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Archive for April, 2010

April in Alexandria – Plant Sales, Flea Markets, Koi, House Tours and More

We’ve gotten a number of emails in the past few days reminding us just how busy April in Alexandria can be with plant sales, flea markets, koi, house tours and more so we thought we would just do a handy dandy list:

April 17  –

Flea Market and Bake Sale / Trinity United Methodist Church (703.549.5500)
Alexandria House and Garden Tour
Plant Sale at River Farm / American Horticultural Society
Koi Sale at the National Arboretum
Alexandria Spring Clean Up

April 24 –

Parkfairfax Native Plant Sale
MV Big Flea
Garden Fair / National Arboretum
Alexandria Spring Clean Up

April 30 –

Potomac Bonsai Festival
Alexandria Spring Clean Up

May 1 –

National Garden Tour
Alexandria Spring Clean Up

Ok, so we’ve included a few places outside of Alexandria – we just didn’t want you to miss anything!


Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 1 Comment »

March 2010 Real Estate Market Report for Old Town Alexandria in Zip Code 22314

The March 2010 Real Estate Market Report for Old Town Alexandria in zip code 22314, shows an increase of 20 percent in the number of sales from March 2009 to March 2010 and an increase of 15 percent in the average sold price for the same time period. 

The number of days on the market (DOM) was virtually the same with both in double digits – a nice change from some of the triple digit DOM of last year.  

Overall, the March numbers look strong and, together with a upswing on Wall Street, the next few months should be busy for buyers and sellers.

The numbers below represent sales of single family dwellings, condominiums are not included.

March – Old Town 22314
Av. List Price
Av. Sold Price

Low List Price
Low Sold Price

High List Price
High Sold Price

# of Home Sales
Av. Days on Market

Want to know more about properties in Old Town?  Give me a call at 703.927.4554.


P.S. – Check out the Alexandria House and Garden Tour this weekend – it’s a great way to get a feel for Old Town properties.

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2010 Plant Sale at River Farm with the American Horticultural Society

The 2010 Plant Sale at River Farm with the American Horticultural Society is a perfect accompaniment to next weekend’s house and garden tour in Alexandria.

River Farm has a rich history, dating from colonial times, and eventually becoming one of five farms owned by gentleman farmer George Washington. 

It came under the purview of the American Horticultural Society in 1973 with the mission “to open the eyes of all Americans to the vital connection between people and plants, to inspire all Americans to become responsible caretakers of the Earth, to celebrate America’s diversity through the art and science of horticulture, and to lead this effort by sharing the Society’s unique national resources with all Americans.” 

The oldest standing tree on River Farm is the immense Osage orange, a tree native to the western United States. 

This specimen, the largest in Virginia and the second largest in the United States, is located in the shade garden to the north of the main house.  It is believed to have been a gift from Thomas Jefferson to the Washington family.

The 25 acre property is open to the public year round, whether as a quiet green space on the banks of the Potomac, a learning environment with Master Gardeners or the site of  a wedding celebration.

The Plant Sale is an annual fundraiser with vendors from across the mid-Atlantic offering a wide range of native plants, perennials, herbs, vegetables, annuals and roses.  Our garden is filled with beautiful ostrich ferns from this sale.

Thursday, April 15th is AHS Members Night and then the sale is open to the public on Friday, April 16 from 9am to 6pm and on Saturday, April 1 from 9am to 3pm.

What a great weekend with the 2010 Alexandria House and Garden Tour and the 2010 Plant Sale at River Farm.



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2010 Alexandria House and Garden Tour

The 2010 Alexandria House and Garden Tour will kick off one week from today on Saturday, April 17 from 10:00am to 4:00pm.

An annual presentation of The Garden Club of Virginia, The Hunting Creek Garden Club and The Garden Club of Alexandria, the tour benefits historic gardens and landmarks in Virginia.

Five Old Town houses are featured on the tour and the houses may be visited in any order so let’s get started:

The Alexander McConnell House at 201 Duke Street.  Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this Federal clapboard house was built in 1785-95 along with two adjacent houses at 223 and 225 South Lee Street.  At that time the houses shared a common kitchen and stable.  Today it has a charming side garden  with a vine covered pergola and a brick patio.  John H. Patterson, owner.

220 South Fairfax Street is home to an Italianate style house built in 1885.  This site was the previous location of a Quaker meeting house and graveyard, a Presbyterian church, and the temporary home of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church while the current church was being built. 

