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.Happy March! It's good to see the snow melt and the trees bud.
Hurry...spend over $600K to get your tax credit!"...Take advantage of LOW PRICES! LOW RATES! TAX INCENTIVE! You can BEAT THE TAX DEADLINE!"
Novahog- If you are that rare person who makes exactly the limit and has a decent downpayment maybe you could afford this house and get a 1% government rebate :) Isn't this really expensive for Ashburn? I don't know this area very well by its over $150/sq. ft. which sounds high, but I could be wrong.
HB, I think $150/sqft is on the low end in 20148, based on Redfin market trends for that area.This is a new house. I saw the model a while back and loved it. I just don't like the small Miller & Smith lots in Brambleton.I don't understand how some people can make a purchase this large and have an 8K credit influence their decision.
According to this site the average is ~$158/sq. ft., but usually these sites don't count the basement and I am pretty confident the 4110 does count the basement. If this is the case there is probably ~3K sq.ft. above ground and the house is close to $200/sq. ft. As I said before I know very little about this area though so I definitely could be wrong.
Ohh yeah and I absolutely agree with you it makes no sense to worry about the 8K when buying a 600K house. This is only a little over 1% off. Its not like if you saw something at the grocery store for 1% off you would go ahead and decide to buy it immediately, so you definitely shouldn't do it for something that could impact your next 30 years.
Walked to an open house REO in our neighborhood on Sunday. I swear the LA didn't advertize it, because I sure didn't get an email notification. She said how nice the neighbors seem since that's mainly who had wandered in. I wanted to ask if any real buyers had stopped by but refrained.It's $65k off the list price of normal sales of the same model, but I'm not sure it's cheap enough for an investor to grab it. We roughly calculated about $30k minimum work that it needs, realistically closer to $40k for a non-professional. The worst of it being the thickly textured walls in both upstairs bathrooms that are going to necessitate a full bath remodel, which otherwise you might have been able to postpone. And it has the issue of having an in-law/rental suite downstairs, which does have it's own kitchen (minus appliances) but who's bathroom can't be closed off from the upstairs, making it less desirable as a rental. And really those suites are very situation specific. I would guess less than a third of the market wants one. Anyway, we did feel better after seeing it. It needed way more work than we were prepared to do, and would have required way more cash than we were ready to outlay. And the lot, location and layout weren't desirable enough to make it worth the effort.Still, obviously I most definitely wish them luck on a quick sale. I think someone will see it as a good opportunity. Take the FHA route for the interest rate hedge and keep your DP money on hand for the renovations, do it up beautifully to your taste, and have space for an au pair, a late teen early 20's kid to have their own space, or some privacy for your mother-in-law, and you're golden.There will be ones that make more sense than ours. It's just a matter of time. But not this one.
People either seem to really like Brambleton or really dislike it. The small lots and concentrated development appeal to people who prefer a more walkable type of suburb. For others, however, the idea of being that far out in Loudoun and still having less than .2 acre has zero appeal. Overall, I think sales there have held up better than in other parts of the Ashburn area.
Cara,What do you mean by "thickly textured walls"? I wouldn't sweat a bath remodel or two.Mozart,Friends bought in Brambleton at the right time (off blueprints in early section). I agree, the lots are tiny. Problem is that we rarely see them - too far away.
Cara- Good to see you still got the best deal in your neighborhood. I would try not to sweat what happens in the future. You like your house can easily afford it and got one of the better deals available for the timeframe you were looking :)
Va_investor,There's nothing to sweat about a bathroom model, it's just money. For a regular homeowner the best advertized deals I'm seeing are around $5k a pop.By thickly textured, I mean there's normal plaster walls in the bathrooms outside the shower/tub stalls over which someone has very evenly, but amateurishly coated a pattern (swooshy wave like things in one, more scallopy things in the other) about a full inch deep. I've seen tecture before, but never something this deep. Personally I would think you'd just remove the old walls and put up new drywall. But what it means is that old but acceptable bathrooms need redoing immediately rather than later down the road, because those walls are in unbearably poor taste. (one of them is shiny metallic silver/black on top of it).It's only money, but it may help things add up to more money than most buyers have.
If you the toilet and shower work, it's a down the road thing. New drywall is not a budget buster.I would not care much what my guests think - our friends don't really care.
