4 Point Friday

4 Point Friday (7/19) – Crane Watch, Amazon Spending $700m, AC Tips For The Weekend, Strasburg 3 for 3? 
 

  1. Crane Watch – Keep Tabs On The Area’s Construction Boom
    With over 900,000 new jobs expected in the DC Metro area by 2045, and over 300,000 by 2025 the continuing construction boom throughout the region should come as no surprise. If you’re interested you can keep closer tabs on all the projects with a value of $50m or more through Washington Business Journal’s Crane Watch

    Unfortunately smaller projects such as Founders Row, and the newly titled Little City Commons in Falls Church, and Scout On The Circle in Fairfax don’t make the $50m cut, but you can catch plenty of the other major activity through the interactive map. 

  2. Another Training Avenue From Amazon
    This week Amazon announced yet another avenue through which it plans to train its future work force. After announcing a second of its kind partnership with George Mason University earlier this year, Amazon has announced it will invest $700m to train its workforce for more technical roles. The plan, which amounts just over 6% of the companies net revenue for 2018, comes alongside an acknowledgment that future advancements in their distribution centers will require fewer paid workers.

    Amazon hopes to move 1/3 (100,000) of its existing workers to more technical rolls within the company, or enable them to find better paying work outside of the company once they are no longer needed.

    As stated in an earlier 4 Point email about the GMU partnership, there is a vast shortage of qualified workers to fill the need for cloud and other tech based vacancies. The reinvestment serves as another way to funnel new talent into the field, and ultimately I suspect they hope to keep the often exorbitant pay for such roles under control by creating a more steady supply of talent.

    More Amazon HQ2 News
  3. Help Keep Your AC In Working Order This Weekend
    The promised heat wave is upon us. Here are some tips to help make sure your home stays cool, and that you keep a working AC Unit through the weekend.
    • Go full hermit. Keep blinds closed and curtains drawn. Not only does this keep sunlight from warming up the house, it provides a layer of insulation over the weeks point in your home for heat exchange.
    • Make sure you have a new, clean filter in place.
    • Drop the temperature a degree or two in the morning to give the system a head start, then return to the normal setting by lunchtime.
    • Run fans from lower levels up to upper levels to take advantage of the cooler are in other areas and relieve some of the burden from the system.
    • Keep doors closed as much as possible. When coming or going make sure the whole gang is ready to go in or out, then yell, “GO, GO, GO, GO!!!”  

  4.  Stephen Strasburg Goes 3 for 3 With a Bomb and 5 RBI’s?!
    In case you don’t follow baseball you should know, Major League pitchers aren’t exactly known for their skills with a bat in their hands. Getting a hit even now and again is fairly unusual, (yes, we get spoiled with Max Scherzer in the rotation) and they are largely considered a near automatic out. Not so much last night for Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals. In just one inning Strasburg had a single and then later had 420 foot 3 run home run. But Strasburg wasn’t done. In the 5th inning he had yet another hit that cleared the bases, giving him a total of 5 RBI’s. To provide some color, our former hero Bryce Harper had a 5 RBI night earlier this week, a feat that made headlines even for him.


    Stay cool this weekend, and please let me know if I can help in any way at all! Also, if you like 4 Point Friday please recommend it to a friend! I somewhat occasionally keep a running list of them here, where folks can also subscribe. Thanks all!


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4 Point Friday (7/12) – Mad Fox Out, Minions, $100m Scooter, 20%
 

  1. Mad Fox Closing: Small Business Overrun by Smaller Business?
    This week Mad Fox Brewing Company in Falls Church announced it will be closing its doors later this month. Though only 9 years old, the local restaurant and brewery’s stated reason for the closure was that competition from smaller competitors with lower overhead had taken too big a bite out of their regular business. 

    In recent years Falls Church has seen a swell of smaller local offerings, including the upstairs tasting and dining room above Dominion Wine & Beer, and in-house brewing options such as Audacious Aleworks, and Falls Church Distillers. Long standing Falls Church favorite, Claire & Don’s Beach Shack seems to be humming right along amid the increased competition, perhaps due to the approachable atmosphere and local involvement with events, both hosted and sponsored.

  2. Minions Inspired Tree House, Available 2020
    This pre-fab, grid free, house isn’t like those concept cars at the auto shows that you’ll never see on the road. This Minion inspired tree house design will be made available in 2020. The design can be pieced together as needed, and can be added to later as needs change over time. Think Amish farmhouse, but as a Star Wars-esque house in the forest. I’m in, will you be my neighbor?!


  3. Scooter Craze Losing Luster With Investors?
    We’ve all seen them. The motorized scooter trend is in full swing. Outside of the seemingly disproportionate danger they pose, there’s just one problem. The economics are, well, less than desirable. This week it was made public that scooter provider, Bird, had posted a $100m loss. It was also revealed that out of $700+m in investment dollars, the company had spent all but $100m of it. In the face of the loss and the spending, Bird has gone back to investors requesting an additional $300m. However with the loses, the expenses, and revenue of just $15m investors have become a bit unsure. 

  4.  Historically Low Inventory Continued In June, Down 20% In Northern Virginia
    Tight Inventory has been the lead story for local real estate in 2019, and June was no exception. Arlington County’s year on year decline led all of Northern Virginia with a 55.7% drop, though the City of Alexandria wasn’t far behind with a drop of 53.8%. Not surprisingly, the number of sales has also fallen off. So far, the 2019 market continues to leave many home buying needs unmet.

    As is often the case, this doesn’t mean that homes in every location are selling at the drop of a sign post, nor is every home in even the most sought after locations. The lowest inventory, lowest days on market, and highest price growth areas are generally concentrated around sought after schools, AND transportation options (including Metro access). 

    In Arlington this means a home that sold last year for $1,000,000 might sell for closer to $1,130,000 now under the right conditions.

 

4 Point Friday (6/21) – Why HQ2 In Northern Virginia Was Inevitable

Beyond being given false credit for area home prices (yes, still not letting that rest ????), several headlines over the last couple weeks highlight Amazon’s full reach, both present and future, in the DC Metro area. This week’s four points unpack just how sprawling their presence already is without HQ2, and where it’s going from here and why. When broken down it seems HQ2 coming to Northern Virginia was inevitable from the start. Of note, none of these points include any mention of 1 day shipping, or your Kindle library.
 

  1. A Star Is Born. Scratching Their Own Itch Amazon Created A $25 Billion Dollar Side Hustle
    As Amazon began to grow they had a problem. They needed to create new and versatile applications on the fly, and then be able to scale those applications rapidly. Realizing their developers were recreating the wheel with every application they were asked to build, Amazon decided to step back and create an internal infrastructure that would essentially be more plug and play, and each application would be better able to communicate across the platform to others. In 2003 executives started to realize they might have something on their hands that could be marketed outside the walls of their own organization. After chewing on the idea for a few years Amazon Web Services was formally launched in 2006. 

    Without this maneuver Amazon not only wouldn’t be the company it is today, it would quite possibly be a distant memory. Not only that, AWS is now a revenue stream the brought in over $25.7b in 2018, up 47% from 2017. With over 1.5 million AWS users, it is estimated that 10% of those are enterprise-scale companies.  And these facts propel us to the next point…

  2. Real Estate: Amazon As The Digital Landlord
    From the start all of those applications needed a place to live. While many companies small and large will lease server space, Amazon made yet another important decision that would have huge impact down the road. Rather than lease space, Amazon purchased their own “used” data center. Where was that data center? Right here in Northern Virginia.

    The early internet was largely used and developed by the government, government contractors, the military, etc… As such the main backbone of the early internet was right here in Northern Virginia. So when Amazon looked for space to house their programs, this was the place to be.

    Since then Amazon began building their own data centers, and yet again, Northern Virginia was the logical location for many of those projects. The backbone was already here, there was ample space to add to their footprint, particularly in Loudoun County, and there were/are local governments itching to grow the areas tech footprint.

    In tandem with AWS, Amazon realized they had a stable, scalable data center inventory. So as Amazon launched AWS to the world, they also opened up their data centers for hosting and allowed those AWS applications to be built on their server platform. At this point Amazon is the largest hosting company in operation and their data centers bring in an estimated $8bn in additional revenue per year. Northern Virginia itself see about 70% of global internet traffic, the majority of that traffic flows through Amazon owned servers.

    These data centers are a sight to behold by the way. You can get an up close and personal view of one of their newest data centers if you travel out Rt. 50. South of the Dulles Airport, on the south side of 50 you can’t miss it, nor the massive run of power lines dedicated to the center’s operation.

