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Just Reduced Properties in Arlington

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 may not be the listing agent of these homes.

The first day of school will be here before we know it.

According to Arlington Public Schools’ calendar (always a great resource), the first day for K-12 is Tuesday, September 4. But, if you are a parent like I am, you already know this and have likely started your good ole back-to-school shopping.

In preparation for the new school year, Niche – a website dedicated to helping folks find schools, companies or neighborhoods, recently released its 2019 list of the best school districts in Virginia. The rankings take in to account test scores, college readiness, graduation rates, SAT/ACT scores, public school district ratings and other benchmarks.

So, where did Arlington Public Schools rank? No. 1 out of 100 districts rated. Now that’s a way to kick off the school year!

When you and your family are ready to settle in to the home of your dreams here in Arlington County, our team is ready to help you GET MORE out of your transaction.

As of August 6, there are 199 detached homes, 46 townhouses and 242 condos for sale throughout Arlington County. In total, 45 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.

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Ask Eli: Renting Your Apartment Furnished vs. Unfurnished

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 will be renting my condo when I move and don’t need my furniture. Should I rent my apartment furnished, partially furnished, or unfurnished?

Answer: I get this question a lot and it’s common for landlords, especially new ones, to struggle with this decision. There’s not one right answer, rather a few good options, each with its own pros and cons that you should choose from based on your financial goals and what type of landlord you want to be. I’ll go through a few, but you can mix and match strategies to fit your goals. DO NOT furnish anything you want to keep long-term (e.g. family heirlooms).

1. Quick rent, flexibility: Offer unfurnished at market rate and include a comment that it can also be rented furnished for a 10-25% premium (depending on quality and extent of furnishings).

Be willing to negotiate for partially furnished because somebody may have a sofa and bed, but want your coffee table, dressers and silverware.

The value of furnished vs. unfurnished depends on the type of tenant likely to move in. For example, a recent college grad will value avoiding the expense of buying/moving furniture, but a young family likely has everything they need and wants to keep most/all of it.

  • Pros: largest pool of renters; best chance to rent quickly; more likely to find a long-term tenant (24+ months)
  • Cons: high chance of having to quickly sell-off unwanted furniture at a deep discount or pay to store it; can take a long time to find a tenant who will pay a premium for a furnished apartment for 12+ months

2. Top $, unpredictable: Target the corporate rental market by offering short-term (monthly) rentals at a premium (50+% above market).

  • Pros: great returns when occupied; low probability of late or non-payment; lower risk of excessive wear & tear during occupancy; may find long-term corporate client
  • Cons: high turnover; unpredictable cash flow due to more vacancy days; high cost of renting (prepping for new tenant to include cleaning service and possibly handyman); smaller pool of potential renters

3. Daily rental, active management: The extreme version of #2. Use a site like AirBnB or VRBO to capture the massive tourism and business traveler market by turning your apartment into a daily rental. I’ll leave income fluctuation/predictability out of the pro & con list because ratings, pricing, marketing, and experience because they’ll likely start as a negative and develop into a positive, over time.

If you aren’t living in the immediate area, this becomes a less appealing option.

  • Pros: potential for huge return; opportunity to meet interesting people and be a local tour guide
  • Cons: requires constant attention/management; high cost of operation; increased wear & tear; Arlington County requires owners to occupy the dwelling for 185+ days per year

A few notes to help with your decision:

  • Fully Furnished = everything from couches to silverware to a TV
  • Property Managers handle things like rent collection, service/handy calls, and the eviction process if necessary. On average, they charge 6-10% of the rental income for their services.
  • If you choose to list through a Realtor, expect to pay anywhere from 75-100% of one month’s rent, but make sure you’re getting things like a full MLS/MRIS listing with professional photos

Our team also handles rentals so if you are thinking about renting a property you own or would like help finding an investment property to rent, feel free to send me an email at [email protected] to find out how we can help.

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 www.EliResidential.com. Call me directly at (703) 539-2529.

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.

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The Chew: Protect Your Pet From These Three Risks This Summer

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

For many pets and their owners, summertime offers a chance to be outdoors, spend more time playing and enjoying the great weather.

Unfortunately, there are also several dangers that summer can bring with it. With some preparation and knowledge you can keep your pet safe and make sure summer stays fun. To help you, we’ve gathered the top three risks that face your pet and how you can prevent and recognize them.