Va_investor,Basically, I'm assuming that everyone expects to paint the walls, refinish the floors (and the small repairs this one needs shouldn't be a much bigger deal) and at least replace the counter and appliances in the kitchen of an REO (unless it's priced a lot higher). But when you start to add in concerns about the basement (why was this the only portion repainted? Did they do a sufficient mold remediation?) that the cupboards are also in poor enough shape that a full replacement rather than a refacing may be needed, it starts to add up.Basically I think paint, floors and a new counter most people are willing and happy to do, and tackle the bathrooms sometime down the line. Unless you have a high tolerance for bad taste that's not an option here, so the buyer has got to be someone who both wants an in-law/rental suite and someone who's looking for a true fixer upper, and yet that same someone has got to be okay with the lack-luster location, less desirable model type, and only a 10% discount all told after remodeling expenses over getting a similar house already in good shape. That seems to me a tall order.
Novahog,Thanks for the link - that is a good concept for a small lot and makes wonderful use of windows -- I like the way everything shines in the morning sun.Miller & Smith is my favorite builder if I could pick one, because their houses aren't as boring as others.
Cara,Maybe I misread your post. Bathroom walls stood out.
Va_investor,Is the fact that the current wall is plaster not drywall going to make a difference in difficulty level?A normal owner is not going to want to tear apart the bathroom twice. That's why the walls change the timeframe of the total remodel. The toilet and vanities are actually newish. No way to tell if they're in working order since it's been winterized, but one hopes they'd turn on the water for the inspection, but there are no guaruntees on that. The showers were in need of replacement sooner rather than later.If you could live in this place and see those walls daily without wanting to take a jackhammer to them you are made of stronger stuff than me. This is not a matter of impressing your friends and guests, this is a matter of personally unbearable. I personally, could not live with those walls, for any period of time longer than a week.The profit margin is not nearly high enough for an investor, unless they think this same model will go for 10% over current market when their done. And I'm questioning whether the discount is sufficient for a fixer-upper owner. It's priced low enough to attract an offer I'd say, but not at list.
Va_investor,You didn't misread it, I didn't include all the more predictable repairs in the first post. The bathrooms were just what put it over the top between the price making sense once the remodeling was done, and it not seeming like a good enough deal. I could as easily have chosen the broken-off/ missing floorboards and loose railings. Which are likewise not expensive in and of themselves.
Cara, Where is this house on Frankly?
The other category of buyer I'm missing is LL. As a LL you could probably just thorughly clean the kitchen and leave it as is, fix the floorboards and railing and then just lay new carpet throughout, and deal with the bathroom walls, but save a real remodel for before selling it. And then try to find renters who don't mind the slightly odd living arrangements. Funny thing is, I'm strongly guessing that's what the $300k 2003 buyer who managed to get foreclosed on was trying to do modulo appreciation gains. Just didn't see the peak pricing passing them by.
http://franklymls.com/LO7262418*Love* that Timeshare model of marketing...It's location, location, location folks! A Waterfall! Trees! Bushes! Landscaping! It's so exclusive they didn't even get snowed in!Just ignore the incredible tiny lots that the builder laid out to squeeze in those last 5 units....one having the SWPPP pond as its own "private lake".LOL. Brings back memories it does.
Gus,Sorry I'm trying to be coy about where I live and my name so, I'm not posting it.Search for under $350k single family detached in Springfield/Burke and it will be amongst the few listings with an "f" next to it.FX* (Springfield,Burke) active 300 to 350There's a couple other possibilities in there if you're looking for that sort of thing.
Re: novahog's linked homeI never understood all those people that moved out to Loudon County and live next to the airport. With so much land to choose from, why would anyone choose something that lines up with the runways? I guess maybe you just get used to the sound. I lived near the VRE station in Burke and didn't notice it, but when my wife (then fiancee) used to stay over she said it woke her up at night.
Jeremy,The VRE line through Burke also has Amtrak trains, which are louder. Neither are as loud as planes though. But it depends strongly on the sound insulation of the construction I would think.Of course this is from the person who grew up in a TH on a 4 lane highway on the other side of which was a freight-train/AMTRAK/commuter rail ine. Why did my parents buy there? Because it was the least expensive housing in the best school district that wasn't a true fixer upper. After a month or so, you can sleep through anything. Why do people buy in Brambleton? Same reason as anywhere, because it seemed like a good idea/compromise at the time.
