April 2021 Market Update

The Northern Virginia real estate market continues to amaze me. Inventory levels remain extremely low, demand remains extraordinarily high, and this is still occurring even though rates have increased slightly over the last few weeks. I do not believe this will change or slow down any time in the near future. The level of demand is just too high.

We continue to see multiple contract situations as the new normal throughout much of Northern Virginia. It is common to see all contingencies being removed and prices set way above the original list price in these situations. In early March, I wrote a contract on a house in North Arlington that was listed for $935,000. It was a 4-bedroom, 3-bath home, and just 1,280 square feet. The offer was cash, close in two weeks with no contingencies, and my buyer offered $1,026,000. According to the listing agent, we were not even close! One of the 23 received offers went up to $1,081,000. Insane! This leaves 22 other active buyers still looking to own in that price point in Arlington – so again, I don’t see this market slowing any time soon. All the being said, the condo market is the only anomaly as most condos are sitting on the market.

So, what is going to happen is what I am often asked. My belief is that inventory will remain low for the foreseeable future as people have purchased or refinanced at exceptionally low rates. As rates increase, there will be little, if any, motivation to move. If someone has a $500,000 mortgage with an interest rate of 2.75%, what will motivate them to move to a home with a $750,000 mortgage at 4% or even higher? I think this is what will stagnate inventory levels over the next few years. People will only move if there is a genuine need to do so – like marriage, kids, schools, job, divorce, death, etc.

Speaking about interest rates, they have inched above 3% for the first time in several months, but please keep this in mind, they are still below where they were this same time last year and are still below historical lows mortgages. Earlier I mentioned rates at 4% or higher; I don’t believe we will be there for some time, so no need to worry about this happening. I foresee we will be in the low to mid 3’s for the remainder of the year.

As always, I am more than happy to speak with you about your situation in more detail as each situation is unique and personal.

Happy Spring!

March 2021 Market Update

It’s hard to believe that one year has passed since our world changed with the Pandemic. There have been so many changes in our daily routines, the way we interact with each other, how we conduct business, and so much more. The hardest part for many of us was that we lost loved ones or could not visit them due to restrictions. Let’s hope this all changes soon with the vaccine. 

As far as the real estate world goes, it has remained resilient and has even thrived. To some, it may be hard to believe, but true. Historically low-interest rates, crazy low inventory levels, and high demand resulted in a frenzied market over the last year. Housing gained over $3.1 Trillion in equity in 2020 as prices escalated in almost every market around the country. We are only a little over two months into 2021, and we continue to see a strong housing market. Inventory remains extremely low, rates have ticked up slightly but are still very attractive, and buyer demand remains very robust. The biggest concern remains the low inventory. We continue to see multiple offer situations in all price ranges throughout Northern Virginia. Many times, contracts are being submitted without the buyers even seeing the home! Crazy but true. Buyers are conducting pre-offer home inspections, waiving all contingencies, and are bidding 10-13% over the list price to get into a home. I believe we will be in this type of market for the next few years. Unfortunately for buyers, I don’t see a flood of houses coming on the market to cover the demand that is out there today.  Interest rates will remain low to help keep the market moving. We continue to have low unemployment relative to other parts of the country, so people are continuing to relocate to our area. Couple all of this with the Millennials entering the market as home buyers; it’s quite the tsunami.

If you are considering selling or buying a home, it is more critical today than ever to have a professional representing you. Expert negotiation skills and market knowledge are essential in this aggressive market. Please feel free to call me to review your situation in more detail or allow us to help someone you know. I am always happy to help.

I am looking forward to warmer weather and more hours of daylight, and I hope you are too.  Happy Spring!

February 2021 Market Update

Again, I have said it before, and I will repeat it, inventory levels on homes for sale in Northern Virginia are critically low! We currently have just 1,701 homes for sale in all of the counties we serve in Northern Virginia. The amazing fact is the number of condos that are currently for sale – 792 – which represents just under 50% of the total inventory. Condos typically do not reflect nearly 50% of the inventory levels … more on this later. 

Continuing with the numbers; there are only 646 single family homes currently on the market. Are you kidding me? There are only 235 townhouses total, again, WOW! Do you know what this means? The chances of multiple contract situations are possible on virtually every home on the market. We have had as many as 30 contracts submitted on one house in Gainesville priced at $635,000. It escalated above $700,000. We had another home in Aldie that had 78 showings and 62 visitors at the open house. This one was priced at $772,000 that had 21 offers and escalated to $831,700. It is insane – I cannot think of another word to describe it. 

