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.

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

Welcome to December! It’s time again for holiday light displays! Holiday lights really do make everything look more beautiful, unless you love yourself some tacky lights!

I’m redoing and updating my best holiday light displays list from last year to include some new additions. Make sure you check the hours of these light shows if it’s not just a decorative yard.

Vienna

  • 10203 Lawyers Road — Lawyers is a busy road, so you’ll have to drive slowly because there’s nowhere to pull over, unless you go to the street across from the house (Galloping Way).
  • 10000 Garrett Street — Also on the corner of Lawyers road and Garrett, this a beautiful corner lot with white lights and décor. Very pretty!
  • 117 Hickory Circle SW — This is usually a large draw for animated lights but they’ll be dark in 2019. The front of the house will have some lights and blow ups, but no show this year. Follow them on Facebook.
  • 117 Kingsley Road SE  This location is blow up heaven! They have so many favorites on display including Disney characters, Santa in a sleigh being pulled by his reindeer suspended mid-air above their roof and more. Plenty of street parking so you can easily take a walk by the house.
  • 118 James Drive SW — 12.5 ft tall Christmas Ferris wheel with riders! If you get out of the car, they also have a magic button to start the display. Lights and sounds on 4:30-10:30 p.m.
  • 2438 Cedar Lane  Beautiful and abundant light display, including a dancing tree of lights. No music from what I could tell, but beautiful.
  • 2528 Drexel Street  The Ni Family Light show is one of the hits of Vienna. There’s plenty of street parking to pull over and watch. They have a playlist that accompanies the choreographed light show. Running a new playlist for 2019 including Baby Shark, A Million Dreams from the Greatest Showman, and You’re a Mean One, Mr Grinch. The show runs 5-10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and 5-9:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday.
  • 317 Patrick Street SW — Lots of lights and blow ups. On 5-10 p.m.

Other homes with lights and blow ups: 1419 Cottage Street SW, 1405 Cottage Street SW, 922 Cottage Street SW, 401 Hillcrest Drive SW and 517 Hillcrest Drive SW.

  • 1801 Beulah Road — This house has an amazing front yard that is completely decked out, including a mailbox for “Letters to Santa!” I’m not sure where those letters go, but this Christmas décor is stunning! There’s a pull off and a street across from it (Chestnut Farm Drive) if you want to pull over to take it all in.

Honorable Mention: The Vine Church (2501 Gallows Road) — The Ni Family also helps with this light show, which has over 10,000 pixels (it’s huge!)

McLean

  • 1201 Balls Hill Road — Light show animated with music and blow ups.
  • 7815 Birnam Wood Drive  The show runs 7-9:30 p.m. on weekdays, 6-11 p.m. on weekends. Completely covered in lights, even the lawn has light displays and blow ups.
  • 6530 Heather Brook Court — Show runs from 5 p.m. to midnight daily. There is a start button and a radio station to listen to music while watching the light show. The display includes lights and tons of blow ups.

Remember, don’t go on the lawns! Stay on the sidewalk or the street and enjoy the display safely.

Are there any homes that were missed? Any other neighborhoods in the area worth a visit? If so, leave a comment with details.

Also, don’t forget about the Winter Walk of Lights at Meadowlark Botanical Garden. There’s also the Bull Run Festival of Lights where you can drive through the display.

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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.

So begins the holiday season of 2019.

I’m thankful for the year I’ve had both personally and professionally. I’ve gotten to meet some great new people thanks to this column on Tyson’s Reporter as well as helping 34 families move this year. I am headed to the blistering cold of upstate New York for Thanksgiving, but when we return, I can’t wait to take my kids to some of my favorite events every December.

Here’s a roundup for you to enjoy:

Reston Thanksgiving Parade — Friday, November 29, 11 a.m.
Floats, dancers, antique cars, characters, Santa and Mrs Claus — they hand out bells to everyone before the parade begins, so make sure to get one!

McLean Winterfest Parade — Sunday, December 1, 3:30 p.m.
Food trucks, parade stage and includes Santa on his firetruck.

Church Street Holiday Stroll — Monday, December 2, 6 p.m.
Santa arrives at 6:15 p.m. on his fire truck to help light the Holiday tree on Church Street. Live music, marshmallow roasting and more.

James Madison Tiny Tots Holiday Concert — Thursday, December 5, 7 p.m.
Showtimes also available for 10 a.m. on December 5 and 6. This is a great, family fun activity with carols, characters, the JMHS band and surprise flurry ending. PJs are encouraged on Thursday night!

Merry Mosaic Tree Lighting — Friday, December 6, 5 p.m.
Festive celebration on the green including a Tree lighting ceremony.

Wolf Trap Holiday Sing-A-Long — Saturday, December 7, 4 p.m.
Free concert along with the US Marine Band, local choirs and vocal groups lead a sing-along of Christmas carols and Hanukkah songs. Please bring a donation for Toys for Tots.

The Polar Express – PJ Party — Sunday, December 8, 10 a.m.
Tickets are very limited, so if you can’t get them this year, mark your calendars for next year. There’s one at Mosaic and there’s another at the Tyson’s AMC.

Channukah Celebration — Friday, December 29, 4:30 p.m.
Menorah lighting on the green with the JCC of NoVA, including a sing a long, entertainment, jelly doughnuts and dreidel games.

If you’re new to Vienna or McLean, you may not know that sometime in December you’ll have a rockin’ party in your street with Santa riding on his antique fire truck and the volunteer firefighters from both stations. They break it up by neighborhood, so make sure you check the schedules so you’re not caught off guard like we were the first year we lived in Vienna (I ended up ripping my son from his bath and running like a mad woman outside so he could see it and he has loved it every year since then).

Check the McLean Schedule or the Vienna Schedule.

Wishing you a very happy Thanksgiving and Holiday season!

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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.

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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