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Real Estate Summer 2017

Seniors Face Pricing Out Alone As City Stalls on Housing Plans

by Matt Delaney

SUMMER 2017 | PAGE 13

Falls Church News-Press

A quiet conflict is bubbling underneath the surface of Falls Church’s small-town civility. Long-term, and occasionally, lifetime residents are entering old age and finding themselves pinched by the City’s escalating fiscal demands that run counter to these seniors’ often static budgets. To both the seniors experiencing the increased financial pressure and to the City government aiming to assist them, affordable housing and tax relief resolutions may be clear, but the path to get there is far from it. That resolution is simple: help

keep seniors in Falls Church. It works in the favor of the elderly citizens who intend to spend their remaining years in the community they helped build and the City has no objection to that. Diversifying the tax base among residents of varying age groups and economic statuses is preferred as it keeps Falls Church appealing to a range of people. The City’s tax relief and deferment programs are a go-to option to take the edge off expenses for seniors. However, deferring can induce anxiety among residents who view the growing pot of back taxes as an unpaid bill (with interest), and relief programs can’t afford to be as generous as other

jurisdictions due to Falls Church’s smaller population. In short, the programs do aid seniors, but they aren’t the cure. A true remedy comes from a top-to-bottom affordable housing structure, though the steps taken to achieve such a development have received lukewarm support at best. The clock is ticking for all residents who fall below the City’s Area Median Income, especially the seniors who feel they’re dwelling on borrowed time. “Falls Church is such a highend place that [the City Council] doesn’t stop to think about lower income people who just barely make it from month to month,” Ruth Kaufman said. “There are

AN AFFORDABLE HOUSING complex for seniors in San Francisco, Cal. (Photo: Bridge Housing) good people that come from low income backgrounds and are trying to live on Social Security...or a pension, [but] the pension has to pay for medical needs, so anything left over is just nil.” Even seniors with means are feeling the burden. Jack Gordon is a transplant from San Francisco who’s owned a condo in the Broadway of Falls Church since 2010. The Bay Area’s high property values and taxes seemed to follow Gordon east as the financial upkeep between his new home

and his old one are near identical. Lydia Gorman and Lois Eister have lived in Falls Church since their twenties and have paid off their homes, making the City’s taxation more manageable for them than most. Still, both acknowledge that Falls Church has gone from a middle class settlement to an upper-middle class enclave that lacks the sociability and affordability it once did, specifically in terms of housing.

Continued on Page 14

INSIDE: Little City Loans Approved – A Lot page 17 | Tysons’ Residential Transformation page 18 | F.C. Home Sales #s pages 19–20


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PAGE 14 | SUMMER 2017


Remedy for Pricing Out? Fund Affordable Housing Projects Continued from Page 1

“I’ve seen no signs that affordable housing is possible,” said one senior who requested anonymity as their involvement in this story could spark disputes with their landlord. “I’ve told a couple of people on the City Council that there are big demographic problems developing right now for housing people over 55. It’s really a crisis because we don’t know what to do.” This challenge isn’t exclusive to Falls Church. It’s been a growing problem throughout the U.S. for the last decade as Baby Boomers have reached retirement age and began going on fixed incomes. But what is unique to the City is its tight space available to build an affordable housing project and the public aversion to the ripple effect they fear it would have on surrounding property values. Currently, the City offers over 100 Affordable Dwelling Units (ADU’s) sprinkled throughout new and old developments in Falls Church with plans to add 150 more units by 2022. City Housing Program Analyst, Dana Lewis, explains that, while help-

