Archive for September, 2013

Harry’s Monthly Real Estate Insight

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

There is good news in our market. For the area our MLS covers, the sales were up 7.96% over August of last year and the pending sales were up 12.02%. Cross Realty has experienced even better results over last year. We had quite a good August and September has started strong for sales. This is good news and it may be a sign that we are moving into a better market. The total number of listings actually went up over last August, but they were predominantly home owners not bank owned properties.

We do still have a 15-22% influx of bank owned sales and listings. This is still negatively effecting the market, but it is better. Two things that need to happen to get to a good real estate market are a better economy and bank owned properties down to 5%. This is going to take some time. There are 600 +/- homes for sale in the Suffolk area. This number is about the same for August 2011 and 2012. This tells me that we still have a ways to go to get the Supply and Demand in a better place.

I expect that we will have a better than average fall until mid November when the market seasonally slows. So, lets get started selling and listing in this great fall weather. I have a $50.00 Lowe’s card for the best local picture of fall leaves! You In? Email me:

Recipe of the Month

Thursday, September 12th, 2013
Big Easy Gumbo


1/2 cup peanut oil
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped sweet onion
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 cup chopped celery
2 teaspoons Creole seasoning
2 teaspoons minced garlic
3 (14-oz.) cans low-sodium chicken broth
4 cups shredded cooked chicken
1/2 pound Andouille sausage, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 1/2 cups frozen black-eyed peas, thawed
1 pound peeled, large raw shrimp (1 6/20 count)
  1. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat; gradually whisk in flour, and cook, whisking constantly, 5 to 7 minutes or until flour is chocolate colored. (Do not burn mixture.)
  2. Reduce heat to medium. Stir in onion and next 4 ingredients, and cook, stirring constantly, 3 minutes. Gradually stir in chicken broth; add chicken and next 2 ingredients. Increase heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 20 minutes. Add shrimp, and cook 5 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink.
Note: We tested with Zatarain’s Creole Seasoning and Savoie’s Andouille Sausage.
Southern Living Magazine

Should You Buy a Home That Has Been a Rental?

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

Most homes on the market are owner-occupied, but that’s not always the case. In recent years, many home owners ended up renting out their homes when they could not sell but needed to move elsewhere. Now that the market is shifting, many of those accidental landlords are looking to sell. At first glance, buying a home that’s been rented out by the current owner may not appear different from buying any other home, but there are some potential issues to keep in mind.

1) Check the overall condition.
Some rental homes are in terrific shape: The renters have kept up with maintenance and have even made improvements such as fresh paint. In other cases, the rental hasn’t received much love. Because the home isn’t truly their own, some renters can be rough on a rental. Also, renters may not notice or report some of the maintenance issues that an owner would readily pick up on and address. A rented home may have additional wear and tear, especially if it has been used as a rental for many years and through multiple tenancies. Ask your insurance agent to check the history of past insurance claims on the property.

2) How’s the neighborhood?
Factor in the neighborhood: Are the surrounding homes mostly rentals? Is the neighborhood mostly single-family homes or a mix of multi-rental units along with other homes? Owner-occupied neighborhoods can be better protected against possible market-value fluctuations. Also look at the appearance of other homes on the street. Do they have well-tended yards? How does the condition of the home you are looking at compare? If the home you are interested in compares poorly with others in the area, that may help you strike a better deal.

3) Is it occupied?
If there are tenants, tour while they aren’t home. While a tenant can be a source of information about a home, they may not want to move and may try to prevent the sale by complaining about the property. Look for signs of obvious damage, holes in the walls, stained or ripped carpeting, damaged flooring, leaky faucets, and mold. Be sure to check  out all rooms and the basement, garage, or attic. You can tell a lot about how the home has been maintained by looking at how the tenants are living in the property.

