Continuing to examine and hold a lively discussion of the Northern Virginia Real Estate market.
Please post your local house search updates, MLS finds, on-topic ideas, and links here.
Sorry for hijacking the blog again for advice, but we're moving shortly, and are finally booking a moving company to move our furniture from MD to VA. Does anyone have any recommendations or warnings on local movers? Getting the stuff there without damage, accuracy in pricing, no holding our stuff hostage while demanding more money... We have just enough large furniture that I'm not willing to take my friends up on their offers to help us move, because it's ridiculous to break all their backs when we can just pay professionals to do it more quickly and easily anyway. And the quotes so far are all under $800. But that's based on the positive experience I had when my new job down here paid for the movers. The quotes were sent to my husband, so I may post later with specific companies, the only one I know now is "2 guys and a truck".
Having done the opposite move (Virginia to Maryland -- about 45 miles), I can understand why you wouldn't want to impose upon your friends. One piece of advice I would have is to make sure to get a firm price quote. We mistakenly went by an hourly rate and then got nickle and dimed on "heavy item" charges, etc. I assume you are still renting? Are you moving to Franconia/Springfield to try out the area? My wife and I sold our place off of Beulah Rd. and are renting a place in AA County to see if we can stomach the commute.
Tell the movers that you will tip them 50$ each if they keep the price down. You will pay less overall for sure.
ZMonet,The hourly versus fixed rate is a concern, thanks.Yup, we'll be renting from the Elms at Kingstowne (off Hayfield), and walking all the neighborhoods to see which ones we like, or if we like the area at all. So far we found the local Sushi joint at Landsdowne center to be good and quite the local hangout. Go figure, the good local restaurants are right next to Ft. Belvoir. Duh! Any input as someone who recently moved away would be welcome.
Cara,I went to 123movers.com and did a request of quotes couple weeks ago. I am in Herndon area and so far the cheapest rate I got is $85 per hour. If you want, I can share with you all the movers' contact information I have received so far and you can call them up to check the rate. This way you won't get overwhelmed with all the junk mails.
lw,Thanks for the link. $85/hour is really cheap, but the question is how accurate that ends up being, so I'm more looking for after the fact recommendations. So far quotes that have come in include:Sprint Van Lines (3-man crew)2 Guys and a Truck Around the Clock Moving and Storage (4-man crew)doug,thanks, definitely a strategy to consider, and that hadn't occured to my cheap-ass self.
Cara,I used to live in Amberleigh, about a 8 minute (you can tell I did it repeatedly) walk to the VRE and 10 minute walk to the metro. I loved the Franconia/Springfield area. When I came to DC at the beginning of 2000, I moved into the apartments that are down the street (going towards Walmart) from the Shoppers. In 2002 I moved in with my (now) wife in her condo in South Arlington, but I liked the Kingstowne area so much that we moved back to the area in 2003. We renovated absolutely everything in our townhouse and I would have been fine with staying, but my wife's traffic-filled commute to Anacostia was really bothering her. Some days it would take her an hour and a half to drive home and it usually was about 45-50 minutes. We probably could have stayed in the area longer, but we decided that then (about 6 months ago) was as good a time as any to sell and rent in Maryland to do exactly what you're doing -- try out the area before making a larger commitment. We now live in rural Maryland, about 32 miles oustide DC, but my wife claims her commute is about the same. My commute time to the Smithsonian area has about doubled, but that is because I insist on taking mass transit, which requires a drive to the bus, taking the bus in and then walking 3/4 a mile.Did you take a look at this house in your search (http://tinyurl.com/6yygav)? There are issues, but it is very close to the metro and I know that it was remodeled quite a bit. It is on a lot of land, but that is sort of misleading because it is divided by a storm basin cutting the property in half (you have to cross over a small bridge). You'd have to see the inside, but $385K (if this is a real price since it is a short sale) seems within shouting distance of affordability.
zmonet,Great to hear you really adored Kingstowne, we're moving there from Rockville to get the much shorter commutes to King St, Alexandria and Anacostia. I'm surprised her commute to Anacostia was so long. I've only driven mine once, but it was only 25 minutes. I guess I will have to be very choosy about when I come to and leave work, it will take time to figure out when the best hours are.We had not seen that house. We're looking more along the lines of your old townhouse. $385k puts it outside our "might fall to within our true price range of $250k" search radius. It's also a lot more house than we need, but I do like the lot, even if it's broken up it's nice to have tree-field emptiness behind you.
