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 trio of links:Irvine Renter argues that the "immuno-zones" will fall the furthest because the perception of zero-risk RE investing was strongest there: Irvine Housing Blog The New York Times bemoans the difficulty of getting banks to reduce payments for struggling homeonwers.And The Economist has a look at the phenomenon of walking away (via patrick or CR).
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/26/AR2009062602040.htmlDid anyone read this column? The last question wasa real howler of an answer from the columnists.Some guy has a decent mortgage and a HELOC butis 30,000 leagues under the sea on valuation.The reasonable answer is to stop paying the HELOCand call the note holder on that and offer to settle for 5 cents on the dollar.
New reality programming for the rest of usNew HGTV show gives homeowners the cold truth...Sabrina Soto, a designer and stager who hosts the show, said that several couples profiled on "Real Estate Intervention" are facing the prospect of foreclosures or short sales - selling for less than they owe on the mortgage. "It's a very difficult program to work on; every week I meet a couple in such a horrible predicament, really heart-wrenching stories," she said. "This is the reality of what's going on in the market. It's kind of a breath of fresh air. We're not trying to sugarcoat anything."The first episode showcased a couple with a more prosaic relocation need: They had to move from Baltimore for Philadelphia for job reasons. Showing the evidenceReal estate expert Mike Aubrey, who describes himself as "soft as an 8-pound sledgehammer," valiantly tried to demonstrate that the $239,000 they were asking for their row house wasn't viable. He took them to two comps, or nearby comparable listings - one a home that had recently sold for $217,000, and another a home on the market for $228,000. Although both the comps appeared larger and in better shape, the couple staunchly insisted that their own place was much more desirable. "Why aren't they getting it?" Aubrey mused to the camera. "They're upset; they chose not to listen to me."-- "Real Estate Intervention," HGTV, Thursdays at 10:30 p.m.
Cara-The first article is interesting it does not give much evidence that "immuno-zones" were bid up the most. I may wrong, but I always assumed that PWC/Loudon were bid up the most and this is part of the reason they have fallen the most. Those further out areas went from being dirt cheap to very expensive in just a couple of years. Although areas close in also bubbled they started from a much higher starting point so percentage wise I think they went up less.I do agree that the immuno-zones have more to fall, but that is because PWC and further out areas are near/at a bottom and Arlington has only fallen a little, not because they were more unreasonable back then.
housebuyer,Yeah I was hoping for more detail than he ended up giving. It really is a compare and contrast thing though. I think we may find that what is/was/will be true in CA is not the typical pattern for a metropolitan area such as DC.The extent of their bubble and their credit usage and the prevalence of low-doc loans was so much higher there than here that speculation was the dominant motivating factor in almost all players buying decisions in the bubble. Whereas here I think the mania was less prevalent. And more of the price changes were due to changing demographics. (not all, of course).I think his argument for Turtle Ridge applies more easily to places like Kingstowne, which while metro-friendly may also have gotten more cachet than it "deserves". Some places like that will fall if there were too many home-owners whose primary reason for chosing their home was expected appreciation, others will maintain their price differential if the home-owners there are well-buffered.
When they say "fall the furthest" surely the are not implying that the inner areas will be cheaper that the outer suburbs. I'm assuming they mean "fall the most dollars from the peak" since they had significantly higher dollar costs.
Jeff,When they say "fall the furthest" surely the are not implying that the inner areas will be cheaper that the outer suburbs. I'm assuming they mean "fall the most dollars from the peak" since they had significantly higher dollar costs. That would be the most reasonable interpretation, but I think he's actually hoping for "falls by the largest percentage". He's specifically discussing the geography of the areas surrounding Irvine, Ca, which doesn't have the same geographical structures of where jobs/desirability are as we do here as there is also an ocean to consider. Fall by the greatest dollar amount has already happened out there, because the low end only got up to $500k, and the $2mil stuff is already down around $1.4 mil.
