Posts Tagged ‘ DC ’

Not Even Two Months Of Inventory!

I was sniffing through the latest real estate data for our area out here in Northern Virginia, and I saw something that shocked me, even as a rookie agent.

Inventory Right Now–Under TWO MONTHS!

In real estate, we have what’s called “inventory.”  We measure inventory in “months”–as in, if no new homes were listed on the market beginning right now, how long would would it take to sell them all?  Six months’ inventory means just that–it would take six months to sell all of the homes.  (Six months, by the way, is generally known as a “balanced market”–if the number rises or falls too far from six months, the market will become tremendously out of whack.)  It’s basically supply vs. demand;  three or five years ago, when this area had 14 months’ worth of inventory, there were too many homes for the amount of people there were to buy them.  Back then, it was a “buyer’s market,” which means that buyers were able to get closing costs (and plenty of other things) paid by sellers, who were practically begging someone to take their property off their hands for them.If you click on the link above, scroll down to the second-to-last graph, labeled “Inventory vs. Closed Sales.”  You’ll notice on the right side that the graph shows that we have just under two months of inventory in Fairfax County.  Inventory here is almost three times smaller than it should be in a balanced market, making the market very decisively in the seller’s favor (or, a “seller’s market”).  We (real estate agents) are seeing more and more commonly very-well-equipped properties which are priced well staying on the market for three or five days, and selling under five or eight competing offers.  It’s very competitive right now to find great homes for your clients.

If you happen to find yourself looking to buy a home in a market as intensely comeptitive as this one has become, here are some tried-and-true tips to win against everyone else.  And if you are looking within the Washington, DC area, you need to get me on the horn as soon as possible, so I can help you find a house that feels like home when you first open the front door.  (I know, I know, and I’m sorry…I’m working on trying to find a picture of my mug that will fit there…but in the meantime, feel free to browse the area’s inventory at your leisure!)

I’m glad that I was able to find a great place for my clients (we are under contract and working toward a mid-March close date), and I understand now why we were out-competed in the first three properties they wanted to buy!  Lesson=Learned!


Fame, Fortune, and Power: Who Lives Near You?


Mila Kunis

We’ve all had a story about meeting somebody famous or powerful…well, around here, it seems to be a little more commonplace, and it got me interested.

I was doing some sniffing around, and I’ve found some interesting things having to do with the Northern Virginia (or NoVA) area.  First of all, we’ve got some pretty famous people from here.  Dave Grohl–legendary drummer of Nirvana, and leader of the Foo Fighters–is from the North Springfield area, down by where 495 curves to the east to head toward DC.

We can also lay claim to Mila Kunis–one of the stars of “That 70’s Show,” and an all-around fox.  She moved here with her family from Russia when she was 7, but hey, we’ll take it.  She still speaks fluent Russian, also…see her skills on full display during this promo for a movie she and Justin Timberlake were promoting in Moscow.    She went to Fairfax High School, graduating only a year after me, in 2001.  I feel so underaccomplished!

Our area has also been home to Sean Parker (creator of Napster, and founding member of Facebook).  He went to Chantilly High for the last two years of high school, and was actually born right here in Herndon, where I’m living right now.  Once again, I guess my parents were right:  “You’re not living up to your full potential!”

Sandra Bullock and Warren Beatty (and also Shirley McClaine, who was his sister) are all from Arlington, and John Walsh (host of “America’s Most Wanted”) lives in Alexandria.

Lorena Bobbitt works as a hair stylist in Fairfax, and is said to live in the Manassas area.  I am sure she is a wonderful woman and a skilled stylist, but…she couldn’t find a job that doesn’t require blades?

Of course, there are also tons of famous sports players and government folks alike who live in the area, scattered all over.  It’s fascinating to live in an area where one might routinely bump into Newt Gingrich while getting coffee at Starbucks.  I’ll bet the residents of NYC and LA are used to it, but I’ve never lived in a place where so much education and  business actually happens.  The entire DC metro area is one of the most powerful places on the planet, and it’s fascinating that some real talent in the entertainment industry was born and bred here as well.  As a Realtor, it throws in that extra bit of excitement that I’m in this field, because you just never know who your next client will be!

What famous people are from your town?  Does anyone famous live near you?

The Great Unknown…Returning To School and Career Change At 30.

The time has come to stage my coup.

I’ve been accepted into The American University’s Kogod School of Business, and I can’t wait to get that ball rolling in the fall.  Further, the time has come for me to transition out of aviation (for now) and into a subject that I began focusing on and learning about over five years ago now:  Real Estate.

