Sale of Westover Hills Home Helps Fund Greenhouse in Eastern Europe

It has been a crazy spring in Real Estate- at least here in Richmond.  Everyone I know who is tied to the Real Estate biz seems to be busier than they have been in years.

SOLD after 12 hrs on the market

And seriously- mortgage rates hit 3.67% a few weeks ago (they went up to 3.71 again… blast!) so people who are used to renting are finding that it’s actually a lot cheaper on your monthly budget to buy a house right now.

A few weeks ago, I helped some people sell their gem of a house on Sylvan Rd in Westover Hills (at right).

 

Easiest. Transaction. Ever.

 

Kennon & Sarah, the owners, were some of the easiest people to work with.  We struck up a fast friendship over living in strange and far off places- they having lived and worked in Nigeria for a spell and us in Indonesia.  We also happen to share the woes and wonders of living with a 3 year old boy.

Over the several years they owned the house they did all the right things to set it up to sell quickly and for a good price.

Sarah happens to have an amazing eye for interior design:

 

Tied Together.

One of my favorite parts of my job is getting to give a loan to someone whenever a house sells.

This house provided a loan for Emrie, a farmer in the small Eastern European country of Georgia.

click for more on Emrie’s loan

Emrie will use her loan to build a greenhouse so that she can grow vegetables through the winter and earn additional income by selling them in the market.

What’s the connection between homes in Richmond and loans for struggling entrepreneurs?  Click here.


Jay McGee used to live in Southeast Asia, doing language research and literacy development. Now he’s a Real Estate Agent with Compass Realty. He gives a microloan to somebody in a developing country every time someone in Richmond buys or sells their home with him.  Learn why here.
Contact: jaymcgee.kw@gmail.com

Woodland Heights Renovation

Just over a month ago, I helped Christof and Megan buy an amazing house in Woodland Heights.  Now they are in the middle of doing what many of us dream about: a diamond in the rough foreclosure, a great neighborhood, and major renovation plans.

Click on photo to learn how this house also provided sheep for a family in Kyrgyzstan

I asked Christof about the process of going through a major renovation.  Here, he shares his answers and unveils the master plan for the house.

Christof & Megan with their incredibly cute and well-behaved daughter

MeWhat was it about this house that made you decide to buy it over all the other houses for sale in Richmond?

Christof: This house had, by far, the most character per dollar of any house we saw during our house-hunting process. Also, the curved wraparound porch, and beautiful old Sycamore were selling factors.

 

MeTell us about the process of re-designing so many aspects of the house… Why did you decide to add the bathroom downstairs and change the floorplan the way you did?  What were your priorities (maximize space/resale value/personal needs/historic integrity)?

Christof: The rationale for introducing a powder room in the center of the ground floor was a necessary, balancing, response to our decision to take out the old, full bath next to the kitchen. It didn’t make much sense for us to have a full bath on the first floor anyway, it needed tons of work, and we wanted space for a pantry… so we pulled it out.

 

Original Floor Plan

Renovation Floor Plan

Floor plans shown above are courtesy of Brian Ward, general contractor on this project and owner of Greenleaf Renovations.

Christof: Our priorities all along have fairly focused on livability. So many people view their homes through the lens of resale value. We’re not taking that approach. We knew we wanted a walk-in pantry, open kitchen, large island, and smooth flow from the living room through the dining room to the kitchen. Our secondary concern was historical integrity. We’ve purchased old pine lumber to replace any holes in the wood floor, used reclaimed wood for as much framing as possible, and decided to restore the porch to its original glory with a railing and spindles to recapture some of the romance of the original Victorian look.

 

 

Me: What have been some of the biggest challenges to this point?

Christof: Some of the biggest challenges have been getting the yard in order. The huge Sycamore and surrounding vegetation cost a lot more to handle than we thought. But, on the other hand, now that they’re all trimmed up it’s much more exciting and beautifying than we expected so it all evens out.

 

MeWhat part of the house are you most excited about?

Christof: The most exciting part of the house right now is the kitchen. It looks like it’s just going to be awesome.  There are three additional areas that keep our minds spinning at night. The first is the possibility of fully restoring the wraparound porch. This has the potential to add value to the home and make the home much more useable for entertaining. Secondly, we are excited about the possibility of adding a second-floor balcony off of the guest bedroom/study. This is definitely one of those “aim for the moon” concepts right now, but it’s still within the realms of possibility and so… we keep dreaming. Third thing would be the “loft” – aka attic. We would like to finish it off and are preparing the space for additional work after we move in.

