Kathy O'Neal
Fairfax, VA 22033
Office: 703.802.2850
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Real Estate Investing in Chantilly and Centreville VA Area

Investing in Chantilly and Centreville VA real estate has very real opportunities at this time.

To help anyone who has been thinking about real estate investing in the Chantilly, Centreville, or Northern Virginia area, the Kathy O’Neal Team wants all potential and experienced real estate investors to know that we are now Certified as part of the Own America Investment Network.

We invite you to visit our Investor Center and use any of the free resources that are there for you.  www.realestateinchantilly.com

For example, maybe you are not yet an experienced real estate investor and would just like to get grounded in the basics so that you can see if starting with a first investment might be right for you.

A great place to begin is with our educational videos.  You can watch a few or take the entire video course.

Our approach is very different than the high risk and, in my opinion, highly unrealistic approaches which promise immediate profits.  I have found that those who do well are careful and smart in how they start and how they continue.  Our Investor Center videos will give you reality-based knowledge about how successful investors approach the craft of real estate investment.

Visit the Center and let us know how we can help get you started or continue on your successful journey.  We are here for you!

Written by Fran ONeal | Discussion: No Comments »

Tips For Selling Your Chantilly Home In The Colder Winter Months

Shovel snow on the walkwaysReal estate agents in Chantilly will tell you that it can be harder to sell a home in the winter.  The days are colder and shorter, leaving less time to show a home to potential buyers.

The good news, though, is that most buyers looking at houses in the winter aren’t just killing time.  They’re serious enough about finding a new home to house hunt at a time when most people might rather stay inside.

There are a several steps you can take to make a good impression on home buyers this winter.

First, if there’s snow or ice on the ground, make sure walkways are safe.  Spread out ice melt or sand to provide traction during snowy weather.  Shovel the snow on the driveway and sidewalks to make your home more inviting.  Be sure to place a mat on which for visitors to wipe their feet.

Second, warm up the house.  Buyers will remember the house that was pleasantly warm on a frigid day.  This also demonstrates to buyers that your furnace is in good working order.

Next, to make a “welcoming scent”, bake cookies the day of the showing.  Some people are sensitive to the fragrances in air fresheners and perfumes, so skip spraying those when expecting someone to look at your house.

You can also serve snacks in the kitchen.  Give the buyer a reason to linger in your home by leaving a light snack in the kitchen.  If the weather is cold, consider providing chili or soup in a crock-pot to keep it warm with festive disposable bowls.  Or, to keep it simple, you can provide coffee or hot chocolate and cookies.

Lastly, to make your house appear warm and inviting during cold winter months, turn all the lights in the house on; place warm-toned throws and decorator pillows around the living room.  Play soothing classical or jazz music; keep the volume low enough that buyers can talk quietly to each other.

These techniques each can help your home seem more inviting this winter.

And if you are preparing your home to sell, please know that the Kathy O’Neal Team is here for you!

Please feel free to contact us anytime!  We have a section devoted to seller strategies on our website that may prove helpful!

Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: No Comments »

Help Your Pets Adjust To Your New Chantilly Home

Help pets adjust to a new homeMoving to a new home can be a difficult transition for everyone in the family, including the furry, four-legged members.

Dogs and cats develop a strong bond with their environment so when they are relocated from their territory it can cause them stress.

Here are some tips to ease your pets’ transition to a new home :

Keep Your Mood Calm
Pets are very tuned-in to your emotions and will sense your mood.  If you are stressed throughout the moving process, your cat or dog will pick up on this and it will make him anxious. Try to remain calm and give your pet plenty of attention and reassurance during the process of moving.

Transporting Your Pet
A few weeks before the move, introduce your pet to his pet carrier so that he becomes familiar with it.  It will be much less scary for him to be transported in a carrier, which already has recognizable smells and perhaps a favorite chew toy or blanket inside.  When you are moving your pets to your new home, it is a good idea not to feed them for about three hours before setting off, as this can help to prevent accidents while in transit.

