Tag Archives: virginia

Definition of a Bedroom

REIN has received numerous calls recently asking for clear definition of what constitutes a bedroom. Here are the basics…The current Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code states that a bedroom must have the following:

  • An area of at least 70 square feet. If more than
  •  one person occupies the room, there must be 50 square feet per occupant.
  • Ceiling heights must be no less than 7 feet.
  • Two egress points, one of which leads directly outside. The emergency exit (whether a window or door) must have a minimum area of 5.7 sq.ft., or be big enough for a firefighter or other rescue personnel in full gear to be able to carry you to safety. Only exception: if the room is at grade level, the minimum size may be 5 sq.ft.. Emergency exits may measure no more than 44 inches from the floor to the bottom sill.
  • In order to be considered a legal bedroom, the room cannot be the only means of acc
    ess or egress to other bedrooms or habitable spaces.
  • Ventilation for cooling (i.e. a window or A/C), and a heat source. Portable heaters do not count as an adequate heat source.
  • Contrary to popular belief, Virginia does not require a closet in a room to call it a bedroom.

The requirements listed above are mandated by the Commonwealth of Virginia. However, each City and County within the state may have their own requirements, on top of the state’s. So what is allowed as a bedroom in Virginia Beach may differ from what is allowed in Newport News. It is recommended that you check with the local zoning authority of the home in question for a complete definition. 

All my best,
Myra Spano, REALTOR®

About the Author:
Myra Spano is a service and results oriented real estate agent with her client’s goals as top priority.  Myra has over 10 years of experience and is recognized as a top producing agent in her office in Virginia Beach and enjoys working with both buyers and those selling their homes.
For information about purchasing a home in Coastal Virginia, visit her website.  This site is focused on homes available for sale in Hampton Roads, Virginia.  Email, call or text to make an appointment begin your home search.
If you are considering selling your home in Virginia Beach or one of the surrounding areas, visit the seller’s website to request a Free Market Analysis of your property.
Myra Spano & Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Towne Realty is awaiting to provide the real estate guidance you need.  Contact us now to make your home dreams come true!
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Real Estate is the overwhelming preferred Choice.

Real estate is the overwhelming preferred choice by Americans as identified in a recent survey. With the Dow Jones industrial average reaching record highs, it might be expected that the stock market would be the favored choice but that wasn’t the outcome.

Analysis of the report suggests that the popularity for houses could be that they are tangible assets that you can see where your money is actually invested compared to stocks and bonds which tend to be unclear where the money is invested.

Best way to invest.jpg

There are several distinct advantages of homes as investments over other popular alternatives.

  1. High loan-to-value mortgages available
  2. At fixed interest rates
  3. For long periods of time
  4. On appreciating assets
  5. With definite tax advantages
  6. And reasonable control.

Another advantage of rental homes is that most people are comfortable with them. It is the same type of property that they live in but used as a rental. They have a tendency to understand the key components such as value, appreciation, rent, maintenance and financing.

All my best,
Myra Spano, REALTOR®

About the Author:
Myra Spano is a service and results oriented real estate agent with her client’s goals as top priority.  Myra has over 10 years of experience and is recognized as a top producing agent in her office in Virginia Beach and enjoys working with both buyers and those selling their homes.
For information about purchasing a home in Coastal Virginia, visit her website.  This site is focused on homes available for sale in Hampton Roads, Virginia.  Email, call or text to make an appointment begin your home search.
If you are considering selling your home in Virginia Beach or one of the surrounding areas, visit the seller’s website to request a Free Market Analysis of your property.
Myra Spano & Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Towne Realty is awaiting to provide the real estate guidance you need.  Contact us now to make your home dreams come true!

9 Reasons Why You Should Work With a REALTOR®

NARNot all real estate practitioners are REALTORS®. The term REALTOR® is a registered trademark that identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION of REALTORS® and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics. Here are nine reasons why it pays to work with a REALTOR®.

