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


A Quick Minute of Motivation

In this motivational series, I’ll highlight how to become a Peak Performer. In today’s Peak Performer Series message I’d like to talk to you about doing videos. Are you doing them? If you aren’t you are truly missing out on huge opportunities. Learn more in my latest message and visit my YouTube channel to see more great samples of videos and relationship building:

Need more motivation? Give me a call at 703-652-5777 or email at

Now go sell something! 

A Quick Minute of Motivation

In this motivational series, I’ll highlight how to become a Peak Performer. In today’s Peak Performer Series message I’d like to talk to you about developing your scorecard. Do you have one? Are you tracking your results? What activities are working? Which ones are not? Learn more in my latest message.

Need more motivation? Give me a call at 703-652-5777 or email at

Now go sell something! 


A Quick Minute of Motivation

In this motivational series, I’ll highlight how to become a Peak Performer. In today’s Peak Performer Series message I’d like to talk to you about the importance of remembering your W.I.G. No, it’s not what goes on your head. Learn more in my latest message.

Need more motivation? Give me a call at 703-652-5777 or email at

Now go sell something! 

4 Most Important questions we ask this time of year: Are the kids back in school yet? How was your Summer? How is the Real Estate Market? How are Interest Rates?

Wow, the summer real flew by this year.  Swim meets, baseball games, family vacations and house sales all made time fly. As school begins and Labor Day is upon us, we generally see a little slow down in our market but a few weeks into September and through the first few weeks of November we see the market generally pick back up and this year should be no different.

In my daily routine I often run into friends, past clients, other real estate professionals and of course my agents.  The question most asked is “how’s the market”.  The answer is always, “it depends”.  Are you a buyer, seller or are you looking to rent or are you a landlord PLUS, where are you speaking about the market specifically?  The reason is, it is different under each scenario and in different locations.  Real estate is and will always remain, hyperlocal.  Generally speaking, the Northern Virginia market is better than it was last year.  We have more sales, prices are stable, but there are also more homes for sale.  There are pockets where inventory is low and others where inventory is increasing making it even more important today to speak with a professional about your situation in more detail.

The second most asked question is “how are interest rates and are they going up anytime soon?”  Mortgage interest rates remain great hovering right around 4% for 30 year fixed loans.  A few months ago the Fed spoke about raising rates around this time but with the recent financial market setback and the fact that the job market for higher paying jobs is still flat, it appears a rate hike is not likely.  Additionally, with an election year just ahead of us, no one will be eager to raise them while trying to get re-elected or be in favor of an increase if they are trying to get elected.  Therefore, it does not appear we will see an increase in rates anytime soon keeping our interest rate environment stable.  To learn more, please feel free to call me.

So, kick back and enjoy the Labor Day holiday with friends and family as I climb Mount Kilimanjaro.  I will report back about our great adventure next month.  We are accepting donations until October 3rd so please feel free to help our cause by visiting and make a difference in the lives of others.

Thank you!

Scott MacDonald

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

Housing Inventory Increase

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

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

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

Scott MacDonald

RE/MAX Gateway

How Do Top Producers Create Their Success? REMAX Gateway Round Table May 2013

The Spring Real Estate Market has really taken off and as we enter the month of May, rounding out the 2nd Quarter of 2013, it’s a great time to look at the some of the best practices of a few of RE/MAX Gateway’s Top Producers and what they attribute to their success, year after year.

RE/MAX Gateway Top Producer Panel MAY 2013 Share Successful Business Techniques

RE/MAX Gateway Top Producer Panel MAY 2013 Share Successful Business Techniques

Our May 2013 Top Producer Panel consisted of Joe Doman, Bryan Felder, and Kathy Worek. These seasoned Agents offered some of their most trusted techniques and business strategies.

Joe Doman “Joe Knows”

Where is your business coming from?

Sphere, internet leads, referrals. 25 closed and pendings, just wrote 4.5 million in contracts and working them out.

