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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: What are home inspection deal breakers? And should they be?

Answer: Congratulations! You are under contract! Not only that, even in this seemingly sellers’ market you have negotiated a home inspection. Way to go!

Heading into the home inspection maybe you are concerned about some things. Or perhaps you feel sure the house is fantastic, in solid condition. Either way, you’re about to find out!

Three and half hours later, your shoulders are slumped, you’ve written a sizable check and the wind is out of your sails. You’ve potentially got one of the three unforeseen deal breakers: water, mold, or structural issues. The opportunity seems dead on arrival, with a “Notice to Void” soon to follow. But should it? Maybe not. Here’s why…

Firstly, the responsibility of the home inspector is to point out obvious and potential issues. Their biggest fear is they won’t find or point out a potential issue, and then the buyer comes after them for damages. So please know it is their job to point out the possibility that these items may be serious, and to recommend that the buyer hire an expert in a specific area to confirm. Think of the home inspector as your first line of defense (after a good Realtor, who hopefully can advise of some potential issues and their remediations), but it is likely if they find anything suspicious, they will recommend you hire a professional in the area you would like explore further.

But why would a buyer spend the money to investigate further when there’s an issue? Some people will simply void and walk away, but that is not always the best option for a serious buyer.

I have a different view than the immediate pivot. Now, I may have a strong stomach for this as I’ve owned a lot of houses, done my share of renovations, and have seen it all! But truly, most of the time there is a resolution, and it should resolve the problem to prevent any reoccurrence. A good service company will guarantee their work for many years to come.

Let’s explore the premise that you’ve found a house that you love, the inspection turned up a few issues and you want to explore resolution. Let’s dive more deeply into the three big challenging issues and some ways to mitigate them for now if you are a homeowner, and what to look for as a buyer.


This is the issue we come across the most often. I have yet to do a home inspection on a detached house where the inspector doesn’t warn about poor grading around the house. Water should always run away from the house. Flower beds, soil and mulch get beaten down and they must be replenished at least annually to ensure proper grading. Adding a bunch of porous mulch is not enough, you need to make sure the underlying soil is laid appropriately.

Next of course, are the gutters and down spouts. They need to set up to maximize water being pulled away from the house. Those are the basics that you’ll find in the majority of home inspections. If these are not set up properly, you may find damp walls. A home inspector uses a moisture reader to determine if there is a potential issue behind the wall. You may also be able to visible see effervescence in foundation blocks. This could be as easy a fix as a coat of Drylok paint on the foundation walls.

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Live Alexandria: Get aligned

Explore Alexandria living in this bi-weekly column sponsored and written by Sandy McMaster of McEnearney Associates. Got a question or comment? Contact Sandy at [email protected].

If you’ve ever had back or neck issues, you know how painful a misalignment can be. Having the right chiropractor in your corner can be life-changing.

Today we’re highlighting Dr. Yi with Bodnar Chiropractic, where the entire staff is dedicated to helping you get aligned and get moving.

After a consultation, Dr. Yi will come up with your personalized treatment plan, which can be complimented with acupuncture, massage, and more.

The friendly staff will help you schedule your consultation and appointments can be easily scheduled… just don’t take mine! Click or call today! 703-721-0500.

To get to know more about me and how I help people build lives they want in homes they love, follow me @SandyMcMaster on IG or visit  www.SandyMcMaster.RealEstate


This week’s Q&A column, sponsored and written by McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria, is a bit of a departure from our usual format. To learn more about this article and relevant Alexandria market news, contact us at 703-549-9292. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

Question: What is “The 85% Perfect Home” and How Does It Help Buyers?

Answer: Seeking perfection is noble but it could cost you in this market.

We’ve all read the industry reports and heard buyers’ distress about the lack of inventory in our area. Interest rates have stabilized but are still much higher than what’s been available for most of the last decade. Listings are few, competition is fierce and homes are getting snapped up at top dollar. In a very hot seller’s market, what’s a buyer to do?

Enter “The 85% Perfect Home.” In the HGTV-era, this challenges the notion that the “perfect” home is out there and that all a buyer has to do is wade through multiple listings to find “The One” that will deliver exactly what they want. But this kind of thinking can lead to buyer frustration because holding out for perfection can often mean missing out on an otherwise great home.

