Home Seller Tips

Staging Your Northern Virginia Home

Real estate agents know better than anyone that presentation and pricing is everything. Other than pricing your home competitively, how can you sell your home quickly? Staging your home and making it presentable can significantly impact how long your home will stay on the market. So if you're hoping to sell your property quickly and seamlessly, try these fool-proof tricks and tips and let your real estate agent worry about the rest.

Say Goodbye to Clutter

Don't be offended if your real estate agent suggests removing your family photos, children's artwork or your collectable knick-knacks. Potential buyers want to imagine their pictures and items in your home, and a cluttered room can make doing this difficult. A crowded home can also be off-putting, so become a temporary minimalist, depersonalize rooms, and put your personal items away.

Brighten It Up

If you're having an open house or professional photos taken, you'll want to make the home as bright as possible. Open the blinds, replace the lightbulbs and turn the lights on. A bright and luminous home is appealing and buyers will feel welcome. Additionally, it will be easier for viewers to see the positive selling features your home has to offer.

Paint by Numbers

An inexpensive way to groom your home is to slab a fresh coat of paint on your walls. Stay away from bright, harsh and dark colors. Opt instead for neutrals such as beige, honey, light gray and white, especially in large rooms. If you insist on having a touch of color, consider painting a bathroom or adding in accent colors through pillows, lamps, etc. Your real estate agent will know that homes with neutral colors are more likely to sell and receive offers.

Spruce It Up

Staging Your HomeWhen you're selling your home, try to imagine what you'd like to see. Fresh flowers are a great way to add a pop of color and cheer to a room. In the Spring, consider peonies and blush tones. In the Fall, you might want to try orange and red flowers. Adding fresh flowers is one of the most inexpensive ways to liven your home and if you want, you can simply raid your own yard.

Bedrooms are Important, Too

While kitchens and bathrooms are one of the more weighted rooms homebuyers look at, bedrooms are important, as well. Make sure the bedroom is tidy, bed is made and closets are clean. Try to use neutral patterned bedding and an elegant bedframe. This will make the room feel appealing and welcoming.

Sell From the Outside In

Curb appeal is also so important when it comes to selling your home. The outside of your home is the first thing potential buyers see, and even though judging a home by the outside is discouraged, it's a natural part of the process. Do some light landscaping, add mulch to dirt areas, pressure-clean your driveway and clear your lawn of toys and debris. Spending a few hours tidying your yard can make all the difference.

Sellers should really consider what it was that made them buy their house and what they're searching for in their next house. If there are certain factors that are appealing to you when you're buying a home, you should try to appeal these same qualities to other buyers. Chances are, a buyer will have the same preferences and your home will sell before you know it.

Do you have any other home-staging tricks? Let us know your tips by commenting below. Or contact the Amanda Davidson Real Estate Group to learn more about selling your home in Northern Virginia.


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    How To Prepare Your Alexandria Home For Sale on a Budget

    How To Prepare Your Alexandria Home For Sale on a Budget
    Preparing your Alexandria home for sale might feel like an overwhelming task but, it's important to take into consideration because homes that are properly prepared to go on the market typically sell for a higher price. Don’t let a small budget dissuade you from properly preparing your home for sale. There are a lot of ways you can make your home shine without breaking the bank. Watch this short video for tips to prepare your home for sale on a budget.


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      7 Moving Tips

      Do you have a future move planned? Moving can be complicated, especially since moving season is now officially upon us. We want to share seven tips to make the moving process easier for you.

      Take advantage of move-in off days. Weekends are prime times for moving companies because most of us don’t work on the weekends. However if you can spare a few days during the week to move, it will save you money. You can also save money by not moving on the day when leases start and end, so avoid the 1st, 15th, 30th, and 31st of the month.

      Don’t choose the cheapest quote. It can mean the cheapest service as well. Cheap moving companies will often cost you more in the long run. Pack without emotion. Packing can be a quicker process if you don’t have a sentimental attachment to your items

      Have the new place cleaned before you move in. Moving into a new home that is sparkling clean alleviates the stress of having to clean while the boxes are sitting around waiting to be unpacked.

      Measure twice, move once. If a piece of furniture doesn’t fit in the new home, considering tossing, selling, or donating it. There is no point in paying to move if it doesn’t fit.

