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.
"Reston Lake communities are the best kept secret in NOVA,"Agree. It's these enclaves that are special. That's how I feel about my area. 2 miles to the Metro. Lots of fabulous services. Quiet. Wooded. Large trees. Easy commute, except for the craziness outside of and on the Beltway.If I want big box store stuff, it's available at Potomac Yards. I have mixed feelings about industrialization of Clarendon. I liked the Ho-Chi-Min city restaurants. Fortunately a couple moved to my part of Alexandria.
MOLD!If you take a look at this property, you'll see that the basement is filled with mold. This isn't visible from the MLS listing, but is visible in the comments at the bottom of the FranklyMLS page (and linked photos). The repossession date was around the time of Hurricane Ike, so I'm guessing there was no one around to clear the leaves out from the drain at the bottom of the outside stairwell to the basement.http://franklymls.com/FX6997009
housebuyer (and others) have been saying that now may be a good time to buy. And I, kevin, tbw and others have been pushing back against this.This weekend a thought occured to me. This discussion really boils down to the fact that there are two relevant bottoms, (1) the bottom in monthly house payment, (2) the bottom in prices. Before we get into another battle over which one is "more important", I'd like to take a step back and consider, for whom is it a bottom in house payments? I think the answer lies in how much downpayment do you have relative to the other buyers in your target price range and area. If you are not putting much down, then I think T may be right, this past early spring may have been uniquely the right time to buy (oh so helpful in hindsight, eh?). In particular if most buyers have more downpayment than you, those other buyers will see the power of their downpayment increase as interest rates go back up, and will also be financing a smaller amount, so not see as large of a payment increase. This will cushion the expected blow of increased interest rates.For example, 7% interest on 200k translates to about the same 30 year payment as 5% interest on 240k. With 20% down this means purchase prices of 250k versus 300k. But if the buyer had 60k on hand... they _may_ only need the price to drop to $270k to pull the trigger. If, on the other hand it's an FHA buyer financing essentially the full amount, getting a chunk of the DP from the tax rebate, the $240k house they could afford before, _has_ to drop to $200k, or they can't buy it. And that, may not happen. So, look closely at your zip codes sales. See what percentage are FHA versus conventional. If, like 22015, most are conventional, just like me, then I have no cash-advantage over other buyers, in terms of waiting. And my minimum monthly cash-flow may already have passed. Of course, I personally care more about the second bottom, in price, but that's just me.
Interesting open houses yesterday. Stayed inside the Beltway, but hit a bunch of contemporaries in the $450-$550k range not near public transportation. In a marked difference to the past month or two of looking, these open houses were dead. I don't know if it was the style, location or price (or combo), but none of the sign-in sheets had more than 10 people, and we weren't early. Interesting side note, I don't know if any of you have seen or heard of Fall Properties. We were down in Annandale looking at a place and it turns out that the Realtor that we were talking to was the owner of Fall Properties, and that it was his parent's house that he was selling. Very nice contemporary rambler, backing up to a park. The house, I'm not kidding, had 6 different sliding glass doors. Very nice, but no usable yard to speak of and out of our price range. It did make me hate every house built between 1945 and 1960 even more.
In other words, look to your financing mix to determine whether the strong hands or weak hands are buying now. Cash-dominant? Look for rental weakness to pull down the rent versus own equation, and keep prices down for a long time as investors move on to different rental properties, releasing their current buys back onto the market.FHA/VA look out below when the $8k goes away and rates go back above 6%, your area has at least another 10% down just based on financing the purchases without any additional economic shocks.Conventional? Sorry my friends, but it will be a long slow burn for any price further declines. Buy only in the fall and dead of winter early spring, too many stable families in your area.Thoughts, criticisms, permuatations? I know this is just one of many pieces of the puzzle and completely ingnores the macro-economic data, but if you're trying to determine really local pricing trends NOW before the census, this seems like a useful handle.
Fred, Yup in some areas, the spring buying season is already drying up. Not Burke quite yet, but it's "good"? to hear that other places are slowing.
Major new home construction in Fairfax County? There is a large triangular space bordered by Pearl St, Van Buren, and Grove street in the town of Herndon which has just been leveled. It looks like it's divided into lots for about a dozen single family and maybe as many as 60 townhouses.
Cara,Yeah, it did lift my spirits a little to walk through 5 consecutive houses and only run into one other couple. My dream world would involve somebody in middle price range ($475-$550) getting desperate in the Sept time frame and us getting a "good" deal. Of course, in my dream world the interest rates don't rise anymore and nobody else has this "genius" idea. ;)
Hi Fred-I'd like to see a link to that house, if you have it marked.
Two of the four townhouses across my street that I've been watching appear to have new owners. One via an auction sale about two months back. They've moved in and are setting about improvements. The transfer finally went through, they paid $150K even (no idea if that includes the auction fees or not). That's about $25K more than I think they're actually worth right now, indicating either that auctions are not a great place to buy, or that they were overly aggressive. Vehicle tags indicate they moved in from Oregon.Other one has had massive activity in terms of remodeling for a few weeks and I figured it was the bank trying to get it into better shape for sale, since the previous attempt appeared to have failed. Now I'm seeing signs of people moving in. No idea when I'll get a transfer record available online, but I'll be watching closely, because if they bought and have done those repairs themselves, it's at least $20K so far, probably closer to $30K or $35K. So that will need to be 'added' to a market value for other places in the area that are in better shape.Which could mean I've undervalued the market considerably.
Meshell,No problem. There were actually two almost identical places up on the same block. The higher priced one had more kitchen and bath updates.http://franklymls.com/FX7075118http://franklymls.com/FX7043730
Fred,Yeah I like those two alot. Not at that price though. From the pictures I prefer the second, empty one, but that's partially because I couldn't constantly see another house out the windows. Was that seclusion feeling true in person? Would it be true in winter?Gotta love the total disconnect with 09 assessments.
Fred,These are nice ones. I wonder if they'll sell anywhere close to their list prices (since they are so different from tax assessments).