  1. Ticks

One of the top concerns as pets spend more time outside is tick-borne diseases. While outdoors avoid places ticks hide, such as long grass and thick underbrush. Once inside check your dog for ticks and remove any that you see. Your dog should also be on flea and tick preventative to kill anything they may pick up.

Lyme disease is transmitted through deer ticks. While it is more prevalent in the New England area, it can be found all over.

Symptoms: Joint pain, lethargy, decreased appetite and fever. Typically takes several months for symptoms to appear.

Ehrlichiosis is one of the most common tick-borne diseases.

Symptoms: Fever, decreased appetite and weight loss, depression, runny nose, watery eyes, frequent bloody noses and enlarged lymph nodes or limbs. Takes several months for symptoms to appear.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, despite its name, this disease is not restricted to the Rocky Mountain area but can be found throughout North and South America.

Symptoms: Fever, joint or muscle pain, anemia, skin lesions, and vomiting. Signs typically appear within a few days.

  1. Dehydration and heatstroke

With higher temperatures comes an increased risk of dehydration and heatstroke. Short-nosed breeds are especially prone to heatstroke, as are animals that are overweight or have thick coats.

Bring water with you when you go on walks and stay in the shade as much as possible. If you’re walking in a paved area, be aware of how much hotter concrete and asphalt can be for your dog. If it is too hot for you, it’s too hot for your pet.

Instead try a grassy area for a walk or purchase a set of booties or paw protection wax to protect their feet. Try to take your walks in the morning or in the evening to avoid the hottest hours of the day. You can also take advantage of an air-conditioned dog daycare during those extremely hot days of summer.

Symptoms: Excessive lethargy, decreased urination, dry gums, refusing to eat and sunken eyes.

  1. Common infections

Infections, particularly those caused by parasites, tend to increase in the summer as the temperatures allow them to thrive and your pup spends more time outdoors.

Coccidiosis

Cause: Coccidiosis can be found in cats and dogs, and is typically transmitted through infected feces, or through consuming a smaller animal that carries it, such as a mouse, rabbit or bird.

Symptoms: watery, mucus-like diarrhea which can progress to bloody diarrhea.

Giardia

Cause: The Giardia infection can be contracted by playing in or ingesting contaminated soil or water. Remove any standing water in your backyard and keep your dog from drinking from unknown water sources.

Symptoms: Diarrhea, gas, abdominal discomfort, dehydration, listlessness and a poor-looking coat.

While summer can be a time of great fun for pets and owners alike, it is important to know the dangers so that you can protect your pet. By arming yourself with this knowledge, summer can stay fun for you and your furry friend.

Looking for more tips, interested in adorable pet pics or just want to get more information on what we do? Stay connected with Bark + Boarding on FacebookInstagram and our website!

Click here to check out our short video about this article!

Mention this article for a FREE evaluation and click here to sign up for one today. If you have a question about your pet, feel free to come in, or email [email protected] any time.

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Crystal City-Based Fifth Tribe Works to Craft Innovative Digital Approaches

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.

In its fifth stage, a tribe can “achieve things that are inconceivable,” according to “Tribal Leadership,” a book that describes levels of company culture.

Digital agency Fifth Tribe seeks to exist at that level as it works to help organizations use technology to better engage with users.

Founded in 2012 and based in the 1776 incubator space, Fifth Tribe works in product innovation, branding and design, web and mobile development and digital marketing.

Among the approximately 50 clients Fifth Tribe has worked with since its founding are AARP and the Vatican. The former was looking for help reaching more low-income seniors.

“They basically hired us to come up with ways they can leverage technology to accomplish that goal,” said Adam Motiwala, a partner at Fifth Tribe.

When the Vatican was working to create a fund for startups to combat climate change last year, Fifth Tribe helped with branding, web development and getting people to sign up online, Motiwala said.

“The primary use of the project that we built for them was to help them tell their story and to help companies join and basically apply for the program when they launched the site,” he said.

As digital advertising overtakes traditional formats, like TV and radio, Fifth Tribe is also investing in new, innovative approaches to reaching online consumers, like gaming.

Typical forms of web advertising, like display and video ads, are “really intrusive, and people hate them,” Fifth Tribe CEO Khuram Zaman said.

