Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Another Price Hike:

Yesterday the Dawson got hiked $10,000 and the Parker and the Cassidy both got hiked $15,000.

The pricing history on the smallest floor plan (Dawson) has been:

12/9/16:               $415,000
1/22/16:               $425,000
3/2/17:                 $430,000    
3/28/17:               $440,000

 The pricing history on the middle floor plan (Parker) has been:

12/9/16:               $440,000
1/22/16:               $450,000
3/2/17:                 $455,000
3/28/17:               $470,000

 The pricing history on the largest floor plan (Cassidy) has been:

12/9/16:               $465,000
1/22/16:               $475,000
3/2/17:                 $480,000
3/28/17:               $495,000

They still are offering half off of options but I would think that will probably be the next thing that goes before they would try to raise prices again since this latest hike was a fairly large amount. 

Just doing away with the half off options would effectively raise prices by 10-15k since it is very hard to spend less than 20k in upgrades as I talked about here:

I’m glad to see the community doing so well and hope we are in by the end of May.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Whole Foods opens April 12th

I should have been checking Whole Foods website, I could have scooped the Washington Post as this was posted back on Thursday there.  (it did not appear in Washington Post afternoon on Friday)

As I posted earlier I think the Whole Foods FINALLY opening will really start making the rest of the retail in the community come together.  Looking to the month of May for more retail commitments.


Whole Foods Market Riverdale Park to open April 12

First Whole Foods Market store in Prince George’s County offers highest quality natural and organic products
The store, designed for self-service ease in all departments, will offer the highest quality natural and organic products, including fresh produce, meat, seafood and prepared foods.
“We’re excited to join Riverdale’s vibrant and growing community with the opening of our first Whole Foods Market in Prince George’s County,” said Pia DaSilva, the Riverdale store’s team leader. “The store will include many new and locally sourced and seasonal products that meet our high quality standards. Whether you come for the hand-tossed pizza, the custom acai bowl bar or the six types of cold pressed juice on draft, the store will be a great addition to Riverdale and a new gathering place for the community.”
Every item sold in the store meets Whole Foods Market’s rigorous quality standards and is free of artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners, preservatives and hydrogenated fats.
The 40,000-square-foot store includes:
  • Self-serve fresh brewed coffee and espresso, plus cold brew coffee and tea.
  • Six varieties of cold pressed juice on tap, including single flavors such as apple and pineapple, as well as store blends like “Sweet Green” and “Deep Beet.”
  • Numerous in-house specialties: scratch bread made daily, smoked fish and hand-tossed, wood-fired pizza.
  • A real-time feedback feature that allows customers to text concerns and compliments to Whole Foods Market Riverdale on their way out the door – no forms, no surveys.
  • Custom superfruit acai bowl bar and self-serve mochi. 
The community is invited to join store and company leaders for a traditional bread-breaking ceremony at 8:45 a.m. on April 12.
Community members can register for the opportunity to take a preview tour of the store here. Further details about the store opening will be shared through social media.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Snow did not slow them down!

Building one should have folks actually moving in very soon but three of the six units are models.

Still I think it will be good to have folks finally living in Riverdale Park Station, even if it is only a few people.

They have not started on building three yet.

Building two is coming along at a fast rate.  Seems the snow did not slow them down at all.

Compare this picture below to the one I took earlier this month in this post:

Amazing they can get this much done in just 2 weeks time.  Also they only went vertical in mid-February it is even more amazing how much they can get done in 5 weeks time.  I am guessing considering sales are going so well they have a lot of incentive to get finished with building two and started on building three as soon as they can.

I am glad construction is moving so quickly because not only does this mean we get to move in sooner but also this means the hiker/biker trail may open sooner than expected.  The Cafritz website said the Hiker/Biker Trail would open:  "once they determine that site conditions are suitably safe from dangers associated with the immediately adjacent construction activities. ".  

The faster these units get built the faster the hiker/biker trail will open which will be good for metro riders like me.   Until that trail opens I will have to walk or bike around to Baltimore Avenue which will be much longer.

In addition, there has not been a new commitment to the retail side of Riverdale Park Station since the fall of last year.  Getting these housing units completed and the Whole Foods opened should draw more retail commitments which should in turn draw even more interest and demand into the remaining housing units.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Quick Construction and Sales Update

I was told by the agent that building #2 is ahead of schedule and should be completed in May.   This is GREAT news for us since we NEED to move by May 31st.  

I also asked about how sales are going and heard that building two is now completely sold and roughly half of building three is sold already.   Considering that building three only went on sale earlier this month and will not be completed till Summer this is VERY impressive. 

Glad to see they are all selling so fast.   Considering they still don’t even have pictures on their website or the sales office setup on site yet things are going well.