Geez Fred..If you are interested in a 2 story colonial in PW, hit me up. Just semi-teasing. I was never priced 100,000 over my 09 assessment. I was about 15% higher than 09 assessment. I had these grandiose plans of selling, retiring and buying a started home for the man child son..Dang, if that market hasn't left me in the dust so I'm stuck working to get away from the man-child!
Cara, I think that's an interesting way to look at it. I looked up some ZIPs that I'm interested in in DC, and they are between 35-50% FHA or VA! So if your theory is correct, prices could fall significantly when rates go up.But even in the places dominated by conventional financing, while monthly payments may never go lower than they are now, I have a hard time seeing how, in this economy, they'll go significantly up. I think, unlike you, a lot of people buy as much house as the bank tells them they can afford (at least around here), and when rates go up, they simply won't be able to make the higher payment. You're right, though, that if you're an FHA buyer competing against conventional loan buyers with 20% down, since they will be less sensitive to the rate change, you will be at a disadvantage when rates go up.If, on the other hand, you have 20% down in a FHA-dominated zip code, by buying now you'll be paying too much.
Anon412,Indeed, a huge chunk of buyers do buy whatever they qualify for, even amongst conventional loans. And 10% down loans can still be had, even if they're getting knocked for being in a declining area, so not all conventional loans have 20% down or more.But yes, exactly. If you have 20% down and you're looking at a heavily FHA/VA area? You're overpaying by buying now. And if you are a FHA buyer, in that same area, things may not be as bad as you think when rates go up, prices should go down to close the deals.The other thing to look at is seller-subsidies on the solds that you can get from Frankly. A high percentage of seller-subsidies tells you that current buyers are stretching or cash-strapped, or want/need to retain that cash for other purposes. A decline in seller subsidies with time would show that prices have come down to where savers have the cash on hand to cover the purchasing expenses, which would be a strong sign of support for the current price levels. But as an untested time-series this is harder to judge what's "normal".
Cara,The whole street felt secluded. Plus it is a dead-end. And the woods are deep enough that I don't think any loss of foliage would dampen it. Of course the problem with that is that the ground cover is basically all ivy, since grass doesn't stand a chance. As far as the assessments go, I am usually a semi-defender of them as at least another data point. Those assessments though are frankly absurd. If I could get them for $360k, I'd buy one and then scrape up cash from friends and family and get the other one too. ;)Here's the main comp:http://franklymls.com/FX6986605Sold for $549k at the "bottom" in March.Arkey,Thanks, but if I'm not within a 20 minute or so drive from Ballston, I'm not interested :)
Well, from another blog I look at, here is a list of May 2009 sales in some of the DC zip codes. http://www.princeofpetworth.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/may2009sales.pdfAbout 1/2 have some amount of a seller subsidy. Do you have a sense of whether that's high compared to the metro area as a whole? It's probably higher than it was in years past when you could finance the closing costs (that seems like such a crazy idea now, but I guess it made sense with 20% YoY appreciation).
Fred,That's a pretty solid comp.Still, you might be in luck and prices will fall further this fall. That's not primarily first-time buyer prices, so fundamental support from incomes is less secure. Most people need current equity for prices like that, and current equity is disappearing. But I don't know that area, perhaps 180k is the median household income there, I don't know. If so, you're just going to have to keep savings and be patient to buy one of those houses when it's in less than picture-perfect condition but not a money-pit either.
Cara, a lot of times, the seller subsidies reflect repairs the owner had to make, after the inspector identified problems. The buyer might insist on it or use the inspection result contingency to get out of the contract, or repairs might be required by the contract (e.g., in VA, the furnace has to be in good working order) or by the lender.
I would think that FHA is closely tied to first time buyers and entry-level pricing. FHA is an expensive form of financing and will be used by people who have no choice. I think it's a cash issue.I don't see how this would correlate to prices dropping on rate increases. There are many people who have the income - but not the cash. In other words, they can still go FHA with higher rates.I also don't understand the "concept" of investors releasing their properties back to the market? Rents may be/get soft in some areas, but today's (smart) investor has plenty of room to negotiate.I find it absurd to view property ownership in 2-5yr time frames. Does anyone really believe we are going much lower and if so, how will you know how much lower and over what time period?
Va_Investor, If rates go up to the point where they can't make the monthly payment, then they won't be able to purchase with higher rates. It's a question of how many buyers are stretching to the limit of DTI. I think it's pretty high around here, but I don't know how to get data on that. And even for those who did have wiggle room between their payment at under 5% and what the bank told them they could pay, they may not want to pay more, especially if the payment goes up to be higher than rent.
Anon412Good find!! The fact that 10 of those were over $20,000!!! of seller subsidy, tells me pretty loud and clear that there are a large number of current buyers who lack the cash (or willingness to put down the cash) to buy at current prices. That was just a glance, and maybe this is historically normal, but without that wider historical context, I'd say 10 deals with over 20k in kick-back, plus an even larger number with over 10k, sure as heck doesn't look like any price support is coming from buyers savings or conservative income ratios as of yet. (especially since some of those are on half a million dollar places)But again, I don't know what's "normal", or even when would be a good comparison time to pick exactly. (too many other things have changed...). Maybe seller kick-backs are just the usual grease of spring, how would I know?
I think prices have a lot further to fall in the zipcodes highlighted in the Prince of Petworth blog, particularly in 20011 (which includes Petworth). There's no way in hell the median income is close to $180k in most of 20011, it may be closer to the median income of those who can currently afford to buy there, but overall those hoods are far from gentrified.
Ace,Thanks, I had not considered that, but it makes a lot more sense that sellers are giving 10k for a new A/C or whatever than that people buying 0.5 million dollar homes don't have the cash to close.Va_investor,Investors who are buying rentals in bulk, will move on to better opportunities with time (whether within this area or not) and release some of their purchases back onto the market as sales as they chose different investments for their money.FHA is indeed a cash-on-hand issue, but the other assumption is that a large percentage of these people also are either maxing out their allowable DTI, or tying their house buying decision tightly to the rent versus own comparison, such that prices would have to go down for them either to get financing or for it to make sense for them to buy.
