Blog :: 03-2019

Amanda Davidson Real Estate Group is Northern Virgina's most trusted local, independent resource for real estate news and insight. Our team has its finger on the pulse of the real estate market in Alexandria and the surrounding counties. Here you'll find the latest market updates, local news, and tips for buyers and sellers.

Home Selling Tips – How To Prepare Your Home For Picture Day

Home Selling Tips – How To Prepare Your Home For Picture Day

Pictures can make or break a home sale. The first place potential buyers are going to see your home is online, gone are the days that the first impression is when they pull up for a tour. I’d even venture to argue that the first showing for your home occurs online. If buyers don’t like what they see online they’re not going to come to see a home in person. You want to make sure your home is staged and ready for picture day. Below are tips about how to prepare your home for photos.
 


Interior Tips For Picture Day

Furniture

Rooms that are packed with furniture will not only appear small in photos they’ll also appear small for showings. Less is more, work with your agent or your stager to determine which pieces should stay and which pieces should be removed. Anything you remove for picture day should stay out of the house for showings as well.

 

Countertops

Countertops photograph best when they’re clear. For the kitchen, this means small appliances, paper towel holders, cutting boards, and knife blocks need to be removed. In the bathroom take the toothbrushes, soap, makeup, lotion, and any other personal items off the top of the vanity and put them out of sight. The same goes for nightstands and dressers – have their surfaces clear.
 

 


Refrigerator

No magnets, photos, artwork, or calendars allowed. Have the exterior of your fridge completely clear. It should stay this way the entire time your home is on the market as well. While it doesn’t have to be done for picture day don’t forget that when it’s time for showings the inside of your refrigerator needs to be organized and clean.

 

Cabinets

Make sure the exterior of all the cabinets in the kitchen and bathrooms are clean. Wipe them down as needed prior to the photographer arriving. Pay close attention to spills, drips, and dried toothpaste.

 

Showers and Bathtubs

Shampoo and conditioner bottles, soap, razors, and anything else inside the shower or tub need to be removed. Showers and bathtubs should be completely clear including anything hanging on the wall. If you have glass shower doors wipe them down and remove any soap scum or water spots.
 


Lighting

Go through your entire house and replace any burned out lightbulbs. Consider replacing bulbs that don’t put off bright light to achieve better lighting the day of photos. On picture day turn on every light in your home. Lights on ceiling fans should be on too but, the fan itself should be off.

 

Throw Rugs

Entryway, hallway, and bathroom rugs need to be removed for picture day. Having them on the floor causes rooms to look small and cluttered.

 

Loose Wires

Lamp, TV, and electronic device wires should all be concealed. If that’s not possible at the very least they need to be wrapped neatly and zip tied to avoid being an eyesore in photographs.

 

Beds

Every bed needs to be made, not just your every day make your bed routine. Take time to make sure the sheets and blanket aren’t showing from under the comforter. Smooth the comforter out and ensure it’s even on all sides. Add a throw to the end of the bed for an added touch. Fluff and arrange all of the pillows. Getting a bed ready for photos isn’t a quick task, allow plenty of time the morning of photos.
 


Toilet Seats

This one is a pet peeve of mine anytime I see it in photographs of a home for sale. Make sure they are all down. If you have a professional photographer they’ll likely put them down or if your agent arrives prior to photos commencing to walk through your house they probably will too but, regardless of who takes care of it just make sure it gets done.
 

Trash Cans

All trash cans need to be hidden and that includes the kitchen trash can. Your home is the product you are selling, not trash cans.

 

Pets

It goes without saying to remove your pet the day of photos but, don’t forget to remove your pet's belongings too. Beds, bowls, and food storage should not be photographed nor should they be present for showings either. Some buyers do not want to purchase a home if its apparent pets live there.
 


Exterior Tips For Picture Day

Don’t forget the exterior when preparing for picture day. It’s equally as important as the interior.
 


