Retiring in Williamsburg Blog

Lifestyles, Community Information. Helping you find your new home


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Williamsburg Real Estate Market Watch – February 2015

You asked for it – here is the latest Market Watch!

  • How long do Williamsburg homes take to sell? Average of 59 days
  • How many other houses are for sale? Approximately 7.2 months worth of inventory
  • How close to the Selling price are Sellers getting? 97.9%
  • What is the median Sold price? $293,000

Here is the skinny on selling homes, in Williamsburg! Have more questions about this Williamsburg Real Estate Infographic? Give me a call: 757-564-4455

Rolf Kramer, Real Estate Agent, Williamsburg, Virginia, Retiring in Williamsburg

 

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rolf kramer, real estate, Williamsburg, VARolf Kramer, REALTOR®, ABR, SRES, e-PRO 757-564-4455 Licensed in Virginia with Liz Moore and Associates, 5350 Discovery Park Blvd, Williamsburg, VA 23188 Williamsburg has become a Mecca for retirees over the past dozen years because of its history, charm, vacation amenities, proximity to major cities and airports, and affordable cost of living. Check out www.retiringinwilliamsburg.com for information about the Williamsburg community, lifestyles available, and search for homes for sale.


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Home Staging to Sell a Home. Does it work?

Does home staging really work? “We are so convinced that having a listing professionally staged means a quicker sale and higher net proceeds for our sellers,” says Liz Moore, “that we are now going to provide an initial staging consultation to our listing clients at our expense.” According to a recent Home Gain survey, 94% of homes staged by a professional stager sold in 29 days or less, compared to an average of 145 days for a non-staged home. Even more compelling is the finding that the $724 invested in staging (the national average cost) netted the seller $2,145 more in price – a 196% return on investment (ROI).

A staging consultation is in addition to the legendary Liz Moore “No Surprises” program: a pre-listing appraisal and up-front home inspection provided to the Liz Moore sellers – all at no cost to the clients. What does a home stager do? One of Trez Robinson’s, at Stage 2 Sell, favorite mantra is that she is a de-decorator. A stager’s role to take away the personality and the style of the current owner so that the prospective purchaser can more easily visualize themselves moving in.

Rolf Kramer, 757-564-4455

There are a number of ways to De-Decorate:

  • Remove personal photos and effects.
  • De-clutter so that buyers focus on the “bones” of a house rather than the distractions of the stuff in the house.
  • Neutralize colors, so that the prospective buyers don’t object to the current owner’s personal taste, or that they will need to invest time and money in repainting before they move in (Need to neutralize? Trez recommends Sherman Williams Believable Buff).
  • Remove any “extra” furniture, so rooms look and feel more spacious.
  • Remove any “extra” things on shelves, mantles and tables – minimalize, so lookers are seeing the room, not your things.
  • Remove window treatments – let the light shine in!

 Rolf Kramer - let the sun light in - 757-564-4455

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rolf kramer, real estate, Williamsburg, VARolf Kramer, REALTOR®, ABR, SRES, e-PRO 757-564-4455 Licensed in Virginia with Liz Moore and Associates, 5350 Discovery Park Blvd, Williamsburg, VA 23188 Williamsburg has become a Mecca for retirees over the past dozen years because of its history, charm, vacation amenities, proximity to major cities and airports, and affordable cost of living. Check out www.retiringinwilliamsburg.com for information about the Williamsburg community, lifestyles available, and search for homes for sale.


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Spring Makes us Think of Home Improvements!

The first day of Spring is just around the corner and the thought of improvements to your home may enter your mind. Whether you may be thinking of selling or just improving your home, you may want to check out the return value on specific home improvement projects. When you own a home, it seems like there is almost always something you would like to do to make it more comfortable, attractive, or eco-friendly. But, home remodeling experts tell us, if you plan to sell your home at some point, put your time and effort into one of more renovations that are proven to pay you back because they increase the value of the property.

