Hello and Welcome to our blog. Here you will find up to date information on Northern Virginia whether it be real estate or local news. Whether you are looking to sell your current home, move up to a new home, or purchase New Construction, The Swede Team can help with all your Northern VA Real Estate needs.  Search for your dream home, save your specific search criteria, and then receive up to date emails on properties that come available that meet your specific criteria. Sign up for an account today.  Then you will have your personal log in, and can search the MLS just like Realtors® do.

If you are looking to Sell your home in Northern VA, visit our Selling page and fill out the form to receive a Free no obligation report on what your home is worth in today's market.  If you are interested in New Construction, visit our New Construction page to find out why you should contact The Swede Team before going to visit the new homes sales center. The Swede Team is an intimate group of Real Estate agents helping home buyers and sellers in the Northern Virginia area. We provide an exceptional level of service, that you won't find anywhere else when buying or selling your home in Northern Virginia.  We hope you enjoy our website, and will check back often for our latest Real Estate blog posts.

Thank you for visiting our site.

~The Swede Team at Keller Williams Realty

June 26, 2019

How to Retire Well

Conventional wisdom suggests we should save about 10 to 12 times our current income; however, many people approach retirement having saved much less.

So, how much is enough? The amount of money you should have saved before you retire depends on many personal factors and considerations, including:

YOUR LIFESTYLE

If you live well within your means and have prudently saved for retirement, you may not need to adjust your lifestyle much. It is better to have the choice to downsize your lifestyle and spending habits than it is to be forced to due to lack of adequate planning.

YOUR RETIREMENT PLANS

Although it’s wise for both you and your spouse/partner to save for retirement, there are other considerations that may impact your total savings target:

  • At what age do you plan to retire?
  • If you have a spouse/partner, will you retire at the same time?
  • Will you receive a pension from your employer?
  • Do you plan to continue working part time?

YOUR HEALTH

If you are healthy, and have longevity on your side (e.g., your parents lived past the average life expectancy of 81 years for women and 76 years for men), consider saving more money.

OTHER INCOME SOURCES

If you will receive a pension from your employer, Social Security Insurance or dividends from investments, include them in your overall retirement plan.

FINANCIAL OBLIGATIONS & EXPENSES

These may include a mortgage, car payments, credit card debt, health care expenses and financial support for children or grandchildren. 

Keep in mind that nothing is set in stone and your circumstances may change at anytime. Changes in your health or that of a family member, or changes in your family status, may affect your financial situation. For any circumstance changes that may impact your retirement plans, be sure to connect with a financial advisor who can help you update your plan and stay on track to reach your retirement goals. Think you may be too low? Here are some ways you can have more income in retirement!

1. Consider delaying your Social Security benefit. Claiming at your full retirement age (70 years old) will ensure you receive your full monthly benefit. Claiming it sooner may reduce the monthly amount.*

2. Become a landlord. Consider purchasing a rental property or leasing extra space in your home through publicly hosted sites such as Airbnb.com or VRBO.com. These sites provide the necessary infrastructure for you to market your location, collect payment and have renters only when it is convenient for you.

3. Why retire? More Americans are continuing to work part time or in a consultant capacity after retiring from their full-time careers or businesses. Many people feel their jobs will keep them active and their minds sharp. Continuing to work, either full- or part-time jobs, may allow you to save more of what you earn until you reach a point where you either can’t or don’t wish to work anymore.

If you do not have a financial advisor, I would be happy to refer you. Thinking of downsizing? Contact The Swede Team today to get more information on how we work with the 55+ community!

June 19, 2019

5 Ways to Freshen Up Your Bathroom

If you want to make over your bathroom, but don't want to undertake a full renovation, here are five things to do to make it look almost like new.

PAINT

Go classic with white, create a spa retreat with soothing blues, or energize your space with orange or yellow tones. Look online or through décor magazines for a surge of inspiration

LIGHTING

See yourself in the most flattering light with new light fixtures. New lighting is an easy way to update and modernize a space without gutting it. Just be sure to hire a professional if your plans involve any rewiring.

