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Just Listed in Manassas: Split Level Home for $449,000

8265 Highland Street in Manassas, Built in 1969

Just Listed in Manassas: Split Level Home for $449,000

It not so common to list a home built in 1969, that has only been occupied by the original owner, but this is one of those times. Entering 8265 Highland Street, it is clear that the original owner of this home loved it until the moment she moved. The home is in excellent condition for its age.

The furnace was just replaced in 2022. The A/C and water heater were replaced the year before that in 2021. A new refrigertator was installed prior to list. Even the roof and windows are approximately ten years old. This home does not suffer from deferred maintenance. The only issue we do know is that the dishwasher in the kitchen no longer works.

The desirable location in the heart of Manassas, located just a few blocks from the UVA Prince William Medical Center, is just another plus for this home. In addition to having great curb appeal, it also has a large, partially fenced yard that has very little grade, making it about as flat as you would ever what a back yard to be.

Inside the split level floor plan are three bedrooms and three and a half bathrooms. The bedrooms and full bathroom are the only rooms on the upper level. The bathroom is in great condition and has all original finishes from when it was built. Updating this bathroom would be an easy project.

Downstairs, the oversized foyer faces a half bathroom straight ahead, family room with wood burning fireplace to the left and steps up the living room. Around the corner from the living room is the dining area and kitchen. The kitchen also has original finishes, but is isn good condition. Paint the cabinets, add new hardware and countertops and the kitchen would be completely different. A new appliance suite would only make it that much more modern, but as stated earlier, the dishwasher is the only one in need of replacement.

Carpet and paint will definitely be a project that the next home owner will want to address before anything else, particularly on the bedroom level. Carpet in the upper hall, staircase and main level seem to have been replaced at a later date.

To make the home a four bedroom, two full bathroom home, some home owners with the same floor plan in the neighborhood of Highland Park has converted the family room to a main level bedroom and the half bathroom to a full bathroom. There is unfinshed storage, accessed only by outside, that could be insulated and made part of the a main level bedroom suite. Right now, that storage area is housing the dryer, while the washer is in the utility room between the kitchen and back entrance to the family room.

Interior photos will be coming on this one in the near future. In the meantime, if you would like a tour of this one, please reach out and we will get you inside for a tour.

Selling a Property With Boundary Issues

Selling a Property With Boundary Issues

Having been a licensed real estate agent since 2005, I can tell you that there is a lesson in every transaction. Lessons that can be passed on to other sellers, buyers or even other real estate agents. The sale that closed today on my listing in Manassas is another great example. At the heart of this transaction, besides a very well kept home with three finished levels and an attached garage in a neighborhood of only two level homes with no garage, is a story about encroaching on land that doesn’t belong to you.

When the sellers contacted me, it was with the future thought of selling. Mr. Seller mentioned that his pool and deck were built barely going over into county land. What was well into that county land was the fence for “their” back yard. The attitude of the seller was, “It’s not going to be a big deal. The county has never said anything.” One year later, as we sat at his kitchen table, I told him it was going to present title issues at a minimum, he dialed up a buddy of his in the title business. Sure enough, his buddy confirmed that the encroachment onto county land was going to cause title insurance problems. The items that encroached on county land would likely be exceptions to the new buyer’s title policy. All that means is that if the future buyer ended up in a dispute with the county over the encroaching structures, the title insurer was not going to cover the cost of any lawsuit or any remedy.

This was the pool and deck that go over into another lot.

From the listing perspective, it was a must disclose situation. Just about every where we could, we disclosed the encroaching structures. Despite having very attractive features for the neighborhood, the disclosure that this property had structures encroaching on county land spooked all but one buyer out of a dozen that had scheduled showings, not to mention the dozen or so that made it through the open house. The offer from that buyer took into account the cost to remove the structures, so despite being priced at an attractive and reasonable $539,900, the offer was below list price and requested closing cost help. The sellers came to grips with the fact, very quickly, that it was either pay now to remove the structures or pay later and made a counter that buyer accepted, upping the price, but it was still below list. Eight days on the market was the final marketing time, not bad considering the circumstances.

