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Ask McEnearney: Why do local traditions matter when selling a home?


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: Why do local traditions matter when selling a home?

Answer: In February, I told you about the somewhat painful and sometimes silly family organization of my parents’ home to prep it for sale. (Click here for a refresher.) What I didn’t tell you was about the toddler-sized nutcrackers in my mother’s collection, which scared everyone who stayed in the guest room, or the drama caused when a large, live opossum landed on the chest of the HVAC technician installing new systems in the crawl space.

Next came the selling… I tried not to be the “out-of-state” buttinsky, fancy pants, Realtor daughter with all the East Coast “how to sell” ideas. On that, I was only partially successful. (I’ve got to work on restraining myself — ha!)

Yes, I had interviewed listing agents and found a wonderful broker and firm. They are experts in their market (operative word: “their”) and patiently listened when I would veer into stories of the state of real estate in the D.C.-area market.

For instance, on pricing… The beautiful, custom 3+-bedroom, 3.5-bath detached house with sunroom, huge screened-in porch overlooking a glorious, landscaped lot was to be listed for $359,000. They had to hear me exclaim my shock, knowing that this gem would go for $1,359,000 if it were in Belle Haven.

For instance, on home inspections… While one potential buyer did a pre-contract inspection, which was a rarity, others often ask for 10-14 days because there aren’t many qualified inspectors nearby.

For instance, on other contingencies… In contrast to our area, no one there waives appraisal or financing — or offers their first-born child to secure the chance to even be in play. Here, it’s hard to get an offer to get passing attention with any of these contingencies included.

For instance, on earnest money deposits… Shockingly low checks accompany contracts, mostly 1% of the sales price, while here we almost always see 3-5% (or more).

For instance, on terminology… Ratification is called binding, etc.

For instance, on timing… There is no or very limited hesitation to taking the first contract coming through the door, but I requested nine days for showings before looking at any offers, as we have been seeing in our metropolitan area. Agents in that area apparently think the idea of waiting is rude, but I compromised with seven days.

EPILOGUE: The spiffed, cleared and beautifully photographed home in a highly desirable neighborhood got a full measure of showings during that week, one pre-contract inspection, and on the offer due date received three contracts. And, again contrary to D.C.’s new normal, sold for $8,000 less than the asking price at $351,000.

No wonder there is such sticker shock and the need for strategy boot camps when buyers start looking in VA/DC/MD, and no wonder I was so surprised in reverse because I didn’t know their local ways and traditions. I needed smart, local Realtor guidance — and to be simply a good daughter, not an agent.

Listen to those who know the ways to best guide you. Experience will win out.

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! 

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. www.McEnearney.com Equal Housing Opportunity. #WeAreAlexandria

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