ful, ADU’s aren’t a permanent solution to affordable housing as they are limited in supply and eventually time out. The notion of an affordable housing complex leaves residents aghast as stable development costs aren’t covered alone by the rents of would-be tenants, putting the onus on other residents to help bridge the gap. Asking residents to willingly up their tax load while potentially risking value on their homes is a tall order, which is why the City’s focused on commercially developing the area in order cajole taxfatigued citizens into keeping their wallets open. “We know that the costs of government go up over time. So you either tax people more or you grow the pie — more revenue from other sources,” Commissioner of Revenue Tom Clinton told the News-Press. “That’s what the encouragement of mixed-use is [attempting], to get more money from our tax base. Now, we’re only 2.3 square miles. We don’t have whole corridors we can revitalize like Fairfax County...[They] can make a mistake here or there; we can’t. With these projects, it is important that they appease the neighbors and generate additional

revenue over their service cost.” Some residents perceive the City’s development direction is more reactive than proactive, where the City bends to developers’ demands rather than having developers abide by pre-ordained guidelines. But Clinton contends that to win over developers in a competitive market and shed a reputation of being unfriendly toward business, Falls Church has to grant exceptions to developers so that the City can remain relevant in a commercial sense. As time wears on and as the commercial investments mature, the dividends are paid back to the community. In fact, the City has already witnessed returns and facilitated tax dispersion from its recent economic development. Yet some older residents fear it’s not unfolding fast enough and current trends present serious roadblocks to the City’s end goals. Working-age professionals’ infatuation with mobility can make Falls Church into a pit stop until their children get an education. Furthermore, the growing influence of online retail and the propensity to work from home threaten to undercut prospective commercial and office develop-

SERVICES FOR SENIORS, such as Bingo at the Community Center, are exemplary for citizens in Falls Church. But if affordable housing options don’t become concrete soon, seniors could be playing their last game within City limits. (P����: N���-P����) ment in the future, challenging the economic outlook for the City and feeding a higher resident turnover rate. For seniors relying on bonds with long-time neighbors to help champion the cause for affordable housing, a more transient citizenry puts their interests in jeopardy. “We have some people that are very passionate for affordable housing, and then you have other people that probably won’t admit it, but don’t feel like subsidiz-

ing it,” Clinton continued. “It’s like any [public good] – it costs money and someone’s got to pay for it.” The path to a satisfactory resolution continues to be out of reach. Ideally, commercial development will boom with revenue, lessen the tax burden on all residents and make people more willing to pony up for affordable housing. But the current situation isn’t remotely ideal. Just ask the seniors.


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SUMMER 2017 | PAGE 15


Every Home Has A Story To Tell. Ken Trotter Can Tell Yours. Ken’s unique ability to tell a home’s story has resulted in his listings being featured in The Washington Post, Washington Business Journal, Curbed DC, and right here in the Falls Church News Press. A former litigating attorney, he has sold some of the highest priced listings in Falls Church over the last several years. Ken is a member of the Falls Church City Chamber of Commerce, past sponsor of the Tinner Hill Blues Festival, and loves living and working in the Falls Church community.

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PAGE 16 | SUMMER 2017

R EA L E STATE A Falls Church News-Press Advertorial


Meet Falls Church’s Real Estate Experts B������ E����, L��� � F�����

Bethany is a hard-working, ethical and detail-oriented market leader in real estate. She serves all of NOVA and is now licensed in D.C. Bethany is a full-time real estate agent who will communicate with you and listen to you. Throughout the entire process, she will deal with any hiccups while valuing your input. From your first meeting until closing, Bethany will ensure your experience is enjoyable and seamless. Bethany’s goal is to build a long-term relationship with her clients so she can help you, your friends and your family, for years to come. When you are ready to buy, sell, invest, move up or downsize, contact Bethany. Her expertise and experience will help guide you through the complexities of the real estate market.

