This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Adam Gallegos of Arlington-based real estate firm Arbour Realty, voted one of Arlington Magazine’s Best Realtors of 2013 & 2014. Please submit your questions via email.
Q. I saw one of those real estate TV shows the other day where the buyers were allowed to live in the house for several days before they completed the purchase. It was a great way to test drive the house if you will. Is it possible to arrange this on a purchase in the Arlington area?
A. Technically, it is possible to occupy a property before closing in Northern Virginia. In fact, there is even a standard form for such an event, called the Purchaser’s Pre-Settlement Occupancy Agreement. I can understand why a “test drive” sounds like a good idea to a purchaser, but pre-settlement occupancy is not for that purpose and it is rarely agreed to by sellers.
Sellers and listing agents recognize that it is standard practice for purchasers to request various inspections as part of the buying process. They have gotten used to the risk of pulling their listing from the active real estate market so purchasers can proceed with processing of their loan and inspections. But, it’s unlikely that they are going to agree to someone moving in before the sale is complete to make sure they still want the home.
Less than 1 percent of home purchase contracts in Northern Virginia include a pre-settlement occupancy agreement. The ones that do, usually entail a purchaser who was going to be homeless due to a delayed closing. It was not in place to further test the home. When I’ve represented a seller in these situations, we made sure that all contingencies had been removed and that we were holding a substantial deposit. We also had a level of comfort from the professional manner that the purchaser and her agent had conducted themselves throughout the transaction up to this point.
I truly don’t believe that most sellers are trying to hide anything. Many have been living happily in their respective homes for years without noticing any imperfections. I think the fear more stems from not knowing the buyer and what may trigger their nerves. Maybe there is a creak when the wind blows that makes the buyer afraid that the house is haunted. Next thing you know, they are lawyering up to get out of the contract instead of investigating what the actual issue is.
There are also a number of scams out there where a “purchaser” will occupy a property and then use legal roadblocks to stay in the property without paying for it. Obviously, this is a mess that every seller wants to avoid.
A few minor notes about the standard pre occupancy agreement:
- An “occupancy deposit” is often required in addition to the earnest money deposit.
- It does not provide the occupant with the ability to alter the property before closing. In other words, this is not your opportunity to get a jump start on painting or renovations.
- The purchaser usually pays a per-day rate to the seller for the time the property is occupied prior to closing.
- The purchaser is required to maintain adequate insurance covering personal property and liability during the occupancy period.
- The purchaser is required to transfer and pay for utilities during the occupancy period.
In summary… although pre settlement occupancy is possible, it will have to be a pretty special situation for most sellers to agree to it. I recommend that you take all the time you need deciding whether the home is right for you before entering a contract. Don’t be afraid to schedule multiple visits. You’ll also want to talk to your Realtor about the various inspections you should consider in lieu of a test drive.
The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.
Democratic Arlington County Board candidate Alan Howze, trying to unseat the first non-Democratic Board member since 1999, is using buttons with issue buzzwords on them to try to generate a new wave of enthusiasm for his campaign.
The buttons, instead of being splashed with the candidate’s name in big letters, instead feature issues Howze’s campaign believes are most important to Arlington voters, like “great schools,” “mobility” and “affordability.”
“We created these campaign buttons after listening to residents express what makes Arlington special and what issues matter most to them,” Howze said in a press release. “From great schools to thinking ahead to open space, the buttons capture essential elements of our community. The buttons are a great way to start a conversation about our vision for the future of Arlington.”
Howze is trailing behind Vihstadt — who won the April special election by a 57-41 percent margin after former Board member Chris Zimmerman resigned in February — in fundraising less than a month before Election Day on Nov. 4. This morning, Howze issued a separate press release announcing his goal of “zero pedestrian and cyclist injuries and deaths from vehicle accidents,” and a plan to accomplish that, including accelerating the Intersection of Doom improvements.
Howze’s plan calls for “complete safe routes to ALL Arlington schools,” expanding sidewalks and increasing police attention toward drivers making unsafe maneuvers for pedestrians and cyclists. He has also recently released campaign plans for improving the Columbia Pike streetcar and enhancing discussion on public land use.
