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This week’s Q&A column is sponsored and written by Hope Peele of The Peele Group and McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria. To learn more about this article and relevant Alexandria market news, contact The Peele Group at 703-244-6115 or email [email protected]. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

Question: Interest rates are rising! What does that mean to you as a buyer or a seller?

Answer: Mortgage interest rates have already jumped significantly in the last month or two, leaving both sellers and buyers to speculate what this could mean to them. Buyers are wondering if it’s even worth it to still try to buy a home when their buying power has diminished. Sellers are wondering whether they missed that sweet spot for listing, since many buyers may be getting discouraged, or not even qualify any longer, due to higher interest rates.

The rate on a 30-year mortgage changed by 0.29%, just in the last week, according to CNET.

By all accounts, it will continue to be a sellers’ market in Northern Virginia and beyond. While many buyers are giving up and renting for another year, there is still a huge demand for housing — and very short supply. If you are thinking about selling your home, rest assured, there will be buyers.

However, despite the strong demand, sellers benefit immensely by preparing their home properly as I discussed here last month. Even in a sellers’ market, fresh paint, the condition of floors, the degree of updating and all the regular visible maintenance will affect how many buyers want the property and the sales price. The key will be in deciding which improvements will do the most to increase your return on investment and assure a speedy sale. An experienced Realtor will help you make the right decisions so that you don’t waste money on updates that won’t make much difference in sales price or buyer appeal.

If you are trying to buy a home, don’t be discouraged! Buying a home is ALL about preparation, especially in a market like this. The best way to be fully prepared is to have an “ace team” to guide you through the process. Every team needs a leader, and that should be an excellent Realtor. They will help you plan your strategy, and can introduce you to the best lenders, home inspectors, and vendors. Your Realtor will be there with you from start to finish, helping to keep everyone focused on achieving your goals.

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This week’s Q&A column is written by David Howell, Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer, of McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria. To learn more about this article and relevant market news, contact David at 703-738-9513 or email [email protected]. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

Question: How was the first quarter 2022 real estate market in the City of Alexandria?

Answer: Each quarter we take an in-depth look at contract activity in the City of Alexandria compared to the same quarter of the previous year. To put contract activity into context for the first quarter of 2022, we need to take a look at inventory. The lack of inventory is both consistent and persistent, and it is the reality that dominates that market.

For example, there were 30.2% fewer homes on the market in the City of Alexandria at the end of this March compared to last March. The paltry inventory is driving buyers (and their agents!) nuts.

The charts below break down 1st quarter contract activity for 2021 and 2022 by price and by property type. Alexandria has seen decreases across all property types, and the only price category with an increase was for homes priced more than $1.5 million.

  • Overall contract activity in the City of Alexandria decreased 8.9% in the 1st quarter of 2022 compared to the 1st quarter of 2021.
  • The number of detached homes, the smallest part of the City of Alexandria market, going under contract in the 1st quarter of 2022 decreased 24.8% compared to 2021.
  • Contract activity in the condo market decreased 5.5% and attached homes activity decreased 4.4%.

As we head into the spring market there is less than a half month’s supply of homes on the market in the City of Alexandria, and that bodes well for sellers. Opportunities for buyers will be out there, but success will require patience, preparation and persistence.

Note: Data derived from BrightMLS and is deemed reliable, but not guaranteed.

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 Darlene Duffett of McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria. To learn more about this article and relevant Alexandria market news, contact Darlene at 703-969-9015 or email [email protected]. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

Question: Real estate jargon. Just what are you talking about?

Answer: Real estate agents use a lot of industry specific lingo. To the new home buyer, it may sound like we’re speaking a different language. It’s not unusual to have a client say, “what does that mean?”

I get it. If I was in your office, I probably wouldn’t have any idea what you were talking about either. A part of my job as a real estate agent is to make sure you understand all the vocabulary. If you are venturing into the home buying or selling process here are a few terms and acronyms that are helpful to know.

CMA: Comparative Market Analysis

We create a CMA by looking at recently sold properties and properties that are currently under contract which resemble the home you want to sell or buy. Similarity is key. We look at properties that are in the same or comparable neighborhood, have approximately the same square footage, number of beds and baths, and are in the same condition.

