If it were easy everyone would do it.

If it were easy everyone would do it.

This little adage or cliche’ however you may read it could very well apply to just about anything challenging.  Most writers will tell you it applies to writing whether or not they are published. Every runner will likely tell you that it applies to running whether or not you win races. And well, realtors may or may not mention it. I will offer that finding the right realtor to help you find the right home will be a challenge. Understanding the meaning behind the right information, the right realtor, and the right experience for you when selling or buying a home is the key to your best results. I’ve found that my own knowledge, experience, and success has challenges and rewards that can be described in motivational slogans, adages, and some cliche’ peppered with a smidge of humor.  There are as many ways to find a realtor as there are realtors. We’re not difficult to find. You may want to consider the how AND the why when you interview agents to help you start your real estate story.

Don’t Just Do It.

There’s so much information, great tips and how-to’s for everything real estate related. I’m as pro-DIY as they come and aspire to create each post I share on Facebook or pin I add to my favorite boards on Pinterest. For listings, just Google it! Get the latest listings online. Type in simple key words, zip codes, community names, etc., and you can watch a video, take a virtual tour, and read property descriptions and ads, too. Then, Voila! Visit the house online. Find the right home. Find the right neighborhood. Easy peezy, right?If the above information, searches, visits, and videos were all it takes to sell or buy a home then anyone with a phone or computer could and would do it. Some, even my own family members insist on trying it and turn their home sale or search into a DIY of sorts.The results in most cases? Less than stellar. Motivation turns to exhaustion and shock that it takes more than a sign in a yard or a short visit to several homes for three days straight to actually sell or buy a home. There’s more to it that means more for you and to you when you find the realtor for you to make it happen.

Motivation Means Something

It’s happened to every runner. The hills, ugh! Just. Can’t. Make It. It’s happened to every writer. Writer’s block. No inspiration. There are definitely challenges, uphill battles, and road blocks for everyone. Yes, realtors too.  Each of us is inspired by something, someone; change, job, charity, faith, and more. That inspiration gives meaning to the things we do and the purpose behind our goals and actions we take toward achieving them. So while you search and sift through all of the information at your fingertips. Your motivation is paramount.

Think about it. Take inventory about what you like and don’t like about your current home, life, finances, and situation. Why are you moving? Career move,military orders, family, life reasons is a short list of reasons behind recent client motivation to find certain home style, features, location, and community. Sure bedrooms, baths, yard, garage, location are all important and common criteria for most of us. When I meet with sellers, it’s often the home specs that they describe as we tour the home. When working with buyers, it’s often the first question they answer when I ask them for the most important criteria in their new home. I often hear about design details, layout, style and space. These important and relevant preferences about common criteria and design details play an important part in the process obviously. Dig deeper and consider what these attributes actually mean for your new home.

Consider the why behind them. Then, think about your most favorite home you have ever lived in and how it felt being there. The good, the bad and the ugly can all come into play, too. It can be an eye-opening experience to consider how much you hated that tiny little back bedroom in your childhood home because there was barely enough room for a desk to do your homework. Yet, just passed that initial gut reaction lies the memories of sitting on the floor of your room, talking on the phone, listening to loud music and ignoring your little’s sister’s knock on the door. What does this have to do with your next move as an adult? That’s up to you. Does that mean that 4 large bedrooms are more important than 5 smaller ones? Is a two-story house with a basement really right for you if the basement of your most recent home would flood during heavy rain or snow? Then, turn it around. Like the runner who takes the hill or the writer who writes through and tears down the barriers and blocks, know how your preferences can create more room for possibilities that will tell a similar or different story that means the most to you. Then, you may find that as you make sense of what this criteria means to you and for your life, the home search takes on a different, deeper meaning bringing you closer to your life goals. A steady, focused search and sorting homes, criteria, community, and locations takes you to the best properties available so you find the right place to call home.

Every Mile Gets You Closer

Slowing down the pace helps a runner refine form, strength, and endurance. A writer writes, revises, and edits with thoughtful deliberation and focus. Both progress with precision pushing through the pain of every step. It doesn’t matter if you’re running or writing, this precision and tenacity is required. I’ve put these traits to work in real estate as well. What makes this persistence pay off is the focus on motivation regardless of how long it takes, the missteps, hills, wind, sun, rain and snow. The meaning in each step that makes every mile provides purpose. It’s critical to stay focused, keep going, keep revising, revisiting, evaluating the criteria, how inventory matches up, and redirect or act when the meaning meets the road regardless of how many miles you’ve gone or haven’t gone.

