My Blog

Fall Landscaping Trends: Jewel Tones, Cozy Vibes

September 5, 2019

A newer color palette with jewel tones is taking hold in landscaping, and it’s among the hotter trends for this fall, according to the National Association of Landscape Professionals. Seventy-seven percent of Americans report relaxing in their yards at least once a month, according to a survey from Engine’s Caravan, conducted on behalf of the NALP. Carving out an inviting outdoor space is becoming increasingly important for homeowners.

The NALP recently released a list of its top outdoor fall staples for the coming season, including:

Jewel tones: The classic fall colors of orange, yellow, and red are getting competition from a newer palette this year with jewel tones, the NALP notes. “Sapphire blue, emerald green, amethyst purple, ruby red, and citrine yellow all bring warmth to fall landscape design,” the NALP notes. Landscapers recommend adding jewel tones to outdoor spaces through unique container gardens, decorative furnishings, and accessories. Also, seasonal plantings like pansies, celosia, dianthus, and black-eyed Susan also draw from the trendy hues.

Cozy outdoor living: Create an inviting outdoor space that you can still enjoy in the fall. Fire features continue to remain popular, whether one-touch natural gas, propane ignition, or traditional wood-burning options. Also, pergolas are gaining popularity, along with retractable canopies and heating systems that can extend their use in colder climates. “Signature features, like fire features and pergolas, complemented by comfortable seating and attractive and aromatic plantings and jewel tones, will bring resort-like comfort to homes,” the NALP notes.

The Top 4 Landscape Design Trends of Fall 2019,” National Association of Landscape Professionals (September 2019)
Posted by Yates Nobles on September 6th, 2019 4:57 PM
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - The Charlottesville Department of Utilities has partnered with the Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP) to launch the Charlottesville Gas Energy Efficiency Program (CGEEP). This weatherization pilot program is free to income-qualified residents who use Charlottesville Gas to heat their home or water, and is intended to increase the overall efficiency of their dwelling.

CGEEP will help residents reduce their utility costs, decrease Charlottesville and Albemarle County’s carbon footprint, and reduce water usage of area households. "LEAP is excited to partner with Charlottesville Gas to offer these no-cost-to-them services to residents. This program is unique to our area, and Charlottesville Gas should be congratulated for taking this initiative," said LEAP's Executive Director, Chris Meyer.

Income and appliance-qualified residents will work with a LEAP Home Energy Coach. The Energy Coach will perform a full energy audit of their home, and will select the most appropriate energy-saving measures, based upon the needs of the home and potential energy-efficiency improvement.  Residents will benefit from no-cost energy-efficiency upgrades, and from other energy-saving actions that will help the resident, the environment, and our community. Lauren Hildebrand, Utilities Director, says: “Charlottesville Gas is thrilled to give back to the community, and is excited to work with LEAP to help residents reduce energy bills and live more comfortably.”

CGEEP is available to Charlottesville Gas customers who live either in the City of Charlottesville or Albemarle County, and to both homeowners and renters alike; renters will need to seek written authorization from their landlord.  CGEEP compliments other available energy-efficiency programs by assisting natural gas households that would otherwise be unable to fully benefit from programs that target households powered solely by electricity.  CGEEP is available on a first-come, first-served basis, and funding and guidelines for this program may be changed or discontinued at any time.

All questions regarding CGEEP, and the application process, should be directed to Irene Peterson. She can be reached by phone at 434-970-3812, or by email

More information on CGEEP can also be found by visiting    
Posted by Yates Nobles on September 4th, 2019 1:10 PM

4 Overlooked Areas That Make a Big Difference in Staging

August 28, 2019

When you're staging properties for resale, you likely target all the main areas: decluttering the home, adding some fresh flowers, and fluffing the pillows. But® recently highlighted some other areas that are often overlooked when staging but can still make a big impact, including:

Tend to the mailbox.

Repaint the mailbox or make any repairs, particularly if it’s showing its age or leaning. “Replace the mailbox—literally the first thing people see,” Teris Pantazes, CEO and co-founder of SettleRite, a home improvement company in Baltimore, told®.


A reglaze of the tile or in the bathroom can give a modern update to a space. “The best tip I use to get top dollar for some of our houses is to reglaze an old bathroom that has a terrible color of tile—like pink or green,” Michael Pinter, a home flipper with LMPK Properties in Long Island, N.Y., told®. “We reglaze the bathroom white for a few hundred dollars, and a dated bathroom will look 30 years younger.”

Restore rooms to their purpose.

