North Arlington (Orange Line) Condo Update: November 2010

Zip Codes 22201 and 22203 (includes Ballston, Virginia Square, Clarendon)

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See market data for all of Arlington.

See more Buyer Resources.

See last month’s post on Orange Line Condo prices.

Ready to start your search?  Sign up for a free first time home buyer class in Arlington (registration required).

Source: MRIS as of date of blog post. All data deemed accurate but not guaranteed. Stats exclude retirement communities and co-ops.

1 BR Units 2BR Units
ACTIVE LISTINGS as of November 12, 2010
Average List Price $303,639 $509,362
Number of Active Listings 40 56
Average Property DOM(P) – Actives 70 106
SOLD LISTINGS for October 2010
Average Sold Price for Previous Month (does not include seller subsidies) $330,835 $456,038
Number of Sold Listings in Previous Month 17 8
Average Property DOM(P) – Solds 46 30
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North Arlington (Orange Line) Condo Update: August 2010

Zip Codes 22201 and 22203 (includes Ballston, Virginia Square, Clarendon)

Source: MRIS as of date of blog post. All data deemed accurate but not guaranteed. Stats exclude retirement communities and co-ops.

Sign up for a market conditions report.

See market data for all of Arlington.

See more Buyer Resources

See last month’s post on Orange Line Condo prices.

Ready to start your search?  Sign up for a free first time home buyer class in Arlington (registration required).

1 BR Units 2BR Units
ACTIVE LISTINGS as of August 12, 2010
Average List Price $325,231 $504,998
Number of Active Listings 35 56
Average Property DOM(P) – Actives 65 82
SOLD LISTINGS for July 2010
Average Sold Price for Previous Month (does not include seller subsidies) $366,317 $473,495
Number of Sold Listings in Previous Month 12 19
Average Property DOM(P) – Solds 37 54
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Property Tax Rates

Recently, I was approached by someone who will soon be moving to the metro Washington, DC, area. Their first question: What are the property tax rates for the various jurisdictions?  Having been unable to find a single source for such information, I set off in search of the tax rates for our area. So, faithful readers, here they are…the 2010 tax rates for the greater Washington, DC, metro area.

Jurisdiction 2010 Tax Rate
Arlington County, VA $0.865/$100 value
Alexandria City, VA $0.978/$100 value
Fairfax County, VA $1.09/$100 value
Fairfax City, VA $0.955/$100 value
Falls Church City, VA $1.24/$100 value
Loudoun County, VA $1.245/$100 value
Prince William County, VA $1.212/$100 value
Stafford County, VA $1.10/$100 value
Montgomery County, MD $0.683/$100 value
Prince George’s County, MD $0.96/$100 value
Washington, DC $0.85/$100 value
This information is deemed reliable but is not guaranteed.
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Washington, DC, & Northern Virginia Real Estate Market Update: July 2010

Summer is upon us, and with it, a slowdown in the market. Though the tax credit certainly has had an impact, it is NOT unexpected to have a slow down in summer. We’ll need to wait another month or so to really compare apples to apples once the May and June data are out. Looking at the Northern Virginia stats for May, though, we can see that once again inventory dropped and contracts went up–even AFTER the credit deadline had passed. Buyers and builders alike are catching on the the steadily dropping supply of homes: UrbanTurf reports the return of apartment-to-condo conversions, and CNN is reporting a possible housing shortage to come.

In other news…

Read the Washington Post article about the difficulties of obtaining financing for certain condo buildings in our area, with some commentary by Katie Wethman of the Wethman Group.

And finally, given our recent heat wave, you may be cringing at those high air conditioning bills — this is a great time to think about some energy efficient upgrades for your home, while you can still take advantage of the tax credits that expire at the end of this year!

Congratulations Arlington on being named the #1 Best City for Families by Parenting Magazine!

As always, if we can be of assistance with your real estate needs, or you know someone looking to move, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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Bedrooms Defined

Every night, you put on your pajamas and head to your bedroom for some shut-eye. But is the room you’re sleeping in really a bedroom? Just because that’s where you have your bed and where you drift off to dreamland doesn’t necessarily make it a bedroom, at least in the eyes of our local and state governments.

