Winchester, VA Real Estate Sales
Mike Cooper

Community Events

Appalachian Trail hike

Shenandoah Trailblazers

Moderate out-and-back hike on the Appalachian Trail for about 9 miles.  Bring water and a snack. About 1 mile east of Linden on Rt 55.  About 7 miles east of Front Royal.  Parking area off Rt 725 (Tuckers Ln).

God Bless America Ride

Royal Ryderz

This is a pretty awesome, police escorted, ride down 81, from Greencastle, PA to Martinsburg, WV We would leave from the 0-60 Energy Cafe in Winchester around 8:30 to get there in time for the registration.  Cost is 15.00 per person and all...

Let's Play Some Games!

Winchester Book Gallery's 2nd Friday Table Top Game Night

Join us for board games, cards, puzzles, party games, Euro-games, classic family games and more!  Every 2nd Friday the Winchester Book Gallery hosts a family friendly, free game night and we'd love to have you join us!  Choose games from our...

Make your home inviting when you list to sell.

July 7th, 2016 by Mike Cooper

Make your home inviting when you list to sell.

Make your home inviting when you list to sell. That makes sense, right? But, how do you do that? If you are still living in your home, there are many ways to make your home inviting, but let me give you my favorite simple inexpensive ways to do it.

  • Make sure you have the lights on when a potential buyer shows up. Light is make your home invitingalways your friend. You want to set the mode for a buyer to feel like he/she is coming in from the day.
  • Have paddle fans on low to move air and keep the rooms comfortable.
  • Make sure it’s clean and smells fresh. No incense. No burning scented candles. No air fresheners unless they are extremely faint. A clean smell is better than a perfumed smell. You don’t want it to smell like bleach, but you want it to smell fresh and clean.
  • Leave a music channel on your stereo (do people still have those) or on your TV as background noise. Keep it to something smooth and soothing like a smooth jazz or classical (especially strings, no vocals) station. You don’t want it to be loud, but you want it to be noticeable.
  • Make sure the bathrooms have fresh towels neatly folded over their towel bars.
  • Make the beds and stage them with throw pillows.
  • Keep your closets neat and arranged. Shoes in order. Clothes neatly hung. Shelves should not disheveled, but arranged orderly.
  • Make sure your dresser drawers are closed with no clothes hanging out.
  • In the kitchen, keep the counters clean and free of unnecessary items. Keep the cabinets closed and neat inside. Buyers may open them to see what the inside is made of.
  • Leave a list of upgrades on the kitchen counter so buyers will know right away how you cared for your home.
  • Keep a bowl of snacks available for buyers to enjoy. Make it simple like mini-candy bars, mints or some sort of hard candy. Avoid cracker type treats. Leave a welcoming note encouraging the buyers to enjoy a snack.
  • Put sports equipment away, and freshen sports clothes, bags and shoes to avoid unnecessary odors. I have two sons, and I can tell you that some of those sport clothes, bags and shoe smells could send a buyer running out of a house.

You can see how simple it can be to make your home inviting. It doesn’t a big financial investment. You want the buyers to feel welcome when they walk through the door. You want them to imagine coming home after a day away and sensing the comfort of being home. Make your home inviting, and it will sell. When you’re ready to sell, give Mike Cooper at Cornerstone Business Group, Inc., a call. We are your local real estate sales pros.

Make your home inviting when you list to sell.

Originally published at, Make your home inviting when you list it to sell. #cornerstonehomesales, #mikecoopersellshomes, #winchesterhomesales, #yourlocalrealestatesalespros.

5 Ways to Sell Your Home Fast

July 4th, 2016 by Mike Cooper

5 Ways to sell your home fast

What are the 5 ways to sell your home faster? That’s easy, the hard part is trying to unlearn many of things you’ve learned about real estate in your lifetime. You see, real estate is cyclical, and that cycle changes both up and down.

