Tag Archives: Home Improvement

Creating Your Own Backyard Oasis

Creating Your Own Backyard Oasis

With the current pandemic, most of us are spending a lot more time at home, and it’s also summer, so that means more time outdoors. Many people are also turning their backyard into their own little paradise. Why not do the same? If you already have a patio or deck, there are things you can do to enhance that space and make it more enjoyable. Even if you don’t, adding a waterfall or a garden to your backyard can make it a respite for you and your family. Continue reading

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Is Your House a Green House?

Is Your House a Green House?

Is your house green? I am not referring to the color, which may be a very nice shade of green on your home. I am thinking of your efficiency and the benefits of how your home is built, when the appliances were updated and if you are on your way to owning an Energy Star® home.

Earth Day is just around the corner and many people go big, (in some cases tiny as in tiny homes), to achieve a balance with the earth while enjoying a comfortable and beautiful living space. You can regularly find homes in Northern Virginia with solar panels, and many of us know about the VOWTAP wind turbine project slated for the Southern Ocean area of our great state. However, ocean wind turbines are controversial and many people still think solar panels are unattractive. So, what is a better way to meld conservation and comfort?

Energy Star®

In 1992, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began the Energy Star® program. Manufacturers of home appliances and building products were encouraged to participate in the voluntary labeling program identifying which of their products were the most energy efficient. The EPA program has been widely applied, and the Energy Star® label is “now on major appliances, office equipment, lighting, home electronics, new homes, and commercial and industrial buildings and plants.”

The energy guide label gives you a simple estimation of how much your new product will cost you and how it rates to comparable products You can learn more about the energy guide here.

You Can Be an Energy Star®

Is Your House a Green House?Even if your home is not new, you can update your home with Energy Star®-rated products and be an energy star.

  • Updated appliances are one of the easiest and fastest ways to help lower the carbon footprint in your home. The Energy Star ® website has a list of the most efficient appliances for 2017 ready for you to check out.
  • Insulation with the Energy Star® certification can help improve your home’s efficiency and is considered safer by the EPA. To get the most from your insulation, make sure you have purchased the best insulation for your temperature zone and housing type and ensure it is installed correctly.
  • Newer doors and windows with the Energy Star® certification can also lower your heating and cooling bills while increasing the value of your home. Once again, proper installation is key in ensuring you get the most from your update.
  • Are you ready to update your furnace or air conditioning? Make sure you get an Energy Star® Verified HVAC Installation (ESVI). Oversized or undersized equipment can lead to waste in both the energy source you are using as well as money.

We don’t have to go live on a commune or buy into crazy fads to make the earth a better place. We can be comfortable in our own homes and still be conservative with our energy use and our budgets. Have a great Earth Day! And if you would like to learn more about selling your home please contact Belinda Jacobson-Loehle at Jacobson Realty and Home Staging today.

Sign up now for a FREE copy of my ebook, “The Real Estate Key – What You Need to Know”!

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Updating or Remodeling? What would an Appraiser Think?

Updating or Remodeling? What would an Appraiser Think?

With spring officially beginning on March 20th and the idea of fresh new beginnings in the air, many folks are eager to get started updating their homes for a sale or planning improvement projects for a future sale. While you may be interested in adding a deck or patio, updating a kitchen or bath, or even adding crown molding to enhance trim details, not all projects are created equal in the eyes of a residential appraiser. Let’s look at a few of the things THEY look at to assess value.

Cost Versus Value

Homeowners considering home improvements need to remember that cost doesn’t always equal a dollar for dollar return in value. An appraiser does not simply add the cost of your improvement to the value of your home. Instead, an appraiser will look at the age of the improvement, assess cost and calculate depreciation if the asset is not new. Then they will evaluate the current marketplace to determine if buyers are buying and contracting for homes with similar improvements. The two approaches most often used to define value are called the Cost Approach and the Market Comparison Approach.

Site Location And Exterior Improvements

There is a lot to be said for your geographic location. For instance, if you have a unique setting and live near a pond or lake, have scenic views of the mountains, or live on the 18th green of a private golf course, the attributes of the lot/land are taken into consideration and should add value. Likewise, enhanced hardscape, such as an outdoor masonry fireplace, or even an in-ground swimming pool would also be taken into consideration. Whether or not the appraiser determines the site location and exterior enhancements to be of premium value depends on the appraiser. Once again, the cost and age of the improvement and most importantly here, the market comparison assessment, may or may not cause an increase in value. In other words, the year-round use of having an in-ground pool in Texas may be of higher value than one in Virginia.

