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.

The new development in Tyson’s by the Greensboro Metro is called “The Boro.”

If you haven’t explored the area yet, it’s designed to be a multi-purpose community that brings residential (both condo and apartments), retail, entertainment and office together in one space. The neighborhood is built with a 14-screen ICON movie theater (reclining seats!), and the largest Whole Foods in the D.C. area.

While still under construction at the time of this writing, I wanted to give you my favorite things in The Boro right now:

  1. The bread pudding doughnuts at Curiosity Doughnuts in Whole Foods. My son also loved the beignets.
  2. Fish Taco! Everything on the menu is great — I’ve been to their Maryland location as well, but the chips & guac, followed by the Ancho Shrimp salad is so, so good.
  3. The Whole Foods food hall — a great meeting spot for a please-everyone food hall, easy parking in the garage or short walk from the metro. Lots of tables to sit and chat.
  4. Honorable Mention: Paris Baguette for all your carb and sweet tooth needs. I myself am more of a salty treat girl (my popcorn addiction is well known), but who can pass up a delicious croissant?

I look forward to checking out the new spots as they open.

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Easy Walking Trails Near 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.

My kids spent most of the weekend outside enjoying our early spring — thanks Punxsutawney Phil!

I grew up in Upstate New York, so I’m no stranger to cold winter weather, but I will admit I don’t mind these mild January/February days! We live in an area that’s covered in secret wonders to explore, whether by yourself, with your dogs, or with you family.

There are some great options to get outside, walk off that Superbowl Hangover, keep up with your New Years resolutions and keep everyone sane from feeling cooped up inside.

Here are some of my favorite walking trails near Tysons:

  1. The obvious, The W&OD Trail — You can jump on at so many junction points around town and make a day of it. Walk, run, bike etc to a nearby restaurant (like Caboose or Church Street Pizza), or head to the Community Center in Vienna, Spacebar in Falls Church or take it to Arlington and go explore the new Ballston Quarter.
  2. Roosevelt Island — Located just off the GW Parkway in Arlington, we did this walk on New Years Day with my kids. It’s quiet, an easy walk, and a dose of some history to remember. If you like to skip rocks, the trail is surrounded by the Potomac River, so easy ways to walk down to the water and throw rocks, enjoy a beautiful view of Georgetown, and let the kids or dogs run.
  3. Meadowlark Connector Trail — A small portion that diverges from the W&OD and leads you directly to Meadowlark Botanical Gardens
  4. Great Falls — Either the Virginia or Maryland side will offer a wonderful walk/hike and beautiful views. We love to pack some sandwiches and walk from one end to the other and find a big rock to sit on in the sun and enjoy the sounds of the falls. It’s really a beautiful thing to see and such an escape from our daily D.C. life, commute and chaos!
  5. Scott’s Run Nature Preserve — Located in McLean just off Georgetown Pike, it also has some beautiful water views and cliff views of the Potomac River. We did this hike on New Years Day 2019 and I think we saw a total of 1 other person in 2 hours. It was such a nice quiet way to spend a few hours. Parking can be tricky if you don’t know where you’re going, so plan ahead.

Did I miss your favorite hidden spot? Share it with me below!

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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.

Valentine’s Day is just about 3 weeks away and on a Friday this year!

Sometimes we can forget to book early, so here’s your reminder to book a restaurant reservation early this year! Some of these may even have a special menu for Valentine’s Day.

Vienna

  • Clarity
  • The Palm
  • Bazins
  • Maple Ave
  • Randy’s
  • Café Renaissance
  • Blend 111
  • Zenola

Falls Church

  • 2941
  • Thompson’s Italian
  • Dominion Beer & Wine

McLean

  • Assaggi Osteria
  • J Gilbert’s
  • Eddie V’s
  • Wildfire
  • Lebanese Taverna
  • Nostos
  • Founding Farmers

Looking for ladies night out ideas instead? Check out this post from last year!

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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.

If you’ve ever read any of my bio, you know that I was a softball player in college at the University of Rochester in New York.

I was an All-American, both academically and athletically. My husband was a soccer coach in Loudoun County for Potomac Falls High School and I coached Varsity Softball at Yorktown High School in Arlington for a few years around 2007. My boys are both heavily involved in baseball and basketball sports around Vienna. To say we’re a sports family is mildly understated.

Having started my kids playing in the i9 program has been so much FUN. Something I think gets lost these days in kids sports. I’m highlighting the program, which is a franchise, but is locally owned by a Vienna/Oakton family for the entire Fairfax County franchise.

They offer programs that start as young as 3 years old for both girls and boys and goes up to 13 in flag football, soccer, basketball, baseball, volleyball and zip lacrosse.

