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 heard it snowed in Texas this weekend but not here!

While it’s cold, we’re having a pretty mild winter for the Northern Virginia area. I remember the one two-hour snow we had in December and how much fun my kids had playing in it.

So with that in mind, if you’re thinking of a day or weekend trip to go skiing, snowboarding, tubing or just to be a snow lodger, here are some suggestions for local ski resorts to visit from Northern Virginia:

  • Massanutten (Massanutten, Virginia) — Skiing, snowboarding, tubing, waterpark, golf and more. About a two-hour drive.
  • Wisp Resort (McHenry, Maryland) — Skiing, snowboarding, tubing, mountain coaster, ropes courses, golf (and P.S. in the summer they have whitewater rafting, kayaking, pontoon boat tours and more). About three hours away.
  • Liberty Mountain Resort (Fairfield, Pennsylvania) — Skiing, snowboarding, tubing and golf. About 90 minutes away, great for a day trip.
  • Whitetail Resort (Mercersburg, Pennsylvania) — Skiing, snowboarding, tubing and golf. About an hour and a half to two hours away, also great for a day trip.
  • Bryce Resort (Basye, Virginia) — Skiing, snowboarding, tubing and ice skating. About two hours away.
  • Timberline Mountain (Davis, West Virginia) — Skiing and snowboarding. About three hours away.
  • Blackwater Falls State Park (Davis, West Virginia) — Sled run, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing — a little different than some of these resorts. Sled run requires appointment. About three hours away.

Don’t forget to check COVID-19 instructions. Pennsylvania requires a negative covid test 72 hours before entering the state. You can also check out ski schools but most require advance reservation — same with ski tickets.

You can also explore rentals at Sun & Ski Sports in Falls Church, which may be cheaper than renting at the mountain.

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Are you working from home? Or is it really living at work?

Fasten your seatbelts… or, should I say tighten those drawstring pants… we are in this for the long-haul, D.C. According to a recent study of more than 400 local employers, 45% of D.C. metro-area employers with 20-plus employees plan to shift some of their workforce to a permanent telework schedule.

The implications of such a major demographic shift will be felt well after the COVID-19 pandemic is behind us. How will the dramatic acceleration of telecommuting impact the way you live and work at home?

Here are six key questions we must ask about our current spaces:

1. Do you need more space?

The office you used to go to likely had conference space, break rooms and dedicated workstations. Does your home have that now, too?

Your current space may not have been designed for working and living. With home prices continuing to post gains (Northern Virginia’s average sales price in November 2020 was $675,290, up 7.7% from the November 2019 average price of $627,088), it might be the right time to sell and seek out more space.

7820 Frances Drive Alexandria, VA 22306 — $675,000 charming and expanded 5-bedroom Cape Cod sits on a generous 0.77-acre lot

2. Is open concept working for you?

Having dedicated office space does not mean perching up on the kitchen table and angling your Zoom camera to hide the family room behind you. While open concept has enhanced sight lines and brought families together, a post-COVID world ushers back the ‘closed-concept’ and single-use rooms.

1411 Key Blvd #311 Arlington, VA 22209 — $1,065,000 sun-filled 2-bedroom plus den in the heart of Rosslyn

3. Would the suburbs or a small town make sense now that you don’t have to go into an office?

Compared to last year, we have seen a 105% increase in demand for small towns (defined as populations ranging from 10,000 to 50,000 people). If going into the office is only required by your employer one to two days per month, what would be your tolerance for a one-hour commute?

38085 Homestead Farm Lane Middleburg, VA 20117 — $689,000 3-bedroom farmhouse buffered by woods and a creek

4. Is your internet up to speed?

Did you know your realtor can help you find a house with certain internet capabilities? The Bright MLS, only accessible by licensed agents, now has a new feature allowing us to search properties with broadband or fiber optics, ensuring the necessary work-from-home connectivity.

