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Ask Adam: Luxury Market Status

by ARLnow.com | July 8, 2014 at 3:00 pm | 797 views | No Comments

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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 have to admit that my question is more based on curiosity than desire to sell or purchase anytime soon. Can you tell me if the luxury housing market is on the incline or decline in North Arlington?

A. To help me answer your question, I’m going to use statistics for the 22207 and 22201 zip codes. That is where the bulk of luxury, single family home sales take place in North Arlington, and it will reduce the variables in my analysis.

I’ll compare January through June in 2013 to the same time span in 2014. The price range I am looking at is $1 million and greater. I realize an argument could be made for whether $1 million will buy you a “luxury” house these days, but I think it is a fair cutoff.

In 2013 the market experienced the following sales activity:

  • Average sales price: $1,402,099
  • Sales price compared to original list price: 95.5 percent
  • Average days on market: 64
  • Number of homes sold: 85

In 2014 the market experienced the following sales activity:

  • Average sales price: $1,396,940
  • Sales price compared to original list price: 97.2 percent
  • Average days on market: 63
  • Number of homes sold: 106

You can see some improvement in the sales price compared to original list price, which is a good sign that sellers are getting closer to their asking price in 2014. There is also a 21-unit increase in the number of homes sold in 2014. I think this can be partially attributed to an increase in the number of new homes available, which is helping inventory catch up with demand.

There has been a 33 percent increase in the number of new homes sold so far in 2014. The increase in new home inventory is good news for homebuyers, but the cost of teardowns is rising sharply, which is causing the price of new homes to increase accordingly. With more new homes pushing the $1.8 million and greater price range, we have to be getting close to a tipping point where the pool of buyers able afford these homes dwindles. When that happens, the amount of days homes spend on the market should start trending higher.

Average sales price doesn’t really tell the story, but from what I am seeing, the average price you would pay for a luxury home in 2014 is higher than what you would have paid for the same home in 2013. I would personally categorize the luxury market as an inclining, though it is a gradual incline.

You can follow this link to view the current luxury market listings in Arlington.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Local Woof: Surviving the Dog Days of Summer

by ARLnow.com Sponsor | July 7, 2014 at 2:30 pm | 749 views | No Comments

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Editor’s Note: The Local Woof is a column that’s sponsored and written by the staff of Woofs! Dog Training Center. Woofs! has full-service dog training, boarding, and daycare facilities, near Shirlington and Ballston.

Yup, it’s hot. What’s a dog owner to do? Here are some suggestions to stay safe and cool for the next few months.

Please tell me you already know not to leave your dog in a hot car? Not with the windows down, not under a tree. The outside temperature should be around 60 degrees before it is safe to leave a dog in the car so we have several months before this is an option again. Leave the dog home, or leave someone in the car with the AC running. No exceptions.

Do not shave your double coated dog. I know it seems like shaving your golden retriever is a good idea in the summer, but it’s not. Double coated dogs use their coat as protection and insulation from the sun as well as the cold. If you shave your dog for the convenience of avoiding shedding be aware that your dog is now more susceptible to over heating.

Watch for signs of over heating such as excessive panting, bright red or purple tongue, confusion, and wobbling when walking. If you notice these signs get your dog indoors immediately and contact your vet. Never bathe an overheated dog in cold water. Cool wet rags on the stomach or inside of the thighs will help to cool them down. If your dog has fallen or seems confused an emergency vet visit is in order.

Play early, late or indoors. Walking your dog in the heat of the day is a really bad idea. Just because you can handle it does not mean your dog can. Humans sweat to cool off. Dogs do not. Dogs on leash will also tend to try and keep up with their owners no matter what, even if their bodies are telling them they should stop. Don’t put your dog in that position.

Trade the midday walk for an indoor game of fetch, tug or a tricks training session (your overheated dog walker will love you for it too). Training a roll over can be as exhausting as a good walk anyhow. Be super careful with brachycephalic dogs like pugs and bulldogs. They cannot handle the heat at all.

Swim. Swimming is some of the best exercise a dog can get and it keeps them cool at the same time. Arlington has two dog parks along Four Mile Run, Shirlington and Glen Carlyn. Both have small beach areas near deeper swimming holes where dogs can wade or swim to keep cool. There are also some private pools that can be rented by the hour for the serious canine athlete. A backyard kiddie pool is also a great idea and a lot of fun.

