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.
Since so many here are interested in the quality of schools for different neighborhoods, and since there has been a good deal of discussion lately on raising children in a townhome, I point out a recent thread in DailyKos on Slumburbia. The original was an article in the NYT, but blogger Teacherken does a riff on the implications for NoVA and PGC. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/2/11/836049/-Nobody-is-home-in-the-cities-of-the-futureTo summarize, he notes the prevalence of townhouse communities in certain areas and the resulant severe lowering in quality of the school system in that area. He uses PCG as an example, where the county used to spend about 7,000 per child in the school system but recovered less than 1,500 in property tax.I think that a certain prejudice against large townhouse communities is natural in those that prefer the lesser density of a SFH community. This is just another factor. (Speaking as one who currently rents a townhouse.)
The Virginia exurbs (Leesburg, Bristow) have nice schools. The epitome of 'evil' sprawl (Dominion Valley by Toll Brothers, Brookside by Ryan) has walkable schools. Warrenton confined development to the town and left most of Fauquier green.A lot of exurbanite/semi-rural Moms choose private school and home schooling. They would jump for joy if they were given $7,000 back per child. They send their children to college having spent peanuts per child compared to the public schools. Someday, I expect the Progressives at Kos will catch on to the fact that data streams into our homes and that stinky school buses are so 20th century.
Like some of you posters, I've been looking in Vienna/Oakton. Any thoughts on either of these homes?http://franklymls.com/FX7244123http://franklymls.com/FX7250269Thanks for your feedback.
Emma- I think they both look nice. I am looking at houses in in a cheaper price range so I don't know exactly what you should be able to get for ~800K, but the first house looks like a much better value. It looks like a nicer house, more square feet, a location I would prefer and it is 50K cheaper. I would think to account for all of the other things the second house should be ~100K cheaper than the first not 50K more. This is just my opinion though, does anyone else agree/disagree?
Also for the first house I would have thought that it would be cheaper now than when the person bought the house in July 2008. So if they bought it for 770 then I would think it might be in the low 700s now, meaning the other house should be in the low 600s.
Emma - Re the two Vienna/Oakton houses, here are my impressions:The first house seems more reasonably priced. The main disadvantages seem to be that (1) there's only one way out of the neighborhood, and you end up on a busy stretch of Route 123 between Vienna and Oakton and (2) it's an odd school pyramid that feeds into Jackson MS (which is primarily a feeder school to Falls Church HS, not Oakton) and then back into Oakton HS. That is an investment consideration even if you don't care personally about the schools, because others do. The main disadvantages of the second house seem to be the somewhat dowdy exterior and the higher price than currently seems justified for the Clarks Crossing neighborhood (although there are much more expensive, newer homes close by). The advantages compared to the first house are (1) more ways out of the neighborhood (either to the Toll Road/Route 7 or to Route 123 in Vienna), (2) proximity to the W&OD trail and (3) a better school pyramid (Oakton HS is considered slightly better than Marshall HS, but the difference between Oakton and Marshall HS is not as significant as the difference between Jackson and Kilmer MS). Hope this helps.
Housebuyer - I think the sellers of the second house Emma mentioned are going to need to bring down their asking price, but if you look at recent comparables for that neighborhood in Vienna it's quite unlikely the sellers will only get in the low $600s. To suggest this is basically an exercise in wishful thinking.
Emma, housebuyer,It's really hard to evaluate houses out of ones own price range. But the tax assessment agrees with housebuyer that the first house should be worth a lot more than the second.The second house seems to have owners who are very impressed with their own taste. Why so many pictures of the windowless dungeon? It's a finished basement, big whoop-de-do. Wouldn't 1 or 2 well chosen pictures have been enough? I think they're counting on "better" marketing netting them a higher price. Whereas most of the pictures revealed nothing special or of interest. A smaller selection of the best photos would have been better at drawing people in. Definitely keep the floorplan though. Kudos on that.But, yeah, both look like nice houses, but these are two far out of my price range for me to judge their value.
