December Market Update


Happy Holidays!  As you are out shopping, heading to parties, potlucks and the like, we too are in full holiday mode in the real estate market. Inventory is dropping as sellers who are not in a “must sell” situation are taking their homes off the market, leaving us with sellers who truly “need to sell” staying on the market. This time of year is always a great time to buy as opportunities are available for home buyers. Sellers, don’t despair, there is activity, houses are selling, and, in some cases, multiple offers are out there. Recently, we have had 20 plus people attend open houses as the weather has been cooperating.  Also, with less inventory and houses decorated for the season, you can still sell your house as the festive look appeals to many home buyers. To learn more if you should buy or sell in December, please call me.

What else is happening in our area? Well, Amazon HQ2 and a half is coming to Crystal City. My feeling is this will have some impact in the very local area, but not overall as it did in the Puget Sound area where Amazon built their first headquarters. Over half of the new jobs will be non-tech related and the average salary will be $150,000. This salary is very good, but not enough to escalate prices like Amazon employees did in Seattle. The average sales price in Crystal City today is $565,000 and we may see this increase as investors are looking to buy, but not everyone is going to buy. Also, many prospective employees may already be in the area working at other companies, so this too won’t impact housing to a large extent. Lastly, in our area, we have created, on average, 50,000 jobs per year over the last decade. Amazon is only bringing 2,500 jobs per year over the next 10-15 years for a total of 25,000 jobs. Again, this is a nice boost to employment, but not enough to spike the needle in our local real estate market. It is definitely a good thing for our region as we beat out 238 other cities for HQ2, showing the rest of the country we have reasons why other companies should move here as well. If you have any other questions, please feel free to call me.

Have a fantastic holiday season with your family and friends! We’re looking forward to an amazing 2019!


A Short Tale About Home Inventory In The Northern Virginia Real Estate Market

Scott MacDonald shares current information on the Northern Virginia housing market. Scott’s video blog offers the latest on shortsales, foreclosures, appraisals, rental market and housing inventory – and his hair! Thinking about buying or selling your home? Contact Scott directly (703) 652-5777 or Read more…

Is the sky falling?

Which way is up? 
There is more confusing news about the real estate market today in the
media, on social networking sites and in reports than ever before.  As many of you know, I am active in social
media and am a member of many groups on Linkedin and read postings by others on
Facebook and Twitter among other sites and no one seems to agree about the
market.  There are questions about when
and if foreclosures are going to hit the market – some say it will be a tsunami
and others not.  Some say that in regards
to prices we are going to have a double dip yet the major indexes say prices in
almost all the major markets have increased month over month and year over year
since May.  News on interest rates is
that rates are going to rise yet they continue to go down and they are at all
time lows.  It is no wonder that
consumers are confused about what to do as many Realtors have such differing
opinions on which way the market is heading.

 As a real estate
practitioner in Northern Virginia involved in the resale market with our team,
the Results Realty Group, new home sales with our Assured Sales & Assured
Lease programs, property management, mastermind groups that discuss
foreclosures and short sales, and lastly, one on ones with our highly
productive Realtors, we believe we have a robust real estate market in our
area.  Houses are selling when they are
in excellent condition, they are properly staged, offer a good location and
they are priced correctly.  We continue
to have a strong buyer base here because of historically low rates, affordable
prices but most of all they are attracted to our area for the jobs.   We have one of the lowest unemployment rates
in the country – people and companies continue to come to our area. 

There should be no Chicken Little sightings in Northern
Virginia when it comes to real estate. 
Agents who are active in the business on a daily basis, finding the
opportunities for both buyers and sellers, attending trainings to educate
themselves so they can educate their clients, and honing their craft are
experiencing their best years ever.  As
is the case in all aspects of life, when you have a positive attitude along
with a can do attitude you are more likely to get the results you are looking
for than not.  Selecting the right
Realtor today is more important now than ever before when you or someone you
know is looking to buy or sell a house.  Be
sure the right choice is made.  Get
it?  Got it?  Good! 

Now, go sell something!

A walk down memory lane…

At the recent RISMedia Leadership and Social Media Summit,
several of us discussed where we were from a technology standpoint in real
estate and discussed what the “next” big thing in real estate will be and how
it will affect our business. This got me thinking how much has changed since I
got into real estate in 1988. 