Bethany Ellis, Long & Foster, McLean Sales Office, 1355 Beverly Road, Suite 109, McLean, VA 22101 703-307-7003 •

M������ K���, M�E������� A��������� Falls Church City is my family’s home, and I have had the privilege of being a REALTOR here since 1970. My husband Art and I raised our children here and I’m delighted that my daughter Karin Kaye Morrison joined us in the business. I remain as passionate about serving the needs of my clients today as I was the day I started. And that’s because it’s not just about selling homes — it’s about selling the unmatched quality of life we have in Falls Church and being a committed member of the community. I served on the Falls Church City Historic Commission and the BIE, I was a founding member of the Friends of Cherry Hill, and am president of Historic Falls Church. For years I served on the Mt. Daniel Library Committee putting on Book Fairs featuring famous children’s book authors. I love Falls Church, and the fact that I have had the opportunity to serve many of my clients, and their children, multiple times is the strongest testimony that I have the knowledge and the marketing and negotiating skills to assure your smooth home buying or selling experience. It has been my privilege to have sold more real estate in The City than anyone. There is no substitute for experience and passion.

Merelyn Kaye, McEnearney Associates 1320 Old Chain Bridge Rd., Suite 350, McLean, VA 22101 703-362-1112 •

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 Vice Chair of the Housing Commission, 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, North Virginia Magazine, and for the 5th consecutive year, has been voted Best Real Estate Agent 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 13 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 •

L����� M�����, RE/MAX West End Louise Molton is the Broker/Owner of RE/MAX West End, a boutique firm that specializes in Falls Church City and the surrounding areas. Having lived in Falls Church City for more than thirty years and basing her real estate business here for the last decade, Louise inherently understands the specific needs of buyers and sellers moving in and out of the community. RE/MAX West End’s roster of outstanding agents with deep community ties enables us to keep ahead of our highly competitive market, with information on homes not currently listed and an ongoing database of buyers who want to move into the City. Our office is conveniently located next to the Hilton Hotel on West Broad; stop on by anytime for a current market update or for assistance with any of your real estate needs! We are also happy to provide our office as a community meeting place or drop off center for local charities; if you have a request please email the details to so we can coordinate!

Louise Molton, Broker/Owner of RE/MAX West End 710 West Broad St., Falls Church, VA 22046 703-244-1992 •

C���� S����, K����� W������� A Falls Church REALTOR and resident, Colin has specialized in residential real estate throughout Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. since 2007. With many years of experience as a Graphic Designer and in a leadership role in 4 and 5 Star hotel environments, Colin brought a firm grasp on high level proactive client care, and an understanding of design and aesthetics. Skills that have proved indispensable in preparing homes for sale, preparing marketing plans to generate the best results possible for home sellers, and in working hand in hand with his

A Falls Church News-Press Advertorial

clients along the way. In a time when many homes sell in the first or second weekend it can be tempting to sit back and allow the market to do most of the work. It is Colin’s belief that, even in this environment, a carefully prepared home, a carefully crafted marketing plan, and a hands on marketing launch can still make a notable difference to a home seller’s bottom line. As marketing best practices have changed over the years, Colin has tracked with these changes, adding a higher quality of photos and videos for selling clients and adapting online marketing approaches accordingly. EcoBroker® certified, Colin is passionate about the “Green Home” and energy efficiency movement. He also looks forward to doing more volunteering in “The Little City” with his wife and four kids now that the kids are a bit older! Keep an eye out for Colin and his crew around town, this summer they’ll be a convoy of bicycles and dangling swim towels! Please do say hello! Colin Storm, Keller Williams Realty Falls Church 105 West Broad Street, Suite 200, Falls Church, VA 22046 (c) 703-638-9144 • (o) 703-533-5300 •

K�� T������, TTR S������’� I������������ R����� When you have a home to sell, give yourself the advantage of working with a Top Selling Agent who has strong ties to the Falls Church community. Ken is among the Top Tier of Falls Church real estate professionals, having sold Falls Church’s most expensive residential sale in 2016 at $2.05 million and second most expensive residential sale in 2015 at $1.75 million (based on data provided by MRIS). With more than 20 years experience in the real estate and legal industries, Ken believes in raising the bar in every transaction to deliver only exceptional service and top results. Due to his custom marketing plans, Ken and his listings have been featured in our hometown favorite, the FCNP, 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. Drawing from his experience as a former litigating attorney, Ken believes in making his client’s interest his sole focus in any transaction and embraces his role as a Trusted Advisor and Advocate for his clients. With a deep understanding of the local real estate market and community, Ken develops a custom marketing plan for each of his listings. Ken has access to exclusive high-end advertising that spans from hyper-local to international audiences. If you are selling your home, you deserve to work with the Top Selling Agent. So, contact Ken who knows how to sell your most valuable asset.

