Braemar in Bristow, VA – Where Home is THE Place to Be

Braemar in Bristow, VA – Where Home is THE Place to Be

shopping for a new home

When you’re shopping for a new home, what’s on the top of your priority list? Maybe you’re looking for a great location for your work commute or easy access to shopping and restaurants. Perhaps you have kids, and you want to make sure they have access to the best possible schools. Or you might just be looking for a place where you can enjoy nature in your backyard, relax by the pool or practice your tennis serve. Why compromise on any of those things, when you could find all of them in Braemar, Bristow’s largest planned community?

Built between 1996 and 2008, Braemar has over 2,800 homes. And there are a variety of housing options in the community’s ten independent sub-associations. If you’re looking for condos, townhouses, courtyard or single-family houses (with and without garages), Braemar has them all.

Each neighborhood offers plenty of community amenities. For the fitness enthusiast or the busy parent trying to get kids out in the fresh air, Braemar has outdoor swimming pools, tennis courts, basketball courts, a volleyball court and tot lots. You can also walk, jog or bike the several miles of paved trails in the community. Living in Braemar means you can get fit in your backyard and pocket that gym membership money each month.

If commuting options are important, Braemar is easily accessible to the Prince William Parkway, Route 66 and Route 29. If you’re headed to D.C., you’re only 36 miles away. And if you prefer to relax on your commute and travel by train, it’s minutes away from the Manassas VRE station.

The community is close to Gainesville, Manassas, and Haymarket. If you’re looking for a nice date night or to buy that perfect pair of shoes, Braemar is only a short drive from great shopping and restaurants at Bristow Shopping Center and Braemar Village Plaza.

If you have children, of course, education is going to be on your list of must-haves in a community. Your children will have access to top-notch education when you join the Braemar community. The community is located in the Prince William County Public School District, which is the second largest district in Northern Virginia and ranked in the top 8 percent in the U.S. (by Washington Post High School Challenge).

Even in bustling Northern Virginia, there is still a strong sense of community at Braemar. Each year is jam-packed with family-friendly community activities like Breakfast with Bunny, community yard sales, dog swims, Braemar Day, Halloween parties and holiday parties. No matter what your priority is in house hunting, Braemar has you covered. To find out more about available homes, call Jacobson Realty and Home Staging today at 703-338-9678 or emailBelinda@JacobsonRealty1.com.

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Virginia Oaks, a Jewel in Gainesville, Virginia

Virginia Oaks, a Jewel in Gainesville, Virginia

choose a community

We know it’s hard to choose a community to live in when you are not familiar with the area. But we also know making the decision is easier when you have information from people who live close by. We’d like to introduce you to the Virginia Oaks community in Gainesville.

Virginia Oaks is made up of approximately 560 single family, town homes and NVHomes’ innovative villas. Come for the golf and stay for the scenic views along tree-lined streets where you can also live and play on the banks of Lake Manassas.

For nature lovers, as you stroll the neighborhood, you might spot a deer or see quite a few species of birds. The ponds are fully stocked with fish if you enjoy fishing for sport or for pleasure. Fitness enthusiasts will love catching an afternoon game of tennis out on the courts, taking a dip in the pool, shooting some hoops or pumping iron in the weight room. There are also playground areas for kids to run off some of that extra energy.

Interested in learning to swim or joining a swim team? The Virginia Oaks Sea Devils offer a swim team and developmental program and invites everyone in the community to be a part of the programs. This non-profit club loves to see families have an affordable way to foster a love of swimming in their children, but most importantly keep them safe in the water.

For many, the main attraction of Virginia Oaks is the Virginia Oaks Golf Club, a daily fee course with memberships available for priority tee times. Designed by P.B. Dye, the course offers a memorable and challenging golf game. The design of the course has natural areas and water challenges that enhance both the golf game and the beauty of the community. The recently completed golf course improvements and clubhouse renovations keep your golf game moving and add new entertainment opportunities for residence and visitors.

And if all those community amenities don’t keep you busy, nearby attractions include historic landmarks, the Jiffy Lube Live amphitheater, local wineries, new shopping boutiques, Regal Movie Theaters and restaurants. For outdoors enthusiasts, a short drive gets you to the Blue Ridge Mountains, where you can camp, ski, hike, raft and more.

Virginia Oaks is conveniently located for Washington commuters where many options are available. The community has easy on/off access to I-66 and the Route 15 corridor. It is also close to the Bristow Virginia Rail Express (VRE) and nearby Manassas VRE train station and Vienna Metro station.

