Market, market, market!

How’s the market – this is a question so many people want to know the answer to on a regular basis. My answer is, it depends.

Are you a buyer? If so, the answer is definitely yes. Interest rates remain at historically low levels, prices are stable in most areas and increasing in others. If houses are on the market now, the sellers are serious and you can negotiate a good deal. The monthly expense of renting is equivalent to owning in many cases, if not higher. In addition, each payment made for the home owner goes towards the loan balance giving the owner equity over time adding to the owner’s personal wealth. Renting only goes to making landlords wealthy. Other reasons to buy include pride in ownership, sense of community, stability and the ability to improve the property without permission from a landlord – just to name a few.

If you are a seller, what is the price range of your property and where is it located? Every market is different and each property should be looked at individually. There are pockets throughout Northern Virginia where prices are escalating but further out, it isn’t the case. In Centreville as an example, the average sales price of detached homes has dropped every month since July. In South Riding, houses priced between $550,000-650,000 have not had a sale in nearly 70 days. This is not the case closer in towards Vienna, Falls Church and Arlington. Houses are selling quickly and for top dollar. However, in these areas higher priced condos – especially one bedroom units are staying on the market much longer.

In all of these markets, houses and town houses that have compelling prices, not necessarily the ones that are priced right or priced at market values, are the ones that are attracting multiple offers. For houses to sell quickly in today’s market, price is the leading indicator followed by staging, condition and location. Luckily, our distressed property inventory remains low relative to the rest of the country. We are not seeing the influx of foreclosed properties which definitely affects values.

Our unemployment rate is one of the lowest in the country in Northern Virginia – 4.9%, our wages are amongst the highest in the country and consumer confidence is higher here than elsewhere so we are anticipating a strong 2012 in the housing market.

As you can see, it is not a simple question to answer. Each person’s situation is different and therefore you should ask a Gateway professional for detailed information specifically about you. If someone answers, “unbelievable” or “great” be wary. Get it? Got it? Good!

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