Front Door

Place an attractive flower pot leading up the walkway or on a pedestal by the front door. Something with an inviting color that doesn’t overwhelm the space. Adding something by or near the front door gives a welcoming vibe in photos.

 

Landscaping

Trim trees and bushes, pull weeds, mulch flower beds, and mow the yard. If the weather hasn’t warmed up enough for the grass to grow and there are bare spots with dirt showing in the yard have sod put down.

 

Cars

Remove cars from the driveway and garage. If you have any sports equipment in the driveway or in front of the garage it should be removed as well.
 


Trash Cans

Even the trash cans on the exterior of your home need to be removed for pictures too. Buyers aren’t interested in photographs with trash cans in them under any circumstances.

 

Yard

If you have pets make sure the yard is free of any calling cards they’ve left. If you have children remove their toys – there shouldn’t be any random items left out in the yard on picture day. Garden hoses are an item that is often overlooked and they should be put away if they’re lying on the ground.

 

Windows

All the windows in your home should be closed for picture day – blinds, however, should be open. Don’t forget to clean them prior to the photographer coming.
 


Preparing your home for picture day takes a lot of attention to detail. I make it a point to arrive 45 minutes to an hour ahead of the photographer so that I can go through each room of the home and make any final adjustments. It’s easy to overlook little things when you don’t prepare a home for photos every day and it’s a costly mistake to make. Think of the photos you’d share if you were creating an online dating profile, they’d only be your absolute best. The same mentality applies to your home. Take the time to go room by room and get it ready to shine on picture day!
 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:
Getting Your Home Ready For A Spring Sale via Luke Skar with Inlanta Mortgage of Madison

What Updates/Repairs Should We Do Before Listing via Joan Cox Broker-Owner House To Home in Denver Co


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5 Tips To Update Your Kitchen

5 Tips To Update Your Kitchen

The kitchen, no matter how big or small is where everyone ends up gathering. It’s a very important room in every home. Presenting your kitchen in the best light possible is imperative, you want buyers to imagine themselves there and feel invited.

Complete these 5 tips in order to see the highest return on your investment.
 


Kitchen Cabinets

The cabinets are a big part of every kitchen and they can really impact a buyer’s opinion. Sometimes painting cabinets is an option but, this isn’t as easy as it sounds and has to be done carefully. If your cabinets have doors that aren’t functioning properly or if they’ve already been painted over this might not be an option.

If your cabinets are laminate they should not be painted over. There are companies that specialize in re-facing laminate cabinet doors and this is a great way to create a new look without fully replacing your cabinets alaltogetherIf your cabinets need attention in the form of painting, re-facing, or replacement but, it’s not an option financially your home should be priced accordingly to account for their age along with their condition. If you want to get top dollar for your home updating the cabinets will help you achieve your goal.
 


Kitchen Counters

Take a look at your kitchen counters and determine if they need to be updated. Maybe they’re laminate or ceramic tile and give your kitchen an outdated look or maybe they’re just worn out in general.

All we’ve heard for years is granite, granite, granite but, granite takes a lot of maintenance. It’s porous and has to be sealed regularly, a task many homeowners don’t do at all or nearly enough. Years of neglect will leave granite looking dull and it is possible for stains to occur if not cleaned up quickly. If you’re going to replace your countertops check into Quartz, it is not a porous product and has become very popular. I prefer Quartz over granite, low maintenance and still looks very natural. Replacing counters in the kitchen is an affordable option to make it stand out to buyers.
 


Kitchen Appliances

This can in my opinion be a tricky one. Stainless steel is still sought after in my market and there are buyers who specifically want a home with stainless steel appliances. It’s also one that I tell buyers not to get hung up on because appliances are super easy to replace. For my sellers, if you are planning on selling your home soon and all of your appliances are fully functional I don’t recommend replacing them. If they’re ancient or don’t go well together (i.e. every appliance is a different color) that’s a different story and something I evaluate on a case by case basis. If you do opt to replace your appliances prior to putting your home on the market I don’t recommend going the high end route because you won’t see a strong ROI.
 