    You won’t find any data centers owned under the Amazon name, rather they are owned by Amazon’s subsidiary, VAdata, Inc. With dozens of data centers already in the area, just last week it was reported that VAdata contracted to purchase a 57 acre site in Herndon.

    FUN NOTE: If Netflix or Instagram go down, that’s an Amazon server issue, likely right here in Northern Virginia. 
  3. Amazon No Longer The Only Show in Town
    Not surprisingly, others have jumped into the waters of the $80+ billion dollar cloud infrastructure business. Most notably, Microsoft with their Azure offering. While Amazon Web Services remains the dominant player after a 7 year head start, Azure has gained ground at a rapid rate, capitalizing on large corporate environments where Microsoft infrastructure is already engrained. Microsoft reports that 95% of Fortune 500 companies have built out solutions of one kind or another on Azure. 

    For this reason, and security advantages that retailers and banks prefer, Azure is assumed to have a huge upside moving forward. The challenge for both will continue to be recruiting enough market ready talent, not only for internal operations, but to join the ranks of the end user companies and be champions and implementors for the given product on the buyer side. Which takes us back to last weeks, item #3

  4. Amazon Announces Partnership with George Mason University
    Last week I passed along that Amazon has partnered with George Mason University to create four year bachelors degree focused on cloud computing. 

    The current environment for cloud computing closely resembles IT in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Much of the industry was so new that companies were relying largely on self taught individuals who were willing and able to continue to learn. That is very much the case now, and the need for talent is so immense both Amazon and Microsoft are offering AWS and Azure certifications for free! As with any supply and demand scenario, even a partial education in these services can mean an outsized return when it comes to income.

    So, with everything stated in the first 3 points, plus this labor shortage, a university partnership from Amazon should come as no surprise, additionally, it should not be a surprise that it is occurring here in Northern Virginia, where AWS was essentially born, where Amazon is host to so many data centers, and of course where HQ2 will now reside.

    Not only will the program feed Amazon with talent, it will be a stream of more formally trained workers for organizations throughout the area. As a competitive advantage it will also create a network of AWS advocates who will be more likely to push for those solutions over those from Microsoft or Google.

    SUMMARY: Altogether you get a flywheel of inevitable steps. Amazon built the tools, then they built the infrastructure to store the tools, now they’ll be training the talent to build with the tools and run the infrastructure. All right here in Northern Virginia. There you have it. A massive Amazon presence that didn’t even involve a package on your doorstep.

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4 Point Friday (6/14) – Summah, Nats Tix, Amazon Pipeline, Pimmit Hills Craze

  1. Looking to Get Organized This Summer?
    After our 3 years in Boston we’ll never know another summer, it will forever be “summah”… with the “Saux”. (Seriously, there is nothing like throngs of Sox fans swarming the T all over town on game day, every living room in the city with the game on. But I digress.”

    With school our, or almost out we are working to get our summer schedule sorted out, and I suspect many of you might be in the same boat. If you need some inspiration checkout some of these ideas conjured by overachievers (and liars). Dial a couple of these down to human level and you might find some useful ideas!

  2. Nats Kickoff Summer Break with A Long Home stand
    Speaking of baseball, the Nats are in town for an 11 game home stand, and it looks like the weather will be mostly accommodating throughout.

    In honor of the end of school (for most), the gorgeous weather, and the gritty Nats who are trying to climb up the standings, I’m doing an Instagram promo for 2 free tickets to tonight’s game (parking included)! The promotion will start around 12pm, and will go to 4 pm, instructions will be in the post

    Don’t miss your chance to catch Max Scherzer fan some Diamondbacks! Oh! And it’s Fireworks Friday!
  3. Amazon Setting Up Their Local Pipeline
    With an announced partnership with George Mason University this week, Amazon is further expanding their local pipeline of talent in the area. Last year Amazon and Northern Virginia Community college announced an Associates Degree program in Cloud Computing. The partnership with George Mason will offer a 4 year degree with focused on cloud computing. 

    The programs are a clear feeder of talent into Amazon Web Services, and massive part of Amazon’s operation that often goes overlooked, that is, unless you have seen some of their monstrous data centers go up around Loudoun County, data centers that require dedicated electrical installations that look like they could power a small city. 

    Not only will this feed Amazon with local talent, they will be fed with long tail migration talent with students undoubtedly coming to George Mason from all over the world for a fast track right into Amazon’s (second) front door. To me it sounds bit like what we saw in the early 1900’s with the auto and steel industries. The talent will gravitate to the training and the jobs. 

  4. Pimmit Hills, A Dramatically Changing Neighborhood 
    The Spring market brought some robust activity to some surprising places. The usual suspects of North Arlington, and Falls Church City saw plenty of action, but this year neighborhoods outside of these stalwarts led the charge.

    One up and comer to watch is Pimmit Hills in Falls Church (Fairfax County). I remember about 10 years ago, the Broker for my real estate office at the time said “You watch, houses in Pimmit Hills will be selling for $1m.” Sure enough, that is starting to happen more and more, and what we’ve seen so far is just the tip of the iceberg.

    Of over 1,300 homes in the neighborhood just 250 have been torn down and rebuilt since 2005. You can see the exploding Tysons through the tree tops, it’s now proximate to Metro, Trader Joes and Whole foods are right there, and Marshall High School just ranked #6 in the state.

    Now, it won’t be all unicorns and rainbows. Builders are starting to hit the neighborhood pretty aggressively, which will keep a cap on prices for a while, and will make it challenging for folks to recoup their purchase price if they have to sell in the next 5 years or so.

       

4 Point Friday (6/7) – Dinos In D.C., Data Salad, Bucking Trends, “You Don’t Care”.

  1. Today The Natural History Museum Reopens Their Dinosaur Exhibit After 5 Years
    The last time we enjoyed the dinosaur exhibit our 5th grader to be was heading to kindergarten, soon to be 4th grader was going into her last year of preschool, and our twins were about to turn 1. To say we’re excited would be an understatement!

    The exhibit, now called “Deep Time” will open tomorrow morning. The first 300 guests through the National Mall entrance will be able to participate in a grand opening ceremony in the rotunda at 10:15 am, and there will be several family friendly activities throughout the weekend, including a visit from non other than Dinosaur Train’s Dr. Scott the Paleontologist (I may leave the kids and go just for that!). 

    With rain in the forecast on Sunday I expect this will draw a crowd, but it could be worth it with all the surrounding activities.

  2. A Good Reminder To Read Beyond The Real Estate Headlines
    This week a piece on HousingWire from earlier in May had generated some buzz and agents were being encouraged to use the reporting to generate some urgency among their clients and potential clients. Ever curious, I checked the article out for myself and I have to say, even I was taken aback by the data salad it presented. Or more accurately, headline soup.

    With claims that “Nearly half of all homeowners” believe “x”, and “Roughly three-fourths of all homeowners” say “y” the piece is a dizzying array of click bait. The main problem with the assertions in general was the lack of any qualifier, such as saying all homeowners “surveyed”, which was only about 1,400. Instead they just say “all”. From that 1,400+ surveyed they determined 12.1 million plan to sell their homes, 16% of those will sell in the next 18 months, 44% of THOSE say they now intend to sell sooner than they planned, and so on… and on… and on. 

    All that to say, it was a good reminder that much of what we see in the headlines needs to be both qualified for quality of data, AND translated against our own local market conditions. 
  3. D.C. Market Bucking The Trends… As Usual
    Despite the soapbox moment above, that piece’s report that many homeowners feel like there are more options for buyers than before is likely accurate. Nationally there is over 4 months worth of housing supply, a number that starts to tilt things toward a buyers market. As is often the case, there is significant evidence the D.C. Area market is bucking national trends yet again. While the national number is on the rise, inventory locally continues to be snug.

    Coming out of April the D.C. Metro area had just 1.8 months of supply. The May data has not yet been released, but as I write this Arlington County has 350 homes under contract and just 273 homes available for a supply of just .78 months. Fairfax County isn’t exactly languishing at 1.02 months of supply. 

  4. Now For Some Fun
    There are failed attempts at creative real estate videos all the time, but try NOT to watch this one all the way through! Yes, this is a real marketing video, but “You don’t care”!