FIXTURES

As with lighting, new faucets add style to your space with minimal effort. Although silver-toned faucets are the finish of choice among homeowners, brushed nickel and polished chrome are also popular choices.

WINDOW TREATMENTS

Tie the look of the room together with blinds, shades, or curtains -- or a combination of these options. Choose bold colors to add a pop of color to the room or keep it neutral. Whatever you choose, make sure that it complements the overall theme or style of the room.

ACCESSORIES

Add style and function with new accessories. If you'd like more storage, add a wall cabinet or storage tower, or re-purpose an unused storage unit from around the home. Install a new mirror or towel rack to enhance the look of the room. Buy new rugs to complement the new color scheme, and add color or texture with vases, wall décor or similar items.

Keep these tips in mind in the chance you're planning on selling your home. The Swede Team is here and ready to help you buy or sell. Just contact Howard at 571-377-8696

June 12, 2019

How to Clean Your Home This Summer -- Naturally!

Consider swapping out harsh chemical cleaners for these natural alternatives as your summer cleaning gets into full swing. 

ALL-PURPOSE CLEANER

  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 10 drops of tea tree, lavender
  • or lemon essential oils
  • 2 tablespoons baking soda
  • Water

Instructions: Combine vinegar, essential oils and a small amount of water in a clean, 12-ounce spray bottle. Add baking soda, then fill bottle to the top with water. Shake gently to mix ingredients. 

TOILET CLEANER

  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon tea tree
  • essential oil
  • 1/2 cup baking soda

Instructions: Mix vinegar and essential oil in a spray bottle. Spray on toilet bowl, base, seat and lid. Add baking soda around bowl, scrub with a toilet brush. When it’s all clean, use paper towels to wipe down all areas sprayed with the solution.

MIRROR/GLASS CLEANER

  • 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 cups warm water

Instructions: Combine all ingredients in a spray bottle, shake to mix thoroughly. Spray on glass surface, and wipe down with a microfiber cloth. Shake mixture well before each use. 

WOOD POLISH

  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 30 drops of lemon or orange essential oils

Instructions: Combine all ingredients in a spray bottle and shake to mix. Spray directly on wooden surfaces and wipe down with a dry, clean cloth. Shake before each use. 

CARPET CLEANER

  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 15 drops of lavender essential oil

Instructions: Combine vinegar and water in spray bottle, then add salt and essential oils. Shake to mix ingredients. Spray liberally on carpets, and shake in between sprays. Once carpet is dry, vacuum all areas sprayed. 

We hope you find these natural cleaning solutions helpful! If you use any of these, take a picture and send it to The Swede Team! We'd love to see what you think. Cleaning up in order to sell your home? Contact us TODAY or click here for our free property valuation!

June 10, 2019

New Construction Mondays: Prosperity Plains

Welcome to Prosperity Plains, the newest community in the Chantilly area of Loudoun County. 

Here, you can find Virginia farmhome-inspired single family homes and townhomes. Described as 19th and 20th century on the outside, thoroughly 21st century on the inside, you can come home to an unexpected blend of past, present and future. This great Washington, DC suburban location gives you your pick of all the conveniences that your family needs. It’s timeless, and timely. Located off Gum Spring Rd. and Braddock Rd, this neighborhood is a great commuting location for those who work in the Technology Corridor of Route 28. View the site map below to see how many townhomes and single family homes will be available.

