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ARLnow Weekend Discussion

It’s been a busy week, filled with important decisions.

Only today, the National Park Service announced it will spend more than $200 million to repair and rehabilitate Memorial Bridge, while the County Board voted this week to allocate its closeout funds and encourage more “accessory dwelling units.”

Elsewhere, a survey found that more residents would cycle if there were more protected bike lanes available for use, and Second Lady Karen Pence will appear on community radio station WERA next week.

And ahead of the 2018 legislative session, Arlington’s lawmakers in the Virginia General Assembly will have a go at renaming Jefferson Davis Highway and getting dedicated funding for Metro.

These were our most-read stories this week:

  1. Police Investigating Death in Pentagon City
  2. Morning Notes (November 27)
  3. Crime Report: Masked Man Seen Pleasuring Self in Courthouse
  4. Report Shows Disparities in Income, Health Care Across Arlington
  5. County Board Approves Long Bridge Park Aquatics Center Contract

Discuss anything of local interest in the comments below. Have a great weekend!

Flickr pool photo by The BeltWalk

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Listing of the Day: 2705 N. Yucatan Street

2705 N. Yucatan Street 
Neighborhood: East Falls Church
Listed: $1,595,000
Open: Sunday, December 3, from 2-4 p.m.

This modern Craftsman home evokes soothing, natural tones throughout. Featuring 4,485 finished sq. ft., 5 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms, this home has it all: dining room with pocket doors, gourmet kitchen with butler’s pantry, breakfast nook, laundry room and mud room, family room, master suite with walk-in closet, luxury master bath, basement entertainment room with wet bar and deck.

With contemporary features such as brushed chrome plumbing and light fixtures, stone accents, dark hardwood floors, grey cabinets against contrasting white countertops and custom white wainscoting and molding, this home exudes a refreshing and welcoming feel for your family, friends and guests. See it all for yourself this Sunday!

Available for immediate delivery, this home has its first open house this Sunday, December 3 from 2-4 p.m. Visit the builder’s website for blog info, video tour and full features description.

Listed by:
Gina Baca
Classic Cottages Realty, LLC
Phone: 703-256-1401 (Office) or 619-929-5585 (Cell)
[email protected]

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Crystal Couture Fashion Show Set for Early February

Crystal City’s annual fashion show will return in early February.

Crystal Couture is set for Friday, February 2 (5 p.m.) and Saturday, February 3 (2 p.m.) at 2001 Jefferson Davis Highway.

The event includes a pop-up clothes store as well as the fashion show. Organizers said around 50 local boutiques, retailers and designers will be showcased.

“This one-stop shopping experience lets guests browse discounted offerings on the rack AND on the runway as models showcase select offerings while enjoying sips from the bar and free five-minute make-up and hair makeovers,” organizers wrote.

And for those who wish to get on the catwalk, casting got underway for Crystal Couture late last month. Planning has also started, including producer Maggy “Fancy” Francois.

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National Park Service Approves More than $200 Million for Memorial Bridge Repairs

(Updated at 1:40 p.m.) The National Park Service has approved more than $200 million in funding to repair and rehabilitate Arlington Memorial Bridge.

NPS announced today (Friday) it will spend $227 million on the repair contract. U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) helped secure the funding, alongside U.S. Reps. Don Beyer (D-8) and Gerry Connolly (D-11) and Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.).

Construction will begin next fall on the 85-year-old bridge, with the project set for completion in 2021. At least three lanes of traffic will remain open at all times during construction, which — thanks to the project now being fully funded — NPS will finish in one phase rather than two, to save $35 million.

Officials estimate the repairs will increase the bridge’s lifespan by 85 to 100 years. Last year, the bridge won a $90 million federal transportation grant to help with repairs, matched by $60 million from NPS, after years of deterioration and neglect led to worries it could close by 2021.

Beyer, who represents Arlington in the House of Representatives, said earlier this year he would push hard for federal money to fund repairs on a bridge that carries 68,000 vehicles each day from the county into D.C.

