Northern Virginia Real Estate and Community News

Oct. 21, 2020

Oct. 21: National Check Your Meds Day

I Work for Older Americans and Their Needs

Did you know that I’m a Senior Real Estate Specialist in Northern Virginia? It’s one of the certifications that I have because of the passion I feel to assist older Americans with their home needs.  There are a lot of reasons to use a Realtor with the SRES designation. In general, we are uniquely qualified to help the over 50 crowd with their real estate needs. The older real estate consumer has different priorities than a first-time buyer or seller and the Fairfax buyer/seller is no exception to that rule. 


Today, it’s National Check Your Meds Day. While this isn’t necessarily a day just for the elderly (seriously, that’s hard for me to use that word since I’m falling into the over-50 category 😉) it is a day that’s great for all of us to “celebrate.” It’s a chance to hook up with your local pharmacist to go over your meds and supplements to be sure you are taking them correctly and that there are no negative interactions. If you see more than one doctor, it’s especially important to make sure your pharmacist reviews all your medications to make sure they can all “play nice” together. 


Did you know there are various resources available in our local community to help as we age?

Here are just a few:

Fairfax 50+ Podcast

Golden Gazette Local Newspaper for those 50+

Older Adults Events Calendar


Getting older doesn’t have to be stressful. Many resources are available to draw from. Here are some other blogs on my site that specifically apply to us.


If you or a “senior” you know are looking to buy or sell real estate, you might want to download a free copy of my Senior Housing Guide. Get that HERE.


As always, if you have any questions or need help, I’m here for you.

Robin Butler,

“Your Friend In The Real Estate Business.”

Remax Gateway



A Seniors Real Estate Specialist®, or SRES®, is a

REALTOR® who has received extensive training in helping

50+ home buyers and sellers. Let me help you through the

process of buying or selling your home, making the

transaction less stressful and more successful.





Posted in Community News
Oct. 13, 2020

Decorating Your Home for Fall on a Budget

The price of seasonal decor is on the rise. So what's a stylish decor maven to do when trying to decorate for a Northern Virginia fall? Take on a DIY project, of course! 

Whether you're working on a shoestring budget, or simply trying to save a dime, with a bit of ingenuity and time, you'll be well on your way to fall home decor that even Martha Stewart deems worthy. Try these inexpensive decor ideas to jazz up your home for fall: 

Pine cone wreath. 

Greeting your guests at the door with a pinecone wreath ensures a warm and stylish welcome. Rather than paying the standard price of $50 to $100 for a pinecone wreath, make one yourself for under $10! Before shopping and starting, be sure to peek on Pinterest for a little inspiration. 

Take an afternoon to collect pine cones with your children or grandchildren. Two small shopping bags of pinecones should be enough for a large wreath. Next, purchase a Styrofoam wreath for approximately $1, a glue gun for around $2, and a piece of ribbon for $1. 

● Use a glue gun to adhere the flatter side of the pine cones to the wreath. The pine cones should be pointing upwards, rather than laying flat. Continue gluing pine cones until the Styrofoam of the wreath is no longer visible. Then, loosely wrap a long ribbon around the top of the wreath and tie. 

● You can display your pine cone wreath by hanging the ribbon on your doorknocker or simply using a wreath hanger that can be purchased at most big box stores for $5. 

Photo links to:

Pressed Leaf showcase. 

With the help of Mother Nature and some everyday items you already have around the house, you can make photo frames that display your beautiful pressed leaves. This fall staple is the epitome of autumn decor and packs a big punch for a small buck! 

● Place a piece of wax paper in the middle of a heavy book, such as an encyclopedia, and lay several leaves on the wax paper without overlapping leaves. Place another sheet of wax paper over the leaves, and then close the book. Let stand for approximately 12 hours. 

● Use a piece of scrapbook paper with colors that are reminiscent of fall and fit it to your photo frame. Place a dot of hot glue on the center of the paper and press your leaf onto the glue. Then, carefully slide your pressed leaf and scrapbook paper combo into your photo frame and display! 

Simple switch. 

Changing your smallest accessories can provide both the biggest bang for your buck and visual stimulation. Swap out your regular throw pillows, curtains, throws, and vases in favor of ones that are laden with fall-friendly hues. 

● Orange, red, brown, bronze, and even green are generally colors associated with fall. 

