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Archive for April, 2009

Alexandria Hosts Three Day Celebration of Giving and Service with Gen. Colin Powell

Starting tonight (April 30) with a gala benefit at the Birchmere (one of our favorite places), Alexandria will host a three day celebration of giving and service. Sponsored jointly by Volunteer Alexandria, the City of Alexandria, ACT for Alexandria and Kids Helping Kids, the celebration focuses on the long tradition of giving back in our community.

There are specific events for each day but the anticipated high point is the key note address by General Colin L. Powell, USA (retired) at the 11th Annual Business Philanthropy Summit on Saturday morning at the First Baptist Church.

General Powell is a life long advocate of community service and has a special interest in service that affects the lives of children.

Tickets are still available for all events, so don’t miss out on this exciting schedule:

For more information and to purchase tickets for the breakfast with General Powell, click here.

Be part of the community! Join us this weekend and continue the tradition of giving back to the place where we work, play and live.

Michael

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March 09 Home Sales In Alexandria Zip Code 22314 Are Up But Prices Are Down

In what we are seeing in almost all areas of Alexandria, home sales in 2009 are up over 2008 sales but prices are down.  This snapshot of Alexandria zip code 22314 – which includes Old Town Alexandria – shows an increase in sales from 25 listings in March 08 to 36 listings in March 09.

The average list price decreased by 16% while the the average sold price declined by 14%.  Of those 36 listings however, 10 sold for the list price or higher, reinforcing the effectiveness of a properly priced listing.

It’s a hard reality, but the market is adjusting itself to the skyrocketing prices that we all knew 10 years ago.  The good news?  It’s a great market for first time buyers, especially with consistently  low interest rates and first time buyer tax credits.

Please note that the listings below include condominiums as well as townhouses and single family homes.

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

Michael

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Arlington Townhouse Living is Perfect for New College Grads, Military, Couples

This close in Arlington townhouse is perfect for new college grads, military, couples or small families.  Located on convenient Columbia Pike, the  three bedrooms, two and half baths are complimented by a 400 sq, ft. family/recreation room on the lower level along with a bonus sitting/office area.

Bus lines directly in front offer transportation to the Pentagon Metro, downtown and Crystal City.  Interested?  Click here for more information and then give me a call to see this great rental opportunity.

Michael

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Potomac Yard Development Expands with New Fire Station and Sewage Pumping Station

The long planned mixed use development of Potomac Yard is well underway.  The first building, now in the final phases of construction, will house, among other things, a new fire station that will serve the Del Ray area and replace the current, historic station on East Windsor.

Planning documents from the city offer this additional information about the building, a cornerstone of this massive development (square footage is approximate):

The report goes on to say ” In a manner similar to City Hall’s function in the heart of Old Town, the proposed fire station building will have an open space and plaza area setback from Main Street, meeting rooms for the community, and a tower all of which enhances its role as a prominent civic building. The building will mix the City functions, bringing fire personnel to Main Street and Potomac Yard, and surrounding the fire protection function with housing, shops and neighborhood open spaces.”

The main entrance to the building, the retail shops and the tower face are on the side facing into the development (Main St.) rather than Rt. 1.

To read the full report and see architectural drawings, click here.

Another, less glamorous, addition to the space is a sewage pumping station  that will take on major significance once the development is finished.  Thanks to strong architectural considerations, the station is traditional in design and will ultimately fade into the background.

One of the major thorough fares into the development is Potomac Street at the foot of the new Monroe St. Bridge.  Currently a work in progress, it will eventually be accessed with its own turn lane and traffic light.

In the meantime parts of the open space continue to house non-stop weekend soccer games for young and old alike as well as a rental car maintenance facility.

It will be years before Potomac Yard is fully developed and utilized but it’s off to a good start.  As a Realtor who is always looking at property values and great housing opportunities, believe me, I have my eye on this one.

Want to know more about what’s selling in this area?  Give me a call at 703.927.4554 and let’s take a look.

Michael

Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 26 Comments »

Home Repair Scam Artists Target Elderly in Northern Virginia

Several months ago I listed a house for a client who lives just a few blocks away.  It was actually her elderly mother who lived alone in the house and the family had decided it was time for her to move to southern Virginia where she would be closer to her children.  One of the things that prompted this move was a home repair scam that left the mother $60,000 poorer, angry and exceedingly frustrated.

An article in today’s Washington Post reminded me just how vulnerable elderly home owners are when it comes to unscrupulous individuals.

