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 703-244-5852 or email [email protected]. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

Question: Should I move before putting my home on the market?

Answer: This question comes up very frequently. Even in a hot “seller’s market,” like the one we are in now, sellers still want to put their best foot forward to ensure that their home will receive the best offer. Like most real estate decisions, it really depends on what works for each individual. Here are a few things to consider with your Realtor when you are deciding on your moving timeline.

First, do you have somewhere else to go?

Most sellers don’t have a new home yet when they decide to sell. In a seller’s market, many sellers choose to sell FIRST, then find a new home. Unless you are in the rare position of owning multiple homes, it’s typical to not have a place to move into quite yet. Many sellers prefer to have the sale on their home agreed upon before looking for a new home to move into.

Once there is a contract on your home for sale, it puts you in a much more competitive and financially stable position for your future purchase. Sellers can even negotiate a rent-back period with the buyers, allowing them to stay in their home past settlement while they find that next new home. Rent-back periods can be for a week or even up to 60 days after settlement. This is a great option to allow a seller the time they need to identify a new home and move.

Another consideration: Do you have a place for your things to go?

If you are downsizing, you can begin to pare down belongings and make space in your home long before the sale process. While it’s great to be that organized, most sellers are on a much shorter timeline. Did you know your Realtor can help by providing names of trusted vendors to provide an array of services that include packing, hauling, off-site estate sale services and more?

Not everyone is downsizing. Many people move because they need more space — maybe you need a new home office or an extra bedroom. Maybe you’re not planning on getting rid of a lot or anything at all. When this is the case, is it even possible to live in a home that’s on the market? Of course it is.

Whatever your situation is, I strongly advise leaning heavily on your Realtor. My team brings in a stager to work with sellers, whether they are living in their home or selling it vacant. A lot of people don’t know this, but stagers will work with what you ALREADY have! Sometimes it’s as simple as rearranging a few armchairs, replacing a painting with a mirror or clearing counters. Regardless of how they do it, your Realtor should be able to walk you through how to live in your home — without looking like you actually live in it!

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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: How do I begin to understand buying or selling a home?

Answer: Build your real estate dictionary.

Real estate is a fast-moving world. Decisions are usually made very quickly with real estate lingo thrown at you all day long. There are a lot of uncommon phrases, terms and conditions in real estate contracts. I wanted to share some frequently used real estate terms that you may not understand, but ones you’ll certainly encounter in your transaction.

MLS: Multiple Listing Service

This is the database where licensed real estate agents post listings for sale or rent. It’s accessible only through a licensed real estate professional. While you can see homes all over the internet, the MLS facilitates cooperation and compensation between brokerages. More simply, the National Association of Realtors explains: “Sellers benefit by increased exposure to their property. Buyers benefit because they can obtain information about all MLS-listed properties while working with only one broker.”

“Comps” or CMA: Competitive Market Analysis

When buying or selling, it’s important to know what other similar properties have recently sold for in your surrounding area. Preparing a CMA takes a lot of research and attention to detail. It helps sellers know how to price their home and, conversely, it helps buyers understand what they should offer for a home.

EMD: Earnest Money Deposit

I tell clients it’s like your down payment to your down payment. It’s also deemed a “good faith deposit,” showing the seller you’re serious about purchasing their property. Generally, this amount is about 1-2% of the purchase price. With the competitive market we’re living in today, this number can actually be more in the 5%+ range. Once under contract, this amount gets wired or dropped off via check to the settlement company. It will sit in the settlement company’s escrow account until settlement. At settlement, it gets deducted from the amount you owe at the table [(down payment + closing costs) – EMD].

While the EMD is money that you’re pre-paying towards the overall purchase, it’s also money that you could potentially lose in the event of a default. Per page 9 of the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors (NVAR) contract, “If Buyer fails to complete Settlement for any reason other than Default by Seller, Buyer shall be in Default and, at the option of Seller, Deposit may be forfeited to Seller as liquidated damages and not as a penalty.”

Date of Ratification

No matter if the offer was accepted right away or if it took a couple of counteroffers, the date of ratification is when both buyer and seller have signed the offer thus making it a binding contract. When you read the contract, you’ll see a lot of references to this date.

