Ask McEnearney: This might be a silly question, but…

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 703-244-6115 or email [email protected]. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

Question: This might be a silly question, but…?

Answer: “I have a silly question” is something that I hear far too frequently and usually followed by something that I’ve been asked before and isn’t silly at all. Frankly, in my opinion, there are no silly questions.

Before I went full time into real estate, I taught health to 6-12th graders. Like real estate, the stakes were pretty high if questions went unasked. Believe me when I reiterate my opinion that there are NO silly questions. If there is something that you want to know about one of the largest purchases you will likely make — don’t be afraid to ask!

In the meantime though, here are a few of the most commonly asked “silly” questions that I get all the time!

Does the seller have to tell me if there is a ghost in their home? AKA, What must be disclosed?

To me, this is the epitome of a “silly question” and when I say that I mean: something everyone wants to know but doesn’t want to ask. Just further proof that a silly question doesn’t exist. Anyway, to answer the question in short — not in Virginia they don’t.

Sellers are only required to disclose material facts that would affect the value of the home, but ghosts are definitively non-material. Virginia is a “caveat emptor” state, which means “buyer beware”. In fact, the Virginia Residential Property Disclosure is a document listing sixteen items, from “Condition” & “Defective Drywall” to “Sexual Offenders” & “Historic District Ordinance”. All sixteen begin with the verbiage “The owner(s) makes no representations…”

While this may sound disheartening for those looking to buy property in the future, don’t worry — there are many opportunities for you to find out most of this information. Your Realtor will help you with resources and inspectors to ensure that you are well aware of what you are getting into before moving in.

Can I look in the closet? AKA, How up close and personal can I get with a home I want to buy?

As a general rule of thumb, I’d say treat a home that you are viewing the way you would want a visiting friend to treat your home, but maybe just a little nosier. Sellers will expect potential buyers to open a closet, go in an attic and poke around in the basement. However, things like adjusting the thermostat, turning on appliances, touching personal items, and forcing open something that’s been painted shut are definitely things to avoid.

A home showing is a time to see if you like the home. An inspection is the time to check if things are in order since inspectors are licensed and insured.

Who pays who? AKA, ANY money questions

If we haven’t gotten real enough — let’s get REALLY real. No one likes to talk about money, especially in the terms of “how much am I paying you?” But, it is a very valid question and one that must be addressed.

As a home buyer, all of the money you pay will go towards your home purchase. In addition to your down payment, there are closing costs that you will owe, mostly to the lender and settlement company in order to process your loan and title work. The Realtors however, are paid by the seller.

Will I need to buy new appliances? AKA, What comes with the home?

While it is typical in Virginia for all items attached to the home to convey (or come with) the home, this doesn’t always apply. The sales contract includes a list of conveyances, and it can typically be assumed that if a home has an item on the list, it will convey. However, there can always be exceptions.

Sample conveyances list from a real estate contract

Perhaps there is a light fixture that has been in the family for generations, or a hot tub that the seller already has plans for moving into their new home. In contrast, some homeowners have custom fit pieces such as bookshelves or custom rugs that would make no sense in their new home, so they leave it behind. While Realtors know what is “the usual” in their area, it is still important to double check each listing’s conveyances so that you aren’t disappointed.

For Sellers, I’d always recommend leaving the appliances. Most buyers would be disappointed to fall in love with a home that doesn’t come with any appliances, and they can tend to overestimate the amount they will cost. It is usually much more cost effective to simply leave the stove behind for the new buyer.

All of these questions above are actual questions I’ve been asked by more than one person. They’ve also all been qualified by the descriptive “silly question”. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I will repeat — there are no silly questions!

Even if you think you know, but aren’t sure, ask! There should be a level of trust with you and your Realtor that you don’t feel silly asking the “silly questions”. Frankly, I’d venture to say that any professional who makes you feel silly after asking a question isn’t a professional at all.

Hope Peele is a licensed real estate agent with McEnearney Associates, Inc. in Alexandria, Virginia. She grew up in Old Town and currently lives in Del Ray. As a partner with The Peele Group, Hope is dedicated to guiding her clients successfully through the many faceted process of buying or selling a home. Contact Hope at 703-244-6115.

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