Hot & Sticky… The Northern Virginia Real Estate Market

The real estate market continues to be hot – just like the weather.independence day  Inventory levels remain below 7,800 active properties for sale in Northern Virginia.  Last year at this time we had over 9,550 – quite a difference.  There is pent up demand but we are lacking “really good” inventory.  We have buyers that would move up if they found something suitable in a higher price points but nothing seems to be coming on to help with this situation.  So here are a few quick stats on the overall market:

  • Sales of existing homes reached the highest annual pace in over 9 years at 5.29 million.
  • Inventory remains below the 6-month norm and prices are still on the rise, however, this is very hyper-local so ask me for details.
  • Interest rates are at a historic low of 3.48%.

Now, just like the weather, things can be a little sticky…if properties get priced too high, they are sitting on the market.  They are getting lookers, just no offers which at times has led to frustration for our sellers.  It is important to keep in mind proper pricing today is still critical.  To learn more about how we can help you with selling your home, feel free to call me.

The big news recently has been Brexit and how it will affect us in the United States.  Well, virtually immediately, interest rates on mortgages dropped to three year lows.  The good news is they are expected to stay this way for a while.  There is speculation that International investors may sell off their holdings in the UK and invest in the US which could be good news for cities like Washington, DC, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles – let’s keep an eye out for this movement.  The overall sentiment is we may not see its full impact for years but in the short term it will be good for the US housing market.

As always, we are here to help with any questions you may have regarding the Northern Virginia real estate market and have a safe, fun and enjoyable July 4th celebration.

Scott MacDonald

RE/MAX Gateway

Scott’s Market Minute – Robust Spring Housing Market Expected

Scott MacDonald’s Northern Virginia real estate housing market trends, local statistics and how this can impact your buying or selling a home  click to play video

Contact Scott MacDonald 702-652-5777 Broker for RE/MAX Gateway for more information and a personal assessment to meet your goals.

Scott MacDonald

RE/MAX Gateway

 

Unlike the weather out there…the Northern Virginia Real Estate Market is HOT!

Very Low Inventory + Lots of Buyers = Good News for Sellers!  click to play

Thinking about selling your home?  Contact Scott MacDonald 702-652-5777 for more information and a personal assessment to meet your real estate goals.

Scotts Market Minute 2016FEB12

Now is a great time to buy and sell a home in Northern Virginia!

Scott MacDonald

RE/MAX Gateway

Buckle up and hold on tight! 2016 Northern Virginia Real Estate Market Update

Wow, 2015 flew by in a blink of an eye and I am sure 2016 will as well.  As Happy New Year 2016 from REMAX GatewayI mentioned in my previous market updates, we pretty much enjoyed a stable market for housing in 2015.  I expect things to pick up in 2016 because of all the recent activity.  Many of our agents have been working through the holidays with clients and I too have been meeting with both buyers and sellers looking to make moves in 2016 – more so than any other recent December.  So buckle up, the market will be moving forward in a positive direction.

A few areas in the mortgage arena for us to keep our eyes on are rising interest rates and loan products.  Now that the Fed has raised their rate, mortgage interest rates are now just above 4%.  Still great, don’t get me wrong, but they are just a tad higher than where they have been most of 2015.  The other interesting thing to watch with mortgages are the new programs coming into the market.  Fannie Mae now has a low down payment loan to compete with FHA loans.  These loans compete because the down payment can be a gift so buyers don’t need to have their own money saved for the down payment.  Additionally, I have read there are potentially no down payment loans coming back into the market soon.  These two loan products could help Millennial buyers enter the market sooner as they have not been able to save for their down payments due to high rents, student loan debt and lower paying jobs.  This is important because Millenials will be the largest home buying demographic once they can afford to buy.