Cara, I think your logic on if now is a good time to buy or not is sound. I would like to add that it is also dependent on how long you plan on owning. In other words, if you plan on living in the house for the full 30 years, then the low payment is ideal for you. If you plan on living there for 5-10 years only or plan on flipping the place then the lower the price you purchase it for will guarantee at least some modest increase in value. Put another way, if plan on living in the house on 5 years and you buy it for 350k then you might not get any appreciation out of the property at all. In fact, you'll only be getting your original down payment plus the principle of the loan back after netting out the agent costs and what not. Now if you plan on living there until the loan is paid off then you will not care how much the house "goes up" as it's all "on paper" so to speak and you'll be more interested in paying down your loan with the lowest possible payment so you can have additional money for home improvements and repairs to make your permanent home more comfortable for you and your family to live in.
Cara, Ask and ye shall receive :)http://www.princeofpetworth.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/maysales-2.pdfThis is May 2008. The # and amounts of seller subsidies actually seem higher, but the slowdown had started by then. Glancing at prices, though, they definitely seem higher.
As to the repairs issue, I definitely think that might be the case with a lot of the old houses in DC, but a lot of those subsidies were for condos, which shouldn't need that many repairs...
In the weekend post I was asked for JEB Stuart's stats. I will just say FCPS makes it extremely easy to get all the info you want on every school on its website.As for the buzz about JEB Stuart, it is one of the ones people tend not to like. There was a good op-ed a year or so ago in the Washington Post. The argument basically was no matter how progressive I am I do not feel comfortable sending my children to a bad school (in this case DCPS) just to make a political point. [Not saying anyone falls into this category. Just food for thought.]
Jeff,Yeah, that's basically the argument we've been having on which is the "right" bottom. My risk-averse argument is that it doesn't just matter what I "plan" on, what matters is what happens and how well I can cope with it.If anyone "knows" what's going to happen further than 5 years out, be my guest, go buy at the cash-flow bottom. And there are indeed some people who really are that secure financially and with zero motivations (family or otherwise) for moving anywhere else. For us mere mortals, who can reasonably expect to live in the place at least 5 years, but can still see other possible paths from there, the sales price bottom is the important one.
Cara and Anon412,I just have personal anecdotes and articles in the Washington Post (also anecdotal) but I think people are not buying as much as they are approved for anymore. I genuinely believe that people are cutting back a lot now. Friends of mine who were getting tons of credit card debt in the 2005-07 years are now living within their means and paying down debt. Every time I go to a restaurant it's less busy than it would have been a year ago.Friends who are looking to buy and could stretch and afford McLean or Arlington are instead looking further out to Vienna, Oakton, and Fairfax. (And people who in the past would have looked at those places are now looking at Herndon, Centreville, and Chantilly [and so on]).
tbw, I agree that there seems to be a new ethos of frugality and that definitely extends to house buying. But I don't think that will mean that when interest rates go up to 6%, people will just pay the same price for a house that they would have at 5%, even if they can afford it.
tbw,2 things, (1) just because the upper limit may now be set by the person rather than the bank doesn't mean there isn't one, although it probably is fuzzier.(2) this fuzzy-ness and increased frugality is part of why I don't think we'll get the full price drop from 300k to 250k if rates went from 5% to 7%. We'll just get some of it.
Cara, if you're looking for a townhouse, which I believe you are then it would make sense to wait for the price bottom since most people consider a townhouse as a "starter home" rather than their dream house. It's not exactly the white picket fence house with a swingset in the back yard. If you do buy that white picket fence house then it makes more sense to purchase at the cashflow bottom. Obviously no one can predict the future so some people will get into trouble purchasing at this bottom and others will get into trouble purchasing at the price bottom.
Jeff,yup. that's the plan. Just because I think the housing ladder is an evil invention, doesn't mean it's going away.
I also think a lot of people are trying to put as little down even if they have savings because they are slightly worried about their jobs. I for one am only planning on putting 10% down and am asking for 10K for closing. I could put 20% and not get closing cost help, but I want to have a sufficient amount of cash to continue living comfortably and not worrying about my bank account. I am saving ~$3.5K a month so am not worried about paying slightly high monthly payments, but I do want to make sure I have enough cash that if I lose my job I have cash to hold me off until I get a new job.
Cara, I'm just curious but what is the time of day you leave for your commute and how many miles is the drive from Centerville on I-66 to Burke? In other words, how much of the drive does it save you to live in Burke instead of someplace in PWC right off of 66?
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/08/nyregion/08trustafarians.htmlIt is hard not to read this article and think the bubble mentality is still alive in many corners. Even with parental support a few of the people profiled are buying homes well beyond their means. The question is whether banks are still providing them with loans. Hopefully some of these people may be getting denied. But perhaps not if their rich parents are co-signing the loan.
The following tables are jobs available on theladders.com -- you know, the $100k+ jobs for $100k+ talent. The free membership only let me search by specific "ladder." The first table is the technology ladder. The second is finance. They also have Law, Ops, Sales, Marketing, and HR ladders. Searches were 25 mile radius and jobs posted in the last 8 weeks.Job_Postings Rank City PopulationTechnology Ladder451 #10 Boston - 5.2M 1752 #9 Washington - 5.3M117 #8 Atlanta - 5.4M37 #7 Miami - 5.4M93 #6 Houston - 5.7M171 #5 Philly - 5.8M171 #4 Dallas - 6.3M273 #3 Chicago - 9.5M199 #2 LA - 12.8M547 #1 NY - 19MFinance Ladder258 #10 Boston - 5.2M 363 #9 Washington - 5.3M111 #8 Atlanta - 5.4M42 #7 Miami - 5.4M80 #6 Houston - 5.7M154 #5 Philly - 5.8M101 #4 Dallas - 6.3M202 #3 Chicago - 9.5M175 #2 LA - 12.8M935 #1 NY - 19M
Thanks, Fred. I love that style house--with the big sunny rec rooms and all the windows. I hate dark basements. Do you know anything about that school pyramid?
http://franklymls.com/FX7050028Auction in nice part of Vienna. What a shame that monstrosity was built. A huge home like that should be built in a low density area. Not in the Town of Vienna. It also should not be so close to a major road like Nutley.I wonder if the nearby homes are still small ramblers. What a weird dynamic.There definitely is a market to tear down and rebuild some of the homes in those areas but this one went overboard with the rebuild. I cannot believe they thought it would go for almost $3 million.
