Category Archives: Tips and Advice

Where do you need help in Real Estate Sales & Service?

   I enjoyed a Realtor coaching call today. We all need guidance in our lives when expecting to perform at a high level. It’s the same for athletes, musicians, or businesses – success doesn’t come without practice and rehearsal – why should buying or selling a home be any different?

   First, decide to get help. Find a Realtor with whom you want to engage. There is a personality out there that will work better for you than others. The more you understand this, the better outcome you’re going to have, and the entire experience will leave you feeling like you got exactly what you needed.

   Secondly, set the stage. Your Realtor will work best for you when you are able to communicate what you’re looking for without reservation. Don’t hold back; be honest about what you’re seeking. Like any good business relationship, leave nothing to chance. Develop a concluding scenario that meets your needs. Share it with your Realtor and grow into it together. A good agent will feed off your positive energy and get you where you want to be.

   Look for the opportunity within every interaction; each difficulty is a chance to improve. This may be especially true for buyers facing low inventory and stiff competition, or sellers who perceive excess value when their house isn’t selling in a hot market. Build on the previous experience and let your trusted Realtor be the voice that effectively guides you through the process.

   Finally, turn your needs into meaningful results by using a Realtor who is uniquely educated and trained to get you the outcome you desire. If fear comes from not knowing about something, then find the Realtor who provides you with the answers you require to be successful. Turn that fear into trust.

Let us be the coach and advisor for your next real estate transaction.

Special Item of Value: i-Buyers

     If you’re thinking about selling your home, you might be considering an iBuyer—companies that provide nearly instant purchase offers on homes. iBuyers bring the certainty of a specific sale date and relieve you of making home improvements or opening your house to buyers. But when it comes to selling your home—often the largest investment most people ever make, is the convenience worth the cost?

   As with most financial decisions, it’s best to evaluate your options before selecting the path forward. That’s why I wanted to share with you a few things to remember when selling your home—no matter if it’s to an iBuyer or via the traditional sales process. Know your home’s worth.

   iBuyers present an offer on your home based on an algorithm, but that might not consider more-difficult-to-measure features, such as the amount of natural sunlight or your views. Working with a professional like me, we can evaluate your property against current homes for sale, noting your house’s specific amenities, to get a more accurate market value.

   Once you understand your home’s true worth, you can fairly assess the iBuyer offer. Consider your upfront costs. Recent research by Collateral Analytics compared the fees associated with iBuyers and traditional real estate sales. They found the total cost of working with an iBuyer comes to 13-15% of the sales price, compared to 5-7% for a traditional sale.

   Determine your goals. Do you need a quick transaction? Want a specific closing date? Or simply to maximize your profits? Once you establish your goals, I can help you achieve them. Depending on market conditions, a speedy sale could be secured on the open market or an iBuyer might be the better route.

   With my insights and support, we’ll put you on the path to success. If you’re ready to sell your home, let me know. I’m here to help you fully assess all your options and share with you my real estate expertise and local market knowledge.

Call me for a consultation!

Gary Scott’s Friday Focus to Long & Foster

Podcast with Dave Sanderson

Good Morning and Happy Friday! It is hard to believe we are already in April. I hope everyone enjoyed last week’s edition of Friday Focus. Congratulations to Villanova and Jay Wright. If you watched the game, pre-game or post-game, the word “culture” was used often to describe the key to success of the Villanova basketball team. Great teams win championships, not necessarily the great players.

Today, I want to share with you that this past Monday I participated in my first podcast with Dave Sanderson. Most of you have seen Dave speak, and I referred to his book, Moments Matter, in my Friday Focus email a few weeks ago. Dave was the last person off the plane that Capt. Sully miraculously landed safely in the Hudson. We all experience either personal and professional “breakthroughs” or defining moments. Dave also suggests that we all experience our personal and professional “plane crashes.” The breakthroughs and personal plane crashes ultimately define who we are, who we become and how we impact the lives of those we lead. In preparation for the hour-long podcast, Dave sent me a questionnaire that really triggered reflection. I thought I would share some of the questions with you to review and think about your answers.

  1. What is most important to you in your life?
  2. Was there a moment in your life that you didn’t pay attention that cost you something?
  3. As a leader in your profession, what single trait do you think helped you get to where you are today?
  4. Can you identify a “breakthrough” that helped define who you are today?
  5. Do you have any mentors in your life that impacted your life and leadership success today?
  6. What is one piece of advice you would give to a college senior that would benefit them the most as they enter the next chapter of their life?

