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.
Well, we did it: Sold our home in Arlington and are now renting a place in Bethesda (where we looked at a place last month that was a full scale mansion renting for 3K; we opted to not get it because it was a long hike to the metro and we didn't want to spend the money furnishing it). We're shorting the real estate market for at least the next 18 months.
Gruntled,Congrats on the sale. Best of luck with the strategy. Given that it sounds like you're moving to the MD side of the river anyway, this seems like it was the best plan. Or the least risky anyway.
great news, gruntled! Hope you find something you like in those 18 months.
Congrats gruntled, I think you'll find that you made the right choice over the next 18 months.
For Meshell: For the house on 14th St. in Southgate rent would probably be about $1500 to $1600 a month, maybe a little more if we can get in a second bath. I don't rent these houses, but flip them. If we can get in a second bath, renovation costs go up by about $9,000 or slightly more depending on where the plumbing stacks are located. If I sell to an FHA buyer, I have to wait for 3 months to sell under FHA's anti-flipping reg. If house sells at $375,000 with my renovation costs, carry, commission, closing costs and other miscellaneous, I can make $30,000 or so. If FHA buyer uses 3.5% FHA financing at 5.5%, monthly pre-tax cost is about $2529 and after tax cost is about $1,950. If buyer using no money down VA financing at 5.5%, monthly carry is about $2600 pre-tax and $2000, after-tax. If military couple, housing allowance will cover. If single buyer (military or otherwise), they will likely have a roommate who will pay $700-$800 a month depending on second bath and how well house looks. Military people buy these houses so they can park their cars where they can keep an eye on them (many garages are in back yards of these houses or can be built because the yards are deep) and for large dogs (not sure why so many military people haul large dogs around the world, but they do). They also get a foothold in Arlington, can rent the place when they go elsewhere and can come back to it if they are re-assigned to DC or can continue to rent it (many military people have investment properties in S. Arlington) or sell it and buy something else. Of the houses I sold in late 2008 & early 2009, 7 were sold to military people who fit this description. Others were sold to young couples who bought the houses instead of condos in place like Fairlington, The Arlington, Parkfairfax. If they want to move on and keep the houses, their monthly costs are low enough to rent them if the market is bad or sell them if the market is good.
Also, to revisit the moving company discussion from yesterday...We used Henderson's moving service when we moved from Courthouse to Vienna in early June. It was my first time using a mover, my wife and I figured we'd splurge to make the process less exhausting than it usually is. We were moving out of a ~700 sqft apartment and didn't have an extraordinary amount of stuff. It took them 6.5 hours to complete the move, mainly because they disappeared for 30 minutes every time they took a load to the truck. It was extremely frustrating and the experience was much worse than if we had just moved ourselves. The truck was too small, they got the loading ramp stuck and couldn't get it back under the truck, etc, etc. The estimate was for 3-4 hours.We complained to the owner and after a few promising emails he stopped responding to email or phone calls. It's with the BBB now. We looked online for reviews and didn't find anything bad about this company. One of my wife's co-workers recommended them to us which is the main reason we went with them. Next time I think we'll try using a POD instead.
XLF jumps up over it's 200 day MA. With today's move, it seems likely to stay there.While I'm still cautious, this is clearly a solid indicator for the market as a whole, and should bode well for many things going forward. It's now looking more and more likely that the March 9 lows were in fact a true bottom for this bear market. I still don't think that was the start of a new bull, but it is probably the worst we'll see.Because I'm biased (I want/need this to continue to be bad for a while longer) this doesn't make me particularly happy. But barring cataclysm, or at the very least a major falling out--I'm not going to let my biases affect my perception of reality.If CIT Group goes down, I may revisit this. But if they pull it together or get a bailout from Fed/Treasury or FDIC, we're done with deflation.How does that affect housing? We'll have some more new lows in this fall and winter, and possibly some more shakeout next year, but ultimately, the market will return to some form of normal next spring, unless local conditions would indicate otherwise (Michigan, e.g.). Around here, I think we're petty much done.*grumble*
xpovos,The jump from Intel, makes you sure the worst is over, when volatility is starting to increase again??? Today's moves look particularly like people speculating that there will be more good news soon from other companies. Which is not bourne out in the industrial capacity utilization.On the bright side, if you're right, then there will be a move away from treasuries, which will push interest rates back up, and housing prices down, or at the very least housing prices will have to reflect a more typical interest rate, and hence have less downside risk.
