Archive for April, 2013

Featured Property of the Week

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

1313 Holland Road Suffolk VA-small-001-Front of Home-666x443-72dpi

1313 Holland Rd   Suffolk, VA 23434

Spotless Brick Cape Cod. 4 bedrooms, 2 baths, large living room with fireplace, dining room, & large totally renovated kitchen. Utility room, two sun porches, two heat sources & central AC. All new windows 2 years ago.

Listed by: Marion Grigg

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7 iPhone Apps For Home Improvements

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

Was a home improvement project on your list of New Years Resolutions? If so, there are apps to help you with everything from cleaning the drapes to refinishing your floors.

1. Color Capture and ColorSnap
Download: Color Capture from Benjamin Moore for iPhone and ColorSnap from Sherwin-Williams for iPhone.
Price: Free

Repainting your bedroom? Maybe even the whole house? Choosing a color to paint your walls can be pretty intimidating — there are thousands of options! And what if you already have a color in mind but aren’t sure how to find it in the paint aisle at the hardware store? Maybe you want to paint your bathroom walls to match a certain color towel or paint your living room to match the sofa.

These apps can help. Using your phone’s camera, you can take a picture of anything you like, and the app will analyze the colors in the photo and show you the closest match in its color line. Color Capture is available for iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, and Android phones; ColorSnap is available for iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry. Both apps are free.

2. iHandy Carpenter
Download: iHandy Carpenter for iPhone
Price: $1.99

With this app, $1.99 buys you 5 essential tools for home improvement. There’s a plumb bob, a surface level, a bubble level bar, a steel protractor, and a ruler. While it probably won’t replace the real thing if you want to be absolutely certain that your walls are straight or your measurements are accurate, it’s very handy for quick estimations.

3. HomeSmarts
Download: HomeSmarts for iPhone
Price: Free

This free app is designed to help you remember all the tasks that go into maintaining a home. HomeSmarts starts with a short survey to gather basic information about your home, including the type of heating and cooling system you have, whether or not you have a pool or a garage, and so on. Once it has this information, it will create a yearly schedule of items that need your attention, and you can adjust how you receive alerts.

The developers of this app have quite a sense of humor, making you smile with messages like “shoveling coal into the servers” and “charging the flux capacitor” as it’s loading up your items.

4. Home Maintenance
Download: Home Maintenance for iPhone
Price: $4.99

Much like HomeSmarts, Home Maintenance helps you keep track of home maintenance tasks. This app costs $4.99 but includes a much wider range of features and capabilities. You can add more than one house and note facts like the date it was built, date purchased, purchase price, and appraised value. For each house, you can then add custom tasks or choose from predefined lists such as chimney cleaning and deck maintenance. You can even add photos for any item and email yourself a complete maintenance record.

5. Chore Pad
Download: Chore Pad for iPhone
Price: $2.99

Finding it hard to motivate yourself to get those chores done? Finding it hard to motivate your kids to get their chores done? Chore Pad can help! Add the members of your household, then add as many chores as you want, assign them to different people, and set up their frequency. You can also set up rewards, and as you complete tasks, you collect stars that you can then turn in for rewards. Get your kids to clean up their rooms by bribing — motivating — them with, say, a trip to the ice cream shop. At $2.99, this app is both affordable and useful.

6. HandyMan Sidekick
Download: HandyMan Sidekick for iPhone
Price: $1.99

This highly recommended home improvement app does it all. Whether you’re painting or wallpapering a room, putting mulch in your garden, or trying to figure out how much drywall you’ll need, just plug in the dimensions of your space, subtract any doors and windows, and figure out exactly how much you’ll need. There’s also a handy metric-to-imperial (and back) converter and a flashlight so you can see in those small, dark corners of the house.

7. Handy Man DIY
Download: Handy Man DIY for iPhone
Price: $1.99

Much like HandyMan Sidekick, Handy Man DIY offers calculators to help you figure out how much paint, wallpaper, flooring, or trim you need to complete your project. You can also create shopping lists (or choose from prebuilt options), store room dimensions for later use, create lists of tasks for each project, or check seasonal reminders of home maintenance tasks for various times of the year.

Now you have no excuse to get cracking on that to-do list! Except perhaps that it’s a gorgeous day and there’s fresh iced tea in the fridge… but at least with these handy apps, you’ll be able to get your chores done sooner and enjoy the spring!

