Category Archive

Contract to Close in Six and a Half Months

Contract to Close in Six and a Half Months

It is always an honor to help someone who has known me my entire life buy or sell a home. In the case of my buyers who just purchased a brand new home in Carter’s Mill in Haymarket, one of them was actually my fill-in babysitter when I was a kid. When his sister wasn’t able to fulfill the duties, it was up to him. The giant age difference as kids to teens means nothing in land of fifty plus years.

He and his wife reached out to me in February. His mother had moved in with them and was having a hard time with the stairs in their home. While he had planned to retire and sell his home a couple years ago, mom moving in with them put the new retirement home in a different place. Retiring at the beach wasn’t fair to mom, taking her away from all that was familiar and her daughter. So they started looking for a home in the active adult communities in Western Prince William County. It didn’t take but a couple home tours for them to identify that they really preferred a new home and the location of Carter’s Mill, a Del Webb/Pulte community off of John Marshall Highway.

They went under contract to purchase their Carter’s Mill home in early March. They fully expected to be moving in at the end of the year. Pulte got the job done quicker than anticipated and today, they closed on their brand new home before the end of September. Everything they need is on one level and they have a fully finished, walk out basement as well. Pulte built them a great composite deck and were still tweaking the details midday today to make sure my buyers were one hundred percent satisfied.

One thing that my buyers were so happy they did was to hire home inspectors for both a pre-drywall inspection and final inspection before closing. And the great thing I noticed was that Pulte was not put off by this at all. Their construction manager welcomed it, went over the home inspection report and corrected issues found. It was never a sore spot for the builder, but a chance for them to rise to the occasion and continue to make my buyers happy.

For anyone looking for fifty-five plus communities in Western Prince William County, I would definitely consider Carter’s Mill. If you want representation while buying, feel free to reach out.

Just Sold in Bristow’s Active Adult Community of Dunbarton

13248 Ormond Drive in Bristow Sold on April 28, 2022

Just Sold in Bristow’s Active Adult Community of Dunbarton

It was my pleasure to introduce 13248 Ormond Drive to the market on April 1st. The seller and I had looked carefully over the market comps and decided that the appropriate list price for the home was $599,000. We also discussed preparing the home for market. Not a fun chore for any seller, even if it just amounts to writing checks to painters and cleaners. There is a great deal of emotional weight in getting your home ready for the market.

After our listing appointment, the seller understood what was needed to get the house ready for market. It didn’t take long for the home to be painted, cleaned and for the seller to be completely out. Sometimes having a home vacant during marketing is preferrable. When that happens, I jump to action with light staging to warm the home up.

Setting up a staging bed and lighting brings a bedroom to life.

With the home staged, it was time for professional photography and then marketing to include more than filling in fields in the MLS. In addition to a gorgeous virtual tour, the property was featured in an online brochure and my blog. After only two days on the market and one very strong offer, the home was under contract. It didn’t take multiple offers to get above the high water mark the seller and I had anticipated.

The seller was able to get an offer with no contingencies at all. No home inspection. No financing contingency. No appraisal contingency. It was smooth sailing to the finish line. Today, it sold for $641,000. That’s $42,000 above list price with one offer.

When the time comes to list your home, get in touch for a confidential market analysis. No matter the market conditions, you will receive the proper listing preparation advice and professional marketing that will take you to the top of the market.

Under Contract in Dunbarton

13248 Ormond Drive in Bristow, VA Listed on April 1, 2022 for $599,000

Under Contract in Dunbarton

Looking back on my recent posts here on ChrisAnnCleland.com , I was searching for the post that mentioned this expansive, single family detached home at 13248 Ormond Drive as either Coming Soon or Just Listed. Seems that things have been hectic enough that is was shared only through a link of the virtual tour via my Facebook page.

Ask a seller who hears the tales of way above list price sales in low single digit days about how difficult a listing agent’s job is in a seller’s market and they are likely to default to thinking it isn’t difficult at all. The mistake many sellers make is thinking that a listing agent’s job is measure solely on days on the market or whether a home sold above list price. There is so much more to this job when it comes to properly representing the interests of a seller. And a seller’s market doesn’t make it easier. On the contrary, sometimes it makes the job more difficult.

