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Ask Adam: Are There Any Bargains Left in Arlington?

By ARLnow.com - ARLNow.com

Tuesday - 12/11/2012, 11:15am  ET

This periodic sponsored Q&A column is written by Adam Gallegos of Arlington-based real estate firm Arbour Realty. Please submit follow-up questions in the comments section or via email.

Question: Are you seeing any bargains on the market still? My preference is not to deal with a fixer upper.

The usual knee jerk reaction is to hunt for the elusive foreclosure deal. At the time I’m writing this, there are seven foreclosure listings in Arlington. I used to sell foreclosures for the big banks, and I can tell you firsthand that they are not always the great values that consumers perceive them to be, especially when they turn into bidding wars. You should also take into consideration that many have not been maintained very well.

From my vantage point, homeowners who purchased new construction in 2012 saw very lucrative gains. Two new townhome neighborhoods that come to mind: Mosaic in Merrifield and MetroWest near Vienna metro station.

In an inclining market, the key is getting in early. The developers have a lot of homes to sell in these neighborhoods and they start off their sales, priced to be very competitive with resale inventory. Then they often begin steadily increasing prices throughout the remainder of their sales cycle. I have clients who purchased early in the two neighborhoods I mentioned, who saw nearly double digit percentage appreciation last year. I’m basing this off of the difference between what they purchased their homes for and what they are selling / appraising for today.

This an Arlington based website so I won’t go into much detail about these communities, which are located in Fairfax County. I do however, expect even greater demand (and appreciation) when similar neighborhoods become available in Arlington County this next year.

There is a construction site that recently broke ground in Ballston that looks interesting. It is a townhome development by local builder, Madison Homes.  It will consist of 28 new homes and will be called Ballston Park. If they deliver a good value and have initial housing options in the $600-$800k range, I expect that they will do very well.

I’m also keeping an eye out for the 44 townhome development that will occupy a portion of the 5-acres that was formerly a Rosenthal Jeep dealership at 3400 Columbia Pike. I hope to see these initially priced in the $500-700k range.

It would be nice to see some of the rental buildings that were originally slated to be condos, convert back to condos. Two prospects that would not surprise me at all are The Joule in Ballston and Zoso Flats in Clarendon. There is a huge shortage of newer condos along the Orange Line and I would expect to see people line up for either of these buildings, if priced well.

There is also a chance that JBG will decide to sell Sedona or Slate as a condo. They are 12 and 14 story residential buildings being constructed three blocks from Rosslyn metro station with 12,000 square feet of retail on the ground floors. As of right now the word on the street is that they will both be rentals, but I am sure they are exploring the possibility of going condo with one of them. JBG is planning to sell 25 townhomes as part of this development, which I am guessing will be offered in the luxury price range.

As for single family homes, unless someone buys a golf course, there really isn’t enough land left in Arlington for a new neighborhood. The best bargains I have seen for single family homes tend to be in emerging neighborhoods like Highview Park and Penrose.

With the large sums of money required in order to own a home in Arlington, it is hard to stamp any of them as “bargains”. That said, there are some good opportunities in Arlington to make lucrative investments. Though my response to your question focused on new construction, there are plenty of opportunities on resale homes that I would be happy to discuss in more detail.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.