April 30, 2018

Loudoun County Offers Homeownership Grants for Employees

If you work for the Loudoun County Government and are wanting to purchase a home in Loudoun County, you may be eligible for the Loudoun County’s Public Employee Homeownership Grant Program (PEG).  The program offers a grant
of a secured loan to employees of the County of Loudoun, Loudoun County Public Schools and Courts
and Constitutional officers. Loudoun County Department of Family Services (DFS) oversees the program.

Loans are forgivable at 20% of the loan amount annually over a five year period, providing the employee does not leave employment, sell the home or no longer occupies the residence. Repayment of remaining non-forgiven funds will become due and payable to the County.  The PEG Grant amount is $10,000 for the purchase of a home located in Loudoun County for applicants that meet all eligibility requirements. Funds are limited and first come/first served. There is no guarantee additional funds will be allocated once fully utilized.

For more information call me and I would be happy to assist you on your next purchase.

Lisa Cameron

Keller Williams



Posted in Buyer Blogs
April 28, 2018

Mortgage Rates On The Rise

Mortgage Rates Climb to Highest Level in Over Four Years

Home Mortgage Rates April 2018


April 26, 2018

Mortgage rates increased for the third consecutive week, climbing 11 basis points to 4.58 percent. Rates are now at their highest level since the week of August 22, 2013. Higher Treasury yields, driven by rising commodity prices, more Treasury issuances and the steady stream of solid economic news, are behind the uptick in rates over the past week.

Despite the increase in borrowing costs, demand for home purchase credit remains solid. The Mortgage Bankers Association reported in their latest mortgage applications survey that activity was up 11 percent from a year ago.

Posted in Mortgages
April 26, 2018

Metallic Kitchen Cabinets

Metallic Kitchen Cabinets

I found this modern painting technique on Pinterest I just had to share. What a fabulous way to update tired kitchen and bathroom cabinets, or any piece of furniture for that matter. Add a fresh and modern look to tired wood cabinets with brushed steel painting techniques by Fusion Mathew Mead Studio Paints.


Metallic Kitchen Cabinets   metallic kitchen cabinet paint

 Here is a link for painting instructions


Posted in Seller Blogs
April 7, 2018

Financing a Purchase When Your Home Hasn't Sold Yet

Lender of the month

Posted in Buyer Blogs
April 5, 2018

Key Do's and Don't


Home loans fall through for all kinds of reasons, especially when homebuyers don’t realize how their spending and saving habits affect the loans they qualify for. Here are some tips to make your clients aware of in the house hunting process that can help prevent failed loans.

1. Don’t make large purchases or acquire additional credit lines
If your clients buy new cars, furniture or home appliances, open new lines of credit or make any other large purchase, their debt-to-income ratios will change. Remind your clients about the importance of being economical, particularly through the house hunting and home loan process.
2. Don’t change jobs
A change in compensation or job industry may affect your clients’ ability to qualify. Soon before closing, it’s not uncommon for lenders to call a client’s place of employment to verify that he or she still works there and has the same job title that’s listed on their loan application.
3. Do keep a paper trail
Your clients should keep documentation of any large deposits into their bank accounts. It’s important for them to have copies of all paperwork necessary to prove a financial transaction, including all checks, deposit slips, loan paperwork, forms to liquidate assets, etc. If you have a client who can’t source a large cash deposit that is in his or her bank account, that money can’t be counted toward their loan eligibility.
4. Don’t co-sign
If your clients co-sign with anyone to obtain a line of credit or make a purchase, it will show up on your clients’ credit reports as an additional debt.
Since 1986, we’ve helped more than 500,000 borrowers go home happy. You can count on us to listen your clients’ needs and guide them through the loan process.
Posted in Buyer Blogs
April 5, 2018

Home Remodel Hidden Surprises




You just closed on that super fixer upper in a great neighborhood and you can't wait to start your home improvement project. Soon afterwards you suddenly realize things aren't going as you planned.

