Get your Smith Mountain Lake License Plate

Be sure to get Your Smith Mountain Lake ‘Closer Than You Think!’ Virginia license plate.  We are excited about the program and equally anxious to meet the criteria needed.  Below is a condensed list of matters to be completed before final approval by the state of Virginia:

  1. The Chamber must collect 350 prepaid applications by January 1, 2011.
  2. Bill submitted for approval by the General Assembly.
  3. The License plate design must be approved and processed by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
  4. Once the bill is approved by the General Assembly, license plate production will begin. It will take approximately 8 months for completion and distribution.

While the procedure is involved and lengthy, we are confident that the Smith Mountain Lake License plate project will move forward in due process.

And YOU can help us achieve the first requirement (listed above) by submitting a prepaid application!  If you’re interested, here’s what you need to do:

Complete the DMV/SML Chamber application (Click Here to Download) and return it with a check (no cash, please) made out to “SMLRCC” in the amount of $10.  Bring by or mail your application and check to the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce, 16430 Booker T. Washington Highway, Moneta, VA 24121 to be added to the list of 350.  Once we receive 350 prepaid applications, the other requirements can be achieved and the state will begin production and distribution of the Smith Mountain Lake license plates.  They require about 8 months in production.  We are striving for a completion by Fall 2011.  If we do not collect 350 prepaid applications by the deadline, you will receive a refund.

Click here for more information.

Prudential Dominates Industry in First-Half Media Coverage

Prudential Real Estate dominated its major real estate brokerage competitors in media coverage during 2010’s first half, according to research provided by Prudential’s Global Communications group in Newark, N.J.

Prudential Real Estate averaged 1,025 media mentions during the first half with spikes of 1,104 mentions in April and 1,408 in June relating post-Sales Convention publicity and tax credit survey media outreach.

Coldwell Banker, which averaged 632 mentions during the first half, finished closest to Prudential Real Estate and ahead of Century 21, Keller Williams and RE/MAX. 

Prudential Real Estate and Relocation Services’ Communications and PR team worked closely with Prudential’s Global Communications group to help generate news and publicity. Media outreach included event publicity, press releases, new-affiliation announcements, bylined articles, consumer surveys and more.

Overall coverage is expected to increase in the second half as PRERS and Prudential Real Estate affiliates continue promoting the Network’s brand-new distinction as “Highest Overall Satisfaction for Home Sellers Among National Full Service Real Estate Firms” in J.D. Power and Associates’ annual Home Buyer/Seller StudySM. Prudential Real Estate is also the subject of Real Estate Magazine’s August cover story, and additional bylined articles will appear through year end.

Go Green, Get Close and Reduce Costs

A recent study by the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) demonstrates there can be some real cost savings to going green, especially when it comes to the location of your home.

The Housing + Transportation (H+T Index) Affordability Index offers the true cost of housing based on its location by measuring the transportation costs associated with the home. 

The Index shows that a community’s location, character and design are better predictors of overall affordability than household size and income.

Compact, walkable, mixed-use communities with convenient access to public transit and employment centers may initially appear expensive because of higher housing costs. 

But, after applying the H+T Index, these places can often make for more affordable living than less dense exurban communities because households can own fewer cars—the single biggest expense in a household transportation budget—and still maintain a high quality of life.

Americans traditionally consider housing affordable if it costs 30 percent or less of their income.  For most families, transportation is the second largest household expense after housing costs.

A community’s average transportation costs can range from 12% of household income in efficient neighborhoods with walkable streets, access to transit, and a wide variety of stores and services to 32% in locations where driving long distances is the only way to reach essential services.

CNT’s analysis shows that for many families, any savings they may have realized from lower-cost housing becomes eliminated by unexpectedly high transportation costs.  