Real estate is cyclical

It has been a broad belief that real estate will continually go up in value, but that belief was challenged in 2008. In my market, property lost 33% of its value across the market. It didn’t matter if you bought a million dollar home or a $100,000 home. They all lost 33%. That brings me to the first point.

1. Sell your home fast by realizing what you paid for you home doesn’t matter to a buyer and your home may no longer be worth what you paid.

With the losses experienced in our market in 2008 – 2010, a homeowner may have found house_outline_dollar_800_clr_9658himself underwater. Depending on what kind of down payment a homeowner put down on his home, the home’s value may have passed the mortgage in its downward spiral.

The days of looking at what you paid for you home and then assuming you could add a certain percentage to that were over temporarily. My market is seeing a revival in home sale prices. They haven’t reached 2008 values, but they are improving. In 2016, a great home can expect to bring 20-30% above the current county/city assessment. Some may go higher, but the 20-30 rule has been very consistent this year.

I’ve seen more people break even this year than any other time in my 20+ years in real estate. That tells me that the market is better, but it is still soft. What you paid for the home really doesn’t matter to a buyer. A home is worth what a buyer is willing to pay, and an appraisal will prove that.

2. Sell your home fast by spending your resources on the right upgrades.

Two of the best things you can do to your home before you list is to paint the walls and redo the floors. If you have hardwood floors, consider having a flooring expert in to see what they need to be spectacular again. If you have carpet, do the same thing. Can the carpet be revived, or would it be better to replace it?

Let me give you a piece of advice related to flooring. Except for those areas where you tile, hardwoods are always the best investment. Laminate flooring should only be used if it is a high-end laminate. A lot of the laminate on the market today looks cheap and adds very little value to the property. At the cost of sounding like a hypocrite, I have seen a number of homes this year with beautiful laminate floors. They almost swayed my opinion of laminate, but the truth is, when you invest what those homeowners did for high-end laminate flooring, you could get hardwoods for just a little more.

Beyond paint and flooring, kitchen upgrades, bathroom upgrades, high quality appliances and curb appeal are the better places to invest your money. Granite or quartz counter-tops are still more desirable than laminate counters. Quartz is a less expensive granite alternative. It looks like granite, but it doesn’t stain. You can get more bang for the buck with quartz.

3. Sell your home fast with the right Realtor.

Not all real estate agents are created equal. Interview agents. Listen to them, watch them, ask about their production, ask about their experience, have them detail how they plan to market your home. Ask friends which Realtor they’ve used. Read reviews online.

What type of marketing do they use? Our local market is more influenced by the Internet than the Homes Magazine or the local newspaper. Only 1-2% of total local sales come from hard copy marketing. They are expensive and a waste of money. The Internet brings in 89% of real estate sales in our market.

A tech savvy agent is more likely to get your home sold fast than one who ignores or refuses to use that media. Many regional multiple listing services syndicate their listings to the major online real estate portals. Beyond that, there are individual property websites, along with regional and local sites.

4. Sell your home fast by keeping it in good repair.

No matter what you do inside your home, it won’t help you sell your home fast if the outside is in dis-repair. How old is your roof? When was it replaced last? What do the gutters look like? Are the plants and shrubs overgrown? Does it need paint or pressure washed? Is the grass trimmed?

Take an honest assessment of your property. Look at it through the buyer’s eyes. What is the buyer determining he will have to change? What will he have to fix? He’s going to deduct that off of his offer price. Fix it before you list to make sure you get top dollar.

5. Sell your home fast by pricing it right.

This brings us back to our first point. What you paid doesn’t matter. What the market will bear is what matters. Be sure to have solid comps to price your property correctly. Remember, every financed property must meet the appraisal. It doesn’t matter what a buyer offers, if it doesn’t appraise for the offer price, the lender will only lend up to the appraised price.

You may find that your home is more valuable than you realize. I recently pushed the trend up $10,000 in a neighborhood where I listed a home. I could see the trend moving that way, and the appraisal confirmed the trend. The same thing happened on a second home I listed a few miles away. Again, the sale pushed the trend for future sales up beyond $10,000. Pick and agent who knows how to price properties accurately and it will sell fast.