Let’s take a step back in time and see how much has changed
and how amazing it is to remember how we ever functioned without the tools we
have today.  The list is in no particular
order and none is more important than the other, but when taken on the whole,
it is amazing.  The following list has
made us more productive, efficient and in some cases even better business
people if used properly.  If you have
others, please let me know.

We used to operate with no cell phones, but technology
stepped up and we used pagers to help keep us connected.  The pagers first buzzed then offered us
numbers to call back which we were able to do with car phones that were
attached to our consoles that took a day to install.  Luckily, technology allowed us to become
mobile with cell phones and now, we finally have smart phones.  What is next?

When we negotiated contracts it was face to face with the
sellers.  Next, we had the opportunity to
use data grams – a service that came over our thermal fax paper machines which
gave us permission to counter contracts on behalf of our clients.  Next, we were able to use fax machines, then
we progressed to scan to email, and now we use docusign and other e-signature
services.  In essence, we don’t have to
see our clients and can even be global with our business practice!

In order for clients to see properties, we used MLS cards –
postcards with a picture on the front and a very brief description on the
back.  Next, we moved up to MLS books
that allowed us to be somewhat more mobile, but the information was dated as it
took time to print and deliver.  After
this came, thermal paper and MLS printouts, dot matrix printers, online access
to MLS service with logins and now to mobile search capabilities from our smart
phones…what is around the corner?

In addition to these changes, the business itself has
changed substantially.  Some argue for
the better, some not – you decide.  At
first, it was a broker based business. 
The broker controlled the commission splits, the information made
public, advertising, etc.  We then moved
into the agent centered business where commission splits skyrocketed, the
advertising and promotion was about the agent and what they could do for the
client.  Now, we have entered the consumer
based business where everything is about the client and how we can serve the
client and provide them with as much information as quickly and efficiently as

Let’s look at access to properties.  First, it was all appointment only or agents
had to pick up the key from the listing office. 
Next we saw combo lockboxes enter the marketplace.  Then, in order to protect the sellers more,
we were issued circle keys.  When these
became easy to replicate, we move to the combo bar system, and now we utilize electronic
lockboxes of many varieties.

The controlling of Information started with the broker
controlling data to clients then agents were allowed to pass information to
clients and now information is controlled by the internet.  The internet offers virtually endless
information through blogs, websites, idx feeds, vow’s, public records and even
more sources.  It is critical for agents
to be on top of their game at all times when speaking with clients.

Wow, think about how much lead generation has changed.  It used to be we used the newspaper, cold
calling, door knocking and open houses to generate leads.  Then agents took on geographical farming to
gain recognition which lead to agents working their sphere in various ways to
obtain leads.  The onset of the internet
lead to pay per click and other pay for lead sources and this area continues to
blossom through lead generating websites.

The whole technology realm is amazing in itself.  We mentioned pager and progression to smart phones
but how about in the office and on the road? 
We have gone from office computers to personal computers to laptop,
tablets, netbooks, ipad, and mobile apps – the possibilities seem endless at
this point.

Marketing used to be almost strictly all newspaper
advertising.  Then we utilized direct
mail, billboard advertising, bench marketing, bus and car wraps and other forms
of mass advertising.   Agents have become
more practical in their spending habits by utilizing marketing to their sphere,
developing email campaigns, embracing social media outlets.

There used to be no websites then we had company websites
which paved the way for agent websites, and now we have multimedia social
interaction with our clients.

Our offices used to be brick and mortar offices often with
multiple locations.  Next came the mega
office concept where brokers consolidated into on large location.  As the market and technology  changed , offices downsized.  As more agents began to work from home,
wireless access points and wireless cards have become available, café offices
have emerged.

Initially, the way we worked was as Individual agents.  As our businesses grew, assistants became
more prevalent and more of a necessity. 
When lifestyle options and life balance became more important, buyer
agents and listing specialists lead to forming mega teams.  As technology emerge virtual assistants also
offered alternatives for agents to be more efficient.

 Our education avenues
have also changed.  We were first taught
to use the Haines directory, work expired listings and FSBO’s.  Then we took our education on the road and
obtained designations.  Next we worked on
database development, social media development. 
Our travel then gave way to on line training through RSN and other
correspondence classes.  These have lead
the way to webinars, techinars, and streaming video trainings.  Also agents have developed mastermind groups
to grow their businesses.

