Home News Buying a Single-Family Home in Arlington, Va., Is a Study in Patience

Buying a Single-Family Home in Arlington, Va., Is a Study in Patience

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After searching 30 homes in Arlington, Virginia, Elena and Matthew Fierro found a true golden ticket single-family home in the Washington, DC suburbs.

After months of combing through slim picks, Fierros managed to purchase a classic red-brick colonial home with blue shutters and flag fronts for $735,000 in early December 2021. . The new three-bedroom, 1,900-square-foot-like property home is a rare find for young families stretching to purchase a starter home in Arlington.

Fierro, an infrastructure engineer at the Department of Defense, said: “There were only three single-family homes under $750,000 on the market at any given time.”

Matthew Fierro and Elena Fierro with their 3-year-old son Leo at their home in Arlington, Virginia.

Arlington, across the Potomac River from Washington, has long been considered an affordable alternative to expensive capital cities, said Carroll Temple, a real estate agent at Coldwell Bunkers in Arlington. The average single-family home is now valued at $1.4 million, according to BrightMLS, a Rockville, Maryland-based multi-property listing service. Even before Amazon.com Inc. chose Arlington as its second headquarters in 2018, the area was home to Washington attorneys and lobbyists, military personnel, and young professionals in Northern Virginia’s booming technology sector. was popular with, Temple said. Then comes Amazon’s announcement that the developer is building skyscrapers along subway and light rail lines, she said, expecting an influx of tech-savvy millennials.

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A residential neighborhood in Arlington, Virginia. Single-family homes are a rare commodity in the Washington DC suburbs.

But many of these millennials are well paid and want bigger homes than skyscrapers, says David Howell, executive vice president and chief information officer at McEearney Associates in Washington. Some are starting families, moving to Arlington for better schools, and seeking new jobs at federal agencies and Arlington-based companies such as Boeing and Nestlé’s U.S. headquarters, Howell said. He noted that there is little land available for building new single-family homes. The pandemic has exacerbated the shortage, according to Ryan McLaughlin, CEO of the Northern Virginia Real Estate Association. Mortgage owners are now hesitant to switch low mortgage rates to new higher rates, he added.

Jason Lee

“Single-family homes are certainly the hottest ticket in town,” McLaughlin said. People are wondering how they can afford to buy a home.”

Arlington County median single-family home prices rose 16.5% between July 2021 and July 2022, despite the overall market slowdown, according to Bright MLS. The average number of days homes are on the market has increased since July last year, but has increased by only 2 to 18 days, the service reports. There were 147 single-family homes in the Arlington market at the end of July, 21 more than in July 2021, according to Bright MLS.

“The market has softened somewhat, but there are still few options for potential buyers,” said Terry Crower, a professor of public policy at George Mason University and director of the university’s Center for Regional Analysis. I may be a little madder than I was a month ago.”

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The Ballston Exchange (above) is a two-office building with retail space and exercise studios at the intersection of two major Arlington Boulevards. Nearby is Ballston Quarter, a shopping mall with restaurants, music, art and food events, and Medstar Capitals Iceplex, where locals skate and the Washington Capitals train.

Olivia Alonso Goff of The Wall Street Journal

Hopeful homebuyers are pounding the pavement looking for signs of a sale and are ready to pounce when the opportunity presents itself, said Betsy Twigg, an agent at McEnanyany Associates in Arlington, Virginia. Ryan Mills, a Redfin agent in Falls Church, state, says he’s taking part in bidding wars for fixer uppers, as enterprising homebuilders flock to historic properties to build more expensive new ones. Some even buy houses. Payouts come with rising home prices, according to Reggie Copeland, an agent at CR Copeland Real Estate in Fairfax, Virginia.

Michelle Doherty, a realtor at RLAH Real Estate in Arlington, who helped the Fierros with their home search, said:

Mr. Doherty and Mr. and Mrs. Fierro toured various parts of Arlington and homes that were badly run down, Mr. Fierro said. In early November, three homes under $750,000 hit the market. One was immediately signed, but Fierros saw his 2 and on the same night he made an offer to the listed 1 for $715,000. They offered his $725,000, but the seller demanded his $735,000. With the open house approaching, Fierro knew he would risk losing his chance if he didn’t pay, he said. After months of living with Fierro’s parents, they agreed. Together with their 3-year-old son Leo, the 36-year-old Fierros now enjoys his spacious ground floor. The dining room walls have been newly painted blue and taupe, and I spotted a red fox in the living area overlooking the backyard. They were glad Arlington didn’t give up on moving further afield. Fierro’s family has lived in Arlington for her 30 years, and her job as Amazon’s technical program manager may soon require her to return to the office.

