Kathy O'Neal
Fairfax, VA 22033
Office: 703.802.2850
Toll Free: 800.297.8382
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5 Important Questions To Ask Before You Invest In Solar Power For Your Home

Investing In Solar Energy For Your HomeChantilly and Northern Virginia homeowners considering a solar home system should first ask a few basic but vital questions.

In addition to the environmental benefits, there may be some very practical economic gains, but you do have to put some “due diligence” in first.

The federal government and many states are now providing tax incentives and rebates for installing solar panels in 2013 which make this an excellent opportunity to go green this spring.

However, there are many installers that might not have the necessary experience, so be sure to ask the questions below when searching for your solar energy system.

How many solar panel systems have they installed?
You want to make sure to find a reputable company that has significant solar experience and has successfully completed at least 50 installations.

Ask for references before you sign anything.

What is the output in kWh per year?
Many times, solar panel brands will claim to be more efficient than others.

You’ll want to weigh the annual output against the price to determine what system is going to be the most cost effective for your Fairfax home.

It is important to note that you should do an energy audit to see how you are using the power in your home before sizing the solar power replacement system.

You may be able to install a significantly smaller, and less costly, system if you learn how you can cut your power consumption prior to installing your new solar panels.

How long is the warranty on the panels?
Most high quality solar panel systems have a warranty of at least 25 years.

Top-of-the-line panels usually guarantee an output of no less than 90 percent after ten years and no less than 80 percent after 25 years.

Be wary of any company whose panels don’t come with a warranty.

Do they include a warranty on labor?
Many states require a warranty on labor in order to receive your rebate.

Reputable installers should have no problem including at least a 10-year warranty.

What is the final price?
Don’t get separate pricing for the parts, labor and rebates.  Get a comprehensive price, so you can directly compare the total cost and kWh per year among providers.

Also, pay attention to the difference between purchasing your solar power system versus the leasing options available.

Leasing has become popular due to the low — or possibly no– up-front cost, but most experts agree that purchasing the system leads to a quicker payoff and return on your investment.

Taking into consideration warranties and servicing fees, the outcome should be that you choose whoever can give you the most output at the best price.

[The Kathy O’Neal Team serves home buyers and sellers, and investors in the Chantilly and surrounding communities as well the greater Northern Virginia area.  Let us know how we can help you!]

Written by Fran ONeal | Discussion: No Comments »

Chantilly Homeowners – 3 Ways Clean Floors Can Help Sell Your Home Faster

Flooring Tips To Help You Sell Your HomeHave you ever walked into a home for sale and looked down to see stained carpet or scratched and worn flooring?

If so, you would probably agree that it doesn’t leave a positive first impression.

Imagine if you were a buyer looking at the same floor.

The right type of flooring and whether it is well taken care of can make a big difference to buyers.

If your floor is questionably clean, here are a few fixes to help remedy the issue to help your home sell quickly.

Does your home have hardwood floors?

You’re in luck.  Buyers love hardwood floors and some will pay extra to get them.

If your hardwood floors are covered by carpet, painted over or showing anything but the natural wood grain, it’s time for an overhaul.

With the ability to rent large sanders and other tools, you can either refinish the hardwood floor yourself or hire a professional.

Remember, however, that hardwood floors have a tendency to show off scratches, dents and uneven surfaces.

If you don’t think you can do an adequate job, hire a professional.

Does your home have carpeting?

If you don’t have hardwood floors, take a look at your carpeting.

If it’s stained, outdated or ragged, it might be time to pull it up and replace it.

There are many new techniques with carpet cleaning and spot repair, so check with a local carpet cleaning professional to assess your carpet before making expensive decisions.

When laying the new carpet, use high-quality carpet padding to make it comfortable to stand on.

Many buyers will kneel down and touch the floor, so make sure the carpet feels soft to the touch.

Does your home have tile floors?

Although tiles are beautiful, they typically show every ounce of old grime, dirt, chips and cracks.

Go through your home and replace any that are chipped, cracked or show significant signs of wear and tear.

Make sure the grout is clean and new looking, and use specialized tile cleaners or a steam cleaner to get rid of any stains.

Beautiful floors can go a long way toward selling Chantilly homes.

Take an honest look at yours.  It might just help get your home sold more quickly and at a higher price.