Cost Vs. Value, Rolf Kramer, Real Estate, Retiring in Williamsburg

Each year Remodeling Magazine in cooperation with National Association of REALTORS® and REALTOR® Magazine compare the average cost for 36 popular remodeling projects with the value those projects retain at resale in 102 U.S. markets. Here, is my summary of the 2015 report and you can find the entire report here.

If you would like to see additional articles on real estate, the Williamsburg area, and other topics relevant to an active retirement, you can subscribe to my blog.

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rolf kramer, real estate, Williamsburg, VARolf Kramer, REALTOR®, ABR, SRES, e-PRO 757-564-4455 Licensed in Virginia with Liz Moore and Associates, 5350 Discovery Park Blvd, Williamsburg, VA 23188 Williamsburg has become a Mecca for retirees over the past dozen years because of its history, charm, vacation amenities, proximity to major cities and airports, and affordable cost of living. Check out www.retiringinwilliamsburg.com for information about the Williamsburg community, lifestyles available, and search for homes for sale.

 


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Serious Errors when Retiring – don’t make these mistakes!

The 10 Worst Retirement Mistakes was an article written in August of 2011, for Top Retirement’s magazine. It got so many comments, they revised it, and then revised it, again, down to the Top Six. Then, this month, they came out with a further whittled down list of the Top 6 Mistakes – below are the highlights, adapted from these three articles – read and learn! Then, contact me and let’s see what Williamsburg Communities have to offer the retiree!

The Top 10 Worst Retirement Mistakes, Rolf Kramer, Real Estate Agent, Williamsburg, VA

Don’t make mistakes, when you retire—make it the best year of your life!

The 6 worst retirement mistakes you can make:

  1. Don’t build a dream house. There were several laments in one of our previous surveys from members who found it all too easy to get into building or buying a retirement dream house that got out of control. Only too late did they realize that what they were building was too big for the reality of their retirement. Too big means hard to maintain, heat/cool, and pay taxes on. It might not be set up with enough Universal Design features like one-floor living, no steps, accessible counters, door levers instead of handles, ability to add an elevator, etc. Children or grandchildren don’t come to stay as often as you thought they might, so don’t buy for them. Think about a house with at most 3 bedrooms, with one of those set up as an office. Or better yet, have an office that easily converts to the 2nd bedroom. Use the money you save to take the kids on a cruise. Just for fun, buy or rent the movie, “Tiny, A Story about Living Small“, on Netflix. It’s about the popular movement to very tiny (just over 100 to 300 sq.ft.) houses. While they are probably not for most people over 60, it does show you why you don’t need as much as you think.
  2. Don’t retire too soon. We’ve learned that way too many folks can’t wait to step into retirement, only to realize they miss work. If work is really important to you and you enjoy your job, why should you stop? If you truly hate your job or your boss, make a career shift instead.
    Others find they don’t miss the job so much, but don’t have enough money to enjoy a comfortable retirement. The advice we hear is to postpone your retirement as long as you can – it will give you more time to save more money and build your Social Security benefits – which will give you more money to enjoy in your retirement.
  3. Don’t do any retirement planning before you retire. Sure, it seems like a lot to ask to concentrate on retirement planning while you are still working and have so many irons in the fire. But taken in small doses, you can accomplish important spade work that can improve your future retirement happiness. Here are 2 things that are easy to do along that line. First, take the quizzes in our Free Baby Boomer Guide eBook. We’ve had tremendously positive feedback from members who have used them as a starting point to tease out their own retirement priorities, as well as discuss them with their spouse or significant other. Second, devote a fraction of your existing vacation, weekend, and business trips for retirement scouting. Every time you travel, investigate the towns on your route as a potential “best place to retire”. Look around, ask people questions, take a tour through any active adult communities that might be in the area. Take notes, and even consider a plus and minus spread sheet you can refer back to.
  4. Don’t put your adult children ahead of your retirement needs. You’ve probably made a lot of sacrifices for your children, including putting them through college. They might or might not have turned out as successful as you had hoped, but now your retirement security is more important. Don’t cosign on a loan that jeopardizes your financial future. Don’t give them gifts or loans that are more than you can afford. If you don’t save everything you can now it might mean you have to struggle on a poverty level Social Security benefit. It might be difficult to draw the line, but if you don’t take care of yourself now, no one else is going to.
  5. Don’t buy before you live there. We hear this so often – “If I had just lived there for a while I would have realized….” Sure it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a community that seems to meet your every need and desire. But once the reality of living there comes, it might be too late to realize that it’s too far to drive for a quart of milk, that your neighbors have political views very different from yours, that the nearest town doesn’t have the amenities you wish it had, or that the medical resources are scant and far away. It can be difficult, but not impossible to live in a place before you buy. But if you can’t, make multiple visits, read local newspapers online, interview your neighbors and friend who might live there already, and at least take a “Stay and Play” package. Otherwise it is just too risky.
  6. Don’t take care of your health. You’ve heard the expression, if you don’t have your health you don’t have anything. Sometimes it takes a bad accident or sudden heart attack to realize that. But your retirement dreams can go out the window in a second with the diagnosis of a life-threatening illness, or a medical condition that proscribes the activities you want to do. Not to mention the extra expense and hassle that dealing with the condition entails. So for goodness sake, protect your health. Go to the doctor and get the examinations and preventative tests you should. Follow a regular exercise program that your health permits. Cut down your risks: lose the extra weight, stop the smoking, keep drinking within the recommended limits. And we hope that translates into a long and happy retirement for you!