Her commute was 20-25 minutes when she went in at 6:00 in the morning. It was the return home at 5:30-6:00 PM that took all of the time. I think I've seen my wife cry on only like 4 occassions and one of them was utter frustration from an hour and a half stuck in traffic on 395 back to our townhouse.We bought our townhouse for just under $300K in 2003 so I think it is certainly possible that prices get down to your price range. I think you'll see some price resistance at $300K for livable places though before things move down to the $200Ks.
zmonet, can you get to the trains from that side of the tracks?(If Sarah is reading, thanks for your kitchen upgrade comments, yesterday)
Cara, I agree with the person who said to get an employee to inspect your stuff in advance and get a firm price quote - not an estimate. Then pay it and nothing more. A local company quoted a fair but high price that I accepted, but then sent 6 people out to do a 2 or 3 person job. They kept getting in each other's ways so it didn't save time and they wanted about twice as much as what I was quoted at the end, thinking they were on an hourly rate. We showed them the quote and told them they weren't getting a penny more. They were annoyed at the poor scheduling and took it out on us and our stuff. Would never hire this company again.Checkbook.org has ratings and neighbor comments on moving firms.
Dominic -- Yes, you can get to the VRE from that side of the tracks. There is also a pedestrian bridge that gets you over the tracks to Metro.
I've moved a lot recently and used emove.com where we rented the truck and hired labor. You seem on the edge of DIY and this might be your happy, money-saving medium. We've used the DC-local "weekandends" team two or three times and the "gallaudet" student team once. All good. Weekandends only 1 guys speaks english and gallaudet only one guy could communicate with the hearing with ease but I'm a big ham so patemime with the other two was kind of fun. The way it works is you estimate how much time you need and their estimator is pretty close. You pay online by creditcard and when they finish, you give them your code. If you go over, you give them code and cash. I have not tipped as you are paying then, in essence, cash. Also, if you fill out the online form, you get the transaction fee refunded to your card (5.95). Other than getting money back, the great thing about that is you can read online reviews. Finally, I used "week and ends" from Montgomery Village to DC...they basically followed me over there...
I used Chazco a few years ago and had a terrible experience. Their quote was low, but they used inexpensive day laborers with no experience and damaged several pieces of our furniture. To top it off, they gave us headaches about the supplemental insurance coverage we purchased (turns out there really isn't an insurer, they just collect the premium and then try to refuse to provide coverage at claim time). Anyway, if it's not clear at this point, don't use Chazco (in Alexandria).My advice:-Rather than pay the workers $50 bucks to cheat their employer, make them an upfront promise of a tip if all your property gets moved without damage to the furniture or the residences.-Put move quality ahead of price.-Be careful when it comes to purchasing "supplemental insurance."
Problem solved.Democrats call for foreclosure freeze
novahog,Dear lord.At least dyslexia makes my life funnier. I read the final line not as:"The Bush administration announced Sunday it was taking over the two companies in a bid to help reverse a prolonged housing and credit crisis. "but as:"... in a bid to help prolong a reverse housing and credit crisis. "
lotsa new listings in 22207. my prediction for Sep - 81 new listings, up 88% YoY, or 119% MoM.sellers are responding to the low interests rates. buyers, what say you???
Thanks, zmonet. Sorry just getting back, work is nutz today.
dominic, good question!zmonet,looking at the google map satellite hybrid, my guess is to get there the back way you walk up Barry Road to the tracks then walk along a road along the tracks and then the VRE station will be on the East side of the tracks and you can cross over to the Metro station there too? Is that how it works? That makes that area even sweeter than I thought (assuming up Beulah to F/S Prkwy, over the bridge on the North side around and down).
cara, yes, but nearly $400k and a good piece outside the Beltway? And it looks like it needs a decent amount of work.
MM said... lotsa new listings in 22207. my prediction for Sep - 81 new listings, up 88% YoY, or 119% MoM.sellers are responding to the low interests rates. buyers, what say you???MM - I think im game - I gotta win my dollar back!!! Question - how will we know? MRIS says there were 140 listings in 22207 last Sept. Are you saying we will now see 221 listings Sept 2008?
I moved about a year ago and used Blake and Sons. I got quotes from 3 companies, Blake and Sons was in the middle. While they cost more than the rock bottom prices you've quoted, I felt the guys they used were worked their butts off (when one guy can carry my 200 lb 36' sony trinton up two flights of stairs i know they are working hard). They quoted me something like 8 1/2 hours for the move with a minimum time of 7 hours. They did the move in 7 hours...Another company I spoke with was J&K Moving & Storage which had good references through some friends. They were more $$ than Blake and Sons, but seemed very reputable from the people i spoke with. I know when I spoke with the 3 companies they all would give me a max time allowed as well, so if you are concerned about getting overcharged that might be an option.
