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Easter 2011 at Historic Christ Church in Old Town Alexandria

Following a week of cold, wet weather, Easter Sunday dawned clear and warm at Historic Christ Church in Old Town Alexandria.

The Wine Glass Pulpit at Christ Church

The Wine Glass Pulpit at Christ Church

Small baskets in the side windows

Small baskets in the side windows

Larger baskets in the Palladin windows flanking the pulpit

Larger baskets in the Palladin windows flanking the pulpit

And flowering trees and flowers everywhere in the church yard

And flowering trees and flowers everywhere in the church yard

Over a 1,000 visitors and congregation members attended four services beginning with the 7:30am.

Michael

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Real Estate Market Report for Alexandria and Northern Virginia March 2011

The Real Estate Market Report for Alexandria and Northern Virginia for March 2011 brings good news both in the number of sales and housing prices.

coldwell-banker-logoSales of 166 in March 2011 were up >19.4% over March 2010 sales of 139 and up  >15.3% from 144 sales in February 2011.

Overall March 2011 YTD sales are running 14.4% ahead of last year.

The average price of homes sold in Alexandria was up >10.7% from $400,668 in March 2010 to $443,507 in March 2011 and up >5.7% from February 2011.

Median prices were up >21.3% from March 2010 to March 2011 and up >4.9% from February 2011.

For a more detailed look at individual markets, click on each of the specific areas below:

Alexandria

Arlington

Fairfax Country

Faquier County

Loudoun County

Prince William

Washington, DC

And for a free comparative market analysis of your neighborhood, give me a call at 703.927.4554.

It’s a great time to buy a home!

Michael


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Home Buyers Want Move-in-Ready-Condition

Now that we are finally beginning to see what we call spring weather, the question on everyone’s mind is how strong is the spring market?

While it’s too early to make any sweeping statements on the spring selling season, news of multiple offers are coming in across various regions and multiple price brackets.

This activity indicates that buyers are prevalent and are acting on those opportunities where they perceive value. In other words, homes that are in good condition are making the most impression.

It’s really more than just being in good condition though.

A recent study by Coldwell Banker Real Estate surveyed 300 first-time home buyers who purchased a home in the last year and found that 87 percent of those queried want to buy homes that are in move-in-ready condition.

iStock_000015272507XSmall
First-time buyers essentially want to buy a home that is affordable, but don’t want to spend the time and additional money to improve a fixer-upper like they did in years past.


This survey is important because it explores what is most important to new buyers and provides insight for those looking to buy or sell in 2011.

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), first-time home buyers accounted for half of the market in 2010. 

For home sellers, the message is clear.  You must price your home competitively and ensure that it stands above the crowd.

Want more information on buying or selling in Alexandria or Northern Virginia?

Give me a call at 703.927.4554 and let’s get started.


Michael

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How Community Oriented Police in Alexandria Are Making a Difference

Just last Wednesday we brought you an article about how Alexandria’s crime rate had dropped to it’s lowest point in 40 years.  Today, a story about how Community Oriented Police (COPs) in Alexandria are making a difference.

Our friends over at the Arlandrian were to first to pick up on an article from the Alexandria Police Department’s newsletter, The Police Beat.

It involves graffiti, often used by rival gangs to initiate threats, a stretched city budget, two resourceful police officers and a company called (what else?) Graffiti Removal, Inc. It’s a story that makes you proud.

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Want to know more about living in this great community?  Give me a call at 703.927.4554 and let’s make this your home too.

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The Scriptorium in Old Town Alexandria for Wedding Invitations and More

Let me start by saying that I love beautiful stationery.  Small sheets, folded notes, correspondence cards, calling cards – you name it, I love it.  Engraved?  Even better.

Scriptorium

Scriptorium

Imagine my delight then in finding the Scriptorium in Old Town Alexandria.  Tucked away in Norford Court off Cameron Street (just behind City Hall), the Scriptorium is a destination shop for anyone who wants expert advice, personal service, quality materials and a beautiful, beautiful product.

X JudyThe Scriptorium is also one of the oldest independently owned businesses in Old Town.

Proprietor Judy Shavin opened her store in 1976 after her presidential candidate lost and dashed her plans to work in the White House.

Casting about for an entrepreneurial opportunity, Judy was encouraged to open a cigar store, a children’s clothing store or a store for fine writing papers.  The first two options held no appeal but the third suggestion was right on the mark.

Judy did her homework, took classes at the Small Business Administration, made friends with savvy retailers and, although she lives in the District, cast her lot in Alexandria.

When asked about the biggest change in the past 35 years, the answer was easy – the use of reply cards and envelopes with wedding invitations rather than the expectation of a handwritten response.

What about etiquette questions around the proliferation of blended families and ‘interesting’ family dynamics?  Judy modestly says she is still learning and sensitive questions see her through.

Her best seller?  Anything by Crane.  Why?  Because Crane is 100% rag content.  In other words, the paper is not made from trees but from cotton fibers.  Wonderfully heavy, ecologically friendly and simply classic.

X Wall of Invitations

Judy’s infallible reference is Crane’s Book of Etiquette and her business philosophy is to treat her customers the same way she would like to be treated.

Having gone in for a box of Crane’s envelopes and walked out with an order for engraved correspondence cards, I would say that Judy’s philosophy is working just fine.

