Craig County, “Virginia’s” Best Kept Secret

July 12, 2010 · Filed Under Properties · Comment 

3.65 acres adjoining Jefferson National Forest, over looking Barbours Creek, near stocked trout streams, hiking and horse trails, fenced yard, lots of updates.

Roanoke City Tax Sale

June 25, 2010 · Filed Under Foreclosures, Roanoke City Real Estate · Comment 

Just received an email from the City of Roanoke Collections Office that there will be a judicial sale of delinquent homes on June 29, 2010 at 12:00pm.


Fitzpatrick Hall, Jefferson Center
541 Luck Avenue
Roanoke, VA 24016

I’ve been to a few of these and while the homes are usually distressed to some degree, if you’re a flip-it or fix-it-up type investor, you should be there. The sale is handled in an auction format with bidding, etc. Make sure to check out the terms, etc. for purchasing before you arrive.

Here’s the full email:

ROANOKE, VA – The City of Roanoke will hold an auction at noon on
Tuesday, June 29, at the Jefferson Center’s Fitzpatrick Hall for
approximately 22 properties that have delinquent real estate taxes,
assessments for weed and trash abatement, and demolition or board-up
costs. A listing of the properties is online at

According to state law, properties qualify for the Judicial Sale
process when taxes are delinquent on Dec. 31 following the first
anniversary of the date on which the taxes have become due. State law
also provides that any property sold during these proceedings is
purchased free and clear of all liens incurred by the owner or any
other party involved in the suit. However, all successful bidders
must meet the terms of the Bidder Qualification Program to ensure
that there are no unpaid taxes or code violations on other properties
that they may own. All sales are subject to Circuit Court approval.

“Despite vigorous collection efforts by the City Treasurer and the
Department of Billings and Collections, these property owners have
failed to pay their debts,” said Dana Long, Manager of Billings and
Collections. “Aside from the collection of delinquent taxes, fees,
and assessments, neighborhoods benefit from the tax sales by having
new, responsible owners who will properly maintain the property and
pay future taxes.”

To redeem any tax sale property, the owner must pay, in full, all
accumulated taxes, assessments, penalties, interest, and costs,
including all legal fees, by 5 p.m. on the day before the sale. The
listing of the tax sale properties is subject to change up until the
time of sale.

Additional information is located on the city’s website at For more information call Dana Long at

Financing Your Home for First Time Homebuyers

June 15, 2010 · Filed Under Mortgage Financing · 2 Comments 

bailout - it's the homeowners in that are in distress
Photo by woodleywonderworks

Homeownership is a great financial choice in most situations, and because the current real estate market is strongly favoring buyers, now is a great time to consider purchasing your first home. While many banks have imposed increasingly stringent standards on their home loan programs, there are government programs which can help first time homebuyers make their dreams of homeownership come true. Both the USDA and the Colorado FHA home loan programs can be wonderful choices, whether you have a good credit history or a shaky one, and whether you’ve managed to save up a large down payment or if you’ve only accumulated a few thousand dollars.

The USDA loan program is administered through the US Department of Agriculture and is aimed at low income buyers. Buyers must earn 80% of the median income for their particular area, and closing costs for the loan are allowed to come from other sources, such as gifts to the buyer. One distinct advantage of the USDA loan program is that there is no monthly mortgage insurance for any loan on the program which can save buyers several hundred dollars a month alone. USDA mortgages permit 100% financing, and property improvements can be financed at 102% and completion is permitted after closing.

Virginia FHA loans, meanwhile, are often the first thought of many first time homebuyers looking for a government backed loan program. Backed by the Federal Housing Administration, FHA loans offer competitive rates with less stringent credit terms than traditional programs. Even buyers with less than stellar credit ratings can qualify for the program, and even those with prior bankruptcies can receive an FHA loan, providing that their credit has been excellent since the discharge. FHA loans allow closing costs to be rolled into the loan which can save buyers at least $6,000 in upfront costs, and also permit a down payment of 3% instead of the traditional 20% required by most home loan programs.

As an added incentive, keep in mind that if you are a deployed service member and a potential first time home buyer, you can still qualify for the tax credit for first time homebuyers. For more information on the tax credit or government backed home loans, speak with your lender or visit and for basic information.

It’s been a while…

April 4, 2010 · Filed Under Random Thoughts · Comment 

Greeting everyone!

Is It Safe?
Photo by Pear Biter
It’s been well nigh a year and a half since I last updated this real estate blog. A lot has happened in home buying and selling and right now we’re on the end (hopefully) of this recession, the job market is slowly starting to stabilize (and the last report from March showed positive indications), and lots of you are considering this year as the time to buy a new home and/or sell your existing home or investment property.

