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!!

September 2020 Market Update

Here Comes Fall (and all things pumpkin spice)

The Global Pandemic has not slowed down the real estate market here in Northern Virginia. Low inventory levels continue to be the main issue as there are many buyers in the market and not enough homes to purchase. Couple this with historically low-interest rates, and we have a solid seller’s market, which also means we have an extremely challenging buyer’s market. Today, the median days on the market are just six days, and the average days on market are only 19. Now, of course, there are some properties in specific locations and price points that are staying on the market longer, but generally speaking, most houses are selling quickly. Buyers need to make decisions swiftly and make solid offers if they want to be in the running as the next owner of their home of choice.

In today’s market, we do have some additional challenges, not just the shortage of homes for sale. A remarkably close second challenge we are experiencing involves the lending process if the buyer does not select the right lender. For example, we are encountering long lead times for appraisals, lack of urgency to close loans on time (they treat the purchase transactions like a refinance and the loan is in the order it was received,) numerous appraisals coming in low as buyers are escalating prices above market price and response time frames from the loan officer as they are overwhelmed with refinances. As a side note, it is extremely important to select the right lender when you are accepting a contract on your listing or when you are buying your home. The highest offer is not always the best offer.

Additionally, we have a lot of stress in the market. Buyers are losing out on multiple homes, which causes frustration. Sellers not receiving offers as high as they believe they should make them anxious. Agents can be rude, arrogant, unresponsive, and unprofessional, which causes everyone to stress out.  It is so important today to hire the right agent to guide you through the home selling or home buying process, an agent that knows how to navigate with you for a smooth and seamless process. So, if you are looking to sell or buy a house today, call me – I have helped many others successfully buy and sell properties in today’s unbalanced market.

I hope you have a great Labor Day!

May 2020 Market Update

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Hopefully, you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy during these unprecedented times. As previously mentioned, real estate is considered an essential business and as such, we have adapted to new ways of conducting business. Yes, homes are being purchased, sold, and leased – people need shelter. We are lucky as we can help those in need of our services. Due to the different lockdown restrictions, many of my friends across the country and around the world cannot help people with their housing needs. It is strange to me how in some areas, lenders, title companies, home inspectors, appraisers, and other professionals are considered essential, but REALTORS are not.  Not to being political here but how can REALTORS not be deemed essential and the others can be? How can they conduct their business without a REALTOR selling the house prior to needing their services?  Odd to me.

Locally, we are practicing all real estate services albeit on a more limited basis and in a different way.  We are doing virtual showings for buyers who do not want to go out to see homes in person. We are conducting virtual open houses and scheduling appointment only showings during the virtual open houses. Settlements are outside or even drive up style – many with no REALTORS present.  We are also seeing e-closings with no one present in the same room. We are wearing masks, gloves, and booties during showings and bringing disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer – for everyone’s health and safety. If you are considering buying, selling, or leasing a house, it is still possible and I am willing and able to help, so let’s discuss how this all works in more detail.

Now, let’s talk numbers. Inventory levels remain low – 34% below this same time last year. We currently have only 2,974 houses for sale in all of Northern Virginia. Contracts written the previous 30 days are down 31% versus the same week last year. Lastly, closings the previous 30 days are down 20% from the same time last year. Now, the good news is sales have gone up each of the last four weeks and when houses do come on the market, they sell quickly when priced right and they are in the right condition.  We continue to see multiple contracts in many homes throughout the area as well. We have had many buyers move to the sidelines during the pandemic and some sellers have decided to wait or have pulled their homes off the market until “the coast is clear”. One thing is for certain, we will have a lot of pent up demand for housing when we return to a new normal as we have more buyers on the sidelines than sellers. I envision an even more competitive housing market in the future.

Be safe, make wise decisions when going out in public so you and your family remain healthy.

February 2020 Market Update

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Unusual February Weather

The weather in February is heating up just like the Northern Virginia real estate market.  The Spring Market is in full swing and should continue because Punxsutawney Phil didn’t see his shadow and therefore, I think this market will continue to stay on fire.

All jokes aside, we are still experiencing unusually low inventory levels, tons of buyers in the marketplace and in many cases, multiple offers on properties. This situation leads to frustration on many levels as some buyers are missing out several times on homes.  The reasons vary, but many are because of their loan qualification levels, shortage of homes for sale in their price point (so there is increased competition), their cash availability and in some instances, not wanting to waive contingencies. Sellers get frustrated because they hear of these types of situations and they are not receiving multiple contracts, or they don’t believe prices have escalated high enough. The other possibility is that they are not receiving contracts at all. Unfortunately, these circumstances happen often as sellers may not have been educated by their agents as to what to expect of the market in their price point and location – many times they do not lend themselves to be in these situations. Other times, they have started their price too high and discerning buyers realize the escalated price is already “built-in” to the sellers original sales price.

