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Dealing with the Down Payment

Ever dream of owning a Smith Mountain Lake home but don’t think you can because you lack the down payment and closing costs? Here are a few tips:

  • Borrow from your retirement account: A 401(k) or traditional IRA may allow a first-time homebuyers to borrow up to $10,000 for their down payment without incurring a penalty. If you’re self-employed or your employer allows it, you may also be able to borrow up to $50,000 from your current 401(k) and pay yourself back over five years at a reasonable interest rate.
  • Ask family: If you are able to get help from a family member, the lender may ask you to sign a gift-letter form, attesting to the relationship. They may also require your relatives to explain where they got the money and prove that they are financially able to make such a gift.
  • 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 Smith Mountain Lake home.
  • Come to a lease/purchase agreement: Smith Mountain Lake homeowners who can’t sell their homes may consider a lease/purchase agreement, where you rent the home you want to buy and a percentage of your rent is applied to the down payment. Make sure you get a contract outlining all the details so both parties are protected.
  • Add it to the wedding registry: Some mortgage companies allow those getting married to set up a down payment registry.
  • Cut back and save: If nothing else, there’s always the old-fashioned “saving for a rainy day.” Try putting aside 10% of each paycheck and eating at home instead of eating out. 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.

May 19, 2015   Comments Off

Five tips to beautify the bath.

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Updating a tired-looking bathroom is a great way to increase a home’s resale. The fixes don’t need to be costly or labor intensive:

  1. Beautify: Add decorative glass, stone tile or accents to make a bathroom stand out. Extra-wide wall tiles are popular and wood cabinets can be embellished with carved wooden inlays.
  2. Lighting: Add more lighting options around the room to reduce shadows and glare. Mood lighting around the tub area is also very popular.
  3. Bath/Shower: A new tub and a spa-like atmosphere can do wonders for a bathroom. Adding a massage element to the showerhead will appeal to buyers.
  4. Update Fixtures: Changing the fixtures in a bathroom can add a great deal. From cabinet handles to faucets, the addition of brushed nickel or other metals is always a huge hit. And if space permits, add a second sink.
  5. Think Green: Install fixtures that save water. A low-flow showerhead, low-flow faucet aerator and a dual-flush toilet can save thousands of gallons of water. Energy-efficient windows is another easy option.

A renovated bathroom offers an intimate, contemporary feel and is one of the things people will remember about a home.

May 8, 2015   Comments Off

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices’ Wins Inman News poll as the Top National TV spot in Real Estate

Consumers and network professionals have spoken! Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices’ commercial, “Calls,” was today named 2015’s best national TV spot in real estate by an Inman News poll of more than 15,000 readers. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices secured 5,522 votes to win the poll, which included TV spots from industry competitors Coldwell Banker, Century 21 and Re/Max. The spot, celebrating that magical moment when clients first learn they’ve sold their home, is now running on HGTV but you can watch it right here!

May 5, 2015   Comments Off

Don’t forget about the men when showcasing your Smith Mountain Lake home.

Don’t forget about the men when showcasing your Smith Mountain Lake home.

When selling your Smith Mountain Lake home, it’s important to remember that your interior and exterior need to visually attract both male and female buyers. Read on to learn how to make your home universally appealing.

  • Professional home stagers: They consult with homeowners to sell their Smith Mountain Lake homes quickly and for the most money possible. They consider demographics, buying psychology, design elements and lighting.
  • Personal space: Men tend to gravitate towards rooms with gadgets and electronics. They appreciate open spaces and high ceilings—clean, streamlined rooms that men can easily walk through without obstructions.
  • Cater to interests: Men don’t generally prefer fancy or frilly. They want to watch the big game with buddies or relax after work.
  • Simplified color scheme: Don’t overwhelm any potential buyers with wild colors or furniture, even if you feel it makes your home “special.” Warm interior tones are generally preferred over cool tones.
  • Garage envy: Think about painted walls, clean floors and enough storage for various hobbies. A built-in workbench, organized shelving as well as clean, spacious areas for tools, equipment and maintenance supplies are a great draw.
  • The yard: A well-maintained lawn can really help boost your home’s appeal along with thick, healthy grass, minimal bushes to trim and easy-to-maintain flower beds.

