Buying a home is typically the largest financial transaction most people make in their lifetime. The last thing you want to do is make a mistake, one which could cost you time and money – often a lot of money. These are some of the most common, and worst, mistakes you can make when buying a home.
If you are ready for a fun (and different) night out, venture by Uber, Lyft or Pulse to Scott’s Addition – likely the hottest neighborhood in the Richmond area! Not familiar? The area is just north of Broad Street– specifically defined by Interstates 95 and 64 to the North, Broad Street to the South, the Boulevard to the East and Westwood Avenue to the West.
The Scott's Addition Association describes their neighborhood this way: "Once a bustling industrial area, Scott’s Addition is now the City of Richmond’s fastest growing neighborhood, adding over 3,500 residents in the past seven years alone. Perhaps now best known for its impressive collection of over 13 breweries, cideries, meaderies, and distilleries, Scott’s Addition is also a booming entertainment district featuring delicious local restaurants, a growing number of shops, a rooftop bar, a boutique bowling alley, cinema, shuffleboard bar, and more–it’s truly the spot to live, work, and play!"
While we certainly don’t claim to have tried every establishment in the area – there are a few office favorites we’d like to highlight – so get some friends together and check out these spots over the next few weekends – we know you won’t be disappointed! – If you are interested in breweries or restaurants – check back next week for info on those!
For straight up fun, try the Circuit Arcade Bar– known simply as The Circuit - which is touted as Richmond’s first modern arcade. https://www.thecircuitarcadebar.com Want to get your “PacMan” on? This is your spot – they have over 80 retro and modern arcade games, skeeball, and the largest collection of pinball games on the East Coast! Not only do they have games, but they also have a state of the art tap system featuring 50 selections of beer, wine and cider. The food kiosk is unlike anything you have seen, and gives tons of choice between games. Just to note, the Circuit allows children - accompanied by an adult at least 25 years old - before 9:00 p.m. But this is a straight-up bar – and people are drinking so use your discretion and we’d suggest leaving the little ones at home.
Prefer shuffleboard to skeeball? Try Tang and Biscuit – “RVA’s shuffleboard social venue.” http://www.tangandbiscuit.com A mix of shuffleboard and bar – Tang and Biscuit boasts 10 regulation sized floor shuffleboard courts, giant Jenga, ping-pong, cornhole and more! Need a beverage – check out the 50 foot bar serving Tang inspired drinks and beer! Again – opening at 11 am, the courts are available to all ages, but as the night rolls in be aware you are heading to a bar and maybe find a sitter for the night!
Ready to Roll? Check in at River City Roll - Richmond’s boutique bowling alley! https://www.rivercityroll.com Before you go – call or go online to see if it’s “League Night” which can spoil the party – but normally it’s not too hard to get one of the 20 lanes. This isn’t your Dad’s bowling alley – they have a great upscale kitchen and a hopping cocktail scene. And who wouldn’t want to hang out in the leather sofas and have a drink? River City Roll is more adult oriented with no one under 21 after 5!
Let us know which were your favorites - and check in next week for ideas on a brewery or cider tour of Scott's Addition!
Ever log onto social media on Sunday afternoon to catch up and realize that you have missed a huge event in RVA? Wish that you could remember to put these festivals on your calendar so you could experience more of what RVA is becoming famous for across the nation? We’ve listed our top four upcoming events – feel free to add to it and share! We picked up some information visitrichmondva.com – where they link you right to the events - so you won’t just be looking at all your friends pictures on Insta!
Richmond Jazz Fest – August 9 – 12
JAZZ AT THE GARDENS
Experience the roots of American culture at the Richmond Jazz Festival. This festival is a world-class jazz event worth traveling for. The Richmond Jazz Festival is renowned for its dynamic, lively atmosphere, appetizing cuisine and phenomenal lineup with some of the best in jazz, funk and blues, and it attracts over 10,000 fans each year. In addition to the main festival at Maymont, the Hippodrome Theater, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and Hardywood Park Craft Brewery showcase the genre’s best local and national talent. Don’t miss one of the best jazz festivals on the east coast every August in the Richmond Region.
OFFICE FAVORITE! THE WATERMELON FESTIVAL! AUGUST 12!
Sweet smells of coconut-scented sunscreen and deep-fried elephant ears will soon waft across the stages and past the crowds that come annually to experience the Watermelon Festival. The streets will be filled with people seemingly enchanted by the music, fanfare and sweet aromas.Big bands, jugglers, and folk acts will entertain from 5 outdoor stages - presented by Capital One. This year’s Carytown Watermelon Festival - presented by Publix Super Markets - is an experience no one should forgo; this is the jubilant peak of summer in Richmond. last year, 118,000 people made their way to the celebration, buzzing like bees to the hive. The Shriners sliced through a record number of watermelons, feeding the swarms of visitors almost 3000 juicy melons.
Richmond Folk Festival October 12 – 14
FOLK, FOOD AND FUN
Celebrate the roots, richness and variety of American culture through music, dance, traditional crafts, storytelling and food. The Richmond Folk Festival has become one of Virginia's largest and most-loved annual events (and one of the best folk festivals in Virginia and beyond.) This year's festival will bring a new and amazing list of performers, artists and exhibitors to the Richmond region.
Enjoy the best in ethnic, regional and traditional foods between and during sets. From classic festival fare to exotic flavors from far-flung places around the globe, everyone is sure to find something to love. With so many options, you'll have a rough time deciding what to sample.
Capital Ale National Beer Expo – November 1 – 4
WORLD-CLASS CRAFT BEER, FOOD AND FUN IN RICHMOND VA
The Capital Ale House National Beer Expo is a six-day event celebrating artisan-made, American craft beer. Breweries from across the country gather in Richmond to showcase more than 200 of today's best craft beers. The Expo offers a collection of premium events that explore the astounding quality of American craft beer and how well beer pairs with a wide range of gourmet, farm-to-table, seasonal and ethnic cuisines.
Fire Flour and Fork – November 2 – 5
A GATHERING FOR THE FOOD CURIOUS
This isn’t a glass-out, plate-out festival, we are grounded in story. This is Fire, Flour & Fork in Richmond Virginia. Walk our cobbled streets and visit corner bakeries. Get behind the doors of 100-year-old purveyors. Learn the names of forgotten cooks who paved the way. Listen to kitchen secrets from Richmond chefs and their friends from around the country. Don't worry, you'll eat and drink well in our vibrant restaurants, but you'll also bring back stories to share from this unscripted potluck of events in downtown Richmond. This is the best food festival in Virginia, maybe the whole country. Visit their website for more information at https://fireflourandfork.com
Raised gardening beds with basil, tomatoes and lettuces were added to the backyard at 2125 Stuart Ave.
