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.
Copied from last night's bits bucket into a new one:Confessions of a would-be knife catcher:Okay, here's the thing. The place we're considering putting an offer on is a condo, in a development with two basic styles, two "townhomes" piggybacked on top of one ground floor unit. There are 186 total units in the place 2/3 are the two-story style we're looking at. current going price for the 2-story units $230-$265kSo, I looked through the FFX county tax records. 45 units sold during what I'll define as the peak for this development. Where I'm calling this as when the 2 story units were going for over $300k, That's 24% of the units (this is just by current ownership, so misses some that have already been resold for less). High-water mark was $355k, that unit just got listed as a SS today by the way...If only 1 in 10 foreclose or default or try for a short sale, then that's only 4 to 5 more SS, and I don't think that will move prices that much further. Lower, sure, but not disasterously so. But what if it's more like 1 in 5, and then the people who bought at $250k start to bail (there aren't that many of these, this place was late to the party and rocketed up once it joined in). What's to stop them from crashing to $150k or less?My answer to that is, cash-flow investors. Am I crazy to feel that if landlords are jumping all over freaking Greenfield Farms and stuff out by Braddock Road once it hits anything under $200k, that I can likewise count on them to recognize a cash-flow positive asset and invest in my complex if it ever crashes to say 120x current monthly rent (after subtracting off the condo fee). Can I confidently use in my calculations a cash-flow investor floor to calculate our maximum reasonable losses on the capital?Because the price we'd be offering makes this place cheaper than our current rental even at a 15yr amortization including the condo fee, so, we have a lot of leeway for losses, and still come out ahead over renting. The other option of course is to go ahead and sign up for the 6 month lease, and sit back and watch the carnage for a little while longer and buy one of the short sales as they come along. Or buy something bigger and nicer later. But I think you can define a price at which even though prices are going to go further down from here, from that built up potential energy sitting on the edge of a cliff of all the extremely underwater owners, you can define a price at which it still makes perfectly good financial sense to buy.
And my answers to the first few comments there:Meshell,That's exactly the way they look. Actually if you look at a picture it looks just like townhouses with a high basement, but then you find out, hey wait that other entrance has a number on it, it's a unit too. Nova, Nope, it's in Burke Centre.You know what? No one who wasn't already interested in these places is going to come in and outbid me, and if they do? More power to them, it's not like there's a lack of SS potentially coming down the pipeline so here you go:Frankly search for the complexNotice the odd picture of someone trying to take a picture of a downstairs unit?Part of what I like about them is the evidence that the current board is good. If you look through the comps you see that the roof, siding and windows have been replaced in the whole condos in the last 5 years or so, and yet the fee is still a reasonable $200. The grooming is excellent as is the paving of the streets, both of which are paid for. It's not the kind of condo where you can just call maintanence, but that's fine, we weren't looking for that. Oh, and Sarah asked about rentals bringing down the wrath of the banks. On the Fannie and Freddie cites I believe the limit was 50% owner-occupied. Given that only a quarter will be heavily underwater, I'm not too concerned. Besides, unless they actually change the status of their loans to non-primary residence, how would the bank know? (except those who sold)
Cara-- In the past condos were always the hardest hit and prices fell the most-- so I'm a little bit wary. There's also this... Since condos compete more directly with apartments falling rents are a bigger problem with them than with single family. That said, in the case of condos it's possible that it really is 'different this time'. If we really do have a generation (finally!) who wants an urban lifestyle then definitely well-located condos should hold up a lot better in value than in the past.
Sarah-I am not sure that a generation that wants an urban lifestyle would be looking at the same condo's as Cara. Burke is not urban at all, I would think people looking for an urban lifestyle would stay closer to the city and either rent or get a smaller place
Cara, I agree with Sarah. It surprised me that you would consider a condo as risk adverse as you are. That being said, they look nice, the area looks nice and I can see why you would seriously consider it at your price. Good luck. I have never had a condo so I'm not speaking from any experience, just fear of the unknown expenses that can be assessed because of something not covered by the insurance. I read horror stories of people getting shot then filing a lawsuit againt the condo because they didn't provide enough security to keep a mad husband from shooting you..that kind of stuff.. I'm conservative with my money. I have always been a fraidy cat and never have I gone above 2 1/2 times take home pay. My first home I was 22/23..long time ago..I was so afraid of the responsibilty. I took the plunge and can still remember waking up the first time in my new home and just smiling, feeling so grown-up. This was after a hitch in the navy and being married for 4years. This was what made me finally feel like an adult.
And here I thought that South Arlington was supposed to be less expensive. In the Barcroft, Alcova Heights, Arlington Heights, and Penrose neighborhoods (between 50 and Col. Pike) there are currently 21 detached houses for sale. Only four of those are under $500k - two short sales, one REO, and one where either the owner is going to take a loss, or it will end up as another short sale. Really, everyone thinks about 50 as this magical cutoff between expensive N. Arlington and S. Arlington, but really with the exception of Columbia Heights-West, the areas north of Columbia Pike are also quite spendy.
When you all visit homes that need a lot of work, do you start with a value that the home should be worth if everything is in decent condition and then subtract from that amount the approximate cost it would be to do the work?For example, I saw a house yesterday listed 5% above the 09 assessed value which probably is an ok place to start for the initial value. However, NOTHING had been done to maintain/update the house. The major things needed are a new deck (the current one is rotted and dangerous), new flooring (the carpets need to be ripped up because smokers live there now, and the parquet floors are cracked and gross and we'd probably put new hardwoods throughout), and the kitchen hasn't been touched since 1972, so the entire kitchen would need to be redone.So, should I subtract the approximate cost of these repairs? Or maybe 80% of the cost of these repairs? What kind of formula do you all use?
MJCIt varies, but generally a house with correctable defects will sell for a little more than it's fixed market value plus the cost of correcting those defects. In bad markets, you can reverse that (and pay less than the cost of repairs, but usually you have to contribute a substantail part of the labor in order to "profit" from a house in need of an update.
