Stable Real Estate Market Dispite Increase In Distressed Properties

Stable Real Estate Market SEPT 2014The word this past month used to describe the real estate market would be stable.

Although we are at an 8 year high in inventory levels, we didn’t see the rapid increase in inventory like we have experienced since May which is a good thing.  One area that we saw an increase in was in distressed property inventory.  Even though nationwide there are fewer foreclosures and short sales, we have more of them on the market here locally.  They are nowhere near previous levels but they are up 22% since the last week of June.  We will continue to monitor this for you and let you know of opportunities that are available.  We also did see a slowdown in sales which we don’t like to experience.  It was the fewest amount of sales for a month since January of this year but their numbers were virtually identical week to week so they were stable.  So, when you have high inventory levels coupled with fewer sales, we have seen more stable prices which is good for buyers.  It helps to keep housing affordability levels high for our buyer clients.  Owners are seeing the need to properly price their houses to make them competitive with the rest of the marketplace.  In addition to these market conditions we saw rates decline which helps keep the market stable as well.  Lastly, one area of surprise we experienced was the past week at our listings.  We saw an uptick in showings and buyer interest in our listings on line and in phone call inquiries.  This is good news as activity leads to sales.

FALL 2014 prognosis SOLID REAL ESTATE MARKETOn another note, we have a group of agents from different companies in our area that meet monthly.  These agents are in the top 5% of agents across the entire country in regards to sales.  We discuss the local market, inventory levels, buyer preferences, seller expectations, listing activity, and many other real estate related topics.   In this Platinum Club group meeting this past month we discussed the fall market and what our expectations were about the upcoming season.  The sentiment is the fall market will be a solid market in regards to sales.  We were all optimistic about what the market is going to bring and seeing activity at our listings pick up this past week may be the start of the momentum our region needs.  We will keep you posted.

Please let us know if there is anything we can do to help you or if you know of someone who may need our help.  We are here for you. Feel free to call me directly (703) 652-5777.

Scott MacDonald

RE/MAX Gateway

With No True Spring-Selling Market, What Will It Take To Sell Your Home in 2014?

Housing Inventory Increase

Wow, it is hard to believe that we are almost half way through 2014 and summer is just about to get into full swing.  It is going to be interesting to see how we get through the real estate market this summer as we had no true spring selling season.  At our June Quarterly Meeting, I announced our numbers were up so far this year but we were expecting to have helped more families buy and sell homes up to this point.  Of course the weather got in the way early on and now that school is about to get out, people will be taking their vacations.  So it is important for sellers to be prepared for the upcoming situation.

Our inventory levels have continued to escalate since the warm weather broke in May.  It has resulted in us having more homes for sale than any time since October on 2011.  As we enter the summertime, the season generally slows down which will increase inventory as well, so sellers need to do all they can to attract the buyers that are out looking for a new home.  Sellers need to position their properties accordingly, as there is currently a 2 month supply of houses on the market.  The inside and the outside of the house needs to shine and show like a model home, as well as be priced to sell!  We are not able to “push” prices like we did earlier this year. What it takes to sell your house in 2014The sellers who overprice their properties, even just above what we recommend, sit on the market.  Additionally, we are having appraisal issues with properties in areas where there are no sales to support the higher values – even in multiple contract situations in arm’s length transactions.  The underwriting guidelines have made it tougher to get above market values approved, so please price your house accordingly.

If you have any questions, concerns, or would like to discuss your specific situation or the market, feel free to call me today (703) 652-5777.

Scott MacDonald

RE/MAX Gateway

What A Buyer Wants In A House For Sale In Northern Virginia

Now that the spring market has sprung – inventory levels too have sprung into full bloom.

Our inventory levels are at three year highs with over 6,100 homes for sale in Northern Virginia. We have not had this many homes for sale since November of 2011 – nearly 3.5 years ago.  This is good for buyers who are searching for homes but sellers need to be cognizant of what this means to them.Image

Inventory levels are up 36% over this same time last year so sellers need to be competitive when they put their properties up for sale. What we have been seeing in the market is buyers are very discriminating now when it comes to their home selection. Properties need to be in model home condition, have great curb appeal and need to be priced right in order to get offers. When homes meet these criteria, they often times are receiving multiple offers while their neighbors who haven’t staged their homes, haven’t gotten them into model home condition or haven’t priced them properly sit on the market. We see sellers push values and stay for sale for extended periods of time. We see other sellers who don’t declutter or continue to “live” in their homes versus stage their homes properly and they sit on the market. Lastly, we see sellers not make the appropriate upgrades like painting, carpet replacement, adding granite, etc. and their homes continue to stay up for sale while others sell. Many of today’s buyers don’t want to make the upgrades, don’t have the vision to get homes into the right condition or don’t have the funds to make the improvements but qualify to buy the homes that have been put into the proper selling condition. As inventory levels rise, it is extremely important to make your house as competitive as possible to get it sold because there are buyers out there.

On another note, interest rates remain low which is helping purchasers become home owners both as first time buyers and as move up buyers which is good for our market. As rates increase, we will see people embrace adjustable rate mortgages as an option – especially first time buyers as their objectives are to only stay in the property for a short period of time. If you are considering a purchase, please ask about ARM’s and if they are a viable option for you.

Let’s hope the weather heats up and helps fuel the real estate market. The winter was brutal and the comment was made, if you can’t get out and buy milk and bread, you can’t get out and buy a house. Come on warmer temperatures – we need ya!

