Coming Attractions from the Torpedo Factory condos

Torpedo Factory

Are you looking for two bedrooms in one of the most desirable neighborhoods in Northern Virginia? This is your “heads-up”.

We’ll soon be offering a condominium for sale at the famed Torpedo Factory condos in Old Town Alexandria VA.


There are a few details we’re going to take care of before formally offering the place for sale, but one of the highlights of the home has to be the patio and sunroom.

At the edge of the formal gardens in the courtyard of the Torpedo Factory condos, this home is just paces from all the many attractions and activities of Old Town. The restaurants, the waterfront and everything that is wonderful about Old Town Alexandria is at your doorstep when you live at the Torpedo Factory.

Call 703 765 0300 to inquire about the availability of this home which promises to be priced right and delivered in top condition.

Will Nesbitt About the AuthorWill Nesbitt is the principal broker of Condo Alexandria and Nesbitt Realty. Will specializes in condos, townhouses and single family residences in Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax County, Crystal City, and Kingstowne. Will resides in Belle Haven Estates just outside Alexandria VA in Fairfax County.

The customer is always right … but the client is not.

It doesn’t happen often, but about once a year I anger a potential client.  Usually it’s a prospective renter. I throw this story out to my fellow realtors and real estate agents, because I don’t like it when people get mad at me and I like to re-examine what I did so that the next time this won’t happen.

About Me and My Business

Nesbitt Realty focuses largely on condominiums.  We sell all types of real estate, but a large part of our business is condominiums. As I often tell people,
Dairy Queen sells hamburgers and McDonald’s sells ice cream. Once you’re in the door, they’ll sell you what you need. It is the same with us. We are focused on condos because our office is located on the first floor of a residential high-rise condominium community called River Towers.

To folks who don’t know anything about condominiums or real estate, River Towers looks a lot like an apartment building. About a year and a half ago—the last time I dealt with an angry renter—I followed up with an article that explained the differences between apartments and condos, and I posted it prominently on our website. Because our building looks like an apartment building, our office might seem like a rental office to some people.

I say all that in fairness to the prospective renter that I angered.  We look like a rental office, but we’re not a rental office.

As for my personal state of mind, I’ve been working back-to-back-to-back seven-day weeks for a pretty good stretch now.  I purposefully did not schedule any appointments yesterday because I’ve been so busy and wanted a little break.  However, without any appointments scheduled and with the phones a little quieter than usual, I slipped into the office to get a tiny bit of work done. I didn’t shave. I was wearing shorts.  I even paused to play a computer game. It was quite nice.

Enter Jane

That’s when this lady, we’ll call her “Jane”, walked in.  I was a little surprised to see her because visitors at our building have to be buzzed in. Jane said, “I’m here to take a look at rentals.

Nesbitt Realty in Alexandria VAI said, “When are you moving?” Jane said, “November or December.”

This is September. I told her, “Anything you will see now will be rented before November or December. This is a condominium community, not an apartment complex—”  I wanted to explain to her why we only
assist prospective renters who have an immediate or very specific need.  We’re not in the business of giving world tours to renters who might rent a few months. This might sound tough to some, but many agents won’t help renters at all.

Jane didn’t want to hear about this or why we do business the way we do business. Instead, she interrupted me.   What she wanted me to know as that she was here to look at places and by golly she wanted to see some places.

I was too exhausted, too tired, to really sugar-coat my response. I told her, “I’m happy to answer all the questions you’d like. I’ll tell you prices. I’ll show you pictures, but I’m not going to wander around showing you places that you won’t rent.”

Jane was indignant and shocked.  I tried to explain to her more. I tried to explain to her why I was telling her this but she didn’t want to hear it.  She demanded to see some “samples”.

I replied, “There are no samples. These are condominiums.” Condominiums are individually owned and thus each condo is unique.

Because she was so insistent, I agreed to show her around, “I’ll be happy to show you something but you’ll have to pay a $100 retainer.  If you rent something you can apply this money to your rent. If you don’t rent that’s the charge for seeing a unit.”

Jane gets angry

That was enough to push Jane from upset to angry. She crossed her arms and demanded to see units in River Towers. My wife, who has a desk nearby injected herself into the drama.  Julie told her, “I’m sorry for him. He’s been working for more than 30 days straight, what’s he’s trying to say is — ”

Jane cut her off. My work schedule is not her problem.  In fact, Jane wanted me to know that she works hard too. Julie Nesbitt --- Condominium Mortgage

I understand that sentiment and I don’t blame her for feeling that way. In fact, I told my wife, “She doesn’t care how hard I work. Nor should she.  The important thing to understand is why this business works this way.”