The Value Of Maintenance

Regular heating and central air tune-ups, roof and gutter repairs and replacement, septic system servicing and other routine maintenance go a long way and speak volumes to a potential buyer but do not mean a whole lot to an appraiser. An appraiser will address the overall condition of the property but will not look to see if you have recently tuned up your HVAC or checked your gutters. An appraiser is more focused on the value of the property and its assets, so a new HVAC system or roof is important for them to know about, but the routine upkeep of your home and its condition relates to its marketability.

Don’t Toss The Paperwork

Updating or Remodeling? What would an Appraiser Think?Saving receipts can really be a pain, but it can be more of a pain not to document the amounts spent. You should also keep before and after pictures of the work you have had done. The appraiser can’t always see internal and structural work that may mean a difference of several thousand dollars. A good example would be the before and after photos of a kitchen or bathroom remodeling project.

These are only a few of the many things an appraiser will consider when determining the value of your home and its improvements. Ask your realtor for an opinion on buying and selling trends and whether your future improvement project will make a difference to your bottom line. Lastly, consider broad-based improvements that most people will like instead of specific improvements that only a few people can appreciate. Choose wisely to get the highest return and value for your improvements.

If you have questions or need a professional opinion on improvement values and the marketability of your home, contact Belinda Jacobson-Loehle at Jacobson Realty and Home Staging today.

“Belinda was very helpful and patient with all the details involved in buying our home. She showed us several homes, supervised the home inspection, and made certain all necessary repairs were completed. She also recommended responsible moving companies and kept in contact with us on the progress of the loan.”  J. Lyell, Gainesville

Sign up now for a FREE copy of Belinda’s e-book, “The Real Estate Key – What You Need to Know”!

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Give Your Home a Winter Tune-Up

Give Your Home a Winter Tune-Up

Just like we winterize our cars with new tires, a tune up and oil change, our homes need a winter tune up, too. Our homes are the largest investments we make, and keeping them in top shape keeps us comfy and our investment safe.  Below are a few suggestions to keep your house warm and winter safe.

    1. Rev up your HVAC. Call your local HVAC professional to inspect your furnace or heat pump. The pro will check your system to make sure it is clean and in good repair, as well as monitor for carbon monoxide leakage. A quick tune-up can bring your furnace back up to manufacturer-rated efficiency.
    2. Reverse your ceiling fans. Check any ceiling fans in your home to see if they are rotation reversible. Running the fan blades in a clockwise direction after you turn on your heat produces a downdraft that recirculates the heated air rising to the ceiling. You might be able to keep the heat turned down a couple of notches and save on your heating bill!
    3. Hit the roof. Damaged or loose shingles can happen in the winter months letting in leaks from storms or melting ice and snow. If you are not one for heights, try using a pair of binoculars to scan the roof. Don’t forget to check the flashing seals around vents and chimneys, too.
    4. Drain the main. Undrained exterior water pipes and lawn watering systems can freeze, causing cracked and burst pipes as ice expands. If your home is more than 10 years old, you may not have frost-proof faucets. Check with your water department or lawn sprinkler company to make sure the job is done right.
    5. Stock the essentials. Double check your cold-weather essentials regularly. Ice melt and other essentials can disappear quickly if the winter is a long one.
    6. Focus on insulation. Most insulation can be installed year around. Check with your local weatherization company or hardware store to see about getting your attic or basement insulation as soon as possible. Think of the savings on your heating bill!
    7. Check for fire safety. Make sure your fire extinguishers are charged to their full capacity, and double check the batteries in your smoke detectors. This is especially important if you have a fireplace in your home and around Christmas time.
    8. Clean those chimneys. Chimney fires account for 30 percent of home heating fires a year, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Even if you are super-efficient about your fall chimney sweeping, be sure to check your chimney and vents are clean and in good repair regularly during the winter months. Santa won’t be the only one who will appreciate it!

My hope for everyone is to have a safe and warm winter. I am sure there are a dozen more tune-ups out there any homeowner can think of to add to their list. If you would like to stop in and give me your ideas, or if you are looking for a cozy new home this winter contact Jacobson Realty and Home Staging to get the conversation started.

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How to Increase Curb Appeal

How to Increase Curb Appeal

Growing up, we’re always taught that it’s what’s on the inside that counts

Growing up, we’re always taught that it’s what’s on the inside that counts, never judge a book by its cover and countless other platitudes. But let’s face it, in the real world, sometimes what’s on the outside does count. No, we’re not being shallow – we’re talking curb appeal. Buyers frequently assess your home before they ever set foot across the threshold. Armed with this information, you can go forward and increase the curb appeal of your home so that your first impression is a lasting impression (one that lasts all the way to the closing table).

