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Decorating on Budget
December 14th, 2007 8:11 AM

Decorating on a budget doesn't mean you are limited to buying cheap products or inferior. It is about smart choices and using products that offer a good value for your money. Look for products that will give your space maximum impact for less.

To help you get started here are some tips to help you decorate on a budget.

  1. Have a plan. It will save you from buying things that you don't really need.
  2. Set a budget. It will help you make smarter choices. If you have a lamp on your list, instead of buying an expensive lamp look for a designer look without the designer tag price. Stick to your budget so you can allocate your money to other things you need.
  3. Look around the house for things you can reuse, recycle or redecorate. It will save you money from buying things you already have. For example, if you have nice old curtains or bed sheets, you can cut and sew them to make pillow cases.
  4. One of the cheapest updates you can do is painting your house. It can instantly add life to any gloomy space, fixture or furnishing. If you have a limited budget, you may start with your front door and your kitchen cabinets.
  5. Let the sunshine in. Update your drapes with sheer curtains that can brighten up any room.
  6. Illuminate dark rooms using lamps or even accent floor lighting.
  7. Add a burst of color in your living room by using colorful accent pillows for your sofas, scented candles or some DIY art.
  8. Give life to your bedrooms by buying nice sheets and accessorizing with nice pillows. Your bed is the focal point in your bedrooms, so it can make or break the ambience.
  9. Buy a multi-purpose use furniture. An example is an ottoman chair that doubles as a storage unit.
  10. Think of the environment. Buy energy-efficient lighting. Buy a draft dodger for all your windows and doors to keep the cold air outdoors. Use a micro-fiber cloth for cleaning, instead of paper towels. You'r e not only saving the environment, but you save on your electricity bills too.

To give you an idea of what decorating on a budget will look like, here is a video of an apartment update using less than $500 of decor and furnishings.

Remember, having a budget is always a smart move whether you're decorating your home to sell or looking for a new home to buy. Any money saved can be used for other projects or for a rainy day.

I hope you find these tips useful. If you have any questions regarding buying or selling a home, give me a call. I can guide you through the process.

Posted by Ron Stead on December 14th, 2007 8:11 AMPost a Comment (0)

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Your Great American Dream in the Shenandoah Valley
December 14th, 2007 8:13 AM

Home ownership – The Great American dream. To make this dream a reality, most of us have to borrow money to finance it. This is where the problem starts for some buyers.

Some cannot qualify for a loan, while others are pushing their limits to qualify for a loan. Over stretching one's finances can be risky business, as what happened to most people facing foreclosure. They were enticed to borrow with a teaser rate, only to default in their payments when the interest rate increased. Most of them are subprime borrowers. Some are currently campaigning and protesting in a bid to save their homes.

However, these can all be avoided by being an informed borrower. Most of the time, buyers can get too emotional to purchase their own homes, that they fail to consider the implications and conditions of their loan agreement. Some end up owning their home for a short period only and end up losing it to foreclosure when they default in their payments.

Buying a home should always be a happy and memorable experience. Be an informed borrower. Learn more about the whole loan process and the range of products that will best suit your needs.

You can check out my website for some informative and handy financial tools. Here is a short summary of what you can learn:

1. Mortgage and Beyond: Learn about the mortgage application process, what a mortgage is, the difference between a fixed rate and an adjustable rate mortgage. You can also familiarize yourself with the down payment and the different options available. Lastly, know what the different closing costs are; from the costs of borrowing money, establishing a loan to document preparation.

2. Financing to Closing: Know the 9 basic steps involved, from obtaining a lender to moving in your new house.

3. Worksheets: Check out our worksheets to help you keep track of your costs and remember the different features of the properties you visited.

4. Mortgage Calculator: It can give you an idea or an estimate of your monthly repayments.

Don't get overwhelmed with the load of information. I understand that you don't buy a home everyday, so it can be a bit hard to comprehend everything all at once. Thus, I encourage you to give me a call for any questions or concerns regarding the borrowing process. I can guide and orient you more about the whole procedure. If we start everything right, things will run smoothly.

Posted by Ron Stead on December 14th, 2007 8:13 AMPost a Comment (0)

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Your Home Appraisal
December 14th, 2007 8:12 AM
After the Realtors, buyers and sellers negotiate to a "meeting of the minds" on the price of a house, there is one more person who must be convinced that the house is worth the selling price--the mortgage company's appraiser.

