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.A real estate blooper. (H/T Tabitha)
A @J@ personal note. I am liquidating my holdings in a real estate investment. This was not my idea but based on what I've read, this isn't a bad time to do this. The man who ran it died last year and rather than keep going, the shareholders are closing down the corporation and taking a final disbursement as cash. I'm not comfortable revealing the details but for discussion, assume that my payout will be $100,000.Let's have some fun with this.What would you do with a $100,000 check, that's after taxes? Buy stock in BankAmerica, Citi, Fannie, General Motors? Essentially roll the dice. Or does 4.5% annual interest get your attention?
You don't mention your age or how long you are willing to hold assets, but if me right now.20% PM bullion10% PM miners (I'd wait a little on these they'll be going down)30% high-yield dividend stocks (there are several now giving way better than 4.5%!)40% cash -- wait for opportunitiesI would not touch the financials or automakers (except *maybe* F) with a 40-ft cattle prod.
Does anyone know any reasonably priced and trustworthy moving companies? I'm moving within the region.
@J@, I don't think the financials are that bad of an idea. The share prices are low because they have a lot of the losses factored into them. I wouldn't expect to see them top 50 dollars a share any time soon but at the current prices, you could probably see some gains over the next couple of years. You won't lose all your money in them because the government won't let them fail. If there is another bail out, then your stack in the company would be reduced by the government's share in it but it's unlikely that will happen as most of them have finally started posting profits again.I would also look at gold for some of the investment. It's gone up a lot but if the Fed doesn't back out of the current money printing schemes properly, we could be awash in currency and that could make gold (even at it's current price) look cheap. Goldmining stocks are another good option.There's a lot of things you can do that would be like gambling but it's really a difficult situation right now. I have a feeling that if you make the right "bet", you could make a killing in a few years but if you chose poorly, you're going to be wishing you had put that money under your mattress. If you really want to gamble, you could try shorting some stocks but you have to be careful right now, especially with the turn around in the stock market.
@J@If you assume that the market will continue to decline, anything that won't directly reflect that decline is a gain...
I am older and have other investments and savings. I don't need this one to live on. A solid vote for PM's? I did not expect that. You're not a gambler? Neither am I, that's why I held the real estate for so long. I thought about cashing out 15 years ago but didn't. What high-yield dividend stocks?
I believe the stock they are referring to are ones that have a large dividend relative to share price. In other words, you can buy a bunch of the stock for cheap and get a good amount of dividend back. The only thing you have to watch for with this is if the company is going to slash the dividend. If this happens, you'll see not only the dividend reduced but the value of your stock go down also. This could happen if the company is not very profitable and the best way for them to save money is to not pay you.
Jeff,I wonder if you looked at any of the companies mentioned in @J@'s list. At least at their balance sheets/income statements.Where exactly you see profits there? Yeah, most of the banks can show operational profits for the first two months of the quarter, than suddenly in the third month it's time to do the writedowns, and BANG! Your profits go down the drain! You can certainly put some money in them, but it should be really money that you can lose without much regret.
The thing with Citi is that if they dont get taken over, they could easily go to 10$ a share in a few years. That would be a pretty sweet return.
@J@Inflation isn't coming for at least another year, so stay in cash for now. When builder confidence returns (aka keep watching calculated risk) go back into the stock market in a diversified way. Builder confidence should lead the stock market by a good 2-3 months if not more. It may avoid the exact bottom, but you're talking about a 1 time buy, so you don't need the downside risk. Invest in well-positioned banks, energy stocks, and a portfolio of 5-6 long-shots with big potential like wind-energy, or who you think will be the next google or generic drug manufacturers or something. Take the time now, while it's in cash to investigate these companies. (Of course if I had 100k of funny money I'd probably be looking to open my own restaurant or something...)
Question to all you refi'ers.How much are the typical closing costs on a refinance? 1%, 2%? My mom tires easily of shopping around, and I'm not sure how much I'm going to be able to help remotely. Her interest rate is over 6% with more than 40% equity in the house, so it will definitely make sense to refi, but I want to make sure she gets a reasonable deal, as her income is fixed and people tend to try to take advantage of widows (and anyone else they presume to be naive).