4) Is it unoccupied?
If a home has been unoccupied for a while, find out for how long. Sometimes — although less common lately — these homes are listed at a reduced price. Unoccupied homes may have lacked attention and may need repairs or basic maintenance. If the home was unoccupied and the utilities have been turned off, that may prevent a prospective purchaser from doing a thorough home inspection. Depending on the area, sometimes utilities can be turned on temporarily, but it often requires putting the utilities in the prospective buyer’s name. Vacant homes can also have broken pipes, leaky roofs, mold or damage from pests, so a thorough inspection is vital.

Check the HVAC and get a home warranty. Being a rental sometimes the air conditioning filter was probably not changed, and that is the worst thing for the system.

Your home inspection will alert you to any repairs the home may need before you move in, and it can give you bargaining power if there are potential issues.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Homeowners Associations

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

Talk to 10 different people about homeowners associations (HOAs), and you’ll likely get 10 different opinions. Some people love living in a development with an HOA, while others find it too restrictive. Depending on your lifestyle and needs, it can be a great experience or one that feels too intrusive. Today about one in five Americans live in a house with home-owner or condo fees.

HOAs began in the mid-19th century but didn’t really gain in popularity until the early 1960s, as an outgrowth of the postwar housing boom and the growth of the middle class. Typically, an HOA is incorporated by the developer during the development and sales process, and gradually control and ownership are transferred to the home purchasers upon completion of the project. The original owner/developer quits membership in the association and has nothing more to do with it. Anyone purchasing a home in an existing housing development with an HOA must become a member. There is no other option. The overall purpose of the HOA is to represent the residents. Depending on how active these associations are, they can be quite effective in providing forums for common home-owner representation and needs.

HOAs Are Like Small Towns

A homeowners association governs the development like a small town. The HOA’s powers include imposing fines, organizing activities and providing certain services. It can also levy assessments and force home owners to pay them. Many HOAs have yearly dues, and a homeowners association can legally impose monetary fines to enforce its decisions. The groups usually appoint a board of directors, which may then elect an association president and other officers. Meetings are typically monthly but can be quarterly, depending on the size of the group.

If the HOA is larger, it will likely be broken down into committees. Committees are also appointed for various activities: maintenance, membership dues and neighborhood representation. An accounting committee or, in smaller HOAs, an individual is assigned to present the annual budget and monitor expenses and funds collected. During the foreclosure crisis, some HOAs began to lose revenue as people living in homes facing foreclosure stopped paying their fees.

HOAs Can Promote Neighborhood Harmony and Uniformity

HOAs offer many benefits to the home owner. According to the bylaws of the association, it can collectively represent the group for whatever purposes assigned. For example, to maintain a certain degree of conformity, the association can stipulate which changes are permitted for the exterior of the buildings. Sometimes the HOA can determine acceptable noise levels. If there are common areas, such as gardens and pools, the members can appoint an internal management committee or elect to bring in an outside maintenance company. On snowy days, a snow-removal company may need to be called in, and this service will be paid for out of the association’s funds. For condos or groups with shared structures or parking lots, fees can go to upkeep.

HOAs Can Be Restrictive and a Financial Drain

If you want to change the color of your house or even add a new tree, you may run afoul of your local organization. Also, if your HOA decides to undertake a major capital improvement project and the governing group approves it, you may be left with no choice but to pay your share. If you fail to pay your dues or you go against the HOA rules, you could be assessed fees and late charges. If you disagree with some of the rules, it can be very hard to get them changed.

Overall, most people see an HOA as a positive. According to the Foundation for Community Association Research (FCAR), 70 percent of residents in common-interest communities say they are satisfied with their community-association experience. The FCAR’s research also found that 76 percent believe their own community-association rules “protect and enhance” property values.

Featured Property of the Week

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013



1600 Stone Moss Reach, Unit #B     Chesapeake, VA 23320

Tons of extras & upgrades done within the last year: energy efficient replacement windows w/lifetime warranty, energy efficient sliding glass patio door, new paint, plus many more. Move in ready & priced to sell. Listed $15,000 under city assessment & under May 2013 appraisal. First floor unit.

Listed by: Lee Cross


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