Continuing to examine and hold a lively discussion of the Northern Virginia Real Estate market.
Please post your local house search updates, MLS finds, on-topic ideas, and links here.
Out of curiosity has anyone hear done any research on price/sqft. I am curious on whether larger houses or smaller houses usually have higher price/sqft. I know in theory this metric is supposed to make house size less relevant, but I can think of reasons why either larger or smaller houses would normally be higher. e.g. Larger houses tend to have nicer finishes, but land value contributes a higher percentage of the price for small houses.So I was curious if anyone had looked into this before.
Also wow on the unemployment report. Only 11K jobs lost and unemployment went from 10.2% down to 10%. It looks like we may start to gain jobs as soon as this month if Holiday sales are strong. Although the unemployment rate will likely tick up as people become encouraged about their chances of getting a job and reenter the labor force. http://finance.yahoo.com/news/US-nonfarm-payrolls-fall-by-rb-3235047663.html?x=0
housebuyer,You are setting yourself up for predictable criticism by posting positive economic news. I've heard rumblings, but expect to start hearing a lot of talk about a double dip recession pick up on this board as the economy improves.
This is almost not believable....among the fifteen most affluent communities, nearly half - 7 out of 15 - were located in Virginia and Maryland and were located in the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Area...Using BEA data, instead of the Census data in the article, household income numbers are, at minimum, 35% more.With 2.5 people per household and 1 million people in Fairfax County, that's 400,000 households. Take the Census number of $107k and tack on another 35%, you get 200,000 households bringing in more than $144,000 in Fairfax County alone. Is it really a wonder why prices are so high?Please challenge my math.
housebuyer,cost to build per square foot goes down with increasing house size....But yeah, I'm not sure how one would test what's actually going on in the market right now given how few listings post their square footage even post-sale. Does this vary by county? Maybe some county near here requires it to be posted with the transaction?That's awesome news!!! I was expecting a slight uptick to maybe 10.3% based on the weekly unemployment numbers. Back down to 10%, that's the right direction to be going in... NoVa leads the way, we've been going in the right direction since what, July?
I am ok if I hear rumblings. Most of the board said I was crazy when I predicted CS would go positive the month that it did. I have always said how I think the economy will do and people can chose whether to listen or ignore my advice. Although my comment is not short term bullish on the unemployment rate. I do think the labor force will grow over until March pushing the unemployment rate up into the 10.7 range. I also do not think that a strong economy will help the housing market.If you look at interest rates the whole yield curve is up about 10 bps, which if it continues will hurt people with ARMs and people trying to buy houses. I still CS will be basically flat for the upcoming report before trending back down a an additional ~5% and staying flat for several years after that.
It's not time to sound the "all clear" yet if you look at the fabulous CR graph of employment in the previous recessions: CRclick on the second graph.Other recessions have had flattenings or minor upturns early in a long extended phase of high unemplyment. But if the worst we can expect is that we're entering a flat period, that's still better than dropping off a cliff like we were until a few months ago.
Cara-I agree building cost goes down as size increases, because builders now basically put expensive features in all new houses so the insides are somewhat comparable. The problem is around here a small house generally means something from the 1970s vs. a bigger house generally means something from the last 10 years with more updated finishes.
housebuyer,I thought the builder thing was purely a surface area to volume question. Surfaces are what cost money, but surfaces go as R-squared, while volume goes as R-cubed. But yes, confounding figuring out what the "real" relationship is, is the generality that smaller houses tend to be older. Why not pick a small range of square footages and compare houses of different ages then? See how that goes, and then pick houses of a given age and check price per square foot? The problem remains, how do you compile such a dataset?Out in the boonies, the small houses were less likely to get upgraded than the larger homes. But in say Arlington, most everything's been decked out (from the things people post here).
Cara-I agree that for builders its a surface area to volume thing. Plus there are a lot of fixed costs for building a place including getting permits, power, water... Which all make it cheaper/sqft to build bigger houses.As you said the problem is figuring out a database, because you need an area like Arlington where the finishes are nice on all sized houses. The problem with Arlington is the land is so expensive when buying a small house you are mostly paying for the land and the fact that if you wanted to you could make a big house on the land.
housebuyer,well, if you're looking instead for a neighborhood where none of the houses have been updated and the land value is smaller or similar sized to the house value I bet you could find that. Maybe somewhere in PG County?