“After years of work to secure funding to fix Arlington Memorial Bridge, today’s announcement gives us hope that the bridge will remain safe and serviceable into the 22nd century,” Beyer said in a statement. “Our tour of the bridge and press conference in 2015 crystalized the dire need for this funding. Since then I have worked together with my colleagues in Congress, leaders from Virginia and the District, and two Administrations to secure the money for these structural repairs. This truly is great news, and I thank everyone whose efforts brought us here.”

Federal officials are scheduled to discuss the project during a press conference in the District at 3 p.m. this afternoon.

The full press release is after the jump:

Virginia’s two Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine, along with U.S. Reps. Don Beyer and Gerry Connolly (both D-VA) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) , today announced that after years of effort by the Senators and House members, the National Park Service (NPS) has approved $227 million to initiate a long-awaited contract to fully repair and rehabilitate Arlington Memorial Bridge. The 85-year-old bridge, owned and maintained by NPS, is a vital daily route connecting Arlington, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

The Virginia and D.C. delegations, with support of D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, played a decisive role in successfully advocating for a federal FASTLANE project grant, as well as secured additional appropriations to launch the Memorial Bridge rehabilitation project in January. Construction will begin in the fall of 2018, with the project being completed in 2021, giving the bridge a lifespan of an additional 85 to 100 years. During construction, at least three lanes of traffic will remain open at all times to allow for continued use of the span. Identifying the remaining required funds allows the NPS to save $35 million in costs by completing the project in one phase rather than two, and will allow the project to be finished 18 months sooner than previously estimated.

“It is hard to overstate the importance of this progress on a key transportation project for this region,” Sen. Warner said. “It required the combined efforts of all of us from the national capital region – those of us serving in both houses of Congress, as well as the District government, the National Park Service, and the U.S. Transportation Department. These partnerships allowed the Park Service to design an innovative project that will save money and time for  the region’s commuters and visitors.”

“Arlington Memorial Bridge is among the nation’s most deteriorated bridges, and I’m extremely proud that after years of hard work, the National Park Service has committed full funding for rehabilitation of the bridge. This is a huge win for Northern Virginia commuters, as well as visitors to the nation’s capital,” Sen. Kaine said.”As we celebrate this good news, we should also redouble our efforts to pass a major infrastructure bill so other aging bridges don’t degrade to such a terrible condition in the first place.”

“After years of work to secure funding to fix Arlington Memorial Bridge, today’s announcement gives us hope that the bridge will remain safe and serviceable into the 22nd century,” Rep. Beyer said. “Our tour of the bridge and press conference in 2015 crystalized the dire need for this funding. Since then I have worked together with my colleagues in Congress, leaders from Virginia and the District, and two Administrations to secure the money for these structural repairs. This truly is great news, and I thank everyone whose efforts brought us here.”

“This is a victory for Northern Virginia commuters and the effort to improve our nation’s ailing infrastructure,” Rep. Connolly said. “I am pleased the National Park Service stepped up to the plate to address this uniquely federal transportation challenge. Communities across the country deserve this kind of good news about their old and failing infrastructure.”

“As Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, I could not be more delighted that the National Park Service has secured full funding to repair a critical priority, the iconic Memorial Bridge, with significant cost and time savings,” Rep. Norton said.  “When I visited the bridge before construction, I saw firsthand how it was barely standing, and why traffic has to be rerouted, bringing even more traffic congestion on both sides of the river.  With full funding rather than the phased dollars we already secured, we can finally break ground.”

The Memorial Bridge, which carries 68,000 vehicles daily between Washington, D.C. and Arlington, Va., was originally opened in 1932 with a 75-year design life. It is now structurally deficient, having never undergone a major rehabilitation. As a result a 10-ton load limit remains in effect, and large vehicles, including trucks and buses, are prohibited from crossing. Without a major overhaul, it has been expected that the Bridge would have to be closed to vehicular traffic beginning in 2021. However, NPS has an annual budget of just $20 million for transportation projects across all its assets in the National Capital Region.

