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New Insights

June 4, 2013 by Blue Ridge Leader Columns, Real Estate Ticker Be the first to comment
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By Carl Fischer

I was recently invited to attend the National Association of Realtors mid-year conference held at the Washington Hilton on Connecticut Avenue as a panelist. It was an invitation-only “Masters of the Market” group consisting of some of the most forward thinking and highly productive real estate brokers in North America. Most were former Howard Brinton “StarPower” honorees, as I was, and for me, it was like “old home” week.

I’m telling you all of that to tell you this: The real estate market, as we all know, has changed dramatically over the past five years. We all knew it would, but it has been a challenge for even full-time top-producing professionals to keep up.

In the two-and-a-half hours we shared, the social exchanges lasted for just a few minutes and rolled into unending flood of new and useful information. One which stood out in my mind as particularly important I describe below. … Continue Reading

Real Estate Ticker – April

April 2, 2013 by Blue Ridge Leader Columns, Real Estate Ticker Be the first to comment
Carl Fischer headshot

I’m writing this article from the new Omni Hotel in downtown Fort Worth, Texas…
while attending United Country’s Annual Convention being held this year in Forth Worth Texas. It’s an interesting contrast with the familiar universe of Northern Virginia market activity. While back home we are dealing with the still-too-early-to-predict consequences of the sequester, the Fort Worth area is experiencing an explosion in growth, price recovery, and new construction, of both single-family and multifamily houses. The median price here has increased from $155,000 a year ago, to $168,900 today. Their listing inventory declined from 3131 a year ago to 2223 today. Now THAT is a recovery!

Locally, residential resale prices are holding on, but not accelerating as I anticipated…
Month-over-month rate of sales fell off this past month in both sales volume as well as number of sales, but were still higher than the same month last year. According to the MRIS, the active number of listings is down from 1,287 to 1,040 compared to the same month last year. The number of new contracts was off 10.6 percent for the same period in 2012. … Continue Reading

Tiptoeing Towards the “Spring Market”

March 9, 2013 by Blue Ridge Leader Columns, Real Estate Ticker Be the first to comment
Carl Fischer headshot

If you are having difficulty understanding what our real estate market will actually look like as we move into warmer weather, don’t feel alone; so do I. It’s true that there continues to be a sense of “cautious optimism” when it comes to our economy in general, but speaking with folks dropping by my office or calling, there is still a very pronounced air of caution in everyone’s comments.

Residential resale prices are showing some improvement…

However, the month-over-month rate of sales fell off dramatically this past month, though they were still higher than the same month last year. According to the MRIS, the active number of listings is down from 1,282 to 1,005, compared to the same month last year. The number of new contracts was up 4.96 percent for the same period. … Continue Reading

Holiday Season Softening in the Residential Market….

January 9, 2013 by Blue Ridge Leader Columns, Real Estate Ticker Be the first to comment
Carl Fischer headshot

As is often customary this time of year, most market metrics fell in the month of October. Total sales volume was down 8.5 percent compared to last month, but still, year over year we were up a whopping 38 percent. Days on Market (DOM) continues to decline, which is a great litmus test for pent-up demand.

The ratio of SOLD prices to list, or “asking” prices continues to improve. Inventory of homes available for sale is still shrinking, down nearly 16 percent compared to this month last year.

Here’s a look at Loudoun numbers for September from MRIS

FHA on the move

One area of interest that jumped at me this month was a series of articles I ran across focused on imminent changes in process that will have a real impact on buyers of affordable homes in this area. … Continue Reading

Holiday Season Softening in the Residential Market

December 5, 2012 by Blue Ridge Leader Columns, Real Estate Ticker Be the first to comment
Carl Fischer headshot

As is often customary this time of year, most market metrics fell in the month of October. Total sales volume was down 8.5 percent compared to last month, but still, year over year we were up a whopping 38 percent. Days on Market (DOM) continues to decline, which is a great litmus test for pent-up demand.

