Posts by New Leaf Team


Greetings and Happy 2023!

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and New Year's! It appeared as though we may get a bit of snow although that didn't seem to pan out. On the other hand, it certainly felt like winter, especially with the power out.

To be a bit more personal than usual, I will say that I'm very hopeful and optimistic for 2023. Last year wasn't the greatest, losing my Father in March and Mother-in-Law in October, 2 bouts of Covid, and assisting with 3 family moves. That in the wake of trying to help steer a real estate company, a local non-profit (ARC of the Piedmont), and navigate family issues through 2 years of Covid proved to be something (I honestly can't find the adjective that fits).  However, I also carry an abundance of joyful memories and for that I am eternally grateful.

We have also been living in interesting times (by some this is considered a curse) for the real estate business. Covid, RSV, the flu, inflation, talk of a recession, pipeline constraints, and interest rates have all been topics of discussion and concern. Who would have predicted when Covid first shut everything down that 2020 would end up being a great year in real estate followed by a very robust 2021 as well? 2022 began strong although limited by the persistent low inventory challenges we have faced for an extended period. However, the market did significantly slow beginning in the late summer and remained comparatively slow through the fall. Reasons for that include limited inventory, buyer fatigue, concerns of a recession, rising interest rates, and concerns about price escalation over the last few years.

So, what do I see going forward? Being an eternal optimist, I do not see the sky falling at all despite what you may read in the news. So here are my predictions for 2023 (please remember my crystal ball broke some time ago). While the market may remain a bit slow early in the year, it will pick up significantly as the year progresses. Inflation and interest rates will both come down adding to consumer confidence. Inventory in most areas, while improving, will remain low continuing the challenges for buyers and countering the pressure for home price declines. Will my prediction be accurate? Yes, no, and maybe. Every market, neighborhood, and home is different, so how the market may impact your plans or decisions needs to be analyzed individually. If you do have questions, please reach out to us. We would be delighted to help you make the best decision for your specific needs.

I hope you have a wonderful 2023 and I look forward to seeing you again soon.

Rives Bailey

Kelly Faillace, John Farmer, & Christy Fiebert


Before you start packing up your home, it's important to remember that there are certain things you need to leave behind for the new owners. Below is a quick checklist of things you will want to make sure you don't pack with your belongings.


  • Any personal property specified in your contract, this includes items that the buyer specifically wrote into the contract and anything that is part of the standard language of the contract. For example, the standard Virginia Real Estate Contract includes all fixtures located in the property on the date of the contract ratification, so make sure you read through your contract closely and chat with your agent if you have any questions.

  • Owner's manuals and warranty information for any appliances you are leaving in the house.

  • Garage door openers.

  • Keys to the house, storage sheds, and any other locked space inside the home.

  • Codes to the security alarm or any coded door locks. Don't forget the contact information for any security companies that you utilize.

  • Contact information for your homeowners' association or condo board.

  • Access to smart home devices. Make sure that any smart devices left in the home are reset for the new homeowners to connect their accounts. Be sure your accounts and data are fully disconnected and wiped from the device. Leave instruction manuals or app information for the smart devices.

  • Numbers to local utility companies and a list of local service providers. Moving to a new area often means finding new lawn care services, plumbers, electricians, etc. If you have a favorite local business that you're sad to be leaving behind, give them the gift of sharing their information with the new homeowners. The new owners and your local businesses will appreciate your efforts.

  • A roll of toilet paper in each bathroom and paper towels in the kitchen. It's a little thing that the new owners will be grateful for.


If you have any questions about buying or selling a home or the real estate process in general, call New Leaf Team at (434) 214-6121. Rives, Kelly, and John will be glad to help answer your questions.  


If you're thinking of selling your home in the future, it can help to make some improvements or upgrades before you go on the market. But not all upgrades will help your home sell at a better price.

Here are a few places where you can focus your money and efforts to improve your ability to sell your home.

Curb appeal: First impressions are important, and the first thing buyers will see of your home is the front yard. Take care of your yard and be sure garden beds are tended to and everything is mowed, trimmed, and edged. Potted plants are a great way to add a pop of color to your yard.

Paint: Painting your home can be a relatively inexpensive DIY project and can give your home a whole new look. Painting the exterior and the front door can be a great way to add more curb appeal and painting the interior to a fresh, neutral color can help buyers envision the home with their belongings inside.

