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How to start building your home’s annual maintenance checklist

Wondering how to start building your home’s annual maintenance checklist? There are few experiences more exhilarating than getting the keys to your first-ever home in Northern Virginia. After all, it’s yours. With all that freedom, however, comes a great deal of new responsibility. After all, there’s no more landlord to call when the roof starts leaking, or the furnace stops working. That person is now you. For many first-time homebuyers, the first year of homeownership can be a tough learning experience as they adjust to this new reality.

However, it doesn’t have to be this way. With the right care and upkeep for your new home, you’ll prevent many breakdowns and repairs in the first place, and feel more in-control and in-the-know about your home. What you need is a plan.

Prioritize the essentials

No homeowner, no matter how seasoned or experienced, bats a thousand when it comes to home maintenance. That’s just not how life works. Whether you’re working extra hours to finish that quarterly assessment at work or you and your spouse have a baby on the way, there are going to be points where your home is a lower priority than everything else going on. At those times, it’s easy for much of your home upkeep to fall by the wayside. However, it’s crucial that you know the difference between what you can—and what you can’t—let slide.

First, there’s essential maintenance to consider. This includes inspections, tune-ups, and repairs for your home’s most important components: its roof, HVAC systems, plumbing, electrical systems, and structure. The silver lining here is that upkeep in these areas isn’t do-it-yourself friendly, anyway, so a professional will handle a majority of the actual work.

You also need to immediately deal with any urgent repairs. Your home’s walls can wait a few months to be painted. Your lawn can wait a few weekends to be cut. However, if you notice a leak or water pooling at the base of the system, your water heater cannot wait for repairs. By doing so, you could be flirting with a disastrous tank burst. As busy as things might be at the moment, you need to turn your focus to getting a plumbing professional out to inspect, and then repair or replace, your water heater

Think seasonally

It’s impossible to completely maintain your home in a single weekend, a single month, or even a single season. Your new home needs year-round attention and care. In fact, each season presents its own unique challenges and comes with its own projects. The fall, for instance, is all about getting ready for the winter snow and ice ahead. You’ll be cleaning out gutters and downspouts, winterizing your HVAC systems, and resealing your deck. Spring, in contrast, is all about warming weather and bringing your yard back to life. You’ll need to handle landscaping, roof repair, and repainting. And that’s just the outside of your home!

If you’re putting together your home’s first home maintenance checklist, start dividing out tasks by season. Some items—such as a roof inspection—might only need to happen once-per-year. Others, such as window cleaning, might be bi-annual tasks. When typing out this checklist, be sure to note any projects that will require the help of a professional. You’ll need to make sure you do your research on prospective contractors and schedule them in advance.

Set up a home maintenance budget

Now that you’ve got a good idea of what needs to get done this year, it’s time to start setting aside money for home maintenance and projects. There are two ways to approach this. The first, and simplest, is to use the time-honored savings method of saving 1% of your home’s market value annually. For a home worth $200,000, this means pulling $2,000 from your paychecks every year to cover that next year’s expenses.

However, since you now have a detailed checklist, you also have the option of pricing out and itemizing the cost of your home’s upkeep. This doesn’t need to be exact down to the penny, but if you know a roofing inspection costs about $100, you can plan ahead on setting that aside.

Neither of these savings models are perfect. Your home’s upkeep may cost more than what you’ve saved. We recommend you supplement this savings with additional deposits. Get a federal tax refund? Put a portion into this savings account. Bonus at work? Same thing. Eventually, this account will start to grow as it accrues more than you spend in an average year. The result is a robust “rainy day” fund you can use on big budget projects—like replacing an air conditioner or furnace.

You can do this!

For first-time homeowners, having to handle home maintenance is a major transition. Without a plan, it can feel like you’re constantly being surprised by breakdowns and problems. While a home maintenance checklist and budget can’t completely prevent emergencies from occurring, both can help you feel more in control of your home and be prepared for when urgent projects do arise.

To take the next step and plan out your seasonal home maintenance checklist, check out this infographic.

how to building your home’s annual maintenance checklist

To learn more about MMK Realty visit our About Us page. For more tips and information feel free to contact me and follow me on social media on Facebook @mmkrealtyllc, Twitter @MMKRealtyLLC, and Instagram @mmkrealty. Also check out our Free Market Analysis. Sign up today and we will email you a free custom assessment of the current value of your home performed by MMK’s Principal Broker, Michelle Williams.

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Sold! MMK Realty Earns Platinum Top Producer Award

Just in, MMK Realty earns Platinum Top Producer Award! As a real estate agent in Northern Virginia, I have been at this for many years. I have spent countless hours and many weekends working tirelessly to help my clients get their properties sold fast. Real estate is a tough industry and I take great pride in selling properties for my clients and helping them command top dollar for their listing. When I learned that I had earned a Platinum Top Producer Award from the Northern Virginia Association for Realtors (NVAR) all I could think about is how grateful I feel to have such amazing clients. While I am proud of my award, I am more ecstatic for all my wonderful sellers that were able to get their Northern Virginia property sold! Here is a highlight reel of recently sold properties at MMK Realty!

