Winchester, VA Real Estate Sales
Mike Cooper
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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

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

February 26th, 2015 by Mike Cooper

Bicycle Outfitters is Coming to Winchester, VA

April 3rd, 2014 by Mike Cooper

Bicycle Outfitters is Coming to Winchester, VA

OK, Winchester, I have some inside information for you. There is another bicycle store coming to Winchester. Yes, a third bicycle shop, and you ask, “Do we really need a third bike shop?” What kind of question is that? Of course we need a third bike shop. As a two wheel geek, I love the idea of more bikes, riding gear and competition in the biking community.

How did I come by this inside information? My electrical contracting company is doing the wiring for the new store. Bicycle Outfitters will be the latest addition to the local bike enthusiast’s carbon fiber candy stores.

Bicycle Outfitters was established in 1988 as a sales and service bike store. They currently have stores in Leesburg, VA and Brambleton, VA. They carry a great line of bikes for riders of all levels. Their bike lines include, Trek, Gary Fisher, Cannondale, Felt, Giant and Raleigh. They have bikes for all ages, all sizes and all pocketbooks.

Bicycle Outfitters offers a full service department in each store. They pride themselves on great customer service and qualified mechanics who are dedicated to keeping your ride in top condition. No matter what level of bike rider you are, you can find a great bike at Bicycle Outfitters.

They’re also experts at fitting each rider to the right bike. Bike fitting is a science of aligning the human body with the right geometry in a bike. For instance, the length of the top tube, saddle height, angle of the knee at 6:00 o’clock and at the horizonal position make a big difference in a rider’s comfort level. If you’re not properly fit to a bike, you can develop pain in your knees, lower back, neck, shoulders, hands and wrists. Bicycle Outfitters will get you set up and ready for hours of fun cycling.

Look for a grand opening in mid-April 2014. The store will be located at 621 W Jubal Early Dr., Winchester, VA.

Everyday, the project gets a little closer and we are as excited about working on the building as the owners are for opening day. Is there room for another bike shop in Winchester, VA? You bet there is, and I welcome Bicycle Outfitters to the Winchester, VA bike scene. I’ll see you there in April. Let’s roll!

Bicycle Outfitters is Coming to Winchester, VA

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Saving money on your electric bills, part 2.

December 5th, 2013 by Mike Cooper

It would be difficult to exist without electricity. We’ve come to depend on it to light our homes, cook our food and even to charge our electronic devices. It’s essential, but it can be expensive. In a previous blog, I talked about a couple ways to reduce your electricity consumption. Today, I want to take that another step forward.

The one item in most homes that constantly consumes a lot of electricity is the water heater. I’m sure you’ve probably heard that a water heater timer can save you money, but how much money? If you realize that your electric water heater is 15% of your total electric bill, you can soon calculate the savings by cutting back on the power consumption of that one device.

A typical electric timer from Intermatic or Tork will cost you about $50.00. If you install it yourself, you can start saving right away and you will likely recoup your expense in a couple months. There are two times in most homes that water consumption reaches its peak. That is in the morning and in the late afternoon to mid-evening.

In my house, I decided there was no reason to heat water at 2:00 am. So, I set my water heater to turn off at 8:00 pm and to come back on at 5:30 am. It goes off again at 10:00 am and comes back on at 3:00 pm.

If the water isn’t being used throughout the day, it will stay hot most of the day. If you find that you need more hot water, you can manually turn the heater back on, or you can change your timer settings.

My heater is off 14.5 hours a day. I only pay to heat my water for 9.5 hours a day. Newer water heaters have great insulation jackets built in, but if you have an older model, an insulation jacket may be picked up at most hardware stores. It also pays to insulate the pipes for at least the first 15 feet from the unit. If you can go further, it’s better even better.

You can also change your water heater to a tank-less water heater. There are positive and negative sides to a tank-less system. Make sure you do your research related to the costs of equipment, installation expenses and estimated savings per year. How long will it take you to recover your investment and then begin monthly saving? A water heater timer will return your investment in a few months or less. For most of us, this is the fastest and least expensive way to save on hot water.

 

Saving on your electric bill, Part 1.

December 4th, 2013 by Mike Cooper

Everybody loves to save money. One of the easy areas to cut your monthly expenses is on your electric bill. There are multiple products on the market today that can cut your electric bill and still deliver the same quality service you’re accustomed to.

When my sons were young, they had a propensity to enter a room, turn on a light and leave with the light still on. Initially, it was irritating, but over time, rather than get frustrated with them I did something to make sure that it was no longer an issue. I installed a motion sensing light switch in the area where the lights were the most likely to be left on by unconscious boys (and adults).

The motion sensing switches are reasonably inexpensive too (approximately $20). The way they work is that when you enter a room the swtich senses your presence and the lights come on. When you leave the room, the lights will stay on at a predetermined time (mine is set for 5 minutes), and then they automatically cut off. There is no flipping switches. You just walk in, and you walk out. The motion sensing switch does all the work for you. No more lights left on.