In contrast, games represent “something that’s more experiential,” Fifth Tribe CTO Asif Khan said. And they have their “own inherent enjoyment,” he added. “It happens to be sponsored by this brand, but it’s enjoyable in and of itself.”

Fifth Tribe is currently working on games with four e-commerce clients — some of the games they’ve launched so far can be viewed here.

“It’s to create a way for people to really have these positive memories around these brands rather than having another banner ad that you’ve seen a billion of,” Khan said.

Fifth Tribe sees engaging in activities outside the office, like bike rides, escape rooms or laster tag, as complimenting the company’s interests rather than competing with them, Zaman said.

Though “a lot of the breakthrough moments happen in the office,” many also happen out of the office, Zaman said. “Small teams can do great things if they’re put in the right sort of conditions.”

The members of Fifth Tribe’s team “want to have a work-life balance and they also want to have the ability to do things that have an impact,” Zaman said. “As a result, we attract clients who are seeking to have an impact.”

The startup also pursues projects with an impact through typically staff-only hackathons.

“A lot of our hackathons are oriented toward not really business problems but macro-level… social problems,” Zaman said. Hackathon products have included a platform to connect refugees seeking help with tasks like translation with volunteers, and a mechanism to track pro- and anti-ISIS Twitter users.

Fifth Tribe is currently financed via bootstrapping, something that Khan said has helped sustain its culture.

“We’ve bootstrapped in part because once you have investors, it changes how you work the company,” Khan said. “In the founding of the company, the culture was very important… the reason we’ve been able to maintain that is because we haven’t tried to get outside financing.”

Ultimately, “our goal is to build a company that we’re proud of,” Zaman said. “We love our clients [and] we try to do the best work that we can.”

Photos via Facebook

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Flying Colors: Gorgeous Chaos — Part I

Flying Colors column banner

Flying Colors is a sponsored column on the hobby of backyard bird feeding written by Michael Zuiker, owner of the Wild Birds Unlimited store at the Lee Harrison Shopping Center. Visit the store at 2437 N. Harrison Street or call 703-241-3988.

We could blame it on the Europeans! I mean they came over here first and brought their structured sensibilities with them. I mean, if you cut down enough trees, anyones yard could look like the gardens of Versailles or of Buckingham Palace.

We could blame it on the really potent marketing of the sexiness of grass. The short croppings. The fine shades of green. The perfect, weed-less patch.

We could blame it on our need for order and sameness to feel secure and not alone.

But I cannot do grass, folks. Just can’t. I find grass dead. Except when you have to cut it every eight days because it won’t stop growing.

My grass cutting career started in 1958 when I was seven years old. My neighbor Mr. Vallee paid me $2 to cut his lawn. Two dollars to a seven-year-old, in 1958, made me feel like the man!

Except when I had to clean up for his two dogs before I cut the lawn. The math, which I could not do at the age of seven, said 2 dogs times 2 poops a day, times 2 weeks before cutting, was a lot of poop.

Definitely not the man.

After cutting the lawn and removing the poop, the place did not really look any better.

My mother’s backyard was half flower and vegetable garden and it always look beautiful. It was also alive. Bees, butterflies, grasshoppers, birds, squirrels lived and loved the backyard. The birds loved the cherry tree a little too much, and the peaches were challenged to make it to ripeness with hungry squirrels always checking them out, but the yard was alive.

I am struck how often I drive through neighborhoods and see the lifeless, stillness of lawns. No squirrels, no bunnies, no birds, no insects — nothing at all on the lawns. Not even little children playing tag or wrestling.

When my brothers and sisters were young, we did not have T-J Tumble indoor playgrounds. We had lawns. It would not be a stretch to say we had 10-15 games we could play every night after dinner.

No one sprayed their lawns. They were our outdoor blankets. We hugged our lawns and caressed them. I do not see that very much anymore.

But I do see a lot of little yellow and red flags. And the poison that those flags represent makes me sad. Sad because I am hard pressed to find beauty on manicured lawns. No flowers, no bees, no butterflies, no grasshoppers, no birds or insects down below. It is as if they were just “dead zones!”

Why do we destroy what is natural and plant sod, grass and seed that holds nothing that is alive?

For the beauty? I would challenge you to compare a manicured grass lawn to a garden of hummingbird flowers. Or purple cone flowers with brightly colored goldfinches on them.