@J@Well, I'm obviously more conservative than most here... I've been in all cash-- CDs-- since we sold our house in 2005. I was really tempted to short the stock market when it reached that crazy new peak-- when was it-- something like a year ago?-- but couldn't decide on how to time it. As they say, "The market can stay irrational a lot longer than you can stay solvent."Also, unlike many here I don't expect any huge run up in inflation (my opinion is- we should be so lucky!) and am worried about deflation. I might put a small amount-- certainly no more than 10% in gold -- and a like amount in Euros as a hedge against a falling dollar-- but that's because I expect to be spending a lot of time overseas. If I was going to be in the US I wouldn't worry about it.
Cara said...(Of course if I had 100k of funny money I'd probably be looking to open my own restaurant or something...)Good point-- one of the best uses of money might be to invest in a good, recession-proof business. If you don't want to start one yourself there seem to be a huge number of sound small businesses that are having trouble getting loans for no other reason than the financial freeze. The only question I have is how to find them? That in itself would be a very good business to start right now!
Cara - responding to a weekend post - there are not too many TH neighborhoods in Burke that I know a lot about aside from my own. If you were out and about over the weekend, you may recall heading west on Burke Centre Pky towards 123 and seeing a Safeway, Kohls and many other stores on your right. There is a TH neighborhood immediately on the left (directly across from the shopping center) and I drove back through there a month or two ago and didn't like what I saw. But other than that, I can't really comment.The other great thing about the area, depending on exactly where you end up (but assuming you are in walking distance to the VRE) is you are likely in walking distance to Lake Barton, which is a terrific lake for walking or jogging, as well as having two playgrounds for children. As I said before, the proximity to shopping for essentials (Safeway, Giant, CVS, Walmart, Target, Kohls) are so close by, as are gas stations, fast food, auto repair and other key things, that you really never have to leave Burke Centre unless you want to head to a real mall or chain electronic/dept stores, and then you can head to Fair Oaks. You already know the schools are superior, and I think you probably saw the difference in neighborhoods as well as compared to Franconia. Yes, your commute may be a few minutes longer each day, but its really a no brainer (at least in my mind) to have the quality of life and comfort that you can have in Burke. As for the 4 BR vs. 3, as you can see from the photos of my listing, I don't need 4 either. But if I had 1 less room the entire house (up and down) would "feel" smaller. I walked into a 3 BR in my NH that was for sale, and the downstairs (though set up similarly) is visibly much smaller, as is the upstairs. I bought the 4 BR because I could afford it and it was a good decision. Not trying to convince you about my house, just sharing that. I am buying a 4 BR (which I still don't need) SFH. I certainly know I may need 4 in the future but I can easily take advantage of the space until then, once we get the house.Good luck in your search. There are many options out there, especially if you want a 3 BR place.
thanks T,yeah, I left a post in one of the weekend buckets, but we really loved what we saw of Burke. The rolling hills, the way a lot of the neighborhoods are set up with TH's coming off of a loop of SFHs, where the TH's are closest to the VRE. It's very well planned and feels like an integrated community. And we drove through a lot of TH neighborhoods and the truth is that the worst ones in Burke look like the "this is not so bad" ones in Franconia. And "worst" seems to amount to insufficient parking and the owners obviously lacking the funds to fix their roofs. (Man we saw some warped overhangs above bay windows... not buying there in case it's the construction) My mother-in-law will be coming up soon and we'd like to show her around our potential neighborhoods, do you have any recommendations for a favorite local restaurant that we can take her to while we're out?
Cara - that is a great question about restaurants (that I plan to ask the current homeowners of my new place)! Finding great restaurants saves a lot of headache.As for places I love:Panasia is great for thai or asian cusine and everything is fresh and tastes great. It opened a year ago, taking over a place called Pacific Cafe. I loved PC, but Panasia is actually even better. It's a few stores down from the Safeway near 123. You can head to Coldstone on the other side of Safeway for dessert.If you want italian food or brick oven pizzas, I highly recommend Villa Bella. It is fabulous: http://villabellaristorante.com/main.html It is in the Walmart shopping center. You can head a few stores down to Dairy Queen for dessert.If you just want bar food with a twist, Hopsfrog Grille is a non-chain Burke pitstop. It is now located near Starbucks and Subway in the Kohls side of the shopping center by Safeway. http://www.hopsfrog.com/ It is a step up from many "barfood" stops and has a bit more diverse and higher quality menu. But you can still get some quality fish and chips or burgers there.Those are probably the top 3 within a 1-2 minute drive of my house and the Burke area in general. Also, there is a very good Mexican restaurant called "La Tolteca" if you take a right onto 123 from Burke Centre Pky and your 1st left. It is very good, but it is not really going to compete in terms of "quality" with the other 3 above. In that same shopping center is a brand new Golds Gym that is huge. I jog there from my TH and it is huge. They converted an old Food Lion into it, so you know there is a ton of space. They had a great signup package and it is so convenient not to have to even drive to a gym.
