Winchester, VA Real Estate News

By Mike Cooper, Broker VA,WV, MD, Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro
(Cornerstone Business Group Inc)
Do I really need a Realtor to buy a house?  The simple answer is, "No."  The smart answer is, "Yes."  Anyone can buy a house without a real estate agent, but there are advantages to having an agent represent you in a home purchase.  Last year, I sold a property for a wondeful family.  They had bought their home directly from the seller without representation.  When I did the preliminary CMA to determine value, I was surprised at what they paid for the home considering they bought it on the down side of the market collapse of 2008.  In my estimation, they paid $60,000 higher than the market was demanding at the time. When we listed their home, they received an offer that was quite a bit lower than the list price, and they ultimiately gave concessions that dropped their return approximate...
Comments 11
By Mike Cooper, Broker VA,WV, MD, Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro
(Cornerstone Business Group Inc)
Every new home build goes through a variety of phases.  A "soon to be" new homeowner may only be interested in the finished product, but there are steps along the way that should be documented by the homeowner. Since the early 90s, I've been doing what I've called forensic construction journaling.  What does that mean?  I keep explicit records of all phases of a building project through digital media.  In the 90s, I carried a huge VHS video recorder throughout the a project to record every inch of the construction.  Today, I may shoot a digital video of each phase, or I may simply shoot digital pictures of every part of the project.  Why would I do that? It give me a record of each wall in a construction project which will allow me to return to a finished project knowing where wires, pi...
Comments 9
By Mike Cooper, Broker VA,WV, MD, Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro
(Cornerstone Business Group Inc)
The 10 Hour Cycling Challenge has come and gone.  It was fantastic!  The event was a local fundraiser for the Angel Trust Foundation at the Winchester Medical Center oncology department.  The riders committed to an hour or more on a sponsored bike.  The event had four riders who did the entire 10 hours.  Lula Neely, Nancy Jo Carrico (who did all 12 hours last time), Preston Erb and Bruce Young inspired the group with their steady cadence throughout a very long day on a bike.  They never backed off for a second. Thanks gang, you're an inspiration. Ted Garber dropped by to entertain and encourage the group at 11:30 am.  Ted played and Victoria Egnew lead the riders during that hour.  The interaction between Ted and Victoria was priceless.  I'm sure Ted picked up a lot of fans during his t...
Comments 3
By Mike Cooper, Broker VA,WV, MD, Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro
(Cornerstone Business Group Inc)
Whenever you have maintenance and repairs done on your home make sure the tradesman you hire is qualified.  That sounds like a no-brainer, but too many times it's just easier, cheaper and sometimes faster to get "that guy" down the street with the pick-up truck and toolbox on the back. Anyone can call himself a contractor or a tradesman, but a true skilled tradesman has something else behind his name.  Actually, he has two things; a license and insurance.  You might add reputation to that list too.  Internet sites like Angie's List offer online reviews of previous clients, but your friends, family, co-workers, church family, etc., can also be a great source of recommendations. Today, I inspected a home that had been damaged by fire.  It was an electrical fire.  I tend to look at the "it...
Comments 13
By Mike Cooper, Broker VA,WV, MD, Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro
(Cornerstone Business Group Inc)
There are lot of issues a potential buyer should consider when looking at a piece of real estate, but few are more important than the electrical system.  What electrical system issues should cause a concern when buying a home?  A good home inspector will be able to identify these items for you.  The first electrical issue a home-buyer should consider is what kind of electrical service does the house have?  What amperage is it?  100 amp (absolute bare minimum), 200 amp (the modern day minimum), 400 amp (the new norm) Fuses or breakers? - Along with the size of the service is the issue of fuses or breakers.  A fuse panel screams "OLD" panel and potentially old wiring.  Breakers should be the current norm.  Fuse panels should be replaced. Panel brand - Most electrical panels should bare th...