Upon Arrival
When you get to your new Chantilly residence, place your pets in one room of the house and provide them with water, food, and a few familiar possessions.  Keep them in a closed room while you move things in, as the process of moving boxes and furniture can be chaotic and doors can be left open.  Once everything has been moved in, you can take the time to give your pet some one-on-one attention.

Dogs find routines comforting, so try to stick to the same schedule of feeding and walking in your new home.  Cats will want to explore and rub their scent all over the house to claim it as their territory.  A cat might attempt to return to its old home after a move, so keep it indoors for a few weeks at first.

These are just a few ways that you can make moving to a new home a better experience for your beloved pets.  If you’d like more suggestions for helping your pets and family adjust to a move, call or email me with your questions. The Kathy O’Neal Team is here to help you find your new home!

Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: No Comments »

27 Months Of Consecutive Job Growth Helping Home Prices Rise

Job growth helping housing recoveryThe Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Non-Farm Payrolls report for December exceeded Wall Street’s expectations by 5,000 net new jobs, showing 155,000 positions created in December.

The December tally raised the economy’s 12-month total to 1.84 million net new jobs created nationwide.  Jobs added in December mark the 27th consecutive month of job growth.

Job sectors showing the strongest growth to close out 2012 included:

Private-sector hiring is driving the jobs market, too.  168,000 new private sector jobs were added in December.  Government jobs fell by thirteen thousand.

Monthly job creation has averaged +153,000 jobs since 12 months ago.  It’s a fine measure of growth but economists believe it’s not enough job creation to significantly reduce the national unemployment rate. 14.4 percent of workers are categorized as under-employed.

December’s national unemployment rate was 7.8 percent, representing 4.8 million job seekers.  This figure matched Wall Street’s expectations and was equal to November revised unemployment rate of 7.8 percent.

The improving jobs market and national unemployment rate make an impact on both mortgage rates and Chantilly home prices.

Job creation suggests an expanding economy, which typically leads mortgage rates higher.  In addition, with more employed persons nationwide, the potential home buyer pool grows larger, which introduces new demand to the housing market. With more demand, all things equal, home prices rise.

Job growth is one reason why home values climbed more than 5 percent in 2012, according to the Federal Home Finance Agency; and why the national housing supply would be exhausted in fewer than 5 months, at the current sales pace.  Demand for homes is high and today’s low mortgage rates are extending buyer purchasing power in the Chantilly area.

For home buyers, the expanding U.S. economy and steady job growth suggests that home prices may not rocket higher this year, but will continue to increase, little by little.

If you are considering purchasing a home we are here to help!   Our website has many useful  tools for home buying and you can contact me directly with any questions.

Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: No Comments »

How To Improve Your FICO Score

Chantilly Homeowners – The U.S. housing market recovery is underway.  New home sales are at a multi-year high, housing starts are at pre-recession levels, and home builders plan for a strong 2013.

Since late-2011, falling mortgage rates have boosted buyer purchasing power.  Now, today, in many U.S. markets, the number of active home buyers outnumbers the number of active home sellers.  It’s among the reasons why home supplies remain scarce and why home prices are rising.

Roughly 20 percent of today’s home buyers purchase homes with cash.  For everyone else, the ability to gain mortgage approval depends on income, assets, and, most importantly, credit scores.  Your credit score is a predictor of your future payment performance and lenders pay close attention.

If you plan to buy a home in the Chantilly or Centreville area  or anywhere else in the next 12 months, spend some time with this The Today Show interview.  It’s five minutes of practical credit scoring advice, including separation of credit score myth from credit score fact.

Among the credit scoring tips shared :

You’ll also learn about utility companies and why you should never be late with payment.

As compared to August 2011, last month’s average, mortgage-financing home buyer’s FICO score improved 9 points to 750.  The average “denied” mortgage applicant’s FICO score was 704.  Clearly, standards are high. However, credit scoring is a system and, with time, you can improve your rating.

Watch the interview and find ways to make your credit score better. With better credit comes better mortgage rates.

And if you are considering buying or selling a property in Northern Virginia let us know how we can help!  As always, we are here to serve Chantilly and Northern Virginia area home buyers and sellers with our signature personal and state-of-the-art service which is described in the voices of our clients in this Testimonial video.

Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: No Comments »

Existing Home Sales Leap To 2-Year High

Existing Home Sales By Price Tier, August 2012

Chantilly Homeowners – The home resale market put forth another strong data set last week.  Home sales prices are higher nationwide and sales volume has moved to a 2-year high.

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, 4.82 million “existing homes” sold on a seasonally-adjusted, annualized basis in August, representing a near 8 percent improvement from the month prior and a nine percent jump from August 2011.

An existing home is a home which has been previously occupied.

Home sales were unevenly split across price tiers, with more than half of all homes selling for less than $250,000.  This suggests that the first-time home buyers and real estate investors continue to be active in today’s market as a foundation for growth is built.

According to the Existing Home Sales data :

Also noteworthy is that “distressed homes” accounted for the smallest percentage of overall home sales since the real estate trade group starting tracking such data.

In August, homes in various stages of foreclosures accounted for 12% of all sales and sold at an average discount of 19 percent below market value.  Short sale homes accounted for 10% of all sales and sold at an average discount of 13 percent below market value.

Of all the data in the August Existing Home Sales report, though, perhaps most relevant to today’s buyers is the shrinking national housing supply.

At August’s end, there were 2.47 million homes listed for sale nationwide, a three percent increase from the month prior.  However, because the pool of available home buyers is increasing more rapidly than the number of homes for sale, housing supplies fell 0.3 months to 6.1 months.

This means that at the current pace of sales, the entire housing supply would be sold by March 2013.

For today’s home buyers, home affordability appears poised to worsen.  Mortgage rates and home prices remain low today, but market conditions like these rarely last long.  Talk to your real estate agent about what options you have ahead of you.  2012 is coming to a close.

By 2013, the housing recovery may be fully underway.

And if you are considering buying or selling real estate, we invite you to hear what others are saying about The Kathy O’Neal Team.  As always, we are here to serve Chantilly and Northern Virginia area home buyers and sellers with our signature personal and state-of-the-art service.

Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: No Comments »

Virginia Space Maker: Simplifying With Style and Value

Virginia Space Maker is helping Northern Virginia area residents simplify their life.

We have known the good folks at this company ever since Doric Caron and his team did a super job installing organizing systems in our own home.

Ever since then, we give his name to our real estate clients and others when they are looking for this kind of service.

In this part of the world, it is always smart to think about saving time and making life a bit less frantic.  Doric has several decades of experience in doing this for area residents.  His organizing systems are very high quality and that comes from his personal commitment to do every job in an entirely professional and quality way, and with excellent prices as well.

If you have been thinking about a closet or home office system, or some other way to save time and make you home life more organized, take a look at the Virginia Space Maker website.  You will see some clever ways to add time and lower stress to your home life.  And with so many people who work at home these days, you may see some options that will help your work life as well.

Here are a few samples…get the full  scoop on their website.

If you are doing home improvements with an eye toward the sale of your home, we’d be happy to give you an opinion on your home’s current value and answer any questions on which improvements might enhance the sale of your property.  Let us know how we can help.

closets 027

We like the excellent work of Virginia Space Makers.

VIrginia Space MakersVirginia Space Makers


Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: No Comments »

Making Coupon-Free Savings At The Supermarket

The average  family puts 10-15 percent of its monthly spending toward food, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Department of Agriculture, with most of that food purchased at a supermarket.

The amount spent on food is less than the typical amount spent on housing each month but what makes food costs different from housing expenses is food costs are not “fixed”.

Chantilly homeowners – How much you spend on food each month is up to you and, using savvy shopping tactics plus coupons, you can lower your monthly food spend. Saving money on food leaves money for other purposes including savings, clothing and transportation.

In this 4-minute piece from NBC’s The Today Show, you’ll learn several easy-to-implement methods which can reduce your supermarket bills, as well a few “common sense” tactics you may have overlooked.

Among the topics covered in the video :

Another shared money-saving tip is to shop at grocery store without children.  It can be fun for the family to shop together, as noted in the interview, but bringing children to the supermarket is a sure-fire way to raise your grocery bill.

