55°Clear

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — October 6, 2014 at 1:30 pm 360 0

The Scratching Post banner

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

My Cat Has MRSA. That sounds terrifying. How did this happen? Am I going to get sick? What about my children?

First, MRSA stands for Meticillin-resistant (previously methicillin) Staphylococcus aureu. This type of bacteria was first seen in 1951. Methicillin is actually no longer manufactured, but the name remains. The resistance came about because of over-use of antibiotics when they were not needed. Meticillin is in the penicillin family of drugs and they work by destroying the bacterium protective cell wall. Unfortunately, these drugs no longer work on this resistant form of staphbacteria. Other antibiotics do work and the infections can be eradicated though it can take time.

Humans can give MRSA to animals, but thankfully it is rarely the other way around. Staph is commonly found on human skin. About 20% of people carry MRSA in their nasal cavities. Most healthy people do not have any issue with it, and may not even know about it, unless they have a cut or undergo surgery. Things can become challenging if an infection takes hold. Good hygiene habits are the simplest way to avoiding the bacteria. Because this bacteria is resistant to certain types of antibiotics, if it does take hold it can sometimes be difficult to fully eradicate.

Here at NOVA Cat Clinic, we have started seeing more cases of MRSA in our feline patients. We always try to culture wounds or skin infections before using any antibiotics so we can make sure we use the right ones. Since we are doing more cultures, we are finding this organism more frequently and have been able to treat it effectively with the proper antibiotics and supportive therapy like our therapeutic laser.

We currently have a cat that was left here because of this condition. The owner has small children and would not have been able to separate kitty while she were being treated. We have been treating her and we are planning on re-culturing soon to be sure the infection is cleared. Once the infection is gone we plan to find her a new home. She is a sweet and loving cat and she would make someone a wonderful companion.

Please call us at 703-525-1955 or email us at office@novacatclinic.com if you would like to know more.

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

by Nick Anderson — October 3, 2014 at 3:00 pm 317 0

Your Beermonger logo

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

Veering away from existential crises and the wider beer business as a whole this week, I’d like to relate one of the best parts of my job, and of being a beer fan in general: the unexpected, pleasant surprise.

Last week saw the Virginia debut of Nebraska Brewing Company, and I was particularly looking forward to carrying their Melange a Trois, which I got to try at the 2012 edition of SAVOR along with their IPA. But those weren’t the only Nebraska Brewing beers to arrive last week, and I took a flier on a six-pack of Brunette Nut Brown Ale because I’m a fan of the style and liked the idea of having one in cans. Sure enough, Brunette is great: all of the nutty and malty flavor you’d expect from classic examples like those from Sam Smith and other English brewers but lighter, less rich on the palate. This is an easy-going, flavorful, delightful beer that just got me from out of nowhere.

Not all “surprising” beers are everyday drinkers or more modest in style: I knew I’d enjoy Ballast Point’s Grapefruit Sculpin, but didn’t expect to become as fixated with it as I have when trying it during my visit to Stone for their anniversary party back in August.

The recently released 2014 bottling of Swiss brewery BFM’s Abbaye de St. Bon-Chien Grand Cru, aged entirely in Champagne barrels (or as they say on the label “Frenchy Sparkling Wine Barrels”) was something no 11 percent Sour Ale has any right to be — refreshing. Something about that version of that beer gives is the trademark Bon-Chien sourness up front, while smoothing out on the back with a finish that draws you right back in for more.

Stone’s Collaboration Series has produced more than its fair share of winners, often showcasing styles they are not necessarily known for. The new Xocoveza Mocha Stout fits right in with the best and most unexpected of them — a Mexican hot chocolate-inspired Stout using coffee, chocolate, vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon and chili peppers. Usually I’m wary of any chili-infused beer; I’m not a “face-melting — if you’re lucky” hot sauce guy, and too many beers that use hot ingredients can easily go too far. But Xocoveza walks the tightrope perfectly: it’s spicy rather than full-on hot, with roast, sweet, and spicy elements expressing themselves fully but also in harmony. Wouldn’t have expected it, but I’m enjoying it like crazy while it’s here.

What beers unexpectedly became favorites of yours? Which did you think you wouldn’t like but ended up loving? Let’s hear about them below in the comments. Until next time.

Nick Anderson maintains a blog at www.beermonger.net and can be found on Twitter at @The_Beermonger. Sign up for Arrowine’s money-saving email offers and free wine and beer tastings. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com. (more…)

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — October 2, 2014 at 2:30 pm 465 0

Rental Report header

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.