Comments 9
By Mike Cooper, Broker VA,WV, MD, Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro
(Cornerstone Business Group Inc)
Back-up generators are a great asset to any home.  Our electrical contacting company has installed a variety of systems and many different brands over the past two decades.  This week, we installed a brand we've never worked with before, and it has become one of my favorites.  If you're thinking about a home generator system, make sure to consider a Cummins Onan system in your search.  The system differs from Generac or Briggs and Stratton systems in that the transfer switch is between the main panel and the meter base.  The transfer switch is the brain of your home generator system.  Most system transfer switches are inserted after the main panel.  In those systems, you have to pick and choose which circuits will be in your transfer switch. In the Cummins system, the transfer switch be...
Comments 11
By Mike Cooper, Broker VA,WV, MD, Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro
(Cornerstone Business Group Inc)
Winchester, VA has a secret.  Nestled in at the top of the Shenandoah Valley is one of the finest arts and theater schools on the east coast.  Shenandoah University produces some of the finest musicians and thearter performers outside of Broadway. Last night, I had the opportunity to drop by and watch their latest production: Into the Woods.  Into the Woods is a humorous, albeit dark, rendition of a number of well known fairy tales.  The production brings together Jack and Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White.  The stories are interwoven around the childless plight of a baker and his wife. The student performers are amazing.  They are funny.  They can dance, and without exception, they can sing.  You find yourself trying to remember the...
Comments 6
By Mike Cooper, Broker VA,WV, MD, Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro
(Cornerstone Business Group Inc)
The troops are lined up and ready for duty.  The room is quiet, but it's about to get really loud.  Before you know it, dozens of people will be filtering in and out and progress will be made.  The 10 hour Cycling Challenge is less than two weeks away, and we're ready for you. The Valley Health Wellness and Fitness Center is sponsoring it's second marathon cycling event March 9Th from 7:30 am - 5:30 pm.  The beneficiary will be the Angel Trust Fund at the Winchester Medical Center.  The fund benefits qualified patients who are currently receiving treatment at the oncology department of Winchester Medical Center. That help can come in a myriad of ways, but it's always deserving and always needed.  Join us for a day of indoor cycling, great camaraderie, exercise while you reach out a help...
Comments 7
By Mike Cooper, Broker VA,WV, MD, Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro
(Cornerstone Business Group Inc)
The 10 Hour Cycling Challenge at the Valley Health Wellness and Fitness Center is proud to welcome Ted Garber for an hour of fun and music during the event.  Ted has graciously accepted our invitation to share his musical talents with our hardworking participants.  Ted is an accomplished recording artist who I've had the privilege of hearing in person, and he is awesome.  Let me share an expert from Ted's bio to give you a feel for his musical style: Ushering in a new golden age of live entertainment is Ted Garber, a genre-bending multi-instrumentalist whose "BluesAmericanaRock" combines classic showmanship with a captivating singer-songwriter sensibility. His smokey, bluesy vocals, howling harmonica riffs and screaming guitar licks are enticing audiences worldwide, taking us on a diver...
Comments 5
By Mike Cooper, Broker VA,WV, MD, Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro
(Cornerstone Business Group Inc)
Cornerstone Business Group, Inc., is your northern Virginia home for  homebuyer education.  Cornerstone has partnered with the Virginia Housing Development Authority and the Blue Ridge Housing Network to provide a broad array seminars designed to prepare a home-buyer for all of the steps to home-ownership.  The homebuyer seminar is an eight hour program that is required for buyers who will be seeking buying assistance.  Buying assistance may involve down payment assistance or closing cost assistance, or both.  Buyers who have completed the seminar, and who are qualified, can apply for financial assistance in their home purchase. The seminar consists of eight sessions, including: Personal Finance Credit Reporting Working with the Lender Role of the Real Estate Agent Virginia Fair Housing...