Sold $318,500.00: 16134 Taconic Circle Dumfries, Va., 22025

Located in Montclair Mews, this property featured a new roof, new hot water heater, and new sump pump.  This 4 level 3 bedroom 2.5 bath end unit townhome had been updated quite a bit before listing. The property features included an updated eat-in kitchen with stainless steel appliances, vaulted ceiling, crown molding, bay windows, Master bedroom with loft and access to attic for storage. The Master bath featured a shower and soaking tub. The kitchen came equipped with gas cooking and gas heat. Exterior features included a deck, fenced back yard and a multi-level patio backed to trees.

Sold $318,500.00: 16134 Taconic Circle Dumfries, Va., 22025

Sold $318,500.00: 16134 Taconic Circle Dumfries, Va., 22025

Sold $405,000.00 (ABOVE LIST PRICE): 2791 Centerboro Drive #372, Vienna Va., 22181

This beautiful condo at Marquis in Vienna Station featured 23K in new renovations and upgrades. Features included two Master Bedrooms with walk-in closets, gas heat, and cooking, washer & dryer in unit, 2 assigned spaces garage parking, balcony and more. Also included was beautiful new flooring, fresh painted, brand new stainless steel appliances and light fixtures. The sellers also installed a brand new hot water heater and hydronic fan-coil heating and a split system AC. This centrally located property is set in beautifully landscaped, park-like community enclave that included countless amenities.

Sold $405,000.00 (ABOVE LIST PRICE): 2791 Centerboro Drive #372, Vienna Va., 22181

Sold $405,000.00 (ABOVE LIST PRICE): 2791 Centerboro Drive #372, Vienna Va., 22181

Sold $489,000.00: 5931 High Meadow Road, Alexandria, Va., 22310

This fabulous 3 Bedroom, 3.5 Bath, 3 level Townhouse in Runnymeade offers a picturesque setting in the city and backs up to woods and a stream. This property featured a large Master dedroom w/sitting area, walk-in closet and private master bath suite. The kitchen included several upgrades such as granite countertops, cherry cabinets and gleaming hardwood floors. Other features included a cozy fireplace, finished walk out basement with large media room, den/home office, full bath and lots of storage, new carpet, new paint and new light fixtures. The exterior was also freshly painted and included a custom deck, patio, and alarm system.

Sold $489,000.00: 5931 High Meadow Road, Alexandria, Va., 22310

Sold $489,000.00: 5931 High Meadow Road, Alexandria, Va., 22310

Sold $800,000: 9385 Colbert Court, Fairfax, Va., 22032

This spectacular home in Olley Lane is on a quiet private lot and features welcoming two story foyer with private office, formal living and dining rooms. Highlights include a bright and sunny eat-in kitchen with recessed lighting and hardwood floors and large family room with fireplace. Outdoor features include a large back deck with hot tub plus additional entertaining space! The Bedroom level features a large master suite with walk in closet, soaking tub and separate vanities plus an additional bedroom with its own bat. Also included was a huge basement recreation room with more living space and full bath plus plenty of storage in the unfinished area of the basement along within the attached two car garage! Other features includes a new garage opener, security system, satellite dish and more.

Sold $800,000: 9385 Colbert Court, Fairfax, Va., 22032

Sold $800,000: 9385 Colbert Court, Fairfax, Va., 22032

Sold $560,000: 3307 Brush Drive, Falls Church, Va., 22042

This spacious all brick updated 3 bedroom 2 full bath raised rambler in Broyhill Park features main level bedrooms. This property features an extra-large 2-car, 2 level detached garage, fresh paint, and new railings. The main level features refinished hardwood floors, living room with bay window and wood-burning fireplace. Kitchen includes stainless steel appliances, custom tile floor, and counter-tops, brand new refrigerator, access to large flagstone patio and beautifully landscaped fenced yard. Other features include custom baths, a den, recreation room, exercise room, library, laundry/mudroom area, and utility room, new 6 panel doors, new exterior and interior light fixtures, recessed lights, sump pump with battery backup, HVAC maintained and serviced every six months, extra refrigerator, laundry sink, concrete driveway, extra shed and more.

Sold $560,000: 3307 Brush Drive, Falls Church, Va., 22042

Sold $560,000: 3307 Brush Drive, Falls Church, Va., 22042

To learn more about MMK Realty visit our About Us page. For more tips and information feel free to contact me and follow me on social media on Facebook @mmkrealtyllc, Twitter @MMKRealtyLLC, and Instagram @mmkrealty. Also check out our Free Market Analysis. Sign up today and we will email you a free custom assessment of the current value of your home performed by MMK’s Principal Broker, Michelle Williams.

