Foray Into Foreclosures – Part I

Self Affirmation Thru Real Estate

(photo by bcostin)


So as previously mentioned, my wife and I had determined now was the right time for us to look for a home in Northern Virginia. (Considering my decades-long “dislike” of Maryland, it was automatically disqualified.)

This past weekend was our first outing with our Realtor to see what the area had to offer. We stuck to Springfield this weekend; no need to rush hither and yon right out of the gate.

We saw about 8 houses over the course of the last two days. Four were flat-out clunkers, two were ‘ok’, and two were outstanding! So much so we were hard-pressed during a late dinner at Mike’s American Restaurant to decide between the two – supposing we would place an offer so quickly from the start.

Needless to say, I’m amazed – and appalled – at the selection, even within a small five mile radius. Certain neighborhoods seemed to have ‘foreclosure’ or ‘for sale’ signs up nearly every other house. Others, you’d have a hard time finding even one.

A couple of the homes we visited were what I call “tired.” Scuffed walls, small holes, beaten appliances. Lived hard, then left vacant. Homes like that, I assign about $20K of additional “fix-up” money in my head – I’m no handyman, I’m gonna pay some guy to do it for me.

One home in particular you could tell was “rooms rented” – every door had a separate key, the carpet was beat to hell, and it LOOKED like a flophouse on the inside. You’d never know on the outside, though. We ‘passed’ on that one.

There was one place we went to that was still occupied, sorta. The house was a disaster; the two lower rooms were being ‘rented’, and it was just a sad testimony to the overeagerness of some people who bought over their heads and couldn’t keep above water.

Though I will pass on advice to this homeowner(s) – if you’re going to try selling your house, it would *probably* help if you, you know, CLEANED IT UP first. I know you’re supposed to look at the house and not the stuff, but geez! Nothing says “no way in hell” like old food along the baseboards, dirty clothes everywhere, and piles of junk “hidden” in the garage.

Bottom line? This first outing I’d give a B+. Two great possibilities, 4 disappointments. Prospects are looking good, though. I am really encouraged regarding the homes available for our projected price range.

Next week: the I-95 corridor (unless plans change).

4 Comments so far

  1. Tom Bridge (tbridge) on March 3rd, 2008 @ 10:36 am

    Don’t be afraid to look at Fairlington inside the Beltway. Beautiful units, and low condo fees. If you need a realtor, I can recommend one!

  2. wayan on March 3rd, 2008 @ 10:41 am

    Go east young man! The District is fairing better than the ‘burbs.

  3. bhrome on March 3rd, 2008 @ 10:52 am

    Thanks, guys! We’ve got about 5 months before our "notice" is given on the condo we rent now, so we’ve got lots of time. Our plan is to hit mostly in/out of the Beltway in NoVA, plus select neighborhoods in the District. (And yes, Wayan, Petworth is on the list!)

    At this point, there’s only a couple of rules:

    1.) Not a condo, but a SFD (or townie, if the price and square footage is right)
    2.) Reasonable commute for me
    3.) Clean and in need of minimal "pre-move-in" work

  4. Foray Into Foreclosures, Part II | Washington D.C. Metblogs (pingback) on March 24th, 2008 @ 10:38 am

    […] so it’s been a couple of weeks since my last entry on house-hunting. I’d mentioned then we’d be scouring the I-95 […]

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