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Old 05-31-2011, 08:22 PM
 
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I'd like to ask realtors and other, more real estate savvy posters on this forum: why are prices in Oak Hill/Oakton similar to Great Falls?

I am about to make an offer on a house in Oak Hill, which my family and I like. It's well-landscaped, close to work (under a couple of miles), well-updated and is fairly large. But it sits on a pretty small plots of land, less than half an acre.

Yet I toured homes about the same size (okay, slightly smaller) in Great Falls with a couple of acres or more land that were in about the same price range. Those Great Falls homes were also well-updated.

It just happened that GF is less convenient for us and most lots we saw had too many trees (we like flat, grassy lots better than overly treed lots where one can hardly see the sun), so we decided not to go that route. But I don't understand this. If Great Falls were really that prestigious (and everyone tells me it is), how is it Oak Hill (which I read some people derisively call "South Herndon") prices are competitive?

I'd appreciate some insights.
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Old 05-31-2011, 09:18 PM
 
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There are many more expensive homes (say, over $1.5 million) in Great Falls than in Oak Hill; in addition, Great Falls students are assigned to Langley HS, which has the highest test scores of any non-magnet public high school in Fairfax. The perceived "prestigiousness" of a particular area generally reflects its overall housing mix and the test scores at the local schools.

That doesn't mean that particular houses in Great Falls necessarily are more expensive than similar houses, even on less land, in other parts of Fairfax, such as Oakton, Oak Hill, McLean and Vienna. The houses in Great Falls may be less convenient to where people work and shop. In addition, the houses on large lots are on private septic systems, which many people don't want to deal with. During the recent housing downturn, properties in North Arlington and McLean also tended to fare a bit better than those in Great Falls. Anecdotally, I've also heard it suggested that properties in Great Falls do better during Republican administrations.

Good luck with your offer.

Last edited by JEB77; 05-31-2011 at 09:26 PM..
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Old 06-01-2011, 08:58 AM
 
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Thank you for the detailed reply, JEB77.
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Old 06-01-2011, 11:37 AM
 
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I agree completely with JEB77. Great Falls has plusses and minuses. The big negative, in my view, is that there are far fewer "neighborhoods" like you find in McLean, Fairfax, Oakton, Vienna, and so on, because the houses are much further apart. Great Falls continually rejects proposals to extend sewer so that they must stay on septic -- with septic, lots are required by law to be large.

As an aside, in the old days -- and I mean old (I'm dating myself) -- Arlington was a regular old suburb, not so urban, McLean was the "country" suburb, and Great Falls was where the hicks lived! No kidding. Few people lived further out. Things have changed, and Great Falls is much more wealthy now. So many of the houses are enormous now, and the price of admission has skyrocketed.
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Old 06-01-2011, 11:58 AM
 
Location: Washington, DC & New York
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The "South Herndon" comment is likely because the use of "Oak Hill" is a newer description for the area, much like "Potomac Falls" in Loudoun County and was perceived as a way of gentrifying the name to sustain the higher priced housing. Some people also refer to it as just "Herndon" by the zip code, which is how Franklin Farm, Fox Mill Estates, and immediate areas used to be described. Like Potomac Falls, the Oak Hill name came when the branch post office was opened as the Herndon delivery area necessitated a new sub-office.

Many houses in that area were semi-custom, not that dissimilar from neighboring Oakton, as opposed to the more production built counterparts in Herndon from the era of vinyl floors, and fiberglass shower surrounds. Houses around Navy ES, for example, are mostly semi-custom newer homes that incorporate many features you would find in Great Falls, albeit GF will be a tad smaller for the same price point. It's a convenient location for Reston, Fairfax, and Fair Oaks commutes, and not terribly far from DC, to the point where the commute would be too much of a hassle, so the convenient location combined with the pattern of development have helped to create an area of similarly-priced homes to GF and the even more remote Clifton within the production/semi-custom segment of the market. True custom homes are difficult to compare, but there are few in Oak Hill.

Good luck with the house!
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Old 06-02-2011, 09:12 PM
 
131 posts, read 198,324 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IndiaLimaDelta View Post
I'd like to ask realtors and other, more real estate savvy posters on this forum: why are prices in Oak Hill/Oakton similar to Great Falls?

I am about to make an offer on a house in Oak Hill, which my family and I like. It's well-landscaped, close to work (under a couple of miles), well-updated and is fairly large. But it sits on a pretty small plots of land, less than half an acre.

Yet I toured homes about the same size (okay, slightly smaller) in Great Falls with a couple of acres or more land that were in about the same price range. Those Great Falls homes were also well-updated.

It just happened that GF is less convenient for us and most lots we saw had too many trees (we like flat, grassy lots better than overly treed lots where one can hardly see the sun), so we decided not to go that route. But I don't understand this. If Great Falls were really that prestigious (and everyone tells me it is), how is it Oak Hill (which I read some people derisively call "South Herndon") prices are competitive?

I'd appreciate some insights.
Most likely the house you looked at is in the Western part of Great Falls, which is closer to Sterling than to Mclean. For most part of GF, it is not as convenient as Herndon. Getting to the toll road will take you a bit longer.
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Old 06-03-2011, 12:00 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by novajs View Post
Most likely the house you looked at is in the Western part of Great Falls, which is closer to Sterling than to Mclean. For most part of GF, it is not as convenient as Herndon. Getting to the toll road will take you a bit longer.
Thankfully I won't need to use the toll road for commute. The drive is less than two miles! That's a pretty good trade for having the small lot size. At least that's how I am thinking about it.

I looked at about 10 homes in Great Falls. The ones I liked the most were not too far from 7 and all had at least 2 acres (and fairly contemporary interiors), but I had a horrible vision of traffic on 7, Ffx Cty Pkwy and West Ox during peak hours. Also they were all heavily wooded. I could just see the whole lots being swamped with leaves during fall.
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Old 06-03-2011, 03:32 PM
 
Location: South South Jersey
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Oak Hill is *incredibly* diverse - lots of non-white (esp. South Asian? dunno for sure, though) professionals about. The bike shop I use (when I can get a ride, that is) is in a strip mall whose parking lot my mom said reminded her of the Crayola skin colors box. (Heh.. she also said our family fit right in - my dad's a post-blonde [i.e., white - hair color included!], my mom's a lighter-skinned AA, and I'm something in between. )
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Old 06-03-2011, 03:49 PM
 
1,403 posts, read 1,079,179 times
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I just hope the area is not too, um, snooty.

My wife and I make very good income, enough to buy a larger home just about anywhere else in NoVA including Great Falls and McLean, but we like to live modestly and appear so too. We like having our kids grow up and think of themselves as middle class and ordinary.

I like ethnic diversity because that brings interesting food, but I really prefer intellectual diversity over physical ones.

Thank you everyone for all the great information.
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Old 06-03-2011, 09:25 PM
 
100 posts, read 112,114 times
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IndiaLimaDelta, the neighborhood you're considering may be pretty expensive, but there's a wide range of housing in Oak Hill, much of it 30+ years old and more moderately priced. I wouldn't worry too much about snootiness. Most of the people you'll encounter will be professionals, to be sure, but they will almost invariably live and act like "ordinary folk."

I grew up in Oak Hill, though in a more modest neighborhood, and I spend an inordinate amount of time plotting how I'm going to move back, so I'm obviously biased, but I think you will really like the area.
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