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Archive for August, 2010

Planting Trees with the City of Alexandria

Are you new to the City of Alexandria?  Did your street lose trees during the August 5th storm?  Do you just want more trees on your block?

John NoelleThe you need to meet John NoelleJohn is the arborist for the City of Alexandria and is in charge of planting trees throughout the city.

Of course he’s responsible for a lot more than just planting trees but it’s a good place to start.

We met John last night at a gathering of neighbors in Del Ray.  Fox Vernon, local musician and blogger, organized the meeting and arranged for John to be with us.

There were several things we learned:

If you would like to know more about planting trees with the City of Alexandria, contact John online at the City of Alexandria Website or at his office, 703.746.5499.


Related stories:

17,000 Trees Damaged in Alexandria from Freak Thunderstorm

Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently No Comments »

Taste of Del Ray at First Thursday, Sept. 2, 2010

You’ve heard about all the great little eateries in Del Ray. You’ve promised to visit at least a thousand times.  But nothing has happened.  What to do?  What to do?

delraybannerNo problem.  Join us for Taste of Del Ray at First Thursday, Sept. 2, 2010.  This is the last First Thursday for 2010 and looks like it is going to be a doozy.

Eateries up and down Mt. Vernon Avenue will pitch their tents in the parking lot directly behind Virginia Commerce Bank from 6-9 pm.  (This is where folks park for the Del Ray Farmers Market.)

These updates just in:

Participating restaurants include:

Seriously, no more excuses. Why even think about going anywhere else for dinner?

We’ll see you at Taste of Del Ray at First Thursday, Sept. 2, 2010.


Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently No Comments »

Why A Senior Real Estate Specialist is Important in Today’s Market

On Saturday we celebrated my mother-in-law’s 92nd birthday.  She uses a walker now – thanks to a recent broken hip – but she still manages her own affairs, plays bridge (including duplicate), gardens, and dotes on her cat, Muffin.

She is also the reason I decided to become certified as a Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES) and why it is important in today’s market.

Five years ago my mother-in-law decided to sell her house in
Florida and move to Goodwin House here in Alexandria.

She made the decision on her own time but very quickly and left little time for preparation. I found her a competent agent in Florida and her house sold within two weeks. We were very lucky.

But not everyone is.   Just going through the process with her and remembering what my own parents had endured long before I became an
agent, I decided that I would take the time to learn just what a Senior Residential Specialist can offer.

Consider this: my in-laws were products of the great depression and
did not believe in credit.  During their lifetime they built three different houses in three different states and they NEVER, EVER had a mortgage.

It was all done with cash and a handshake.  They probably never even used a real estate agent but simply bought their land directly from the owner – with cash and a handshake.

Just think how strange today’s transactions must have seemed to my mother-in-law.

SRES agents understand that this extreme downsizing is often done under duress or when the homeowner is not in the best of health, physically or mentally.  It may occur after the death of a spouse or partner with whom the client has shared a lifetime.  It may mean leaving friends and moving to another city or state.   Each of these components is difficult and taken together it is almost a tsunami.

SRES agents learn that a “team” approach is often helpful.  If needed, I will put together a team to include a social worker, health  care provider, investment counselor, family member, estate sale/moving  specialist, etc. etc.  Some of the members, like a health care provider and investment counselor, may have already worked with my client for years, but having everyone working together can make a huge difference.

SRES agents learn that patience is key.  Terms and conditions need to be explained and then explained again.  The client may ask the same question every day for weeks.  Patience.

SRES agents learn about communication.  And for me, this – and patience – are key.  In two recent listings I have done for senior clients, neither had computers, fax machines, or cell phones. One did not even have an answering machine.

Because of that, most of our conversations were face to face and I had to hand deliver documents.  It was definitely a change from the way I normally do business but you know what?  I kind of liked it!  Old-fashioned, simple communication at its best.

SRES agents are often the voice of reason between family members.  A SRES agent is a neutral entity, working in the best interests of his/her client.  It is a local SRES agent who understands the market and knows that pricing is key for today’s buyers, especially if the home is in need of repairs or has not been updated.

Can I help you or someone you know make the move of a lifetime? I understand why a Senior Real Estate Specialist is important in today’s market.

Call me at 703.927.4554 or email at [email protected]


Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently No Comments »

Late Summer Flowers in Old Town Alexandria

Potato Vine

Potato Vine

The 100 block of North Columbus Street in Old Town Alexandria is awash in the color of late summer flowers.



A Riot of Color

A Riot of Color

Home to private residences, a spa and an antique store, there is a pride of place, a calm, a sense of the what lies behind the closed door.


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Getting Organized – The Hall Closet

A week or so ago we ran a post about getting organized – family photographs.  Today we are going to talk about getting organized – the hall closet.

According to uber closet organizer Alison Lukes Teer, the hall closet is “the junk drawer of closets.  Because your hall closet is used every day. . . it tends to gather a lot of random junk.”  Teer goes on to say that a hall closet is valuable real estate and should contain only things you are using right now.


  1. Use products to increase storage.  Hanging pocket organizers, hooks, clear plastic boxes, etc.
  2. Use matching wooden hangers for everything and keep several empty ones available for visitors.
  3. Mark your calendar to empty and sort twice a year.  Clear out the winter accessories in late spring and then pack up summer about mid September.

