NOVA Buzz

Government Shutdown Is Affecting Real Estate

October 2nd, 2013 by
Sorry We're Closed

Sorry We’re Closed

The Government shutdown is affecting real estate and created an uncertainty in the continued recovery of the U.S. Housing & Mortgage Market. All nonessential federal government responsibilities have come to a screeching halt and wages lost. Government shutdown will impact the IRS, HUD, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac – all having to take forced leave. Should the shutdown last long enough, families nationwide will either continue to or start living paycheck to paycheck causing defaults on home mortgages. Since the Federal Reserve will not be directly affected and does not rely on Congressional funding, will stay open and continue to lend.
Lenders will find it challenging getting VA and FHA loans processed causing loans to dry up should the Government Shutdown become lengthy. Having said that, the silver lining in the Government Shutdown is modern technology. Since the FHA system is mostly digital, case numbers are obtainable from FHA should HUD continue to leave their systems up and running. However, loan approvals could be put off since the IRS needs to verify tax returns and will be unable to do this. Loans that have been preapproved could expire causing Purchasers to pay a higher interest rate and or lose out on purchasing.
The Government Shutdown is affecting the real estate market and having a ripple effect throughout. Let us hope that this is just a momentary laps so that we all can go on with business.

Jay Thomas – The 6 Hours of Cranky Monkey Endurance Mountain Bike Race

March 28th, 2013 by
NOVA Buzz

Jay Thomas 6 Hours of Cranky Monkey

6 Hours of Cranky Monkey Mountain Bike Race Recap

Wow, what a day! Jim Harman and the crew at EX2 Adventures really know how to do it and do it well. After a few years of negotiating to get a race at Rosaryville Park in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, they were able to get the “thumbs up” and scheduled the race for Saturday, March 23rd.

The week leading up to the race meant training as usual. Despite the desire to rest I felt the need to keep things going as I have another solo endurance race on April 13th (Leesburg Bakers Dozen – 13 Hour Race). Spin, yoga, core, and indoor trainer were on tap and have been my “go to” routine during this years training season. Feeling good come Thursday my mind started to think of what I would have the night before the race. I quickly messaged my buddy Bart who races in the North Carolina circuit as well as other states along the East Coast. When in doubt have some pasta! Who am I to say no to that. My typical diet consists of protein, veggies and light carbs. Given the length of the race and solo effort I felt carbo loading the night before the race was acceptable. Bite to eat, a movie and in bed as early as possible as 6am would come soon enough.

The night before any race I get the “jitters.” Surprisingly enough I actually had a decent nights sleep and woke up 10 minutes before the alarm. Up, dressed and in the kitchen packing the cooler and having some coffee anxious to get on the road. Nela, my wife is a Saint! She’s so supportive and having her there in the pits always helps me mentally knowing that she is there. She too was up and ready to go, coffee in hand. In the car and on the road at 7:00am meant our ETA would be 8am with plenty of time to get setup, prep and attend the pre-race announcements.

Thanks to my buddy Brian having to setup the tent/table was already done as he drove down the night before, camped and snagged a primo spot for our group of racers. Nela and I arrived a little after 8am and were able to get things setup rather quickly. Wondered around, saw friends and chatted about how it was the first big race for everyone and how everyone felt. It was clear we all were excited about the course and ready to get started. Registered, got my packet, number, and headed to the main area for the pre-race briefing. Rules, course descriptions, sponsors recognition, etc., etc. Headed back to our pit area, got dressed and hopped on the bike to do some warm ups. Typically I am always asking Nela “what time is it” every 5 minutes but not today. I was surprisingly in a relaxed mood despite this being my first solo endurance race.

After warm ups, final intake of food and water Brian, Mark and I headed up to the start area. About half way there I noticed my back tire was a bit flat. Given how close we were to race start I was unable to head back to put more air in my rear tire – oh well! We chose to post up in the middle of the group which was just fine with me. Five minutes to go I talked to another fellow single speeder about gearing. He had some good insight on the gearing I ended up choosing (32X20) but learned that I might run into over working the legs due to the style course and the likelihood that I would be spinning a lot to keep momentum.

