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Lee Ann Ruby
REALTOR®, Associate Broker
Serving Metro Richmond
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Date Archives: December 2019

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December
30

Real Estate Terms: Pre-qualification vs. Pre-approval

Real Estate Terms

Our REALTORS® know getting a mortgage on the best terms is something all buyers think about. That's especially true of first-time buyers! When you're exploring the best Richmond homes for sale, sound financing means peace of mind.

Luckily, the mortgage process is a lot easier than it seems at first!

The more you know, the simpler it is to get a mortgage loan you can be happy with. We'd like to address one of the most common questions about home financing our team gets: The difference between pre-qualifying for a loan versus receiving pre-approval.

Pre-Qualification and Pre-Approval: What's the Difference?

When it comes to getting a great home loan, starting sooner makes life easier.

Prequalification and preapproval are steps you take to smooth the path to your final loan package. You can think of one of them as the trial run, while the other is the "real deal."

Pre-qualifying can happen in a matter of minutes the first time you talk to your lender. You discuss your finances and get a ballpark estimate for what loan amount you can expect. It's not necessary to document your income, and you're not committing.

Pre-qualification is often the first or second step someone takes before starting a house hunt since it indicates what homes and neighborhoods to focus on. It's a good idea to check with several different lenders and take an average of their estimates.

Pre-approval, on the other hand, represents a conditional commitment by your lender. During the pre-approval process, you submit detailed documentation of your income. The lender takes extra steps to verify your financial health, including a detailed credit check.

Once you "pass" pre-approval, your loan package is effectively ready. You can bid on a home at or below your conditional loan approval amount. However, you need to act quickly. Specific loan amounts and rates are usually only locked in for 30-90 days.

A loan commitment is a final step. It's issued only when the lender approves both the funding amount and the property. This takes longer because lenders want to make sure the home is insurable, usually by awaiting the results of a home inspection.

Why Do Both Pre-Qualification and Pre-Approval?

Technically, you can skip pre-qualification if you wish. It is not a requirement, but it will give you some beneficial advantages as you move through the buying process.

First and foremost, you'll never have to guess how much funding you may qualify for. That saves you time and effort you might otherwise waste on properties that won't fit your budget.

Plus, you have the chance to see whether a given lender seems right for you. How a lender responds to your questions and discusses your needs can provide you with plenty of insight.

Pre-approval is valuable, too. Although it's not the same as a loan commitment, it gives you a negotiating edge when working with sellers. They'll know you are ready to move forward right away. Only cash bidders can offer sellers a faster process.

Whether you're pre-approved, pre-qualified, or just getting started, Napier ERA is here for you.

Our experienced team members are experts in the Richmond area. We'll work with you to find properties fitting your needs and your budget. Contact us to find out more.

December
23

New Year's Eve in Richmond: Where to Celebrate

Richmond New Year

There is plenty to celebrate as the year comes to a close, especially in the Richmond area!  As the year winds down and 2020 is set to begin, the following venues are the perfect place to say farewell and adieu to the past and welcome in the new year.

  1. New Year's Eve Moonlight Masquerade - DoubleTree Hilton, 1021 Kroger Center Blvd, Richmond, VA 23235
    If you are looking for a fancy yet affordable way to ring in 2020, this event is for you! The DoubleTree Hilton knows how to do New Year's right. Their Moonlight Masquerade starts at 9 pm and goes until the wee hours of the morning. Early bird tickets are just $45 per couple. Dressed in semi-formal attire, you will spend the night enjoying fabulous music, delicious appetizers, and lots of fun and frivolity. Book a room before you go, and you can save yourself a trip home and treat yourself to a fabulous night you won't forget. 
  2. New Year's Eve Family Frolic - L. Ginter Botanical Gardens, 1800 Lakeside Ave, Richmond, VA 23228
    From 2 pm to 5 pm on December 31st, the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens is hosting their annual New Year's Eve Family Frolic. This year's party will feature live music, a parade, and a chance to check out the local botanical gardens. There's plenty of fun for the whole family, and you might make it an annual tradition to roll down the hill towards the Cochrane Rose Garden with your kids and neighbors in the community.
  3. Noon Year's Eve - Science Museum of Virginia - 2500 W Broad St, Richmond, VA 23220
    From 10 am to 1 pm, the Science Museum of Virginia is hosting its annual Noon Year's Eve party. It's the perfect place to catch a quirky ball drop and celebrate the end of the year with your kids who might not be able to stay awake until midnight. Entry to the party is included with your ticket to the museum. Admission is limited to only 2,500 guests, and no advance tickets are available. The event is growing in popularity, so if you want to be sure to get in, then be sure to get there early.    
  4. Glow All Out New Year's Eve 2020 - TopGolf - 2308 Westwood Ave, Richmond, Virginia 23230
    If you love getting out on the golf course, why not celebrate the New Year playing your favorite game! TopGolf's Richmond location is hosting a New Year's Eve event golfers will love. Packages include live entertainment, chef-inspired menu items, and unlimited TopGolf gameplay from 9 pm -1 am. Perfect your golf swing in 2020 when you start your year at this TopGolf event. 