As we recently wrote about on our company website, even in this hot seller’s market more than half the homes on the market are taking more than two months to sell and are selling at a discount. That’s a lot of inventory that’s being overlooked in the pursuit of perfection.

McEnearney Associates recently held a panel with a number of agents to brainstorm ways to help clients find properties that are within their budget, fit with their timeline, and helped solve their housing needs. Here are suggestions from our agents who have successfully helped their buyer clients get unstuck from the belief that the home had to be perfect to be theirs.

Rebecca McCullough

Don’t get stuck on things that are beyond your control like rising interest rates and limited inventory. Figure out what you can afford now. If you are motivated to move, you buy within those means. If last year that was a $1million house and this year it’s an $800,000 house, that’s just the way it is. Stop living for last year’s market.

Renneye Pike

Bring a foldable paper template of your largest or can’t-live-without pieces of furniture that includes the floor parameters as well as height dimensions. This will allow you to see if the house fits your needs logistically but it can also give you an idea of how you will live in it.

Kate Crawley

Is this home meant to be your “Forever Home” or is this a stepping stone? Younger buyers can expect life changes that mean they’ll be shopping for a larger home or taking a job in another area sooner than they expect.

Shagufta Hasan

Think of the “Pareto 80/20 Rule” and how it applies to how you’d live in your house. If 80 percent of your time is spent in 20 percent of your dwelling, then focus on the spaces that you will be using the most. For example, don’t elevate the importance of a dining room if you’re only using it for special occasions.

Gordon Wood

Especially for buyers who move here from less competitive markets, reaching even 70-80% in a home is a win! You can learn that in the first week, or you can take a year to learn that lesson. But there’s a chance that you will miss “The Right Home” by searching for “The Perfect Home” for too long.

Another good suggestion is that buyers can also enlist the advice of a contractor to help see past the current floorplan and price out changes big or small that could make the property fit what you’re looking for. Just having an expert set of eyes to envision how moving a wall here or a doorway there can open up possibilities that are within your budget. Agents have these contacts at their fingertips so don’t be afraid to ask!

Buyers have many concerns that can prevent them from buying a home: paying too much, buying a home that’s not in good condition, missing out on a better property, and more worries. These are valid reasons to keep looking but it’s as important in homebuying as it is in life to know that perfection is almost always unattainable.

Make the best decision with the information and circumstances at this moment and heed the advice of experienced agents who are here to get you into a home that you can make just right for your needs. 

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


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, Adrianna Vallario and Nancy Lacey, have more than 35 years of experience in real estate and sold over $150 million in 2022.

Fabulous semi-detached home in the heart of Del Ray! With over 1,750 total square feet, this light and airy home has room for everyone. Remodeled completely in 2018 and meticulously maintained, this home is truly move-in ready. Enter into the sunny living room that flows easily into the dining room and kitchen. The open floor plan is ideal for entertaining or everyday living. The dining area can easily fit a table for 6 or more, and the kitchen peninsula has additional bar seating. The gourmet kitchen is great for the chef or everyday cook. With ample, white shaker-style cabinetry, gorgeous countertops and stainless appliances, cooking and hosting parties is a breeze.

Located just off the kitchen is the private patio. This brick, courtyard-style outdoor area features a tiered upper yard with mature plantings. This maintenance-free space is great for working from home on warm spring days or hosting BBQs with friends.

A half bathroom is also located on the main level. Head upstairs to three bedrooms and one full bath. The large primary bedroom can easily accommodate a king-sized bed, and storage is a breeze with three closets! Two additional bedrooms and a totally renovated full bathroom round out this floor. A large attic with pull-down stairs can be accessed from the upper level – insulated and floored, this is a great storage area.

The lower level features a large recreation room – great for movie night, a gym, office or even a guest suite with a large, full bathroom (with great penny tile!). The laundry room and utility area round out this space. Leave your car in the driveway and walk to all the shops and restaurants of Del Ray! Enjoy the Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings and all the events throughout the year (Art on the Avenue, Well-Ray, Cinema Del Ray, Halloween Parade and more!). You will love living in a community “Where Main Street Still Exists.” Welcome home!