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 »

6 Essential Spring Cleaning Chores to Make Your Home Shine

Spring Cleaning Tips For April 2013If the thought of cleaning your Chantilly home this spring doesn’t bring a smile to your face, you’re not alone.

To help you get going now, here is a short list of the 6 essential spring-cleaning chores.

1. Store winter clothes.

It’s time to pack away your winter clothes.

Coats, sweaters, and bulkier clothing need to be inspected, cleaned and packed away.

Store your clothes somewhere clean, cool, dark and dry.

2. Wash window treatments.

You’ll be surprised at the huge amount of dirt and grime that a thorough window cleaning removes.

Wash blinds, launder curtains that are machine washable and send drapes to the dry cleaners.

While you’re at it, dust the window casing, wash your windowsills and clean any window hardware.

3. Clean carpets and upholstery.

You need to deep clean your fabrics that have absorbed a winter’s worth of dust and germs.

Shampoo your carpets and clean cloth furniture.

Open windows to speed the drying process, which can take a day or more.

4. Wash woodwork, walls, baseboards and cabinets.

Even if the walls of your home don’t look like they need cleaning, they do.

Just enough dust clings to vertical surfaces to warrant a seasonal bath.

Using a sponge and dish-washing soap, wash the surface in sections to make sure you don’t miss a spot.

5. Clean light and ceiling fixtures.

To clean your light fixtures, remove the light bulb and fixture if possible.

Wash the glass fixtures in soap and water. Wipe the light bulbs with a rag.

If the fixture cannot be removed from the ceiling, use a damp cloth to wipe it off and then dry the fixtures.

The easiest way to clean your ceiling fans is to use a vacuum with a soft nozzle attachment.

6. Check your coils.

Caked-on dust can cause your refrigerator to overheat, so take the time to clean the condenser coil.

It’s usually found behind the toe grille.

Clean it with a long-handled bottle brush and a vacuum cleaner with a hose attachment.

Put on your favorite music and start your spring cleaning today.  It’ll be done before you know it.

Then you can relax and enjoy your sparkling clean Chantilly home.

If you’re preparing your home this Spring to put it on the market please let us know how we can help!

Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: No Comments »

Children’s Fund “River Run for Orphans” on May 4, 2013

The wonderful team at Children’s Fund is sponsoring a “River Run for Orphans” on May 4, 2013 at Rock Creek Park.

What a perfect opportunity to enjoy a walk or jog while you feel great about helping precious young children.

Sherlie and the Children’s Fund team would love to see you there, but if you can’t be part of this memorable event, do consider a gift….even a small donation would be greatly appreciated, and will make a big difference in a child’s life.  You can contact the folks at Children’s Fund with any questions and for more details.

The need is very real..support the River  Run for Orphans on May 4!

The need is very real..support the River Run for Orphans on May 4!

Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: No Comments »

5 Quick Tips To Get A Better Price On Your Home Purchase

Negotiating Tips For Your Home PurchaseWhen you are looking to buy a home, it is important to keep in mind that no real estate price is set in stone.

There is always room for negotiation, and with the right techniques you may end up saving thousands of dollars on your dream house.

However, it can be tricky to get the right reaction when you are negotiating.

Here are a few tips that will help you to haggle your way to the best deal.

Find Out The Seller’s Motivation

If they really need to move and sell the property, it will be easier to convince them to negotiate on price or other deal points.

For example, they might be relocating for a job or the house might be close to foreclosure, which would give them the motivation to sell quickly at the price you offer.

Investigate How Long The Property Has Been On The Market

If the seller has been trying to sell the home for several months or longer, they will be much more receptive to competitive offers than a seller who just put their house up for sale last week.

Research Comparable Properties

Find out the price of recently sold properties in the same area that are comparable to your prospect.

This will give you an idea of how much you should bid on the house.

Knowledge is power in any type of negotiation, so arm yourself with as much information as possible.

Keep Your Cool

Even if you are absolutely head-over-heels in love with a property, refrain from showing your excitement to the seller.

You could lose any advantage you might have in negotiation if you let the seller and their agent know how much you really want the property.

Don’t Offend

Be careful not to bid too low. Sometimes sellers are offended by low ball offers and will refuse to work with you afterward.

Even when you are just attempting to get the home for a great price, the seller may become offended, which will leave you disappointed and empty-handed.

These are just a few tips to keep in mind for getting a great deal on your dream house.

