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by RestonNow.com February 22, 2018 at 2:45 pm 9 Comments

Voting in the 2018 Reston Association Board of Directors election will run from March 5 through April 2. This week, we will begin posting profiles on each of the candidates.

Featured here is Tammi Petrine, who is facing one Julie Bitzer for the three-year South Lakes District seat. The profiles are in a Q-and-A format. With the exception of minor formatting edits, profiles are published in unedited form. Each candidate had an opportunity to answer the same questions in their own words. 

How long have you lived in Reston? What brought you here?

In 1976, my family moved here from a beautiful small town in Illinois when my husband took a job with the FDIC.  On previous visits to the DC area, we had discovered Reston and were SOLD immediately on its diversity, beauty and reputation as a planned community.  When we moved here, Lawyers Road to Vienna was part gravel and forded Difficult Run Stream.  South Lakes had not yet been developed, nor had N. Point.  The Dulles tollway did not exist; Rt. #7 and Lawyers were the main access roads to the New Town.  Reston Town Center (RTC) and Metro were but dreams.  We shopped at the cramped Magruder’s grocery in Vienna, an iconic Washington institution with an international clientele – diversity in Technicolor!  Thriving though the years is the activist, pioneering spirit of Reston, where all are welcomed and robust opinions are expected.  But where we once led the way as the premiere planned community in the world, today we are fighting to keep the character of our unique community alive.

What inspired you to run for the board?

During our 42 years in Reston, I have participated in a variety of community organizations, but became intensely interested in RA when the 2013 Lake Anne land swap occurred.  I was alarmed at irregularities that occurred during that process and later became involved in the debate over RA’s purchase of Tetra.  Looking at both Tetra’s run-down condition and the property’s limitations, I knew instantly it was wildly overpriced.  When the referendum to purchase passed by a narrow margin, I vowed to get to the bottom of how RA members were so misled.  Curious others, also concerned with the radical transformation of our planned community, conducted successful campaigns to be elected to the board.  When two directors resigned this year, two very active community volunteers were appointed.  This allowed a strong new board majority to closely examine RA internal processes.  When the recent independent Callaghan/Gallagher exposé on Tetra was presented, I knew we could not afford to backslide into a situation where special interests could manipulate RA decisions over the well-being of all.  An aging community has many challenges, but our financial and ethical integrity is paramount to serving our membership well over the long term.

What are three of the biggest concerns you have for Reston?

  1. Urbanization: Bob Simon’s precious 7 founding principles  are disappearing as development springs up in the corridor and RTC.  The vast majority of Restonians object to recent densification without accompanying infrastructure in these areas. Livability in Reston is endangered, but Fairfax Co. officials are tone deaf to community frustration. A functioning, inclusive suburban planned community is our overwhelming preference.  Every day we worry ‘What is next?’
  2. Communication: Understanding who controls what in Reston is frustrating!  Decoding the functions of organizations is tricky, as many overlap or sound similar. Even worse, in a rapidly changing Reston, public lack of awareness advantages developer interests.  While RA and its community partners desperately seek to facilitate understanding, no way exists to communicate efficiently, if members do not sign up for newsletters or critical announcements.  People can empower themselves by providing email addresses to organizations who care and are working hard to serve.
  3. Aging Community Assets:  RA must be disciplined in allocating limited resources for upkeep of and accessibility to our commonly owned amenities: pools, courts, fields and trails, etc.  RA’s covenants must be applied consistently to protect the value of all members’ property.

What do you hope to accomplish by being on the board?

Prime goals are:

  • Promote RA as the representative of 22,000+ households, each of which has a stake in influencing future development in Reston.  Collectively, members represent a significant political force that is routinely ignored by Fairfax Co., as it seeks to capitalize on Reston’s fine reputation.  However, unrestrained densification without limits and supporting infrastructure threaten our community’s flavor and functioning.  We want to remain a welcoming, caring, diverse planned community!  OUR taxes pay county bills; we want OUR judgments to determine OUR future.
  • Continue the complete assessment of all RA departments, processes, programs, projects and internal controls.  One assumes, as a 52 year old organization, RA has sophisticated management systems in place.  Surprisingly, StoneTurn’s 2017 review proved otherwise.  The current new board led by President Hebert & new treasurer Ganesan have accomplished much in a short time; I support the completion of this huge, critical job.
  • Promote sound fiscal management of RA.  Although RA cannot be all things to all people, we can chart a holistic analysis of Reston’s many working parts.  We should identify what other entities can fill some of the voids impossible for RA to undertake.  We can and should coordinate with other resources to best serve our members.

