Who Are You Hiring to List Your Home?

This picture is not a joke.  It is picture of a local Bristow home, listed with a well known Real Estate Brokerage.  Sadly, it is also a vacant property that this particular brokerage holds as property managers.

Aren’t Property Managers supposed to maintain your property when it’s vacant?  Doesn’t that include mowing the lawn?  This yard and curb look like a chia pet.

When you are looking for a Real Estate Firm to represent you in the sale  of your Bristow-Gainesville-Haymarket home, drive through neighborhoods and pay close attention to how the properties, and real estate signs are maintained.  Are there brochures if there is a brochure box?  Is the lawn mowed?  All of this means even more if you are out of state, or out of the country. 

Know who you are hiring and why.  If you aren’t there to care for your property, and the Brokerage you’ve hired isn’t, it ultimately hurts you.

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Dominion Valley Residents: Mark Your Calendar for Family Fun Night

Residents of Haymarket’s community of Dominion Valley have the opportunity to partake in Family Fun Night, Saturday, August 7th.  Movies will be shown, beginning at dusk, on the driving range.  And there is absolutely no cost.  It’s a free event.

Of course, if you or someone you know has been considering a move to Dominion Valley, give me a call.  I’ve got a great Carriage Home listing in the area that I would love to show them.

HOA’s Are Not Just About Covenants Applications and Appearances

Most communities in the Bristow-Gainesville-Haymarket area have HOAs (Home Owners Associations.)  When  you hear the initials HOA, your mind immediately travels to things covered by covenants.  How tall can my grass get before I have to mow?  What color can I paint my front door?  What kind of deck or fence can I build on my property?  Yes, the HOA does have a say in these things.  It is important to note, however, that HOAs are about more than just covenants applications and appearances.

I live in the community of Braemar in Bristow, VA.  I also have the pleasure of serving on the HOA Board of a Braemar Sub-Association:  Tartan Hills Village.  As a Board Member, I can tell you that safety issues are raised much more frequently that those of appearance or covenants.

In 2007, our Tartan Hills Village HOA, in conjunction with Steve Steven, Transportation Safety Director for Prince William County, remedied a signage deficiency in our community that prevented parking in cul-de-sacs.   Prince William County design guidelines stated that absolutely no parking could occur in cul-de-sacs with islands for reasons of fire safety.  The fire hydrant was at the end of each cul-de-sac and if a cul-de-sac had cars parked around it, a hook & ladder fire truck could not make it to a home.  So in 2007, after two years of County and State review, the signage restricting parking was made more clear.  More clear for those who may not speak English, and more clear for police officers who were the enforcement of unlawful parking.  Braemar, the Master Association of our Sub Association and many others, corrected their signage deficiency for the same reason.  Residents and their guest didn’t understand they were not permitted to park in the cul-de-sacs.  Now, the problem is solved, but the residents are furious.  They feel completely inconvenienced by having to walk ten or twenty yards to a street parking space.  Did I mentions they all have driveways and two car garages?  Yet, when blasting Steve Stevens and the HOA, some of these residents negated their own garages as they were used for storage.  Not the HOA’s or the County’s problem.  If you don’t have enough parking between your two car garage, your two car driveway and the street parking a short distance from your home isn’t cutting it, maybe you live in too small a house, have too much stuff, or live in the wrong neighborhood. 

The complaints were also about how ugly the signs were.  Seriously?  This is your house being saved in a fire we’re talking about here?  And you think the signs are ugly?  You want the HOA to remove them?  Is a stop sign pretty?  Is a traffic light nice to look at?  NO.  They are there for your safety and asking the HOA or the County to remove the signs to suit you is a safety concern.

After Braemar got past the sign issue for the evening, a gentleman was protesting a violation notice he had for improper placement of a basketball hoop.  He said he was submitting an application, as he saw this as his primary sin.  He informed the Board that after he submitted the application, he would be putting the basketball hoop back in its orginal place.  When asked where that was, the gentleman replied, “At the end of our street.”  One brave Braemar Board Member stated quickly why the application would be denied.  “Sir, you do realize that the Board will say no because saying yes is condoning children playing in the street.”  This home owner didn’t get it.  He argued that his street was not busy.  It was a cul-de-sac.  (Oh, here we go again with the cul-de-sacs.)  The Braemar Board Member said it best, “It’s a public street nonetheless and we can’t approve that application.”  The home owner huffed out of the meeting. 

The sense of entitlement of residents in an HOA can run deep.  They seriously believe that HOAs exist solely to enforce beauty or to rule on the side of convenience or need of a resident.  That’s not how it works.  Adhering to safety guidelines is a huge concern to HOAs.  If you don’t like it, and can’t see things from a broader, community perspective, perhaps you need to live on five acres, outside of HOA rule.

Crazy from the Heat in Braemar

Maybe it’s because it’s been bumping up to triple digits this week in Braemar.  The heat is enough to make anyone crazy.  I’m sure I’m not the only one that would like the blame the recent fire set by wandering juveniles on a case of heat-induced wackiness.