The appraiser looks for three similar houses that have sold in the same area within the last several months, and compares the selling prices of these homes with the one that is now on the market. The appraiser makes adjustments to account for the differences in each property, and averages the adjusted prices of the other three homes to arrive at a final opinion of value. In subdivisions or condominium projects where there are many similar properties and numerous recent sales, the appraiser's job is relatively easy. In neighborhoods of older homes that have been renovated or remodeled over the years, it can be like comparing apples and oranges.

If the appraiser's evaluation is lower than the selling price, it can stall the transaction because the lender may decline the buyer's loan because of the discrepancy. A real estate agent can work to minimize potential delays associated with the appraisal process by helping the seller to price the home as close to fair market value as possible.

Posted by Ron Stead on December 14th, 2007 8:12 AMPost a Comment (0)

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Don't Overprice your Home in Shenandoah Co., VA
December 14th, 2007 8:10 AM
In the real estate world, a large group of people are looking to buy homes at any given time. These are the seller's best prospects. This ready group of buyers is wasted, however, if your house is overpriced.

People who have been shopping around and are accustomed to comparing properties will probably refuse to look at your home with an unrealistic price tag. You and your real estate agent may know that you would sell for $10,000 less, but the buyers do not know this. As a result, your overpriced property receives little attention.

Don't be fooled into thinking that your house is worth more than someone is willing to pay for it, or that it's just a matter of waiting for the "right" buyer to show up. Surveys show that the longer a house is on the market before being sold, the greater the drop in price from the listing price when it does sell. The buying public eventually sets an accurate price. An overpriced house just sits on the market, waiting for a price adjustment before it will attract a buyer.

Posted by Ron Stead on December 14th, 2007 8:10 AMPost a Comment (0)

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Living Large in Shenandoah County
December 14th, 2007 8:09 AM

Do you know how much home you can afford to buy? If your budget will only allow you to buy a smaller house, don't worry. Right now, it is best to prioritize your finances in buying a house. It will make you more resilient to foreclosures or any financial crisis. You can move on to a bigger house when you're in a much better financial position to do so.

To add, a home no matter how small it is, can be comfortable, inviting and nice. It all depends on how you fix and decorate it. Here are some top tips from to maximize your small space:

1. Get focused : Create focal points in your small space to make it more interesting and spacious.

2. Reflect on it : Use furnishings that reflect such as mirrors, mirrored panels, furniture and metallic pieces to add shimmer to your place. In a right spot, it can enhance the feeling of light and space.

3. Define and divide your space : You can define certain areas by painting the same room different colors or divide it by installing louvered doors, screens or by hanging curtains. It can give you the space and privacy you needed.

4. Kitchen hang-ups : Create more space by hanging everything. Make use of pot racks and shelving to stack and store.

5. It's ok to display : Make use of floating shelves to add color and style to any room without creating a mess.

6. Savvy storage : Make use of lots of storage; from ottomans that doubles as a blanket box, to a wine cart in the kitchen, lots of shelves and even under the bed storage solutions.

7. Roll with it : Use multipurpose items, such as a kitchen table that can also be used as a desk. Furnishings on wheels also mean you can move them where you need them or store them away when you need the space. Versatility should be a key consideration in choosing your furnishings.

8. Be negative : This refers to the "negative space" or air between objects. Make sure that there is enough space between your furniture for you to comfortably move around. The less cluttered it looks, the bigger it will feel.

9. Add an element of surprise : "The more personal your space, the more visitors will focus on what it says about you, not on its size." You can add an interesting wall decor or you can even try reversing the colors by painting your walls white and making your furnishings colorful.

10. Play visual games : If you have a hallway, use a row of frames to draw your eyes down the hall. If you have a high ceiling, make use of vertical lines to draw the eye up.

I hope you find these tips useful. Remember, any home can be a beautiful home

regardless of the size. Don't let your budget constraints prevent you from living comfortably. These simple tips can make any small space just as nice as a bigger home, without hurting your budget.

Choosing a home that will fit within your budget can sometimes be a difficult decision, especially if most of the things that you want are in a more expensive home. Let's have a chat and define what you really need in a home. You'll realize that you have more choices than you first thought you had.

