BBZ Group

Historic Homes: Is ‘Owning Old’ Right for You?

Posted On November 21st, 2014 by BBZ Group | No Comments

Living and working as Realtor in an historic city like Alexandria, VA, it is not unusual that a prospective purchaser will say: “Wouldn’t it be fun to live in one of these old houses?” Yes indeed, but there are a few things to keep in mind when considering the purchase of an antique house:

buying historic homesAge, the very thing that adds grace and charm to these appealing old houses usually means additional maintenance and creative thinking are required.  In a one-size-fits all world, it is a safe bet that your 200-year-old house will require a special or custom made (fill-in-the blank).   Fortunately, there are a host of local contractors, architects and tradespeople who specialize in the needs associated with historic properties.  Many have provided service for decades. With reasonable and regular maintenance, it is not unusual for the old houses to hold up very well.  The argument can be made that the earlier construction was built to last longer with more durable materials than today’s newer structures.

The words “charm” and “perfect” rarely belong in the same sentence when describing historic property. It is important for buyers to keep this in mind during the search for an antique house. Old wood floors frequently have a crack, gap or a bit of a tilt–and on many occasions they have all three.  Period windows are not known for their efficiency nor their durability. Old brickwork will need repointing and wood framed exteriors need constant paint and spackle. Cupboards are small and closets are modest.  If a master bedroom suite with spa bath and twin walk-in closets is a high priority, historic may not be the best option.  Garages are rarer still and almost never accommodate an oversized SUV.  That said, there are nearly limitless storage options and design solutions as well as lifestyle trends toward living with less stuff.

Just because old houses have fewer closets does not mean they have larger rooms. To that end, many of today’s ready-made furniture is designed for more modern larger spaces. That over-sized sofa or sectional you bought for your great room may dwarf your future 18th Century parlor–that is of course, if you can get it through the front door.  And on a related note, if your first impression is that the house would be so much better with an addition, you might want to think again. Do you like to show your sense of whimsy on your house’s façade? Our city’s zoning office and board of architectural review have authority over size and exterior changes to properties located in the historic district. Bold changes are not encouraged. Though the rules may seem onerous, the historic district of Alexandria, as well as similar areas in Annapolis, Fredricksburg, and Georgetown, continues to be an appealing place to live, in large part due to the respect given for maintaining compatible neighborhood architecture.

For a number of our buyers, these drawbacks are minor and are far outweighed by the unique and personal connection they feel when they live with history. Many enjoy finding the solutions to the puzzle of leading a modern life in an antique space. And for some, small spaces mean fewer things and less unnecessary clutter. Not to mention the added convenience and quality of life improvements that come from living in these walkable historic communities like ours.

The bottom line for buyers considering a move to an old home is that, yes, living with history is wonderful. And, in the case of Old Town Alexandria, they understand that they are also buying part of a community that maintains a commitment to maintaining its charm and honoring its architectural heritage. For many of us, the uniqueness of each home, the quality of the old construction and the story inherent in each house adds a charm that can’t be matched with new construction.

If you think you are ready to consider a move to a historic home, contact us at bbzgroup@mcenearney.com.

 

We Are Thankful

Posted On November 20th, 2014 by Thomas Hallex | No Comments

Autumn Fruit

As we enter the season of thanks and giving, we want to begin by expressing gratitude
to our communities who trust McEnearney Associates with their business and to those
who have invited us into their homes. Each day, we work diligently to meet the needs of
our clients to ensure a successful experience, whether you are purchasing your dream
home or simply in need of a seamless transition.

In memory of our late founder and chairman, John McEnearney, an admired and
generous man whose dedication and determination built the reputable firm we know and
appreciate today, we remain committed to providing world-class real estate services to
our associates, clients, and to the communities we serve. Proudly named McEnearney
Associates, the firm was built of like-minded professionals where everyone is a member
of the family. John will certainly be missed, and we will continue his legacy committed to
the same principals and values on which the company was founded.

Our commitment is to you, and as a family we work together in pursuit of your
satisfaction. May this month bring you and your loved ones many blessings and
memories as you begin the holiday season, mindful of your value here at McEnearney
Associates.

