Tysons, VA

Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in Vienna. You can follow Laura on Instagram at @LauraSchwartzRealtor or her Facebook page. Laura can be reached at 703-283-6120 or [email protected].

I have a kindergartener who returns to hybrid school this week, and it’s a toss-up who is more excited about this actually happening this time. We did the usual trip to stores for snacks, and I have never been more grateful to fight over chocolate-dipped Oreos with a tiny human than I was yesterday.

I am so, so thankful they get to return to school this week (finally). With that said, I’ve been thinking of ways to celebrate the milestone because they’ve missed out on so many of the traditional events.

Here are some suggestions on ways to celebrate the return to school:

  • Card My Yard: Whether it’s at your home or at the school (looking at you, PTA), it’s a fun little thing to make a great photo opp or fun walking destination.
  • Sweet Treats: What kid doesn’t love an afternoon treat?
    • Crumbl Cookies
    • Nothing Bundt Cake
    • Kiln & Co. custard
    • Ben and Jerry’s
    • Rita’s Italian Ice & Frozen Custard (opens this Friday!)
    • Milkshakes at Social Burger or Elevation Burger
    • Pie Gourmet
    • Magnolia Dessert Bar

Also, don’t forget about the teachers. They’ve been working so hard to keep the kids engaged, learning and thriving during this chaotic mess, and supporting them may just be the extra boost they need to keep going!

We’ve asked a lot of them, just like we’ve asked a lot of the kids. While homemade treats may not be the way to go during COVID, don’t forget about Karin’s Florist or gift cards. Teachers love gift cards!

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Many Virginia employers are unaware that new COVID-19 workplace standards were released and require immediate compliance. Local Virginia businesses created COVID Compliance Plans to easily and inexpensively help employers create the documents they need to comply with these new standards.

On Jan. 27, 2021, Virginia’s Gov. Ralph Northam released Virginia’s permanent COVID-19 workplace safety and health rules.

Gov. Northam stated: “While the end of this pandemic is finally in sight, the virus is still spreading, including several highly contagious variants, and now is not the time to let up on preventative measures … These standards will reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure and protect the health and safety of Virginia workers, consumers and communities as we move our Commonwealth forward together.”

The new rules mandate appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), sanitation, social distancing, infectious disease preparedness and response plans, record keeping, training, and hazard communications in workplaces across Virginia. The Permanent Standard replaces the Emergency Temporary Standard, which has been in place since July 2020. The Permanent Standard keeps many provisions from the Temporary Standard, but it has a few notable changes. The rules took effect on Jan. 27, 2021, and will remain in effect throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

The Permanent Standard makes a few revisions to the Temporary Standard that employers should be aware of so they can comply with the new regulations, including: relaxing employer’s reporting obligations, only requiring an employer to report to the Virginia Department of Health when two or more employees test positive for COVID-19 within a 14-day period rather than reporting each positive case; modifying return to work requirements; explaining that face shields do not qualify as face coverings; and requiring employers in the very high-, high- and medium-risk categories to implement enhanced ventilation controls for air-handling systems.

The Permanent Standard continues the Temporary Standard’s “exposure risk level” categorization requirement. The specific standard that applies to a workplace depends on the exposure risk, hazards present and tasks undertaken by employees. A workplace’s risk level will be categorized as either lower, medium, high or very high.

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The biggest question a homeowner faces when taking on a $15K+ bathroom renovation is, “Will I be happy with my new bathroom?”

The answer will be based primarily on the bathroom’s design. Finding a reputable contractor who can do the work takes effort — but it is doable. The real challenge of creating a beautiful space is aligning design concepts with personal taste. Enter a professional designer. However, even for a small bathroom that service typically costs thousands.

Until now.

Local bathroom renovation startup Remodelmate has introduced a tech-based service allowing homeowners to pair with a professional designer for $650 — a fraction of the traditional cost.

