Arlington Loan Programs

Question: Are there any loan programs available to people buying a home in Arlington?

Answer: October is Housing Month in Arlington which means some nice County programs including the annual Live In Arlington Info Fair which provides a ton of great information and education on fair and affordable housing in the County.

To support affordable housing, Arlington offers four programs for moderate-income homebuyers that I’ll highlight below.

Most Popular: Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA) Community Homeownership Revitalization Program (CHRP)
  • Reduces your interest rate on a VHDA loan by 1%
  • Household income must be 120% or less of the Area Median Income (AMI)
  • Purchase must be in one of three Arlington County zip codes: 22203, 22204, 22206
  • Must be a first-time homebuyer
  • Can be combined with other programs
  • Programs ends when funds run out each year. $5M was allocated in 2019 and ran out in September. Program will begin again in 2020 with new funding.
Most Unique: Moderate Income Purchase Assistance Program (MIPAP)
  • Interest-free loan up to 25% of the purchase price to cover down payments, closing costs, rate buy-downs, etc
  • Owner pays back loan, interest-free, plus 25% of equity at time of a sale or refinance. If no equity or negative equity, only the original loan is due. This incentivizes owners to refinance once they can afford the home on their own and recycle the funds back to the County to expand the program.
  • MIPAP has only been used about ten times in the last two years, representing 50% of the program’s applicants
  • Household income must be 80% or less of the Area Median Income (AMI) and other loan/credit limits exist
  • Must be a first-time homebuyer or no interest in property within the last three year
Live Where You Work: Arlington County Employee Program (LINK)
  • Forgivable loan for Arlington County employees up to $6,600 (FY2020), becomes a grant after three years and does not have to be paid back
  • Can be used for down payment and/or closing costs and combined with other programs
  • No income limits or other restrictions
  • Also meant for teachers, but currently no budget allocated to it in FY20
Reduced Rate Homeownership: Affordable Dwelling Units (ADUs)
  • Housing units required to maintain specific reduced-price levels based on affordability standards for moderate income buyers
  • Buyers must register to qualify for ADUs and, once registered, will be notified when ADUs come up for sale. If multiple buyers are interested in purchasing an available ADU, there is a priority drawing.
  • Developers can include ADUs in new construction as a community benefit. Recent examples include Key & Nash (four two-bedrooms) in Rosslyn and Carver Place (six three-bedrooms) off Columbia Pike (Pike East)
  • Resale properties are periodically for sale, but there are none currently
  • Arlington currently has 55 ADUs in its portfolio
  • Arlington lender requirements mean buyers have access to a limited set of lenders and should inquire with their lender if they meet the portfolio requirements

If you have questions about any of these programs or would like to explore how they fit into your purchase strategy, feel free to email me at Eli@EliResidential.com.

Condo Smoking Ban Panel Next Week

Due to the amount of interest I’ve gotten over the last few years on smoking bans in condos, and the number of buildings currently trying to ban smoking, I decided to organize a panel discussion/information session on it.

Next Tuesday October 15th from 7-8:30PM I’m hosting four Board/Committee members who led the smoking ban effort in their respective (Arlington) buildings to share their approach, lessons learned, and more. We will also be joined by the Northern Virginia Regional Manager for Virginia’s Tobacco Control Program.

You do not have to be Arlington-based to attend. If you can’t make it in person, I plan on broadcasting on Facebook Live and having the recording available afterwards for anybody who wants to watch.

If you’d like to attend or to view the live or recorded version, please email me at Eli@EliResidential.com.

New Condo Building, 2000 Clarendon, Banning Smoking

Question: Are there any smoke-free condo buildings in Arlington?

Answer: There is overwhelming support amongst condo owners in Arlington and the DC Metro to ban smoking in condo buildings, including within individual units and balconies. The problem is that it requires a two-thirds (or more) vote in all existing condo buildings to change the by-laws to ban smoking completely and only a handful of buildings have successfully done so.

2000 Clarendon To Be Smoke-Free, LEED Certified

I’d like to recognize The Bush Companies for making 2000 Clarendon, an 87-unit condo building currently under construction in the Courthouse neighborhood, for being the first developer in Arlington to ban smoking outright in the original by-laws. Per the by-laws:

“Smoking is prohibited inside the Condominium building. Smoking is prohibited outside the Condominium building except in designated smoking areas located at least 25 feet from all entries, outdoor air intakes, and operable windows. The no-smoking policy applies to spaces outside the property line used for business purposes.”

