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Thursday, August 3, 2017

Why You Need to Test for Radon Gas


Having the radon level tested in a home is a very important step in the real estate process that can actually save lives.

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Radon gas is something that’s around us all the time and could impact the real estate process. This is because it can become concentrated in places like basements, where it is typically tested for. So what does this mean for you?

Radon gas exposure is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. This is a topic that comes up a lot in the real estate process because it’s a standard contingency in our area. Thankfully, there are a few ways to identify and deal with it.

Whether you’re on the buyer or seller side of a real estate transaction, you are likely to go through the radon testing process. 

In most cases, this involves having an inspector come to the house to place a test that will read radon levels for 48 hours. After that time, it will give you an average reading from which you can determine whether or not there is a problem that needs to be dealt with. 


Specifically, you will look whether the test is above or below the 4.0 EPA action level. If the test comes in above this level, however, it doesn’t mean that you will be unable to buy or sell the house. 


The radon level can be reduced through a very standard process which will leave the home safe.

The radon level can be reduced through a very standard process which will leave the home safe. Usually at this point a contractor who consistently, if not exclusively, does radon work will come out to the property and install a system that pulls air from below the house in order to prevent radon from concentrating. 


Thankfully the process is neither complex nor is it cost prohibitive—usually costing in the $850 to $1,000 price range.  

If you are a buyer and this device is installed by the seller in the property you’re purchasing, the process will be as simple as periodically checking the device’s u-shaped dial to make sure it is working properly and that your house is protected.

If you want any more information or have any other questions on this topic, feel free to contact by giving us a call or sending us an email. We look forward to hearing from you.


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Should You Accept a Contingent Offer on Your Home?

A lot of buyers in today’s market need to sell their home first before they can buy another. As a seller, should you accept that contingent offer?

Looking to buy in the Stafford/Fredericksburg area? Perform a full home search 
Looking to sell in the Stafford/Fredericksburg area? Get a free Home Price Evaluation

What if a buyer makes an offer on your house and they still have a house to sell? 

I often get a call from an agent who says, “Great news! I took my clients by your listing and they love the house. They want to put a contract in.” 

When I ask when they will send in the contract, the other shoe drops. The agent says, “Well, they have a house that they have to sell first before they can buy your client's house. Would your seller consider accepting a contract that’s contingent on the sale of the buyer’s home?” 

If you’re the seller in this situation, it’s a good idea to have a conversation with your agent to see what your best course of action is. 
In many cases, a contingent offer is not worth the risk.
First of all, what are the risks involved with a contingent offer? If you are in a market where your house should sell at or below the average days on market, do you want to take your house off the market for this offer? You may lose the opportunity to find a better buyer over the next two weeks, and you may even miss out on a multiple offer situation. 

In most cases, accepting the offer is simply not worth the risk. 

So, is there ever a time when it makes sense to accept a contingent offer? Shouldn’t you just ask the buyer to come back once their home is under contract? 

There are a few instances where you may want to accept a contingent offer. For example, let’s say you have a very unique property, like a farm. You need the right type of person to jump in and run that farm. If that buyer has a house to sell, we’ll research the home. If we believe that their home will sell, it may make sense to pull your farm off the market and accept that contingent contract. 

Another example would be if you expect your home to take longer than the average time on the market to sell. You have more leverage with the contingent buyer. You can accept their offer but only on the terms that work best for you. 

Of course, it’s also important to consider the buyer’s perspective. In today’s market, a lot of buyers have to sell their homes in order to move up and buy something else. In that case, what can you do? 

If you have to be a contingent buyer, make sure that you get your house on the market and have a good idea of what homes are available for you to purchase. Then, once your home is under contract, you can make on offer that is contingent on your house making it to closing, which is a bit stronger than the typical contingent offer. 

Whether you are buying or selling a home, if you have any questions about contingent offers, just give us a call or send us an email. We would be happy to help you!

Monday, May 15, 2017

The Keys to Staging Your Home While Still Living in It

Staging your home for the market involves depersonalizing, decluttering, neutralizing, and three other key points to remember.

