As we're spending more time at home than ever, we thought it was time to get some home-related tips. So who better to talk to than the mother-daughter Virginia Beach realtor team of Debbie Mustin and Kara Mustin McCaa?
As agents at Rose & Womble Realty with over 35 years of experience, they've got a great sense of new listings and the real estate market in the coastal Virginia area. Read on to learn some of their best home buying, selling, and decorating tips!
How did you get started in real estate?
Debbie: 11 years into teaching I was looking for something that provided me with greater flexibility so that my husband (who worked nights) and I could care for our girls with little or no child care. I passed the real estate exam in March, had my first sale in May, and never looked back!
Kara: My youngest started first grade this year, I have been doing interior design work for a few years on a part-time basis, and with everyone out of the house all day I wanted to increase my hours and get out of the house at the same time! I decided to join my mom in the real estate world and mesh my design business with our real estate business.
What are some of the best parts about working together?
Debbie: Kara is genuine, kind, smart, talented, and just a really good person. It can't get much better than working with someone like that! And it's fun to see how very creative she is too!
Kara: Well, I get it from my mom!! So basically, what she said 😂 Plus, my mom has been extremely successful in real estate and has been super supportive as I’ve started on this journey. It’s great to learn from the best!
What are some highlights of Virginia Beach?
Debbie: I've always said that Virginia Beach has been a wonderful place to raise a family...it's safe, the beach is beautiful, schools are good, there are wonderful parks and you also aren't far from the mountains and other fun cities (like D.C. and NYC!)
Kara: I was born and raised in Virginia Beach and can’t imagine living anywhere else. I love the laid back, casual atmosphere of this city and the access to water and beaches that we have!
What do you like most about your job in realty?
Debbie: I enjoy working with so many different people and personalities and the challenge of making a transaction full of potential "twists and turns" run smoothly from start to finish.
Kara: I love the flexibility. Growing up my parents both had jobs that allowed them to be very present for all of our various activities and my husband and I have made that a priority for our family! It’s one of the main reasons I chose real estate.
What’s your favorite time of year in Virginia?
Debbie: I love the changing colors of fall and the beautiful blossoms of spring. But summer at the beach is pretty fun too!!!
Kara: No question…the month of September. The beaches have cleared out, the days are still long, its not *quite* as hot, and my second favorite season…fall…is almost here!
Is there a “best” time to buy or sell a house?
Debbie: I think the "best" time is whenever it's right for each individual or family. Houses sell year 'round...I even had a sale one Christmas Eve!
Kara: I agree!
Home improvement projects have been especially popular recently. When it comes to reselling your house, which types of projects would be the most worthwhile, or add the most value to your property?
Debbie: Wisely renovated kitchens and baths offer good returns. Just keep within a reasonable budget for your home and neighborhood and the cost will come back to you when you sell.
Kara: I agree. You don’t need a top-of-the-line renovation to update your house, and sometimes it doesn’t make sense. It’s definitely possible to ‘over-improve’ your home, and if you aren’t sure I’d recommend getting some advice from a realtor or designer to confirm that your budget and selections are in line with what you’d like to get out of your house when it’s time to sell!
What are some of the little things people can do to enjoy their houses more without spending a ton of money?
Debbie: Fresh paint is always a good one. It's inexpensive, you can do it yourself and you see the fun results in a few hours! Making a pretty area outside is another good one. It's so fun (and healthy) to sit out and enjoy a pretty day.
Buy a table, some chairs and add a colorful umbrella....and go from there!
Kara: I agree…paint can be a game-changer! You can also change up your look with new pillows for your sofa/chairs, swapping out some of your accessories (picture frames, coffee table books, etc.), or by adding a pretty indoor plant to add some color and texture!
What are some deal-breakers when it comes to buying/selling your house?
Debbie: Things like foundation issues, electrical issues, or unaddressed water or termite damage. It always pays when selling to correct all deferred maintenance prior to putting your home on the market unless you're willing to sell at a discount!
Kara: Poorly done or thought out renovations. One of my favorite Instagram accounts, @pleasehatethesethings shares some pretty terrible home renovations (think side by side toilets, newly installed shag carpeting in bathrooms, and very impractical kitchen layouts) if you need a laugh. Remember, consulting a designer doesn’t mean you are spending top dollar on everything you do! Many designers have hourly consultations available and don’t have to be involved in the project from start to finish.
How important is landscaping when it comes to selling your property?
Debbie: A pristine and attractive exterior is essential. That's the first thing buyers see in photos and as they drive by or walk-up. First impressions DO count!
Kara: So important! Mulch those beds and pot those planters!!! Even when we aren’t in quarantine, the majority of potential buyers are looking at pictures first and can easily discount a house if the exterior isn’t in good shape.
What are some of the trends you're noticing in Virginia Beach real estate?
Debbie & Kara: Buyers are looking for modern updates and the ability to "move right in"! Welcoming outdoor spaces are popular, Clean lines and whites or neutrals always win. The market is active and competitive in most price ranges because inventory is down. And interest rates are too!
To learn more about Virginia Beach real estate, or if you need a good Va. Beach realtor, or just want to check out new listings in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, or Chesapeake, be sure to check out Debbie and Kara's website and follow them on Instagram @karamccaa!