Jeff,It's 31.1 miles to work compared to 20.3 miles to work, so half again as far. Plus we're trying to continue as a 1 car household indefinitely, so commuting options for my husband into Old Town would then include buses rather than a straight shot on the VRE or metro.That may not sound like much, but it's a "this far and no farther" kind of thing for me.
Robert, I don't post very often because I usually only get to read at night when most of the conversation has stopped, but I have to say that your relentless "DC? What recession?" posturing is tiresome. Whole sectors of the DC economy are absolutely dead right now. My husband and several of our friends and more acquaintances --all attorneys 0-10 years out of school--have been looking for jobs for months and almost the whole law sector is absolutely dead. For example, we know an entry-level attorney position at Commerce received over 900 resumes, including many former law firm partners. Another position he made the final cut for interviewed 15 people and the employer went with a laid-off junior partner. This position had been advertised as requiring 2 years experience. We also have 2 friends laid off from small govt contracting firms who are having a tough time. I have seen you post several times that you personally don't know anyone having trouble finding employment in DC right now. It must be nice to keep such rarefied company! Your friends and relatives must have unique skill sets.Perhaps it is a generational thing (although a mid-50s partner my husband worked with who was also laid off called him asking for job leads, so perhaps not.) Anyway, it is annoying.
Cara, Don't let anyone talk you into Manassas/Centreville over Burke. I am a native Manassasian, and the farther out you go, the worse the traffic. My parents still live out there and we can cruise all the way from Arlington to Route 28 in Centreville, and then most of the trip can be just getting from Centreville to Manassas. Too many people and not enough roads, and no charm.
Meshell,Can't really tell you anything about the schools that isn't at the fcps site or at greatschools.net. Honestly hadn't even really considered that area until my wife decided that she wanted to hit the open houses on Sunday.
Thanks, Fred. Our daughter's preschool is right near there but I've never driven by that neighborhood so I was curious.
Thanks for that post Meshell! I wouldn't mind Robert if he was saying the DC area will have peak employment again sooner than other areas. But instead he seems to be saying it's going to have peak employment now or in a few months.Frankly, I agree it can get a little grating if you know anyone searching for work. We are only getting started in feeling the pain in the legal industry because many legal employers have offered around three months of severance pay. Which should last people six months or more. Which for many will not be enough time to find their next job.
Meshell,thanks for the words of support. We have plenty of other reasons to prefer Burke, there's already two people in my division who carpool from there, and who would love to add a third person. Other sort of intangibles of really liking the area.And there's no lack of houses/TH's to buy that meet both our needs and price range, so I don't feel a real need to widen the search too much. We should consider Vienna/ Falls Church I guess, but haven't yet and they seem pricier from what people have posted here. Since the Orange line is slower to Old Town than the VRE would be, I don't think we're the right buyers for that area.
Meshell,The Falls Church pyramid is not considered one of the best. However, a lot of good press has been given to Graham Road Elementary School within the pyramid (not the ES for the links but in the school pyramid). It has provided extra resources (and has enrichment programs) that have led to students scoring akin to students in wealthy school districts.
TBW-I will start by saying that I am not a parent, so I might be way off base, but I really don't believe that the teachers at an elementary school explain schools test scores. I might believe that for middle/high school this is true, but for elementary school I would think the kids intelligence and parents efforts at home are much more important.
meshell..would he be interested in something like this?http://jobview.usajobs.gov/GetJob.aspx?JobID=81385352&JobTitle=International+Trade+Compliance+Analyst&jbf571=19&FedEmp=N&FedPub=Y&sort=rv%2c-dtex&vw=d&re=134&caller=basic.aspx&jbf574=CM*&AVSDM=2009-06-08+00%3a03%3a00
I should also comment that my last comment might be crazy and I just don't know anything about bad schools. I grew up here and took the white oaks, frost, TJ route so I will be the first to admit I don't know if being at a bad school would have affected my education.
housebuyer,Those factors are important too. That's why at the rich schools they don't need an extended school day, a modified school year calendar, and so on.But the point is that Graham Road ES gets test results that the other ES in FCPS (or Arl/Alex) that are low income and have large immigrant communities do not.[And for that matter low income schools in Northern Virginia generally outperform low income schools in DC. So teacher and school quality matters too.]
Actually, I partially amend my answer. I think some elementary schools in Arlington and Alexandria also have gotten good press for the results they have gotten with low income, immigrant communities. In fact, I think there was an article a few months ago (when the superintendent retired) about how Arlington had the lowest score gap between white and minority students.
Arkey,Look at the screening questions and in particular this one:2. Do you have experience with SAS, the statistical software program?I'm going to guess Meshell's husband would have to honestly answer no. His application would likely not score high enough to be selected.Many federal gov't positions are described in a way that only describes current employees. The system often favors people who work their way up through work study programs over those with strong educational backgrounds but no federal job experience.
housebuyer, all,I got in a heated discussion the other day with a TJ alum, who claimed that the only way to succeed in life from NoVa was to go to TJ, anything else just would never get you anywhere. I found this implausible to say the least, but I'm curious to hear your thoughts. The idea being, that if this is true, then the only thing that matters is the primary school, and getting into TJ.His reasoning was that the VA undergrads only take NoVa people from TJ almost exclusively, plus people from downstate. And he also seemed to think that all the IB/AP courses in the world wouldn't change the laziness factor of students who didn't have the gumption to go to TJ. I felt this was far-fetched, but I didn't grow up here.My apologies in advance if this becomes a ugly mess of a discussion.... "ducks".