There's no need to replace your existing decor; just adapt what you already have! Attach a fun orange or brown pompom trimming to your curtains with Velcro. Rather than ditching your existing throw pillow, simply sew a flirty and autumn-friendly cover for the fall. 

Whether you're working with a $100 budget or a $10 budget, you can effectively decorate your home for the fall. When on a tight budget, your most important ally will be your imagination. Remember, where there's a will, there's a way. 

Take inspiration from magazines, decorating shows or even snap photos of pieces you see in department stores and try to recreate them at home. If you're open to trying something new and taking the time to take on some DIY projects, the sky truly is the limit to what you can do!

Robin Butler,

“Your Friend In The Real Estate Business.”

Remax Gateway



Posted in Community Events
Sept. 29, 2020

Just Add Paint!

It Pays to Paint: A Home Improvement that Adds Value


As a Northern Virginia homeowner, you understand the importance of maintaining and adding value to your home. One way to preserve the value of your home is to keep up with necessary repairs and maintenance. The fastest and most cost-effective home improvement is painting.


There's something special about a newly painted room. It just looks fresh and new. Plus, furniture "pops" when placed in front of freshly re-done walls. With paint, you can set a mood.


Regardless of your goal, painting is a home improvement that adds value to your home.


These suggestions will help you get started in choosing the right paint color:

A well-chosen color of new paint will help bring your vision to life.

  • Sure, painting takes elbow grease, but the rewards are worth the effort.
  • When you compare the cost of a gallon or two of paint with the change the paint can bring to your home, painting is an inexpensive way to bring a dramatic effect.
  • For added value to your home, you really can't beat painting as a thrifty home improvement.

Before you begin painting, think about the overall feel you're seeking for your home.

  • Create a unified feeling by painting the walls in every room the same or complementary colors.
  • Ask yourself how you want to feel and how you want visitors to feel when they enter your home. From there, do your homework regarding paint colors and the moods they evoke.
  • For example, if you want a tranquil and calm feeling, lighter tones of greens, purples, and beiges are great choices to promote feelings of serenity and peacefulness. If you want to liven up your walls, red brings vim and vitality to a room.

Paint is a great disguise for many dings, marks, and dry-wall mistakes.

  • Are your walls dull-looking, marked up, or otherwise marred in some way? If so, painting is a quick way to make the room look like new.

Paint can increase brightness in a room.

  • Of course, some natural lighting helps tremendously, but the finish of the paint you choose can bounce the light around to make the room appear lighter and brighter.
  • People prefer to spend time in rooms that seem full of sunlight. So, bringing light into your rooms by painting will add value to your home.

Remember the exterior surfaces of the property.

  • Because it's the first glimpse someone gets of your property, it's wise to make the exterior of your home look its best. Painting the outside of your house brings color and makes your home look clean and fresh.
  • Curb appeal is especially important when you are considering selling your home.
  • You can't beat the results of a newly painted house. Painting the exterior of your home will add great value.

No matter where you live or how much you've invested in your home, putting on a new coat of paint, inside or out, will increase the value of your home. For the money, there's no better home improvement. Go ahead and buy that gallon of paint. Once you finish your task, you'll be thrilled with your picturesque room!


Robin Butler,

"Your Friend in the Real Estate Business"

Remax Gateway



Sept. 15, 2020

Setting up for Remote Learning

Setting up a place in your home for your child to do remote learning can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be.  Hopefully, this will be a temporary situation, so you don’t have to worry about creating an entire classroom in your home.  There are things you can do to lessen the stress for both you and your child.


One of the most important things to help your child succeed is to give them a dedicated study space where they can organize all their course materials. It’s best to provide them with a ‘desk-like’ area to work, and not allow them to lay in bed or on the couch to do their coursework.  To do this, you don’t have to run out and buy them a fancy desk or give up your home office.  They can use the kitchen or dining room table, as long as you’re willing to allow them to adjust to their needs and give them the quiet time to accomplish their assignments.  


While older children may be able to stay on track in their bedrooms, younger students may need more supervision in a more central location.  It may be best to avoid setting up in their bedrooms, which are full of distractions.  Also, since remote learning requires the use of electronics, it may be better to keep those tools out of the bedrooms to avoid the temptation to stay up late playing. 


