Friday, June 29, 2012

Increasing Living Space at Little to No Cost

Sometimes we start to feel a little constrained in our own homes.  We feel that if we could just add one more room, things would be a little better? For example,  do you wish you could just have an extra room for an office? Or one for a playroom for the kids?  Or maybe you are a buyer and you found a house you like, but it is just a tad bit small because it doesn't have that office or that playroom that you need.  Well you can add some "extra" living space to your home by being a little creative and getting rid of rooms that you don't use.  

About 2 weeks ago, I went to a friend's house and all of a sudden I noticed that they didn't have a formal living room. As I thought about the layout of the house, I realized they had turned the formal living room into their dining room and the formal dining room into an office.   Brilliant!!   So I went home and to my husband's chagrin (since he has to do all the heavy lifting) I started thinking about how I could make that work to my own advantage in my own home.

I had a formal living room that we never used.  Okay, my five year old likes to set up her tent there every once in awhile, but if guests come over they are either in our eat-in kitchen, the family room, or the dining room.  I therefore decided to follow my friends footsteps and turn the formal living room into the formal dining area.  Here are the benefits:
***My "new" dining room has so much more space.  My china cabinets fit better and my oversized dining room table fits nicely.  The old dining room was too small so everything looked so crowded.  That space which never was used before is now fully functional.

***My former dining room which is right off the kitchen, I turned into the kids play/activity center.  That got their toy cabinets out of the family room which is now more practical for me as a mom and I can keep my kids within eyesight while I am cooking.  The toy cabinets actually play off nicely with the kitchen cabinets and counter tops so aesthetically it looks better tool.

***My family room is now functionally better as well.  Before the kids toys were right next door to the back door.  With the dogs and people coming in and out of the door, I was constantly concerned that my kids toys were getting covered with dirt.  That area is now open and designed for foot traffic and my kids have a clean and safe area where they can hang out.

***Instead of spending money, I made money out of this deal.  I sold my extra sofa and chair on Craigslist and got some nice spending money.

The moral of the story is if you do not have thousands and thousands of dollars to buy a bigger home or add an addition to your existing home, think about the areas of your home that you do not use.  Start with the formal living room--few people use them today and personally, I believe they are just a waste of space.   Play around with ideas and see what will work better for you but chances are you will be able to find a better use of the space.


Luisa Rodriguez
Prestige Property Group
Exit Choice Realty
Woodbridge, VA 22193
240-377-7104
 
For quality service, please contact us and a member of our team will be more than happy to assist you. 

                                                                         

Short Sales and Security Clearances

In the Northern Virginia area, having a security clearance is almost a must if you want to work in the DC Metro area.  It is no surprise that we therefore come in contact with various clients who are concerned about the effects of a short sale on their security clearance.  Since we are real estate professionals, we can't give you a definite answer whether it will or it won't, but none of our short sale clients who fully disclosed the circumstances of the short sale to their supervisors and the clearance issuing office have had any issues.  I myself worked for the military for 7 years and held a security clearance.  I understand the sensitivities behind it and here is my advice based on my experience.

If you feel that you need to complete a short sale due to circumstances out of your control such as a job transfer, spouse losing a job, balloon payment kicking in, etc be upfront with your supervisor  and discuss with them the possibility of doing a short sale.  If there is one thing I learned, it was that is always better to run something by them than to remain quiet and face the consequences.

My feeling is that if you have a history of not paying bills on time, you have unnecessary debt, and then you try to do a short sale, it will turn out very negatively for you.  However, if up to now you have a clean financial record but circumstances out of your control are forcing you into that situation, it will have a limited affect on your security clearance.  Also remember that as common as security clearance are in the DC area, so are short sales so I truly doubt you will be the first. Recent reporting in the Army Times seems to agree with my opinion, at least as far as the Air Force is concerned. That is also in line with the experience of our short sale clients that also had security clearances and didn't face any repercussions. But in general, I think the services are hesitant to give a blanket yes or no to short sales because they will review each case on its own merit.

Also, remember the military conducts its clearance investigations separate from the CIA and the FBI so how each one will handle it will depend on each agency's internal policies. I remember that I applied for a job with the CIA and the FBI while I already held a clearance with the Navy.  The FBI retracted their job offer based on the residency status of one of my family members.  The CIA offered me a position and had no issues with my family member's status--and neither did the Navy.  That is why I think it is best to broach the issue with the appropriate personnel at your agency and get a feel from them on how a short sale based on your circumstances will affect your clearance.  You do not want to withhold the information and then all of a sudden have it appear during your reinvestigation.

Luisa Rodriguez
Prestige Property Group
Exit Choice Realty
Woodbridge, VA 22193
240-377-7104
 
For quality service, please contact us and a member of our team will be more than happy to assist you. 

                                                                      


Dealing with Wet Basements

I recently had to deal with a wet basement in my own house.  You see, my house was built in 1962. The basement is almost entirely underground and there is no sump pump.  We only bought the house in January but we began to notice that water was appearing on the concrete floor and we couldn't tell where it was coming from.  What a headache!!  I also noticed that some of the things I had stored down there were starting to grow mold. Gross!!

As a Realtor I have walked into many, many moldy houses and seen the effects of wet basements. When I had seen some home owners deal with the issue, their contractors had built motes around the entire house, added drainage, then the sump pump and then refilled the moat again. I could only imagine the expense!!! In addition, my house has a concrete patio in the back.  All I could think about was how much it was going to cost me to have them break up that patio and then put in a new one.

I took the advice I always give my clients: get an estimate from several contractors.  Check on websites like Angies List to see if they are reputable and then make your decision.  I was so glad that I did!!  I had a few contractors price the job and give me a detailed explanation of how they were going to deal with my basement.  What I learned is that there are other ways of water proofing the basement that do NOT require digging on the outside of the house.  The contractor I chose will actually dig into the concrete inside the house but only about 8 inches wide and 8 inches deep. They then install a type of drain that will collect the water from the foundation and deliver it to a sump pump.   I found out that this method, although still somewhat expensive, is from a 1/3 to a 1/2 cheaper than having to excavate around the house and much less intrusive.   So if you are thinking of waterproofing your basement, make sure you get several opinions and take this one into consideration, it will save you a lot of money.  I know it saved me!!