Newsletter

This week’s Q&A column is written by Rebecca McCullough of McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria. To learn more about this article and relevant Alexandria market news, contact Rebecca at 571-384-0941 or email [email protected]. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

Question: Love It or List It?

Answer: Whether or not you’ve seen the TV show, the “LOVE IT OR LIST IT?” question is one familiar to many. Once upon a time, that question was somewhat straightforward, but now with many supply chain constraints and limited housing inventory, it’s more complicated. Let’s break down the two options.

LOVE IT

What if you love your house, your neighborhood, your commute, but have outgrown the space? Perhaps there aren’t enough bedrooms, you need more home office space, or the kitchen is smaller than you would like. If you “LOVE IT,” you might consider a renovation instead of a move. So, how to evaluate…?

Part of the decision will depend on liquidity. Let’s say you have equity in your house, but no cash on hand. With interest rates low, refinancing could be a great way to access funds for the remodel. You can leverage your equity and renovate your home so that you can live in it for next 30 years. If you can afford the increased mortgage payments, this is a viable option to consider.

To do it right, I highly recommend hiring an architect. Depending on how expensive a renovation you’re considering, an architect’s fees could run $10,000-$15,000 or more. It’s not always necessary, but if you’re doing any sort of an addition or significant room change(s), plans will be required for the necessary permitting. Also, an architect can help you find the optimal use of space and can create more value than you might create with your own design… it’s what they do!

I can draw on recent experience to share an example of the process. We recently hired an architect for a relatively simple 20′ x 19′ family room addition. We started the process in November 2020 and received the necessary approvals one year later in November 2021. It does not take anywhere near that long for most people, but we are in a Protected Resource Area (RPA) and have a flood plain easement as well as a sewer easement running through our yard.

In addition to support from our architect and contractor, we also had to hire lawyers to attain a Deed of Vacation of Easement. It was definitely more involved, and more costly than we had anticipated, but we went through with it in order to build out.

After 12 months of effort and finally getting the permit approved, we thought we had gotten through the hard part. We were wrong. In the same month (November 2021), we ordered our windows and doors for the addition. We knew supply chain issues were creating delays, and anticipated a 3-4 month lead time, and so we expected the windows to arrive late February 2022. Wrong again.

In the first week of March, we learned that the revised arrival date for the windows would be… December. That’s right, December 2022, 13 months after we approved the order. In this case, shortage in aluminum was impacting lead times, and our supplier punted many smaller contracts to the end of the year to fulfill larger dollar orders. You can read more about that here if of interest.

So here we are present day: our addition is framed on newly poured concrete, with Tyvek construction wrap flapping in the wind for the foreseeable future. (We are currently working on alternate solutions — I’ll keep you posted!)

Our case is unique, but not entirely uncommon. Supply chain issues are thwarting many a remodeler. It’s not uncommon to hear delays for appliances of many months, if not a year. You may already be aware of the rollercoaster of lumber prices. Contractors everywhere are advising of increased prices looming. And that’s not to mention labor constraints! Contractors are struggling to find skilled, reliable workers, and this, too, is slowing the renovation process down.

So where does that leave us in our evaluation? It’s hard to truly understand what your fixed price for a renovation will be when you start. Smart builders always suggest you add at least 10% for overages, but presently, I suggest a little more.

So maybe it’s better to LIST IT?

This takes patience as well but selling the home shouldn’t be the challenge. With extremely tight inventory and many buyers, a home that shows well and is priced right should fly off the market, maybe even garnering multiple offers. However, if you’re staying in the market, that of course leads you to needing to find a home to buy.

There are countless articles about the challenges of buying in today’s market: Multiple offers, waiving contingencies, offers being accepted sight unseen, cash with the ability to close in a week… I’ve written about it recently myself! Without repeating that analysis, I’ll simply reiterate that we don’t see the market slowing any time soon.

LOVE IT OR LIST IT?

