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by Tim Regan — February 27, 2017 at 3:45 pm 0

Startup Monday header

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. 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.

Worker in office, photo courtesy of Curiosity MediaWhen online dictionary SpanishDict.com hit the web in 1999, its primary audience was English speakers looking to learn Spanish. The idea was simple: to create an easy-to-use resource for students and learners that would serve as the definitive guide for translating Spanish words into English.

Nearly 20 years later, the tables have turned. Today, a good chunk of the site’s 14 million monthly users are native Spanish speakers who want to learn English. And that number is growing, said Chris Cummings, CEO of the Rosslyn-based startup behind SpanishDict, Curiosity Media

SpanishDict on a phone, photo courtesy of Curiosity Media.jpg“People ask us all the time if we’ve considered going into other languages,” Cummings said. “The answer is that we are going into a new audience, but it’s actually the same language pair.”

Cummings is no stranger to finding new audiences. In 2013, he helped launch Fluencia, a subscription-based Spanish learning program. The software course features an “adaptive pace” and an automated tutoring system to help users become more fluent. Since its launch, Fluencia has grown its monthly user base to around 800,000 learners from across the world.

Though Fluencia continues to expand, Cummings said his company’s dictionary services are growing at an even quicker pace.

Worker in office another angle, photo courtesy of Curiosity Media.jpg“We’re adding thousands and thousands of new Spanish speakers every week,” he said. “We already have millions on the site.”

Cummings added that there could even come a day where there’s just as many native Spanish speakers using SpanishDict as there are native English speakers, if not more.

“For every English speaker that’s interested in communicating in Spanish, there’s about three or four Spanish speakers that are interested in communicating in English,” he said. “It’s a much, much bigger market.”

Part of the reason for such a steep rate of user growth is the sheer number of “bells and whistles” that SpanishDict offers, Cummings said. People who might otherwise use a “quick and dirty” translation service like Google Translate are drawn to SpanishDict’s many features.

“If you want native audio pronunciation of a word, we got that. If you want to know how to conjugate verbs, we got that. If you want to see the word in real life example sentences, we got that,” Cummings said. “For all these reasons, it just becomes a better way to be a first stop for translating a word than maybe what you see on Google Translate.”

Workers in the Curiosity Media office, photo courtesy of Curiosity Media.jpgHe continued, “We’re able to go so deep on this language pair is because there are more than 800 million native English and Spanish speakers in the world. That’s what enables us to go so deep and provide such high value content in this language pair.”

In 2013, Curiosity Media had just a handful of employees. Now, it has 17 in its office in Rosslyn, and it’s still growing.

The company currently is hiring for engineering and product management positions.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — February 27, 2017 at 2:00 pm 0

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This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Northern Virginia that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement, and private sector employee matters.

By: John V. Berry

Virginia employees are protected by Occupational Safety and Health laws from retaliation and discrimination if they report safety and health issues in the workplace. 

In Virginia, an employee shall not be discriminated against or terminated in retaliation for filing a safety or health complaint, testifying, or exercising a right under Virginia Code Ann. § 40.1-51.2:1 concerning employee safety and health. 

Examples Where Law Might Apply

Here are some examples where the Virginia law against retaliation might apply. Keep in mind that this particular Virginia law is focused on dangers reported that could affect an employee or other employees in the workplace. 

  1. An employee reports to the fire department that there is a gas leak in the office. The fire department finds the cause of the leak and the employer is required to upgrade the gas lines. The manager gets upset at the cost to fix the leak and fires the employee.
  2. An employee informs her manager that work vehicles are unsafe and not maintained properly. The manager, rather than fix the work vehicles, decides to fire the employee as a means to keep her from complaining or exposing the issues.
  3. An employee reports a severe mold problem in the workplace. As a result, the employer is forced to spend a significant amount of money to fix the mold problem.  The Employee is fired as a result of reporting the issue.

Process for Filing a VOSH Complaint

A Virginia Occupational Safety and Health (VOSH) complaint of retaliation or discrimination must be filed within 60 days of the discriminatory action with the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry. If not, the complaint is likely to be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. Following the filing of a complaint, a VOSH investigator will contact the complainant and/or his/her counsel and will initiate an investigation if all of the requirements for jurisdiction have been met.

An investigation may lead to a settlement for the employee or could lead to sustained findings. There are also civil court remedies for an employee if a sustained violation by the investigator is not found.

