Why does Montgomery County real estate outperform most other areas of the country? Because of the federal government. Now, the federal government is the largest employer in the country, and it's primarily located here. They live in PG County, they live in Northern Virginia, they live here[Montgomery County]. But again, all of the people that are here in many, many places have jobs that are basically focused on the government, even if they don't work directly for the government.
Montgomery County, we've got air and space, we've got Walter Reed, we've got NIH. All of these are jobs that are feeding off the federal government. Even downsizing the federal government won't eliminate those jobs. Other areas of the country, if we go into a recession, if we have a major employer leave, you can have a huge amount of risk, more than you have in Montgomery County.
As far as long term, Lower Montgomery County, we've used up almost all of our land In close, we don't have anything else we can develop other than high rise stuff, which we're eventually going to build too much of.
In Upper Montgomery County, there's land left but what happens as you build on that land, all the people that buy there spend a disproportionate amount of time driving back and forth because of all the traffic between there and where they live. As you build more, that traffic gets worse. What's that do? That stimulates close in developing.
As far as this area, this is probably the most conservative area you can invest in, for those reasons.
Prince George’s County has not been extremely well planned. A lot of it grew up without as much input from Maryland National Capital Park and Planning. One of the major reasons that Maryland is better than Virginia, from an investment standpoint in my point of view is because of Maryland National Capital Park and Planning. Maryland National does all the zoning and all the planning from the beltway as you come in to Maryland in PG County to the beltway as you go back into Virginia in Montgomery County. You don't have the spot zoning that you have in a lot of other areas. Again, there are a lot of areas in PG County that developed before that spot zoning went away.
If you go into Northern Virginia, you can be in a situation where you find a beautiful home on five acres of land backing up to woodland. Three years later, the next thing you know, that woodland can become warehouses that are being planned by some other jurisdiction entirely. If you drive down route 1 in Virginia, you're going to see residential, commercial, warehouse, junk, residential, commercial, warehouse, junk, signs. We don't have that in Montgomery County and we don't have it to the same degree in PG County either that they have it in Northern Virginia.
Maryland National Capital Park and Planning and central zoning is a huge benefit that you have in Maryland but you don't have in Virginia?
D.C. has their own general zoning, but it doesn't work in conjunction very much with Maryland or Virginia or D.C. It's their own. D.C. is pretty much all built, so D.C. is just a matter of money. If you go into some of these old areas, like Anacostia, where those properties aren't necessarily the best use of that land. People come in and buy those, go to DC government and say 'we want to do this high rise, we want to bring in shops, will you help us' and DC says 'yes'. That's a different type of development, where you're taking something where the supply is fixed and the demand is growing and you're tearing the supply down to create a different type of product.
That one, from an investment standpoint, unless you're a developer, that's not necessarily where you want to go.