Thanks so much T!!Those sound great and are a perfectly appropriate selection of choices for my in-laws. And I'm always on the hunt for really good mexican, I'm a sucker for good mole. (even though I can make it myself).
Who is @J@???
Whenever I've visited friends in Burke, I've always liked it. The area seems very pleasant and relaxing My only gruff with Burke is that a lot of the SFH's have only a 1-car garage, which seems odd, given the size of the homes. Likewise, a lot of the townhomes don't have garages at all.
There is indeed a general lack of garages in Burke. In fact, I only saw one TH community with garages, and it's newer and not in the nicest location. But as I couldn't care less about a garage, just sufficient parking, it's no nevermind to me. The going price per garage space seems to be around 50k even if it's subtracting space from the TH, so it seems other people are putting a much larger monetary value on it than I would. If it were available, and only another 15k-20k I'd consider it, but not at the current premium.
If you head to La Tolteca w/ the inlaws or any other time during your house hunt or after you move in, be sure to get a "Cadillac Margarita". They take a regular lime margarita and float sangria on the top. You can mix them together while you are drinking it. It is quite strong and very tasty. As for TH and garages, you guys are right, not many around the Burke area. In my TH community, everyone is assigned 2 parking spaces and there are visitor spaces as well. Plus, there is ample street parking all around. I'd imagine if you found one with a garage, it would be just big enough to fit one car inside. Not much room for workspace/tools and that type of thing like you might find on a SFH w/ a 2 car garage. So it really is a "premium" just to fit a car under a roof. I'll save that $50k and walk in the rain for 5 seconds to get into my car if it happens to be raining.
t,Seriously, it's not like we live in Chicago where if you don't have a garage you can't start your car for 3 months because of the cold. Plus I'm not a good enough parker to fit even my tiny car into some of those TH garages, so it would end up being exclusively for bikes and kayaks and stuff, which can go perfectly well in a small shed in the back depending on the place.
Does having only a single car garage on a SFH reduce it's value?
i've heard pawn shops are reccession- proof. not sure if 100K'd be enough operating cost tho.
Jeff, reduce?? Number of garage places is amongst the features that contribute to the value/price of a house. You could think about it in terms of which buyers you will attract or how quicly you'll be able to sell the place instead, but yes there is a dollar value attached to number of cars one can park indoors, and houses that don't have a garage are generally priced accordingly...
I find there is a lack of garages nearly everywhere. Why do these newer townhouses not have front-loading garages?
I find there is a lack of garages nearly everywhere. Why do these newer townhouses not have front-loading garages? I'd say it's a space issue. Would you rather have a garage or an extra room. If you're building in an area with lots of space and large lots the only trade-off you have to consider is cost. Where space is tight, like much of this area and especially with townhouses, you have to give up something else to get a garage.I'm working on designing a SFH to replace a planned teardown in Arlington. While the considerations are a little different from a townhouse, we still had to address space issues on the lot. The attached garage was one the first things to go to allow for a nice basement Rec room (It's on a hill so the back of the basement is walk-out and allows full windows).We're settling for a small detached 1 1/2 car garage in an otherwise unused corner of the lot. According to the architect this will result in some loss at resale, but not nearly as much as no garage at all. If cost gets too high, though, we might still skip the garage completely.