In addition to being smoke-free, 2000 Clarendon will also be a LEED Certified “green” building.

There is real demand in the Arlington condo market for smoke-free buildings and there will likely be multiple owners who choose 2000 Clarendon as their home because of the smoking ban. I believe that the decision by The Bush Companies to ban smoking will result in stronger sales and I expect more developers in Arlington and the surrounding DC Metro to follow suit.

On October 15th I’m hosting a panel and info session on smoking bans in existing condo buildings. If you are interested in attending or getting a recording of the meeting, please email me at Eli@EliResidential.com.

2000 Clarendon Sales Update

If you’re in the market for a condo in the Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor and aren’t aware of 2000 Clarendon, it’s because marketing has been very limited and nothing has been entered into the MLS yet (hopefully you saw my column introducing 2000 Clarendon in April). However, demand has been high enough without a full marketing push that over 50% of the units are already under contract.

The shift in demand within the Arlington condo market to larger units with 2+ bedrooms is evident at 2000 Clarendon, with impressive demand for their 2BR and 2BR+Den units and double-digit waiting lists. The 1BR+Den floor plans have been nearly as popular, but 1BR sales have lagged. I expect the 1BRs to move rather quickly once they’re entered into the MLS for broader distribution.

The developer is releasing units for sale by floor and to-date ten of the fourteen floors have been released with floors 9, 11, 13, and 14 yet to be offered. Some units on the upper floors are expected to have direct DC views.

If you’re interested in learning more about available units at 2000 Clarendon or other new condo development in Arlington or the DC Metro, feel free to reach out to me at Eli@EliResidential.com.

How To Know If A House Has “Good Bones”

Question: We’re looking for a house that needs to be completed remodeled, but want to make sure it has good bones. Do you have any tips on things to look for?

Answer: When I’m looking for a house with “good bones” I’m looking for a structurally sound house that offers a good canvass for updating to today’s standards. I’m cheating a bit this week and using a recent article written by Stephanie Dickens of BOWA, a local design-build firm that specializes in luxury renovations from kitchens to whole-home remodels. Below are some of the best tips from BOWA as well as some of my own:

Level Floors

A nice, level floor indicates good structural support. If you up look to where the ceiling and the wall meet, the corner crease should be fairly straight. If it looks wavy or dips down in the middle, the floor joists above are sagging and may need reinforcement.  You can also check for sagging or tilting by measuring the ceiling height at various points in the room. Some variation is normal, but it should not be off by more than 1” at any point.

Jump Around! (Jump Up, Jump Up, And Get Down!)

Now that you have House of Pain stuck in your head…Stand on your tiptoes then drop down hard on your heels. Do this at various points in the house to test the deflection in different areas. All wood framed floors are going to have some deflection, but you don’t want it to feel like your jumping on a trampoline. Too much bounce is an indicator of insufficient structural support.

Know Your Cracks

Sometimes structural issues reveal themselves in unexpected ways. Something as small as a crack in the drywall could be sign of larger structural issues. Straight, hairline cracks above openings or at joints, like the one pictured below to the left, are nothing to be alarmed about.  If you see jagged, diagonal cracks that are wider than 1/8”, like the one below to the right, the house may have settlement issues or insufficient framing.

Water Management

Water is a home’s worst enemy and poor water management can lead to water pooling against a home and getting into the cracks of the foundation, which can lead to structural deterioration over time. A musty smelling basement is a sign of poor water management. Look at where gutters drain – I often find that they’re dropping water right next to the house instead of sending it away. Look at the grading (slope of the yard) and if water is running towards the house, look for drainage systems. Sump pumps are nice, but they should be connected to a battery back-up in case power goes out.

Young At Heart

A house with newer core systems is not just a sign of good maintenance, but it’s a huge money-saver in renovations. Check on the age of the windows, roof, HVAC, water heater, plumbing, electrical, and main sewer/water lines. Any of these systems that are in the first half of their expected useful lifespan add tremendous value.

If you’re looking for a home with good bones that offers an efficient remodeling opportunity, feel free to reach out to me at Eli@EliResidential.com to schedule some time to me. Once you’ve found that home, or if you’d like to make updates to your current home, reach out to BOWA’s Caroline Goree at CarolineG@bowa.com if you’re looking for high-end design and remodeling services.

Is iBuying the Next Trend in Real Estate?

Question: What do you think about the iBuying trend in real estate? Have you seen an impact in Arlington?