I hope these questions stimulate your thoughts and reflection. Thank you for all you do, and how well you do it. The first quarter of 2018 is in the record books.

Have a great weekend, and make today count!

Exclusive Affiliate

Seven Tips to Ensure a Smooth Real Estate Closing

From the Long & Foster News Room – We offer excellent content!

By Michelle D. Formica, Manager, Marketing Services, The Long & Foster Companies.

 Article Direct Link:

Mar 201829

Seven Tips to Ensure a Smooth Real Estate Closing

By Michelle D. Formica, Manager, Marketing Services, The Long & Foster Companies.

Did you find the perfect home and now you’re ready to make an offer? Plan and prepare for the home buying process, so you can walk into your closing with confidence. Avoid a closing delay, or even worse an issue that causes your transaction to fall through. Here are some dos and don’ts from a few experts to ensure a smooth real estate closing.

Take care of the financial process upfront. If you are a serious buyer, it is important to get preapproved for a mortgage loan before shopping around. A preapproval will help determine your qualification and price point. The Prosperity Buyer Advantage is even better than a standard preapproval and will help expedite the financial process at closing, suggests Ron Wivagg, national sales support manager of Prosperity Home Mortgage, LLC. This complimentary pre-approval provides you with a commitment letter in hand.

Lock in your interest rate. When you get preapproved for a mortgage loan, ask your lender if they can lock in the interest rate. Otherwise, there is a possibility your interest rate will rise, while you’re shopping for a home, and you will no longer qualify for the mortgage loan. The Prosperity Buyer Advantage Lock, Shop & Home program will lock in your interest rate for up to 90 days, explains Wivagg.

Schedule a home inspection. According to US Inspect, a partner of Long & Foster’s Home Service Connections, a home inspection empowers the buyer to know the home’s condition and gives them exactly what they need to address potential issues with the seller. “Don’t wait until last minute to schedule your home inspection because otherwise it could delay the closing,” recommends Mark Munsch, marketing manager of US Inspect.

Be prepared to wire your funds. Most settlement companies now require their clients to wire funds for the security of everyone involved in the transaction, explains Julie McConnell, vice president of marketing for Long & Foster Settlement Services. When working with a title company, be sure to confirm the wire instructions over the phone before wiring any funds. This is an important precaution to take to avoid wire fraud.

Ask questions and discuss details ahead of time. Don’t wait until closing day to ask questions, recommends McConnell. Be sure to provide the settlement company with important details, including how you want to hold title (for example: tenants by the entirety, joint tenants, tenants in common) , so they can prepare the deed. Be certain to talk to your settlement company about protecting your property rights by purchasing owner’s title insurance. You can learn more about protecting yourself and your home here.

Don’t make big purchases before closing. Even if you’re preapproved, your lender will check to make sure no recent hits have been made to your credit. You want to avoid purchasing and financing a car, jewelry or any other big item, suggests Wivagg. This could disqualify you for the mortgage loan, causing your transaction to fall through.

Review the Closing Disclosure timely and carefully. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, your lender is required to give you the Closing Disclosure at least three business days before your scheduled closing date. Be on the lookout, so you can review the Closing Disclosure prior to settlement – this will allow time to resolve any issues before closing, suggests McConnell.

Buying a home is such an exciting life event. Follow these important dos and don’ts to avoid delaying your closing. If you’re considering buying a home and don’t know where to start, contact your local real estate agent – they can walk you through the entire home buying process from contract to close.


Which Remodeling Projects produce the greatest return on investment?

