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

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

Scotts Market Minute Prelude to Summer Real Estate Market in Northern Virginia

Scott’s Market Minute May 20, 2013

Scott MacDonald offers current market stats and information in his Market Minute for Northern Virginia. Inventory has increased slightly offering buyers a little more to look at. Home Buyers and Sellers will want to keep in mind that by closing before July 1, 2013 Grantor’s Tax increase you will save money. There’s still time to get your home listed for sale and sold! Call Scott MacDonald (703) 652-5777

Scott’s Market Minute for Northern Virginia: Low Housing Inventory For A Hot Real Estate Market

Spring market has sprung early this year. Thinking of selling your home? Watch Scott’s Market Minute every week. Scott provides real estate market information for Northern Virginia and his Market Minute offers a quick look into current market conditions, housing inventory levels, distressed property statistics, and market projections. If you want to know what’s going on in the Virginia side of the DC Metro housing market area, contact Scott MacDonald (703)652-5777 or follow his blog

Watch out for scams!

Agents, title companies and sellers beware.  There is a scam that is out there that is hurting our industry.  If you receive a contract from, hear or read about buyers from out of the country that are looking to pay cash for a house, that want to settle quickly, want to use your “reputable” settlement company and have never seen the house, run fast as you can from this situation.  They will promise to wire the funds to your title company or the real estate company once the contract is ratified – usually late on Thursday or on a Friday – conduct a home inspection through a friend or relative over the weekend, then void the contract and request their funds be wired to their account by Monday or Tuesday at the latest.  What is the problem you ask?  The wire transfer is counterfeit and everyone gets caught in the middle and the buyer receives money that was never theirs from the title company or real estate office.  In some scenarios, they will say their country won’t allow them to wire the funds but will have their friend or relative drop off a certified check.  These funds too are counterfeit and the funds should not be released to the buyer unless verified they are valid funds.

What can you do to prevent this you ask?  First, make sure they have seen the house – not just pictures on the internet.  You wouldn’t buy a house this way and only a very few select people would – military or investors being ones that come to mind.  Also, do as we do, Google the buyer, the buyer’s agent and the lender on every case.  See what you can find out about them.  See if they are on social media sites like Facebook or Linkedin.  Learn all you can about them.  In addition, check DPOR and see if there are any outstanding violations with the agent at the state level as they too may be in on the scam.  Conduct your due diligence – ask to see “proof of funds” from a reputable source and Google the source if you are not familiar with them.  And lastly, don’t accept the contract until the funds prove to be valid which can typically take 3 to 4 days of deposit into an account.

Here are examples of what other agents are receiving from the web.  They may take on different forms of these emails so be on the alert.  Some agents believe this to be a scam to sign up for Docusign but it is really a scam to get money.

One agent received a lead through

Att. Please i will need an offer on this,

Thank you very much for the email, I would like to purchase this property MLS # 4214263, located at 15380 Little Stone Way Alpharetta.  The indicated price is $613,000.00 Please note my offering price is $600,000.00 Please send me the contract for this property and the following phrase should be added on the contract.

1. I will want to close on 12th June, 2011

2. I want to put down $30,000.00 Earnest money

3. I want to put contingency on inspection on the contract.

I and my wife will be buying the property and the buyers name should be. Leo Thang and Jiao Thang. Our address is 4645 Jane Street, Toronto Ontario Canada M3N 2K9

Please forward me a purchase contract agreement via docusign format, their website is or any other electronic document I don't have access to a printer or scanner here therefore I can not sign and send it back in PDF format I am in a remote area now and i will like to do the signing myself on behalf of my wife.

I would also like to use a reliable title company for the closing. Kindly advise regarding this issue.

Thanks for your understanding. I await the purchase contract agreement as soon as possible.

Leo Thang

And some just receive leads through email…

Larry Sabo – Realtor in California

Dear Larry Sabo,

Att. Please i will need an offer on this,

Thank you very much for the email, I would like to purchase this property MLS # 116400, located at 3403 Beaver Brae Dr South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150.The indicated price is $659,000.00 Please note my offering price is $640,000.00 Please send me the contract for this property and the following phrase should be added on the contract.