Cara,I'm not sure if anyone's mentioned this - sorry if so - but a significant risk when buying a condo is that lenders often will not give mortgages to purchasers once the complex reaches a certain % of non-owner residents. This is because they fear the owner-occupied units will lose value once there is too high a proportion of renters. Sometimes owner associations will correspondingly put restrictions into their documents, but sometimes they won't, so you may not know about the lenders' concerns. One problem immediately then is that if the current rental occupancy % is high, you may not be able to get a loan to buy a condo (and maybe you shouldn't want to buy one for the same reason). If the current % is low, you never know when that might change - hence the risk. A longer term risk is that if you later want to convert your unit into a rental, you may not be able to do so, either because of the owners' association restrictions or your mortgage restrictions.There are somewhat analogous problems for TH and SFH buyers in certain counties, e.g., in Arlington, if your SFH is zoned SFH, legally, you can't rent out your basement unless you follow the rules for the accessory dwellings. And lenders will charge you a higher rate as an investor rather than an owner-occupier when you buy the place. But the risk is much higher with condos, in part because it is not within your control what other property owners do and there are so many more of them nearby than with a SFH.
Here's a story that is somewhat related to my post:fannie-mae-moves-to-help-condo-sales
Adam,How can I determine it's fixed market value without an appraisal? I see a lot of homes in need of work, and while I can quantify approximate costs of repairs/updating, I'm at a loss how to value the house in its current condition to determine an appropriate offer amount.
Yesterday John Fontain said,Neither do I, but the fact that the banks were dumb and/or reckless is beside the point. I take issue with your contention that consumers shouldn't have to pay for their consumption if their consumption turned out to be imprudent. I do think they should have to "pay" for their consumption and the remedy is the massive hit their credit score takes after a foreclosure.Also, in some states, you have to pay the difference between the mortgage and what the short sale gets you. But because the foreclosed usually cannot do that the bank forgives that debt.*In the past* discharge of indebtedness was considered taxable income by the IRS but recently Congress temporarily lifted that rule for foreclosures. 26 U.S.C. 108(a)(1)(E) the indebtedness discharged is qualified principal residence indebtedness which is discharged before January 1, 2010.
Might be clearer if I give more of the statutory text:Gross income does not include any amount which (but for this subsection) would be includible in gross income by reason of the discharge (in whole or in part) of indebtedness of the taxpayer if—(E) the indebtedness discharged is qualified principal residence indebtedness which is discharged before January 1, 2010.
MJC, most properties are listed As Is..meaning the realtor and owner have already factored in a reduction for the state or condition of the house and equipment. Look at comps in the area or the mls and look at those homes. If they are listed higher subtract their values..for example one is listed at 100% and one at 120% and try to determine what they have done to justify the increase..newer kitchen or roof or HVAC..pools don't count, physical structures..adding sq. ft. does. cosmetics such as fixtures and flooring do not. However comma..these fix ups do help you re-sell quicker and higher, sometimes. Is the home to be your primary residence or an investment? Only you can answer these questions as far as value goes. Are you buying a home and if the condition of the home is not what you like, you will need to do a do over. Most home owners re-do anyway to their specfic tastes, paint, floors/carpet/window treatments. The ticket items are baths and kitchens, you can update to your hearts desire just don't expect to get more than 60% to 65% return.
Cara,These anecdotes many not matter to you, if you do not have plans to have any family additions during the time that you're in your next place, but it seems to me that it's never desireable to have a young family (that is, with children) living above another family...I've had a friend who was a renter, who had problems sleeping because of children running in the apartment overhead at strange hours (early morning). From the other perspective, I also have a brother who just moved to a SFH. He moved sooner rather than later, because his downstairs neighbor kept complaining about all the noise my innocent, toddler nephew made. Once my brother's downstairs neighbor even called the cops on them. When law enforcement knocked on my brother's door, my dad, who was visiting, joked, "Here's the little boy you want to put in jail." (The irony was that the neighbor's daughter hung out in her room during school hours smoking pot, but my sister-in-law never made any formal complaint about that.)While I see that the people in some of these th/condos have children, and while there are two storeys, which would reduce the frequency by which downstairs neighbors would experience noise from toddler traffic...it's something to consider.
Fred,South Arlington homes are not cheap but they are cheaper than North Arlington.I wonder what happened with South Arlington. Why it became so much lower income than North Arlington. On paper both parts of Arlington were positioned about the same. The commute to DC is about the same (maybe even better) in South Arlington as North Arlington.
Sarah/housebuyer,I have to agree with housebuyer. Those wanting an urban lifestyle are not choosing Burke. I also would add many people want an urban lifestyle for only a portion of their life. Look at Brent's comment yesterday. He is planning on moving from Ballston to Fairfax County. I suspect a good portion of his neighbors in his condo are making or going to make a similar move. Babies and dogs really make people rethink living in small space. Getting older also makes you rethink the need to live in an urban area.
MJC-- If nothing's been touched I'd probably subtract quite a bit more than my estimated costs-- on the theory that if the place has been neglected there might be a lot more serious things wrong with it. Of course you can also ask for things based on what the inspection finds.You never know what you may find when you start repairing.
TBW, a major factor is the absence of metrorail in 22204 and 22206.
MJC: I'd use cost, but I'd also factor in inconvenience. For example, using made-up numbers, let's a say a nice move-in version costs $600k. Let's say the house that needs work is listed at $600k, and you guesstimate that it would take $100k to fix the house. Just looking at it that way, it then a $500k offer would seem reasonable. After all, $500k + 100k = $600k. But, the $600k can be moved into now, whereas the $500k house could take several weeks or months to be ready, never mind the time you'd have to spend chasing down contractors, etc.There's also the neglect part. There was a house we looked at last fall, that quite frankly, was in shambles. The realtor asked how much I was willing to pay, and I told her that I wasn't sure that I was willing to pay any amount, as it was obvious that the owners hadn't taken care of the place, and I wasn't sure what I would find.
MJC, it's good to do the calculations that people here have suggested, but in the end, a lot depends on the interest of other bidders, some of whom may be able to/want to do some of the work themselves. You may determine that the house is worth X - 20% of X due to repairs needed, for example, but if there is a lot of interest, you'll probably have to pay more than that to get the house. On the other hand, if you are lucky and the house is really ugly but the changes can be made pretty simply and inexpensively, it may discourage some buyers who can't see past the ugly or don't want to spend even a little time painting a room, and you'll get it for a good price.
Ace,Metro cannot explain it. Most of 22207 is very far from Metro and those are some of the most expensive parts of Arlington. Most of 22205 is too far to walk to East Falls Church and Ballston and those sell for a premium as well.
PS, MJC, you probably know this already but the assessed value does not factor in home condition (in most localities) because it's too expensive for the assessor to do each home individually. So, unless it is brand new and recently sold (which the assessor may assess at sales price) the assessed value is at best an estimate of a house in average condition, not an estimate of a house needing no repairs/updates.