Cara,I went to my base school in FCPS and got into UVA along with about 30 other students from my graduating class. There were students from every school in Northern Virginia at UVA. Too many if you ask the out of state and other parts of VA students. ;)I would say of the graduating class at my high school about 80 went to JMU, another 80 at Virginia Tech, probably 100 to GMU, and the rest to other Virginia schools or out-of-state schools.As for how people will do in life, I can say that if you just are comparing college degrees that it did not really matter if you went to UVA or JMU or GMU. Most people seem to be doing well. To the extent some people are doing extra well they went to graduate or professional school.
TBW-I guess I might have been mistaken the low budget you were talking about. I think the schools budget doesn't matter( for example TJ gets the smallest budget of a Fairfax county school) I do think that the incomes of the parents and friends parents tend to make a huge difference. I guess it may be possible that great teachers can get around this.
Cara, tell your TJ friend that a lot of people choose not to go to TJ because it's simply not worth the commute to only slightly one-up the best public schools in the country. Sure, nova people are at a disadvantage compared to other parts of VA, but it's not that dramatic. I went to a state school, and both my sisters went to UVA. We didn't go to TJ. I think your friend is a typical TJ snob. The folks I knew that went to TJ aren't out there conquering the world right now. Some burnt out, some are just mediocre in the end.
TBW..with that they are trying determine your ability to perform Data Analysis using a spreadsheet, you don't get scared off, you just compare and contrast EXCELL to SAS..altho I think SAS has better report as in print,old fashion print report capabilty. Just be sure to include the KSA buzz words.When government has a particular person or employee in mind, in-house promotion, it's annouced status employees only and the KSA would read using SAS with 10 to 15 different "inside" terms or acroymns.
Cara-I think that the person from TJ was being very pretentious. It is true that if you want to go to UVA you will get in if you go to TJ and get at least a 3.4(almost everyone does), but you can still get in from any other school. I would actually say that if you want to go to an Ivy it is better to stay at your base school. At TJ you will have 200 people apply to Harvard who all have 4.0 GPAs and 1550-1600(2300-2400 on the net scale) on the SAT. Two thirds of those people will be a varsity athlete for 4 years and on many clubs. There really is no way to differentiate yourself and Harvard will only take 10-15 people. On the other hand if you go to a base school and get those same scores you will have a much better chance getting in.The thing I did like about TJ was that it made college a joke. I went to Dartmouth got a double major and a minor working ~10 hours a week outside of the classroom. It was great going from 7 classes at TJ to 3 classes a term at Dartmouth that on average were easier than the TJ classes
Cara..thats so funny..your degree helps you get your first job and after that..you are pretty much on your own talent and capabilites.
kevin, tbw, housebuyer,That was my gut feeling. That while TJ can be a great experience, its not the end all and be all that this alum seemed to think it was. And that the best students from the other NoVa high schools have just as much opportunity for excellent well-priced in-state educations. He in particular was a case of burn-out. TJ was the best educational experience he'd had, and he didn't grasp that for his chosen field, where you got your PhD was critical to your future employment and career. Or maybe he did grasp that, and was lashing out at me for his mistake.
Arkey,I'm not an expert on filling out these screening questions (luckily most legal federal gov't positions do away with those), but the answers provided do not let you say "Yes, I've used something similar to SAS." It asks "have you used SAS?" If you say yes and then say actually I used Excel then you could get in trouble for lying on your application. Also, let's note the position you found it not a legal position. If your argument is that some lawyers need to take non-legal jobs, that may end up being the case. But that would mean this is going to be a tough recession and a lot of people are going to have to retool meaning the recovery will take a while.
Kevin-I agree that most TJ people are not conquering the world, but there are some. I really did enjoy working with some of the people. Since I have left I have never come across anyone with the intellect of some of my classmates. I remember one in particular entered high school having completed every AP science test and multivariable calculus. He took a lot of the national/international competitions in these fields and at one point he was ranked the best high school student in the world in computer science and Math. He was also the best in the country in Physics. So although most of the school is not in that league it was very interesting working with someone who had that type of intelligence.
housebuyer,Your experiences are not uncommon. Most people who took a bunch of GT/AP classes in high school found college to be easier. In high school you are in class from 7ish to 2ish and then have activities and tons of homework. In college you average 15 hours in class and have fewer assignments.On the other hand you don't live with your parents anymore and have some real life responsibilities (although living in dorm and dining halls takes care of some of them.)I learned more in my average AP class than my average college class. So really this is a common experience you describe and not limited to TJ.
Am I the only one that found college to be harder / more work than h.s.? In college we'd regularly read a 200-300 page book a week, and I'd have to write 10-15 page papers. In high school I don't think I ever wrote a paper more than like 7 pages, and the reading load was really light. I went to a fairly well-ranked public high school in PA.
anon412,There are routes I could have taken in college that might have been easier than HS, but I didn't take that route.Yeah we had 300-500 pages of reading a week (and I appeared to be the only person who read it all...). The first year physics course was a breeze, but there-after it got plenty difficult and time-consuming. And math-wise, I almost wish I had put off multivariable calculus and linear algebra til college, because I would have learned them a lot better (as opposed to mostly picking it up on my own as need be). I didn't hit the, "what, I thought this was supposed to be harder?" thing until grad school, but that again only lasted a year and was only true in certain courses.(top 25 public high schools in the country on the North Shore of Chicago, Ivy League undergrad).
TBW, I was just trying to point out that his skills can be transferred to other positions and by broading his search criteria he might find something suitable. Being a lawyer in government is dull. I don't know what type of law he practices. If you did go to UVA, I would think you would have a better understanding of C&C. You don't have to lie to incorporate the chosen buzz word to explain your specfic experience using spread sheets. DUH!
Call me dumb or new to the area or both but what is TJ?
Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology
I love this listing. From the pictures, it looks like they did a "kitchen renovation" (translation = slap on some new countertops, throw in SS appliances and every buyer will be W-O-W-ed) and raised the price by $60,000. No bites? But, but, the pretty granite countertops! Don't pretty granite countertops sell houses? And we have stainless steel!FX6998484 3/5/2009 $475,000 3/31/2009 $460,000 5/29/2009 $520,000 6/8/2009 $495,000
I agree with Cara it really depends what you studied. I have a double major in math and economics. My minor is in computer science. So for all three of these you are either doing problem sets or programs. These can be done very quickly if the material is not hard. If you took a lot of classes with papers to write and books to read I agree college is more time consuming
TJ is great. It's really for superstars that are geniuses + have a superhero work ethic. I'm glad we have something like it. That's where the cure for cancer is going to come from. These people shouldn't be in the general school population...despite what the teacher's unions believe.
Ah, so it's a Fairfax County magnet school then? When I talk to my wife and her friends I have conversations like this:Them: "blah blah blah (conversation stalls and they mention high school). So yeah, I went to the X magnet school in Y County (insert Metro Maryland/VA/DC stuff). Then I went to Z college/university."Me: (I look around for a way out) Oh...great! I bet that was fun...Them: "I made a lot of great friends but it was hard and it paid off. Where did you go to school at?"Me: "Oh, I went to school in West Virginia."Them: "Oh, did you go to a magnet school?"Me: "My county only has two high schools, one on each side of the country."Them: "Oh, so you didn't even HAVE a magnet school?"Me: "The words magnet and school were never used together where I lived unless you mean in science class."Them: "Wow, I didn't know that places like that exist!"Me: (Thinking to myself this "book smart" person is naive about most of the country) "Yeah, I would guess that 95% of the country is like that...Them: "No, that can't be."Me: "Sure it can."Them: (conversation stalls again as they realize we can't have a conversation on how great they are) "Oh....."Them: "I think I need to go talk to so-and-so over there...oh and my drinks almost gone, I need a new one." (they then gulp down the rest of their drink and run off fast)
Robert, I think magnet schools are great too. Unfortunately, some people that are supposedly geniuses end up not helping society as much as they could/should. Look at the unibomber. Also, that woman in the "Ask Marylin" column in the parade magazine. I've always thought it was weird that the person with the highest IQ in the country would use her life answering questions and doing puzzles and writing articles in a magazine that comes free with the Sunday paper (Parade magazine). Shouldn't she be out there curing cancer? Don't get me wrong, I want everyone to do what makes them happy in life but it seems like a huge waste.
Jeff,Yeah that was another aspect of the conversation with the TJ grad. He didn't seem to grasp the concept that Illinois plan of admitting the top ~20% (it changes) of every graduating class in the state to the main university is a great way to provide the best educational opportunities to the most motivated students to take advantage of it. He seemed to think it would have been better if they reserved those spots for IMSA (IL math and science academy) only. I was just like, dude! It doesn't work that way in the rest of the country, and perhaps that's a good thing!!! Of course I was from IL and my parents intentionally didn't tell me that IMSA existed, because I would have leapt at the idea of getting out from under their roof as soon as possible, which was totally unnecessary since they had paid all that money to get a TH by the freight/commuter/amtrak tracks in the best school district.(which is why I'm glad to hear tbw support my thesis that this guy was full of it w.r.t. UVA/VT/GMU admissions).
Meshell said...For example, we know an entry-level attorney position at Commerce received over 900 resumes, including many former law firm partners.This is not really helpful or indicative of anything. The Internet allow for hundreds, or even thousands of people to apply for a job with a simple mouse click. Another position he made the final cut for interviewed 15 people and the employer went with a laid-off junior partner. This position had been advertised as requiring 2 years experience.This sounds like nothing more than what a responsible law firm should do. Nothing unusual here.We also have 2 friends laid off from small govt contracting firms who are having a tough time.I worked for SAIC for 15 years. Contracts end. Even in the best of times, it takes weeks or months to find another contract to work on. Contracts can receive Stop Work Orders suddenly, leaving little time to plan looking for new work. This is a NORMAL part of working in the Washington area economy.I have seen you post several times that you personally don't know anyone having trouble finding employment in DC right now. It must be nice to keep such rarefied company! Your friends and relatives must have unique skill sets.Yes, this is still true. I DO NOT KNOW ANYONE THAT IS WITHOUT WORK.Rarefied, hardly.I'm not a lawyer, but I have three in the neighborhood. One with Mars Corp., one with Exxon Mobil, and one trial lawyer that said he's been doing patent infringement work for Verizon for the past two years. All doing well.
House buyer!My son "reads" at Darty now!He didn't opt for TJ, he figured why kill himself at TJ to be mediocre, instead be the top of the heap at your base school.I do sometimes wish he had stayed in Va & gone to UVA...he'd be done by now with all the AP'S (24) he has (that Dartmouth doesn't take..!!!) plus it would be 1/4 of the cost for his Mom & DadI hope it will all be worth it in the end!
Jeff-If you want a bigger waste than the fact she answers questions and puzzles. Look at the finance industry. A hundreds of thousands of the top students at the top schools went to work for large banks because the pay is amazing. Once at a bank their brain is used to try and make money in a zero-sum trading game. That surely does not benefit society, but it benefits their and their employers wallets...
JeffIt's sort of a magnet school, but, well better. It's probably the smartest high school in the country (they're pulling the top couple, 1?, less percent of the million people's kids in Fairfax) and this area is crazy about high school/college performance. I think the median SAT score there is in the 1500s (on the old scale). I'm like you, I came from a very rural area out West and went to a college best known for skiing, but I'm doing quite well and wouldn't have ended up on this career path if I hadn't been there.
Adam,You know what's funny? My grandparents live in a county in West Virginia that's huge in size (largest in that state) but only has one high school. Some kids travel by school bus for 2-3 hours each way to get to school. There are only 3 stop lights in the entire county (and less than 10,000 residents). There is however a radio telescope observatory there.http://www.gb.nrao.edu/
Spunky-I agree there are a lot of advantages of doing great at your base school. It is also really hard on your social life going there, because all of your friends live all over the county so it is hard to hang out with them. Yeah I think I was one of the few people who didn't read at Dartmouth, I just don't enjoy it so I figured I wouldn't do it. I hope your son is enjoying it, and although I don't think the education is better than UVA I think it will be worth it because you can get some amazing networking. Personally I loved my time there and couldn't be happier with my choice of college. Sorry that my annual gifts are too little to help make the tuition slightly more reasonable :)
Jeff,Those are also some of the nicest, most content, most laid-back and generally fabulous astronomers in the world. NRAO greenbank is the best. They keep trying to convert my husband into becoming a radio astronomer. If you want to get a kid interested in astrophysics have them talk to the people there. They'll be hooked for life.(they do some fabulous science too)
I took a tour of their facility a couple of times when I was there. I must say, I prefer Hawaii. They have a telescope and beaches...and I like the beach. :)The problem with Hawaii is that it costs a lot and I can visit West Virginia for free by staying at my family's places and eating their food!
