How to Sell your House in Alexandria | Arlington VA or DC
Table of Contents
- 1 How to Sell your House in Alexandria | Arlington VA or DC
- 1.1 How to sell your home fast and for the most money
- 1.2 How long does it take to sell your home?
- 1.3 Closing costs for the seller
- 1.4 How do you stage your house to sale
- 1.5 Do you have to pay taxes on the sale of your home?
- 1.6 How to prepare for a home inspection
- 1.7 Sell a house fast for Cash
This in-depth guide about how to sell your house in Northern Virginia. From the moment you start thinking about selling to getting it on the market. We will go over pricing, how to prepare your home, the costs associated with selling and other considerations.
Let’s get down to it
How to sell your home fast and for the most money
What is the Real Estate Mantra you always hear about? Location, Location, Location. What is the mantra for selling your home fast? Price, Price, Price.
PRICE = Condition + Location|Size|Type + Timing + Competition + Market
Take a hard look at every aspect and condition of your house and tackle those, one by one before putting your house on the market. The leaky faucet, the lock you have to wiggle a bit for it to actually lock, the creaky wood floor board, etc. All those little things that we all get used to living with after a few years of living in the same place, those that we never seem to have time to fix because they are not a big deal anyway. The thing is in the eyes of the one buying your home these little things could amount to one big thing and could start earning your home un-favorable marks. Make a list of those and either complete them yourself one day or have a handyman finished them in a couple of hours. You have to make your house ready to sell now.
Are there any “latent” defects in your house? for instance, a basement that floods in a downpour or perhaps some cracks in the basement wall? I recommend taking care of those before you list a house, your agent is required by law to disclose any latent defect to any interested party. Besides, you will have future issues, better to address those ahead of time.
When was the last time you painted? Did you recently re-finish the wood floors? Are there a lot of stains on your carpet? Ask yourself those questions.
How about the roof, how old is it? Any missing shingles or defects on the downspouts or gutters that should be addressed?
How old are your appliances or your HVAC system, how about the water heater? Replace them if old or have them serviced, get receipts for everything.
The exterior is the first thing any buyer will look at before entering your home. Take care of the lawn, spruce it up, add mulch, get some colorful flowers, trim the bushes, paint the fence, replace the front light if it looks old or outdated, is the mailbox old?
You are moving, right? So then let’s start packing now. If you have to live in your house while showing start by removing at least 50% of the items you already have. You heard me, at least 50%, trust me it is not too hard, time to donate, trash or sell (yard sales are a lot of fun), if you have a Lot of things maybe an Estate Sale might do the trick, check out for professionals on my app. The house needs to feel open and de-cluttered with no personal items exposed. I’ve been there myself, you might think you don’t have much stuff, but we all do, you will thank me later.
Last but not least. Cleaning, and I mean DEEP cleaning of every surface of your house, do not underestimate the importance of how clean it needs to be. If you do not like cleaning (and I mean OCD type cleaning), then hire a professional to do it. Don’t forget the windows inside and out. Let the light IN. If you have dogs or cats, check for bad smells and get rid of those. There’s nothing that is more inviting than the smell of a “fresh and clean” house, it shows that you care. Buyers tend to believe a clean house is a Good Buy a Solid Buy, therefore making your home top of their list.
These are the hard set variables. Your home is a quantifiable size, not much we can add to this fact. It is also located where it is, so again not much we can do about it, the most favorable spot the higher the price. Your home might be a detached home, a townhouse or a condo, the price will also be adjusted by this condition.
Of these, the only one you can change is the Size, either by building an addition or “finishing” a basement for instance. You might also be able to add a carport -which will add value to a house-
Let your Realtor know in a perfect world when would be the best time for you to move. He/she will work on figuring out -based on everything else- what might be that perfect spot. If you have to sell your house in the Winter you might be right in the middle of the low season, if you can wait until the beginning of the spring (February/March for us) then you will be in a much better spot.
