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Archive for January, 2009

Del Ray’s Fireflies Restaurant to Host First Annual Superbowl Party

Fireflies, a well loved and well known Del Ray restaurant – and a Del Ray Cook Off winner –  is hosting its First “Annual” Superbowl Party tomorrow, Sunday, February 1.

The event will kick off with the requisite tailgating party on the patio and in the parking lot.  At game time the festivities will move indoors where the big game will be shown on a 10ft screen.

For party details, call 703.548.7200.  For real estate information call 703.927.4554.  Be there or be square,


Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently No Comments »

Washington, DC Number One on World’s Best Places for Real Estate Buys in 2009 – What It Means for Northern Virginia

Forbes magazine, in a recent article on where global real estate investors will be looking to put their money in 2009, named Washington, DC as the world’s number one spot for commercial and residential  real estate opportunities. 

Are you asking yourself why?  It’s simple really.  The recent announcement of up to one trillion in government spending means – regardless of the final number – new programs. And new programs need offices and employees.

While commercial and residential real estate often function as different markets, both need low unemployment and strong job growth to put money in the pockets of consumers.

*******At present, D.C. has the lowest unemployment rate in the country–4.1%, compared to the 7.2% national average. And with the new administration, it’s unlikely government jobs–and those they support–will be leaving the District anytime soon.*******

So what does this mean for Northern Virginia?   Although most federal offices are located in the District of Columbia, employees, whether federal workers (civilian or military) or private contractors often live outside the District.

Situated well inside the beltway and with a variety of public transportation options, Northern Virginia – and Alexandria in particular –  is a residential mecca for many of those workers.  We think this news comes at a great time – interest rates are down, inventory is good and sellers are open to creative offers.

And now, for the other nine cities:

2 – London

3 – New York

4 – Toyko

5 – Shanghai

6 – San Francisco7

7 – Los Angeles

8 – Paris

9 – Houston

10 – Singapore

For more on this story, click here.  And for more information on the Northern Virginia residential market, call me at 703.927.4554.


Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 2 Comments »

First Snowfall of 2009 (Gently) Blankets Alexandria, Northern Virginia

The first snowfall of 2009 is here!  The snow started this morning before dawn and was still going strong at midday, wrapping  Alexandria and Northern Virginia in a gentle blanket of white.


12:15pm Tuesday, January 27

Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently No Comments »

FHA Loans Are Moving Rapidly in Northern Virginia Mortgage Market

From our friend Rob Clark at Preferred Mortgage

“Last week rates increased a bit to close the week at 5.125% with 0 points or 4.75% with 1 point for a 30 yr fixed conforming loan. FHA loans are moving rapidly in Northern Virginia and more than half of the new loans (we) have done this month have been FHA. 

 ******Remember, the buyer does NOT have to be a first time buyer to use FHA and the maximum FHA loan for our marketplace is $625,500.

In other news the gap between conforming loans up to $417,000 and conforming plus+ loans between $417,000 and $635.500 has opened up a bit compared to activity in previous weeks.  The current rate for a conforming plus+ loan is 5.25% with 1 point.” 

 “The other issue surrounding lending right now is turnaround times.  Lenders are getting backlogged with refinancing and I have seen some taking as long as three weeks to complete underwriting.  Agents, buyers and sellers alike should be careful with any rush closings.  Be sure and discuss the time frames with the lender that your buyer is choosing. 

We (Preferred Mortgage) have always and will continue to prioritize purchase transactions and can still close them very quickly but I am hearing that this is not the case with many other lenders.”

 For more from Rob, click here

Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 4 Comments »

Northern Virginia Mortgage Banker Sentenced to Five Years in Prison

Northern Virginia mortgage banker Gohar J. Mirza has been sentenced to five years in prison (63 months to be precise) for conspiring to commit mail and wire fraud in connection with a mortgage fraud scheme.  His prison sentence will be followed by three years of supervised release and restitution of more than $3 million.