The primary use of the term comes in the form of deadlines. For example, if you have a five-day home inspection period, that five-day countdown starts the day after ratification. If date of ratification is a Monday, the five-day inspection period starts on Tuesday (Day 1) and ends on Saturday (Day 5) at 9 p.m. It’s so important to know when the contract was ratified for counting purposes. Otherwise, all the other contingency deadlines can be invalid because you started from the incorrect date!

Absorption Rate

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This week’s Q&A column is sponsored and written by Susan Craft of McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria. To learn more about this article and relevant Alexandria market news, contact Susan Craft at 703.216.4501 or email [email protected]. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

Question: I’m moving into a new home. How do I decorate the space?

Answer: Determine the purpose and vibe!

First of all, congratulations on your new home. Now, think about the purpose of each room and the vibe you want to feel. Build your décor much like an artist paints a masterpiece — start with a blank canvas. Are there fabulous features to highlight, architectural interests, original heart of pine floors, interior brick walls, vintage details or extra high ceilings?

Pick a color palette. You know what speaks to you — it’s what stops you while paging through a magazine or scrolling through Instagram. If you’re not sure what color palette you like, here’s a hint: look inside your clothes closet. What colors are you drawn to? Then, don’t think match. Instead, think blend, layer and coordinate. A recent buyer client who purchased a new home told me she never met a shade of blue she didn’t like. We are kindred spirits!

David E Gordon Tuscany Row, 2005

On the blank canvas, start with the walls, ceiling and the fifth wall: the floor. If you go with a light neutral paint or wallpaper (yes, wallpaper has made a comeback), consider painting the ceiling the same color as the walls. Then the fifth wall can add some drama (in a good way) with original heart of pine floors, teak parquet floors, hardwood planks installed in a herringbone pattern or tile that looks like wood. Then, dress them up a bit with area rugs. Vary the shapes and sizes while keeping to the same color palette.

Before adding furniture, consider adorning the walls with art because that will dictate the furniture you buy. Whether your style is more Jackson Pollock (26A Black & White, 1948) or David E Gordon (Tuscany Row, 2005), establish the vibe and let the furniture take a back seat (couldn’t resist) so you don’t detract from the art.

Jackson Pollock 26A Black & White, 1948

Less is more. (Thank you, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.) For your investment in furniture,  consider neutral earth tone colors like white, ivory, gray, black, tan and olive. Then, accent with your favorite colors in pillows and throws (less expensive items) so you can switch out color schemes or simply give away less expensive items when you are tired of looking at them. You’ll know if you are attracted to blues or reds, greens or yellows.

Remember my advice about kitchen renovations: Everyone can’t be the star of the show. Don’t detract from your impressive pieces with competing décor, and if the clash is too great, banish one to another room.

Should the whole house be the same color palette? It depends on the size of the house. A smaller house, townhouse or condo should have a blended theme throughout. But for a large house I say blend the colors throughout, but then have a surprise room — a shock of hot pink and orange in a sea of grays, blues and tans. Surprise can be a good thing!

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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.

Produced by ACT for Alexandria, Spring2ACTion is an annual day of online giving that happens every April. Last year, a few weeks into the COVID-19 pandemic, the Alexandria community gave more than $2.4 million to support 156 nonprofit organizations that are important to us… but we can do more!

2021 marks 11 years of Spring2ACTion, so join us as we give to our favorite nonprofits through this community campaign on April 28. To see a list of 150+ nonprofit organizations, and causes to support, visit spring2action.org/organizations.

Tips for Donating

Choose your favorite Alexandria non-profit. Don’t have one? McEnearney continues its support of SCAN for its efforts to stop child abuse and bring hope and community to Alexandria’s next generation. McEnearney will provide a $5,000 match for donations made to SCAN!

At checkout there will be a ‘business’ drop-down question. Please select McEnearney Associates so we can recognize our donors!

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 703-244-5852 or email [email protected]. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

Question: What does a contingency period mean?

Answer: Like any industry, real estate has a ton of lingo that isn’t common to most people. To me, it’s incredibly important that someone who is buying or selling a home has all of the information and resources that they need — before the stakes get high! There is nothing worse than trying to make a difficult decision when you are unfamiliar with the terms.

When I am working with both buyers and sellers, some of the most frequently asked questions are about contingency periods. These are lengths of time written into the contract in which one of the parties has the option of voiding the contract without penalty.

There are many different types of contingencies, and they can vary greatly depending on the contract. No two contingency periods are alike! However, there are some that are more common than others, so here is a quick guide to the top three contingencies that I am asked about most often.

