NFL Super Bowl Challange and a “No Deflate-Gate” in the Northern Virginia Real Estate Market!

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Low interest rates, low resale housing market inventory and great loan options.  If you are considering buying or selling real estate – contact me for a free consultation 703-652-5777 or scottmacdonald@remax.net

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How To THRIVE IN 2-0-1-5

Happy New Year Gateway Agents,

Now that the holiday season has come and gone, it is time to get geared up for 2015 and make it your best year ever.  In order to achieve all you desire, you will have to make sacrifices, develop more willpower, practice more discipline, have more consistency and continue to grow personally and professionally.THRIVE IN 2015

The sacrifices you will have to make will come in various areas. 

One is time.  Time with family and friends will be limited.  As you will be busier than you have been before, are you ready to make this sacrifice and are they?

Another area is investing in yourself and your business.  Do you have the money and resources available to you and are you willing to allocate them appropriately this year to realize the success you are planning for in 2015.  Lastly, committing yourself to working more efficiently, effectively and focused is a huge sacrifice – are you ready to make the sacrifice for your success?

Developing willpower – the ability to say no to unproductive, time-wasting activities is huge.  You will have to say no to coffees, lunches, happy hours, and ball games with family and friends to keep you focused and on point.  Do you have what it takes to develop this necessary ingredient to high levels of achievement?  Get willpower do to the hard things and get successful.

Practicing and working on discipline is critical to getting the results you want for yourself.  Getting up earlier, staying at the office a little later, developing a morning routine that gets you on track the rest of the day, sticking with a structured schedule – daily – and pushing yourself outside your comfort zone are the pieces of the puzzle that will get you further, faster.  Be disciplined in your activities, work smarter not harder and achieve great things in 2015.

Accomplishing tasks, making things happen and doing them regularly, with consistency is a key ingredient to success.  The important thing to keep in mind here is to not let a few disappointments slow you down.  Consistently set a schedule – with top priorities the night before you leave the office, consistently call your database, consistently attend networking events, consistently grow your database, consistently review and adjust what your plan is according to how the market fluctuates.

Growing personally and professionally is another success factor.  Start an exercise program, eat healthier, drink less alcohol and sodas, stop smoking, and take time to think.  Grow professionally by attending trainings, get involved in mastermind groups, obtain a designation, get a mentor or coach and meet with an “expert” in the business to get their perspective on what is happening and what they are doing to be successful.

Here are a few more tips to consider – stay positive, stay focused, talk to yourself and stop listening to yourself, read more and watch less TV, stop complaining, hang around people more successful than you, volunteer your time, learn something new every day and take action.

Don’t just survive, it’s time to thrive in 2-0-1-5!  Get it?  Got it?  Good!

Now, go sell something

Scott MacDonald

RE/MAX Gateway

New Year Sparks Hope and Much Anticipated Home Sales As Early Spring Real Estate Market 2015 Approaches

The beginning of the year always brings about hope, excitement and anticipation of good things ahead and 2015 is no different.  We believe that this year will be a much better year for real estate in Northern Virginia.  There are many reasons for this optimism – great rates, new financing programs, lower inventory levels, positive consumer confidence and pent-up demand.

Let’s review each of these areas.HOPE SPARK IN 2015 REAL ESTATE MARKET

  • Great rates. Although there has been a very slight uptick in rates recently, rates remain very low historically.  Additionally, the interest rates will remain low through 2015 perhaps not reaching 5% until later in the year.
  • New financing programs. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae have both begun to accept 3% down payments for first time home buyers.  There will be guidelines such as a minimum 620 credit score, borrowers will have to take an educational class, and they couldn’t have owned a home in the last 3 years to qualify.  With 45% of renters delaying a home purchase because of available funds for a down payment, this should increase the number of home buyers in 2015.
  • Lower inventory levels. In September of this year, we reached a 7 year high in inventory in Northern Virginia with 9,163 houses for sale.  Since that time, the number of available homes has declined each week.  We now have just 5,944 homes for sale which resulted in a brisk sales month for December.  Some of these properties will come back on the market this upcoming spring, but many sold.  As long as we have a moderate winter weather-wise, inventory will slowly enter the market and we won’t have the accelerated inventory levels we experienced in May of 2014 due to the weather.
  • Positive consumer confidence. Many more people today believe that the economy, their personal situation and the real estate market are all going to be better in the future.  These optimistic expectations are leading indicators to people purchasing in the upcoming months – including housing.  Additionally, Freddie Mac and builders also have high expectations of the housing market.  These expectations will have a positive impact on housing in 2015.
  • Pent up demand. As previously mentioned, December experienced a brisk sales month here locally.  We continue to receive calls, emails and internet requests on our homes for sale.   This shows us that there are many people ready to buy the right home that suits their personal lifestyle needs.  Also, many people who went through distressed sales just a few years ago are able to purchase again.  Job growth coupled with population growth locally will also increase demand for housing.