Staging your Smith Mountain Lake home to visually appeal to men as well as women will ensure a better joint response from potential buyers.

May 4, 2015   Comments Off

28th Annual Take Pride in Smith Mountain Lake Clean-up Day

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Once again, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Smith Mountain Lake Real Estate is a proud sponsor the 28th Annual Take Pride in SML Clean-up Day. Please join us in helping spruce up Smith Mountain Lake for the coming summer season at tomorrow’s Take Pride in SML Clean-up Day. This event marks the 28th annual lake-wide clean-up effort. Volunteers from the entire community get involved in sprucing up the lake. Volunteers can register individually, as a group or organization. Pick up supplies today at the Smith Mountain Lake Visitor’s Center at 16430 Booker T. Washington Hwy, Bridgewater Plaza, Suite 2 from 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM. Special thanks to the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Smith Mountain Lake Association and the Tri-County Lakes Administrative Commission for working hard to orchestrate the event.

May 1, 2015   Comments Off

Avoid the 8 Staging Mistakes for your Smith Mountain Lake Residence.

Avoid the 8 Staging Mistakes.

You may love your Smith Mountain Lake home, but that doesn’t mean that everyone coming through the door will feel the same way. What may be “charming” to the seller may seem off-putting to a prospective buyer. Many sellers attempt to stage their home themselves. In doing so, they make mistakes that can sidetrack the sale. Here are some of the biggest staging mistakes, according to professional home stagers:

  • Don’t get too personal: Staging is all about de-personalizing the space, and creating a model home look that will appeal to most everyone. Don’t create a look that appeals to just you.
  • Avoid dark colors: Choose neutral or warm colors. A few coats of fresh paint will make a huge difference.
  • Take advantage of natural light: Blocking off light with heavy curtains or furniture can hurt your sale—especially if the home has attractive views.
  • Don’t think more is better: Scale down your furniture. The size of furniture needs to be in balance with the scale of the room. Furniture should define the purpose of the room.
  • Don’t leave pets at home: Remove all traces of animals from the house. Make sure Fido is away during showings. A pet could kill a sale before a potential buyer even steps into the house.
  • Don’t neglect the outside: Outside is as important as the inside. Add flowers, mow the lawn, tidy up and add kid-friendly accessories.
  • Don’t just deal with “main” rooms: Don’t forget the garage, basement and closets.
  • Don’t forget fixtures: It’s important that all lights are burning and all fixtures are working.

Staging a Smith Mountain Lake home means showcasing features, not concealing flaws. Make sure your house is in good condition and use staging to cast the home in its best light.

April 29, 2015   Comments Off

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Introduces South Harbour

 

The Willard Companies and its real estate division, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Smith Mountain Lake Real Estate, announced a formal partnership with the Amos Estate to complete and market South Harbour, a newly planned residential community located on Dudley Amos Rd. off Scruggs Rd. at Smith Mountain Lake. The property, formerly known as The Lakewatch Club, is part of a 250-acre farm that has been in Amos family prior to the lake being filled.

“We are very excited our companies were selected to work with the Amos Estate to finalize the development as well as manage the sales and marketing of the South Harbour community. We’ve already been hard at work rebranding the project with the new name as well as consulting with the estate to offer prospective buyers premium investment opportunities,” stated Ron Willard, president of The Willard Companies. In addition, the companies are currently constructing a commanding Colonial brick entrance accented with nautical inspired lighting which will welcome residents and their guests to a community infused with spectacular views and walking trails. Hundreds of native hardwood trees are planned along with manicured landscaping and state-of-the-art street lighting.