The townhomes include The Holt and The Carver. Priced in the mid-500s, these townhomes include 3-4 bedrooms, 2-car garages, and have over 2,500 sqft. of space. The single family homes include the Parr and the Grandin. Priced in the mid to upper 600's, these homes can have 4-7 bedrooms, 2.5-5.5 bathrooms, and almost 3,000 sqft. of space. Van Metre homes have signature kitchens that feature 42-inch Fairfield® cabinetry, granite countertops, and stainless steel GE appliances. They also have luxurious bathrooms with Timberlake cabinetry, a luxury owner’s bath with walk-in shower & seat, granite countertops with oval undermount sink, “Backsaver” height vanities in all full baths and hand-laid ceramic tile on floors and walls. The attention to detail in these homes include 9' ceilings on main and upper levels, two-panel interior doors with lever satin nickel hardware, engineered hardwood flooring throughout main levels, and oak stairs with oak stained handrail and white painted pickets on main stairs. 

Thinking of buying new construction? We specialize in helping buyers find their forever home in new construction. Contact The Swede Team today to choose and customize your next home!

June 5, 2019

Get Your Home Ready for Summer

Spring into action and complete maintenance work now so you can sit back, relax, and enjoy a hot dog on the grill at your perfect barbecue. Use this check list to give your home a smooth transition with the change in seasons.

1. Wash Your Home's Exterior

Depending on the siding you have, power-washing can potentially do harm. In most cases, a garden hose and a cleaning wand attachment is all you need. Remember to tarp your plants and shrubs!

2. Clean Your Deck or Patio

After cleaning a wooden deck, remember to treat the wood, stain and seal it once everything is dry. Most patio furniture can be freshened up with an all-purpose cleaner. On furniture cushions, you can use soap, water, and a soft bristle brush.

3. Tend the Garden

Lay down mulch to protect your plants from a drought, boost their growth, and give a finished look to your yard.

4. Air Out Your Home's Interior

Open all the windows and run the air conditioning on low to rid your home of any winter mustiness.

5. Swap Out Wintery Decor

Swap out your dark linens for a lighter look. Make the inside of your home look and feel like it's ready for summer!

6. Add a Fresh Coat of Paint

Notice any chipping or peeling exterior paint? Consider a touch-up. If you hire a professional, you'll want the work done sooner rather than later.

If you think you'll need professional help with any of these tasks, call me for a great vendor referral. Think you need an upgrade this summer? Call The Swede Team for more information so we can help you buy your next home!

May 22, 2019

Saving More for a Down Payment

For many first-time buyers, saving for a down payment is a critical step on the road to becoming homeowners.

While people who have previously owned a home often use the proceeds from the sale of their homes to finance the purchase of a new one, they also change the way they spend money, if only temporarily, in order to save it quickly. Here are time-tested tips to help you save more.

1. Limit Spending on Luxury or Non-Essential Items

It's tough to sacrifice the luxuries you love to save for a big purchase, but you'll be surprised how much you save. Visualize your new home every time you are tempted to spend money on luxuries, like a spa day or non-essential items, or other expensive extras, and put that cash toward a down payment.

2. Spend Less on Entertainment

Saving money doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your entertainment budget. Instead of splurging on restaurants several times a week, cook at home or take a cooking class. You'll learn new skills and improve the ones you have, while making a great meal in the process. If you like going to the movies, rent one online from M-GO (on Smart TV or Roku), which often has movies still in theaters for a lower rental rate than buying a ticket. There's always an alternative that let's you have fun while saving.

3. Cut Your Clothing Budget

Instead of splurging on new clothes at the mall or whenever an email announcing a sale pops into your inbox, take a second to think about why you're saving money in the first place. Set aside a clothing budget at the beginning of the month -- when the money is gone, there's no more shopping for the month. Discipline shows real results.

4. Postpone a Vacation

Many first-time home buyers put off taking an expensive vacation while saving for a down payment. Instead of going somewhere exotic or far away, head somewhere closer for a long weekend. Or, rediscover the sites of your city or town. You'll save money and still enjoy the benefits of time away.

5. Avoid an Unnecessary Purchase.

Do you really need a new car right now? Try to postpone making large purchases until after you've bought a new home, and you'll get in to your new home that much quicker.