This article originally appeared on

Mortgage Rates Heading Toward Historic Lows

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

Mortgage rates fell again this week (April 14th) and continue to trend downward, inching closer to historic lows. It is the third consecutive week in which home loans saw a decline, according to the latest survey by mortgage buyer Freddie Mac. However, the week-over-week change in home loans was minimal or “rangebound,” to use mortgage industry-speak.

The average rate for a 30-year fixed loan saw a minor change, moving slightly down from last week’s 3.43% to 3.41%. As it stands, loans are now just .1% away from the historic low reached in November, 3.31%, which was the lowest average for a 30-year fixed dating back to 1971.

The relatively static change can likely be attributed to continued stabilization of U.S. economic conditions. The bond market has especially benefited from uncertainty in the stock market, a relationship that will continue to have a dramatic effect on mortgage rates moving forward, according to mortgage expert Al Bowman:

“This leaves the stock markets to be the biggest influence on bond trading and changes to mortgage rates. If we see sizable stock gains, bonds will likely be pressured, leading to slightly higher mortgage rates. On the other hand, if the up and down pattern in stocks continues tomorrow, we are due to see the major stock indexes in negative territory. If that is the case, we should see a positive morning in bonds with a slight improvement to mortgage pricing.

The 30-year fixed wasn’t the only loan to see a slight dip. The average rate on a 15-year fixed mortgage also fell marginally, creeping slightly downward from last week’s 2.65% to 2.64%, which is now just a hair above (.01%) above the historic low.

Additionally, hybrid 5-year adjustable-rate mortgage went down from 2.62% from a week ago to 2.60%. The 1-year ARM, however, saw a slight increase week-over-week, moving up to 2.63% from last week’s 2.62%.

While some attribute the continued decline of interest rates to the bond and job markets, Frank E. Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist, points to weak consumer spending. “Retail sales contracted for the second time in three months, falling 0.4 percent in March,” Nothaft said in a statement. “In addition, the University of Michigan reported their Consumer Sentiment Index dropped 6.3 points in April to settle at 72.3, its lowest level since July. The April reading snapped a streak of three consecutive gains.”

Barring a surprise, rates are expected to remain consistent moving forward, presenting home buyers and people looking to refinance an opportunity to benefit from rates at near-historic levels.

Recipe of the Month

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

Spaghetti with Sausage and Peppers



8 ounces uncooked spaghetti
1 (1-lb.) package mild Italian sausage, casings removed
1 medium onion, cut into eighths
1 medium-size green bell pepper, cut into strips
1 medium-size red or yellow bell pepper, cut into strips
2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 (28-oz.) can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Prepare pasta according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, cook sausage in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat 8 to 10 minutes or until meat is no longer pink, breaking sausage into pieces while cooking. Remove sausage and drippings from Dutch oven, and drain well on paper towels.
  3. Sauté onion and next 3 ingredients in hot oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat 5 to 6 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender. Stir in tomatoes, salt, and pepper; cook 4 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Stir in sausage, pasta, and cheese. Transfer mixture to serving platter, and serve immediately.

To freeze: Prepare recipe as directed. Cool 30 minutes. Place pasta mixture in a 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Freeze up to 2 months. Thaw in refrigerator 24 hours. Preheat oven to 350°. Remove and discard plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Cover with aluminum foil, and bake at 350° for 40 to 45 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Turkey Spaghetti With Sausage and Peppers: Substitute 1 (1-lb.) package Italian turkey sausage for mild Italian sausage. Remove and discard casings from sausage. Increase olive oil to 2 Tbsp. Cook sausage in 1 Tbsp. hot oil as directed in Step 2. Discard any drippings in Dutch oven. Proceed with recipe as directed, sautéing onion and next 3 ingredients in remaining 1 Tbsp. oil.

Southern Living Magazine

Featured Property of the Week

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

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104 Edgewood Ave   Suffolk, VA 23434

Stately Colonial ranch with water view from spacious sun room and den. Hardwood floors, formal living & dining room, den with fire place, master with full bath, oversized garage with great storage in attic with permanent stairs. Private setting near shopping & restaurants.

Listed by: Lee Cross

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Featured Property of the Week

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013


800 Milford Lane   Suffolk, VA 23434

Peaceful country paradise! Great open floor plan, new carpet, eat in kitchen & lg master suite. All bedrooms have walk-in closets, master bath features a soaking tub with separate shower. 800 sq. ft. of unfinished space upstairs for potential expansion and new detached garage. 4 flat screen TV’s convey.

Listed by: Lee Cross

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