Tysons, VA

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.

The Commonwealth of Virginia, on July 15, 2020, became the first state to require employers to adopt safety requirements due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The new Virginia Department of Labor and Industry rules went into effect on July 27, 2020. A link to these new rules is provided here.

These rules require Virginia employers to take the following steps to protect employees from COVID-19. These include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Require employers to assess their workplace for potential employee exposure to COVID-19
  • Encourage employees to self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 if they suspect exposure
  • Require employees not to permit employees known or suspected to be infected with the COVID-19 virus to report or remain at work
  • Require employers to develop policies for employees that report experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19
  • Asks employers to ensure the use of flexible sick leave policies
  • Notify employees within 24 hours if a co-worker tests positive for COVID-19 while keeping their identity private
  • Require social distancing in the workplace
  • Mandate face coverings for employees in customer-facing positions or when social distancing isn’t possible
  • Sanitize common areas daily
  • Provide easy and frequent access to hand washing and hand sanitizer
  • Other rules provided in the attached policy

Many of the new employer rules in Virginia are common-sense requirements. For Virginia employers whose employees are considered at “high,” “very high,” or “medium” risk of coming into contact with potential COVID-19 positive exposure (e.g. health workers), employers are also required to screen employees at the beginning of each shift and provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Virginia employers should take time to read the above-linked 35-page document which provides a list of all of the new employee-safety requirements in order to ensure that they are compliant with these new rules.

Contact Us

If you are in need of legal representation or advice, please contact our office at 703-668-0070 or through our contact page to schedule a consultation. Please also visit and like us on Facebook or Twitter.

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Three Stones Residential agents pride ourselves on our consultative service approach, local expertise and real estate market knowledge. With over 26 years of business experience in the DMV, we have consistently performed in the top 2% of local Realtors and are currently the #1 group at Keller Williams Metro Center. 

The following properties were recently listed in the Tysons, McLean, Vienna and Falls Church areas.

Our role is to offer sound advice and guidance to our clients in order for them to achieve their goals in either buying, selling, leasing or managing real estate. We are truly “Your Home… for Everything Real Estate.” To schedule a private showing of these or any other properties of interest please do not hesitate to contact us here or email us at [email protected].

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As the world begins to open up again, WhyHotel Tysons Corner Greensboro Drive is ready to be your temporary home, whether you’re in the area for a project or need a safe haven to escape to.

WhyHotel Tysons Corner Greensboro Drive offers luxury apartment units for short term stays at comparable rates to local hotels — and it is now accepting stays of 4 or more nights! The spacious units provide everything you could need without ever leaving the safety of your front door, including a private kitchen, washer/dryer and safe access to package services.

In addition to safe social distancing and private amenities, here are some other measures that WhyHotel is taking to ensure the safety of guests:

  • Personal cleaning supplies, including brooms, mops and disinfectants, in lieu of housekeeping, to limit entry to your space
  • Contactless support for questions during your stay
  • Onsite staff available to assist you from afar

Check out WhyHotel Tysons Corner Greensboro Drive’s reviews to see what guests say.

Learn more at WhyHotel.com, or call 571-260-6267 with any questions!

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Val Sotillo, Northern Virginia-based Realtor and Falls Church resident. Please submit your questions to her via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: With mortgage rates in the record lows, we have decided to buy our first home this year. Do you have any recommendations on how we should start the home buying process?

Answer: There’s plenty of advice on the topic all over the internet, so I’ll include some suggestions I don’t see on most sites and also put my own opinion on advice that you may have heard before.

Your Search Criteria

Challenge yourself early to come up with 12-15 things that are important to you. Then give yourself 100 points and allocate points to each based on how important they are to you and you’ll end up with a weighted criteria list to help you focus your search and objectively compare properties.

Length of Ownership

This is one of the most important conversations to have with yourself/your partner. You should focus on the following:

  • Likely length of ownership
  • Difference in criteria for a 3-5 year house vs a 10-12+ year house
  • Difference in budget requirements for a 3-5 year house vs a 10-12+ year house

Appreciation is not guaranteed and difficult to predict, but the value of longer ownership periods is undisputed. One way longer ownership adds value is the potential for eliminating one or more real estate transactions, and the associated costs (fees, taxes, moving expenses, etc) and stress that comes with moving, over the course of your lifetime. If you have an opportunity to significantly increase your length of ownership by stretching your budget, it’s often justifiable.

