of previous owners of your unit, if it was rented out, and anything you can learn about it via public record or word-of-mouth. Find out about the roof, wiring, appliances, foundation, heating and cooling equipment, plumbing and other systems that will affect you on a day-to-day and seasonal basis. Understanding the history, planning, how the structure fits into the complex and other physical details is a first step in knowing what you are buying. It is also wise to look into issues around land and landscaping, including drainage and other elements that might affect your investment, like wetlands, large trees, and proximity to sensitive areas like cliffs or fire prone areas. If your condominium is more likely to have issues, you would want to know about these possibilities in advance.
  2. Learn About The Condo Association Or Governance Structure, And Who Manages The Building Day-To-Day – Your happiness and satisfaction might depend on a group of people or a management company that does not work within your standards of excellence. If the organization and management can be easily manipulated or changed, maintenance or other important issues might be mishandled. Get a feeling of the overall satisfaction with this structure and understand your level of involvement in participating with it. Reviewing the Board of Directors meeting minutes for the past year will help expose any “issues” needing resolution. These minutes should be available to review, and will provide black-and-white evidence about the nature of the group and how decisions are made.
  3. Read The Fine Print – Ask to see any paperwork that you would be signing prior to purchasing a condominium. These documents give you insight into rules, obligations and running of the building or complex. Don’t hesitate to bring it to a real estate lawyer, or at least to go over it with your real estate agent, if you have thoughts or concerns that should be made clearer to you. It isn’t just “mumbo jumbo” – these are legal documents that should be designed to protect you and your new neighbors. These documents might also spell out who is responsible in certain situations, or have big holes where things were overlooked. Before you buy is the time to ask questions. It is common for these documents to take days to review, so you need time. Don’t wait for a day or so before your closing to read them – ask for them as soon as you go into escrow.
  4. Know What Else To Ask – Also review the condominium’s financial statement, including annual budget, (for the past few years) and ask about a reserve fund study and understand the reserve fund account. Ask for a list of special assessments levied over the past decade, as this tells a lot about how realistic the operating budgets really are. Does this condominium association do adequate work to ensure that everyone’s investment is safe and secure, avoiding assessments that are the result of poor planning? Look at how much is in the reserve fund: experts recommend avoiding a purchasing a condominium if the reserve fund is funded less than 40% If you are unclear about this, get a second opinion from someone you trust. Ask to review the certificate of insurance, the summary of the association’s policy. You are checking to see if the replacement costs covered by the policy are an accurate estimate of the cost of rebuilding. Additionally, you will want to be sure that the policy has a building-ordinance clause, ensuring that the insurance will cover the cost of bringing the building up to code in the event that any rebuilding needs to be accomplished. When insurance or the reserve fund is inadequate, you are responsible for assessments on the repairs. Buying a great condominium in a fiscally irresponsible complex is a bigger risk, and in the event of a large capital expense, like a new roof or the failure of complex mechanical systems, you could be facing large assessments.
  5. Learn The Rules – When you buy a condo you agree to live by the rules that govern the building and community. This includes how the land and outdoor spaces are used and could even limit what you store in public site. Rules often govern whether units might be rented or how many rentals might be allowed at any given time. Understanding the rules around use of amenities, parking, working on a car, noise, business use of the unit, storage areas, restrictions on renting the unit or on guests – all should be clear from the beginning. before you buy, rent or move in. And if your lifestyle or intended use of the unit is going to be affected by these rules and regulations, be aware of that.
  6. Understand Obligations – Condos come with obligations; they might be Home-Owners Association dues, additional fees for maintenance or insurance, parking fees, waste disposal fees, pest control fees, or a commitment to do or not to do something in your unit. Understand these obligations before you buy or rent, as they are not negotiable. In tight economic times, what happens if you or your neighbors get behind in these fees? Fees can go up to cover necessary expenses, and you might have to cover a negligent neighbor. Your obligations when conducting a renovation or remodel are particularly important to know – so that you can save time and frustration later. Remember, if you purchase a condominium, you also have to consider outside obligations like property tax.
  7. Sneak A Peek At The Surroundings – Keen observation of the state of the parking facilities, hallways, common areas, any neighbors you might see, and the surrounding neighborhoods might help you to understand how you would feel living in close quarters. Try to determine the demographics of the development you are considering. Is it diverse, or does it serve a special community? How would you and your family “fit” not just in your unit, but in the community that a condominium complex naturally creates? Understand the effect that the size of the building and complex will have on your lifestyle. Is it a “party” place, or family oriented community? Are most of the units owner-occupied or rentals? All the rules of house-hunting apply, but more than ever, learning about the personality of the place will help you to determine your over-all satisfaction with your purchase.
  8. Be A Detective – You are entering into a potentially long-term relationship with a building and a group of people – so it is not weird to want to know all that you can going in. Your real estate agent and a real estate lawyer can help you to learn more about the background of the condominium you are considering and whether this particular unit would be right for you. Public records are available, often online, to help you in your task, too. In addition to learning about your investment, you will gain insight into problems that might have occurred in the past and how they were handled. You want to hear the bad along with the good.
  9. Don’t Be Fooled By Low Home Owner Association Dues – When Home Owner Association dues are low, the deal looks attractive – but if the reserve fund is not being adequately funded, you might end up with special assessments to cover necessary repairs. In fact, if you have low dues, planning your own reserve fund to cover potential assessments is not a bad idea.
  10. Look At Your Special Needs And How The Condominium Will Meet Those Needs – If you are disabled or have special needs, look into how these needs will be met, and if your condominium complex has issues that could come into play. There are books and watchdog groups that address these issues, but only YOU can understand your particular situation. Even if you are not disabled, understanding special needs is another way of gathering information about the personality of the condominium complex, and will aid your understanding of the parameters if you need to do any modifications to your unit in the future, should a need arise.

