Archive for November, 2009
Rivergate, the second in our series about Alexandria’s Waterfront Parks, is also one of the smallest. A little less than 2 acres, the park is located at the junction of Madison Street and the Potomac River.
In fact, driving south on Madison Street will lead you directly into a small parking lot for this space. Bordered on the north by Tide Lock Park and on the south by Oronoco Bay Park, Rivergate is a tidy nugget in the linear parks that front the Potomac River.
Although considered a city park, Rivergate is actually owned by the Rivergate Owners Association with permanent public access to the waterfront park area. The land east of the bike path is maintained by the city with an annual contribution from the association.
Rivergate City Park offers cycling, jogging, shaded picnic tables, all important benches for sitting and a terrific volleyball court.
Another feature of the park’s location is the Alexandria Boat House, a joint venture of the City and T.C. Williams High School. While the high school boasts a nationally and internationally known rowing program, the facility is also home to Alexandria Community Rowing.
The boat house in an integral part of the Alexandria community and a perfect addition to its waterfront.
This rain will be over soon and when it is, treat yourself with a visit to one of Alexandria’s Waterfront Parks at Rivergate.
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November 11th, 2009 Categories: Real Estate News
Most of us have a “position” about politics or religion or what to do with our hard earned money. We may even have a number of friends and family who agree with us. But when it comes to buying and selling real estate in Alexandria, taking a position is often very lonely. Buyers and sellers can be looking at the same house – but in different ways – and with different positions.
Bottom line? Buyers tend to exaggerate perceived flaws while sellers view those same things as perfectly acceptable.
Buyer – the carpet is dirty, worn out and needs to be replaced.
Seller – the carpet just needs a good cleaning and those pet stains will come right up!
Buyer – the kitchen needs a complete overall, the appliances are totally out of date and the wall paper in the bathroom is awful.
Seller - the appliances are as good as when we bought the house 25 yrs. ago and we love that wall paper!
Buyer – the traffic seems awfully heavy and noisy.
Seller – oh, you’ll get used to it, we did!
Buyer – the backyard is a jungle, our cat will get lost out there.
Seller – but they are all native plants and the birds like them.
Alexandria sellers need to remember that in the current market buyers have lots to consider and evaluate and your house is not the only one they will see. Trust your real estate agent to position – and price – your house to attract attention and sell quickly.
Alexandria buyers should be open to possibility and use a buyers agent to help them get the best deal possible.
And both parties should remember that buying and selling real estate in Alexandria means seeing the same house in very different ways.
Just for fun, here is one person’s take on how buyers, sellers, appraisers, lenders and tax assessors see the same house – but in different ways.
Want to know more about buying and selling real estate in Alexandria? Call me at 703.927.4554 or email me at [email protected].
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A few weeks ago we wrote about our neighborhood chili cook off and how a particular group of folks had turned an otherwise dismal, rainy night into an unforgettable occasion. Particular because the group all live at the Bellefonte Group Home. The home is a part of the Alexandria Community Services Board and each of the 16 adults has special needs.
In addition to winning the 8th Annual Del Ray Chili Cook Off, the group, self-named “the MOB” (Members of Bellefonte), have set their sights on entering their basketball team – the Wizards - in the national Special Olympics.
The Wizards won the local Special Olympics basketball tournament in 2008. They knew they could do better though and with the encouragement of their coach they set themselves a rigorous training and practice schedule. They also began raising money for entry fees, uniforms and trophies to give out at the upcoming local venue in December.
So far the Wizards have raised $800 through several bake sales, a yard sale and a raffle. They’ve done this on their own and with some help from their neighbors at Bellefonte Garden Apartments.
But now its time for the entire community to get involved. Last night the Del Ray Citizens Association announced that it would support the Wizards with a community bake sale this Saturday at the Del Ray Farmers Market. There are three ways to help:
- Bake and donate – bring your favorite baked goods to the Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning to contribute to the sale. Whole pies and cakes, wrapped single serving brownies, a bag of cookies, etc. (please mark ingredients for those with food allergies)
- Buy and donate – stop by the Bellefonte Wizard’s booth at the market and stock up for the week!
