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RealFallEstate 2017

Understanding of Identity Assists F.C. as Neighbors are Taking Note

by Matt Delaney

FALL 2017 | PAGE 13

Falls Church News-Press

Physical identity is a key aspect of self awareness. To understand part of who you are, you first have to know what you look like. When it comes to any creating an identity of a geographical region, whether it be the City of Falls Church or its neighboring areas, it is often judged by the buildings that sprout up in its vicinity. Those developments embody not only a fiscal means to an end, but a people’s idea of their community. However, when dated developments outnumber newer ones, it’s difficult for people to latch onto a sense of progressive

uniformity that connects them – let alone feel their community is being pulled out of economic stagnation. “Creep, crawl, walk has always been my saying about revitalization,” Eileen Garnett, who was advised to start the Annandale Revitalization Committee back in 1984 from then-Mason District Supervisor Tom Davis, said. “[But] we’re still creeping.” Annandale provides a window into what the City would look like if development efforts hadn’t seen a significant uptick since the turn of the century. The region lays just south of the City of Falls Church, but resembles an older version of Falls Church proper that has been

washed over in its recent history. That is, it was more of cut through rather than a destination. The same could be said about neighboring Bailey’s Crossroads and Seven Corners to the east. Both areas have been more defined by the major transportation arteries they facilitate as opposed to the commercial establishments they house. There are exceptions: Annandale is widely known for its Korean cuisine, Bailey’s has the allure of its Skyline entities and Seven Corners’ many stores are anchored by an active Home Depot. But these high-achievers can’t uplift the area’s business sector in isolation and indicate why revitalization committees have

A REAR VIEW of the old Saab dealership, which is now occupied by The Lincoln at Tinner Hill mixed-use development. (Photo: Courtesy City of Falls Church)

labored for the past 30-odd years. Current Mason District Supervisor, Penny Gross, has focused on alleviating the commercial lag her province is experiencing, and done so with success. “If I look around and see the things we’ve done the past 22 years, it’s really quite amazing,” Gross said. “Land use is very active in Mason District. It would

be even more active if we kept track of the people that I’ve told to take a hike...We’ve got to have the right kind of development, it can’t be a fishing expedition.” Garnett sees things differently. A bond approved for revitalizing Annandale and other districts in 1988 wasn’t spent out until just

Continued on Page 14

INSIDE: Falls Church Stays Big By Going Small page 17 | Internet Hits Real Estate Business page 18 | F.C. Home Sales #s pages 19–20

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PAGE 14 | FALL 2017


Annandale & Others Aim to Move Past Revitalization Continued from Page 13

two years ago when trees were planted along a stretch of Columbia Pike. To her, that signaled that the wheels of progress were turning too slowly. Exacerbating this is a media blindspot that has hovered over the area since the Springfield-based Fairfax Journal went out of business in 2001, making Annandale somewhat invisible to outsiders. Though both Garnett and Gross agree that Metro stations outside of walking distance is another contributing factor to the elusiveness of commercial prospects. In the City, the presence of two Metro stops with the locality’s name attached has heightened its profile exponentially. The convenience has made developers more willing to stick their shovels in the dirt and open up shop here. Adding to that is the City’s intensive dedication to forming Small Area Plans that provide guidelines for developers while accommodating the citizens’ needs. So far, it’s been effective. Previous sites where the land was more valuable than the properties occupying it have been replaced. Namely, the Saab


dealership where The Lincoln at Tinner Hill now sits and the mixed-use Harris Teeter development that replaced a strip of shops, including Anthony’s Pizza. And while Gross has seen money walk out the door due to time lapses in Mason District, the City has worked to efficiently meet the demands of interested developers. “Delay costs money. It’s like a leak in your water pipes. You may not know it’s happening, but it’s not free,” Falls Church Director of Planning and Development Services Jim Snyder, said. “We recognize that delay is costly not only to the developers, but to the taxpayers. The longer the project takes to get through the system or to get built and ready and running, you’re not getting the tax revenue from that business.” Developments in the City have ruffled some residents’ feathers. It’s not as if people don’t want the developments — eight mixed-use developments profiled this year accrued a $3.8 million net revenue for the City, showing that they’re fulfilling their role. But the rate at which the City has endorsed development has taken some adjusting to. Falls Church was fairly averse to development

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“One thing about Falls Church is it’s a traditional community,” Snyder continued. “We’re a small and authentic city with a personality.” The solidarity in Falls Church’s identity has lent it a huge advantage in all aspects of its own revisioning. It created a plan, outlined where to focus its attention, and most of all, understands what its residents look for in their commercial exploits. A true identity is what Garnett is still seeking to create in


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Annandale. From her perspective, all it takes to get the community trending in that direction is to land one big project. But after plans for a hotel and a mixed-use development failed to materialize, momentum stalled. With multiple studies done on the area highlighting its strengths and weaknesses, the information is out there. The only thing missing is the willingness to sell its potential. Or, as Garnett puts it, “Somebody needs to get out there and work it.”