Whatever the reason, there my husband and I were driving down Tartan Hills Parkway from Native Rocks, heading to Sudley Manor Drive, when we saw smoke billowing up from the grassy, wooded area to the right of the walking path.   Because there is quite a ditch there, and other cars stopped, we pulled over to see if there had been an accident.  Nope.  There was a fire in the large storm sewer that went between two wooded areas and under Tartan Hills Parkway.  The car that had stopped saw some teenage boys leaving the scene.

Obviously, these kids were up to no good, but seemed to not have the sense the good Lord gave them.  Setting up a campfire on a 90+ degree day in an enclosed area?  No wonder they set it and took off.  They couldn’t breathe and it was hot as hell.

The Nokesville Volunteer Fire Department was called to the scene and made short work of dousing the fire.  My husband, James and another passerby had done their best to stomp out what they could before the fire truck arrived.  James said that sticks and branches were gathered and placed in an area in the middle of the storm sewer.  The “campfire” was about six feet by six feet.  No small job. 

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize how bad this could have turned out if even one ember had blown into the wooded area that runs up next to homes.  Northern Virginia is experiencing a severe drought.  Normally light green grass for this time of year looks scorched and dead as you drive by any landscaping that is not consistently watered.  Trees are having browning and dead leaves.  Property could have been put at risk by this prank.  And the wildlife that lives in the woods and ocassionally travel through the storm sewer could have been injured as well.  (Yes, the images of the forest fire in Bambi will never leave my mind.)

Just another reminder to do two things:  Keep an eye on your kids and teach them the dangers of playing with fire.  This was a minor inconvenience to residents kind enough to stop, and the Nokesville Volunteer Fire Department certainly had better things to do with their time than put an end to a group of juvenilles ill-conceived plan. 

Crazy from the heat indeed.  Got me to thinking back to the days of MTV and missing this character.

Prince William County, VA Back to School Supply Drive

Prince William County, VA Back to School Supply Drive

I know what you’re thinking.  It’s June 21, 2010.  Prince William County Public Schools just let out last Friday, June 18th.  Why in the world is Chris Ann talking about a Back-to-School Supply Drive?

I promise you, it’s not because I have been sniffing glue, or inhaling deeply from the Sharpie markers that I like to use to write on my Short Sale Listing folders.  And I’m not trying to be a summer buzzkill.

Corey Stewart, Chairmen of the Board of County Supervisors, sent out a notification today about summer school supply drives in which his office is participating.  One is the Regional Chamber’s Tools for School and the other is SERVE’s Ready to Learn.  The supplies donated to these programs will go to underprivileged students in Prince William County schools from Kindergarten to 12th Grade.

Deadline to donate is Friday, August 6th.    Drop off the items to Corey Stewart’s office at 1 County Complex Drive, Prince William, VA 22192.

Here’s the list of items that Corey Stewart’s office is collecting.   Please help out if you can.

Backpacks

3-Ring Binders

Tabbed Dividers

Folders with Pockets

Spiral Notebooks

Loose Leaf Notebook Paper

Colored Pencils

Pencil Boxes/Bags

Kleenex

Hand Sanitizer

Marble Composition Books

Blue or Black Pens

No. 2 Pencils

Washable Markers

Crayons

Highlighters

Glue/Glue Sticks

Rounded Scissors

Index Cards

Graph Paper

If you live in the Gainesville, Bristow or Haymarket area and would like a more central drop off point, feel free to drop off your items to my office:  Long & Foster, 7526 Limestone Drive, Gainesville, VA 20155.   Please have items to that location by July 31st.

Where to Live in Western Prince William County, VA: North or South of Route 29?

If you are considering a move to Western Prince William County, VA, you are likely to include the areas of Bristow, Gainesville and Haymarket to your home search.  There is one major road that splits the area in two:  Route 29 going through Gainesville, VA.  Do you want to live north of it?  Or south of it?

This was a question I never considered when moving to Bristow, VA.  I found the home I loved in the community of Braemar.  So without a thought, I landed south of Route 29.  I’ve never had a point of comparision.  However, a client I recently represented sold a townhouse north or Route 29 in Gainesville’s community of Crossroads Village, only to move south of Route 29 to Bristow’s community of KingsbrookeWhen I caught up with after being in her Kingsbrooke home for two months, I asked how she liked life in Kingsbrooke.  Her response surprised me.

She told me that she LOVED living in KingsbrookeMore specifically, she loved living south of Route 29.  She explained that she didn’t have to worry about battling Route 29 traffic (which backs up regularly with rush hour traffic, or weekend concert traffic at Jiffy Lube Live) to go to the grocery store or most of the shops she frequented in Gainesville, which are south of the main road.  As a young, stay-at-home Mom, she is the local errand runner and has noticed her time spent in the car locally has noticeably decreased since moving to Kingsbrooke, thus making her a happier camper. 

This may be something for buyers looking to relocate to Western Prince William County, VA to consider.  If ease of access to local shops and grocery stores is something important to you, living south of Route 29 might be the place to look. Don’t worry.  This leaves many wonderful communities like Kingsbrooke, Braemar,  Morris Farm, Sheffield Manor, and Victory Lakes for you to search…just to name a few.