For more information, visit the H+T Affordability Index tool and

Smith Mountain Lake Charity Home Tour Gala

The Smith Mountain Lake Charity Home Tour cordially invites you to “Come Dance Under the Stars” at the Platinum Charity Ball celebrating the tour’s 20th Anniversary on Friday, September 10, 2010 from 7pm – 11pm at Bernard’s Landing Resort Clubhouse Pavilion. $70 Per Person. NOW TAKING RESERVATIONS! Please visit the SMLCHT website at for all credit card purchases. Checks made payable to: SMLCHT (please write gala reservation in memo line). Checks sent to: SMLCHT GALA P.O Box 416, Moneta, VA 24121. Or you can visit the Bernard’s Landing Welcome Center for cash and check ticket purchases. Gala reservations can be made until Friday, September 3, 2010.  All money must be collected by September 3, no exceptions.  Reservations will not be taken at the door on the night of the event. BLACK TIE OPTIONAL. Delicious food stations & cash bar by Jim Schaal’s Catering & Events. Music provided by The Breeze Brothers. Bring your checkbooks and bid on several wonderful silent auction items. ROOM RATES STARTING at $150 inclusive of tax/fees. For condos reservations, please call Bernard’s Landing Resort at 1-800-572-2048 or 540-721-8870. Ask for Gala Special to receive discount! All proceeds from the Gala will help support the following local charities: Lynchburg Daily Bread, SML Good Neighbors, Free Clinic of Franklin County, Roanoke Valley Interfaith Hospitality Network, Bedford Christian Free Clinic, Lake Christian Ministries, Helping Hands of Franklin County, and Bedford Hospice House.

Priced to Sell –

Feature Article by Carla Hill

It has long been a motto of real estate, and the saying goes, “location, location, location.” It’s what sells a property, they say. But recent times have brought to light that the real deciding factor on how fast, or even if, your home sells all comes down to price.

It’s not that buyers are attracted by shiny, new things, but in a sense they are. When a home is newly listed it gathers a lot of interest. The listing agent may send out emails, webcasts, and virtual tours. They launch their entire marketing program. Even the MLS indicates the home as “newly listed.” After a few weeks, however, if no momentum has been built, the home will then face a must steeper challenge on the road to selling.

First, homes that have been on the market a considerable time lose their competitive advantage. A buyer may see a home hasn’t moved, and may come in with a low offer price. Depending on how desperate the seller is, they may feel obligated to take this offer.

Second, no one wants their home to sit on the market. It can interrupt plans to move and to buy. One of the best game plans is to price your home to sell.

This means taking a good, hard look at the area comparables. How much have homes been selling for in your area? How does your home compare in terms of amenities? Your real estate agent can be invaluable when it comes to correctly pricing your home. Sellers judgement can be easily prejudiced by emotional attachment to the home and hopes for certain profits.

If your area is experiencing a strong buyers market, that means you need to be even more competitive. You may need to price your home a little lower than you had hoped for. If you are in a sellers market, you can generally ask for a bit more in the asking price.

One tried a true method a realtor will use to snowball interest in a home is to actually underprice it. If your home is in a desirable location and you undercut the competition, you may find yourself fielding multiple offers. How does that work?

A group of buyers are all looking for a home in your lovely neighborhood. Comparable homes to your are priced around $250,000. So, you price your home at $220,000. Buyers jump at the chance to get such a bargain deal …. buyers being the operative word. This can create a bidding war between buyers who have fallen in love with your property. In many cases, the final sale price ends up being more than you would have gotten had you listed at a higher initial price.

Have your upgrades priced you out of the competition? Renovating your home with upgraded fixtures and granite counters can be very appealing. But if homes in your neighborhood are basic models with Formica counters and fewer fancy upgrades, you may have a hard time finding a buyer who will shell out more. This is one way location is very important. You must make sure you’re aren’t overpriced for your location. Depending on your area, you may have to eat the costs of some of your previous upgrades in order to get a sale.

And finally, are you being greedy? Sometimes people have a magic number in their head of the profit they’d like to make by selling their house. They already have that money spent on the upgrades and toys they’ll buy for their next home. But selling is a time to be realistic.

Rely on your real estate agent to guide you in pricing your home. And good luck selling!

Home is Still Where the Heart is

An overwhelming number of homeowners are happy with their decision to purchase their home, despite a challenging housing market. According to a survey conducted by, 90 percent of respondents said they had no regrets about buying their current home.

In addition, the survey revealed one positive outcome related to the current housing market – homeowners are far more knowledgeable about mortgages. Only 8 percent of homeowners didn’t know whether they have a fixed-rate or adjustable-rate loan, compared to 26 percent two years ago.

Among the small percentage who did express regret in their home purchase, one-third said they are disappointed they are unable to sell and move on and one-fifth said they couldn’t afford the mortgage payments.

The survey underscores the value homeowners place on their houses, both financially and socially.

Talk to homeowners in the Smith Mountain Lake area about what they enjoy most about owning. Ask a Prudential Waterfront Properties Realtor® about the emotional side of the transaction and how it influences the buying process.