If you believe that your employer has treated you differently for reporting a safety and health issue or need assistance with another employment law issue in Virginia, please contact our office at (703) 668-0070 or at www.berrylegal.com to schedule a consultation. Please also like and visit us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BerryBerryPllc.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — February 25, 2017 at 12:00 pm 0

This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by the Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy team (AIRE). This county program helps you make smart energy decisions that save you money and leaves a lighter footprint on the environment. Got a question? Email us at [email protected]!

Buying a light bulb used to be a no-brainer. Now it’s a brain teaser — the transition to more energy-efficient lighting means choosing from a dazzling array of products. There are many options, many symbols, and trade vernacular that can be hard to decipher (LED, CFL, halogen, lumens, Kelvin, CRI), not to mention all of the various brands.

The Rethink Energy Program in partnership with Arlington Public Library is making it easier for Arlingtonians to switch to LED bulbs. 

Now, with your Arlington County Library card you can borrow a case of various LED bulbs to test at home to find the ones that work best for you. The box includes 10 different lights. All of the bulbs in the box are dimmable.

Lights include:

  • Standard bulbs of different brightness levels and colors
  • Track lighting or recessed can fixture bulbs
  • Chandelier bulbs (small and regular base)
  • Outdoor flood light bulb
  • Bathroom vanity bulb
  • Three-Way bulb
  • Night light

If you are looking for the “Cliffs Notes” for LED bulbs, check out our LED Lighting guide.  This guide will give you all the info you need to know about LED brightness, color, energy use, and more. 

Use this link to place a hold on the LED bulb sampler kit today.

Want a free LED? Mark you calendar for the Home Show and Garden Expo on April 22 at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center for a free LED bulb. Bulbs will be given out at the main stage at 3:45 p.m., during the Green Home Choice awards ceremony.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — February 24, 2017 at 2:30 pm 0

900 N. Taylor Street #1411/1427 (The Jefferson)
Neighborhood: Ballston
Listing Price: $379,000
Open Houses: Feb. 25-26, March 4-5 and March 11-12 from 12:30-4 p.m.

The finest in senior living at The Jefferson – a rarely available combined-unit condo with an expansive and inviting floor plan.

Featuring 1,646 square feet, this spacious 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom condo includes a luxurious private master suite, complete with sitting room, walk-in closet, brand new washer-dryer, and stunning bathroom with Jacuzzi tub and separate shower.

The kitchen looks out onto the dining area with its new chandelier, and a living room filled with abundant afternoon sunlight. Twin patio doors lead out to the fabulous double balcony. Newly painted, this updated unit includes brand new carpet, hardware, and electrical throughout, as well as a remodeled front bathroom.

A formal dining room with gourmet meals, flower-filled patio, pool, gym, 24-hour security and emergency assistance, library, transportation, housekeeping, and a multitude of activities and outings, are included in the amenities fee. On-site salon and art room, exercise programs, card games, and movie nights. Located in the heart of Ballston, surrounded by restaurants and shopping. Easy access to the I-66, airports, and just one block from the Ballston Metro station.

Stop by to see everything this great condo has to offer at our open houses on Saturday & Sunday for the next three weekends: February 25-26, March 4-5 and March 11-12 from 12:30-4 p.m.

Please contact Peggy Yee with the Frankly Realty at [email protected] or call 703-349-0143.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — February 24, 2017 at 12:20 pm 0

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.

Today at 5:00 p.m., Dominion Wine & Beer will host Ocelot Brewing Company in a special tap takeover. Ocelot will feature five recent releases: Sunnyside Dweller pilsner, Acquiesce IPA, Mi Corazon IPA, Uber Home IPA and Talking Backwards triple IPA. I’ll tell you about four of these beers below.

I had the pleasure of visiting and writing about Ocelot when they were only five months old. While they are basically the same great brewery, avoiding core or flagship beers in favor of constant change, they have begun to recognize that some beers deserve to be made again. In fact, in the time since I sat down with them, The Washington Post has recognized them as the Best New Brewery in the DMV. And they have joined the local ranks of Herndon’s Aslin Brewing Company and Cambridge, Maryland’s RAR in brewing buzz worthy beers that make craft beer lovers wait in lines for.

