Retiring in Williamsburg Blog

Lifestyles, Community Information. Helping you find your new home


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Colonial Heritage – an Active Adult Community, in Williamsburg

Colonial Heritage is an active adult community ideally located minutes from Colonial Williamsburg. This gated community has much to offer. Amenities include an elegant clubhouse featuring a grand ballroom, fine and casual dining, grille room, card room, and billiard room. The well-appointed library with computer stations, woodworking shop, and arts and crafts room make the clubhouse a great gathering place. Other amenities are an athletic club with fitness center, indoor and outdoor pools, aerobics room, pro shop, tennis, and miles of walking and biking trails.  If golf is your passion, the Arthur Hills designed 18-hole championship golf course is both challenging and a delight for players of all abilities. Whether you are looking to make a lifestyle change or continue living the active life you currently live, Colonial Heritage is an excellent choice.  Choose from the Executive Collection, the Garden Collection, the Carriage Homes, or The Villas.  The base price of the Aspen model starts in the mid $200’s and the Tigerlilly II in the mid $400’s.

Line Dancing Class - Rolf Kramer Real Estate

Colonial Heritage Activities – Line Dancing – Williamsburg, Virginia

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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Buy and Build BEFORE you retire – create your dream in baby steps

Build Your Retirement Home Before You Retire – in other words: Buy (or build) a vacation home now with an eye to retire there.

Buy and Build BEFORE you retire - create your dream in baby steps, Rolf Kramer, Real Estate Agent

By Jeffrey R. Kosnett, From Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, August 2013

Last February, Ken Means bought a 3,000-square-foot home built in the early 1990s on 80 acres of land. Located in the Ozarks near Cabool, Mo., it is six hours from Means’s home near Peoria, Ill., so he can’t go every weekend. But when he can spare a day or two, he works on projects such as building a pond to attract waterfowl. The property is ideal for Means not only because he is an avid hunter but also because all that land comes with a reasonably new house—as opposed to a wreck in need of restoration. Plus, shopping and other basic services are no more than 15 minutes away.

Means, who is 56 and owns a fire-equipment business, says that five years ago he started toying with the idea of buying a vacation home that he could eventually retire to. Now he says he may sell his business in as little as two years—so he can resettle sooner to his spread. Land is cheap in the Ozarks, so his new property set him back less than $300,000, house included. Property taxes of less than $1,000 a year are also low.

The Missouri Ozarks is a low-income area, so there aren’t many locals with the cash to bid up property values. Dollars aside, Means says the smartest thing he did before buying his house was to take the time to look at many properties and talk to residents and real estate agents. He knows he’ll be comfortable living there permanently when the time comes.

“You’ll want to buy something early enough to get it into shape before you do retire,” says Means. “You don’t want to retire and then work your butt off, because that defeats the point.” The remote property is unlikely to attract renters, so he’s not even thinking about a listing. Instead, he has opened the door to his family. His parents recently stayed for two weeks, and his sister and her family will vacation there for a week and a half.

When you’re ready to retire, there’s surely a manicured, gated subdivision with stair-free designs and an unchallenging golf course in your area. And the easiest (and perhaps least costly) decision is to stay in place and carry on, sans the commute (see The Benefits of Aging in Place). Some more adventurous retirees choose to move to a Sunbelt mecca or even to live overseas (see How to Retire Abroad).

But there’s another way: Buy or build a retirement home before you retire. You can enjoy it now for recreation and relaxation, years before you get the gold watch. You can use it as a weekend and holiday retreat, and you can expand or adapt it gradually so it can function as a permanent residence. The home doesn’t have to accommodate every luxury you’d ever want. The location and the lay of the land are the draw.

According to the National Association of Realtors, U.S. vacation-home sales were a relatively modest 469,000 in 2010, rose to 502,000 in 2011, grew to 553,000 last year and will rise again in 2013. Prices are still depressed from the peaks of 2005 and 2006, the two years when Americans bought more than a million second homes. Still, prices rose 24% last year, to a median of $150,000 for existing properties.

With real estate prices booming again, could desirable recreational and resort-area property sell so fast that if you wait even one year to buy, you’ll strike out? Stacy Matherly, the real estate agent who sold Means his acreage, says she is inundated with e-mail inquiries from distant “sofa surfers” who are eager to go home-and-land shopping. David Knudsen, a real estate agent in Liberty, N.Y., says the second-home market generally trails the primary market by six to 12 months. It is definitely on the rebound, if still in the early stages.