6. Think About a Second Job

If you've cut or limited your spending as much as you can and would like to save even more money, you might consider getting a second job. Brush off the bartending skills you honed in college, teach a class at your local community center or start a side gig as the neighborhood dog walker. That extra money you earn is pure down payment bonus money.

May 15, 2019

3 Tips to Renovate on a Budget

A renovation budget helps you prioritize your project and prepare for any surprise expenses that arise. Whether you're planning a minor update or a major overhaul, keep these tips in mind along the way.

SUBSTITUTE

Substitutions will increase the style and function of your space for a fraction of the price. For example...

  • Acrylic Laminate vs. Marble
    • Marble costs $125-$250 per square foot whereas acrylic laminate costs $75-$120 per square foot. That's a difference of $50-$130!
  • Composite vs. Wood
    • Installing factory-finished hardwood floors in a 12x12 foot room costs $1,140-$2,000 whereas installing laminate flooring in the same room costs $1,000-$1,585. That's a difference of $140-$415!

DO IT YOURSELF

If you're ready to handle a challenge, think about making the improvements yourself. Depending on the scope of the project, you'll save money while improving your skills in the process. 

Take a class at the nearest home improvement store, such as Home Depot or Lowe's or at your local community college. Classes are often targeted at beginners, and you'll have an expert available to answer your questions. Tap into the knowledge of the staff at your local hardware store. Employees often have first-hand experience to answer any questions you have about your renovation project, and can recommend products to make it easier. YouTube offers a wealth of how-to videos for any project around the home. Watch a video or two before you start a project to see what it entails.

RETHINK YOUR PLAN

Do you want to make one big update or several small ones? If your kitchen is out-of-date and/or you're thinking of listing your home soon, a kitchen remodel may help you boost the value of your home. However, if your home is up-to-date or relatively new, small cosmetic changes can really make it pop.

RENOVATIONS THAT PAY OFF

  • Minor Kitchen Remodel -- ROI 79.3%
  • Bathroom Remodel -- ROI 70.0%
  • Family Room Addition -- ROI 64.1%

Completing a project yourself has its benefits, but know your limits. Consider hiring a professional for complicated or extensive work. If you're on the fence, visit DIYorNot.com. This website features cost estimates by zip code for many major renovation projects, both indoors and out. Once finished, contact The Swede Team and we can recommend handymen or contractors to help with your major project. Or, buy a new home with all your desired wants and needs by calling 571-377-8696 or emailing Team@TheSwedeTeam.com

May 8, 2019

How to Prepare for an Emergency

As of July 2017, there have been nine weather and climate disaster events with losses totaling more than $1 billion in the U.S. alone.

More than 80% of Americans live in counties that have experienced a weather-related disaster. However, only 39% of Americans have created an emergency plan for their households. While it’s almost impossible to predict when an emergency or natural disaster will occur, creating a plan may help keep your family safe in the event of one. The better prepared you are, the more comfortable you’ll be if you have to put your plan into action. 

KNOW THE RISKS

No matter where you live, your region may be susceptible to one or more emergency situations or weather hazards, including: earthquakes, wildfires, flooding, tornadoes, hurricanes or blizzards. Although some of these events — like hurricanes — may provide some advanced warning, others — like earthquakes — are hard to predict. Most of these occurrences may lead to extended power outages; however, if you live in an area where they are likely, having a plan will help you prepare for the next event. Other emergencies can happen at any time, such as a house or building fire. Common causes include faulty appliances, electrical components and smoking. In fact, cooking equipment was the cause of 46% of home structure fires from 2010-2014.

DECIDE ON AN EMERGENCY MEETING PLACE

Emergency situations are chaotic. In the midst of the confusion, it can be difficult to get in touch with loved ones. Decide on a meeting place with your family ahead of time to reduce some of the initial stress. Choose three locations: one in the neighborhood, one in your town and one out-of-town, and make sure everyone knows how to get there. Your safe area may vary depending on the emergency—for example, in the event of a tornado or hurricane, stay away from windows and take cover in an interior room of your home or building, on the lowest floor.

