When You Need to Improve Accessibility in Your Home

Imagine trying to do the most basic tasks in your home with impaired mobility. Would you be able to navigate the hallways in a wheelchair? Reach the bathroom counter from a sitting position? Would you be able to reach the front door?

Whether you are recovering from a serious illness or accident, or simply choosing to remain in your own home into your golden years, the key is not only making your home safe but also making it easy for you to continue living independently.

Homes for sale in Berkeley, WV

How to Improve the Accessibility of Your Home

Level Entry – Improve safety by installing a wheelchair ramp or adapting the floor plan to use a side or rear entrance that requires no stairs to access.

Safety Railings – Install railings on both sides of the stairway, extending from the very top step to the bottom.

Improve Lighting – Always keep stairways and entrances well lit. Consider adding luminescent paint or tape to stairs to make the edges of steps easy to see.

Turning Space – Reconfigure furniture placement to leave sufficient space to turn a wheelchair around, and ensure hallways and doorways are wide enough to navigate.

Remove Slip Hazards – Replace loose throw rugs and mats with sturdier, no-slip versions.

Knee Space – Adapt bathroom and kitchen counters by removing cabinets to allow for use with a wheelchair. See this aging-in-place remodeling checklist for more ideas.

Improve Grips – Replace round knobs with lever handles, or add rubber bands or handle grips to doorknobs to make them easier to grasp.

Add Grab Bars – Install grab bars and safety rails to assist with sitting and standing.

Switch Control Systems – Replace light switches with rocker switches that can be used with the whole hand, and add touch or voice sensors to lamps.

Homes for sale in Berkeley, WV

Budgeting to Buy a House

No matter how good the credit rating, today’s homebuyer no longer has the luxury of buying with little or zero down. Unless you are low-income with good credit, or a veteran, no-down loans are also a thing of the past.

Saving up this money takes time and careful planning. The best way to start is by coming up with a budget that is realistic enough for you to stick with and by using other tips to help you get ahead financially.

(Homes for sale in Martinsburg, WV)

The Budget

The only thing more challenging than setting up the budget is sticking with it over the long run. First, you need to determine your total income from all sources. The second step is to list all the money that goes out every month, beginning with your fixed expenses. These include anything that has a fixed payment due every month, including:

Rent or mortgage (if you have a fixed rate).
Car payment.
Insurance.
Child support and alimony.
Installment loan payments.

Next, list your variable expenses. These may be a little more difficult to track, so you may want to document them over the course of a week or two on a chart. Common variable expenses include:

Utilities.
Telephone.
Cable or satellite TV.
Anything you purchase on a daily basis (morning coffee, etc.).

Make Changes

Once you’ve used the budget for a month or two you’ll be able to see where your money goes every week. This snapshot shows you where it’s being wasted and, thus, where to make cuts. Any items cut from the budget mean more money to set aside for your house. Some of these cutbacks might include bringing a lunch from home rather than hitting the café every day, riding your bike to work instead of driving or taking a cab, and using coupons to save money.

Make More Money

Cutting your budget expenditures and paying down debt aren’t the only ways to move more quickly down the road toward homeownership. Finding ways to bring in more money gives your plan a turbo boost. If you can take on overtime hours at work, do it. Consider holding a garage sale or selling unused items online. Sock away that extra cash for your down payment.

Savings

If you’re like a lot of us, you may be tempted to use the money you’re saving for something else that comes along. To avoid the temptation, put it in an online savings account that makes it difficult to withdraw. If you have to wait a few days for the money, you may think twice about withdrawing it.

As you build your savings, avoid the urge to add to your debt. There will be plenty of time after you buy the house to buy furniture, a car or whatever else you might be thinking of purchasing. Keep that house you want top-of-mind to motivate yourself to stay out of debt and continue saving.

(Homes for sale in Martinsburg, WV)

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Augusta Market Insider

Hey everyone! It’s that time of the month for another edition of Market Insider! This week I’m featuring the lovely town of Augusta, WV. If you happen to be buying or selling a home here, you might want to take a quick read at this!

Homes for sale in Augusta, WV

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The number of active listings in Augusta dropped by 9.8% from the previous month. The percent of unoccupied properties is 15.2% more than the national average.The median listing price for homes in this area is $199,900.

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Median household income in Augusta is $37,040 with 98 households earning between $35,000 to $40,000 annually.

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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.

40
Median Age
31%
Married
1,623
Number of Homes
619
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 Augusta, WV

If you’d like to read more statistics on the current housing market in Augusta, 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.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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.

Price
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.

Timing
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.

Condition
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!

Harpers Ferry’s Best: Canal House Cafe

Hey everyone! Hope your week’s going good so far! I’m back with my Best Restaurants series, and today I’m featuring Canal House Cafe in Harpers Ferry, WV–one of the most popular restaurants in town! If you’re from or live near Harpers Ferry, you may have heard of this place before, otherwise you should definitely check it out!

Homes for sale in Harpers Ferry

Canal House Cafe is a historic home-turned-restaurant, and it goes way back to the 1820s! The cafe prides itself in serving fresh, delicious comfort food in a friendly, casual atmosphere. If you are a vegetarian or allergic to gluten, they also have a flexible menu to cater to every customer’s needs. You can also bring your own drinks for a corkage fee of $5.

“Ate here two nights in a row while visiting and bicycling the area. Yes the menu is short but everything is fresh and well prepared. Enjoyed the homemade bread too. The food is reasonably priced. The menu is different every night because they use fresh and seasonal items. Your stomach is full when you leave, but it feels good!”

“We were delighted! The food was mouth watering, the hostess/waitress delightful, the setting charming and the chef talented. The chef, by the way, was wearing a Wegmans hat that he acquired while working at the flagship Wegmans 3 miles from our home in Rochester, NY. Wegmans is good, but your chef brought a huge amount of talent of his own to your cafe.”

Homes for sale in Harpers Ferry

If you’re curious, they have a copy of their menu on their website.

Canal House Cafe is located at 1226 W. Washington St. in Harpers Ferry, WV. For reservations, call 304-535-2880.

Enjoy the rest of the week, everyone!