As residents of Western Prince William County, we at Jacobson Realty and Home Staging Co., Inc. are familiar with life in Virginia Oaks. We would be happy to speak with you about the many offerings of this attractive community. Call us today at 703-338-9678 or email Belinda@JacobsonRealty1.com.

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Great Places to Live in the Washington D.C. Area: What’s the big deal about Gainesville, Haymarket and Bristow, Virginia? Part II

Great Places to Live in the Washington D.C. Area: What’s the big deal about Gainesville, Haymarket and Bristow, Virginia? Part II

a strong community

When you’re looking for a new home, you may be searching for that perfect backyard or that great school district, but there is something else that should be on your radar as you shop – a strong community.  We believe, as do thousands of others, that even though Western Prince William County — namely Gainesville, Haymarket, Bristow and Nokesville — is rapidly growing, there is still a strong sense of community that brings residents together.  Here are some aspects of the community that draw people to the area and keep them there.

Free Public Events Haymarket is always hopping with community events like Haymarket Day, Oktoberfest and their Friday Family Summer Concert series. During these events, local musicians, artists and businesses show residents and visitors what life in Western Prince William County is all about.  The next exciting free event will be the “Arts Alive” program at the Hylton Performing Art Center at the George Mason Campus in Prince William County on May 2ndfrom Noon-4pm. Local artist, actors, vendors and musicians including the Manassas Chorale will be sharing art inside and outside the grounds of the center. The entire event is free, and the center will be grooving to art!
Clubs – From community service clubs and family clubs to golf and country clubs, Western Prince William County has you covered, especially for golfers.  If you like to relax and dine with friends or play 18 holes of golf, you might enjoyEvergreen Country Club, Dominion Valley Country Club, Broad Run Golf and Practice Facility or the Stonewall Golf Course.  Our golf courses are so high quality, the Robert Trent Jones Club at Lake Manassas in Gainesville is where Tiger Woods will be hosting the 2015 Quicken Loans National from July 27-August 2, 2015. One of the premier stops on the PGA Tour, this event raises funds and awareness for the Tiger Woods Foundation and pays tribute to our armed forces.  Buy your tickets early!
Parks – Western Prince William County has open space that brings people together.  Whether it be for a Grizzlies football game, soccer games on lighted fields, a hike on Bull Run Mountain or a picnic in the park, this part of the county offers fields, streams and mountains, as well as a plethora of historic sites such as the untouched beauty of the Manassas Battlefield grounds that encourage residents and visitors to learn more about the history and attractions of this special region.
Nonprofits – Western Prince William County is a place where nonprofits work to enhance the lives of those with particular needs.  Some nonprofits work directly with those they serve.  For Example, Rainbow Therapeutic Riding Center in Haymarket provides therapeutic horseback riding and equine activities for those with disabilities.  The Benedictine Sisters in Bristow provide services for homeless women and their children and free instruction for English language learners.  There are also organizations like Dominion Woman’s Club that support other nonprofits organizations.
We know planning to move means making many decisions.  If you are considering moving, call Belinda Jacobson-Loehle at 703-338-9678 or emailBelinda@JacobsonRealty1.com.  Belinda would be happy to tell you more about the Western Prince William County community.

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Great Places to Live in the Washington D.C. Area: What’s the big deal about Gainesville, Haymarket and Bristow, Virginia? Part I

Great Places to Live in the Washington D.C. Area: What’s the big deal about Gainesville, Haymarket and Bristow, Virginia? Part I

half-packed boxes

When people think of moving, usually images of half-packed boxes and household chaos come to mind. What most people don’t consider is what happens before the move, before the home buying and even before the financing. Yet this early step is one of the most important – deciding which community to live in. In speaking with folks in Western Prince William County (namely, Bristow, Gainesville and Haymarket), we’ve been asking what drew them to the area and how they made the final decision to move here. Here are just two aspects of Western Prince William County that were mentioned over and over.

Location

We know real estate is all about location, but in the case of Western Prince William County, location means something other than “we want to be near the city.” In fact, of the people we spoke with, most wanted access to Washington D.C. and the Metro area but didn’t necessarily want to be that close to the Capital. What they wanted was a nice little escape when they returned home from a long day at work. Western Prince William, with the Bull Run Mountains in the backdrop and its rural roots juxtaposed with contemporary conveniences made these folks want to call Western Prince William County home. And while residents of Western Prince William County appreciate the natural beauty of the area, they also enjoy easy access to shopping and dining. From the quaint shops and cafes of Old Town Haymarket to the restaurants and stores of Atlas Walk and Route 29, this area has something for just about every taste.