NOTE: When thinking about Number 5, I wanted to mention that Colonial Heritage has a Discovery Package – a weekend in one of the homes so that you can experience the property, the lifestyle, and your neighbors. If you would like to book a Discovery Package, please do so with me; I would love to help you get started with the “before you live here!”

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rolf kramer, real estate, Williamsburg, VA

 

 

Rolf Kramer, REALTOR®, ABR, SRES, e-PRO 757-564-4455 Licensed in Virginia with Liz Moore and Associates, 5350 Discovery Park Blvd, Williamsburg, VA 23188 Williamsburg has become a Mecca for retirees over the past dozen years because of its history, charm, vacation amenities, proximity to major cities and airports, and affordable cost of living. Check out www.retiringinwilliamsburg.com for information about the Williamsburg community, lifestyles available, and search for homes for sale.


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Rolf Kramer – Learn my Lessons, Before you Sell, Buy, or Move

Lucy, my wife of two years, and I purchased our first house together in Williamsburg and moved in on December 19. We did manage to enjoy Christmas Day with my children, who had also helped us with moving many items including our artwork, lamps, plants, and clothes.

Rolf Kramer, Real Estate, Williamsburg, Virginia 757-564-4455

A diamond is just a piece of charcoal that handled stress exceptionally well.

 Many of you have purchased or sold a house in the past few years, or maybe will be going through it in the next few years. Here are some of the things I learned from one of life’s most stressful experiences:

  1. Plan the details. Contact and schedule utilities, handyman, landscapers, floor people, piano movers, carpet cleaners and anyone else you may want to work on your house. And, think about the order you want things done. For instance, we made sure our piano was moved in and the handyman was finished before we had floor people come in.
  2. Utilities should be transferred effective the day of closing.
  3. Stay in touch with your Realtor, lender and title company/attorney (and builder for new construction). Keep asking everyone whether everything is on schedule for the closing date.
  4. For local moves, remember a quote from a moving company is only an estimate. It’s based on an hourly rate times the number of men. Some companies are not very good estimators even though they are excellent movers.
  5. Your lender will ask you for additional documents again, and again, and again. Smile – it just means you are moving forward. 
  6. Because of the new federal rules and regulations regarding loan approval, that seem to keep changing every 6 months, your lender may not be able to confirm that you have final loan approval (the technical term is “clear to close”) until a day or two before your closing date. This seems to be the new normal and is very stressful.
  7. A house, whether new construction or a resale, consists of many complex systems and moving parts. Be prepared for something that may not work or will break down upon use. Our garage door motor blew a capacitor the second day we were in the house.
  8. When you move around a major holiday, like Christmas, expect service people to occasionally drop the ball or not make that critical internal communication. We had to call our propane delivery company three times to make sure we got a delivery before we ran out.
  9. Moving is hell, but it’s a great way to lose weight. I lost 10 pounds!

