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Ask McEnearney: How can my happy life get any crazier?

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: How can my happy life get any crazier?

Answer: Life comes at us fast, “where did the summer go” and suddenly you’ve been offered your dream job in a dream location! Wonderful news, yes, but what to do first? What do you need to do without delay? You’ve just picked up the phone and called me… here is what we talked about:

You say you want to sell for $9 billion dollars, that is a given. You want to have everything go as smoothly as possible, plus we need to get your home on the market right after Labor Day 2022.

I am coming over right away (and you are going to invite someone else — a cousin, friend, or co-worker to join us) to give us immediate impressions of the house with permission to spot “things” and to speak up reporting on — ratty shades, ugly draperies, lumpy carpeting, embarrassing artwork — and, of course, any stains, unwelcome scents, or weeds.

Let’s hurry to get a pre-sale home inspection scheduled! Those professional engineers which buyers rely upon are very helpful on the front end, too. At least you’ll know what to expect and can avert surprises by fixing the fixable now. Go ahead and schedule a handyman/painter for two weeks from now, just to make sure everything works and sparkles.

Open your iPhone and find past photos of the patio, back yard or balcony in bloom. We may need to edit Aunt Swizzie out of the shot (she is such a flamboyant presence) and not really a selling point.

Even then we may have to make MAGIC happen by invoking Climate Change for Good — changing grey skies to blue — with the help of my in-house photoshop magician to make all the difference.

Dreary, rainy day and voila, your house stands tall and looks its best.

As I’ve often written, professional photography is critically important, but sometimes extra help is needed. You agreed to clean and clear up as much as possible, even if you need to hire a POD storage unit now before heading out of town to give visual room to attics and basements.

Deep Fake for Good — boring empty rooms become beauties with virtual staging — my secret is to employ the inspiring difference of an Australian company I use which listens when I ask for either Contemporary or Traditional stylings to transform empty spaces into comfortable living areas.

Nice open space, but sterile — just add imagery.

Empty or sparse rooms: here I come with a car trunk full of treasures — artificial flowers, towels, lamps, and more to soften the edges and spark the imagination. Partial staging or using your own furniture will help grant universal appeal and warmth.

You asked if they will want your designer chandelier? I urged you to be careful to remove or swap out (with decent replacements) any items that are very dear to you and your family.

In July 2022’s New Sales Contract, bathroom mirrors now get special treatment, so don’t just take them off the wall on moving day — make the swap now or make it clear in the listing and contract that they aren’t staying. I have heard of stressful closings revolving around suddenly empty bathroom walls creating disappointed buyers.

Heads up — keep the interior easy for walking and the insurance paid up. Buyers have been known to go splat, head over tail, when an ottoman juts into the room. Pretend you are touring the house and walk through, looking up at the ceiling or out the windows. We all hope there isn’t a Lego block or pet to trip up your visitors.

Check the calendar for holidays, parades, road work problems and even parties. Condos, townhouses or detached homes, the neighborhood is a big part of the appeal, but the 15th annual Weiner Schnitzel Festival in the building or the Dog vs. Human Charity Walk may crowd the available parking, make access difficult and decrease the number of people able to see your home. Also, next month will not be the perfect time to have house guests — we know Aunt Swizzie likes to sleep in and the appointment calendar needs to be as open as possible.

While the brick mason is out front tending to the steps you have been meaning to fix, you promised to focus inside, tucking away personal photos, diplomas, White House documents and such, leaving clear surfaces and uncluttered shelves.

Let’s talk about why you have loved this particular home so I can brag about why this home is special. Tell me more about the home’s history, landscaping, unique location, access to parks, architectural style and more.

Finally, let’s price it right (just in case $9 billion is a stretch) to encourage many showings, high levels of interest and contract activity. Yes, you will be crazy busy, for sure, but the dream job and dream location await, and I’ll still send a holiday card, in case you want to move back here!

See you soon. Hugs, Ann.

These thoughts and years of experience are brought to you by Ann Duff, Realtor, with McEnearney Associates. Based in Alexandria, Ann is busy day-in and day-out in D.C., Maryland and Virginia, listing, selling, and leasing distinctive properties with and for wonderful people – and all with a splash of fun! Let’s Get Busy… contact Ann at 703-965-8700 or visit her website

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]com 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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