Archive for December, 2007

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Brambleton Casino Night 2008

Monday, December 31, 2007

Community Reminder: Brambleton Casino Night 2008

When: Friday, February 8, 2008

Where: Embassy Suites Dulles

Time: 8:00 PM until Midnight

RSVP and More Information

Please Check the Brambleton Intranet

www.brambletonhoa.com

Brambletonians are welcome to bring guests from Ashburn and Loudoun County with advanced reservations (and other visitors from all areas). Please contact the Brambleton Homeowners Association directly for information on costs, registration, reservations, and activity information.

~~ Kae Davis

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Embrace Internet Technology in the Real Estate Business

Saturday, December 29, 2007

“All progress depends on the unreasonable man. The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself.”
– George Bernard Shaw

I’m being unreasonable. I believe in using the Internet to make personal connections to people all over the country. I know I have friends in many areas because I have spoken with them online, spoken with them over the phone or IRC, and have met many new friends and business professionals personally.

I know many agents in the declining market are wondering why their businesses are weak or faltering. I see many who refuse to embrace technology, while also simultaneously refusing to participate in volunteer or community service projects to benefit their local community because it cuts into their personal time. I meet agents every day who won’t take phone calls at night or answer emails promptly. They won’t work weekends, they won’t sit extra open houses, they won’t market online, they won’t update their web pages, they won’t do this and they won’t do that.

I hear so much bah-humbug to creative advertising or non-traditional work schedules to help the professionals who only have time to do business in the evenings or on the weekends. I hear a general disdain toward IT executives who telecommute or rely on emails and blackberry to get them through their global professional commutes.

I suppose this season I feel like the ghost of Christmas Future because I know the power of the next net wave will come through to rescue our housing markets advertising these next ten years. I also know that without a mind and heart that is community centered, self centered individuals and business that give nothing back to the world will never make it through.

Today, I picked up another local newspaper that proclaimed the housing market slump tops the years business news. The other proclaims despair deepens in market for homes. Though I’ve seen proof to these claims, I can’t help but think that the wording could be changed to indicate our national housing situation is more positive. With global citizens peering in on the Internet, we need more writers talking about how our communities are banding together. We need to highlight how families are making situations work in lean times. We need to talk about the possibility of families living together to conserve resources and how the American people have banded together historically to persevere when they are threatened in our homes.

As agents, we need to find way s to increase our community service, decrease our fuel consumption, and make use of environmentally sound marketing tools that get our listings advertising and sold. We need to make sure our clients understand how to properly stage homes and we need to be willing to roll up our own sleeves and use some elbow grease to help things get going. We need more comprehensive digital photography, more interior floor plans with comprehensive measurements digitized for mass distribution (including wall space views and window placement measurement), and we need to provide more market reports that allow listings to be priced correctly and according to up to the minute market conditions.

I have a friend who knew her listing was not going to move without so help from somewhere. She stepped in to rep a listing where the owners were in another state. She knew the home was not staged well and that lack of care had allowed dirt to accumulate in the home. She did the right thing. She herself mapped out what needed to be done cosmetically to the home (cleaning, minor painting, cabinet knobs, window scrubs, rehang a few new blinds, clutter removal, furniture rearrange, and landscape details). She made an agreement for the client to pay her a modest fee to do it all… one weeks worth of manual work. Then, between other showings and property maintenance she worked in all the details to prep the home. Once done, she took extensive digital photographs, uploaded 30 pics to MRIS (Virginia’s MLS service), uploaded the pics and a all the property specs to a web page, and repriced the property according to what was SELLING in her area (rather than to the price most were asking in the neighborhood). THE HOME SOLD IN TWO WEEKS TO AN ONLINE CONNECTION IMPRESSED WITH HER CLEAR INTERNET INFORMATION AND PHOTOGRAPHS. She also received a back up offer for contract.

My friend was an unreasonable woman. She demanded the property be cleaned, repaired, staged, photographed properly, market with current technology, and she spent her energy on completing the task and her money on online advertising rather than print marketing. She knocked on no doors, mass emailed her sphere of influence about the property, and used the multiple listing service effectively. She printed signpost information for the property and included the web address for her listing to give comprehensive information. She also spent 40 hours electronically posting and distributing information on her property. As a service minded professional, her yard cleanup of the home helped to benefit not only this owner but the other listings in the community. As a compassionate person she saved the homeowner thousands of dollars by bidding a reasonable amount to do all the work and saved the client a tremendous amount of time by getting it all done promptly and right the first time. She also used technology to her advantage and saved a few more trees inadvertently in the process [while taking less time on the highway and needing to pay foreign oil prices while polluting more of the environment].