" Jeremy said... Oh, I forgot. You're pregnant and don't have a home. Did you plan it that way? I think most people given the choice would prefer to have bought a house before having children. I think that the people who plan years in advance to save a down payment are the responsible type that won't accidentally get pregnant just because it snowed and they're bored. My guess is that the vast majority of any post-snowstorm baby boom will come from existing families and irresponsible people. Do you disagree?"First of all, I am not pregnant. Second of all, I agree that one should be married, buy a home, and then have children. As far as "preventative measures" the only one that is proven to work 100% of the time is abstinence. So even though people think they are taking "measures" to prevent pregnancy they could still get pregnant. MANY women get pregnant on the pill. What a pity, considering the russian roullete they are playing with their own health, let alone to conceive a baby because they felt "in the mood". That's all I will write about that topic.
Mozart- This house is the closest comp I could find from this year on the same street. It sold for 650K is 5% bigger and is brick, so I would think that my low 600s comment seems reasonable. I don't mean 600 flat but 620-630 is reasonablehttp://franklymls.com/FX7011294
Emma,The first one's already under contract... Are you thinking it may become a short because its list price is so close to the 2008 close price??? Or just trying to use it to judge the second house?School districts can definitely be a $50k swing. Even one's with extremely minor distinctions like Robinson versus Lake Braddock. So Mozart may have identified part of it. Definitely click on the "solds" for that neighborhood button on Frankly to evaluate for yourself the recent comps like Mozart has.http://franklymls.com/FX7020524Is the recent high-water mark in 2009. At $750k. With its much more attractive screened in porch, original woodwork, better kitchen layout (dude, a granite counter is all it needs, big deal), and superior curb-appeal, this one seems to set a pretty firm upper limit on what they should be expecting to get. The difference is the finished versus unfinished basement. I say, there's no way in heck that's worth $100k, at most I'd give it $30k, and then you need to deduct for all the ways the current listing is inferior, so I stand by my $750k upper limit.Well, maybe $10-20k over that for the finished basement. Still, that's judging from the high-water mark, which is always a questionable thing to do, and the one which will give you the highest possible price. $770k is a far cry from $850k. I think they'll need to lower that.
When looking at homes that are obvious flips (bought in 11/09 for $100k less), and all it seems they did was paint, put in carpet and granite counters how do you judge that on price point? Is that really worth $100k?
Just noticed the first house is under contract so maybe the comparisons don't matter so much now?Housebuyer - I think the mid to upper $600s is about right for that house, but who knows. Seems like they be trying to capitalize too much on the recent Washington Post article that highlighted the neighborhood's proximity to the W&OD bike path/trail.Cara's point about too many pictures on the web site was lost on me. I don't disagree with her aesthetic critique, but finished basements are important to buyers and most prospective purchasers want to see as many pictures of an interior as possible.
Cara-The house that got 750K was 2623 sq.ft. vs. 2160 sq.ft. If you adjust for the size difference the original house should be in the low to mid 600s. Either way 800+K doesn't seem to make any sense, I can't imagine an appraisal coming anywhere near this.
Mozart,I believe in their being enough pictures to entice a buyer, without any that turn them off. One picture of a lame carpeted bedroom is fine, two is okay, doing all of them is overkill. Because in person those rooms may actually look cozy or spacious, and in person you'll have an accurate feel for their size. But with some viewers looking at huge frankly photos and others at tiny Redfin photos there's no telling what impression you're giving off. It's the Beatles thing. Keep them wanting more. Make them come look inside and see for themselves. (this is aside from features like renovated baths, or particularly stunning windows, or necessities like a kitchen photo). The important thing is to get people through the door. Very few people are going to buy the house from overseas looking only at the photos.
Cara - Are there any two high schools in the county as similar as Robinson and Lake Braddock? Both are large secondary schools. The Robinson district probably has more ritzy neighborhoods than Lake Braddock (in Fairfax Station vs. Burke), but the test scores at Lake Braddock have long been a bit higher than at Robinson. It seems to me that anyone who worried about the differences between those schools would be grasping at straws and in need of some counseling!
Cara - I see your point re the pictures, but most likely the sellers turned this over to their realtor to handle, and did not personally insist on oodles of pictures to showcase their inspired (sic) carpet selections and wall art.
