Kathy O'Neal
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Why Your Closing Costs Will Vary Depending on the Type of Home You Buy

3 Reasons Why Your Closing Costs Will Vary Depending on the Type of Home You BuySavvy home buyers who are preparing to make a real estate purchase should do their research and understand that they need to save money for not only the down payment, but the closing costs as well. The closing costs can account for as much as three to five percent of the sales price in some cases, so this can be a rather sizable amount of money. Some home buyers however, may not realize that the amount of closing costs can vary considerably based on the home that is purchased. With a closer look at why this is, home buyers can make a more educated decision when selecting a home to purchase.

Prepaid Taxes And Insurance

One of the most significant closing costs relates to prepaid taxes and insurance, and both of these expenses are directly tied to the location and value of the property. Consider that the property tax rate can vary based on the city, county, and state. Real estate insurance can also vary based on the type of construction of the home, if the home is located in a flood plain, and other factors. These are only a few examples of how the location and property type can impact these fees, and home buyers should consider the costs assoicated with the tax rates and insurance when selecting a property to purchase.

Third Party Reports

There are several third party reports that are commonly paid for at closing, and these include an appraisal, a survey, a pest inspection and a property inspection. The third party reports may vary in cost based on the size of the home, the amount of land that is being purchased, and even the condition of the property. Those who want to keep their closing costs lower may consider learning more about how these fees are calculated up-front before finalizing their plans to buy a specific home.

Title Insurance Fees

Title insurance fees are another typically sizable expense for home buyers, and this insurance offers protection to the lender if the title is not clean. Title insurance can increase based on the size of the property as well as different factors that are revealed with a title search. This information can be difficult to learn with an initial home search, but home buyers should be aware that title defects can increase closing costs.

The location, size, age and construction of a property all impact the closing costs. Those who are shopping for real estate may be inclined to make a decision that keeps closing costs down, and they can reach out to their knowledgeable mortgage professional for more assistance with their particular situation.

By the way, if you are considering either buying or selling a home in the Chantilly or surrounding area, please know we how we can help. We are always here for you.

Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: Comments Off on Why Your Closing Costs Will Vary Depending on the Type of Home You Buy

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 13, 2015

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week July 13 2015Last week’s scheduled economic events were few due to the Independence Day holiday. Freddie Mac’s weekly survey of mortgage rates brought good news as mortgage rates fell across the board. The Federal Reserve released the minutes of its most recent Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting and weekly jobless claims rose.

Job Openings Rise to Highest Level Since 2000

The Labor Department reported that U.S. job openings rose from April’s reading of 5.33 million to 5.36 million job openings in May. This was the highest reading for job openings since the report’s inception in 2000. Private sector job openings rose to 4.85 million, an increase of 16 percent. Government jobs rose increased by 511,000 open jobs from April’s reading of 430,000 job openings. Based on the Labor Department’s report of 8.67 million unemployed workers, there were 1.60 job seekers for each job opening in May as compared to 2.10 job seekers for each job available in May 2014. There were approximately 1.80 job seekers for each job available when the recession started in December 2007.

FOMC Minutes: Fed Issues No Firm Date for Raising Rates

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve released the minutes of June’s FOMC meeting, during which nine of ten committee members indicated that they were not ready to raise the federal funds rate. One FOMC member indicated that they were willing to wait for another meeting or two to raise rates. While FOMC has hinted at the likelihood of raising rates this fall, committee members are wary of moving too quickly and cited developments in China and Greece as concerns that contributed to the committee’s current wait and see position. When the Fed does raise its target rates from 0.00 percent, consumers can expect higher mortgage and loan rates.

Freddie Mac: Mortgage Rates Fall, Jobless Claims Rise

Mortgage rates fizzled last week with Freddie Mac reporting average rates lower for all types of mortgages. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was four basis points lower at 4.04 percent and discount points unchanged at 0.60 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was also four basis points lower at 3.20 percent. Average discount points for a 15-year mortgage fell from 0.60 to 0.50 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage fell by six basis points to 2.93 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.40 percent.

