September 2021 Market Update

As is often the case with the media, the headlines they provide do more to terrify than clarify. What is the truth about the eviction moratorium ending and people actually getting evicted? What is the certainty about forbearance ending and foreclosures flooding the market? What is the reality about the pricing bubble popping? Are we in a normal market? Is the market really slowing? For my thoughts and a quick market update, please continue reading.

Headline #1: The end of the eviction moratorium will result in millions becoming homeless. My response, not true. People are paying rent, and they will continue to do so. Currently, 86% of renters pay their rent on time, meaning only 14% are behind. Once faced with eviction, most of these people will start paying rent to avoid becoming homeless.

Additionally, there are government-sponsored programs – $46 Billion – available to tenants to ensure they can stay in their homes; only $5 Billion has been utilized so far. Many people have returned to work, so making payments will not be an issue for most. In my opinion, there will not be a wave of evictions as predicted by the media.

Headline #2: When the forbearance period ends, there will be a foreclosure tsunami. My response, this also is not true. There are currently 1.78 million people in forbearance. Nearly 25% of people in forbearance continue to make their payments. Just over 28% have done loan modifications, and almost 8% have refinanced or sold their homes/paid off their loans, so people are doing what they can to remain in their homes. What is worrisome is the 15% of people who do not have a plan going forward. This means 267,000 people are at risk of foreclosure. At the height of the Great Recession, there were 3.8 million foreclosures – that is a tsunami. Right now, the delinquency rate on mortgages is at the lowest level it has been since before the pandemic. Couple this with the housing prices rising nearly 14% over the last year and only 2.4% of mortgaged homes having negative equity puts people in a good position related to equity in their homes. In my opinion, people will sell and take the equity in their homes versus lose it. 

Headline #3: We are in a housing bubble, and it is about to burst. My response, I’m afraid I have to disagree. Right now, our appreciation levels are below the national average – 11% versus 14%. Demand for houses remains strong, and inventory remains low, so the result is a basic economic formula of supply and demand equals rising prices. The escalating prices we saw earlier this year are tapering down, which was needed.

Additionally, if you compare us to the cities we compete with for jobs and corporate relocations, we are priced lower than them. These cities are Seattle, Boston, San Jose, San Francisco, and New York. Therefore, we are not in a housing bubble.

Here are the numbers that prove we are not slowing down, and in fact, we are in a robust housing market compared to “normal” years, and not the anomaly we experienced during the pandemic.

Inventory in NOVA: 
2021 – 3,545
2019 – 4,283
2018 – 6,143
2017 – 6,759

Sales previous 30 day:
2021 – 3,304
2019 – 2,648
2018 – 2,448
2017 – 2,752

Month’s supply of houses:
2021 – 1.1
2019 – 1.7
2018 – 2.5
2017 – 2.5

As you can see, we are outperforming the recent “normal” years. If you are thinking about selling or buying a home, please call me to discuss your situation in more detail. Happy Fall!!

August 2021 Market Update

There is a lot of news swirling around about the real estate market today. You are probably hearing, reading, or seeing that the market has slowed, inventory has increased, buyers are taking a break, and prices will crash once forbearances end. Well, the question is – what is real news and what is not? In my opinion, we are back to a more “normal” market based upon seasonality, and the market is not going to crash – at least not in Northern Virginia. The months of July and August are typically slower times of the year for real estate, and this year is no different (other than more people are vacationing due to the pandemic and travel restrictions last year). So, this is having a slight impact on the market. Couple this with the frenetic pace of the spring market, and the media would have you think the real estate market is coming to an end. In my opinion, It is not, so you can sleep at night now.