Photography by Eastman Creative
Perfectly-manicured lawns are lovely, but they require a substantial amount of upkeep and are costly to maintain. Instead, some homeowners adopt a non-traditional landscaping philosophy and create low-maintenance outdoor spaces year round that can have a big impact on property value. “My favorite place to work is in The Fan and in the City of Richmond” says Tommy Thompson, a professional landscaper from Natural Art Landscaping. Thompson, who’s been working with plants and landscaping since he was a kid helping out in his father’s nursery, loves the unique architecture of old Richmond homes and tries to capture that essence in his landscaping.
“It’s the fun part about those properties because they aren’t very big. It allows you to do more and not spend any more money. If you put $5,000 in a suburban yard, you don’t see it. You put $5,000 in a small yard, you notice right away. It’s high impact,” Thompson explains. While some homeowners may view limited space challenging, others seize the opportunity and find creative ways to express their style and reflect their lifestyle.
“It’s not so much about what plants you’re putting in the backyard, it’s more about how creatively you use the small space that you have,” says April Straus, one of Thompson’s clients and Principal Broker of Bobby + April, a concierge real estate company in Richmond. “Our front porch is where we live.” Straus, who has lived in the Museum District for more than 25 years, takes full advantage of her home’s front porch that’s rises above the sidewalk below. More than just the entryway to her home, the front porch is her destination after work and a welcoming place for neighbors and friends.
Above all else, designing your ideal outdoor space is about creating an environment that suits your lifestyle, whether that’s socializing on the weekends, dining outside or harvesting an urban vegetable garden on Saturday morning.
THOMPSON’S LANDSCAPING TIPS
Let your home take the lead
Be mindful of the architectural style of your house before making landscaping decisions. The design of your home tells you what you can, or can’t, put in its outdoor space. For example, if your home has a contemporary layout, an English garden with a gravel walkway, thick ivy and fragrant lavender wouldn’t be a natural match. Also, take the time to examine your outdoor space and determine how you want to enjoy it. Take into consideration your children, friends, pets and all the things you want to do in your yard. Is there space for the kids to play? Where can I fit my barbecue? Are the dogs going to destroy my flowers?
Lawn free is the way to be
“I try to talk everyone out of getting a lawn. Grass is the most expensive plant you’ll ever put in your yard,” says Thompson. “It sits there, three inches tall, and is green. Until this time of year when it turns brown. What’s the point?” When working with clients, Thompson advises them to embrace a minimal maintenance approach when it comes to landscaping. The goal is to feel that you’re actually in the garden, and not seated on the garden. For some clients, this means a grass-free yard. Not only will this maximize your time and money, but it allows you to feel like you’re part of your surroundings. The best way to accomplish this is to greatly reduce the size of your lawn space and install raised planting beds complete with a mix of native Virginia flowers, plants, shrubs and trees. This approach is ideal for homeowners with busy schedules or who travel frequently and don’t want to spend hours landscaping when they get home.
Container gardens are a great way to plant upwards and help make any space look bigger, especially when dealing with urban landscapes. Thompson suggests getting creative when starting a container garden and to consider using galvanized steel stock tanks or trash cans for flowers, trees and vegetables. Not only is the galvanized material trendy, but the tubs and cans come in all different sizes and fit any spot. “If you really want to get fancy you can spray paint them any color you want, but I really like that galvanized look,” says Thompson.
"Take nontraditional items and turn them into unexpected containers for your garden," suggests Thompson.
Nothing is off limits when it comes to converting everyday objects into the perfect planter. For a recent project, Thompson took large corrugated plastic culvert pipes (the kind that are designed to go under driveways), cut them into varying heights and stacked them upright in a bundle. He suggests that after filling with soil, plant flowers, herbs or any other colorful foliage that will hang over the sides to create a beautiful cascading array of colors. The tubes are then transformed into not only a planter, but a creative piece of art. For a more modern industrial option, try using metal chimney flu pipes to get the same effect.
Be one with nature
If you were toying with the idea of installing an outdoor room, Thompson says not to waste your money. “It’s gotten cliché now – you see them all over. People put them in, use them for a year and then that’s it,” he says. Thompson says that right now homeowners are interested in “conservation landscaping complete with rain gardens, rain barrels and native plants.” This environmentally-friendly approach minimizes the amount of water and chemicals, like fertilizers and pesticides, which are used in your yard. And whenever possible, choose plants that are indigenous to this area while keeping in mind plant color, bloom, movement, texture and height in your landscape design.
“You’d be surprised when you get some trees and shrubs that are native, you can actually make them look like they are exotic,” says Thompson when talking about how to group plants together to create a distinct look and feel. He explains that you can create a relaxing Mediterranean look by using plants that thrive in Virginia’s climate like the hardy banana tree and the dwarf magnolia tree that, conveniently, doesn’t shed year round and produces large white blooms. Thompson also suggests incorporating shrubs like the northern bayberry to give your landscaping an added blue-green color, caryopteris with its silver-green leaf and purple flowers and variegated yucca for interesting texture and color. To complete the look try planting low-maintenance and native ornamental grasses like purple love grass or little bluestem. Both sway in the breeze with a light wind.
Obviously nothing tastes better than freshly picked fruits, herbs and vegetables that came straight from your yard, but it’s also a great way to meet new people. “Our front yard is done is edibles. We have strawberries, blueberries, peaches and all sorts of herbs,” says Straus, who has made her home in the Museum District for many years. “We have a bus stop in our front yard. People get off the bus and pick some strawberries and go on their way. We have a group of guys who come by every year who like to pull mint for their Kentucky Derby party. Our front yard gets a lot of traffic because people like to stop and take things out of it, which is fine with me.”
Community gardening has become increasingly popular in Richmond by not only allowing urbanites the chance to eat fresh fruits and vegetables grown pesticide free, but the opportunity to reduce their carbon footprint. “The best part is that you don’t need a lot of land to make it happen,” says Thompson. Planting greenery outside can help keep your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter by creating natural shade and insulation for your home.
Many local garden supply stores sell apple, peach and nectarine fruit trees that all flourish in central Virginia’s climate and help add a vertical element to your outdoor space. Dwarf varieties have been specifically developed to plant in containers for patios, decks and balconies and are perfect for small yards that won’t take up valuable space. They grow roughly 8-10 feet tall by 1 foot wide and are very manageable to maintain with minor pruning. The best part is that despite their small size, the trees produce full-sized fruit.
