Alison Scimeca knows all the D.C. neighborhoods, and she has tips on how to find the right place for you.
Alison Scimeca is a self-proclaimed renaissance woman — and she has the resume and skillset to back it up. Interning at 9:30 Club while studying at George Washington University, Scimeca immersed herself in the local music scene while finishing her degree in exercise science and athletic training. She went on to work as a personal trainer for 10 years before switching to work at a tech startup, where she managed D.C. and New York City markets. Now in her third reinvention, she works as a realtor to find people their permanent home in the D.C. area. In her free time, she works with rescue shelters to foster dogs until they find a permanent home of their own, too.
“I feel like I was never meant to do one specific thing,” Scimeca says, holding a yorkie mix rescue on her lap. “The thread through all of my careers has been customer service and wanting to help people achieve and fall in love with something.”
The move to realty was surprising to Scimeca, who often found the industry cold and cash driven. However, with her group The RARE (Radically Authentic Real Estate) affiliated with Compass, Scimeca decided to do things her way by creating a unique, inviting and admittedly quirky experience for clients. Through her company, she offers events for people to network, explore the city and learn more about real estate; hosts a podcast and YouTube channel to provide advice on all things real estate; and above all, makes sure empathy is provided throughout the journey of her clients finding a home.
District Fray had a chance to pick Scimeca’s brain about the D.C. area’s current market, her favorite neighborhoods and why she is not planning to switch careers again anytime soon.
District Fray: What are the up-and-coming neighborhoods you feel are worth the investment in the long run?
Alison Scimeca: Michigan Park is a good one. Anacostia is still going up in value. Those are two I think of right off the bat. Effectively if you go east in D.C. — if we’re talking about just the District — that’s where things are more affordable and where you see more development happening. NoMa got a whole new name; it used to be warehouses and big dance clubs and stuff like that. And south, like Navy Yard, wasn’t a thing 10 to 15 years ago. If the recommendation was a direction, it’s south and east. That’s where everything is more affordable right now.
What neighborhoods do you recommend outside of the city for people considering leaving D.C. proper?
So much of house buying is subjective. What’s important to you? Is it having a yard? Is all you want a two-level house? What’s an acceptable commute? 20 minutes? 40 minutes? It depends on what your priorities are. I can tell you neighborhoods I would consider moving to, which I think are very cool and you’ll definitely get more bang for your buck: Hollin Hills, which is in Alexandria, Virginia and Holmes Run which is kind of near Merrifield, Virginia.
Has Covid-19 made it harder to tour homes, in terms of certain rules when trying to sell a house? As a realtor, how do you navigate and try to make both seller and buyer happy?
You must respect the person whose home it is. In the beginning, it was hard to figure out how to navigate because everyone was still learning about Covid-19. I think there was a lot of fear. Then, the market changed tremendously because people wanted to move out of the city. If you’re a good agent, you should be writing the seller’s rules in the show notes and maybe explaining it. If there are any kind of restrictions whatsoever, hopefully those are in the notes and then you can at least prepare your clients and say, “Listen, masks aren’t your thing anymore, but masks are their thing.” It was like that pre-Covid too; people want you to wear shoe covers or take your shoes off. Frankly, I think if you’re a considerate person, it’s not really that hard to navigate now.
How do you like to set up an open house? Do you have any unique strategies for showings?
It depends on the house. It’s about reading the house and reading the people who might be interested in it. I’ve done champagne open houses. I’ve done cookies. It does depend on the home and sometimes I don’t do anything because I want the home to speak for itself.
What keeps you working in real estate?
It’s hard to stay in real estate. You’ve got to constantly be finding clients and I’m not one to do weird advertisements. It feels inauthentic. I stay in it because I really enjoy working with my clients. I enjoy helping people accomplish whatever their goal is, not just from like a “You did it, you bought the house,” but the full emotional journey. My goal is to make you feel comfortable and happy about the decision you’ve made.
First vinyl record. “A Northern Soul” by The Verve. Favorite music venue in the D.C. area. 9:30 Club. I have so many memories tied there that it is hard to surpass. Favorite local artist(s). Kelly Towles and Lisa Marie Thalhammer. Go-to neighborhood spot. The Royal. Favorite costume you own. Cereal box characters Frankenberry and Count Chocula. Neighborhood you want to live in. Crestwood.
For more tips and advice on real estate, listen to Alison Scimeca’s podcast “Rent Move Buy by The RARE” or watch episodes on her YouTube channel “The RARE.” To learn more about Scimeca and The RARE, visit her website theraredc.com or follow her on Instagram at @theraredc.
Want more D.C. area advice? Join the District Fray community for exclusive access to neighborhood guides and recommendations. Become a member and support local journalism today.