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Archive for the ‘2 – RE BUYER RESOURCES’ Category

Here is an excellent article about wood floors from REALTOR Magazine. I hope you’ll find it helpful:

“Just as with ties and hem lengths, wood flooring styles change. Colors get darker or lighter; planks get narrower or wider; woods with more or less grain show swings in popularity; softer or harder species gain or lose fans; and the wood itself may be older, newer, or even pre-engineered with a top layer or veneer-glued to a substrate to decrease expansion and contraction from moisture.

Here are key categories for consideration:

Solid Plank

This is what some refer to as “real” wood because the wood usually ranges from three-eighths to three-quarters of an inch in total thickness to permit refinishing and sanding. Thicker floors have a thicker wear layer to allow for more frequent refinishing and sanding, so they can withstand decades of use, says architect Julie Hacker of Stuart Cohen and Julie Hacker Architects. It also can be stained, come from different species of tree, and be sold in numerous widths and lengths:

  • Width and length: Designer Steven Gurowitz, owner of Interiors by Steven G., is among those who prefers solid flooring for many installations because of its rich, warm look. Like other design professionals, he’s seeing greater interest in boards wider than the once-standard 2 ¾ to 3 ¾ inches — typically 5 to 6 inches now but even beyond 10 inches. And he’s also seeing corresponding interest in longer lengths, depending on the species. Width and length should be in proportion. “The wider a board gets, the longer the planks need to be, too, and in proportion,” says Chris Sy, vice president with Carlisle Wide Plank Floors. These oversized dimensions reflect the same trend toward bigger stone and ceramic slabs. The downside is greater cost.
  • Palette: Gurowitz and others are also hearing more requests for darker hues among clients in the northeastern United States, while those in the South and West still gravitate toward lighter colors. But Sprigg Lynn, on the board of the National Wood Flooring Association and with Universal Floors, says the hottest trend is toward a gray or driftwood. Handscraped, antique boards that look aged and have texture, sometimes beveled edges, are also become more popular, even in modern interiors, though they may cost much more.
  • Species and price: Depending on the preference of the stain color, Gurowitz favors mostly mahogany, hickory, walnut, oak, and pine boards. Oak may be the industry’s bread and butter because of the ease of staining it and a relatively low price point. A basic 2 ¼-inch red oak might, for instance, run $6.50 a square foot while a 2 ¼-inch red oak that’s rift and quartered might sell for a slightly higher $8.50 a square foot.
  • Maintenance: How much care home owners want to invest in their floors should also factor in their decision. Pine is quite soft and will show more wear than a harder wood like mahogany or walnut, but it’s less expensive. In certain regions such as the South, pine comes in a harder version known as heart pine that’s popular, says Georgia-based designer Mary Lafevers of Inscape Design Studio. Home owners should understand the different choices because they affect how often they need to refinish the wood, which could be every four to five years, says Susan Brunstrum of Sweet Peas Design-Inspired Interior. Also, Sy says that solid planks can be installed over radiant heating, but they demand expert installation.

Engineered Wood

Also referred to as prefabricated wood, this genre has become popular because the top layer or veneer is glued to wood beneath to reduce expansion and contraction that happens with solid boards due to climatic effects, says Sy, whose firm sells both types. He recommends engineered, depending on the amount of humidity. If home owners go with a prefabricated floor, he advises a veneer of at least one-quarter inch. “If it’s too thin, you won’t have enough surface to sand,” he says. And he suggests a thick enough substrate for a stable underlayment that won’t move as moisture levels in a home shift.

His company’s offerings include an 11-ply marine-grade birch. The myth that engineered boards only come prestained is untrue. “They can be bought unfinished,” he says. Engineered boards are also a good choice for home owners planning to age in place, since there are fewer gaps between boards for a stable surface, says Aaron D. Murphy, an architect with ADM Architecture Inc. and a certified Aging in Place specialist with the National Association of Home Builders.

Reclaimed Wood

Typically defined as recycled wood — perhaps from an old barn or factory — reclaimed wood has gained fans because of its aged, imperfect patina and sustainability; you’re reusing something rather than cutting down more trees. Though less plentiful and more expensive because of the time required to locate and renew samples, it offers a solid surface underfoot since it’s from old-growth trees, says Lynn. Some companies have come to specialize in rescuing logs that have been underwater for decades, even a century. West Branch Heritage Timber,for instance, removes “forgotten” native pine and spruce from swamps, cuts them to desired widths and lengths, and lays them atop ½-inch birch to combine the best of engineered and reclaimed. “The advantage is that it can be resanded after wear since it’s thicker than most prefabricated floors, can be laid atop radiant mats, and doesn’t include toxins,” Managing Partner Tom Shafer says. A downside is a higher price of about $12 to $17 a square foot.