For the value? I would venture to say most real estate agents would much rather market a beautiful 5 bedroom/5 bathroom (no one really needs 6 bedrooms and 6 bathrooms, do they?) two story Cape Cod house with a big, colorful summer garden of bright flowers to greet the potential new owner!

For the joy? Please raise your hand if you like going outside in the heat of summer, with high humidity and walking back and forth with a noisy, polluting (or non) lawn mower as millions of flying insects get in your eyes, nose and mouth every 10 days? Because it grows that fast in the late Spring and all Summer long!

There are not many raised hands going up.

So why not dig it up? What is the resistance? What is the compelling reason to keep something that has very little value to the environment, causes you physical discomfort and gives you no real tangible pleasure?

Big changes are scary. But the first dig is the deepest. And the hardest. And the most exhilarating!

Because after one dig, you will want to dig more. And more and more and…

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Just Listed in Arlington

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 real estate market performed well for the middle of the summer with 60 fresh new listings and 66 homes sold. Most of those homes were priced below $700,000. And 19 of them sold within a week.

The average Days on Market climbed a bit to 39, and total inventory shrunk to just 497 homes actively for sale. At this week’s pace of sales, all inventory would be sold in just 1.88 months which is considered very low.

Mortgage rates edged up this week by about 4 basis points to 4.7% to 4.75% for a 30-yr fixed rate with no points.

Falling trees or branches becomes an issue for many homeowners when summertime thunderstorms hit. Who is responsible for maintenance, and damages caused?

In Arlington, you have the right to trim any trees or branches that come across your property line. You can trim up to the property line, but not beyond. Any property damage caused should be covered by the hazard insurance of the damaged party regardless of the origin of the tree. There can be exceptions if a property owner serves notice to a neighbor about a risky tree. In such a situation, you are advised to get advice from legal counsel.

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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Boring Title: The Hardest Part of Our Business Which Likely is the Same for Many Others

Title insurance is boring, but Allied Title & Escrow is here to decode the jargon and make it (somewhat) more interesting. This biweekly column will explore the mundane (but very necessary!) world of title insurance while sharing interesting stories of two friends’ entrepreneurial careers.

At Allied Title & Escrow we’ve been very fortunate to have grown very quickly and have not had a lack of business coming in since our inception. Hopefully the growth is because we provide great service for our customers, always work to improve our offering and as a result we continue to receive referrals.

Our biggest issue to date has been finding great employees and when you find them you need to find a way to keep them. An employee who is great with customers is the best marketing tactic you can have as a company.

We have one processor who has brought on 5 new clients because she has done an excellent job for the first client. Ask any sales person in the title business and they will tell you that finding five new clients could take years, not just months.

Great employees make the office experience more enjoyable for everyone else and in the end make you want to come to work. A wise man once told me, you better like who you live with and who you work with.

It’s a simplistic but great point.

One thing we have done to try to keep our employees happy is to set up bi-weekly meetings to provide continuous communication on what is working and how we can get better.

Although these meetings can be effective, we also must let our employees know they can come to us individually and share details they don’t want to share in a group. If we aren’t open to hear their thoughts and concerns, they won’t share tactics on ways to improve and eventually leave the company.

If one thing is certain, we don’t believe there will ever be a time where we can figure out how to make employees happy or solve the entire office dynamic. It’s a constant work in in progress.

Employees change, people change, times changes and in the end we believe it’s about constant communication and understanding that we can always get better. Many of these concepts are the same approach we take with running our business and taking care of our customers.

To learn more about what is important to us as a company, click here.

Title Tip of the Week

Many people ask us the different between homeowners insurance and title insurance. Here are some quick differences between the two:

Homeowners insurance is paid monthly or annually and covers losses which occur to one’s home (eg, floods, fires, broken appliances, etc).

What the insurance covers is dependent on the policy details of the coverage. Homeowners insurance typically requires a deductible and must be paid for as long as you want coverage.

On the other hand title insurance is paid one time at closing and covers title issues for the homeowner and the homeowner’s heirs for as long as they live there. There is no deductible if a claim ever occurs.

Title issue examples include boundary disputes with neighbors or disputes related to who specifically owns the property (eg., a previous owner of the home was never on the deed but should have been and now claims ownership to your property).

