My Blog

Blog :: 10-2013

Reston's public art

Reston's public art

The mosaic at the Glade underpass in Reston (photo courtesy of Reston Association).

If you're new to Reston, you've probably noticed that there are sculptures and murals everywhere you go. That's no mistake. Reston founder Robert Simon was (and still is) a proponent of public art, mentioning it several time in his guiding principals for Reston. As a result, public art thrives in this community.

Why is public art such a key feature of Reston?

Because it embodies what Reston in general is all about--it creates a reason for people to communicate and engage with each other.

Watch this short documentary about Reston's public art for a wonderful overview of the many public artworks you can find in Reston. The Initiative for Public Art - Reston (IPAR) produced it and Rebekah Wingert-Jabi directed it.

After you watch the video, I have a challenge for you... and this is the perfect time of year for it. This weekend, take a stroll around Lake Anne, through Reston Town Center, or by Lake Thoreau and see how many pieces of public art you can find. From the Fountain at Lake Anne to murals in the underpasses, art is everywhere in Reston, and we love it! I think you'll love it too.


Northgate Condominiums in Reston, VA

Northgate, Reston, VACondominiums are a great option for people who want a nice home, but not the responsibility of maintaining a yard or exterior. Reston has many options for condo seekers, but one of my favorites is Northgate. Located at on North Shore Drive and  Wiehle Avenue (near Baron Cameron), Northgate is one of the largest condo neighborhoods in Reston with spacious, quiet units. Mature trees offer shade and privacy, and Reston Association walking paths make it easy to set off on adventures around town. In fact, Northgate is just a short walk to Lake Anne and to the Reston dog park.

The complex has more than 400 1-, 2-, and 3-bedroom condos. All of the buildings have brick facades, and most are three stories. The 1 bedroom units have a single bath and the 3 bedroom units offer 2 baths. A few of the 2 bedroom units have 2 baths, although most of them have 1. The condos were originally rental units, but in the 1980s they were remodeled and converted to condos--most of them are updated with modern fixtures and appliances. The complex has its own central heating and cooling plant, so the Northgate Condominium Association fees include coverage for heating, cooling and electricity in addition to water and sewer.

Northgate is a 5-minute walk from two metro bus routes, and about a 5-minute drive to Reston Town Center, multiple grocery stores, and the Wiehle Ave. toll road entrance.

If condominium living is what you're looking for, come explore Northgate. You'll find the combination of well-designed units and fantastic location a winning one!


Should you buy a fixer upper?

fixer upperReston is one of those places where people buy a home and then live in it for 50 years. While many houses on the market in Reston have been renovated, at least in the last 15 years, chances are you'll fall in love with a home that needs some work. Since fixer uppers tend to sell for less than a renovated home, the thought of buying one is attractive. I help clients work through the pros and cons of buying a fixer upper every day. And here's what I tell them.

Buying a fixer upper

First, you need to be honest about how much of a project you can take on. If you really don't have the time or desire to do the work yourself, don't buy a house based on doing the work yourself. That's a good way to end up living another 15 years with a kitchen from 1970.

Before you buy, try to get an estimate of how much the renovations will cost you. Talk to friends who have done similar renovations. Or try this free estimator (it's basic, but it's a place to start) You may find that they add up to the difference between the fixer upper and a renovated home. Of course, for someone who'd like to have work done exactly how they'd like it, that might not matter.

When to consider a fixer upper

  • You've always wanted a specific type of kitchen, bathroom, deck, etc (maybe you dream of Viking appliances and granite counters). This is a great opportunity to spend a little less on the purchase of your home and funnel that extra money into getting what you really want.
  • When the repairs are actually very superficial. It can be hard to imagine how wonderful your living room is if it's painted a color you hate or has unappealing wall paper. But paint is a simple fix and it will change the look of your whole house.
  • When the structure is good, and things just need an overhaul. If the kitchen layout works for you and the cabinets are in good condition, getting new appliances, counters, and painting is easy...and well worth the effort to freshen the house.
  • If this is your dream house in your dream neighborhood. If you really love this house, then you should live in it!

Know when to walk away (or at least consider it)

There are some fixer upper scenarios that you really shouldn't take on.