Do you know when that beautiful neighbor’s house will be on the market? If you have that information, that is also good to know. We will need to adjust the timing based on that. Not long ago a client wanted to put her townhouse on the market, but an identical unit was on the market at that time. It would have been disadvantageous to have on the market at the same time, one competing with each other, hopefully for my client she was able to wait until that house got a contract. We were able to sell hers within a week at a higher price. A win-win
We briefly talked about this in the previous paragraph. Try to remember when you were searching for your home, chances are you looked at a few houses before making a decision, most likely you compared yours with plenty others, but something about your house “called your name”, well the same is true for current buyers. They are right now looking at homes, searching for the perfect one for themselves. We have a list of variables but make the final decision by comparing. When you are finally ready to pull the plug, visit your closest competition and honestly think, how does my house compare to these. The comparison should be based on the price and condition of those homes, the location might be similar to yours so a little less guessing
There’s competition also beyond your neighborhood, not every buyer is set on a particular area, they usually start with wide search criteria, including different neighborhoods or school districts. The competition at that point is not only with homes around you but any other similar home in the vicinity as well. This is when a professional, someone who visits plenty of homes a week can help you with.
Waiting for the market condition trumps the “fast” part of the original question but let me explain. What we are trying to do is sell a home within a few days of putting it on the market avoiding the dreaded Days on the Market variable. Not everyone can afford to wait. But if you can, waiting for the “perfect real estate market storm” will make your home sell faster (fewer days on market) than others and for the most money. The Real Estate market is cyclical with ups and downs -yearly and seasonal-. Being able to predict this perfect time requires watching the market conditions weekly (not even monthly). Putting your home on the market when this happens ensures your home will sell at the optimal time when the demand starts increasing and yet not too many other homes are on the market at the same time.
“Sellers Market vs Buyers Market. Below 5 months it is considered a Seller’s Market”
A seller’s market occurs when demand exceeds supply, or there are more buyers seeking to purchase properties than there are available homes on the market. This often leads to multiple buyers interested in a single property, resulting in bidding wars. In a seller’s market, you can sell your home at a higher price than your listing price, or at least more than your bottom line (the lowest price you’d be willing to accept for your home).
A buyer’s market occurs when the supply (available properties for sale) exceeds demand (the number of buyers seeking to purchase properties). If you’re trying to sell your property in a buyer’s market, your home may remain on the market long before you’re able to secure a buyer due to a large number of available properties. You may also have to lower your listing price or make other concessions in order to secure a buyer.
PRICE: Set up the Correct price
- You can start with an automatic calculator to determine the price of your home and start fine tuning from there, keeping an eye on the market and listing your house at the right time, (I call it riding the wave). Watching comparable properties that are coming up on the market next to yours. Putting yourself on a buyer’s shoes (devote yourself off emotional ties – very hard to do). And start sprucing up your home, even a fresh coat of paint might be the only thing you need to do. More on this later.
- Appraisals are also a good start. These are done by a professional appraiser, who will research what other comparable homes have recently sold and based the price on those. Their main search will be recent ( 3 months) Sold Properties, houses that are the same style, about the same size and in the same location as yours are the preferred examples, sometimes those are not readily available so appraisers need to research a few miles out to find the right house and in some cases they need to use homes that are not exactly the same style, in those cases they adjust the price to mimic the condition of the subject property. Appraisers take into consideration the condition of the property, additions, renovations, and improvements. There is no master list with prices showing what those improvements are worth in the eyes of an appraiser, typically those numbers are at the discretion of him/her based on their own experience in the area.
- Request a Broker’s Open Caravan Opinion of value. I love this one, one of my additional methods when the house in question is hard to price. Once a house is listed with a brokerage -and before it is publicly available on the multiple listing services -, your agent can schedule a Broker’s Open, at that time he/she will ask other agents coming to the open house for their “opinion of value”. Most agents will gladly give you their honest opinion of the value of a home at that time, once it is listed. What I like to do in those instances is take the Median price and use this as another way of gauging what a possible buyer might be willing to pay for a house.
- But for sure the BEST OPTION is to ask a professional. We tour home every day, we put contracts on home every day, we have seen enough to be able to guide you in the right direction. Wish pricing was an exact science, but unfortunately, it is not.