You’ve navigated the Arlington rental market to find the perfect place. We have some great apps to make the move and the transition a little easier.

Moving – Looking for something to help you stay organized during your move? Apps like In That Box (for iPhone) and BoxMeUp (for Android) will help you organize all of your stuff. Using QR codes, photos, lists and search, these apps help you find your stuff once you get to your new place. Need a storage unit too? Use these apps to keep your stored items organized as well. No digging through all the boxes to find your holiday party plates.

Neighborhood – Now that you are settled in, it is time to meet the neighbors. Check out Nextdoor, (Android and iPhone), a social network for specific neighborhoods. Nextdoor is still growing in this area, so you could be a trailblazer and start a network in your area. Use Nextdoor for organizing social events, meeting like-minded people, and even to sell your stuff.

Groceries – Obviously one of the more important things to figure out in a new area is where to shop and where to eat. For groceries, check out apps like PeaPod (Android and iPhone) and Instacart (Android and iPhone.) Peapod is a grocery delivery option from Giant. Instacart is a personal shopper service where you can get your items delivered in as little as an hour. The service is available for stores such as Whole Foods, Costco and Harris Teeter in the Arlington area.

Laundry – For many, laundry and dry cleaning is a hassle. Worry no more. Check out Washio (Android and iPhone) for all of your laundry needs. Washio is a door-to-door laundry and dry cleaning service. You schedule your service, someone comes and picks it up and they deliver your items back to you the next day. Prices start at $1.60/lb for laundry and $6.00 for dry cleaning dress shirts. Hate ironing? Laundered and pressed shirts are $2.75.

Transportation – With all these great things delivered to your door, it seems like you might never need to leave the apartment. Maybe now you’ll have some free time you need to head out and enjoy all the city has to offer. Below is a list of apps and sites to help you hit the town.

  • Car Free Near Me – This app/site helps you find just about any of the transportation options in your area. Enter your location and Car Free Near Me tells you the nearest Metro or Metro and ART Bus Stop along with upcoming schedules. It will also tell you where to find the nearest ZipCar or Capital Bike Share.
  • ZipCar and Car2Go – Need a car for a few hours for a quick trip out of the area, or to stock up on essentials at Target and Costco? These car share options are a great way to go.

Lastly, do you need an easy way to pay rent? Cozy is a great option, especially when you have roommates. Use Cozy to collect payments and send one payment from all to the landlord. Best part about Cozy, it’s free!

One of the greatest things about living in the Arlington area is having so much to do right outside your door. Technology helps create more free time to enjoy. So head out and enjoy!

Have a rental-related question you’d like Rental Report to answer? Email it to info@urbanigloo.com.

by Ethan Rothstein — October 1, 2014 at 12:00 pm 550 0

This week’s Arlington Pet of the Week is Luna, a cat with so much fur, her owners “could comb enough off her to make felted finger puppets.”

Here’s what her owner, Talia had to say about her furry feline:

This is Luna. She is a 5-year-old cat with the playfulness of a kitten. We got Luna when she was 2 years old. She is completely white and long-haired and has green eyes. We believe she is a Turkish Van. We adopted Luna from a woman who already had other cats and dogs which made Luna very unhappy.

She loves chasing hair ties and pom-poms, licking our toes and bird watching. She also loves just being around people and listening to the family playing the piano. Luna also loves to clean herself. She may be an indoor cat but she is obsessed with grooming and is always happy to be brushed and petted. Luna has so much fur, we could comb enough off her to make felted finger puppets.

Luna loves her new home and is truly a wonderfully happy cat.

Want your pet to be considered for the Arlington Pet of the Week? Email office@arlnow.com with a 2-3 paragraph bio and at least 3-4 horizontally-oriented photos of your pet.

Each week’s winner receives a sample of dog or cat treats from our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, along with $100 in Becky’s Bucks. Becky’s Pet Care, the winner of three Angie’s List Super Service Awards and the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters’ 2013 Business of the Year, provides professional dog walking and pet sitting services in Arlington and Northern Virginia.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — September 30, 2014 at 2:30 pm 696 0

Ask Adam header

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 are going to be selling soon and have been following the sales in our neighborhood. The homes currently on the market don’t seem to be priced as high as the homes that sold earlier in the summer. Which listings should we be looking at to determine the current value of our home?