Have fun, stay cool. Fall will be here soon enough.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Former NASA Employee Starts ‘Health Box’ Delivery

by Ethan Rothstein | July 7, 2014 at 12:00 pm | 963 views | No Comments

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Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups, founders and funders. The Ground Floor is Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

A Better Health BoxSubscription delivery boxes have become in vogue in the past few years, with companies like Birchbox, NatureBox, BarkBox and Bike Loot delivering small troves of goodies every month to their members.

But, to hear Better Health Box founder Michael Slage tell it, none of the other subscription boxes on the market provide what his company, which he runs out of his Pentagon City home, do: healthy, tasty snacks targeted at specific populations with an educational focus.

Slage has worked at the intersection of healthcare and technology for 20 years, starting with “telemedicine” for NASA, in which he assisted doctors diagnose and treat astronauts on the International Space Station and other missions outside of Earth’s orbit. He is also the founder of Healthengage a health data analytics company that specializes in global diabetes data.

Despite his resume, Slage said his newest company — which he started last year as a diabetes box at Healthengage before spinning it off into a separate company — is important to him because of its direct, personal impact.

“[My previous jobs] were helping people, but it was all numbers and electronics,” Slage said. “It was helping people, but it wasn’t the same. This just means more. We’re literally sending care packages every month. It really makes a difference in people’s lives.”

Better Health Box Founder Michael SlageBetter Health Box costs $30 a month and includes three-to-five products, depending on their size, in each box. There are five different subscriptions available: for diabetes, general health, children, brain health and focus and sexual health, “which was a popular request,” Slage said.

“We try to do a mix of things that are unique that maybe people have never thought to try,” Slage said. “There are all these great companies making products people have never heard of, and all these people who desperately want to eat smarter and healthier. There seemed to be a need to matchmake.”

Slage, who has also worked for the Russian space program, said a key component of his company for the future will be expanding globally, both in the products it offers and the customers it serves. Since it’s a home-based company, Slage said he can’t ship globally yet despite demand for Better Health Box overseas.

“I believe in using multiculturalism to find solutions,” he said. “We want to use food and drinks from other countries that we don’t know about here, because if it works there, it will work here. Everybody’s human.”

Slage said each product is tested before it goes into any boxes — which his 9-year-old son helps him pack and coordinate. The testing process is key, he said, because “sometimes these healthy things are so foul-tasting.” For that reason, he thinks the educational component is just as important as the products themselves.

“Health education has really declined in this country,” he said. “A lot of people just eat what’s in front of them. Having a chronic condition makes knowing what’s in what you’re eating really important. That’s why we have doctors helping us to make sure each product is safe for the customers.” (more…)

Your Beermonger: Fourth of July Beers, 2014 Edition

by Nick Anderson | July 4, 2014 at 9:00 am | 473 views | No Comments

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Editor’s Note: This sponsored column is written by Nick Anderson, beermonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway).

What else did you think I’d be writing about this week? The Independence Day holiday falls on a Friday this year; it’s like a perfect storm of reasons to celebrate, and so we shall. Pool parties, cookouts, World Cup watching parties, you name it — there is reason after reason this weekend to crack open some great American beers.

Here are some of the brews that will be in my cooler this Fourth, and some recommendations for great summer party beers:

Three Brothers Drift: Not only is this my favorite new Session Pale (though at 5 percent ABV, it’s not technically a Session Ale), but it may be my favorite new beer of the summer. An abundance of Citra hops makes for a boldly flavored Pale Ale that is also refreshing; seemingly “evaporating” on the palate as my friend at their distributor says. Each swig of Drift invites you to the next, and you’re happy to oblige. It’s delicious, 5 percent, and comes in tallboy cans — I love this beer.

Devils Backbone Gold Leaf Lager: This is the beer to keep around for those friends of yours who say they just want a “beer.” Anyone can pop open a can of Gold Leaf and enjoy it. A light, easy-going malt profile and just enough hops to keep things crisp make Gold Leaf a great option for big crowds who usually drink more “mainstream” beers.

Abita Strawberry Lager: Don’t look at me like that. My love for Strawberry Lager is well-documented, so of course I’ll have some on-hand for the holiday. Bright in feel, with a bittersweet fruit note that never feels artificial or cloying, Abita Strawberry Lager is a mainstay in my fridge for as long as it’s available every year, and especially this Fourth of July.