TBW, you need to think in terms of a regression model, where multiple factors can contribute to explaining the value of houses. The only difference between 22207 and most of the rest of Arlington is not simply metro access. In 22207, the houses are generally larger and on larger lots, with a better school system than in many other areas, including some other *North* Arlington neighborhoods. Most parts of 22207 are an easy car commute to many parts of the district, unlike many parts of 22205 for example. There is also less inconsistency in home maintenance in 22207 than in most other parts of Arlington. There are fewer rentals and fewer multifamily housing nearby, which many No. Arl. shoppers prefer to avoid. These factors MORE than offset the lack of metro access for 22207 for many buyers. But when you compare houses in 22204 and 22206 with those in similar houses in Arlington a key difference is the metro access.
TBW, the parts of 22205 and other zips you are talking about also have other offsetting advantages (e.g., better perceived schools than in south Arlington). And remember that a lot of people in 22205 do not commute to the District but may go west or have one spouse who goes in one direction and one in another.Note also that I said "a major factor", not "the only factor." I would be more than willing to bet you that if you put the numbers for all predictors into the equation that metrorail (not bus) access would explain a significant amount of variance.
Ace,Oh yes I agree it's a multi-factored thing. I totally get why North Arlington costs more than South Arlington currently. The question was why it developed that way.In googling around it does seem many point to what you are saying. On average, the homes (and lots) are larger north of Rt 29 than in the southern parts of Arlington. Also fewer apartments as you noted.I wonder when this planning was done and what the mindset was at the time. It's interesting how no matter how allegedly progressive localities are they still are sorta enforcing the restrictive zoning/covenants of yesterday. Why are Arlington's three base high schools zoned from north to south instead of west to east (west to east would make them be three racially mixed schools instead of one white, one mixed, and one non-white school generally speaking).Similarly, why is Great Falls so low density and why were the people living there (who are much, much closer to South Lakes than Fox Mill residents) not even considered in the high school rezoning? Same with why there is so little affordable housing west of Rock Creek Park in DC or west of I-270 in Montgomery County.The fact that localities are primarily funded using the property tax I believe often leads to quasi-racist decisions and a coddling of the rich. Clearly portions of Great Falls could have been rezoned to South Lakes but the county has a vested interest in keeping that area as rich suburban as possible because only then will property values be superhigh. Rezoning Fox Mill to South Lakes had a much smaller effect on property values than a rezoning of portions of Great Falls.
This particular property is being sold as-is, but I wouldn't say that the property takes into account the work that needs to be done. I understand there *should* be a discount attributable to properties being sold as-is since work needs to be done, but I look at as-is properties as protection for the seller rather than a tool for the buyer to discount the property.There are SFHs nearby that sold for about $30K more than the list price of this house, with no real work to be done, just painting etc. If that's the case, then I see a $100K+ discount as more appropriate than $30K. Or I could just find one of those homes for an extra $30K. There's definitely a disconnect between a discount for the condition of a house, and the price to be paid for a house that is already in decent condition. But, I know I'm just preaching to the choir.
Ace,I'm not sure I buy that the commute west is all that much better for North Arlingtonians than South Arlingtonians. And that divide predates the growth of Tysons and Reston. Ex ante, both areas easily could have been similar demographically. I think choices were made by the county -- probably larger lots north of Rt 29 and fewer to no apartments -- that led to one portion being mostly white and rich and another portion more diverse and poor.
MJC, I'm sorry I didn't make myslef clear, every home listed on the MLS is AS IS, buyers get inspections and negioate improvements. AS IS is an implied term that just wastes MLS space. It's used on foreclsoures and SS to let you know any inspections are for buyers information background. Yep, if you find a similiar size home and lot for only 30,000 more..jump on that or offer less on the fixer-upper.
Cara,Have you actually been to see a unit or toured many piggyback townhouses before? I don't like them not only because of either having neighbors above/below you, but also because the ones I've seen usually have the rear windows of the ground floor units opening out onto the back patio/yard of the top units. I want my future patio/yard to be private, and having someone else's windows being just below the door to my backyard is a deal-breaker for me.My $0.02
mjc said: "So, should I subtract the approximate cost of these repairs? Or maybe 80% of the cost of these repairs? What kind of formula do you all use?"I agree with Sarah's idea that I'd subtract more because other maintenance is probably also deferred. In addition, I'd subtract more just for the hassle/inconvenience factor. I'd add up all the needed repairs/upgrades and multiply by at least 1.5, maybe even 2.As far as how much is a house worth, figure out what it would rent for (in its current condition) for a year and multiply by 11. That will give you a good ballpark estimate.
housebuyer and tbw-- Yes, point taken. Burke is probably not going to benefit all that much from any 'back to the city' movement.TBW-- if we really do get a 'back to the city' movement we'll know it's really reached the tipping point when families begin to stay in the cities. Neither kids nor dogs nor 'feeling cramped' prevents Europeans from living in cities-- or at least nice, walkable towns. Of course they often have a little weekend cottage in the countryside as well. That's very much MY preferred lifestyle-- and I think once city life comes back enough many of the young ones will prefer to stay put. And, of course, if they have had a taste of that life when young a lot of us will want to keep our independence as long as possible by staying in a place where everything's accessible on foot or good public transportation.Speaking of which-- that brings up something I never see mentioned on American housing blogs-- the fact that ONLY metro is considered acceptable middle class public transportation here. With no trams and the buses so slow and erratic, it's not surprising that using a bus is so unpopular-- but it doesn't have to be so. In much of Europe the buses are clean and efficient and on busy routes run every 3-5 minutes during rush hour. Think what might happen to commute patterns-- and your housing options-- if that were to happen here!
Maps showing where people live in relation to jobThese maps are great. I remember a while back arguing with someone that if a lot of federal contractor jobs left Northern Virginia to be replaced with federal gov't jobs in DC that it would have a negative effect on western Fairfax County and the exurbs. Interestingly enough I understated it. Even central Fairfax County is low on residents who commute to DC.Northern Virginia (outside of Arlington and Alexandria) will prosper or fail based on the number of jobs in *Northern Virginia.* As I've been arguing for a while and as the maps clearly show, few people further out just do not commute all the way into DC.
Typo it should have read:As I've been arguing for a while and as the maps clearly show, most people further out just do not commute all the way into DC.
