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The U.S. Census says that the average home price hovers around $250,000. I am a real estate agent with inside access, so I decided to check out listings in my area, Northern Virginia, to see just how much home a quarter of a million dollars buys in 2012. Northern Virginia, also known as the southern suburbs of Washington, D.C., comprises four counties, Arlington, Fairfax, Loudon and Prince William counties and several incorporated cities. The highly populated, diverse region boasts some of the highest incomes per household in the United States, according to Forbes Magazine.
Condominiums, a tough sell in some regions, generally sell well in Northern Virginia. Arlington County, however, continues to defy nationwide real estate market trends and remains a seller's market. The county is located minutes outside of Washington's political epicenter, and residents pay a premium for their short commute, by metro rail or bus, into the city. Two hundred and fifty thousand dollars buys a one bedroom, one bathroom unit in a highrise or garden-style building when properties become available, which is rare. Alexandria lies a few miles to the south of Arlington. Listings are less scarce and $250,000 could buy a two bedroom, two bathroom unit in a highrise or a garden-style building.
Among my clients, those with families often extend their search into Fairfax and Loudon counties, known for large spacious homes and nationally ranked public school districts. Unfortunately, In Fairfax County, I had to expand my survey to include homes prices just under $300,000 to find townhouses on the market. The good news is that the townhouses I previewed had three bedrooms, and two or more bathrooms. The bad news is that the homes dated from the mid to late 1970s, which could spell lots of home repairs for new owners. Alternatively, much of Loudon County was built around the year 2000 and thereafter, and $250,000 buys a newer three bedroom, three bath townhouse. The drawback of living in Loudon County remains the long commute and lack of public transportation into Washington.
During the Northern Virginia housing boom between 2001 and 2008, Prince William County was where buyers who wanted a lot of house for a low price concentrated their home searches. This continues to be the case, and $250,000 buys you a large single-family home with as many as five bedrooms and three, or more, bathrooms. Newer construction single-family homes generally feature garages, and older single-family homes from the late 1960s and 1970s feature car ports.