How To Know If A House Has “Good Bones”

Question: We’re looking for a house that needs to be completed remodeled, but want to make sure it has good bones. Do you have any tips on things to look for?

Answer: When I’m looking for a house with “good bones” I’m looking for a structurally sound house that offers a good canvass for updating to today’s standards. I’m cheating a bit this week and using a recent article written by Stephanie Dickens of BOWA, a local design-build firm that specializes in luxury renovations from kitchens to whole-home remodels. Below are some of the best tips from BOWA as well as some of my own:

Level Floors

A nice, level floor indicates good structural support. If you up look to where the ceiling and the wall meet, the corner crease should be fairly straight. If it looks wavy or dips down in the middle, the floor joists above are sagging and may need reinforcement.  You can also check for sagging or tilting by measuring the ceiling height at various points in the room. Some variation is normal, but it should not be off by more than 1” at any point.

Jump Around! (Jump Up, Jump Up, And Get Down!)

Now that you have House of Pain stuck in your head…Stand on your tiptoes then drop down hard on your heels. Do this at various points in the house to test the deflection in different areas. All wood framed floors are going to have some deflection, but you don’t want it to feel like your jumping on a trampoline. Too much bounce is an indicator of insufficient structural support.

Know Your Cracks

Sometimes structural issues reveal themselves in unexpected ways. Something as small as a crack in the drywall could be sign of larger structural issues. Straight, hairline cracks above openings or at joints, like the one pictured below to the left, are nothing to be alarmed about.  If you see jagged, diagonal cracks that are wider than 1/8”, like the one below to the right, the house may have settlement issues or insufficient framing.

Water Management

Water is a home’s worst enemy and poor water management can lead to water pooling against a home and getting into the cracks of the foundation, which can lead to structural deterioration over time. A musty smelling basement is a sign of poor water management. Look at where gutters drain – I often find that they’re dropping water right next to the house instead of sending it away. Look at the grading (slope of the yard) and if water is running towards the house, look for drainage systems. Sump pumps are nice, but they should be connected to a battery back-up in case power goes out.

Young At Heart

A house with newer core systems is not just a sign of good maintenance, but it’s a huge money-saver in renovations. Check on the age of the windows, roof, HVAC, water heater, plumbing, electrical, and main sewer/water lines. Any of these systems that are in the first half of their expected useful lifespan add tremendous value.

If you’re looking for a home with good bones that offers an efficient remodeling opportunity, feel free to reach out to me at Eli@EliResidential.com to schedule some time to me. Once you’ve found that home, or if you’d like to make updates to your current home, reach out to BOWA’s Caroline Goree at CarolineG@bowa.com if you’re looking for high-end design and remodeling services.

Is iBuying the Next Trend in Real Estate?

Question: What do you think about the iBuying trend in real estate? Have you seen an impact in Arlington?

Answer: iBuying offers homeowners a way to sell their home quickly without going to market, using a price generated by an Automated Valuation Model (AVM) like Zillow’s Zestimates. The big players are Opendoor, Offerpad, and Zillow but recently some well-known brokerages have joined the party including Redfin and Keller Williams.

At this time, none of the main players are offering iBuying in Arlington or the DC Metro. Currently, the largest iBuying market in the country is Phoenix with about 6% of transactions going through an iBuyer (half of those are with Opendoor).

How It Works

The process of iBuying is similar for each company and looks something like this:

  1. Homeowner submits a request for an offer and provides some basic information about their home (bedrooms, square footage, etc)
  2. iBuyer makes an initial offer on the home based on their AVM pricing algorithm
  3. If the owner likes the price, the iBuyer conducts a property inspection to determine condition and cost of repairs
  4. iBuyer makes a final offer given the property condition
  5. Owner can accept and close usually within 10-14 days

Advantages

  • Sell quickly
  • Sell as-is
  • No showings
  • No repairs or improvements
  • No contingencies that cause contract to void
  • No cost to get an offer

Disadvantages

  • Sale price likely below market value
  • “Service fees” usually range from 7-10% of the sale price, well above most commissions when using an agent
  • Still pay your normal closing costs (taxes, title fees, etc)
  • iBuyers not operating in most metro areas

When Does An iBuyer Make Sense?

