Trends and Technology in Home Design and Construction

Guest article by Jacqueline Bishop

Technology Is Taking Home Design Into The Future

Imagine being able to control the angle and amount of sunlight that enters your home according to the hour, designing and printing your own décor items with a 3D printer, or sleeping within your very own ‘entertainment capsule’ where you can watch various channels on a flat TV screen all at once. Modern design has been holding sway in architecture as much as it has in interiors, influenced by groundbreaking technology that beckons homeowners to experience greater comfort and functionality without losing out on aesthetic artistry. If you are designing a new home, why not consider fitting it with new tech features that can ensure your home has optimal appeal?

Recessed sliding doors for greater uniformity

Sliding doors are a popular feature in modern homes, replacing traditional doors that open in on other rooms. If in the past, these doors were by necessity at different levels to adjacent walls, these days they remain completely adjacent with the latter, and are even made in the same material for greater uniformity. Added features of these high-tech doors include touch control - i.e. the sliding door is opened by simply touching it, and closed by raising your hand. We bet you won’t be able to resist saying “Open Sesame” - at least in the first few days you call this cutting-edge system yours.

Gradient panel systems for bespoke natural lighting

If you want to regulate the amount of natural light that enters your home, gradient panel systems are a high-tech choice that enables you to save energy and enjoy all the privacy you need. These panels are made of coated aluminum and covered in the same material as the facade of your home. The panels are powered by a motor and each can move completely independently, up to 360º. Homeowners can then program the panels on one of the various modes, including direct sun (in which the panels align themselves such that the maximum amount of light enters a home), shade (in which the panels rotate to block the sun from entering) and closed (for ultimate privacy and darkness indoors).

Futuristic electronics

How does a transparent television, a door handle with self-sterilization, or a media player that uses photovoltaic cells to draw in solar polar sound? Modern home gadgets and electronics are creating futuristic ambiances within homes while providing very practical solutions to typical problems. Décor items transform from opaque to transparent, or dark to light with a flick of a button. Items such as coffee tables which display pictures from your last trip or recent Instagram session. The idea is to turn décor or furniture items into sources of entertainment, energy, or light.

Transforming spaces

Academics at MIT have created a micro-apartment called CityHome that transforms a 15x15 space into a study, kitchen, bedroom, and lounge, all in one. A wall mounted device allows you to morph your room into the space you need. Is it study time? Then press a button and a desk will descend from the ceilings and the light shines more brightly. At bedtime, your bed emerges, and when you are planning on entertaining, space is automatically cleared for chairs and a table for your guests.

We have mentioned just a few ways that technology is helping modern homeowners make the most of the available space, control aspects like light, or create greater uniformity in their living spaces. Tech can create major or minor spaces, but even one gadget (such as a transparent television) can express your penchant for contemporary design. Meanwhile, developments like CityHome are showing that you don’t need a big, expensive home to make the most of the new technological developments that are as handy as they are beautiful to behold.

Investing in Richmond

Investing in Richmond

If you’re thinking about investing in real estate in Richmond, Virginia here are some good questions and answers that will get you started. Snipes Properties provides turn-key real estate investment solutions for investors, landlords, estates and REO Servicers including property brokerage, asset management and property management services. We help clients find great deals, sell properties quickly and keep their investments operating at peak potential.

Looking for a good Real Estate Investing Software? Try RehabValuator and RentalValuator. We recommend it to our clients.

What neighborhoods have good rental trends?

Most areas in Richmond have strong rental demand and making a good real estate investment requires choosing properties with strong long term demand and steady rental income. Some areas in the Richmond, Virginia region have greater demand because of local factors like a university or college, large regional employers or centralized locations. VCU, UR, VUU and MCV are some of the regions largest universities and all have large student populations that benefit the neighborhoods around  them in terms of rental rates and demand. These neighborhoods include: The Fan District and Museum District for VCU. Jackson Ward and Carver both serve VCU and VUU. Oregon Hill, Monroe Ward, Shockoe Bottom and Church Hill all serve VCU and MCV students. Westhampton, the Malvern area, and Carytown both serve UR and VCU students. Areas like Short Pump, the West End, Innsbrook, Midlothian, Mechanicsville and I-288 all have large concentrations of businesses near them so many people will relocate around these areas to be close to employment. You can also find strong rental demand in neighborhoods that are close to the major regional hospitals like St. Mary’s, MCV, Henrico Doctor’s Hospital, Memorial Regional and St. Francis Medical Center.

