Thinking of selling your home in Alexandria’s hot Spring Market? Here’s what you need to know.

Whether you’re relocating to take a new job, retiring to somewhere with warmer weather, getting married and consolidating households — whatever the reason, you may find yourself thinking about moving this spring.

But where to begin? How much will it cost to get your house ready to show? How will you manage to keep it Buyer-ready with your busy schedule? And how much do you need to clear in order to get into your next home? I’ve got all the answers to make this a smooth — and profitable! — home sale process.

Updates and Upgrades

One of the things you might be thinking about is maximizing your sale price through smart upgrades. After all, one of the things that is sure to Wow potential Buyers is a home full of top-of-the-line fixtures and appliances, right?

Well, maybe. In reality, your upgrades should add value so that you can make your money back. The key is to add style and functionality without breaking the bank.

While your idea of upgrades may be gutting the kitchen and adding professional-quality appliances, such an extreme — and expensive — change may not be necessary to get your home sold, and may not make the money you spent back at the closing table. There are many less extreme and more affordable changes you can make that will help.

For example, a smart home update — smart door locks, thermostat, switches and outlets — can be yours for only a few hundred dollars, but plays well in your listing description and can get potential Buyers through the door. And did you know that a new front door has one of the highest returns on investment of any upgrade? These affordable updates are totally doable and can help get your home noticed.

Clean, Repair, and Declutter

One of the things I’ll do before putting your home on the market is walk the property with you and look for small repairs that need to be made and areas that need to be cleaned up. These may be forgotten corners of the outdoor areas, a burned out light, or other areas that need to be attended to. If you’ve kept up with home maintenance over the years you’ve lived there, most of the sprucing up can be done in a weekend or two. If you’re not particularly handy, you may need a repairman to come in for a couple of hours and help out.

At some point we’ll probably talk about decluttering and depersonalizing your space. That means cutting down on some of the decorative elements, clearing the papers off of the fridge, paring down the number of appliances on the kitchen counter, and clearing space on the bathroom vanity.

It will also mean putting away family photos and any other decorative elements in your home that are personal. We’ll do this so that potential Buyers can visualize themselves in your home. Once the home is ready to show, we’ll bring in the photographer and prepare the listing to go live.

The best news? Once you’ve gotten clutter under control, you’ll find that keeping the space straightened and clean will be much easier. Add a few minutes before you leave in the morning to make beds and put dishes in the dishwasher and your home will always be ready to show.

Dollars and Sense

Pricing your home is a function of a number of factors: the home’s size, condition, and features play a role, as well as the current market conditions and comparable listings and sales. We’ll walk through all of the numbers and arrive at the right price.

What constitutes the right price?

  • A price that is too high means your listing can sit on the market without showings. Too many days on market will hurt your ability to get top dollar for your home.
  • A price that is too low means you may be leaving money on the table. If you need the proceeds of your home sale in order to get into your next home, that’s a big problem.
  • The Right Price ensures that your listing generates interest as soon as it hits the market.

One of the things you’ll need to think about before we decide on price is what kind of return you need from the sale of your home. You’ll need to consider the cost of purchasing your next home, including down payment, closing costs, moving expenses, and other costs of relocating.

If you’ll be purchasing a new home, you’ll need a lender. If you’re not already working with one, I am happy to introduce you to a lender who can help you create a plan to bridge the financial gap between the sale of your current home and the purchase of your new home. He or she can also provide you with a pre-approval so that when you find your new home, you’ll be ready to make a strong offer.

Let’s get started!

If you’re planning to list, there’s no time like the present to begin. Let’s sit down and make a plan so that we can get your home sold on a timeline that works for your needs and the needs of your family. Contact me today to schedule a consultation.

Holly@TheHWilliamsGroup.com, 571.242.0338

Best Family Activities in Arlington and Alexandria

Looking for fun outings that the whole family will enjoy? Check out the best of our area.

The struggle is so real — find a place the kids enjoy and the adults are bored (Chuck E. Cheese, I’m looking at you) or find a place the adults enjoy and the kids are miserable. And with summer coming up, visitors on the way, and lots of time to fill while the kids are out of school, you’re looking for some new ideas for those fun family outings. Never fear: as always, I’m here to help! Check out my picks for the best family activities in Arlington and Alexandria.

Arlington

Gravelly Point

If you have a child who gets excited whenever a plane goes by overhead, you must visit Gravelly Point. This small park is situated along the GW Parkway and offers unparalleled views of Reagan National’s runways. Bring a picnic and watch the planes take off and land so close that it feels like you could touch them.

Arlington Public Library

If you haven’t already, check out the incredible services and events offered at one of APL’s many area branches. With everything from an American Girl doll lending program to Paws to Read, pairing children with four-legged reading companions, you’ll find a lot to love. Be sure and sign up for summer reading and kids clubs to get in on the fun.

Long Branch Nature Center

Take your little nature lovers here to see all the up-close-and-personal wildlife their hearts desire. With campfires, classes, storytimes, and expeditions for all ages, there’s always something fun to do here. (And the best part? They won’t even realize they’re learning!)