Contingency

A contingency imposes a condition or action of the transaction that must be met. Typical contingencies include financing, appraisal, home sale and home condition inspection. Each has a completion timeframe. In the current market, buyers are attempting to have as few contingencies as possible in order to have a more favorable offer.

EMD: Earnest Money Deposit

An earnest money deposit (EMD) is a deposit made by a buyer to an intermediary, typically the settlement company, to show his or her seriousness to follow through with the transaction. It represents the buyer’s good faith to purchase a home. The money sits in an escrow account until closing. At that time the money is applied to the buyer’s down payment and closing costs.

Escalation

An escalation addendum is added to a residential sales contract to automatically increase the offer price by a specific amount over a competing offer until it reaches the maximum price that the buyer is willing to pay for the property. This is only triggered if the seller receives other bona fide offers to purchase the property with terms acceptable to the seller. It can be a useful tool in this market.

MLS: Multiple Listing Service

An MLS is an organization that creates a private database to collect and distribute information about homes listed for sale by its members. Membership is not open to the public but is open to real estate brokers and agents who pay a fee for the service. Each MLS is local or regional. As of the publishing of this article, there is not an MLS that covers the entire country.

Pre-Offer Inspection or “Walk and Talk”

This refers to a modified inspection with the buyer as the note taker. It takes about an hour and can cost from $250 to $600 depending on the property. Doing a pre-offer “walk and talk” can help to avoid having a home inspection contingency. This makes the offer more favorable and will let you know of any issues with the home.

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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: Now that the spring flowers are blooming, I am excited about freshening up my house. Do you have any suggestions that will make a big impact, but not break the bank?

Answer: Thank you for asking! I just refreshed my own home over the past year and am thrilled with the outcome! I am happy to share my examples and to make a few more suggestions.

Time To Go

If you are like me, you probably have furniture and accessories that you acquired from relatives, or your tastes have changed over the years and your favorite coffee table just doesn’t work anymore. I loved my purple leather sectional and had a hard time saying “goodbye”, but when my movers tossed it off the deck, I was even more excited about the new streamlined mid-century style sofa that I had on order.

Walk through your house and put blue tape on pieces that you could do without. You never know if your family members or friends will consider them a treasure.

Check out options for selling, auctioning, or consigning your nicer items. Think about the various non-profits in Alexandria that could use furniture for families moving into their first home, or thrift stores that donate the proceeds of a sale to deserving organizations. Donate or toss the rest.

Fix It

Does your tub need caulking? Hate those old lighting fixtures or recessed lights? Have you always wanted hardwood floors throughout the house? Does your deck need to be refinished? Make a list and give it to your contractor, handyman, or skilled family member to get it done.

In my case… I had the carpet ripped out of my top two floors and installed hardwood. Then my “floor guy” refinished all four levels for a gorgeous new look! My electrician replaced and added new LED recessed lights, a contemporary chandelier in the dining room and pendants in the kitchen. I was tired of the builder grade mirrors in my bathrooms and the hollow doors throughout the house.

I love my new lights and doors!

A new color palette and updated lighting can make your art really pop!

Paint It

Paint is the least expensive, most impactful and difficult decision to make for your refresh. I had an interior designer help me with my colors almost 24 years ago, and as much as I still liked them, I wanted a change! I discovered an expert who worked with me to create my new palette and I couldn’t be happier. The colors flow beautifully from room to room and have set a whole new stage for my update.

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This week’s Q&A column is written by Rebecca McCullough of McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria. To learn more about this article and relevant Alexandria market news, contact Rebecca at 571-384-0941 or email [email protected]. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

Question: Love It or List It?

Answer: Whether or not you’ve seen the TV show, the “LOVE IT OR LIST IT?” question is one familiar to many. Once upon a time, that question was somewhat straightforward, but now with many supply chain constraints and limited housing inventory, it’s more complicated. Let’s break down the two options.

LOVE IT

What if you love your house, your neighborhood, your commute, but have outgrown the space? Perhaps there aren’t enough bedrooms, you need more home office space, or the kitchen is smaller than you would like. If you “LOVE IT,” you might consider a renovation instead of a move. So, how to evaluate…?