The ratio of SOLD prices to list, or “asking” prices continues to improve. Inventory of homes available for sale is still shrinking, down nearly 16 percent compared to this month last year.

A look at Loudoun numbers for September from MRIS:

… Continue Reading

Residential Market Continues to Move Up

November 7, 2012 by Blue Ridge Leader Real Estate Ticker Be the first to comment
Carl Fischer headshot

By Carl Fischer

Though lead traffic seemed to fall off a bit in August and September (a typical “summer doldrums” phenomena), there was sufficient sales activity to keep the buying spree moving forward. Month-over-month activity dropped 11.7 percent, but year-over-year, we are still up 22.6 percent.

One key indicator is the continued rise in average sold price as well as the ongoing drop in days-on-market. Inventory of homes available for sale is still shrinking.
A look at Loudoun numbers for September from MRIS appears above …

Buyer’s advantage is beginning to wane …

As prices begin to creep up, and they are, the unique advantage buyers have enjoyed for some time is slowing beginning to slide away. Homes that sold in April and May of this year for $350,000, are now going to contract at $365,000-$370,000. Same house; different market! … Continue Reading

Roth IRA Conversions: Opportunities and Deadlines

October 3, 2012 by Blue Ridge Leader Amy V. Smith’s Money Talks, Columns Be the first to comment
Amy Smith-BRL

By Amy Smith

Potential increase in federal income tax may make 2012 Roth conversions attractive.

When you convert a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA, the conversion is generally taxed as ordinary income (except for any after-tax, non-deductible contributions you’ve made). With the “Bush tax cuts” set to expire at the end of 2012, federal income tax rates will jump up in 2013. Unless Congress acts, we’ll go from six federal tax brackets (15, 25, 28, 33, and 35 percent) to five (15, 28, 31, 36, and 39.6 percent).

While there continues to be discussion about extending the expiring tax cuts, many believe there’s little chance of resolution until after the November election.

While no one can predict what Congress will ultimately do (or not do), 2012 may present an opportunity to convert a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA at a potentially lower tax cost than if you wait until 2013. … Continue Reading

Housing: The “Up” Side of this “Down” Market

September 5, 2012 by Blue Ridge Leader Columns, Real Estate Ticker Be the first to comment
Carl Fischer headshot

By Carl Fischer

In the past two months, the housing market has seen a traditional reduction in residential sales activity through the heat of the summer. In the summer months, many families have more pressing demands on their time, be it for vacations, travel, or simply family get-togethers both near and far.
During this period, the national press continues to document the case for a very slow, erratic recovery in both house prices and consumer confidence. And these facts are hard to ignore. But there’s one aspect to what has happened in the past five years that seems to escape the focus of the press: How about the incredible opportunities this down market has presented to those who can take advantage of the ‘now’?

For those owners who are buried, or up-side down in their present ownership situation, and who agonize daily about their loss of equity as house prices have continued to erode, it feels like there’s very little to be done but just wait this recovery out. … Continue Reading

Agency law in Virginia has changed… Part II

July 31, 2012 by Blue Ridge Leader Lifestyle, Real Estate Be the first to comment
Carl Fischer headshot

By Carl Fischer

July 1, 2012 has now passed, and the new regulations put in place by the Virginia Real Estate Board (VREB) and through it’s licensing and oversight arm, the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation (DPOR) are now the law of the land.

