Word of the Week: Assessment

What is an assessment and how does it differ from an appraisal

Each week we try to help you to understand some of the expansive, and often confusing Real Estate jargon. Last week we talked about appraisals, and how they can often be confused with the Home Inspection. We also receive many questions from our clients about the difference between an appraisal and an Assessment. These terms are very similar, yet quite different.

An appraisal, we learned, is a detailed single property valuation performed by a licensed appraiser. Appraisals can be used for obtaining a mortgage loan, home equity loan, home sale or estate valuation.jsrealty4u property value assessmentAn Assessment, however, is a mass appraisal of property, that is usually conducted at the beginning of the year by local counties. They are based on the areas sales, which helps to determine the value for a large group of similar properties (like a neighborhood, for instance). This information is generally used to determine property tax amounts.Tax Rate Calc JS Realty assessment

As you can see, appraisals are more exact, since they tend to be performed to determine the market value of a specific property. Whereas the purpose of an assessment is to determine the value for a large number of similar properties.

Questions about the value of your home or the local real estate market in general? Drop us a line!

FREE Money for a Down Payment!

No Money Down Home Loans are Back!

The VHDA just announced that they plan to roll out a program that offers down payment grants for qualified first time buyers on Monday, March 14. That’s basically free money!Virginia Dollar Sign JS Realty

These non-repayable grants are for 3% (Conventional) or 3.5% (FHA) of the purchase price. When combined with a mortgage credit certificate (tax credit) this is a great way to purchase a home with no money down.

This program is designed to help first time home buyers (or buyers that have not owned a home in the past 3 years) realize the American dream of home ownership. Now, there are income and sales price limits, so this is not for everyone. However, this will enable home buyers who need help with the down payment to purchase a home.JS Realty New Home Buyer RulesHere are some of the parameters of this grant that buyers must follow:
-Intend to live in the home
-May not use home for trade or business
-Lot size limited to 2 acres (unless a waiver is obtained, which will allow up to 5 acres)
-Demonstrate creditworthiness
-Demonstrate stable income
-Take and complete VHDA’s Homeownership Education class

You can view the specific income and sales price limits to qualify for this grant here.  The income and sales price limits also vary depending on where in Virginia you live. This creates an opportunity for home ownership where it may not have been possible otherwise.

We want to help you make your dream of home ownership come true!

Take advantage of this amazing program! Contact Scott Koval and Sarah Taylor at the JS Realty Team for a personalized consultation.

Leap Day Around the World

Fun facts about Leap Day from around the globe

First, let’s talk about why we even have an extra day. The whole point of the Leap Year is to help adjust our Gregorian calendar (the 365-day calendar we all use today) to the solar calendar (which lasts 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 45 seconds). Those extra hours, minutes, and seconds add up and can throw us a little off schedule. So we add the extra day in every 4 years to make sure things like spring and autumn are celebrated with some regularity each year. Although sometimes, that extra day just isn’t enough. Last year scientists called for a “Leap Second” which was added on June 30th at 11:59:60PM. This has happened 26 times since 1972.

Since this day affects just about everyone around the globe, let’s take a look at some fun facts, traditions, and celebrations from around the world.

Grab a Newspaper
jsrealty4u leap year paper franceSince 1980 a satirical newspaper called “La Bougie du Sapeur” (The Soldier’s Candle) has been published in France on February 29th. The paper started out as a joke among friends, but its circulation now tops 200,000 copies! Its name was inspired by a comic book character drawn by the artist Christophe, who was born on the 29th of February. The paper uses content from real news stories and puts a comic twist on them. They have also started publishing a Sunday Edition, which appears about every 28 years!

The editorial team of La Bougie du Sapeur is composed entirely of volunteers. There is no advertising, so the paper counts entirely on its circulation. Often times, the proceeds from the sale of the paper are donated to a charity.

Time to Get Married!JSrealty4u leap proposalIn the past, in many European countries, Leap Day was considered the only acceptable day for a woman to propose marriage to a man. If said man refused, he must then purchase 12 pairs of gloves for the woman (to hide the fact that she isn’t engaged). In Finland, however, the refusing man must purchase the lady fabric for new skirts.

Unlucky Love
In Greece, however, marriage during a Leap Year is considered unlucky! In fact, a recent survey showed that 1 in 5 couples purposely avoided getting married in a Leap Year.

Happy Birthday! 
An estimated 187,000 Americans were born on Leap Day and another 4 million worldwide. The odds of being born on February 29th are 1  in 1,461 – which makes it pretty rare for one Leapling (as they are called) to meet another.

