Tag: #homesforsalerichmond

Greek Style Meatballs

Greek style meatballs
  • 1/2 red onion, grated
  • 1 lb ground turkey or beef
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 grated zucchini
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs 
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 6 large mint leaves, finely chopped 
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • feta cheese (to taste)
  1. Grate the onion and zucchini into a large bowl, then add remaining Meatball ingredients through black pepper. Use your hands to mix well for a few minutes until the mixture is quite smooth and very well combined.
  2. Then roll into balls.
  3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook meatballs until browned.
  4. Add diced tomatoes and cook until meatballs are cooked through.
  5. Sprinkle with feta cheese


Note: I’ve served these with rice, pasta or pita bread

Common myths that stop renters from becoming buyers

I’m a real estate agent who specializes in helping people who are renting become homeowners. I can’t and won’t tell you that buying a house is the best choice for you. (It’s not for everyone.) But there are a few common myths or misunderstandings that stop people who should buy a house from doing so.

  1. You can’t afford to buy a house. If the reason you’re renting is because you simply think you can’t afford to buy, you can know pretty quickly and easily. All it takes is reaching out to a mortgage professional to get “pre-approved” for a mortgage. They’ll not only let you know if you can afford to buy, but also how much you can afford to spend. Maybe you can even qualify for a mortgage and find a house that only costs you as much or less than you’re already paying in rent every month!
  2. You could never save enough for a down payment. But what you may not know is there are mortgages out there that require low down payments. In fact, depending on your rent, a down payment could be equivalent to having to pay a landlord: security deposit, last month’s rent and possible pet deposits…before you can move in.
  3. The cost of upkeep and repairs are too high. True enough. You aren’t responsible for the upkeep or repairs in your rental…But you also have little or no say about what gets fixed, when it gets fixed, or the quality of the work. And you don’t have any say in making improvements
  4. You don’t want all their money to be tied up in a house. People claim they want their money to be “liquid” (available to use), or that it’s better off being invested another way, making them more money. That’s OK if the person has a lot of liquid cash tied up in a way that’s actually making them money, or they truly need the money they have to be available for some other reason. It’s really a personal decision when it comes to this.
  5. The market might crash. They’re afraid that they’ll buy a house, and then the market will decline and it won’t be worth as much as they paid for it. Sure, the market could “crash”. Or it might not “crash” (that’s pretty drastic). Real estate values go up and down. Historically, values go up. They might dip, but then they do eventually surpass where they’ve ever been before.
  6. You want the freedom to pack up and go. Good thought but most people aren’t just packing up and moving to Bali (or wherever else) making a living online (or doing whatever else). Sorry, not trying to be a buzzkill…
  7. You have poor credit. If this is your main reason for renting, you might be in luck…There are lenders who have mortgage products for people with lower credit scores. And if your credit score is too low, and you can’t qualify for a mortgage at this time, you can repair your credit and raise your score in a short period of time.
  8. It’s too soon or too late to buy a home. There’s never a perfect time to buy a house. Either they still have too many months to go on their lease, or not enough time before they have to sign another one. There are a couple of ways to deal with this: Can you break your lease with little or no penalty? If so, great, you have a lot of flexibility to buy a house or If you can’t break your lease without a hefty penalty, then you just need to plan ahead.
  9. The process is too overwhelming. Actually, buying a house can be complicated and overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be. The problem for most people is they try to do a lot of the process alone. Maybe it’s to avoid having to deal with real estate agents…But when you work with a real estate agent who is truly on your side the process isn’t overwhelming or complicated.
  10. I can’t get the home I desire. Unfortunately, everyone has a budget. Even people with the highest budget you can imagine go through the same thing. Everyone seems to want just a little bit more than they can afford at the moment. It’s simply human nature. To quote Jack Welch: “Deal with reality as it is, not as you wish it to be.”
  11. It’s too much of a financial commitment. It certainly is a financial commitment. But so is renting! When you sign a lease, you’re committing to pay someone a certain amount, each month, for a period of time. There are penalties for breaking a lease or for not paying.

If you already know the benefits of buying a home, and just aren’t sure where to begin, just give me a call or send me an email and I can get you pointed in the right direction.

There are a lot of ways and places to get pre-approved, but I have a few lenders that I trust and recommend. Feel free to reach out to me.