Springtime is always the best time to be getting your house ready for sale. The flowers are blooming, the feel of warm breezes on your face and the sweet fragrance of blooming things abounds heralds warmer weather to come. Folks are thinking about their gardens (and already planting, yikes, I better get a move on!) and making outdoor plans for the coming months.

And while I haven’t gone anywhere in Roanoke, I’ve still been selling with the best/rest of them, I haven’t given much attention to this site (sorry!).

My wife and I have a new baby (4 months old), our oldest is heading off to college this year and there are promising things on the horizon for everyone.

I’m looking forward to talking with you through this medium again!

Best wishes for a warm, happy spring!

Get better gas mileage

August 5, 2008 · Filed Under Other Stuff · Comment 

The Sierra Club blog has a few tips on maxing out your miles per gallon with their post: The Green Life: Max Your MPG

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Upcoming foreclosures for sale

I have two foreclosures that will be on the market soon. They are vacant and being evaluated now for pricing but I wanted to give everyone a heads up if you or someone you know may be interested.

The first foreclosure is in Blue Ridge (Botetourt County) in the Rainbow Forest area. It is a 3 bedroom, 3 bath ranch with a full basement (50% finished). The basement has a fire place and the kitchen in this home is enormous. It also has a two car garage and is at the end of a cul-de-sac just off of Mountain Pass Road. Price to be determined but it’s sure to be a bargain in this popular neighborhood. A few minor repairs and it’ll be a show place. (This property is now for sale. See it here.)

The second foreclosure is in NE Roanoke City in Read Mountain Estates off of Old Mountain Road. It is a 4 bedroom, 2 and a half bath Colonial with nice level yard and great landscaping. It features skylights, walk-in closets, a large island in the kitchen and a quiet dead end street in another popular neighborhood. The price on this home is also to be determined but no doubt it’ll be a bargain too. The last foreclosure I sold in this neighborhood sold for way below the market value.

Would you like to make $1500 per second?

July 31, 2008 · Filed Under Rants · Comment 

The Washington Post is reporting on Exxon Mobil’s second quarter earnings for 2008.

Exxon, that great behemoth of carbon fuel producers earned $11.68 billion (yes, BILLION) which factors out to about $1,500 per second over the last three months.

I have no problem with a business making profits. I own stocks so I like to see business make money. But when these oil-cartel-flunkies are decrying they have no control over the price of oil, then how can they produce such record profits? If their own costs have truly gone up, and they have raised their prices to protect their profits, then you would expect them to continue along a profit line, but this is blatant abuse of the American consumer.

high gas pricesThis second quarter profit is “the biggest quarterly profit ever by any U.S. corporation” [emphasis added] according to the reporter. At a time when our country is suffering, people are losing their jobs due to company cuts, homeowners are losing their homes to foreclosure and hard-working citizens can’t afford to put gas in their cars, I call it criminal that a company like Exxon could produce a record profit like this one.

Where are our politicians/protectors now? (On vacation starting tomorrow…) We need to call them to task to regulate these abuses. There are some initiatives out there, but as usual, partisan lines are getting in the way. It’ll be a great day when our representatives actually look out for us, and not their party platforms. I don’t care what side of the aisle you’re on, when Americans and our economy are suffering, we need to come together.

You can read more here, here and here.

No parking

July 26, 2008 · Filed Under Ramble On · Comment 

Grandin Road parkingRoanokers love the Grandin Village. It’s a great place to have dinner (all local restaurants), catch a movie at the Grandin Theatre, shop at the Natural Foods Coop and stroll down the sidewalk.

And it’s the sidewalk that is the subject of this email. I was picking up a pizza from Grace’s Pizzeria (one of the two best pizza joints in Roanoke) and as I was walking out, I couldn’t help but notice this large SUV parked directly on the sidewalk. The hilarious part is the sign right beside the offending vehicle.

Grandin Road signSo all you bicyclists and skateboarders keep off the sidewalk. The SUVs need the space. :o)

What do you mean all the copper plumbing was cut out?

July 25, 2008 · Filed Under Real Estate Education · 1 Comment 

I recently was showing a foreclosed home to a client in the Hollins area when we walked into the master bathroom and noticed the toilet was in the bathtub. Okay, a little strange but not too crazy for some of the foreclosures out there. We peered down the round hole in the floor where the toilet used to be and what did we see? The basement. (Normally you’d expect to see the all black interior of a pipe.)

Wow we said, what happened to the pipe? Of course I went downstairs and started poking around and every bit of copper pipe that used to be in the house WAS GONE! Someone had used a hacksaw (and a very poor hack job it was) and cut out all the copper lines. The only thing left were the ties that had held the pipe to the floor joists and some scorch marks where someone had done some soldering in the past.