The agent’s compensation plans have also changed
drastically.  Initially, commission structures
started at 50/50.  Then we saw graduated
commission levels based upon production and then the 100% comp plans with a
monthly fee.  We have also seen transaction
fees become part of our compensation plans. 
There are also plans where agents are on a split until the company
reaches a level acceptable to them known as a CAP schedule and we also see
hybrid forms of these plans.

The world of financing also needs to touched upon.  It used to be 20% down loans, cash, VA loans,
and FHA low down payment loans.  In addition
to these, we had buy downs, high seller consessions and then guidelines
changed.  We had 100% loans, 80/10/10,
80/20, 80/15/5, NINA, 106%, There were COFI loans, Balloon payment loans,
interest only loans and now we have the tightest loan guidelines we have ever

The marketing of houses has also had a metamorphosis.  Initially we had simple brochures with the
exterior photo taped to the page then we had 800 call capture numbers to find
more buyers for our listings.  Next we
were able to take digital photos and create more elaborate brochures and
virtual tours.   We now market properties
through videos, dedicated listing websites, text for information technologies,
voicepad, and once again, social media outlets.

Advertising venues have also been through changes.  We used to utilize magazines, newspapers, published
articles, hosted TV and radio shows and now we have youtube channels.

Our communication with clients and other agents has also
progressed from the phone only to writing notes, then came email and IM
followed by text and coupled with Facebook messages, tweets, and even more…we
are more available today than ever before

As you notice, our business is always evolving which means
we too need to embrace change, be forward thinking and continuously move
forward if we want our business to only not survive but thrive going into the
future.  Get it?  Got it? Good!

What kind of change are you looking for?

As the New Year is upon us, it is the time many agents think about changing companies.  Before you think about making a move consider the following thoughts you are about to read.  A change of scenery is just that – a change in scenery.  Rarely does a change for change sake work.  Either does a change to “see what happens”.  The only time a change works is when change happens from within.  To truly change, you must change your habits, change your work ethic, change your desires, change how or who you are – not where you are.  My grandmother used to say, “A leopard doesn’t change its spots”.

True change is a choice to change behavioral patterns and thought processes not a change in location.  Rarely will success occur from merely changing where you are.  A change for the best occurs when you take advantage of what is available to you and by instilling discipline into your life.  Your attitude is typically one of the best places to start.  Analyze where you are today and why.  Do you have the discipline to set and achieve goals, develop a plan of action, setting a schedule, working that schedule, and growing you through education, accountability and coaching?  Find a mentor to develop yourself into what you want to become – don’t just change companies…this is superficial and in the end will rarely help you and you will continue your search for the next company that offers lower fees, more leads or something else that won’t yield true results.  The great Bob Marley sang – you’re running and you’re running and you’re running away but you can’t run away from yourself.  Truer words have never been sung in regards to change.  You can’t change others, changing companies doesn’t work – only changing you works. 

Now at times, a change is required if you aren’t provided opportunities – training, coaching, the right atmosphere, leadership or potential to grow yourself and your business but when you are and you don’t take advantage of these opportunities – you only have yourself to blame and your success will be no greater at the new location.  Lower fees won’t make a difference – the promise of leads won’t make you better – a salary won’t make you improve – only you can make you better.

It’s time to change you – not your location or company.  Get it?  Got it?  Good!

Now, go sell something.

Are you ready for 2010?

Well here we are, the first week of not only the New Year but the New Decade as well and if you haven’t already done so, now would be a great time to think about how you are going to be successful in 2000teens.  Obviously, in order to attain success, you must have a plan and decide for yourself the Status Quo is Unacceptable and get started on one today. 

One of the most important things to realize to set your plan of action in place and more importantly – in writing – for 2010 is to start!  It is essential to realize when you begin to think about your plan – make sure it is your plan and not someone else’s.  The goals are yours, timeframes to accomplish them are ones that you set, and if you do this you are more likely to accomplish them.  Your goals must be SMARTY goals – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, have a Timeframe for accomplishment and they must be Yours.  In addition, as you work through completing your task, it is good to share your ideas with others help them and to get the creative juices flowing for yourself.  In our experience, the more open you are to sharing, the more successful you will be. 

