Overpaying Real Estate Taxes? What are Your Odds…

A few weeks ago, I helped some friends buy a house near Ginter Park for around $175,000

Here’s the glitch: the city is assessing the house at a value of $339,000.

 

Hmmmm…  let me do the math…

 

These owners have been over-paying nearly $2,000 in annual property taxes for the past several years.

 

How Common is it?

A recent study in Philadelphia found that 40% of homes in that city are being assessed outside the acceptable standard of 80-120% of a home’s true market value.

 

A quick glance of houses for sale and houses that have sold just in the past 6 months in my Southside neighborhood (Westover Hills/Forest Hill/Woodland Heights) gives an idea of the local community.

 

For Sale:

5202 Sylvan Court

Tax Assessment $400,000

For Sale: $299,950

Annual Overpayment: $1,200

 

 

2601 Semmes  Ave.

Tax Assessment: $201,000

For Sale: $152,000

Annual Overpayment: $588 

 

 

3728 Brookside Rd.

Tax Assessment: $180,000

For Sale: $150,000

Annual Overpayment: $360

 

 

 

Sold in the last 6 months:

5030 Devonshire

Tax Assessment: $217,000

Sold: $175,000

Annual Overpayment: $504

 

 

4603 Forest Hill Ave

Tax Assessment: $276,000

Sold: $240,000

Annual Overpayment: $432

 

 

5202 Caledonia

Tax Assessment: $475,000

Sold: $422,500

Annual Overpayment: $636

 

 

2000 Westover Hills Blvd.

Tax Assessment: $319,000*

For Sale: $282,500 (pending)

Annual Overpayment: $438

*mistake: the tax assessment above is actually from 2011. The current assessment is actually $265k.

 

Total overpayment for these 7 homeowners: $4,158.

That’s a lot of iPads, folks.

 

Remember This:

  • City and County assessments are (usually) not accurate gauges to determine the true market value of a home.
  • You might be paying way too much in real estate taxes.
  • Don’t be impressed if a house that’s for sale boasts a list price “thousands below assessment!!”

 

Here’s what to do if you think your real estate property value is being over-assessed:

 

1.  Contact your city/county tax assessor’s office.  Requesting an assessment appeal is free of charge and it is not a really time-consuming process.

2.  Make sure you make your appeal before the deadline for your city/county (see below).

3.  Gather evidence for why you believe your property is not worth the amount it is being assessed for.

  • If you just bought your house and the purchase price is far below assessment, use that as evidence!
  • If houses in your neighborhood are all selling for well below what your house is being assessed for, use that as evidence!
  • Remember that an assessment falling within 80-120% of hour home’s true market value is generally considered acceptable.
  • If you aren’t sure what the true market value of your house is but you suspect your city/county is over-assessing you, give me a call; in a couple of minutes I can give you a pretty good idea.

4.  Stop paying money that you don’t owe.

 

Contact your City/County Tax assessor’s office:

Richmond City: (804)646-5700.  Appeal Deadline: July 31

Chesterfield County: (804)748-1000.  Deadline: March 15

Hanover County: (804)365-6029.  Deadline: March 15

Henrico County: (804)755-7380  Deadline: April 1

 

If you live in Chesterfield, Henrico, or Hanover county, your lowered assessment rate will be applied retroactively from January 1 of this year (as long as you request your new assessment before the deadlines above).  Unfortunately- if you live in the city of Richmond- your new lowered tax rate will not apply to you until 2014.

Better late than never though…

 

Jay McGee is more than a Real Estate Agent.  He helps people meet their Financial and Creative Goals when they Buy or Sell their Home in the Richmond Area.

He gives a microloan to somebody in a developing country every time a home is Bought or Sold with him.  Learn why here.
Contact: jaymcgee.kw@gmail.com

Church Hill Civil War Home Provides Loan for Civil War Survivor in Sudan

A little while ago, I had the good fortune of helping some friends buy a home in Historic Church Hill.  I thought I’d post a few pictures and let them tell you about the process.  I also thought it was cool that they bought a pre-Civil War era house, which is now connected in a small way to a young woman in Sudan, who is living in the aftermath of her own country’s longstanding civil war.

