Bristow, VA Real Estate News

By Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Bristow, VA
(Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA)
Wildlife in Bristow, VA Just Got a Little More IntimidatingSightings of wildlife in Bristow generally range from birds as large as turkeys, turkey vultures and hawks and mammals from fox, raccoons and deer.  It seems that the last few days there has been a larger fella lumbering about.  The photo above (and all photos in this post are courtesy of a Kingsbrooke resident) who spotted this young black bear on her doorstep.Sightings of young black bears in Bristow, Gainesville and Haymarket are not unusual.  What is unusual is that this one seems to be lingering around Bristow and not passing through.  When their mother mudges them away, these youngsters must find their own territory.  When they are looking for that place, that is when we see them traverse our area.  Apparently, this one ha...
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By Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Bristow, VA
(Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA)
Taking Fluffing to a Whole New LevelExactly how would you go about describing a jetted soaking tub with jets plugged up with chaulk?  It would likely be an explanation of why the jets were filled with chaulk and an explanation that the tub was being sold as-is.  This, of course, if you couldn't get the seller the replace or repair the tub in the $600,000+ home.Imagine my surprise when I listing I had interviewed for, but not landed,  hired an agent who did in fact list the tub as-is to buyer agents, but not to buyers.  In buyer remarks, the tub was remarked as "sumptuous."  I don't know about you, but the word sumptuous evokes nothing I would get from the local hardware store for utilitarian purposes...especially not CHAULK that is stopping a leak.  And in yet another story of over play...
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By Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Bristow, VA
(Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA)
Why Should I Work For LESS, When I'm Doing MORE?I know I am not the only listing agent out there being tried by sellers who want major discounts because "it's so easy to sell homes these days."  The reality of the situation is this, we do the same amount of work for every listing regardless of market when it comes to preparation.  When it comes to reviewing dozens of offers in a tight time frame and picking the best one for a seller's net that poses the least risk, that's MORE than we do in a buyer's market.  Our effort should not be measured by days on market.  Just my thought this evening after talking to four sellers this week that fell in two camps of thought on perceived effort for offered compensation.  I hope you'll stop by and read my personal blog on the subject.
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By Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Bristow, VA
(Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA)
Have You Considered Leaving It For the Buyers?The Bristow/Gainesville real estate market is on fire.  Can you imagine a townhouse getting forty-five offers?  Happened this part weekend.  My buyer clients happened to be part of the madness.  It's so hard to be competitive in this seller's market.  Buyers are having to let go of every  contingency and shoot  seven to ten percent higher than list price just to be chosen.  It's exhausting to be part of it, no matter what side of the deal you are on.As I waited to hear back on the offer my buyers made, I spent part of my morning looking through Facebook.  One post in particular made me angry.  A home seller advertising a gorgeous, free standing island with granite top that they had purchased two weeks ago.  I imagine they bought it to make t...
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By Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Bristow, VA
(Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA)
Why Are Listing Agents Under Pricing Homes Right Now?Last night I had to deliver bad news to buyers that their offer on their dream home had not been accepted.  They went ten thousand over list price, had an earnest money deposit fives times higher than what would be considered typical, a home inspection with right to void only and financing and appraisal contingencies.  The problem was, the listing was under priced and I knew that going in.There is a nasty trend developing in the Bristow/Gainesville market of agents under pricing homes to get ridiculous amounts of offers.  When I first called on this listing, the agent said she wanted it be more widely available.  That's nice, but the reality was this home was not as widely available as advertised.  Counseling buyers on what a home is ...
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By Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Bristow, VA
(Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA)
Getting a Handle on a Seller's Market When You Are a BuyerEntering a seller's market as a buyer can be trying.  Too much competition and too few homes can feel like you are pushing a boulder uphill.  In seller market conditions, prices are going up...FAST.  How do you get under contract with a property?It starts with planning showings as far out as you can.  Coming soon listings may not have interior pictures, but book your showing NOW.  If you don't like what you see in the professional photos, cancel the showing.  But in a seller's market, with pandemic precautions making it impossible to have overlapping showings, book the time as soon as you.  In concert with planning as far out as you can, you also need to be flexible.  Don't make solid plans when house hunting is a top priority.  ...
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By Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Bristow, VA
(Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA)
How Do You Handle Parental Involvement in the House Hunt?When you are buying your first home, the feeling to reach out to mom and dad may be stronger for some than others.  Should your parents be involved in the process?  Are they local?  Are they interested in being involved?  Do they feel they need to be involved because they are making a down payment gift?Parental involvement can be a blessing or a curse, all depending on how willing your parents are to be part of the process.  In the course of house hunting, your agent will educate about many things.  Market conditions are at the topmost important considerations when it comes to making an offer.  If your parents haven't heard any of the facts and figures about market conditions, and give you contradictory advice to what your agent i...