 


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4 Point Friday (4/26) – Eye Candy, Spring Back, The Shop, TED Founder

  1. A Different Kind of Eye Candy
    I often say, you can only sell what you have. Granted, when I say that I’m generally referring to things that aren’t changeable or easily changeable, such as location, bedroom count, etc… This bit of eye candy takes the “sell what you have” mantra to the next level, and slightly out of context. They are trending on Twitter though, so the listing won’t sit for lack of marketing exposure. 

    There is a stager somewhere who could get some pretty amazing before and after shots.

  2. Spring Market Update
    Coming out of the Easter Weekend the pace of sales took a notable turn downward. Perhaps it is a short term chocolate hangover? I certainly expect things to pick back up as we move into May.

    FAIRFAX COUNTY, FAIRFAX CITY, ARLINGTON, CITY OF FALLS CHURCH, CITY OF ALEXANDRIA:
    CONTRACTS LAST 6 DAYS: 436     LAST WEEK     571
           • Active 10 Days Or Less: 222     LAST WEEK     386
           • Active 30 Days Or Less: 373     LAST WEEK     508

    MONTGOMERY COUNTY:
    CONTRACTS LAST 6 DAYS: 257     LAST WEEK      334
           • Active 10 Days Or Less:   97     LAST WEEK      165
           • Active 30 Days Or Less: 186     LAST WEEK      257

    THE DISTRICT:
    CONTRACTS LAST 6 DAYS: 178     LAST WEEK       237
           • Active 10 Days Or Less:   71     LAST WEEK       135
           • Active 30 Days Or Less: 126     LAST WEEK       200
  3. “Makerspace” Opens @ Arlington Central Library 
    We are pretty spoiled in the DC Area when it comes to entertaining kids on a rainy day. However, not all of those options come without a price tag, and when you are family of 6, like us, those rainy day activity costs can start to add up. As such, we are keen to keep track of the free options out there.

    “The Shop” Arlington County Public Libraries new makerspace is now one such free option. The space gives ready access to wood working tools, 3D printers, soldering irons, circuit parts and Raspberry Pi for coding projects, Wacom tablets and pens, Cameo cutters, sewing machines, and more.

    Our crew loves getting into the fray with projects and using tools, so we are looking forward to checking this one out! 

  4. Quote I Came Across This Week – Geared Toward College Age or Early Career

     “For a while, it’s just fine to follow and support someone else’s dream. In so doing, you will be building valuable relationships, and valuable knowledge. And at some point your passion will come and whisper in your ear, ‘I’m ready.'”
    – CHRIS ANDERSON (TED Founder)

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4 Point Friday (4/19) – 675 SqFt For 6, Spring Update, Goldilocks, G.W. Carver

  1. 675 Square Feet… For a Family of 6
    No, that number isn’t missing a zero. This family has made their 675 sqft Pittsburgh apartment (that’s right! we’re not even talking about New York here!) work for them for the last 16 years, and they have no plans to change it.

  2. Spring Market Update
    One note about this week’s update. It has been Spring Break for many, so the market activity has persisted despite that being the case. Easter weekend tends to bring a bit of calm to the market, but I expect the next couple weeks we’ll see the Spring market switch into top gear.

    FAIRFAX COUNTY, FAIRFAX CITY, ARLINGTON, CITY OF FALLS CHURCH, CITY OF ALEXANDRIA:
    CONTRACTS LAST 6 DAYS: 571     LAST WEEK     547
           • Active 10 Days Or Less: 386     LAST WEEK     366
           • Active 30 Days Or Less: 508     LAST WEEK     474

    MONTGOMERY COUNTY:
    CONTRACTS LAST 6 DAYS: 334     LAST WEEK      301
           • Active 10 Days Or Less: 165     LAST WEEK      167
           • Active 30 Days Or Less: 264     LAST WEEK      237

    THE DISTRICT:
    CONTRACTS LAST 6 DAYS: 237     LAST WEEK       213
           • Active 10 Days Or Less: 135     LAST WEEK       113
           • Active 30 Days Or Less: 200     LAST WEEK       163
  3. While National Inventory Climbs DC Area Continues to Tighten 
    A recent Washington Post article highlighted some national trends, included a general increase in inventory, and increases in average days on market. As is often the case the DC Area is operating to a bit of a different rhythm. This is not to say that every home is selling over night for thousands over asking price, but the charts below clearly show a continued trend downward in our inventory that goes beyond mere seasonal shifts.

    NOTE: In March, Fairfax and Arlington Counties had “New Pending” sales exceed end of month “Active” listings for the first time in over 3 years. In both cases it was actually the first time since April 2013, a year that represents our current 10 year low for overall inventory. 





  4. Quote I Came Across This Week

     “No individual has any right to come into the world and go out of it without leaving behind him distinct and legitimate reasons for having passed through it.”
    – GEORGE WASHINGTON CARVER

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4 Point Friday (4/12) – Homes of Augusta, Spring Update, SpaceX, Bakeshop

  1. It’s Masters Weekend, A Great Time to List a Home In AugustaSometimes when you try to time the market with a home sale, special events nearby can be a great target. When that event is one of the biggest golf tournaments of the year AND that tournament happens during the peak Spring market you might have a golden combination on your hands. These folks outside of Augusta are certainly hoping the Masters being in town will finally help them sell their home after an unsuccessful attempt last year. I do have to say, they might have an easier time if they included some photos.On a more local level, major event weekends such as Memorial Day in Falls Church, or the 4th of July in Vienna can be great times to capitalize on bigger crowds coming through town. For instance, a home on the parade route with an amazing front porch may be hard to resist that day, while it may be overlooked as being on a busy street on any other day, so being on the market for parade day could actually be a crucial element to a successful sale. Add to the appeal by giving out free hot dogs and drinks, and hosting an ongoing open house for pre-approved buyers. 

  2. Spring Market UpdateThis week most of the numbers below continued to grow. In case you’re wondering, key inventory gaps in the market are detached homes $575k-$750k in Fairfax County (22042 is particularly sparse), and $950k – $1.35m in Falls Church and Arlington. If that fits the description of someone you know who has had any thoughts of selling I would love to talk with them. I’m not one to rush folks, but the data showing why they shouldn’t wait is very clear.FAIRFAX COUNTY, FAIRFAX CITY, ARLINGTON, CITY OF FALLS CHURCH, CITY OF ALEXANDRIA:CONTRACTS LAST 6 DAYS:  547     LAST WEEK     516            Active 10 Days Or Less:    366     LAST WEEK     334           • Active 30 Days Or Less:     474     LAST WEEK     451 MONTGOMERY COUNTY:CONTRACTS LAST 6 DAYS: 301     LAST WEEK      290           • Active 10 Days Or Less:        167     LAST WEEK      141       • Active 30 Days Or Less:        237     LAST WEEK      212THE DISTRICT:CONTRACTS LAST 6 DAYS: 213     LAST WEEK       225        • Active 10 Days Or Less: 113     LAST WEEK       101       • Active 30 Days Or Less: 163     LAST WEEK       167
  3. SpaceX Did It! All those failed landings paid off last night as SpaceX, after their second launch of their Falcon Heavy rocket, successfully landed both side boosters AND, for the first time, the mission’s center core. I don’t know about you all, but I still get goose bumps when I see this! The video is cued up for just before the booster landing, but if you have time I would go back to the 19:00 minute mark and watch the full launch!

  4. Bakeshop Buzz in Falls ChurchEvidently, if I really wanted to generate a buzz for my business here in town I should switch to selling cookies and treats! Bakeshop opened the doors for their new Falls Church City location this week and pretty much everyone has been talking about it, and/or already gone. Well! Today I ventured in, and (eventually) made it back home with some amazing goodies for the kiddos to enjoy when they get off the bus!  Bakeshop: 100 E. Fairfax St. Falls Church, VA 22046    ••••••••••••

4 Point Friday – Outfield House, Market Update, All The Babies, Useless Door

  1. Designing A Home In The Outfield… of The San Francisco Giants?Yes, when you’re the closer for the San Francisco Giants, and you’re making millions to throw 15 pitches a night not only do you get to design your own villa in Mexico but you get to run through the floor plans in the outfield of San Francisco’s Oracle Park.

