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    Current Agent Not Working Out?

    Dawn and Albert Schick knew they owned a special house. The 7,500-square-foot, Victorian-style house, located in Richmond’s Fan District at 1853 West Grace Street, had been built in 1910, and it still had all of its original moldings, chandeliers and hardwood floors. It was a grand property with particularly striking woodwork, and the Schicks had successfully converted the property into a popular bed-and-breakfast called the Grace Manor Inn. So when they put it on the market, they expected it to sell fairly quickly, even with a high price tag.

    It didn’t. And at least a partial explanation lies in the history of the street itself.

    For much of the late 1800s and early 1900s, West Grace Street had been one of the city’s premier residential streets. As city residents moved to the suburbs in the 1960s and 1970s, though, the street’s reputation declined, and many of its grand houses were converted to apartments. In recent years, as interest in city living resurged, the trend reversed, with new homeowners converting several apartment buildings on West Grace Street back to single-family residences.

    Recognizing the street’s renaissance wasn’t universal, though. Several real estate agents the Schicks interviewed seemed unable to recognize the street’s resurgent value, Albert Schick said.

    After an extensive search, the Schicks found an agent they liked, and they asked him to list the house.

    “We enjoyed working with that agent very much,” Schick said. “He was extremely professional and thorough. Unfortunately, after 12 months, the house had not sold, and we needed to make a change.”

    So they hired a new listing agent. The Schicks weren’t satisfied with the new agent’s marketing efforts, though. Even worse, the house still lingered on the market. That’s when they approached Chris Small, a real estate broker with Small & Associates Real Estate. Small toured the property and offered a clear-eyed assessment of why it had lingered on the market.

    “He was very frank with us that we needed to make it look like a home and that it needed to be staged, repainted and modernized,” Schick said. “We were not selling it as a bed-and-breakfast, and that is what it was reflecting.”

    Small presented a plan that included coordinating with a local stager, as well as a timeline that accounted for each step of his plan.

    “He followed through on everything he said he would do and met his deadlines,” Schick said. “He kept us on task, and he got the job done. Those changes are what let a family see it as a home that they could live in.”

    The Schicks relisted the house with Small as their agent, and it sold for $1.1 million in 59 days. It was the highest price ever paid for a single-family residence on West Grace Street.

    “The price would have been even higher, if the house had been one block away on Monument Avenue,” Small said.

    So why did the house sell so quickly? It came down to finding the right agent.

    “Chris was absolutely the reason the house for sold for more than $1 million,” Schick said. “If the person selling the house does not believe it is worth more than $1 million, then it will never sell for that amount. He absolutely believed, 100 percent, that our house was worth more than that. He was able to frame the house in such a way that other people could see that, too. We give him huge kudos for that.”


    Bidding war! How to navigate a low-inventory market like a pro

    Bidding war! How to navigate a low-inventory market like a pro

    In the last several months, Greater Richmond’s real estate market has seen upticks in the number of listings that receive multiple offers and close over the asking price.

    At Small & Associates Real Estate, for example, I’ve seen multiple offers on 46 percent of my transactions this year, up from 32 percent in 2017. And 60 percent of my listings have sold over asking this year, up from 38 percent in 2017.

    Those are significant upticks.

    So why are we seeing these increases? It comes down to two words: low inventory.

    Right now, for example, there are no mid-priced listings in the Museum District. And if you look for houses that are listed for more than $500,000 in the Fan District, you’ll find just five.

    We’ve seen low inventory drive up prices in the last two or three years, of course, especially in the Museum District and the West End. But these days, I’m seeing it in other neighborhoods, too. Citywide, we have almost no inventory.

    For sellers, that’s great news.

    I can put a client’s house on the market on Thursday, have an open house on Saturday and announce we won’t consider offers until Monday. And we’ll get 10 offers on Monday.

    Of course, I did a lot of work well in advance to get the house ready – I’ve advised my client about what to renovate or modernize on the house, I’ve overseen the work, and I’ve gotten it photographed for marketing materials afterwards.

    But planning those final days leading up to the open house and the bidding process is crucial. It’s a simple strategy, but it works because it takes advantage of the low-inventory market by channeling potential buyers’ interests into a narrow time frame. And they show up on Monday with strong offers.

    Bottom line: It boosts my client’s chances of seeing multiple offers and a winning bid that’s substantially over the asking price.

