On-line lenders and Real Estate

We are often asked at Solutions whether it makes more sense to go with a local lender in the Charlottesville area that knows the local market and is available to answer calls beyond regular office hours, or go with an online mortgage lender.  We see the commercials all the time about being approved in eight minutes by uploading your W2s and other tax info from your phone, thus beating out … [Read more...]

Why is the Listing Agent Present at a showing when I have a Buyers Agent?

Here at Solutions, we often let our Buyer’s clients know that when they are going to open houses and a listing agent approaches them to let that agent know they are working with a Buyer’s agent.  This is to protect the potential Buyer as the listing agent is loyal to their Sellers FIRST and might not necessarily provide the same answers that they would be required to with a Buyer’s agent present … [Read more...]

Generation Z and Home Buying

Generation Z and Home Buying Most members of Gen Z - born between 1994 and 2005 and now 23 and younger - expect to own their first home by age 28 - three years younger than the median age of first-time homeowners; and another nearly 100,000 already own a home. By contrast Gen Y - born between 1977 and 1994 - has made it pretty clear that they aren’t ready to take the homeownership plunge … [Read more...]

Are Mortgage Points a Good Idea?

Are Mortgage Points a Good Idea? When it comes to deciding on what type of loan you will need to purchase a house, it’s a good idea to arm yourself with as much information as possible.  One topic that comes up time and again is buying mortgage points and whether they can save you in the long run, if the numbers line up correctly. If you don’t know what they are, just read on. What are … [Read more...]

Things I wish I knew before buying my first home

For a first time home buyer, choosing and then buying a new home can be a confusing and somewhat daunting task. Here at Solutions, we’ll help you understand the process and find the home that's the perfect fit. Know your needs. First, examine your lifestyle. Do you want to be in the country? Would you like to walk to work or other city spots? Looking forward to a family-friendly suburban … [Read more...]

What Does a Builder’s Warranty Cover?

What Does a Builder's Warranty Cover? With the boom in new building construction taking place all over Charlottesville - from Crozet to in town and all along the 29 North corridor - many people considering building new might also want to think about what the builder’s warranty will cover after the home is built. Or, what it might cover if you buy a newer home a few years after that. Most … [Read more...]

Home Buying Tips for 2018

Home Buying Tips for 2018 Springtime typically means warmer temps and blooming flowers in the Charlottesville area, although the start to this year’s spring has been anything but typical with snow showers on the first official day of spring, and interspersed with sunnier days ever since. The market is indeed different from year to year, and spring 2018 is already shaping up to be a uniquely … [Read more...]

Should You Buy in a Gated Community? 

Should You Buy in a Gated Community?  We have already looked at the pros and cons of buying a home in a neighborhood that has a Homeowner’s Association. Let’s now look at homes that go one step further - those that are located in a gated community. A gated community is a collection of homes that are accessible only to residents and their guests via a gate or wall across any roadways in or out. … [Read more...]

Interest Rates are Rising – What does this mean for you?

Interest Rates are Rising - What does this mean for you? As of Feb. 9, mortgage interest rates were moving up, though not to the point where they are expected to dampen the demand for home ownership or curtail the strength of the U.S. housing market. The rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage climbed to 4.5% at the end of January, close to a four-year high, according to Capital Economics. This … [Read more...]

Can I Afford a Home in Charlottesville?

Is Charlottesville Housing Affordable?  The city of Charlottesville is a town in constant flux - students move from place to place as they travel through their University careers, medical residents live here for about three years before heading off to other opportunities, visiting scientists and professors stay for a year or two before moving again, and government employees are stationed at the … [Read more...]

How to Sell Your Home to Baby Boomers

Last week, we talked about what Millennials are looking for in a home, but now it’s time to look at Baby Boomers and see if their needs are changing. This group spans two decades, from 1946 to 1964, with the oldest nearing 70, and the youngest just passing AARP’s 50-year threshold. More than one-third are single females.  The United States currently has a population of 76 million Baby Boomers, … [Read more...]

How to Sell Your Home to Millennials

How to Sell Your Home to Millennials Much has been made about the different generations of Buyers and how they approach purchasing a home. Baby Boomers have ceded space to Generation X, and now the Millennials are jockeying for their place in the real estate market. Numbering around 80 million, Millennials now represent the fastest-growing generation of consumers in the U.S. Those born between … [Read more...]

Best House Hunting Strategies

Best House Hunting Strategies Searching for your dream house can be a daunting task, and most of the homes you see won't be what you're looking for. Below are some great strategies to use to help you weed out the houses that are just not right for you and help you avoid common house hunting mistakes. Have your team in place While many house hunters think they will save money by not working … [Read more...]

