I’m not complaining but …

Sometimes it sucks to be a realtor. I’m not complaining though. Most days are like this:

Will Nesbitt

On days like this, I love my vocation. I get to meet new people, look at interesting real estate and gossip with folks on my blog. I like driving around Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax County. I like seeing people realize their dreams. The pay is not bad, but the hours are long. Still, I like what I do …

Except …

A couple of days a year, when being a realtor feels like this:

Will Nesbitt

Yesterday I was sick as a dog. But I had time sensitive documents that had to be taken care of. I dragged myself to the office and took care of business. I’m feeling better today … but yesterday was one of those days.


Will Nesbitt About the AuthorWill Nesbitt is the principal broker of Condo Alexandria and Nesbitt Realty. Will specializes in condos, townhouses and single family residences in Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax County, Crystal City, and Kingstowne. Will resides in Belle Haven Estates just outside Alexandria VA in Fairfax County.
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A Tale of Two Short Sales

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times …


In many parts of the country the economy is stalled. One indication of this condition is the many short-sales and foreclosures on the market.  But that means opportunity for savvy buyers.  This is a tale of two buyers, Amy and Edwin. Both are buyers. Both have short-sales under contract. Both have been waiting months to go forward.

 

It was the age of wisdom; it was the age of foolishness

Short-sales often advertise ridiculously low prices.  In Northern Virginia, it’s not difficult to find short-sales selling for $10,000, $20,000 even $50,000 or more less than than comparable homes available for sale.  This is the time of bargains, and lenders in up-side down loans are hurting. But that doesn’t mean they’re giving away free money in America.

It was the epoch of incredulity; it was the season of light …

Here’s a tip from one who knows: when you find a home for sale for much less than all of the comparables, you probably have not found a bargain; you’ve probably found a waste of time.  Oh sure, you should check it out, but don’t get your hopes too high. Ask your realtor for the inside story.  If he or she tells you to walk away … walk away.

It was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope …

Short sales are not. (Short.) Homes that sell for far less than any comparable homes don’t. (Sell.) Now is a great time to buy.  But now more than ever, buyers need experienced realtors who will get a home … not a contract and a hope.

it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had
nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way–in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

Amy and Edwin both put in contracts for short sales.  Amy is closing today on the home of her dreams.  She paid more than the asking price and less than the market value.  Months later, Edwin is still waiting for a decision.  He has contracted at a price much lower than the assessed value.  But that does not a bit of good if the bank will not sell the home.  Maybe Edwin will one day buy the home of his dreams.

He lowered the window, and looked out at the rising sun. There was a ridge of ploughed land, with a plough upon it where it had been left last night when the horses were unyoked; beyond, a quiet coppice-wood, in which many leaves of burning red and golden yellow still remained upon the trees. Though the earth was cold and wet, the sky was clear, and the sun rose bright, placid, and beautiful.

 

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Coming Attractions from the Torpedo Factory condos

Torpedo Factory

Are you looking for two bedrooms in one of the most desirable neighborhoods in Northern Virginia? This is your “heads-up”.

We’ll soon be offering a condominium for sale at the famed Torpedo Factory condos in Old Town Alexandria VA.

porch

There are a few details we’re going to take care of before formally offering the place for sale, but one of the highlights of the home has to be the patio and sunroom.

At the edge of the formal gardens in the courtyard of the Torpedo Factory condos, this home is just paces from all the many attractions and activities of Old Town. The restaurants, the waterfront and everything that is wonderful about Old Town Alexandria is at your doorstep when you live at the Torpedo Factory.

Call 703 765 0300 to inquire about the availability of this home which promises to be priced right and delivered in top condition.


Will Nesbitt About the AuthorWill Nesbitt is the principal broker of Condo Alexandria and Nesbitt Realty. Will specializes in condos, townhouses and single family residences in Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax County, Crystal City, and Kingstowne. Will resides in Belle Haven Estates just outside Alexandria VA in Fairfax County.
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The customer is always right … but the client is not.

It doesn’t happen often, but about once a year I anger a potential client.  Usually it’s a prospective renter. I throw this story out to my fellow realtors and real estate agents, because I don’t like it when people get mad at me and I like to re-examine what I did so that the next time this won’t happen.