Netherlands Carillon

If you’re looking for a magical setting for your day out and about, check out the Netherlands Carillon. Bring snacks or a picnic and scope out a spot for the best view of DC you’ll ever find. Enjoy the automated carillon concert each day at noon and 6 p.m., or attend one of the live concerts offered throughout the year. (Protip: This is also a stellar place to watch 4th of July fireworks from without getting into those National Mall crowds.)

Upton Hill Regional Park

For the ultimate day out, Upton Hill has it all. Waterpark, hiking trails, mini-golf, batting cages — you’ll find it all at this massive complex. Bring a picnic and make a day of it — the kids will be begging to come back again.

Public Skate at Kettler Capitals Iceplex

Looking for a break from the heat? Bring the family to a public skating event at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. There’s Family Pick-up Hockey, Free Skating, and Stick-and-Shoot for all ages. And if your little one has a summer birthday, this would make a great beat-the-heat party theme!

Bluemont Park

For a variety of sports and a playground that is a local favorite, Bluemont Park should definitely be on your radar. Beautiful and pastoral, and particularly loved for its wading streams and proximity to the W&OD Trail.

Alexandria

Green Spring Gardens

An amazing park with room to run and gardens designed for kids, Green Spring’s centerpiece is the historic home on site. In addition, the emphasis here is on horticulture and learning opportunities, so you may just want to take home some of your newfound knowledge to create a garden of your own!

Charles Houston Rec Center

Indoor soft play room for rainy days and a pool for the summer, plus open gym for toddlers several days a week. Who could ask for anything more? This Alexandria spot is a favorite with local parents and children, with sports and recreation activities for all ages.

Alexandria Aces Baseball Game

While it’s fun to go to a Nationals Game, there’s nothing like getting close to the action. The Alexandria Aces are a local baseball club made up of collegiate athletes in the area. They play about 20 games a season at Four Mile Run Park and offer the chance to enjoy a little old-fashioned “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” fun.

Water Taxi

With service from the Wharf to the National Mall, Georgetown, and National Harbor, you’ll love taking the Water Taxi instead of fighting the traffic. Bonus? Have fun teaching the kids about the landmarks and memorials you’ll see along the waterway. It’s a whole new way to see DC.

Del Ray First Thursdays

Every first Thursday in the months of April through September, the Del Ray Business Association hosts a street fair along Mt. Vernon Ave. with fun, food, games, music, and more. Bring the kids, bring the pets, and explore Del Ray while giving back to the community — each First Thursday features a local non-profit!

Alexandria’s Birthday

On the Saturday after 4th of July, Alexandrians celebrate the birthday of their city along the waterfront with the Alexandria Symphony and fireworks! Bring a picnic or buy dinner on-site, and don’t forget there’s birthday cake for dessert! It’s a great Alexandria tradition.

Alexandria Historical Scavenger Hunt

Want to get active while learning about Alexandria? A local Eagle Scout, Russ Leggett, partnered with the Alexandria Archaeology Museum to create this fun and interactive scavenger hunt that crisscrosses 20 blocks of Old Town. Get moving!

Huntley Meadows

For some of DC’s most spectacular wildlife watching, you must visit Huntley Meadows. With wetlands, forest, and meadow habitats, you’ll be amazed at all of the creatures you’ll spot. And with a variety of classes and camps available, who knows what lifelong interest in the natural world you’ll spark when you bring the kids to this enchanted place?

 

There are so many fun things to do in the area — things that you just can’t experience anywhere else. I hope to see you soon when you’re out and about, exploring all of these fun spots. If you’re thinking of buying a home in this fantastic part of the DC Metro, let me know! I’d love to help you find the perfect place for you and your family!

Hot Like Fire!

What Makes the Spring Market So Hot?

You’ve heard about it, but here’s why it matters if you’re thinking of selling your home.

If you’ve ever met a real estate agent, you’ll know that they talk about the Spring Market with the kind of anticipation and delight most people reserve for birthdays or holidays. They get a little gleam in their eye when they talk about it, and while it’s happening you’ll probably have a hard time getting them to think about anything else.

 

In our area, the Winter seems to have dragged on and on, making it tough to think about Spring some days. (You may even have seen me interviewed about it here.) But even with the unseasonably chilly weather, the Spring Market arrived just like always. And oh boy, it’s a hot one, with some homes selling over asking price even before their first Open House.

 

If you’ve been putting off listing your home, it’s time to hop to it! Here’s why the Spring Market matters so much for DC-area real estate.

Cabin Fever

One of the reasons that Spring is an exciting time for real estate in Alexandria and the surrounding DC market is the forced hibernation in our area, causing many of us to hunker down indoors. Especially with the late Winter weather, people are itching to get out of their routine and look at some fresh new surroundings. After being cooped up for months, a new home feels like a whole new beginning.

 

In addition, hopeful home Buyers with a green thumb who are currently living in an apartment or condo may be searching for that perfect bit of garden to dig into this Spring and Summer. Others have been dreaming of backyard barbecues. That makes this the perfect time to market homes with desirable outdoor spaces like a yard, patio, deck, or porch.