  1. You’ll have an expert to guide you through the process. Buying or selling a home usually requires disclosure forms, inspection reports, mortgage documents, insurance policies, deeds, and multi-page settlement statements. A knowledgeable expert will help you prepare the best deal, and avoid delays or costly mistakes.
  1. Get objective information and opinions. REALTORS® can provide local community information on utilities, zoning, schools, and more. They’ll also be able to provide objective information about each property. A professional will be able to help you answer these two important questions: Will the property provide the environment I want for a home or investment? Second, will the property have resale value when I am ready to sell?
  1. Find the best property out there. Sometimes the property you are seeking is available but not actively advertised in the market, and it will take some investigation by your REALTOR® to find all available properties.
  1. Benefit from their negotiating experience. There are many negotiating factors, including but not limited to price, financing, terms, date of possession, and inclusion or exclusion of repairs, furnishings, or equipment. In addition, the purchase agreement should provide a period of time for you to complete appropriate inspections and investigations of the property before you are bound to complete the purchase. Your agent can advise you as to which investigations and inspections are recommended or required.
  1. Property marketing power. Real estate doesn’t sell due to advertising alone. In fact, a large share of real estate sales comes as the result of a practitioner’s contacts through previous clients, referrals, friends, and family. When a property is marketed with the help of a REALTOR®, you do not have to allow strangers into your home. Your REALTOR® will generally prescreen and accompany qualified prospects through your property.
  1. Real estate has its own language. If you don’t know a CMA from a PUD, you can understand why it’s important to work with a professional who is immersed in the industry and knows the real estate language.
  1. REALTORS® have done it before. Most people buy and sell only a few homes in a lifetime, usually with quite a few years in between each purchase. And even if you’ve done it before, laws and regulations change. REALTORS®, on the other hand, handle hundreds of real estate transactions over the course of their career. Having an expert on your side is critical.
  1. Buying and selling is emotional. A home often symbolizes family, rest, and security — it’s not just four walls and a roof. Because of this, home buying and selling can be an emotional undertaking. And for most people, a home is the biggest purchase they’ll ever make. Having a concerned, but objective, third party helps you stay focused on both the emotional and financial issues most important to you.
  1. Ethical treatment. Every member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION of REALTORS® makes a commitment to adhere to a strict Code of Ethics, which is based on professionalism and protection of the public. As a customer of a REALTOR®, you can expect honest and ethical treatment in all transaction-related matters. It is mandatory for REALTORS® to take the Code of Ethics orientation and they are also required to complete a refresher course every four years.
All my best,
Myra Spano, REALTOR®
 

About the Author:
 
Myra Spano is a service and results oriented real estate agent with her client’s goals as top priority.  Myra is recognized as a top producing agent in her office in Virginia Beach and enjoys working with both buyers and those selling their homes.
 
For information about purchasing a home in Virginia Beach, visit her website.  This site is focused on homes available for sale in Hampton Roads, Virginia.  Email, call or text to make an appointment begin your home search.
 
If you are considering selling your home in Virginia Beach or one of the surrounding areas, visit the seller’s website to request a Free Market Analysis of your property.
 
Myra Spano & Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Towne Realty is awaiting to provide the real estate guidance you need.  Contact us now to make your home dreams come true!

10 Ways to Prepare for Homeownership

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  1. Decide what you can afford. Generally, you can afford a home equal in value to between two and three times your gross income.
  2. Develop your home wish list. Then, prioritize the features on your list.
  3. Select where you want to live. Compile a list of three or four neighborhoods you’d like to live in, taking into account items such as schools, recreational facilities, area expansion plans, and safety.
  4. Start saving. Do you have enough money saved to qualify for a mortgage and cover your down payment?  Ideally, you should have 20 percent of the purchase price saved as a down payment. Also, don’t forget to factor in closing costs. Closing costs — including taxes, attorney’s fee, and transfer fees — average between 2 and 7 percent of the home price.
  5. Get your credit in order. Obtain a copy of your credit report to make sure it is accurate and to correct any errors immediately. A credit report provides a history of your credit, bad debts, and any late payments.
  6. Determine your mortgage qualifications. How large of mortgage do you qualify for? Also, explore different loan options — such as 30-year or 15-year fixed mortgages or ARMs — and decide what’s best for you.
  7. Get preapproved. Organize all the documentation a lender will need to preapprove you for a loan. You might need W-2 forms, copies of at least one pay stub, account numbers, and copies of two to four months of bank or credit union statements.
  8. Weigh other sources of help with a down payment. Do you qualify for any special mortgage or down payment assistance programs? Check with your state and local government on down payment assistance programs for first-time buyers. Or, if you have an IRA account, you can use the money you’ve saved to buy your fist home without paying a penalty for early withdrawal.
  9. Calculate the costs of homeownership. This should include property taxes, insurance, maintenance and utilities, and association fees, if applicable.
  10. Contact a REALTOR®. Find an experienced REALTOR® who can help guide you through the process.

 

All my best,
Myra Spano, REALTOR®
 

About the Author:
 
Myra Spano is a service and results oriented real estate agent with her client’s goals as top priority.  Myra is recognized as a top producing agent in her office in Virginia Beach and enjoys working with both buyers and those selling their homes.
 
For information about purchasing a home in Virginia Beach, visit her website.  This site is focused on homes available for sale in Hampton Roads, Virginia.  Email, call or text to make an appointment begin your home search.
 
If you are considering selling your home in Virginia Beach or one of the surrounding areas, visit the seller’s website to request a Free Market Analysis of your property.
 