Paint

Kitchens see a lot of activity and it’s easy for the paint to get stained, chipped, and just plain worn out looking. Paint is another budget friendly way to give your kitchen (and the rest of your house for that matter) a fresh feeling. Kitchens are tedious to paint because of all the brushwork they require but, if you’ve got a little experience painting and some patience it’s a great way to see a solid ROI.

Don’t forget to look at the baseboards, they will need painting too but, also may need to be replaced depending on how much wear and tear has occurred. Paint the ceiling as well, paint on kitchen ceilings tends to deteriorate faster than other rooms in your home. Moisture, oils, and evaporation over time leave them stained and dull. Painting is one of the best investments you can make to give your kitchen a fresh and clean look.
 


Lighting

Lighting is another great way to give your kitchen a warm and welcoming feel without spending a fortune. Adding recessed lighting or pendant lights over your island will complement your kitchen. Above or under cabinet lighting is another option, both ensure there aren’t any dark spaces and are a nice added detail. I still see a lot of homes with one large rectangle fluorescent light in the kitchen and it gives off a dated vibe from the minute I walk in. For a nominal fee updating your kitchen lighting will do wonders for how it feels and looks.
 


If you are thinking about moving soon look at your kitchen and consider what should be updated or replaced. A great agent will be able to help you with your decision. It’s no secret that buyers love updated kitchens and there are some easy ways to make yours shine. Don’t forget cleaning – not just a once over. Deep cleaning your kitchen is a must before hitting the market. Clean the cabinets and drawers both inside and out. If they’re overflowing be sure to de-clutter. Buyers will be opening them and you want them to be organized. Clean the appliances inside and out as well. Think the way potential buyers are going to think when looking at your kitchen and make any necessary changes, all of your preparation will pay off when your home goes on the market.


 

Runnymeade in Alexandria, Va 22310 - Market Update March 2019

Runnymeade in Alexandria, Va 22310 - Market Update March 2019

Runnymeade is a neighborhood of 346 townhomes in Alexandria Virginia. It’s conveniently located off of South Van Dorn Street and Crown Royal Drive. The townhomes were built between 1983 and 1987; all of the homes have 3 levels and range from 2,080 to 3,000 square feet. There are six different floor plans; Alford, Berwick, Darnley, Elgin, Falkirk, and Marlburough. The townhomes in Runnymeade typically have 2-4 bedrooms and 2-3 full bathrooms. Some of the homes have a one car garage while others sell with surface parking.

 


Community Amenities
Community amenities in Runnymeade include tennis courts, tot lots, and common areas. The neighborhood has unique green space and a beautiful wooded area in the community. You’ll often see residents playing with their children, walking their dogs, or enjoying a game of catch or kickball.

 


What’s Nearby Runnymeade?
As with most neighborhoods in the Kingstowne area Runnymeade is in an excellent location. Kingstowne Towne Center is less than 5 minutes away by car of a 15 minute walk. You’ll find multiple grocery stores, Kingstowne 16 Movie Theater, World Market, Home Goods, Panera Bread, Pasara Thai, Bonefish Grill, Bath and Body Works and many other dining and retail options in the center.

 


Runnymeade is also close to Springfield Town Center, home to Maggiano’s, Yard House, Chuys, Maggie McFly’s, LA Fitness, and Target. You can shop until you drop with their plentiful retail options and there’s a food court with additional dining options. Check out the movie theater while you’re there – super comfortable seats, delicious food and you can even have an adult beverage while you watch the latest release. Hilltop Village Center, home to the sought after Wegmans grocery store is less than 10 minutes from the neighborhood.