This morning, the Sun Gazette endorsed Vihstadt, saying his months of service on the County Board have proven he’s willing to ask questions other Board members do not:
In another year, Howze might well be our choice, as we think he does want to tackle significant issues.
But the message his election would send to the Democratic oligarchy that has run Arlington — sometimes exceptionally well, but not always so – over past decades is that the public has gotten the anger out of its system, and it’s back to business as usual. That can’t be allowed to happen.
“It’s not divisive to ask questions, and question authority,” Vihstadt said at a recent candidate forum. “If I lose, the status quo prevails.”
He’s right, and while Alan Howze likely would be a fine County Board member — far better than he has been as a candidate – we think it’s the wrong time to turn back the clock. Vihstadt deserves a four-year term.
Actor Sean Astin, famous for playing Rudy in “Rudy” and Sam in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, will be among the tens of thousands of runners of the Marine Corps Marathon this Sunday.
Preparations are currently underway for the race in Arlington. Astin and the estimated 30,000-plus runners — U.S. Marines and civilians — will also be joined by retired Marine Cpl. William Kyle Carpenter.
Carpenter is a recipient of the Medal of Honor, the armed services’ highest honor, for leaping in front of a grenade to protect a fellow Marine, and losing his right eye in the process. He was awarded the medal this June.
Carpenter will skydive into the race — which starts at 7:55 a.m. on Route 110 — along with 11 other jumpers, to deliver a 7,800-square-foot American flag before running in the 39th annual edition of the race, the U.S. Marine Corps said in a press release. The race is the third-biggest marathon in the country, in terms of participation, after the Boston and New York marathons.
The race will end, as always, at the Marine Corps War Memorial near Rosslyn.
Runners will start on Route 110, travel through Rosslyn and up Lee Highway to Spout Run Parkway, before heading down the George Washington Parkway, over the Key Bridge and into Georgetown.
After about 15 miles in the District, the runners will cross the 14th Street Bridge before traveling through Crystal City and Pentagon City. From there, runners will pass Long Bridge Park and the Pentagon before traveling back up Route 110, past Arlington National Cemetery, for the race’s conclusion back in Rosslyn.
The Crystal City Business Improvement District is hosting a kid’s day for children in the area to have fun while the family takes in the race. At the corner of 18th Street S. and Crystal Drive, there will be “moon bounces, face painting, arts and crafts, cotton candy, balloon animals, circus activities, and more,” and admission is free.
Rosslyn will be hosting the race’s finish festival, featuring numerous post-race events and activities, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Many of the roads in Rosslyn, Crystal City and Pentagon City will be shut down on Sunday to accommodate the race. The full list of closures in the county is provided by the Arlington County Police Department, but among the notable roadways that won’t be accessible are:
- Wilson Blvd from N. Nash Street to Route 110, from 4:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
- Route 110 from I-66 to Jefferson Davis Highway, from 4:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
- George Washington Memorial Parkway, from Spout Run to Memorial Circle, from 7:00-10:00 a.m.
- Eastbound Lee Highway, from Kirkwood Road to N. Lynn Street, from 7:00-10:00 a.m.
- All lanes of the Key Bridge, from 7:00 a.m. to noon
- Crystal Drive from 12th to 23rd Streets S., from 7:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
- Columbia Pike, from S. Rotary Road to the Washington Blvd ramp, from 7:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
- Washington Blvd, from Columbia Pike to the Route 110 off-ramp, from 7:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
There will also be plenty of road closures in the District to accommodate the race, including in Georgetown and along the National Mall. Parking restrictions will be in place along the course in both Arlington and the District.
The incident happened around 8:00 p.m. on the 3200 block of 24th Street S. Police say a local resident, 31-year-old Timothy Lowe, was nude and doing push-ups in the middle of the street.
“The subject ignored numerous commands by police and began approaching officers in an aggressive manner while yelling obscenities,” according to a crime report. “The subject was taken into custody following a taser deployment.”
Lowe has been charged with indecent exposure, disorderly conduct and obstruction of justice. He was under the influence of the drug PCP at the time of the incident, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
Lowe, who spoke out against what he described as police profiling and harassment at a community forum on policing a day prior to his arrest, has had other run-ins with the law.
