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Archive for October, 2008

Del Ray Halloween Parade Photos, Part II

Whew, Halloween is a busy time around here!  And while Old Town Alexandria has its Lee Street Block Party, Del Ray pulls out all the stops with its annual Halloween Parade.  Here are more photos from that memorable affair:


Round ’em up, head ’em out

Sometimes a princess just wants to watch with her dad




It’s not easy being a baby, much less a baby chicken!

What a great day . . . for even more photos, click here.


12th Annual Del Ray Halloween Parade – Don’t Miss It!

Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 2 Comments »

Halloween in Old Town Alexandria

In a city almost consumed by the final days of the 2008 election, residents of Lee Street in Old Town Alexandria put aside all thoughts of Nov. 4 to concentrate on Halloween.  Six blocks of Lee Street, from King Street south, were blocked off for several hours to create the ultimate in trick or treating.


A long time tradition in this very traditional neighborhood, residents take great pride in decorating their houses, offering treats, and dressing for the occasion.  An added bonus are the front doors that stand open, offering a glimpse into Old Town Living.


Would you like to be part of next year’s Old Town festivities?  Give me a call at 703.927.4554 and let’s find a Lee Street property for you.


Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 4 Comments »

Madeline in Del Ray – Halloween Parade Photos, Part I

After a day of driving rain, Sunday dawned bright and comfortably cool for the 12th Annual Del Ray Halloween Parade.   Over 5,000 adults, children and dogs turned out for what is arguably one of the best “home grown” events in the area.

There were many “favorites” but topping our list this year was “Madeline in Del Ray”.  Put together by a group of playground moms/friends, the visual feast included an Eiffel Tower, two bottles of wine, a French baguette, Miss Clavel, Lord Cucaface and twelve, yes, twelve Madeline’s – complete with yellow boaters and blue smocks.

 Lord Cucaface and the Eiffel Tower lead the way

 Miss “Tower” herself

the Madelines

Madeline in Del Ray won the Best Group or Family in the Best Decorated Stroller Contest – and what a stroller it was!

Stay tuned for Part II.


Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 1 Comment »

Real Estate and Mortgage Updates for Northern Virginia

Today’s snap shot of the real estate and mortgage market in Northern Virginia includes reports from Rob Clark at Preferred Mortgage and  the Washington Post.

Rob reports a “wild ride” with the week ending about where it started but with lots of volatility.  The current, conventional 30 year loan rings in at 6.25% with 0 points.  For more, click here.

In a report called “Snapshots From a Slow Market”, the Washington Post looked at eight neighborhoods in Northern Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.  With one neighborhood showing a change of  -44.7% from September 2007 till now and another showing a change of +66% during the same time period, it really illustrates how the real estate market needs to be viewed on a micro level.  Just like politics, all real estate is local!

Are you ready to look at the local market?  Call me at 703.927.4554 and we’ll look together.


Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently No Comments »

Yes, Mortgage Money Is Still Available

In the recent turmoil around bank failures, government relief packages and an extraordinarily erratic stock market, the words”tight credit” have been a regular part of media coverage.  Unfortunately many potential buyers have assumed that those two dreaded words applied to them.  Not so!  Mortgage money is still available. 

Our colleague, Rob Clark at Preferred Mortgage, offers this encouraging news:

1)  Mortgage product is widely available.  Preferred has sold loans to 21 different state and national investors and brokered loans to dozens of others.

2)   Borrowers can still qualify for a loan.  It is absolutely true that today’s underwriting standards are stricter than those of the recent past – a very good thing for the mortgage industry.  Borrowers are now required to document their income, their assets, and prove that they are credit worthy.  Old fashioned? Maybe.  Prudent?  Absolutely.  A borrower with proper documentation and the appropriate income to loan ration will have no problem obtaining a loan.

3)  Preferred Service Mortgage was never a major player in the sub-prime market.  In 2005, at the height of the subprime frenzy, Preferred Service did just 3.5% loan volume in this category. This means Preferred is in an excellent position to take on the long anticipated upswing in the housing market.

Questions?  Feel free to contact me at 703.548.0938 or Rob at 703.518.2814.  We’re ready when you are.


Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 2 Comments »

12th Annual Del Ray Halloween Parade – Don’t Miss It!

At the beginning of the month we wrote about five great reasons to visit Del Ray in October and the Del Ray Halloween Parade was right at the top of the list.  Scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 26th, the 12th annual parade will begin at 2:00pm and children, pets, and strollers in costumes are invited to march.

The parade route begins at Mt. Vernon Avenue, south of E. Bellefonte, and continues to the Mt. Vernon Rec Center.

Awards will be given for:

The awards ‘ceremony’ will take place on the play fields at the Mt. Vernon Rec Center and will be followed by entertainment, games and refreshments.  All activities are free.

At 6:30pm families can enjoy a ‘haunted graveyard‘ designed and constructed by Bean Creative at Mt. Vernon and E. Del Ray Avenue.  This is just the second year for the graveyard but by all reports it was a howling success . . .

For the fifth year residents will collect and distribute Halloween costumes for children who would otherwise have to go without.  Donated costumes are being collected at the Caboose Cafe, 2419 Mt. Vernon Avenue and A Show of Hands at 2204 Mt. Vernon Avenue and will be distributed on Saturday October 25, from 2-4:00pm at the Mt. Vernon Recreation Center.

For more information about registration contact:   Gayle Reuter at 703.684.3535 or [email protected]


P.S. Be sure and check back next Monday for pictures of this very special Del Ray event . . .

Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 2 Comments »

Alexandria’s Very Own Pumpkin Patch is A Community Tradition at Immanuel Church-on-the-Hill

Just like Charlie Brown, Alexandria has its very own Pumpkin Patch.  Located on the grounds of Immanuel Church-On-The-Hill at the corner of Quaker and Seminary Lanes, the annual sale of 10,000 pumpkins is a community tradition.

 Just the right size for small hands

Now in its 15th year, the sale benefits local charities like the Network Preschool, ALIVE!, Carpenters Shelter, and Community Lodgings as well as others.  The sale also benefits the Navajo Indian tribes in the northern regions of New Mexico, who raise the pumpkins on irrigated tribal lands, by creating some 300 jobs.

 Endless variety

Last year the church netted more than $35,000 for charity with absolutely zero dollars going back into the church budget.  How do they do it?  Wendy John, pumpkin wrangler extraordinaire, credits enthusiastic community support and the involvement of church members young and old for making this event both fun and profitable.


Wendy and Doug John

 A satisfied customer

But wait, pumpkins aren’t the only thing available.  Decorative gourds, gourd birdhouses, Indian corn, and autumn crafts add to the bounty.  My favorite though?  Homemade soup and apple crisp!

Pumpkins are on sale now through October 31 from 10:00am to 8:00pm daily and range in price from $1 to $25.

For additional information call 703.370.6555.

I’m going back tomorrow to stock up – see you there?


Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 15 Comments »

It’s A Corn Maze Extravaganza in Northern Virginia

Ok, you’ve survived a week’s worth of  budget worries, strategic planning, endless meetings and tear your hair out traffic and now its time to have some fun.  Why not head to some of the outlying areas of Northern Virginia and try your hand with a maze, a corn maze.

Wait, you think corn mazes are for kids?  Think again.

Corn mazes are big business with corn maze companies devoted to design and execution.  Heck, there’s even a national corn maze directory!

In fact, one of the biggest and best is right down the road in Leesburg.  In celebration of its 250th founding, the town fathers commissioned a giant birthday cake carved into a 14 acre cornfield maze at Temple Hall Farm Regional Park.

A bird’s eye view shows a four layer cake with Happy Birthday Leesburg written out in script.  From the ground, well that’s another story – and you’ll just have to see for yourself!

And if you want to go even further afield, click here for a complete listing of mazes in Virginia

So go have some fun . . . you deserve it.


Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 2 Comments »

The Emotional Cost of Buying and Selling Real Estate

A few months ago I reviewed a book that chronicled the story of a young family who, despite all odds, succeeded in making a run down, ramshackle house a home.  The point being that buying a house is about so much more than getting a good deal or making a wise investment.

Yesterday in the Washington Post, staff writer Ylan Q. Mui made a similar point in an article that chronicled her and her husband’s own hunt for a house during the past six months.

Mui notes that “Sellers become depressed as homes stagnate on the market.  They get insulted when they receive lowball offers.  Buyers feel entitled to a deal and fret about finding the bottom of the curve.  The process has become so emotional on both sides that psychologists rank it on par with divorce and even death.”

She also quotes Ruth Peters, a psychologist who has worked with us at Coldwell Banker.  “People have a preconceived notion that it’s like walking into a store and and you’re going to see something and pick it out . . . Those are expectations that are generally not met.  It’s going to take emotional work and physical work.”

I couldn’t agree more.  I’m currently working with a couple who first came to me over a year ago as renters.  Now they are ready to buy.  We have looked at a lot of property.  We have lost one contract on a short sale.  We are writing another contract today.  It’s been emotional and physical work on both sides.

I understand it but I don’t think my clients bargained on it being this tough.  They have been real troopers though – they have stuck to their budget, they continue to trust the relationship we have built and, perhaps best of all, they have remained calm and optimistic.

They are not looking for a castle, they are not trying to gauge the ‘next hot neighborhood’ or where the military might relocate a large facility.  Instead they are looking for a house that is within their means; a house that feels right, a house that will become home.

We’ve got more work to do but when we do find that house, all that work will become a distant memory.

What about you?  Are you ready to dig in and do some work?  Give me a call at 703.927.4554 and I’ll be right there with you.


Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 1 Comment »

A Day in the Virginia Countryside – Part Two

As much as we enjoyed the sheep, llamas, alpacas, and goats at the Fall Fiber Festival, our real reason for traveling to Orange was the Montpelier Sheep Dog Trials.  We had our first taste of this incredibly entertaining event a few years ago at a similar event at Oatlands Plantation in Leesburg, VA.  Oatlands stopped sponsoring  the however and we have been looking for another set of trials ever since.


If you have never seen a border collie – or sheep dog – work, you have missed a display of focus, intensity, and training that rivals Michael Phelps!  From the time they are just small pups, border collies have a well developed herding instinct.  Left to their own devices, they will “herd” socks, toys or any other out of place item.  With the help of a trainer they soon learn to follow a set of calls, hand signals and whistles.

At a timed trial, the dogs work to move three or more sheep across a large field and into a pen.  After successfully penning them, the dog then works to separate one sheep from the group.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t – sheep do not like to be herded . . .



And afterwards, with heart rates sky high, the dogs collapse in a tub of water to cool off.

Mark your 2009 calendar (Oct. 3-4), pack your folding chair, wear a hat, settle in for an afternoon of simple pleasures, and we’ll see you there.


Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 1 Comment »

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