Part of the decision will depend on liquidity. Let’s say you have equity in your house, but no cash on hand. With interest rates low, refinancing could be a great way to access funds for the remodel. You can leverage your equity and renovate your home so that you can live in it for next 30 years. If you can afford the increased mortgage payments, this is a viable option to consider.

To do it right, I highly recommend hiring an architect. Depending on how expensive a renovation you’re considering, an architect’s fees could run $10,000-$15,000 or more. It’s not always necessary, but if you’re doing any sort of an addition or significant room change(s), plans will be required for the necessary permitting. Also, an architect can help you find the optimal use of space and can create more value than you might create with your own design… it’s what they do!

I can draw on recent experience to share an example of the process. We recently hired an architect for a relatively simple 20′ x 19′ family room addition. We started the process in November 2020 and received the necessary approvals one year later in November 2021. It does not take anywhere near that long for most people, but we are in a Protected Resource Area (RPA) and have a flood plain easement as well as a sewer easement running through our yard.

In addition to support from our architect and contractor, we also had to hire lawyers to attain a Deed of Vacation of Easement. It was definitely more involved, and more costly than we had anticipated, but we went through with it in order to build out.

After 12 months of effort and finally getting the permit approved, we thought we had gotten through the hard part. We were wrong. In the same month (November 2021), we ordered our windows and doors for the addition. We knew supply chain issues were creating delays, and anticipated a 3-4 month lead time, and so we expected the windows to arrive late February 2022. Wrong again.

In the first week of March, we learned that the revised arrival date for the windows would be… December. That’s right, December 2022, 13 months after we approved the order. In this case, shortage in aluminum was impacting lead times, and our supplier punted many smaller contracts to the end of the year to fulfill larger dollar orders. You can read more about that here if of interest.

So here we are present day: our addition is framed on newly poured concrete, with Tyvek construction wrap flapping in the wind for the foreseeable future. (We are currently working on alternate solutions — I’ll keep you posted!)

Our case is unique, but not entirely uncommon. Supply chain issues are thwarting many a remodeler. It’s not uncommon to hear delays for appliances of many months, if not a year. You may already be aware of the rollercoaster of lumber prices. Contractors everywhere are advising of increased prices looming. And that’s not to mention labor constraints! Contractors are struggling to find skilled, reliable workers, and this, too, is slowing the renovation process down.

So where does that leave us in our evaluation? It’s hard to truly understand what your fixed price for a renovation will be when you start. Smart builders always suggest you add at least 10% for overages, but presently, I suggest a little more.

So maybe it’s better to LIST IT?

This takes patience as well but selling the home shouldn’t be the challenge. With extremely tight inventory and many buyers, a home that shows well and is priced right should fly off the market, maybe even garnering multiple offers. However, if you’re staying in the market, that of course leads you to needing to find a home to buy.

There are countless articles about the challenges of buying in today’s market: Multiple offers, waiving contingencies, offers being accepted sight unseen, cash with the ability to close in a week… I’ve written about it recently myself! Without repeating that analysis, I’ll simply reiterate that we don’t see the market slowing any time soon.

LOVE IT OR LIST IT?

Well, as you can see, it depends on where you want to spend your energy, your money and your time. In my experience, if the question is on your mind, it’s worth sitting down with a knowledgeable real estate agent and an experienced contractor to weigh your options and determine what’s right for you.

Rebecca McCullough has built a successful real estate business in Alexandria and Northern Virginia by providing excellent service to her clients. If you would like more information on selling or buying in today’s complex market, contact Rebecca today at 571-384-0941 or visit her website RebeccaMcCullough.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 Hope Peele of The Peele Group and McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria. To learn more about this article and relevant Alexandria market news, contact The Peele Group at 703-244-6115 or email [email protected].You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

Question: In this “seller’s market” do I even need to…Paint my house? Replace the carpet? Fix the wood rot? Remodel the kitchen? Do anything??

Answer: The short answer is — Yes! However, it’s complicated, so the BIG question is — How much money do you want to make?

First, let’s talk about paint. The main reason to paint is to welcome the buyers into your home and create an impression of a well-cared for home that is light, bright and move-in ready.