Half of all second-home buyers pay cash. But that stat may be misleading because the transaction counts as a cash sale if the buyers draw on a home-equity line on their main residence to pay for abode number two. If you need a mortgage, note that the standards for vacation homes are tougher than for the purchase of a primary home. You will need excellent credit and a down payment of at least 20%. Plan on paying an interest rate on the mortgage that’s a little higher than for a first home.

Brokers who sell property within 150 miles of New York City say that affordable real estate still exists in the region, and buyers are tapping stock market profits rather than taking out bank loans to pay for it. For example, in Sullivan County, in the Catskills two to three hours northwest of Manhattan, there are listings for three-bedroom houses on five acres ranging from $200,000 to $300,000. These houses are rustic enough that you would probably want to invest in some upgrades. Direct water access, whether to a lake or river, and sweeping views pad the price substantially.

Not all preretirees are interested in an existing house, however, especially a dated ranch or bungalow. If you want to build, David Weiner, a New York City architect known for his glass-walled weekend retreats in the Catskills and the Berkshires, says the first and hardest job is finding the land. It can take as long as two years to get local permits. You can also expect to deal with environmental quirks; water and septic conditions are all over the map in rocky places such as Maine and other mountainous regions. In remote southern Colorado, where Weiner has also designed custom homes, people will pay a premium for building sites where there will be 320 sunny days a year to power their off-the-grid solar units.

In the East and Midwest, you’ll pay a premium for proximity to skiing and hiking trails, good roads, and beautiful vistas. Land becomes less expensive about a three-hour drive from a major city. The farther you go, the more land you can get for less.

Some architects will design second homes as small as 1,500 square feet. Weiner says most of his clients prefer a smaller weekend place anyway, because the cost of construction keeps creeping up—especially in rural areas, where the climate can require that the construction withstand storms, floods and wind. The total cost to build can easily reach $250 per square foot; combined with the cost of the land and the architect’s plans, you could be looking at $750,000 for even a pocket-size luxury home in a high-cost region such as New England.

Weiner says you should budget for a 10% to 15% overrun in building costs because something will go wrong, whether it’s a drainage problem or new regulations that magnify the cost of installing utilities. Fortunately, once you’ve acquired land, no one can outbid you. If you decide not to go ahead with the project, you should be able to sell the tract for a profit.

If you’re not ready to cash in your current house, or if you don’t want to or cannot borrow enough against your equity to swing the deal, you may have to negotiate a construction loan with a bank. You can eventually roll the balance into a 15-year mortgage or even pay it off if you profit enough from the sale of your primary residence.

Rent it for income?

To defray the costs of maintaining two homes, you may be able to rent your lair to short-term visitors (see Tax Breaks for Second-Home Owners). Insiders say the rental business is booming in most places, citing a high volume of bookings and rising rents at HomeAway, Vacation Rentals by Owner, Airbnb and other agencies.

In a survey by the NAR last year, more than 90% of vacation-home buyers said they planned to rent their new property within one year, and three-fourths of them expected rents to cover at least half of their mortgage. That’s more realistic now than it was during the recession, but you’re taking a chance if you expect your vacation home to function as an ATM to make the cash-flow numbers work. It’s better to buy or build something you can afford from current resources and shop diligently for the right property and price—even if your heart is telling you to rush to closing right after a memorable vacation.

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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. 


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Ready to Buy? Let Rolf Kramer Real Estate Agent Specializing in Retiring in Williamsburg HELP!

You probably have experience buying and selling real estate.  However, if it has been a long time since the last real estate transaction, you may need to learn about some of the things that have changed since your last transaction.  For example, disclosure laws, buyer representation, and reverse mortgage financing are all relatively new for buyers and sellers.  For those of you that may need a refresher, we can provide you with complete information about today’s home buying process.  Here is a great home buying guide to help you understand the current home buying process: “The Perfect Fit, Home Buying Guide“. You can also check out our Buyer ReportsFrequently Asked Questions, and Real Estate Glossary. Buyers no longer need to represent themselves during the home search and purchase, while all agents represent the seller. Smart home buyers today can receive undivided confidential representation by choosing a “Buyer’s Agent.”  Find out more about Buyer’s Agents and how we can represent you and protect your interests during your home purchasing process.

Rolf Kramer, Real Estate

Financing Your Home

The first step has not changed much.  You need to know how much you want to spend. Will you get the money from the resale of your current home? How much can you afford or qualify for?  In today’s financing process it is critical to check your credit report to know your credit worthiness.  Clear up problems, if any, before going to a lender.  A good credit rating will result in you receiving lower interest rates.  Your credit rating will also affect the rates for the property insurance on your new home.  Read more about the New Reality of Property Insurance.