      Pack smart. If you end up packing yourself, find friends to help you. Consider having a packing party and supply pizza and beer in exchange for their help.

      Make sure you know if your city requires a moving permit. Most cities that do require you to get a permit also require you to get it ahead of your move.

      If you have any questions about this topic or are looking to buy or sell a home, give us a call. We’d be happy to help!

      Save money and save trees by buying your moving supplies from UsedCardboardBoxes.com - CLICK HERE

      *Amanda Davidson is a participant in the ShareASale Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to merchants. This occurs at no cost to you. 


      Are Home Inspectors Ever Wrong?

      Are Home Inspectors Ever Wrong?

      Most of the time when we’re talking home inspectors it revolves around buyers hiring one to inspect the home they’re purchasing. That’s not always the case though. Homeowners and seller’s hire home inspectors too. Home inspectors can identify repairs that are needed or going to be needed in the future and that can avoid costly deferred maintenance for homeowners or give sellers a chance to correct a problem prior to going on the market.

      I always like to compare a home inspection to going to the doctor to get a physical. It’s not a pass or fail activity. Home inspectors are looking for items that need repair or even replacement, safety items, and do a visual overview of the home. They’re not there to take drywall down, to look behind walls, or do anything invasive to the home. After they complete their inspection they’ll compose a report often with pictures that includes their findings.

      This poses the question – are home inspectors ever wrong? Let’s start by pointing out they’re human and no one is perfect so based off that alone yes, there are times inspectors are wrong. We’re all wrong at some point in our lives. Aside from being human and capable of error they’re also not able to see behind walls, under concrete, under floors etc. No two home inspectors are the same. Odds are if you have a home inspection done by two different inspectors they’ll have items that are the same in their reports but, other items that one found and the other didn’t or vice versa. A professional and reputable home inspector will recommend further evaluation if he’s unsure of something or feels there’s more that needs to be looked into.

      Fortunately it’s rare but, I have had a few situations where an inspector listed a full write up on something he or she thought was wrong and needed repair or replacement but, after hiring a tradesmen that specialized in X area it was shown that the inspector wasn’t correct. Occasionally buyers will take the inspectors report as the final word and withdraw from a contract. That’s worst case scenario and it’s always a good idea to get a second opinion before making any decisions.

      As with every other profession not all inspectors are created equal. Do your research before you make a decision on who you want to inspect your home or if you’re a buyer your future home. Ask your agent for recommendations and check inspectors qualifications. If something comes up that’s questionable, get a second opinion so that you know where you stand. 




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        How To Start Preparing Your Home For Sale in the Spring

        How To Start Preparing Your Home For Sale in the Spring
        Preparing your home for sale takes time and a well thought out plan. It’s not an overnight process and while winter continues to grace us with its presence now is the perfect time to start working on items that need attention inside your home. Even if you aren’t planning on selling this spring, think of taking care of items inside as New Year’s Resolution for your home.


        Where to start?
        Closets are a great starting point. Almost all of us have at least one closet that could use organizing. Take everything out and sort through what you do and don’t need. If its clothes, ask yourself when the last time was you wore an item. If the answer is more than 6 months ago chances are it should go into a donation pile. The same goes for shoes and accessories. If you’re working on a storage closet donate items that you don’t use and toss the junk. Don’t forget to do the same for your pantry. It all has a way of accumulating and if you’re selling you want to showcase your homes storage space in an organized fashion.


        While you have everything out of your closets look to see if they need painting. If they do and you are able to paint yourself it saves time to do it when you already have everything out of the closets. Painting is a great way to make your home shine prior to putting it on the market. If you’re handy (and patient) you can save a lot of money by doing it yourself. Starting in the winter gives you plenty of time to take it room by room and not be rushed. It’s a tedious process but, one that really pays off when it comes time to sell. If you’re not selling maybe you just want to give a room a different vibe. Changing the color on the walls is a sure way to transform a room.


        Check your bathrooms to see what condition the grout and caulk are in. The majority of bathrooms could use a good grout cleaning and sealing along with fresh caulk. They might be minor maintenance items but, are another area that will make your home shine when you’re ready to sell. Again, even if you aren’t planning to sell they’re important maintenance items to take care of. Fresh sealed tile and caulk avoids the chance of any water spreading into unwanted areas. These are all items you can do yourself or you can enlist your favorite handyman to take care of it for you. In general tradesmen are slower during the winter. Enlisting their expertise now will save you from the rush the springtime brings.