It’s hard to remove all emotion from a real estate sale, but if you want to sell your home fast, you’ve got to do it. Strong emotional ties to a home can make it hard to let it go. Memories linger and years of time and investment are sown into the fabric of every square foot, but when it’s time to sell, you’ve got to set those good things aside to realistically work within the market you’re in. And, when you’re ready to sell your home fast, give your Cornerstone Business Group, Inc., agent a call. We are you local real estate sales pros.

5 Ways to Sell Your Home Fast

This information was originally published at, 5 Ways to Sell Your Home Fast. #mikecoopersellshomes,#cornerstonehomesales, #winchesterhomesales.

Winchester, VA Mid-year Real Estate Market Update – 2016

July 3rd, 2016 by Mike Cooper

Winchester, VA Mid-year Real Estate Market Update – 2016

The Winchester, VA mid-year real estate market update for 2016 reveals that the localWinchester, VA mid-yer real estate market update - 2016 market has reached a level of equilibrium and good health. With few exceptions, the first six months of 2016 have mimicked the real estate market of 2015. June 2016 is the only month with considerably lower sales as compared to June 2015.

Distressed property sales have stayed consistent in the 9% range for most of the first six months. That’s a 4% decline from the 2015 first six month report. The volume of homes sold during the first six months was 791, a 4% drop from the same period in 2015.

Frederick County Continues to dominate the volume of sales

The Winchester, VA real estate market is made of Winchester City and Frederick County. Frederick County encircles the City of Winchester and has a high population and housing volume. It also has the highest volume of sales in the local real estate market. Stephens City, VA continues to dominate the highest volume of sales in a named Frederick County community. Stephens City has consistently increased sales throughout 2016. It has 202 of the 791 total local sales in this Winchester, VA mid-year real estate market update.

Averages and Days on the Market

The average sales price for the Winchester, VA mid-year real estate market was $254,986, and the average total days on the market was 82. Many things contribute to the total days on the market, such as, weather, volume of available homes, price, location of available homes, condition, along with a few other things.

Higher days on the market is not necessarily an indicator that a property is flawed in some way. High inventory can cause properties to sit longer than in previous months. A high volume of similar properties priced around the same price point can also keep properties on the market longer. When buyers have more choices, they may take longer to decide on a property to purchase.

What will the next six months hold for the Winchester, VA real estate market?arrow_graph_growth_1600_clr_11351

The past three years have followed similar patterns. In July 2014 and 2015, the overall sales volume dropped 34% from June. In a case like that, it is easy to see why the market would take such a dive in one month. Buyers are vacationing and busy with family activities. Parents are looking for housing in other communities for their college bound students.

Many things play into a drop like that, but both 2014 and 2015 were followed with solid sales in August and beyond. If this year follows a similar dip in July, it would be good to remember the past few years, and avoid the temptation to panic. Real estate is cyclical, and it appears that the Winchester, VA real estate market has reached equilibrium and good health.

   Winchester, VA Mid-year Real Estate Market Update – 2016


This post was originally posted on; Winchester, VA Mid-year Real Estate Market Update – 2016, #mikecoopersellshomes, #cornerstonehomesales, #winchesterhomesales.

Sell Your House With the Wow Factor

June 11th, 2016 by Mike Cooper

Sell Your House With the Wow Factor

I’ve shown a lot of houses recently, so it gets harder and harder to be wowed by a home. Like so many things, if you are inundated with them, they become mundane. After showing dozens of houses each week, they all seem the same unless there is something that sets them apart, and that something is what I call the Wow Factor. Sell your house with the wow factor

What is the Wow Factor?

For instance, when you list your house, there are certain things that contribute to the Wow Factor, such as:

  • Have your home clean. A house that smells clean is a great place to start. Have a friend give you an honest assessment as to whether your home has a smell that is distinctly yours. If so, scrub the house top to bottom, paint, shampoo carpets and
    Wow factor

    Sell your house with the wow factor

    remove or clean anything that is smelly in itself, like cat litter, dog beds, sports equipment, etc.