The programs for the little kids is usually once a week for an hour: a 30 minute practice followed by a 30 minute game. They have a weekly sportsmanship value that’s discussed in detail. Things like positivity, teamwork, humility and listening. For the younger kids, one kid from each team gets a medal per work for demonstrating that value (every kid gets a medal by the end of the season).

Here’s the reason I love the program so much: the guys who run it every week are passionate. They all have day jobs, they do this because they LOVE it. They love working with the kids to teach them the sport and they’re so enthusiastic you can’t help but love the experience.

Special shout out to Mervin who runs a lot of the Vienna location sports — we’ve had him for soccer, baseball and basketball now and he’s hilarious. He’s so good with the kids, good about getting parents involved in the right way, and encouraging a good time. For their first and last games, they usually do fun events like letting the kids run through a banner with music playing, or run down a line of outstretched parent hands for a high-five while they announce their names.

If you have kids who may be the ones who hide behind your legs at first (I had one too), these guys go out of their way to get those kids into it. No pressure of course, but little things like giving them a jersey and asking them to hold a ball, because you know if they’re holding one they’ll start dribbling it. Then try again next week.

In a world where there’s so much pressure on kids so early, i9 brings back what youth sports should be: FUN.

Thank you Todd Peterson for running such a wonderful organization!

For more information on the program, visit i9Sports.com.

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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.

Are you a member of the Vienna VA Foodies Facebook group? How about the development discussion?

Maybe you’re neither but you’re a local resident who has ideas on how to make the town of Vienna better, well, you have two chances to get face to face with people who want to listen. Back in November, the Town announced it hired a new Economic Development Manager, Natalie Monkou. She’s holding 2 pop-up office hours at Caffe Amouri for anyone to attend:

This Wednesday, January 15 at 11 a.m.
Thursday, January 23 at 6 p.m.

I plan on attending the January 15 one and would love to hear what your suggestions will be. I’d also love to meet some of the people who read this weekly column, so please, come introduce yourself to me if you join in!

The Town has asked people to RSVP, but that’s mostly so they know how many people to anticipate and whether it’s a mix of residents or business owners. I think a mix of both is necessary in helping to shape the future of the town.

What do you think the town needs most?

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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.

New year, new goals.

If your goals include more experiences with your kids, we have some great local sporting teams that won’t break the bank but will get you to see something new. If you’re a college sports fan or even just want to go to a high school game, there are plenty of choices to take your little one to. Make sure you sign up for emails so you’re aware of when these options take place.

George Mason University Men’s Basketball: “Star Wars Day” on February 15 at 4:30 p.m.

Through the Super Reader program, if kids read 2 books, they can claim free tickets to the game. For the adults attending, the program also offers discounted tickets once you register the kids. They get to walk onto the court before the start of the game and they get a free green cape (that reads Virginia529). Parking is free.

Washington Wizards Game: Kids Day is January 12

Lots of pre-game activities for kids beginning at 10:30 a.m., which include LEGO activations, face painters, balloon artists, games and the mascot G-Wiz appearance. There’s a CertifiKID deal that includes a t-shirt.

Harlem Globetrotters at EagleBank or CapitalOne, March 20-21

Another CertifiKID deal for tickets to all 3 shows, and includes 35% off tickets.

Another option is to check out the local high school teams. Each sport has their scheduled published online so you can pick the one that best fits your schedule. Here’s the Madison Basketball Schedule and the Marshall Basketball Schedule. Both will likely have a small admission fee.

You can also check sites like Groupon for D.C. sporting outings as well.

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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.

Two days left in this decade!

I usually let my kids watch a YouTube video of fireworks while drinking sparkling apple cider, then put them to bed at their normal time, but if you’re a parent who is more fun than I am, here are some suggestions on how to ring in the new year with your family. Some local places around town have various versions of celebrations:

Jammin Java: 13th Annual Rocknoceros New Years Eve Party at 2 p.m. on December 31 (the 11 a.m. show is already sold out). The band will do a countdown and an apple juice toast.

Caboose Tavern: Family Friendly Celebration with a ball drop at 9 p.m. and live music. Event starts at 7 p.m. Kids 2-12 drink free all night. They’ll also have crafts for the kids.

McLean Bible Church, The Rock NYE 2020: Event is for 6-12th graders from 9 p.m. on. Liability forms and information can be found online.

Watch Night, Falls Church City: Huge party along West Broad Street starting at 7 p.m., which includes live music, karaoke, popcorn, hot chocolate, coup, bungee jump, Velcro wall, log jam, bounce house for kids and a slide, and so much more.

Busy Bees New Year’s Party (Falls Church Location): Live band, Chick-fil-A food and an apple cider toast! From 3-5 p.m. for $30/child.