When I need to know a piece of history about Richmond, Richard is my go-to guy.  So it seemed appropriate that he would be the person to buy this little gem in Church Hill- right above Libby Hill Park- and care for this living piece of history in the decades to come.

The house was built circa 1850

I asked Richard a couple questions:

Me: This is a very special house in a wonderful location, and complete with a well preserved servant’s quarters and an English Basement.  What were the things about the house that stood out to you?
Richard:  1850 is the vintage as far as I know, we value historic houses and were happy to find one whose owners had a sense of stewardship for the place.  We appreciated that though it had been a duplex, the renovations were sensitive to the historic materials and done to last.

Charming streets complete with gas lamps

 

Libby Hill Park, just down the block

Me
: You got to choose who would receive a loan to be tied to the purchase of this house.  Why did you choose Lucy Peter?

Lucy will use her loan to expand her business of buying and selling fish in the local marketplace. Click photo to learn more

Richard: It was a joy to choose a loan to Lucy Peter in South Sudan, and giving this loan reminded us how amazingly fortunate we are in this country to have a  banking system that functions well for so many people.  A 4% loan in a country that is fairly stable economically is surely rare in this world.  I wish everyone buying a house could have the opportunity to tie it to a loan for someone in a country where loans are so much harder to come by.
***********
2 more houses in Church Hill have also contributed to the success of struggling entrepreneurs around the world.  If you want to, you can learn more about those loans by clicking on the pictures of the loan recipient below!

Mawar women expanded their farm in Indonesia

Wahhab started a motorcycle repair shop in Iraq

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

Winter Sales Promotion for Foreclosed Homes

Freddie Mac just launched a promo that is actually pretty sweet.  If you are thinking of snatching up a foreclosure for a steal, the deal just got that much sweeter.

Click to visit Freddie Mac website

Check out the details, and remember- hiring a Buyer’s agent is totally free to you.  It’s crazy, I know.  I help my clients locate houses that match their criteria through a fancy pants Realtor search engine, help you navigate through all the different kinds of financing available, home inspections, contract writing, negotiation, etc.  Contact me.  Even if you’re just flirting with the idea of home buying and you just have a few questions, I’m here to help.

 

The details:

Freddie Mac First Look Initiative

Freddie Mac will offer homebuyers and select non-profits an exclusive opportunity to purchase HomeSteps homes prior to competition from investors through the Freddie Mac First Look Initiative. This on-going initiative offers owner occupant homebuyers the ability to purchase HomeSteps homes during their initial 15 days of listing (30 days in Nevada), without competition from investors. The purchaser does not need to be a first time homebuyer to be eligible provided, however, that they are buying the home as their primary or secondary residence.

HomeSteps SmartBuySM

HomeSteps SmartBuy is our exciting home purchase program that offers:

We want you to feel confident about your decision to buy from us, and have the peace of mind you expect and deserve from your new home.

Buying a HomeSteps® home is truly a smart buy!

*Certain restrictions, limitations, terms and conditions apply. SeeHomeSteps SmartBuy Terms and Conditions for further details.

Homebuyer Incentives**

  • Up to 3.0% buyer’s closing cost

**HomeSteps homebuyer incentives are available to owner-occupants purchasers only.

 


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.  Learn why here.
Contact: jaymcgee.kw@gmail.com

Balloons of Bhutan

Every once in a while, you run across something on the web that is exceptional.  The ol’ laptop is good at spewing forth tons of content that’s entertaining, but it’s harder to find things that are… Inspiring.  Peaceful.  True.

What makes people happy?  We go to such lengths to measure GNP (Gross National Product) but isn’t Gross National Happiness even more important?

Click to enter balloonsofbhutan.org

Instead of “Gross National Product”, Bhutan uses “Gross National Happiness” to measure its socio-economic prosperity, essentially organizing its national agenda around the basic tenets of Buddhism. Bhutan’s fourth king, Jigme Singe Wangchuck, invented the idea in 1972, to give his tiny country some international clout and guard against potential future invasion by its two mighty neighbors (India and China).  (taken from balloonsofbhutan.org)

 

Jonathan Harris traveled to the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, taking a snapshot of happiness.  He asked people 5 questions:

  • What make you happy?
  • What is your happiest memory?
  • What is your favorite joke?
  • What is your level of happiness, between 1 and 10?
  • If you could make one wish, what would it be?