Happy Clients Realty Group
Mobile – 832-418-0670

Concerned about mortgage rates going up?

You might have heard that mortgage interest rates are going up.

Most of the time, the question is asked by people who are thinking of buying a home. It makes total sense that they would be concerned about whether the rates are going up or not.

But what most people don’t consider is the effect it can have on someone considering selling their home.

Before we go further…

Whether or not interest rates are going to rise is kind of a constant topic in real estate. They go up, and they go down constantly. But not by all that much usually. But the buzz lately is whether they are about to go up considerably.

The fact is, rates have been historically low for so long now. And at some point, yes, they probably will go up a good amount. With that said, people have been expecting it to happen for years.

So, the only real answer to whether rates are going up is… maybe… maybe not. Only time will definitely tell.

But the concern is valid. Yes, for buyers. But also for sellers


  • It could lower the amount buyers are willing to pay for houses.
  • It could lower the amount buyers are able to pay for a house.
  • It could slow the market down…buyers could decide to stop buying as readily.
  • It could knock buyers completely out of the market.
  • It could affect you as a buyer once you sell your home and purchase your move-up, or downsize home.

This is not to say that you should base your decision to sell your home solely on the possibility of interest rates going up. There is certainly more to consider.

But if you’ve been considering selling, and you have been concerned with the chatter about interest rates, let’s just talk.

These are general thoughts…

Everyone’s situation is different. Maybe interest rates going up would affect you…but maybe not.

Feel free to give me a call, or simply reply to this e-mail.

Would you please bother me?

“I didn’t want to bother you. I know how busy you are…”

I hear that from past clients, friends, and even family, all the time.

But, at that point, it’s too late. And I’m not talking about it being too late for me to make money…

I’m talking about mistakes having been made, and regrets seeping in. And, at that point, there is nothing I can do to help.

So, it just occured to me that it would probably help if I just reached out to you, to let you know that you can and should call me. Anytime. For any real estate need or question. Before you find yourself in the same position as some other folks.

I know how busy you are, so I won’t go into every detail, of every scenario I’ve seen happen in this e-mail.

Here’s a short list, just to give you an idea…

But please, if you want more insight on any of these, give me a ring, or reply to this e-mail, and I’m happy to get into more detail with you.

1. You just want to go see a house that is on the market…

(Yes, even if you aren’t serious about buying it. I won’t be pushing you to buy the house. I will be protecting you from making any regrettable decisions. Unfortunately, I hear from people after they got swept up in the moment and bought a house, and they are feeling regret, or have questions about the process or their decision. At that point, I can’t chime in. Because another agent represents them.)

2. You want to know how much your home is worth.

(Yup, I know all about all of those websites that show you the value of your home. And I know how inaccurate they are. Whether you are just curious, are wondering if it makes sense to sell, or need to get a handle on your net worth…just call me. I will give you an accurate value of your home. My pleasure. Not a bother at all.)

3. You are considering a home improvement project.

(Almost any project you choose to do will certainly raise the value of your home. But, will it raise the value more than it cost you? Better to know whether or not it is money worth spending before you even start.)

4. You are thinking of refinancing.

(Being in the business, I get to know who the good lenders are, and who the not-so-good ones are. I hear way too many horror stories from people about the process being horrendous with such-and-such bank. Or that they felt duped because they were quoted one rate, and were ultimately given a higher rate. Just call me, and I’m glad to give you the names of some people I would trust handling your needs.)

5. You don’t even work in my area.

(Even if you live hundreds of miles away, I can help… before you decide to buy or sell a house. I can’t chime in once you are represented by an agent. But if you call me before, I can remain involved and add my two cents, as long as I have referred you to the agent you use. And I can really help find you a great agent in your area. It’s not always the one with all the signs and sales! Let me do some digging before you just hire anyone.)


Like I said, this is not a thorough list. I just wanted to give you a sense of some things you may not have wanted to “bother” me with, that I would never consider to be bothersome.

So, would you please “bother” me? It will only bother me if you don’t!

Avoid These Mistakes Before Your Closing Day

Don’t let a small mistake ruin your chances to close on your home. Lenders are checking employment and credit up through the day of closing. You spend days going through the finance procedure and you finally received approval for a mortgage loan. It’s time to celebrate, right?