    Here’s a recent example. I represented a client whose house was worth $350,000. But I gave him a plan to update and renovate the house so that it met buyers’ expectations, and we got multiple offers and ended up getting $510,000 for the property.

    When I represent the seller, that’s my job. I look at the property and see what I can do to maximize the sale. And in a low-inventory market like this one, clients who follow my marketing protocol can see significant gains.

    For buyers facing low inventory, it’s a different story. Offering a low price with a lot of demands might not work. And trying to remove emotion from your decision might not be beneficial, either. People should be happy in their houses, and a part of my job representing buyers is to help them find a house that is truly a good fit for them.

    So in this market, buyers need an agent who can explain all their options. Can they make an all-cash offer? Are they comfortable buying a house without inspections? Can they make an offer without demanding a close date? An all-cash, no-inspection, no-close date offer is the best offer a buyer can make, but they each impact the seller’s likelihood of accepting an offer. And the buyer’s agent needs to explain the pros and cons of each of them.

    Perhaps most importantly, a good agent will ask his client, “How much do you want that house?” And he’ll help to prepare an offer that’s strong, and likely to win.

    Here’s an example of what I mean. Recently, I represented a buyer who was interested in a house that needed work but was in a great location. It was definitely underpriced at $440,000. So we looked at it at an open-house event, and I explained to my client why it was worth bidding above the asking price. It was on a block where all the other houses were worth more than $1 million, and once the house we were looking at was renovated, it would be worth $1.2 million. After I finished, my client said, “What do I have to do to get it?” I guided him through the bidding process, and we closed for $665,000. I feel strongly the value is there, and the buyer does, too.

    The bottom line: Buying in a low-inventory market can be frustrating, but with the right agent, you can navigate through the process and find your dream house.

    Three Listings in Three Weeks

    Here we are in February of 2018, but if we didn’t say this already, Happy New Year! As per usual, the months are starting to fly by, and our pace here at Small & Associates is nothing short of fast and busy! After an eventful holiday season, the team was ready to get back to the grind.

    In January, our agents hit the ground running and we collectively had 17 properties go under contract. Our Broker, Chris Small, had three beautiful listings hit the market and all were pending within just a few days following, all of which sold for over asking price.

    While there is no question that the real estate market is absolutely booming right now (yes sellers… we’re looking at you!), it is also not pure coincidence that our listings are moving as quickly as they are. We are able to perform so well for our clients as a result of careful planning and execution. Discover the Market Value of your home.

    If you are looking to buy or sell in Richmond, contact us now and we will get the ball rolling! Have a question or comment? Write below!

    And see what our clients are saying about us!

    “We considered four real estate agents before asking Chris Small to help us sell our house this year. We chose him because he gave us a realistic assessment of the market, the price range we should expect and the work we should do to get the best price. Chris laid out a logical plan and a timeline we could live with. He recommended a listing timeline that was different than what we were planning and I’m glad he did! Chris brought in a fantastic team of experts to look at everything from light switches to paint to www. Once we agreed with Chris on which repairs were most valuable and important, my wife and I appreciated how he stayed connected with us and the workers. I turned it over to Chris and his staff, and I didn’t have people call me asking about color choices or specific light fixtures. The house looked great when the work was finished and the staging was in place. We both agreed we should raise the price beyond our original estimate, and within four days we had multiple offers well in excess of the asking price – the best offer was almost 10 percent over asking price and completely beyond our expectations! I can’t stress enough the importance of having a good plan and sticking to it – Chris was a master at that. I would highly recommend him to anybody looking to get the highest price for their house, with the fewest headaches.”


    I had a difficult transaction that involved an estate sale for a minor child. This was complex and demanded patience and thoroughness. Kiernan took on this challenging endeavor without hesitation. Kiernan was always available when needed throughout this process. I would highly recommend this agent, he will listen to your goals and needs. Kiernan will provide an honest evaluation of each scenario that suits your needs.

    J. Horn

    I enthusiastically recommend Amanda Miller for any real estate assistance that you may need! Amanda is honest, knowledgeable and straightforward. Any advice she gave me in selling my home was always in my best interest. Whether buying or selling, you can trust Amanda to provide the best representation possible!


    I’ve had experience buying homes and I interviewed multiple real estate agents for my current home. Pam understood my goals and didn’t come on strong with a hard sell, which was refreshing. She was always on the lookout for homes and I felt like I was getting personalized service. My goals changed as the search continued and she patiently supported me the entire way. After a short time, I found my house and I couldn’t be happier. She helped me navigate the closing process and gave me great advice during the inspection. She also gave me contacts to fix minor repairs/updates. I would definitely recommend her to friends and family in the future.


