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!

April 2, 2020

Don’t Let Frightening Headlines Scare You


We are in unprecedented times. First and foremost, I hope that you and your family are doing well and staying safe. There’s also lot of anxiety right now regarding the coronavirus pandemic.

Amidst all this anxiety, anyone with a megaphone – from the mainstream media to a lone blogger – has realized that bad news sells. Unfortunately, we will continue to see a rash of horrifying headlines over the next few months. Let’s make sure we aren’t paralyzed by a headline before we get the full story.

When it comes to the health issue, you should look to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the World Health Organization (WHO) for the most reliable information.

Finding reliable resources with information on the economic impact of the virus is more difficult. For this reason, it’s important to shed some light on the situation. There are already alarmist headlines starting to appear. Here are two such examples surfacing this week.

1. Goldman Sachs Forecasts the Largest Drop in GDP in Almost 100 Years
It sounds like Armageddon. Though the headline is true, it doesn’t reflect the full essence of the Goldman Sachs forecast. The projection is actually that we’ll have a tough first half of the year, but the economy will bounce back nicely in the second half; GDP will be up 12% in the third quarter and up another 10% in the fourth.

This aligns with research from John Burns Consulting involving pandemics, the economy, and home values. They concluded:

“Historical analysis showed us that pandemics are usually V-shaped (sharp recessions that recover quickly enough to provide little damage to home prices), and some very cutting-edge search engine analysis by our Information Management team showed the current slowdown is playing out similarly thus far.”

The economy will suffer for the next few months, but then it will recover. That’s certainly not Armageddon.

2. Fed President Predicts 30% Unemployment!
That statement was made by James Bullard, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. What Bullard actually said was it “could” reach 30%. But let’s look at what else he said in the same Bloomberg News interview:

“This is a planned, organized partial shutdown of the U.S. economy in the second quarter,” Bullard said. “The overall goal is to keep everyone, households and businesses, whole” with government support.

According to Bloomberg, he also went on to say:

I would see the third quarter as a transitional quarter” with the fourth quarter and first quarter next year as “quite robust” as Americans make up for lost spending. “Those quarters might be boom quarters,” he said.

Again, Bullard agrees we will have a tough first half and rebound quickly.

Bottom Line

There’s a lot of misinformation out there. It is my commitment to support and guide you through these turbulent times and to communicate and keep you aware of what’s next. We are continuing to work for our clients at the highest level and support your real estate needs. With the stay-at-home order, we want to let you know that we are legally considered an essential business allowed to operate and remain open and following safety guidelines. 
The good news is that we are collectively beginning to adapt to this unprecedented situation in some encouraging ways.  In the real estate market, many agents are starting to offer virtual showings to reduce person-to-person contact. This allows buyers to make a more informed decision about the property and whether to get out and go see it. 
 
Showings are still going on, just with much higher regard to safety and proper social distancing. And yes, even if we can't shake hands on it, homes in the Washington, DC Area are still being sold. In fact, some buyers are more eager to buy now than ever. That might sound surprising, but it's simple economics. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate recently hit 3.29%, the lowest on record since tracking started almost 50 years ago. This kind of low mortgage rate can take tens of thousands of dollars off the effective price of a property, once interest payments are factored in. 
The massive government stimulus package has given many people hope that the economic impact of coronavirus will be contained. Finally, once we emerge from this situation, there is reason for optimism. 

Unlike previous drops in home sales, like during the subprime mortgage crisis, this is not expected to last nearly as long. Demand for housing was especially strong before the coronavirus hit, and much of this demand is still there.  What is undeniable is that we are in a unique situation, and rules are changing each day.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to me with any questions or concerns regarding your property, the market, or the real estate industry in the Washington DC area or need anything. I am here for you. You can reach me directly by phone or text at (703) 328-3434.

All My Best,
 
Posted in Real Estate
March 16, 2020

The Coronavirus Impact on Real Estate

Friends and Clients —
 
As the world nervously watches the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), the pandemic has begun prompting responses from every industry, and nearly every level of organization in the country. Perhaps a much anticipated social gathering or recreational league you or a family member enjoy has just been canceled or postponed indefinitely. Professional sporting events, concerts, and even political campaigning have been impacted. How then, has COVID-19 affected the real estate market, especially as we enter what was primed to be an especially hot spring?
 
Lawrence Yu, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, had anticipated about 5.5 million sales of previously owned homes this year (an increase from 2019 and 2018).
 
That's because borrowing costs have plunged to lows never before seen (e.g., an average interest rate of 3.29% on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage) and the job market is strong. Obviously, though, no one could have foreseen a virus disrupting market conditions at the start of 2020. 
 
But just how disruptive is it? In the hardest-hit counties in the nation, such as King County, Washington, Realtors are reporting that homes are still being bought and sold like normal. Though there has been the occasional seller canceling an open house or removing a listing entirely, the fact remains that properties are still moving; buyers and sellers understand this market has something to offer for everyone. 
 
Yes, experts are tampering their expectations for the spring market slightly. The most significant impact is the fact that sellers may be less likely to list their homes right now, which could dampen hopes that significantly more inventory would hit the market come spring and alleviate the supply stress. Conditions that make for a fantastic market for both buyers and sellers still exist—crazy low rates and rising home values. 
 
Ultimately, you have to determine what’s right for you as a homebuyer or home seller. My job isn’t to push you into a decision you’re not comfortable with, but rather to provide hyperlocal context that may be lost in the national media coverage. Our market is still thriving. 
 
Of course, the degree and nature of the COVID-19 outbreak may change, and that's why I will continue to provide you with the most up-to-date information possible. The simple fact is that I’m a Realtor, not an epidemiologist. 
 