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Updated! Top Fall Home Maintenance Tips for Northern Virginia Homeowners

Fall is just around the corner and fall home maintenance should be on every homeowners radar. I have been in the business a long time and time and time again I come across homeowners that need reminders about what they should be doing in the fall. So, I put together a list of the top fall home maintenance tips for Northern Virginia homeowners that should be on everyone’s to do list. With big changes in the Northern Virginia seasons, especially fall and spring, homeowners usually find themselves with a little extra work on the home maintenance side. While these tasks can feel cumbersome, they are critical in the overall maintenance of your home. And while it may be reasonable for some to pay for these services a lot of homeowners take on the tasks themselves. As I have mentioned in the past, in my family we try and make a day of it and find a way to have a little bit of fun in the process. We pick a calm weather day, set aside a few hours, and try and include some fun things like music and hot chocolate to make our responsibilities feel a little less like work and a little more like family time—and yes, we usually jump on our pile of leaves at least once! Besides, by taking on these jobs ourselves, we teach our children responsibility in the process and enjoy the sense of accomplishment we feel from a little honest hard work outside. And do not forget to dress in layers because you may alternate between feeling warm and chilly!

Here are Top Fall Home Maintenance Tips for Northern Virginia homeowners:

1. Get those leaves raked

The easiest way to deal with leaves is to do it when they are dry. It is also best to try and wait until the all the leaves have fallen or you will find yourself rather frustrated by the endless leaves. When it comes time to clean up the leaves, rake or blow leaves is into a pile shaped like a rectangle so they can be easily pushed onto a tarp or for transport or mulching. As you rake, make sure the pile of leaves is low to help reduce your exposure to dust, debris, bugs, and allergens from the fallen leaves—and besides, this method just makes them easier to handle in general.  Mulching your leaves is a great way to make use of natural resources, but may not be a reasonable option for all, in which case transporting them to a special site is usually necessary as many waste management agencies do not accept lawn trimmings and leaves. It can also be reasonable to call a service provider to come out and remove the leaves for you, which is often more affordable then hiring a contractor for the entire job. In this case, you may need to call around because prices vary greatly for this service and be sure to get the leaves as close to your driveway entrance as possible to keep the cost low.

2. Trim overgrown, loose and weak tree branches

If you keep up with your exterior trimming bi-yearly, usually this job is fairly easy, and even fun so long as you do not over do it! Trimming and pruning not only enhances the beauty of most any tree or shrub, while improper pruning can ruin or greatly reduce its landscape potential. For the most part you want a plant to grow naturally because however it is growing is due to the plants goal of finding the best use of light in its given location and climate. Before you begin trimming be sure to remove any dead, broken, diseased or problem limbs by cutting them at the point of origin or back to the nearest and strongest branch. Usually this alone cleans up the tree or shrub quite well however, if you still need to do a little trimming, fewer cuts is usually the best method and try to trim with the natural growth pattern for the best results. Finally as you trim and prune, be sure to take a step back a couple of times to see how things are shaping and to make sure you are not over-trimming.

3. Check for any exterior wood rot and patch holes to keep critters out

This is typically a homeowner’s least favorite responsibility but a very important one. It is very important to regularly inspect the exterior of your home looking for damaged or missing sections of siding, cracks in foundations, loose or crumbling brick and rotted wood especially before fall and winter because critters will exploit these problem areas and use these openings to burrow from the cold. In instances where you discover problems take care of them yourself when possible, but often these jobs do require the help of a professional contractor. To help save on costs, consider purchasing the materials yourself and asking around for referrals. Oftentimes someone in the neighborhood will know a reliable and affordable contractor. Otherwise, checking your local HOA classifieds or searching on Odd Jobs apps can yield some affordable results.

4. Inspect the Roof

Since you are already checking the exterior for wood rot, you would be well served to inspect the roof as well–especially if it has been awhile since you had the roof inspected. That last thing you want is soft weak spots in the roof because those areas can become a real problem in the winter. Roof leaks usually occur at the least optimal time–like during a rain or snow storm. Additionally, vulnerable spots on the roof are great avenues in for critters who are looking for refuge from the cold and a place to have their babies. Believe me, you do not want this to happen because getting rid of pests, especially if they have babies is very difficult!

5. Inspect HVAC systems BEFORE it gets cold

When it comes to your HVAC system, do not wait until it gets cold to have your system inspected because you do not want to be without heat if there is a problem. HVAC inspections are important and really do prevent you from having to pay for more expensive costs in the long run. Additionally, regular service also helps to increase your unit’s service life. It is also important to check and change your air filters regularly, usually every 3-4 months to prevent strain on the system and keep the air clean. Also, when you are taking care of your lawn maintenance, be sure to clean up the leaves around your exterior HVAC unit to keep it running safely and efficiently.

6. Clean the Gutters

The reason why it is so important to clean the gutters at least twice a year is because leaves can build up and clog the downspouts, which can cause water damage to your roof and fascia board, which leads to much bigger problems. Water pouring over the gutters or from leaks can end up next to your home’s foundation or in the basement or other crawlspaces. The easiest way to clean the gutters yourself is to use a hose-end attachment specially designed for gutters can make this project more manageable. However, you will have to use a ladder, making this task a bit risky. If you decide to do this yourself, stand firmly on a ladder, avoid standing on the top highest rungs and not reach past the side rail. It is helpful to wear a tool belt around your waist and use a bucket for collecting gutter debris and another for carrying tools. You can use wire hooks to attach the buckets to the ladder. And, if you have not installed gutter guards, now is the time to do so because they will save you a lot of work down the road.