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If you need to stage your home to prepare it for the market while you’re still living in it, there are four main points you need to remember to maximize its value. First, you need to depersonalize, declutter, and neutralize. These three things are at the core of what it means to stage and get your house ready. The reason why you depersonalize and take down family portraits, kids’ trophies and other personal items is that we want the person who walks into your home to envision themselves living there. Your home is a place where you have created memories, but when the time comes to sell we need the buyer to be able to make that same connection and feel like it is a place where they will make their own family memories. When you declutter and neutralize, you’re making sure you’re not distracting buyers with bold colors or too many things in your house so they can focus on the things that make your house great. Second, work to make sure each room has a purpose. Oftentimes there are rooms in a house that are sparsely used or used for a purpose the average buyer is unlikely to copy. For example, many homeowners use their formal living room as a kids’ play room. Think about repurposing this room as a 2nd living area or an office – these are uses buyers are likely to see value in and can envision using it in a similar way. If you can show value in each room and present it as a place buyers can see themselves using we are likely to get a higher return on the square footage.
Depersonalizing, decluttering, and neutralizing are at the core of what it means to stage your house.
Third, remember throughout this process that the objective is to move. This means you’ll have to pack up and move your things. If you have too much furniture or other items that have collected over the years, box them up and take them away before marketing your home. It can be a good idea to rent a storage unit during the marketing period so you can hang on to your belongings while allowing your home to show its best.

Fourth, enlist some professional help. I’m preparing homes to go on the market every day but when it’s time to sell my home I will hire one of our professional stagers to walk through to give me an objective opinion and advice on how to present it best. Because we live in our homes we can become blind to some things that need attention. Stagers are experts in design. We know how we want our listings to look when everything's said and done, but they know how to get us there. A stager can give you a task list of things to do and give you practical advice on things like furniture placement and color choices. Appealing to the largest number of buyers is critical to getting your home sold for top dollar.  Professional staging is the first step toward making sure you’re ready to present your home to potential buyers.

If you have any questions about how to get your home ready for sale, don’t hesitate to give us a call. We’d love to hear from you.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

How We Eased Tracy's Transaction Process


"It was good. I had no problems. Dale took care of everything. It was very easy. The house was left a mess from the previous owner. The realtor taking care of it didn't deal with it. My realtor talked to the other realtor and they had a cleaning crew come in and clean."

To contact the Gillies Team, Call 540-300-1582 or email Info@GilliesTeam.com

Why Theo Thinks We Are Professional


"I had very good results. Very satisfied. Very professional. Would definitely recommend their team. They did a very good job. I had been working on this house for a year and a half. The painters when they painted it, they painted over an alarm on the wall. We didn't know there was an alarm in the house. Mike Gillies got me through the process of how to make it right between myself and the new owners."

To contact the Gillies Team, Call 540-300-1582 or email Info@GilliesTeam.com

How We Went Above and Beyond for Lori


"They did such a good job for us, my son sold his house with them too. It's the whole team, not just Cindy or Mike. We worked with Michael, their son. I just can't speak highly enough of them. Their expertise, their personal touch. We really felt like they wanted to sell our house, they wanted us to sell our house. They were just our best advocate. They had done such a great job with showing us how to market it, that we actually sold the house in four days. How could we go wrong? They knew what they were doing, what they were about; very professional. I can't speak highly enough about them. They were wonderful. We put the house on the market July 1st. We had Michael in negotiations on July 4th, the holiday. Now, If that isn't above and beyond! We didn't expect him to work on it. On the holiday he was with his family they were celebrating some place, and yet he was negotiating with the buyer on our behalf while we were on vacation. That is above and beyond. He was willing to do it, he didn't want any time to go by, he wanted to close the deal, make everybody happy, both parties happy. That was certainly appreciated."

To contact the Gillies Team, Call 540-300-1582 or email Info@GilliesTeam.com

Why Leslie Thinks We Are Excellent


"The Gillies Team is amazing. They are by far the most consistent, excellent, I can't say enough about how professional they are. They make you feel as if you are the only client that they have. They are wonderful. They are honest. We've worked with a lot of Realtors over the years, and they are the first ones that feel like family, they truly do. They get the results in a timely manner. They always return calls in a timely manner. Everything they do is just done exceptionally well. They just sold a house for us. They don't typically do rentals, and they went out of their way to not only help us secure a rental, they also drove all the way up to Northern Virginia to help us find a house. We were looking for a home in Loudoun County, Virginia, and they went out of their way to go way up there to meet us to look for homes. Pretty much, anything we needed, they were there to help us. They were always available. They were always intentional. They were always excellent. When I think of them, I think of excellence, excellence, excellence."

To contact the Gillies Team, Call 540-300-1582 or email Info@GilliesTeam.com

How We Helped Lee Present His Homes


“Well, they sold 3 or 4 of my houses. With all of our homes they sold, they really helped out with the advertising and staging. Really helped out with the presentation, staging, and advertising.”