        Go through your home room by room and make a list of what needs to be done, this will give you a checklist to work from. While the cold continues you’ll be knocking out the items that need attention inside and be ready to work on the outside when we welcome spring and warmer temperatures.





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          Real Estate Agents Giving Sellers False Hope On Market Value

          Real Estate Agents Giving Sellers False Hope On Market Value

          Inventory in many areas is low – extremely low, in some locations even historically low. Real Estate agents telling sellers that they can sell their home at an unrealistic price just to win the listing is nothing new but, it becomes more prevalent when low inventory is a current market trend. Low inventory is a positive factor for sellers, it all comes down to supply and demand, but, when inventory is low some agents take the path of telling a seller whatever they want to hear just to get the listing.


          In a seller’s market having more listings is something agents love. Why wouldn’t they? Homes in Alexandria that are priced correctly and located in sought after neighborhoods are seeing multiple offers. Competition for a listing from multiple buyers is a listing agents dream. The sellers are thrilled and the agent is too, contingencies waived, offers above list price … you get it. The dark side to this type of market is real estate agents not being honest about what a home’s current market value is. Market conditions change gradually and that includes rising prices. They don’t jump up by for example $50k overnight. Properly pricing a home comes from studying the comps, current market conditions, condition of the home, location of the home etc. It does not come from an agent’s opinion of what it will sell for just because there aren’t other homes to pick from. Pricing is one of the most important components of a successful sale and if you get it wrong from the start it’s not going to be pretty for the seller.



          I met with a seller a couple weeks ago and they were upfront that they were interviewing multiple agents. I expect pricing recommendations to vary and am never surprised if there’s a difference of $10k - $20k. Pricing isn’t based of a set formula and when that’s the case there will always be some type of variance. In this case however, I was blown away when the seller told me that there was a difference of $100,000 if they looked at the lowest price suggested and the highest. WHAT? I always try to put myself in the seller’s shoes and if you’re looking at your bottom line thinking you could have $100k more in your pocket I can understand why that would make you want to list with the agent that suggested that price. That’s a lot of money! However, the market prices your home and buyers resist overpriced homes, I don’t care how low inventory is. If there isn't data to back up the price you're headed down a costly path.



          Telling a seller what we think they want to hear just to win a listing is beyond unprofessional and against the code of ethics. That said, it happens regularly and unfortunately is more prevalent with the current market trends we’re in. For the ethical agents this is frustrating to say the least. We have a responsibility to be honest and provide a realistic market value for the home. It’s not an opportunity to toss an outrageous price against the wall just to win the listing.

          As a seller going with the agent who says they can sell your home for the highest price doesn’t mean you’re making the right decision on who is representing you. Your home is only worth what a buyer is willing to pay. Review the numbers each agent provides and ask them to explain how they arrived at their suggested list price. Agents who are recommending a realistic price will be able to go over every detail to show how they arrived at the price. Think about the cost of your home sitting on the market. I always compare it to stale bread – no one pays top dollar for stale bread. The longer your home sits on the market the less you’re going to sell for. Dropping the price until buyers see the value is a sure way for a seller to leave money on the table.




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            Selling Your Kingstowne Home - 5 Maintenance Items You Need To Do Prior To Listing

            Selling Your Kingstowne Home - 5 Maintenance Items You Need To Do Prior To Listing

            Home buyers are out in full force in the Kingstowne area – hello spring market! If you are going to sell your Kingstowne home this year tackling maintenance items before it goes on the market is key for a successful sale. Check out the below tips to get an idea of the areas you should be focusing on.

            Service The HVAC – it’s guaranteed a home inspector will check the HVAC once your home goes under contract. Have it in tip-top shape before that happens. This is something you should have done twice a year as a homeowner to keep the system in good working order. Having the HVAC serviced before listing your home will not only have it ready for the home inspection it’s a chance for you to know upfront if any repairs are needed. If they are, take care of them prior to listing your home.

