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"Ask Jorge" Virginia Beach Real Estate Blog

Jorge Gonzalez, ABR, CRS, GRI


Displaying blog entries 91-99 of 99

What Is That Alphabet Soup After Your Name?

by Jorge Gonzalez, ABR, CRS, GRI

Most people are familiar professional designations like CPA and MD after names of Accountants and Doctors, but real estate professionals have many opportunities to earn designations too. Most depend on whether they are in Brokerage Management, Property Management, Appraisals, and Real Estate Sales.

The letters ABR, CRS, GRI after my name are professional desiginations I have earned over the course of my career. 

ABR - Accredited Buyer’s Representative Designation is provides specific training and education for providing buyer-client representation and is the benchmark of excellence in buyer representation.  Buyers should always look to see if their agent has a ABR designation before entering into a buyer broker agreement.  I was one of the first real estate professionals to earn this designation and their are a little more than 50,000 active ABR Designees today.

CRS - Certified Residential Specialist Designation is the highest Designation awarded to sales associates in the residential sales field. The CRS Designation recognizes professional accomplishments in both experience and education.  Since 1977 the Council of Residential Specialists has been conferring the CRS Designation on agents who meet its stringent requirements. Currently, there are more than 39,000 active CRS Designees.  Buyers and Sellers should always ensure their agent has earned this designation. 

GRI - Graduate REALTOR® Institute Designation is the mark of a real estate professional who has made the commitment to provide a high level of professional services by securing a strong educational foundation. REALTORS® with the GRI designation are highly trained in many areas of real estate to better serve and protect their clients.

Professional real estate agents who are willing to dedicate themselves to their profession should be willing to further their education after being licensed.  A Virginia real estate license itself just provides basic knowlege to enter the business.  These Designations take years to earn and are based on experience and education. 

Why hire the least experienced agent with no training when for most peole real estate is the one of the largest investments of their life, when it does not cost anything extra to hire the higest qualifed person you can find.  

Dirt On The Bushes' New Home

by Jorge Gonzalez, ABR, CRS, GRI

Who said it is not a good time to buy a home? George and Laura Bush are going to be relocating soon and just purchased a new home in Dallas. 


GW Bush New Home


Read more about the details here ....

Homeowners' Refinancing Jumps by Record Pace


Applications to refinance home-mortgages jumped by a record amount, as borrowers flocked to take advantage of falling mortgage rates -- which were driven down by the government's announcement that it would step in to stabilize the mortgage market.

On Wednesday, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its index of refinance applications had tripled, the largest increase since the group began tracking this data in 1990.

Applications to purchase homes, which tend to be less sensitive to interest-rate movements, also increased, though by a smaller amount.  The surge in application volume comes as mortgage rates fell by more than 0.50 percentage in the past week.


Source: WSJ Online

Home Control Center


Nokia going out on a limb with their latest product, the Home Control Center, which will tie in a variety of home functions including electricity usage monitoring, remote device activation, and security functions with your phone or computer. Conservation is going to be a big part of this project, as German energy provider RWE has partnered with Nokia to make sure homeowners will be able to properly guage their power use and keep it as low as possible. There are already a couple of services getting into the home control via phone business, like Unify4Life and SlingBox, but the Nokia Home Control Center should be more of an enabler than competition, as their platform will allow third parties to plug right in.

“We see there is growth potential in the smart home market,” said Teppo Paavola, Vice President, Head of Corporate Business Development, Nokia. “The home of today has intelligence everywhere, but to date there has not been a solution that is interoperable with wide range of home systems that can easily be controlled. We want to create an open solution where external partners can develop their own solutions and services on top of our platform. We believe that the mobile device is an ideal interface to control home intelligence, especially when the user is not at home.”

Sounds promising, no? What kind of home functions would you like to have from your phone? The conference call outlined one really cool service called PhoneBell, where you recieve a phone notification when someone rings your doorbell, sends a picture of the person if you have a security camera set up, and even lets you remotely unlock the door for them. Pretty snazzy. The main areas the Home Center will focus on are:

  • Security
  • Energy & efficiency
  • Wellness
  • Construction & real estate
  • Premium home automation

Nokia is aiming for a European launch in late 2009. Taking a quick look at the hardware specs, we can see that the actual product will be an N-class Wi-Fi router, with USB, ethernet and SD card slots, and optional GPRS connectivity. It will also include native S60 3.1 support for all those out there already with Nokia handsets, although any handset with a mobile browser will be able to access functions, and open APIs will allow other manufacturers to plug in. For more info on the project, listen in on the audiocast presentation, or check out

Source: PR News Wire

Happy Thanksgiving!

by Jorge Gonzalez

I just wanted to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!  I hope you enjoy your day with your family and friends. 

1) Virginia Outperforms the Nation

Sales, foreclosures, mortgage applications and homeownership rates - in every one of these areas the Commonwealth is in better shape than the nation as a whole.

