Blog :: 2010

Metro in Reston

Metro Construction in Reston

Metro Construction

For those of us who thought the Metro would never get here it is pretty amazing to watch  the construction unfolding like some kind of enormous Lego set on the median of the Dulles Toll road at Wiehle Avenue. The Metro's arrival in Reston will undoubtedly bring a mixed bag of changes. Property owners closer in to the Metro should see better than average rates of appreciation in home values.

One Mile Radius of Wiehle Ave Metro

Metro Construction

In general a property within a mile of the Metro is considered walkable. Of course the  theory is that you could leave the car at home, walk to the Metro and catch the train to wherever you're going--we'll see if this is what actually happens, but there is no doubt that proximity to Metro is a huge, huge selling feature.

Within one mile of the new Metro we have some very diverse housing options. They range from fairly modest like the Chestnut Grove Condominiums in the low $150,000 range for a one bedroom, to large single family homes on Lake Thoreau for well over a $1,000,000.00.

For some of these little condominium communities the Metro represents a kind of location upgrade. Parkcrest Condominiums off of North Shore Drive is a perfect example; they have always had great floor plans, nice space, and a pretty setting, but the location might be considered bland when compared to others. They are now poised to reap huge benefits by virtue of their proximity to the new Metro. Some of these neighborhoods were hit by significant price adjustments when the housing bubble burst. The Metro may be an opportunity for those owners to make up some lost value.

Reston Town House Living - The Good and the Great

I don't know if the large number of townhomes in Reston is unique to our area or not. or not; I've only lived in a few places over my life so I don't have a good basis for comparison. Clearly it is a part of Reston living with close to a 140 separate townhouse clusters. These clusters are wildly varied from the comfortable and modest to over-the-top luxurious. Of course the one feature that they all have in common is the proximity an owner shares with their neighbor. For those of you who haven't lived in a townhouse the proximity issue isn't necessarily about hearing things through common walls so much as it is about the general feeling of others being close by--not a bad thing for many.

Townhomes in Reston VA

The perfect size yard

What does Reston offer?

What Reston townhouses do offer is a wide range of housing options for almost every price point. There are currently 109 townhouses for sale in Reston ranging in price from 150,000 - 990,000. My husband and I moved to a townhouse as a part of our downsizing. The kids were gone the house was more than we wanted to care for;so we moved to a three level townhouse with a beautiful postage stamp sized yard on Lake Anne.  We loved it.  Not only was there a lot less to care for, we loved the since of community that comes when you live in such close proximity to others.

We enjoyed the frequent sidewalk chats with neighbors and the feeling that we kept an eye out for one another; it's a nice way to live.  We've since moved to a condo where that feeling of community is even more pronounced.  Last years' snow storms gave rise to several spontaneous pot luck dinners, board game parties and neighbors helping to dig out one another's cars.

If you've never considered a townhouse or condo in Reston because you've worried about living in such close proximity, maybe you should reconsider, there is a lot of upside to this housing style.

Wakable in Reston VA

This Reston townhouse is beautifully updated.

This weeks top pick is...surprise, surprise...my own listing, but it's a great property so I'm not going to worry about shameless self-promotion. Besides, your Real Estate Agent is supposed to be in business of promoting. So on to the listing--it's a great 3 bedroom 2.5 bath townhome in the Uplands area of Reston. 11178 Forest Edge Dr in the Forest Edge Cluster.

This Reston townhouse is beautifully updated.

The property is wonderful, every room has been renovated, new kitchen, all new baths, new floors, new windows--really new everything and beautifully executed. The other thing I like about this property is how wakable it is...Several of Reston's famous black paths cut right through the Cluster providing safe easy access by foot or by bike to any number of community amenities.

This Reston townhouse is beautifully updated.

The elementary school, pool, tennis, basketball, and the baseball diamond were all within about a 3 - 5 minute walk. Lake Anne Plaza with its Saturday Farmer's Market, shops and restaurants is an easy walk at just over ½ mile away. The black paths form a network will get walkers and bikers to most of the Village Centers and to Town Center without ever crossing a busy street. The trails aren't always the most direct but they are often beautiful, taking you through the woods and along stream beds.  It's a great way to get where you're going.

Is your pooch welcome in your new Reston condo?

It seems like such a simple thing. The phone rings, you answer. The person on the other end says they found you on the internet and are interested in working with a Reston specialist. "That's me! How can I help you?"

The Devil's in the Details...

Long story short, the buyers wanted a one or two bedroom condo in the Reston Town Center area for under $400,000 This was to be a kind of pied-à-terre that they would use during the week while in town for business. Great, I can do this, I can find them a great place. We continue to talk about what they liked and what they were hoping for and then comes the deal changer--dogs, not one but two and they're large dogs, over 50 pounds of loving fun.