Cara, I moved a few months ago and used Able Moving. They sent someone out to look at what I needed to move to give me an accurate estimate, including the number of movers that would be needed. The movers were very quick and they wrapped my furniture so it didn't get scratched. Their URL is http://www.ablemoving.com/. They do have a minimum of three or four hours.
Cara -- Yes, you have the walk down precisely. As for the house back there, while I lived in the area I watched as they made many improvements to the outside. There is another free-standing garage on the property. They built a deck. It looks like they were doing some pretty heavy renovations to the inside too, but I never got to see inside (I just saw evidence of rip-out in the trash as I walked to the VRE). At the very end, the place was being rented out. It is possible it is still being rented. I think the biggest thing is that it needs some landscaping. There are many mature trees on the property and the heavy shade makes it difficult to grow much of anything without some care.
crt:at the bottom right corner of MRIS's zipcode stats page is the "Total NEW listings:". you'll see Sept 07 is 57. I looked at the #s again and realized I got the YoY % wrong. It should be 42% not 88%. don't know what/where I was looking at. But the 119% MoM is correct.and since this morning two more listings were added to MLS (nice homes with VERY good prices btw). so here's my modified prediction for 22207 New Listings: 47% YoY 127% MoM
novahog, what do you suppose the alternative to foreclosure is for people who won't pay their mortgage? just let them stay for free? i just don't get the logic behind a foreclosure freeze.
On an ad for the local 11pm news (WUSA 9), one of the local features tonight will be a local housing expert, who will explain that housing is about to turn around, and our area will lead the way.Also noticed that NVAR had a meeting at GMU today. I wonder if the 'expert' will be the much-mocked Stephen Fuller?
shamrock,Not sure if you thought i was serious with the "problem solved" comment. I should have put sarcasm tags around it :)Foreclosure is the only logical outcome. I think a 90 day freeze is stupid. I assume it’s an attempt to keep people in their houses long enough to vote on Nov 4.
Drumroll please...and the winner is...Stephen Fuller, local NVAR shill at GMU!...I'm left feeling stupid for watching that. He even had the gall to say that there would be a spike with new workers coming into the next administration. Look at any graph of historic prices for the area, and you'll see that prices are completely uncorrelated with the start of new administrations.
Updated info on the freezeThe senators — Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Charles Schumer of New York — wrote that the companies should "take whatever actions are necessary" so more families "do not have to suffer the economic and personal disaster of foreclosure."Prominent Democrats including Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, have made it clear they expect Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to do more to help homeowners now.Hold on to your wallet.
"Prominent Democrats including Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, have made it clear they expect Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to do more to help homeowners now."Well THAT didn't take long... the government has only had control of those two for days and already politicians are trying to make the situation worse by trying to legislate the free market. There is no such thing as a free lunch. If Fannie and Freddie are forced to do things that don't make economic sense... then the taxpayer is going to see their bill for this mess grow that much larger.The sooner those two can be broken up and sold off in chunks the better.
You will regret moving to Maryland. I built a beautiful custom home there and left to come back to VA after 10 years because I hated living over there.I am SO GLAD to be back in VA.
Thanks for all the input, everyone!!I'll report back on how it goes in a couple weeks.-Cara
Bay400, So far we really like the Annapolis area of Maryland over the Fairfax area of Virginia. It makes more sense for our jobs, the schools are much better if/when we have kids and the overall quality of life seems better. I am also originally from the Northeast, so getting closer to family is a plus too. I'd agree that it isn't for everyone, especially if you are looking for close proximity to shopping etc., but working in the city in living out in a more rural area is enjoyable...at least so far. Sorry you had such a bad experience.
