Tysons, VA

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

With Thanksgiving upon us next week followed closely by the December holidays, it’s important to know that due to the high cost of living in Northern Virginia, there are many families in need this holiday season.

Whether you’re looking for an in-person volunteer opportunity to do as an adult or with the family, or if you’d prefer to work behind the scenes and donate something, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved in our community at the local level.

Please check out some of the organizations and their needs at this time of year:

SHARE of McLean 

Share has a Holiday Celebration which is their biggest event of the year. They need volunteers, as well as donations. You can also sign up to host a food drive to help stock their pantry which they use to give food and gift cards to families in need. They have in person volunteer hours which may include moving furniture, sorting clothing, or restocking the shelves. If you want a more hands-on interaction, you can also greet and register the clients.

Committee for Helping Others (CHO) of Vienna 

CHO hosts a Christmas Store on December 7 for families in need in the Vienna and Oakton areas. They’re looking for new toys, gently used clothing and gift cards. Gift cards can be dropped off to the church office on the 2nd floor (Vienna Presbyterian Church — 124 Park Street NE ,Vienna). All other physical items can be dropped off by December 1 to the bins outside of the the VPC Narthex. You can find a list of their needs on their website.

Women Giving Back (Sterling, Virginia)

WGB is an organization that supports women and children with the basics to get back on their feet. They are collecting new, unwrapped toys for their children to be donated by December 13. You can drop them off locally at First Excel Title just outside of Oakton at 3201 Jermantown Road Suite 350, Fairfax, VA 22030. The store throughout the rest of the year needs clothing, accessories, shoes and kids clothes. Learn more.

You can also search more volunteer opportunities throughout Fairfax at Volunteer Fairfax.

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Vienna Turkey Trot Tips

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

The annual Vienna Turkey Trot is the Sunday before Thanksgiving on November 24.

The race starts at the Fire House on Cherry Street SE across from Waters Field. Here’s a brief overview of the event and some tips below.

The race begins with everyone lining up in the street by the Fire House. There’s music playing, everyone talking, and cheering. There’s a very enthusiastic man dressed in a Turkey Suit that will lead the race. There is a group stretch before the race, then they have the fun run line up to kick it off!

  • Register early! You can pick up your packet before the race to make the morning easy the day of. The registration packets often include some fun things like a sweet treat, tattoos, jelly bands and if you registered early a t-shirt. They do have day of registration starting at 7 a.m. if you decide to jump into the race that day.
  • The Kids Fun Run starts first at 8 a.m. The 5k/10k starts when that’s over at 8:30 a.m.
  • Plan to park in one of the approved lots: The Community Center, Vienna Elementary, Patrick Henry Library, The lot BEHIND the Vienna shopping center, Town Green lot or Caboose Parking Lot.
  • Strollers are welcome! But dogs are not. Leave Fido at home.
  • My family and I always love to watch the other runners after we do the Fun Run and we stay to cheer them on. Stay to cheer people on! You can line up on Center Street or Cottage to cheer them on. I think most of them appreciate the cheering.

For more information on prices, age groups and course information visit the website.

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Lot Coverage in the Town of Vienna

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

The Town of Vienna has strict lot coverage regulations for residential property. Lot coverage is identified as the footprint of a building and/or structures that permanently occupy a property divided by the size of the parcel; that includes the actual house, accessory buildings, driveway, sport courts, tennis courts, patios, terrace, screened in porch, sheds, and pools. The town coverage limit is 25% of the total lot for zones RS-10, RS-12.5 and RS-16. If you want detailed setbacks, requirements and zoning regulations for decks, patios, and pools, visit here.

In Fairfax County, even for Vienna residence that’s not located within the Town, the lot coverage is 30%. Fairfax also has strict guidelines on what counts and limitations, but you can also do different things to help offset that coverage.

Just to compare, in Arlington County, the max lot coverage is 45% and that can go up with a front porch, detached garage, etc.

Homeowners can certainly apply for a variance with the Town, but success with that is hard and certainly not guaranteed. You can contact the planning and zoning department if you have questions.

Why does the Town have a such a strict lot coverage? The Town aims to be an environmentally conscious community and the lot coverage helps with many of our environmental concerns: water run off, trees, etc.

The original homes in Vienna used to only take up 11-12% of the lot, so even renovations will be impacted by the coverage if you’re exploring that option. Many times when I’m doing an open house I have to educated buyers on this rule. Make sure you do your research before you start discussing big renovation ideas so you’re not disappointed!

What do you think? I can see both sides to this – I’d love for the Town to have some flexibility with homeowners who want to build an extra patio, or oversized garage, or a screened in porch, but I can also see the benefit of actually requiring some yard be left after building. It’s one of the reasons my husband and I moved to Vienna and left Arlington – a yard for my kids to play in (ironic that now we spend most of our time in the front yard).