School Schedules

Home Buyers with children who are still in school begin gearing up their home search this time of year in order to take advantage of the Summer vacation to unpack and adjust to their new surroundings. A Buyer looking now will probably go under contract over the next few weeks, then close right around the time school lets out for the Summer. That means they’ll have plenty of time to get the kids used to their new neighborhood before school begins in the Fall.

 

Because our school calendars trend a little later than many metro areas, there’s still time to take advantage of this important market segment. Getting your home ready to list over the next few weeks will allow you to dazzle them right when they’re ready to buy.

Lack of Inventory

Most major metropolitan markets have been contending with low inventory for several years now, and DC is no exception. The reasons are many: post-2008 home building slowdowns, diminishing labor pools for new construction, and economic and political uncertainty in some areas. That means that with fewer homes on the market, Buyers are ready to snap up desirable properties, sometimes even before they are officially listed.

 

Because the slower Fall and Winter selling season results in an inventory bottleneck, demand is even higher. Now those who didn’t want to deal with Open Houses during the holidays or shoveling snow for Buyer walkthroughs are in a position to be one of the first ones listed in their neighborhood.

More Buyers

Did you know that Millennials make up the largest generation, outnumbering even Baby Boomers? Those number mean that there are more Buyers than ever looking for a home, and you could be one of the lucky Sellers to find yourself in a multiple offer situation. A combination of low inventory and the massive number of Millennials graduating from college, coming of age, and looking for their first home purchase is creating unprecedented demand.

 

In many desirable neighborhoods, in fact, homeowners whose houses aren’t even on the market are getting knocks at their doors from hopeful Buyer Agents. Being first to the market in one of these areas can pay big dividends at the closing table.

 

There’s no time like the present to sell your DC home! Check out my suggestions for getting your home ready to sell, then contact me to get started! We’ll get you geared up and on the market in time to greet those excited Spring Buyers and find you a great new space of your own!

Trendy or Timeless Home Improvements

Home “Improvements” That Aren’t

Make sure your upgrades don’t end up hurting your home’s value.

One of the most heartbreaking things that can happen at an Open House or private showing is walking through a perfectly charming house, envisioning its potential, then walking headlong into a deal-breaker.

 

Maybe it’s shiplap or panelling in the den. Maybe it’s a baby pink bathroom. Maybe it’s wallpaper EVERYWHERE. How about a different paint color and carpet in each room? These are the kinds of “improvements” that probably seemed like a good idea at the time, but now work as time machines, taking you back to an earlier, and uglier, era in home design.

 

For most Buyers, a deal-breaker is an element that is too unattractive to live with and too expensive to fix. Even if the rest of the house is great, the deal-breaker makes everyone turn around and exit — quickly.

 

Whether you are a Buyer deciding what upgrades you’re willing to pay for or a Seller considering some timely updates before you put your home on the market, it’s a good idea to think through some of the current design trends that might become tomorrow’s deal-breakers.

Out-of-sync Styles

Maybe you live in a bungalow but you want a marble bathroom fit for a Queen. You live in a luxury home, but you’re more the down-home, country type. Or perhaps you’re looking at starter homes and find one with super luxe finishes. Anything that is far outside of the norm for the home style and the market probably won’t serve you well financially — it may even make your home less desirable by being out-of-step with the taste of most Buyers.

 

  • If you’re a Seller thinking of adding some updates, make sure they’re in keeping with the style of the home and the local market.
  • If you’re a Buyer, don’t be tempted to pay more for an upgrade that isn’t really adding value.

Over-the-top Upgrades

A backlit, translucent zinc shower wall straight out of Vegas. A gourmet kitchen that would intimidate Martha Stewart. A backyard pool that gives the local water park a run for its money. Gold leaf as far as the eye can see. While all of these no doubt said “fancy” to the homeowners who installed them, they’ll probably turn off most potential buyers. Remember that what works in a magazine or in a luxury hotel or spa may just be too much in a home.

  • If you’re a Seller thinking of adding some luxury upgrades, keep in mind the overall style of your home and your market. Add touches here and there rather than going all-in.
  • If you’re a Buyer, make sure you’re taking into account the maintenance and upkeep required by a mega-upgrade like a pool or gourmet kitchen.

Too Much Theme

Whether it’s a child’s bedroom that looks like a castle, a kitchen that looks like a barn, or a backyard that looks like a fairyland, some homeowners love a theme. Cutesy or chic, too many elements built around a specific theme are off-putting for Buyers and limit the number of people who’ll be interested in the home. And when the theme is in a child’s room or play area, you’ll be surprised how quickly they outgrow it.

 

  • If you’re a Seller thinking of organizing your renovation around a theme, remember that neutral is more appealing and helps you sell faster.
  • If you’re a Buyer tempted by a themed space, think about your life a year from now. Five years from now. Will that theme still be appealing then?

Ultra-Personal Elements

Perhaps you work from home and crave a really fabulous home office instead of the dining room you never use. Maybe you want to convert a spare room into your own designer closet and dressing room. Or perhaps you’re thinking of a Star Wars themed media room renovation for the bonus space. While you’ll no doubt enjoy these unique elements, if you’re thinking of resale you may want to re-think such extreme measures.