Sixpoint Rad: This new seasonal from Sixpoint keeps winning me over a little more with each can I open. A riff on Radler, a blend of soda and beer popular in German-speaking countries and beyond, Rad blends a proprietary fruit juice blend rather than a sweeter soda, with interesting results. While my beloved Stiegl Grapefruit Radler is sweeter and easier to plow through, Rad has a tinge of mouth-puckering grapefruity acidity that defines the beer’s finish. Mandarin orange and peach notes dance on the palate, but Rad never loses touch with its acidity. At 3.2 percent ABV, Rad is a great option for a go-to sipper if you’re going to be outside for long stretches. You can also make cool little mimosa-type drinks with it if you have some sparkling wine around.

Hardywood Capital Trail Pale Ale: If you like your Pale Ales on the earthier, hoppier side, this beer is for you. I’ve developed a mild obsession with Capital Trail Pale since its release near the end of April. It’s a perfect (to me) take on the modern American Pale Ale: lots of dry-hopping gives it a touch of resinous, piney character but not so much that you think it might as well be an IPA. Great beer.

Port City Brewing Downright Pils/Derecho Common: No matter which version of Port City’s Pilsner you opt for, you’ve got a great summer beer on your hands. I personally lean toward Downright myself, but Derecho has a smoothness on the palate and a fullness to its hop character that many prefer, and it is a delightful seasonal release. (more…)

NOVA Legal Beat: Overtime for Off-the-Clock Work?

by ARLnow.com | July 2, 2014 at 2:30 pm | 773 views | No Comments

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Editor’s Note: This sponsored column is written by Mathew B. Tully of Tully Rinckey PLLC, an Arlington firm that specializes in federal employment and labor law, security clearance proceedings, and military law.

Q. I’m swamped at the office and often work 12-hour days. My employer says I’m not allowed to work overtime, so I end up working off the clock. Can I collect overtime for this off the clock work?

A. Employers cannot prohibit overtime and knowingly benefit from it without compensating employees for such work. The figure of speech, “You cannot have your cake and eat it, too,” certainly applies to such situations.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to pay employees not exempt from the law overtime at a rate of at least time-and-a-half for hours worked over 40 hours during a work week. Exempt employees include certain executive, administrative, professional and outside sales employees, among others.

The fact that an employee was not ordered to stay after hours and voluntarily worked off the clock to complete certain tasks does not automatically disqualify him or her for overtime. “Work not requested but suffered or permitted is work time… The reason is immaterial. The employer knows or has reason to believe that he is continuing to work and the time is working time,” federal regulation states.

As this regulation suggests, employer knowledge is important to FLSA overtime claims. Knowledge that an employee is working off the clock makes the employer obligated to provide compensation for such work, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia noted in Truslow v. Spotsylvania County Sheriff (1992).

Employers’ refusal to authorize overtime does not necessarily make them immune to FLSA overtime claims. Employers should not close their eyes to the off-the-clock work performed by employees and expect these refusals to save them in court.

As the Eastern District Court noted in Truslow, employers must act to stop any unwanted overtime work they know, or should know, is being performed. An employer cannot “stand idly by and allow an employee to perform overtime work without proper compensation, even if the employee does not make a claim for the overtime compensation.”

This knowledge requirement could be satisfied if the employer observed the employee working overtime or was told he or she was working overtime. Additionally, an employer could have constructive knowledge of overtime work performed in situations where a “plaintiff’s job required the task that took up the overtime hours and plaintiff had not been prohibited from working the extra time,” the Eastern District Court said in Gonzales v. McNeil Technologies, Inc. (2007).

Employees who believe they are not being compensated for overtime hours worked off-the-clock should consult with an experienced employment law attorney who can prepare an FLSA lawsuit. An attorney can help the employee calculate how much overtime compensation he or she should receive and show that the employee knew or should have known such overtime work was being performed.

Mathew B. Tully is the founding partner of Tully Rinckey PLLC. Located in Arlington, Va. and Washington, D.C., Tully Rinckey PLLC’s attorneys practice federal employment law, military law, and security clearance representation. To speak with an attorney, call 703-525-4700 or to learn more visit fedattorney.com. 

