Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What are the perfect Accessories?

Are you getting ready to sell your home and wondering what the professionals use to stage homes for sale? There are lots of shows on cable tv that provide a multitude of tips. Local newspapers and home magazine articles regularly feature staging tips as well.

A recent issue of Realtor magazine outlines the favorite staging items from a survey geared toward realtors. What are the favorite picks?

Area rugs to set the stage for accessories geared to a particular theme.

Sheer curtains on tension rods to dress the windows yet still allow light in.

Side tables to hold accessories, trunks are acceptable!

Timers for lights to turn on during showing hours and shut off at the end of the day. This way the home is lit for the buyers that come through and one doesn't have to physically be present to turn them off.

Fabulous Fabric to use for artwork and headboards and pillows to complement the style of the home being sold.

Fresh flowers, mirrors and candy are always a way to add color, fun and ambience.

A friend of mine who has the Professional Stager Designation, would probably add in artifiical greens, music and several quality pieces of artwork.

The goal is to create a welcoming "ambiance" to the potential buyers that preview your property for sale. Notice I did not call it a "home". Once your property goes on the market it is a saleable commodity, not a home. Remove as many personal objects as possible so as not to distract the potential buyers from noticing the features of the property for sale.

If you'd like to sell your home and/or purchase a home and want to make the most of the experience call me today:) Your transaction will be treated as if it were my own!


Carla Brooks

PS all photos are courtesy of

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Quartz or Granite?

While in the process of listing a beautiful home for sale in 22182 (Vienna) on Friday,

I happened to notice that there is no opportunity to distinguish between quartz and granite in the MRIS MLS system. The only choice given is a box labeled Granite. My clients recently finished their kitchen

and bathrooms off with quartz countertops

so I wanted to be sure to call attention to this detail. I was disappointed to see that MRIS MLS does not distinguish between the two types of materials.

I came upon an article on the web detailing the differences between quartz and granite. I thought I'd share the main points of this article with you. Some of you may be unaware of the differences between the two materials and some of you may be thinking of a kitchen or bath redo.

Quartz, apparently is man made. It is not as porous as granite and therefore doesn't stain as easily as granite and doesn't require the maintenance of granite. Both Quartz and granite run about the same per square foot in price.

The "green" element is what makes Quartz stand out however. Quartz does not emit small amounts of radon, granite does. Therefore, Quartz is the way to go for those into the "green" movement.

There are many choices for countertops available to consumers. Remember when ceramic tiled countertops were the "thing"?

Until we found out how much maintenance the grout was!

Whatever materials we choose, most of us have realized that its good to choose something as "timeless" as possible for future resale.

Good luck with your future projects....

If you'd like to buy or sell a home and want to make the most of the experience call me today, Your transaction will be treated as if it were my own....


Carla Brooks

PS every photo (except the first house photo) used in this post was a courtesy of

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Should the Mortgage Interest Deduction Remain Intact?

The mortgage Interest Deduction for Federal Income Tax purposes has been the subject of concern for some time now as there are members of Congress that intend to try and repeal this favorite tax deduction for homeowners on Schedule A of the 1040.

Some of you might be wondering what this deduction is and how it got started. The deduction for Federal Income Tax Purposes started in 1913. Surprisingly, it was not started to be an entry way into middle class home ownership. It was started to simplify the record keeping for a nation of small time entrepreneurs. It was often a difficult thing to separate business expenses from personal expenses for the multitudes of homeowners that ran their business in their homes.

Initially, the deduction was used quite rarely since most people paid cash for their homes and did not carry a mortgage. Of course, that is hard to imagine today for those of us "baby boomers" and post "baby boomers".

According to Wikpedia "Under 26 U.S.C. § 163(h) of the Internal Revenue Code, the United States allows a home mortgage interest deduction, with several limitations. First, the taxpayer must elect to itemize deductions, and the total itemized deductions must exceed the standard deduction (otherwise, itemization would not reduce tax). Second, the deduction is limited to interest on debts secured by a principal residence or a second home. Third, interest is deductible on only the first $1 million of debt used for acquiring, constructing, or substantially improving the residence, or the first $100,000 of home equity debt regardless of the purpose or use of the loan."

The National Association of Realtors is heavily lobbying for the continuation of the MID which they claim is necessary for the national economic recovery as housing drives the national economy. (My earlier post on real estate notes that housing used to be 20% of GDP and is now 2.4% per Lisa Sturtevant, an Assistant research professor from George Mason University Ecomonics department.)

Ed Glaeser, a noted Harvard professor of Economics, contends that the MID is part of the "hidden welfare state", subsidizing wealthier individuals and corporations and driving people from urban areas. Ironically enough, he also asserts that in his research with another professor, that homeowners are "more engaged" citizens than renters.

No matter which side of the fence you are on, the stakes are high.

The National Association of Realtors predicts that housing prices will fall an immediate 15% if this deduction is eliminated. The average income tax bill will rise substantially for those homeowners with sizeable mortgages.

Some say a compromise on the issue would be to limit the size of the deduction to a certain amount (say $7,000-15,000) so the less affluent could keep their deduction and the affluent could still receive some tax incentive to be homeowners. This compromise is based on the assertion that the revenue brought in by this tax change would substantially aid in reducing the federal

What this assertion doesn't measure is the toll on the economy that will result with reduced disposable income per household.

We must carefully weigh all the pros and cons of this proposed change in the tax law if it makes it to the forefront of proposed legislation by Congress.

If you would like to make your real estate dream come true-- call me today, I treat every transaction as if it were my own.

Carla Brooks

PS All photos are courtesy of http://

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Happy Mothers Day!

The signs of spring are everywhere:

Planters are filled with fresh annuals:

Culinary basil can now survive outside:

Garden herbs have come back to life:

The Azaelas are doing their thing:

Favorite hostas are now in full bloom...and not yet ravaged by the deer!

So many shades of green....

Happy Mothers Day!

Carla Brooks

If you would like to buy or sell a home and want to make the most of the experience call me today, I am here to earn your trust and I treat every transaction as if it were my own!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Is it all in the name?

The Proposed names of the four Silver Line Metro stations at Tysons Corner have been selected and are ready for approval by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Board of Directors:

First station at Dolley Madison and Andersen Road: Tysons-Mclean

Second Station at the malls : Tysons I & II

Third Station--Gosnell and Route 7: Tysons Central

Fourth Station-Route 7 and Spring Hill Road : Tysons West

According to some local newspapers, the proposed metro station names have drawn substantial criticism from local residents and politicians for many reasons. Some residents are upset that the names do not adequately correlate to the actual location of the stops and/or that the names are set up to confuse out of towners. Others claim that the names are merely a starting point and that they will develop their own identities over time.

In any event, there must be some residents that are happy with the names as they are. After all, approval was given for them to move on to the Transit Authority's vote.

How do you like the names?

Carla Brooks

PS. If you or someone you know would like to buy or sell a home call me today for assistance. I am here to earn your business and I treat every transaction as if it were my own.