While in Coming Soon status, this active adult home in Dunbarton had plenty of interest just gearing up for the home to hit the market. In fact, the day before it went Active and was available for showings, a buyer’s agent called and asked if they could submit a sight unseen offer. There are a multitude of reasons why a sight unseen offer may not be the best answer, not the least of which is likely a buyer’s agent arguing that their buyer-clients lose in multiple offer situations. To me, that sounds like hitting the open market is a case for making more money.

Family Room/Breakfast Nook as Viewed from Loft

What I didn’t see coming was the two other homes that became available in Dunbarton that quelled activity on 13248 Ormond. One was larger, with a finished basement, listed $50,000 less. That’s a problem. However, in speaking with the listing agent there, it seemed all the buyer enthusiasm was behind hers with a finished basement vs. having a loft and backyard. That agent was rolling in offers, which also told her she had under priced the home. What does that mean to buyers who haven’t talked to that competing listing agent, professional to professional? It means buyers would think my gorgeous listing would seem over priced. Understanding market perception is critical when listing in any type of market condition. Sellers can over price in a seller’s market. Mine didn’t, but if buyers thought she did, well, the offers would be lower.

Meanwhile, the elbow grease that went in to prepping this home for market was no different than any other market. Even when I thought I would be the only listing in the neighborhood, I was doing light staging and ordering professional photos. Why? It increases the seller’s bottom line, even in a seller’s market. That all important buyer enthusiasm matters.

Light staging in a kitchen is always a way to increase buyer enthusiasm

Making sure that pre-wired speakers and TV mounts were not eye sores, I was busy fluffing. I even neatened up what was already in place from wiping down a shower, replacing light bulbs, coiling an exterior hose or placing patio chairs. The home showed absolutely perfect. Even the agent that hosted an open house was impressed.

Bearing in mind the scrum going on at the under priced basement home on an extended offer deadline, when my seller got an offer that was higher than what my highest hope for her home had been, she was quick to act and accept the one fantastic offer she had. If not, she would be facing the lost buyers that felt they were competing for more home at a lower price elsewhere. Those buyers don’t swing very hard. This Dunbarton beauty was under contract in two days.

Stay tuned for the final sold price. It will be impressive. In the meantime, if you have been considering the sale of your home, in Dunbarton or elsewhere, get in touch for your own confidential consultation. I am well versed in the market forces and perception that will be at work when you list. A seller’s market is not a guarantee of a sky high offer, or even multiple offers. The highest rewards go to those who prepare and create buyer enthusiasm. That is the name of the game no matter the market.

Time for the Annual Move

Time for the Annual Move

My mother has a saying. “Moving is like dying and going to hell.” Certainly, no one looks forward to packing their belongings, hauling them to another location, unpacking them and trying to recreate the organization they had where they came from. As a real estate agent, everyone of my clients is leading up to a move, outside of investors selling or buying rental property. While the majority of them are looking forward to a new chapter in their next home, some are moving not out of want, but out of necessity. This has been my life with my mother for the past five years. Take the stress of moving and combine it with emotionally draining circumstances and you can feel like someone is bludgeoning you from the inside out.

The Move of 2018: It all started with the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s dementia, which came one or two years earlier. Mom was slowly losing ground with her memory. She would get anxious in the car at night, not knowing where she was. She seemed to have trouble keeping new memories and blamed it on getting old. Finally, my brother revealed, mom had called him because she didn’t know her way home from the store. We weren’t convinced mom was okay to be alone anymore and it took us two years, and taking her car from her, to convince her to move to Ashby Ponds in Ashburn. She started in Independent Living. At that point in time, she could still do most things for herself. That was Halloween, 2018.

The Move of 2019: After starting a new life in Ashby Ponds, the depth of mom’s day to day trouble functioning was revealed. A move to such a big community was a lot for my mom. Had we moved her there five years earlier, she may have been able to stay in Independent Living longer and enjoy all the community had to offer. Instead, after a several month attempt at having once daily help with her evening routine, the move to the smaller world of Assisted Living happened in September.

