What Arlington County Residents Should Know About Our Real Estate Market and Foreclosures

A MSNBC Article today makes headlines by noting that Foreclosures fell to the lowest level in 18 months in November. The article gives some insight into some common causes of foreclosure:

Banks’ foreclosure document problems aside, many of the factors that have contributed to the foreclosure crisis are likely to be present next year and should continue to drive foreclosures.

Among them: high unemployment, a weak housing market, flat-to-falling home values and tighter lending standards making it tougher for buyers to qualify for financing.

Other common hardships include divorce, illness, and associated high cost medical treatments. But here’s what you need to know if you own real estate, or are thinking of buying real estate in Arlington County. NATIONAL news is not an accurate reflection of the ARLINGTON market. Let me get geeky for a minute:

  • Foreclosures in Arlington have hit their peak…last year.
  • Number of Foreclosures Sold by Year:

2007: 15 (0.5% of all sales that year)
2008: 67 (2.8% of all sales that year)
2009: 184 (6.9% of all sales that year)
2010 (YTD): 119 (with 16 sales pending and only 3 scheduled to close this month) (5% of all sales YTD)

  • The number of short sales increased, while the number of foreclosures decreased. The total number of short sales sold in 2009 was 106, so far we’re up to 134 in 2010.
  • Unemployment in the DC Metro area (especially Northern Virginia) is almost HALF of the national average:

Source: George Mason Center for Regional Analysis

  • Arlington County prices are up 3.3% Year-To-Date in 2010
  • There have been some great improvements to qualifying for a mortgage, including credit scores, assets, debt to income, and income qualifications. However, for those in the area who qualify, they’ve opened the amount and limits of how much you can borrow:
Conforming FHA
1-Unit Property $729,750 maximum $271,050 maximum
2-Unit Property $934,200 maximum $347,000 maximum
3-Unit Property $1,129,250 maximum $419,400 maximum
4-Unit Property $1,403,400 maximum $521,250 maximum

So here’s what I am saying: a massive amount of foreclosures, like you hear about in the news, do not exist in Arlington. They are few and mostly in the same area and the same type of property. Expect to see fewer numbers next year than this year, even though they say nationally there may be more. Real estate is hyper local…and the GREAT news for Arlingtonians – your property values are not subject to the same cruel reality faced by your counterparts in other parts of the country. If you’re thinking of buying real estate in Arlington, have realistic expectations. There are always deals out there, but if you’re looking for a steal, you better start looking – SOON!

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