Steam clean the carpets: Even the nicest carpets are bound to get stained over time. This is especially true if you have pets or children at home. A clean carpet will be softer and more inviting.

Replace your HVAC filters: Your HVAC filters should be replaced regularly to keep your system functioning at its best, but if you can't remember the last time you replaced the filters now would be a good time to do so.

Fix any roof issues: Roof issues are high on the list of things that buyers will want repaired before they purchase a home. Take the time to have a qualified roofer come out and make repairs or replace the roof (if necessary) before you go on the market.

Replace broken windows: Broken windows can age a home and make it look less desirable. Replace the broken windows, fix any cosmetic damage, and make sure all of your windows are sparkling clean before you list.

Tidy your home: Before you go on the market is a great time to start decluttering for your move. If there are items that take up a lot of room but aren't needed on a regular basis, it may be worth investing in a storage unit to keep them out of the home while you're on the market.


These are just a few of the more common suggestions that your Realtor® may make before you list your home on the market.  At New Leaf Team, our agents will do a pre-listing walkthrough to help determine the value of your home and see if there are repairs or improvement projects that we recommend you take on before listing.

If you have questions about listing your home and projects that would improve your value, call New Leaf Team at (434) 214-6121. We look forward to working with you.


Is buying a home one of your 2023 Goals? Even if you're not ready to start house searching just yet, here are a few things that you should be thinking about now to make your home buying process easier...

  • Increase your credit score. Before you start searching for houses, agents, and lenders, work on increasing your credit score which can improve your ability to get a great mortgage. Credit scores range between 200 and 850, with scores above 620 considered desirable for obtaining a mortgage. (For tips on improving your credit score, check out our blog post Improving Your Credit Score)
  • Figure out how much home you can afford. Take a look at your monthly income and your monthly bills to see how much money you can spend on a mortgage. Don't forget to calculate for things like homeowner's insurance, utility bills, property taxes, and a budget for home improvements and repairs. Once you figure out what you'd be comfortable spending, you'll be better prepared to talk to a lender.
  • Think about your wants versus your needs. When thinking about your ideal home, don't forget to consider commute time, school districts, distance to friends or family, and neighborhood attractions in your search list. If you work in a city and value a short commute time, you may have to sacrifice having a larger backyard. But being down the road from a neighborhood park may offer a great compromise. Start looking at homes online and see what features you like, love, and absolutely do not want. You may think you want a certain style of home only to realize that it does not work for your family. And consider what home improvement projects you'd be willing to tackle yourself versus the ones that you would need to hire help on.
  • Find a lender. Take the time to talk to different lenders to find the best mortgage for your particular situation. Different lenders may be able to offer you different loan packages or rates, so shop around to make sure you understand the process and what is available to you.
  • Get a pre-qualification or pre-approval. Once you're ready to start searching for homes, make sure you get a pre-qualification or pre-approval letter from your lender. Many real estate agents will want to see that pre-qualification before you start your home search so they can stay within your budget. A pre-qualification letter will be a basic overview of your ability to get a loan and can be done without submitting all of your financial paperwork. A pre-approval will be more in-depth and will require you to submit bank statements, tax returns, credit scores, and other financial information to your lender. While neither letter guarantees that you will get a loan, they are a reliable indicator of your ability to buy a home.
  • Speak with real estate agents. Get recommendations from family, friends, and coworkers. Take the time to contact a few local agents and see if they would be a good fit for you. You and your agent may be working closely together for several months, so you want to make sure it's someone you communicate well with and get along with.


Once you have a lender and a real estate agent to work with, you're ready to start your home search! Remember, buying a home is likely to be one of the biggest financial moves you will make in your life. Make sure you prepare yourself for the process and find a lender and real estate agent that can support you through it. 

Have questions on the next steps to take? Call our team at (434) 214-6121 to learn more about the process and how New Leaf Team can help you with your home search.  


Winter weather can be hard on your home. Stay warm, save money, and protect your home from winter's worst with some of these reminders...

Check Your Trees

Before any rough winter storms hit, do an inspection of the trees around your property to make sure there are no dead trees in danger of falling or branches that are up against your house. Scan your property for branches that are growing over the house, garage, driveway, or power lines that could cause problems in winter storms.