Cara-I agree that he is probably talking percentage change. That really is the only logical way to look at it. As to your point, I hadn't really thought that he was talking about areas like California. His arguments make more sense for CA than for VA. As an additional comment as long as some of the imunno-zones are able to hold out for another year or two they may be ok(and never get hit too hard). With a normal mortgage you pay around ~2% off/year at the start. So people who bought in 2005 have paid off about 10% plus any down payment. As long as prices don't fall quickly in these areas you just will not find that many people who are deeply underwater, which is what causes the cascading downward spiral in housing prices. I guess I am just trying to say that the longer these areas hold on the less likely they will collapse in the future(I am of course assuming they have normal mortgages. If they have a lot of negative amortizing loans than forget my comment about paying down their mortgages)
Open house report from yesterday. Hit a few places in Falls Church ($475+). Traffic was non-existent. One place the owners were still there, moving stuff around and fixing thing up! He played it cool, but I bet the Realtor was seething that the owners had stuck around. There were toolboxes out, and fans running. What a mess. The other interesting one we stumbled into after getting lost. Not a big place, but very well done on the inside with a great lot. The interesting part was that the Realtor asked us if it was above our range (list: $675k), and we said yes, and he basically said that if we could come in at $600k the offer would be considered. Maybe a little commentary on the mid-range problems.
fred,I commented on the open house we went to yesterday in Saturday's bucket. But related to your observation, we got to ours at 1:50 PM and were the first comers (1-4 open). We took are time, and another couple arrived as we were leaving. The covering agent was bizarre, "Why are you looking at this place, what brought you to this listing?" Um, none of your business? (Instead, being me, I told him about the trail through the woods to the VRE that makes the walk less than a mile and that we were looking at everything within a 2 mile walk of both VRE stops). "I don't know of any offers", "They're really unigue, offering $5k back to the buyer for closing costs", Um, yeah, there are no offers because it's the wrong price, and seller subsidies are not "unique" they're just not commonly listed in the comments.The real estate agent did a great job of staging the place though. I bet it was either the agent's touches or under her severe advisement. Rocks and fake orchids in the bathrooms aren't going to disquise the underlying lack-luster bones of the place though.
I also checked out a couple of open houses. Nothing really note-worthy most were looked ok, were priced too high and had very little traffic-I also went to http://franklymls.com/FX7088541 it was a mad house. We got there an hour into the showing and we were already mid way down the second sign in sheet. There were 4 other couples there looking at the place and 2 more were coming in as we left. The funny thing is I think everyone was disappointed. The pictures made the place look pretty nice, but when you got there you saw the rest of the house was in pretty bad shape. I also saw the ugliest toilet I have ever seen. It was a green and I think it was plastic. At their listing price I think they will get an offer, but it was not the amazing deal everyone who went there thought it was going to be.
housebuyer,Yeah the pictures do indeed make it look quite intriguing. Guess choosing only the best shots did a great job of generating traffic. At least a couple of the people coming through would be undetered by the dissappointment if it's priced appropriately for its faults.I got at least one notification of a short sale that closed this weekend. So, at least some of them are continuing to happen. This one in under 4 months.
From the comments of the IR post, The New Homeowner Hallucination: "We'll Rent For A Year And Then Sell When The Market Comes Back"Two years ago, a household income of $100k a year could legitimately buy an $800k home with almost nothing down and afford the payments using a Pay Option ARM. Now to buy the same house, you need $160k down and an income of $200k a year. “Mark, I walked through a beautiful home in Pac Heights yesterday. Was listed at $6M about a month and a half ago. Price has been cut three times now and it currently listed at $4.95M. The amazing part is that the owner is now trying to rent it for one year (and I quote the agent) “and then sell it when the market comes back.”
Re: open trafficA scheduled open in a nearby TH community was cancelled after it went under contract in 2 days.I probably would have pulled the old "seller's are out of town and can't review any contracts until tuesday" and let the bidding wars begin.I know of a purchaser on a different property that offered full price (no contingencies) provided the offer was accepted prior to the open. The seller rejected the offer.
Va_investor,Where do you live, again, exactly?Where is this hotbed of activity?
Anon-Although it is somewhat funny hearing the agents say rent it for a year and then try and sell it may make some sense for a property in that price range. Right now I have heard it is very difficult to get any financing for super expensive properties, so although many of us do not expect the market to come back anytime soon I think multimillion dollar homes will have an easier time selling once banks become comfortable about the recession and are willing to give multimillion dollar loans(assuming the person can afford it)
Reston 20194I don't have the mls, but the cancelled open was on Quietree in a very popular TH development (Whisperhill).
va_investor51 listings in 20194 between 200 and 600k and only 19 active, most of those over 400k, yup I'd say that's hopping. Spring's still going strong in Reston.