Adapting the world to ourselves, when done in a positive manner is a noble goal. Persisting to make reasonable modifications to assist individual clients, changing the way Realtors do business, shifting the way we look at our present market; these are all unreasonable but logical changes to the way the real estate world does business. It is my hope that the coming years bring an improvement in market conditions. This statement does not mean I expect prices to rise to ridiculous levels or that sales need to be back to 10 contract offers in ten hours of a listing and agents not needing to do anything to market or service their listings other than sit by a phone in an office with a pen and paper ready so they can earn that big commission. In my mind, a positive real estate market occurs when people are able to both buy and sell their homes comfortably, in a reasonable amount of time, and that they are able to develop a positive working relationship with their real estate agent that includes moving assistance (welcoming the new residents into a community and referring outgoing sellers to good community members in their new location). It also means being available to a customer through the mediums they find most useful; marketing to the slower pace of people over 50 may be monthly through print, but working with people under 50, this may mean by keeping up daily through aggressive use of the Internet.

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Fox Cinemas in Brambleton: A Ryan Road Development Update

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Looking for information on the movie schedule for the new FOX CINEMA in Brambleton or driving directions from Loudoun County Parkway (follow Ryan Road)? Here it is–happy movie going! Drive CAREFULLY!

http://www.consolidatedmovies.com/location-detail.asp?theatre_id=34

Kae Davis, Real Estate Agent

Coldwell Banker

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Bertucci’s Comes to Ashburn, Virginia adding great Italian flavor to Loudoun County

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Bertucci’s Opening in Ashburn

LoudounExtra.com staff at 12:28 p.m., December 13, 2007 (14 comments)

Living in LoCo correspondent Val Cavalheri has the scoop on another addition to the Ashburn dining scene.

Ashburn residents are about to get another dining option.

Bertucci’s Italian Restaurant will open Monday at 44042 Pipeline Plaza in Ashburn, unveiling what the company is referring to as a “unique prototype.” The Ashburn location will feature a new company logo, contemporary colors, increased seating capacity, private dining room with fireplaces, an enhanced bar area, and … cloth napkins. And it will be the first in Loudoun County (the closest before now was in Herndon).

Hoping to engage guests by immersing them into the Italian cuisine culture, restaurant-goers will also be introduced to open kitchen pizza bars where they can see their meals being prepared and cooked in the brick oven and on the grills.

“The new concept offers new features and a more comfortable atmosphere that speaks to our commitment to providing our customer an authentic Italian experience,” the company’s CEO, Stephen Clark, said in an announcement about the Ashburn restaurant.

The updated concept will be integrated into all new Bertucci’s restaurants as the company grows. Bertucci’s first opened in 1981 in Massachusetts and now operates in 92 locations in 10 states and the District.

The Ashburn restaurant is one of four to open with the new concept this year. The four new restaurants are the first restaurants the company has opened in two years.

“Bertucci’s is loved in other Virginia cities, including Alexandria, Herndon, and Springfield, and we wanted to expand the Italian experience and new Bertucci’s concept to other parts of the state,” the company’s senior vice president of marketing, Maria Feicht, said in announcing the Ashburn restaurant.

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Brambletonians: Do you know the history of the Christmas Pickle?

Friday, December 21, 2007

Here is a little funny tidbit this christmas season… I wonder how many people in Brambleton or Ashburn have a “Christmas Pickle” included as part of their decorating scheme?  

Enjoy–

Kae Davis, www.cbmove.com/Kae.Davis

Printed Courtesy of My Merry Christmas.com

The Christmas Pickle
By B. Frnacis Morlan

It is a quaint tradition that nobody wants to claim. And its story would not be the first tradition of Christmas born of a total fabrication. It is the little-known tradition of the Christmas pickle.

The Christmas pickle is not really a pickle at all. It is a pickle-shaped ornament that is the last one hung on the tree on Christmas Eve. The first child to find the Christmas pickle gets an extra gift from Saint Nicholas. Or so the so-called legend goes.

There are two other versions of the origins of the Christmas pickle. One is a family story of a Bavarian-born ancestor who fought in the American Civil War. A prisoner in poor health and starving, he begged a guard for just one pickle before he died. The guard took pity on him and found a pickle for him. The pickle by the grace of God gave him the mental and physical strength to live on.