If you have not yet settled on someone to work with, please check out our Testimonial Video to hear what our clients say about our team.  Let us know how we can help you!

Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: No Comments »

7 Fun and Easy Housewarming Gifts for A New Chantilly Homeowner

Whether you have new neighbors next door or old friends moving across town, a housewarming gift is a great way to show you care.

New owners always appreciate anything that relieves the pressures of moving and settling in to an unfamiliar neighborhood.

Here are seven fun and easy housewarming-gift ideas for your friends moving into their home.

A Door Wreath

You can choose a wreath that fits the season or that is simply attractive on the front door.

Include a wreath door-hanger and storage box so they can easily hang it or put it away.

A Pair of Candlestick Holders

Candlesticks are a simple, yet practical gift for a new Chantilly home.

They’re perfect for a mantel, dresser or table.  Choose attractive candlestick holders that match the house’s décor and include a set of candles to burn.

A Homemade Meal

Moving and getting settled in a new house takes a tremendous amount of time and effort.

This leaves little time to cook nutritious meals.

Bring either a takeout or home-cooked meal along with disposable plates and utensils for a much appreciated housewarming gift.

Fresh Flowers

Nothing makes a room look more inviting than fresh-cut flowers or a lush green plant.

Flowers add a punch of color while plants last longer while still requiring little work.

Choose flowers that fit the season or a plant with full, green leaves that is easy to maintain.

Scented Candles

Not only are they practical, but they also help bring comfort and serenity to the chaos of moving.

Choose a theme for the candles, such as a color or a scent that matches the style.

Include candles of different shapes and sizes and a lighter.

Picture Frames

Keep in mind the house’s décor as you choose a picture frame.

Wood, pewter, bamboo or decorative glass looks great in a casually decorated house.

If the house has a more formal décor, choose crystal or silver.

It’s be fun for your friends to have a place to display their new memories.

There are few experiences that offer the excitement of moving into a new home, and you can add to that excitement and wonder by giving one of these housewarming gift ideas.

And if you want to be the one receiving housewarming gifts by moving to a new home, please know that  The Kathy O’Neal Team is here for you!

Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: No Comments »

Get The Best Results On Your Mortgage Application: 3 Things You Should Know

Home Loan Approval TipsAlthough the financial markets have tightened lending guidelines and financing requirements over the last few years, the right advice when applying for your loan can make a big difference.

Not all loans are approved. And even when they aren’t approved immediately, it doesn’t have to be the end of your real estate dreams.

There are many reasons why a mortgage loan for the purchase of your real estate could be declined.

Here are a few things to understand and prepare for when applying for a mortgage:

Loan-to-Value Ratio

The loan-to-value ratio (LTV) is the percentage of the appraised value of the real estate that you are trying to finance.

For example, if you are trying to finance a home that costs $100,000, and want to borrow $75,000, your LTV is 75%.

Lenders generally don’t like a high LTV ratio. The higher the ratio, the harder it normally is to qualify for a mortgage.

You can positively affect the LTV by saving for a larger down payment.

Credit-to-Debt Ratio

Your credit score can be affected negatively, which in turn affects your mortgage loan if you have a high credit-to-debt ratio.

The ratio is figured by dividing the amount of credit available to you on a credit card or auto loan, and dividing it by how much you are currently owe.

High debt loads make a borrower less attractive to many lenders.

Try to keep your debt to under 50% of what is available to you. Lenders will appreciate it, and you will be more likely to get approved for a mortgage.

No Credit or Bad Credit

Few things can derail your mortgage loan approval like negative credit issues.

Having no credit record can sometimes present as much difficulty with your loan approval as having negative credit.

With no record of timely loan payments in your credit history, a lender is unable to determine your likelihood to repay the new mortgage.

Some lenders and loan programs may consider other records of payment, like utility bills and rent reports from your landlord.

Talk to your loan officer to determine which of these issues might apply to you, and take the steps to correct them.

Then, you can finance the home of your dreams.  And please know that we are here to help you find that home or assist you in the sale of your current home.  We have built a 27-year plus reputation based on integrity and state-of-the-art service and we’d love to assist you.  Let us know how we can help!

Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: No Comments »

Open House April 7, 2013 – 1 to 4 PM – 4528 Cub Run Road – Chantilly, VA 20151

We will be holding an Open House for 4528 Cub Run Road in Chantilly, Virginia (20151) this Sunday, April 7, 2013.

