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This week’s Q&A column is sponsored and written by Kim Peele and 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 703-244-5852 or email [email protected]. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

Question: When I fall in love with a house, should I discuss it with my agent while in the home?

Answer: With today’s amazing technology, it’s increasingly likely a home may have a security system or other recording device in use. Homeowners regularly use cameras and sound recording devices for many reasons. Sometimes it’s a security concern, while other times it’s just to see who’s at the front door. Some use cameras and listening devices to check on their children while the babysitter is there or to make sure their puppy is not misbehaving. Whatever the reason, when you’re buying or selling a home, home recording devices should be considered.

One of the first things we tell our buyers when starting to look at homes is to wait until you’re outside to tell us that you love the home. And we certainly don’t want discussions about value and pricing inside the home.

We don’t want to give the seller any inside information on your thought process, especially if you decide to make an offer. We certainly don’t want our buyers to lose any of the negotiation leverage we hope to bring to the table, especially in this competitive market. Have you heard the expression poker face? Don’t show your cards to the other party, either with your face or verbally, when touring a home, whether it’s a private tour with your agent or when you are attending an open house.

So, what are your rights and responsibilities as it pertains to real estate? As a seller in Virginia, the listing agreement asks a question that you must answer honestly, disclosing whether you have a recording system in your home. If you do have a recording system for audio, your agent is required to disclose this to all buyers and their agents.

We know of a situation where the sellers checked the box for “no” audio, forgot about this and decided to check in on their puppy cam, which had been set up and not looked at in a couple of years. Their home had gone under contract with multiple offers, and there were no contingencies or further negotiations that would be affected. However, on a buyer visit to measure for window treatments, they heard the realtor and buyers criticizing their decor. They were offended and told their realtor about this and said that if they were not already committed, they would never have chosen this buyer. They were reminded by the realtor that they were in the wrong for listening, and they were instructed to turn off the camera for any future visits. In Virginia, it’s illegal to record a conversation without consent.

We also know of an instance where a seller signed into their recording system to hear the comments of buyers during their open house. They overheard comments about their home being overpriced, and they were furious. Their realtor had to remind them that they should not have had a recording device in the home without disclosure and that it needed to be disabled immediately — or post warning signs so realtors and buyers were aware.

According to a recent LendingTree survey, 30% of home sellers admitted to using hidden recording devices during open house visits. The study also showed that 44% of buyers would back out of a contract if they learned that the sellers had been recording them.

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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.

Fabulous and move-in ready townhome in the amazing community of Jefferson Green! This great two-level home has 2 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms and 1300 square feet of living space, all freshly painted and new flooring throughout!

Enjoy the sunny eat-in kitchen with new stainless steel appliances, white cabinetry and warm countertops. Wood flooring flows throughout the dining room and spacious living room, which also offers a great layout for entertaining. Enjoy the convenience of your private patio on those crips fall days with easy access to additional green space beyond the patio. A recently updated powder room completes this main level.

Upstairs, you’ll find two huge bedrooms, two full bathrooms, and a laundry closet with a washer and dryer. The primary bedroom features tons of space, two functional closets and a gorgeously updated bathroom. Don’t miss the pull-down attic stairs for additional storage!

This townhome-style condo comes equipped with two parking spaces and amenities at Bren Mar such as pool, tennis courts, green spaces and walking paths. Easy access to 395, the Beltway, and 2 miles to Van Dorn Metro, making commuting anywhere a breeze!

5619 Independence Circle, Alexandria, VA 22312 — The Jen Walker Team
Open house: Sunday, Oct. 10, 2-4 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

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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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.

Hollin Hall Village was initially conceived and planned beginning in 1943, but actual building construction didn’t commence until 1948.

People who live in this wonderful community can’t say enough positive things about it; the friendliness of the neighborhood along with the multi generational makeup of the community. The community volunteerism is strong, and members of the HHVCA (Hollin Hall Village Community Association) feel appreciated and proud of their neighborhood.

Hollin Hall is home not only to almost 700 homes, but also to two shopping centers located on Fort Hunt Road that are split down the middle by Shenandoah Road. These walkable shopping centers add to an already great quality of life for residents of Hollin Hall Village. There is a grocery store (Safeway), a drug store (Walgreens, previously Rite Aid for decades), and the Hollin Hall Variety Store, which provides nostalgia for folks of all ages and is reminiscent of an old fashioned Five and Dime.

