Monday, July 28, 2008

Phoenix Condominiums - Insider View

So I have written a few posts on the Phoenix Condominiums near Clarendon Metro, in Arlington Virginia. I have tried to show some of the pros and possible cons. People come to these blogs in droves looking for a 3rd party opinion.

Recently I have a client that is attempting to put a Phoenix Condo unit under contract. In an attempt to do some due diligence for him, I reached out to a former client that bought there. Here was the exchange:

Hey Edward,
How are things over at the Phoenix? I have a client that is interested in a unit there, so I wanted to see what the inside scoop was. Any plans to jack up the condo fees? How is the firehouse? Any other complaints? Like parking?
Hope all is well,

Reply from Edward:
Hi Frank!
Good hearing from you.
I haven't heard anything about jacking-up the condos fee - but I would think they wouldn't want to brag about that - just hit us with it... :)

The firehouse doesn't really bother me... For me, it's all part of the noises of city life, but that's just me. If your client is a light sleeper, then they will get woken up. In regards to the decibel level, it really no louder than when you hear the siren in ANY part of Clarendon. The sound seems to echo through the area quite nicely... ;)
Personally, I really like it AND I'm not that fussy about things.

I like it because of the area and I walk around quite a bit.

Parking is fine, I've really not heard too many complaints there.
There seems to be some discussion about Comcast and a poor signal, but the condo group is taking care of that.

I wouldn't say it's quite a party complex though... A few people are trying to get things going - that might be part of being in a new building... No problems with more questions if you got them!
Take care!

If anybody has any other questions, please email me or add a comment below and I will reach out to Edward.Written by Frank Borges LL0SA- Broker

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Clarendon 1021 Rooftop Parties

Clarendon 1021 Summer Rooftop Parties are the best thing in Arlington.

Nothing beats having 100-200 friends at your rooftop.

Just last night, we had a rooftop party where 4 different groups got along on the rooftop.
The music, hottub and pool are open til midnight.

The best part of the rooftop is the Washington Monument view.

Also when I think about the other condos that have pools on the ground level (besides the fact that they only get sun 50% of the day) , I just can't imagine them being able to pull in such a large crowd. The noise would go up into the condos and it just wouldn't work. The only place that might have a better rooftop would be the Odyssey Condos in Courthouse... but that is Courthouse. When everyone was done last night at midnight, they walked 1 block to the Clarendon bars.

Written by Frank Borges LL0SA- 1021 Owner and Realtor

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Odyssey vs Clarendon 1021 in 22201 Arlington VA

(Bias alert: I live in and own a unit at 1021 in Clarendon, or see blog post & video and I love it.)

But the Odyssey Rocks.

Construction Material
I’m not a builder, but since 1021 was built initially as a rental apartment, Odyssey was built more solidly. Also the upgrades are all a level nicer from flooring to appliances.

Green Building
I don’t know if the building has an official “Green” status, but the sellers we have helped have shown us their utility bills and they were as low as $35 a month total. About ½ of 1021. Sorry if this post doesn’t add new information. I’m just telling you what I know and not Bsing what I don’t.

The View
If you think 1021 has a great view, the Odyssey’s roof top will blow your mind. Couple that with an amazing rooftop party room (1021 had one, but it got sold off as a unit) and rooftop gym and it puts 1021 to shame. (no hot tub in the Odyssey though)
This is where 1021 skyrockets back on top. 1021 is located in the more expensive Clarendon vs Courthouse. It is just 2 blocks from wholefoods, shops, restaurants, and night life. Meanwhile people that I know in Courthouse (1 metro to stop away) head to Clarendon 80% of the time. But not so fast, the nextdoor Dr Dremos and Taco Bell are being replaced with a retail area similar to Clarendon.

They are both about the same distance to their respective metro, with courthouse being one stop closer to DC, but also one stop more full of people.

The best thing to do when in these buildings is to talk to the neighbors. Recently I was working with a client and my 1021 bias was apparent so I thought I’d strike up a conversation with a resident.

“Excuse me, we are considering the Odyssey Condominiums and 1021 Condos. When you bought did you look at both?”

He went off on 1021 and how much he loved the Odyssey. On top of that, the 2 br run about $30-40K less for a similar sized 2 bedroom on a similar floor level. For him it was a no brainer, The Odyssey won him over.

When showing places I try to keep my opinions to myself.

It doesn’t matter if I like brown or rooms that can hold a projection TV. Or a condo that is 20% larger. Who am I to say how much room you need to live or how much you might not mind walking a few extra blocks.

Bottom line is the Odyssey is worth looking at. Here is a link to Odyssey Condos for sale today. Here are 40 photos from 3 units we sold here.

Do watch out since some units are wildly overpriced there. As in over $100,000 overpriced. Also email me if you want to see a spreadsheet that my agent Megan (our agent) did. She analyzed 30 past sales and it runs a ratio of the average profit and loss by the initial purchases (don't just go by the tax records, the seller subsidy matters!).