Surprise! Your Remodel Just Got Weird

When you chose your home, you knew it needed work. That wasn’t really a shocker, even as the list from the home inspector seemed to go on and on forever. But now that you’re about to dig in and tackle those projects, now is really the best time to prepare for as much as you can. The older your house, the more surprises you’ll likely find — time has a way of doing that to homes.

Houses constructed more than about 30 years ago were largely built to whatever code seemed fancy in the moment. It wasn’t until 1997 that the International Code Council published the first edition of the International Building Code, which has been updated and reissued every three years since. Before that, many homes were built professionally, but when it came time to remodel anything there were zero standards to hold anyone to. Basically you can kind of think of your home as a time capsule of the most terrifying variety.

Or, you know, it might be totally straightforward. There’s literally no way to know until you get started. So, are you ready?

A Few Surprises to Watch For

No matter how well you think you know your house, you should make sure you’ve got a respirator that can filter both lead paint and asbestos, as well as gloves and work clothing that will protect you from anything before you even think about getting started. These things aren’t a small investment, but if you want to do the work yourself, you need to protect yourself just like a pro would. There are so many things that can jump out and bite you during a remodel, this list contains a few of the most common:

Hidden metal, pipes and wiring. If you’re taking out walls or even taking out tiles with the hopes of replacing them with something more modern, you may discover that your wall interiors are a whole other world. Behind your kitchen’s wet wall, there’s a maze of pipes that snake around to nowhere. Your bathroom has random metal plates just stuck in the wall under some tiles. And, this wire… it goes nowhere. It should go without saying that you should always use tools that have non-conductive handles when you’re working in walls and behind objects that you can’t see through.

Surprise mold and pests. Surprise! You have mold and termites! Wait, that’s a bad thing… hopefully you had a home inspection and a termite inspection that would have found this problem ahead of time, but if you’ve owned your house a few years, pests and mold certainly could have popped up over time. Termites will likely require professional treatment (check the HomeKeepr community for a great pest control pro!), mold is a mixed bag. Some molds are very dangerous for people to breathe, but others are just kind of always in the environment.

At this point, you need to put all the tools away and have a mold test done. While you’re waiting for the results, figure out where the source of moisture that’s keeping this part of your house moist enough to let the various flora and fauna thrive is coming from and repair that problem right away. You may have to adjust your construction budget, but there’s no vessel sink that’s worth ignoring a termite-eaten sill plate.

Dry. Rot. Dry rot comes from similar conditions as mold and pests, but there’s not a pest or mold around. It’s just that your house is sort of rotting. This is not awesome, but it’s an easier fix than some things. Depending on the extent and location, you may want to bring in a structural engineer to assess the amount of repair that’s going to be needed to get your house back into shape.

A really good handyman or general contractor can take it from there. Structural repairs are not really a DIY situation, but if the dry rot is on outside trim pieces or somewhere your engineer doesn’t think is going to influence the way your house functions, go ahead and fix the source of the damage, replace the damaged boards, seal them and get back on track.

Poorly done prior work. This is what you’re hoping to avoid with your current remodel, so take photos as a sad remember that someday, someone else will Instagram your poorly done remodel if you don’t take this seriously. Whatever you uncover, you’ll need to correct it before you move forward. Don’t put good repairs over bad ones, you might as well not bother to remodel your home at all.

Really gross stuff. Homes that have had less than perfect owners or tenants often have less than perfect secrets. Sometimes they verge on the horrific when it comes to the gross out factor. Anything from lively, active pest infestations to evidence of old pest infestations that were completely out of control could be hiding under those layers of wallpaper. It’s alarming what an insect can hide under and still manage to completely disguise itself. (If you find something of this level, you’ll know — call a pest control pro immediately, you do not want to DIY this!)

Really illegal stuff. Sometimes a fixer upper or a repo has had a pretty sketchy history. Illegal activities, especially related to drugs, are not uncommon reasons for someone to lose their home. Most blogs on the topic of surprises in remodels won’t touch on this, but this is a very important consideration if you don’t know anything about the house. The very last thing you want is a needle with an unknown substance and origin falling on you from a drop ceiling you’re taking out piece by piece.