 

Great attic space just waiting to turn into living space

New Master Bedroom closet framed out

 

If you are thinking of buying or selling your Woodland Heights/Westover Hills home, contact me!  I live in the neighborhood… know it, love it, and I’m excited to help you with all things Real Estate.

Keep visiting the blog for more updates on the progress of this home in the coming weeks!

Jay McGee used to live in Southeast Asia, doing language research and literacy development. Now he’s a Real Estate Agent with Compass Realty. He gives a microloan to somebody in a developing country every time someone in Richmond buys or sells their home with him.  Learn why here.
Contact: jaymcgee.kw@gmail.com

RVA Neighborhoods: Northside (Plus $25 Giveaway to Tastebuds American Bistro)

UPDATE: Congratulations, Maureen!  You were chosen as the winner of the Tastebuds Giveaway! (chosen by random.org)  Have a great time there, and if you order the pork tacos, think of me!

 
 

pjpink lives on the Northside of Richmond, and is a lover of good food.  She blogs at River City Food and Wine, where she shares some killer recipes, photos, and great reviews about dining in Richmond.  She writes about the neighborhood she loves, and one of her favorite places to eat, Tastebuds American Bistro:

 

I love the Northside of Richmond! I’ve lived just inside Ginter Park for nine years and have immensely enjoyed what Ginter Park and Bellevue have to offer. From stately mansions to oh-so-cute bungalows, the area features wonderful architecture from the turn of the 20th century through the 1940’s. Tudor, Spanish, and American Four Square are among my favorites in my ‘hood.

 The area also holds secret treasures. The campus of Union Presbyterian Seminary emanates a peacefulness almost any time of the day, not to mention gargoyles. The library gargoyle is my favorite.  Fauquier Avenue displays a delightful median garden. The fitness track on the campus features a labyrinth. And don’t forget the Tiffany glass windows at Ginter Park Baptist Church. Tiffany placed gold leaf in the glass. When the sun hits the windows a golden glow envelops the sanctuary.

 I’m a great fan of the Northside citizens as well. Where else can one find Black Cat Alley? Or a family van replete with blue flames?? The Saturday before Mardi Gras Wilmington Avenue hosts a Mardi Gras parade with beads and candy.

Of course, being the author of River City Food and Wine, eating is extremely important. I’m blessed with a multitude of places to visit within walking distance. Since moving here the MacArthur Ave/Bellevue commercial district keeps improving.  Once Upon a Vine offers free wine tastings every Friday. Stir Crazy is the local coffee hangout.  Jazzbo’s  Rollin’ Gumbo is our own neighborhood food cart and serves up some scrumptious gumbo. Enoteca Sogno is the newest Italian kid on the block (drool!). Other wonderful establishments include Shennanigans, Dot’s Back Inn, Northside Grille, and The Mill on MacArthur.  Something for everyone and all good.  Many of the proprietors live in the area, too.

I saved two of my favorites to feature: Zorba’s and Tastebuds American Bistro. Zorba’s is my go-to pizza delivery place. For a minimum $10 order, they will deliver a piping hot non-chain pie. My favorite is a Medium Pizza with Pepperoni, Onion, Green Peppers, and Extra Cheese. Yummy, yummy.  Zorba’s has been around for a while and one of the first places I discovered when I moved to the area.

 Tastebuds American Bistro is one of my very favorite restaurants in Richmond and so consistent that I’ve taken family and friends there on a regular basis.

The atmosphere is casual, but the staff are always attentive. They feature imaginative small plates:

Pork Adobo Tacos are slightly spicy and a satisfying small plate.

The duck spring rolls are one of my all-time favorites.

Also, lovely salads (my favorite is Spinach, Shaved Red Onion, Goat Cheese Crumble & Lemon-Parsley Dressing).

Entrees offer a variety of dining delights including Asian skewers:

Succulent sirloin and tasty shrimp are delicious! I also like the rise stuffed spring roll.

Specials in tune to the seasons are offered during the weekends (this summer Hanover tomatoes and softshell crabs have been a big hit). The wine list is small but offers wonderful bottles for $35 or less. And don’t forget the creative cocktails such as the Red Bison.

Tuesdays – Thursdays  one can order a delicious three course prix fixe for $18. A true tasteful bargain.

So, if you are not able to live in the area, at least come wine and dine in the Northside on occasion. The Northside, a neighborhood that keeps getting better.