The Move of 2020: Mom thrived in Assisted Living. She really did well there…until the pandemic shut down all socialization and group dining in March. Mom went downhill cognitively as if she was heading downhill from the top of a rollercoaster. And she wasn’t the only one. Residents were like pound puppies, left to live in their small apartments and dine alone. Attempts at video chats didn’t fill the void. And not seeing anyone’s facial expressions due to the masks made reading non-verbal cues hard. Her exit seeking behavior and anxiety made the decision easy. It was off to Memory Care that October.

The Move of 2021: Memory Care was a tough pill to swallow, but necessary at the time. Again, mom found her stride and thrived there. Then, late on the evening of June 29th, mom was roaming the halls anxiously looking for my deceased father and fell. She broke her hip. What started as a short-term physical therapy/convalescence stay in the Post Acute floor of Ashby Ponds, turned into an August move to her hospital room there. She had developed wounds on her heels and required more nursing care than Memory Care would allow. Then, just as I felt like the annual moves were over…

The Move of 2022: Mom has healed enough physically to go back to Memory Care. Believe it or not, this may be the happiest move we have had of all five. Mom is going back where she can thrive in a world meant for her and not be trapped on a floor because of one physical ailment. Plus, she gets back most of her stuff that has been sitting in a storage unit.

Each of these moves has been most taxing on an emotional level. I have found it comforting to make lists of tasks I can do each day and surround myself with a team of compassionate specialists. Last year’s move was really hasty and needed to be done as quickly and cheaply as possible. Every other move has been with the assistance of movers that specialize in relocating seniors. To this day, I really wish I had hired the senior move service last year.

Mom doesn’t realize she has moved most times. It’s a tough thing on my brother and me. We have had to downsize her each time and that process is always painful. We end up going through photos and nick nacks evaluating whether or not she needs or wants them. Most times the answer is no, so we divest of her belongings, as you would when a parent dies. I hope that this fifth annual move is our last. The struggle of moving elderly family members who are in decline is one of the hardest moves you will ever undergo.

As a licensed Associate Broker in Viriginia, my job is to help sellers get great terms when selling their home in the time frame that suits them best. As a daughter who has dealt with an annual move of my declining mother, I am honored to make moves like these as easy as possible for my elder clients and their family. I am happy to share whatever experience I have gained from having been down this well worn path. Please don’t hesitate to call me if I can be of assistance.

Achieving Buyer Success in Gainesville’s Heritage Hunt, Again

Achieving Buyer Success in Gainesville’s Heritage Hunt, Again

There are some well traveled Gainesville neighborhoods in my real estate business. One that comes up again and again is the active adult community of Heritage Hunt. By its sheer size, it is no surprise Heritage Hunt gets a lot of activity. Heritage Hunt is so big it is its own voting precinct!

Earlier this year, I helped buyers who had narrowed down their search to Heritage Hunt after over a year of house hunting. I also helped not one, but two Heritage Hunt condo owners sell their units in 2021. What I was not expecting on the morning of October 3rd was a phone call from a colleague with a Heritage Hunt single family home for sale, that had encountered interested buyers that wanted to make an offer on her listing. The only thing they needed was an agent to represent them. What an honor to be a go-to resource for a colleague who needed to place unrepresented buyers with a an agent. I was on it.

It wasn’t hard to jump into action on this one. As it turns out, when the call came in I was en route to Heritage Hunt to show property to another buyer-client. What was unusual was that of the interested buyer couple, one had seen the property courtesy of my colleague (the listing agent,) the previous day. After discussing it with his wife, the decision to make an offer was made.

The listing agent let me know that there was a very attractive offer on the table. Without having specifics, I knew my newly acquired buyer-clients would need to put their best foot forward. In explaining what that meant in an offer, they were all in. Turns out that my new buyer-clients won the property. The biggest challenge was simply going to be managing inspections and contractor quotes with buyers who were out of state. Again, not a problem.

Home inspectors were provided. Mr. and Mrs. Buyer chose one and I met their relatives and the inspector at the property. With only very minor issues, moving forward was easy. Now came the challenge to help these buyer-clients get their home prepped for their move. That meant hooking them up with paint and flooring contractors, as well as movers. Color and product consultations were handled via video call, choices made and work scheduled.

