Are townhouses safe investments? Specifically, I'm looking in the Crofton/Odenton(Piney Orchard) area

Asked by Chris Dobbins, Crofton, MD Sun Dec 16, 2007

first time homebuyer, great FICO score, great financing (30-year fixed). If I can wait patiently and get what I feel is a good deal on a place (looking to spend around $350K, and am going to stay put for at least 5 years), are they safe? Or could they potentially leave me with negative equity in 5 years? I know I could take a short-term hit, but does anyone see it as a bad investment? I need a garage and cannot quite afford SFHs in the area.

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Chris Dobbins, Home Buyer, Crofton, MD
Tue Dec 18, 2007
Mansur-

Thank you for the two listings... I have actually looked at that Crofton SFH for $325K, and it is a MESS. A great fixer-upper opportunity, but I am not sure I am ready to take that on as my first home. Perhaps there are many that would, but I know in my heart I am not one of them.

Don't get me wrong, I am mechanically and home-repair(edly) gifted. I've helped my girlfriend completely renovate her townhouse, new bathrooms, tile, took out a wall, painted top to bottom, etc. But, given my daily schedule and my desire to buy a place to "live" in, I don't feel ready for a project home as my first purchase.

I'm sure there are a ton of buyers out there that would drool over a home like that, though. Thank you for actually taking the time to look that up for me, though. I truly appreciate the effort.
1 vote
Chris Dobbins, Home Buyer, Crofton, MD
Tue Dec 18, 2007
Well, it will certainly be more expensive month-to-month to purchase, as I pay a mere $900/month in rent right now, and I'm looking at $2500-2700/month after PITI for $350K+, but I will take home approx $500 extra monthly, so I will be taking on an extra $1100-1300 a month in real added expenses.

That being said, I need a garage. It is a requirement for me, and I do not have one right now. Taking on the extra financial burden is worth it to me because as a single person earning $130K plus, taking only their standard deduction + max 401(k) allowance, I get murdered in taxes. I also own nothing but my car and my retirement accounts.... I have promised myself that I would be a homeowner by 30, and I just turned 28, so this is something that I feel I need to do for myself, and given recent dramatic changes in the market that have given buyers the opportunity to FINALLY get their foot in the door, I really feel that buying now (or in the near future) is the right decision for me. For the years after I graduated college while housing prices were surging at rediculous rates, I could never quite earn enough or save enough to "get in" (at least I thought so, but in 20/20 hindsight I should have bought a crummy studio in '02 and held onto it to flip it for profit). Now I see that wall has been toppled, and I can finally purchase a home that I could really see myself living happily in.

I just am a little gunshy with all these doomsday predictors... the last thing I want is for the biggest financial decision I have ever made to turn into somthing that ruins me, when I otherwise am on the right path to a financially stable, happy, healthy life.
1 vote
Chris Dobbins, Home Buyer, Crofton, MD
Mon Dec 17, 2007
Thank you for all of your replies. The reason I've chosen Crofton/Piney Orchard is:
a) Proximity to work
b) I like the area (I currently rent in Crofton)
c) Future growth potential (BRAC, Possible Green Line extension, absence of recent overbuilding unlike other areas)
d) Value/Dollar
e) Location- equidistant to Annapolis, Baltimore, DC
f) Schools- AA county schools are pretty good, comparatively. I checked the aacps website and checked out the elem, middle, and high schools for the townhouses i'm interested in, no red flags.

I guess my question about Townhomes vs. SFHs is just that I have a couple of people (non-realestate proffessionals) that are suggesting to me that townhouses are poor investments and will cap out in value, I won't be able to sell when I do eventually move, I won't earn any equity, etc. etc. is there any logic to that argument?
1 vote
Brian Ferry, , Crofton, MD
Fri Apr 15, 2011
Townhomes are as safe as detached homes within the same type of qualifications. You have to ask how stable is the neigborhood. Is there a lot of turnover, lots of rentals, that means more people defaulting on mortgages and a higher rate of declining property values. This applies to th's as well. But it also means that you can pick up very nice properties at good prices now, that maybe 5 years ago you could not afford.
0 votes
Chris Dobbins, Home Buyer, Crofton, MD
Thu Jul 16, 2009
Following up- I wound up buying a townhouse in Walden backing to the golf course in January of 2008, and am very happy with my decision. I had secured a 5.875 30-year fixed (no points) when I purchased but just recently refi'd at 4.875 30-year fixed (.25 point).