******

GIVEAWAY PRIZE:

$25 Gift Card to Tastebuds American Bistro

REQUIREMENTS: 

Enter to win just by leaving a comment on this post!

-Contest ends 12 midnight on Monday, September 12.  The winner will be chosen Tuesday, Sept 13.

-Due to the local nature of the contest, participants should be Richmond area residents.

Optional Extra Entries: 

You can earn up to 3 extra entries by doing the following:

-Share the link for this post on your facebook wall.  Leave an additional comment letting me know that you shared.

-Tweet it: Tell other people about the Giveaway!  Just be sure to link www.realrva.com and @jay_mcgee  in your tweet!

-Like RealRVA on Facebook

Be sure to leave a brief additional comment for each extra entry.  Good luck!


 

Jay McGee used to live in Southeast Asia, doing language research and literacy development. Now he’s a Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Realty. He gives a microloan to somebody in a developing country every time someone in Richmond buys or sells their home with him.
Contact: jaymcgee.kw@gmail.com

RVA Neighborhoods: Shockoe Bottom $20 Burger & Beer Giveaway!

UPDATE: Congratulations, Liz R! You have won the Giveaway to Station 2!!

(Liz was chosen at random by Random.org)

You are in for a real treat, Liz!  Have a great time at Station 2.

 

 

Question: How do you know you’ve stumbled upon an awesome new restaurant?

Answer: When they have “Beer Cheese” on their menu.

Click the photo to see Station 2's website and full menu

This week saw the grand opening of Station 2 in Shockoe Bottom.  I got to eat there last night, and I think they hit the nail on the head with this one.

You had me at "beer cheese."

When we saw “Beer Cheese” on the menu, it was a no-brainer: we ordered it.  I don’t know how they did it, but they did it: two of the most beautiful words in the English language -beer and cheese- together at last, and served with bread from Lucille’s Bakery on Cary St.

 

Station 2 is a burger joint that has gone for quality and inventiveness.  Their appetizers show their own unique take on some classic ingredients: sweet potato tots, onion straws, fried green beans, potato shingles with garlic aioli, wet fries- served with smoked gouda cheese and homemade gravy.

Their burger menu might be the best I’ve seen in Richmond.  If you just like a quick, simple burger, they have classic “grill pressed” burgers for $3.50.  Not too shabby.

Sweet Potato Tots

But if you want a burger to really write home about, every char-grilled burger is it’s own inspired work.  They’ve got a Grilled Cheese Burger served, topped with 3 different cheeses and then served on texas toast.  Then there’s the “Bbq Barista”- check this out: a “coffee rubbed burger with applewood smoked bacon, smoked gouda… and bbq sauce.”  I had the “classic station 2 burger” with bacon and cheddar.  It’s an easy contender for one of the best burgers I’ve had in Richmond.

 

He takes his coffee black, too.

Here’s what I appreciate about Station 2; wherever possible, they have kept their ingredients local.  The meat is all natural beef from Buffalo Creek Beef, in Lexington VA.  The bread is from Lucille’s Bakery on Cary St.  They’ve got 12 beers on tap and more than half of those are from local brewers.  And the ice cream (they’ve got an assortment of adult milkshakes that look amazing) is from Homestead Creamery, in Wirtz, VA.

The atmosphere was exactly what you would expect from a good restaurant in Shockoe Bottom: Historic, cool, fun.  It was a cool enough atmosphere to meet friends at the bar for a drink, but it was not so cool that I felt out of place bringing my toddler along for the ride.  They have a fun little kids menu, crayons and paper.

 

 

Giveaway Prize: 1 person will win a $20 gift card to Station 2!

Requirements: Enter to win just by leaving a comment on this post telling us who makes the best burgers in Richmond.

-Contest ends 12 midnight on Sunday, Aug. 7.  The winner will be chosen Monday, Aug. 8.

-Due to the local nature of the contest, participants should be Richmond area residents.

Optional Extra Entries: You can earn up to 3 extra entries by doing the following:

-Share the link for this post on your facebook wall.  Winner will need to verify.

-Tweet this: I just entered to win a $20 burger & beer giveaway from www.realrva.com via @jay_mcgee @station2rva #rva

-Join the RealRVA Kiva Lending Team (learn more here)

Be sure to leave a comment for each extra entry.  Good Luck!