 The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Ask Adam: Radon Testing

by ARLnow.com | July 1, 2014 at 2:30 pm | 654 views | No Comments

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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. We’re preparing to buy a house and are doing some preliminary research. One thing I came across is the idea of radon testing. This is something I have not heard of before and am wondering if you can help me understand how it relates to buying a home? 

A. According to the EPA, “exposure to radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. Radon is an odorless, tasteless and invisible gas produced by the decay of naturally occurring uranium in soil and water. For most Americans, their greatest exposure to radon is in their homes; especially in rooms that are below grade (e.g., basements), rooms that are in contact with the ground and those rooms immediately above them.”

According to the EPA map, Arlington falls within an orange zone, which is defined as having a predicted average indoor radon screening level between 2 and 4 pCi/L. The EPA recommends remediation for any home that has a concentration of 4 pCi/L or higher.

Keep in mind that these levels will vary from one home to the next within Arlington depending on the location and composition of the home. For example, as homes are being built tighter to make them more energy efficient, they can also trap greater concentrations of radon inside the home.

If you would like to include radon testing as part of your real estate transaction, you will use the same addendum as the home inspection contingency. In fact, the structure of the two contingencies are very similar. You will designate a certain number of days for the contingency, which will allow the testing and lab work to take place. You will also designate how many days each party will have to respond to a negotiation in a case where the buyer would like the seller to remediate unsafe levels of radon. You also reserve the right to void the contract based on the results.

In my experience, sellers are less apprehensive about radon testing than they are about a standard home inspection. If radon is something that concerns you, then I highly recommend testing for it. The cost of a professional radon test, usually ranges from $150 to $200. You can also buy your own test kit on Amazon.com for $11.99, but this will not meet the standards required for a radon contingency in a real estate transaction. The radon contingency requires a radon professional certified by the National Radon Safety Board, or the National Radon Proficiency Program using EPA approved testing methods.

When I bought my house I decided not to include radon testing as part of the transaction. I purchased a kit at Home Depot shortly after closing to test it on my own. I knew that radon remediation is not terribly expensive in most cases so I was willing to take on that risk.  We were well within the safe range and I was able to save the money I would have spent on a professional test. I also had one less item getting in the way of me negotiating the price I wanted. That said, I’m a little less averse to risk than I encourage my clients to be.

I didn’t even scratch the surface of information available about radon that is available on the EPA website. If you have additional questions about what it is and the risks it poses, I highly recommend spending some time on their website.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

The Scratching Post: The World Through Your Cat’s Nose

by ARLnow.com | June 30, 2014 at 2:30 pm | 672 views | No Comments

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Editor’s Note: The Scratching Post is a column that’s sponsored and written by the staff at NOVA Cat Clinic.

Can you imagine walking into a house you’ve never been in and being able to smell how many people are in it? What about being able to smell fear or kindness?

Every day, cats take in this kind of information through their little pink or black noses. We have the ability to smell the roses, but Fluffy can smell what person or animal stopped by to give them a sniff. A cat’s sense of smell is about 14 times stronger than ours, so that’s how they get a lot of their information about the world around them.

Cats need to gather this information because in their world, information is left behind with scent and pheromones. Cats aren’t able to leave little notes saying things like “This couch is mine” or “I’m in the mood for love.”  They have to use pheromones which are in their saliva, urine, and feces, or the scent glands on their faces and near their paws.  Rubbing your pant leg or scratching the couch is the only way Fluffy can “leave a note” for any other potential cats that may come by.

Every day when I come home from work my cats love to smell me, my clothes, and my belongings. They are learning where I’ve been and gathering information about any cats that I may have touched. Sometimes if there’s a particularly interesting smell, they will sniff and sniff then open their mouths slightly and lift up their head for a few seconds.

I’ve always called this “stinky face,” but it has a technical term. It’s a Flehmen Response. This happens when cats inhale a scent over their vomeronasal (or Jacobson’s) organ. It is a scent organ located in the mouth behind the front teeth that links directly to the nasal cavity. Only a few mammals and snakes have this organ and it helps kitties gather a lot more information than a regular sniff. It’s akin to what we humans do when we are trying to discern the nuanced qualities of a fine wine, so even though it may look as though your cat is making a funny face it may be something they actually enjoy.

So they next time you see your kitty make “stinky face” or see them inexplicably sniffing a random spot on the floor, you’ll know that they’re just reading a “note” left behind from another cat (or maybe even themselves).