Sarah,We did have a discussion on this blog a while back about the attitude toward buses. I'm not sure how to find it but someone else might know how to bring up that day or two for you.I'd argue the largest problem is buses are essentially too expensive. If they were free they would be more popular. Maybe if they were down to a nickel or you could get a cheap monthly pass. At $1.25 each way they (to many people) cost about the same or more than riding your car and are more inconvenient.I've been to parts of this country where they have free trollies and they are very popular with all income levels. Ironically enough lowering the price of the bus increases the wealth of the ridership.
Along those lines, mass transit in the area would be more popular if they moved toward encouraging monthly passes. People who live in NYC often have these and so each ride feels *free* in a sense. There's no real marginal cost. Kinda like a car. Obviously driving a car costs money but paying for gas weekly, biweekly, or monthly (depending on your ridership patterns) is a lot different than paying $1.35-$3.10 each Metro ride. You have to think -- is this Metro ride really worth $x?
MJC--I think the comment stating that your personal formulas are fine and dandy, but you need to take into account what other buyers are offering in order to determine if it is worth pursuing.Let me give you a concrete example:In our old neighborhood, there was a house just like ours (same model) that we thought about buying when our landlord refused to sell to us. It was a foreclosure, and we had nicknamed it the "corn house," because the previous several families who had lived there plowed up their front yard and planted corn. Between the time the house emptied and the bank foreclosed last summer, several hot summer months had passed, and when the bank rep finally came by and opened the door, they found the house stripped, and the water line that once went to the fridge had been left on, so the entire basement was soggy and covered in black mold. The bank came in and ripped out the basement down to the studs. The basement had been chopped up into separate rooms, so they left those studs up, but emptied everything else. The bank was asking $220K.We brought a contractor by. He noted that the mold problem had not been corrected--only covered up. When the previous owners chopped up the basement, they covered several windows with walls, leaving the windows in place--a no no. They had added a flimsy porch that was actually part of a prefab house, which needed to go. The house had never been updated, and the bank just painted everything in flat white paint and threw down builder-grade carpet that wasn't even nailed down. The ugly kitchen had an odd-fitting stainless steel fridge to replace the one they took, but the other appliances were from the original house. The bathrooms were rotting, some missing toilets.The contractor made this offer: he would try to buy the house for cash for $190K from the bank, then contract to sell to us for $260K. We would get a new kitchen, new finished basement, new back porch, custom paint, new hardwood floors in place of the hideous tile/carpet, new bathrooms, new light fixtures, etc. etc. Through him, we would buy a serious fixer-upper turned into tricked-out family home.Well, when he called the realtor, she said there were already seven offers (it had been for sale for two days). It went under contract at two weeks. It sold for $250K.We were flabbergasted. Much nicer condition houses in the neighborhood were selling for less than that. The house needed at least $50,000 just to make it habitable and comfortable. Surely no investor was that dumb?Well, it was a family who bought it, and they're doing the work themselves, bit by bit. I still think they paid too much, esp. since a short sale around the corner with every tasteful update imaginable sold for $230K (after asking $199K).Bottom line: the additional "discount" calculation was meaningless, because there was some sort of weird spring fever infecting people at the time. Just figure out your own calculations, adding the wisdom you found here, and stick to it, no matter how much you're mocked. Then all will be well. All--Thank you again for the input RE: walking away. I'll let you know when/if they decide what to do...
TBW-I agree about the bus. The other problem is currently buses are slower and don't come frequently enough. Finally because of the current negatives people see buses as a transportation you only take if you have no other options(aka too poor to have a car). If they made the system nicer they would really need to rebrand it to get rid of the stigma of using the bus. It really is amazing seeing the difference in wealth between metro riders and bus riders.
Ace and TBW,Interesting discussion. Those maps are great. My first post was really getting at the 2nd tier N/S divide. Everyone knows that N. Arlington is more desirable, due to metro/jobs/schools, but what I'm finding more and more is that Columbia Pike seems to be a secondary cutoff. I live along the Pike, and I would consider buying between it and 50, but not south (Nauck, Douglas Park, Ft. Barnard Park, Columbia Forest, Arlington View). I just think that some areas, like Arlington Heights are really quite comparable to a Dominion Hills or Bon Air area, yet are "stigmatized" by the 22204 zip.
I walked to work in Courthouse until we moved to Vienna last month. Our options now are:1) Both metro to work on the orange line, me to Clarendon, my wife to Crystal City.2) Drive in together on 66 each morning, with one of us dropping the other off at work.#2 is our choice and it's not even really a contest. And I love riding the metro under different circumstances. Metro is simply a mess these days. It costs me $6.70 round trip to take the metro from Vienna to Clarendon, and my wife more, without parking. There's no way that can compete with driving 20 miles round trip and paying $8 for parking.
Tabitha,Thanks for your anecdote. Creating a formula helps me quantify the cost and value of the improvements needed. And I understand that I need to be realistic with the initial value of the house (from which I then subtract the amount it would cost to do the improvements). But, I am also assuming that other people will be rational buyers and do the same type of calculations as me, which is flawed because people do not act rationally and do not do their homework.
tbw - I don't think it has to be free, or even that cheap, but it definitely has to be integrated-- one ticket for the whole system-- and, as you say, have some kind of monthly pass system. That's another thing that affects ridership-- if it doesn't cost you anything to ADD a bus ride, you'll probably do it-- at least some of the time. Much different than having to pay more or worse yet, like here-- even pay a separate fee.
Jeff B,Having two people carpool to work is good for the environment and lowers congestion. One less car on the road in the morning and evening. One problem with the area is many companies have a workaholic atmosphere. I think many of us would love to carpool but work at places where we cannot say "sorry, have to leave at 5 for my carpool" without being deemed someone who is not a "team player."Building mass transit is good for the environment. But so is allowing telecommuting once every other week or once a week and/or having more definite work hours so people can carpool. Unfortunately many bosses here view telecommuting and definite work hours as ways for people to slack off so it's underutilized.