 I would like to be able to reduce the stress level and help clients that will be making the move, in the near future. I would therefore greatly appreciate any lessons learned from each of you that has recently moved, or re-financed, that I can pass on to those clients that will experience a purchase or sale, and a move, in their near future. Leave your comments, below. 

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rolf kramer, real estate, Williamsburg, VARolf Kramer, REALTOR®, ABR, SRES, e-PRO 757-564-4455 Licensed in Virginia with Liz Moore and Associates, 5350 Discovery Park Blvd, Williamsburg, VA 23188 Williamsburg has become a Mecca for retirees over the past dozen years because of its history, charm, vacation amenities, proximity to major cities and airports, and affordable cost of living. Check out www.retiringinwilliamsburg.com for information about the Williamsburg community, lifestyles available, and search for homes for sale.


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Romance in Williamsburg, for Valentine’s Day. Your Choice: $$$$$ to Free

What spells romance to you? A carriage ride? A poem written and read to you? A moonlit, spooky ghost tour, clinging to someone’s hand? Dancing and dinner? Or perhaps wearing period clothing while walking through a historic, living museum? Romance is a personal thing. And sometimes, for some, it doesn’t come easily or naturally. But, on Valentine’s Day, it is necessary to step up your game. And in Williamsburg, the chance to be romantic and spoil someone can range from luxury (listed first) to almost free. Here are some ideas, for Valentine’s 2015:

Roses? Candy? or a romantic carriage ride in Colonial Williamsburg!

Roses? Candy? or a romantic carriage ride in Colonial Williamsburg!