5. How is your outdoor space serving you?

Whether it is a pool, patio, deck or chaise lounge, these spaces can be key for stepping away from work or enhancing your Zoom backgrounds. Sometimes these views speak for themselves, pulling us to our next home…

612 Rivercrest Drive, Mclean, VA 22101 — $12.8 million 5-bedroom, 9-bathroom is a castle on the river and boasts 85 feet of water’s edge on the Potomac

6. Is it time to purchase a second home?

The third quarter of 2020 brought a 42% surge in luxury home sales. While some are looking for a larger home in the DMV, others may want to seek out a vacation home that provides a separate oasis. Whether it’s the Eastern Shore, Outer Banks, the Jersey Shore or Cape Cod, we can help you find your second home sanctuary.

4 Ministers Lane, Chatham, MA, 02650 — $5.95 million shingle-style waterfront with breathtaking Chatham Harbor and Atlantic Ocean views

Need a home office? Better view? Or perhaps a second home? Contact me today and let’s explore your options together.

Mackenzie Horne, MBA is a licensed REALTOR® in the Commonwealth of Virginia with McEnearney Associates in McLean. Send Mackenzie a message at 571-594-9136, [email protected] or @MackHorneRealtor.

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The ever-evolving “security threat landscape” and changes in user behavior and IT infrastructure require IT professionals to keep their knowledge up to date and stay on top of the latest trends and developments.

Earning a 100% online Master of Information Technology or graduate certificate with cybersecurity specialization from Virginia Tech can help individuals meet these heightened demands in a number of ways.

Ranked one of the top online master’s degree for cybersecurity by Cyberdegrees.org and one of the top four online graduate IT programs nationwide by U.S. News and World Report, Virginia Tech’s VT-MIT program takes a unique approach to specialized education.

Core courses in areas such as information systems design, electronic commerce, software engineering and computer programming help students master technical expertise in a business context. After completing these core courses, degree students can choose to specialize in cybersecurity technologies, cybersecurity management or cybersecurity policy. Virginia Tech also offers these topic areas as standalone graduate certificates for those not pursuing the full degree.

Whether interested in running an in-house cybersecurity practice or exploring the legal and ethical concerns triggered by data breaches, students have the opportunity to tailor their education around their career ambitions.

Part of Virginia Tech’s core strength is its world-class cybersecurity research, supported by $15 million in research grants and contracts. Students can access six cybersecurity research centers, including the Ballston-based Hume Center for National Security and Technology.

The VT-MIT program’s 100% online format allows students to pursue higher education at their own by deciding their own course load each semester. Further enriching the student environment is the program’s openness to students with diverse backgrounds and interests, including business line leaders looking to improve their technology capabilities while leveraging their domain expertise.

Combating today’s cyber threats has never been more difficult — or more critical to business continuity. A Master of Information Technology degree with cybersecurity specialization or standalone graduate certificate from Virginia Tech can help leaders better understand the systemic nature of these threats and teach them strategies for dealing with an increasingly complex security landscape.

Learn more about Virginia Tech’s 100% online Master of Information Technology with cybersecurity specializations at vtmit.vt.edu.

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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].

Happy New Year!

Those of us with Q1 birthdays are the last to experience a pandemic birthday. I’m trying to remember what we did for my husband’s April birthday, and when I couldn’t remember anything (oops), I decided it was time to give some options to make sure next year I remember.

Everyone still has different levels of comfort, so some of these ideas are really simple and others are more extravagant. Some are great whether you’re an adult or for kids. Remember: Birthdays are also calorie free — so don’t forget about splurging on food!

1. Card My Yard

2. Private Rental

  • Angelika — You can watch a current movie or bring your own Blu-Ray or game to watch on the big screen.
  • Cinemark (Fairfax) — It has reclining seats. Enough said. Sit back, relax and watch a current movie.
  • Reston Ice Skating — You can rent the entire rink for 1 or 2 hours.
  • Rent out a restaurant — like Bazin’s Next Door for your “bubble.”

3. Private Class

4. Visit from the Vienna Singing Princesses

5. Visit from the Vienna Police or Vienna Fire Department

6. Paint your own pottery at Kiln and Co. or All Fired Up

7. Outings

  • Head to Top Golf.
  • Play Oak Marr Mini Golf, or hit the driving range.
  • Take a hike.
  • Explore a new restaurant.
  • Go for a drive.