Ken Trotter, J.D., Realtor,

TTR Sotheby’s International Realty 703-863-0650 (c) 745-1212 (o);



SUMMER 2017 | PAGE 17

Falls Church Loan Approval Rate is Highest in Virginia



Falls Church has the highest percentage rate of mortgage loans approved in Virginia, concludes New York financial technology firm, SmartAsset. Almost three out of every four (74 percent) submitted loan applications in Falls Church are approved, compared to Virginia and national averages of about six of every ten loans (60 percent) okayed by mortgage lenders Local lenders and real estate agents weighed in on the reasons for the Little City’s success and top ranking. “Falls Church has very sophisticated buyers,” said Keith Brown from Intercoastal Mortgage who’s been making home loans here for more than 20 years. In Falls Church, Brown finds “a much higher qualified buyer than what you see in other areas.”

According to Brown, Falls Church buyers are often repeat buyers who have money to put down on a house, which is important to lenders. First time home buyers without as much cash for a down payment are more likely to go out to Prince William and Loudoun counties which have better affordability and larger inventories. Amit Kaim, a lender for 16 years with George Mason Mortgage, agrees with Brown. Kaim noted that some condominium buyers in Falls Church come from million dollar homes which they have sold to downsize and move to properties worth between $600,000 to $700,000. From the sale of their bigger houses, these buyers may carry lots of cash which make them more attractive to lenders. Falls Church buyers often have dual incomes, high credit scores and lower debt to income ratios

than other localities, which signals a “go” to lenders. It’s also a matter of supply and demand. When there are multiple offers, a seller can pick and choose the strongest buyer which will be more appealing to a lender. Brown said multiple offers, which can be separated by only a few thousand dollars, are common in Falls Church and give sellers opportunities to be selective when choosing the best financially qualified buyer. Conversely, sellers in Springfield face more competition with larger house inventories and often only one offer to consider. Buyers in those localities are pretty well qualified, but there is more fallout with loans simply because there are not as many buyers. “Definitely, there’s a difference” and higher loan approvals in Falls Church, Arlington and McLean when comparing them

to Prince William and Loudoun counties Like Brown, Kaim attributes the high approvals loans in Falls Church to the strength of buyers who want to live here for the strong schools and proximity to Washington, D.C. Government jobs make a difference in incomes and make them noticeably more attractive to lenders. Neither Brown nor Kaim see much difference in loans approved in Fairfax or Arlington compared to Falls Church. (In its most recent analysis, SmartAsset says Arlington placed fifth in Virginia in percentage of loans approved at 70.98 percent and Alexandria, sixth at 70.84 percent). Buyers in Arlington “are just as qualified as buyers in Falls Church,” Kaim said, although you see more tear-downs in Arlington. Lot sizes are small in both places with little wiggle room for expansion.