There are all sorts of reasons a homeowner may value speed and convenience over price so iBuying exists for that market, but it should remain only a small percentage of the overall real estate transaction market. iBuying won’t always be the best option for somebody looking for speed and convenience, but with no cost and little effort to get an offer, it makes sense to at least see what an iBuyer is willing to pay.

If you’re in a market where iBuying exists (or when it eventually comes to Arlington), why wouldn’t you request an instant offer from an iBuyer and compare it to what your real estate agent thinks you can get on market? I know a broker in Texas who got more for his house from an iBuyer than he could get on the market because the AVM pricing algorithm over-valued his house.

Will iBuying Last?

I’m not sure how iBuyers will survive an economic downturn when they’re sitting on a huge amount of inventory that’s worth less than they paid for it. It’s a great business model in a hot market, but potentially devastating when the market turns.

Another flaw I see in the current model is that homeowners (like the broker in Texas I mentioned earlier) can take advantage of the process. An owner who does their homework, meeting with agents and getting iBuyer offers, will most likely only choose the iBuyer if they’re over-paying. That’s great for owners who can take advantage of it, but I’m not sure how that can be a sustainable business model.

An additional drawback is that iBuyers generally charge a fee of 7-10% of the purchase price, which is mostly attributed to the risks associated with buying based on an algorithm and a basic property inspection. If iBuyers can figure out how to reduce risk enough to cut this fee in half and sustain themselves through downturns, things will get interesting for the real estate industry. There have always been brokers and investors who specialize in “buy now” or instant offer programs, but what makes iBuying unique is the implementation of technology to determine pricing and to make the process more convenient, as well as the scale of operations. I think the longer-term solution is something that blends the convenience and scale of a well-funded tech company with the market knowledge of a local agent.

Are Appraisal Values Keeping Up With Sale Prices?

Question: Given the recent appreciate in real estate values, are you seeing more homes appraise for less than the sale price?

Answer: As we saw in last week’s column, the Arlington real estate market has appreciated rapidly over the last six months which increases the chances that an Appraiser cannot find past sales to support the price the buyer and seller have agreed to, thus increasing the amount of low appraisals in Arlington over the last six months (unfortunately there’s no data to back that up so it’s based on what I’ve seen and heard in the market). Generally, appraisal values lag behind actual market appreciation by a few months.

Banks Often Require Appraisals

If a buyer is getting a mortgage, the bank almost always requires a third-party appraisal to assess the property’s market value. While one can easily make the argument that the price the buyer and seller have agreed to is the market value, banks don’t look at it that way, hence the third-party appraisal.

Appraisals are largely based on comparable home sales over the last six months. It’s a common myth that Appraisers can only use sales from the last six months, but more recent sales are given more weight than sales 6+ months ago. Ultimately, it’s the Appraisers job to determine the market value of a home using the best available information.

Impact of a Low Appraisal

If the appraised value comes in at or above the purchase price, all is good in the eyes of the bank so things continue as planned (note: a higher appraised value has no impact on your assessed value for tax purposes).

If the appraised value is lower than the purchase price, the bank usually requires you to negotiate a reduced sale price to match the appraised value or put more money down to cover the difference between the sale price and appraised value, multiplied by your loan-to-value (LTV) ratio. In some cases, you can also change the type of loan you’re using to satisfy the bank.

The easiest way to calculate LTV is subtract your down payment percentage from 100%. In other words, if you’re putting 20% down, your LTV is 80%. If there’s a $10,000 difference between the sale price and appraised value, you’ll usually be required to bring an extra $8,000 ($10,000*.8) to the table.

All of this can change depending on your loan program and down payment, so it’s important to understand the impact a low appraisal will have on your deal prior to making an offer.

