Make Your Own Wine and Beer in Alexandria, VA

I’m sure at some point you’ve heard a friend or co-worker talking about brewing their own beer at home, possibly with less than stellar results. Micro-brewing has become an emerging trend and stores, both online and brick-and-mortar, have begun popping up to cater to this new culture. But now instead of learning by trial and error you can head over to the Shenandoah Brewing Company on South Pickett Street in Alexandria to learn firsthand how it’s done.

SBC has over 70 recipes to choose from when brewing your own beer, from pale ales and IPAs to stouts and lagers.  SBC provides all of the ingredients and equipment you’ll need and they even clean up the mess afterwards! Once you’ve brewed the beer it takes 4-12 weeks to ferment and then you make an appointment to come back and bottle it yourself. You even get to design custom labels if you want to. One session usually produces 4-5 cases that you can take home and enjoy at your leisure.

SBC is also a pub where you can go enjoy food and their in-house brews that have already been prepared. If wine is more your style you can head over to their sister company, Carafe Wine Makers, to take part in a wine-making session that produces around 30 bottles. Though I’ve tried brewing my own beer before (I was mildly successful) I haven’t experienced SBC yet but I definitely will be setting up my brewing appointment in the near future, and chances are it will be an IPA.

Jim Patrick

I’m working with some clients that submitted an offer the other day on a home that was a short sale. With distress sales, both short sales and foreclosures, a bank is involved in the process it’s somewhat different than a regular sale when just the buyers and sellers are involved. One of the differences is that the home almost always must be purchased in “as-is” condition, meaning that what you see is what you get. This scared my clients because they obviously hadn’t done a home inspection so they didn’t necessarily know everything that was wrong with the home.

I understood their concern but I explained to them that just because they were taking the home “as-is” did not mean they couldn’t do a home inspection. In fact, the home inspection contingency would still allow them to get out of the contract if they found any major issues they didn’t want to tackle. The reason that banks make buyers sign the “as-is” clause is that they will not make any repairs or credit repair costs at closing and for the most part I’ve seen that be the case.

So don’t be intimidated by the “as-is” clause, you’re still protected with the home inspection contingency if anything unforeseeable comes up. However, also make sure when you’re submitting your offer that you factor in the cost of a good bit of maintenance. With foreclosures and short sales, if the owners are having trouble making their mortgage payments in most cases they have also been deferring maintenance on the home. As with any purchase, but especially distress sales, make sure you do your homework and also have a knowledgeable and experienced Realtor on your side.

Jim Patrick

I take my job as Tom & Cindy’s Listing Manager pretty seriously and if you knew me, you would probably call me a perfectionist. Its really important for me to showcase our listings in the best possible light. Since it is the first thing a potential buyer will see, getting a great front shot is key. Of course, we can’t always predict the weather or when the sun is going to be shining on the front of a particular property. Thats why its sometimes necessary to go back and re-shoot on a better day. On Monday of last week, I had to do just that. I had gone over to a property in Alexandria the previous Friday afternoon, taken photos and notes, but the sun was totally behind the house, which meant it was going to be a morning exterior shot. So, I go back over on Monday morning to take front photos; it was a beautiful blue sky day. The street was on a bit of an incline and I took a few shots at ground level. They seemed a little crooked to me so I decided to climb up on this slight hill to get a better shot. The ground was a little uneven. I managed to get off a couple of clicks and then I don’t know what happened…the next thing I knew I was falling and couldn’t catch myself. I landed directly on my left foot and the camera went flying. The camera was fine, but my foot certainly wasn’t! Thankfully it was my left so I was able to drive myself to the ER. Later I found out that I had 2 little breaks in my foot; technically its called a “Jones fracture”. Ugh! Its going to take 8-12 weeks to heal. I’ve got a heavy boot on my left leg and am hobbling around…but I’m down to one crutch now, yay! But…I got a great shot of the house!! The things I do for my job and for Tom & Cindy. :)

Susan Hall

During the busy summer months I work with a lot of renters in our local Kingstowne real estate market and due to BRAC I’ve been assisting many military personnel that are relocating to the area. Most military realize the great advantages they have when buying a home (VA loans coupled with their BAH) so why are many still choosing to rent when they move here? The 2 main reasons I’ve encountered are they want to get familiar with the area their first year here before buying or that they own a home at their prior station that they can’t sell. While I can completely understand the first reason the second one leads me to believe that some military don’t necessarily know all their options.