Additionally, many houses are already overpriced, and buyers are not willing to even make an offer. As I always say and today it is still evident, you need to be in the right condition and priced right to sell. A high price is always a deal killer. If you are thinking about selling, I can walk you through the market you can expect to be in now and potentially in the future.

Lastly, agents can be frustrated – like me – because other agents don’t educate their clients about the market. Inventory is 30% below where it was this time last year. There are only 1,881 total houses for sale in all Northern Virginia. Lower price points have the highest number of buyers and therefore the highest potential of multiple offers. Agents are showing clients houses priced at $450,000 when the buyer only qualifies for $425,000 and needs closing cost assistance. Guess what?  It’s not going to happen in today’s market. Same for a buyer who has a top end of $450,000. Don’t waste their time it’s not going to happen. Lately, the lower price point properties have been receiving upwards of 25 contracts and are escalating thousands to tens of thousands above list price. Buyers need a knowledgeable agent to educate and set proper expectations when buying in today’s competitive market. You can win, but you need the right agent. Call me if you or anyone you know is looking to buy or sell a home.

I hope you are all taking advantage of these great February temps! Get out there and have fun!

December 2019 Market Update

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Wow, did November fly by or what?  It seems like I just sent my November newsletter and here we are in December already – crazy to me for sure. November brought a few substantial changes in our industry. First is the way we must now market our listings. The ability to pre-market homes as we know it has gone by the wayside. Previously, we could use signs, online marketing on social media sites, real estate websites, networking events and/or email campaigns to get the word out about future listings either days, weeks or months in advance. Now, we must put the home in MLS within one business day as active or in “Coming Soon” status once the property is marketed to the public in the aforementioned ways. It is more consumer-friendly as it opens up all houses to the buyers and it also gives sellers maximum exposure to all buyers by sharing the properties with all agents. Before this new rule, there were agents who would privately market homes to the detriment of the seller and potential buyers. This change will also provide accurate data in MLS for sales information, so we all know what sales prices and concessions are and inform us if the sale was an arm’s length transactions or not.  This is helpful for pricing houses for both buyers and sellers as well as appraisers. To learn how this can affect you when deciding to sell your house, give me a call, I’m happy to share more details.

The second area is financing houses and loan amounts. Here is a brief history of what FHFA has done since 2016 with conventional loans: back in 2016, the FHFA increased the conforming loan limits from $417,000 to $424,100. Then, the next year, the FHFA raised the loan limits from $424,100 to $453,100 for 2018. And in 2018, the FHFA increased the loan limit from $453,100 to $484,350 for 2019. Lastly, just last week, the new loan limits will be $510,000 for 2020. Jumbo loans will now go up to $765,600 in our area. Jumbo loans typically have higher interest rates. Please call to learn more about how this can help you when buying or selling a house.

Also, VA loans no longer have a limit, but they do have liability issues which can affect the amount of your loan going forward. If you are a veteran, your eligibility will drive your maximum loan amount. In addition, the funding fee for zero-down loans will be 2.3% of the loan amount in 2020, up from 2.15% for regular military in 2019. The fee for subsequent use loans will be 3.6% of the loan amount, up from the current 3.3%. You can pay the fee upfront or roll the cost into the loan. These go into effect for any loan that closes after January 1, 2020. Again, if you have any questions at all, please call me.

I hope you have a safe, fun and festive holiday season with all of your family and friends!

November 2019 Market Update

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Happy Fall!

The change in the weather has not changed the real estate market here in Northern Virginia. We still have a limited supply of houses for sale with lots of demand. Houses are selling quickly when priced right, are in the right condition and in a desirable location.  In all of Northern Virginia (Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William, and Fauquier Counties plus all of the cities in between – Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas, etc.) the median days on market are just 14. As you can see, properties are selling quickly! The important thing to note however is prices are not drastically increasing with this supply and demand issue and when prices do get “pushed” we are having appraisal issues. It is important to price your house properly so if you are considering selling, please call me to discuss the right pricing strategy for you as each market is different.

During this time of year, people always ask, is now a good time to sell? My answer is – yes – if you need to sell. If there is a situation in your life that dictates the need to sell, list your house now. As I mentioned, we have a strong demand for houses. There is only a 1.5 month’s supply of housing right now. Also, we know that inventory levels are very low, only 3,855 resale houses are for sale today, so we know what the competition is for you. Who knows who will be selling in the spring and how this will affect pricing? We also know that rates, although they increased slightly this week, they are still great.  At this time, a buyer can get a 30-year fixed-rate at under 4% which is phenomenal.