How will your personal or professional experience help you in your role with RA?

Reston is a complex puzzle and our history is not always pretty.  For the past 10 years, I have attended 100’s of meetings.  As a Reston Citizens Association (not RA!) board member and Co-Chair of Reston 20/20, I have learned about Fairfax County’s Small Tax District #5 (aka Reston Community Center) and RA.  At the county level, I have interacted with planners or chiefs in most departments.  I have been an outspoken advocate for the rights of Restonians in many issues:

  • The Make Reston a Town movement (2007)
  • Reston Master Planning including subsequent, continuous rapid-fire zoning amendments that change the density/character of Reston (2009 – present)
  • The fight to save Reston National Golf Course (2012)
  • Library system degradation (2012 – present)
  • Lake Anne land swap (2013)
  • Indoor Rec center at Baron Cameron Park (2013)
  • Lake Anne Fellowship House redevelopment (2013)
  • Tetra/Lake House (2015 – 2018)
  • Tall Oaks Shopping Center (2016)
  • St. John’s Wood (2016)
  • Reston Town Center paid parking (2017)
  • Kensington Assisted Living outside of Transit Station Area boundaries (2017 – present)
  • Hidden Creek Golf Course preservation pursuant to developer purchase (2017 – present)
  • Metro and gridlock (sigh…)

I have been privileged to serve as a member of Reston’s diverse, committed volunteer army and hope to use my knowledge and love of Reston to carry on in service to the residents of RA’s South Lakes District.

Click here to view video statements or read candidate statements submitted to RA. 

Photo by Reston Association

by RestonNow.com February 22, 2018 at 2:30 pm 5 Comments

Voting in the 2018 Reston Association Board of Directors election will run from March 5 through April 2. This week, we will begin posting profiles on each of the candidates.

Featured here is Julie Bitzer, who is facing one other candidate for the three-year South Lakes District seat. The profiles are in a Q-and-A format. With the exception of minor formatting edits, profiles are published in unedited form. Each candidate had an opportunity to answer the same questions in their own words. 

How long have you lived in Reston? What brought you here?

January 1980, 38 years ago – Reston just felt right, my “magical Reston” the term I use with family, friends, and co-workers.  And it was close to work in Tysons. A Hunters Woods Deepwood townhome was affordable as a starter home.  Fourteen years later, I moved to my current home of 24 years off the 14th hole of Reston National Golf Course.  

What inspired you to run for the board?

Reston had everything I wanted in a forever home. I had embraced the Bob Simon vision actualized through “Live, Work, Play” and the diversity of Restonians in age, culture, values and economics. I had open natural space and lakes, protected and accessible. I had village centers populated by small businesses within walking and biking distance. And I had a golf course threatened by developers where letting one open space slip away would open the door to more onslaughts and increased population density without promised infrastructure.

So, I put my own skin in the game as South Lakes District Director. Three years later, with still more to be done –  I run to continue working for “us”.

Having active involvement as board liaison on three RA committees –  Design Review Board, Covenants, and Parks & Recreation Advisory, I know where and how we can improve our member service. I’ve supported members navigating the RA process for covenants and design review, clusters’ property & trail access, boat & lake policy, and even commercial redevelopment. One “fight” as director was to ensure the County was held accountable for stream restoration off South Lakes – a long-neglected erosion and safety issue.  Enduring the loss of Tall Oaks Village Center to residential development, I will fight to preserve our South Lakes Village Center, proactively working with RA’s Land Use Development team.

What are three of the biggest concerns you have for Reston?