1. I will want to close on 13th June, 2011

2. I want to put down $30,000.00 Earnest money

3. I want to put contingency on inspection on the contract.

I and my wife will be buying the property and the buyers name should be. Leo Thang and Jiao Thang. Our address is 4645 Jane Street, Toronto Ontario Canada M3N 2K9

Please forward me a purchase contract agreement via docusign format, their website is or any other electronic document I don't have access to a printer or scanner here therefore I can not sign and send it back in PDF format I am in a remote area now and i will like to do the signing myself on behalf of my wife.

I would also like to use a reliable title company for the closing. Kindly advise regarding this issue.

Thanks for your understanding. I await the purchase contract agreement as soon as possible.
Regards, Leo Thang

As you can see, Leo Thang is just one person attempting this across the country – there are sure to be others.  Become educated on the red flags, stay on alert for anything unusual similar to this situation, and keep yourself and your sellers from becoming victims of a scam.  Get it?  Got it?  Good!

Now, go sell something – legitimately!


Get in the Know…now!

We recently attended the RISMedia convention in New York and have compiled notes that I will share with you on what was discussed and comment – occasionally how it will affect our business and ask that you do research on certain topics to inform yourself to give our clients the most up-to-date information so they can make the right decisions when buying or selling a house.

Finance update


There have been two price increases on FHA loans recently – upfront MI and monthly MI.

-Lenders paid less on FHA loans.

-FHA loan amounts decrease.

-Potential increase in down payment requirements are also on the horizon.

-FHA Loans are 30% of the market.

-MI – 5% down training on MI is required for agents who want to stay in the know!

Additional facts on the market:

-2/3 mortgage applications don’t go through.

-Do consumers understand the process of obtaining credit – no – Agents are transactional

-7 million people have been out of work for 26+ weeks.

-19.8% of all prior mortgages are 90+days delinquent.

-Eminent defaults are on the horizon – stay tuned.

-60 million + people with less than 630 credit score.

Lenders are looking for point of sale contact with Realtors

-Want to help you grow your biz and attract more agents into their database?

The question is how?

-Training and education

-Shared marketing dollars


-Exposure to listings through marketing ventures.

– What else can they provide?

GSE’s are stagnant on Capitol Hill and we shouldn’t expect progress anytime soon.  Too much else is on their plate.

270 points in Dodd-Frank bill – The lending industry WILL change.  We are expecting to receive talking points of the bill for you to share with your clients so stay tuned!

Do you know what Qualified Residential Mortgages are?  It is important to stay up on the trends.  QRM will push a 1/3 of Buyers out of market.  The comment period on QRM ends 6/10/2011 – get in the know and make your comments to your elected officials!

“Stuff” is thrown up against the wall right on Capitol Hill now to see what sticks

 – A tax on new home sales was proposed so that the existing home inventory could get absorbed and new home sales would subside as a result.

What is the HAMP Mod’s default rate within 6 months?  It occurs 60% of the time.

Average consumer has 13 credit obligations – 9 credit cards.

48% of college students leave school with bad credit

58% of college grads move home because of poor credit.

Ask your clients, “What is likelihood of you buying furniture, blinds, etc., if you do, can you really afford this house with this additional debt?”

Become a long term trusted advisor for your clients – provide valuable content – early and often.

Education is a continued effort so get educated.  Get it?  Got it?  Good!

Now, go sell something!


Is the sky falling?

Which way is up? 
There is more confusing news about the real estate market today in the
media, on social networking sites and in reports than ever before.  As many of you know, I am active in social
media and am a member of many groups on Linkedin and read postings by others on
Facebook and Twitter among other sites and no one seems to agree about the
market.  There are questions about when
and if foreclosures are going to hit the market – some say it will be a tsunami
and others not.  Some say that in regards
to prices we are going to have a double dip yet the major indexes say prices in
almost all the major markets have increased month over month and year over year
since May.  News on interest rates is
that rates are going to rise yet they continue to go down and they are at all
time lows.  It is no wonder that
consumers are confused about what to do as many Realtors have such differing
opinions on which way the market is heading.

