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.
Comments on this article about the new fees from freddie/fannie? http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/12/AR2009021204259.html
There goes the high-end!
Some questions regarding my upcoming move to a new building in Arlington.What's the best way to find reliable movers? Any recommendations? We are moving two bedrooms and living room 3/4 of a mile- not too much. Our new landlord is a friend of a friend so we've been very friendly. He is moving his family out of the condo and we will be renting. He is a first time landlord. We were just informed by the condo association that there is a $350 non-refundable movein fee. To my memory, we were not told about the fee in advance of the lease signing. The lease says the only charges we pay are utilities.** The landlord has bent over backwards to move us in (painting, new tile in bathrooms, new crown molding) but says we should pay the fee. Should we bite the bullet and just pay the fee or try to fight this, knowing that we really want to live in this place for a while and want to have a good relationship with the landlord?** Exact wording:Utilities and other chargesThe tenant is responsible for the payment of the following utilities and other charges in relation to the premises: electricity, telephone, internet, and cable.
Interesting article about bubble remnants/unfinished property in Arlington of all places..http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/17/AR2009021702990.html?hpid=artslotIn other news.. bizarro world continues.. Foreclosure "fix" on the way for those who took out mortgages and decided not to pay them.http://money.cnn.com/2009/02/17/news/economy/foreclosure_preview/index.htm?postversion=2009021717I personally think this is a sign of desperate measures to get good news to the stock market. Housing talk is cool, but our situation is much bigger than the housing bubble now... got gold?
Hi said: Should we bite the bullet and just pay the fee...Given what you've said, yes. Sounds like the fee is the landlord's responsibility, but as you said, you really want to live there and want to keep the friendly relationship. Is it worth the fight and possible bad blood for $350?
Thanks, the_Nothing, I drive past that mess frequently and I wondered why Arl. Co. was allowing it to just sit there. I had heard about the structural problems but thought they would just tear it down if the developer didn't have the $ to correct the problems.I've been to a few open houses of houses built by Ed Peete and they all appeared to me to be cheaply built, for houses in the middle and up price ranges. Of course that's not unique, especially for houses built during the bubble. But now the WaPo story pulls it all together. I think Arl. ought to cut somewhere else (the schools have gotten huge chunks of the bubble real estate tax windfall - they were doing fine before that and I think some modest cuts could be done without harming quality, e.g., slightly increasing class sizes) and take down this hazardous eyesore and create a park or sell the land.
HousingTracker.net is back up:http://www.housingtracker.net/asking-prices/washington-dc
What is everyone's thoughts on Vienna? We are thinking of purchasing a small, 3br, 1960s home in Vienna. It seems to me that prices in Vienna have come down some, but certain not as much as other parts of Fairfax county (i.e. Centreville, Falls Church, etc.). Do you think its a good time to buy in Vienna or sit on the fence for another 6ish months?Will Vienna hold value more so than other parts of Fairfax county?
Hi: pay the fee. This is typical. Owners forget about the building's ridiculous "move-in" fee. You certainly want to keep things friendly with the landlord because you may need a favor down the road (i.e. no rent increase, change in lease provisions, etc.)
Long-time lurker. Great blog and comments section. Brief bio - moved to Arlington in '04, watched the absurdity of the bubble with a mixture of frustration and amazement, and then a little schadenfreude. Got married last year and am looking to buy in later '09 or '10. I know the blog has a lot of talk about N. Arlington (which I have a story about for another day), but I'm really curious about a place just south of 50.http://franklymls.com/AR6980929Per Frank's comments at the bottom, the place was "gutted" and turned into a bunch of apartments. When people do that to a moderate sized house, is it just a matter of slapping up some walls which could be easily taken down? Or do they really try to go all out and run plumbing and electricity throughout? I drove by twice on Monday on my way to and from shopping, and there was a realtor and looker there both times. I guess you price a house $225K below assessment in Arlington and it catches people's attention!