Fred,I just think that some areas, like Arlington Heights are really quite comparable to a Dominion Hills or Bon Air area, yet are "stigmatized" by the 22204 zip.I had to really scour google maps to see where you are talking about as I don't know all those neighborhoods. Those neighborhoods may feel similar but look at this:Arlington HS Boundary Map (pdf) With a few minor exceptions, all area south of Route 50 is sent to Wakefield HS. It's really a large drop off in quality between Washington-Lee HS and Wakefield HS so there's a natural price differential.Arlington Heights (if I'm reading the two maps correctly) is very close to the boundary change between W-L and Wakefield. Maybe you can buy in Arlington Heights and then declare a hunger strike outside of the county school board offices until the zone y'all into Washington-Lee. Although I wouldn't expect much success with that. ;)
MJC: keep in mind that just because someone else is willing to pay an irrational amount, it doesn't mean you have to. For example, if someone was willing to buy Tabitha's corn house for $260k (it needs $70k in work) and an equivalent house down the street is selling for $290k, then I'd skip the corn house and go straight to the $290k house.In my example of the $725k dump -- in the same neighborhood their was a larger and much nicer house that was in good shape and backed up to parkland that was on the market for the same price. By every conceivable measure, the two houses were in different leagues. Yet some fool was willing to pay the same amount of money for the dump house.
NovaWatcher,I totally agree with you - I'm just saying that even after doing all of my research to find out the approximate fair market value of comparable homes, and the approximate cost of improvements, I still can't determine what the house will sell for since I can't factor in all variables such as irrational buyers (and irrational sellers too). If crazy irrational buyer is willing to pay more and do more work, then he deserves the property at the price he's willing to pay. Hopefully, I'll be buying the property down the street for less money on a more desirable piece of land because I did my homework and the seller accepted my offer before another crazy irrational buyer submits his. Of course, I become crazy irrational buyer when everyone submits higher offers than I do. Except when I find 1 seller willing to accept my crazy irrational underbid - then I become Smart Buyer.
tbw,If I crane my neck enough on that map... ;) Yes, the W-L to Wakefield boundary must account for most of the difference. On a completely different note, anyone notice that the 10-yr is now below 3.3%?! Quite a drop on yield today.
MJCA good shorthand is to look at comps (a lot of DC area homes are in neighborhoods built similarly so comps are usually available), if nothing similar has sold in the area, you can look at bigger and smaller places and extrapolate out a line. If there haven't been any sales, you have to expand a bit to other similar neighborhoods and home styles. At that point it's mostly your (and the appraiser's) SWAG.
Fred,I noticed - the drop in yields. I wonder if all those bloggers that went hysterical back at the end of May, at the spike in interest rates, will be back to eat their humble pie. Somehow I doubt it.Cara, your future mortgage interest payment is 5% less today vs. yesterday!!!
Fred-Treasuries have really rallied pretty hard recently. I think the housing gods heard that I decided I didn't want to buy now so they decided to tease me bringing down mortgage rates :) Well hopefully some people are able to take advantage of the great rates.
Robert-Although the drop in rates may be good for the economy they are no mean falling because the economy is doing well. People are starting to hunker down and get out of risky assets again, this just shows how scared people are that any signs of life in the economy are just fake outs.
housebuyer, since you're in the position to purchase, I'm sure you've read all the press clippings about how mortgage rates of 5% were gone forever. Looks like they'll be here this week. Will we see 4.75% again?
Robert- It all depends on how companies earnings look. If the earnings look good the stock market will go up and bring yields with them. If they are bad then we will almost surely see 4.75 rates
housebuyer,More important to the DC area housing recovery is the rate for jumbo conforming loans and jumbo loans. Did we discuss the following? The conforming cutoff went *down* from $729,750 to $625,500 late last year. Interesting.I find it a little bizarre that the regular conventional cutoff has been kept at $417,000 since 2006. The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 prevents the conforming loan limit from declining from one year to the next and as home prices have dropped markedly throughout the country, the no change announcement had been widely anticipated. I can't think of any good policy reason for that.
So I just looked at the C-S tiered index in detail for the first time.I am a little confused why do people expect the upper tier to do the worst going forward. The lack of move up buyers is a valid reason; however, I normally hear they will fall because they haven't fallen nearly as much yet.Although this is true the are down 24% since peak vs, 37% for the middle tier, and 45% for the bottom tier. They also never got anywhere near as bubbly at the peak. The total performance of all three tiers is now within a couple of percent over the past decade.
TBW-Why do you think the Jumbo's are the most important think for the DC area.CS says the cutoff for the top tier of housing is 401K. So ~70% of houses are below the 417K cutoff. I would also expect that mortgages for many of the most expensive houses are below 417K because people bring money to the table.Am I missing something or are Jumbo's only relevant for ~20% of buyers?
housebuyer,Those numbers are clearly wrong. The vast majority of SFH in Fairfax County are still above $400k. While the county is getting more and more TH and condos, I think the vast majority of hosuing stock is still SFH. It's hard to (impossible probably) to find a TH (let alone a SFH) less than $400k in Arlington and I imagine similarly in Alexandria. Good luck finding a sub-$400k SFH in eastern Loudoun or many parts of PWC.I suspect the number you are looking at is regionwide and may be skewing down what is considered high end because it includes PG County and maybe even Charles County and St. Anne's County. And some sketchy parts of DC.
I guess I should say I think jumbo rates are very important for Northern Virginia, Montgomery County, and nice portions of DC. I don't know when that became top tier living. Top tier living used to mean Chevy Chase, Potomac, McLean, and Great Falls.
housebuyer,Maybe I'm guilty of thinking my upbringing was more modest than it was but frankly I cannot imagine my family was top tier because we had a SFH in Fairfax County. I will not bore you with the details but I would say we had pretty middle class to lower middle class shopping habits. I even wore hand me downs. If my family was top tier I cannot understand how Tysons Galleria, Whole Foods, et al stay in business in this area.
TBW-Yeah I never thought I was upper class either... If you look at houses for sale there are actually a ton of SFH selling below 400K. Using redfin I looked at the Falls Church/Annandale area. This area is inside the beltway and probably a little more expensive than Nova average.In this area there were 131 SHF < 400K, 299 > 400K. 111 condos <400K, 11 > 400K86 TH < 400K, 70>400K.So there are very similar numbers of places for sale above and below 400K. Places under 400K are also going off the market quicker, so there might actually be more places below 400K than above. I do agree that at least in Nova it may be 50/50 but it is very unlikely that only 1/3 places is above 400k.
TBW- Another thing to remember is there is a life cycle effect. Although you felt middle class that was because your friends parents were also at the stage of having their second or third home. Obviously people tend to move up in homes. So a middle class family may live in a low class home when they are in their 20s a middle class home when they are in their 30s and an upper class home when they are in their 40s.
