SML Tree Lighting and Holiday Open House Dec. 6

Event features holiday festivities, WE CARE toy drive and chance to win $1,000 shopping spree.

The Willard Companies is pleased to announce its annual Holiday Tree Lighting and Open House event at Westlake Towne Center on Thursday, December 6, 2012 from 5:30 – 8 p.m. Several holiday festivities are planned including four live concerts, horse and carriage rides, free pictures with Santa, and awarding a $1,000 shopping spree.

In addition, the first 150 individuals who donate a new, unwrapped toy to WE CARE of Franklin County during the event will be given a complimentary ticket to a special showing of “White Christmas” at Westlake Cinema showing after the event. Collection boxes for toy donations will be located inside the retail stores during the event and movie vouchers can be picked up after toy donation.

Activities taking place during the two hour event include:

  • Special arrival of Santa on a fire truck
  • Free photos with Santa sponsored by Your School Photos
  • Horse and Carriage Rides sponsored by Kroger
  • Live concert by Lakeside Singers
  • Live concert by The Mark Dubbeld Family
  • Live concert by Smith Mountain Lake Harmeneers
  • Live concert by EastLake Community Church members
  • Complimentary refreshments
  • WE CARE of Franklin County Toy Drive
  • Reading Education Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D.) at Westlake Library
  • Carilion Clinic Helipad site open for air ambulance tours and meet the crew
  • Special appearances by Miss Smith Mountain Lake and Miss Blue Ridge pageant winners
  • Free holiday coloring books to children donated by Carilion Clinic

Participating Westlake Towne Center businesses include Kroger, SweetFrog, Westlake Library, Merle Norman, Haywood’s Jewelers, Westlake Salon & Spa, and Cottage Gate. Carilion Clinic will also be participating.

The Fraser fir selected for the event will stand approximately 26’ tall and was picked from Roll Out Farm in Pilot, Virginia. The tree will be centrally located at the retail shopping center and stand in front of Westlake Library at Westlake Towne Center.

According to Christopher Finley, Director of Marketing and Public Relations for The Willard Companies, “The annual Tree Lighting and Open House is a festive event for the entire family. It also serves as an opportunity to collect toy donations to benefit WE CARE of Franklin County and many families who are in need this holiday season.”


Shop Local Campaign Begins November 23 “Black Friday”

The Willard Companies is sponsoring it’s annual “Shop Local” campaign by rewarding patrons who shop local at participating retail businesses within the Westlake Towne Center starting Friday, November 23 (“Black Friday”) through Friday, December 21, 2012.

Customers who spend a minimum of $35.00 at participating Westlake Towne Center retail businesses will receive two free movie passes to Westlake Cinema. The movie vouchers are good for all show times, but do not include concessions or 3-D premiums. Promotion is limited to one transaction per customer and while supplies last.

The participating retail businesses at Westlake Towne Center include: Verizon Wireless Zone, Haywood’s Jewelers, Merle Norman, Westlake Salon & Spa, The Cottage Gate, Smith Mountain Building Supply, UPS Store, The Cabinet Gallery, Interiors by Kris, City Electric Supply, Lake Home Medical, Smith Mountain Lake Wellness & Fitness, and Ferguson Kitchen and Bath.

According to Christopher Finley, Director of Marketing and Communications for The Willard Companies, parent company of Westlake Towne Center, “Shopping locally keeps money right here at Smith Mountain Lake and directly supports members of our community. This program is a way to reward those who recognize this importance.”

Qualifying customers can pick up movie vouchers by bringing store receipt to The Willard Companies corporate office located at 75 Builders Pride Drive, Suite 200 (behind Smith Mountain Building Supply and beside Ferguson Kitchen and Bath) between 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. The offices are closed from 12 – 1 for lunch. For additional information, please contact (540) 721-5288.

5 Steps for Success: Investing in Smith Mountain Lake Rental Property

Have you ever considered purchasing a rental property at Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia? Rental properties can be great investments, done right. In addition to realizing gains from property value appreciation, rental income can provide a monthly cash flow. Once the mortgage is paid off, much of your rental income will be profit, allowing you to work or to enjoy retirement.

Unlike your home, this investment isn’t something that you will be personally using day-to-day, so the benefits of ownership differ. Rental property is a tangible asset you can visit, use, and personally impact the worth of your investment. With sound judgment, and by following some basic steps, you can own property and realize gains; both short and long term.

Purchase with a Plan

Investing in real estate differs depending on the type and location of the property you are buying. Will you want to use the property part of the year? Vacation rentals are enticing on many levels, though considering how you will use them during less desirable periods may affect your potential rental income. Purchasing a residence has different implications than a property that will be rented commercially. Some investors buy properties with multiple units so they can have rental income from one or more units while fixing up and/or living in remaining units. Properties with multiple units have more to consider and maintain than properties that will be rented by a single person or entity. Knowing the type of landlord you intend to be will provide some focus as you consider properties. It will also provide valuable knowledge for your realtor helping with your search.

