Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Last Day of Summer – Monday 9/22/14

Welcome to Autumn!

Today is the Last Day of Summer 2014

Although School has been in session for several weeks, and in some cases longer, today is the official close to summer. In our business, real estate sales, it means there are fewer hours in the day to show property. While mild temperatures prevail through the fall in Virginia, enhancing our Autumn sales market, we have to be a bit more precise about getting out with buyers to look at property. Weekends become more important for this task, as we can visit homes during the daylight hours without respect to darkening skies encroaching on our work schedules. It’s an interesting balancing act between family time and house hunting time!

Shorter days, falling temperatures, and brisk nights invigorate the senses and create a feeling of excitement as we approach what most consider the “holiday season”.  It also invites home shoppers to take advantage of the late purchasing season, which happens to be one of the most successful times of the year when buying or selling a home in our area. While overall sales in August fell this year, we are beginning to see an increase in activity in September. The official numbers wont be out for a few more weeks, but we have already witnessed the uptick in activity. It is a great time of year to be out looking for your next home.

So, keep the lights on, put on an extra layer, and plan your “get out to look” activities; contact your Realtor for all the help and advice you need to take advantage of the fall market in real estate sales for Virginia!

The Autumnal Equinox (from The Farmer’s Almanac)

The word equinox comes from the Latin words for “equal night.” The fall and spring equinoxes are the only days of the year in which the Sun crosses the celestial equator. From here on out, the temperatures begin to drop and the days start to get shorter than the nights; in other words the hours of daylight decline as we move toward ward winter, on December 21st.

Question: Why aren’t there exactly 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness on the fall equinox?

Answer: On the equinoxes, the very center of the Sun sets just 12 hours after it rises. But the day begins when the upper edge of the Sun reaches the horizon (which happens a bit before the center rises), and it doesn’t end until the entire Sun has set. Not only that, but the Sun is actually visible when it is below the horizon, as Earth’s atmosphere refracts the Sun’s rays and bends them in an arc over the horizon. According to our former astronomer, George Greenstein, “If the Sun were to shrink to a star-like point and we lived in a world without air, the spring and fall equinoxes would truly have ‘equal nights.'”

For more information, the following link may be helpful: 

What are Essential Tools for the Home?

Re-posted from: RTD Ask the Expert article 5/8/13

Richmond Times Dispatch Article - What are Essential Tools for the Home?

     Experienced Homeowners may assemble a “tool box” by adding drivers and wrenches over time. This usually happens when something is needed for a project around the home. Several years and a few adventures later, before you know it, the origins of a workshop have evolved. New homeowners, on the other hand, may sometimes need a place to start.

If you have recently purchased a home, or if you are looking for a great first-time homeowner gift, there are some fairly good utility tool kits available from your favorite hardware store. They usually include all the essentials for the little projects we inherit with every home. Beyond the basics, a quality drill, saw and a palm sander are a few items that will come in very handy. Our BLOG has a complete list of tool box essentials.

The price and quality-range for tools is significant – if you intend to do only a little home repair work yourself, spend only a little; if you plan to do more, spend more. Good quality tools will last a lifetime and will be worth the expense. If you know someone who is particular about their tools, a gift certificate works nicely too. But remember, I’ve known folks to lose the entire day looking at tools & equipment, deliberately wondering the isles of the hardware store – namely ME! Have a plan when you go shopping and stick to it.

We also know that not all home owners are created equally. Be realistic in the jobs you choose to tackle at home. Keep in mind that permits may be necessary. It’s always a good idea to check with a professional contractor and the local building authorities when considering which jobs to tackle. If it’s outside your comfort zone, then pay someone qualified to do it for you. I’m willing to bet your Realtor has a list of quality contractors and handymen you can use just for the asking.

Be safe, have fun and enjoy your tools!