Porcelain “Wood”

A new competitor that closely resembles wood, Gurowitz saysporcelain wood offers advantages: indestructibility, varied colors, “graining” that mimics old wood, wide and long lengths, quickness in installation, and no maintenance. “You can spill red wine on it and nothing happens; if there’s a leak in an apartment above, it won’t be destroyed,” he says. Average prices run an affordable $3.50 to $8 a square foot. The biggest downside? It doesn’t feel like wood since it’s colder to the touch, Lynn says.

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Bottom line: When home owners are making a choice or comparing floors, they should ask these questions:

1. Do you want engineered or solid-based floors, depending on your home’s conditions?

2. Do you want a floor with more natural character, or less?

3. What board width do you want?

4. How critical is length to you in reducing the overall number of seams?

5. What color range do you want — light, medium, or dark?

6. Do you want more aggressive graining like oak or a mellower grain like walnut?

7. Do you want flooring prefinished or unfinished?

8. How thick is the wear layer in the floor you’re considering, which will affect your ability to refinish it over time?

9. What type of finish are you going to use? Can it be refinished and, if so, how?

10. For wider planks that provide greater stability: Where is the wood coming from, how is it dried, what is its moisture content, and what type of substrate is used in the engineered platform?

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SOURCE: REALTOR Magazine

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The median home size most highly desired among home shoppers is 2,226 square feet, according to the National Association of Home Builders’ “What Home Buyers Really Want” survey.

The size of home most desired can vary greatly depending on the buyers’ age, race, and ethnicity, the study found.

As buyers’ ages increase, they tend to want less space, the study finds:

  • Buyers younger than 35 said they most desire a home size of 2,494 square feet.
  • Buyers 65 and older, they want a home that is 2,065 square feet.

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MORTGAGE LOAN INTEREST RATES

MORTGAGE LOAN CALCULATORS

SEPTEMBER 2013 NATIONAL AVERAGE

for CONFORMING 30 YEAR FIXED LOANS is

4.45%

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CHECK TODAY’s MORTGAGE NEWS & MORTGAGE INTEREST RATES in VIRGINIA & OTHER STATES for 

FIXED RATES LOANS (40 yr fixed, 30 yr fixed, 15 yr fixed, 10 yr fixed)
FHA LOANS (30 yr FHA fixed, 15 yr FHA fixed) 
VA LOANS (30 yr VA fixed, 15 yr VA fixed)
ADJUSTABLE RATES LOANS (7 yr ARM, 5 yr ARM, 3 yr ARM, 1 yr ARM)
Mortgage Calculators & Interest Rates in VIRGINIA and much more:

http://www.realtorviviannerutkowski.com/mortgagenewsframe.shtml


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BASIC CALCULATOR: http://www.realtorviviannerutkowski.com/calculator.shtml

REALTOR.com MORTGAGE CALCULATOR: http://www.realtor.com/home-finance/financial-calculators/home-affordability-calculator.aspx

ZILLOW MORTGAGE CALCULATOR: http://www.zillow.com/mortgage-rates/

OTHER MORTGAGE CALCULATORS

CREDIT REPORTS

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MORTGAGE QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS: http://www.realtorviviannerutkowski.com/mort_1.shtml

HOME BUYER’s GUIDE: http://www.realtorviviannerutkowski.com/buy_guide.shtml

REAL ESTATE GLOSSARY: http://www.realtorviviannerutkowski.com/re_glossary.shtml

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NOTE: The amount of loan a borrower can qualify for depends greatly on the following factors: borrower’s credit score, monthly & yearly income, size of the downpayment, loan-to-income-ratio, loan-to-value-ratio, primary residence vs investment property, type of the loan (conventional, FHA, VA, VHDA), etc.

NOTE: For financing advice and pre-qualification always contact lender of your choice, or contact me directly for suggestions of lenders you might want to contact. Home Buyers are advised to contact a few lenders before committing to a loan.

NOTE: When comparing loan products various lenders offer, be sure to compare 30 year fixed loan to 30 year fixed, 15 year fixed to 15 year fixed, FHA loan to FHA loan, VA loan to VA loan, as in apples to apples and oranges to oranges.

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Best Regards,

VIVIANNE RUTKOWSKI

REALTOR®, ABR, GRI, SFR, CHRE, CDPE
Licensed in Virginia
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage

Toll-Free:  877.765.3799
Mobile: 540.229.5429
Texting: 540-229-5429
E-Fax: 888.864.3374
E-mail: VivianneRutkowski@GMAIL.com
WEBSITE: www.RealtorVivianneRutkowski.com
WEBSITE: www.RealEstateWithViv.com
BLOG: http://VivianneRutkowski.WordPress.com
TRULIA:  http://www.trulia.com/profile/VivianneRutkowski/
ZILLOW: http://www.zillow.com/profile/VivianneRutkowski/