Let’s address each issue:

  • The market has slowed. Yes, it has slowed down slightly in relation to the overheated market we discussed previously and the time of year. This being said, houses are still selling, and some have multiple offers on them. If you are selling, make sure you prepare your home in the proper condition and price it right. Now is not a time to overprice properties. Call me to discuss your situation in more detail.
  • Inventory has increased. Yes, it has. We were at near all-time lows for houses for sale in Northern Virginia, and previously, there were not enough homes for the buyer demand we were experiencing. Additionally, we are still well below what is known as a “typical” market for the number of houses for sale.
  • Buyers are taking a break. Houses are still selling, so they have not taken a break. Buyers are not competing as much in multiple contract situations, so the number of multiple offers has decreased. This does not mean the buyers are taking a break. Buyers are more discerning, and with increasing inventory, they can be. This is an excellent opportunity for buyers – more inventory and less competition. If you are considering buying, give me a call to discuss your situation in more detail.
  • Prices will crash once forbearances end. Prices will not crash… inventory is low, demand is high, mortgage rates are still fantastic, and just because an event like this occurs does not mean prices will crash. There will not be a flood of foreclosures like there were before. Too many reasons to list why, but feel free to call if you are interested in learning more.

There is lots of information out there about real estate. To make sure you are well informed, call on your trusted professional 😊 As summer comes to an end, I wish you all good luck sending kids back to school this year!

July 2021 Market Update

It is hard to believe that half the year has come and gone. It certainly has been an interesting six months in the real estate business. We encountered a frenetic sales pace that saw prices escalate tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands above list price with no contingencies and multiple offer situations, with buyers doing all they could to “win” the negotiations. Then, almost overnight, we saw the market tap the brakes. It is still a great market – we just went from 110 miles per hour to 60. Today, houses are staying on the market longer – days, not hours like earlier this year, with fewer showings and only one or two contracts instead of multiple offers. In many cases, we have been able to negotiate prices and contingencies like finance, appraisal, and even home inspections.  

So, what is going to happen moving forward? Buyers who took a break after losing out on multiple homes may want to consider getting back into the market as there is less competition, rates are still great, and prices have leveled off. Sellers need to exercise patience, price their home properly and get the house in top condition to get it sold. Previously, anything that came on the market would sell in many cases regardless of the condition; this is not the market we are in today. Buyers are more discerning when looking at homes. The property’s condition, price, and location need to be top-notch, or they will sit on the market longer.

All this being said, every situation is different and needs to be analyzed on its own merits. Some properties are receiving multiple contracts, and prices are escalating; there are just fewer of them in our current market. If you are considering a move, please call me so we can come up with the right game plan for you.

I hope you are enjoying the summer!

June 2021 Market Update

Here is the update on the crazy Northern Virginia real estate market…round and round and round it goes, where it stops, no one knows. The interesting thing is the market has shifted, and it happened quickly. Was it mortgage interest rates rising so high it stopped people from buying? No. Was it a flood of foreclosures and short sales hitting the market? No. Was it a pricing bubble that popped and collapsed home prices? No. Was it regular sales coming on the market giving buyers more choices? No.

So, what has caused the shift in the market?  First, the frenzied market we experienced from mid-January through early May could not be sustained. We were experiencing 50-70 showings in only one or two days and contract numbers in the high teens to low twenties on houses we put on the market.  Additionally, we saw prices escalate tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands above list price, with buyers waiving everything to “get” a home. It was a stressful time for everyone involved – buyers, sellers, and Realtors alike.

Now, we are seeing 5-15 showings in an entire weekend, and we are receiving between one and five offers. Still excellent numbers historically, but it is, in a different way, causing stress on sellers. The expectations of sellers are what they “heard,” “saw,” or “read” about the market two months ago or more – not recent facts. Well, the market shifts on a dime with no real rhyme or reason. The one thing I feel has put a damper on the market is “buyer fatigue.” Buyers had gone out, written contracts, and lost out on many houses. They wrote what they perceived to be the perfect contract and were beat out by someone who had to have the home and irrationally made an offer the seller couldn’t refuse. The conversations I am having now with buyers and agents are – oh, they have three offers? Someone will pay too much; I don’t want to waste my time. Therefore, we are now seeing fewer offers; still, great offers – above list price and waiving contingencies, but the number of contracts and showings are just down. So, if you are a seller or considering selling, your house will sell; just realize the market is different today, not bad, simply different. On the other hand, if you are a buyer, don’t give up; fewer people competing for homes mean you have a better shot at getting one now than a few short months ago. We can help you determine your best course of action, whether buying or selling, so call us to learn more!

