June 2022 Market Update

Lately, we’ve been having conversations with each other, our clients, and others in the industry both locally and around the country to better understand what is happening today in the real world and the Northern Virginia real estate market. Lots of questions are being asked. Do we have a housing bubble in Northern Virginia? Are prices going to crash? When are prices coming down? Should I wait for prices to drop before I buy? Why is it taking longer to sell a house? How high will rates go? Should I sell (or buy) now or wait? 

In my opinion, prices will not be escalating at the rate they were previously. Those dramatic price increases were not sustainable. There may be pockets where prices decline, but we still have high demand at most price points.

Additionally, our price increases were not as drastic as in other parts of the country. According to the FHFA Top 100 Metropolitan Markets Ranking, we rank 99 out of 100! Other parts of the country will see higher price drops, but our area should remain stable. We will not have a “housing crash” in Northern Virginia. 

Don’t wait to buy real estate – buy real estate and wait. Buy because of your lifestyle, needs, and wants – and not strictly because of prices. Buy for the long term, not the short-term gains. Yes, the market has slowed down. Buyers are not “rushing” into buying decisions like they were previously, but remember – that type of market cannot be sustained. It is still a seller’s market. It’s a good thing when a house is on the market 7-10 days.  

If you are thinking of selling soon, give me a call. Rates are going up on 30-year fixed mortgages, but you do have alternatives – most notably, adjustable-rate mortgages and buydowns. The adjustable-rate mortgages are a great option and not what they were when the real estate market crashed in the past. Buydowns give you another option, with lower than 30-year fixed rates. Let’s discuss why these are often viable options for buyers. If you are looking to sell or buy – now is a great time, so call me to learn more.

Enjoy the last few days of Spring before the summer heat kicks in!

April 2022 Market Update

How about this weather? Cold temps, blustery winds, snow, sleet, and sometimes sunshine and warm temperatures all on the same day. It’s so crazy; I can’t figure out what to wear today! These conditions remind me of the real estate market in Northern Virginia this last month. One house had 100 visitors and multiple contracts in two days; another had 15 visitors and one contract in four days – in the same neighborhood one week apart. We also have a house that has been on the market for more than two weeks with just a handful of showings and no ratified contract. As I always advise, you must have the house in pristine condition, priced right, and in a great location to get the most activity as well as contracts. If you think you can sell anything in this market, you are far from reality.

The real question of the month is, “when should I put my house on the market?” Interest rates have impacted the market as they continue to rise. We’ve had the most volatile few weeks of increases, with rates topping out at over 5%. This has some buyers looking to buy sooner rather than later (many believe rates will continue to rise), and they want to get in today. Another aspect to consider when I’m asked this question is the number of houses for sale – especially in your neighborhood. Overall, in Northern Virginia, inventory levels are down 29% from this same time last year – but inventory is rising. I also consider pricing when answering this question. Prices are up over 9% from last year, but with rising interest rates, inflation, and more homes for sale, price increases will not be as substantial as earlier this year. My answer is simple – get your house on the market sooner rather than later. Call me today if you are considering selling and want to see how this impacts you.

So how does all this impact buyers? If you are financially stable to buy a home, don’t wait – just go for it. Remember to buy for the right reasons – lifestyle, distance to work, and schools to name a few, just don’t forget what your why is. Don’t expect mortgage rates or home prices to come down because neither is going to happen for the foreseeable future. Waiting will cost you more. As the saying goes, ‘don’t wait to buy real estate; buy real estate and wait.’ If you are thinking about buying, call me, and we can discuss your situation in more detail.

In the meantime, have a great spring. Hopefully, the weather will begin to normalize soon!

March 2022 Market Update

For me, the word of the month is ‘strategize’…and that’s because the real estate market is moving fast and furiously. If you don’t have a strategy, you will not be adequately positioned as a seller or a buyer. If you are a seller, do you fix up your house or just list it in its current condition? Do you price it low and hope for multiple offers? Do you price it at market and expect a few offers – or maybe just one? Or do you price it high and hope a frustrated buyer is willing to pay any price?

If you are a buyer – do you use an escalation clause? Do you waive all contingencies? Do you offer a free Post Settlement Occupancy Agreement? Do you want to add an appraisal gap statement? Do you take it “as is”? So many questions need to be addressed; each situation is different and should be analyzed individually. The good news is that I have the answers for you, whether you are looking to sell or buy in today’s market, who you work with matters!

As you know, not every house will sell just because of the market. You still need to have the right strategy to get it sold. On the flip side, a strong offer can position you to win over multiple other contracts with the right strategy, so call me to discuss your situation in more detail. I am always here to help.

