Winchester, VA Real Estate News

By Mike Cooper, Broker VA,WV, MD, Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro
(Cornerstone Business Group Inc)
I have no problem having a "hot" wife, but when that means the air conditioner is not working correctly it can be a problem. I just spent my Thursday servicing our heating / cooling system and there are a few things the average homeowner should know about his/her HVAC system. Every repair is not a replacement.  Most problems with your HVAC system are electrical, not refrigerant based. Periodically, refrigerant will seep out of your system, but that means you have a leak. Most problems are related to things like sequencers, switches, transformers, capacitors, etc. If you change your filters regularly, you will lengthen the life of your air handler. I would encourage you to avoid the Hepa filters that are designed to keep allergens down. They starve your air handler of the vital air it ne...
Comments 35
By Mike Cooper, Broker VA,WV, MD, Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro
(Cornerstone Business Group Inc)
If you've got young adult children with cars, you've got potential for car troubles. At least that's the case at the Cooper house. My younger son just replaced his battery. Problem solved. Yep, for a couple weeks. No sooner had he settled into the confidence that all was well when his starter started acting up. A week into that issue his car died again. The starter wouldn't start the car.  I did show him an old trick I learned many years ago. If you can tap the starter with a hammer or some kind of tool, it will jar it enough to start. That worked for about a week. Tonight, after my day at work, I crawled under his car, dropped the starter and replaced it. Bingo, he's mobile again. It was a short 40 minute repair, but a critical one. While I was changing the starter, I got to thinking, ...
Comments 6
By Mike Cooper, Broker VA,WV, MD, Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro
(Cornerstone Business Group Inc)
In a recent Forbes Magazine national survey, Winchester, VA ranked 53 in the best small city for doing business. The survey included 200 of the largest metropolitan areas and 184 smaller communities. There were numerous criteria in the survey that Forbes used in their review. Job growth was one of the factors. Winchester has seen a jump in job creation by 1.7%. The local unemployment rate is 5.2% with the median income at $50,712. Cost of living for both business and individuals, as well as income growth and education levels were also included in the survey. The Winchester cost of living is approximately 5% lower than the nation average. When it comes to education, 84% of residents have a high school diploma, 24% have gone to college and another 8.4% have graduate degrees. Winchester is...
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By Mike Cooper, Broker VA,WV, MD, Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro
(Cornerstone Business Group Inc)
I made it!  I received a note from the state of Virginia today informing me that my new real estate school has been approved. Beginning in October 2013, Cornerstone Real Estate School will hold its first class. I've had people coming out of the woodwork asking to be a part of the inagural class, and I couldn't be more excited. My goal with the school was to make learning about the real estate business fun. I wanted it to be more interactive than most schools. I wanted my students to be involved in the process. Best of all, I wanted my students to pass their exams with confidence and enthusiasm, and I know they will.  Keep us in your thoughts in October because I will be designing and writing the curriculim while on the run between then and now. I don't mind though. My life is lived on t...
Comments 12
By Mike Cooper, Broker VA,WV, MD, Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro
(Cornerstone Business Group Inc)
"The mind is its own place and in itself, can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven", John Milton.  Milton may have struck upon one of the greatest dichotomies of the human experience.  A man with great talent may become a great failure.  Or, a woman of unequaled beauty may spend a lifetime trying to be beautiful. Why? The disconnect with reality in the mind. One of the greatest battles we face in life is the battle that rages between our ears. All men are born equal, but not all men will have equal outcomes of life. There will always be those who will excel and accomplish things that amaze, but why do equally gifted and talented individuals never accomplish much of anything? There is an old Henry Ford quote that says, "If you believe you can, or you believe you can't, either way you'...
Comments 40
By Mike Cooper, Broker VA,WV, MD, Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro
(Cornerstone Business Group Inc)
Sellers, if you make your home hard to show, it may not sell.  Also, if it is required to speak to the listing agent, or agents, prior to showing it, it may not sell.  It is customary for a buyer's agent to contact the listing company in order to show an occupied property.  Everyone knows that, so it's not really a big deal. Where we get in trouble with occupied properties is when there are restricted hours and the listing agent, or agents, do not answer their phones, respond to emails or texts during those times.  Today is the third time in a week where agents were unresponsive when a showing was being requested during the restricted hours. The first one ended in my clients buying another home.  The second was taken off the list permanently.  This one will likely end the same way.  If ...
Comments 16
By Mike Cooper, Broker VA,WV, MD, Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro
(Cornerstone Business Group Inc)
It's graduation time, and students all over the United States will be walking the final leg of one of their greatest accomplishments.  But, it's really only the end of the beginning.  School, whether it is high school or college is really a time of incubation.  During that time, material, much like breakfast, lunch and dinner is fed to students.  They can choose to consume it, or they can skip a meal here and there, but regardless, the meals are on the table.  The amount of nutrition derived from those meals will be determined by the nutritional content of the offerings.  Not all food is worthy to be consumed.  Our national obesity challenge is evidence that there is a lot of low quality nutrition out there.  Those who recognize that and choose to seek out more nutritious food groups fe...