    I cannot recommend a better realtor than Steve Payne! He comes with experience and understanding of not just the buying and selling process but also what to really look for in a house. As a past inspector, he was able to help us mitigate problems before we put our house on the market and when a few issues came back (as they always do), we were able to fix them quickly and cost effectively with his guidance. He also has renovation experience which is helpful when looking at houses to buy for ideas and inspiration. If you are looking to build, he can help you navigate the build process and really advocate for you to make sure your builder is providing you a quality home. I am not one to post shoutouts but buying and selling a house are some of the biggest decisions a person can make and having a quality guide that you can trust will make that experience so much smoother and less stressful. Steve is that guide!

    Jessica S.

    We initially met Travis when we were looking for a rental property as we moved to Richmond from Washington, D.C. Although we ultimately did not decided to move forward with the property he was showing, he continued to stay in touch every so often to ensure our transition to Richmond had been good, offering any support and local knowledge he could give. He eventually helped us navigate subletting our apartment. All of these small touch points generated trust in Travis – it was clear he had our best interested in mind and was someone we enjoyed working with, which led us to work with him on our first home search. By a first home is full of unknowns and discomfort, yet Travis explained each step to us thoroughly so we felt fully informed and on the same playing field as more experienced buyers. He helped us refine our search conditions, but spent enough time with us to know when to show us something that fell outside of those – including the one we eventually settled on! Had he not understood us and what we valued in a home at a deep level, I don’t think we would have found the most perfect house for us. Throughout the negotiation and inspection process, Travis was extremely detail oriented. He personally helped us find a reputable second contractor to assess specific items in the house that needed more eyes on them for us to truly understand what the scope of repairs were. He has a great network of partners that we have been extremely happy with throughout our home buying process. We would highly recommend Travis as someone who is going to listen and take care of you at each step in your home search!

    Kathi H.

    Chris helped on a moment’s notice to get us in for a showing, and canceled travel plans to draft our purchase contract. He then had to rinse and repeat, juggling a tight timeline to sell our home! Multi media channels were used to get our home noticed, and we had multiple offers as a result. The  team is incredibly responsive to calls, emails, and in-person visits to ease the stress of buying and selling.

    Laura K.

    We came to Richmond from out of state and didn’t know much about how the housing market works here, so we were fortunate to have met Tawana Gatling. She really listened to our description of what we were looking for, and took us to a select group of townhouses—one of which turned out to be exactly what we wanted. After we made our decision, Tawana was great at guiding us through the contract process via e-signing. In addition, she referred us to several home inspection companies and helped us find legal representation. Not only that, she also coordinated the home inspection while we were out of town. She was extremely attentive and always kept the process moving smoothly. We always felt like she was on our side. We highly recommend Tawana. She is extremely professional and a pleasure to work with.

    Anne M.

    There are not enough stars here to give Neil. He was very patient with me because I had no idea where to start or what to do. He took me to houses and condos. I was not sure which I wanted. Believe me I asked many questions and bugged him quite often. He answered all of my questions so I understood what we were doing. He gave me wonderful advice on the properties that we saw, including the neighborhoods where they were located. He is very knowledgeable in his field. And if I asked an off the wall question that he might have been real sure about, he always did his investigating and came back with answers to my odd questions. I would recommend Neil to anyone to be their Realtor 1000 times over.

    Neil was always available and patient. He negotiated a great deal on our house and we couldn’t be happier. We got to see a number of properties and Neil was always ready to provide information on the homes we saw. Communication was great and I never felt rushed. Thanks for the help we love the new place.

    My wife and I were fortunate enough to be represented by will throughout the majority of our home buying process. We worked with a few other agents at first who we did not feel had our best interests at heart. This was not the case with Will Freshwater. Will made sure he understood what it was that we needed and wanted in a home. He worked tirelessly for us and we never felt like he was trying to “make the sale.” Will was constantly available for showings, timely in responding to emails and always willing to answer the phone for any questions we had along the way. He was extremely knowledgeable and seemed just as passionate about finding a home for us as we were. My wife and I both mentioned throughout the process that we will certainly be using Will again in the future. We could not be happier with the service and attention we received from Will Freshwater and the rest of the Small & Associates team.

    Jacob Maupin

    Jacob Maupin

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