Mozart,I don't know, all I know is similar houses in similar neighborhoods sell for $15-$30k more.The only difference I can see is the high school. Maybe they think their kids will have more rich friends to hob-knob with?I chose not to pay this premium. Maybe there were more differences and they were just too subtle for me to catch.
Anyone care to guess what happened here? Bought in 2000 foir $240k, now listed as a short sale for $425k. I wonder if they refied at the peak of the market and stuffed a half million dollars under their mattress.http://franklymls.com/FX7255395
FFX cnty January rundownOkay so we've been discussing SFHs for a while here. What do you all make of the following? The average SFH sold price is $600k, median $519k and yet the distribution of new listings peaks over the 400-500-600 range, 200-300 42300-400 111400-500 128500-600 128600-700 82700-800 53800-900 38900-999 221mil+ 107likewise the bulk of the actives are skewed lower than the median sold:200-300 185300-400 319400-500 314500-599 289600-699 216700-799 145800-899 116900-999 941mil+ 504To me the actives shows a bifurcated distribution with a secondary peak in the 1mil+ market. Measuring a double-peaked distribution with only a single median/average may be part of our problem. Solds are solid 58,59,56 all the way from 300-600k. This to me says that by concentrating on the median, we're getting the wrong picture of the typical first-time SFH buying experience in FFX County. I'd guess by this that the median of the bulk of the distribution (not including the large tail of expensive upper end homes) would be somewhere in the $470k range.Admittedly this is indeed still well out of reach for tbw's hypothetical 70k earner, but there are clearly houses available to those people if they chose to buy in FFX Cnty on their current income with their current savings.solds200-300 32300-400 58400-500 59500-600 56600-700 38700-800 30800-900 9900-1mil 81mil+ 30
kevinMost of the shorts I saw last year were HELOC cases.Given the "Recently renovated top to bottom" and the sale price, on can only assume they got in over their heads with the refi.
sehrwunderbarIf you're interested in buying it, then you hold your nose and pay no attention to how cheaply the flipper got it. Instead you compare it to the comparable real sales. And make sure you get a really thorough inspection, and pray that they haven't just whitewashed over a considerable problem.You make money as a flipper by buying cheaply. The finishes are never "worth" the mark-up.(woops forgot to post this).
Kevin-There are a lot of people in that case. My guess is that per the listing it was "Recently renovated from top to bottom" They could have easily spent 100-200K doing this. During the bubble projects were very expensive, because there was a not enough skilled workers. They also probably used the money to buy cars, pay for kids school... I think we have talked about it before and came to the conclusion that there are more short sales around here from people that refinanced at the peak than bought at the peak. Yay for partying and blowing all of the banks money and then giving them the house back.
Don't you still owe the difference in a short sale though?
"First of all, I am not pregnant. Second of all, I agree that one should be married, buy a home, and then have children. "What does buying a home have to do with having kids?
Wunderbar-Technically yes, but most sellers only agree to do the short sale to the bank if the bank writes off the rest of the debt. Even when this is not the case it generally is not worth the banks time to try and get the rest of the money from you. Perhaps they would seller it to a debt collector in which case you can probably settle on it for 10 or 20 cents on the dollar
VA_Investor,The trustee sale initial bids (which I could find defaulted loan amounts for), were all under the defaulted loan amount... Is that typical?Thanks for your help!
leroy,I was just answering a post that someone asked if I agreed with them. It is the ideal situation for someone to have a home before having children. But, that being said, it doesn't mean that people should put off having children until they can afford a SFH around here. Especially if some of you are correct that some people will just never afford a home in some parts.
The Anonymous saidTBW - why wouldnt your 70K family move to Prince George's?I had not looked at home prices in Prince George's County in a while. It has gotten quite affordable there I guess because of their foreclosure crisis. Last I checked homes in Greenbelt, Bowie, Laurel, etc were much more than they are now. So this is a good find on your part. So I guess there is hope for a middle class lifestyle in a reasonable commute of DC (and these would also be good for I-270 jobs in Montgomery County -> and should get better as they build the ICC and Purple Line.)PG County will be another good test of the substitution effect.