 

 

Jay McGee used to live in Southeast Asia, doing language research and literacy development. Now he’s a Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Realty. He gives a microloan to somebody in a developing country every time someone in Richmond buys or sells their home with him.
Contact: jaymcgee.kw@gmail.com

And the Winner is…

Photo from richmondvapresents.com

 

 

 

Congratulations, Terri!  Against insurmountable odds, you have been chosen by random.org to win the $25 gift card to The Hill Cafe!

 

 

 

If you’ve never been, here’s a sneak peek at the menu:

Have a great time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jay McGee used to live in Southeast Asia, doing language research and literacy development. Now he’s a Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Realty. He gives a microloan to somebody in a developing country every time someone in Richmond buys or sells their home with him.
Contact: jaymcgee.kw@gmail.com

RVA Neighborhoods: Church Hill (plus The Hill Cafe $25 GIVEAWAY)

Ben is a math teacher at LC Bird High School, and is attending VCU to get his MS in Mathematics.  Ben has lived in Shockoe Bottom for a year and will be moving into Church Hill at the end of the summer.  He is also a proud connoisseur of tasteless jokes.

 After a year, I feel like I have been in Richmond long enough to begin to discover the unique “color” and “flavor” of each of the city’s neighborhoods.  When I drive up Broad St. to the Fan I am picturing the pastels of the row houses and the tastes of the coffee shops.  On my way to Shockoe Slip I envision the cobblestones and the taste of Bottoms Up Pizza.

In the case of Church Hill, I struggled to nail down a color, but after walking around the neighborhood one more time I decided on the dark red of bricks.  Each house in Church Hill subscribes to a brick template with a row house feel.  While the houses seem to be cut from a mold, their prices can range from $110k to $775k all on one street.  In Church Hill, there aren’t many enclaves based on wealth, race, etc.  Everyone is very well integrated, and the infrastructure is evidence of that.

In terms of taste, this is one I am still grappling with.  Church Hill is the safe haven for a very homegrown type of food culture.  On the micro level, just walking around yards you’ll see a few gardens with squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, and other vegetables sprawling over the grass.  There’s even a quaint little garage on the main drag where every Sunday, some local brewers are out sharing their own fruit of the earth with the general populous.

From the business end of the food culture, there’s a range from Carolina BBQ to fine dining with no apology.  The Alamo BBQ has been nestled in Churchill for long enough to attract the attention of any carnivore within nose-shot.  Their vinegar based BBQ sauce piled onto their award winning brisket is enough to make a good day great.

On the other end of the spectrum, The Hill Café doesn’t quite satisfy the BBQ palette of the southern gentlemen, but will offer a fried soft-shell crab and a wedge steak salad.  The Hill Café contrasts the large portions of peasant food offered in many parts of the city with a calm and almost high-brow “sit down” style of dining, yet without the price!  The Hill Café is about comfort; comfort food, and a comfortable environment.

Finally, to round out some notables of Church Hill, we have Captain Buzzy’s Beanery.  Yes, it’s a coffee shop, seemingly nothing surprising there.  However, each of their goodies are locally baked!

It’s hard to nail down the personality of Church Hill.  In most neighborhoods, with all the different avenues of culture, there would be envelopes of specific people and therefore a segregated neighborhood.  Fortunately,  Church Hill has grown up in a very differently than other neighborhoods and every walk of life can be found on each block, which makes Church Hill a great place for a young professional, a family man with wife and kids in tow, and for the retired looking for a quiet place to settle down and take up their newly impassioned gardening hobby!

 

Giveaway Prizes:

-1 person will win a $25 gift card to The Hill Cafe in Church Hill.

Requirements:

-To enter, leave a comment on this post (only one!).  Lame comments like “cool giveaway!” won’t be considered.

-Due to the local nature of the giveaway, you should have a Richmond mailing address (we will contact you via email if you win, so make sure it’s valid!).

-Contest ends Tuesday, July26  at midnight.

Thanks, Ben for the great write up on your neighborhood!  Would you like to write about your RVA Neighborhood?  Contact me!

Jay McGee used to live in Southeast Asia, doing language research and literacy development. Now he’s a Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Realty. He gives a microloan to somebody in a developing country every time someone in Richmond buys or sells their home with him.
Contact: jaymcgee.kw@gmail.com

And the Winners Are…

People are really into their Richmond neighborhoods.  Great neighbors, great local establishments make for happy Richmonders.  Thanks for all the great comments of those who entered!

