Archive for March, 2008
March 27th, 2008 categories: Real Estate News
Each year, March brings to the Washington D.C Metro area some of the best sights and sounds America has to offer. This year’s Men’s NCAA Basketball “March Madness” tournament brought great games to our own Verizon Center located in the heart of D.C. This end of season tournament matches the best sixty four men’s teams against one another in a single elimination tournament. Women’s college basketball has an identical end of year playoff as well. For us college basketball fans, there may not be a more enjoyable time of year. But Northern Virginia & the D.C. area also bring us the beauty of cherry blossoms.
This tree that blankets this area with beautiful pink blossoms every March & April originated as a gift from Japan to America. On March 27th, 1912, the Mayor of Tokyo, Yukio Ozaki donated 3,000 Japanese cherry trees as a sign of friendship between the two nations. Our National Cherry Blossom Festival celebrates that generous gift and serves as a yearly reminder of the special offering bestowed upon our nation. Hundreds of thousands of visitors descend upon D.C. each year to witness the beauty of the blossoms around D.C.’s Tidal Basin and East Potomac Park.
While making the trip into D.C may not be your cup of tea, if you’re in the Northern Virginia area, it’s difficult to miss the beauty of the cherry blossom. The trees are everywhere. And, fortunately, they, and the spring weather, make getting outside, and away from the March Madness, not only a healthy alternative to all that basketball, but good for you too. But, if you’re like me, sometimes it is easier to just open the front door to appreciate the wonder of the oriental gift.
Discussion: No Comments »|
March 12th, 2008 categories: Real Estate News
While enjoying my second cup this morning, the local newspaper’s Region Section grabbed my attention, reminding my why the term “Founding Fathers”, in describing those that founded this great country, is very suitable. The lead headline in the Region (C) section, “City Tax Hike Proposed”, reminded me of Ben Franklin’s timeless words, “Certainty? In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes.”
Of course, Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania county are suffering the same economic woes the surrounding counties and many other regions are during this economic downturn (OK – call it a recession if your must!). For the year, Fredericksburg’s sales tax revenues are 10.58 percent below what it had counted on for revenue. Due to the decrease in available funds, there have been hiring freeze on city jobs. To avoid a budget shortfall, the county has taken the same measures. Other surrounding counties are in a similar budget crunch. While King George and Caroline counties haven’t yet taken these measures, Stafford county has decided to hold off filling key positions. But, each is watching their revenues closely.
So, back to this morning’s proposed tax hike. Is it welcome news for property owners? Of course not. But what alternatives do our administrators and legislators have? Outside of an increase in sales tax, raising real estate taxes is the cash cow that pays the bills (and more importantly, the salaries!). But, it can also become the trump card used a bit too frequently at the expense of local property owners when it’s time to generate revenue.
The proposed 2009 City Budget includes:
- Recommended five cent increase in Real Estate tax rate, from 53 to 58 cents per $100 of value
- $300,000 home would mean a tax increase of $150 a year
Generating funds to pay the bills is a challenge that is never going away. Beginning in late 2005, the mortgage/housing crisis only made matters worse. In administering government, local or otherwise, thoughtful, sound decisionmaking is vital to projected economic growth. Proper planning is vital to success. Let’s make sure that as we consider the many options of where and what to develop and build, sustainability and quality of life are components that play an important role in the discussion. If forethought provides other reliable sources of revenue generation, perhaps then the property tax “trump card” won’t be needed to be played as often to feed the beast.
It’ll sure make my C-Section easier to deal with and that morning “Joe” all the more tasty!
Discussion: No Comments »|
If there is one place where retiring from Active duty is made easier, it’s in Northern Virginia. And, the big reason why is – that’s where the jobs are! And, while there may be an abundance of government positions available, due to DoD’s ramp up following 9-11, there are a multitude of opportunities in the private sector as well. So, while we may be leaving active duty, we may not be saying goodbye to our government employer.
For those seeking to remain connected with the Federal government after taking off the uniform, USAJOBS, is the place to begin your job search upon retirement. It not only allows you to search for jobs, but allows you to build and post your resume for job possibilities. For the private sector, Northern Virginia has hundreds of private companies or contractors that have laid down roots in locations across the area the past few years. These companies directly support the government. Business types range from the telecommunications industry to defense equipment producers, and just about anything in between. As you might imagine, everyone wants a piece of the federal government’s pie. Another valuable resource for opportunities for Veterans is the Veterans Career page. It calls itself the “largest veteran job board in the world”. Military.com not only has a wealth of information to assist viewers but also includes an abundance of other helpful career transition tools.
