Alexandria, VA

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: How did the real estate market in the City of Alexandria for the 3rd quarter of 2020 compare to 2019?

Answer: As we discussed back in July, the first half of the year saw a significant impact on Alexandria’s real estate market from the COVID-19 pandemic. After a solid start from January 1 to March 15, contract activity dropped off 13% through the end of June. Decreases were greatest through April and almost “normal” by mid-May. Activity in June actually surpassed 2019 and that growth has increased significantly through the third quarter of this year.

Overall contract activity in the City of Alexandria increased 33.3% in the 3rd quarter of 2020 compared to the 3rd quarter of 2019. As the chart above indicates, homes priced $300,000-$749,999 saw the most significant increases by quantity, but the number of contracts for homes priced $1+ million has more than doubled in that time period.

If we look more closely at contract activity by property type, the most significant increase was for attached homes which includes townhomes and duplexes — up 64.6% for the third quarter. Detached homes are the smallest part of the Alexandria market. The modest increase of 5.2% may have been held down by lack of inventory, not lack of demand. Contract activity for condos in Alexandria City also saw a sizeable increase of 26.5%.

Despite the market contraction brought on by COVID-19 in the spring, contract activity has come back strong. Inventory is low and we expect to see very tight supply for the foreseeable future, which is great for sellers and a bit challenging for buyers. That tight supply will put upward pressure on home prices.

For more in-depth, local real estate news and to search for your next home, please visit our website.

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 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: Two-Way Street — Interviewing Each Other

Answer: Not looking for love, not looking for a forever commitment, but also not simply looking for a vacuum cleaner either… critical decisions await.

Out of the blue, we realtors all get phone calls from phone numbers we don’t recognize and hear previously unheard voices asking for a meeting to possibly list their property.

And, we begin… preliminary questions batted softly back and forth with sellers checking that they have identified the perfect agent for their special home and, though it is sometimes not realized, agents are digging into whether someone might just be testing the market without the intention of actually using our skills to sell properties.

Why would sellers ever do that, you ask… humans have lots of reasons to take actions… maybe there is a potential split coming in the household and one party wants to have a plan put together; maybe greedy heirs are fussing with each other and may never agree on listing terms or division of proceeds; maybe a job transfer is possible and a seller only wants data for negotiating a corporate buy-out; or other reasons.

Listening is important for all parties. Make an appointment to talk without distractions — either on the phone, in person or via ZOOM. Just the other day an out-of-town seller started what ended up being a two-part, serious conversation first calling from her car while stuck in traffic with twin 3-year olds in the back seat. Those little ones were bouncing around vociferously while she was trying to have me sell Grandma’s home in Rosemont. Calmer times prevailed after nap time and we now have information exchanged and a plan for January 2021!

Two weeks ago, again listening was critical… a tough break-up had left the house half-furnished and two horses soon to be homeless. This was a case where I had to bow out, let the spouse sort many, many issues out first, and offer to meet again in six to twelve months.

Then, a beloved couple in Old Town told me upfront that they only wanted a price or market analysis so that some neighbors could purchase it from them, having always loved their home. Jump ahead three weeks, when the friends declined the opportunity and I was unexpectedly signed on as their listing agent, did intense historical research, heavy marketing and received five lovely contracts from the broad market. You just never know.

And, finally, just when you think this business is simply transactional and transient, I got a call from a client wanting to switch lifestyles from a cool, three-level townhouse to upscale one-level living. He was serious and, within weeks, we sold his home and contracted for a classy condo.

As we sat, socially-distanced at back-to-back settlements last week, we laughed when counting that these represented our Settlements #7 and #8 for him, finally beating out my other long-haulers, who have maxed out at 7 settlements, for now!

Stories for everything indeed, but the matching of experience, energy and true interest in selling, makes a successful match. Listen carefully to each other, ask lots of questions, both directions, and work toward creating a team effort to happily, smoothly head toward settlement.

Ann Duff — Your positive advantage for residential and commercial properties throughout the area. Experience and Energy, Negotiations and Knowledge — All with a splash of fun! Let’s Get Busy!

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 Ann McClure of McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria. To learn more about this article and relevant market news, contact Ann at 301-367-5098 or email [email protected]. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

Question: What is the top contributor to household wealth?

