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Pet of the Week: Lilllian

Becky's Pet Care

Meet Lillian, a black Labrador Retriever puppy who is available for adoption locally.

Here is what Lillian has to say about herself:

I am a young girl at just about 8 weeks and I current weigh 7 pounds. I am looking for a furever family who would like to bring my fluffy self home.

It would be great if my new family would take me on walks or let me run around in a fenced in yard. I would also love some toys to play with and a nice warm bed to sleep on if its not too much to ask.

As I am still a young girl I will likely do well in just about any type of home, be it as an only child or as a canine sibling to human, canine, and maybe even kitty siblings.

Are you and Lillian 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.

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Reston Real Estate: Bentana Woods

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.

Bentana Woods is one of those Reston neighborhoods that makes you forget you live in a bustling urban area.

Built in1972 by Bennett of Virginia, this community is located in the Tall Oaks section of Reston, Virginia — about 1 mile from the Wiehle Metro Station, a quick walk into Lake Fairfax Park and short drive to Reston Town Center or Lake Anne Plaza. The location is fantastic, which makes the fact that these townhouses are charming and well-designed even better.

Bentana Woods is actually two separate clusters — Bentana Woods Cluster has 48 homes while Bentana Woods West has 108 homes. More than 50% of the neighborhood lands are common areas with open grass, tot lots and stands of trees — trees that the National Wildlife Federation has certified as a Backyard Wildlife Habitat.

The townhomes feature 3 to 4 bedrooms with about 1,700 square feet of living space.

It will be interesting to see the new construction come up in the location of the old Tall Oaks Shopping Center. I think it will bring some positive exposure to this wonderful neighborhood.

If you want to be close to the action, but feel like you’re living in a National park, Bentana Woods is the Reston neighborhood for you!

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Pet of the Week: Bella

Becky's Pet Care

Meet Bella, a female Boxer who is available for adoption locally.

Here is what her friends at Boxer Rescue and Adoption have to say about her:

Bella is a sweet, quiet, well behaved Boxer. She prefers a home that crowns her Queen, where she won’t have to share your attention with any other pet.

She is a very easy keeper and a love of a girl. She is housebroken, pleasant and quiet. Bella would love a home of her very own.

Are you and Bella 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.

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Reston Real Estate: Pharmacy Icons


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.

In May of 1966 when the Lake Anne Village Center was dedicated it was like a scene out of “Mad Men” with its modern architecture and edgy hip vibe.

The Plaza architects, Whittlesey & Conklin hired a graphics design firm out of New York, Chermayeff and Geismer, (now Chermayeff, Geismar & Haviv) to create an advertising package for the Plaza storefronts. While the goal was advertising, the results spoke of the pop art aesthetic of the time and reflected Bob Simons wish for whimsical artwork on the Plaza.

Sadly, most of the icons have been lost to time, or have been modified to reflect the current business. The Reston’s Used Book Shop pillar sign was originally a giant barber pole! The last of the icons resided on Lakeside Pharmacy, in business for 44 years before owner Larry Cohen retired.

When two new businesses moved into the old Pharmacy space a new store front was created to provide more glass storefront. The icons were donated to the Reston Historic Trust & Museum in order to preserve them. The icons have been cleaned up, preserved and are ready to be installed on the Plaza as part of a permanent exhibit that highlights the history of the Plaza.

The museum is doing a fund raiser to pay for the permanent installation of the icon exhibit. The exhibit will be installed in the wide pass-through that leads up to Chimney House, next to Singh Thai.

The goal is to raise $15,000; they’ve got a ways to go but are hopeful that with help from the community they can get there soon. I hope you’ll consider a contribution to preserve a piece of our history.

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Reno of the Month: Free Estimates — What Every Reston Homeowner Should Know

By Nicola Caul Shelley, Synergy Design & Construction

With so many approaches to remodeling, it can be confusing for homeowners to know not only where to start but also what to expect in the process.

Sometimes, we receive calls asking for “free estimates” straight away. There are a number of reasons why the contractors you speak to may not offer free estimates for an extensive remodel, and here’s why:

  • It’s impossible for any contractor to know how much your final project is going to cost without seeing your space, knowing the level of finishes you want and doing due diligence up front. Many initial “free estimates” are merely top-of-the-head thinking based on standard finishes without knowing what’s going on behind your walls or under your floor. This can lead to sticker shock down the line when what you really wanted and the number your contractor initially gave you don’t match up.
  • Great design takes time and money. Measuring, conceptual plans, elevations, design options and revisions all add up. Just as you wouldn’t expect free website design or free consulting services, remodelers provide professional Architectural and Interior Design services that cost money.
  • Going through a detailed design process first allows you to get to a more realistic budget/cost which will save you money in the long run. No-one wants to be continuously change ordered once the Kitchen has been demolished and you have no choice but to pay more to get the project done. A detailed design process up front stops those “wasn’t expecting that” moments and blown budgets once demolition starts.