For more tips and information feel free to contact me and follow me on social media on Facebook @mmkrealtyllc, Twitter @MMKRealtyLLC, and Instagram @mmkrealty.

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MMK Realty Making a Splash in Northern Virginia Real Estate

MMK Realty who we areMy daughter recently said to me, “Mom, you are making a splash in real estate!” Then, she showed me a collage she had put together representing who she thinks I am as a Realtor. I certainly had a “mom moment” as I felt my heart melt. I could not believe my daughter had put this together for me! She is so talented! I felt so proud to be her mom! But also, in looking at the collage she had made for me, I felt proud of myself too. Working in real estate day-to-day, sometimes we become so busy and wrapped up in our daily lives that we forget to stop and smell the roses! Well, my daughter helped me stop and smell the roses and with that, I decided to reflect upon all that I have done since opening MMK Realty in 2017.

Most recently, since the onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic, I started the McKendall Foundation to help provide funds for medical equipment, nursing care, uncovered medical fees, mental healthcare, and other associated support to the immune compromised suffering from Congenital Heart and Lung Disease. I named the foundation after my beautiful daughter who suffers from congenital heart and lung disease. Starting a foundation in her name is something I have always wanted to do. My goal for the foundation is to serve as a source of help for those who need extra support due to contracting the Coronavirus. It definitely has not been easy starting a foundation and I have learned a lot, but I am so happy to have gotten started!

top producer gold_mmk realty

Earlier this year, I was awarded a Top Producer Gold designation by the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors which is awarded to agents who close $3 million or 24 real estate transactions in one year. NVAR is a great local organization known for delivering exceptional value, driving innovation and impacting the real estate industry in meaningful ways.

michelle williams breast cancer survivor

In October 2019 I was part of story published in NOVA Real Producers Magazine to help raise awareness about cancer. Most people do not know this about me but about 6 months after opening MMK Realty I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. My doctors determined that I had a gene mutation and I decided to have a bilateral mastectomy. Through this, I mostly kept quiet because I did not want cancer to impact my career. I continued working as best as I could through my treatment and recovery. It was really hard and it has taken awhile to recover. The physical therapy and post-surgery pain was a lot to handle, but I have come out stronger on the other side and I am proud to be a survivor.

Additionally, a couple of years ago, as part of my journey, I obtained my Military Relocation Professional (MRP) Certification. Many that know me know that I am a Navy Commander’s daughter and think of myself of a “Boots on the Ground Broker.” I have a real passion for helping Active Duty Military members and Veterans achieve their real estate gSell Your Northern Virginia Home with MMK Realtyoals in ways that make sense for their lives—and help them take full benefit of the benefits they have earned through their military service.

Today, as I reflect upon my journey, I am thankful for all that life has blessed me with: Two beautiful daughters, a wonderful husband, my own Real Estate brokerage, and a brand new foundation in my daughter’s name. I could not be more grateful for this opportunity.

To learn more about MMK Realty visit our About Us page. For more tips and information feel free to contact me and follow me on social media on Facebook @mmkrealtyllc, Twitter @MMKRealtyLLC, and Instagram @mmkrealty. Also check out our Free Market Analysis. Sign up today and we will email you a free custom assessment of the current value of your home performed by MMK’s Principal Broker, Michelle Williams.

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6 Virtual Attractions to Enjoy in Northern Virginia Right Now

Are you looking for virtual attractions to enjoy in Northern Virginia right now? We are heading into August in Northern Virginia and that means hot weather. With continued uncertainty about COVID-19 and triple digit heat, you are probably going stir crazy looking for things to do. If you are not in the mood to tackle yet another DIY project and had enough home maintenance tasks to hold you over until fall, then consider enjoying a virtual attraction from the comfort of your living room. We know, it is not quite the same as visiting live but if you have exhausted Netflix and are done renting movies, give it a try! You may be surprised at what you find and impressed with how much you can learn—and how much fun you have together as a family (laughing because dad got you lost down the hall at the Air & Space Museum). And the best part, they are all free!

Mount Vernon

Mount Vernon has a pretty good online program going! They have setup virtual tours of the mansion, streaming events from the estate, and have a pretty robust YouTube channel filled with informational stories on topics like “Did George Washington Have Wooden Teeth?” The virtual tour allows users 360 degree views of the rooms as well as recorded video and audio passages through each phase of the tour.

National Air and Space Museum

National Air and Space Museum has pretty cool virtual tours. In collaboration with Google Arts and Culture, you can tour both the National Mall Building and the Udvar-Hazy Center. While there is not any audio, the 360 views are very high quality. Additionally, there are lots of online kid-friendly quizzes and games, cockpit panoramas, artifact stories, objects in 3D and much more.

Smithsonian Museum of Natural History

The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History did a really nice job with their virtual tour and a lot of people are saying it is one of the best virtual tours for kids out there. Their virtual tours really give nice close up 360-degree- views of exhibits. The Sant Ocean Hall in particular allows you to get really up close and personal with a blue whale in ways that you really cannot inside the museum. The tours also provide lots of photo icons inside each tour allowing you to click on and view information or zoom in on images.