He recorded people’s answers and took beautiful photos as he traveled.

The recordings and pictures are beautiful, simple, and honest.

How many balloons are you holding?

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.  Learn why here.
Contact: jaymcgee.kw@gmail.com

Week in Pictures

Last week was a crazy week of 2 blog posts a day, as I looked at the Top 10 Projects for Your Home.  If you are a Homeowner, these are the projects that are going to put the most money in your hands when you sell.  It’s worth a look.

But today, I’m thinking of Family, not Real Estate.

It was busy week over here.  Saturday saw the first good frost of the season.  The cold mornings are a comfort to my Michigan soul.

We found the perfect afternoon and spent it at Pocahontas State Park.  Peace sweeps over me like the shadows of tall trees as we enter the woods.  Playground in forest.  The kids are so happy whenever we go there.

I still think it’s a really cool thing to find a turtle in the wilderness.  A feral turtle, if you will.

We chat with the fellow for a while.

If you have kids, maybe this scenario sounds familiar;

We got some small stuffed farm animals from IKEA a few months ago.  The kids haven’t been too interested in them.  But one day last week, Sam is playing with them and he asks tells me, “Get the cow to talk, Daddy.”

So I do.

I don’t just give animals voices… I try to summon the essence of their being.  I decided that the white and brown cow was the persona of the Queen of England, trapped in a bovine body:  Over the top British old lady accent.  Easily shocked.  Refined sensibilities.  I named her Clarabelle.  The black cow is her husband, Reginald.

By all accounts, Clarabelle is far too much ‘woman’ for Reginald.  But they’ve been married for a long time, and they seem to have found their niche.

 Sam got his very first remote controlled car this week.  And it makes me a little bit sad to look at this picture.  He looks like a little boy.  A real live ‘kid’ and not just baby Sam getting bigger.

 

And as the cooler weather sets in, I spend my free time doing something that I love…

The garage is transformed into the Cedar and Salmon Workshop.

What’s the project, you ask?

Wooden play kitchens.  I put them up on Etsy this week and shipped my first one off to New York City.

Etsy is amazing if you think about it.

The implications of Etsy didn’t dawn on me until this week.

Think about this… Etsy might be the most effective yet quiet Occupy Wall Street movement around.

Why purchase from huge corporations when the people around you can create wonderful things?  In large part, Etsy makes it possible.

I just shipped a wooden play kitchen that I made in my workshop to a lady that I’ve never met in New York City.  I think an economics and/or sociology student could write an interesting paper dissecting the various levels of implication in that one interaction.

 


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.  Learn why here.
Contact: jaymcgee.kw@gmail.com

Weekend in Pictures

What a weekend.  After months of blazing heat, temperatures in the 70’s give new life.  Here’s our weekend in pictures:

Sam decides to make pancakes and coffee for everyone for breakfast .

To Maymont.  Sam sees a open field and I watch his little legs take him down the hill until he is just a technicolor spot.

 

The big hit of the day was… the vultures!  Congrats, vultures!  Between the sheep, horses, and rabbits, I imagine that you are rarely the cause of such delight.

We grabbed a hot dog at the concession stand by the bears (it was actually a pretty good dog) and ate it in the old gazebo nearby.

“Sam, don’t pick at the paint.”

“Huh?”

“Sam, don’t pick at the paint.”

“Hmmmm.”

The great thing about having dirt patches in your yard is this simple math equation: dirt + hose=mud

Ailey HATES baths.  Was it worth it, Ailey?  Was it?

“Want me to fix your bike, Daddy?”

“Me ride my bike too!”

After a good 20 minutes of playing in the mud, bathtime is mandatory.  Early prediction: our child is gifted.

 

I find a few hours to retreat to the garage/woodshop to work on a project before the day is done.

As the sun retreats slowly to the west, so does our sanity.  Kids are down.  We collapse on the couch and discover that our camera has a smile detector function.  It snaps the picture automatically when it detects a smile.  You can even set it to detect a slight smile (above)

A medium smile

Or the crazy big smile.

It’s 9pm on a Saturday night and we are sitting on the couch snapping stupid photos of ourselves as we turn in to bed.  I ask the magic 8 ball if we are still cool.  “All signs point to NO.”

