Alexandria, VA

This week’s Q&A column is sponsored and written by Brian Bonnet, Senior Loan Officer (NMLS ID# 224811) of Atlantic Coast Mortgage, LLC (NMLS ID# 643114). To learn more about current mortgage rates and the home loan process, contact Brian at 703-766-6702 or email [email protected]. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

Question: How can the Lender I use give me a competitive edge?

Answer: To say home purchasers are experiencing a competitive market is far more than an understatement. The inventory of homes for sale in Alexandria and Arlington is down approximately 40% from this time in 2019 and that inventory was down significantly from the year before. Most prospective purchasers find themselves competing against others for the limited property which is available.

In order to be an actual buyer and not just a looker, you must be more attractive to sellers than those you are competing against. Obviously, your offer price is a big part of the equation, but assuming you are in the hunt in that regard, there are several other considerations which savvy listing agents suggest their sellers consider. Among them are home sale contingencies, the buyer’s proposed lender, and the proposed settlement date.

When sellers have options, they are almost always inclined to accept an offer that is not contingent upon the sale of another home as opposed to an offer which is. For buyers, the trick is to determine whether it is truly possible to purchase the next home without first selling the existing home.

To be able to do so often requires some sort of bridge loan scenario, and that is a type of financing not provided by most lenders. Generally, bridge loans are provided by a handful of locally based mortgage banking institutions who tend to understand the local real estate market more than much larger or nationally based companies.

Engaging a local company which provides special bridge loan products when you begin to think about purchasing a new home may make the difference between your contract being accepted over that of someone else.

In our local market most applicants are approved for the financing they seek, but not all. In too many cases, prospective purchasers are sent down a path to purchase a home only to be denied the financing they understood they would receive. Often that unfortunate news comes just before the expected settlement date. To avoid this scenario, it is imperative that lenders truly know whether a buyer is going to be able to obtain the financing they need before the contract offer is made.

Wise and experienced listing agents are generally wary of contracts where the proposed lending institution or loan officer is either not known at all, or worse, known to fail from time to time. With two offers on the table at the same proposed sales price, the purchaser who proposes to get their financing from Bank of the World or Skippy’s Mortgage.com will often loose to the offer where the lender is a local lender with a positive reputation.

How quickly a buyer can close the transaction is often a consideration of sellers. If you are the seller, you generally want the transaction settled with the proceeds in your bank account sooner rather than later — even if you are not ready to move out of the home you are selling.

Successful buyers quite often propose settlement dates as soon as two to three weeks after the contract ratification in order to make their offers more enticing. Wise listing agents know that many, if not most, lenders cannot perform that quickly. Again, generally it is the well-known local lender that can process and underwrite an application and be ready for settlement in three weeks or less.

Some people enjoy the process of simply searching for a new home and writing contracts, but if your end goal is to be successful in purchasing a home, you truly need to consider every aspect of your offer and how attractive it may be to the seller. Purchasers should consider the reputation of the lending institution, the nature of the proposed financing and how quickly the lender is able to be ready for settlement. The seller likely will.

If you would like more information to help plan your next move, please contact Brian Bonnet at [email protected] or call 703-766-6702.

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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This week’s Q&A column is sponsored and written by Philip G. Matyas, Associate Broker of The Shannon Group and McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria. The Shannon Group realtors are your “Eyes and Ears for Old Town” and the residential real estate market from McLean to Mount Vernon. For more information about this article or the current Old Town/Alexandria housing market contact Philip at 703-507-8655 or email [email protected]. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

Question: How did home sales this January compare to January 2019, and what’s the forecast for this spring?

Answer: If you haven’t read my past two articles regarding a milder winter and the super opportunity for selling or buying into it, then read on and take the time to put your home buying/selling strategy into effect now before the traditional spring market (which I suspect will not be so traditional) begins in mid-March. Only once before in my 25 years of local residential real estate in Old Town have I witnessed such extended warm weather that produced the mix for such a hot winter market.

