With the crisp, cool, fall air settling into Northern Virginia, now, is a better time than any, to enjoy the gorgeous autumn views (and brews) throughout our community.

If you’re looking for an exciting hike this weekend, capped off with a local brew, check out one of these Northern Virginia hiking trails and nearby breweries.

The View

Bears Den Overlook

Location: Bluemont, Virginia
Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 1.7 miles

Bears Den Overlook is one of the most popular hiking trails in Loudoun County. Located just off Route 7, there is a main overlook at the top of the hike with a beautiful panoramic view of the Shenandoah Valley and the Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s best to hike this trail in the evening, so you’ll get to see a gorgeous sunset from the overlook. Turn your view and brew into a staycation with lodging available at both Bears Den and Bear Chase.

The Brew

Bear Chase Brewing Company

Location: Bluemont, Virginia
Fan-Favorite Brew: Kodiak Kölsch

Located less than a mile from Bears Den, Bear Chase Brewing Company is the perfect location for a post-hike drink. The team at Bear Chase wanted to re-purpose as much of the original farm property for their brewery and the Brew Barn is actually the original farm barn. If you’re looking for a fan-favorite brew, try the Kodiak Kölsch which won a 2020 Great American Beer Festival Silver medal in the German-Style Koelsch category.

The View

Eastern Watercress & Bank Barn Trail Loop at Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve

Location: Leesburg, Virginia
Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 1.42 miles

Nestled on 650 acres in the heart of Loudoun County, Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve offers more than 20 miles of hiking trails. By turning the Eastern Watercress Trail and Bank Barn Trail into a loop, you’ll enjoy a view of the wetlands, wooded area, and Goose Creek. During your easy 1.42 mile hike, listen in for the female spirit—or Banshee—throughout the hills and dales—or Reeks.

The Brew

Solace Brewing Company

Location: Sterling, Virginia
Fan-Favorite Brew: It’s Electric

Solace Brewing Company isn’t the closest brewery to Banshee Reeks, but it is the largest one in Loudoun County. Make the relatively short drive down Evergreen Mills Road after your hike to enjoy the giant brewery and dog-friendly taproom. Solace usually features local food trucks on the weekends, and if you’re lucky, they’ll have It’s Electric on tap to help you relax following your hike.

The View

Potomac Overlook Regional Park

Location: Arlington, Virginia
Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 1.4 miles

If you’re interested in exploring nature closer to the nation’s capital, swing by Potomac Overlook Regional Park. Featuring just under two miles of scenic woodland hiking trails, Potomac Overlook offers connecting access to the Potomac River and Potomac National Heritage Scenic Trail via the adjacent Donaldson Run Park. These trails are relatively easy to walk and perfect for the entire family.

The Brew

Board Room Brewing Company

Location: Arlington, Virginia
Fan-Favorite Brew: Ticket To Ride Red Ale

One of the newer breweries and taprooms in Clarendon, Board Room Brewing Company has already brewed up a few award winning brews, including The Bishop Brown and a fan-favorite brew—Ticket To Ride Red Ale—which earned first place for the best amber ale at the Virginia 2020 Craft Beer Cup!

The View

Old Rag Mountain

Location: Madison County, Virginia
Difficulty: Difficult
Distance: 10.8 miles

Are you up for a challenge? Old Rag Mountain is the most challenging hike on our list. Located within Shenandoah National Park, Old Rag Mountain climbs to 3,284 feet and features a couple difficult hikes ranging in distance from 9 to 10.8 miles. If the hike isn’t enough of a rush for you, there are great opportunities for rock climbing at Old Rag as well.

The Brew

Shotwell Run Brewing Company

Location: Etlan, Virginia
Fan-Favorite Brew: German Oktoberfest Bier

After a hike like Old Rag, you definitely deserve a beer, and Shotwell Run Brewing Company serves them up as good as any brewery around. Shotwell Run believes there is a season to everything, including beer, so their selection is always changing. They also try to stick to tradition, meaning their beers, like the German Oktoberfest Bier, feature ingredients from their countries of origin.

What’s your favorite view and brew in Northern Virginia? Let us know on Facebook, so we can enjoy a hike!