4/4/4 – shoot for the numbers: reach out to sphere/internet leads/people in process, in this order

I just got off a call and overall the stats from across the country are:  38% sphere, 19% direct mail, 15% open houses and geo marketing, 9% expired(s) – especially older ones,  7% online and 12% other – like fsbo’s, sign calls and relocation(s). That does actually add up to 100.

What is different from last year to this year?

We have our WordPress site up and running, more focus, getting more things done. We are tracking of our numbers.

What has made the biggest difference in your business?

I think a combination of things like positive affirmations every morning; coaching is critical to my success – keeps me focused and on target, mindset & attitude my positive/upbeat, an assistant and time blocking.  I color code the calendar to see how I am spending my time.

What is the best piece of advice would you give the agents today?

WordPress is the wave of the future, conveying useful information via blogs and/or video and social media, and setting appropriate expectations for you clients. Google + is a good tie in with SM.  More than anything: believe in yourself.  Be unique.

What do you wish you started doing sooner rather than later?

Real Estate in general. Direct mail, I’m really particular about things that I do so it takes me forever to roll something out. I wish I had done it sooner who knows though, maybe now was the right time. (EDDM)

What do you wish you didn’t do if you had to do it all over again?

Most of the things I wish I didn’t do have nothing to do with Real Estate. Although, it’s all lead me down the path I’m on today and it’s pretty awesome.  A lot of things have made me the person I am now, they’ve built character, made me compassionate, appreciative and made me better in general.

Anything else to add that others should know?

“You can’t grow tomatoes if you plant corn.” When you plant seeds of doubt, worry, fear and failure , that’s exactly what you get. You need to plant seeds of positivity, wealth, abundance, happiness, success, greatness, love and gratitude. Don’t let your mind sabotage you; keep the course.  I have been in a position where I didn’t know where my next dollar was coming from and didn’t have one left either. You need to have faith in yourself, believe in yourself and you’ll surprise yourself.

Bryan Felder of The Virginia Realty Group

Where is your business coming from?

Everyone’s business is different – Bryan’s is business to business.  Set up 2 databases – one for business and one for clients. This system drives business to your business database from your client database.  This will get you referrals from the businesses.  Develop this piece of business.

What is different from last year to this year?

Networking with agents outside the area to get referrals for people moving to the area.  I attend seminars and set a goal for collecting cards and start to market to them with a quarterly newsletter.

What has made the biggest difference in your business?

Focus on 4 categories and go deeper with database – 37 touch points with them every year.

What is the best piece of advice would you give the agents today?

Leverage your team to gain balance – push leads, do team huddles and meetings consistently, and educate.

Do a “To Do” list every day, then set 3 goals to keep the focus and my time managed.  Keep records so you can bench mark your success.

What do you wish you started doing sooner rather than later?

You can make a lot of money. You cannot make a lot of money. You can spend a lot of money. So, you need to track your numbers.  Review your P&L and check bank accounts.  Do this now – don’t wait.

 Is there anything else to add that others should know today?

Don’t grow your team too big.  Only bring on the right people at the right time.  You’ve got to have fun!  Team activities, go out with agents – do stuff outside the office.  Pick a niche.   Ask your clients, “What one thing could I improve upon that would have made your transaction smoother? What about my staff?”  There is always room for improvement and if you don’t ask you won’t know.

Kathy Worek  of Kathy Worek Group

Where is your business coming from?

Business is growing through consistency in communicating with sphere – just listed cards, constant contact advertising, company newsletters and post cards.  Four times per month is the number of contacts with sphere per month.

What is different from last year to this year?

Focus on sphere – professional marketing – client reviews online.  Use WordPress with good content and quality information.  List contractors on website and post RBI stats on the site and encourage clients to go to my site.  Focus on neighborhoods and zip codes for Trulia and Zillow.  Team rhythm is good – not as consistently as Bryan but still good.  Take your professionalism to the next level by providing your client your checklists.  Use the power of the team to leverage exposure for your clients.