Scott MacDonald

RE/MAX Gateway



Northern Virginia Real Estate Market UPDATE! What You Need To Know To Sell Your Home

House inventory has dramatically increased in Northern Virginia. Buyers have more options. Real Estate Agents & Sellers alike… You need to watch this video blog for tips and tricks to help sell the home. Want to talk about your property in specific? Call Scott MacDonald (703) 652-5777 or email read more…

Scott MacDonald

RE/MAX Gateway

Scott’s Market Minute: Spring Real Estate Market Is Warming Up

Residential inventory of houses for sale in Northern Virginia is beginning to pick up and the Washington Wizards kicked off the playoffs with their first win! Get all the stats here and everything you need to know to set yourself up for success! Are you buying or selling? Contact Scott MacDonald (703) 652-5777 to find out the best strategies to put yourself ahead in this housing market.

Scott MacDonald

RE/MAX Gateway


LOW INVENTORY: Homes for Sale Needed in Northern Virginia!

Low inventory and multiple offers – listen as Scott MacDonald explains the current housing market from both buyer and seller perspective.  Scott offers practical advice to homeowners who are thinking of selling, as well as, market trends and forecast for the Northern Virginia Real Estate Market.
Contact Scott MacDonald (703) 652-5777 to learn more about your specific real estate market or read


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

Why is the Northern Virginia Real Estate Market slowing down?

Scott MacDonald of RE/MAX Gateway offers valuable information and insight in his Northern Virginia Real Estate Market Minute as to why the Spring 2013 Northern Virginia Housing Market is slowing down just a little. Homes priced competitvely are selling fast! Home Buyers and Sellers will want to save money by closing before July 1, 2013 Grantor’s Tax increase. There’s still time to get your home listed for sale! Call Scott MacDonald (703) 652-5777

Sequestration: FHA Delays, Department of Agriculture, USDA Loan Processing and How It Will Affect The Real Estate Market in Northern Virginia

Sequestration is here and it is going to affect a lot of areas of our life – some people more so than others.  The initial $85 billion cuts will include furloughs for 2.1 million federal workers for five months.  They will be required to take 22 unpaid days beginning in April and will end in September.  This 20% reduction in pay to many people has the potential to put them behind in their mortgages resulting in an increase in default notices.  This in turn could result in more short sales and foreclosures thereby affecting prices and more importantly the housing recovery.  Additionally, if people are making less money, they do not have the ability to “move up” so we will continue to see a lack of inventory in housing.  Worse yet, in some cases if people with security clearances fall behind with other bills, they could lose those clearances and their jobs.Image

Speaking of housing, FHA has acknowledged they will see delays in endorsements/claims time frames which will impact settlement dates because of getting loans not being completed in time for closing.  FHA is responsible for approximately 25% of loans so this is a big deal and you should pay attention to your closing dates.  Along these same lines, cuts in the Department of Agriculture will mean there will be delays in the processing of USDA loans.  These loans typically take a minimum of 75 days – I would encourage you to look at a minimum of 90 days to be safe.

In addition, people who rely on Federal Housing Assistance are going to lose their benefits which would leave them homeless.  These people include veterans and the disabled.  One other area that is affected is foreclosure prevention aid to nearly 75,000 people – keep an eye on this development.  People who receive Housing Choice Vouchers will be cut.  These vouchers are used for renting apartments.  Approximately 125,000 will be affected here potentially leaving them homeless.

A majority of the cuts will come from defense spending.  It is estimated that nearly 207,000 Virginians will lose their jobs with 75% of those residing in Northern VirginiaCalifornia will also lose a total of over 200,000 jobs with Maryland not far behind with over 100,000 jobs lost.  In totality, it has been predicted 2.14 million people would become unemployed as a result of sequestration.  There will be unintended consequences resulting from these cuts which will total $1.2 trillion by 2021.  One area that comes to mind is travel by air.  Fewer air traffic controllers and fewer TSA employees will result in delays at the airports for sure.  Another area is Hurricane Sandy victims, their aid will be diminished as well.  Lastly, when the hardworking, lower middle class government workers get 20% of their income slashed, there will be less discretionary spending which could have broad sweeping consequences – let’s see what else will be impacted.

Potential Effects of Sequestration on Real Estate

There is a lot of optimism in the media about real estate.  It is refreshing after the last several years of negative press and all the pessimism surrounding real estate.  Here is some of the positive news about the market:

  • The number of people that are delinquent in their mortgage payments are down so as a result, short sales and foreclosures are less prevalent in the market.
  • Potential Effects of Sequestration in Real Estate scottymacsblog With less distressed inventory, prices are increasing giving many people equity in their homes.  Many people may not be aware of their position in relation to their home’s value
  • Fewer foreclosures results in less crime – fewer people are stealing appliances, HVAC units, cabinets, lighting, etc. from the foreclosed properties and there aren’t as many people squatting
  • Inventory is low as buyers are in the market purchasing properties
  • Sellers, in many cases are seeing multiple offers on their houses
  • Interest rates remain below 4%
  • Consumer confidence is up
  • New home sales are up
  • Builder confidence is up
  • The rental market is strong and will continue to increase which is good for investors
  • As the real estate market improves, so does the overall economy

It is great to see us getting out of the weeds but there is still a lot of work ahead of us.  Sequestration and the resulting budget cuts will impact thousands of people – how will this impact the housing recovery.  Lending guidelines continue to tighten and the cost of obtaining a mortgage is rising – will this prevent too many people from entering the housing market?  Appraisals are often times coming in low because of escalating house prices with multiple offers and low supply – will this prevent too many sales from happening?

As a professional Realtor, committed to our clients, we can help you with providing you with the right advice to help you navigate the real estate market.  Feel free to call us with any questions.

Scott MacDonald (703) 652-5777