Tips for a Smooth House Closing

Tips for a Smooth House Closing When it comes to finding your dream home, there are many steps along the way to a smooth closing. After you’ve identified your perfect house - negotiated the contract, applied and approved for a loan, inspected and agreed to repairs and/or credits - the last step is the most important: the closing. By knowing what to expect and doing some legwork, you can … [Read more...]

How to Get Ready to Move

How to Get Ready to Move You’ve gotten your house contact signed and are on your way to the settlement date, but there might be one hiccup left along the way - how are you going to move everything? While you’re excited about all the possibilities a new home can bring, this might also be the perfect time to get rid of old clutter in your life so you can really begin anew. But where to … [Read more...]

If You Can Rent in Charlottesville You Can Own in Charlottesville

Newly elected CAAR president Anthony McGhee recently said that he believed, "If you can rent in Charlottesville you can own in Charlottesville.” Here at Solutions, we thought this was worth investigating. Should you buy or rent? This is a question most of us will likely face in our lives, whether buying a house makes more financial sense than renting a home.  What’s the financial … [Read more...]

Shopping for a Home in January

Shopping for a Home in January With the start of any new year, buying a new home might be the furthest resolution on people’s minds. But it might, in fact, be a very smart way to start off the year right. For one thing, as a Buyer, you will have little to no competition for houses on the market, even though the inventory will be lower than the most popular time - spring. Another reason to … [Read more...]

Questions your Realtor may not legally be able to answer

As REALTORS®, we get asked many questions by Buyers. We’re happy to help answer as many as we can, ones like: how old is the roof on a house, or does it use gas or electrical heat?  Your Solutions agent can tell you pretty much anything you need to know about a home you’re hoping to buy (or at least find answers for you). But there are several questions that we (any REALTOR®) aren’t legally … [Read more...]

Why buy a Charlottesville Home in the Winter

Why Buy A Charlottesville Home in Fall/Winter? In a place where spring is one of the most beautiful seasons of all, it makes sense that our Charlottesville real estate market is also incredibly busy during that time  - with homes often selling within hours or days of coming on the market after fielding several contracts at a time. In spring, people who have been cooped up over the winter are … [Read more...]

What to do with a Low Home Appraisal

What to do with a Low Home Appraisal In the home-buying process, there are several crucial steps along the way that Sellers and Buyers alike will have to navigate: the home inspection, radon test, title issues, getting a survey and negotiating when an appraisal comes in significantly lower than the accepted offer. When this happens both sides can go through many different … [Read more...]

FSBO Charlottesville

FSBO - Is It Really Better To Sell A Home Yourself? Here at Solutions we’ve touched on the issue of FSBOs (For Sale By Owner) quite often as we’re frequently asked by potential Sellers why they should consider having an agent versus selling their home themselves. Selling a Charlottesville home is easy, at least that’s what some people say. All you have to do is put a “For Sale” sign in the … [Read more...]


What’s the difference between a REALTOR® vs an Agent? Many people interested in buying a home often ask us, “What’s the difference between a Realtor® and a real estate agent, and, where does a broker fit in the equation?” We hear the terms real estate agent and Realtor® bandied about quite often, and many people think they’re referring to the same thing. Before the Multiple Listing … [Read more...]

What is a HOA – and what are the pros and cons?

We’re often asked by prospective Buyers first, what’s an HOA and what does it cover, and second, what are the pros and cons of living in a neighborhood with an HOA? The first is relatively simple to answer. You’re required to join an HOA - or Home Owners Association - when you purchase a condominium, townhouse or other type of property in a planned development, such as a leased land … [Read more...]

Renting in Charlottesville

Renting in Charlottesville Here at Solutions we often get asked about rentals in the Charlottesville area. While many rental listings never make it into our local MLS, there are ways to find them. Two such resources for apartment rentals are: https://www.apartmentlist.com/va/charlottesville and http://www.brac.com/. While many of the listings tend to cater to UVA students and/or young … [Read more...]

House Hunting – Dos and Don’ts

House Hunting - Dos and Don’ts Searching for a house can be challenging and time-consuming, and most won't be “the one.” It's tempting to dive right in and start looking at every open house listed in the paper or online. But before you dedicate your weekends, you need to know what you're looking for. In order to prioritize your wants and needs versus seeing everything in case you feel … [Read more...]

Hidden Costs of Buying a Home

Many first time homebuyers have in mind that they need at least a 20% down payment and a monthly check for the mortgage. But that’s not the entire story when it comes to buying a home. There are a mountain of “hidden” costs — from closing fees to taxes — that can add up to more than $9,000 each year — and that number will only jump if you live in a major U.S. city. Three unavoidable costs — … [Read more...]

What is an Escrow Money Deposit and Who Holds it?

