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Ask McEnearney: How do I get a house ready to sell when I live out of town?

This week’s Q&A column is sponsored and written by Lisa Groover of McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria. To learn more about this article and relevant Alexandria market news, contact Lisa at 703-919-4426 or email [email protected]. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

Question: How do I get a house ready to sell when I live out of town?

Answer: Funny you should ask… I have had the opportunity to help five sellers in the past year in this very same situation. One couple had been renting their home for over 10 years — they live in Canada. The second rented his townhouse for about 15 years — he lives 1.5 hours away. I am working on three more now. One is an estate with the executor living in South Carolina. Another is a large single-family home, and the owners have already moved to their farm in Tennessee. And one will close this week with the sellers signing remotely from California.

I cannot say that it is easy; however, working with an experienced team of professionals who can lessen the burden of getting a home ready for market makes a big difference in an already stressful situation.

Selecting a real estate agent who has long-standing relationships with contractors, painters, hardwood and carpet experts, plumbers, and decluttering and staging professionals will make your task more manageable. I have worked with long-distance sellers on projects from completely gutting and remodeling kitchens and bathrooms; selecting all new appliances, vanities, mirrors, window treatments and lights; to having the house painted and hiring contractors to make repairs and updates.

My list of contacts includes companies that specialize in clearing out unwanted furniture and taking items to donation sites and to the dump. I met with a decluttering and staging expert today to decide what to pack away or move out of the house and what items to use for staging. I am walking through a property with a landscaper later this week to discuss an expansive yard clean-up and ways to create more curb appeal.

I asked a current client to share some of her thoughts about working with me from another state, and she responded: “You managed the entire process of getting the house on the market so that I did not have to travel to Virginia at all. I also appreciated the way you handled the sensitive situation where the children had a difficult time going through their mother’s personal belongings.”

Here’s an example of the difference a powder room renovation can make. The old vanity was dated with a dark wood whereas the new one is crisp and bright.

In another situation, the seller initially said he did not want to do any updating to an older townhome. Once we explored a variety of options and compared the price of the renovations and the potential increase in value, he decided to do quite a bit of renovating. In the end, he made the decision to modernize his house, resulting in over $100,000 more in the sales price!

“In just several months Lisa valued my townhouse in relation to the market; made recommendations to help its presentation; suggested a pricing strategy for optimum positioning; and on an almost daily basis, managed, coordinated and communicated all the work being done,” the seller said. “Lisa has trusted loyal professionals she recommends, including painters, carpenters, plumbers, electricians and cleaners, and it seemed as though whatever needed to be done, she was able to make it happen.”

Check out some of these before and after pictures of the dining room and kitchen renovation that was done to list this home for sale.

Before the renovation, the dining room and kitchen were separated by a wall and the kitchen was very tight for food preparation.
After removing the wall, the ever-coveted open concept dining room and kitchen will elegantly play host to gatherings large and small.

Whether you are thinking of buying or selling — or just need suggestions for updating your home — I am happy to provide suggestions and ideas or recommend contractors for your specific projects. I am a resource for the duration of homeownership, not just the buying or selling process. Feel free to reach out anytime!

Lisa Groover is a licensed real estate agent with McEnearney Associates, Inc. in Old Town Alexandria, VA. As an active member of the community since 1989, Lisa specializes in Alexandria, and is thrilled to have the opportunity to work closely with her friends, neighbors, former clients, and their referrals.

In addition to enjoying the Old Town lifestyle and the art related events and activities, she is a member of a number of volunteer organizations. Having had eight Golden Retrievers, she is dedicated to helping other dog owners through the challenges of renting, buying and selling their 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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Time flies when you’re having fun! The T.C. Williams High School Class of 1973 will hold its 50th reunion July 21-23, 2023 in Alexandria. All graduates and their adult nears and dears are welcome. Events include a Friday evening icebreaker, Saturday dinner dance, and a Sunday brunch. For more information:, 770.789.3534.

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