Comments 1
By Mike Cooper, Broker VA,WV, MD, Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro
(Cornerstone Business Group Inc)
If you're thinking about applying for a VHDA loan, you should consider the VHDA free home-ownership class.  The class is taught by experts in the fields of home-ownership, real estate, personal finance, credit, home inspection and real estate closings.  The next class in the Winchester, Virginia area will be held at office of the Cornerstone Business Group, Inc., at 1437 Front Royal Rd, Winchester, VA 22602, on February 16, 2013 from 10:00 am - 4:00 pm.   During a VHDA home-ownership class, you will learn about the responsibilities that come with home-ownership.  You will also learn the value of a good to great credit score and how to achieve one.  You will learn the mechanics of applying for a home loan, and you learn how to get pre-approved for a home loan.  You'll learn the importanc...
Comments 3
By Mike Cooper, Broker VA,WV, MD, Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro
(Cornerstone Business Group Inc)
We're at it again.  This March, you have a chance to do something good for your body and something good for a cancer patient at the same time.  On March 9th, from 7:30 am - 5:30 pm, the Valley Healthy Wellness and Fitness Center in Winchester, VA will be hosting 10 Hour Pedal for a Cure event to benefit the Angel Trust Fund at the Winchester Medical Center Foundation. Angel Trust Fund is one of a number of funds at the Winchester Medical Center Foundation that offers assistance to patients who need some sort of assistance with their care.  Angel Trust Fund is cancer specific.  Their support might be treatment related, or it might as simple as providing transportation to treatment.  The Angel Trust Fund makes sure that those who have specific financial needs during their treatment are ab...
Comments 5
By Mike Cooper, Broker VA,WV, MD, Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro
(Cornerstone Business Group Inc)
Showing property is all part of the real estate business.  Some of my colleagues actually got into the business because they love to look at houses.  I can't say that was my motivation, but it is a part of the process. Showing homes was a piece of cake in the years prior to the 2008 collapse of the economy, but since the collapse, perils have arisen for buyer's agents.  I visited a property last year that my clients liked, but they wanted to view a few more properties before making an offer.  A few days later, they wanted to return to the property. We set up an appointment and returned to the property.  When I went to unlock the lock-box, I noticed that the door was ajar.  The lights were on inside, but there were no cars in the driveway or in front of the house.  The key was missing fr...
Comments 34
By Mike Cooper, Broker VA,WV, MD, Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro
(Cornerstone Business Group Inc)
The Briggs Animal Adoption Center is at it again.  It's time for the 2nd annual Tail and Trails non-competitive 5K & 10K Fun Walk/Run.  The event benefits the Spay Today program at the center.  The run/walk takes place at the Blandy Farm State Arboretum in Boyce, VA.  The Arboretum is a beautiful place to visit any time of year, and it's a special place to visit when you can assist Briggs in their mission to help every pet find a forever home. The Spay Today program is a collaboration of 24 veterinary hospitals and spay/neuter clinics in 3 states.  They provide 5,000 reduced cost spay/neuters procedures every year.  The Spay Today program benefits more than 30+ humane societies and rescue operations by providing them with low costs services.  Over the past 12 years, Spay Today has provi...
Comments 4
By Mike Cooper, Broker VA,WV, MD, Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro
(Cornerstone Business Group Inc)
Dear homeowner, when you decide to finish your basement or any unfinished space in your home, get a permit.  It will save you aggravation in the future, and it will make sure that the work is done in a professional and safe manner. When I do an MLS search and see that a house is listed as a 4 bedroom / 3 bath house, that's what I expect to see when I get there.  When I look at the tax record and it says 3 bedrooms / 2 baths, a red flag goes up.  Also, when it says the property has an unfinished basement, but I arrive and it has a finished basement, I get suspicious that the renovation was done without including the local inspection departments. There are a lot reasons to have your renovations inspected:  Safety Make sure the changes are up to code.  This is critical in all areas of cons...