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[NOTE: name pronounced: ViviAnne Rootkovski ]

equalhousingo-logo  mls_realtor1

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INTEREST RATES and MORTGAGE CALCULATORS for HOME BUYERS in Arlington County VA & Arlington VA, Fairfax County  VA & Great Falls VA, Chantilly VA, Centreville VA, Herndon VA, Reston VA, Vienna VA, Falls Church VA, Fairfax City VA, Fairfax Station VA, Oakton VA,  McLean VA, Burke VA, Annandale VA, Springfield VA, Fauquier County VA & Warrenton VA, Loudoun County VA & Ashburn VA, Aldie VA, Countryside VA, Cascades VA, Lansdowne VA, Hamilton VA, Leesburg VA, Lovettsville VA, Middleburg VA, Sterling VA, Chantilly VA, Great Falls VA, Purcellville VA, Stone Ridge VA, Round Hill VA, Waterford VA, Prince William County VA & Gainesville VA, Haymarket VA, Manassas VA, Triangle VA, Woodbridge VA

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30-year Fixed-Rate loans are at historically low interest rates. However, some home buyers and home owners choose adjustable-rate mortgages, or ARMs.


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Lets look at the risks and rewards of using ARM mortgage: 

REWARDS:
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The Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012 has been signed into law. The Act includes a number of changes to the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Loan Guaranty program, including reverting back to the previous method of calculating maximum guaranty. This resulted in some loan limits increasing.

While VA does not have a maximum loan amount, the following county “limits” must be used to calculate VA’s maximum guaranty amount for a particular county. These limits apply to all VA loans closed August 6, 2012 through December 31, 2012. (more…)

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Virginia’s Fairfax County Public Schools system contains 31 high schools. The district contains 15 school that received a gold, silver, or bronze medals in U.S. News‘s Best High Schools rankings: Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Alexandria ranked #2 nationally and #1 in Virginia. (more…)

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Virginia’s Loudoun County Public Schools system contains 11 high schools. The district contains 1 school that received a gold medal in U.S. News‘s Best High Schools rankings: Stone Bridge High School, Ashburn, which ranked #178 nationally and #10 in Virginia. (more…)

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Virginia’s Prince William County Public Schools contains 10 high schools. The district contains 1 school that received a silver medal in U.S. News‘s Best High Schools rankings: Osbourn Park High School, Manassas, which ranked #545 nationally and #23 in Virginia. (more…)

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Virginia’s Arlington County Public Schools contains 3 high schools:

  • Wakefield High School, Arlington, VA
  • Washington-Lee High School, Arlington, VA
  • Yorktown High School, Arlington, VA
Visit here for College Readiness, Math Proficiency and Reading Proficiency:

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NOTE: All information presented here is believed to be accurate, but is subject to errors and omissions and should not be relied upon without verification.

NOTE: The view of the screen may be different on your computer depending on the BROWSER and FONT TYPE used.

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The 2012 Report is in and dozens of Virginia, Maryland and D.C. schools made U.S. News & World Report‘s list of the highest ranking high schools.

To produce the report,  21,776 public high schools were analyzed in 49 states and the District of Columbia. This is the total number of public high schools that had 12th-grade enrollment and sufficient data, primarily from the 2009-2010 school year, to analyze. (Nebraska was the only state that did not report enough data and therefore was not evaluated for any part of the rankings.)

The rankings are based on state proficiency standards, how well they prepare students for college, as well as other factors.

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In Virginia, top-ranked schools were clustered in Fairfax County, Falls Church and Loudoun County, with Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology rated second out of 100 nationally.

The following schools made the top 10 list for Virginia:

  1. Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology
  2. George Mason High School
  3. George C. Marshall High School
  4. McLean High School
  5. James W. Robinson Jr. Secondary School
  6. Langley High School
  7. W.T. Woodson High School
  8. James Madison High School
  9. Oakton High School
  10. Stone Bridge High School

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In the Maryland rankings, Montgomery County had seven out of the top 10 schools schools, with Winston Churchill, Walt Whitman and Thomas Wootton ranking in the top three spots. The other schools in the top 10 are in Anne Arundel, Howard and Baltimore counties.

The Following schools made the top 10 list for Maryland:

  1. Winston Churchill High School
  2. Walt Whitman High School
  3. Thomas S. Wootton High School
  4. Poolesville High School
  5. Walter Johnson High School
  6. Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School
  7. Richard Montgomery High School
  8. Severna Park High School
  9. Eastern Technical High School
  10. River Hill High School

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  • In Prince William County, Osbourn Park High made the top 600.
  • In Prince George’s County, Eleanor Roosevelt High School, made the list at No. 23.
  • The top-ranked D.C. Public Schools are Benjamin Banneker High School and Coolidge High School.

The full list of schools is available on U.S. News & World Report’s website.

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SOURCE: U.S. News & World Reports; WTOP

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Many home buyers complain that one of the biggest hurdles they face is qualifying for financing.

So what are some ways that home shoppers can ensure they qualify for a better mortgage deal — particularly one that takes advantage of the near record-breaking low mortgage rates?

