My 2019 Real Estate Predictions

It’s time for Scott MacDonald’s Annual Top 10 Real Estate Predictions for 2019.

What do you think? Do you agree with these predictions? Do you have any predictions of your own for 2019?

Need more real estate information? Give me a call at 703-652-5777 or email me at

The bubble burst…Now what?

What has been the catalyst in spurring the housing bubble and subsequent burst that has left us in the mess we are in today?  Was it the run up of prices?  Was it greed?  Was it poor advice given to buyers by Realtors and lenders?  Was it lax underwriting guidelines?   Was I the government’s proclamation that everyone should be able to achieve the American Dream of home ownership?  The answer is yes to all of the above.

The housing prices escalated at ridiculous rates – far above historical percentages that had been established over decades.  Builders couldn’t build fast enough to satisfy the demand which drove up their prices.  Buyers were having a difficult time being able to purchase a home and therefore bid up the price of the home above what they were willing to pay for a house originally.  It was a stressful and fascinating time to be a Realtor.  Buyers were mad that they had to bid so high to get into a home and sellers were mad at Realtors because their neighbor’s house sold for more money than theirs did – no one was happy.  Yes, over escalating prices were one of the causes that affect us today.

The greed factor came into play with “flipping”.  Many people bought homes from builders.  In most cases, as they went through the lengthy construction phase and because of demand, prices escalated.  You could buy a house, not do anything to it other than wait until it was ready, then raise the price and sell the home for a profit – many times for tens of thousands of dollars more than their original purchase price.  It seemed as if everyone had a story of someone who did this so they tried to do the same thing.  As the saying goes, too many chefs spoil the pot – well same thing happened in the new homes arena.  As prices declined, buyers bailed and builders got left holding too much inventory.  Also, greed came into the picture with people using their homes as a piggy bank and not a savings account.  How many people do you know that refinanced not just once but many times and bought properties, fancy cars, and vacations they normally would not have been able to afford?  Greed is not good Gordon Gekko and it has affected us today.

How many inexperienced, uneducated people got into the real estate and lending business when the times were good?  Hundreds of thousands got into our businesses.  Whose interests were they looking out for in the transaction?  One guess, not the buyers – theirs.  They got into the business for what was believed to be easy money.  They gave advice that wasn’t the right advice about the market and where prices were headed.  They got people into loans that were not right for the people they gave them to and as a result, they defaulted.  Poor advice definitely contributed to people’s over exuberance in their decisions on purchasing and financing properties and it is taking its’ toll on the market today.

Was it the policies that were put into place that lead to lax underwriting guidelines a cause that lead to where we are today?  You better believe it!  These loose guidelines resulted in allowing people who should not have become home owners to become home owners.  In my opinion, this probably had the biggest impact on how everything listed above was able to occur.  What were the guidelines that were slack you ask?  Here are just a few:  debt to income ratios up to 45%, no income no asset loans, loans up to 125% of value if combined with other liens, minimum FICO scores of 620 for prime loans, 10% down payments for financing investors, interest only loans and of course the teaser rate loan products.  Without these underwriting guidelines being loosened, we wouldn’t have had the ability to do all that was stated above.

Was the government’s belief that everyone should be afforded the American Dream of Home Ownership a contributing factor?  Of course it was.  Not everyone should be a home owner.  Credit scores need to be higher to be considered prime.  People should have some skin in the game and not be allowed to finance above the sales price to get into a home.  People need to verify their employment, prove they have cash reserves, and provide tax returns, etc. in order to obtain financing – it is common sense.  The problem today is the virtually the same legislators who made these loans possible have swung the pendulum too far the other direction and are hampering our recovery efforts in the housing sector of the economy.  FHA costs have risen, talk of raising down payments to 20% are going to hurt the market, stricter ratio requirements are in place and the overall costs associated with a loan are up 8.8% over last year as reported by  These trends have to stop if we want to see true recovery in the housing market and the overall economy.

Real estate has always been the key to getting the economy out of its slump and the longer housing languishes, the longer we will be in a recession.  What we do know is that more strict underwriting guidelines are not the answer.  Responsible lending and more educated agents and lenders providing the consumer the right information are going to be part of the solution  but getting the underwriting guidelines back in line with reality is the catalyst to recovery.   Get it?  Got it?  Good!