If you find drugs or paraphernalia during your remodel, call your local police department (not 911) for help with proper disposal. Make sure you have all the paperwork with you that proves you just bought the house and make it clear that you want to surrender these things you’ve found during your remodel that are absolutely and in no way related to you. Once it’s all gone, it’s all gone and you can move on like nothing happened. Yet another reason to wear gloves and protective clothing.

Really historical stuff. So as not to send you out on your remodeling adventure on a bad note, let’s talk about something fun you might find. Sometimes, if you’re really lucky, you’ll find some neat historical stuff. You probably won’t see it in an easy to access place, but if you have some built-in cabinets that you’re trying to refinish, for example, make sure you look under and beneath all the drawers. Subfloors might yield coins of unusual age, basements and attics can have all sorts of treasures in them.

These things might not make the Antiques Roadshow, but they’re fun mementos to keep around and they’ll help you tell the story of your home, assuming they’re fit for mixed company.

The Biggest Surprise of All May Be Your Project’s Timeline

Even if you don’t encounter mold or roaches or magazines from the 1950s during your remodel, you could come across the biggest surprise of them all: just how much time it really takes to do a proper remodel and still work a full time job. If you’re finding that you just can’t make yourself pick up a hammer or a paintbrush after a 9 to 5 at the office, consider hiring a local contractor. As a local Realtor I have acquired an 'A List" of reputable contractors and would be happy to share with you. Just email me at frontdoorteam@gmail.com

Posted in Home Projects
March 21, 2018

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Posted in Buyer Blogs
March 21, 2018

Willowsford Aldie VA

Lisa Cameron Buyer Representative Willowsford VA

Lisa Cameron Keller Williams Your Personal Tour Guide To Willowsford Aldie VA

If you are looking for an outside sales representative to introduce you to Willowsford Aldie VA community look no further than Lisa Cameron. With over 13 years experience as a full time real estate agent Loudoun County VA and having represented many buyers, I will personally walk you through the various communities, identity your price point, and direct you towards the builders that will best suit your families needs.

As your buyer representative I will assist in option selections, advise on decorative trends in the area and what will have the best resale value. Together we will review pros and cons of lot options, selection of local lenders and settlement companies, and when it comes time to make an offer I will review and negotiate terms of the contract and act as your advocate with the builders. I will schedule pre drywall inspections with a 3rd party home inspector, and represent your interest throughout the buying process and assure a smooth transaction to settlement . My services are for FREE as they are included in the builders base price.

Why wouldn't you want an advocate representing your interest on your next home purchase?

For Buyer Representation Contact:

Lisa Cameron

Keller Williams



Click here to see Willowsford Homes For Sale

or preveiw community information below

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Posted in Buyer Blogs
Feb. 8, 2018

Dreaming of Spring: Garden Planning 101


Start With Compatible Plants

Many first time gardeners end up disappointed and frustrated because they find some kind of plant at the nursery or outside the market and decide they want to put it in a particular spot in their garden. But no matter what they do, that plant won’t thrive and eventually, it just dies. What went wrong?

The first thing you should do is learn what your USDA Hardiness Zone is by clicking here. Next, you can check the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center’s Climate Maps to learn more about your area’s rainfall patterns to determine if you’re on the dry side, in which case you’ll need to irrigate, or pretty rainy, which will require you figure out how to keep many of your plants from getting too wet.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for beautiful landscaping that you don’t really need to touch again, native plants are seeing a huge resurgence across the country. They’re stubborn, sturdy and need very little upkeep. And because they’re native to your location, they’ve evolved to withstand whatever it is that your climate can throw at them. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center maintains a list of businesses that sell native plants and seeds here.

Just how many of these plants do you need? Well, to answer that, we’ll need to draw a garden plan. Let’s play with it a bit.

Basic Garden Planning

Although there are apps for garden planning, one of the easiest ways to do this efficiently is to go back to the old fashioned paper and pencil method. It’s simple, you don’t need a lot of tools and it’ll give you a very good visual idea of how your plants will fit together when they’re fully mature.