Protection Through An Appraisal Contingency

The Appraisal Contingency is one of the “Big Three” contingencies that are common to sales contracts in Northern Virginia. The Home Inspection and Financing Contingencies are the other two.

The Appraisal Contingency gives buyers an out, with a full return of their Deposit, in the event the appraisal is below the sale price and the seller is unwilling to reduce the sale price or the buyer is unwilling to make up the difference or change loan products.

If you include an Appraisal Contingency in your offer, it’s a good idea to ask your lender how long it will take to order and complete the appraisal so you can structure the contingency period around that timeline. Remember, shorter contingency periods are more attractive to sellers and longer periods generally favor the buyer.

When To Waive The Appraisal Contingency

Sometimes waiving an Appraisal Contingency is the right strategic decision when making an offer. If you’re competing against other offers, especially if they’re cash (no appraisal needed), you should talk with your agent and lender about the risk and reward of giving up this protection. In some cases, sellers will choose an offer with less risk (fewer or no contingencies) instead of the highest offer, especially when the sale price is well above recent comparable sales.

Removing the Appraisal Contingency altogether isn’t your only option either. There are ways to reduce the seller’s risk exposure, thus making your offer more competitive, while also limiting your risk exposure in the event of a really low appraisal.

Disputing a Low Appraisal

If you disagree with the appraised value, ask your lender about the dispute process. First review the appraisal report to understand what sales and details the Appraiser used to determine the value. The best chance you have at getting an appraisal adjustment is to provide the Appraiser with different sales that more accurately represent the subject property’s value, with an explanation.

Managing appraisal risk/contingencies is one of many strategic decisions you’ll make as a buyer or that you’ll have to assess as a seller. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me by email at Eli@EliResidential.com if you have any additional questions!

Opportunity Zones in Arlington

Question: How did the Opportunity Zone designation in the Nauck neighborhood come to fruition and what is the expected impact on the neighborhood?

Answer: Last year the US Treasury, with the help of each state, began designating underdeveloped or “economically-distressed” communities as Opportunity Zones (OZ) to encourage residential and commercial development by offering investors preferred tax treatment. There are currently over 8,000 designated OZs around the country and 212 in Virginia.

 

Arlington’s Opportunity Zones

It may come as a surprise that there were two areas in Arlington that received OZ designations by the Governor/Treasury – Nauck-Shirlington Road and Barcroft-Columbia Pike. Both are located in the area bounded by Columbia Pike to the north, 395, and S Four Mile Run (link to map and details). Note: Although the zone is called Barcroft-Columbia Pike, part of it is actually Douglas Park and the rest is an area that I don’t think belongs to either the Barcroft or Douglas Park Civic Associations, but the apartment buildings there do take the Barcroft name.

On a national scale, I don’t think anybody would argue that these neighborhoods are economically-distressed, but within Arlington these designations should help stimulate or expedite development from South to North and West to East instead of the other way around. Both of these areas also have detailed planning documents in place to guide investors.

 

How Do Opportunity Zones Work?

OZs are a bit outside of my purview because they require commercial development and tax expertise, but the general idea is that investors will put money into Qualified Opportunity Funds and deploy capital to one or more projects in Opportunities Zones around the country in returned for preferred tax treatment on their gains. The theme behind the OZs is encouraging long-term, sustained investment from these funds by incentivizing investments of 10+ years.

It’s important to note that OZs were first written into the tax code in December 2017 and while a lot of money has been raised by funds, there’s still uncertainty on how everything works. The last planned public OZ hearing between industry and Government was June 9 in which industry raised numerous concerns about the governance of the funds/tax exemptions, thus keeping a lot of the money sidelined.

The primary concern for industry seems to be around how the IRS will apply the tax code to different exit strategies common within commercial and residential development. Some investors are happy with any preferential treatment or willing to take the risk of not having an exit strategy, but many are understandably hesitant to deploy huge sums without a full plan in place.

