Home » Columns » Currently Reading:

Dear Doug

April 1, 2011 by Contributor filed under Columns No Comments

Dear Doug: What is the “hottest” month for sales? What improvements enhance a property, and which are a waste of time and money?-Kathleen, Hamilton

Dear Kathleen: Springtime is the hottest time to sell your house–when flowers are blooming, trees have greened up, and colorful potted plants greet potential home buyers Contrast that to a bleak, icy day when snow has been pushed aside a narrow path to the front door. See the difference? A home can have a welcoming aura, if presented in the best light. When you plan to meet someone for the first time, do you get dressed up and pay attention to detail, or just go as you are? You get the idea.

And, for the second part of your question:

Paint, Carpet, and Cleaning are the top three improvements that enhance property. If you do nothing else; clean, paint, replace old carpet, then clean again.

Following close behind, is De-cluttering. Get rid of Stuff to give your home a clutter-free appearance which will make your home seem lighter, brighter, and more pleasant.

Another cheap fix is Landscaping. Add colorful flowers to the front walkway or porch. Put a hanging basket of flowers to greet new home buyers. Add new mulch and edge the driveway, but don’t spend thousands on that exotic bush that no one will notice.

When it comes to major improvements, I’ll start with what I wouldn’t do if you’re goal is to sell your home right away:

–I would not redo the entire kitchen. It’s too subjective, and too expensive just to sell a house.You may want to replace appliances if they are too old, but it’s more cost effective to just clean well, then price the house accordingly.

–I wouldn’t add a garage if you lack one.

–No digging a swimming pool.

In short: I wouldn’t add any major projects just to sell a house-. My rule of thumb is to spruce up what you have, spending the least amount for the biggest impact. Occasionally, homeowners facing stiff competition may need to amend this advice a bit, to stay competitive. If you are considering adding granite countertops, for example, look at your neighbors. Do they all have it? Would you really stand out? If your answer is yes, you may want to take the plunge. Likewise, if you have a basement with the plumbing roughed-in for a bath, and the walls and sink are in, I would add the toilet. I would not add a complete bath!

So, good luck with the improvements, Kathleen, and send me any questions you run into as you get your house ready to go!

Dear Doug: Why is it so hard to get “free” information on foreclosed properties?-Glen, Fairfax

Dear Glen: You can call a Realtor like myself to provide free info on any foreclosure that you want to know about. Why? So I can educate you on that particular foreclosure, then sell you on why they can be a great deal to buy. Is that “free?” Yes! As a Realtor, if I know you’re working with another Realtor, I would keep it very brief. But, if you’re trying to learn about foreclosures, and I think I can begin a successful business relationship with you, I’ll give you all the “free” info that you desire–and I’ll invite you to bring any friends who want to learn, too. We would review the whole foreclosure process, depending on what you wanted to learn. If you’re just gathering info on foreclosures for a school paper, I would still give it out for free–but with the hopes of educating you and closing future deals with you and your friends. Why? Because people all need a place to live. I find that even if the free advice seeker is not ready to buy something now, he/she will will take notice of a Realtor who takes the time to answer questions. So, get in touch with a Realtor, and I’ll bet you’ll get all the “free” info that you’re looking for. Go ahead, make that call!

Dear Doug: Are you seeing a trend toward people renting rather than buying?-Leslie, Purcellville

Dear Leslie: I am seeing a strong demand for rentals. Why? Well, you have to ask: Where are the people going who are facing foreclosure and short-selling their houses ? They can’t buy, since they’ve either nicked their credit or completely destroyed it. No lender will touch them, so they have to rent. In addition, we see recent college grads looking for housing, and relocating buyers attracted to this area by a fairly strong employment base.

Also, it’s more difficult these days to get mortgages. Banks are being more stringent about qualifying people. Those who would prefer to buy are being forced into the rental market.

With this increased rental demand, landlords like myself are seeing a dramatic increase in rental prices, which I really can’t complain about!

So, who is buying, you may ask? Relocating buyers with relocation packages provided by their companies. Also, long-time renters with steady job who are seeing severe price drops over the past 3 years. Some of them can now buy for less than they can rent in some places. For example, a recent client of mine–a relocating government employee–chose an $1800 townhouse to rent. When I showed her that she could buy the townhouse and save a few hundred dollars per month, she was quite surprised! ( Incidentally, she rented anyway because she wasn’t sure she wanted to live there for the next 5 years.)