Developing your Real Estate Investment strategy.

Before you can begin investing, you need to determine your goals and develop a clear strategy. Do you want a turn-key investment or are you looking for a more hands on property? How much capital do you have to put down? What lenders are you going to work with and what kind of financing options are available to you? Are you interested in buying a multifamily or single family home to rent out or are you more interested in commercial real estate? It is important to be very detailed oriented and to research everything thoroughly upfront. Once you determine these key things then you can narrow down what types of properties are right for your investment portfolio and what areas are best suited for that property type.

How to Find Good Investment Properties?

There are several ways of finding good deals including both traditional and non-traditional methods. Many excellent investment opportunities can simply be found by using the right real estate agent or broker. In fact, most experts agree that the value that a good real estate broker can bring to your real estate investment activities will vastly outpace the commission brokers and agents charge. Other ways of finding real estate investment property are: For Sale by Owner properties, Bank Owned or Foreclosure properties, Trustee and Estate Sales, Auctions and Distressed Property situations like a Short Sale. Unless you have years of experience buying and selling properties you almost certainly need some kind of real estate professional involved in your transaction. Whether it’s a Realtor/Agent/Broker or a Real Estate Attorney depends on your experience and background, but you will almost always need someone to help prepare and coordinate the contracts, deed preparation and closing. Many entry-level investors immediately assume they can make money by avoiding real estate commissions, but this can be a big mistake. Most real estate agents do a good job of preparing contracts and coordinating the various tasks to ensure a deal closes smoothly. But some brokers actually specialize in working with investors and investment properties. These kinds of brokers often hear about good deals before they come on the market and will share them with their best clients first.  So most long term successful investors usually partner up with one of these brokers to help them find and negotiate good deals. Not only does this give them access to attractive properties it also reduces the time and legwork required for your real estate investment portfolio.


What are some good Property Management tips?

Once you have purchased your real estate investment property, now you will have to manage the property so it consistently produces income. The two biggest keys to property management are finding good tenants and keeping the property well maintained. Finding and screening well qualified tenants is by far the single most important part of owning an investment property. Whether it’s a commercial property or single family home having a good steady paying tenant can make or break your investment. The other key aspect is to keep up with maintenance and repairs on your property so they don’t turn into large issues. Property Management is complicated and involves a whole range of activities from collecting rent, preparing well written leases, evicting tenants when needed, making repairs and having good book keeping procedures. Many investors don’t have the time to actively handle all of these activities for their real estate investment portfolio so they wil out source or hire someone to help them. Many use a local property management company. Property Managers will generally provide a turn-key solution which encompasses finding tenants for your property, collecting the rent as well as handling maintenance and book keeping.

Good Articles & Resources about Investing

Should I Put My Rental Property in an LLC

Basics Of Seller Financing & How to Use It

How to Calculate The Cap Rate

Real Estate Investing 101

Real Estate Investment Software


If you would like to speak with our Investor Team call 804-482-4200 and ask to speak with Carter Snipes or email him directly at

10 Step Guide to Getting a Virginia Real Estate License and finding a real estate school Richmond VA

10 Step Guide to Getting a Virginia Real Estate License and finding a real estate school Richmond VA

Snipes Properties

1.) Real Estate Classes: Research real estate schools Richmond Va that offer the Principles of Real Estate course. This course is required by the State of Virginia. In Virginia, the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation, or DPOR, regulates service professions like real estate sales (or real estate brokerage) and require a 40 hour course and an examination. A Real Estate School Richmond Va must certified by DPOR. These real estate schools will typically offer a classroom-based course or an online course that ends with a school Exam. Your type of learning preference should determine what type of class is right for you. A real estate school richmond will cost between $190-$400 depending on the value the course offers. Once you pass this exam, then you graduate and will sit for the State Exam.  At Snipes Properties, we have partnered with Moseley Real Estate Schools. get more information here.