            Check The Smoke Detectors – if you didn’t just change the batteries and test them when we went on daylight savings time make sure you do it before you list your home. This is another item a home inspector is guaranteed to check. If your smoke detectors are getting a yellow look to them it’s time for a replacement.

            Deep Clean – this isn’t just your weekly dusting and vacuuming. We’re talking baseboards, molding, cabinets (including the top of them if they don’t go to the ceiling, all appliances, windows, floors, light fixtures, and ceiling fans. Every nook and cranny of your house needs to be cleaned when you’re doing a deep clean. You might want to hire a professional to tackle this task. If you decide to do it yourself break your house up into different sections and focus on one at a time. The details matter for a deep clean.

            Organize The Garage – the garage is an area that becomes a catch-all for many homeowners. It’s also an area that’s frequently overlooked when selling a home. Showing buyers that every area of your home has been maintained is key to getting top dollar. Organize the garage and get rid of clutter. Do the walls have holes or cracks in them? Do they need painting? How does the floor look? Maybe it needs painting too. The garage shouldn’t look like a storage unit and is another area of your house that will need attention prior to going on the market.

            Make The Exterior Shine – the first thing a potential buyer will see is the exterior of your home. Some buyers drive by a home before going for a tour and if it’s not appealing they never come to see the interior. Never underestimate the power of curb appeal. Trim bushes, mulch, clean the gutters, power wash, wash the exterior of the windows, clean the front door, replace the hardware if it’s worn, and look for any areas that need paint or repair.

            Kingstowne home buyers are looking for homes that are well maintained inside and out. It takes time to properly prepare a home to go on the market and an eye for detail. Your investment of time and money towards the maintenance of your home before you go on the market will pay off in the form of strong offers and less time on the market. Have questions about preparing your home for the market? Contact me, Amanda Davidson at 703-431-3755 or amanda@amandadavidson.com. 





            When Your House Is For Sale Declining Showings Is Not A Good Plan

            Declining Showings While Your House Is For Sale Is Not A Good Plan
            When your house goes on the market it’s a time to tap into every ounce of flexibility you have. As a seller, declining showings is a sure way to extend the time your home is on the market, impact your bottom line, and cause yourself more work in the long run. A house that can’t be shown isn’t likely to be sold. It’s currently a seller’s market in the Alexandria area but, that doesn’t mean the necessity to allow showings on your home is erased.


            The thought process that a buyer will just reschedule for another time isn’t a good one. We recently had a listing where the seller was declining about 50% of the showings. If the timing wasn’t just right for the sellers schedule the showing was declined. Reasons varied from I’m working from home on X day or I don’t want to have to wait to come home after work. Of all the showings that were declined only one was rescheduled. ONE! Buyers and their agents have schedules too and by declining a showing request a seller risks losing that buyer. Think about if they have a few homes set up to tour on a certain day. They might fall in love with one of those homes, make an offer, and never have a need to come back to the house that declined their showing request. Some buyers even take a declined showing request as a sign the seller will be difficult to work with and decide it’s best to just move on.

            Having your home on the market is a lot of work. It’s a guarantee your daily routine is going to be interrupted. It requires getting up earlier to clean, make beds, and put away any clutter that landed on tables and counters from the night before. It also requires you to be away from your home even when it’s not convenient to be. It’s best to approve all reasonable showing requests. I say reasonable because there are always those times a call comes in for a showing request with 5 minutes notice – that I can definitely understand not being possible in most cases. However, if the showing instructions have been followed approving the requests is the best plan. As a seller, you’re more likely to go under contract faster and then not have to worry about showing requests. Any request that you decline could have been your homes new buyer but, it’s rare if you’ll ever know because they won’t likely reschedule for another time.

            Going back to the listing we had, it stayed on the market three times longer than any other listing we’ve had in over three years. Because of that, the buyer saw room for negotiation and it ultimately cost the seller on their bottom line. It wasn’t that the home wasn’t nice, it showed beautifully but, if buyers can't get in to see a home they don't know how well it shows in person. Buyers can see a lot online in today’s world and that’s a great thing but, for most, it’s a necessity to get inside a home and walk through it to see if it’s the one. Buyer’s need the opportunity to make that emotional connection that causes them to then want to make an offer. No matter where you live or what the current market conditions are – if you are selling your home approving showing requests is a must. Being flexible with your schedule will pay off!