  2. Spring Market UpdateAs we continue to get deeper in to the spring market I thought I would continue to track these 10 and 30 day numbers for a few more weeks.FAIRFAX COUNTY, FAIRFAX CITY, ARLINGTON, CITY OF FALLS CHURCH, CITY OF ALEXANDRIA:CONTRACTS LAST 6 DAYS: 516     LAST WEEK     524       • Active 10 Days Or Less: 334     LAST WEEK     299       • Active 30 Days Or Less: 451     LAST WEEK     437MONTGOMERY COUNTY:CONTRACTS LAST 6 DAYS: 290     LAST WEEK      273       • Active 10 Days Or Less: 141     LAST WEEK      129       • Active 30 Days Or Less: 212     LAST WEEK      218THE DISTRICT:CONTRACTS LAST 6 DAYS: 225     LAST WEEK       228       • Active 10 Days Or Less: 101     LAST WEEK       100       • Active 30 Days Or Less: 167     LAST WEEK       170
  3. It’s The Babies, Not AmazonThe buzz around the Amazon HQ2 move picked up steam this week as the company formally signed a real estate deal with JBG Smith to lease and develop space in Crystal City. The move has also come upon some false accusations, or false credit, depending on how you look at it.A tightening real estate market with prices increasing notably in some places has been credited to the Amazon move, but the view from the inside suggests a different trend is afoot. Meeting low inventory is an influx of purchases from millennials and young families (many also millennials) jumping out of the rental market and into home ownership. The trend happens to be occurring in tandem with the Amazon announcement, but outside of the immediate area around Crystal City, the market impacts are not likely correlated. As a tiny slice of anecdotal evidence, one open house I dropped into recently was absolutely swarmed with people. Not uncommon in and of itself. The notable difference was that easily 80% of the people coming and going were families in their early to mid 30’s, with one child. Thus my theory, it’s the babies, and not Amazon that is currently driving the market. And those babies are being met with a tight inventory, in part because the baby-boomers aren’t moving.

  4. This Door Is Totally Useless, But Cool

 


4 Point Friday – 20 for 4, Online Renovations, $600 Lamp, Trees as Fast As Us?
  1. $20m Build Sells For $4m In Fairfax County
    When talking with clients about what upgrades to make in a home a lot of that discussion centers around how long they plan to live there, ie, how much are we talking about resale value vs. personal enjoyment over time. Well, this home in Clifton offers up an extreme example of building a home for personal enjoyment and sense of quality, but not being able to get the return on investment. After a $20,000,000 construction price tag (and that was 15 years ago), it just closed for $4.6m on March 1st.As stated in the article, if there was something these folks could do well, or really really well, they went with really really well. Often times those measures are difficult to convince the next owner to pay for. So, again, extreme example, but some take aways none the less!

Order And Finance Renovation Projects Online
In a partnership between online home renovation platform, Remodelmate, and online lender SoFi, customers can now go online, choose the home renovation they want, and then finance that renovation in the same online session. Well, two online sessions, but I’ll get to that.

Fittingly for SoFi, which was founded as a student loan engine, the target market for this new partnership are millennials, who, strapped for cash due to high student loan balances, are having to buy fixer uppers when it comes to putting a roof over their head.

Now, I did a test run, and I do need to say that it’s technically two sessions. The first is a quick synopsis of what you want to do, how much you want to spend, and your timeframe. Then you are prompted to provide your information to receive quotes. Upon receiving those quotes you can then go back in, choose your quote, and then go through SoFi for the financing of the job.

  1. Indoor Daylight From Dyson, For A Small FeeThe worlds favorite vacuum and fan maker has just gone beyond their offering of things that inhale and exhale, and has now moved on to things that illuminate. Not only that, the new Dyson task lamp is purported to be the closest thing to natural light that you can achieve indoors.LightCycle, released just yesterday, is not resembling the brightness of natural light, but rather mimics the cycle of light throughout the day. The idea is to expose its owners to indoor light that works more in tandem with their natural daily rhythms that are based upon the suns light. Now, this $600 lamp is not the end all be all for the solution. It’s just one lamp after all, but could a day where we have our Nest thermostat, Ring Doorbell, and Dyson smart lights be coming down the road? Most certainly. And you’ll be able to vacuum your way to a better nights rest all the while… or let your Roomba do it while you sleep. 

Two Quotes For The WeekendEverybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul” John Muir“I never saw a discontented tree. They grip the ground as though they liked it, and though fast rooted they travel about as far as we do.”John Muir

 

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4 Point Friday (3/8) – Floating Houses, CGI Listing Photos, Brady Reno!, Arlington Going Tiny?
  1. And You Thought YOU Had a Water Problem!

It’s not secret that 2018 into early 2019 has been a wet time for the DC area. With 2018 going down as the wettest on record for the area, homes all over have experienced water problems, many of which had no previous issues.

So forgive me if I did a double take when I saw this “floating house” project in Amsterdam! Perhaps we’re looking at our world of sump-pumps and french drains all wrong. This piece had me wondering what we might learn from these designs that could be applicable (and not cost prohibitive) here on dry land to help keep intruding water at bay.

  1. A Home With a Pool*  *Pool Available Online Only 😉

If you thought you didn’t like those photos with fisheye lenses that make it look like a house is made of lifesize snowglobes, or the photos that make a tiny room look huge, then wait until you get a glimpse of the next home photo trend.

Computer generated staging is something that’s been available for a handful of years now, but now things are going to a whole new level. Not only are some agents and owners digitally adding pools where there is not one, they are depicting full, not actually completed renovations, complete with removed walls, computer generate flooring and fixtures, and more! [computer generated interiors and staging.

It’s one thing to offer these graphics up at the open house to show a home’s hidden potential, but imagine having these as the photos you see online, and then walking through the door. While this practice is likely to be short lived, I couldn’t resist sharing.

  1. Brady House Restoration, Yes, THAT Brady House

Okay, actually no. Not THAT, 30 time Super Bowl Champion, Brady. The surviving cast of the Brady Bunch has teamed up with the Property Brothers to “restore” the original Brady home, which had hit the market sometime last year. The restoration is a major mountain to climb because, well, it wasn’t the Brady house, it was simply the home used for the exterior shot.


The episode will air later this year. However, in the meantime you might be able to help the team! It turns out, vintage decor from the era has been more difficult to come by than expected, so they are looking to fans to help
bridge the gap.

  1. Tiny Houses Coming to Arlington Backyards?

I have long daydreamed about one day adding a backyard home office worthy of the pages of Dwell Magazine. Looks like residents in Arlington County may soon be able to move from daydreaming to actual installation as officials in Arlington are looking to loosen the rules around Accessory Dwelling Units.


The hope is that open the ADU option up will help alleviate some of the affordability issues in Arlington. While some are convinced this will just become an AirBnb revenue stream, the expectation, I assume, is that these space will allow for cheap rentals.

I personally assume these will indeed be AirBnb hot spots, OR simply accessory property elements enjoyed by the owners.

 

4 Point Friday (2/15) – Oops – Amazon Out, Assessments, Quit Your Job to Build Tiny Houses…

  1. Oops, Should Have Passed on Those Condos: Amazon Out in NYC

The day Amazon announce their 2 HQ2 locations investors snapped up all the condos in the proposed New York neighborhood by any means they could. Sales were being conducted sight unseen via text message even before the official announcement back in November. Amazon pulling out of the New York deal will doubtlessly leave many of those investors behind on their equity, and finding it more difficult to fill vacant units with tenants. Developers with projects underway in the neighborhood are also reeling this week as the previously disinterested buyer market will now return to their previous levels of indifference.

What will this mean for us here in the DC area? Despite speculation on many fronts no one knows for sure. I personally suspect that wherever Amazon goes from here with their plans it will be done relatively quietly. For our purposes today, I will say this; People continue to overhype the direct impact Amazon will have here, and this week’s news has taken that hype up a couple of notches. If pulling out of NYC means more of those jobs come here, we likely won’t know that happened until after the fact, which means a good 10 years or so before we can reflect and know how that has influenced the area.

Not something to go buy condos sight-unseen over. If you want to thoughtfully explore investments in the “National Landing” footprint, let me know, but we can do so with calm consideration.


  1. TRENDING: Property Assessments Up In Several Locations

Property tax bills in several jurisdictions have been hitting mailboxes and the numbers so far indicate that assessed values are on the rise area wide.

Arlington County: Overall residential assessed values are up 2.9%. Though the tax rate itself was reduced by .87¢ per $1,000, the shift in assessment values will bring in more in overall tax dollars.

Falls Church City: Similarly, residential assessed values in the City are up 2.93% according to a press release issued on Wednesday this week.. Over 30% of the increase is attributed to new construction. Condominiums saw that largest assessment increase, with a value jump of just under 5%. The FCC tax rate for 2019 is $1.355 per $100.