In September, he was arrested and charged in connection to a stabbing in the Nauck neighborhood.
Photo courtesy ACPD
Arlington Spends More on Low-Income Students — Arlington Public Schools spend about $21,000 per pupil on low-income students, compared to the $12,000 it spends on more affluent students, according to data from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. [Greater Greater Washington]
Tornado Struck Alexandria Last Week — A weak EF-0 tornado struck part of Alexandria this past Wednesday. A Tornado Warning was issued for Arlington as the tornado tracked north. [National Weather Service]
Teachers Endorse Kanninen — The Arlington Education Association’s political action committee has endorsed Barbara Kanninen for School Board. The teachers group said “Barbara understands that all types of students need personal support and that teachers are important partners in making this happen.” Kanninen is running against Audrey Clement.
Arlington’s ‘Ten Commandments’ — A parody video showing “Arlington County Government’s Ten Commandments” has been created by someone calling themselves “Jim Taxpayer.” The video includes commandments like “With These Riches, Which Have Become Thine, Build A New Covenant, A Glorious Car of Street, Thy Chariot of Vanity.” [YouTube]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
The collision happened around 8:30 Sunday night. A driver vehicle heading northbound struck a pedestrian just before the exit to Spout Run. The striking vehicle then drove off, continuing on northbound, according to U.S. Park Police.
The pedestrian, who has not been identified, is “currently being treated at a local hospital and remains in critical condition,” police said Monday night. It’s unclear why he or she was on foot in or along the roadway.
Investigators don’t have a description of the vehicle, and are asking witnesses to come forward.
“Commuters traveling north on the George Washington Memorial Parkway that may have witnessed this crash or may have information is asked to contact the United States Park Police Tip Line at 202-610-8737,” Park Police said.
Virginia Hospital Center refused to admit the potential Ebola patient from the Pentagon on Friday, according to county officials, despite the hospital saying two weeks earlier that it was ready to handle such patients.
Responding to an inquiry from ARLnow.com today, the Arlington County Fire Department confirmed reports that VHC refused the woman — who at the time was thought to potentially have the deadly Ebola virus — when medics brought her to the hospital. She never left the ambulance.
“We were turned away,” said ACFD spokeswoman Lt. Sarah Marchegiani. “We followed our protocol and brought the patient to the closest hospital (VHC), at which point we were rerouted to Fairfax Inova.”
VHC has not responded to multiple requests for comment from ARLnow.com. Marchegiani said the hospital claimed not to be prepared for such a patient, even though the department had previously been told VHC could accept suspected Ebola patients.
“The reason told to our medical director was that they couldn’t handle the patient,” said Marchegiani. Earlier this month, however, VHC told TV station WUSA 9 that it was ready to deal with potential Ebola patients.
“Virginia Hospital Center wants to reassure our community that the Hospital has the infrastructure and procedures already in place to screen, and if necessary, isolate, test and treat all high-risk patients. We drill and prepare for just such situations; therefore, our staff is highly trained to take appropriate precautions for a suspected and/or confirmed Ebola case.
A multi-disciplinary taskforce has reviewed our infection control guidelines and reinforced education of the Hospital staff to ensure it can detect a patient with Ebola Virus Disease, protect all healthcare workers so they can safely care for the patient, and respond to the patient in a timely manner.”
An ARLnow.com tipster indicates emergency responders called the VHC emergency room from the scene at the Pentagon, and were told to bring the patient over. The tipster claims hospital administration refused to allow the patient inside once she arrived at the hospital. The person tells ARLnow.com there was a “heated exchange” between the emergency physician and hospital administration inside the emergency room while the patient waited in the ambulance. The tipster also claims hospital administration worried it would lose business if it came to be seen as an “Ebola hospital.”
The county’s emergency officials reportedly have had talks with officials at VHC since the incident. ACFD confirms VHC has agreed to accept potential Ebola patients in the future.
Arlington County officials also have confirmed that the patient had not traveled to West Africa, as she allegedly first told authorities. In fact, she had not left the country at all, the county said, and had no contact with other potentially infected people.