Get pre-approved for a mortgage from a mortgage broker or lender, with a commitment to fund your mortgage in writing.  Ask about the various types of mortgages to find the one that may be right for you.  There are many more options than there were even five years ago.  Once pre-approved for a loan, you will know your price range to begin shopping for real estate.

Finding the Right Lifestyle, Neighborhood and Home

Check out the various lifestyles that Williamsburg has to offer.  Whether you choose an active adult community, a golf course or country club community, waterfront living, urban condominium, suburban single family, or if continuing care is needed, you will find them here.

Determine the type of neighborhood you are looking for.  Do you prefer a neighborhood with lots of trees, one in the middle of town or out in the country?  Would you like to have easy access to a highway?  Do you prefer a community with a Home Owners Association or one without?

Make a wish list of all the specifications you want in your home.  Prioritize the list based on your wants and needs.  Next, mark out those aspects that you are willing to compromise on, in case you need to.  Then start searching for your home. You can search the Williamsburg MLS right from our website, or you can have us do it for you.
Review the property listings that meet your needs.  Select properties to see in person and then tour them with us, your Buyer’s Agent.  Once you have selected the property that best meets your needs, we will generate a Comparative Market Analysis to determine the market value of the property.  We will then write and negotiate an offer to purchase the property.

Closing the Deal

Once the contract is ratified we will continue to represent you and assist you throughout the post-contract procedures.  This will include participating in a professional home inspection, selecting your settlement attorney, obtaining property insurance, contacting utility companies, conducting the pre-settlement walk-through, and the Settlement at your attorney’s office.

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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About Rolf Kramer – who am ?

You know you are ready to retire. You know you want to live in Williamsburg, and you found this blog. But, why should you hire Rolf Kramer to represent you when you are searching for your home and negotiate a home purchase in Williamsburg?
 Rolf Kramer, Real Estate - licensed agent in Virginia
Rolf Kramer
REALTOR ®
ABR, SRES, e-PRO
Williamsburg Office
rolfkramer@lizmoore.com
(757) 564-4455 Cell
(757) 240-2584 Direct Fax
(757) 645-4106 Office
(800) 825-2707 Toll-free

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I provide my clients with state of the art technology, sophisticated marketing techniques, up-to-the-minute information, and the expertise demanded by today’s rapidly changing market. My services are backed by Liz Moore and Associates, devoted advocates for the consumer! Every home Liz Moore and Associates markets will have a professional and independent property inspection by an NAHI-certified home inspector, a market evaluation by a licensed appraiser, and a complete termite and moisture inspection by a bonded exterminator. Best of all, this is done at our expense. An innovation pioneered by Liz Moore and Associates, this process provides advantages for both buyer and seller. It allows our agents to accurately pinpoint true market value, ensures that you are advised of value and potential repair issues up front, before negotiating price and committing to terms, and avoids eleventh hour discoveries that can derail a sale. Liz Moore and Associates takes the surprise, and a lot of the stress, out of home buying and selling.

When I work for my clients they can always be assured that I will be truthful, do my very best for them and get the job done right. I learned this from building a 30 year professional consulting career. That career was based on a tradition of listening to clients and then delivering expert knowledge, advice, and determined hard work to help my clients fulfill their needs. That is what I do for my real estate clients.

As a Realtor, I have come to realize that I don´t buy and sell real estate. What I really do is help people change their lives. When people move from one home to another, it changes where their kids go to school, where their family worships, and their sphere of friends. It dramatically changes their lives. I have a big part in making that happen and I take that very seriously.

Making this family life change a successful change is what puts a smile on my face and in my heart. I really get a kick out of having my clients come back to me and thank me for the helping them get what they wanted, where they wanted to go, when they wanted to go, and without undue stress.

I am in the business to make money because my most important job every day is to create security, stability, and a future for my family. I build that business by working with people like you and taking excellent care of them and their real estate needs.

As a Buyer’s Agent: I employ detailed interviews to identify a client’s needs and review every available property through extensive resources, including several Multiple Listing Services, online newspaper classifieds, and For Sale by Owner web sites. Clients are immediately notified via email about any new properties that fit their needs. Clients are provided with their own internet portal where they can sort their properties into favorites, possibilities, and rejects. As a real estate professional and long time resident of Williamsburg, I offer my clients an insider’s perspective on the local real estate market.