Also the Whole Foods is opening in mid to late April.   So we are probably less than one month from it opening.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Our Selections:

These are the options we went with: 

Structural selections:
  • -          Parker Floorplan  
(read my previous post:
  • -          Upgraded exterior elevation.
  • -          Gourmet kitchen.
  • -          Alternate third level floorplan allowing for two full bathrooms.
  • -          Loft wet bar.
  • -          Atrium Sliding Doors.
  • -          Lowered Garage

$23,000 in total non-structural options
Major non-structural options we selected in order of cost: 
(Only items over $1000 listed) 
  • -          Level 2 kitchen cabinets. (these are many times more expensive than anything else.)
  • -          Level 2 Hardwood on entire flex space/entrance level.    
  • -          Level 2 Hardwood in Kitchen/Living Room and stairs up to bedroom level.
  • -          Level 1 carpet and Level 2 pads on upper two levels. 
  • -          Granite upgrade for the loft wet bar.
  • -          Backsplash for kitchen.
  • -          Bathroom tile and bathroom cabinet upgrades.
  • -          6 additional recessed lights.  (2 in flex space and 4 in living room)
  • -          3 hanging lights above island, under kitchen counter lighting and wiring for 3 ceiling fans.

I will post pictures after this is finished but before furniture.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Upgrades – Design Studio

So I wouldn’t say I am cheap, but I would say I am very “value conscious” or “thrifty” or many other synonyms of cheap.

So when the sales manager told us that we would probably be spending at least $20,000 in upgrades I did not believe her as I thought this was only “most people”.

I am telling you that you WILL be spending AT LEAST $20,000 in upgrades.

The positives are they are offering half off on upgrades (for right now at least)… so even if you spend $20,000 you are only actually paying for $10,000… Things like crown molding, granite countertop in the kitchen, nice appliances and hardwood on the living room level are all included automatically.

The negatives are that some of the “Level 0” options (included options) you are going to want to upgrade for sure even if you are cheap.

Some of the things you are definitely going to want to upgrade are:
  • -          The “Level 0” hardwood floors do not look great because of the limited available colors.
  • -          The Level 0 carpets and especially padding are pretty poor. (Only three shades of very thin beige are available.) 
  • -          You cannot get white kitchen cabinets unless you go up to Level 2 which, in the gourmet kitchen, is VERY expensive.   For some folks (like my wife) white cabinets are a must.  Level 0 only includes a few similar shades of light brown.
  • -          If you have the wet bar in the loft, it is comes with laminate for the bar which, in my opinion, should be upgraded.   Keep this in mind when deciding to add the wet bar.
  • -          The great room (living room) does not have ANY overhead lighting included – so you’ll probably add some inset lights.
  • -          Smaller things like a garage door opener are options you pay for when you’d think they would be included.

The thing is I have many co-workers who have built new homes and they have all said their experience was much, much worse.   At least with Stanley Martin you are getting brick in all elevations, crown molding and granite and some other goodies included. 
I think upgrade costs are just a part of the new home purchase process and the experience we had in the design studio was great.  They were very helpful and the process was pretty smooth.

I will detail my selections in the next post. 

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Open House Pictures

Looked at three model units on Saturday.  (Dawson, Parker and Cassidy)

They had not furnished the bedrooms and loft yet but good to see exactly what it is all going to look like now.

These are all pictures from the Parker floorplan:

Flex Space/First Floor (taken from staircase):

Kitchen/Second Floor (taken from in front of the bathroom):

Kitchen/Second Floor (taken from dining room):

Kitchen/Second Floor (taken from couch in living room):

Bedroom:   (Pictures I took of the bedrooms did not do a great job showing how large they are)

Loft with wetbar

Rooftop Patio:

Rooftop Patio (from railing):

In comparing the Dawson to the Parker the only place were I could really notice the difference was on the second level (Kitchen/Living room) but on the first level and bedroom level I did not notice much of a difference.

Here is a picture of the Dawson living room from the dining room and you can compare to the Parker picture from the dining room above.

Dawson Kitchen/Second Floor (taken from dining room):

I feel much better about our selection of a Parker after seeing it completed as those bedrooms are VERY large. (17' x 10').   In the Cassidy second and third bedrooms are very small to the point where I am not even sure a queen bed would work in them.    I should have gotten some pictures of the Cassidy as well but I am sure Stanley Martin will get real pictures up on their website soon that will be much better quality than the ones I have posted here.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

One Month in...

One Month, 16 posts almost 3000 views…   Yet only 6 comments so far.   Feel free to comment and share any questions or information you may have on Riverdale Park Station.