Scout

Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of dogs, my husband and I share our condo with two French Bulldogs. We started with Scout and then a few months later decided to add Boo. Because I'm active in my condo I knew that we had a pet policy that called for one pet per household and that in order to get an exception I would have to make a case to the Board of Directors before we added the second pup.

Condo Living does mean Rules

Scout

Before I took my pooch loving buyers out I started making calls to the Town Center properties. Every condominium had slightly different rules regarding pet ownership. It ranged from a strict 1 pet per unit, to 1 dog and 1 cat or 2 cats, to 2 pets no weight restrictions. Some properties have breed restrictions. I was so glad that I took the time to make the calls before showing property, it would have been disastrous to find the perfect property only to realize that "Rover" wasn't welcome.

Home Owner's Associations, Townhouse Clusters and Condo living does mean more rules. They can be anything from not being allowed to park your boat or RV on the street to not being able to own any pets--get the scoop up front to save from being disappointed later.

This weeks favorite in Reston VA - under 500k

For Sale in Reston--this weeks top picks.

cherry tree in Reston VirginiaAs we begin moving into the Spring market people are beginning to get their homes listed and on the market. The number of new listings added each week has been steadily increasing. Well priced property continues to move pretty quickly. Each week I go out and preview the new listings so that I'll have first hand experience with what is on the market.

My top pick for this week is a wonderful townhouse in the Sunderbriar Cluster in the Lake Anne neighborhood of Reston. First let me say that this is not my listing--I wish that it was because this property is clearly owned by a great client; the house really sparkles from top to bottom.

The particulars: This is a 3 bedroom 2.5 bath all brick townhouse with a 2 car garage.  It sits right on the one of Reston's walking paths and is maybe a 3 minute walk to Lake Anne Village Center.

The house is immaculate, and sunny with crisp white trim accenting lovely wall colors. The sunny kitchen offers a beautiful alternative to the standard stainless steel and granite with a beautiful custom tile countertop in a deep blue that brings to mind the Mediterranean.  All of the bathrooms have been updated and all of them look great.

If you'd like to see this property give me a call!

Are you selling low in Reston?

I have a friend used to say that there was a Seinfeld story line to cover every situation in life. I thought of that recently when talking to a Seller about their feeling that they had "lost money" in their home which they purchased 15 years ago and which still had its original mortgage.

A story line for situation in life.

A story line for situation in life.

In my Seller's mind the loss of value from 2006 to 2010, an amount of approximately 20% in his market felt like money out of his pocket. He was really disappointed that they had delayed making the decision to move from the big single family home into the condo that they hoped would better suit their empty nester lifestyle.

It's always hard to get people to grasp that the housing market is just like any market--very, very, immediate. When you go to sell your Oracle® stock its worth whatever it's selling for THAT DAY, it doesn't matter what it sold for in the past or what it might sell for in the future, the only thing that matters is today. Same thing with the family house, except the price is influenced up or down by condition and the horrible irony here is that poor condition of property creates more downward pressure on home values than good condition creates an upward trend in home value.

Good property condition makes your home more marketable and makes it sell faster but you do not get a dollar for dollar return for the upgrades that you do prior to putting your home on the market.

So, what's the take away for my Seller?

Sell high, buy high.

Sell high, buy high.

Had he sold in the fever pitched market of a few years ago he would have also been buying in that same market. Then his situation would have been all together different and he may very well have been sitting on a property with an upside down mortgage. As it is he will be selling his home after seeing property values nearly triple and then moderate a bit, and he will being buying in a market that has seen some serious price correction. While my Seller may feel like he is selling low...the truth is that he is buying low; he is going to make a lot on money on the sale of his home and he's going to buy a great condo for way, way less than he would have if he had made his purchase when he first contemplated a change.

So, which Seinfeld episode fits this situation?

The one where a series of ridiculous events cause Jerry to believe that he's always going to stay even. Sell low, maybe but you'll also be buying low, but really it's not low, it's the current market.

Selling In Reston - Start Now to be ready for the Spring Market

DSC00860Spring in Reston arrives in a mere 46 days.  I know many sellers  have been waiting for warmer weather will begin to call to talk about listing their homes for the Spring market. Most will be surprised when after meeting with me they find there is a long list of "to dos" that will need to be done to get their property prepared to bring top dollar.

Last week I wrote about two properties that I showed to perspective buyers. I talked about how one house, even though it did not have current or impressive updates still came out at the top of my buyers list because of the way that it made them feel. They could see themselves living there and it was going to feel good.  If you are selling your home you want every perspective buyers to feel good while they are in your house. You want them to be able to project themselves into your home and emotionally make it there home.  So...how do you do that?

starburstclean

A clean house reduces buyer anxiety.