Leap Year Capital of the World
jsrealty4u leap year day celebrateIn February of 1988, the city of Anthony, Texas declared itself the “Leap Year Capital of the World” and started an international Leapling Birthday Club.

The Texas-New Mexico border town now celebrates the February 29th birthdays annually with events lasting 3-4 days, that include festivals and a parade!


Toast the Day
Created by bartender Harry Craddock at the London Savoy Hotel in 1928, the Leap Day cocktail is a the colorful cousin of the martini. We snagged the original recipe, so you can make your own cocktail to celebrate the extra day this year!jsrealty4u leap drink cheers

1 dash of lemon juice
2/3 Gin
1/6 Grand Marnier
1/6 Sweet Vermouth
Shake, pour, and garnish with a lemon peel!

Cheers to a fun Leap Year!


Buying your first home can be a daunting experience. We’ve put together some guidelines to help facilitate the process. By following these 4 simple “Rules”, you can reduce the stress that comes with buying a home and come out of it owning your own slice of America!

Meeting Realtor Contracts RulesTHE most important tip to buying your first home is to find an experienced Realtor and have an initial consultation. Your Realtor will lay out the entire buying process and give you an idea of what to expect, along with a timeline of the events leading up to you closing on your home. In today’s ever changing market place, being represented by a strong Realtor is paramount. New lending laws, called TRID, went into effect October 1, 2015 and now more than ever your Realtor and lender need to work closely together to make sure you are ready for your settlement date. Your Realtor can also guide you through the nuances of the local market and recommend advice on how to best negotiate through the current market. The initial consultation with your Realtor should also include these questions:

JS Realty Check List Blank Rules-What type of home are you looking for?
-What is important to you in a home?
-What are your preferred locations?
-How will your current living situation affect your purchase?
-Are you currently in a lease?
-When does that lease end? Can you go month to month once your lease ends?
-What are your long term goals?
-Do you foresee a job transfer in the future?
-Do you want to buy a home in move-in condition or are you willing to consider a home that needs work?
-If it needs work, how much? Simple & carpet or do you need to gut the whole house?

Other item to discuss with your Realtor are the costs associated with purchasing a home. Items like inspections and appraisals are paid for by the buyer outside the actual loan itself.

It is essential to get your pre-approval in place by a reputable Lender for many reasons. Mainly, you want to know how much you can comfortably afford. That amount is not always what the Lender says you qualify for. Being qualified for jsrealty4u js realty stamp rulesa certain amount and being comfortable with the payments at that amount can sometimes be different. Say you buy a house worth X amount of dollars, then the down payment and closing costs will be X, and the PITI (principal, interest, taxes, insurance) plus HOA/Condo fees will be X. Once you are comfortable with those amounts, you will have less anxiety looking at homes in your price range. Another reason to get pre-approved is to find out what type of loan you will be using. The type of loan – whether it’s conventional, VA, FHA, or some other program, could make a difference in your home purchase. For example, some condos are not FHA certified, meaning they would not qualify for a FHA loan. This would be important to know before you got your heart set on a condo only to find out you cannot purchase it with your preferred loan program.

JS Realty New Home Rules BuyerSetting out to tour luxury homes can be a fun way to spend an afternoon, and a great way to get design ideas! But don’t set yourself up to be disappointed when you fall in love with a home who’s price is double (or more!) what you have been pre-qualified for. Know your price range, and stick to viewing homes within that budget. You can always incorporate some of those design elements you admire and give your new home that luxury feel.

JSRealty4U Rules InspectionPay close attention to your home inspector at the home inspection. Buyers can gleam a lot of useful information from this inspection. It’s not only to discover the good and bad points of a home, but it also serves as a valuable learning experience. Your home inspector will give you tips on maintaining and up keeping the different components of your home. The home inspector should also point out items that you will need to keep an eye on for future maintenance or replacement. Your home is usually your biggest asset so you want to have as much knowledge as possible about keeping your home in the best condition. A little preventative maintenance here and there can save you thousands of dollars down the road.

If you’re in the market for a home, contact the expert Realtors at the JS Realty Team @ Samson Properties for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation!


As Co-Founder of the JS Realty Team @ Samson Properties, Scott Koval provides ethical, honest, and fair real estate transactions. This has been a personal passion JS Realty Headshot - Scott Kovalof Scott’s for more than 11 years, and he has represented more than $120 million in real estate transactions over his career. As a homeowner, Scott has walked in the Buyer’s & Seller’s shoes many times. Scott’s personal experience with Real Estate inspired him to want to be a leader in the industry to ensure all real estate clients have a positive experience. This inspiration is what lead him to co-found the JS Realty Team with his partner, Sarah Taylor.