There are many community staples and fantastic specialty stores as well, including the Hollin Hall Senior Center, Village Hardware, Hollin Hall Automotive Shell station, Hollin Hall Pastry Shop, Hunan Manor Chinese, Via Veneto, Roseinas, River Bend Bistro, Hollin Hall Animal Hospital, A Child’s Place, Hollin Hall Animal Hospital, Nature’s Nibbles, Top it Off, 529 Kids Consignment Shop, Studio K, Fort Hunt Pilates Studio and the recently opened Urban Redeux.

These shops are a gift for all of whom live in the 22308 ZIP code and the greater Fort Hunt Community. Many of these long-standing businesses have recently changed ownership but continue to be very involved in the greater community and most are strong supporters of the local schools and athletic programs. There is also the well used and well loved Hollin Hall Senior Center and the convenient 7-Eleven.

No community is without their controversies, and Hollin Hall Village is no exception.

There have been past legal battles that the HHVCA board had with Fairfax County in relation to the purchase and subsequent teardown of many homes on Washington Road, Yorktown Drive and Fairfax Road in the neighborhood.  The influx of newer homes from tear downs has since spread throughout Hollin Hall Village and throughout the Fort Hunt Community at large. Change is inevitable and can be difficult, but all neighbors are welcome and embraced.

These new homes have changed the feel and look of the neighborhood as the original homes are older, land is scarce, and there are always builders and homeowners who are interested in building newer homes. There are still many homes offering one-level living in Hollin Hall Village, many residential offerings for differing real estate needs.

You can run, walk or ride your bike to the George Washington Bike Path (Mount Vernon Trail), a short distance away. There are beautiful streams and green spaces along Paul Spring Parkway (Paul Springs Stream Valley Park) and Kirk Park. There is a wonderful walkable community pool with a pond for fishing and tennis courts called Mount Vernon Park Association.

Hollin Hall is a vibrant, close-knit community with long roots in South Alexandria. The neighborhood feeds into Waynewood Elementary School, Carl Sandburg Middle School and West Potomac High School. So close to all, but peaceful, quiet and offering a wonderful quality of life for its residents.

Average sold price YTD 2021 is $836,268 which is 7.4% higher than last year.

Total units sold YTD: 34
Average Days on Market: 14

Please see additional market statistics below.

Where is your next chapter? Let us help you find ‘home’. 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 agents.

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 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: Where in the World Wide Web can I settle on my new home?

Answer: It started in March 2020 — my first “drive-by” settlement in a parking lot with sellers getting a clipboard, papers and a clean pen through their car window. I was in another car watching with my phone on speaker. The buyers copied the process 15 minutes later — same parking lot, same paperwork plus loan documents. It worked. One-time event, right?

Au contraire — as in so many areas, the real estate world has permanently changed due to the pandemic and safety worries. Here are some distinct differences in today’s world.

In the olden days of pre-2020, the highest tech was a “mail-away” scenario where papers were sent to sellers to print and go to a bank to find a notary wherever they were.

Now, the notary will come to you (called a mobile closing or remote notarization). The title company will designate a company and have a trained human come in person to your dining room table to tackle the papers and authenticate the actual signing before scanning and shipping everything to the closing company. For my clients, with the keen cooperation between the lenders and the title company, my far-flung sellers have opened their doors to these live notaries and completed their work in places from Vancouver to Colorado Springs to Naples, Italy.

A remote company can also handle long-distance virtual seller signings, and this is called eNotary. Just this year, I have had legal electronic signings occur with a seller recuperating in a Paris hospital and others unpacking at their new home in Austin, Texas. No face-to-face human interaction — just phone connections and internet presentation of the documents.

Buyers can now occasionally join in on the long-distance, remote-signing fun. International settlements were recently tricky due to time zones and FHA/FreddieMac/VA loan requirements that everything be signed on exactly the same date, which meant staring at the door waiting for FedEx or DHL to appear before 5 p.m. Now, buyers can standby for that very long-distance call, ask their questions and make an appointment with the approved eNotary.

“Hybrid settlements” have increased exponentially. According to one title company, every month more and more diverse closing styles are taking the place of sitting around the table at the lawyer’s office or settlement company conference room. I miss the camaraderie and ceremony of the group meeting of the sellers and buyers, but times have changed… Some in-person, some electronic, some in-office, the variable scenarios do add up to the official transfer of property, just without the warmth, good cheer, key transfer and stories about the neighborhood cat everyone feeds or the wonderful UPS fellow who goes the extra mile.

