Good time to buy an apartment in DC/Northern VA?

10 Replies

Hi All,

I'm trying to make sense of the market right now, specifically in the DC/Northern VA area. Is it a good time to buy an apartment or condo to hold as an investment? I will be in this market for at least 2 years, so I was trying to figure out if buying a studio would be better than renting. I don't have enough savings for a 2-bedroom and therefore would not be able to househack. But I was thinking that I could build up some equity and then rent it out at a premium rent after I move out. Interest rates are low and the are is projected to remain stable over the next 10+ years, so I feel confident in always having a good tenant to rent to. I'm leaning more towards Northern VA due to the relatively friendlier landlord laws vs. those in DC, the job growth due to data centers, Amazon, and warehousing in that area, and the relative affordability.

Any insights would be much appreciated. Thanks!

Condos are a little soft right now, so its easier to buy one than a rowhouse which are on fire.

Thanks @Russell Brazil , yeah I remember you and I chatting a few months ago and you had mentioned there being limited supply for multifamily and rowhouses. I feel like condos are the way to go but I'm not sure about the exit strategy: will the condo board allow renting after I move out, how difficult is it to deal with a tenant in a relatively landlord-unfriendly market like DC, etc. I have to do more research.

@Roberta Allen - Thanks for the insight! I like NoVa but the price points seem out of my range unfortunately!

DC market is great in terms of future appreciation. In terms of the area I'd check out Alexandria as well as Arlington if you are in the market for a condo. Parking will be 100x easier for you if you plan on driving anywhere and you may get better bang for your buck/better neighborhood class. These areas are also sure to appreciate due to Amazon in Crystal City.

@Dan Bernstein Thanks for your comment! Unfortunately I don't have enough saved for a multi in that market, even under FHA or 1st time Homebuyers (I'm not a vet, so no VA for me).

@Jhosdyn Barragan Good point about Arlington, thanks! I'll continue to track that part of the market. 

@Snehann Kapnadak

What price point are you targeting? How much cash are you putting down? FHA or conventional? Where are you looking to invest?

I think running the numbers always helps to clarify how good a deal is. You will live there as a primary? Long term equity play?

Condos are obviously hurt by HOA for cash flow, but can sometimes make sense. You could get a 2 bedroom and rent out another while you live there then rent the rooms individually upon moving out. Condos generally lag in appreciation.

@Leo Watts Thanks for commenting. $250K would be my max price point. I want to put 10-15% down or less. FHA or 1st Time Homebuyer program. Basically I don't want to pay more than $1300/month in my monthly payment (whether that's a monthly mortgage payment or rent payment), so that's my litmus test as of now. I've ran rough numbers in a rent-buy calculator and my breakeven for when it makes sense to buy is around 2.5 - 4 years (depending on the purchase price, estimated rent payment, etc.).

Looking to invest in Rosslyn, Courthouse, maybe Clarendon area. I need to be fairly close to the DC metro area, so I'm hesitant to go too deep into Arlington.

I hear you on condos lagging in appreciation and I also need to make sure they're rentable after I move out. Lots more to think about!

@Andrew Texin Same here haha. I don't want to make someone richer. But I'm also thinking about that phrase "Live/Rent where you want, invest in where it makes sense" and I'm not entirely sure if buying an apartment would make sense right now.

I am new to this, so maybe this is the wrong way of looking at it, but I have the mindset that nothing in life is perfect so I don't need the perfect deal, I just need a deal to get started. Hopefully this isn't the wrong way of looking at it since I obviously am not trying to lose money, but at this point in time I am just looking for experience so house hacking a condo seems like the most inexpensive (realistic) option for me in my area.