 

  • If you’re a Seller, work with your decorator or contractor to create a plan that can be converted back to normal at a later point.
  • If you’re a Buyer, think about how that space will work for you over the next few years. If you plan to have children, for example, that spare room or formal dining room may be more appealing (and necessary) than it is right now.

 

One homeowner’s dream home is another’s deal-breaker. While you want to enjoy your space and make it work for your family, be cautious about design decisions that may undercut your home’s value down the road. Whether you’re a Seller wanting to discuss upgrades that get big returns on investment or a Buyer who wants to discuss comps for your favorite neighborhood, I’m here to help! Contact me today and let’s get started on a plan to make your real estate dreams a reality.

 

Best Family Activities in Arlington and Alexandria

Looking for fun outings that the whole family will enjoy? Check out the best of our area.

The struggle is so real — find a place the kids enjoy and the adults are bored (Chuck E. Cheese, I’m looking at you) or find a place the adults enjoy and the kids are miserable. And with summer coming up, visitors on the way, and lots of time to fill while the kids are out of school, you’re looking for some new ideas for those fun family outings. Never fear: as always, I’m here to help! Check out my picks for the best family activities in Arlington and Alexandria.

Arlington

Gravelly Point

If you have a child who gets excited whenever a plane goes by overhead, you must visit Gravelly Point. This small park is situated along the GW Parkway and offers unparalleled views of Reagan National’s runways. Bring a picnic and watch the planes take off and land so close that it feels like you could touch them.

Arlington Public Library

If you haven’t already, check out the incredible services and events offered at one of APL’s many area branches. With everything from an American Girl doll lending program to Paws to Read, pairing children with four-legged reading companions, you’ll find a lot to love. Be sure and sign up for summer reading and kids clubs to get in on the fun.

Long Branch Nature Center

Take your little nature lovers here to see all the up-close-and-personal wildlife their hearts desire. With campfires, classes, storytimes, and expeditions for all ages, there’s always something fun to do here. (And the best part? They won’t even realize they’re learning!)

Netherlands Carillon

If you’re looking for a magical setting for your day out and about, check out the Netherlands Carillon. Bring snacks or a picnic and scope out a spot for the best view of DC you’ll ever find. Enjoy the automated carillon concert each day at noon and 6 p.m., or attend one of the live concerts offered throughout the year. (Protip: This is also a stellar place to watch 4th of July fireworks from without getting into those National Mall crowds.)

Upton Hill Regional Park

For the ultimate day out, Upton Hill has it all. Waterpark, hiking trails, mini-golf, batting cages — you’ll find it all at this massive complex. Bring a picnic and make a day of it — the kids will be begging to come back again.

Public Skate at Kettler Capitals Iceplex

Looking for a break from the heat? Bring the family to a public skating event at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. There’s Family Pick-up Hockey, Free Skating, and Stick-and-Shoot for all ages. And if your little one has a summer birthday, this would make a great beat-the-heat party theme!

Bluemont Park

For a variety of sports and a playground that is a local favorite, Bluemont Park should definitely be on your radar. Beautiful and pastoral, and particularly loved for its wading streams and proximity to the W&OD Trail.

Alexandria

Green Spring Gardens

An amazing park with room to run and gardens designed for kids, Green Spring’s centerpiece is the historic home on site. In addition, the emphasis here is on horticulture and learning opportunities, so you may just want to take home some of your newfound knowledge to create a garden of your own!

Charles Houston Rec Center

Indoor soft play room for rainy days and a pool for the summer, plus open gym for toddlers several days a week. Who could ask for anything more? This Alexandria spot is a favorite with local parents and children, with sports and recreation activities for all ages.

Alexandria Aces Baseball Game

While it’s fun to go to a Nationals Game, there’s nothing like getting close to the action. The Alexandria Aces are a local baseball club made up of collegiate athletes in the area. They play about 20 games a season at Four Mile Run Park and offer the chance to enjoy a little old-fashioned “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” fun.

Water Taxi

With service from the Wharf to the National Mall, Georgetown, and National Harbor, you’ll love taking the Water Taxi instead of fighting the traffic. Bonus? Have fun teaching the kids about the landmarks and memorials you’ll see along the waterway. It’s a whole new way to see DC.

Del Ray First Thursdays

Every first Thursday in the months of April through September, the Del Ray Business Association hosts a street fair along Mt. Vernon Ave. with fun, food, games, music, and more. Bring the kids, bring the pets, and explore Del Ray while giving back to the community — each First Thursday features a local non-profit!

Alexandria’s Birthday

On the Saturday after 4th of July, Alexandrians celebrate the birthday of their city along the waterfront with the Alexandria Symphony and fireworks! Bring a picnic or buy dinner on-site, and don’t forget there’s birthday cake for dessert! It’s a great Alexandria tradition.

Alexandria Historical Scavenger Hunt

Want to get active while learning about Alexandria? A local Eagle Scout, Russ Leggett, partnered with the Alexandria Archaeology Museum to create this fun and interactive scavenger hunt that crisscrosses 20 blocks of Old Town. Get moving!