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November Events Around Tysons

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

This week marks the beginning of the true Holiday season: Halloween, Thanksgiving, then bring on December!

There are always so many things going on at this time of year between kids events, friendsgiving, Diwali, field trips and regular every day life, it’s hard to keep up with things! Here are some highlights of great events during the month of November:

Trick or Treating on Thursday — Rainy Day Ideas

In case it’s raining on Thursday and you want a back up plan, Tyson’s Corner Mall has “Malloween” from 3-5 p.m. On the plaza, Fairfax County Police will be handing out candy, American Scream will be providing spooky entertainment, face painters will be available and then you can take your kids trick-or-treating inside the mall to 50+ stores.

Bootique Trick or Treating Spooktacular at Mosaic: Trick or treating in the stores from 5-7 p.m. and then a showing of Monsters Inc on the green at 6:30 p.m.

November 1, 7 p.m. — Haunted Halloween Murder Mystery at Maggiano’s Tysons 

Murder mystery night with dinner, bar, and entertainment. Buy tickets online.

November 2, 9 a.m.- 12 p.m. — Town of Vienna Fall Clean-Up Day 

Help the town staff pick up trash, remove invasive plants and generally clean up designated areas. Call 703-255-6336 or email John King at [email protected] to sign up.

November 8, 5:30 p.m. — Winter Walk of Lights at Meadowlark Botanical Garden

A magical walk around the beautifully decorated botanical garden with awesome light displays. Stay at the end for smores, popcorn, hot chocolate and hot cider. Inside they usually have a photo area with props on a sleigh. Buy tickets early.

November 8, 11 a.m. — Reston Town Center Ice Skating Pavilion Opens 

Reston Town Center transforms into an ice skating pavilion on November 8. Hours vary, check their Facebook page for more details.

November 17, 8 a.m. — McLean Rotary 5k Turkey Trot

5k Turkey Trot held at Central Park Tysons. Open to anyone who wants to run or walk!

November 18, 5 p.m — Pet Pictures with Santa at Macy’s Court in Tysons Galleria

Every Monday from November 18 to December 16 at 5 p.m., pets can take photos with Santa. Reservations available online!

November 22 — Bull Fun Festival of Lights

2.5 mile illuminated holiday light display (drive-through) with a festival at the end that includes rides, refreshments and photos with Santa Claus.

November 24, 8 a.m. — Vienna Turkey Trot 

Annual Fun Run, 5k and 10k in Vienna held at the Vienna Volunteer Fire Department. Register here. Walking is also welcome along with strollers.

November 24, 2 p.m. — Nutcracker Tea Party in Falls Church

Presented by Adagio Ballet, the Nutcracker Tea Party with Sugar Plum Fairy and Clara at the Marriott Fairview Park in Falls Church. There will be treats, games and activities. Buy tickets online.

Quick Preview of December:

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Halloween Light Show in Vienna

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

The Ni Family does it again!

A fantastic light show during Christmas time has stepped out of their regular schedule and put on a fantastic Halloween light show! The show is located at 2528 Drexel Street, Vienna. Make sure you drive by over the next 2 weeks to see the show

When: Now through October 31

  • Sunday-Thursday: 6:45-9:30 p.m.
  • Friday & Saturday: 6:45-10 p.m.

What: 2019 Halloween Light Show — the show runs 30:32 in total length.

  • This is Halloween from Nightmare Before Christmas (4:07)
  • Spooky Scary Skeletons (1:01)
  • Thunderstruck by ACDC (3:23)
  • Mix — Ghostbusters/Fun House/Baby Shark (4:06)
  • Know What You Did in the Dark by Fall Out Boy (3:06)
  • Beetlejuice Theme Song (2:26)
  • Calling All the Monsters by China Anne McClain (3:26)
  • Monster Mash (3:19)
  • Somebody’s Watching Me by Rockwell (3:36)
  • Stranger Things — Never Ending Story (2:06)

How: When you pull up to the house, tune your FM radio to 90.3 if you don’t to get out of your car.

Reminders:

  • Don’t block any driveways
  • Turn your headlights off
  • Don’t make the music too loud
  • Park close to the curb

To find out when their holiday light show is up, including times and playlist, make sure you follow their Facebook Page.

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Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

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

Here is your quarterly reminder on how to care for your home this fall and prepare for the cooler temps, falling leaves and time spent indoors.

If you ever need a contractor, you can always email me for a recommendation. My rolodex is large and full of great tradesman!