Cara, anecdotally speaking, I would not say *everything* in Arlington is decked out -- the fact that many are, but others are not, is one reason why there is so much variability in house value of what appears to be similarly sized houses. But there are many houses that have been updated and people typically choose expensive finishes, since they are already paying a ton for the land. The updating (both $ and quality/taste) is important to account for, not only in comparing between houses in the same neighborhood, but also when comparing across time or across neighborhoods.The marginal price of square footage tends to go down as the house increases in size in part because some of the costs are fixed regardless of size or don't vary proportionately (e.g., permits, architect fees). In the close-in suburbs and maybe everywhere within commuting distance to DC, the land may cost essentially the same whether you are putting a 2000 square foot house on it or a 5000 square foot house (subject to zoning restrictions). So if (for example) $500K of land has to be added into the calculation, it is going to greatly increase the cost per square foot for the smaller house relative to the larger one. This is even more pronounced when you are calculating price/sqft of the typical older house, e.g., a 1600 square foot 1940's house in Arlington is going to have a very high price per square foot because the land cost is spread over such a small # of square feet. For these reasons, it's really limited as a metric around here, but makes a lot of sense in a lot of parts of the country, or when you are comparing essentially similar houses in the same neighborhood.
Sorry, housebuyer, appears great minds were thinking alike, and typing at the same time.
Ace-No problem. Its always good to see when other people agree with your ideas :)
housebuyer: I like think of the lot as the intercept and square footage as the slope. What that means is that for a given neighborhood that has houses of varying sizes, you'd expect price:sqft not to be constant (since it is confounded for the price of the lot), and this should be worse in place with high land prices (e.g. NoVA) compared to places with cheap land prices (e.g. Oklahoma).For example, let's pretend that we have two houses (2000 sqft and 4000 sqft) and two separate plots of land (Fairfax and Tulsa).Fairfax = $500kTulsa = $50k2000 sqft house = $200k4000 sqft house = $400kThe price per square feet would be:Fairfax2000 sqft = $700k = $350 sq/ft (1.5x)4000 sqft = $900k = $225 sq/ftTulsa2000 sqft = $250k = $125 sq/ft (1.1x)4000 sqft = $450k = $112 sq/ftSo, price per square foot would probably be a less useful metric in places with high land prices.
housebuyer: on top of it, Cara pointed out that the cost of square footage doesn't increase linearly, which mucks up the metric even more.
Ace,but couldn't you/shouldn't you subtract off the cost of the assessed land value before doing the cost per square foot comparison?Of course it all depends on why housebuyer wants to know the answer to this question. Or really, what his underlying question is. I'm assuming he wants to know something like "what house size maximizes the value to the owner? What size gives the best bang for the buck?". And is trying to use price per square foot as a proxy. In which case land costs should be folded in. But in this case it's also true that the size that minimizes cost per square foot is going to be neighborhood/location dependent.I instead asked the question what house size minimizes your total costs? I.e. what's the smallest workable/livable home for us? And the reason we bid on the house we are buying is because it had all the touches we really wanted and none of the things that aren't important to us. So we're not paying for what we don't need/want.Both are legitimate and good ways of going about figuring out how much one should spend towards housing if one has the means. But the existance of my method implies that smaller homes are going to be a worse bang for your buck because there's a larger pool of buyers who can afford them.Conversely if everyone is using housebuyers method (unfair of me to assign this to him). Then more buyers will be targeting larger homes than otherwise would do so, allowing the price of smaller homes to drop. I think this is more likely to occur in environments where buyers are factoring in potential future appreciation more heavily into their decisions.
The unemployment numbers should go up when the college kids graduate this year. According to the google data posted by someone this week the young adults are the most unemployed by far. Plus there are many, many articles about how people in college aren't finding jobs and have to live with their parents when they graduate. Most companies dealt with this recession with a hiring freeze rather than laying people off. This disproportionally affects new college grads.