Additionally, houses that are decorated for the holiday season often show better and, in some cases, give the buyer ideas on how they can enjoy the holidays in the house as well. A nice staging technique that can go a long way.  So, again, if you are thinking about selling and want to know if you should wait or list today, please call me.

I hope you have a festive Thanksgiving with your family and friends!

October 2019 Mid Month Market Update

Here’s your latest real estate market update for Northern Virginia. Inventory is low, it’s a seller’s market! And with interest rates still at an all-time low, not is a great time to buy!

What do you think? How is the market in your area?

Thinking of buying or selling? I’m happy to provide you with a free market analysis if your home. Give me a call to talk about your specific situation and needs. Call me at 703-652-5777 or email at scottmacdonald@remax.net

September Market Update

My whole career I have been asked, “So, how’s the market?” Well, this year and more specifically, in the last few months, I have been asked this even more. It is a loaded question because it depends on whether you are a buyer, a seller, or if you are looking to rent and most importantly where you are looking to do any of these types of transactions.  After we clarify what they want to know, I find it is a lot of curiosity because people love to talk about real estate. It also is of interest to them because in our discussions I hear things like, “I don’t see any for sale signs in my neighborhood”, “when houses go up for sale in my area, they sell right away”, “my friend is looking for a house and they are losing out on multiple contracts” and many other similar comments so there is a genuine interest in “How’s the market”.

Overall, in Northern Virginia, the inventory on active resale homes is down over 31% from last year and units sold are virtually the same which means it is extremely competitive to be a buyer and if you price your house correctly, you can be a very happy seller. As always it is a hyper-local market so let’s take a deeper dive into the counties.

  • Arlington County – the Amazon Effect is keeping inventory low, median days on the market extremely low but interestingly enough, prices are not as high as you would think considering the supply and demand in that area. Closed sales are down as inventory is down and prices are up just 4%. Houses sell quickly – median days on market are just 9!
Statistic Jul YoY MoM
Total Sold Dollar Volume 182,179,254 down5.9% down7.5%
Closed Sales 266 down9.5% -0.4%
Median Sold Price $616,000 up1.3% +9%
Average Sold Price $684,884 up4% -7.2%
Median Days on Market 9 days down75.7% 0%
Average Days on Market 30 days down40% -16.7%
  • Fairfax County – Prices are up Year over Year but down Month over Month which indicates sellers are starting off too high and then making adjustments to get them sold. Days on market for Median Days and average days indicate a strong market but remember, price is critical to getting houses sold today. Closed sales are up Year over Year but are down Month over Month.
Statistic Jul YoY MoM
Total Sold Dollar Volume 1,027,443,963 up7.9% down5.9%
Closed Sales 1,680 up6.5% -4.8%
Median Sold Price $539,900 up2.3% -4.4%
Average Sold Price $612,668 up1.5% -1.1%
Median Days on Market 17 days down56.4% +6.3%
Average Days on Market 33 days down31.3% +6.5%
  • Loudoun County – the market in Loudoun is slowing a little as they are experiencing what other regions are – Year over Year gains but Month over Month declines. Median Days on Market jumped MoM but prices are maintaining in the area.  There is lots of pent up demand in Loudoun – stay tuned on their progress.
Statistic Jul YoY MoM
Total Sold Dollar Volume 408,811,460 up8.4% down2.8%
Closed Sales 747 up1.8% -1.2%
Median Sold Price $512,250 up8.5% -0.5%
Average Sold Price $549,478 up6.9% -1.4%
Median Days on Market 23 days down39.5% +43.8%
Average Days on Market 38 days down34.5% +22.6%
  • Prince William County – consistent with the other counties showing price reductions but an overall strong market as sales are strong and Days on Market are low. Prince William offers the lowest prices so more value!
Statistic Jul YoY MoM
Total Sold Dollar Volume 318,271,988 up5.4% down1.5%
Closed Sales 778 down0.4% 0%
Median Sold Price $385,000 up6.9% -2.5%
Average Sold Price $409,616 up5.9% -1.8%
Median Days on Market 24 days down41.5% +14.3%
Average Days on Market 38 days down19.2% +5.6%

Remember, within the counties, there is also a deeper dive that needs to be taken into consideration in neighborhoods and price points. Hopefully, this gives you a better idea of what is happening in our real estate market in Northern Virginia.  If you have any questions or concerns or if you are looking to make a move, please feel free to call me.