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Archive for May, 2011

Do’s and Don’ts for Open Houses

Open Houses are a dream come true for prospective buyers.  You can look at different style homes in different neighborhoods, dream about renovations and generally broaden your idea about the kind of home you really want.

open-houseAt the same time, you can become frustrated – and waste gas – if you’re not careful.  So let’s take a look at a few do’s and don’ts for open houses:



And my best piece of advice? Work with a buyer’s agent.  A buyer’s agent will protect YOUR interest – not the owners.

Want to know more about why a buyer’s agent is important and what I can do for you?

Call me at 703.927.4554 and let’s talk houses.

Michael

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Rolling Thunder Honors Veterans in 24th Annual “Ride to the Wall”

Today, as on 23 previous Memorial Day weekends, literally hundreds of thousands of motorcyclists honored veterans of all generations with their “Ride to the Wall” as a part of the Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally in Washington, DC.

Gathering under a cloudless blue sky in the Pentagon parking lot, the ride moved north past the Lincoln Memorial, up Constitution towards the Capitol and back down Independence, to the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial, or as most veterans know it, The Wall.

Started in 1987 by Ray Manzo, a USMC corporal who wanted to do something to bring attention to military personnel still classified as Prisoners of War (POW) or Missing in Action (MIA) in the Vietnam conflict, the rally has grown into a Memorial Day tradition as well as a political force for veteran benefits.

In recent years it has become a place of welcome and refuge for veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraqi conflicts.

Riders – men, women, and children – travel from around the world and from all 50 states to pay tribute those who have died in service to their country.

Rather than diminishing over the years as some early detractors hoped, this annual statement of support simply continues to grow.

Roll on . . .

Michael

Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 1 Comment »

2011 Flags In at Arlington National Cemtery Marks Beginning of Memorial Day Weekend

From May 2010 – the faces may be different each year but the pride, honor and service never change.

Today, amidst heat and humidity and flying insects, some 1500+ soldiers from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment joined forces at Arlington National Cemetery for a mission of utmost importance:

to place an American flag on each and every grave site, leaving no soldier forgotten.

Regardless of rank or length of service or duty station, each soldier buried at Arlington is remembered and honored on Memorial Day for Duty, Honor, Country.

Begun in 1948, the Flags In ceremony traditionally marks the beginning of Memorial Day activities at Arlington and in the Washington, DC area.

The 3rd Infantry Regiment, fondly know as the “Old Guard”, was designated as the Army’s official ceremonial unit in 1948.  That same year, non-commissioned officers began the practice of placing flags at each grave site on Memorial Day.

Old Guard members also guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, escort deceased service members to their final resting place at Arlington and serve in regular billets around the world.

Still lead and coordinated by 3rd Regiment NCO’s, the soldiers were joined today by representatives from the Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force and Marine honor guard units.

Command Sergeant Major David Martel noted that it would take his soldiers about 3 hours to place over 250,000 flags.

With due reverence, each flag is centered approximately 12 inches in front of the grave.  Because soldiers use their individual foot gear as a measure, a single service member begins and completes one row in a section to insure uniformity.

The flags will stay in place through Monday, May 31th but will be removed before the cemetery opens on Tuesday, June 1.

I am proud to have served as a member of the Old Guard and proud that my father’s grave bears one of those flags.  Ten-hut!
Michael

Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 3 Comments »

52nd Annual Hunt Country Stable Tour in Northern Virginia on May 28, 29, 2011

This weekend marks the 52nd Annual Hunt Country Stable Tour.  Country estates, stables, training facilities and gardens are open to the public in the bucolic Northern Virginia horse country that is Middleburg and Upperville.

Sponsored by Trinity Episcopal Church Upperville, the tour offers a look into a rarefied world of thoroughbred race horses.  This is a self-driven trip and makes for a lovely, leisurely day.  You can spend as much time at each location as you choose and, from past experience, the crowds are always manageable.

Mill Reef at Rokeby Farms

Mill Reef at Rokeby Farms

Rokeby Farms, the home of Paul Mellon, is a standout.  The individual stables are as large as some one bedroom apartments and the setting is without peer.  Altogether there are some 13 locations on the tour.

Lunch is available at Trinity Church or you can pack your own and snack along the way.  Either way, it’s a great way to spend a holiday weekend.

Enjoy –

Michael

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10 Questions to Ask If You are Thinking about Buying a Condominium or Townhouse

Condominiums and/or townhouse communities are very attractive for first time buyers.  It is often a smaller property and there are association rules that contribute to the well being and maintenance of the property.

