We're at or very near the bottom of the real estate market here in Northern VA and prices should remain flat/go sideways for several years before starting to appreciate once again.
A 3 year time frame is right around the boundary for this question about ownership, as the metro DC area is better insulated against price declines due to the stabilizing effect of the Federal government. To better answer this question, it would be very helpful to better know what your family is looking for. We find that many times that people coming from lower cost areas have expectations that don't mess with the local market, which is one of the higher cost metropolitan living areas. If you can provide a bit more info about what you want in a home, employment, and the like it would be much easier to provide good information.