Cara yesterday said..."Original 1980's single-pane windows, deck needs work sooner rather than later as does the siding and roofing. Owner's so cheap that the couldn't afford primer + matte paint just went for one coat of glossy. Cheapest on-sale pergo downstairs, thin new carpet upstairs. (although the installation job was good)......"How much are you going to charge me to come critique finishing quality for me if I decided to start looking? :)
housebuyer, It's true that jumbo financing is tight right now, but I don't see how anyone could think that will change in the near future. In particular, if interest rates on normal loans rise to 6-7% over the next 2 years, jumbo would be 8-9%. Also it is just harder to rent out a large SFH and the buy/rent ratios are more skewed than the are for the low-mid end. On the other hand, from the perspective of the homeowner, I guess I could see how you could be reluctant to realize the loss now even with all of that writing on the wall, because on the slim chance that the market will "come back" you'd be kicking yourself if it turned out you had sold at the bottom. Hopefully if you own a really expensive home you're only financing a fraction of it, so the rent should at least cover your mortgage payment even if it wouldn't if you were financing 80%, so you don't have that monthly loss by renting it.
Scott,chuckle, In case the comment wasn't purely a joke, those are all easy to spot.If you look at where the window meets the frame, there's a line where the two panes meet, no line? One pane.Glossy paint was spotted by the tell-tale paint can in one closet, if the greasy shiny look that shows all mars wasn't obvious.Pergo-quality, go to a section with harsh interior lighting, does is look like vynl or like polyurethane?carpet, how thick is it? how long are the threads, does there feel to be any padding underneath?cabinets, just open them. Does the interior match or does it look original?Always look behind each bedroom door for whether there's been damage to the wall from the knob. It only takes a 5 dollar patch to fix, but it illustrates little care for the dwelling if it's been left undone.
Anon412,CR just had an article saying that Citi and BofA were ramping up jumbo financing. There's a distinction to be made between getting a good rate, and getting any loan at all...
Anon412,I kind of in that situation on one of my places in Florida. It's paid off and the rent covers expenses, but it's "dead money". I'm hoping we are at a bottom there and I can at least beat inflation over the next few years.I'd much rather have the cash now...but, oh well.
Oh and the deck, roof and siding, it was obvious that the next door neighbor had recently replaced all of this on his/her unit. Given they are the same age, one can infer that replacement will be a good idea soon for this unit too, in addition to non-distressing, but still telltale signs of age or at least un-cleanliness in each of these. I really didn't like how the roofs were joined, it looked really warped, and potentially problematic. Though I don't know if it would be expensive to repair.
VA_Investor, I agree in that kind of situation in Florida you might as well wait and see if things will improve there. It's more the people here who have $1-2 million dollar homes in Arlington or NW DC where you could sell it for 250x rent or more -- why wouldn't you just sell now? I don't see being able to get a better price in 2010 or 2011.
Cara,There are so many easy, inexpensive "improvements" that people are simply to lazy or dumb to make.I always change out floor vents and light fixtures, power wash and seal decks, get my landscaper out there. New cabs can be pretty inexpensive...and for God's sake if you are going to put in cheap carpet, at least get a very good (thick) pad. Also change out electric switch covers....p.s. I have about ten of those door stoppers in my tool box.
Out of curiousity who rents out a $5 million house? I assume even with the rent being pretty far out of wack you would still be paying 15-20K per month. I can't imagine having this much money and wanting to rent. I guess maybe if you think you will move soon(pro sports player) type of person it makes sense, but just seems strange.
va_investor,yeah there was something incredibly depressing about soiled dingy old electric, telephone and cable outlet covers in empty bedrooms. That every sliding door on every closet was either askew or had rippled paint didn't help.
I wasn't purely joking, I feel I try to be quite discerning when looking at properties, BUT, am probably much less strong when trying to measure quality level of flooring, quality and life expectancy of systems infrastructure (hvac, roof, plumbing), etc.Makes me nervous because with all of the new condo construction downtown, if that is what I would want to buy, then how can I tell the wear characteristics will be if everything is brand new? I need to discern products and brands, probably, and don't have that experience. And I'm sure I could never get a product list from an agent, they would just look at me like I was crazy--unless maybe I was looking at a Potomac mansion that was being sold with materials/brands as the theme, in which case I don't even have to see the price to know I can't afford it.And there's the issue of recent builds being slapdash to cut corners and allow price cuts...