1. Inspection Contingency

In some home sale contracts, there is an agreed-upon number of days in which the buyer can hire a licensed inspector to examine the home for defects. Sometimes the contract allows for the buyer to void during this contingency period, and sometimes there is also the option to negotiate repairs with the seller. If the buyer chooses to either void or negotiate, they must provide the seller with a report from a licensed inspector. In a hot “seller’s market,” buyers can sometimes make this period very short, or even waive it entirely, to appeal to the seller.

2. Financing Contingency

This contingency protects the buyer in case something happens to their loan. Changes in things like a buyer’s employment or credit could potentially put the loan in jeopardy. If there is any risk of this happening, it is important to have this contingency in place so the buyer is not bound by the contract terms. Depending on where the buyer’s loan is in the lender’s pre-approval process, this contingency can be confidently waived in some instances.

3. Appraisal Contingency

An appraisal contingency gives buyers security in case the appraisal from the bank does not come in at the contract price. The bank wants to know that the loan they are approving is worth it. So, if they conduct an appraisal that values the property less than the contract price, the buyer either needs to make up the difference or come to an agreement with the seller. Without an appraisal contingency, the buyer is responsible for what they agreed to in the contract — with or without a loan. An appraisal contingency protects the buyer in case the bank will not allow the loan to go as high as the contract price.

This is by no means an exhaustive list and please remember contingencies can vary greatly from one offer to another. Each buyer and seller should work closely with their Realtor to decide what is best for them in each particular situation.

To learn more about contingencies and other real estate topics, we will be hosting a Virtual Happy Hour on April 22. We will be joined by a lender and a home inspector, and we will answer all of your questions about real estate! For an invitation, please send an email to [email protected].

Hope Peele is a licensed real estate agent with McEnearney Associates, Inc. She and her mother, Kim Peele, are The Peele Group serving Virginia and D.C. They are dedicated to helping clients through the challenges of buying or selling a 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 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: What are residential closing costs and how do they affect me?

Answer: One of the realities associated with the purchase and financing of residential real estate is the fact there will be transaction costs generally referred to as closing costs. Understanding, well in advance, what those costs will be is useful in planning for the purchase.

Transaction costs can be broken down into two broad categories — closing costs and prepaid/escrow expenses. Closing costs include fees charged by the lender, fees charged by the settlement company, and fees charged by state and local jurisdiction where the property is located.

Lender fees often include charges for the appraisal, credit report, processing fees, flood certifications and tax service fees. The total charges generally run between $1,800 and $2,300. Appraisal fees will vary depending upon the value of the appraisal and the complexity of the appraisal effort.

Settlement company charges generally include fees for their service, fees associated with the title search and preparation of the title binder, and lender’s and owner’s title insurance. Not including the cost of the title insurance, the settlement company fees usually total between $800 and $1,000.

Title insurance costs are driven by the sales price of the property, whether the borrower chooses to purchase owner’s title insurance, and further, whether the borrower chooses standard or enhanced owner’s title insurance. For a $300,000 purchase price with standard owner’s coverage, the title insurance costs would be somewhere between $1,550 and $1,700. At a price of $600,000 with the same election, the costs would range from $2,850 to $3,000. At a sales price of $1 million, the title insurance costs would range between $4,550 and $4,800. If the borrower chooses to purchase the enhanced type of owner’s title insurance, the total title insurance costs would be higher at all price points.

State and local jurisdiction costs vary from location to location and are also determined by the sales price and loan amount. In Virginia at a sales price of $600,000 with 20% down, the tax stamp cost would total $3,600. In Montgomery County, Maryland, the transfer and recordation taxes at that same price point and loan amount would total $6,955. In Washington, D.C., the recordation tax would be $8,700. Maryland and The District do offer some discounts for first-time purchasers in their jurisdictions.

The last group of costs associated with the purchase of residential property are prepaid and escrow expenses. If the purchaser is obtaining a mortgage loan, he/she must also obtain homeowner’s (hazard) insurance, which will vary in cost based on the price of the property. The premium for the first full year is generally collected at the time of settlement. In addition, three months of the annual premium are collected at settlement and placed in the borrower’s mortgage escrow account to ensure enough will be available the following year to cover the second-year premium. The borrower will also be responsible for covering any property tax due to the seller and the amount required in the escrow account necessary to cover the next real estate tax bill.