All Eyes on American Real Estate

Foreign buyers who understand the value of U.S. homeownership are taking advantage of the opportunities in today’s housing market. The NAR 2010 Profile of International Home Buying Activity survey revealed that international interest in U.S. real estate is currently driven by the strength of the dollar, the value and desirability of U.S. real estate and the emerging economic recovery.

Foreign buyers are estimated to have purchased $66 billion in U.S. property over the past year, which represents 7 percent of the total residential market. Twenty-eight percent of Realtors® reported working with at least one international client in the past year, a significant increase from 23 percent in the 2009 survey. Eighteen percent of all Realtors® were estimated to have completed at least one sale, up from 12 percent in the 2009 survey.

The survey revealed international buyers came from 53 different countries around the globe. Canada, Mexico, the U.K. and China/Hong Kong rounded out the top four. Talk to a Prudential Waterfront Properties Realtor® about international buyers in the Smith Mountain Lake area to find out what countries they come from and why they’re interested in owning a home in America.

Illuminate your landscape with a variety of lighting techniques

Story by Catriona Tudor Erler  – Catriona Tudor Erler is a freelance garden writer, photographer and speaker who divides her time between SML and Charlottesville. She is the author of nine garden books, including “Design Ideas for Home Landscaping,” “Poolscaping: Gardening and Landscaping Around Your Pool and Spa,” and “Complete Home Landscaping.”

There’s no denying Smith Mountain Lake, with its picturesque waters and scenic mountain views, is a beautiful place any time of day. But evenings at SML can be equally enchanting, especially when your garden is lit to enhance the nighttime scene. By adding landscape lighting, you can create almost any effect you like – from dramatic and theatrical to romantic, mysterious, subtle and subdued. Here are some techniques illumination designers use to create different effects in the garden.  

Moonlighting or Downlighting 

Floodlights pointing downward from high in the trees create the illusion of moonlight,  even on cloudy nights. The technique is particularly effective if the trees have a lacy canopy that will cast an intriguing shadow. 

In large spaces, downlights should be at least 25 feet off the ground. If you have tall trees, it’s worth it to hire an arborist to place the light fixtures as high as 55 feet. Avoid having a large lower limb in the way of the light beam. The chunky shadow it will cast is not as appealing as a lacy pattern of leaves and small branches. Choose fixtures that provide the maximum light spread for an even wash of light over the ground. 

Because downlighting from a high source washes the area with even light, it is also the ideal way to illumine paths and steps instead of the traditional ground-level path lights. If properly placed, the high light source is less obtrusive than pathway lights, shedding a natural-looking, soft light on the area. 


Light focused up from the ground on trees and walls highlights bark and foliage and accentuates textures and forms. Leaves with pale undersides appear to sparkle when they are lit from below, and the inner veins shine forth on translucent leaves. Whenever you uplight a tree canopy, be sure and include the trunk of the tree in the light beam as well. Otherwise you have the uncomfortable sense of a disembodied form floating above the ground.

Different trees benefit from different uplighting approaches. For a tree with a tall, willowy form, fine-textured foliage and an open canopy, use a minimum of three fixtures placed evenly around the tree to show off its full shape. For a conical evergreen, position the light fixture back far enough from the plant and set the angle so the entire side of the tree is washed with light. In the case of trees with narrow, fastigiate forms, place a narrow-beam light directly at the base and aim it straight up (or at a slight angle) so the light grazes the surface of the plant, showing off the foliage texture.

Japanese lace leaf maples (Acer palmatum ‘Dissectum’), are ideal candidates for uplighting from inside the tree near the center, so the light shines through the canopy of leaves in summer and shows the branch structure in silhouette in winter.

Grazing the surface of tree trunks and building surfaces with light will emphasize the surface texture and pattern. Place the light at the base of the object and shine it directly upwards.  This technique is particularly effective on trees with interesting bark such as river birch (Betula nigra) and paperbark maple (Acer grisieum), and on stucco, brick and stone walls where you get the textures of the building material and – in the case of brick and stone – the shadows created by the joints and mortar. It’s also great for emphasizing architectural features such as columns.

 Combining Uplighting and Downlighting 

Uplighting larger trees around the perimeter of a garden room establishes the walls and ceiling of the space. If these trees are close to the entertaining area, use downlight from these same trees to provide a subtle, natural and uniform light over the patio or deck area. 

 When a tree is lit with both uplighting and downlighting, the combination is magic. The tree is highlighted by the beam of light focusing along its trunk and up into its branches, while at the same time the general area is softly lit, as if bathed in the glow of the moon.