The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments has previously estimated that closing the Memorial Bridge could cost local governments $75 million per year in transportation outlays alone. Moreover, transit studies suggest that traffic from the bridge would spill over onto other area bridges, particularly the 14th Street Bridge and Roosevelt Bridge, further exacerbating congested roadways in Northern Virginia and Washington, DC.

Last year, the region’s congressional delegation was instrumental in securing $90 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation for Phase 1 of the reconstruction of the Arlington Memorial Bridge, with NPS providing an additional $60 million in matching funds. At the time, NPS estimated that more than $100 million in additional funding would be needed in order to bring the Memorial Bridge into a state of good repair.

Due to years of chronic underfunding, NPS has been forced to defer billions of dollars in necessary maintenance on transportation infrastructure such as Memorial Bridge, as well as other facilities it operates, like visitor centers, rest stops, trails and campgrounds. In March, Sen. Warner and Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) announced legislation, the National Park Service Legacy Act, to address the maintenance backlog at the National Park Service, which is currently more than $11 billion, and Sen. Kaine is one of a dozen bipartisan co-sponsors who have signed on to support the effort.

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Open Houses in Arlington This Weekend

Looking for a home? There are plenty of houses and condos open for viewing this weekend.

Check out the Arlington Realty website for a full list of homes for sale and open houses in Arlington. Here are a few highlights:

2822 23RD Road N
6 bed/6 bath, 2 half bath single-family home
Agent: Terry Belt
Listed: $2,500,000
Open: Sunday 1-4 p.m.

 

1319 Barton Street N
3 bed/2 bath, 2 half bath villa/townhouse
Agent: Laura Lawlor
Listed: $989,900
Open: Sunday 1-3 p.m.

 

3412 17TH Street S
4 bed/3 bath, 2 half bath single-family home
Agent: Sean Ragen
Listed: $799,900
Open: Sunday 1-3 p.m.

 

4727 31ST Street S
3 bed/3 bath villa/townhouse
Agent: Robert Allen
Listed: $648,000
Open: Sunday 2-4 p.m.

 

1029 Stuart Street , #703
2 bed/2 bath condo
Agent: Christine Vanderhyde
Listed: $589,000
Open: Saturday 1-4 p.m.

 

961 Taylor Street
2 bed/2.5 bath villa/townhouse
Agent: Nancy Bossard
Listed: $439,999
Open: Sunday 1-3 p.m.

 

4501 Arlington Boulevard , #412
1 bed/1 bath condo
Agent: Billy Buck
Listed: $209,900
Open: Saturday 1-3 p.m.

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WWBG: Spice Up Your Beer Fridge with Some Holiday Ales

Weekend Wine and Beer Guide logo

Editor’s Note: This biweekly column is sponsored by Dominion Wine and Beer (107 Rowell Court, Falls Church). It is written by Garrett Cruce, a Cicerone Program Certified Beer Server.

The Oxford Companion to Beer defines Christmas ales as beers that are typically on the strong side and often contain dark malts, spice, herbs and fruits. Check. This week I have some holiday beers that go perfectly with dark evenings and chilly air.

American craft brewers may have resurrected the holiday ale by adding spices when Fritz Maytag’s Anchor Brewing Company made its Christmas Ale in 1975, but the earliest Western example is positively Medieval. One recipe that remains is for a brew called “lambswool.” According to The Oxford Companion to Beer, lambswool was made with roasted apples, nutmeg, ginger and honey.

Spicing beer continued on in England with the tradition of the “wassail,” a mulled wine, beer or cider. For the most part today’s holiday ales are relatively tame, but a welcome change from the squashy pumpkin ales and ubiquitous Oktoberfests.

Below are four holiday ales that will warm your belly. And for those who aren’t looking for spiced brown ales, I’ve got a tasty IPA here too.

Harpoon Brewery Winter Warmer Spiced Ale (5.9% ABV)

When I discovered this lightly spiced beer in 1995, Winter Warmer was already nearly 10 years old. Now approaching 30 years old, this brown ale made with cinnamon and nutmeg is a bit tamer than it seemed back then. There’s more competition and there are more extreme beers, but the consistency of this light holiday ale still pleases. What says the winter holidays better than aromas of cinnamon, raisins and graham crackers? And there’s the comforting malt forward flavor that finishes with a light but bright spice. This is the most sessionable of the beers covered here.