I am seeing mini-bubble behaviour again.People chasing opportunities and getting a little nutty.Now, personally I wouldn't want to get close to a lot of this, but, I believe there is still a massive shadow inventory out there.
Tabitha, Whatever your friends decide they need to make an informed decision using someone that does this for a living, like from the web site I posted here. I don't believe they would be eligible for a SS because they have a second and they would have to document a hardship. Anyway, a SS might leave them worse off if they don't have someone very experienced looking after their finanacial interest such as tax liabilities..Bush law only forgives loans from 2006, I think you said they bought in 2004 then the letter from the Lender has to state in writting that the short sale releases them from being responsible for any short fall. If it doesn't they could find themselves still on the hook for a substanial amount of money. I hear lenders/sellers work out payment schedules where the seller pays a certain amount interest free for a specfic period of time. All of this has to be worked out so a SS needs someone that knows what they are doing. I'm sure within 5 years the reality TV shows will start, my SS nightmare or SS I owe WHAT? Or Foreclosure Hell. It might be better for them to start saving the money for when they can't buy anything on credit. Foreclosure wipes the slate clean..and..I have found SS can effect Va. loans nad programs, too. Just the tip of the iceburg of information a professional would be aware of but I'm not. It's 2 years before you can buy after a SS and 5 for a foreclosure with an FHA. But who would still be paying on a SS after 2 years..see..that agreement with the lender is important.
pat -It's just the opposite. Current inventory - which is historically low - is actually 20-30% lower than what is reported.For example, here are some updates to the remarks section of two houses in South Riding:These houses are listed as ACTIVE:#1 SHORT SALE PROCCES HAS BEEN START,BACK UP CONTRACTS MORE THAN WELCOME#2OFFER SUBMITTED,TAKING BACK UP CONTRACTS NOWNow, these are from realtors that have taken the time to update the remarks. Most don't.Link
pat -One more point. Everyone understands that prices are rising. Rising prices will snuff out foreclosures and short sales going forward.You have to look at it on the margin. Every 1% increase in home prices takes several more families off the short sale list.So, it's funny. The higher prices go the even higher prices will go. We get into a virtuous circle.
Pat-- LOL-- I wouldn't have agree with you until Robert chimed in with one of the classic 2005 bubble lines.
Robert, not everyone agrees that prices are rising. The Case-Schiller index for the Washington region has been down YoY how many months in a row now? You need to stop giving your opinion as if it were expert advice. Not everyone reads the blog every day and can spot a troll and a bubblehead when they see one.
Jeremy,Is the stock market up? YOY prices are down.
Sarah,Don't take it out on me. I'm not out there driving up prices.
Don't feed the troll
I guess I'm feeding the troll, but, I drive around Virginia Square and Clarendon and Ballston and I see lots of empty condos that have been empty for a long time. It makes no sense for me that these aren't going up for foreclosure, except the banks are holding them as shadow inventory.Cheap condo sales will push down TH's and SFH's.Which is cool because I want to buy a TH or a duplex
Lurking for a while and have a little historic perspective on North/South Arlington divide. I grew up in Nauck and know a lot about the area's history. Until the late 19th C most of Arlington was farmland. Trolley cars from DC and Alexandria brought people out to get fresh air in summer. These trolley track lines ran mostly into areas bordering Rt 50 on south side and areas like Maywood, Lyon Park. In early 20th C areas like Lyon Village developed along trolley commuter lines to DC. The area where the Pentagon currently lies was a Freedmen's Village started by one of the first emancipated slaves just before the Civil War. When the government wanted the land for the Pentagon, they pushed out the African Americans into other traditionally black areas in Nauck and Green Valley. There is still a housing co-op in Southgate, near Nauck, which was built for African American military officers after WWII who could not live in segregated areas of Arlington. On the northen side of Columbia Pike, Alcova Heights was an old farming neighborhood and Arlington Heights and Barcroft were built mostly pre and post-World War II for people stationed at the Pentagon. Similarly, a lot of the red brick apartments along Columbia Pike were built in the 1940s and 1950s for lower paid Pentagon clerical workers and non-coms. Other neighborhoods developed in N. Arlington were segregated by race and were developed as more attractive single family areas. Most of 22207 (except for Country Club Hills) was built after WWII and reflected the new found affluence of the GIs who went to school on the GI Bill and had higher paying government jobs. Because there was such a demand for new schools in N. Arlington to serve the baby boom, all the funding was directed to those new schools to the detriment of S. Arlington schools. As the S. Arlington schools worsened, people who could afford to do so moved to N. Arlington for the schools. If there is any underclass left in Arlington it is in the Nauck, Green Valley, Southgate and Douglas Park neighborhoods and the Hall's Hill neighborhood (also an old Freedmen's Village) in N. Arlington. If anyone wants to see Arlington's version of apartheid, all you have to do is look behind the houses on 17th St. in trendy Waycroft Village which borders Halls Hill. Most of the houses still have the concrete block walls which were built in the 1930s to separate white Waycroft Village from black Halls Hill. Its only been about 20 years since Arlington Co. finally removed the blockade dividing Culpeper St. in Halls Hill from Abingdon St. in Waycroft. The North/South divide resulted from Arlington's segregated past. It is lessening every day, but the remnants are still there. After all it has only been about 40 years since Arlington's schools were desegregated. When I went to Wakefield High School in the 1970s, it was so far behind the N. Arlington schools that I never saw a proper chemistry lab until I got to use the Washington-Lee lab to complete my science project. I followed Charles Drew out of Nauck to become a medical doctor and still have my parent's place in Nauck.
housebuyer,My family never moved up homes. We could have but we never did. I have high school and college friends whose parents stuck with the same home as well. I do have plenty of friends whose parents moved up homes but it's certainly not a universal truth. As for your Falls Church/Annandale search, that's actually one of the cheaper markets in Fairfax County (assuming you meant unincorporated Falls Church). Despite being inside the Beltway, it's I believe on average less expensive than the areas west of it (Vienna, Oakton, Burke, etc) for a variety of reasons.
housebuyer,Oh wait. Sorry I think you are agreeing with me that those tiers might be skewed and that above $400k is not the top 1/3rd? Hopefully I'm not misreading again.I will just say that based on Cara's descriptions of her husband and herself, they are doing much better (inflation adjusted) than people I know who bought modest SFH in Burke in the 70s or 80s. So what I'm getting at is pre-bubble these were not considered super-fancy homes and yet now someone like Cara + husband are priced out of the Burke SFH market (although maybe it's because she wants walking distance to VRE).