Art is everywhere
“Anything can be garden sculpture or art,” says Thompson. “It all depends on what you want it to be, you’d be surprised with what you can do.” This past spring, Thompson planted tulips in old work boots and playfully arranged them on the steps of Straus’ front porch. The flowering boots were a huge hit with her neighbors, and a creative and frugal way to repurpose an everyday item. “In my backyard right now there’s a box spring from a mattress that’s painted purple and has vines growing on them. It’s just beautiful,” says Straus.
Homebuyers shape Richmond's historic neighborhoods with renovations that pay tribute to the past
Imagine the heavy sound of hammers hitting their marks at bustling construction sites throughout Richmond during the early 20th century. Building materials were transported across the town on dirt roads in every direction as the city was transforming into the urban capital we know today. As Richmonders expanded their residential options west and north of the City’s center, vacant lots gave way to single-family homes and apartments. From 1902 to 1918, the number of buildings in The Fan alone (west of Meadow Street and to The Boulevard) increased from 56 to 1,073, writes Drew St. J. Carneal in his book “Richmond’s Fan District.” Carneal’s book makes note of a Richmond Times-Dispatch article from 1906 that included details of the recent “building boom.”
“Here the houses have sprung up like magic, and the great dreary fields of yesterday have been converted into handsome city blocks, lined with well designed and, for the most part, well built residences. “Hundreds of new houses built during the year have added to the substantial appearance of the city, and the fact that the architectural designs have been well and artistically worked out is a source of gratification to all who take an interest in the improvement of civic conditions.”
Trained architects like William Bottomley, William C. Noland and Duncan Lee, and architecture firm Baskerville & Lambert, made a name for themselves in Richmond during this time, building homes with fashionable architectural elements and academic refinement, writes Carneal. Because of the narrow lot sizes available at the time, the façade of the house was the homeowner and architect’s primary opportunity to convey what was unique about each new home, the author explains.
The details and refinements of Richmond’s historic homes remain important today as unique selling points, but as many are renovated to meet contemporary needs, it can be challenging to stay true to the home’s architectural integrity. “The front façade has to remain the same,” says April Straus, Principal Broker of Bobby + April, a local real estate company that specializes in historic renovation. “And if you add a porch or anything to the front, it has to be historically accurate.” Straus says that renovations in some areas are controlled based on their historic designation or the neighborhood association. And on some streets, the approval consists of reviewing everything including the garage. Both the City of Richmond and neighborhood associations play a role in reviewing and approving renovations.
During a recent renovation at 3126 Grove Ave. in the Museum District, Bobby + April worked with the builder to find historic photos of the front porch in order to add it back to the front of the home. The home was built in 1921 and, at some point in the home’s history, the owners had removed the porch. But with the photos, Bobby + April were able to recreate the structure and retain the home’s history. Straus and her associates at Bobby + April try to maintain the historical accuracy of the homes they help to renovate inside and out by being loyal to the home’s original carpentry, doors, flooring and the fixtures. “Because we are neighbors as well as realtors, it’s important to us to maintain the integrity of the area -- not just house to house,” says Straus.
They usually turn to Siewers Lumber to recreate the original trim if the existing woodwork cannot be salvaged. In some cases, unique carpentry presents a challenge. Doors, columns and other wood features become damaged through normal wear and tear, and some are layered with lead-based paint.
“We come across doors fairly often we don’t feel like we can recreate,” says Straus. “So we will take it down, and they’re almost always full of lead paint. So they have to be dipped and stripped by someone who does that environmentally correctly. And then they are restructured, repainted and rehung.”
“A lot of people like this area because the homes are built unlike anything you find today,” says Tolson Musik, a realtor with Bobby + April. Musik tries to educate homebuyers about the differences between a historic home and one that’s built to meet their specifications, or is just simply been built in recent years. Contemporary residences boast first-floor master bedrooms, open-concept living spaces, multiple-car garages and sprawling kitchens. Musik reminds homebuyers that they’re looking at a “used house,” just like a used car. Someone owned it before and made it their own – the homebuyer’s job is to see past what’s there now and envision the space where they want to live. “It’s incredibly difficult to get people to visualize a renovation who don’t have that skill,” says Straus. “So, if a client wants to do a renovation, we spend a lot of time taking them through job sites. You can send me photos, but what helps me is for you to stand in a space and say, ‘This is a great size bedroom.’”
THE COOKS ARE IN THE KITCHEN
Original galley-style kitchens are commonplace throughout Richmond’s historic homes, but most homebuyers in today’s market are looking for a blended kitchen and living space. “The kitchen renovations – they’re almost all similar, no matter how much money people are spending,” says Straus. “A kitchen renovation is almost always to open a kitchen up into some other living space.” But opening up kitchens in historic homes presents challenges, especially in dwellings that were originally built as duplexes. With full bathrooms and kitchens on both floors, the biggest issue is usually how to restructure the layout so a homeowner doesn’t have to walk past a shower to get to their kitchen. That usually means moving that bathroom under the staircase or moving the bathroom to some other location downstairs, explains Straus.
HORSE, CART AND OFF-STREET PARKING
Richmond’s historic neighborhoods pre-date the automobile, which means the city wasn’t designed for off-street parking and multiple-car garages. For Straus, the perennial parking question has a simple answer. “If you can’t parallel park, you might want to do some practicing before you make the move to The Fan or Church Hill,” she laughs. Although clients inquire about off-street parking when they’re looking at homes in Richmond’s historic neighborhoods, their options can be limited. Straus explains that many lots do not have enough space to build a freestanding garage. If a homebuyer is lucky enough to find a home with an existing garage, they can keep it because the structure is grandfathered into the zoning regulations. But once the existing structure is torn down, it cannot necessarily be rebuilt, even if they find evidence of the structure in an old photo.
According to William Davidson, zoning administrator for the City of Richmond, most properties in The Fan and Museum District are zoned R-6, which allows for 55 percent of the lot to be covered. In areas west of I-195 (the downtown expressway) the zoning for some properties changes to R-5, which allows for 35 percent lot coverage. The coverage guidelines apply to enclosed spaces and do not include patios, decks or unenclosed porches. Details about each zoning district in the city can be found online, and the city encourages everyone to contact the department of Planning and Development Review before construction projects begin.
IT’S IN THE DETAILS
Reshaping the living space of a historic Richmond home is no small task. In addition to the financial investment and time it takes to complete a renovation project, the process requires vision to maintain the home’s integrity while modernizing the space. And sometimes, the home’s past remains part of its future. For example, at 2125 Stuart Ave. in The Fan, with Bobby + April's help, their client converted a six-apartment building built in 1912 into a 3,780 square foot single-family home with four bedrooms and three bathrooms, including an expansive master suite.Period carpentry such as the staircase in the foyer showcases the home’s original grandeur, and pocket doors still separate the large rooms. Although the home is no longer occupied by six tenants sharing the large space, the apartment numbers can still be seen when you open the pocket doors. Those details were maintained during the renovation of the space. Home to one family now, 2125 Stuart Ave. stands with modern amenities and keepsakes from its past.