  • Bring in the light. Light is one of your best friends when selling a house. The more light, the better. If you have dark drapes, always have them wide open. Be sure all areas are property lit. Have all light bulbs working. I encourage you to use LED lamps over other forms. They give a whiter light, costs less to run, come on instantly and they don’t get hot.
  • Kill the clutter. Rent a storage container to house unnecessary items. Most people have things that can be stored and not missed for a few weeks. Make the home lived in, but not overly so.
  • Make it easy to show. If you are living there while tying to sell, it will be a bit more of a challenge to make the home readily available at a moments notice. But remember, the harder it is to show, the longer you will have to put up with the challenges of keeping it in pristine condition. Expect to be encouraged to leave at the most inconvenient times. It will happen. I regularly ignore homes that have 12 – 24 hour wait times to show. Most clients are on a schedule, and that can be too far outside of their ability to view the property. Make it easy to show.
  • Make sure it is well appointed, but not overly so. What does that mean? Only keep things out and visible that need to be out and visible. A coffee pot on the counter is common, but a food processor, juicer, toaster, dishes in a drain rack and a host of there things might be overkill. Keep counters clean, clear and uncluttered. The same is true of every room in the house. 
  • Keep personal items out of sight. Don’t leave mail on tables. Keep those areas free of personal items that buyers don’t need to see and shouldn’t see.
  • Avoid artificial smells. No potpourri, air fresheners, incense, etc. Let the cleanliness of the home be the smell buyers are greeted with.
  • Always have fresh towels in the bathroom, keep the toilet seat down and make sure soaps on sinks are decorative and not used. A clean fresh smelling bathroom is a big plus. Dirty or wet towels hanging over the shower stall is a turn off. Make your bathrooms look like they are waiting for privileged guests in a high-end hotel, inviting and ready. 
  • Shine the floors. Beautiful hardwoods are a home-buyers dream come true. Shiny clean hardwoods are a step toward a contract. 

Most of my Wow Factor items relate back to cleanliness. Home buyers want to feel they are viewing the prized possession of the seller. Make sure you leave it that way for them every time you walk out the door. When you’re ready to sell, make sure to give your Cornerstone Business Group, Inc., real estate agent a call. We are your local real estate sales pros.

Sell Your House With the Wow Factor

This blog was originally posted in; Sell your house with the wow factor., #winchestervarealestate, #sellyourhomefast.

For Sale by Owner Properties Often Fail. Why?

May 21st, 2016 by Mike Cooper

 For Sale By Owner Properties Often Fail. Why?

As a licensed real estate professional, I’ve seen my share of for sale by owner properties around. Most of theFor sale by owner properties often fail. Why? time, they end up with a Realtor sign in the yard after months of languishing on the market with a “For Sale By Owner” (FSBO) sign. I just passed a former for sale by owner property yesterday. As usual, I chuckled when I saw the Realtor sign in the front yard.

Why do for sale by owner properties fail at a higher rate than a professionally listed property?

  • Homeowners seldom really know the current market. That leads to an overpriced home that savvy buyers would never buy. I showed one this past Monday that was 62% overpriced. I guess the seller assumes there is always a buyer with more money than brains out there. What you want, and what a home will sell for may be light years apart.
  • Showing a for sale by owner can be challenging. When an agent sets up a dozen showings in one day, scheduling becomes an art. Access is the key to making that day successful. If a for sale by owner can’t allow the house to be shown except on a limited schedule the odds are radically against him. That’s true of listed properties too. Access is really important.
  • Homeowners may not know how to negotiate an offer. There is usually some give and take in a real estate offer. If a for sale by owner is locked on a price and won’t budge, or won’t let a home inspection or repair request become a part of the deal, or is refusing a termite inspection, or is demanding of a closing date closer than a lender can accommodate, then a buyer can’t buy it.
  • Homeowners may not disclose things, or they may disclose too much.
  • Homeowners may not understand legal contracts. I ended up re-writing a contract for a for sale by owner last year because there were so many legal liabilities in in it that could eventually come back to bite the seller. The seller had no idea, and the buyer, who wasn’t represented either had no idea of the legal ramifications of a binding contract full of potholes.