Have questions related to title insurance? Email Latane and Matt at [email protected]. Want to use Allied Title & Escrow when you buy a home? Tell your agent when you buy a house to write in Allied Title & Escrow as your settlement company!

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Arlington Pet of the Week: Turkey

Becky's Pet Care

This week’s Arlington Pet of the Week is Turkey, a 14-year-old Ballston resident and professional lounger.

Here’s what Turkey’s owner, Mike, had to say about her.

High atop Ballston, one cat maintains a watchful eye on her citizens, and the suspicious neighbor cat who is definitely up to no good!

From humble beginnings at the Charlottesville ASPCA, Turkey rose to infamy for stealing ribs and bacon and steak and salmon from the rich (her human) and giving to the poor (herself). This feline Robin Food went legit and served five years protecting the yard against chipmunks and sparrows. After retiring from guard duty and moving to Ballston, Turkey took up professional lounging and can often be found in baking pans (apropos), and cat tower donuts.

Having just celebrated her 14th birthday by stealing some Oreo McFlurry and napping in the sunbeam, Turkey settles in on the cool apartment floor to relax and contemplate what adventures the future holds for tomorrow(‘s dinner).

Want your pet to be considered for the Arlington Pet of the Week? Email [email protected]m 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 of 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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Small Biz Focus: Return on Creativity Series Continues at The Alcove

This column is sponsored by BizLaunch, a division of Arlington Economic Development.

Telling the story of how business and branding work gets a novel look when creatives become published authors.

In the third seminar in the Return on Creativity Series, Arlington Economic Development partners with Arlington Public Library, the Rosslyn BID and the American Advertising Federation in Rosslyn’s brand new pop-up retail space at The Alcove.

Keynote speaker Greg Kihlström is Senior Vice President, Digital, at Yes& and Chair of the American Advertising Federation National Technology Advisory Committee. His new book, “The Agile Brand,” traces the evolution of branding, from its beginnings to its authentic relationship with brands that modern consumers want.

The book gives practical examples of how companies can create a more modern, agile brand while staying true to their core values.

According to Kihlström, being an agile brand means taking part in a relationship with consumers. While this means giving up some control, the reward is loyal, long-term customers.

Immediately following Kihlström’s presentation, a distinguished panel led by moderator Genelle Schuler of Arlington Public Library will continue the conversation and discuss the place that books play in today’s society and their approach to writing.

Panelists include Geoff Livingston, Principal, Livingston Campaigns; Lisa Nirell, Chief Energy Officer, EnergizeGrowth; and Scott Williams, President & COO, Newseum.

Date: Thursday, August 16
Time: 7-8:30 p.m.
Location: The Alcove in Rosslyn, 1800 N. Lynn Street

Event is free. Register here.

Supporting entrepreneurs, small businesses and creatives is all part of Arlington’s Creative Economy initiative. With public/private partnerships, growth of these endeavors is an important part of business sector diversity and economic sustainability.

Check here for ongoing Creative Economy listings and opportunities. More Creative economy stories on the blog.

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Just Reduced Properties in Arlington

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 may not be the listing agent of these homes.

Happy August!

I have good news: You have survived what is typically the hottest month of the year in Arlington County (July). The average high here in July is 88 degrees while in August it’s only getting up to… 86.

Okay, so that isn’t THAT big of a difference and you’ll likely want to still partake in some indoor activities.

If you’re hitting the mall (or your favorite shops), August is typically a great month to buy patio furniture. As summer winds down and less time is spent out on the ole porch, retailers begin to hit the discount button on outdoor tables, chairs and more.

Also, you’ll want to keep a lookout for pre-Labor Day sales, with more and more retailers starting their holiday sales weeks in advance.

In addition to helping you GET MORE out of your real estate transaction, we’re always looking for ways to help you GET MORE out of life in general. When you’re ready to settle in to a new place to call home, we’re ready to roll on your behalf.

As of July 31, there are 202 detached homes, 46 townhouses and 244 condos for sale throughout Arlington County. In total, 45 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.

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Ask Eli: Most Important Attribute for a Realtor?

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!

I’m flipping the Q&A format this week and asking you a question!

Most people agree that the most important quality to look for when selecting a real estate agent is somebody who writes a weekly real estate column for ARLnow, but after that, what is the most important quality you look for when selecting a real estate agent? Please respond in the poll below:

I have found that most people look for somebody they can trust first and vary on the next 3-5 most important qualities. Trust is always my leading qualifier when I’m searching for a provider inside or outside of real estate.