-Maureen McEnearney Dunn
President, McEnearney Associates

 
David Howell

Can We Beat 2013′s Market

Posted On November 19th, 2014 by David Howell | No Comments

Histogram With Gaussian Distribution On Blackboard

2014 Wasn’t As Strong as 2013 for Most of the Region; 2015 Won’t Be Much Better

The significant differences in the real estate market among the various jurisdictions in the Washington, DC Metro area were more evident than usual in 2014, and we anticipate more of the same in 2015.

We look at new contract activity as the most important indicator of the direction of the market, and the general slowdown in 2014 actually started in October 2013 for the Northern Virginia suburbs and December 2013 for the District and Montgomery County. However, the slowdown never came to Prince George’s County. Although we still have a couple of months left, it looks as though Northern Virginia and Loudoun County will see a drop of about 10% in the number of new contracts, Montgomery County will be off by 5% and the District will only be down about 1%. Prince George’s County is the big winner in 2014, with an increase of 4% over last year.

Why are there those dramatic differences? Prince George’s was impacted by short sales and foreclosures more than any other jurisdiction in our area, and there was still a lot of “distressed” inventory to move. And it moved in 2014. Our region’s other areas had already cleared the vast majority of those upside-down properties, so there simply weren’t as many homes to sell. Prince George’s also benefits from having the lowest average sales price in the region, so investors and first-time buyers had more opportunity in PG. The Northern Virginia suburbs fared better in 2013 than DC and the Maryland suburbs, so a lot of the drop in contracts occurred because so much pent up demand was absorbed last year. DC is simply the “hot” place to be, with lots of new development. And folks in DC don’t have to put up with the long commutes that characterize much of our area’s suburban commutes.

None of this means that 2014 was a bad year – it just wasn’t as good as 2013. Average sales prices are up compared to last year in every jurisdiction, and properties are selling in average of anywhere from 37 days (DC) to 50 day (Montgomery County). Those are signs of still-healthy markets. The biggest change we saw in 2014 was a jump in the number of homes on the market. Compared to this time last year, DC has 7% more homes for sale, but the suburbs have seen increases closer to 40%. And that tells us a lot about what to expect in the first half of 2015. More inventory means more choices for buyers – and that means there will be less upward pressure on prices. That’s less the case in the District, where overall supply is still under two months. At the other end of the spectrum, Loudoun County has an almost five month supply.

Mortgage interest rates remain near 4%, but most forecast that to rise to as much as 5.5% by the end of 2015. That will serve to keep a lid on home prices as well. The longer-term picture for the region remains very solid. Nationally in 2013, half of young adults aged 20-24 lived with their parents – and if you’re in that situation, that isn’t hard to believe! That is well above historic norms, so as the economy market. While it remains to be seen how much of that will happen in 2015 in our region, we do expect to see at least the leading edge emerge from the basement and into their own home.

Overall, we expect 2015 will end up looking a lot like 2014 for the region’s real estate market.

 

November Parades & Fun Near You

Posted On November 18th, 2014 by Thomas Hallex | No Comments

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

As you begin planning your holiday festivities this month, make sure you check out
some of the fall fun happening near you.

Silver Spring Thanksgiving Parade
November 22 at 10:00 a.m.
If you are a Maryland native, or don’t mind traveling to this beautiful state, be sure to
check out the annual Silver Spring Thanksgiving Parade. The parade starts on Ellsworth
Drive and Veterans Place, then proceeds south on George Avenue. Feast your eyes on
giant balloons, creative floats, and a special appearance by the Washington Redskins
Marching Band. You won’t want to miss this Macy’s inspired parade event.

DC Craft Beer Festival 2014
November 22 at 2:00 – 4:30 p.m. and 7:00 – 9:30 p.m
This event is for 21+ only and will be an experience you won’t forget. Ticket purchase
includes unlimited beer tasting for 2 1⁄2 hours, and at the end you get to take home a
complimentary souvenir tasting glass. Toast to hours of delicious fun.