We stand to lose our sense of community, the very spirit and essence of the Reston vision as we face external forces of growth and fiscal assessment pressure. How can we effectively reach both old and new members, and unite?

RA must deliver a tangible return on our assessment dollars, reflective of our needs and wants. We must continue to seek more efficient and optimal methods to deliver value; yet RA expenditure decisions must not be reduced to a purely monetary business case scenario. Facilities and programs supporting our community and shared experiences could be significantly impacted or eliminated depending on the election outcome – such as our neighborhood walkable pools, our camps, Walker Nature Center, and ad hoc programming by which to enjoy Reston’s amenities.  We’re a non-profit, established to provide services that support a fiscally responsible best quality way of life.

I want all voices in our community to be heard and reflected on our RA board.  A board made up of independent and individual thinkers, contributing to open transparent dialog.

What do you hope to accomplish by being on the board?

In our greater community, there are many opportunities to volunteer and serve.  As an elected RA district director, my direct focus has been and will be on RA’s mission as a homeowner’s association, delivering valued, responsive and continually improving service cost-effectively. My priorities are –

#1 – Giving members what they value. From my conversations, it’s often about member service, making it easier to interact with RA – think Covenants, Design Review, pool & tennis passes. It’s about making sure we maintain and improve facilities – think pools/tennis/fields/trails/pavilions. To date, we have addressed facilities on an individual basis – think Hook Road or Pony Barn. We should evaluate our facilities long term future collectively against RA’s changing demographics.  Tackling this comprehensive analysis in phases, we should start with all pools in 2018 as we are faced with decisions on Thoreau pool’s future beyond the 2018 swim season (to repair, replace, some want to close?)

#2 – Continuing partnerships with grass-roots, citizen-led initiatives, lending support and voice where our RA and community interests align and are impacted by County and external forces. This includes organizations like Rescue Reston for open space, Reston Citizens Association and the Coalition for a Planned Reston (CPR) with its focus on population density and infrastructure support.

#3 – Ensuring RA matures its business processes and operations controls to a standard, best practices level that is comparable to an equally-sized commercial business.  

How will your personal or professional experience help you in your role with RA?

I bring four decades of corporate experience in delivering quality solutions, programs and services to the Federal Government. My sales and marketing background provide strategic and tactical skills in identifying and meeting customer requirements.  My professional and graduate education provide expertise in best practices for business operations and controls. My Masters in Landscape Design supports my work with RA’s Design Review Board. Personally, I thrive in and have demonstrable skill in consensus-building, finding the win-win for all parties involved.

Find more information at facebook.com/Julie4RA.

Click here to view video statements or read candidate statements submitted to RA. 

Photo by Reston Association

by RestonNow.com Sponsor February 22, 2018 at 1:30 pm 0

Like most people, you probably have set all sorts of goals for 2018.

Do these goals include: putting a plan in place for who will care for your minor children if you and your spouse passes away? Who will make financial and health care decisions for you if you become incapacitated? Who will receive your property in the event of your death?

If you believe planning for your family’s protection is important, perhaps the most important goal for 2018 should be to create an estate plan.

A basic estate plan typically includes a will or trust, and power of attorney for property management, financial decisions and health care.

Why is an estate plan important? Because if you do not make these decisions yourself they will be made for you by a court.

Why do you need a will? A will accomplishes three main objectives:

  1. To name a guardian for your minor children if both you and your spouse die. What decision could be more important that who will care for your child and manage his or her finances? Enough said.
  2. To name an executor of your estate to collect your assets, pay your debts and distribute your assets to your beneficiaries. The executor is someone you trust that is competent to carry out your wishes when you are gone. If your estate includes a business, your executor can also operate the business until the estate is settled. Without a will, the probate court will appoint an administrator, and the poor soul will have to guess his or her way through probate.
  3. To specify the people or charitable organizations that you want to receive your assets. In the absence of a will, your assets will be divided between your surviving relatives (this includes your spouse, children, step-children, parents and siblings) according to state law. This means the state dictates who will receive your property and in what proportion.

A will also gives you control over when your children will receive your assets.

