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Ask McEnearney: On market or move — which comes first?

This week’s Q&A column is sponsored and written by Hope Peele of The Peele Group and McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria. To learn more about this article and relevant Alexandria market news, contact The Peele Group at 703-244-5852 or email [email protected]. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

Question: Should I move before putting my home on the market?

Answer: This question comes up very frequently. Even in a hot “seller’s market,” like the one we are in now, sellers still want to put their best foot forward to ensure that their home will receive the best offer. Like most real estate decisions, it really depends on what works for each individual. Here are a few things to consider with your Realtor when you are deciding on your moving timeline.

First, do you have somewhere else to go?

Most sellers don’t have a new home yet when they decide to sell. In a seller’s market, many sellers choose to sell FIRST, then find a new home. Unless you are in the rare position of owning multiple homes, it’s typical to not have a place to move into quite yet. Many sellers prefer to have the sale on their home agreed upon before looking for a new home to move into.

Once there is a contract on your home for sale, it puts you in a much more competitive and financially stable position for your future purchase. Sellers can even negotiate a rent-back period with the buyers, allowing them to stay in their home past settlement while they find that next new home. Rent-back periods can be for a week or even up to 60 days after settlement. This is a great option to allow a seller the time they need to identify a new home and move.

Another consideration: Do you have a place for your things to go?

If you are downsizing, you can begin to pare down belongings and make space in your home long before the sale process. While it’s great to be that organized, most sellers are on a much shorter timeline. Did you know your Realtor can help by providing names of trusted vendors to provide an array of services that include packing, hauling, off-site estate sale services and more?

Not everyone is downsizing. Many people move because they need more space — maybe you need a new home office or an extra bedroom. Maybe you’re not planning on getting rid of a lot or anything at all. When this is the case, is it even possible to live in a home that’s on the market? Of course it is.

Whatever your situation is, I strongly advise leaning heavily on your Realtor. My team brings in a stager to work with sellers, whether they are living in their home or selling it vacant. A lot of people don’t know this, but stagers will work with what you ALREADY have! Sometimes it’s as simple as rearranging a few armchairs, replacing a painting with a mirror or clearing counters. Regardless of how they do it, your Realtor should be able to walk you through how to live in your home — without looking like you actually live in it!

It almost goes without saying that another consideration on a lot of folks’ minds nowadays is COVID. Some are still understandably uncomfortable with strangers in their home and want to do everything they can to avoid exposure. Many sellers I’ve worked with are opting to leave their home for just a few days or the weekend. In a lot of ways, this is the best of both worlds. No extra moving — just extra relaxation (and someone making your bed for you!).

There are a number of local hotels that offer great rates for locals to have a nice little “staycation” in their own hometown, and some even allow dogs! Personally, I think that this is a great way to treat yourself, especially since sellers work so hard to get their home ready. If you are expecting a lot of activity the first few days on market, staying in a hotel is a nice way to sit back and let your Realtor take care of the appointments.

Of course, not all sellers live in the home they are selling. If you are selling a property that you are currently renting out, you may not have the option to put it on the market when it’s vacant. If this is the case, it is important to stay in close contact with your tenants so they will cooperate when the time comes to take photos or make showing appointments. You may even want to offer the tenant a few days away at an Airbnb to allow for lots of showings. Make sure that your Realtor is in touch with the tenants as well, so all parties involved remain on the same page at all stages.

In all honesty, staying or leaving is fine with a little work. If you leave or temporarily put things in storage, there is the potential that you will be moving twice — once into the temporary digs and again when you’ve found the new place. If you choose to stay, there is the possibility that you will have to leave — a lot — for showings, and many find the pressure of keeping things picked up and “show ready” to be daunting. If kids or pets are in the picture, it can be exponentially harder.

This is a decision that is important to really think through and discuss with your Realtor. Like most big changes in life, moving can come with a certain amount of stress, but if you’re working with the right professionals, those stresses should be greatly reduced, and you will soon be on your way to a wonderful new home.

Hope Peele is a licensed real estate agent with McEnearney Associates, Inc. She and her mother, Kim Peele, are The Peele Group serving Virginia and D.C. They are dedicated to helping clients through the challenges of buying or selling a home.

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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