8. Petting Zoo

Regardless of how you celebrate your birthday or those of your loved ones, wishing you a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year with countless birthdays ahead!

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Although Dalia Palchik has spent nearly all her life in Providence District, her first term representing the district on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors still threw her some curveballs.

Though she had some prior experience with the county government as Providence’s representative on the Fairfax County School Board, Palchik tells Tysons Reporter that she still had to get acclimated to the many departments, initiatives, and organizations, all while in the middle of a once-in-a-century pandemic.

“My next goal is to have us get away from acronyms,” Palchik joked.

More seriously, the supervisor says the pandemic has uncovered problems in Fairfax County that she believes can be tackled if the county commits to building trust in the community and working with established and respected local groups and organizations.

She says this year has revealed the vulnerability of communities that have less access to housing, good schools, and walking trails. Those populations also bear the brunt of economic depressions and climate change.

While it is important that the county has hard data showing these inequities, it needs to work “so much faster and harder to help not make those gaps even larger,” Palchik said.

Palchik also saw significant gaps in Fairfax County’s ability to communicate with people who speak Spanish. Upon becoming supervisor, she learned that the county had no Spanish-speaking person overseeing all communications with Spanish speakers.

“I was shocked, honestly,” she said.

For a few months, Palchik filled that role until it was taken over by a Spanish-speaking staff member who joined the county communications team this fall, she says.

As supervisor, Palchik also noticed a disconnect between the county’s operations and the needs of hyper-local communities, noting that many residents are more likely to think of Rhode Island when they hear the word “Providence.”

“They know that they live in Oakton, Falls Church, Tysons, Merrifield or Dunn Loring,” she said. “I think the big challenge is continuing to do things that support our whole county, while honing in at the community development level.” Read More

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New Christmas Tradition Ideas

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].

This week marks a week of favorite traditions for some and a sad week for others. Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, everyone seems to have their own idea what makes this week unique and memorable. I’m sharing some ideas for those who want to change or add what they do this week.

Let’s start with giving back.

The restaurant Medium Rare is making 3,000 meals that’ll be delivered this week to those in need. They have locations in Cleveland Park, Bethesda and Arlington. They are looking for people to help deliver 10 meals at a time. You pick a location and a time, and upon your arrival are given 10 drop locations and the food. I’m signed up to deliver today and tomorrow, and I’m bringing my kids with me. Delivery is contactless. Sign up online.

“Winter Mitzvah Day” at Temple Rodef Shalom in Falls Church: Christmas Day is always a day of giving back at the temple but will be scaled back this year, obviously due to COVID-19. Some ideas of ways they’re giving, and you can join: Winter coat drive in front of the school entrance, food drive collection box at the temple, buy a “McLean Cares” meal for $10 plus a $1.50 tip from a McLean restaurant to help feed low income families. Learn more about each option.

Now let’s talk food.

Whether you’re looking for a take out meal for brunch on Christmas morning, or a full dinner to feed your family, many local restaurants are doing take out.

Oh, and if you want Chinese food? There’s plenty of that, too.

Some restaurants to check out for take out:

Finally, what about entertainment?

If your tradition usually includes going to see a movie on Christmas Day and you’re not comfortable going into a theater of random people, did you know you can buy out a theater? For around $100 you can rent out a private screening for up to 20 people.

Regardless of how you spend the week — wishing you and yours a safe and healthy holiday.

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(Updated at 7:15 p.m.) For Alex Chappell, covering the Washington Nationals is both a dream come true and a homecoming.

Now a resident of McLean, the MASN on-field reporter spent her childhood on the other side of the Potomac River in Montgomery County, and she still remembers the thrill that accompanied the news that the Montreal Expos would move to Washington, D.C., in 2005, giving the nation’s capital its own major league baseball team for the first time since 1971.

Growing up, Chappell rooted for the Boston Red Sox, since her father had played in the minor leagues for that organization. However, once the Nationals arrived in D.C., her family quickly adopted them as their favored National League team.

Even over the phone, Chappell’s joy at getting to report on a team that she spent her summers home from college cheering on is unmistakable.