WWBG Talking BackwardsTalking Backwards Triple IPA (11% ABV)
One such beer is Talking Backwards IPA, Ocelot’s collaboration with Meridian Pint that sits at #7 on the Beer Advocate “Top Rated Beers: Virginia”. Though many of Ocelot’s beers are one-hit wonders, this strong IPA played an encore in December. The occasion of its brewing was momentous enough to be the subject of an article in the Washington, D.C. edition of the news site, Brightest Young Things, and was attended by Dominion’s own Arash Tafakor.

As Ocelot founder Adrien Widman puts it Talking Backwards is his tribute to Russian River’s Pliny the Younger. Not a clone mind you, but a big IPA in the same tradition. This beer screams special. The aroma is bursting with pine sap, cotton candy and mandarin orange juice. The sip — and I do suggest sipping– is strong and sweet, dominated by tangerine/mandarin but tempered by an herbal bitterness. Talking Backwards wears its ABV well, but you still get an alcohol burn that tickles your tongue. Share this one, you’ll make a beer friend happy.

WWBG Talking BackwardsUber Home IPA (8.5% ABV)
Talking Backwards was totally billed as a dry IPA, but Uber Home nails dryness. A double IPA at 8.5%, Uber Home is fragrant with passion fruit, apricot and pine resin. Dry is the word when it comes to the flavor — the sip seems to come and go with little to linger on. Apricot and herbs combine with a light cracker maltiness finishing in a slight alcohol astringency. In the end, with a relatively high ABV and little sweetness, Uber Home is very drinkable. Be careful not to put it away too swiftly as the flavor belies the strong beer in your glass.

WWBG Mi CorazonMi Corazon IPA (6.2% ABV)
Though not an imperial IPA, Mi Corazon manages to combine both the full flavor and sweetness of a bigger beer. Reminiscent of juice bombs that I’ve enjoyed recently, the aroma is dominated by mango and tangerine. The sweetness hinted at in those fruits comes out immediately in the flavor, but fortunately it’s curbed by a slightly flowery bitterness. I felt that this beer could easily have been cloyingly sweet, but for the balance of bittering hops. This is both a simpler and more enjoyable beer than it’s fellow IPAs. These are all exciting beers, but Mi Corazon is especially fun to drink — it’s refreshing and tasty. At a more average ABV, it’s also easier to justify making the whole growler yours.

WWBG Sunnyside DwellerSunnyside Dweller Pilsner (5.5% ABV)
This Winter has been anything but wintry. That must explain why I didn’t feel out of time drinking this clean and crisp lager. Befitting a pilsner, the aroma is biscuit flour and a hint of grass. Curiously, honey dew melon appeared as my beer warmed slightly, but I enjoyed the suggestion of fruit. The flavor, however, walks the lager line with a clean white bread maltiness and a delightful herbal bitterness — making a formidable one-two taste punch. This beer is more than drinkable: it’s poundable. I know that Ocelot eschews the notion of core beers, but there is a great case to be made for offering beer drinkers a couple of go-to beers. I’d buy this beer more than once.

Get out to Dominion Wine & Beer at 5:00 p.m. to enjoy these beers. Be sure to get your growler before the kegs kick. You might not see these beers again!

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — February 24, 2017 at 6:00 am 0

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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.”

This week’s fantastic February weather isn’t the only evidence that the market has heated up. Some 68 homes sold in Arlington this week, and 72 new listings hit the market. Buyers snatched up new listings as well as homes that had been lingering for over 30 days helping to clear out some stale inventory.

709 N. Garfield StreetNationally, existing home sales hit a new record for January, up 3.3% for the highest number of sales since February 2007. The tightening labor market is expected to provide more job opportunities for young adults, and should soon start to produce higher household incomes. Home buyers are already feeling more financial confidence.

Interest rates fluctuated throughout the week reflecting economic uncertainty by investors. But rates ended 6 basis points lower to 4.29% for a 30-yr fixed rate.

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

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — February 23, 2017 at 2:30 pm 0

Healthy Paws

Editor’s Note: Healthy Paws is a column sponsored and written by the owners of Clarendon Animal Care, a full-service, general practice veterinary clinic. The clinic is located 3000 10th Street N., Suite B. and can be reached at 703-997-9776.

Chewing is such an important part of our pet’s dental health (and with dogs, helps with mental stimulation as well!) – yet we commonly see dogs presenting with broken teeth from chewing seemingly “appropriate” treats; and cats and dogs with severe periodontal disease despite regular dental treats. What gives?