Ann & John VanderSyde – Virginia Properties “Sales Team of the Year” (804) 287-4660

New Listing in Henrico County – Three Chopt Estates

An unexpected level of design and detail is what makes this home special! Colors & finishes throughout the home are neutral yet modern, and will provide the perfect backdrop for your lifestyle.  The kitchen is open, includes a breakfast peninsula, and is renovated with beautiful maple cabinets, all stainless steel appliances and quartz counters. Details include a total of 4 BR’s, 2.5 baths, a private Master Suite getaway on its own level, a sunroom/family room surrounded by an elevated wood deck, as well as dining and living rooms. All the bath rooms have been beautifully updated. The walk-out level includes a second family room with a charming corner fireplace adjacent to custom built-in shelves and cabinets, as well as a beautifully detailed, light filled, large, utility room with ceramic floors, with built-in work area and storage cabinets. Finally, an impeccably detailed, fully finished, 2.5 car detached garage / workshop awaits the serious auto-buff.


It’s the Time of Year to be Grateful

A Grateful Attitude Never Goes out of Style!

 “Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer.”

-Maya Angelou


     This time of year provide us with the opportunity to reflect and express gratitude to those who have impacted our lives. Your support as an advocate for our business has been vital to our success as a real estate professionals. We are truly grateful to have you in our lives.

      Being your trusted real estate professional is an honor and a privilege through which we hope to strengthen our relationship and take care of your home and community-related needs now and into the future. Please call on us any time we may be of assistance to you.

      Tips on planning a successful “holiday party” is intended to get you in the mood to celebrate with the ones you love; create your guest list, foster a festive holiday atmosphere and plan your menu. Don’t forget about music and party favors too. We hope this will inspire and benefit you at this special time of year.


Oh, by the way … if you know of someone who would appreciate the level of service we provide, please call us with their name and number.  We’ll be happy to follow up and take great care of them.


 Check it out:  One of our preferred Providers—Witte Home Solutions!    

    Bob and Rob Witte have developed a client-centered contracting business that has served Richmond for more than 35 years. They have performed numerous projects for us and our clients, with jobs ranging from modest repairs to full blown additions. They consistently come through for us by meeting or exceeding our expectations.

 If you are considering repairs, renovations or alterations in the coming months we hope you will consider giving the Wittes a call. We’d be happy to speak with you further about the successes we have had with them. 

   Rob Witte, Senior Vice President,,    (804) 467-2203


Spring and the Marketplace – What’s Different this Year?

   I’m looking at the Weekend Section of the newspaper. There is a lot of information about the latest market conditions, news beyond the bust, and interests in the “home” trending upward.  There is a resurgence of advertisement, upbeat statistics, and the pleasing optimism that aligns itself with improving real estate conditions. It is the blush of spring, where new homes for sale honestly reflects the time of year when fresh and new is sincere and hopeful. It is distinctly different than what we have been experiencing over the last several years, and it is notable.

None of this can happen without the eager participation of buyers and sellers! Open house dates are spinning with activity, full of sincere purchasers looking at the “home” as something more than just an investment. They are remembering that homeownership is about choosing a lifestyle, as well as a standard of living, that suits one’s particular needs. It is the notion that “location, price and condition” are more than simply buzz-words and market hype, and that people really want to live where it matters most to them.

The relevance of investors doesn’t adequately describe the true nature of their contribution to the marketplace. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that 27 percent of all real estate transactions in 2011 were for the purchase of an investment property, and that 11 percent of all real estate transactions last year were second home purchases. A significant portion of these transactions were paid for with cash, which further supports the idea that many buyers are investing in a lifestyle, and not just their bottom line.

There is no doubt a science to real estate, but it doesn’t overshadow the complementary feelings and emotions that go into buying and selling homes. People know this, and it is eminently apparent that we are currently enjoying a little more of the latter during this rather delightful time of year. This is of course the notable difference from recent past years in real estate. Let’s choose to keep looking forward; because after all that’s where the future is – for all of us!

