Every once in a while listing agents encounter situations where the typical listing advice is not something that works for our seller-clients. Take for instance the story of a home I sold in Alexandria at the end of 2022. Walking inside, the home was in dire need of updating and repair of damaged areas and some plumbing pipes that needed replacement. However, the cost to the do the update correctly even with an inflated sales price, looked to exceed the potential profit the estate could make by selling as-is. At that Alexandria estate sale, we attempted an as-is purchase and were bowled over by the amount of interest and number of offers. It became clear that the cost to improve the home was not worth it and an offer to sell as-is was accepted.
Walking into 8265 Highland Street in Manassas in December 2022, that Alexandria home was in the front of my mind. Mind you, Highland Street was a home that was simply outdated. There was nothing structurally wrong with the home. It was clean, well kept but needed paint, carpet and a facelift in the kitchen and bathrooms. And, being a one full bathroom home, the seller was advised to at least get a quote on adding a second full bathroom. Believe it or not, there are companies out there that will do the work and get paid at closing if paying up front for improvements is not in the budget.
As the seller weighed what, if any, improvements they would undertake, they seller wanted to hit the market as-is, but at a price that was higher than one in the neighborhood just like it that had recently sold. That improved home also had the additional full bathroom. There was nothing to suggest that this was a move that would pay off. There was a lack of inventory and some houses that were improved were getting multiple offers. Would buyer demand eat this on up as-is?
Professional photos were put off, but the listing was made active at the request of the seller. Within four days, we had an offer in hand. Unfortunately, that buyer vanished as quickly as he had appeared. It was above list price offer with a huge ask of seller subsidy. The net to the seller would have been a below list price sale.
After the first buyer walked, the seller decided no improvements would be made at all. Despite that, the typical marketing process kicked in. Professional photos to include a 3-D immersive tour of the floor plan. Outdated window treatments were removed in an effort to not detract from the well maintained home. More buyers visited after the professional marketing, yet none were writing offers. Then, at the two week mark, a second buyer appeared. The buyer made an offer. After taking a quick look at the documentation that accompanied the offer, it was clear the buyer ran a residential painting business. Asking for a significant amount of closing cost help to improve the home, on top of a discounted price off list, when he could do improvements at cost was a non-starter, so the seller countered. The buyer accepted. Buyer agents often send too much documentation.
Having a full price contract was great, but it still had to appraise. Getting comps together was no easy feat, but a package of information was prepared and we held our breath to see if an appraiser thought it was worth $450,000. It was a joyous moment to hear that the appraised value was the saame as the agreed upon sales price.
Despite a couple of days delay to settlement date to accomodate the lender’s slow closing department, this home sold on March 7th (2023) for its full list price of $450,000. It also gave $10,000 in closing cost help. Skipping listing preparation all together and asking a higher price than improved homes that sold rarely works out this well. In this case, the location and well maintained condition of the home mattered to buyers stuggling to buy a home. It also mattered to the appraiser.
Every situation in real estate is unique. Attempting as-is sales before taking on listing improvements later if the home doesn’t sell, is a strategy that can help sellers test the waters with no risk. Get in touch with me for your complementary consultation and let’s see what strategy would work best for your desired results.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Appraisals are top of every listing agent’s mind in the frenzied seller’s market that all of Northern Virginia,mm and most of the country, is experiencing in 2021. Homes, even listed for reasonable prices, inevitably get bid up seven to ten percent of list price on average. A lot of times, it is even higher than that.
Most savvy listing agents are advising their sellers about sky high offers with appraisal contingencies. Those offers are only going to be as good as the appraised value. It’s a number meant to make a seller say yes, without thinking of the ramifications of low appraised value.
The way that buyers are getting sky high offers accepted is by waiving appraisal all together, or by offering low appraisal guarantees. Back to the practices of savvy listing agents, those are the ones that understand the importance of appraisal coming in as close to that offer price as possible. A buyer can feel immediate remorse if they are shelling out tens of thousands of dollars just to make up for a short fall in appraised value. So meeting the appraiser is critically important.
Knowing the appraisal process, as taught to me by an actual appraiser when I studied for my broker’s license, I know what they have access to, what paperwork they get and what they are looking for when they are putting together a report. It is astounding how many agents don’t. Some think that if they just raise the list price to the offer price after the contract is ratified, it helps with appraisal. Not in the least. In fact, it may hurt your seller if that deal falls through and the entire MLS service area now knows exactly how much your seller had. They may come in slightly below once you hit the market again. They sure aren’t coming in over.
