Northern Virginia Real Estate News & Market Trends
You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to community happenings. That’s because we care about the community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!
Interest rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage have been on the decline since January 2019, now reaching lows last seen in September 2017. According to Freddie Mac’s latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey, rates came in at 3.82% last week!
This is great news for anyone who is planning on selling or buying a home this summer! Freddie Mac had this to say,
"Mortgage interest rates continue to decline since the beginning of 2019. Low mortgage rates along with a strong labor market will help housing markets post modest growth over the next year and a half. We expect mortgage rates to follow Treasury yields with the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaging 4.1% in 2019, before increasing modestly to 4.2% in 2020."
To put the low rates in perspective, the average for 2018 was 4.6%! The chart below shows the recent drop, and also shows where the experts at Freddie Mac believe rates will be by the end of 2019.
Whether you are thinking of buying or selling, it’s a great time to be in the market. Of course, if you have any other questions, give me a call, send me a text or send me an email. I would be happy to help you.
And if you have questions about your home's worth or need help buying or selling a home, give me a call at 703-328-3434. I'm here to help.
A lot is happening in the world, and it’s having a direct impact on the housing market. The reality is this: some of it is positive and some of it may be negative. Some we just don’t know yet.
The following three areas of the housing market are critical to understand: interest rates, building materials, and the outlook for an economic slowdown.
1. Interest Rates
One of the most important things to consider when buying a home is the interest rate you will be charged to borrow the money. In a recent Freddie Mac post, “Are Low-Interest Rates Here To Stay?” the latest information makes it appear they are. We are currently at a 21-month low in interest rates.
2. Building Materials
Talk of tariffs could also affect the housing market. According to a recent article, the National Association of Home Builders reports that as much as $10 billion in goods imported from China are used in homebuilding. Depending on the outcome of the tariff and trade discussions between several countries, there could be as much as a 25% boost in the cost of building materials.
3. Economic Slowdown
At the beginning of 2019, many economic leaders thought we could expect a recession in late 2019 or early 2020. As spring approached, the economists started to push that projection past 2020. Now, three leading surveys indicate that it may begin in the next eighteen months.
We are in a strong housing market. Wages are increasing, home prices are appreciating, and mortgage rates are the lowest they have been in 21 months. Whether you are thinking of buying or selling, it’s a great time to be in the market.
Of course, if you have any other questions, give me a call or send me an email. I would be happy to help you.
And if you have questions about your home's worth or need help buying or selling a home, give me a call at 703-328-3434. I'm here to help.
Today I’d like to answer a question I hear all the time: What is a CMA? In the real estate world, a CMA refers to a “Comparative Market Analysis". A CMA estimates a home’s value based on the recent sales of similar real estate in the area. Before putting a home on the market or making an offer on a home, home buyers and sellers should obtain a comparative market analysis from their agent.
I recently came across an article on Realtor.com that explains CMAs in great detail. Here are a few of the most important things I took away from the article:
1. It’s important to ask your agent for a CMA. Because a CMA is used to figure out home pricing, it’s important for both home buyers and sellers to understand CMAs because they can play a huge role in the final sale price of the home.
2. A CMA can go beyond comparables. Instead of just looking at homes that have already sold, you can also look at the current home sales that are under contract. Those values might be able to inform you a little bit more about where you should be priced in order to get the most money possible for the home. You can also look at the expired, cancelled and withdrawn listings. These are homes that were on the market and did not sell for various reasons. All of this data is important in determining the final sales price of the home.
3. You can do your own CMA. There are plenty of online home value estimators, including our own: https://www.simplyyourbestmove.com/cma/property-valuation/. After putting in your address, it will give you an automatic price, and it’s a great starting point for determining your home’s value.
If you have any other questions about CMAs, interpreting the CMA data or about real estate in general, I’d be happy to answer them. Just give me a call at 703-328-3434 or send me an email today.
When you go to Zillow, you are able to get something called a Zestimate, which gives you the value of your home. Can you trust those Zestimates?
