buyers: Building a Real Estate Business and "Social Media" - A Yes or No? - 11/12/09 01:26 AM
This is an interesting article on the value of social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, etc. in developing and building a stronger real estate business.  Here's the author's, Mike Parker's, opinion:
Social media is a sinkhole that absorbs time, effort,  and money that could be better spent on finding listings and selling houses.  Social media is the new blogging.  It too will peak, then decline, with one very large exception: affinity group business communication.
Mr. Parker says a strong Internet presence is necessary to attract buyers and sellers.   I absolutely agree.  According to the National Association of Realtors' ("NAR") Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers (2008), … (0 comments)

buyers: First Time Buyers - Some Gentle Encouragement and Some Possible Properties - 08/26/09 05:51 AM
Folks that follow my blog (hi Mom!) know that I have posted in the past about the first-time home buyer tax credit.  The credit gives eligible individuals $8,000 in a bottom line CREDIT on your 2009 tax return.  In fact, you can even amend the 2008 tax return to get that money sooner. 
I've continued to hit this topic ad nauseaum because many people do not seem to know that the credit expires November 30, 2009.  What that means is any eligible first-time home buyer must have CLOSED on the purchase of a home by November 30, 2009 in order to  receive what is basically free money from the federal … (2 comments)

buyers: How Accurate Are Zillow's Zestimates? - 08/14/09 04:05 AM
It just so happens I wrote a bit yesterday about a Zillow poll that ranked Richmond, Virginia as the 7th best place in the United States to buy a home.  And in that post, I alluded to the fact that I typically disdain Zillow data because I have found it to be ridiculously inaccurate in certain sub-markets, and especially with historic properties.  Here's a blog post I wrote on the topic back in March 2009, "The Zillow Rant OR Why Zillow Zucks."
Well, d*mned if an e-mail from Zillow didn't turn up in my e-mail inbox today.  The e-mail header is "How Accurate … (8 comments)

buyers: Tick Tock, Tick Tock...That's The Sound of the First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit Running Out.... - 07/17/09 02:01 AM
I don't think lots of buyers know that the First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit EXPIRES November 30, 2009.  If your purchase isn't closed by that date, you are out of luck, do not pass go, and certainly do not collect the $8,000 tax credit the federal government is handing out to savvy first time home buyers.
What does that mean?  Well, let's work backwards on the time line and make a few assumptions:
The offer date is NOT the critical date.  The ratification date, the date the contract is accepted, is the date from which all critical next steps are … (0 comments)

buyers: First Time Home Buyers - Why Are You Waiting? - 05/18/09 03:12 PM
I am a little bit flummoxed.  Right now, housing affordability is the best it's EVER been, since the National Association of Realtors has been tracking the statistics.  Interest rates are at record lows, under 5% in many instances.  The Federal Government is still making 3.5% down payments, under 5% interest rate financing available to buyers through its FHA program.  AND there is a federal first time home buyer credit available of $8,000, which means eligible individuals or couples filing jointly will get an $8,000 credit on their 2009 tax return.  That is essentially $8,000 in free money back from the government, just for doing … (7 comments)

buyers: Real Estate and Dual Agency Issues - AGAIN! - 04/27/09 04:17 AM
People who read my blog know how I feel about dual agency.  To define it yet again, dual agency is when one single real estate agent represents both the buyer and the seller in a real estate transactions. 
As a general rule, I think dual agency is a joke, it shouldn't be legal, and the statutes and rules should be changed to absolutely prohibit dual agency in any real estate transaction, residential or commercial.  However, I appear to be in the clear minority in the real estate agent community, and the Virginia Association of Realtors ("VAR") is a pretty powerful lobby.  So I suspect … (8 comments)

buyers: Top 10 Mistakes First-Time Buyers Make - 04/16/09 07:03 AM
Once again, this is not something I wrote - d*mmit! - but I think the article is both well-written and timely.  We're seeing lots of first-time home buyers getting into the market, based on a combination of (i) affordability; (ii) inventory; (iii) record-low interest rates, and still readily available federal money; and (iv) the $8,000 first-time home buyer tax credit.  But as this article points out, there are plenty of pitfalls for the unwary. 
So beware.  There are great values out there, but know thyself.  Don't buy a banged-up foreclosure unless you are very handy, or willing and able to manage contractors.