Have a great summer!

May 2021 Market Update

The real estate market reminds me of the great Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day. It seems like every month I am conveying the same story. Housing inventory levels are still low, we continue to have multiple offer situations, interest rates continue to stay modest, and prices are rising. Sorry, but that’s the story in Northern Virginia today, and I believe it will be for years to come. 

The good news is we continue to see additional inventory come on the market. The issue is, in most cases, we have more demand than the supply that is coming onto the market. This has some buyers experiencing “buyer fatigue” as they cannot waive all contingencies or go high enough in price to win in a multiple contract situation. In some instances, this has resulted in fewer contracts submitted in what could be a multiple contract situation and, in some rare cases, only one or two offers are received. For today’s buyers, patience is critical, but the speed of writing the offer is the key to success. If you are thinking of buying, let’s meet to discuss your plans in more detail.

If you are a seller, it is extremely important to be realistic and do the right things to get your house sold. We have seen some sellers trying to take advantage of the market by not completing the finishing touches typically done when preparing to sell their home. They are not painting, replacing carpets or flooring, making minor repairs such as caulking in bathrooms or repairing rotten trim, etc. and worst of all, overpricing their properties. Greed is not good; being sensible is as the market is not like it was in 2004-2006, where you could price properties for tens of thousands of dollars above the last sale. People who do the right things such as staging and proper pricing see the market take their sales prices higher because buyers are willing to pay premium prices for properties in the right condition. If you are considering selling, let’s get together and see what we can do to help you maximize the market.

Enjoy the spring weather and all that May has to offer.

April 2021 Market Update

The Northern Virginia real estate market continues to amaze me. Inventory levels remain extremely low, demand remains extraordinarily high, and this is still occurring even though rates have increased slightly over the last few weeks. I do not believe this will change or slow down any time in the near future. The level of demand is just too high.

We continue to see multiple contract situations as the new normal throughout much of Northern Virginia. It is common to see all contingencies being removed and prices set way above the original list price in these situations. In early March, I wrote a contract on a house in North Arlington that was listed for $935,000. It was a 4-bedroom, 3-bath home, and just 1,280 square feet. The offer was cash, close in two weeks with no contingencies, and my buyer offered $1,026,000. According to the listing agent, we were not even close! One of the 23 received offers went up to $1,081,000. Insane! This leaves 22 other active buyers still looking to own in that price point in Arlington – so again, I don’t see this market slowing any time soon. All the being said, the condo market is the only anomaly as most condos are sitting on the market.

So, what is going to happen is what I am often asked. My belief is that inventory will remain low for the foreseeable future as people have purchased or refinanced at exceptionally low rates. As rates increase, there will be little, if any, motivation to move. If someone has a $500,000 mortgage with an interest rate of 2.75%, what will motivate them to move to a home with a $750,000 mortgage at 4% or even higher? I think this is what will stagnate inventory levels over the next few years. People will only move if there is a genuine need to do so – like marriage, kids, schools, job, divorce, death, etc.

Speaking about interest rates, they have inched above 3% for the first time in several months, but please keep this in mind, they are still below where they were this same time last year and are still below historical lows mortgages. Earlier I mentioned rates at 4% or higher; I don’t believe we will be there for some time, so no need to worry about this happening. I foresee we will be in the low to mid 3’s for the remainder of the year.

As always, I am more than happy to speak with you about your situation in more detail as each situation is unique and personal.

Happy Spring!

March 2021 Market Update

It’s hard to believe that one year has passed since our world changed with the Pandemic. There have been so many changes in our daily routines, the way we interact with each other, how we conduct business, and so much more. The hardest part for many of us was that we lost loved ones or could not visit them due to restrictions. Let’s hope this all changes soon with the vaccine. 