Those Miller and Smith homes are shoddily built. Ive heard horror stories about them in Victory Lakes, literally falling to pieces within 5 years. And look at those lot sizes, cant be bigger than 10k square foot, probably more like 8k. 600k? No thanks.
This looks like a new Vienna/Dunn Loring flip to me (prior sale seems to have been in January): http://franklymls.com/FX7266633
Mozart- I don't really like the outside that much. I am a little surprised at how little the flipper is trying to make. It looks like they did a decent amount of work maybe ~30K just a guess and is only trying to make ~85K. By the time she pays closing costs on her loan a couple months of holding the house, the buyers realtor fees plus gets 5-10% below list price there isn't a whole lot of room for profit.
Mozart,I saw that house, probably 2 years ago, when it was a short sale. We went with our realtor because we hadn't seen it listed as having an open house, and other people were there with their realtor, and there were at least 5 residents that were home. The house was a mess, and it backs directly to the retaining wall of I-66. We felt like we were in prison when we looked outside.
I'm confused by some of you always mentioning Dulles Airport. Having lived in Arlington and DC I imagine I've been near DCA's flight path. I cannot recall ever hearing airplanes and I can sometimes see them through office windows or at people's homes. I have friends who grew up in western Fairfax County and I don't recall them ever mentioning airplane noise. I'm sure there are some homes you want to avoid in this area to avoid but I hardly think entire swaths of this area are uninhabitable because of the airports. I know DCA is smaller but I've never heard anyone who lives in Crystal City mention airplane noise as a problem and that's about as close to DCA as you can get. I've never heard much of anything while working in downtown DC where you can see airplanes. Indeed, I'm jealous of those with offices on the side of the building where you can see airplanes ascending or descending from DCA.
Re Brambleton lot sizes -- it's in an area close to the future terminal stop of the Silver Line. I presume that was part of the mindset to minimize lot sizes there. However, if you look at the map of the home novahog found it's still going to be a drive to the 267/772 terminal stop so IMHO why not get a real lot. However, this is the same zoning decision you see near the Vienna Metro station and others where being 0.5 miles or 1 mile or above 1 mile makes a big difference in lot size.
tbw,RE: the silver line stop. That makes the density make a lot more sense. If you don't want prices to get totally out of hand within 1 mile of the metro or metro extension, then you need to pack in more houses.
http://franklymls.com/FX7264220I kinda like the random picture of the dog in the window.They claim the owner remodeled in 2008 but then everything cited is from 2005-07. The latter makes more sense to me because I cannot see why the owner would have put so much money into it in 2008 when it would've seemed so unlikely to have recouped it. Given it is listed for about $37k more than what they paid in 2005 -- which if you run the math is basically trying to break even after realtor fees -- all of the upgrades will be a loss even if they get list price.
tbw,It's a pug!!! :)In a split-foyer for over $600k. At least it has decent square footage, and the kitchen is kinda nice.But ugh.
TBW- Yeah my guess is they will either take the short sale route or decide not to sell. I just don't see them getting anywhere close to their asking price. Maybe I am wrong...
TBW-Per the plane comment I think the difference is that houses are nowhere near as sound proof as buildings. So even though you can't hear the planes in an office building you likely would be able to hear them in many houses.
I saw that house, probably 2 years ago, when it was a short sale. We went with our realtor because we hadn't seen it listed as having an open house, and other people were there with their realtor, and there were at least 5 residents that were home. The house was a mess, and it backs directly to the retaining wall of I-66. We felt like we were in prison when we looked outside.Same here. We saw it too, but later than you. All of the residents were out when we saw it. I remember it was pretty well trashed on the inside, had evidence of mold in the 2nd bathroom. And it stunk to high heaven inside. The noise from 66 even mid-day was evident inside the house with the doors closed and the windows shut. We didn't stay any longer than necessary other than to jot down a few notes that said "Not under any circumstances..." IIRC.There are SS's and REO's all up and down that street. Seems to be foreclosure/bad idea street for that area.
