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!

July 2020 Market Update

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As We Begin to Reopen…

As we transition into Phase III with some areas beginning to open up while others remain on restricted status, I encourage you to stay safe, make wise decisions when you go out in public, so you and your family continue to remain healthy.

The result of the pandemic has limited the number of houses coming on to the market here in Northern Virginia. Potential sellers are still concerned about people coming into their homes, which is understandable during this time. The crazy thing is – the pandemic and various Phases we have been in have not slowed down home sales! The inventory level of houses for sale is down 43% from this same week last year, yet sales are up 16.5%. It is critical that we find people looking to sell their home and are comfortable doing so because we are continuing to see multiple contracts on houses throughout Northern Virginia (in most price points). It is not uncommon to receive 15-25 contracts on a house in less than 48 hours when it is priced right, in the right condition and location. Most recently, I heard about a condominium in Falls Church that received 44 contracts – one of our fellow agents lost out on that one just last week.

The onslaught of offers has prices escalating, and as a result, we are experiencing some appraisal issues. I make sure to set the proper expectations for both sellers and buyers if I feel the house will not appraise.  In addition to this, I meet the appraiser at the property to keep them informed on the situation – the number of contracts, prices, the quantity of showings, etc. to try to avoid low appraisals. However, they still are happening in some cases, as some prices just cannot be supported by the appraisers. We have had several people waive the appraisal contingency to secure a home, which has been great for my sellers. We have also had many appraisal waivers from lenders when the borrower has excellent credit, is putting down 20% or more, and the neighborhood can support the pricing. To learn more about this, please call me.

Buyers – get in the game!  We can help, and rates are still amazing. Today’s rates are below 3% on 30-year fixed loans. Additionally, if you aren’t planning to move and you haven’t refinanced, now is a great time. Call me to learn more about this and our strategies to win in multiple contract situations or for a connection to one of my preferred lending partners. I am always here to help!

I hope you had a great 4th of July!!

Start your home search HERE

 

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!

 

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.

February Market Update

Will the Spring Market Arrive Sooner than Later?

What an interesting January we have experienced both weather-wise and in the real estate business. We have golfed and we have shoveled snow/ice this month.  We have had multiple contracts on some houses, and we have had houses sitting on the market (with no showings) for days and even weeks. We have had mild temperatures and we have had epically cold days. We have had 30 plus people at open houses on weekends and we have had no visitors at others.  We have windy days and days that had no breezes. We have seen mortgage interest rates go up and now they are at yearly lows. And, like the temperatures this week, we have seen inventory levels drop to 14-year lows. As I said, it was a very interesting January.

The biggest question we have in the real estate industry is… When will more houses come on the market for sale? Historically we have seen houses start go up for sale the second week of February. So, will this year be the same or will we continue along the same path we are on now…inventory levels going down? The answer is, time will tell.  In conversations with agents across our five offices, we are hearing about some houses will be “coming soon” but not a significant number of them. If you are considering selling, this could be your perfect time to do so.

What is odd to me, and others, is prices are not escalating like you might expect. The tried and true economic theory of supply and demand in regard to pricing does not apply in this market. We have a lack of supply and LOTS of demand, but prices are staying relatively flat and, in some situations, we are even seeing price reductions fairly regularly. Additionally, in several multiple contract situations, we have not seen escalation clauses or even full price offers. Going back to my original sentence, it was an interesting January.

All this being said, we can provide you with the right advice on how you should approach this “interesting” market. Whether you are selling or buying a home, each market and personal situation is different.  So, give me a call to learn more.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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January Market Update

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone!  “Wow” … that’s what I have to say about our current invent18_300720_q4 social_shares_new_yearory level of homes for sale. As many of you know, I have been tracking active inventory of resale homes since the first week of March 2005. At first it was monthly, now it is weekly as the market can be very dynamic. The reason I initially started this tracking routine back in March 2005 is because I had heard there were 148 contracts on a house in Arlington. We all thought there was little inventory available, so I ran numbers for Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William and Fauquier Counties, in addition to all the cities within those counties. My analysis concluded that there were only 1,652 houses for sale. With the high demand and unrestricted lending guidelines back in 2005, it is no wonder that we would see so many contracts on ONE individual property. What is even more interesting is by July 2005 there were 7,705 houses listed for sale – truly a rapid ascent, but what is really crazy is that number soared to 22,898 in November 2006. As we all recall, the market crashed in 2007.

So, why do I say “wow”?  Today our inventory level is at the second lowest number since I have been tracking them (March 2005) – only 2,713 homes are currently for sale. I don’t believe we are going to see the rapid ascent as we did in the past, as there is not the exuberance in the market place like there was in the early 2000’s. That being said, we need houses to sell! Buyers are out looking. We had multiple showings on both Christmas Day and New Year’s Day – there is a strong demand for housing. Interest rates are creeping lower, so buyers are looking to take advantage of this opportunity. If you are considering selling, now is a great time. Typically, we see inventory rise the second or third week of February. Let’s see how the market trends this year. Obviously, every situation is personal and different so if you are considering a move, call me to discuss how we can help you.

Wishing you and your family a very prosperous 2019!