A. This is an interesting real estate market we find ourselves in right now. Typically you can generalize the conditions of a market based on a steady plateau, incline or decline. This year has seen a lot more ups and downs when it comes to home sales. Some months have been much better than others as well as certain neighborhoods and price categories. My point is that you need to be looking at both the most recent sales and current listings to determine your home’s value in this market.

Most homeowners and agents look at the last six or 12 months of home sales to determine a home’s value. In this market, I have tightened my threshold to home sales within the past three months because of all the market fluctuations. I am also paying very close attention to any homes currently on the market and under contract.

The benefit of data from sold homes is that you are seeing what the market was willing to bear for comparable properties. You know exactly how many days it took to go under contract and if they had to adjust their price at any time. The photos and description will also provide clues as to how the home compares to yours and what adjustments you need to make in your comparison.

By factoring in active home listings, you can gain insight into the most current market activity. You can also visit the homes to see exactly how they compare to yours. You just have to be careful about how you evaluate the price. Just because someone is listing for more than the last house that sold, does not mean they will get it. As you can imagine, some sellers can be overly optimistic about their list prices.

The process I follow to determine a home’s value, starts by evaluating recently sold homes. I use this data to establish an initial baseline price that I think the home is worth. I then take that number and fine tune it with the current and under contract listings.

I evaluate my baseline number against the other homes currently for sale in the area. I usually look at active listings $50,000 above my number and $50,000 below my number. If it looks like there are some homes currently priced for less than my number that compare favorably, then I may need to adjust down. If it seems like we compare favorably to homes priced higher, then I may want to adjust up.

Then, I’ll look at the most similar homes to my subject property. If they are having a hard time selling for the number I was hoping to shoot for, then this information is insightful about the experience we may have on the market at that price. Conversely, if there are similar homes that went under contract quickly at my number, then maybe we should push for a higher price than they were asking for.

Lastly, it is important to take into consideration what I am experiencing with nearby listings I have active in the market. This is where it becomes important to work with a local area expert. I’ll also consider any upcoming criteria that may affect our listing (i.e. seasonality, interest rate hikes, buyer trends).

Pricing homes is much more of an art than a science. Take a look at all the information you can get your hands on. I know it is tempting to take the easy route and base your price off of Zillow or, even worse, your tax assessed value. Please don’t do that. You run a huge risk of pricing too low and leaving money on the table or pricing too high and having to chase after the market. Either situation will cost you thousands of dollars.

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

by Ethan Rothstein — September 29, 2014 at 3:30 pm 545 0

Local Woof logo

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.

The dog food market has exploded. There is almost an endless variety of dry dog food options, making it more difficult to determine what the best option is for your dog. Here are some tips to help you make an educated decision.

Bottom line, do what works – If your dog is healthy and fit on whatever food you are feeding him or her, there is probably no need to make a change. A couple of ways to determine if things are going well is to evaluate the results: you need to check the poop. If you dog is pooping more than twice a day, or if your dog is not producing solid formed stool, you may need to reevaluate what you are feeding.

Read the Label – Make sure you recognize the ingredients in the food. The first ingredient should be a whole meat product such as “chicken” or “beef.” Not chicken by-products or chicken meals. If you aren’t sure what a by-product or a meal is, don’t feed it. Look for other whole products like “rice” or “carrots” as well. You want as many whole ingredients as possible.

Choose higher quality, ignore the packaging – Do not be fooled by the packaging. Just because there are fruits and vegetables on the bag, doesn’t mean they’re in the food. Those fancy multicolored kibbles are colored with food dye, not natural ingredients. Pay attention to what is in the food, not what food is on the bag.

Don‘t always follow directions – When determining how much to feed your dog, simply look at your dog. It makes no sense to feed a dog by volume. For example, feeding it two cups, two times per day. Not all 50-pound dogs should be eating the same amount of food each day. Age, energy level, fitness level and body type are all much more important than weight.

Also, keep in mind that the faster you finish a bag of dog food, the faster you go out and buy a new bag. The dog food company has an incentive to encourage you to overfeed. If your dog is fat, feed less. If your dog is skinny, feed more. Adjust as necessary.

There is no doubt that good nutrition leads to healthier lives, so try and choose the best possible option for your pup.

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

by Ethan Rothstein — September 29, 2014 at 1:30 pm 379 0

Startup Monday header

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.