Pacman: prices are still way too high in Vienna, and the older housing stock, frankly, leaves a lot to be desired. That's on my list of possible places to live, so I've been watching it for a while.Also, the quality of neighborhoods seems to vary wildly. The wife and I looked at a couple of Vienna rentals (houses). There was one neighborhood south of 123 where we got out of the car, looked around, and said "um, no way", and drove off without looking.As another gauge, rental prices seem to be all over the place, suggesting that some folks were in trouble. I even ran into one owner who had moved out of state, could not get his asking price, and decided to "rent it out until the market came back". His rent was too high, and even then, his asking rent suggested that his house was worth 2/3rds of what he was asking.
At first glance, the Obama mortgage plan looks like it will (1) Rescue everyone who took out a liar loan.(2) Allow those with a mortgage with fred/fan to refinance. But if your mortgage is with BoA or Wells Fargo, tough luck. (3)And generally screw everybody else to the tune of $75 billion it will cost to cover the Deadbeat Mortgage Assistance Act.
kob,Yeah, but let's see how many people they actually help out first. It might be another all show--no substance effort. Particularly since there's no principal reduction. If you make $35K and have a $600K mortgage, ain't no APY gonna be affordable.On my front, the wife and I are looking very carefully at our finances. I think right now that it would probably still be too early to buy, but the possibility of the 8K tax credit and a large number of low priced houses in my general area that are affordable on my salary alone (particularly if I ignore her student loans) at those prices... it's tempting. Own an ugly house for three years, get thing settled, make improvements and then 'move-up'.I never really liked the concept of moving up in houses. Transaction expenses are so huge, I really wanted the house I bought first to be the last house I bought. But given the circumstances, it may not make sense.Of course, there's always the possiblity that if this stimulus package fails (as I and many other expect it to do) that we'll get another one with the Senate's 15K. So maybe I shouldn't be worrying just yet.After all, we'll certainly solve this crisis eventually if we just throw enough money at it. I love that commercial.
kob, you gotta believe $75B is just round 1. When that doesn't work, Obama will be coming back for more. Much, much, more. When you give people a better mortgage with no cost to them and no negative consequences whatsover, then everyone will want it.Instead of modifying mortgages, create an entity to buy the foreclosures and rent them back to the foreclosed ex-owners. Then at least there are some negative consequences to taking taxpayer money.
I found Manassas' west coast twin:http://tinyurl.com/cb2zhgMy husband and I watched "House of Cards" last night, and were left with this question, which has been asked ad nauseum, but I have yet to see a satisfactory answer: why can we not let people experience the consequences of greed?These bailouts remind me of when I was a manipulative teenager: when I wanted something, I would set things up so my parents would have to give me what I wanted. "But Mom, you can't ground me from the car, because if you do, four of my friends won't have rides to school!" I would make my punishment contingent upon the needs of others, and get away with murder. Is that what's happening here?EVERYONE KNEW THIS WAS BALONEY. Right? They just wanted to get theirs. And we're going to pay for their deception, their unbridled greed, through our children's children? And no one is going to stand up and call time out?Please, someone who understands economic forces, please explain to me what would happen if all the banks who enabled these loans just had to be honest and give up.
Shamrock said: "Instead of modifying mortgages, create an entity to buy the foreclosures and rent them back to the foreclosed ex-owners. Then at least there are some negative consequences to taking taxpayer money."Agree completely, Shamrock. It's obvious there are vast classes of people who by virtue of income level simply aren't qualified to be homeowners. No need to turn them out into the street -- but convert them to renters by all means. When times get better, the government could start to sell these houses to the highest bidders and the renters would move on to other rental properties.
Shamrock said: "Instead of modifying mortgages, create an entity to buy the foreclosures and rent them back to the foreclosed ex-owners. Then at least there are some negative consequences to taking taxpayer money."I agree 200%. Since were into creating entities... that would make the most sense. Or we could just create another entity to create more entities to create more entities.. and those entities would carry the bad debt. If we create enough entities then we maybe be able to "lose" our debts in a black hole somewhere. I mean since we create money from nowhere we should have someplace to store the bad debt that was created with imaginary money..... my head hurts.. im going to go short some imaginary stocks.