On Wednesday, November 17th, Mrs. Buyer was able to see the home for the very first time. She was very pleased and very excited. She is likely to be even more excited after the new flooring is completed before the first weekend of closing. Painting is happening the following week while their moving truck is making its way from Colorado. I’m as excited to see their choices in action as they are.

Buying a home may be a process that takes some buyers longer than others. It doesn’t matter. No matter how long the process, I am here to help make it as smooth as possible. If you have been considering a move to Heritage Hunt, or any other location in the Gainesville area, get in touch with me. Helping my buyer-clients find and settle into home is one of my greatest delights.

Buyer Success in Heritage Hunt

What a view! Taken from the Heritage Hunt Clubhouse looking to the outdoor pool.

Buyer Success in Heritage Hunt

In September 2019, I was connected with a couple looking to purchase in the Active Adult community of Heritage Hunt in Gainesville, VA. This amenity filled community has tons to offer, including a variety of housing. From condos to attached villas and varying sizes of detached single family homes, there is something for every fifty-five plus buyer. Like so many buyers I have helped before, this couple was looking to relocate from out of state to be closer to their daughter and new grandchild. Heritage Hunt seemed the perfect place to land.

Upon our first conversation, it sounded as though the buyers wanted to be even closer to their daughter, who lived inside the beltway. So a conversation of what you could get in Alexandria vs. Gainesville started a house hunt that involved myself and another agent that was better versed at the Alexandria options. Not surprisingly, Alexandria and all of Fairfax County ended up priced out of the running over the course of the next twelve months. There was a definite lack of outdoor space in anything with a main level owner’s suite. The choices ended up being all condos in Fairfax County and my buyers wanted an attached single family home. Heritage Hunt became the focus in the Fall of 2020.

The problem with the Heritage Hunt market at the end of 2020 was that many moves that would have freed up inventory for buyers were on hold. The next step for a lot of Heritage Hunt owners is assisted living, and with the pandemic, moves into those facilities were on hold. If a single family home or attached villa came on the market, it was gobbled up immediately, or faced sky high bidding. You really had to have a lead on something before it hit the market to have a shot.

For months I worked my network of agents and uncovered one that was to come up. Because of stringent MLS rules, we didn’t know the address until right before it hit the market, but were told of the floor plan. On paper, it worked. So my buyers drove to town for an opportunity to be the first showing on a listing that none of us had any other information about. My buyers leapt, having decided that villas were for them.

They conducted an inspection during their showing, with the permission of the seller, and made an offer within an hour of their showing. Nonetheless, another offer came in, sight unseen, because the listing had been active for a couple hours during our inspection. That’s how crazy demand is in Heritage Hunt! My buyers improved their offer with a signing bonus to the seller if they would take the offer by a particular time. Sure enough, it worked. The seller chose their offer. Woo-hoo!

Today, my buyers were delighted to sign for their new Heritage Hunt attached home with a two car garage. It needs a lot of cosmetic updating, but they are more than prepared to take on that project. They know they have the perfect size place to call home and were able to get it done quickly and at a price they feel good about. A true win made possible by the power of this well connnected Gainesville Real Estate Agent.

In a seller’s market, who you hire to represent you matters in who they know and how they network. If you hire someone relying solely on what pops out of the MLS, you are in for a long haul. Knowing the players in the market is vitally important. Just as important as having a buyer’s agent that listing agents WANT to work with. In the market in Bristow or Gainesville? I am happy to put my network and reputation to work for you. Get in touch with me and let’s get started.

Just Sold: Heritage Hunt Condo for $22,000 Above List Price

7065 Heritage Hunt Drive #103 Sold for $360,000 on May 24, 2021

Just Sold: Heritage Hunt Condo for $22,000 Above List Price

On April 24th (2021,) I had the pleasure of bringing a gorgeous Eastport model condo in Heritage Hunt to market located at 7065 Heritage Hunt Drive #103. What makes an Eastport model special, unlike most Heritage Hunt condos, is that there are windows surrounding the kitchen and dining area. They are located on the corners of the building and there are only two per floor. This one happened to be the builder’s model and has special touches like extra trim in the dining room and custom drapery.