Posted by Ron Stead on December 14th, 2007 8:09 AMPost a Comment (0)

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Under Contract in 3 Weeks!
December 8th, 2007 11:17 PM




MLS #: R45082A   List Price: $234,900 2567 South Ox Road Edinburg, VA 22824
LEGAL: Sec. 2 Lot 18
TAX MAP: 057 06 018 TAXES: 759 TAX YEAR: 2007

  Level: Description:   Level: Description:
Foyer:     Bedroom 1:    
Dining Room:     Bedroom 2:    
Family Room:     Bedroom 3:    
Greatroom:     Bedroom 4:    
Other Room:     Bedroom 5:    
Living Room:     Rec Room:    
Kitchen:     Utility Room:    
TYPE: Split Foyer STYLE: Split-Level CONSTRUCTION: Brick, Siding-Aluminum ROOF: Composition Shingle DRIVEWAY: Concrete Drive GARAGE/CARPORT: None HEATING-FUEL: Electric, Wood HEATING-TYPE: Heat Pump, Baseboard AIR CONDITION: Central, Heat PumpWATER/SEWER: Public Water, Septic Tank WATER HEATING: Electric BASEMENT: Full, Finished, Outside Entry, Walkout, Heated ATTIC:     FLOORING: Carpet, Vinyl, See Remarks WORKING FIREPLACE: Two APPLIANCES: Range Electric, Dishwasher, Microwave INTERIOR FEATURES: Country Kitchen, Paneling, Washer/Dryer Hookup, Bedroom 1st Level, Cable TV Available, Fireplace, Workshop, Ceiling Fan EXTERIOR FEATURES: Garden Space, Storage Shed, Storm Windows/Doors, Porch, Enclosed Porch, Fenced Yard, Storage Building, ViewMISC SEARCH: Underground Utilities, On Public Road, Off Street Parking, Seller Disclaimer
DIRECTIONS: I81 south to Edinburg exit. Right on Stoney Creek Blvd. Next right onto South Ox Road. Continue north on south ox road for approx. .5 miles to property on left.

PUBLIC REMARKS: Nice 4 bedroom 1.5 bath split level home on .5 acre lot in quiet development. Home has been extensively remodeled. Includes all new kitchen and appliances. A must see!! Owner is moving and anxious to sell. A very nice home in a nice neighborhood. Great access to I81, Edinburg and Woodstock areas.

I am at your service!

Ron Stead

Call me today at 540-539-1200 or e-mail at

Posted by Ron Stead on December 8th, 2007 11:17 PMPost a Comment (0)

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More Holiday Selling Advice
December 8th, 2007 11:16 PM

More Holiday Selling Advice 


If you are truly serious and genuine about selling your home,  than you must stay your course during the holiday seasons.  Here are some further thoughts to add from my blog post yesterday on the same subject.

Leave a basket of candy canes or fresh fruit (apples, oranges, etc), or a plate of cookies for those looking at your home. Kids love it, and the buyers may remember your home as the one in which treats were provided. 

Apple and cinnamon is always a good fragrance to have in the air during the holiday season.  But not to overpowering.

Try to keep your interior holiday decorating to a minimum.  A tree, stockings, a few festive articles about the house is great but do not overdo it. Always remember, the potential buyer must be able to easily visualize themselves living in your home and during the holidays they would be surrounded by their decorations, not yours.  So less is better.  

Planing on any holiday parties at your place?  Just let your agent know in advance and block this time out for yourself.  You do not want to turn down showings, but a scheduled and blocked out time in advance will be toleated very well by agents and buyers alike.  After all, it is the season to be jolly!

Holiday music playing softly is a nice touch. While I find myself quite tired of the songs by the first of the year, background music is soothing, and may appeal to those looking.

What better time, even if the buyers are fewer, to present your home than when there is less inventory on the market? Competition in peak months can be fierce, and a slower market increases the opportunities for buyers to choose your home above others.


Have a Great Christmas season and Happy Home Selling!!

I am at your service!

Ron Stead

Call me today at 540-539-1200 or e-mail at



Posted by Ron Stead on December 8th, 2007 11:16 PMPost a Comment (0)

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Shenandoah Valley December Events
December 8th, 2007 1:29 AM

December Happenings in the Shenandoah Valley.

Dec . 15 Winter Solstice Celebration at North Mountain Vineyards
Saturday, 3-5 pm

Help us celebrate and bring light into the longest night of the year by lighting the great bonfire on a late winter's afternoon. Warm yourself around the stone fire pit while sampling our authentic German Gluehwein with traditional German cookies. Gourmet light fare specials, homemade hot soup, and Holiday wine specials available. Snow, rain, or shine. Hopefully snow! A wonderful pre-Christmas festivity.