As a Seller’s Agent: I use a variety of advanced marketing tools. Clients are provided enhanced Internet listings on http://www.realtor.com, http://www.point2nls.com, http://www.craigslist.com, http://www.backpage.com, http://www.rolfkramer.net, http://www.retiringinwilliamsburg.com, http://www.yahoo.com, http://www.googlebase.com, http://www.zillow.com, and http://www.trulia.com, which present their property to millions of online buyers actively looking to purchase. Buyers can directly access the property´s details, multiple pictures, and panoramic and 360° Virtual Tours. Properties are listed in two local Multiple Listing Services (MLS) and lock boxes are provided for easy access by more Realtors. I use traditional marketing techniques that still help sell a house in today´s market: For sale sign and a box with flyers on the lawn for drive-bys; open house for the public; broker open house; advertising in newspapers and magazines, and ‘Just Listed’ postcards to neighbors. I maximize the market exposure of my client’s property to include all sources of first contact for home buyers.

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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Retiring. Golfing. The Good Life in Williamsburg

Braemar Creek at Greensprings Plantation is a condominium community in a beautiful lake and golf course setting.  A number of the buildings line holes on Williamsburg National’s newest course, the Yorktown.  The course is a traditional design by Tom Clark with no gimmicks.  The Jamestown course is an award winning Jack Nicklaus group design.  It was named “One of the 10 best courses you can play in Virginia” by Golf Digest Magazine.  Prices start in the low $200’s and amenities include a clubhouse featuring a workout room, kitchen, lounge, huge porch overlooking the pool.  They also offer tennis courts and playground.

A bad day of golf - Rolf Kramer Real Estate Agent

Brickshire may just be the perfect blend of relaxing countryside living, exciting recreational and cultural opportunities all in one location.  Located midway between Richmond and Williamsburg, the Curtis Strange signature golf course is “player friendly” and contains replicas of some of his favorite holes from around the world.  The community covers 1,135 acres of rolling hills and woodlands.  Amenities include an owner’s clubhouse, swimming complex, tennis courts, fitness center, two nature trails, and walking trails.  Developer’s lots have sold out.  However, resale home sites are available and start around $100,000.  The Sanctuary offers builder spec homes starting in the mid $300’s.  The Preserve and Kings Pond neighborhoods feature custom homes starting in the $500’s.  Luxury patio homes featured in the BelGreen section start in the $300’s.

Ford’s Colony was voted the Number One Master Plan in Continental U.S. by the American Resort Development Association.  A golf and country club lifestyle awaits you within its gates.  Three Dan Maples designed golf courses were built with an appreciation for all levels of play.  You will find homes rich in architectural tradition.  Styles include Colonial, Greek Revival, Georgian, and Federal providing every modern convenience and amenity you desire.  If your preference is low maintenance living, the courtyard homes located on the golf course start at $499,000. Luxury town homes begin at $300,000. Or, if you prefer, select a homesite and build the home of your dreams. Choose from homesites on the golf course, next to the wildlife preserve, overlooking a lake or nestled in a wooded setting. Homesites range from 1/4-acre to over an acre in size and are priced from $125,000 to $1,250,000.  Resale homes start at $345,000 for a single family attached home to spectacular homes over $2 million.

Colonial Heritage is “THE” destination for active adults 55+ years of age and better.  Enjoy life to the fullest in an ideally located community with great amenities combined with small town charm and city conveniences all creating an unsurpassed lifestyle.  At Colonial Heritage, you will enjoy the comfortable pace of small town living enhanced with a wealth of recreational, educational, and cultural opportunities.  This 695-acre, 1500 homesite, 24-hour manned gated community with miles of walking and biking paths, world class amenities and affordable living for an active adult lifestyle is a place you will call home. Amenities include a 25,000 square foot Heritage Club featuring casual dining, ballroom with stage, cards and billiards, woodworking, arts & crafts, and library with computer stations.  The 8,500 square feet Athletic Club features a  heated indoor pool with a spa, an outdoor pool with expansive terrace, state of the art fitness center, golf pro shop, and snack bar.  For the tennis enthusiast there are outdoor tennis courts. Colonial Heritage is home to an Arthur Hills designed 18-hole Championship Golf Course with a putting green and driving range.  Golfers are invited to hone their skills at the sprawling practice range and short game facility. The driving range offers golfers the luxury of natural grass tee boxes to enrich your learning and practice experience. Sharpen your short game proficiency at the large arched chipping green which features two bunkers and putting green.