Make sure the spaces in the home are being used for their original purpose. As such, the dining room that is currently being used for a kid’s playroom should be restaged. “Buyers want to see the space used in a traditional way—with a dining table in the dining room, a desk and chair in the office—to envision themselves living there,”® notes.

Sell the love.

Don’t forget to sell the love and appreciation of a home. Russell Volk, a real estate pro with RE/MAX Elite in Bucks County, Pa., once had the home sellers write a one-page letter about the life in the house. “Their story of how they raised their family and what kind of experiences they had in the home was very personal and emotional,” says Volk. He framed the letter and placed it on the kitchen counter for potential buyers to read. “If sellers can connect with buyers on an emotional level, chances of buyers paying top dollar for the house drastically increase," says Volk.


Posted by Yates Nobles on August 28th, 2019 5:43 PM
Dear readers,
As a proponent of being green, e.g. environmentally friendly, I was pleased to see that the city of Charlottesville and also Dominion Power are offering advice and freebies to that end:
1.  Water Conservation - a free water conservation kit for city residents (from Offfice of Utility Billing in City Hall)  that comes with:
  •  a WaterSense labeled self-cleaning, massaging showerhead
  • A roll of extra heavy duty Teflon tape to help install the showerhead
  • A WaterSense labeled faucet aerator
  • A kitchen WaterSense labeled faucet aerator
  • A package of two toilet leak detection dye tablets
  • The City's $100 WaterSense labeled toilet rebate pamphlet
2.  Free old refrigerator pick-up plus $20 by Dominion Energy.  Go to or phone 877-785-6681.  

3. Composting: 3 quick & easy drop-off options (see below).  Learn more on Facebook @CvilleGreenCity and or phone  434-970-3808.
Drop-off options:
  1. City Market on Saturdays
  2. McIntire Recycling Center (6 days a week)
  3. Downtown (self-serve, every day)
What to compost:
fruit and vegetables, flowers & nuts, coffee grounds & filters, eggshells, grains & rice, meat & bones, milk & yoghurt, uncoated paper (napkins, paper towels), fats, cooking oils, greases, BPI certified compostable packaging.  But no yard debris or grass clippings.

More tips:
  • Get a free compostable bag at City Market drop-off station
  • Store food waste in compostable bag under your sink or near garbage pail
  • Drop off food scraps weekly at Cville City Market
  • If you can't drop off your compost for some time, freeze it to void unpleasant smells and drop it off when you have time.
Green houses:  Please contact me and I will help you find one!  One of my real estate certifications is GREEN.

Posted by Yates Nobles on August 27th, 2019 5:29 PM
Because of the bravery and sacrifices of veterans and active military, the rest of the country’s civilians can live the American dream in safety. As one tangible way to say "thank you for your service," current and former members of the military have access to Veterans Affairs home loans. These unique mortgage options allow veterans and those still serving to own a piece of the American dream by potentially qualifying for homes they might have thought were out of reach.

Veterans, active-duty service personnel, and select Reservists or National Guard members are among those who can quality for VA loans.  Wondering what some of the benefits of a VA loan might be? Here are five to consider.


1. No down payment

This is one of the most valuable and touted benefits—and for good reason. Saving enough for a down payment can be the biggest obstacle to buying a home. But a VA loan eliminates that roadblock.

Most buyers don’t have extra resources available, so the fact that they can purchase a home with zero down makes the transaction feasible.

But beware: The “no money down” aspect of a VA loan shouldn’t be confused with “no money out of pocket" a common misconception.

A VA loan still requires closing costs and the earnest money deposit (a negotiated amount of money that the buyer puts in escrow to essentially "hold" the house).

However, that money will often come back at the closing, when the title company will write a check back to the veteran on the spot for the total amount that was put into escrow.

2. More lenient loan requirements

The required credit score for a VA loan can be lower than for a conventional loan—around 620 for a VA loan- We can go as low as 580:)

In addition, the required debt-to-income ratio for VA loans is often more flexible than for conventional mortgages.  It allows someone with less-than-perfect credit and some debt to still be able to qualify for a loan. 

3. No mortgage insurance

Most conventional buyers have to pay private mortgage insurance if they put less than 20% down. FHA loans come with their own forms of mortgage insurance. But a VA loan waives that insurance requirement.

And trust us—this one's important!!!! 

This can be a big savings in monthly payments, since PMI typically runs around $200 a month (but can be lower)

Even though there's no mortgage insurance, there is a "funding fee"—an upfront cost applied to every purchase loan or refinance. The proceeds help the VA cover losses on the few loans that go into default. But borrowers can roll it into their monthly payment, or pay it all at once. Plus, it's tax-deductible. And veterans with a service-connected disability don’t have to pay the funding fee at all.