According to the Labor Department, weekly jobless claims rose to 297,000 new claims filed as compared to 282,000 new claims filed the previous week. There were no estimates for last week’s jobless claims due to the holiday.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include Retail Prices, Retail Prices Except Automotive and the NAHB Housing Market Index. The Commerce Department is set to release monthly readings for Housing Starts and Building Permits. In addition to Freddie Mac’s report on mortgage rates and the Labor Department’s report on new jobless claims, the University of Michigan will wrap up the week with its Consumer Sentiment report.

Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: Comments Off on What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 13, 2015

Thinking of Converting Your Chantilly Home to Hardwood Flooring?

Let's Talk Hardwood: Why Converting Your Home to Hardwood Flooring Will Boost Its ValueWhen a homeowner makes the decision to upgrade flooring in one area of the home or throughout the entire space, there are numerous materials that may be considered. While each material option has its unique benefits and advantages, many are drawn to hardwood flooring as an option. This is a material that has the potential to boost home value, and a closer look at its benefits will reveal why this is the case.

A Durable, Long-Lasting Material

With many flooring options, homeowners understand that the material will need to be replaced or upgraded over the years. With hardwood flooring, the timeless appeal and incredible durability of the material means that the floor may be an investment to enjoy for many long decades. In fact, with periodic maintenance and regular care of hardwood floors, some hardwood floors may provide the homeowner with 50 years or more of beautiful use in the home.

Numerous Stylish Options

More than that, there are numerous style options for homeowners to consider, and this provides the ability to easily select a material that is ideal for the look of your Chantilly home. In addition, hardwood floor generally has universal appeal that many desire, and this increases the desirability of the home to future home buyers. This is especially true when a more classic tone of wood is selected rather than a modern or trendy tone.

Improved Indoor Air Quality

Some flooring materials, such as carpet, may have a detrimental impact on indoor air quality, but this is not the case with hardwood flooring. The material is easy to clean, and this means that dust, dander and other allergens can easily be removed from the floor. This will have a direct and beneficial impact on indoor air quality that current owners as well as future home buyers can enjoy.

While hardwood flooring can be desirable and beneficial for current property owners, the appeal of the material will extend to future home buyers. When hardwood flooring is well-maintained by the owner, it is a true investment that will add true value to the home and that may help the owner to sell the property more quickly when the time comes.

Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: Comments Off on Thinking of Converting Your Chantilly Home to Hardwood Flooring?

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 6, 2015

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week July 6 2015

Last week’s housing-related economic events included the Case-Shiller Home Price Index reports for April, the Commerce Department’s Pending Home Sales report and a report on Construction Spending. In other economic news, Non-Farm Payrolls, the ADP Employment report and Consumer Confidence reports were released. Freddie Mac’s mortgage rates summary and the weekly unemployment claims report were released as usual.

Case-Shiller: Home Price Growth Slows in April

The Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index reported that year-over-year home prices slowed in April with a reading of 4.20 percent as compared to the March reading of 4.30 percent. David M Blitzer, chairman of the S&P Dow Jones Indices Committee, said that home prices continue to grow, but are not accelerating. According to the 20-City Index, home prices rose 1.10 percent from March to April and were bolstered by the onset of the spring selling season.

The Department of Commerce reported that pending home sales increased to their highest level in more than nine years in May. Pending home sales were 10.40 percent higher than they were in May 2014, which is a further indication of a stronger housing sector. Analysts consider pending home sales as an indicator of future closings and mortgage originations.

Construction Spending Lower, Mortgage Rates Higher

Construction spending dipped in May to 0.80 percent as compared to April’s reading of 2.10 percent; analysts had expected a reading of 0.50 percent in May. The outstanding news is that construction spending for manufacturing building is up by 70 percent year-over-year in May. While not directly connected to housing, this reading suggests that manufacturers are expanding their businesses and will likely expand hiring as well. Concerns over the labor market have kept many would-be home buyers on the sidelines, but improved hiring reports and wage increases are expected to compel more buyers to enter the housing market.