If you have more than one child who needs the space you can set up cardboard dividers at the kitchen or dining room table to help keep them focused. 


Also, if you have more than one child, or set up in the center of the home action, they may need some comfortable headphones to listen to their classes.  Or at least noise-canceling headphones to help keep them focused.


If you sit at a desk all day, you know how exhausting it can be if you don’t have the right set-up.  If you can have a desk and desk chair sized for your child, that’s great, but if not, there are still things you can do to make it more comfortable for a longer sitting time.  A cushion, or pillow, can make the dining chair more comfortable and raise your child to a more ergonomic position--you want their hands and wrists to be above the desk/keyboard.   Of course, you also don’t want them to have their feet dangling all day, so a step-stool or footrest may be required to give them more support and stability.  


Use desk organizers or small cubbies to contain all of their essentials to keep a neater space.  Even an over the door shoe organizer can help keep things in one place.


It’s also important to let your child help choose and set up their work area.  Giving them some ownership will help motivate them to want to use it and maintain it properly.


Times are tough, and the current in-home school situation is not ideal. But, with a little creativity and a lot of patience, you can get through it together. 


Robin Butler,

"Your Friend in the Real Estate Business"

Remax Gateway




Posted in Community News
Aug. 27, 2020

Back-to-School [At Home] During COVID

In today’s COVID climate, it’s more important than ever to stay healthy. This is usually a season of fun times and new traditions as students everywhere go back to school. But what happens now when they go back; or when they are staying home as most students are? 


We all know that we should wash our hands frequently, not touch our face, and wear a mask. (Yes, I said it.) But, what else can we do while we are staying home, working at home, and schooling at home to keep our healthiest? 


COVID 19 is an airborne illness. That makes it a bit tougher to keep the germs at bay. There are a few things you can do at home to lessen the odds of getting it. Here are a few tips.


Wipe down popular hand-spots. Lysol spray, liquid cleaners and Clorox wipes (If you are one of the lucky ones to find some) can all be used to clean the areas that are frequently touched. These are going to be door handles, appliance handles like the stove/refrigerator, sinks/faucets and the toilet handle. Also, be sure to clean off your phone once a day too. You touch everything and then touch your phone on a frequent basis. Another thing people frequently use but forget to wipe off is the television remote.


Don’t forget your work and school equipment. If you are working or schooling at home, be sure to include those necessary items in the sanitizing. Wipe down computer screens that may have been sneezed on. Spray your keyboard off with some Lysol now and then. Be sure the mouse, mousepad, earbuds, pencils, and pens get some cleaning attention frequently as well. 


Keep circulating fans clean. Not only will that help with allergies but in general, it spreads fewer germs. 


Switch to paper towels in the bathroom for handwashing. Yes, they aren’t as environmentally friendly as using a hand towel for drying off but this way each person gets a fresh towel each time. Consider getting the half towels to save on the paper. If not having guests over, you could also assign a hand towel to each person in your family but, ultimately, using the paper towels is the safer bet. 


If someone is ill, take advantage of your home spaces. Not all homes are large and offer the opportunity for easily spreading out but most homes at least have more than one bedroom or bathroom. If someone does develop COVID, try to keep them quarantined to one space and have them use their own bathroom. Cook for them to keep them out of the kitchen and make sure no one else uses their silverware and dishes until they are properly cleaned. 


Open those windows. If you don’t have horrible late summer/early fall allergies, take advantage of cooler days and get some fresh air in your home. 


One final thought is to make sure your HVAC system has been recently checked and that your air filters are changed frequently. Your HVAC is circulating your air and those air filters are really important to keeping allergies and illnesses at bay. 


Do you have other suggestions on how to stay healthy while spending more time at home? We’d love to know about them. 


Robin Butler,

“Your Friend In The Real Estate Business.”

Remax Gateway




Posted in Community News
Aug. 13, 2020

August 21st is National Senior Citizens Day


August 21st is National Senior Citizens Day!!  This national holiday began in 1988 when President Ronald Reagan wanted to bring awareness to the issues facing seniors.  I figured that this is the perfect time to share the variety of resources local seniors have available to them.  


Fairfax County has a wide network of Senior Centers, each offering a selection of educational and wellness classes.  You can find the closest center on the government website here--


And to make sure everyone has an opportunity to participate, even if there is no physical center available,

the County has Senior Centers Without Walls.  This primarily covers the Burke/West Springfield and Great Falls communities and relies heavily on volunteers. 