Old Town Greens

Old Town Greens

Still, if you are thinking about buying a condominium or buying in a townhouse community, find at least 3 residents and ask these 10 questions:

  1. Do own the property or rent?
  2. How long have you lived here?
  3. What do you like best about the community?
  4. What do you like least?
  5. Is the management company doing a good job?
  6. Is there an active home owners association?
  7. Do you attend the meetings?
  8. Do you think the board is doing a good job?
  9. What do homeowner dues cover and how often are they increased?
  10. Can you hear your neighbors?

Want to know more about buying a condominium or townhouse in Alexandria?

Give me a call at 703.927.4554 and let’s talk.

Michael

Related Stories:

5 Questions to Ask Before Writing a Contract on a Condominum

10 Questions to Ask When Deciding to Purchase a Condominium

Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 1 Comment »

Falcon Roofing – A Recommendation

We’ve been tackling some long over due home improvements in the past few weeks.  First on the agenda was the roof.

The roof line

The roof line

For several years we relied on our neighbor, a “home improvement contractor” to check the shingles and patch bad areas when necessary.  After all, our townhouses shared a roof line and we had a mutual interest in maintaining the property.  Right?  WRONG!

Our neighbor used asphalt instead of replacing shingles for this patch

Our neighbor used asphalt instead of replacing shingles for this patch

Very simply, our neighbor/contractor took shortcuts, used inferior materials and was inept.  (And yes, he is no longer our neighbor.)

Bad roof

Bad roof

Fortunately, through the reliable recommendations on our neighborhood list serv we found Glen Schrank of Falcon Roofing.

Glen has worked in the Beverley Hills/Rosemont/Del Ray area for over 30 years.  No Web site, no blog, no ads – just good strong neighbor to neighbor recommendations year after year.

What a roof should look like

What a roof should look like

They took “before” pictures to accompany the estimate – an essential tip that I am passing on to all my clients.

Overall it was a terrific experience.  Falcon Roofing takes great pride in their work and we are happy to recommend them.

It’s a good day in the neighborhood –

Michael

Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 2 Comments »

Your Credit Score – It Matters!

Your Credit Score – It Matters!  Whether you already 0won a home or are just starting to look for that special house, your credit rating should be as healthy as possible.

Credit ScoreHere are a few simple things you can do on your own:

Michael

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Real Estate Word of the Day – Abnormal Sale

Real Estate Word of the Day

Abnormal Sale – An abnormal sale is one that does not represent a typical real estate transaction.  It may be the result of a parent selling to a child or sibling or it perhaps it reflects the terms of the owner’s will.

Example:  A real estate appraiser discovers the sale of a house for $200,000 in a neighborhood where the normal price is $300,000.  The appraiser does not use it as a comparable because the conditions requisite for market value were not present in this abnormal sale.*

Michael

*Dictionary of Real Estate Terms

Posted by Michael Bergin | Currently 1 Comment »

What is the Difference Between a Prequalified Loan and a PreApproved Loan?

One of the first things I ask when starting to work with new buyers is “are you preapproved for a loan”?   Let’s look at why it’s important to answer YES.

What is the difference between a prequalified loan and a preapproved loan?

Mortgage CalculatorBeing “prequalified” means you have talked to a lender or used an online calculator on a lender’s Web site; given your income and listed your debts; and asked for the lender’s opinion on what you can afford.  The lender then gives you price range in which you should look.  This simple formula means you are prequalified but the lender has not verified or approved any loan.

Conversely, being “preapproved” means you will meet with a lender and complete the following:

The preapproval letter is a crucial part of a contract offer.  It says you are serious, that there is money ready for the closing table and that the deal can close quickly.

Are YOU preapproved?  Or are you just starting the process?  Give me a call at 703.927.4554 and we’ll work through this together.

Michael

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Getting a Loan Committment

Getting a loan commitment is one of the most important steps you will take in buying a house.  It involves assembling a number of financial and legal documents which will help you – and your lender – find the best loan for your circumstances.

Mortgage CalculatorThe mortgage industry debacle of the past few years has made for stricter guidelines and having all this information in place will be to your benefit:

Excellent!  Now, put together a list of mortgage lenders.  Ask your friends, neighbors, co-workers or a real estate agent.

Tomorrow we’ll talk about what you want to do next when getting your loan commitment.

Michael

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