Here at Solutions, we often get asked by First Time Home Buyers, “What is an Escrow Money Deposit (EMD), and why do you need it?” In short, during the purchase offer stage, it’s like a deposit that a Buyer puts down to show that they’d like to purchase a property in good faith. An EMD is only deposited after a contract has been fully ratified (when all signatures and initialing are complete … [Read more...]

What is the Title Insurance, and Why is it Important?

Here at Solutions, we are often asked by our Buyer clients why they need title insurance and, when they order it, what’s involved in the process. Buying a home is a long, complex transaction. Title insurance is an important part since it insures and assures the Buyer that all liens placed against the prior owners of the property, or documents that will restrict their use of the property, have … [Read more...]

Do you need an agent when building a new home?

For Buyers, the Model Home signs you see everywhere around the Charlottesville area often make you want to stop in and check them out. When you see the finished project, it’s easy to get excited about building your dream home from the ground up - choosing your lot, your model, interior finishes and upgrades, etc. But, like with any home purchase, buying new construction is an expensive … [Read more...]

Who Really Represents the Client in a Real Estate Transaction?

So, Who Really Does Represent the Client in a Real Estate Transaction? We know many of our Solutions clients are tech savvy, and they’ve become familiar with such websites as Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com and others when they’re either looking to purchase or sell a home. But, did you know that Realtor.com, Zillow, Trulia, and even our Local MLS' website, promote something called “Dual Agency”, … [Read more...]

Questions to Ask A Mortgage Lender Before Writing an Offer

Questions to Ask A Mortgage Lender Before Writing an Offer You’ve chosen your dream house, gotten pre-qualified and are about to write your offer - so now what? At Solutions, we recommend finding out as much as possible about your mortgage before you make the next big leap. In fact it is a good idea to talk with a lender, before actually looking at homes, so you know that you can afford that … [Read more...]

Questions Buyers should be asking their Agents

What questions should Buyers ask before putting an offer on a home? Here at Solutions, we get asked lots of questions by clients in their search for their dream home. Because of Equal Housing Laws, there are some we’re prevented by law from answering, but there are a number of answers we can find out or sources we can point you towards to look up the info you seek.Below are a few common … [Read more...]

How Are Buyer’s Agents Paid Anyway?

Here at Solutions, we often get asked many questions by prospective Buyers, but one in particular tends to stand out - “How do we, when we work as Buyer’s Agents, get paid?”Our answer is very simple - as Buyer’s Agents, we don’t work for free, but it’s the Seller who pays our fee, not the Buyers themselves.The Seller, who has already entered into a listing agreement, pays both their listing agent … [Read more...]

Why use a Buyer’s Agent to Help With Your Home Purchase?

For most Americans, a home is the most significant and costly purchase they’ll make in their lifetime, with significant financial and emotional ramifications for the parties involved. Having proper representation, therefore, is critical. In this economy, and with ever greater access to the Internet, it’s easy to see why many people are looking to cut costs any way they can when it comes to … [Read more...]

Tips for a Successful “Walk-Through”

You’ve made it through the home inspection process, have your loan commit letter and approval in hand, placed your calls to the utility companies to transfer the accounts into your name, so, what’s left to do now before you close?One of the most important steps - the “walk-through” - is the next to last thing to check off your “to-do” list before you head into your closing company or attorney’s … [Read more...]

Helping First-time Homebuyers Find What They Can They Afford

What do you think of when you hear the phrase “first-time homebuyer?”  Chances are you think of a couple fresh out of college and starting new jobs. Did you know that a first-time homebuyer means anyone who has not bought a home in three years? Yes, you heard that right. This can apply to anyone, whether they had to go through a short sale or foreclosed on a home. If it has been three years then … [Read more...]

What’s a Kick-out clause anyway?

You may have seen the phrase “kick-out clause” and wondered what it meant. As used in a real estate contract, it allows a Seller to accept a Purchaser’s contingent offer to purchase his/her property, while allowing the Seller to continue to market the property. The length of time can be for 24-, 48- or 72 (or more) hours depending upon what the Seller and Purchaser agree to. If a Seller then … [Read more...]

The Dos and Don’ts of calling the listing agent

The Dos and Don’ts of calling the listing agent Here at Solutions we get a lot of questions from potential buyers about the proper protocol for seeing a listing - should they go to see it with a buyer’s agent or simply call the listing agent? Buyers might wonder if only the listing agent should show a home. Yes, an agent is obligated to show his or her client's homes, but, if you’re working with … [Read more...]

Buying New Construction? An Experienced Real Estate Agent is a Must on Your Side

When a Charlottesville area buyer wants to go the new construction route there are several factors to consider. While an existing house can be inspected and everything is already in view, it can be difficult to picture exactly what you think you’re going to get with a brand new home. Sometimes, what you see in the builder’s furnished model is not what you get for the advertised base price. A … [Read more...]