This list could go on and on, but the reality is that a FSBO is almost always better off selling through a competent Realtor. It will reduce stress and it will help the seller get across the finish line with a better deal.

When you’re ready to sell your home, don’t waist weeks or months trying to sell yourself, give your Cornerstone Business Group, Inc., and Mike Cooper a call. We are you local real estate sales pros.

Stephens City, VA real estate market for the first quarter in 2016

May 10th, 2016 by Mike Cooper

The Stephens City, VA real estate market had a good first quarter in 2016. There were 75 homes sold with only 5% of them being distressed (short sale or foreclosures). The market is steadily returning to stability.

The minimum price a buyer paid for a home in Stephens City, VA in the firstquarter of 2016 was $89900 and the maximum was $464,530. The average price was $235,343. The average corresponds to other areas of Frederick County, VA. The average days on the market was 77 with the minimum being 0 and the max being 549.

Of those sold, 28 had 3 bedrooms and 2 baths. Twenty-four had 4+ bedrooms and 2+ baths. Four had 2 bedrooms and 1 bath, and the remaining number fell into a mystical place we call “other.”

Homes sold the following categories:

  • 32 – Colonials
  • 19 – Ranchers
  • 6   – Split Foyers
  • 6   – Traditionals
  • 2   – Cape Cods
  • 2   – Contemporary
  • 1   – Rambler
  • 7   – Other (Townhouses, Condos, Manufactured Homes)

New construction has picked up in the Stephens City, VA real estate market. Most homes sold in the first quarter were previously owned homes, but the new home market is beginning to have its own revival. When you’re ready to buy or sell in the Stephens City, VA real estate market, be sure to give your Cornerstone Business Group, Inc., agent a call. We are your local real estate pros.


Stephens City, VA real estate market for the first quarter in 2016

#winchestervarealestate, #mikecoopersellshomes, #cornerstonehomesales


Winchester, VA Real Estate Market – January 2016

February 26th, 2016 by Mike Cooper

The Winchester, VA real estate market cleared a huge hurdle in January 2016. The number of distressed properties fell to 5% of the total market sales for the the month. That may sound like a lot, but that is more of an average number across the wide Winchester, VA real estate market.

The total number of distressed sales (short sales and foreclosures) in January2015 were 18%. A drop to 5% year to year is incredible. There were no disclosed short sales in the local market according to January 2016 MLS record. Foreclosures made up the full 5% (4) for the month.

The low level of distressed properties may be bad news for bargain hunters and house flippers, but it is great news for home sellers and buyers. Home sellers can anticipate more consistent prices and less volatility, and home buyers can expect better appraisals and home values on the purchases they are making.

There were 81 properties sold in the Winchester, VA real estate market in January 2016. The average sale price for a single family home was $247600, and the average days on the market was 74. Days on the market has crept up slightly over the past 18 months, but it hasn’t entered into an area of concern. A boost in the number of available homes in July of 2014 carried through until the Winter of 2015. The number of available properties extended the length of time a home sat on the market.

Today, the number of available homes has returned to the pre-July 2014 numbers (518). The lower inventory will likely spur more aggressive buying in the immediate future. A recent RealtyTrac study revealed that October was the best month to buy a home. It was followed by February, December and January.

Now is the time to get that house on the market folks. When you’re ready to sell, or buy, make sure to call your Cornerstone Business Group, Inc., agent because we are you local real estate sales pros.

Winchester, VA real estate market in January 2016

The unrealized costs of overpricing a home

March 2nd, 2015 by Mike Cooper

Sellers, there are more expenses to selling your home than commissions if you’re not ready to sell. One of worst things a seller can do is overprice his/her home when it first comes on the market. A small overage is one thing, but when that overage hits 10, 15, 20, 30% and beyond, it’s like burning dollars in your furnace to stay warm.