Cara, you can/should, but people/Realtors in most parts of the country typically do not. They want a simple number to compare two or more houses. Using the same rationale for deducting land costs, one could argue that they should adjust not only for land but also for upgrades and anything else that may affect this #, but then people's eyes glaze over.
Of course the raw numbers will be offset by the seasonal construction/road work employment, but the quality jobs will be harder to get.
Ace,Okay I'm just too analytical then. Cuz I totally go through and itemize the price of every upgrade. You mean everyone else doesn't walk through each house as if they're preparing to do an appraisal report?(actually I walked through each house just using my gut reaction, and then for ones I was actually interested in went through the mental appraisal to comps).
Nova-That is a good way to look at it.Cara I was mostly trying to think about it because I have seen several houses that in Dunn Loring that are much smaller than the neighboring houses listed for a well above tax assessment and a much higher price/sqft.http://franklymls.com/FX7194085This is the most recent example. I was curious if its tax assessment was based off of a price/sqft metric, which would hurt it because it is much smaller than the neighboring houses. Right now it is listed ~$280/sqft when the average is ~$181http://www.altosresearch.com/research/VA/dunn-loring-real-estate-marketAt $181 this house would $360K, which seems very reasonable even including some negatives like being near 495, but at ~560K the price looks really bad. Although I guess I would also need to add some value for the garage and things like that...
Cara, that is why you are getting an excellent buy - you are smarter, more patient, more thorough, and more analytical than the average bear!
housebuyer, that house has a big lot too - but I don't know if that makes the price reasonable. Doesn't seem so, from the photos and assessed value.
housebuyer,At a wild guess you could jack up the median price per square foot to $200-$220 per square foot for a "smaller home" especially given that most of those homes are bigger than most anyone really needs, and thus bigger than anyone wants to pay a premium for. (Dunn Loring isn't PWC or Loudoun, it can't support such big houses, demandwise as far as I know).
housebuyer,and as you hinted at, the garage is not in the tax records so it's not being properly included in the tax assessed value...
housebuyer, I don't think Fairfax considers only the square footage - I know more about Arlington's process than Fairfax's, but you could check their website and call the county with questions. From the individual assessments I have seen, Fairfax appears to take into account more factors than does Arl., which considers land value (based on what tear downs and vacant lots have sold for) as well as square footage, # of beds., baths. Arl. calculates value by neighborhood sales and does it separately for condos vs. detached. Fairfax appears to consider all these things, PLUS it considers condition of the house to some extent (e.g., some houses are described as "handyman specials" on its site) and whether the house is located on a busy street or other bad location (and other factors). From what I've seen, Arl. fails to do this, even though both contribute a big part of the value - and I think that's one reason why homesellers on busy streets and who haven't done a thing to the house in years overprice their places and watch them sit unsold.
housebuyer, would it make more sense to try to find comparables in the area of the same size, condition, etc., that have recently sold? Or is it unique?
ps also it appears from the description and from the FX site that the house has no basement and the quality of construction isn't as good as that of other houses (often you'll see "excellent" or "good" where this house is described as "average"). You may dislike basements (as I do) but they do cost something and a lot of people here won't buy a house without them because they want to finish them for more space (or expect them to be finished). Since most houses near it will have basements (finished or not) that reduces the house's value as well.
housebuyer,i don't know about the house you listed, but this Arl Colonial wins the WTF price of the month. 20%, or a full $128K, over '09 assessment of $660K, for a un-updated 1937 home? five houses down the street, this cape cod is also listed at 23% over '09 tax at $765K, but at least it's nicely updated. See pictures from the previous listing. It was sold just over a year ago at $710K net.I'd say housing is on full throttle recovery already...
Cara,Did you mean Dunn Loring "can" support large homes? It's a very desireable area. I used to live there.
Better employment report will slow progress on job bill or another stimulus (thank god our country is already bankrupt). Treasury rates are higher....fed funds futures and possibilities of fed raising rates has now better chance of being closer than everybody thought. With interest rates getting in "real" direction, forecast for housing is obvious.I also don't believe employment has peaked yet..I can see it getting worse in 2010.