Well, as you can see, it depends on where you want to spend your energy, your money and your time. In my experience, if the question is on your mind, it’s worth sitting down with a knowledgeable real estate agent and an experienced contractor to weigh your options and determine what’s right for you.

Rebecca McCullough has built a successful real estate business in Alexandria and Northern Virginia by providing excellent service to her clients. If you would like more information on selling or buying in today’s complex market, contact Rebecca today at 571-384-0941 or visit her website RebeccaMcCullough.com.

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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Just Listed in Alexandria

Just Listed highlights Alexandria City properties that came on the market within the past week. This feature is sponsored by the Jen Walker Team (Licensed in VA) of McEnearney Associates REALTORS®.

Welcome Back!

Jen Walker here with The Jen Walker Team! We are a real estate group based out of Alexandria, Virginia. I, along with my rock-star team members, Sue Kovalsky,  Micki MacNaughton, and Adrianna Vallario, have more than 35 years of experience in real estate and sold over $175 million in 2021.

Great 2 bed/2 bath semi-detached home in the heart of Del Ray! The charming white picket fence greets you as you walk up to the door — enter into the main level which includes a large living room. The living room easily flows into the dining room and connects to the open, updated kitchen. The kitchen leads to a private backyard with large deck and spacious yard. Great for evening dining al fresco, working from home on warm spring days or entertaining!

Head upstairs where you will find two bedrooms and one full bath. An attic with pull-down stairs provides great storage! The lower level has a spacious family room and an additional full bathroom — use as an office or guest space! Laundry, utilities and extra storage can be found on this level as well. Walk to Metro and all that Del Ray has to offer. Welcome home!

125 Commonwealth Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22301Jen Walker Team
Open House: Sunday, March 13 from 12-2 p.m.

Click here for Just Listed properties in Alexandria and call The Jen Walker Team to schedule a home tour at 703-675-1566 or email [email protected].

Happy House Hunting!

In our highly competitive Alexandria market, the Jen Walker Team has the insider knowledge to connect you with homes that are not even public yet. With more than 35 years of experience, the Jen Walker Team has the expertise to answer questions, calm fears and streamline your transaction. Want to see other homes not featured in this article? Contact our team today!

Please note: While The Jen Walker Team provides this information for the community, they may not be the listing agents of these homes. Equal Housing Opportunity.

McEnearney Associates Realtors®, 109 S. Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 #WeAreAlexandria

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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: In this “seller’s market” do I even need to…Paint my house? Replace the carpet? Fix the wood rot? Remodel the kitchen? Do anything??

Answer: The short answer is — Yes! However, it’s complicated, so the BIG question is — How much money do you want to make?

First, let’s talk about paint. The main reason to paint is to welcome the buyers into your home and create an impression of a well-cared for home that is light, bright and move-in ready.

I would say that this is the number one thing to do when putting your home on the market. It’s also easy and relatively inexpensive. With the right painter, you can get it done while still living in the home, with minimum disruption, and it will make a huge difference in how buyers will respond to your home. So yes, please do paint your home — both inside and out — where needed.

Do I need new carpet? Can’t we just shampoo it? 

From a buyers’ perspective old, worn, or stained carpet is a big no-no. The floors are one of the first things that a buyer notices when visiting your home.

Nobody wants to move in and start placing their own furniture in a home where the carpet needs replacing, or even cleaning. And when they think of what it may cost them to do it, it’s always double what it really costs — not an expense that they want to have after spending so much to buy the home. So yes, you should definitely think about replacing all of the older carpet before going on the market.

What about little spots of wood rot around the exterior of the home?

You definitely want to make a great first impression, so we always suggest you make sure that the front door and front trim look great. Any wood rot or deterioration on the rest of the home may go unnoticed… but, if your buyer does a home inspection, any good inspector will tell a buyer that wood rot equals water intrusion and it should be fixed. This one could be a “maybe” on the list of what to do to get ready to sell your home. However, I think it’s worth doing and shows that your home has been well-cared for.