I plan to at first use this blog to talk about the purchase, design and moving process and later on have this blog be about the Riverdale Park Station community in general.  I plan to morph this into something more like (which covers where I live now in Brookland DC) or but I also hope these first posts will help future buyers in Riverdale since they will be probably be selling townhomes late 2018 or so.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Adaptations to the Parker Plan:

Although in the previous post I laid out everything that is missing in the Parker and Dawson the positives are with both units the square footage is still there and the open floorplan and rooftop terrace are also still there .  Plus the amazing location is still there for all units.  This is why we decided to still move forward with a Parker.

The biggest issue for us is the lack of a walk in closet.   Our current rental home in DC has two walk in closets in the master bedroom and our previous home had a large walk in closet so we both have acquired a lot of clothes over the years.  Stanley Martin WILL NOT build an extra closet in a Parker or Dawson unit even for extra cost.  (we asked everyone  at the company who would listen)  It may have been because the plans were already approved for our units but I am not sure as it was before they started building. 

For the closet situation we plan to get an additional closet put in the master after construction and honestly we both have a lot of things we never wear and can get rid of.  With two closets in the master and purging some stuff we haven’t worn in a while we should be fine.  We may even go with an armoire for my stuff depending on what the room setup looks like after it is finished.  (it is a large bedroom)

The second biggest issue was the small master bathroom and lack of dual vanity.  For this issue we opted for the two bathroom floorplan and I will use the hall bathroom unless we have guests over.  The baby who is not even due till late Summer will not need their own bathroom for many years.

The third biggest concern was the lack of the third bedroom.  We plan on using the loft area which is plenty big enough (13x10) for a sleeper sofa to solve this problem.  We only have overnight guests a few times a year so using the loft area should be fine.   This loft is actually bigger than most of the secondary bedrooms in other townhomes we looked at the only inconvenience will be our guests will have to go downstairs to use the bathroom.  We also opted for the wet bar up there so hopefully there is still enough space but there should be.

The fourth biggest concern was the one car garage.   Honestly when I think about this one more it is not a problem.  Since I have lived here in DC we use my wife’s car for go shopping and going on out of town trips and my car has only been used to go to the tennis club.  I can now easily walk to the tennis club.   With a community as walkable as Riverdale Park Station you really only need one car.  I probably will end up selling my car as I have only put around 2000 miles on it in the past 2 years since I moved to DC and without the trips the tennis club I am never going to use it.  Either way I do hope the HOA for Riverdale allows at least one street parking spot per townhome.   I have a call into the HOA about this and I will update the blog when I get a response.  Currently since the HOA doesn’t exist yet it is hard to get an answer.   :)

With these adjustments we think the Parker floorplan will still be PLENTY of space for us.   We are only 2.5 people at this point and the townhouse is 2097 square feet so really this should all work out fine.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Dearth of Cassidy's!!

Stanley Martin had three floorplans to choose from…

-          The Dawson at 1873 square feet
-          The Parker at 2097 square feet
-          The Cassidy at 2256 square feet

My only real problem with Stanley Martin’s design was not including a 3 bedroom with walk in closet in master and two car garage and dual master vanity in AT LEAST their middle level design.  (The Parker)  Really these things should have been included at all three levels.

What I don’t understand is even with smallest unit (the Dawson) at 1873 square feet they still had PLENTY of square footage to do these things.  We saw townhomes in Brookland and Hyattsville that had only 1300-1400 square feet but they still had a walk in closet, 3 bedrooms a two car garage and dual vanity in the master bedroom.  Pretty much every development we looked had these amenities even in their lowest end floorplan.  Every unit had at least a walk in closet in the master bedroom which EVERYONE wants.

So we knew we really wanted a Cassidy floorplan but unfortunately we found that the market agreed with us that these things are REQUIRED for buyers.  Not only were ALL of the Cassidy’s already sold but there were already EIGHT folks committed to buy Cassidy whenever they released more.    At this point (in early February) they had just started selling these units a couple of months ago offsite(45 minutes away) and a model was not even done yet.

To make things even worse, the next building (Building 3, units 18-30) was not going to even go on sale till March or April and would not be ready until Fall of 2017 and would only have THREE Cassidy’s in the entire 13 unit building.   So odds are even if we were willing to wait until Fall (and remember our first child is on the way and our lease is expiring on May 31st) we STILL would not get a Cassidy because those eight folks in front of us would get first chance at the three units available.

So we were stuck in the situation where we adapt to a Parker or Dawson or choose another community altogether.   This made the decision for us to go with Riverdale MUCH more difficult as I feel it would have been a no-brainer for us had a Cassidy been available.

Anyway we decided to move forward with a Parker just because as you can see from my earlier post series “Why Riverdale” we were in love with the community itself. 