Just two months ago I wrote:

“I believe that the start of 2020 will begin with a housing market worthy of all the Old Town fireworks you will see explode over the Potomac River at the foot of King Street on First Night” and “It is quite possible spring-like sales could occur in early 2020.”

True to these words I have spent the past four weeks prepping an Old Town home to place on the market soon, having coordinated contractors to paint the exterior during the unusually warm days and interior spaces when the days were not.

As well, part of The Shannon Group’s concierge services included coordinating a staging expert, cleaners and window washers weeks ahead to take advantage of the perfect 2020 winter real estate storm — high demand (good for sellers), low inventory (good for sellers) and historic low interest rates (good for buyers to overcome the demand and low inventory challenges). Already this year, we have closed on 2 homes (with one taking only 16 days from ratification to settlement).

Have you or someone you know been thinking of making a move since December? The following are some healthy statistics to help in your decision making.

Alexandria’s “Perfect Storm” Market Statistics — January 2020 vs. January 2019*

In 2019, home listings inventories fell, the market tightened, buyer competition escalated and homes prices gently increased. In January 2020, the lack of available homes for sale resulted in a lower number being sold — 8.45% less than in January 2019 — but resulted in the average sales price increasing by 11.3% over January 2019.

For 2020, year-end Alexandria home sales prices are expected to increase by 5.6%.

By year’s end, The Northern Virginia Association of Realtors/GMU Forecast also expects 25.6% fewer units being put on the market than in 2019 and no more than 200 homes being added for sale in any month in 2020. (The NVAR/GMU Forecast is a consensus forecast developed by the Center For Regional Analysis at George Mason University in collaboration with the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors and data from Bright Multiple Listing Service.)

If you have any questions, comments or desire more information regarding the 2020 Forecast for Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church or on the 2020 spring market, please email me.

With over 41 years of expertise, The Shannon Group has the knowledge and experience to guide you through the complexities of a sale. Our multi-level strategies for selling your home are designed for maximum exposure and financial gain. And our home buying strategies educate you along with way and produce winning results. We have properties coming soon to market and buyers looking to purchase in Old Town Alexandria, Rosemont, Del Ray and neighborhoods south along the George Washington Parkway.

Bring your home buying or selling needs to The Shannon Group’s Old Town experts, Joan Shannon and Philip G. Matyas. Contact us by email or call 703-507-8655 to set up an appointment to discuss your real estate needs and view homes from Historic Old Town to Mt. Vernon and beyond on our website Shannon-Group.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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In this week’s Ask McEnearney, the firm celebrates its fortieth anniversary by launching their 40 for 40 campaign!

Our goal at McEnearney Associates was never to be the biggest but to be the best, and for forty years we strived to go above and beyond by investing in the communities that helped us grow the firm to 330 of the best agents in the industry.

We are proud to launch our 40 for 40 campaign which will highlight 40 ways we give back to our community. Join our campaign by following us on Facebook and Instagram.

With sincere gratitude, thank you to the organizations and non-profits that we have worked with to strengthen our communities for the past 40 years.

  • ACT for Alexandria
  • Alexandria Little League
  • Alexandria Rotary Foundation
  • Alexandria Seaport Foundation
  • Alexandria Sportsman Club
  • American Craft Endeavors
  • Avon Walk for Breast Cancer
  • Boys and Girls Club of Washington
  • Carpenter’s Shelter
  • Center for Alexandria’s Children
  • Community Lodgings
  • Craig Keith Design
  • Historic Alexandria Foundation
  • Hopkins House
  • National Capital Lyme/Tick Disease Walk
  • Rebuilding Together Alexandria
  • Saint Coletta of Greater Washington
  • SCAN of Northern Virginia
  • Scholarship Fund of Alexandria
  • Senior Services of Alexandria
  • St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
  • St. Stephens/St. Agnes
  • Symphony Orchestra League of Alexandria
  • TC Williams Athletic Boosters
  • The Campagna Center
  • THE TWIG Old Town Tour
  • The Washington Winter Show
  • United Community Ministries
  • Zerocancer.org

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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This week’s Q&A column is written by Karisue Wyson, Director of Recruiting & Agent Support at McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria. To learn more about this article, contact Karisue at 703-615-0876 or email [email protected]. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

Question: What’s it like to be a realtor?