If you die without a will, a court must appoint and supervise a guardian to manage any property your minor child receives from your estate, retirement account or life insurance policy, until the child turns 18. Wouldn’t you want to prevent the undesirable outcome of your child receiving a lump sum inheritance at age 18?

By setting up a trust in your will to hold your child’s share of the estate you ensure proper management of the funds you worked so hard to leave them until they reach a more mature age.

Why do you need a power of attorney?

What happens if you become incapacitated? Do you want your loved ones to have to ask a judge to name someone to manage your financial affairs? Wouldn’t you rather pre-designate that person and make sure they are prepared for this responsibility?

With a general (or “durable”) power of attorney, you name an agent to manage your property and financial affairs if you become incapacitated. A health care power of attorney appoints an agent to make health care decisions for you if you cannot act for yourself.

A spouse can make decisions regarding jointly held property absent a power of attorney; otherwise a court must appoint a guardian of your property to access your accounts to pay your bills, and make decisions regarding living arrangements and medical care.

Be proactive in 2018. Contact us to set up a consultation and take the necessary steps to protect yourself and your family.

by Fatimah Waseem February 22, 2018 at 1:10 pm 6 Comments

A Herndon man was charged yesterday for having inappropriate sexual relations with a juvenile, according to the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office.

Marvin Ramirez-Ayala, 20, was charged with three counts of sending sexually explicit messages over social media and two counts of sexual assault. The relationship began last summer and only came to light this week, police said.

“There is no indication the suspect was involved with any other juveniles,” according to a statement from the office.

Ramirez-Ayala is being held at the Loudoun County Adult Detention Center on no bond.

Photo via Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office

by Fatimah Waseem February 22, 2018 at 12:30 pm 0

A six-member team from Edlin School beat 43 other teams this week in a national competition where students design an aging-friendly city.

The Future City Competition challenges students from around the country to create a city. This year’s topic pushed students to design a city that helps the elderly remain active, independent and engaged.

More than 40,000 teams from across the country entered in the competition. Students from the Reston school created Halona, a city modeled after Richmond.

The city, also known as the “city of happy fortune,” solved the problem of limited mobility, few independent living options and little access to transit. Students proposed multi-generational housing, a new transit system with foldable seats and ultra-haptic sensors, a passover tram and an adopted senior program, a housing initiative that pairs seniors with college students.

The students’ complete presentation at the competition on Tuesday is below:

Photo via Future City

by Fatimah Waseem February 22, 2018 at 11:30 am 1 Comment

An opening day has been set for Total Wine & More. The beer, wine and spirit purveyor will open on March 15 at 11620 Plaza America, according to the the store’s Facebook page.

The grand opening day will include free wine tastings and opening specials. Details are expected by March 1.

Total Wine & More replaced Staples, which closed in October last year after opening in 2011. The store has other locations in Sterling, Fairfax and McLean.

Photo by Fatimah Waseem

by Del. Ken Plum February 22, 2018 at 10:15 am 18 Comments

This is a commentary from Del. Ken Plum (D-Fairfax), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

“Enough is enough” is a slogan adopted by many advocates for action to end gun violence, but with 290 school shootings in the U.S. since 2013 clearly we are to the point that the shootings that have occurred in schools and numerous locales are more than enough.

Last Wednesday started off as a usual day at the legislature with the added feature that it was Valentine’s Day with lots of red decorations in the hallways and an abundance of chocolate available. It was also the first day of Lent with ashes offered at several nearby churches.

The day took a sharp turn in the late afternoon as the news media brought early reports of another instance of school shootings; this time at a school in Parkland, Florida. The timing was critical in that the General Assembly had over the past several weeks defeated with minimal debate and consideration more than 30 bills intended to reduce gun violence. My bill for universal background checks was among those.

The process for considering these bills was the same for all of them regardless of their approach. In the House the bills were assigned to the Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee and then to a subcommittee on guns composed of six members–four of whom have perfect NRA ratings. The outcome of the hearings is predictable. The advocates make many good and passionate arguments on behalf of common sense gun violence prevention legislation.