Great Lakes Brewing Company Christmas Ale (7.5% ABV)

Cleveland, Ohio’s Great Lakes Brewing Company first brewed their famous Christmas Ale in 1992. An early entrant in the spiced ale category, Christmas Ale has grown to be a 6-time medal winner at various world beer championships.

Brewed with honey from the region, cinnamon and ginger, this beer jollily evokes cinnamon graham crackers. But it’s flavor is so much more than a children’s snack — between the peppery ginger and the herbal hops, the sip is balanced between malt and slightly bittering ingredients. It’s good that Christmas Ale only comes once a year, because its delicious flavor and light body might make moderation difficult. Don’t wait until Christmas to open this tasty brew.

Port City Brewing Company Tidings Ale (7.8% ABV)

Though not as common as the good old brown ale, Belgian styles can also be used for a good holiday ale. Two local breweries have taken that approach — Port City Brewing Company in Alexandria and Jailbreak Brewing Company in Laurel, Md.

First up is the spiced Belgian blonde from Port City: Tidings Ale. I’ve had Tidings before and each time I’m surprised to find it so delightful. Between the simple, but charming label design with a string of multi-colored Christmas lights and the satisfying and complex flavor, Tidings pretty well succeeds at getting me in the holiday mood.

This is a Belgian style ale so we can assume that there will be copious amounts of banana and clove in the aroma and the sip. But I also find tart citrus and vanilla right before taking my first sip. Starting out sweet with a light tartness, the sip is sparkly with fine bubbles that work with peppery finish to keep the sweetness from overpowering. This beer drinks more like a treat than one that you’d put away a couple at a time. Savor it.

Jailbreak Brewing Company It’s Christmas, Dammit (7.5% ABV)

Our second Belgian style ale, It’s Christmas, Dammit is the brain-child of Dominion Wine and Beer’s Gaithersburg store, Downtown Crown Wine and Beer and Jailbreak Brewing Company. Christmas, Dammit is a holiday riff on Jailbreak’s Great American Beer Festival gold medal winning Belgian Strong Dark Ale, Van Dammit.

While the award winner that spawned this dark, sweet beer is a traditional take on the style, Christmas Dammit adds spices to transform it into a Belgian holiday ale. Sure enough, I smelled dark stone fruit and cinnamon rolls. Definitely a dessert sipper, Christmas, Dammit reminded me of sticky toffee pudding — a date and caramel rich dessert from England. The toasted flavor of caramel and the fruity sweetness of maraschino cherries come out as Dammit warms. This collaboration probably won’t be around for long and can only be found in limited places — Downtown Crown Wine and Beer being one of them — so it’s worth getting out to find some before it’s gone.

If these spiced ales are just not your mug of beer, you can always enjoy this winter IPA.

Troegs Independent Brewing Blizzard of Hops Winter IPA (6.4% ABV)

Though not a fresh-hopped IPA, Blizzard is brewed to celebrate the late Fall hop harvest. This beer is completely different from the warming beers above. It’s bright and hoppy with pine and floral flavors. Brewed with a handful of different American hops, Blizzard is flavorful and crisp. It’s a great counter-balance to the heavier beers and food that abound this time of year. And, you can’t help smiling at the reference — intentional or not — to Ozzy Osbourne’s Blizzard of Oz. I totally listened to “Crazy Train” while writing part of this article.

Friday, December 1, starting at 5 p.m., join Dominion Wine and Beer for their weekly beer tasting featuring the debut of Ellicott City, Maryland’s Manor Hill Brewing in NoVa and the Founders Brewing Co. CBS Bottle Release. We will also be featuring new beers from Victory Beer, Deschutes Brewery and Ardent Craft Ales. Cheers!

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Commission Chairs Criticize Four Mile Run Valley Group’s Arts District Plan

(Updated at 11 a.m.) The chairs of the Park and Rec and Sports Commissions have criticized the Four Mile Run Valley Working Group for focusing on a planned arts district, comparing it to the push that led to the creation of the since-closed Artisphere.