Data Illustrate founder Matthew FischerInspiration for the next startup can come from an unlikely source, as many founders know. For Data Illustrate founder Matthew Fischer, it came from a grad school project mapping out how the characters from the Harry Potter books would live on.

Fischer and his classmates were trying to use data to map out the future. They soon scrapped the project, but the data tools they were using, it turned out, gave him the idea for his next company, one that specializes in making real-time data easy to analyze and retain.

“After doing the grad school project, I continued doing research, talking to industry leaders and figuring out where the market was going,” Fischer, also the founder of Control A+ told ARLnow.com. “The market of data visualization is still growing.”

The company was started in the summer of 2013, and since then Fischer and two colleagues — one in Utah and another San Diego, Calif. — have built the company’s infrastructure. Data Illustrate is just starting to take on clients, for whom it takes complex data sets and simplifies them into infographics, motion graphics, mini-documentaries and data visualizations.

Data Illustrate infographicInfographics are static illustrations of statistics, like the pictured student census, left, taken from Data Illustrate’s website. Motion graphics are infographics but the pictures move to create more audience engagement. Mini-documentaries have become increasingly popular with the rise of Kickstarter, which encourages all companies to include a video explaining the premise of the fundraiser.

Data visualization allows clients to “see your data tell its story in real time,” which Fischer describes as a kind of “Doppler radar for any kind of data.” That means a trucking company that tracks where its trucks are can have an easily consumable visual instead of data points on a computer screen.

“Infographics tell an author’s story,” Fischer said. “Motion graphics tell a story and add motion. Mini-documentaries bring a human factor to the story and data visualization gives the reader information to make their own story.”

Fischer says he see the biggest opportunity to grow his company in the nonprofit sector, with organizations trying to break through the masses and make an imprint on donors, members and any other interested party.

“We can create art to share their story with more people and garner a higher retention rate,” Fischer said. “Nonprofits work with a lot of statistics, and we can share those statistics in a way that more people will retain.”

In fact, that’s the company’s tagline: “Retention is our game, art is our median, data is our speciality.” Unlike some big data and analytics companies, Data Illustrate doesn’t have a simple algorithm they simply plug each client into; they create tools and back-end construction for each individual project.

Screenshot of a Data Illustrate visualization“We don’t believe in ‘one size fits all,’” Fischer said. “A lot of these questions demand a custom answer.”

The visualizations, custom packages and work-intensive processes to get to this point mean that Data Illustrate isn’t quite ready for primetime. Fischer and his team are accepting clients, but starting in January, he expects to make a big marketing push to grow the portfolio.

By this time next year, Data Illustrate could find itself with a new specialty, new offering or new angle; such is the life of a big data startup.

“We’ve only tested about 10 percent of the limits we can reach,” Fischer said. “We’re beyond early adopters with Big Data and the future is going to take a multidisciplinary approach to look at insights data visualization could bring to companies and individuals.”

by Nick Anderson — September 26, 2014 at 2:30 pm 416 0

Your Beermonger logo

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

Early this week, I tried something new — I made beer.

I’ve been curious about homebrewing for years, but hadn’t bothered to take the plunge into trying it. Where I once stood with no knowledge of the subject, I now stand with next to no knowledge of the subject, but indulge me a moment to relate some thoughts about it, because I’m really excited about it.

To start, a confession: it wasn’t so much that I hadn’t gotten around to making beer so much as I’d been avoiding it. I don’t have enough time for the hobbies I’ve tried to keep over the years, and I didn’t want to get wrapped up in another one, spending my days even more frustrated over yet another thing I enjoy that I don’t have time in my life for.

I’ve been fearful, the way we all are when we’re attempting to learn something new, of exposing our ignorance of it. I was also afraid I’d be no good at it — hell, I still am, but I forget that none of us is very good at anything at first; otherwise there’d be no need to learn. Part of me has been afraid I’d get into it; I can get somewhat obsessive about hobbies, and I know there’s a good chance I’m going to fall down the rabbit hole.

So, being a first-timer I decided not to go crazy and try something small and relatively easy: I got an Everyday IPA kit from Brooklyn Brew Shop, which is well-worth checking out. It’s pretty easy, so the joy is in the sensations; the sweet smell of malt lingering in the house was a particularly nice one.

Adding hops to the beer — just handling hops, was awesome. I’ve been walking around all week with the packets my Columbus and Cascade hop pellets came in. I keep going back and smelling them — I think I’m addicted.