And if your stove has the coil-type electric burners, spend $10 to buy shinny new drip pans.It's amazingly cheap to make a place look nice, but it requires attention to details. And I notice those details.
Scott,On a new build, I'd be surprised if the builder didn't have all the specs on the interiors. But I've never looked at one seriously to know. I mean they just installed all this stuff they should know what it is.Perhaps you'll look "too obsessed" with that particular property for wanting that level of detail, but what can you do?You'll obviously need to pay for a good and thorough inspection, and be ready to back out of the deal if necessary...
Some of your descriptions sound like a place I toured last fall.Soil, dingy outlet coversglossy paintmissing cabinet door in laundry room.loose towel racks in bathroomdoor knob/mechanism missing from outside door to garage.el-cheapo replacement carpet.I remember the realtor asked me what I thought of the place (a new couple had just walked in during the open house). I told her the place was a piece of crap, and the owners were so stingy that I was afraid to buy the place. Oh, and did I mention the cable television line running through the bushes?I was shocked that it sold for what it did for, whereas nicer places sold for less. I guess they were lucky and found the right sucker^H^H^H buyer.
novawatcher,yeah this wasn't anywhere near that bad, just didn't follow through on the details, and didn't give you the security of feeling like it wasn't going to rapidly become a money-pit.
Cara: I forgot that this place also had a rotting deck.
Okay I am going to take everyone's advice and not leave the blog but just ignore Robert's comments. housebuyer -- I did read once that Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt spend five digits per month to rent a place in Manhattan. So there is a market for that but very, very small. ;) Also, I think we can agree that the types of people with that kind of money probably only would do that in a place like Manhattan and a few other cities.
I learned about this via the Restonian blog (which I adore for mocking the "rad 80s art" scheduled for the Wiehle Ave Metro stop):FCPL CutbacksI think increasing overdue fines makes sense in a tight budget setting and charging to use the computer if you do not have a library card but this seems silly:A $1 charge will be assessed to customers who do not have their library cards with them but would like to check out materials, place holds or conduct other transactionsAnyone know if the other area libraries are doing this? I have always liked that if I did not have my card with me I could just show my driver's license. With modern technology (actually 1980s technology) it takes them all of two seconds to find your account. I know they need more money but the new fines should at least have a premise.
Here is the "rad 80s art" btw:Wiehle Public Art Proposed
Scott, my advice would be to ask a co-worker who has owned a couple of homes or has done a lot of work on one home to go with you to look at houses/condos that seriously interest you. Tell them you want his/her frank opinions. Anyone who's owned awhile and had to shop for a lot of the finishes etc. that you describe will be able to help you discern quality, just as you will after you've done it. Also, for big ticket finishes such as cabinets and flooring, I think it would be worth your while to go to a good store selling these things (and which puts the prices on them rather than forces you to talk to a sales clerk) and "shop" for them. You'll soon see some quality differences. Finally, check out Consumer Reports to learn about items with brand names (e.g., washers and dryers) and how they have fared during testing and in the annual reader surveys of reliability.
Welcome back, TBW!
Lots of excellent links today--thanks.The comments about presentation are very interesting. I have no doubt the reason we were able to buy our house was because of the way it was presented last spring. If you're going to ask almost a million dollars for a house, but you're going to have pink walls everywhere, deer heads in the study, preserved animal carcasses in the corners here and there, the upstairs rooms full of packing boxes, and inexpensive furniture haphazardly placed, you're going to have a hard time convincing prospective buyers that this is a million dollar property.Thank God they did not have a professional stager. The house really is a high-quality home, and a little paint/new light fixtures transformed it.
tbw,They can decorate that place with finger-paint for all I care! Last year was a great time to buy some of those condo's at Chestnut Grove - too bad they have that ridiculously high (all-inclusive) condo fee.Prices have rocketed back up.