Answer: The top contributor to wealth in the United States IS homeownership, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. Unsure of taking your statistics from a trade organization? Well, U.S. Census researchers found that the biggest determinants of household wealth are owning a home, followed by a retirement account.

Visit the most recent “Survey of Consumer Finances” conducted every three years (last in 2019) by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System — a federal agency and HQ of the nation’s central bank. They’re tasked with surveying the public to gain an understanding of the financial condition of U.S. households and to study the effects of our ever-changing economy. They consistently share data that the net worth of a homeowner is more than 40x greater than that of a renter!

No matter where you look, the data unwaveringly shows that buying starts most consumers on a path toward financial freedom. Of course, there are other ways — but buying property “forces” an owner into saving. As a homeowner makes their mortgage payment each month, they slowly realize gains in equity. While markets do ebb and flow, holding a property for long enough also means realizing gains in equity as values rise.

But, buying a home can be ridiculously challenging in our region. A buyer must go in with eyes wide open and a good strategy to make the most of this herculean effort. The good news? Buying is not impossible. The equity gains and tax write-offs start early on in ownership and continue. Plus, in a pandemic year when people want more control of their space, it may now even be among the strategies for staying healthier — who knew that would be a benefit of homeownership?

So, what does a buying strategy look like? The founder of McEnearney Associates, John McEnearney said that the three most important things to consider when buying are: Location, location, location. Buy where others want to buy or where you see upward trends. Yes, that means competition, but once in, it means greater gains.

Look at Alexandria and Arlington right now — the “Amazon Effect” has made inventory a trickle of what it once was (in fact, to look at it graphically, the stranglehold following the November 2018 announcement about HQ2 is very obvious). There’s a mad scramble of contract activity for good property. Imagine throwing breadcrumbs into an over-crowded duck pond and be careful not to lose your hand!

Start by meeting with a good realtor and locally-based loan officer (personally, I believe in the power of referrals to locally-based businesses — ask friends and family who they used). Read, listen and learn. Buying a home is a process, like anything else, and there are LOTS of moving parts.

Carefully analyze your income. Consider not only the mortgage, but potential maintenance or repair costs and rising utility and property tax costs. When meeting with a loan officer, instead of asking what you’re approved to purchase, back into the numbers — share what you’re comfortable paying monthly and then see what that, paired with your down payment, will buy you.

Think about your lifestyle… Consider commuting options and travel along with nearby major arteries/transportation hubs. While traffic is less than it used to be, it’s still a big factor. Do you like to be closer to the city and able to mosey over to the local coffee shop to enjoy a socially-distant cup of java with friends? Maybe you enjoy birdsong while looking over a generous lawn and watching the sun rise and deer meander. Don’t buy where you’ll hate living — trust your instincts. Stats and facts are great, but you need to like living there and coming home to what makes you feel happy and restored.

I’ve heard it argued that buying means a loss of freedom — you can’t just pick up and go. What’s great about owning in Northern Virginia and the D.C. Metro area is that you often CAN just pick up and go. We’re in a very transient area — people come and go all the time — whether that means a need for short-term rentals, or the longer-term lease…

Contractors, military, state department, researchers and others move here regularly and need housing. What if the little condo you bought becomes a money-making investment for you while you channel your inner David Letterman and leave the big city for a fly-fishing adventure in Whitefish, Montana?

Buying is good. The process is hard, but worth it. It gives you options and financial freedom and that investment in your future is nearly priceless!

Ann McClure is a licensed real estate agent in Virginia and Maryland with McEnearney Associates, Inc. If you would like more information on selling or buying in today’s complex market, contact Ann at 301-367-5098 or visit her website AnnMcClure.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 Jen Baca of McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria. To learn more about this article and relevant Alexandria market news, contact Jen at 703-826-5158 or email [email protected]. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

Question: What is it like being a new agent during COVID-19?

Answer: COVID has changed how every business operates and real estate is no different. From virtual open houses to Zoom listing appointments, the real estate industry has pivoted quickly in order to sustain business.

I am no stranger to pivoting. In March, I was working for The Atlantic magazine in live events. With an MBA in marketing, I had spent the last 10 years working in live events and sales alongside executives across the Fortune 500.

When COVID hit, we had to pivot our entire business model to virtual events in a matter of days. We went from producing 150+ events a year across the globe to having only a handful of virtual events on the books. A few weeks later, 67 of my colleagues and I were laid off.

