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Funkhouser Blog

 
 

energy class scale savings efficiency piggy bank homeMany of us naturally feel an itch to do spring cleaning as soon as warmer days arrive. The hard work we put into pressure washing, carpet cleaning, yard debris cleanup, garage decluttering and more is done in the hopes of a having a hospitable home that will welcome summer days full of fun. Another important, and often overlooked, task to make our homes summer-ready is an energy audit.

Spring is a great time to conduct an energy audit, especially if you plan to do some of the work required to gain energy cost savings yourself. A home energy audit is a complete review of how your home operates as a system. For example, uneven temperature zones might not be an air conditioning problem; it could reflect larger issues with insulation and air sealing. Air sealing problems could be affecting your indoor air quality by introducing moisture or dust particles. A comprehensive energy assessment will let you know.

By doing a springtime energy audit and taking steps to address problems that the audit unveils, your home will simply function better. You can further increase your home’s energy efficiency by taking a few easy steps. For example, you might find significant energy savings by installing window coverings, by operating your thermostat efficiently, and by installing and using ceiling fans throughout your home. For more energy efficiency spring and summertime tips, visit the Department of Energy website.

There are a number of resources available to local residents who want to conduct an energy audit. The Harrisonburg Electric Commission (for Harrisonburg City residents) offers energy audit services to residential homeowners with electric heat or an electric heat pump during the spring and fall. Energy assessment services are available from local private companies as well, including Building Knowledge, WeatherSeal Insulation Co., and Beck Builders.

 
 

craftsman entranceThe days are getting warmer, and it’s a prime time to think about your home’s curb appeal. Making a good first impression from the street is a great idea for any homeowner, but it is imperative for a home on the market. Luckily, boosting the “wow!” factor can be fairly easy to do. Here are five easy projects to get you started.

1.      Give your front door a facelift.

Consider replacing an old door with a new, low maintenance one from a local home improvement store like Lowe’s or Home Depot. Such stores even offer installation services (for a fee) that make this project a breeze. If a new door is out of your price range, however, consider smaller fixes for a grand entrance. Try a new paint color to draw attention from the street, or add molding to frame out your door in a striking way. Foam molding is an attractive, and much less expensive, product to stretch the bang for your buck.

2.      Camouflage your heat pump or air conditioner.

If you can see your heat pump or air conditioner from the street, consider covering it up. Easy-to-install lattice panels or a decorative picket fence, along with some attractive shrubs or other plantings, may be all you need to take an eye sore to eye candy. If a potential buyer’s eye is going to be drawn to something that stands out, you would much rather it be to a beautiful bed of peonies than to your 10-year-old heat pump.

3.      Makeover your mailbox.

Nothing says old and decrepit like a falling-down mailbox or one that is covered in rust. When potential buyers drive around, searching for the address of the listing that they’ve fallen in love with online, chances are they are looking at numbers on mailboxes. Your mailbox may literally be the first thing a potential buyer sees when they arrive at your home. Make it a show stopper! Consider a cast stone surround for the box’s wooden post. Plant flowers or do other landscaping at the base. Make sure the mailbox is clean. These small projects can be completed in an afternoon, and will have a big impact.

4.      Clear out the clutter.

Life sometimes spills over into the yard, but don’t let it stay that way. Just as clutter can make it difficult to appreciate the interior features of a home, it can also detract from a home’s architectural features. Clean up toys and garden tools. Consider buying a decorative basket to hide your garden hose. Pick up any trash caught in bushes. If your home is on the market, put garden tchotchkes in storage. While you think your collection of garden gnomes is adorable, a potential buyer may not feel the same.

5.      Create an outdoor “room.”

If you have a porch or patio, turn it into a hospitable outdoor space where potential buyers can imagine good times to come with friends and family. Ditch portable folding chairs for rocking chairs or sturdy, matching patio furniture. Add in tasteful decorations such as colorful cushions, container plants, and outdoor lighting. While it might not be possible to add square footage to your home, portraying additional usable outdoor spaces can increase potential buyers’ perception of value.