Location: North Mountain Vineyard, 4274 Swartz Road, Maurertown VA 22644
Phone: 540-436-9463

Dec. 15 Spring Creek Trout Fishing Winter Class
Saturday, 10a.m. to noon

Using a slide presentation we will teach you how to fish rich low gradient limestone spring creeks in VA, PA, and the Rocky Mountains. Cost $20 per person

Location: Murray's Fly Shop
Address: 121 S. Main Street
City: Edinburg VA 22824
Phone: 540-984-4212

I am at your service!

Ron Stead

Posted by Ron Stead on December 8th, 2007 1:29 AMPost a Comment (0)

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Lock That Rate
December 8th, 2007 12:39 AM

Mortgage Bonds have been trading very favorably this week, and at some of the best levels in 2 years and mortgage rates continued to dip.

As well The Feds are hinting at possible further rate reductions in an attempt to spur on the the financial markets and get them back on track.  As well, the stock market appears to be reacting favorably to this possible rate cut by posting a gain of nearly 400 points this week.

It is advisable at this time to "Lock Your Rate" as we are treading in unchartered territory.  When The Fed makes this reduction, in what appears to be the final down adjustment, it is speculated that interest rates will level out and then begin climbing again.

Let me share with you my expert advice on buying your new home.


I am at your service!


Ron Stead

Posted by Ron Stead on December 8th, 2007 12:39 AMPost a Comment (0)

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Home Selling During the Holiday Season
December 8th, 2007 12:22 AM

Home Selling During the Holiday Season

by Ron Stead

What do you do if you have your home “For Sale” during the holiday period from November thru January 1st when many of us find our calendars filled with obligations of the season from shopping, to entertaining, decorating the house, and so much more.  Is keeping your home in “Showing” condition a challenge you want to face during this time?

It is understandable why you would be tempted to take your home off the market during the holidays. And the reasons why you would want to do so are numerous. If you are too busy, buyers may be also?  And what if you do get an offer? You may be faced with the possibility of packing and moving during the busiest time of the year.  Is it better to just pack it in and start fresh in January?

Stop right there!! 

Taking your home off the market during the Christmas season is a mistake.   It can’t sale if it is not on the market and are you prepared to add another couple of months to the current lengthy “Days on Market” averages? 

Remember, your Realtor is here for your.  To relieve you of a majority of the work and stress of selling your home, during this busiest of seasons.  

Before you take your home off the market, consider the following points:

  • During the holiday season, our culture focuses on family and the home. Preparing for the indoor activities of winter is one of the most enjoyable periods of family life. Letting buyers view your home during this most hospitable of seasons lets them better picture their own family life in the attractive environment you have created in your home.
  • Think of this.  When is your home ever more beautiful and inviting? You have cleaned and decorated, and your home looks like a picture postcard. If the results are good enough for family and friends, they will surely be good enough to impress your buyers.
  • Although buyer activity may appear to slow down, the buyers who are actively looking during the holidays are that much more serious.
  • Many buyers deliberately choose to shop for a home after the busy spring and summer rush. They know that it will be easier to look, and that negotiations will be less stressful.  
  • With reduced inventories and motivated buyers, you will have all the members of the MLS on your team. You may find you have more showings than you would if your marketed your home during a busier time of the year.
  • If you do get a contract, you can arrange the terms to suit your needs. If moving during the holidays isn't an option, you can put in the closing date of your choice. Possessions and closings are usually very negotiable terms of a contract.


Give me a call and let me work for you during the busy holiday season and every season in between.






Posted by Ron Stead on December 8th, 2007 12:22 AMPost a Comment (0)

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Mortgage Bail Out?
December 7th, 2007 11:43 PM

The Bush administration announced a plan that freezes interest rates for some credit-challenged homeowners who purchased their homes with sub-prime loans for a period of five years.   

The President also called for  Federal Housing Administration reforms to lower borrowing requirements for FHA conforming loans  Eligible borrowers are those holding adjustable rate mortgages that are about to reset to higher rates and who remain current in their payments.    

The move potentially minimizes losses to banks, securities investors, and the economy, by keeping more homeowners out of a foreclosure or bankruptcy status.     

The interest freeze is only available to homeowners occupying their homes, and not for real estate speculators. But any freeze on mortgage interest rates amounts to a subsidy that does nothing for the homebuyers who did all the right things, including buying within their means.    

While this debate goes on, other help is on the way. This week, mortgage interest rates fell to two-year lows. Some borrowers may be able to refinance their loans into safer fixed-rate without waiting for a federal handout.