The pool and deck that encroached were not the big selling features that the sellers thought they would be once the disclosure that they encroached on property that didn’t belong to them was made. Thank goodness the pool was above ground and not in-ground. An easy removal for a motivated buyer.

Today, as we sat at the closing table, Mr. Seller still scoffed at the idea that the buyer would be removing the structures. “We never had an issue.” There are plenty of people that speed every day and don’t get tickets either, but eventually, if you get caught doing something you shouldn’t be doing, it will cost you. Some folks would rather play it safe.

Today this meticulously maintained home sold for $530,000 and the sellers gave $11,800 in closing cost help. So the lesson is three fold.

Home Owners: Do not knowingly build anything on land that doesn’t belong to you. One lender we discussed the issue with said he had seen local governments institute daily fines starting from the date the encroachment was discovered until the encroachment wass removed.

Buyers: Always have a survey when you purchase property with any type of yard, even a townhouse. It is the only way you will ever know if something is encroaching on your soon to be property or if your property is encroaching on someone else’s land. Further, the only way your title policy will cover you in future boundary disputes is if you have a survey done at the time you buy. Getting one from the seller from when they bought does nothing to protect you. The buyers in this case had a survey.

Agents: If the sellers had not disclosed this information, their buyer would have had the right to void the contract until our title paragraph when they found out. In fact, the buyers had a right to void even though it was disclosed because the title was not one-hundred percent clear and their title policy would have exceptions. Disclosing it was the proper thing to do legally and to avoid disappointment later. The buyers knew what they were getting into.

If you have questions about the home buying or selling process, put my experience to work for you. With real life examples, everything is easier to understand. And my seventeen years and counting of real estate sales experience has many lessons that keep my clients out of trouble.

Just Sold in Campbell’s Trace, Manassas

7664 Duneiden Lane, Manassas in Campbell’s Trace

The time between signing a listing and actually hitting the market varies from seller to seller. In the case of this Campbell’s Trace piggyback style townhouse in Campbell’s Trace, the sellers signed the listing agreement September 26, 2021. It hit the market exactly five months later on February 26, 2022.

The reason for the delay was fairly simple. With a job relocation taking employment out of state for one half of the couple, the trailing spouse still needed time to lock down permission to work remotely for the job they still had in the Northern Virginia area. That took time. In the meantime, knowing that the job relocation would mean an advance move with most of the furniture following the spouse with the relocating job, leaving the trailing spouse with sparse furnishings in the home come marketing time, we decided to have the home professional photographed before that out of state move. Maybe you noticed the orange tipped leaves on the trees to the right. These photos were taken in early November.

While the market had improved come February, there was one sale outstanding in Campbell’s Trace that had overshot on list price and hadn’t yet closed. A townhosue of the same style had hit the market at an exuberant $408,000, gone under contract quickly, but hit the market again at a lower price of $390,000. To a full-time, professional agent that sure did smell like a low appraisal problem. It was for this reason I advised my sellers to stick with the list price we chose in the fall of $379,000 and let the market work.

After four days on the market, we had four offers, all above list price. The sellers didn’t even pick the highest offer. The reason was that the highest offer had a low appraisal guarantee that didn’t span the entire difference between list price and their offer. (Buyers do these when they can’t afford to waive appraisal entirely.) The same with another, higher offer. When you took their low appraisal guarantee amounts and added them to the last highest price the neighborhood had seen, it was the same price the sellers had in two other offers.

The sellers decided to take an offer with no contingencies at all and a $20,000 earnest money deposit. Nothing shows a seller that a buyer is serious like an offer with no contingencies and an earnest money deposit that is four times higher than what is typical in their price range. If the buyer failed to close for any reason that was not the fault of the seller, that $20,000 would be liquidated to the seller. The other offer with no contingencies only offered a $5,000 earnest money deposit.