Texas Native saidSeems to be foreclosure/bad idea street for that area.Seems like the whole development way back in the 1960s was a bad idea. ;)The portion of I-66 between Exits 52 and 64 (Rt 29 - Centreville to Beltway) opened November 1964. Clearly they knew I-66 was coming and where it was. I'm surprised they did not cancel the project. Maybe back in the 1960s being near the highway sounded like a good thing instead of a bad thing.
TBW, agreed. It has to do with flight patterns on takeoff--at DCA they are routed away from the neighborhoods near there. I have a friend (engineer) who took a sound meter to the house he wanted to buy near DCA. He did this at different times during the day and measured the sound levels. He said if they had been unacceptable (his wife says he is sensitive to sound), he wouldn't have bought the house. He says he hopes never to move from there, so the noise obviously isn't bad. In contrast, years ago I lived in NW DC and the airplane noise was awful.
***WARNING***WARNING***WARNING***This is the most important message I have ever posted...Among his many many deletions, Contrarian told us -- with absolute certainty -- that the stock market would be lower within one years time of the 2009 bottom.As best I can tell, the stock market bottom was on March 6, 2009 (Dow 666). Thus, given that we are now at about 10,400, the stock market is DAYS, possibly even MINUTES away from the WORST MOST SEVERE DOWNTURN IN THE HISTORY OF MANKIND.As we all know that Contrarian is often right with his very level headed calls, take this as your warning. YOU HAVE, AT MOST, 5 DAYS TO SELL EVERYTHING BEFORE YOU LOSE IT ALL!!!!!Dont thank me for warning you. Thank Contrarian and his Nostradamus like ability to predict the future.
WSJ blog: "Freddie Mac Abandons Ship on Interest-Only Loans""Freddie Mac said on Friday that it would stop buying and securitizing interest-only loans in September because those mortgages have performed so poorly.""After the private mortgage market collapsed in late 2007, Freddie and its larger rival, Fannie Mae, remained the only buyers of interest-only mortgages. Fannie has been more active in buying interest-only loans, and purchased $9 billion last year, compared to just $2.1 billion in purchases by Freddie Mac, according to Inside Mortgage Finance. Freddie bought just $413 million during the fourth quarter."Wow, I had no idea they were still securitizing these types of loans in 2009. It sounds as though Fannie continues its purchases of IO loans, even today. All I can say: wtf?http://blogs.wsj.com/developments/2010/02/26/freddie-mac-abandons-ship-on-interest-only-loans/
TBW, here are some links about the Dulles airplane noise:Noise Contour MapandNoise FactorsPlanes are getting larger on average, which makes them louder. Dulles is also planning two new runways for a total of 5, so the noise contour maps will change slightly in the future.I researched this more when we were deciding whether to stay here or move to Raleigh after we got married. The airport there is closer to the RTP area so it actually had an impact on neighborhoods with what I considered a desirable commute. Dulles is too far from Tysons for me to consider neighborhoods inside its noise contour map.
re: airport noise in brambleton/ashburn.I spend a lot of time out that way. The airplane noise is no different than Arlington/Falls Church/McLean.As for lot size, i doubt it had anything to do with a future metro stop. There are other neighborhoods close by with similar prices and larger lots. Also, there are some bigger lots in Brambleton, just not the Miller & Smith lots.Loudon Valley Estates is actually closer to the future metro. Here's an exampleDoug said: "Those Miller and Smith homes are shoddily built. Ive heard horror stories about them in Victory Lakes, literally falling to pieces within 5 years."5 years? Wouldn't that put them back to 2005 builds? Maybe things are different now...dunno.I hear stories like this about almost every builder. If true, it's a shame. I really like the layout of their Clara Bow model. Just don't like the .15 arce lots.
"Wow, I had no idea they were still securitizing these types of loans in 2009. It sounds as though Fannie continues its purchases of IO loans, even today. All I can say: wtf?"You have to understand that these guys are highly educated and experienced professionals and they have developed sophisticated computer models that all but eliminate risk in any conventional sense. It might seem hard for an outsider to understand how they do what they do, but they don't make the money they do because they are a bunch of Joe Averages. Sorry, thought I would channel a bit of 2005 there.On a more serious note it is clear the government has zero interest whether they make money or not. They lost dozens of billions of dollars last year and they are only now discontinuing their purchases of unusually risky mortgages? Wow...
