With concerns of a recession, should I hold off on buying a townhouse in the falls church/ vienna area? ...

Asked by Jennifer Snyder, 22043 Tue Jan 8, 2008

Does anyone know when home values will begin to increase? I intend to leave the area after 5-7 yrs.

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Don Tepper, Agent, Burke, VA
Tue Jan 8, 2008
No one knows when home values will begin to increase; run quickly from anyone who claims to.

However, I do know that area well. I lived in a townhouse in West Falls Church (across from the Giant and near the VFW Hall, if you know that area) and in a house in 22046, walking distance to the West Falls Church Metro.

So, let me give you my takes on the macro, intermediate, and micro analysis regarding your question.

Macro: Big picture: Again, no crystal ball, but I don't expect things to "get better" for a couple of years. The economy looks like it's going into a recession; there are still billions of dollars with of ARMS getting ready to reset; some other major lenders are going to go under (as Danilo suggests in his blog), unemployment nationwide is up, buyer confidence is weak, a lot of the nation's resources are being used in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (not commenting on whether we should be there; just that we are, and it costs a lot of money which, if it weren't spent there, might be used for more economically productive things), energy costs are high...and on and on. So, big picture: declining or flat market for several more years.

Intermediate view: The Washington, D.C., area: Quite strong. BRAC is shifting military around, but is an overall plus, some as close as Springfield--a 10 minute drive on the Beltway from Falls Church. The presidential elections generally help the real estate market in the DC area, even without a change in Administration. But this time, even if the Republicans remain in power, there will be a lot of turnover...even more if the Democrats win, as it looks like they may. Plus, major employers in the DC area include the federal government, which provides a very stable employment base, and trade/professional associations, which also are quite stable. So, generally, the DC area is more resistant to downtrends than some other areas of the country.

Micro view: Falls Church/Vienna. It's a great area: Good for commuting into DC...or to the Tysons area...or even out to Reston. It's got good transportation: Metro runs along 66 through West Falls Church, Merrifield, to Vienna. Then there's 66 itself, plus the Beltway. True, they get jammed at times, but it's a heck of a lot better than Gainesville! Fairfax County has very good schools. (Whoops! As a Realtor, I don't know if I can say that. Let's try: A number of independent studies have ranked Fairfax County schools near the top.) Meanwhile, the entire Tysons Corner area is being redone and expanded. Lots of office buildings, mixed use buildings, and entertainment. Metro is going to extend the line from West Falls Church to Tyson's and beyond to Reston. UVA and Virginia Tech have a satellite school near the West Falls Church Metro. A little bit farther out, in Fairfax, George Mason is becoming a very serious university, and is expanding greatly.

So, what's that all mean? While it's totally up to you, if you're reasonably confident you'll be around for 6-7 years, and buy carefully (the right property at the right price), I'd strongly suggest you consider buying. Even 4-6 years, possibly. On the other hand, it'd be dicey under 4 years.

Hope that helps.

--Don
Don@Solutions3DHome.com
2 votes
Danilo Bogda…, Agent, Reston, VA
Tue Jan 8, 2008
Unfortunately, none of us have a crystal ball. We can all speculate, but who knows who's going to be correct. It could easily be a few years before they start going up again. In the mean time, the values may (or may not) continue to go down. With foreclosures on the rise, the latter may very well be the case. But then again, the Washington, DC metro area has an incredibly strong economy, which helps local real estate values tremendously.

Some things to consider:

If you are buying a home to live in long(er) term such as 5+ years, then you're buying a "home", not a short-term investment and you should be alright. Property values always go up eventually and it's one of the safest long-term investments you can make.

If you're going to live there for less than 5 years, then you're treating real estate as a short-term investment and you may or may not want to buy something now.

For my opinion, check out this blog post, which I just wrote today - http://realdiablog.typepad.com/weblog/2008/01/the-bottom-of-t.html
Web Reference:  http://www.LoudounStats.com
1 vote
Jay Hurst, Agent, McLean, VA
Sun Jan 13, 2008
Quick answer is: If you plan to hold or live in the property for over 5 years then in general the buyer's market has never been as good. Rates are very low - I think the lowest they have been was around 5.15 percent, so we are on the bottom. Forget about flipping a home unless you can sit on it for a while.
Vienna is pretty much a great overall area. Falls Church has almost a block by block sense of value. Schools may play a part, so do your research if you have children.
Good luck. There is so much to choose from today!
Web Reference:  http://talleyhursthomes.com
0 votes
James Downing, Agent, Dunedin, FL
Tue Jan 8, 2008
As I advise most of my clients; if you plan to live in a home 2-4 years - renting (even though rent costs are increasing) may be a better oprion. If you are looking to live for 5 years plus - often a combination of equity building; tax benefits and living in "YOUR" home - outweighs renting. DC has a strong economy - eventualallyMetro expansion will happen - government is NOT getting smaller - no matter who becomes the nest President.
0 votes
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