So, about brushing, that’s not happening. What other options do we have?

As we discussed in our last article, brushing your pet’s teeth regularly is the best way to prevent periodontal disease – but as we all know, that is not always feasible.

So, I guess we should start with why chewing is so important. The mechanical act of chewing does two important things: 1.) it causes mechanical massage/stimulation of the tooth/gingival surface which increases blood flow and can help physically remove plaque and 2.) it causes salivary stimulation which has anti-microbial properties and can reduce plaque (bacterial colonies) buildup.

When we start thinking about what dental chews, treats and water additives we give our pets – our first question is: has it been proven to actually help? There is a group called the Veterinary Oral Health council whose mission is just that – to determine if and set standards for products that claim to reduce plaque and tartar in our pets. We particularly like the Tartar Shield chews and treats for dogs and cats and the OraVet chews for dogs

Another consideration with chews, especially for dogs, is if they will cause physical trauma to their teeth. We regularly see dogs present with fractured teeth, dental pain and dental abscesses secondary to trauma to their teeth. This generally happens when chews that are too hard are given to our pets (such as antlers, cow hooves, dried natural bones or hard nylon products) – they may be tempting to give as dogs would chew on bones in the wild, however these products are too hard and do not mimic the effect of a dog tearing meat off a carcass.

Some non-dental considerations with chews/treats and water additives:

  • Dietary sensitivities and food allergies: some dogs have sensitive stomachs and can’t tolerate the ingredients of a chew/treat or water additive and some dogs have food allergies that needs to be taken into consideration when giving these treats. Bottom line – if you give your dog a chew/treat or water additive and they develop diarrhea or vomiting, don’t give it!
  • The daily caloric impact of the treats: It’s easy to lose track of how many calories your pet is getting each day when you factor in all the treats and “extras” they get. Remember that even if a treat is 50 calories – that may be 10-15 percent of the daily caloric requirements for a 20-pound dog. Those calories really add up, and while we want to take care of our pet’s teeth we don’t want to give them another problem (obesity) instead.
  • The size of the treat needs to be appropriate for the size of the pet. This is especially important for small dogs trying to ingest a chew that is too large and large dogs given a treat that is too small (and then “inhaling” it). If your pet does not chew the product thoroughly, discontinue use of the treat, as this can pose a risk for the treat becoming lodged in the esophagus (as well as no longer being effective for it’s intended purpose of reducing plaque/tartar.)
  • Pet dogs should be monitored while chewing a chew treat or toy, as they may swallow large pieces, leading to a variety of digestive system disorders.

Is my pet’s dental health really that important?

Well, like people, every pet’s mouth is different. Some animals and breeds are more susceptible for dental disease than others. In some animals a neglected mouth will result with some degree of plaque build up over time, and gingivitis (or inflammation and infection of the gums). But in some animals that neglected mouth will lead to severe infectious of the mouth, abscesses, pain, bad breath, and can make it more difficult to regulate other disease processes (such as diabetes). In the more severe cases, treatment may involve tooth extractions or complicated dental procedures and can lead to infections of the liver, heart and other internal organs.

In the majority of cases, dental disease is a condition where “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” — small preventative measures such as regular brushing, appropriate chews, treats and water additives can significantly slow the progression of gingivitis, plaque and tartar accumulation.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — February 22, 2017 at 6:00 pm 0

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The following bi-weekly column is written and sponsored by Dog Paws n Cat Claws, which provides a heart-centered and safe environment for your pets. Conveniently located at 5818-C Seminary Road in Bailey’s Crossroads, DPnCC offers doggy daycare, boarding, grooming, walking and training services, plus in-home pet care.

It’s easy to say, “I love you” to our favorite people, but how do we communicate with our fur babies when we want to say, “I love you?” It’s easy once you learn how to translate their distinctive language of affection.

Dogs

In an interview with Anderson Cooper, Brian Hare, author of “The Genius of Dogs,” said a gentle, relaxed gaze directly into your eyes is a dog’s way of hugging you. Gazing back tells your dog, “I love you, too.”

When dogs lean on us, they’re asking you to keep them safe and protected. If you lean back, it shows you trust them.