Scott believes his success can be attributed to his dedication to building lifelong relationships, and to helping clients fulfill their dreams through ethical, honest and fair Real Estate solutions. He does not perceive Real Estate sales and purchases to be “transactional” and is committed through every step of the process to ensure his clients are cared for, protected, and satisfied with the end result.

Scott’s specialties include:
*Representation of both buyers and sellers for residential properties
*First time home buyers
*Investment properties/1031 exchanges
*Representation of rental property owners and tenants
*Mentoring new Real Estate Agents

When not assisting his clients in fulfilling their Real Estate dreams, he can be found spending time with his two daughters, or perfecting his swing on a local golf course.

If you want experience and integrity in your Real Estate partner, Scott is your expert! Contact Scott today with your residential Real Estate needs.

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The JS Realty Team – not only serving Brambleton, serving all of Northern Virginia.


JS Realty Team - Sarah TaylorSarah Taylor is one of the Co-Founders of the JS Realty Team operating at Samson Properties and an Expert Realtor who has been representing buyers and sellers for residential and commercial real estate since 2004. As a catalyst for financial freedom through real estate, her mantra, “Leading you to Real Estate solutions,” reflects her commitment to helping others achieve wealth through real estate acquisitions. Sarah has a passion for helping people, and for making dreams come true through the ownership of real estate. Her deep appreciation for both residential and commercial architecture was what led Sarah to the Real Estate industry. Sarah is committed to educating, guiding, and empowering individuals and families to own a piece of the world.

Sarah has consistently been a multi-million dollar producer in Northern VA, which is one of the nation’s leading and most competitive real estate markets. Representing a variety of clients, including some of the area’s most prominent CEO’s, business executives, developers, national franchises, and global companies, her clientele continuously expands through a powerful referral network. Working with a great base of incredible people and proven partners drives her successes every day.

Sarah succeeds because of her exceptionally high standards, strong values, excellent relationships, and savvy negotiation skills, which consistently deliver the best possible outcomes for her clients. Her hands-on approach is evidenced by her enthusiasm to get to know her clients and their families during the buying and selling process, and by being directly involved with each deal. Sarah states, “I truly want to hear and understand my clients needs so that I can tailor our services around what they need.”

Sarah’s specialties include:
* Real Estate buying and selling for commercial and residential
* Investment properties
* Trustee sales
* Property Management

When she is not finding Real Estate solutions for her clients, Sarah enjoys spending time with her husband and their two dogs, preferably near a large body of water where she can go fishing.

If you have any residential or commercial real estate needs, contact Sarah and she will be more than happy to assist you!

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The JS Realty Team – not only serving Brambleton, serving all of Northern Virginia.


A few weeks back we gave you some info on how to decide whether it made more sense for you to Rent or Buy a home. Today we’re going to discuss renting out your home versus selling it. There are many factors to consider before making that decision. Here are just some of the questions you must answer to make an informed decision:

JS Realty Rent Question

Monetarily, how would renting affect your bottom line?
How does the rental market compare to the sale market in your neighborhood?
How emotionally attached to your home are you?
How permanent is your reason for moving – are you moving out of the area for good or do you want a new/different home?
What condition is your home in, has it been updated?

If you need the proceeds from the sale of your home to purchase another home then obviously renting is definitely not an option. If you can cover the costs of owning your home by the rental income your home will bring, then you might be a candidate for renting your home. Remember: your costs not only include your mortgage and any HOA/Condo fees, but the upkeep and maintenance. If you can make a positive cash flow plus receive the tax benefits, then renting might be an option.JS Realty Refinance Monney Calculator Bills

Another financial part of the equation is how your homes market will look 5-10 years from now. Although no one has a crystal ball to know exactly how the Real Estate market is going to react, determining what the market is likely to do will help in your decision. If your homes market is on the rise, then you could possibly benefit from having tenants that pay for the cost of keeping the home, and you’ll also be making money on the equity that’s being built!JS Realty Graph Real Estate

The reason for your move also needs to be examined. If you are leaving the area and do not plan on returning, then renting and managing your rental home becomes JS Realty Prop Management Rentmore difficult. If this is the case, but you definitely want to rent, you should consider using the experience of the Property Management Team at the JS Realty Team. Our Property Management Team will make the managing of your home as stress-free as possible. And if you do plan on returning to the area after a couple of years away, then you need to determine if you are going to want to move back into the same home, or find a new one.