Not yet! Your lender will recheck your credit right before closing. Don’t give them a reason to deny your loan. Nothing is official until everything is signed and funded. Avoid these most common mistakes:

1. Changing jobs

Changing employers could mean delays due to employment and salary verifications or possibly cause your lender to deny your loan. If you can wait, wait. It’s not worth the risk.

2. Making a big purchase

You need new furniture, a new car, a boat etc. Your debt-to-income ratio is an important factor when being considered for a loan. If you add to your debt by making a large purchase, you risk exceeding the ratio that your lender finds acceptable.

3. Opening credit accounts

You might apply for a credit card so you’re ready to buy furniture for your new house. But similar to taking on new debt, applying for a new credit account can harm your mortgage approval. The credit inquiry necessary for the new account will ding your credit score a few points.


When in doubt it’s best to consult your lender before making any changes to your finance.

Wire and mail fraud

Unfortunately there are scammers everywhere and there are many that involve real estate transactions. Here are a few to avoid:

Wire Fraud

Hacker will send you an email acting as your Realtor® or title company. They will provide wire instructions for your down payment and closing costs. These emails look very real.

The hacker will provide their bank information and the buyer/seller will send the funds to the hacker’s account. A Realtor® (including myself) will never send you wire information.

One of the way to avoid this is by calling the title company and confirming the banking information before you initiate a transfer. Alternatively, you can bring a cashier’s check to the closing.

Get verification of the transfer ASAP. If you suspect a scam, have the  receiving bank freeze any withdrawal attempt of the newly deposited  funds—if you’ve reached the bank in time, that is.

Mail Fraud

You will get lots of mail from different people offering to submit your homestead application or offering you copies of deed or other documents.

Scammers are contacting new home buyers with a seemingly legitimate solicitation offering to send a copy of their property deed and other information for a fee. Those documents are mailed to you free after a sale or transfer. And if you need another copy, you can order one through your county clerk’s office for a few dollars

You might get an offer for a property profile, which comes with information such as transfer histories, property lines, county tax amounts, even the number of rooms … basically everything you need to know about your house.  It’s all information that is either not needed, or already known.

Generally, if you receive a solicitation asking for more money after your closing, it isn’t legitimate. But if you aren’t sure or want more information, contact your county clerk’s office or your real estate agent.

Moving Check List

It’s Finally Time to Move!

Below you will find a moving checklist

2 months before

  • Start sorting your belongings into “what to donate” and “what to keep” piles. Start getting rid of items you don’t plan on taking to your new home.
    • Sell/Donate to your friends
    • Hold a garage sale
    • Sell items online (Craigslist, Facebook, eBay etc.)
    • Donate to charities (get a tax receipt)
  • Avoid the last-minute pile of trash on the curb—start throwing away anything that can’t be donated, sold or gifted.
  • Make a room-by-room inventory of your home. Note and photograph any existing damage to your furniture, so you know who’s responsible for what on delivery day.
  • Research your moving options, and request on-site quotes from at least three moving companies**
  • Make a “moving” binder, which will include all your important contact info, estimates, receipt and other important documents.
  • If school districts are being switched, make sure you make the appropriate arrangements to transfer the records to the new school.

6 weeks before

  • Purchase bubble wrap, boxes, packing tape, and other necessary supplies.
  • Start using up existing stock of cleaning supplies, frozen foods, and any other items that cannot be moved, particularly on a long-distance relocation.

1 month before

  • Pack occasionally used items, number and label each box with the intended room and its contents.
  • Put important files and jewelry in a box, which you will move yourself personally.
  • Set aside a box with all the items required on moving day, such as small pieces needed for re-assembling furniture, tools, etc.
  • Request a copy of your family’s dental and health records  from your current provider(s).
  • Collect things you have loaned out and return borrowed items.

2 weeks before

  • Choose your preferred moving company and confirm the arrangements.
  • If you are changing banks, do not forget to close out safety deposits.

1 week before

  • Switch to another pharmacy and/or refill prescriptions.
  • Finish your general packing a few days before moving day.
  • Pack suitcases with clothes enough to wear for a number of days.
  • Let your credit card companies, employer, banks, insurers, and utility companies know about your move.
  • Transfer or start and stop utility service at your new and old addresses for the following:
    • Electric
    • Water
    • Gas
    • Telephone
    • Cell phone
    • Cable/Satellite and internet
    • Sewer
    • Trash collection
  • If you are using a moving company remember to discard aerosols, flammables, ammunition or bottled gas. Be sure to check with your moving company for other prohibited items
  • Make arrangements to rent a storage unit, if necessary
  • Schedule/hire a cleaning company for the week of your move.