Huntley Meadows

For some of DC’s most spectacular wildlife watching, you must visit Huntley Meadows. With wetlands, forest, and meadow habitats, you’ll be amazed at all of the creatures you’ll spot. And with a variety of classes and camps available, who knows what lifelong interest in the natural world you’ll spark when you bring the kids to this enchanted place?

 

There are so many fun things to do in the area — things that you just can’t experience anywhere else. I hope to see you soon when you’re out and about, exploring all of these fun spots. If you’re thinking of buying a home in this fantastic part of the DC Metro, let me know! I’d love to help you find the perfect place for you and your family!

Hot Like Fire!

What Makes the Spring Market So Hot?

You’ve heard about it, but here’s why it matters if you’re thinking of selling your home.

If you’ve ever met a real estate agent, you’ll know that they talk about the Spring Market with the kind of anticipation and delight most people reserve for birthdays or holidays. They get a little gleam in their eye when they talk about it, and while it’s happening you’ll probably have a hard time getting them to think about anything else.

 

In our area, the Winter seems to have dragged on and on, making it tough to think about Spring some days. (You may even have seen me interviewed about it here.) But even with the unseasonably chilly weather, the Spring Market arrived just like always. And oh boy, it’s a hot one, with some homes selling over asking price even before their first Open House.

 

If you’ve been putting off listing your home, it’s time to hop to it! Here’s why the Spring Market matters so much for DC-area real estate.

Cabin Fever

One of the reasons that Spring is an exciting time for real estate in Alexandria and the surrounding DC market is the forced hibernation in our area, causing many of us to hunker down indoors. Especially with the late Winter weather, people are itching to get out of their routine and look at some fresh new surroundings. After being cooped up for months, a new home feels like a whole new beginning.

 

In addition, hopeful home Buyers with a green thumb who are currently living in an apartment or condo may be searching for that perfect bit of garden to dig into this Spring and Summer. Others have been dreaming of backyard barbecues. That makes this the perfect time to market homes with desirable outdoor spaces like a yard, patio, deck, or porch.

School Schedules

Home Buyers with children who are still in school begin gearing up their home search this time of year in order to take advantage of the Summer vacation to unpack and adjust to their new surroundings. A Buyer looking now will probably go under contract over the next few weeks, then close right around the time school lets out for the Summer. That means they’ll have plenty of time to get the kids used to their new neighborhood before school begins in the Fall.

 

Because our school calendars trend a little later than many metro areas, there’s still time to take advantage of this important market segment. Getting your home ready to list over the next few weeks will allow you to dazzle them right when they’re ready to buy.

Lack of Inventory

Most major metropolitan markets have been contending with low inventory for several years now, and DC is no exception. The reasons are many: post-2008 home building slowdowns, diminishing labor pools for new construction, and economic and political uncertainty in some areas. That means that with fewer homes on the market, Buyers are ready to snap up desirable properties, sometimes even before they are officially listed.

 

Because the slower Fall and Winter selling season results in an inventory bottleneck, demand is even higher. Now those who didn’t want to deal with Open Houses during the holidays or shoveling snow for Buyer walkthroughs are in a position to be one of the first ones listed in their neighborhood.

More Buyers

Did you know that Millennials make up the largest generation, outnumbering even Baby Boomers? Those number mean that there are more Buyers than ever looking for a home, and you could be one of the lucky Sellers to find yourself in a multiple offer situation. A combination of low inventory and the massive number of Millennials graduating from college, coming of age, and looking for their first home purchase is creating unprecedented demand.

 

In many desirable neighborhoods, in fact, homeowners whose houses aren’t even on the market are getting knocks at their doors from hopeful Buyer Agents. Being first to the market in one of these areas can pay big dividends at the closing table.

 

There’s no time like the present to sell your DC home! Check out my suggestions for getting your home ready to sell, then contact me to get started! We’ll get you geared up and on the market in time to greet those excited Spring Buyers and find you a great new space of your own!

Trendy or Timeless Home Improvements

Home “Improvements” That Aren’t

Make sure your upgrades don’t end up hurting your home’s value.

One of the most heartbreaking things that can happen at an Open House or private showing is walking through a perfectly charming house, envisioning its potential, then walking headlong into a deal-breaker.

 

Maybe it’s shiplap or panelling in the den. Maybe it’s a baby pink bathroom. Maybe it’s wallpaper EVERYWHERE. How about a different paint color and carpet in each room? These are the kinds of “improvements” that probably seemed like a good idea at the time, but now work as time machines, taking you back to an earlier, and uglier, era in home design.

 

For most Buyers, a deal-breaker is an element that is too unattractive to live with and too expensive to fix. Even if the rest of the house is great, the deal-breaker makes everyone turn around and exit — quickly.

 

Whether you are a Buyer deciding what upgrades you’re willing to pay for or a Seller considering some timely updates before you put your home on the market, it’s a good idea to think through some of the current design trends that might become tomorrow’s deal-breakers.