While some may look at being laid off as a setback, I quickly realized that this was the time I had been waiting for. I had been considering a move to real estate for years, but just never thought I’d have the time to do it while working full time. Now, all I had was time. I gave myself a day to feel sad with my former colleagues, but then I got to work.

Licensing classes were held via Zoom and I had to work a little harder to connect with my classmates. We exchanged phone numbers and started texting to host virtual study sessions. We made it a point to check in with each other, to send each other practice test questions and to cheer each other on. That has been one of the most surprising things about getting into real estate. Although all agents compete with each other, there is a real desire to see each other succeed. A rising tide lifts all boats.

When it came time to take my exam, I had to wash my hands and have my temperature taken before entering the room. We were spaced out in the testing room so I would not come in contact with others. And of course, we wore masks. I actually had a potential COVID exposure and had to change my exam date while I waited out my quarantine. I looked at this as just more time to study.

Once I passed my exam it was time to meet with brokerages. Most every brokerage I contacted held their interviews via Zoom. It was a little challenging trying to connect on a screen, but we have all learned to adapt. I think the best part of this new Zoom-life is the humility it has brought us all.

I did interviews with my 2-year-old listening to Baby Shark in the background. We no longer have to pretend that we’re not a mom, or a wife, or a dog owner. The lines are blurred because we have to be all of those things at the same time while we work! On camera!

But even after never meeting in person, I knew McEnearney was the right choice. They took time to listen to me, showed me that they heard my value and understood what I was looking for. And that is exactly how I treat my clients. I listen. I show them that I heard them. And I deliver on what was promised.

Starting a new job remotely has its own funny quirks. I saw the office for the first time three weeks in. My broker, my mentor and myself laughed when we discovered we were all very tall in real life! I have to stop myself from feeling guilty for sending 100 really annoying emails with basic questions because there is no one’s office that I can just pop-in to ask. But we’re all in this together and everyone has been so helpful throughout the process.

I’ve really leaned into what I came into real estate already knowing. I know how to market digitally so I’ve translated those skills into creating a strong digital presence. I know how to use social media to build a brand. As a trained opera singer, I know how to perform, especially on camera. I’ve leaned into video platforms to connect with buyers and sellers when we can’t be in person.

What better time to start a new business than a global pandemic?

If you’re looking for a high-tech agent and want to learn more about how McEnearney has pivoted during COVID to keep our buyers and sellers safe, reach out to me!

Jen Baca is a licensed REALTOR® with McEnearney Associates, Inc. in Old Town Alexandria, VA. If you would like more information on selling or buying in today’s complex market, contact Jen today at 703-828-5158 or visit her website JenBaca.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: I am getting my house ready to put on the market and wanted to ask if everything really needs to be all beige or gray?

Answer: The best way to answer this question is…it depends upon the type of property, the target buyer pool, if you are using your furniture and accessories, or if it will be staged.

When I am working with a seller, my first step is to have them give me a tour of their home to discuss what they are planning to keep, move, give away or sell. We also review the paint colors, artwork, accessories and bedding. I then come back on my own and walk through the house making a list of suggested repairs, painting, modifications, items to keep in the same room, items to move elsewhere, items to put into storage, and options for staging. Then we get together to review and make decisions on how to move forward.

I generally suggest a neutral wall color throughout the house. It does not have to be the same color in every room, but a pallet that keeps the home light and bright and flows nicely from room to room. In cases where each room is a different bold color, it can be a distraction to the potential buyer and an expense that they prefer not to incur before moving into their new home.

I personally have a lime green kitchen and a hot pink master bathroom and would definitely need to make some changes before putting my own house on the market.

With neutral paint, bedding, shower curtains and towels, carpet, or in most cases furniture, you can always add color and personality with your artwork and accessories. I just sold a home in Old Town Alexandria with creamy white walls, light hardwood and tile floors, and white blinds. We used grey and white linens and white towels, and brought in large colorful contemporary art and fun accessories to make it pop! The photos and feedback were fabulous and it sold in a few days.

In another listing, the contemporary townhome had dark hardwoods, white cabinets and countertops, light grey walls and beautiful neutral tile. The furniture, artwork, and accessories were bright greens and oranges. It was gorgeous!

