Veterans Day: Honoring all who serve

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Veterans Day is celebrated on Nov. 11, the same day that World War I ended in 1918. It was originally established as a way to honor the Americans who had served in that war. Today, the holiday serves to honor veterans of all wars who have displayed patriotism and willingness to serve and sacrifice for this country. To recognize and celebrate these brave men and women, there will be plenty of events around the country, especially right here in the nation’s capital. We’re proud to say that our nation’s first responders are among the honorees.

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Michelin Releases DC’s Red Guide and Bib Gourmand List

DC Foodies rejoice: The district has now joined the list of places on the Michelin map and celebrates Bib Gourmand, which is fine dining at a moderate price. Keywords: “At a moderate price.” We’d cheer but we’re already focused on all the amazingness we plan on devouring ASAP.

In our opinion, DC has long been feeding the masses international, world-class deliciousness, but it’s possible that fabulous innovations such as the oh-so-popular Restaurant Weeks that take place seasonally gave a few eateries a leg up on the affordability ladder. And that affordability has been acknowledged with the release of the city’s first ever Michelin Guide (The Red Guide) and with that, the Bib Gourmand list, a rating of the best cheap-eats in the city.

Basically, Bib Gourmand restaurants have been deemed a good value by Michelin inspectors, who frequent them “when dining off the clock,” said a press release. These are restaurants where you can get two courses and a glass of wine or a dessert for $40 or less, not including tax and tip. The inspectors are anonymous, and they handpicked 19 restaurants featuring flavors from Ethiopian to Filipino.

Jose Andres has plenty to be proud of, as four of his restaurants — China Chilcano, Jaleo, Oyamel and Zaytinya — made the cut, as well as district faves Red Hen, Maketto, and Doi Moi. Red Hen seemed thrilled, tweeting @RedHenDC: “Never in our wildest dreams! So thrilled for the many deserving #dcrestaurants recognized by @MichelinGuideDC.”

The popular eatery Bad Saint was also honored, topping off a fantastic year that also included being named the second-best restaurant in the country by Bon Appetit just two months ago in August. “Oh my God! How exciting!” said co-owner Genevieve Villamora of the news. “It’s just really thrilling to be among the recognized restaurants.” Don’t expect much celebrating, though: “I think we’ll just prepare for service as we usually do, maybe have an extra hurrah before we open the door.”

See the full list here, including the restaurants that earned the double honor of also receiving stars!

— McEnearney Associates

Home Advice: Make sure your home is ready for winter

In addition to raking leaves and winterizing your lawn, this is a great time to go through your home maintenance checklist. Minor repairs and preparations can keep your home safe and warm for the upcoming winter months.

Outside

  • Close and drain hose bibs.
  • Rake debris away from side of house and other structures.
  • Clean out gutters, downspout elbows, and check for roof leaks.
  • Check foundation and repair any cracks.
  • Clean around air conditioner compressor.
  • Trim any trees or shrubs that touch house.
  • Inspect and replace weatherstripping; re-caulk if needed.
  • Repair torn screens; inspect and clean storm windows.
  • Clean under decks and porches.
  • Inspect seals and clean out basement window wells.
  • Check external lights, especially by stairs; replace burnt out bulbs.
  • Run all gas-powered lawn equipment until the fuel is gone.
  • Check the dryer vent to make sure it is clear.

Inside

  • Clean and reverse the ceiling fans so the blades push air up instead of down.
  • Replace batteries in the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Test alarms to be sure they are working properly.
  • Replace air filters in furnace.
  • Adjust thermostat settings for fall/winter temperatures.
  • Stock emergency supplies in case the power (and heat) goes out.

Please let me know if you need any contractor referrals for maintenance or other household “To Do” list items. I am there when it counts.

House Advice: 5 Curb Appeal Tips for Fall

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Image credit McEnearney Associates

Fall is here, and as the trees begin shedding their leaves your home becomes more exposed, making its exterior appearance extra important. Whether or not you are thinking of buying or selling a home, these simple tips are sure to make your home look its best this fall season.

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Around Reston: Meet Stonebridge Title’s Marketing Director Tammy Meyer

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Tammy Meyer, Stonebridge Title

Moving to Reston is interviewing members of the community who are a part of small businesses that serve the Reston area. Next up is Tammy Meyer, who serves as the Marketing Director for Stonebridge Title LLC.

Moving to Reston: Tell us a bit about your background and how you got into the industry.

Tammy Meyer: I am the Marketing Director with Stonebridge Title, LLC and have been with the company for almost three years. I guess you could say sales, marketing and the real estate industry is in my blood. My first job was during my senior year in high school when I worked part-time for the Board of Realtors in Newport News, Va., where I grew up. After graduating with a degree in business from Virginia Tech, I came to Northern Virginia and worked in the relocation department for a real estate company. I also have worked for a real estate developer, a mortgage insurance company and a small builder. The industry has been fun as it is always changing, and I’ve met some really great people along the way.

The home buying process can be overwhelming so building trust, educating and guiding our clients through the process is what motivates me. We have a great team at Stonebridge Title and make it our mission to make the process as painless as possible for everyone involved, whether you are the buyer, seller, lender, REALTOR or other interested party.

I also love photography, and you will often see me out photographing real estate listings. Remember that great professional photos will sell your home faster.