Out-of-sync Styles

Maybe you live in a bungalow but you want a marble bathroom fit for a Queen. You live in a luxury home, but you’re more the down-home, country type. Or perhaps you’re looking at starter homes and find one with super luxe finishes. Anything that is far outside of the norm for the home style and the market probably won’t serve you well financially — it may even make your home less desirable by being out-of-step with the taste of most Buyers.

 

  • If you’re a Seller thinking of adding some updates, make sure they’re in keeping with the style of the home and the local market.
  • If you’re a Buyer, don’t be tempted to pay more for an upgrade that isn’t really adding value.

Over-the-top Upgrades

A backlit, translucent zinc shower wall straight out of Vegas. A gourmet kitchen that would intimidate Martha Stewart. A backyard pool that gives the local water park a run for its money. Gold leaf as far as the eye can see. While all of these no doubt said “fancy” to the homeowners who installed them, they’ll probably turn off most potential buyers. Remember that what works in a magazine or in a luxury hotel or spa may just be too much in a home.

  • If you’re a Seller thinking of adding some luxury upgrades, keep in mind the overall style of your home and your market. Add touches here and there rather than going all-in.
  • If you’re a Buyer, make sure you’re taking into account the maintenance and upkeep required by a mega-upgrade like a pool or gourmet kitchen.

Too Much Theme

Whether it’s a child’s bedroom that looks like a castle, a kitchen that looks like a barn, or a backyard that looks like a fairyland, some homeowners love a theme. Cutesy or chic, too many elements built around a specific theme are off-putting for Buyers and limit the number of people who’ll be interested in the home. And when the theme is in a child’s room or play area, you’ll be surprised how quickly they outgrow it.

 

  • If you’re a Seller thinking of organizing your renovation around a theme, remember that neutral is more appealing and helps you sell faster.
  • If you’re a Buyer tempted by a themed space, think about your life a year from now. Five years from now. Will that theme still be appealing then?

Ultra-Personal Elements

Perhaps you work from home and crave a really fabulous home office instead of the dining room you never use. Maybe you want to convert a spare room into your own designer closet and dressing room. Or perhaps you’re thinking of a Star Wars themed media room renovation for the bonus space. While you’ll no doubt enjoy these unique elements, if you’re thinking of resale you may want to re-think such extreme measures.

 

  • If you’re a Seller, work with your decorator or contractor to create a plan that can be converted back to normal at a later point.
  • If you’re a Buyer, think about how that space will work for you over the next few years. If you plan to have children, for example, that spare room or formal dining room may be more appealing (and necessary) than it is right now.

 

One homeowner’s dream home is another’s deal-breaker. While you want to enjoy your space and make it work for your family, be cautious about design decisions that may undercut your home’s value down the road. Whether you’re a Seller wanting to discuss upgrades that get big returns on investment or a Buyer who wants to discuss comps for your favorite neighborhood, I’m here to help! Contact me today and let’s get started on a plan to make your real estate dreams a reality.

 

Best Family Activities in Arlington and Alexandria

Looking for fun outings that the whole family will enjoy? Check out the best of our area.

The struggle is so real — find a place the kids enjoy and the adults are bored (Chuck E. Cheese, I’m looking at you) or find a place the adults enjoy and the kids are miserable. And with summer coming up, visitors on the way, and lots of time to fill while the kids are out of school, you’re looking for some new ideas for those fun family outings. Never fear: as always, I’m here to help! Check out my picks for the best family activities in Arlington and Alexandria.

Arlington

Gravelly Point

If you have a child who gets excited whenever a plane goes by overhead, you must visit Gravelly Point. This small park is situated along the GW Parkway and offers unparalleled views of Reagan National’s runways. Bring a picnic and watch the planes take off and land so close that it feels like you could touch them.

Arlington Public Library

If you haven’t already, check out the incredible services and events offered at one of APL’s many area branches. With everything from an American Girl doll lending program to Paws to Read, pairing children with four-legged reading companions, you’ll find a lot to love. Be sure and sign up for summer reading and kids clubs to get in on the fun.

Long Branch Nature Center

Take your little nature lovers here to see all the up-close-and-personal wildlife their hearts desire. With campfires, classes, storytimes, and expeditions for all ages, there’s always something fun to do here. (And the best part? They won’t even realize they’re learning!)

Netherlands Carillon

If you’re looking for a magical setting for your day out and about, check out the Netherlands Carillon. Bring snacks or a picnic and scope out a spot for the best view of DC you’ll ever find. Enjoy the automated carillon concert each day at noon and 6 p.m., or attend one of the live concerts offered throughout the year. (Protip: This is also a stellar place to watch 4th of July fireworks from without getting into those National Mall crowds.)

Upton Hill Regional Park

For the ultimate day out, Upton Hill has it all. Waterpark, hiking trails, mini-golf, batting cages — you’ll find it all at this massive complex. Bring a picnic and make a day of it — the kids will be begging to come back again.

Public Skate at Kettler Capitals Iceplex

Looking for a break from the heat? Bring the family to a public skating event at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. There’s Family Pick-up Hockey, Free Skating, and Stick-and-Shoot for all ages. And if your little one has a summer birthday, this would make a great beat-the-heat party theme!