Should I remodel my kitchen?

Kitchens are important, but a full remodel will be expensive and may not necessarily bring the immediate return that you are looking for. We suggest that the cabinets look good, and you may be able to accomplish that just by painting them!

If your appliances are older, it’s also worth replacing those that need it. Lastly, consider replacing your countertops if they are dated or dark. It’s probably not as expensive as you may think. Kitchens are big on the list of what buyers care about, and usually one of the first photos they look for.

The most important thing to do when selling your home is to make it appealing to the most buyers, and to eliminate as many “objections” as possible. Objections are things that a buyer perceives as issues or problems that will need to be addressed before they can call a home “their home”.

The longer their list of issues, the less likely they are to buy the home. As they add these things up in their head, they will definitely over-calculate the cost, and start thinking about what a pain it will be. Then they will either talk themselves out of making an offer or, if they do make an offer, they will lower the amount that they are willing to pay.

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Get active Alexandria!

DC Fray, a premier sports, lifestyle and events group dedicated to “making fun possible,” has officially opened spring registration for its various recreational sports leagues throughout the DMV area.

In Alexandria, DC Fray’s softball and volleyball leagues are looking for team players who are ready to make new connections and get active after a long time indoors.

Interested in other sports? Check out the full range of DC Fray’s leagues hosted all over the DMV area at dcfray.com/leagues. Sign-up solo, with a few friends or an entire team!

Registration ends on March 22 or when all spots are taken. Follow @dcfray on Instagram for updates and all things fun.

#fraylife

Just Listed in Alexandria

Just Listed highlights Alexandria City properties that came on the market within the past week. This feature is sponsored by the Jen Walker Team (Licensed in VA) of McEnearney Associates REALTORS®.

Welcome Back!

Jen Walker here with The Jen Walker Team! We are a real estate group based out of Alexandria, Virginia. I, along with my rock-star team members, Sue Kovalsky,  Micki MacNaughton, and Adrianna Vallario, have more than 35 years of experience in real estate and sold over $175 million in 2021.

Great 2 bed/2 bath semi-detached home in the heart of Del Ray!

The charming white picket fence greets you as you walk up to the door. Enter into the main level which includes a large living room. The living room easily flows into the dining room and connects to the open, updated kitchen. The kitchen leads to a private backyard with large deck and spacious yard. Great for evening dining al fresco, working from home on warm spring days or entertaining! Head upstairs where you will find two bedrooms and one full bath. An attic with pull-down stairs provides great storage!

The lower level has a spacious family room and an additional full bathroom — use as an office or guest space! Laundry, utilities and extra storage can be found on this level as well. Walk to Metro and all that Del Ray has to offer. Welcome home!

11 E Mason Avenue Alexandria, VA 22301Jen Walker Team
Open House: Saturday, March 5 from 1-3 p.m.

Click here for Just Listed properties in Alexandria and call The Jen Walker Team to schedule a home tour at 703-675-1566 or email [email protected].

Happy House Hunting!

In our highly competitive Alexandria market, the Jen Walker Team has the insider knowledge to connect you with homes that are not even public yet. With more than 35 years of experience, the Jen Walker Team has the expertise to answer questions, calm fears and streamline your transaction. Want to see other homes not featured in this article? Contact our team today!

Please note: While The Jen Walker Team provides this information for the community, they may not be the listing agents of these homes. Equal Housing Opportunity.

McEnearney Associates Realtors®, 109 S. Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 #WeAreAlexandria

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Photo courtesy Cameron Station Community Association Facebook

Neighborhood Spotlight is a recurring column covering both the City of Alexandria and Alexandria in Fairfax County. This monthly column is sponsored and written by the Seward Group of TTR Sotheby’s International Realty.

