Annandale Real Estate:  Escape to the Country

By:  Pat Sawhney, ReMax 100

Charming old farmhouse with large kitchen-family room addition at rear and guest quarters with home office in stand alone barn on this  property.To parody a BBC popular program where a Realtor shows a couple three properties somewhere in the bucolic English countryside, we are seeing a similar trend in our own Metro area.

Just last month my clients closed on a lovely expanded and upgraded Rambler (great floorplan) on over one acre in Prince William County.  The hunt had included seeing eight properties and writing offers on four of them before we were successful.  Why?   Because too many other potential buyers wanted the same properties, even ones needing over $50K in renovations!  Finally, we landed the best property by pulling out all the stops in our offer—no home inspection, pay the first $500 of any septic or well repairs, etc. etc. This property was well worth the wait!  The major criteria was to have a large lot with privacy.  They escaped from a small one level home in a very large subdivision wanting both extensive outdoor space for the family and significantly more interior space.

In this new Covid-19 world, people are not only looking to move out to the country, but also to find a home with space for one or even two home offices as commuting distance is not the major criterion.

Being at home more (or practically all) of the time, buyers are looking around their current home and rethinking their needs and space requirements; they are now spending more time outdoors, preferably on their own property.  Have you noticed the increase in landscaping projects?  And, how about all the people who are hiring contractors to renovate their current space or to add space?  Unfortunately, this has led to a shortage of building supplies and a huge increase in costs. 

One property I sold recently needed major help but that was o.k. because my clients, buying below market, can take this new property and retrofit it to their desires vs. buying an already renovated home that might not have met their style choices, color schemes or finishes.  In this case, the school district was the primary criterion, which is still true for many of our clients. Fortunately, excellent school systems exist outside of Fairfax County.

Interestingly, the next topic is—what is going to happen to all this commercial office space which is sitting vacant, or unused as all or most of the employees are working from their home offices?  Since the advent of the Internet, this type of work environment has been gradually increasing.  Virtual meetings and group rented conference space available in every suburb has made working from home or in less expensive leased space in outer counties a definite trend. With Covid-19 rearing its ugly head, people are adjusting to, and liking, this virtual work environment. Does anyone really miss the commute?  As a result, workers are even more productive by being able to fill the previous commuting hours with additional work time and spending more time with their housemates & families.  

Have you ever wondered if commercial space could be turned into condominium living, or how about as shelters or permanent living quarters for homeless or low income people?  For years I have watched the explosion of office buildings in our area, and the increase in retail square footage.  The future may well depend on making good use of these buildings for the common community rather than for business.   This will require grand foresight by government officials plus revenue.  Could some be turned into space for the homeless, for the less financially able elderly, or for those in the regular workforce but at a  lower income level? 

Currently there is (and has been for some time) a shortage of housing in all price ranges and types of housing.  In Northern Virginia, there is only a 1.25 month supply.  We are hoping that starting in 2021 we will see an uptick in the numbers of people putting their homes on the market for prospective buyers who are also hoping this will be their year to buy!  Please know that with the lower interest rates this couldn’t be a better time to grab the brass ring and buy your first or next home.  The maximum loan ceilings have increased and lenders are ready to help you fit their best product to your criteria, income and desired monthly payments.  You will find that renting will no longer be a good option, which is now leading to an increase in vacant rental properties.  As always, one event leads to a change in another category.  There are a lot of moving pieces and, today, a huge sea change in the real estate market is rolling in.

Pat Sawhney
ReMax 100 Realty

5501 Bradlick Rd.
Springfield, VA  22151
703-395-9214
patsawhney42@gmail.com

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