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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      What Does The New Tax Bill Mean For Homeowners, Buyers, and Sellers?

      What Does The New Tax Bill Mean For Homeowners, Buyers, and Sellers?

      Many homeowners, buyers, and sellers are wondering how the tax reform legislation that passed in December is going to impact them. As with most things in real estate – it depends. There are several items in the bill that affect the housing market. Below is an overview of what it means for homeowners, buyers, and sellers.

      Mortgage Interest Deduction – through the end of 2025 new home buyers will only be able to deduct interest on the first $750,000 of a mortgage. This is a decrease from $1 million. The deduction cap will revert to $1 million in loan value in 2026. This has no impact on EXISTING mortgages – only new home buyers. It’s important to remember that these are loan amounts and not sale prices.

      Home Equity Loan Interest Deduction – the new bill suspends the interest deduction on home equity loans until 2026. This is a change from deductions being allowed for loans up to $100,000. That said, there is a caveat – interest on a home equity loan can be deducted if the proceeds are used to substantially improve the home.

      State and Local Property Taxes with the new legislation the property tax deduction is limited to $10,000. There was previously no cap. ATTOM Data Solutions estimates that approximately 90,000 households will be impacted by this change in the DMV area.

      Capital Gains – no change, the deduction for up to $500,000 for joint filers or $250,000 for single filers from selling a primary home remains. The requirement that the home was the filer(s) primary residence for at least two of the last five years also remains.

      Moving Expenses the new legislation eliminates the deduction with the exception of members of the Military.

      Estate Tax – the estate tax exemption is doubled to $11.2 million under the new law.

      What Does This Mean For The Housing Market? 
      We think that there could be a temporary slow down simply because everyone is digesting the changes and processing them. We do not anticipate the new legislation to have a significant affect on the housing market. If you are considering buying or selling and have questions about what the changes mean to you personally reach out to us. We've been watching this bill intently and are always happy to help. If you have tax questions in general, we know a great CPA!





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        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 





              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!





              A Little Kindness Goes A Long Way

              A Little Kindness Goes A Long Way
              In many areas the market is tight – low inventory, multiple offers, and rising interest rates
              put the pressure on buyers, sellers, and agents. When the pressure is on it’s important to remember to remain calm and kind. No matter what the market conditions are bad behavior has no place in a real estate transaction.

              As I reflect on the first quarter of 2018 and analyze its challenges a lack of kindness and respect stands out most. Everyone deserves both kindness and respect. Egos, attitudes, and demands do nothing but, raise tensions. They do not accomplish anything positive. Buying or selling a home is a marathon, not a sprint and it takes patience from all parties involved. I understand buyers and sellers getting stressed and acting emotionally but, I do not understand real estate agents that take that path. An agents emotions should never enter a real estate contract – NEVER.

              There’s been a consistent flow of agents threatening, cursing, and making demands that aren’t reasonable. An example being submitting an offer on a listing and demanding my sellers respond within hours and accept the offer because they don’t want their buyer in a bidding war. On the opposite side when assisting buyers the listing agent who doesn’t return calls, texts, or emails can be a challenge as well. The current seller’s market won’t last forever but, the impression agents leave will. It’s a very small world and if there’s one thing we all remember it’s how people treat us. I often wonder if buyers and sellers know how their agent acts. Our clients deserve our absolute best at all times and that includes interaction with other agents.


              Agent relationships are an important part of this business. That applies no matter what the market conditions are but, I think it makes an even bigger impact when the market is tight. A healthy and productive relationship with other agents only helps our clients. No one wants to work with a bully agent. While we represent different parties in the transaction we share the goal of getting both sides to closing with terms and conditions that are a win-win for the buyer and the seller.


              As agents we can’t let stress get to us. No matter how much stress we’re feeling we should always treat others how we would like to be treated. A little kindness goes a long way.


              It's A Seller's Market and Then Some

              It’s A Seller’s Market and Then Some

              I had a call from an agent who showed one of my listings the first day it came on the market. She was calling to inquire about its availability and I let her know we already had an offer, were expecting one more and had a full day of showings scheduled. We had a good conversation and she planned to call her buyers and then get back to me.

              Fast forward to the next day, she called back and said her buyers think I’m not being honest about having an offer. Citing that there’s just no way an offer came in on the first day the home was on the market. We had another long talk and I really felt for her because she knew I wasn’t lying and what the market is currently doing but, from what she shared these buyers thought every agent was lying about having offers and even when a home would then go under contract within a couple days of her passing the information along to them they still didn’t believe it.

              If you’re buying a home in the current market know this – it’s a seller’s market and then some. Homes that are priced correctly, have a reasonable amount of updates, and show well are not only moving quickly they’re moving in a matter of days and that’s no lie. Her clients decided not to write and told her that they thought the home would still be on a market in a week and they’d make an offer then so that they could negotiate. Needless to say, the house was on the market for 5 days and half of that was time spent negotiating due to the 6 offers that came in. The sellers selected an offer that carried very little risk for them and the rest is history.



              The agent’s buyers took it upon themselves to go knock on the door of my listing. They questioned the sellers about receiving multiple offers and then proceeded to try to “cut a deal” with them. My sellers set the record straight and confirmed everything that was shared with them was the truth and under no certain circumstances would they be cutting any deals – they had an offer they were extremely pleased with. My clients weren’t thrilled that these buyers had come right to their home to ask questions but, thankfully understood that their agent and I had no idea they would do that.


              If her buyers aren’t able to come to terms with the current market conditions they simply aren’t going to be successful in purchasing a home and that’s the case for any buyers who think it’s not a seller’s market. With the right pre-marketing and presentation, sellers are in the driver’s seat when they list their home. As a buyer be prepared to make an offer quickly and put your very best foot forward right from the start.