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Rental Trends: Should You Invest in an Arlington Rental Property?

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This biweekly sponsored column is written by the experts at Gordon James Realty, a local property management firm that specializes in residential real estate, commercial real estate and homeowner associations. Please submit any questions in the comments section or via email.

Investing in the D.C. area is always a sure bet. The combination of the country’s most stable economy, transient population and most desired places to be makes it easy to find tenant for your property.

Arlington is a stone’s throw from the District. It boasts a thriving nightlife, lush parks and trails, and great public transportation. People who work in D.C. prefer the lower rents and (somewhat) quieter streets.

Smart investors looking for rental properties that are easy to keep occupied should look into buying property in this area.

While the pros are many, there is a downside. Let’s take a look at why you should and maybe you shouldn’t invest in an Arlington rental property.

Arlington Pros:

Location, Location, Location

The most northern reaches of Arlington allow you to walk to D.C. by crossing one of the many bridges that connect the two. In addition to its proximity to D.C., Arlington is easily accessible via a variety of interstates and major roadways.

Less Expensive Than The City

While Arlington is not cheap, it still beats living in the city. Houses are readily available with off-street parking, both of which are almost impossible to find in the city. A variety of small restaurants allow for frugal dining, while plenty of public parks are available to enjoy for free.

Recreational Activities for Tenants

Clarendon is a millennial hotspot and is teeming with bars, ethnic restaurants, shopping and plenty of things to do. Restaurants, bars and even grocery stores are open late, catering to late night lifestyles. But it’s not just about the nightlife. Tenants will find plenty to satisfy every desire, from clubbing to bike riding to boating.

Superb Public Transportation

In addition to a vast Metrobus system, underground trains provide easy access from as far as Reston to parts of Maryland. During the week, commuter rails travel from Fredericksburg and Baltimore.

Arlington Cons:

Hard to Get Short-Term Return on Investment

If you’re buying a rental property now, even with minimal work it’s likely you’re not going to rent for higher than your mortgage. Investing in rental properties are a long-term wealth building strategy. Rents are high in the area, but probably won’t be high enough to cover your initial investment for some time.

Difficult to Afford

High rents are great for landlords, but terrible for tenants. Even with a well-maintained property in a desirable neighborhood, it may take a lot of due diligence to find the right tenants. It’s not unusual for renters to hold multiple jobs in order to make ends meet.

High Maintenance Costs

If you can’t do the work yourself, you’ll find repairs to be costly. Expect to dish out more money than other areas for contractors and maintenance work.

Multiple Tenant Situations

Are you ready to rent rooms instead of houses? Because rents are so high, you will likely have several tenants renting individual rooms in shared living situations. Even if you advertise an entire house for rent, be prepared to take multiple applications for one group of people.

Short-Term Renters Are Common

Because many workers work on contracts, it’s common for tenants to need less than a year on their lease. Contracts can end without notice, so don’t be surprised if your six-month tenant has to leave a couple of months later.

If you’re looking for a long-term investment in a stable economy, Arlington rental properties are a good option. Though it may take some time to really start making money, if you are flexible enough to accommodate multiple tenants, you’ll find Arlington to be a great place to buy and rent properties.

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