Monthly Archives: March 2013

Looking for a Real Fixer-Upper?

How about a church, silo, water tower, or pumping station?

We’ve seen an increasing trend recently of repurposed homes–buildings that began their lives as something other than residences. MSN Real Estate has a great slideshow of a few recent, unique homes that have made the transformation.

With stiff compeition from the cloister, water tower, hospital, chapel, church, pumping station, industrial silo, and barn, this repurposed water-treatment plant takes the top prize for most unique renovation:

water treatment

The British property started as a 1930s water-treatment plant, which fell into disrepair and was closed in 1942. It sat empty for years, until its new owners spotted it and undertook a dramatic renovation that set them back several million dollars.

It now boasts a rooftop pool and three-story dining room (and hit the market last year for just under $4,000,000).

Don’t be afraid to go bold with a unique building!

NASCAR Driver Lists Virginia Beach Condo

If you’re in the market for a property with pedigree, but can’t spring for a Home With History, take a peek at this listing: NASCAR driver Kurt Busch’s $2.8 million condo.

va beach

The driver, who bought the condo in Virginia Beach’s swanky, 508-foot Westin Virginia Beach Town Center Residences, has now listed it for its original purchase price of $2.8 million.

It’s also available for rent at $5,000 a month.

The tower is Virginia’s tallest, affording the home’s lucky new owner (or tenant) with breathtaking views. According to the listing, the new owner won’t lack creature comforts. As Zillow notes:

The 3-bedroom, 4-bath space is far from what race fans might expect from the rough-and-tumble Busch. Built in 2007, the 3,371-square-foot condo is full of modern finishes, including granite countertops, stainless steel appliances and a dark mosaic backsplash in the kitchen. Although darker woods and finishes fill much of the space, floor-to-ceiling windows provide plenty of natural light, and well-placed pendant lighting adds beauty and function.

Race on over to view the 18-shot photo listing.

Homes Prices Trend Upward

In another promising sign of stability in the housing market, home prices across the country rose in February, jumping almost 6% over last February. Median home prices have been making consistent gains for 16 straight months.

Average rents have also ticked up, while the number of foreclosures has continued to drop.

price increase

All these factors represent a healthy housing market returning to normalcy after a wild decade. Last month’s median home price across the country was $158,100. That marks a level not seen since the summer of 2004, as home prices were skyrocketing before cratering a few short years later.

Economists likewise expect about a 3% increase over the next year.

With the worst of the housing crash behind us, it’s a great time to start exploring selling or buying if you’ve been holding off due to market uncertainty and fear of falling prices.

Careful Buying Into “Bad” Neighbors

When looking for a house, we know all about “location, location, location.” But an undesirable “neighbor” could cause property values to plummet, even in the best locations. Via MSN Real Estate, here are seven of the biggest threats to property values:

power plant

Power Plants. Homes within two miles of a power plant see their values drop between 4% and 7%. That could mean up to $21,000 on a $300,000 house.

Landfills. No one wants a fresh garbage smell in their backyard. Settling in near a dump could cost you anywhere from 6% to 10%.

Sex Offenders. With online listing showing addresses of sex offenders, it’s no longer an option to keep the information secret. Living in very close proximity to registered sex offenders can reduce values by about 9%.

Delinquent Bill Payers. Neighbors not paying their homeowners’ or condo association fees can indicate a lack of interest in sustaining property values or the neigborhood’s general appeal.


Foreclosed Homes. Each additional foreclosure surrounding a home can decrease its property value by up to 1%. So if you have five neighbors on your street in foreclosure, count on taking a hit.

Bad Landscaping. Curb appeal plays a huge role in maintaining property values. Need proof? A report recently found that great landscaping can increase a home’s value by up to 11%.

Closed Schools. If a local school closes due to budget cuts or other factors, families are more likely to look elsewhere.

It may be impossible to avoid some of these “neighbors” if you already own your house, but they’re helpful to keep in mind when you’re buying!

The Scoop on Short Sales

The Zillow blog offers up a truly excellent article about the short-sale process and why it’s so complicated. The moral of the story, however, is simple: make sure your listing agent is versed in the short-sale process.

A short sale, as most folks know, happens when the house’s sale price doesn’t cover the outstanding loan balance. For example, if the seller owes the bank $300,000, but the highest offer they receive is only $250,000, there’s a $50,000 shortfall. The bank will have to approve the sale because it’s taking a loss.

short sale

Any number of things can drag out the short-sale process, but the biggest culprit is the bank’s review of all the sale’s (and seller’s) circumstances.

The bank has to look over all of the seller’s financial information, including income, assets, and credit. That takes time. Finding a listing agent who knows the process will ensure a smooth review by compiling and submitting all the right documents–the first time around. If something’s done wrong or the bank needs more information, that could set you back weeks or even months.

The negotiation process also eats up time. The bank may ask for the seller to put up some cash at closing, or it may ask the realtors to trim their commissions. When these last-minute negotiations don’t go as planned, it could scrap the entire deal.

Finally, multiple loans will cause headaches. If one bank holds the mortgage loan and a different bank holds a home-equity loan, both will have to approve the short sale. That doubles the process and adds another person who has to agree to any solution.

The one decision that’s totally up to you? Hiring a competent realtor experienced in short sales.

The Best Day to List Your Home Is…

We’ve already reviewed the best time of year to list your home (hint: there really isn’t one), but what about the best day of the week? Good thing someone’s done the research.

And the winner is…



That’s according to the Realtor’s Styled, Staged & SoldA Friday listing brings in the biggest weekend crowd and snags the highest eventual sales prices. Homes listed on Fridays end up selling for 99.1% of their asking price. Not only that, but homes listed on Fridays sell the quickest, averaging 81 days.

Tuesdays are second best. Tuesdays are big planning days and buyers are more likely to sift through listing for their upcoming weekend.

The worst day to list? Sunday.

Extra Cash Eliminates Mortgage


Ever dream of fully paying off your mortgage? Want to get there faster? Seem impossible?

Try this.

Each time you make your monthly payment, add in an extra $100. Make sure it gets applied to the loan’s principal and not to interest. The principal is the actual amount you borrowed. If you pay off the principal quicker, you will save a boatload on interest.

Consider this example from Houselogic:

If you take out a $200,000 30-year mortgage at an interest rate of 6%, and hold it to term, you’ll pay a total of $382,537.97 for your home, including interest of $182,537.97. However, if you send in just $100 each month in additional principal, you’ll save more than $49,000 in interest over the term of the loan.

There’s another huge perk: You’ll pay off the loan five years and five months ahead of schedule. This strategy puts you in total control of the restructuring process, and there are no fees involved.

While it definitely requires discipline, just think of it as an extra bill each month. And if you try and just can’t commit to an extra $100 a month, try $50. You’ll get the same result, just a little smaller. Do what you can now to avoid future interest payments–your future self will thank you!