Answer: iBuying offers homeowners a way to sell their home quickly without going to market, using a price generated by an Automated Valuation Model (AVM) like Zillow’s Zestimates. The big players are Opendoor, Offerpad, and Zillow but recently some well-known brokerages have joined the party including Redfin and Keller Williams.

At this time, none of the main players are offering iBuying in Arlington or the DC Metro. Currently, the largest iBuying market in the country is Phoenix with about 6% of transactions going through an iBuyer (half of those are with Opendoor).

How It Works

The process of iBuying is similar for each company and looks something like this:

  1. Homeowner submits a request for an offer and provides some basic information about their home (bedrooms, square footage, etc)
  2. iBuyer makes an initial offer on the home based on their AVM pricing algorithm
  3. If the owner likes the price, the iBuyer conducts a property inspection to determine condition and cost of repairs
  4. iBuyer makes a final offer given the property condition
  5. Owner can accept and close usually within 10-14 days

Advantages

  • Sell quickly
  • Sell as-is
  • No showings
  • No repairs or improvements
  • No contingencies that cause contract to void
  • No cost to get an offer

Disadvantages

  • Sale price likely below market value
  • “Service fees” usually range from 7-10% of the sale price, well above most commissions when using an agent
  • Still pay your normal closing costs (taxes, title fees, etc)
  • iBuyers not operating in most metro areas

When Does An iBuyer Make Sense?

There are all sorts of reasons a homeowner may value speed and convenience over price so iBuying exists for that market, but it should remain only a small percentage of the overall real estate transaction market. iBuying won’t always be the best option for somebody looking for speed and convenience, but with no cost and little effort to get an offer, it makes sense to at least see what an iBuyer is willing to pay.

If you’re in a market where iBuying exists (or when it eventually comes to Arlington), why wouldn’t you request an instant offer from an iBuyer and compare it to what your real estate agent thinks you can get on market? I know a broker in Texas who got more for his house from an iBuyer than he could get on the market because the AVM pricing algorithm over-valued his house.

Will iBuying Last?

I’m not sure how iBuyers will survive an economic downturn when they’re sitting on a huge amount of inventory that’s worth less than they paid for it. It’s a great business model in a hot market, but potentially devastating when the market turns.

Another flaw I see in the current model is that homeowners (like the broker in Texas I mentioned earlier) can take advantage of the process. An owner who does their homework, meeting with agents and getting iBuyer offers, will most likely only choose the iBuyer if they’re over-paying. That’s great for owners who can take advantage of it, but I’m not sure how that can be a sustainable business model.

An additional drawback is that iBuyers generally charge a fee of 7-10% of the purchase price, which is mostly attributed to the risks associated with buying based on an algorithm and a basic property inspection. If iBuyers can figure out how to reduce risk enough to cut this fee in half and sustain themselves through downturns, things will get interesting for the real estate industry. There have always been brokers and investors who specialize in “buy now” or instant offer programs, but what makes iBuying unique is the implementation of technology to determine pricing and to make the process more convenient, as well as the scale of operations. I think the longer-term solution is something that blends the convenience and scale of a well-funded tech company with the market knowledge of a local agent.

Are Appraisal Values Keeping Up With Sale Prices?

Question: Given the recent appreciate in real estate values, are you seeing more homes appraise for less than the sale price?

Answer: As we saw in last week’s column, the Arlington real estate market has appreciated rapidly over the last six months which increases the chances that an Appraiser cannot find past sales to support the price the buyer and seller have agreed to, thus increasing the amount of low appraisals in Arlington over the last six months (unfortunately there’s no data to back that up so it’s based on what I’ve seen and heard in the market). Generally, appraisal values lag behind actual market appreciation by a few months.

Banks Often Require Appraisals

If a buyer is getting a mortgage, the bank almost always requires a third-party appraisal to assess the property’s market value. While one can easily make the argument that the price the buyer and seller have agreed to is the market value, banks don’t look at it that way, hence the third-party appraisal.

Appraisals are largely based on comparable home sales over the last six months. It’s a common myth that Appraisers can only use sales from the last six months, but more recent sales are given more weight than sales 6+ months ago. Ultimately, it’s the Appraisers job to determine the market value of a home using the best available information.

Impact of a Low Appraisal

If the appraised value comes in at or above the purchase price, all is good in the eyes of the bank so things continue as planned (note: a higher appraised value has no impact on your assessed value for tax purposes).