Schools

For families with children, schools are a major concern. Whether families want to send their children to private or public schools, quality of education is crucial. Western Prince William County is fortunate to have some of the best schools in the area. The award winning public and private schools are accredited and have excellent academic and athletic reputations, as well as active, supportive parent teacher organizations.

According to Prince William County Schools (PWCS), recent state test scores show PWCS scored above other Virginia counties in just about every area. In reading and writing, PWCS outperformed the state on six of seven reading tests and equaled the state on the other. On high school reading, PWCS improved and had a pass rate of 90 percent. PWCS outperformed the state on all three writing tests. In science, PWCS met or exceeded state performance on four of six science tests. In history and social science, PWCS met or exceeded state performance on eight of nine history/social science tests.

In addition to having excellent K-12 schools, Western Prince William has college campuses right next door in Manassas. George Mason University and Northern Virginia Community College offer local options for higher education, as do some private colleges and career schools. We could go on about Western Prince William County and what makes it a viable place to live, and we will in Part II. For now, however, we will leave you with this thought. If you are considering a move and would like to know more about this growing but connected community, call Belinda Jacobson-Loehle at 703-338-9678 or email Belinda@JacobsonRealty1.com.

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Home Buying 101: What can you expect when purchasing a home?

Home Buying 101: What can you expect when purchasing a home?

Buying a home

Buying a home is exciting, but it can also be stressful, especially for first time homebuyers. The process may seem overwhelming, lengthy and confusing. There’s so much to do! But, with the right network of professionals – a loan officer and realtor, for starters – you can make it through.

Here are some of the steps you will take when you go to buy your home.

You will need to start by checking your credit and resolving any issues that may prevent you from buying a home. There are many companies out there that will check your credit for you. Or, you can check your credit yourself. By law, you are entitled to receive a free credit report from a credit bureau such as Experian once every twelve months.

Next, you will need to find a loan officer through a bank, mortgage lending institution, or a local realtor. You will want to get a lender who can explain your financing options and the requirements of each so you can make an informed buying decision.

Once you have a lender, you will want to get pre-qualified or pre-approved for financing and receive the lender’s pre-qualification letter. When you do, you will have a better sense of which homes are in your price range and the responsibility you will have when making the purchase. Getting pre-qualified will also save you a lot of time once you start looking at homes and will help make your offer competitive .

The next step is to meet with a local realtor. You will want a realtor who is familiar with the area in which you are looking and educated in the latest real estate trends. A good realtor will be able to show you the kinds of homes in your budget, explain how to structure an offer and negotiate on your behalf to get the home of your choice.

When you begin looking at homes, you should have a checklist. How many bedrooms and bathrooms will you need? How much property would you like to maintain? Do you need a basement? What size garage is important? These are all factors to consider as you begin the home buying process.

Have you decided on a home? If so, with the help of your realtor, it’s time to make the offer. The offer will include an earnest money deposit, which is a good faith deposit. You will have to place money up front with the offer to show you are serious about buying a home. Your realtor will address the need for inspections and will prepare the offer in a way that best meets your needs and remains competitive.

Prior to closing the transaction, you will have a final walk-through inspection to verify the condition of the property. When it is time to go to settlement or closing with a title company or an attorney, you will be asked sign off on the loan commitment and accept the transfer of title along with several other documents to make your purchase official. Once you accept the keys, the house is yours!

As you can see, this process is not simple, nor is it necessarily short – but don’t let that scare you out of buying a home! Finding the right team of experts will help make for a smooth and hassle-free experience. For a more detailed explanation of how to buy a home, call Belinda Jacobson-Loehle at 703-338-9678 or emailBelinda@JacobsonRealty1.com.

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Ten Steps to Prepare Your Home for Sale

Ten Steps to Prepare Your Home for Sale

sell your home

So you have decided to sell your home. You are excited about the prospects, but also a little nervous. You want to get the best sale price you can, but other than getting a professional cleaner, you’re not sure what you should do to prepare. Well, fear not. This article should help point you in the right direction. Here are ten items you can start working on.

1. Know how much your utilities cost. This might sound like an odd place to start, but it’s important that you be able to tell your realtor and potential buyers what you pay each month for utilities. The amount will have to fit into the buyer’s budget, so these numbers are relevant.

2. Collect house manuals. When a buyer purchases your home and moves in, he/she will want to know what is in the home and how to care for it. If you do not have original manuals, consider ordering some or printing them off from the Internet.

3. Put away valuables and medicine. For the sake of safety, it’s better to store these items. Some homeowners opt to use offsite storage for valuables. This might be something to consider, especially if you intend to have multiple open houses.