The Home Affordability Program (HAP) was originally designed by the DoD to assist wounded and injured military along with surviving spouses. Recently it was extended to assist personnel affected by BRAC 05 and those receiving PCS orders. The extended program is designed to help military recoup most of their losses in selling their homes, usually because it is now worth less than what they paid (upside down). For BRAC eligibility the home must have been purchased before the announcement date on May 13, 2005. For military PCS eligibility the orders must be received before September 30, 2010. Both groups must sell the home before September 30th, 2012. To learn more about eligibility and benefits you can visit the official HAP site or contact us.

Many military homeowners that were transferred to our area might find this to be a better solution than sitting on an upside down property that could take many years to recoup their initial investment. There are also no credit or legal ramifications that many times result from a short sale or foreclosure. This is a great opportunity for the men and women that serve our nation to start fresh and reinvest in a home in one of the strongest real estate markets in the country. If you may be eligible for the HAP program and are interested in learning more we would be glad to take the time to sit down with you and discuss your options.

Jim Patrick
Tom & Cindy and Associates
Long & Foster Realtors
7027-A Manchester Blvd
Alexandria, VA 22310
Cell: (571) 244-0120

For as long as I could remember, I’ve had a fascination with planes. I could sit there for hours and just watch them take off and land. The irony of it all is that I am admittedly afraid of flying. Actually, let me re-phrase, the flying part I love. Its more the fear of crashing that bothers me.

Nonetheless, given that I do love to watch planes fly overhead, you can imagine I love to go to Air Shows. But, unfortunately, there are only so many of those in close proximity. So what do you do in between? You go to Gravelly Point Park in Arlington.

Nestled just across the end of the runway at Reagan National Airport is this little gem of a park. You can get to it from the George Washington Parkway. But be advised, it is only accessible from the NORTHbound side.

There, you can put a blanket down and sit on the grass, or under a tree or even at one of the picnic tables and watch the planes as they take off for destinations unknown. On a busy day, you can see as many as 30 planes in one hour. And, even when things are a bit slower, there is generally some activity every 8 minutes or so.

Whether you’re a child or an adult, you’ve got to admit, watching those massive tubes of steel fly so closely overhead as they retract the landing gear is pretty cool.

 And as if watching the planes wasn’t great enough, if you face away from the runway, you have a great view of the Washington Monument and the Capital. Not to mention the scenic Potomac River that runs along side of the park.

If you’re a bike rider, the Northern Virginia Bike Path also runs along this park. So, as the planes fly overhead, its not uncommon to see a line of bike riders stop along the path to watch.

The park does allow dogs. And it closes at dusk.

Angela Newman
Tom & Cindy and Associates
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc.
7027 A Manchester Blvd.
Alexandria, VA 22310
cell: 703-408-8440

Money Magazine came out with their list of the 100 best small cities in the country to live. Our Alexandria Virginia came in #47. While it is nice to be included, and we are certainly not 100% objective, we think our town should have been ranked even higher. With all there is to do here and the great job situation and Alexandria real estate on the come-back , it would be tough to find a more diverse and appealing place to live. There is always a trade-off between small towns and cities. In Old Town, Del Ray and Mount Vernon you can find the small town feel, but with all the big city amenities like professional sports teams, fantastic restaurants of all types, scenery on the Potomac, and a stream of fun activities for all tastes that no one could possibly keep up with  everything.

The Franconia Moose Lodge had their annual golf tournament last Friday at the Fort Belvoir Golf Course.  Tom & Cindy agents, family and friends made up 2 of the 24 foursomes. Thanks to one of our agents, who is active duty Army, a couple of us were able to get on base through the back Beulah gate quite easily. The other “civilians” were able to make it on through the main gate which, at 0730 took a bit longer. The hot spell broke and the weather was close to perfect (especially in the shade with a bit of a breeze). One of our foursomes finished only 1 shot off of 3rd place, while the other succeeded in having a great time! Stu Burk played the best he ever had, 1-putting 5 holes, and was a major contributor into the team finishing 11 under par.

The round was followed by a Bar-B-Que lunch at the Moose Lodge, where we got to mingle with a bunch of our neighbors and exchange stories about the amazing feats, near misses, and general good times that were had by all.

Jon Herman

It seems like there is always something going in the Alexandria area, no matter where your interests lie. The Visit Alexandria website has a pretty extensive calendar of upcoming events. Old Town Alexandria is just about 10-20 minutes away from most parts of Kingstowne, Springfield and Lorton so its really easy to come out and experience everything it has to offer.  Here are a few things you might want to add to your day planner:

July 10th

Truffle Tasting at The Sugar Cube 1-4 PM
Come out and sample chocolate truffle flavors inspired by classic ice cream: Butter Pecan, Cookies n’ Cream and Mint Chocolate
The Sugar Cube is a sweet shop located at 210 N. Lee Street in Old Town; they carry all sorts of chocolates, truffles and other mouth watering confections.