In other situations, however, I have worked with sellers that, like me, love colorful walls and bold artwork and accessories, and were not open to making changes. The feedback I received from potential buyers was that they could not picture themselves or their furniture in the house, and the listing lingered on the market until the price or condition was modified.

Another thing to keep in mind is that most buyers keep up with TV shows, social media, and magazines about flipping houses, before and after makeovers, and how to decorate a new home. They will feel a neutral background offers them more options.

Whether you decided to go with a completely neutral look, or one with colorful accents, keep in mind that in order to get top dollar, your home should be move-in ready.

If you would like a professional, confidential evaluation of your home, please give me a call. I am happy to meet with you, tour your home, and offer suggestions for updates, repairs, or staging prior to listing your home.

Good luck!

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.

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 McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria. To learn more about this article and relevant market news, contact Mary Ellen at 703-472-5454. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

Say yes to this fabulous historic home in Old Town!

Take a sunny tour of 217 S Fairfax Street with local Alexandria resident and owner of Salon Monte, Monte Durham and Mary Ellen Rotondo of McEnearney Associates. This incredible home is one of Alexandria’s most exclusive properties! To learn more, connect with Mary Ellen by phone 703-472-5454 or visit FineLivingRE.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 written by Ann McClure of McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria. To learn more about this article and relevant market news, contact Ann at 301-367-5098 or email [email protected]. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

Question: Inspecting? What should I expect?

Answer: Home Inspections. So beneficial — even in a very tight inventory market. I get it, sometimes to get a house a buyer might feel they have to waive the inspection. However, I would encourage this buyer to still do a home inspection, post-closing or at least have some experts out to check major systems (HVAC, roof, chimney, electrical and plumbing). Making the most of this time and these experts is key to successful home ownership.

Buyers, this is your opportunity to learn about your future property — the biggest investment you will likely ever make. Won’t your parents feel better knowing you inspected? All kidding aside, home maintenance is critical to both enjoying where you live and your prospects for resale down the road.

An inspection may also reveal current defects or, at the very least, items needing attention in the future. For instance, did you notice the tell-tale signs of water intrusion along the baseboards in the lower level? Or the mold-like substance on rafters in the attic? Are these signs of a current issue?

Inspectors are great resources for prioritizing projects: Needed updates, ideal upgrades and critical maintenance. Take advantage of their knowledge — learn where to spend money and where you may be able to wait, at least for now. You may even learn of alternate solutions you might not have considered or even known about, otherwise. What? You can open those painted windows with a pizza cutter? And, sealing your air ducts can increase the energy-efficiency of your home by how much? That might really save on your energy bills! You’ll find out, if I install a UV light on the furnace, does it really help with allergies and other bacteria?

Get your questions answered… Why is carrying the water away from the house so important? Why does your gas furnace need a certain amount of air flow around it? Why are the expensive furnace filters maybe sometimes not as good as the cheaper ones?

What if you are buying a new construction property? Many times, I have heard of buyers forgoing inspections on a new home, but experience has taught me, just because a home is new does NOT mean it is defect-free. I once saw an independent inspector find an issue with a gas furnace that both the builder’s inspector and the county inspector missed, that could cause a potentially deadly carbon monoxide issue!

A good home inspection offers a baseline. God forbid you have an insurance claim — at least you would have written documentation of the condition your home was in should you ever have to prove it. Like the Farmers Insurance commercials, but with my twist, “Inspectors, they know a thing or two because they’ve seen a thing or two.”

Let’s play devil’s advocate… Suppose you spend several hundred dollars and have a great home inspection and very few issues are found. No, you didn’t waste your money! Congratulations — you were just validated! You made a sound investment. Isn’t that peace-of-mind worth a few hundred well-spent dollars? Your realtor must have taught you well!

Buying a property “AS IS”? Don’t you still have to know what IS is? Learn about the home and its issues and then decide if you still want to move forward. Perhaps there’s a cracked foundation. Just like leaving spoiled milk in the fridge — it won’t get any better if you just leave it. Depending on how your contract is written, you may be able to void following an inspection, so you don’t have to inherit someone else’s problem.

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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: Should I stay or should I go?

Answer: When the punk rock band The Clash put a song with this title on their 1981 album release, they surely never imagined the classic lyric being used in a Senior Housing context.

