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Old 06-15-2008, 01:13 PM
8 posts, read 17,027 times
Reputation: 10


Good Sunday to you all,

I've enjoyed reading these postings for the past several months, since I was forcibly relocated to the area last autumn. My fiancee and I have been renting in West Springfield the last several months, and although we like it out here (really nice to walk across the street for shopping, food, drinks, etc), we are getting married soon and would like to leave apartment life for a house.

Unfortunately, this area is stupendous in a lot of ways - school districts, natural beauty, etc, but the prices are very high for homes. We've looked at several areas with a realtor for the last few weekends (Annandale, Springfield, Burke, Falls Church), and we really liked the lovely older cape cod-styles in Falls Church (specifically, 22042). We were told that 22042 is an "area in transition."

According to my realtor, there were a large spate of foreclosures in the area (which appeared to be a half-and-half mix of heavily hispanic blocks / areas with several tenants under one roof with mixed small families of 2-3 people). The pride of ownership varied WIDELY as well - some dirt lawns and beer bottles, others that warm the heart and delight the inner American craftsman in us all.

Anyone live in the zip 22042, specifically, the Tyler Park area? We'd be looking to be there at least three years. Transition - some good (construction, new home buyers, renovations), some bad - TONS of loitering, good-house, bad-house dereliction, etc.

Any advice? I would be exceedingly grateful for any direction - this will be our first home, and we are delighted / terrified at the prospect...
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Old 06-15-2008, 07:26 PM
19,183 posts, read 28,395,595 times
Reputation: 4002
That odd mix of joy and trepidation will be with you no matter when or where you buy that first house. It seems like (and is) a big step. But if you are realistic and mind your P's and Q's, there's no reason for it not to be a succesful step. First dividend may be that you'll soon be on a first name basis with all the folks over at Home Depot. You'll be surprised by the number of things that you need as a homeowner that you don't currently have any of. :-)

Meanwhile, I don't live in 22042 (or therefore in Tyler Park), but I've lived in the vicintiy for nearly 40 years, and to me, it sounds like you have the area pegged exactly right. It isn't the upscale glamour neighborhood, but instead a sometimes rather iffy mix that might give an older person (like me) some second thoughts. If it were me, I'd at least be sure to weigh the alternatives carefully before taking the plunge. What sort of townhouse could you do instead? Could the two of you live in an apartment for a while longer while saving toward a slightly higher start point? Would renting a house make any sense given your plans and finances? Probably you've thought of these things already, so I'm just encouraging that you indeed think the whole thing through from every angle that you possibly can. My personal sense is that some of the things that will be within your reach 15 or 20 years down the road will depend in part on what your start point was, so starting as high as you can may be a good idea. But if you really do love the house, it's likely that you'll be happy there, and there aren't very many things that are more important than that! If you are happy and love the place you live in, it is oh so much easier to find some way to deal with the various irritations that life will be sure to put in your path. So, my actual advice would be just to keep doing what it sounds like you are already doing. The right answer is the one that -- all things considered -- feels most comfortable to you...
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Old 06-16-2008, 06:07 AM
2,462 posts, read 8,059,730 times
Reputation: 995
I would think carefully about what you want from homeownership at this point -- are you looking for more space and privacy than is possible in an apartment? Then renting a (nicer) home would be an obvious alternative. In addition to the many investment properties available, it is also possible to get a well-cared for home vacated by, say, a junior State Department employee posted overseas for 2-3 years. Do you need the mortgage interest tax deduction? A townhouse or condo would take care of that. Or are you primarily interested in building equity for your next home purchase? If that's the case, then do some research into this neighborhood -- how much do the most-improved and cared-for homes currently sell for? Do you have the time and skills to transform a fixer-upper bargain into a home that will sell for the top dollar possible in this neighborhood? Will you be comfortable living in this home for 3-5 years, especially if you end up starting a family sooner rather than later?
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Old 06-16-2008, 08:17 PM
Location: Vienna
258 posts, read 771,382 times
Reputation: 106
My parents live at seven corners- practically at route 7 and 50- so I know the area well- there are some pockets we considered- but they were pockets.. Plus, schools are not good.. we are set for public. Anyway, I did a quick search and some houses there are redone very nicely - and for here- it's a bargain- but as others have pointed out- at a cost.. it's just not a neighborhood I would do- the schools hurt resale- the neighborhood being so pocket-like hurt values-and it's just too sketchy to be a unified neighborhood feel- what is your price range and commute? Maybe we can steer you elsewhere..

Ie. in falls church holmes run neighborhood is upcoming but not as severe as there- lots of woods- still school issues but es is decent i believe..
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Old 06-18-2008, 12:54 AM
67 posts, read 225,244 times
Reputation: 27
My father has lived in Tyler Park for 15yrs and you have pegged the neighborhood perfectly. It is in transition, which was spurred by the housing bubble. The older, slightly decrepit houses were fixed up and sold for a huge profit, thereby sprucing up the neighborhood. With prices now falling, I expect to see some lots return to their former dilapidated states as the properties go into foreclosure. Properties that were priced at $500k as shortly as 2yrs ago are now selling for less than $300k.

If you are looking to buy there, expect to put a lot of manual labor into the maintenance of the house. These units were built on the cheap post WWII, and many are wrought with shoddy (and quirky!) construction. Also consider what you are looking for in a neighborhood, and specifically in neighbors. While my father's block has no neighborhood cohesion, other blocks may differ.

I have never felt unsafe in his neighborhood at night, but not all of the residents have respect for their neighbors. Expect to find trash in your yard and loud music / muffler noises late at night.

But mostly, think about the repairs and maintenance needed for an older house. If it's your first home, do you have the experience to take care of that yourself? Think - faulty wiring, rotted floor joists, asbestos in wall paneling, leaky basements, etc. Best of luck to you in making your decision!
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Old 06-18-2008, 11:09 AM
19 posts, read 66,740 times
Reputation: 18
I live in Merrifield in 22042 area and we rent. We live in a condo that is nice but it's in a strange neighborhood mix of industrial, commercial and residential. It's a desirable location in terms of being close to everything like Tysons, main roads, etc. But I have lived in this area for 32 years and I can tell you that 22042 area used to be low-income and not that desirable. It is an area in transistion in that they are trying to improve it, but there are still low-income people living there. It's a bizarre mix of old, new low income and the rich.
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Old 06-21-2008, 02:52 PM
8 posts, read 17,027 times
Reputation: 10
Red face Many thoughts to ponder here...

Please excuse the tardiness in this response - I just returned home from some training in West Virginia!

Thank you to all who responded so thoughtfully and generously with your time. It appears that I"m not alone in feeling this neighborhood out, and the questions about what I really want out of owning a home (or even to own?) hit the mark, and have given me pause.

For the next few years, I"ll be working at / near the Pentagon, so quick access to the express bus to Pentagon is of weighty import (I've been taking the bus since September and have been faring fine without paying for the gas and parking!)

I love the cape cod aesthetic and the smaller, more homey neighborhoods than the later developments. But as you pointed out, that aesthetic is just a sentiment, and needs balancing with those concrete considerations of schools, investment, property values, etc.

But the trying thing about sentiments - as I drove home this afternoon, I drove by those houses and thought wistfully of them...
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