OPEN HOUSE | Sat, 05/20/23 1:00pm – 3:00pm

2722 Hickory St, Alexandria, VA 22305 The Jen Walker Team

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


Address: 210 Duke Street
Neighborhood: Old Town
Type: 5 BR, 3 (+1 half) BA townhouse — 4,085 sq. ft.
Listed: $4,985,000

Noteworthy: C. 1787 — The home of Dr. James Craik, George Washington’s physician.

Built in 1787, this exquisite restored and renovated historic property is the former residence and medical office of George Washington’s personal physician, Dr. James Craik. Dr. Craik attended to President Washington in 1799 on his death bed at Mount Vernon, 8 miles south of Old Town. His medical office was the first room of the house, just left of the front entrance.

Classic Georgian style architecture melds with elegant modern upgrades, expanded living space and carefully preserved original features. Five bedrooms, 3.5 baths, original heart pine floors, exquisite moldings, arched doorways, built-ins and 8 handsome fireplaces. The Lobkovich kitchen adjoins a sunny family room overlooking the meticulously planted garden.

An attached flounder house with many windows and exposed beamed ceilings serves as an office or artist’s studio. The remarkable garden area can be viewed from numerous rooms. A long grass panel softened with flower beds is surrounded by a reconstructed stonewall that once was the foundation of a former outbuilding on this property. The gracefully-carved steps were said to be salvaged from the Blair House during a mid-20th century remodeling and brought to 210 Duke.

At the rear of the garden is a Zen-like swimming pool in a peaceful private setting for lounging and dining. Off-street parking is accessed through remote-controlled grey wood double gates.

Listed by:
Babs Beckwith — McEnearney Associates Realtors
[email protected]
(703) 627-5421


Explore Alexandria living in this bi-weekly column sponsored and written by Sandy McMaster of McEnearney Associates. Got a question or comment? Contact Sandy at [email protected].

We live in the shadow of Amazon’s HQ2, and while that comes with some serious perks, Amazon doesn’t do cute and community like our neighborhood bookstores!

Today we’re featuring three local bookstores where you can enjoy a personalized shopping experience. These local bookstore owners are dedicated to providing excellent customer service. Visit and discover new books and authors that you may not have found otherwise!

Hooray for Books is a children’s bookstore that has been a fixture in Alexandria since 2008. They have an extensive selection of books for kids of all ages and a knowledgeable staff that can help you find the perfect book for your child. They also have regular events like story time and author signings to create a sense of community around reading for our younger readers! Visit them at

Old Town Books is another independent bookstore that has been operating in Alexandria since 2018. They also host a variety of events, including Puppy Storytime with Guiding Eyes for the Blind. As part of their training to become guide dogs, puppies practice socializing with humans of all ages during storytime (so cute!). Twenty percent of all proceeds from the time slots go to Guiding Eyes for the Blind. To register or learn more, visit them at

Old Town Books (Photo via Old Town Books Facebook)

Harambee Books & Artworks is a bookstore that has been serving Alexandria since 1987. They specialize in books by and about people of African descent and have a vast selection of titles that are difficult to find elsewhere. They also sell art and crafts from Africa and the African diaspora. Visit them at

These local bookstores continue to thrive and offer an alternative option for locals who value community, a personal touch, and the discovery aspect of book buying. Whether you’re an avid reader or looking for a unique gift, they’ve got you covered (pun intended).

To get to know more about me and how I help people build lives they want in homes they love, follow me @SandyMcMaster on IG or visit  www.SandyMcMaster.RealEstate


We need this notarized now! Who does that? Now there’s an answer: DC Mobile Notary 

You might not need the services of a notary public every day, but when you do, there is generally a mad scramble to figure out where the nearest notary is. Sometimes, deadlines are missed.

Now the answer for the nearest notary is easy: DC Mobile Notary, like the name says, comes to you, with same-day, fast, reliable, and on-time service to sign and seal the documents you need to complete transactions, authorize wills and powers of attorney, and certify oaths, affirmations, affidavits, and statutory declarations. 

Among other services offered by these trained professionals, DC Mobile Notary can assist in real estate closings, I-9 employment verification, international embassy legalization, and apostille services.

While DC Mobile Notary is happy to come to where you are — including hospitals, nursing homes, offices, and private residences — the company also offers remote online legal services, employing sophisticated ID authentication methods for a seamless and reliable remote notary experience. Printing and other services are available.