To contact the Gillies Team, Call 540-300-1582 or email Info@GilliesTeam.com

We Made Ellen's Real Estate Transaction a Breeze


"I couldn't have been more pleased. I did not know anything about them. I just picked them at random. They couldn't have been more helpful. I was selling my father's house after he died. I cleaned it out and was they came in and treated me as if I was the only customer they had. With all the repairs that needed to be done, they had someone to do it, and they contacted them. They just made the whole process, that was painful to begin with, very easy and seamless. I could cry. They were so kind and helpful. Any occasion that came up that would've been a stressful one, they had already taken care of it by the time they called me. It was already done, and not an issue by the time I was aware of it."

To contact the Gillies Team, Call 540-300-1582 or email Info@GilliesTeam.com

How We Gave Dennis a Great Real Estate Experience


"They were great. I mean, they sold my home the first time I bought at my (current) location. Then they sold that home 8 years later, so it was great. For the initial sale, I dealt with Cindy back in 2008. She was just great. I never had to ask for information. She was constantly updating me, very personable. And overall a great experience."

To contact the Gillies Team, Call 540-300-1582 or email Info@GilliesTeam.com

How We Helped Ahmad Sell 2 Homes


"Well, I've actually worked with Michael for two homes that we sold. One home was in the down market back in 2008/2009 time frame. It sold within three months. They do an outstanding job of explaining everything, the whole process. Also, with the most recent house that sold, they explained everything. They have an excellent photographer that they keep who does fantastic pictures. Basically, the whole process is very smooth. Everything they do is very professional. The last house that just sold, we contacted them. We went through all the paperwork and signing the night the sign went up, we had somebody look at the house and they made an offer that night. They talked to us the next morning, and basically, it sold in a day. The house prior to that was actually bought by a war officer in the army who was stationed in Hawaii. He actually bought it sight unseen based on the photographs and the description."

To contact the Gillies Team, Call 540-300-1582 or email Info@GilliesTeam.com

Saturday, April 8, 2017

How to Handle a Multiple Offer Situation as a Buyer

If you’re a buyer and find yourself in a multiple offer situation, here’s what you need to know to get the home you want.

Looking to buy in the Stafford/Fredericksburg area? Perform a full home search 
Looking to sell in the Stafford/Fredericksburg area? Get a free Home Price Evaluation

As the spring roars into May, it is very common for buyers to find themselves competing against multiple offers on a home.  If you find yourself in this situation, how do you set yourself up for success?

The first thing you can do is be well prepared. Have a strong pre-approval letter. How that letter is written by the lender is very important—sometimes the way they write it can make you sound like a rock star, while other times they leave the seller with more questions than answers regarding how far along you are in the process and how qualified you truly are.

Once you know you’re well prepared to make a strong offer, focus on the contract terms that really matter. If you find a hot property that’s got everything you’re looking for, don’t quibble over something immaterial or ask for a home warranty when the house is in great shape and you know you can get away without it. If you’re going to ask the seller for closing costs, make sure you know how much you actually need to make the purchase.  Spend your time analyzing the very best offer price and closing cost combination.  Your agent should help you with this by completing a pricing analysis and working with your lender to make sure you’re not asking for more closing cost subsidy than is needed.  These terms determine the seller’s net proceeds and will weigh more heavily that most other terms in a seller’s decision.  That said, things like flexibility with closing date, choice of financing and down payment and other terms can be offered in a way that shows the seller you’re all in on making the sale easy and successful!
Don’t think of a multiple offer situation as a bidding war.
Finally, have good information so you can be confident in the offer you write. Get hooked up with an all star real estate professional. A comparative market analysis isn’t restricted to sellers getting ready to list a home. A good buyer’s agent will have knowledge of the market and be able to objectively show you the value range for the house you’re offering on. Once you’ve got good information like that, you’ll be able to make a confident decision regarding how much you offer.  If you are confident in the value you can make a strong offer based on this data.  If another buyer chooses to offer more than the value number you’re comfortable with you know you avoided paying too much due to the frenzy and excitement involved when a hot property gets a ton of interest.

If you have any more questions about this topic or would like to set up a consultation with one of our buyer specialists, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’d be happy to help!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Are You Educated When It Comes to Your Homeowners Insurance?

Today I’m joined by an insurance expert to parse some of the important details of your homeowners insurance.

Looking to buy in the Stafford/Fredericksburg area? Perform a full home search 
Looking to sell in the Stafford/Fredericksburg area? Get a free Home Price Evaluation

Today, Jens Green of J.Green Insurance joins me to discuss some things you need to know about your insurance.