MAKE A PLAN

Make a plan that outlines all the information you’ll need to know in the event of an emergency. Not only will it help you get to a safe location, it’ll also allow you to let your loved ones know you’re safe.

1. Create a spreadsheet that includes:

  • Names and nicknames of each family member
  • Phone numbers
  • Email addresses
  • Names of doctors
  • Places of work
  • Schools

2. Plan a safe evacuation route. If you’re home when an emergency occurs, you may have to evacuate with little to no notice. Select several safe evacuation routes, and make sure everyone is familiar with them.

3. Assign roles. Have someone turn off the utilities, like water and electricity, while another person packs the important documents and another grabs pets. Giving everyone a responsibility will ensure nothing important is left behind.

COLLECT IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS

Organize important documents in one place—such as an accordion folder or fireproof safe—so you can easily grab them in case of an emergency. Sort them into categories: personal documents, financial, home, insurance, taxes, health/medical and employment. Also, keep any flash drives, removable hard drives or other storage media in the same location.

PRACTICE

Now that you have a plan, be sure to review and practice it with your family regularly. The more familiar you are with your plan, the more prepared you’ll be in the event of an emergency. And, the more prepared you are, the safer you’ll be.

STAY CONNECTED

Know what to do when disaster strikes! Sign up for text alerts from your local emergency services to receive warnings and other up-to-date hazard information. Also, download weather apps to your smartphone to stay on top of dangerous weather-related activity.

REMEMBER YOUR PETS

Our pets are family members, too. Don’t forget to include them in your emergency preparation and evacuation plans. Visit ASPCA.org to get a free Pet Safety Pack, that includes a window sticker to let rescue workers know if your pet is inside or if has been evacuated. When you're searching emergency meeting places, make sure they're pet friendly!

Your Pet’s Emergency Kit

  • 3-7 days worth of food and water
  • Documents, such as copies of the pet’s medical records and current photos, just in case you’re separated.
  • Sanitary items, such as garbage bags, litter and disposable trays for cats, and cage liners for dogs.
  • Miscellaneous pet items, such as extra harnesses, collars, leashes, a travel carrier and a blanket

Visit www.ready.gov/make-a-plan to download an emergency plan template you can tailor to your family’s needs. If any emergency disrupts your home, contact The Swede Team and we can recommend vendors to assist you or help you buy a new home.

May 6, 2019

New Construction Mondays: Virginia Crossing

An exceptional new home opportunity in the Gainesville area arrives to Haymarket, Virginia this Fall with stately residences by NVHomes at Virginia Crossing! Coming soon from the low $700s. The community is located off of James Madison Hwy. in between Villages of Piedmont and Madison Crossing!

Perfectly located within 4 miles of Battlefield High School, Virginia Crossing offers the perfect blend of neighborhood vibe and city-style convenience. Here, you can build a gorgeous new NV home from 3,500-6,500 sq. ft. on a half-acre homesite backing to open space. Plus, you’ll enjoy more included features than you ever thought possible: Signature kitchen with quartz countertops, handsome trim throughout, home technology package with Nest Learning Thermostats, and a grand owner’s retreat with tray ceiling and spa bath. Our modern floorplans offer flex spaces like private studies, first-floor guests suites will full baths, finished rec rooms, play rooms, and more. Plus, you can even add a covered porch for dining al fresco all year long. 

From Virginia Crossing, you won’t have to travel far for dining, entertainment, and shopping. Our new homes will be located just 2 miles from The Shops at Stonewall with Wegmans, just 3 miles to Piedmont Club, and just 5 miles to Virginia Gateway with Regal Cinema. Dulles International Airport is a short half-hour drive for easy weekend getaways. And proximity to I-66 opens you up to the entire Northern Virginia jobs corridor.

One of the homes placed on the page is the Longwood Model. Who says you can't have craftsmanship, an innovative design, and livability in this popular home? No matter which options you select, the Longwood comes in a variety of traditional, craftsman, and manor elevations to make this home your own! 

