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Archive for April, 2011

The 2011 Virginia Gold Cup Steeple Chase

The 86th running of the Virginia Gold Cup steeple chase will take place next Saturday, May 7, 2011, rain or shine.

VA Gold CupHorses will race, tailgaters will set up elaborate displays, beautiful women in hats worthy of Ascot will parade and Jack Russell Terrier’s will offer comic relief.

Bottom line, the Virginia Gold Cup is as much a social rite of spring as it is a sporting event.  Tickets went on sale in January and while many of the prime “see and be seen” spots are sold out there are still places available.

It’s an over the top experience and while you may only do it once (like I did), it will be a great conversation piece for months to come.

Ticket sales benefit the Great Meadow Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of Great Meadow’s open space for community access.

Virginia Amos
guest correspondent

Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 1 Comment »

What Precautions Should Partners Take When Buying Property Together?

This weekend in the Washington Post there was an excellent article on what precautions partners should take when buying property together.

A couple wants to buy a condominium together.  They also want to protect each others interest in the event that a tragedy should claim one of the partners.  Specifically, they want to ensure that the other partner gets the property with absolutely no claims considered by other family members.

GavelThese partners are wise to address the question before hand and to seek legal counsel.  While the District of Columbia recognizes same-sex marriage, Virginia and Maryland do not.  There are a number of questions to be considered and Washington lawyer Benny Kass helps put it into perspective.

If you and your partner are considering a purchase, take a moment to read this article and then give me a call at 703.927.4554.  I’ll help you find just the right place.

Michael

Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently No Comments »

Do You Know More About Buying a Car or Getting a Home Loan?

Rob Clark, our go-to mortgage guy, offered this tidbit in his weekly Mortgage Update:

“With the bruising the housing and mortgage industry have suffered over the last few years, you might think people would be extremely careful in understanding their home loans.

Mortgage CalculatorHowever, a recent survey by Zillow revealed that homebuyers in the last five years spent an average of five hours researching their new mortgage, while they typically spend ten hours researching a car purchase. Almost a third spent less than two hours understanding home loan options.”

Is this you? There are two things you need when getting ready to buy a house – a good real estate agent and a good mortgage broker.  Don’t short yourself on either one.

Michael

Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently No Comments »

Easter 2011 at Historic Christ Church in Old Town Alexandria

Following a week of cold, wet weather, Easter Sunday dawned clear and warm at Historic Christ Church in Old Town Alexandria.

The Wine Glass Pulpit at Christ Church

The Wine Glass Pulpit at Christ Church

Small baskets in the side windows

Small baskets in the side windows

Larger baskets in the Palladin windows flanking the pulpit

Larger baskets in the Palladin windows flanking the pulpit

And flowering trees and flowers everywhere in the church yard

And flowering trees and flowers everywhere in the church yard

Over a 1,000 visitors and congregation members attended four services beginning with the 7:30am.

Michael

Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently No Comments »

March 2011 Housing Prices in Zip Code 22314 – Old Town Alexandria and Potomac Greens

Today we are looking at the March 2011 Housing Prices in Zip Code 22314 which includes Old Town Alexandria and Potomac Green. (These numbers do not include condominium sales.)

The first thing that struck me about this chart was the consistency in the number of sales over a five year period.  Prices and days on the market have been up and down but the number of sales has held steady.

March

Zip Code 22301

No. of Homes Sold

Average  List

Price

Average Sold Price

Days on Market

Mar 2011

26

$668,228

$654,935

70

Mar 2010

25

$771,088

$695,396

67

Mar 2009

20

$517,472

$596,508

71

Mar 2008

20

$692,560

$670.345

94

Mar 2007

25

$787,704

$740,040

140

As always, each month’s sales are dependent on multiple factors including the amount of inventory, the number of priced-to-sell homes, the number of qualifying buyers, etc. etc.

For more information on properties in Old Town Alexandria, give me a call at 703.927.4554.

Michael

Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 1 Comment »

6 Do-It-Yourself Updates to Increase Your Home’s Value

Sometimes we run across another blog post that is sooooo good we just have to share it here.