Recent inflation data shows that the typical cost of food is rising in Chantilly and nationwide.  With these tips, perhaps you can lower your bill.

And if you are buying or selling a property in Northern Virginia let us know how we can help!  As always, we are here to serve Chantilly and Northern Virginia area home buyers and sellers with our signature personal and state-of-the-art service.

Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: No Comments »

How To Repair Water-Damaged Hardwood Floors

How to fix water-damaged flooringFor Chantilly homeowners with hardwood flooring, a little bit of in-home water can do a whole lot of damage. Over prolonged periods of time, water can warp, buckle, and/or cup hardwood flooring, leading to an expensive and time-consuming repair process.

Not all warped woodwork requires replacement, though.  Some warped floors can be fixed as a DIY project using nothing but a dehumidifier and time. The key is to identify — and rectify — the water damage issue quickly.

Your first step is to dry all water-damaged areas thoroughly.

Using absorbent towels, remove traces of moisture from the damaged floor’s surface.  For standing water problems, use a water vacuum.  If water entered the affected room by seeping through a wall, or falling through a ceiling, for example, make sure the water’s source has been identified and “plugged”.

Next, rent or buy a dehumidifier.

A dehumidifier is a small, household appliance meant to reduce humidity in the air.  Dehumidifiers are often used for health reasons but, in the case of water-damaged flooring, a dehumidifier can help to extract water from wood planks, returning the wood to its original, non-warped form more quickly.

With the above steps completed, if the warping persists, plan to wait.  It may take a week, a month, or longer, but — eventually — for all but the most damaged flooring, your hardwood will return to shape.  Expect the process to happen more quickly during winter as the wood contracts in colder, drier air.

Lastly, if your floors have been damaged as a result of heavy rains or water entering your home from the outside, consider a professional inspection to identify how and why the damage occurred. Your gutter may be clogged, for example, which can result in overflows which can damage your home’s foundation.

It can be labor-intensive to dry your wood floors.  Compared to the cost of replacement, however, calling this a DIY can be sensible.

And if you are preparing your home to sell, please know that the Kathy O’Neal Team is here for you!

Please feel free to contact us anytime!  We have a section devoted to seller strategies on our website that may prove helpful!

Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: No Comments »

Should You Lease Or Buy Your Next Car? It May Affect Your Mortgage.

Chantilly/Centreville  residents should you lease a new car, or should you buy one? Like most financial questions, the answer depends on your situation.  For some people, leasing a car presents distinct economic advantages.  For others, buying a car is the way to go.

There’s plenty of online material to help you choose your optimal path, but this 3-minute piece from NBC’s The Today Show serves as an excellent summary.  In it, you’ll learn about the basics of leasing a car, and for whom leasing can be a great fit.  You’ll also hear reasons to avoid a lease completely.

The NBC interview makes all of the following points :

For many people, it concludes, buying a car is preferable to leasing one, with a notable exception being those people who can claim their car or truck as a tax deduction.  Be sure to check with your tax advisor if you plan to take that route.

However, for another group — homeowners and active home buyers — leasing a car can invite mortgage approval trouble.  This is because a car lease payment is assumed by a mortgage underwriter to be a perpetual debt; one that never reduces or gets extinguished.  When a lease is complete, it must be replaced with a new lease, and so on.

Therefore, no matter how many payments remain in a lease, mortgage applicants must use the full car lease payment for purposes of a mortgage approval.

By contrast, for people whom are owners of their automobiles, car payments must only be added to debt ratios if more than 10 car payments remain until the car’s loan is paid-in-full.  For homeowners and buyers in Fairfax , this can improve debt-to-income ratios and support a higher purchase price on a home.

There is no firm rule for whether it is better to lease a car or to own one.  The arguments for both sides are compelling and reasonable.  Start with the video, then do your own research.

If you are considering purchasing a home in the Northern Virginia area  we are here to help!   Our website has many useful  tools for home buying and you can contact me directly with any questions.

Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: No Comments »