Thanksgiving Day Trot for Hunger
November 27 at 8:30 a.m. Kids’ Fun Run; 9:00 a.m. 5K Run/Walk
If you want to make a difference in your community, the whole family can register to
participate in the Trot for Hunger. Walk or run to help the homeless and hungry in the
Washington, D.C. area.

Reston Town Center Holiday Celebration
November 28 at 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Reston Town Center’s annual event benefits local charities and features a Holiday
Parade at 11:00 a.m. with Macy’s-style balloons, musicians, dancers, antique cars,
characters, community groups, dignitaries, special guest emcees, and much more. It’s
a day full of fun for the whole family, beginning with the Gingerbread Man Mile races for
kids at 8:00 a.m. Welcome the season with a day of cheer and charity!

 

Design Your Kitchen to Lose Weight!

Posted On November 15th, 2014 by Thomas Hallex | No Comments

Plate And Measuring Meter, Concept Of Weight Loss.

The turkey is stuffed, and so are you. As the holidays approach, so does the never-
ending battle to remain health conscious. Here are a few handy tips to design your
kitchen to lose weight.

1. Keep Counter Tops Fruitful.
It has been proven that the average person eats fewer calories when fruits and veggies
are made readily available. Pull out that favorite decorative bowl and create a colorful
display of fruits on the kitchen counter. Be sure they require little to no effort to eat; such
as, grapes, apples, oranges and bananas. Now that’s a healthy snack to gobble-up on
the go!

2. Smaller Plates Equals Smaller Waist.
The average plate size is 11-12 inches, which can subconsciously trick any eater to add
one more helping to the plate. Keep your plate size between 9-10 inches this holiday
and eat more proportionately. This just means more leftovers right?

3. Food Pantry Make Over.
You would be surprised what happens behind closed doors; including your food pantry.
Continue to promote wise snacking and keep the healthy food eye level and appealing.
Store nuts and granola in clear jars, and use baskets to hold pre-packed snacks. Your
pantry will thank you in no time.

4. Clutter Free Counter Tops.
Did you know the average person snacks less in a clutter-free environment? Keep the
kitchen for the food, not your papers. Take a break from the office and remove clutter
from your kitchen by clearing papers and storing unnecessary gadgets from sight. That
includes last month’s to do list still hanging on the fridge, and when’s the last time you
used that KitchenAid stand mixer anyway?

5. Out of Sight Out of Mind.
The reason we go for seconds is usually because it’s staring us down at the table. It’s
okay to have the occasional second helping, but if you want to keep it to a minimum
create a new serving area and keep the food off the table. When it is time to prepare the
plates, set an area in the kitchen to serve meals to family, friends and guests.

 
Sue Goodhart

The Case Against Waiting for Spring

Posted On November 13th, 2014 by Sue Goodhart | No Comments

Beautiful spring flowers

 

Week in and week out at our open houses, we hear buyers say they are just scoping out the market and waiting to buy until spring. It’s true, spring is the busiest time of year in the real estate world so there are more listings on the market, but there are also more buyers. More buyers means more competition, making other times of year ripe for a good deal on a house.

While each year is different, spring tends to be more of a seller’s market with multiple bids and escalations for properties in popular areas that are priced right. Summer, fall and winter are typically buyer’s markets where you are rarely in competition with other buyers.

To illustrate the shift in advantage, we took a look at the average absorption rates in our area so far this year. An absorption rate is the percentage of properties on the market each month that go under contract. An even market is typically around 25-30 percent.  Above 30 percent is typically a seller’s market and below 25 percent is typically a buyer’s market.

January 2014: 24.5% — even market

March 2014: 33.8% — seller’s market

April 2014: 36.4% — seller’s market

May 2014: 34.9% — seller’s market

June 2014: 31.2% — seller’s market

July 2014: 27.3% — even market

August 2014: 23.3% — buyer’s market

September 2014:21.6% — buyer’s market

October 2014: 19.8% — buyer’s market

With rates as low as they have been in a while, now really is a great time to buy. Let us know if you would like to chat about preparing to buy a property now, or how to position yourself to beat the competition in the spring.

