Something to keep your eye on…Having a home within a mile of Trader Joe’ s or Whole Foods will make your home more valuable.

Trader JoesSo many factors can affect the value of your home in today’s real estate market. When you are looking to purchase a new home you always look for the neighborhood, schools, shopping, and transportation. As I read the below linked analysis by Zillow I truly found this very interesting, that this will be something to watch over time. I personally own a home within this radius of a Trader Joes, and I have not seen this effect on the market. Maybe with the remodel of the Starbucks within the same distance, and the introduction of the Latte Macchiato (My new favorite drink) we will see this become a reality.

And according to analysis by Zillow, an online real estate marketplace, one of the increasingly important factors is the presence of a high-end grocery stores.

“Zillow found that homes grow more rapidly in value if they are closer to a Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods,” the company said in a release.

“Between 1997 and 2014, homes near the two grocery chains were consistently worth more than the median U.S. home. By the end of 2014, homes within a mile of either store were worth more than twice as much as the median home in the rest of the country.”

The analysis is included in the new edition of Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff and Zillow Group Chief Economist Stan Humphries’ book Zillow Talk. In the release, Humphries offered an explanation for the phenomenon.

“Like a self-fulfilling prophecy, the stores may actually drive home prices,” Humphries said. “Even if they open in neighborhoods where home prices have lagged those in the wider city, they start to outperform the city overall once the stores arrive.”

For example, the analysis found that 2 years after a new Trader Joe’s opened home values within one mile went up by 10 percentage points more than homes in the rest of the city.

“It says something about the way people want to live – in the type of neighborhood favored by the generations buying homes now,” Rascoff said.

“Today’s homebuyers seek things in neighborhoods that weren’t even in real estate agents’ vocabularies a generation ago: walkability, community, new urbanism – and maybe we should add words like sustainable seafood and organic pears.”

Why should I hire a Property Manager for my Rental Home?

imagesQQ8ZNBQCI thought I could manage our home being 2000 miles away, I did not need a property manager.  Wow! What I learned in the past 2 ½ years has changed my mind.  I would 100% recommend a property manager if you own a home and rent it. So the Question is why should I hire a property manager?

  • Owning and renting properties can be rather stressful as it was to me.  The constant watching over and answering tenants needs, the worrying about and dealing with bad tenants, and overall care for the property.
  • Benefit of Property Management The main benefit of property management to owners of houses for rent and other real estate properties is the preservation of their properties.
  • The Role of a Property Manager Property management is a process that aims to safeguard the interests of both landlords and tenants by fulfilling the basic responsibilities:
  • Screening Tenant Applications The screening process includes a complete credit check, search for prior eviction, tenant history, employment verification and bad check search.
  • Collecting Rents One of the primary duties of a property manager involves the timely collection of rents and bookkeeping services like payment of bills and mortgage payments if requested.
  • Taking care of the regular maintenance and repairs of the property Once you accept paying tenants, you are expected to resolve maintenance issues promptly. There are building repairs that must be addressed immediately like carpentry, roofing, painting, electrical and plumbing works.
  • Acting as liaison between owner and tenant, you need a property manager to represent you in resolving issues with your tenants.
  • Providing security to the property The property manager is also responsible in securing the premises of the property from thefts, fires, illegal intrusions and other man-made hazards that can endanger the property whether occupied or vacant.

Now you ask, I need one how do I begin to find a Property Manager I can trust?

A property manager can play a vital role in the rental process of an investment property. The property manager will seek to maximize weekly rental income and source high quality tenants who will best take care of your asset.  It is therefore, crucial to choose wisely when deciding who should represent you and your property. To ensure that you appoint the most suitable agent to manage your property it is important to do your research and meet with a few agencies before making a final decision.

Below are some of the key questions I feel are important for you to ask before you make that final decision. A good property management company will not mind the questions.

Questions to ask when interviewing a property manager: My top ten

  1. Does your agency have a dedicated property management department?

Some agencies will view the task of property management as less important than selling and will therefore leave this task up to the front desk staff or receptionists. Discover if the agency is experienced in the area of property management and has dedicated staff to effectively manage your property.

2. Is a director/owner of the agency overseeing the property management department?

How focused is the agency on property management? The more important property management is to an agency, the more successful they may be at effectively managing your property.

3.  How many years of experience do you have in property management?

Experienced property managers will be able to attract the best tenants to look after your property and deal with those that become difficult.

4. Can you provide me with a written current comparison of rental values in the market?

An experienced and knowledgeable agent will be able to benchmark comparable rental properties on the market and advise you of the optimal rental return you should receive from your property.

5. What is your process for reviewing potential tenants?

How do they determine whether the tenant is suitable for a property? Do they conduct police checks, or checks regarding their past rental history, current employment, etc?