In a letter to working group chair Charles Monfort, Caroline Haynes and Shirley Brothwell said they are “disappointed” to realize the working group’s outcomes “may not be as transformative as they could have been.”

The pair specifically critiqued the group’s key focus on a two-block area west of S. Nelson Street near Jennie Dean Park, which has been suggested as the location for a new arts district. Some group members wish to repurpose the properties as an arts district, which could include traditional arts activities like painting and sculpting, among others, as well as businesses to build up nightlife nearby.

That plan has already come under scrutiny from working group members and others in the community, and they said that more planning may be needed if this continues.

“Because of these issues, we believe the 4MRVWG runs a very real risk of missing the target altogether and doing a disservice to the County Board and residents,” Haynes and Brothwell wrote. “The Board may get a clear vision of what some members of the working group prefer for a tiny portion of the study area, but constituencies in the surrounding neighborhoods and in the parks, recreation, and sports communities already have challenged and rejected that vision.”

Instead, the pair urged any land acquired in that area be used to expand Jennie Dean Park — especially if purchased with bond funds intended for parkland acquisition — and that the group develop more specific information about how arts are supported in the county.

“When bond funds voted on by Arlington taxpayers and designated for park land acquisition have been redirected toward arts purposes in the past, the results have not been positive; specifically, $4 million of such funds were redirected to build out the Artisphere,” the letter said. “We note that the arts were pulled out from [the parks department] after it became apparent that the Artisphere was financially unsustainable.”

“It remains unclear how the proposed arts hub would be financed or managed over time to become self-sustaining,” said the letter writers. “We do not want to repeat a costly mistake.”

Photo No. 2 via Google Maps.

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Metro, Renaming Jefferson Davis Hwy Among Priorities in 2018 General Assembly Session

(Updated at 9:55 a.m.) Arlington’s representatives will push hard in the Virginia General Assembly on Metro funding, the authority to rename Jefferson Davis Highway and absentee voting, among other issues.

At a work session Thursday, Arlington County Board members discussed their legislative agenda — bills they would like to see passed and issues they would like to see emphasized — for the 2018 session with local Delegates and state Senators.

The General Assembly will convene in Richmond on January 10 and sit through March 10, with Gov.-Elect Ralph Northam (D) to be inaugurated on January 13.

High on Board members’ list of priorities is securing a dedicated funding source for Metro, and ensuring that state funding allows it to keep up with its rebuilding needs.

Outgoing Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) has committed to adding a dedicated funding source in his budget proposal later this month, and local representatives said they must do more to show their colleagues from outside Northern Virginia how valuable Metro is to the whole Commonwealth’s economy.

“A lot of work has been done to show this is not just a Northern Virginia giveaway, that this gives a lot of money and benefits to the rest of the commonwealth,” said County Board member Christian Dorsey.

Later, Dorsey noted that a study by the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission made a “conservative estimate” that Metro brings in $600 million to state coffers every year through income and sales taxes.

All agreed on a plan to bring legislators into Northern Virginia and have them take a tour of the region’s various transit options, as well as experience rush-hour traffic congestion, something that state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-30) said has been effective in the past.

State Sen. Barbara Favola (D-31) urged cooperation between business and governmental groups in lobbying Richmond.

“We really need a united voice on this,” Favola said. “We can’t afford to have the Northern Virginia Chamber in opposition to a strategy you may like.”

Favola said she will file a bill to give localities the power to rename their primary highways, of which Jefferson Davis Highway is one in Arlington.

The question of whether to change the name of Jefferson Davis Highway has swirled for several years, and Board chair Jay Fisette said the county is “exploring all options” on renaming.

Del. Mark Levine (D-45) disagreed with Favola, and said that in his opinion localities already have the right to rename primary highways. Fisette emphasized that no stone shall be left unturned.

“At this point, we believe we have multiple options, we’re just going to work them sequentially to do that,” he said.

The question of renaming Jefferson Davis Highway remains controversial. At the Board’s public hearing on its legislative agenda on Tuesday, local resident Bernard Berne derided a name-change as a “bad idea” that will stoke racial tensions and create division.