Something else to watch is as sales continue to rise, prices too will follow – hopefully at a sustainable rate and not like the San Francisco market or our market from 2002-2006.  Home ownership is extremely important to wealth building and consistent growth in prices help this happen for many people.  We don’t need an escalating housing price market like we had in the past, as no one wins in the end.  I would expect a 3-5% increase in housing overall in Northern Virginia.  Some areas will see more, others less, so please ask me about your home’s value if you are interested.

As always, if you or someone you know is looking to buy or sell a home, I am here to help so please feel free to call me.  Here is to making 2016 one of your best years ever!  Happy New Year!

Scott MacDonald

RE/MAX Gateway
4090B Lafayette Center Drive, Chantilly, VA 20151
Offices strategically located throughout Northern Virginia.

Real Estate Market Changes and Challenges November 2015

Leaves are falling and so is our inventory of homes for sale in Northern Virginia.  It is typical that homeowners who don’t need to sell or don’t have to sell take their homes off the market this time of year.Fall 2015 Real Estate Update  Along with the falling leaves and inventory, house sales are also falling – again, typical for this time of year.  Many potential homebuyers take a break over the holiday in anticipation of the spring market.

All this being said, there are sales happening in the marketplace.  Year over year sales are up in Northern Virginia as are sales prices making our housing market healthy.  If you have a situation which causes you to sell, now is a good time to do so.  With lower inventory levels and serious buyers in the market you can set your house apart from the competition to attract a sale.  Couple this with mortgage interest rates remaining low adds to the allure of home ownership right now.

On an interesting note, the SEC passed a ruling – Title III – which will allow retail investors to have access to invest in private businesses without that company having to register with the SEC.  This could have an impact on real estate as Equity Crowdfunding is a $2.5 Billion market.  These are groups that are forming to purchase properties and rent them out or fix and flip them.  This ruling goes into effect in 90 days and it won’t transform real estate overnight but it is something for us to keep an eye on moving forward.  To learn more about this, please feel free to call me 703-652-5777.

Oh, and we cannot forget, it is that time of year again, when the holiday season comes into full swing!  We have Thanksgiving right around the corner followed by Christmas and New Year’s Day – lots of time to spend with family and friends.  We wish you a happy time this season and hope you have a great holiday season.  And always remember, if you have any questions or concerns about real estate, we are here to help!

Scott MacDonald

RE/MAX Gateway

4090B Lafayette Center Drive, Chantilly, VA 20151

Offices strategically located throughout Northern Virginia.

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Is it over yet? Why Northern Virginia Home Sales Went On A Wild Roller Coaster Ride

October took the real estate market roller coaster ride.

Rates went up, rates came down.  Sales went down, sales went up.  Inventory rose, inventory came back down.

Real Estate Market Roller Coaster Ride 31OCT2013

In some areas, the number of multiple contracts went down, then they went back up.  Inventory of short sales and foreclosures were down, then they rose but luckily by not too much.  The government shut down and the government opened back up – luckily, it was not too long and did not have a tremendous impact on the housing market.

Our emotions went up, our emotions came back down, as there was a lot of concern about delays in closings associated with the shut down because of the reduced number of employees at FHA and the IRS, but we avoided a potential disaster there.  Additionally, we were worried about the government defaulting on their debt which would have sent interest rates skyrocketing, and again, fortunately, this did not happen.

Even though there were so many ups and downs, the market in October this year was still better compared to a year ago.  There were more home sales, higher home prices and more homes for sale for buyers to choose from, although the uncertainty skewed people’s perception.  So now you know why October was such a roller coaster for real estate.

What lies ahead on the horizon as we enter the winter market?  My belief is we will be in our typical winter market.  Homes will come off the market for the holidays.  Motivated, savvy buyers will be out buying homes.  Interest rates will remain in the low 4% range.  Home prices will continue to stabilize throughout the Northern Virginia area.  Houses that are priced right, in the right condition and right location will see multiple offers and our market won’t be as up and down as it was in October.  Basically, we will continue to have a robust housing market locally.