Military Museums

Both the National Museum of the United States Army and the National Museum of the Marine Corps have setup virtual tours online. The National Museum of the United States Army’s physical opening was delayed but they have setup a featured exhibits section that lets your explore a number of new exhibits and get a good interactive look at the layout of the museum. Additionally, the National Museum of the Marine Corps features a virtual tour with guided audio that starts at the entrance to the Leatherneck Gallery and later has you face-to-face with the Making Marines Gallery and much more.

The White House

Touring the White House is one of those things that are really cool but can a bit hard to do because it requires planning and an application process. Now you can take a virtual tour, and truthfully, get a pretty good look at the White House. Another Google Arts & Culture collaboration, the White House tour features 360-degree panoramic views of the Eisenhower Building include the Oval Office, the State Floor décor, and the Ground Floor plus a portrait gallery and more!

National Aquarium in Baltimore

National Aquarium in Baltimore has put together a pretty decent virtual tour that can be fun for kids to explore. The 360-degree panoramic views take you deep into the aquarium allowing viewers to explore different exhibits. And each exhibits features interactive popups fun facts to explore and learn.

So, if you are looking for something fun for the family this weekend, explore the plethora of online virtual tours available spanning the iconic Washington D.C. metro area (and beyond)!

To learn more about MMK Realty visit our About Us page. For more tips and information feel free to contact me and follow me on social media on Facebook @mmkrealtyllc, Twitter @MMKRealtyLLC, and Instagram @mmkrealty. Also check out our Free Market Analysis. Sign up today and we will email you a free custom assessment of the current value of your home performed by MMK’s Principal Broker, Michelle Williams.

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The Listing Presentation: What to Expect from a NOVA REALTOR

Wondering what to expect from a listing presentation? If you are getting ready for a listing presentation, here is what what to expect from a Northern Virginia REALTOR. When it comes to hiring a Real Estate Agent to list your Northern Virginia home for sale, of course you want to work with the best! Additionally, you want to work with an agent that you get along with—someone who is on the same page. Whether it is your intention or not, when you begin interviewing Realtors to list your home for sale, you are generally looking for two things: their thoughts on the listing price of your home; and you want to get a pulse on their personality. Sure, you may be looking for other things, but generally that is the initial goal.

As a homeowner, it may be easy to overlook what an agent puts into that first appointment with you so let us take a look at what you can expect when an agent comes to your home for a listing presentation. To prepare for a presentation, generally, an agent will dedicate (at a minimum) approximately 5 hours upfront to meet with you, which includes: Listing preparation time, drive time, and the actual listing presentation time.

When a Real Estate agent arrives at your home, they have already researched your home and their goal is to give you an overview of current market conditions and projections to help give you a realistic picture of your home within the context of the current real estate market.

After an agent has done a walkthrough of your home, they will likely provide you with credentials about their agency, information about their brokerage, and provide examples of previously sold listings. The agent will also inquire about you current and unique situation to get a better understanding of how the agent can customize a selling plan for you.

About Listing Your Home For Sale

At this point, this agent will begin providing you with relevant information about your home including the custom market analysis including comparables, solds, current listings and expireds.

With this, they should offer you a custom and professional pricing strategy based on interpretation of current market conditions.

Then, the agent will need to discuss goals on how to market your home effectively. This part of the conversation should include details about photography and virtual tours and an explanation about the power and benefits of multiple listing service, web marketing, IDX, and REALTOR.com.

Additionally, the agent should describe the work the broker and agent do “behind the scenes” during your and also provide you with their availability on weekends. The agent should also explain what methods they use to screen qualified buyers to protect against “curiosity seekers.”

Through all of this, the agent should be clearly and kindly answering any and all questions you may have. They should also explain the different agency relationships and determine your preferences as a seller. Moreover, the agent should be providing with you real tips and details about what you can expect when listing your home for sale. Finally, after providing a master marketing plan, the agent should review all clauses in the listing contract and then will obtain your signature.

Once the listing contract is signed, there is much more work to be done to get your home sold quickly. Check out my page “Why You Need a Realtor” to get a better sense of how an agent earns their commission.

To learn more about MMK Realty visit our About Us page. For more tips and information feel free to contact me and follow me on social media on Facebook @mmkrealtyllc, Twitter @MMKRealtyLLC, and Instagram @mmkrealty. Also check out our Free Market Analysis. Sign up today and we will email you a free custom assessment of the current value of your home performed by MMK’s Principal Broker, Michelle Williams.