Answer: I love answering this question, chiefly because my answer is never the same from hour to hour. “It’s a roller coaster” is usually what I say and something most of my realtor colleagues would agree with.

Did your client’s offer get hand-picked by the seller out of a mix of 10 others? You’re at the top of the hill and zooming along at breakneck speed! Was your buyer’s offer the one that came in second? You just crashed down the hill and it’s time to console your client and make that next climb quickly because there are (at least) eight other agents who are doing the same thing at this very moment.

Did you just learn your best friend is moving to the area and wants you to help him find a great house? Hurrah! Wait, you’re in the loop-de-loop because he’s got a relocation package and has to use the brokerage that’s been pre-determined by his employer. (Well, at least he can be a referral source in the future.) Ready for that condo rental tour that you’ve meticulously mapped out and researched with all the best amenities in the neighborhood? Look out, tight curve ahead and now you’re eyeing townhomes and need to become a quick expert on school boundary lines.

And all of this happens before noon.

The trajectory of a real estate career (or even a day in the life of an agent) will vary from person to person but there is one thing that is always true: The best realtors are entrepreneurs who can find business opportunities while managing the chaos that surrounds them.

Working as a realtor in Alexandria presents unique benefits and challenges.

It’s a very diverse area — both geographically and demographically — and savvy realtors must help their clients understand subtle differences that can make a big difference in a community: why a home on one side of Cameron Station is in a flood zone and the other is not; the difference in taxable square footage in City of Alexandria vs. Fairfax County Alexandria; what constitutes a bedroom in a historic townhome in Old Town vs. a colonial in Beverley Hills; why are there so many Alexandria natives when the D.C. area is supposed to be so transient?!

Realtors do more than help clients buy, sell or rent homes. They are the director of a home-life experience that takes shape as the parties are moving through it. Not an easy task and there are many skills an agent needs to employ. Some of these skills  come naturally to realtors — an ability to connect with people, good sales techniques, an optimistic and positive demeanor — and some can be taught, like learning to use a database to track prospective clients or understanding inventory absorption rates across the region.

But it starts with a curiosity about the local market and how to make a business of understanding it for your clients. If you can see yourself working daily and diligently to find ways to make great deals come together and build a network of clients who will come to know you as their Trusted Advisor, then you should consider becoming a realtor.

While realtors are independent contractors (meaning you are contracted to do work within a company but not as an employee), in the state of Virginia you can’t be a licensed agent without affiliating with a sponsoring brokerage. Before you take your Real Estate licensing coursework and licensing exam it’s important to think about the kind of brokerage that will help you define your Real Estate goals and outline a path to realtor success.

Ask questions about training, education, marketing support and agent fees to help understand each brokerage’s business model and how their agents work within it.

What’s it like to be a Realtor at McEnearney Associates? If you are considering making a career switch and want to see how your unique skills, background and personality fit with our approach to Real Estate, visit JoinMcEnearney.com or call me at 703-615-0876. I’d love to tell you more about how thrilling that real estate roller coaster ride can be.

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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This week’s Q&A column is sponsored and written by Kristy Crombie of McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria. To learn more about this article and relevant Alexandria market news, contact Kristy at 571-969-1774 or email [email protected]. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

Question: What’s important when hiring a contractor for a renovation project?

Answer: As realtors, we are often asked about home renovations, whether for a new home or preparing a home for sale. We certainly know a thing or two about which renovations add value to a home and which are particularly appealing to potential buyers.

And, we often suggest homeowners consult a designer, especially for larger projects, since doing so will be well worth the cost in order to achieve the results you want. But the most important factor in determining whether you achieve a quality outcome is the quality of your contractor.

Here are some key considerations in working with a contractor:

1. You should work with a contractor who is licensed and insured. One of the ways to verify a contractor’s license is by visiting the Department of Professional and Occupational Registration (DPOR) website. This agency issues state credentials — licenses, certificates or registrations — to those qualified to practice in regulated professions.

