Newsletter

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.

Philanthropy — and having fun — are at the core of what many Alexandrians do on a regular basis.

Instead of focusing on a neighborhood we love this month, we have decided to share a list of our favorite holiday events and local non-profits so you can end 2021 feeling the joy our community offers this time of year — as well as discover ways you can give back to our beloved Alexandria.

Yes, it’s already December and the holiday season is in full swing! Don’t fret if you missed this past weekend’s Scottish Christmas Walk Parade or the Holiday Boat Parade of Lights. There are plenty of other festive events, both in and around Alexandria, to get you in the holiday spirit.

Here are a chosen few:

As we enjoy these festivities and look to 2022, we are reminded of how lucky we are to call Alexandria home. This is also the time of the year to remember how we can give so others may also enjoy some holiday cheer.

An end of year donation to one of your favorite local non-profits can make a big difference. Or explore a new one and learn how you can help them close out 2021 with a bang!

Here are a few popular ones:

…and so many more!

The Seward Group wishes you and your family a wonderful holiday season and hoping you can enjoy some of the magical events and the many ways of giving our area offers.

If you are thinking about selling or buying in 2022, we would love to hear from you. Email [email protected], call 703-298-0562 or visit The Seward Group website to set up an appointment with one of our local real estate experts. We would be happy to review the current real estate market in your Alexandria neighborhood and discuss how we can help you navigate your next move with ease.

About The Seward Group: We are award-winning real estate agents with TTR Sotheby’s International Realty. Lyssa Seward, Brittanie DeChino, Melody Abella, Anita Edwards, Laura Catron, Gina Wimpey and Elaine McCall make up our team. We offer our clients Full-Spectrum Concierge Real Estate Service at all price points, assisting with every step of the process from beginning to end. We are licensed in Virginia, D.C. and Maryland with TTR Sotheby’s International Realty in Old Town Alexandria.

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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: Should I consider a home in an HOA?

Answer: When looking to buy a home, an important thing to consider is whether or not you are interested in having a home within either a homeowner’s association or condominium association. What is also important is understanding the differences between the two! While many have heard of HOAs and condos, not many understand exactly what they are. It is even a common misconception that the terms can be used interchangeably — however, they are actually quite different.

So, how can you tell the difference?

As a general rule, most apartment style homes and townhomes fall under an association and most detached homes do not. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule!

Differences Between an HOA & a COA

First of all, what is the difference between a Homeowner’s Association and a Condo Association? Condominiums usually exist within a building, in which owners own their own unit as well as a joint interest in the common areas. Common areas include community spaces such as patios and party rooms, as well as the roof and other exterior features, such as pools, tennis courts and more. Sometimes, they even designate windows and balconies to be common responsibilities. All owners in a condo building own equal share and financial responsibility for maintenance of these common spaces and responsibilities.

In a homeowner’s association, the ownership is a little different. Each member owns their own home and parcel of land. Common areas, such as playgrounds, pools, tennis courts, and parks are owned and maintained by the association. Sometimes the roads are maintained by the HOA, and sometimes it is the county responsibility. There is no joint ownership.

Both condos and HOAs have fees that the owners pay — typically monthly or quarterly. These are different from fines, which owners are required to pay if they break rules in the community. The rules for communities and associations can be vastly different from place to place. The majority of rules are in place with the intention of maintaining the integrity of the community and common areas.

Contingency Period During the Buying Process 

Once a contract is agreed upon and signed by both buyer and seller there is a required time period for the purchaser to review the association documents. In Virginia, the period to review is 3 calendar days from receipt. The documents will include meeting minutes, by-laws, rules, and other documents that can give a better understanding of the community and its financial stability.

The good thing about this contingency period is that it is required to be given to all buyers. In a competitive situation with multiple offers, buyers often waive contingencies such as inspection or appraisal. The document review period cannot be waived by anyone and puts everyone on the same playing field. All buyers have the right to know the details of the association they are joining, before they join, and will have the opportunity to cancel if they don’t like what they see.

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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 $107 million in 2020.

Welcome to 2943 Sycamore, nestled in a cul-de-sac in the desirable Warwick Village neighborhood. This move-in ready home features 3 bedrooms, 2 full bathrooms and three finished levels.

Enter on the main level that boasts a lovely kitchen with stainless steel appliances, dark granite countertops and crisp white cabinetry. Continue to the bright, sunny and open great room that offers plenty of space for dining and living.

Hardwood floors continue upstairs to 3 bedrooms and 1 full bathroom, each offering great natural light. The lower level offers a versatile and cozy space for a family room, rec room or guest suite with adjacent full, updated bathroom.