“Getting to go to games at the ballpark, it was just a really special experience, so yeah, to be a fan of the team and now to get to cover them was really, really exciting,” Chappell told Tysons Reporter.

Chappell had her sights set on a career in sports journalism since attending Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, but her journey to MASN began in earnest when she joined the University of Alabama’s campus radio station.

Drawn to the university for its communications school as well as its reputation as an athletic powerhouse, Chappell gained valuable experience and skills covering Crimson Tide football that she later translated into gigs as a sports reporter for local TV stations, first in Birmingham, Ala., and then in Boston, Mass.

After covering the Tampa Bay Rays for a season in Florida, Chappell got the job she had been waiting for: the chance to return home to report on the Nats.

The opportunity came in 2018 when MASN promoted on-field reporter Dan Kolko to an anchor position. Chappell learned about the rare opening from colleagues at ESPN, where she has been covering college football on a freelance basis for the past four years.

“Working in the media industry, it’s really challenging to ever get the chance to work in your hometown,” Chappell said. “The timing has to be there, the opening has to be there, just almost all the stars have to align, so it was just such an incredible blessing and opportunity.”

Perhaps Chappell brought some of that lucky timing with her when she joined MASN, because her arrival to the network coincided with a mesmerizing season for the Nats that culminated in the franchise’s first-ever World Series victory. Read More

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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].

As we wrap up the 2020 calendar year and a very strong real estate market, I want to share with you my predictions for how 2021 will go.

What makes me qualified to speak on the market? I’ve been selling real estate full-time since 2008, I have a master’s in applied economics from Hopkins, and I’m one of the top agents in the D.C. metro area according to every poll out there (Washingtonian, Northern Virginia Magazine, The Wall Street Journal America’s Top 100).

Here’s what I know to be true today:

The real estate market for detached homes has literally exploded all over the Northern Virginia area as people try to get more space. Fueled by low inventory and high demand, we naturally enter into a seller’s market, which favors competition, great contract terms and higher prices. In fact, in Fairfax County through Q3, the average house was only on the market for 23 days, which is down 16.5% from last year. The average sales price is up 10.9% from last year. Summary: higher prices, faster sales.

The same can’t be said about the condo market. The condo market is oversaturated with inventory, which is slowing sales and dropping prices. It’s a great time to buy a condo as an investor — except the rental market is also oversaturated and slow. My personal theory is that Covid is ever-present in a condo — wear a mask in the elevator, wear a mask in the hallway, wear a mask just to throw out your trash, etc. There’s nowhere to go and no way to escape it. Would-be buyers and/or renters moved home to mom and dad and took the opportunity to save money. I have no statistical proof of that — just my own theory.

Now how does that position us for a new presidential term, potential post-vaccine world as adults return to the workforce in person?

I expect the real estate market to continue to be strong. I expect sales to continue and inventory to still be low, but I’m hopeful the spring market will be very strong as maybe potential lost sales from 2020 who postponed, actually do sell their homes. I also expect prices to continue to climb.

Interest rates will remain low throughout the year. I had a client lock in a 2.5% interest rate last week. 2.5%! If you have a mortgage with anything over 3.25% right now, you should look into refinancing if you plan to stay for at least a year. With rates remaining low, buyer demand will continue to be strong. Don’t know who to call? Email me for lender referrals.

I expect condos to be slow for Q1 to Q2 in 2021, but I’m hopeful that once the virus is contained more, you’ll see sales start to pick up again.

I do think the demand for detached homes will continue to be the greatest, as it has been for years. But I also see there’s a potential for more work-from-home routines to be established as Covid changes behavior patterns, which changes a buyer’s needs, like the need for a dedicated home office space.

Do I think there will be foreclosures and short sales as a result of all the job loss? Not really. Perhaps in the price ranges under $400K, but even that market is strong, and those who are having trouble affording their homes can still sell at a profit and avoid the financial hit.

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It has barely been 10 days since Fairfax County launched its annual Hypothermia Prevention Program, and it’s already clear that this winter will be unlike any other that Abby Dunner has experienced in her nearly decade-long work with the initiative.