Louise Molton is the principal broker and owner of Re/Max West End in Falls Church who described reasons for the high number of approved loans in a written statement: “First of all, Falls Church City is very small and it’s predominantly a neighborhood more than a city [which] attracts government and international families that are financially secure, and are coming here to work in good jobs in Washington DC.” These buyers seek “a nice community and schools convenient to D.C. and nearby job hubs and Falls Church is perfectly located.” Northern Virginia is “a very competitive real estate market and lending marketplace.” According to Molton, real estate agents do their homework to avoid problems that occur down the road, such as a loan falling through. Cathy Poungmalai of Frankly Real Estate has never had a preapproved loan for a Falls Church property rejected for a mortgage loan. She’s been selling homes in Falls Church for 15 years and credits Falls Church’s “small town feel” where students are within walking distance to school as a main draw. Plus, the proximity to the Washington-Old Dominion Trail and other regional landmarks is an advantage to living here. Most of Pougnmalai’s buyers are very well qualified, and to be sure, she has them answer a series of key questions designed to help determine their financial status which helps reduce mortgage fallthroughs. Another local lender is Burke & Herbert Bank whose director of products, sales and marketing, Terry Cole, submitted a statement: “As an active business in Falls Church we’re delighted to see reports that recognize the potential of the Falls Church community.” B & H’s mortgage team constantly tends to local customers and its criteria for making mortgage loan decisions is welldesigned to accommodate multiple markets. Unsurprisingly, the key factor in determining whether or not a candidate is worthy of being awarded a loan by B & H or any of the other institutions is based on the customer’s’ ability to repay the loan in full in a timely manner. “Our advice to anyone with a goal of buying a home is to pay attention to your finances. Solid money management habits are essential to building a strong credit history which is an important factor in loan decisions.”


PAGE 18 | SUMMER 2017

Tysons Corner


Residential Appeal Eludes Area’s Commerical Hub

by Orrin Konheim

Falls Church News-Press

Tysons Corner has long held a reputation as Northern Virginia’s most vibrant commercial and job hub while lagging behind in residential growth. A 2010 initiative for mixed-use growth from the Fairfax Office of Community Revitalization (OCR), however, is finally starting to come to fruition and changing the face of Tysons Corner. Since 2010, 27 major rezoning applications have been approved under the plan covering nearly 3.6 million square feet and 3,239 domestic units. This is part of the Comprehensive Plan Amendment adopted by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in 2010 in anticipation of the Metro Silver Line’s 2014 opening. “We wanted to add density in support of rail, but we wanted it to be more of a mixed-use environment,” said Fairfax OCR Director Barbara Byron. As of July 2016, the Fairfax OCR estimated that Tysons has the capacity to support 21,000 and up to 88,000 employees. By 2030, OCR projects the population to increase to 44,000, employment capacity to increase by 59 percent from 2010’s estimates. The plan is intended to oversee progress until the year 2050. In 1961, when the plans for Tysons Corner Mall were first submitted, the area was a rural crossroads (of Routes 7 and 123) marked by an ESSO gas station and peach orchards. Since Tysons Corner was built in 1968 and the traffic along those roads became augmented through the completion of the Capital Beltway in 1964, the neighborhood’s rapid growth gained national attention. In 1991, Joel Garreau’s seminal urban policy book “Edge City” posited Tysons Corner as a new type of city with traditionally suburban roots driven by retail and office space. Garreau claimed that if Tysons Corner were a city, it would be one of the biggest in the nation in terms of office capacity. Additionally, the Washington Post reported in 2011 that Tysons had more office space than the metropolitan areas of San Antonio and Jacksonville, Florida (America’s 7th and 11th largest cities respectively). “Literally a rural intersection as recently as mid 20th century, today’s near incomprehensible assembly of autonomous shop-

ATTRACTING BUSINESSES AND PROFESSIONALS has never been the problem for Tysons Corner, a booming commercial center in Northern Virginia. Instead, it’s getting those same people to buy into the residential units, like the Adaire Apartments picutred here, that are starting to occupy space in the area along with the established office and retail buildings. (Photo: Adaire Tysons) ping centers and office parks (and recent demand for housing) represents in gross amount of built space the 13th largest commercial center in the nation,“ read the syllabus to a 2006 Harvard University Graduate School of Design course focused exclusively on Tysons Corner. One of Garreau’s qualifiers for his definition of the “edge city” was having a bigger population during daytime than at night, which has long been an apt description for Tysons Corner which boasts five Fortune 500 Companies and attracts shoppers from all over the Mid-Atlantic. At the same time, the highdensity development hasn’t left a lot of room for the ingredients that fuel residential growth including cultural amenities, nightlife, convenience stores, supermarkets and walkability. “There’s a lot of world class office space that’s there, it’s very accessible for urban means whether via I-66 or the Beltway or the Metro,” said Dr. Mark White who serves as Deputy Director of George Mason University’s