Today, this Campbell’s Trace piggyback style townhouse closed for $400,000. That is a new high price for this style of townhouse in the neighborhood. It didn’t happen by accident. The market is great and favors sellers, but after seeing a suspected low appraisal issue in the neighborhood already, it was all about pricing right and not chasing fool’s gold. Before that, it was about preparing the home to enhance buyer enthusiasm which created that multiple offer situation. And finally, locking in a back up offer so if the first deal didn’t go through, there was no hitting the market again, leaving buyers and agents to wonder what was wrong with the house.

If you have been considering taking advantage of the seller’s market, get in touch with me for a no obligation consultation. Helping you properly prepare for market and create buyer enthusiasm with professional marketing is what I do. Weeding through multiple offers and helping you understand the strengths and weaknesses of each one is where the rubber meets the road. It is not all about price if a buyer can’t pay what they offered without an appraised value matching it. Having me on your side navigating the process will have you at very top of what the market will bear.

Under Contract in Manassas in Four Days

7664 Duneiden Lane in Manassas Listed for $379,000 on February 26, 2022

Under Contract in Manassas in Four Days

Before this townhouse at 7664 Duneiden Lane ever hit the market as an Active listing, I had a buyer’s agent or two swirling around wanting to make a sight unseen offer when it was listed as Coming Soon. If I didn’t know any better, I would think it was because the listing photos were so darn good. After all, the sellers let me get a professional photographer in there four months before they listed. They knew that it would be mostly vacant of furniture when it hit the market. Together we decided it would show best with the furnishings that were perfectly on trend and really made the home inviting.

As I said above, that is what I would think if I didn’t know any better. This isn’t my first rodeo. Usually, my listings don’t become Active until the photo shoot is done. Photos are generally the last piece of the listing puzzle. Once they are up, there is usually no sense in waiting to list a home as Active. Even from a single exterior photo, pleas from buyer agents are being made on many listings for a seller to accept a sight unseen offer. Why? These buyers are desperate to get under contract and feel that is the last trick they have left. The side I see in the pleas is that these buyer agents also know that their buyer’s offer will not be competitive once the home is Active and open to the entire market.

Not surprisingly, this townhouse in Campbell’s Trace had non-stop buyer traffic the moment it went active. And the offers got better and better. Every one of the five offers the sellers received were over list price. In the end, the sellers had a choice of multiple offers with no home inspection contingencies, no appraisal contingencies or low appraisal guarantees. That is why it pays to hit the market and be open to all buyers.

Stay tuned for the final sold price. And if you are interested in selling while the market is this hot, get in touch with me for a no obligation market analysis.

Coming Soon in Manassas for $379,000

7664 Duneiden Lane will be available for showings starting 2/26/2022

Coming Soon in Manassas for $379,000

Tucked away in the Manassas community of Campbell’s Trace is 7664 Duneiden Lane, a piggyback style townhouse . You can’t drive by and see this home. It faces inside the community, attached at the back of 7662. Take a dozen or so steps down the sidewalk and over the bridged walkway and ta-da…there it sits.

Enter into the living room where an open concept floor plan greets you. The combination of dark hardwood floors and light gray paint complement each other perfectly. Dining area offers a view, and exit, to the privacy fenced yard. Kitchen has lots of counter space, dark gray cabinets and light ceramic flooring. There is even a half bathroom next to the front door, giving you access to a bathroom on every level….a must have in townhouse living.

The second level is devoted to the owner’s suite. An expansive bedroom with sunshine streaming through the south facing windows is a delight. The hardwood flooring is a welcome update. Attached owner’s bathroom is complete with dual sinks, over-sized soaking tub and separate shower.

Venture up one more level to find a carpeted, quiet third story with second and third bedrooms, second full bathroom and laundry room. Never worry about tile grout lines in the second bathroom. The floor is painted concrete and definitely gives this story the feel of a contemporary urban loft.

Parking consists of two assigned spaces near the townhouse and one visitor parking pass. HOA dues cover trash and snow removal, common area maintenance and playgrounds.

As for location, this is a great spot for commuters. Route 66 is only a few city blocks away. And there is a large variety of shops, restaurants and healthcare services within minutes of the townhouse. The nearest hospital in less than ten minutes away.

