David, Home Buyer in Ithaca, NY

I am considering a job offer from the federal government. Looking at listings on Trulia for Northern VA (the

Asked by David, Ithaca, NY Fri Apr 4, 2008

District seems out of the question), I'm experiencing sticker shock (currently live in upstate NY). Is there any hope of finding a two bedroom condo or townhouse within a 30 minute commute of Capitol Hill? Price limit is $400K.

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As you've gotten in the previous answers, there are plenty of options for you in the Northern VA area that would meet you basic criteria. What you may want to do is take the time to come up with a list of the other things you are looking for in your next place. Be it walking distance to the Metro station, restaurants, or dog park, do you need a garage space, do want to be in the middle of nightlife mix or are you looking for something a little quieter. Once you've expanded your criteria, it should help you refine your search so that you can then make the rent/purchase decision.

Good luck and feel free to drop us an email if you have any additional questions,

AJ Heidmann, ABR, CRS, e-PRO
Cell 703-474-1260 Fax 703-518-8314
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Old Town Alexandria
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Aug 4, 2008
Don't use Trulia to do a home search. They do NOT currently have the MLS, so you will only see 70% of homes.
The link below will explain exactly why.

I agree with Ashley, unless you really know where you want to live, don't rush into a home purchase. A year from now, there will still be homes for sale.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Aug 4, 2008
Sure. That really isn't a problem at all. There are quite a few properties in Arlington, Alexandria, and the closer-in parts of Fairfax County available at $400,000 or less. I just did a search for 2+ beds, 2+ baths, under $400,000 in Arlington and came up with 64 listings. Some of them are 3 beds or more. And, if you like to gamble, some are even bank-owned or short sale single family homes.

In Alexandria (including parts of Fairfax County with an Alexandria mailing address), there are 653 listings. Too many? How about 3+ bed, 2+bath for under $350,000? There are 271 of those. How about 3+bed, 2+bath for under $275,000? There are 102 of those.

You shouldn't have any problem at all.

By the way, how is Ithaca doing? I went to school there (Ithaca College, not Cornell) quite a few years ago. I loved the fall, driving around the lake. I wasn't so crazy about the winters, though!

Hope that helps.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Apr 4, 2008
Don Tepper, Real Estate Pro in Burke, VA
Higher home prices aren't the only big change awaiting you! Having spent a fair amount of time in the Finger Lakes region myself, I can say that the DC metro area is significantly less bucolic. But, it does have its advantages and will grow on you.
In any case, yes there are plenty of 2 br options for less than $400 in and around DC, on both sides of the river. I think even the thirty minute commute is possible, as long as you realize an occasional 45 minute or more commute is likely, should there even be the slightest sniff of snow, etc. The feds are pretty good about allowing flexible schedules, which allows some to arrange their commute to minimize lost time.
I'd be happy to help you find a place in Virginia.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Apr 4, 2008
I have lived in Arlington for 23 years and in the DC area for 43 -- I came here in 1964 to attend college at GWU. Yes, you can find what you want at that price in Arlington, which has excellent schools. I lived in Fairlington Villages for a few years. They were originally built WWII era, so they are SOLID (although I could hear the small children in the adjacent wall screaming when they were put to bed), are brick on all sides. They are town house style with small back yard patios, plenty of green space, several small community pools. Fairlington has about 14 different style "regular apts." that sit one atop the other. There are 6 villages, a few thousand units, with many rental units by the individual owners. Fairlington is convenient to bus lines that take you to the Pentagon, where you catch the Metro to Capitol Hill.

You DON"T want to drive to work, even if you get "free" parking with your Capitol Hill job (no hope of that parking space if you work on the Senate side, some hope if you are working on the House side).

If you have/plan to have children, Arlington's schools are THE BEST. No racial problems, only 20,000 children in the school system. Fairfax County has over 160,000 KIDS in the school system. Somehow, Arlington never runs short of money (unlike Fairfax), so in hard economic times, the schools don't really "cut back." Services are MARVELOUS here in the "People's Republic of Arlington," where things are done by consensus -- known as "the Arlington Way," we talk it to death over a period of several years of study.

Yes, welcome to sticker shock, but rents are as bad -- expect to pay over $2,000 for a 2 BR 2 BA new rental apt. in Arlington which isn't even walking distance to Metro. Many new buildings were built with the intention that they'd be sold as condos, but the market has soured, so they are rental and LOVELY. But, you pay for parking, all utilities, etc., and have a GORGEOUS exercise room, party room, 24 hr. attended front desk, etc.

Remember the 3 most important words in real estate: "LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION." There is always a market for Arlington properties, but the further out you go, the harder it is to sell.

When you say "30 min." you mean RUSH HOUR. My husband's office mates HOWLED when a new hire, a political appointee, who had househunted ONE WEEKEND came in on a Monday and reported that he'd bought a house "only 15 min. from the office!!" Sure, when he did the drive on SUNDAY MORNING, but otherwise, on a DRY WEEKDAY, the drive took well over an hour. His wife wanted a place with room for horses.

The commute killed him and he left after a year.