What is the biggest difference in your business?

Consistency in marketing, consistent in processes has added to my business.  Getting bigger internet presence and get reviews

Best piece of advice for agents to take in.

Appreciate your clients and let them know.  Communicate your understanding of their situation.

What would I have done sooner?

Don’t be afraid to spend money on assistants – it frees up your time and allows you to get in front of clients and new business opportunities.  Trust your staff.  If you want to get to the next level – you need to hire the assistant.  Speaking of assistants, Joe does videos to train his assistants. He tells them to watch the video and ask questions after they are finished.

Get a good database management system in place early and use it to the fullest.

Be firm in your listing agreements and commissions you charge.

Budget – and stick to it!  You are running a business.

Anything else to add?

Get in front of people – be positive and optimistic.  Network.  Be nice to other agents.

Please feel free to contact me or (703) 652-5777 if you would like to attend our next RE/MAX Gateway Top Producer Round Table or if you have any comments or suggestions.

Get it?  Got it?  Good!

Now, go sell something!

Platinum Group: Hot Topics in the Northern Virginia Real Estate Market

In a recent Platinum Group meeting we discussed many hot topics in the real estate market today.  They included the appraisal issues we are encountering that I discussed in my last blog, new home sales, the rental market and of course, low supply and high demand.

New home prices are rocketing up, incentives are going away, one builder sold 13 houses last weekend in Prince William County and took closing costs down to just $5,000 when they were offering more at the beginning of the weekend.  Nationally, new home sales dropped but not in Northern Virginia.

Platinum Group Hot Topics FEB 2013 scottymacsblog

Lack of resale inventory is leading buyers to new homes.  When buyers go to new homes, their prices increase.  Be careful as a lot of builders don’t have appraisal contingencies in their contracts.  Ask what happens if house doesn’t appraise.

The rental market continues to be on fire.  We have a 1.7 month supply of rentals available in Northern Virginia.  Prices have stabilized and move quickly when they are in good shape.  Additionally, in a recent article, it was estimated there will be another 6.6 million renters in the market.  It makes now a good time to work with investors, understand the rental process or even start a property management company.

One other topic we discussed was the lack of inventory of resale properties on the market.  It has been mentioned that we are at an 11 year low in terms of available properties.  When something is desirable, we have seen as many as 14 contracts on one home.  It is time to structure offers for our buyers so they can win in multiple contract situations.


To learn more about the market or our networking group, feel free to reach out to me.

Now, go sell something!

REMAX Gateway Agents Training for Anticipated New Home Sales

This year the real estate market trend will shift to incorporate more new home construction sales as we are seeing fewer resale properties on the market. Inventory levels of resale existing homes were down as much as 30% throughout 2012 in NOVA. So we brought in the new home sales expert Suzanne Neff to educate our agents on how to be more successful in selling new homes and how to add more value as an agent in the new home sales process.
We also heard from Leslie Strittmatter with New Homes Guide . They provide a list of all new homes in an easy to use directory. If you don’t see a builder you know, just let Leslie know as this is a free service to the builder.
Suzanne offered us some very practical and insightful information that I would like to share with you:home under construction

  • Be wary of registration policies – every builder is different, time of registration & period, must be present upon registration.
  • Remember: 1st agent in – is their agent
  • Preview the new home – just like a resale
  • Ask to see entire agreement in advance of writing contract and review with the client prior to writing the contract.
  • Prior to writing contract talk with sales person about the negotiating position of the builder. It is important to know all the facts.
  • Ask about communication process of sales person – how often, with whom, etc.