Don’t miss the great storage space in the large laundry room. From this lower level, walk right out to your private, low maintenance backyard, perfect for gathering around a fire pit on those crisp evenings. Live near the amazing community of Del Ray, near shops and restaurants. A short drive to Reagan National, DC and more!

2943 Sycamore Street, Alexandria, VA 22305The Jen Walker Team
Open house: Sunday, December 5, 1-3 p.m.

Living room

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].

108 N Donelson Street, Alexandria, VA 22304 — $600,000
100 E Reed Avenue, #1/2, Alexandria, VA 22305 — $469,900
1323 Queen Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 — $800,000
1023 N Royal Street, #106, Alexandria, VA 22314 — $550,000
6014 Lomack Court, Alexandria, VA 22312 — $549,900

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 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: I have often wondered how real estate agents juggle multiple listings, numerous buyers, pre-listing updates and their personal priorities all at the same time. Would you mind sharing your strategy?

Answer: During this season of thanks, I value the occasion to recognize those who have truly helped me throughout the year. Whether in my business or my personal life, surrounding myself with amazing contractors, terrific service providers, wonderful clients, great friends, collaborative agents, supportive brokers, lovely neighbors and of course my fabulous golden retrievers, makes all the difference in my fast-paced lifestyle.

In 2021, I had the pleasure (and sometimes challenging) opportunity to list a number of homes for sellers who did not live in the area. In every situation, quite a bit of work was required prior to initiating the marketing plan. Over the years, I have accumulated an outstanding team of like-minded and dependable service professionals to take the pressure off me. My general contractors, painters, hardwood floor experts, carpet companies, electricians, plumbers, mold and water remediation specialists, cleaners, fireplace pros and landscapers have saved the day more times than I can count.

I would also like to extend my sincere gratitude to my preferred lenders, settlement companies, inspectors and real estate attorneys. Knowing you can count on this group of real estate professionals for the many details associated with a transaction makes all the difference in a sometimes stressful situation.

Whether the sellers are living in the home or not, during the time that a house or condo is getting ready to go on the market, I have the privilege of working with McEnearney’s excellent marketing team to create my print ads and brochures, mailings and social media. Once the repairs are complete, my stager adds the finishing touches and my photographer takes professional photos, and produces a 3D Tour and video.

It always amazes me how so many moving parts come together according to a predetermined timeline. Hitting the market in time for the listing to be syndicated to hundreds of websites prior to the weekend so that open houses are publicized in order to attract the most buyers is always a top priority.

As my fourth career, I give credit for my success in real estate to the skills I acquired in my previous lives. My experiences in sales and marketing, as well as my problem-solving background and people skills, allowed for a natural transition into this industry. I am still working on getting my personal list of priorities in order but have made big headway over the last few years thanks to another team of professionals.

Many thanks to my accountant, bookkeeper, financial advisor, insurance professionals, and overall support team for your expert advice and service. Based upon your guidance, I was able to check quite a few things off my to-do list in 2021 and look forward to continuing to do so in the year to come!

Whether you are thinking of buying or selling, or just need suggestions for updating your home, I am happy to provide ideas, or recommend contractors for your specific projects. I am a resource for the duration of home ownership, 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 nine 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. www.McEnearney.com Equal Housing Opportunity. #WeAreAlexandria

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The Return to Earn initiative was launched in June of this year in an effort to support small businesses and organizations find and retain the talent they need while also helping unemployed Virginian’s transition back into the workforce.

What better way to retain new staff members, reward them for their hard work, and increase workplace morale than by providing a $500 holiday bonus?

Basic eligibility requirements for program participation are as follows.

Employers:

  • Must be incorporated in Virginia
  • Be in good standing with the state
  • Have 99 employees or fewer

For new hires:

  • Must have a hiring date that falls between June 1, 2021 — December 31, 2021
  • The position must be W2 and come with a wage of $15 an hour or more (tips can be included in wage determination)
  • Must attest to having been unemployed at the time of hire*

The SkillSource Group, Inc. and Virginia Career Works Northern is working hard to make this program available to the small business community and to make the application, enrollment and reimbursement process as simple as possible. Click HERE to access an online application.

*Length of unemployment is dependent on time of hire

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. I, along with my two rock-star team members, Sue Kovalsky and Micki MacNaughton, have more than 35 years of experience in real estate and sold over $107 million in 2020.

This week we’re taking some time to reflect on the past year; all the highs, all the lows and all the in-betweens. With all of the trials and tribulations these past couple of years have brought, having the opportunity to continue doing what we love the most — helping our clients navigate a new chapter in their lives — is beyond an incredible gift.

We are so fortunate and thankful this holiday season for you all. Thank you for trusting us!