Xpovos-I am agree that it is very unlikely the March lows will not be taken out. As a second comment the market can continue to fall substantially and stay above the moving averages. The average will likely continue to fall for another month or two. I think a more relevant conversation for this is board is whether a stock market recovery is good or bad for the housing market.Personally I think the housing market will do best if the market treads water for a year or two and interest rates move up in a very slow fashion. I think if the market takes off everyone will start to get worried about inflation and we could see 7-8% rates in very short order. I know some people disagree with me that rates matter, but I think if rates hit 7-8% we will see housing prices come down an additional ~10%
Cara,Not Intel, Goldman Sachs more. I'm disappointed how much of that appears to be the recommendation of one (respected, but just one) analyst.Intel's not in the XLF, and I'm watching the XLF for a number of reasons. Financials have historically been the first to benefit after a recession (high yield spreads) and they were the root of the problem to begin with.It's by no means a guarantee, but the current positioning indicates that the worst is actually over. We may well go down from here, but I don't think we'll even test those March lows at this point.But not going down isn't the same as going up. I expect the economy to recover very slowly, and for inflation to be a pressing concern. Those both make buying a house more attractive for those who can, though.
I haven't read Goldman Sach's report but I'm very wary of their profits. The financial system is a mess right now and I think they're very well positioned to exploit that in the short term to make real profits and fill their reports with phantom profits to make even more in reported profits. After seeing the chicanery that went on in the last round of quarterly reports from the major banks I'm not in a rush to believe what they tell us.GS is probably making good money in the short term with all the cash being dumped on the banks. I don't think it's sustainable and I think their long term prospects are weak. The amount they can be leveraged is restricted now, right? They can't return to their former levels of profitability.I don't know where the market goes from here, your analysis seems reasonable xpovos. I'll be making most of my bets on the price of oil going up.
xpovos,Today's spike has got to be Intel, no matter what index you're using. Why? Because it was hugely good news after hours in a non-wishy-washy-BS industry like financials, but a fundamentally useful component like chips. And it was all over the news. People are taking this as a bell-weather, if they're wrong they're going to eat it. If you look at the pattern underlying the DOW or S&P the curve has flattened and is starting down, adding volatility on top of it is a bad sign, not a good sign, no matter which direction that volatity is, up or down. It's a sign of weakness and indetermination. But I am a terrible stock prognosticator, so I should shut up now. I do much better on interest rates. I agree with housebuyer that actual strength in the stock market poses a real threat to the housing market through interest rate shock. It's all about the actual purchasing power of buyers. If we have another jobless recovery, prices will come down to norms through price decreases, not just years of stagnation.If you want your down-payment to go further, hope for a reasonably sturdy stock-market recovery, and a return to 7% mortgage interest rates.
Cara,I (and friends/family) have had a good experience with this local moving company:http://www.jkmoving.com/Side note -- my moves have always been off peak months. I suspect that helps a lot in getting good service. They are underworked those months (and overworked summer months). I also do not have anything particularly fancy -- I'm saving those buys for when I own a home that I'll live in for 20+ years and will not have to worry about movers breaking them.
Cara,I'd love 7%. But is it wrong of me to hope for 10% or more? My parents tell me of the time they bought their house. They locked in their 30-year fixed at over 8% and were hurting on that... until a few months later the house next door sold to a couple paying 11%. This was the very early 80s.10% knocks out anyone who wants to buy a house for anything other than rent replacement housing with options to remodel.