Senior Services of Alexandria (SSA) along with the Alexandria Bar Association is proceeding with its annual Senior Law Day — only virtually this year. Instead of the usual half-day program, it will be broken into three virtual panel discussions. The overall theme, “Should I Stay or Should I Go,” addresses housing for older folks, financial concerns around housing and care, and estate planning. Experts from these fields will speak on three successive Fridays beginning September 11.

The first panel will address the big picture of housing, from Aging in Place to Downsizing and Home Modifications to Senior Communities — plus the legal documents that go with such options.

The second panel will address financial concerns such as long-term care, Medicare/Medicaid, what the different housing options may include, as well as tax breaks and funding home modifications.

The third panel will cover Estate Planning, from basic documents, powers of attorney and other “agents,” and the impacts of such documents — or lack thereof.

The first panel on September 11, features Rachel Baer, Esquire, to address legal documents related to housing, Heidi Garvis of Caring Considerations to address the costs of home care vs. community care, and myself — Pete Crouch, Seniors Real Estate Specialist at McEnearney Associates, Inc. to speak to housing options.

As for housing options, there are many, many choices to consider as we age. The first is clearly Aging in Place, which, as the name implies, means staying put in your current housing. It does require, however, making a plan for potentially changing health and financial considerations. Houses, condominiums and apartments can be modified to make them more compatible with such considerations over time, and a well-thought-out plan can make all the difference.

We are also very fortunate in our area to have many options for housing. A large number of older Alexandrians have chosen to move to condos and apartments. The idea is to lessen the maintenance burden of single-family dwellings, provide one-level living, and enhance social interaction, among other benefits. In fact, almost half of the members of our local Senior Village — At Home in Alexandria — have downsized to condominiums and are Aging in Place there.  Again, financial and estate planning considerations can be crucial.

Another option is our local Senior Communities. These range from Independent Living to Assisted Living to Memory Care to Life Plan Communities (also known as CCRC’s — Continuing Care Retirement Communities). Each has its strengths and its appeal.

I encourage you to register for Senior Law Day(s), so you can learn about all of the topics covered in this article and more. Registering once gives you access to all three panel discussions, starting September 11 from 2-3 p.m. Take in your housing education from the safety of your home! Please join us!

Register here for 2020 Senior Law Day.

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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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 buyers use bridge financing to position themselves to purchase a new home without first selling?

Answer: Ask any real estate agent doing business in the D.C. metropolitan area, and they will tell you it is almost impossible to make a competitive offer to purchase a home if you must sell your existing home first. Contract offers contingent upon the sale of an existing home are often dismissed right out of the gate. And why wouldn’t they be?

If a seller has multiple offers to purchase, at or above asking price, and some of the offers are not contingent upon the sale of any other property, the seller would generally not give much — or any — consideration to a contract offer which is contingent. So how do buyers position themselves to purchase without first selling? Bridge financing may be the answer. Many lenders do not provide bridge loans, but some of us do.

Bridge financing is any type of borrowing that allows the purchaser to buy before selling. It could be a home equity line of credit on the existing home, a traditional short-term bridge loan secured by the existing property (or the new property), or temporary loans secured by each property.

It can even be financing provided by Great Uncle Fred. The type of bridge financing sought, to some degree, depends upon the borrower’s needs. The first thing consumers should understand is that while some people qualify for bridge financing, many do not.

Bridge financing is generally needed to provide the cash to meet the down payment and closing cost requirement associated with the purchase of the new home; the remaining financing is provided in the form of a traditional permanent mortgage loan. In some instances, purchasers plan to hold no financing associated with the new home, but the funds which would allow them to pay cash for their new home are tied up as equity in their existing property.

Bridge financing, more often than not, is the means of tapping into the existing property equity to generate the cash needed for the new home. So significant equity in the existing home is the first thing the borrower needs to qualify for a bridge loan. The maximum combined loan-to-value (CLTV) allowed under most institutional bridge loans is between 70% and 80%.

If the existing home has a value of $750,000 and the bridge loan lender will allow a 70% CLTV, the maximum bridge loan would be $525,000. If there is already a mortgage in place on the property, the maximum bridge loan would be the difference between that amount and the $525,000 number. For example, if the existing mortgage had a balance of $300,000, a bridge loan could be obtained in the amount of $225,000. If the purchaser was seeking to buy a new property at a price of $1 million, the bridge loan proceeds would provide the 20% down payment needed with some additional funds left to help cover closing costs.

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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: What happens when your ducks won’t stay in a row?