Police call them ‘woodchucks’  – men who cruise older established neighborhoods in Northern Virginia, looking for elderly women who live alone and can be easily manipulated or intimidated.  What are they looking for specifically?  Neighborhoods with big trees, fewer children, slightly run down houses; older sedans like Cadillacs or Crown Victoria’s with handicapped tags or stickers; no SUV’s or child seats.

The scam can often begin with a legitimate job at an outrageous price or it can be work performed in a location that the elderly target cannot get to – like a roof or gutters.  If the homeowner cannot actually confirm that the work has been done then they are at the mercy of the ‘woodchucks’ who might return under the pretense of additional repairs.

Adding to the dilemma is the fact that the victims might not remember how much money they agreed to or how much they have already paid out. Tack on embarrassment and fear of retribution and many of these crimes go unreported.

Police in Northern Virginia are beginning to target these scammers and one accused crew leader pleaded guilty in Fairfax Circuit Court last week.  For more about these scams and what to look for, click here.

In the meantime, be a good neighbor and keep your eyes open.

Michael

Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 6 Comments »

Alexandria’s Biggest Charity Flea Market Benefits Mt. Vernon Community School PTA

Looking for something to do this Saturday?  Can’t resist a flea market?  Can’t resist a bargin?  Well, look no further than Alexandria’s MV BIG FLEA. 

Alexandria’s biggest charity flea market, the MV BIG FLEA is organized by and supports the Mt. Vernon Community School PTA.  Located in the heart of Del Ray, this annual event raises more than $25,000 for PTA projects.  Parents and school supporters have been collecting donations for weeks and from all indications, it will be the biggest flea market yet.

Be on the watch for furniture, household items, kids stuff, electronics and much much more.

Early admission begins at 8 a.m. and costs $10. Regular (free) admission begins at 9 a.m.  Everything left over after 2:00 p.m. is FREE.  And if the FLEA doesn’t fill your every need, make sure to visit the Duncan Library Book Sale held next door.

And, of course, there’s always the Del Ray Farmers Market to top things off.  For more on the MV BIG FLEA, click here.

Want to know more about living in this great market?  Call me at 703.927.4554 and let’s look at property.

See you Saturday!

Michael

Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 3 Comments »

Celebrating Earth Day in Alexandria

Today is Earth Day and I thought I would do a quick recap of how we have celebrated “green” in the past few months.  Click on any of these stories for a an idea or two  . . .

And if you ‘re in the area, stop by the Coldwell Banker office at 310 King St. for free goodies!  In the meantime, I’ll be passing out over 50 reusable bags on my block in Del Ray.

Michael

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2009 Alexandria House and Garden Tour

Saturday, April 18, promises to be a perfect spring day for the 2009 Alexandria House and Garden Tour.  Eight Old Town buildings are featured on the tour.  Six are private homes, one is a historic church and one is home to the Virginia Fine Arts Association.

207 N. Fairfax St. was built in 1749 by John Dalton on the first lot auctioned in Alexandria.  The house, complete with wharf, was situated on the river’s original bank (now Lee St.)  A foxhunter and horse lover, Dalton hunted with George Washington and bred his mares to the Mt. Vernon stock.

Washington often stayed with the Daltons when he was in Alexandria on business. The Dalton house literally fell into the cracks of history, underwent numerous changes and when purchased by the current owners  in 1980, was a crumbling shell surrounding six very small apartments.  The house has been handsomely restored and features spacious lawn and terrace areas and rooms and anterooms for two gardeners. Mr. and Mrs. Temple C. Moore, Jr. owners.

210 Prince St. is known as the Michael Swope House after its first owner, a Revolutionary War hero. Built between 1784-1786, the Georgian brick house features a gable roof with dormers, a modillion and fret cornice and a hand-carved pediment Doric doorway.

Inside the house retains random-width pine floors, some original paneled wainscoting, dentil crown moldings, chair rails, cupboards and 12ft. ceilings.  Completely restored by the current owners, Mr. and Mrs. Donald Rocen, the garden has two fountains, a small outdoor kitchen and a variety of plantings including ferns, a trellised magnolia, boxwood and clematis.

426 South Lee St. is a frame house constructed prior to 1789 and was the parsonage for the Free Methodist Church at 424 S. Lee St.  Wider than many houses from that period, the structure has four “bays” rather than three.

A sun room addition was added in 1988, replacing the original back porch and a guest room. A flight of steps leads from this room to the walled garden and a slate-floored garden room that doubles as a hothouse for potted plants in the winter.  Mr. and Mrs. Walter Vance Hall, owners.