A question I am frequently asked is when will it end? I think it will be a long time, as I believe it will be rate driven, and rates will remain low for the foreseeable future. Once rates rise to the 4 or 5% range, we will see a slowdown in contracts/purchasers, but not an inventory increase. Another question is, when will buyer burnout take them out of the market? My answer: it depends as this is and has always been an individual question. I have heard about prospective buyers writing as many as 15 contracts (on different homes) and still in the fight, while others are not even entering the market because of these “bidding” war situations. Typically, buyers will write until they win a bid on a property.  Usually, in a market like this, it has been between 3-5 times in my experience. 

One more question I hear is how do I buy if I must sell my house first? This one is more complicated, but I can give you details if you are interested. We have nine ways to make this work!

If you or someone you know would like to discuss their situation with me in more detail, whether it is purchasing or selling a home, please feel free to call me.

Have a Happy Valentine’s Day!!

January 2021 Market Update

Happy New Year!  Welcome to 2021!  I predict this will be yet another exciting year with lots of new challenges, adversity, change, and so much more. The good thing to note is out of these situations come positive outcomes for many if you keep the right mental attitude, stay adaptable, and take care of yourself and those around you. We do not know what lies ahead but keeping strong is as vital as ever.

I have been asked, “what is going to happen with real estate in 2021”?  It depends on whether you are a buyer, seller, renter, landlord, or investor. Inventory levels in Northern Virginia continue to decline. We ended the year with only 1,737 houses for sale in Arlington, Fairfax, Prince William, Loudoun, and Fauquier Counties and all the cities located within this area. As you can imagine, this number is extremely low, historically speaking. This makes purchasing a home extraordinarily difficult for buyers. I am currently working with a buyer where we have bid $30,000 over list, $40,000 over list, and $50,000 over list and on three separate houses, and we have lost out on each of them. They are in the $400,000 – $500,000 price point. The listing agents said they were overwhelmed with offers and calls – one had 17 offers in hand in less than 24 hours. So, you can see the buying environment is uber-competitive. On the flip side, this makes it a great time to sell a home if you are looking to move. Depending on the price point, location and condition, sellers can expect multiple showings as well as multiple contracts with purchasers paying more than the sales price and waiving many, if not all, the contingencies associated with a sale. Renting houses is also a challenge as there is a .4-month supply of homes available, and of those, 40% are single-family or townhouses. Again, this makes being a landlord easier to get results as there is a brisk rental market in Northern Virginia. Most investors like houses that cash flow, and with prices being bid up, many investors are choosing to wait on the sidelines to see if more inventory comes on the market prior to getting into bidding wars. Time will tell if we get more inventory or not, but I believe we will experience low inventory throughout 2021. Call me to discuss your situation in more detail so we can help you make the right decisions.

So, the market that is struggling the most right now in our area is condos. In Arlington County, 84% of the resale inventory is condominiums. The average days on the market for a condo in Arlington is 76 days and the average overall days on the market for all properties in NOVA is 16. Quite a difference, right? The rental market is remarkably similar in all of NOVA – condos are on the market for 126 days, and single-family and townhouses are on the market for 42 days. Be careful when considering an investment in condos right now.

As always, I am happy to speak with you about your situation as each one is different.  Happy New Year, and as always, be safe, make wise decisions when you go in public, so you

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!

August 2020 Market Update

As we enter the dog days of summer and the Month of Miracles…

And prepare for a new version of back-to-school, I hope you and your family are safe, remaining healthy, and are making wise decisions when going out in public.

This month’s update may seem like a broken record, but it is what it is these days. Inventory levels of resales homes in Northern Virginia remain extremely low – 41% below last year’s levels.  Currently, there are only 2,714 houses for sale throughout our area, which includes Arlington, Fairfax, Prince William, Loudoun, and Fauquier Counties, as well as all the cities in between. Even with low inventory levels, sales remain strong as they are up 18% week-over-week from last year and up 17% over the previous 30 days from last year. This result is a .7 month’s supply of houses – last year it was a 1.5-month supply. We are still receiving multiple offers on our listings, and the median days on market are a mere seven days making it an exceptionally strong seller’s market. I believe we are going to be in this market for some time as the discussions I am having with homeowners and agents is that they are not likely to sell or they don’t have a lot of houses coming on the market. This has resulted in the increased prices we are seeing. Year to date, prices are up 6.25% over the same time frame from last year. As I’ve said before, it is an excellent time to be a seller. If you are considering selling, call me to discuss your situation in
more detail.

