Gwen Pangle's Blog - Leesburg, VA real estate, Ashburn, VA real estate, Middleburg, VA real estate


Moving is stressful at the best of times. But when you’re moving across the country rather than across town, it adds to the number of preparations you’ll need to make.

In this article, we’ll give you some tips on how to best prepare for your long-distance move, whether it’s across the state, across the country, or to another country altogether.

Packing and moving

One of the biggest concerns you’ll have during a long distance move is the condition of your belongings.

If you’re using a moving company, you’ll want to make sure you trust them to handle your belongings with care. To ensure that they’re responsible movers, read over their reviews online. It’s also a good idea to review their contracts and to make sure you have enough insurance to cover any costly damages or losses. Speaking of moving companies, be sure to shop around to find out which one offers the best prices and delivery windows.

When it comes to packing your items, air on the side of caution and start boxing items well in advance of your move. Not only is it a good idea to label your boxes by room, but you should put your name and contact information on your boxes if they’re being shipped by a large moving company.

Remember that not everything needs to be in boxes. Soft items like clothing and towels can easily be packed in trash bags, suitcases, and duffel bags. You’ll be able to squeeze in more items and they’ll take up less space in the moving truck.

When filling the moving truck, be sure your fragile items aren’t the top box on a stack of boxes. Similarly, you don’t want fragile belongings underneath too many heavy boxes. Your movers likely have their own way of securing boxes, so be sure to indicate to them which boxes are the most fragile with labels.

Downsize your belongings

The month leading up to your move is a good time to sell or donate items you no longer use. It could save you space on the moving truck, and you could earn a few extra dollars before your big move.

Larger items should be your top priority. Bicycles, lawnmowers, and other big items that you’ve been thinking of replacing can be sold now and you can buy new ones at your future home. However, don’t discount the weight and size of things like DVD and book collections. Many people lug around bookcases from house to house and hardly ever touch the books on them. Furthermore, technology like Kindle and Netflix are making owning physical copies of your media less of a necessity.

Before you start packing the rest of your items into moving boxes, make sure you set aside a “survival kit” filled with your daily use items. Things like cell phone chargers, glasses and contacts, and sanitary items should be in your vehicle or carry on, not in the moving truck.

Saving money

Moving is expensive, but there are a number of ways you can squeeze some savings out of the experience. First, take advantage of free boxes from local stores and restaurants. Then, ask for friends and family to help you pack rather than hiring professionals, offer them lunch in exchange for their help.

When it comes to getting to your new home, don’t rule out flying as being the most expensive option. Hotels, gas, and eating out add up quickly if you’re making a road trip out of your move.

Finally, see if your move is tax-deductible. If you’re relocating for work, there’s a chance some of your moving expenses will be. If so, be sure to keep all of your receipts along the way.


A bathroom renovation represents a major decision, especially for those who plan to sell their homes in the near future.

Ultimately, there are many questions to consider before you embark on a bathroom renovation, including:

1. When do I plan to list my home?

Consider your home selling timeline – you'll be glad you did. If you understand when you'd like to list your residence, you can plan home improvement projects accordingly.

If you intend to list your home in the next few months, there is plenty of time to overhaul your bathroom if necessary. Or, if you want to sell your home as soon as possible, a bathroom renovation may slow you down.

2. Is a bathroom renovation necessary?

Although your bathroom may seem small and messy at times, only minor bathroom upgrades may be needed to transform your ordinary bathroom into an exceptional one.

Performing an extensive bathroom cleaning will enable you to eliminate shower scum, wipe down a bathroom countertop and enhance the bathroom floor. Plus, cleaning a bathroom often represents a fast, easy and cost-effective alternative to a major bathroom overhaul.

Furthermore, a home appraisal may help you better understand your house's strengths and weaknesses. After this appraisal is finished, you can identify problem areas in your home and determine whether a bathroom renovation is a priority.

3. How much will a bathroom renovation cost?

The cost of a bathroom renovation may range from hundreds to thousands of dollars based on the size of your bathroom, the renovations that are needed and other factors. As such, you'll want to evaluate the cost of a bathroom renovation to determine how the project may impact your property's value.

Meet with several bathroom renovation experts. That way, you can receive multiple bathroom renovation estimates to see what it will cost to enhance your bathroom's appearance.

Also, you may want to consider do-it-yourself (DIY) bathroom improvements. A DIY bathroom renovation can be rewarding because it will enable you to learn new skills and revamp your bathroom's appearance on your own. At the same time, you'll want to ensure that any bathroom upgrades you complete are done safely and effectively.

Still unsure about whether you should perform a bathroom renovation? Discuss your concerns and questions with a real estate agent, and you may be able to gain unparalleled insights into whether a bathroom renovation is worth your time.