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By Mike Cooper, Broker VA,WV, MD, Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro
(Cornerstone Business Group Inc)
  Life is full of those moments where you go, "Wow!"  Some things just seem to defy comprehension, reason, logic and in some cases common sense, and yet they happen and we marvel and they open our minds to new possibilities.   For instance, A large metal ship on the high seas. The flight of a bumble bee. A teenage boy in the presence of his dream girl. Complete silence. Men on the moon. Moving a house from one side of town to the other. An organ transplant. A man with an unimpeachable integrity. A hummingbird in flight. The sky from the deck of a ship. A double triathlete. Real friends. A man with vision. What's on your list of things that cause you to marvel?  I love to be surprised and amazed.  Every time something makes me go "Wow" I get inspired that there are new heights that men/...
Comments 13
By Mike Cooper, Broker VA,WV, MD, Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro
(Cornerstone Business Group Inc)
Home sellers, choose your real estate agent wisely.  It may make the difference between a sale, or a listing.  I've noticed a pattern in the Winchester, VA real estate market.  For some reason, numerous Winchester, VA home sellers are listing their properties with out of the area agents.  What is the value of that choice?  Here's what I can tell you is the effect of listing with out of the area agents. Out of the area agents don't know the local market.  Without a thorough understanding of the local market, an out of the area agent is likely to attempt to sell your property at a price that will attract little if any buyers. Out of the area agents are very often difficult to make contact with.  In the past three weeks, I've tried to sell two properties for out of the area agents.  One di...
Comments 21
By Mike Cooper, Broker VA,WV, MD, Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro
(Cornerstone Business Group Inc)
Most days in real estate are pretty similar.  There are the typical events that each deal goes through, and for the most part, it's pretty routine.  I did an open house Saturday, and then I had to race back to town to meet a new client.  The new client was a nice family of 5.  There was the mom and dad and two little boys and a very petite little girl.  While we were looking at the house the kids were deciding who would get which room.  They staked out their territory, and they carried their choices to mom and dad.  It was very much the norm.  When we were leaving the second floor, everyone has headed down the stairs except for the little girl and me.  I stepped onto the top step, and the little girl was following along behind.  Then I felt this little hand insert itself in mine and gra...
Comments 43
By Mike Cooper, Broker VA,WV, MD, Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro
(Cornerstone Business Group Inc)
Are short sales declining in the Winchester, VA real estate market?  I guess that depends on how you look at the market.  If you look at the current pending sales you would see 325 properties under contract.  Within that number are 85 short sales.  Short sales make up 26% of the current pending sales.  That may seem like a high number, but let's take a look at a few numbers from a different angle.   If you were to look at the current available listings you would see that there 491 overall properties available on the Winchester / Frederick County real estate market.  Within that number are 26 short sales.  Short sales only make up 6.5% of the total number of currently available properties.    There has been a steady drift away from distressed properties in the local market.  Can I see th...
Comments 5
By Mike Cooper, Broker VA,WV, MD, Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro
(Cornerstone Business Group Inc)
It's almost that time again.  What time do you ask?  It's almost time for the Habitat for Humanity Blues House festival again.  The Blues House is the largest Blues festival in the Northern Shenandoah Valley.  The annual festival is in its 14th year, and it has been a big hit every year.    This year, the Blues House festival will be held on July 13th from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm.  The festivities will take place at the Eagles Club, 700 Baker Lane, Winchester, VA 22601, Aerie 824 Outdoor Pavilion.  The Eagles Club is located on the east side of Winchester just off of route 7 (Berryville Ave).  It's easy to find, and there is plenty of parking for participants.    This year's line-up of artists include Pat Travers Band, The Ori Naftaly Band from Israel, The Skyla Burrel Blues Band, Skinny Ve...
Comments 2
By Mike Cooper, Broker VA,WV, MD, Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro
(Cornerstone Business Group Inc)
The Winchester, VA real estate market continues to improve as it crosses the first third of 2013.  The sales volume from January 1 through April 30 has been 406 closed properties.  The volume during the same period of 2012 was 389.  That's a 4% increase in closed properties for the first four months of 2013.  Four percent may not be earth shattering news, but it is a growing trend that seems to be gaining momentum.   The number of distressed sales during the first four months of 2013 was down to 29% of all sold properties.  Distressed properties made up 43.5% of sales in the first four months of 2012.  The change from year to year is a 33% decline.  That is more good news.  There are also less available distressed properties than at this same time in 2012.    One of biggest shifts in th...