City of Alexandria: After going back down for a year, 50% of the housing market in Alexandria is again valued over $500,000. The residential assessments increased by 2.01% according to a city news release.

More about Fairfax County assessments will be known next week, as property tax bills are set to be mailed out on the 20th.


  1. Quit Your Job and Build “Tiny” Houses… Online?

Fast Company recently brought to light a new crop of YouTube stars who are quitting their jobs and taking their hobby to the masses online. The hobby? Building elaborate tiny houses in The Sims: A virtual world where players control the lives of animated characters.

It’s true, some of these “home designers” have gather such a large audience that they are making more money off of the hobby than they were at their jobs, so they are now building these virtual homes full time.



  1. As “Signs” of Spring Arise, How’s The Market So Far?

When you’re a Realtor you notice when real estate sign posts start to crop up more often, and that was the case this week. I’ve begun to see that pre-spring trickle of new homes onto the market that we often get in February. Not overwhelming, but noticeable. The possible advantage of being on the market now is that there isn’t much competition, so it can pay off to come on early.

A quick look back at January tells us these folks may indeed reap the benefits. Region wide better than 60% of the homes that came on the market after January 1st were under contract by the close of the month. Not bad for what is typically one of the slowest months of the the year in real estate.

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4 Point Friday (2/8) – Scout on The Circle, “Nappuccinos”, Seller Seminar, “WHEN” Quotes
  1. Scout on The Circle: Fairfax Project I’m Watching

After a multi-year delay, the Scout on The Circle mixed use project near Fairfax Circle is finally underway, and not only that, it seems to be moving along at a rapid clip.

While our kids miss feeding the coy fish at the old Hudson Trail Outfitters, the new project certainly stands to add quite a bit more value to the surrounding developments, while providing reasonable Metro access to it’s own future residents.

Across Rt. 50 Foxcroft Colony Condominiums, built in the 1960’s stands to see some of the biggest impact. Values there have been relatively flat since the early housing recovery, and some owners are still below, or barely reaching their peak market purchase values of ‘06, ‘07, and ’08. For their sakes I’m hoping the project finally gets them above water and allows anyone struggling to get some financial breathing room.

The project will also help to solidify investments in nearby new developments such as Metro Row by NV Homes, and Metro West by Pulte.

  1. Coffee Naps: Why You, And Your Next Pilot, Should Take Them

“As for me, after a few months of experimenting with twenty-minute afternoon naps, I’ve converted. I’ve gone from nap detractor to nap devotee, from someone ashamed to nap to someone who relishes the coffee-then-nap combination known as the “nappuccino.”

– Daniel H. Pink – When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing

It was about 5 years ago I would guess. Our twins were still under a year old, and we were still in the throws of long nights, and full days of juggling our crew of 6.

It was after lunch, and the twins were down for their nap.

I was exhausted.

I wanted coffee, badly.

I wanted a nap, badly.

It so happened we had one of those Starbucks DoubleShot cans in the fridge for some reason, so I grabbed it. Downed it. And hit the couch.

About 20-30 minutes later I woke up, sat up straight and said out loud, “WHOA! I feel amazing!” Thus I had stumbled upon the “coffee nap”.

Thinking I had made some hot new discovery, I… kept it to myself, because, again, we were tired and short on time. As it turns out the increasingly en vogue “nappuccino”, is not actually a new concept. As far back as the late 90’s (I know, SOOO far back) studies had shown that a “coffee nap” was better than a coffee, or a nap by themselves.

Skeptical? Consider a couple of these reference points from the same book quoted above…

“One well-known NASA study, for instance, found that pilots who napped for up to forty minutes subsequently showed a 34 percent improvement in reaction time and a twofold increase in alertness.”

“In another experiment, nappers were twice as likely to solve complex problems than people who hadn’t napped or who had spent the time in other activities.”

So, the question is; The next time you get on plane, need surgery, head to the courtroom (hopefully never, unless YOU are the attorney), get investment advice, or (perhaps) have someone putting a for sale sign in your yard, who do you want in your corner?

Amateur Tip: On days when a coffee nap is in order (ie, I have a big plate of items to get done, have evening meetings, or had a bad/short night’s sleep) I prefer going for a straight forward double espresso before closing my eyes. Worth noting, the more I need to get done, or the more intense the pending negotiation, the more likely I am to carve out this time.

NOTE: Lest I miss-represent Mr. Pink’s work, the book “WHEN” is not 200 pages about the benefits of napping. It is, however, a fascinating study in human rhythms, and timing of daily things like when you should hold meetings, when kids should take tests, and the more macro study of larger life events. My favorite of his books since A Whole New Mind.

  1. REMINDER: February Home Owner Seminar: Preparing for a Successful Sale in 2019

As a reminder, on Sunday the 23rd of February I, and one of my home staging partners will be conducting a home seller seminar for those interested in selling a home in 2019, or beyond.

I’ll be presenting at 10am that Saturday alongside my event partner and go-to stager Leigh Newport of Staged by Design. We’ll cover…

  • How to set expectations (Price, preparations, net proceeds, etc…)

  • How to put time, energy, and money to their best use ahead of the listing

  • To stage or Not to stage (and what to do if you don’t)

  • Value vs. Detriment of Pre-Inspections

  • Timing the market,

  • And much more….

This seminar will provide a great way for folks who have not selected an agent to get a meaningful head-start on their home preparations. It’s being held in Falls Church, and is tied into my local marketing here, but all are welcome! You can also catch the promo video here.

  1. More From Daniel Pink: Quotes From “When”

As I mentioned above. The Book “When” is about much more than Nappuccinos. Here are a couple more quotes to give you a taste. Also, if you weren’t aware, Dan Pink is actually a fellow DC Area resident…

“…research has shown that time-of-day can explain 20 percent of the variance in human performance on cognitive undertakings.”

“Like beginnings and midpoints, endings quietly steer what we do and how we do it. Indeed, endings of all kinds–of experiences, projects, semesters, negotiations, stages of life–shape our behavior in four predictable ways. They help us energize. They help us encode. They help us edit. And they help us elevate.”

SAMPLES:

  • 48% of 1st time marathoners have a “9” in their age. 29, 39, 49, 59, etc… Someone who is 49 is 3 times more likely to run a marathon than someone who is 48.

  • A short procedure that ends painfully is remembered as being worse than a longer, more painful procedure that ends more pleasantly.

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4 Point Friday (2/1)- Seller Seminar, Built-In Magic, RC Renovation, Hot Winter Market?

  1. February Home Owner Seminar: Preparing for a Successful Sale in 2019

If someone you know is looking to sell a home in 2019 please have them consider coming to our home seller seminar on the 23rd of this month. Preparing to sell a home involves an important web of questions, decisions, and effort. Moving forward without the guidance of a local expert can cost time, energy, and money that could have been used better elsewhere, or sometimes not at all.

I’ll be presenting at 10am that Saturday alongside my event partner and go-to stager Leigh Newport of Staged by Design. We’ll cover…

  • How to prepare expectations

  • To stage or Not to stage (and what to do if you don’t)

  • Value vs. Detriment of Pre-Inspections

  • Timing the market,

  • And much more….

This seminar will provide a great way for folks who have not selected an agent to get a meaningful head-start on their home preparations. It’s being held in Falls Church, and is tied into my local marketing here, but all are welcome! You can also catch the promo video here.


  1. Built-In Inspiration To Help Make The Most of Your Space

Even the most capacious of homes can use some help with efficiency of space sometimes. For many of us in this area of high prices and nooks and crannies, making unique and/or smaller spaces work in ideal fashion for our lifestyles and interests can be a challenge.

I recently came across this architect in New York who specialises in solving such dilemmas, creating built in pieces that bring form, function, beauty, and subsequently, value, to spaces of all kinds. Check out some of these jobs and, who knows, maybe you’ll see a solution to a space related problem you didn’t know you had!



  1. A Basement Excavation Method For The Kid In You.

If you have some extra time during the next polar vortex (and a iron clad marriage) you might be tempted to try this…

Found Via. Mashable: This particular gentleman (apparently one of many on YouTube), has spent years excavating his basement. Why years? Because he is doing so with the use of Remote Control (RC) equipment. That’s right, he pulls up a lawn chair, a couple remotes, and kills a couple hours at time.

So, if you have a bit of vision, and some free time, who’s to say what you might be able to accomplish in the next, say, 5 years!