A few days before

  • Empty and clean your refrigerator.
  • Once again, call the moving company and reconfirm the arrangements.
  • Keep cash in hand if you plan to give the movers tips.
  • If you’re switching banks, remember to clean out your safety deposit box.
  • Fill out the change of address form either at the post office or online at usps.gov.
  • Pack a bag of essentials for moving day and your first night, including a change of clothes, toiletries, napkins and towels, soap, shower curtains, important documents and electronic devices.

Moving day

  • Remove the beddings
  • Leave a forwarding address and other contact information for the new residents; after all, they could have a few questions.
  • Walk through your home one last time, before the moving truck heads out, to ensure nothing has been missed.

**It’s important to research movers and ask the right questions before you decide in a company.

Questions to Ask:

  • Insurance? – Basic insurance for most companies is 60 cents a pound. You can buy your own insurance as well.
  • Binding Quotes? – Is this quote binding? Is it a “not to exceed” quote?
  • Transfers? – Will my goods be on the same truck for the whole trip or will it be transferred to another truck at some point?
  • Extra Charges? – Does the quote include awkwardly sized objects, parking, storage, fuel, etc.?
  • What payment forms/terms do you accept? – Be leery of cash-only companies.
  • Mover or Broker? – Are you talking to the mover or to a broker working for moving companies?
  • Who’s Responsible? – If anything is damaged, who is accountable for the damage?

Many moving company tend to have bad reviews. The most common complaints include hefty price increases over original estimates, missing items, and goods held hostage until additional payment was made.


Here are the most common moving scams:

1. Low Estimate, Inflated Price

The most common scam is the bait-and-switch tactic. Movers will offer a low-ball estimate then on moving day you are told the load is larger than expected and they will need to increase the price. Some movers will keep your items hostage until additional funds are paid.

Ask what the quote covers. Movers can inflate the price by charging you extra for packing supplies or moving blankets.

Research the company and ask for referrals. Ask the mover to come by and review the items to be moved so there are no misunderstandings. Do not rely on over the phone quotes.

2. Lost or damaged items

During a move, valuables like jewelry and antiques might “disappear.” Its best for you to pack your valuable items in a box you can personally move.

Items also could get damaged. You can acquire insurance to cover damages or loss.

3. Hourly Estimates

When getting hourly quotes, ask in advance how many men will be present and how many hours are expected. You might get one company that will send out 4 movers and it might take 2 hours; another company might send 2 movers and it can take 7 hours.

Remember if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

4. Large Deposit

A mover may ask for a small amount of money in advance but if they request a large deposit, be concerned. The best company will require payment once your items have been delivered.

If you have anything else to add let me know :)

What are earnest funds?

Earnest funds are one of a few funds you will need before you close on your home. It can be found in section 5 of the sales contact.

Earnest money is a deposit made to a seller showing the buyer’s good faith in a transaction. Typically it’s equal to 1% of the sales price. These have to be deposited with the title company within 3 days or less of an executed contract. These funds are held by a title company in an escrow account.

Once a buyer and a seller enter into a contract. The buyer may or may not be able to reclaim his or her earnest money, depending on how the contract is phrased. Contracts will typically have contingencies written in to protects the buyer and allows them an out if the home’s inspection is unacceptable or if the home does not appraise for the agreed upon sales price.

The contract does not protect the sellers from these unknowns but they take the home off the market while the home gets inspected and appraised. To prove that the buyer is serious, they will offer earnest funds, in good faith for the time the home is off the market. If the seller terminates the deal, the earnest money will be returned to the buyer.

These funds are not in addition to your sales price; The buyer receives a credit for these funds at closing. 

  • Never give an earnest money deposit directly to the seller. The check should never be made out to the seller. It should be made out to the title company.
  • Get a receipt.
  • Don’t pay the earnest funds in cash. These need to be paid by personal check or cashier’s check

There are ways that you can lose your earnest money deposit.