 

What To Expect

You can expect the development in each of Arlington’s zones to follow the guidance of the 2004 Nauck Village Center Action Plan, 2018 Four Mile Run Valley Master Plan, and 2012 Columbia Pike Neighborhoods Area Plan. The recently approved Nauck Town Square was the first step in realizing the Nauck area plan and much of the Columbia Pike plan is underway, including major commercial and public/utility improvements.

According to Arlington County’s project mapping website, there are not currently any proposals for major development within either of the OZs. However, the redevelopment of Centro Village (anchored by Harris Teeter), directly across from the Barcroft-Columbia Pike OZ, is nearly complete and the Trafalgar Flats condos, also directly across the street from the OZ, has done very well.

It’s quite possible that OZ funds have already been deployed in Arlington and we wouldn’t know. Given the impact Amazon is/will have on South Arlington, the Nauck, Four Mile, and Columbia Pike area plans were going to take shape, but I suspect that the recent OZ designations will lead to a more rapid implementation of the County’s vision. 

Investors in Arlington’s OZs likely fall into a category of investors who won’t wait for the Treasury to fully address all of industry’s questions before deploying capital because they’re content with any preferred tax treatment on investments that will be financially viable without the extra help. Is this a fair implementation of tax incentives for a national program? Probably not.

 

Impact on Residential Real Estate

While the OZs themselves have a relatively limited supply of homes, the homes within and adjacent to these zones make-up the least expensive property in Arlington County. If you’re looking for growth opportunities relative to the rest of Arlington, I recommend adding these neighborhoods to your list, but plan on holding for 7-10+ years to realize the full benefit.

Tax benefits aren’t limited to commercial or multi-family property, but also apply to single-family homes. In some cases, there may be financial benefits to making substantial improvements (a requirement for preferred tax treatment in OZs) to rental properties located in OZs and holding them for 10+ years to qualify for the maximum tax benefit. This may not work in Arlington because the cost of substantial improvements must be at least 100% of the adjusted basis (net cost) of the acquisition price within a 30-month period. Before considering this strategy for your next rental property acquisition, it’s critical that you speak with a tax professional well-versed in OZs.

I recommend Larry Bormel of Bormel, Grice & Huyett (LBormel@bormel-grice.com) for any tax-related OZ guidance.

Banning Smoking in Condos

Question: Do you have any updates to your previous columns about banning smoking in condos?

Answer: Banning smoking in condos is probably the most popular topic I’ve written about and it has given me visibility into how many communities have tried, are trying, or want to ban smoking in units and common areas.

 

Multiple Buildings Have Banned Smoking

As of 2019, only 12% of Arlingtonians smoke so it’s not surprising so many condo residents are interested in eliminating it from their buildings. Over the last few years, multiple condo buildings in Arlington have successfully amended their by-laws to ban smoking in units and on private balconies (common areas are relatively simple).

Hosting Info Session for Residents/Board Members

This fall, I’m organizing a meeting/info session for all interested condo communities (residents and/or Board members) to discuss strategies and lessons learned on banning smoking, misinformation surrounding smoking bans, and other topics I’ve gotten questions on over the years. We’ll have guests who were heavily involved in the smoking bans in their communities, including an attorney who led the charge in his building, and who has helped other communities get their process started.

Let Me Know If You’re Interested

If you’d like to be included, send me an email at Eli@EliResidential.com with your name, condo building, whether you’re a Board/Committee member or resident, and if your building has already tried or currently trying to ban smoking. I’m targeting a September meeting and hope to set a date and time by early August. Don’t worry, you won’t get signed up for a bunch of junk marketing emails from me if you reach out 🙂

 

I hope everybody has a great July 4!

What Stays When a House Sells?

Question: What is customary to leave behind when we sell our house? Is there anything we have to leave or take?