The first place to start is by cleaning.  I don't the mean vacuum & dust kind of cleaning; I mean the scrub the grout with a tooth brush kind of cleaning. I mean you do your best imitation of your crazy Aunt Saddie with the obsessive compulsion cleaning disorder kind of cleaning.  Some clients opt for hiring a good cleaning crew, but if you're going to do that you should de-clutter your house before bringing in a cleaning professional; and if your "To Do" list includes painting save the professional cleaning for the last item on your list.

One of the first things I do for clients after signing a listing agreement is to drop off 100 office sized boxes to be used to de-clutter. When clients protest I remind them that they have to pack it all up sooner or later and that they might as well get started. A super clean and orderly home says "I have been well maintained." A home that is free of clutter makes room for the prospective buyer to mentally picture themselves in that home; which in turn helps to move the buyer from thinking to acting...writing a contract.

Beautifully Organized Closet by Container Store

A clean house reduces buyer anxiety.

The more you can do, clean, organize, neutralize, paint, upgrade, the faster your home will move from being on the market to sold.

So if you're thinking about the Spring Market you should be preparing NOW.  It take the average seller 4 - 6 weeks to get a single family home ready to sell. The longer you've lived there the longer it can take to really get things in good shape.  So don't delay, 46 days to Spring and counting.

A story of Reston real estate: Prepared to Buy - Prepared to Sell

This is a little story about Buyers and Sellers in Reston.

First the buyers.

This young couple is hoping to buy their first home. After viewing hundreds of homes online and researching different communities they selected Reston as being a great place to start their life together. They were impressed with the amenities, loved the urban vibe of the Town Center, the unique charm and beauty of the Lake Anne area, they were sold on the community. They had a good sense of what was going to be available in their price range, they had already spoken to their lender, and they are ready to buy! We looked at 10 properties that were within $25,000.00 of top of their price range.

Now for the Sellers.

Sometimes it is hard to make your house stand out from the crowd, sometimes it's easy. Sometimes it's easy but it's for all the wrong reasons! Let me start this by saying that I called and spoke to either the listing agents or the homeowners on all of these properties except for the one or two that were vacant, so everyone knew we were coming. Having sold my own home this past year I know how hard it is to leave your home in showing condition EVERY SINGLE DAY. I got so sick of trying to channel Martha Stewart

Stage your home Martha Stewart style and watch you home fly off the market!

Stage your home Martha Stewart style and watch you home fly off the market!

I thought I was going to scream, but honestly Sellers, it's what you have to do.

Two of the houses I showed on Saturday were in the same townhouse cluster. One was extravagantly over improved but had dishes in the sink, unmade beds, toothpaste in the sink, and half way into the showing the home security system went off with an eardrum piercing noise that defies description. The other house on the same street, was in a slightly closer to the main road, which is typically considered less desirable, and it had no significant or showy up grades; but oh what a difference.

The second house was an oasis of serenity. It was immaculate, it was uncluttered, and it was neutral. Everything about the house said "I have been cared for." My buyers were reassured, nothing felt scary, they could see themselves living there.

Tonight the Buyers are going back to take a second look at the tidy little townhouse; the listing agent called me earlier today to say that he has received one contract (after 8 days on the market), so if my buyers are ready to write a contract we'll have to scramble, hopefully it will fall in their favor because they are in a position to write a nice clean offer, but the moral of this story?

We all need to take a clue from the Boy Scouts...we all need to be prepared.

All Reston VA Real Estate - New Name - New Look

Eve Thompson

Eve Thompson

New Year's Resolution: All Reston Real Estate all the time.  I've always loved the New Year. I love clearing out the old and making way for the new. This year feels especially important because it's the end of a decade. I'm making some changes. Most of them will be transparent to you but for me they represent all that is near and dear to my heart.

On the business front I've decided that I'm no longer taking listings outside of Reston, VA. For years I've tried to be a lot of things to a lot of people and I've finally decided...ENOUGH! Reston is what I know, it's what I love and it's where I add the most value to my clients. (If you were just getting ready to call me to have me list your Arlington bungalow give me a call and I will put you in touch with the absolute best agent in Arlington!)

For my buyers of course it's knowing the neighborhoods; from the quiet stately homes of south Reston to the urban feel of Reston Town Center or the sleek contemporaries of North Reston knowing where to find what the buyer is looking for is all about really knowing the neighborhoods.

For my sellers...well I'd like to think that really loving Reston makes me better at selling Reston.

So for the New Year I have a new look and a new website address. www.AllRestonRealEstate.com You'll be getting the same great service, including this blog which will continue to have all kinds of interesting neighborhood news and information throughout the year.