I would say that this is the number one thing to do when putting your home on the market. It’s also easy and relatively inexpensive. With the right painter, you can get it done while still living in the home, with minimum disruption, and it will make a huge difference in how buyers will respond to your home. So yes, please do paint your home — both inside and out — where needed.

Do I need new carpet? Can’t we just shampoo it? 

From a buyers’ perspective old, worn, or stained carpet is a big no-no. The floors are one of the first things that a buyer notices when visiting your home.

Nobody wants to move in and start placing their own furniture in a home where the carpet needs replacing, or even cleaning. And when they think of what it may cost them to do it, it’s always double what it really costs — not an expense that they want to have after spending so much to buy the home. So yes, you should definitely think about replacing all of the older carpet before going on the market.

What about little spots of wood rot around the exterior of the home?

You definitely want to make a great first impression, so we always suggest you make sure that the front door and front trim look great. Any wood rot or deterioration on the rest of the home may go unnoticed… but, if your buyer does a home inspection, any good inspector will tell a buyer that wood rot equals water intrusion and it should be fixed. This one could be a “maybe” on the list of what to do to get ready to sell your home. However, I think it’s worth doing and shows that your home has been well-cared for.

Should I remodel my kitchen?

Kitchens are important, but a full remodel will be expensive and may not necessarily bring the immediate return that you are looking for. We suggest that the cabinets look good, and you may be able to accomplish that just by painting them!

If your appliances are older, it’s also worth replacing those that need it. Lastly, consider replacing your countertops if they are dated or dark. It’s probably not as expensive as you may think. Kitchens are big on the list of what buyers care about, and usually one of the first photos they look for.

The most important thing to do when selling your home is to make it appealing to the most buyers, and to eliminate as many “objections” as possible. Objections are things that a buyer perceives as issues or problems that will need to be addressed before they can call a home “their home”.

The longer their list of issues, the less likely they are to buy the home. As they add these things up in their head, they will definitely over-calculate the cost, and start thinking about what a pain it will be. Then they will either talk themselves out of making an offer or, if they do make an offer, they will lower the amount that they are willing to pay.

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This week’s Q&A column is written by Sallie Seiy of McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria. To learn more about this article and relevant Alexandria market news, contact Sallie at 703-798-4666 or email [email protected]. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

Question: What is all this talk about waiving contingencies? It seems unfair.

Answer: If you’re a buyer now, or will be in the near future, you may be asking yourself, “do I really have to risk so much to win a home?” I challenge you instead think of it this way, “what strategies can I implement to reduce risk and position myself to win a home?” In our market of multiple offers, escalated costs, and the practice of waiving “everything,” it can feel like you, the buyer, are taking all the risk. However, the risk to you can shrink if you come in with a good, solid strategy.

Here are two contingencies that you can discuss with your Realtor about waiving and how best to flip the script on their risks.

Home Inspection Contingency

Writing an offer on a home is an exciting time, but the responsibilities of homeownership are real. As a potential new homeowner, it’s always important to know what you’re getting into when purchasing a new, unfamiliar home. There are ways to check on the health of the home on a regular tour, but an inspection will peel back certain layers that you can’t see or would otherwise miss.

Inspectors are the professionals and I liken them to the medical field. Home inspectors are like your generalist. They have mass amounts of knowledge about homes, can point out any red flags, and connect you to specialists to further diagnose any potential issues.

However, the market can be very competitive, so you’ll want to put your best foot forward on your offer. One way could be waiving a home inspection. Yet, that can feel uneasy to a lot of buyers. To eliminate this fear of the unknown, you can request to do a pre-offer inspection. This means having a home inspector out to the property prior to submitting your offer. A pre-offer inspection is usually no more than an hour and is performed between the time the home is active until the offer deadline, if there is one. While you do pay for this inspection prior to even writing your offer, like an ante in a poker game, it can save you so much money and headache down the road.

Your inspector won’t be able to check every window or every electrical socket. This pre-offer inspection is intended to focus on the high value items in a property: HVAC system, roof, electrical and structural, to name a few. Knowing the health of the most expensive parts of a home can help you make a more informed and confident decision about moving forward (or bailing) on your offer.

Appraisal Contingency

First off, we should define what an appraisal is in a real estate transaction. An appraisal is an unbiased, third-party opinion of value for a particular property and is performed by a licensed professional. An appraisal is always needed whenever a mortgage is involved in the transaction.