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Northern Virginia Summer Home Maintenance Guide

Looking for a Northern Virginia summer home maintenance guide? Summer is upon us here in Northern Virginia and that means it is time for us to get outside–and take care of our summer home maintenance. Currently, summer home maintenance is probably not at the forefront of your mind because we, as a community and nation are enduring turbulent times. It is June 2020 and we are still amid the Coronavirus Pandemic. Certainly the pandemic has altered our lives in very significant ways and most of us are just trying to navigate our day-to-day lives and make the best of a difficult situation. In all honesty, now is a good time to take care of your home because you probably have more time on your hands than you typically would otherwise. Now is a good time to take care of backlogged projects around the house, especially if you have plans to sell your home. If you are one of the many homeowners who put off selling due to COVID-19, do not waste this time! Take care of those exterior maintenance and repairs that you have put off. If you are not planning on selling, the same still applies because taking care of your home exterior will preserve the value of your home and it an important part of home ownership. So, what makes summer maintenance different than other seasonal maintenance needs? Well, it is not that different, but right now is the time to take care of your outdoor gathering spaces like the deck, porch area, and yard. Additionally, there are specific areas and appliances that need to be inspected and serviced—before it gets too hot. Below you will find the most important summer maintenance tips you should focus on—sooner rather than later.

Deck

The deck, especially this year is high on the priority list because you will likely be spending a lot of time around the house this summer. If you have a grill, now is a good time to clean and polish it.  Additionally, this is a good time to clean up the deck. Remove all debris and wash it down with the hose and deck cleaner. The important thing is to be gentle (power-washing is probably too harsh). If you have any wood rot or bad boards, now is the time to repair them. You will also want to clean off any outdoor furniture (which hopefully you covered during the winter) and tend to any plants on the deck. You want your deck to be welcoming and inviting, especially now because even with COVID-19 restrictions lifting your personal home outdoor living space is likely to be your most important family sanctuary this summer. If you have not already, consider stringing some outdoor lights to add ambiance to your gathering space.

Porch

If you have a porch area, then you know it can get fairly grimey through the winter and spring. Use a blower to remove buildup and then hose the porch down with the garden hose. Similar to the deck, tend to any furniture and plants to make sure they are tidy and clean. Additionally, if you have a covered porch, you are likely dealing with inspect buildup. Be sure clear away spider webs and any nests and then spray down the porch with a natural homemade bug spray to help keep pests a bay. Also consider installing an outdoor ceiling fan to help with insects. Alternatively, you can make use of citronella candles and inspect repelling plants to help keep the porch area comfortable. Finally, do not forget to either clean or put down a new doormat to help keep the dirt outside!

Yard

The good news about the yard is that you should have already done the major cleanup in the spring. At this point you may choose to put down some new mulch and trim away any unruly branches that have popped up. Now is also the time to inspect any sprinkler systems and check for leaks around the faucets. Of course it does without saying that you also need to keep your grass mowed and edges trimmed.

Windows

Yes, it is time to wash the windows, both inside and out. Like it or not, the windows take a beating and love to collect dirt and grime. To clean the interior windows, use a vinegar solution to keep streaks at bay and a sponge and squeegee to help the job go quickly. For exterior windows, you may find that commercial cleaning product that attaches to your hose is the easiest. You can also use a mop and water-dish detergent solution to clean the windows and then use the garden hose to rinse away the soap and debris.

HVAC

If you have not inspected your HVAC unit, now is the time to do so, and stat. We are heading right into the heart of summer and HVAC service is in high demand, meaning if you wait, you could face real problems if the unit goes out. Call your local technician and get the unit serviced—it will save you a lot of heartache and misery come July-August.

Wood Rot

With April showers come summer wood rot! It is important to stay on top of exterior wood rot because rotting wood invites critters like raccoons and squirrels who are looking for nesting spaces. Believe me, you do not want a mama raccoon to use your attic space to have her babies. If that happens, it is a very hard problem to deal with because not only do you have to repair the wood rot area, you have to get rid of the raccoon (or pest), which is quite difficult because once they have settled on a nesting place, they tend to come back to that place. In other words, humane removal becomes more difficult if the pest gives birth.

Inspect for Pests

Similar to dealing with pests on the porch (and deck) you are likely dealing with them around the house and in the yard. Whether it is carpenter bees, ants, termites, or other unwanted pests, you need to inspect around the house and deal with pests accordingly. As with anything else, prevention is the best measure because some inspects (like termites) can cause major damage and require professional removal. I do recommend doing what you can to repel them naturally and organically because it is better for the environment and actually tends to be more effective that commercially available poisons (though sometimes certain bug killers are necessary).

Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Summer can be hot and dry and you need to make sure your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly. To check your alarms simply press the test button on your alarm and listen for the siren. You will also want to check the batteries in your alarm, if applicable and, of course, if you hear chirps from your alarm, it is time to replace the batteries immediately.

To learn more about MMK Realty visit our About Us page. For more tips and information feel free to contact me and follow me on social media on Facebook @mmkrealtyllc, Twitter @MMKRealtyLLC, and Instagram @mmkrealty. Also check out our Free Market Analysis. Sign up today and we will email you a free custom assessment of the current value of your home performed by MMK’s Principal Broker, Michelle Williams.

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Considering Mortgage Forbearance on Your Northern Virginia Home?