A recent article at Money Magazine highlighted some of the following tips when shopping for a mortgage:

  • High credit scores count. The lowest mortgage rates go to home shoppers with credit scores of 760 or higher. Avoid opening new lines of credit or loans for at least three months prior to getting a loan. Also, on your open accounts, try to pay off those balances. “One large balance — even if it’s paid off at the end of the month — can ding your score by 20 points or more,” according to the article at Money Magazine.
  • Gather plenty of quotes. Most experts say shopping around can pay off. Gather at least six quotes from lenders on mortgage rates because they can vary quite a bit from lender to lender. Request quotes from local and regional lenders as well as national ones for comparison. Be sure to ask about estimated closing costs, too, which can be anywhere from 2 percent or more of the loan balance.
  •  Ask about lock-ins. To make sure the rate does not go up when you’re under contract, ask about a lock-in period on the loan, in which lenders agree to not raise the interest rate within a certain time period. Home shoppers should ask their lender how long it takes to close loans similar to theirs and see how long they can lock a rate in for. Some lenders will charge several hundred dollars to extend a lock-in agreement, so experts recommend learning the lock-in terms beforehand when shopping for the best mortgage deal.
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Mortgage Calculators and Average Mortgage Rates today in Fairfax County VA, Loudoun County VA, Prince William County VA
NOTE: For a mortgage advice or mortgage rates always contact your lender.

 “6 Ways to Get a Great Mortgage Deal,”

SOURCE: Money Magazine

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An annual check-up on your homeowners insurance can result in a healthier policy and a healthier pocketbook.

What type of coverage do I have?

The most effective type of coverage is known as “replacement cost,” which covers, up to your policy limits, what it would take today to rebuild your house and restore your belongings, says Jerry Oshinsky, a partner at Jenner & Block in Los Angeles who has represented homeowners in litigation against insurers.

Extended” replacement cost coverage provides protection to your policy limit, say $500,000, and then perhaps another 20% of the cost after that. Percentages vary, but in this example you could recoup up to $600,000 on a $500,000 policy, assuming your losses reach that high. Extended coverage can compensate for any unanticipated expenses like spikes in construction costs between policy renewals. Now harder to find due to the industry shift toward extended replacement coverage, “full” or “guaranteed” replacement coverage covers an entire claim regardless of policy limits.

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A less attractive alternative is “actual cash value” coverage that usually takes into account depreciation, the decrease in value due to age and wear. With this type of policy, the $2,000 flat-screen TV you bought two years ago will be worth hundreds of dollars less today in the eyes of your claims adjuster. Kevin Foley, an independent insurance broker in Milltown, N.J., favors replacement cost coverage unless you can save at least 25% on the premium for going with actual cash value coverage instead.

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Even if you have replacement cost protection for your dwelling and personal property, don’t assume everything is covered. Structures other than your home on your property—such as a detached garage or swimming pool—require separate coverage. So too do luxury items like jewelry, watches, and furs if you want full replacement cost because reimbursement for those items is typically capped.

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How much coverage do I really need?

OK, now that you’re clear on what type of policy you have, you need to figure out how much policy you truly require in dollar terms. Let’s say you purchased your home five years ago and insured it for $200,000. Today, it’s worth $225,000. Simply increasing your coverage to $225,000 may nonetheless leave you underinsured. Here’s why.

The key to determining how much dwelling coverage you need isn’t the value of your home but the money you’d have to pay to rebuild it from scratch, says Carlos Aguirre, an agent for Liberty Mutual Insurance in Arlington, Texas. Call your local contractors’ or homebuilders’ association and inquire about the average per-square-foot construction cost in your area. If it’s $150 and your home is 2,000 square feet, then you should be insured for $300,000.

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There’s no rule of thumb for how much your homeowners insurance should cost. Insurers use numerous factors—age, education level, creditworthiness—to determine pricing, so the same policy could run you more than your neighbor. In recent years the average annual premium was $804. Oshinsky advises against scrimping on insurance because big increases in coverage probably cost less than you’d think. He recently purchased a liability policy that cost $250 for the first $1 million in coverage. Adding another $1 million increased his premiums only $12.50 more.

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How can I lower my premiums?

The higher your deductible, the amount you pay out of pocket before coverage kicks in, the lower your premium. Landing on the appropriate deductible level requires remembering that insurance should cover major calamities, not minor incidents, says Foley, the independent insurance broker. Most homeowners should be able to absorb modest losses like a broken window pane or a hole in the drywall without filing claims. If you can, then you’re wasting money with a $250 deductible.

Foley’s rule: If you’re a first-time homeowner and don’t have a lot of savings, moving up to a $500 deductible will probably stretch your budget. However, if you live in a ritzy home and drive an expensive car, then you should be able to afford a $1,000 deductible. In Milltown, N.J., for example, the premium for a $200,000 home with a $500 deductible would be $736, according to Foley; moving up to a $1,000 deductible drops the annual premium to $672. That’s $64 in savings.