Governor’s Land At Two Rivers is described as, a warm and welcoming community where interesting people of all ages, professions and backgrounds come together to enjoy a unique lifestyle.  Located along a pristine stretch of unspoiled waterfront along the shores of the James and Chickahominy Rivers.  Governor’s Land is a luxury residential community offering all of the advantages of country club living.  The Tom Fazio designed, Two Rivers Golf Course is the only private community golf club in Williamsburg.  The community boasts a premier marina nestled in a protected private harbor providing a safe haven or boats up to 50-feet in length.  Easy boat ramp access to the beautiful James River will lead you to adventures on the Chickahominy River and the Chesapeake Bay.  Homes start in the high $500’s up to well over $2 million.  Land is available starting in the high $160’s going as high as $1.5 million.  Once you experienced a sunset from the terrace of the clubhouse, you won’t settle for anything less.

Greensprings Plantation is a wooded subdivision of 175 homes on lots that are larger than the average size found in subdivisions around Williamsburg.  Some of the properties back to Williamsburg National’s Jamestown golf course.  The community amenities include a clubhouse, pool, playground and tennis courts.  Home prices start in the mid $400’s.
Greensprings West is a 365 home master planned community wrapped around Williamsburg National’s Yorktown golf course.  The Tom Clark design is a 7,000 yard championship course of traditional design with no gimmicks.  The subdivision has an active HOA (home owners association) and offers a clubhouse, pool, tennis, lakes and community events.  Resale home prices start in the high $300’s.  Homesites are available starting in the mid $130’s to the mid $230’s with 14 builders to choose from.
Kingsmill on the James is a gated community located on the banks of the James River near historic Williamsburg.  Golf until your heart is content on a trio of 18-hole golf courses and a 9-hole par 3 course.  The community’s crown jewel is The River Course the site of the Michelob Ultra Open, an LPGA Tour event.  While it is exciting to play these prestigious golf courses, having one right outside your back door is priceless.  The community offers a variety of exclusive neighborhoods including resale resort condominiums ($170,000-$500,000), resale single family homes ($350,000-$3.5 million), resale patio homes adjacent to golf course ($400,000-$550,000), new homes (starting at $600,000), luxury riverfront townhomes ($775,000-$1.5 million), and River Bluffs luxury condominiums ($775,000-$1.5 million).  If boating is your passion, check out the marina.

Stonehouse/Stonehouse Glen is located just minutes west of Williamsburg.  It’s close proximity to I-64 gives it easy access to Richmond and Newport News.  This planned community is surrounded by the prestegious Tradition Golf Club at Stonehouse winding over 6,962 yards of steep forested hills, wide plateaus, and abrupt ravines.  Gentle rolling hills and wooded lots showcase beautiful homes.  The Orchard Hill neighborhood features smaller lots with single family homes ranging from the mid to upper $300’s.  Other neighborhoods feature mid-level and custom homes from the high $300’s to near $1 million.  Neighborhood amenitites include a clubhouse, tennis, playground, pool, RV parking and neighborhood garden.  Stonehouse Glen is a new phase being developed featuring new home construction with base prices from the high $300’s to the mid $520’s.  Future plans include a clubhouse and pool.

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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Choosing a Mortgage Lender, in Williamsburg, Virginia

Since a home may be the largest purchase you will ever make, choosing the right mortgage lender is a very important decision, and one you should make early in the home-buying process, before you begin your house hunting.

  1. A lender can help you narrow down your desired price range, both in terms of what you will qualify for, and also in terms of what’s comfortable.
  2. Having a thorough understanding of how much cash you’ll need for a down payment and closing costs is essential to know before you begin to formulate a negotiating strategy.
  3. Today’s sellers won’t accept an offer until they can review a written pre-approval letter. Many sellers require that pre-approval letter comes from a local, reputable lender.

Rolf Kramer, REALTOR

Which lender and financing program is best for you? The answer depends on:

  •  Your current financial situation
  • How you expect your finances to change over time
  • How long you intend to live in your home
  • Your comfort level with adjustable interest rates

I recommend local lenders in our market that I often work with and have selected based on consistently competitive rates and a variety of financing options. Each of the lenders I work with is committed to the same level of extraordinary service that I am.

I have lots of wonderful information about the Williamsburg area and if you follow this blog, you’ll learn everything you wanted to know about events, discounts, and why you should use me when you are ready to buy. Follow me on Facebook or Pinterest for home-buying inspiration and to learn about hot spots in, and around, Williamsburg. 

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.