Elyse Wanshel, senior writer at littlethings.com, cited a study in Japan that found when dogs saw their owner, they lifted their eyebrows (especially the left). Raising your eyebrows is a sign of affection.

Being hyper-excited when you get home means, “OMG! I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!” When we’re just as excited, it tells them you missed them, too.

Sleeping in your room/bed means they see you as family. Allowing them to sleep with you says you acknowledge them as an important member of the family.

When your pup greets you with a stretch, he’s saying hello and only does this with people he is completely comfortable with.

I sing the song “Me and My Shadow” to my dog daily. A dog that follows you everywhere can be annoying, but dogs are pack animals and they follow you because they want to be with those they love most: their families.

Cats

Cats can be less obvious with their affection leaving humans confused. In Lori Soad’s article “What To Do When Kitty Brings Home a Gift,” she says, “Your cat really thinks he is bringing you a gift” as a token of their gratitude. They consider you a member of their family.

Cats are prideful, so when they roll over to show you their belly, they’re saying they trust you unconditionally.

Mother Nature Network says a head-butting cat is marking you with her scent and claiming you as her own. When you lean into them, you are encouraging them to mark away.

The difference between love bites and play bites is unmistakable: one tickles and the other hurts. Love bites are your feline’s way of saying, “You’re awesome.” Have you ever seen a cat do a weird vibrating tail wag? This is also a sign of how awesome they think you are.

When a cat kneads on you while in your lap, it’s their way of saying, “I love you.”

A purring cat means they are happy, but did you know when your cat “talks” to you, mimicking the tone and sound of her “word” assures them they are safe and loved.

A slow blink is actually a cat’s kiss. If they give you a slow blink, reciprocate with a slow blink back at them. They know what you are saying!

The ultimate sign of your cat’s love is to groom you. Use a warm, damp cloth to gently stroke their heads and back in appreciation. This mimics how it felt when being groomed by their mother. 

Now that you know a few things about your fur babies’ language of love, start speaking their language and watch how you’ll receive plenty of love in return.

Sara Schabach
In-Home Pet Care Manager

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — February 22, 2017 at 3:30 pm 0

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This biweekly sponsored column is written by the experts at Gordon James Realty, a local property management firm that specializes in residential real estate, commercial real estate and homeowner associations. Please submit any questions in the comments section or via email.

When relocating, one of the first questions you should ask yourself is if you are going to rent or buy. The answer is not always so straightforward.

With a median home value of $530,000, the D.C. real estate market is more expensive than many. That’s why it’s critical to determine what works best for your situation.

If you’re just passing through, renting may be a better option. But if you’re willing to manage property from a distance, buying and living in a home for a short period may be best because you can rent it out later.

Still undecided? Check out this expert advice on when to rent and when to buy.

When Renting a Home Makes More Sense:

You Plan on Relocating

Unlike other areas of the country, D.C. has a very transient population. While it’s true many people stick around for the long term, many are just passing through. Temporary government appointments, military personnel and short-term government contracts all contribute. If you know you’re not going to be around for the long-term, renting is an easier option with less commitment.

Your Income Is Unpredictable

Self-employed professionals and contractors don’t always know what their income will be in the long-term. While contractors can expect a predictable paycheck while on contract, once the term ends you’ll be stuck with a mortgage payment no matter what. If cashflow is an issue, owning a home will make it harder for you to downsize when times get hard.

Retirement is Close

Even if you have a pretty hefty retirement fund, D.C.’s high cost of living can wipe that out quick. If you can buy for cash and still have plenty to live on, then owning may be for you. Otherwise, renting is a better option. The fixed costs (though rents do rise) will make it easy to budget. Renting also provides you with the flexibility to downsize or move into your RV and travel.

Mortgage Rates Are High

The past few years have seen some of the lowest rates for a long time, but lately rates have begun to rise slightly. Because of the high sticker price of Washington homes, try to buy when rates are at a low and rent in the meantime.

Why Buying a Home Is Your Best Bet:

You Want to Start a Family

Some of the top public schools in the country are in the D.C. area, so it makes sense to want to raise a family here. If you’re looking to settle down, the suburbs are an affordable and more spacious alternative to living in the city.

You Plan on Staying Put for 10 Years or More

Even if you’re not starting a family or already have one, buying makes sense if you plan on spending at least a decade in the area. Rents rise every year, but mortgage payments don’t.

