October 2020 Market Update

Real estate continues to be the shining light in the current economic recovery. Buyer demand, housing prices, and new and existing home sales continue to be strong – not only in Northern Virginia but also across the country. Our issue continues to be low inventory levels for the demand that we are presently experiencing. As of today, we have 30% less inventory of homes for sale versus this same time last year. The median days a house stayed on the market in August was just six days, so as you can see, demand is there.

Additionally, prices are up year to date 7.95% over last year’s pricing. The pandemic pushed the housing market back about three months, so what would typically be a slower time of the year is one of our strongest. If you are considering selling, now is an ideal time as we couple all this data with the fact that we have the lowest interest rates in the history of tracking. Contact me to discuss your situation in more detail if you are considering selling.

So, where is the market headed into the future? There is talk of another foreclosure crisis that could lead us into a Great Recession… will this happen? There is a housing bubble, and prices are going to crash… will this happen? My answer is no to both. First, we have low inventory levels and high demand. In October 2006, we had just under 23,000 houses for sale; today, we have 3,014. If properties are foreclosed on by banks and released to the market, they would sell quickly and not put us into a housing crisis. Again, back then, we had a 10-month supply of houses, today we have a .8-month supply of houses – a considerable difference. Back then, people “walked away” from their homes because of price drops and lending practices; this is not going to happen now. Today’s loan products, loan qualifications, and lending guidelines are nowhere like what they were prior to the Great Recession.

Back then, we had exotic loan programs, 100% financing programs, teaser rate loan products, and just bad underwriting guidelines. Homeowners today are more financially stable, which will result in fewer foreclosures. If there is an area that may be in jeopardy, it would be in the Mom and Pop landlord arena.  Basically, people who have one or two investment properties may not be able to “carry” the houses if their tenants are unemployed. This is a small segment, so I don’t see it significantly impacting our market.

Additionally, prices are rising, but not at the rate they were in 2004 – 22% year over year increases, 2005 – 24% price increase year over year and in 2006 it was 23%. As I mentioned, we are at a reasonable pace of 7.95% today; therefore, I do not foresee a crash in prices like we saw in the past. We will see a decline in housing price increases, but not a decline in prices… big difference. Our market is stable and will continue to be so for some time, in my opinion. If you would like to discuss this further, please feel free to call me. 

Enjoy the weather! Have a safe and Happy Halloween!

September 2020 Market Update

Here Comes Fall (and all things pumpkin spice)

The Global Pandemic has not slowed down the real estate market here in Northern Virginia. Low inventory levels continue to be the main issue as there are many buyers in the market and not enough homes to purchase. Couple this with historically low-interest rates, and we have a solid seller’s market, which also means we have an extremely challenging buyer’s market. Today, the median days on the market are just six days, and the average days on market are only 19. Now, of course, there are some properties in specific locations and price points that are staying on the market longer, but generally speaking, most houses are selling quickly. Buyers need to make decisions swiftly and make solid offers if they want to be in the running as the next owner of their home of choice.

In today’s market, we do have some additional challenges, not just the shortage of homes for sale. A remarkably close second challenge we are experiencing involves the lending process if the buyer does not select the right lender. For example, we are encountering long lead times for appraisals, lack of urgency to close loans on time (they treat the purchase transactions like a refinance and the loan is in the order it was received,) numerous appraisals coming in low as buyers are escalating prices above market price and response time frames from the loan officer as they are overwhelmed with refinances. As a side note, it is extremely important to select the right lender when you are accepting a contract on your listing or when you are buying your home. The highest offer is not always the best offer.

Additionally, we have a lot of stress in the market. Buyers are losing out on multiple homes, which causes frustration. Sellers not receiving offers as high as they believe they should make them anxious. Agents can be rude, arrogant, unresponsive, and unprofessional, which causes everyone to stress out.  It is so important today to hire the right agent to guide you through the home selling or home buying process, an agent that knows how to navigate with you for a smooth and seamless process. So, if you are looking to sell or buy a house today, call me – I have helped many others successfully buy and sell properties in today’s unbalanced market.