The resolution

I then tried to begin to explain how rental agency works, but Jane was too angry at this point to listen.  She demanded to speak to my boss.  I was perhaps a bit of a smart-ass when I reached across my desk and handed her one of my cards. Jane said, “I don’t want to talk to you! I want your boss.”

If I wasn’t so tired, I would have thought fast enough to refer her to my wife, but instead I told her the truth. “I own the company, ma’m.”

Well, this is an outrage.  She’s never seen anything like this in her life. She was now tirading.

But at this point, it was my turn to interrupt her, “Ma’am if you really are off from work, you’re just wasting your precious time by yelling at me.  That shopping center over there has a Wiechert office with agents that will be glad to help you.”

I sort of felt guilty for the newbies working desk duty at Wiechert, but maybe she will rent something off of them so maybe I did them a favor.

The lesson

In retrospect, I know where we had our disconnect but I’m not sure how to avoid it in the future. Jane had been trained by her experience in retail to believe that the customer is always right. What she doesn’t understand is that the customer is always right, but the client is not always right.

By that I mean, customers make purchases from retailers.  I am not a
retailer.  I am a professional providing a service to my clients.  My clients come to me because they want my advice and expertise.  I often give my expertise away, but I am not required to give my expertise away. Furthermore, I can’t give you the benefit of my expertise if think that I’m a retailer.

Whether they are renters, buyers, sellers or landlords, I provide my clients with honest, direct and factual advice. I explain to them as best as I can the facts as I understand them. I let my clients make their own decisions. I can’t make their decisions for them. But I have been around too long to have a client use me as a personal door-opener in their quest to find what they seek.

I’ve learned the hard way that folks who insist on seeing things that aren’t what they want are a waste of my extremely valuable time.  If you tell me you want something specific and then I tell you that what you want to see isn’t what you want, then I know that you are either not telling me the truth about your needs or you have no respect for my opinion and time.  I cannot help a client who wants to use me as a tool rather than as a professional. This is most especially true when that potential client is a renter, which means they are very small
potatoes for me.

Will Nesbitt About the AuthorWill Nesbitt is the principal broker of Condo Alexandria and Nesbitt Realty. Will specializes in condos, townhouses and single family residences in Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax County, Crystal City, and Kingstowne. Will resides in Belle Haven Estates just outside Alexandria VA in Fairfax County.

Washer and Dryer in the Unit?

This week I was in a condo selling for over a million dollars.  It was a beautiful condominium home with excellent views, a state of the art kitchen and all the upgrades one might expect … except the unit didn’t have a washer and dryer.

the Representative

Because my office is in River Towers, and we also serve Belle View, I often confront the question of a washer and dryer in the unit. (Neither River Towers nor Belle View has laundry in the unit.) I’ve talked to the older residents of River Towers about this and surprisingly many of them resist the idea of putting laundry in the unit. They like their laundry-rooms right where they are—thank you very much.

This might seem baffling to some of the younger generation, but laundry rooms have a number of distinct advantages:

  • community — You get to know your neighbors in the laundry room. This creates a sense of community and you know who belongs in the secured areas and who is a stranger.
  • maintenance — You don’t have to worry about buying a new washer when the old one breaks down. More importantly you don’t have to worry about your personal laundry flooding a neighbor’s condo.
  • square footage — Laundry takes up space. You have more space in your unit if you have a community laundry room
  • more washers — Many folks like to wait and do an entire week of laundry at one time. If you have a laundry room you’re not limited to one small washer. You have many washers available.

In a luxury community, most people don’t do their own laundry anyway, so they don’t care if the laundry is outside the unit. My tip to folks who are shopping for homes in Northern Virginia: don’t box yourself in. If you won’t consider a unit with a laundry room, you’re walking past some of the best neighborhoods in Northern VA.


The courtyard of the Olympus at Landmark

The building’s unique curved shaped offers intriguing vistas and not just from the oversized curved balconies that each unit enjoys. The Olympus is located in the West End of Alexandria between I-495 and I-395 near Landmark Mall. The Sentinel of Landmark is across the street, but there are many condominiums in this area, including

West End real estate agents.
Nesbitt Realty can help you buy and sell real estate in West End.

Should I wait for prices to drop before purchasing?