Always Check out the Neighborhood Before You Decide to Buy

Imagine shopping for your dream home in the Charlottesville area market in the springtime. It’s easy to get in an expectant frame of mind when all of the flowering dogwoods and azaleas are in full bloom and it appears that Open House signs are dotting every street on the weekends. You know that inventory is low because Match Day has happened at UVA Hospital, many people are arriving in town now … [Read more...]

Things to Avoid Before You Close on Your New Home

Now that the contract has been ratified, the home inspection period has passed and everything agreed to, buyers may think that everything is smooth sailing until they close on their new home. Right? Not quite. There are a number of other things buyers must NOT do before the final settlement date. If they’ve been approved for a mortgage, they might be assuming that all they need to worry about … [Read more...]

What is an “Escalation Clause” and when would a Buyer want to use it?

As the Charlottesville Spring 2014 market starts to get busy, Buyers who have been waiting for more houses to come on the market are poised and ready to “jump on” a newly listed house that looks just right. Here at Solutions, we recommend that our Buyers get pre-qualified with a local Charlottesville lender so they can be ready to move quickly as soon as that “just right” house hits the … [Read more...]

The listing agent did not tell me that

A very simple comment from a buyer client who was talking directly with the listing agent. The client said to me "The listing agent did not tell me that..." This is a recent comment from a client and the reason is simple... The listing agent represents the best interests of the seller (not you)... Think about this for a minute. Virginia is a caveat emptor state (buyer beware) and that is … [Read more...]

James Friend Dickerson joins Charlottesville Solutions

Good news travels fast and having James Friend Dickerson join us at Charlottesville Solutions is certainly good news! Jim is a wonderful addition to Solutions as he brings years of experience and exceptional customer service. A native of Central Virginia, James lived in Charlottesville, Albemarle, and Louisa Counties before heading to Virginia Tech to study Forestry and Wildlife … [Read more...]

Charlottesville Solutions welcomes Sybil Mahanes

Well the word is out and we are very excited to announce that Sybil Mahanes has joined Charlottesville Real Estate Solutions. Sybil was born and raised in Charlottesville Virginia. Her love of the area and its people is infectious. Prior to real estate, Sybil was the owner of the Ivy Store, a landmark in Western Albemarle, and she knows most residents on a first name basis. When I first met … [Read more...]

Explaining Virginia’s new Buyer Brokerage Agreement law

New Virginia Buyer Brokerage Agreement law What you need to know as of July 1, 2012 If you're thinking of purchasing a home in Virginia, you'll want to know that there's a new Agency law that will take effect on July 1 that will change the way you can see houses no matter where you are in the state. A great many of our clients already use our Solutions website to look up houses in our local … [Read more...]

First meeting with Charles in Charlottesville

  As my clients know I love the Charlottesville area and I love showing Charlottesville Real Estate and Homes to my clients. A lot of factors go into the decision to relocate to a new area and one thing I have learned is that no two clients are alike in this regard. If time permits, we will often tour specific areas while discussing your needs and I will actually explain why I choose … [Read more...]

Use a local Charlottesville Buyers Agent

When looking to buy a home in Charlottesville, or any area for that matter, logic dictates that you use a highly skilled local Charlottesville buyers agent. However, I see so many people go against this logic. So let's look at why. A Local Charlottesville Buyers Agent Knows The Market This just makes good sense. Most Buyers Agents specialize in a particular location. We know the Charlottesville … [Read more...]

Top 3 Google+ tips for Real Estate Business

Write a good Bio Seems like this is a no brainer but I am amazed at how many people have little or no Bio on Google. Why spend so much time without having a good Bio, makes no sense to me. Engage Google+ is very social and you have the opportunity to engage with "specific" circles of friends and contacts. Very powerful if used properly. Humor Have a sense of humor. All work and no play makes … [Read more...]

Real Estate Scam? – you have been warned

I recently got this email: Hi there, I am interested in viewing one of your properties, could you please call me on my foreign mobile +882 135 502 99 to setup a time. As I am travelling at the moment I am unable to pickup emails regularly so please call. Kind regards, Liz Casey --------- Mobile: +882 135 502 99 Email: [email protected] ~~~~~~~~~~ I can tell you it was … [Read more...]

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Charles McDonaldBy Charles McDonald - Charles, and his firm, Charlottesville Solutions, are known locally and around the world for helping people relocate to the Charlottesville area. His background (running his own engineering firm for 20+ years in the Silicon Valley) has given him the skills to not only develop this site but also to manage a stellar group of agents!
Charles McDonald, REALTOR® and Principal Broker, is Licensed to sell Real Estate in Virginia. 434-515-1585
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