The real point is this: I’ve heard the “why you should homebrew” thing for years, and I’m here to say they were right, OK? I’ve got about a month before I get to see how bad the beer I made is, and I have to say I haven’t been this excited about beer in years. I’m already getting requests from family and friends for future batches, and I have the thrill of discovering and learning about something I had no clue about before.

So if you like beer, try making some. If you don’t like beer, find some new skill to learn or hobby to take up: our lives are fuller and more meaningful when we do. Until next time.

Nick Anderson maintains a blog at www.beermonger.net and can be found on Twitter at @The_Beermonger. Sign up for Arrowine’s money-saving email offers and free wine and beer tastings. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com. (more…)

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — September 25, 2014 at 2:30 pm 479 0

NOVA Legal Beat logo

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 have a disability, and my employer is trying to remove me because it claims I cannot perform the “essential functions” of my position. How do you tell the difference between essential and non-essential functions?

A. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers are required to provide disabled employees with reasonable accommodations, such as a part-time schedule or reassignment to a vacant position, so long as they are able to perform their position’s essential functions. In addition to being able to perform these essential functions either with or without a reasonable accommodation, employees seeking ADA protection must have a “physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.”

What qualifies as an “essential function” is largely a matter left to the discretion of employers. The ADA states, “consideration shall be given to the employer’s judgment as to what functions of a job are essential, and if an employer has prepared a written description before advertising or interviewing applicants for the job, this description shall be considered evidence of the essential functions of the job.” But that does not mean an employer’s assertion that something is a position’s essential function is not open to debate.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) regulation states that essential functions include “fundamental job duties of the employment position the individual with a disability holds or desires” and exclude “marginal functions of the position.”

When trying to determine whether a particular task qualifies as a position’s essential function, employees should ask whether the position “exists… to perform that function;” whether there is a “limited number of employees available among whom the performance of that job function can be distributed;” and whether the function is “highly specialized so that the incumbent in the position is hired for his or her expertise or ability to perform the particular function,” according to the regulation.

Evidence that courts will consider when determining whether a function is essential include written job descriptions, time spent performing the function, collective bargaining agreement terms, consequences of the function not being performed, and the work experience of people who previously held the position or those who hold similar positions, according to the EEOC regulation. It should be noted that job descriptions in advertisements may not alone be sufficient to dispute an employer’s claim that a function is essential.

For example, Thompson v. Heiner’s Bakery (2012), involved a delivery truck driver who, due to his heart defibrillator, was not able to obtain Department of Transportation (DOT) medical certification needed to operate any of his employer’s carrying-capacity-upgraded delivery trucks. The employee requested — and the employer refused — an accommodation in the form of a suspension of the delivery truck fleet upgrade and allowing him to drive a non-upgraded vehicle. The employee claimed driving a higher capacity truck was not an essential function for his position, and to support this claim he presented as evidence an employer truck driver job advertisement was silent on the subjects of gross vehicle weight ratings or DOT medical certification. (more…)

by ARLnow.com — September 24, 2014 at 11:30 am 675 0

This week’s Arlington Pet of the Week is Linus, a puppy who might have had too good of a time at Sunday’s Pups and Pilsners event in Crystal City.

Linus and his owner, Emily, are proud winners of the Pups and Pilsners social media photo contest, which recorded 31 separate entries from four-legged attendees and their beer-sampling leash holders. They will receive beaucoup Becky’s Bucks from our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, as well as the unofficial title of Dog King of Crystal City.

Here’s what Emily has to say about her friendly fido:

This is my new puppy Linus. He is a brand new addition to the family. He is about 5 months old and a beagle/bassett mix possibly. He was staying at a pet boarding facility and needed a forever home. At first, I tried to get some friends to adopt him but I just couldn’t resist his face and he was mine after only a few hours. He came into a home with 2 dogs already and he is loving every minute of it!

As the baby of the family, he likes to rile up big brother Blue and big sister Pixie and engage them in play. They usually comply and sometimes at night it sounds like a church choir in the house. The 3 of them have been getting along pretty well so far. Occasionally Blue and Pixie put Linus in his place but he is always determined to keep up. When he is not playing with his brother and sister, he likes to hang out on the couch and cuddle. He is very laid back without a care in the world. Of course, as a beagle, he follows his nose everywhere. He was having a blast at Pups and Pilsners with all the new scents. His nose hasn’t gotten him into too much trouble yet, but it’s only a matter of time before he finds himself in hot water.