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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: Do I need to renovate in order to sell?

Answer: Home Sellers are bombarded these days with offers to buy their homes, ways to renovate to get the highest offer, and how to obtain the absolute highest price. It can be confusing, even paralyzing — the answer is a resounding “it depends.”

As in most elements of life, there is a spectrum of possibilities here. Essentially there are three ways to sell a home — it doesn’t have to be perfect.

“As-is, where-is.” This is often when a property has not had many updates or upgrades along the way, and now there is a need to sell. There may not be the funds or desire to undertake any work, and a sense of just wanting to be done with it. This is what the folks sending the postcards are looking for — to purchase a property well under market and “flip” it. They will even take care of contents left behind.

As you would expect, this produces the lowest monetary result for the Sellers. Many of these Buyers are looking to purchase that property for 50-60% of “ARV” — After Renovated Value. Rarely a good deal for the Seller.

Fully Renovated at Top Market Condition. At the other end of the spectrum, the houses which receive the highest prices are the ones fully updated, with all the new and modern features that appeal to today’s Buyers. They are often exquisitely staged, and clearly at the top of their game.

It is one thing, however, to have continually updated one’s property and arrived at this top condition just as it is time to sell. It is another to think of enduring a big remodel just to sell: braving potentially lengthy disruptions, risking supply chain issues, and spending tens of thousands of dollars? Is it worth it? Maybe. Maybe not.

Today there are options to have the renovation work completed by companies who specialize in quick turn-around renovations just before a sale. Some will even front the cost and are paid when the house sells/settles. The McEnearney Advantage features a partnership with such a company, Curbio, and that type of renovation can absolutely be accomplished for a Seller. It works best when the house is empty, but it can also be done around residents. We are happy to help obtain estimates to see if it is right for you. Often, when the dust settles, you can reap very nice returns on the time and money spent. If it is the right approach for you.

In the middle of the spectrum: Clean, Fresh, Nothing Broken. In this approach, a home is decluttered or emptied (depending on whether it is occupied or not), then cleaned, painted, the flooring replaced/refinished, and any items fixed that are worn out or broken.

In many cases, the cost can be fronted and paid at settlement. This not only keeps the preparation time and cost down, it allows the Buyers to put some of their own personal touches into the house after settlement. This approach, in this market, usually yields a price a little below Fully Renovated.

In reality, most houses are prepared for market at a level somewhere between Clean, Fresh, Nothing Broken, and Fully Renovated. Perhaps a powder room near the entrance foyer gets a new pedestal sink, faucet, light and mirror. Or new light fixtures in the kitchen or primary bath. Or new appliances. These relatively minor items can be among the most cost-effective a Seller can undertake.

At McEnearney Associates we believe that preparation for the market, to the extent that works best for our clients, is one of the great values we add. And no, it doesn’t have to be perfect.

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 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: How do I avoid being a juicy chapter in a real estate tell-all book?

Answer: Realtors don’t judge, but we have seen everything… and we could write a book! Don’t become a juicy chapter! 

Tell-all books continue to be the rage, but the story you want to tell about the home you are going to sell or lease should be happy, not scandalous. Buyers or potential lessees should be delighted to see the space you are offering, not bombarded with unexpected situations.

Just this week I visited a lovely home to prep it for a spring sale. It offered an up-close look at the lingering impact of COVID Confinement. At the moment, this house takes real imagination to picture former bedrooms in their original state, littered as they are with ring lights, files, PCs, office chairs and files.

Unwanted surprises can be the simple crunching of a Lego piece or ink pen under a boot, or shocking eyeballs out of their sockets with inappropriate “artwork” of unclothed subjects, animals mounted on the wall and framed political revolution flyers.

You would think that owners would put prescription drugs away, stash the cash and watches, and hide their private correspondence, Social Security numbers and password lists.  Unfortunately, in many cases you’d be wrong. Also, often in plain view are too many personal photos, knickknacks and geegaws distracting the visitors.