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Every major insurer offers discounts to various groups, such as university employees or firefighters. Figure about 5%. Ask which affiliations would entitle you to a discount and how much. If an AARP membership would result in a $50 savings, pay the $16 dues and pocket the $36 difference. Many insurers also offer discounts ranging from 1% to 10% or more for installing protective devices like alarms and deadbolt locks, for going claim-free for an extended period, or for insuring both your car and your home with the same carrier.

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More about Homeowners Hazard Insurance: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Home_insurance

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SOURCE: HouseLogic, REALTOR Magazine

Real Estate and Homes For Sale in Northern Virginia, Fairfax County VA, Loudoun County VA, Prince William County VA, Northern Virginia Realtors real estate agents, REALTOR Vivianne Rutkowski

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Homeowner hazard home insurance policies can vary greatly, and if home owners aren’t careful, they may find their claims denied when disaster strikes, according to a study to be published early in 2012 by the University of Chicago Law Review.

While home insurers once used standard policy forms by the Insurance Services Office, now some are coming up with their own policies and a few tweaks in the wording can mean trouble for some home owners, according to the study.

Home owners should read the fine-print and carefully review their policies to examine what’s covered and what’s not, the study notes. For example, some policies provide $1,000 per item damaged by a sudden electrical current, and others pay an aggregate of $1,000; some policies include mold and lead coverage; other policies do not.

According to United Policyholders, here are a few questions home owners can ask insurance agents when shopping around for a home owner’s insurance policy

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demand that the insurance agent highlights those coverage areas on the copy of the insurance policy provided to the homeowner – some insurance agents do NOT know their company policies in detail or may confuse the policies; therefore, merely oral statement by the insurance agent is NOT sufficient.

The questions to ask are:

  • What is the coverage for water damage from sewer or pipe problems?
  • What is the coverage for any damage to the foundation — is it completely covered, limited, or excluded completely?
  • Will items be paid at “replacement value” or “actual cash value”?

Study author Daniel Schwarcz, a University of Minnesota Law School associate professor, told The Wall Street Journal that he is urging state insurance departments to post their insurance policies online so they can be reviewed closer by consumer groups and home owners. In October, Nevada began posting policy forms for its largest home and auto insurers, according to The Wall Street Journal.

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Read more: A Home-Insurance Trap?

To read another blog on deceitful Insurance coverage: https://viviannerutkowski.wordpress.com/2009/06/01/state-farm-auto-insurance-eye-opener-welcome-to-the-insurance-world/

For other Insurance related posts visit Property Insurance: https://viviannerutkowski.wordpress.com/category/2-home-buyer-resources/property-insurance/

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SOURCE: The Wall Street Journal

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Arlington County VA homes for sale and homeowners hazard property insurance, Fairfax County VA homes for sale and homeowners hazard property insurance, Loudoun County VA homes for sale and homeowners hazard property insurance, Prince William County VA homes for sale and homeowners hazard property insurance.  

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Senate Passed Loan Limit Extension Amendment

U.S. lawmakers moved Thursday, November 17, 2011 to increase the maximum size of FHA loans that are guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration to $729,750.  The U.S. Senate has passed an amendment that raised the Federal Housing Administration loan limits back to 125% of the local area median home price (from the current 115%) and raised the high-cost cap to $729,750 (from the current $625,500) for one unit residential properties insured by FHA through December 31, 2013.

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However, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac conforming loan limits for conventional mortgages stay at $625,500 as of October 1, 2011. The maximum conforming loan limits for secondary mortgage market companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac also expired at the end of September 2011, but lawmakers did not include a restoration of those limits in the bill. As a result, conforming loan limits will remain at 115% of the area median home price, up to $625,500.  The Senate voted to approve the bill Thursday evening, November 17, after the House voted earlier in the day.

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The conforming loan limits for conventional mortgage loans for the Washington, D.C. area and Northern Virginia, Arlington County VA, Fairfax County VA, Loudoun County VA, Prince William County VA are as follows:
  • 1 – UNIT         $625,500
  • 2 – UNIT         $800,775
  • 3 – UNIT         $967,950
  • 4 – UNIT      $1,202,925

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FHA guarantees loans to buyers with down payments as low as 3.5%. Conforming conventional loans require 10%-20%+ downpayment to qualify for financing. Non-conforming, so called jumbo,  conventional mortgage loans are available at higher interest rates and require larger downpayment.

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The move by Congress gives borrowers seeking loans between $625,500 and $729,750 in pricey markets two options.

  • They can take out “jumbo” loans that carry higher interest rates than those backed by Fannie and Freddie and require down payments of at least 20%.
  • Or, they can take out an FHA loan, which allows for lower down payments but charges insurance premiums that add to borrowers’ costs.