Ace-It is somewhat unique. I don't think I am that interested in this specific house, so it is more a thought experiment than anything else. Most houses in this area are either huge or fairly small old houses without garages. Cara- There are a lot of very large houses in the Dunn Loring area, because it is only 5 minutes from Tysons. As you get away from Tysons and towards the Falls Church side of Dunn Loring their are fewer huge houses.
va_investor, housebuyer,I was equating Dunn Loring with Chantilly, Dulles area and the like because I don't work or go towards Tysons. The bigger houses nearby just looked flat-out McMansion awful to me, so I was also just taking clues from that. Housebuyer's explanation that the portion of Dunn Loring closer to me isn't as nice explains a lot of it.I'm not from around here. So, my mistake.This is what happens when you avoid the entire area around Tysons like the plague. (I've only been to one of the Tyson's malls once)
"Robert said...I've heard rumblings, but expect to start hearing a lot of talk about a double dip recession pick up on this board as the economy improves"As far as "coping mechanisms" go, this one doesnt bother me much. After all, the future is unpredictable, anything could happen.The one mechanism that does bother me is fighting the tape. Those that cite data or stats when they show something they want to see, but yet its, "fabricated" "wrong" or "meaningless" when it goes the other way. Its ok to question the veracity or causal relationship of things from time to time, but tape fighting is the worst example of intellectual dishonesty IMO.
MM, they're both a little WTF-y to me - does seller #2 really think the market's gone up that much in one year?! It will be interesting to see what they sell for - will tell us if the full throttle is more in the sellers' minds or a reality.
Square footage seems to be a complete crapshoot around here. Most of the listings don't bother with it, and the tax assessments don't give a good picture. For example, my place is listed by FFX co. at around 1300 sq ft. Not only is that wrong for the main floor (our house has an extension that others in the neighborhood don't), ours is a rambler with the same amount of sq feet in the walk-out "basement" (which includes two legal bedrooms and a huge family room). Our assessment came in at 2700 sq ft, over double what is on the tax website.
I take that back -- citing Hal Turner as a "credible" source is the epitome of intellectual dishonesty. Tape fighting comes in second :)
MM, thats just because the prices in Arlington havent finished falling yet. See they are going to fall 40-50% from peak, just ask Leroy. Its the "substitution effect", see and its literally a law of nature. Thats what I was told on here, its not even something worth arguing because its a fact. My 10-15% fall from peak estimate in Arlington is absurd because I didnt account for this effect. /sarcasm
Housebuyer,I'd say Dunn Loring to West Falls Church is quite nice and very convenient. Just my ho. I don't particularly like the condo's at the Dunn Loring Metro or that particular area. The DL area I like has big lots and lots of trees.I used to work on Gallows Road and I had a 5 minute commute.
Can someone please tell me, which metro stop these people could possibly be talking about when they claim that they are 2 miles from the metro. Are they really pretending that the future stop at Dulles already exists?http://franklymls.com/FX7215749
Doug -- there certainly was alot of flawed thinking about the substitution effect during the "Arlington Wars" era of this blog. Leroy was not the only victim.I think CRT had it best. The substitution effect is real -- the problem is/was thinking of it as causing a uniform 40% drop across the board. After all, if you took that "uniform drop" to its logical conclusion, the -40% parts of LA saw in the early 1990s would have hit all of LA, til eventually all of SoCal was down -40%.In reality, it was a matter of degree. 40% off in the worst areas, translated to 35% off in the next least desirable, to 30% off and so on. Case Shiller told us that was the way it was going to be -- we just didnt want to hear ithttp://www2.standardandpoors.com/spf/pdf/index/052708_Housing_bubbles_collapse.pdf
Also -- I think Cara had a good handle on it too when she described some areas as serving as "buffer zones" for others.
Whoa, what happened here? Crazy price drop!The sellers agreed to pay half the coop fees for 6 years?I guess that's the mark of desperation. Looks like the buyer got a great deal, considering the view!River Place penthouse
Paka-That is a crazy good deal. How did someone manage to swing that? Why wouldn't they lower the price rather than let someone get it for 40% below the current offer price and give the person a 108K credit...
Maybe they reduced the price in lieu of paying the $108k in co-op fees. That actually makes more sense. But even so, it's still a great deal considering it sold for $525,000 in 1991!
paKa,unreal, i'm speechless...