“It divides the community, and these historical things are part of our heritage. You don’t mess with it,” he said.

Another item on Arlington’s legislative agenda is a desire to enact “no excuse” absentee voting, meaning that any voter can request an absentee ballot without having to give a reason for voting absentee.

Dorsey said with a young and transient population in the county, “no excuse” absentee voting would be helpful. Del. Rip Sullivan (D-48) agreed, and said that after significant Democratic gains in the House of Delegates, this year might be right to get it done.

“I think this is the year for absentee no-excuse voting. I absolutely think we can get there,” he said, adding that it could make elections less vulnerable to hacking. “There are other arguments that frankly we haven’t tried yet, that can carry the day.”

Ebbin expressed cautious support for the plan, but said that funding must be found to reimburse local registrars to cope with extra demand.

And on environmental issues, there appeared to be broad consensus that the General Assembly can pass measures limiting greenhouse gases, encouraging solar power and preserving trees, among others.

Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-49), co-chair of the bipartisan Virginia Environment & Renewable Energy Caucus alongside Sullivan, said “everything is on the table” on energy and the environment. He added that Arlington’s agenda on those issues is one of the best he has seen.

“You guys have hit a lot of very strong things,” he said.

Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act remains a hot topic for Democrats in Richmond, albeit a controversial one that has been unsuccessful both through the General Assembly and executive action.

But this year, Levine said Democrats “are cautiously optimistic for the first time in a long time,” on Medicaid expansion, which he called their “single greatest priority.” Northam said later that day he is hopeful of passing the expansion.

“It’s incredibly important that we get this done, finally,” Lopez said.

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Meanwhile in D.C.

Photo by buoscio nworks

D.C.’s charter schools are inspiring some less than positive headlines, Howard is accused by another person of failing to adequately address sexual assault allegations, plus a peek into a beautiful new library, and other news of the day over in the District.

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Morning Notes

Fight Over Aquatics Center Operation Costs — Local budget hawks are worried that operating costs of the new Long Bridge Aquatics Center may take a chunk out of the county budget. The current staff estimate is about $1 million per year of net taxpayer support for operating costs, with a caveat that there may be a ramp-up period with less revenue and thus net higher costs. [InsideNova]

Arlington Honors ‘Fast Four’ Companies — Arlington County on Wednesday honored the fastest-growing local companies in four revenue categories. The companies honored were: Courthouse-based Mind Body Health, digital marketing company Knucklepuck, Ballston-based Deep Learning Analytics and another Ballston tech-oriented company, Apogee Research. [Arlington County]

Eastern Foundry Expanding Again — Arlington-based startup incubator Eastern Foundry is working with investors to launch Global Foundry, which will “provide international companies entrée to U.S. commercial and government markets, while exposing potential American customers to the innovation taking place overseas.” [Washington Business Journal]

Flickr pool photo by Eric

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Just Listed in Arlington

Just Listed banner

Just Listed highlights Arlington properties that just came on the market within the past week. This feature is written and sponsored by Team Cathell, “Your Orange Line Specialists.”

The Thanksgiving hangover may have slowed the pace of real estate activity this week in Arlington.  Only 29 sellers braved to put their homes on the market, and only 29 buyers ratified contracts this week.  That’s not unusual for the season. What was surprising is that only three homes sold within a week, and many homes that sold had been on the market a very long time, one as long as 655 days.  That raised the average days on market to 68. A lot of stale inventory got cleared out this week, and that’s a good thing.

Mortgage purchase applications were up 2% this week and 6% over the same week a year ago which could indicate increasing demand.  Meanwhile, refinance applications dropped to their lowest level since January indicating the refinance market may have run its course by now.

Watch for news in the coming days about household incomes finally starting to increase. This should have a considerable influence on consumer confidence that will translate into stronger housing demand.

Interest rates bounced around and ended up unchanged at about 4% for a 30-yr fixed rate with no points.

Click to see all the fresh new inventory in MRIS and call Team Cathell (703-975-2500) when you find a home you like.

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