Written by Frank Borges LL0SA- Broker

Monday, June 16, 2008

Review: Williamsburg Condos in Arlington's Courthouse

Williamsburg Condos on 1276 N Wayne St Arlington, VA 22201

I have 3 friends that live in the Williamsburg Condos in Courthouse. They love it!

The 1st thing that stands out is the huge floorplans versus the newer buildings in the area. This building was built in 1982 1993-1994 and to a certain degree it shows in the common areas and the lack of a rooftop social area.

I didn’t know if rooftop pools are much more expensive, but it seems like a waste that the Williamsburg condos doesn’t use their rooftop at all. No pools, no party room, no nothing.
Since the units were built in 1982 some will have renovations and some will be original.

A renovation can alter the price by $50,000 so make sure you compare apples to apples.

Also each floor can be about $4,000 in value.

The building does have a pool tucked in the back corner.

This building is about twice as far from the metro vs Odyssey and 1021.

PARKING: I love the 5 short term 30 minute spots in the front. I wish everyone had that. I rarely see even half of them taken. Also street parking is plentiful (I think it is all metered, can somebody verify that?). Spots tend to go for only $10k-$15k (vs $40k elsewhere)

Also the parking inside the building is plentiful. I understand you can rent a spot for as little as $50/mo and buy for as little as $10,000, but now more like $20,000.

So the building is less expensive than Clarendon 1021, since it is older, but also Courthouse is about $40,000 less than Clarendon.

A list of all Actives for sale in: Williamsburg Condos.

Please let me know if you have any questions about this condo, wanna see more photos, or if you would like to contact my friends and ask them specific questions. We have bought and sold several units in this building (see 60 photos of 3 sold units) .

-Written by Frank Borges LLosa- Broker
ps. Here is the official site for this condo.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Bromptons at Cherrydale Arlington Voted to be Demolished

From Cherrydale Arlington's Sweet and Sour News.:

"On May 7, 2008, the Arlington County Planning Commission recommended to the County Board by a vote of 12-0, that the unfinished Bromptons building be considered a blight under County ordinance and that the County move forward with its demolition"

More on Ed Peete and Zoso here.
Here are the homes for sale in Cherrydale Arlington Virginia on (add photos if you visit any of these homes).

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Builder Pricing... Mark It Up & Go "On Sale"I

It is tricky these days buying a new construction condos (read post on the risk of new construction). Why? You don't know the freaking real price. Some builders are actually INCREASING prices. I think they are doing that because they feel pressure to give a large % off list so the buyer gets a "deal."

Meanwhile other builders are using this as an opportunity to aggressively drop their prices to look like a steal... but then they won't budge. Not even $5,000.

Also I have been hearing from these builders about several buyers coming into their offices after reading my blog. They come in without a Realtor (including me). So I blame myself for obviously not fully explaining our value vs being a paper pusher. Builders love unrepresented buyers... since they have a big "sucker" pasted on their forehead. Why have an agent that knows which buildings drop by how much?

And if you only know the BS that I have heard come out of these builder's sales teams mouths.

It doesn't cost you anything (and some of you now are thinking, but I can get a better deal if I can cut out the buyer agent, and that is also just wrong)

Don't like me? Ok, I probably wouldn't like you. So go buy with Jay, Rick or Brian, (all 3 different firms) I don't care, just don't walk in solo.

Sign up for the main blog over at and I'll try and do a better job outlining a good agent's added value.

Written by Broker

Palatine Condos Give Ups, Returns Deposits

I have to give credit to Realtor Rick Bosl for this one.

People have been asking me about official word on Palatine Condos in the Courthouse area of Arlington. Here is his post on that: Palatine Goes Rental

The only thing I would add is to see if you get some sort of interest on your deposit. Read your contract closely. Some builders are trying to get out of their obligation to pay interest. Sometimes that can be $2,000.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

$135,000!? EOS 21 Auction: A Steal or Bait

Only $135,000!? EOS 21 Condos in Alexandria Virginia just announced a condo-conversion auction of 43 units. A "Once in a Lifetime Opportunity!"

This is the second condo-conversion project to take this "liquidation" sales technique. I know I say in my blog "I told you so" a lot, well no exception here. The risks with buying new construction (or conversions) is huge when they have excess inventory. New Construction Bargains: Risks or Rewards?

So what about EOS 21? Well the auction is brought to you by the same people that held the Parkside at Alexandria auction back in October 2007 (see Parkside at Alexandria 1st post). Parkside had "starting prices" at $225,000, but ultimately got bid up to $280,000 to $290,000 (see post #2 the Results show with video). "Down" from an inflated sticker price of $340,000 (2lvl TH).

All in all they sold for maybe 5-10% off the price you could have gotten the week before with a written offer.

And now a few months later... they STILL have units that are priced starting at $290,000 (and there are a ton of short sales on the MLS in Parkside) which is just about what they went for at auction time.


POSSIBLE BIAS ALERT! One thing that really ticks me off is the buyer agent broker offering. They offer only 1% to the buyer agent. In Virginia 95% of the time the offer is 3%. Why would they want to discourage a buyer from having an agent???? Um, because then the agent can get in the way of the transaction and actually represent their client.