4. Take care of basic maintenance. Go through your home and take inventory of any mechanical features due for routine cleaning or tuning up. You should take into consideration your water heater, air conditioning and heating systems and appliances.

5. Repair. Repairs can take the form of anything from fixing flooring to spackling walls to sealing windows to addressing plumbing. Go through your home, room by room, and make a list of needed repairs. Then start taking care of those one by one.

6. Landscape. You’ve heard of curb appeal, right? Curb appeal is largely dependent on the attractiveness of your landscaping. If you do your own landscaping, make sure you weed, rake, mow, etc. It might be helpful to have a professional landscaper come in to assess your yard, make recommendations and take care of anything that needs to be done.

7. Don’t forget about decks, pools and driveways. Outside is just as important as inside. Potential buyers will want to see that decks are secure, the wood healthy. Driveways should be free of cracks and need to be sealed. Pools should be clean and in good working order. Sheds should be in good condition. You want all of these elements to add, not detract, from the beauty and value of your home.

8. Have your home professionally staged. In a previous article, we talked about the importance of home staging. If you want your home to be attractive, you will need to depersonalize it so potential buyers can visualize themselves living there. Start by de-clutttering your home. Donate, give away or throw out unused and unnecessary belongings. Make the most of the space you have for the things you really need. Show buyers there is room to grow.

9. Re-paint. A fresh coat of neutral color paint often can make a great difference in how potential buyers view your home. Dirty, scratched or faded paint is a huge turnoff. You can choose paint colors yourself, or, for maximum benefit, ask a home stager to recommend a color.

10. Re-floor. Carpets age and wear, hardwood fades and shows scratches and tile cracks. Check all floors to ensure they are good condition and show well. If not, consider replacing.

Preparing to put your home on the market can seem like a lot of work. It takes time to do things right. So plan ahead, factor in the time and prep your home for market. In the end, it’s worth the effort because it will actually reduce stress when buyers present offers. Remember, a well-prepared home will keep you competitive, and it should bring you the highest sales price in the shortest amount of time!

If you would like more tips on preparing your home for sale, call Belinda Jacobson-Loehle at 703-338-9678 or email Belinda@JacobsonRealty1.com.

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Home Staging – Quicker Sale, Higher Sales Price

Home Staging – Quicker Sale, Higher Sales Price

Home staging

It’s not just about making the home “prettier.” Home staging is about using the principals of space, color and interior decorating. It’s about depersonalizing the rooms. It’s about accentuating a home’s architectural features. And it’s about selling your home faster for the higher price.

You want potential buyers to see the best representation of your home that you can possibly provide. Home staging ensures that your home not only invites but intrigues, through color choice and placement of furniture and décor. Home stagers assess paint, flooring and furniture. They take into account open space – how much is attractive, and how much is too much? And a home stager will address clutter. After all, a cluttered house is rarely attractive to potential buyers who want to see the home, not the belongings in the home…

…which brings us to the concept of depersonalizing rooms. Depersonalizing sounds negative. In fact, it’s the opposite. You want to depersonalize your home so potential buyers can visualize the home as theirs, not yours. This cannot be accomplished if the knickknacks and pictures are too specific to the current owners. Try going into a home, for example, where there are china closets filled with collections of baby dolls. While this might be interesting, what if you hate dolls and can’t get past the visual? If you can’t, your emotional response to the home is also affected. You don’t want this to happen when you are trying to sell your home.

You also do not want to obstruct your home’s architectural features – you want to showcase them. No matter what kind of home you live in, that home has certain features built into the structure. Some of these features are simple, some decorative, some functional. No matter what, you do not want to cover up what makes your home unique and attractive. For example, what if the edges of your walls are curved, as opposed to angled? You would want to make sure furniture is placed in such a way that the ends of walls are exposed. Or say you have a column in your living room. You would not want to put a cabinet in front of it. Architects spend a lot of time designing homes in specific ways. You need a stager to help you identify what those are and highlight appropriately.

A professional home stager has the experience and know-how to make your home attract potential buyers and keep them interested, not only as they tour the home, but after. Home staging creates a lasting visual and emotional effect that truly influences the potential buyer.

Want to see the difference home staging makes? Visit our website. Then call Belinda Jacobson-Loehle at (703) 338-9678 or emailBelinda@JacobsonRealty1.com.

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Virginia Supports Homebuyer Savings Plan

Virginia Supports Homebuyer Savings Plan

First-time homebuyer

It’s an exciting time to be a first-time homebuyer in Virginia! Why? Among other reasons, Virginia has a homebuyer savings plan!