Influencers (not the Instagram ones)

Family, friends, colleagues… they’re all happy to offer opinions and contribute to your home buying process, but the input can be overwhelming and unproductive if you don’t set boundaries. Try to determine up-front who you want involved in the process and how you’d like them to be involved.

Does Your Dream House Exist?

Spend a little bit of time searching For Sale and Sold homes on your favorite real estate search website to see if the homes selling in the area you want and within 10% of your upper budget are at least close to what you’re looking for. If not, try adjusting the price, location and non-critical criteria to figure out what compromises you’ll need to make and then compare those compromises to your current living situation.

Know Your Market

We’re in a strong seller’s market right now with low supply, high demand and increasing prices. Each sub-market behaves a bit differently and comes with its own unique set of challenges and opportunities, so take time early on to understand the sub-market(s) you’ll be involved in and what you’re likely to experience. This is something your agent should be able to assist with.

Pre-Approval & Budget

There is a lot of value in working with a lender early on in the search process. For starters, you’ll have somebody who can provide real rates and advice based on your specific financial situation and needs. A lender can only do this if they’ve reviewed your financial documents and credit. The more you put in, the more you get out.

You’ll need to have a lender pre-approval to submit an offer so if you have to do it anyway, why not doing it early on so you get the most value out of your lender? It also means that you’ll be prepared to make an offer if you find the right home before you expect to be ready.

Given how competitive the Northern Virginia real estate market is, the quality of your pre-approval can make a big difference when you make an offer. You should strongly consider partnering with a local lender with a great reputation to give yourself an advantage when making an offer. Pre-approval letters from big banks and online lenders don’t go over as well in our market. If you’re looking for a recommendation I’ll be happy to connect you with a great local lender.

Find an Agent

The least surprising suggestion on this list! Agents come in many different forms and finding somebody who suits your personality and goals is important. Ask friends, colleagues and family for referrals and meet with multiple people until you find the right fit.

The worst thing you can do is choose your agent based on whoever responds to an online showing request faster. A good agent can provide a ton of value being involved in your buying process months before you’re ready to buy. Be wary of anybody who wants you to “wait until you’re ready” before working with you.

If you’re considering buying (or selling) in the DMV in 2020 and would like to meet, feel free to email me at [email protected]!

Val Sotillo is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington D.C., and Maryland with Real Living At Home, 4040 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite #10C Arlington, VA 22203, 703-390-9460.

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Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in McLean. Reach the office at 703-790-9090.

Born during the pandemic, one neighborhood is having kids create little rustic wood signs with a base color and a heart out of wood. They are pay-what-you-want, contactless pick up, and all proceeds go directly to the Vienna VA Foodies group, who has been providing meals and grocery packs to local families in need.

There is currently a waitlist for a sign, which you can find here through Google Sheets. Pick your base sign color, heart color, send payment via Venmo, Paypal or cash at pickup.

You’ll start noticing these around town! Know that each sign went to help feed someone.

You can also follow along on their Facebook page.

Photo via Rustic Love Vienna Facebook

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Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in McLean. Reach the office at 703-790-9090.

It seems like everyday a new “for sale” or “for lease” sign goes up somewhere around town.

It’s hard to keep up with what’s coming in, going out, or going up. Some plans get denied, some you’ve never heard about get approved, and others have got PR teams who blast about upcoming changes. There’s a Facebook group for Vienna, called the Vienna Development: Open Discussion, which is a good place to start.

There are multiple resources online if you are curious about a specific project:

Don’t see something listed? You can always email me and I’ll do some digging for you!

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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, Esq.

Employers have started to see the first lawsuits by employees and customers related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The numbers of these types of cases will only continue to increase, given the lack of a cohesive strategy by federal and state governments in dealing with the reopening of businesses and the potential for liability. Hopefully, Congress will deal with this problem quickly and compromise. As of June 12, 2020, according to a tracker of COVID-19 cases, approximately 2,700 COVID-19 lawsuits have been filed.

