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!

What You Need To Know To Prepare For A Home Appraisal

We had a great training session with John Chapman and Nathalie Palmer from Omni Appraisal Services about the current market and how to help get your properties to appraise for the contract sales price or at least get better results.

Here are a few key items to take into consideration when know who you are working with on your appraisal:

There are two types of appraisers – licensed and certified.  Licensed Appraisers can only do values up to $1,000,000.  Certified Appraisers can do any property value.  Additionally, Certified Appraisers must take a test and have a Bachelor’s degree.  Only Certified Appraisers can appraise FHA loans.

Did you know there are two types of appraisers?
– Licensed and Certified
Do you know the difference?

  • Larger banks are paying less to appraisers through Appraisal Management Companies.  Almost all of the banks own them so they can make more money.  This is not always a “good thing”.  Often times you will get an appraiser with less experience or one that will rush through the process because they have to make up their income by doing more volume.  Appraisal companies are in place to put a buffer between the lender, Realtor and appraiser to perpetuate a more “arm’s length” transaction.  What has resulted is that the banks are using this as a profit center and not always employing best in class appraisers.
  • Check with the appraiser’s competency and local knowledge.  Ask where they are located and if they are familiar with your property/area.  Additionally, ask how long have they been appraising homes?  Lastly, check and see if they work from home or office?   Many small owner operators work from home and as a result, don’t get exposures to other appraisers.  This lack of networking, idea sharing and updates on the market can hurt appraisals.
  • Education for appraisers is getting tougher.  There is an apprenticeship for 2 years now.
  • There are two types of appraisers – licensed and certified.  Licensed Appraisers can only do values up to $1,000,000.  Certified Appraisers can do any property value.  Additionally, Certified Appraisers must take a test and have a Bachelor’s degree.  Lastly, only Certified Appraisers can appraise FHA loans.

What you need to be prepared for your appraisal:

  • Always bring your own comparable sales – make sure they are good comps so you can build creditability.  Even bring low sales and let them know what the issues were that resulted in their low sale – pet odors, back to power lines, short sale, foreclosure, etc.
  • If at all possible, provide plat/floor plan – proper measuring is critical because if its 100 square feet off the true square footage you will have issues
  • Bulls eye approach – first look in subdivision, then do a radius search of 1 mile, 2 miles, etc. to find the right comparable properties.
  • Use a couple of higher sales, couple of smaller home, the radius approach to finding properties and a couple within the timeframe of settling within 3 months or less
  • You now need to have 5 to 6 comps
  • Provide 1-2 under contract comps as part of your presentation
  • Find FSBO too!  They can help your cause
  • Pass on any and all information you know about your property – list all recent improvements and their cost/value to help support your price.
  • Provide details on other offers if you had multiple offers
  • Provide additional pricing details like the Home Pricing Wizard, RBIntel statistics, and articles relating to escalating prices.

Steps to overcome low appraisal

  • Get a “good” conversation going, kill them with kindness
  • Provide new info that the appraiser might not be aware of when you met initially at the property
  • Be there when the appraiser wants to meet at the property
  • Use their language
    • Beneficial
    • Neutral
    • Adverse

Appraisers need to be concerned with the following items:

  • Safety –  the house needs to be safe, easy to explain
  • Soundness – the house needs to have structural integrity including but not limited to the roof and foundation
  • Security – the house needs to have locks on windows and doors

Integral issues for appraising

  • You have to know the condition and the subsequent ratings of the properties condition.  The rating scale goes from C1-C6.  One is the best and 6 is the worst.  Speak with the appraiser in terms of the condition to get more value for your clients
  • You also have to know the quality of the construction in order to help get more value.  Was the home custom built or was it a cookie-cutter built in the late 70’s with 7.5 foot ceilings?  These rankings range from Q1-Q6

As you see, it is extremely important for you to be a professional agent, do you job thoroughly for you clients and get the results that everyone is looking for from the appraisal process.  Get it?  Got it?  Good!

Now, go sell something!

Scott MacDonald

RE/MAX Gateway, LLC

 

Why you should close on your home before July 1, 2013 Grantor’s Tax Increase

Big changes are on the forefront for Virginia real estate if you are selling or buying a house.  The state Grantor’s Tax is going from $1.00 per thousand to $2.50 per thousand of the sales price or tax assessed value, whichever is higher on July 1, 2013.  Here is the impact – on a sales price of $500,000 the fee is going to go from $500 to $1,250Grantors Tax Increase to help ease congestion

The tax is typically paid by the seller in a resale scenario and the builder usually passes this fee on to the buyer.  As a result, it has become a nominal cost associated with selling to one of a greater impact and one that will potentially bring attention to people on both sides of the table.  In other states, including Maryland, this tax is absorbed by the seller with first time buyers, is split in most cases but in the end, is a negotiable item between the seller and buyer.  It will be interesting to see if this becomes the case in Virginia.  Our fee is less than Maryland’s but is still is significant enough to take notice and pay attention to what will be the impact as it becomes implemented and the prices increase.

The change goes into effect on July 1st so you will want to plan accordingly.  This year July 1st falls on a Monday so in order to avoid paying the tax, we are encouraging our clients to close by the 26th of June.  This will ensure the property gets recorded at the courthouse prior to the Friday rush that many title companies are expecting and save your money.

Many of you may recall that back in January of 2008, this tax went up 5 times so the same scenario listed above would have resulted in a $2,500 tax on the sale of properties in Virginia.  Therefore, this increase is not as significant.  In March of that year the Supreme Court of Virginia repealed the tax stating a transportation authority NVTA did not have the right to levy taxes.

The additional fees today are also put in place to cover costs associated with transportation initiatives and road improvements in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads in an effort to ease the congestion in these regions.  As such, this tax is only applicable to these regions.  Let’s see some results, please.

How low will it go?

It has finally happened.  Inventory levels in Fairfax, Prince William, Loudoun, Arlington, Fauquier, Alexandria and all the cities in between have now dropped below 5,000 homes for sale.  We have just 4,692 properties on the market. We have not been this low in nearly a year.  This number is not an all time low – the first week of March in 2005 we had 1,652 houses for sale – this was the all time low for this region.  If you are curious, the all time high was the third week of November 2006 when we had 22,898 houses for sale. So as you can see, we are approaching an extreme situation in housing – nothing for home shoppers to buy.  A more balanced market would be in the 8,500 to 9,000 range – we are at about 50% of where we need to be.

So what does all of this mean?  If you are a seller, now is the time to put your house on the market because there is very little competition.  If you are a buyer, you will more than likely be in a multiple contract situation so be ready to put your best offer on the table initially.  Also, buyers will turn to new construction as an alternative to their housing needs as they can’t find suitable solutions in the resale market.  Lastly, prices should continue to increase – just need the appraisers to agree this is the situation.

What else is low and going lower?  Interest rates.  It is amazing that virtually every week the news is rates continue to hit new all time lows.  This makes now a great time to buy or refinance.

So, what is your opinion?  How soon will it be before we see an increase in inventory?  When will we see rates increase?  I’d love to hear your opinion so give me a call.