 As a real estate
practitioner in Northern Virginia involved in the resale market with our team,
the Results Realty Group, new home sales with our Assured Sales & Assured
Lease programs, property management, mastermind groups that discuss
foreclosures and short sales, and lastly, one on ones with our highly
productive Realtors, we believe we have a robust real estate market in our
area.  Houses are selling when they are
in excellent condition, they are properly staged, offer a good location and
they are priced correctly.  We continue
to have a strong buyer base here because of historically low rates, affordable
prices but most of all they are attracted to our area for the jobs.   We have one of the lowest unemployment rates
in the country – people and companies continue to come to our area. 

There should be no Chicken Little sightings in Northern
Virginia when it comes to real estate. 
Agents who are active in the business on a daily basis, finding the
opportunities for both buyers and sellers, attending trainings to educate
themselves so they can educate their clients, and honing their craft are
experiencing their best years ever.  As
is the case in all aspects of life, when you have a positive attitude along
with a can do attitude you are more likely to get the results you are looking
for than not.  Selecting the right
Realtor today is more important now than ever before when you or someone you
know is looking to buy or sell a house.  Be
sure the right choice is made.  Get
it?  Got it?  Good! 

Now, go sell something!

A walk down memory lane…

At the recent RISMedia Leadership and Social Media Summit,
several of us discussed where we were from a technology standpoint in real
estate and discussed what the “next” big thing in real estate will be and how
it will affect our business. This got me thinking how much has changed since I
got into real estate in 1988. 

Let’s take a step back in time and see how much has changed
and how amazing it is to remember how we ever functioned without the tools we
have today.  The list is in no particular
order and none is more important than the other, but when taken on the whole,
it is amazing.  The following list has
made us more productive, efficient and in some cases even better business
people if used properly.  If you have
others, please let me know.

We used to operate with no cell phones, but technology
stepped up and we used pagers to help keep us connected.  The pagers first buzzed then offered us
numbers to call back which we were able to do with car phones that were
attached to our consoles that took a day to install.  Luckily, technology allowed us to become
mobile with cell phones and now, we finally have smart phones.  What is next?

When we negotiated contracts it was face to face with the
sellers.  Next, we had the opportunity to
use data grams – a service that came over our thermal fax paper machines which
gave us permission to counter contracts on behalf of our clients.  Next, we were able to use fax machines, then
we progressed to scan to email, and now we use docusign and other e-signature
services.  In essence, we don’t have to
see our clients and can even be global with our business practice!

In order for clients to see properties, we used MLS cards –
postcards with a picture on the front and a very brief description on the
back.  Next, we moved up to MLS books
that allowed us to be somewhat more mobile, but the information was dated as it
took time to print and deliver.  After
this came, thermal paper and MLS printouts, dot matrix printers, online access
to MLS service with logins and now to mobile search capabilities from our smart
phones…what is around the corner?

In addition to these changes, the business itself has
changed substantially.  Some argue for
the better, some not – you decide.  At
first, it was a broker based business. 
The broker controlled the commission splits, the information made
public, advertising, etc.  We then moved
into the agent centered business where commission splits skyrocketed, the
advertising and promotion was about the agent and what they could do for the
client.  Now, we have entered the consumer
based business where everything is about the client and how we can serve the
client and provide them with as much information as quickly and efficiently as

Let’s look at access to properties.  First, it was all appointment only or agents
had to pick up the key from the listing office. 
Next we saw combo lockboxes enter the marketplace.  Then, in order to protect the sellers more,
we were issued circle keys.  When these
became easy to replicate, we move to the combo bar system, and now we utilize electronic
lockboxes of many varieties.

The controlling of Information started with the broker
controlling data to clients then agents were allowed to pass information to
clients and now information is controlled by the internet.  The internet offers virtually endless
information through blogs, websites, idx feeds, vow’s, public records and even
more sources.  It is critical for agents
to be on top of their game at all times when speaking with clients.

Wow, think about how much lead generation has changed.  It used to be we used the newspaper, cold
calling, door knocking and open houses to generate leads.  Then agents took on geographical farming to
gain recognition which lead to agents working their sphere in various ways to
obtain leads.  The onset of the internet
lead to pay per click and other pay for lead sources and this area continues to
blossom through lead generating websites.