In the past four years, as private lenders have pulled back from the mortgage market, the FHA’s market share has swollen. It backed one third of mortgages used to finance home purchases last year, up from around 5% in 2006. The FHA doesn’t make loans but insures lenders against defaults on mortgages that meet its standards.

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NOTE: Always contact your lender for details.

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Click here for Mortgage Calculators and Interest Rates TODAY

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SOURCE: National Association of REALTORS

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Overall, home buyers today tend to be fairly sophisticated and knowledgeable about the real estate market, but there are still a few points of confusion in the process, a new survey by Zillow of 1,000 potential home buyers found.

Here are the five main areas of confusion the survey revealed:

  • Appreciation: About 42% of home buyers believe home values will appreciate by 7% a year. Reality: Historically, home values in a normal market appreciate by 2% to 5% in a year.
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  • Mortgage insurance: 41% of buyers think they will have to purchase private mortgage insurance, regardless of the amount of their downpayment. Reality: Buyers only need to purchase PMI if their downpayment is less than 20% of the home’s purchase price.
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  • Appraisals: 56% of the buyers said the purpose of the appraisal was to determine if a home was in good condition. Reality: That’s the purpose of a home inspection; an appraisal estimates fair market value.
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  • Home owner’s insurance: 37% of home buyers said that buying home owner’s insurance is optional. Reality: Lenders require homebuyers to purchase homeowner’s insurance.
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  • Ownership: 47% of home buyers said a prospective buyer owns a home after the purchase contract is signed. Reality: The purchase and sales agreement is the beginning of the closing phase, but it can be a long process until they finally take ownership.

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NOTE from Vivianne: Clarification, I believe that Zillow was NOT clear in the survey regarding Home Owner’s Insurance.

There are THREE types of insurances involved in the real estate transaction: Property and Casualty Insurance (Hazard Insurance), Home Owner’s TITLE Insurance, and LENDER’s TITLE Insurance. Of these three insurances, Home Owner’s TITLE Insurance is OPTIONAL, not mandatory or required by law; however it is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED in today’s real estate environment of short sales and foreclosures.

If the purchase of the property is financed with lender financing, mortgage loan, the lender requires the borrower to purchase LENDER’s TITLE INSURANCE and the PROPERTY and CASUALTY (HAZARD) INSURANCE.  Therefore, LEGALLY only two of those insurances are required, however HOME OWNER’s TITLE INSURANCE should be purchased to protect the homeowner’s title to the property – especially if the property is conveyed with Special Warranty Deed, as is often the case with foreclosures.

Contact me directly if you have questions regarding Appraisal, Home Owner’s Insurance, Lender’s Insurance, Property Insurance, or Purchasing a Home in Northern Virginia, Fairfax County VA, Loudoun County VA, Prince Williams County VA

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http://zillow.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=159&item=240

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SOURCE: Zillow Inc.

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NOTE: Advertisement Ads which appear in most posts on this Blog are run by WordPress and do NOT necessarily represent the views of Vivianne Rutkowski or Keller Williams Realty. Visitors to this blog are NOT obligated to click the ads to visit this blog.

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High schools in the Prince William County Public School (PWCS) Division continue to fare well in “The Washington Post” national survey that measures the effort schools make in encouraging students to take college-level courses.

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All 10 Prince William County high schools rank in the top 7 percent of all high schools in the nation, according to The High School Challenge report published in The Washington Post. In addition, PWCS high schools set the all-time record for college-level test participation in 2010.

The High School Challenge, formerly called “The Challenge Index,” was developed by reporter Jay Mathews 13 years ago. The Washington area results were reported on May 22 in a special section of “The Washington Post,” and appeared in the “Local Living” section on May 26.

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School ranking is determined by adding up all the Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate, and Cambridge (AICE) tests taken in a given year and dividing by the number of graduating seniors. Schools with a rating of 1.000 or above are in the top 7 percent of all 27,000 U.S. public high schools, says Mathews.

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All 10 Prince William County high schools have a rating of 1.000 or above. Potomac High School ranks the highest of the Prince William schools with a challenge rating of 3.087 and numbers 41 out of the top 150 schools in the Washington area, followed by Osbourn Park (2.811), Hylton (2.540), Brentsville District (2.472), Battlefield (2.458), Woodbridge (2.445), Gar-Field (2.059), Forest Park (1.787), Stonewall Jackson (1.755), and Freedom (1.082).

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In addition to Advanced Placement courses, Potomac High School offers the Cambridge Program for Mathematics and Physical Sciences which has an international, pre-university curriculum and examination system. According to Specialty Program Coordinator Courtney Wilkerson, 713 students are enrolled in the Cambridge Program at Potomac this year, up from 660 last year. The school has a student enrollment of 1,629.

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“Our students truly are hard-working and love the challenge of Cambridge courses,” said Wilkerson.
“They see the value in taking rigorous courses and earning the Advanced International Certificate of Education.”

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All PWCS high schools have a specialty program or area of academic concentration that is open to other students outside a school’s attendance boundaries. For information on specialty programs, visit the School Division Specialty Programs Web page.