Lastly, if the property is a condominium or located within a homeowner’s association, the purchaser will be responsible for any refund to the seller of monthly dues, which had been paid in advance and for any fees required by the homeowner’s association.

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 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: Have the stars aligned for downsizing?

Answer: Despite the pandemic, or partly because of it, the seller’s market in real estate has continued. A several-years-long trend toward fewer houses on the market has only become a more acute shortage. As we all obeyed stay-at-home orders, even fewer of us were selling our houses than in prior years.

As safety measures became standard protocol, however, buyers and sellers returned to the market after the first month or so of C-19. But more buyers than sellers returned, and the number of homes for sale remains extremely low. The overall effect has been that prices have accelerated, and most well-maintained homes are receiving multiple offers when they go to market. It is tough to be a buyer these days — but great to be a seller.

That dynamic can keep a seller from considering a move, since they will likely become buyers for their next house. When you look more closely, however, it could be a wonderful time to move to smaller housing. The statistics show that the housing shortage is most acute in the single-family arena. The number of detached houses, in particular, is way down over previous years, followed by townhouses. That makes sense — shortages have been building for several years, and the pandemic has driven some folks out of apartments/condos and into single-family homes, increasing demand.

Condominiums, however, have not had as much demand. In fact, the supply of condos on the market overall is up from years past. It is much less of a seller’s market in the condo world. I’m not sure it is a buyer’s market for condos, but it certainly is different from the demand for single-family homes.

So, what is the opportunity for downsizing? First, single-family prices have accelerated by as much as 15% in the last 12 months, depending, of course, on location and condition. For many existing homeowners, that means their homes are worth much more — often $100,000 to even $200,000 more. Plus, condos are the softer area in the market, again depending on location and condition. For anyone who was considering downsizing before the pandemic, this could be a wonderful opportunity to sell high and buy low (and close in/”walkable”). If downsizing away from our high-cost area, the benefit could be even more accentuated.

Another factor is the treatment of capital gains taxation on the sale of a principal residence. Every taxpayer selling a principal residence is entitled to an exclusion of gain of $250,000 or $500,000 for a couple. (Read IRS Publication 523 for conditions, and always check with your tax professional regarding your personal situation.) So, if a house has gone up dramatically in recent years, and you are thinking of going smaller, you could have a nice opportunity to go smaller with a great tax benefit. There is, however, a hint that capital gains tax treatment may change under the new administration, so it could be the best time to take those winnings off the table, so to speak.

With the roll-out of the vaccines and the lifting of some restrictions, there is a prospect of life getting back to somewhat “normal.” It might be time to consider — or reconsider — that move to smaller housing. The opportunity right now is to take advantage of the strength of the single-family market, the relative weakness of the condo market and the current very favorable tax treatment of housing gains.

Dad always told me to buy low and sell high. Have the stars aligned for you?

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 Susan Craft of McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria. To learn more about this article and relevant Alexandria market news, contact Susan Craft at 703-216-4501 or email [email protected]. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

Question: How do I create an outdoor room?

Answer: Think about how you will use the space.

What are you trying to create? Additional living space, scenic views, privacy — all of the above?

The first thing an outdoor room does is provide additional living space with the added bonus of enjoying nature — the warmth of the sun on your face (wear sunscreen, you’ll thank me later), the chirping of birds (wow, loud!) and, yes, the occasional red fox trotting by during morning coffee. I’m used to Mr. Fox now. Initially startled, it quickly became clear that he had places to go and no time to bother with me. I look forward to his next visit. And the greatest entertainment has to be Chip & Dale who chase each other through the flower beds and occasionally peek out from under the chair as if to say, ‘We’re back for another summer of fun!’

Group your space according to the way you’ll use it. For me, that’s a conversation circle — chairs arranged in a circle (or square) to chat with friends (socially distanced, of course) or to sit and read decor magazines. The lounge chair is essential for a 15-minute power nap.

Bistro tables for an intimate dinner for two or pushed together for larger gatherings provide a fresh take on dining throughout the day — complete with an outdoor grill, which makes for easy kitchen cleanup. The umbrellas over the two bistro tables provide shade from the sun and keep a light drizzle from spoiling a meal or sending me inside. Hang a lantern under the umbrella for evening dining.