This month’s renovation features the transformation of the Main level of a contemporary lakefront home right here in Reston. As with all of our clients, we partnered together to go through a detailed design process at the beginning of the project to come up with a design that perfectly matched the homeowner’s wish list.

In addition to the kitchen, butler’s pantry and family room, we remodeled the laundry room and mudroom into functional spaces for a busy sports-enthused family and created a much more modern feel to the entire main level more in keeping with the contemporary architecture of this beautiful home.

Learn more about our approach and listen to our clients tell you in their own words Why Us. Ready to take the next step in your remodel? We’re always happy to hear from you and discuss your project. Get in touch!

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Legal Insider: Early Retirement for Federal Employees

This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Northern Virginia that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement and private sector employee matters.

By Kimberly H. Berry, Esq.

The Federal workforce is presently undergoing significant changes in size and scope.

In some instances, this has led to the Federal government providing incentives for Federal employees to retire early. Federal agencies that are undergoing substantial organizational changes such as reorganization, reduction in force, reshaping or downsizing can be given the option to offer federal employees voluntary early retirement based on the Voluntary Early Retirement Authority (VERA). OPM provides guidance on VERA here.

The purpose of VERA is to help agencies complete the necessary organizational change with minimal disruption to the workforce and make it possible for federal employees to receive an immediate annuity payment years before they would be eligible.

The voluntary early retirement provisions are the same under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS).

Requirements for Early Retirement

In order to be eligible to retire under VERA, a federal employee must usually meet the following requirements:

  •  Meet the VERA minimum age and service requirements set by statutes in the U.S. Code for CSRS and FERS employees (i.e., the employee has completed at least 20 years of creditable service and is at least 50 years of age or has completed at least 25 years of creditable service regardless of age).
  • Have been continuously employed by the agency for at least 31 days before the date that the agency initially requested the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) approval of VERA.
  • Hold a position that is not a time-limited appointment.
  • Have not received a final removal decision based upon misconduct or unacceptable performance.
  • Hold a position covered by the agency’s VERA authority or program.
  • Retire under the VERA option during the agency’s VERA acceptance period.

It is very important for federal employees considering a VERA offer or whether one is available to seek the advice of an attorney regarding their retirement issues prior to initiating the VERA process.

Our law firm represents federal employees that are considering early retirement and in other federal retirement matters.

Conclusion

If you are in need of federal employee retirement law representation, please contact our office at 703-668-0070 or through our contact page to schedule a consultation. Please also visit and like us on Facebook or Twitter.

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Reston Real Estate: Just Listed

This is a sponsored post by Eve Thompson of Reston Real Estate.

Inventory is holding steady with new homes coming on the market at about the same rate that they’re going under contract.

There are currently 117 houses on the market in Reston which is about 2 months’ worth of inventory. Spring is just around the corner and should bring with it a lot of new housing inventory, but will also bring out more buyers.

In my last Just Listed Sold blog post a reader commented that they thought the prices indicated a “Bubble” in the housing market — the unspoken threat being that surely a “burst” would soon to follow.

The market is moving at a pretty brisk pace but prices are not escalating at a rapid rate. Home value appreciation in Reston last year was at right around 5% which is slightly ahead of the historical norm of 4% for housing as an asset.

This better than average gain is offset by the fact that the Reston market has been a little flat for the past several years and has only recently begun to perk up, in part fueled by new construction around the metro. I don’t think there’s any indication of a housing market “Bubble.”

Here are a few of the new houses to hit the market in the past week:

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Pet of the Week: Penguin

Becky's Pet Care

Meet Penguin, a black and white/tuxedo male kitten available for adoption locally.

Here is what his friends at Fancy Cats Rescue Team have to say about him:

Penguin is an energetic cat who likes to climb, run around, play with toys, and give kisses. Unlike most cats, he is curious about water.

He will stick his paws on the humidifier and relish the steam, and he will keep you company as you brush your teeth.

Penguin loves to have his tummy rubbed and his chest scratched, and he purrs happily when he is petted. Penguin gets along well with other cats, but he would also be happy to have lots of attention from a human companion.

Are you and Penguin 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.

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Reston Real Estate: Finding the Diamond in the Rough

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.

You don’t have to be a real estate investor or a house flipper to share in the benefits of buying a fixer-upper.