Cara - so those were not even new cabinets, just refacing?Yea, that guy is pushing on that price. I tend to believe my 4th bedroom should be at least worth 20-30 grand. Granted, he is selling at a better time than I did. But I did have other "new" items that he does not. My cabinets were completely new (06) and no particleboard in them. No pergo, but new carpet.Anyhow, I'm talking to a couple who has been looking out in Centerville because they can't afford Burke. Centerville 3 BR TH are going fast and multiple contracts on some of them. I'm preaching patience and wait longer. They are eager to do it now "to close before October" to get the $8K. It's sick to see how people are driven by that. Had they gotten their act together back in March, they would have tons to choose from. Now there is zilch. One house they put an offer in. Earlier that day, another person put his offer in, so they were the 2nd one there.The first guy (putting an offer on the house w/ no other offers at the time) put in $1K over list price and zero closing costs. The house had old poly piping that needed replaced w/ copper. So the couple I know put their offer in below list and asked for closing, and of course, it was rejected.I can't believe how desperate you would be to see a house without any offers and offer OVER list with zero closing costs... I guess they are a family w/ a school age kid, and wanted to be moved in before the school year. I told this couple you don't want to compete w/ this desperate mentality. That's how you overpay quickly. Sure, you get your $8k, but you paid $20K more than you should have (including closing). Makes zero sense.
Cara,I'm not sure I follow why you don't like the interior of FX7073879. Are the pictures misleading? I agree with you that the dark wood kitchen cabinets look weird with the light wood flooring. But otherwise I see a lot of features that are much nicer than my childhood SFH. I hate the look of the exterior of that home and would nix it because of that. I also prefer carpeting to hardwood floors but I recognize I have a minority view there. I also like a tile type flooring for a kitchen. Plus something economical to replace every 5-10 years since inevitably kitchen floors start to go bad from water spills etc (same with bathroom floors). Or is that only because the homes I've seen had cheaper materials that developers use and nicer kitchen/bathroom flooring would only need to be replaced every 30 years (or never?)
T,Good to see you found my comment, searching for "t" through a blog is like finding a needle in a stack of needles...Anyway, yeah this pergo was not an asset over carpet, it was a deterent because it's a lot easier to take up carpet than bad pergo.He may be selling at a better time, but without the additional asset of the 4th bedroom, his wouldn't sell as easily as yours would in the same market (take a look at my comments in the weekend bucket).Between the newer siding/roof, real cabinets and the 4th bedroom your place is worth easily 30-40k more than whatever this sells for.
Va_Investor,What's interesting to me is that Fairfax County is so transfixed on using the Silver Line to transform Tysons when it has the ability to really transform South Reston and South Lakes HS.One wonders what is going to happen to that area. There are some [relatively] really low cost neighborhoods in that area because of the crime and school reputation. And as some of you have noted the areas around Lake Thoreau and Lake Audubon are very pretty. I see the potential for a lot of lower income families to be pushed out of that area akin to what happened in Arlington and Alexandria this decade.
tbwThe in person impression was vastly different than the pictures. The spaces are all smaller than they look, the windows in particular were depressing. It looked like a how a landlord who doesn't want to be a slumlord would cheaply redo an apartment. You add in the exterior and the proximity to the commuter rail line that's going to come by every morning starting at 4 AM, and there's just no compelling reason to buy this place. Unless it were significantly cheaper than renting on 100% financing at 6% loan + FHA PMI, taxes and insurance. It's the distortionary effect of the price, if this place were listed at $180k, I'd think it was a little gem. (but I wouldn't have bothered to look because we can afford to get a lot more). But at $279k it looks like junk.
tbw,And good tile? Should never need to be replaced. Or at least it should look good for 20-30 years. Good thick hardwoods, likewise can last for generations.
tbw,I agree. I think/am pretty sure I missed the bottom over there on those TH's and condo's. It was just depressing as hell driving thru there. I should have just gotten past that. I am buying as close to the metro as possible; keeping in mind that the numbers must work.I think we will see a decent bump when the station opens.
Cara and Ace,thanks for the tips and advice.Part of my problem is that I'M the guy my friends ask to help THEM with real estate, partly because I'm reasonably savvy on the money side of things, and partly because my story with my 5-year past condo ownership was a colorful but net-happy one. And they know me as "cynic-man"--I don't walk in and say "oh how lovely!" and "you can put your xyz over here!" in front of any agent. Instead I say "gee, you really want to walk up a flight of stairs with groceries, and down two flights for laundry?" and "if that steep hill behind the house saturates in the rain, all that earth and plantings could be coming in your house!"But quality and taste is trickier for me, I was brought up in rural, nearly-redneck 70's do-it-yourself land, so IN THEORY I don't know why indoor-outdoor carpet isn't the practical choice for the porch and why yellow and white nylon-web lawn chairs won't last longer than Teak for the deck furniture. I could go on and on--primary colored Formica in the kitchen, plywood/laminate wood in the furniture, 100 thread count sheets, pillows and couches from Sears, cardboard coasters, etc.But I guess that's what personal growth is for! I have a morbid aversion to plastic doors and bannisters, and am now collecting custom made-for-me solid hardwood furniture, so that's a start...