I can’t wait to see where life takes us with Linus. He has already made our house more lively (and noisy). He is such a sweet dog and has so much love to give. I’m glad we could give him all that love in return.

Want your pet to be considered for the Arlington Pet of the Week? Email office@arlnow.com with a 2-3 paragraph bio and at least 3-4 horizontally-oriented photos of your pet.

Each week’s winner receives a sample of dog or cat treats from our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, along with $100 in Becky’s Bucks. Becky’s Pet Care, the winner of three Angie’s List Super Service Awards and the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters’ 2013 Business of the Year, provides professional dog walking and pet sitting services in Arlington and Northern Virginia.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — September 23, 2014 at 2:30 pm 644 0

Ask Adam header

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 a 1980s condo in good condition that I’m planning to sell when my tenant moves out. The condo will be vacant, so per the advice of a Realtor friend I got an estimate to stage the condo. It came out to around $2,500.  Wouldn’t it be better to invest that money improving the condo (i.e. new appliances) rather than spend that money on staging?

A. It’s hard to say for sure without seeing the condo firsthand, but in most cases staging provides a return on your investment that is hard to beat. I know it is a lot of money to invest in something that seems so temporary, but I have witnessed over and over that it makes a major difference in how the home shows and how much interest it creates. Remember that you are trying to create an emotional connection between the home and the potential purchasers.

Take a look online at homes for sale and compare the photos of ones that look staged to the ones that are vacant. Ask yourself which homes you would be more inclined to visit if you were a buyer.

If your condo is relatively small or has any awkward shaped rooms then it is especially important to show it with furniture as these spaces can be challenging to visualize. It sounds counter intuitive, but vacant rooms actually look smaller. They also make it more difficult to judge what kind of furniture will fit.

New appliances are nice, but unless you are upgrading the whole kitchen, they may look out of place. It’s also possible that they won’t be the style or color that the new homeowner would prefer. There’s nothing worst than inheriting brand new upgrades you don’t like.

I answered a similar question about staging in a May article that I recommend checking out. Below are some statistics I shared in that article.

According to StagedHomes.com:

  • The average sales price of a staged property is 6.9 percent higher than a non-staged property
  • Staged homes typically sell 50 percent faster than non-staged homes.

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

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — September 23, 2014 at 7:45 am 0

arlnow_header_Sept2014_625x218

Are you considering buying a home in Arlington in 2014?

If so, attend this Arlington home buyer seminar in Courthouse tomorrow Wednesday, September 24thfrom 7:00 to 8:30 p.m.

Three industry experts – Joe Zamoiski of 1st Portfolio Lending, George Papakostas of Long & Foster, and George Glekas of GPN Title – will give an informative talk about the process of buying a home in Arlington. Joe, George, and George have years of experience between them in the Arlington market, not to mention hundreds of successful transactions.

They’ll cover the home-buying process in detail, including:

  • Identifying a home.
  • The offer, negotiation, and closing process.
  • Financing, including loan approval and figuring out what you can afford.
  • State of the Arlington market.

In addition to the above, the purpose of the seminar is to answer your questions. Attendance is kept low to allow ample attention for all attendees. You’ll have plenty of time to ask questions during the Q&A or afterwards if you’d prefer to ask a question privately.

Click here to register

The speakers will present for 45 minutes or so, after which there will be Q&A for 30 minutes, when the seminar officially ends. But Joe, George, and George will stick around as long as necessary to answer all questions.

More details:

  • Location: In the heart of Courthouse at the Residence Inn Arlington Courthouse, 1401 N Adams Street (map).
  • Parking: Yes, free parking.
  • Metro-accessible: Two blocks from the Courthouse station.
  • Cost: $15 per person here, $20 at the door.
  • Food: Snacks and drinks will be provided.
  • Questions: Email seminars2014@urbanturf.com or call 703-842-1391.

Click here to register

by Ethan Rothstein — September 22, 2014 at 12:30 pm 951 0

Startup Monday header

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 screenshot of DescribeIt's platformA Courthouse-based startup is trying to usher landscaping companies into the digital age.

DescribeIt provides a tool for landscapers and other contractors to create proposals for clients, take online payments and track analytics. According to DescribeIt’s leadership team, it could be a massive leap forward for an industry in which many businesses still require customers to pay by check.