  • Overnight getaway! I have two suggestions – Colonial Williamsburg or the Winery. The Couples Package for Valentine’s weekend, in Colonial Williamsburg, includes brunch and a carriage ride. Alternatively, get away from the American bustle and stay at a European-style boutique hotel, on the Williamsburg Winery. Stay at the Wedmore Place – a European-inspired country hotel, that is nestled in the winery, itself, the hotel has uniquely decorated rooms with period furnishings and a special breakfast served in the Café Provençal – the property’s French restaurant. I recommend the Winery tour – and sample one from each so you can try all the wines: Reserve Wine Tasting and Fine Wine Tasting – a slight difference in price and a different glass for each – both come with a take-home wine glass, etched with The Williamsburg Winery’s logo. Their Valentine’s Day special includes a tour, dinner, breakfast and one of their amazing rooms.
  • Dancing (and dinner)! The Regency Room, at The Williamsburg Inn has a dinner that includes a jazz band and a dance floor, at this unique and posh hotel. This is the truest luxury on the list – but it will be a night that she will remember. Valentine’s Dinner includes wine pairings with every course.
  • Dinner! Two choices include French or seafood. The French menu at Le Yaca is top notch and terribly romantic. The classic three-course dinner is presented as an art, at the newly located building in High Street. Look on their website for the regular menu, this one is for Valentine’s Day. The seafood at Bonefish Grille, in the New Town area of Williamsburg, is eclectic and yummy, even though the local’s favorite is the Bang Bang Shrimp, the menu for Valentine’s Day is unique.
  • Dinner Cruise! Sunset Cruise on the Alliance – just kidding – as the Schooner Alliance, that sails on the York River, on the waterfront of Yorktown, doesn’t come back until the end of March.
  • Standing dinner! The Blue Talon Bistro is creating a romantic pavilion by putting up a tent and grilling oysters in the alley behind the restaurant. Live music, champagne and Cosmopolitans will be flowing freely. TIP: no reservations for this event – take some pressure off. This event will also run Friday.
  • Carriage Ride! A carriage ride can be booked, in Colonial Williamsburg, most afternoons, for $20 per person. Carriage rides operate daily, weather permitting. All carriage rides begin at the Lumber House Ticket Office, in the Revolutionary City.
  • Live Theater! Two choices – high school and community. Lafayette High School is presenting an award winning play of “Unexpected Tenderness,” at The Kimball Theater. The students have won two awards and are now preparing to go to the national competition in Tennessee, this March. The Williamsburg Players are presenting “A Valentine to the Theatre: Heart and Music.” This production shows through the eyes of the performer, from auditions, rehearsals, opening night through the final performance – the ups, the downs, the drama and the emotion.
  • Movies! Two choices – at a Movie theater and the other at the public library. Dinner and a movie at The Movie Tavern at High Street is a great experience. The chairs swivel and roll and Fifty Shades of Grey (this year’s dark romantic film) will be playing, by then. Grab a beer or a margarita and a burger, pizza, or a spicy-buffalo chicken wrap and enjoy the show. Or go see Warm Bodies – a romantic zombie (??) movie at The Williamsburg Regional Library. This movie almost created its own genre. Not my cup of tea, but clearly this kind of romance (??) is here to stay.
  • Paint! Paint together at Wine and Design because they are having a special event themed “Palm Trees,” for Valentine’s Day. You bring your own wine and food and each paint the same scene, while the teacher assists and suggests. I haven’t done this but feel comfortable recommending, because I have many people tell me that even though they thought that the couldn’t paint and thought it wouldn’t be fun, they left feeling really good about the experience and thought that it was a high-quality date-night experience. Hmmm?
  • Ghost Tour! Hold her close – on a spooky tour of Williamsburg’s Ghosts! Learn of the ghosts that still haunt the taverns and historic buildings of Colonial Williamsburg. Your guide, on this lantern-lit evening tour will spin ghostly tales from days of old. Anyone who enjoys mysterious history and a good story (with a hint of creepy) will love a Ghost Tour in Williamsburg.
  • Skating! Yes, you heard right – skating in Williamsburg, on fake (?) ice (?). Iceburg, at Mid-County park is open through March and it is … fun. It feels a bit weird skating on plastic, but you don’t need freezing temps in Williamsburg to do it, and skating is …well… romantic.
  • Star Gaze! The Virginia Living Museum is having “Love on the Wild Side Star Party,” this year, for Valentine’s Day. The planetarium show is matched with swirling laser lights! Should be a fabulously romantic (and educational) experience.
  • Walk hand-in-hand! Put on your Colonial garb (or not!) and walk through Colonial Williamsburg. Colonial Williamsburg, at night, is quite special. You’ll always see people walking about, so it isn’t baron. Fire crescents will light your way and you’ll be able to walk hand-in-hand, safely through the streets as no cars are allowed. And… Hint Hint: quality time is what she craves, most of all. Or walk during the morning hours of the big day, at the Williamsburg Farmers’ Market, right in Merchants Square. Listen to live music while you pick up goodies for your home-cooked and organic meal.
  • Finally, if nothing on this list of romantic things to do in Williamsburg, on Valentine’s Day, clicks your trigger, I suggest you go back to where you first met, or kissed, or locked eyes – and read her your poem. Or you can simply tell her you’d do it all again – girls like that kind of stuff!

Rolf Kramer - romance in Williamsburg, Virginia

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rolf kramer, real estate, Williamsburg, VARolf Kramer, REALTOR®, ABR, SRES, e-PRO 757-564-4455 Licensed in Virginia with Liz Moore and Associates, 5350 Discovery Park Blvd, Williamsburg, VA 23188 Williamsburg has become a Mecca for retirees over the past dozen years because of its history, charm, vacation amenities, proximity to major cities and airports, and affordable cost of living. Check out www.retiringinwilliamsburg.com for information about the Williamsburg community, lifestyles available, and search for homes for sale.