It starts with a link sent to the homeowner’s smartphone allowing them to quickly scan their existing bathroom. The app takes thousands of photos and measurements, creating a 3D model of the space.

The designer references homeowner inspiration images and uses photorealistic rendering technology to apply an initial design to the 3D model, which is then refined until the final image matches the homeowner’s vision.

The homeowner ends up with a magazine-worthy design that matches their personal style, including virtual photographs of the finished bathroom — all before any materials are ordered or construction begins.

Learn more at remodelmate.com.

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Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in Vienna. You can follow Laura on Instagram at @LauraSchwartzRealtor or her Facebook page. Laura can be reached at 703-283-6120 or [email protected].

You may not know there is a Vienna Business Association, which is basically a chamber of commerce. The group has monthly meetings, speaker series, weekly e-blasts, monthly mixers and helps sponsor local events, like ViVa Vienna and Oktoberfest. They are currently a discount of 20% of your first year, which includes lots of free advertising opportunities for members.

One of the things the VBA does that I absolutely adore is they mail (or, pre-COVID, drop off) a “welcome bag” to new town residents once a month. This program started about two years ago, and the CBA includes offers on discounted items like coffee, ice cream, bundt cakes, accounting services, massages, hair salons, dental services, oil changes, home improvement and design services, and more. It’s a great way for new residents to learn about the Vienna businesses.

If you’re thinking of joining the VBA, you can find them online or by phone at 571-550-2483. The woman who runs the VBA, Peggy James, is delightful, and you can always find her around town supporting local restaurants and shops. It’s a true “shop small, support local” group.

 

VBA Director Peggy James, former Mayor Laurie DiRocco and Caffe Amouri owner Michael Amouri
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Virginia Tech Launches Online MBA

Virginia Tech is launching its newest MBA program option, the Online MBA, in response to the changing needs of students and the workplace in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The new format allowed us to combine some of the tried and true features of our established in-person MBA formats and online master of information technology to craft the best possible educational experience for students who value consistent interaction with their classmates and also want the flexibility of an online program,” said Parviz Ghandforoush, associate dean for graduate programs.

“We’ve sought to include the best aspects of our top-ranked Evening MBA, experiential-focused Executive MBA and hybrid Professional MBA, both in curriculum development and online delivery,” said Dana Hansson, director of MBA programs. “We’ve integrated feedback from students in all formats to determine how we can offer the best educational experience online.”

It’s this feedback that informed some of the unique features of the 22-month Online MBA that distinguish it from other online MBA offerings in the marketplace.

While fully online, delivery of the new program will be evenly split between synchronous and asynchronous experiences. “While students appreciate the flexibility of asynchronous learning, many shared with us that meeting synchronously best mirrors an on-campus experience. It allows students to participate actively in class discussions and study teams, develop working relationships with their peers and engage with Virginia Tech’s top-notch faculty,” Hansson said.

The program is cohort-based, which means that students complete their studies in lockstep and have the opportunity to build meaningful professional relationships with their classmates.

Students can choose to specialize their MBA in areas where Virginia Tech has significant expertise, such as cybersecurity, entrepreneurism, health information technology and business data analytics. The program also includes an option to study abroad through the international business specialization.

Online MBA students will also share the support and resources available to all Virginia Tech MBA students. Hansson said this includes access to an established MBA alumni mentoring program, personalized academic advising and membership in Virginia Tech’s vast alumni network.

“We’re excited to provide this new opportunity to professionals across the globe who want to further their careers and join our talented group of students and alumni who are proud to call themselves Hokies.”

Applications for the inaugural cohort are due May 1, with classes starting in July and graduation expected in May 2023.

Learn more at mba.vt.edu/online.

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Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in Vienna. You can follow Laura on Instagram at @LauraSchwartzRealtor or her Facebook page. Laura can be reached at 703-283-6120 or [email protected].

Now that the fried food and carb overload of the Super Bowl are behind us, we can turn our attention to the sweets and chocolates of Valentine’s Day.