 

The community is two lights from the Beltway making it very commuter friendly. Van Dorn and Franconia Springfield metro stations are easily accessible from Runnymeade and there is a bus stop located in the front of the neighborhood that’s in walking distance to all residents. Access to 395, 495, 95, and Fairfax County Parkway are all just minutes away.
 


What Schools Will The Kids Attend?
Kids in Runnymeade will attend Bush Hill Elementary, Twain Middle, and Edison High School. Visit www.greatschools.org for reviews and information on test scores.

 

The following is a review of activity in Runnymeade during 2018.

•Number of Sales: 16

•Highest Priced Sale: $482,650

•Lowest Priced Sale: $400,000

•Median Sales Price: $459,000

•Median Days on Market: 13

•Median Sale Price to List Price Ratio: 99.67%
 


There are currently no homes for sale in Runnymeade. If you are interested in learning more about the neighborhood or have questions about the home buying process reach out and let’s connect. I lived in Runnymeade for almost ten years and would be happy to answer any questions you have about being a resident there.

 

Receive an immediate free estimate of your Runnymeade home value by visiting www.northernvalocalmarketvalues.com. This link is to be used strictly to give you a general idea of what your home could sell for. It is not a replacement of a current market analysis based on your home, its upgrades and maintenance. For a precise amount of what your home is currently worth in the current market please contact me for a free customized analysis. 703-431-3755 or amanda@amandadavidson.com.

 

View homes for sale in 22310

 

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Homes For Sale In Cameron Station Alexandria, Va 22304 – February 2019 Market Update

Homes For Sale In Cameron Station Alexandria, Va 22304 – February 2019 Market Update

Cameron Station is situated in the west end of Alexandria. The neighborhood used to be a military base; it closed in 1995 and the transformation of the 96-acre site began.

 


You’ll find single family homes, townhomes, and condominiums in Cameron Station. The residences were built between 1998 and 2003. Known for its charm and small-town feel Cameron Station is a very sought after community to live in. Brick sidewalks and small parks throughout the neighborhood are enjoyed by residents and add to the ambiance.
 

2018 Homes Sales In Cameron Station

Homes Sold - 144

Highest Sale - $1,022,000

Lowest Sale - $300,000

Median Sale Price - $605,250

Sale To List Price Ratio – 98.76%

Median Days On Market - 23
 

 

Amenities in Cameron Station
Residents in the neighborhood
enjoy use of an outdoor pool, exercise room, and clubhouse. There are also two parks within walking distance of the neighborhood that house sports fields, picnic areas, tennis courts, playgrounds, and a dog park. The homeowners association maintains a helpful website.
 

What’s Nearby Cameron Station?
Daily needs and commuting are both very convenient when living in the neighborhood
. A shuttle takes residents to and from Van Dorn metro during rush hour. There’s a small market, dry cleaners, and café on Ben Brenman Park Drive which is the equivalent to “main street” in the neighborhood. Harris Teeter and ALDI grocery stores along with additional retail and dining options are all in walking distance.
 


What Schools Will The Kids Attend?
Children living in the neighborhood
will attend Samuel W. Tucker Elementary, Francis C. Hammond Middle, and TC Williams High Schools. For more information about these schools visit the GreatSchools.
 

 

See homes for sale in Cameron Station.

If you are considering buying or selling in the neighborhood I’d love the opportunity to earn your trust and business. Providing my clients with a personalized real estate experience that matches their unique needs is always my top priority. You can always reach out to me with questions. 703-431-3755 or amanda@amandadavidson.com.

 

How To Win A Bidding War In A Seller's Market

How To Win A Bidding War In A Seller’s Market

Inventory in many areas is low and in Alexandria, it’s severely low. Other areas of Northern Virginia are experiencing the same conditions. Homes are receiving multiple offers within hours of coming on the market. It’s not uncommon for a home that’s updated and priced correctly to see 7+ offers in our market right now. We’re seeing inspections and appraisals waived, financing contingencies waived, escalation addendums, free rent backs, and buyers doing anything and everything they can to be the selected offer. 