In the intense seller’s market that Manassas and the surrounding area is experiencing, it is unlikely 7664 Duneiden will last for long. Make sure you get your appointment booked. This townhouse will be available for showings starting February 26th (2022.)

The Shortest Day of the Year is Behind Us

The Shortest Day of the Year is Behind Us

As I drove around the Manassas/Bristow/Gainesville area today, there was a spring in my step. It certainly is a festive time of year, but that was not it. And I was pleased as punch that I closed not one, but two deals this week. The Christmas Miracle in Warrenton were buyer-clients. The last sale of the year was a seller-client in my ultimate neighborhood of expertise–Braemar. (If you can’t be an expert in the neighborhood where you have lived for over sixteen years and have served on the HOA Board for almost just as long, where can you be?) Yes, selling houses this close to the holidays is an extra special kind of happy, but I have to say, it is not an unusual occurrence in my real estate career. I sell houses year round and the yearend market is always a strong one.

It hit me when I got home that the extra pep in my step was due to the fact that it is December 22nd. That means the winter solstice is behind us and we have already faced the day with the least amount of sunlight hours. Woo-hoo! If there is one thing that can consistently drag me down, it is the dark of winter. As I write this post it is only getting on six o’clock in the evening, yet it feels like it could be ten in the evening. Today is a day for all of those with Seasonal Affective Disorder to cheer. We are coming out of the dark with a little more daylight every day as head through winter.

Lack of daylight and early sunsets don’t just make for a down mood. These things affect how I stage a vacant home, or direct a seller to leave an occupied home for showings. Light is the ultimate staging commodity when the daylight hours are minimal. A torch lap on a switched outlet in every bedroom is a must. Buyer enthusiasm can not reach its peak during an evening showing when all natural light extinguished hours before and buyers feel they are touring your home by the light of their cell phones.

Being a professional marketing agent, I know that getting buyers enthusiastic is the name of the game. When it daylight is minimal, light staging will definitely be accompanied by lamps in every room without overhead lighting. That’s what we did in 12423 Selkirk Lane that closed yesterday. A few more months of lamps as the critical staging item and we will be talking about what flowers to plant for the max curb appeal.

The First Key to Max Profit When Selling Your Home

The First Key to Max Profit When Selling Your Home

Getting the maximum profit when you sell your home, even in a seller’s market is not as easy as you think. A seller can’t assume that any old agent that is willing to cut their commission because “it is so easy to sell houses in a seller’s market” is going to wring every dollar they deserve out of their home sale. Max profit doesn’t start with hiring the cheapest agent a seller can find, even though it is an absolute fact that the largest closing cost is agent commission. Reducing the largest line item paid in your closing costs may seem like a natural win, but as my father used to constantly remind us, You get what you pay for.”

No matter the market conditions present when you are selling your home, the first key to success lies in three words:

Creating Buyer Enthusiasm

In one of the hottest seller’s markets on record, I have met two For Sale By Owners (FSBO) who had cut their commission line item in half by going it alone. What were they lacking? Besides buyers willing to write offers despite enough buyer interest to get it done, someone on their side to help them see their home through a buyer’s eyes and present it to the market in a manner to lift buyer enthusiasm. That is what generates higher prices, and in a seller’s market, bidding wars. Despite popular opinion on FSBOs, neither one was priced higher than the market would allow. They just had no clue how to create buyer enthusiasm and get legitimate offers. That’s where a professional marketing agent is worth their weight in gold.

Adding towels and color to a bathroom makes it more inviting.

Once I was hired as the professional listing agent, the focus shifted from how much could be saved on commission to how to get buyers to want this listing before they have even seen it in person. In each case, that involved staging, but not to the degree you might think. Simple rearranging of furniture to show a floor plan’s utility or larger amounts of space. Placing punches of color to draw attention to the home’s best features. Getting buyers to see how they would live in the property vs. seeing how a seller is currently living in a property. How someone lives every day in a home is not how they sell.