Easy and affordable ways to get your house off the market!
PHOTO BY EASTMAN CREATIVE
Putting your home on the market can be a stressful experience. Your weekends are full getting ready for open houses, your schedule is packed with appointments with potential buyers (which require you to get out of the house), and yet you’re received no offers on your great place. You can’t help but wonder, “When is this house going to sell?” If you’ve asked this question, it may be time to consider staging your home.
“The reason you want to stage your house is that people don’t have any imagination, whatsoever,” says April Straus, Principal Broker at Bobby + April, a concierge real estate company that focuses on buying, selling and renovating historic homes in Richmond. “They never picture how they live in a space and unstaged, a house looks much smaller than it actually is, so they can’t picture how any furniture they own can fit in that space.”
Home staging is creating vignettes so home buyers aren’t walking into a space they can’t relate to.
Although there’s no such thing as a typical buyer, you do need to wonder what type of person is trying to buy your home and what their needs may be. Do they need space for their kids to play? Is there a separate room for a home office? Where will they entertain friends and family? What about storage?
First impressions are everything
You have one shot to make a good first impression on a potential homebuyer, and these days it starts online. In Richmond, 82 percent of homebuyers look at properties listed online before they decide to make a visit a home. “If your realtor shows up (to take photos of your home) with their iPhone, you’ve got some problems,” laughs Straus. “Look at a realtor’s listings online to see the photos they are choosing to represent their properties. If you aren’t comfortable with how those photos look, then you might want to use that as a way to exclude or include realtors in your search for the right person.”
It’s important for your realtor to know how to take professional photos or to work with a photographer who can optimize the appeal of your home. These online photos are the first step to get a home buyer through your front door.
Manage your curb appeal
Before you start working on the inside of your home, it’s important to work on the outside first. “The curb appeal of your house is what’s going to bring people in,” says Straus. There are the obvious steps -- trim overgrown bushes, clean up cobwebs lurking on your porch, replace rotting wood around your gutters and remove peeling paint on your front door. And with spring finally here, spruce up the outside of your home with a hanging flower basket or adding mulch around trees and bushes.
Consider power washing your siding, deck, sidewalk or driveway for a simple and affordable fix to instantly give your home a well-cared for and polished look. If you don’t own a power washer, many local home improvement stores allow you to rent one for a minimal cost.
Homeowners should also consider ways to make their home pop out in front of the others listed for sale. “Your front door says so much about your house,” says Michael Maddix, a professional home stager in the Richmond area. “Your front door is like a guy wearing a tie -- you can have a splash of color without it being something negative.” Straus suggests painting your front door a bright color like a funky chartreuse, luxurious deep purple or cheery Tiffany blue to help set your house apart from your neighbors. If you are wondering the best option for you, be sure to take our online quiz to help you find the perfect shade. Just remember, don’t overdo it by painting it the same color as your trim or shutters.
Light it up
Most homebuyers drive around after work to look at home, meaning it’s going to be evening when they see your house from the street. So it’s time to amp up your lighting. Be sure to open shutters and curtains in the front of your home and keep interior lights on so homebuyers can easily see into your foyer, living or dining rooms while they are driving down the street.“You want your house to be visible, lit, warm and inviting,” says Maddix.
To save some money on lighting he suggests shopping for deals on trendy fixtures at local hardware stores and online retailers. Homeowners can find good lighting at a fraction of the cost when compared to places like Restoration Hardware and Rejuvenation. If you really want to boost your home’s dramatic flair, you can hire a professional to install outdoor lighting that highlights landscaping and architecture features, but for many sellers this may not make financial sense. “We have recommended it to two clients the whole time we have done this and it has made a difference, but for most houses the cost of doing that isn’t worth the trade off,” explains Straus, who has advised homebuyers in hundreds of successful transactions.
Fake a Kitchen Renovation
Some may say a messy kitchen is a sign of a good cook, but unfortunately when it comes to selling a home, that’s just one motto that won’t work. Your kitchen is integral to your household, so it’s no surprise that it can get messy quicker than any other room in your home. “To me, it’s all about taking things away,” says Maddix.
First things first, give your kitchen a deep clean; it’s the cheapest and easiest ways to really show off your space. That means wiping down your stainless steel appliances so no fingerprints are showing, steaming-clean floors, investing in a quality grout cleaner for tile and polishing your countertops until they shine.
If new kitchen cabinets just aren’t in the budget, you can consider re-facing your current ones and completing the look with new stainless steel hardware knobs. If you decide to paint the cabinets - which can be a great update - be sure to hire a professional if you are at all concerned about your ability to get the job done right. It can be more expensive than you think, typically about half to three-quarters of what it costs to put up new cabinets. But Straus warns that if you damage your cabinets, they are almost impossible to fix.
"Painting cabinets is a more in-depth job than most homeowners realize," Straus warns. You have to take the cabinets down, and then remove the trim and hardware – and getting them back up correctly is very challenging. “Then you’ll have to completely sand them to remove dirt, varnish and finish off every crease and most doors aren’t flat. You have to use oil paint -- if you use latex paint, the first time you go to scrub them it starts to bubble and peel off in big sheets.”
If your kitchen is plagued by white or black appliances, but you can’t justify buying a new refrigerator or dishwasher based on cosmetics, consider purchasing a faux peel and stick stainless steel film that can be applied directly to the surface of your appliance for an instant update without the price tag. They come in all different sizes and often cost less than $100. But be careful, warns Straus. “Once you start trying to hide things from people, it makes buyers worry about what else you’ve peeled and stuck on,” she says. "Instead of trying to hide it, try embracing a retro kitchen," suggests Maddix. "Right now that 50s-60s-70s look is coming back in a big way," he says.
Don’t forget what’s behind closed doors
Ample storage is on every homebuyer’s must-have list, and that’s often a rare commodity in older homes. You should expect homebuyers to open up your closets doors, refrigerator, microwave and attic space. Your home needs to give the illusion that you have more than enough storage space. “Selling your house isn’t like having a party, you can’t hide everything in the basement or the closets,” chuckles Maddix. “Everyone wants to see all the space.”
This can sometimes be difficult if you have pets or children, so try minimizing the strain placed on your family by limiting toys to the playroom or bedroom. If you have dogs, leave them in a space that can easily be mopped to clean up hair. He also recommends sellers get an early start packing up their home and, if possible, bring any non-essential items to an offsite storage facility.