I encourage all of my buyers to consider houses that will require some work to get them back into pristine shape because I know it represents the very best opportunity for gaining equity quickly.

What qualifies a house as a good fixer-upper target?

Location — you want the worst house in the best neighborhood. The old real estate adage is true, location, location, location. It’s the only thing about your house that you can never change is where it sits.

If you’re going to buy a fixer-upper look for one in a great neighborhood; you’ll benefit from the higher values of your neighbor’s homes and protect your ongoing investment as you bring your property up to snuff.

Develop an eye for cosmetic problems and be suspicious of potential structural problems. Old wall-paper, peeling paint, tons of stuff piled in the yard? These are relatively easy fixes, even having to replace old windows or an HVAC aren’t difficult things to do with the right expertise but, a structural problem can be serious and it can be seriously expensive to correct.

Arm yourself with knowledge by assembling a good team of subject area experts, inspectors and contractors and in Reston be sure you understand the design covenants of the property you’re considering — knowing what you’re getting into will protect you from costly errors down the road.

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Reston Real Estate: Just Sold

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’s housing inventory is holding steady at 117 properties. The past 30 days saw a drop in the number of settlements which is consistent with the holiday season just past.

What is really interesting is looking at the properties in a “Pending” status. These are homes that have sold in the last 30 days that are making their way through the sales process. What’s interesting about this group of pending properties is their average “Days on Market” is 18 compared to an average of 63 for the houses in a “SOLD” status over the same 30 day period.

What this tells us is that demand is on the increase, good news for those considering listing their homes for sale.

If you are thinking of selling — take these simple steps to shorten your days on the market and maximize your sales price. And don’t forget to go through your pre-listing cleaning checklist.

  • Purge, purge, purge. If it’s not something you’re taking with you to your new home, get rid of it now.
  • Clean, clean, clean. After you get rid of your excess abundance, make it clean as you can. Clean it from top to bottom — light switches, light fixtures, door jams, base boards. It’s the least expensive thing a home seller can do to help get their home sold.
  • Get to the right price. Even in a fast moving market you have to be at the right price. Every home on the market has a sweet spot that says “this is the right price for the condition and updates of this home.” Don’t leave a lot of room in your price; it just encourages buyers to wait.

Here are a few of the houses that sold this past week in Reston:

11520 Underoak Court
3 BR/2.5 BA
List Price: $399,000
Sold Price: $405,000

 

 

2158 Golf Course Drive
3 BR/3.5 BA
List Price: $475,000
Sold Price: $475,000

 

 

1662 Valencia Way
3 BR/3.5 BA
List Price: $420,000
Sold Price: $410,000

 

 

1863 Michael Faraday Drive
3 BR/2.5 BA
List Price: $686,421
Sold Price: $675,000

 

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Legal Insider: Top Reasons for Clearance Denial in 2018

This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Northern Virginia that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement and private sector employee matters.

By John V. Berry, Esq.

We represent security clearance holders and applicants so every few years, we look back on the trends of what security concerns most often lead to the loss (or potential loss) of a security clearance. This year we thought we would do the same. Overall, not much has changed.

2018 Grounds for Loss of Security Clearance

There are 13 security concerns that can lead to the loss of a security clearance, which is listed in Security Executive Agent Directive 4 (SEAD 4). These concerns range from foreign influence to financial issues and numerous other issues in between. A review of publicly available security clearance cases was conducted by Marko Hakamaa of ClearanceJobs.com, which provided the breakdown of issues that resulted in initial security clearance denials.

Financial Issues Remain the Number 1 Concern

From the report, it is fairly clear that the number 1 issue of concern for security clearance holders remains Financial Considerations under Guideline F. While this Guideline can cover many areas related to financial responsibility, we see that it most often comes up in the context of a credit report which shows major unresolved debts or when an individual’s tax payments or filings are not timely.

Often for major debts the government is concerned that this could leave an individual subject to potential coercion. For issues related to taxes, the issue is the non-compliance of the individual with tax laws.

General Misconduct Comes in Second

The second most significant security concern from this report shows that Guideline E, Personal Conduct is the next most common clearance issue. Guideline E is a general security concern which can practically cover any type of bad conduct. Most typically, however, it often comes up in the context of illegal drug use, an arrest, a record of bad employment or lying on security clearance forms.

Foreign Influence is Ranked Third

The third most common basis for losing a security clearance was foreign influence, under Guideline B. This issue most commonly comes up when an individual with a security clearance (or who is seeking one) has relatives or property in another country.

