Welcome to the Platinum Group Real Estate Blog

In this blog, you'll find useful information including helpful advice on selling your house or finding your dream home, the latest real estate news, local events, and life in Northern Virginia. 

We've also created these categories to make it easier for you to find what you are looking for. Click on the links below for more information.  

Selling Your Home 

Buying a Home 

New Listings 

Client Reviews 


Nov. 19, 2019

5 Costs Associated With Buying a Home


When purchasing a home, the first thing we usually think about is our price point - what can we comfortably afford based on our income, expenses, and loan options? We also like to dream about the furniture, drapes, and the colors that we will paint our new home. But it’s important to look at the overall expenses involved when purchasing a home so that those costs are included in your budget. Today we interview Melody Visser, as she shares her top 5 costs associated with buying a home. Join us! 



You can also listen for free on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify! 

Costs that are associated with purchasing a home usually consist of the down payment and closing costs. Correct?

Yes! The down payment and closing cost are your biggest expenses but there are a few other costs that we want to discuss as well! 

Down Payment

Many buyers think that they will need 20% down to purchase a home, but that is not always the case. There are many different type of loan programs available, some even offering 0% down options. Many people are paying the same if not more in monthly rent, not realizing that they are eligible to purchase a home. Melody had a buyer who walked away with money, who received grants, and was a veteran, which really helped her secure her dream home.

Closing Costs

Closing costs are about 2.5% - 3% of the sales price. So if you are purchasing a home with a sales price of $300,000 then your closing cost will be around $7,500-$9,000.

Earnest Money Deposit

Along with the sales contract, the EMD is a buyer's way of showing that they're serious about purchasing the home. The money is held to protect the seller's interest. Typically, an EMD is around 1%-3% of the sales price. This money is credited back to the buyer at settlement on the Closing Document.

Inspections: Home, Radon, Wood Destroying Insect

Although this is not a requirement, Melody highly recommends that all buyers get a home and radon inspection. During a home inspection, you may walk through the home with your REALTOR and home inspector to determine whether or not all items are functioning normally (HVAC, washer/dryer, stove, etc.) and allows you a chance to learn how your new home operates. Additionally, if there are issues, you can address those with the selling side to determine a solution. A home inspection typically costs $450-$600 for the Loudoun area’s average sales price.

The bigger the home, the more the home inspection will run. Radon Inspections run $140-$150. You may choose to have additional inspections if the home has a well, septic system, pool, and wood destroying insect inspection, etc. In some cases, you can request that the seller pay for the septic and/or water test. Lastly the WDI inspection is very important as they will check to make sure there are no termite, carpenter bees, etc and the cost is only about $40- 50.

Moving Expenses

The cost can vary. If you have a large home with a lot of "stuff" it can run you thousands of dollars. Across town versus across country also makes a big difference. I recommend getting a few quotes to make sure you are getting a fair price and always make sure that the moving company has insurance! If you decide to pay your friends in pizza and beer for helping you move, you will need to be prepared that things may not go as smoothly as with a professional mover! If you trust your realtor, (hopefully you do!) than Melody and Karen suggest asking who they know! Many times, this is the first, or second time you have moved, so asking someone who has helped buyers/sellers move 100’s of times, is a smart move! 

Melody is from Chesapeake VA, where we stayed for our annual team retreat! 

She grew up not far from the beach (where our annual retreat was this year) and would sneak out when she first got her license and go to the beach with her friends! (The sand in her car most likely gave her away!) She misses the water but has now lived in Northern VA longer than Chesapeake and loves the area!

If you would like to reach Melody, you can find her on her page HERE


Tune in next week to chat with our TRI-lingual platinum group member, Tatjiana, who shares why open houses are so important. 

Nov. 12, 2019

Selling Your Home From an Agent's Perspective


What if you sold your own home? As an agent, Roxanna just sold her own home, and she has a few things she did differently, because she is an agent. It worked, and selling from that perspective helped her sell her home in one day above the asking price! Listen in as Roxanna talks about selling her own home, after selling countless homes for others.



You can also play for free on Spotify, Google Play and Apple Podcasts!

As an agent, experiencing buying and selling her own homes has helped her serve her clients better.

Roxanna bought her own new construction home and represented herself about 7 years ago, (a great experience that allows her to help her new construction clients now) and now recently sold that home herself! Many agent's warn against selling your own home, because of the stress of doing everything yourself, but Roxanna decided she would go for it! 