And, if not just distracting, you can unintentionally create worries. Obviously broken items, all-too-fresh paint, and sticky notes claiming “as-is,” “plumber coming back,” “mold test underway,” or “pardon the mouse traps” can raise concerns about the level of maintenance the house has received during your ownership. Reading any detailed brochure copy will be helpful, but a now-startled buyer may offer thousands of dollars less than originally considered or simply walk away.

Corral the pets, too, because hyper-amorous dogs or slinky cats in need of attention can literally trip up buyers or tenants. If you leave the house, take the four-legged ones along. Slow-moving tortoises in a glass terrarium are just fine, but keep the other animal life out of the tour. Even a screeching macaw makes just too much noise and suddenly the rooms feel small, I know from experience.

Under construction? Just removed those steps to the basement? Forgot to put up yellow CAUTION tape? A dear real estate friend took a step through an unmarked doorway and broke both her arms when she suddenly landed on the basement floor below.

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Ask McEnearney: How will I know?

This week’s Q&A column is sponsored and written by Hope Peele of The Peele Group and McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria. To learn more about this article and relevant Alexandria market news, contact The Peele Group at 703-244-6115 or email [email protected].You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

Question: How will I know?

Answer: When searching for “the one”, so many have the same question. To quote the late, great Whitney Houston — “How will I know?”

In fact, buying a home is a lot like falling in love and can sometimes last a lot longer!

You will also find that friends and family may want to weigh in. Sometimes their advice can be helpful, but sometimes not. Just because they think you absolutely must live inside the beltway, or should have a big yard, doesn’t mean it’s so. So, how do you filter out the good intentions and find the right home for you?

Trust your gut: Just like when you meet someone new, if something feels fishy it probably is. Unlike dating, it isn’t rude to ask invasive questions! Don’t be afraid to ask. If someone does not want to answer your questions, that could be a bad sign. Maybe it’s just a sign of a noncommunicative agent, but it shouldn’t be difficult for you to find out ages of systems, roof, etc.

Take opinions with a grain of salt: Of course, you have an inner circle who you share everything with and their opinions can be crucial. But take their advice with a grain of salt. They won’t have to live with your decision in the same way that you will. If something feels off, listen to that feeling. Sometimes your loved ones won’t see the diamond in the rough the same way that you can, so take that with a grain of salt as well.

Beware of catfish! Pictures online can only show so much. We all know how photos can be edited these days, and so much can be added or subtracted. Blemishes and scars may be things that you can forgive a partner for covering up, but you usually need to know the story if there are issues in the home.

Outside beauty is not necessarily reflective of inner beauty! Shiny and new can hide a ton of flaws. Even if the pictures very accurately depict how gorgeous a home is, there is due diligence to ensure that the inner beauty is there as well. Just like people, there are ways that we can discover the inner beauty of a home. You just have to know how to look.

Don’t force it: There are plenty of fish in the sea! Of course, especially in this market, searching for a home can feel just as hopeless as finding a nice, single partner in the D.C. area. Sometimes it can take a while. However, the one IS out there! Like every relationship, you will likely need to make just a few compromises, but if it’s true love it won’t feel difficult to know which compromises to make.

Reality TV is the thief of joy: Ok, I know that old adage is “Comparison is the thief of joy,” but let’s be frank here. House hunting on TV is realistic in the same way that The Bachelor is realistic. Of course, being in it for the right reasons is important, but that’s about where the similarities end. You can get cute ideas for a date night or a new backsplash on shows, but don’t get carried away thinking that their journey is real.

It’s your journey! And every journey is different. Your Realtor is key in making your dream a reality. They will help you to decide if what seems too good to be true, is actually the right home for you. Your Realtor is your closest adviser, and will help to protect you from heartbreak, so that love becomes real!

Home is where the heart is! Happy Valentine’s Day!

Hope Peele is a licensed real estate agent with McEnearney Associates, Inc. in Alexandria, Virginia. She grew up in Old Town and currently lives in Del Ray. As a partner with The Peele Group, Hope is dedicated to guiding her clients successfully through the many faceted process of buying or selling a home. Contact Hope at 703-244-6115.

If you would like a question answered in our weekly column or to set up an appointment with one of our Associates, please email: [email protected] or call 703-549-9292.

McEnearney Associates Realtors®, 109 S. Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. www.McEnearney.com Equal Housing Opportunity. #WeAreAlexandria

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