We get a lot of questions about home staging. It’s something that’s become part of our vernacular as Realtors® in the past decade or two, and a lot of Sellers are confused by what it means.

Some people assume home staging is renting fancy furniture to make the home look like a model home. But technically, staging is everything you do to present your home in the best possible way for a quick and successful sale. It can encompass everything from minor repairs to a kitchen facelift to a full bathroom renovation. But it can also be as simple as de-cluttering, de-personalizing (removing family photos and knick-knacks), putting a fresh coat of paint on the walls, cleaning up the yard, or replacing door knobs and bathroom fixtures.

The Right Furniture — Placed Well — Can Help Home Buyers Envision the Scale and Possibilities for a Room 

Staging can also involve re-arranging existing furniture to open up a space or make it look bigger…or it might mean working on lighting to give a home a brighter, cheerier look. After all, you want the professional photos of your home to really WOW potential Buyers.

Unstaged-Empty-Room

We can almost always work with clients’ existing furniture, but sometimes a situation arises in which a client has already moved out and we’re left with a vacant home, as with the example above. While it’s totally fine to show a vacant home, it doesn’t allow people to see a home’s potential. Ideally, you want to give Buyers a feel for the scale of a room — and more importantly, you want them to picture themselves living in your beautiful home. One option for vacant homes is to hire a stager to bring in furniture. But if that doesn’t appeal to you (or your budget), we can do “virtual staging.” Photos are taken, and a virtual stager works some magic with online software to make your home appear “staged” with furniture for photos in the MLS.

Look at the Difference Virtual Staging Can Make

For example, the photo above is a recent client’s empty upstairs “Loft” area BEFORE we had it virtually staged. Below is how it looked AFTER virtually staging it. Of course, we make it clear to Agents and Buyers looking at photos in the MLS that rooms are virtually staged (and many times we show photos of the rooms empty as well). We need to be transparent in that regard, and obviously when they go see the home in person, they’ll see that it’s empty. But virtual staging is a low-cost way to help Buyers envision how to best utilize the space. Because home offices are one of the most highly sought-after features of a home right now, we staged this Loft with a desk to suggest a way to to create a cozy workspace even though the home doesn’t technically have a “home office.” Home gyms are a huge selling point right now, too, and virtual staging can allow you to showcase an area of the basement that you might carve out for fitness equipment.

Virtually-staged-loft-with-home-office

 

If you have any questions about Virtual Staging — or other ways to portray your home in the best light for a future sale — let us know. We can provide a complimentary consultation — either in person or via FaceTime.  

 
 

With the crisp, cool, fall air settling into Northern Virginia, now, is a better time than any, to enjoy the gorgeous autumn views (and brews) throughout our community.

If you’re looking for an exciting hike this weekend, capped off with a local brew, check out one of these Northern Virginia hiking trails and nearby breweries.

The View

Bears Den Overlook

Location: Bluemont, Virginia
Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 1.7 miles

Bears Den Overlook is one of the most popular hiking trails in Loudoun County. Located just off Route 7, there is a main overlook at the top of the hike with a beautiful panoramic view of the Shenandoah Valley and the Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s best to hike this trail in the evening, so you’ll get to see a gorgeous sunset from the overlook. Turn your view and brew into a staycation with lodging available at both Bears Den and Bear Chase.

The Brew

Bear Chase Brewing Company

Location: Bluemont, Virginia
Fan-Favorite Brew: Kodiak Kölsch

Located less than a mile from Bears Den, Bear Chase Brewing Company is the perfect location for a post-hike drink. The team at Bear Chase wanted to re-purpose as much of the original farm property for their brewery and the Brew Barn is actually the original farm barn. If you’re looking for a fan-favorite brew, try the Kodiak Kölsch which won a 2020 Great American Beer Festival Silver medal in the German-Style Koelsch category.


The View

Eastern Watercress & Bank Barn Trail Loop at Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve

Location: Leesburg, Virginia
Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 1.42 miles

Nestled on 650 acres in the heart of Loudoun County, Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve offers more than 20 miles of hiking trails. By turning the Eastern Watercress Trail and Bank Barn Trail into a loop, you’ll enjoy a view of the wetlands, wooded area, and Goose Creek. During your easy 1.42 mile hike, listen in for the female spirit—or Banshee—throughout the hills and dales—or Reeks.

The Brew

Solace Brewing Company

Location: Sterling, Virginia
Fan-Favorite Brew: It’s Electric

Solace Brewing Company isn’t the closest brewery to Banshee Reeks, but it is the largest one in Loudoun County. Make the relatively short drive down Evergreen Mills Road after your hike to enjoy the giant brewery and dog-friendly taproom. Solace usually features local food trucks on the weekends, and if you’re lucky, they’ll have It’s Electric on tap to help you relax following your hike.