JS Realty Rent Sell Landscape Home
This is another major factor to consider. How tolerant will you be of strangers living in your home? For example, if having your prized landscaping not kept up to your standards would make you upset, you may want to reconsider if renting is right for you. No matter how well you screen your potential tenants, there is still the potential that they will not treat your home like you do. The JS Realty Team performs our due diligence when screening potential tenants and we have had tenants that have left our clients homes in better condition than when they first moved in. On the flip side, we’ve also had tenants that did not fare as well as we would like. You are always taking a chance when you let strangers live in your home.

JS Realty Rent Sell Renovate Update
Tenants tend to be less fixated on items such as fixtures, appliances, and such because they are renting and only going to be there on a short term basis. Buyers are going to be more selective when choosing a home, and may rule out one that has not been updated. If you need to invest time and money to update your home for the sale market, this also needs to be entered into your decision making process.

There are many factors that go into deciding whether to rent out or sell your home. Trust the experience our JS Realty Team members have to go over your personal situation and discover what the best options are for you. Contact us today to get started!

JS Realty Free Analysis Contact UsThe JS Realty Team – not only serving Brambleton, serving all of Northern Virginia.


America just celebrated her 239th birthday! The Flag, or “Old Glory” as she is often called, is the emblem of our country. She was displayed nation-wide on July 4th and was being waved all day by proud Americans. This isn’t anything new, though. JS Realty Fireworks Nation DCYou see flags all the time; in front of schools, public offices, even homes. But did you know there is an official Flag Code? This code formalizes and unifies the traditional ways in which we give respect to the flag, and also contains specific instructions on how the flag is not to be used. According to the code, “The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing.”

JS Realty USA Flag Seal GreatInitially, there were no reasons left as to why Red, White, and Blue were chosen to represent the USA. However, in 1782, Congress chose the same colors for the Great Seal and offered this designation:

Red – hardiness and valor
White – purity and innocence
Blue – vigilance, perseverance, & justice

Also listed in the code among the various do’s and don’t’s is a detailed list of the days on which the flag should be displayed.

So when should “Old Glory” be displayed? The Flag should be displayed on all days, but especially on:

JS Realty Flag Old Glory FlyingNew Year’s Day—January 1
Inauguration Day—January 20
Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday—3rd Monday in January
Lincoln’s Birthday—February 12
Washington’s Birthday—3rd Monday in February
Easter Sunday (variable)
Mother’s Day—2nd Sunday in May
Armed Forces Day—3rd Saturday in May
Memorial Day—last Monday in May (fly at half-staff until noon)
Flag Day—June 14
Father’s Day—3rd Sunday in June
JS Realty Flag US BuildingIndependence Day—July 4
Labor Day—1st Monday in September
Constitution Day—September 17
Columbus Day—2nd Monday in October
Navy Day—October 27
Veterans Day—November 11
Thanksgiving Day—4th Thursday in November
Christmas Day—December 25
State holidays
States Date of Admission—June 25th for Virginia, April 28th for Maryland
And other days as may be proclaimed by the President of the United States.

JS Realty Flag Half Staff MastIn addition, half-staff the Flag (sunrise to sunset) on these days:

Peace Officers Memorial Day—May 15
Patriot Day—September 11
Fire Prevention Week—Sunday, usually of week in which October 9th falls
National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day—December 7

Download a printable version of Dates to Display The Flag.

Additional details about Old Glory and the full Code can be found here.

If you have a flag that is weathered, tattered, or beyond repair, please contact the National Capital Area Council Boy Scouts of America so that it may be disposed of during a flag retirement ceremony.

This is a great time to buy and sell a home in Loudoun County! Contact us today for a no-obligation consultation and find out how we can help get you into the home of your dreams!JS Realty Free Analysis Contact Us

The JS Realty Team – not only serving Brambleton, serving all of Northern Virginia.


Generally speaking, a loan refinance is a new loan to replace an old loan. Let’s look at the various reasons why a refinance would be appropriate.

JS Realty Business Man Text Save How

LOWER MONTHLY PAYMENTS – If your current interest rate high, refinancing at a lower rate can save you significant money each month. For example, if your loan amount was $300,000 and your rate is 5%, your monthly Principal and Interest (P&I) payment would be $1,633 per month. If you refinance the same $300,000 at a rate of 4%, your monthly P&I payment would be $1,432 or a savings of $201 per month. This equates to a savings of $2,412 per year and will save you $12,060 in five short years!