The NRA representative states the organization’s opposition along with someone from the Virginia Citizens Defense League with little argument or comments. The vote is always two for and four against. As important as the bills are to many people they are defeated; four members of the House of Delegates with their minds already made up decide for all 100 members of the House. There are few voting records to check because most members never get the opportunity to vote on gun regulation issues.

The strong concern among members of the press and on social media makes it clear that the legislature is going to have to respond to gun violence issues. Unfortunately, the schedule for introducing new bills in this session has passed; otherwise bills would have been introduced in response to the Florida shootings. Legislators would have had to confront the reality that there has been more than enough gun violence.

New York Times article offered some direction as to how legislatures might proceed. An article “How to Reduce Mass Shooting Deaths? Experts Say These Gun Laws Could Help” first appeared on October 5, 2017. It found that there is no way to eliminate the risk of mass shootings, “but there are a handful of policies that could reduce the likelihood of such events or reduce the number of people killed when such shootings do occur.” These include denying purchases by anyone convicted of certain felonies, universal background checks, limiting the sale of certain types of weapons and ammunition, and waiting periods for purchases.

In the next cycle of elections, positions of candidates on gun violence will play an even greater role in who gets elected. If minds of incumbents do not change, voters are likely to change their elected officials. The public has had more than enough.

by Fatimah Waseem February 22, 2018 at 9:00 am 0

Meet Reston Association Candidates Next week – There are 13 candidates running for seats on RA’s Board of Directors. Check out three opportunities to meet them. [Reston Today]

Jumping Off Ship – John Jumper is retiring from the board of directors of Leidos. The company plans to move its headquarters to a future trophy tower in Reston Town Center. [Washington Business Journal]

Vote on Renaissance Centro Project Expected Tonight – The county’s Planning Commission will vote on the Renaissance Centro project tonight. The proposal calls for replacing offices on Old Reston Avenue with 20-story condos. [Reston Now]

Enjoy “Expressions of the Soul” Today — eMotion, a local dance group with dancers ranging from ages eight to 65, will performance today at Reston Community Center Hunters Woods at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20. [Reston Community Center]

by Fatimah Waseem February 21, 2018 at 3:45 pm 13 Comments

Plans to replace an outdated fire station on 1820 Wiehle Avenue are in-the-works in order to meet increasing demands fueled by population growth in Reston.

The $13 million project calls for replacing Reston Fire and Rescue Station 25, which was built in 1972 and last upgraded in 1986, with a two-story station more than double the size of the current site.

The new 17,150-square-foot station will include four bays with a “contemporary look to compliment the urban feel of Reston Town Center,” according to plans submitted to the county this month.

The current 7,750-square-foot fire station is “grossly undersized” with only two-and-a-half bays, leaving little room for storing equipment and managing additional responders and units. Service demands are also expected to increase as construction and residential development rapidly expands in the immediate area, according to the plans.

If approved by the county, construction is expected to begin in the summer of 2019 and be completed by early spring of 2021.

Lisa Goddard, a project manager for the Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Service, said the transition from a one-story to two-story building was well-received by the community at a Reston Planning and Zoning Committee meeting earlier this week.

“It will anticipate the growth for the Reston area,” Goddard told Reston Now. “And that’s the big concern given how Reston is growing so much.”

The new station will also include space for programming on the second floor, along with administrative offices, a dayroom, kitchen, storage and bunk rooms.

Expected construction costs are not available because the project is still in the design phase, Goddard said. Roughly $13 million has been allocated. The fire station is one of five stations slated for upgrades under a bond referendum in 2015.

During the course of the project, the fire station’s operations will temporarily move to 1800 Cameron Glen Drive.

Photos via handout

Pet of the Week: Buff

by RestonNow.com Sponsor February 21, 2018 at 1:45 pm 4 Comments

Meet Buff, a Retriever mix puppy available for adoption locally.

Here is what his friends at Safe Haven Puppy Rescue have to say about him:

This beautiful boy is Buff, a terrific retriever mix (we think lab and golden both) weighing in at about 25 pounds as he approaches six months old.