What a disaster for the selling agent who hadn’t noticed it!

What’s the point? Caveat emptor.

When buying a foreclosed home, it’s extremely important to have an experienced foreclosure agent on your side to not only represent you but also to look for problems (like this one) that rear their heads with these homes. AND bring on board an experienced home inspector who spends more than 30 minutes in the house.

2008 Roanoke Arts Festival

July 11, 2008 · Filed Under Roanoke Happenings · Comment 

Public service announcement:

The second annual Roanoke Arts Festival, re-timed this year to help celebrate the opening of the new Taubman Museum of Art, will be held Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 8-9 with free and ticketed events and activities to appeal to a wide range of audiences.

The 2008 Roanoke Arts Festival will complement the museum’s grand opening weekend and once again pay tribute to arts of the region and beyond with a host of rich offerings capped by a performance by Country-music legend Crystal Gayle. The Festival will include a free downtown rock ‘n’ roll concert, great Bluegrass music, a musical puppet show, an exposition of the culinary arts, theatrical performances, classical music and more.

The Festival will also serve as the grand finale to “40 Days and 40 Nights,” a celebration of arts and culture with daily activities and exhibits coordinated by the Arts Council of the Blue Ridge.

“This year’s Festival – timed for the museum’s opening and this historic moment for the arts and culture for our region – is a great way to celebrate all facets of the arts,” says Susan Jennings, Roanoke’s public art coordinator. “The 2008 Roanoke Arts Festival will extend this excitement onto the streets of downtown Roanoke and into venues in Roanoke Valley.”

“With the Taubman Museum opening its doors as one of the most impressive museums of its kind, we felt the Arts Festival should tie into that spirit and welcome visitors to explore not just the visual arts, but music, drama, film – even the culinary arts,” adds Festival manager Rick Salzberg.

As the final touches are being made to this year’s schedule, planning already is under way for the third annual Roanoke Arts Festival, scheduled to be held next fall.

“With strong interest and broad audience appeal from our inaugural Festival last year, we’ve heard from fans of the arts from throughout Virginia urging us to offer even more choices in years ahead,” Salzberg says. “That’s why we’re already looking ahead to next year, when we will resume a four-day Festival.”
The 2007 Arts Festival was recognized as one of the year’s best festivals by the readers of City Magazine, and even nationally renowned performers lauded the Festival.

Visit the website for more information:

What can Jack do for you?

A new design and I’m back from a break!

July 11, 2008 · Filed Under Ramble On, Real Estate News · 5 Comments 

Well, it’s July, life is good and summer is in full swing. The waves are calling, folks are traveling (maybe not as far as normal with the price of gas!) and I’m back from a “blogging break” with a new site look and some new features coming down the pike for the site.

Every time I turn on the television, there’s bad news about the economy, real estate and the foreclosure crisis. There is truth amongst all the scare mongering, but it’s not all doom and gloom. Houses are still selling. If you’re looking to sell your home and buy a new home, it’s a good time. If you’re a first-time buyer with decent credit and income, it’s a great time to buy! So what are you waiting for?

How to buy your first home…and why.

April 10, 2008 · Filed Under Real Estate Education · 1 Comment 

Buying your first home is a great financial decision for most people. It can, however, be a very intimidating move without the right knowledge and guidance. There are many financial advantages including tax deductions, and building valuable equity in your home but other aspects as well including pride of ownership. So without any further ado, let’s go to it.

  1. Develop a relationship with a reliable real estate agent.
    While this very first item may seem self-serving (since I’m a real estate agent), it is however a very essential first step. By working with a real estate agent from the beginning, you can develop a professional relationship with them and have a person you can rely on to guide you through the entire purchase process from qualifying for a loan, searching for to coordinating the closing of your new home. AND, as a home buyer, your real estate agent will be paid in most circumstances by the seller. It doesn’t cost you anything.
  2. Get yourself pre-qualified for a mortgage.
    This may seem like putting the cart before the horse, but by pre-qualifying you empower yourself to back up your offer with the ability to close quicker than someone who has not taken this first step. The option to close quick can often help your contract win out over another contract, especially if the seller is motivated. Also, by pre-qualifying in advance, you know exactly how much you’ll be approved to purchase which can be helpful during the search process.
  3. Do your research.
    Work with your real estate agent to help them know what you’re most interested in. What neighborhoods do you prefer? If you have children, do you have a school district preference? Is your commute time to work important? Do you absolutely hate split foyers? You’re trying to figure out the “deal killers”. What does your new home have to have and what, if it were missing, would immediately change your mind about that house? The answers to all of these questions will enable your real estate agent to better refine their search process for you and send you the most relevant listings that meet your needs.

The next post in this series will be what to look for when you’re touring homes with your real estate agent.

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