So from this date forward, when you engage for the first time ANY licensed real estate agent or broker here in the Commonwealth of Virginia, be prepared to declare how you would like him to provide services for you. You have three choices:

  1. As a STANDARD AGENT, who has the normal and usual responsibilities to represent you as in the past. But he may also have additional duties which you and he must agree to, in writing, or
  2. As a LIMITED SERVICE AGENT, (formerly a limited service representative), who acts for or represents a client with respect to real property containing from one to four residential units, pursuant to a brokerage agreement that specifies that he will NOT PROVIDE one or more of the duties set forth in a specific list itemizing such services, or
  3. As an INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR, whose role in NOT that of an agent, but may be referred to as a “transaction broker”, among other terms. In this capacity, the service you barter for (and agree to) is best characterized as a third-party facilitator whose job it is to seek agreement between the parties so as to achieve the goal of the client (you). The standards and duties of the agent in this capacity is far more limited on your behalf than either of the other two.

… Continue Reading

Local Housing “Trends” Are Still Very Fragile

June 6, 2012 by Blue Ridge Leader Columns, Real Estate Ticker Be the first to comment
Carl Fischer headshot

By Carl Fischer

For some time now, I have reported specific observations that have lead me to believe that our local residential housing market is “bottoming out”. And I have no reason at present to believe that trend in not continuing. But every erratic day on the S&P or DOW sends reverberations down my spine. And it drives buyers back into a fetal position bracing themselves for “what comes next”.

It’s not that a majority of our neighbors are necessarily heavily invested in the the stock market, but I think a very high percentage see these indicators as bellwethers for a larger trend in the regional and national economy. And we’ve all been so numbed by this seemingly endless “Great Recession”, that any observation whatever of present uncertainty feels like an aftershock to a bad earthquake, amplified by our worst fears. … Continue Reading

The Builder’s Wife

June 6, 2012 by Blue Ridge Leader Lifestyle, Real Estate Be the first to comment

By Cathy Little

Smart Homes
When we attend the builders’ shows, some of my favorite displays are the “smart” home vendors. The capabilities they promise evoke visions of a house that the Jetsons would be at home in – integrated control of lighting, heating, sound, security, etc., all at your fingertips.

Our clients have taken advantage of various aspects of this technology. However, you don’t have to build a new home to put this luxury to use. The best part about a smart home is that the various options can be integrated and managed through an LCD console user interface in your kitchen or better yet, remotely from your smartphone. … Continue Reading

Home Buyers Are Back

May 2, 2012 by Blue Ridge Leader Columns, Real Estate Ticker Be the first to comment
Carl Fischer headshot

By Carl Fischer

It’s been a long wait, but residential homebuyers in the under $500,000 price range in Loudoun County are back in sizable numbers.And they are carrying their checkbooks with them when they go house hunting!

After a very long five-year hiatus, homebuyers have finally emerged from wherever they were hiding, and on any given weekend, especially when the weather is good, they wander about the countryside and throughout the individual subdivisions, either with their agents in tow, or armed with reams of data on every conceivable property that might fit their needs. … Continue Reading

The Builder’s Wife: A Plan You Can See

April 4, 2012 by Blue Ridge Leader Lifestyle, Real Estate Be the first to comment

By Cathy Little

Whether you’re building a detached garage or a whole new home it is important to have a good picture of what you want it to look like. People often have an idea of the style of home they’re looking for and they typically have a wish list of what the layout might be. Communicating these desires to a designer is another matter. Three-dimensional home design software has been around for over 20 years and in the last ten has become first-rate; there’s no longer any reason to rely on two-dimensional drawings. This software (of which there are several options) will give you a sense of the final product right down to the grain and stain of the kitchen cabinets and what knobs are the best match. … Continue Reading

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Sustainable Planet

Pungent Curry

9 Apr 2014


The latest version of the IPCC report is published and once again it will go unread by the great masses of climate science deniers and unreported by the media. So it might be useful to revisit the fundamental physical realities …

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Ask Dr. Mike

Understanding Teen Suicide

1 Apr 2014


By Michael Oberschneider, Psy.D. Northern Virginia has recently experienced several teen suicides. Last month, two Langley High School students took their own lives just a day apart from one another, and this month it appears two students at Woodson High …