After selling her own home in 1 day above asking price, she feels good about the decision.

The hardest part about selling her own home was the emotional attachment she had to what was her family home.

Its something she understands and has seen from her clients over many years, and she agrees it is really hard when you have to let go of something you have been in for many years. However, ever since she bought the home she has been making decisions off of what would sell better in the long run. When it was time to sell, she didn't have as much work cut out for her, because those decisions had been made over the years she had lived there. 

She listened to her own advice. 

She decluttered, staged and got her house as ready as possible to sell. The best thing she did, (which is what she tells her clients to do!) was placing her house just below market value. She didn't want to deal with having the home on the market for a long time, because of the stress of having to keep it clean and prolong the showings and open houses. Thankfully she didn't have to live with that very long because she received so many showings her home sold in one day! 

She treated her buyers with respect and care, and in return she had a smooth and wonderful transaction.

A lot of times being "in control" takes over a transaction and things can get nasty. Roxanna's advice is the more she gave, the more the buyers gave. She served them cake and gave them helpful tools on the day they walked through, and treated them with care and respect. In the end, they all enjoyed the transaction, and she was excited to sell to them.




Roxanna talks about the new Cuban restaurant, that she says are "actually Cuban!"

Roxanna is of Cuban descent and spanish is her first language. She is thankful that she is bilingual, as it comes in handy working with both english and spanish speakers on a transaction. She recently discovered a new cuban restaurant at the Dulles 28 center, called Cubasi. Check it out HERE



If you want to reach Roxanna you can find her on this PAGE


Join us next week!


Nov. 5, 2019

Buying a Home AND Getting Married


For all engaged couples out there, who are also looking to buy a home(or maybe sell a home) at the same time as planning a wedding, this podcast is for you! Arianne Ghiravi recently married and moved into a new home. So much change in a short time brings on a lot of pressure, and Arianne has a few tips for those of you facing the same journey! Listen in as she gives her top tips and struggles over the last year. 



Finding the right people changes the game. 

One of the biggest similarities Arianne first points out is that finding the right people can affect both experiences tremendously. Just like finding a great wedding planner can make or break your wedding season, so does finding a good realtor. When you find someone you can trust with quick changes, small details, and big financial decisions, things go a lot smoother!

When she found the right wedding planner, she was connected to all the right people after that. 

Through her wedding planner, she was connected to the right caterer, florist and a myriad of other people that ran her wedding smoothly. The same is true for getting the right realtor! Once you find the right person with the right connections, buying, building, or selling can be so much easier. 

Expectations matter. 

When you are buying a home, or getting married, both come with life long expectations. During both journeys, there may come a time when you realize the budget doesn't match those expectations! Arianne realized that she had a picture in her head of how her table settings would look, and realized that ultimately, no one would remember the table settings. It just wasn't as important as some of the other things on her special day. Its wise for engaged couples to sit down with their partner beforehand, and make a list of must haves, not only for the wedding, but also for the home they desire to buy. 

One difference between a wedding and buying a house is the time spent in it! 

A wedding is only one day, when you buy a home you can change things over time. So don't stress too much over things that can be changed later. For Example, painting makes a huge impact on the home, so do that right, but countertops can be changed out over time!

Arianne has one regret from her wedding.

Not having a videographer! Having a good photographer is crucial, but when you have a videographer, it captures moments that you can replay over and over again. 

Go on a honeymoon!

After planning a wedding, moving, selling, buying and all the rest of the adventure that comes with getting married and the change that comes with it, you need to rest! Her biggest tip: allow yourself time to rest... the boxes will get unpacked, even if it takes more time than you want it to. 

Agree on a budget. And don't BUDGE!

Once you understand your budget, then you can get your priorities straight. No one likes arguing over last minute things. With the extra stress of planning a wedding, make sure you sit down and agree with each other over both the wedding must haves and the home must haves. 

Don't go crazy with the credit cards!

The last thing a lender needs is seeing a high debt to income ratio especially when you are trying to buy a home! Try as hard as you can not to go into debt and end up messing up your perfect home by having credit card debt and getting rejected on a loan.

Overall, talk to your partner, find great people who know the business better than you do, have realistic expectations, and stick to your budget! 

Below are a few pictures of Arianne on her wedding day. Arianne also loves horses! She tries to visit her horses during the week for a spontaneous ride, or to simply to say "hello". She has been riding for many years, if you have any horse related questions don't hesitate to reach out! You can find her information clicking HERE.