The First Lawsuits Have Started

The first COVID-19 related lawsuits seen thus far include a class action by McDonald’s workers and a wrongful death action filed by a Safeway employee’s family. Many other lawsuits have been filed, both small and large, and we are starting to see employers require employees to sign waivers in order to return to work, and other businesses and events requiring individuals to sign waivers before entering.

For instance, some businesses have required individuals to sign waivers of legal rights to enter gyms or salons or to attend other events. For example, at the President’s campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma attendees were required to waive their right to sue the campaign in the event they contracted COVID-19 at the President’s campaign rally.

Employers are Seeking Liability Protections

The question of whether a business is liable if their employees or customers catch COVID-19 has become a critical issue as many states reopen retail, foodservice and other businesses. Businesses contend that they are subject to numerous lawsuits without any liability protections and are seeking legal protections from Congress, or even individual states, as the pandemic subsides. On the other side, opponents of liability protections argue that limiting liability for businesses could cause them to ignore safety rules, endangering both employees and customers.

A Compromise is Very Likely

It is likely that a compromise will be found, through congressional action, or worst case, on a state-by-state basis. There will need to be a balance between the protection of employees and customers and in ensuring that businesses do not go bankrupt through needless and often frivolous litigation. It is likely that these liability protections may find themselves in pending congressional bills which provide additional financial relief to individuals and businesses affected by the pandemic. In the end, businesses and employers that act reasonably will likely be mostly safe from litigation.

Contact Us

If you are in need of legal representation or advice, please contact our office at 703-668-0070 or through our contact page to schedule a consultation. Please also visit and like us on Facebook or Twitter.

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Three Stones Residential agents pride ourselves on our consultative service approach, local expertise and real estate market knowledge. With over 26 years of business experience in the DMV, we have consistently performed in the top 2% of local Realtors and are currently the #1 group at Keller Williams Metro Center. 

The following properties were recently listed in the Tysons, McLean, Vienna and Falls Church areas.

Our role is to offer sound advice and guidance to our clients in order for them to achieve their goals in either buying, selling, leasing or managing real estate. We are truly “Your Home… for Everything Real Estate.” To schedule a private showing of these or any other properties of interest please do not hesitate to contact us here or email us at [email protected].

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The Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University is offering prospective graduate students the opportunity to sample a free virtual lecture regarding one of the more pressing concerns of the day: the coronavirus pandemic and, more specifically, the future threats that might be inspired by it.

The sample lecture, titled Will COVID-19 Inspire Greater Interest in Bioweapons?, will be held July 22 at 12 p.m. EDT. It will be taught by professor Gregory Koblentz, director of the biodefense master’s, PhD, and graduate certificate programs at the Schar School.

“The sample lecture will discuss the history of bioterrorism and why different terrorist groups have tried to develop and use biological weapons,” said Koblentz. “Understanding the motivations for bioterrorism can help us predict the conditions under which bioterrorist groups emerge.”

The online lecture will be based on a bioterrorism risk assessment framework that Koblentz developed as part of an earlier research project on chemical, bioterrorism, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) terrorism. In 2016, Koblentz briefed the UN Security Council on the impact of emerging technologies on the threat posed by the proliferation of CBRN weapons to non-state actors.

“This class sampler,” said Koblentz, “will provide a preview of one of the lectures I’ll be giving in BIOD 609: Biodefense Strategy in the fall. This will be the first chance for prospective students to hear my analysis of this threat.”

The session will reveal new insights about the pandemic and how diseases could be used for bioterrorism or biological warfare in the future. “There is a long-standing debate in the field about the threat posed by bioterrorism,” said Koblentz, “and there are a whole bunch of new questions being raised about how the COVID-19 pandemic might increase that threat. There are some disturbing indications that both far-right and jihadist terrorist groups are seeking to exploit the pandemic to advance their respective political agendas.”

Register to attend the sample lecture.

To stay updated on sample lecture opportunities or information about the Schar School’s graduate programs, please visit our admissions event page or fill out our request form.