Our hall closet doesn’t get much use in the summer but the winter is another story.  So maybe if I get started now . . .

Don’t have a hall closet?  Call me at 703.927.4554 and let’s go find one for you.


Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently No Comments »

Moon Over Alexandria

Moon Over Alexandria

Moon Over Alexandria

We were out visiting friends and as we headed home from Vienna this brilliant moon lead the way.

A photograph doesn’t even begin to do it justice.


Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently No Comments »

Del Merei Grill First to Close with Redevelopment of the Calvert

The City of Alexandria is expected to release a highly anticipated proposal this week supporting the redevelopment of the Calvert in Arlandria.

The Del Merei Grill has already announced that they will be the first business to close in conjunction with the redevelopment.

The Calvert is located near the corner of West Glebe Road and directly across from the newly opened Del Ray Central Apartments.

X Calvert Shop signA linchpin between the neighborhoods of Del Ray and Arlandria, the redevelopment of the Calvert comes as Arlandria is beginning to stake it’s own identity with a neighborhood centric blog and new Farmers Market.

According to Duncan Blair, attorney for the Calvert’s owner, United Dominion Realty (UDR), This development will take a building that contributes very little to it’s immediate environs and create an active streetscape . . . . it’s energy in the community.”

All residential tenants in the Calvert are on year-to-year leases and UDR expects the building to be completely empty by 2012.  The commercial tenants have all signed a confidentiality agreement and are not at liberty to discuss current negotiations.

Mary Reid, co-owner of the Del Merei Grill with her brother Eric, choose to leave early noting “It’s better to be the first one out.”

The City of Alexandria Planning Commission will consider the Calvert Proposal at their September meeting.


Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently No Comments »

An Afternoon at the Hard Times Cafe in Old Town Alexandria

Monday was a beautiful day here in Alexandria.  A nice breeze, low humidity and temperatures that made you want to be outside every minute.
X Hard Times SignI happened to notice this trio sitting outside at the Hard Times Cafe in Old Town Alexandria and couldn’t help but stop for a picture.  And oh did I wish I could join them

X McElroyThis is the McElroy family from Austin, TX – visiting, relaxing, taking in the sights and smart enough to know that the Hard Times Cafe is a local favorite.

Come back and see us again –


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It’s Bulldogs, Hokies and the Crimson Tide on North Payton Street in Old Town Alexandria

This afternoon I was out checking on a listing in Old Town Alexandria when I noticed a row of townhouses on North Payton Street.

X Tech and Alabama

There, separated by only one house, were flags for The University of Georgia, Virginia Tech and the University of Alabama.

Bulldogs!  Hokies!  Crimson Tide!

X Georgia

My guess is that a lot of football gets watched here on the weekends.  I’m thinking I may have to do some door to door prospecting  . . .


X Bulldog

Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 5 Comments »

Bed Bugs Are No Laughing Matter

I’m sure many of us think of bed bugs as something from the past (like good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite) or something that only happened in “those” kind of places or to other people.

Unfortunately none of that is true and bed bugs are no laughing matter.

In fact, the United States is experiencing an unheralded infestation of bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) with reporting up 5000% in the past year.  Shortly after WWII, bed bugs were almost universally eradicated with DDT.  But now that DDT has fallen out of use as a toxic agent, bed bugs are back with a vengeance.

Entire office buildings (the Time Warner Center), residential buildings, retail stores (Abercrombie & Fitch, Victoria’s Secret), movie theaters (AMC’s Empire 25), in New York City have been invaded and reports are coming in from all around the country.

X bed bugIn fact, just this week, bed bugs have been the subject of two New York Times articles and a series on National Public Radio.

According to the Harvard School of Public Health, “Bed bugs are small wingless insects that feed solely upon the blood of warm-blooded animals.”

  • Bed bugs are not socio-economically oriented
  • Bed bugs are not hygiene related
  • Bed bugs like to hide in the dark – particularly under furniture, in your mattress, and in any cracks or crevice
  • Bed bugs are “hitchhikers” – they like to travel with you.

Kinda of scary isn’t it?

How can you tell if you have bed bugs?

  • Because bed bugs are small (like an apple seed) and are active only at night, the first indication may be bites that occur while sleeping.  The bites are usually in a pattern of three and leave big, bumpy welts.
  • Look for dark brown/reddish fecal spots on mattresses, mattress covers, other bed linens on walls near the bed.
  • In some heavily infested areas a coriander like odor may be present.

What do you do if you have bed bugs?

First, don’t panic. Second, try and find a specimen (crack and crevices are your best bet) and have it tested. Third, read everything you can and develop a plan from there.  Both the Harvard School of Public Health and Medicine.Net are excellent resources.

As a real estate agent I would tell you that bed bugs are no laughing matter. Just because a property looks clean doesn’t mean that it is free of infestation.

Bed bugs can survive for months without ‘feeding’, just waiting for someone new to take up residence.

Whether you are a renter, a buyer, a seller or a landlord, consider the steps you need to take to insure that your property is properly maintained and bed bug free.

Bed bugs really are no laughing matter.


Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 2 Comments »

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