“I wasn’t sure if remote work would last forever,” she says while playing building blocks on the floor with Leo.

Newly arrived Kate and Robert Baldwin took a leap of faith to find their new home. It was not celebrated to avoid offending the bride.

Kate and Robert Baldwin on the wraparound porch of their home.

Mr. Baldwin, recently married, is looking to trade his DC apartment for a single-family home with space for his future children.Arlington sits on a wraparound porch in a quiet corner near the Key Bridge to Washington, DC. The 29-year-old Baldwins visited twice ahead of an open house scheduled for next weekend, and they said they would make an offer. , Baldwin recalled. Told the offer would not be considered until the following week, Baldwin left for the wedding in Florida. The house, built in 1929 and not updated since the 1980s, belonged to them.

“They were happy to purchase a home in a desirable area, although it required a lot of work,” said Grant of Sotheby’s.

Mr. Baldwin, a policy director at a Washington industry group, was not intimidated by the job. He said that because his father is in the building business, he has a trained eye that can determine the potential of a home and the degree of renovation it needs. He and his DC-based venture his capital firm program His manager, Baldwin, manages the project himself, shops on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace, and spends Saturdays at home at his depot. spent and paid about $60,000 in materials and labor alone. The home now has freshly painted kitchen cabinets and hardwood floors, new bathroom tiles with modern wallpaper and new light fixtures. When spring came, Baldwin said he was surprised to find a sea of ​​hydrangeas outside his new home.

Mitch and Caroline Waldner purchased a new six-bedroom, 5,200-square-foot home in April of this year for $2.15 million. Waldner, who has four children, said his former 1,700-square-foot home was bursting at the seams, but the Waldners wanted to stay in the same school district. It’s a challenge in a market with little inventory, according to Alison Goodhart Dushuttle, a real estate agent for the Goodhart Group in Alexandria, Virginia. When she sees a new construction site with a For Sale sign. The house she learned was under contract, but the builder had two of her projects nearing completion on a nearby duplex. To create it, we subdivided the existing land and split the previously single-family home into two. On his first visit in February, Waldner said he felt the remaining yards were too small, but after reexamining in March, he locked in favorable mortgage rates and made an offer just before the rate hike. .

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“What you get at home, you lose in the garden,” said Waldner, 38, a federal actuary. “But there’s a little space there,” he says, pointing to a paved patio area with an outdoor dining table and a lawn with colorful roller coasters.

The Waldners’ house (right) and its neighbor’s house share many of the subdivisions.

The Waldners, who now live in Kentucky and began dating when they were in high school, have daughter Lucy, 7, and son Bruce, 5, Woody, 5, Cal, 2, and a big play for their 1-year-old son. I have a room. The house has a large closet. Laundry room and separate tub in main bathroom. Children play in the streets with their young neighbors, but with so many new homes, it’s hardly recognized as the old Arlington neighborhood.

Arlington County grapples with costs and a shortage of family housing. An initiative called the “Missing Middle Housing Study” should change zoning codes to allow townhomes, duplexes, triplexes, and up to eight-unit buildings in neighborhoods that currently allow only single-family homes. One goal is to provide residents with more housing options, said Erica Moore, county communications and engagement manager. The county board expects her to make a decision by December.

According to Shakti Shukla, a digital marketing and communications consultant from Arlington. “I don’t know if letting developers build triplexes is the way to solve the housing shortage.”

Shukla and her husband, Noam Goethes, senior product management director at commercial real estate firm Kostar Group, had their new home within four days of Twigg spotting the for-sale sign. said he had signed a contract with McEearney Associates agents were planting outside a new building on the street. The couple, who Shukla grew up in and ended up living in the area where her parents still live, closed her six-bedroom, 4,600-square-foot home in April of this year. They paid her $2.1 million for her white three-story home with a big trampoline-perfect backyard for twins Reba and Lila, 10, and her son Debesh, 7. I was. decided to stay.

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“We are Arlingtonians,” she said.

Georgetown, Washington, DC as seen from Arlington. Home buyers love Arlington’s proximity to the capital.

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