The major concern of the government is that an individual may have relatives in another country that work for that government or who could be used as pawns to gather information from the clearance holder or applicant. The United States also treats clearance holders and seekers whose relatives are from allied countries (e.g., the United Kingdom, France, etc.) much better than those from less cooperative countries, like China or Russia.

The rest of the 2018 breakdown of security concerns is included in this report. We represent individuals with these types of security clearance appeals and there are often mitigating factors which can result in a favorable adjudication of these types of security clearance issues. The key is to involve counsel experienced in this area of law as soon as possible.

Conclusion

If you are in need of security clearance advice or representation, please contact our office at 703-668-0070 or through our contact page to schedule a consultation. Please also visit and like us on Facebook or Twitter.

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Reston Real Estate: Just Listed

This is a sponsored post by Eve Thompson of Reston Real Estate.

Just because there aren’t a lot of houses (104 active listings), currently on the market doesn’t mean there’s nothing going on in the housing market.

Lots of home owners are preparing their homes for the market and we will start to see a steady increase in listings over the next several weeks. If you’re on the fence about when to list your home for sale here are some things to consider:

  • Buyer demand is high. In my Just Sold blog earlier this week I noted that 10% of the houses sold in the last 30 days sold higher than their list price and without requests for seller paid concessions.
  • Low inventory means there is less competition. Fewer houses for sale will tend to favor the sellers. Not that you can throw anything out there and expect a contract, but well priced, well presented houses are going quickly.
  • If you are a move up buyer now is the time to go — housing prices are predicted to increase 4.8% over the year. If you’re buying a more expensive house you’ll be making a larger down payment and paying higher interest for your mortgage.

Here are some of the new houses on the market this week:

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Pet of the Week: Layla

Becky's Pet Care

Meet Layla, a German shepherd available for adoption locally.

Here is what her friends at Training Rescue Dogs, Inc. have to say about her:

Layla is a very pretty, sweet 4 year old, 50 lbs female German Shepherd.

She loves riding in cars and is a perfect car companion. She also has very nice house manners. She loves to play fetch and has an excellent retrieve.

She knows basic commands and has a near perfect heel on walks. She is a very workable dog, but will need continued training with her new family.

Are you and Layla 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.

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Reston Real Estate: Reston’s Newest Neighborhood


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.

I’ve been working with a buyer that wants new construction which has taken me into Reston’s newest neighborhoods. It’s been fascinating to explore these areas — seeing the new bump up against the old and start to get of sense of what could emerge.

Reston’s most recent round of residential construction outside of Reston Town Center was 2005/2006 when the Mercer Building and Carlton House were built. All of the construction since that time has been luxury apartments.

The Sekas Homes project, called Sunrise Square has a prime location within half a mile of the current and future Metro stops. The project includes a 10 unit condo building and 34 townhouses.

The condo’s which are nearly sold out are light and roomy with beautiful finishes, many of them have views of Reston National golf course. The condos also come with enormous temperature controlled storage rooms located in the basement of the building which makes them great for empty nesters that haven’t quite purged off all of their old life possessions; or anyone with hobbies and gear!

The garage townhouses come with a range of options but the baseline models include:

  • Outdoor living on two levels with a main level deck and rooftop terrace overlooking Reston
  • 9′ ceilings throughout
  • 3-4 bedrooms and 4.5 baths
  • Gourmet kitchen with high-end appliances
  • Access to all of Reston’s amenities

For those worried about the vertical nature of townhouse living there is a floorplan that includes an optional elevator. Other options include outdoor fireplace for the rooftop terrace.

Sekas Homes is an award winning custom home builder with a reputation for beautiful high quality projects. They’re known for their green building methods and have won awards from the city of Vienna and Fairfax County.

Residents of this new neighborhood are full dues paying members of the Reston Association and have access to all of Reston’s amenities.

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In Focus: Amazon HQ2 and National Landing

Once it was cutting edge; a few decades later, it was obsolete. Now, Crystal City has a golden opportunity to reinvent itself yet again — as National Landing — after Amazon chose the urban neighborhood in Arlington County, as one of its two new headquarters.

“It’s a decision that I think will be a benchmark and a case study for many years to come,” says Uwe Brandes, faculty director of the Georgetown University Master’s program in Urban & Regional Planning.

Here, Brandes talks with Glenn Williamson, faculty director of the Master’s in Real Estate program, about the decision’s impact on Northern Virginia and the entire Washington, D.C. region.

Crystal City developer JBG Smith “had a portfolio of buildings that were obsolete, and they were like ugly ducklings,” Williamson said. “And what they’ve managed to do now with this property is to turn it into a beautiful swan.”

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