Crystal clear windows – Show a sneak peak of the inside of your home without old spider webs or greasy face prints clouding the view. Clean your windows, inside and out.

Front door finesse – The entryway to your home should be warm and inviting, but also clean and in good repair. A fresh coat of paint can do a world of good. Also, make sure that your door’s hardware is pleasing to the eye and is in good shape.

Rotten wood, good riddance – If you have damaged wood on your home’s exterior, such as shutters or doorframes, repair or replace it for a quick facelift for your home.

Roof repair – Make sure to tidy up your roof by replacing any missing shingles and cleaning out your gutters.

Patio and path prep – It’s easy to get loose stones in your patio or stone path in your yard. Make sure these areas are weed-free, in good repair and clean (with no wobbly or broken stones) to increase your home’s curb appeal.

Siding sprucer – You can freshen up your home’s exterior by painting, repairing, power washing and/or replacing old siding. You can also refurbish brick exteriors.

Porch and deck pick-me-ups – Your porch or deck may benefit from a good power washing, or it may need to be completely restained or repainted. A color change and an outdoor space that’s attractive and in good repair will give you the curb appeal to bring buyers in.

Flower bed fortification – Lay down your weed mats, plant some new perennials and toss in some fresh mulch. This relatively easy and inexpensive front yard fix will add a splash of color to your landscape and make the outside of your home more cheery.

Show your lawn some love – Weed killer, seed, fertilizer, and water can go a long way. If your lawn looks like an old western movie (tumbleweeds through a whirlwind of dust), invest in growing (or sodding) a new lawn to attract prospective buyers.

Mailbox maintenance – Often it’s not right next to the house, so the mailbox gets neglected. Check your mailbox to make sure it’s not rusted, is in good working order has no wood rot in the post. If you’ve had a specialty mailbox installed previously (because who doesn’t love pulling catalogs out of a wide-mouth bass?) consider installing a tamer, more HOA-compliant mailbox design.

As professional stagers and realtors, we can help you with your curb appeal woes. Call us at 703-338-9678, or email Belinda@JacobsonRealty1.com.

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Light Up Your Home to Sell During All Seasons!

Light Up Your Home to Sell During All Seasons!

 photo taken in light

Have you ever had a photo taken in light that was just not flattering? It made you cringe, right? Having the correct lighting is important, not just for your selfies, but for photographing and staging your home to sell. We think about adorning our homes with festive lights at holiday times, but you can improve the look of your home year-round with a few extra lights. Changing the lighting in your home is a simple, inexpensive way to make your home seem open, airy and warm. Here are some tips for illuminating your home to sell:

· Add curb appeal. Motivated homebuyers are viewing your home in daylight hours and after sundown so make sure it looks its best at all times. You always want to keep your front exterior lights on but you can add a few simple outdoor light fixtures to add curb appeal. Solar walkway lights can light up your sidewalk to improve safety and ambiance. A spotlight or two on the front of your house can also add to your house, improve safety and give visitors a clear view of your home’s exterior. Landscape light packages sold at your local Lowe’s and Home Depot stores provide easy install methods while providing dramatic results inexpensively. If you have a beautiful tree, shrub, or flowers let people know by complementing natural beauty with a little added light. And, of course, if you’re selling during the holiday season, a few festive white neutral lights will really show your spirit and help folks envision themselves at home for the holidays when viewing your house.

· Use natural light. Whenever possible, take full advantage of natural daylight. Keep blinds and curtains open during the daytime to light up your home, make it seem open and airy all day long.

· Use flattering light sources. Overhead fluorescent lights are typically harsh while floor lamps and touchier lamps create mood and plenty of up lighting. Use soft, warm tones and rely on smaller lamps to disperse lighting to specific areas. You can also turn lamps during the day to enlarge the sense of space and brighten up your home.

· Add subtle lighting. Small under-counter kitchen lighting shows off your countertops and makes one of the most important rooms in the house warm and inviting. Add wall sconce lighting to places that are short on space. If you have art on your walls, you can showcase it with small light fixtures.

· Change a light fixture. Swapping out dated light fixtures for sleeker, more modern versions can be a wise investment that won’t cost you a lot. Better yet, spray paint old light fixtures with new modern colors to update any look inexpensively. Installing or updating attractive light fixtures is worth the money spent and will always catch a buyers’ eye!

Still not sure what lighting is right for your home? Jacobson Realty and Home Staging can help you fully stage your home to sell quickly and for the best price.Contact us today!