Mirza, who is 29, was the owner/operator of E-Star Lending, Inc. a mortgage brokerage company located in Burke and Annandale.  Mirza and his co-conspirators profited by selling residential real estate in the Northern Virginia area from approximately April 2005 to July 2008,  to individuals referred to as “straw buyers.”

E-Star Lending helped these “straw buyers” obtain 100 percent mortgage financing to purchase properties by producing fraudulent loan applications which included materially false statements about the buyers’ employment, income, and other factors that lenders look at in deciding whether or not to make a loan.  Not surprisingly, these “straw buyers” frequently defaulted on their mortgages.

Greed is a wicked bed fellow – and so is the aftermath.


Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 5 Comments »

Want Your House on TV? HGTV’s “Get It Sold” is Looking for Home Owners in Northern Virginia

Home and Garden Television (HGTV) is looking for homes – and home owners – in the Northern Virginia area to take part in the sixth season of Get It Sold.

Get It Sold helps people who haven’t been able to sell their house in the current market. Top real estate experts explain why buyers aren’t biting, and a staging expert suggests simple fixes to get the home ready for the open house. A listing agent provides a close look at the competition through tours of other comparable homes in the area. Once the staging makeover is complete, it’s time for the open house to get the house sold.

HGTV doesn’t guarantee a sale, but they can definitely improve your odds. To see an episode, tune into HGTV on Wednesdays at 8:30 pm or Sundays at 11:30 am to watch the show or visit the website at www.hgtv.com/hgtv/shows_hsold.

If you meet the following criteria, you might be just be what HGTV is looking for:

Interested?  Call or email me for more information and an application form.


Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 32 Comments »

Barack Obama Takes Oath as 44th President of the United States


Welcome to Washington Mr. President.

We’re glad you are here.


Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 2 Comments »

Save Money on Your Verizon Bill

Lincoln Spector, from PC world, has written a great article on how to save money on your phone bill.  Even better, he explains how to read your Verizon statement!  Spector reduced his family’s bill by some $800 a year and offers specific tips on how to do it.  For instance:

For the full article click here.  Just think, now I’ll actually understand my Verizon bill . . .


Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 6 Comments »

Three Tips for Surviving Inauguration 2009 in Northern Virginia

One week from today, Barack Obama will be sworn in as the 44th president of the United States and inauguration mayhem is all ready in full swing.  Hotels in Alexandria and neighboring Crystal City and Arlington are sold out with the influx of visitors  expected to begin on Friday and swell throughout the weekend.

And while this infusion of presidential supporters is a boon for the hospitality and travel industry and  nearby retail establishments (think Pentagon City, the shops along King Street and Potomac Yard), residents should be ready for minor inconveniences.

Just to be on the safe side, the Red Cross has three tips for surviving the 2009 inauguration in Northern Virginia:

1 – Get all prescriptions filled ahead of time (in case your pharmacist can’t get to work).

2 – Make sure your gas tank is filled (always a good idea).

3 – Have plenty of CASH on hand (ATM machines will be working overtime).

Still plan to be out and about during the festivities?  Check these sites for complete information about bridge closings, road closings, bus routes, pedestrian routes, openings, closings, etc.:

DC Government

Unofficial Guide to Inauguration 2009

Washington Post

U.S. Senate/House of Representatives

City of Alexandria

Alexandria Convention and Visitor Association

Looking for souvenirs, books, puzzles, even cookies to celebrate the inaugural?  Try Artfully Paper at 2007 Mt. Vernon Avenue or Barnes & Noble in the Potomac Yard Shopping Ctr., just two that I know about.

Finally, if you’re like us and think this is an event best celebrated in the company of others, join us from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00p.m. in front of the Jumbotron at Market Square in Old Town (310 King St.).

Thanks for stopping by,


Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently No Comments »

Washington, DC Number Two on List of Fourty-Four Must See Places in 2009

Washington, DC has been ranked as the number two spot on a list of fourty-four must see places for 2009 according to the New York Times.  Noted for the number of attractions and museums offered free of charge to the public, the “suddenly” lively restaurant scene was another factor in the ranking.

Click here to check out the other fourty-three spots.


Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 1 Comment »

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