Once you have an idea, write it down so you remember thought because every thought is important, you will need to set your priorities and put the plan to achieve your goals and attain your objectives in real estate in motion.  Areas to think about may be increasing your database, finding new customers, getting educated, becoming an expert on pricing/trends/the market, etc.  Keep your mind open and determine where your focus will be this year.  Will it be first time buyers?  Move up buyers?  Short sales?  Foreclosures?  New home sales?  Property management?  Are there any other areas of interest or specialties where you can excel and make money this year in our industry?

Also, as you move through this exercise, here are some tips to keep in mind as we move forward.  Be decisive – be focused – put your thoughts in writing – develop a plan of action – share with others.  At some point soon, select an accountability partner to review your plan and theirs regularly.  It has been noted through research a group ASTD had accomplished, when you commit and plan to accomplish something in writing, you are 50% more likely to achieve it – if you commit to someone else 65% – if you have an accountability appointment with that person 95% and with a group 99%.  Think about it!

As you go through the year – stay engaged and become the go-to source for real estate for your sphere.  There will no doubt be adversity and as the times and the market change, be willing to make the adjustments necessary in your plan to insure your success.  Forge ahead – take action, massive action to achieve the success you desire and we will do it all over again next year!  Now, let get started.  Get it?  Got it?  Good!

It’s all about continuous improvement!

Continuous improvement is a critical piece of the puzzle when putting together a successful career.  To be the best in any field, it requires practice, education, training/coaching and participation.  Let’s take a quick look at Tiger Woods.  Without question, he is the best in his field today.  Does he practice golf?  Does he study the golf course he is going to play and visualize each shot on the course?  Does he train and have a coach or multiple coaches? And does he go out and play or just sit back and watch?  I think we all know the answers to the questions.  If you want to be the best, why aren’t you doing what it takes?  Why do you only go half way?  Continuous improvement means you take risks, make mistakes and then learn and grow from those mistakes.

In order to determine where you need to improve, you must first analyze where you are today.  How is your business?  How are your marketing efforts?  What is your ideal client? How is your prospecting?  How is your follow up?  How are your results?  How is your knowledge of our business? How are your systems?  By careful, through thoughtful analysis of these areas, you can determine how, if you pay a little attention to what you can do to improve yourself and your business.

When looking at your business, are you working “on” your business or are you working “in” your business?  Do you study trends?  Meet with other industry experts?  Review and revise your business plan?  Do you educate yourself on what is currently happening in the marketplace?  Are you obtaining designations?  Are you involved in your association and hear different points of view on what is happening in the industry?  Do you have the right team members and are they in the right job to ensure your success?  Take a look and see where you can improve on your business.

Where are your marketing efforts, marketing dollars and time going and are you seeing results?  How do you know if you are getting results?  What tracking systems do you have in place?  Have you researched other advertising venues?  The question is – are you a secret agent?  Make yourself known in the market but do it wisely and inexpensively!

Have you determined who your ideal client is for you and your business?  Are you spending time or better yet, wasting time with people who don’t fit your profile?  If you are – why?  By working with those outside of your parameters can cause frustration, higher stress levels and drain your energy.  If people won’t help themselves, why should you help them?  Take the time to define your ideal client then spend your time finding and helping them.  You will be much happier and have more energy when working with them and your business will prosper.

We just hit on finding your ideal client so let’s review your prospecting strategies.  How are your sphere contacts?  How often are you communicating with them?  How are you communicating with them?  How are you building your database?  How broad is your database?  How are your networking skills?  Are you referring prior to asking to be referred?  Are you getting out in front of clients or are you hiding behind your desk either at home or in the office?

How do you measure results?  Is it number of leads?  Sales?  Hours worked?  Your pay per hour?  Have you analyzed and determined if you are getting the results you desire?

How is your education?  How is your knowledge of the contract?  The listing agreement?  Can you recite each paragraph and reference its number without having to see it?  Do you know what the right advice is to give your clients based upon how the contracts read?  What addendums are you using and are you intimately familiar with what they mean?  Are you obtaining designations in areas of our business that will help your clients buy and sell real estate in areas like distressed properties, green designations or with your Accredited Buyer Representation designation?  Are you attending training?  Seminars?  Are you building your educational base to help your clients?  You’ve got to learn more to earn more!

If you continuously improve in each of these areas – consistently – you will get results and obtain the success in our business you desire.  Get it?  Got it?  Good!

Now, go sell something!