510 South Fairfax St., a Federal townhouse built in 1804, has been home to its current owners for more than 25 years. The restoration, renovation and the last of seven additions were designed by the homeowner and his firm, Robert Bentley Adams and Associates.

 

Features include a library, music room, second kitchen and eclectic furnishings from Mrs. Adams home in Switzerland.  The garden combines classical elements with raised beds reminiscent of New England gardens.  Mr. and Mrs. Robert Bentley Adams, owners.

513 South Fairfax St. is an early 19th century brick Federal-style residence that was redesigned and renovated by neighbor and architect Robert Bentley Adams.  The interior has been opened with classical pilasters and new lintels and crown moldings are based on local precedent.

 

Restricted by local zoning from locating a window on the side wall, a bump out was added to a rear facing wall to bring more light into the space.  The rear garden was designed with serpentine planters fitted around trees that were carefully preserved during construction.  Kevin Schulman and Michelle Hicks, owners

307 South St. Asaph St. was built in 1854 by Benjamin Shreve and purchased by Richard Huck in 1854.  Federal authorities seized the building in 1862 to house federal soldiers and escaped slaves.  A fire swept the building later that year and it was sold at public auction in 1864.

 

In 1998 the front of the house was restored to the Neo-Classical style after extensive research from the Valentine Museum in Richmond.  The front entry features a 300lb mahogany door topped by a custom-made window transom.  The limestone steps and surround were handcarved by Patrick Plunkett  and limestone urns were specially carved to flank the entrance.

210 Prince St. is situated at the top of the cobblestone street known as Captain’s Row.  A glorious example of Greek Revival architecture in the Neo-Classical style, the Athenaeum features fluted Doric cloumns, a coved ceiling and towering windows with a walled garden in the rear.

Originally built in 1852 to be the Bank of the Old Dominion, the building was taken over by Union troops and used as a comissary and hospital.  Leadbetter and Sons, a wholesale and retail pharmacy, occupied the building from 1907 to 1925 and then became the first Free Methodist Church of North America.  The building sat vacant through the 1950’s and was bought in 1964 by the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Commission.

228 South Pitt St. is home to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.  The building, whose exterior remains essentially the same, was erected in 1817-1818 and designed by Benjamin Harry Latrobe, sometime Chief Architect of the U.S. Capitol. In 1906 the east wall was partially removed to allow for the addition of a new, recessed chancel.

 

A few of the original pew boxes attached to the east wall were removed to facilitate access to the widened chancel entrance but the remaining pews are as they were constructed in 1818.  A luminous round Catherine wheel window was added in 1872.

Historic Garden Week is the oldest and largest statewide house and garden tour event in the nation. Sponsored by The Garden Club of Virginia, tours benefit the restoration of important historic grounds and gardens throughout the state. The event offers an engaging variety of local houses and gardens, most open to the public for the first time for Garden Week.

Enjoy!

Michael

Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 4 Comments »

Home Sales in Alexandria’s 22301 Zip Code Jump in March 2009

Home sales in Alexandria’s 22301 zip code almost doubled from March 2008 to March 2009 with a jump from 9 sales to 15, an increase of 66%.

In what we think is an accurate reflection of sellers coming to terms with appropriate listing prices and buyers taking advantage of low interest rates and competitive prices, homes in the 22301 zip code spent an average of only 55 days on the market in March 2009 as compared with 114 days in March 2008.  In fact, as you look at the chart below, you will notice that only 3 homes stayed on the market longer than 50 days.

At the same time, the average list price was down 9% from $684,622 to $618,373 and the average sold price was down 9.1% from $609,753 to $667,211.

If you’ve been dreaming about a house in the ‘close-in’ neighborhoods of 22301, let’s make that dream a reality.  Give me a call at 703.927.4554 and we’ll make it happen.

Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 1 Comment »

Phase One of Fannie Mae’s Home Affordable Refinance Program is Under Way

Lenders got phase one of Fannie Mae’s Home Affordable Refinance Program (HASP) under way last week.  HASP’s objective is to reduce the number of additional foreclosures in the United States.  Freddie Mac has a similar program called the Relief Refinance Mortgage. Phase One highlights:

In other mortgage news, conforming plus loans are still only being done at a maximum loan amount of $625,500 but should be increasing to $729,750 in the very near future.  And finally, rate updates this week for 30 yr. fixed loans:

To see my complete report, click here.

Rob Clark, Preferred Mortgage

 Thanks Rob, for this timely information.

 

Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 27 Comments »

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