Answer: The answer to this question varies by state/region so it’s important to understand what’s customary or required in your area. Throughout the entire DMV (DC, MD, VA) it’s customary to leave/convey all appliances, anything fixed to the home (e.g. light and plumbing fixtures), and take electronics or anything not attached to the home (e.g. free-standing shelves).

Fortunately, the Northern Virginia sales contract has a section dedicated to what conveys, including a yes/no option for the 30+ items below:

 Around here, it’s customary for the items listed above to convey if they’re present, so if you intend to take any of them with you, such a washer/dryer, you should be sure to let your Agent and potential buyers know ahead of time.

In addition to some of the obvious conveyances like landscaping, carpet, and heating/cooling systems there are some not-so-obvious items that convey unless stated otherwise. Those include light fixtures (chandeliers), attached shelving, and wall mounts for electronics. The electronics (and wiring) themselves do not convey, so in practical terms – the TV comes with you but the wall-mount stays.

 

Other Tips/Grey Areas

  • You do not have to remove nails and other hardware used for hanging photos and other personal items. In fact, if you do remove them, you’ve technically changed the condition of the home and can be held responsible for patching and painting.

  • You are responsible for leaving the property “broom clean.” Broom clean is a bit of a grey area, but it surely means you do not have to hire a professional cleaning service or scrub the grout. Regardless of what the contract says, I always recommend sellers use an altered version of a common axiom and convey their home in the condition and cleanliness that they’d like a home to be conveyed to them.

  • You are also responsible for leaving the home “free and clear of trash and debris” which certainly means not leaving junk in the attic, clothes in the closet, or food in the refrigerator but it’s common (and generally appreciated) to leave behind extra matching paint, extra tiles or floor boards, and other items used to for replacement or repair. It’s generally a good idea to run these items by your buyer first, before leaving them behind, so you don’t get a call 30 minutes before closing to haul away a bunch of stuff they don’t want.
     

Price and contingencies generally command all of the attention in contract negotiations, but ensuring you’ve accurately documented what conveys also deserves your attention to avoid a major disagreement in the last hour. If you have any other questions about what’s customary when selling a home in Northern Virginia or the great DC Metro area, feel free to email me at Eli@EliResidential.com.

Landscaping Tips for Resale or Long-Term

Question: We’re hoping to do some major landscaping work over the next year and would like your thoughts on what we should focus on that will also be good for resale.

Answer: Now is a great time to start planning a landscaping redesign project for next year’s warm weather. If you’re preparing for a sale, small improvements to your yard can be just as valuable as updates to the inside of your home. I sat down with local landscaping expert and long-time Arlington resident, Jeff Minnich (you should see his yard!) of Jeff Minnich Garden Design, to discuss smart ways to boost the outdoor appeal of your home before listing it and talked about some of the landscaping trends he sees in Arlington.

 

High ROI Landscaping for Resale 

  • DAPPR: Define bed edges, Add fresh mulch, Pull the weeds, Prune the bushes, and Remove dead leaves

  • Lawn is King: Tall Fescue grass works the best in Arlington. The best time to seed your lawn is March – April and September. Water 1-2x per week. Give it about a month to grow.

  • Blast of Color: Azaleas are beautiful around here in April and May. Pansies are good options fall thru spring. Geraniums are great in the summer.

  • Grand Entrance: Your front door is a focal point – hit it with a fresh coat of paint or replace all together. Power wash your driveway and walkways. Flagstone aka Pennsylvania Bluestone offer great value if you need to replace or add a walkway (also perfect for patios).

  • Create a Scene: Help potential buyers picture themselves relaxing in their future yard by staging an area of your yard with chairs, table, umbrella, hammock, lemonade pitcher, etc.

  • De-clutter: Just like you removed personal items from inside the home, put things like statues and lawn gnomes away

  • Condos too: If you have some outdoor space (balcony, patio, etc) pot some plants (see Blast of Color) and stage it (see Create a Scene)

 

Landscaping for Personal Enjoyment (not everything needs to be done with ROI in mind)

Trends:

  • Outdoor living spaces are the biggest trend in Arlington. This includes kitchens, fire pits, entertainment areas, and lighting

  • Hydrangeas and other “old fashioned” shrubbery are back in style. Dogwoods and azaleas are always trendy in Arlington.