- Donate directly – for those without a sweet tooth (or watching their waistlines) we’ll collect donations at the booth or you can mail a donation to Bellefonte Wizards, c/o A Show of Hands, 2301 Mt. Vernon Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22301.
Several individuals have pledged to match whatever money to bake sale brings in so now is not the time to be shy. This is a great community effort by Alexandrian’s, supporting a group home in their bid for the Special Olympics, and another example of why Del Ray is our favorite place to live.
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November 8th, 2009 Categories: Alexandria
The parish rolls of Christ Church Alexandria, the home church of George Washington and Robert E. Lee, are filled with the names of men and women who have served their country in military service.
From four star generals and admirals to combat pilots and coast guard commanders to privates and warrant officers, they are all part of a great legacy.
To honor that legacy, Christ Church Alexandria celebrates Veterans Day in very special way.
A “wall of heroes” – photos of those who have served, past and present – is put up for all to see. Parishioners are invited to add photos of themselves or family members; a program and reception is presented between services; and a guest preacher offers the sermon.
Past speakers have included Secretary of Veterans Affairs Togo West, Gordon Sullivan, Chief of Staff of the Army, Ron Nessen, a war correspondent and press secretary to former president Gerald Ford.
Rev. Michael Pipkin
Today’s speaker, former Navy Chaplain and rector of the Falls Church Continuing Congregation, brought his very recent experiences in Iraq and at Bethesda Naval Hospital to a welcoming crowd. Rev. Pipkin noted the wall of heroes even as he spoke of the horror and inhumanity that is war and how he remains forever changed by his experience.
My Vietnam days
Thank you to all who have served and thank you to Christ Church for honoring its veterans.
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November 5th, 2009 Categories: Real Estate News
Extension of the Home Buyers Tax Credit into 2010 is almost a done deal. The United State Senate voted last night (Nov. 4) to extend and expand the popular tax credit for home buyers that was scheduled to expire on Nov. 30 of this year. The House is expected to schedule a quick follow up vote and there is every indication that the President will sign the legislation.
As it stands now, this is what we can expect:
First time home buyers – a credit of ten percent of the purchase price of a primary residence, up to a maximum of $8,000. First time home buyers are defined as people who have not owned a home in the previous three years.
Repeat buyers – a credit of ten percent of the purchase price of a primary residence, up to a maximum of $6,500, for repeat buyers who purchase between Dec. 1, 2009 and May 1, 2010. Repeat buyers must have owned their current home for at least five years. The credit can not be used for houses costing more than $800,000
Deadline for qualifying: purchase agreements must be signed by April 30, 2010 and closings must be final by June 30.
Military deadline: is extended by a year for members of the military who have served outside the U.S. for at least 90 days between Jan. 1, 2009 and May 1, 2010.
Income limits: Individuals with annual incomes up to $125,000 and joint filers with incomes up to $225,000 qualify for the full cre2009 and May 1, 2010.dit. Individuals with incomes up to $145,000 and joint filers with incomes up to $245,000 qualify for reduced credits.
Stay tuned, as we get complete news on the extension of the home buyers tax credit for 2010 you’ll see it here with all the details.
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November 4th, 2009 Categories: Whatever
New marriages and new homes often mean a “blending” of furniture and styles. And a new mortgage rarely leaves extra money for decorating. But, if you have an eye for a bargain, an eclectic sensibility and love a challenge then this chic style is for you.
Several weeks ago, the Washington Post ran a great article on creating chic style from flea markets, thrift stores and Craigslist.
Author Betsy Lowther noted that DYI (do it yourself style) was often defined by one style – classic, country, maybe modern. You could pick a few key elements, repeat them throughout every room and voila, you were done.
Now though, home owners are combing elements to create a style that is both personal and easy on the pocket book. Start with a few vintage pieces and then re-purpose them in unexpected ways.