Now the manager of the Fairfax County Office to Prevent and End Homelessness, Dunner has been involved with the hypothermia prevention program since she was employed as a case manager and assistant by the nonprofit FACETS in 2012.

The COVID-19 pandemic, however, forced Dunner and the other county and nonprofit officials who run the program to completely reengineer their operations, which were well-honed after 15 years of providing shelter for people in need during the coldest months of the year.

This year’s hypothermia prevention program, which started on Dec. 1 and runs through Apr. 1, 2021, must contend not only with the public health risks and social distancing protocols created by COVID-19, but also the looming threat of a surge in homelessness if emergency assistance measures end.

“We recognize the challenges and kind of the unique situation that we’re in, but everybody is also very much on board with understanding that the program has to continue,” Dunner said. “We have to still be able to shelter people who are experiencing homelessness.”

County officials and the nonprofit contractors that operate the hypothermia prevention shelters realized early on that they would have to make major changes to the program to make it viable this year.

Dunner says the Office to Prevent and End Homelessness collaborated extensively with the Fairfax County Health Department throughout the planning process. Health officials walked through each site and recommended ways to implement social distancing as much as possible.

Typically, the county relies on faith communities and nonprofits to host the actual shelters, which rotate between different locations every week, but the churches and other buildings usually utilized were too small to allow for the approximately 100 square feet of space sought per guest.

This time, the county turned to its own facilities, ultimately identifying seven sites that were sufficiently spacious, centrally located, and accessible by public transportation.

The ideal site for Central Fairfax, which includes the Tysons area, turned out to be a former Container Store at 8508 Leesburg Pike in Vienna.

According to Mike Dykes, the hypothermia coordinator for FACETS, which is operating the site, Fairfax County had been renting it out to George Mason University as a storage space before realizing it could be repurposed. At roughly 19,000 square feet in size, it can accommodate up to 84 shelter guests with social distancing.

“It’s quite a lot of space, much larger than the spaces we were looking at earlier and larger than most of the spaces we’re at in other years,” Dykes said.

Dunner says the hypothermia prevention program generally serves about 1,200 people across its four months of operation, and roughly 215 people utilize the shelters each night.

Though only a handful of people stayed at the Container Store site for the first couple of nights, the shelter averaged about 26 guests over the program’s first seven days, reaching 40 people on Dec. 7 with numbers expected to continue rising, according to Dykes. Read More

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Still can’t find paper towels at your local Target? Me neither. The pandemic has caused many everyday items that we take for granted to literally fly off the shelves.

We saw it this summer with playsets and trampolines, but the craze for outdoor enjoyment extended beyond kids’ play equipment to the outdoor assets a residential property boasted, including pools and patios. What could possibly be the next must-have to make your stay-at-home experience more tolerable this winter?

Fire Pits

Those looking to continue using their outdoor spaces will need to seek out warmth in some form. As long as it is coming from the soothing crackle of a wood-burning fire pit or a gas-powered flame — not body heat less than 6 feet away — you will be in good company. These houses are ready for outdoor entertaining on any starry quarantine night:

2205 Windsor Road, Alexandria, VA 22307


1139 Crest Lane McLean, VA 22101

Spectacular Sunrooms

While it might be hard to find electric heaters or faux fireplaces this winter, now is the time to outfit your three-seasons sunroom in order to maximize its use. Take a look at these spectacular sunrooms that will bring some more light to your quarantine days:

929 Leigh Mill Road, Great Falls, VA 22066

1001 N. Vermont Street #904, Arlington, VA 22201

Access to Trails

Hiking in the winter is one of the DMV’s best kept secrets. The quiet and solitude is good any time of year, whether you are walking your dog or trying to tire out your kids in between virtual learning sessions. Check out this local home with easy access to local trails:

637 River Bend Road, Great Falls, VA 22066

Whether your must-haves include fire pits and sunrooms, or you would like a bigger kitchen and a home office, contact me today to explore your options.

Mackenzie Horne, MBA is a licensed REALTOR® in the Commonwealth of Virginia with McEnearney Associates in McLean. Send Mackenzie a message at 571-594-9136, [email protected] or @MackHorneRealtor.

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