The whole technology realm is amazing in itself.  We mentioned pager and progression to smart phones
but how about in the office and on the road? 
We have gone from office computers to personal computers to laptop,
tablets, netbooks, ipad, and mobile apps – the possibilities seem endless at
this point.

Marketing used to be almost strictly all newspaper
advertising.  Then we utilized direct
mail, billboard advertising, bench marketing, bus and car wraps and other forms
of mass advertising.   Agents have become
more practical in their spending habits by utilizing marketing to their sphere,
developing email campaigns, embracing social media outlets.

There used to be no websites then we had company websites
which paved the way for agent websites, and now we have multimedia social
interaction with our clients.

Our offices used to be brick and mortar offices often with
multiple locations.  Next came the mega
office concept where brokers consolidated into on large location.  As the market and technology  changed , offices downsized.  As more agents began to work from home,
wireless access points and wireless cards have become available, café offices
have emerged.

Initially, the way we worked was as Individual agents.  As our businesses grew, assistants became
more prevalent and more of a necessity. 
When lifestyle options and life balance became more important, buyer
agents and listing specialists lead to forming mega teams.  As technology emerge virtual assistants also
offered alternatives for agents to be more efficient.

 Our education avenues
have also changed.  We were first taught
to use the Haines directory, work expired listings and FSBO’s.  Then we took our education on the road and
obtained designations.  Next we worked on
database development, social media development. 
Our travel then gave way to on line training through RSN and other
correspondence classes.  These have lead
the way to webinars, techinars, and streaming video trainings.  Also agents have developed mastermind groups
to grow their businesses.

The agent’s compensation plans have also changed
drastically.  Initially, commission structures
started at 50/50.  Then we saw graduated
commission levels based upon production and then the 100% comp plans with a
monthly fee.  We have also seen transaction
fees become part of our compensation plans. 
There are also plans where agents are on a split until the company
reaches a level acceptable to them known as a CAP schedule and we also see
hybrid forms of these plans.

The world of financing also needs to touched upon.  It used to be 20% down loans, cash, VA loans,
and FHA low down payment loans.  In addition
to these, we had buy downs, high seller consessions and then guidelines
changed.  We had 100% loans, 80/10/10,
80/20, 80/15/5, NINA, 106%, There were COFI loans, Balloon payment loans,
interest only loans and now we have the tightest loan guidelines we have ever

The marketing of houses has also had a metamorphosis.  Initially we had simple brochures with the
exterior photo taped to the page then we had 800 call capture numbers to find
more buyers for our listings.  Next we
were able to take digital photos and create more elaborate brochures and
virtual tours.   We now market properties
through videos, dedicated listing websites, text for information technologies,
voicepad, and once again, social media outlets.

Advertising venues have also been through changes.  We used to utilize magazines, newspapers, published
articles, hosted TV and radio shows and now we have youtube channels.

Our communication with clients and other agents has also
progressed from the phone only to writing notes, then came email and IM
followed by text and coupled with Facebook messages, tweets, and even more…we
are more available today than ever before

As you notice, our business is always evolving which means
we too need to embrace change, be forward thinking and continuously move
forward if we want our business to only not survive but thrive going into the
future.  Get it?  Got it? Good!

More business, more business, more business!

Many people ask in our one on ones what is the best way to
get more business and my answer over the last several years has been consistent
and won’t change – it is to work by referral. 
So, the next question is how do you work and get more results by
referral?  It isn’t rocket science.  You need to be involved in life –get out and
get in front of people.  Develop yourself
as a “people” person. 

The first step is to give more in value than you ever expect
to receive back.  Get to know about the
business the other person is involved in, the charities they embrace, the cause
that most interests them and then ask how you can help through referrals,
participation or in any other way they need help.  By giving yourself without expectations of getting
anything in return will get you further faster in reaching your goals.

Next is to continuously grow your database.  As you get out in front of people and help
them with their areas of interest, you will naturally be introduced to more
people and the more people you serve the more you will get in return. 