Headlining the plan was a $75 billion Homeowner Stability Initiative, under which would provide incentives to lenders to cut monthly mortgage payments to sustainable levels. It defines this at no more than 31 percent of a homeowners income.1) so if i would of purchased a 429K home on a salary of 50K and not made a single payment in 18 months...I'd now get to keep MY home and have monthly payments of about $1260? with a mortgage of $180K? and I could sell MY home in another 6 months for its assessed value of $429K and get a tax free profit of $249k? then....I could purchase an 800K home with 20% down and a 4% interest rate....???
Hi: A $350 surprise bill is extremely unprofessional and the landlord should know it! And all the work you mention is stuff the landlord should do to maintain the property, nothing special.From a contract perspective, you cannot be required to pay a fee to which you did not agree. $350 is ridiculous, and shame on the condo association. Your lease may not mention the fee, but if your lease contains a clause where you agreed to the condo bylaws, and the bylaws require the fee, then you and/or the landlord have to pay it. Check where the requirement is and if you were not presented with the information previously, the landlord messed up and it is 100% their fault and responsibility to fix it.My advice: explain to the landlord that you did not agree to the fee and the landlord should have told you. Politely decline to pay it. If the landlord forces the issue, you should ask why you have to fix his mistake.You could look for a compromise, but what the landlord is doing to you is incredibly unprofessional and needs to learn that.
Is there a common agreement among people on this board that the $8,000 tax credit will eventually be reflected in housing prices? If so, does this really represent a stimulus to home buyers? As a buyer in today's market, I would rather have the seller drop their price by $8,000 than receive a tax credit towards the inflated cost for a house, which I will forever have to pay for through financing.
Jaime,It depends on the state of the market in specifics. In general, the tax credit is a boon to the sellers as they get to sell the house for $8K more than they would have before, yes. But if the market is already trashed, as much of the substantially lower priced areas are, then the subsidy really does act as a buyer subsidy.So, I would say it's $8K to an Arlington seller, but $8K to the Manassas buyer.
Hi: I can't imagine your landlord didn't know about the "move in" fee, especially because he lived there himself immediately prior to you. This looks like his mistake. In addition, as the owner of the unit, your landlord has the contractual relationship with the HOA, not you.You should politely tell him that you believe the fee is his responsibility and that he should have included the fee in the terms of the contract if he expected you to bear responsibility for its payment (similar to what he would have done if you and he agreed that you were to be responsible for other HOA fees such as monthly dues).Next thing you know, he'll be asking you to pay for special assessments should they arise.
Jaime said: "Is there a common agreement among people on this board that the $8,000 tax credit will eventually be reflected in housing prices?"I don't think so. First, it's duration is limited to 10 more months. Second, it only applies to first time house buyers. What portion of all buyers is that? And therefore, what portion of all sellers could even theoretically stand to benefit? Third, I don't think the mindset of today's buyers is to just hand over any and every benefit they get to the sellers. After all, buyers aren't desperate these days, but many sellers sure are.As an example, if I get a 20% off coupon from a store, I'm not suddenly willing to then go and pay 20% more for the item just because I have a 20% off coupon. But maybe I'm expecting too much rationality from the masses.
WTF should I buy a home now?
Just got an email from our landlord. We had asked if we could utilize the month-to-month extension clause of our lease if necessary. He said no. So we need to be out by April. cara, it looks like I might be closing before April 1 after all. Except I have no idea where, how, why...
>Is there a common agreement among people on this board that the $8,000 tax credit will eventually be reflected in housing prices?<DC has had a $5000 tax credit for a number of years and IMHO it has made no difference in prices. You don't even see it mentioned in ads, even though it remains in effect. I think most buyers look at it as a windfall, independent of purchase negotiation.