Once the stage is set, a professional listing agent knows to hire a professional photographer. Just like a seller who wants to cut commission believing it will net them more money, I fought hiring a professional photographer for too many years. Looking back, I can’t believe I ever took my own listing photos. The professionals in any field can not be matched and are a huge component of success. And naturally, the biggest compliment I get from my top notch photographers is that they love taking pictures of my listings because they are always primped for photo day and make great subjects. I like to say they are smiling and saying cheese when the photographer arrives. Still, it is unbelievable to me that a lot of listing agents don’t worry about what they photographers are taking pictures of if they are just professional.

Even the tightest kitchen is welcoming with a bit of color and fluff.

While words used in describing a listing are also very important, they are a second to photos. Listing preparation and staging are vital to making sure your photos leap off the screen of the buyer’s phone, tablet or keyboard and plant that fast growing seed of buyer enthusiasm. Making sure the home presents the same in person to build on that level of enthusiasm is where all the preparation a seller did and maintains throughout showings is important. Making beds, clearing clutter, emptying litter boxes daily…you get the idea.

As I tell all of my sellers, the minute a buyer slumps their shoulders or sighs at clutter, condition, painting projects, old carpet…whatever…you have lost the chance at a full price offer. The cash register in the buyers head is running and they are overestimating the cost to get the home to look the way they want it. And the reality is that getting a home to look they way most buyers want is not as difficult, or costly, as a seller may think. Listing preparation is critical to buyer enthusiasm. Skipping it all together and relying on a hot market to bring you tremendous results is costly mistake.

Both of my FSBOs listed at the same price they had gone it alone and both got multiple offers and ended up selling above list price, which paid for the fee they had tried to avoid when unsuccessfully listing alone. However, it wasn’t just as simple as making sure the home looked great. That’s where we come to the second key to max profit when selling. Click the link to find out more.

First Time Buyer Success in Manassas

First Time Buyer Success in Manassas

It all started on September 1st (2021.) In my email was a buyer lead, requesting a showing of a Haymarket condo in Market Center. Naturally, I got in contact immediately and upon making contact, found out I was dealing with the mom of the potential buyer. Apparently her son had been looking for a first time purchase from Ashburn to Manassas for several months. She didn’t want to trouble any one agent with that intense of a search, so they had been spending time at open houses.

First thing I did was express why it was important to have an agent in the process. Then, I let her know that if the search headed back to Ashburn or Manassas, I could work those areas too. Ultimately, a great buyer’s agent isn’t there to sell you a property, but help you find the one that fits your budget, wants and needs as much as possible.

We got started looking at the Haymarket condos of interest the very next day. We were going to make an offer on one that really stood out, but it turned out that we missed the boat. While the buyer was getting pre-approved for his mortgage, another buyer swooped in and took the home. Disappointing, but at least we found out what the budget was in the process and were poised to act next time.

As it turned out, there was only one next time. A townhouse in the Manassas community of Paradise popped up and we were off to see it as quickly as posible. It was an end unit with loads of updates. It made my buyer smile as soon as he entered. That meant it was time to figure out an offer. There were other offers on the table. How was he going to make his offer stand out and get accepted? We talked over some strategies and the one that made the most sense to him was a combination of going in over list price and offering to pay some of the seller’s closing costs. He didn’t have to waive appraisal or home inspection. And you know what? His offer was chosen.

In the multiple offer bid, I think the listing agent realized that if the appraisal came in low, at least the seller’s would have some of their closing costs paid, which was still a win. And sure enough, the appraisal came in not only lower than the offer, but also below list price. The sellers lowered their price, but still made out better than they would have with another offer thanks to the buyer’s closing cost help offer.

It must have chapped the sellers’ behinds to lower the price because on walk through, when I should have been snapping a picture of the exterior to of the townhouse to share in this post, I was snapping pictures like the one below to send to the listing agent. The sellers had left all kinds of stuff in the garage.

Not to worry. With the threat of $425 worth of junk removal on the horizon, the sellers made sure this stuff was out on settlement day….we double checked to make sure. Sellers can get so generous when it is time to get everything out.

From a September 2nd initial meeting to a settlement on October 22nd is a fast turnaround. This was a whirlwind. Not all buyers are sure enough in what they want to be that decisive. It’s okay. No matter how long it takes, a great buyer’s agent is there the whole time. Let me know when you are ready to house hunt and we’ll find the one for you…and make sure the crap is out of the garage by settlement day too!