4. Limited closing costs

Legally, veterans are allowed to pay for certain closing costs, which include the following:

  • Appraisal
  • Credit report
  • Origination fee
  • Recording fee
  • Survey
  • Title insurance


But there are some fees that veterans are not allowed to pay. And the VA allows lenders to charge no more than 1% to cover the costs of originating and underwriting the loan.

So for example, if the purchase price is $280,000, the veteran might offer $300,000 and ask for 3% back to cover the closing costs.
In this way the veteran is essentially financing their closing costs into the loan, meaning less out of pocket at the start.

5. Extra assistance with appraisals

When a home that a veteran is considering purchasing is having trouble reaching the purchase price during the appraisal buyers and lenders can ask the VA appraiser to consider adjusting the valuation before making a final determination.

Appraisers notify lenders in the event the appraised value is likely to come in low, giving buyers and real estate agents 48 hours to supply additional information that the appraiser might not be aware of to help justify the home’s value.

Typically you can assemble an itemized list of upgrades and improvements that the seller has performed on the home in the past three years that the appraiser didn’t know about, and therefore didn’t include in the home value. 

This process gives the agents an opportunity to assist the appraiser in making sure they have the whole picture of the home and gives the local agent an opening to help an appraiser be educated on specific local values.

It's just another benefit of VA loans aimed at helping our service men and women buy the home of their dreams.
Posted by Yates Nobles on August 17th, 2019 7:42 PM
Dear Blog Followers,
One of my long-term clients has decided to move abroad and plans to put an eco-friendly home on 21 acres on the market in early spring.  Because the home has extraordinary features perfect for a buyer who would enjoy an indoor heated pool and a Japanese soaking tub in a separate wing of the home, I have obtained the owner's permission to give advance notice of the possibility that they would sell earlier than spring, with a good offer.  This one story home also has universal design which works for everyone, and fits in as part of sleek contemporary design, but is especially appreciated by those who have physical challenges.  This architect-designed home has been featured on HGTV.  This home offers an extraordinary opportunity.

For more specific information, please email me: and entitle your email "indoor pool home."  
Posted by Yates Nobles on August 13th, 2019 5:02 PM

Buyers May Have Even Tougher Time Finding a Home

August 13, 2019

Housing shortages likely will worsen over the next year as a shift in the housing market occurs, according to a report from®. That shift could make it tougher for home buyers to find a home to purchase, despite low mortgage rates that are making it increasingly attractive to do so.

Housing inventories could likely get near record lows by early 2020, says Danielle Hale,®’s chief economist. In June, the number of newly listed homes fell by 2.3% compared to a year ago.

At the beginning of the year, the housing market looked poised for a long-awaited turnaround for inventory levels. The number of listings increased 6.4% in January compared to the year prior. However, since that time, the rate of the increase has slowed significantly each month of this year,® notes.

Hale attributes the lower inventory of homes for sale to a multitude of reasons, including the preference of baby boomers to age in place rather than move; reduced consumer confidence in the economy; and “rate lock,” in which homeowners purchased a home or refinanced with a mortgage rate below today’s low rates. However, the “rate lock” may become less common as mortgage rates continue to fall. The latest average for the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 3.60% last Thursday, the lowest average since November 2016, according to Freddie Mac.

Number of Homes for Sale May Dip This Year, Report Says,” The Washington Post (Aug. 10, 2019)
Posted by Yates Nobles on August 13th, 2019 4:48 PM

Owners Spend More to Spruce Up Newer Homes Than Older Homes

July 17, 2019

Homeowners are spending more to improve their homes, not necessarily on home maintenance.

Homes may be aging in the U.S., but don’t assume the age of a home is prompting more spending. A new report from HomeAdvisor, a home remodeling resource, finds that homeowners spent $3.70 less for every year since a home was built. That means the owner of a 100-year-old home could spend an average of $370 less on emergency home projects per year than the owner of a new home, the study notes.

Researchers say the growing cultural focus on design aesthetics and quality of life as well as newer and better home improvement tools may be leading to the uptick in home improvement spending.

Room remodels have been the most popular home improvement projects, with bathrooms topping HomeAdvisor’s list. Homeowners also are prioritizing new appliances, roof replacements, and hardwood refinishing.

Overall, owners spent an average of $9,081 on home improvement, maintenance, and emergencies for 2018, according to the report. Spending per household on home services is up 17% in 2018 from 2017, according to HomeAdvisor’s newly released report, the “State of Home Spending Report,” which focuses on home service spending.