The countdown began….4 minutes, 2 minutes, 1 minute and the blown horn sounds! The ringing of cowbells and “Woo-Hoo’s” filled the air and put a smile on my face. Then, “rider down, rider down!” One of the racers had gotten caught up with another and quickly went down. Everyone went to the right and left giving them ample room to get up and get rolling. Into the field we went, through the time area and finally into the woods and single track. The first few miles were tight w/ clusters of riders getting bogged down and “bottle necked” which is normal when you have a few hundred racers at one time.

Lap 1, as expected, consisted of groups of racers, fast, slow, fast slow tempos and me learning the course. I knew it was a fast, rolling course that was just about 11 miles long. Not knowing exactly the type of climbs I would encounter made me a bit nervous. Fortunately there weren’t too many steeps…only one at Mile 5 that was fairly steep that allowed me to get up and out of the saddle and really mash the pedals. Overall Rosaryville is a smooth, twisty and rolling course. Not a lot of technical features but Miles 7-9 had some logs, table-tops, drops, and roots which I quickly told myself I would need to save energy for, including the climb at Mile 5. After passing the last aid station I felt really good and was mentally preparing to come into the pits. Out of the woods and into the field I made my way to the time area, dismounted, walked through the timing area, and down to our pit area. Feeling good and the need to hit the porta john (Too Much Info?) Nela had a bottle ready to go. I nibbled on some small bites and hopped back on the bike to head out for my second lap.

Lap 2, wow, this was a reality check. Both mentally and physically I was feeling fine. Just past mile marker 2 I came across my buddy Mark who was standing at a creek “drop-in” and wasn’t looking happy. “You all right, what happened” I yelled. “Blew a tire” Mark said. Definitely a bummer that early in the race. As I approached the climb on Mile 5 I started preparing. About halfway up I started feeling a slight twitch and immediately eased of and into a lighter cadence. “Uh-Oh” I thought. Up the hill and back into the woods the twitch turned into a light spasm. I quickly hopped off the bike to stretch. Throughout Lap 2 I battled with twitching and determining when to go hard and to ease off. Back into the pits I take the same approach and not thinking of the amount of liquids I was consuming Nela felt I was drinking too much. More small bites (added banana), drank some Acai juice, a refill of the water bottle, and back out I went.

Lap 3, the cramping on the previous lap really got to me. Was it something I ate, didn’t eat or drink prior to race start???? Easing into my pace and finally on my own and alone in the woods I sat into a zen like state and just kept pedaling and tackling each mile/section confidently. Did I continue to worry about when/where I might cramp, yes but thankfully it was not as bad as what I experienced in Lap 2. After my first 2 laps I was starting to remember the course, where I was and improving my flow. Climbs and obstacles were imbedded in my brain so the need to anticipate when/where they were was not an issue. As I passed the aid stations I decided to partake and consume small cups of Gatorade. Yep, I was going against the better judgement of Nela and continued to consume mass amounts of liquids. Back to the field and timing area I found myself back at our pit area needing to pee…..again! Should have taken Nela’s advice.

Lap 4, here we go, getting towards the end and my original 6 lap goal was definitely not going to happen but was okay with it. I noticed my upper back and neck were starting to hurt and began to shift my mind on other things to push away the slight pain I was experiencing. Was I ready to be done? Almost, but knew I still had 20ish miles to go. Passing, being passed, seeing other riders sidelined due to mechanical issues only and thankfully not physical issues was a sigh of relief. There were only 14 Single Speed Solo racers and didn’t see much of them given the length of each lap and the total amount of racers. When being passed by duo and trio teams I started getting a bit “snooty.” I assure you this is not normal for me…I think. Trying to suppress my “stinkin’ thinkin’” I told myself to “get over it.” At this point the course was the course and where I was really didn’t matter – all I knew is that I was approaching Lap 5. Out of the woods, into the woods and into the timing area I go! If you were wondering if I needed to make a quick stop at the porta john again…yes, I did. Must have “broke the seal” too early! Last refill and back out I go for my final Lap.

Lap 5 was definitely the most fun. Having navigated the course for 44 miles and just under 5 hours the need to think was low if any at all for me. Knowing where I was, anticipating the climbs and preparing for the technical areas was a breeze. No cramping and had a really nice pace. Got some positive “shout-outs” from fellow riders of encouragement that really helped me end strong. Did my mind wonder, oh yeah! At one point my thoughts were of how much I loved the Fall season and how it was the best time of year to ride. This quickly caused me to feel as if I was in the month of October given the leaves on the ground, yaddi, yaddi, yadda. That made me “LOL” and knew I must have been doing something right as slight fatigue was setting it. After each mile, climb, obstacle, and pedal stroke I got closer and closer to the end of the course. Mile 8, 9, 10 and finally out into the field and heading towards the finish – I was a happy camper and ready to be done.

Since this was my first solo endurance race a lot of things had been going through my mind prior to the event. Was I ready physically and mentally? Would I be prepared if I had a flat? What was the course like? All of my thoughts came and went but were unable to be put to rest until the day of the race. Overall I felt really good at my performance and placement – 7th out of 14 racers in my category. Rosaryville was the perfect venue for this kind of race and am so thankful to have registered and finished without any major issues. Will I be racing there next year??? Oh Yeah!

A big thank you to my loving and always supportive wife, Nela. Just having you there puts my mind at ease and appreciate you spending the day and “manning” the pit area for me.

I would also like to thank Jim Harman, EX2 Adventures, all Volunteers and race sponsors:
EX2 Adventures – www.ex2adventures.com
The Bike Lane – www.thebikelane.com
SEAVS (Exotic Animal Veterinary Services) – www.seavs.com/
Lucky Foot (Premier Walking & Running Shoe Store) – www.luckyfoot.com/
POW HER (Chiropractic & Wellness Center) – www.powherchiro.com
Drink More Water – www.drinkmorewater.com/

Addictted to…..my iPhone!

September 6th, 2012 by

In today’s modern life, cell phones are what keep us connected to the world and global economy. Like many households we have done away with landlines and use our cell phones exclusively. Where has society gone? This major change in society has grown rapidly and raises some concern for the long term.

My cell phone addiction started with the use of Palm products. Upon getting into real estate I immediately turned to any and all devices that could keep me accessible and organized. At first, texting was my major outlet. As your typical cell phone advanced I started noticing that texting turned into emailing and going online. For me it was easy to dismiss any concerns I or others might have had but my stubborn resistance to change was clear. Was I in denial? Should I reflect on the nature of my cell phone use and be concerned about the potential of being swept away to a socially acceptable, but potentially dangerous, addiction?

I know, I know…with so many of us using cell phones regularly, the concept of a cell phone addiction seems silly. When we think of “addiction” we immediately think of mind altering substances like drugs or alcohol which carries a social stigma. But when considering this stigma, being preoccupied with cell phone apps, upgrades and innovations are such commonplace and socially acceptable would cause this stigma to fall on those who are not addicted to cell phones. So, is it safe to say that cell phone use undoubtedly activates pleasure centers in the brain? Yes! I’m proof! This pleasure center and for lack of a better term, “well-being,” makes me and many others feel connected to the large world.

Despite the rapid nature of technology’s ongoing evolution and with each new cell phone and PDA boasting even more capabilities than the previous, this does not influence my tendencies. No it’s safe to say that my cell phone addiction lasts longer than 12 months. My cell phone addictions are but not limited too:

  • Prefer communicating via text or email vs. face-to-face
  • Constantly checking device for text messages, emails, voicemails, and  last but not least…social media
  • Fidgety when without cell phone device

Like any addiction the first step is admitting it…..I admit it! Now, what’s the next step? I think realistic and moderate cell phone use is the first step.

Waze App Helps Get You Where You Need to Be

May 25th, 2012 by

The new Waze App helps get you where you need to be. Most of us commuters and day trippers rely on the traditional GPS devices to get us where we need to be. Tom-Tom and Garmin are a few of the more well known GPS devices but we seem to have forgotten how effective our Smart Phones and applications can be. Waze is a social mobile application, much like a social community that has a network of drivers who are sharing what is happening on the roads around them. By being a Waze user you will obtain an interactive map of your surroundings and offers automatically updated GPS traffic patterns in real-time….all you have to do is open the application and drive. Imagine there is a fender bender and you are stuck in traffic. Take a shot of your surroundings and upload to Waze so that others can be aware of the potential traffic jam. The Waze app takes a safety first approach and has made it so drivers are unable to type as their car is in motion.

