Happy New Year!

A Happy New Year to everyone! How did you all spend the last day of 2013? It’s been a while since my last post but I hope that like myself, all of you have been able to rest and relax over the holidays and ready to face 2014 with new vigor!

Now I’ve been seeing a spike in activity on my website, and if you are some of the buyers that are looking to purchase a home by spring, surely you’ve encountered homes with ‘Foreclosure’ or ‘Short Sale’ tags while doing your home search. While you may have an idea about their difference, hopefully this article can shed a little more light and help you with deciding on your purchase.

Homes for sale in Martinsburg, WV

Short Sales vs. Foreclosures
They are known as “distressed properties,” when in reality they are properties that belong to distressed homeowners. Foreclosed properties and those being sold short are homes that the homeowner can no longer afford, for any number of reasons. If you have your heart set on purchasing from among an area’s distressed properties, you may have to look a bit harder for them than you would have last year. The number of foreclosures on the market dwindled 22 percent in the first quarter of 2013 compared to the first quarter of 2012. The number of U.S. short sales has fallen 10 percent and is expected to keep falling.

Think the listing price of that short sale is set in stone? Think again. The list price is a concoction of the homeowner and the real estate agent. The only price that matters is that which the lender sets, and that won’t happen until there’s an offer and the lender sends out an appraiser. Much of the time the real estate agent’s evaluation comes very close to appraised value, but there is no guarantee. The list price on a foreclosure, however, is set by the lender, so unless you are able to negotiate for a lower price, this is the price the lender expects to obtain.

We all heard the short sale nightmare stories during the depth of the recession – all those poor buyers who were stuck waiting sometimes as long as a year or more to find out if their offers were accepted by the bank. While today’s short sales are considerably more streamline, they still take longer to purchase than a foreclosure. There are a number of reasons for the difference in timing, but the biggest is that there are more people involved in the short sale than the foreclosure.

Many homeowners trash their short sales before moving out, but not quite as often as do foreclosed homeowners. With no recourse against the “big, bad bank,” they’ll rip out fixtures, carpets and destroy walls. Then, the bank sells them – both foreclosures and short sales – “as is.” When purchasing a short sale, at least you can meet the owners and possibly find out from them what type of, if any, work has been done with the house. With a foreclosure you don’t get that chance. Both options require extra due diligence, ordering inspections of any of the home’s major systems that you have even the slightest doubt about. Inspections are the only form of “insurance” you’ll have with these purchases. Sadly, not everything can be picked up during inspections. Work with your real estate agent to find qualified inspection professionals.

Your best source of information on buying distressed properties is your real estate agent. Nobody knows the local market as well.

Homes for sale in Martinsburg, WV

Hope that enlightened you somehow! Good luck with your home search this 2014!

Interior Design 101: Must-Haves and Standbys

A happy Friday to you guys! Welcome to Part 4 of my Interior Design 101 series! This week we’re discussing all the basic concepts and essential items you should consider including in your planning as you continue on your journey in creating a new look for your home.

Homes for sale in Martinsburg, WV


Paint It White
Remember, you can never ever go wrong with white. It is clean, simple, and minimal, and virtually every color or pattern in the universe will go along with it. White serves as the perfect backdrop for whichever design you choose to go for. Not only that, the color white gives the impression of space, giving your room a wider, bigger feel.


Wrap It Up
Whether it’s the living room, the bedroom (or literally any other room, really), adding cloth on pillows or surfaces will create a softer look and feel. Whether it’s bright or subtle colors, its mere presence provides comfort and coziness to its beholder. If you can splurge, go for cashmere or wool for a more luxurious feel.


Contain It
Despite what you might think, there are numerous ways to incorporate storage in a room without compromising your design. This simple basket on a shelf doesn’t stand out at all, but it gets the job done. Nobody wants a messy space nor a long trip to the storage room just to hide away all your clutter. Go for canvas bins or bushel baskets and get your problem solved!

Homes for sale in Martinsburg, WV

Learn anything new today? I hope you did! Not to worry, there’s still more where that came from! (Seriously? When will it be over?!) Stay tuned for the next posts in this series!

(Images and concept from BHG.com)

Have a good weekend, everyone!

Retirement Planning: Will Owning A Home Help You Retire?

There was a time when nobody had doubts about the value of owning a home. It was considered an incredible long-term investment and ideal for retirement. Today we know that real estate isn’t as safe as we once thought it was, at least as a short-term investment, and Americans, young and old, are leery of sinking their life savings into a home as an investment. Knowing this, will owning a home help you retire?