If Q3 2020 was any indication, the real estate market in Northern Virginia is still on the rise. Homes are flying off the market at a record pace for more money than they have since our housing boom in the early 2000s. Location independence, outdoor expansion, the need for multi-purpose sanctuaries, and historically low mortgage rates are encouraging residents of Washington, D.C. and its immediate suburbs to set roots further west—in Loudoun County.

Homes Continue to Sell

When the coronavirus first caused shutdowns throughout the nation’s capital region in March, Q2 home sales in Loudoun County in stalled to six-year lows. However, those numbers quickly rebounded in Q3 when 2,023 residential units were sold, the most on record since Q3 2005. That trend also seems to be continuing as 737 homes were sold in October 2020, the most homes sold in October in more than 20 years. For reference, 538 homes were sold in Loudoun in October 2019.

Average Sales Price Continue to Rise

While the number of homes sold continues to trend upward, so does the average price. In Q3 2019, homes in Loudoun County sold for an average of $548,440. In Q3 2020, homes sold for an average of $613,333. The near 12% year-over-year increase is the highest increase in average sale price in Loudoun since 2004–2005. That trend continued into October when Loudoun homes sold for an average of $605,000, a 10% increase versus average sales price in October 2019.

The average home sale price in September 2020 was the highest average sales price for homes in Loudoun in a single month…ever. With inflation, increased home sale prices might seem normal, however, before September 2020, you had to look back to August 2005 for the month with the highest average home sale months in Loudoun.

Homes Continue to Fly Off the Market

Lastly, the listed homes in Loudoun are not lasting long. In Q3 2020, the average home in Loudoun was on the market for just over 18 days, the shortest amount of time on the market in more than 20 years. In Q3 2019, Loudoun homes were on the market for nearly double that at 35 days.

Are These Trends Here to Stay?

We are now nearly a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, and people and businesses are fully recognizing the benefits of remote work options. Technologies like Zoom, Google Docs, and Slack or Microsoft Teams mean that coworkers don’t have to be sitting in side-by-side cubicles to keep businesses moving forward. Additionally, many companies are reporting increased employee morale—due to better work-life balance and less time sitting on the Beltway—actually leading to increased productivity outside of the traditional office.

We saw the typically active spring market slide into summer and October was a major indicator that the typically active summer market will slide into the fall. Trends show that people are fully embracing wanting more space, more nature, and more privacy. And smaller communities outside of Washington, D.C. are embracing the changing needs of their changing demographics as well, adding new infrastructure, entertainment venues, restaurants, and shopping centers further supporting the westward shift in Northern Virginia’s home buying trends.

Whether you’re looking to move to Loudoun County and enjoy the many things our community has to offer or you’re looking to move even further out of Washington, D.C.’s metropolitan region, 15 West Homes is here to help you whether you’re selling, buying, renting, or staying put.

Market stats provided by Dulles Area Association of Realtors®

In 2017, Gallup published its most recent iteration of its State of the American Workplace report stating that more than 75% of Americans work remotely at least once a week, 43% work remotely at least half time, and 20% work remotely full time.

Up until 2020, those numbers seemed to be on a slow and steady rise. Then in March of 2020, those numbers started to skyrocket due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Before working from home was a realistic, long-term option, home buyers and renters often wanted to live reasonably close to their offices in order to avoid long commutes—and in the D.C.-met, those long commutes were often unavoidable either way. As companies around the world start to recognize the long-term benefits of a remote workforce, and with public schools in Loudoun County introducing distance learning as the primary form of education for the time being, the needs of American home buyers continue to evolve. 

Dedicated office space

One of the major benefits of working from home is the opportunity for better work-life balance. However, without dedicated office spaces, work life often bleeds into home life. As more companies commit to at least partial remote work policies long term, buyers are looking for homes with dedicated office spaces where they can focus on work during working hours then physically leave work behind to spend time with their families. Even if you don’t have a traditional office space at home, there are ways to get creative with your interior design to utilize unconventional spaces as dedicated working areas.