The Finish Line

Once the inspiration and process means something then you can imagine what the finish line looks like. If you’re a runner, it may be a marathon, 10K, 5K or a recreational 5 miles run along the Mt. Vernon Trail. If you’re a writer, it may be a journal, a published article. It is often the case that most consider real estate transactions all about getting to closing. Certainly on a literal level, that is true.  And some come to me at first with that expectation without a considering or understanding the purpose, process, and professionalism required to get there. In simple terms,  anyone,any internet, any device offers access to real estate information, listings, searching, touring, the contract to closing and service. But from my own experience writing, running and selling real estate, the approach, analysis, negotiations, and challenges presented along the way require a smart, meaningful, deliberate, proven approach to push through the process with thoughtful determination and strategy. Running keeps me strong and I perservere to get where I want to go. I’m prepared for analysis, negotiation, storms, hills, rough roads. Writing helps put words to experiences, thought to analysis, and communication throughout the process. Working with clients to uncover or create the story behind the home so they can continue a home’s existing story or they can write their own creates a memorable and meaningful experience. As a runner, writer, and realtor, I bring more knowledge, skill, and experience to every client. I suppose if it were easy everyone would do it.

A Buyer Story

A Buyer Story is about how to find the best properties available.

We focus on key elements of a home’s history, design, location, and community that define quality, luxury, and style in any market.

We consider these elements within the context of the most relevant market data and community information so you can best define what value means for you.

The story behind the home connects people with the best properties available so you can continue a home’s existing story. Or, create your own.

So, read through the Buying A Home .Then, when you’re ready, Contact me.

We’ll schedule a free buyer consultation.

Home Ownership Word Cloud
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Your Best Guide to Home Ownership
You can read more about key elements of my own real estate, running, and writing stories. You’ll also find that I never run out of stories about Molly and Sam, my two chocolate labs.

Continue reading “A Buyer Story”

Fall in Love

Finding the “right one” can take longer than expected. After we’ve researched, strategized, and visited several properties–particularly if we’ve seen a ton of inventory–and narrowed down a few, you may start to feel like you just can’t find “THE ONE”. Here are a few interesting facts and stats for the single professionals in my real estate life.

The story behind the home connects people to the best properties available so you can continue a home’s existing story or start your own.

Contact me. Let me show you how to fall in love…with your home, of course.

Single and in Love!BuyingaHomeFall2015Single-Home-Buyers-STM

Gratitude Lives Here

Gratitude Lives Here

A friend of mine posted this image on Facebook the other day. If you’re like me, you live by your “to-do” list. I offer you this list as a way to create a story about how gratitude that shows us how even the smallest, seemingly insignificant or even most distant memories about people, places, experiences are the very foundation of our own unique story. With this list we can acknowledge the best memories that tell our story in a meaningful way that makes us grateful. We can’t help but turn that feeling into action and give gratitude right back.

If we live according to gratitude, the list is bound to go beyond 30 days. After all, isn’t that the entire point? So, give something, somehow, to someone because you can. Watch how your heart fills up with gratitude. Then, get ready for countless days where gratitude comes back to you.

Thank you for being here in business, friendship, and support. My story happens here with you, because of you, and for you. Have a wonderful Season of Thanks, friends. With gratitude today and every day, Kristin.

The Story Behind Home Values

The Story Behind Home Values


You see this question posed all the time on real estate web sites all the time including TheStoryBehindTheHome If you are selling your home, it’s a place to almost immediately guesstimate the current value of your home and other homes in your city, state, or zip code. It’s easy to find facts and figures which will make you run out and tell all of your friends, neighbors, and co workers, and even your realtor just how much your home is worth. As fast and easy as it is to find data, you can easily misinterpret and be misled by facts,figures,and data that tells the wrong story about prices, properties, and the value of real estate.

It is my mission to make sure that my clients do not tell this story when they tell friends, neighbors, and co workers about how their experience. The best way for me to do this starts with the story behind the home.  My education,training,and experience shape my real estate vision and expertise for clients. When we combine your story with my expertise and training, the entire real estate experience comes to life with meaning, purpose, and the beginning of a whole new chapter for you.


