Relo to Manassas, VA- Rent or Buy?

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Todd Hochard, Nov 1, 2004.

  1. Todd Hochard

    Todd Hochard Cinematographer

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    Work is calling, calling, calling me away from FL. My company is about to "make me an offer I can't refuse" (as if) to relocate to Manassas. The job will be AT LEAST a two year stint, and perhaps as long as five.

    I've owned my home in FL (well, me and the bank[​IMG] ) for 10.5 years. We are considering keeping it, and renting it out here. I could actually make a few hundred per month, after factoring in mortgage, taxes, insurance, management fees, etc, based on the going rate here.

    I'm looking at homes in Northern VA, and compared to here in Orlando, it is OUTRAGEOUS. It would appear that average homes have risen $100K+ in the last two years, and I am afraid of committing to purchasing a home at the "top" of the market (looks like 350-450K, which I can't really afford on the offered pay alone, without liquidating a few accounts), so to speak. It looks like I could rent a nicer place than I could buy, for the same monthly outlay, as well. e.g. I found a 4-bedroom newer (90s) brick home, for $2050/mo. I don't NEED that much, but I *do* want a garage, and I'm not at all crazy about sharing walls with anyone.

    What to do? This is a will happen within 14 days, or isn't happening, kind of thing (the acceptance of the job, not the purchase). Another part of the problem is uprooting my family (we are deeply rooted in Orlando, in spite of the fact that neither of our parents live here, and our children are young yet). Plus, what I can survive on is under $40k/year here, and is likely to be double that in Manassas.

    I'm conflicted. My head hurts. That is all.[​IMG]

    Todd
     
  2. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    The Northern Virginia housing market is completely insane. It is -way- ovepriced. If I were in your shoes I'd put my equity in the bank and rent and let the market calm down. You may have to wait a couple years.

    The area is really beautiful. Lots of historical Civil War stuff, great museums in DC, beautiful Shennandoah park nearby. Nice place to live.
     
  3. shaniceMW

    shaniceMW Stunt Coordinator

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    i dont think prices will go down. the market may even out, but i always encourage home ownership. there are too many financing programs for all credit types. you get more incentives when you own a home as opposed to renting such as tax breaks. you will get breaks because of relocation if you job wont pay for relocation.
     
  4. Chuck Mayer

    Chuck Mayer Lead Actor

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    I don't think prices are going to drop either. Manassas is going to go up, as the suburbs move farther and farther out.

    I'd buy,
    Chuck
     
  5. shaniceMW

    shaniceMW Stunt Coordinator

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    chuck, cofi and interest only programs are getting very popular out where you are. also the buyers are getting hip to it in maryland. this is why prices can keep going up. lenders continue to make money because they charge these junk fees and buyers can still afford their dream house based on the financing. works out for everyone huh? cept, why do i have to pay 500k for a house that my neighbor payed 250k for three years ago? dang.
     
  6. Kirk Gunn

    Kirk Gunn Screenwriter

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    One issue not covered is the culture change from Orlando to Northern VA. Has your employer offered to fly you up to check out the locale ? While Orlando had it's own "boom" years lately, Northern VA is a different landscape.

    Drive around during all hours of the day (especially rush hour). While Philip pointed out some of the great features of this area, there are quite a few drawbacks... (consistently ranked in the top 2 or 3 worst traffic areas is a biggie). My previous company relocated me to Maryland and it took a few years to find my "niche".

    You may discover something that drives you nuts about being here ! Good luck - a very tough decision.
     
  7. Chuck Mayer

    Chuck Mayer Lead Actor

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    Oh shanice, I agree. I can't believe my wife and I can barely afford our TOWNhome, and we are a two income family, doing pretty well. My friends, located outside of major cities, almost choke when I tell them our monthly payment.

