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.


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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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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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)
Mortgage Calculators & Interest Rates in VIRGINIA and much more:



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/




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


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.


Best Regards,


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/


[NOTE: name pronounced: ViviAnne Rootkovski ]

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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.

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


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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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