I’ve set up an entire system that combines the best tools, my skills, and expertise as a framework focused, managed, and executed according to what you want to achieve; meaning, purpose, and results. The sale or purchase of your home is a given. During our initial online or in person consultation, we work through what that house will look like, feel like, and live like for you. Trust me, we will cover every. little. detail. But I want you to understand the backstory, the context and meaning behind the entire process. It is an understanding about the financial, lifestyle, and future impact of taking this step toward achieving your goals. For these primary reasons, I offer a comprehensive strategy to each step in the process. The foundation of the story behind the home is the context of the story. Understanding what it means for you, creating a purposeful method and strategy to get there makes sure that the end result will reflect what the value of a home means for you.


There is a story behind every home. Living where we do, you can find tons of stories about houses, land, neighborhoods just about anywhere you turn.  I am drawn to architecture,design, and style from the inside out. How those elements work together effect the appearance, livability, and value of every home.Maybe it’s my love of history, buildings, and the people that occupy those places in time that draws me to the significance in architecture and structure. My Mom sold houses while I was growing up and I witnessed how the best situations are those that connect people, places, and homes. I work with sellers to help identify key elements to the exterior architectural and interior design elements of their home that not only describe valuable spaces and designer details.  My educations, marketing, and writing expertise communicate how architecture, design from first impressions to interior accents create an atmosphere of personality, lifestyle, and character that carves out the top spot among the competition and market inventory that helps other agents, their clients, and the community appreciate how architecture,design,and details of the story behind the home connect sellers with focused,interested potential buyers.


A great example lives on Cathedral, here in Alexandria. The story centers around the community location, luxury, and appeal well above the highest standards of design, layout, lot, and architecture. The neighborhood was close-in, close-knit, and several classmates lived there, too. My clients knew a few families from St. Stephen’s lived in Malvern and other neighborhoods close to the school learning more about the area as she picked up and dropped off friends, teammates, and classmates. Even the tennis coach lived in that neighborhood. They drove around to find for sale signs and to get to know more about the homes on each street. After a couple of weeks she was drawn to Cathedral Drive.  One day she noticed landscapers mowing, triming, mulching the yard. There were painters on ladders brightening the trim and shutters.  She stopped for awhile watching the meticulous work and care given to every inch of the property and the house itself.  When she picked up her son from tennis, she caught up with the coach and described a professionally manicured lawn, stately entrance with dual brick stairs lined with decorative wrought iron railings. Without missing a beat, the coach said, “I know that house! I think the kids are all at college and they are getting ready to move.!” That same day on her way home from tennis practice, Stacy called me excited, nearly breathless asking me to find out if they could see the house. It started with a great location for her family that was close-in and connected to school, sports, and clubs in the community.


Everyone talks about curb appeal. The best first impression highlights the best exterior features of the entire property. This home looked just like a home from the pages of a storybook. Professionally manicured lawn with mature trees and bright plants and flowers created a beautiful first impression. As we walked along along a brick walkway at the right or left of front stairs, each of noted the simple yet decorative hardware and door frames on each of two rich grain wood doors.

Standing in the two-story foyer, the floor plan and design details were present everywhere the eye could see. It was clear that this home was special and every improvement, detail and design element was not only memorable but served a purpose that added comfort and luxury to the entire home.


The wide staircase to the second level was directly ahead and tempting to ascend. Instead, we approached a luxurious main level office rich wood floors, walls, and moldings. We learned that the wood floors were wide plank pine floors replicated to those of colonial era homes and carried throughout the main level living areas. The wood walls were reclaimed from railroad box cars because the owner had a passion for and extensive collection of old trains and railroad memorabilia.There was the living room anchored by an enormous wood burning fireplace reminiscent of Mount Vernon when fire was the main source of heat for comfort and served a purpose for families to prepare and enjoy meals while keeping warm. Tons of natural light filled the room through each of four windows just about reaching floor to ceiling on one side and an entire opposite wall of two sets of large double sliding doors that led to a blue stone patio and pool.


Once upstairs, there was more to uncover about the fine finishes throughout the home.

Every bedroom had wood floors, walk-in closet space, and decorative trim elements of some kind that added character and warmth to the room. Every bath included imported bath, decorative tile accents and light fixtures. An exquisite master suite featured a spacious sitting area, dual walk-in closets, heated porcelain tile floors, stunning luxury spa bath, separate shower and soaking tub.