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In March 2011, Governor Robert F. McDonnell signed the “Cambridge” Bill (HB 1910) which requires institutions of higher learning to grant course credit for A and AS Level Cambridge Programme examinations. Prince William County Public Schools championed this measure, with top school officials testifying in Richmond during winter 2010-2011. This issue was among the Prince William County School Board’s 2011 Legislative Priorities.

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SOURCE:   http://pwcs.ezcommunicator.net/edu/pwcs/ViewNewsletter.asp?app=0&id=376

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Senate Passed Loan Limit Extension Amendment – FHA loan limits back at $729,750 – click the link for more information: https://viviannerutkowski.wordpress.com/2011/11/16/conforming-loan-limits-for-conventional-mortgages-and-fha-loan-limits-at-729750-for-high-cost-of-living-areas-in-northern-virginia-and-arlington-county-va-fairfax-county-va-fauquier-county-va-lou/

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On October 1, 2011, mortgage loan limits for the government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (GSEs) and the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) dropped from temporary levels to reduced limits based on permanent criteria established by Congress in 2008.

The base limit for most of US remains at $417,000, but the formula for establishing limits for high cost areas, like Northern Virginia, changed from 125% to 115% of the area MEDIAN HOME PRICE which means a drop in loan limit from $729,750 to $625,500.

It means that $625,500 is the maximum loan amount for one unit residential properties in high cost areas that can be purchased and securitized by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (GSEs).

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As with the conventional loans insured by GSEs (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac), on October 1, 2011, the loan limits for the FHA loans also declined due to changes set in law. FHA loan limits are set slightly differently than those for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. By law, the lowest limit for any county in US for one-unit homes is $271,050. The ceiling for FHA loans in high cost areas declined on October 1, 2011 from $729,750 to $625,500 for one unit residential properties.

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The new 2011-2012 GSE Conforming Loan Limits in Washington, D.C. area, Northern Virginia and Arlington County VA, Fairfax County VA, Fauquier County VA, Loudoun County VA, and Prince William County VA are as follows:

  • 1 – UNIT         $625,500
  • 2 – UNIT         $800,775
  • 3 – UNIT         $967,950
  • 4 – UNIT      $1,202,925 

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The loan limits for VA Loans, mortgages guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, will change on January 1, 2012.  The current VA loan limit in Northern Virginia area is $818,750 thru December 31, 2011http://www.googlerealestate.com/va-loan-limits-2011/

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The new GSE Conforming Loan Limits for all counties in USA and Northern Virginia, Arlington County VA, Fairfax County VA, Fauquier County VA, Loudoun County VA, and Prince William County VA: http://www.nahb.org/fileUpload_details.aspx?contentTypeID=3&contentID=159279&subContentID=353571&channelID=311

The new FHA Loan Limits for all counties in USA and Northern Virginia, Arlington County VA, Fairfax County VA, Fauquier County VA, Loudoun County VA, and Prince William County VA:
http://www.nahb.org/fileUpload_details.aspx?contentTypeID=3&contentID=159279&subContentID=353572&channelID=311

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Click here for Mortgage Calculators and Interest Rates TODAY

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NOTE: Advertisement Ads which appear in most posts on this Blog are run by WordPress and do NOT necessarily represent the views of Vivianne Rutkowski or Keller Williams Realty. Visitors to this blog are NOT obligated to click the ads to visit this blog.

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Loudoun County Public Schools SAT scores have been improving tremendously for the last couple of years. The average Loudoun County VA Public Schools SAT scores in 2010 were 76 points higher than average Virginia SAT scores and 88 points higher than National SAT scores.

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Here are the Loudoun County Public Schools, Virginia, SAT test scores for the school year 2009-2010:

LOUDOUN COUNTY VA SAT SCORES 2010 MATH SCORE CRITICAL READING WRITING SCORE TOTAL SAT SCORE in 2010
Virginia 512 512 497 1,521
Loudoun County 536 535 526 1,597
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BRIAR WOODS 534 531 533 1,598
BROAD RUN 542 541 528 1,611
DOMINION 538 539 530 1,607
FREEDOM 524 512 507 1,543
HERITAGE 520 521 518 1,559
LOUDOUN COUNTY 536 542 529 1,607
LOUDOUN VALLEY 545 548 529 1,622
PARK VIEW 493 499 482 1,474
POTOMAC FALLS 550 542 534 1,626
STONE BRIDGE 550 547 542 1,639

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Loudoun County Public Schools Fact Sheet for 2010: http://www.lcps.org/cms/lib4/VA01000195/Centricity/Domain/4/LCPS%20Fact%20Sheet%20Summary%20-%202010-2011.pdf

also http://www.lcps.org/site/default.aspx?PageID=1

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NOTE: The information above is believed to be accurate, but is subject to errors and omissions and should not be relied upon without verification. Contact Loudoun County Public Schools personally for information.