Comments 35
By Mike Cooper, Broker VA,WV, MD, Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro
(Cornerstone Business Group Inc)
On the way out the door this morning, I told my dog that he was out of snacks and I would have to stop by the store today to pick some up.  Of course, I assumed that sounded a lot like Charlie Brown's parents speaking to him. Waa-waa-waa-waa, waaa-wa.  A little while later, I was in a meeting with a client and the phone rang.  It was my wife.  The police were at our house wanting to know why we called 911.  She was a bit puzzled, so she called me to find out.  I didn't call, but it was recorded as a call from my home number.  She tried to explain to the police that we didn't call, and everything was A-OK.  He looked suspicious, but left. It finally dawned on me.  My dog called 911 because I told him there weren't any snacks left.  He knew he would have lunch before I got back, and there...
Comments 31
By Andrea Bedard, Fluent in Real Estate & German, M.A. ABR ASP CIPS
(Thompson Company, REALTORS® 240.593.2860)
If I were to move to the Winchester, VA area [or perhaps I should say when since Mike has been trying to talk me into moving to the valley], I would hire Mike Cooper, Cornerstone Business Group, in a heartbeat to represent me on my home purchase.I first met Mike through Active Rain, a network for Real Estate professionals, and followed his blog. His posts are not only very entertaining but also loaded with wisdom, about life in general and the Real Estate industry in particular. I had the pleasure of meeting Mike in person when he organized a Spinning Marathon to raise funds for the Susan G. Komen foundation.I can assure you that the Mike Cooper you see virtually is the same Mike Cooper in real life. Mike started out as a Real Estate investor in the 1990s. If you are looking to purchase...
Comments 6
By Mike Cooper, Broker VA,WV, MD, Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro
(Cornerstone Business Group Inc)
The Winchester, VA OfficeMax store provides top quality office products and exceptional service for area customers.  I do appreciate businesses that deliver more than they promise and also stand behind their products and services.  OfficeMax has become my primary office supply store for that very reason. On a recent purchase, a product did not work as expected.  When I took it back to replace it, the OfficeMax associate realized that I did not have the right item for the application.  The item was fine, but the operator needed a little fine tuning.  That was a great opportunity for him to role his eyes and then point me in the right direction for the proper item.  Did he?  Not at all.  He was very gracious and accommodating, and even though I felt a like a total goober, I left the store...
Comments 5
By Mike Cooper, Broker VA,WV, MD, Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro
(Cornerstone Business Group Inc)
It's always tough when heroes fall.  I knew the Lance Armstrong interview was coming this week, but I didn't bother to watch it.  I was pretty sure the most damning sound bites would be all over the airwaves when it was over, and they were.  Because I'm a cyclist, Lance was always someone I looked up to.  My sons did as well, and it is terribly disappointing when someone you've admired, read about, followed his training regime and considered him one of the all time greats turns out to a let down.  It happens over and over, and it would be easy to get cynical. I've always known that man is inherently flawed.  Scripture tells me that.  Experience tells me that, and history tells me that.  So, seeing Armstrong fall was terribly disappointing, but it was not all that surprising. That brings...
Comments 20
By Mike Cooper, Broker VA,WV, MD, Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro
(Cornerstone Business Group Inc)
Markets change on a cyclical basis.  It doesn't matter if it's the stock market or the real estate market.  They cycle.  Unfortunately for most homeowners - they don't see cycles.  They see blood, sweat and tears and dollar signs.  Most market cycles are not devastating like the current one has been.  So, homeowners tend to expect a profit on a real estate sale, and that's normally the way it is.  But, every so often a cycle comes along that sends the market in a reverse direction.  That shift defies so much of the real estate hype seen on TV infomercials that sellers find it nearly impossible to believe.  There are certain things an agent can do to make sure his client understands the current market. Make sure the CMA at list is as current as possible.  Houses that sold 12 months ago ...
Comments 15