Of course, right now these centers are not open, however, the county has been keeping seniors engaged with their Virtual Centers.   You can log in to actively engage with other seniors on a variety of activities, or watch the videos on demand when you have the time.  They are a great way to combat the isolation that many are facing due to virus precautions.  You can find the list of weekly activities here-


Fairfax County also has a podcast for older adults Fairfax 50+.  They have a variety of great topics to listen to from identifying and avoiding scams to dealing with the new normal of COVID-19 to navigating Medicare.  


Another great resource is the Senior Citizens Council.  It’s a network representing area organizations and groups to collect and share information for local seniors.  They hold monthly meetings and have various countywide events.  


Senior Citizens Day, like every day, is a great time to get out and experience many of the Senior Discounts around town.  Amounts and ages vary, but many local restaurants, retail stores, activities, and State parks offer great discounts.  

As a Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES) I have additional knowledge needed to assist seniors in the selling/buying of their home.  If you are a senior, or managing your parents’ move, let me put my expertise to work and help you with the transition.

You can request my FREE Seniors Housing Guide HERE


This year celebrating the senior in your life is more important than ever.

Robin Butler,

“Your Friend In The Real Estate Business.”

Remax Gateway




July 13, 2020

The more things change....

The more they stay the same.



This year has really been a doozy so far and looks to stay the same for a while yet.  The restrictions put in place to help minimize the effects of the coronavirus pandemic forced many people to deal with various challenges, both personal and professional.  For many, the biggest challenge was essentially putting life on hold which led to a lot of uncertainty across the economy.  Of course, not all of life’s changes can be put on hold, sometimes life just happens anyway.  


Many predicted that the real estate market would come to a standstill.  And while that didn’t happen there was a shift in how business was being done.  A while back I posted a blog about how the Real Estate business is meeting the needs of people who can’t put their life on hold. 


Now as we begin to settle into the “new normal”, a phrase I’m sure we’re all tiring of, many of these business changes are becoming a new permanent way of life.  


Stay-at-home orders forced much of the home shopping, and even the closing paperwork, to be done virtually/remotely.   It seems many things are moving virtual as technology becomes more ingrained into one's life, so some are predicting that this may be more common even after the need for the change is gone.


Another shift, at least for the foreseeable future, may be a move away from city centers.  Younger people had been moving toward the city to avoid long commutes, for access to public transit, and to be where the action is.  However, some may now want to avoid large congregations of people and may find the space of the suburbs more appealing.  Added to that as more companies consider making telecommuting a permanent option there isn’t the need to live close to work.


The economic downturn may also have people more concerned about another so the higher costs often associated with city living may be a deterrent.  And, while they move into the suburbs they may keep their tastes a bit more modest out of an abundance of caution.


Those who do still prefer the city life have also made some changes in what amenities they are looking for.  For example, more condo shoppers are looking for in-unit laundry facilities so they don’t have to go to a shared laundry room.  


How long term these shifts are is hard to predict.  The current pandemic will eventually fade, but will the experience influence future decisions in anticipation of another?  


One change that could be an anticipation of another is the Pandemic Rider that has been added to housing contracts.  Standard Force Majeure clauses protect both buyer and seller in case of natural disasters, but a new COVID rider has been added to many contracts and some believe it’s here to stay.   These riders give the buyer more time to secure financing or schedule inspections.  And protect both parties in case of another shutdown which could slow down required paperwork filings.    

This is a stressful and confusing time for many, as always I’m here to help in any way I can.

Robin Butler,

“Your Friend In The Real Estate Business.”

Remax Gateway



June 23, 2020

Getting The Most Value From Your AC



The summer heat is in full swing here in Northern Virginia. Interestingly enough a big AC may not be your ideal answer to cooling off. It might, in fact, provide you less cooling than a smaller unit, since smaller units run longer than bigger ones which tend to click on and off. 


Running longer permits smaller units to maintain a regular room temperature, remove moisture from the room (thereby getting rid of humidity) and ultimately gives you greater comfort. 


There are some things you can do that not only help circulate the cooler air in your home this summer but they may even save on that electric bill. 