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PAGE 16 | FALL 2017

A Falls Church News-Press Advertorial


Me et Fa l l s Ch u rch’s Re a l Es t ate E xpert s G�������� C��������, A���� R��� E�����, LLC.

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T��� M�K�����, K����� W������� As a resident of the Little City for nearly two decades, Tori believes a sense of community requires active participation, and she leads by example. She actively supports: Falls Church City Schools, Business in Education, Falls Church Education Foundation, Falls Church Chamber of Commerce, FIRSTFriday/Art-a-Lot, Tinner Hill Blues Festival, Falls Church Arts, and Taste of Falls Church. Tori is also Housing Commissioner, a member of Business in Education, named Pillar of the Community by the Falls Church Chamber, named one of the Top Producing Real Estate Agents by Washingtonian Magazine, Northern Virginia Magazine, and for five consecutive years, has been voted Best Real Estate Agent, and for 2017 has been voted Best Real Estate Group in the Falls Church News-Press ‘Best of Falls Church.’ As a tireless Falls Church advocate, Tori has helped countless families buy and sell homes over the past 14 years. Tori puts her heart and soul into the Falls Church community and gets so much in return. When you’re ready to buy or sell your home, call Tori, your Falls Church expert. Tori McKinney, ROCK STAR Realty, Keller Williams Realty 2101 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22201 • 703-867-8674 •

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K�� T������, TTR S������’� I������������ R����� When you have a home to sell, give yourself the advantage of working with a highly accomplished agent who has strong ties to the Falls Church community. With more than 20 years experience in the real estate and legal professions, Ken believes in raising the bar in every transaction to deliver only exceptional service and results. Due to his custom marketing plans, Ken’s listings have benefited from features in our hometown favorite, the News-Press, as well as The Washington Post, Washington Business Journal, Curbed DC, and DC Magazine. Ken has lived in Falls Church for more than a decade and is an active member of the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce, a corporate sponsor of the Creative Cauldron, and past sponsor of the Tinner Hills Blues Festival. Prior to becoming a top producing Realtor®, Ken was a successful litigation attorney in Washington, DC, and draws frequently from that experience in his real estate career, saying: “The skills to be a successful realtor are the same skills it takes to be a successful lawyer. I focus on making my clients’ interests my sole priority and zealously strive to achieve the best results for the client.” With a deep understanding of the local real estate market and community, Ken develops a custom marketing plan for each of his listings, focusing on the unique qualities of each home. Every home has a story to tell, and Ken has an extraordinary talent for telling them. Ken Trotter, J.D., Realtor, TTR Sotheby’s International Realty 703-863-0650 (c) 745-1212 (o);

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FALL 2017 | PAGE 17

Little City Wins Big By Keeping Business Small



What’s bad for Arlington is good for Falls Church since what comes down in Arlington finds its way to Falls Church. At least, when it comes to commercial tenants. “My phone starts ringing,” said Treena Rinaldi, at her family’s longstanding real estate firm, Korte Realty, on West Broad Street. Her mother, Katreen Korte, started the firm back in 1965 and was scared to death by it all. Now a 30-year veteran in the industry, Rinaldi said she learned a lot about the business from her mom, who died in 2008. “Arlington is development crazy; has been for years,” Rinaldi said, with the after effects felt in Falls Church. “We don’t get the ‘big box’ retailer or big office user in Falls Church, but smaller tenants arrive.” On its website, the Falls Church’s Economic Development Office lists commercial properties for sale or lease, taken from commercial databases and brokers. Sizes range from an office space of 144 square feet up to 7,903 square feet, and retail from 485