About Me and My Business

Nesbitt Realty focuses largely on condominiums.  We sell all types of real estate, but a large part of our business is condominiums. As I often tell people,
Dairy Queen sells hamburgers and McDonald’s sells ice cream. Once you’re in the door, they’ll sell you what you need. It is the same with us. We are focused on condos because our office is located on the first floor of a residential high-rise condominium community called River Towers.

To folks who don’t know anything about condominiums or real estate, River Towers looks a lot like an apartment building. About a year and a half ago—the last time I dealt with an angry renter—I followed up with an article that explained the differences between apartments and condos, and I posted it prominently on our website. Because our building looks like an apartment building, our office might seem like a rental office to some people.

I say all that in fairness to the prospective renter that I angered.  We look like a rental office, but we’re not a rental office.

As for my personal state of mind, I’ve been working back-to-back-to-back seven-day weeks for a pretty good stretch now.  I purposefully did not schedule any appointments yesterday because I’ve been so busy and wanted a little break.  However, without any appointments scheduled and with the phones a little quieter than usual, I slipped into the office to get a tiny bit of work done. I didn’t shave. I was wearing shorts.  I even paused to play a computer game. It was quite nice.

Enter Jane

That’s when this lady, we’ll call her “Jane”, walked in.  I was a little surprised to see her because visitors at our building have to be buzzed in. Jane said, “I’m here to take a look at rentals.

Nesbitt Realty in Alexandria VAI said, “When are you moving?” Jane said, “November or December.”

This is September. I told her, “Anything you will see now will be rented before November or December. This is a condominium community, not an apartment complex—”  I wanted to explain to her why we only
assist prospective renters who have an immediate or very specific need.  We’re not in the business of giving world tours to renters who might rent a few months. This might sound tough to some, but many agents won’t help renters at all.

Jane didn’t want to hear about this or why we do business the way we do business. Instead, she interrupted me.   What she wanted me to know as that she was here to look at places and by golly she wanted to see some places.

I was too exhausted, too tired, to really sugar-coat my response. I told her, “I’m happy to answer all the questions you’d like. I’ll tell you prices. I’ll show you pictures, but I’m not going to wander around showing you places that you won’t rent.”

Jane was indignant and shocked.  I tried to explain to her more. I tried to explain to her why I was telling her this but she didn’t want to hear it.  She demanded to see some “samples”.

I replied, “There are no samples. These are condominiums.” Condominiums are individually owned and thus each condo is unique.

Because she was so insistent, I agreed to show her around, “I’ll be happy to show you something but you’ll have to pay a $100 retainer.  If you rent something you can apply this money to your rent. If you don’t rent that’s the charge for seeing a unit.”

Jane gets angry

That was enough to push Jane from upset to angry. She crossed her arms and demanded to see units in River Towers. My wife, who has a desk nearby injected herself into the drama.  Julie told her, “I’m sorry for him. He’s been working for more than 30 days straight, what’s he’s trying to say is — ”

Jane cut her off. My work schedule is not her problem.  In fact, Jane wanted me to know that she works hard too. Julie Nesbitt --- Condominium Mortgage

I understand that sentiment and I don’t blame her for feeling that way. In fact, I told my wife, “She doesn’t care how hard I work. Nor should she.  The important thing to understand is why this business works this way.”

The resolution

I then tried to begin to explain how rental agency works, but Jane was too angry at this point to listen.  She demanded to speak to my boss.  I was perhaps a bit of a smart-ass when I reached across my desk and handed her one of my cards. Jane said, “I don’t want to talk to you! I want your boss.”

If I wasn’t so tired, I would have thought fast enough to refer her to my wife, but instead I told her the truth. “I own the company, ma’m.”

Well, this is an outrage.  She’s never seen anything like this in her life. She was now tirading.

But at this point, it was my turn to interrupt her, “Ma’am if you really are off from work, you’re just wasting your precious time by yelling at me.  That shopping center over there has a Wiechert office with agents that will be glad to help you.”

I sort of felt guilty for the newbies working desk duty at Wiechert, but maybe she will rent something off of them so maybe I did them a favor.

The lesson

In retrospect, I know where we had our disconnect but I’m not sure how to avoid it in the future. Jane had been trained by her experience in retail to believe that the customer is always right. What she doesn’t understand is that the customer is always right, but the client is not always right.