Shine a light from behind to make an interesting object stand out in silhouette. Use this lighting technique on a tree or shrub that has a simple, striking form that is well defined in outline. The plant will show up best if it is near a fence or wall, or in the open where there aren’t other forms to distract from the silhouette.


Double your viewing pleasure by shining a light in front of an object so that its shape is perfectly reproduced in shadow on the wall or fence behind. Like silhouetting, this technique is most effective on objects that have a remarkable shape and outline. Front lighting shows up the details of an object to dramatic effect, but it also flattens objects because it eliminates shadows where the light is focused. 

Side and Wash Lighting

When you illuminate a building or object from the side, you increase the awareness of textures because of the shadows created by the angle of light. In contrast, when you place a fixture directly in front, but some distance away from the subject, you get an even wash of light over the entire surface. The effect shows off the shape of the object being illumined, but the overall effect is flat because you don’t have the shadowing to provide contours.

 Lighting Sculptures 

Generally, when you uplight a sculpture, you want the light source to be back from the object so the light covers it evenly. Otherwise you’ll get dark shadows created by the sharp angle of the light. Experiment with the fixture location until you find the best solution. In some cases, such as when the foliage texture or pattern behind a sculpture adds to the drama of the setting, a combination of uplight behind as well as a spotlight in front may be the answer. It draws the background into the picture, incorporating it as part of the overall composition.

Mapping out the Neighborhood

Check out this new tool! Realtor® Magazine Online has added something new to its Interactive Market Research Map feature. Not only can users find the latest quarterly median home price for their local markets – as well as any percentage changes from the previous quarter – they can now find out median commute times for each metro area!

Time spent commuting is a growing concern among buyers. NAR’s 2009 Profile of Buyers and Sellers survey showed commuting costs were important to 78 percent of all home buyers.

The map allows users to click and zoom in on the location of their choice. They can also “grab” and move the map around to find the area of the U.S. they’re most interested in viewing.

The interactive map can be adjusted to different viewing modes for a more personalized experience. Users can choose from a Street Map, Satellite, Terrain or 3D version. To view the map, visit

Make Sure You Have a Real Estate Marketing Plan

Only for the rare few sellers, simply placing a “For Sale” yard sign on the front lawn creates a line of traffic filled with potential buyers. If you want buyers to see your Smith Mountain Lake home, you’ve got to find them.  The key is marketing.  To get the most exposure for your home, you should have a Real Estate marketing plan with clear objectives which specifically outlines the resources that will be used to reach potential buyers.

Each marketing plan should be designed around your property and capitalize on its most desirable features.  Therefore, you need to be honest with your real estate professional about the condition of your home, and the final price you are willing to accept for your home.

Next, you need to determine what marketing options work best to reach your desired audience. Generally there are two audiences you are trying to reach—home buyers and other real estate professionals.  Make sure the plan includes action steps on how each audience will be marketed to.

Seldom is the successful marketing of a property the result of a single activity. Your strategy should include a variety of marketing activities. Using only conventional marketing strategies such as Open Houses, newspaper ads and direct mail can limit your outreach. Most homebuyers now begin their home search online. Having a presence on your real estate professional’s personal and or company Web site gives you worldwide exposure. Besides the increased exposure, online listings also allow buyers to get a sneak peek of your home. Therefore, you may want to compliment the listings with plenty of photos and a virtual tour, which allows viewers to get a preview of your home without leaving their computer.

Also, don’t forget the power of email. Sending email flyers or electronic postcards are easy and cost efficient. During your planning, your real estate professional may recommend other marketing tools such as company/broker tours and an Open House. Work with your real estate professional to determine the best options for your market.

Besides identifying marketing tools, an effective marketing plan will also spell out specific dates for the marketing activities.  It should leave room for unscheduled events such as following up with sales professionals or brokers who preview or show the home.

Make sure the marketing plan includes checkpoints, possibly at the 15-, 30- and 45-day marks, to review activity on the home and determine if changes need to be made to the marketing plan or pricing strategy.

As the home seller, you should be kept in the loop on activity of your home. The marketing plan should state how you will be communicated with (mail, phone, email, in person) and the frequency (daily, weekly, etc.).

Of course these are just guidelines, but can give you an idea if the marketing plan your real estate professional has proposed to you has to be refined.  You need to be comfortable with the marketing strategy for your home.  An effective plan will not only put you at ease, but also give your home maximum exposure to increase your chances of a quick sell.