Photo from iStock.com/amedved
Alexandria, Virginia, is a city that consistently evolves and attracts attention, thanks to its prosperous real estate landscape. As a military member, whether you're looking to buy, sell, or rent, it's crucial to stay informed about the current trends.
Real estate trends affect your current and future budget as well as shine a light on the pros and cons of what it's like living in a high cost of living area outside of Washington, DC, including implications from massive projects like Amazon HQ2 and the potential for a new professional sports area.
Alexandria VA Home Buying: Navigating Stagnant Prices and Interest Rates
Alexandria's current buyers market presents challenges and opportunities for military members considering buying a home in Alexandria, Fairfax County, or The City of Alexandria. Prices have remained relatively stagnant, but elevated, providing a stable environment for potential buyers. However, the key consideration is the interest rates, which, while better than in previous years, are not at their most favorable.
Aerial view of King Street. Photo from iStock.com/said elmobasher
The Northern Virginia Association of Realtors and George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis predict that interest rates will dip in 2024. But will it be enough to entice sellers to put their homes on the market and boost the housing inventory?
NVAR’s annual report notes that prices for single-family homes will be higher than pre-pandemic numbers, but they won’t meet summer 2023 prices. The exception might be in Fairfax County, where the expectation is that single family homes will increase more than their counterparts in the City of Alexandria.
Keep in mind, however, that homes in the two Alexandrias can’t be compared “apples to apples.” Property taxes, location, access to public transportation, and square footage all play significant roles in pricing.
For an example of what to expect, here's an example of two recent MilitaryByOwner listings:
- Alexandria, Fairfax County: 3 Bed, 2.5 Bath (Townhouse) at $619,000
- City of Alexandria: 3 Bed, 4 Bath (Condo) at $875,000
Alexandria VA Home Sellers: Interest Rates Could Spark Increased Interest
Improved interest rates have generated increased interest among potential buyers—good news for military members who want to sell their homes due to a PCS or transition out of the military. However, savvy buyers are still hoping for a return to interest rates at 5% or below.
Homeowners who want to sell soon should leverage increased buyer activity by ensuring the property is well presented and that the pricing is competitive. Owners must convince buyers in multiple ways that their home is worth buying in spite of the higher interest rates.
Renting a Home in Alexandria: Navigating Low Inventory
Military renters face the challenge of low inventory, a common trend in desirable areas like Alexandria. However, the key for renters is to stay diligent and start the process early, especially considering the vacancies due to plenty of military members with PCS orders leaving the city.
Military members may need to prepare for sticker shock and begin saving for pricey deposits. A quick search on MilitaryByOwner shows the most expensive single family home with five bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms renting for $7,850. However, on the other end of the price point spectrum, a one-bedroom, one-bathroom condo is available for about $1,700. Most often, military families look for a rental home priced somewhere in between. Single family homes in the most popular neighborhoods start around $3,800 and quickly rise.
Starting the rental search well in advance allows a little more room to be picky about things like the neighborhood and amenities such as a fenced yard for pets. The same is true for proximity to transportation hubs such as a direct bus route to the Pentagon or walkability to a Metro stop.
Photo from iStock.com/BackyardProduction
Major Developments in Alexandria: Amazon HQ2, Virginia Tech, and Potential New Stadium
A Potomac Yard Arena? A Double-Edged Sword
The announcement of the new Capitals and Wizards arena in the City of Alexandria’s Potomac Yard area has generated mixed opinions regarding its impact on real estate. While the expedited development resulting from the new arena is expected to boost home values, homeowners have significant concerns about increased traffic and congestion.
For military families considering buying near Potomac Yard, it's crucial to weigh the potential benefits against the drawbacks. The demand for apartment rentals and condos may significantly increase due to their proximity to public transportation and walkability, making them more resilient to daily traffic congestion.
Amazon HQ2, Virginia Tech, and Overall Trajectory
Potomac Yards’ expansion and improvement trajectory already tracks a robust upward curve, thanks to major developments such as its walkable location to Amazon HQ2, the new metro station, the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus, and ongoing residential construction.
The addition of the stadium is expected to expedite further development, but its impact on home values is yet to be determined. Some real estate professionals believe more growth will increase home prices, while others think prices are maxed out and could drop due to the negative factors associated with the new arena, such as heavy traffic and tax implications.
Military members considering Potomac Yard should assess the long-term benefits and potential drawbacks. The area's attractiveness for living and investment purposes may hinge on individual preferences regarding traffic, congestion, and entertainment options.
Fairfax County: South Alexandria Revitalization Project
Fairfax County, adjacent to the City of Alexandria, is undergoing a South Alexandria revitalization project—including the newly named Potomac Banks. Potomac Banks encompasses many neighborhoods that military members prefer, thanks to their easy commute to Fort Belvoir and the Pentagon.
This tourism initiative aims to enhance the economic and development aspects of the area. Military members exploring real estate opportunities in Fairfax County should watch how this project unfolds, as it could influence property values and neighborhood dynamics.
Photo from iStock.com/goredenkoff
Making Informed Real Estate Decisions
As a military member navigating the Alexandria, VA, real estate market in 2024, staying informed about current trends is crucial. While buyers can benefit from stable prices, sellers can capitalize on increased interest sparked by better interest rates. Considering the low inventory and PCS turnover, renters should start their search early.
The impact of significant developments like the Potomac Yard arena, Amazon HQ2, and the newly formed Potomac Banks adds complexity to real estate decisions in the Alexandria area. Military members are encouraged to weigh the pros and cons carefully, considering their preferences and long-term goals.
Learn more about living and working in Alexandria with our Alexandria Guide for Newcomers.
By Dawn M. Smith