 

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.  Learn why here.
Contact: jaymcgee.kw@gmail.com

All the Money Everywhere

The money comes and goes.  It always has for me.  After college, it was 7 years of working for a non-profit.  But not just a “non-profit.”  Every penny I made during that time was from the contributions of churches, families, and friends.  Some months- usually around Christmas time- people were especially generous, and I might have a wonderful paycheck filled with wonderful commas, and 9’s, and 0’s.  Other months people wouldn’t feel so inspired, and my paycheck might not have a comma in it at all.  The amount of work that I did in a month had no relationship to how much money I made.

That, my friends, can be a stressful way to live life.

But you know what?  It taught me something that people forget when they have a steady and sufficient income:

At the end of the day, money really is easy come, easy go.

Holding onto it too tight is pointless… and over time, it will probably turn you into the kind of person that you don’t want to become.

Doing Real Estate means I don’t have 9-5 hours or a consistent paycheck every month.  And that can be stressful.  But this post is a reminder to myself: some people get paid with those ample paychecks that get delivered like clockwork… and that’s a nice perk.

 

But money isn’t the only way to get paid.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I get paid in hundreds of opportunities every month to say “Yes” to my family.

Yes to going on a walk.  Yes to “make the dump truck talk, Daddy!”.  Yes to being present for so many mundane activities that turn into memories for a little one year old and two year old.

One of the many things that I love about my job is that it gives me the flexibility to work when I want to.   A lot of times, I’ll take the kids on an outing on a beautiful day and then work late that night on Real Estate type stuff.  I don’t know too many Real Estate agents that keep 9-5 hours.  At the end of the day, being in Real Estate is just like being a small business owner.  You do business the way you want to do it and you work your tail off, because you work harder for yourself than you do for anyone else.

I think every single one of these photos was taken in between the hours of 9am-5pm on a weekday.  No bosses to ok it with, no planning the event a month in advance.  Most days, I arrange my schedule to be home for lunch and to be the one who puts Sam down for a nap afterwards.  That mundane half-hour of nap time routine is where I have some of my favorite memories with him.

The flip side, of course, is that I spend a lot of nights working on Real Estate stuff from the moment the kids go to sleep at 7:30 until my body and brain shut down- around midnight.

So while I would love a job with a consistent paycheck, I think it’s a pretty good trade off.  I get paid in memories and in smiles and in being present for 2 little ones.

Some days, when the lack of consistency can stress me out a bit, I remind myself: All money everywhere is just on loan.  It’s in your bank account this week, but it’ll be in someone else’s next week when you spend it on whatever it is that you spend your money on.   Easy come, easy go.  One day you have it, the next you don’t.

But the time, the memories… those can pass you by in an instant.

And once they do, they’re gone.

The ones that you have are yours for keeps.

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

Giveaway: $15 for Food & Micro Brews at Positive Vibe Cafe

UPDATE: Congratulations, Dan! You won $15 to the Positive Vibe Cafe!(chosen by random.org) Have a great time there! And thanks to PV for providing the gift card!

 

Click to enter Positive Vibe Cafe

 

This week, I ate at the Positive Vibe Cafe for the first time.  The menu surprised me in the best way.

I live a mile away from the Cafe, so I drive by it almost daily.  For some reason, I assumed I knew what the menu was like just by looking at the dated little Stratford Hills Shopping Center where it’s located.  But when I saw the inside of the cafe, as well as their menu, I knew right away that I had just found a great new restaurant to eat at.

Just a few noteworthy menu items: Buffalo Chili.  New Orleans Oyster Po’ Boy Sandwich.  Wood-Grilled Ribeye with Bourbon Cream Sauce. Caribbean Jerk Chicken with Pineapple Salsa

Caribbean Jerk Chicken w/ Pineapple Salsa

What I really like about the menu is that you can go there for a good burger or turkey club sandwich, OR you can be a bit more adventurous and try something like the Buffalo Meatloaf Sandwich w/Creole Sauce or Roasted Asparagus & Shrimp Soup w/ Parmesean Croutons.  I went there with my wife, Kristen, and we ordered the Grilled Chicken Wrap with avocado, bacon, and honey dijon dressing.