When looking at your options, you need to be mindful of your home’s sewage system because it can have a big impact on your insurance needs. For example, you need to know if your house has a septic system or if you’re connected to city utilities.  Especially if you are on city water and sewer it’s important that you have a sewer backup endorsement to your policy. Why? If there’s digging across the street in your neighbor’s yard and they hit the sewage pipe causing damage to your home, it might not be covered if you don’t have the right protection because the claim occurred off your premises. If there is a sewer back up into your basement, you need to make sure that damages, cleanup and repair costs are covered.  This can be an expensive claim.

Another important question to ask your insurance provider has to do with a concept called replacement cost. If you have a catastrophic loss in your home, you need to have coverage that will provide you with the ability to purchase new items at today’s cost. If your policy doesn’t cover replacement cost you could instead receive actual cash value (ACV).  This could leave you far short of the costs to replace your lost items. For example - your 10 year-old TV isn’t worth much in 2017. Getting the actual cash value from your insurance provider wouldn’t allow you to replace it without coming out of pocket significantly.  When you apply this to an entire home full of personal property the numbers add up quickly.  

A flood isn’t covered by your regular homeowners insurance policy, so you’ll need a separate flood insurance policy.
Always have replacement costs on your personal property.
If you’re preparing to move in the near future, you should ask your insurance provider if all of your belongings will be covered during the move. Whether they're in transit or in storage, you want your possessions to be covered in case of an accident.

If you’re going from being a homeowner to a landlord, you need to remember to make a change your policy. As a homeowner, the policy you have is not a rented-to-others insurance policy—it’s a homeowners policy. Talk to your agent and tell them you’re moving. There is no need to cover the contents of the home when your personal property will no longer be there.  Also, in order to ensure a future claim is covered you need to let your provider know that tenants are occupying the home rather than the homeowner.  A claim could be denied if you don’t have the right policy. Make sure your tenants have their own insurance policy to cover their belongings.

Another thing Jens recommends if you’re becoming a landlord is upping your medical payments coverage. If your renter has an accident on your property, you can take cash, pay the hospital bill, and the insurance company will reimburse you. This can help avoid litigation. This is inexpensive coverage and may only cost a few dollars per year.

One last thing to know is that insurance rates may  go up by 20% in 2017 according to recent reports. This is due in part to the higher number of distracted drivers on the road. The only way to lower those rates when they go up is combining your home and auto insurance. J. Green Insurance offers a 30% credit for this combination.

If you need to reach Jens for more insurance information, you can call his office at (703) 884-3850 or send him an email at jgreen@jgreeninsurance.com. If you have any other questions, please feel free to give me a call or send me an email. I’d be happy to speak with you!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Help Us Give Back to Our Community

The annual Bowl for Kids’ Sake fundraiser is March 4th & 5th supporting the Rappahannock Big Brothers Big Sisters organization. Here’s what you need to know about the event.

Looking to buy in the Stafford/Fredericksburg area? Perform a full home search 
Looking to sell in the Stafford/Fredericksburg area? Get a free Home Price Evaluation

I want to switch things up a bit today and talk about something other than real estate. I want to take a few moments to talk about an organization that is near and dear to my heart. I have the honor of serving on the Board of Directors for the Rappahannock Big Brothers Big Sisters nonprofit organization. I’m so excited to be able to serve such an incredible organization.


As many of you know, my wife is a teacher and our family is passionate about affecting the lives of children in our community in a positive way. The mission of this organization is to help at-risk children by pairing them with professionally matched and supported mentors and role models.


Recent studies show that one of the most significant indicators of a child’s success in life is whether they have a positive role model to look up to. This organization gives them exactly that.

Our hallmark annual fundraiser, Bowl for Kids' Sake, is right around the corner. It will be on March 4th & 5th, and our office has put together two bowling teams to support the event. We don’t expect to win any awards for our bowling prowess but would love to claim the honor of worst bowlers with the most generous friends and family at the event. If you would consider making a donation of any size to help support the wonderful work RBBBS is doing we would be honored. Please click here to donate! All the money stays locally in our community to help support kids in need. We only have a week to make this happen so I need your help ASAP!
We’d love for you to join us at the fundraiser.

To learn more click here to see coverage of last year's event by Nova Now and Cox Communications.


If you’re looking for something fun to do on the 4th or 5th of March you can also create your own team and start fundraising! Click here to register! It’s going to be a fun time and we would love to see you there.