Dave & Busters (Fairfax) New Years Eve Party: Starts at 5 p.m. with 2 packages available to help with the video ball drop!

Children’s Science Center Lab (Fairfax): New Year’s Eve around the world, ring in 2020 with STEM style noisemakers and confetti throwers. Choose a 2-hour window (10 a.m.-12 p.m., 1-3 p.m., 3:30-5:30 p.m.).

Once Upon A Dream (Vienna): Decorate a 2020 party hat at 11 a.m. on December 31 or join the New Year Party at 11 a.m. on the January 1, with a countdown at noon with an apple cider toast, Princess visit and costume party.

No matter how you choose to celebrate — wishing you a very happy New Year!

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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.

I want to wish each of you a Happy Holiday season. May the coming days bring you peace, love and joy and may you be surrounded by happiness heading into 2020!

I have loved every time someone has told me in person they read this column. If you like it, please let me know! If you want a specific topic addressed, let me know! I’m open to suggestions and content to keep you informed and involved!

A quick note about the upcoming start to a new decade.

Real estate is local, but it’s also very cyclical. Normally the market goes quiet during the winter months, with a large increase in activity around March, which sustains through June. July and August are usually quiet months again, followed by activity in September and October before going quiet again into November.

Not this year!

Our inventory shortage has been ongoing for so long now, paired with low interest rates again (under 4%!), that the market hasn’t really stopped. Good homes come on the market and they’re being snatched up quickly! Some lingering inventory obviously remains, but the Vienna and McLean markets are still active.

This leads me to my predictions heading into January. The market will pop early. It will start with a bang and it’ll probably keep going that way making for an early “Spring Market.” Don’t wait for April or May, unless you have to. There are creative ways to stay in your home if you need to for the school year. Buyers are ready!

In November in 22180 (mostly town of Vienna), 1/3 of the sold homes went under contract in a week, which resulted in an increase in average sale price of 7%. In 22182, the numbers were a little larger but the average sale price was also up 17% from this time last year. In McLean, prices increased 19% in 22101 and 47% in 22102 (I have a degree in Statistics, if you want to get into these numbers more, let’s talk!). The homes in 22102 span a great deal in price, which can cause this large increase. I can attribute almost all of the data points to the fact that active inventory is down by double digit percentages across the board.

If you’re sitting on a home to sell, stop waiting!

If you have new years resolution to change where you live, there’s no time like the present.

Now that I’ve used too many exclamation points (I’m really excited for winter break apparently), again, Happy Holidays!

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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.

Working parents, parents with daytime commitments, or just parents who have stuff to DO!

There’s nothing worse than a sick kid and having to negotiate who has a busier day and the stress it can take on people trying to figure out a plan. My husband and I have even traded half days to make things work… but there’s no backup option for a sick kid. However, since we’re headed into winter in Fairfax County it inevitably means snow days, delays and more stress of navigating child care on a whim, I thought it might be useful to have a list of backup child care options on snow days.

Luckily for those of you who need to get the kids into somewhere safe that’ll also keep them happy, there are backup childcare options on the days where schools are closed. When schools are closed, so is SACC (unlike teacher work days where they stay open all day). If you’re looking for a daytime, drop in option for snow day care, consider one of the following options.

Remember you may need to call and/or email for information as this isn’t always listed on their websites.

I’ve reached out to a few other locations to confirm if they provide options but haven’t heard back in time to add them to this publication. If you run a snow day program, please email me or leave a comment below!

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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.

McLean and Vienna are not HOA heavy areas, in my opinion, as compared to areas out in Loudoun County.

We have a short list of neighborhoods that have mandatory participation, which is the main difference between a civic association and an HOA. An HOA has a mandatory fee you have to pay if you buy a property within that area, which also means you have to obey the rules and regulations of that neighborhood. A civic association may also have a fee, but it’s strictly optional if you want to participate, and usually it’s very small.

Now some people like the rules of an HOA so they can keep the neighborhood looking “clean,” for example if a neighbor’s lawn gets too long, or there’s a bunch of trash/old cars in a yard. However, the downsides to an HOA are that any changes you want to make on the outside require approval (usually). Adding a shed, renovations, a pool, etc. all require review and approval. With a civic association, you can usually do whatever you want and only have to adhere to Fairfax County regulations.

The other big thing to know is that when you’re buying or selling homes within an HOA community, the seller is required to provide a copy of all of the bylaws, budget, meeting notes, etc. to a purchaser who has a 3 day review period, during which they can void for any reason.

Want chickens and the HOA documents say no? Void the contract without a penalty. A civic association is not subject to this 3 day period since participation is optional. However, it still might be nice to know what the civic association does. It might give insight into neighborhood parties, events, resources, etc.

Some example of civic associations are:

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