Ordinarily photographs are not allowed inside but we are lucky enough to know the owners and were able to get a few interior pictures. 


Charlie and Susan have traveled widely in Southeast Asia and have used wonderful native art along with family heirlooms to decorate.  Clock faces consistent with the age of the house line the front hall stairs.  Charlie and Susan Davis, owners.

The Customs House at 501 Duke Street, a classic Federal house, was home to George Washington’s nephew and Martha Washington’s favorite niece.  The couple were married at Mt. Vernon in 1785 and purchased the residence shortly thereafter.  


By 1799, the building was being used as the Customs House by  Charles Simms who later surrendered Alexandria to the British in the War of 1812 (and for which he was  censured). The house is surrounded on three sides by a walled garden that includes a kitchen herb garden, vegetables and perennials. Lauren Belvin, owner.

806 Prince Street has a rich history and is known as the Parson Johnston House/Robert E. Lee Camp Hall.  Originally built in 1852 by the then rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, this classic Greek Revival house was used as a girl’s school and once housed the Alexandria Library. 


Today it is the home of the Mary Custis Lee Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.  The structure features a central hallway with two rooms on either side.  Other original features include wrought-iron work, moldings, millwork, fireplaces and gasoliers.  The upstairs houses a Civil War museum.

The Bayne-Fowle House at 811 Prince Street was constructed in 1854 and used as a hospital during the Civil War.  The design is significant in that it is an unaltered example of a wealthy merchant’s residence of the mid-19th century. 

There are three stories, a raised English basement and a full attic.  Inside are pier mirrors, fireplaces, staircases, shutters, floors and doors original to the house. 


Listed as a Virginia Historic Landmark and on the National Register of Historic Places, the house is owned by Richard Klinger and Jane Slatter.  On a personal note, Virginia and I lived next door at 813 Prince Street when we were first married.

Each ticket also provides all day admission to the Lee-Fendall House, Carlyle House Historic Park, Mt. Vernon, Woodlawn and Gunston Hall Plantation

Advance tickets are $35 and are available at The Alexandria Visitor’s Center; the Athenaeum; Market Square Shop; The Enchanted Florist; Notting Hill Gardens; Red Barn Mercantile; and Reunions.

For Internet tickets, click here.

Enjoy the 2010 Alexandria House and Garden Tour, it’s a wonderful way to take in Alexandria’s rich history.  Oh, be sure and take in the annual plant sale at River Farm (included in your ticket).  You’ll be glad you did.


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Alexandria’s 2010 Spring Clean-Up is Like One Big Scavenger Hunt

Ever heard the phrase “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure”? Well, never is that more true than during Alexandria’s city wide spring cleanup running this year from April 10 to May 1.

Starting this Saturday, residents in designated zip codes are invited to clean out their closets, basements, attics, garages, etc. , and set the results curbside for FREE pickup by the city’s refuse collection.

“Acceptable” trash includes appliances, steel pipes, furniture, mattresses, brush, tree limbs and tires.

But it’s once the materials are curbside that the real fun begins. Scavengers, entrepreneurs, fixer upper types, junk dealers, etc. move like vultures looking for items they can salvage, resell on Ebay or Craig’s List, or simply rework for their own use.

We got one of our favorite large, terra cotta garden urns from just such a moment and Virginia still regrets the dressmaker’s dummy she let slip away – it was going to be  garden ornament.

It’s fun, it’s totally acceptable and it doesn’t cost a thing!

Here are the rules:

  1. Place materials at the CURB (no alley pick-up) before 7:00am on
    the assigned pick-up day.
  2. Stoves, refrigerators, washers, dryers, hot water heaters, freezers, and dish washers require a $20 per item collection fee.
  3. Tie brush in bundles no more than 4 feet long and not more than 75lbs.

Items must be placed in 4 distinct piles:

  1. Reusable items – tables, chairs, household furniture or any other reusable item
  2. Metal items – pots, pans, toasters, wire hangers
  3. Electronics – stereos, computers, televisions
  4. Refuse


Click here for more information about recycling, hazardous waste and a MAP  of when Alexandria’s 2010 Spring Clean Up is coming to you. 

Del Ray – you’re up on Saturday! And if we see you out there picking through things – well, we won’t tell if you won’t.


Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 8 Comments »

Do You Need a Realtor® to Sell Your Home?

Do you need a Realtor® to sell your home?  The short answer is no.  The longer answer is more complicated.