He’s a sweet, affectionate guy who would like nothing better than a family of his own so he can share his oversize store of love. He’s great with other dogs and was so cooperative for his photo session as you can clearly see in the pictures.

This boy is a very nice blend of friendly affection and normal puppy playfulness and will be great company for his people. Precious dogs like Buff go fast, so please send your application on in pronto so you don’t miss out.

He is up to date on all shots and dewormings, has been neutered and carries an adoption fee of $350 which includes his micro chip. This extremely friendly fella is going to bring lots of joy to some lucky adopters, so don’t delay,

Are you and Buff a match? If so, let us know and our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, will send you some treats and prizes.

Want your pet to be considered for the Reston Pet of the Week?

Email [email protected] with a 2-3 paragraph bio and at least 3-4 horizontally-oriented photos of your pet. Each week’s winner receives a sample of dog or cat treats from our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, along with $100 in Becky’s Bucks.

Becky’s Pet Care, the winner of three Angie’s List Super Service Awards and the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters’ 2013 Business of the Year, provides professional dog walking and pet sitting services in Reston and Northern Virginia.

by Fatimah Waseem February 21, 2018 at 1:05 pm 162 Comments

Roughly 350 students at South Lakes High School took part in a walkout at noon today to remember the 17 people killed last week at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Students left the school and stood outside for 17 minutes before returning for class or lunch, school officials said.

A similar walkout happened at Langston Hughes Middle School today. Around 250 students participated in that event.

“I am proud of how the students conducted themselves, including a moment of silence that was very moving,” said SLHS Principal Kim Retzer in a statement.

Here’s more from Retzer:

FCPS respects the rights of our students to engage in peaceful protest and express their opinions through speech and other ways as long as it is done respectfully, does not interfere with the rights of others, and does not disrupt learning in the school.   Our school is committed to providing an environment where everyone is treated with respect and encouraged to help others.

Our teachers, administrators and staff continue to reinforce a sense of positive school community and we ask for your partnership in working with your child to discuss meaningful actions that they can take to engage in their community.

Another walkout is planned for National School Walkout Day on March 14. Schools across the country are expected to walk out to demand action on gun violence and school shootings.

Photo via Twitter user @amandayoungg

by Fatimah Waseem February 21, 2018 at 12:00 pm 98 Comments

After reviewing a blistering report about Reston Association’s $2.65 million purchase of the Tetra property, the Board of Directors is mulling next steps.

Controversy surrounding the 2015 purchase, which cost RA nearly double the most recent tax assessment, continues to shadow the board.

In an effort to court closure, At-large Director John Bowman is seeking to involve legal counsel from the state to offer what could be the third review of the purchase. The draft motion will go before the board at their regular meeting at 6:30 p.m.

The proposal comes as two RA members, Moira Callaghan and Jill Gallagher, presented a scathing critique of the purchase in late January. The report flagged concerns about conflicts of interest, inadequate internal controls and limited transparency.

Last year, RA contracted StoneTurn Group to complete a $45,000 review of the purchase. The 30-page independent review included 15 recommendations to avoid a similar situation from happening in the future. In their review, Callaghan and Gallagher contend StoneTurn’s analysis was incomplete and insufficient.

Bowman said taking no further action after the members’ report would be “an avoidance of responsibility.” He also indicated forming a special board committee to review the members’ findings would require considerable board resources. The board may also lack qualifications to complete a review.

Engaging help from the state’s attorney would address “any potential concerns regarding forensic expertise,” Bowman noted.

The motion before the board tomorrow reads:

“Even though we would probably not be advised by the Commonwealth’s Attorney of any action deemed appropriate – we would have referred the matter to a qualified third party; the cost to the Reston Association would be minimal if any; and this Board could close the matter and focus on completing the internal controls.”

How do you hope RA’s board will respond to the report? Respond below.

File photo

by RestonNow.com February 21, 2018 at 10:15 am 6 Comments

After weeks of deferrals, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a plan to bring a 91-unit assisted living facility to 11501 Sunrise Valley Drive yesterday.