If we are talking about GS I think we need to mention their compensation. Holy ****!! In Q2 08(before the banking meltdown) they had 36K employees and compensation for the quarter was a little over $4B (~120K/employee/quarter). For Q2 09 they had 28K employees and their compensation wsa ~$6.5B(~240K/employee/quarter). I find it amazing that their average employees is making 2X as much money as a year ago. Lets not even touch the fact that in 3 months their average employee made more money than most of 1-2 years.
tbw,Thanks, they look really professional and good. We'll have to keep that in mind if we change our minds.Xpovos, 10% could happen, but I'll wait to actually see the inflation return in force before calling that. But yes, 10% would seriously knock down the price landlords can pay if they're not buying in cash, and reduce buyers to only those who are really serious.
housebuyer,Wow...that's an absurd level of compensation. I also saw a story recently (which I can't find now) that said that insiders were dumping a boatload of GS stock over the last 6 months, even when the stock was at its low. I do believe something smells funny at GS.The compensation just makes me believe that they didn't learn anything from the last 3-4 years. They still think they can just print money and dole it out to their employees. How they're going to do that as a bank holding company is beyond me. Or maybe they can just switch back to an investment bank overnight, I don't know.
housebuyer said..."I know some people disagree with me that rates matter, but I think if rates hit 7-8% we will see housing prices come down an additional ~10%"Easily. The difference in completely leveraged purchases on a 5% loan and an 8% is about 25%. That's one reason I really poopoo the "buy now cuz rates are low" bullshit pandered by realtors.
housebuyer,very very interesting. Is it just me, or does this look like a big fat golden parachute for every remaining employee? Or are the current parachutes for the laid-off employees counted in that compensation number, do you know?
I thought Intel's net revenue dropped by 21%? That doesn't sound very optimistic to me.
Regarding moving...Cara, I agree that moving yourself is one of the best ways to do it if you can gather up some friends to help out. Friends naturally care more about protecting your stuff than most movers.I used a moving company a few years back that damaged several pieces of furniture. I had paid for "extra insurance" - full replacement value coverage - which was to reimbursement me for the cost of replacing any damaged pieces at current replacement cost.After my furniture was damaged, I asked the mover for a claim form. I submitted it to him and didn't hear anything for a few weeks. So I call and ask, "Did you hear anything from the insurance company?" His response, "Oh, I don't have an insurance company, that insurance premium I charged goes to me. I self-insure." Then, me: "OK, when are you going to pay me for the damage?"Him: "I'll repair your furniture myself, but I won't pay to have it replaced."Me: "But you sold me full value replacment coverage."Him: "But I'm not going to pay to replace it since I've offered to repair it."It's now four years later and after wasting time with the neutered BBB and then winning a judgment in court against that POS, I have still yet to collect a dime.So the lesson is if you buy supplemental insurance, ask them if there is a real insurance company and, if so, make sure you have proof in writing in advance. If there isn't a real insurance company, you are probably wasting your money on the "premium."
Jeff- Yes I am pretty sure the insiders sold something like $700MM of the stock in the past 6 months. My guess is they were really worried about liquidity and figured it was better to play it safe than sorry so they got enough cash that they could live their fat cat lives even if the stock went to zero.I think the problem with the business is that they have set up a culture where they have to pay their employees half of the gross profit so during good quarters they just get paid obscene amounts of money. I think pay will slow now that they can not make as much money off of bonds as they could the last two quartersCara-I am pretty sure all of the pay is for the current employees. They did most of the lay offs before this quarter so I think they would have already booked the expenses for it. It will be a fun bonus season this year for them. Maybe the Nantucket real estate market won't fall 50% after all :)Kevin-I agree buying now only makes sense if you will stay in your house a long time or plan to rent it out when you move. If you can not take full advantage of the great rates now is not a good time.
In terms of movers, I've used Mighty Men Moving twice (http://www.mightymenmoving.com/) and will use them again as needed. Owner is nice and on-site. They also use what seems like a ridiculous amount of tape to wrap everything in blankets. And they work fast!
Hey, does anybody have a recommendation for Montgomery County real estate blog like this one (or maybe I should just start one :-) )There used to be some great Maryland RE blogs I used to follow, but they've kind of dried up or evolved to follow the larger crisis.
Good advice, John F, thanks.
Thanks, Anie, for the numbers. I was curious about how the rental numbers worked. That is really interesting. We used JK Moving and we were really happy with them. It was just a small local move and we don't own anything nice, so probably not a huge challenge for them but they worked hard and carefully and the price seemed reasonable.
I wonder if the big national movers (United, Mayflower) are safer than the local movers? Whenever they do an expose on TV, the culprit always seems to be a local/regional mover.