I probably should have qualified my previous suggestion of buying foreclosures and renting them out. The preferred thing for the government to do would be nothing. Let the system work, if you borrowed money using collateral and you can't pay it back, you lose the collateral. That is a very reasonable system and it discourages people from borrowing money and buying things they can't afford.
Buck, NoVAWatcher,The details are just coming out, and aspects of this bill will go to Congress, where it may face many changes. There will be many restrictions and your example of someone earning $50K buying a $429K home is most unlikely to be helped by the plan. It is the lenders who will make the voluntary decision whether to reduce the rate so that the mortgage comes down to 38% of income, and only if that is done the Fed help will kick in to make it 31%. Why would a lender do it for someone like that?
What is another $100+ billion on top of the pile anyways?Does anyone else get the impression the government doesn't have much of a gameplan and is just throwing money at the problem?One massive bailout after another with no coherent strategy or long term plan. It is like they just can't bring themselves to accept that they can't dodge this correction.
Leroy,Yes! See the Youtube video I posted above. :-D
There will be many restrictions and your example of someone earning $50K buying a $429K home is most unlikely to be helped by the plan.31% of monthly income of $50k/year is $1,291. The principle payment on a 30 year loan of $429k with 0% interest is $1,191. Throw in $500/month for tax and insurance and you can see that it's an impossibility to modify that mortgage down to 31%. Maybe stretch it out to a 50 year amortization at 0% interest? That gets you down to $715/month + taxes and insurace.
To back up what NoVAwatcher said, Vienna has a long way to fall. Like Arlington, the decline in vienna started late and will end later. It's still way too bubbly.I rent a shitty old SFH in Vienna. I wouldn't pay half what they are asking for them these days.
"Kevin said...Like Arlington, the decline in vienna started late and will end later. It's still way too bubbly."MRIS indicates the decline in Arlington started in 2005 - roughly the same time as it did in the rest of NOVA.Arlington Median Prices2005 - 499K (peak)2006 - 482K (-3.4%)2007 - 475K (-1.4%)2008 - 449K (-5.4%)The main difference is its just been much less severe in Arlington all along the way.
I've been focusing pretty much exclusively on Arlington for the last few months but we went out to Vienna 2 weekends ago to check it out. My take on the prices there is that they were being hit harder than Arlington but were still too high. We visited this open house:http://franklymls.com/FX6955944Selling for 450k, last sold for 320k in January 2003. It seemed like the ones we looked at were on their way back down the bubble slope.
Good observation, CRT.
Think the house would sell if they took the body out of the tree?http://franklymls.com/FX6905288
Ralph, that is a gem.
Tabitha: In response to you question about letting the banks deal with their consequences. There was a report on Frontline last night about the financial crisis. I watched it today. It follows the time-line of the whole meltdown, I found it kind of helpful, pretty boring though. I am trying to figure out why they can't let the banks deal with their horrible decisions also. I think it all boils down to the fact that the banks have been allowed to run rampant for too long. They were allowed to buy up as many other banks as they wanted, and now they are too large to be allowed to fail.Paul Krugman has been covering these issues a lot on his blog lately. The banks are insolvent (they have more liabilities than assets). Nobody wants to admit they are insolvent. Krugman thinks the only solution now is nationalization. I feel like my head is spinning trying to keep up with it. The US is in virgin territory on all of this, that is why there isn't a consensus on what the solution to the problems are. That is what I can gather so far. I need a financial meltdown for dummies book, and I have a business degree.
Kevin/NOVA:Any insight on what neighborhoods to buy in in Vienna and what neighborhoods to avoid?I believe there may be some bargains in Vienna and many over-priced homes. A small SFH I am looking at is for sale for 150k less than it was bought in 2006 and about 50k under tax assessment.
There definitely seem to be a number of houses in Vienna with big price drops:Like this oneIt's pretty close to the I-66 wall though. I guess the cracks are starting to show first in the less desirable houses before moving on to the rest. It looks like a nice house, just a questionable location.