Unfortunately, no. Most of the time, Zestimates are not very accurate.
According to Zillow’s website, a Zestimate is a starting point in determining a home’s value. It is not an appraisal. As I like to say, if it was, it would be called a Zappraisal. The Zestimate is based on public and user-submitted data.
Public data is usually fairly accurate, as it includes information about the square footage of your home. The problem is that Zestimates rely on user-submitted data.
If you are a homeowner who wants to sell your house and you know that people are going to Zillow to see what your home is worth, wouldn’t it benefit you to go to Zillow and add some home improvements to your property? There are some agents out there who actually help people increase their Zestimates to make it seem like their home is worth more than it is. In short, Zestimates can be tweaked and manipulated.
Zillow goes on to say that they encourage homeowners to supplement the Zestimate by speaking with a real estate agent and getting a comparative market analysis or getting an appraiser to visit the house. After all, Zillow has never been to your house; that Zestimate has no idea how your home stacks up against others in the area.
If you live in a major metropolitan area where there are a lot of homes for Zillow to pull from, then your Zestimate might be more accurate. If you live in a rural area without a lot of data or if you live in an area with a variety of unique homes, then that Zestimate can be a long way off.
Zillow even admits that more than three-quarters of the homes in San Diego County have Zestimates that are off by 10% or more. That means if you have a $700,000 house and your Zestimate is off by at least 10%, then your Zestimate is either $70,000 too high or too low.
Ultimately, Zillow is kind of like WebMD; if you are curious about a health condition, then you can look up some data on WebMD. If you are seriously concerned about your health, you will go to the doctor. You won’t trust your health to information from WebMD. Why trust the value of your house to some website?
In order to know what your home is worth in the current market, you need to contact an agent about the value of your home. In fact, I invite you to look up your Zestimate and send it to me. I will then compare your property to recently sold homes in your area and we’ll see how accurate Zillow actually is.
If you are interested, let me know. If I get enough Zestimates from you, I’ll cover them in our next video so that you can see exactly how accurate Zillow is about our area.
Of course, if you have any other questions, give me a call or send me an email. I would be happy to help you. And if you have questions about your home's worth or need help buying or selling a home, give me a call at 703-328-3434. I'm here to help.
Deciding to renovate before listing your home can be a challenge. It’s tough to know what will or will not return results. Here is a list of things will NOT increase the value of your home.
1) Extensive Professional Landscaping
You can build an entire amusement park in your back yard and it won't bring you big bucks upon resale. If you want to put in a waterfall, coupled with a flowing river dumping into a Koi pond, for example, do it because you enjoy the water feature, not because you're hoping to recoup the investment. Landscaping choices are a personal preference, and all the hand-crafted bridges and unique pergolas in the world won't dramatically boost your bottom line.
2) New Roof, Gutters, Sprinklers or HVAC
There are certainly buyers in the marketplace who appreciate a home that features a brand new furnace, but they won't pay extra for the home because the furnace has been replaced. Ditto regarding a new roof. The life expectancy of average composition types of roofs is about 30 years. Again, replacing a roof that is past its life expectancy is considered a maintenance issue. It's like expecting to get paid more because you swept off the front steps.
3) Swimming Pool and / or Personal Spa
The TV commercials for water-related improvements make it seem like non-stop frolicking among kids in the pool (zero focus on drownings) or late-evening soirées in the spa sipping adult beverages, but the cost and expense of installing a pool or spa never finds its way back into your pocket. If you want to put in a pool or spa, do it because you will enjoy it. Realize that at resale time, a buyer might insist that you tear out the spa and, further, some buyers will not buy a home with a swimming pool.
4) Painting Your House
Although painting is the single most cost-effective improvement you can make before selling your home, it won't return any bang for your buck unless you do the painting yourself. Painting the exterior or interior of the home certainly makes any home more saleable, but an appraiser will not give you a credit boost because the paint is fresh.