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Virginia Gardening

Spring Is Coming

4 Mar 2014


By Donna Williamson March is an in-between month – some cold and the return of glorious warmth now and then. One way to bring some delight inside is forcing spring-blooming branches. You can cut branches of forsythia, cherry, crabapple, kerria, …

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Sushi's Corner

An Easter Swim

1 Apr 2014

Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 11.10.56 AM

I felt like a silly nim “cow” poop with these Easter bows in our hair. Okay Nelly, maybe you didn’t because you’re a girl. But me, a Mighty Cairn Terrier male? – PLEASE! Pleasing Mrs. B for Easter pictures was …

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Amy V. Smith's Money Talks

What Baseball Can Teach You About Financial Planning

1 Apr 2014

Amy Smith-BRL

Spring training is a tradition that baseball teams and baseball fans look forward to every year. No matter how they did last year, teams in spring training are full of hope that a new season will bring a fresh start. …

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Go Take a Hike

Blandy Experimental Farm

6 Jun 2012


By Molly Pinson Simoneau It’s no secret that I love a challenging hike. I’ve written here about hiking sections of the Appalachian Trail and Shenandoah National Park. I’ve taken vacations with my family to Colorado where I’ve attempted to conquer a “fourteener” (a summit that is higher than 14,000 feet), …


Real Estate Ticker

A Buying Opportunity?

6 Nov 2013

Carl Fischer headshot

By Carl Fischer As a direct result of the uncertainty that has arisen from national and regional politics, with its unsettling effect on the Northern Virginia area, for the past two months there has been a market slowdown which has …

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From the Farm

From the Farm

5 Jul 2012

From the Farm

When the heat index reaches 110 degrees, as it has been doing recently, I try to keep in the shade, or stay indoors. But my lavender, about halfway from full bloom, seems to thrive in it. Hot and dry, I …

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April 2014
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: Art Gallery Reception for Featured Artists -- Abstract painter Evelyn Lopez de Guzman and contemporary painter Sandra Iafrate


April 12, 2014N/A

Meet Evelyn and Sandra and other gallery artists during a free, open to the public reception for this month's Featured Artists' exhibit "Living Color,” showcasing two accomplished painters Evelyn Lopez de Guzman and Sandra Iafrate, in a vivid and dynamic presentation of color, shape and our surroundings.

Evelyn Lopez de Guzman’s vibrant paintings awaken the viewer to connect with nature and the modern world through an interplay of shape, color, and textural materials.

Sandra Iafrate’s combination of realistic and surrealist interpretation of flowers, foliage and landscapes on spacious canvases convey a sense of movement and playfulness.

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Easter at "The Park"


April 19, 2014

Celebrate Easter at historic Morven Park with crafts for kids, an egg hunt in the formal gardens plus a traditional egg roll on the Davis Mansion lawn. Have a family photo taken with the Easter Bunny. Children should bring a basket for the hunt and a large spoon for the egg roll. $10/participating child (ages 2-12), $3/adult. Register at www.MorvenPark.org.

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VAL's Pals Kids Club


April 30, 2014

Join Inova Loudoun Hospital as the present their Beamer the Dog Program.

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May 4, 2014

Scouting for Bricks is an exhibit showing the Love for everything LEGO® . Come see amazing LEGO® creations by Fans of LEGO®, LEGO® trains, Mindstorms robots. We will also have live Star Wars Stormtroopers and an interactive play area with over 100,000 LEGO bricks. Scouting for Bricks is fun for the Whole Family! Visit us at www.ScoutingForBricks.com.