Photo by Eastman Creative
There’s nothing like living in the city of Richmond. The historic homes are unique, and the iconic, tree-lined streets offer a visual array of architectural styles such as Victorian, Federal, Arts and Crafts, Italianate, Colonial, Art Deco and more. As you travel down the neighborhood streets, you see a diverse community and neighbors waving hello.
And you can’t help but imagine living here and being a part of it all.
Homes in The Fan, Museum District, Carytown, Church Hill and Northside are great options for anyone who’s interested in moving to the city and looking for a home renovation project, says April Straus, Principal Broker at Bobby + April, a boutique real estate agency in Richmond that specializes in historic homes.“It’s the walkability score,” says Straus. “It’s the size and historic coolness aspect to it. But for most people who are looking in those areas, it’s definitely a lifestyle thing. It’s restaurants, entertainment and the cool factor of it.”
Before you find a property you fall in love with, you need to make sure you have your realtor, contractor and loan officer on the same page, says Bobby Hicks, a local Class “A” Contractor. Not only will this help set realistic goals for what you can afford, but it will help speed the process along to purchase and renovate your new home.
Starting the home-buying process
Whether you’re interested in putting down roots, or starting a new chapter in your life, the first thing you need to do before looking for a home is to get organized and pre-qualified for a mortgage loan.“Sellers are obviously more inclined to accept offers from buyers with demonstrated financial ability,” says loan officer Justin Friedrichs with Citizens and Farmers Bank.
“Unless you plan to purchase a home with cash, you should get pre-qualified with a lender before shopping. By getting pre-qualified, it allows your offer contract to be accompanied by a letter from your lender demonstrating your ability to secure funding to purchase the home. If you are self-employed or own multiple businesses or properties, you may want to seek out a loan officer who has experience working with similar clients.
“If a realtor calls me on a Friday night and they want a letter to make a offer, because they are concerned about qualified competitive offers coming in over the weekend, they need someone that can qualify their client within a couple of hours,” explains Friedrichs. “There’s a lot of paperwork involved and calculations to be done, but it can make the difference between the buyer getting the house or not.”
Friedrichs, who’s been in the financial planning business for more than 20 years, says that when it comes to considering the costs associated with buying and owning a home, buyers should use discretion when balancing how much they qualify for when and what they will be comfortable paying on a monthly basis. He says as a general rule of thumb, when trying to determine what to spend on your mortgage payment, start by multiplying your monthly gross income by 45 percent; your monthly debts, including the mortgage, should be less than this number.
In addition, home purchasers need to determine what amount of money they are willing to part with for their upfront investment, including their down payment, closing costs and other items such as real estate taxes and homeowners’ insurance.
The amount that you plan to put down on a new home is an important conversation to have with your lender.
“If you put down less than 20 percent on a conventional loan, then the lender will require you to pay private mortgage insurance also referred to as PMI,” says Friedrichs. “It’s a nuisance and an expenditure that’s not tax deductible. It goes out the window and there’s no recapture.”
Friedrichs suggests that a better option for homebuyers is to purchase single premium mortgage insurance. Instead of making a monthly payment to cover the PMI, you make a one-time payment for the cost of the insurance.
If paying that lump sum upfront seems like a financial burden, then another solution could be to obtain a lender credit to help offset the upfront premium, in return for paying a slightly higher rate. Usually the resulting payment is lower than if you are taking on PMI and more of that payment is tax deductible. Friedrich says that if you typically live in your house longer than three to four years, then the upfront premium is actually lower than the sum of the monthly payment.
Purchase and renovation loans
The craftsmanship of older homes in Richmond can’t be beat – vaulted ceilings, arched doorways, ornate molding, glass doorknobs and detailed fireplaces are just a few of the characteristics that don’t come with most new homes. But despite the underlying beauty, sometimes these homes are in desperate need of a major renovation.
“The house that you want is the house that someone has been in for 45 years and hasn’t done any renovation,” says Straus, adding that those are the homes that are worth making awesome. “They’re not always easy to spot, but we know what we’re looking for.”
There are renovation mortgage programs available that allow potential homeowners to borrow based on what the home is expected to be worth after the renovation project is complete. These loans combine the purchase price and cost for the renovation into a single mortgage, which helps alleviate the need for cash up front for what could be a costly renovation.
When determining the renovation costs for a home, Hicks says it’s done on a case-by-case basis. Many homes he works on need new plumbing, updated electrical, central air installed, kitchen size increased and the addition of a master suite. Sometimes that means altering the internal structure of the home, and other times that means building an addition.
“There are certain neighborhoods that can handle certain improvements, but you can only do so much,” warns Friedrichs.
The best way to make money off a major home renovation is by adding square footage, especially in neighborhoods that already have a high dollar-per-square-footage cost. For example, if a house is priced at $150 per square foot and you add 500 square feet, you’re more likely to get a greater return on your investment by changing the footprint of the home, rather than just improving the inside with cosmetic updates.
Assessed property value
Market value per square foot
Renovation expense for adding 500 square feet
Post renovation added value (market value per square foot * additional square footage)
For properties that qualify, the Richmond tax abatement incentive program offers homeowners another option to consider that gives them more flexibility with their renovation project.
‘literally the coolest slippers
you can buy’ -
“Abatements are simple and very easy to comprehend,” says Straus.
Homeowners who utilize the city’s tax abatement program can receive a partial tax exemption based on the higher assessed value of their property for eight years, and then this exemption decreases by 25 percent consecutively in years nine and ten.
For instance, if you start off with a house that’s assessed for $200,000 and complete a renovation that increases the value to $600,000, your tax abatement would be $400,000. And next year when your house is hypothetically worth $700,000 you pay taxes on only $300,000.
Value after renovations
Rehab abatement (Initial value-Value after renovation)
Post abatement assessment base (Annual assessment–rehab abatement)
Taxes without abatement
Taxes with abatement
$300,000/100*1.20 = $3,600
Savings (taxes without abatement – taxes with abatement)
$8,400-$3,600 = $4,800
“It’s a huge, huge thing,” says Straus. “We’ve got clients who save nearly $5,000 a year on their taxes because of their abatements.”
There are many specifications, but generally speaking the property must be a minimum of 20 years old and the renovation must increase the value by at least 20 percent.
Hicks says that Bobby + April was able to put their last client into a bigger house because once the tax and personal property savings were factored in, they could get more house for nearly the same monthly payment.
Using federal and state historical tax credits can provide substantial incentives for homeowners who choose to preserve the original integrity of the home they’re renovating.