Our REALTORS® wish you a happy and exciting 2020! If one of your goals for 2020 is to start looking at Richmond homes for sale, our team is here to help! As your year takes shape, we invite you to contact us to learn more about real estate in the area and to start the process of finding the perfect Richmond home for you and your family.  

December
16

13 Gift Ideas for First-Time Homebuyers

Homeowner Gift Ideas

For first-time buyers, furnishing a new home is equal parts fun and intimidating. Give a gift this holiday season that will help warm up a new home.

Get holiday gift inspiration from this baker's dozen list of holiday gifts for first-time homebuyers compiled by our REALTORS®.

  1. Throw Blankets and Pillows
    You can never have too many throw blankets and pillows. Create a new look in five minutes just by changing them out based on season, theme, or mood. Throw blankets and pillows also create a cozy, comfortable ambiance.

  2. Pizza Baking Stone
    A pizza baking stone lets first-time homebuyers maintain the regular pizza night schedule without denting the budget. Great for baking homemade bread as well.

  3. Meal Delivery Service
    When the pressures of work and home get to be too much, cooking is the last thing on your mind. Make it more comfortable with a gift card for Blue Apron, HelloFresh, or another convenient meal delivery service. For those stressful days, go with a gift card for a restaurant delivery service like DoorDash or Uber Eats.

  4. Instant Coffee Maker
    Today's K-cup coffee makers deliver a fresh cup of java instantly with no guesswork. Include a K-cup sampler of different brands and flavors so they can expand their coffee horizons.

  5. Basic Toolbox
    Being responsible for home maintenance can be a rude awakening for many first-time buyers. A toolbox filled with a hammer, pliers, screwdriver kit, tape measure, level, wrench, and other essentials eases the transition.

  6. Doormat
    Help the new homeowners welcome guests in style with an eye-catching doormat. Personalize it with names, sayings, or themes revolving around personal interests. 

  7. Amazon Prime Membership
    It's Amazon's world, and we're just living in it. A Prime membership includes free two-day delivery and automatic shipment options on an unbelievably wide range of products along with streaming video and music for at-home date nights.

  8. Snap-On USB Outlets
    Between phones, tablets, e-readers, and other high-tech devices, old-school electrical outlets aren't enough. Outlet cover plates with built-in USB ports take just minutes to install and provide power access for all your gadgets.

  9. Bartending Kit
    Entertaining is one of the joys of homeownership. Get the party started with a pro-style mixology set including a cocktail shaker, corkscrew, ice tongs, and mixing spoon. Many kits come in attractive cases and stands that look good even when they're not in use. 

  10. Linens
    Towels and sheets are another category of household items that are always needed. Before buying sheets, make sure you know the correct bed size.

  11. Personal Assistant
    With Amazon Echo or Google Assistant, a busy owner can check the weather, make a shopping list or turn on some music even in the middle of other tasks.

  12. Vases
    Vases are one of those items that are rarely thought about until they're needed. They come in an endless variety of colors and styles to fit any decor. Some vases even perform double duty, such as bookend vases.

