Earthquakes and Northern Virginia Real Estate

by Karen Briscoe
August 29, 2011

Northern Virginia experienced the largest earthquakes in the last 114 years on August 23, 2011.  The epicenter of the earthquake was in the Piedmont region of Virginia and the effects of the quake was felt up and down the east coast, from Quebec City, Quebec to the north in Canada to Atlanta, Georgia to the south.

When an event as unusual as this occurs, everyone has a story to tell about where they were when it happened and what they thought it was.  I was stopped at a traffic light in McLean on my way to Great Falls and thought the transmission must be going out on my car as it was vibrating so much.  My partner, Lizzy, was showing a home and thought the air conditioning system was making a very strange racket and thought that it needed to be serviced soon!  Kristine, the Office Assistant for HBC Realty Group was in her home and thought that the washing machine either was off balance or her kids were stomping up and down the stairs. Jessica, the Office Administrator for HBC Realty Group was in the office and actually surmised it must be an earthquake because couldn’t come up with anything else that it could rationally be.  My husband was in his office at the Sugar Association on the 10th floor in Washington DC.  He felt the building shake and immediately moved away from the windows as the emergency system in the building was blaring an announcement to evacuate at once.  Our daughter, Callie, was home from college and said she looked out the window of our town home in McLean and saw the older town homes across the street shaking.  Callie said she felt safe and secure in our solid, well built brick town home.

Since the last earthquake felt in Virginia was over a century ago, it isn’t something that most people are routinely concerned about.  So is it something to take into consideration when buying or selling real estate?  Most homes in Northern Virginia are not designed and thus constructed to withstand the effects of an earthquake because they are so rate in the eastern United States.  If there are any concerns, the structural integrity of the home should be evaluated by an engineer.  Further it is recommended that any chimney shafts should be inspected by a specialist in that trade.   Take photos of any cracks and measure the length, width and depth.  Keep track of any changes in the cracks and consult with a structural engineer if any change occurs.

The Huckaby Briscoe Conroy Realty Group is knowledgeable in all aspects of buying and selling homes in the Northern Virginia area.  Please contact Karen Briscoe and Lizzy Conroy via the means most convenient for you:, 703-734-0192,

Karen Briscoe is Principal of the Huckaby Briscoe Conroy Group (HBC) and author of "Real Estate Success in 5 Minutes a Day". She is an Associate Broker in Virginia, a Certified Luxury Home Market Specialist, and a member of the Women’s Council of Realtors. Karen began her real estate career developing residential lots with the Trammel Crow Company in Dallas, and in commercial real estate with The Staubach Company in the Washington, DC Metro area. Karen has a Masters Degree from Southern Methodist University and her BA from Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri – her hometown.
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