 

Approaching a landscaping project:

  • Step 1 Hardscaping: Install patios, walkways, living spaces, water features, etc. This can cost anywhere from $10,000-$25,000+

  • Step 2 Sheds and Storage: Establish space for these items next

  • Step 3 Plantings: Work from biggest (trees) to smallest (flowers)

  • A full project usually takes 1-3 months to complete

  • There’s no such thing as maintenance-free

 

Thank you Jeff for all of your great advice. To learn more about Jeff or see examples of his work, please visit his website (link) or send an email to jeff@minnichgardendesign.com. Jeff received his horticulture degree, with an emphasis on landscape design and nursery management, from Virginia Tech. His garden design/build firm, Jeff Minnich Garden Design, Inc. takes the client from initial design concept through the completed garden design. Enjoy the wonderful colors of his personal Arlington garden at 2268 N Upton St.

The National Media Is ______ About Arlington’s Housing Market

Question: Are you seeing a sharp increase in the asking prices of homes in Arlington, as reported by Realtor.com, since Amazon announced HQ2?

 

Answer: You guessed it, the national media is wrong about Arlington’s housing market (sort of). I don’t mean to jump on the Fake News bandwagon, but a few weeks ago Realtor.com ran a misleading article, that got a ton of coverage here, stating that the median asking price of homes in Arlington were up $110,000 or 17.3% from November 2018 to April 2019.

 

I was suspicious of their report because I’m not seeing that type of increase in the asking prices of homes across Arlington, so I dug into the numbers a bit more to understand why the data looks that way. Technically, they weren’t wrong/lying but like most reports about local markets, they chose the version of the data with the biggest numbers to generate the most clicks and reposts without regard to whether it’s an accurate representation of our market.

 

The Truth Is In The Details

The reason the median price is up so much isn’t because owners are actually asking that much more for homes, it’s because the number of homes listed from Jan-May 2019 vs Jan-May 2018 for under $700k is down nearly 27% compared to a decrease of just over 9% for homes over $700k. This has shifted the middle/median up substantially, but doesn’t actually indicate owners are asking more for their homes rather that there’s just less availability of homes under $700k.

 

For reference, the average listing price is up just 5.6%, to $782,156, in the first five months of 2019, a more accurate representation of the actual increase to asking prices.

 

The main reason for the drop-off in housing supply below $700k is the decrease in 1-2BR condos, as detailed in the chart below:

 

To highlight how easy it is to manipulate housing data to show the opposite of what Realtor.com claims to be happening in our market, I looked at three sub-markets to compare how median price is changing within similar housing stock. Looking at cross-sections of a local market with similar housing stock allows us to draw a more accurate picture of what’s actually happening, but even the chart below is misleading because it suggests asking prices are dropping this year, which isn’t true.

 

 

So What’s Actually Happening?

Over the last few months I have started to see asking prices increase. Occasionally I’ll see an asking price 15-20%+ higher than where it would’ve been last year, but mostly it seems asking prices for similar types of homes are up by 3-5% which is why you’re still seeing so many homes sell for above ask because most market values have increased by more than that (I’ve teed this one up perfectly for famed ARLnow commenter $4 Million to Heirs Annually).

Next month I’ll be working closely with Jeannette Chapman of George Mason University’s Fuller Institute to provide a detailed look at the Arlington housing market through the first half of 2019. I’m looking forward to collaborating with Jeannette on multiple columns to bring you more advanced market studies and opinions.

If you’d like a question answered in my weekly column or to set-up an in-person meeting to discuss local Real Estate, please send an email to Eli@EliResidential.com.

When Can I Negotiate?

Question: I’ve made a few offers on homes and am frustrated by the lack of negotiating I’m able to do. Are there things I can look for that are a sign that there’s room to negotiate price and terms? 