  13. Subscription Boxes
    Traditional wine- and cheese-of-the-month services have exploded into subscription boxes tailored to any interest. Choose from makeup and skincare, vegan products, pet toys and accessories, wellness care, hot sauces, crafts, and even clothing and underwear. 

Any of these items would make wonderful accents for the beautiful Richmond homes for sale. Whether you're buying or selling, contact us to get started.

December
9

5 Benefits of Suburban Living

Richmond Suburb LivingAre you trying to decide between the gorgeous Richmond homes for sale right in the city or in one of Richmond's delightful suburbs? Although both are great, according to recent reports, many people including millennials are choosing homes in a suburban area. Our REALTORS® give five reasons why suburbs are gaining popularity and benefits you'll enjoy with suburban living.

  1. Lower Cost of Living
    This first reason plays a huge role in suburbs rise in popularity! Homes are often far less expensive in the suburbs, but that's not all. You'll also pay less for many other things like meals and entertainment. There's a good chance your property taxes will be lower too! A lower cost of living allows your budget to go further for your household and alleviates financial stress. 
  1. Less Crime
    Smaller towns often have less crime than you'll find in the big cities. If you're looking for a safe, quiet neighborhood where you'll feel comfortable taking walks in the evening or letting your kids play outside, a suburb might be right for you.
  1. Smaller Schools
    Suburbs often have smaller schools, which means smaller class sizes and more individualized attention for your children. Many of the schools located in the Richmond area are above-average and bring excellent academic opportunities to residents. 
  1. Less Traffic
    In many of the nearby Richmond suburbs, it's possible to drive clear across town in 15 minutes. While it's still a short commute to the city, when you live in the suburbs, you won't find yourself sitting in traffic for hours every day. Not only will this save you time, but you'll also spend less on gas and put less wear and tear on your vehicle. As a bonus, you'll also enjoy a slower pace, less stress, fewer crowds, and less pollution. 
  1. Close-Knit Community
    When you live in a suburb, you have more opportunities to get to know your neighbors. This allows you to build a support structure and enjoy opportunities to get involved with your local community. Small towns also often have unique festivals, events, and quirky traditions you won't find in the big city.

    Working and going to school in a small town gives you more opportunities to be a "big fish in a small pond." You'll likely find there's less competition for jobs, and it's easier to earn an upstanding reputation in your field. In some towns, this also translates into greater job security and new opportunities. 

Your Richmond Area Real Estate Pros

If you're ready to find your dream home in the Richmond suburbs, you're in the right place! Find a suburban home just west of Richmond when you check out our Midlothian homes for sale. Or look further north and at Glen Allen homes for sale.

Contact us today and will tell you more about the Richmond area and its many charming suburbs! 

December
5

Giving Back To Central Virginia

Realtor Mike Williford has collaborated with Phillip Coon of C&F Mortgage and Jessica and Jason of Grey Ridge Builders donating over 800 dental hygiene packs for Central Virginia kids!

During this time of year, people gather to give thanks for all the good in the world and Napier ERA agents & staff are working hard to create that goodness. This giving season, Napier ERA is giving to organizations that serve Central Virginia with donations of food, toys, hygiene products, and technology. We love our community and we're not afraid to show it!

Our offices have been busy with donations to fantastic charity – Toys for Tots! Every Napier ERA office is an official drop off zone and we are loving seeing the boxes get filled. Books, toys, bikes and more will be collected from our offices on December 13 – make sure you drop off your donations before the official collection date so we can get these goods in the hands of Virginia's kids. We also have quite a few agents contributing to the Chesterfield Christmas Mother project, building boxes of toys and goodies for children to enjoy during the holidays.

Our offices have also been collecting donations for Tech for Troops – an organization dedicated to giving veterans and their families the technology and skills they need for a modern world. We've collected dozens of tablets, phones, computers and other electronics to aid their mission and support veterans in our community. If you have donations, take them to your favorite Napier ERA office and we'll get them to Tech for Troops to support their mission of helping veterans.

