Kathy O'Neal
Fairfax, VA 22033
Office: 703.802.2850
Toll Free: 800.297.8382
EMAIL
WEBSITE

Categories

Blogroll

Archives

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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

Freddie Mac 30-Year Fixed Rate Mortgage Rates Rises To 3.55%

30-year fixed rate mortgage rateMortgage rates couldn’t fall forever, it seems.

This week, for the first time since mid-June, the 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate climbed on a week-over-week basis, moving 6 basis points to 3.55%, on average, nationwide.

According to Freddie Mac, 3.55 percent is the highest average rate at which the benchmark product has been offered in close to 4 weeks.

The Freddie Mac published mortgage rate is available for prime borrowers willing to pay a full set of closing costs plus an accompanying 0.7 discount points.

Discount points are a one-time, upfront mortgage loan fee to be paid at closing where 1 discount point is equal to one percent of your loan size.  In this way, a Chantilly home buyer who pays one discount point at closing will be responsible for an additional $1,000 in closing costs per $100,000 borrowed.

However, although Freddie Mac says that the average mortgage rate is 3.55%, not everyone who applies for a conforming mortgage will get access to that rate.  This is because Freddie Mac’s published rates are the ones offered to “prime” borrowers, the definition of which often includes :

Borrowers not meeting the above criteria should expect slightly higher mortgage rates and/or discount points.  In some cases, such as when an applicant’s credit score is below 680, mortgage rates may be higher by as much as 0.500%.

Although mortgage rates are up this week, though, the impact on home affordability is muted.  Mortgage payments rose just $3 per month per $100,000 borrowed this week as compared to last week.  3.55% remains the third-lowest Freddie Mac rate of all-time.

Mortgage rates remain unpredictable and there’s no guarantee for low rates to last forever — much less through August.  If today’s mortgage rates meet your needs, therefore, consider locking something in.

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 Beat The Bacteria In Your Kitchen

Within Chantilly/Centreville homes, the kitchen is often the most “used” room in the house. It’s a meeting place for meals, for conversation, and for family.  Unfortunately, that makes it a meeting place for bacteria, as well.

Along with bathrooms, kitchens are the most bacteria-heavy rooms in a home.  Kitchens require a good, daily cleaning.  This 4-minute interview on NBC’s The Today Show shows you how to do it.

Using ordinary household cleansers and some elbow grease, you’ll learn :

  1. Why sponges should be out of your kitchen and why loofahs should be in
  2. How to catch and trap fruit flies that spread germs and disease
  3. How to clean and disinfect porous cutting boards

You’ll also get tips on removing stubborn stains from the bottom side of a frying pan.

The video is loaded with good advice and is worth a watch if only to learn a single sanitizing tip.

For example, did you know that you shouldn’t soak wooden bowls or boards in water because the water causes the wood to separate, leaving it “open” to kitchen-borne bacteria?  Or that, because of new soap-types, today’s dishwashers should be regularly disinfected?

Keep your kitchen free from bacteria is a constant battle but, using the tips from the video above, you’ll give yourself a fighting chance.

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 »

How To Clean A Water Aerator

How to clean an aeratorTypically found at the tip of indoor water faucets, water aerators split a single water stream into droplets, slowing the overall water flow and reducing the degree of “splashing”.

Homes in Chantilly/Centreville area with aerated faucets use up to 50% less water than homes without.  However, aerated faucets can lose their effectiveness over time if they’re not cleaned at least periodically.

This is because aerators can collect and trap particles including minerals deposits and grit, depending on the make-up of your home’s water supply.

The good news is that cleaning your faucet aerator is a do-it-yourself job that requires no technical plumbing skills, and takes less than 5 minutes to complete.

Here’s how to clean your home’s water aerators.

First, close or cover the drain of your sink.  This will prevent pieces or parts from getting lost.  Then, unscrew the aerator from the tip of your faucet.  You may be able to turn the aerator with your fingers.  If you cannot, and need to use pliers, wrap the faucet with a towel to prevent damage to the faucet from the pliers.

Also, don’t squeeze harder than necessary — you may bend the aerator casing.

Next, on a small towel, separate the parts of the aerator and lay them flat.

Then, using your finger, poke the mesh filter out from the aerator, being careful not to bend it.  Use tap water to rinse sediment from the filter or, in extreme build-up cases, place the filter in a small cup of vinegar, soak it for an hour, then clean it with a small brush.

At this point, your aerator is clean.  Replace the parts as you found them, and twist the water aerator back onto the faucet tip.  If you use pliers for this step, remember to protect your faucet’s finish with a towel.