Appraisers are members of the MLS. They can see what we do to listings. They can see original list prices and the changes we make and when. They get copies of the sales contract itself. They know what the buyers have offered. Finally, they don’t care about your list price. They don’t care about the neighbor’s list price. They care about recent sales in the neighborhood. Sometimes, they care about pending sales. They also care about seeing the multiple offers on the property, as that is a demonstration of what the market thought the value was. Really important, they like seeing a list of major updates by year, going back at least five years, no more seven or eight. Let’s face it, an HVAC isn’t new just because it isn’t original.
Changing list price to reflect the contracted sales price is a poor business practice. It tells the world what the seller accepted before the deal is done. That’s a big no-no in real estate. And since the appraiser has a copy of the contract, it is truly pointless.
What’s the practice of the listing agent you have in mind to sell your home? Might want to make sure you are working with a listing agent that understands the appraisal process and won’t compromise your negotiating position if your first buyer gets sudden remorse. Take a look at my service areas to the right on the chalkboard and let me know if you would like my expertise on your side to get you those multiple offers, keep a buyer in a deal and never compromise your negotiating power.
On March 17th (2021,) I had the opportunity to give the public the word that 11900 Rocky Brooke Court in Manassas was Coming Soon. A coming soon listing is quite valuable these days. Truly great buyers agents have trained their clients to look for them and schedule appointments ahead for the day they come active. This means booking before there are professional photos, but in the day and age of exclusive showing appointments, having the appointment is golden. If you see the pictures and have second thoughts, cancel the appointment.
All told, maybe a dozen agents made appointments when the listing was coming soon. It wasn’t until this listing went active with professional photos on March 23rd that the flood gates opened. It was right there in the remarks that our offer deadline was March 28th at 9pm. Forty-eight showings later, my seller had six offers in hand.
Nonetheless, buyers and their agents kept calling. “We just saw this listing online. Can we get in and, if we like it, make an offer?” Unfortunately, the madness has to end sometime, and that’s the point of an offer deadline. Even still, a buyer that had seen it on Sunday came through with an offer the day after the deadline. It changed the entire landscape of offers whose final tally was seven.
Tonight, this gorgeous single family surrounded by woods on 5.75 acres in Manassas is under contract, but it wasn’t without buckets of stress and emotion. You may think it’s easy to be a listing agent right now, but breaking hearts is not something an agent with a soul enjoys. The business of evaluating offers is all business. Letting buyers down that didn’t win is all heart. It’s emotionally exhausting, especially when those that lost tell you they could have paid more.
The time to tell a seller what you will pay and what the terms of your offer will be is when you make the offer. By the time you get the let down phone call, it’s too late. In the spring 2021 Prince William County market, you need to swing for the fences. You only get once chance at bat per property. Negotiating with a seller is highly unlikely in these competitive times.
Stay tuned for the final sold price on this one. It will knock your socks off.
Last week I shared this property at 11900 Rocky Brooke Court as a Coming Soon listing. My own photos never do a property justice. The professional photos of the home were even better than I could have imagined. If you want to see the entire virtual tour, you can do so by clicking this link. Right now, I’m going to share some of my favorite features and rooms.
It is pretty rare to find four garage parking spaces in a Manassas home. Both enter into the mud room, off the kitchen. Speaking of the kitchen…
This gourmet ktichen features Uba Tuba granite counters and island. I just love the contrast of the dark appliances and counter to the white cabinets. And though the floor is vinyl, it is the perfect accent to the room. (Not pictured is the breakfast nook, though you can see a hint of the glass table in the left foreground.)
The family room is quite large and just like every window in the home, has fantastic wooded views of the surrounding 5.75 acres of forest. The stone surround fireplace is wood burning.
The owner’s suite is grand and features a large bedroom separated from the sitting room by a double sided gas fireplace. Hard to get a shot of that entire area, but the adjoining owner’s bath brings the same black and white contrast from the kitchen. Black cultured marble extended vanity and double sinks with ceramic tile floor and bath surround. Not pictured is the water closet and separate shower, which would be to the left of where the photographer was standing when this shot was taken.
Those are just a few of my favorites from the photo shoot. Please be sure to check out the entire virtual tour. And don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions.
This home has already had a lot of interest. Don’t delay if you think this could be your next home. If you don’t have an agent, I would be happy to connect you with a fantastic one in our Gainesville office.