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com. 

Public Sector Investment Spurring Arlington Startup Economy

by Ethan Rothstein | June 30, 2014 at 12:00 pm | 951 views | No Comments

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Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups, founders and funders. The Ground Floor is Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Virginia's Center for Innovative TechnologyIt’s nearly impossible to be around the startup industry in Arlington without hearing about which companies the Virginia Center for Innovative Technology is investing in.

CIT Gap Funds is the program that invests in Virginia-based, early-stage technology, life science and “cleantech” companies. According to Gap Funds Managing Director and founder Tom Weithman, the Gap Funds program is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that receives between $3 million and $4 million annually from the state to invest. With a portfolio of 113 companies, it’s widely believed to be the most active angel investor in the D.C. area.

CIT owns equity in 13 Arlington-based companies: Airside Mobile, CirrusWorks, Encore Alert, LiveSafe, uKnow, PerformYard, Speek, Veenome, Zoobean, Power Supply, Wealthengine, DistilIT and Loop88. CIT also has pledged an investment to Rosslyn-based Ostendio, but Ostendio has yet to close its seed funding round.

For at least some of those companies, the CIT Gap Funds investment spurred their move to Arlington. Zoobean, which was featured on ABC’s Shark Tank this spring but secured investment before the episode aired and CIT knew who had invested from the show. When the episode aired, Zoobean co-founder Felix Brandon Lloyd and his wife and cofounder, Jordan Lloyd Bookey, could finally spread the word that Mark Cuban had invested $250,000 in their company. They’re now headquartered in Rosslyn’s ÜberOffices.

The CIT investors knew “there was a major opportunity coming,” Lloyd said, but decided not to wait and helped facilitate and gather investors for the company’s $980,00 funding round, completed in April.

Jordan Lloyd Bookey and Felix Brandon Lloyd of Zoobean“They agreed to do the legal work and diligence and to tell other investors that they were the lead investors,” Lloyd told ARLnow.com. Zoobean had been headquartered in D.C.’s 1776 accelerator. “They told me we’d have to move to Virginia, I told him we were open to that… I think it was one of the things in my [investment] deck, you anticipate what things they may ask. I made it clear that we understood what it meant so they didn’t have to sell us.”

Most Arlington companies interact with CIT’s Dan Mindus, who is a founder of venture capital firm NextGen Angels. Lloyd initially met Mindus for coffee and advice, and in their conversation, Mindus broached the idea of pursuing a CIT investment, Lloyd said.

“I knew nothing about CIT at the time, I was sincerely asking him for advice,” Lloyd said. Mindus would sponsor Zoobean to CIT’s investment board, which gave Zoobean pointers after an “initially negative” response. When Lloyd came back, after working with Mindus and CIT, the fund eventually agreed to invest $100,000 with a $50,000 reserve available.

Weithman said CIT typically invests between $100,000 and $200,000 in a company, but its primary mission is to catalyze future investment. Similar funds in other areas, like on Lloyd had been a part of with his previous company in Pittsburgh, invest money to create jobs. That’s not what the Gap Funds are necessarily intended to do.

“Company growth and profitability are the ultimate arbiter of success in this early stage investment,” Weithman said. “We consider investment by the private sector to be a highly validating process metric of what we do. If we invested for job growth, that could send you down a number of unusual paths. High-growth techonology companies develop other innovation and contribute to Virginia’s economic ecosystem.” (more…)

Your Beermonger: We Are All Beer Geeks Now

by Nick Anderson | June 27, 2014 at 3:00 pm | 424 views | No Comments

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Editor’s Note: This sponsored column is written by Nick Anderson, beermonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway).

(Updated at 3:30 p.m.) I’ve had a thought festering in my head for some time now, but hadn’t been able to crystallize it until a conversation I had with my wife recently. We were talking about Vintage Ads; a repository for images and videos of classic advertisements from yesteryear. My favorite posts on Vintage Ads are often the food-related ones, which tell the tale of American food appreciation throughout the 20th Century.

My wife was pointing out how in the span of a few decades, Americans went from Hot Buttered Cheerios, Squirrel-in-Cider, gelatin-molded veg-all “pie-plate salads,” Impossible Cheeseburger Pie, and frosted ham to a nation of organic, biodynamic, locavore, gluten-free, non-GMO, traditionally-styled/fusion/niche cuisine-craving foodies. That’s when the thought finally came together in my head, as we both realized that beer has taken a very similar path…

We are all Beer Geeks now.