Before, during and after patio construction

You’ll need a quality contractor. Choose a patio material like flagstone or brick and determine the amount of space you have to work with. Go as big as you can — you want to be able to walk around without bumping into furniture. And don’t forget to put a PVC pipe under the patio to run wires for landscape lighting because that, my friend, is the secret to the outdoor room lasting long into the evening. Bring out a Bose wireless speaker and a few citronella candles, and you can rock the night away. Add a firepit or heater and extend the season (though a mohair blanket and a hot drink work, too).

For the landscape plan, think spring, not summer, for planting, and remember to constantly water the new trees, bushes and plants while they establish roots. Delight in blooms and color, but start with evergreens as your base. The green wall offers privacy and fabulous views even in the winter.

An essential element of the outdoor room is how it looks from inside as it draws your eye outward and makes the interior feel larger for extended, blended living spaces. Low windows and/or patio doors help create this seamless outdoor room extension.

Enjoying nature… 1) Azalea season; 2) and 3) Mr. & Mrs. Cardinal as viewed from inside; 4) Winter landscape with lighting

Give some thought to bloom timing. What blooms early spring, late spring and summer? What changes color in the autumn? (Fire bush!) What will stay evergreen all winter so you always have a serene view and privacy? Enjoy the evolving personality and color as you time the blooms. A professional landscaper — most garden centers have them — can guide you on bloom timing.

Susan Craft is a licensed real estate agent with McEnearney Associates, Inc. in Old Town. Her success has been built on the art of listening and providing excellent personal service to deliver the results people want, expect and deserve. For a no-obligation consultation, call or text 703-216-4501 or email [email protected] today!

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: How do I balance purchasing and selling a home at the same time?

Answer: To meet the needs of today’s seller-friendly market, agents must juggle more than ever before to bring all the pieces together. I am often asked which should come first: finding my dream home or selling my current home?

To answer that question, I looked back at my sales for the past 14 months and discovered that over 90% of my buyer clients purchased prior to selling their current residences. I know that sounds scary; however, with the current lack of inventory, most buyers are writing a number of contracts before they “win the deal.”

Establishing a financial game plan to make this possible may be your answer. Between cash purchases, bridge loans, rent-backs and borrowing against your investments, your agent and a good local lender will help you explore a variety of options. Keep in mind that your house will also be on the market during this competitive environment when you go to sell. If this strategy is not doable — and since home sale contingencies are not an option at this time — you may alternatively consider selling your house and moving to a rental prior to finding your next home.

I recently had the opportunity to help a client buy an Old Town condo in a building that she had been interested in for almost two years. For one reason or another, every time a unit came up, the timing just wasn’t right. My client said: “Thankfully, Lisa kept her eye on the listings for me and alerted me immediately when one came on the market. She suggested I attend the brokers open house with her, and I did. The unit was absolutely perfect for me, and I made an offer that was accepted right away.”

Lisa’s team of contractors and service providers help her sellers prepare their homes for today’s fast-paced market.

The next step was selling Jane’s “beautiful home of 23 years during the busy holiday season of a pandemic year.” We worked together to create an action plan that allowed for her house to be on the market in a timely manner. This included decluttering, donating furniture, completing a few repairs, conducting minor staging, and procuring both photography and video of the property. With help from my team of contractors and service providers, we were able to quickly check off all the items on the list, and we even dealt with a few tricky issues as they came up along the way.

“Shortly after listing the house, mold was discovered in the basement, which required immediate remediation,” Jane explained. “Throughout this process, Lisa kept everything firmly on track while reassuring my many concerns. Following remediation, showings resumed, and the house sold to attractive buyers who presented an excellent offer and agreed to closing before my important deadline.”

I often hear from clients making the move from a single-family home to a condominium that they are worried about transitioning their furniture and accessories to a smaller space while still having the comfortable feel of their home. In Jane’s case, she “knew that this was the right move” for her and said she “did not have buyer’s remorse for a second.”

Lisa’s purchaser is happily settled in her comfortable new home.

As a follow up, I visited Jane’s condo with my fabulous photographer to take pictures of her new home. I was not surprised to feel that I was walking into her home in Jefferson Park. She had painted the walls the same color, added similar carpet in the bedrooms, and arranged her furniture and accessories beautifully. (I have included a few before and after pictures for you to see.)