Mortgage Rates Are Low

Rock-bottom mortgage rates are a perfect reason to buy a home. Rates have been holding low for quite some time, so it’s best to look as soon as possible.

Rent is Extremely High

High rent is a fact of life in the Nation’s Capital. Since rent tends to increase by a percentage every year, take advantage of fixed mortgages where your payments never change over time.

There’s no one perfect answer for the rent vs. buy question. It all depends on your situation. Take your time to explore your goals and your financial picture before making the decision. If you’re still unsure, a calculator may help you determine what’s right for you.

by ARLnow.com — February 22, 2017 at 11:15 am 0

This week’s Arlington Pet of the Week is Etta, a Persian rescue cat who lives with her rescue brother and sister. Here is what her owner, Joni, had to say about her:

Good Morning My Fellow Arlingtonians! As you can see, I am enjoying a glorious, sunny afternoon on the porch with mom and dad. I found my parents — although they like to say they found me — at the Fairfax County Animal Shelter and I was quite the mess! My previous owner passed away and her heirs didn’t want me because I was not a “show quality” Persian. But one glorious day, I knew I found my forever caregivers. They came and went but voila, two days later, I packed up and off we went to my forever palace! First thing’s first, a trip to the vet for a “well baby check-up” and then a much needed trip to the groomers to get rid of my matted fur and raccoon eyes. Persians require a lot of grooming which includes a daily eye cleansing and brushing but as you can see, I am sporting my Lion Cut! I live with my brother Nelson and sister Isabella (they are rescues as well) whom I chase around and frolic with… I also love to test out my dads gourmet cooking and enjoy learning about the stock market each morning.

Want your pet to be considered for the Arlington Pet of the Week? Email [email protected] with a 2-3 paragraph bio and at least 3-4 horizontally-oriented photos of your pet. Please don’t send vertical photos, they don’t fit in our photo galleries!

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 is the winner six consecutive Angie’s List Super Service Awards, the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters’ 2013 Business of the Year and a proud supporter of the Arlington County Pawsitively Prepared Campaign.

Becky’s Pet Care provides professional dog walking and pet sitting in Arlington and all of Northern Virginia, as well as PetPrep training courses for Pet Care, CPR and emergency preparedness.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — February 22, 2017 at 6:00 am 0

Just Reduced banner

Each week, “Just Reduced” spotlights properties in Arlington County whose price have been cut over the previous week. The market summary is crafted by licensed broker Aaron Seekford of Arlington Realty, Inc. GET MORE out of your real estate investment with Aaron and his team by visiting www.arlingtonrealtyinc.com or calling 703-836-6116 today!

Please note: While Aaron Seekford provides this information for the community, he is not the listing agent of these homes.

Diversity – it’s a word that carries so much beauty and is oh-so-pertinent to our region.

Arlington County and the greater D.C. metropolitan area are flourishing with diverse cultures, food, entertainment options and so much more. It’s no wonder that our region is consistently ranked among the top places to live in the U.S.

When it comes to diversity, our real estate market is no exception. Just take a look at this week’s batch of Just Reduced properties – we have multi-million dollar colonial homes, elegantly restored townhouses, modern condominiums and perfect starter homes for growing families.

If you are looking to own a home in the near future, odds are that there is a perfect match in our region. Now we just need to find it.

When you’re ready to embark on your own home-buying journey, give me a shout. I promise you’ll GET MORE out of your transaction.

As of February 20 there are 170 detached homes, 33 townhouses and 212 condos for sale throughout Arlington County. In total, 27 homes experienced a price reduction in the past week.

Here is this week’s selection of Just Reduced properties:

Please note that this is solely a selection of Just Reduced properties available in Arlington County. For a complete list of properties within your target budget and specifications, contact Aaron Seekford.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — February 21, 2017 at 2:45 pm 0

Ask Eli banner

This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based Realtor and Rosslyn resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: I’m preparing to sell my home this year and wondering if remodeling the 1990s kitchen and bathrooms will improve the resale value and help me sell faster or if I should leave it as-is. Is there a good way to decide which option is best?

Answer: Yes, remodeling your 1990s kitchen and bathroom will improve the resale value and probably help the home sell faster, but that’s not the right question to ask. The question you need answered is what updates will create a positive Return on Investment (ROI), meaning that every dollar you spend on updates results in an increase in expected sale price of at least one dollar. For many sellers, this is the most valuable advice your real estate agent can provide.