I hope you have a great Labor Day!

May 2020 Market Update

may blog image

Hopefully, you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy during these unprecedented times. As previously mentioned, real estate is considered an essential business and as such, we have adapted to new ways of conducting business. Yes, homes are being purchased, sold, and leased – people need shelter. We are lucky as we can help those in need of our services. Due to the different lockdown restrictions, many of my friends across the country and around the world cannot help people with their housing needs. It is strange to me how in some areas, lenders, title companies, home inspectors, appraisers, and other professionals are considered essential, but REALTORS are not.  Not to being political here but how can REALTORS not be deemed essential and the others can be? How can they conduct their business without a REALTOR selling the house prior to needing their services?  Odd to me.

Locally, we are practicing all real estate services albeit on a more limited basis and in a different way.  We are doing virtual showings for buyers who do not want to go out to see homes in person. We are conducting virtual open houses and scheduling appointment only showings during the virtual open houses. Settlements are outside or even drive up style – many with no REALTORS present.  We are also seeing e-closings with no one present in the same room. We are wearing masks, gloves, and booties during showings and bringing disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer – for everyone’s health and safety. If you are considering buying, selling, or leasing a house, it is still possible and I am willing and able to help, so let’s discuss how this all works in more detail.

Now, let’s talk numbers. Inventory levels remain low – 34% below this same time last year. We currently have only 2,974 houses for sale in all of Northern Virginia. Contracts written the previous 30 days are down 31% versus the same week last year. Lastly, closings the previous 30 days are down 20% from the same time last year. Now, the good news is sales have gone up each of the last four weeks and when houses do come on the market, they sell quickly when priced right and they are in the right condition.  We continue to see multiple contracts in many homes throughout the area as well. We have had many buyers move to the sidelines during the pandemic and some sellers have decided to wait or have pulled their homes off the market until “the coast is clear”. One thing is for certain, we will have a lot of pent up demand for housing when we return to a new normal as we have more buyers on the sidelines than sellers. I envision an even more competitive housing market in the future.

Be safe, make wise decisions when going out in public so you and your family remain healthy.

January 2020 Market Update

2020-happy-new-year-celebration-banner-with-fireworks_1017-21548.jpg

Happy New Year!

As we enter the New Year and New Decade of the 2020’s we are experiencing the lowest levels of available homes for sale in years. We currently have just 1,946 homes for sale in all of Northern Virginia. We have a serious need for more houses to come on the market! As of the end of December, we were experiencing multiple contract situations on many houses throughout our area – as many as 23 offers on one house. The demand is there, the housing supply is not. Sales last year outpaced sales from 2018 by nearly 1.5% through November and should outpace sales through December as well. Interest rates remain very low making it more attractive to buy versus rent in many cases. Those who previously suffered credit damage from the housing crisis during the great recession in the mid-2000s are now recovered and property values are increasing making now a more desirable to time own. Therefore, we now have a lot of pent up demand for housing at all price points.

Additionally, there is also a shortage of rentals available on the market, so when they do become available, they rent quickly. There is currently just a half month’s supply of rental houses in Northern Virginia. These factors definitely make it an ideal time to sell or rent your home. Call me to learn more about how you can position yourself for success in this market when making this decision.

Overall the economy is strong in Northern Virginia. Unemployment is very low in our area and with Amazon ahead on their hiring, I don’t see a change in this for us. The only issues we are really facing are the trade talks with China and Trump says the phase one agreement will be signed mid-January and the Iranian situation. Will this escalate to yet another war? If either of these issues goes awry, we could have economic problems that could affect the market as we know, only time will tell.

The good news is we continue to have a robust real estate market and I am available to help you when you are looking to make a move.  Make the 20’s your best ever!

October 2019 Mid Month Market Update

Here’s your latest real estate market update for Northern Virginia. Inventory is low, it’s a seller’s market! And with interest rates still at an all-time low, not is a great time to buy!

What do you think? How is the market in your area?