I plan on staying for a while and have made several improvements to the house, including expanding the master bath in size, installing heated floors, walk-in shower, replacing the decking and fence in the backyard, and new paint throughout the house.

I love my house and the people in this area are great- my neighbors are simply the best folks I've lived around and would recommend this area to anyone looking for a move.
0 votes
Marcie Shea, , Crofton, MD
Sat Mar 22, 2008
Right now is the best time to buy especially Crofton,Odenton,Gambrills area...I have been an agent in this area in 1977 and the desire for this area has only gone up..having worked in all markets I can tell you this is not the first or even the worst the worst was in 1980 when Interested rates were 17 and 18 %..rates are down prices are down ..you have easy commute to Baltimore and Wash.,D.C. pluse great amenites 2 golf courses, pools , ice arena , YOU will be sorry if you wait I can't say more
Web Reference:  http://www.teamshea.com
0 votes
Cindy Maves, Agent, Fort Myers, FL
Mon Dec 17, 2007
Hi Chris:
One of the things that can make buying your first home a little more stress is that people tend to give their opinion and they can be vastly different. It seems to me you have made a list of some fairly good reasons why the Piney Orchard is a good place to be buying a home. You have a price range to work in,now the next step is to find the best deal in a garage townhome.Real Estate typically runs in cycles. Six years ago townhouses were selling quickly. Now they are taking longer to sell because there are more of them on the market.
Paying rent is basically paying someone else mortage. And while your mortage payment will be higher than rent there are tax benefits to consider.
Have you enrolled in a first-time home buyers class?
Are you working with a buyer agent?
A good buyers agent can help to address your concerns and negotiate the best deal for you.
Web Reference:  http://www.northropteam.com
0 votes
Bill Wootan's…, , Waldorf, MD
Mon Dec 17, 2007
As in amy real estate investment, its location, location, etc! You could come a few miles South of Crofton/Bowie area into Waldorf (Charles County) and find a SFH with garage in the price range you are seeking - and NOW IS THE TIME TO BUY! Even Donald Trump says it is the time to buy!
Web Reference:  http://www.billwootan.com
0 votes
Marvin EMarv…, Agent,
Sun Dec 16, 2007
While no one can predict with absolute certainty that a specific home will depreciate. In general, homes do appreciate and given the fact that there is continued growth in the area (because of BRAC and other factors) there is a pretty good chance that your home will appreciate.

So you shouldn't necessarily only look at your home as an investment since you plan on living there at least 5 years. You can surely get a great deal if you buy something that needs a little work since most buyers do not want to fix anything. (However, this is not for the faint of heart.) But it really depends on what more specifically you are looking for? Are you looking for a shorter commute? Are schools a factor? Do you want to stay away from hustle and bustle? How soon are you looking to buy?

FYI, in Piney Orchard, right now you have many townhomes to choose from in Piney Orchard (39 active listings to be exact) ranging from 242.5k to 470k (which has been on the market over 260 days). 4 are under contract and 25 have sold in the last 4 months ranging from 263k-489k.

Since there are many homes on the market, take a look at many of them. See what your options are. If you are not deadset on Piney Orchard, you may want to take a look at other areas. For example, I just sold a SFH (I bought and remodeled) right next to Catonsville, but in Baltimore City for $260K (see http://www.MyNextDreamHouse.com).

You may also consider renting to take a look around in the market until you come across your great deal. (I actually have a SFH I own available for rent for less than it would cost to buy in the Villages of Dorchester in Hanover. See http://www.hanovermarylandexecutivehouse.com/ for more details.)

In any case, a good agent could help you narrow down your choices.
Web Reference:  http://ww.eMarv.com
0 votes
LUCRETIA HAR…, , Maryland
Sun Dec 16, 2007
HI, CHRIS DOBBINS
In this area it is a buyers market and you should fine a great first home at a bargin price. The townhomes range in price from $205,000 to $499,900. According to the MLS data there are 277 townhomes, duplexs, and Garden style type of properties active. The properties have been on the market from 0 to 371 days. I'm confident that you will find a bargin and owning your own home is most never a bad investment.
Thank You
Lucretia
0 votes
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