Sue Goodhart is the top-producing agent at McEnearney Associates in Alexandria and is licensed in D.C., Maryland and Virginia. She can be reached at 202-507-7800 or sue@suegoodhart.com.

 

Should I Bring A Hostess Gift

Posted On November 12th, 2014 by Thomas Hallex | No Comments

Natural style handcrafted gift box on wooden background. Concept
 

With the holidays upon us, we get ready to fill our calendars with festive home
entertaining engagements. You may ask yourself, should I bring a hostess gift? As a
guest of a party, whether big or small, it is proper etiquette to present a thoughtful gift to
the hostess. It is a meaningful invitation to welcome someone into your home, so show
your appreciation with a special gift.

Things you want to avoid – gifts that are too extravagant or involve work for the hostess.
An example of this would be cut flowers. Every hostess enjoys fresh flowers, but bring
them prearranged tied with a ribbon or pre-set in a vase. A unique alternative would
be a rosemary tree; it’s the gift that keeps on giving. Other creative gifts include drink
charms, infused olive oil or kitchen towels.

Take these tips into consideration when you get your next party invite, and you will be
the guest of honor.

 

Remember Veterans Day

Posted On November 8th, 2014 by Thomas Hallex | No Comments

Large group of American Flags commemorating a national holiday,

 
The Veterans Day National Ceremony is held each year on November 11th at  Arlington National Cemetery. The ceremony commences precisely at 11:00 a.m. with a  wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and continues inside the Memorial Amphitheater with a parade of colors by veterans’ organizations and remarks from dignitaries.

To all brave men and women who have served in our military and to their families who supported the cause of freedom – we sincerely thank you for your sacrifice.

For more information on local Veterans Day events, click here.

 

Local Turkey Farms

Posted On November 5th, 2014 by Thomas Hallex | No Comments

Turkey

 Gobble, Gobble!

 

Turkey day is almost here! If you’ve never had a chance to meet a turkey in person, you
should try it one time. It’s a fun activity for all ages. Here’s a few local farms to enjoy fun,
holiday festivities and to hear a real turkey gobble, too.

Day Springs Farm
Get acquainted with the countryside animals at Day Spring Farm located in Middleburg,
Virginia. This family owned and operated farm provides tours and hayrides educating
customers on the care provided to their animals. Make sure to take time to get up close
and personal with the heritage turkeys at this rolling hills farm.

Weber’s Farm
If you want to enjoy the farm life activities this Thanksgiving, then make your way to
Weber’s Farm. The Farm Market and Cider Mill is located in Parkville, Maryland. Not
only can you interact with the animals, but there is a gift shop, sweet cider donuts, fresh
pies, cider drinks, and duck races.

 

A Reminder to “Fall Back”

Posted On October 28th, 2014 by Thomas Hallex | No Comments

2014-10-20_1529

Remember, set your clocks BACK one hour on November 2nd.

This is a great time to go through your fall maintenance checklist, too. Minor repairs and preparations can keep your home safe and warm for the upcoming winter months.

OUTSIDE 
• Close and drain hose bibs.
• Rake debris away from side of house and other structures.
• Clean out gutters, downspout elbows, and check for roof leaks.
• Check foundation and repair any cracks.
• Clean around air conditioner compressor.
• Trim any trees or shrubs that touch house.
• Inspect and replace weatherstripping; re-caulk if needed.
• Repair torn screens; inspect and clean storm windows.
• Clean under decks and porches.
• Inspect seals and clean out basement window wells.
• Check external lights, especially by stairs; replace burnt out bulbs.
• Run all gas-powered lawn equipment until the fuel is gone.
• Check the dryer vent to make sure it is clear.

INSIDE 
• Clean and reverse the ceiling fans (fan to blow up).
• Replace batteries in the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
• Test alarms to be sure they are working properly.
• Replace air filters in furnace.
• Adjust thermostat settings for fall/winter temperatures.
• Stock emergency supplies in case the power (and heat) goes out.