Comments 11
By Mike Cooper, Broker VA,WV, MD, Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro
(Cornerstone Business Group Inc)
This is the photo I found when searching properties for a client.  I can't imagine what the agent who listed this property was thinking.  I know we all get busy, but when you have no photo there is no way I'm going to waste my time, energy or fuel to go see what I'm missing.  I just mark the property off my list and move on.     Sellers, I would encourage you to have your listing agent send you a copy of the MLS listing so you can see what everyone else is seeing.  If this "No photo available" is what you see, my next question is, "Why did you pick that agent?"  This particular listing has been on the market for 67 days.  No contract yet?  Is it any wonder? 
Comments 19
By Mike Cooper, Broker VA,WV, MD, Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro
(Cornerstone Business Group Inc)
The Winchester, Virginia real estate market is showing signs of good health.  The first quarter of 2013 has had a radical decline in foreclosures and short sales compared to the first quarter 2012.  In the 2012 first quarter, 276 properties closed.  Of those properties, 50 were short sales and 76 were foreclosures.  That means 45.7% of that 2012 first quarter was made up of distressed properties. The 2013 first quarter is painting a different picture.  Of the 271 properties that closed in the first quarter, only 82 were distressed properties.  That is only 30% of the overall properties were in that distressed category.  Short sales were down 52%, and foreclosures were down 24% in the first quarter. Another positive note is that of the current available listings of 465 only show 9% distr...
Comments 8
By Mike Cooper, Broker VA,WV, MD, Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro
(Cornerstone Business Group Inc)
"Why do I need a pre-approval letter to submit a contract?"  I hear that question with about 1 out of 3 new clients that I meet.  It's simple.  The seller wants to know if you can buy the house.  A pre-qualification letter may suffice for some sellers, but I'm running into more and more banks that won't accept a pre-qualification letter in place of a pre-approval letter. A pre-qualification letter is a letter based upon information given to a lender, but isn't necessarily verified.  For instance, I may have a client call a lender who will take his information over the phone and then formulate a dollar amount the buyer would qualify for if the information is verified.  It's a simple process. A pre-approval letter is going to include verification of income, debt, credit, available funds, ...
Comments 10
By Mike Cooper, Broker VA,WV, MD, Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro
(Cornerstone Business Group Inc)
"I want to buy a house, but I don't have a clue what I'm doing.  Can you help me?"  Absolutely.  I had a client say that to me this week.  Buying a house is a simple, yet complicated process.  If you're truly ready when you start looking at houses, it's simple.  If you're not, if can become complicated.  They type of house you buy can be simple or complicated.  A fair market purchase can be reasonably uncomplicated, but don't depend on that.  In contrast, short sales and foreclosures can be complicated, but here again, don't always expect that.  Let's start at the beginning.  There are a couple important steps that can get you prepared for a home purchase. How much home can you afford?  It doesn't matter what you see with your eyes if you can't materialize it with your wallet.  You shou...
Comments 7
By Mike Cooper, Broker VA,WV, MD, Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro
(Cornerstone Business Group Inc)
One of the things I immediately see when I show a house is the electrical system.  I instinctively look at the wiring early in a walk-through because poor wiring can signal other things are not right with a home.  On a recent electrical project my contacting company did, we found some of the most amazing, and dangerous, wiring I've seen in 40+ years in the field. The former homeowner had done a lot of his own wiring.  That alone is a great reason to have a home inspection.  When someone tells me he has done a lot of the wiring, I get nervous.  Once in a great while, it's awesome, but that really is the exception and not the norm.  This particular project had splices on top of splices.  It took longer to untangle the various connections than it did to re-wire the entire series of circuit...
Comments 6
By Mike Cooper, Broker VA,WV, MD, Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro
(Cornerstone Business Group Inc)
What are the benefits of buying a Winchester, Virginia short sale?  Short sales do have their challenges, but with the right agent, a short sale can provide a great opportunity for any buyer.  Some of the benefits and challenges of buying a short sale are: Short sales tend to be in better condition.  Typically, the owners are still in the home.  Just because they find themselves in a distressed situation doesn't mean they will start ignoring the needs of their property. Short sales tend to be priced at or below foreclosures.  I recently closed a short sale that sold at 47% of the homeowners mortgage.  That is a substantial discount for a new buyer. Short sales tend to take longer to be approved and closed than fair market or foreclosure properties.  If time is of the essence, a short sa...
Comments 6
By Mike Cooper, Broker VA,WV, MD, Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro
(Cornerstone Business Group Inc)
  In my recent survey of available local properties, I discovered some alarming statistics.  It wasn't high or low prices.  It wasn't the number of foreclosures or short sales on the market.  It was the "Days on the Market" of some local listings.  One property has been on the market for 1926 days.  I've had gold fish that didn't live that long.    The top seven longest listed properties were a thousand days plus.  They are shouting out to the listing agents and the sellers, "Houston, we have a problem!"  There is definitely something wrong when a house sits that long.  There are simple reasons that are easier to correct, such as:   It's overpriced!  Duh!  Even the high school homecoming queen will be sitting at home on prom night if she's too expensive to date.  Price is something that...
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