In my spare time, my husband and I love traveling and hiking with our 18-month-old black lab, Bodie.

Moving to Reston: What is the biggest misconception the public has about the title industry?

Tammy Meyer: Many people don’t understand exactly what title insurance is or why you need it.

Simply stated, the title to a piece of property is the evidence that the owner is in lawful possession of that property. Title insurance protects real estate owners and lenders against any property loss or damage they might experience because of liens, encumbrances or the defects in the title to the property.

Most people also don’t realize that they — the borrower — have the choice when selecting a title/settlement company. If your lender and/or agent works with a great settlement company that they feel confident, buyers will look to them and trust their recommendation. We see it as a great partnership!

Moving to Reston: What value do you add?

Tammy Meyer: We do mobile settlements throughout Northern Virginia. We always want to make it easy for our clients. We believe in building strong relationships with our clients. Many of our clients have been working with us since the company’s inception in 2002.

I am very actively engaged in networking — I am on the Board and active member of the Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce and co-chair the annual Real Estate mixer. I am also the founder of the networking group, Capital Home Professionals.

Click here for more information about Stonebridge Title LLC.

What agents do behind the scenes

coffee and computerHave you ever wondered what on Earth your real estate agent is doing behind your back?

In the sometimes confusing, occasionally hectic and always stressful world of buying and selling, what are we agents doing behind the scenes?

For every hour an agent spends in your presence, we will spend an average of nine hours out of eyesight working on your behalf. Why? Because agents don’t get paid if they don’t close the deal! Unlike lawyers who bill by the hour, agents won’t receive a penny until (or unless) a sale comes through. It’s all a gamble, in which they could shoot snake eyes and come away empty-handed. This is the business.

So if you’re wondering what agents do to earn their paycheck, here’s a list of things we do when you’re not watching (or should be doing — if they’re not, maybe you need a different agent!).

We do research online. Listings come and go fast in the real estate world, so we check their multiple listing service (MLS) database constantly or else you — our clients — will miss out. We also look into a property’s history to check what it last sold for, what the home previously looked like and what other similar homes in the neighborhood (known as “comps”) are selling for.

We do research in person. Of course, there’s nothing like seeing a house in all its brick-and-mortar glory, which is why most REALTORS worth their salt spend tons of time driving around checking out new listings. A home may look great online, but you’ll never know if the oven door open into the cabinets or the fridge door smashes into the wall unless you’re there in the home.

We attend pitch sessions. Agents don’t spend all their time sizing up homes, as they also spend tons of face time with other pros at pitch sessions. Whether it’s at our office’s weekly business meeting, sending out notifications on our company’s Intranet or hosting Broker’s Opens (when agents hold an open house for other agents to come to in advance of the public open house), we’re all about promoting your home the most amount of people.

We spend our own money on marketing. In addition to not getting paid until a deal is done, selling agents also spend their own money on marketing: magazine and newspaper ads, fliers, hiring a photographer, glossy prints and premium placements on listing sites.

We write up offers and counteroffers. Offers and counteroffers are an extremely important part of the transaction, as they can save or net you thousands of dollars on a sale. Yet getting to the right price requires written offers and counteroffers every step of the way.

We stick around for inspections. You might not be present when it’s inspection time, but a good agent will be. This gives the agent an immediate knowledge of what’s going on. Anything from termites to an iffy foundation can be relayed to the buyer immediately. Inspections take roughly two to four hours, depending on the size of the home.

We smooth bumps in the road. Not every sale goes smoothly, but good agents try to shield their clients from the high drama unless there’s a reason to fill them in.

We keep you calm when the pressure’s on. Good agents don’t just hand you a house. They can also act as a therapist, making your sale much less stressful. Our ability to keep ourselves (in theory) at an arm’s distance allows us to help you make a business decision, rather than one based on emotion.

If you’re looking for an agent to help you with all of these steps in purchasing a home, get in touch with me at lbudik@mcenearney.com.

What’s the difference between a REALTOR, broker and a real estate agent?

The real estate industry has a language all its own, not only about houses and contracts, but about the practitioners itself. Here’s a quick rundown of who’s who in the home buying and selling field:

  • Real estate agent (aka real estate salesperson): Anyone who earns a real estate license can be called a real estate agent, whether that license is as a sales professional, an associate broker or a broker. In Virginia, you must take a minimum of 60 hours of classes and pass both national and state-level tests to earn your license. These licenses are typically valid for two years; agents must take continuing education courses to renew their licenses.
  • REALTOR® (a trademarked name): A real estate agent who is a member of the National Association of REALTORS®, which means that he or she must uphold the standards of the association and its code of ethics. All REALTORS are real estate agents, but not all agents are REALTORS. In essence, agents must pay an additional fee and agree to hold themselves to a higher level standard of practice to call themselves REALTORS.
  • Real estate broker: A person who has taken 180 credit hours of education beyond the agent level as required by state laws, has passed a broker’s license exam and has actively worked as a real estate salesperson for 36 of the previous 48 months. Brokers can work alone or they can hire agents to work for them. Real estate agents operate under a managing broker, who overseas transactions, signs agreements and helps agents when issues arise — basically, the boss of the office.
  • Real estate associate broker: Someone who has taken additional education classes and earned a broker’s license, but chooses to work under the management of a broker.

“Real Estate Titles Explained: Agent, Broker, REALTOR®”