John VanderSyde is an Associate Broker, REALTOR with Virginia Properties in Richmond, VA (804) 282-7300

So, what to do with difficult clients?

I have been in situations during my real estate career where it has been necessary not to begin a working relationship with someone, or to terminate it early in the process. More easily said than done I fear; we are not so flush with clients that this is a comfortable decision to make, but I absolutely believe there are times when it’s NOT appropriate or agreeable to work with certain people. Furthermore, I firmly believe that “mutual respect” is essential to any relationship. Without it, we are destined for failure.

My most recent experience in deciding not to continue working with a client made me pause to consider, “what went wrong?”  I am fairly patient and believe that I am capable of working with most people. Therefore, I am deeply concerned when my business encounters don’t work through to fruition. Like many business owners, there have been numerous developments during my career that I would consider difficult or even painful to endure. Yet, somehow we always manage to persevere and get through to the other side, reach the finish line, make it to settlement, and yes, to ultimately get paid. What was different this time?

I can endure a lot of things in the pursuit of finding the best home on the market for my client. After all, it’s the reason why we put our client’s needs first. In fact, our business model is designed to ensure our client’s utmost satisfaction, and we go a long way toward making sure this happens. Nevertheless, there are times in a relationship that makes one question their worth or value to another person. These instances of uncertainty are not always apparent at first, and may take time to become noticeable. Once it becomes clear that a trust has been breached and that the advocate is being made out to be the adversary, we’ve got problems. If conversation and client-education are not working, the time has come to reevaluate the relationship and perhaps make some difficult decisions.

I strongly feel that I am worth what I bring to my relationships, and I honestly believe the people who I give of myself to be deserving of these efforts. It is not always reciprocal but it is usually manageable. When trust is in question, and reason, understanding and consequence are dissolved, the likelihood there will not be a successful outcome can become painfully obvious. As it turns out, in this instance it’s was better to go our separate ways under poor circumstances than to resolve to be tormented while hoping for a most unlikely outcome.

I am not pleased in having to part-company with someone I know I could help. I do not like dissolving a relationship I have heavily invested with my time and resources. This particular encounter was simply untenable and not worthy of my hard work. As a result I needed to begin using that valuable time and energy to look for the next client deserving of my efforts, of my time, and of my many great qualities. Most of all, I look for the opportunity to respectfully work with someone and to have them willing to return these efforts in kind. After all, the lesson here for me is, at a minimum, we are all worth that!

John & Ann VanderSyde, Assoc. Brokers, Virginia Properties/Long & Foster, Richmond, VA 23226

Revised 12/29/11

The Garage is Often Overlooked and Under Designed



Unless someone is an automobile enthusiast the garage in residential construction doesn’t get the attention it deserves. By today’s automobile standards the car barn is too small; the inside space, the doors as well as the area required to access it are just a few of the considerations that are often overlooked or under-considered by the common builder, and I believe most often done in an effort to cut costs.  We also stretch and pull our homes in so many directions further infringing on auto space without any compensation or adjustments. We as consumers should be asking the question, why does the garage suffer so much and what can be done about it?

For one thing, our cars are so wide today that an eight foot garage door is barely enough to squeeze the average car through it. Even some moderately sized and compact cars have trouble making the fit without losing a mirror once in a while. A nine foot wide door should perhaps be the industry standard. Not only will this give us the space we need to get in and out of the house, but will in turn provide the needed space to circulate properly around the vehicle. We will also be able to get in and out of one car without bumping doors into the adjacent auto while inside this space.

We get into more trouble with rear and side-load carriage sheds because the driveway isn’t wide enough to properly make the turn. As a result, we end up making three-point turns to go inside, or worse scrape the garage door track because we turn prior to clearing the opening. Both the car and garage are now in need of repair. This situation is compounded by the aforementioned skinny garage door. Even a full double wide sixteen foot door doesn’t provide the space we need if another vehicle is already parked.

