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Old 12-28-2013, 09:21 PM
 
373 posts, read 715,212 times
Reputation: 378

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I think Parkfairfax is a great neighborhood for a renter. I've lived here for several years, but every time I consider buying, I end up deciding it's not worth it.

Pros:

Very quiet, if that's your thing. Virtually crime-free. I can't think of any other neighborhood in the DC area I'd feel okay walking around alone at 3:00 in the morning. Dog-friendly. Gas cooking (better than electric). Shared boilers provide endless hot water. Walkable to Shirlington. Convenient by car to neighborhoods like Clarendon, Old Town, and Del Ray. On weekends and evenings, you can get to downtown DC in 5-10 minutes. Decent bus connections to Metro during rush hour. Every unit has a private entry and a patch of garden. All have some variation of a stoop, porch, or patio.

Cons:

Condo fees will probably rise significantly over the next several years. They aren't too bad right now, about $400 (cheaper than a lot of new communities), but Parkfairfax buildings are old and there are some structural issues. Many units are undergoing foundation or attic work. Some attics have collapsed; others have been invaded by squirrels. Wall a/c units and baseboard heating can be a nuisance if you're used to central air. While a lot of owners have done beautiful renovation jobs, a lot of what's been on the market recently has shown its age: old windows, no dishwasher or w/d in unit, original (microscopic) bathrooms, etc. There are a lot of different models, and some definitely have better layouts than others. Mine, though technically a two-bedroom, would be a tight fit for two people. The second bedroom is really more like an office/den, and neither room has much more than a coat closet. I don't think any of the units have more than one bathroom. Compared to Fairlington neighbors, Parkfairfax units tend to stay on the market for a long time. That's kind of odd, given the lack of inventory at the price point inside the Beltway.

Shirlington alone does not make a convenient life. You pretty much have to drive everywhere. There are several Metro stations within a three-mile radius, so close yet so far. Bus to Metro runs every 10 minutes during rush hour but infrequently (or not at all) during evenings and weekends. Being just steps from 395 also means that gridlock often spills onto Parkfairfax streets. Unless you live on a cul-de-sac, you're stuck with crowded street parking. Lots of bruised bumpers.

Bottom line is that I while I love living in the neighborhood, I'm not convinced that buying here would be a great financial idea at this time. Especially if I thought I'd be leaving in a few years. Seriously, check out the sales records -- these units take a LONG time to move. Save the money you'd spend on transaction costs, maintenance and updates, and then in five years move to a part of the country where $300k could get you a real house.

ETA a comment on rental rates: A lot of rentals in Parkfairfax are owned by people who bought when the units were like $150,000 (and haven't done much updating). Because of this, market rate in the community is lower than you'd otherwise expect for a charming, close-in property. What I'm paying for a 2br, 2-level unit is less than what people pay for a 1br unit in the newer highrises. If you were to buy at today's prices with the expectation of renting it out with a positive cash flow, you'd probably have to charge more than $2000 per month. And I'm not convinced you'd get many takers when there's a rental two doors down asking several hundred less.

Last edited by seiketsu; 12-28-2013 at 10:11 PM..
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Old 12-28-2013, 11:16 PM
 
469 posts, read 906,878 times
Reputation: 290
If you were very lucky, you could get a sfh in Springfield for 300ish. Zillow says the one we bought for 16K in 1963 is now worth 339K. Not West Springfield, but close to the bus and NO HOA. I think the same would go for Annandale and Edsal area. If you want to fuss about countertops; move on. RE has made more people financially secure than employment. Rent is just brutal around here. My last five homes, I could have simply boarded up, and paid the taxes....all would have provided significantly good returns. Location, Location, Location.......but HOA Hell no!
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Old 01-06-2014, 08:55 AM
 
4 posts, read 16,629 times
Reputation: 10
Default Thanks for the responses- such a big decision!

Thanks for all these responses- I'm still very unsure about what I want to do. I actually ended up putting an offer on the house, and since the seller is going through a divorce I was able to ask for 285k, they refused to pay for closing costs. (I didn't know you could deduct closing costs from a house purchase in taxes- Thanks Carlingtonian!). Still waiting to hear back from the seller. Another issue is I would have to the PMI insurance upfront, so that is just more cash I wasn't expecting to spend.

