Ramona Michauskas - Century 21 New Millennium | Ashburn, VA Real Estate, Aldie, VA Real Estate


If you recently moved to a new town or city, you might be feeling a little lost when it comes to finding your place in the community. In a time when many of us gather digitally rather than in-person, it can be particularly difficult to find ways to get to know your neighbors and become involved in local affairs.

In this article, we’ll talk about some ways you can discover and engage yourself in your local community.

Start online

Even if you’re interested in meeting your townsfolk in person, the internet is still a good place to start. You can use Facebook and MeetUp to find local groups and events. Trying looking up groups for things you’re interested in, such as a hiking or cycling meetup, a book club, or knitting group.

While you’re online, see if you can find your town’s website, including sites for the local library, museums, or historical societies. All of these sites probably have mailing lists or notification systems you can join to receive alerts for upcoming events and activities.

If you’d rather spontaneously meet some people in your area, check out some of the popular bars, cafes, and restaurants on Yelp to see where people like to hang out.

Get a library card

Public libraries are an amazing service that is offered free-of-charge. Where else can you go to get free books, movies, music, and games?

On top of that, libraries also tend to offer passes to local museums, another great way to meet people and learn about the area you moved to. Be sure to stay in the loop with upcoming events at the library, as they often play host to interesting presentations, classes, and meetings.

Classes offered through your local library are often free or highly affordable alternatives to those you might take at a private school or local college. Man libraries now even host yoga classes and “paint nights” so expect to find a lot more than books and readings on their calendar of events.

Start something new

If your town doesn’t have something that you’re interested in, why not start it yourself? One rising service in urban and suburban communities across the country is the community garden.

Community gardens are owned and operated by members of the community. You can rent a space in the garden or join up with others and share space.

A community garden is a great way to get outside, enjoy fresh produce, save money at the grocery store, and meet your neighbors at the same time.

A good way to bring up ideas like this is to attend your town meetings. You don’t want to seem too overbearing or industrious, so try to just sit-in on a meeting or two before bringing up any new ideas.

Say “hello” to the neighbors

One of the oldest and easiest ways to learn about your new neighborhood is to simply stop and talk with the people in your neighborhood. Aside from making friends, getting to know your neighbors can be beneficial. Neighbors watch out for each other’s houses when someone is away, and look out for each other’s well-being. It’s good to have a kind neighbor on your side.



If you have electric heat you probably associate winter with being the time of year you spend the most on electricity. In the summer, however, you're using air conditioners and fans to keep your house cool. Plus, your refrigerator and freezer have to work harder to keep the temperature down. Home energy audits are a great way to determine how you could lower your electricity usage. And who wouldn't want to use less electricity? It saves you money on your monthly utility bill and helps the environment in the process by requiring that power plants burn less coal and natural gas.

Energy audits

There are a few ways you can get a better grasp on your electricity usage. The best way is to hire a professional who can come and assess your home to tell you exactly what can be improved. They have the knowledge and training to inspect areas of your home that might be dangerous to try to inspect yourself. Ultimately, they'll help you save in the long run so it's worth the cost. If you don't want to pay to have your home audited, you could do a DIY inspection. A great place to start is on your utility provider's website. Most providers allow you to log in and see things like your bill and usage history. You can even often view the average usage of neighboring households to give you an idea of where you stand. This is helpful because the people in your neighborhood likely have homes comparable to yours in terms of size, energy-efficiency, and climate/weather. So, if you're spending a lot more than your neighbors, it could be a sign of an issue.

Ways to save

There are hundreds of ways you can cut back on electricity in your home, some more feasible than others. Below you'll find both common and little-known methods of lowering your electricity usage in the summer months. We've separated them into two categories: temperature control and everything else. Temperature control
  • Smart tech. Turn off the AC or adjust the thermostat when you don't need it. Better yet, install a programmable thermostat so you don't have to remember to turn the temperature up before you leave for work.
  • Whole house fans. These ingenious fans suck hot air into your attic. If all your windows are open, it will draw in the cool air from outside and it's cheaper than having several fans or air conditioners running.
  • Use fans correctly. Window fans that bring in cool air are great, but having several ceiling or floor fans running when you're not in front of them are just using electricity and aren't affecting the air temperature very much.
  • Time your windows. As a rule, open windows overnight to let in air then close them in the morning. Use black-out curtains during the day as well to stop the sun from heating the inside of your home.
Everything else 
  • Power strips. Plug your electronics into power strips and turn them off when they're not in use. Many electronics continue using electricity even when they're not powered on.
  • Dishwasher. Don't run it until it's full.
  • Refrigerator/freezer. Buy a size that makes sense for your home. Having a large refrigerator or extra freezers running in the basement use a lot of extra electricity.
  • Lighting. Replace all of your lights with energy-efficient CFL or LED bulbs.
  • Clothes. Wash full loads and dry them outside on a clothesline.
  • Maintenance. Makes sure ACs, refrigerators, and washers/dryers are all cleaned, especially air vents. Replace old appliances with newer, energy-efficient models.

A home inspection is a vital part of every real estate transaction. Its importance is usually solidified in a purchase contract in the form of a contingency clause.

Whenever you buy or sell a home, the transaction is typically contingent upon a few things being fulfilled. Inspections help protect the buyer from purchasing a home that they believed didn’t have any major issues.

For buyers, an inspection can save you thousands in the long run. For sellers, getting a preemptive inspection done (on your own dime) can be useful since it will help you avoid any surprises that could arise when a potential buyer has your home inspected.