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By Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Bristow, VA
(Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA)
When Reality is Just Too RealLooks like more of the same for buyers in Bristow and Gainesville to get under contract in 2021 as we saw for the majority of 2020.  Sellers are in charge and getting multiple offers.  Being a buyer's agent you fee like you can't represent a buyer's best interests to the core because they have to forego so many contingencies just to be chosen as the winning offer.  The goal has changed to simply getting a home while interest rates are low.Today I had the experience of working with another agent's buyer. I have heard about this buyer for a long time.  She's stuck in a mindset the market is wrong, she's right and eventually, she will get a home with a list price offer or below with all the contingencies her heart desires...maybe even some closing cost help.  (...
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By Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Bristow, VA
(Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA)
Snow Days are Still Snow DaysDespite what the now virtual attendance, that I like to refer to as "Zoom school," being mandatory since the pandemic darkened our doors, snow days are still snow days.  Prince William County Public Schools, with the forecast of snow on December 16, 2020 canceled VIRTUAL school.  Let me repeat that.  Prince William County canceled VIRTUAL SCHOOL due to inclement weather.What the **** is going on?  When is someone going to wake me from the ludricous nonsense happening around me.  Each day I think I understand our new normal, only to learn that I don't.Unfortunately, the only thing I do still know for sure is the sun rises in the east, sets in the west and moves along the southern sky, making northern exposure driveways like mine a bear after even a lightweigh...
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By Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Bristow, VA
(Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA)
Doing Right By Your Sellers Without Jacking Around Cooperating AgentsYesterday I got news that my buyer-clients, who had submitted an offer in a multiple offer scenario, had lost out.  Not a shock. In the area they were looking, there were only two homes on the market in their price range.  And I know there are plenty of buyers looking for single family detached homes in that price range.  What I didn't expect was hearing we were the 30th offer of 51 offers.  That's insanity and a waste of so many people's time.As a Bristow listing agent, I have been at the helm of many of these scenarios myself.  I know there is a ceiling that is reached on value after about four offers.  And if your seller is looking for something specific, you can certainly let agents with interested buyers know.  On...
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By Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Bristow, VA
(Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA)
If You Are Going to Stage...If there is one thing you need to know about me, I am a stickler for details.  That attention to detail is what I bring to my sellers before we list their homes.  Things that incongruous, eye sores, or just dirty need to be dealt with before staging with furniture items even matters.Tonight I toured a home in Bristow, one of only two on the market below a particular price point, and it was staged beautifully with art work, living room furniture, dining room furniture, master bedroom furniture, etc.  The stager went all out on decor.  What the stager missed entirely included: Missing light bulbs on the strip bathroom vanity lights A variety of size and shape light bulbs in the foyer chandelier Absolutely zero lighting in three of the four upper level bedrooms ...
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By Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Bristow, VA
(Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA)
Just Having a Back Up Plan Alleviates PressureYet again, for the umpteenth time in my career as a Bristow/Gainesville real estate agent, the words temporary housing came up today.  No seller ever enters the market, with the plans to move up and downsize, thinking they will have to move twice.  The desire to move twice does not exist for any person I have ever met.  My mom has been quoted as saying, "Moving is like dying and going to hell."  Of course no one wants to move twice.  My goal as a Bristow/Gainesville Listing Agent is never have my clients have to move twice.  It starts with post settlement occupancy in a seller's market.  When inventory is limited and buyers are numerous, it is hard to get a home sale contingency to play.  And if you were to get another seller to agree to you...
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By Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Bristow, VA
(Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA)
The MLS is a Powerful ToolAny top producing real estate agent knows how to do quick investigations using the MLS.  Early on in my career when I would sit as the floor agent in the office, I would get callers with not nearly enough information on properties wanting more information.  I quickly learned how to do map searches, searches based on street names, our office inventory and even brokerage names.  (It was odd how many buyers would end up calling our office for other brokerages listings.  Getting them to describe the sign out front would help.Of course, not every investigation has had to do with a property for sale.  Not too long ago, an agent in our office was visiting a friend several counties away and feel down a flight of stairs.  Another friend of hers and I in the office were ...