reecon,THANKS! That's exactly the sort of history I've been looking for regarding north and south Arlington.I'd say despite the alleged progressivity of Arlington they sorta still enforce some of that racist legacy. I once asked Supervisor Tejada on a wapo.com chat why they zone the schools as they do and don't try to have more socioeconomic mixture in all three high schools. I forget his exact answer but he did not deny that was going on and said it was up to the school board to decide that zoning and I should raise it with them.
reecon-- Thanks for that very interesting history. My family moved to Charlottesville in the late 50's. My parents were both Berkeley grads. To this day my mother has such bitter, bitter memories of being a liberal white Northerner in the segregated South that she gets depressed at the mere thought of moving to Arlington or Alexandria-- no matter how much I tell her they've changed. She was the happiest woman alive when we moved to Ann Arbor-- and she was able to go back to grad school and get her PhD-- something that quite literally wouldn't have been allowed back then in the South.
Reecon, that's really interesting. I knew the part about Halls Hill but not the rest. We lived in that neighborhood (near Heidelberg) for a few years and liked it. The location is really convenient and it is in a very good school pyramid.TBW, if you are looking for a bargain in Arlington, you might want to drive around Cameron/Culpepper St/17th and 18th St and check it out. There are some nice houses andsome home-made looking houses. When we were living in that area, it seemed like the "discount" for being in that neighborhood was around 100k (vs a similar house in a more sought-after neighborhood).Just don't buy one of those "new" brick townhouses next to the bakery. E.g.:http://franklymls.com/AR7062269
reecon, great post. thanks for that info.
Sarah,She was the happiest woman alive when we moved to Ann Arbor-- and she was able to go back to grad school and get her PhD-- something that quite literally wouldn't have been allowed back then in the South.Yes and no. You imply coeducation was the norm outside the South. True UVa's college was not fully coeducational until 1970 (some of the professional schools, nursing schools, and education school had been admitting women well before that) but neither was Harvard, Columbia, etc. Just as Harvard had Radcliffe and Columbia had Barnard, UVa had Mary Washington. William and Mary has been admitting women since the WW1 era: WM Celebrates 90 Years of CoeducationHere is a list people may find shocking (year in which institution became coeducational):# Yale University: 1969# Colgate University: 1970# Lafayette University: 1970# Brown University: 1971# Lehigh University: 1971# Dartmouth University: 1972# Harvard University: 1972# Holy Cross University: 1972# U.S. Naval Academy: 1976# U.S. Military Academy: 1976# Columbia University: 1983
TBW- Yeah I was agreeing that 400K is not the top 1/3. I think it is probably pretty close to 50% but could be off a little either way. As to people like Cara being priced out. I might be wrong, but I don't think she is priced out as much as by her own admission she doesn't like debt so she is buying something that she can afford on 1 of their two salaries. As too the current bubble I agree that things were much more affordable in 99-00, but to some extent you are cherry picking the bottom of the cycle there. You could just as easily say that things are now as affordable as they were in the early 90s.So we are still slightly above the historic average, and we will probably go below the historic average(bubbles tend to over correct), but only slightly more people are priced out than they used to be.
James Madison University started out as a woman's college and admitted men in 1946.http://spec.lib.vt.edu/arc/125th/women/coed.htmVA Tech admitted women starting in 1920s.George Mason was founded in 1972 so I assume has been coeducational from then.Sarah -- Google books led me to a book called "Going Coed" and on page 182 it says coeducation at state schools happened inArkansas 1872Mississippi 1882Texas 1883Alabama 1893Tennessee 1893Louisiana 1905Florida 1905 (but not complete until 1947)Georgia 1918Carolinas and Virginia last (says UNC Chapel Hill coed in 1945)
housebuyer,You could just as easily say that things are now as affordable as they were in the early 90s.Why do you say that? What other than Manassas and Woodbridge is as affordable as the early 90s?
Thanks guys,housebuyer, tbw, yes and no, I am 'priced out" largely because I want walking distance to the VRE, there's plenty of SFH's 3 miles or further that we could afford. But, on the other hand in the 70s or 80s or even late 90s a one income family could easily have bought a nice SFH within walking distance to the VRE if they have saved up for half as long as we have.I know the risks of a condo, no the neighbors windows do not look onto our back-yard space, but yes, they may complain about our noise, the reason this place is interesting is because we could pay $75k more, and while that would get us a basement and an HOA w/o a condo association, it would not get us any visitor spaces or the open and un-cramped feel of this complex or the backs-to-woods surburbanness. Or the convenience to the metro. Other than a SFH where you have your own long drive-way, (which most don't in Burke), I'm not seeing this much outdoor space and parking within $75k of this price. Now, that could change.But my real question was, these are already under rental parity, and I'm seeing a heck of a lot of potential distress in the 2005-2008 sales here, and in the new listings this week in the co-op market in Burke (yes, there are co-ops in Burke, so there is something even more risky than what we're thinking about). My question was, is it just wishful thinking to feel that investors will provide a floor under-which our house price can't fall any further once the places are cash-flow positive? These are places that have historically been priced for one income or two very low incomes, which is just fine by me, and the inflation adjusted trend would put the upstairs units at $190kish now. Am I being a fool for even considering this when based on sales in the peak, it's so clear that more distess is on the way, and in only a year or two we might get something way way better for the same or only marginally more money. And Ace was right, based on what I'm seeing hit the market in the past two weeks? Late summer is a fabulous time to look for a new house.
TBW-The reason I am saying housing is as affordable as it was in the early 1990s is family wage growth is up about 80% from 1990-2008. Even inflation during this period is ~65% over this time period. The CS index says housing is us ~80% in the same time period. So housing prices since 1990 have gone up the same as family wage growth and only slightly more than inflation. I am pretty the average house also has nicer stuff than it used to. Stainless steel, granite... so if you are willing to get a house without these things prices have risen less than wage growth.I am pretty young so I don't really know much about the early 1990s house market, are my numbers correct or am I missing something?