The foyer is airy and open to the dining room, making even formal dinners feel casually elegant. The kitchen is a gourmet paradise and features a huge walk-in pantry, eat-at infinity island, and built-in microwave and wall oven. The dinette is perfect for evenings at home and opens to the optional covered porch, bringing the outdoors in. A family room is large but still feels homey – don’t forget to add the fireplace for a cozy focal point. Tucked off in a service wing is a large family entry with arrival center and and coat closet, and a powder room. A study with optional book shelf makes the perfect place to work from home. Or choose a flex space for a hobby space or gift-wrapping area – whatever you need. You can even select a first-floor bedroom with a full bath for a guest suite on the main living level.

Upstairs the livability continues with a large stair landing that feels welcoming. The owner’s bedroom features double door entry, a standard tray ceiling, two huge walk-in closets (one with a full length mirror) and an amazing owner’s bath with dual vanities and separate soaking tub and shower with seat. Each of the other bedrooms have large walk in closets and access to a private bath. A laundry room featuring a sink and generous linen area round out the floor. You can even opt to have a loft on the second floor for an upper level gathering area – you won’t lose a bedroom! Many areas offer a finished lower level that can features a wet bar, full bath, and basement bedroom. 

Thinking of buying new construction? Contact The Swede Team today at Team@TheSwedeTeam.com or call 571-377-8696

May 1, 2019

5 Tips for Navigating the Real Estate Transaction

Thinking of buying or selling a home this year? Here are a few tips to help you get through the real estate process.

  • DON'T OBSESS ABOUT TIMING.

Many buyers and sellers attempt to anticipate the movement of the market so they can time their purchase or listing right. In realist, the right time to buy or sell is when you're ready to buy or sell. Instead of obsessing about the perfect time, focus on making sure you're ready.

  • CHECK YOUR EXPECTATIONS

Television and the experiences of your friends and family may color your expectations of the buying or selling process. Everyone's experience will be different. Learning more about the process and the state of the market will help you set realistic expectations. 

  • KEEP YOUR EMOTIONS IN CHECK

Most people go through the real estate process a few times in their lives. Buying a home is a huge investment, and buyers may put extra pressure on themselves to find the perfect home that meets all their buying criteria. Similarly, selling a home is an emotional journey -- you've put a lot of time and energy into fixing up a home and made a lot of good memories there. When emotions are involved, it's easy to make a rash decision. You'll feel more in control of the process if you try to stay focused and calm.

  • DO YOUR RESEARCH

If you're thinking of buying, check out the neighborhoods you want to live in, think of how long you'd like to live in the home and write down your must-haves and deal breakers. If you're thinking of selling, The Swede Team can help you position your home to sell in our market.

  • RELY ON A PRO

You're not alone on your journey. The Swede Team is here to answer your questions, ease your concerns, and guide you through the process. 

If you have your eye on a home, try before you buy! It's smart to visit at different times of day before you make an offer

  1. Rush Hour -- How long is your commute? The house may be 7 miles from work, but if you have to drive through 17 traffic lights or merge onto several busy highways, your commute may be much longer. Testing the commute is another way to help you decide if the home is right for you.
  2. Mid-Morning -- Visiting during the day allows you to see if any neighbors are home. You will also be able to determine if there is any additional traffic noise from autos or trains nearby.
  3. Mid-Afternoon -- If you have children, visit when school is dismissed. Not only will you see if the street is heavily trafficked at this time, you can also see if children use your yard as a shortcut.
  4. Evening -- Visiting at night provides insight into the personality of the neighborhood. Are there children playing outside? Are the neighbors entertaining guests? Are people outside running or walking their dogs? Is the neighborhood deserted? Once you get a feel for the neighborhood, you can assess whether you want to be a part of it.

The process of buying or selling a home can be overwhelming for many people. If you’re thinking of entering the market this year, remember to give us a call. We would love to chat with you about our local market.