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Best Regards,

VIVIANNE RUTKOWSKI

REALTOR®, ABR, GRI, SFR, CHRE, CDPE
Licensed in Virginia

KELLER WILLIAMS REALTY
50 Catoctin Circle NE, Suite 101
Leesburg,  VA  20176
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Loudoun County Public Schools Virginia, Loudoun County Public Schools Virginia SAT test scores in 2010, Briar Woods High School Ashburn VA 2010 SAT test scores, Broad Run High School Ashburn VA 2010 SAT test scores, Dominion High School Sterling VA 2010 SAT test scores, Freedom High School South Riding VA 2010 SAT test scores, Heritage High School Leesburg VA 2010 SAT test scores, Loudoun County High School Leesburg VA 2010 SAT test scores, Loudoun Valley High School Purcellville VA 2010 SAT test scores, Park View High School Sterling VA 2010 SAT test scores, Potomac Falls High School Sterling VA 2010 SAT test scores, Stone Bridge High School Ashburn VA 2010 SAT test scores

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All Prince William County Public Schools in Virginia (PWCS) are accredited under Commonwealth accreditation guidelines as per Virginia Department of Education. The new accreditation ratings for 2011–12 are based on performance during the 2010–2011 school year or a three-year average.

“At all levels, our students are exceeding the content-area benchmarks required for accreditation,” said Superintendent of Prince William County Schools Steven L. Walts. “This is evidence of the quality of teaching that goes on in the classroom, and of the quality of leadership in our schools. Prince William County residents can be proud of their schools and the high achievement of our students.

“All elementary schools exceeded the state math benchmark of 70% passing by at least 10 percentage points, and 15 out of 17 middle schools and all high schools scored 80% passing or higher, which is 10 percentage points higher than the benchmark,” Walts said.

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All PWCS schools achieved higher passing rates in English – English includes reading and writing – than the benchmark required for accreditation:

  • All elementary schools scored at least 8 points higher than the 75% benchmark with over 70% of elementary schools scoring at or above 90% passing
  • All middle schools scored 15 or more percentage points higher than the required benchmark of 70%
  • All 10 high schools also exceeded the 70% benchmark by at least 20 points.

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All schools also exceeded their respective benchmarks in science:

  • 55 of 57 elementary schools exceeding the benchmark by 10 percentage points
  • all middle schools exceeding the benchmark by at least 15  percentage points
  • all high schools exceeding the benchmark by 10 percentage points

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All schools exceeded either the current year or three-year average benchmarks in history, with all elementary schools exceeding the benchmark by more than 25 percentage points.

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The Accreditation rules require that at the middle and high school levels, at least 70 percent of students must pass the English, math, social studies, and science tests. At the elementary school level, at least 75 percent of students taking the tests must receive passing grades in English. Elementary students must also achieve pass rates of at least 70 percent in mathematics, fifth-grade science and fourth-grade history, and 50 percent pass rates in third-grade science and third-grade history. Beginning with tests administered in the 2012–13 school year, the benchmark will be 75 percent for English at all grade levels and the benchmark for all other content areas at all grade levels will be 70 percent.

For the first time, the accreditation ratings for 2011–12 for high schools include a graduation score, using the Graduation and Completion Index (GCI), explained in the state’s Accountability Guide. To be fully accredited, a school must meet the 2015 target score of 85 points. Provisional accreditation is awarded to schools with GCI scores of 80-84 (the provisional target increases from 80 points in 2011–12 to 84 points in 2014–15). All high schools in PWCS met the 2011–12 targets, with 8 schools earning full accreditation by meeting the 2015–16 target of 85 points.

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http://princewilliamcounty.wusa9.com/news/news/73570-all-prince-william-county-public-schools-accredited-schools-exceed-benchmarks

Virginia Schools Accountability Guide for Accreditation

Prince William County VA SAT scores for 2011 school year

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SOURCE: WUSA9.com

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Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (also called TJHSST, TJ, Jefferson) is a Virginia state-chartered magnet school located in Northern Virginia. It is a regional high school operated by Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS).  Attendance at TJ is open to students in six local jurisdictions based on an admissions test and prior academic achievement.

Langley High School is located in McLean, Virginia, within the Fairfax County Public Schools system. The LHS academic program follows standard Virginia guidelines, requiring 24 credits for graduation.  Additionally provided at Langley is the Advanced Placement (AP) program. Langley offers one of the most comprehensive AP programs available, featuring more than 20 AP level classes in every discipline. Significant courses include the school’s Multivariable Calculus and Linear Algebra classes, as well as the only Russian courses offered in a Fairfax County Public High School outside of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology.

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To research and grade Elementary Schools, Middle Schools, and High Schools in Arlington County VA, Fairfax County VA, Fauquier County VA, Loudoun County VA, and Prince William County VA, visit http://www.realtorviviannerutkowski.com/schoolinfo.shtml

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