Novawatcher,My impression is, yes, the big national movers are "better". They also have to abide by federal laws because of crossing state lines, not local ones...(Mayflower is who did our paid-for move)
Both Merrill Lynch and now the Fed see recovery (from calculated risk).Maybe you're right Xpovos, or maybe it's just that a lot of people agree with you. Or want to.The inflation expectation in there, and the statement that "higher mortgage rates" will be offset "The projected boost to aggregate demand from these factors more than offset the negative effects of higher oil prices and mortgage rates." implies to me that the Fed is considering coming off the zero lower bound and letting rates come up. Interesting times.
Cara-Although there is a lot of talk about inflation, the markets really have not made a big bet on it yet. The market is currently expecting the average inflation for the next 5 years to be 1.3% and the inflation for the next 10 years to be 1.7%These would be the lowest inflation rates since the depression http://www.thedigeratilife.com/images/historicalinflationrates.jpg
housebuyer,Agreed, as I said before I'm, not betting on strong inflation or 10% mortgage rates until I see actual signs of it happening. But I'm just inferring from what the FOMC said, that they see inflation soon.
Interesting perspective from DC's little cousin city to the Northeast. Falling prices mean more selection for first-time home buyers.Baltimore Sun storyIt's interesting to compare their spin to the WaPo. They actually see affordability as a *good* thing. What a concept!Better affordability is good news not only for buyers but the housing market, which has suffered from a domino effect after Baltimore metro area prices practically doubled earlier in the decade. When first-timers can't buy, people in starter homes can't sell - which means they can't buy bigger homes, and the owners of those homes can't buy anything else either. Sales have plummeted in the metro area since the end of 2005. Thousands of homes have simply been sitting on the market.But then there's this: Buyers getting a low-down-payment FHA mortgage can comfortably afford a $250,000 house with today's rates as long as they make at least $65,000, by themselves or as part of a couple."Comfortably" affording 3.84x income? Really?
Gruntled, people over at http://bubblemeter.blogspot.com/ often talk about the whole metro DC area, including Montgomery County.It doesn't get as much traffic as here though, and some of the commenters are pretty annoying.
Anon-It isn't super comfortable, but with 3.5% down they have a 240K mortgage which has monthly payments of less than 1,400 at a 5.5% interest rate. This would be less than 25% of their $5,400 gross monthly income. It really shows why you can't use old rule of thumb rules when interest rates go crazy...I agree the housing market is much better if housing is inexpensive, but I don't think the author portrays it correctly when he says pricing coming down will allow people to move to bigger houses. In the process of housing falling the move up buyers lost all of their equity so they can't afford to buy the bigger house. So it definitely helps first time buyers and will help the whole market over time, but I don't think it helps the market function in the short term
housebuyer, with FHA, they'd have to pay the mortgage insurance as well. And taxes, and maintenance....It doesn't seem comfortable to me at all.
Yeah, just thinking about it more, your total housing expense could be $1700 or more. With $5400 a month gross you might only have $3600 take-home depending on your tax deductions, health insurance, 401k, etc, so you could spending almost 1/2 of your take-home on housing.
Anon412,yeah, but they also seem to be pushing for $200k and under as the true starter-home market. So, I wouldn't be too concerned by their specific example.It also re-emphasizes a point I've made that inventory going down overall, doesn't necessarily mean a smaller inventory for a given buyer. Price compaction into your price-range is a good thing.housebuyer,That depends on the willingness of the next rung of sellers to meet the market. I agree, it won't be quick though. But given that the best reason for moving up is your own salary increases, any lowering of all prices is a good thing for move-up buyers outside of those who bought later than 2003. Who are goners anyway.
I just think the difference in perspective compared to WaPo is really interesting. It's like, "Hey look, people with average incomes can comfortably afford a nice average house now. That's good!" I can't imagine a similar article appearing in the WaPo.
Anon412,well, it's also not really true yet here, so if they did, I'd get all irate. Can you picture the story? People with starter salaries can now afford a TH in the suburbs! Or a 1 bedroom condo in Arlington, yippee! horray! Or a run-down former rental near Fort Belvoir. Joy of joys. Though there was a hint of that even in the Baltimore story.E. Razzi seems to be keying in on what it is that people want to hear (in the bubble people wanted their kool-aid fix), so I wouldn't be surprised if she runs something like this soon.