For those who did not win, I have a parting gift for you: Gary Schlitz will teach you the valuable skill of whisper marketing…

But the real winners are… Julia and Jesse!

Julia, you’ve won the $15 gift card to taZa coffee ‘n creme.

Jesse, you’ve won the $15 gift card to Chocolates by Kelly.

(results were chosen by random.org)

Congratulations!!  I hope I see you there.

Jay McGee used to live in Southeast Asia, doing language research and literacy development. Now he’s a Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Realty. He gives a microloan to somebody in a developing country every time someone in Richmond buys or sells their home with him.
Contact: jaymcgee.kw@gmail.com

RVA Neighborhoods: Westover Hills (Plus taZa & Chocolates By Kelly GIVEAWAY)


GIVEAWAY!! $15 taza Coffee 'n Cream PLUS... $15 Chocolates by Kelly

I moved to Westover Hills by accident.  Kristen and I had been living in Indonesia, and we were moving back to the States.  We were weary world travelers and we had an 8 month old in tow and another one in the oven (if you ask me what the heck we were thinking, all I can tell you is that I wasn’t thinking with my head ). We had a couple of cities that we were thinking of moving to- Richmond was one.  One long weekend we took a whirlwind tour, found a house (it happened to be in Westover Hills) and decided to lay down some roots.  We didn’t know a thing about the neighborhood- we just liked the house.  A couple years later, it turns out there’s no other neighborhood I love more.  I think that’s the definition of serendipity.

Here are some of the sights of Westover Hills:

One of Kristen's favorite parts of living in W.H. is crossing the River daily. Mine is biking on the Buttermilk

 

There are all different kinds of houses with a huge range of prices in the neighborhood.  There are tons of great capes to find, little ranches, Dutch colonials, bungalows, colonials, and some modern designs too.

You can buy a house in Westover Hills for around $200k all the way up to over a million, and everything in between.  As of this morning, there are 14 houses for sale in the neighborhood and of those, the average list price is $293k.

 

FARMERS MARKETS!!!!

If you are a lover of fresh, local foods and veggies, Westover Hills is a dream.  Our new Saturday family tradition is to head to the South of the James Farmers Market.  It is insane in the best way.  Every Saturday from 8am til noon, Victory Farms, Ault’s Family Farm,  Amy’s Garden, Blanchard’s Coffee, Nate’s Taco truck, live music, and nearly 100 other great vendors fill up the Forest Hill Park with sights, sounds, and smells that my family loves.

Then on Wednesdays from 3 to 7:30, the South(er) of the James Market meets on Forest Hill Ave in a lot next to the Westover Hills Elementary School.  It is smaller than the Saturday market, but you can still find fruits and veggies from local farms, tasty food trucks, and a fun atmosphere.

 

Finally, there’s taZa Coffee ‘n Cream.  I remember in college thinking that if I could find some great, back door sort of coffee shop to become a regular at, it would bring me a huge step closer to being the cool, artsy, beatnik that I was hoping to be.  I’ve found that shop in taZa.  The survey is still out on whether or not it has made me a cooler, artsier, beatnik type of person… I just asked my magic 8 ball and it said all indicators point to no.

Here’s the thing about taZa- they only have the best stuff.  Blanchard’s Coffee roasts beans on location… really- if you come at the right time, you can see them using the big red roaster in the picture above.  It does not get more fresh than that.

Chocolates By Kelly is downstairs as well, and then served by taZa.  Some of Kelly’s amazing creations: cherry pomegranate truffles, chocolate covered caramel topped with sea salt, peanut butter cups,  vodka cranberry cordials, and and white chocolate covered pretzels.  The first time I had one of her chocolate covered s’mores made with homemade marshmallows, I knew Kelly was serious about dessert.

Now I know that store bought marshmallow are not the same as homemade.

Giveaway Prizes:

-1 person will win a $15 gift card to taZa Coffee ‘n Cream.  1 person will win a $15 gift card to Chocolates by Kelly.

Requirements:

-To enter, leave a comment (only one!) answering What is your favorite thing about your neighborhood?

-Due to the local nature of the giveaway, contestants should have a Richmond mailing address (we will contact you via email if you win, so make sure it’s valid!).

-Contest ends Sunday, July 17 at midnight.

 

Jay McGee used to live in Southeast Asia, doing language research and literacy development. Now he’s a Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Realty. He gives a microloan to somebody in a developing country every time someone in Richmond buys or sells their home with him.
Contact: jaymcgee.kw@gmail.com


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