  1. New Years Market Moving Right Along

Despite the reputation for the winter months as a slow time for home sales, it hasn’t been too bad for newly listed homes, or homes relisting at a lower price.

Nearly 60% of all homes listed since January 1st in the following locations have gone under contract by now.

THOSE JURISDICTIONS INCLUDE:

  • Fairfax County

  • Arlington County

  • City of Alexandria

  • City of Fairfax

  • City of Falls Church

  • Montgomery County

  • District of Columbia

These areas combined for a total of 3,048 new listings since January, 1. Of those 1,794 are already under contract. Here’s the value breakdown by percentage of market share…

  • $1m+ = 15% Market Share

  • $500k – $999k = 39% Market Share

  • $499k and Below = 45% Market Share

So, while the majority of the area’s market activity has centered around affordable units and investment properties, the $1m+ market has fared pretty well too.


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4 Point Friday (1/25) – $238m Home, Best Home Improvements, Cutdown Shutdown…

  1. Come On Down! For a Mere $238m This Penthouse Could Have Been Yours!

$o, the most expensive home in U.S. history sold this week for a meager $238,000,000. I have to say, I’m sorry you missed your chance. I’ll do better next time.

Your chance for what, exactly? Let’s assume this was possible under normal 20% down standards…

You would have needed $47,600,000 for your down payment (closing costs not included), and your monthly payment for a 30 year fixed rate loan at a 5% interest rate would be about $1,220,000 per month. That’s before insurance and any condo or coop fees.

So, why the big purchase? He wanted a good place to stay when in New York working from his hedge fund’s new office in town. You’ll see in the article, this is not the billionaire’s first purchase of this kind, just the largest… so far. Though you didn’t get to buy this one, maybe you can find it on Airbnb when he’s not in town. 😉


Oh, and for an insiders look, if there was a 6% commission attached that would have come to $14,280,000. So the next time you need to sell your $200m property be sure to give me a call!

For Non WSJ Subscribers a PDF of The Article is Attached



  1. ATTACHED: 2019’s Best Home Improvement Projects For Resale Value

Remodeling Magazine’s annual Cost vs. Value Report may be one of the most referenced reports around when it comes to preparing a home for sale. Problem is, there is a national report, then reports by region require handing over your first born child in order to access. For your sake I made up a pretend child, and accessed a PDF copy of the Washington DC area report for you all, which is attached alongside the above article.

Caveat: This is data gathered from just a selection of agents. The best agent, on their best day can only guess which portion of a sales price could be attributed to a specific variable. Nonetheless, this report can provide SOME guidance on where to focus your efforts if renovating ahead of a near-term home sale (near-term meaning 3 months to 5 years).



  1. “Cutdown Shutdown 2.0” Free Haircuts AGAIN For Furloughed Employees This Sunday

Our favorite barber is doing it again.  The Neighborhood Barbershop in Falls Church will be holding their second “Cutdown Shutdown” this Sunday the 27th from 12p-8p. Furloughed government employees can come in with a valid government ID and get themselves a free haircut. So, if you or someone you know is getting a bit shaggy on top, or long in the beard, come give this tattooed tribe of clipper wielders a visit.

The one change this time is they are asking that the event be for the employees only, and not include children.



  1. A Couple Quotes to Ponder

Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened.

– Winston Churchill

Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities because it has been said, it is the quality which guarantees all others.

– Winston Churchill

 

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4 Point Friday – Marie Kondo, “Spring Market” Myths, Village of… Castles?

  1. Oh The Controversies… Yep. Bringing Up Marie Kondo This Week.

I don’t believe this is the first I’ve brought up Marie Kondo, I’m pretty sure I quoted from her book in the letters/informational items I used to send. However, now that her show is on Netflix and public outcry/support is on hyperdrive I couldn’t resist!

As the dust settles from folks angrily kicking over the piles books they want to keep like a guitarist kicking over his amp I wanted to make good use of all the press. Note: I was definitely like, “30 books? You mean 30 more bins for storing books, right?” We are pretty minimalist in our house, but the books stay. 🙂

As a Realtor I am thankful for the new Netflix series! Now when I meet folks who need to prepare their home for sale, but don’t know where to start with their depersonalizing (I never call it decluttering), I can ask them to go through the Tidying Up series and use that as a fun(ish) guide! 😉


  1. Ideal Spring Selling Window is Much Smaller than People Think

Sell in Spring they said. The buyers will come they promised. – While homes sell throughout the year, it is common knowledge that the Spring Market presents the most ideal time to put a home on the market. This isn’t just a market myth, the data supports this fact. HOWEVER, when you really break down the numbers they reveal a surprising small ideal window of opportunity.

The ideal window can vary by specific locality, but in each case it tends to be about 4-6 weeks long. For instance, in Fairfax County they ideal Spring window tends to start sometime in late March, then by early May inventory get’s a bit too high. In the City of Falls Church this window is from about mid April, to mid May. And so on throughout the area.

So what makes for an ideal window? In short, this is the brief time each year where Pending Sales are on the rise (ie, buyers are getting more active), yet listing inventory hasn’t yet peaked. When inventory finally does peak in mid to late May, into June, buyer activity has typically started to taper off. SO, if folks are really trying, and are reasonably able, to set up for the ideal time to sell a home, it can be worth digging a little deeper than simply the “Spring Market”.


  1. Abandoned Village of… Castles?

This massive stalled construction project in Turkey doesn’t even look real. Over the past couple decades the economy in Turkey had been booming, and home construction projects followed suit. Now, however, the economy is slowing, leaving many projects in limbo, including this one, a $203m village of unfinished castle like villas called Burj Al Babas. They were literally building the entire thing all at once. This striking (and real) photo shows the 700 not yet completed, not yet occupied homes.



  1. Since We Are On The Subject… Some Quotes To Ponder

“The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.”

– Marie Kondo: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

“The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.”

– Marie Kondo: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

 

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4 Point Friday (1/11) – Shutdown Hair Cuts, LEGO Renovations, Be Fearless…

 

  1. “Shutdown Cutdown” Free Haircuts For Furloughed Employees This Sunday

If you or someone you know is starting to look a little shaggy during the shutdown our go to barber, The Neighborhood Barbershop in Falls Church is offering free haircuts to furloughed employees during their “Shutdown Cutdown” this Sunday the 13th from 12pm till they drop. Just bring your federal ID and your good to go! Salon volunteers will be in house as well, so it is an event for men, women, and children!

Catch the plug for them on NBC4!


  1. Looking for A Major Outdoor Upgrade in Time For Spring?

If you think you might be ready to make some outdoor upgrades to enjoy this Spring and Summer there is still time! It could be finally getting that deck or patio installed, or you might be looking at a total reworking of your outdoor space. Either way I thought I would send along some inspiration…

For our purposes today, I am going to shoot the moon, and you can take it upon yourselves to bring any potential projects back down to earth… or not!

Looking for a contractor to work with for your plans? Here is an impressive before and after from Percellville based Amazing Earth Landscapes that I came across yesterday…


  1. A Functional Home Lego Installation You’ve Got to See

I’m not hip enough to know who “Zedd” is, but I get the impression he’s famous somehow. Whatever his status in the world, he has just had the most awesome home add on your 10 year old self could imagine. Follow the link to see this amazing LEGO pilar that includes several completed “scenes”, complete with functioning light switches, and scene control. A. Mazing.



  1. A Shameless Plug

For months my wife, Louise, has been on the front lines of helping her boss, Jean Case, get her first book to the finish line. Be Fearless hit the shelves this week, so in honor of the release, and all the hard work that has gone into it here’s a quick blurb that represents one of many inspiring lines I’ve read so far, plus a bit of what others are saying about the book!

From the first space shuttle launch (Columbia) in 1981:

“At the moment of the launch, there was an incredibly loud rumble, along with a distinct feeling that the very ground beneath my feet might give way. I felt it in my bones. Watching the sleek shuttle rise into the air, I was deeply conscious that it heldt the fates of living astronauts, whose personal courage was beyond anything I’d ever imagined. I remember thinking, “If they can do this, what can I do?”

– Jean Case – Be Fearless

“Big, audacious ideas become a reality by taking a thousand small steps. What often seems impossible at the start becomes more plausible with each new action taken toward the goal.”

– Jean Case – Be Fearless

What People Are Saying About the Book:

“If you want to change the world, it helps to be fearless. And if you need a dose of courage, I recommend this powerful collection of stories, evidence, and optimism. Jean Case draws on research and personal experience to provide changemakers with moral support and practical guidance.”