Bluemont Park

For a variety of sports and a playground that is a local favorite, Bluemont Park should definitely be on your radar. Beautiful and pastoral, and particularly loved for its wading streams and proximity to the W&OD Trail.

Alexandria

Green Spring Gardens

An amazing park with room to run and gardens designed for kids, Green Spring’s centerpiece is the historic home on site. In addition, the emphasis here is on horticulture and learning opportunities, so you may just want to take home some of your newfound knowledge to create a garden of your own!

Charles Houston Rec Center

Indoor soft play room for rainy days and a pool for the summer, plus open gym for toddlers several days a week. Who could ask for anything more? This Alexandria spot is a favorite with local parents and children, with sports and recreation activities for all ages.

Alexandria Aces Baseball Game

While it’s fun to go to a Nationals Game, there’s nothing like getting close to the action. The Alexandria Aces are a local baseball club made up of collegiate athletes in the area. They play about 20 games a season at Four Mile Run Park and offer the chance to enjoy a little old-fashioned “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” fun.

Water Taxi

With service from the Wharf to the National Mall, Georgetown, and National Harbor, you’ll love taking the Water Taxi instead of fighting the traffic. Bonus? Have fun teaching the kids about the landmarks and memorials you’ll see along the waterway. It’s a whole new way to see DC.

Del Ray First Thursdays

Every first Thursday in the months of April through September, the Del Ray Business Association hosts a street fair along Mt. Vernon Ave. with fun, food, games, music, and more. Bring the kids, bring the pets, and explore Del Ray while giving back to the community — each First Thursday features a local non-profit!

Alexandria’s Birthday

On the Saturday after 4th of July, Alexandrians celebrate the birthday of their city along the waterfront with the Alexandria Symphony and fireworks! Bring a picnic or buy dinner on-site, and don’t forget there’s birthday cake for dessert! It’s a great Alexandria tradition.

Alexandria Historical Scavenger Hunt

Want to get active while learning about Alexandria? A local Eagle Scout, Russ Leggett, partnered with the Alexandria Archaeology Museum to create this fun and interactive scavenger hunt that crisscrosses 20 blocks of Old Town. Get moving!

Huntley Meadows

For some of DC’s most spectacular wildlife watching, you must visit Huntley Meadows. With wetlands, forest, and meadow habitats, you’ll be amazed at all of the creatures you’ll spot. And with a variety of classes and camps available, who knows what lifelong interest in the natural world you’ll spark when you bring the kids to this enchanted place?

 

There are so many fun things to do in the area — things that you just can’t experience anywhere else. I hope to see you soon when you’re out and about, exploring all of these fun spots. If you’re thinking of buying a home in this fantastic part of the DC Metro, let me know! I’d love to help you find the perfect place for you and your family!

Hot Like Fire!

What Makes the Spring Market So Hot?

You’ve heard about it, but here’s why it matters if you’re thinking of selling your home.

If you’ve ever met a real estate agent, you’ll know that they talk about the Spring Market with the kind of anticipation and delight most people reserve for birthdays or holidays. They get a little gleam in their eye when they talk about it, and while it’s happening you’ll probably have a hard time getting them to think about anything else.

 

In our area, the Winter seems to have dragged on and on, making it tough to think about Spring some days. (You may even have seen me interviewed about it here.) But even with the unseasonably chilly weather, the Spring Market arrived just like always. And oh boy, it’s a hot one, with some homes selling over asking price even before their first Open House.

 

If you’ve been putting off listing your home, it’s time to hop to it! Here’s why the Spring Market matters so much for DC-area real estate.

Cabin Fever

One of the reasons that Spring is an exciting time for real estate in Alexandria and the surrounding DC market is the forced hibernation in our area, causing many of us to hunker down indoors. Especially with the late Winter weather, people are itching to get out of their routine and look at some fresh new surroundings. After being cooped up for months, a new home feels like a whole new beginning.

 

In addition, hopeful home Buyers with a green thumb who are currently living in an apartment or condo may be searching for that perfect bit of garden to dig into this Spring and Summer. Others have been dreaming of backyard barbecues. That makes this the perfect time to market homes with desirable outdoor spaces like a yard, patio, deck, or porch.

School Schedules

Home Buyers with children who are still in school begin gearing up their home search this time of year in order to take advantage of the Summer vacation to unpack and adjust to their new surroundings. A Buyer looking now will probably go under contract over the next few weeks, then close right around the time school lets out for the Summer. That means they’ll have plenty of time to get the kids used to their new neighborhood before school begins in the Fall.

 

Because our school calendars trend a little later than many metro areas, there’s still time to take advantage of this important market segment. Getting your home ready to list over the next few weeks will allow you to dazzle them right when they’re ready to buy.

Lack of Inventory

Most major metropolitan markets have been contending with low inventory for several years now, and DC is no exception. The reasons are many: post-2008 home building slowdowns, diminishing labor pools for new construction, and economic and political uncertainty in some areas. That means that with fewer homes on the market, Buyers are ready to snap up desirable properties, sometimes even before they are officially listed.