The place is a Madison model and is about a 3 min walk to the pedestrian bridge over 395 so walking to Shirlington would be very close and easy. Also since it is a 2 bedroom I would definitely get a roommate- and I am thinking I could rent that room from 800-1000 which would cover the condo fees for sure and maybe some more cash in my pocket.

[quote=airjay75;32728040] http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/b...ator.html?_r=0. It is one of the most robust I have seen that actually allows you to input a lot of the factors we're discussing so someone can enter their own estimates and make a decision for themselves.

I used the calculator AirJay75 and it really helped, I wasn't really thinking about the selling costs involved which look like they could be around 20k. It just seems like such a big commitment and quite a gamble... I have had friends who sold their condos out in reston for 100k more than they purchased it.

I wouldn't be putting a ton of renovations. At the most I was thinking of removing the parquet floors throughout the house and putting in newer hardwood, probably new paint. If the house only appreciated to 320k.. I still don't think I would be making any money- if anything it would just be more of a hassle.


The reason I would want to sell after a 3-5 years is because I would hope that within that time I might get married and start a family etc... not sure I'd want to live in that area- I can't even be sure where my significant other would get a job.. hopefully this area. I was hoping in the event I needed to leave I could always just rent out the house, but now I'm starting to think I have just been overly optimistic about the entire home buying situation.

It's at times like these I wish I had a crystal ball to tell me what to do.
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Old 01-06-2014, 09:54 AM
 
2,670 posts, read 4,521,556 times
Reputation: 2117
"Settlement or closing costs. If you bought your home, you probably paid settlement or closing costs in addition to the contract price. These costs are divided between you and the seller according to the sales contract, local custom, or understanding of the parties. If you built your home, you probably paid these costs when you bought the land or settled on your mortgage.

The only settlement or closing costs you can deduct are home mortgage interest and certain real estate taxes. You deduct them in the year you buy your home if you itemize your deductions. You can add certain other settlement or closing costs to the basis of your home. "

Publication 530 (2013), Tax Information for Homeowners
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Old 01-06-2014, 10:16 AM
 
Location: Chester County, PA
1,077 posts, read 1,428,077 times
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Another thing to keep on mind on tax deductions is with regard to PMI - unless Congress acts, PMI will not be deductible in 2014. There were already income limitations on the deductibility of PMI which might have otherwise disqualified someone from deducting PMI, but Congress has let the provision providing for deductibility of PMI expire along with a host of other tax provisions. I imagine they will eventually get around to renewing the provision, but there are no guarantees.
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Old 01-06-2014, 03:35 PM
 
469 posts, read 906,878 times
Reputation: 290
Quote:
Originally Posted by ACWhite View Post
"Settlement or closing costs. If you bought your home, you probably paid settlement or closing costs in addition to the contract price. These costs are divided between you and the seller according to the sales contract, local custom, or understanding of the parties. If you built your home, you probably paid these costs when you bought the land or settled on your mortgage.

The only settlement or closing costs you can deduct are home mortgage interest and certain real estate taxes. You deduct them in the year you buy your home if you itemize your deductions. You can add certain other settlement or closing costs to the basis of your home. "

Publication 530 (2013), Tax Information for Homeowners
Closing cost can be used to increase cost basis of a home, in case you didn't occupy it for 2 of the last five years, but even then I was able to pro-rate the two years, when I sold in 2009, after 8 months, giving me 83K in tax protection, instead of 250K. Thanks to Turbo-Tax. I'll dig out the form number for the naysayers, because a lot of self proclaimed tax experts say the 2/5 rule is all or nothing.
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Old 01-06-2014, 07:21 PM
 
2,670 posts, read 4,521,556 times
Reputation: 2117
Quote:
Originally Posted by homebeyer2013 View Post
Closing cost can be used to increase cost basis of a home, in case you didn't occupy it for 2 of the last five years, but even then I was able to pro-rate the two years, when I sold in 2009, after 8 months, giving me 83K in tax protection, instead of 250K. Thanks to Turbo-Tax. I'll dig out the form number for the naysayers, because a lot of self proclaimed tax experts say the 2/5 rule is all or nothing.
Not sure how your comment relates to this thread. The OP is talking about the advice of another poster that s/he can deduct closing costs at the time of buying, and as the linked passage indicates, they generally are NOT deductible (must instead be added to your basis). In case it wasn't clear, the link is to an *IRS* publication. That rule has been the same for a long time.