So, the next question is how do you grow your database?  The answer is to get in front of people
through associations, coaching kids, get involved in schools, charities, hold
open houses, meet your neighbors, just do whatever it takes to get yourself
into social situations and ask to serve. 
The more visible you are, the opportunities you give yourself to be
perceived as a giver of value, time, resources, and expertise, the more likely
you are to receive business in return.

Above all, it is important to put other’s interests
first.  When you help others with their
challenges, issues or concerns and you are seen as someone who cares, you will
once again, receive business.  It is a
natural instinct for most people to want to give back if you continuously give
of yourself and put others interests ahead of yours.

It is your talents, your education, your desire to better
yourself and most importantly, your attitude that makes you, you.  Always keep in mind you are the biggest asset
you have to give to others.  Therefore,
it is of utmost importance that you become a continuous learner and
teacher.  Seek opportunities to show case
your talents.  Put yourself in the
position of being a resource to others by what and who you know.

Once you put all of these pieces – and a few more – in
place, you must be open to and ready to receive.  Be ready and able to help and give all of
yourself in these endeavors.  It is also
important to remember to be grateful. 
Thank those who give to you, serve them well and more will come.

As previously mentioned, it is not rocket science but these
are the stepping stones to a long and prosperous career.  Get it? 
Got it?  Good!

Now, go sell something!



Growing your business with foreign investors

This week we learned yet another way to help agents today grow their business with developing new relationships through foreign investors.  Our featured speaker was NVAR’s Chairman of the Board, Vinh Nguyen.  He provided us with valuable information on how and where to establish these relationships as well as why we are a viable place for foreign investors to invest their resources.  Here are a few highlights from our training:


Working with Foreign Investors


It provides you with an additional source of income by working with foreign investors – it is another spoke in your wheel of building relationships.


It helps to diversify your business and grow your database.


Work with immigrant population, it is a hedge against the main stream market.


Work with embassies, schools where a high number of foreign nationals attend and participate in local and national conventions.


Attend NAR conventions and attend global forums, learn their market and offer to speak at their conventions, build relationships through your knowledge and expertise of our market.


Many foreign developers are interested in our real estate market.  They are looking to purchase bulk REOs, commercial, as well as buy houses for children studying here or abroad as they say in their country.


Many of these entrepreneurs have upwards of $50,000,000.00 to spend here in the US.


Develop referral channels for yourself to obtain business from different parts of the world.


Reasons they want to invest in the United States of America

    Stability of our government

    Price appreciation

    The value of the dollar is low coupled w/depreciation


The benefit to you is they do not know who to use, build trust through developing contacts.


80 countries have agreements with NAR to accept referrals and pay referrals to US agents.


There are great resources available to you through NAR.  Go to, resource, international buyers to learn more.


48 % of international buyers pay cash for their properties.


New loan program through HSBC

    30 % down, 5.25 % no points

    Foreign investors, paper trail on 30%  down payment is the only qualification that requires verification.


Finding channels to bring in money quickly and legally is a challenge to learn to overcome.  Get to know the process through your banker.


Your goal is to sell Washington area.  Make them aware of the Nevada, California and Florida foreclosure issues and why we are different.  We have:

    Stability of market

    # 1 in the world now for foreign institutional investors

    Low risk vs. overseas risk

    Diversify their investments


Other places to obtain more information on how to work with foreign investors:  Association of Foreign Investors in Real Estate – –  has a lot of research information.


Also, it is important to learn immigration, visa, and green card processes to be able to speak with clients about these issues.


Were you aware that you can obtain a green card if you invest $1,000,000.00 in a business?  If you buy a business or establish a new one and maintain it or if you hire 10 Americans, you will have green card within 3 months and you can apply for permanent status in 2 years.


Another option is to invest $500,000.00 in a designated, depressed area and you can get green cards – regional EBS’s program.


A few final thoughts:  One thing to keep in mind is to not worry about communicating with your new contacts.  Most wealthy investors have translators or speak English.  Look into attending conventions and other associations, such as: and and lastly obtain a designation – CIPS – develop relations with those agents and work referrals with them.


You have heard it before and will hear it again, the more you learn the more you earn – go get educated and learn how to build your database through alternative means.  Get it?  Got it?  Good!


Now, go sell something!