This posted on the LNF website today; for the complete article click this link:

Highlights include:

The annual study looks at average costs popular remodeling projects across the country. Here are the top five midrange and upscale improvements you could get money back on if you sell within a year:


  • Manufactured Stone Veneer. Cost: $8,221; recouped: 98.3 percent
  • Wood Deck Addition. Cost: $10,950; recouped: 82.8 percent
  • Minor Kitchen Remodel. Cost: $21,198; recouped: 81.1 percent
  • Siding Replacement. Cost: $15,072; recouped: 76.7 percent
  • Universal Design Bathroom. Cost: $16,393; recouped: 70.6 percent


  • Garage Door Replacement. Cost: $3,370; recouped: 98.3 percent
  • Window Replacement (Vinyl). Cost: $15,955; recouped: 74.3 percent
  • Window Replacement (Wood). Cost: $19,391; recouped: 69.5 percent
  • Grand Entrance (Fiberglass). Cost: $8,591; recouped: 67.6 percent
  • Bathroom Remodel. Cost: $61,662; recouped: 56.2 percent

Advice from Long & Foster to Help you Sell

Decluttering and Storage Help Sell Your Home

Jan 201830

Decluttering and Storage Help Sell Your Home

All the experts agree – clear the clutter out of your home before listing it for sale. The reason is simple – there’s a greater chance that a decluttered house will sell faster and possibly for a higher price than one that is cluttered. Decluttering makes the house look bigger and by packing away at least some of your personal belongings, it’s easier for buyers to imagine themselves living in your home. To maximize the benefit of decluttering, it’s a good idea to clear your home of at least 30 percent of its contents, allowing your home to look its best and help it to stand out from the competition.

To declutter, first start with your in-house storage areas. The basement, garage, closets and even guest bedrooms are commonly used for excess storage. It’s important to empty these spaces as much as possible. Buyers love storage space and it’s more appealing to see empty closets than full ones.

Next, minimize the amount of furniture in each room. Again, it’s important to show as much space as possible so extra chairs, tables and other large items should be removed during the sales process.

The last stage of decluttering involves your personal effects—items such as pictures, books, collectibles and toys that you can live without until your home sells. Boxing up these items and storing them out of the house helps to present a version of your home free of your personal taste. Buyers and their agents can then focus on your house without any distraction from your personal possessions.

Realtors and home stagers often recommend that sellers rent storage units to place excess items while selling their home. We talked with a few of Long & Foster’s Home Service Connections storage partners about their advice on getting ready to sell your home.

 Portable Storage

Zippy Shell’s portable storage containers are a great way to declutter your home. Zippy Shell containers can be parked in your driveway or on the street in front of your house. You have the option of loading the container yourself or the company can load it for you. After it’s filled, the portable unit can then be stored in Zippy Shell’s climate-controlled facility where it’ll remain locked and accessible only to you while in storage. When you’re ready to have it returned, Zippy Shell can deliver the container to your new home, anywhere in the country. “Packing is the hardest part, so it’s best to start early and do a little bit every night,” said Bill Shannon, owner of Zippy Shell of Northern Virginia.

 Conquering the Clutter

It’s a good idea to be open to your Realtor’s decluttering suggestions, said Piet Gauchat, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Olympia Moving and Storage. Olympia works with many Realtors and the firm even has a “Declutter Program” designed for home sellers. Through that program, Olympia’s crew will move out the clutter and store it for free for up to three months, according to Gauchat.

 Storage in the Cloud

Storage Genie takes a digital inventory of your belongings at no charge before moving them to storage. Then, when you need specific things like your holiday decorations, just log into your account and order the items you want delivered to you. “It’s almost like your items go into the cloud,” said Chris Patton, CEO of Victory Van Corporation/Allied Van Lines. Patton points out that this type of storage is so much more convenient than placing your belongings in a self-storage facility. “Often your tax returns or vacuum cleaner are in the back of the unit when you need them,” said Patton. “Storage Genie takes the ‘self’ out of self-storage.”

Once you’ve chosen a storage solution that’s right for you, decluttering your home will not only help your home show well, but also will give you a head start on packing for your move.

February Home Maintenance Checklist from Long & Foster

By Suzanne Whitenight Pilcher, Marketing Coordinator, Long & Foster Companies.

Feb 201801

February Home Maintenance Checklist

By Suzanne Whitenight Pilcher, Marketing Coordinator, Long & Foster Companies.

It’s February – winter’s not over yet, but spring is right around the corner. If you have cabin fever from being inside, cleaning and freshening up your house can help you get through this last month of winter and be ready to get outside when spring arrives.

Once you check these items off your to-do list, you’ll be able to relax by the fire with a good book and enjoy the last few weeks of winter.

