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




Relocating to Northern Virginia: Making Your Move Much Easier (1)

Help in relocating to Northern Virginia is right here!  If you are making the move to Chantilly, Centreville, South Riding, the Leesburg area, or anywhere  in the Northern Virginia region, take a look at a few of the tools on The Kathy O’Neal Team’s website that will help make your move much easier.

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Real Estate Investing in Northern Virginia: Getting Started (1)

Buying your first or next real estate investment property requires just enough care to avoid mistakes while making smart decisions. To help you become more informed in that process, The Kathy O’Neal Team invites you to use our Investor Center tools.

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How to Sell Your Home and Buy the Next One (1)

Selling your Northern Virginia home while buying the next one does not have to be a major hassle. Do a few things well and the whole process gets easier. In this first of the series we focus on how to make a really good choice in what may be your most critical decision: selecting the right real estate agent.

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Reston VA Open House on November 10, 2013 at 1300 Windleaf Drive (#) – Reston VA – 1 PM to 4 PM

If you are considering a Reston condo, come visit our Open House today, November 10, 2013, from 1 PM to 4 PM at 1300 Windleaf Drive (#Q), Reston, VA 20194.

The condo is in absolutely beautiful condition and located in the ever popular North Reston area.

Get more details and take a Visual Tour here.  For more information please be in contact with us.

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Creative Ways To Recycle Everyday Household Items in Chantilly

Creative Ways To Recycle Everyday Household ItemsEvery week the trash truck comes to pick up our garbage and unwanted items, which are promptly taken to landfills.  Instead of filling landfills and just buying new items to stuff our homes, we can help the earth and recycle everyday household items.

Below are a few fun and creative ideas for recycling things around your Chantilly home that you might be ready to trash.

Coffee Table Into Bench

If you just purchased a new coffee table, don’t give away the old one — repurpose it.  Find a space in your home where you could use some additional seating, like at the end of your bed or in the entryway.

Push it up against the wall so that any drawers and shelves are facing out.  Then add some cushions and pillow.  Tada; a bench!

Copper Piping Into Bathroom Hardware

Whether you’re going for a modern industrial look or a French country theme, old copper piping can add an attractive and interesting conversation piece to your restroom.

Utilize a U-shaped piece of piping as a toilet paper holder and long pieces of pipe as towel racks.  Polish the copper and then seal it with spray lacquer so that it keeps its sheen.

Light Bulbs Into Decorations

Recycle filament light bulbs with a fun little craft project for your children.  Grab paint, twine, glitter and glue.  You can make flower pots and hang them in the yard as a simple green accent.  Use the twine to create loops for hanging.

Pillowcase Into Shopping Bag

Take an old or vintage pillowcase, lay it flat and cut the top corners off of the open end.  You’ll want to cut the corners off in a half-C shape so that that there is only about a two-inch strip left in the middle at the top.

Sew that two-inch strip together and you’ve got your handle.  This reusable shopping bag rolls up tight and is easy to wash.

Drawer Into Dog Bed

The size of your animal will dictate the size of drawer you should repurpose.  A cat might like a kitchen drawer while a bigger dog would use a large dresser drawer.  Strip the wood off the drawer and repaint. Remove the hardware.

Maybe stencil your pet’s name on the front of the drawer.  Then create a mattress using foam, batting and a soft and durable material.

Before getting rid of that broken side table or trashing those carry-out chopsticks, take a second look and tap into your creative side to see if you might be able to recycle and give them a second life in your Chantilly home.

And please remember The Kathy O’Neal Team when you are considering your next home purchase or deciding to put your home on the market.  We are here to serve your real estate needs!

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Chantilly Homebuyers – Beware Of Zombie Titles

Beware Of Zombie TitlesWith the economic downturn, anyone dealing in real estate quickly became familiar with previously little-known terms such as foreclosure and short sale. Now that the Chantilly housing market is picking back up and people are moving on, a new term is coming to light — zombie titles.

The Zombie Title

This is when a home has been vacated because the owners defaulted on their loan and their bank started the foreclosure process.  However, for some reason or another the bank never completed the foreclosure and sold the home.

So, when the city starts fining someone for the overgrown grass and dilapidated structure, the homeowner who thought they were finished with the property gets the bill.

A Home That Keeps Haunting

Homeowners think they don’t own the property any longer and therefore try to move on by rebuilding their credit score and finding a new place to live.  It can be a rude awakening to find out that not only do they still own a home they could have been living in, but also its long vacancy has caused it to fall into disrepair.