X Small round tables

So whether you need wedding invitations, save the date cards, birth announcements, party invitations, guest books or personal stationery, the Scriptorium should be your destination.

Expect understated, elegant and tasteful, just like Judy herself.   In the all too frequent world of email invites or worse, the Scriptorium is a beacon of light.

Virginia Amos

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A French Cafe for Del Ray

Margaret Janowsky, owner of the elegant Old Town eatery, La Bergerie, has submitted plans to open a French cafe in Del Ray.

The future Le Cafe Del Ray

The future Le Cafe Del Ray

The location is in an old, two story house (commercially zoned) at 205 East Howell, just east of the intersection with Mt. Vernon and 3 short blocks from my house.

The building has off street parking but will also be a huge walking destination.  A special use permit application has received administrative approval from the city’s Department of Planning and Zoning.

Off Street Parking

Off Street Parking

The application, which uses the name “Le Cafe Del Ray,” calls for a “full service restaurant offering breakfast, lunch, dinner and carryout for home consumption of bakery goods.”

Anyone for coffee and croissant?

Michael

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New Harris Teeter in Old Town Alexandria?

Rumor has it that negotiations are underway for a new Harris Teeter in Old Town Alexandria.

An old, long abandoned warehouse at the corner of St. Aspah and Madison (and directly across from our favorite Royal Restaurant) is the supposed site.

DSCN3414This would put three grocery chains within six blocks of each other – Trader Joe’s, Harris Teeter and Giant.

Earlier, now abandoned, plans called for a location on North Henry that would have served the Parker Gray and Braddock neighborhoods.

According to the Parker Gray Growl, the new location is “in an area that at present has no greater density than the Braddock neighborhood and which already has two operating and competing grocery stores.

This seems to demolish the City’s contradictory defenses that retail is difficult to attract here due to competition from King Street and Potomac Yard or that that only ever high-density development can bring enough residents to support retail.”

It will be interesting to see what happens.

Michael

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Special Financing Program with FHA Does NOT Require Mortgage Insurance

Homepath is a special financing program that Fannie Mae has for properties it currently owns through foreclosure.

homepath
The program allows for 97 percent owner occupied and 90 percent investor financing with NO MORTGAGE INSURANCE.  And it only requires a credit score of 660.

There are 40+ properties for sale or under contract in Alexandria.  Some not so nice, some nice.

BUT, if you are cash strapped or an investor, this may be an excellent opportunity to get in the market.

Take a look at the website and let me know if you need more information about the program.

Michael

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Vendor Carts Slated for Market Square in Old Town Alexandria

The Alexandria City Council has approved a pilot program for food vendor cards on Market Square in Old Town Alexandria.

The program, which will run from early April through October 2011, will allow a maximum of eight vendor carts to sell food and non-alcoholic beverages.

The carts will be in place from 11:00am to 5:00pm Monday thru Friday and on Sunday.  Saturday hours are from 1:00pm to 5:00pm because of the weekly Farmers Market in the same location.

Tables and chairs, supplied by the city, will be available on the plaza.

Courtesy of the City of Alexandria

Courtesy of the City of Alexandria

What foods will be available?  We don’t know yet.

Only existing Old Town restaurants were invited to apply for the eight spots in the pilot program.

Applicants will be reviewed using the following criteria:

Vendors will set their own prices and retail items (shirts, hats, etc.) will NOT be permitted.

I think this will be a terrific attraction for Alexandria residents, workers and visitors.  And since our Coldwell Banker office is directly across the street from Market Square I expect to be a regular!

Thinking about buying or selling a house in Alexandria?

Let’s do lunch at the new vendor carts on Market Square in Old Town Alexandria – just give me a call at 703.927.4554.

Michael

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Potomac Yard Metro Station Set to Open in 2016

The Potomac Yard Metro Station is set to open in 2016 – and a lot rests on that date holding firm.

In fact, funding for the station is absolutely dependent upon an on-time completion according to Vice Mayor Kerry Donley:

“Any slippage in time along the way costs more money in one of two ways. Either in expense or inability to gather revenue as quickly as we would like… all of our projections on bonds, all of our projections on repayment of the bond are all predicated on opening in 2016.”

Potomac Yard Metro Map

Our friends over at The Arlandrian do a great job of following City Council actions as they pertain to the proposed station.  In a recent post, Nick Partee tells us that:

  1. An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is now underway and should last through 2013.  A project Web site is available for public information and viewing.
  2. The City of Alexandria created a special tax district and tax increment financing (TIF) area to pay for the station. That revenue depends on development around the station, but the development depends on the station. The city has issued bonds to pay for the station and budgeted funds to cover the bond debt service the first few years, but is counting on the TIF for later years. If the station and surrounding development are delayed, the bond repayment costs could cut into other city services or cause other financial complications.
  3. A project manager has been hired to keep the EIS process on track.
  4. The EIS process includes refining the Metro station location alternatives. All alternatives are on the table, including not building the station as well as all station configurations — above ground, below ground, center platform, side platform, etc.
  5. Two informational meetings will take place on Thursday, Feb. 10 at the Cora Kelly Recreation Center from 4:30 – 6:00pm and 6:30 – 8:00pm.  No reservations are necessary.


What does this mean for you and housing in and around Potomac Yard ?  Give me a call at 703.927.4554 and let’s take a look.

Michael

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