One of the biggest issues I had with regular GPS devices was the lack of updates and the inability to automatically reroute my direction. In the event anything changes in traffic my pattern the Waze app will automatically reroute my direction to the fastest route possible. The Waze app works passively as users drive around with the application open.

Waze is a driver generated service and relies on user participation reach it’s full potential in helping you get you where you need to be.

Simple Steps to Consider When Selling Your Home

May 8th, 2012 by

Selling your home in today’s competitive real estate market can be challenging. Implementing a few simple steps when selling your home can make a huge difference.

Define Your Needs

Write down all the reasons for selling your home. Ask yourself, “Why do I want to sell and what do I expect to accomplish with the sale?” For example, a growing family may prompt your need for a larger home, or a job opportunity in another city may necessitate a move. For your goals, write down if you’d like to sell your house within a certain time frame or make a particular profit margin. Work with your real estate agent to map out the best path to achieve your objectives and set a realistic time frame for the sale.

Name Your Price

Your next objective should be to determine the best possible selling price for your house. Setting a fair asking price from the outset will generate the most activity from other real estate agents and buyers. You will need to take into account the condition of your home, what comparable homes in your neighborhood are selling for, and state of the overall market in your area. It’s often difficult to remain unbiased when putting a price on your home, so your real estate agent’s expertise is invaluable at this step. Your agent will know what comparable homes are selling for in your neighborhood and the average time those homes are sitting on the market. If you want a truly objective opinion about the price of your home, you could have an appraisal done.

This typically costs a few hundred dollars. Remember: You’re always better off setting a fair market value price than setting your price too high. Studies show that homes priced higher than 3 percent of their market value take longer to sell. If your home sits on the market for too long, potential buyers may think there is something wrong with the property. Often, when this happens, the seller has to drop the price below market value to compete with newer, reasonably priced listings.

Prepare Your Home

Most of us don’t keep our homes in “showroom” condition. We tend to overlook piles of boxes in the garage, broken porch lights, and doors or windows that stick. It’s time to break out of that owner’s mindset and get your house in tip-top shape. The condition of your home will affect how quickly it sells and the price the buyer is willing to offer. First impressions are the most important. Your real estate agent can help you take a fresh look at your home and suggest ways to stage it and make it more appealing to buyers. * A home with too much “personality” is harder to sell.

Removing family photos, mementos and personalized décor will help buyers visualize the home as theirs. * Make minor repairs and replacements. Small defects, such as a leaky faucet, a torn screen or a worn doormat, can ruin the buyer’s first impression. * Clutter is a big no-no when showing your home to potential buyers. Make sure you have removed all knick-knacks from your shelves and cleared all your bathroom and kitchen counters to make every area seem as spacious as possible.

A few simple steps to consider when selling your home can have a huge impact on the marketability of your home.

For more helpful tips on selling your home please visit us at www.liveinloudoun.com

 

Morning Buzz – 04/17/12

April 17th, 2012 by

Good morning everyone! Just a quick reminder of the upcoming 22nd Annual Flower and Garden show in Leesburg, VA this weekend (April 21-22). The Historical district of downtown Leesburg will be closed off for this fun event. This year will boast 150 vendors and feature landscaping designs, gardening supplies, outdoor living items, plants, flowers, herbs and a whole lot more! Spring is in the air and this is a great way to start getting ideas and supplies for your summer gardening.

At this years event there will be a newly expanded Wine Garden that will be on the Town Green. This will be a new tasting area and feature some of Loudoun County’s best wineries and breweries. Another addition is the expansion of Cornwall Street. Cornwall Street has beautiful gardens as well as an historical church and mature landscaping making it the new “start street” of the festival.

Food, music, children’s entertainment, and crafts will be on hand for this fun 2 day event. For more information on the 22nd Annual Flower and Garden show in Leesburg, VA. head to:

www.flowerandgarden.org

Until next time….

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