I agree I was starting to think that is what happened. I guess there aren't that many wealthy people that want to live in an old building. That is all I can think of. Even though the price is pretty low the condo fee is still really steep, I can't imagine buying a place whose condo fee was more than the mortgage.
From what I know about River Place, this is pretty old, roach-infested building. I wouldn't be surprised if the future owner won't get hit with a lot of special assessments, proportional to the sq. footage of the place.I'm not sure that it is such a privilege to pay 5k a month for this place even with the views, etc.
Regarding the co-op. I have a friend whose client recently died and was acting as trustee of the decedent's estate.The plan there was to hire a realtor to try to sell it on the open market, but if that didnt work, one of the heirs was going to forefeit their share of the inheritance to the siblings and purchase it for a song. I know the decedent lived in arlington in one of the "old highrises" so this may be it. What still seems curious is the kickback on the co-op fees.Ill be sure to ask my friend the next time I see her.
Here is another comical listing. What Realtor in their good conscience listed this property for $990K a year ago. At least they were able to get the owner to do regular very large price reductionshttp://franklymls.com/FX6886017
CRT,This is OT, but I wonder if you or your trustee friend know, realistically, how soon does it take to put a deceased person's property on the market? I know each case is different but I'm trying to find out whether it takes some time for the attorneys to gather family members and such to 'execute (is this the right term?)' the will and then some more time to finalize the estate and then move on to selling the house; or it's usually the first step by the trustee/attorney, i.e. notify the tenant, to start the process?Sorry if I'm not asking the right questions, but I hope you get what I'm looking for...TIA!
MM,I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice. But... if the property was held in a trust then it depends on the terms in the trust. Often the trust is written such that the executors can liquidate the assets as they see fit, so long as the distribution of monies thereafter is equitable... However that is not the only way one could write up a trust.If there is just a will, and the deceased did not leave a spouse who held the title as joint tenants by entirety, then usually, I believe all the assets must go into probate first. Which can take a year.This is just my personal experience from family members who have passed away recently.
Cara,Thanks!The property owner's spouse passed away already.So it goes to probate?
i think the author's got a point (no link, just a spam in my inbox)--------Home buyers who have been sitting on the sidelines are still asking if they should buy now or wait. Maybe housing prices will drop further? The fact is that interest rates are currently at an all time low with 30 year fixed conventional rates below 5% with no points (assuming good credit, documented income etc.).Many buyers have been reading the negative news about the economy and are saying, "I'll bet that housing prices will drop further, maybe another 10%"So what should you do?The Fed has been keeping rates low by purchasing mortgage backed securities at the tune of $850 billion so far this year (source: WSJ, 9/25/09). This program is scheduled to end in March of 2010. When this happens, rates are surely to rise.So let's ask the question: is it better to wait until prices drop another 10% before buying or buy now?Let the facts speak for themselves:Low Rate, Buy Now ScenarioPurchase Price: $400,000Down Payment: $ 80,000Interest Rate: 5%Mortgage Payment: $1,717Wait for Lower Price, buy later ScenarioPurchase Price: $360,000 (10% price drop)Down Payment: $ 72,000Interest Rate: 6%Mortgage Payment: $1,726So, if you wait until the Spring of 2010 hoping that prices will drop another 10% and (assuming) rates rise 1% (due to the Fed stopping their purchase of mortgage backed securities - or cutting back on their program), you're at the SAME MONTHLY PAYMENT AS BUYING NOW AT THE LOWEST RATES IN YEARS!--------
MM-There are two problems I see with your numbers. First they don't deal with the tax implications of paying interest. After taking that into account it is slightly better to do the second scenario on a monthly payment basis. The more important issue is the fact if you decide/need to sell in 5 years you would have about 40K more equity in the second scenario than you would in the first. Also if you are sure that interest rates are going to go up over this time you can hedge yourself by buying something like TBT, which is a levered index that moves with long term treasuries. So in the second case you can profit on rates going up and on the house going down.