Let’s start with History. Did you know Alexandria’s charming Cameron Station neighborhood formerly served as the site of a US Army facility (known as Cameron Station) until the late 1980’s? The land was vacated by the Defense Logistics Agency (and the Defense Contract Audit Agency) and then in 1999 construction of this popular planned community started.

Cameron Station is a mix of single-family homes (2%), townhomes (55%) and condos (43%) totaling almost 1,800 residences. Entering the community off Duke Street, you’ll feel like you have set foot into a small colonial town. Brick sidewalks lined with trees, black streetlamps, benches and meticulous landscaping abound. You also can’t miss seeing residents walking their dogs or heading to the fitness center and/or outdoor pool. For a full list of facts and features residents enjoy, visit the Cameron Station website.

Parks: If you seek green space, look no further. Adjacent to Cameron Station is almost 60 acres of land (which was also part of the former Army facility) known as Ben Brenman Park. Park amenities include athletic fields, fenced dog park, picnic pavilion, playground, pond and walking/bicycle trails. Some of the other nearby green spaces include Armistead L. Boothe Park (11 acres and also adjacent to Cameron Station) and All Veterans Park (38 acres and also within walking distance). Plenty of other smaller parks exist such as Holmes Run, Clermont Natural and Tarleton.

If you are craving more than just green space, Cameron Run Regional Park offers a water park, fishing lake, miniature golf course and batting cages. For those needing more variety, you don’t need to go far to find a popular local rock climbing center (SportRock), golfing range, several gyms and yoga studios.

Or maybe you’re looking to combine your love of movement with a good local beer? The award-winning Port City Brewing Company is less than 2 miles away and has been offering BeerYoga every Tuesday night since 2015. For more info, visit Port City Brewing.

Photo courtesy Dan Austin at Port City Brewing

Location: Cameron Station (in the West End section of Alexandria) offers easy access to 395 North and South. It’s just 4 miles from Old Town Alexandria and 10 miles to Washington, D.C. The main entrance is off of Duke Street (North) and is about a 20-minute walk to the Van Dorn Metro station. A free resident shuttle runs to the VD Metro station for those chilly mornings and rush-hour evening commutes.

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This week’s Q&A column is written by Sallie Seiy of McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria. To learn more about this article and relevant Alexandria market news, contact Sallie at 703-798-4666 or email [email protected]. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

Question: What is all this talk about waiving contingencies? It seems unfair.

Answer: If you’re a buyer now, or will be in the near future, you may be asking yourself, “do I really have to risk so much to win a home?” I challenge you instead think of it this way, “what strategies can I implement to reduce risk and position myself to win a home?” In our market of multiple offers, escalated costs, and the practice of waiving “everything,” it can feel like you, the buyer, are taking all the risk. However, the risk to you can shrink if you come in with a good, solid strategy.

Here are two contingencies that you can discuss with your Realtor about waiving and how best to flip the script on their risks.

Home Inspection Contingency

Writing an offer on a home is an exciting time, but the responsibilities of homeownership are real. As a potential new homeowner, it’s always important to know what you’re getting into when purchasing a new, unfamiliar home. There are ways to check on the health of the home on a regular tour, but an inspection will peel back certain layers that you can’t see or would otherwise miss.

Inspectors are the professionals and I liken them to the medical field. Home inspectors are like your generalist. They have mass amounts of knowledge about homes, can point out any red flags, and connect you to specialists to further diagnose any potential issues.

However, the market can be very competitive, so you’ll want to put your best foot forward on your offer. One way could be waiving a home inspection. Yet, that can feel uneasy to a lot of buyers. To eliminate this fear of the unknown, you can request to do a pre-offer inspection. This means having a home inspector out to the property prior to submitting your offer. A pre-offer inspection is usually no more than an hour and is performed between the time the home is active until the offer deadline, if there is one. While you do pay for this inspection prior to even writing your offer, like an ante in a poker game, it can save you so much money and headache down the road.