The plan by Kensington Senior Development drew vehement opposition from neighboring residents who argued the building was being shoehorned onto a small site. The facility will bring an end to Good Beginnings School, a childcare program currently on the site.

Cathy Hudgins, the supervisor for the Hunter Mill District, said county officials worked with residents and the developer to reach an amicable solution in response to residents’ concerns. She said stakeholder meetings brought about “agreeable solutions” in response to concerns about the height of the building and screening between the facility and the surrounding residential community.

“I appreciate the cooperation of the community as well as the applicant,” Hudgins said.

Rendering via handout

by Fatimah Waseem February 21, 2018 at 9:00 am 10 Comments

Growing pains — Proposals to increase population density have been met by fierce community opposition. A Burke resident fires back, arguing that Reston’s development isn’t finished yet. [Greater Greater Washington]

Forging a new fellowship — Lake Anne Fellowship House could soon be transformed into a new 240-unit apartment building for seniors in need of affordable housing. Plans, which also include 74 townhouses, will go before the Design Review Board on March 19[Reston Association]

Second phase of Loudoun Station begins — Reston-based Comstock is set to begin the $75 million development project as Metro service inches closer. [Washington Business Journal]

Wins in the first regional champion for girls indoor track —  With dominating performances in the sprints and relays, the South Lakes High School girls’ team won the 6A North Region D indoor track and field championship in mid-February. [SLHS]

Photo by Ruth Sievers

by RestonNow.com Sponsor February 20, 2018 at 3:45 pm 4 Comments

This is a sponsored post from Eve Thompson of Reston Real Estate. For a more complete picture of home sales in your neighborhood, contact her on Reston Real Estate.

Reston is one of those places where people buy a home and then live in it for 50 years.

While many houses on the market in Reston have been renovated, at least in the last 15 years, chances are you’ll fall in love with a home that needs some work. Since fixer uppers tend to sell for less than a renovated home, the thought of buying one is attractive.

I help clients work through the pros and cons of buying a fixer upper every day, and here’s what I tell them.

Buying a fixer upper

First, you need to be honest about how much of a project you can take on. If you really don’t have the time or desire to do the work yourself, don’t buy a house based on doing the work yourself. That’s a good way to end up living another 15 years with a kitchen from 1970.

Before you buy, try to get an estimate of how much the renovations will cost you. Talk to friends who have done similar renovations. Or try this free estimator (it’s basic, but it’s a place to start). You may find that they add up to the difference between the fixer upper and a renovated home. Of course, for someone who’d like to have work done exactly how they’d like it, that might not matter.

When to consider a fixer upper

  • You’ve always wanted a specific type of kitchen, bathroom, deck, etc. (maybe you dream of Viking appliances and granite counters). This is a great opportunity to spend a little less on the purchase of your home and funnel that extra money into getting what you really want.
  • When the repairs are actually very superficial. It can be hard to imagine how wonderful your living room is if it’s painted a color you hate or has unappealing wall paper. But paint is a simple fix and it will change the look of your whole house.
  • When the structure is good, and things just need an overhaul. If the kitchen layout works for you and the cabinets are in good condition, getting new appliances, counters and painting is easy… and well worth the effort to freshen the house.
  • If this is your dream house in your dream neighborhood. If you really love this house, then you should live in it!

Know when to walk away (or at least consider it)

There are some fixer upper scenarios that you really shouldn’t take on.

  • A bad roof or ancient heating/air conditioning systems: Both of these are very expensive repairs. If the house you want needs a new ones, negotiate that into your price.
  • Foundation issues:If you’ve got a bad foundation, it is very time consuming to fix it. Your home inspection will turn up any problems and if it does, consider very carefully if you love the house enough to deal with the headache.
  • Old electrical systems: Older homes can have faulty wiring and electrical panels that could pose a risk of electrical fire. Your home inspection will reveal whether this is an issue to consider.

My advice: avoid structural issues that will cause you headaches for years — and may make it difficult to sell your house later. But other than that, if you really are handy or you have a great contractor, fixer uppers are a great investment.

See more at: http://allrestonrealestate.com/blog/#sthash.7Gi37GGz.dpuf

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