There are many ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day whether you’re shopping for a significant other, child, galentine or someone else you love. Many of our local stores have things to enjoy this weekend. Remember most will require advanced notice if you want something custom!

How about ordering flowers from Karin’s Florist or some food from Bobby’s Bagel Café in Oakton. They have heart-shaped everything — bagels, cookies, chocolate-covered Oreos and strawberries! Check their website for details.

You can also find more sweets at Cocoa Vienna or Cameron’s Coffee & Chocolates, a local nonprofit that employs young adults with special needs. They have a large shop to order from, but you can also find some of their products at Vienna Vintner. Because chocolate and wine. Why not? Maybe you even add a trip to Mesmeralda’s Gifts in McLean, The Artisans or Craving for Chocolate.

My husband and I usually give a stuffed animal or book to our kids on Valentine’s Day, which means a trip to Bards Alley this week.

Vienna and McLean are filled with local little shops to support. Remember most have curbside pick-up, so shop small, support local.

Hoping you have a great Valentine’s Day!

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Can’t find your perfect home? Then it might be time to build it. Purposefully building your next home might be the remedy to today’s low inventory. Whether it is new construction, renovations or additions, you have options to consider. But there are pitfalls that require caution as well as fantastic benefits to keep in mind.

Want to explore some of the options available in Northern Virginia? Here are some active listings to check out with your hard hat on…

New Construction

Arden — New Toll Brothers development off Route 7, 1.3 miles from Tysons Corner and in the Langley Triangle. Priced from $2.207 million, new single-family homes on ¾- to 1+-acre home sites.

Walker Bend Estates — 950 Walker Road, Great Falls is a completed move-in ready $2.79 million GE Custom Home with 6 bedrooms, 8700+ square feet, and open Sundays 1-3 p.m. An adjoining homesite accessible by a private paved road is a 5 acre lot listed for $1.15 million — 954 Walker Road, Great Falls is ready to build with an approved well and 6-bedroom perc.

2000 Clarendon Boulevard, Arlington — 82 new construction condos located in the heart of Court House, 10-foot ceilings and views of D.C. Two units remain, including a 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom unit for $679,900.

The Townhomes at Reston Station — EYA’s newest neighborhood with easy access to the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station boasts new construction townhomes that start in the upper $700k and elevator townhomes like 1831 Wiehle Ave #THE BAKER MODEL, Reston that start in the upper $900k.

Renovations

425 N. Alfred Street, Alexandria is currently listed as Coming Soon for $1.095 million. This could be the perfect solution for buyers looking to choose the finishes but not direct the work themselves. You can help determine some details in the renovation of this 1880 detached Old Town rowhome with close to 2000 square feet, two parking spots, a spacious backyard and only a few blocks from King Street.

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Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in Vienna. You can follow Laura on Instagram at @LauraSchwartzRealtor or her Facebook page. Laura can be reached at 703-283-6120 or [email protected].

It’s Beer Consumption Day in America — I mean, it’s Super Bowl Sunday this week! It’s also looking to be a Pandemic Sunday where we get three to five inches of snow in the DMV area.

All of that makes it hard to throw a big Super Bowl party this year, but there are other ways to celebrate. It happens to be one of my favorite days of the year, even as a long-suffering Eagles fan.

As is common in my posts, I’m going to throw out some takeout ideas to save you from cooking:

  • Mama Tigre: They have this amazing looking platter available that includes queso, chips, guacamole, spicy masala queso, chicken wings, flautas and more.
  • Bear Branch: Wings! Both fried and grilled are available.
  • Foster’s Grille: Wings, burgers, fries, onion rings… Order early — they often sell out!
  • Caboose Commons or Tavern: Fried pickle chips (so good!), wings and burgers
  • Maple Ave: Crème fraîche wings
  • Red Apron: One of my favorite local burgers — they have so many great options for watching football.
  • Taco Bamba: Their wings! And nachos!! They have a “big game platter” option.
  • Fermented Pig: Ribs, chicken, sides… all the barbecue your heart could want.
  • Pizza: We are lucky to have so many good pizza options around town. Try Church St, Union Pie (gluten-free options!), Tony’s, Pizza Roni, Santini’s, Luciano or Mod.
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Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in Vienna. You can follow Laura on Instagram at @LauraSchwartzRealtor or her Facebook page. Laura can be reached at 703-283-6120 or [email protected].