The other, perpetuated in Berrien Springs, MI, is a medieval tale of two Spanish boys traveling home from boarding school for the holidays. When they stopped at an inn for the night, the innkeeper, a mean and evil man, stuffed the boys into a pickle barrel. That evening, St. Nicholas stopped at the same inn, became aware of the boys’ plight, tapped the pickle barrel with his staff, and the boys were magically freed.

Berrien Springs calls itself the Christmas Pickle Capital of the World. They celebrate with an annual Christmas Pickle Festival held during the early part of December. A parade, led by the Grand Dillmeister who passes out fresh pickles along the parade route, is the featured event. You may even purchase the German glass pickle ornaments at the town’s museum.

Rumor and speculation place the origin of this tradition in Germany. However few in modern-day Germany recognize or have even heard of the Christmas pickle. Some in West Germany blame generations of East Germans who may have had nothing more than pickles to decorate their Christmas trees with after World War II. But even families and historians in East Germany shrug at the mention of the Christmas pickle tradition.

Regardless of where it came from, the Christmas tradition survives. Ornament manufacturers continue to make the specialty decoration and enjoy perpetuating the myth of its legendary origins — false though they may be.

© 1989-2005 by The Merry Network, All Rights Reserved. Printed from My Merry Christmas.com. This article may be reproduced free of charge in its entirety only as long as this notice remains intact with due credit given to the author and My Merry Christmas. Kindly notify us of how and where this article is used so that we can link to your site or publication.

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Brambleton Town Center: An Ashburn Amenity in Loudoun County

Friday, December 21, 2007

Grass Roots Community Efforts WORK: Overcoming Negative Perceptions of Market Areas or Slow Conditions

(reprinted from 11.10.2007 at www.activerain.com/Kae.Davis)

Hello friends!

I was cruising the internet today and looking up information about my local area. As you all know, I am right outside DC in Northern Virginia. I am fortunate enough to live in and work around a wonderful newly developing town called Ashburn. In that, I am happy to be directly involved with many of our local neighborhood communities, including one of my favorites: a place called BRAMBLETON.

The blog spot I found at brambleton.wordpress.com had a post by the writer “brambleton”. To my chagrin and surprise the writer publicly said,

“I wonder how Brambleton developer would like to categorize or promote shopping center as. Some how, it is not visualized to be an attractive destination. In fact, shops are not even similar to a strip mall where you would typically find nails, party or lower end decorative shops, etc. On the other hand, there are a few specialty shops and are not meant to attract masses. Barnes & Nobles delayed their presence by a year or more. Here is an interactive map of what is expected soon, all shops in phase I are on the right frame of this page: Brambleton Shops. Posted in 20148, brambleton, commercial, shops |
Response: No Comments”

Now, my first though on reading the post was whoever wrote that must be disillusioned with the present market conditions. It occurred to me that if they had built early enough in Brambleton’s history or had purchased in late summer or fall of 2005 before the market dropped, that the tedious but steady progress made by the Brambleton Town Center to complete their ambitious project has frustrated them. However, this type of caustic post, rooted in discontent, DOES NOTHING TO BENEFIT THE AREA MARKET CONDITIONS.

The blogger “brambleton”, just as we all are, is probably less angry and more anxious to see the plaza become a HUGE success for probably one undisclosed yet fundamentally important reason. Once the Brambleton Town Center Shopping Plaza features and related amenities are finished, they will undoubtedly increase property values for all homes in our Ashburn area. Moreover, a thriving commercial use venue so close to home will most directly positively affect all the current property owners in Brambleton. To those ends, I agree that the property agents placing business in Brambleton must be incredibly careful to select those restaurants, shops, and retail establishments that will draw business to our area—but also to keep in mind that the store they approve ought to be tailored to benefit primary use by our residents.

The discrepancy, then, comes into play when you think about the benefit of “brambleton” posting blog commentary that specifically damages or disregards the truth about our Brambleton lifestyle or current market situation. Representing Brambleton to the world (and ultimately suggesting the tone and tenor of all Ashburn and Northern Virginia residents), they have negated the positive plan of our area, have done deliberate public harm to our retailers, and have set forth their opinions of our marketplace as popular opinion. As ambassadors to the world about Brambleton (by virtue of their self declared web title position), they have essentially cut their own nose of to spite their face by not choosing the words more carefully to aid the developers in improving our collective situation.