  1. Default of contract. Are you trying to cancel the contract outside your options? This might be default and could cost you the earnest funds
  2. You waived your contingencies –  If the buyer waives their contingencies, they will lose their earnest funds if they should cancel or not be able to obtain financing.
  3. The buyer does not meet the deadlines specified within the contract and the seller and buyer can’t reach an agreement for the contract expires. Extension must be made in writing and signed off by both the seller and the buyer
  4. The buyer gets cold feet and he/she cancels the contract outside of their option period.
  5. The buyer wasn’t able to get financing due to reasons that could have been avoided:
    1. An increase in buyer’s debt (purchase a new car, purchased furniture, made any large purchase before closing)
    2. Quits his/her job
    3. Make a mystery deposit into their account and won’t explain why
    4. Co-signs a loan
    5. Opens new credit cards
    6. Spend the funds earmarked for your down payment and closing costs

When in doubt speak to you lender!

Upon cancellation, the sellers and buyers are asked to sign mutual earnest funds release form. If an agreement cannot be reached, the party holding the earnest money deposit will continue to hold it until an agreement is reached.

Remember before you sign a contract, chat with your agent and make sure that you cover all your options.

sample 1-4 resale contract

Pricing your Home

Correct Pricing is Critical

Pricing your home correctly from the very start is the single most important thing you can do to ensure a successful sale – one that is quick and puts the most money in your pocket.

Homeowners are often tempted to set the initial list price higher than fair market value because they think they can simply lower the price later if the property doesn’t sell. Most people don’t realize, however, that setting the price too high in the beginning can drastically increase the time it takes to sell and typically achieves a final sale price that is well below market value.

  • The higher the list price, the more buyers will automatically exclude your property from consideration. By pricing your property at fair market value, you increase the number of potential buyers.
  • A listing generates intense interest during its first two weeks on the market, but activity drops off by more than 80% in the third week and beyond – subsequent price reductions notwithstanding. A property that is priced too high will not get the necessary attention during this critical period of peak activity.
  • Buyers are wary of price-reduced property, thinking something might be wrong with it or that it may still be priced too high.

Statistics clearly indicate that the longer a property is on the market, the lower the final sale price will be. Properties that sell in the first four weeks typically achieve a sale price within 1.9% of their fair market value. This discount increases to 3.6% after four weeks on the market, 5.6% after 12 weeks, and 8.9% after 24 weeks! By pricing your home correctly from the start, you greatly increase your chances of selling your home faster and for more money.

As experts in your neighborhood, my team and I have the knowledge and experience to choose the best list price for your property. Our goal is to maximize your proceeds while minimizing the time it takes to sell your property. 

For more info:

Pricing your home

In a neighborhood of similar homes, why is one worth more than another?

The answer is simple. Every home is different. When a home is sold, a willing seller and a willing buyer have just announced to the world the value of that home. From there, other similar homes are benchmarked, but other factors come into play. The most important are:

Location – The closer a home is to jobs, parks, transportation, schools, and community services, the more desirable it is. The opposite can happen if the home is located near a railroad track, next to a busy street, built in immediate proximity to power lives or cell towers, an airport, etc.

Size – Square footage impacts home values because they’re built using more materials. Larger lot sizes mean more privacy. Today, family members want more privacy. The median home purchased today is a three-bedroom, two-bath home. It is easier to sell a 3 bdrm, 2 bath home, than a 2 bdrm 1 bath home. The larger home favors more potential buyers.

Features and finishes – Features such as outdoor kitchens and spa baths make a home more luxurious. A home finished with hardwood floors and granite countertops is going to cost more than a home with carpet and laminate countertops.

Condition – The closer a home is to new construction, the more it will retain its value. It’s perceived as more modern, up to date, and perhaps safer. Homes that are not updated or in poor repair sell for less. It’s a good idea for homeowners to keep their homes updated and in top repair.

Curb appeal – From the street, the home looks clean, fresh, and inviting. Fresh landscaping and flowers won’t change the size or location, but they certainly add charm. When two homes are identical in the same neighborhood, a higher price may come down to something as simple as views, or paint colors, or the overall taste of the homeowner.

Valuing a home will never be an exact science, but if you buy wisely, keep your home updated and in good repair, you should recoup most if not all of your investment. Maybe even gain equity over time.

Source: HAR.com