The second cost cutting device I incorporated into my home was a digitial timer switch. In my case, this switch is used for exterior lights. The switch will only allow the lights to be on during predetermined times. I use this one on a rental property that I rent out for weekend retreats. Those who use the property have been notorious for leaving a high intensity fixture on for days (and weeks) on end. So, I installed a timed switch. This switch allows me to have it come on automatically at a specific time (typically dusk), and then it turns itself off at a specific time.

These switches can be installed by a homeowner. They have good instructions, but if you feel uncomfortable dealing with electricity, by all means call us to have them installed. If you do decide to install them yourself, please turn the power off on the circuits associated with the switches, read the instructions well and install the device. Reinstall the device into the box, turn the power back on and test. If everything is done correctly, you will be on the path to saving money.

 

Black Friday and Multiple Real Estate Offers

November 29th, 2013 by Mike Cooper

I’m off on a long weekend relaxing and enjoying the ocean. During a moment of temporary insanity, I decided to drop by a few of my favorite stores. In the midst of my adventure, it dawned on me that it’s Black Friday. I’m sure that should be changed to Black and Blue Friday.

It was entertaining to watch all of the bargain crazed shoppers. Each one trying to get that one item that was 50% off from 10:00 am to 10:15 am. Pushing, shoving, shouting, elbowing, tripping, griping, grumbling, stumbling, fumbling, well, you get the idea. I know it has to be stressful for all involved. I was mostly window shopping, so I didn’t really care what the ninja shoppers were up to.

It made me think of the stress buyers go through when they are buying in a hot market where multiple offers are the norm. These Black Friday shoppers could do a number of things to avoid the stress, but that’s not the purpose of this blog. What can buyers in a hot market do when they are confronted with buying challenges? Buyers:

  • When you find a house you are really enamored of, remember, “Don’t fall in love with anything that can’t love you back.” A house is just a house. If you miss this one, there is a great chance that a better one is just around the corner.
  • Always know the market. Ask your Realtor to keep you up to date on properties in your market criteria, and make sure you have good comps to make sure you’re not getting carried away with the multiple offer madness. It’s easy to over offer on a house because of the bidding war. The problem you may run into is that the house will not appraise for the offer amount, and you will have to ask the seller to drop the price to meet your appraisal or you’ll have to bring more money to closing, or worst case scenario, you’ll give up the offer.
  • Keep looking during the process. You don’t need to make offers on other properties, but if you find one that better suits your desires, pull out of the bidding war and buy the property that isn’t being fought over.
  • Make a buying plan and stick to it. You may increase your purchase price a little if it’s within reason, but increasing 20-40% is not a rational purchase. (See the first point) My younger son put an offer on a house this past summer. The house sold for 40% over list. His offer was 20% over list. That was a limit of what was sane for that particular house. The buyer bought beyond value of the house by $20000. Why? Multiple offer hysteria.
  • Put your best foot forward first. You may end up in a multiple offer situation, but there may be no second chances to make a highest and best offer.
  • Be willing to walk away. There is no logical reason to pay too much for a home when there are homes you can afford that meet your needs, wants and desires.

Black Friday is only one day a year, but multiple offer scenarios can pop up at any time. Be ready with a plan to engage when you find a property that catches your eye, but also be ready to move on. Don’t get caught up with the craziness. It will blind you to other opportunities.

Black Friday and Multiple Real Estate Offers

 

T’was the night before Thanksgiving . . .

November 27th, 2013 by Mike Cooper

 

It was the night before Thanksgiving, and all through the house, everyone was 

sleeping, even the mouse.

They were dreaming of turkey, potatoes and dressing, macaroni and cheese and biscuits and blessings.

Their plates would run over, but they would finish each bite in hopes of returning for seconds that night.

They would retreat to the sofa and drift off to sleep, the TV would blare, but they would not make a peep.

Before it was over, they would wake and eat pie, and when it was bedtime, they would let out a sigh.

What a meal they had eaten, and a good time they had, their tummies were full and everyone glad.

For one day in November many thanks were remembered, and they planned to repeat it next month in December.

                         

 

 

Winchester, VA is one of the top 100 smartest towns in America.

November 16th, 2013 by Mike Cooper

Winchester, VA is one of the top 100 smartest towns in America.

OK, I hate to brag, but Winchester, VA was listed in the 100 smartest towns in the America. Harrisonburg, Charlottesville and Blacksburg (college towns) were also in the top 100.

So, if you’re thinking or relocating, and you want to be around smart people, Winchester has your ticket. Winchester, VA is one of America’s top 100 smartest towns. Make sure to call your Cornerstone Business Group, Inc. agent and we’ll find you the perfect home.