 

Because the slower Fall and Winter selling season results in an inventory bottleneck, demand is even higher. Now those who didn’t want to deal with Open Houses during the holidays or shoveling snow for Buyer walkthroughs are in a position to be one of the first ones listed in their neighborhood.

More Buyers

Did you know that Millennials make up the largest generation, outnumbering even Baby Boomers? Those number mean that there are more Buyers than ever looking for a home, and you could be one of the lucky Sellers to find yourself in a multiple offer situation. A combination of low inventory and the massive number of Millennials graduating from college, coming of age, and looking for their first home purchase is creating unprecedented demand.

 

In many desirable neighborhoods, in fact, homeowners whose houses aren’t even on the market are getting knocks at their doors from hopeful Buyer Agents. Being first to the market in one of these areas can pay big dividends at the closing table.

 

There’s no time like the present to sell your DC home! Check out my suggestions for getting your home ready to sell, then contact me to get started! We’ll get you geared up and on the market in time to greet those excited Spring Buyers and find you a great new space of your own!

Trendy or Timeless Home Improvements

Home “Improvements” That Aren’t

Make sure your upgrades don’t end up hurting your home’s value.

One of the most heartbreaking things that can happen at an Open House or private showing is walking through a perfectly charming house, envisioning its potential, then walking headlong into a deal-breaker.

 

Maybe it’s shiplap or panelling in the den. Maybe it’s a baby pink bathroom. Maybe it’s wallpaper EVERYWHERE. How about a different paint color and carpet in each room? These are the kinds of “improvements” that probably seemed like a good idea at the time, but now work as time machines, taking you back to an earlier, and uglier, era in home design.

 

For most Buyers, a deal-breaker is an element that is too unattractive to live with and too expensive to fix. Even if the rest of the house is great, the deal-breaker makes everyone turn around and exit — quickly.

 

Whether you are a Buyer deciding what upgrades you’re willing to pay for or a Seller considering some timely updates before you put your home on the market, it’s a good idea to think through some of the current design trends that might become tomorrow’s deal-breakers.

Out-of-sync Styles

Maybe you live in a bungalow but you want a marble bathroom fit for a Queen. You live in a luxury home, but you’re more the down-home, country type. Or perhaps you’re looking at starter homes and find one with super luxe finishes. Anything that is far outside of the norm for the home style and the market probably won’t serve you well financially — it may even make your home less desirable by being out-of-step with the taste of most Buyers.

 

  • If you’re a Seller thinking of adding some updates, make sure they’re in keeping with the style of the home and the local market.
  • If you’re a Buyer, don’t be tempted to pay more for an upgrade that isn’t really adding value.

Over-the-top Upgrades

A backlit, translucent zinc shower wall straight out of Vegas. A gourmet kitchen that would intimidate Martha Stewart. A backyard pool that gives the local water park a run for its money. Gold leaf as far as the eye can see. While all of these no doubt said “fancy” to the homeowners who installed them, they’ll probably turn off most potential buyers. Remember that what works in a magazine or in a luxury hotel or spa may just be too much in a home.

  • If you’re a Seller thinking of adding some luxury upgrades, keep in mind the overall style of your home and your market. Add touches here and there rather than going all-in.
  • If you’re a Buyer, make sure you’re taking into account the maintenance and upkeep required by a mega-upgrade like a pool or gourmet kitchen.

Too Much Theme

Whether it’s a child’s bedroom that looks like a castle, a kitchen that looks like a barn, or a backyard that looks like a fairyland, some homeowners love a theme. Cutesy or chic, too many elements built around a specific theme are off-putting for Buyers and limit the number of people who’ll be interested in the home. And when the theme is in a child’s room or play area, you’ll be surprised how quickly they outgrow it.

 

  • If you’re a Seller thinking of organizing your renovation around a theme, remember that neutral is more appealing and helps you sell faster.
  • If you’re a Buyer tempted by a themed space, think about your life a year from now. Five years from now. Will that theme still be appealing then?

Ultra-Personal Elements

Perhaps you work from home and crave a really fabulous home office instead of the dining room you never use. Maybe you want to convert a spare room into your own designer closet and dressing room. Or perhaps you’re thinking of a Star Wars themed media room renovation for the bonus space. While you’ll no doubt enjoy these unique elements, if you’re thinking of resale you may want to re-think such extreme measures.

 

  • If you’re a Seller, work with your decorator or contractor to create a plan that can be converted back to normal at a later point.
  • If you’re a Buyer, think about how that space will work for you over the next few years. If you plan to have children, for example, that spare room or formal dining room may be more appealing (and necessary) than it is right now.

 

One homeowner’s dream home is another’s deal-breaker. While you want to enjoy your space and make it work for your family, be cautious about design decisions that may undercut your home’s value down the road. Whether you’re a Seller wanting to discuss upgrades that get big returns on investment or a Buyer who wants to discuss comps for your favorite neighborhood, I’m here to help! Contact me today and let’s get started on a plan to make your real estate dreams a reality.