I was extremely honored to receive a testimonial from Jane, which I would like to share: “Throughout this very stressful process, Lisa served as my cheerleader, advocate, confidante and knowledgeable real estate expert. I simply could not have asked for more responsive and capable representation when buying and selling. I recommend her highly!”

If you are thinking of making similar moves and need guidance on where to start, feel free to reach out to me for a private and confidential conversation. I would be happy to help!

Lisa Groover is a licensed real estate agent with McEnearney Associates, Inc. in Old Town Alexandria, VA. As an active member of the community since 1989, Lisa specializes in Alexandria, and is thrilled to have the opportunity to work closely with her friends, neighbors, former clients, and their referrals.

In addition to enjoying the Old Town lifestyle and the art related events and activities, she is a member of a number of volunteer organizations. Having had eight Golden Retrievers, she is dedicated to helping other dog owners through the challenges of renting, buying and selling their home.

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

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

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This week’s Q&A column is sponsored and written by Kim Peele and Hope Peele of The Peele Group and McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria. To learn more about this article and relevant Alexandria market news, contact The Peele Group at 703-244-5852 or email [email protected]. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

Question: How hard is it to sell a home in today’s market?

Answer: The short answer, it’s not too difficult to sell a home in today’s market. The longer answer is, to sell a home well in any market, it takes skill, expertise and experience. Selling a home well involves a lot more than just putting a sign in the yard or even getting it sold. Selling a home well means getting the home sold at the best price possible, with good terms for the seller and with the least amount of stress.

In the past six months, there have been 374 expired, withdrawn or canceled listings in the City of Alexandria alone. In a great market for sellers, those canceled listings were unsuccessful at selling, had to adjust, possibly sold later or just pulled the listing from the market. Considering that 1,429 homes sold in the same period of time, that’s a pretty substantial number.

There are many reasons selling a home may not succeed, and we would venture to guess that in most of these cases there was not a clear understanding of how to price the property well, or the property was not “show-ready” for the market. Many people believe that in a strong “seller’s market” such as this, a home can just sell itself. These numbers suggest otherwise.

It’s really important that your listing shows up on all marketing channels. Your Realtor should have access to all the traditional channels, but a strong digital presence and great media partners are especially important. Not all companies are able to provide this, but it is important so that your listing reaches the maximum number of potential buyers. Online marketing should include local news sources as well as national and global channels. Social media has now become a source of first glimpses at listings, so your chosen Realtor should have strong skills in putting out professional exposure in all channels.

Preparing for the market is a huge step in the process. Your home needs to be 100% show-ready, before buyers see it. Your Realtor should have excellent, reasonably priced contractors that can get any work done quickly. We often get homes painted, add granite counters, power wash, refinish floors and more — all in just a week or two. The contractors that a Realtor recommends know how important the “getting on the market” timeline is and work in tandem with your real estate professional to get the job done well and on time.

(The Peele Group has a Dream Team of experts — contractors, staging advisors, photographers and more — to help make the right preparations, minimize stress and maximize profits!)

Creativity is huge in real estate. Not only is it important in marketing your home to the fullest extent, but it makes a big difference once you are under contract as well. Every real estate transaction is different and just when we think we’ve seen it all, a new wrinkle develops. This is normal, and a seasoned professional has a vast toolbox of resources and other professionals to keep the process going smoothly. Our team has trained with everyone — from the Ritz Carlton Hospitality team to FBI hostage negotiators — in order to expand our toolbox and accomplish our clients’ goals!

Your Realtor should be there throughout your entire process, guiding you through every stage. They will keep every step of the real estate transaction organized and on track to close. They will assist with preparation, the selling process, the final sale and even beyond. Their expertise will be key in realizing the highest profit for your home and the best match for your goals.

Selling a home well is an involved process, and it takes a professional to know how to make a plan, implement the steps and to sell your home smoothly. And it certainly means NOT having to be withdrawn or canceled, because it was not planned properly. For more information on selling a home in today’s market, contact Kim or Hope Peele of The Peele Group at 703-244-5852.

Kim Peele is a licensed real estate agent with McEnearney Associates, Inc., lives in Old Town and works in Virginia, D.C. and Maryland. She and her daughter Hope Peele are The Peele Group. Kim is a second-generation Realtor and fourth-generation Washingtonian and is dedicated to helping owners through the challenges of 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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