The Washington Post did an article back in October about safety tips when visiting a playground. They also talked about how important getting outside is for kids during the pandemic. Move their body, get creative, maybe even see other human beings — even if from afar.

I have two boys who need to be moving constantly or they start trying to get stimulation by annoying each other, so I’m a big fan of sending them outside to move. Maybe you’re new to the area, maybe you’re just looking for an escape, but here are some great resources on playgrounds around Northern Virginia:

If you find a hidden gem we should all know about, please share it in the comments below!

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Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in Vienna. You can follow Laura on Instagram at @LauraSchwartzRealtor or her Facebook page. Laura can be reached at 703-283-6120 or [email protected].

Based on my predictions for 2021, you now know that we’re in a fast-moving real estate market that’s very seller friendly. With low inventory, our marketplace is fast and furious with new properties that hit the market.

What you don’t see is the months of work that go into getting a seller ready to sell or a buyer ready to buy. In this market, if you’re not prepared, you’re immediately at a disadvantage. So to help you prepare if buying or selling a house is on your 2021 goals list, here are my top five things to do now:

1. Speak to a lender.

This is critical. Rates are really low — below 3% — but knowing how much you can afford is critical. Even more important: If you have a house to sell, you MUST know if you need to sell that house first before you can buy, or if you can buy without selling. Knowing the order those must happen in will drive your entire process. A good real estate agent will lay out options for both scenarios, based on your risk aversion, and come up with a plan on how to move forward.

2. Ask colleagues, friends, and neighbors for referrals for a real estate agent.

Talk to a real estate agent earlier than you think you need to. Some of my clients have been shocked by how little they really need to do to get a house ready to sell or what small items will make a bigger impact than they expect. Going room by room with a plan and prepping early will have big returns. Maybe you want to explore staging your home — find out how much that is. Information is power — power for you to make decisions that are right for you. Remember when picking a Realtor® you’ll be working closely with that person for months, so make sure you trust them!

3. Prep your home to sell using trusted contractors.

Changing lighting fixtures, painting some walls, deep cleaning, etc. Whatever your agent suggests (and you’re comfortable doing!) to prep your home, make sure you have trusted contractors to help get the projects done. You can always download my vendor guide for free.

4. Write a must-have versus nice-to-have list.

This is for the buyers, especially when there’s more than one buyer. Make sure you’re on the same page with what you’re looking for. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people argue over a house. It’s TOTALLY NORMAL. It happens all the time. But that doesn’t make it better. House hunting is stressful, so anything you can do to minimize the additional stress is key!

5. Scout the areas.

Figuring out where you want to live is hard when you’re not familiar with the neighborhoods. Do you want Metro access? Do you want an HOA with a pool? Do you want land and no neighbors for miles? This goes hand-in-hand with the must-have list. Drive around. Ask your real estate agent for suggestions on where to start. If you have specific needs (e.g. one-mile radius of a Metro), those are very easy searches for us to run online for you. It gives you a place to start. Realtors are bound by fair housing rules, so we can’t always tell you if the neighborhood is family friendly etc. I recommend stopping to chat with neighbors out walking. They’ll be the best able to answer questions on the neighborhood.

BONUS: If you’re thinking of building, this is a bonus for you.

You MUST talk to a construction lender to understand the process, and you MUST start interviewing builders. Are you going with a design/build company, which is a one-stop shop? Are you going to hire an architect and then a builder? Do you know what lot size you need and elevation? All of that is SO critical in looking for lots. Often times lots don’t always hit the open market, so knowing which way you plan to go with a builder must be in place.

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