If the appraised value is lower than the purchase price, the bank usually requires you to negotiate a reduced sale price to match the appraised value or put more money down to cover the difference between the sale price and appraised value, multiplied by your loan-to-value (LTV) ratio. In some cases, you can also change the type of loan you’re using to satisfy the bank.

The easiest way to calculate LTV is subtract your down payment percentage from 100%. In other words, if you’re putting 20% down, your LTV is 80%. If there’s a $10,000 difference between the sale price and appraised value, you’ll usually be required to bring an extra $8,000 ($10,000*.8) to the table.

All of this can change depending on your loan program and down payment, so it’s important to understand the impact a low appraisal will have on your deal prior to making an offer.

Protection Through An Appraisal Contingency

The Appraisal Contingency is one of the “Big Three” contingencies that are common to sales contracts in Northern Virginia. The Home Inspection and Financing Contingencies are the other two.

The Appraisal Contingency gives buyers an out, with a full return of their Deposit, in the event the appraisal is below the sale price and the seller is unwilling to reduce the sale price or the buyer is unwilling to make up the difference or change loan products.

If you include an Appraisal Contingency in your offer, it’s a good idea to ask your lender how long it will take to order and complete the appraisal so you can structure the contingency period around that timeline. Remember, shorter contingency periods are more attractive to sellers and longer periods generally favor the buyer.

When To Waive The Appraisal Contingency

Sometimes waiving an Appraisal Contingency is the right strategic decision when making an offer. If you’re competing against other offers, especially if they’re cash (no appraisal needed), you should talk with your agent and lender about the risk and reward of giving up this protection. In some cases, sellers will choose an offer with less risk (fewer or no contingencies) instead of the highest offer, especially when the sale price is well above recent comparable sales.

Removing the Appraisal Contingency altogether isn’t your only option either. There are ways to reduce the seller’s risk exposure, thus making your offer more competitive, while also limiting your risk exposure in the event of a really low appraisal.

Disputing a Low Appraisal

If you disagree with the appraised value, ask your lender about the dispute process. First review the appraisal report to understand what sales and details the Appraiser used to determine the value. The best chance you have at getting an appraisal adjustment is to provide the Appraiser with different sales that more accurately represent the subject property’s value, with an explanation.

Managing appraisal risk/contingencies is one of many strategic decisions you’ll make as a buyer or that you’ll have to assess as a seller. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me by email at Eli@EliResidential.com if you have any additional questions!

Opportunity Zones in Arlington

Question: How did the Opportunity Zone designation in the Nauck neighborhood come to fruition and what is the expected impact on the neighborhood?

Answer: Last year the US Treasury, with the help of each state, began designating underdeveloped or “economically-distressed” communities as Opportunity Zones (OZ) to encourage residential and commercial development by offering investors preferred tax treatment. There are currently over 8,000 designated OZs around the country and 212 in Virginia.

 

Arlington’s Opportunity Zones

It may come as a surprise that there were two areas in Arlington that received OZ designations by the Governor/Treasury – Nauck-Shirlington Road and Barcroft-Columbia Pike. Both are located in the area bounded by Columbia Pike to the north, 395, and S Four Mile Run (link to map and details). Note: Although the zone is called Barcroft-Columbia Pike, part of it is actually Douglas Park and the rest is an area that I don’t think belongs to either the Barcroft or Douglas Park Civic Associations, but the apartment buildings there do take the Barcroft name.

On a national scale, I don’t think anybody would argue that these neighborhoods are economically-distressed, but within Arlington these designations should help stimulate or expedite development from South to North and West to East instead of the other way around. Both of these areas also have detailed planning documents in place to guide investors.

 

How Do Opportunity Zones Work?

OZs are a bit outside of my purview because they require commercial development and tax expertise, but the general idea is that investors will put money into Qualified Opportunity Funds and deploy capital to one or more projects in Opportunities Zones around the country in returned for preferred tax treatment on their gains. The theme behind the OZs is encouraging long-term, sustained investment from these funds by incentivizing investments of 10+ years.

It’s important to note that OZs were first written into the tax code in December 2017 and while a lot of money has been raised by funds, there’s still uncertainty on how everything works. The last planned public OZ hearing between industry and Government was June 9 in which industry raised numerous concerns about the governance of the funds/tax exemptions, thus keeping a lot of the money sidelined.

The primary concern for industry seems to be around how the IRS will apply the tax code to different exit strategies common within commercial and residential development. Some investors are happy with any preferential treatment or willing to take the risk of not having an exit strategy, but many are understandably hesitant to deploy huge sums without a full plan in place.