So even though I write this post and people will learn about the auction, I won't take any clients to this auction unless they make up the difference. Why?

1) They will not go for anywhere near $135,000, so I won't even get the 1% ad it will be a wait of time for me.
2) My buyer agent contracts state what I get paid, so a buyer would have to make up the difference.
3) But even if a buyer is ok with paying #2, see #1.
Unless you are SERIOUS about bidding up to 90% of list price, and agree to pay my fee, then I can help you. I know, damn greedy Realtors! Why won't they waste 5 hours with me for that Once In A Lifetime!

Why would they want to DISCOURAGE REPRESENTATION??
So you won't know your rights. Did you know that you can still back out of the contract, even after the auction, if you don't approve of the HOA docs? These auctions do not trump the HOA review period (it does for a foreclosure).

(Sidenote, the "out" that you have is a double-edged sword. Because people know they have an "out" they will probably be MORE comfortable bidding $20,000 higher, so don't just see it as a win win for you)

Disclaimer: EOS gave me permission to post their ad, as long as they reserved the right to ask me to take it down if they don't like the blog post. I'm curious to see if they will request for the ad (not the blog post) to be removed.

- Written by Frank Borges LL0SA Broker

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Clarendon 1021 Green Day

A couple of months ago, Clarendon 1021 held a GREEN DAY.

They invited several merchants and Fresh AIRE – Arlington Initiative to Reduce Emissions to teach residents how to reduce energy and recycle. This initiative was created by several owners at 1021 that are very environmentally aware and they work with management to make everything as Green as possible.

Here is AIRE's blog about this event.

Here are some more photos of the Green Event at Clarendon 1021.

For a list of active for sale, go to a
nd the blog and video walking tour can be found on the other blog post on Clarendon 1021 in Arlington

- Written by Frank Borges LL0SA- Owner of a unit at 1021

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Phoenix Condos in Arlington Va Reviewed. Pros & Cons ie Fire Dept

The Phoenix Condo in Clarendon Arlington Virginia (video tour) was completed in 2007.

After two other Arlington Condos, including Zoso went "non-condo" there was speculation whether or not Phoenix would continue their condo project. While they had 100+ units under contract, the risks were high. Subsequently they decided to go for it. And as expected, many people backed out of their contract (ask for details).

I live in Clarendon 1021, just around the corner. I have a strong bias toward that building, but I'll do my best in comparing the two.

Background: The Phoenix initially priced their units at the TOP of the market, comparable to 1021. The first 10 sellers of Clarendon 1021 made a $80,000 profit (now they lose $25k). That is when Phoenix priced their "Pre-construction" prices. A 2 bedroom in 1021 went as high as $670,000, now you can get a similar one for $570,000. A $100,000 price drop. Now do you see why people forfeited (and some fought, ask for details) their $35,000 deposits at Phoenix?

So now the question is if you like Clarendon (side note, all my friends that bought in Courthouse or Ballston, they all meet up... in Clarendon), is the Phoenix a "deal?" Yes it is less expensive after subsequent price drops versus 1021, but I go at length in my post about the risks with new construction.

Blatant side note: I know many of you think Realtors are worthless. You have two legs right? You can just walk on into a new construction. You don't need no stinking agent! Well maybe, just maybe, we know a thing or two that might help you. Don't like my style, find somebody else. Whatever you do, have somebody on YOUR side. Oh, and did I mention, there is no additional cost to you.

Anyhow, here are a few photos of ThePhoenixCondo :

Phoenix Condos ArlingtonPhoenix Condos ArlingtonPhoenix Condos ArlingtonPhoenix Condos Arlington

Here are another 28 photos of The Phoenix Condos in Arlington
I have more photos of units, but those can't be published online without seller permission. But I can email them to you upon request.

  1. Less expensive. For the most part this is true. But if there is a bank owned 1021 unit, you might get a similar price.
  2. Built to be a condo. Meanwhile 1021 was built to be an apartment complex, and was later converted. Builders cut more corners for apartments complexes.
  3. Nicer appliances
  4. Rooftop pool, slightly deeper pool and larger areas for events, but no DC view.
  5. Large party room (the one at 1021 was sold off! as a unit)

  1. Fire Department! Is located just behind the building. So depending on where your unit is located, the noise will be a factor for many buyers.
  2. Large remaining inventory to sell. What if they auction off units like Parkside Alexandria.
  3. No Hot-Tub. Clarendon 1021 has a great rooftop, now with an outdoor HotTub that is even on during the winter. With a monument view.
  4. No Monument Views. An apartment complex blocks any Washington Monument view.
  5. Cathedral View? Currently yes, some units have a Cathedral view. However, last week a 12 story building was announced. Just over Clarendon Grill. I have asked the sales team to look into whether this would block any unit's views. They are looking into it, they didn't know about the upcoming building (see above why it helps to have somebody on your side asking the right questions, all for no extra cost to you)
So the location is great. The price is currently lower than other Clarendon Condos, but there are many things to weigh in making the right choice.

I'd like to open this forum up for people to list other pros and cons (when comparing Clarendon condos) that I might have missed.

Written by Frank Borges LL0SA- Broker