Your inspector won’t be able to check every window or every electrical socket. This pre-offer inspection is intended to focus on the high value items in a property: HVAC system, roof, electrical and structural, to name a few. Knowing the health of the most expensive parts of a home can help you make a more informed and confident decision about moving forward (or bailing) on your offer.

Appraisal Contingency

First off, we should define what an appraisal is in a real estate transaction. An appraisal is an unbiased, third-party opinion of value for a particular property and is performed by a licensed professional. An appraisal is always needed whenever a mortgage is involved in the transaction.

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Just Listed in Alexandria

Just Listed highlights Alexandria City properties that came on the market within the past week. This feature is sponsored by the Jen Walker Team (Licensed in VA) of McEnearney Associates REALTORS®.

Welcome Back!

Jen Walker here with The Jen Walker Team! We are a real estate group based out of Alexandria, Virginia. I, along with my rock-star team members, Sue Kovalsky,  Micki MacNaughton, and Adrianna Vallario, have more than 35 years of experience in real estate and sold over $175 million in 2021.

Charming yet updated Sears bungalow — “The Mitchell”! Located in the heart of Rosemont, this 2 bedroom, 2 bath property will wow at every turn. Walk up to the front stoop and enter the home through the arched door. Drop your coat in the coat closet located just inside the original vestibule and head into the living room, where high ceilings, loads of light, built-in bookcases and a gas fireplace will make you feel right at home.

This home has a great flow — the dining room is located just beyond the living room and is large enough for a dinner party yet cozy enough for everyday living. Beyond the dining room sits the updated kitchen, completely redone in 2012 with high end appliances, quartz counters, and mosaic marble backsplash. From the kitchen, enter a screened porch overlooking the spacious backyard — great for morning coffee or springtime work from home days. Back inside, the main level also features two large bedrooms and a shared hall bath. The bathroom, renovated in 2020, is beautifully redone with Kohler fixtures, a tiled shower and gorgeous lighting. The basement is a fabulous recreation room space or even a gym area. This space has great ceiling height and also features an additional full bathroom, storage and laundry.

Beautiful landscaping, a fenced-in yard, patio area for dining al fresco and more await in the backyard oasis. Located just minutes to the King Street Metro, Naomi Brooks Elementary, Grape+Bean, Old Town, Del Ray and more… you will love living in this gorgeous home. Recently featured in The Alexandria Times!

1 W Oak Street, Alexandria, VA 22301Jen Walker Team
Open House: Saturday, February 26 from 12-2 p.m.

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This week’s Q&A column is sponsored and written by Peter Crouch of McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria. To learn more about this article and relevant Alexandria market news, contact Peter at 703-244-4024 or email [email protected]. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

Question: Do I need to renovate in order to sell?

Answer: Home Sellers are bombarded these days with offers to buy their homes, ways to renovate to get the highest offer, and how to obtain the absolute highest price. It can be confusing, even paralyzing — the answer is a resounding “it depends.”

As in most elements of life, there is a spectrum of possibilities here. Essentially there are three ways to sell a home — it doesn’t have to be perfect.

“As-is, where-is.” This is often when a property has not had many updates or upgrades along the way, and now there is a need to sell. There may not be the funds or desire to undertake any work, and a sense of just wanting to be done with it. This is what the folks sending the postcards are looking for — to purchase a property well under market and “flip” it. They will even take care of contents left behind.

As you would expect, this produces the lowest monetary result for the Sellers. Many of these Buyers are looking to purchase that property for 50-60% of “ARV” — After Renovated Value. Rarely a good deal for the Seller.

Fully Renovated at Top Market Condition. At the other end of the spectrum, the houses which receive the highest prices are the ones fully updated, with all the new and modern features that appeal to today’s Buyers. They are often exquisitely staged, and clearly at the top of their game.

It is one thing, however, to have continually updated one’s property and arrived at this top condition just as it is time to sell. It is another to think of enduring a big remodel just to sell: braving potentially lengthy disruptions, risking supply chain issues, and spending tens of thousands of dollars? Is it worth it? Maybe. Maybe not.