Your first offer needs to be your best offer. So what can you do as a buyer to stand out?

 


Financing - at the very least you need to be pre-approved but, I recommend taking it a step further and being fully approved meaning your financials have already gone through underwriting. This means you can if you choose to do so waive your financing contingency. It’s the closest you can get to compete with cash. Sellers want security knowing the offer they select isn’t going to fall through and when they’ve got a pile to pick from they select the best of the best.

Cash - if paying cash is an option that’s highly recommended. I have had a couple of clients who could pay cash but, that wasn’t their first choice. The solution, purchase with cash knowing that they’d then take out a mortgage after settlement. Paying cash doesn’t mean you’re going to be able to negotiate – it’s about the total package. Not just one component of the offer.

 



 

Earnest Money Deposit - offer a large earnest money deposit when you are competing with other offers. Standard in our market is 1%-2%, bump it up to 5%. It tells the sellers you’re putting your money where your mouth is. Sellers know a buyer is far less likely to default on a contract when they’re looking at losing $30,000 vs. $6,000.

Be Flexible - cater to the seller’s schedule. If they want a certain closing date to accommodate it. If they need a rent back, accommodate it. Your agent gathering information from the seller’s agent about what their desires are will go a long way. When you’re up against multiple offers you just don’t have the luxury of calling your own shots and if you go that route you’re wasting your time making an offer. I know that sounds harsh but, it’s the truth when you’re competing with other buyers. 

 


 


Consider A Void Only Home Inspection - there are a lot of buyers who are waiving home inspections all together and if you’re comfortable with doing that, by all means, go for it. It will without a doubt make your offer stand out and be stronger but, know there is a risk in doing it. It’s not something I recommend. Instead, you could opt to offer a void only home inspection which gives you the opportunity to have an inspection but, tells the sellers you are agreeing not to ask for any repairs. If the inspection reveals something that causes you to want to withdraw you can as long as you’re within the inspection contingency deadline. If you opt to have a void the only inspection make the deadline as short as you possibly can. 

Appraisal - this is another contingency you can opt to void but, only if you have enough cash to make up the difference in the event of a low appraisal. If you have a certain amount of cash you could keep the appraisal contingency as part of your offer but, include verbiage that you’ll contribute up to X amount in the event of a low appraisal.




Termite Inspection - unless you’re using VA financing pay for the termite inspection. In our area, it’s $35. Yes, it’s a very minor detail however, the smallest of details matter when you’re buying in a hot seller’s market.

Home Warranty - don’t ask the seller to pay for one. If they’re already offering one that’s great but when sellers are in the driver’s seat most aren’t. Although more expensive than a termite inspection at an average of $500 it’s not much on a purchase this large. Looking at the big picture it’s a minor detail when it could make or break you getting the house you love. 

This is a general list of what you can do to stand out to sellers. There’s no one size fits all and what you do or don’t need to do varies by market. This is where working with the right agent comes in. You need experience representing your best interests and someone who will provide you with all the information so that you can make a decision you’re comfortable with. 

 

 

 

Condos For Sale At Exchange At Van Dorn Condos Alexandria Va 22304

Condos For Sale At Exchange At Van Dorn Condos Alexandria Va 22304

Exchange At Van Dorn is a garden style condo community located in Alexandria City off of Eisenhower Avenue. The community is composed of 404 condos ranging from 606 to 1,284 square feet. The community was constructed by Crescent Heights in 2003.

Exchange At Van Dorn is known for its convenient location and amenities. Residents enjoy secure access, garage parking, a community center, exercise room, outdoor pool, and basketball courts.
 