            5 Tips To Sell A Home With Pets

            5 Tips To Sell A Home With Pets

            Many homeowners have pets and they’re a part of the family. When it’s time to put your home on the market you need to consider that not everyone loves pets. Having your home deep cleaned to remove any pet odors is something you’ll need to do prior to listing your home for sale. You want buyers to see themselves living in your home and that doesn’t include with your pet.

            What should you do when you have pets and it’s time to prepare to sell your home?

            Make Repairs –

            Pet damage isn’t a selling point for your home. Dogs and cats at some point in their lives, no matter how well behaved they are, are going to damage something in your home. Whether it be carpet, hardwood floors, walls, or grass in the yard it’s bound to happen. Repairs need to be completed prior to your home going on the market. Some repairs can be expensive but, correcting them will pay off in the form of an increased bottom line.

            Remove Pet Odors –

            Even the biggest animal lover doesn’t want a home that smells like pets. Your furry friend’s favorite place to lay takes on their scent over time. Accidents also happen and you never want your home to be remembered as the house that smelled bad. One of the top reasons a home buyer will pass on a home is a strong odor. Having your carpets and floors professionally cleaned will in most cases remove the odors. There are some homes that will need to replace the carpet if the odor cannot be removed.

            Cleanup The Yard –

            Pick up any messes that are in your yard. That’s not a surprise any buyer wants if they’re walking in your yard. Look at your yard and see if there are any spots that need new sod laid or damage repaired. Outdoor space is a big selling point for many buyers and because of that, you need to pay equal attention to the yard as you do to the interior of your home.

            Erase Signs You Have A Pet –

            Your pet’s bowls, beds, toys, food, etc. will all need to be put away. Pet accessories are not staging items and look cluttered when left out for photos and showings. Aside from an aesthetics standpoint some buyers do not like pets and in turn, you want to avoid leaving signs out that you have pets in your home. if a buyer asks you’ll need to answer honestly but, you can often avoid the question ever being asked if your pet's belongings are put away.

            Remove Your Pet For Showings –

            If there’s one tip you take away from this post, it needs to be this one. There are far too many risks that come with a pet being left in a home for showings. Buyers and their agents are strangers to your pet and that creates a liability for you. When pets are scared or unsure of what’s happening they act differently. Pets can also get out during a showing and no agent wants to be looking for your pet if they escape. Leaving your pet home during a showing is asking for trouble. If you can’t get home from work to remove them have a neighbor keep them or consider hiring someone to come and remove them from your home before a showing starts. It’s a liability to have a pet in the home during showings and simply not worth the many risks that come with it.

            If you have questions about selling a home with pets reach out to us! 703-988-3151 or amanda@amandadavidson.com






            How To Handle A Low Appraisal

            How To Handle A Low Appraisal

            Low appraisals are a common occurrence in a seller’s market but, they’re a possibility no matter what the current market conditions are. It can be heartbreaking for sellers and buyers when an appraisal comes in low but, it’s important for all parties to remain calm. It’s not a death sentence to the entire deal but, it will take some compromise and working together to get it resolved.

            What are the options when a low appraisal comes in?

            Lowering the price - when an appraisal comes in low the seller can opt to lower the sale price to the appraised value. The seller doesn’t have to opt to lower the price but, it is an option.

            The buyer can make up the difference in cash- the buyer can always put more money down at closing to account for the difference in the appraised value and the agreed upon sale price.

            Compromise – the seller and the buyer can work to find common ground in terms of the seller lowering the price and the buyer bringing more cash to closing to account for the remaining difference. It doesn’t have to be a 50/50 split, it can be any combination as long as both parties are in agreement to the terms.

            Buyer Withdraws – a buyer that has an appraisal contingency in place can withdraw from the contract if the appraisal comes in low. This is last resort as a low appraisal doesn’t mean a lender won’t provide a loan on the home. It just means that they will only provide a loan based off the appraised value and any shortage has to be accounted for in the form of increased cash at closing, a lower sale price, or a combination of the two.

            I don’t know anyone that likes receiving the news of a low appraisal but, it is something that happens from time to time. Weighing the different options to find a win-win for both sides is always possible. It just takes keeping a level head and working as a team to achieve a successful outcome.