“We live here; we work here; we serve here.” That’s the motto of Steve McIlvaine, a realtor with Keller Williams, who focuses on helping people buy and sell houses in the Annandale area and beyond.
McIlvaine’s interest in serving the community is reflected in his support for the Taste of Annandale as a Silver-level sponsor. He also supports other community programs, including the Camelot pool and swim team and the Annandale Christian Community for Action’s furniture ministry, in cooperation with this church, Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church.
For McIlvaine, selling and buying homes is all about relationships. “I’m looking to service people, before, during, and after the transaction,” he says, while being a “hard-nosed negotiator to get the best deal for clients.”
McIlvaine offers sellers free professional housecleaning, free home staging, free professional photography, and a detailed, customized marketing plan.. As a result, the homes he sells stay on the market just 10 days on average.
He sponsors monthly giveaways and appreciation events for clients or people who refer a potential client. He gave out eight free tickets to the Gavin DeGraw and Phillip Phillips show at Wolf Trap in August, for example, and rented the side porch at Clare and Don’s Beach Shack in Falls Church for a party with a band in July.
He is hosting a free event in September at the Angelika Film Center in the Mosaic District and is planning a holiday party with Santa for November, so his clients can get their holiday pictures without waiting in long lines.
Those perks are “a way of showing appreciation for those who refer me and continue to refer me,” he says. Upon receiving a referral that results in a conversation, the referrer gets a McIlvaine-branded Starbucks card worth $10 every month for six months. It’s important to note a referral doesn’t have to result in a sale. McIlvaine says they deserve the card whether or not he converts the lead.
That level of service has paid off: McIlvaine is in the top 3 percent of Keller Williams realtors worldwide.
Annandale homeowners have seen, on average, their home appreciate 4.7 percent over the last year, and the average home price increased from $450,000 in 2014 to $550,000 in 2018. Owning a home is the best way to improve your net worth, McIlvaine says
This fall market should be a strong one for sellers and buyers alike, he says. Reduced inventory creates less competition for sellers and renters are turning into buyers, as they are concerned about rising interest rates.
Due to the influence of real estate programs on HGTV, people are more interested in buying homes already renovated rather than fixer-uppers, he says.
He advises sellers to spend smartly get the most value when preparing a home for sale. One of his clients put $20,000 into a townhouse – with new cabinets, recessed lighting, new flooring, granite counters, and new appliances – and not only got six offers in two days but sold the house for $40,000 more than the price before the upgrades.