  • The leaves are falling, so clean your gutters, clear your downspouts and make sure all drains are clear (especially the ones at the bottom of your stairs near your basement).
  • Clean your window wells, and if you don’t have a cover, consider installing one. It’ll help prevent water from coming in.
  • Winterize your irrigation system and closer your pool!
  • Check your roof for damage or missing shingles.
  • When the weather drops to freezing temps, don’t forget to winterize your hose bibs. Before then, make sure you remove hoses and bring them inside for protection.
  • Check for drafty windows or doors. You can use a strip of paper to check — if you suspect a draft, update your weather-stripping.
  • If your driveway or front steps have cracks, they can expand when water gets in and freezes. Seal any cracks before that happens. You can use concrete crack sealer or higher a mason to help.
  • Change your HVAC filters. Have an HVAC company perform a seasonal service (should be done twice a year — fall and spring).
  • Fertilize your lawn. Those brown spots won’t fix themselves!
  • Check your smoke detector, carbon monoxide and flashlight batteries.
  • Get your chimney swept before use.
  • Prep by buying winter supplies now. Home inspectors advise you not to use salt on your driveway, as it can erode the concrete. Use sand if you’re looking for traction, but that won’t melt the snow either.
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Vienna Halloween Parade Tips

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

This year the 73rd Annual Vienna Halloween Parade will take place on Wednesday, October 23 at 7 p.m.

The theme this year is “Famous Children’s Books & Fairytales Brought to Life.” The parade is about half a mile long and lasts about 1.5 hours. The parade route runs from the intersection of Branch/Maple and ends at the library at Center/Maple.

If you’ve never been, here are some tips to help you make the most of the experience!

  • People set out chairs and blankets early in the day to reserve their spot. If you want a front row view, I suggest you do the same. The town asks that no one does this before noon on the day of the parade and that revelers stay clear of the sidewalk and benches during the day.
  • If you have a flat bed truck, you can back into parking spaces at the shopping centers and sit high to get a better view.
  • Some of the groups in the parade are very loud. If you have someone who is noise sensitive, consider bringing something to help them enjoy the parade without the noise.
  • There are no food vendors except for the nearby restaurants so plan to bring food if you need it or support a local restaurant.
  • Kids in costumes can walk in the parade with an adult if they want to. Participants meet at 6:30 p.m. in the parking lot at United Bank (374 Maple Avenue E).
  • Depending on what part of town you live in, you should be able to find parking to easily get out. Many people park at Vienna Elementary, the library, the Giant shopping plaza, side streets, Walgreens shopping center, or the Fresh Market parking lot.

Pro Tip: The Weichert Realtors office at 156 Maple Avenue E holds a haunted house every year from 5:45-7 p.m. They have a designated area for small kids, but they also have a scarier “Haunted Room” if you are looking for bigger thrills. They also give out candy.

The parade is one of my favorite Vienna events!

Bring extra blankets in case it’s cold. In years past, people would jump over to the old Starbucks for hot chocolate on cold nights, but now that’s gone so you’ll still have the Vienna Shopping Center for food (Panera has hot chocolate) and Caffe Amouri is open until 9 p.m. too.

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October Fall Festivals!

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

Maybe, just maybe, we’ll actually get a fall season in October where you can breakout pants and a cozy sweater.

I spent Saturday at Cox Farms in 95 degree heat and while still fun, it didn’t quite feel like a Fall Festival! I will say though, their cider donuts are so good! I did a roundup of the September Fall Festivals last month, so rounding that out with the ones in October below! If you had a favorite from September, drop it in the comments so others can plan for next year!

Cox Farms — Centreville, VA
September 14-15, September 21-November 5
Live music, cow milking, farm chores, hayride, tunnels, slides, swings, corn maze, goats, cider, donuts and their market! This is my favorite event all year and I actually hold my client appreciation event here in the fall. You really can’t beat a day in cooler weather walking around their farm!

Great County Farms — Bluemont, VA
September 30-October 31
Fall Pumpkin Harvest Festival featuring pick your own pumpkins (also apples), wagon rides, pig races, Dino shows, Marshmallow roasting, cider pressing, live music, 5-acre play area, donuts and their market. Adult pro tip: Bluemont Vineyard and Dirt Farm Brewing are across the street and the views can NOT be beat. There’s a coupon for tickets on CertifiKid.

Fall For Fairfax-KidsFest — Fairfax, VA
Saturday, October 5, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Sunday, October 6, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Kids fall festival for elementary and pre-school aged children, which includes scarecrow making, pumpkin painting, pony rides, petting zoo, model trains, rides and 75 exhibits and food vendors. This event also has a coupon on CertifiKid.

Oktoberfest — Vienna, VA
Saturday, October 5, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
Held on Historic Church Street by the red caboose, the event features live music, games, kids activities, German auto show, lots of food and drinks. *My company, McEnearney, has a booth at the event. Come meet me between 3-7 p.m.*

City of Fairfax Fall Festival — Fairfax, VA
Saturday, October 12, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
The event includes over 400 vendors, children’s activities, 3 stages of music and entertainment, and carnival rides.