buyers: I'm B-A-C-K...And Glad the Real Estate Market Is Picking Up! - 03/26/09 12:59 AM
I got home this past Sunday at 3 a.m. from vacation in Costa Rica.  WONDERFUL.  Beautiful country, super nice people, amazing wildlife.  I'll post a picture album once I can dig through all the work stuff.  But I do not recommend the return trip schedule - leave house at 5 a.m., drive 2 hours to San Jose, fly from San Jose to Guatemala, fly from Guatemala to El Salvador, fly from El Salvador to Dulles, drive from Dulles to Richmond, collapse into exhausted sleep at 3:30 a.m., just over a full 24 hours later.
But enough whining - the trip was well worth that inconvenience.  And I've … (2 comments)

buyers: Searching for the Proverbial Needle in the Haystack - Why Do Buyers Use Agents Who Don't Know an Area? - 02/05/09 02:38 PM
This is something that both makes me crazy and makes me scratch my head in confusion.  Crazy, because I have to deal with the (usually extremely well-meaning, but clueless) agents from outside of the historic City neighborhoods where I do most of my work.  Scratch my head, because I do not understand why buyers choose a real estate agent, responsible for one of the most important purchases they will EVER make, being paid a lot of money for the advice and service offered during the transaction, who hasn't got a clue about the area where they are buying.
Now, let's step back and acknowledge … (3 comments)

buyers: Using The Internet in Your House Hunt - Help or Hindrance? - 02/05/09 02:30 PM
The Internet is a hugely important tool for home buying, and the rise of the Internet as a source of information in the home-buying process has been nothing short of meteoric.  Look at these statistics, on how many people use the Internet in their home-search process:
1996:  Under 20% 2006:  80% 2007:  84% 2008:  87% I bet by 2010 we're pretty d*ggone close to 100% of people using the Internet independently in their home search.  But people need to realize that while the Internet is a highly efficient tool to help you … (4 comments)

buyers: Payments for Purchases or Refinancing - Rates are AZY-CRAY! - 01/13/09 01:47 PM
Well, this just came across my e-mail and I thought it was valuable enough to post ASAP.   Download Refinance_Savings_Chart
It's a pretty chart showing payments if an individual refinanced their existing mortgage.  A few notes:
The chart shows only principal + interest ("P+I"), so to figure out your TOTAL payment you need to add your homeowners' insurance payment and your real estate taxes, to get your "PITI" (principal, interest, taxes, insurance) payment; Real estate taxes on a property can be calculated by going to the website of the locality in which the property is located, taking the annual real estate tax amount … (1 comments)

buyers: The Right Way to Dump Your Realtor - A Personal Story - 01/11/09 09:45 AM
Well, I listed this a blog topic to come in my most recent posting.  While the outcome for me wasn't what I had hoped, I think it's a good road map for the "dos" and "don'ts" of dumping your real estate agent.
Background is as follows:  A year or so ago, I was approached by a friend to list his home.  Single professional guy with the standard single guy decor - giant TV, lots of electronics, not so much fluffy, pretty stuff.  It's a really nice house, and all the "hard stuff" - roof, electrical, etc. - was either done or … (2 comments)

buyers: Calling All Investors - Now Is the Time to Buy! OR How Real Estate Can "Save" Your Savings - 10/30/08 02:26 AM
The economic news continues to be grim.  The equity markets have been in free-fall.  Daily drops of "only" 300 points are heralded as a positive.  The credit markets remain frozen.  And more money is chasing commodities and government bonds, pushing yields on those investments ever lower.
One bright spot in this debacle?  Oil prices have dropped, leading to dramatic price declines at the gas pumps.   So there is SOME good news for the average American.
But what to do if you would like to make up some of that dramatic value decline in your stock portfolio?
I suggest you consider investing … (0 comments)

buyers: Dual Agency Is a Crock OR Why You Should Beware If Your Realtor Represents Both Sides - 10/10/08 06:05 AM
I've alluded in several posts to my disdain for dual agency, and the agents who practice it.  First, let me define dual agency as practiced in real estate.  This is the practice whereby a single agent represents both the buyer and seller as clients in a sales transaction.  If done "properly," the agent has disclosed the situation to both parties, and received the informed, usually written, consent of both parties to act as a "dual agent."
Why do I disdain the practice so much, which is, by the way, still legal in Virginia?  See Va. Code Sec. 54.1-2139.  I am a lawyer by training and … (0 comments)


Melissa Loughridge Savenko

Richmond, VA

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RE/MAX Commonwealth

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