Motivations for home improvements can differ depending on age group. For example, millennials were more likely than other generations to say they completed home projects to increase their home’s value. Baby boomers and Generation X, on the other hand, tended to be more motivated to “modernize” their homes. Millennials and the silent generation also were motivated to “improve aesthetics and design.”

"It makes sense that first time home buyers complete more home improvement projects and spend more money on home services," says Mischa Fisher, HomeAdvisor's chief economist and author of the report. "Many of the millennials who bought a home in the last few years are seeking upgrades to increase the value of their homes and improve aesthetics. This focus on return on investment from millennials is likely due to a combination of typical youthful focus on wealth accumulation and their comparatively poorer financial situation driving a hunger to recover relative to their older cohorts."

Homeowners are spending more on home improvement projects than home maintenance projects, the report showed. For every $1 spent on home maintenance, homeowners spent an average of $5 on home improvement projects.

Homeowners should put aside money for house emergencies, financial experts say. One in three homeowners say they’ve completed an emergency home project, with the average cost about $1,206, over the past year, according to the study. Owners who live in areas prone to extreme weather events reported the highest spending from housing emergencies.

Posted by Yates Nobles on July 17th, 2019 12:58 PM

Suburbs Are Cool Again, and Younger Generations Swoop In

July 3, 2019

Many U.S. suburbs are seeing their populations grow as millennials move out of the city and head to the ‘burbs.

Apex, N.C., a suburb of Raleigh, is the fastest-growing suburb in the U.S., according to®. It has earned the nickname “Millennial Mayberry” as young adults flock to the town.

Following several years of urban growth, the suburbs are proving the place to be. They now account for 14 of the 15 fastest-growing U.S. cities with populations of more than 50,000, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

“The back-to-the-city trend has reversed,” William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, told The Wall Street Journal.

Millennials, especially those between the ages of 23 to 38 who may have been priced out of popular big cities, are now heading to suburbs like Frisco, Texas; Nolensville, Tenn.; Lakewood Ranch, Fla.; and Scottsdale, Ga.,® notes.

Millennials have been selective about which suburbs they choose to call home. Frey notes that suburbs with good weather, plenty of job opportunities, and those largely in the Sunbelt are growing more than double the rate as their neighboring cities. These suburbs are often within commuting distance to cities or they offer outposts of corporate businesses.

In the early 2010s, growth rates in the cities with populations greater than 250,000 far outpaced suburban growth. Over the last five years, that has changed. The average annual growth in larger cities has dropped by 40%, according to census data. The suburban areas surrounding the 50 largest metro areas comprise 79% of the population of those areas, according to a 2016 study by the Urban Land Institute’s Terwilliger Center for Housing.

A shortage of affordable housing in and around big cities may be prompting more people to head out to the suburbs again. Exurbs—those outlying counties of large metro areas—are seeing a spike in new-home construction that is luring new residents. Single-family construction permits increased 1.6% in the first quarter of this year compared to a year ago. On the other hand, in the most populated metro areas, single-family construction is dropping, the National Association of Home Builders reports.

American Suburbs Swell Again as New Generation Escapes the City,” The Wall Street Journal (July 1, 2019) [Log-in required.]
Posted by Yates Nobles on July 3rd, 2019 1:21 PM

8.2M Could Have Lower Mortgage Payments

July 2, 2019

Mortgage rates are dropping, giving millions of homeowners an opportunity to lower their monthly payments. An estimated 8.2 million borrowers could refinance and potentially lower their monthly payments by at least 75 basis points, estimates Black Knight, a mortgage software and analytics firm. This marks the largest percentage of homeowners who stand to benefit from lower mortgage rates since the end of 2016.

Last week, the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage reached a two-and-a-half-year low of 3.73%, Freddie Mac reports.

The average borrower stands to save about $266 per month on their mortgage by Refinancing, according to Black Knight. About 1.5 million borrowers—or 35% of those who took out their loans last year—could benefit from refinancing, the report notes. Refinancing can lower monthly payments and also provide access to money for homeowners who have substantial home equity. About 44 million borrowers have at least 20% equity in their homes. The average amount available to access is $136,000, Black Knight reports.

Borrowers, however, are being more conservative in tapping into home equity than in years past. About $54 billion was withdrawn in home equity in the first quarter of this year—the lowest amount in four years. Black Knight reports that less than 1% of available equity has been withdrawn.

Posted by Yates Nobles on July 2nd, 2019 2:33 PM


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