The property is an attractive single family home on a quiet cul-de-sac in the popular Pleasant Valley community.

The property is not yet listed, but will be toward week’s end.  In the meantime, feel free to contact us if you have questions.

We also invite you to use any of our Property Search tools if you are looking for homes in the Chantilly or Northern Virginia area.

We hope to see you this Sunday!

4528 Cub Run Road - Chantilly, VA 20151

4528 Cub Run Road – Chantilly, VA 20151

 

Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: No Comments »

Open House April 7, 2013 – 1 to 4 PM – 15116 Bernadette Court – Chantilly, VA 20151 – CANCELLED

Due to a ratified Contract, this Open House (on Bernadette Court) is now cancelled.

However, we will be doing an Open House for another Pleasant Valley home, at the same time.  The location is 4528 Cub Run Road.

We hope you can come by and visit!

______________________________________________________

If you are considering single family homes for sale in the Chantilly area, do come by for an Open House this Sunday (1 to 4 PM), April 7 to see one of our current listed properties at 15116 Bernadette Court in Chantilly, Virginia (20151).

This is an especially clean, sharp, well-maintained home with lots of upgrades.  You can find out more about this home on our website.  If you have any questions, or would like to see the property before or after the Open House, just call or email and I will get you whatever information you need.

15116 Bernadette Court -  Chantilly, VA 20151

15116 Bernadette Court – Chantilly, VA 20151

Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: No Comments »

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week: April 1st, 2013

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates April 1st 2013European Market Jitters Continue To Affect The US Economy

Mortgage rates fell last week as the European financial situation gave investors some concern.

Fears of growing differences between wealthier European nations and European nations needing economic aid brought higher bond prices and lower mortgage rates.

Positive news for Cyprus came when an agreement for an EU bailout was reached, but strict terms indicate that Germany and other nations are growing less enthusiastic about bailing out the banks of EU nations with shaky economies.

At the same time, the Italian government has not been able to agree on a coalition government, which reduces the chances for economic reform in the EU’s third largest country.

European trade with the U.S. could fall as the result of the EU’s ongoing economic challenges; this in turn would likely reduce U.S. inflation, which is good for lower mortgage rates.

Low inflation could also prolong the Fed’s commitment to its quantitative easing program that is designed to keep long term interest rates, including mortgage rates, lower.

Last Weeks Economic News Quiet, No Major Surprises

On Tuesday, New Home Sales for February were released, and came in short of investor expectations of 420,000 home sales on an annual basis.

February’s figure came in at 411,000 new homes sold as compared to January’s revised reading of 431,000 new homes sold.

Winter weather conditions are one reason for the decline in new home sales, which was the largest decline since February of 2011.

The National Association of REALTORS® released its Pending Home Sales Index for February on Wednesday; pending home sales reflected the results for New Home Sales with a reading of -0.4 percent as compared to expectations of a 2.0 percent reading.

January’s reading for Pending Home Sales was also higher at 4.5 percent.

Home prices and mortgage rates move according to supply and demand; if demand for homes falls, home prices are likely to do likewise as are mortgage rates.

But as demand for homes increases and prices rise, mortgage rates typically rise as well. Would-be buyers who have been waiting for their best deal may want to get into the housing market now, as strong signs of economic improvement are in play, but home prices and mortgage rates haven’t yet gone through the roof.

In other economic news, Thursday’s Jobless Claims Report fell short of Wall Street projections and came in at 357,000 new jobless claims against expectations of 340,000 new jobless claims.

The previous week’s jobless claims came in at 336,000 new jobless claims.

Analysts typically view a four-week rolling average of jobless claims as a more accurate indicator for the economy as jobless claims can vary widely week-to-week.

Consumer Sentiment for March was released Friday and came in at 78.6 and exceeded expectations of 72.5 for March.

The current reading also surpassed the prior reading of 71.8 percent. As consumers gain confidence in the economy, they are more likely to buy homes.

This week, the European Central Bank (ECB) meeting scheduled for Thursday and monthly Employment Data set for release Friday are among anticipated economic news events.

We at The Kathy O’Neal Team are here to help you!  We have a section on our website devoted to seller strategies and buyer strategies that may prove helpful.  Please feel free to contact us anytime!

Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: No Comments »