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By Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Bristow, VA
(Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA)
Professional Grade Camera or Professional PhotographerIn my local market of Bristow/Gainesville, Viriginia, I see more and more agents taking pride in their listings and hiring professional photographers.  I held out until 2017 to go with a pro, but once I did, I never looked back.  Truth is, I am best at marketing homes and networking with agents.  While I love to play around with photography and have some really good equipment, I never get the results the professionals do.  For that reason, I will never attempt to photograph my own listings again.I still make sure my listings are "saying cheese" when the photographer arrives though.  Again, having eye for details is where I shine and therefore, help my sellers shine.  I'll leave the photography, though, to the pros.  I may the equipme...
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By Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Bristow, VA
(Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA)
It May Not Be Important to You, But It's Important to Your Client Everyone has different criteria when they are searching for a home to buy.  Many times that criteria will include commute time to work, school districts for kids and sometimes, it will include features for their pets...like fenced yards, flatter yards, proximity to vets, etc.  As a mom to four feline family members, I can tell you that I never judge any buyer's want or need to accommodate their pet. However, over the years I have heard non-pet friendly agents voice their frustation over a house hunt with a buyer looking for, say, a fenced back yard for their dog.  Maybe inventory is tight and the budget they are searching in isn't kicking up fenced properties.  Instead of judging that you would NEVER let a dog dictate wha...
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By Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Bristow, VA
(Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA)
Just Because It Is a Seller's Market...The level of frustration for buyers in the current Bristow/Gainesville marketplace is through the roof.  So many buyers for every listing that comes up on the market means that there are often five or more buyers knocking each other out to win the home.  Closing cost assistance is near impossible to get.  Over list price offers are common.  And now buyers are starting to waive inspections and make low appraisal guarantees that they will kick in "X" dollars above a low appraisal.  Sellers have the advantage big time.Just because it's a seller's market doesn't mean buyers will go nuts for a home in desperate need of carpet and paint and other updates and poorly marketed, listed for top of market.A home popped up in my buyer's search area, which also ...
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By Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Bristow, VA
(Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA)
House Hunting in the Bristow/Gainesville Low Inventory MarketThe subtitle of this post could easily be, "The Downside of Coming Soon Listings."  Right now, I am working with a handful of buyers in the Bristow/Gainesville area and house hunting feels more like being on a scavenger hunt.  There is hardly anything to choose from.  And even when a great listing is active, able to be seen and available to buy, many of my buyer-clients will want to wait to see how it stacks up against a property or two that is listed as coming soon in our MLS.  The big problem with that strategy is that the house you just looked at that is active won't be available by the time the coming soon listings go active, even if that is just three days away.  Houses in the Bristow/Gainesville real estate market go fas...
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By Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Bristow, VA
(Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA)
Another Pandemic Era Closing in Bristow, Another Lesson in TechnologyWhen COVID-19 shut down businesses all over Virginia and changed our daily lives, I had no idea that the real estate market would shake off the effects.  The pandemic, while changing the way we market, meet clients, show properties and conduct closings, has not slowed the pace of the Bristow real estate market.  The tale of 12007 Bristow Village Blvd. in New Bristow Village is a perfect example of what the Bristow real estate market is like.  This lovely single family home hit the market on May 20th (2020,) priced at $568,000.  Because of a COVID exposure in my immediate family, I was unable to help the sellers prep for the photos, or meet the photographer at the property.  Thankfully, the sellers were practically read...
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By Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Bristow, VA
(Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA)
How NOT to Negotiate a Home InspectionThe mark of a great real estate agent is one that understands how market conditions can affect negotiations.  They also understand the importance of playing information close to the vest.  The less the other side knows, the less can be used against your clients.  They also don't make negotiations personal.Despite being in the throws of a pandemic, the Bristow real estate market is a very strong seller's market.  Houses that are priced right don't sit around long.  And in many price ranges, there are still multiple offer situations.  Many buyers are foregoing the need to ask for repairs in home inspection contingencies, opting only for the right to void a contract if they find the home has too many projects/concerns for them to take on.  In higher pr...
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By Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Bristow, VA
(Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA)
What's Cookin' in the Bristow VA Real Estate Market this Memorial Day?Our first cook out holiday during a pandemic.  Hard to believe we've been sheltering in place since mid-March.  St. Patrick's Day was a bust.  No restaurants were open and we were ordered to shelter-in-place.  Easter was a big downer.  Not even churches were allowed to have services.  Now, here we are more than two months later and we are still sheltering in place and the community at large are in social media debates daily over whether wearing a mask is necessary to stop the spread of coronavirus.  All I want is a hot dog and some rest.This Top Bristow Real Estate Agent has been at it non-stop with listings for the last few weeks.  While some may believe this pandemic has shut down everything, the Bristow real estate...
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