Myra Spano & Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Towne Realty is awaiting to provide the real estate guidance you need.  Contact us now to make your home dreams come true!

Navigating Short Sales: What to Do When the Sale Price Leaves You Short

short saleIf you’re thinking of selling your home, and you expect that the total amount you owe on your mortgage will be greater than the selling price of your home, you may be facing a short sale. A short sale is one where the net proceeds from the sale won’t cover your total mortgage obligation and closing costs, and you don’t have other sources of money to cover the deficiency. A short sale is different from a foreclosure, which is when your lender takes title of your home through a lengthy legal process and then sells it.

  1. Consider loan modification first. If you are thinking of selling your home because of financial difficulties and you anticipate a short sale, first contact your lender to see if it has any programs to help you stay in your home. Your lender may agree to a modification such as:
  • Refinancing your loan at a lower interest rate
  • Providing a different payment plan to help you get caught up
  • Providing a forbearance period if your situation is temporary

When a loan modification still isn’t enough to relieve your financial problems, a short sale could be your best option if

  • Your property is worth less than the total mortgage you owe on it.
  • You have a financial hardship, such as a job loss or major medical bills.
  • You have contacted your lender and it is willing to entertain a short sale.
  1. Hire a qualified team. The first step to a short sale is to hire a qualified real estate professional* and a real estate attorney who specialize in short sales. Interview at least three candidates for each and look for prior short-sale experience. Short sales have proliferated only in the last few years, so it may be hard to find practitioners who have closed a lot of short sales. You want to work with those who demonstrate a thorough working knowledge of the short-sale process and who won’t try to take advantage of your situation or pressure you to do something that isn’t in your best interest.

A qualified real estate professional can:

  • Provide you with a comparative market analysis (CMA) or broker price opinion (BPO).
  • Help you set an appropriate listing price for your home, market the home, and get it sold.
  • Put special language in the MLS that indicates your home is a short sale and that lender approval is needed (all MLSs permit, and some now require, that the short-sale status be disclosed to potential buyers).
  • Ease the process of working with your lender or lenders.
  • Negotiate the contract with the buyers.
  • Help you put together the short-sale package to send to your lender (or lenders, if you have more than one mortgage) for approval. You can’t sell your home without your lender and any other lien holders agreeing to the sale and releasing the lien so that the buyers can get clear title.
  1. Begin gathering documentation before any offers come in. Your lender will give you a list of documents it requires to consider a short sale. The short-sale “package” that accompanies any offer typically must include
  • A hardship letter detailing your financial situation and why you need the short sale
  • A copy of the purchase contract and listing agreement
  • Proof of your income and assets
  • Copies of your federal income tax returns for the past two years
  1. Prepare buyers for a lengthy waiting period. Even if you’re well organized and have all the documents in place, be prepared for a long process. Waiting for your lender’s review of the short-sale package can take several weeks to months. Some experts say:
  • If you have only one mortgage, the review can take about two months.
  • With a first and second mortgage with the same lender, the review can take about three months.
  • With two or more mortgages with different lenders, it can take four months or longer.

When the bank does respond, it can approve the short sale, make a counteroffer, or deny the short sale. The last two actions can lengthen the process or put you back at square one. (Your real estate attorney and real estate professional, with your authorization, can work your lender’s loss mitigation department on your behalf to prepare the proper documentation and speed the process along.)

  1. Don’t expect a short sale to solve your financial problems. Even if your lender does approve the short sale, it may not be the end of all your financial woes. Here are some things to keep in mind:
  • You may be asked by your lender to sign a promissory note agreeing to pay back the amount of your loan not paid off by the short sale. If your financial hardship is permanent and you can’t pay back the balance, talk with your real estate attorney about your options.
  • Any amount of your mortgage that is forgiven by your lender is typically considered income, and you may have to pay taxes on that amount. Under a temporary measure passed in 2007, the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act and Debt Cancellation Act, homeowners can exclude debt forgiveness on their federal tax returns from income for loans discharged in calendar years 2007 through 2012. Be sure to consult your real estate attorney and your accountant to see whether you qualify.
  • Having a portion of your debt forgiven may have an adverse effect on your credit score. However, a short sale will impact your credit score less than foreclosure and bankruptcy.

Note: This article provides general information only. Information is not provided as advice for a specific matter. Laws vary from state to state. For advice on a specific matter, consult your attorney or CPA. 

All my best,
Myra Spano, REALTOR®
 

About the Author:
 
Myra Spano is a service and results oriented real estate agent with her client’s goals as top priority.  Myra is recognized as a top producing agent in her office in Virginia Beach and enjoys working with both buyers and those selling their homes.
 