Tune in next week to chat with Roxanna Urban, who recently sold her own home and talks about the benefits of selling from an agent's perspective.










Oct. 29, 2019

*Bonus* The Only Man On Our Team


Introducing our Content Creator, Walter Cudrado: the only man on our 32 women team. Keeping up with the women is an adventure, and he is up to the task! Listen in as Karen and Walter talk about the importance of video, pictures and social media in the world of real estate. 



You can also play for free on Google Play, Spotify and Apple Podcasts! 


Video and social media have such a vital role in real estate.

Right now "picturing" yourself with things that you are trying to buy is such a huge part of marketing. Walter's role is to create a portal, for you to walk through into our homes that we are selling and the homes we are helping you buy so you can feel what its like to be there. He goes on to say that if he does his job right, it should move you off of your comfy couch (where you most likely are buying everything these days) and come see our home in person!


Social Media is the new newspaper!

When Karen started in real estate, marketing was dominated through print media, and newspapers. Now, years later, social media has taken over the marketing world. We have to come up with fresh new ways to capture people's attention, and that is exactly what Walter does! 


How does a "content creator" help you?

Walter has a special degree, from Savannah College of Art and Design. He graduated from the Atlanta campus (Atlanta produced one of the biggest new tv shows of the last few years, "Stranger Things") and he mentions how tough it was going through their program. As our Content Creator, Walter helps you by creating pictures and videos of all the homes we sell, so that as a buyer you can picture yourself inside the home. It also helps our sellers by creating a unique and new way of marketing to get people into the homes that we sell! 


Touch back with us next week as we chat with Arianne, who just spent the last year planning a wedding and buying a home!




Oct. 22, 2019

What Can A Realtor Negotiate For You?


Have you ever wondered what a realtor can negotiate for you? Today we dive into the specifics of what a GREAT realtor can and should negotiate for you when you are buying or selling a home. If a realtor doesn’t know how to do this, you might want to reconsider hiring them! Today Karen interviews Platinum Group member Joy Fletcher, a veteran real estate agent, and new member of our team. We love her professionalism, and wonderful Kentucky Accent.  Listen in!



You can also listen for free on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify! 


Meet: Joy Fletcher, originally from Louisville, Kentucky.


Twenty-five years ago, Joy Fletcher moved here to work for GE Appliances, selling to all the builders in Virginia. Joy lovingly calls Northern Virginia her home now. After working with builders, she started her own business rehabbing, flipping and building homes to sell. She actually owns and manages 6 rental homes right now. When she considered being a full time agent, she originally was doing it so she could buy and sell her own rental homes. Now she has started doing it for others as well, and she loves it! 


Here is the before and after of one of her rehab projects! 


In this podcast, Joy and Karen discuss the different factors to consider when you are thinking of writing an offer on a home, and negotiations that can be possible. 

She has to know the market she's in.

What do things look like in the season you are in, or what will they look like in the season you will be buying in? Right now, in October, it is a seller's market. Inventory is low, and so there are multiple offers on homes. Joy knows she has to be prepared by knowing her numbers, and getting her buyers ready to move quickly when they find the right house.

She gets to know..you!

She needs to know if you are a first time home buyer, if you're looking for a forever home, or if you are an investor. What are your motivations, desires and needs. This will all come in handy when she is considering writing the offer and what negotiations will play out.

She gets to know the seller's motivation.

Joy takes time to get to know the seller's story and situation. Karen mentioned a story where she received an offer on a home she was selling, without ever talking to that agent. By never giving her a call, the agent did not know what the seller's needs were, therefore writing a blind offer! Sometimes the settlement date is more important to a seller than the price.. if you offer to move in earlier, or do a rent back, you can better negotiate the price! 

When considering price, Joy studies the home you are interested in, the market, comparable homes, and tries to think like an appraiser.

Sometimes Joy has even went to visit other homes in that neighborhood, to see how they look compared to the home you like. By studying the home like she is an appraiser, she can put the right offer, negotiate the best price, and have no surprises when the home is appraised.

In conclusion, she takes the time and effort to study you, the seller, and the home so when she's negotiating, she is prepared and ready to work out the best deal for you. If you would like to reach Joy, you can email her at Joy@platinumgroup.com or call/text her at 5402951419. You can also check out her Facebook page HERE.

Tune in next week for a bonus episode! 

Oct. 15, 2019

How Do You Market A Luxury Home?