I am getting many real estate-related questions lately – will the rising interest rates hurt the market? Will the market be impacted by the Feds increasing their rates overnight? Will the Ukraine situation slow down the real estate market? Will rising gas prices impact real estate? How does rising inflation affect the real estate market? So many good questions. Here are the answers – at least the ones I have today. Mortgage interest rates remain at historic lows, and as a matter of fact, they are below where they were before the pandemic started. Mortgage rates would have to get to the 6% range before they began to impact the market, and the government won’t let this happen. Presently, rates are at 3.75% for conforming loans – a reasonable rate, in my opinion. The Fed rate increases do not directly impact mortgage rates, so this will not be a considerable influence. Rising gas prices may hinder a few first-time buyers from entering the market (they are budget-conscious overall), but this will not slow down home buying demand. Inflation may hinder some people from buying, but in the end, it won’t affect our market. We are receiving multiple offers across all price points, so we will still have a robust real estate market even if half the buyers drop out. Lastly, if it gets worse, the situation in Ukraine may impact housing. At this time, it is helping to bring rates down, but it hasn’t slowed demand or slowed price appreciation. Only time will tell, but all is good on our real estate front right now.

There are many scenarios and questions out there but know that I am here to help answer them. Just give me a call to discuss everything with you!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

February 2022 Market Update

Didn’t that feel like the fastest January ever? I blinked, and it is already February. It seems like we were just celebrating New Year’s Day yesterday. It must be the pace of the real estate market that makes time fly. This January’s housing market has been the hottest on record. Last month 45% of homes found a new homeowner within two weeks and 35% received a contract within one week. As demand remains strong, the question is – will we have enough inventory to keep up with this demand? Time will tell. If you have thoughts of selling or know someone who wants to sell, now is the time to act. Currently, we only have half a month’s supply of housing available. This means that if no new homes came on the market, everything would be sold in two weeks!

The National Association of Realtors says that a 6-month supply of homes is a balanced market. Do you know when the last time we had a 6-month supply of houses was in Northern Virginia? I have been keeping weekly records since March of 2005, and the most supply we have had per month is 4.3 – and that was in January of 2009. At that time, we had 10,129 houses for sale in Northern Virginia. Today we have only 1,069 resales available. Because inventory is so low, we see multiple contracts on virtually every listed home and have showings back-to-back all day long. I had more than 50 showings on the last home I sold. That means 49 buyers are still looking for a home in Haymarket in the $725,000 price range. If half of the buyers get buyer’s fatigue, there are still 25 people looking for a home.

Things didn’t even happen like this last year when the market was so frenetic. This market will take time to settle down. Since 1981, the average age range of a first-time buyer has been between 28 and 32; there are 23.5 Millennials in this age group today.

Even though the competition is stiff, we can still help if you are considering buying. We have developed strategies to help you “win” in multiple contract situations – just give me a call to learn more!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

January 2022 Market Update

Happy New Year to you and yours! We are kicking off the new year with a serious demand for housing in the Northern Virginia real estate market. The weekend before Christmas, I wrote a contract for clients on a house in South Riding – it was the only house for sale in all South Riding at the time. In three days, there were over 150 showings and 34 contracts submitted. The house was only 2,500 square feet, had an unfinished basement, and was priced at $750,000 – crazy! The Monday after Christmas, I put a home on the market in Virginia Run. The sellers positioned the house in great condition to maximize their price. In the end, we decided to price it at $800,000. It was one of only two homes in all of Virginia Run for sale at that time. In two days, we had over 30 showings and multiple contracts resulting in a sale in which the buyers waived all contingencies, paid way over the list price, and offered settlement in just two weeks.

I believe we are entering yet another frenzied market as we head into 2022. On New Year’s Eve, I ran the numbers for our market once again, and we are now at another all-time low for inventory of resale homes in Northern Virginia. In the counties of Fairfax, Arlington, Alexandria, Loudoun, Prince William, and Fauquier, there are only 1,119 properties for sale. People say, “oh, it is just that time of year; inventory is always low now.” Looking back over the last five years, we have averaged 2,901 houses for sale this week – a huge difference, especially with all of the demand. I believe we will be in for quite a ride in real estate in 2022.

Here are my predictions for 2022 in real estate:

· Inventory will remain low –  if you have nothing to buy, you won’t sell, so inventory will stay low

· Homeowners will continue to renovate/remodel as a result of low inventory

· Demand will remain strong – 45 million Millennials between the ages of 26 and 35, which are prime home-buying years

· New home sales will be flat as construction costs, and labor constraints will hold sales down

· Prices will increase once again – it was 9.5% in 2021; I think we will be in the 6% range in 2022

· Interest rates will increase but only slightly – 3.11% at year-end 2021; I think they will go to 3.75%, which is still below pre-pandemic levels

· iBuyers will continue to increase their market share in all areas of the country

· Inflation will remain high…I think in the 6-7% range in 2022 – hopefully no higher

· Demand for rentals will remain strong, and prices for rentals will continue to rise

· Covid will continue to be an issue as well as a threat and continue to impact supply chain, which will impact the overall US economy. This, in turn, will influence people’s home buying and selling decisions.

So, there you have it – let’s check back in January of 2023 to see how I did on my predictions.

Happy New Year!

December 2021 Market Update

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year….