Rumors That the 2021 Summer NoVa Real Estate Market is Slowing Down

Rumors That the 2021 Summer NoVa Real Estate Market is Slowing Down

There has been talk among agents that the real estate market in Prince William, Fairfax and Loudoun Counties is starting to slow down. Oh how I wish those rumors had some basis in reality. The extreme buyer demand that has sellers cashing out at unbelievable prices, has left buyers waiving just about every conceivable contingency and reaching deep into their savings or retirement plans just to have a chance at purchasing. Still, this past Memorial Day weekend I had buyers offer $30,000 above a fairly optimistic list price on a home that had plenty of outdated decor, and waived all contingencies only to lose along with ten other buyers.

The week or so that the gas shortage was causing anxiety in Northern Virginia, presented a great opportunity for buyers to get out and see homes while others were afraid to burn the gas in their tank to see property. That window allowed one of my buyer-clients, a first-time buyer, an opportunity to get under contract without having to waive home inspection. He was even able to negotiate some closing cost help. I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. Maybe that was the weekend the rumors of the slowing market started.

Alas, it was only an abbreviated window of opportunity which was created entirely out of panic, not actual shortage of gas. To me, it was like having a snow storm in winter during a seller’s market. Others may sit out the conditions and wait for the snow to melt, but not me. Striking while other buyers are sitting it out is the only way to give some buyers the leg up.

What we may be starting to see in the Northern Virginia marketplace is the typical slow down as we welcome summer and vacations are top of mind. For the first time since I became an agent in 2005, last year (2020) there was no slow down in July and August. Pandemic lock downs made vacations impossible. That makes summer vacations in 2021 even more of a priority for many who missed them last year. I believe the term I heard in some news media was “revenge travel.”

No matter what may ease up the buyer demand, even temporarily, rest assured that if you are a seller in Prince William, Fairfax or Loudoun County, your home will still sell and for a top price if you take time to prepare it and hire a listing agent that will professionally market it. We can shed some buyer demand and still be in a seller’s market.

Just Sold in Manassas: $60,000 Over List Price

11900 Rocky Brooke Court Sold on May 28, 2021 for $800,000

Just Sold in Manassas: $60,000 Over List Price

On March 23rd (2021) I had the pleasure of introducing you to 11900 Rocky Brooke Court in Manassas, listed for $740,000. Nestled off of a cul-de-sac on five acres, this four bedroom, three and a half bathroom home offered a wooded view from every window. It also offered two, two car garages. It was no surprise when the offers starting rolling in immediately.

On March 29th, the seller and I went over the offers in hand. As we were going over the six we had, a seventh came in. Because the seller had already committed verbally to a buyer, when the seventh offer came in, they gave that originally selected buyer the option to meet the terms offered by the incoming seventh offer. That buyer jumped to acceptance of those terms immediately and the home went under contract.

Originally, we had been scheduled to close on April 28th. It was an easy road to get there with the buyer, who had no contingencies. It was not an easy road on the seller side and involved a one month delay due to an estate issue. Thankfully, the buyer stuck by us as the estate issue was worked out in the court system as quickly as possible.

On May 28th, one month past our original settlement date, the seller closed with our originally chosen buyer. Being honorable and sticking to the buyer they had verbally agreed to work with ended up creating the trust needed to get the transaction through the unforeseeable delay with the seller’s estate. The final sold price was $800,000.

When you are ready to sell your home, hiring a full-time, professional licensed broker ensures you are working with someone with the highest level of license and competence. When the unforeseen happens, you need the highest level of expertise. While I have been a licensed agent in Virginia since 2005, in 2010 I added the distinction of being a licensed real estate broker in Virginia. That’s the highest level of license our state offers and comes with in-depth training and a higher bar to passing the test. This career is not something I take lightly and it shows in the outstanding results my clients get no matter what challenges arise. Get in touch with me for your next Manassas, Bristow, Gainesville or surrounding area real estate transaction.

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