Real Advice For Northern Virginia Home Sellers 
Need for real advice for Northern Virginia home sellers?
Reality check. Things just got real. It’s time to sell your Northern Virginia home in 2022. The market has been crazy, and in many respects, still is. Maybe you’re looking to upgrade or downsize or relocate for work. Or perhaps you’ve had a property in rental for a number of years and now it’s time to sell. Whatever the case, there’s a lot of advice out there for Northern Virginians, but I want to give it to you straight in terms of what you can expect. As a home seller, naturally you’re going to be focused on getting top dollar for your property, and rightfully so. But don’t let that fixation get in the way of realizing what it’s going to take to get your property in the best condition possible—and better yet, keep an open mind when it comes to what you think your home is worth (i.e. Zillow may not be accurate). Here is some good old fashioned honest advice about what you can expect when selling your home in Northern Virginia. The short of it: The quality of your property matters.
Partner with a Great Northern Virginia Realtor
Of course you’re expecting me to say that, but it’s true! For real! In my honest opinion, you need to interview multiple agents to find out who is going to be a good fit for you, especially if this is your first time selling a home. The reality is not all matches are made in heaven and you need to feel confident that your Realtor is going to be able to meet your needs. In truth, you need to work with someone who will give it to you straight and not just tell you what you want to hear. You also need an agent with a good reputation and expert knowledge of your neighborhood. And, you need to feel good about the listing price the agent recommends, as in that listing price is supported with credible comparative data. Finally, you need to feel confident that the agent is detail-oriented, a solid negotiator, and will be meticulous with the paperwork.
Get the Exterior of Your Property in Order
Sure sure, you probably already know this, but if your homes needs a little maintenance, you’ve got to take care of it. Maybe you need to do some power-washing, replace rotted dormers, repaint the porch, or cleanup the yard, all of which are totally common but need to get done asap. If the repairs are minor you can make a list, set aside a couple of weekends, and just knock it out yourself. Otherwise, if the list is extensive and major (like roof repair), you need to start getting some quotes from contractors to find out what kind of expenses you’re looking at. And don’t hesitate to ask your Realtor for recommendations—they should have a good local network.
Be Realistic About the Interior
Upgrades are a major selling feature but don’t go overboard. If you’ve done some upgrades overtime like installed new countertops, flooring, or appliances that’s terrific. And, depending on the market you’re selling in, you may need to do some upgrades to compete, but you will want to get some advice from your Realtor first. The biggest thing you’re going to need to weigh is return on investment and whether that $8k bathroom remodel is truly going to give you a greater return on the sale of your home. In some cases, an upgrade might help you sell the house faster but won’t necessarily give you the return you were hoping for. Oftentimes smaller investments like fresh paint, carpet cleaning, and new fixtures will go a long way in improving the overall appearance of your home.
Declutter and Simplify Your Life
As a home seller, you may still be living in the property you’re trying to sell. Sometimes that can’t be avoided. Of course, in a perfect world the home would be empty and beautifully staged for listing, but if this isn’t your situation don’t despair. What you can do is clear out as much clutter as possible. Anything that you don’t need should get packed up and either moved to storage or neatly organized in one central location (like in a basement out of view). And I’m being real serious here. Get as much out as possible. I’m talking pictures on the wall, that stack of old CDs in the corner, that pile of clothes in your closet you haven’t worn in 10 years—get it out! You don’t want sellers looking at the magnets on your fridge--you want them looking at the house. You don’t want them questioning whether the house has enough storage because you’re kitchen table looks like a tornado just rolled through. I can’t stress this enough. Simplify your life and declutter pronto. Besides, this will save you some packing time later.
Listing Price Matters
As I mentioned earlier, you’re going to want to be realistic about the value of your home. This is not to say that you’re home isn’t worth a lot! But it may not be worth quite as much as you think. Pricing your home accurately is critical. You don’t want the house to sit on the market for 60 days not selling and then be forced to reduce the price because it was overpriced to begin with. It doesn’t look good. Of course, your agent needs to provide you with comparative data that supports the list price their recommendation. They also need to help you understand all the factors they used to arrive at their suggested list price. In addition to this, you can do your own reality check by simply taking a look at the active properties for sale in your neighborhood on Zillow, Trulia, or Realtor.com. At the very least this will give you a more realistic sense of what the market looks like in your neck of the woods, which at the very least can help you prepare for reality.
I’ll be short and sweet here. You better darn well make sure your agent understands that photos are critical. If your agent doesn’t provide professional photography or doesn’t seem all that concerned about photography--as in they seem to be indifferent about photos or say they’re not that big of a deal, move on from that agent. Photos matter greatly and a good Realtor will know this. And don’t be afraid to ask to see the photos before the listing goes up.
Get Mentally Prepared for Home Showings
Opening your house up to strangers is part of the deal and has to happen. Certainly, if you’re living in the house having people show up on waffle Saturday isn’t exactly anyone’s idea of a good time, but know that it’s a temporary part of the process that won’t last forever. Your listing, if done correctly, will see a flurry of activity in the first two weeks to 30 days, so if you set your frame of mind in those terms it becomes easier to set your expectations. You can also schedule an open house, which can help too. When you get a notice of a showing, put everyone in the car and head out for a bit—go run errands or grab a bite to eat. If you have a pet, take the pet with you if you can, otherwise make sure there is a note in your listing that there’s a pet on the premise. You can also set showing times in your listing, but be cautious of this as you don’t want to miss an opportunity to have a potential buyer look at your house.
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