 
 

5StarAward

Cartus Broker Network, a worldwide leader in employee relocation solutions, has honored Funkhouser Real Estate Group with the Cartus Five Star Award. The Award reflects Funkhouser Real Estate Group’s proven track record in placing successful referrals for clients and customers buying or selling homes outside of the Harrisonburg area. The award speaks volumes about why Funkhouser agents are highly valued partners, whether the client is searching for a home in Harrisonburg-Rockingham County or Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas. Simply put, Funkhouser agents are committed to making sure that clients’ goals are met.

Participation in the Cartus Broker Network gives Funkhouser Real Estate Group agents a professional edge, namely access to a broad network of industry professionals who understand the value of premiere customer service. Receiving the Cartus Five Star Award is a great honor, and we are proud of the agents who contributed. Our entire Funkhouser team worked hard to achieve this goal, and we look forward to further assisting clients and customers relocating to the Shenandoah Valley.

If you are relocating out of the Shenandoah Valley and need assistance in finding an excellent REALTOR where you are moving to, let us know we would be glad to help.  Contact us at info@funkhousergroup.com.

 
 

montevista

Every now and then, a house is for sale that seems to have “it all.”  That certainly is the case here at 365 Monte Vista Drive, Harrisonburg, VA.  A beautifully maintained, immaculate, 3 bedroom, 2 bath one level home fits the needs for many folks.  An open floor plan with split bedroom design makes this a great space for family living, entertaining and casual day to day life. Hardwood floors throughout the main living area lead into a beautiful sunroom with ceramic tile floors and walls of windows.  The sunroom also leads to a maintenance free deck where you can enjoy lovely evenings watching amazing sunsets and views of the western mountains.  In fact, the entire back of the house is lined with windows – the VIEWS are not to be missed!  A 3rd bedroom is upstairs above the garage with easy access from the kitchen. Beautiful oak cabinetry in the open kitchen make entertaining and spending time with the family a joy while preparing meals.

Want a media room, a home gym, a billiards room or a large family room?  No problem!  The full unfinished basement is ready for endless ideas – AND there are windows everywhere!  Again, that view!  A basement garage is handy for the car enthusiast, the lawn mower or the motorcycle!  Need more space?  The ½ acre yard is fully fenced with maintenance free vinyl picket fencing – perfect place for the kids, the pets or the outdoor bbq or party.  Beautiful landscaping surrounds the house.

Located off of Rt 33 West, and near the southeast connector road, this house is minutes from downtown Harrisonburg and James Madison University.  Peak View Elementary School is within walking distance.

Come home to Monte Vista Estates…..this beauty is waiting for you!

Click here to view the property website

main

living room

kitchen

sunroom

Photography by: Mike Miriello | www.thedowntowncreative.com

 
 

 

There are several Holiday Parades happening over the next few weeks, I hope you have the chance to enjoy some of the festivities the towns throughout the Shenandoah Valley have to offer!

christmas parades 2014

 
 

Relocating to a new community is often a big adjustment. Learning about a new place, meeting new people, and settling in to your new home is time-consuming. Many people turn to professional moving companies to make their transition a bit easier. Knowing that a mover is taking care of transporting your precious belongings from Point A to Point B may ease your mind and save your back, but only if you take the time to hire a professional, reputable moving company. There are actually federal regulations in place to protect consumers on interstate moves. These regulations from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) outline the rights and responsibilities of consumers and household goods carriers.

To protect your belongings and ensure a smooth move, here are 10 key things to do when hiring a mover:

  1. Get a written estimate. In fact,get estimates from at least three different movers, but don’t show your hand and disclose competitors’ pricing. You don’t want the disclosure of a higher cost to affect a competing estimate’s accuracy. By seeking out multiple estimates, you can be sure to get a good deal from a company that you trust.
  2. Verify the accuracy of any partially complete documents before signing. Any document should be as complete as possible with all relevant shipping information, except the actual shipment weight. That information will be available once the truck is packed and ready to roll.
  3. Exercise your right to be present when your belongings are weighed. Household goods are typically priced according to weight. If the scale indicates that your box of prized first-place ribbons weighs the same as a box of first-edition books, you may request a reweigh of your shipment.
  4. Request guaranteed pickup and delivery dates if you’re concerned about the timeliness of your move.
  5. Understand the mover’s responsibility for replacing anything that doesn’t arrive intact. There is always the possibility of loss or damage in a move.
  6. Know the difference between valuation and actual insurance in case you need to file a claim for loss or damage. There will be different costs associated with each option (which can vary according to deductible levels).
  7. Confirm the method of payment at delivery in advance if you are working under a non-binding agreement. Commons methods of payment include cash, credit card, certified check, cashier’s check and money order. Remember that movers may give binding estimates.
  8. Know the details of your mover’s dispute settlement program in case you need to settle a loss or damage claim. Movers must provide this option to protect consumers.
  9. Make sure you get an estimate from an actual mover, and not a household goods broker. Brokers are solely responsible for arranging transportation in a move. Brokers do not own the trucks used in the move, have no authority to provide an estimate for the move, and are not responsible for loss or damage.
  10. Request complaint information from the FMCSA about individual movers, if you are so inclined. You may be assessed a fee to obtain this information.

These tips were taken from a pamphlet titled Your Rights and Responsibilities When you Move (OMB No. 2126-0025) furnished by Lawrence Transportation Systems. Federal law requires that movers must provide the pamphlet to prospective individual shippers. When choosing a professional mover, look beyond the cost estimate and make sure that you understand your rights and responsibilities. Reputable carriers will be able to clarify any questions you have.

 
 
15555105896_bebda4d9eb_z

Brad Boland & Kemper Funkhouser
credit: VAR Photographer

We are very proud at Funkhouser Real Estate Group to be guided by strong leadership and values Kemper Funkhouser brings to our company.

In October 2014 The Virginia Association of REALTORS recognized Kemper Funkhouser for his professional ethics.  COO and Associate Broker with Funkhouser Real Estate Group he was presented with the state Code of Ethics Leadership Award.  This was a peer-selected award which considered his knowledge of the industry’s professional standards and ability to teach them to others.

To someone not immersed in the real estate profession we all tend to be classified as “real estate agents” however, there is a deeper meaning to being a REALTOR.  REALTORS have training in ethics for both their dealings with the public and with the real estate community. The REALTOR Code of Ethics is the cornerstone of the National Association of REALTORS ethics training. It guides REALTORS and also shows the public the level of commitment, education and dedication to their profession that each member of NAR possesses.

For example, the code’s articles include:

  • REALTORS protect and promote their clients’ interests while treating all parties honestly.
  • REALTORS refrain from exaggeration, misrepresentation, or concealment of pertinent facts related to property or transactions.
  • REALTORS cooperate with other real estate professionals to advance their clients’ best interests.
  • When buying or selling on their own account or for their families or firms, REALTORS make their true position or interest known.
  • REALTORS make sure that contract details are spelled out in writing and that parties receive copies.
  • REALTORS give equal professional service to all clients and customers irrespective of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, or sexual orientation.
  • REALTORS paint a true picture in their advertising, marketing, and other representations.
  • REALTORS make only truthful, objective comments about other real estate professionals.
 
 
town of bridgewater

Image Courtesy of Town of Bridgewater

OK, so I am a little bias having been born and raised in Virginia, however it is pretty impressive that in this countrywide assessment of small towns in America Virginia appears 3 times in the top 10 and two other Shenandoah Valley towns Strasburg and Woodstock were mentioned.

A big hats off to Bridgewater for making the top 3!

My only bone to pick is when you click on the “Bridgewater” link at the top of the page it takes you to horrific statistics regarding real estate.  YIKES, unless you can afford a million home you better race to Bridgewater because there is only one other home to choose from!

If you look at the logo to the left of those two lonely listings it is being pulled from MRIS a regional MLS system which very few local Realtors are members of and NOT a comprehensive picture of the real estate market in Bridgewater.  So you can see what caused my chuckle when next glancing at the MOTOVO tagline “Real Estate Made Easy.”  

Here is the real comprehensive list of homes for sale in Bridgewater, VA 

Obvious Tip of the Day:  If you are in the market to sell or purchase a home my advice would strongly be to work with a local REALTOR and don’t rely MOVOTO’s data.