5) Solar Panels
Unfortunately, the Kool-Aid the sales people at the solar panel company handed you to drink is spiked. Sure, they tell you that solar panels will improve the value of your home and add to your bottom-line profit, but that's just not true. You get zero improved value for solar panel installation. On top of this, if you have financed the solar panels, you probably can't sell the home without paying the balance at closing, something else that most likely was not disclosed. And if you have questions about making home upgrades or need help buying or selling a home, give me a call at 703-963-5500. I'm here to help.
Welcome to the best—and worst—time to buy a home: spring! Yes, it's peak home-buying season. However, it’s no bed of roses. Knowing what to expect is half the battle, and can help you use these highs and lows to your advantage! So consider this an essential prep course. Ready to dive into the best of times and the worst of times for home buying?
You’ll love: All the inventory
One of the best things about buying a house during the spring is that you have a lot more options to choose from. New listings tend to flood the market in April and May, but keep in mind that with so much inventory out there, you’ll want to make sure to stick to your search and price parameters to avoid getting overwhelmed.
You’ll hate: All the competition
Busier times mean more buyers and, thus, more competition—which explains why bidding wars are more common during the spring. As a result, you have to act fast when the right listing pops up. In hot markets especially, listings may be scooped up before they are even posted online, which is why most housing experts suggest working with a real estate agent throughout the home-buying process.
You’ll love: All the open houses
More homes on the market mean more open houses for you to attend. That’s exciting news for buyers who relish ogling homes in person. Going to more open houses means you’ll get a better feel for the neighborhood you’re interested in, while also giving you the opportunity to size up the other home buyers you’re going up against. But with so many open houses to hit, make sure to plot out on a map the ones you want to see, with the times they're open, in order to maximize your time.
You’ll hate: The time pressure
Great listings get snatched up quickly year-round, yet home buyers are under even more pressure when there's more competition among buyers. You have to be prepared to make an offer fast, since indecision could potentially cost you your dream home. That’s why it’s crucial to zero in on what type of home you’re looking to buy and what your price range is before you start seriously looking.
You’ll hate: Higher prices
Home buyers generally have more wiggle room to make lowball offers during the slower seasons, since there’s less competition. However, buyers have less negotiating power during the spring. Therefore, be prepared to pay full list price for a house, assuming it’s been priced at fair market value.
Spring home-buying season has its pros and cons, but by preparing for them you’ll be in a much better position to clinch your dream home. And, if you don’t manage to buy a house this spring, summer is still a great time to buy a house, too. And if you have questions about selling or buying a home, give me a call at 703-963-5500. I'm here to help.
Spring is here, which means one thing: The spring housing market is off to the races! The hot season is here NOW for the real estate market.
You see, every April, May, and June, we see the highest number of buyers enter the market.
However, this year is a little special, because there are more homes on the market today than we've seen in the past few years. In the DC Metropolitian area, these homes are selling just as quickly as they come on the market!
That’s why you'll want to put in a bit of extra effort in order to sell your home quickly and at top price. Here are three tips to help you do that:
#1 Renovate and rearrange
Home renovations can make good financial sense.
A few thousand dollars’ worth of renovations can raise your sale price by more than you paid. If you do decide to go this route, know that kitchens and bathrooms give the best returns. Also, repainting everything is an absolute must!
However, even if you don't opt for a major renovation, you can easily improve the appearance of your home with a few small, free tweaks. Give your home a thorough cleaning, declutter to create more space and light, and put away personal items to allow buyers to imagine themselves in their new home.
#2 Price your home right
Setting the right price for your home is a balancing act. Pricing your house at or slightly below the current market value actually increases the number of buyers who will see your home in their search!
On the one hand, a sky-high price will turn off many potential buyers. Homeowners who make the mistake of overpricing their homes will eventually have to drop the price. This leaves buyers wondering if the price drop was caused by something wrong with the homes when in reality nothing was wrong, the price was just too high!