I still don’t understand the design decision from Stanley Martin’s perspective but hopefully if they are not allowed to build more Cassidy units to meet demand they are at least smart enough to jack up the prices on Cassidy units.   Only a $25,000 price differential to get what EVERYONE wants means they are going to continue to have the problem with a very long Cassidy waiting list.  (I have heard the waiting list is already MUCH longer today than when we signed our contract a month ago)
It is going to get to the point (if it is not already there) that EVERY Cassidy in the entire development will be accounted before the first building (6 units) is even inhabited and there will be 119 townhomes when this is done in 2019 or so.  

When you have already had commitments to buy ALL of one floorplan in a three year project before your model is even open you think you would realize there is an pricing/design issue.

Next post I will detail how we plan to make the Parker floorplan work for us.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Editors Park Not Faring Very Well.

This blog is all about Riverdale Park Station but I did a check on one of the units I researched a few months ago and what’s going on at Editors Park is NOT pretty right now.

I briefly talked about Editors Park in my Search Process blog post from 2/18/17 here:

What I said is that “The issue we had here is we really just did not like the PG Plaza area as we have shopped there many times in the past living not too far away. We also did not like the overall layout of the community.”

I am guessing other folks must be feeling the same way.

Check out this property in Editors Park as a microcosm:

3109 Sentinel Dr  Hyattsville, MD 20782
Price History
Price change
NVR Services ...
Price change
NVR Services ...
Price change
NVR Services ...
Listed for sale

They have already dropped the price $40,000+ in just the past 3 months and it still has not sold.   The folks that already have purchased over there cannot like seeing them continue to drop the price like this especially with the overall real estate market still going stronger than ever.

What’s even worse is they also have 10 already completed units listed in the MLS and ready for immediately delivery.  Riverdale only has one unit for immediate delivery and that one is directly next to the model.

I think they are building the units too fast and they started the prices too high.  

If you look at these units (The Clarendon) they are 1873 square feet which is the same size as the Dawson floorplan in Riverdale.   Yet the Dawson started pricing at $415,000  (now at $430,000) and Ryan Homes TRIED to start the Clarendon at $490,000  (now at $450,000).     Even down at $450,000 with the extra bedroom you get in the Clarendon I would still rather have a Dawson in Riverdale for $20,000 less.   (same square footage, better location, better builder, less cost)

They instead should have done what Riverdale Park Station is doing where they start the prices low, build the units slower and move the prices up over time… it is a much better strategy for both buyers and sellers.  Of course I believe the location is better at Riverdale and that has even more to do with it vs. just their poor sales strategy. 

I do hope Ryan Homes is able to sell all these units as I am afraid if they get priced low enough they could eventually draw demand away from Riverdale since they are only a mile down the road..  I am not sure how close to being completed Editors Park is right now and if someone has information please let me know. (Anonymous commenting is enabled from here on out.)

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Construction Update Pictures

Building one is completed and looks great.

They are making fast progress on building two.  Remember the pictures I posted from 2/14/17 building two had not even been started yet and now they are already working on the top level.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Why Riverdale? – Part 5 of 5

Item #5:    Decent Elementary School:

Although Prince Georges County schools are 23rd of 24 school districts in Maryland (only Baltimore City is worse)….  University Park Elementary school is now one of the better public elementary schools in the county.  It’s “GreatSchools” rating is currently at a 6.

Not only that, but the school has been improving by leaps and bounds as the area has been improving.

In 2004 University Park was 638th out of 804 elementary schools in Maryland.  (equivalent GreatSchools ranking of a 2)

In 2016 it ranks 360th out of 848 elementary schools in Maryland.

With so many expensive developments in this area currently being built along with rapidly rising real estate prices in the area I have to think this is only going to improve over the next 5 years before our child is ready for elementary school.  My hopes are the improvement trend continues and the GreatSchools rating is up to a 7 or 8 in 5 more years.   If it just continues to improve at the rate it has been then it will get there.

Also this school goes all the way to 6th grade so assuming this works out I will not have to worry about anything for 11-12 years or so.

Finding a public elementary school that isn’t terrible anywhere near DC is very difficult so the fact that University Park is a 6 and moving up quickly is another positive for Riverdale.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Another Price Hike and Third Building Going on Sale.

The third building (Units 18-30) in this complex is finally going on sale. 

When I looked at the site plan this was my favorite building as far as where it is situated in the community.  (far from train tracks, far from Baltimore Avenue and nearest to bike trail) but since this was not going to be ready until Late Summer/Fall it would not have worked for us.

Also they just did another $5000 price hike on all three floor plans.

The pricing history on the middle floor plan (Parker) has been:

12/9/16:   $440,000
1/22/16:   $450,000
3/2/17:     $455,000     (Price change has not propagated to Zillow yet)

Unfortunately for me I contacted them right AFTER the first 10k price hike but at least prices are still rising and I expect we will see more adjustments upward before the development is completed.

I am surprised they are still keeping the $25,000 spread the floor plans considering the overwhelming demand for the Cassidy floor plan.