Where to find these pieces for your chic style?
Let’s begin with the flea market. You can visit the Reston-based Web store, Three Potato Four or make your own trip to the best market in the area, the Georgetown Flea Market. Best Advice: “Don’t get discouraged. It only takes one really great booth to make it a good day.”
Thrift stores – you just never know what you’ll find or where you will find it (again). For instance, the Red Barn Mercantile in Old Town Alexandria offers a mix of new items and second hand finds – some purchased at another shop just up the street! Best advice: “Always think outside the box on how to use an item. In fact, don’t even think about what it was made for; think of what it could be instead.”
Craigslist is the perfect anecdote for those who do not want to leave the comfort of their homes and have no intention of kicking around a thrift store or flea market.
The trick here is to be as specific as possible in what you are looking for. Use specific decorator terms and check often as turnover is high. Best advice: “Everything can be redone. A coat of bright paint, new upholstery or adding trim or gilding can dramatically refresh an older piece.”
Inspired to create your chic style? For more, click here.
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November 3rd, 2009 Categories: Real Estate News
Several things stand out in the October market reports for Alexandria and Northern Virginia. First, inventory has dropped significantly in Fairfax County, especially for year to date statistics. At the same time, listings remain steady and new contracts are up year to date.
Inventory also remains low in Alexandria with a slight increase in new listings and houses under contract. Arlington is showing an increase in both listings and new contracts but with a slightly less dramatic decrease in inventory. For more information about each of these areas, check the direct links below:
Keep in mind too that DOM or days on market is a sensitive marker with buyers. Before making an offer, buyers are keen to know how long a home has been on the market. If a house has been on the market for only a few days, buyers tend to make offers at the full asking price or just slightly below.
The opposite is true however if the house has been on the market for over 30 days – buyers often see it as less than desirable and will make a lower offer – the assumption being that the owner will accept less because they are anxious to sell.
If the days on market is very high, some buyers will not even consider a property, thinking something may be wrong with it. Educated buyers know what is probably “wrong” is the price was set higher than current market values and they that to their advantage in negotiating lower offers.
Sellers need to be aware of days on market for two reasons. First, the more time their home is on the market, the lower the offers will be from buyers. This is why properties almost always sell at their highest price in the first days of exposure to the market, especially in depreciating markets when prices are falling.
Second, sellers need to consider average days on market for the brokerage company they choose to represent them. Coldwell Banker has lower average days on market because we assist sellers in positioning their home to sell in the first days of exposure, resulting in the highest possible price in the current market.
Market reports are a great way to get a feel for what is happening in Alexandria and Northern Virginia but for a more detailed analysis of your neighborhood, give me a call at 703.927.4554 or email me at [email protected].
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The City of Alexandria maintains a series of 14 waterfront parks along the Potomac River.
Each is relatively small but together they form a linear line some two miles in length and are anchored by the Mt. Vernon Bike Trail. Each one carries a marker denoting its hours, size and historical identity. Today we will visit Tide Lock Park.
Tide Lock Park
Tide Lock Park consists of 6.70 acres that are completely accessible to the waterfront and takes its name from an old canal that existed in the 1800′s.
The remains of the canal were discovered during the construction of an office building and were incorporated into the design.
These artificial waterways were used to move goods and materials to and from sea going ships. The goods were then transported by canal barges up and down the canal which were controlled by huge wooden locks. The last of the Alexandria canals were destroyed by floods in the early 1820′s and were never re-built because the railroads were beginning to take over.
Today there is a replica of the lock and canal which uses many of original canal wall stones and is an integral part of the landscape for the Trans Potomac Canal Center/Savage Fogarty which maintains this property with permanent public access.
Tide Lock Park also includes quiet spots for sitting, an outdoor amphitheater, water features and examples of Greco Roman sculpture. Truly a tiny gem, Tide Lock is a green respite for workers, visitors and residents and one of the things that makes Alexandria a great place to live.
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