Thanks for participating!

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 www.EliResidential.com. Call me directly at (703) 539-2529.

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.

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Legal Insider: Employment Investigations in the Workplace

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, Esq.

We have represented both employees and employers in connection with employment investigations. This article talks about the issues involved when an employer conducts an investigation in the workplace. Employers conduct workplace investigations into employee complaints generally because they can face legal consequences if they do not do so.

As an example, if an individual alleges sex harassment or discrimination at work and the claims are not investigated, an employer can be more readily held liable by employees. The same type of investigation is necessary when dealing with claims of whistleblowing or other alleged inappropriate conduct at work.

What Happens During a Workplace Investigation

Usually, in most employment investigations, the employer will usually hire an outside law firm (or occasionally use internal counsel) to conduct an employment investigation and will act as the investigator.

Once the investigator is appointed, they will start their investigation. Keep in mind that the employer’s goal in these investigations is to minimize liability for the employer.

While an investigator may find an individual employee at fault, the investigator ultimately wants to find and document that no fault on the part of an employer occurred.

The following steps usually take place in an employer investigation:

  1. The investigator reviews the complaint and plans for a thorough investigation;
  2. The investigator interviews the complainant or complainants;
  3. The investigator interviews the employees with knowledge of the issues in the complaint;
  4. The investigator interviews the accused employee or employees;
  5. The investigator conducts follow-up interviews of any witnesses as needed;
  6. The investigator reviews any relevant documentation, emails or other evidence involving the complaint;
  7. The investigator issues a final report with recommendations to an employer.

Results of Workplace Investigation

Once the employer’s investigation is over, the results can vary. A report is usually prepared, along with recommendations on actions to be potentially taken.

The investigation can result in the termination or other discipline for an accused employee. The investigation can also vindicate the accused employee.

An employer must be careful in avoiding retaliation against a complaining employee, even when their complaint is found to not be justified.

Each investigation is different, and different employers vary in how they handle workplace investigations. The proper handling of an employment investigation can protect employees in the workplace and also reduce employer liability.

Conclusion

If an employee or employer needs assistance with an employment investigation or other issue, please contact our office at 703-668-0070 or at our website to schedule a consultation. Please also visit and like us on Facebook or connect with us on Twitter.

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Crystal City-Based Sekoyia Strives to Make Sustainability More Accessible

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. 

For Sekoyia founder and CEO Gareth Lewis, adopting a more environmentally sustainable lifestyle requires making a shift — much like establishing a gym regimen or trying a new diet.

But when Lewis got involved in promoting sustainability, he found that it can be “daunting and overwhelming… and there’s no easy way for someone to start making an impact,” he said.

Sekoyia, which is based in Crystal City, represents a tool for easing that transition.

“It’s our mission to empower individuals to make a positive and measurable environmental impact… by incrementally shifting their lifestyle,” Lewis said.

The “primary product” Sekoyia offers is a series of subscription boxes that enable users to “switch out some of the older things in our lifestyle with more sustainable options,” Lewis said.

The boxes are built into a six-month sequence with each focused on a theme, like energy, water or waste.

In addition to providing more sustainable versions of products like dish soap and resealable bags, boxes include “actions and challenges” that align with that month’s theme.

They also come with “impact tracking,” so users can see their individual impact along with “the whole collective impact of the Sekoyia community,” Lewis said.

The water box, for instance, lets each user save four kiddie pools-worth of water, $50 over a year, 41 pounds of waste and five-days-worth of cow farts (which emit methane).

A mechanical engineer by trade, Lewis began working on Sekoyia part time out of 1776 incubator space last year. In June, he transitioned to Sekoyia full time.

“My concern for climate change got to the point where I really had to do this full time,” Lewis said.

So far, Lewis has bootstrapped Sekoyia, meaning he’s personally funded the startup. Their team currently consists of Lewis, a CMO and two interns.

Lewis has applied for a WeWork Creator Award, which would give him the funding to pursue the “aggressive” goal of hitting 50,000 subscribers within a year, he said.

The subscription boxes are “the starting point” for Sekoyia, Lewis said.

“Ideally there would be some political action as well, and I think education is a huge part of that,” he said. Future initiatives could also include cleanup efforts and work to connect businesses with local sustainable services, like composting.