Its Spooking The Neighborhood

These vacant homes can decrease the value of a neighborhood.  If the bank or the un-suspecting homeowner are neither one taking care of the property, then it can become overgrown and an eyesore on the block.  It becomes a problem with no solution because the owner won’t want to invest any money in fixing up the property when the bank could come back with the foreclosure at any time.

Nail Shut The Foreclosure Coffin

Homeowners who have foreclosed on a home should double check that their bank actually followed through to closing on a sale.  They could contact their lender or check public property records just to make sure.  Otherwise, they could be haunted by their housing nightmare all over again.

Don’t let the zombie title of a past property haunt your future!  Check with your bank to make sure you’re free and clear of your foreclosure.

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

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3 Easy Tips To Protect Your Chantilly Deck This Winter

3 Easy Tips To Protect Your Deck This WinterChantilly residents – barbecue season is all but over, and you won’t be spending as much time out on the deck.  Don’t let it get you down, though.  Spring will be here before you know it.  There are a lot of things that can wear down and damage your deck, so protect your deck and make sure it stays in tip top shape over the winter.

Cover The Furniture

You want your deck to look as good in the spring as it does now.  The first step is to cover all the furniture (don’t forget the grill!).  Cover everything with commercial furniture covers or just use a tarp.  Be sure that the covers fit snuggly.

They won’t do any good if they’re blowing through the neighbor’s yard.  If you’ve got the space, make room in the garage for the deck chairs and table.  They’ll last longer if you store them indoors for the winter.

Give It One More Good Cleaning

Dirt and dust can get trapped in the wood over the course of the summer, not to mention dog slobber or barbecue sauce.  If you let these things stain your deck all winter, it will be a pain in your neck to get them out in the spring.  Make sure to give your deck a thorough cleaning before it gets too cold.

You can use a pressure washer to spray away all the dirt.  However, be careful not to splinter your wood, as pressure washers are powerful.  Another option is to scrub the deck down with a brush.

There are several commercial cleaners to choose from, but don’t get one with bleach.  You don’t want your wood to fade.  If this sounds like too much work, consider hiring someone to give your deck a professional cleaning.

Moisture Is The Enemy

Rain, sleet, and snow will seep into the cracks of your deck all winter.  They can cause discolor, warping, and even cracking.  Now is the perfect time to use a waterproof finish to seal all the little cracks in your deck and keep out the moisture all winter.  There are a wide variety of finishes to choose from.  Choose a darker or lighter finish to give your deck a new look.

We’re leaving behind the days of barbecues and swimming pools, and replacing them with wool socks and fireplaces.  Over the winter you can’t give your deck as much attention, but you can make sure it stays healthy and strong until spring.  A good deep cleaning and a fresh new finish are your keys to avoiding cracking, warping, fading, and mold.  Put in the time now, and you’ll extend your deck’s life by years.

If you are considering a move please keep in mind The Kathy O’Neal Team.  We are here to serve home buyers and home sellers!

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City Lights Or Starlit Nights, What Northern Virginia Home Location Is Best?

City Lights Or Starlit Nights, What Home Location Will You Choose?If you are looking to buy a home in Northern Virginia, you might be wondering whether you should be looking for properties that are right in the center of the city or property in a rural area a short drive away.

The rural or urban decision will ultimately be up to you, as there are advantages and disadvantages to either option.   The main difference will lie in your priorities – what type of lifestyle is most important to you?

Living In The City

One of the main perks of buying a property that is located in the heart of the city is that you may be able to enjoy convenient public transportation and you won’t have to use a car to get everywhere.

You are likely to have a shopping center and a supermarket within walking distance of your home, as well as other important amenities such as a doctor’s office, a pharmacy, a post office and more.

Also, if you enjoy attending concerts, visiting art galleries or enjoying other artistic events, you will find many more of these concentrated in the city center. You will also enjoy more options when it comes to shopping.

Of course, living in the city center means that property prices are usually a lot higher and you will likely end up with a lot less space for your money.  Your kids might not have as much room to run around (unless you find a home near an urban park or a playground).  Also, the hectic pace of the city, with all the traffic and high rise buildings, can be stressful for some.

Living Outside Of The City

When you buy a home just a few miles outside of the city, you will find yourself experiencing a completely different lifestyle.  You will be a lot closer to nature, with plenty of walking trails and wild areas right outside your door.  The air will likely be cleaner and you will be able to see the stars better at night time.

Many people feel safer letting their children play outside in the countryside and the cost of housing is usually lower than in the high density downtown core.  Some people also prefer the peace and quiet and would much rather go for a walk in the woods or have a campfire than attend a cultural event – so the country is the right place for them.