Center for Regional Analysis. “But at night, if they want to sit and work where they live, they tend to want the amenities in an urban environment that’s walkable. The mall may have attractions but sometimes they want more than that.” Realtor Mimi Edmy Salazar of DiMaVi Homes agrees: ”In terms of millennials, a combination of the northern price point, congestion and there not being an abundance of fun activities will probably be factors they would deem not appealing in considering calling Tysons Corner home. But that could be changing.” If the experience of the newest residential towers are anything to go by, the potential for change has already arrived and looks promising. Alexandra Hartman, assistant community manager of The Adaire luxury apartments has reported astronomical growth. Her building, which opened in July of 2016 was budgeted with expectations to reach 95 percent occupancy within 18 months and they are on track to beat that with

an average pace of 31 move-ins per month. On the other side of Spring Hill Road, the Ascent Luxury Apartments, which opened in April 2014, is at 91 percent capacity for its 412 units. Dr. White describes the dynamic between developing commercial or residential spaces first as a “chicken and egg” scenario where it’s difficult to say whether the amenities create the residential allure or vice-versa. Either way, he predicts the region is changing in more ways than one. “If you have more residents moving there, presumably, they’re going to be demanding more services and as a result, there will presumably be more people there at night. You’ll get more retail broadly, then you’ll get some of your restaurants and bars and some of that sort that are likely to attract people,” said White. The area’s main obstacle appears to be traffic and walkability. The intersection of highways that made Tysons a logical point for a commercial hub 50 years ago has also made it undesirable

for residents because voluminous traffic makes pedestrian movement difficult. “While logistically appealing, the price point of the area may not justify the traffic hassles that come along with its proximity to the Beltway. The target demographic is more inclined to spend less on a house with more expansive property and live 20 minutes further from the congestion,” said Salazar. According to Byron, road improvements and pedestrian byways are created partially through development. When builders get zoning approval, they commit to a one-time contribution per square foot. And though residential development is booming, Byron advises that it will take time for the region to transform fully. “I was walking down King Street in Alexandria the other day and realizing ‘this is a transformation that took 30 or 40 years,’” said Byron. “This [work that’s being done in Tysons Corner] is the biggest transformation in the country and it takes time.”



Real Estate

SUMMER 2017 | PAGE 19

Top Falls Church Home Sales

M a r c h - M ay

#1 $1,721,290

#2 $1,610,000

#4 $1,540,000 #3 $1,550,000 Top 5 F.C. Home Sales March 1, 2017 – May 31, 2017 Address BR #1 2038 Stephanie Marrie Dr. 6 #2 2218 Tulip Dr. 6 #3 2237 Beacon Ln. 6 #4 3441 Gallows Rd. 6 #5 110 Lee St. 6


6 5 5 7 6

HB 1 1 1 1 1

List Price

$1,721,290 $1,610,000 $1,525,000 $1,599,999 $1,549,000

Sale Price

$1,721,290 $1,610,000 $1,550,000 $1,540,000 $1,507,000


22043 22046 22043 22042 22046

Date Sold 3/15/17 3/10/17 3/20/17 3/6/17 5/1/17

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

#5 $1,507,000


PAGE 20 | SUMMER 2017


Falls Church Area Housing Market — 1st Quarter 2017 Report Zip Code


Average Price

Number of Homes Sold

Average Days on Market


Falls Church City





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: 1Q ‘17 vs 1Q ‘16

Change in Average Home Price: 1Q ‘17 vs 1Q ‘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 Summer Real Estate Guide 2017

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