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Archive for June, 2008

Window Boxes and Front Step Flowers Are a Visual Delight in Old Town Alexandria

For the most part, front yards do not exist in Old Town Alexandria. Instead, colorful window boxes, stately urns, clustered pots of flowers and geometric topiaries welcome visitors and home owners alike. Enjoy a “walk” on this Scenic Sunday through the streets of Old Town . . .

Are you interested in knowing more about living in historic Old Town Alexandria? I’m just a phone call away at 703.927.4554.

Thanks for stopping by,

Michael

Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 2 Comments »

Saturday Night at the Del Ray Music Festival

 

Just before the rains came at the first (annual?) Del Ray Music Festival. On stage – Dagmar and the Seductones!

The rain held off until about 9:00pm and then the heavens opened . . . .congratulations to every one who worked on this remarkable event! For more information on the festival click here.

Michael

Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 2 Comments »

Why Whole Foods Is a Giant In Customer Service

I just wanted to give a quick shout out to Whole Foods on Duke Street in Alexandria for FULLY embracing the idea of reusable grocery bags.

Some of you will remember my article about how hard I was trying with reusable grocery bags – although my biggest problem was just remembering to take them in the store?

Well, last night I dashed over to WF to get a big healthy bag of fresh salad greens and some of my favorite protein bars and – gold star for me – I grabbed a reusable grocery bag out of the trunk.

Shopping done I moved towards the check out lines, all of which were long since it was near closing.

Undaunted, I took my place and whipped out my cloth shopping bag. Minutes later, after receving my 5 cent rebate and feeling proudly green, I picked up my bag – my Giant Food Store bag – and walked out.

My point? The clerk at check out could have called my attention to the fact that I had grabbed (mistakenly) a Giant bag instead of a Whole Foods bag and/or refused me the recycling rebate. Instead he fully embraced the notion of customer service and recycling.

It was more important to serve his customer quickly and efficiently and rejoice in the use of a cloth bag than to be “right.” Good for him, good for the environment, good for Whole Foods.

Virginia

Thanks to my spouse and managing partner for this update on her continuing struggle to “live green.”

P.S. What kind of customer service is your real estate agent giving you?

Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 2 Comments »

Gourmet Dining, Classical Music and A Rural Retreat Make for a Perfect Weekend Getaway

Local music offerings abound (like the Del Ray Music Festival). But if you’re looking for music AND a weekend getaway AND gourmet dining, consider driving about 4 hrs. west to Bath County. There, snug against the Alleghenies, you’ll find it all in a decidedly rural setting. In fact, Bath County has no traffic lights – and for many Northern Virginia residents that might be reason enough for a getaway!

The Garth Newel Music Center in Warm Springs, VA is the unique vision of Christine Herter Kendall who died in 1981.

The center produces about 50 events a year many of which are at night and where dinner may start with a minted pea soup with a scallop mousseline.

This year’s offerings will include a world-premiere composition in August by Pulitzer Prize winning composer Paul Moravec.

For more information, click here.

Michael

Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently No Comments »

Live Music, Food and Games at the Del Ray Music Festival, Saturday June 28

Music – and the Del Ray Music Festival – will take center stage on the fields of the Mt. Vernon Rec Center this Saturday, June 28 as part of the ongoing Town of Potomac Centennial Celebration that started in January.

Actually, the full musical line up will take two stages with bands starting at 10 in the morning (be sure and get to the Farmers Market early) and running until 10 in the evening.

Sponsored by the Del Ray School of Music, The Birchmere, Acoustic Axis and the Del Ray Centennial, expect to hear everything from Brazilian Fusion to jazz to bluegrass to classical guitar and gypsy swing!

Click here for a full schedule and more information about the bands.

Food will be provided by Del Ray favorites Let’s Meat on the Avenue, Del Merei Grille and Taqueria Poblano. Yum!

And this great poster? Thanks to Ellen Hamilton at Yellow Dot Designs.

What a great way to spend a Saturday, Del Ray style. See you at the Mt. Vernon Rec Center on Saturday –

Michael

Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 2 Comments »

Mortgage Rates Rise Slowly as Food and Energy Prices Increase

Driven upward by food and energy price increases, the Producer Price Index (PPI) climbed by 1.4% and mortgage rates continued a slow move upward. Removing those two variables decreases the PPI to a more modest 0.2% but the annualized core reading is still sitting at 3.0% – well above nearly every expert’s comfort range.

