Saturday, August 20

DC Housing Bubble Popping

With all the talk of whether or not there is a Housing bubble, it has been pretty clear to me that there has been a housing bubble forming in the DC area for some time.

Now there appears to be admission that there is a bubble in the DC area, but that is of no concern to buyers because housing prices will simple rise slower, flatten out, or in a worse-case situation decline slightly. Nobody is willing to predict that house prices will drop dramatically. However, this is what I believe is going to happen.

You read it here first. the DC housing market will pop and it is going to be a dramatic event.

I live in Northwest DC (NW) and each morning I pass the same four houses that have been for sale for months already, and in one case at least a year. Two of them are on the market for well over a million. My wife and I really like one of them, but it is going for $1.2 million, with the price recently reduced. Now I have a good salary, but we have been priced out of the DC market. Sure we could get a loan and buy a house here, but we would be stretched to the limit. We could make things easier on ourselves and take out an 'interest only' loan, but that would be stupid.

So the wife and I are going to wait. We have a nice park-side apartment with a balcony that extends into Rock Creek Park. When the leaves drop in the fall, we can see the million-plus homes on the other side of the park. Our rent is cheap and all utilities are included. We plan on looking again in about a year, once the bubble has deflated. My guess is that prices will drop dramatically and then start their way back up. The trick is knowing when the market hits bottom.

We partly have to thank all of the investors who bought up many of the properties. When we first moved here in 2001 I went to one development looking for a house and was told that they were all sold already. I was shocked to hear that because none of the houses were build yet, just recently poured foundations. Well the houses are built and the investors have them up for sale. Good luck to them . They're going to need it.

Update: Long Island Housing Bubble Popping - Posted 20 Sept

Update: DC Housing Bubble: Popped - Posted 13 November

Market Cools in the Washington Area - DC Examiner (19 Aug 05)

D.C. Area Housing Market Cools Off - Washington Post (24 July 05)


Anonymous said...

You sound bitter. The market will slow, and prices will pull back maybe 5 to 10% depending on the area, but for those of us who have owned in the DC area for over 4 years, we've already seen 100 to 150% growth.

Fred Fry said...

Thanks for the comment.

Yeah, I might sound bitter, but I am not in reality. When I moved to DC in 2000 I could have bought a house, but at the time I was only expecting to be here for two years. Had I bought I would probably have sold by now and moved far away.

But here I am because work is good. I am moving to N. VA to an apartment. Housing prices are still insane. I could buy something, but then I would not have money for anything else. The smart move for me is to rent and sock away as much as possible. The nice thing about renting is that my rent is lower than what my interest payment would be had I bought something. Glad to hear that your house has appreciated as it has!

Sang Lee said...

Fred, good to hear that you and your wife are moving to Northern Virginia. I've lived in Alexandria/Fairfax County for over 25 years, and I think NOVA is a nice place to live.
Nobody knows when and by how much housing prices will go up or down. So, don't worry about all that. Spend your time in finding an area where you and your wife like and want to live. Trying to "time" the real estate market is for investors, not people like you and me. The important thing is that you're happy with your home. In the end, that will make you happy - not making or saving an extra buck.
If you have some money for a decent down-payment(and it sounds like you do), I'ld suggest looking for a home to buy. Don't buy a condo. Buy a townhouse or a single family home -- those types of properties will be easier to sell if you need to move. Also, only look in areas that people you know and meet talk about as being nicest places in NOVA to live in.
It sounds like you might be around 30yo without children. For this demographic, I'ld suggest Clarendon/Ballston area, Old Town Alexandria, Shirlington, or Del Ray section of Alexandria. I'm not familiar with Tysons and Falls Church. Be near a metro unless you like spending a lot of time in traffic.
Remember, when it comes to property, it's all about LOCATION.
Good luck with your search.