This is important because, in my experience, the first three weeks on the market tend to be critical. That's when you will reach buyers who have been in the market for a while and are extremely serious.
So what can you do? To get started, check out this home value calculator, which takes into account recent sales in our area:
As I mentioned, there are more homes on the market this spring than we've seen in the past few years.
That's why you'll want to go beyond just listing your home on the MLS.
Whether you work with a Realtor or you list your home yourself, I encourage you to try social media advertising, to print up some flyers that you can give away during viewings, and even to consider a postcard campaign for certain neighborhoods around your home.
If you apply all three of these tips, you will have a great chance of selling your home in record time and for a very handsome price.
And if you have questions about pricing or marketing your home, or you're ready to kick off the process in earnest, give me a call at 703-963-5500. I'm here to help.
No matter how many home purchases you’ve made, there are always lessons to learn during the home buying process. If it’s your first time, however, you’re definitely at a big disadvantage.
According to NerdWallet, first-time buyers have to put in 3.8 offers on average before an offer is accepted—experienced buyers only need to make 2.5.
On top of this, 56% of newbie buyers had to offer above asking price before getting a deal, while other homebuyers only needed to 35% of the time. On top of this, 34% of first-time buyers felt financially insecure about their purchase, but only 17% of experienced buyers reported the same.
Needless to say, it’s tough out there for people new to the home purchasing process. And with high demand for entry-level homes, buyers are facing a lot of competition—simple mistakes can mean losing out on a great opportunity.
Here are some simple things you can do to even out the playing field when you’re making your first (or seventh) home purchase: 1. Shop around. Half of all homebuyers fail to shop around for a mortgage, instead opting for the first lender they applied to. Shopping around can save you hundreds a year in interest. In fact, if all Americans shopped around on their mortgages, they’d save around $776 million in one year.
2. Put less down. You don’t need to put 20% down to purchase a home. It’s possible to put much less down, especially if you have good credit. In a lot of cases, it makes more sense to buy now instead of saving up, but remember: Your mortgage payments will be higher and you’ll likely need mortgage insurance.
3. Use an online calculator. Various websites offer home affordability calculators, helping you understand how your salary and debt affect what you can afford.
4. Compromise. You’re not going to find everything you want in a home, so identify your biggest priorities. For example, do you care about square footage, commute time, local schools, and location?
5. Get ready for emotions. Buying a home is definitely an ordeal filled with excitement, anxiety, and even disappointment. Be prepared for the ups and downs and you’ll be able to handle them more easily. The best way to make the process go as smoothly and efficiently as possible is to speak with a great real estate agent. If you’re ready to become a homeowner, I’d be more than happy to help you, step by step, throughout the entire home buying experience.
If you would like to get the process started, have any questions, or simply need more information, feel free to give me a call at (703) 963-5500 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. In the meantime, I look forward to hearing from you soon.
1. There will be more homes for sale—especially luxury homes. I can attest to this prediction, as I’m definitely seeing more luxury homes come on the market and sit unsold for long periods of time. In general, inventory is increasing, but we don’t expect to see an increase greater than 7%.
2. Affording a home will remain tough. Interest rates have been increasing, and home prices have been steadily increasing as well over the past few years. Even a rise in inventory can’t stop home prices from increasing in hot markets—especially here in the Northern Virginia/Washington D.C. area.
"In general, inventory is slightly increasing, but we don’t expect to see an increase greater than 7%."
3. Millennials will still dominate the market. Millennial homebuyers account for 45% of all home sales. Gen X homebuyers, on the other hand, account for just 35%, and baby boomers account for 17%.
4. The new tax law is still a wild card. Unless you have a savvy accountant who already knows how the new tax law will impact your taxes, you won’t really know how it affects you until you do your taxes later this year.
If you have questions about how any of these trends impact you specifically or you’re thinking of buying or selling a home soon in our marketplace, give me a call at 703-328-3434or email me atJanet@TheGreshGroup.com. I’d love to help you.