Avoid Most Remodeling Projects

Simply put, most remodeling projects do not return a positive ROI for homeowners. A number of large companies including Zillow and Remodeling Magazine have conducted extensive studies and determined that most large-scale remodeling projects like bathrooms, kitchens, roofs, additions, etc only return about 50-80 percent of their cost on the resale market. Remodeling Magazine updates their Cost vs. Value statistics every year using regional data and has a great report specific to the DC Metro area.

No Simple Answer…

  • There’s no easy answer to this question without being in the house, meeting with the owners, and knowing the local market. Here are some questions that need to be considered:
  • Who is the most likely buyer? Are they likely to have cash on-hand to make updates themselves?
  • Can the home be considered move-in ready in its current state?
  • Is the home suffering from functional obsolescence or just requires a quick facelift?
  • In as-is condition, does the home and pricing appeal to an investor?
  • How has the market reacted to homes in similar as-is condition, in similar condition with minor updates, and in similar condition with major updates/remodeling?
  • How much similar inventory is there (current and projected) at each level of updates (as-is, minor, major)?
  • What are your (homeowner) sales priorities, timeline, and pre-sale cash on-hand?
  • Is it easy for a buyer to envision an updated version of your home?

…But I’ll Try

Here are some tips and principles I find myself using most-often when advising homeowners on pre-sale updates:

  • Flooring (replace/refinish), paint (walls, trim, doors), de-cluttering, and staging are affordable for most homeowners and almost always result in a positive ROI and in some cases new, matching kitchen appliances are positive ROI investments
  • There are a lot of little things you can do to improve curb appeal (e.g. power washing and mulching) and interior appeal (e.g. new outlet plates and door knobs) that make a big difference
  • Updates should be done in groups/tiers, not one-offs, so that your investment is coordinated and within budget. In other words, if you commit to doing one update, you need to commit to other similar updates in order to get a positive ROI. For example, it doesn’t make sense to replace flooring if you’re not committed to de-cluttering or to remodel a master bathroom and leave your 30 year old kitchen untouched.
  • If you’re planning to live in your home for a few years after remodeling so that you benefit from the updates, then a 60-80% ROI may be an acceptable return. In this case, visit a few local new homes or builder design centers to see what today’s buyers like and try to replicate it to maximize the ROI when you do sell.

Strategically investing in pre-listing updates should be a well thought out process with different options priced out next to projected impact to sale price and speed of sale. For many homeowners, this process can take upwards of 3-6 months from planning through project completion before being ready to sell, so start early and invest wisely! Feel free to reach out to me at [email protected] or (703) 539-2529 if you’re thinking about selling your home and want an opinion on the most effective way of investing in pre-listing updates!

If you’d like a question answered in my weekly column, please send an email to [email protected]. To read any of my older posts, visit the blog section of my website at http://www.RealtyDCMetro.com.

Eli Tucker is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington DC, and Maryland with Real Living At Home, 2420 Wilson Blvd #101 Arlington, VA 22201, (202) 518-8781.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — February 17, 2017 at 6:00 am 0

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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.”

Arlington’s market is heating up this week with 71 new listings and 62 homes sold.

The spring market has arrived. That’s the most new listings so far this year, and it’s helping to improve Arlington’s low inventory problem. The average days on market for the sold homes this week has dropped to 42.

Nationally, the pace of home sales is off to a slow start for the year. A combination of low inventory levels and rising interest rates is cited. Rates rose again this week by about 10 basis points to 4.35% for a 30-yr fixed rate. Mortgage rates are tied to the yield on the 10-yr long term Treasury note which has risen slowly but steadily since the elections.

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

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — February 16, 2017 at 1:15 pm 0

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This biweekly column is sponsored by the Arlington Office of Emergency Management. The author of this post, Lauren Stienstra, is the Senior Manager for Research and Policy Development in the Arlington County Office of Emergency Management.

Ready Arlington, A Novel CatastropheIt’s that time of year when we like to curl up with a mug of cocoa and a good book. Of course, our staff favorites feature stories of emergencies, disasters, and survival against the odds.

See what our staff is reading, and join us in a discussion at A Novel Catastrophe, our bi-monthly book club.