What You’ll Need:

  • – Tape Measure
  • – Grid Paper
  • – Pencil

1. Measure the areas you intend to turn into garden or landscaped spaces. Don’t stress too much if your measurements aren’t perfect, as long as you’re within about six inches, you should be ok.

2. Assign a value to each square on your grid paper. One square foot to one grid square is an easy one to remember and makes it easy for others to interpret your drawing.

3. Draw your garden plot on the grid paper, noting anything that might influence plant growth such as partial shade conditions caused by nearby trees, large rocks that make an area unplantable and so forth. This will be important when it comes to choosing plants later. Don’t forget to note the locations of walls or other major structures.

4. Lightly sketch in the plants you want to include, at their fully grown size. So, for example, if you’re planting Buddleia, otherwise known as butterfly bush, and the one you have in mind right now is about a foot tall and maybe six inches wide, you need to imagine it grown. That bush will grow up to about six feet wide and tall. Even if it looks a little empty now, don’t be tempted to overcrowd your garden, that’ll only invite serious fungal and bacterial disease.

5. Set the drawing aside for a day or two. When you come back to it, make sure you’re really happy with it. Look it over and ensure you didn’t accidentally place a taller plant where it’ll block much-needed sunlight from a smaller plant or even blackout a window in your home.

Caution: Before you run off and buy plants or seeds, make sure that you’ve tested your soil and amended it with organic materials as needed. We’ll cover that in an upcoming blog. A drawing is only a map, it’s the first step to creating a successful garden plot.

My First Garden: Edible or Ornamental?

Home gardening is experiencing a huge comeback, as younger gardeners realize the potential benefits of gardening that extend far beyond being able to grow their own food. It’s a great way to get a little outside exercise, it lowers your stress level, and it can get the whole family involved in an activity that promises big rewards. But often, first time gardeners are overwhelmed by choice. There are so many plants, so many catalogs, so many types of gardens!

It’s ok. Take a breath and get away from Pinterest for a minute.

Both edible and ornamental gardens can be delightful and easy to manage, if you choose compatible plants and focus on their individual needs. Some plants are much more disease and trouble-prone than others, and some are simply nigh-on impossible to grow in some areas. You really don’t have to choose between edibles and ornamentals, though. Plenty of ornamentals and edibles are highly compatible, a classic example is tomatoes and French marigolds.

There aren’t really any rules when it comes to what you put in your garden. Just make sure you space each plant far enough apart that they don’t have to compete for water or nutrients and you can easily work between rows or clumps. A plan is a great place to start, though, so you know just how many plants or seeds to buy.

Posted in Home Projects
Feb. 8, 2018

Your Need to Know Guide to the Debt to Income Ratio

Debt to Income Ratio

What is My Debt to Income Ratio?

If you’re not familiar with the term, don’t be shy, it’s one of the most common questions that first time homebuyers have when applying for a mortgage. That’s because there aren’t a lot of places where it’s obvious that your debt to income ratio is being used to determine your ability to get credit. It’s sort of figured out behind the scenes and you’re none the wiser.

At a very basic level, your debt to income ratio is simply what it sounds like, all your long term, semi-permanent debt compared to your current income. Usually your mortgage lender will do this as a monthly comparison to make it easy, but the ratio’s the same whether you compare month to month or year to year. If you have $1,200 a month in debt and $5,000 a month in income, that’s the same as if you had $14,400 in yearly debt and $60,000 in yearly income. Both come out to 24 percent, which is a pretty good debt to income ratio.

But, of course, it can’t be that easy, can it.

What’s Included in a Debt to Income Ratio?

Things that are included in your debt to income ratio are secured loans like a car loan or a boat loan, which are sort of guaranteed by the property that you’ve borrowed the money to purchase; unsecured loans like credit cards and lines of credit; student loans and any debt you’ve co-signed.

Let me repeat that last thing. Any debt you’ve cosigned is part of this figure. So, if you agreed to cosign a loan for your sister 20 years ago and she’s still paying on it, that’s still going to count against you, even though you’ve totally forgotten about it. If you’re on a joint account with your ex-husband, you’re still on the hook when it comes to debt to income.