In Virginia, the minimum requirements for calling a room a “bedroom” are established by the Uniform Statewide Building Code, which follows the International Building Maintenance Code (IBMC) but offers a few amendments to that code. Throughout the Commonwealth — including our immediate areas of Arlington and Fairfax counties and Alexandria — a room must have an area of at least 70 square feet to be considered a bedroom. If more than one person occupies the room, add 50 square feet for each additional occupant. Ceiling height must be no less than 7 feet.

Emergency egress is also required, and must go directly outside. The exit (whether a window or door) must have a minimum area of 5.7 square feet, or big enough for a firefighter or other rescue personnel in full gear (including an air pack) to be able to carry you to safety. There is one exception to this rule: if the room is at grade level, the minimum size is 5 square feet. In addition, emergency exits may measure no more than 44 inches from the floor to the bottom sill. Also, bedrooms can not constitute the only means of access to other bedrooms or habitable spaces and can’t serve as the only means of egress from other habitable spaces.

In Fairfax County, at a minimum, there must be two means of exit — one of which must go directly outside — for each bedroom. So, for example, if your in-law suite in the basement is accessible by only a door leading to or from the outside, it’s not really a bedroom, but just a clever way of keeping the in-laws at a distance.

Just to make things really interesting, the IBMC also has lighting and ventilation requirements for all habitable spaces, including bedrooms. Get out your calculator and measuring tape for this:

  • Every habitable space must have at least one window facing to the outside. The total glazed area for every habitable space must be a minimum of 8 percent of the floor area of the room. So, if you have a floor area of 70 square feet (the minimum required and certainly small by today’s standards) your window area must be at least 5.6 square feet.
  • For ventilation, every habitable space must have at least one openable window with an area equal to no less than 45 percent of the minimum glazed area requirements. So if we use our example above, the openable area of our window must be at least 2.52 square feet.

The rules are pretty much the same in Washington, DC, as far as size and height requirements of emergency exits from bedrooms are concerned:

  • emergency exit area must measure no less than 5.7 square feet
  • height from the floor to the bottom of the window sill can be no more than 44 inches
  • minimum size of 70 square feet

Most real estate agents and home buyers expect a closet in a bedroom, as well. But in Virginia and the District, it’s not included in the building codes. That’s right—you don’t need to be able to hang up your shirts or store your shoes to call it a bedroom. The local building codes are there mainly for safety, not to make sure you’re guaranteed creature comforts. Many older homes (and there are quite a few in our area) don’t have closets in the bedrooms but were clearly intended to be sleeping areas. Some homeowners get around this by permanently installing an armoire.

So it’s not so easy to tell if a room is indeed a bedroom. If you have any doubts, call your local codes enforcement office and ask. Or call us…we travel with tape measures and calculators.

All information deemed accurate but not guaranteed.

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Real Estate Market Update for DC and Northern Virginia – February 2010

Anybody ready for spring yet?  It feels like real estate has been on hold these last few weeks with our multiple blizzards.

Speaking of snow, as we continue the ‘big dig’ out from under the snow, remember these tips to help prevent snow related flooding in you home.  Many homeowners are also dealing with ice dams in gutters, so if you have water suddenly appearing on your walls you may want to read this article.

What does the spring market look like?  I’d expect a big push of inventory to hit the market now that we appear be out from under the storms.  And there are definitely buyers anxiously awaiting that inventory, given the continued lack of resale and even low new construction inventory, as noted here.

Home equity is again on the rise, according to the Fed. These factors, combined with the home buyer tax credit, are still motivating buyers.

On the bad news front, property taxes continue to be some of the highest in the nation, as shown here. There also continues to be buzz about looming potential increases in mortgage rates when the government stops buying mortgage backed securities next month.

More FHA changes regarding condos went into effect February 1, so expect that to have an impact on the condo market — sellers need to be aware that conventional financing may be the more appealing option should you have the choice, and buyers need to be aware that the process just got a whole lot more complex and expensive, at least for some of you.

I’ve scheduled a First Time Home Buyer class for March 3, 2010 at Arlington Central Library.  If you or someone you know is thinking of buying, please contact me to register.  The session is free, but space is limited and registration is required.  The next class is March 24.

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