MM the second scenario has two benefits:(1) If you can afford the $80k in scenario #1, then you can apply to to scenario #2, so that the loan is $8k less. That means that mortgage payment can be less in scenario #2 ($1678).(2) Because the higher interest rate means that a greater percent of your mortgage goes to interest, you get a larger tax deduction in scenario #2.
it is totally useless to ponder by how much prices will drop if interest rates increase by certain amount. the only situation when you'll be happy with 'buy now' decision with certainty is if there is a runaway inflation that affects wages (and you buy with fixed interest rate). then most likely mortgage payment will not be a huge burden on your pocket.
"See they are going to fall 40-50% from peak, just ask Leroy. Its the "substitution effect", see and its literally a law of nature."In the future I would appreciate it if you would make a special effort to avoid misattributing quotes to me.The "substitution effect" is as close to a "law of nature" as you will find in economics as it is absolutely essential to understanding economic behavior.I did not of course make any such prediction of 50% off in Arlington. While I am at it..."I think CRT had it best. The substitution effect is real -- the problem is/was thinking of it as causing a uniform 40% drop across the board. After all, if you took that "uniform drop" to its logical conclusion, the -40% parts of LA saw in the early 1990s would have hit all of LA, til eventually all of SoCal was down -40%."Nothing about the substitution effect supports the prediction of a "uniform drop" and I never made any such prediction.Look at your own analogy and take it to the next obvious step... if the substitution effect required that all of SoCal drop 40%... why stop there? Why not all of the US? Or all of North America? Or all of the world?I am honestly not sure if you are really this confused or if you are playing dumb like doug in an attempt to troll. The substitution effect explains how people are able to assign relative values to items with similar but different characteristics. For example... a potential buyer might be looking at two houses, one 10 minutes from work and another 15 minutes from work. These two houses are not perfectly interchangeable, and yet people are still able to compare and value them. The substitution effect is fundamental to how economic behavior functions in markets such as real estate. It doesn't mean all housing prices everywhere must move in lockstep. (Which should be obvious...)
the big one is look at what priceswere before the bubble adjust forany major local changes like a metrostation opening and adjust for inflation the bubble polluted everything
housebuyer said..."The more important issue is the fact if you decide/need to sell in 5 years you would have about 40K more equity in the second scenario than you would in the first."To tie into this, it also matters if you plan to pay extra every month to pay off your house early. In the second scenario the loan principal is smaller and will be paid off quicker by an equal amount of extra payment on every check.
"Leroy said...I am honestly not sure if you are really this confused or if you are playing dumb like doug in an attempt to troll."Hey, what can I say? You fell victim to the glug glug glug thinking that infected this blog back during the arlington wars as much as anyone did. Not to worry though, I will be gone soon enough.And speaking of glug glug glug thinking. "Contrarian said...The guarantees of Freddie and Fannie plus banks and MMFs are "implied." If you think they will continue to be backed by the government, think again:Dubai World's debt not guaranteed by government..."Yes, yes, yes. As we all know, the most comparable situation for the US govt is the kangaroo legal system that is Dubai. You know the saying, so goes Dubai, so goes the world.Hey Contrarian why stop at Dubai? Im pretty sure that the Somali govt made some guarantees back before they became a failed state. Why dont you point to the situation in Mogadishu as a parable about the upcoming collapse here in DC?Glug, glug, glug, glug, glug, glug, glug, glug...
Incidentally Contrarian, explain to me how your glug glug glug thinking leads you to believe the mountain of US dollars you hold in your post apocalyptic world will save you?If the govt renegs on that promise, how much faith will the holders of dollars have in the govt's promise "this note is legal tender for all debts public and private" printed on each and every bill? Seems to me you would want some sort of tangible asset to hedge against that situation. Food, guns, shelter.Not to worry though, dollars are paper and can be burned for a heat source as was common in the collapsing weimar republic. Im sure some homeowner will be willing to trade whatever stacks of bills you have for a sandwich.Hopefully, you have these all in small denominations (more paper to burn)glug, glug, glug, glug, glug, glug, glug...
"Hey, what can I say? You fell victim to the glug glug glug thinking that infected this blog back during the arlington wars as much as anyone did. Not to worry though, I will be gone soon enough."I suppose that answers my question about whether or not you were trolling...
Guilty as charged. But hey, its par for the course for this blog - just look at the thread after this one where you are dragging VA investor through the mud.Its fun!
Post a Comment
Subscribe in a reader