USA & Alexandria Birthday Celebration
Oronoco Bay Park (Union & Madison Streets) 4-10 PM
Celebrate with various activities, music and fireworks. There will be children’s activities, refreshment sales, community exhibitors, birthday cake, performances by the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra and the 257th Army Band. The U.S. Marines will provide fireworks at 9:30 PM.

July 16-17

Comcast Film Festival
Waterfront Park (Prince and Union Streets)
Catch a family-friendly flick on a 40-foot screen in a great setting near the River. The Blind Side will be shown on Friday (7/16) and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen will be shown on Saturday (7/17).

July 16-18: 1st Annual Christmas in July on Union Street
A variety of events will take place throughout the day; over 15 retailers, community and city organizations will host activities along Union Street or inside their stores. There will be summer pictures with Santa, historical tours, trunk shows, food/wine tastings, ornament making, a “Hidden History of Union Street” walking tour and much more. Shopping and dining deals will be found throughout the weekend. Check out the Christmas Attic’s website for complete details.

Susan Hall

Many agents in our office, and the industry at large, have commented that they’ve noticed a slight decline in buyer activity since the end of the tax credit in April. Home values bottomed out over a year ago, there are lots of great low money down financing programs and interest rates just hit historic lows, so why are some people still unsure about buying? While I can’t answer that question I can give a few pieces of info (provided by our regional manager at Long and Foster, Boomer Foster) that show why Northern Virginia is a great place to buy a home right now.

1.    Of the 15 largest job markets in the U.S. only the DC Metro area added jobs (5800) last year
2.    Of the 15 largest U.S. job markets ours has the lowest unemployment rate at 5.9% (nationally it’s about 9.5%)
3.    Northern Virginia has experienced 9 consecutive months of increased home prices
4.    The home affordability index shows that it is a great time to buy

The first 2 stats show how strong our local economy is and that job growth continues despite a somewhat stagnant national economy. Increasing jobs means population growth which will result in increased demand and eventually rising prices. The 3rd stat shows that we are already seeing signs of the pent-up and rising demand as prices have been steadily increasing. The last piece of info talks about the home affordability index that measures how affordable buying a home is based on median income, home prices, interest rates and a few other factors. This index tells us that all these factors make right now one of the best times to buy since the index started tracking 40 years ago.

There really are a lot of factors right now that make it a fantastic time to buy a home in our area. Rates won’t stay this low for long (rates are around 4.5% right now for a 30 year fixed!) and from the looks of things home prices have already started their upwards trend. So if you’ve been thinking about buying but still want to learn more I encourage you to give us a call and speak with one of our buyer specialists. We’ll help you lay out the facts and determine if now is the right time for you to buy and guide you through the process if it is.

Jim Patrick
Tom & Cindy and Associates
Long & Foster Realtors
7027-A Manchester Blvd
Alexandria, VA 22310
Cell: (571) 244-0120

Are you looking for new and exciting things to do around the area? You should check out the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton if you haven’t been there before. In addition to a multitude of classes, exhibits, workshops and performances, they regularly host a variety of special events. Here are a few upcoming events that you might like to attend.

On July 3rd (Saturday), they will host a Patriotic Picnic. This is an all-day event, starting at 11 AM and ending at 9 PM. There will be live music throughout the day by Thrive, the New Dominion Choraliers and the Rebel Run Dixieland Band. Artists will be doing demos on the Quad and kids can stop by the Kid Zone Open House to create their own special piece of art work. You can bring food with you or purchase some when you get there. $10 picnic meals can be pre-ordered from the Workhouse’s website; American Bar-B-Que in Lorton is providing the food. The picnics will include 2 pieces of fried chicken, baked beans, cole slaw and a dinner roll; other food options and snacks will be available for purchase as well. American Bar-B-Que is a great local restaurant on Telegraph Road—we like to go there for lunch. They give you a LOT of food, but everything is delicious. The staff members are super-friendly and will get you whatever you need. 

The Second Annual Ice Cream Social will take place at the Workhouse on Saturday July 10th. Come out between 1 and 4 PM to escape the heat with a bowl of ice cream. A $15 donation to benefit the Lorton Arts Foundation Ceramics Program will get you a handmade bowl created by a resident artist, class instructor or student. You will get a raffle ticket with each purchase; someone will win a piece of art from a resident ceramics artist. The classic rock band Crosscut will be performing.

Susan Hall