So why not just have local someone else show up to sign, you ask? There are strict rules these days on granting a Power of Attorney (POA) to sign on your behalf. No one with a financial interest in the transaction can be given this responsibility, so you need to find a relative, trusted friend or hire another attorney not involved in this specific closing. And, that person needs to actually show up ready to perform the tasks. “Wet signatures” with real ink are still required on Deeds of Trust, though one-by-one some jurisdictions are allowing carefully controlled electronic signatures. Even so, worry remains about the potential for foul play or hacking.

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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.

If you’re looking for space, look no further than this featured home! With over 2600 square feet, this home has you covered. This detached home has four bedrooms, three baths and plentiful storage — all on a 10,000-square-foot lot.

Step up to the main level where you’ll find a great, sunny living room and large kitchen, just waiting for your finishing touches. The dining room overlooks the deck and enormous backyard, ideal for entertaining inside or out! This spacious level also features a primary with en-suite bathroom, two other bedrooms and a large hall bathroom. The finished lower level features a versatile recreation room, perfect for movie night or game night! An additional bedroom and bathroom are on this level, adding a perfect guest space. Storage is no problem here with plenty of space in the utility/laundry room.

Sitting atop a 10,000-square-foot lot in a prime location, this home can easily be expanded and made your own — or perhaps add parking in the rear! You’ll have easy access to 395, Reagan National Airport, Del Ray, Amazon HQ2 and a quick trip into D.C.

3602 Russell Road, Alexandria, VA 22305The 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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Venue, a new condominium and townhome community located along the banks of the Potomac River in the heart of Old Town North, has quickly become one of the most sought-after new residential properties in the D.C. area.

The Towns at Venue consist of 41 new townhomes ranging from 3- to 4-bedrooms, 4- to 5-bathrooms and with 2-car garages! With eight distinct floor plans available, starting at an impressive 2,300 square feet, homes can include options like rooftop terraces with available outdoor kitchens and in-home elevators. The homes are also EarthCraft-certified for a healthy, comfortable home and greater energy efficiency.

The townhomes will be delivering later this fall, and we invite you to visit VenueAlexandria.com or contact the sales team with McWilliams|Ballard at [email protected] to arrange a private appointment at the nearby sales gallery.


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: How can I buy a house before selling my current one?

Answer: After skipping a year, the real estate market is playing out its usual late summer to fall softness. It’s hard to call it a slowdown since sales in many areas remain brisk. Last year, however, during the COVID-19 rush to buy social distancing via one’s home, we did not have this traditional softness. So, what does that mean for people who are considering selling a home?

We have all heard about “low inventory,” meaning fewer than average homes on the market. Sellers have been reluctant to put their homes up for sale, wondering how they will manage the timing and contingencies as they become potential buyers. As a buyer, the market has demanded they have no contingency on the sale of a prior house — how do they buy without having first sold? They are also bombarded with TV commercials and mail solicitations about selling their home directly to one of the “flippers” who buys homes quickly in any condition. So, the dual issues for sellers have been the prospect of becoming a buyer, plus the issue of what to do if their home is not perfectly market-ready.

These two issues have recently been addressed. First, in order to become a cash-ready buyer, sellers can now sell their home to an intermediary, free up their cash and stay in their house for up to 12 months while they shop for a new home. This is essentially fast and easy “bridge financing.”

There is now also a platform to seek bids from the “flippers” so you know what they are really offering — and can weigh that against selling with full market exposure. As experienced real estate brokers, we have always assisted sellers with the preparation of their homes. We have a stable of great contractors who can spruce up a house for market. Many of them will hold financing until settlement. We have always believed, and still do, that some prep and full market exposure is the best option for our seller clients. For houses that need major work, however — and where sellers are really considering the flippers — having a platform to check multiple flippers against full market exposure truly gives sellers all the options.

These two seller options are part of the McEnearney Advantage program. In addition to our traditional top-flight service, we can now add both modern bridge financing and a platform to evaluate online or flipper offers.

So, if the idea of selling your home has been too daunting, let us give you all the options. Having all the options means you are both a fully-informed seller and an unpressured buyer. Best of both worlds.