Melissa Dittman Tracey recently did an article for REALTOR® magazine called “6 Do-It-Yourself Updates That Can Increase Home’s Value By More Than $10,000.”  And boy, is it spot on.X DollarSigns

Melissa got her information from HomeGain, an online real estate marketing resource.  HomeGain surveyed nearly 600 real estate professionals to creating a list of the top do-it-yourself home improvement projects that offer the biggest return for your buck.

1. Cleaning and decluttering: Remove any personal items, unclutter countertops, organize closets and shelves, and make the home sparkling clean.

Cost: $290  Estimated return: $1,990

2. Light and bright: Clean all windows inside and out, replace old curtains, update lighting fixtures, and remove anything that blocks light from the windows.

Cost: $375 cost  Estimated return: $1,550

3. Staging: Rearrange furniture, bring in new accessories and furnishings to enhance rooms, including artwork and playing soft music in the background.

Cost: $550 cost  Estimated return: $2,194

4. Landscaping: Punch up the home’s curb appeal in the front and backyards by adding bark mulch, bushes and flowers, and ensuring current plants and grass are well-cared for and manicured.  Cost: $540  Estimated return: $1,932

5. Repair electrical or plumbing: Repair any leaks under the bathroom or kitchen sinks, remove any mildew stains, and ensure all plumbing is in good working condition. Update the home’s electrical with new wiring for modern appliances, fix any lights or outlets that don’t work, and replace old plug points with new safety fixtures.

Cost: $535  Estimated return: $1,505

6. Replace or shampoo dirty carpets: Steam-clean carpets, replace any worn carpets, and repair any floor creaks.

Cost: $647  Estimated return: $1,739

So, what are you waiting for?  Get started on these 6 Do-It-Yourself Updates and then let’s put your home on the market.

Michael

Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 1 Comment »

March 2011 Housing Prices in Zip Code 22301 – Del Ray, Rosemont and Temple Hills

Today we are looking at the March 2011 Housing Prices in Zip Code 22310 which encompasses the Alexandria neighborhoods of Del Ray, Rosemont and Temple Hills.

We’re also taking a five year overview to get a larger sense of what the market is doing in our area.

As always, each month’s sales are dependent on multiple factors including the amount of inventory, the number of priced-to-sell homes, the number of qualifying buyers, etc. etc.

Zip Code 22301

No. of Homes Sold

Average  List

Price

Average Sold Price

Days on Market

Mar 2011

17

$674,800

$646,665

69

Mar 2010

4

$628,475

$614,150

33

Mar 2009

14

$719,336

$710,457

46

Mar 2008

8

$607,825

$686,363

128

Mar 2007

25

$683,744

$664,796

60


For more details and a free comparative analysis of your property, give me a call at 703.927.4554.

Michael

Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently No Comments »

FHA Mortgage Insurance Will Increase on April 18, 2011

FHA Mortgage insurance will increase by 25 basis points per year on April 18, 2011.  For instance, on a $200,000 loan, the increase will add $500 to the annual cost of home ownership for FHA borrowers.

successThe increase will apply to new purchases and refinances but existing homeowners will NOT be affected.

If you are currently in the market to buy however you can beat this increase if you act quickly.

No, you don’t have to sign a contract tomorrow.  Instead, you simply need to fill out a mortgage application and have your loan officer file for an FHA Case Number.

As long as you have a FHA Case Number assigned by April 18, 2011 you will not be subject to the increase.

Questions? Give me a call at 703.927.4554 and let’s see what we can work out.

Michael

Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 25 Comments »

Spring Plant Sales in Alexandria and Northern Virginia 2011

Whether you are getting your house ready to go on the market or just indulging in annual gardening rituals, now is the time to check out local plant sales in Alexandria and Northern Virginia.

In our backyard - and all from local plant sales

In our backyard - and all from local plant sales

Nurseries are wonderful but these smaller plant sales offer interesting varieties and specialties, especially with native plants.  It’s also a great chance for one on one advice about planting and cultivation and where to find other one-of-a-kind materials.