Clean Your Gutters

Once the leaves are off the trees, give your gutter a good cleaning. When gutters back up, they overflow which can cause deterioration on the sides of your home and foundation, water leaks into the basement, and many other problems.

Have Your Chimney & Fireplace Cleaned

If you have a fireplace and chimney, make sure you get a thorough inspection before you start using it for the season. A good chimney sweep will make sure it is safe to use and identify any maintenance problems you may have. It's also a good idea to start ordering your firewood and store it in a safe place in the yard, away from your home.

Check Your HVAC System

Before the weather turns cold, have your system inspected by a reputable HVAC contractor. It's far better to find HVAC problems in the fall than on the first cold day of winter. And make sure you're replacing your filters regularly to keep the system functioning its best.

Test Your Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

It's always good to test your systems twice a year to make sure they are working properly and communicating to each other. Most house fires happen in the wintertime, so make sure your safety devices are working properly before an issue occurs.

Take Care of Your Pipes

Once cold weather sets in, make sure all your outdoor hoses are disconnected and properly stored. You should also cover the outside faucets with insulated covers which can keep frozen water outside the house and not let it into your pipes. Any exposed pipes that run along a wall in an unheated area (common in basements and crawl spaces) can be a potential hazard. Invest in some pipe insulation and keep an eye on those pipes when the temperatures drop below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

Keep the Cold Outside

Go through your home and check for any drafts that may be coming in. Common places to find issues are window frames, fireplaces, dryer vents, and any other spot where something inside your home passes to the outside. Caulk any cracks or crannies to keep the cold out and enjoy the benefit of energy savings too.


Preparing for the cold days of winter may not be one of the most fun aspects of home ownership, but it is one of the most important. Taking some time to prepare your home before the temperatures drop can make a big difference in staying warm and protecting your home this winter.

If you have questions about winterizing your home, finding the right contractors to help with projects, or other questions about real estate and home ownership, our team would be glad to help! Call us at (434) 214-6121 to speak with an agent about how we can help.

We hope you enjoy your winter!


Before you start your home search, it is beneficial to talk with a mortgage broker to learn about what kind of mortgage you would be approved for. They will look at your income, credit score, and outstanding debts (including any loans and credit cards) among other factors to determine how much you can comfortably spend on a mortgage and what price range you should be searching in. 

When applying for a mortgage, consistency is the name of the game. There are a few things that you should keep in mind to make sure you don't derail your home buying process along the way.

  • Don't apply for new credit cards or loans. Each time you apply for new credit, you are seen as a greater credit risk, at least temporarily. Applying for new credit cards and loans can ding your credit score enough to hurt your eligibility for a mortgage or bump up your interest rates. This also includes co-signing for a loan with someone else. 

  • Don't close any credit cards. Credit utilization is an important aspect of your credit score and looks at how close to your credit limit you are on all lines of credit.

    For example, if you have credit card A with a $10,000 limit and a $5,000 balance and credit card B with a $10,000 limit and $0 balance, your credit utilization is 25%. If you close credit card B, your credit utilization becomes 50%. This could significantly impact your mortgage rates. 

  • Don't deposit large amounts of cash into your bank accounts before speaking with your lender. Banks and lenders want to see that you have the money to pay your mortgage each month and where that money is coming from. Adding in a large transfer of cash from an unknown source will make the underwriters question your finances and could delay or derail your purchase.

  • Don't make any large purchases. While it may be tempting to buy new furniture or appliances before closing so you can have them delivered to your new home right when you move in, this could negatively impact your ability to close on time. Large purchases could impact your credit utilization and opening a new credit card to receive special financing offers, could ding your credit score. It's better to save your major purchases until the sale is officially closed.

  • Only change jobs strategically. Mortgage lenders will look at your employment history to see what kind of income you bring in monthly to make sure you can afford your mortgage. If you're applying for a new job in the same field or already have a job offer in hand, they may consider the move less risky. But waiting to change jobs until after your mortgage is closed may be the better option.

The most important thing to remember when applying for your mortgage is to keep in regular communication with your lender and ask them before making any decisions that may impact your credit. Their goal is to help you make it to closing with a mortgage that you can afford. 

If you're ready to start your home search, our team would be glad to help. We can recommend local lenders to work with based on your needs and help you start your search when you are ready. Call us at (434) 214-6121 to talk with Kelly, John, or Rives about your home ownership goals. 