6. How many properties are you managing at the moment?

Are they representing many other people, hence being reputable and successful? Bigger however is not always better, it is also important to establish if you will be a priority and get the service and attention required during the property management process.

7. Will you go to court to represent me if needed?

In the case that you experience difficult tenants, you may need to go to court to resolve certain issues about the bond or other matters. The property manager you decide on will need to be experienced and willing to support you in these times.

8. Will you advise me of any maintenance and repairs that need to be made to the property?

In particular when non urgent repairs need to be made, will you seek approval before getting items repaired?

9. What are your fees?

Enquire about management fees as well as any other costs a property manager may charge. Typical fees you may incur include those related to sourcing tenants, ongoing management of property and monthly statement fees.

10. Can I please see some references or contact details of the landlords using your property management services?

What level of service was provided to past clients? Did they take care of the landlord and follow through on all which was promised?

If you are in the Williamsburg area and looking for a property manager, you should check into Liz Moore and Associates, they answered these questions for me upfront.  See if they are a fit for you and your property.  I just made the choice to go with a property management company,  Liz Moore and Associates and I believe it is one of the best decisions I have made in regards to our home.

Toolkit to Help Consumers Shopping for a Mortgage “Owning a Home”

Today, as part of the CFPB’s Know Before You Owe initiative, the Bureau is releasing Owning a Home, a suite of tools to inform and empower consumers shopping for a mortgage. It takes the consumer from the very start of the home-buying process, with a guide to loan options, terminology, and costs, through to the closing table with a closing checklist.

CFPB’s report is based on results from new data in the National Survey of Mortgage Borrowers, a voluntary survey jointly conducted by the CFPB and the Federal Housing Finance Agency. The Bureau analyzed responses from consumers who took out a mortgage to buy a home in 2013. Among the key findings:

  • Almost half of consumers fail to shop around before applying: Almost half of consumers who take out a mortgage fail to shop prior to filling out an application for a mortgage. This means these consumers are seriously considering only a single lender or mortgage broker before choosing where to apply.
  • Three out of four consumers only apply with one lender or broker: While half of consumers shop around to see who advertises lower rates, fewer than one out of four borrowers actually end up submitting a loan application to more than one lender or broker. These consumers are not filling out applications with multiple lenders to see which one can offer them the best deal.
  • Most consumers get their information from lenders or brokers, who have a stake in the outcome: The survey asked recent mortgage borrowers whether they used different information sources. Respondents were asked to report whether they used each source a lot, a little, or not at all. Consumers could pick multiple categories. Among the findings: 70 percent of consumers report relying on their lender or mortgage broker a lot to get information about mortgages. While lenders and brokers can be valuable resources, they have a stake in the selling of the mortgage, so what is best for the lender or broker is not always best for the consumer.
  • Borrowers who prioritize the terms of the loan over the characteristics of the lender are more likely to shop: The survey asked borrowers whether characteristics of lenders or mortgage brokers were “very,” “somewhat,” or “not at all” important in their selection. The survey found those who listed lender characteristics as important, instead of the loan terms, are less likely to shop. Specifically, the survey found that among all borrowers – those who shopped and those who did not – 42 percent said having an established banking relationship with the lender is “very important.” Since most borrowers likely only have a few banking relationships, this likely inhibits shopping.
  • Informed consumers are twice as likely to shop: Consumers who are confident in their knowledge about the mortgage process are more likely to shop around. For instance, consumers who are confident about their knowledge of available interest rates are almost twice as likely to shop as consumers who are unfamiliar with available interest rates. The survey found that 55 percent of shoppers said they were very familiar with mortgage rates, while 30 percent of shoppers said they were not at all familiar.


Link to Owning a Home Toolkit:

A great recourse for the current homebuyer.

Hello September!

Hello SeptemberHello September! So many of my favorite things rolled up into one day. My absolute favorite my daughter was born 13 years ago on this day!  New Month starting on a Monday plus being a Holiday it does not get any better than this?  Lots of fresh new starts to think about today.  Nothing like turning over the page on a calendar & starting off on the right foot with a brand new whole week ahead.  Make it a great Month!

You Can Easily Turn Your Spring Cleaning, Into Some Extra Cash For The Upcoming PCS Season.

Yard saleSpring is upon us, you know what that means. Time to give the home a deep cleaning and do some organization before the PCS move. More often than not you will realize that you have tons of stuff that you rarely use so it gets boxed up and moves to the next duty station in the box, or sits an attic collecting dust when it could be making you money! The average home has $7,000 worth of unused items simply taking up space according to a study by market research firm NPD Group.