The Federal Open Market Committee will meet later this summer and while nearly every expert is predicting that the Fed will stand pat on interest rates, the odds are increasing for a rate hike in August.

Stay tuned next time for the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) final 1st quarter numbers. Rob Clark, Preferred Mortgage, warns that if the GDP is revised from 0.09% to higher than 1.2%, we could see additional pressure to move mortgage rates upward.

The good news?

The declining market approach is being eliminated by a number of lenders. In our area that means loans up to $417,000 with 5% down and up to $727,750 with a 10% down payment.

If you or anyone you know is considering a move please give me a call. I’ll help you find you the best house and the best financing possible.

Michael

Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 15 Comments »

Identity Theft with A Real Estate Twist

As part of its sweeping Operation Malicious Mortgage, the FBI is finding that mortgage scams are just the tip of the iceberg. Reporting for National Public Radio’s Legal Affairs, Dina Temple-Raston noted that officials have started arresting people for scams tied to home equity lines of credit.

Raston says: “Instead of stealing an identity to secure a credit card, scammers have been zeroing in on people they think have a lot of equity in their homes. They steal their identities, then go online and get a home equity line of credit on that person’s house and take the money. The FBI said the possibilities seem to be endless, and even in a down market, there are many opportunities for scam artists.”

Be sure and read Raston’s full report. The good news – for the honest, hard-working real estate agents, brokers, appraisers, developers, bankers, etc. who are in the majority – the FBI intends to catch and prosecute ANYONE involved in mortgage fraud.

Stay tuned,

Michael

Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 1 Comment »

Del Ray Turns Out for the 3rd Annual Kelly Cares 5K Run/Walk

Proving once again that Del Ray is not just another pretty neighborhood, hundreds of residents turned out on a foggy June 7 morning for the 3rd Annual Kelly Cares 5K Run/Walk.

Established in memory of Kelly Swanson, a 2005 graduate of T.C. Williams High School, the foundation was formed to support Kelley’s life long desire to make people aware of the need for inclusion regardless of ability.

From the fourth grade, through her graduation from T.C. Williams, Kelly used her love of soccer to work with the City of Alexandria’s Therapeutic Recreation Youth Opportunity Sports Program.

The city office provides a full array of programs and services for residents with disabilities and oversees compliance of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Together, the Kelly Cares Foundation and the Therapeutic Recreation Section are working to fund a Mobile Multi-Sensory Unit for use in the Alexandria Public School System.

The first Kelly Cares 5K Run/Walk raised $60,000 and helped establish a Multi-Sensory Room at the Durant Center.

Whether celebrating on First Thursdays, gathering at the Farmers Market or honoring the work of one of its own, Del Ray really is more than just another pretty neighborhood and I’m proud to live here.

Michael

Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 3 Comments »

Boom, Bust, and Aftermath – What Happened to the Biggest Housing Boom Since the 1950’s

Over the past three days, the Washington Post has run an excellent investigative series – “The Bubble” – about what happened to the biggest housing boom in this country since the 1950’s.

As much as I have railed about the seemingly endless BAD news about the real estate market in both national and local newspapers, this series is worth your time.

A cautionary tale, it is also a classic tale of – is there any nice way to say it – greed. Like David Zimmer, former CEO of now defunct People’s Choice says, “Everbody’s culpable in this – everybody – Wall Street, investors, originators, brokers. At every point in the process, something broke down.”

The good news? Home ownership is still a good investment; buyers have time and inventory on their side; and the mortgage business has returned to the basics.

Sunday: The Boom – How homeowners, speculators and Wall Street dealmakers rode a wave of easy money with crippling consequences.

Monday: The Bust – How homeowners’ missed mortgage payments set off widespread problems and woke up the Fed.

Tuesday: The Aftermath – How the housing bust started a panic in Florida, felled a storied bank and raised the specter of recession.

Your thoughts?

Michael

Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 1 Comment »

Hydrangea’s Are the Perfect Summer Flower – Big, Blowsy, Beautiful

Big, blowsy, and beautiful, hydrangea‘s are the perfect long blooming summer flower.

Del Ray is home to hundred’s of red, pink, blue, white and purple blossoms – here are just a few on this Scenic Sunday.

Thanks for stopping by,

Michael

Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 4 Comments »

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