Ready Arlington, WaveWave, Sonali Deraniyagala (Tuesday, March 14) – In 2004, at a beach resort on the coast of Sri Lanka, Sonali and her family — parents, husband, sons — were swept away by a tsunami.

Only Sonali survived to tell their tale. This is her account of the nearly incomprehensible event and its aftermath.

  • Why we read it: We put a lot of effort into planning for, and responding to, emergencies. This raw and honest depiction is a reminder that the disaster isn’t over when the Emergency Operations Center closes.
  • Register

Ready Arlington, Flight 232Flight 232, Laurence Gonzales (Tuesday, May 9) – As hundreds of rescue workers waited on the ground, United Airlines Flight 232 wallowed drunkenly over the bluffs northwest of Sioux City. The plane slammed onto the runway and burst into a vast fireball. The rescuers didn’t move at first: nobody could possibly survive that crash.

And then people began emerging from the summer corn that lined the runways. Miraculously, 184 of 296 passengers lived.

  • Why we read it: This is a story of miracles, heroes, sacrifice and survival. Need we say more?
  • Register

Ready Arlington, Life As We Knew ItLife As We Knew It (Tuesday, July 11) – High school sophomore Miranda’s disbelief turns to fear in a split second when an asteroid knocks the moon closer to Earth, like “one marble hits another.”

The result is catastrophic. How can her family prepare for the future when worldwide tsunamis are wiping out the coasts, earthquakes are rocking the continents, and volcanic ash is blocking out the sun?

  • Why we read it: Sure, it’s a little apocalyptic, but this fun, fast read really makes you think about your own survival skills in the worst of conditions.
  • Register

Ready Arlington, five days at memorial_LGFive Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital, Sheri Fink (September 12) After Katrina struck and the floodwaters rose, the power failed, and the heat climbed, exhausted caregivers chose to designate certain patients for rescue.

Months later, several health professionals faced criminal allegations that they deliberately injected numerous patients with drugs to hasten their deaths.

  • Why we read it: We say over and over again: make a plan. This book brings us into the worst-case-scenario, when plans fail, or don’t exist, and staff are forced to make difficult decisions.   
  • Register

According to Amanda Ripley, author of The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes and Why (one of our all-time favorites), there are three common characteristics of disaster survivors:

  • A belief you can influence what happens to you
  • Ability to find meaningful purpose in life’s struggles
  • Ability to learn from all experiences- good and bad

Join our conversation: Do the survivors in these books share these characteristics? How would you respond in their shoes?

by ARLnow.com — February 15, 2017 at 12:30 pm 0

This week’s Arlington Pet of the Week is Oliver, a playful mutt who loves to please everyone. Here is what his owner, Mark, had to say about him:

Oliver is a short-haired Collie/Retriever mix who came to us via the Lost Dog & Cat Rescue Foundation of Arlington when he was an 8-week-old pup. He is now a 3.5-years-old, healthy as can be, little “dudeman.” His mother was a rescue and Oliver was born in the shelter, so he has been cared for with love and affection his entire life. We were looking to adopt a pooch for several months before finally meeting Oliver at a PetSmart adoption event. It was love at first lick!

Oliver’s temperament and playful attitude towards humans and dogs alike is a true blessing. He is very submissive and is eager to please. When it’s time to play, he wants to play. When it’s time to watch a movie and relax, he wants to snuggle up close and take it easy. We could not have asked for a more perfect dog for us.

Some of Oliver’s favorite activities include playing with tennis balls and racquetballs, puppy play dates and going anywhere so long as he is with mom and dad. Oliver has been a wonderful addition to our family and there is never a dull moment with such a playful, loving mutty-mutt in the house. We’ve heard comparisons to the Target dog and Wishbone (if you don’t know, it was a TV show from the 90’s), but regardless of whom he might resemble, you have to admit, he is pretty darn cute!

Want your pet to be considered for the Arlington Pet of the Week? Email [email protected] with a 2-3 paragraph bio and at least 3-4 horizontally-oriented photos of your pet. Please don’t send vertical photos, they don’t fit in our photo galleries!

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 is the winner six consecutive Angie’s List Super Service Awards, the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters’ 2013 Business of the Year and a proud supporter of the Arlington County Pawsitively Prepared Campaign.

Becky’s Pet Care provides professional dog walking and pet sitting in Arlington and all of Northern Virginia, as well as PetPrep training courses for Pet Care, CPR and emergency preparedness.

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