This weekend Money and I took on our garage, there is no reason our garage should be doubling as a storage unit. As I looked at all the items we really could do without and have been moving from duty station to duty station, I decided with this upcoming PCS no more moving our storage unit (aka garage). One of my favorite quotes I am taking to heart “Get rid of anything that isn’t Useful, Beautiful or Joyful” Regina Brett. For example the large treadmill collecting dust for 2 PCS moves. I set out to research the help of great websites and apps, which would help us on our journey of purging. I had previously used Gazelle to sell some old cell phones, I knew there had to be a site or app for it. I was surprised of the value I received for my Iphone 4  $100.00  so you just never know. They paid right when they said they would. I highly recommend Gazelle for resale of old phones.

Gadgets: Old cell phones or Ipads

Even a limited spring-cleaning spree should include assessing older model smartphones, laptops, tablets and other electronics. Gadget trade-in has become a competitive market, Sell everything from smartphones to video games, and laptops for cash. They’ll pay upfront within a week by Paypal, a check or a Target gift card, and they will wipe your item clear of personnel info. (I actually recommend before sending setting your electronics back to factory settings.)

Gift cards

Unwanted gift cards could be worth as much as 92.5 percent of their value on the secondary market, according to, a site that aggregates offers from various resellers. Now you can trade in those unwanted gift cards you aren’t planning on using for cards you will use, or sell them for cash. I have personally used this one and loved my experience.


Haul a bag down to the nearest secondhand bookstore, or try your luck online. Powell’s Books and Now if you know Money we have TONS of books.   I believe this accounts for a ¼ of our shipment weight during our PCS Moves. I do like very easy to use. Type in the International Standard Book Number (ISBN) and the site will search more than 40 book buying sites that are used textbooks and other books to give you a quote for yours. Best part of the site it is free with no registration required that aims to help you find the best place to sell your used book


So Chloe Grace is nervous over this one, I have my eyes on old Video games. Old CDs, DVDs and video games can be a tough sell on the secondhand market if you haven’t kept the original cases with the artwork, extra materials and UPC code intact. That’s a must at sites such as Amazon, and


Now we move on to clothing…Yes I am a shopper and I usually give most of my clothing away or donate to shelters that can use it. But since I love the ability to sell or trade items on line and with ease. I had to try I was surprised at the ease of this site. You fill a prepaid, pre-addressed bag with used or new clothing and you can earn up to 80 percent of the resale value in cash or a shopping credit back to the site. They accept and sell adult and children’s clothing. We are testing this site out with Chloe’s clothing, she jumped right up to volunteer with some items she out grew still in great shape.   Our agreement all the money we received from her clothes she could buy new ones. I also came across on my online quest for resale wash , wow one can still dream! This is high end clothing and bags, you can earn up to 70 percent of the resale value for your clothing, by selling your Chanel Bag or Prada shoes.


Good look with your journey to cashing out this PCS move season!


Have you ever rented a home without personally seeing it Live? … I have!

rentWith the summer PCS season coming up quickly and orders are arriving, I have had several friends ask me,  Have you ever rented a house without seeing it? Should I consider doing this?  I have, and their mouths drop open. I will suggest this if you have done your research about the area and new duty station. Today, with many us about to PCS the military member might be deployed, and the family in another location where it makes it hard to make a trip to see a home. As a landlord also I am on both sides of this question. There are so many things to consider when you rent a house without seeing it.  Is it on a busy road?  Are the pictures old?  Is the yard safe?  Are there scary rooms?  As a landlord, I want my tenants to be happy.  I try to send current pictures and video (real time Face time or Skype) that show as much as possible, and explain the neighborhood and area.  There is always the fear that if the tenant is not happy in my home, they will consciously or subconsciously blame me, and as a landlord I strive to have happy tenants. Housing is the single largest expense for most families, and of course you want to make sure you are making good use of your BAH dollars.  Have any of you ever rented a house without seeing it in person? My experience of renting a home without seeing it turned out wonderful for our Family. The landlords were Military as well, the home and neighborhood turned out to be better than we had expected. My last piece of advice is to have several conversations with the potential landlords ask all the questions, I have listed a few below that are common ones you might of  forget.

If you’re renting a single family house, you should ask who is responsible for maintaining the exterior of the property. Some landlords expect the tenants to mow the lawn and shovel the snow, while others do it themselves so they know the property is being maintained correctly. These responsibilities should be spelled out in the lease so there’s never a question about who is supposed to do what.