–11,223 square feet. Big tenants go to much larger buildings, like the ones at Tysons where the office market is about the same as Falls Church’s. Not great, said Joe Wetzel who has been selling, leasing and developing Falls Church property since 2000. Challenging Falls Church office building owners “is the proximity to other available space. Just up in Tysons, there is tons of office space.” Falls Church has spaces which can be carved up in smaller chunks. Tysons’ landlords are “less willing to try [leasing with] independent start-ups,” Wetzel said. “You won’t find any IBMs here,” Wetzel said. That’s not necessarily a problem for the City or its commercial prospects. In his “State of the City” interview with the News-Press in August, Mayor David Tarter said, “We’re a different market...We don’t want to be Tysons Corner.” Meanwhile, retail has its own challenges and pressures from the Internet, said Dean Neiman of Renaud Consulting, a retail property marketer. “I would say the City doesn’t

get as many arrivals of newcomers as it does businesses which need to expand or relocate,” Neiman said. “We just did a deal at George Mason Square [at the corner of Washington and Broad] with a kitchen and bath design center and Keller-Williams Realty expanded there.” Neiman said the kitchen designers needed larger quarters. Compared to year ago, Neiman says leasing is holding pretty steady. Landlords are willing to negotiate. It all depends upon the tenant’s strength and what a tenant wants for build-out of space or what the landlord needs to do to make the space habitable for the tenant’s business. Wetzel blames most of retailing’s downtrend on online shopping, “You can buy anything from a tea bag to toilet paper to a meal that comes in a box on the Internet and have it shipped to your house. You don’t have to get up and go out and shop.” Marketing physical goods has been decimated by the web, Wetzel said. But products which can’t be delivered on a truck – like salons and barbers – are still sold in storefronts. Neiman agreed. “Retail space has a lot of chal-

TREENA RINDALDI with her co-worker, Mostafa Shah.


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lenges and pressures from the Internet,” he said. Shoppers hunting for durable goods – products which last three years or more – like washing machines, dishwashers and certain sporting goods, go to “big boxes” to buy them. Jarnell Swecker is the vice president of marketing for Rappaport which leases retail space at The Lincoln at Tinner Hill. She thinks the new Harris Teeter on West Broad and the deals her company brokered with Target coming next March to The Lincoln and with Aldi at Tower Square, set for

2019, indicate increased interest in Falls Church. Back in August, Tarter stated that Falls Church has tried to dictate development to make it financially creative to the City and improve residents’ quality of life. According to Rinaldi, “The backbone of our country is small business. Falls Church has a lot to offer: It’s like a magnet for small businesses. We do have reasonable prices, have spaces which are in pretty good condition and it’s easy to talk to city staff and get permits. Owners are nearby.”


PAGE 18 | FALL 2017



Internet’s Entry Into Real Estate Provides Agents New Challenge by Matt Delaney

Falls Church News-Press

The advent of the internet has contributed to the upheaval of multiple industries with an efficiency and expediency unlike any creation before it. That is, unless you consider the real estate business. Real estate agents and their brokerages have weathered the storm of technological innovation that’s come in the form of websites such as Zillow and Redfin fairly well. What’s setting these industries apart is the significance of a well-rounded agent and, more importantly, having a trained hand helping guide the most expensive purchase in a person’s their life. “I don’t see the internet as any threat at all,” Shaun Murphy, an agent from RE/ MAX in Alexandria said. “Obviously, the internet has had a tremendous impact on real estate...everyone goes online to

search for homes, but someone can’t just click a button to buy a house. There’s a lot more to it, and that’s why you need a professional involved.” Good health as a business and compensation for agents has persisted despite predictions from a decade ago that foretold otherwise. As the internet became more sophisticated early in the 21st century, experts believed the real estate business would eventually succumb to the pressures of innovation. Similar to how travel agents became less important with websites like Expedia, the taxi business has butted heads with mobile apps like Uber and Lyft, and Amazon has thwarted not only bookstores but traditional retail as a whole, homebuying was next on the list. And the sacred cow of a six-percent commission that agents received from facilitating a transaction would shrink to the point of

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REDFIN brings a unique element to real estate industry. While Zillow is a real estate database that offers up available listings to its users, Redfin serves as an actual real estate company and a brokerage. Both now have access to Mulitple Listing Services to shore up a shared weakness they once had as well. (Photo: TechCrunch)

