Home Prep for Cooler Weather

With the weather turning cooler outside (at least at night), now is a great time to get moving on some preventative maintenance to prepare your home for the chilly weather before it arrives.

Check for Peeling Paint


Inspect exterior walls to see if any paint is peeling or blistering on the house or outbuildings. Peeling paint means that the existing paint film can no longer adequately protect the siding of the building. Lower humidity and cooler (not yet cold) temperatures make fall a good time to paint the exterior of your home.

Gutter Check

Regularly clean gutters and downspouts. Make sure all drainage areas are unblocked by leaves and debris. Consider installing gutter guards to make the job a lot easier.

Caulk Windows

Be sure to caulk around windows and doorframes to prevent heat from escaping. Caulking and sealing openings is any inexpensive and easy-to-do maintenance job to check off. Openings in the structure can cause water to get in and freeze, resulting in cracks and mold buildup.

Inspect the Roof


Inspect your roof, or hire a licensed professional to examine your roof for wear and tear. If the shingles are curling, buckling or crackling, replace them. If you have a lot of damage, it’s time to replace the entire roof. Also, check the flashing around skylights, pipes and chimneys.

Heating Systems

Have your heating system checked by a licensed heating contractor. Heating systems will use fuel more efficiently, last longer, and have fewer problems if properly serviced. Clean and replace filters in your furnace or heating system.

If you use a hot water system for heating, drain the expansion tank, check the water pressure, and bleed your radiators. 

Seal the Driveway

Inspect your driveway for cracks. Clean out and repair any damage with driveway filler, then coat with a commercial sealer. Sealing the driveway now will help extend the life of the asphalt through the winter and beyond.

Air Circulation

Change the direction of your ceiling fan to create an upward draft that redistributes warm air from the ceiling. Clean your humidifiers regularly during the heating season. Bacteria and spores can develop in a dirty water tank resulting in unclean moisture misting out into your room.

Clean Yard Equipment

Prepare your yard equipment for storage. This includes draining fuel from all gas-operated equipment such as lawn mowers, leaf blowers, and chain saws.

Protect Yourself and Your Home

Each fall, check carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms and put in fresh batteries. A carbon monoxide detector can also save lives if a home has oil or gas-burning appliances, like a furnace or water heater.

What home maintenance items are on your autumn list?


Advocating for Change


Virginia Organizing, a Charlottesville-based organization, is one of the newest recipients of Win Win for a Cause donations. At the close of every sale, my clients will have the opportunity to choose Virginia Organizing to receive a portion of my commission instead of a traditional closing gift. If you don’t already know about Virginia Organizing, now is the time. They work tirelessly to create a more just Virginia, especially for those who have traditionally had little or no voice in our society, and I am proud to support their efforts.

Virginia Organizing is a non-partisan statewide grassroots organization dedicated to challenging injustice by empowering people in local communities to address issues that affect the quality of their life. By building relationships with individuals and groups throughout the state, Virginia Organizing strives to get them to work together, democratically and non-violently, for change.


The issues they address are many and vitally important. To name a few – the treatment of all our citizens with dignity and respect; equal educational opportunity; a sustainable minimum wage; natural resource preservation; and the overall idea that all of our citizens are entitled to the basic necessities of life – nutritious food, adequate housing, affordable quality child care, mental and physical health care, and a secure retirement.


I encourage you to visit Virginia Organizing’s website at http://www.virginia-organizing.org/ for more information about the important work they do to create positive change in our state for all of us!


Hope in the Valley


I am pleased to announce that Valley Hope Counseling Center is one of the newest recipients of Win Win for a Cause donations. At the close of every sale, my clients will have the opportunity to choose Valley Hope to receive a portion of my commission instead of a traditional closing gift.

Valley Hope Counseling Center is a United Way agency and has provided affordable, quality mental health care for the residents of Waynesboro, Staunton, and Augusta County since 1997. Their staff of trained counselors work with patients of all ages and income levels and are committed to the principle that quality care is of greater importance than financial gain.