Ace saidwell, TBW, I don't mean to be a sexist, but all the single women with or without children I know do consider crime incidence when considering where to live, and I would not be surprised if most other people do as well, particularly if they have been victimized.Well I did not mean people without kids do not care about crime stats. I care and have taken that into account. I guess what I mean is I felt okay as a male in his 20s living in a part of DC with aggressive panhandlers. They were annoying but I never felt threatened. Whereas if I had a three year old with me I would not want him/her to have to experience unpleasant things like that. And there is always the off chance one of them gets violent.
Emma,I think both homes are nice. One question is where you think your commute will be. If it is DC I would strongly suggest the former home for its convenience to the Vienna Metro station. If it is Tysons you probably will prefer being in eastern Vienna. However, the first home is a pretty easy commute to Tysons Corner.
I'm looking for some advice on the prospect of buying real estate for investment purposes, but not all cash. That is, hypothetically, having a heap of cash (enough for at least 20%) and wanting to buy a house for rental purposes, either cash flow positive, or at a loss initially. How does the mortgage process go in a situation like that? Are there any good (and importantly free) primers out there?
What's with the comments about the only people who have kids that can be considered responsible are the ones who are homeowners. My parents were renters when my sister and I were born. I guess according to you 20 somethings my parents were not responsible. A lot of my fellow military brats only lived in rentals or base housing growing up. The first home that my brother-in-law and sister-in-law lived in that wasn't base housing or a rental were the ones they purchased as adults with my brother and sister. I've worked with people who had children in rental apartments. I wouldn't call them irresponsible.
Hayfieldgrad,I wouldn't characterize one comment by sehrwunderbar as "comments". Nor did she say anything about responsibility, far the opposite, when asked to clarify she said "ideally", as in, in her ideal world this is the order she'd like to do things in.In my mind, responsibility lies in being financially sound and stable enough to provide for the kids, and providing a loving, stable household for them to grow up in. Acting responsible thereafter mainly consists of the flexibility and adaptability to continue to provide both come what may.Base housing is (generally) inexpensive, and the armed services definitely provide stable jobs. But buying a house everytime you move would generally be considered to be a more treacherous financial plan than renting.
HayfieldGrad said...What's with the comments about the only people who have kids that can be considered responsible are the ones who are homeowners.There you go again making up something to be offended about. No one said that non-homeowners who have kids weren't responsible. All that was said is that most people who accidentally get pregnant just because it snowed were likely to be "existing families and irresponsible people." People who plan to have children are not irresponsible. Sometimes renting is more responsible than owning. A link was never made saying non-homeowners with children are irresponsible people. Quit trying to be offended and read what was posted.
Jeremy,Oh that's what she was referring too, I couldn't even follow it.
Full disclosure: I rent a townhome, have a daughter, and another on the way.The post that started this was about tax bases. Using my family as an example, the TH we live in is 2009 assessed at 153,300. (IMO, it's probably worth $120Kish). The mill rate just went up, but we don't actually pay the taxes because we rent, but my rent goes to pay the taxes before it lines my landlord's pockets, so it's there. $1500/year is a pretty reasonable estimate, though it might be as much as $1700.If my daughter were old enough to go to school, she'd almost certainly be consuming more than $1700 worth of schooling. Two makes the situation twice as bad, or more. The article suggests that another local county (PG) spends $7K per student. Assuming that's all variable costs per student, two students would be $14K. On $1700 of tax base. And that $1700 doesn't go to just the schools, other programs get a crack at the money too. That's unsustainable.Not for me, but for the local government. They need to slash spending (thank you Harriet) or raise taxes. The latter will decrease affordability and so naturally cause a further decline in real estate sale prices. Vicious cycle, that.Looked at from the perspective of the individual, it's most responsible to have children in a townhome, as you're getting the largest bang of service for your tax buck.Looked at from the perspective of the individual SFH-owner, no wonder they're jealously angry with TH developments.Looked at from the perspective of the local government, once more, it's absolutely unsustainable.My family won't be a burden for many years, and by that point I hope to be in a SFH we own. Maybe not, if the prices don't correct some more, or if I don't get some unexpected salary increases. But we're quite comfortable with 1.5 children in the TH right now, and 2, even 2.5 are doable. So we're in no rush. That $1700 the county is getting right now is a free lunch from us. And will be, as we're planning to homeschool--but it's a good example to illustrate with.