Following are a few cooling tips which can save your air conditioning systems from breaking out in a sweat:


  1. Use whole house fans. This helps maintain a cool temperature by dragging cool air through the whole house and throwing out the hot air through the attic. Whole house fans work best during night time when the outdoors is cooler than the indoors.
  2. In the summer months, your thermostat should ideally be set as high as possible. The closer the temperatures outside and inside are the less your cooling bill will be! If your thermostat is set at a colder setting your cooling rate will slow down, the temperature will fall to an uncomfortable level AND your cooling expenses will mount.
  3. Let your fan’s speed be high unless of course, the weather is particularly humid in which case you will be better off setting it at a lower speed.
  4. Use an interior fan to complement your window AC. This will give your AC a helping hand and distribute the cool air better without unnecessarily increasing your electricity bills.
  5. Putting your lamps, TV sets, etc. near your thermostat is a big no-no. Heat from these appliances can be detected by the thermostat making the AC run unnecessarily long.
  6. Consider shade near your exterior windows. It’s ok to put trees or shrubs near your air conditioning unit to help shade it but make sure they don't get in the way of the airflow. An AC unit functioning under shade is known to use almost 10% less electricity than one functioning directly under the sun.
  7. Lucky number 7 is, of course, to be sure and perform regular maintenance checks on your HVAC unit. By keeping an eye on your unit, you can catch small problems before they become larger, more expensive ones. And, by keeping your unit running at its most efficient, you will also save on that electricity bill.


If you have more questions on your system or are looking for a great local HVAC company, let me know. I’m happy to hook you up.


Robin Butler,


“Your Friend In The Real Estate Business.”


Remax Gateway



Posted in Real Estate News
June 16, 2020

Donate! Recycle! Don’t Simply Dispose!


It’s that time of year, out with the old and in with the new.  Or, maybe just out with the old.


If you were like many people during the COVID lockdown you spent at least some of your time cleaning and organizing.  It was a mandated, extended spring cleaning session.  


Or perhaps you are getting ready for a downsizing move and want to eliminate rather than move unnecessary items.  Unfortunately, due to COVID safety protocols, you may not have been able to properly dispose of your unwanted items.  


As restrictions begin to lift many places are once again opening their drop-off sites or scheduling pick-up services.  Not all places are resuming this service, however, or may have made significant changes to what they offer.  So, if you have a favorite recycling/donation site it’s best to call ahead rather than load up the car unnecessarily.


Household items


If you have clothing, working electronics, toys, and household items area Goodwill stores are beginning a phased reopening.  They will only be taking donations at the open stores so check their website.  They also offer pick-ups for a fee.


If you have larger items such as furniture, working appliances (less than 10 years old), and home improvement supplies then Habitat for Humanity has Restore locations.  Currently, only the Alexandria and Chantilly stores are accepting drop-offs.  They may be able to schedule a pick-up but that is staffing dependent.


The Salvation Army is also a great option and is currently offering their pick-up service.


Electronics and Hazardous Materials

Best Buy has temporarily halted its recycling program for health precautions, but if you buy a new large item and have it delivered they will still haul away the old appliance.


Local recycling centers are still open and accepting electronics and hazardous waste, such as paint and cleaners that can not (or should not) go into your weekly garbage.


If you are downsizing your bookshelves you can stop into a ½ Priced Books and make a little money for your effort, or many local libraries are always looking for donations.

An interesting option for your stuffed animals is Gleaning for the World of Concord VA. They have a program called The Teddy Bear Brigade, they collect stuffed animals to give emotional support to children here and around the world.  You can contact them to inquire about making an animal or monetary donation.


It is always best to attempt to recycle or donate your items rather than just simply throwing them away in the trash, but there are times when that is your only option.  In that case, you can contact your local trash hauler for their bulk services or try Bagster for easy pick-up.

As always I am here to help,

Robin Butler,

“Your Friend In The Real Estate Business.”

Remax Gateway




May 19, 2020

It's Home Improvement Season


Many people are hard at work right now looking at what sort of home improvements they want to do over the summer. Whether your plans are to do improvements inside or out, there are some improvements that will increase the value of your home. 
At the link below, you can download and print our FREE workbook on planning your tasks. 
Click HERE to download the workbook.
I am here to answer any questions you may have.
Robin Butler,
“Your Friend In The Real Estate Business.”
Remax Gateway
Posted in Selling Your Home