Business and Real Estate–two things I have no formal experience or education with yet.  I’m leaving the comfort of showing up to work every day at 8am (or 7, or 5, or 6pm), punching the time clock, working on tangible, mechanical things and seeing tangible results…the truth is that I have no idea what will happen in the next couple of months.

It’s both exciting and terrifying.

But you know what?  Nothing will happen if I don’t do it myself, right?  I’m ambitious–sometimes too much so, according to some–and I’ve been waiting for five years to be able to act on this.  I only put it off that long so my wife could properly finish her graduate degree in Arizona, and we lived on my salary alone before we moved out here to Virginia.

Frankly, I’m nervous about how we will survive here while I’m in school.  Our bills aren’t exorbitant, but our cost of living here is.  A nice place in a relatively safe area has been running us nearly $1700 per month in rent, and that isn’t unreasonable out here.  We have basic cable, two sensible, reliable vehicles, and some credit card debt to deal with, but otherwise, we aren’t spendthrift.  We had smartphones (which I got us for cheap during a free upgrade period with our provider), but we downgraded them to save $60 a month on the (required) data plans.  We’ve held off on buying an iPad, despite how handy we would both find one to be–and how much we salivate every time another iteration of it comes out.  We’re getting rid of cable, because it makes more sense to rely on Netflix or Hulu than to pay out the nose for three hundred channels of “WasteYourTimeHere.”  We’re trying to find a cheaper place to move, but we don’t want to dig up $3400 to break our lease early–and that’s if we could even find something.  The occupancy rates at apartments are so high out here that we didn’t even bother looking at several of them because we simply couldn’t find parking near the leasing office.  It’s a great time to own an apartment building.

We’re downsizing as many of our expenses as possible to keep our bills within my wife’s salary alone, in anticipation of my starting school, and the income lag from starting in real estate.  I’ll pick up a job to get through it if I have to, but I’d prefer to have the ability to focus my energy on schoolwork, internships, and networking opportunities if I can.

And then there’s the real estate.

I plan on being a licensed Realtor by September, when school starts.  I figure it will pay off because I’m pretty decent at networking, I talk to everybody, and being in classes with hundreds of students every day gives me the chance to build a friendly rapport with a captive audience.  This will let me capitalize the most out of my time there, because look at this:  The average price of a home in Muncie, IN is something like $185K.  The average price of a property here in the DC area is nearing $400K.  Some of the contacts I have figured out that it would take literally three times as many homes sold in Indiana as it would to make the same money here.  DC will treat me well, if I can wiggle my way into it, and figure out what makes it tick.   As it stands right now, though, almost no one knows me, and I have but a few people in my address book here in the area.  That, of course, is up to me to change, and I intend to; it’s just that everything takes time.

I’m excited about my prospects, though.  I’ve been doing my homework on these choices for years now, and I’m confident they are the right way for me to go.  In five years, I expect to have achieved my goals.  I am standing on the precipice of a turning point in my life.  I know I’ll do it–I know I need to–but it doesn’t stop me from being consumed with trepidation of the unknown, and frustrated by the constant juggling I’ll have to do until I cross the finish line.  I guess that just means I’m human.

Enough about me–what’s new in your life?  What’s the next Great Unknown project you are tackling?  Has it gone according to plan for you?  Did you anticipate the issues you ran into, or were you blind sided by some of them?

An Opinion On The Occupy Movement

If you can ignore the F-Bomb, Adam Carolla has some pretty interesting insights into the Occupy Wall Street movement.  I’m part of the generation they call “The Millenials,” and despite my pedigree, it seems to me that he’s absolutely right.  Skip to about 5:50 for the crux of the whole opinion, but he’s not far off the mark with his whole rant.

Could it be that these folks’ anger and frustration was misguided?  Why did they go straight to Wall Street to stage their protests, instead of to Washington, DC, where the frustration should have been focused?

Could it also be that that is why the “Occupy” movement is no longer relevant, if it’s even still around?  

The sad fact (or opinion, since I am really no expert on this thing) is this:  A bunch of kids were given access to easy money to get through school (they still are), because our own government has guaranteed every one of their loans.  They finished up, got their degrees in Anthropology, Literature, or some other nondescript major, and cannot find jobs with their skillset.  The tragedy is that all of these kids were told, “Just get a degree–it doesn’t even matter which one, they just want to see that you can finish what you started”–and then the mortgage meltdown dealt us a mighty blow, and companies began hiring candidates with skills they actually needed on their resumes.  That left many students with degrees completely unrelated to any work the prevailing workforce needed, to fend for themselves.  This, of course, did not end well, and so you have a “movement” like the “Occupy” movement emerge.  (For the record, I was told this exact same thing, but happened to get into aviation, where it is so specialized that if you gain the skills, the jobs are there right now.)