National trends may be continuing to decline, but in Alexandria, Arlington, and nearby parts of Northern Virginia real estate is showing two signs of a comeback.  According to an MRIS Press Release: “Selling prices remain flat metro wide in the Greater Washington DC region, but the central jurisdictions—DC, Alexandria, and Arlington and Montgomery counties—continue to buck the trend.”

John McClain, Senior Fellow at George Mason University’s School of Public Policy, was quoted by them as saying, “Prices continue to rise in the central jurisdictions. They’re in a much better price position due to their premium location.”

The most dramatic is an increase in prices of home sales, but equally important is the shortening of time properties are on the market.  These two combine to reduce the available inventory available to buyers.  Waiting can be a shortcut to loss, so holding off in anticipation of falling prices can leave you kicking yourself for missing good deals.


Farmer’s Market at Sherwood Hall Library

At the nearby Sherwood Hall Library every Tuesday the Farmer’s Market gathers many River Towers locals.

Get your flowers and veggies!

A selection of homemade pies and pastries.

Something for Everyone

The farmer’s market has locally grown organic fruits, vegetables and pies & pastries, all natural free-range meats, as well as crafts and other interesting items brought to us by farmers near the area.

Fresh squash & zucchini in early summer!

Just off the stalk corn and freshly picked beans.


Kingstowne development plans

Kingstowne is a planned community and one of my favorites in Northern Virginia. The Fairfax County Department of Zoning works directly with land developers to coordinate projects and regulate land development in and around the 12,000 acres that make up the Kingstowne community. There are several projects slated to complete the master plan for Kingstowne.

In addition, the U.S. Department of Defense is reorganizing military installations to adapt to changing circumstances under a plan called BRAC.   Between 14,000 to 19,000 jobs are slated for transfer to Fort Belvoir by September 2011.  This transition will affect transportation systems, the natural environment and the quality of life in the Alexandria near Kingstowne.  At least one community has proposed an amendment to the comprehensive plan to better serve the needs of BRAC.

Here are a few of the changes expected because of BRAC and adherence to the original plan for Kingstowne.

Kingstowne Towne Center

The Kingstowne Towne Center will remain true to the original master plan by constructing four office buildings at a site on the Kingstowne Village Parkway where parking pads are currently located.  Planners believe that additional office space makes Kingstowne more vibrant and economically strong by attracting desirable retailers, restaurants, etc.

Springfield Mall Revitalization

In addition to the Towne Center projects, the nearby Springfield Mall will become a mixed-use town center that will include retail shops, a hotel, residential buildings and office space.  The project will be phased in over the course of the next eight to ten years.

Hilltop Village Center

Wegmen’s Grocery Store in Kingstowne? Perhaps soon. The Hilltop Sand and Gravel Company owns of 150 acres at the intersection of Beulah St and Telegraph Rd. They have proposed a complex of office, retail and residential uses.The project is to include recreation facilities: two soccer fields, a tot lot and parking.

Regional Library/Lee Village at Silver Lake

Now under construction along Beulah Street near Manchester Lakes Boulevard, a regional library and mixed use housing development is expected to provide housing for the elderly and county essential professionals, such as teachers and nurses.

Veteran’s of Foreign Wars (VFW) Meeting Facility

Along Beulah, the VFW is building a two-story edifice with administrative offices, a bingo hall and as a meeting and recreational place for VFW members.


Fire Department responds to a call in Belle View

Belle View 2nd story unit

Units from the Fairfax County and Alexandria City Fire and Rescue Departments responded to a call yesterday from Belle View condominiums in New Alexandria VA. New Alexandria has an Alexandria postal address, but is actually part of Fairfax County.

police and rescue at Belle View

Fire and rescue units from Fairfax County’s nearby Sherwood Hall station arrived before units from the City of Alexandria. Fairfax County officials responded with fire trucks, an ambulance and police cruisers. Police blocked off westbound Belle View Boulevard in front of the Belle View Shopping Center to give rescuers room to work. By the time Alexandria responders arrived it appeared that Fairfax County had the problem well in hand.

firefighters at Belle View condos

By the time these pictures were taken the fire was under control and/or extinguished, but smoke and burnt plastic could still be smelled in the streets. Residents and witnesses said they believed the fire was from a second story unit and may have been a kitchen fire. At least 1 person was taken to the hospital for further examination, but there were no apparent injuries other than smoke inhalation.

after action report at Belle View condos

The Incident Commander wrapped up with an after-action report and life soon returned to normal in Belle View.

Will Nesbitt is the Principal Broker of Condo Alexandria and serves home buyers, sellers and landlords throughout Northern Virginia.