“I think that’s really the way that this has to go in the future if this is going to be successful,” Lewis said.

Photos via Facebook

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WWBG: Summer of Riesling


Editor’s Note: This biweekly column is sponsored by Dominion Wine and Beer (107 Rowell Court, Falls Church). It is written by Sarah Garratt, a wine and food pairing blogger. Follow her blog  or on Instagram @grapepairings.

Riesling… a white wine that is a wine aficionado’s dream.

It is one of the best white wines for food pairing and has one of the most unique flavor profiles that wine writers love to decipher. However, much of the world is left either confused or just don’t know about the wonders of Riesling.

This is why one New York sommelier and restaurateur, Paul Grieco, created an annual event called “Summer of Riesling.” Every summer, Mr. Grieco refuses to sell any white wine by the glass in his restaurant and wine bars except Riesling.

There are two dozen wines to choose from, but if you want a Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc, you won’t be able to order it by the glass.

Why? Mr. Grieco wants to show the world how expressive and wonderful the grape can be.

Well, what does a New York sommelier have to do with us? We agree with Mr. Grieco! Riesling is one of our favorite white wine grapes, too, and we are carrying on the tradition. This week’s WWBG showcases three fabulous Riesling as to why we love it!

Riesling is a white wine grape that is mostly grown in Germany; however, it can be grown in any cool climate. France, Austria, the US and Australia/New Zealand are some other areas where it is commonly grown.

Contrary to popular belief, Riesling is not just a sweet wine. Yes, it can be made to be very sweet, but there are many bone dry examples, as well as everything in between. It is almost always acidic and floral, but depending on where the wine is from, expressions of apple, pepper or mango can be found.

Our first example of a bone-dry, fantastic Riesling is the 2015 Tegernseehof Bergdistel Smaragd Riesling from Austria ($30).

With lots of citrus, honey and minerality, this wine would be perfect for a summer strawberry chicken salad or a juicy BLT with farmer’s market fresh tomatoes.

This wine is extremely limited right now. The only 10 cases in the US can be found at Dominion Wine & Beer or their sister location in Maryland!

Another Austrian Riesling that we are featuring today is an Anton Bauer 2016 Riesling Feuersbrunn ($22).

Anton Bauer recently won winemaker of the year in Austria, and after tasting this wine, you’ll know why.

Citrus, peaches, cream, and honey are very apparent, and yet, this is still a dry example of a Riesling. The citrus explodes in your mouth, and the honey and cream notes balance it out at the end. Curries were made for this wine, especially if it is made with seafood!

Lastly, we travel to somewhere a tad more local. The 2016 Left Food Charley Dry Riesling from Michigan ($22) is a wonderfully acidic Riesling with lots of character.

Lime and peach flavors hit you upon smelling, and are balanced out with some honey and apple flavors on the palate.

Your favorite Asian foods would do well with this, whether it be Chinese takeout, Vietnamese Pho, or a spicy Thai stir fry.

Don’t forget to visit Dominion Wine & Beer this Saturday from 1-4 for their wine tastings, and pick up some of these wines so that you can have your own Summer of Riesling!

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Just Listed in Arlington

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.”

Buyers stepped up the pace this week and gave a boost to the traditional summer doldrums of our real estate market.

They ratified 67 contracts compared to typically 50-55 sales a week in the summer. And sellers added another 78 fresh listings to the inventory. Some 25 of those got snatched up in less than seven days, mostly in price points under $700,000.

Mortgage rates have been flat this week hovering at 4.65% to 4.75% for 30-yr fixed rate. But the news Wednesday that the White House and European Union may avert a trade war could lead to higher rates, starting today. So pay attention.

  • Did you get flooded during that torrential downpour on Wednesday evening? Here are some tips to keep your basement dry:
  • Remove leaves & debris from outside stairwell drains
  • Clean your gutters of all leaves and debris
  • Make sure your downspouts carry the roof run off at least 3-4 feet away from foundation wall
  • If you have a sump pump, test it to make sure its operating properly
  • If you don’t have a sump pump, consider installing a French drain system on the interior foundation wall of your basement, and add a battery back up system to your sump pump
  • Grade the earth around the perimeter of your foundation wall to carry the water away, sloping 1/4 inch per foot
  • Or, you could just hope for the best!

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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