The View

Potomac Overlook Regional Park

Location: Arlington, Virginia
Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 1.4 miles

If you’re interested in exploring nature closer to the nation’s capital, swing by Potomac Overlook Regional Park. Featuring just under two miles of scenic woodland hiking trails, Potomac Overlook offers connecting access to the Potomac River and Potomac National Heritage Scenic Trail via the adjacent Donaldson Run Park. These trails are relatively easy to walk and perfect for the entire family.

The Brew

Board Room Brewing Company

Location: Arlington, Virginia
Fan-Favorite Brew: Ticket To Ride Red Ale

One of the newer breweries and taprooms in Clarendon, Board Room Brewing Company has already brewed up a few award winning brews, including The Bishop Brown and a fan-favorite brew—Ticket To Ride Red Ale—which earned first place for the best amber ale at the Virginia 2020 Craft Beer Cup!


The View

Old Rag Mountain

Location: Madison County, Virginia
Difficulty: Difficult
Distance: 10.8 miles

Are you up for a challenge? Old Rag Mountain is the most challenging hike on our list. Located within Shenandoah National Park, Old Rag Mountain climbs to 3,284 feet and features a couple difficult hikes ranging in distance from 9 to 10.8 miles. If the hike isn’t enough of a rush for you, there are great opportunities for rock climbing at Old Rag as well.

The Brew

Shotwell Run Brewing Company

Location: Etlan, Virginia
Fan-Favorite Brew: German Oktoberfest Bier

After a hike like Old Rag, you definitely deserve a beer, and Shotwell Run Brewing Company serves them up as good as any brewery around. Shotwell Run believes there is a season to everything, including beer, so their selection is always changing. They also try to stick to tradition, meaning their beers, like the German Oktoberfest Bier, feature ingredients from their countries of origin.

What’s your favorite view and brew in Northern Virginia? Let us know on Facebook, so we can enjoy a hike!

If Q3 2020 was any indication, the real estate market in Northern Virginia is still on the rise. Homes are flying off the market at a record pace for more money than they have since our housing boom in the early 2000s. Location independence, outdoor expansion, the need for multi-purpose sanctuaries, and historically low mortgage rates are encouraging residents of Washington, D.C. and its immediate suburbs to set roots further west—in Loudoun County.

Homes Continue to Sell

When the coronavirus first caused shutdowns throughout the nation’s capital region in March, Q2 home sales in Loudoun County in stalled to six-year lows. However, those numbers quickly rebounded in Q3 when 2,023 residential units were sold, the most on record since Q3 2005. That trend also seems to be continuing as 737 homes were sold in October 2020, the most homes sold in October in more than 20 years. For reference, 538 homes were sold in Loudoun in October 2019.

Average Sales Price Continue to Rise

While the number of homes sold continues to trend upward, so does the average price. In Q3 2019, homes in Loudoun County sold for an average of $548,440. In Q3 2020, homes sold for an average of $613,333. The near 12% year-over-year increase is the highest increase in average sale price in Loudoun since 2004–2005. That trend continued into October when Loudoun homes sold for an average of $605,000, a 10% increase versus average sales price in October 2019.

The average home sale price in September 2020 was the highest average sales price for homes in Loudoun in a single month…ever. With inflation, increased home sale prices might seem normal, however, before September 2020, you had to look back to August 2005 for the month with the highest average home sale months in Loudoun.

Homes Continue to Fly Off the Market

Lastly, the listed homes in Loudoun are not lasting long. In Q3 2020, the average home in Loudoun was on the market for just over 18 days, the shortest amount of time on the market in more than 20 years. In Q3 2019, Loudoun homes were on the market for nearly double that at 35 days.

Are These Trends Here to Stay?

We are now nearly a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, and people and businesses are fully recognizing the benefits of remote work options. Technologies like Zoom, Google Docs, and Slack or Microsoft Teams mean that coworkers don’t have to be sitting in side-by-side cubicles to keep businesses moving forward. Additionally, many companies are reporting increased employee morale—due to better work-life balance and less time sitting on the Beltway—actually leading to increased productivity outside of the traditional office.

We saw the typically active spring market slide into summer and October was a major indicator that the typically active summer market will slide into the fall. Trends show that people are fully embracing wanting more space, more nature, and more privacy. And smaller communities outside of Washington, D.C. are embracing the changing needs of their changing demographics as well, adding new infrastructure, entertainment venues, restaurants, and shopping centers further supporting the westward shift in Northern Virginia’s home buying trends.

Whether you’re looking to move to Loudoun County and enjoy the many things our community has to offer or you’re looking to move even further out of Washington, D.C.’s metropolitan region, 15 West Homes is here to help you whether you’re selling, buying, renting, or staying put.

Market stats provided by Dulles Area Association of Realtors®