  • Mop entryway floors. Clean your floors regularly to prevent damage from road salt and melting snow. Place a basket of old towels near the door to wipe up water and salt as soon as it is tracked inside.
  • Rotate or flip your mattress. Extend the life and comfort of your mattress by flipping or rotating it. At the same time, vacuum box springs and the mattress to eliminate allergy causing dust- mites.
  • Organize your laundry room. Scrape dried-on laundry detergent from the ridges in your washer. Throw away laundry products you never use and replace damaged sorting bins.
  • Clean out your spice cabinet. Throw away expired spices and other seasonings, which may not only lose their taste, but could harbor mold and bacteria.
  • Sanitize hand-held devices. Prevent germs that cause the spread of colds and the flu by disinfecting your phone, remote controls, tablets, as well as your door and cabinet knobs.
  • Dust blinds, ceiling fans and fixtures. Wipe down or use a feather duster to remove the dirt that builds up on blinds, ceiling fans, light fixtures other small electronics.
  • Add color to your table. Treat yourself to some fresh flowers to add cheer to your kitchen table while waiting for spring blooms to make their first appearance.
  • Plan your summer vacation. Reserve your vacation home now to get the best selection of available properties. Start your planning today at Long & Foster’s Vacation Rentals website.

What Not to Do When Putting Your Home on the Market


Most seasoned real estate agents have seen it all when showing homes to potential buyers: sinks full of dishes, worn-out carpets and all manner of creative paint schemes.

If you’re getting your home ready to go on the market, your agent will probably give you a list of things to do before buyers start coming through the door. But what are some of the things you should NOT do? We asked three Long & Foster agents to share their tips.

FOR the complete story click or paste the following Long & Foster Link:

Why should anyone have “Buyer Representation” in a real estate transaction?

It wasn’t long ago when state and local associations, and consumer advocates, began examining “buyer agency” in real estate transactions; this lead to adopted legislation which now mandates the disclosure of agency representation to consumers by licensed real estate professionals. The term “agency” is used in real estate to help determine what legal responsibilities your real estate professional owes to you and other parties in a transaction. Buyer Representation, AKA “the buyer’s agent”, allows for purchasers to have their interests represented throughout the course of a home search, and the eventual purchase of a property. We are no longer subject to a system in which agency representation only supports the Seller. Increased demand from consumers, and years of experience from Realtors, has enabled purchasers to enjoy a professional advocate who only works for them and their interests. Why wouldn’t you choose to have this type of assistance when purchasing your next home?

Just a few of the benefits you’ll receive include expert guidance, objective information and opinions, expanded search power, negotiation knowledge, transactional expertise, career experience, and your anchor during emotional moments. Not to mention that your understanding and satisfaction with a real estate transaction increases when you have your own representation. In most instances it costs you as the buyer very little to have representation, and will very likely save you money and anxiety along the way.

Talk to a buyer’s agent about assisting you with your next real estate transaction, and find out in detail the benefits of receiving the personal representation that years of experience has made available to you. The conversation is free; the knowledge you’ll gain from it is priceless!

Architecture and Real Estate – a blend that works for our Clients

Ideas we develop for our clients needs










Ann and I consider our professional experience in design, construction, and architecture to be a seamless benefit to the clients we help to buy and sell real estate – Real Property.

Many people don’t initially grasp the subtle advantages they receive when working with us, or how our design and architectural expertise within the Richmond real estate business separates us from our competition.

We’ve been involved with residential construction and design since 1986, a licensed Architect since 1995, a licensed Realtor since 2002, and we are both Associate Brokers; these complementary and overlapping disciplines have created for us a unique and specialized knowledge in our field. We share these assets with the people we work. Together with our client-centered approach to business, we deliver the “Service You Deserve & Expect” in your real estate transaction.

We like to ask the question, “What makes a house a home?” The answer is likely to be different for everyone. We help you to explore this subject, as well as the multitude of other considerations we face in real estate sales and service. This is true on both sides of the transaction, weather buying a home or selling a house. It’s important to understand “objections”; we have the ability for one to overcome them by turning them into “opportunities”.

It’s one thing to talk to a knowledgeable sales person about “possibilities” that may exist at a property; it’s quite another experience to discuss practical and achievable solutions, which meet your particular needs, with a qualified and licensed design professional.

A home is more than just a structure, no matter what the style. The essence of architecture is what makes a house so personal. There is a certain feeling that good design embodies – it’s the fundamental ingredient in what makes a house a home – the perceptible difference that you may wish to consider during your next real estate transaction!