The company began when co-founder Ed Barrientos — also the CEO of startup Brazen Careerist, with which DescribeIt shares an office — wanted his yard landscaped. When a highly recommended contractor gave Barrientos a proposal on a sheet of paper and took multiple weeks to give a full plan and estimate, he was flabbergasted and no longer interested in being a customer.

“We thought it was an anomaly,” Barrientos said. “After two and a half years of research, it turns out that’s absolutely standard. Many jobs don’t get done because of a crappy sales job.”

DescribeIt co-founder and CEP Ryan Yanchuleff“We felt the problem wasn’t that they don’t want to sell better. They do, it’s just hard for them,” Barrientos continued. “These are big things people pay for, but the sales process is really backwards.”

Barrientos enlisted co-founders Ryan Yanchuleff, who is DescribeIt’s CEO and only full-time employee, and Daniel Sunshine to launch the company in February 2013. From then to this summer, Yanchuleff led the process of designing the platform, which allows landscapers to develop proposals in minutes, incorporating photos of plants, designs and clients’ houses, plus pricing data from The Home Depot and Amazon. The product also lets contractors email proposals to clients, take payments online, track the most popular designs and keep customer records for easy referrals.

DescribeIt launched in beta mode this summer — landscapers can subscribe for the service now — and the team is taking heaps of feedback in the fall before launching its full, alpha version in January 2015, gearing up for the busy spring season.

DescribeIt launched with friends and family investments, but this fall the team is looking to raise $250,000 to make its part-time staff full time and to fund sales and marketing efforts for the spring. The company joined 19 other D.C. area startups, including Airside Mobile and GovTribe, at TechBuzz on Friday, and registered on AngelList to try to spur investment.

A screenshot of DescribeIt's platformBarrientos and Yanchuleff met at their church, McLean Bible Church, and Yanchuleff was looking for a change after his small company was acquired by Rosslyn-based BAE Systems. Now, Yanchuleff is dealing with another challenge as DescribeIt prepares to go full-throttle: convincing landscapers to use it.

“Figuring out a way to coax these guys out of a non-technical shell was one of the challenges,” Yanchuleff said. “They’re not sales or marketing people, and the business side is a necessary evil for them.”

Barrientos said they are targeting newer business owners as customers, since older companies are “not going to change.”

(more…)

by Nick Anderson — September 19, 2014 at 3:00 pm 464 0

Your Beermonger logo

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

Will Gordon writes about beer for Deadspin on their sub-blog, The Concourse. Earlier this week, he ran an opinion piece about how he thinks Yuengling, well, sucks (you can read it here).

After the piece ran, Gordon took to Twitter to talk about a phenomenon I’ve noticed not only in beer writing, but in most critique/commentary. Noting the rate at which the Yuengling piece was being read/shared/talked about, Gordon said “Hey everyone, good job reading about Yuengling at 8x the rate” as recent reviews of his on beers from Troegs, Boulevard and others are read. “Way to reinforce bad behavior.”

Gordon was merely expressing his opinion as someone who is paid to have opinions about beer, and because he “likes to have fun with the Yuenglingers,” he took a particularly edgy tone with his piece, only to find it doing “disconcertingly well.”

It’s obvious to brush off the lure of negative reviews and other critical writing for readers; we all know of plenty of commentators who thrive on “trolling” audiences — the “Shock Jock” principle, if you will. That’s not what I’m talking about today; I’m talking about why we, as human beings, are more inclined toward the negative. Gordon ran pieces over the past few months listing his picks for the most overrated and underrated beers on the market — guess how they performed against each other?

I’ve had a little experience with this myself: I posted one full-on negative review, one time, as much as an experiment in tone for the writing on my blog as anything else — and I still shudder when I think about it. Thankfully, it’s not the most-read post I’ve ever done, but it certainly provoked more reader reaction and interaction than any other post. It remains on the site because it’s the Internet and nothing ever really goes away even if you want it to, but that’s the only reason. That’s not how I want to discuss beer; even beer I don’t like.

The environment these days is such that some are finding “listicles” too much work, simply posting context-free “(Insert topic here), Ranked” lists and letting the public dive into confrontation, baseless argument and name-calling. Aggregate rating sites abound, along with the statistical analysis of nearly every subject imaginable.