And I'm not saying it'd defnitely be irresponsible (buying a $250k house with $65k). If you had little or no other debt, a secure job with possibility of promotion, and were reasonably sure you'd stay in the place for 5 years or more, it could work out really well for someone to take advantage of low rates that way. But I think it's about at the limit of what's responsible, not "comfortable."
Anon-I agree with you. It is pushing it, but as long as you have modest tastes and a secure job you should be fine. Around here they could publish a fun story about affordability. They could comment that because the owner of this TH is willing to take a 300K loss it would only take 4-5 families with average income to afford a TH. It really is amazing thinking about a $2MM townhouse...http://franklymls.com/FX6945763
housebuyer,That's a riot. How do you find these gems? I like the dwarfed 1960's split levels behind them.It is an inpressive TH, but still mindboggling. I have difficultly wrapping my mind around what the price should be for anything over the $600k range. Love the "wet-bar" though. Apparently they do too given how many pictures they took of the basement.
I agree with housebuyer. I think given current interest rates a $65k income buying a $250k house is fine. My only gloss is I think they should wait until they have a real 20% down payment instead of a silly 3.5% FHA down payment.I hate that we've moved away from requiring 20%. It makes people much more responsible. People who build up a 20% down payment learn how to save. They start to think about the difference between need and want. When they put down that 20% for the home they start to miss that nest egg and probably desire to have that amount in the bank again leading to responsibel spending decisions. This means people will then be "saving" by paying the mortgage and saving by a saving account. They then do not end up 62 and only having Social Security to pay the bills.With a few exceptions, people who never had the discipline to save a 20% down payment will end up only "saving" by paying the mortgage and not realizing the mental sanity that comes with a lot of money in the bank.Also you usually need to be a little older (late 20s to mid 30s) to have that 20% meaning you'll have been in the workplace for a while. You'll likely be working during boom times and lean times. That lean time work period will be invaluable in making you realize you need a rainy day fund and no job (minus perhaps the fed gov't) is ever 100% safe./rant
housebuyer,Not surprised to see that $2mm home was built in 2005. That's when crazy decisions were made. Multi-million dollar mansion abutting Chain Bridge Road or Leesburg Pike? Sure. Super-expensive townhomes? Sure.I can't blame the developer for taking advantage of the market then. People were idiots and bought almost anything. So why not build 15 $2MM TH instead of 7 $3MM SFH? That's $9MM extra profit. That's why near the end of the bubble you saw them pushing 2000+ sq ft condos for $3MM plus like Turnberry Tower in Rosslyn and 2501 Penn Ave. Apparently (the developers reasoned) this is Midtown Manhattan and there is so much uniqueness (chuckle) in Arlington and DC that the kinds of people with that income would buy a huge condo instead of a mansion out in the burbs.
Housebuyer, that is insane. If I'm spending $2 million on a townhouse, it had better have an elevator and a kick-ass monument view.http://franklymls.com/AR7030307
paKa,I suspect that while the TH has views of many things it's not like those pictures. I am 95% certain those are stock photos of DC landmarks.Also who did those landowners sleep with to keep those roads south of Rte 50 labeled N?
Okay, the FX townhouse has an elevator. My bad.I'm sure the views aren't as good as the picture, but I bet they are nice. I wouldn't pay $2.5 million for them though (assuming I had anywhere near that kind of money).TBW, I don't know how that happened with the Rosslyn neighborhood south of 50 being labeled "North."
Actually, I spent the 4th at a place a few blocks away. It was on the 8th floor but the view pretty much looked just like in that picture. If the upper floor is above the Meade St. treeline, id say that view is accurate.
Yep, I concur, the views from that area are awesome. I'd much prefer one of the top level units on the building behind this one though. Now that's a view! They used one of them as Tom Hank's apartment in Charlie Wilson's War. We looked at renting an apartment in that building but it was on the other side and the normal apartments in that building aren't anything special.
i'm pretty sure those photos are not stock. i remember parking at those townhomes to visit the iwo jima, it is literally right there.