In short, they protect the public by verifying competency, investigating complaints and upholding professional compliance with state laws and regulations. Their website is user friendly and is state specific. Most important, you should feel comfortable with whomever is working in your home. In addition to the DPOR website, check your local or state consumer protection agency website to protect yourself. It is also worthwhile to check the Federal Trade Commission website for additional information and protection information.

2. For large renovation jobs, you will likely hire a general contractor to oversee your entire project. General contractors (or GCs) will often hire sub-contractors for specific work such as tiling a bathroom or installing hardwood floors. Sub-contractors (subs) should also be licensed and insured. It is the responsibility of the GC to hire and communicate with subs and ensure that their work is being done properly and in a timely manner. It is also the job of the GC to pay the subs directly, but within your agreed-upon budget.

3. Your general contractor should apply for (or “pull”) permits depending on the scope of work being done. Each county and state has specific rules and regulations on the use of permits. In addition to safety, permits also serve as a way to update county tax records, as well as make sure the home’s features are accurately recorded if there is ever an insurance claim (it is not unheard of for insurance claims to be denied related to damage to additions/changes that were never permitted).

Visit your county’s official government website for specific information on building permits, whether they are necessary, and how to apply for them. This same website will also provide up-to-date code information.

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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: Chicken or egg? Do I buy first or sell first?

Answer: One of the biggest challenges in this — or mostly any market — is the question of sequence. Whether moving up to a bigger home, downsizing, or moving sideways, there MUST be a plan, or success could be elusive.

The market this year seems poised for a repeat of last year. As a buyer, you must prepare your best offer for a property, since that seller may well receive multiple offers. Most buyers need/want their equity out of their current home in order to purchase the next. So, can you make that offer contingent on selling the house you are currently in — and be successful? Last year, most sellers would not accept a contingent offer.

On the other hand, as a seller, is it wise to put your house on the market, and accept an offer and a move-out date without knowing what your next property will be? That could be a recipe for camping out at Extended Stay America or at the relatives’ for quite awhile!

The issue is how to make that difficult problem as seamless as possible. That is where consulting with experienced professionals — a good real estate broker and lender — are crucially important. Here are some tips and strategies:

  • The first step is to evaluate if you have an option for temporary housing — or even if you want to consider it. If you have local family, does it make any sense to go there for awhile? That would allow you to sell your current home and get your equity in the bank without feeling stressed about rushing into the next purchase.
  • If that is not an option, you may want to market your home for sale — but with a request to “Rent-back” for up to 2 months after settlement. Since the average settlement takes between 30 & 45 days, that would give you almost 3-1/2 months total to then find your next home. You get your equity out at settlement (30-45 days), so you can then use it to make a non-contingent offer on the next home. Much better position for buyer-you, but a little risk that the right house does not come up even with the extra time.
  • If that is tough to imagine, then a good local lender may be able to offer what is known as a “Bridge Loan.” This allows the lender to give you a loan to essentially take equity out of your current house before you sell it, and to use it for the down payment on the next house. In this scenario, you are a buyer first, and then you become a seller. This one takes a good bit of planning, and a very good local lender. It is not for everyone, but is certainly an option to explore.

Example: I have a current client for whom we signed a contract last August to purchase a condo under construction. We knew it would be ready this February, so we evaluated the options, and she was able to live with relatives nearby for several months. We sold her house in October (rather than waiting until the middle of winter), and she has her equity in the bank awaiting completion of the condo.

Another couple found the house they wanted to purchase, and we were able to qualify them for the new mortgage based on “imputed” income from savings and a temporary 401K loan. The 401K provided the down payment in this case (was easier than a bridge loan).

We also knew their existing townhouse would sell very quickly. So, they were able to buy non-contingent, and then sell their townhouse immediately, with matching settlement dates. The proceeds of the townhouse paid back the 401K loan. By the way, we knew they were looking at houses, so we had this scenario set up months before.