There are many regulations to follow when using historical tax credits, but often these programs can match the expense to the tax reductions dollar-for-dollar and are determined by your total renovation costs.
Taxpayers can be eligible for both state and federal credits, which are 25 percent and 20 percent, respectively, of qualified renovation costs.
In addition to a multi-step application process, only certain homes are qualified under these programs and there are stringent guidelines on what modifications you can make to the dwelling.
For homeowners who choose to pursue historic tax credits for their home, Straus strongly suggests hiring an accountant that specializes in these programs to track the renovation project and file the proper paperwork.
Homebuyers who want to make historic Richmond their home have options when it comes to purchasing and renovating a property. It’s easy to fall in love with Richmond’s historic neighborhoods -- the grand homes found throughout, locally-owned boutiques and bustling restaurants are all a part of the perks. It’s also within a lot of buyers’ reach to make a historic address their home.
PHOTO BY EASTMAN CREATIVE
You finally did it. After what seemed like endless showings and open houses, you made an offer and purchased your first home. No more landlords to deal with -- you can finally paint your family room that daring shade of blue you’ve always loved. And that clause in your lease that bans adding Fido to your family? It doesn’t apply anymore. You just can’t beat the flexibility of owning a home.
“To me, the best thing about being a first-time homeowner is that you suddenly have a place that is your own,” said April Straus, Principal Broker at Bobby + April, a concierge real estate company that focuses on buying, selling and renovating historic homes in Richmond. But after dragging your beloved college futon to the curb and purchasing that new couch you’ve had your eyes on for years, you may be left wondering “what do I need to know as I transition from a renter to a homeowner?”
Most notably, you are now solely responsible for maintenance, upkeep and repairs at your home. When things go wrong, you no longer have a landlord or maintenance company to rely on. “You need to have a fund to pay for things that are going to break … just assume something is going to. It’s just the way it works,” Straus said. “Whether the toilets are backed up or the water is running off the roof and is collecting at the foundation, it’s whatever wasn’t found during the inspection.”Straus suggests putting away roughly $2,000-$3,000 during your first year of homeownership to help pay for untimely repairs or simply to spruce up the place.
Although there isn’t an owner’s manual that comes along with your new home, these 10 do-it-yourself tips will prepare you to survive homeownership.
CHANGE YOUR LOCKS
Replacing the door locks, or having them rekeyed, should be at the top of your to-do list when you move into a new home. Your family’s security is a top priority. Chances are the previous owners still have copies of the keys as well as anyone else they gave a spare to, such as neighbors and contractors. You can expect to spend around $200-$300 changing the locks on your new home, depending on the number of locks that need updating. You can call a locksmith to get the job done, or consider the DIY route. Many home improvement stores sell new locks, or you can purchase rekeying kits that typically include multiple locks. You will, however, need to purchase a separate kit for each brand of lock found in your home.
PAINT ON A FRESH LOOK
A fresh coat of paint is one of the fastest and most affordable ways to transform a space and make it pop. If possible, paint before you move your furniture and belongings into your new home to avoid the hassle of protecting it from paint splatter. Once you decide on a color, you can always call a professional painter, but painting a room yourself is relatively easy as long as you dedicate some time to the project.
Purchasing a two-in-one paint product with primer included not only speeds up the project, but it also ensures proper wall coverage. If you need help deciding what colors to paint your new home, check out some great suggestions from Ben Dial, a Richmond interior designer.
Before you grab a paintbrush and get started, take some time to prep your walls. Fill in all holes by using spackle or wall patches if needed. Both can be found at any home improvement store. Once the spackle is completely dry, sand and smooth the area with a sanding sponge. Next, lightly wash your walls with a damp sponge to remove any dust or grime on the walls. Using painter’s tape, snugly cover any trim, windows or doorframes. This will help to create clean and sharply painted edges. Using a two-inch angled brush, paint roughly 3-5 inches around the trim, doors and corners of the wall. Once the perimeter of the surface is complete, you’re ready to roll on the rest of the paint. Pour paint into a roller tray and be sure to distribute the paint on the roller evenly by rolling it back and forth through the paint several times.
Start at one side of the wall and work your way up and down across the wall using one fluid “W” motion with the roller. Be sure to use as much of the paint on your roller as possible before applying more paint. If you’re also painting doors, try using aluminum foil around the outside of the knob, instead of painter’s tape, to help prevent stray brush marks from getting paint on the hardware.
And if you don’t finish the project in one session and you plan on continuing to paint the next day, you can skip cleaning the brush. Tightly wrap your brush or paint roller in plastic wrap or a plastic grocery store bag instead and stick it in the refrigerator to prevent the bristles from drying out.
You adored the tile work in the bathroom and kitchen before you purchased your new home, but upon closer examination you notice dirt and mildew starting to form on the grout. Fortunately, cleaning grout is relatively easy and affordable.
For mild stains, fill a spray bottle with a one-to-one ratio of warm water and vinegar. Spray onto the grout and let it stand for five to ten minutes. Then, scrub the grout with a stiff-bristled brush. If that doesn’t do the trick, form a paste with baking soda and warm water and apply it directly to the grout. Spray the vinegar mixture on top of the paste, and once it stops foaming, begin scrubbing again. For extreme cases, spray bleach directly on the grout, but be careful to not overuse. Harsh chemicals can damage the finish of the ceramic and eventually eat away at the grout. Be careful not to mix bleach with any ammonia or acid-based products while cleaning and always use these products in a well-ventilated area.
HANG PICTURES ON PLASTER WALLS
Plaster walls can crack when you tap them with a hammer and a nail. The best way to hang decorative items on plaster walls is to use picture molding, a feature that you’ll often see in many older homes in the City of Richmond, says Straus. Picture molding is a piece of molding found towards the top of the wall, underneath the crown molding. You can put hooks direct into the decorative piece of wood and then use wires to hang your pictures on the wall.
If you don’t have picture molding, or aren’t interesting in installing it in your new home, the best way to hang something on your new plaster walls is to put scotch tape on the wall and then gently tap your nail into the wall. The tape helps hold the plaster in place while you’re hammering.
REMOVE A STRIPPED SCREW
Gently hammer a screwdriver into the head of the lodged screw. Then, pushing down as hard you can, slowly turn the screw counterclockwise to remove it. If that doesn’t work, try using the same methodology, just utilizing a screwdriver with a larger head. You can also use a pair of pliers to clamp down over the head of the screw and help break it free. This works for rusty screws, too.
LABEL YOUR ELECTRICAL BOX
Many older homes don’t have properly-labeled breaker boxes. This is important not only from a safety standpoint, but it also makes shutting off appliances convenient without having to power down your entire home. It also helps to know which fuse or circuit is powering each appliance or area of your home if you ever need to get electrical work done, or if you blow a fuse or have to reset a tripped breaker.