There isn't a "bad neighborhood" in Arlington and there isn't a less expensive one either, unfortunately. Things used to be cheaper in South Arlington (on the other side of Rt. 50, the dividing line between north and south).

Well priced homes sell FAST -- sometimes before the first open house.

Advice: Choose a FULL TIME realtor, tell them EXACTLY what you want. Think SERIOUSLY about renting for a year, unless you think your boss won't lose the 2012 election.

I have owned a condo in the District for 34 years -- hundred year old bldg, renovated in 1976, 704 sq. ft., one bedroom plus den, purchased in 1977 for $42,000, in a PLAIN JANE no elevator 3 story bldg. whose only amenity is the coin operated machines in the laundry room. NO JOKE. My unit is on the first floor. Current assessment: $367,000. No nighttime street parking, 20 min. walk to Metro. Public schools are not great. Lovely neighborhood, but how much time does anyone spend walking around the "hood?" And, in this EXCELLENT NEIGHBORHOOD, CRIME is a problem -- muggers figure wealthy people carry money -- we don't, we carry credit cards!!

Good luck. Now you will find out why Federal govt. salaries are allegedly so "high." Wait until you buy groceries, the food prices are out of sight because there is no competition -- only 2 grocery store chains!!

I love it here (why else would I have remained for 47 years?). Mild winters, people from everywhere around the country and internationally as well. Extremely well educated. Interested in current events, etc.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 4, 2011

...Definitely there will be possibilities for you.

The best way for you to remain anonymous and get a flavor of products and prices is to go to my site http://www.arlingtonhouses.com and look at properties. You will be able to see the entire Washington Metro area market and also check out community information, etc. All information is current and complete.

Once you have done your due diligence and you are ready for someone to make the process easier for you, contact me at carol@arlingtonhouses.com or 703-568-1100. With my many years of experience I can lead you through the maze, cull through the possibilities and make the process downright enjoyable.

Carol Temple
#1 Agent - Arlington, Virginia Office
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Aug 23, 2008
You will find many many choices, some of them fairly upscale, in that price range. I'd recommend Arlington, Crystal City, and Alexandria as starting points. I strong urge you to pick an agent to help you on this search. After you've settled on an agent, trust their expert advice rather than randomly searching. If you know what you want and how much you can spend, I can find it quickly. The hard part for me, is knowing what you want. If you are from Uptstate NY I think you might like Belle View or River Towers, just outside Old Town Alexandria. This is just about 30 minutes to Capitol Hill in rush hour.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Aug 23, 2008
You can run listings on my web site at http://www.VickyChrisner.com - click on home search on the home page. I've been showing many condos which might meet your requirements. Watch the condo fees, though - there's another opportunity for sticker shock.

Have you been prequalified? I have a great lender - Cindy Fox (check Service Providers page of my web site - scroll to Preferred Lenders, she's with SunTrust).

Let me know if I can help! 703-669-3142
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Aug 11, 2008
Hi David,

First, search the local MLS using http://www.HomesDatabase.com. This is the public face of the local MLS and has everything that's available on the market. If you're having reservations about purchasing right now, you can always rent for a while until you've lived in and become familiar with the area. I do sales as well as rentals, and will be happy to help you no matter what you decide to do.

If there's anything else I can do to help, please just let me know. Drop me a line at TinyVarner@gmail.com, and I'll be happy to answer any questions or help out however I can.

Web Reference: http://www.TinyVarner.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Aug 11, 2008
Hi there.
Lots of good advice here, but be careful about your requirement of a 30 minute commute.
I live in North Old Town and work at the Pentagon. It takes me about 12 minutes to drive to work. (It is about a 5 mile trip). When I go to capital hill, (a 7 mile trip or so), it takes me about 30 minutes.

Be sure to ask about traffic on 395/US Route 1/ Gw Parkway (the fastest way to go from VA to the district) when looking at homes.

Like others said, with a 400K price range, there are hundreds of condos/townhomes that are within your ragne. But, although they may be "next to DC", your commute time might be longer than 30 minutes...

Good luck...
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 14, 2008
Sorry about the sticker shock, but it is part of the reality in this area. That being said, there are a lot of great options within 30 minutes of DC. One that comes to mind immediately is Fairlington, a community right off of 395 in Arlington. Some of my clients just closed on a 3 level, 2 bedroom townhouse there for $405K. Alexandria is definitely a great option as well. Also, there are some 2 bedroom condos with a little less space in the city proper that might work. What are you looking for beyond 2 bedxrooms and price? For example, do you need to be close to a metro? Do you require parking? Do you have (or want) a pet? Those may seem like little details, but they are big factors you'll want to consider in this area.

If I can help you in any way, let me know! Good luck with the job search and your possible move.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 7, 2008
David did you check Maryland? My sister in law lives in Maryland and she is right outside of the District. You should have no problem there. I know how much her home is worth and while yes they are a bit higher in relation to here in NC you can definitely find something in your price range. Get yourself a local realtor in each area to look for you and send you listing that match your criteria.

If you need a referral to a top agent in either area just drop me a line and let me know I can get someone to email or call you with just information if you like.

Larry Story
Coldwell Banker Triad
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Apr 4, 2008
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