And how could we forget our friends at Backpacks of Love? BPOL is a Powhatan organization whose mission is to serve children by assisting with health and hunger. Not only are our offices collecting peanut butter for their food donations, our Powhatan agent Mike Williford has teamed up with Phillip Coon of C&F Mortgage and Jessica and Jason of Grey Ridge Builders to donate over 800 dental hygiene packs for Central Virginia kids! These donations will go from Goochland to Chesterfield and beyond thanks to our good friends at Backpacks of Love.

It's our pleasure to have worked in this area for over 60 years and giving back is part of who we are. The Richmond Metro area is a wonderful place to live and we're happy to do our part to make it even better!

December
2

4 Painting Projects That Can Help You Sell

Painting to Sell Your Home

When you're selling a home, every detail matters. From the smallest closet wall to the largest exterior wall, you need to showcase your property as well as possible. Upgrading appliances, repairing fixtures, and renovating rooms can increase your home's value. But don't overlook completing painting projects that can transform your house into a buyer's dream. Our REALTORS® have identified these four simple painting projects that you can easily accomplish before you list your home.

  1. Consider Painting Exterior Features
    While you can certainly paint your full exterior, you can make the outside of your home look fresh and new without such a large project. Consider washing your exterior walls to let the color shine. Then apply a new, complementary color of paint to the front door, the railings of your porch banister, your window shutters, or other notable features.

  2. Repaint & Refinish Kitchen Cabinets
    You already know that the kitchen is one room in the home that draws plenty of attention from prospective buyers — make sure it looks as amazing as possible. Consider repainting and refinishing your cabinetry. Take it to the next level by choosing two-tones to give the space a dynamic presentation. It's best to choose a dark and light color combination, usually with the darker color on the bottom and the lighter on the upper cabinets. If you plan on painting the entire kitchen, be sure to plan to determine which color palette will look best when the project is complete.

  3. Use Accent Walls Strategically
    Just as adding a splash of color into the kitchen is a great idea, you can also pick a few rooms to add accent colored walls. We suggest focusing on major rooms like the master bedroom, the main living room, or a multipurpose space. Be sure to choose appropriate colors for the space as well. Choose a rich and darker color for the accent wall in the bedroom to create an inviting, warm atmosphere. Similarly, you should use a brighter color in the multipurpose room that may be used as an office or playroom. For rooms not sectioned off by doors, pick a rather neutral color that won't be too distracting or clash with the rest of the colors in the adjacent rooms.

  4. Be Simple in Some Spaces
    A fresh coat of paint can make a world of difference in nearly any room. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that you need to utilize the full rainbow of colors. One of the best tips we can give home sellers is to remember that neutral, basic colors are extremely effective in selling homes. White, off-white, light grey, and a light beige are preferred colors for many homebuyers. These neutral colors give them a blank space to envision how they'll want each room to look. It's also easier for them to paint over a white wall than to try and repaint a darker colored wall.

Simple painting projects can help you sell your property if you apply the right colors to the right spaces. When in doubt, remember that neutral is always the best option because potential home buyers may not love the same color scheme that you adore. For more help selling or buying Richmond homes for sale, feel free to contact us!

Disclaimer: All information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. All properties are subject to prior sale, change or withdrawal. Neither listing broker(s) or information provider(s) shall be responsible for any typographical errors, misinformation, misprints and shall be held totally harmless. Listing(s) information is provided for consumers personal, non-commercial use and may not be used for any purpose other than to identify prospective properties consumers may be interested in purchasing. Information on this site was last updated 12/01/2022. The listing information on this page last changed on 12/01/2022. The data relating to real estate for sale on this website comes in part from the Internet Data Exchange program of CAAR MLS (last updated Wed 11/30/2022 11:10:27 PM EST) or CVRMLS (last updated Thu 12/01/2022 12:57:42 AM EST) or Williamsburg MLS (last updated Wed 11/30/2022 10:54:30 PM EST) or NNAR MLS (last updated Wed 11/30/2022 10:26:40 PM EST) or Chesapeake Bay & Rivers (last updated Wed 11/30/2022 8:50:19 PM EST). Real estate listings held by brokerage firms other than Napier Realtors ERA may be marked with the Internet Data Exchange logo and detailed information about those properties will include the name of the listing broker(s) when required by the MLS. All rights reserved. --


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