Ron Stead

Posted by Ron Stead on December 7th, 2007 11:43 PMPost a Comment (0)

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Your Home For Sale - Make It Shine
December 7th, 2007 10:28 PM

     When you are trying to sell your home you must take some time to make it shine.  Go through each room of your home with a critical eye for detail.  Start at the top and work your way down.  Are the ceilings in good shape and free of cracks and/or water stains?  Check out your walls.  Are there any cracks or holes that need to be patched? What is the condition of the paint or wallpaper?  Are your windows and doors clean and in good repair.  Are your window treatments clean and in good condition?  Are your closets organized.  If they are cluttered it will make your closets appear smaller than they are.  The same goes for entire rooms, bookshelves, corners, etc.  If it appears cluttered to you, you can rest assured any potential home buyers will see the same thing.  You may want to put large and excess furniture in storage while you market your home.  You want your home to appear roomy and spacious and not bursting at the seams with furniture crammed into every inch.

A clean, well maintained, and clutter free home will sell much quicker than one that is not, as buyers get mentally exhausted at having to imagine a homes potential and see through all of your furnishings.  They must imagine themselves and their furnishings in the home which is difficult to do without a fairly clean canvas to start.

And the most important fact of all is that the presentation condition of your home will be a major factor in determining the final selling price of your home.  The better your home shows to potential buyers, the closer to top dollar you will be able to demand for your home.

I would be happy to help you identify the necessary repair and cleaning that needs to be done to increase your homes marketability.  For expert advise on buying or selling real estate in the shenandoah valley, give me a call at 540-539-1200 or shoot me and email at  Also, please visit my website to search for homes and get solid advice on the real estate market.

Ron Stead

Call me today at 540-539-1200 or e-mail at

Find my website at


Ballon over valley


Posted by Ron Stead on December 7th, 2007 10:28 PMPost a Comment (0)

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A Wonderful Time to Buy a Home
December 6th, 2007 10:59 PM


It is a great time to buy a home. 

And most consumers tend to agree as discussed at the National Association of Realtors convention in Las Vegas this past week

Nine out of 10 consumers say buying a home in today's housing market remains a good deal.

The real estate association's National Housing Pulse Survey also revealed 59 percent of those surveyed said right now is a good time to buy a home.

Although consumer optimism over the housing market doesn't come without some issues.

Mortgage affordability as well as mortgage approval, and obtaining monies for down payments and closing costs are not the easy task they may have been in the real estate market of the past several years.

As well, home affordability remains an issue in many areas,  although the prices seem to be leveling off.

In short, owning a home still is a good and stable long term investment.

Call me and let me help answer your Real Estate questions and concerns.


Ron Stead


Posted by Ron Stead on December 6th, 2007 10:59 PMPost a Comment (0)

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New Home Closing
December 6th, 2007 10:54 PM

Congrats to My CLients

Congrats to my client's the Cardoso's of Toms Brook.  Today they closed on a beautiful Richmond American Home in Oxbow Estates in Strasburg, VA.  It was my pleasure to serve their Real Estate needs.  If you live in the area, please welcome them into the community.


Let me find you that perfect home.  Call me with all of your Real Estate questions.


Ron Stead

Call me today at 540-539-1200 or e-mail at

Find me and our Teams Properties at


Ballon over valley

Posted by Ron Stead on December 6th, 2007 10:54 PMPost a Comment (0)

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The "Real" Real Estate Picture
December 6th, 2007 10:40 PM

The Real - Real Estate Picture

Pending home sales (houses under contract but not yet closed) rose by two tenths of a percent in the latest report from the National Association of Realtors.   Although not a huge shift, this is the second month in a row of a positive direction change in many months for this significant real estate future indicators.

The latest projection for existing homes sales for 2007 is 5.7 million, and although not near the record settings boom of 2004 or 2005, it will still be in the top 5 years of sales on record.  So not such a miserable year as is being reported.  On top of this is an estimated 800,000 in new homes sales for 2007.  So unlike many reports being circulated the market is very much alive and there is a lot of successful buyers and sellers in the Real Estate market each week.

As well, mortgage rates remain affordable and readily available to those applicants with decent credit, and able to document assets and income.  Avg. rates this past week were at 6.19%

That's the real economic outlook for real estate, though not necessarily the one you get on network TV.


Ron Stead

Call me today at 540-539-1200 or e-mail at

Find me and our Teams Properties at


Ballon over valley



Posted by Ron Stead on December 6th, 2007 10:40 PMPost a Comment (0)

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