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Val Sotillo, Northern Virginia-based Realtor and Falls Church resident. Please submit your questions to her via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: I’ve heard the market is extremely competitive these days and sellers are getting multiple offers for their properties. What makes a winning offer?

Answer: Other than the sale price, there are other terms included in your offer that will determine its strength and the value it has to the seller. Of course, every home seller wants to get the most money possible, but they also want to accept a clean and safe offer that is going to make it to settlement without complications.

Flexibility and a willingness to budget are fundamental parts of the real estate negotiation process. In a multiple offer situation, your offer will need to shine above the rest, and the best way to do that is to make an offer favorable to the seller.

Here are some of the terms included in most contracts that have the biggest impact on the strength of an offer.

Price/Escalation Addendum

Higher price = stronger offer. Escalation Addendums are common when there are multiple offers, and allow you to beat any competing offer by a specified amount, up to the highest amount you’re willing to pay for a property. Used correctly, it prevents you from leaving money on the table, while not paying too far above what the rest of the market is willing to offer.

Contingencies

The three most common contingencies are for the home inspection, appraisal and loan. Each provide the buyer with a set of protections that allow them to renegotiate or terminate the contract, without losing the deposit. Removing a contingency or shortening the contingency timeline increases the strength of an offer.

  • Home Inspection: It used to be standard for Northern Virginia buyers to include a negotiation period in the home inspection contingency, allowing them to negotiate for repairs or credits based on the results of the inspection or terminate the contract. Now it is much more common for buyers to forego the negotiation period and simply retain the right to void (aka a pass/fail inspection), which is much more attractive for a seller. Even more attractive is when buyers perform a pre-inspection on the property and remove the home inspection contingency altogether.
  • Appraisal: If you’re using a mortgage to purchase a home, your lender will almost always require a property appraisal. The appraisal contingency allows you to renegotiate or terminate the contract in the event the home appraises for less than the purchase price. It is common for buyers to remove the appraisal contingency or agree to cover up to a certain amount on a low appraisal to increase the strength of an offer.
  • Financing: The financing contingency allows you to terminate the contract without losing your deposit if your loan isn’t approved. Many buyers who have undergone a thorough pre-approval or underwriting process have enough confidence in their ability to secure the mortgage that they remove this protection.

Quick Closing

Most sellers want to close as quickly as possible so cash-buyers have the biggest advantage here because they can usually close in a week or less. Offering a quick-close to a seller can give your offer a significant boost.

Financing

If you’re relying on a mortgage, sellers are usually more drawn to higher down payments. That’s not to say that a 3-5% down payment (or 0% on a VA loan) can’t win in a competitive scenario, but you are at a disadvantage and will often get passed over when all other terms and pricing are relatively equal.

A thorough pre-approval process by a reputable lender can provide the seller with confidence that if they accept your offer, there is very little risk of the deal falling apart due to financial issues. Sometimes sellers take less money work with a buyer they have more confidence in.

Earnest Money Deposit

The EMD is money held in escrow by the Title Company as security for the seller that you’ll perform under the obligations of the contract. It gets applied against what you owe at closing for down payment and closing costs, but is at-risk if you default on the contract and terminate outside the legal contingencies.

Traditionally, a reasonable deposit ranged from 1-3% of the purchase price, but some buyers are electing to make substantially larger deposits in an effort to establish financial strength.

Rent-Back

If the homeowner is still living in the house during the sale, their preference is to close as quickly as possible and then have some time to move out after the sale is complete — this is called a rent-back. It used to be common for the seller to cover the buyer’s daily carrying cost (mortgage + taxes + insurance + HOA fee) for the length of the rent-back, but in this competitive market, a strong offer often includes a free rent-back for the seller.

Whether you’re buying your first home or your tenth, having a local professional on your side who is an expert in his or her market is your best bet in making sure the process goes smoothly. If you’d like to discuss buying or selling strategies, reach out to me at [email protected].

Val Sotillo is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington D.C., and Maryland with Real Living At Home, 4040 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite #10C Arlington, VA 22203, 703-390-9460.

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