By Eve Thompson
First impressions matter. And that means the curb appeal of you home influences whether a prospective buyer even wants to look inside. Boosting your curb appeal doesn’t have to break the bank. Here are seven simple things you can do to make your home more appealing to prospective buyers.
- Install lights along the sidewalk
Lights lining the path to your home are cheery and inviting…and not very expensive. Lighting can also emphasize your landscaping and any other features you want to highlight. And, lights improve security. Solar lights are perfect for this job. Since they don’t require running electrical cable or extension cords, you can put them wherever you want—down the sidewalk, around a tree. All you have to do to install them is stick them in the ground. There are so many designs today that they can add a nice, decorative touch. It’s a small thing that has a big impact.
- Plant Flowers
Need I say more? Just thinking about flowers makes me smile. And I’m not alone. Whether they’re in flower boxes, hanging baskets, or berms, they provide a huge boost to your curb appeal. Planting flowers is one of the easiest, most cost-effective ways to make a big impact. We have tons of nurseries in the area that can recommend exactly what to plant for your yard conditions. It won’t take long or break the bank, and it will make you happy.
- Cover Up Dead Spots on Your Lawn
Oh how we love our trees in Reston. Alas, we don’t love their constant shade, and the inevitable dead spots that surround them. I say surrender to the dead spots. Rather than fight them by constantly planting grass that will never grow, cover them up. Plant some shade loving flowers or plants around them (hostas do particularly well here). An even easier solution is to mulch them. You will be amazed at how clean and appealing your yard looks when you cover the dead spots!
- Upgrade the Hardware on Your Door
Another super simple upgrade is to change the hardware on your door. Styles change, even for door handles and locks. Swapping out old light fixtures and mailboxes (if you have one by your door) can also add new life to your entrance. And while you’re at it, painting the door will add new vibrancy. You can refresh the entire entrance to you home with those simple fixes.
- Replace Rotted Wood
Many of the homes in Reston have wood exteriors and HOA requirements forbid any other type of siding. In our moist climate, wood will sometimes rot—especially around window casings. The good news is that fixing it may not be as costly as you think. Sure it’s not as quick a fix as planting flowers, but it will drastically boost your curb appeal.
- Clean the Gutters
Cleaning the gutters really doesn’t take that long. Whether you do it yourself or pay to have it done, it will help make your house look more inviting. Something about weeds growing out of gutters just looks untidy.
- Power Wash Your House and Decks
Over time, your house and deck can start looking grungy. Sometimes a new coat of paint or stain is called for (you should do that every six or seven years), but often a good power washing is more than enough to make your house look brand-spanking new. Your house will look so fresh, you may wonder why you’ve never done this before!
There are many more things you can do to boost your curb appeal…some small, some more involved. But these seven things alone will drastically improve how your house looks to potential buyers and will make them want to come in and see more.
By Eve Thompson
Lake Audubon is one of Reston, VA’s gems. And on it sits South Bay Cluster, a neighborhood of 33 cedar-siding, contemporary homes—30% of which are direct lakefront property, and the rest have private access to the lake. Built in the mid-80s, these three and four bedroom townhomes all have garages as well—what more could you want?
Well, for families, South Bay is walking distance to Terraset Elementary, Langston Hughes Middle, and South Lakes High School. It is also a short walk to the South Lakes Shopping Center—with Starbucks, Safeway, Café Sano, and more. It’s also a quick ride to the Reston Metro station, Dulles Airport, and Reston Town Center.
For those who want to play close to home, there is a Reston Association playground near the entrance of the community. And if you have a small, portable boats (canoes, rowboats, sailboats, etc.) boat, the community dock is available to all residents. If you want to venture out a bit, Walker Nature Education Center is close by, as is Lake Fairfax Park (home of the Water Mine), and the many RA pools and tennis courts.
South Bay Cluster has something for everyone, all centrally located in South Reston.
By Eve Thompson
Join your favorite furry friends for Howl-O-Ween at Lake Anne Plaza from 6 to 8 p.m. It’s going to be barking mad!
Something about the air in October makes everyone want to get out and celebrate. And there is plenty to celebrate this October in Reston—every weekend in chalk full of fun activities for the whole family! Here are my favorite picks for the month.
Friday October 10: South Lakes Homecoming Game and Parade
Everyone loves a good parade, so bring the family out on Friday, October 10 at 5:00 p.m. for the South Lakes High School homecoming parade, featuring the award-winning marching band and homecoming court. The parade starts at Hunters Woods Village Center, and travels down Colts Neck to South Lakes Drive, ending at the high school. After the parade, come to the football game and cheer the Seahawks to victory!
October 11 and 12: Oktoberfest at Reston Town Center
Join one of Restonians’ favorite fall traditions—Oktoberfest, featuring the best in autumn brews with delicious fare from area restaurants. Admission if free. You’ll enjoy good food, wine, beer, and live entertainment. Oktoberfest Reston is produced by the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce and is Northern Virginia’s largest fall festival at Reston Town Center
Saturday, October 11: Noon – 11PM
Sunday, October 12: Noon – 8PM
October 22 through 26: Washington West Film Festival
For film lovers, the Washington West Film Festival provides a unique cinematic experience celebrating innovative, impassioned films that can make lasting, tangible differences in our world. Fine independent films will be screened or premiered in three in-competition categories: dramatic features, documentary features, and short films. Films will screen at the Bow Tie Cinema at Reston Town Center. Visit http://wwfilmfest.com/ to learn about the films and for show times.