Willard added, “Highlighting the area will be a landmark observation deck built around a historic red oak tree at South Harbour’s highest point where rustic wooden Adirondack chairs and whimsical lighted spheres will welcome casual conversation with neighbors and friends. In addition, the community will showcase three restored tobacco barns located throughout the project.”

Encompassing approximately 100 gently sloping acres, South Harbour is planned for a total of 40 properties. Current properties for sale include 21 waterfront lots ranging from 1 to 2.5 acres ranging from $224,500 to $1,399,500 and 10 water access cottage lots averaging 0.5 acres ranging from $49,500 to $74,500.  A convenient common area is located within South Harbour which will enable access to Smith Mountain Lake for water access cottage lots. Boaters can find South Harbour between the B10 and B11 channel markers on beautiful Blackwater River overlooking Sailaway and Chimney Islands.

In addition, ownership at South Harbour presents the opportunity to join The Waterfront Country Club with no initiation fee. The Waterfront Country Club, just minutes away, offers championship golf, tennis, swimming, fine dining and social activities. This opportunity perfectly blends luxury living with all the recreational amenities that Smith Mountain Lake has to offer.

For sales information, contact Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices at 540-721-8659 or visit the community website at www.SouthHarbourSML.com. For media inquiries, contact Christopher Finley, marketing and communication director, at 540-721-5288.

November 20, 2014   Comments Off

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

Believe it or not, after months of searching countless Smith Mountain Lake 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 Smith Mountain Lake 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 3, 2013   No Comments

Sunken City Brewing Company Grand Opening on Friday, May 10 at 4 p.m.

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Sunken City Brewing Company, Southwest Virginia’s newest craft brewery located in Westlake Towne Center on Rt. 122 at Smith Mountain Lake, will celebrate its grand opening on Friday, May 10 with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 4 p.m. Bruno’s GastroTruck will be on-site for the celebration as well as the band Barefoot West who will perform around 5:30 p.m. Come out and meet Sunken City Owner, Jerome Parnell and Brewmaster, Jeremy Kirby.

Sunken City will be selling 20-oz. imperial pints during the opening including two of their signature beers Dam Lager and Red Clay IPA. Dam Lager is an American-style amber (4.7 percent ABV) and Red Clay IPA is an amber-colored India Pale Ale (7 percent ABV).

In the near future, Sunken City plans to brew additional beers with hopes to distribute their beer throughout the state.

Officials and business leaders broke ground on Sunken City Brewing Company back in August 2012 and is Franklin County’s first microbrewery. The $2.3 million, 8,800-square-foot project, features a features a 25-barrel brewhouse, automatic canning distribution, a tasting room, pub and an outdoor beer garden. Sunken City Brewing Company, named for the villages that were submerged when Smith Mountain Lake was created, is expected to create 20-25 new jobs within five years.

May 7, 2013   No Comments

A for Accessible

When purchasing a Smith Mountain Lake home there are many considerations – space requirements, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, location, proximity to work and services. Additionally, there are the aesthetics, the style of the home, its condition, and price. However, there are other important considerations that many people overlook – and these fall into the realm of Accessibility.

The term Accessibility is often used in relation to public buildings and public transportation, and we know about it largely because of a piece of important legislation called “The Americans with Disabilities Act”, or ADA. The ADA provides the framework that ensures that public structures are able to be used by a wide population, including people in wheelchairs and those who have other physical challenges, to ensure their success in a wide range of “major life activities”.

If you have ever tried to go somewhere or reach something that was essential to your well-being, but beyond your grasp, you know the frustration and helplessness that this can evoke. Imagine facing this time and again, in your own home. Whether you are facing a physical challenge due to an accident, or aging and can no longer move and achieve as you used to, your home should be a place where you can live, work and play in a way that is easy for you. Sometimes this means that issues of “accessibility” are at play.