"MM Said...and since this morning two more listings were added to MLS (nice homes with VERY good prices btw). so here's my modified prediction for 22207 New Listings:47% YoY 127% MoM"MM - Sounds good. Ill take the under - book it...Incidentally, this discussion between Bay 400 and Zmonet is interesting because it is perhaps the one exception to the substitution effect (I say this tounge in cheek BTW).My experience has been that Marylanders by and large do not like Virginia and Virginians do not like Maryland - and very few are willing to relocate across the potomac. I dont know why that is but I get it too. Its almost as if similar MD vs. VA areas each have different "feels" to them. There are parts of MD that I really enjoy, but for some strange reason, I could never see myself living there.
zmonet:i thought fairfax has the best school system in the area, and nationally renowned. are you saying Annapolis (which county is it?) is better?thanks!
crt, as a relatively recent newcomer to the area, I was also puzzled when people told me about the MD vs. VA (and also vs. DC "thing"). I think it has to do with three things:1) the perception that MD is Democratic/liberal and VA is Republican/conservative (no differentiation with NoVA)2) the nature of the housing stock--there seem to be a lot of 40s houses in close-in VA and a lot of 60s houses in close-in MD - if you like one and dislike the other, you'll prefer one state vs. the other3) self-selection based on where you work - employers are different, e.g., tech corridor, NIH, Capitol Hill, Georgetown/American/GWU, K Street and attract different people, and if they want to live near their employers, this will affect the "feel" of different areas.Discuss amongst yourselves, darlings.
MM -- I'm in AA County. I am renting, so I don't think it is true substitution as I owned something in Virginia. My wife and my plan is to rent in AA County, see if we like it and can stand the commute, and then make a decision as to where we want to purchase. As for a debate about the schools, I admit that I'm not an expert. Getting information on school systems can be difficult, but when comparing schools where we were (off Beulah Rd, at the border of Alexandria and Springfield) versus schools in AA County, a lot of places in AA County seem to win out. I am using www.greatschools.net to do my comparison and they use the standardized tests from the state so: (1) there is issue as to whether that is a good way to judge a school; and (2) it is really a rating of a particular school as compared to others in the state.Finally, I don't expect most people on the Northern Virginia Housing Bubble site to think my move is a good one as most people either live in VA or want to live in VA (I'm unsure what category Neil - Got Popcorn?, fits into).
zmonet,I actually am moving to VA for the convenience factor alone, and would greatly prefer AA MD, if it weren't for my husband's commute. I'm also from the NE, and I can rationalize MD as being part of NJ/Del/MD, and thus the mid-atlantic, thus closer to being like the northeast, but can't do that for VA, even though we'll be in NoVa which is hardly like VA as a whole. So I am particularly heartened by the fact that you as a fellow-northeasterner liked Kingstowne so much. Best of luck.
Count me as another mover-to-MD-- if and when I ever get back Stateside... I lived in Alexandria and Arlington the whole time I was in the DC area, but my family is all in Montgomery County. I tried to get my mother to consider a retirement place in Arlington or Alexandria, but she has such bitter, bitter memories of being a northern liberal in Virginia in the late 50's, early 60's (being spat on by an elegantly dressed Southern 'lady' when she picketed a whites-only theater and having election officials try to prevent them from registering to vote) that she wouldn't even consider it. She was in a near clinical depression by the end of the time we lived here. This was in Charlottesville, not NOVA, but neither that nor the fact that both Arlington and Alexandria are pretty strongly Democratic makes a difference to her. So although I liked the two A's quite well, I probably won't be coming back. Not being from around here I don't have any strong feeling one way or another. I'll go wherever is closest to family and work.
Trust me that I could give you SO MANY REASONS that I hated Maryland, but I won't in order to not offend anyone. Suffice it to say I am SO HAPPY to be back in Virginia-For those that are happy there-great-but I wouldn't ever live there again for love or money.
We lived in Mont Co, MD for a few years and moved to NoVA (FFX) for my career. Initially I didn't like the move. It seemed FFX was more crowded; then there was the annual state inspection and property taxes for our cars. Even the traffic police seemed to be ticketing more aggressively. I had lived very close to JC Penney, HECHT's, Walmart, Costco, etc. but in the FFX location I moved to, shopping is not as easy.On schools, FFX Co and MontCo are roughly similar. I don't know much about the schools in Anne Arundel, but have heard Howard Co schools are also excellent. I hear homes are still affordable in Columbia, MD. If you are talking about highly ranked schools, Rockville/Potomac and Bethesda have many top schools comparable to schools in Langley/McLean/ARL.And if you are looking at graduate programs in Engineering/Comp Sci/Physics, UMd Colege Park is ranked much higher than UVA, VT, or GMU, though UVA has a better overall reputation as a public university.But after living in FFX for a few years, we would like to stay in this area. I don't understand bay400's dislike of MD. I don't know if it has to do with MD's more liberal outlook. But I think MD is a fine place to live if you can find a job you like. I think NOVA has more government contractors than Mont Co and finding technology positions is probably a bit easier on this side.
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