You are talking about proration when selling. The passage I posted addressed what seemed to be a misunderstanding about the buying time question. I wanted OP to understand what the rules are in case that is playing a role in his/her buying decision.

Last edited by ACWhite; 01-06-2014 at 07:29 PM..
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Old 01-09-2014, 02:59 PM
 
13 posts, read 14,195 times
Reputation: 16
[quote=ssk023;32895633]Thanks for all these responses- I'm still very unsure about what I want to do. I actually ended up putting an offer on the house, and since the seller is going through a divorce I was able to ask for 285k, they refused to pay for closing costs. (I didn't know you could deduct closing costs from a house purchase in taxes- Thanks Carlingtonian!). Still waiting to hear back from the seller. Another issue is I would have to the PMI insurance upfront, so that is just more cash I wasn't expecting to spend.

The place is a Madison model and is about a 3 min walk to the pedestrian bridge over 395 so walking to Shirlington would be very close and easy. Also since it is a 2 bedroom I would definitely get a roommate- and I am thinking I could rent that room from 800-1000 which would cover the condo fees for sure and maybe some more cash in my pocket.

Quote:
Originally Posted by airjay75 View Post
http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/b...ator.html?_r=0. It is one of the most robust I have seen that actually allows you to input a lot of the factors we're discussing so someone can enter their own estimates and make a decision for themselves.

I used the calculator AirJay75 and it really helped, I wasn't really thinking about the selling costs involved which look like they could be around 20k. It just seems like such a big commitment and quite a gamble... I have had friends who sold their condos out in reston for 100k more than they purchased it.

I wouldn't be putting a ton of renovations. At the most I was thinking of removing the parquet floors throughout the house and putting in newer hardwood, probably new paint. If the house only appreciated to 320k.. I still don't think I would be making any money- if anything it would just be more of a hassle.


The reason I would want to sell after a 3-5 years is because I would hope that within that time I might get married and start a family etc... not sure I'd want to live in that area- I can't even be sure where my significant other would get a job.. hopefully this area. I was hoping in the event I needed to leave I could always just rent out the house, but now I'm starting to think I have just been overly optimistic about the entire home buying situation.

It's at times like these I wish I had a crystal ball to tell me what to do.
FYI - it's not that easy from what I understand. The parquet is glued down to the underfloor and it has asbestos so it becomes very costly to remove. I believe you will just put the hardwood on top. It's not an upgrade that you see often though so better to refinish the floors and use the extra to update things like appliances or the bathroom.
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Old 01-09-2014, 04:49 PM
 
373 posts, read 715,212 times
Reputation: 378
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssk023 View Post
Thanks for all these responses- I'm still very unsure about what I want to do. I actually ended up putting an offer on the house [...]

The place is a Madison model and is about a 3 min walk to the pedestrian bridge over 395 so walking to Shirlington would be very close and easy. Also since it is a 2 bedroom I would definitely get a roommate- and I am thinking I could rent that room from 800-1000 which would cover the condo fees for sure and maybe some more cash in my pocket. [...]

The reason I would want to sell after a 3-5 years is because I would hope that within that time I might get married and start a family etc... not sure I'd want to live in that area [...]
Well, then. Sounds like buying is a great idea! (good-natured sarcasm)

The Madison is one of the smaller 2brs. I think that it would be uncomfortable to live in it with someone you are neither related to nor sleeping with -- if you can even find someone willing to pay that much for a 10x11 room and shared bath so far from Metro.

Buying for the short term is almost never a financial win.
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