 

What To Expect

You can expect the development in each of Arlington’s zones to follow the guidance of the 2004 Nauck Village Center Action Plan, 2018 Four Mile Run Valley Master Plan, and 2012 Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Area Plan. The recently approved Nauck Town Square was the first step in realizing the Nauck area plan and much of the Columbia Pike plan is underway, including major commercial and public/utility improvements.

According to Arlington County’s project mapping website, there are not currently any proposals for major development within either of the OZs. However, the redevelopment of Centro Village (anchored by Harris Teeter), directly across from the Barcroft-Columbia Pike OZ, is nearly complete and the Trafalgar Flats condos, also directly across the street from the OZ, has done very well.

It’s quite possible that OZ funds have already been deployed in Arlington and we wouldn’t know. Given the impact Amazon is/will have on South Arlington, the Nauck, Four Mile, and Columbia Pike area plans were going to take shape, but I suspect that the recent OZ designations will lead to a more rapid implementation of the County’s vision. 

Investors in Arlington’s OZs likely fall into a category of investors who won’t wait for the Treasury to fully address all of industry’s questions before deploying capital because they’re content with any preferred tax treatment on investments that will be financially viable without the extra help. Is this a fair implementation of tax incentives for a national program? Probably not.

 

Impact on Residential Real Estate

While the OZs themselves have a relatively limited supply of homes, the homes within and adjacent to these zones make-up the least expensive property in Arlington County. If you’re looking for growth opportunities relative to the rest of Arlington, I recommend adding these neighborhoods to your list, but plan on holding for 7-10+ years to realize the full benefit.

Tax benefits aren’t limited to commercial or multi-family property, but also apply to single-family homes. In some cases, there may be financial benefits to making substantial improvements (a requirement for preferred tax treatment in OZs) to rental properties located in OZs and holding them for 10+ years to qualify for the maximum tax benefit. This may not work in Arlington because the cost of substantial improvements must be at least 100% of the adjusted basis (net cost) of the acquisition price within a 30-month period. Before considering this strategy for your next rental property acquisition, it’s critical that you speak with a tax professional well-versed in OZs.

I recommend Larry Bormel of Bormel, Grice & Huyett (LBormel@bormel-grice.com) for any tax-related OZ guidance.

Banning Smoking in Condos

Question: Do you have any updates to your previous columns about banning smoking in condos?

Answer: Banning smoking in condos is probably the most popular topic I’ve written about and it has given me visibility into how many communities have tried, are trying, or want to ban smoking in units and common areas.

 

Multiple Buildings Have Banned Smoking

As of 2019, only 12% of Arlingtonians smoke so it’s not surprising so many condo residents are interested in eliminating it from their buildings. Over the last few years, multiple condo buildings in Arlington have successfully amended their by-laws to ban smoking in units and on private balconies (common areas are relatively simple).

Hosting Info Session for Residents/Board Members

This fall, I’m organizing a meeting/info session for all interested condo communities (residents and/or Board members) to discuss strategies and lessons learned on banning smoking, misinformation surrounding smoking bans, and other topics I’ve gotten questions on over the years. We’ll have guests who were heavily involved in the smoking bans in their communities, including an attorney who led the charge in his building, and who has helped other communities get their process started.

Let Me Know If You’re Interested

If you’d like to be included, send me an email at Eli@EliResidential.com with your name, condo building, whether you’re a Board/Committee member or resident, and if your building has already tried or currently trying to ban smoking. I’m targeting a September meeting and hope to set a date and time by early August. Don’t worry, you won’t get signed up for a bunch of junk marketing emails from me if you reach out 🙂

 

I hope everybody has a great July 4!

What Stays When a House Sells?

Question: What is customary to leave behind when we sell our house? Is there anything we have to leave or take?

Answer: The answer to this question varies by state/region so it’s important to understand what’s customary or required in your area. Throughout the entire DMV (DC, MD, VA) it’s customary to leave/convey all appliances, anything fixed to the home (e.g. light and plumbing fixtures), and take electronics or anything not attached to the home (e.g. free-standing shelves).

Fortunately, the Northern Virginia sales contract has a section dedicated to what conveys, including a yes/no option for the 30+ items below:

 Around here, it’s customary for the items listed above to convey if they’re present, so if you intend to take any of them with you, such a washer/dryer, you should be sure to let your Agent and potential buyers know ahead of time.