Keith - I'd venture to guess that whatever loss in value you have from a detached 1 car garage vs. an attached 2 car will be replaced (and then some) by a basement w/ a rec room.If you are speaking of two equal houses both w/ basement rec rooms and then comparing your 1 car detached vs. a 2 car attached, then yes, you will lose some there. But on your lot, with the parameters you have to work with, I would agree the way to go is to have a basement rec room w/ your detached 1.5 car garage.
keithkSweet call, I prefer detached garages. No exhaust fumes or oil smell in the house. and you can build a breeze-way to it later if it's suitable.
One nice thing about a detached garage is lower heating and AC costs for your residence. The downside is the garage gets very hot/cold depending on the weather.
Wow, Lots of garage-bashing going on today. As a long-time resident of Springfield (22152), I also notices that Burke townhomes are few and far between with garages, but I think that might be to do with the older stock of homes, since very few townhomes built prior to the mid-'80s had garages. Two-car garage townhomes first appeared in 1986 as I remember, now of course, is the "norm" for a garage townhome.I also think the price quoted of $50k for a garage is a bit high in today's market, I would say closer to $20k to $30k in the Springfield/Burke area (I was seriously townhome shopping for two years, but my company just filed Chapter 11, so there is one less home shopper out there this year).
Interesting that opinions range all over the place on garages. We won't consider a house without a garage and prefer that it be attached (having owned homes previously with detached garages). There are no fumes in the house and it is so nice for security and weather-related reasons to have it. Not everyone needs or wants a rec room.My hypothesis is that the garage's value depends on what the norm for the neighborhood or area nearby is.If you look at the higher-priced houses in Arlington for example, almost all of them have a garage even on tiny lots. But lower ones don't and many in the middle range do not either. I would guess that in farther out suburbs many of the middle and lower range houses would have garages, because land is cheaper and lots are usually larger at the same price, obviously, and because you don't have to give up as much house space in order to have a garage as well. So a house built without a garage in one of those communities would be at a distinct disadvantage.
As a former Midwesterner, I don't understand Cara and Doug's comments about garages at all. ;) One of the absolute worst things about this area is the lack of attached garages. To Cara's point, we never had any problem with fumes or smell in my parent's house. I was recently reading a home inspection book and there is a specific code about having to "step-up" to get into the house from the garage for the precise reason of fumes collecting at ground level. And per Doug's comment, garages are traditionally not heated or cooled, so I'm not sure how this affects the house. Yeah, it might get warmer than the surrounding air in the summer if it is in full sun with no ventilation, but the converse works in the winter where the garage is an extra level of insulation on that side of the house.
Ace - my comment is entirely directed to Keith's situation.He either must lose valuable SF of living space and a rec room to have an attached garage, or he can build a 1.5 car detached garage and gain valuable SF of living space and a walkout rec room.If this decision gives Keith more SF and a nicer basement than others in his neighborhood who also have a 1 car garage, he wins.If there are other houses in his neighborhood with 2 car attached garages and the same SF of living space, then they will win. But in that last scenario, Keith can't win either way. If he builds the attached garage, he would have less SF than the other homes. If he builds a detached 1 car garage, to match SF, he loses to those who want 2 car garages.So buyers will have to deduct the worth of that 2 car attached garage if pricing off of a home that has it.Every buyer is different. If I were a buyer in his neighborhood and was faced w/ 2 options:1. Pay X for Y SF and a detached 1 car garage.2. Pay X for (Y-200) SF and an attached 2 car garage.Then I have to make that decision. Personally, if priced equally, I would lean towards having that added walkout rec room and SF of living space.Surely an attached 2 car garage is preferable to a detached or attached 1 car garage. But in his situation, I think he is making the right decision.
what is a 1.5 car garage?
I'm with Fred and Ace: I was shocked by the lack of garages when I moved here. "You mean you want *that* much for a [apartment/townhouse/SFH] and it doesn't (or has only a 1-car) garage????"Oh, and I've never had any problems with oil smell, exhaust, etc. from an attached garage. Even an unheated garage is warmer in the winter than the outdoors. I'd much rather get into a dry 35° car than a snow-covered 25° car! Or an 85° vs. a 150° car (especially with black leather seats).And when you have an insulated garage (like a garage townhome), there is nothing like walking out to your 55° car on a 25° day!And as Ace mentioned: I don't like the idea of leaving my car out overnight where anyone can vandalize it or break in.
This is a bank-owned property.Wondering if there is something structurally wrong?This doesn't have a garage.