  • How’s your cell phone signal? You don’t want to be forced to have all phone conversations while hanging out your window or the one tiny corner where you manage to pick up a signal.
  • How big are the rooms, really? Great for video or skype. You and the  landlord may have different opinions on what room size comfortably fits a queen size bed.
  • How’s the water pressure? Don’t forget to ask the follow up, including is the shower pressure weak? How long does it take for the water to get hot in the morning?
  • Is the rental noisy? Be quiet for a minute and listen for ambient noise, such as weird fans, generators, barking dogs, loud trucks, trains or noisy neighbors.
  • How is the view? Are there enough windows to provide you with the natural light you want? If the curtains are closed, pull them open to check out the view. You might not want your living room overlooking your neighbor’s bathroom.
  • What is the heating situation? Because people often rent during the summer, they neglect to ask about the heat.  Find out if the heating is individual or shared, such as an uncontrolled radiator, and find out the costs.
  • Who do I contact for repairs and how long does it take for someone to come make the repair from the time of my call?
  • Are there any repairs that I am required by the lease to pay for myself?
  • Who is responsible for the Utilities? What do the utilities cost for the house? (ask for a few past bills to verify)
  • What appliances are guaranteed with the lease and which are not repaired or replaced if something happens to them?
  • Lastly can I have a dog? Rules on size?  Very important to our family, we love our Zoey…pictured below.



Good luck with the summer PCS Season!

The Big Moving Adventure…There is an App for that!

The Big Moving Adventure

Children in military families move six to nine times between kindergarten and high school, and a mobile app launched in December can help them cope with leaving a familiar place for the      unknown. Military parents face unique challenges during a move, and the app helps their young children through the experience.

The Big Moving Adventure app lets children create a Muppet friend to help them through the moving process.

Developed for the Defense Department in partnership with Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization The National Center for Telehealth & Technology (T2) behind Sesame Street, the mobile app is available for download from the App Store, Google Play and Amazon for Kindle Fire.

Chief Tecumseh (Poem from Act of Valor)

I had not read this since I first posted back in 2012 to my Williamsburg Military Insider blog. Wow! Chief Tecumseh poem inspires me to Make this life count, and live to the fullest having used all my talents and have no regrets. Rereading the poem inspires me to ask what can I give, and not worry about what I don’t have. This life is short and too short not to live every day to your fullest potential.

Williamsburg Military Insider

By: Williamsburg Military Insider

The movie Act of Valor at the end, has this amazing poem by Native American Shawnee Chief, Tecumseh. I wanted to share it with you all. As a Current Military Spouse it has a special place. It’s truly amazing and I hope that it inspires you to make this life count, to pursue noble undertakings, and live to the fullest  having used all your talents and have no regrets.

“So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.

Always give a word or…

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Senate Armed Services Subcommittee Hearing on Personnel March 26 #KeepYourPromise


When you break a promise you’re tampering with the delicate formula upon which the strength and vitality of all – volunteer force is based.

The National Military Family Associations continues to fight for Military Families in this budget  battle. Members of NMFA team will be joining other organizations to testify before the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel next week March 26, telling Congress to KeepYourPromise Tell National Military Family Association, what do you want Congress to know? The National Military Family Association is counting down the days until they testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday. Tell them what you want Congress to know about how the proposed budget that will  affect Military Families at  For a listing of the members of the committee

Trans- Siberian Orchestra…I had no idea of their support for the Military.

TSO ConcertTrans- Siberian Orchestra…I had no idea of their support for the Military.

Last night I had the privilege of going to my very first Trans-Siberian Concert. I was so excited you would have thought I was going to the candy store on our drive to the Concert. I have wanted to always go for the past 10 years, my husband could not contain my excitement for this 30 min drive. This year was possible, my girls were finally at the age were they would appreciate it and enjoy!

Right before the show started Al Pitrelli came out on stage with a group of Marines from the St. Louis area. He introduced the Marines to the Audience and told us that with every concert Trans-Siberian Orchestra (TSO) does they donate one dollar to a local charity. They choose to donate to the Marines Toys for Tots programs. They donated over $8000.00 last night. Being a Military Spouse I was impressed TSO would do this. I later learned at every concert they do in the United States they donate to a Military related organization, for example also the USO. So let’s do the Math, they do approximately 70 Concerts here in the United States in November and December and donate one dollar of every ticket sale. This brought such joy to me that an organization supports the military as TSO does.

Just as I thought the concert was about to end, Al came up to the Microphone the words that came out amazed me. Trans-Siberian Orchestra wanted to salute the Military and thank them for their service and sacrifices. Because of every member, present and past thousands of Men and Women have stood up to give us the freedom to perform as we do. At this point I am starting to tear up, that they would recognize all the members of the Military who will not be home with their families this Christmas. I now know why I have loved Trans-Siberian Orchestra for so many years, not just their amazing talent but the goodwill they have towards others.

One of my favorite songs: Christmas Canyon

If you get the chance to attend one of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra Concerts I highly recommend it!