Are you considering mortgage forbearance on your Northern Virginia home? While mortgage forbearance can be a lifesaver from some, in most of cases opting for forbearance is not a good idea. If you can make your payments, continue to do. The first thing to understand about mortgage forbearance is that it is not free money. Forbearance does not mean that you skip 6 months of payments, rather it means that you owe 6 months’ worth of payments at the end of your forbearance term—plus interest.

In general, according to Consumer Finance, “Forbearance is when your mortgage servicer, that’s the company that sends your mortgage statement and manages your loan, or lender allows you to pause or reduce your payments for a limited period of time. Forbearance does not erase what you owe. You’ll have to repay any missed or reduced payments in the future.” Again, while some homeowners may have no other alternatives, in general you want to avoid this route if at all possible.

It is also helpful to know that forbearance is not the same as deferment. While both act as postponement of loan payments, the major difference is that deferment allows borrowers to repay the money over time or add it to the end of their loan period, while forbearance generally results in a lump sum balloon payment at the end of the forbearance term. Owing a balloon payment at the end of forbearance generally offsets any logical reasoning to postpone payment because if you could not pay the mortgage during the forbearance term, what is the likelihood that could pay a lump sum at the end? Generally the odds are fairly low, and in many cases leads to loan default. In fact, mortgage forbearance was a driving force behind the housing market crash in 2007.

Does Mortgage Forbearance Affect Your Credit Score?

So, does mortgage forbearance affect your credit score? What you should also know about forbearance is, while it not reported to the credit bureaus as “default” your forbearance is still reported to the credit bureaus and will display on your credit report. While this will not directly lower your credit score, the resulting factors might. For example, when mortgage forbearance appears on your credit report, your existing creditors may opt to lower your available credit, thereby changing your debt-to-income ratio, which leads to a lower credit score. Thus, while the results are indirect, the impact is the same, your score is lower. And of course, a lower credit score means it becomes more difficult to get a low-interest loan. Additionally, your chances of being able to refinance your loan during a forbearance are slim.

Mortgage Forbearance Under the CARES Act

Now that you know the realities of forbearance, there have been some provisions under the CARES ACT, largely in response to what happened in 2007. Under the CARES Act borrowers facing economic hardship because of COVID-19 can get mortgage forbearance for up to a year. During this time, lenders cannot foreclose on your property. If you have a government-backed mortgage, there are now multiple repayment options available to homeowners once the forbearance ends. That is the good news. The bad news is it will still indirectly affect your credit and likely make other things you may try to do more challenging. For example, yes you can sell your home during forbearance but getting a loan on a new home may be more difficult. Even renting may be more difficult, especially if your debt-to-income ratio is affected.

In conclusion, there is one more thing to consider. The CARES Act was put together very quickly in response to COVID-19 and many of the details of the particular programs still lack clarity. Information is not as readily available as it should. Thus, you should approach mortgage forbearance with extreme caution and get as much information as possible before pursing that as an option. Understandably, you make be limited and constrained by time and money, but just be sure you fully understand what you are getting in to.

To learn more about MMK Realty visit our About Us page. For more tips and information feel free to contact me and follow me on social media on Facebook @mmkrealtyllc, Twitter @MMKRealtyLLC, and Instagram @mmkrealty. Also check out our Free Market Analysis. Sign up today and we will email you a free custom assessment of the current value of your home performed by MMK’s Principal Broker, Michelle Williams.

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Spring Home Maintenance Tips for your Northern Virginia Home

Are you finally ready for spring home maintenance tips for your Northern Virginia home? It is spring in Northern Virginia, though it has not quite felt like a typical spring in the DMV. In fact, it has been a little bit chilly with temperatures hovering in the high 50s to low 60s for much of March and April. Additionally, like much of the nation, we have been under COVID-19 lock-down mandates, which have us all stuck indoors. And, even on the nice weather days when we want to go outside, many locals are suffering from seasonal allergies that are worse than normal–resulting in even more time spent indoors. Aye yi yi right?! While pollen counts remain elevated and lock-down mandates are still in effect, many of us are finally feeling like spring is here for real. And homeowners, you know what that means right? Spring home maintenance! Okay, okay, so maybe the prospect of home maintenance does not have you jumping for joy but it is important because good maintenance routines help prevent major problems. So, without further ado here are the main spring home maintenance tips for your Northern Virginia home.

The Roof, Gutters, and Downspouts

This past winter in Northern Virginia was fairly mild and we saw little to no snow in most parts of the region. Temperatures were mild and we only saw a bit of precipitation throughout the winter months. Nevertheless, you still need to give your roof a good look and clean out the gutters and downspouts. The good news is that with the mild weather your roof should be in pretty good shape since last year’s inspection and hopefully your gutters and downspouts will be reasonable to clean too. Remember, the primary reason you want to clean the gutters and downspouts is to prevent wood rot around the roof eaves from rotting, which of course will lead to much worse problems.

Inspect, Seal or Paint Exterior Wood

In addition to inspecting the roof, you will want to take a look at all the exterior wood around your home including home trim, decking, and fencing looking for signs of wear and rot. If you see troublesome areas, now is a good time to repaint or reseal areas that look problematic. By sealing up trouble spots you will help prevent wood rot and the inevitable replacement and problems that come along with that.