One other area to see home ownership grow in 2015 and beyond is the Millennial homebuyers.  They believe in home ownership as a wealth building opportunity and an overwhelming majority of them will be buying in the next 5 years.  Lastly, rising rental rates will push more people into ownership as a cost savings measure.

All of these positive influences in our region will strengthen our housing market in 2015 and beyond.  As we see our local economy continuing to rebound after 4 years of stagnant growth, this will have a positive impact on housing.  To see what this means to you, please feel free to contact me.

Cheers in the New Year!

Scott MacDonald

RE/MAX Gateway

Happy New Year 2015 _ ScottyMacsBlog Real Estate Market

 

The end of the year offers us time to reflect

Wow, November really WINTER SCENEflew by this year. It’s hard to believe that December is here already. At this rate, when we blink it will be a New Year. This being said, with December comes reflection and projection.

Let’s reflect, this year, what resonates with me is that it was odd to say the least. Looking back, for the real estate business it has been especially challenging. We have not had a year where we couldn’t predict the market because there were no trends that lead the way for us. The harsh winter weather carried into May so there was no momentum from a spring market to carry us into the summer months. We had overly choosy buyers, rising inventory, fewer first time buyers, fewer investors, more inventory coupled with more days on the market plus even more. You name it, it happened and we couldn’t predict what would happen next. What we did have this year were very low interest rates – stable house prices – inventory was plentiful but nowhere near historic highs yet we had a “different” year. In a year where buyers should have been coming out of the wood work, they stayed on the fence. There are many in the business happy to see an end to this year from a business perspective.

So, let’s talk about next year. We are expecting a strong spring market based upon what our top producing agents are talking about in our mastermind meetings. Many of them have buyers ready to buy homes, they have realistic sellers ready to put their homes on the market and rates will remain low through the spring market. We hit a low in first time buyers last year that we haven’t seen since 1987 but there are financing changes upcoming with lower down payment requirements and changes in regulations relaxing the tight underwriting standards we have had recently. These revisions will make first time buyers and Millenials a viable option that will help revive the housing market in the lower price points that will help the market flow up stream. We expect that the month’s supply of homes will remain between 3.5 – 4.5 months so sellers will need to be patient. Overall, we are optimistic that the real estate market will be strong in 2015.

Have a fantastic, safe and relaxing holiday season with your family and friends. In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns about your situation, feel free to call me.

Scott MacDonald

RE/MAX Gateway

Get out of your comfort zone!

As you grow and develop it is necessary to experience discomfort. You will need to break out of your comfort zone and create a new comfort zone that will help you expand yourself and your business. In some cases in can be referred to as expanding your box – get out of your box and experience exponential success. Let’s review how this can be broken down into manageable steps:

D – Decide that you need to do more than you are doing to get you more results than you are receiving today. Being satisfied with your results today won’t advance your future. At the same time, getting fewer results than you desire is going to put you further behind. Decide to do more today.

I – Implement the strategies required to make you attain the success you need to grow. It could be building more relationships, making more calls, attending more events, or whatever it takes to get you in front of more people. Relationships are the key to success. Build relationships deeper, make new ones and make them count for you and them!

S – Strategdiscomfort blog picize the what, how and benefits of what your actions will do for you and others. It will be necessary to adapt to the changing environment and make yourself relevant. Technology is rapidly changing all aspects of our lives and you need to make sure your strategy is in alignment with these changes.

C – Create the vision to make it happen. Write down what is necessary for your success, visualize your success in these undertakings and the results it will bring you and others – and they will happen.

O – Ownership of the ideas, thoughts and necessary tasks to get you to where you want to go will enable you to achieve your success. If you don’t buy into the end result, you won’t leave your comfort zone and make it happen.