A real estate agent understands the ins and outs of the housing market. He or she can help you assess the pros and cons of a bathroom renovation. As a result, you can make informed decisions about a bathroom renovation and other home improvement projects.

In addition, a real estate agent can serve as an expert guide along the home selling journey. This housing market professional can help you get your home ready and ensure it will generate plenty of interest from property buyers as soon as it becomes available.

Take the guesswork out of a bathroom renovation – consider the aforementioned questions, and you can decide whether a bathroom renovation is right for you.


FHA loans have long been a valuable resource for Americans who want to fulfill their goal of homeownership but who don’t have the benefit of a lengthy credit history and equity.

If you’re hoping to buy a home in the near future but want to explore all of your options in terms of financing, this article is for you.

Today we’re going to talk about FHA loans and how to know if you qualify for one.

What are FHA loans?

FHA loans are issued by private mortgage lenders across the country, just like regular mortgages. The difference, however, is that an FHA loan is “guaranteed” by the federal government.

Lenders decide your borrowing eligibility, and how much you can borrow, by determining risk. If you don’t have a sizable down payment (oftentimes 20% or more) and you have a low credit score, most mortgage lenders will see you as a risky person to lend to.

When you get an FHA loan, however, the federal government assumes some of that risk, allowing you to secure the loan anyway.

This means you can buy a home with a low credit score, a smaller than usual down payment, and save on some closing costs.

How do I qualify for an FHA Loan?

To find out if you qualify for an FHA loan, you’ll head to the same place as a traditional mortgage--a mortgage lender. Oftentimes, you can simply call or visit the website of lenders to get the process started.

As with all things, it’s a good idea to shop around for a mortgage lender. Their offerings will be largely similar, but there might be minor differences that make one better than another for your particular circumstances.

Down payment requirements

To secure an FHA loan, you will need to make a down payment of at least 3.5%. However, this low down payment comes with a price. You’ll typically be required to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI) fees on top of your accruing interest for your loan.

Credit score requirements

While you can often secure a mortgage with a lower credit score through an FHA loan, there are still some requirements. To secure a loan with the lowest possible down payment (3.5%), you’ll need a credit score of 580 or above.

Previous homeowners and FHA loans

A common misconception about FHA loans is that they are only for first-time homeowners. However, you can still qualify for an FHA loan if you’ve owned a home before as long as it has been three years since you’ve had a foreclosure or two years since filing for bankruptcy.

If you meet these three conditions, you should be able to secure an FHA loan through a traditional mortgage lender.


As a homebuyer, it may be beneficial to establish goals. Because once you know what you want to accomplish during the homebuying journey, you can take the necessary steps to achieve your homebuying aspirations.

Now, let's take a look at three factors to consider as you develop homebuying goals.

1. Your Dream Home

Define your dream house – you will be glad you did. If you know what you want to find in your ideal residence, you can map out your homebuying journey accordingly.

Generally, it helps to make a list of house must-haves before you launch a home search. This list should include any features you require from a residence, along with your preferred cities and towns.

If you need a home that provides convenient access to your office in the city, for example, owning a house in or near the city itself is a must. Or, if you require a home that offers ample space for you and your kids, you can search for residences that provide multiple bedrooms and play areas.

2. Your Homebuying Budget

When it comes to buying a house, it is beneficial to get your finances in order. That way, you can hone your home search to residences that fall within your price range.

Meeting with banks and credit unions allows you to learn about a broad assortment of mortgage options. These financial institutions can teach you about different types of home financing. Then, you can select a mortgage and enter the real estate market with a budget in hand.

3. Your Homebuying Timeline

Consider how long it will take you to find and purchase a home that matches your expectations. If you establish a homebuying timeline, you may be better equipped than ever before to optimize your time and resources as you search for your dream residence.

Of course, it helps to maintain a flexible homebuying timeline. And if you encounter challenges during the homebuying journey, you can adjust your timeline as needed.

For those who plan to pursue a home, it may be helpful to hire a real estate agent, too. If you employ a real estate agent, you can get the support you need to navigate the homebuying journey like a pro.

A real estate agent is happy to help you explore a variety of homes in your preferred cities and towns. If you find a house you want to buy, a real estate agent will help you craft a competitive offer to purchase this residence. Plus, if your offer to purchase is accepted, a real estate agent will guide you along the final stages of the homebuying journey.

As you prepare to conduct a home search, you may want to develop goals. If you begin a home search with a plan, you could streamline the process of finding and purchasing your ideal residence. Best of all, you may be able to acquire a first-rate house that will serve you well for an extended period of time.


Sold strictly as is. Good investment property or starter home. Owner recently vaulted living room ceiling and opened up the front living area. Separate laundry room. Quarter acre lot, fenced rear. One car detached garage with upper storage. Septic pumped June 2018; new roof, new HVAC.

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