Planes are getting larger on average, which makes them louder.What matters most when it comes to determining impact of an airport on livability is your proximity to the preferred take-off path. You really don't want to be on the departure path when a fully loaded A380 comes howling over your home on a hot summer day trying to claw its way to altitude with engine power.Frequency also plays a big role. 450 flights a day is tolerable. 1400 flights a day from 5AM to Midnight is bad no matter if you live on the departure or arrival path. If you think DCA is bad, imagine the howling if they took off the artificial limiters on arrivals and departures. And if you think Dulles is bad with four runways, 5 runways will be worse when daily flights increase 25%.There are few rules in life as valid as this one: All airports eventually outgrow their borders and all airports eventually become hated by their neighbors. It's pretty much a standard 25 years cycle.
Jeremy,Thanks for the map. I was wondering if something like that existed.http://www.washingtonairports.com/noiseandlanduse/SEMap.htmLooks to me like everything east of Fairfax County Parkway is safe. Even some properties west of the Parkway appear to be outside of the 1 mile buffer.
Cara,I'm counting on housing close to the Silver line (in Reston) going up, up, up!The only available land very close by is going to be very expensive and the only new development will have to be very expensive.
FWIW it appears Loudoun County required developers to make houses that shield more noise than the average home if they were built in the Dulles overlay area. I guess I just figure co-existing with the airport must be going okay because those communities have become pretty well to do areas.
tbw,We don't hear any airport noise, but love the convenience. I don't recall hearing any in Herndon, either.
The Anonymous,Maybe I'll eat these words in five days ;) but I think contrarian and his ilk did not realize that the rapid rise between March-Oct 2009 was not a bubble but a *correction* to the *overreaction* downward between Sept 2008-March 2009. A lot of people never consider that irrational markets go both ways.I think the interesting question is when will we hit 11,000. I suspect some time this year.
TBW- I agree with you the market was massively oversold due to mix of forced liquidations of levered investors and terrified individuals trying to keep their retirement money safe. The market is pretty fairly valued right now, so unless you expect future earnings to rise/fall very quickly or interest rates to change dramatically I just don't see the market going crazy this year. I also think wild swings are pretty unlikely in other major markets include bonds, MBS, foreign exchange...
Hmmm, inventory is higher.
The Anon: Well now I think we have a solution for Contrarian. If Contrarian's prediction about the stock market comes true in the next few days, it will coincide with the next snow storm which sounds like it might also hit in the next few days. Contrarian has advised us to stock up on money, groceries and gasoline because the banks will close and money won't be accessible. People always stock up on money, groceries and gasoline before a snowstorm. Could all of this stocking up prevent the decline of the stock market? Or should I dump my pesky Google stock now and buy brownies, Doritos and high-test?
Hey Contrarian -- you just linked to a post made in January 2010. The comment of yours I am referring to was made in Sept 2009.So, if you think I am a liar, go back to your Sept 2009 post and call me out -- show everyone here that you did not say what I allege.Whats that? You cant show us that post? Why is that??? Oh right, you cant because YOU DELETED IT ALONG WITH EVERY OTHER FAILED PREDICTION OF YOURS.
Sorry Contrarian but everyone sees through this revisionist history of yours -- the one where you delete all the long ago failed posts, and replace them with new not yet failed posts. Of course, these too will fail in time at which you will again have to go through and delete them again. Such a vicious cycle...Seriously, why do you waste your time by writing anything here? Is it just so you will have something to delete? Is the urge to delete really that strong?If so, I suggest you go seek professional help. Perhaps there is a deleter's anonymous group you can join. However, as a word of warning, step 1 is admitting you have a problem. Given that you have never admitted here why you deleted all your posts, (unless you did and deleted that too) its obvious you have not yet hit rock bottom yet.Just know that theres help out there for people like you. Find their website and mark it down -- just be sure to use permanent marker so you cant delete that too.