I can buy Iwo Jima but the Lincoln-Washington-Capitol view looks more like something I saw from Pentagon City which is further south.
TBW - take a look at the 5th picture (daytime view) -- it shows iwo jima in the foreground. That last shot (which is so perfect it looks like a stock photo) is just a close up at night.JeffB. Regarding the apartment, do you happen to recall what the rent differential was for one facing the water? I would suspect it is pretty large, but im curious what the premium is for views like that.
The building is the Prospect House. Here's a frankly listing for one of the water-side units:Prospect HouseI believe the water-side units are all like this one - split level and spacious. The units on the other side of the building were like normal, somewhat old apartments. I think the rent for the one we looked at was around $1800? for a 1BR most likely. I looked through my old gmails, this is an ad for one of the nice side ones I believe. We didn't look at this one, probably because it was too expensive at the time, and I now wish we had. $2100 doesn't seem all that bad for how nice those places are, honestly. If you're bold you can walk around to the front of the building from the parking lot and look in some of the ground-level units since the whole wall is glass.----------PROSPECT HOUSE -LUXURY BUILDINGReply to: firstname.lastname@example.orgDate: 2007-04-18, 11:46AMOne Bedroom apartment available immediately.Includes assigned parking24 hour conciergePorter on duty24 hour securityOlympic Size Swimming PoolPicture shown taken from rental unit balconyEmail me for more interior photos and more information1000++ square feetGleaming Hardwood FloorsBrand new kitchen appliancesSeparate Dining AreaRenovated bathroomSpectacular views and abundance of sunlighthigh ceilingsLarge walk-in closetssplit level floor planPrivate GymWalk 5 Minutes from Rosslyn Metro ---------
It was clipped from my paste but that 1BR on the nice side was listed for $2100. The one that we visited was on the other side and was somewhere around $1700-1800. The buildings on that hill in Rosslyn that don't have views are surprisingly affordable for renters. Well...maybe not affordable, let's say well priced for the Rosslyn area.
Many of the streets south of Rt. 50 in Rosslyn bear the North designation as do the streets in Arlington Cemetery and Fort Myer. Maybe Mrs. Robert E. Lee slept with one of the Yankees to try to keep them from evicting her from the Custis-Lee Mansion at the beginning of the Civil War. They may have made a mistake and instead of letting her stay in the mansion they designated the streets "North" instead of "South" to further humiliate her.
Gruntled-I would love to see you start a Montgomery county housing blog. I read here often but don't post much because I am more interested in Montgomery county,
"Hey, does anybody have a recommendation for Montgomery County real estate blog like this one (or maybe I should just start one :-) )There used to be some great Maryland RE blogs I used to follow, but they've kind of dried up or evolved to follow the larger crisis"Unfortunately, Bubble Meter let the trolls take over. I tried to start posting there regularly but all that happened was that I was told I was a terrible human being by anonymous posters for not being enthused about the housing market. They tried to get it under control but it is too little, too late. In internet communities, bad posters drive out good. And no offense, but what is the obsession with Arlington? On this blog it makes sense to post about Arlington, but on Bubble Meter? I don't feel like reading about Arlington on every single regional bubble blog, I never go there, it might as well be Tibet to me. I think there are a lot of people out there interested in MontCo, so it's too bad.
Maryland folks - bookmark this. If people want to post here, I'll provide a daily post for comments and some very basic moderation. http://marylandbubblefallout.blogspot.com/
Xpovos: "Intel's not in the XLF,"Cara: "Today's spike has got to be Intel"NoVAwatcher: "Intel's net revenue dropped by 21%?"Intel?Intel was "interesting" a few days ago. SLM was "interesting" a couple months ago. Immunozone RE is "interesting" at the right price.
"And no offense, but what is the obsession with Arlington?"It mostly has to do with the fact that the various real-estate pumpers have never been able to admit they were wrong about the bubble. Based on how conversations on bubblemeter and this blog go, you would think that the majority of the people here lived in Arlington, but generally it is the same few people bringing up Arlington continually.This blog is better than bubblemeter because at least here you also get discussions about other areas where people are considering buying.
Sounds as if I need to go visit BubbleMeter, but I promise I won't post anything about Arlington!
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