To counteract and voice a comment of positive support to Brambleton businesses and residents, I crafted the following response. Whether or not this “freedom of speech” dissenting opinion comment will be approved by their moderation, I’m not certain, but I wanted to share my thoughts here with active rain on what to do when you find a negative opinion floating about damaging the reputation of your client’s markets. Aggressively support positivism. Befriend the people you want to see stay in business—and be loyal patrons. Speak kind words about your neighbors, your neighborhoods, and friends. Don’t be afraid to be objective disseminating information—and be proud to indicate when what you have said is wholly subjective opinion. Please see below, and if you are ever in the area and are interesting in investing, I know a great agent.

Cheers,

Kae Davis, Licensed Virginia Real Estate Agent and Concerned Neighborhood Watch Citizen
Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate Brokerage Ashburn Dulles
44050 Ashburn Shopping Plaza
Suite 163 of the Ashburn Village Shopping Plaza
Ashburn, Virginia 20147
http://www.cbmove.com/Kae.Davis

COMMENT POSTED IN REPLY TO CRITICISM OF BRAMBLETON TOWN CENTER:

Wow–we love the Brambleton Town center and have such a different perspective.

As the host of a residential shopping plaza, Brambleton residents are utilizing so many of the Brambleton Town center features! Though we are all a bit frustrated with delays building the center and all the new construction along Ryan Road and Loudoun County Parkway is slowing us down, we have access to some pretty wonderful stuff already placed and open.

*Harris Teeter (24 hour, Pharmacy, Floral Department, Bakery, Seafood and Meat, Organic Produce, Sushi Bar, and $0.99 SUBS are the BOMB)
*Caribou Coffee (drive through option, free wireless Internet access, and with some of the best caffeine fixes around)
*My Thai (the most delicious Thai food in Loudoun county, atmosphere or a Washingtonian elite Night spot, best Mojitos in Loudoun)
*Subway (which is everywhere but they sure are handy when you want and easy place to grab a six foot sub for a party crowd)
*California Tortilla (hundred of hot sauce flavor combinations, fresh fast food, and big tables for large groups or families with children)
*Nick’s Corner Grill (with an upscale gourmet atmosphere and quiet HUGE screen televisions it’s the perfect wife-meets-football place in town, late nights, full bar)
*GO BANANAS Toy Store (absolutely one of the most thrilling educational and retro toy stores, clever “kids pick” toy storage for birthday and holiday selections–keeping everything a surprise because you come back without the children)
*Edible Arrangements (with stylized fresh fruit arrangements that look like floral bouquets, the perfect gifts to send in Brambleton for fun or as treats all over the nation)
*UPS Store (easy package drop off)
*Dry Cleaners
*Hair Cuttery (ask for Wendy or Hannah and bring pictures, great men’s barber shop cuts, excellent to keep our growing kids looking well coiffed during all the seasons)
*Nail Salon (Pedicures and Manicures, Massage Chairs-but make an appointment if you want to get in)
*Fox Cinemas (sixteen screen stadium seating with rocking recliner seats in an Art Nouveau setting, hot pizza pretzels sound gross but taste amazing for a different movie tradition treat, frozen cokes for the ideal brain freeze)
*Chevy Chase Bank (yes–they DO have a drive up ATM)
*Leesburg Canine Country Club (a dog friendly Adult Recreation 26 acre area right down the road from us-take Ryan to a right on Evergreen Mills and it is just a hop skip and jump down on the left

Combine these destinations already open with the coming soon attractions and the Brambleton planners really do seem to be making Brambleton a very easy place to live. [Barnes and Nobel, a pain your own pottery location, a chocolate shop, a paper goods store for stationary and whatnots, a Birkenstock shop for those comfortable casual wearing, a specialty closet shop that will help all residents get their storage life happily in order are all coming attractions.] If we just had a “First Watch” and “Sweet Tomatoes” franchises (plus a really nice gas station), it would be an ideal daily living situation.

[Did I mention I work with investors and also commercial clients?]

** Please note I regretfully forgot to mention the wonderful place I go most often for Lunch in Brambleton, FROOTS. I’m addicted to their fresh juices, awesome salads and wraps, and their delightful ownership–it is such a friendly establishment!

I will admit to have the Art and Frame store connection be one of our first opened features was a bit off in their use planning, but the owners are such nice and wonderful people that I believe in the long run, once all is said and done, we will have supported their business and the Brambleton Town center will be happy to have them.

NOTE: The Brambleton ice cream shop “Coldstone Creamery” is struggling in comparison to other franchise establishments now, too. The corporation has built a lovely new shop up the road in the WEGMANS plaza. Under a different franchise (owner so those of us addicted to true Coldstone can still get our mix-in fun), guests with kids to the new store also have the benefit of a children’s playground outside. As a whole, however, the Brambleton Town Center is still A+.