Grilled Chicken Wrap w/ Sweet Potato Fries

If you live in the Westover Hills area and feel like the local bars aren’t really up your alley (’cause that’s how I feel), the Positive Vibe might be your new favorite place for drinks.  They recently added a second bar area in the back of the cafe with lots of good micro brews on tap:

Legend Brown

Legend Octoberfest

Star Hill

Northern Lights IPA

Pyramid Heferweisen

Magic Hat #9

They have some of the best outdoor seating south of the James as well.

The other thing that surprised me was the great live music and events that happen at the cafe.  Susan Greenbaum (she opened for David Wilcox at the National… which is my life goal) played at the cafe just two weeks ago.

Saturday, September 3, the Positive Vibe is hosting a “Deficit Reduction Hoedown”, with live bluegrass music from Boots & Pearls, Andy Vaughan, and the Cary Street Ramblers.

They also have a great Sunday Brunch menu with live music every Sunday from 11:30-1:30.

The other great thing to note about the Cafe is that all their profits go to support their food service training program for people with disabilities.  You can find out more on their website.

I am really glad I stepped inside the Positive Vibe Cafe- I might have just found the best kept secret on the south side.

 ***************************************************************************

Giveaway Prize:

$15 Gift Card to Max’s Positive Vibe Cafe

REQUIREMENTS: 

Enter to win just by leaving a comment on this post telling us about other Richmond restaurants that have surprised you.

-Contest ends 12 midnight on Monday, Aug. 29.  The winner will be chosen Tuesday, Aug. 30.

-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 @positiveviberva 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

Giveaway: $15 to Ten Thousand Villages in Carytown

UPDATE: Congratulations, Kari! You won the Giveaway to Ten Thousand Villages!(chosen by random.org) You are sure to find a great treasure.

 

Long Before “Fair Trade” was Cool…

Click to enter Ten Thousand Villages website

Did you know that the fair trade movement started well over 50 years ago in America?  An American business woman took a trip to Puerto Rico in 1946, and was stunned by the poverty she witnessed.  Notably, she was stunned that so many of the most skilled artisans she had ever met were stuck in impoverished conditions.  What were the reasons?  How could one get ahead?

Singing Birds wall hanging from India (click pic for more info)

Over 60 years later, the outcome of that trip is what we know as Ten Thousand Villages.  Their vision: “One day all artisans in the developing countries will earn a fair wage, be treated with dignity and respect and be able to live a life of quality.”

Ten Thousand Villages makes long term trade relationships with artisans in developing countries.  The artisans get paid a fair wage for their extraordinary work, and you and I have the opportunity to buy amazing artwork, furniture, clothing, and other goods from around the world.

Many of the Ten Thousand Villages staff, board members, and volunteers have had the opportunity to either travel to visit with artisans in their home countries (India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Laos, Cambodia, Peru, Ecuador, and Guatemala to name a few) or to meet with them as the artisans visit the store’s headquarters here in the U.S.  As a result, the staff at the Carytown store offer a wealth of first-hand stories that go along with many of the items they sell.

“Our artisan partners’ stories are a constant revelation as to why we value Fair Trade so much and why we do the work that we do here at Ten Thousand Villages.”

 

I asked Amber, the assistant store manager of Ten Thousand Villages in Carytown about her first hand experiences with fair trade in Cameroon and other countries.

 

Most of us have an understanding of what “fair trade” is, but… our perspective is as consumers.  What does “fair trade” mean in the lives of artisans in developing countries?

Fair Trade means so many wonderful things for artisans around the world.  It means receiving prompt and fair payments and not having to wait months after their products have been shipped before receiving the payment they need.  In addition to the economic benefits for artisans, Fair Trade also gives artisans a sense of pride in their work.  They know that their work is not made in vain; that there are individuals out there who have found value in their hard work.  This can mean the world to artisans who have been marginalized in their communities and have experienced a low sense of self worth.

Batik Lamp from Indonesia (click for info)

What does fair trade do that charity cannot?

Fair Trade is all about empowerment.  It is not about giving a hand-out rather a hand-up.  There’s an old saying that goes, “Give a man a fish, he eats for a day.  Teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime.”  That to me is Fair Trade.  It is all about empowering individuals to make a difference in their own lives and communities.