Freddie Mac’s weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey brought another increase in average mortgage rates; the average rate for a 30 year fixed rate mortgage rose six basis points to 4.08 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose by three basis points to 3.24 percent and the average rate for a 5/2 adjustable rate mortgage rose by one point to 2.99 percent. Discount points for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage dropped from 0.70 percent to 0.60 percent and were unchanged for 16-year fixed rate mortgages at 0.60 percent and 0.40 percent for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage.

Non-Farm Payrolls Lower; ADP Employment

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that Non-farm Payrolls dropped to a reading of 223,000 new jobs added as compared to expectations of 225,000 new jobs added and 254,000 new jobs added in May. The ADP employment report, which tracks private-sector hiring, fared better with 237,000 new jobs posted as compared to 203,000 new private sector jobs added in May.

Weekly Jobless Claims Rise to Highest Level in Five Weeks

New claims for unemployment reached their highest reading in five weeks with 281,000 new claims filed against expectations of 275,000 new claims filed and the previous week’s reading of 271,000 jobless claims filed. The four week rolling average of new claims filed showed an increase of 1000 more claims filed for a reading of 274,750 new claims filed. Analysts said that new jobless claims remained below the 300,000 benchmark for the 17th consecutive week.

The Commerce Department reported that the National Unemployment Rate was lower at 5.30 percent as compared to an expected reading of 5.40 percent and May’s reading of 5.50 percent. June’s national unemployment rate was the lowest reading since 2008 and is a good sign that labor markets are steadily if slowly improving.

No economic reports were released Friday due to the Fourth of July holiday.

Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: Comments Off on What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 6, 2015

Safety Tips: 5 Ways to Prepare for a House Fire – and What to Do if One Breaks Out

Safety Tips: 5 Ways to Prepare for a House Fire - and What to Do if One Breaks Out Some great tips for our Chantilly area friends and beyond:

House fires can break out for a wide range of reasons, and these include everything from grease fires while cooking in the kitchen to lightning striking the home. They can cause a significant amount of property damage as well as personal injury or even loss of life, so preventing them and knowing how to properly respond if a fire does break out are important. Whether buying a new home or residing in an existing home, everyone can benefit from learning more about fire safety rules.

Have An Exit Strategy

Fires can break out whether residents are awake in the living room or kitchen, taking a bath or sleeping in the bedrooms. It is important to have a fire exit strategy for every floor of the home and every room of the home. In addition, it is equally important that all residents in the home understand the strategies and know how to get out.

Invest In Fire Safety Ladders

Fire safety ladders are designed to give residents a safe escape route from second story windows, and they should be placed in a convenient location in every second floor room in the home. Residents should know how to attach them securely to the window as well as how to get down the ladder safely.

Purchase A Fire Extinguisher

Generally, it is safer for residents to get out of the home in the event of a fire rather than to attempt to put the fire out, and personal safety should also come before thoughts about saving the property. However, in the event a very small fire has broken out, a fire extinguisher can provide a homeowner with a safe way to put the fire out. It is best to keep a fire extinguisher in a convenient location on each floor of the home.

Place Fire Detectors In Strategic Locations

There are codes regarding the placement of fire detectors in a home, be sure you are familiar with and are in compliance with these standards. In many cases, homeowners may benefit from having additional fire detectors placed in strategic locations throughout the home in addition to the locations required by code.

Check Fire Safety Equipment Regularly

Fire safety and prevention equipment is only useful if it works, so it is important to test the equipment and supplies regularly. For example, a homeowner may test the batteries in a fire detector monthly and may take extinguishers to the local fire department for testing annually. These steps will help to ensure that residents have access to functional safety equipment regularly.

Residents should also know what to do if a fire breaks out in a home, and in most cases, the answer is to get out of the home quickly and to call the fire department. Attempts to save personal belongings should not be made, and all residents should know where the family will meet outside of the home in the event of a fire.

Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: Comments Off on Safety Tips: 5 Ways to Prepare for a House Fire – and What to Do if One Breaks Out

3 Quick Tips to Boost Your Home’s Curb Appeal

Summer's Coming! Boost Your Home's Curb Appeal and Get a Quick Sale with These 3 Tips Curb appeal is important in the home sales process, and this is because it will impact the overall first impression that potential home buyers have about the property. Some homeowners can easily spend a small fortune and a considerable amount of time improving curb appeal, but others may be looking for faster and easier results. The good news is that boosting curb appeal is easy and affordable to do when these three tips are followed.

Spruce Up The Front Door

The front door and patio area are focal points for those driving by the home, and this area receives even more scrutiny by those home buyers who walk up to the home to take a tour of the interior. Re-staining or re-painting the front door can be highly beneficial to dressing up the look of this focal area, and this can give the impression that the home is well-maintained and stylish. In addition, consider replacing the front door mat and hardware on the door for improved results and added aesthetic appeal.

Power Wash The Exterior Of The Home

Beautification efforts for the front of the home would not be complete without spending time cleaning up the space, and one of the best ways to clean the exterior of a property thoroughly is by power washing it. Power washing the exterior may include cleaning the exterior siding material of the home, the patio, the driveway, the sidewalk and even the fencing. This can give the entire area a fresher and more appealing look.

Add Color To The Flower Beds

Some homeowners may not have funds or time available to fully revamp the landscaping, but showing the flower beds some attention can pay off. After weeding the flower beds, add some fresh, brightly colored blooms to the area to dress up curb appeal. Homeowners can finish off the look by spreading a new layer of mulch across the flower beds after the flowers have been planted.  Remember to keep those new flower plants watered and fed in the Virginia summer heat.

Curb appeal is vital to selling a home quickly and for top dollar. Enhancing curb appeal can cost a small fortune and could take weeks to do, but even these small and affordable efforts can give homeowners great results with minimal time and money required.

Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: Comments Off on 3 Quick Tips to Boost Your Home’s Curb Appeal

Our Guide to Finding the Perfect New Neighborhood here in the Chantilly Area

Buying a Home This Summer? Our Guide to Finding the Perfect New Neighborhood Finding the perfect home to purchase is easier said than done, and savvy home buyers understand the importance of researching the neighborhood as well as the home. All home buyers have unique things that they are looking for in an ideal neighborhood, and these factors will play a major role in how enjoyable a homeowner’s living experience is. Those who are shopping for a new home in the Chantilly area this summer may focus on a few points to find the perfect neighborhood to live in before deciding which home to purchase in that community.

Use A Good Search Tool and Get the Help of an Agent

Our website: www.KathyONeal.com has a free map based property search tool to help you in your search.  If you have any questions about neighborhoods in the Chantilly VA area, please feel free to contact us.

Get A Feel For The Ambiance And Energy Of the Neighborhood

Some home buyers want to find a lovely home in a quiet, mature community. Others may be searching for an active community with kids playing freely in their yards and people taking walks or jogging in their free time. Home buyers can get a great feel for the ambiance and energy of the neighborhood by driving around at different times of the day during the week as well as on the weekend.

Look At Neighborhood Amenities

The amenities in the neighborhood are important for many home buyers, and you can easily research amenities by driving through the area. Look for everything from a fitness center and community swimming pool to parks and hike and bike trails. Home buyers may research this aspect of the neighborhood further online to determine if the neighborhood regularly hosts community events or special activities.

Focus On Security

Security is a top concern for home buyers, and it is possible to research crime rates online. However, home buyers can also gauge the general feeling of security that residents have by looking for home security features on various homes in the community and by paying attention to how many people are outdoors on nice weather days. Many will find comfort in selecting a neighborhood where the residents feel safe and secure on a daily basis.

A primary factor to take into consideration when buying a home is its location. While the area of town is important to consider, the neighborhood is a more localized environment that will have a greater impact on a homeowner’s living experience. Those who are in the market to purchase a new home can begin researching neighborhoods today.