    Kirk is giving great advice. Traffic here is completely abysmal. I only lived in Orlando for 6 months, and while it wasn't great...it wasn't this quagmire [​IMG]

    Good luck,
    Chuck
     
  8. Todd Hochard

    Todd Hochard Cinematographer

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    This is the hangup I have. It is WAY risky to me, if the market turns against me at all. It's not like jobs to pay for $500K homes are a dime-a-dozen.[​IMG] And, I cannot count on employment in Northern VA beyond three years.

    Let's suppose I go with that $500K home. I won't put the full 20% down ($100K, which, BTW, is more than I paid for this then-new home I'm living in now[​IMG] ). So, let's say I do some 80/10/10 BS to stay out of PMI, and I'm left with about $2600/mo in payments, along with another $450/mo or so for taxes and insurance. $3000/mo.
    That same house rents for $2050 right now (I've checked).

    I save $950 a month by renting. Helps the cash flow, never mind that I probably wouldn't even be approved for the mortgage in the first place.

    Does anyone really think that I can count on that $500K home being worth $700K in three years? And, how easy will a home that price be to move? I just cannot fathom where these uber-high-paying jobs are coming from to keep people paying ever-higher prices for homes to infinity. Many markets are moving up at *10 times* inflation and wage growth. Both Orlando and Northern VA look to be such markets.

    Every time I think of this, I compare it to buying Amazon at $200, or Lucent at $84, or...

    Sometimes, I think I should just quit, and start over right here in Orlando. The little entrepeneur in me has been waiting to get out, anyway.

    Todd

    P.S. I'm likely keeping my home in Orlando, regardless, as a hedge, both on ownership, and on having a home base to return to.
     
  9. Todd Hochard

    Todd Hochard Cinematographer

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    I should mention that I'm from Cumberland, MD (just across the river in Ridgeley, WV), and lived in Laurel, MD growing up. My brother currently lives in Odenton, and my cousins in Frederick. So, while I don't know much specifically about Manassas, I am somewhat familiar with the flavor. I was reminded about the traffic last year, when I flew into Dulles.[​IMG]

    My job will require a bit of 24/7 on-call type stuff, so I can't live very far away, and be able to provide the support required. I'm somewhat locked into Manassas, and the home prices are retarded. Going from a 3bed/2ba/2gar home, to a 3bed/2ba/no gar townhouse, sharing walls with neighbors, is not exactly exciting to me.

    I think I'm talking myself out of it altogether.[​IMG]
     
  10. shaniceMW

    shaniceMW Stunt Coordinator

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    todd, you'd be surprised at a loan package you can get. but i agree, to save that 950 a month in mortgage may beat what incentives you would get as a homeowner. great that you are doing your homework. just sold a house in odenton. it's ridiculous out there too. townhouse for over 400k in anne arundel county. good grief. i worked in dulles living in pg county for about two years. one way commute was about a hour of pure hell.
     
  11. Chuck Mayer

    Chuck Mayer Lead Actor

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    That sounds like DC [​IMG]

    Todd, you won't pay $500K in Manassas. What you do pay will go up in three years. I just have no idea how much. It depends on many factors. The upside of my awful monthly payment is the free equity I have gained in a short time.

    Good luck,
    Chuck
     
  12. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Prices haven't been that cheap around here for many years. Try 700-800K.
     
  13. Todd Hochard

    Todd Hochard Cinematographer

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    Here's some of what I'm turning up-

    http://www.realtor.com/FindHome/Home...=2&areaid=7904

    Hopefully that huge thing works. Basically, it's a 3+bed, 2+ bath, 2-car-garage search. I could settle for a one-car, I suppose. I'm not terribly crazy about a 30-40 year old home, either, for fear of the heating/cooling costs.

    MAN, I'm picky.[​IMG]
     
  14. Todd Hochard

    Todd Hochard Cinematographer

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    One more place I'm unwilling to live.[​IMG] My company's home office is there, and they've been trying to drag me there for years.

    I could do it Orange County, CA style, I guess- on my last business trip to "The OC," some of the techs I was talking to are affording homes this way-

    1. Get a 40-year, interest-only note.
    2. Deficit spend your way through your life to make the payment for a year or two. Lots of credit cards help here.[​IMG]
    3. After a year or two, get a cash-out refi or HELOC or 2nd mortgage, then begin using that money to continue paying for the home, and pay off the cards.