It got even better when we walked into the Emily’s bedroom. Emily is the name of the owners eldest daughter. As we walked through, several details were hard to miss. Who wouldn’t love a huge bedroom with a walk-in closet filled with natural light, large windows, wood floors, moldings and light accents? Hidden storage space along the walls on three sides, wainscotting, and crown molding added more space and style. Then, we approached one of the two dormers overlooking the patio and pool. A tiny door unlatched into the hollowed out space lined with wainscotting and decorated with tiny lights and a switch for more light when reading or less light for star gazing, hiding out, or daydreaming. It all came together.


Connecting the dots from location, lot, design, and floor plan can translate quality, luxury, and style. It presents the best elements of a home in the most appealing ways. The numbers reflect how well that story translates into market value. In order to tell the best story about higher sold prices and seller net proceeds, there’s a critical two-step approach to market analysis. The first step is designed to arrive at an estimate of value purely on price. This step is a value synopsis that gathers the most relevant data and delves deeper into how those facts and figures apply to your neighborhood and basic similarities and differences about the properties close by. The second step identifies distinct features, improvements, and livability of recent sold properties based on price, property, and location. We prioritize best features, improvements that according to leading reports and professional estimates will increase your bottom line.

At that point, we formulate a list of action items to exceed market expectations so that your property stands out and compels potential buyers to act. When you make your home stand out, it’s easier for potential buyers to connect with the property, community, and make sense of the price because the property reflects the value of that price. That is the most important way to help ensure that the story behind the home is an example of the highest and best market value.

This is one of the best reasons to hire a trusted professional. The expertise here lies in a knowledgeable, careful consideration of the location, property, and market activity. It includes research and analysis that offers a snapshot of the market today, that goes above and beyond the comparables, estimates, zestimates and analysis available to just about anyone.

It’s expertise, experience, and proven approach that delivers the most relevant, comprehensive details that create context for your real estate story.  When market data, property features, design, and location are considered according to your expectations, financing, lifestyle, and future plans, the value of the home takes on a completely different meaning that impacts the market and exceeds market expectations.

The market value only has meaning in the context of where clients come from in terms of why they want to purchase a particular home. It also comes from the connection they make to the home they want to purchase. Finding the home that meets the most important criteria includes a connection to the community, the design and layout, and a realization of the real value based on the market data.

In the case of Cathedral, this home stood out in so many ways that a true comparable did not exist. It seems counterintuitive that a home without a real comparable could sell at the highest market value in less time. It can and it did only within the context of its own unique, relateable, and most relevant story connecting it to current market data that supported and magnified the value of its best features inside, outdoors, and around the house.

The value of home sales has to do with more than just a house. Home sales require one seller and one buyer. In order to make that connection, the story behind the home has to be compelling to invite interest and secure a top position among competing properties. A skillful, determined approach that combines facts, figures, and features that communicate quality, pride of ownership, and character can make the difference and define the market value for your home. Market value is the meaningful experience that the story behind the home creates and communicates for you. Let me show you how. I look forward to hearing from you.

The Story Behind a Home Search

The Story Behind a Home Search


Which door holds your story? We all have access to the tools, information, and ways to help you find the right home. If you know more about prices, properties, and location of homes, you’ll find that home faster, easier, and in a more meaningful way.  The best experiences are the ones that stay with us. Most of us rank our most memorable experiences at home among the highest and best. When you set out to buy a home with focus, purpose, and care, you make a place for yourself where your real estate story ranks among the most meaningful chapters in your life. This post isn’t just another realtor “how-to” find a home. The story behind the home is a meaningful experience for professionals, government officials, and military families so they can connect to the best properties, prices, and communities in our area.


It’s important to expect more if you want the best results. Making home happen demands more from all involved. You have to be willing and informed with honest, real, and relevant information that goes beyond the basics. Set up the search on your own terms. Use key words that will connect you with the right professional so the process is focused on your preferences with an honest, transparent, expert approach. Know what you want and why you want it. It’s in the details. You need to know what’s behind the four walls, within the city limits, and what the sales, data, and lifestyle mean for you.There’s so much more to every home, every neighborhood, even every professional you interview. Introduce your story with enthusiasm, expectations, and analysis that will help you connect to the story behind the home and write your own story.


