Kathy O'Neal
Fairfax, VA 22033
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Why It’s Critically Important To Have A Home Inspection

Why It's Critically Important To Have A Home InspectionMany home buyers have found the perfect house, signed on the dotted line and may think they’ve watched enough home improvement shows to know if the home they’re getting is in good shape.  Unfortunately, some buyers make the mistake of skipping a home inspection in order to save a little cash.

Even if a home has already stolen your heart and you’re ready to pay for it as-is, you need to bite the bullet and hire a home inspector to let you know what repairs and financial repercussions await you.

Why You Should Hire A Home Inspector

You might know a thing or two about home remodeling and repairs.  However, most people are not experts on the inner workings of a home.  That is why it’s important to hire a professional to search for potential furnace issues, electrical wiring mishaps, plumbing weaknesses or roofing deterioration to name a few.

While a home might look like it’s in perfect condition on the surface, there could be major issues hiding beneath its facade.  That’s why it really is imperative for your safety that you hire an inspector to scrutinize the bones of your home.  Understanding any imperfections may also help you budget for immediate and future repairs.

When to Schedule the Home Inspection

Once you’ve signed a purchase contract, you’ll want to schedule a home inspection before the inspection period has ended.  Even though you’ve signed the offer, an inspector could just find something that you just cannot live with or afford to fix.

While you would normally schedule an inspection after you’ve signed a contract, it’s important to have an inspector or two picked out beforehand.  Ask your real estate professional or friends and family for referrals and then contact the inspectors for pricing and a list of what they will and will not cover at the inspection.

Once again, remember that the cheapest price may not be the best deal on home inspections.  Have a good understanding of what, and who, you are investing in.

Even if you do know a lot about the structure, plumbing and wiring of houses, don’t let your ego get the better of you.  It’s important to shell out the additional money to hire an inspector and cover your assets.  You’d hate to end up with a home that needs major renovations and not have known about it.

For more information on hiring a professional for your Chantilly home inspection or for a referral, please call today!  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 »

Four Important Home Maintenance Tips Every Chantilly Homeowner Should Know

Four Important Home Maintenance TipsOne of the important aspects of owning a home is having the knowledge of how to keep it maintained to avoid costly repairs and serious damage.  Over the years weather and use will wear down both the interior and exterior of your property.

If you are able to practice preventative care on your Chantilly home, then you will prolong the life of all of its systems and components.  At least every six months or so, you should be performing an inspection of your property so that you can ensure that it is still functioning properly and safely.

What should you be looking for when it comes to preventative home maintenance?

Here are a few important pointers to keep in mind:

Pests and Insects

Check your home thoroughly for any insects and unwanted pests such as carpenter ants and termites.  Make sure that there is no point where the wood of your home is in contact with the soil and trim away and bushes and trees away from the foundation of the property.

If you can catch the infestation right away, it could save you thousands of dollars on repairing future structural damage.

Windows and Doors

Take a close look at the windows and doors of your home to see if you need to repair any leaks to save energy.  A draughty door or window can really add to your energy bill over time, so it will be worth it to ensure that everything is sealed properly.

Gutters and Downspouts

Another important home maintenance task is to go around the exterior of your home and clean out all of the debris from your downspouts and gutters.  This will ensure that they are draining properly and moving water away from the house.  Otherwise, the water can collect on the eaves of the roof or around the foundation and cause leaks and damage.

Check the Roof

Make sure that you also inspect the roof at least every six months.  Look for any loose shingles or damaged roof tiles.  If you spot any damage early, it will be a lot less expensive to fix than the water damage that would be caused in your attic by leaving a leaky roof for a long time.

These are just a few of the most important preventative home maintenance tasks that every Chantilly property owner should know.

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 »

Chantilly Homeowners: Avoid These Common Mistakes When Pricing Your Home To Sell

Don't Make These Common Mistakes When Pricing Your Home For SaleChantilly Homeowners, it can be very difficult to determine what your property is worth in the current marketplace, because you are biased by what the property is worth to you.  These emotions can get in the way of impartially evaluating a property and often cause sellers to overprice their home.

When pricing your property, you need to be objective and reasonable so you can come up with a selling price that will capture the interest of buyers.