Thinking of buying or selling? I’m happy to provide you with a free market analysis if your home. Give me a call to talk about your specific situation and needs. Call me at 703-652-5777 or email at scottmacdonald@remax.net

October 2019 Market Update

It is hard to believe we are entering the 4th Quarter of 2019 already.

It will be interesting to see what the vision of the real estate market will be in 2020. Right now, the real estate market is very dynamic and very hyperlocal. We see inventory levels remaining low relative to previous years. We currently have a total of 4,122 houses for sale in Northern Virginia – 33% fewer homes for sale through September this year versus last year. Homes priced below $350,000 represent only 719 houses with only 45 of these are located in Arlington. The Amazon Effect in full force in Arlington. Homes priced between $350,000 and $700,000 make up 1,822 homes of the total inventory numbers, only 46 of these are located in Arlington. Lastly, houses priced above $700,000 make up 1,582 of the houses for sale in the marketplace and there are only 118 in this price range located in Arlington.

As you can see, the market is different in each location, I just picked Arlington as an example.  That does not tell the whole story – prices are up year over year in all of Northern Virginia by 3.6% while in Arlington, they are up 12.4%. Additionally, the median days on market in all of Northern Virginia is 15 days on the market and in Arlington…you guessed it, lower at only 8 days on the market. The market is definitely hot for sellers “if” you price it right and do the right upgrades. Buyers will pay for ready to go houses and will pass on the ones that need work or updating.

This being said, housing prices are up year over year throughout our area – just not substantially. The 3.8% is healthy and sustainable. The issue we are having is sellers are trying to attain 5% per month and therefore the houses are not selling. In today’s market, buyers are being very discerning on prices and are not making offers including low offers. Sellers who overprice their houses or price in “negotiating room” find themselves sitting.

If you are looking to buy or sell in today’s dynamic market, call me today to set up a no-obligation consultation to learn more.

Enjoy the cooler temperatures heading our way! Happy Halloween!

August Market Update

The word on the street is prices are going to collapse…the market is overheated…a recession is coming…we are in a housing bubble. It’s mayhem if you believe everything you read and listen to what the non-experts have to say about the real estate market and the current market we are experiencing.  Quick question. Did you know that 50% of REALTORS have a second job?  Working with a true full-time professional who is up to date on the local Northern Virginia real estate market is more important today than ever before.  You need to have the guidance, advice, and experience to be guided seamlessly through the real estate transaction, so you are protected.  Don’t rely or believe everything you read on the internet.  Call me instead because here are the facts.

Prices – barring an unforeseen event, they are stable in Northern Virginia and will remain this way. Why?  Because our prices have risen only slightly each year after the Great Recession (bar a few examples/areas). We don’t have lending practices in place any longer that allow buyers to buy without strong fundamentals in place and allowing unqualified purchasers to outbid on properties at extreme prices.

The market is overheated – this is not true in all areas of Northern Virginia. Yes, there are areas of Arlington and in certain price points where inventory is extremely low that there are multiple offers but overall, we have seen this trend slow in recent months. Remember, what you read today typically happened 2-4 months ago as stats on the market don’t immediately get released and are reflective of current trends. Every market is different, and this is why you need specific advice on your property if you are selling or if you are considering purchasing a home.

A recession is coming – yes, it is true as we have been in the longest recovery in our history.  All markets are cyclical so a recession will come. What does this mean for housing? It is typically a good thing…interest rates are lowered to stimulate the economy and barring the Great Recession, since 1995 when we have had economic slowdowns, prices have appreciated 81% of the time which is the same as when we have had economic expansion. Don’t fear the word recession and real estate values.

We are in a housing bubble – not true for our area. Prices have not skyrocketed like they have in other areas of the country, as previously mentioned, our prices have only moderately increased year over year. Our inventory of resale homes is 22% below last year’s level and 33% below inventory levels two years ago. Our unemployment rate is one of the lowest in the country. Our salaries are stable to slightly rising meaning people have good-paying jobs.