Housebuyer,Thanks for the encouraging words.My son is very happy about his choice of schools and you are correct - the networking is unreal there. We hope he'll go to Med school at UVA & be closer to home !
Robert,You do not know what you are talking about. These are positions that used to get 300 applications. I doubt the additional 600 applications all came from non-lawyers.Peruse this website:http://abovethelaw.com/layoffs/and get back to Meshell and me about your notion that no law firms in DC are laying people off.Also ask the neighbors you note if *they* know of any lawyers being laid off or heard about it in the legal news. I guarantee they will say yes.
Robert,Also, junior partners (who earn roughly $300,000+ at most DC law firms) taking GS-12 legal positions with the federal government (less than $100k) is not business as usual as you seem to think. It's because of the recession.
Unless the legal areas have a special salary table, a GS-12 is most definitely not 100k. That's more in the 75k range. If you want 100k then you're talking GS-14.
Jeff,Correct. I put less than $100k because I could not remember the exact amount.These people are taking massive paycuts because of the recession. Even if they get a GS-15 legal position it is a massive paycut.
TBW: There a nearly identical place on 123 (in fact, I first thought this was it). It's across from the Giant plaza in Oakton. As far as I can tell, it's not complete, and like this, I suspect it was built on spec.
NoVAWatcher,I know exactly the home you are speaking of. It's such an eyesore and would be a horrible buy. All the noise of Chain Bridge/123. Impossible to get out of your driveway a large portion of the day. Also not too far from a cemetery.That side of Chain Bridge is ripe for more commercial zoning, not large homes. The homes over there are a relic of the past when Oakton was much less developed.
re: TJ I'm the rare TJ dropout- depressed and bored, missed 1/3 of the school year, but still the highest grades in the class on tests and papers. TJ was much nicer about it than a base school, but in the end it was better to quit and go to college instead (which was still too-easy, but gave me a lot more time/freedom). I think the labels and expectation of greatness can be damaging, and I feel sorry for the guy who bought the lie that TJ is the "only" way to learn in NoVA. I went the conventional, comfortable route to become an IT consultant, but I wonder what might've been if I hadn't been labeled "GT" and expected to pursue math and science and somehow "contribute". Perhaps I would've spent more time developing my artistic and verbal skills instead...
Arkey: the last time I used SAS (which was 10+ years ago), it was a programming language. Yeah, a spreadsheet interface existed, but it's power, like SPSS, was in the ability to write small, yet powerful, programs to mine data.
Nova-SAS still works that way. I was doing consulting for a bank that used SAS. There was no interface, we just used it mixed with sql as a programming language to analyze their data systems. I am pretty sure they used SAS not just sql because it is better with huge data sets. (data sets with monthly data on ~100 million credit cards get big really fast)
tbw,I haven't seen that house in Vienna yet but we just moved into a rental SFH a few blocks away from it. The whole area seems to be a strange mix of tiny 50 year old houses and massive rebuilds. There are quite a few of them on our street. I don't quite understand why someone looking to spend a million bucks on a house would choose to do so on a rebuild in a relatively unremarkable area. I truly wonder who's living in those houses.If I remember right you've been watching the area for quite a while. Which parts of Vienna are the good/bad areas? We watched a Stanley Cup game at the sports bar at the intersection of Cedar and Park and the shopping center was surprisingly sketchy. It seemed odd considering the huge houses that lined Park on the way there. We're near the intersection of Plum and Courthouse and I'm still unsure what to think of our neighborhood.
Have to take the opportunity to weigh in on the "schools" discussion with a plug for homeschooling. Northern Virginia is a fabulous place to homeschool. The opportunities are literally endless, the support system unparalleled, the laws liberal. Especially for high school. If you have a moment for some summer reading, pick up "The Teenage Liberation Handbook" at your local library. No matter what kind of schooling you experienced, you will find the ideas refreshing.And if you homeschool, you don't need to worry as much about in which district you reside. FREEDOM!(Disclaimer: Graduated from public high school, Ivy League undergrad, grad school cut short by a baby, homeschooling my seven+)
Jeff B: This past spring we looked at some rental houses in Vienna and Oakton, and two of the ones we looked at were in the region of Cedar and Park. One place was OK, but the other one...well, we didn't even get out of the car. The area seemed surprisingly sketchy around there.I also know what you mean by those tear-downs. Some of them look pretty darned nice custom builds, but there would be bungalows on either side.Something like this:http://franklymls.com/FX7038574http://franklymls.com/FX6889969As a very (very) rough rule of thumb, I'm more comfortable with areas west of 123. East of 123 is on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis.
Late to the ballgame, but my opinion for what it's worth:I'm not sure that going to a magnet school . . . is really so important.I grew up in po-dunk Georgia, in a small school that didn't even have AP calc. I worked my tail off though to get the absolute highest grades I could . . . we didn't have the 4.0 system but on the 100 scale I think I graduated w/ a 98.9. My dream was to go to MIT . . .well that didn't happen but I went to an exceptional engineering school. I'm really glad it worked out that way . . . a lot less debt.While it would have been nice to have been challenged more in h.s. I don't think I would change it. In exchange for going to a crappy h.s. I grew up on 30 acres, in the peace and quite of the appalachians. Away from a huge amount of crap that I could have gotten into.IMO, more important than going to a prestigious h.s. are the lessons and teachings of parents during those formative h.s. years. Is a parent doing their responsibility or are they turning over the parenting to the h.s.? In addition, if you are a savvy parent you can teach your kid just about anything nowadays through the internet. Want MIT courses . . . go to MIT Openware, get their classes and lectures for free!Different topic:I do find interesting Roberts articles and how he believes in the plethora of jobs available in this area and how that will save the housing market. I do think there is just 1 minor detail he is forgetting.Unless there is some machine that magically creates an adult individual and plops them here all these people have to come from somewhere. It might have an effect at re-employing those who have lost there jobs here, but let's think about those who are supposedly transplanting from other areas. The housing market in the entire country is going down. Let's take the case of a person who owned a house in a previous location. This person's house has fallen in value and unless they are coming from LA,Boston, NY, etc. housing is significantly less than here. If they sell their old place they will most likely be bringing money to the table to sell and then having to buy a house in a much more expensive area. Even if they don't have to bring money, they will be getting less for their house thus making the move more difficult.While pay here is better, it's not THAT much better to compensate for the increase in housing costs from say Atlanta if one has a house there. A very nice house could be had for 250, a comparable house would be 500 here. Pay here is not double. So that person that moves has to deal w/ selling their place for less and not living in as nice of a house.In addition, if they are looking at moving here for a job (and already have a house) there is a chance they already lost their own job, making the move even more difficult.Considering the case of one who moves here who doesn't own in a previous place. The case is much simpler, but again this person will be having to come up with a more significant amount of money in order to purchase and if coming from a lower cost of living area will most likely not have the cash saved up.In sum, the # of jobs available doesn't mean as much in a declining RE market. One way that it could help the RE market is if the massive amount of jobs causes competition b/w companies to hire individuals thus causing hiring wages to rise . . . other than that ... .I don't believe Robert is adequately factoring in that all these people must come from somewhere. In a national rising market the differences are masked and it's easy to move. In a falling national market, differences are exacerbated and it becomes a PITA to move.
This is a terribly full bucket to put this in, but I'll probably just repost it tomorrow.I'm sure you've all been wondering the answer to the question, how many people were priced out by the bubble and are therefor stumbling over themselves for houses now creating the demand we're seeing.As a measure of this, I give you the American Housing Survey data for the DC area, DC proper, PG county and FFX county.http://www.census.gov/prod/2009pubs/h170-07-18.pdfPreviously I've reported the fact that from 1998 to 2007, these areas all increased in the percentage of owner-occupied households.DC area: 68.2 (2007) 64.5 (1998)DC proper: 44.9, 41.5PG County: 63.8, 62.8FFX County: 76.0, 72.0In all cases this means that more people chose to buy than normally would have under the favorable buying conditions of the long-slow flat period leading up to 1998.But how many people chose not to?Here are the totals for renters making more than 60k (total renters):DC area: 238k (619.6k)DC proper: 34.3k (136k)PG County: 38.1k (106k)FFX County: 46.3k (88.9k)Since not all of these people would buy anyway for whatever reason, this represents an upper limit on the number of people sitting on the sidelines as accumulated by 2007. But you'll notice that while most DC and PG county renters could not afford today's prices at all, half of FFX county's 2007 renters could afford to buy if prices cam down to 150k. At the $300k price that's sort of typical now, only 22k FFX renters made over 100k/year in 2007. At an inventory of 4k homes in FFX that would take a little over 5 months to burn through every last fence-sitter (assuming all these people even want to buy) aside the ones that have accumulated in the interim. At a guess this means prices need to dip into the affordability level of the cadre of people making 60-80k and 80-100k, and they need to do so this fall. (not all the higher earners are going to jump in at the same time).
Jeff B,I grew up around there although west of where you are. I did not even know that shopping center was there. I'll have to look at it next time I'm in that area and see how sketchy it seems.I'm much more familiar with the shopping centers that line Maple Avenue. You seem to live closer to those. Have you tried the stores there? I've always felt 100% safe at those stores. Patrick Henry Library (also nearby) also always felt safe and never sketchy.As for why people like the area so much -- (1) Madison HS, (2) close to Tysons Corner jobs, and (3) Vienna Metro Station. What they don't like is how small the houses are in the older communities. Hence the tear down and rebuilds.
Actually, I'll add two more (4) W&OD Trail -- fun to walk/bike/run on and (5) the Town of Vienna has sort of a retro feel (pro or con depending on your viewpoint.)
TBW hit a couple of points spot on. I'll reiterate one, and bring up another.1) Those post-war houses can really be cheap and rinky-dink. In any other part of he country they'd be considered the "bad side of town" -- lower working class. Maybe worth $100k, at most, elsewhere.2) 123. 123 is a great example of the complete lack of long-range planning in NoVA (contrast older satellite image of 128, showing zones for clover-leafs decades before they were built). There should be a limited-entrance road (e.g. 50 between 66 and 28) going from 66 to Tysons. Instead, you have stop-and-go traffic through downtown Vienna. Even worse, if there is an accident on 66, they all get off at the Chainbridge/123 exit. My work is closer to downtown Fairfax, and when that happens, I either have to do a U-turn right after I pass over 66 (everything funnels down into Old-town Fairfax, creating insane gridlock), or if I'm prescient, take Jermantown over 66 so that I pop-up near Waples Mill/Shirley gate so that I can take the Braddock back road to work.
Thanks for the thoughts on Vienna. I don't think our area is unsafe, we're just a little more wary than we might be because someone snagged the faceplate off of my wife's car radio last week. We just moved in two weekends ago and her car sat unused in our driveway all week. Unfortunately I think it was unlocked (oops!) but we didn't expect anyone to take anything. That has her spooked a little bit.In general Vienna is very nice though. As you said all the shops along Maple are fine, everything west of Maple seems fine, and the majority of neighborhoods east of Maple are decent (and improving). We like it. Our house is certainly one of the post-war houses that you mentioned. It is TINY, definitely under 1000 sqft if it weren't for the small finished attic. The lot, however, is a half acre and beautifully landscaped. It's a nice place if you don't need a ton of space. The neighbors seem friendly and it's convenient to many things.
Post a Comment
Subscribe in a reader