Many people still have not heard of the Virginia bill (HB 331), the first-time homebuyer savings plan introduced by the Virginia Housing Commission. This is an amazing, relatively new piece of legislation that encourages saving for a home by reducing Virginia state tax.

Here is what you need to know to take advantage of this plan.

How does it work?

First, an investment or savings account is designated by a qualified, first-time homebuyer for the sole purpose of saving for a home. You can designate almost any existing account as a first-time homebuyer savings plan.

To create the plan, you include a form when you file your state taxes. The form will state that you should not be taxed on any earning (such as capital gains or interest) because the account is for a qualified, first-time homebuyer purchasing a home.

After you use the money towards the closing costs on a first home, you send in a different form to the Department of Taxation, showing that the funds were put toward an “eligible cost.”

The bill allows for individual income tax subtraction for income earned on contributions to the account if the funds are used for saving for a home.

Who is a qualified homebuyer?

A qualified homebuyer would be someone living in Virginia who has never owned property, individually or jointly, anywhere in the United States. The Virginia Association of Realtors says, “If you owned a home at some point but did not purchase one — e.g., if you inherited — you can still qualify.”

What are qualified expenses?

Qualified expenses are anything included on the settlement statement, such as a down payment, closing costs, inspections and lender fees.

How much money can be put into the account?

The bill limits the amount of principal that can be contributed to any account to $50,000 and limits the total amount that can be retained in an account at any time to $150,000.

What are the restrictions?

Money saved cannot be used for anything other than eligible costs without penalty.

If money is withdrawn from the account for purposes other than to pay eligible costs, any income previously subtracted would be subject to state tax, and a five percent penalty would be imposed.

Note, there are no penalties if the funds are withdrawn because of the death or disability of the account beneficiary, if there is a disbursement of assets protected under federal bankruptcy laws or if funds are transferred to another first-time homebuyer savings account.

How can I find out more?

Contact Belinda Jacobson-Loehle, real estate broker and certified home stager, at 703-338-9678 or via email, Belinda@JacobsonRealty1.com.

For information on Virginia homes for sale and for more real estate tips, visitwww.JacobsonRealty1.com or www.JacobsonRealtyandHomeStaging.com.

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Forget toasters. Try a home registry!

Forget toasters. Try a home registry!

Couple

It happens all the time. A couple plans to marry. They’ve chosen the church, the reception hall, the meal, the cake, the band, the flowers. Now it’s time to let guests know what they could use as gifts. But there’s a problem. These two soon-to-be-wed individuals lived on their own before they decided to marry. Not only do they have the basic household needs plus some, they have doubles! The last thing this couple needs is another toaster or another set of china. No, what they could really use is a home to call their own. That’s where home registries come in.

Home registries are the up-and-coming trend in gift giving, not only for people intending to marry but for those expecting a child, those who are hard to buy for and those who simply don’t need anything but a path towards home buying. The concept is based on the traditional registry: the couple makes a list of items they could use, and the gift givers choose from that list of items. Instead of buying household goods, however, the gift givers are “buying” pieces of a home.

No, friends and family are not out at Home Depot purchasing sinks or flooring. Rather, they are using a website like Hatch My House where they pay for pieces of a virtual home, gifting real money that can be used as a down payment for an actual home. For example, a family member might “buy” a window. The suggested value is $75. Another family member might “buy” a front door for $200. The money goes into the couple’s PayPal account, which essentially becomes a savings account for the new home.

There are other ways to use home registries as well. Say there’s a baby on the way. Maybe the family needs nursery furniture. The family can “build” a house and furnish rooms with items they need. Friends can visit the virtual home and “buy” a cradle, a changing station, a dresser or whatever necessities the couple has furnished the virtual home with.

Sites such as Feather the Nest show different uses of the registry, including for home repair and renovations. In this scenario, the home owner describes items necessary to complete a project. For example, a home owner might need a new roof or a new kitchen floor. Or it could be the home needs a complete overhaul. Contributors help “feather the nest” by giving money to the cause.

For first-time homebuyers in particular, the advent of home registries is a boon. Starting out can be difficult, and these registries help ease the burden, giving new homebuyers peace of mind that there is a way to finance their dream. And loved ones are eager to help out, knowing they are giving gifts that matter. It’s a win-win that can really make a difference!

Belinda Jacobson-Loehle is an experienced real estate broker and certified home stager. Contact her at 703-338-9678 or via email, Belinda@JacobsonRealty1.com. Visit www.JacobsonRealty1.com or www.JacobsonRealtyandHomeStaging.com for more information.

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