Follow me for a moment: A media star rises, suddenly opening the eyes of an American audience to the history, culture and possibility of their consumables. Most importantly, Americans learn that doing it themselves is easier than they think — and it sparks a revolution. Other celebrities follow, and within a couple of decades an entire industry comes alive, spurred on by those who were inspired by that first exposure, and an American public newly awakened and curious about what it’s been missing out on.

Of course I’m thinking of Julia Child, but I could also be writing about the late beer writer Michael Jackson. In the wake of The French Chef, America discovered more culinary guides: Jacques Pepin, Graham Kerr, Emeril Lagasse, Mario Batali, Anthony Bourdain… hell, throw in Rachael Ray, Paula Deen, and Martha Stewart — it’s a big tent, after all, with room for many tastes and interests. Millions were inspired to start cooking for themselves at home; a small percentage of those went on to careers in the restaurant/food industry. Just like that, you have a revolution in food culture in the United States.

Jackson brought history, context, and a nobility to beer that largely had not been considered by America before him. With President Carter’s passage of HR 1337 in 1978, Americans began making their own beer in greater numbers than ever before; within a few short years, many of the pioneering craft breweries were already up-and-running: names like Anchor, Sierra Nevada, Sam Adams, and Bell’s began to stake out territory for a fledgling industry still seen as a curiosity by much of the country.

Their work found an audience thirsty for world-class American beer. One generation of craft brewers inspired the next to not only push the envelope in terms of flavor, but in the ambitions they had for the reach of their breweries and corporate philosophies.

For all the trends and fads, the overall arc of American interest in food has been a continually rising one. The “foodie” phenomenon has grown to the point where now fast food restaurants are offering “healthy” alternatives and are racing to out-do each other with artisanal-sounding ingredients. Neighborhood grocery stores now stock organic, sustainable, gluten-free items — stuff you had to search far and wide for 10-15 years ago. You can buy organic eggs at the 7-Eleven on Washington Blvd in Arlington now. The foodies have won. There’s no going back; this is the new normal. (more…)

Rental Report: When and How Should I Start My Apartment Search?

by ARLnow.com | June 26, 2014 at 2:30 pm | 1,028 views | No Comments

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Editor’s Note: This biweekly sponsored column is written by Rick Gersten, founder and CEO of Urban Igloo, a rental real estate firm that matches up renters with their ideal apartments, condos or houses. Please submit any questions in the comments section or via email.

In the D.C. area, good rentals are a hot commodity. Locals may have an advantage when looking to move, as they better know the ins and outs of looking for their next great space. But for those who are relocating, the process can be very overwhelming.

To add to it, many of our renters are frustrated to learn that they cannot find their apartments as far in advance as they would like. If you know you are moving to D.C. six months from now, when should you start looking? If you are able, come to town a few months out and check out neighborhoods. Narrowing down your search to a few locations you like and can afford prior to looking at actual units helps ease the stress of the search.

If you can’t come ahead of your actual search, try to do some online research. There’s plenty of great blogs and websites with information to help you get a feel for certain areas. Also make sure what you are reading is current. With all the development happening in this area, new hot spots are popping up all over.

Once you hone in on the neighborhoods in which you are interested, plan to come to town between 30-60 days prior from your move date to find your actual apartment. In Virginia, renters are required to give 60 days notice to vacate, so apartment buildings and individual landlords will know their availability within that time.

When you plan your trip, be ready to rent a unit you like while you are here. More often than not, if you walk away from a unit you like, it won’t be there a few weeks from now. While you are visiting, be sure to have everything you will need to apply for an apartment. At a minimum, you need a form of identification, proof of income (2 recent paystubs, W-2, or offer letter from a new position), and monies for an application fee and deposit.

Application fees generally run around $30-60 depending on the property. At a managed apartment, you may have to pay a deposit upon application of a few hundred dollars to reserve the unit if you are approved. Some places take credit cards and some don’t, so be prepared with a checkbook, or possibly certified funds. When applying for an individual rental, requirements vary as well, but be ready with an application fee, security deposit (usually equal to one month rent, but in Virginia it can be up to two months) and the first month’s rent.