Did you know … There are differences in builder’s contracts – builders add paragraphs when something happens in the past, deposits (flat fee, %, at contract writing, at selection time), no appraisal contingencies allowed, sometimes deposit on contingent contracts it is not refundable, days to make color selection – loan application, loan approval, etc., notice to close 2 days to 2 weeks.
Did you know … Some builders have in house mortgage/title with credit back for closing/options/etc. (have client get GFE to compare to your lender to see if builder will match) – do a chart to show what the breakeven time-frame would be for them to “not” use the builder contract. Often times, it is more difficult for the outside lender to work with the title company and vice versa. Builder likes control.
Did you know … Keep client in property 2 weeks past closing because it is your responsibility to keep a roof over their head – not the builders. Permit process may delay closing, weather may delay closing. Never schedule back to back moves.
Did you know … Get a copy of the contract at contract writing or you may not get one for over 30 days.
Did you know … Many contracts say- products/offerings are subject to change without notice and builder has the ability to switch out products of similar quality – make your buyers aware of this clause so there are no surprises. Shortages may occur as factories are not ready for increase in sales. Prices – hello, the market is hot and manufacturers may raise their prices and builder may switch manufacturers.
Did you know … You need to ask how many inspections are there and which ones can we, as agents, attend and which ones can the buyer attend.
Did you know ... Most builders will want the home inspector there before or after scheduled walk through. Some will want you to use their approve inspectors.
Did you know… Most builders want to build a product they are proud of and will stand behind their product. Most every builder will have a form that “waives their right to warranties” because they, the builder, will offer a better warranty than what is required by Virginia and often times, the vendors they use give longer warranties than what the state requires.

Have you ever considered “why do people like being new home sales agent?” This is good to think about just so you know the basic type of personality you may be potentially working with throughout the sales process:

They like to sell; they also strongly desire and rely on support of administration staff; they typically like to know where they are going everyday; a salary and/or draw is often part of their compensation; they typically participate in health care benefits that the builder potentially offers; sales commission structures differ between builders but obviously, the more they sell, the more they earn; two days off with 40+ hours a week – days off vary during the week (so be sure to call and find out their schedule because not all assistants know the neighborhood, offerings, etc.); and new home sale persons must be ready to sell at any time because you/your client may be the only person they see all week – this is another reason why it is so important to call ahead, so you can get the data and let them sell their product when you bring your client in.

Suzanne strongly suggests taking the time to call before taking your client in to the sales office. This introductory conversation shows your level of professionalism to the new home sales person, and even more importantly, the information you provide to your client shows them that you are doing exactly what you promised: helping them find a home and representing them in their purchase of their new home.

Here are some great questions to ask the sales person:

  • What is the Registration policy?
  • How much will Agent be paid?
  • What is the commission percentage based on?
  • What are their hours?
  • When is the sales person available?
  • What is available?
  • What is price range?
  • What is average sales price?
  • What is building time frame/delivery time?
  • Are there any buyer incentives being offered by the builder?
  • Do you know of any price increases in the near future?
  • Convey something about your clients and background of their move.

Kevin Harris is an award-winning residential architect, international speaker, champion of culture-based design, an LSU and Harvard GSD graduate, father of 3, Eagle Scout, blue water sailor and Fellow of the AIA. For more information on Kevin or the firm go to

Remember this is an emotional time, so be sure to be there for your clients.

As market continues to move in the builder’s favor, negotiations on pricing and incentives for mortgages using mortgage and title partners will be less, credits for upgrades go away, and in some cases, deposits will become non-refundable. Be sure to be a professional Realtor and know more so you can earn the trust and respect of your clients and the new home sales professionals. Get it? Got it? Good!
Now, go sell something!

Success in the Real Estate Business

Scott MacDonald the Broker, Owner and President of REMAX Gateway speaks on the importance of successful business model and practices for real estate agents. With over 25 years experience in the real estate market world, Scott offers his insight to agents. REMAX Gateway serves the Northern Virginia, Maryland, and DC Metro areas with locations in Chantilly, Brambleton (Ashburn), Lorton, and Gainesville. A 5th office location in Arlington, Virginia is scheduled for Spring of 2013. Contact Scott MacDonald (703) 652-5777 or follow along at