Homes for sale in Martinsburg, WV

Ideally, a home purchased to help you financially during retirement is one that will be paid off by the time you bring in the shingle. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen for many homeowners. Forbes.com claims that although almost half of Americans aged 50 to 70 say they plan on using their home’s equity to fund their retirement, 37 percent of them are not anywhere near having their mortgages paid off.
That’s OK, though, according to Sydney Lagier, former certified public accountant. “With interest rates so low right now,” she says, “a mortgage can be an excellent hedge against inflation.”

Lagier claims that inflation is expected to soar in the near future, eroding the worth of today’s dollar. While this hurts those with savings and investments, it does the opposite with debt.

“A mortgage enables you to lock in today’s home price, but pay for it with tomorrow’s inflated dollars,” Lagier claims.

Income Property
Many experts claim that the purchase of income property is a far better retirement investment than depending on being able to tap into your primary home’s equity. This investment property could even be your retirement home, rented out until you stop working.

The best time to buy this home is at least five to 10 years before you retire, according to Michele Lerner in an Associated Press article. She also cautions about the risks you take in losing liquidity when you tie up your money in a second home. Don’t disregard other risks, such as the maintenance costs for two homes. Appliance and major system failures can be costly to remedy, and if you lack liquidity, they could be catastrophic.

Rent or Buy?
Whether to purchase or rent a home is a common question when folks near retirement. Since rents are rising 5 to 6 percent a year on average, and interest rates are still incredibly low, it appears on the surface that buying is a better option. Dig a little deeper, and it is even more apparent. With a fixed-rate mortgage your monthly house payment won’t change over the life of the loan. Rent? At least once a year or whenever the lease is up for renewal, you’ll face a possible rent hike.

Homes for sale in Martinsburg, WV

Whether or not owning a home will help you retire depends on variables such as your current financial situation, your investment portfolio, and how many years you plan on working. A good financial planner is still your best source of information.

Interior Design 101: Make It Cozy

Happy Friday, everyone! Welcome to part 3 of a series of posts on an introduction to interior design! We last left off with tips on how to choose the right colors, and today we’ll continue on how to incorporate your own sense of self into your design by making it… cozy?

Homes for sale in Martinsburg, WV

Yes, you heard it right. Cozy is the word. What’s with all the fancy colors and furniture if you won’t feel comfortable with it? Comfort is an important aspect that you should incorporate whenever you are coming up with a new design for a room, especially if it will be in your own home. Remember, looks aren’t everything. That sofa might make a stunning centerpiece in your living room, but will it actually feel good sitting on it?

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This is where saving money comes in. Just because you’re redecorating doesn’t mean you have to replace everything. A part of comfort is surrounding yourself with things you’re familiar with, things you’ve spent time with. Reincorporate old pieces in a new design. An example can be in the form of recycling old pillows by simply changing their pillowcases. Same comfort, new look. And you don’t even have to spend a single dime!

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Another part of making a room comfortable is by treating yourself to small luxuries. That can be as simple as scented candles to some people, for example. Remember, it’s your room and you can do anything–and put anything you want in it! Not only will you feel good being pampered in the comfort of your own home, you get to share the experience with others, whether they may be family members or guests.

Homes for sale in Martinsburg, WV

Were you able to find any of these pointers helpful? Don’t worry, this isn’t the last of it! There’s more basic home decor tips for you next time, so stay tuned!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Gerrardstown Market Insider

Happy Tuesday, guys! It’s my first post for March and I gotta say, these last few months really have flown by in a breeze! It will be spring again in a few weeks’ time and I’m really looking forward to the warmer climate. Today I’m back with a Market Insider edition featuring Gerrardstown here in West Virginia. If you’re looking to move into this town or nearby areas, you might find this information useful!

Homes for sale in Gerrardstown



The median list price in March for single family homes in Gerrardstown is $169,500. The list prices increased by 1.19% from the previous month. The price per square foot for listings in this area is $32.



Median household income in Gerrardstown is $61,402 with 76 households earning between $35,000 to $40,000 annually. Income levels are listed along the left side of the chart, and the number of households are displayed along the bottom.



The Crime Risk Index compares the likelihood of different crimes happening within this community to the national average. The national average for each type of crime equals a score of 100. A score of 200 would represent twice the risk as the national average, and a score of 50 would represent half the risk.

Median Age
Number of Homes
Homes with Children

The above data was gathered from multiple sources and includes current listings, recent sales, and more. Whether you’re a buyer or seller, the knowledge you gain will help put you in control of your real estate transactions.

Homes for sale in Gerrardstown

If you’d like to read more statistics on the current housing market in Gerrardstown, visit my website here. You can find more information on it such as local schools, a list of establishments (categorized and searchable by map), and you can even compare areas/neighborhoods according to zip code. It can really provide you with a thorough insight so you have a better idea of the community you want to move into.

Enjoy the rest of the week, everyone!