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Williamsburg Real Estate – 2014 report, at a glance

2014 was an interesting year in local real estate.  After a strong bounce back year in 2013, this past year was relatively flat for much of the year, after a slow start in January.  Here in greater Williamsburg, closed sales for single-family, detached homes finished down about 11.5% lower than last year.  Closings took an unprecedented dip in July and August, which accounted for the majority of the year over year deficit.  The good news is that the average sold price was actually up just slightly to $329,100.  Activity was also up in November and December – higher than we typically see during the holiday season.

The market is still definitely favoring sellers who are positioned properly – those who are aggressively priced and in move-in condition are selling in less than 2 months on average.  There is currently 7 months of inventory available in the greater Williamsburg market, which underscores the importance of being sensitive to the competition – both in terms of price and condition.  This is particularly true in the luxury market, where market time is always longer.


Liz Moore & Associates, Rolf Kramer agent Here is what my broker Liz Moore foresees in the coming 12 months:

 “Consumer confidence continues to be our biggest challenge as the economy struggles to regain momentum.  Activity levels over the past few months suggest that there is definitely a pent-up demand on the buyer side.  My expectation is that there is also a segment of sellers who have been waiting for more favorable market conditions to list – and that should begin to happen as we move toward spring.  We are already seeing heightened listing activity in January.

As prices begin the inevitable rise, consumers will realize that moves need to be made ASAP in order to take advantage of a 6-year streak of historically low rates and home values. It’s important to note that the market can shift quickly, and the pendulum is likely to continue its swing toward lower inventory levels, creating a more competitive environment than we’ve seen in recent years.

 However, pending economic factors such as the proposed reduction of 4200 troops at Fort Eustis and current world events could definitely throw a kink in a market rebound, and remain the wild card in the forecast.  Weather can also be an issue, and a snowy or Icy winter can hold a lid on the sales start to the year.

Interest rates are a big question mark this year.  Interest rates are crazy low again, with a 30 year conventional fixed rate a full percentage point below the same time last year.  Our friends in the mortgage industry have different takes on the likelihood of a rate hike in 2015:  some predict an increase for the 3rd quarter of this year, subject of course to a continuing improvement in the economy.  Others feel that they will remain low for at least another year. 

 We recently got some great news for home buyers as FHA lowered mortgage insurance premiums, and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are now offering low down payment mortgage products (3%) in order to compete with their government counterparts.  That, combined with underwriting restrictions which are finally beginning to ease, should encourage first time buyer activity that was priced out of the market last year.

 Prices will finally begin to show improvement in many neighborhoods.  Prices are neighborhood specific, and some areas are definitely improving faster than others resulting in less than a 1% overall increase in average sales price.  I expect the market to continue to trend toward more normal appreciation rates in 2015.

 My overall message here remains the same as last year:  If a home purchase is on your New Year resolution list, buy early in the year, as interest rates have a much greater impact than most realize.  For instance, waiting for prices to drop 5% to save $12,500 on a $250,000 purchase may cost you an extra $225 per month in payments; if rates increase from 4% to 5.5%, then your payment increases from $1194 to $1419.  For most buyers, the affordability index of monthly payments is a more critical consideration.”

 If you know someone who is thinking about moving or buying or selling a home in the Williamsburg area, and would appreciate the professional level of service and personal attention that I provide, I’d love to help them. Just have them call or email me. I will be happy to follow-up and take care of their real estate needs.

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rolf kramer, real estate, Williamsburg, VARolf Kramer, REALTOR®, ABR, SRES, e-PRO 757-564-4455 Licensed in Virginia with Liz Moore and Associates, 5350 Discovery Park Blvd, Williamsburg, VA 23188 Williamsburg has become a Mecca for retirees over the past dozen years because of its history, charm, vacation amenities, proximity to major cities and airports, and affordable cost of living. Check out www.retiringinwilliamsburg.com for information about the Williamsburg community, lifestyles available, and search for homes for sale.

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