The important issues they address include anxiety and depression, relationships, domestic violence, sexual abuse and recovery, substance abuse, eating disorders, parenting, issues, grief and loss, and more. In addition to individual therapy, they also offer some group therapy, including anger management. This vital service helps clients cope with life issues and address them in a healthy way, allowing them to lead more productive lives – affecting more than just individuals, benefiting our entire community.

Valley Hope is hosting a Yoga for Hope benefit event October 1st  at Birdseed YOGA at 504 West Main Street. There will be yoga classes from 9a.m to 3p.m. for all ages and skill levels. 100% of the proceeds go to helping Valley Hope continue their amazing work. Hope to see you there!

Please visit Valley Hope Counseling Center’s website for more information about this wonderful organization and the services they provide in our community.


Who Made the List? Newest Recipients Chosen!

Earlier in the month, I challenged my readers to help me pay it forward by nominating local non-profits to be the next recipient of Win Win for a Cause donations. I am pleased to say that we received multiple nominations for deserving charities in our area who are making a positive difference in the lives of our neighbors. 

Instead of choosing just one to add to the list of current Win Win for a Cause recipients, I chose them all. The nominations received were all for wonderful organizations doing meaningful work that serves our community in different areas. The next Win Win for a Cause recipients my clients can choose include mental health and counseling services, grass roots organizations challenging injustices, adult day care resources, a non-profit fighting pediatric cancer, and more.

I created Win Win for a Cause to give back to the community and allow my clients to do the same through an alternative to the traditional closing gift. A portion from my commission of closed real estate transactions is donated to a charity or non-profit of the client’s choosing within 30 days of closing.

To see a full list of current Win Win recipients (including our newest!) click here. Over the next several weeks, we will highlight the individual organizations and the work they are doing to improve the lives of others. We are so thankful for their efforts and I look forward to letting my clients share in the joy of giving back to our community.



Prepping for the Autumn Market

fall sell

Did you know that autumn is a fantastic time to sell a home? In fact, it is second only to summer. On the flip side, now is also a great time to start looking for your new home, as many will be coming available soon.

By the time fall arrives, most individuals and families have returned from summer vacations and are resuming normalcy, whatever that means. The kids are back in school and there are several blissful months free of ‘the holidays.’ This more relaxed time affords time and wonderfully cooler weather to let buyers shop the market.

Virginia, The Valley in particular, is priming for an amazing display of vibrant fall foliage to serve as a beautiful stage to sell your home. (Stay tuned for next week’s list of the best places to take in all of the stunning leaf-changes in Central Virginia.)

Here are some tips to bring the autumn shoppers to your door:

Clean Up the Yard

Rake dead leaves, grass, and debris in your lawn. Weed your beds for a polished look. Cutting bushes and tree limbs will let the sun inside and showcase the exterior of your home. Cut away summer vines and cut down dead flowers.

Create Autumn Curb Appeal

The most popular autumn flowers are chrysanthemums (or mums) and they bloom for a long time. I am also partial to marigolds for fall. Both mums and marigolds are available in yellow, which is the number one home selling color.

Plant them in pots or buy arrangements already in decorative pots. Decorate your steps or walkway with the flowers and accent with pumpkins, gourds, or other types of squash.

Window Care

This is good advice any time of the year. Even if not consciously perceived, dirty or smudged windows leave the impression that a home is uncared for.

Make your windows sparkle – wash inside and out and remove screens and hose off debris.

Check the HVAC

Inspect your HVAC and change the furnace filter to ensure you aren’t circulating less-than-fresh air. Have the HVAC system checked before you need to turn on the heat. If you discover problems with your furnace, it’s better to fix them before your home goes on the market, as it will be discovered by the home inspector.

Fireplace Focus

fall sell fire

Fireplaces bring feelings of warmth, family, and home. They also happen to be a great selling point. If you (likely) haven’t used your fireplace in several months, vacuum it and wash it down. Arrange aromatic wood or even candles in your fireplace.