Of course, possible disadvantages of rural life is that it can be inconvenient and time consuming to drive into town to get supplies or to meet up with friends.  You must own a car in order to get around, as the public transportation system will not be as good as it is in the inner city.

These are just a few factors to consider when determining whether you would choose the city life or the country life.

Lastly, there are sometimes special home loan programs that focus on specific city areas or rural properties.  If you are considering buying a new home please let us know how we can help!  The Kathy O’Neal Team has an entire section devoted to buyer strategies on our website.

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How To Manage Those Fallen Leaves in Chantilly

How To Manage Those Fallen LeavesThe kids are back in school, the weather is getting cooler and your yard in Chantilly is covered in a layer of fallen leaves.  Yep, it’s that time of the year again, but don’t think of fall leaves as a chore.  They can be a useful resource for fertilizing your lawn or even decorating your home for autumn.

Finish The Raking

It’s tempting to just let the leaves lie in the yard. It’s good fertilizer anyway, right?  Wrong.  You should rake everything up as soon as the trees begin to look bare, or else risk the blanket of leaves smothering your lawn over the winter season.  Gather them up in plastic bags and put them to use.

Refuse To Rake Leaves

If you can’t bring yourself to pick up a rake, you do have an alternative.  Wait until the leaves are dry and crunchy and fire up the lawnmower once more before winter.  Many mowers have a mulch setting that will chop the fallen leaves to bits.

The smaller pieces won’t suffocate your lawn, and the crushed leaves make a good fertilizer.  If you’d rather use the leaf bits in the garden or a flowerbed, use a grass clipping catcher with your mower to gather up the pieces as you mow.

Use Mulch And Fertilizer

Fresh chopped leaves are a good homemade mulch.  Put a layer on the garden and the flower bed to replenish the soil over winter.  Also, be sure to put a thick layer around young trees and shrubs to keep them warm. If you really want to get the most out of your leaves, then take them to the compost pile.

Mix the leaves in with the regular green yard waste, and the leaves will boost the composting process into overdrive.  The fully composted material makes a potent fertilizer.

Get Crafty

Set some leaves aside to take indoors.  The changing colors of the fall leaves are part of the beauty of autumn.  Why not bring some of that beauty into the house?

Fill a vase with leaves for a seasonal centerpiece, or use a wire frame to make a wreath for the front door.  You can make leaf etchings with the kids or simply use one as a bookmark.

It’s sad to see so many fall leaves burned up in piles, or put out with the trash.  The leaves on the lawn aren’t just a mess to be cleaned up.  Inside or outdoors, autumn leaves are an easy, natural, and free material.  Be sure to put them to use!

If you are preparing your home to place on the market, we at The Kathy O’Neal Team are here for you!  Please contact us anytime so we can answers any questions you may have.

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Chantilly Home Buyers – Get The Lowdown On Private Mortgage Insurance

Get The Lowdown On Private Mortgage InsuranceChantilly home buyers – you may have heard the term Private Mortgage Insurance when looking to finance real estate.  What is PMI, and how do you know when you need to purchase it?

The answer can be hard to find among all the real estate jargon you’re hearing lately.  Below is the short version of what you need to know.

What Is Private Mortgage Insurance?

PMI is an extra insurance required by some lenders to offset their risk of you defaulting on your home loan.  When you put down less than 20 percent of the real estate’s value, your lender may tell you that you have to buy PMI.

It is usually added into your monthly mortgage payment until the equity in your real estate reaches 20 percent.

Under the current law, the PMI will be canceled automatically at 22 percent equity, if you are current on your payments.  If you aren’t current, the lender does not have to cancel the insurance because the loan is high-risk.

After getting caught up on your payments, the PMI will be cancelled.  Any money that you have overpaid must be refunded to you within 45 days.

What If Your Real Estate Increases In Value?

With a conventional loan, it may take as many as 15 years of a 30-year loan to pay down 20 percent.  But, if property values in your area rise, you might be able to cancel the PMI sooner.

Some lenders may be willing to consider the new value of your home to determine the equity in your home.  You may be responsible for any fees, like an appraisal, that occur.

You’ll have to weigh the costs of the appraisal against the savings of the PMI premium.  In most cases, you’ll find that the added expense is worth it.  Private mortgage insurance is a good thing if you can’t afford to pay 20 percent of the cost of your real estate as down payment.

Are you a first-time home buyer?  Now is the best time for you to make the investment.  Call The Kathy O’Neal Team to get the answers to your home buying questions!  We have an entire section on our website devoted to  buyer strategies that may prove helpful!

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