2.) State Exam: Once you have completed the class from a certified real estate school in Richmond you will need to take the proctored VA State exam. This test is administered by PSI Exams. They are a private contractor employed by the State of Virginia to administer the State Real Estate Exam. The exam is divided into two parts, a State Law portion and a Federal Law portion. You must receive a passing score on both portions to receive a salesperson license.

3.) Activate License: Once you pass your exam you will receive certification from PSI Exams that you passed and they will electronically report that to DPOR. Wait, you don’t have a license just yet.

4.) Choose a Company: Research different real estate firms, or brokers. In the State of Virginia when you receive your real estate license you are considered a real estate salesperson – But you must work for (or hang your license with) a real estate broker or real estate firm. Firms offer different environments and business advantages. At Snipes Properties we offer a boutique team-based culture coupled with cutting-edge real estate training and technology. We also provide our new agents customer leads, which is rare at other firms. This allows agents to hit the ground running and get immediate experience. Email us to schedule an interview at

5.) Application: Once you have decided which firm or broker you want to affiliate with, you will then need to download the form entitled “Salesperson License by Examination Application” from DPOR’s website.

6.) Activation Fee: You must pay DPOR a fee of $170. The form must be signed by the Principal Broker of the firm you want to work for and you must deliver the original copy to DPOR. They do not accept faxes or email. You can mail it, but it is highly recommend that you hand deliver it.

7.) Display License: DPOR will then issue you a license which will be mailed to the firm you are working for. They will hold your license on file and you will receive a “wallet version” to keep with you like a driver license. At this point, you are technically licensed and can work in a variety of companies that offer real estate services in the State of Virginia including commercial firms or property management companies. Most new licensees are likely to go into residential sales and they will also need to become a REALTOR and join the Richmond Association of REALTORS or RAR.

8.) Become a Realtor: To join RAR, you will need to complete their new member form and enroll in orientation class. The cost to become a Realtor is broken up into several separate fees and is approximately $1500 upfront.

9.) MLS Access: Once you complete the orientation class and pay the fees, you will be given access to the Central Virgina Regional Multiple Listing Service, or CVRMLS, or just MLS for short.

10.) Start your Career: You are now a Licensed Real Estate Salesperson and a REALTOR! But, the real work has just begun!! Now you need sales training to begin your real estate career. At Snipes Properties we offer a work-while-you-learn program that is designed by the industry leader in real estate sales training. You use a program called 100 Days to Greatness that was developed by Brian Buffini. He is one of the nations most prolific real estate trainers.

To learn more about our Program simply request a one-on-one Career Counseling appointment with one of our brokers.  Email us at


real estate schools richmond



Get Your License and come work at Snipes Properties!

If you’re just exploring the opportunities of a real estate career and need to find  real estate school in Richmond, or if you are already licensed, consider the advantages of working with a successful boutique team like ours. Here are 2 great articles that you must read first. The first is on getting licensed and has a step by step guide to the process and costs of real estate licensing in Virginia. The second is about the best kind of training for new agents. If you are motivated, aggressive and willing to work hard then come talk with us first! We’ve got a great team approach that is perfect for the right people!

We Build Better Agents! How?

1.) Award-Winning Team – Since our inception, only a few years ago, our team has won every award category bestowed by the Richmond Association of Realtors. We have transacted over 40 Million Dollars in Sales Volume and been ranked as one of the Top 10 Teams in the Richmond area! Our associates have won the silver, gold, platinum, diamond, emerald and  ruby awards in addition to winning the Dominion Commercial Award.

2.) Multi-Faceted, Full Service Firm – We are one of the areas only truly full service companies offering opportunities in Residential Sales, Leasing, Property Management, Commercial, Land Sales and Development. So, no matter what your passion, we have the expertise, training and technology to help you achieve your goals. If you are serious about a real estate career, we can provide the tools, training and technology!