Answer: Most Buyers think that negotiating the terms of a home purchase is between them and the home owners, but in reality, most of the time you’re actually negotiating against other buyers. This is especially true when a home has been on the market for 30 days or less. You can make a perfect case for why a home is worth less than the owner is asking, but if there are other buyers willing to pay more and offer better supporting terms, you don’t even get a participation trophy. If you’re dead-set on negotiating the price and maintaining favorable contingencies, the best thing to look at is the number of days a home has been on the market.

Historical data supports the following:

  • If you want to purchase a home that has been on market for 10 days or less, you should be prepared to pay at or above the asking price

  • There is very little room to negotiate price in the first 30 days

  • Buyers gain negotiation leverage after a home has been listed for 30 days and it gets better each month after that

 

The last three months of closed sales in Arlington shows the following: 

  • Buyers who purchased a home within 10 days of it being listed for sale negotiated 1% or more off the asking price on just 7.9% of transactions

 

 

  • Buyers who purchased a home within 10 days of it being listed for sale paid 5% or more over the asking price on 18.7% of transactions

 

 

  

Use this data to make buying more strategic and less guesswork/frustration, but remember there is no hard rule that you can’t negotiate a price and terms from Day 1 or that a Seller is going to agree to discount their price after three months. Remember that each transaction is unique in that both parties have their own set of priorities/circumstances, each house comes with its own unique strengths and flaws, and all it takes is one or two Buyers being on vacation/busy for a deal to go from multiple escalating offers to one negotiable contract. Take some time to understand underlying market trends and probabilities and apply those to each individual transaction based on the information that is unique to it.

If you’d like to meet to discuss how data can be used to develop your purchase strategy, you can email me at Eli@EliResidential.com to schedule a time to meet.

Is Arlington Too Expensive?

Question: How do prices in the Arlington housing market compare to prices in neighboring communities?

Answer: I hope everybody had a great Memorial Day Weekend! You may have read ARLnow’s post last week that the median price of a home in Arlington is up by $100,000 or 17% this year and if you’re in the market to buy a home, this is alarming news. Arlington and Alexandria have quickly gotten too expensive for many buyers since Amazon announced plans to move its second headquarters to National Landing, so I thought I’d share how prices in other nearby communities compare to Arlington’s prices. The following data is based on sales going back to January 2018.

Annandale: I think Annandale is one of the best investments in Northern VA over the next 5-10 years and I encourage buyers who don’t need easy Metro access and who are looking for value, proximity to DC, and appreciation potential to strongly consider it.

Arlington: I don’t think we’ll see double-digit appreciation in Arlington after this year, but I do expect steady growth over the next 8-10 years, with the exception of any years slowed down by a market downturn.

Burke: Burke is popular for its combination of highly rated schools, VRE access, quiet residential neighborhoods, and much home lower prices. Despite its distance from Arlington, the Amazon-effect is being felt here too; I’ve run into multiple offers and escalating prices over the last couple of months on properties that normally would have sat on the market for weeks or months.

Mclean: Host to many of Northern Virginia’s most expensive homes as well as its top-rated public schools, the average price of a townhouse or single-family home in Mclean is higher than Arlington, but with a lower $/sqft your dollar usually goes further. Lot sizes also increase significantly over the average Arlington lot.

Vienna: Vienna is more Metro accessible than Mclean, Burke, and Annandale, most of the schools have above-average ratings, and there’s a great downtown area along Maple Ave. The downside for many commuters is the traffic along 66. Like Arlington, Vienna has a diverse housing inventory so there’s a good chance you’ll find what you’re looking for at a significant discount from Arlington and Mclean.

If you’re in the market for a home and struggling with the recent double-digit increase in prices in Arlington and Alexandria, I’d be happy to help you find other communities in Northern VA, DC, or MD that will fit your budget. Send me an email to Eli@EliResidential.com to schedule time to meet.