Let’s talk about Zillow for a moment. Did you know their values could be off by 3.7% !!!! in a $500,000 home could mean an $18,700 difference?
What is the difference then with our Home Value Calculator and theirs? We are using Zillow PLUS eAppraisal in one place, so you can see a range rather than just one number.
Remember We have not seen your home, we do not know of any updates or upgrades you made, nor do we know if the public information from which these values are taken from are correct. The truth is the only way to know exactly what your home might be worth is analyzing its features, condition, local market conditions and competition at any point in time. Your home will only sell for what the market calls for regardless. Nor Zillow, nor Us set the price. The true value of your home is what someone will pay for it.
How can I sell my home for Top Dollar
When I say Make Improvements I don’t mean gut the kitchen or master bath and start from scratch, ( unless it is really in bad shape ). I mean make those changes that will make your house stand out when compared to other similar homes in your area. Ask yourself or better yet, your realtor, what are the things buyers are looking for today, what are the trends and features most desired. Remember just because you spent $40,000 on your kitchen remodel does not mean you will get 100% of that when you sell it. Those major renovations are “lifestyle” improvements, things you did at one time because you wanted to enjoy them. And just like a car once it leaves the car lot, that improvement expenditure starts decreasing in value as soon as you start using it. It is still enjoyable to you (and you probably wish you can move it to your new home) but it may or may not be the focus of attention to the new owner (buyer). So instead of starting all over again, check design magazines and look at what is new, not to be trendy, but to be “fresh” and not outdated. Are your appliances all the same color? If not, get some inexpensive ones, all white for instance (though stainless steel still ok) and replace them. If you can afford it, replace your Formica countertop with a granite one. If you have wall to wall carpet, replace with hardwood floors, at least in the main living places, you can probably leave the bedrooms with carpet. Replace the front door and perhaps the garage door as well. How about the windows, are they single pane? Perhaps insulated new windows will be best.
All other improvements you have made over the years, like a new roof, a new furnace, the new water heater. Do not really count. Those are not improvements are maintenance items, things that need to be replaced from time to time and are expected to be in functioning order or within a reasonable lifespan.
We got 20k Above asking Price!
We found that selling a house and moving out of it is much more stressful than buying a house and moving into it. As we were selling our house and moving out of it, Patricia helped us along the way with helpful suggestions born from her wealth of experience. Possibly more importantly, she mapped out a strategy and timeline that resulted in us receiving the first offer on our house within hours of the house becoming available and $20K over our asking price. We highly recommend Patricia Harris
Staging a home is REALLY important. Almost a MUST in today’s market. You can hire a staging professional or you can try to do it yourself. Re-arrange your existing furniture, you might even move pieces from one room to another. Buy new throw blankets or Bed covers, that will make a big difference. (by the way: I offer this service to my clients as part of my professional fee, not only I enjoy it but I am certified ). The fees to hire a professional vary greatly depending on how many rooms you want to be staged and the size of the house. Usually those fees today for a “small or basic staging” will range from $2500 to $5000. These professionals usually charge this fee to design the space, move in and move out the pieces. Those values usually include the first month, then they charge a monthly rent of those pieces. I recommend to at least do the first floor, living room, dining, and kitchen plus the master suite at a minimum if you can afford it. Any other odd shaped rooms would be good too to stage too.
How long does it take to sell your home?
It depends on the real estate market conditions -supply and demand-, the price of the home, it’s condition and motivation of the seller.
On a good day, if all stars align-, you can have your home Sold in a day. Most times, in a good market, it takes about a week. Each market is different and you will need to look at what is happening where you live before making a statement. The general rule of thumb is, if your house has not received an offer within the first 15 days then you need to adjust the price, not having offers (any offer -even low ball ones-) is an indication prospect are choosing other homes they see as of most value. Also, if you have not had at least 12 showings within those first two weeks, it is also an indication the price needs to be adjusted. Sure you can wait for the right buyer to come along, and sometimes depending on the magnitude of a house (luxury homes take a lot longer to sell) then waiting a month or two is appropriate. There is one indicator that you should FEAR, that is the DOM or Days On Market indicator. This is what I call the Kiss of Death for any listing. The longer a house sits on the market the worst it gets. The price will drop down eventually way below what you would have been able to get should the price have been set right to begin with. The main reason, buyers will start thinking “What is wrong with the house”, It will become Steal, almost as if it does not exist anymore.