For most home buyers, the search begins online before ever talking to an agent. In fact, in 2020, 97% of all homebuyers surveyed used the internet in their search for a home. That's why taking high quality photographs is one of the most important steps of selling a home. 

New Leaf Team is very lucky to have an agent who is also a professional photographer on our team. Kelly takes beautiful photos of our listings and will work with you to make sure we get top notch photos of your home. But before she walks through the door with her camera, there's a few things you should do to help prepare for your home's photo shoot.

  • Tidy the yard: make sure your yard is cleaned up with freshly mown grass, cleaned flowerbeds, and yard waste disposed of. Make sure all toys, bikes, and other items are stored away and make sure your patio set is clean and inviting.

  • Turn on the lights: while the photographer will use flash in photos, it always helps to have bright lighting in the room. Make sure there are no missing or burned-out bulbs and open your blinds and curtains to let natural light in.

  • Make sure there is open space: a home that feels cozy in person can look jumbled in photos. Make sure there is room to walk around furniture and consider putting larger items in storage while your home is on the market. Counters should be 75% empty and your fridge should have minimal paperwork and magnets on it.

  • Clean your home & make it shine: the camera will magnify grime in your home. Go through each room and take time to dust, clean floors, and make sure each room shines its brightest.

  • Snap pictures with your own camera: take a few photos with your camera or cell phone to see what they may look like before the photographer arrives. This will help you see what changes you can make.

  • Add color: if you think your rooms are looking dull, add a pop of color with a plant, bright vase, or colorful blanket on a couch.

  • Keep the home in shape: buyers who like the house online will expect to see it in similar condition when they come to visit. Do your best to keep it clean and tidy while on the market.

If you're ready to put your home on the market, our team would love to work with you! Call our agents at (434) 214-6121 to discuss your goals. 



Closing on your new home is an exciting and often hectic time. But you should always make time for a final walk-through to make sure your new home is in the condition that you expect it to be. Depending on what time you have your closing scheduled for, your agent may recommend that you do your final walk-through the evening before or morning of closing. 

Here is a list of things that you should look at when you walk-through the house: 

  • Make sure all of the Seller's personal property and debris has been removed. Check every room and spaces like the basement, attic, and crawl spaces to make sure nothing has been left behind. 
  • Check that all the repairs you've requested have been made. The Seller's Agent should be able to provide you with a list of receipts for work that was done by contractors or for new items that were purchased. 
  • Look over the property to make sure no major, unexpected changes have been made since you last visited the home. 
  • Check that all items of personal property included in your contract are still on site. This includes items you may have requested (such as refrigerators, washer, dryer) and items that are written into your standard contract. The standard contract in Virginia includes items like blinds, ceiling fans, curtain rods, audio-video mounting hardware, mailboxes, exterior plants, smoke detectors, and more.  
  • Make sure all appliances are operating correctly and are in the same condition as when you last visited the property. Don't forget to include your hot water heater and HVAC systems in these checks.
  • Walk through the yard to make sure no major changes have been made to plants or shrubs, unless you have been notified in advance. 
  • Look for the garage door opener and other remotes for appliances in the home.
  • See if they have left instruction books and warranty information on appliances and fixtures. Most agents will instruct sellers to leave them out on a table or kitchen counter where they can be easily found.
  • Make sure all window screens and storm windows are in place or stored somewhere in the house.
  • Check to see if your doorbell, alarms, and intercom systems are working properly. 

Of course, all of these items are dependent on the terms of your contract. If your contract says that an appliance conveys in an as-is condition or that a certain shrub in the backyard does not convey, your personal checklist should reflect that. 

Your agent who attends the walk-through with you will also help you go through the list and check on items to make sure everything is in the condition that you expected things to be in. If repairs are not made or things that were supposed to be left behind have been taken, your agent will want to get in touch with the Seller's agent quickly to rectify the situation. Sometimes this can be in the form of a credit at closing, an amount held in escrow until the situation is fixed, or even purchasing a new item to replace something that is missing or damaged. 

Your agent will be your guide through the walk-through, just as they have been throughout your real estate transaction. 

If you have more questions about what to expect during a real estate transaction, call New Leaf Team at (434) 214-6121. One of our licensed agents will be glad to answer your questions. 

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