Once one gets to Loudoun County, the investment becomes more subject to the market than location because there is a tremendous amount of employment and GROWTH in employment in Loudoun County. Not so dependent on commuting to DC. Further, growth in Loudoun County has held steady at 5-8% for the past 8 years. Relocating home buyers are finding good opportunities in Loudoun County these days, especially with new homes.
As a real estate broker, I invested in Loudoun County in 1995 and haven't regretted it for one minute. There are less congested areas than Ashburn. There are VERY good opportunities in Purcellville, Lovettsville, Round Hill.
For pricing, there are some very good opportunities for pre-construction in Prince William County. But, the prices are so close, I believe the investment potential is better in Loudoun County.
Actually, development in Ashburn has slowed tremendously and has been fairly quiet since 2006. There are still lots which are left over from unfinished projects, but almost all of them are being wrapped up as we speak.
Some builders have stopped building completely and/or are even pulling projects. For example, Beazer Homes was supposed to start Phase 2 in Brambleton (community within Ashburn) this year, but they pulled it and are sitting on it for at least 2 years. Other builders and projects such as the Del Webb 55+ community in Ashburn Village are wrapping up their first phase and then they're postponing Phase 2 or 3 for at least a few years.
In reality, Ashburn is very stable at the moment - 554 resale properties for sale as of today (7/10/07) with 100-120 properties that go under contract per month every month regardless of market conditions. That equals about a 5 month supply - a very balanced, steady and reasonable market for both buyers and sellers.
For further Loudoun County real estate stats, data, information and resources, check out http://www.LoudounStats.com. It may come in handy...
All of that said, if you are buying into a high market -- you are also selling your house into a high (unless you are moving overseas or far away). So dont' sweat "price stability" too much... you have to live somewhere. But if you must have price stability, you have to go closer in where land is at a premium (typically indicated by people rebuilding houses rather than building new developments), and this tends to be Arlington, Falls Church and other "inside" the Beltway areas.
My $.05 only and worth as much.
Finally Ashburn is NOT a fabulous area for price accumulation. Since 1900 residential real estate has returned about 1% year... until the last 10 years when we've had "free" credit. While I too hope for continued price accumulation, you are seeing signs that the market is cooling and returning to rationality.
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There is a wide variety of market conditions in Northern VA. In North Springfield inventory is up 40%. In Arlington we're getting 16% more transactions per month compared to 2006 and prices are much more stable. Here are a couple articles I've written on the matter: