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.

It’s going to be a long and busy summer!

As we head into the dog days of summer, I thought you may be interested in reading about the Northern Virginia real estate market as well as some national real estate news as well.  Let’s dive right in!  The Fox Gate development at the doorsteps of Loudoun County received its’ approval to begin development.  Fox Gate is located between Pleasant Valley Road and Tall Cedars Parkway, encompasses 27 acres which will offer 1.2 million square feet of office, retail, hotel and civic space along with 110 residential units. 

Apparently Bechtel, the country’s largest contractor – the contractor building the Silver Line – is secretly looking for up to 300,000 square feet in Loudoun County.  Obviously, this is a huge home run for the area as Loudoun boasts a 26% vacancy rate on commercial properties and Fairfax County has 16% in the areas where they are searching.  Forbes ranks Bechtel as the third largest privately held company with just under $28 Billion in revenue with 52,700 employees – not too shabby!  Here is a great opportunity if you know of anyone who works there to do some relocation business.

Also, locally our market is seeing the same market we were in last year as far as numbers are concerned.  For the first week of July, active resales were 7,379 this year versus 7,534 last year.  We have a 2.3 month’s supply of houses for properties that went under contract the previous 30 days both this year and last.  The rental market is virtually the same with a one month supply this year and a 1.2 month supply from last year.  I have to say it to remain consistent.  If you aren’t working with investors, holding investment seminars or obtaining a designation to help investors, you are missing out on a huge opportunity.  We will discuss more reasons why later.  Houses that settled the last 30 days have a 2.7 month’s supply of houses – last year it was a 2.5 month’s supply, a difference of 300+/- houses.  I think the difference here is short sales and the changes in the bank’s stance in regards to their handling of them.  We are seeing the banks counter the prices way above what is realistic based upon market conditions, asking for interest free loans and even the requirement for sellers to bring cash to the table.  Agents need to set the expectations for our sellers so they know that these options are serious possibilities and keep these deals together.  Obviously the pricing piece can’t be overcome easily but the other two options can be discussed upfront to help keep deals together.  Additionally, Chase recently announced that they are not in the short sale business, they are in the foreclosure business so be on top of your Chase owned loans.  Distressed properties make up 15.5% of the active inventory this year versus 19.9% this year.  Foreclosures are down this year versus last year as the foreclosure process is taking longer and inventory continues to be slow to get on the market.  Buyers continue to be price sensitive and are looking for the “perfect” house so continue to encourage proper pricing, staging and even prelisting inspections to get your listings in the best light for potential buyers otherwise, they will sit on the market.  Pricing properly is even more important in the outer counties and localities as new home prices are attractive in areas closer to the beltway.  Therefore, new home sales continue to post strong numbers as their pricing is competitive today and the buyers get to select how they want their houses to be decorated.  Our friends from Van Metre will share their success with us shortly.

There have been several good articles posted recently to help buyers realize now is a good time to buy along with the Housing Secretary Shaun Donavan stating it is unlikely housing prices will drop further and a noted now was a good time to buy.  He also mentioned officials must find ways to provide access to home ownership without requiring a 20% down payment.  Additionally, Warren Buffet posted his Five Real Estate Tips which include: 1) Housing prices increase in value over time especially as the dollar becomes worth less.  2)  Buy low, prices are down due to the housing bubble and appear to be at the bottom and you can never time a market.   Also, remember, you make money when you buy – not when you sell.  3)  Don’t wait too long to take advantage of low prices – if you wait for the robins, spring will be over.  4)  Smart home ownership has 3 elements – fixed rate mortgage, affordable payments and a long term hold.  5)  Buying a dream home can be a nightmare – don’t let your eyes be bigger than your wallet – go with the fundamentals previously discussed.  And lastly, pending home sales rose strongly in May which was the first time contract activity was up over the previous year since April of 2010 and we all know the reason for that was the expiration of the tax credits.  Let’s continue this trend into the second half of the year!

The things to look out for to carry us into the second half of the year are number one, jobs.  If jobs don’t get created then consumer confidence will stay low and housing sales will suffer. Number 2 is  underwriting guidelines for mortgages cannot get stricter, they need to be relaxed as the pendulum has swung a little too far.  In 2009, 23.5% of loans were rejected, in 2010, 26.8% of loans were rejected which is not a good trend.  If underwriting continues to become more difficult home sellers and buyers will be hurt and the ones who will benefit will be investors.  Investors typically pay cash plus, if buyers can’t get loans, they become renters and the rental market becomes stronger.  Remember, you need to be working with investors. Number 3 is distressed property numbers need to remain low which may be difficult.  CoreLogic estimates that 10.9 million or 22.7% of home owners with a mortgage are underwater at the end of the first quarter – 2.4 million home owners have less than 5% equity so this puts a total of 27% of the nation’s mortgage holders at risk.  The foreclosure process is now taking an average of 400 days which is twice as long as it took in 2007 so distressed properties will be in our market for the foreseeable future.  Number 4 is rates need to remain low allowing more buyers to be able to afford homes – Leslie Wish knows all too well how an increase of 1% in rates can knock down the potential number of buyers in the buyer pool.  And lastly, number 5 you!  You have to be active in the business, speaking with people – not just emailing, blogging, texting and attending trainings – you must physically speak with people on the phone, at networking events, open houses, at the pool, at your kids or grandkids sporting events anywhere you can get belly to belly with people.  You need to make it happen by spreading the word about how market is different from what they read in the papers or see on TV.  Get busy getting busy!

Now, quickly some fun stuff.  Zip Realty is no longer offering buyer rebates.  They have closed offices in 12 markets and have shed 700 agents.  They will continue to offer sellers a 1% listing credit in the 23 markets they are staying in but after posting losses of $12.9 million in ’09 and $15.5 million in ’10 they are finding it increasingly difficult to remain profitable – duh!  In addition to these losses, they will experience even more as their transactions are down 12.2% this year versus last…who could be next??  Perhaps it could be Redfin – we shall see!

Take this information and share it with your clients and demonstrate to them you are the expert in the business.  Get it?  Got it?  Good!

Now, go sell something!

 

What kind of change are you looking for?

As the New Year is upon us, it is the time many agents think about changing companies.  Before you think about making a move consider the following thoughts you are about to read.  A change of scenery is just that – a change in scenery.  Rarely does a change for change sake work.  Either does a change to “see what happens”.  The only time a change works is when change happens from within.  To truly change, you must change your habits, change your work ethic, change your desires, change how or who you are – not where you are.  My grandmother used to say, “A leopard doesn’t change its spots”.

True change is a choice to change behavioral patterns and thought processes not a change in location.  Rarely will success occur from merely changing where you are.  A change for the best occurs when you take advantage of what is available to you and by instilling discipline into your life.  Your attitude is typically one of the best places to start.  Analyze where you are today and why.  Do you have the discipline to set and achieve goals, develop a plan of action, setting a schedule, working that schedule, and growing you through education, accountability and coaching?  Find a mentor to develop yourself into what you want to become – don’t just change companies…this is superficial and in the end will rarely help you and you will continue your search for the next company that offers lower fees, more leads or something else that won’t yield true results.  The great Bob Marley sang – you’re running and you’re running and you’re running away but you can’t run away from yourself.  Truer words have never been sung in regards to change.  You can’t change others, changing companies doesn’t work – only changing you works. 

Now at times, a change is required if you aren’t provided opportunities – training, coaching, the right atmosphere, leadership or potential to grow yourself and your business but when you are and you don’t take advantage of these opportunities – you only have yourself to blame and your success will be no greater at the new location.  Lower fees won’t make a difference – the promise of leads won’t make you better – a salary won’t make you improve – only you can make you better.

It’s time to change you – not your location or company.  Get it?  Got it?  Good!

Now, go sell something.