Jeff B,nice find! it's a beautiful house at a (presumably) good price.
Pacman,I would look north of Route 123, if I were to live in Vienna or Oakton (just from having some experience with the area). Anywhere accessible to the bike trail I would personally aim for, but that's not always possible.Something like this, but that's really north.
Tabitha,Can you stay for another year if you choose to?
Hi-I think landlord should be responsible for the fee, but I can see how it would be awkward insisting since he is a friend of a friend. Have you offered to split it in half?We moved in Arlington a year ago and used JK Moving and Storage and were very happy with them. The only breakage was caused by my husband ;).
Oh, and Pacman-we have casually looked around Vienna but the problem I've found is that the neighborhoods I like are either too remote for commuting to DC OR too close to Maple Ave--so you would always be running errands on that traffic nightmare, you know? Hate that street.
harriet,we could sign another year lease, but i don't think we want to, because the marine corps will only move us this year. will keep updating.
Harriet: That's a sweet find, and if the buyer needs to take the Metro, that should be a pretty straight shot down Hunter Mill. 123, on the other hand, is all stop-and-go traffic.
Regarding houses in Vienna, those south of 123 are closer to Metro: SW Vienna for Vienna Metro and SE Vienna for Dun Loring. Traffic on 123 is not bad for those who live in the Town of Vienna. I think if you live further out you may be affected by traffic because you have to drive further to find groceries, shops, pharmacies, etc.
The Worldwide Economic Crisis Started with the American Mortgage Debacle and Will Not Be Over Until It’s Fixed - Period Opinion piece from Fairhaven Homeshttp://www.4fairhaven.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&layout=blog&id=9&Itemid=76
Thanks for the advice all. The landlord did not know about the fee since he's lived in the place since it was built 20 years ago and didn't have that problem. We settled on these guys after seeing all the good reviews. They were much more then the rest but hopefully we'll get what we pay for.
harriet,that house looks great. too bad no interior pictures. but are the transmission towers a concern?
MM,The towers run all along the W&OD bike trail. They certainly might turn some buyers off for health reasons, but I think those who live there are used to them being there.Route 123 is quite horrible, of course, but I always headed down the back streets when possible.
I second Harriet's comment. Once you get to know the back streets, you can navigate around 123 quite well. I think the sequencing of the traffic lights is the main cause of the problem; they are off by just enough to guarantee a start and stop experience.Hi: I used Gullivers. They did a good job. Make sure you have someone come by and estimate the move, this can be very helpful.
Hi,Best of luck. I had a terrible moving experience in September. Most important is to have someone come and give you a real estimate. This is not just so that you know how much it will cost, but so that the guys moving you will be expecting the correct size and time frame job. We told our moving company exactly everything we owned and were dead on in the number of boxes, and the guys coming with the truck had filled 1/5 of it with other people's stuff, and were expecting a quick job because they hadn't looked at page 2 of the details. An estimate would mean that the dispatcher has personally a better idea of the scope of your move, and you hopefully won't get the dead-ass tired crew that we got. (from a different mover) Also, specifically request a team that's been together for a while and an experienced leader. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. It also helps to have more than one person supervising them so that you can be both with your stuff in the house and watching them load the truck.
Considering that point 1 of Obama's new help for homeowners plan is in direct contradiction to what Fannie and Freddie had been planning on doing, I would conclude that their plans will be put on hold. It's possible that there will be some sort of arrangement worked out as a compromise between "70% max LTV or pay up" and "105% LTV with a smile", but I'm not sure what that will be. (nor apparently is Obama or the GSEs)The post article hints that the magic FICO is now 740. But I wrote the author and he hasn't written back with where he got this information, so at some point I have to write it off as hearsay until confirmation.
tabitha,So sorry to hear your landlord is continuing to be a thorn in your side. He won't even consider, say a 3 month pre-defined extension? I would think it will be easier for him to find renters in June than April... what do I know?Best of luck with the house hunt.-Cara
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