  • A bad roof or ancient heating/air conditioning systems: Both of these are very expensive repairs. If the house you want needs a new ones, negotiate that you're your price.
  • Foundation issues: If you've got a bad foundation, it is very time consuming to fix it. Your home inspection will turn up any problems and if it does, consider very carefully if you love the house enough to deal with the headache.
  • Old electrical systems: Older homes can have faulty wiring and electrical panels that could pose a risk of electrical fire. Your home inspection will reveal whether this is an issue to consider.

My advice: avoid structural issues that will cause you headaches for years--and may make it difficult to sell your house later. But other than that, if you really are handy or you have a great contractor, fixer uppers are a great investment.

Moorings Cluster

moorings cluster

Enjoy Reston lakeside living at Moorings Cluster.

Moorings Cluster in Reston has it all--spacious 3- to 5-bedroom townhomes with fantastic views of Lake Anne (70% are direct lakefront properties). Unlike many lakeside townhouse communities, each of the 50 homes in this neighborhood has a garage.

Built between 1971 and 1972, these townhomes are open and bright with hardwood floors, large master bedrooms, and balconies off the back. Situated at the end of Moorings Drive just east of Lake Anne's Washington Plaza, this quiet neighborhood has easy access to main roads and public transportation. You can walk to Lake Anne, jog on the nearby RA paths, or be at Reston Town Center in a matter of minutes.

This is the kind of neighborhood where you can take full advantage of everything Reston has to offer--it's close to shopping, ball parks, pools, tennis courts, and more. Many residents have small boats and canoes that they take out on Lake Anne, enjoying a leisurely paddle to the plaza for concerts, festivals, and more. In the summer, residents can walk to the popular Farmer's Market and Reston Market. Cluster residents attend Reston's Lake Anne Elementary, Langston Hughes Middle and South Lakes High School. And Moorings Cluster will have easy access to the new Wiehle Metro Station with a bus stop just down the street at Moorings Drive and North Shore Drive.

moorings 4 moorings 6moorings 3


What to Look for on the Final Walk Through

final walk through Here are some tips to help you get ready for your final walk through. Image courtesy of artur84 /

Here are some tips to help you get ready for your final walk through. Image courtesy of artur84 /

Closing day on your new's an exciting time. I love getting to this point with my clients--the anticipation and excitement about a new home is  what makes my job so rewarding. But one the closing is scheduled, there is one more very important thing you need to do. That's the final walk through.

Many people see the final walk through as just another opportunity to visualize where the couch is going to go. But there is a little more to it than that. This is your last opportunity to check out the home and make sure there are no problems. It can be something as simple as realizing screens are missing from the windows or something as serious as major water damage in the basement--I've seen it all.

The final walk through

Don't go into the final walk through unaware. Here are a few things you should be looking out for (in addition to where that couch is going to go).

  • Make sure all the items that are supposed to be staying with the house are still there. You think the washing machine or the stained glass window convey? Make sure they're still there during the walk through. Your purchase agreement should list everything that conveys. Just double check it. I've seen sellers remove something because they forgot it conveyed.
  • Conversely, if something is supposed to be gone, make sure it's gone! Assume that anything you see laying around is still going to be there when you move in. If you don't want it, make sure the sellers take it away. I've seen people try to leave broken furniture and all sorts of things.
  • Make sure any repairs the seller was supposed to do are done--these should be listed in the purchase agreement. These will also be listed in the purchase agreement. Ask for receipts if the repair isn't something you would necessarily notice on the walk through.
  • Make sure there is no new damage. This can be as simple as a scratch in floor from moving furniture out to a busted pipe (yep, I've seen that on walk through). You'll want to discuss costs of repairs for these things at the closing.
  • Finally, make sure everything works! Chances are, when you first saw your dream house, you were so excited you didn't methodically walk room to room and test every light switch, close every door, latch every window, and turn on every appliance. Do it now. Things break between home inspections and closings, and it's not fun to discover that after you've purchased the house! Make sure you have copies of warranties and owner's manuals for appliances.

Fixing what goes wrong in the final walk through

Keep a list of everything you've found, and give it to your Realtor®. She'll help you get negotiate getting them fixed/replaced/corrected with the seller.

Now that you've done a thorough walk through, it's time to get seriously excited about your new home. Have fun!

Waterfront like along a lake