Kathy O'Neal
Fairfax, VA 22033
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Chantilly Homeowners – Quick Tips To Get Your Summer Garden Blooming

Summer Gardening Tips For JuneSpring has sprung and today is the first official day of summer Chantilly homeowners.  If you are finally finding time to tend your garden, don’t feel guilty — just get dirty!

In one June weekend, you can have your yard looking colorful and smelling sweet.  All it takes is a shovel, a design idea and a knowledgeable trip to a greenhouse.

Whether a rose is your favorite or you know nothing about flowers, you can make you yard beautiful without being a professional landscaper.  Below are several types of flowers that will have your garden looking gorgeous this summer and you blushing from all your neighbors’ compliments.

Snowdrift Rose – The perfumed petals of this vigorous plant will provide a pleasant scent to your outdoors.  Also, the stems are nice and long for cutting and creating indoor arrangements.

Black-Eyed Susan – After these vivid yellow flowers have bloomed, cut them back in order to ensure a second round of blossoms.

Dwarf Sunflower – If you love the large varietal, but don’t have the room, consider this smaller cousin.

English Lavender – This dark blue and purple flower is a tough plant that does well in even the hottest of climates.

Hydrangea – To take up more space, these little shrubs produce beautiful white clusters of flowers that fade to shades of pink and green.

Marigold – These traditional crimson blooms grow low and spread quickly, which makes them the perfect plant for a flowerbed border.

Petunia – The newer varieties of these full-sun flowers are low maintenance because they self-clean.  The old blooms drop off without you needing to prune.

Summersweet – If you have a shady spot, this pink or white plant with its gold colored leaves will have the space feeling vibrant.

Zinnia – These long-lasting yellow, red and orange flowers will bloom well into fall.

A rose can be red, violets are blue — but you don’t have to feel that way about your garden.

Take one weekend this month to tame your flowerbeds, introduce a few budding plants and enjoy their fragrant scents for the rest of the summer.

Please remember we at  The Kathy O’Neal Team are here to help if you are considering putting your home on the market.  Call us anytime!

Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: No Comments »

Home Builder Confidence Jumps By Widest Margin Since 2002

Home Builder Confidence Jumps By Widest Margin Since 2002U.S. housing markets are gaining as demand for homes exceeds available supplies in many areas.  The National Association of Home Builders/ Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) for June increased by eight points over May’s reading to achieve a positive reading of 52.  This last happened in August-September of 2002, when HMI monthly readings also jumped by eight points.

Any reading over 50 indicates that more builders consider housing market conditions positive than negative.  June’s reading was the first time the HMI reading surpassed a reading of 50 since April 2006.

Limited Inventory Drives Sales Of New Homes

Rick Judson, NAHB Chairman, cited short supplies of existing homes as a factor driving sales of new homes.  As demand for homes grows and inventories of available existing homes fall, buyers are increasingly buying new homes.

Sales of existing homes continue to be impacted by factors such as homes worth less than the mortgages held against them and sellers taking a “wait and see” attitude toward listing their homes for sale.

All three of the components of June’s national HMI gained:

Regional Home Builder Confidence Grows In 3 Of 4 Regions

The 3-month rolling average readings for regional home builder confidence showed increases in three of four regions:

High demand and a shortage lots available for building new homes contributed to the West’s slight decrease in builder confidence.  Overall, increasing home builder confidence is a sign of economic recovery, but as the economy gains momentum and home prices continue rising, mortgage rates can be expected to rise as well.

Housing Starts Up 28% Annually In May

The U.S. Department of Commerce reported Wednesday that national housing starts rose by 6.80 percent from April’s revised reading.  May’s reading of 914,000 housing starts was reported on a seasonally adjusted annual basis. May’s reading was 28.80 percent higher than for May 2012.

Single-family housing starts (one to four units) fell short of investor expectations of 953,000 but exceeded April’s revised reading of 856,000.

Multi-family housing starts surpassed single-family housing starts, but any additions to low inventories of single-family homes could ease the difference between high demand and low inventories of available homes.  Meeting demand for homes would temper rising home prices, which could help potential buyers qualify for mortgage loans.

If you are considering putting your Chantilly home on the market please let us know how we can help!  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.

Written by Kathy ONeal | Discussion: No Comments »

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 »