After locating your electrical panel, which is typically found in the basement, garage or utility room, move each breaker from the on position to the off position. If your home still has fuses, look to see if any of the fuses have a melted piece of metal inside the glass window or are discolored. This means you have a broken fuse and needs to be replaced. Grab a friend, a pen, a blank sheet of paper and white labeling stickers. Draw a diagram of your electrical panel on the paper. While one of you starts at the top of the circuit breaker box turning off one breaker on at a time, the other one will identify which light or appliance was turned off in your home. Use the labeling stickers to document the information on the electrical box.
If at any time you feel uncomfortable or notice an odd smell, experience sparks or a loud buzzing noise, it could mean that your breaker is tripping and you should contact a professional electrician.
PUT OUT A GREASE FIRE
Don’t add water if you’re cooking and start a grease fire. Adding water will only cause the fire to spread.
The easiest way to extinguish the fire is to smother it with a pot lid or a cookie sheet. Be sure to turn off the burner to remove any heat. You can also dump baking soda on the fire. This requires a significant amount of baking soda, typically more than what you may have on hand, to put out the flames. Most importantly, don’t hesitate to call 911.
DOCUMENT YOUR BELONGINGS FOR INSURANCE
It’s important to document your belongings in case there is a disaster. This includes tools, dishes, jewelry, furniture, electronics, antiques, appliances and high-end clothing and accessories. Wherever possible, be sure to record the make and model number in case it needs to be replaced.
Walk through your house and snap photos of each room. For exceptionally pricey items like electronics, jewelry or antiques, take an individual photo of the item and keep a copy of the receipt so you can prove the value. Keep this information safe either by uploading it to your online data storage destination of choice, or by keeping the information in a safety deposit box. Keep in mind that each homeowner’s insurance plan is different, so become familiar with what yours covers. (Straus suggests that you get in touch with your insurance agent with questions.)
KNOW WHO TO CALL
If there is an emergency that endangers you or your property, call 911 immediately.
When your power goes out, contact Dominion Virginia Power at 1-866-DOM-HELP (1-866-366-4357). You can monitor repair status by using Dominion’s website.
If tree branches are growing or touching power lines, call Dominion Virginia Power for pruning or topping. If you prefer a more manicured appearance, call a professional arborist and consult their services.
Virginia law requires anyone performing any type of excavation to call 811 or 800-552-7001 before digging. This is a free service and is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For additional information check them out online at va811.com.
Many older homes found in the City of Richmond use natural gas for heating and cooking. If you suspect there is a gas leak in your home, call the Richmond Department of Public Utilities at 804-646-7000 immediately. Typically gas leaks smell like rotten eggs.
WHEN SHOULD YOU CALL A PRO?
When it comes to electrical, plumbing or roofing, it’s important to hire a trained, licensed and insured contractor. Straus recommends calling at least three contractors to get a quote, as well as getting three references from people how have used the contractors’ services before. Be sure to inquire about how much they are going to charge you to come by your house just to make an assessment. Yes, it may cost money to hire someone, but it could prevent a small problem from turning into a huge one. “People become electricians and are licensed and certified for a reason,” Straus said. “If something goes bad, it can go really, really bad. You can burn the house down, just to save $75.”
If you own an older home, your pipes could be fragile and narrow. If you can’t free up a blockage with a few attempts with a plunger, then it’s time to call a plumber. Applying too much pressure could burst the pipe, which could result in costly drywall repairs. Straus recommends having your home’s sewer lines inspected by a certified plumber before making a purchase because it can be very expensive to fix when a problem arises.
Contact a roofer if you notice your roof is missing shingles, leaking or sagging. Not only do issues with your roof contribute to damage to the structure of your home, but they can lead to mold and mildew growing behind hidden walls.
Purchasing a home isn’t the same as you’ve seen on TV
PHOTO CONTRIBUTED BY BOBBY + APRIL / EASTMAN CREATIVE
Turn on the television and you’re likely to find a reality home renovation show within the first few clicks of the remote control. For real estate enthusiasts, binge-watching shows like “Property Brothers,” “House Hunters,” “Fixer Upper” and “Million Dollar Listings” is a guilty pleasure. Viewers get a chance to explore exotic properties from around the world, and get exclusive access behind otherwise closed doors, all without having to leave the comfort of their couch. The real estate business as portrayed on reality television is often easy and exciting. But if you’ve ever purchased a home, you know that finding your dream property and making an offer isn’t as easy as a well-produced reality show would lead you to believe.
What TV doesn’t show you is that the reality of purchasing a home often takes time. Homebuyers will tour multiple properties before making an offer, and negotiations aren’t finalized after making a single phone call. In addition if you are thinking of doing some updating, home renovations take serious strategic planning and don’t always run smoothly. “On TV everything goes perfectly. The tile, cabinets and sub-contractors arrive on time, but they overdramatize the problems they find,” chuckled Class “A” Contractor Bobby Hicks, about how reality television can portray an unrealistic home-renovating process. “It seems like they always find some $50,000 problem. Rarely do we run into overages like that.”
The drama makes for good television, but wrapping up one of the biggest financial decisions in your life in 30 minutes, minus the time for commercial breaks, just isn’t realistic.
These eight tips will help you navigate the local real estate market, and leave the drama to the television networks.
IT TAKES TIME
“I always like to start the first day of house hunting by saying, ‘We are going to look at some stuff. We aren’t going to find your house today, but rather get an idea of what your house is going to look like,’ ” said realtor April Straus, the Principal Broker at Bobby + April, a concierge real estate company that focuses on buying, selling and helping with renovating historic homes in Richmond. “But, sometimes on that first day, you do find your house and you are just like, ‘Woo hoo!’ Then there are other clients who I looked at over 50 houses with over six months.”
Straus advises her clients to keep an open mind when touring a home because sometimes a house grabs you unexpectedly. She typically shows clients between 12-18 homes, not including possibly taking them through renovation job sites to show them various ideas, including how a home could be laid out. Straus wants potential clients who have the preconceived idea that they’re going to find their dream house after looking at only three homes to know that it just isn’t realistic. It really depends on what Richmond’s real estate inventory looks like on any particular day - and for the past few months it has been very tight,
Kendal Thompson, a realtor at Bobby + April, typically works with clients who are interested in purchasing a historic home in an iconic Richmond neighborhood. He says that he understands the frustrations his clients feel sometimes when they don’t find the right home straight out of the gate. He says that when realtors are frustrated, their clients are feeling the same way. “A lot of places in The Fan are like books,” Thompson said of the unique properties that homebuyers can find throughout one of Richmond’s most well-known neighborhoods. “The covers are all the same and when you open the front door you are like, ‘Wow!’ This is nothing like the one next door!”