Halloween on the Green — Vienna, VA
Saturday, October 19, 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Ages 2-10, family fun on the town green, which features crafts, games, storytelling, moon bounce, petting zoo, treats and decorate your own pumpkin.

Reston Farm Fall Fest — Reston, VA
Now until November 5, hours vary based on day
Weekends feature moon bounces, moon bounce slides, corn maze moon bounce, train rides, dog shows, puppet shows, face painting and food!

Town of Vienna Halloween Parade — Vienna, VA
October 23, 7 p.m.
A fabulous tradition that runs along Maple Avenue from Branch to Center Street. Read my tips on attending the parade from last year.

Amazing Farm Fun — Ticonderoga Farm, Chantilly, VA
Now until November 3, hours vary
Long list of activities includes hayrides, jumping pillows, tunnels and slides, petting farm, tire play, cowtrain, firepits and s’mores, and more.

Jack’s Pumpkin Glow — Reston, VA
Now until October 27, hours vary
A 1/3 mile train filled with over 5,000 hand carved jack o’lanterns into amazing structures. Buy tickets ahead of time. Tickets can be pricey, so check out the 20% off coupon on Certifikid.

Butler’s Orchard Pumpkin Festival — Germantown, MD
Weekends until November 3
Admission is $12/person and includes hayrides, jump pad, corn maze, giant slides and more. There’s also food available like cider, donuts, kettle corn and more. You can pick your own pumpkins, do a pumpkin cannon, face painting and pony rides.

Pumpkin Village at Leesburg Animal Park — Leesburg, VA
Open everyday, hours vary
Festival activities include wagon rides, giant slides, zip line, moon bounce, corn bin, hay maze, pony rides, animals, moon bounce pillow and more.

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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.

Our real estate market can be pretty intense most of the year, especially on the buyer side in recent years.

We see multiple offers and bidding wars as a common practice, along with people waiving inspections and contingencies in the contract to “win.” You do what you gotta do, right? Well here’s what I see as the problem with that.

Once you “win,” people often forget some of the basics they should be doing now that they’ve bought a house either because you’re so excited (which I totally understand!), or because nobody was there to tell you to do some of these things. Besides a basic home inspection, here are some common issues we see all the time in our area that homeowners should be aware of.

Termites

Northern Virginia is home to many subterranean termites. They lives in the soil beneath and around homes and enter through wood that touches the ground. They can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage if left undetected. Our real estate contract has the opportunity to conduct a wood destroying insect (termites, carpenter bees, beetles, etc) inspection.

But here’s where people go wrong: just because none were found at that time, doesn’t mean you’ll never have them! I highly encourage people to make sure they specify a termite contract with an insect company. Most of them only do pests — spiders, ants, crickets — but you have to ask for termites as well. In my own personal home, we’ve never had termites, but I did a preventative treatment on my house so I wouldn’t have to worry or even think about it. Treatments are good for 5 years. Termites can be found in single family homes, townhomes and condos under the 4th floor (per lender guidelines).

Radon

Radon is an odorless, tasteless, colorless natural element that emits from the ground. It can cause lung cancer. Virginia as a state has high levels of radon naturally occurring. If you see this EPA map, Fairfax County as a whole, falls between highest and moderate potential for radon levels around the EPA safe limit of 4 pC/L. Just like termites, just because you test it once, doesn’t mean you won’t have high levels of radon.

It’s a naturally occurring element and can change day to day. The way to test for radon is through a 48 hour air sample. They take on average over 2 days to see where your levels fall. If the reading is above 4.0 pC/L, they recommend installing a radon abatement system, which is basically a fan system to pull the air out and dispense it above the roofline. The approximate cost for this system runs about $1,000 depending on your personal home and where it’ll go. Many times, with remediation, you can get below 1 pC/L.

Level 2 Chimney Inspections

Older homes in our area have masonry chimneys and if left unkept, can deteriorate over time. The masonry inside can crack and break down, water can get in the chimneys and flues can leak smoke through the chamber.

I highly recommend a level 2 chimney inspection, where a chimney company actually sends a camera with a light into the chimney. The fix recommended lately is a stainless steel chimney liner, which costs about $3,000 depending on the height of the flue. They usually come with a lifetime warranty.

These are common issues I’ve been finding lately that people don’t think about because they’re not easily visible or everyday issues.

It’s hard to see past a leaking toilet, but it’s very easy to never see these 3 issues.

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Best Bacon Around Tysons

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’s poll time!

I need to know, what’s the best bacon you’ve found around town? I have a few vote getters, but now I need your input.

When you’re in the mood for bacon, where do you go?

An honorable mention from Fava Pot added. The Basterma isn’t pork, it’s beef but it’s salty, spicy and a good bacon alternative!

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