Hiring a home inspector

Regardless of whether you’re the buyer or the seller in this instance, hiring a home inspector isn’t something you should take lightly. You’ll want to confer with your agent before you pick an inspector.

It’s also a good idea to check out some online reviews and visit the inspector’s website for pricing. Typically, inspectors charge between $200 and $400 for an inspection, so feel free to shop around.

Inspectors are certified, so make sure whoever you choose has the proper licensure. You can search for inspectors in your area with this search function.

Ultimately, you’ll want to choose an inspector that can give you the most unbiased assessment of the home, so that you can be assured that you know what you’re getting into when you buy or sell a home.

Preparing for an inspection

Many buyers aren’t sure what to expect on inspection day. However, the process is relatively simple.

You’ll want to make sure the inspector can easily access workspaces (like around the furnace, circuit breakers, etc.). This will make the inspector’s job easier and allow them to focus on the service they’re providing you.

If possible, it’s also a good idea to provide them with records of important home maintenance and repairs. Inspectors know what red flags to look for with the home, both physically and on paper.

Finally, make sure pets, kids, and any other distractions are away from home or with someone who can attend to them.

Post inspection

After the inspection is complete, the inspector will hand you a report and be able to answer any questions you have about their findings. They will give recommendations about the timeline for repairs that need to be made soon or even years into the future.

With this report in hand, you can determine if there are repairs you want to negotiate with the seller if you’re buying a home. As a seller, this report will tip you off to issues that potential buyers will likely have and give you a chance to address them in advance.


The home selling journey may include many ups and downs, particularly for a seller who fails to plan ahead. Fortunately, we're here to help you set realistic expectations for the home selling journey so you can achieve the optimal results.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you establish realistic expectations for the home selling journey.

1. Know Your Home

Your home's condition may have deteriorated over time. Therefore, the value of your house today is unlikely to match what you initially paid for your home.

To understand the current valuation of your house, you may want to perform a home appraisal. This will enable you to receive a property valuation from an expert home appraiser. Then, you can use this valuation to establish a competitive price for your residence.

2. Conduct a Home Inspection

Although you may have performed a wide range of home upgrades over the years, underlying house problems may persist. Thankfully, a home inspection makes it easy to learn about myriad home problems before you add your house to the real estate market.

During a home inspection, a property expert will examine your residence both inside and out. Following the inspection, you'll receive an inspection report with detailed findings about the condition of your house.

Examine the results on a home inspection report closely – you'll be glad you did. If you analyze the inspection results, you may be able to discover innovative ways to enhance your residence. And if you perform property improvements, you may be able to boost your house's value and increase the likelihood of a fast, profitable home sale.

3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent

If you're unsure about how to kick off the home selling journey, there is no need to stress. In fact, real estate agents are available in cities and towns nationwide who are happy to provide comprehensive insights into all aspects of selling a house.

A real estate agent can teach you about the ins and outs of the housing market. By doing so, a real estate agent will help you understand how to price your home and promote it to the right groups of buyers.

Moreover, a real estate agent will deliver in-depth support at each stage of the home selling journey. He or she will set up home showings and open house events, negotiate with a buyer's agent on your behalf and help you review offers on your house. And if you ever have concerns or questions about selling your home, a real estate agent is available to respond to them right away.

Working with a real estate agent can help you transform an ordinary home selling experience into an exceptional one. Perhaps most important, a real estate agent can offer honest, unbiased recommendations to ensure you can maintain realistic expectations throughout the home selling journey. And as such, a real estate agent can help you quickly and effortlessly accomplish your desired home selling results.


More often than not, you are interested in selling your home as quickly as possible. However, it will take some work on your part to make that possible. Let’s take a look at what it takes to get your home sold— and sold quickly. Small Updates: Small updates will go a long way when selling your home. It’s easy to make a semi-outdated home look much more up-to-date with small updates. Changing out hardware and lighting in a bathroom, removing wallpaper and updating paint, updating lighting in bedrooms and hallways, and painting kitchen cabinets are all ways of increasing the likelihood of your home selling quicker than if you left them in an outdated state. Clean & Organize: It is very important to clean and organize your home before open houses and photos are taken. A clean home gives the buyers an opportunity to see the home for what it is, and not all of your stuff and clutter. It will give them the opportunity to visualize themselves in the home and how they would set up each room. Clutter makes it difficult to do this as it makes rooms look smaller and covers up the true potential. Remove Personality: It’s best to remove your personality from your home when selling. Things like pictures and picture frames, your children’s drawings on the refrigerator, the obsessive amount of purple in your bedroom, and so on. Removing your personality and creating a neutral home will better allow homebuyers to visualize themselves living there and making it their own. Social Media: Utilizing social media is the best way to get the word out about your home being on the market. Realtors and agents are already using it, but you should also be taking advantage of it. Sharing or creating posts of your online listing and asking your friends to share will only benefit you. The more eyes on your home the more likely that you will sell— and quickly. Photos & Video: Since online research is often the first step one takes in the home buying process, the photos and video of your home will be the first impression that a buyer has. And you want to make that the best first impression possible. Make sure to tidy your home (as mentioned above) when taking the photos. And also make sure to take the best photos possible, whether you do it yourself or hire someone to take them. Ensure that there is plenty of natural light and choose the angles that create the most appealing space. The photos you place online could make or break a homebuyer's interest and desire to see more. Taking the appropriate steps to make your home welcoming and stand out from its comparables will only help get it sold faster. It’s not just your realtor that has responsibility for selling your home. And with implementing the tips above, your house will be on its way to being sold in no time.



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