One other comment is that mortgage rates are also lower now than they were in the 90s so if all you care about is being able to make payments on your house than this also makes places slightly more affordable than back then.
housebuyer, tbwhistorical comparisons are nice from an academic perspective of who climbed a hill both ways to school through the snow. But, secular changed do occur especially on a local level, and prices or affordability having reached past levels will not stop falling prices in and of itself. It has no causal relation, just an empirical one. Causal conditions for forming a bottom are the trade off between owning and renting, or investing in other things versus investing in a cash-flow positive rental. Where a bottom is found in the starter rung of the market, that sets the equity available for the entire rest of the market, that and their increasing incomes through their careers and mortgage market conditions set what move-up buyers can bid on the other rungs of the ladder. Supply and demand enters in more than one way, one in effecting the speed at which price discovery occurs, and two with a delay, effecting the rental market weakness or strength. The psychological factors effecting buyers are primarily the perseption of the direction of the market, not the relation to what their parents bought 20-30 years ago. It's in the zeitgeist now that this generation will not lead the lifestyle its parents did, so expectations for wonderful affordaibility on one salary (seriously, who's mom didn't work anyway?) are low. But the risk of losing your shirt? Now that's a real percieved risk. And the rewards for waiting? A lot of buyers over-estimate that too. At the real bottom, it's the math wonks that will save the market. The cash-flow investors who can recognize that certain purchases are no-brainers. And the fearless owner-occupants who know the landlords exist, and can confidently buy, knowing that even if the place loses value, it being this much cheaper than renting still makes it worth it. The buyers who have been buying this year (investors aside) is not mainly this group. The current group are people who've been wanting to buy for a long time and who think that they're chosen neighborhood can't go below rental-parity for owner-occupants. Let me tell you from the ground though, once a development does breach that barrier, by a noticeable amount, a new wave of fear develops and only the wonks can save it from crashing down to cash-flow investor levels.
housebuyer: mortgage rates today for jumbo-conforming are roughly where they were when I bought in 2002 and only 1 point lower than they were when I bought in 1998.Also, I don't consider cheap stainless-steel Kenmore appliances as being 'nicer stuff' than the plain-white ones in the late 90s. Different color, but that's it.
Nova-I was talking about interest rates now vs. the early 1990s. I agree that rates are similar to rates in 2002, but they are several points lower than they were in the early 90s, which at the time was the lowest they had ever been. I don't think it matters if you like stainless steel or not. The common perception is they are "nicer" and people are willing to pay more for them. So if you don't want them you can get a place for cheaper than the current index indicates.I guess I am trying to say that if you actually want to buy a SFH that looks exactly as most did in 1990s they have not gone up 80% like the CS says instead they have gone up slightly less and are that much closer to inflation.Cara-I couldn't agree more that looking at the long term trendline does not say where housing will bottom, because even if it ends at the trendline it could easily go well past it on either side for far longer than any of us plan on having our house.
TBW-- I wasn't even thinking about the coed aspect, although it's true UVA was still all male when we were there. No, it was their age, the fact that they had children and the general attitudes towards middle class women working or studying after marriage-- particularly in the South but elsewhere too-- that kept women of my mother's generation in the home-- regardless of how old their children were or how they themselves felt about it. Universities were likely to simply reject your application if you tried. You would be asked questions like, "Who will take care of your children?" And, of course, there were lots of husbands who thought their wives working or going to school was an affront to their manhood. Lots of divorces happened as a result. I'll always be grateful to my mother for gathering her courage in both hands and being such a terrific role model-- and to my father for encouraging her every step of the way!
Cara, I don't think so. (re: investors saving the market). They'll help, sure. Really I think you and others like you will save the market. If you decide that you would rather buy than rent, that is one more sale. There are just way more people out there looking for a place to live, rather than a place to rent out. What implications does this have? Well, perhaps the bottom is a little higher for owner occupants than for investors. You might want to buy at equivalent rent or even slightly higher, while an investor might require a higher return. The fact that someone like you is, after serious research and consideration, attracted to some of the valuations out there means that there are plenty of others making the same decisions for themselves.
My university was coed since it's founding in the 1860's. It is true that career choices were limited (teaching and nursing). My mother combined the two and became a school nurse, thus being home when the kids were.When I graduated in 1980, any and all fields of study/grad school were available. It never crossed my mind that I would not work and I think my husband would have been mortified at the idea.p.s. my mother has always claimed that she would have been a better Lawyer than my dad. Many nurses married doctors; 4 in my lineage. My mother worked to put my dad through Law School - I went at night.
Fantastic history lesson, Reecon. Thanks!
Robert said...Is the stock market up? YOY prices are down.The stock market is a completely different entity than housing. Comparing the two adds nothing. It just shows your narrow-minded approach to make everything you hear somehow support what you wish were true.Housing always performs better in the Spring than Winter months, and that is why you compare YOY prices. Since you are apparently ignoring seasonality, you are really in for a shock this Winter since you think prices are going up, up, up.
Jeremy,Other than the usual fall-off in inventory and sales over the Holidays, all you have is a crap-shoot. How much lower than rental parity do you expect? And, please remember, in the upper tiers (as far as I know), there has NEVER been rental parity.
Jeremy-YoY are not as telling at MoM. You are correct that their is seasonality, but it is on the order of ~2%. On the other hand there have been 10+% changes YoY nearly every year this decade. If you plan on buying in 3 months you are much better to look at the current prices rather than the prices 9 months ago, which will give you YoY comps when you buy.
The stock market is a completely different entity than housing. Comparing the two adds nothing. It just shows your narrow-minded approach to make everything you hear somehow support what you wish were true.Housing always performs better in the Spring than Winter months, and that is why you compare YOY prices. Since you are apparently ignoring seasonality, you are really in for a shock this Winter since you think prices are going up, up, upPrices are rising. Eat it.
If you plan on buying in 3 months you are much better to look at the current prices rather than the prices 9 months ago, which will give you YoY comps when you buy.Housebuyer,Of course I'd look at current prices when I buy. Why would anyone think they would use last year's price to buy/sell a home? (unless you're one of Robert's "stubborn sellers") If you are looking at the health of the market though you look at the YOY gain/decline for every month up to the current month. It's not the actual number of say 12% less than last year. You look at this month's YOY compared to last month's and the month before that. That shows whether the market is rising/falling at a rate faster than it was rising/falling the previous year. That tells you a lot about whether you are in a recovery or not.Robert, you don't even deserve a reply. No one listens to you and anyone who listened to someone like you the last 4 years wishes they hadn't.
Actually CRT's lead off post in today's (7/9/09) thread does exactly what I just described.
Jeremy-gotcha that makes a lot more sense. I misunderstood what you were saying before. Opps
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