Large outdoor space

A major concern from working from home is not spending enough time outdoors, so, now more than ever, home buyers are interested in houses with large, usable, outdoor spaces. Fenced yards to allow kids and pets to play without needing 100% adult supervision, covered decks where you can get some fresh air during the work day while limiting the glare off your computer screen, and patios where you can barbecue with family and friends in the evening and on the weekends are great features to help you spend more time outdoors. Additionally, houses near parks, recreation areas, and walking and hiking trails offer home buyers alternative and convenient outdoor spaces.

Updated, functional kitchens

The American kitchen is one of the most popular entertaining spaces for family and friends, so wanting an updated kitchen is nothing new. However, as restrictions on restaurants continue and with the additional time remote workers save by not having a commute, cooking at home has become more popular, so more than simply wanting an updated looking kitchen, home buyers are looking for more functional kitchens, including state-of-the-art appliances and creative storage options. 

Moving to the suburbs

When searching for more functional space—both indoors and out—the Loudoun County suburbs become an obvious choice. Even as growth continues, Loudoun maintains an excellent amount of green space with larger houses and larger lots than city living often allows for. Whether you’re looking to buy, sell, or stay put in Northern Virginia, 15 West Homes is here to help you make your house a home.

How have your home needs changed since schooling and working from home? Let us know on Facebook!

As a Realtor®, I visit a lot of model homes. It keeps me on top of current trends…the types of homes people are buying, which floor plans are most popular, and the features and options that are in demand. One trend I started noticing even before the pandemic was the trend toward incorporating higher-end outdoor living spaces. Even though the weather here isn’t what it is, say, in southern California, there are creative ways to make outdoor spaces versatile year-round. 


And with all of us spending much more time at home now — and even working from home — it’s nice to have an outdoor area you can escape to either for leisure or even work. So I thought I’d share some photos that might inspire you, since we’ll soon be entering the Fall…my favorite season and one of the best times of year to truly enjoy more temperate outdoor time!

Make Your Outdoor Living Space More Usable By Providing Shade

Shortly after our family built our home in South Riding almost 18 years ago, we had a high-quality retractable awning installed over our 12 x 20 deck. Without it, we really wouldn’t have ever been able to enjoy al fresco dining. The sun was just too intense, and an umbrella over our table just didn’t cut it! The retractable awning has held up really well, and we typically put it out on a daily basis to keep our kitchen sunroom from getting too hot. 

Even better than a retractable awning is a more permanent roof structure over a deck or patio. This provides constant shade and a is a sturdier, upgraded option. It gives you a feeling of extending the living space of the house. 


Here’s a simpler, less costly example that can be done over decking material or over a patio. 


Expand Your Living Space with a Fully Enclosed “Outdoor” Room

Of course, you can take that a step further by enclosing the space into a screened-in porch or a “Florida room”/sunroom with windows all around. These spaces aren’t usually equipped with heat or air conditioning, but even in our area, you can probably get use out of them for about three-quarters of the year. You can install a fan and open the windows for some nice air circulation in the hotter months. 


Fireplaces Warm Up the Space and Are Great When Entertaining

For even greater year-round use of non-enclosed outdoor space — and to add a “cozy” factor — you can incorporate a feature I’ve seen in many models lately…an outdoor gas or wood burning fireplace. 


I’ve even seen this as an option on balconies of townhomes like the one shown below. The shaded space with both an overhead fan and fireplace is sure to get a lot of use, providing another socializing, dining, or working space for family members. 


If you’re looking to add interest and just a bit of shade, a pergola is an option. This lower-cost type of structure also allows you to adorn your space with beautiful vines. 


The Ultimate Outdoor Feature Right Now: A Pool!

Then, of course, you can go all-out and add today’s most coveted home feature: a pool. Pool contractors are supposedly very busy right now, but you could always get on someone’s schedule for early in the spring to enjoy a cooling pool next summer. Whether or not we are still in the middle of the pandemic, this is a nice feature that can add some value to your home and provide hours of relaxing enjoyment for the whole family.


As always, if you need any contractor recommendations for patios, decks, hardscaping, or pools, please reach out to me (Karen) at 703-585-3386 or [email protected] — or Maggie at 703-531-7363 or [email protected].