Here are a few examples of common mistakes people make when pricing their house for sale.

Reading Too Much Into Online Comparable Properties

Avoid relying too much on online pricing information of sold houses.  They can be a perfect place to start for getting a general idea of how much real estate is worth, but they are not always accurate.

Overestimating The Market

Don’t assume that you can sell your house for the same price at which you purchased it.  Unless you bought your house a few weeks ago, the real estate market may have changed — sometimes significantly — and the purchase price will not reflect the appropriate pricing for today.

Overpricing To Pad For Future Negotiation

Don’t overprice your Chantilly home in order to be able to negotiate to the price you want to settle on.  Of course, you want to get an appropriate value from it, but many first-time buyers are on tight budgets and will rule out higher-priced houses.  Your over-priced property may sit on the market longer and then the price will have to be reduced anyway.

Factoring In The Cost Of Your New Home

Don’t factor in the cost of your next house.  Your listing price should not reflect how much money you’d need to purchase your next property.  The price of the house should be the same whether you are wealthy or broke. Your financial situation is irrelevant to the potential buyer of the property.

These are just a few common mistakes you should avoid when determining the price of your home.  Listed at the right price, you will get a fair amount from the sale of the house and the buyer will be getting a reasonable price too.

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 »

Small Business Owner Ministry: Entrepreneur’s Journey 5 Starting Soon

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The next Journey cohort starts soon. Let us know if you would like to know more.

The Journey is a structured educational program that takes you through major topics that are critical for small business success.  The Journey is given without fee.

The Kathy O’Neal Team is a small business, so we know the challenges as well as the rewards of doing business based on integrity, excellence and a commitment to never-ending improvement.  Many of our readers are small business owners, so we wanted you to know that the next cohort of The Journey will be starting soon.  This is one of the ways we serve our local community.

Pre-registration is required and because the number of participants is limited, it is good to get information well before the program begins.   The next Journey program will start during the month of June (2013), exact date not yet announced.

To learn more start by visiting the Journey’s website.   If you have more questions or would like to be part of the Journey let us know and we will be back in touch.

Written by Fran ONeal | Discussion: No Comments »

How To Have the Best Garage Sale Ever At Your Chantilly Home

How To Have The Best Garage Sale EverIt’s getting close to that time of year again — time to have a garage sale at your Chantilly home!

Here are a few tips to help you have your most successful garage sale ever.

Advertise Your Sale In Local Newspapers And Online

Many of the habitual Saturday morning garage sale patrons around Chantilly/Centreville use the paper to plan their treasure hunts.

They do this to make sure they hit all of the sales in certain neighborhoods.

In the ad, mention your home address, date and time of your garage sale and any big or popular items you’ll be selling.

Open Your Sale Early

It’s best to open early, such as around seven in the morning a sales tend to taper off in the afternoon.

Don’t disappoint early shoppers who are typically your best buyers.

They have a busy schedule and a lot of stops to hit.

Open on time or even a few minutes before the time you advertised.

Make Plenty Of Signs To Guide Customers In

If your yard is difficult to see or is not on a main road, be sure to post signs pointing the way.

If allowed, attach a few balloons to it which will catch the attention of passing motorists.

Have Everything Labeled With Reasonable Prices

You’ll get some customers who try to haggle, but for most customers, not knowing the prices is a quick way to have them moving on to another sale.

Keep in mind that these shoppers are looking for a bargain and price accordingly.

You can individually label each item, or use an easily readable color-coded chart.

For instance, a blue sticker means 25 cents, red stickers mean 50 cents and yellow stickers mean $1.

Offer Specials At Different Points During The Garage Sale

You can offer a 2-for-1 sale or a twenty percent off special.

At the end of the day, you may want to have an unadvertised special such as fill a bag for $1 to get rid of as much as possible.

It’s always a good idea to have a “free box” for items that are already low-priced and don’t move during the first half of the sale.

Donate Leftovers

Make your life easier and do something for others by donating any items that don’t sell.

If you plan carefully, you can schedule a pick up by your local charitable organization at the end of your garage sale.

Garage sales are a great way to get the clutter and unused collection of items out of your house while recycling them at the same time.

Using these tips, you’re well on your way to having your best garage sale ever.

If you’re cleaning out  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 »

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 »