3.) Training and Support – We are a certified “100 Days to Greatness” office. 100 Days to Greatness is the single most successful real estate training program in the country which thousands of top producing agents around the nation have used to jumpstart their real estate career. The program on average helps to generate 5.6 Transactions during the course. Are you ready to see production like that? Also, we have 2 full time brokers, so you will always get that one-on-one attention that you really need to be successful.

4.) Ultra-Savvy Technology – No matter what the latest trend in technology is, Snipes Properties is always ahead of the curve. Whether it’s our top ranked WordPress Blog which gets some of the top organic positions on Google or our use of Web 2.0 platforms to syndicate and promote our listings. Or our extensive use of Video, Social Media and Mobile Search. We can show you how to launch your real estate career by positioning yourself for the next generation of real estate trends.

5.) Boutique Culture –  The beauty of a small company, is that you will never feel left out or alone. And you will be part of one of the most successful real estate companies in Richmond Va. We work as a team, sell as a team and win as a team! That’s our philosophy, no matter how many transactions we do, or how successful we are. With us, you’re not just a number, you’re apart of something different! For us real estate is not just a job, it’s a lifestyle. We’re passionate about it, we have fun with it and we’re successful because that kind of culture shows in our work. Can you think of a better place to start your real estate career?

Contact Carter Snipes for a private interview: or Direct at 804-480-4200

Our real estate firm has teamed up with Moseley Real Estate Schools!

Moseley has been training students in the real estate industry since 1972 and offers real estate education for Salesperson Licensing, Broker Licensing, and Continuing Education, and Post License Education. Get your free real estate education today!

If you are looking for a real estate schools richmond, or want information about real estate licensing in Richmond, Virginia just shoot us an email and we will send you a complete guide to getting your real estate license in Virginia.


3rd floor.jpg


It’s common to see this in commercial real estate listings or advertisements. Triple Net Lease, or NNN, is one in which the tenant is responsible for all of the expenses that come with the commercial real estate, in addition to the monthly rent. Those extra expenses are usually: property tax, property insurance, and maintenance or common area expenses. These are the most common but with a NNN lease all expenses related to the property are generally covered by the Tenant. A triple net lease is different than a gross lease or modified lease, in which some or all expenses are paid by the Landlord and included in the rent. Triple Net is generally considered to be lower risk for the landlord because all of the costs are paid for by the tenant. Sometimes the market rent may be lower to offset this cost on the tenant. However, for businesses like restaurant and retail, triple net is the norm in most prime locations. Triple net leases are often leased to just one single tenant in an entire building. But, a triple net lease can also have more than one tenant or have multiple tenants in a large building or center. A common variation is where all tenants in a location, like a strip mall, would all have separate leases, however, they each pay a pro rata share of the triple net expenses or a CAM fee (common area maintenance fee) on the entire property. This fee covers the cost of all the property expenses and is divided among all the tenants.

Other types of commercial leases:

Full service – is a type of lease where the landlord pays for all of the building expenses and the tenant simply pays a monthly rent. Sometimes this can include janitorial and cleaning services and sometimes it can also include all of the utilities as well. This type of lease is common in multi-tenant office buildings or properties that cater to small businesses. These leases do generally have clauses that allow the landlord to charge for any increases in the building expenses. For example, if the heat costs are higher than average one year, the lease allows the landlord to pass on the extra cost to the tenants.

Modified Gross – is like a full service lease except some expenses are excluded like Utilities or Taxes and paid for directly by the tenant.

Percentage Lease – is where the tenant pays the base rent AND a percentage of revenue or sales from the business. This type of lease is most common in retail settings like a mall.

Should I Put My Rental Property in an LLC?

Below is a guest blog post from Steven McDonnough, who is a Financial Consultant that we work with. His article clearly outlines the benefits of owning any rental property in an LLC. Many investors don’t put their properties into an LLC until they own several properties, and for some clients there may be reasons not to, but Steven makes a good case for the need to do so even for just one property. We have seen many clients struggle with real estate investing because they lack 3 key tools: 1.) Good advisers that understand the market you are investing in and have solid reputations like a Realtor, a Lender and a Contractor. 2.) The right analysis tools to help guide the decision making. I personally use RentalValuator an easy to understand Excel modeling template for real estate investing. 3.) Financing Appropriate to their level of of risk. Many first time investors jump into "hard money" and "whole selling", but those are not always appropriate techniques for investors just getting started. Read the article and leave a comment below. If you want to try the real estate modeling software that I use here are the links to a free download - Try RehabValuator and RentalValuator.