JS Realty Interest RatesLOWER INTEREST RATES – Interest rates can be lowered due to a change in the industry as a whole, such as the example above. Interest rates can also be lowered by shortening the term of the loan. 15 year rates will be lower than 30 years loans. Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARM’s) are loans that are fixed for a specific time period such as 3, 5 7 or 10 years and will typically be offered at rates lower than a 30 year fixed loan.

SHORTEN LOAN TERM – A loan refinance can be considered as a way to reduce the length of your loan. Changing from a 30 year loan to a 15 year loan can greatly reduce the number of payments needed to pay off your loan. This is often used by borrower’s who have increased incomes since the beginning of their initial loan and can afford the higher monthly payments.JS Realty Loan Terms Paperwork

CHANGE FROM ‘ARM’ TO FIXED – Adjustable Rate Mortgages are fixed for a period of time and then they begin to adjust or change rates on an annual basis. Refinancing to a fixed rate term alleviates potential rate increases that can occur with the ARM’s.

COMBINE TWO LOANS INTO ONE – When purchasing a home, many borrowers obtain two loans to reduce the amount of down payment or to keep from paying mortgage insurance. As the value of the home increases, a single mortgage can replace both loans at a lower rate than the original two loans.JS Realty Refinance Application Form Pen

ELIMINATE MORTGAGE INSURANCE – Initial loans with a down payment of less than 20% will often have monthly mortgage insurance payments as part of the mortgage payment. Also, FHA loans include monthly mortgage insurance payments that you continue to pay for as long as you own the loan. As the loan balances decrease and property values increase, refinancing into a new loan with a loan-to-value of  at least 80% will eliminate the need for mortgage insurance payments.

CASH OUT –With enough equity in a property, refinancing is a great way to get cash that can be used for virtually any reason.
Some examples may be:JS Realty Refinance Monney Calculator Bills

-Home Renovations/Additions
-Auto purchase
-Boat purchase
-Medical bills
-College Education
-Pay off other debts that carry higher interest rates such as credit cards

If any of these scenarios seem to match your situation, please feel free to contact me to discuss how a mortgage loan refinance can benefit you.

JS Realty Keith Harris
Keith Harris
NMLS # 838973

Keith Harris
Senior Loan Officer
Intercoastal Mortgage Company
Direct: (703) 259-0788
Cell:    (703) 395-6601





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The JS Realty Team – not only serving Brambleton, serving all of Northern Virginia.


What Fees are Associated with a Mortgage Loan?

There are a number of fees that a borrower may encounter when finalizing a mortgage loan for a real estate purchase or a refinance. We’ve compiled a list of fees that are part of the settlement for a JS Realty Mortgage application form with a calculator and house.mortgage loan. The fees can be separated into several categories: lender fees, escrow deposits, prepaid items, title fees, government recording and transfer fees, and additional settlement fees.


-Origination Charges – these are comprised of fees charge by the lender to process and underwrite the loan
-Discount Points – these are charges to the borrower for a particular loan interest rate or certain loan program
-Credit Report – fees charged to run a credit report for the borrower
Appraisal fee – cost to have a licensed professional provide a market value of the property
-Flood Certification Fee – this is needed to determine if your property is located in a flood zone and if flood insurance is needed on the property


Daily Interest Charges – interest is paid from date of settlement through the end of the same calendar month
Homeowner’s Insurance – initial premium is paid upfront
Mortgage Insurance (if necessary)


Property Tax Fee JS RealtyMost loans require the borrower to pay for property taxes and homeowner’s insurance on a monthly basis as part of the mortgage loan payment. When property taxes are due (typically twice a year), and homeowner’s insurance (annually) the lender will pay the bills out of the escrow funds.


-Settlement fee – Charged by the settlement company for preparation of closing documents and conducting the closing.
-Lender’s title insurance – cost of insurance covering the amount of the loan. This is required by the lender and covers title issues for the life of the loan.
-Owner’s title insurance – OPTIONAL coverage for the owner’s to protect against any tile claims on the property. This policy will protect the owner’s forever.


JS Realty Calculating Money Finance FeeGovernment Recording Fee – fee charged by government to record the deed of trust
Transfer Taxes – basically a sales tax that is paid to the local government as well as the state government


There can be several “additional” fees associated with a loan. Here are a few:

-Pest Inspection
-HOA/Condo Transfer fees
-HOA/Condo dues

JS Realty Keith Harris
Keith Harris
NMLS # 838973

If you have any questions about a loan, or would like clarification on any of these charges or fees associated with mortgage loans, please contact our preferred Lender, Keith Harris at Intercoastal Mortgage Company.



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The JS Realty Team – not only serving Brambleton, serving all of Northern Virginia.