Cara saidAnd it has the issue of having an in-law/rental suite downstairs, which does have it's own kitchen (minus appliances) but who's bathroom can't be closed off from the upstairs, making it less desirable as a rental. I always thought that an in-law suite was a selling point. Why do you believe it is a negative? Cara saidBut what it means is that old but acceptable bathrooms need redoing immediately rather than later down the road, because those walls are in unbearably poor taste. Oh we have such different standards. I think of redoing as "Is it going to collapse within the week onto my head and send me via ambulance to the hospital?" I don't think that eyeball bleeding due to Bad Taste is covered under my health insurance. If it were a health hazard, I would be in my grave already.
Ace,Are you still looking to trade up? I wonder if you saw this Lorcom Ln home? Not sure if the sold price reflects the 'busy street discount' but it looks very nice.
MM, thanks, that house has a nice kitchen and I agree it has a lot of good features, but overall is too expensive and too traditional for me (and on a busy street, as you said, and appears to have little/no back yard). The only way I would be willing to stretch for that price would be if I absolutely loved the place and didn't have to do any work or make expensive changes.
Thanks for all the funny posts today, the Anonymous and C, I laughed quite hard.
reecon saidOr should I dump my pesky Google stock now and buy brownies, Doritos and high-test?I would not dump the Google stock but it can't hurt to diversify with Pepsi-Co which owns Frito Lay which makes Doritos. And other stocks related to junk food and large portion restaurants. ;)
although I don't really believe in buying individual stocks.But if there's a mutual fund that trades on stocks that assume America will get fatter and fatter I would definitely invest. :)
"The Anon said...Given that you have never admitted here why you deleted all your posts, (unless you did and deleted that too)"Reminds me of the saying "if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound".Maybe the proverb would be translated on the bubble blog as "if a problem deleter deletes his admission before anyone can read it, has he really admitted anything :)
TBW, this might be what you're looking for: PBJ
Here is the deal contrarian...It is possible The Anonymous has misquoted you to some extent, as he has done to me on various occasions, but you have pretty well wrecked any possible shred of credibility you had by deleting your own posts. (To say nothing about posting heaps and heaps of crack-pot BS in the first place.)I just looked... and sure enough... among the posts you have deleted are the ones where you were claiming that Hal Turner the white supremacist had secret internal versions of government reports showing the economy was imploding. (as part of a Jewish conspiracy naturally)You are on the level of a street corner doom-preacher. You continually say crazy things in a public place, but everyone has learned to ignore the crazy guy. We know he won't acknowledge that all of his previous predictions failed to come true and that the world did not end on any of the previous dates he threw out.Go read the story "The Boy Who Cried Wolf."
c,An in-law suite can be a positive, but only for some buyers. And certain houses it makes more sense in than others. It's already a small house, having 1/4 of it taken up by an in-law suite doesn't leave a lot of space for the main family. It's not in a heavily rental area where a rental suite is easy income. And I don't see most mother-in-laws wanting their own kitchen and dining area. This is not a neighborhood where people can afford au-pairs or maids. It just cuts down significantly on the cross-section of buyers for whom the house is a good fit.We're talking an over $300k house here even at it's REO price. You want simply a shell to live in regardless of finishings because it's the cheapest possible way to live be my guest. For that kind of money, there's no reason you can't live better than that. Yes, it's not life or death. But there are better lots than this one, better locations than this one, better house layouts than this one. All this one has is a 10% discount after remodeling it to meet the general standards of the neighborhood. 10% that's it. And I just don't think 10% is enough.
"Contrarian said...What is most interesting is that no one seems to have a clue as to why I removed the previous comments. If anyone knows, please post your theories."We discussed this a while ago and came to the conclusion you would rather destroy your credibility by deleting all your posts than be proven wrong. Or its possible that you are a serial deleter and need to seek professional help."Contrarian said...When I provided evidence proving The Anonymous had just lied, The Anonymous created a whole new story about an alleged (non-existent) post from last September."Well of course the post is non-existent. Want to know why? Cause you DELETED IT!!!Fortunately, it looks like I was quoting your (now deleted post). See the third to last comment where I quote you saying:"The Anonymous, are you naive enough to believe that at this time next year the market will not be lower than it was back in March?"Why dont you tell me what that was about? Or just do the all too predictable and run away like you normally do.http://novabubblefallout.blogspot.com/2009/09/northern-virginia-bits-bucket-9282009.html#comment-2463858820118826913
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