Being pre-approved for an investment loan and ensuring that your own finances are in order is not only wise, but will make it clear if you have enough capital to proceed. When taking on another mortgage, remember – you will want to have a healthy reserve fund in the event that the property produces less income than expected. Before you look at properties, sit down with a mortgage broker or lender to see how you qualify for a loan.

Research the local rental market so you know what you can realistically expect to charge and better understand the potential cash-flow of potential rental property.

Understand Your Investment

It is important to understand the condition of the building and surrounding property you intend to buy. Unless you are particularly knowledgeable about construction, always make offers for purchase contingent upon professional inspections.

Knowing the exact condition of the roof and foundation, plumbing and electrical, floors, appliances and other aspects of the property provides a much better sense of what you will need to repair, maintain, or upgrade for your tenants. In turn, this allows you to better understand the “bottom line” of your investment. After all, you are not likely to be present on a day-to-day basis to take note of any issues that arise. As the owner you have a vested interest in ensuring that the investment stays in good condition. You should have a budget for repairs and maintenance, and ensure that the purchase price enables you to make any necessary upgrades you might need to make prior to renting it to a tenant.

Additionally, you will want to know about locale, including parking and security issues and the zoning regulations that govern the property, including any multiple occupancy limitations and any restrictions on specific business activities. Your understanding of specific property, how it might be used, and the limitations you face when renting it out make you a better investor.

Evaluate Your Options

As you look at properties, consider your options – you have many. From location and style of building to type of rental and the number of units, each decision you consider will open new doors. Is this a long or a short-term investment? If the property is one that you think you will hold for a while, do you have a sense of what the future holds and how the neighborhood is changing? Buying properties in good locations is one of the best ways to ensure the steady flow of rental income.

And remember: properties don’t always have to stay the same. Consider things you could conceivably do to the property that might affect your income or investment. For example, can you add on to the home easily? Can you build a garage or change parking? Is it possible to convert a garage to an extra room? Are there regulations regarding subdividing or renovating the home? Can you add a bathroom?

Some communities limit the number of rental properties, while others have height or size limitations when building. If something you desire is not an option, know that going in. Even if you are not planning to change the property in any way in the beginning, understanding what you can and cannot do is a good idea.

Get Insurance and Assurance

Legal documents, including rental agreements between you and your tenants, and service agreements between you and concerned parties are essential. And don’t forget more mundane issues that can arise when renting out a property: If a community has fees for water, sewer, community clubs or other amenities, clarify responsibilities — will these be the responsibility of the owner or renter? Getting the right information out of the gate and spelling it out for your tenants will aid you in the end. These agreements will give you peace of mind and provide legal recourse should you need it.

A real estate lawyer is an invaluable asset when you purchase a rental property. Not only can a real estate lawyer look over your purchase and rental agreements, they can advise you in other aspects of your investment, including interpreting local regulations. Your realtor will undoubtedly be another great asset, as they are full of more general information regarding local issues and market trends and can likely provide referrals to local property management services should you be interested. The more resources you have on your side, the more assurance you will have that your investment will run smoothly.

Proper insurance includes insurance on the structure itself as well as liability insurance, in case someone is injured while on the premises. In some locations additional flood, earthquake, and storm related coverage is a further way to protect your investment. Since you are responsible for the mortgage, you will want to have the right types of insurance with sufficient coverage to protect your investment.

Remember: You’re In Business

Buying a rental property is essentially going into business. When the monthly income from tenants exceeds the amount you pay in mortgage, maintenance, taxes and other fees, you realize a positive cash flow in the short-term. Additionally, if all goes well, you will also realize a profit when selling the property. Doing your research as you look at properties and make your choices enables you to be as prepared as you can be for the ups and downs that you will face in managing your business. In fact, what you learn can make you much more successful in the end.

Like all businesses where significant money will be changing hands, an accountant who is versed in real estate investing and tax implications will be valuable. You will be collecting rents and incurring expenses for repairs and services. Tax issues become more complex, and a professional will aid you in maximizing your returns on your purchase. Service providers like this can pay for themselves in the money that they save you. Once you know the bottom line with regard to your investment, you will be better equipped to determine a budget for projects related to the property.

Whether this is your first rental property, or you are a seasoned veteran of this sort of investment, your realtor is among your business contacts. Having a straightforward relationship where you present your needs and expectations up front enables you to get the help you need in making that critical step of executing the purchase. Additionally, realtors often have a wealth of knowledge and resources that they are willing share from handymen to potential tenants.

Success in business is not accomplished alone – developing a team of professionals from purchase through ultimate sale of the property is one key to achieving your goals. Follow these steps as you go into your new venture and you will start strong. The rest is up to you!