Everyone has a different set of circumstances, but the bottom line is it takes planning. You MUST set up a strategy with a good local lender and real estate broker — ahead of time.

Pete Crouch has been a licensed Broker in Alexandria for over two decades. Experienced in construction, finance and making things work, Pete often brainstorms with clients — months and even years ahead of a move. Pete also has a specialty in Mature Moves and will be a speaker at “Decluttering and Downsizing: Ideas from the Experts” at Beatley Library on February 6. Text 703-244-4024 or email [email protected] to register.

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]earney.com 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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This week’s Q&A column is sponsored and written by Philip G. Matyas, Associate Broker of The Shannon Group and McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria. To learn more about this article and relevant Alexandria market news, contact Philip at 703-507-8655 or email [email protected]. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

Question: Which Old Town real estate office sold the most houses in 2019?

Answer: As anyone who was looking to buy or sell a home last year knows, 2019 was a fast-paced, high-demand home market that required in-depth local knowledge and dynamic, steadfast action from their buyer or seller agent to achieve success. For those looking to purchase or sell a home in 2020 the signs point to an even greater need for experienced agents to help advise, navigate and negotiate through an anticipated frothy market.

For 2019, McEnearney Associates, Inc., Old Town office hit the trifecta. With a total sales volume in the City of Alexandria of over $433,500,000* for all of last year, McEnearney topped the nine other local offices. McEnearney’s influence and experienced sales groups far outpaced the second and third closest competitors who, when combined, still had a total sales volume significantly less than McEnearney’s. (*Compiled from the Bright™ multiple listing service)

Breaking down McEnearney’s total sales volume into categories of listing and selling of homes, the Old Town office listed 300 homes/units and had a total sales volume for listings of over $244,500,000. Again, the combined second and third closest competitors’ listing sales volume and number of homes/units listed was less.

To finish the trifecta, McEnearney helped clients buy 214 homes/units with a sales volume of over $188,900,000, once again outpacing their two closest competitors combined numbers and sales volume.

So, what’s new at the start of 2020?

I can answer that question with a question. Did you see my article last month (ALXnow December 18, 2019) on the effect a mild winter could have on our local market? It’s worth reading again as in the last 30 days people walked around in shorts and interest in homes and sales heated up from Old Town to McLean to Mount Vernon. Along with the change in weather came some change to buyer strategies.

One of The Shannon Group’s agents listed a home in the Historic Old Town District on December 27 and already closed on it on January 13 — two days ago. In a separate transaction also in Historic Old Town, a mid-December buyer client of ours will be closing on a home, as this article goes to print. (It has been a mild winter, hasn’t it?)

In this hectic, extremely competitive environment, a significant number of deals are made before a property ever publicly reaches the market. There is a trend beginning with owners who do not want to conduct open houses, have other personal concerns for the sale of their home or desire a different timeframe to buy or sell into rather than the current market. They, also, are looking for the buyer who wants to “get in ahead of the crowd.”

Some of these owners with their special criteria may contact me to strategize and coordinate their special needs and timing. Linking a buyer with such an owner is one way deals are occurring more often, but they only happen because of the inside, local knowledge and coordination of the agent.

For example, if you know of any properties as noted below, we have buyers for a:

  • 3 Bed, 2+ Bath Townhouse within 1/2 mile of King Street Metro
  • 2 Bed, 2+ Bath Condo in the Heart of Old Town
  • 4 Bed, 3+ Bath Single Family Home between Potomac River GW & Parkway
  • 2 Bed, 1 Bath Condo in Park Fairfax or Fairlington

And if you know any buyers looking this spring, we have a home in the SE Quadrant of Old Town and a home in Villamay.

Bring your home buying or selling needs to the Old Town experts, Joan Shannon and Philip G. Matyas. Contact us by email or call 703-507-8655 to set up an appointment to discuss your real estate needs and view homes from Historic Old Town to Mt. Vernon and beyond on our website Shannon-Group.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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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: As a dog owner, would you share some suggestions for things to consider when purchasing (or renting) a home?