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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Well-Paid Maids is Fully Vaccinated!

Note: This photo was taken pre-pandemic. All cleaners wear masks inside your home.

Well-Paid Maids is ahead of the curve. Not only is the cleaning company leading the charge by paying their employees (yes, employees — not contractors) a living wage of at least $20 an hour, but they also implemented a company-wide vaccine mandate in mid-August, well before the Biden administration’s decision.

Now, Well-Paid Maid’s entire staff is fully vaccinated.

The mandate came after months of offering employees vaccine incentives, including emergency paid leave to get their vaccine and recover from side effects. Additionally, employees could get a $100 cash bonus as well as company-paid transportation to and from vaccine sites.

When it comes time for booster shots, paid time off is already getting scheduled.

“We are known for taking care of our staff, which is why we offer a living wage and a full benefits package,” said founder Aaron Seyedian. “But it’s also important for us to take care of our customers, which is why we made this move.”

Additionally, all Well-Paid Maid employees will continue to wear masks in your home (and they ask you to do the same when sharing space with them).

You can learn more about Well-Paid Maids’ vaccine policy in a recent New York Times article and over on CNN.

Ready to get your home safely cleaned? Book your cleaning online.

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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.

Featured in this week’s Just Listed is an updated 1 bedroom, 1 full bath condo located 2 minutes from I-395 .This unit has extra storage located in the basement, and parking is made easy with your own reserved spot. This condominium offers amenities such as an outdoor pool and playgrounds.

No investors! This is a restricted resale of a unit offered through the Alexandria Flexible Homeownership Assistance Program. The purchase may be eligible for up to $50,000 in 0% purchase assistance available from the City of Alexandria. The purchaser must live or work within the corporate limits of the City of Alexandria, be a first-time homebuyer, and have a gross annual income less than $72,240 (one person), $82,560 (two people), $92,880 (three people) and $103,200 (four people). Before visiting the property, the purchaser must be pre-approved with a lender from the city-approved list.

3330 S. 28th Street, #301, Alexandria, VA 22302The 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 David Howell, Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer, of McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria. To learn more about this article and relevant market news, contact David at 703-738-9513 or email [email protected]. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

Question: Is the number of home sale contracts in Alexandria City closer to normal levels this year than in 2020?

Answer: In August we wrote about our mid-year Market Report, which takes a look at closed sales in Alexandria City for the first half of 2021 compared to the same months of 2020. As expected, there were substantial improvements this year compared to the peak months of shutdowns and isolation due to COVID. But 2020 was definitely not a normal year as far as traditional spring and summer markets are concerned, so this week we decided to go a little further back and compare contract activity for this year with both 2020 and 2019, which was a more “normal” year for Alexandria real estate.

For the past three years, overall contract activity for the first eight months of each year breaks down as follows:

  • 2019 had 1,824 contracts
  • 2020 had 1,873 contracts
  • 2021 had 2,256 contracts

As the first two charts below show, those strong numbers for 2021 bear out for each price category and property type (condo, attached and detached homes). The third chart looks at contracts by month and demonstrates that this year mirrors 2019 with more activity during the spring months and a bit quieter in July and August. COVID was a major disrupter to that typical spring and summer cycle last year. (Source: BrightMLS. Data deemed reliable but not guaranteed.)

In August we included the following thoughts about what’s ahead for the second half of the year. We look forward to a strong fall market!

  • We expect buying activity to continue to improve — modestly — through the rest of the year.
  • While the abundance of condo inventory will gradually be absorbed, there will continue to be relative bargains available to the purchasers of smaller units.
  • Continuing a trend from the last couple of months, there will be marginally more new listings coming on the market than homes going under contract. That will gradually begin to ease the very tight supply of attached and detached homes.
  • Based on our own projections and the BrightMLS forward-looking Home Demand Index, almost every area of the city will be in the “high demand” category, signaling a healthy second half of the year.
  • The area with the highest demand will likely be the West End.
  • By price range, we will likely see detached homes priced between $700,000 and $1,250,000 continue to be exceptionally strong. For attached homes, the hottest price range will be $500,000 to $1,000,000. In both cases, these will be what we consider “extreme” seller’s markets.
  • For condos, the hottest part of the market will be for units priced between $500,000 and $800,000, but that price range will not be as strong as the market for attached and detached homes.

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.

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