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Tips and Tricks: Advice from Local Realtors

Looking to buy or sell your home? These local realtors have the answers to your questions about the current marketplace and how you can succeed in buying or selling your home!

Ken Trotter is the CEO and principal realtor with the Silver Line Group. Going on his 10th year as a real estate agent, Trotter mainly focuses on buying and selling homes in the Falls Church and Arlington areas.

Ken Trotter, CEO and principal realtor of Silver Line Group, speaks with a client. (Photos: Courtesy of Ken Trotter)

For Trotter, he said he doesn’t focus on the volume of homes he helps buy and sell, but rather the “quality of service” for each individual family that he’s worked with.

Trotter said he views himself as a “fiduciary” by empowering his clients to make the “right decisions for themselves,” which includes “arming them with the information they need to find the right home for them and make a move when they’re ready.” As for helping buyers with a specific price range, Trotter first starts by trying to identify what their “goals and objectives” are because “every individual family’s situation is unique and one home does not meet everybody’s needs.”

His tip for helping a buyer find their “dream home” is to begin with a personalized property search, which “maps” their hopes and dreams to the active available market inventory, followed by making sure the buyer has their “financing in place.” Finally, Trotter said he helps buyers understand the market conditions, whether it be an “aggressive seller’s market” or a “buyers market.” For helping sellers, Trotter and his team “really work with them to strategically prepare their home for a market,” which includes a “comprehensive review of the home” from the outside to the inside and then working to “optimally position the house for the market with an excellent online marketing package.”

Kathy Pippin is the owner/CEO of Kathy Pippin Properties, as well as an agent for “close to 12 years.” Mainly focusing on the buying and selling of homes “pretty much everywhere in Fairfax County,” Pippin said helping buyers find homes in the Falls Church area is “super easy” due to it being “walkable to restaurants and shops, great schools and fantastic neighborhoods.”

When Pippin is helping buyers find a home, she stated that the first meeting she has with a buyer is “really a discovery meeting” and understanding what their vision is based on their likes/dislikes and budget can “help guide them and stay on track.” For buyers to “win in this market,” the first meeting between a buyer and realtor is “essential” as it “really lays out the foundation of how successful they are going to be.” As for sellers, Pippin said sellers must make sure “their pricing is correct” and work with “somebody who’s knowledgeable.” Sellers should also ask realtors an important question: “What are they doing to market?”

Due to her “love of education,” Pippin said she wants to make sure the first meeting with a buyer or seller is a session that “will answer a lot of questions” and to educate potential clients about “possible strategies and the pros/cons of those different strategies.” Kathy Pippin Properties also hosts homebuyer and seller seminars to “educate” and go through the “A to Z of homebuying,” which allows them to talk to experienced realtors “three to six months” before the time they want to sell their home.

Casey Margenau is the owner of Casey Margenau Fine Homes & Estates and specializes in single family homes. Having been an agent for 33 years, Margenau said “when you’ve been in the business as long as [he] has been, you kind of get experience” with helping buyers “save money and escape pitfalls.” Margenau not only “helps buyers negotiate the transaction” from selling to buying, but also advises them “to think beyond just the transaction” and to help people “make decisions that are good for the long term, not justfor their immediate needs.”

For his tips and tricks for buyers and sellers alike, Margenau said it’s “very important” to select a real estate agent that has had experience for over “seven years.” He also stated buyers and sellers need to make sure that when listing a home, “your agent isn’t going on vacation [that] week.”

Tori McKinnney has been a real estate agent for over 20 years, and is the CEO of Rock Star Realty Group, KW Metro Center. As someone who helps buyers and sellers “anywhere in the beltway” and “all over the country,” McKinney said her team has a “whole strategy” when it comes to working with their clients. This includes listening “very carefully and intently” to their buyers on what their needs and wants are, “educating and introducing” local lenders to clients and “a wholehearted deep dive into the inventory that’s available.”
To help buyers in a “competitive” market, McKinney said she often has to get “creative” with how her team “writes their offers.” She said she and her team help buyers by “preparing them to be ready to buy,” which can require “swift action” when looking at homes and identifying a home one wants to put an offer on. For sellers, McKinney and her team help “coach” clients to “put their best foot forward” when “staging” their home to be sold.

Louise Molton is the owner of REMAX Westend, where she’s been an agent for 17 years in the Falls Church, Arlington and Mclean areas. Molton said she helps buyers find homes with a specific price range by first letting them know “the situation in the marketplace” as well as making sure they have “financing lined up from a good local lender” before setting out to look for a home.

“Keeping expectations realistic” is how Molton stated she helps both buyers and sellers compete in the market, which includes telling buyers “what their monthly pay will be” if they escalate on a house” and telling sellers that they might have to wait a few weeks to see an offer on their home. Molton said both buyers and sellers can “get educated ahead of time” to help themselves out and to “do a lot of homework” on where they want to live.