Every real estate broker does this differently, but generally they will ask for personal checks upon application. Once your application is approved, and you may move forward with the lease, they will give you your checks back and ask for certified funds when you sign the lease. With individual units, you will sign the lease right away to secure the unit for your move date.

A few other tips:  (more…)

Ask Adam: Months of Inventory

by ARLnow.com | June 24, 2014 at 1:20 pm | 951 views | No Comments

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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. Despite positive reports about the local real estate market, I would like to find out how my neighborhood and zip code are selling. I’ve heard that finding out the rate of sales compared to the amount of inventory is a valuable analysis. Can you tell me where this information is located on the internet?

A. What you are referring to is often called the absorption rate. Absorption rate calculates how approximately how many months it will take to sell the current inventory of active real estate listings, based on the most recent sales volume.

  • More than six months of inventory on the market is generally considered a buyer’s market.
  • Less than six months of inventory on the market is generally considered a seller’s market.
  • Six months of inventory on the market is generally considered a balanced market.

It will be easier to understand if I take you through an example. Let’s analyze the absorption rate for the 22207 zip code:

  • Within the last 90 days, 159 properties have gone under contract.
  • That’s an average of 53 properties per month.
  • Currently there are 113 properties actively on the market.
  • At the current rate of 53 properties being sold per month, we have a little over two months of inventory on the market.

If you agree with the assumption that under six months of inventory is a seller’s market, then this analysis would indicate that 22207 is currently experiencing a strong seller’s market.

I think it is smart that you want to analyze your neighborhood as well as your zip code. We often find that neighborhoods and condo buildings within a given zip code can perform quite differently.

I don’t know of a website that provides this type of analysis, but your Realtor should be able to create a custom absorption rate chart with data from the multiple listing service (MLS). If you don’t have a Realtor yet then let me know and we can help you out with this information.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Local Woof: What to Know About Tiny Dogs

by ARLnow.com Sponsor | June 23, 2014 at 2:30 pm | 979 views | No Comments

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Editor’s Note: The Local Woof is a column that’s sponsored and written by the staff of Woofs! Dog Training Center. Woofs! has full-service dog training, boarding, and daycare facilities, near Shirlington and Ballston.

Small dogs are great for urban environments. They are generally easier to exercise than large dogs and take up less space with their small crates and small beds.

Small dogs are just as smart and trainable as large dogs. Small dogs get a bad rap because too often owners find it faster and easier to just pick up the dog rather than train it, something that is not possible with a large dog. It’s not until the dog is older that some owners realize they missed the boat in teaching their small dog manners.

Small dog training tip: As long as it is safe, put your small dog on the ground and let them walk! Just because you can carry your dog, doesn’t mean you should. Small dogs need the same socialization and life experiences as big dogs and they can’t get that being carried around. If you socialize and train your small dog, they can do everything a large dog can and more.

My biggest concern for small dogs is their safety. Small dogs are, well, small. That makes it much easier for them to get hurt in a world that is 10 times their size. And they seem to be getting smaller and smaller. I have recently seen a lot of dogs who are under 5 pounds! Dogs in the under-20-pound range need some extra protection.

Small dogs should not play with large dogs unless you know the larger dog extremely well. Tiny dogs should never go to a dog park unless there is a designated small dog enclosure. The chances that a tiny dog will be hurt or scared by a larger dog is much too high, even if the larger dog did not intend to hurt the small dog.

Have you ever heard of predatory drift? Predatory drift is something all dog owners need to be aware of and most have never heard about. Predatory drift is a situation in which a dog will suddenly view another, usually much smaller, dog as prey. This is often preceded by the small dog running away and/or yipping in a high pitch.

These prey-like behaviors flip a switch in the dogs brain and the larger dog will then attack and bring down the small dog as if it were a prey animal like a squirrel or rabbit. In the best case scenario, the small dog is terrified and traumatized. In the worst case scenario, the small dog does not survive. This happens so much more often than anyone realizes, and it has happened many times in the past few years right here in Northern Virginia.

If you have a very small dog, make sure you go out of your way to arrange safe, similar-sized play groups. If your dog goes to daycare, ask the staff if they know what predatory drift is and make sure that small dogs are put in appropriate play groups.

Small dogs are smart, trainable and fun. A little bit of caution can make sure they live a long happy life.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

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