unsustainability and ultimately make them irrelevant. Fast forward to the present, and most agents are sitting pretty with their commissions intact. “We’re talking about so much money when people buy a house and it’s such a personal decision,” Louise Moulton of Falls Church’s RE/MAX West End said, who believes the internet’s presence has actually caused real estate agents to up their game. “It’s not a ride to the [Capital One Center] or a trip to Mexico, it’s much more personal and requires personal service.” Even direct for-sale-by-owner transactions, known as FSBO (pronounced “fizz-bo”) by those in the industry, have decreased as the internet has become more entrenched in society. A 2012 study titled, “Do Real Estate Brokers Add Value When Listing Services Are Unbundled?” found that using a broker reduces a sale price by six to eight percent. However, according to Will Rodgers from Keller Williams Realty, that percentage may betrue, but going it alone typically costs sellers 10 percent off their transaction since they lack the savvy that most brokerages provide. That correlates with National Association of Realtors finding in 2013 that twenty years ago, about 20 percent of home sales were FSBO, but that has reduced to eight percent today. 2013 that twenty years ago, about 20 percent of home sales were FSBO, but that has reduced to eight percent today. While Rodgers may agree that FSBO transactions are better suited with the help of an agent, he’s not sold that agent commissions are untouchable. “They’re going down. It used to be gold standard of six to seven percent, and that’s not the case anymore,” Rodgers said. “It’s usually four and a half to five and a half percent now.” But Rodgers attributed that more to the lower cost of marketing than to a perceived lack of need in the real estate agents. Online advertising is far cheaper than using print, and as realtors have

favored getting the word out over the internet more and more, it’s only fair to charge less considering they’re spending less of their money to make it happen. Redfin and Zillow’s presence in the real estate industry have provided realtors a challenge, though not in the manner intended. The sites used to list information from irregularly updated public records rather than the multiple listing services (MLS) that most realtors pay dues toward. They also promote “premier agents” on their website, though the agents themselves aren’t necessarily the most qualified since they are the most willing to pay for that title. It’s bred an extra sliver of distrust between prospective buyers and sellers, but the websites are doing their part to untangle that notion. Zillow and Redfin now receive all their information from MLS, just as realtors do, ensuring that customers won’t be blindsided by misinformation that used to be more prevalent. And even though top bidders do receive more promotion on the sites, they aim to include as many options as possible for their visitors. “Zillow’s entire goal is to empower people with information and make the real estate process more transparent. There are hundreds of thousands of agents who have a free Zillow profile that don’t spend any money with us,” Amanda Woolley, a Zillow spokeswoman, said via e-mail. “They can still garner reviews and use Zillow as part of their marketing efforts and connect with buyers and sellers for free. Additionally, listing agents are featured for free on all their listings. Our goal is to help people find a home, and then connect with a real estate professional to help them with the transaction, whether they are a Premier Agent or not.” The real estate landscape is evolving rapidly with websites. How effective it will be at its highest point remains to be seen, but with the modifications made to websites already, the human touch could face some stiff competition in the years to come.



FALL 2017 | PAGE 19

Real Estate

Top Falls Church Home Sales

J u n e - Au g u s t

#1 $1,656,360

#2 $1,605,000

#4 $1,596,000 #3 $1,600,000 Top 5 F.C. Home Sales June 1, 2017 – August 31, 2017 Address #1 6800 Montour Dr. #2 229 Midvale St. #3 305 Lee St. N. #4 6471 33rd St . #5 6444 Lakeview Dr


5 5 5 6 4


5 4 4 5 3

HB 1 1 1 1 1

List Price

$1,749,996 $1,699,000 $1,600,000 $1,645,000 $1,649,000

Sale Price

$1,656,360 $1,605,000 $1,600,000 $1,596,000 $1,525,000


22043 22046 22046 22043 22041

Date Sold 8/16/17 8/17/17 8/30/17 8/1/17 8/21/17

Source: MRIS, Inc.; Photos: MRIS, Falls Church News-Press

#5 $1,525,000


PAGE 20 | FALL 2017


Falls Church Area Housing Market — 2nd Quarter 2017 Report Zip Code


Average Price

Number of Homes Sold

Average Days on Market


Falls Church City

$809, 924




Bailey’s Crossroads





Sleepy Hollow





Pimmit Hills





Lake Barcroft




Home Sales Vs. 1 Year Ago

Home Prices Vs. 1 Year Ago

Change in # of Homes Sold: 2Q ‘17 vs 2Q ‘16

Change in Average Home Price: 2Q ‘17 vs 2Q ‘16


Change in Falls Church City (22046)


Change in Falls Church City (22046)


Change in Bailey’s X-roads (22041)


Change in Bailey’s X-roads (22041)


Change in Sleepy Hollow (22042)


Change in Sleepy Hollow (22042)


Change in Pimmit Hills (22043)


Change in Pimmit Hills (22043)


Change in Lake Barcroft (22044)


Change in Lake Barcroft (22044)

Source: Metropolitan Regional Information Systems, Inc. Copyright © 2017 Metropolitan Regional Information Systems, Inc.

Falls Church News-Press Fall Real Estate Guide 2017  

Falls Church News-Press Fall Real Estate Guide 2017