Lastly, the interest environment we are in is making housing more affordable – rates are low and are going lower. 30-year fixed rates are in the mid to high 3’s (percent) today. There are many refinances that are taking place and there will be more to come so these people will be staying in their houses for a while and will be potential, future landlords which will keep the housing inventory tight moving forward.  This too will keep our market out of a crisis in my opinion.

Again, barring an unforeseen event, we will be in a strong real estate environment for some time here in Northern Virginia.  We actually need more houses to sell as there is pent up demand. If you are considering a move of any kind, please call me today to learn more. I can be reached at scottmacdonald@remax.net or 703-652-5777.

July Market Update

Mid Year Update

holidays-the-best-the-4th-fourth-of-july-independence-day-2012-facebook-timeline-banner-photo-picture-for-fb-6

It is hard to believe we are already halfway through 2019. The two questions that I have are; where does the time go and where is the housing inventory? The number of houses in Northern Virginia remains extremely low – 20% below last year and nearly 33% from two years ago. The inventory with the lowest levels is in the first-time home buyer price range which is basically houses and condos priced below $350,000. At the time of this newsletter, there are only 717 properties for sale in all of Northern Virginia at this price point. These homes are flying off the market with an absorption rate resulting in a .75 month’s supply of housing. As such, we are seeing multiple offers as there just not enough supply for the number of buyers in this market. To climb the pricing ladder, we will see the month’s supply and inventory rise. As a comparison, houses priced between $350,000 and $500,000 have a .83 month’s supply with only 872 houses for sale. The $500,000 and $750,000 priced houses have a 1.2 month’s supply with 1,252 currently on the market. Both of these numbers are low, historically speaking, so don’t be alarmed if you are thinking of selling your house. Where we see the market slowing is in the $750,000 and above price point. In this price point, we have over a 3 month’s supply of inventory with 1,683 houses for sale. This is obviously a larger price range but shows the higher you go, the longer it takes to sell. I have mentioned many times if a house isn’t compelling – it isn’t selling and the best way to make it compelling is price. If you are considering selling in any of these price points, please call me to learn how to best position your house to sell for the most money in the least amount of time.

So, what does it mean for buyers? There are opportunities in the market to own but you need to be strategic in doing so in every price point. It is important to utilize the services of a professional to negotiate for you to get you into the home you desire. If you are considering becoming a homeowner for the first time or if you are moving up or down, give me a call to learn how this can be done for you.

Have a very Happy 4th of July and please be safe!

May Market Update

I’m Still Amazed…

The real estate market never ceases to amaze me. We have weeks, months and years where sales go up and down, prices go up and down, inventory goes up and down, but now, we are dealing with people’s emotions going way up and way down – including real estate agents. The lack of inventory in some areas have resulted in buyers losing out multiple times on their home of choice. They become frustrated and make irrational decisions on prices, terms or location. These decisions will have an impact on their financial lives as well as their quality of life (including potentially longer commutes). When clients lose out on offers multiple times, agents get frustrated too, either because the clients don’t listen on how to position themselves or with other agents believing they were treated unfairly during the negotiations. This is why it is imperative to work with an experienced agent to help you navigate through this emotional time in real estate. An agent that has been there before, understands what is going on and can provide the right advice so you (or someone you know looking to buy) get the proper guidance and the house you want – without getting tied up in the emotion adding stress to the situation. Well, guess what? I have been through these types of turbulent, emotional times and I can lead you or someone you know through these situations, just call me.  I will help everyone stay calm and focused on the eventual task which is getting the house sold.

Keeping with the amazement theme, we still have very low inventory levels – 20% below last year’s levels. This is creating the type of market I just mentioned. Unfortunately, sellers are not immune to the emotions of selling. Unrealistic expectations of timing, pricing and response times from buyers/buyer agents make for stressful times during selling. It is important to have the right expectations when selling a house, mostly to keep the seller on an even keel. Once again, I am here to help provide the right advice, guidance and emotional balance to get you through the home selling process, just give me a call. I am happy to help!

Have a great Memorial Day!

hello spring