A fellow Coldwell Banker agent, Janis Bokor in Bucks County, PA , put together this terrific quiz about what it takes to sell a house on your own – and why you may decide that you DO need a Realtor® to sell you home.

  1. Do you have the time, energy and contacts to handle all the aspects of selling your home?
    Yes   No
  2. If you do it yourself, do you think the results would be as good or better than if you use a ” competent” real estate professional to assist you with your home purchase?
    Yes   No
  3. Are you comfortable dealing with contracts and legal issues?
    Yes   No
  4. Do you have “free” access to legal real estate advice and real estate contracts?
    Yes   No
  5. Do you have access to the “true” price your neighboring homes sold for excluding any seller paid incentives to broker or buyer?
    Yes   No
  6. Do you know how to accurately price your home?
    Yes   No
  7. Do you know how to stage your home for the best buyer impression?
    Yes   No
  8. Do you have the ability to pre-qualify a buyer before showing your home?
    Yes   No
  9. Are you comfortable showing strangers through your home? Do you feel they are a security risk?
    Yes   No
  10. Do you have the time, budget, resources and expertise to market your home for sale?
    Yes   No
  11. Do you know advertising tools work the best in effectively marketing your home?
    Yes   No
  12. Do you know what the law requires to be disclosed to a home buyer?
    Yes   No
  13. Do you know what constitutes a legally binding real estate contract? Do you understand contingencies and their completion dates?
    Yes   No
  14. Do you know how to handle a purchase offer- what if there are multiple offers?
    Yes   No
  15. Do you know how to handle a request for closing costs or mortgage discount points?
    Yes   No
  16. Do you know how to handle a contingency clause putting you in the situation that a buyer has to to sell his home before he can close on yours?
    Yes   No
  17. Do you know what appliances and fixtures are included in the sale of real estate? Do you know what you can exclude?
    Yes   No
  18. Do you know how to handle a buyer’s appraisal that comes in below your asking price?
    Yes   No
  19. Do you know how to ensure your home is inspected by only a reputable and competent home inspector?
    Yes   No
  20. Do you know how to respond to home inspection requests and repairs?
    Yes   No
  21. Do you know what you are or are not required to repair or replace?
    Yes   No
  22. Do you know how to be sure that the buyer is obtaining the agreed upon financing?
    Yes   No
  23. Are you aware of the legal and financial liability that can come with selling a home if you make a mistake?
    Yes   No 

If you answered “yes” to:

So, how did you do on the quiz?  Call me at 703.927.4554 and let’s talk about getting your house in the market.


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Alexandria and Northern Virginia Real Estate Market Report for March 2010

The Alexandria and Northern Virginia Real Estate Market Report for March 2010 is the first to reflect the significant weather conditions that affected our region throughout February.

Not only were closings postponed but folks were dealing with damp basements and fallen tree limbs instead of looking at property – a fact that will also impact the April Market Report.

Here is a quick snapshot for Alexandria City:

In the next few days we will bring you a series of reports on individual neighborhoods and zip codes for a hyper local view of the market. 

In the meantime, look at the Alexandria and Northern Virginia real estate market reports for March 2010:

Fairfax County
Washington, DC

And remember – the deadline for that first time home owners tax credit is fast approaching.  You must be under contract by April 30th.    

Call me at 703.927.4554 and let’s talk houses.




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2010 Easter Sunday at Christ Church Alexandria

A picture perfect day and glorious music and liturgy welcomed the over 1600 people who attended six services on Easter Sunday at Christ Church Alexandria.



 Hallelujah, Hallelujah!



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Sixth Annual Eggstravaganza at Eclectic Nature Garden Center in Alexandria, VA

Following a week of chilly temperatures, the sun was out and the skies clear for the sixth annual eggstravaganza at Eclectic Nature Garden Center in Alexandria.

Parents and toddlers alike gathered on the sidewalk waiting for the Easter Bunny to start the festivities – and then the race was on. 

From savvy 6 and 7 year olds to those who could barely walk, hunting for eggs was serious business. 

At stake were two eggs with a message inside that simply said “winner.”

For the adults it was a chance to take in some of the earliest offerings of the season –

fresh herbs, lettuces, clematis, roses, geraniums and a wonderful array of containers and accompanying plants, just waiting for a new home. 

There was even a great seating area for grandparents.

It was over almost as fast as it started (great for little folks attention spans), the winner declared and time to move on.  But as one set of parents said to me, “we’ll be back.”

 Ben (51/2), one of the winners and his sister Ellie (31/2)

And so will we,


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