If you have a truck or SUV the standard seven foot tall door height may give you fits too. Add a cargo or recreational roof rack to that and forget accessing your car refuge. Fortunately doors come in eight and nine foot heights, but good luck finding one of these in any builder’s list of standard features. You will most assuredly pay extra for this bonus, but it may well be worth the cost.

I can tell you many architects and designers don’t like garages at all. They feel it either detracts from the home or simply does not belong where people live, and if we must have one it should be separated from the home completely. Nevertheless, architect or builder, if you are going to provide a garage then properly plan for it; don’t take the short cut because we need to save on the budget. If it is not in the budget take it off the wish list and make more modest improvements in other areas of the home. It can always be added later.

The cost of these larger spaces as well as the engineering required to structurally support the seemingly excessive span of these rooms seems unnecessary, especially when we consider that it’s not even living space. As a result, we continue to cut back on the dimensions until it is impractical to park a car inside, much less get out of the vehicle once we’ve stopped.

If the client or perhaps the neighborhood standard dictates a garage we should insist it be large enough to accommodate the intended purpose. Plan on a suitable depth and width to house the largest of automobiles and you will err on the side of greater satisfaction to the end user. A properly designed garage will also add value upon resale of the property.

Some rules of thumb:

  1. Allow a minimum of two feet around the sides of each vehicle. This space should not overlap the bay of the adjacent vehicle. The width of each bay should be approximately twelve feet.
  2. Allow a minimum of two feet behind the vehicle, just in case access around the rear of the car is needed while the garage door is shut.
  3. Allow a minimum of two-and-a-half feet in the front of the car for all the obvious reasons.
  4. Do not allow storage areas, bins, shelving or work benches to encroach into these minimums; your satisfaction will be elevated and frustration eliminated.
  5. Increase the width of the garage door to nine feet, and consider a height of eight feet.
  6. If you are a die-hard owner of compact cars you can disregard this advice, but keep the notion of resale to an SUV owner in the back of your mind.

Every situation is different and should always be evaluated by a professional prior to implementing a plan. These suggestions are generated from feedback we have received from clients in both real estate and in the practice of architecture. Please contact us if we may be of assistance to you or your garage.

Time to Sell or Simply Ad-on?

 Consider all your options first . . .

You may be contemplating whether it’s better to sell and “move up”, or simply add-on in order to upgrade your existing home. Circumstances can vary making this a difficult decision. In Richmond, Virginia, news reports indicate a relatively stable market compared to other parts of the country; nevertheless, property values have seen a decline resulting from the current economy.

Home owners often ask themselves if they should buy a new home or add on to the one they own. This question comes up in all markets, so I know it’s not just a sign of the times. Motivation can come from many things, but there are a few critical questions one can ask before moving forward.

Richmond is blessed with a wealth of excellent neighborhoods, providing a variety of life styles from which to choose. So, the first question to ask is “can I duplicate what I love most about my neighborhood living somewhere else?” This consideration may make the decision easy if you are attached to your home, or if are driven to move for specific needs.

Next, “what will it take to make my current house meet or exceed what I can find in another location?” Why else would we consider moving? This may be influenced by our finances, space considerations, schools, work, and undetermined gains vs. losses. It’s sometimes best to make a list in order to evaluate this question properly.

Finally, “am I willing to live through renovations and additions in order to get what I can purchase somewhere else?” Be realistic and honest about how this effects you as well as everyone living in the house. Give the greatest consideration to this question, as it has the greatest impact on family and relationships.

The rest will fall into place with the assistance of qualified professionals like contractors, designers, architects and Realtors®. The source depends on your decision, so choose wisely while consulting a trusted advisor.

For more insight, information and any questions on this and other important issues, please contact your most valued real estate professional, we are here to serve you! 

Sources:  John VanderSyde is an Associate Broker with Virginia Properties, A Long & Foster Company, and a Licensed Architect. He and his wife Ann are in business together in Richmond, Virginia.