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Enjoy the beauty of the downtown walking mall in Winchester, VA

September 9th, 2013 by Mike Cooper

Come to Winchester, VA and enjoy the beauty of the downtown walking mall.  It offers something for everyone.  Enjoy the promo video.

Downtown Winchester Video

When you’re ready to buy a home in Winchester, VA, give us a call at Cornerstone Business Group, Inc., 888-722-6029.

A few things you should know about your heating/cooling system

August 23rd, 2013 by Mike Cooper

A few things you should know about your heating/cooling system

I have no problem having a “hot” wife, but when that means the air conditioner is not working correctly it can be a problem. I just spent my Thursday servicing our heating / cooling system and there are a few things the average homeowner should know about his/her HVAC system. Every repair is not a replacement.

  • Most problems with your HVAC system are electrical, not refrigerant based. Periodically, refrigerant will seep out of your system, but that means you have a leak. Most problems are related to things like sequencers, switches, transformers, capacitors, etc.
  • If you change your filters regularly, you will lengthen the life of your air handler. I would encourage you to avoid the Hepa filters that are designed to keep allergens down. They starve your air handler of the vital air it needs to thrive. I had to replace my office rooftop unit a few years ago because I installed two of the most restrictive Hepa filters I could find. My secretary had allergies. So, I changed them to assist her. It cost me $10,000 in replacement costs. Now, I change the filters every month or two, and I have no problem. A $1 filter will last 30-60 days. You can buy them in bulk and change them regularly. Air is the lifeblood of your system. Cut if off, and you’re setting yourself up for big bills.
  • If your AC suddenly seems to not work, place your hand over a vent and see what the air flow feels like. If the air is barely coming out, you may have an A coil plugged. If you checked your filters and they were clean, look to the A coil for a blockage. If you have a dog that sheds, he might be the culprit. Hair that passes the filter will pack on the bottom side of the A coil (inside your air handler). AC works when the refrigerant coil (A coil) cools and then air passes by it to bring cool air to your rooms. If dog hair passes your filter, it will pack on the bottom of the A coil. When enough packs in that area, it will restrict air flow. Before a technician replaces your blower motor (which will not solve the problem), have him check the A coil for blockage.
  • If you see water on the floor around your air handler, you likely have a condensate blockage. On many systems, there is a condensate line which collects the water the unit is pulling out of the air. The water is sent to a drain, directly outside, or it is sent to a condensate pump which will pump it outside or into a drain. There is a tendency for mold to form in the opening of the line where it meets the air handler (most likely a white PVC line). If that line is installed correctly, it is likely to have a cap on top that can be removed for cleaning. You can pull that cap off and use a small tip to vacuum out any mold build up (a typical pipe cleaner will work too). If you can drop a small piece of a chlorine tablet in that line (don’t block the water flow, keep it small) it will keep the mold from forming.
  • Check the visible coils to your exterior heat pump or air conditioner. If you see a build up of dirt, leaves or other substance on the coils, you can purchase a can of an aerosol coil cleaner at most big box home improvement stores. Turn the system off, spray the coils, let it foam and then rinse it off with a garden hose. You don’t want to have the spray on full force. Let the cleaner just rinse it off. Let it dry, and turn the system back on.
  • Don’t put a cover directly above your outside unit. It needs room to let air escape through the top.
  • Don’t pack boxes and other storage items around our interior air handler. This is especially important if it is a gas unit. The unit needs to breathe. If you rob it of air you stand the chance of releasing carbon monoxide into your home. Don’t ever block the unit. I’m installing a door in a rental we manage because whoever finished the basement put a wall 10″ in front of the unit. It’s nearly impossible to change the gas igniter.
  • In the cold months, if you have a gas furnace and you notice that you suddenly have no heat, it is most likely a gas igniter. They tend to crack during the summer cooling period. If you pull the door off the front of your unit, you will see multiple ports where long tubes run from front to back. They are the gas tubes. In one of those ports is a little gray/black porcelain igniter. If it has formed a crack, it will have a faint white line across it. It’s a $20 repair if you do it yourself. It’s $150+ if you have it done.
  • If the system is not working at all, check the breaker. They do go bad. We inspected a client’s system last summer. The HVAC tech that he called wanted to replace it at $3000. He asked us to give him a second opinion (we don’t service HVAC equipment typically, but this was a old client). The breaker running the system had gone bad. It was a $75 repair.
  • If you hear a banging outside when your outdoor unit is running, your fan motor or fan blades have likely gone bad. It will normally be obvious.
  • Pay the bucks to have your system serviced once a year by a good tech if you feel uncomfortable doing it yourself.

If you are handy with tools, many of the items listed above are simple enough that the average homeowner can do them. If you’re uncomfortable doing your own repairs, keep the info above so you can ask the tech questions. They will be surprised that you know anything about your system, and they will less likely to take advantage of you.