M – Mastery of stretching yourself beyond your comfort zone through repetition, role playing and rehearsal will make you more comfortable in doing what is necessary to take yourself to the next level. Become a master of what steps you need to take to make it take place for you.

F – Find people who will help push you out of your comfort zone and want to see you become successful. Having others hold you accountable, help you grow and have your best interest at heart is vital to your growth.

O – Opportunities will become available to you as you make yourself expand and grow outside your comfort zone. You will be able to direct your future and take advantage of these opportunities. Luck is preparation meeting opportunity – be ready by experiencing discomfort.

R – Reward yourself for your new found comfort zone. If you don’t take the time to pat yourself on the back with small, medium or large rewards for your efforts, you won’t continue to put forth the effort. Rewarding yourself is a critical piece to keeping you motivated to do more.

T – Track and measure your results so you know how far away or how close you are to your goals and what you need to do to expand yourself to make these dreams a reality. What can be measured can be improved. Tracking what needs to be done for your success is imperative to receive results.

Discomfort allows you to grow and become better in the end and it is necessary for your success in all areas of your life. As the saying goes, if you aren’t growing, you are dying. Step up your efforts, step up your activities, grow outside your comfort zone – with baby steps or by leaps and bounds – and get where you want to go faster and perhaps even further than you expected. Get it? Got it? Good!

Now, go sell something!

Scott MacDonald

RE/MAX Gateway

A Stable Real Estate Market and Great Interest Rates – That’s Something To Be Thankful For

Well, we have good news to report on the market – We have reached a point of stability.

We are now officially into the winter market as we are starting to see things wind down.  Our listing inventory is currently at 8,512 houses for sale which is actually down from our 7 year high last month.  STONE BALANCEWe have a 3.7 month supply of homes which is about the same level as last month.  Obviously, we would like to see more sales as would our sellers but we are maintaining our sales levels, not decreasing which is more good news.  Additional positive news is interest rates remain low and prices are stable so the opportunity for buyers to lock in reasonable monthly payments is available.  From the buyer’s perspective, now is a great time to buy.

I had a conversation with Josh Burruss of MVB Mortgage about payments with rates where they are today versus a situation where they to go up .5% – here is the result of our discussion.  Currently the rate on a 30 year fixed conforming mortgage is approximately 4.00% (APR 4.058%) based on a sales price of $500,000 with a down payment of 20%.  If the interest rate were to rise just 0.5% (4.50% – APR of 4.562%) from current levels, the principal and interest payments would increase by approximately $117/mo.  The difference in the overall finance charge in these two interest rates over the life of the loan is approximately $42,241.94.  As you can see, just a half percent in interest rate can mean a huge difference in overall cost over the life of a mortgage.  If you want to discuss this with him in greater detail, feel free to call him at 703-727-4239.

Moving forward, we need to pay attention to the end of QE3 and the government’s subsequent completion of bond buying.  We are expecting rates to rise into 2015 as a result of this policy.  Right now we have great rates so take advantage while you can because the Fed still thinks it will be a “considerable time” before it begins to raise interest rates. The Zero Interest Rate Policy remains in full force, as it has been since it began at the end of 2008.  This policy will change because we cannot sustain this type of monetary policy as it just continues to add to our National debt.  Plus, we need a market-driven interest rate environment and a more predictable monetary policy to help foster long term economic growth.  This will definitely impact our housing recovery moving forward.

We would welcome the opportunity to discuss your housing situation in more detail so please feel free to contact me via email scottmacdonald@remax.net or give me a call 703-652-5777

Scott MacDonald

RE/MAX Gateway

The Accidental Entrepreneur: It Takes More

kristinia bouweiri

Kristina Bouweiri, President & CEO Reston Limousine kbouweiri@restonlimo.com

The Entrepreneur Business to Business forum at NVAR yesterday featured an accidental entrepreneur, Kristina Bouweiri.  She calls herself this because she never thought or had the desire to become a business owner.  She was a 100% commission based sales person selling advertising when she was offered a position at Reston Limousine.  It was there she learned what it was like to operate a business.  She did booking, invoicing, hiring, you name it – she did it all plus was a mother of four.

There were several events that helped shape her business to where it is today.  One is when she was approached to provide a shuttle service for the National Geological Survey which got her company into the government and getting government contracts and the other was 9/11.  When 9/11 occurred her business ground to a halt and she had to get out behind the desk and out on to the street to make things happen.  She got involved in Chambers, Charities and multiple Boards which all helped her gain clients and not only survive but thrive.