If you have any question for us, don’t hesitate to give us a call or send us an email. We would love your support and we look forward to seeing you soon.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

What do I Need to Know About Zillow Home Value Numbers?

Can you really depend on Zillow to figure out what a home is worth in the current market? I would say no, and there are a few reasons why.

Looking to buy in the Stafford/Fredericksburg area? Perform a full home search 
Looking to sell in the Stafford/Fredericksburg area? Get a free Home Price Evaluation

I get a lot of questions about Zillow and the estimates the site comes up with for a home’s value. Can you really trust that number?
When Zillow determines home value, they use an algorithm that pulls tax record information, square footage, and some major attributes of your house before it spits out a number.

The problem is that no one from Zillow is going into your house. Zillow has no idea if a house was recently renovated or if the home is in a state of disrepair.

Zillow can get close to estimating your market value. The Wall Street Journal found that on average, Zillow’s estimates are 7.8% off the actual sales price. That may not seem like a lot, but a 7.8% mistake on a $400,000 house means missing out on over $30,000. If you rely solely on automated estimates like those found on Zillow, you could either price your home way too high or sell yourself short; neither is a viable option.

In a Wall Street Journal article, Zillow executives explained that their estimates are meant to be a starting point so that people can get an idea of what homes are selling for in a certain area or neighborhood. However, if you are buying or selling a home, you have to have accurate information that’s tailored to your specific property to make sure you’re making a good decision.
Pricing your home correctly is absolutely crucial.
Get in touch with a real estate professional. He or she can give you an analysis specifically based on your home. A real estate agent will be able to take all of the upgrades and attributes of your home into account in order to come up with an accurate market price.

It is important to know the true value of a home. As a buyer, you don’t want to overpay for a home because you weren’t able to get a proper analysis. As a seller, if you price your home correctly from the very start, you are more likely to net a higher sales price. If you overprice your home and have to go through a number of price reductions, your home will sit on the market. The longer a home is on the market the less leverage a seller has in a negotiation and it’s likely you will end up selling your home for less money.
Pricing your home correctly is absolutely crucial. Remember, while Zillow is often off by 7% to 8%, that can mean a difference of $20,000 to $50,000 on your home sale. That kind of margin of error is simply too big to rely on when pricing your home.

If you have any other questions about pricing or the home selling process, give me a call or send me an email. I would be happy to help you!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

An Expert’s Take on How to Prepare for Your Move

There are some key tips you need to know to organize your move properly and ensure nothing gets misplaced.

Looking to buy in the Stafford/Fredericksburg area? Perform a full home search 
Looking to sell in the Stafford/Fredericksburg area? Get a free Home Price Evaluation

Today we’re joined by Adam Stempin from Allied Van Lines to talk a little bit about how to prepare for your move.

According to Adam, one of the biggest things people overlook is to how to organize their move. A great tip for this is to have an “off limits” area for the movers so certain personal items (purses, wallets, car keys, etc.) don’t get accidentally packed up. Unfortunately, this happens quite often.

If you’re buying a home on the other end, do not pack up any financial documents. If you do this, your lender might call you requesting an important document and you won’t be able to provide that document because it’s buried inside an 18-wheeler somewhere.
Organize your move correctly so nothing gets lost in the shuffle.
In Adam’s experience, most customers don’t realize how mover’s insurance works. They think that just because the movers are taking care of their possessions, they’re covered 100% for every item.

In reality, there are two different kinds of insurance: the basic package moving companies need to do business and the full value replacement package. If you pack everything yourself, your possessions can be excluded from these insurance packages. This is why it’s imperative that you decide whether you have the confidence and ability to pack your own items up or whether you need Adam’s team to do it.

One of the best packing tips Adam gives to his customers is to color-code each room. That way, when his movers are coming and going, they know which boxes go where and nobody’s constantly in your face about where everything goes. Furthermore, you won’t have to rearrange any boxes after the moving is done.

If you’re more budget-conscious about your move and are unsure of how much packing you should handle yourself, Adam can come to your house, review your situation, and give you a list of different services available. Adam’s team is one of Allied’s largest agents in their network, and they have about 425 agents across the country, so they can help customers anywhere in the nation. This comes in handy especially in our area, where we have many residents moving across the country.

If you need to move soon and are interested in doing business with Adam, you can email him at adam.stempin@colemanallied.com or call 540-272-5927.

If you have any questions for me, don’t hesitate to email me or give me a call. I’d be happy to help!