Meet Vicky Noufal, co-owner of the Platinum Group!



Million dollar homes bring a different level of marketing to the table. It’s not just about professional staging, things have to look perfect, smell perfect, feel perfect! Vicky Noufal, co-owner of the Platinum group, shares not only her expertise, but what selling homes means personally to her. Join us!



You can also play for free on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify!

Vicky grew up in Lebanon. Until she was 8 years old, her family struggled with the war raging on around them. Nothing was normal at that time. There were weeks at a time that school was on, and then weeks where school was off again. When she moved to America, it quickly became her home. She has been in Northern Virginia ever since she moved, and has loved every minute of it! 

Moving people into homes is a passion of Vicky's. Coming from a childhood where "home" was unstable, she loves creating that stability for her clients. 

She specializes in selling luxury homes in Northern Virginia. When you are at a higher price point, buyers are expecting a lot, and for good reason! Things need to be perfect, down to every detail. Vicky's formula for selling luxury homes consists of the 3 Ps, presentation, promotion and price. In the podcast, she explains what each one means and why they are each so important.


If you would like to learn more about Vicky's strategy and expertise, you can contact her on our website HERE, or through her Facebook page Vicky Noufal - I Love Leesburg Real Estate.


Join us next week as we discuss what a realtor can negotiate for you during a transaction, with Joy Fletcher! 

Oct. 8, 2019

*Bonus* Buying or Selling a Home is Easy! ..With a Team


Meet Melissa, our Director of Operations!



Today we chat with a special guest, Melissa Oliver, who is our Director of Operations for the Platinum Group. Melissa handles so much for our team, and makes each and every transaction smoother and easier not only for our clients, but for our agents as well, so they can do their job even better. Join us as Melissa and Karen chat about the importance of smooth transaction management. 



You can also listen for free on Apple Podcasts, Google Play or Spotify!


Melissa's first words when we hired her were "You won't regret it" and we never have! She plans events, helps create what to send out to clients and friends, manages transactions, and supports our agents. At first, it was hard for Karen to hand out her work, wanting her clients to be taken care of perfectly, but it did not take long for Melissa to catch on, and serve our clients above and beyond!



We actually have a team of administrative ladies who work full time to make sure you have a good experience when selling or buying, as well as help you with doing things efficiently.



We can't finish the podcast without sharing this amazing thing about Melissa: she used to be an open water lifeguard. You have to be a strong swimmer to do that, and Melissa was the state swim champion in the late 90s! She was actually featured on the 1996 issue of PEOPLE magazine. 



She continued to swim in college, getting a full ride to swim at a division one school. As Karen mentioned in the podcast, we all feel safer when she goes to the beach with the team on our annual fall retreat together! 


Next week we talk with co-leader of the Platinum Team, Vicky Noufal. She will chat about how to market a luxury home!




Oct. 1, 2019

Can Building a Home Be Cheaper Than Buying?


Can it? Today we chat with Caitlin Ellis, who not only helps people buy new construction, but has built three homes herself in the last 5 years! She shares her top tips for the listeners who are looking to save money when buying new construction. Caitlin is a mom to an adorable 3 year old, and fights to have a healthy work life balance so she can spend time with her, and also serve her clients well. She just made 3rd within the top real estate agents in our brokerage year to date.. so she seems to be doing well!



You can also listen for free on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, or Spotify!


If you listened in, than you know Caitlin mentioned her most trusted contractor, Monumental Construction. They have done awesome work for Caitlin, so we wanted to share their information with you on the blog! If you want to reach them you can email or call them at monumentalconstructiongroup@gmail.com, 703-956-0220.

Monumental Construction does a variety of things including bla, bla and bla. 


Caitlin is passionate about her daughter getting her mommy time, so she is strict about her 9-5PM schedule of work, then its dinner and mommy time until bed! I'd feel the same way with such an adorable daughter!!



As mentioned in the podcast, Caitlin has built 3 homes in the past 5 years. This is her latest home, that she and her husband built the most recently. They took a little extra time on this one, since this is their forever home. So beautiful!



We hope you enjoyed this week's podcast, if you have a question that you want answered, don't hesitate to reach out and let us know! You can reach out to us on Facebook over messenger, click this link to see our Facebook page!


Tune in next week to hear from a special guest on our team, Melissa Oliver, our Director of Operations for the Platinum Team.

Sept. 24, 2019

Where Should I Be Looking For Homes?