Check for Bugs, Critters, and Pests

With warmer weather on the horizon, the bugs and critters are coming out of the woodwork, sometimes literally. When it comes to protecting your home against pests, this task falls in line with ensuring there is not any wood rot around your home because those serve as perfect entry points for those pesky invaders. In addition to preventing and/or repairing wood rot, you need to make sure there is not any standing water around your house, because water attracts pests. You will also need to look for signs of termites just to ensure that is not a problem around your home. Generally termites can be seen flying out of holes in wood. If you do see termites, you will likely need professional help to resolve that problem. Finally, if mosquitoes are a problem around your home, consider planting some plants that repel mosquitos such as:

  • Basil
  • Bee Balm
  • Catnip
  • Citronella
  • Floss Flower
  • Garlic
  • Lavender
  • Lemon Balm
  • Lemongrass
  • Marigold
  • Pennyroyal
  • Peppermint
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Scented Geranium

Air-Conditioning

It never fails. The hottest day of the year hits and the A/C goes out. It is Murphy’s Law! Well sort of. Usually that happens because you did not get your air conditioner inspected or you have not maintained the unit very well. Consider this, the HVAC unit runs often and every day, all year long! It needs routine maintenance much like your vehicle needs regular oil changes. It is best to get your A/C inspected before it gets really hot because it will help better protect against bigger problems (and outages) later in the summer.

Landscaping

If you have not done so already, be sure to clean up your yard. This is the time of year where you will want to trim back bushes, get rid of weeds, lay down fresh mulch—and hopefully plant a few flowers. The most important thing to focus on is trimming trees, bushes, and branches that are closest to your home and HVAC unit. You want to keep those direct perimeter areas as clear as possible. Beyond that, since you area already working in the yard, give those faucets and sprinklers and check to make sure they are functioning properly.

To learn more about MMK Realty visit our About Us page. For more tips and information feel free to contact me and follow me on social media on Facebook @mmkrealtyllc, Twitter @MMKRealtyLLC, and Instagram @mmkrealty. Also check out our Free Market Analysis. Sign up today and we will email you a free custom assessment of the current value of your home performed by MMK’s Principal Broker, Michelle Williams.

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Michelle Williams of MMK Realty LLC launches The McKendall Foundation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Michelle Williams of MMK Realty LLC launches The McKendall Foundation LLC in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic! Together we’re raising money to support those that suffer from Congenital Heart and Lung Disease who will need critical support should they contract COVID-19 and are not able to get the vital care they need due to the lack of available supplies.

EMERGENCY FINANCIAL RELIEF FUND 

Providing Support for Congenital Heart and Lung Disease Suffers Who Contract COVID-19

In the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 there is an urgent need to provide funds for medical equipment, nursing care, uncovered medical fees, mental healthcare, and other associated support to the immune compromised suffering from Congenital Heart and Lung Disease. Our foundation, The McKendall Foundation LLC, will serve as a source of help for those who need extra support due to contracting the Coronavirus. Funds for medical equipment, nursing care, uncovered medical fees, mental healthcare, and other associated support is critical in supporting those who desperately need our help. We will distribute the support among case managers with the local organizations who directly support Congenital Heart and Lung Disease.

The McKendall Foundation Story

My name is Michelle Williams and my beautiful and wonderful daughter born with congenital heart and lung disease due to no fault of her own, and like many, may or may not get medical attention needed if she contracts the infectious COVID 19 virus due to the lack of equipment and facilities. There is great concern that those suffering from immune complications will not receive adequate care due to the lack of medical supplies.  We should all be concerned our loved ones may not get the support or care they will desperately need.

About My Daughter’s Diagnosis

My daughter’s diagnosis includes an unbalanced atrioventricular canal and hypoplastic left ventricle with a failed Fontan, which was taken down, and she has bilateral bidirectional Glenns as well as lung arteriovenous malformation with profound cyanosis and clubbing and a mechanical AV valve. She also suffers from pulmonary hemorrhages, coil embolization of arteriovenous malformation. In addition, she suffered a massive stroke during her failed Fontan procedure. Current equipment includes a Epicardia pacemaker and defibrillator generator. There are no good surgical options for her except possibly a heart-lung transplant if she deteriorates.  My daughter, like so many suffering from Congenital Heart and Lung Disease, enjoy life just like the rest of us and deserve equal medical treatment in the wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Thank you so much for your support.

Thank you to our Participating Sponsors!

WJD Property Management

MMK Realty LLC

Write Way Digital LLC

State Farm Rick Mikszan

Donnie Collins of Collins Smoke Detectors

Alexandra Hurlman of Second Nature

The McKendall Foundation LLC Charity Information

Founder: Michelle Williams
Tax ID: 85-0618065

Charity Address:
The McKendall Foundation LLC
6181 Camerons Ferry
Haymarket, VA, 20169

Contact: michelle@mmkrealtyllc.com
Phone: 703-862-1118

Official Facebook Page
@mckendallfoundation

Where to Donate
Donate on Facebook
Donate on GoFundMe