scott,Have you considered that if you're savy on the money-side that what you might need in a real estate agent is someone who's savy on the finishings and quality side? I know, heresy on this blog, and not the qualification I'm expecting from my own agent, but it's an idea...The other thing is what Ace said. You don't need to take this person to every place you look at just the two or three that you're serious about.
Cara,Okay, I understand now.I'd really like to know what is considered "standard" interior now. It would be interesting to see a survey for this region (and compare it to answers in 1985 or something like that.)I'm always amazed every time I see a home for sale in my old neighborhood. People (or at least those selling their homes) are really upgrading them like crazy. So it really makes it hard for me to compare pre-bubble prices and bubble prices. Like how much value should I give for a real finished basement as opposed to wood paneling and shag carpeting? How about hardwood floors instead of carpeting? New decks and so on.
Scott, but that's the beauty of your situation. Your friends who ARE more interested in/experienced with the trimmings of houses rather than financial aspects of them should be more than happy to help you with this in return for all the help you have given them on the financial stuff. And some of them will really enjoy going with you to look at some houses and give you opinions. Believe me, there's nothing like getting burned by spending money on something that turns out to be poor quality (or occasionally the pleasant surprise) to stick in one's memory.
Scott, just as one example of the value of reading Consumer Reports for prospective home buyers (especially SFHs that needs work), Viking appliances (marketed as chef's quality with the extremely high price tags to match) have among the worst reliability records, per Consumer Reports' tests and reader data.
sorry, I should have added that this month's CR issue has a large feature on appliances and fixtures for kitchens and baths.
A few links The percentage of total compensation represented by employer-provided benefits has declined for three straight years in the Washington and Baltimore areas, according to an annual report from the Human Resources Association of the National Capital Area.A survey of 265 companies in the Washington and Baltimore region shows the average benefit rate is 28.8 percent this year. That is down from 29.2 percent in 2008 and 30.9 percent in 2007.Survey: Job benefits shrinkingNet effective rents — the actual price per month when all concessions are considered — have declined 1.4 percent over the last 12 months for all investment-grade properties, which include both Class A and Class B. Effective rents will likely continue to fall next year as the vacancy rate for stabilized projects — those two years or older — climbs from 4.3 percent today to 5 percent regionwide by late 2010.Condo, apartmentsOddly enough that article has people predicting an increase in condo prices right before it notes that rents are going down.
Re: tileCara is right. It should last decades if properly installed. One live and learn experience: buy a couple extra boxes of tile, because you won't be able to match it up in ten years if you have some breakage.
From tbw's link on condos & apartments, I was surprised to see this:Effective rents in the District have declined by 7.8 percent, a number made worse by the fledgling Capitol Riverfront submarket near the new Nationals Park are included. When those projects are removed, rents show just a 4 percent decline. I had always heard before that the District was doing better than the rest of the Metro area.
Good point on the extra tile. And they're right: good tile and wood floors should last decades. And, if you're good with your choices, they look as good (fashion/style-wise) 30 years from now as they do today.On the opposite end of the spectrum: the wife and I saw a house last summer that not only looked bad today, but would have looked bad and cheap when it was built in 1977.
Anon412,Well, as John Edwards might say, there are two Districts of Columbia...
TBW, very true. It would be helpful to see the data broken out by quandrant. But I have thought that much of the rental housing on the other side of the Anacostia is subsidized by Section 8 or other programs, so that it wouldn't be factored into this.
contrarian,Barney Frank, like a broken clock, can be right once in a while but I doubt he plans to make a habit of it.
I am pretty sure I am taking 1 step forward 2 steps back with this short sale business. As of last week our agent said the banks had all the paper work had appraised the place and needed to negotiate with the owners of the mortgage. We found out today that one of the banks just got the paperwork and hasn't even started the appraisal process. It sounded like the appraisal would take them 15 days and the negotiations would take from ~60. I assume it will then take us a couple of weeks to do all of our inspections, implying we should not expect to close before October. GGGRRRRRRR ohh well maybe some decent properties will come on the market soon and I can just get out of this disaster :)
housebuyer,Blech. Sorry to hear that. Hope it all works out for the best.
