Foray Into Foreclosures – Part I

Self Affirmation Thru Real Estate

(photo by bcostin)

So as previously mentioned, my wife and I had determined now was the right time for us to look for a home in Northern Virginia. (Considering my decades-long “dislike” of Maryland, it was automatically disqualified.)

This past weekend was our first outing with our Realtor to see what the area had to offer. We stuck to Springfield this weekend; no need to rush hither and yon right out of the gate.

We saw about 8 houses over the course of the last two days. Four were flat-out clunkers, two were ‘ok’, and two were outstanding! So much so we were hard-pressed during a late dinner at Mike’s American Restaurant to decide between the two – supposing we would place an offer so quickly from the start.

Needless to say, I’m amazed – and appalled – at the selection, even within a small five mile radius. Certain neighborhoods seemed to have ‘foreclosure’ or ‘for sale’ signs up nearly every other house. Others, you’d have a hard time finding even one.

A couple of the homes we visited were what I call “tired.” Scuffed walls, small holes, beaten appliances. Lived hard, then left vacant. Homes like that, I assign about $20K of additional “fix-up” money in my head – I’m no handyman, I’m gonna pay some guy to do it for me.

One home in particular you could tell was “rooms rented” – every door had a separate key, the carpet was beat to hell, and it LOOKED like a flophouse on the inside. You’d never know on the outside, though. We ‘passed’ on that one.

There was one place we went to that was still occupied, sorta. The house was a disaster; the two lower rooms were being ‘rented’, and it was just a sad testimony to the overeagerness of some people who bought over their heads and couldn’t keep above water.

Though I will pass on advice to this homeowner(s) – if you’re going to try selling your house, it would *probably* help if you, you know, CLEANED IT UP first. I know you’re supposed to look at the house and not the stuff, but geez! Nothing says “no way in hell” like old food along the baseboards, dirty clothes everywhere, and piles of junk “hidden” in the garage.

Bottom line? This first outing I’d give a B+. Two great possibilities, 4 disappointments. Prospects are looking good, though. I am really encouraged regarding the homes available for our projected price range.

Next week: the I-95 corridor (unless plans change).

This post appeared in its original form at DC Metblogs

Having lived in the DC area for ten years, Ben still loves to wander the city with his wife, shooting lots of photos and exploring all the latest exhibits and galleries. A certified hockey fanatic, he spends some time debating the Washington Capitals club with friends – but everyone knows of his three decade love affair with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

A professional writer, gamer, photographer, and Lego enthusiast, Ben remains captivated by DC and doesn’t plan on leaving any time soon.

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