Answer: Everyone has a personal set of deal breakers when it comes to “must haves” for their dog. My first suggestion would be to think about what those would be for you and your pet.

  • Do you need a fenced yard? Or are you OK with walking your dog on a leash? Or taking them to the dog park?
  • Is an entrance from the ground floor required? Or is your dog OK with an elevator or stairs?
  • Does your dog bark when neighbors walk by the front door, or cry when you are not at home? If that is the case, a condo may not work for you, but a single family home or end-unit townhouse might be fine.
  • How does your dog get along with other canines? Keep this in mind when selecting a home that has other dogs in close proximity.
  • Similarly, does your dog like children? Being next to a playground or school would be difficult if children are not their favorite friends.
  • How about floors? Some dogs are afraid of hardwoods, and others have a tendency to have accidents, so think about those things too.

Secondly, keep in mind that some condo or townhouse developments have pet restrictions. Find out what they are before falling in love with a home.

  • Check to see if there are breed restrictions
  • There also may be maximum size/weight rules
  • The number of pets also may come into play
  • Registering your pet with the development or the city may be required
  • Most planned developments have specified dog walking areas, or places in the community where your pet is not allowed
  • Some even take your dog’s DNA to fine you if your dog relieves him/herself and you do not clean up

Working with a pet friendly real estate professional who understands that your dog is a member of your family and their needs are an important part of your house hunt can make all the difference in an already stressful situation. Finding the home that works for both you and your pets makes the transition so much easier for everyone. For tips on moving with your dog, check out the Dog Friendly Real Estate section of my website.

Lisa Groover is a licensed real estate agent with McEnearney Associates, Inc. in Old Town Alexandria, VA. Having had seven golden retrievers since moving to Alexandria in 1989, she is dedicated to helping other dog owners through the challenges of renting, buying and selling their home. Stay tuned from her next article about selling your home when you own a dog.

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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This week’s Q&A column is sponsored and written by Jillian Keck Hogan of Jillian Keck Hogan Real Estate Group and McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria. To learn more about this article and relevant Alexandria market news, contact Jillian at 703-951-7655 or email [email protected]. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

Question: It’s a New Year and a new decade — what does that mean for the market in Alexandria?

With each new year we all start taking stock of what the new year will have in store for us. For a good number of you, that list includes moving to a new home. That new home might be just down the street or across the world. If you are a homeowner, one of the first questions you may have is how will the market in 2020 impact the sale value of my home in Alexandria?

Here are a few insights on the market to assist you in making the most of your sale in 2020. If interested in learning more, join us at the new ALX Community on Union Street in Alexandria on February 6 for our group round table and wine pairing where we discuss expectations and answer questions on buying/selling in our area. To RSVP Email [email protected].

  • Inventory is lower in the month of January and February compared to March-June. The commonly referred to “spring market” actually kicks off the end of February and does not begin to calm down until the end of June. Though sellers tend to think that is the most ideal time to sell, remember that the less the inventory — the more of a seller’s market. For example, The Jillian Keck Hogan Group had a listing go on the market on February 12 of 2019 and sell within the first weekend online with over five offers, one all cash.
  • The biggest “no, go” in our area is weather. This could be as large as the snowstorm we had in 2016 or as small as a dusting that closes schools and work for a day. The impact is that buyers stay indoors and do not go out on tour with their agent or get out to visit Open Houses. Our advice, prep your home, take your photos, but wait to click active on your listing until you can confirm that there will be no snow in the forecast for your first week on the market.
  • After the “Amazon Effect”, buyers are out there and interested in finding a new home, no matter the season. If the home is priced in line with the last 6 months of comparable home sales, is in good condition, and staged well, you should have no issues in finding a well-qualified buyer quickly. Need some assistance in getting your home in “good condition”, ask your agent for referrals to trusted licensed professionals and also provide suggestions on what projects to prioritize.
  • Outside of Amazon, we have a number of other great new developments breaking ground and coming to our neighborhoods. These include Potomac Yard Metro, Wegmans and plans for new Landmark Mall. These large-scale additions to our community assist in home values increasing. To see all that is happening, check out the city’s website https://www.alexandriava.gov/Projects.
  • As for the fall market, this can be just a strong as some spring months for sellers. Over the last few years, sellers have continued to see multiple offers on their homes with contingencies that lean more in the seller’s favor.
  • This fall does bring a Presidential election in 2020. McEnearney Associates, Inc. has been collecting data on the market impact of big election years. We would be happy to break that down for you at your price point and trends prior to and after elections. If President Trump does not win the election, we can predict an influx of buyers coming to the area and also owners selling to move back to a hometown.