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].

613 Malcolm Place

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

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®.

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Ask McEnearney: Giving & thanks

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

It’s Beyond Selling Homes

When McEnearney Associates was formed in 1980, John McEnearney knew that he wanted to create a firm that went above and beyond just selling and buying homes for clients.

He wanted to give back to the communities that helped grow the firm to more than 350 Associates today. Every Associate that joins our firm stands behind a brand that invests in the communities where we live and work.

In the spirit of giving this holiday season, we would like to highlight some of the community organizations we have worked with over the years. Our individual Associates have also supported many more throughout the DMV. We offer our sincere thanks to these organizations who strengthen our communities and to all those whose donations of time, money, and resources make it all possible.

ACT for Alexandria

ACT for Alexandria is a community foundation designed to connect donors with causes and collaborate with nonprofit organizations to optimize resources and impact. McEnearney Associates is proud to be a main sponsor this year for Giving Tuesday on November 30. Please join us in donating to this wonderful foundation. To learn how we are matching donations, follow us @mcenearneyalexandria.

Arlington Realtors Care (ARC)

McEnearney Associates has joined together with other real estate firms to collect essential items for those in need this holiday season. Through December 31, items may be dropped off at our Arlington location, 4720-D Langston Blvd (Lee Hwy), during office hours. Essentials include canned and shelf-stable food to support Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) and coats, hats, gloves and warm clothing for Path Forward.

Blue Ridge Hospice

With warmth and compassion, Blue Ridge Hospice provides expert services and care for those with life-limiting or advanced illness. Their services also help loved ones manage the challenges of being caregivers and the grieving process. There are 9 thrift stops throughout their service area where you can shop or donate items to help support the care they provide.

Capital Area Food Bank

Capital Area Food Bank (CAFB) is the leading hunger relief organization in the DMV. Working with partners from food distributors and retailers to restaurants, farms and individuals, they help provide more than 45 million meals a year across D.,. Maryland and Virginia.

Dr. Bear’s Closet at Children’s National

A hospital stay is especially difficult for children and families during the holidays, so toys are often a way to make that time a little happier. We’ve always enjoyed collecting for Children’s National, but due to COVID-19 restrictions, they are only accepting items that are mailed/shipped to them or purchased through their online holiday wish list.

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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. I, along with my two rock-star team members, Sue Kovalsky and Micki MacNaughton, have more than 35 years of experience in real estate and sold over $107 million in 2020.

Welcome to this sophisticated 4 level townhome in the desirable Courthouse neighborhood of Arlington! This 3 bedroom/3.5 bath has everything you’re looking for, featuring great natural light, vaulted ceilings and a 2 car garage. Park in the garage and enter the main level from the garage area or the front door. Here you will find a foyer, plenty of storage and a great home office space.

With a great, open floor plan, you’ll love the next level — featuring a large kitchen with granite counters and stainless appliances, breakfast nook, a living area with gas fireplace, a dining area and a half bath for convenience. With high ceilings and large windows, this space is flooded with natural light! On the third floor you will find the primary bedroom with two walk-in closets and an ensuite bathroom with separate shower, double vanity and soaking tub. A second bedroom with an ensuite bath can also be found on this level. On the upper level is a third bedroom and full bathroom plus laundry. This would also make a great office or gym area and has two closets for ample storage.

Walking distance from Courthouse Metro Station and close to Washington, D.C., this is a commuter’s dream. Close to restaurants, shopping, the Mount Vernon Trail and Roosevelt Island, you will love living here! Welcome home!

2318 Lee Highway, Arlington, VA 22201The 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

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®.

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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: Why is Zillow closing their iBuyer program?

Answer: If you follow real estate at all, you probably saw the announcement that Zillow is closing its iBuyer program. This is big news, but what does it really mean for Zillow and the real estate industry?

First, let’s clarify what is an iBuyer program. It’s where deep pocketed online companies offer sellers an instant cash offer on their house (the “i” in iBuyer is for “instant”). Usually the sales price is computer-generated (like a Zestimate), and the homes are bought unseen. The buyers are not typically looking to do major renovations and want to resell quickly.

Online buyers have existed for quite a while now, and many have been very successful. Zillow’s iBuyer program was not national, but in a few carefully selected markets with plans to eventually roll out more extensively. Zillow was aggressive in its purchases, relying on the automated price generated. Some buyers were thrilled with their offers, receiving more than they may have expected. In fact, it appears Zillow overpaid for many of the homes and now has a huge inventory that it must sell off, potentially at a loss.

This doesn’t speak well for the Zestimate data or technology-based pricing methods. Why not? In large part, because technology can’t determine a property’s condition, a major factor in pricing homes.