Cara-Thanks and it really isn't a big deal. I am actually in no rush to get the place. Waiting is helping us build a larger cash reserve. As of tomorrow I can get out of the contract and get my earnest money back so, it really isn't that bad. I figure it is better to enjoy the great weather now at the pool on top of our apartment and do all of the new house renovations during cold winter days :)
Thanks for the encouragement about bringing partners along. Actually, when I bought my condo before I used a buyer's agent--from a company that did NO listings. He didn't seem SUPER savvy on quality/infrastructure stuff, but did help protect my interests in the negotiations, I would say.When I sold I also used a local agent from a personal referral, and felt he gave me crucially valuable advice about staging the place for showing--NO personal clutter, etc. Sold VERY fast--a different story from some of the open house visits reported on here!Let me ask a quick renter question, since we're talking about floor wear and floors lasting for a long time.I had evening guests at one point and brought in some extra chairs, and they ended up scratching up what appears to be the clear-coating on the middle of the dining area floor of my apartment. You know what I mean, it kind of blistered up and where it lifts from the wood it's no longer clear but kind of cloudy on the edges.Can this be remedied by me by:1) Sanding/scraping/buffing to feather the spots where the finish is gone;or2) Refinishing with some can of something from the HW store that is sure to be the right thing and not leave the repair noticeable.Or, should I:1) tell the landlord now;or2) leave it for him to see at some future move-out inspection.It doesn't bother me, I can keep a rug on it. Just worried about it as something that might not come within normal floor wear.On the other hand, there's certainly other wear from previous tenants and I'm not sure the floor is all that high quality, plus not all the seams are all that tight against, for example, spilled liquids. So, not sure if these blemishes can be waved off.Common easily remedied problem? Deposit-return nightmare?
Scott,The comments here (slightly different fact scenario but similar) have a lot of votes that this is normal wear and tear. Assessing Tenant DamagesAs a side note, I think there's a real case to be made that you should have carpeting in an apartment you rent out exactly because of issues like this.
Why are there 8 times as many comments during a workday than on TWO weekend days? Best theory wins no prize.
TBW,Oh, that Wiehle "art" was painful.In the early 1990's when we were looking to buy in Vienna or Fairfax, my spouse said "NO" to "Reston Ugly".Still, we ended up in Reston, but parts of it changed eventually.
Harriet,Have you never been to NorthPoint? I think that's rather a ridiculous comment (though I am biased). RTC was open in the early '90's. We lived in Vienna then, but often dined at RTC. My house was built in 1992 and the area is simply beautiful.
As to the weekday/workday comments; the most logical explanation is goofing off on the Company clock. Not cool.
VA_Investor,Of course I'm referring to the architects Robert E. Simon originally hired.
"Best theory wins no prize."Here're two. Investors are paying bashers to drive the price of houses down. It's a day job for several here. They work 9-5, bashing houses, and promulgating the doom 'n gloom mantras.Everyone is busy at the weekend open houses, elbow to elbow, frantic to buy before they are priced out for all time.
"Delta, an Alexandria research firm, said two factors contributed to the increased sales volume: historically low interest rates and the busy homebuying season. A total of 618 units went under contract during the quarter. For the first half of the year, 928 units went under contract, with Arlington County and Alexandria leading the area with 242 units sold.There are 8,480 units in projects now being marketed for sale, and the number of cancelled units, 694, in the quarter was the lowest since early 2006. The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation changed its Art Place at Fort Totten from condos to apartments and will go before the planning board July 2 to seek approval for 529 apartments as part of the first of three phases. Donatelli Development Inc. decided to rework its 80 units at 1444 Irving St. in Montgomery County, KB Home and Centex Homes cancelled their Aventiene-Phase I, which would have delivered 30 residential units.Delta CEO Greg Leisch said the dwindling pipeline — now at its lowest in five years — will likely result in a shortage by 2010, causing effective prices to rise. Prices tend to rise when there inventory-to-sales ratio is at three years or less. It is currently at 1.7 years in Arlington and Alexandria and 2.8 years in D.C. For the region, it is 5.1 years."So i see lots of empty units in arlington are theyjust beign held off because ARMS are still cheap?
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