Overall, 2020 is shaping up to be another stand up year for sellers. With the right preparation, marketing plans and at market pricing, home owners can plan to see quick sales with terms in their favor.

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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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 Hope 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 accomplish my goal of becoming a homeowner in 2020?

Answer: The New Year’s Resolution. Such hope. Such optimism. Such unrealistic goals.

“This year I will lose 100 pounds by Valentine’s Day and work out 8 days a week!”

“This year I will read one book every day!”

“This year I will save $200,000 for a down payment and never pay a landlord again!”

While I can’t add another day to the week, or force you to read “The Iliad”, I can tell you that purchasing your first home may be a more realistic goal than you would think.

The truth is that there are many options for loans. Some loans require that the buyer come up with just 3%, while other loans require 5% or 10% down. In 2019, the median down payment for first-time home buyers who financed a purchase was just 6%, according to the National Association of Realtors. The same report showed that the median down payment for repeat buyers was just 16%.

Often times, while new buyers are working hard to save a hefty 20% down payment, the type of home they wanted ends up costing significantly more a year or two later; all the while, they are spending thousands on rent, and not earning the benefits of appreciation that come with a home investment.

It’s true that in a competitive market, faced with multiple offers, a seller may choose one with a higher down payment. However, there are many ways to structure a great offer in a way that remains highly competitive. Having an experienced realtor and a great lender on your team is key in getting your offer accepted.

Another concern for buyers is “how fast will I need to transfer the cash for my down payment?” Many buyers have their funds in interest bearing accounts and it takes a few days to access, so this is a great question. When we write up your offer, we can specify how many days it will take to deliver the earnest money deposit (EMD). The EMD is just a portion of your down payment, usually just 2-3% of the sale price. It will be used towards your down payment at settlement and the remaining balance of your down payment is not due until settlement day, allowing plenty of time for you to transfer the funds.

While the offer process can be fast paced, your Realtor and lender will guide you through the process, each step of the way. They work on many home purchases each year. Trust their advice and your path to home ownership will be much less stressful, and a lot easier, than doing crunches and eating kale!

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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This week’s Q&A column is sponsored and written by Philip G. Matyas, Associate Broker of The Shannon Group and McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria. To learn more about this article and relevant Alexandria market news, contact Philip at 703-507-8655 or email [email protected]. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

Question: What will the local Alexandria housing market look like at the beginning of 2020?

Answer: It has been but a few occasions during my past 25 years of local Old Town, Alexandria residential real estate practice that I expect an opening like the one coming for 2020. I believe that 2020 will begin with a housing market worthy of all the Old Town fireworks you will see explode over the Potomac River at the foot of King Street on First Night.

Along with the New Year’s Eve revelers, sellers will be happy to see the values of their homes moderately increasing and buyers can celebrate continuing availability of low mortgage interest rates to purchase their new homes. However, this is one of those years the weather could put an odd twist to seasonal home deals.

Could there be an early spring housing market?

Be one of the first 10 readers to email [email protected] to receive local artist Todd Healy’s Old Town Alexandria 2020 Calendar — photo above.

It is quite possible spring-like sales could occur in early 2020. Below are some personal residential decisions to consider at the beginning of the New Year that could prove beneficial in the sale or purchase of a home in the first quarter.