When we search for a house online, it’s almost impossible to know if the house will look the same in person. Despite the photos, virtual tours, HD Video tour or walk-through videos, there are ways to know more about the house than the photos. There are definitely hints in online listing images that can help distinguish one home from another. For example, watch out for what you don’t see in the photos. There’s been a trend toward photos that only feature certain aesthetics. That is, a snapshot of a granite counter or cut away to gas cooktop, recessed lights or built-in art niche. These photos tell a story about details that can be found in the listing text and description. Particularly if a floor plan is notably absent from the story line it will be difficult to know if the house fits your lifestyle and meets your goals. Yes, photos, preferably professional ones, should show off special features of design and detail. However, aesthetics can only get you so far. The substance and value of a home is the story of style and comfort on display via photos, videos, tours, and descriptions. It’s important to start off with that in mind.


While we’re searching, watching, and sifting through photos and videos online, we can quickly find out that there’s basic information, property details, and listing criteria. Every. Single. Time. It’s easy to find number of bedrooms, baths, for example. The basic features are important elements that provide a survey of the real estate inventory so you can identify number of listings based on that basic criteria. I hear clients say, “We would love a 4 bedroom 3.5 bath colonial on the corner close to the Mount Vernon or W & OD trail so we can run or bike to work.”  Or, “We are downsizing for a 2 bedroom condo on the orange line.” “We dream of buying a cape cod on a large lot that we can expand over time.” The basics are a good starting point for telling the story behind what’s available.  We start there but it’s important to know how to make sure that the results are overwhelming and the process frustrating. It’s my mission to make sure that this is not the story behind the home search for you. The right professional with a keen understanding of how to take your search beyond the basic criteria of an ordinary online property search can make the difference. When we uncover the story behind the architecture, design, and community, the story behind the home creates a a purposeful, meaningful place where people know more than the basics. When people are encouraged to examine the entire property, location, and community, there is real value, meaning, and a lasting return on the planning, preparation, and process for all involved.


There’s more on the inside than just square footage. Numbers are important when searching for bedrooms, baths, and even the amount of living space. But, it’s really how you live or intend to live in a house that’s important; livability makes the most of the living space and square footage. For example, instead of focusing on how much square footage you have now, think about how, if and when you use certain living space. How do you live in the rooms you have now? Do you need more space or less? Think about how you live know and how many bedrooms, baths are important. Then, consider why 3 bedrooms is more important than 4 bedrooms as an example. These elements will only mean something to you if you know how you will use the rooms, which rooms you will use everyday. Do you work from home? Do you want or need space to entertain? Do the kids need a separate playroom? Consider how the entire number of bedrooms, bathrooms, office space, garage, for example will work or not work according to the way you live now.  How you live defines your lifestyle at home and adds more meaning to basic elements of a house. When you focus on useful space and the way you want to live in your new home, the story behind the home tells about your lifestyle and increased livability of the house and your story will take shape so you can connect with the best properties, location, and communities.


As the search results bring up great options to consider and maybe even visit in person, there are considerations about what’s behind the four walls of the properties and information to gather in the listing details. At home, we can all recall the setting of our most memorable life experiences. When we describe our childhood home, for example, we remember the experiences. Memories at home can also include the dining room set where your family shared Thanksgiving with favorite recipes. So, when you start your search, it’s important to understand what’s behind the four walls in order to know at step one if certain spaces will fit and foster old and new memories inside your home. Did you know that depending on certain floor plans and architectural styles there may not be enough space for a grand piano or antique sideboard? If you boast an impressive art collection or aspire to such a display, you may think twice about window placement, interior layout, and/or plaster walls in older, historic properties. For pet lovers, a spacious, fenced yard is often at the top of the priority list of features but have you considered the value and how much you would pay for a pet shower in a large mudroom? Add details, key words that relate to style, products, design, and features to your search to locate properties that show you more about what’s behind the four walls. You’ll start to see results that can really tell the story about how your plan to live at home and create meaningful experiences.


Hopefully, you’ve found helpful and insightful ways to think about your search. Are you ready to get started? Try it as an introduction to the process. An honest, deliberate and informed approach to your home search will make your search faster, easier, and more successful. The real story behind the home combines process, industry, and results so you can write your story. Add comments about your success, challenges, and even suggestions. I can’t wait to hear from you!