For information about purchasing a home in Virginia Beach, visit her website.  This site is focused on homes available for sale in Hampton Roads, Virginia.  Email, call or text to make an appointment begin your home search.
 
If you are considering selling your home in Virginia Beach or one of the surrounding areas, visit the seller’s website to request a Free Market Analysis of your property.
 
Myra Spano & Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Towne Realty is awaiting to provide the real estate guidance you need.  Contact us now to make your home dreams come true!

5 Things to Know About Title Insurance

Title-Insurance-Image

 

Title insurance protects the holder from any losses sustained from defects in the title. It’s required by most mortgage lenders. Here are five other things you should know about title insurance.

  1. It protects your ownership right to your home, both from fraudulent claims against your ownership and from mistakes made in earlier sales, such as mistake in the spelling of a person’s name or an inaccurate description of the property.
  1. It’s a one-time cost usually based on the price of the property.
  1. It’s usually paid for by the sellers, although this can vary depending on your state and local customs.
  1. There are both lender title policies, which protect the lender, and owner title policies, which protect you. The lender will probably require a lender policy.
  1. Discounts on premiums are sometimes available if the home has been bought within only a few years since not as much work is required to check the title. Ask the title company if this discount is available.
All my best,
Myra Spano, REALTOR®
 

About the Author:
 
Myra Spano is a service and results oriented real estate agent with her client’s goals as top priority.  Myra is recognized as a top producing agent in her office in Virginia Beach and enjoys working with both buyers and those selling their homes.
 
For information about purchasing a home in Virginia Beach, visit her website.  This site is focused on homes available for sale in Hampton Roads, Virginia.  Email, call or text to make an appointment begin your home search.
 
If you are considering selling your home in Virginia Beach or one of the surrounding areas, visit the seller’s website to request a Free Market Analysis of your property.
 
Myra Spano & Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Towne Realty is awaiting to provide the real estate guidance you need.  Contact us now to make your home dreams come true!

Exciting News – VHDA Down Payment Assistance

VHDA Just Announced a 3% Down Payment Assistance Program!This is fantastic news for first-time home buyers.

Down Payment Assistance Grant:  In an effort to stimulate the spring home buying season for 1st time buyers in Virginia, Virginia Housing Development Authority is pleased to announce Down Payment Assistance grants. Because these resources are extremely limited, they will be targeted to those households earning no more than 80% of VHDA’s current income limits. Grants will be limited to 3% of the lesser of purchase price or appraised value. The borrower is under no obligation to repay the grant (No Note or Deed of Trust is executed for these funds).

Eligible Programs: The down payment assistance grant funds are available to borrowers obtaining a VHDA 1st mortgage (Conventional, FHA, or Fannie Mae NO MI) and may be used for down payment only.

Note: Loan programs requiring no down payment (VA, USDA) are not eligible for a DPA grant. In addition, these limited resources may not be used in conjunction with a FHA Plus mortgage or other down payment/closing costs assistance including FLHB programs. Borrower(s) must meet all qualification requirements for first mortgage.

Limited Availability: VHDA has set-aside $5 million for the Down Payment Assistance Grant program. Because these resources are limited, they will be made available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Once funds have been exhausted there will be no additional allocation. Each request for DPA grant funds must be allocated by VHDA no later than June 30, 2015.

Area Maximum Income2 or Fewer People Maximum Income3 or More People Maximum Sales Price/Loan LimitsNew & Existing
Washington/ Arlington/ Alexandria MSA $97,520 $113,840 $500,000
Charlottesville MSA $74, 080 $86, 480 $375,000
Richmond MSA $68,000 $78,720 $375,000
Norfolk/ VA Beach/ Newport News MSA $64,320 $75,040 $375,000
Culpeper $74,720 $87,200 $425,000
Rappahannock $74,640 $87,120 $425,000
Warren $68,800 $80,320 $425,000
King George $74,080 $85,520 $325,000
Statewide(All areas not listed above) $58,880 $67,680 $251,900

If you need a preferred local lender, let me know!  I’ll refer you to a trustworthy adviser!

All my best,
Myra Spano, REALTOR®
 

About the Author:
 
Myra Spano is a service and results oriented real estate agent with her client’s goals as top priority.  Myra is recognized as a top producing agent in her office in Virginia Beach and enjoys working with both buyers and those selling their homes.
 
For information about purchasing a home in Virginia Beach, visit her website.  This site is focused on homes available for sale in Hampton Roads, Virginia.  Email, call or text to make an appointment begin your home search.
 
If you are considering selling your home in Virginia Beach or one of the surrounding areas, visit the seller’s website to request a Free Market Analysis of your property.
 
Myra Spano & Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Towne Realty is awaiting to provide the real estate guidance you need.  Contact us now to make your home dreams come true!