  • During warmer than usual winters, the spring housing market can appear within weeks of New Year festivities. This coming year, if warmer weather combines with our low housing inventory and pent-up buyer demand, it could be the perfect storm for an early “January/February” spring market.
  • Seller’s should prep their homes and make listing decisions sooner. For those homeowners who find the prospect of prepping a home quite daunting and difficult to manage an experienced, dedicated and dependable full-service real estate agent can transform a mind-bending challenge into a pleasant, successful conclusion. From decluttering, finding temporary storage and making home repairs to professional staging, photography and cutting-edge marketing, members of the Shannon Group provide concierge services and negotiation strategies as part of their local portfolio of experience, dedication and dependable full-service client coordination.
  • Yes, Amazon transfers begin in earnest next year. However, if Seattle is any history, the vast majority of employees will be renters. So, sellers in the area may want to list homes earlier in the year to benefit from “selling into limited inventory.” As a side note, sellers should consider the insight that Amazon’s and Virginia Tech’s eventual impact on the area could be to keep our higher-priced local residential market stable during a down real estate market nationwide.
  • Buyers should start looking now rather than waiting for the “historical” spring market listing inventory build-up which could be lessened by warmer winter weather. Sellers are often more flexible and motivated to make a deal at the holidays and the beginning of the new year than they are in March or April. Contact Joan Shannon at [email protected] to learn about her recent strategies and successes to help buyers purchase a home during the holidays.
  • Through the first three quarters of 2019, McEnearney Associates Realtors has been the residential leader in Old Town & Alexandria sales volume and number of listed homes/sold listings (according to EVP & CIO, David Howell). I expect McEnearney Associates Realtors to finish 2019 as the leader in these areas by as much as two to three times more than the nearest Alexandria/Old Town competing office. In this highly competitive and high-demand market, sellers want higher prices and buyers want new or like-new homes. Success depends of those agents who bring experience and winning strategies to the table.
  • What makes Historic Old Town, Alexandria such a wonderful place to live and such a highly publicized destination by a variety of national publications are what I call the local unsung heroes. With little recognition the work of such individuals adds to the character, culture, color, vibrancy and ambiance of Historic Old Town — and that helps add value to the local real estate market. One such owner is Todd Healy, owner of Gallery Lafayette. Through four decades, his creative paintings, streetscapes, Old Town calendars, framing of historic maps, historic letters and meticulous work on early Alexandria cartography have set him apart from any other local artist. His shop has always been one of the most inviting, and warm places to experience. He is part of the fabric that makes Old Town shine.

If you have any questions or comments regarding the 2020 spring market please connect with us at Shannon_Group.com; [email protected] or call 703-507-8655.

Bring your home buying or selling needs and questions to The Shannon Group Old Town experts, Joan Shannon and Philip G. Matyas. Contact us to set up an appointment to view homes from Old Town to Mt. Vernon and beyond and to see how 40+ years of experience, local knowledge, integrity, dedication and care means success for you.

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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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.

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 that we live and work in. They are responsible for our enviable reputation. They are McEnearney Associates.

With sincere gratitude, thank you to these organizations and non-profits that we have worked with to strengthen our communities in the past 40 years.

Our 2019 Community Partners

ACT for Alexandria, Alexandria Little League, Alexandria Rotary Foundation, Alexandria Sportsman Club, Boys & Girls Club, Carpenter’s Shelter, Community Lodgings, George Washington Parkway Classic, Historic Alexandria Foundation, Hopkins House, Inova Blood Donor Services, Mt Vernon-Lee Chamber of Commerce, National Breast Cancer Foundation, Rebuilding Together Alexandria, SCAN of Northern Virginia, Scholarship Fund of Alexandria, Senior Services of Alexandria, Special Olympics of VA, Symphony Orchestra League of Alexandria, Tall Ship Providence Foundation, The Campagna Center, The Fund for Alexandria’s Child, and The Twig.

Our current partnership with One Warm Coat aims to provide warm clothing items to those in need in Alexandria. No one should be cold this winter! Drop your warm clothing items (coats, hats, gloves, scarves) at our office thru January 10! All items are distributed back into our community to those in need by One Warm Coat!

#WeAreAlexandria

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. 

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