Her philosophy of how to run a successful business mirrors running a real estate business whether you are a broker or an agent.

Here are a few things owners and agents need to consider:

  • Get out and get involved – network with other professionals in the business but also outside the business to help create opportunities for each other.
  • Continually grow your database and maintain regular contact with them through email, phone calls and visits.
  • Get into a mastermind group of others in the business from around the country to share ideas on all aspects of the business and to help you develop best practices.
  • Join a peer advisory group like Vistage to help you grow your business as well as hold you accountable.
  • Attend conventions, seminars and be a continuous learner. Be knowledgeable about your business.
  • Develop strategic relationships to grow your business.
  • Learn to delegate. Take an hourly calendar and track what you are doing each hour for two weeks.  See what your hourly rate of pay is and any tasks you are doing that don’t pay your hourly rate, hire someone to do it.
  • Don’t spread yourself too thin
  • Hire to your weakness and develop your strengths.
  • Always look to hire the top talent and weed out the under performers.
  • Be relational not transactional – make great and long lasting relationships and help others to succeed.
    • Hold client appreciation events and solicit sponsors to help fund the events.
    • Figure out what you are good at delivering and make that your niche.
    • Be tech savvy and be an early adopter
    • Embrace social media – have a blog, website, LinkedIn, Facebook and email blast strategies to gain awareness, provide valuable content and to be seen.
    • Get involved in charities

    As you can see, she was a wealth of knowledge to the numerous agents in attendance and it was great information that parallels our industry.  To learn more, feel free to reach out to me.

    Now, go sell something!

Scott MacDonald

RE/MAX Gateway

Hey, Why Is It Taking So Long To Sell My Home? Theme Park: Northern Virginia Real Estate Market

July 2014 REAL ESTATE MARKET is like a carnival rideThe summertime real estate market is a lot like a theme park – ups and downs like a roller coaster with sales, activity and interest rates and a lot of unknowns like a haunted house.

There are a lot of questions around what is happening in the market from sellers and builders we are working with to sell their houses.

It is an interesting dynamic where we have extremely low interest rates – at or near 4% – and a high home affordability index yet sales are not as strong as we expect them to be considering this situation.

July 2014 REAL ESTATE MARKET for sellers is like a haunted house
What are the reasons for this?

One potential reason is price appreciation along with the multiple offers earlier this year. Many potential homebuyers naturally paused to wonder: is it a new bubble? Or can I afford these prices? But price appreciation has greatly moderated as we have seen inventory rise dramatically since the beginning of the year.

Therefore, potential homebuyers will no longer face the sticker shock and can now make rational decisions about whether or not it makes sense to buy a home.

Along with the increase in houses on the market, we will be creating new buyers as these homes sell. So demand will increase as more sales happen in many instances.

Another reason is the economy isn’t growing as quickly as was expected and consumer confidence is not extremely strong. Once buyers gain confidence in the economy, housing will follow suit and grow with the economy. Until then, we will see moderate house sales as well as price appreciation.

We also are still experiencing tight lending guidelines and underwriting policies on mortgages. It is still hard for many potential buyers to obtain loans. The “qualification pendulum” is still too far to one side and needs to be moderated to allow more buyers into the marketplace with sound lending practices.

So, in order to be a seller in today’s market, you need to be patient. Good houses, properly priced, in the right condition will sell. It will just take a little longer.

If you have any questions or concerns, please call me (703) 652-5777 so we can discuss your personal situation in more detail. We are here to help.
Happy 4th of July!

Scott MacDonald

RE/MAX Gateway

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

Hyper-local Northern Virginia Real Estate Market Has Sellers and Realtors Nervous

Watch Scott’s Market Minute on YouTube:   Hyper-local Northern Virginia Real Estate Market Has Sellers and Realtors Nervous

 

Inventory of houses for sale in Northern Virginia increased again this week.  A hyper-local real estate market can be a challenge for buyers, sellers, and their REALTOR.

Watch and listen as Scott MacDonald of RE/MAX Gateway offers the insight and explains strategies necessary for success in the Northern Virginia real estate market.

If you would like to discuss your specific real estate market, options or challenges, give Scott MacDonald of RE/MAX Gateway a call (703) 652-5777

Scott MacDonald

RE/MAX Gateway