– Melinda Gates


••••••••••

1/4/19

Happy New Year everyone! Hope you all had a great set of Holidays! I ran into several folks yesterday who felt like they were ready for a break from the break, and were looking forward to some recovery over the weekend! 🙂

A quick note before the 4 Points. While the Spring housing market as a whole goes from about mid March, to early June, the ideal pocket is much smaller and generally goes from mid April to mid May. That is where the balance of buyer activity and inventory tends to be best for owners, and quality of options best for buyers. 
If you know anyone who hopes to hit that sweet spot this year, now (well, before now) is the time to start preparing. If they don’t have an agent to help them set up for success I would love the opportunity to jump in and see if we’re a good fit! #4kids-in-college-before-we-know-it.
 
4 Point Friday (1/4) – Shutdown, Expiration Day, DOM, & an Old Quote
  1. Government Shutdown Impact on Housing

A short government shutdown has a minimal impact for most. There can even be a bit of a “snow day” element to it. However, with a median savings amount of $4,830, and 30% of Americans having $1,000 or less in savings, a 2+ week shutdown can have a significant impact. Many can quickly transition from cash reserves to relying on credit cards for basic needs. When the rent or mortgage come due (this week for most) things can really get scary for folks pretty quickly.

That is one side. Another potential impact point can be government employees in the process of trying to purchase a home. Regular income is a critical element of loan qualification. If a shutdown lasts long enough, employees in the midst of a loan application could have trouble getting to final underwriter approval due to their interruption in income.

I’m not suggesting this would have a significant impact on the housing market itself, but that has real potential impact for government employees who may be under contract on a home.


  1. Expiration Day: The Market Reduction from 12/30-1/2

As you all know I have been tracking area inventory as we approached the end of the year. Now that we have crossed “Expiration Day” how are things looking? What is Expiration Day? Well, it is actually a handful of days. It is essentially December 30th through January 2nd, a time when many listing agreements are set to expire. This time around, in Arlington, Fairfax, and Montgomery Counties, as well as Washington, DC 1,035 homes fell into this category. That is out of 1,340 total homes that expired from December 1st to now.

Often times expired listings will return to the market the next day, but under a new MLS number. Thus far it seems very few from the New Year’s batch have done so. Notable, but not necessarily a surprise based on the time of year. Many of those homes will end up representing our first batch of “Spring” inventory, likely in early to mid March.


  1. Days On Market Reset Change that Impacts Expiration Day

For owners who reach the above mentioned “Expiration Day” milestone there are some key decisions to be made. Do you turn right around and put the home back on the market? Or, do you wait until the MLS resets the days on market, make some changes in the meantime and try again later?

A key change within the new BrightMLS system has a significant impact on this decision. It used to be that a home had to be off the market for 90 days before the days on market would return to 0. Now a home needs just 60 days idle before it can return to the market with a 0 days count.

While waiting 3 months to go back on the market could be panic inducing, 2 months is much more palatable as folks make those decisions. In that time they can make updates based on common buyer feedback, consider whether to stay the course with their existing agent or hire another, even decide whether they may want to look into renting the home rather than selling it.


  1. Favorite Quote That Recently Resurfaced

To be nobody-but-yourself — in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else — means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.”

– E.E. Cummings – A Miscellany Revised


Have a great weekend!

 

 

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4 Point Friday (12/28) – New Year, Mary Poppins, Inventory Dropping, Dream House…

  1. Happy New Year! How Will You Ring it In?

There’s no shortage of ways to ring in the New Year in the DC Area. What are your New Year’s Eve plans? While big celebrations like the National Harbor’s Big Night DC are a little much for our family, we may head out for some of the family friendly activities at Falls Church City’s Watch Night.


If you are still making your plans, you might browse this list of area events. it’s the most comprehensive list I’ve found.


  1. Mary Poppins Returns… Practically Perfect In Every Way

If you’re looking for a family friendly film to see during the remaining days of winter break we can’t recommend Mary Poppins Returns strongly enough. Our whole crew soaked it in with smiles on their faces nearly the whole time! It was fun, uplifting, and a satisfying nod to the first, while also being a film that could stand on its own. It is doubtless a break out performance for Emily Blunt.


  1. End of Year Inventory Reduction Picks up Speed

As expected, inventory has started to decline as we exit the Christmas Season and head into the New Year. A fair share of that attrition has come from listings expiring or being withdrawn. However, it can be surprising to see how much of that reduction can come in the form of actual home sales, even during the Holiday Season.


Since December 1st about 30% of available homes have gone under contract. Over the last 4 or 5 years or so a 20-30% sales rate has been the norm in December, so by recent historical standards it has been a relatively strong performance here in 2018.


There are several reasons to avoid trying to sell a home during the Holiday Season, however, if it becomes necessary to do so, it is not necessarily an impossible task.


  1. Home of The Week: An Appalachian Day Dream

This 50 acre retreat in the Appalachian hills of Markham, VA may be enough to get you packing boxes and calling the movers! Or, if you have $1.1m laying around, perhaps this could make for an amazing second home.


Do a little day dreaming and vicarious relaxing as you give this gorgeous 4 bedroom estate with pond, views, and more a browse!

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4 Point Friday (12/14) – Inventory Problem?, Heating Recs, My Fav Planner, etc…

  1. December Inventory Up, but Abnormal?

At the moment December housing inventory is up area wide compared to December 2017, in some cases by 50% or more. Don’t raise the alarm bells though. It turns out this says more about last December than it does about shifting markets today. While current inventories are actually at, or below, their five year averages, last December’s numbers represented a notable dive below the norm.


Why mention it if everything is normal? News outlets and data providers like to look at year over year numbers, and they like a story. I wanted to give you a grain of salt to have at the ready in the event you catch any alarming headlines out there.



  1. Article I’m Working Through: How to Configure Your iPhone to Work FOR You…

Our mobile phones have become something we can’t imagine living without. Forgetting a phone even for a 5 minute round trip to grab a coffee can feel like you’ve just been dropped on a desert island. As great as these devices are, we tend to leave their true potential benefit untapped.


This article is a deep dive on how to really put your iPhone to work for you. While this is iPhone centered, I’m sure Android users can glean some ideas from it as well. You should note; this post is more of a manual for reference over time than it is a once over read. I recommend at least skimming over the headlines to see if anything resonates!


So far I’m looking most closely at the suggestion to essentially switch over to Google’s apps for email, calendar, and photo storage. Google maps is a non-starter, I’m all in on Waze.



  1. Keep The Heat On This (White) Christmas

That’s right, a chance of snow keeps coming in and out of the forecast for this Christmas Eve into Christmas Day! Make sure you’re ready to keep your house warm over the Holidays and beyond with a couple of Heating & Air recommendations you can count on.


It’s recommended to have your system serviced at least twice a year, if you’ve not done so anytime recently I would go ahead and give one of these folks a call and have them come out for a tune-up ASAP. After that, keep these names handy in the event any unexpected repairs are needed. Worth noting, companies you have a service agreement with will be much more responsive when an emergency arises.


Virginia – 703.968.7700 • Maryland – 301.987.9244


Myron Luster – 202.460.1182



  1. The Planner That Dramatically Changed my Workflow & Organization

As we prepare to close out the year many of us will be looking at, and planning for, 2019. As you do so I recommend giving a look at the Full Focus Planner. Yes, in a digital driven world this is a paper planner, but that’s actually one of the reasons it’s made such a big difference for me. It’s not overly complicated, and it’s tactile. It helps me determine, and stay focused on, my key priorities throughout the week, be those personal or professional. After years of working with an ever changing array of online tools and apps this planner has done the best job of meeting all the various needs I was looking to address.


AND speaking of feeling like you’re on an island when you forget your phone, I forgot my Full Focus Planner when I came to the coffee shop I’m writing this from, and I almost dropped everything to go back and get it!


For me, the transition was pretty easy. I was already carrying a Moleskin notebook everywhere I went. If any of you end up getting one of these I would love to know what you think. After a couple test runs I was in, so switched to the annual subscription (1 planner per quarter).

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4 Point Friday (12/7) – Holiday Season, Interest Rates, Saying Good Bye to a President…
  1. Happy Holidays!

The Holiday Season officially began this past Sunday with the first day of Hanukkah. For those who celebrate I hope it has been a great week of friends, family, and reflection thus far!