What’s Nearby Exchange At Van Dorn?
The 
neighborhood is in walking distance to two metro stations; Van Dorn and Eisenhower Avenue station. Commuting from the Exchange At Van Dorn is very convenient, access to 495, 395, and 95 are all minutes away. There are shopping centers that are in walking distance from the neighborhood and Kingstowne is less than ten minutes away. If you’d like to venture to Old Town to enjoy unique shopping and the waterfront it’s less than 15 minutes by car.
 


Exchange At Van Dorn Real Estate Market
The following is a review of activity in Exchange At Van Dorn during 2018.

•Number of Sales: 42

•Highest Priced Sale: $325,000

•Lowest Priced Sale: $216,000

•Median Sales Price: $274,300

•Median Days on Market: 24

•Median Sale Price to List Price Ratio: 98.48%
 

What Schools Will The Kids Attend?
Children living in Exchange At Van Dorn will attend Samuel W. Tucker Elementary, Francis C. Hammond Middle, and TC Williams High. For more information about these schools check out GreatSchools

 


There is currently 1 condo for sale in the Exchange At Van Dorn

If you’d like more information about the community or are considering selling your Exchange At Van Dorn condo I’d love to earn your trust and business. I have years of experience in the Alexandria real estate market. Providing a personalized real estate experience for my clients is always my top priority.

If you’re curious about what your Exchange At Van Dorn condo is worth us our home value tool for an immediate estimate. Visit www.northernvalocalmarketvalues.com – free and no obligation.

View homes for sale in Alexandria

 

 

Wellington Commons in Alexandria, Va 22310- Market Report February 2019

 

Wellington Commons in Alexandria, Va 22310- Market Report February 2019

Located at the intersection of Franconia Road and South Van Dorn Street in Alexandria the Wellington Commons neighborhood offers convenient access to 495, metro, and Kingstowne. The neighborhood is home to 140 townhomes that were constructed by Carr.

All of the homes have 3 levels, there are garage and non-garage townhomes, and most homes have 2-4 bedrooms and 2-3 full baths. Some of the homes also feature half baths. The square footage in Wellington Commons homes ranges from 1,400 to 2,456.




 

Kingstowne Towne Center is in walking distance from the neighborhood with access to 2 grocery stores, shopping, dining, and Kingstowne 16 Movie Theater. Commuting from Wellington Commons is convenient with access to 495 and 95 being just minutes away. The neighborhood is in close proximity to 2 metro stations; Van Dorn and Franconia-Springfield which both offer access to the blue line.

 

Current Inventory In Wellington Commons

There are no active listings in the neighborhood at this time. Wellington Commons like many other neighborhoods in the Rose Hill and Kingstowne area is experiencing a seller’s market. Supply is not keeping up with demand. If you are interested in buying in the neighborhood reach out to us to be notified when a new listing enters the market.

 

 

Wellington Commons Home Sales in 2018

•Number of Sales: 12

•Highest Priced Sale: $496,600

•Lowest Priced Sale: $415,000

•Median Sales Price: $467,850

•Median Days on Market: 8

•Average Sales Price to List Price Ratio: 99.13%

 

As of today there have been no sales during 2019 in Wellington Commons.

 

If you own a home in Wellington Commons and are considering selling, reviewing a market report is a great starting point to get an idea of current trends. It’s not a substitute for connecting with a local Realtor to talk about your home and its features. Pricing is unique to each home and based on condition, upgrades, and location. Home prices in the neighborhood are increasing and your home may be worth more than you think. Reach out to me to have a conversation about your home. I can be reached at 703-431-3755 or amanda@amandadavidson.com.

 

 

Receive a free no obligation home value estimate by visiting www.northernvalocalmarketvalues.com

If you are interested in purchasing a home in Wellington Commons lack of inventory is a big challenge. We have proven strategies to achieve a successful purchase even in the most competitive markets. Reach out to us to connect. I’d love to hear about what you’re looking for in your next home and determine if I’d be a good fit to help you find it. Just have questions about the neighborhood? Please don’t hesitate to ask!

View Homes For Sale in 22310