Not only that, NoVAwatcher, you or your spouse or child personally are just a little bit safer if you drive home at midnight, for example, and can pull directly into your attached garage (if you have a remote door opener), rather than having to walk alone from the street or a detached garage into the house. That's especially true if you're in a neighborhood where you may have to search for a parking spot.Yes, it's tough for transplanted Midwesterners to understand the costs of everything AND the absence of garages around here!
MM, it's an "oversized" garage - it's big enough to hold garden tools, bicycles, a workbench, and/or other stored stuff, as well as one car, but it's not big enough to qualify as a 2 car garage.
+1 on the Villa Bella recommendation. Best little restaurant in Burke by far. I lived in the apartments behind the Wal-Mart for a couple of years before I got married and my then-girlfriend and I loved Villa Bella. We still go there and eat whenever we happen to be over that way. Hopsfrog was too smokey for us the one time we tried to go there and we had to leave. It may be different now.
"I've been in all cash-- CDs--"Then you have done well. Many people have lost several hundred grand from their 401(k), stocks. "(Of course if I had 100k of funny money I'd probably be looking to open my own restaurant or something...)"Did that earlier this year. Now a silent partner in a local restaurant. Looked into a Foster's franchise but could not make it happen. The death of the man who was operating the real estate based business forced the liquidation.We (the investors) did well but it was time for us to cash out. I'm a real estate "Bull" but I'm too heavy in real estate. I'll find a home for the "$100K".I'm thinking "penny stock". General Motors, Fannie Mae, Sallie Mae, etc.
Doug: I'm not sure why a detached garage would give you lower heating and cooling. The way my last house (er, SFH) was built, the side of the house meeting up to the garage was as insulated as the rest of the house. Effectively having the garage attached to that wall made that side double insulated. The garage wasn't heated or cooled, but whatever extra heat leaked through the walls and door to the house plus whatever engine heat had soaked into the garage floor made the garage warmer than the outside. It wasn't by a huge amount -- 35° inside vs. 25° outside -- but it would always noticeable cooler when I opened the garage door to shovel the driveway. And even that little bit of extra heat will keep the doors from freezing shut, etc.
hehehehe so many wimps on the garages.Coming from the midwest I've been confused about a lot of things here, no garages, no basements (what do you all do in tornadoes??), the prices...But yes, some garages do make the whole house smell of oil. It may not have happened to you, but it does happen. If you're buying an existing home there's little to nothing the owners can do to prevent you from smelling it, so you should be fine. But seriously people, I'm way more concerned about carbon-monoxide poisoning than I am about getting mugged coming from my assigned parking space to my TH. In other parts of the DC area, including Alexandria, yes, I can see the logic, but not out in Burke. Heck, we're going to be mostly walking all the way from the VRE, so, if we're going to get mugged, there's no lack of opportunity. So, in summary, yes, a garage is a nice thing, but it has it's own "dangers" and if it's a choice between a real sized walkout basement and one that's mostly taken up with car-space I'd prefer the greater amount of living space and cleaning off my car. There are such things as tarps and windshield reflectors to combat the weather...
Just my two cents, but I could not care less about a garage. We are a 1-car household and I get around by bicycle. Shopping loosely for a townhouse in Arlington, Falls Church, etc. Then again, we would not buy in Burke as it is too car-centric for us.Now basements I do care about.
Cara, the point is that there is a diversity of views on this, and good reasons can be given for differing views. For example, some people don't want to clean more living space than they need, or don't like the underground feeling of basements (or the water problems some have), even with some little windows or a walk out door. So, some people like basements (finished or not), some like garages, some like both, some like neither and would rather have a larger lot, or simply don't want to pay for any of these. Sellers or builders can run into problems if they believe all buyers have the same preferences and will pay for them in the same way.
ace,good point.On that note, in a normal market a non-motivated seller (i.e. one that wants to move, but is in no hurry) waits until a buyer comes along who values the same things that the house has to offer. In a bubble run-up market, such a seller names their price and waits until someone is willing to pay that for the house despite any drawbacks. In a downward moving market such a seller should price assuming that the first buyer is their best buyer regardless of whether the house meets all of that buyers needs and so should price aggressively to sell sooner rather than wait for that perfect fit.Fair analysis?
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