What many of today’s 18-25 year-olds have in education, they do not have in real-world experience.  It might be true that they were “sold” a wrongful bill of goods as far as education goes, but if no one needs the skills they have chosen to groom themselves with, why does that become the fault or problem of the 1% in this country?  Who is supposed to take responsibility for the consequences of these kids’ decisions?

I understand the knee-jerk reaction to envy, but Adam Carolla speaks the truth in this case.  I am very well aware of the risks of returning to school to tackle a Business degree, but that’s exactly what they are: Risks.  The truth is that my education may not let me walk into a decently-paying job right out of school, and I have weighed this at length in my own introspections, and tried to get my wife to let me talk myself out of it probably twelve times now (she won’t).  It’s a different situation for me also, because this isn’t my first rodeo.  The last time I tried this, I basically crashed and burned.  With age comes wisdom, of course, but even still–the future is never certain.  It’s up to me to figure out how to get where I want us to be.  Not the 1%-ers, not some “movement,” not some law.  Me.  Know why?  Because despite the “bonds” that have been formed by those at the Occupy Movement’s “events,” none of those people actually care about each other.  Sure, some of them will be friends, and try to get each other jobs once they get one themselves, but that happens everywhere.

Those who reacted this way did not help themselves, and neither did these.

Once the Occupy Movement dissipated from every city in this country, every person in attendance was left to fend for himself.  They are still mentally in college; when you’re at college, you will make friends for life, and things will be utopian for a couple of semesters…but they will not be responsible for your grades–that is up to you.  It might be true that no one groomed these people to actually go out and get jobs, but the fact is, the information is out there.  You either stack up, or you don’t.

Get educated, and get a grip on what you want your life to look like.  It’s not up to anyone but you to make it happen!

The Wanderer


I Felt A Little Like This Guy

Since I’ve recently parted ways with my last employer, I’ve come to find that it was in everybody’s interest that I left.  On my first day of unemployment (probably six weeks ago now), I felt a certain calm that I hadn’t realized I was missing.  When you work in a place that is genuinely not a good fit for you, it doesn’t mean that you are a sub-par worker; it means that, no matter how hard you try to “fall in line,” the fact that your goals/aspirations/personality/insecurities/any-other-parts-of-you are different from the environment that you are in every day, will eventually show through in your work and attitude.

The fact is, if you are unhappy at work, it is failing to give you something you are seeking.  If work is unhappy with you, you are failing to give them something they are seeking.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was actually dealing with both.  I was trying to further my own agenda for the company in an environment that wanted no part of my opinions.  I was learning as much as I could for the experience, of course, but also because I had “bought in” to the company–I wanted to do everything I could do to help it succeed and move toward greater progress.  I wanted to feel like I was a true part of it, and rise out of simply being another cog in the machine.  I thought that my willingness to reach for positions greater than I’d ever held would show ambition, but it seems, in hindsight, that my actions came across as naive, foolish, and “wanting to run before you can walk,” as they say.

I’ve picked up work since then, so (luckily) my wife and I haven’t had to deal with starving or getting behind on bills.  In fact, the work I’m doing now pays far better money, but mainly because I am on a contract which is two and a half hours from home, and two states over.  (Hence, two months since my last post.  Sorry about that.)  We’re holding it together well enough, but all of this solitary time I suddenly have on my hands has given me time to think.  Here’s what I’ve come up with.

I was recently accepted to a university here in the DC area, and in five or six months, I’ll be returning to school to complete a Bachelors of International Business (or maybe Finance…I haven’t decided yet) degree.  I’ll be attacking this education with a fervor and commitment that was not present within me twelve years ago, when I started college the first time.  My appetite to learn has only grown over the years, and I cannot wait to learn so much new stuff about the single industry that makes the world go round.  As they say, “Nothing happens until somebody sells something.”

In keeping with my (apparent) run-before-you-can-walk tendencies, I have my eyes set on starting a franchise which is very popular in the Chicagoland area, and literally nowhere to be found in the DC metro area.  I’m sitting on an untapped market, and once I can find startup funding, will have access to a business concept that has been successfully replicated several times already.  It almost seems like, with the exception of coming up with the (extremely startup-capital-intensive) funds, the hard part is already done.  Of course, I have observed that running a business is no walk in the park no matter how automated the business is, but much of the burden of proving the idea is already taken care of.

This is my idea.  I think it will do well in the densely-packed DC metro area, but hey, I’m a total rookie at this.  What the heck do I know?

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