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View From the Ridge

Rural Loudoun Is Different, and We Say Dark Skies Do Matter

4 Mar 2014


In February of this year a sell out crowd gathered at the county public seat in Leesburg to provide feedback to the Loudoun County Planning Commission on the idea of adding additional sports lights to the upper athletic fields at Franklin Park. Franklin Park includes a really wonderful performing arts …



Steady and Nobull

4 Mar 2014

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Park and Ride Lots for Western Loudoun

4 Mar 2014


In 2003, the county purchased 22 commuter buses to serve a growing demand for bus service to Washington D.C. The demand has grown exponentially ever since. The county now owns or leases 65 large commuter buses (with plush seats and on board restrooms) and more are being added every year. The buses are often filled to standing room only as …



Sadie’s Race 5K and Fun Run Scheduled for Sunday May 18

9 Apr 2014


Sadie Smile Foundation is putting on the third annual Sadie’s Race/Walk and Kids Fun Run to Benefit Smile Train in Purcellville Sunday, May 18th this year. The race starts at 8:00 a.m. at the train station at 200 N 21st Street in Purcellville. Sign up at Active.com. When Sara Ablard lost her five year-old daughter, Sadie, two years ago, she …

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Dr. Joseph Rogers Dies at Family Farm

1 Apr 2014

Dr. Joseph Megeath Rogers, 90, died on Saturday March 8, 2014 at his Hillbrook Farm near Hamilton following a stroke. Physician, farmer, businessman, rural land conservationist, philanthropist and expert horseman, Dr. Rogers was a tireless advocate and practitioner of country living whose contributions in a broad range of interests were made quietly and with little fanfare. His public persona was …

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Zoldos Presented Citizen of the Year Award

1 Apr 2014


At the biweekly March meeting of the Lovettsville Town Council, Mayor Bobby Zoldos was presented the 2013 Citizen of the Year from the Lovettsville Waterford Ruritans. Presenting the award was Rick Adams, current president along with Board Member Peter Mullally and  Vice President Jeff Boogaard. Adams said, “On behalf of the Lovettsville Waterford Ruritans, we would like to present the …

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Around Virginia

Wolf Won’t Seek Re-election


Rep. Frank Wolf (R-10th) today announced that he would not seek election to an 18th term in 2014. He released the following statement announcing his decision: “I have decided not to seek re-election to the U.S. Congress in 2014. It has been an honor to serve the people of northern …

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Virginia Can and Should Work Harder to Combat Hunger


By Congressman Frank Wolf Last year, the USDA reported a record number of Americans are struggling to put food on their tables. Across the nation, 49 million people – including 17 million children and six million seniors – are going hungry, a number that has grown substantially over the last …

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Kaine Statement on Navy Yard Shooting


U.S. Senator Tim Kaine released the following statement on today’s shooting at the Washington Navy Yard: “My thoughts and prayers are with everyone impacted by today’s tragic shooting at the Washington Navy Yard. As we learn more about the horrific events that unfolded this morning, my deepest sympathies go out …

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Nominate Your Hometown Hero

9 Apr 2014


Upper Loudoun Little League’s Hometown Heroes scholarship closes on April 21, 2014. The application is available online at ULLL.org. The scholarship is open to all graduating seniors who played baseball for ULLL at some point in their growing up years.

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Lady Vikings Give Back

10 Feb 2014

The Loudoun Valley Girls basketball team held an event on Friday, February 7 at LVHS. The Lady Vikings celebrated “Pink Night” by honoring those who are battling breast cancer or have been affected by breast cancer. The event was held in conjunction with an event held at Woodgrove earlier this …

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Medicaid Expansion Battle Heating Up

4 Mar 2014


Did you know that there’s a very real possibility that a DC-style budget battle and government shutdown could come to Virginia? The Medicaid expansion battle …

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Endorsing for Profit Businesses?

4 Mar 2014

town of purcellville sign

I recently received an automated email message from the Town of Purcellville soliciting nominations for volunteer award recipients in cooperation with the Purcellville Business Association …


Another Vote To Overrule Purcellville’s Board of Architectural Review

4 Mar 2014

town of purcellville sign

The Purcellville Town Council, foolishly, in the view of many and perhaps most, has overruled its Board of Architectural Review and approved Mark Nelis’s and …



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