Wow, it is the holiday season already! This year has gone by so fast. I hope you had a great time with your family over Thanksgiving and continue to enjoy this month full of fun for the upcoming holidays and into the New Year.

As I run into family and friends at neighborhood events and gatherings, the conversation frequently turns to the real estate market. The most common question I am asked is, “how is the market today?” My latest response is a good one; from a historical perspective, it’s insane (in my opinion)! Inventory of homes for sale in our area has dropped to only 1,886 homes for sale for the first time during this time of year. Additionally, new sales contracts written the previous seven days were the second-highest ever; only 2020 had more contracts written.

Typically, approximately 415-460 contracts are written during Thanksgiving week; we had 653 this year! Demand continues to outpace the supply by a wide margin. So, this leads me to the next question I usually get asked, “should I sell my house during the holidays?” My answer remains; it depends. If you really need to sell, now is a great time as inventory levels are low and demand is high. Houses typically “look” festive this time of year which is an added staging bonus.

The important aspect to keep in mind is that pricing still needs to be on point for a house to sell, even in the environment we are currently experiencing. If you are looking to “cash-out” and take advantage of the market, now is not the best time to sell as buyers are still being very selective when choosing a home, and price is always high on the list along with condition. This is not the time of year to push prices. If you want people coming through during the holidays, it is 100% up to you. So, if you are considering a move now or in the future, please call me.  We can get you positioned for success.

Have a great holiday season with your family and friends!

July 2021 Market Update

It is hard to believe that half the year has come and gone. It certainly has been an interesting six months in the real estate business. We encountered a frenetic sales pace that saw prices escalate tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands above list price with no contingencies and multiple offer situations, with buyers doing all they could to “win” the negotiations. Then, almost overnight, we saw the market tap the brakes. It is still a great market – we just went from 110 miles per hour to 60. Today, houses are staying on the market longer – days, not hours like earlier this year, with fewer showings and only one or two contracts instead of multiple offers. In many cases, we have been able to negotiate prices and contingencies like finance, appraisal, and even home inspections.  

So, what is going to happen moving forward? Buyers who took a break after losing out on multiple homes may want to consider getting back into the market as there is less competition, rates are still great, and prices have leveled off. Sellers need to exercise patience, price their home properly and get the house in top condition to get it sold. Previously, anything that came on the market would sell in many cases regardless of the condition; this is not the market we are in today. Buyers are more discerning when looking at homes. The property’s condition, price, and location need to be top-notch, or they will sit on the market longer.

All this being said, every situation is different and needs to be analyzed on its own merits. Some properties are receiving multiple contracts, and prices are escalating; there are just fewer of them in our current market. If you are considering a move, please call me so we can come up with the right game plan for you.

I hope you are enjoying the summer!

June 2021 Market Update

Here is the update on the crazy Northern Virginia real estate market…round and round and round it goes, where it stops, no one knows. The interesting thing is the market has shifted, and it happened quickly. Was it mortgage interest rates rising so high it stopped people from buying? No. Was it a flood of foreclosures and short sales hitting the market? No. Was it a pricing bubble that popped and collapsed home prices? No. Was it regular sales coming on the market giving buyers more choices? No.

So, what has caused the shift in the market?  First, the frenzied market we experienced from mid-January through early May could not be sustained. We were experiencing 50-70 showings in only one or two days and contract numbers in the high teens to low twenties on houses we put on the market.  Additionally, we saw prices escalate tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands above list price, with buyers waiving everything to “get” a home. It was a stressful time for everyone involved – buyers, sellers, and Realtors alike.

Now, we are seeing 5-15 showings in an entire weekend, and we are receiving between one and five offers. Still excellent numbers historically, but it is, in a different way, causing stress on sellers. The expectations of sellers are what they “heard,” “saw,” or “read” about the market two months ago or more – not recent facts. Well, the market shifts on a dime with no real rhyme or reason. The one thing I feel has put a damper on the market is “buyer fatigue.” Buyers had gone out, written contracts, and lost out on many houses. They wrote what they perceived to be the perfect contract and were beat out by someone who had to have the home and irrationally made an offer the seller couldn’t refuse. The conversations I am having now with buyers and agents are – oh, they have three offers? Someone will pay too much; I don’t want to waste my time. Therefore, we are now seeing fewer offers; still, great offers – above list price and waiving contingencies, but the number of contracts and showings are just down. So, if you are a seller or considering selling, your house will sell; just realize the market is different today, not bad, simply different. On the other hand, if you are a buyer, don’t give up; fewer people competing for homes mean you have a better shot at getting one now than a few short months ago. We can help you determine your best course of action, whether buying or selling, so call us to learn more!

Have a great summer!

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!

A Quick Minute of Motivation

In this motivational series, I’ll highlight how to become a Peak Performer. In these dynamic times, situations are changing daily. Are you staying ahead of the changes? Are you educating yourself and staying on top of new information out there? Learn why I feel this is important in my latest Peak Performer Series message.

Need more motivation? Give me a call at 703-652-5777 or email at scottmacdonald@remax.net

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