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The new landmark transportation law was passed by the Virginia General Assembly to raise new revenue to fund transportation initiatives across the Commonwealth (HB 2313). This law is effective July 1, 2013.

Among the increase in sales, use and fuel taxes is an increase in the grantor’s tax, or that tax imposed on transferors of real estate located in the Commonwealth of Virginia
However, the increased tax is only applicable to certain geographic areas.
Specifically, the tax will be imposed on properties located in:

  • Arlington County VA
  • Fairfax County VA
  • Loudoun County VA
  • Prince William County VA
  • City of Alexandria VA
  • City of Fairfax VA
  • City of Falls Church VA
  • Cities of Manassas VA and Manassas Park VA
  • Town of Dumfries VA
  • Town of Herndon VA
  • Town of Leesburg VA
  • Town of Purcellville VA
  • Town of Vienna VA
  • Additionally, certain counties and cities in the Hampton Roads area will also be subject to the increased tax.

The current tax imposed is .10/$100 of the sales price or fair market value, whichever is higher.

As of July 1, 2013, the tax is increased to .25/$100 (or $2.50/$1,000). This represents a 150% increase in the grantor’s tax.
For example, on a $400,000 sale, the tax is increased from $400 to $1,000.

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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 Home Affordable Refinance Program — a government refinancing program for underwater home owners — will be expanded for another two years, the Federal Housing Finance Agency announces. HARP was originally set to expire Dec. 31, 2013, but will now be extended to the end of 2015 – December 31, 2015.

“More than 2 million home owners have refinanced through HARP, proving it a useful tool for reducing risk,” says FHFA acting director Edward DeMarco.

Home owners eligible to apply for refinancing under HARP must have a Fannie Mae- or Freddie Mac-backed mortgage that was guaranteed on or before May 31, 2009, must be current on their loan, and must have a current loan-to-value ratio more than 80 percent.

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http://my.chicagotribune.com/#section/-1/article/p2p-75347532/

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SOURCE: REALTOR Magazine, Chicago Tribune

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Certain dated design features in a home can really make some home buyers cringe.

Among the items making their list:

1. Popcorn ceilings: The speckled ceilings can attract dirt and be impossible to paint. Plus, if the home was built prior to 1980, the ceiling may contain asbestos and need to be tested by an inspector.

Fix it: Unfortunately, there’s no quick fix for removing popcorn ceilings; it can get messy. It’ll have to be scraped off and the ceiling then will need to be repaired. Plus, you’ll want to have it tested for asbestos before scraping. Home owners will likely want to consider hiring a professional to do this.

(more…)

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Real Trends 500 ranked NRT LLC #1 Residential Real Estate Company in the U.S. for 15 consecutive years – ranked by Closed Sales Volume for 2011. NRT and Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage is #1 real estate company with the Highest $$$ volume of sales and #1 real estate company with the lowest average days on the market.

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Contact Vivianne Rutkowski for a professional real estate representation:

Vivianne.Rutkowski@cbmove.com; VivianneRutkowski@gmail.com;

540-229-5429

http://www.cbmove.com/Vivianne.Rutkowski

http://www.RealtorVivianneRutkowski.com

Watch the video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&NR=1&v=ihWmTChfPa4

Real Trends 500 ranks NRT LLC #1 Residential Real Estate Company in the U.S. for 15 consecutive years.

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Repair wood floors and scratches can make rooms look worn out. It is easy to put the luster back into the floors.

Camouflage scratches (more…)

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Starting June 15, 2012 as per the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which regulates Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, both agencies must give short-sale buyers a final decision within 60 days. (In a short sale, a lender agrees to accept less than the balance on a mortgage.)

The new guidelines also will require the mortgage giants to respond to initial short-sale requests within 30 days of receiving an offer from a potential buyer. (more…)

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