Hey, Why Is It Taking So Long To Sell My Home? Theme Park: Northern Virginia Real Estate Market

July 2014 REAL ESTATE MARKET is like a carnival rideThe summertime real estate market is a lot like a theme park – ups and downs like a roller coaster with sales, activity and interest rates and a lot of unknowns like a haunted house.

There are a lot of questions around what is happening in the market from sellers and builders we are working with to sell their houses.

It is an interesting dynamic where we have extremely low interest rates – at or near 4% – and a high home affordability index yet sales are not as strong as we expect them to be considering this situation.

July 2014 REAL ESTATE MARKET for sellers is like a haunted house
What are the reasons for this?

One potential reason is price appreciation along with the multiple offers earlier this year. Many potential homebuyers naturally paused to wonder: is it a new bubble? Or can I afford these prices? But price appreciation has greatly moderated as we have seen inventory rise dramatically since the beginning of the year.

Therefore, potential homebuyers will no longer face the sticker shock and can now make rational decisions about whether or not it makes sense to buy a home.

Along with the increase in houses on the market, we will be creating new buyers as these homes sell. So demand will increase as more sales happen in many instances.

Another reason is the economy isn’t growing as quickly as was expected and consumer confidence is not extremely strong. Once buyers gain confidence in the economy, housing will follow suit and grow with the economy. Until then, we will see moderate house sales as well as price appreciation.

We also are still experiencing tight lending guidelines and underwriting policies on mortgages. It is still hard for many potential buyers to obtain loans. The “qualification pendulum” is still too far to one side and needs to be moderated to allow more buyers into the marketplace with sound lending practices.

So, in order to be a seller in today’s market, you need to be patient. Good houses, properly priced, in the right condition will sell. It will just take a little longer.

If you have any questions or concerns, please call me (703) 652-5777 so we can discuss your personal situation in more detail. We are here to help.
Happy 4th of July!

Scott MacDonald

RE/MAX Gateway

2012…what will it bring?

I was recently asked to provide some answers to the following questions for the RISMedia’s Real Estate Magazine…

1.  As we wrap up the fourth quarter of 2011, has this year panned out as you expected it to? Were there any major surprises…good or bad?   

This year was definitely a little more challenging than expected with all of the financing changes that occurred as far as the tightening of credit, increase in FHA MI, and continued issues with appraisals but overall we still are having a great year.  We opened a fourth office and agents are affiliating with us which is great.  Each year, I do my Top 10 predictions for the upcoming year and I hit on some, missed on others.  The best miss was I had predicted interest rates would be above 6% and as we all know, I couldn’t have been any further off which is good.  For the best hit, I predicted we would see new home sales prices come down and as a result we would see more new home sales and we did – at least in Northern Virginia we did.  Toll Brother’s had a record year in South Riding, a community next to our Chantilly office, selling 110 houses in their fiscal year which ended in October.  The community where our Ashburn office is located, Brambleton sold 354 houses in 2010; the 8th best-selling community in the country has sold over 500 houses YTD.


2.  In your opinion, what will be the most significant drivers of business in 2012 and how are you preparing your company to take advantage of them? 

In my opinion, there are a few.  Investors will continue to play a huge role in our market.  Educating agents on how to work with investors, helping them get involved in property management and learn to market themselves to attract more investors and tenants to ensure success in this arena. On the flip side of investors are first time buyers.  As rents increase, with the interest rate environment we are currently in, buying may be a better option for many would be tenants.  So having a plan of action to help first time buyers is extremely important.  Although interest rates have been at record lows, they have not motivated huge numbers of buyers to enter the market but a sharp increase in rates could be devastating to the housing recovery so keeping rates low is critical and educating the public on the true cost of home ownership is critical.  In addition, HAMP 2.0, if successful will help keep in their homes longer, this will help stabilize neighborhoods and prevent further foreclosures plus it will aid in increasing consumer confidence.  So being a trusted advisor to our past clients, letting them know about this opportunity is important to growing their business as they are a trusted advisor.  We also need to lobby RPAC to keep the Mortgage Interest Deduction as well as prevent the implementation of 20% down payment loans so getting our agents involved in RPAC is a focus next year as well.

3.  What are your predictions for consumer confidence in 2012? What issues stand to most significantly impact consumer confidence next year and what strategies will you employ to help restore confidence?  

