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One-button Pricing?

by Stone Realty Services®

An Automated Valuation Model, AVM, is a computer approach that looks at public records to make a determination based on square footage, comparable sales and other elements. It is as easy as putting your address in a blank but unfortunately, AVM results may only be accurate about 20% of the time.

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A popular AVM, Zestimate®, states “It is considered a starting point at determining a home’s value.” While an AVM contains some of the same information as a comparable market analysis, it lacks a critical human factor.

Having a pair of experienced eyes consider aspects that are not easily quantified can make a big difference. A skilled professional can tell which properties are truly comparable. A knowledgeable expert can recognize features, floorplans and other things that can affect value but are difficult to quantify.

Even if a person isn’t ready to sell their investment, they like to know its value. It is easy to find the price of stocks or mutual funds on any given day but the value of a home is more difficult.

Regardless of whether you’re just curious as to how much your home is worth or are ready to monetize your equity, I’m available to give you that information without obligation. If you’re not ready now, just keep the letter for when you are.


 

Holiday Lights Events and Locations!

by Stone Realty Services®

Tis the season for extravagant light displays and holiday cheer! Check out our list of favorite events and locations during this time of year.

Professional Holiday Light Displays

Meadowlark Winter Walk of Lights, Vienna, Nov 13 – Jan 3 

First to open this season, Meadowlark Botanical Gardens lights up for the holidays with over 500,000 lights and displays on a .6 mile outdoor walking trail. Purchase timed entry tickets in advance to ensure you get parking and avoid long lines, though some tickets are available at the door. Pick up a hot chocolate before your walk, then shop at the Snowflake Shoppe for holiday ornaments, flashing jewelry and other goodies. Tickets for adults/children are $13/$8. Opens nightly at 5:30 – 10:00, last admission at 9:15.‚Äč

Busch Gardens Christmas Town, Williamsburg, Nov 27 – Jan 3

Celebrate the spirit of the season at Busch Gardens’ Christmas Town™. Christmas Town brings holiday traditions to life with heartwarming shows, delicious holiday dining and festive shopping opportunities. Experience Christmas traditions from around the world and keep warm with a mug of Busch Gardens' signature hot chocolate. This year, Christmas Town is brighter than ever with more than eight million lights. Of course, no visit would be complete without a stop at the North Pole to see Santa's workshop and meet the jolly old elf-himself. Tickets start at $35 per person for a one day pass OR all Christmas season pass! This is a great deal if you want to visit multiple times this holiday season!

Bull Run Festival of Lights, Bull Run Regional Park, Nov 18 – Jan 3

A perennial favorite, the Bull Run Festival of Lights dazzles with a 2.5 mile drive-through display of holiday and fairytale vignettes. While most of the displays repeat year-to-year, many of the lights were upgraded and brightened in 2014. This is an ideal family activity even for the youngest kids, who stay warm and cozy as you slowly drive through the fun, animated displays.

Weekends get very busy so try to visit on a weekday night when you’ll find fewer cars, no lines, and a $3.00 discount (with coupon). In December, the drive ends at a Holiday Village with rides (brrr), merchandise and activities. Weekday/weekend admission is $15/$20 car. 5:30 – 9:30 weekdays, 5:30 – 10:00 weekends.

Grand Illumination Feast and Festivities, Colonial Williamsburg, Dec 6th 3:30–6:00 pm

For something a little different, gather around a table for a sumptuous supper before experiencing the Grand Illumination Celebration light up the night. The chefs of Colonial Williamsburg have planned a hearty holiday meal as memorable as the evening's main event. As you dine, enjoy live musical performances sure to get you into the holiday spirit. It's a grand way to celebrate the holiday season—the grandest of all! Tickets are $85.95 for adults and $42.95 for children 6-12 years old.

ZooLights, November 27 – January 2 (Except December 24, 25, 31)

With lights starting from 5 pm – 9 pm, join the thousands of visitors who make ZooLights a part of their annual holiday tradition. ZooLights includes live music performances, rides, tasty winter treats, and plenty of opportunities for holiday shopping.

More than 500,000 environmentally-friendly LED lights transform the Zoo into a winter wonderland. New this year will be a dazzling light show set to music.

Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights, Alexandria, Dec 5

At sundown on the day of the Scottish Christmas Walk parade, brightly decorated pleasure boats compete as they light up the Potomac River at the historic waterfront in Old Town Alexandria. Stop at the marina before and after the parade to visit the Holiday Festival; and Take a Walk in the Woods at the Torpedo Factory Art Center from 4:00 – 9:00 to enjoy performances by the Alexandria Harmonizers plus gift shopping in open artist studios. Free; parade begins at 5:30.

Local Holiday Light displays

  • East Juniper Street, Sterling

  • Stones Throw Drive, Reston

  • 3308 and 3309 Prosperity Ave, Fairfax

  • Archdale Road in Reston (off Fox Mill)

  • 6226 Stonehunt Place, Clifton, and the surrounding neighborhood (across from Centreville High School on Union Mill Road)

At least consider a shorter one

by Stone Realty Services®

At least consider a shorter one

Affordability and stability are reasons homebuyers choose a 30-year fixed rate mortgage. It makes the payment lower than a 15-year mortgage and the principal and interest portion of the payment will be constant for 30 years.

A common belief among homeowners for decades was that they would always have mortgage payment. The Great Recession has caused many individuals to rethink that concept and make plans to get their home paid for sooner.

For people who can afford it, shorter term mortgages will provide a lower interest rate and build equity faster. A 3.09% 15-year fixed-rate mortgage compared to a 3.87% 30-year loan will have a $562.42 higher payment.

The equity would be $66,903.04 greater on the 15-year term at the end of seven years. Even after you consider the higher payment on the shorter term, the equity difference is still almost $20,000 greater.

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By choosing a 15-year loan, a borrower is committing to the higher payment for the term of the mortgage in exchange for a slightly lower interest rate. Another approach would be for the borrower to acquire a 30-year mortgage and make payments as if it were on a 15-year term. The slightly higher rate would allow the borrower the flexibility of not having to make the higher payment in the event he could not afford it on any particular month.

Discussion with your Insurance Agent

by Stone Realty Services®

Insurance and homeowners go together like peanut butter and jelly. Lenders require fire insurance at a minimum for homes with a mortgage but many owners opt for a more comprehensive coverage with a homeowner’s policy.

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However, comprehensive doesn’t mean that everything is covered. Filing a claim is not the time to learn that you don’t have the right coverage. Discuss the following issues with your insurance agent to get a better understanding of your policy and whether some adjustments might be in order.

  • Flooding?
  • Rising water? 
  • Mold?
  • Earthquakes?
  • Pools?
  • Termites?
  • Certain kinds of pets or breeds of dogs?
  • Limits on jewelry and cash?
  • Deductible amount?

The whole concept behind buying insurance is to transfer the risk of loss that you cannot afford for an annual premium that you can. Price and coverage need to be considered when comparing policies. Call your agent and make sure you understand what you’re insured for and if there are alternatives available.

Displaying blog entries 1-4 of 4

Contact Information

Photo of Stone Wood Team Real Estate
Stone Wood Team
EXP Realty
2165 Jamieson Avenue
Alexandria VA 22314
Office: (703) 739-4663
Office: (703) 739-HOME
Fax: 703-683-9692