Answer: Some of us are planners, and some of us are part-time planners and part-time “Winging-it”-ers.

Even planners have been thrown for a loop by 2020. This past spring/summer has made the most organized people I know distracted and upended by events.

The strategic thinkers in the rental world today are a good example. They are the ones looking ahead and getting “their ducks in a row,” for the next stages of life — a different rental or possibly even an eventual purchase. They have tracked and improved their credit scores, made sure to have a good relationship with their landlords, paid rent on time and kept their pets calm and quiet. What could go wrong for them? They have “The Plan.”

Well, how about the recent rain and wind storms? Flooding in their apartment three times in the last three weeks made M & C’s* apartment uninhabitable and they had to move immediately. Landlord relationship intact? You bet, he even put them up in another property he owned and let them out of the existing lease. With the immediate help of a realtor, a great new place was found, though there was competition for the property.

The flood meant they could take the lease in days, not weeks, so they prevailed, but couldn’t get a mover — during these COVID-19 times, end of the month and packed schedules meant all hands on deck. We had everyone calling everywhere and, at last, found a small company suggested by a big company willing to work on their normally off day of Sunday.

Not so lucky were R & T*, who learned they really did not know each other well. He had stellar credit and was proud of it, but learned that she, shall we say, had a rocky financial profile. True love was being tested when they applied for their rental and they were turned down by the owners based upon her very poor credit.

Those owners were worried about getting into “issues” with non-payment down the line. Lesson learned, R & T changed course and leased a smaller place using only his income and started working to raise her scores. A larger place will have to wait, but, by then, they may be able to purchase because a great loan is based on high scores for both buyers.

Meanwhile, recently recorded leaps of faith — two families rented big townhouse listings in Old Town and Arlington, sight unseen, except for FaceTime. Walking around with my iPhone and relying on professional online photos, these normally cautious people connected from California, went way outside their comfort zones and leased them using our online application system. Whew, luckily, they were delighted when they showed up with their moving trucks.

Finally and briefly, cash-strapped but gainfully-employed potential tenants, held significant, though low-paying jobs, turned down twice for not meeting the magical criteria for a rental, they were stressed. Doing noble work wasn’t enough to get them over the goal line, but they called and we started brainstorming. Lo and behold, they shared that their $35,000 savings account had never noted and was calmly sitting there. It made a huge difference in our try with their next application.

Again, lesson learned, remember to note proven savings in accounts, retirement plans, etc. so the processor or owner can see the whole picture. (Or put that “duck” on the menu!)

Alternatively, as Herman Wouk reminded us in The Caine Mutiny — “When in danger, when in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout!” (Though that won’t get you anywhere, Karen.)

Ann Duff — Your positive advantage for Residential and Commercial properties throughout the area. Experience and Energy, Negotiations and Knowledge — All with a splash of fun! Let’s Get Busy!

*Note: Names have been changed.

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 Ann McClure of McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria. To learn more about this article and relevant market news, contact Ann at 301-367-5098 or email [email protected]. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

Question: How do I get rid of a backyard swamp?

Answer: We’ve all heard that Washington, D.C. was built on a swamp. And, unless you live under a rock (maybe one that’s been exposed by erosion), you’ve heard that a certain someone was going to “drain the swamp.” But, what do you do when your swampy backyard really needs draining? If backyard mosquito breeding grounds aren’t your thing and worrying about your foundation has been added to the current list of woes (along with what to do with the kids this school year and how to carve out home office space in search of a peaceful existence), maybe I can help.

I want your biggest investment to remain sound and ensure that, unless it’s coming through a faucet, water does not get into your home. Property maintenance goes beyond appearances and a long way toward maintaining your home’s value.

Recently, I’ve been hearing of flooding backyards, and worse, water intruding into homes. That tends to happen this time of year when we get quick-moving storms that dump lots of water in a very short period of time. That water needs dirt and ground to absorb it and if there isn’t any, it becomes an invader. Think about how much blacktop we have in the Metro region.

In fact, I read somewhere, that one of the worst polluters of the Chesapeake Bay is Tysons Corner because of all of the impervious surfaces (pavement, garages, parking lots, etc.). So, how do you know if you have a problem and what can you do if you are experiencing issues?