What are the unrealized expenses of overpricing a home? I only sayFrazzledunrealized because it seems that sellers are the last ones to realize the costs of overpricing. Let’s assume the house is in good condition, ready to show and is in a good location, but it’s priced too high. What are the unrealized costs?

  • The monthly expenses of maintaining a home that could be used in purchasing a new home. (Electricity, water, heating fuel)
  • The other periodic expenses that occur and need to be paid, such as: property taxes, insurance, maintenance costs, etc.
  • The expense of keeping the house ready to show. Who wants to keep their house ready to show seven days a week for six months, nine months or a year? You can never really take a day off from living in a museum.
  • The expense of having to pick up and leave the house for showings over and over. That may inspire more dinners out, more shopping trips and of course more inconvenience and more expense.
  • The expense of giving a neighbor an insight into what not to do when she’s ready to sell. She watches your unsuccessful attempt to sell your house and then lists hers for 10% less. It sells immediately. You blame it on your lame Realtor, but the truth is it’s your price.
  • The expense of stress on the family. If you have children or pets in your house the above issues also affect them. Kids can’t have kids over because they might have to leave at moments notice, dogs and cats end up crated for hours on end and neither can use the house the way they did before it was listed.

A house that sells quickly is just as likely to sell quickly because it was listed well rather than because it was listed low. When you hire an Realtor to sell your house, make sure your hire one that you have confidence in and then listen to his/her advice and insights into the local market.

A buyer will likely buy another house that is similar if the price is lower. No matter how wonderful your house is, it’s in competition with every house on the market. If your house is the most expensive one, it will likely sit longer than similar properties. Think about the unrealized costs of overpricing a home. When you’re ready to list your home, give your Cornerstone agent a call for an honest assessment of your home and it’s potential for a profitable sale in a reasonable time.

Check out Beth Atalay’s blog: You Are NOT Ready To Sell Your House Yet!! 

Winchester / Frederick County, VA 22602 Video Real Estate Market Update January 2015

February 26th, 2015 by Mike Cooper

View Mike Cooper’s Market Videos

Cut your overall mortgage expense by pre-paying principal.

November 30th, 2014 by Mike Cooper

Homeowners know that a mortgage is a great way to buy a house.  But, too many don’t realize just how much a mortgage can run the price of house up over the course of a loan.

If I told you that I would sell you a $200,000 house for $364,813.42 you would never do it, but a 30 year mortgage can run the purchase price of a house up $164,813.42 in interest at 4.5% over a 30 year mortgage.

There are ways to reduce that number that are simple and within reach.  Anytime you take out a mortgage, make sure you have the privilege of pre-paying principal without penalties.  Let me show you how this works.

Let’s start with a $200,000 mortgage with the first payment beginning January 1st.  Interest is loaded on the front of your mortgage, so your early payments are predominately interest.  Let me give you an example.  Payment one is $1013.37.  Of that fee, only $263.37 is paid on the principal.  The remaining $750.00 is interest.  On month 2, your second payment is $1013.37 of which $264.36 is principal and $749.01 is interest.

So, in two months, you have paid $527.73 in principal and $1499.01 in interest.  Now, if you add the principal of the second month with your first payment you can skip the interest on payment two.  So, on January 1 you would pay $1277.73.  That eliminates $749.01 in interest from your loan.  

In February, you would pay payment 3.  Payment 2 has been paid with the January payment – minus the interest which you won’t ever pay.  In February, if you paid the principal of month 4, $266.34, you can skip the interest of $747.03.  In two payments, you have reduced your overall mortgage costs by $1496.04 in interest.  If you repeat that every month throughout your mortgage, you can radically reduce the overall interest costs of your mortgage.  There is another way to pay your mortgage off early and reduce the overall interest.  I’ll show that in the next blog.


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