    The fact that banks have even allowed this sort of hedging (which was near impossible 10-15 years ago) is likely a prime factor in driving up prices so quickly. It seems stupid, but with more and more people jumping on that bandwagon, it seems unavoidable. It does look eerily similar to the Internet stock bubble, except that with tangible assets that people actually live in, I can't imagine the crash will be as severe.
     
  15. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    Todd,

    Another resource if you're thinking of buying is www.homesdatabase.com.

    If you're actually working in Manassas you should be able to get something relatively close, the terrible traffic to and from Tyson's Corner, Rockville, and DC should not be much of a deterrent to you.I understand what you mean, but this market is totally nuts. My recommendation is to sell in Orlando while the bubble is high, put the money in something very safe and ultra conservative like Money Markets or precious metals for two or three years and then you'll be able to afford anything you want in a few years after the bubble bursts.

    The area is really beautiful and has a lot going for it. Old Town Manassas is wonderful, and there is so much nice stuff around the area to do. Great culture, shopping, scenery, only 5 hours from the beach, etc. etc.
     
  16. Todd Hochard

    Todd Hochard Cinematographer

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    Philip- if I do keep my home in Orlando, I'll certainly be renting. I could come up with a sizable down payment (but not $100k without my Orlando home), but I have to be honest- stocks feel more secure than a home in NoVA, right now.[​IMG]
    We really are leaning toward renting right now, though.

    How many of you would relocate far from your home for a modest increase in pay (very modest, after factoring in the cost difference)? I'm having a tough time coming to terms with uprooting family over a couple of bucks.
     
  17. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    That's an extremely personal question and nobody's opinion really should matter to you.

    When I was growing up my family moved a lot. It was tough as a kid, but also fun. Living in different areas and seeing what they have to offer was very enjoyable to me growing up. I don't know what it's like to live in the same place all the time.
     
  18. Scott L

    Scott L Producer

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    If you move here prepare to have your temper raise a few degrees. Think of VA as the south without the southern hospitality. [​IMG] Also make sure your area is a nice one, damn the expense.
     
  19. Drue Elrick

    Drue Elrick Stunt Coordinator

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    I haven't been in exactly the same situation but I can shed some light on the subject.

    First thing to do is document your expenses, income, taxes, etc. of your place in Orlando. Then divide a piece of paper in two columns and start listing the positives in one and the negatives in the other.

    Once you have a VERY clear understanding of what exactly it costs you to live where you are, plus the intangibles like your children's existing friends, your friends, family, neighbourhood, your debts, your mortgage, bank relationship, etc. you can then judge properly if the salary being offered for the job in VA is worth the move.

    Its not an easy decision. I'd suggest asking your wife and kids what they think. The key is to have as much clear information on which to base your decision on. Don't be afraid to ask for details from the company about the job, the area, how they can help you, how long you'll have to decide, etc.
     
  20. Todd Hochard

    Todd Hochard Cinematographer

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    All been done (particularly talking to the family- doesn't that fall under "well, duh?"[​IMG] ).

    Financially, due to the cost of living, it is a lateral move, at best. Probably not, because I likely won't be able to afford to buy (on near six figs, does anyone else find that insane?). Work hours will be longer.

    I am considering this, because my job here is disappearing. This time next year, if I stay in Orlando, I'll be looking for work.

    Which, as I consider it further, is exactly what I may end up doing. Other than "keeping the income flowing," I can't REALLY think of a good reason to do this. Given that I could remain unemployed for a couple of YEARS here in Orlando, before I'd have to worry about losing anything, I'm not even sure why I'm struggling with this decision so much. I guess these are the times we learn more about our true selves.

    I appreciate the input that I get here, because it's a bit detached, which, in turn, seems to make it more honest. There's a bit of clarity in getting opinions outside of your normal circle of family and friends. Thanks.

    Todd
     

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