Cara,Nice stats on FFX. I'm lazy, would you mind doing one for PWC? I'm assuming you used MRIS for your data set. I think your analysis is spot-on, and I expect to see a similar, but perhaps more striking pattern in PWC.
Xpovos-Although school is one of the most expensive programs a county has you are not totally giving them a free lunch. Your money goes for police, plows, libraries, parks... So at least you use some of the tax money
Xpovos,It's from the NVAR Monthly reports that Harriet links to on the front page. For PWC the direct link is: PWC January 2010Single familiy detached sold active newup to 200 72 407 104200-299 72 329 125300-399 67 364 135400-499 32 255 95500-599 15 92 37600-699 2 54 19700-799 0 35 12800-899 2 29 6900-999 0 14 11mil + 0 39 4average sold $292.7kmedian sold $269.5kThere are too few solds in the high-end tail to really tell if it's a bump or a natural powerlaw extension. 39 listings even in an open-ended bucket seems on the high side though. The 200-299 sweet spot for tbw's hypothetical buyer is definitely selling the most quickly.
Xpovos,See you shouldn't feel like you are a tax burden whether you are a renter or townhouse owner even with kids. One way or another you are contributing to the tax base. Plus some school funding comes sales taxes and state income tax too. In PWC, only about 1/2 of the school funding even comes from local funding because the other half comes from state and federal sources.Jeremy,I did read what she wrote. While yes, I realize she was expressing an ideal, I get the distinct impression that many of you feel that townhouses are not appropriate places for families. I also get the impression that many people here believe that the area would be better off if townhouse communities were bulldozed. How many times has someone posted here that you are not middle-class unless you live in a detached home? I am just so tired of reading all the comments that have been posted here recently that children who are raised in townhomes are all trouble-makers and that only children raised in detached homes can succeed.
So are the prices now on the rice in Loundon county and reston herndon area ? what happend to te prediction of double dip and shadow inventories? As we see the inventory is very low now a days any idea ?
housebuyer,If I implied that I thought I was not receiving services for my tax money via rent, that wasn't my intent. The post was long, and I probably wasn't able to clarify things well enough. I definitely do get benefit from the local government services. Just not from the prime expense of the local tax revenues in the form of the property tax on my rental unit. (48.2% of the PWC general fund is budgeted towards the schools. The state general fund contributes an additional 131% of the PWC general fund to PWC schools)http://www.pwcgov.org/docLibrary/PDF/10348.pdfI love my libraries, PWC libraries are among the best in the country. Police are great. I know a bunch of our firefighters.Schools are the elephant, though.
I never said that children who grow up in townhouses are all troublemakers, and I don't recall reading anywhere here that anyone that that was the case.I know plenty of people that grew up in SFH that were troublemakers, but that doesn't mean anything about the actual dwelling they grew up in as far as where troublemakers live. As someone mentioned a few days ago, even the Bundy family lived in a SFH...
Xpovos- Your numbers sound right, I wasn't sure exactly what you were going for at first.
Cara: Given the "Recently renovated top to bottom" and the sale price, on can only assume they got in over their heads with the refi.To the tune of several hundred thousand dollars? I think they liquefied the equity and either used it to buy another house, or stash it somewhere. Either way, I guess they're off the hood.housebuyer said...I think we have talked about it before and came to the conclusion that there are more short sales around here from people that refinanced at the peak than bought at the peak. Yay for partying and blowing all of the banks money and then giving them the house back.Agreed. Unless they built an addition, which isn't mentioned in the listing and therefore assumed to not be the case, it would be hard for them to spend $100,000 on that house, let alone the ~$300k or so they're probably underwater by. I'm using this figure of $300k since it looks like it was transferred from the owner to him/herself in '06, and since it appears they haven't tried to sell it normally in the recent past at a higher amount.They're bank robbers.