Douglas Frank holds a BA degree in English from Rutgers University and is a licensed realtor with over twenty years experience. Doug works with Prudential Carruthers Realtors in Fairfax, Virginia. He also has his Home Improvement License and owns a number of investment properties including houses, townhomes, and condos. Doug and his wife and two sons live in Fairfax, Virginia. Opinions expressed here are … only opinion!

Comment on this article

By commenting, you agree to abide by our Terms of Service.









2016 Energy Summit – George Washington University


On Friday evening, October 28, George Washington University, Virginia Campus in Ashburn will host the 10th annual Don Sandros Energy Summit in cooperation with local businesses and non-profits. Doors open at 6:00 p.m. for a reception with wine donated by …

Attributing Disaster


“Humans are likely to create a catastrophe, and possibly an associated disaster, that vastly exceeds our own ability to recover from it. In the face of all our efforts, it will persist.” – Richard Guthrie [1] “Here we show that …

Concerned Parent


By Michael Oberschenider Psy.D. Dr. Mike, We recently signed our four-year-old daughter up for gymnastics. It wasn’t cheap, but her friends from the neighborhood do it, and she has been begging us to go. It turned out to be a …

Invisible Illnesses

Lunde new

By Mary Rose Lunde It is general knowledge that when people think about illnesses, they don’t think about illnesses that aren’t physically apparent. Sure, people know about conditions such as multiple sclerosis and other diseases with visible symptoms, but many …

Robinson Park

robinson park

Looking back, now – I’m glad it wasn’t what most people would’ve considered a nice day; I don’t know about you, but I’ve had my share of hot and sunny to last me for at least a generation (especially since …

Are Your Estate and Financial Plans Shock-Proof?


Don’t wait until “what if?” becomes “what is.” Where will you live as you age? Think about your housing options now, so you have choices and won’t have to make a hasty decision should an unexpected health event force you …

In Defense of ‘Adulting’


By Samuel Moore-Sobel Most friends transitioning from college to the workforce long for the days of college, wishing to be back in class and participating in campus life. To be honest, I may be in the minority, but I have …

Student News

Congratulations, Class of 2016

6 Jul 2016


Woodgrove High School’s Class Of 2016 Graduation – By Amanda Clark On June 16, Woodgrove’s Class of 2016 was the 5th graduating class to walk the stage and accept their diploma. The ceremony was filled with anticipation as the chorus, …

(Be the first to comment)

Buckland Earns Degree In Medicine

6 Jul 2016


Molly Buckland, D.O., graduated from the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine with a degree of Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine on May 28. While at WVSOM, Dr. Buckland received the Dr. Roland P. Sharp President’s Award and the James R. …

(Be the first to comment)

Adams Promoted To Lieutenant

6 Jul 2016


Lt. James Adams, from Sterling and a Potomac Falls Halls Graduate, earned the promotion to the rank of Lieutenant. Adams is a Navy Week and Executive Outreach Planner for the Navy Office of Community Outreach in Millington, Tennessee. U.S. Navy …

(Be the first to comment)


October 2016
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
September 26, 2016

Dreams of Trees and Other Living Things

September 27, 2016

Dreams of Trees and Other Living Things

September 28, 2016

Dreams of Trees and Other Living Things

September 29, 2016

Dreams of Trees and Other Living Things

September 30, 2016

Dreams of Trees and Other Living Things

October 1, 2016

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event

October 2, 2016
October 3, 2016 October 4, 2016 October 5, 2016 October 6, 2016 October 7, 2016 October 8, 2016

Virginia Outdoors Foundation 50 years of Conservation Celebration

October 9, 2016
October 10, 2016 October 11, 2016 October 12, 2016

Barefoot Puppets: Dreamtime, Tales From Down Under

October 13, 2016 October 14, 2016 October 15, 2016

Loudoun Centre Theatre: The Scamps Of Scapin!

October 16, 2016

Harvest Celebration & Fall Farm Tour


October 17, 2016 October 18, 2016 October 19, 2016 October 20, 2016 October 21, 2016

Anthony Semiao Live at North Gate Vineyard


October 22, 2016 October 23, 2016

Come Paint with us at Breaux Vineyards

October 24, 2016 October 25, 2016 October 26, 2016 October 27, 2016 October 28, 2016

October Fourth Friday

October 29, 2016

2 Pound Sterling Live at North Gate VIneyard

October 30, 2016

Music With A Cause - Music of Colonial America

October 31, 2016 November 1, 2016 November 2, 2016 November 3, 2016 November 4, 2016 November 5, 2016

OysterFest at North Gate Vineyard

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event

November 6, 2016
Current Print Issue:
Sign up for our email newsletter:

Recent Comments

Steady and NoBull


Leesburg-Daybreak Rotary Club Sends Supplies and Funds to Haiti

24 Oct 2016


The Rotary Club of Leesburg-Daybreak shipped water purification supplies and emergency funds to Haiti following the devastation caused by Hurricane Matthew. Partnering with an anonymous local corporation, the club shipped 3,000 water purification tablet packages via FedEx to Haiti. These packages, which were sent to an area battling a cholera outbreak, will clean 3,000 liters of unsafe water. Instructions translated …

(Be the first to comment)

Veteran’s Day 10k Raises Funds for Veteran Causes

13 Oct 2016


On November 6, the Loudoun County Road Runners Club will again conduct the annual Loudoun 10K Trail Race in order to raise funds for veteran causes. Since it’s origin in 2011, the trail race has generated more than $90,000 with 100 percent of proceeds going directly to veteran’s charities, specifically Boulder Crest Retreat and Pets for Vets.

(Be the first to comment)

FBRM Clean-Up Day at Blue Ridge Regional Park

6 Oct 2016


Join Friends of the Blue Ridge Mountains for an Autumn clean-up to remove invasive vegetation from Blue Ridge Regional Park on Saturday, Oct. 15 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Some tools and equipment will be provided, but please bring your clippers, pruning shears, or saws if you can. Directions: From Leesburg, drive west on Route 7 past the turnoff …

(Be the first to comment)


Grief and Greed


By Matthew Parse What would drive a single individual to cause so much emotional stress and financial burden on hundreds, if not, thousands of families? What would drive the Town …


Opinion: Terrorism, Debt, and China: Oh My!


– By Nick Reid world can be a very dangerous place sometimes, especially for a nation state such as the United States. Although danger is always present, the number and …

Metro Money Mess Pushing West


– By Delegate Dave LaRock (R-33rd) A local paper recently quoted Loudoun Board Chair Phyllis Randall as saying that in her observation “some of the concerns raised by the people …

Dear Editor

New Proposed Uses for Western Loudoun

Loudoun County Seal Color

If you live in the middle or western part of Loudoun where you enjoy a parcel of open space near your property (which probably was put into an open space …

Bennett Knows How To Make Economy Work for All


In the election for the 10th District House seat, only one candidate has a more than three decades of success growing a local business. As the owner of a successful …

View From the Ridge

Broken Promises, Hidden by a Six-Foot Berm


By Andrea Gaines On August 9, 1825 at the age of 69, French military officer the Marquis de Lafayette was honored in Leesburg by former President James Monroe. The French-born …

Around Virginia

History’s Holy Places: Four Local Sites Worth Exploring This Fall


The Journey through Hallowed Ground is a 180-mile long, 75-mile wide trek from Gettysburg to Monticello, encompassing nine presidential homes and places, 18 national and state parks, and thousands of small and large historical sites. Dozens and dozens of these sites and related museums are short ride from just about …

(Be the first to comment)

Land Trust Receives Large Donation

land trust

On August 22, The Land Trust of Virginia received a $10,000 gift from the Sharon D. Virts Foundation, based in Herndon. The presentation of this grant was part of the Foundation’s official launch event, held at Selma Plantation in Leesburg. Notable speakers included Sharon D. Virts, FCiFederal Founder and Chair, …

(Be the first to comment)

Farmers Urged To Be On The Lookout For Marijuana


Farmers in Southwest Virginia are being urged to check their property for marijuana planted by trespassers. Within the past year, hundreds of marijuana plants have been discovered between rows of hay bales on farms in and around Pulaski County, according to the Claytor Lake Regional Drug Task Force. “Unfortunately this …

(Be the first to comment)


Hunter’s First Professional Race

7 Sep 2016


Drew Hunter and Loudoun Valley classmates at his first professional race, Sir Walter Miler in Raleigh, NC in early August , l to r:  Marcos Pierce, Matt Slook, Drew Hunter, Max McNerney. Hunter finished with a time of 3:57.15. Hunter turned professional and signed with Adidas.

(Be the first to comment)

Let’s Make Some Memories

3 Aug 2016


American Legion Baseball At Fireman’s Field, August 3 – 7 By Andrea Gaines American Legion Baseball is here at Fireman’s Field in a big way, featuring five consecutive blockbuster Mid-Atlantic Tournament games – August 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7. Our local Leesburg Post 34 Rangers had some nice wins …

(Be the first to comment)


  • +2016
  • +2015
  • +2014
  • +2013
  • +2012
  • +2011
  • +2010
  • +2009