You are looking and looking and looking, but every time you find that PERFECT home, it slips out of your fingers! Today we are chatting about WHERE to look for homes with Ariana Gillette, a german shepherd lover, teacher benefactor, and PTA queen!


Along with helping everyone she seems to meet, she also sells homes and is good at it too! Jump on today's podcast to hear about how NOT to miss out on your perfect home, by looking in all the right places.



You can listen by clicking above, or for free on Apple podcasts, Google Play or Spotify! 


Ariana is very active in her community, as you could hear from the podcast! She also has twins and has been married for 15 years. Here she is with her kids and husband at a NATS game.



Her biggest role in the community is the PTA acting president! She works hard to make sure the kids at Trailside Middle School have a fighting chance at reaching their full potential. The PTA's mission statement is to "Promote the education, health, and welfare of the Trailside Students while promoting social responsibility, inclusion, and involvement of everyone in the Trailside Community."



Our team member Ariana is a German Shepherd advocate. She has adopted 3 german shepherds, named Lambert, Lexi and Nala. So cute! 





Dogs are a big part of Ariana's life, and she wants them to be a part of yours as well. If you buy or sell through her "rescues and realtors" program, Ariana will give $500 to an animal charity of your choice!! You can check out her page HERE



Teachers have the most important job in the world: to educate and care for the next generation! Ariana believes this with her whole heart. She helped create "Teachers' Home Benefits" which helps LCPS employees live where they work by offering cash back, grants, discounts & incentives when utilizing her group's customized home buying and selling benefits package.





If you are a teacher or you know someone who is, click this link to check the package out! https://www.facebook.com/teachershomebenefits/ 



You can also find Ariana very active on YELP! Ariana likes to leave reviews on YELP to help out local businesses, and help you know where to find good service and food. However, people like to leave reviews for her as well, so check her out on YELP to see what others are saying about her service:



If you would like to reach Ariana, you can click HERE to find her on Facebook!


Tune in Next week to hear our Platinum team member Caitlyn talk with Karen about whether building a home can be cheaper than buying.


If you have any questions about this podcast, or would like us to answer a specific question, please click the chat tool at the bottom right of our website. You can also check us out on Facebook HERE. Thank you so much for listening! 




Sept. 17, 2019

10 Steps to Selling Your Home


Today we are chatting with Jodi Hooper, who shares her top 10 steps to selling a home!



Jodi Hooper continues our September podcasts by giving us a 10 STEP guide to selling your home. Listen into this podcast to get great tips that will help you prepare your home, and sell it for top price. Jodi has been in real estate for 15 years, and has the tips to prove it. We also love learning a bit more about this wine educated lady who becomes best friends with her clients. (Maybe its because she's choosing such great wine!) Join us to find out! 



Listen here on the blog or for free on Apple podcasts, Google Play, or Spotify. 


If you would like to printout or download her 10 steps you can below! If you have a hard time viewing the document, you can also click this link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bzhhc1JSONEYRXQ3cnVJeG5WMTk1OUljYkJidVFxYWphNXRz/view?usp=sharing





Jodi has a few other tips up her sleeve as well! Our whole team loves to drink wine, but Jodi not only drinks wine, but knows a lot about it! When she was a teenager she worked on a vineyard, picking, tying, suckering… otherwise known as the laboring work of a grape caretaker! The vineyard she worked on as a young woman is also now owned by a realtor, Ray Emery. Emery Vineyards is a family owned grape producer in Western New York. If you want to check out his Facebook page you can HERE



Jodi also had her own vineyard for 6 years, and told us that working at a vineyard when she was younger really helped her take good care of her grapes. Look at this beautiful property!



She also used to be a part owner in a winery, along with selling to local vineyards from her beautiful land above. Just for the fun of it, (and for the wine!) we went out to Sunset Hills Vineyard in Purcellville to record a few of her wine tips. Check out the video!



With all her wine knowledge she also helped a client purchase land for his dream - to own a vineyard, which has now become a reality! Take a look at Bozzo Family Vineyards. You can check out his winery at his Facebook page HERE.



If you want to join Jodi for wine, or go out and see houses you can reach her at Jodisellsva@gmail.com. 


Join us next week to learn more about Platinum team member, Ariana Gillette. She is very active in real estate and in her community and shares her tips about where you should be searching for homes!


If you would like to ask a question or have any comments about this post, don't hesitate to chat with us on our website, look to the bottom right of this blog!