The entire concept of opinion is coming into question: it’s not enough to merely have an opinion today — your opinion is expected to have to be quantifiably “better” than someone else’s. Some days, it seems that unless you have objective proof of an opinion being more relevant than another, than it has to somehow be “wrong” and no one can simply be “wrong” anymore. To paraphrase Dr. Zoidberg, your opinion’s bad and you should feel bad.

Everyone’s ready to uncork on someone, or something, or someone uncorking on something. Am I getting old (I know I am), or has this gotten worse over a relatively short period of time? I don’t like people enough to want us all to just get along; there will be no campfire singing and handholding over here.

But can we not all remember that we all perceive flavor, aroma and color differently? That beyond our physical differences, our experiences do much to shape our tastes, and that what I enjoy may not be what you enjoy and may not be what the guy who gets paid to write about beer enjoys? Knowing this, can’t we debate the merits of one beer or another with a little less anger? Can we have just a little more fun?

It’s beer, after all.

I’m feeling entirely too reasonable right now. I think I’m gonna go have a couple and write an unnecessary screed against something. Until next time.

Nick Anderson maintains a blog at www.beermonger.net and can be found on Twitter at @The_Beermonger. Sign up for Arrowine’s money-saving email offers and free wine and beer tastings. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com. (more…)

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — September 18, 2014 at 2:30 pm 467 0

Rental Report header

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.

Overwhelmed by searching for rentals in the DC metro area market? Maybe you should enlist the help of a real estate agent. Here are some of the advantages to working with an agent in your rental search:

Expertise – If you’re new to the area, the expertise of a local agent could save you a lot of headache and stress. A local agent knows the area, knows the properties and can act as a matchmaker to find a great rental in an area you’ll enjoy. You may not have a lot of time to actually spend in the areas you’ve researched. An agent can help steer you to the right neighborhoods based on your wants, needs and hobbies. Your perfect neighborhood may be one you never considered.

More Options – Navigating the rental market alone, your search is limited to apartment websites, Craigslist etc. An agent will have access to the database the Multiple Listing Service, or MLS. Agents can research properties and schedule showings. While you may be able to find properties on the MLS without an agent, you will have to contact the listing agents and arrange the showings on your own. Rental agents may also know about specials coming up at particular buildings before they are made public, helping you score a deal on your apartment.

Representation and Cost – Ask the agent to provide a disclosure that they represent you and will be paid by the landlord. With this, they can help you negotiate and understand the terms of your lease.

Time – A rental agent can save you time. Again, they know the area, they know what buildings meet your criteria and they know the current rates and availability. They make calls and set appointments for you, saving you countless hours.

What else you need to know – Most rental agents don’t work with all properties and landlords in the area, so keep that in mind. That’s why they might tell you they can’t show you a particular property but they should be able to tell you how it compares to what you have seen.

  • Rental prices can change daily in managed apartment buildings. The pricing is based on the vacancy rate, and is often automatically adjusted with rent-optimizer algorithms. Just because you saw something on a website last week at one price does not mean that same price is available now.
  • Most rental agents won’t show you a dozen units. Just as your time is valuable, so is theirs. If they’ve shown you four units within your criteria, you are in pretty good shape. At that point, you should make a decision on the area and building you like best, as many apartments look similar and offer similar features. Seeing 10 more of the same category of units likely won’t make your decision any easier — in fact, it may make you more frustrated.
  • Agents can’t tell you everything. The Fair Housing Act prohibits agents from giving you specifics about demographics of a neighborhood or building. So they can’t answer questions like, “Are there young professionals in this building?” Don’t hold that against them, as they are just trying to keep the playing field fair for all.
  • Give them all the details. If you are going to need a co-signer for your apartment, let the agent know. Not all properties will accept co-signers. You don’t want them to waste your time showing you a unit if it isn’t going to work for you. If you have a dog, be sure to mention that in your first conversation. Many properties don’t allow pets, or they charge a fee or additional rent money. The agent will need to factor that in when selecting units for you. If you need to be close to the Metro, let them know, and let them know what close means to you. Every person is different. Tell them a little about yourself, what you enjoy doing, what type of food you like and where you work. Every little bit of information helps them find you a great place.
  • Not all agents are created equal. It is beneficial to find an agent who is licensed, and who specializes in rentals. This way you are sure to find a professional who understands your needs and is willing to take the time to work with you. You want someone who is going to listen and find you a rental that will make you truly happy.

Have a rental-related question you’d like Rental Report to answer? Email it to info@urbanigloo.com.

×

Subscribe to our mailing list