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Ask McEnearney: What Happens When Your Ducks Won’t Stay in a Row?

This week’s Q&A column is sponsored and written by Ann Duff of McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria. To learn more about this article and relevant Alexandria market news, contact Ann at 703-965-8700 or email [email protected]. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

Question: What happens when your ducks won’t stay in a row?

Answer: Some of us are planners, and some of us are part-time planners and part-time “Winging-it”-ers.

Even planners have been thrown for a loop by 2020. This past spring/summer has made the most organized people I know distracted and upended by events.

The strategic thinkers in the rental world today are a good example. They are the ones looking ahead and getting “their ducks in a row,” for the next stages of life — a different rental or possibly even an eventual purchase. They have tracked and improved their credit scores, made sure to have a good relationship with their landlords, paid rent on time and kept their pets calm and quiet. What could go wrong for them? They have “The Plan.”

Well, how about the recent rain and wind storms? Flooding in their apartment three times in the last three weeks made M & C’s* apartment uninhabitable and they had to move immediately. Landlord relationship intact? You bet, he even put them up in another property he owned and let them out of the existing lease. With the immediate help of a realtor, a great new place was found, though there was competition for the property.

The flood meant they could take the lease in days, not weeks, so they prevailed, but couldn’t get a mover — during these COVID-19 times, end of the month and packed schedules meant all hands on deck. We had everyone calling everywhere and, at last, found a small company suggested by a big company willing to work on their normally off day of Sunday.

Not so lucky were R & T*, who learned they really did not know each other well. He had stellar credit and was proud of it, but learned that she, shall we say, had a rocky financial profile. True love was being tested when they applied for their rental and they were turned down by the owners based upon her very poor credit.

Those owners were worried about getting into “issues” with non-payment down the line. Lesson learned, R & T changed course and leased a smaller place using only his income and started working to raise her scores. A larger place will have to wait, but, by then, they may be able to purchase because a great loan is based on high scores for both buyers.

Meanwhile, recently recorded leaps of faith — two families rented big townhouse listings in Old Town and Arlington, sight unseen, except for FaceTime. Walking around with my iPhone and relying on professional online photos, these normally cautious people connected from California, went way outside their comfort zones and leased them using our online application system. Whew, luckily, they were delighted when they showed up with their moving trucks.

Finally and briefly, cash-strapped but gainfully-employed potential tenants, held significant, though low-paying jobs, turned down twice for not meeting the magical criteria for a rental, they were stressed. Doing noble work wasn’t enough to get them over the goal line, but they called and we started brainstorming. Lo and behold, they shared that their $35,000 savings account had never noted and was calmly sitting there. It made a huge difference in our try with their next application.

Again, lesson learned, remember to note proven savings in accounts, retirement plans, etc. so the processor or owner can see the whole picture. (Or put that “duck” on the menu!)

Alternatively, as Herman Wouk reminded us in The Caine Mutiny — “When in danger, when in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout!” (Though that won’t get you anywhere, Karen.)

Ann Duff — Your positive advantage for Residential and Commercial properties throughout the area. Experience and Energy, Negotiations and Knowledge — All with a splash of fun! Let’s Get Busy!

*Note: Names have been changed.

If you would like a question answered in our weekly column or to set up an appointment with one of our Associates, please email: [email protected] or call 703-549-9292.

McEnearney Associates Realtors®, 109 S. Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. Equal Housing Opportunity. #WeAreAlexandria

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