There is no specific rule for how often an aerator should be cleaned.  In some areas, it’s twice yearly.  In other areas, it’s every 5 years.  If you’ve never cleaned your water aerators, though, make today your first time.

And when you are preparing your home for the possibility of selling here in the Northern Virginia area (or moving from elsewhere), please know that I am here to help!  You can contact me directly with any questions.

Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: No Comments »

How To Revive A “Brown Lawn”

Brown lawnsDuring summer months, a lush, green lawn can transform into a brown one within weeks.  And heat, while oftentimes a catalyst, is not always the culprit.

As a homeowner in Chantilly, you can take precautions to minimize the likelihood of a brown lawn.

First, let’s look at the reasons why a lawn may go brown, starting with drought stress.

Drought stress is a condition caused by excessive heat and/or lack of water.  Drought stress can lead to dormancy, a normal condition for grasses of all types.  A good test for drought stress is to step on one of the grass’ brown patches.  If your footstep remains as an imprint in the grass, it’s likely that your lawn is water-deprived.

Brown spots from drought stress appear randomly and without pattern.  This is different from brown spots that may occur because a sprinkler system is miscalibrated, or because some lawn sections are shaded whereas others are exposed to direct sunlight.

Lawns which have been dormant for long periods of time may need to be reseeded.

Drought stress also reduces your lawn’s natural defenses against pests and disease.  This includes plant-based pests such as weeds which can starve your grass of much-needed food and water, as well as insects such as lawn grubs and chinch bugs.

These two forces, as well, can lead to brownout.

Lastly, your grass may be dying.  Either from a lack of aeration; or, cutting grass blades too short to provide “natural shade”; or, over-watering among other reasons, your grass may not live forever and, when it dies, it’s likely to thin and turn brown.

The good news is that each of these conditions is non-permanent.  You may not have stopped your lawn from turning brown, but, generally, you can nurse it back to being green.

To water a brown lawn back to health, start with a steady watering schedule — typically 2 hours every few days (approximately 1 inch of water) — and be careful not to over-water.  Then, just wait.  It may take a lawn 3-4 weeks to return to its natural green color.

Then, to manage weeds, use an over-the-counter herbicide.  For larger weed problems, get treatment by a professional lawn care company.  The same is true for pests, too.  Tackle them yourself but using a lawn care company can be more efficient and effective.

And if you are getting your Northern Virginia lawn in good shape because you are preparing 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 »

Tips To Keep Your Home Cooler Without Turning Down The Thermostat

Energy-saving tips

The typical U.S. household “loses” up to 30% of its annual heating and cooling bill to energy inefficiencies, according to ENERGY STAR®.

The good news Chantilly homeowners is that there are dozens of ways to help your home perform better.

As the calendar turns to July, and as temperatures warm in DC and nationwide, implement even one of the following cost-saving moves and you can expect your home’s energy bill to drop.  Implement two or more, and you can expect your bill to drop by a lot.

Keep it simple at the start. When the sun shines through a window on a cloudless day, it can raise a room’s temperature by as much as 20 degrees.  Therefore, the first energy-saving move to review is the easiest one — simply close your home’s window blinds and shades to block out the sun.

With the shades drawn and the sun blocked, your rooms will stay cooler, and so will your home.  This is especially important during the mid-day hours when the sun is at its strongest so, before you leave for work, make sure you’ve closed your blinds.

The next step is to change your home’s air filter.

Air filters are meant to be changed quarterly, or monthly if your home has shedding pets.  When your air filter is clean, the HVAC unit won’t have to work as hard to push air through your home’s air ducts, saving up to another 7% off your annual energy costs.

Next, replace your home’s incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient ones.

This step can be costly up-front, but over the long-term, savings are big.  Not only do energy-efficient light bulbs such as CFLs and LEDs last for years, but they don’t pump heat back into a room like an incandescent bulb will.

Incandescent bulbs are shown to convert 97.5% of their energy into heat, meaning just 2.5% of their supplied energy is used for light.  This 97.5%  then warms up your house, which costs money to cool.

And, lastly, if your home has ceiling fans, use them.

When a ceiling fan is running, it can make a room feel up to 8 degrees cooler.  Just remember that ceiling fans cool you and not the room.  Be sure to turn them off when you leave the room.

And when you are preparing your home for the possibility of selling here in the Northern Virginia area (or moving from elsewhere), please know that I am here to help!  You can contact me directly with any questions.

If you are searching for a Chantilly area real estate agent, trying to make sure you make a great choice from the start, I invite you to visit our real estate Testimonial Video.  It is an honest presentation of what makes us different.

Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: No Comments »