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Old 01-30-2008, 09:50 AM
3 posts, read 9,429 times
Reputation: 10


Hi All ,

Iím knew to this forum, so pls. bear with me. Iím a single female, no dependents, with an annual income of 40k. Iím currently a renter seeking to purchase my first home, preferably a singe family one. From what Iíve been reading and hearing this is a good time to buy; particularly if youíre creditworthy (of which I am). Iíve already started the ball rolling; Iíve secured not only the lender, but Iíve gotten pre-approved and a commitment letter from the underwriter. The Realtor and I have gone out to preview properties. So, far so good, right. The dilemma is my qualifying/lending amount is only for $225. Initially my Realtor was showing me only condo units until I asked her to omit condos and concentrate solely on single-family homes. Apparently, this innocent switch has dropped the available homes down to nearly zilch. I realize the size of the single family home at my lending amount wouldnít be but so big, which is fine with me. Do you think itís a bit naive of me to think I could get a single family home at this price in Fairfax County/Alexandria City? I really would like to stay in either area. Should I wait to see if the home prices drop more? Iím factoring in how great the interest rates are now, in a few months this may not be the case: its true home prices may go down but interest rates may go up. My objection to condos is the outrageous condo feeís, which are subject to increase annually. All of the condo properties that Iíve seen have a monthly condo fee of $250-$400. This is in addition to a monthly mortgage rate! Any suggestions. Thanks.
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Old 01-30-2008, 10:11 AM
8,076 posts, read 7,328,360 times
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You can't afford to get into a $225K mortgage on a 40K annual income. You'll spend more than 1/2 your gross monthly income on the mortgage interest, real estate taxes, PMI, HOA fees, etc. before you pay the utilities, maintenance, and your other living expenses.
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Old 01-30-2008, 10:47 AM
Location: Gainesville, VA
566 posts, read 2,758,145 times
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You can find single family homes inf FC for 225k or less, but they are going to be few and far between. In many cases they will need a tremendous amount of work done to them as well. Have you thought about a townhouse? If not, it might be worth taking a look at. There are a ton of TH's under 225k.

As for condo fees, you need to look at what the condo fee includes. Some include cable, internet and phone. Some just include maintenance. So while the fee may be high, it may include things that you would normally pay for anyway.
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Old 01-30-2008, 11:09 AM
Location: Richmond, VA
2,306 posts, read 1,378,702 times
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I think you should concentrate on a townhome...something newer and nicer. The singles you will find will not be in a great area or in good shape. The condo market is weaker than singles, but I think a townhome would be the best bet.
$225K gets a GREAT single in other areas, just not in NOVA.
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Old 01-30-2008, 01:03 PM
Location: Haymarket, Va
621 posts, read 2,928,875 times
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I agree with most of the other respondents. I think it will be very, very hard for you to find a SF home for 225K or less. If you do, it will most likely be a fixer-upper or in a very undesirable neighborhood. I think your best bet would be to look at townhouses.
I know you said you wanted to stay in FFX Co. or Alexandria, but you would have a much larger selection the farther you move out. Manassas has some really nice, fairly new townhouses for sale and I think they are close to your budget, although I'm not exactly sure. A little further out definitely has many, many nice houses in that price range.
If you have to stay in FFX or Alex, it's going to be very hard to find what you're looking for and probably you will be very dissappointed. But who knows, you might find a diamond in the rough.

Good luck! I hope you find what you are looking for.
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Old 01-30-2008, 01:34 PM
7,970 posts, read 18,099,726 times
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I'm sorry to say that your chances are slim to none to find a single family home in decent condition and convenient location using traditional methods anywhere in Fairfax, Loudoun or even Prince William. Are you comfortable with the idea of a commute from West Virginia or western Maryland? Would you be able to embrace the urban reality of Baltimore? Or do the rolling hills of the Shenandoah Valley sound like a enjoyable scenic drive? Perhaps coming home to the genteel Southern culture of Richmond would appeal to you?

Your best chance might be to pursue foreclosures and short sales. Otherwise, you'll be commuting so far to get back to your job in the metro proper that the money you save on a cheaper mortgage will likely be eaten up in gas, time, and frustration.
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Old 01-30-2008, 02:47 PM
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Not sure whether the $225K figure represents the upper limit of house price, or your maximum mortgage.
I agree with the other posters -- you can't find a decent, livable SFH in a safe neighborhood in Fairfax or Alexandria for $225. I would look at townhouses, and consider a rental with option to buy. But even a townhouse will be difficult to find at this price point. You might run the numbers to see whether homeownership make sense for you at all -- your tax bracket is not a high one, so you will get a smaller tax benefit from the mortgage interest deduction. Renting a townhouse, or even a SFH from an owner who has relocated and could use the rental income while he waits for the market to recover, would give you the privacy and space of a house without all of the maintenance hassles and expenses.
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Old 01-30-2008, 05:30 PM
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Hi, when thinking about condo fees, please remember that if you were to find a SFH, the costs of maintenance, repairs and improvements would likely be a lot higher than the highest condo fees you've found. One reason is that you'll be responsible for everything that has been included in your rent before, and more, and the other is that, as others have said, you will likely have to buy a fixer-upper where you'll want or need to make many expensive changes sooner rather than later. Not only do you have exterior maintenance, such as the roof, gutters, yardwork, etc., but also everything that can break inside, such as the heating and cooling system, appliances, water heater, etc. When the toilet breaks, you have to pay the plumber, and maybe will have to pay a premium if they come after 5 PM.

And, I don't believe prices will come down a lot more on good houses in good neighborhoods anywhere close to DC.

So I don't mean to be a downer, but just hope you'll be realistic -maybe you could live with a roommate awhile and save $?
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Old 01-30-2008, 06:34 PM
4,711 posts, read 10,906,551 times
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I think you should sit tight, Poochie. We're a long way from the bottom, pricewise.

If I may make a suggestion, take a look at the Ravensworth Farm and North Springfield neighborhoods. Built in the late 50's, early 60's, by the noted developer, Oliver Carr. Check out the "Virginian" model of homes there. They are brick ramblers, 3BR, 1 bath, carport built on a slab on quarter acre lots. They are only about 1100 sq ft but plenty of room for 1 person...plus you have a lot of land if you want to expand in the future.

I've owned several of these homes as investments, and can vouch for their solid construction.

During the boom...these cozy little places climbed to around 450K (!). Now, they are going for the low 300's. I'd bet in next few years they will probably be down to near your target price.
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Old 01-30-2008, 07:02 PM
3 posts, read 9,429 times
Reputation: 10
Hi All,

All of you have given me great advice, and I'll consider all that you have said. Those of you who have suggested that I consider other locations: West Virginia, western Maryland, Baltimore....there's only one small problem, I work in the D.C. area and I don't have a car. So, getting to n' fro would be a compute nightmare, not to mention the compute time.

I've only been looking a month now, so I'll hang in here a little longer even if it's futile and perhaps unrealistic. I'm not in any rush or under pressure to move from where I am. I just wanted to get something of my own, and I figured the market was ready for me. I guess I figured wrong. Sorry.

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