Our “online” digital world allows us to keep up not just with job possibilities, but many other issues related to the career we’ve left, like retirement pay, Dept of Defense News, and some of the national security challenges that we continually face. So, while we’ve retired we’re never too far away from lifelines to our past career.
While the abundance of job opportunities is one reason to consider retiring from Uncle Sam in Northern Virginia, the abundance of things to do, beautiful countryside, and the temperate and seasonal climate are others. The area’s multi-ethnic makeup provides a rich blend of artistic, cultural and dining choices to satisfy any and all tastes and preferences. From the Kennedy Center performances to Northern Virginia Wineries, to battlefields in Fredericksburg, the area’s offerings provide an abundance of choices for all tastes.
However, while there are plenty of attractive aspects of life in Northern Virginia for those retiring, and choosing to settle here, we still have the I95 traffic to deal with. So, it’s always good to be mindful of the many options you have when traveling. Each and every one of us faces the challenges of the ever increasing crowding of the Interstate highways we travel weekly, or, for many of us, daily, to and from work. How do best navigate these challenges? For the work commute, there are a number of options. Commuter Connections provides information on many of the available transit options. For your day to day travel, you may want to look at some some helpful sites that will keep you abreast of traffic problems . So, before you decide to head out on the road, it might be a good idea to take at look at these sights first. Because, as many of us have said, “Northern Virginia is a great place to live, except for the traffic”!
If you’ve decided that Virginia is where you’ll be relocating to and retiring, the choices of where to live are numerous. For many, it’ll be dictated by the location of your future employer. For others, that decision may hinge on your preference for a particular county school district, or social and recreational outlets, or something as simple as a particular subdivision or neighborhood. In any case, the choices are many, and a great place to begin your search for your future home is www.RakeTeam.com, or www.zillow.com, or www.coldwellbankerelite.com , among others.
For those thinking about retiring from the military, Northern Virginia has much to offer. There are few places, if any, that offer a better opportunity for your “second career”. Heightened national security concerns since 2001 have resulted in a tremendous increase in DoD related employment opportunities in the area. Additionally, the sites, events and experiences offered in the cities and towns that dot the area are so plentiful and rich, that you’ll be left wondering how you’ll ever find enough time to enjoy them all. Whatever you decide, enjoy the transition, you certainly deserve it!
Discussion: No Comments »|
March 10th, 2008 categories: Entertainment
You been out with the same clients for two weeks, up and down the Interstate 95, battling traffic, seen over sixty homes (I mean, why not, there are so many choices…..and, there are all those good deals they just have to see!) and you’ve finally had a contract ratified on the fourth REO property you’ve written on. Now your clients would like to relax a bit, and have asked you where you can go to unwind. So, what’s a Realtor to do? Outside of the typical eateries, what’s there to do? A new offering you’ve got to try, just off the Interstate, north of Stafford, to relax and enjoy the tastes of Northen Virginia, is Potomac Point Winery http://www.potomacpointwinery.com/index.php.
While Northern Virginia doesn’t offer quite the same variety of choices you may have seen in the 2004 Oscar winning movie “Sideways“, which, you may recall, involved a “road trip” through California’s wine country, you can find some very appealing local wineries with wine choices to suit just about anyone. Additionally, Virginia’s temperate climate, and scenic countryside make an afternoon at Potomac Point more than just a stop for lunch. And, besides, aren’t we all looking for that refuge from the everyday hustle and bustle of life? (What we wouldn’t do for a few minutes of peace and quiet!)
Since their Grand Opening last July, many locals have taken advantage of the fine wines offered at the the Point. There are a variety of choices for everyone’s taste, including:
- Viogenier (gold medal)
- Rabelos & Vidal Blanc dessert wines
- Cabernet Franc
- Bordeaux, Italian & Portuguese styled red wines
- Chardonnay (gold medal)
Fortunately, the Point doesn’t end with wine tasting. You can also enjoy their assorted olive oils available for tasting, or the appealing soups and sandwiches available. Finally, for groups, special arrangements are possible for private get togethers on the grounds, or catered service if you so desire.
While house hunting, the I95 traffic can sometimes get the best of us. The Potomac Point Winery is just “A Step Away From Your Everyday”. So, once that contract is signed, sealed and delivered, treat yourself to an enjoyable few minutes of relaxation at Potomac Point Winery. For wine lovers, or just those that like a place to get away from it all, the Point is an ideal refuge.
Discussion: No Comments »|