Buying is emotional. Of course, you need to move and you need to be in X location, X school etc, the home you end up choosing is not only the one you based on your needs but also your emotions. It is well known by marketers that you buy with emotion and find later rational reasons to support those emotions. Talk to your realtor, he/she will be able to give you a snapshot of the market conditions in your market.
Once you get an offer, hopefully, the same day you put the house on the market. You will have to wait about 30 to 45 days for a buyer to get a loan. In some instances, buyers can pay cash, in this case, the process could be reduced to just 7 days. The time required to do a title search a take care of other legal issues. But for the most part, it is safe to say 45 days after receiving an offer.
Closing costs for the seller
When you list your home it can be easy to get caught up in the thoughts of how much you’ll make from selling, selling a house does not come without costs. Selling can get expensive, especially when one considers all the outside factors that go into a home sale. As a seller you can typically expect to pay these important items:
- Agent commission (Seller typically pays Buyer AND Seller commission) (7%)
- Staging and home preparation costs (1%)
- Seller concessions (1-3% )
- Repair costs (determined based on inspection)
- Homeownership/overlap/moving costs (1%)
- Closing costs or subsidy negotiated with buyer (1-3%)
Some costs you need to incur prior to putting your home on the market such as pre-inspection, pre-appraisal, staging, and repairs. The following list is just an estimate and was compiled from charges quoted on our numerous transactions by the title companies we usually contact. You should do your own due diligence and research. Per Virginia law, the buyer is the one that has the right to choose which Title company to use at settlement, though you can have your own representation if you wish. We call these split-settlements and have become more common in our area lately.
|Common Closing Charges||VA|
|Grantor Tax to Clerk of County||0.01% of purchase price|
|Regional Congestion Relief to Clerk of the Court||0.015% of purchase price|
|Transfer Tax||Check DC and MD up to 1.5%|
|Real Estate Commission||6% of purchase price|
|Wire Transfer Fee||$100|
|Lien Release Fee||$200|
|HOA or Condo Dues||Prorated amount|
How do you stage your house to sale
Staging is an art, something I love to do and offer a free consultation to my clients. If we can use existing pieces then the costs will go way down. If you have to move ALL your furniture then there are options. Depending on the size I might be able to help you with a couple of rooms, so the only charge would be a few hundred dollars for the moving van. Sometimes it is just a simple solution of moving furniture around, as I said before, remember you are moving so you will either have part with pieces, better to start early.
Do you have to pay taxes on the sale of your home?
The answer is YES. Always check with your accountant about the implications of selling your home. Though at least for now you do not need to pay for capital gains on the sell of your primary residence, this might not be the case any longer but the time you read this posts (regulations change). As of today, you will have to pay this for any other investment property. Again check with your financial advisor.
How to prepare for a home inspection
Sell a house fast for Cash
Cash for home is a term that isn’t in most cases meant in its essence the word, but meant to show a quick sale of the house for money.
It’s mostly a term used for selling a house privately and thru cash property buyers. These companies or people are looking to purchase houses throughout the country. They typically buy the houses and renovate them or in some instances sell them on to investors that don’t mind taking on the risk of acquiring a property, renovating it and going through the process of selling at a profit later on.
Selling a home for cash is a good option in case one is looking to raise quick money from the property in case you are having any financial difficulties, mortgage issues or other personal problems. Many individuals who’re relocating frequently need to sell their house for money just because they can’t afford to lose time.
Such companies give offers beneath the market value ( in my experience about 20%++ less in average) however if the expenses of selling a home plus copious amounts of repairs are required then sometimes those offers aren’t very unrealistic. It is always best to spend at least “some time” doing your due diligence
This option is usually the solution to many financial problems, though probably not the most profitable one for you. Always weigh in your options first and talk to a professional.