If the press continues to pump out negative information on the economy and housing instead of putting a positive spin on what is happening and jobs are not restored, consumer confidence will stay low.   It is critical that agents get the word out about their market as each market is local and even hyper local.  Consumer confidence will be a key for us to continue to drive sales locally.  Our market in Northern Virginia is unlike any other in the country.  Our distressed property inventory is only 18% of our market, as such, foreclosures and short sales are not a driving force, our unemployment rate in Northern Virginia is in the 5% range, and we only have a 2.9 month supply of houses.  It is our job to get this information out to our clients and consumers to dispel the negative news they hear virtually daily on the housing market.  We need to continue to let them consumers know that if their employment is stable, the house is right for them and their family, interest rates are phenomenal and now is the right time to buy. So education is the key.  Blogging, videos, email campaigns and direct mail are how we plan to get the word out to the public.



It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

For glogl 
Well, well, well what do we have in store for the real estate market now through the end of the year in Northern Virginia?  I believe we are in for a surprise this year.  We are going to finish the year stronger than many expect.

Typically, this is a slower time of year but we haven’t seen as big a slowdown as we normally do during the holidays.  The trends show us houses are coming off the market rapidly both through sales and being withdrawn from the market due to it being “that time of year”.  But interest rates are at all time lows and buyers are out in full force!  In speaking with other professionals – the ones who have been working hard the last few months networking, giving great advice along the way about our market and are communicating with their clients are reaping big rewards.  We have one agent, Becky Green, who sold 3 houses this past week – a holiday week no less.   Toll Brothers Amberlea in South Riding had 25 visitors on Saturday and we wrote a contract early Sunday morning but I am sure they saw similar activity later in the day – 2 visitors were in the model when we left.  An agent in our office wrote a contract on a town house in Herndon and there were 3 others competing for the same house.  So much for the slow down around the holidays!

So, where are these buyers coming from?  Many are relocation buyers coming into the area and others are relocation buyers from the spring who decided to rent.  They wanted to get familiar with the market, our area and wanted to wait and see what was going to happen with the economy and housing sector and now, their leases are ending and they are ready to buy.

In a recent Fannie Mae survey, the following information was revealed by the participants:

  • People trust homeownership as an investment over buying stocks (66% to 16%). The stock market has seen its’ tremendous fluctuations and people have no control over which direction the stock will fluctuate.  In contrast, upgrading the home adds value and paying down your mortgage increases the equity in the homes plus the many other advantages of home ownership.  In addition, they also trust owning a home over investing in a 401k, buying an insurance annuity or investing in a mutual fund. People find investing in a home safer than any other investment except putting their money into a savings account.
  • 96% of homeowners feel that homeownership has been a positive experience – what’s not to like?  Stability, pride in ownership, sense of community and many other factors contribute to this positive experience.   17% of renters think renting has been a positive experience which means 83% feel it is negative or neutral. This is a huge disparity which reflects now is a good time to buy!

Additional findings in the report that we need to make note of in the report include:

  • 62% of renters have long-term ownership aspirations – we just mentioned this above in the buyer pool in the market today.  Many more will enter the market as their leases come to an end – stay tuned.
  • Americans continue to expect home rental prices to rise more than home prices over the next year. Americans believe that it is more likely that home rental prices will go up rather than go down by a ratio of almost 4 to 1.  Right now, we have a 1.7 month supply of rentals and we see rental rates increasing on a year over year basis in our property management group.
  • An overwhelming majority of mortgage borrowers remain satisfied with their loans and 3 in 4 Americans are confident they would receive the necessary information to choose the right loan.  The teaser rate products, no income no asset loans, and balloon products are out of the market along with many others that created our housing crisis that we are climbing out of today.
  • Non-financial considerations, such as accessing good education and safety, continue to trump financial reasons for owning a home. With the top three reasons (education, safety, and more space) all increasing in percentages since the last report.  People realize how important “home” and one that is theirs is in life.
  • Since the time of purchase, 59% of mortgage borrowers have seen their home value increase.  In many markets, prices have stabilized or increased throughout Northern Virginia.  It is time to get into the market before the price escalations begin to soar.
  • In conclusion, the Fannie Mae survey showed that homeownership is still considered by the vast majority as a good investment (66%) and a positive experience (96%) and, most importantly to those sitting on the fence, 68% think it is a good time for people to buy a home – and you should!

Based upon the information above, it is critical, now more than ever to reach out to a true real estate professional and get the facts on the market and don’t rely on the national media for your real estate information.  Who knows, Santa may bring you a nice surprise for Christmas!  Get it?  Got it?  Good!

Now, go buy something!