As we all make our way through the coming weeks, if anyone needs some inspiration for how to spend your time during the season here’s a few ideas from none other than Buddy the Elf…

“I planned out our whole day: First, we’ll make snow angels for two hours, and then we’ll go ice skating, and then we’ll eat a whole roll of Toll-House cookie dough as fast as we can, and then to finish, we’ll snuggle”

  1. Mortgage Rates Holding Steady… For Now…

It’s safe to say, 5% rates will be here soon, however for the time being they are holding steady in the high 4% range. Hard to believe that 10 years ago when I started my full time real estate business rates were at about 5.5% and everyone was saying “Buy now (if you can get a loan)! This won’t last, and won’t happen again!” How time changes our perspective sometimes! Even though rates in the 5’s would still be historically low, the change will continue to represent a real shift in the purchasing power we’ve grown accustomed to.. Like many other variables in today’s market, low supply will likely limit the impact and stretch the effects out over time, which will also allow incomes to catch up a bit.

As a quick reminder, fixed mortgage rates are not directly attached to the Fed rate, so don’t worry too much as you hear about the Fed raising their rates. Instead, we are keeping our eye on the 30 year bond rate, which determines where mortgage rates will go because the two tend to have the same investors. Worth noting, then, is that the 30 year bond rate just had its largest decline in 6 months. This is why mortgage rates edged back down a bit in recent days.

  1. “The Little City” Going Big. Falls Church is About to Look a Lot Different…

Change is not new to Falls Church. Over the last 10 years or so new mid-rise condos and apartments, a new Harris Teeter, a new hotel, a new senior living center, and even a mini Target have popped up around town, changing the landscape in significant ways. However, in the next 24 months these changes are going into hyper-drive. On Monday the heavy equipment arrived to begin demolition ahead of the massive Founders Row project at the corner of Rt. 7 and West St. In the coming months an even more massive project at the current George Mason High School will begin, which includes construction of a new, $120m high school, and complete redevelopment of the current 10 acre piece of land into a large mixed use project. In short order the City of Falls Church will look more and more like a miniature Ballston/Clarendon, a fairly intentional move by the city government as they try and reduce tax pressure from the 2.2 square mile, predominantly residential, tax base.

  1. A Couple Favorite Quotes From the George H.W. Bush Eulogy…

Like many others, I found what I was able to watch of George H. W. Bush’s funeral to be a refreshing show of family, community, and shared hope. His Presidency was far from perfect, as they all have been, but Wednesday’s service shed light on a more unified version of the country that I think most of us prefer.

“The horizons he saw were bright and hopeful. He was a genuinely optimistic man. And that optimism guided his children and made each of us believe that anything was possible.”

George W. Bush – George H.W. Bush Eulogy

“He taught us what it means to be a wonderful father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. He was firm in his principles and supportive as we began to seek our own ways. He encouraged and comforted, but never steered.”

George W. Bush – George H.W. Bush Eulogy

Thanks everyone!. While I have you, some of you have already reached out to let me know you plan to make a move this spring. For those who have not, now is the time to start preparing, so if you have a move in mind let me know and we can start talking timelines and task lists. Also, if you have friends in that boat now is time for them to start preparing as well, I would be delighted to connect with them and help them get on their way.

Have a great weekend!


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4 Point Friday (11/23) – Happy Thanksgiving, Hand Forged in Virginia, & More…

  1. Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone enjoyed safe and uneventful travels, or if you hosted, that your guests enjoyed the same. We had a great time spending the afternoon (for what we realized was the 7th year in a row) with friends we met by chance, at a park, because their 3 year old was pretending to be Mary Poppins. We quickly discovered their 3 (now 10) year old was born on the same day as our 3 (now 10) year old and the rest, including more crazy coincidences, is history. Loosely Related: We are super excited about the new Mary Poppins movie featuring Lin Manuel Miranda!

  1. Beautiful Hand Forged Iron Cookware Made Right Here in Virginia…

Did you know that some of the iron skillets and sauciers most loved by chefs are hand forged right here in Virginia? Blanc Creative out of Charlottesville creates iron cookware that discerning paletes love, and are intended both for daily use AND to last through the generations. These pieces are not cheap, but are beautiful, help you produce delicious food, and will last for decades. AND, they are having a Black Friday sale through Monday! This is not your storm the gates kind of deal, but if you’re already looking to invest in a cast iron staple or two for your kitchen check these folks out!

  1. iPhone Users; Here’s a Feature we all Wish We Knew About Before…

This iPhone feature caught Twitter by storm this week. If you already knew about it and didn’t tell the rest of us, we just might not be able to talk to you again. This feature has been available for a while, but it blew the minds of many in the last few days… including us. This feature is for editing bits of text WITHOUT having to drop the cursor in just the right spot with your less than precise thumb.

  1. The Home Search App Realtors are Using…

Finally, did you know the real estate app Realtors all over the country use everyday was developed here in the D.C. Area, and that it’s available to you as well? Homesnap is both the direct, consumer facing side of our local MLS, and provides agents with all the on the spot information we need to know when it counts. With direct access to the MLS Homesnap gives anyone with the app the most up to date real estate information available. Those actually in the purchase process can connect with the agent they have hired and then share listings and feedback through the app in real time. This sure beats emailing addresses and Redfin links back and forth.

 

Hi all! 4 Point Friday is my weekly email to past and current clients, folks who have referred business along the way, and those who have simply subscribed to the list. Above is a taste of the weekly email. Sometimes it’s real estate heavy, but usually it’s more like today’s. If this is something you’d like to receive in your Inbox on a weekly basis go ahead and subscribe at the right! Not to worry, this is a casual affair, and subscribing won’t unlock some sort of deluge of communication. Just the weekly 4 points. Thanks! Oh! A phone number is not necessary, they just won’t let me remove that from the form for some reason.

 

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4 Point Friday (11/16) – Amazon, Your New MLS System, and More…
  1. Now we know Amazon is coming to town, so now what?
    In and of itself, the landing of Amazon is not going to have a significant impact on the area beyond the immediate confines of the developments and improvements that will occur in Crystal City. Region wide, 25,000 more jobs amidst the nearly 300,000 more jobs already expected to come by 2025 is just not that much of a difference. The impact is all in the expected “butterfly effect” bringing Amazon here will have on enticing other companies to the area. The DC Metro area economy has already been diversifying, and area business and government leaders are hoping this acquisition will catapult us into a faster rate of growth. That reactive growth is what could impact your home values and commute times most in the years to come.
  2. We have a new MLS system. The next time you go to buy or sell a home it will matter. Here’s why. 
    If we, as Realtor’s, have a new MLS system, then you have a new MLS system. It’s your data in there, and you are the ones the system is designed to serve. So, why should you care about this change? A couple small reasons, and one bigger one. For a start we can now upload as many as 150 photos for each home listed, and write a description up to 4,000 characters long. The previous limit was 30 and 400 respectively. That’s basically a blank check to show off every last selling point a home may have to offer. More importantly, the menu of statuses for a listed home have changed, which will change how your next transaction is negotiated. Previously if a home was under contract, you generally didn’t continue to market the property and allow showings. NOW, the default contract status is called “Active Under Contract”. This means there IS a contract, however, the home is still being actively marketed and the owner is hunting for viable back-up offers. If that owner succeeds in obtaining one, you are looking at a very different landscape when negotiating repair items after a home inspection, or if if the appraisal comes in low. For owners that are satisfied with their contract and don’t want the hassle, or buyers who demand it, there is also a “Pending” status which shuts down the marketing of that listing until the contract falls through or closes. 
  3. Favorite book I’m reading…
    This book is taking me forever to read because every page has something that gets me thinking. Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Nobel Prize winning Daniel Kahneman. Counterintuitively, Mr. Kahneman, as psychologist, won the Nobel Price in Economics in 2002 for his work on Behavioral Economics. The findings summarized in the book are sometimes fascinating, sometimes disturbing when placed into our current daily experiences, and useful as I try to become more self aware. If you don’t want to take on the full Nobel worthy volume, the work, and Kahnaman’s partner relationship was analyzed and summarized in another book called The Undoing Project, by Michael Lewis.
  4. Person I have recently been impressed with…
    I’ve heard the name many times before, but never really dug further or checked him out until recently. Ryan Holiday has come across my radar as someone with a thoughtful take on life (especially when you consider he is just 31) , and a passion and gift for passing his findings on to others. We’ve heard the college drop out story before, but Ryan’s is a bit different. 

Have a great rest of your weekend, and a great Thanksgiving Holiday next week!