So, you’ve received your orders and you are headed for D.C.! There are a lot of wonderful things about the city and the D.C. Metro area in general, and I covered a number of these in my last post. This particular post will focus on buying within the city limits of Washington, D.C. itself, and figuring out where to begin with the VA loan process.
How Much Will It Cost?
As you may have already guessed, property prices within the District are quite a bit higher than outside of the city — well, that is, if you go several miles into the bordering states of Maryland and Virginia (which we just call “NoVa,” aka Northern Virginia).
If you’re north of Alexandria and south of Rockville, then you’re going to pay about the same in D.C. as you would in Maryland or NoVa. A relatively small (and/or English basement) one-bedroom in the city generally starts at around $300,000, while a move-in ready row home will start at around $800,000, and single-family homes tend to start at around $900,000.
What Types of Properties Are Available?
Purchasing with a VA loan isn’t super complicated if you’re buying a row home or a single-family home. But, if you’re looking to purchase a condo, things can get a little more tricky — tricky, but totally doable. You just have to know the neighborhoods and buildings on which to focus.
There are quite a few buildings that are VA-approved, and they tend to be the high-rise buildings, usually in downtown. In rare cases, there are opportunities in smaller buildings, but that’s definitely not the norm. For a building owner, the cost of securing VA approval can be high, so for buildings with only a handful of units, it doesn’t typically make financial sense for them to do it.
Having helped many service members purchase homes with VA loans in the city, agents at Saydam Properties Group (SPG) can quickly identify for you the most popular buildings that we know are approved for VA loans. Also, we know the best lenders to help get you started.
The first step in buying a place is, of course, to get pre-approved. And, you want to ensure you’re working with a loan officer who knows the VA loan process backward and forward.
Have you already been preapproved for a VA loan with USAA or Navy Federal Credit Union? That’s a good start, and we have some experiences we can share on both of these lenders, which will be critical for you as you dive into this adventure.
Which Neighborhood Is Right for Me?
There are about 131 official D.C. neighborhoods — that’s quite a bit for someone new to town to take on! You’ll need an agent who has a strong sense of the types of properties, pricing, neighborhood amenities and vibe of each neighborhood. Saydam Properties Group has a pulse on the market, we know what each neighborhood has to offer and can work to quickly narrow down and identify areas that will best suit your lifestyle.
Get a sense of the Metro Rail lines (just called “Metro”) by checking out this map. Chances are, your office will be near one of these stops, so it’s a good idea to get a sense of accessibility via public transportation if you plan to live in the city.
What If I Want to Purchase Before My Report Date?
Not able to get out here to view properties in person? We have helped many service members purchase while they are still stationed across the country or even on the other side of the world. We use FaceTime to show properties (and neighborhoods). We also provide you with all of the information needed to make a smart decision, and are with you every step of the way, all the way through to when you arrive.
We look forward to serving you, whether you are looking to purchase in Washington, D.C., or in Virginia or Maryland. And, we are grateful to you for your service!