As far as the real estate world goes, it has remained resilient and has even thrived. To some, it may be hard to believe, but true. Historically low-interest rates, crazy low inventory levels, and high demand resulted in a frenzied market over the last year. Housing gained over $3.1 Trillion in equity in 2020 as prices escalated in almost every market around the country. We are only a little over two months into 2021, and we continue to see a strong housing market. Inventory remains extremely low, rates have ticked up slightly but are still very attractive, and buyer demand remains very robust. The biggest concern remains the low inventory. We continue to see multiple offer situations in all price ranges throughout Northern Virginia. Many times, contracts are being submitted without the buyers even seeing the home! Crazy but true. Buyers are conducting pre-offer home inspections, waiving all contingencies, and are bidding 10-13% over the list price to get into a home. I believe we will be in this type of market for the next few years. Unfortunately for buyers, I don’t see a flood of houses coming on the market to cover the demand that is out there today.  Interest rates will remain low to help keep the market moving. We continue to have low unemployment relative to other parts of the country, so people are continuing to relocate to our area. Couple all of this with the Millennials entering the market as home buyers; it’s quite the tsunami.

If you are considering selling or buying a home, it is more critical today than ever to have a professional representing you. Expert negotiation skills and market knowledge are essential in this aggressive market. Please feel free to call me to review your situation in more detail or allow us to help someone you know. I am always happy to help.

I am looking forward to warmer weather and more hours of daylight, and I hope you are too.  Happy Spring!

February 2021 Market Update

Again, I have said it before, and I will repeat it, inventory levels on homes for sale in Northern Virginia are critically low! We currently have just 1,701 homes for sale in all of the counties we serve in Northern Virginia. The amazing fact is the number of condos that are currently for sale – 792 – which represents just under 50% of the total inventory. Condos typically do not reflect nearly 50% of the inventory levels … more on this later. 

Continuing with the numbers; there are only 646 single family homes currently on the market. Are you kidding me? There are only 235 townhouses total, again, WOW! Do you know what this means? The chances of multiple contract situations are possible on virtually every home on the market. We have had as many as 30 contracts submitted on one house in Gainesville priced at $635,000. It escalated above $700,000. We had another home in Aldie that had 78 showings and 62 visitors at the open house. This one was priced at $772,000 that had 21 offers and escalated to $831,700. It is insane – I cannot think of another word to describe it. 

A question I am frequently asked is when will it end? I think it will be a long time, as I believe it will be rate driven, and rates will remain low for the foreseeable future. Once rates rise to the 4 or 5% range, we will see a slowdown in contracts/purchasers, but not an inventory increase. Another question is, when will buyer burnout take them out of the market? My answer: it depends as this is and has always been an individual question. I have heard about prospective buyers writing as many as 15 contracts (on different homes) and still in the fight, while others are not even entering the market because of these “bidding” war situations. Typically, buyers will write until they win a bid on a property.  Usually, in a market like this, it has been between 3-5 times in my experience. 

One more question I hear is how do I buy if I must sell my house first? This one is more complicated, but I can give you details if you are interested. We have nine ways to make this work!

If you or someone you know would like to discuss their situation with me in more detail, whether it is purchasing or selling a home, please feel free to call me.

Have a Happy Valentine’s Day!!

Peak Performer Series – Weekly Motivation

In this weekly motivational series, I’ll highlight how YOU can become a Peak Performer. Will you weather the storm? 

Resiliency is the key to success in weathering the storms of life. Learn why I feel this way in my latest Peak Performer message. 

Need more motivation? Give me a call at 703-652-5777 or email at scottmacdonald@remax.net 

FOLLOW MY NEW FACEBOOK PAGE for more motivation, success tips, and inspiration: https://www.facebook.com/SuccessSecretsforRealEstate/ 

Peak Performer Series – Weekly Motivation

In this weekly motivational series, I’ll highlight how YOU can become a Peak Performer. Are the goals you set for 2021 SPECIFIC?

Setting goals every year is imperative for growth – both personally and professionally. But are the goals you set SMARTY ones? Learn more about this concept in my latest Peak Performer Message. 

Need more motivation? Give me a call at 703-652-5777 or email at scottmacdonald@remax.net 

FOLLOW MY NEW FACEBOOK PAGE for more motivation, success tips, and inspiration: https://www.facebook.com/SuccessSecretsforRealEstate/