Buying a Home

Capitol Welcome to Washington, DC!

No doubt you’re excited about what the next few years hold.  Washington, DC, Northern Virginia, and suburban Maryland are fantastic places to live, as you will soon discover.  Obviously there are many factors to consider in choosing a new neighborhood: schools, taxes, amenities, and lifestyle just to name a few. There are lots of great places to live in DC, MD and VA. Here are a few other tips to get you started:

First, decide whether to rent or buy.

If you’re looking for rental resources, check out my web page here. But you might consider buying: prices are lower than they’ve been in years, interest rates are low, and opportunities abound. Washington, DC, and Arlington were just named two of the top ten places to live in a recession, and the bailouts are expected to be a boon to our local economy. This area is often pegged to be one of the first to “recover” and prices are expected to rise in the next two years.

 

If you’re thinking of buying in the District and meet certain income requirements, you’ll be entitled to a $5000 tax credit! This might also be a good opportunity for you to take advantage of the $8000 first time buyer extension or new $6500 repeat buyer credit.

Carefully consider your commute time in choosing where to live.

Most transferees to our area are shocked by the commute time—it can easily be 30 minutes to go just 3 or 4 miles, so don’t just look at a map and decide “it’s not that far.” This area’s congestion is among the worst in the nation. Our public transportation system is very good though; our subway system (known as Metro) is fantastic, though very expensive to live near. And don’t forget VRE and MARC trains. If you’re willing to commute by rail, you can get a lot more for your housing dollar. Commute times also vary widely based on whether you choose to live in the District proper, Maryland, or Virginia.

Get ready for sticker shock.

Despite the national downturn in housing, prices in the Washington, DC, area have held up much better than other parts of the country, especially in close-in areas with under-an-hour commute times or along a metro line. For example, a one bedroom condo in North Arlington along the orange line will run you in the $300s. But there’s some good news: there are definitely some pockets of under-valued homes right now—areas that were hit disproportionately hard by foreclosures and short sales in recent years, and in my opinion are primed for a comeback due to their proximity to public transportation and/or area demographic and employment trends. Keep in mind, though, that foreclosures and short sales, while attractive in terms of pricing, come with a host of other challenges that may be particularly difficult for someone on a tight timeline.

We’d love to help you get to know the area and find a home.  Contact us with questions about the area or to discuss neighborhoods that may work for you.