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10 Things to Be Thankful For About a Home

10 Things to Be Thankful For About a Home

time of year

This is the time of year to count our blessings and be truly thankful for all the good things in our lives. Sometimes we might take our homes for granted. But while we’re being mindful of the world around us and thinking about how our lives are enhanced by what we have, let’s take a moment to think about our homes. I suggest being proactive when it comes to maintaining your home so that your home can keep you warm and comfortable this holiday season. Here are some things to be thankful for in our homes.

· A well-tuned HVAC system – I have my system serviced at least every 6 months and change the filters on a regular basis to improve energy efficiency, utility costs and air quality.

· Good quality windows – Energy efficient windows, or windows that have been properly sealed and winterized, can greatly reduce your heating costs and keep you cozy during the holiday months.

· A gas fireplace – There’s nothing like curling up next to a fire on a cold winter’s night. A good gas fireplace with a blower can help circulate the warm air instead of losing it.

· A hot water tank – Make sure it has been inspected and has no signs of leaks. Cover it to reduce energy costs.

· A sump pump that works – Have your sump pump inspected regularly, and consider replacing it after 8 years. My personal worst nightmare was having my sump pump fail on New Year’s Eve and waiting over 3 days with a flooded basement before we could get help.

· Plenty of storage – Whether it’s in your garage, spacious closets or in an outdoor shed, you’ll want plenty of places to stash those holiday decorations after the festivities are over. So make sure they are cleaned out.

· A garage – You can keep your car warmer and avoid scraping ice, frost and snow by keeping it in your garage.

· An insulated front door – This is well worth the investment when you consider the savings in energy and cutting the draft when the winter winds start to blow.

· A washer and dryer that work properly – Get through your laundry quickly and efficiently with a well-maintained washer and dryer.

· A microwave – Get your holiday feast to the table quickly by zapping a few side dishes with this time saver.

· A double oven – Especially if you are hosting your family’s holiday feasts, a double oven can save you so much time preparing the meal.

In addition to all these things, a home gives you protection from the elements, a space to gather your family on the holidays, a place to enjoy a lovely meal you’ve prepared together. If you’re looking for a new space to be thankful for, Jacobson Realty can help. We can professionally stage your home to help buyers envision their next Thanksgiving meal there. We can also help find the next place for your family to settle in and create new holiday memories together. Contact us today!And have a joyous Thanksgiving!

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5 Budget-Friendly Home Improvements to Boost Resale Value

5 Budget-Friendly Home Improvements to Boost Resale Value

resell your houseIf you’re planning on reselling your house, you don’t want to dump a ton of money into making home improvements that won’t ultimately pay off for you when you could be saving that money for a down payment on your next dream home. It’s important to know which home improvements will both better your life in your current home and add resale value and which fixes are best left for the next owner. Here are some frugal fixes that we’ve found can boost your home’s resale value:· Give your kitchen a facelift – This spot can make or break a home sale, so it’s very important to have a clean and updated kitchen when your house goes on the market. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars completely remodeling this room. You can give your kitchen a budget makeover that will make it sparkle again. You can cheaply and easily replace your kitchen faucet, update old lighting fixtures and add new cabinet door handles. On a slightly larger budget, you can improve your existing kitchen cabinets by hiring a refacing company. They can refinish the cabinet boxes and add new doors and drawers to make your cabinets shine again.

· Make your appliances match – Kitchen appliances that don’t match can be a turn-off for potential buyers. You don’t have to buy all new appliances to get a matching set. You can simply get a new cover for your existing appliances. If you’re looking to switch your white dishwasher face for a black one (or vice versa), you may be in luck. Many models of dishwashers have a reversible front panel. You just need to unscrew it and flip the panel around.

· Add a bedroom in less than a week – If you have a 2 bedroom house with a den, one of the reasons this room can’t be considered a bedroom may be because it doesn’t have a closet. If you’re only missing a closet, you can easily add one for less than $1500 in about one week. The value this added bedroom brings to your house far outweighs the cost of building a closet.

· Clean up for curb appeal – If your house doesn’t look appealing from the outside, you can improve your curb appeal with a few plants, a lawnmower, a power washer and some elbow grease. Make sure your lawn is mowed and weeded. Adding a few plants, flowers and some new mulch can do wonders to make your home warm and inviting for potential buyers. Rent (or borrow) a power washer and give your siding and walkways a good scrub.

· Spruce up your storage space – If your house lacks closet space, redesigned closets can help improve your resale value and make your remaining time in your home much more pleasant and organized. You can do it yourself with closet systems from your local home improvement store, design new closets online or call in a professional to help maximize the storage space you have.

As professional home stagers, we at Jacobson Realty and Home Staging can make personalized recommendations that will help you get the most when you decide to sell your home. Call us at 703-338-9678 or emailBelinda@JacobsonRealty1.com.

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