In addition to some of the obvious conveyances like landscaping, carpet, and heating/cooling systems there are some not-so-obvious items that convey unless stated otherwise. Those include light fixtures (chandeliers), attached shelving, and wall mounts for electronics. The electronics (and wiring) themselves do not convey, so in practical terms – the TV comes with you but the wall-mount stays.

 

Other Tips/Grey Areas

  • You do not have to remove nails and other hardware used for hanging photos and other personal items. In fact, if you do remove them, you’ve technically changed the condition of the home and can be held responsible for patching and painting.

  • You are responsible for leaving the property “broom clean.” Broom clean is a bit of a grey area, but it surely means you do not have to hire a professional cleaning service or scrub the grout. Regardless of what the contract says, I always recommend sellers use an altered version of a common axiom and convey their home in the condition and cleanliness that they’d like a home to be conveyed to them.

  • You are also responsible for leaving the home “free and clear of trash and debris” which certainly means not leaving junk in the attic, clothes in the closet, or food in the refrigerator but it’s common (and generally appreciated) to leave behind extra matching paint, extra tiles or floor boards, and other items used to for replacement or repair. It’s generally a good idea to run these items by your buyer first, before leaving them behind, so you don’t get a call 30 minutes before closing to haul away a bunch of stuff they don’t want.
     

Price and contingencies generally command all of the attention in contract negotiations, but ensuring you’ve accurately documented what conveys also deserves your attention to avoid a major disagreement in the last hour. If you have any other questions about what’s customary when selling a home in Northern Virginia or the great DC Metro area, feel free to email me at Eli@EliResidential.com.

Landscaping Tips for Resale or Long-Term

Question: We’re hoping to do some major landscaping work over the next year and would like your thoughts on what we should focus on that will also be good for resale.

Answer: Now is a great time to start planning a landscaping redesign project for next year’s warm weather. If you’re preparing for a sale, small improvements to your yard can be just as valuable as updates to the inside of your home. I sat down with local landscaping expert and long-time Arlington resident, Jeff Minnich (you should see his yard!) of Jeff Minnich Garden Design, to discuss smart ways to boost the outdoor appeal of your home before listing it and talked about some of the landscaping trends he sees in Arlington.

 

High ROI Landscaping for Resale 

  • DAPPR: Define bed edges, Add fresh mulch, Pull the weeds, Prune the bushes, and Remove dead leaves

  • Lawn is King: Tall Fescue grass works the best in Arlington. The best time to seed your lawn is March – April and September. Water 1-2x per week. Give it about a month to grow.

  • Blast of Color: Azaleas are beautiful around here in April and May. Pansies are good options fall thru spring. Geraniums are great in the summer.

  • Grand Entrance: Your front door is a focal point – hit it with a fresh coat of paint or replace all together. Power wash your driveway and walkways. Flagstone aka Pennsylvania Bluestone offer great value if you need to replace or add a walkway (also perfect for patios).

  • Create a Scene: Help potential buyers picture themselves relaxing in their future yard by staging an area of your yard with chairs, table, umbrella, hammock, lemonade pitcher, etc.

  • De-clutter: Just like you removed personal items from inside the home, put things like statues and lawn gnomes away

  • Condos too: If you have some outdoor space (balcony, patio, etc) pot some plants (see Blast of Color) and stage it (see Create a Scene)

 

Landscaping for Personal Enjoyment (not everything needs to be done with ROI in mind)

Trends:

  • Outdoor living spaces are the biggest trend in Arlington. This includes kitchens, fire pits, entertainment areas, and lighting

  • Hydrangeas and other “old fashioned” shrubbery are back in style. Dogwoods and azaleas are always trendy in Arlington.

 

Approaching a landscaping project:

  • Step 1 Hardscaping: Install patios, walkways, living spaces, water features, etc. This can cost anywhere from $10,000-$25,000+

  • Step 2 Sheds and Storage: Establish space for these items next

  • Step 3 Plantings: Work from biggest (trees) to smallest (flowers)

  • A full project usually takes 1-3 months to complete

  • There’s no such thing as maintenance-free

 

Thank you Jeff for all of your great advice. To learn more about Jeff or see examples of his work, please visit his website (link) or send an email to jeff@minnichgardendesign.com. Jeff received his horticulture degree, with an emphasis on landscape design and nursery management, from Virginia Tech. His garden design/build firm, Jeff Minnich Garden Design, Inc. takes the client from initial design concept through the completed garden design. Enjoy the wonderful colors of his personal Arlington garden at 2268 N Upton St.