Look for tell-tale signs of poor drainage around your home: standing water, dreaded mosquitos, erosion, exposed surface roots from trees or maybe roots pushing up driveways, walkways and foundations, surface depressions, an inability to grow grass, a change in water patterns during heavy storms (has your neighbor’s property changed?), rotting wood, or water stains on baseboards.

Don’t let these issues go unchecked. Something must be done to improve the situation before there is foundation damage, water in the home or a myriad of related issues, such as drywall or flooring needing to be replaced, mold, mildew, funky smells, etc.

I recently asked a home inspector what is the biggest issue he sees related to poor drainage. He replied, without hesitation, that the number one issue is a foundation problem. Foundation problems can be VERY expensive, think tens of thousands of dollars.

Finding the cause of the drainage problem will often lead to a fix that is quite simple.

  • Are gutters and downspouts secure and free of debris? They should evacuate water easily. Blast a drain with a pressure-washer (carefully), or as my Dad used to use, a high-powered leaf blower.
  • Is water directed away from the house? Downspout extenders may be needed.
  • How is grading? Does it slope away from the house?
  • Are any water management systems, like a French drain, inoperable or perhaps failing? Are discharge/evacuation points clear?
  • Is water run-off coming from unexpected/unnoticed areas?

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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: Coronavirus took my job. Can I turn what I know into a career in real estate?

Answer: The Coronavirus pandemic has led to many professionals unexpectedly reevaluating their current career paths. Jobs in the hospitality, travel, retail and education industries are in peril as unemployment reaches double-digit figures due to containment measures that have restructured so much of our lives.

Real estate offers an attractive option for those with excellent customer service, managerial, education and sales skills as these are the building blocks to becoming a successful agent. If your current industry is undergoing upheaval, here are ways to translate what you do well to cultivating clients and becoming a trusted advisor in real estate.

Hospitality: Working with the public has taught you how to listen to guests and anticipate their needs. You’re a multitasker who knows how to prioritize your day and adjust as needed when confronted with a challenge — or an opportunity. You have an attention to detail that ensures nothing is left to chance for the maximum enjoyment of your guest. You know that you will only get the job done well with the assistance of others and collaborate easily.

You are comfortable assisting a wide range of guests with diverse backgrounds and needs and thrive on the unpredictable nature of working with new people. The opportunity to learn something new every day keeps you going and ensures your guests recall it was you who helped create that memorable stay, meal, or event that they will never forget.

Travel: Logistics and deadlines are your native language! You are a planner who does your research based on the dreams, aspirations and experience of your clients. You are managing many moving pieces at once and know that your carefully crafted plan can be upended with one missed connection, so you’re prepared to assist at a moment’s notice and are ready with back-up plans.

Clients appreciate your clear communication skills and will return to your company year after year and refer others to you because you gave them an experience they will remember forever. (Being paid on a commission basis doesn’t scare you and you know what it’s like to do the work upfront without payment. You know how to have conversations about commission because you know how much value your services bring.)

Retail: There are a lot of people who claim to be great salespeople, but you have what it takes to make great deals come together. You are a natural connector because you are naturally curious about others. You ask questions, probe deeper, listen for what is not being said, ask more questions, offer alternatives and help your client narrow their choices. You know how to apply your professional knowledge and not your personal opinion when a client asks, “What do you think?”

You guide your clients through the decision-making process so that they feel empowered in their choices and not stuck in “analysis paralysis.” As a manager, you know how to create a team that maximizes the strength of all its members and increases the bottom line. You earn the trust and repeat business of your clients and the loyalty and respect of your colleagues because you listened, cared and delivered exactly what they needed.

Education: It’s not easy to take something complex and make it understandable to everyone, but you do it with ease. You are patient and can adapt your lessons to the level of the student you are working with. You have excellent leadership skills and can command the attention of even the most distracted minds. You are organized and have a plan that works, but you also know how to adapt it as new tools and information become available. You are also creative, finding new ways to solve problems and bring fun into what can be an unfamiliar and unnerving process.

Most importantly, you are empathetic and don’t take it personally when someone gets frustrated that things aren’t going the way they expected. As a result, you’ve got a wide network of people who trust you and count you as one of the most important people in their lives.

There are many paths to becoming a realtor and every agent started with their own unique story about what led them to real estate. What’s your story? Visit www.joinmcenearney.com and then call me at 703-615-0876 to see how McEnearney Associates can help you write the next chapter.

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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