————- Carter Snipes, Snipes Properties

Should I Put My Rental Property in an LLC?

Personal v. Entity Owned Real Estate Investment Properties

Investment property is usually defined as real estate that is primarily purchased to buy and sell for a profit in the future or to produce rental income. However, there are several factors to take into account when deciding to purchase an investment property. Understanding the many components of investment property ownership can avoid a lot of headaches down the road. Many investors with real estate investment properties own them personally. A more prudent way to own real estate for investment purposes is to transfer ownership to a Limited Liability Company (LLC). This method not only protects it’s owner-member’s personal assets ; cash, equity in real estate, primary residence, investment accounts, retirement accounts, etc. – from litigation; but it also allows for flexible profit distribution among their members.

Legal Benefits

The primary reason to form an LLC is for the legal protection it offers. If the owner has a personal creditor, the creditor generally cannot make a claim on the property owned by the LLC or other corporate entity. Should any tenants, their guests, or anyone on the property sustain any injuries, and if the property is owned in the client’s name, the owner’s personal assets are at risk. Example: An owner has a rental property that is occupied by a young couple. They have a holiday party and one of their guests falls down stairs and is hospitalized. The guest sues the owner for his injuries, stating the stairs were hazardous. If the guest successfully wins the claim against the owner, any judgment in excess of the liability insurance can be satisfied with the owner’s personal assets.

Tax Benefits

From a tax perspective, an LLC formed with two or more members is classified as a “pass-through” company. A “Pass-through” means its income is passed through to its owners and claimed on those owners’ individual tax returns. Hence, it is subject only to capital gains rates on the ownership shares of the member, and not to corporate capital gains taxes, therefore there is no double taxation. LLCs with just one owner-member, however, are taxed as a sole proprietorship and no separate tax return is required. Actual tax dollars saved from holding real estate in an LLC opposed to personally holding the properties is zero. As of 2011, if you own income property and actively participate in the management of the property and your adjusted gross income is less than $150,000, you can write off up to $25,000 in rental losses. The amount of rental losses that you can write off is proportionately phased out between $100,000 and $150,000. For example, if your adjusted gross income is $125,000, you can write off $12,500 in rental losses in the year of the loss. If your adjusted gross income is $150,000 or more, you cannot write off any rental losses on your tax return in the year of the loss. Also remember that although the loss is disallowed for that particular tax year it is not completely lost. When you sell your income property, you can write-off any unused rental losses that have accumulated while you have owned the property.

Want a great software program to help analyze your real estate deals? Check out this program from Daniil Kleyman of True Vision Analytics. I use both of his programs, RentalValuator and RehabValuator. They are very detailed, but still pretty easy to use. I recommend the premium version for all of the upgraded reporting and using the tutorials, which will show you things like a Cash Out Refi Analysis. Also, his flipping version, RehabValuator, has a formula that calculates the ideal acquisition price for any flip deal, so you never overpay for a property.

Estate Planning Benefits

The formation of a LLC for the purpose of holding investment real estate has estate planning advantages as well. It allows for the transfer of ownership in the property in a more seamless manner than if personally owned. In many circumstances property owners wish to gift certain percentages of their real estate to children or other family members. For real estate not held in an LLC this process can require many trips to the county courthouse to update deeds that will require changes every time percentages of ownership change. In cases where real estate is owned in an LLC, the owner-members can simply issue membership certificates to the child or family member and no changes need be made to the deed with the county.

Whether you own twenty properties or one, owning them personally can be a major liability. All of your hard work and planning that lead to the ability to own real estate could be wiped out with one misfortune. Hopefully the insight provided in this article has helped you better understand the benefits of forming an LLC and provided you with perspective on the pros and cons of ownership structures when purchasing property for investment purposes.

If you have any questions about buying or selling investment properties feel free to email your questions to