Well for a lot of folks, it does! Unless you bought prior to 2003 and did't take out any equity during the peak. In that case Northern Virginia real estate is probably pretty amazing. Reality is: Many individuals have to save well into their 30's to be able to buy and put down enough to afford the payment. Couples overextend their debt-to-income ratio's and put themselves into a position where they both have to work whether they want to or not. Buyers need mega gifts from family members just to take the edge off of the payments. Families relocate to Northern Virginia from, say, Indiana, and have to sell half of what they own just to fit into the biggest place they can afford.
And that's just the buying side. Folks who bought in the last five years are probably not feeling too great about the Northern Virginia market either. Some have had it worse than others over the last couple years, but almost all are feeling the fragility of their situation.
If you agree with me, here's the bad news. It's not going to change. In fact, it may well end up being the case that these will be considered the good 'ol days of affordability in Northern Virginia real estate. Perhaps not the best 'ol days, that was in 2001 when you could buy a 3 bedroom cape cod on the Falls Church/Arlington border for $200,000... and actually live in it. Now, this part is bad news for buyers, but good news for the aforementioned recent (5 years) owners.
That 30 something you see around town driving the Lamborghini probably can't relate as well, but it is a tough market for folks. It is also an ironic market because it can be tough to keep your home due to lower value, and yet tough to get into the one you would prefer because values are still so high (this assumes a reasonable preference by the way). However, people are finding ways to get in to homes, and inventories are reasonable, so there is nothing out there to drive prices down. Which, for the record, would make the Northern Virginia real estate market suck in a different way altogether. If you bought between 2004 and 2008 you know what I'm talking about.
Look, I am a fan of owning a home or I wouldn't be in this business. In fact, in full disclosure, I would love to own my own home one of these days, preferably sooner than later (should I say that? I'm supposed to hide the fact that I'm a renter, right?). I am just acknowledging that Northern Virginia is a tough place to get in the game, and that folks out there are frustrated, and some are even scared. My advice to buyers is to do what my family is doing, be patient and wait until the time is right for YOU. For owners who are sweating it, seek advice and guidance... and perhaps an Under-Water's Anonymous Club. If there is not one there should be because you are far from alone out there.
I'm well passed my self imposed word limit. Have your own story of why Northern Virginia Real Estate sucks? Please comment below.
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