By that I mean, customers make purchases from retailers.  I am not a
retailer.  I am a professional providing a service to my clients.  My clients come to me because they want my advice and expertise.  I often give my expertise away, but I am not required to give my expertise away. Furthermore, I can’t give you the benefit of my expertise if think that I’m a retailer.

Whether they are renters, buyers, sellers or landlords, I provide my clients with honest, direct and factual advice. I explain to them as best as I can the facts as I understand them. I let my clients make their own decisions. I can’t make their decisions for them. But I have been around too long to have a client use me as a personal door-opener in their quest to find what they seek.

I’ve learned the hard way that folks who insist on seeing things that aren’t what they want are a waste of my extremely valuable time.  If you tell me you want something specific and then I tell you that what you want to see isn’t what you want, then I know that you are either not telling me the truth about your needs or you have no respect for my opinion and time.  I cannot help a client who wants to use me as a tool rather than as a professional. This is most especially true when that potential client is a renter, which means they are very small
potatoes for me.


Will Nesbitt About the AuthorWill Nesbitt is the principal broker of Condo Alexandria and Nesbitt Realty. Will specializes in condos, townhouses and single family residences in Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax County, Crystal City, and Kingstowne. Will resides in Belle Haven Estates just outside Alexandria VA in Fairfax County.
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Washer and Dryer in the Unit?

This week I was in a condo selling for over a million dollars.  It was a beautiful condominium home with excellent views, a state of the art kitchen and all the upgrades one might expect … except the unit didn’t have a washer and dryer.

the Representative

Because my office is in River Towers, and we also serve Belle View, I often confront the question of a washer and dryer in the unit. (Neither River Towers nor Belle View has laundry in the unit.) I’ve talked to the older residents of River Towers about this and surprisingly many of them resist the idea of putting laundry in the unit. They like their laundry-rooms right where they are—thank you very much.

This might seem baffling to some of the younger generation, but laundry rooms have a number of distinct advantages:

  • community — You get to know your neighbors in the laundry room. This creates a sense of community and you know who belongs in the secured areas and who is a stranger.
  • maintenance — You don’t have to worry about buying a new washer when the old one breaks down. More importantly you don’t have to worry about your personal laundry flooding a neighbor’s condo.
  • square footage — Laundry takes up space. You have more space in your unit if you have a community laundry room
  • more washers — Many folks like to wait and do an entire week of laundry at one time. If you have a laundry room you’re not limited to one small washer. You have many washers available.

In a luxury community, most people don’t do their own laundry anyway, so they don’t care if the laundry is outside the unit. My tip to folks who are shopping for homes in Northern Virginia: don’t box yourself in. If you won’t consider a unit with a laundry room, you’re walking past some of the best neighborhoods in Northern VA.

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The courtyard of the Olympus at Landmark

The building’s unique curved shaped offers intriguing vistas and not just from the oversized curved balconies that each unit enjoys. The Olympus is located in the West End of Alexandria between I-495 and I-395 near Landmark Mall. The Sentinel of Landmark is across the street, but there are many condominiums in this area, including

West End real estate agents.
Nesbitt Realty can help you buy and sell real estate in West End.
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Should I wait for prices to drop before purchasing?

National trends may be continuing to decline, but in Alexandria, Arlington, and nearby parts of Northern Virginia real estate is showing two signs of a comeback.  According to an MRIS Press Release: “Selling prices remain flat metro wide in the Greater Washington DC region, but the central jurisdictions—DC, Alexandria, and Arlington and Montgomery counties—continue to buck the trend.”

John McClain, Senior Fellow at George Mason University’s School of Public Policy, was quoted by them as saying, “Prices continue to rise in the central jurisdictions. They’re in a much better price position due to their premium location.”

The most dramatic is an increase in prices of home sales, but equally important is the shortening of time properties are on the market.  These two combine to reduce the available inventory available to buyers.  Waiting can be a shortcut to loss, so holding off in anticipation of falling prices can leave you kicking yourself for missing good deals.

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Farmer’s Market at Sherwood Hall Library

At the nearby Sherwood Hall Library every Tuesday the Farmer’s Market gathers many River Towers locals.

Get your flowers and veggies!

A selection of homemade pies and pastries.

Something for Everyone

The farmer’s market has locally grown organic fruits, vegetables and pies & pastries, all natural free-range meats, as well as crafts and other interesting items brought to us by farmers near the area.

Fresh squash & zucchini in early summer!

Just off the stalk corn and freshly picked beans.


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