Now, go sell something!

Don’t kick yourself later…stay on top of the trends!

Platinum Group April 2011

The Platinum Group is made up of Realtors from various companies that meet once per month who earn in excess of $250,000 – the true top producers in the business.  We discuss market conditions, trends, short sales, foreclosures and many other topics.  The advice given should be taken to heart if you are in the market to buy or sell as this is relevant information in regards to our market.  If you are an agent, feel free to share what we discuss with your clients.

Spring has sprung…inventory levels are up just as we had expected them to be this time of year but what has surprised me is that the level has jumped 13% in just 2 weeks.  Luckily, there are buyers out there looking to own because decent listings are coming on and off the market.  Houses are selling but the properties need be in the right condition and priced right.  Above average condition is selling – low prices are selling – if you have both they are sold, if you only have one or the other you are sitting on the market.  It is imperative now more than ever to understand this scenario.  If you don’t, the house will stay on the market.

Although inventory levels are rising, the good news about our market is that foreclosure and short sale activity have been stable and are making up a lower percentage of the inventory available.  I am not completely sure if we have seen the bottom on this or not – my experience and what will be written about later also indicate we are not completely out of the woods in regards to distressed properties.

In the price range $475,000-650,000, there has been little to no activity in Centreville/Chantilly…first time buyers are buying and the wealthy understand the value of the market – interest rates, property values, etc. so they are buying in upper price points.  The reason for this being a difficult price point is because of lack of move up buyers in the market today.  Many move up buyers over the last 3-4 years have either short sold or got foreclosed on so there is now a void in the market – it may take a few more years for this segment of the market to recover – stay tuned!

Sellers are more willing to do work today – they are watching home improvement shows, are  going on line and look at other properties and how they are presented and making the house show to attract buyers.  Putting the home in model condition is the key.  Decluttering, neutralizing colors, sprucing up the yard, packing up belongings and getting a storage unit are the keys to getting the house in the right condition to sell.  I find it interesting that we spoke about this on more than one occasion this month.

Be careful how you load you photos – some internet sites only pull the first 5 posted on MLS.

Foreclosure releases are slow and have been since November.  Many people are still in the house because they know they can stay in the house and not pay any mortgage or rent and cash for keys is nowhere near the savings of not paying at all.  In reviewing the paper and in particular, the public notice section, more foreclosures are likely to come on the as filing notices are increasing in the paper.  Fannie Mae is sitting on 162,000 properties valued at $15 Billion.  All total with banks, and Freddie included, there is over $1 Trillion inventory.  Obviously, these numbers are national numbers – we are looking into local numbers so stay tuned.

To understand the consequences of short sales and foreclosures, go to she has all the potential scenarios.  Your credit score may be the least of your worries.

Interest rates are projected to be in the range they are today through the summer which should help us absorb the increase in inventory levels this time of year.

This is valuable, timely and informative which needs to be acted upon and/or shared.  Get it?  Got it?  Good!

Now, go sell something!

Top 10 Reasons to Sell!

Well, it’s that time of year and we receive the same question from a lot of people about whether or not to sell now.  The answer is yes and here the top 10 reasons why:

  1. Inventory levels go down every year around the holidays because not everyone “needs” to sell so there is less competition.
  2. People will usually decorate their homes for the holidays putting them in a nicely staged condition and it can help attract buyers.
  3. We don’t know who the competition will be after the holidays.
  4. We don’t know how many properties will be for sale in the spring.
  5. We know where the competition is priced today and we don’t know where they will be priced at later or if the prices will be deeply discounted.
  6. The buyers looking this time of the year are typically not tire kickers – they are real buyers.
  7. We see houses that are priced right, are in the right condition and are staged properly are attracting multiple offers recently.
  8. Interest rates are fantastic – near record lows make now an attractive time to buy.
  9. We are seeing many buyers in the market today and we don’t know if they will be around after the New Year.
  10. If you are looking to buy – only serious sellers are on the market, who need to sell, so strike while the iron is hot!

If you are considering selling your house, please give us a call.  We would be happy to discuss with you how we can help and what you can expect when selling.  Get it?  Got it?  Good!