“She had stated that she had traveled to Sierra Leone at the scene and did exhibit symptoms consistent with Ebola, so responders took all appropriate steps,” said Diana Sun, Arlington County’s Director of Communications. “There was an investigative process that went beyond Arlington. During the course of this, people close to the patient were interviewed and stated that she had not left the country. The patient herself, later in the afternoon, recanted her story and said that she had not left the country. When that last piece came in, public health officials felt confident in not pursuing” further testing for the Ebola virus.
There’s no word yet on whether the woman will face any charges.
The Arlington County Board unanimously approved the fee at its meeting Saturday. Earlier this year, the state General Assembly passed a provision to a state law this year that allows localities to levy up to a $5 fee on summons for traffic and criminal cases to fund the establishment of an electronic system for filing summons for traffic tickets.
According to the county staff report, the Arlington County Police Department issued 42,761 traffic citations and made 5,102 arrests from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014. The county estimates the new fee would add $200,000 in annual revenue, and that the new system would cost $150,000 for equipment to implement.
“When motorists are stopped by police, it adds an element of danger as both the motorists and officers are exposed to passing traffic,” the staff report states. “An electronic summons system would lessen the chances of a road shoulder accident during the course of the officers’ traffic stop and also provide the motorist with a faster and more efficient transaction.
“An electronic summons system will also significantly improve efficiency and accuracy in the processing of issued citations,” the staff report continues. “With an electronic summons system, citation data would be automatically scanned and electronically entered at the point of activity. Personnel will no longer have to subsequently re-enter data from hand-written summons. Once the citation is completed, the transaction data is sent electronically to the court’s case management systems, usually within 24 hours. This will also allow violators to prepay their fines promptly and aid the courts in managing their dockets while tracking their caseloads. The utilization of the electronic summons system will help reduce data entry errors.”
The money that doesn’t go toward paying for the equipment will fund the summons system’s maintenance. Equipment for the system includes handheld devices for officers, driver’s license scanners, portable printers and and barcode readers. Once maintenance for the next three years is fully funded, the county says, it will consider removing the $5 fee.
If you have a sweet tooth, get ready to spend time hanging out at a new shop coming to Westover. “Village Sweet” bakery is preparing to move in at 5872 Washington Blvd.
Owner Dawn Hart has operated a customized sugar cookie business online since 2006. She had wanted to expand her offerings and to secure a brick-and-mortar location, which would allow her to stop renting commercial kitchen space. It was her dream to open in Westover, the neighborhood where she lives, but she didn’t think any space would open up. It just so happened that the day after she talked to her husband about the prospect of opening a bakery in Westover, he ran into the landlord for the space Village Sweet now will occupy.
“We’re very excited and the location honestly could not be better,” said Hart. “It’s such a happening place.”
Although customers can continue to order the customized cookies Hart made so popular with Monster Cookie Co., the shop will serve a wide variety of sweets. Donuts, guava and cotija cheese pastries, seasonal granolas and dark chocolate cookies with steal cut oats are some of the goodies Hart plans to offer. She’s still playing around with the full menu and will do small recipe taste test events until the shop opens.
“We’re pairing some things a lot of people probably have not had before and opening up some unique flavors,” Hart said.
Something she’s passionate about is making sure the treats taste good, but also are baked on-site each morning with quality, local ingredients. There will be gluten-free and nut-free options for customers with allergies.
“We’re baking foods you’re going to feel good about eating. They’re not loaded with preservatives. They’re the best quality pastries you can possibly get. It’s just an updated version of your’s mom’s baking,” said Hart. “If you’re going to put a doughnut in your mouth, you should feel good about it. It’s so important to me, the quality of what people are eating.”
During the day the shop will have seating for customers, but certain nights will be designated for groups to rent out the space for custom cookie decorating parties. The bakers will come up with custom sugar cookies for nearly any occasion — such as kids’ birthdays, book clubs and holiday parties — and customers get to ice and decorate the cookies however they choose.
Village Sweet does not yet have a firm opening date, but Hart hopes it will be in January. There will be a grand opening celebration once she feels operations are running smoothly.
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