Aroma Enticement

This is a classic. Make your house smell like a home the buyer wants to come home to in the evenings. Simmer hot apple cider on the stove. Put a tray of cinnamon sticks on the counter, dotted with whole cloves. Fill a bowl with crisp red apples.

Utilize Autumn Accent Colors

Bring autumn inside. Use vibrant, warm throw pillows on your couch, toss a quilt or autumn-colored throw over a chair. Create an autumn centerpiece for the dining room table by arranging pine cones and nuts around orange candles, stick in a few leaves from the yard.

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Let there be Light

Light your home as much as possible. When days get shorter, the sun sets lower in the horizon and casts wider shadows. Pull up the blinds, open the shutters, push back the drapes on every window. Turn on every light in the house, including appliance lights and closet lights. Brighten darker rooms with few windows by placing spotlights on the floor behind furniture or on tabletops.

 What are some of your favorite autumn home decorating ideas?



Help Choose the Next Win Win for a Cause Recipient!


Do you know of a charity or non-profit making a positive impact in The Valley? Help me choose the next addition to the already amazing group of local charities that benefit from Win Win for a Cause donations by leaving a comment.

For any readers new to my endeavor, I created Win Win for a Cause to give back to the community and, hopefully, encourage others to do the same. I vowed to give a portion from my commission of closed real estate transactions to a charity or non-profit of the client’s choosing within 30 days of closing.

I feel that I can make our world a better place. Through Win Win for a Cause, I want my clients to experience that feeling as well. These donations give my clients the opportunity to support a cause that is near and dear to their hearts.

Recipients so far this year include AHIP, Wildlife Center of Virginia, WARM, and the Augusta Regional SPCA. For a full list of current recipients, click here. Scroll through my recent posts to learn more about some of these organizations.

This is your time to bring another charity into the spotlight. Nominate one (or many) of your favorite groups making a difference in the lives of others. As always, I encourage everyone to Pay it Forward through acts of kindness to effect change in the world.

I want to be MORE than your REALTOR… I want you to WIN WIN for a cause.

Who would you like to see join the list?

Add your nominee(s) in the comment section below the title.


Cultivating Gratitude


The benefits of practicing gratitude are nearly endless. Studies prove that people who regularly practice gratitude by taking time to notice and reflect upon the things they’re thankful for experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, and even have stronger immune systems.

Gratitude doesn’t need to be reserved only for momentous occasions like a big raise at work or finding your car keys in the morning even though you ran out of coffee. Find the joy and gratitude in the little things that add texture to life. Like the smell of fall in the air or the feeling of the sun warming your eyelids.

Make a decision to be consciously more grateful. Below are just a few ways to help cultivate an ‘attitude of gratitude.’

Write a thank-you note

You can make yourself happier and nurture your relationships by writing a thank-you letter expressing your enjoyment and appreciation of a person. Once in a while, write one to yourself.

Keep a gratitude journal

I love this – there are even gratitude apps available!  Make it a habit to write down the gifts you’ve received each day. Share them with a friend or encourage someone in a rough spot to stop and make a quick list of things they are grateful for. It can be as simple ‘I am thankful for this pillow to rest my head on after this exhausting day.’

Pick a time every week to sit down and write about your blessings — reflecting on what went right or what you are grateful for. If you are having a difficult time starting, challenge yourself to picking just five things, but certainly don’t limit yourself.


People who are religious can use prayer to cultivate gratitude. Pray for acceptance of kindness from others, awe in rainbows and the little but amazing joys of life.


Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on the present moment without judgment. Just being present and accepting. Some people may focus on a word or idea, but you can also focus on what you’re grateful for at that specific time (a beautiful sunset, a pleasant sound, etc.).

For many people, gratitude is difficult, because life is difficult. Even beyond hardships, loss, and/or depression, there are many more mundane circumstances in which gratitude doesn’t come easily. Don’t express gratitude only when you feel it. Give thanks especially when you don’t feel it. Then share it.


What are you grateful for today? What made you smile today?