Things that aren’t included, that are almost always assumed to be, are items like your car insurance, your utility bills, your cable bills, subscriptions and so forth. Basically, if you can cancel the payment at will (whether or not there are serious consequences like having no lights or being able to watch Game of Thrones), it’s probably not going to be included on your credit report unless you fail to pay as agreed. While you’re at it, it might be a good idea to go ahead and get yourself a credit report from a reputable site like MyFICO.com, the Fair Isaac website, just so you can see what is actually reporting.

Adding It All Up

Figuring your debt to income ratio is pretty easy, the hardest part is figuring out what counts and what doesn’t. Just add up your monthly expenses and divide by your monthly gross income, before any taxes, insurance, 401k withdrawal and the like come out. There you go. That’s your debt to income ratio. Now we can do some stuff with it!

There are three major programs that most home buyers utilize across most of the United States. These are the FHA, VA and Conventional mortgages. Each has its own requirements and debt to income ratio ceilings. Some are more complicated than others.

FHA and Front End and Back End Ratios

For FHA, there are two kinds of debt to income ratios to keep in mind. One is called the front-end ratio, the other is, unoriginally, named the back-end ratio. The front-end ratio is only your potential future housing debt; the back-end ratio includes all your debts. With that in mind, the chart below shows how you’d look to an FHA lender as of the writing of this blog.

The first number in the column labeled “Maximum Qualifying Ratios (%)” is the front-end ratio, the second is the back-end ratio. Compensating factors can be thought of as other things you bring to the table to make you into a really awesome borrower. Since you have little to no experience at this mortgage thing, your FHA lender is understandably afraid of your eventually missing a payment in the 30 years you’re going to have a relationship, so they want evidence to show that you’re a stand-up kind of person.

FHA loan debt-to-income guidelines. Source: HUD Handbook 4000.1

Fannie Mae and DTI

Conventional loans are a bit easier. Fannie Mae is the principal agency that guarantees what’s known as a “conventional” or “conforming” loan. Fannie has siblings like Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae, but they’re at the movies right now and we’re not going to involve them in the conversation. For our purposes, conventional loans are all about Fannie Mae.

In general, conventional loans tend to be more difficult to land, in part because they have more rigid income to debt requirements. For borrowers with credit scores of 680 or better and less than a 25 percent down payment, Fannie won’t allow more than a 36 percent debt to income ratio (but she only uses the one number, so at least it’s not more complicated than that). If your credit score is above 700 and your down payment is less than 25 of the home’s price, she’ll allow a 45 percent debt to income ratio.

When it comes to Fannie, bringing more money to the table will absolutely catch her eye. She believes firmly that all things that glitter are definitely gold. That magic number is 25 percent of the sales price of your home. So, if you’re floating in cash, but have a higher debt to income ratio or a little bit lower credit score, you could win brownie points this way.

Veterans Get More Leeway

If you’re a military vet and you’ve not used your VA mortgage benefits, you may be wondering about cashing in that particular chip. When it comes to the debt to income question, it’s a harder one to answer. Generally speaking, the VA wants to see a debt to income ratio below 41 percent, but like with other qualifiers under VA, the rules aren’t really all that hard and fast.

VA loans tend to be a lot more flexible in general, and debt to income ratios are no exception. Although all the loans mentioned in this blog can be manually underwritten, the guidelines only allow for so much deviation outside the rules. VAs give a lot more wiggle room, so if you’re at a 45 percent debt to income ratio, for example, it might not be out of the question if everything else is in line.

Time to Go Apply What You’ve Learned

Figuring out your debt to income ratio is just one of the very first steps you should take on your path to getting a mortgage. Once you can see how much each of your debts affects your ability to get a home loan, you can either refinance those debts into loans with better terms or work extra hard to pay them down before approaching a mortgage lender.

When you’re ready, or if you have any questions about your debt to income ratio, it’s easy to get a quick answer with HomeKeepr. Your Realtor has already recommended some trusted mortgage pros in the community, just log in to make a connection that will make your home buying experience an easy one.

Posted in Buyer Blogs