Browsing: Northern Virginia

Market Trends, News & Commentary

Welcome to Virginia.  Stay a while.  Stay FOREVERLast week, I started looking into the Washington, DC Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), which consists of the District of Columbia, Northern Virginia and parts of Maryland. Given the growth in the federal budget over the last few years, I wasn’t surprised to see that the DC MSA was “the most educated and affluent metropolitan area in the United States,” according to Wikipedia.

The District of Columbia itself has made great strides in recent years, including greatly reducing the rate of violent crime. You may recall that it was known as America’s murder capital during the crack-filled 1990s. However, the city’s unemployment rate is actually fairly high, at 11.1%.

Maryland and Virginia, on the other hand, are very prosperous. Both are among the most economically successful states in the country.

Maryland’s Doing Pretty Well…

Maryland, DC’s (mostly) northeastern neighbor, has seen fairly consistent population increases and has a well-below-average unemployment rate of 7.2%. It actually has the highest median household income of any state, although this can be deceiving – the cost of living is also very high there. (The second highest median household income is in New Jersey, which is not currently an economic paradise.)

Market Trends, News & Commentary

Washington DC real estate marketNote to readers: I’ve been criticized for some blunt statements about real estate markets in the past.  You can disagree with me, but I ask that you not doubt my integrity.  I have no real estate interests outside New Hampshire and am not representing anyone.

When I started researching the Washington, DC real estate market, I was impressed by the stability of institutional markets in general and astonished by the growing disparity between federal government and private industry employment.  Put bluntly, the federal government has become the best employer in America.  It is the most stable, with a headcount that grows annually and essentially guaranteed salary increases.  It also offers the best benefits and salaries, except for the very top (the government’s CEO, President Barack Obama, makes $400,000 per year – a nice paycheck, but lower than that for almost any CEO in the Fortune 500).

As you might imagine, having the biggest employer in the country in your back yard is a good thing.  When that employer can always be counted on for a raise, that helps.  Partly as a result of that, the DC real estate market is looking pretty darned good.