Accessibility can also come into focus when you have a visitor to your home that uses a wheelchair or walker, is blind, or cannot use stairs for some reason. Aged or injured guests benefit from a home that is thoughtfully designed with accessibility as a focus.

While it is possible to retrofit or remodel a home to make it more accessible, this can be an expensive and time-consuming process. Some of the principles of accessibility to consider when purchasing a home include:

  • Can everyone, of all ages and abilities, use the home equally well?
  • Are the rooms “flexible” – can they be used for a variety of activities?
  • Are items in the house simple and intuitive to use?
  • Is it easy to see where you are in the house?
  • Do the entrances make sense?
  • Is storage easy to find and use? Are closets in the right places?
  • Is it a safe place?
  • Are there railings and places to hold on to, at heights good for all ages?
  • Do stairs, windows, and hallways make sense? Are bathrooms where you expect them to be?
  • How much physical effort is required for day-to-day activities?
  • Has effort been made to make it easy to see and get to all features?
  • When a home is designed and built, it should meet the needs of people despite their age or ability. The ability for it to be flexible and adaptable is an important factor, so that as needs change the home does not create obstacles for the inhabitants or guests. Modern architecture began following the adage, “Form follows function” early in the 20th century, and home buyers are advised to evaluate homes in light of functionality as well as style.

Difficulties arise when homes present barriers to the people who live in or visit them. If the owner ages significantly and loses abilities that made living in the home possible, then something must change. If babies or children enter the scene who might be hurt by stairs or other hazards, those dangers must be addressed. Accidents or other medical issues can result in sudden changes in mobility or self-sufficiency requiring adjustments to improve accessibility. In short, it might be prudent to consider accessibility when buying, building, or remodeling a home.

Looking at a building’s “bones” enables you to understand right away where barriers might occur. Pay attention to hallways, doorways and stairs – even when there are just one or two steps, as each of these elements can be an obstacle to someone who has mobility or sight issues. While doorways can be widened, hallways are more difficult to modify. Additionally, hallways can be dark areas and “wasted” space. Is there a good place for a lift-chair or elevator should someone in a wheel chair have to go up stairs? How easy will it be to control the light, reach counters and cabinets, enjoy the grounds, live daily life?

Cabinets, doors, faucets and switches can be difficult to operate, but easy if you think clearly while choosing these options. As you move around your home, look at these features and how it would feel to use each of these should your hands become stiff or painful. Traditional doorknobs can be replaced by lever-style “knobs” that could even be operated with an elbow or chin in an emergency. Faucets that operate with levers are also useful, as are switch-plates that operate with a simple touch – but beware that they are intuitive to use.

When you are buying a home that might require “adjustments” to afford the accessibility that you desire, consider the spaces and structure of the home. Is there enough property to create ramps to the entrance? Is it feasible to enjoy the best areas of the home and property if mobility is impaired? Are there steep inclines on the property or is the property exposed to extreme weather conditions that could increase hazards seasonally? Look at the approach to the property and how close you might bring a car to the entrance. Are the walkways easy to traverse?

Understanding the more challenging issues around a home or property might not rule it out, but will give you insight into the cost of overcoming these potential obstacles. Pay close attention to bathrooms and stairwells to ensure that you would have the space you need to adjust bathtubs and showers, or to install lifts. Is there a bedroom or office on a lower floor? In the event that it is needed, having an option to create single-level living arrangements could be a boon to your family.

Homes are designed to shelter people and their possessions, provide space for cooking and eating, hygiene, and sleeping. Entertaining in your home is a luxury for some, and a necessity for others. In each function, age and physical ability must come into play, and so architects and builders who consider accessibility up front will usually build more adaptable homes. If you believe that accessibility could be an issue for you or members of your family, consider taking the time to have an expert evaluate a property that you would like to buy. There is a list of professionals in the area of accessibility through the National Council on Aging In Place (NAICP.org). Going in with your eyes open will result in long-term satisfaction and a plan for the house and people alike.

May 6, 2013   No Comments