Today there are options to have the renovation work completed by companies who specialize in quick turn-around renovations just before a sale. Some will even front the cost and are paid when the house sells/settles. The McEnearney Advantage features a partnership with such a company, Curbio, and that type of renovation can absolutely be accomplished for a Seller. It works best when the house is empty, but it can also be done around residents. We are happy to help obtain estimates to see if it is right for you. Often, when the dust settles, you can reap very nice returns on the time and money spent. If it is the right approach for you.

In the middle of the spectrum: Clean, Fresh, Nothing Broken. In this approach, a home is decluttered or emptied (depending on whether it is occupied or not), then cleaned, painted, the flooring replaced/refinished, and any items fixed that are worn out or broken.

In many cases, the cost can be fronted and paid at settlement. This not only keeps the preparation time and cost down, it allows the Buyers to put some of their own personal touches into the house after settlement. This approach, in this market, usually yields a price a little below Fully Renovated.

In reality, most houses are prepared for market at a level somewhere between Clean, Fresh, Nothing Broken, and Fully Renovated. Perhaps a powder room near the entrance foyer gets a new pedestal sink, faucet, light and mirror. Or new light fixtures in the kitchen or primary bath. Or new appliances. These relatively minor items can be among the most cost-effective a Seller can undertake.

At McEnearney Associates we believe that preparation for the market, to the extent that works best for our clients, is one of the great values we add. And no, it doesn’t have to be perfect.

Pete Crouch is a Seniors Real Estate Specialist, which means he is well-versed in all aspects of moving as we age. His own downsize gave him tremendous insights into what is involved, from emotional matters to real estate considerations. Pete is a Board Member of At Home in Alexandria (AHA), our local Senior Village, and was the 2018 National Recipient of the “Outstanding Service Award” by the National Association of Realtors for his work with Senior Moves. Text 703-244-4024 or email [email protected] for a copy of his Downsize Alexandria! Booklet about living more simply in Greater Alexandria.

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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One of the area’s most anticipated new condominium communities, Towngate North, is opening for sales next week.

Towngate North is a fully-amenitized community consisting of just 81 residences between two stately buildings. A variety of 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom residences are available for interested home shoppers — including options with dens and balconies — priced from the mid $400’s to $2M+.

Each new home will be enveloped in a bright, modern design, complete with sophisticated features and refined finishes throughout. Select residences offer picturesque views of either the Potomac River or nearby parkland.

A complete portfolio of on-site amenities is also available to homeowners at Towngate North. These daily conveniences include a rooftop terrace, dog spa room, bike storage and repair area, community clubroom, furnished conference space, on-site fitness studio and building concierge.

Just steps away from the condominium community is even more excitement. Owners can connect immediately to the Mount Vernon Trail to immerse in nature and walk, run or bike in either direction. Additional parks and green outdoor space is available along the Potomac River.

Also within walking distance are some of Old Town North’s most popular storefronts and sought-after eateries. Owners will never tire of the rich history that lines the streets of Alexandria — not to mention all of the annual events that take place in the neighborhood.

Because Towngate North is ideally located at the intersection of Slaters Lane and the George Washington Memorial Parkway, owners are perfectly positioned to enjoy not only the best of Old Town North, but also top regional destinations. They can explore by car, Metro, bike or boat at a moment’s notice.

“I think the high interest at Towngate North speaks for itself — between the sleek residences, plethora of amenities and ideal location, there’s a lot to love about this community,” remarks Gregg Hughes, Senior Vice President for Brookfield Residential. “But home shoppers should be sure to act quickly, because opportunities like this don’t tend to last long.”

When the community opens next week, Towngate North will be selling from an off-site sales office located at 525 Wythe Street in Alexandria. The first building is set for a late 2022 move-in with the second building ready in early 2023.

Visit TowngateNorth.com to learn more and prepare to claim your place at Towngate North.

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