This is no surprise to real estate agents. Recently, I was trying to price a home and was looking at the neighborhood comps. A home a few doors down that looked wonderful in the pictures had just sold for a fairly low price. I called the listing agent to understand why. According to her, the house had a very unpleasant pet-related odor, and the neighboring house was very cluttered, “like a junkyard”. These are extenuating circumstances that automated technology can’t determine or factor in.

Technology wasn’t the only downfall for Zillow’s iBuyer program. Zillow has not been immune to the global supply chain issues and labor shortages. When time is of the essence, these delays can be very costly for the home improvements sometimes needed. Finally, Zillow determined that the iBuyer business scale needed to be very large in order to be as profitable as was hoped and, in the end, they decided that this was something they did not want to pursue.

Does that mean Zillow is in trouble? In short, no. Prior to 2018, when Zillow decided to get into the iBuyer business as well as the mortgage business, they offered consumers a marketplace to sell, buy or rent properties. They also marketed properties listed by real estate agents where buyers can search properties and reach out to an agent for more information or to schedule a showing. The person they contacted was not always the listing agent, but a Premier Agent who pays fees to Zillow to obtain leads.

This marketing program has mostly produced buyer leads. By getting into the iBuyer program, Zillow was hoping to be able to generate more seller leads for their Premier Agents, therefore hoping to increase the number of Premier Agents and their revenue stream.

While there are many in the real estate industry who fear Zillow is trying to replace the real estate agent, I do not believe this is their model at all. Contrary to popular belief, Zillow does not sell properties directly to the public. For their iBuyer program, they rely on a small group of staff to purchase properties. Once a home purchased through the iBuyer program was ready to sell, they would offer it to a vetted Premier Agent.

Real estate agents of course have the advantage for detailed information and acute market knowledge, but we can’t offer national searches. We are restricted by our local MLS. Here in the DMV, we are fortunate to have an expansive area with feeds that include parts of New Jersey and Pennsylvania. But Zillow saw a gap, and thus an opportunity: give the consumer an opportunity to not be restricted by a single MLS.

Zillow is a fine place to start looking for a home, but it should be the first step, not the full process. Most buyers don’t want to wait too long before reaching out to a professional, as we often know about homes not yet listed that are for sale (see our article about “Full Market Exposure” for more details.) or know the nuances of a particular home or market.

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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: How can I find out what additions I am able to make to a property, before purchasing?

Answer: Many buyers I am working with lately are looking at the future potential of homes and considering properties that they will add additions to — either before they move in or in their long-term plans.

Some lots have the space for an entire extra room or would benefit from a large deck off the back, and others have the potential to be bumped up a level. Even smaller adjustments, like a new fence, garage, or shed can be important to know about before purchasing a home.

The first step in finding out about a potential add-on is to have your Realtor call the listing agent. They will be able to tell you if the seller has ever considered something like this before — sometimes, if you’re lucky, they will have plans from a builder to give you an idea of what could be done. Even if the seller has considered this option before and found that it isn’t possible, that is valuable information.

More commonly, they will have a survey from when they purchased the home. This is a document that shows where the boundaries of the property are, as well as measurements of structures, such as sheds or patios. If there is an existing fence, it will tell you which property it is on and which home it belongs to.

Survey example courtesy of jadsurveyor.com

If the seller does not have a survey, a buyer has the option to have the settlement company order a survey to be completed before they purchase the property. In Washington, D.C., a location survey is required in order to issue title insurance. In Maryland and Virginia, the survey is optional but highly recommended. A buyer can only order a survey once the home is under contract, therefore, this information is not available before making an offer unless the seller already has it.

If the home is in a community with a Home Owners Association (HOA), there will be guidelines in place that clearly state what can and cannot be added to the property. If other homes in the neighborhood have additions or updates similar to what you would like to do, it is very likely that you will also be able to add them to your home, but there are no guarantees. It is still very important to look over all the HOA documents, and if the update that you want is very important to you, a call to the management company or HOA president is recommended, before making an offer.

For a home in an HOA, once a home is under contract, the buyer will have a period (typically 3 days) in which they are given the opportunity to review the HOA documents and then void the contract if they see something they don’t like. Unfortunately, HOA documents are usually not available until you are under contract, so if a buyer has a specific question before making an offer, their Realtor can sometimes get answers from the listing agent.

Even if the home is not in an HOA, there will likely be city or county guidelines for what can be built on a property. For example, I added a new, larger deck to my home a few years after I bought it. I had to submit my property survey to the city, along with architectural plans, before I could begin construction. The city even provides a manual with specifications on what materials to use, and how things must be built to adhere to code.

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