To learn more about your situation, please feel free to call me today. Scott MacDonald (703) 652-5777.

Scott MacDonald

RE/MAX Gateway, LLC

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

 

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Top 3 Reasons Why You Should Buy or Sell a Home in Northern Virginia NOW!

Wow, it has been a crazy 8 weeks for interest rates.  As we have discussed in the past, if someone was considering buying or refinancing, they should do it then.  Well, I hope you took that advice because interest rates have gone up three quarters of a point in just the past 2 months.  This week, we saw the largest increase in rates since April of 1987 – that’s 26 years!  The reason behind the increase is Ben Bernanke of the Federal Reserve made remarks that they may be tapering its bond purchases later this year if the economy continues to improve.  Although the stock market was up the second quarter with all three indexes recording gains of between 2% and 5%, it too took a hit on these comments.  We will have to keep a close eye on the economy and see where rates will go moving forward with this type of news on the forefront.  If you recall, at the beginning of the year, we predicted rates to rise to around 4.5% which I believe will still be the case, I thought it would be more gradual and not so drastic.

Largest interest rate increase since April, 1987

Largest interest rate increase since April, 1987

All of this being said, interest rates from a historical perspective, are still very low.  Today 30 year fixed rates are 4.25% with .75 points on conforming loans above $417,000.   While the increase in interest rates will certainly dampen some housing activity, the effect will be softened by the high level of buyer affordability, and home sales should still remain strong.

What else do we see in our real estate market?  We continue to see housing prices increase throughout the area as demand remains strong despite the increase in rates which is good news for our sellers.  We are also seeing more houses coming onto the market in Northern Virginia which is good news for our buyers. The inventory of resale homes is above 5,000 for the first time since the third week of October 2012.  Since the beginning of the year, inventory levels are up nearly 37% but we are still in a seller’s market with just a 1.4 month’s supply of homes.  The market still remains competitive with many properties receiving multiple contracts.   We had one house with 3 contracts on it this week in Virginia Run.  Distressed property inventory remains very low as well – just 6.9% of the market which is good news for everyone.   We should continue to see these trends continue throughout the summer.

Lastly, we are excited to announce we have signed a lease on our 5th office.  It is in the Clarendon section of Arlington and is located at 3000 10th Street – look for our grand opening announcement soon.  Please let us know how we can serve you.

Scott MacDonald

RE/MAX Gateway, LLC

What You Need To Know When Buying or Selling a House In Northern Virginia This Summer 2013

The real estate market continues to be hyper-local today.  We are seeing multiple contracts in many areas and yet houses are sitting on the market in others.  Prices are rising in many areas while we see price reductions in others.  We see houses staying on the market for mere hours to just a few days in some areas while other markets see houses staying on the market for over 30 days to even longer further out from Washington.  If you are buying or selling it is important to seek the advice of a professional so you know what the market is like in your area of interest to give you the right advice.

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There are some aspects of the market that are not hyper-local.  These areas that are influencing the market are interest rates and distressed property inventory.  Interest rates have been on the rise for nearly the whole month of May.  Don’t get me wrong, interest rates are still great and people shouldn’t be concerned but if you are waiting for them to come back down to make a move, the sage advice is to do something now and don’t delay as it will cost you more in the future.  As far as short sales and foreclosures are concerned, their numbers continue to dwindle in Northern Virginia which is great news for everyone who owns a home.  As of the end of May, only 6.1% of the total inventory was made up of distressed homes and they represented only 8.2% of sales in the region.  How does this affect the market?  These numbers have help aid in the rising of prices throughout our area as there are fewer blighted properties, more people caring for their yards and homes so everybody wins.

Our real estate market continues to be one of the best in the country because of our low unemployment rates, increasing property values, tourism, plus we have easy access to water, mountains and all the Washington DC metro area has to offer.  Please let us know how we can help you or someone you know looking to buy or sell a home.  (703) 652-5777

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.