June 21, 2012   No Comments

Smith Mountain Lake July 4th Fireworks Display

Photo by Ted Pratt

The Saunders Volunteer Fire Company will present its annual Smith Mountain Lake Fireworks and Fire Company Fundraiser hosted by Parkway Marina in Huddleston on Wednesday, July 4th (Raindate Thursday, July 5th).  The spectacular fireworks presentation is preceded by a fun-filled day of activities — including live music with “The Worx.” Enjoy the spectacular fireworks show by boat or on the shoreline.  Car and Boat Show begins at 2 p.m. along with fire and rescue equipment, display and military hardware and vehicle display.  Beginning at 3 p.m., you can enjoy amusement rides, arts and crafts, a variety of foods, and live music by The Worx.

The SML Water Safety Council asks all boaters to travel at no-wake (idle) speeds within the No-Wake Zone boundaries from 7:30 PM July 4th until after heavy spectator traffic has departed the Zone following the fireworks (usually about 10:45 PM).  Skippers are expected to slow to idle speeds as they enter the zone for the safety and comfort of those already drifting in that area. Once boats reach the No-Wake Zone boundaries along their routes home after the fireworks, it should be safe to proceed at a prudent after-dark cruising speeds on up the channels.

We hope to have boats on the water that evening marking the boundaries with large orange balloons, lighted after dark. However, if you don’t see a marker boat along your path, realize that the boundaries are located roughly as follows:

  • From Bernard’s Landing/Rabbit Island across to the north-eastern shore of the Roanoke between R12 and R10
  • From Christmas Tree Island due east across the Blackwater
  • Across Craddock Creek at marker C3.

Extra caution and prudent speeds are also recommended while proceeding through the squeeze at the S-curve. The Water Safety Council, VDGIF and other lake safety patrols urge all boaters to wear their life jackets while boating on the July4th Holiday weekend. “You wore your seat belts getting here; wearing life jackets while on the water makes equally good sense.” Boaters who enjoy the fireworks are asked to help keep this SML tradition alive by sending a tax-deductible contribution to: Treasurer, Saunders Volunteer Fire Co., P.O Box 14, Huddleston, VA 24104.

The event culminates at dusk with a magnificent fireworks display including salutes from the National Guard’s howitzers! No Pets will be allowed on the Point.  For more details contact organizers at 540.297.4412.  Details are also available at the Smith Mountain Lake Visitor Center by calling 540.721.1203. Parkway Marina is located off of Smith Mountain Lake Parkway (Route 626) on the Bedford County shore of the lake.  Come out to celebrate America’s Independence Day Weekend.  Remember, Smith Mountain Lake — It’s Closer Than You Think!

June 20, 2012   No Comments