CNNMoney has put Wash. DC on its "most undervalued" real estate list:http://money.cnn.com/real_estate/storysupplement/overvalued_cities/(click on the word "undervalued")
sehrwunderbar,Yes, it wasn't you that said only lowlifes live in townhouses, but others. However, you and several others have said that people should be homeowners first before they have children. The implication from you and others is that people shouldn't have children unless they are homeowners and that they should wait. I think some of you are under the impression that traditionally most people in this country got married, bought a house, and then started a family. Neither of my grandparents waited until they were homeowners to start their families. My parents both spent the first few years of their life living in rentals. I think some of you have these ideals that have never been reality.
Thanks for your helpful feedback! It's always good to hear other people's opinions of the houses and their neighborhoods.
This house is in a similar neighborhood to the second of the two homes Emma mentioned. It was listed for over $800K and was under contract in 10 days. http://franklymls.com/FX7230539It's a larger and, I think, more attractive, house than the second house, but it's about the same age and in a similar school pyramid.
http://franklymls.com/FX7248280This is a good example of, yes, there was a bubble in Vienna. This home was sold for $958k in 2005. It would have easily been listed for $1.1M (if not more) in 2006 and 2007. Today it is listed for $865k. It is listed for about 75% off peak.Here is a more modest home in Vienna Woods: http://franklymls.com/FX7080679It is maybe 5% off peak. This is silly.
*25% off peak, not 75%
Ace,Great news (for some of us)!Hayfield,I wouldn't be here, perhaps, if homeownership was a prereq for parenthood. Lot's of snobs around here.I own a number of TH's and would have absolutely no problem with living in any of them.
I see the federal government workers are back to work.
Shamrock,It felt like everyone was back to work, the commute sucked to and from DC today!
Thanks Harriet. Sorry for the many hours of delayed response but I am out the door to work at o dark thirty and return the same. There's a lot of financial chit chat on this blog but I love it when people actually talk local real estate :)Cara said - "If you're interested in buying it, then you hold your nose and pay no attention to how cheaply the flipper got it. Instead you compare it to the comparable real sales. And make sure you get a really thorough inspection, and pray that they haven't just whitewashed over a considerable problem."Cara. I always love your posts, they are so down to earth. Flippers tend to concentrate on the wow factor and ignore the basic stuff going on behind the walls and in the foundation. I do say that I started off with a real prejudice against flippers but have developed a healthy respect for those who take a dog of a property and invest enough time, trouble and resources to make it sexy.Jewel - I don't do trustee sales but I stand in awe of your helpful civic mindedness. Kudos.TBW - I agree. Why not take a flyer on PWC? Except, y'know, not me.Xpovos - I hadn't considered the homeschool angle. Not sure what to make of it but it's food for thought.Ace - I was very interested in your link but it resulted in a 404 Page Not Found error.What Jewel said: "It felt like everyone was back to work, the commute sucked to and from DC today.Feeling the pain Jewel.
GT saidWell, never mind.Hello spambot!!
http://franklymls.com/DC7168422this wasn't a bad one, assessed at 454K, sold for 287K 4 BR 2 Bath,kitchen in basement, 1 block from metro.I don't love the neighborhood, but,it wasn't a bad deal.
Xpovos,Congratulations! I know a happy family in a townhouse - number five is on the way, and they are all too cute. They don't use the public school system, so it's a win for PW County I suppose.
Cool, spammers. That is just what we need.
c,"Ace - I was very interested in your link but it resulted in a 404 Page Not Found error."Do you mean the undervalued/overvalued story link?I just pasted it and it worked for me. However, if it still doesn't for you, you may be able to find it by searching Yahoo Financial for an article by CNNMoney regarding the most undervalued and most overvalued (residential) real estate markets.
C, here it is at another location. Maybe this will work for you. (You still need to do some clicking to find the two lists - undervalued and overvalued).http://money.cnn.com/2010/01/27/real_estate/most_overvalued_metro_areas/index.htm
Thank you Ace. The links didn't work but I was able to find it using your key word search.Interestingly, the tallied figures pretty much aligned with my gut feel for cities that I am familiar with such as Blacksburg VA and FT Walton Beach FL. (But I still can't afford anything in Seaside FL. Tsk.)
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