So get your calendar out, the next few Saturdays are going to be packed –

American Horticultural Society at River Farm
Friday, April 15, 9am – 6pm
Saturday, April 16, 9am – 6pm
Plants, garden supplies, garden art and related products

Friends of Carlyle House
Saturday, April 16, 8am – 4pm
Herbs, baked goods and gently used cookbooks

National Arboretum
Friday, April 29, 1pm – 4pm
Saturday, April 30, 9am – 4pm
Specimen plants, white flower plants and Zone 7b plants

Parkfairfax
Saturday, April 30, 9am -2pm
Native Plants

Happy digging,

Michael

Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently No Comments »

2011 Alexandria House and Garden Tour

The 2011 Alexandria House and Garden Tour is this Saturday, April 16th from 10:00am to 4:00pm.

Historic Garden Week is the oldest and largest statewide house and garden tour event in the nation.

Sponsored by The Garden Club of Virginia, the tours benefit the restoration of important historic grounds and gardens throughout the state.

Each of the three dozen events offers an engaging variety of five to six local houses and gardens, most open to the public for the first time for Garden Week.

Here is Alexandria, six private homes will be open to the public.  In addition, the Lee-Fendall House Museum and Garden; the Carlye House Historic Park; Mt. Vernon; the American Horticultural Society at River Farm; Woodlawn; and Gunston Hall Plantation are included in the full ticket price.

619 South Lee Street

619 South Lee Street

619 South Lee Street

Vowell-Snowden House

The original structure was built around 1800 by Thomas Vowell, Jr. and later purchased by Edward Snowden, owner and editor of the Alexandria Gazette and Mayor of Alexandria.  Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black took ownership of the house in 1979 and lived there until his death.  Features include expansive grounds with a two bedroom guest house, tennis courts, pool and a boxwood trimmed rose garden with a central fountain.  Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Saltonstall, owners.

420 South Fairfax Street

420 South Fairfax Street

420 South Fairfax Street

Built in 1856 and purchased by the current owners in 1980, this charming clapboard house combines European, American and Asian touches.  The original working fireplace and and heart of pine floors are a perfect backdrop to a spiral staircase and a collection of European maps and prints.  A Japanese inspired garden still leaves room for vegetables and herbs.  Mr. and Mrs. Jack Clopper, owners.

605 South Lee Street

605 South Lee Street

605 South Lee Street

When the Niepold family bought this 1880 structure in 1934 it was still without indoor plumbing and electricity.  Extensive renovations over a 40 year period included the addition of a den and kitchen and a beautiful fan light over the front door.  The current occupant is also an artist who maintains a studio on the third floor.  Siberian elms and perennial begonias flourish in the sun filled backyard.  Mrs. William S. Hickey, owner.

210 Wilkes Street

210 Wilkes Street

210 Wilkes Street

Built in the early 1800’s, the heirs of the original owners were were John W. and Julia Thompson Burke who repurchased the home in 1852 for their maiden daughter, Miss Fanny Burke.  When the house was sold in 1945 it changed from a Victorian to a Federal style exterior.  The interior features trompe loeil paintings, a Frederick Remington painting and Louis Comfort Tiffany gold art glass vases.  Mrs. Russell Murray, owner.

518 Duke Street

518 Duke Street

518 Duke Street

This Italian Renaissance style house was built in 1852 and is “characterized by a composite cornice and bracketing of the doorway, window architraves and cornice.”  Interior designer Craig Miller of Miller McCann International was instrumental in creating a comfortable house with historic significance.  An intimate garden and brick courtyard complete this impeccable home.  Mrs. Mary B. O’Conner, owner.

Garden Wall at 217 North Royal

Garden Wall at 217 North Royal

217 North Royal

Built by master carpenter James McGuire in 1796, he occupied the house until his death at the age of 76.  Subsequent owners used the Egyptian Revival style to update the house.  The current residents began renovations in 1997, keeping the front facade but returning the interior to the 1790’s.    The garden features cast iron fern benches, bronze statues and English boxwoods.  Mrs. Nathaniel D. Chapman II, owner.

What an incredible way to see the homes and gardens that make Old Town Alexandria so very special.

Michael

Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 2 Comments »

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