Halloween House and Trick-or-Treat Trail
Walker Nature Center – 11450 Glade Drive, Reston
Friday, Oct. 24 and Saturday, Oct. 25 from 4:30-9:30 p.m.
The Halloween House and Trick-or-Treat Trail is a favorite annual tradition for kids of all ages. Taking place on the ground of the Walker Nature Education Center, children encounter witches and goblins while wandering through the grounds. It’s so much fun that Friday night has already sold out. So don’t delay: buy your tickets now. Register here: http://www.eventbrite.com/o/walker-nature-center-630326615
Saturday, October 25 Trick or Treat! at Reston Town Center
11:00am – 4:00pm
If your child is looking for a reason to wear his or her costume early, we’ve got the perfect excuse. Come on down to the Reston Town Center were participating retailers (and the information center) will have goodies on hand. Just look for the pumpkin flyer in the window!
October 31: Howl-o-Ween
Okay dog lovers, time to show us just how flashy Fido can be. In this new event, your furry friend can strut his stuff at Lake Anne Plaza from 6 to 8 p.m. on Halloween night. There will be plenty of Yappy Hour treats. You don’t want to miss this!
By Eve Thompson
Susann Gerstein has created a warm, nurturing store with small change consignments.
Any mom on a budget in the Washington, DC area knows about small change consignments, located at historic Lake Anne Village Center in Reston, Virginia. Since 1981, families have visited this small shop to find brand name children’s clothes, toys, and equipment. In fact, many second and even some third generation families are shopping and consigning at small change, a fact that delights owner Susann Gerstein.
Susann and two friends opened small change to make it easier for parents to recycle all those things that their children need, but quickly outgrow. Today, it has become a gathering place for mothers and grandmothers looking for brand name and imported clothes, shoes, dancewear, cleats, toys, videos, strollers, cribs, high chairs, exersaucers and joggers. You can even find one-of-a-kind items from all over the world—a nice reflection of the cultural diversity in Reston.
It has been cited as one of the best consignment shops for children, mothers-to-be and the whole family in the Annual Washington Families Survey, and winner of the 1992 Best of Reston Award for Community Service & Business Excellence for its generous donation to families in need.
In one small shop, small change embodies all of the values of Reston. We hope it remains a vibrant part of the community for years to come. If you are in need of children’s consignments, visit their Facebook page for deals and offers.
By Eve Thompson
The mature trees in this part of South Reston make the neighborhood feel like it’s miles away from the city, when it’s only a few miles from Reston Town Center.
If you want to be surrounded by nature while living in a populated area, the neighborhoods around Steeplechase and Colts Neck in South Reston are the perfect spot. The homes in this area of Reston were built in the 70s. These single-family homes contain a mixture of architectural styles—but they all have been well-maintained and cared for over the years.
The thing many visitors notice first is how private each spacious lot is. The trees in this neighborhood are fully matured, making you feel like you are tucked away in the woods and not a few short miles from Reston Town Center and the Toll Road!
The Steeplechase/Colts Neck area is just off Reston Parkway—easy access to the Toll Road and Reston Town Center.
There are Reston Association recreation areas nearby, with playgrounds and facilities for anyone who wants to use them. There are also miles of nature trails that are perfect for dog walking, running, or just enjoying a beautiful day.
Neighborhood children attend Hunters Woods Elementary School, Langston Hughes Middle School, and South Lakes High School. Both Hunters Woods Village Center and Fox Mill Shopping Center offer easy access to grocery shopping and quick dining. As part of Reston Association, residents also have access to nearby pools and tennis courts.
If you are a nature lover, this is the neighborhood for you!
By Eve Thompson
A few weeks ago I posted some tips for getting your home physically ready for the appraisal. Whether you are selling, refinancing, or looking for a home equity loan, the shape your home is in will make a difference in the home appraisal. But there are a few more things you can do to make the appraiser’s job easier.
- The appraiser needs to know what kind of improvements you’ve made. So keep a list of anything you’ve done in the last 15 years—the date and the approximate cost. It matters whether your air conditioner is 5 years old or 25 years old. Something as seemingly small as replacing a toilet also counts.
- Find a plot map of your home. Some HOAs will give you one when you buy your property. The appraiser will go look it up, but they’ll appreciate it if they don’t have to. Regardless, they need to know your property lines and the actual square footage of the structure.
- Find comps and have copies of them. This is also something they’ll do, but if you have already done it for them, it helps—especially if it’s a recent sale that didn’t go through a real estate agent. Those comps can take a while to show up on their databases.
- Make a list of all the improvements in the neighborhood, such as the Metro line coming in, a new high-end grocery store, or a recreation center—anything that makes your neighborhood more appealing to buyers. It’s unlikely that your appraiser lives in your community, so let them know what a great location you’re in!
Once you hand over your helpful information, step back and let the appraiser get to work.
By making your property look it’s best and by giving your appraiser the additional information they need to make a good assessment, you will be well positioned to get the highest valuation from your home appraisal.