And of course, if you are looking at homes for sale in Chantilly or any of the surrounding Northern Virginia communities, please know let us know how we can help.

Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: Comments Off on Our Guide to Finding the Perfect New Neighborhood here in the Chantilly Area

Selling Your Chantilly Home in 2015?

Selling Your Home in 2015? Boost Your Resale Value with These Three Inexpensive Renovations Boost Your Chantilly Home’s Resale Value with These Three Inexpensive Renovations:

To get top dollar for your home, renovations may be necessary. However, some renovations can prove costly and they don’t always add value to your home. Here are three inexpensive renovations that are sure to improve the resale value of your home.

First Impressions Matter

Your home needs to have curb appeal. If the potential buyer doesn’t see that, it will be difficult to get the price you want. Spend money and time landscaping your yard. Pressure wash your driveway. Paint your front door. Make your porch look welcoming. If you do all of this yourself or with the help of family and friends, the costs will be reasonable.

After a prospective buyer is impressed by your nicely kept lawn, you will want to continue impressing him/her with your interior design. Buyers know what they want when it comes to the number of bedrooms and baths. You have something they want or they wouldn’t be looking at your home. Now, you need to keep their attention.

Freshening Up the Interior

Each room needs to be freshly painted in a neutral color. Old wallpaper and borders should be stripped and walls repainted. Make each room look larger by clearing any clutter. If possible, remove any unnecessary furniture and store it somewhere else. Have any carpets professionally cleaned, and be sure to polish any hardwood flooring. In the bedrooms, de-clutter your closets. Your kitchen and bathrooms should be sparkling. Clean and organize counters and cabinets. Again, most of these suggestions cost little but add great value to your home.

Upgrades

When you think of upgrades, you many automatically assume major costs with little return. However, many upgrades may be within your budget. Consider making some of these affordable upgrades to your home.

Living Areas/Family Rooms – If you’re going for a more elegant touch, add some crown molding. For a more rustic feel, add box beams. Improving the ceilings of main rooms will add value to your home.

Hardware and Fixtures – Painting and changing the hardware on your cabinet doors can change the look of a room dramatically. Add new fixtures such as lighting and doorknobs for a more updated look.

Selling your home may require you to spend a little money, but you’ll likely get the full value of your home.

And if you are considering curb appeal with an eye toward selling your own home, please know we’d be happy to give you a quick estimate of the  property’s current market value. Let us know how we can help!

Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: Comments Off on Selling Your Chantilly Home in 2015?

Sterling VA Open House at 37 Alden Court: Sunday Jan 25 – 1PM to 3 PM

If you are considering a townhome in the Sterling VA area, come by our Open House on Sunday, January 25, 2015 from 1 PM to 3 PM.

This clean and well-maintained home has lots of appeal for first-time home buyers, investors, or anyone interested in keeping their mortgage low.

Take a quick virtual tour, and come by Sunday to see for yourself if this property is the one you have been waiting for.

MLS number is LO 8444382.  And…we invite you to use our easy search tool to find other properties at KathyONeal.com

37 Alden Court - Sterling, VA  20165

37 Alden Court – Sterling, VA 20165

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Chantilly VA Open House on Sunday June 1, 2014 – 15121 Philip Lee Road – 1 PM to 4 PM

If you are looking at homes for sale in Chantilly or surrounding area, please come to our Open House this Sunday, June 1, at 15121 Philip Lee Road in Chantilly, VA (20151), from 1 PM to 4 PM.

This is one of the most popular models in the community of Pleasant Valley.  There are 5 bedrooms with a sitting room in the master.  Lots of other features including 3 full bathrooms, two-car garage, shed, deck, brick patio…the list goes on!

Come on by and take a look.  Contact Kathy for more information or get more details on this home under Current Listings.

15121 Philip Lee Road - Chantilly, VA 20151

15121 Philip Lee Road – Chantilly, VA 20151

Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: No Comments »