Here is what they had to say about Bridgewater:  “If you’re looking for serious quality, without a high price tag, Bridgewater is definitely your best bet.  For starters, it had the lowest cost of living in our top 10, but still had the fifth-lowest crime rate, the 11th-shortest commute, and the 25th-lowest taxes. That’s a lot of bang for your buck.  While it had fewer amenities than others in our top 10, it’s still all about quality, featuring such places as Francesco’s, which is cozy but has to-die-for Italian food.  If you’re worried about affording all the delicious food, don’t be too concerned. The unemployment here was at merely 3.7 percent, so you’re unlikely to be out of a job in these parts. Not bad for a town of just more than 5,000 people, right?”

 
 

Zillow puts out heartwarming and entertaining commercials, they grab your attention and clicks with online advertising, and peak your interest with details about homes for sale in your area.   Then after cleaning and de-cluttering for months, picking paint out of your hair while neutralizing all those colorful bedrooms, waddling for days after weeding and mulching your entire yard on your hands and knees, feeling the blisters on your hands and toes after power washing and staining the deck you realize the beauty in Zillow that has been captivating you all along has turned into the beast who thrashes the price of your home that you have poured blood sweat and tears into for the last several years.

In the last month I have received several calls regarding Zillow’s Zestimates and how a customers were frustrated that Zillow is saying their home is worth significantly less than what they feel it is worth  and/or the facts of their home were completely wrong (in one case a 104 acre farm displaying as a 104 square foot home)!  After a brief explanation on how Zillow calculates their value and gathers their data there is usually a little sigh of relief on the other end of the phone yet a lingering feeling of aggravation not being able to do anything about it… or can you (I’ll get back to this point in a bit)?

zestimate

Our Local Area Zestmates

  • Harrisonburg City Zestimate 1 Star
  • Rockingham County Zestimate 1 Star
  • Staunton City Zestimate 1 Star
  • Waynesboro City Zestimate 1 Star
  • Augusta County Zestimate 1 Star
  • Page County Zestimate 1 Star
  • Shenandoah County Zestimate 2 Stars

 

So what does my Zestimate mean?

  • Zilllow’s Definition: “The Zestimate® home valuation is Zillow’s estimated market value, computed using a proprietary formula. It is not an appraisal. It is a starting point in determining a home’s value. The Zestimate is calculated from public and user submitted data; your real estate agent or appraiser physically inspects the home and takes special features, location, and market conditions into account.”
  • My Definition: The Zestimate Zillow places on your home is completely unreliable.

What can you do about it?

Did you know you can claim your own home and edit the data to be more accurate?  Below is a screen shot of where to look after you search for your home and find it on Zillow…

zillow claim listing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can even submit a new evaluation based on a recent appraisal, broker opinion, etc…(see below)…

zillow estimate

Of course, you need to set up an account and all these submissions need to be reviewed by the Zillow team but, you do have some control on their data, it’s accuracy, and ultimately the Zestimate so what are you waiting for?  Claim your home now don;t wait till it is time to sell.

Here is what Zillow says about claiming your home (note: the following confession: “information can be outdated or missing”):

“Since our data comes from public records, the information can be outdated or missing. Since the amount of data we have for a home affects the Zestimate accuracy, it is important that you review your home facts and update the information, if necessary. By updating your home details, it could affect the Zestimate.   By updating your home facts (such as number of bedrooms or square footage), your Zestimate value and Rent Zestimate could be affected. To update your facts, you must first claim your home.

 Once you have claimed your home, verify the home facts are correct. Update the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, home size or lot size by clicking “Edit home information.” You can also add architectural style, roof type, heat source, building amenities and more. Learn more about editing home facts.”

Enjoy Zillowing … for what it is worth!

 
 

There are literally hundreds of online Rent vs. Buy analysis tools and “expert” opinions however, I think the New York Times many have just perfected all the angles you might need to make one of the most significant financial decisions in your life…. Do I (we) rent or buy?

It is easy to use with the ability to type numbers or use the slide bars and cover most if not all of the possible details of your financial situation and long/short term decision.  <<< CHECK IT OUT >>>

rent vs buying