“What makes us special is that we offer flexible and convenient solutions to our clients by providing notary services in-person at their location or ours and we offer online notary services,” DC Mobile Notary said in a statement. “This allows our clients to benefit from our expertise without having to leave their homes or offices, saving them time and hassle.

Further, “we pride ourselves on being responsive, reliable, and professional, and we strive to deliver exceptional service to each and every client. Our knowledgeable and experienced notaries are equipped to handle a variety of notary needs, ensuring that our clients’ documents are properly notarized in a timely and efficient manner.

“Our commitment to quality service, flexible solutions, and customer satisfaction makes us a trusted provider of notary services in the Washington, D.C. area.”

To reach DC Mobile Notary, call 202-247-0837, email at [email protected], or see the website at

Play where the pros play!

Join the Washington Commanders and DC Fray for the Burgundy & Gold Bowl Flag Football Tournament at FedExField on Saturday, May 20 from 10 a.m to 6 p.m.

Additionally, we’ll have NFL Combine drills and lawn games. After you tear it up on the field, enjoy food trucks, a DJ and drinks in the Touchdown Club.

Each registration includes a ticket to a 2023 Commanders home game!

Sign-up as a team or free agent by Friday!

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: Will artificial intelligence (AI) take over real estate?

Answer: With the current writers’ strike happening in the entertainment world, a popular topic of conversation is the upswing of AI in various industries, and real estate is no different.

There are a few things that might seem like obvious deficiencies when it comes to AI — for example, staging a listing for marketing. Of course, a bot could give some tips, and might even get to a point at which it can scan a room and give personalized suggestions. But a bot is not going to move an ottoman. Aside from the literal human body aspect of it though, let’s talk about a few of the less evident things that some people may think could be done by AI.

Pricing — In fact, artificial intelligence has been in use for years on many popular real estate websites like Zillow. One only has to Google “Zestimate accuracy” to read all about typical margins of error. I’ve even discussed it in various posts on this blog. While a “Zestimate” can provide a jumping off point, they are rarely accurate, and Zillow even admits to their own margin of error.

Negotiation — If you haven’t been through a real estate transaction before, you might think that negotiation only happens when you’re trying to get an offer accepted. However, it actually happens throughout the process. Even little things can be negotiated, like furniture sales or rent backs. The ability for a listing agent to get on the phone with the buyer’s agent and just talk those things through can be a huge asset — not to mention make your purchase or sale much easier to navigate.

Individual needs — Nobody prefers a robot when they call up a customer service line. I think many of us know the feeling of loudly telling an automated answering service that you just want an operator, but the robot keeps telling you to push a number. Since humans are usually on each side of a real estate transaction, the nuances can be as varied as the individuals involved. An experienced Realtor can understand you in ways that a computer cannot.

Psych/counseling aspect — While some don’t necessarily expect it, there can be very strong emotions that come up during a real estate transaction. Sellers who are excited to make a move into their new home can feel nostalgic and maybe even regretful. Even when you’re making the best move for you — and you know it — it’s common to get cold feet. Of course, it’s never a Realtor’s job to convince you to buy or sell. But it is nice to have someone to bounce ideas off, remind you why you’re here, and the best way to move forward, if you need it. Your Realtor can get very close to you during the course of a transaction, and it is nice to know that you have them on your side.

Your Realtor also doesn’t have any goal pre-planned. If the decision ends up not right for you, a trusted Realtor should agree with you and continue to help you achieve your goals. However, if there is a computer working on your behalf — at the end of the day they are still working with their programmer. Individual Realtors are usually playing the long game, meaning that they want their clients to continue to use and refer them for years to come. That doesn’t always mean making a sale. Computers are more binary.

So, while artificial intelligence can be helpful in writing a real estate property description, it will never take the place of a trusted Realtor. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you ever need some human, and very real advice on buying or selling a home.

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. Equal Housing Opportunity. #WeAreAlexandria


Take a break from the bustle of the city with umbrellas and “beach” chairs for you and your friends on the grassy knoll!

This year DC Polo Society will be featuring three events:

☀️Funbrella on Sunday, May 14

☀️Red, White + Brews on Sunday, July 16

☀️Bubbles + Bubbly on Sunday, September 3

Snag tix today!


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