Local amenities are everything. If you can’t find whatever comfort food, solution product, or specialty item you need, we are so close to the areas other competing plazas (South Riding, Shellhorn Road, Ashburn Village Plaza, Ashburn Commons, the Dulles Town Center, Broadlands, South Walk, the newly building Loudoun Valley Estates, Waxpool Road, Farmwell Road, and the Auto Park by the giant Wegmans and Target Plaza off Pacific Boulevard and the 28 Waxpool fly over exit) that you can BE to what or where you need in under 15 minutes. [Home Depot, Home Goods, Bloom, Giant, Safeway, CVS, Walgreens, 100 more restaurant choices from fast food to four stars, hotel suites, local wineries or bed and breakfasts, Dulles International Airport, the Dulles Greenway (267 Toll Road), whatever.]

Patience is a virtue, and regardless of delays or any perceived aesthetic discontinuity right now while we are under construction Brambleton has a huge set out here of its “Brambletonian Lifestyle” fans. Visit http://www.brambleton.com for more information or stop by the Visitors Center. One last perk and thumbs up for our specific local area? Brambleton is a neighborhood full of friendly professional and personal friends.

Kindest regards to all Brambletonians,

Kae Davis, Happy Resident

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SAT Study Groups Forming in Brambleton, Fairfax County, and Loudoun County this January

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Attention High School Students in Fairfax, Fair Oaks, Annandale, Alexandria, Ashburn, South Riding, Broadlands, Ashburn Farms, Sterling, Chantilly, Leesburg, Herndon, Reston, Cascades, and Dulles:

Did you know there is a private tutoring agency that works in our region? It is called Tri-Ed Tutoring, and they offer a fantastic opportunity for parents and students. Rather than coming to a learning center, the tutors from Tri-Ed can meet with you and your group at a public place (like a library, bookstore, community club house, or restaurant)  or they can arrange to meet your student right in their home!

Tri-Ed Tutoring offers student tutoring in the following subjects and categories: remediation, Language Arts Skills, Reading Classes, Math (including basic math, Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1, Algebra 2, and Geometry), homework help, essay and research paper assistance, school project help, English, Science (including basic sciences, Biology, Chemistry), Social Studies (including History, Geography, Civics, and Government), Standardized Test Prep, ESL, GED, and Basic Study Skills. They also have instructors able to work with special education students (including LD, ADD, ADHD, and Autism Spectrum).

Home school students love working with Tri-ed Tutoring, too. Although they offer full tutoring services to all of Fairfax and Loudoun County, here is the communication I just received from Tutor and company owner Amanda Medders about what options Brambleton and Loudoun Area High School Students have for small group S.A.T. and SOL 11 critical reading, formal academic writing, Algebra 1, Algebra 2, and Geometry skills remediation and “SAT Prep Class” (or SAT Review with an emphasis on standardized testing an score improvement).

www.tri-edtutoring.com

Tri-Ed Tutoring offers SAT and SOL Test Prep

Work one-on-one or in a small group (up to 3 students) to improve your score. 

Tutors come to you at a mutually convenient place. This could be your home, a public library, bookstore, etc.  

All of our SAT tutors have scored in the top percentiles on the SAT or other similar standardized test, such as the ACT or the GRE.  

We combine a review of the content that will be on the SAT, test-taking strategies, and practice problems tailored to your individual needs to achieve the results that you want. 

Our basic study plans S.A.T. DISCOUNT TUTORING PACKAGES include: 

*8 hours- best used for one subject area (math, reading, or writing) 

*16 hours- best used for an overall review in all subject areas and a focus on one weak subject area (math, reading, or writing) 

*24 hours- this works well for students that are weak in more than one area of the test and need an in-depth review of 2 or more areas.  

These are suggested plans and can be modified to meet your individual needs. During our sessions, we will work on the following areas: 

*Review of the content styles and question formats that you will see on the exam

*Techniques for solving specific question types

*Test-taking skills

*Time Management 

We recommend students beginning to prepare for the SAT test at least 6-8, 8-12, or 16 weeks in advance. 

MIDDLE SCHOOL AND HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS REQUIRING HOMEWORK SKILLS AND SOL8 OR SOL11 TEST PREP ASSISTANCE OR REQUIRE ESL ASSISTANCE SHOULD PLAN TO PREPARE YEAR LONG.
 

Now is the perfect time to start preparing for the Spring and Summer planned test dates! 
 

For more information and to find a private SAT tutor in your area,

contact Amanda Medders  at (703)899-6282 or visit http://www.tri-edtutoring.com .