A sunburst of radiance for table or wall. In Uganda, colored baskets are traditionally used for gift giving to friends and relatives for holidays and special events. Weavers wrap raffia palm around a core of banana leaf fiber to form each coil.  With each wrapping, the fiber is threaded through the previous coil to form the basket. After coiling raffia around the banana stems, artisans use raffia to cover 3 or 4 coils across, then dyed palm leaves are used to make a design in the basket. Artisans remove the membrane on the underside of each leaf to create the long thin fibers, which can be woven and dyed to make many products.

Banana Leaf Basket from Uganda

You recently took a trip to The Philippines, visiting local artisans who supply crafts which sell in the Richmond Ten Thousand Villages store.  Was there a local artisan that had a particularly interesting craft or story you can share?

Linda Garcia, a woman I met in the Philippines, lost her home to the typhoons that hit The Philippines in late 2009.  She and her daughter, Eleanor, were forced to live in a refugee camp.  Much In Little, a local fair trade organization informed Ten Thousand Villages of Eleanor’s situation and Ten Thousand Villages placed a large order for leather change purses Linda had just designed. The advance payment for the change purses by Ten Thousand Villages allowed Linda to not only purchase the supplies she needed to make the change purses but helped Linda and her daughter leave the refugee camp and move into a new home.  I had the opportunity to visit their new home which was a neatly maintained, small four room apartment.  It was so amazing to see firsthand what a difference this trading partnership made in the lives of Linda and Eleanor.

Safari Chess set from Kenya (click for info)

Anything you want to highlight about the store that most customers might not already know?

We hope customers realize what a huge impact that Fair Trade can have in terms of the larger issues.  In addition to alleviating global poverty, Fair Trade helps to alleviate other large issues including violence and sex trafficking.  One group that we work with known as Sacred Mark is a cooperative of women who formerly worked in the red light district of Bangladesh.  By making and selling soaps, these women earn the financial independence they need to remove themselves from unhealthy and negative situations such as sex work.  Therefore, we want to remind customers to think about the stories that exist behind each item we carry in our store.  The Sacred Mark soaps, for instance, are so much more than JUST soap.  They symbolize a new beginning for the women who made it!  How powerful!  For more information about this group: http://www.mcc.org/stories/news/mcc-teaches-new-job-skills-former-sex-workers-bangladesh

Leather Elephant Bank from India, Ceramic Frog Dish from Indonesia (click for info)

Giveaway Prize:

$15 Gift Card to Ten Thousand Villages in Carytown

REQUIREMENTS: 

Enter to win just by leaving a comment on this post!  Lame comments like “cool giveaway” will not be counted.

-Contest ends 12 midnight on Sunday, Aug. 21.  The winner will be chosen Monday, Aug. 22.

-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 @villagesrva in your tweet!

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

 

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

Richmond Summertime Secret

If you live in the Richmond area, you are probably no more than 30 minutes away from one of the best-kept summertime secrets around.

Morning Blueberries

For our family, summertime in Richmond means balmy mornings at the Swift Creek Berry Farm, off of Genito Rd. in Chesterfield.   I’ve always liked blueberries.  But it wasn’t until we discovered this great pick-your-own blueberry spot that I learned that I am actually capable of eating my own weight in blueberries.

I think this is true with all varieties of berries: eating a sun-warmed berry straight off the bush is not the same thing as eating a berry in a box- grocery store or farmers market.  The magic is lost somewhere in transit.

So once every couple of weeks, we make it out to the farm.  Make it there at 8am when they open, and it means that your blueberries still have a kiss of morning dew on them- an extra treat for the senses.  Part of the fun are the blueberries themselves, which are exceptionally delicious.  And part of the fun is walking along the long rows of blueberries bushes with bucket in hand, feeling the firm, plump little balls in your hand and hearing the kerplink-kerplank sound of them landing in your bucket.  At $2.09 per pound for spray free blueberries paired with a fun outing, the Swift Creek Berry Farm really is one of the best kept summertime secrets of Richmond.

Our kids love picking blueberries.  It is a great experience for them to be able to pick the berries themselves.  Fun, wholesome, and educational.  We made a blueberry pie with the berries we picked.  I love that Sam knows first hand that the food we eat comes from the earth and not from the grocery store.

Yes, blueberries truly are the fruit of the gods.   A closeup of Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam reveals that God was actually handing Adam a blueberry.

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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