Sitting down with the sellers to figure out list price was interesting. I had one of the smallest units under contract, just down the hall from them, for more than the comparable sales suggested I should have and I was still getting calls on it. So when we found the comps pointing us to a max of $330,000, I suggested higher. After all, they were an Eastport, there was nothing else that would be active in Heritage Hunt condos and demand for condos in Heritage Hunt had started to increase.

Not wanting to go above $340,000, the sellers decided $338,000 was optimistic enough for them. Even in a seller’s market, many sellers will still wonder if their home will attract a buyer. It is understandable. I do this two dozen times per year or more. They sell a home once every five to ten years at best.

Initially, we had no offer deadline. Showings were piling up even as we were Coming Soon, awaiting professional photos. First day on market, we got an offer a smidge above list price. The owners were thrilled that someone wanted the condo and suddenly understood what I had been telling them. More than one buyer was going to want the home. So we set an offer deadline and announced it. Wouldn’t you know they got a barn burner of an offer that went $12,000 above list price AND offered an additional $10,000 above that if they signed at an earlier deadline set by this offer. Sticking to the original deadline was not going to happen.

Since Heritage Hunt condos first sold in the resale market, the highest above list price any of them have ever gotten was $12,500. That happened in February 2012. More recently, despite the frenzied seller’s market for single family homes in Heritage Hunt that really ramped up in 2019-2020 and was off the charts in 2021, condos were lucky to sell for their original list price.

In an effort to be fair to those that had shown the unit and were scheduled to show it, I reached out to each agent with the new deadline. The whining and crying in our industry behind the scenes is quite something. Buyer agents often forget that listing agents aren’t there to make life easier for them. We are there to represent the best interest of the sellers. When you get a record setting offer on your listing with an earlier deadline than the one you set, you better believe the sellers are meeting that deadline and making $10,000 more.

Today, May 24th (2021,) Unit 103 in 7065 Heritage Hunt sold for $360,000. That’s $22,000 above their original list price, a new record in the history of Heritage Hunt condos. And they were under contract in only two days!

When the need or desire to sell your Heritage Hunt condo arises, get in touch with me. I’ve been listing them since 2018 when I listed my mom’s unit. (My mother being a decade long owner of a Heritage Hunt condo is how I got to know all about them.) I offer staging advice, light staging in vacant units and professional photography to include those of Heritage Hunt’s community amenities. Being well prepared and professionally marketed is what creates buyer enthusiasm, which gets you every dollar you can pull from that one-time sale no matter the market.

Heritage Hunt Under Contract in Two Days

7065 Heritage Hunt Drive, Unit 103, Gainesville, VA 20155

Heritage Hunt Under Contract in Two Days

On April 24th, 7065 Heritage Hunt Drive #103 hit the market, reasonably priced at $338,000. Having hosted three former condo listings in this very same condo building since 2018, I have seen quick sales and listings that sit on the market a bit longer. It’s been a seller’s market the entire time with demand out pacing supply. So while I expected this to be a fast sale with the corner unit adding a ton of natural light, I didn’t expect my seller’s to be displaced for nearly two days with showings. Nonetheless, that is what happened.

Day one, we had our first offer and the sellers reacted by setting an offer deadline to try to accommodate all the pre-scheduled showings. However, when the second offer arrived, higher than the first and with a very sizable signing bonus to ratify the day before the deadline, all agents were notified the game had changed.

As a side note, it is amazing the amount of time’s a listing agent can hear that something isn’t fair. Well, for those of you paying attention, the listing agent’s job is not to work for anyone’s best interest by the seller’s. When a seller gets an unbelievable offer with its own deadline, all bets are off. The free market is at work and you either offer up or miss out entirely.

Not all agents in the market can write an offer on four hours notice. The job of a real estate agent, representing the best interests of their clients above their own, is not something the best agents out there take lightly. Then again, not all buyers are motivated enough to make a quick decision or write sight unseen. The 2021 spring market is brutal. Rather than ice capades figure skating, this is a professional league hockey game where you need to throw elbows. Doesn’t mean you need to be rude, but you need to be prepared to act and do it with conviction.

This Eastport model in Heritage Hunt will sell on May 24th (2021.) Will keep you posted on final sold price. Until then, if you have been thinking of selling your active adult condo, get in touch with me. Let me show you what professional marketing combined with expert level market and contract knowledge can do for you.

