Walking with the dog through the swirling leaves on a cool, crisp fall morning. Good time for thought and contemplation.

At this time a year ago, boxes surrounded us in our condo in Arlington. After meetings with a Realtor, our home for the previous 23 years would go on the market in a few days and she expected a quick sale, driven by a hot condo market where two-bedroom units smaller than ours commanded seven figure prices.

As it turned out, we sold the condo in two days. The buyers planned to gut it, remodel it extensively and “flip” it to take advantage of the hot market. Two days after selling, we found our current home. After an exchange of offers, we put down a contract.

We closed on our condo sale on November 29 and then closed on our new home purchase five days later on December 1. We spent December on various minor improvements to the property, including new flooring in the entrance hall and dining room from Sam Hancock at Highland Hardwoods and began living there right after the first of the year.

Ten months later, we’re about three-quarters moved in. Boxes remain in the garage, although less than half the mountain of cardboard that rose nearly to the ceiling after the movers left on February 1. The past 10 months have also brought a new water heater, a new dish washer, new gas logs for the living room fireplace, a new fireplace in the dining room, new furniture in just about every room, a new hot tub on the back porch, extensive changes in the plumbing plus a new dog and cat to join the other two cats who moved with us from Arlington.

From an investment point of view, our new home has already paid off handsomely. The latest tax assessment places the value of the house and land well above what he paid just 10 months ago. Similar homes and acreage now sell for far more. Property values in Floyd County continue to rise – a double-edged sword that rewards those selling but punishes those who must pay the higher taxes and deal with the problems of growth.

The couple who bought our condo didn’t fare as well. The condo market flattened in Arlington 45 days after we left and, instead of flipping the property for a tidy profit, they are now renting the unit out for $3500 a month. Optimistic builders who expected to sell new, smaller units for $1 million plus are settling for two-to-three hundred thousand less. Some say the market is saturated. Others blame economic unease. Still others say a growing gang problem in Arlington drives prices down.

But the problems of Northern Virginia seem far away now as Chewy hits me at full gallop and then scampers off to plunge headfirst into a pile of leaves. Fall has come to the mountains. Our mountains. Our home.