BE FLEXIBLE AND REALISTIC
“I think that the biggest problem is that people are not flexible in what they think they want,” Straus said. “What you want, what you can afford and what’s available are not always going to be the same.” Homebuyers should spend time evaluating the features they’re willing to compromise, and determine which features are essential for their realtor’s must-have list. Not only does this keep everyone on the same page, but it also helps homebuyers evaluate the market and determine which homes are a potential match.
For instance, if a large backyard is on your must-have list, you may need to compromise on which neighborhood you want to live in. Or you may be willing to forego a fireplace but won’t budge when it comes to school district.
“It’s that HGTV syndrome. People see it and don’t understand that’s not how it really works,” Thompson said. “I have clients that come in and say, ‘I want an open floor plan, we want to be in this neighborhood, four bedrooms, top of the line appliances, but we can only spend this much.’ What they described is a house that in actuality costs significantly more than what they are willing to pay if they stay in that location.”
GET MORE HOUSE
“People come in with a hard and fast idea of where they want to be and what they want, but I think that’s a mistake that home buyers can make because it leads you to the wrong place everywhere else like the wrong financing or renovation strategy,” Straus said. Though most of her clients know they want to purchase a historic home, few realize the cost differential of purchasing a home that’s move-in ready compared to renovating it to become their dream home.“You can usually get more if you do it that way because the pricing is so much better to renovate it than buying it already done, but you have to be ready for the time and energy involved in a project,” explains Straus.
Straus said most of her clients who choose to renovate add an extra bathroom, update a kitchen, or add more square footage to the property. Dividing up a home renovation into stages is another option some homebuyers may consider. Thompson warns clients to be sure to lay the groundwork first for potential work in the future so that when you start the second phase, the proper foundation is in place. This is especially true with plumbing -- be aware of where you want to add new or additional washer and dryer hookups, or if you may want to add an additional bathroom.There are a variety of renovation mortgage programs available for homebuyers who want to borrow based on the home’s projected post-renovation value.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK
If you decide to buy something that needs work, be sure that before you start swinging a sledgehammer at your walls, you have considered all the issues.“When you buy a house with an as-is addendum (giving you limited options for repairs before closing), I think a lot of people are looking at the price, but they don’t look at the hidden things” Hicks cautioned. One of the first things he does when inspecting a property is head straight to the basement to check out how electricity is being serviced. “When there are fuses, it’s a disaster. It’s just not as safe as circuit breakers,” Hicks said. He estimates that is costs roughly $10,000-$20,000 to rewire a typical house that is an average size, and that price tag doesn’t include fixing damaged walls after the job is done. In addition to high costs, if the home has knob and tube wiring, homeowners may face obstacles securing a mortgage and homeowners insurance.
“Many realtors are looking at the price (of a home) and saying, ‘Oh my gosh! The hardwood floors are in great shape and it just needs a kitchen.’ But they aren’t looking at these old houses’ electrical and HVAC situation,” Hicks said. “Everyone is concerned with kitchens and bathrooms.” Homebuyers could spend $30,000-$40,000 to update these systems, and that’s not factoring in the condition of the roof. Though most homeowners don’t like spending money on the mechanicals or the structure, all of those updates need to be completed before work on the cosmetic updates to a home can begin.
MAKING IT YOUR OWN
“Buying an older home is like buying a used car. Someone else has been in this house and they have been using it in a way that you probably wouldn’t have wanted them to,” said Tolson Musick, a realtor with Bobby + April. “You have to be prepared that when you walk in, there will be things that need to be fixed.” Musick suggests setting aside roughly $3,000-$4,000 just for cleanup and small cosmetic restorations to make your new home truly your own. Some of the most common updates that can instantly polish a new space are applying a fresh coat of paint, refinishing wood floors and updating hardware.
“If you plan to have the floors redone, always do that before you move any furniture into the house,” Straus advised. “It saves a ton of money.”Straus also suggests that homeowners consider new toilet seats, shower heads and new locks when they move into a new home, as well as their landscaping needs. Do you need a lawn mower or rakes? How about a grill?
Homebuyers need to do their research and take stock of their plans before making an offer on any home.
“You need to see how a neighborhood is changing,” Straus explained. “Some neighborhoods are changing for the better, and then there are some neighborhoods that are changing for the worse.”
Straus explained that there are a lot of areas of town, such as in the far Southside and West End, that are declining in investment potential. That means that the house may not be worth more in the future than what homebuyers would pay today. She says that this typically happens in neighborhoods because new developments are built nearby with homes in the same price range. “Who wants used when you can buy brand new?” she asks. “You want some growth for your investment dollar on a home. … If you pay $200,000 for a house and it’s worth $185,000 in three years, that’s just a bad situation.”
If you’re a parent, or planning to become one in the future, research education options in the neighborhood and find out if the options align with the plan you have for your family. Are there enough bedrooms for everyone? Where do I want to send my kids to school? How do the neighborhood schools rate? When planning to stay in your home for many years to come, you may want to consider transportation options in the area that will allow you to age in place and maintain an active lifestyle without driving.And if you’re renovating a historic home, it’s also a good time to consider installing an elevator or constructing a first-floor master bedroom and full bath.
But don’t forget your current lifestyle. “Is the home close to the things you like to do?” Straus asked. “If you want to bike or kayak, is the home near enough to those activities? If you want to be able to walk to dinner, can you do it in your high heels or do you need sneakers?”
HERE TODAY, SOLD TOMORROW
“A house on Hanover Avenue went on the market two weeks ago and I had to beg to get in the first day,” Straus said. “My clients loved it. I said, ‘Quick, make an offer, because it’s going to be gone.’ They wanted to sleep on it overnight – the seller had eight offers in the morning.” If a house is priced well and is located on a well-known block, you need to jump if you’re interested. There are a few popular streets in the Museum District and The Fan that sell like hotcakes. Do your research, have your pre-approval letter ready and be ready to make an offer if you’re looking at a home on Hanover Avenue, Stuart Avenue, Kensington Avenue, Grove Avenue or parts of Floyd and Park avenues.
The realtors at Bobby + April say that the Richmond market is so hot right now that it’s not uncommon for houses to sell before they are officially listed by a realtor. Thompson explained that neighbors talk to each other, and if they know someone has an interested friend or buyer waiting on a specific block, there’s no point of even getting a for sale sign in the yard. “I mean, neighbors are waiting for it because they are ready to move just 50 feet to get in there,” Thompson said of some highly sought properties.