Another Heritage Hunt Condo For Sale

7065 Heritage Hunt Drive #103 , Gainesville Just Listed for $338,000

Another Heritage Hunt Condo For Sale

Heritage Hunt remains one of the most sought after Active Adult communities in Prince William County. There are so many amenities and styles of homes to choose from, and condos are part of that. This particular condo at 7065 Heritage Hunt Drive #103 is a particularly hot commodity. That’s because it is a corner unit.

Usually, Heritage Hunt condos have kitchens to the side of the front door entry. That puts them about as far away from natural light as you can get. Not in this Eastport model. There are two windows in the dining room and one in the kitchen that bring loads of natural light to this area.

In addition to being a pleasing corner unit, this particular unit was also the builder’s model. As such it offers special details like custom draperies, ceiling trim in the dining room and a lovely faux finish in the second bathroom.

The current owners have improved the unit with new carpet, new HVAC and a new refrigerator. This two bedroom, two full bathroom unit is move in ready. You can click this link to see the full virtual tour.

If you or someone you know is interested, don’t hesitate to act. A unit like this doesn’t linger.

Just Sold: Heritage Hunt Active Adult Condo for $310,000

7065 Heritage Hunt Drive #101, Gainesville, VA Sold for $310,000 on April 22, 2021

Just Sold: Heritage Hunt Active Adult Condo for $310,000

Not all listings sell in a matter of days, even in this intense seller’s market that we are experiencing in Gainesville, VA. When I took the listing for 7065 Heritage Hunt Way, Unit 101, I was familiar with the unit. I had sold it for the prior owner in 2019. However, while comps revealed the likelihood of increased price, they also indicated that it may take a month to go under contract. One condo in the comps actually took nearly two months to go under contract. Perhaps it was pandemic phobia, being in a building with lots of common surfaces. Or just the idea that you may be quarantined in a building. Somehow or another, condos seemed to be experiencing a different ebb and flow than the surrounding market.

This particular unit faced its own challenges. It was first floor, apparently a problem for some people who wish to be higher than ground floor. It faced north, so it never got direct sunlight. And three, it faced the parking lot. I dealt with all of these objections the first time I listed it for the former owner in 2019. At that time, pre-Covid, condos moved faster. Post-Covid, not all do.

To me, the home offered fantastic space and the unusual feature of having engineered hardwood flooring throughout all but the bathrooms and second bedroom. That was a really nice upgrade. So after losing about three serious buyers, we upped the ante and staged. It warmed the place up and most importantly, brightened it up.

Never underestimate the power of staging to draw in a buyer.

The unit originally hit the market priced at $315,000 on February 1st (2021) and then endured one month of crappy winter weather. After just over one month on the market, the price was improved to $310,000. Just two and a half weeks at the improved price saw improved traffic and it went under contract with a buyer that was purchasing it for his mother.

There had been a buyer floating about that had his agent making verbal, low offers on the home. He had never seen the unit and was a cash buyer. Like most cash buyers, he felt that entitled him to a cash discount. It’s all cash to the seller in the end, and that’s where a lot of cash buyers lose out when they don’t see the value in their cash. They don’t need to go through appraisal and can offer list price or higher in a seller’s market. While he had his agent calling every hour on the hour, he insisted he wasn’t desperate. Well, he sure didn’t get the condo.

As it turns out, settling at $310,000 with $4,500 to a buyer with a conventional loan was still higher than that cash buyer was willing to verbally offer. Clue number one, buyers aren’t very interested when they don’t make written offers. Clue number two, they want it more than they are willing to admit when their non-verbal doesn’t match their verbal.

I imagine that cash buyer is still out there, trying to negotiate low deals in a market with rising prices. Yes, even condo values are rising. This one even appraised at $310,000 despite that cash buyer’s thoughts on market value. Just taking some of them longer to sell, that’s all. Limited inventory is still limited inventory.

When you are ready to sell your Heritage Hunt condo, get in touch with me. I have experience getting the job done and realize it may take longer than a weekend to sell some condos. And crazy low prices may not be the answer. Sometimes staging makes a difference, as it did here. Sometimes it is simply having patience.

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