Buyers do have challenges in today’s low inventory, multiple contract situation market we are in, but we are getting our clients into homes! Our team has exclusive strategy sessions where we share ideas on how we are negotiating to get our clients the home of their dreams. These sessions and strategies have been working, which is great for our clients. In addition to this, interest rates are now below 3%! The expectation is they are going to stay in this range for some time, so there is good news for those looking to become owners or potentially moving up to their “forever” homes. If you are considering looking into the option of purchasing a home, call me to set up a private consultation. I am here to help!

Please remember, even if now is not the right time for you to buy or sell, it may be the perfect time for you to refinance! I can put you in touch with one of our lender partners, so feel free to reach out.

Stay cool in this heatwave we are experiencing. Good luck to all of the students out there! Curious what the Month of Miracles is? Give me a call, I’d love to tell you all about it!

June 2020 Market Update

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First and foremost, I trust you are staying safe and making wise decisions when going out in public, so you remain healthy!

So, you may be wondering what was happening in the real estate business during the pandemic while we were on stay at home status. As I mentioned previously, we were deemed essential, so we could still “work” and help people make wise decisions when selling, buying, or leasing properties. And let me tell you, this pandemic did not stop our local real estate market, as houses are selling and selling fast in many cases. The median days on market in Northern Virginia in March were six; in April, it was five, and I am guessing that we will have the same result in May. The average days on market stand at just 28 days.  We still have an extremely low inventory level today, and we have a tremendous number of buyers out in the marketplace resulting in a feeding frenzy in many price points and in most locations throughout Northern Virginia. Today, the number of homes for sale is 40% below this same time last year and is down 51% from two years ago. We currently have less than one month’s supply of homes, which is historically low. The bottom line is – we need more houses to sell to keep up with the demand.

Mortgage interest rates are incredibly low – around 3.25% today. The great rates are one contributing factor to home sales as it is more affordable (on a monthly basis) to own versus renting in many cases. The rental market remains on fire as well as demand is strong for rentals. Additionally, prices are increasing across the region, and buyers want to begin their wealth-building strategy of homeownership. One interesting dynamic that we are seeing is more first-time buyers entering the market and fewer investors/cash transactions.

It is still a great time to both buy and sell if you take the proper precautions. Give me a call me to discuss your situation in more detail, especially now that we are entering Phase 1. The big question to be answered by the next newsletter is… Did more people decide to sell now that we are in Phase 1 or potentially Phase 2? Lastly, if you went into forbearance on your mortgage or other debts or if you are thinking about it, please call me so I can explain the process and ramifications.

Happy Summer!!

May 2020 Market Update

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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.

March 2020 Market Update

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It’s March Already!

It seems like just yesterday that we started the new decade. You know the saying; time goes by faster when you are busy and boy have we been busy!

The real estate market continues to be very brisk. For example, I have scheduled appointments on a Thursday afternoon to show properties for the coming weekend. Several of the homes went under contract so quick resulting in canceled appointments (and sad clients). These houses were in various areas and various price points throughout Northern Virginia, not isolated in one area. In conversations with sellers, I have been letting them know that even though there are bidding wars, multiple contract situations, etc. the price and condition of the house still rule. If prices are too high for the area/neighborhood or if the home needs some work, it will sit on the market with little to no activity and definitely without offers! When priced well and in “HGTV condition”, there is a feeding frenzy. Buyers in today’s market, realistic or not, are looking for the perfect house and they are willing to pay for it. So, as a seller, get your house in top condition and price it right to get it sold and not be just “for sale”.

Lately, the news and social media have been inundated with information on the Coronavirus. The stock market has dropped over 4,000 points and this question is now coming up in conversation more often; “should I be concerned as a buyer or seller?” At this time, there are concerns but as I previously mentioned, we are still in a great area with sales at a feverish pace. My concern would be more for buyers and sellers in the luxury market. As part of their wealth may be invested in the stock market and as a result, there could be a concern but as we know, the market continuously ebbs and flows and this one is no different. There will be a cure for this killer virus, the stock market will rebound, and houses will continue to be bought and sold. Have no fear! If you would like to discuss this in more detail, feel free to call me.

As always, I am here to help you and your family and friends with their real estate needs. Happy Spring!