2) The Commonwealth’s Overall Economy is Healthy and Growing

Since January 2008, there have been more than 200 announcements by companies that plan to create more than 15,770 jobs and invest $2.19 million in the Commonwealth in 2009. These are in addition to the almost 19,000 jobs that have already been added in 2008.

3) Foreclosures Are Only a Part of the Picture

The Mortgage Bankers Association reports the  national foreclosure rate is actually just 2.75  percent — and only 1.46 percent in Virginia. Still, when you’re facing foreclosure, it’s cold comfort to know you’re in the minority. The good news is that lenders — from Fannie and Freddie to Citibank — have announced aggressive programs to rework loans and otherwise provide relief to homeowners facing crisis.

4) In Virginia It’s Cheaper to Close

According to, Virginia ranks  16th in the nation when it comes to lowest closing costs — an average of $3,007. (The highest are in New York at more than $4,000, and the lowest in North Carolina at $2,650.)

5) Demand is on the Rise

More savvy buyers are taking advantage of the current market conditions and finding great home values. In the third quarter 2008, mortgage applications climbed 13 out of 24 weeks and statewide the number of homes on the market has continued to decline since  January — a sign that prices may begin to rise.

6) The Future Looks Brighter

Between the nationalization of Fannie Mae and  Freddie Mac and the government’s newly passed rescue plan, the credit market should begin to loosen. That  will mean more buyers able to get mortgages which will begin to push home prices up again.

7) It’s Not Just the Economy

A home’s value is affected by more than the ups and downs of the economy. State and local governments can pass laws, modify zoning, close schools, approve malls, and make dozens of other changes to your neighborhood. Stay current on the legislation that can impact your home’s value: Join the Virginia Homeowners Alliance — it’s free and easy.

Source: Virginia Association of Realtors

House Hunting 2.0

by Jorge Gonzalez

Since I am a card carrying technology geek, I wanted to share with you a pretty simple computer solution to house hunting.  This is even a great way to visit Virginia Beach and other Hampton Roads neighborhoods if you are relocating, but currently live somewhere else on the planet.  The best part is you can do this right from your own computer anytime, day or night and it's FREE!

Try using Microsoft Virtual Earth (using bird's eye view feature) and Google Street View online.  Both websites are pretty simple to use once you get the hang of them.  Just type in the full address (include City & State) of a property you are interested in and will find yourself at the house.  Click on the house a couple of times to zoom in closer.

There are several types of views and ways to point and click to get closer to the house, change directions to view different angles of a home, and travel down the street like you were driving by. You can even fly over the house and the neighborhood as if you were in a helicopter by clicking and holding down the mouse button and dragging the mouse. 

The best part is it is actually fun to do and there are some really awesome close up views of most homes.  The Microsoft site is my favorite of the two because there is much more to see, but the Google site is interesting too. Give them both a shot and let me know if you found this helpful or not. 

Not in the market to buy a home yet?  Then just type in your own address and view your own house and neighborhood.  Most of country has coverage, but the best pictures are in more populated areas.  The Virginia Beach area has excellent quality pictures

$7,500 Tax Credit For First-Time Home Buyers!

by Jorge Gonzalez

The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 authorizes a $7,500 tax credit for qualified first time home buyers purchasing a home between now and July 1, 2009.  If you would like more info about this program, please drop me an e-mail at  I have a detailed 4-page handout about the tax credit and I can e-mail it to you in a .PDF file. 

Something to keep in mind, the Government considers a "First-Time Home buyer" as someone who has never owned a home.  However, they also consider you a "First-Time Home Buyer" if you have not owned a home in more than 3 tax years.  The easy way to determine this is if you have not claimed the mortgage deduction on your taxes for the last 3 tax filing years.  Technically, you could do this by filing early in 2009 and you could go back to 2007 and 2008.


This federal tax credit applies to all homes in the Virginia Beach and Hampton Roads area in Virgina.  

Is Your Home Energy Efficient?

by Jorge Gonzalez

Cooler temperatures and higher fuel costs have many Hampton Roads homeowners looking for better heating solutions. Heating and cooling systems are some of the most important investments you'll ever make in your home. These systems can account for 44% of your home's energy use. The more energy efficient an appliance is, the less it costs to run and the lower your utility bills. Home sellers with modern heating and cooling systems can command top dollar for these features, as buyers will factor the heat source into any offer.

Displaying blog entries 91-99 of 99

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Jorge Gonzalez primarily provides Real Estate and Property Management services for rental properties for the following areas of Hampton Roads:

Virginia Beach Real Estate For Sale and Virginia Beach Property Manager (Largest City In Hampton Roads)
Chesapeake Real Estate For Sale and Chesapeake Property Manager
Norfolk Real Estate For Sale
Suffolk Real Estate For Sale