It's important that we listen to the medical professionals who are bearing the brunt of this, working hard to treat the infected, and developing a vaccine. We must all do our part to slow the progression. Hopefully, by now, you've heard these protocols, but it never hurts to reiterate them:
  • Wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds, especially after having been in a public space or after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.

  • If COVID-19 is active in your area, put distance between yourself and other people.

  • Avoid public areas unless absolutely necessary, especially if you are at a higher risk of getting sick.

  • Stay at home if you’re sick.

  • Wear a mask if you’re sick. 

So what can you do if you have your good hygiene habits down but still aren’t sure if it’s right to begin the home selling or home buying process? 
 
If you're practicing social distancing, I'd be happy to offer you a virtual consultation. There's no need to meet in person. We can discuss your specific needs in detail, and I can also provide you with a virtual tour of homes you may be interested in.
 
Sellers: Setting up a mandatory hand washing station at open houses may be a great call. It communicates to the buyers that you're on their page--doing your civic duty to take COVID-19 seriously, but also determined to take advantage of great spring conditions.
 
If you have any real estate-related questions or you want more specific stats on how our market is performing, please reach out to me anytime. For COVID-19-related questions, routinely check the Centers for Disease Control website or contact medical professionals. 
Bottom Line
If you’re thinking about selling your home this year, let’s get together so you have a professional on your side to help you properly price your home and maximize demand from the start. Just give me a call at 703-963-5500 or send me an email today.
 
Posted in Real Estate
March 5, 2020

How Pricing Your Home Right Makes a Big Difference

 
 
Even though there’s a big buyer demand for homes in today’s low inventory market, it doesn’t mean you should price your home as high as the sky when you’re ready to sell. Here’s why making sure you price it right is key to driving the best price for the sale.
 
If you’ve ever watched the show “The Price Is Right,” you know the only way to win the game is to be the one to correctly guess the price of the item up for bid without going over. That means your guess must be just slightly under the retail price.
 
When it comes to pricing your home, setting it at or slightly below market value will increase the visibility of your listing and drive more buyers your way. This strategy actually increases the number of buyers who will see your home in their search process. Why? When potential buyers look at your listing and see a great price for a fantastic home, they’re probably going to want to take a closer look. This means more buyers are going to be excited about your house and more apt to make an offer.
 
When this happens, you’re more likely to set up a scenario with multiple offers, potential bidding wars, and the ability to drive a higher final sale price. At the end of the day, even when inventory is tight, pricing it right – or pricing it to sell immediately – makes a big difference.
 
Here’s the other thing: homeowners who make the mistake of overpricing their homes will eventually have to lower the prices anyway after they sit on the market for an extended period of time. This leaves buyers wondering if the price drops were caused by something wrong with these homes when in reality, nothing was wrong, the initial prices were just too high.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking about selling your home this year, let’s get together so you have a professional on your side to help you properly price your home and maximize demand from the start. Just give me a call at 703-963-5500 or send me an email today.
 
Feb. 20, 2020

The #1 reason to list your house right now

 
 

The success of the U.S. residential real estate market, like any other market, is determined by supply and demand. This means we need to look at how many potential purchasers are in the market versus the number of houses that are available to buy. With early 2020 housing data now rolling in, it’s quite evident there are two big stories impacting this year’s residential real estate market:
 
1. Buyer demand is already extremely strong
2. Housing supply is at a historically low level
 
Demand
ShowingTime is a firm that compiles data from property showings scheduled across the country. The latest ShowingTime Showing Index reveals how showings have increased in each of the country’s four regions for five months in a row.
 
Supply
Move.com also just released information indicating that the number of homes currently for sale has declined rapidly and now sits at the lowest level in almost a decade. They explained,
 
“National housing inventory declined 13.6 percent in January, the steepest year-over-year decrease in more than 4 years, pushing the supply of for-sale homes in the U.S. to its lowest level since realtor.com began tracking the data in 2012.”
 
In response to these numbers, Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com, said,
 
"Homebuyers took advantage of low mortgage rates and stable listing prices to drive sales higher at the end of 2019, further depleting the already limited inventory of homes for sale. With fewer homes coming up for sale, we've hit another new low of for sale-listings in January."
 
The decrease in inventory impacted every price range, too. Here’s a graph showing the data released by move.com:
 
Bottom Line

Since there’s a historic shortage of homes for sale, putting your home on the market today could drive an excellent price and give you additional negotiating leverage when selling your house. Let’s get together to determine if listing your house now is your best move. Just give me a call at 703-963-5500 or send me an email today.
Feb. 17, 2020

Presidential Fun Facts

Take a moment this President's Day 
to appreciate what a great nation we have 
and the great freedom we enjoy. 
And don't forget the great men and women 
that work hard to keep our nation free.

Posted in Holiday
Feb. 6, 2020

Buying a home with bad credit: Can you do it? Should you?

 
 
Only people with the very best credit will qualify to buy a home. Wait—that’s old-school thinking. Today, plenty of people buy homes with scores that are not in the good range (700 or up).
 
But, poor credit is still one of the top reasons people fail to buy a home—or even try—because they simply assume they won’t qualify. Knowing the ins and out of credit requirements, and a few tricks for improving your credit, could possibly mean the difference between staying in a rental and owning a home of your own. 

What score is required?

This varies depending on the lender and the type of loan, but 580 is today’s magic number. That’s the minimum credit score that is typically required for an FHA loan, although scores can go as low as 500 with a higher down payment. 

How does your score affect your mortgage rate?

In general, the lower the score, the higher the rate. “A low credit score can make it less likely that you would qualify for the most affordable rates and could even lead to rejection of your mortgage application,” Bruce McClary, spokesman for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, told BankRate. “It’s still possible to be approved with a low credit score, but you may have to add a co-signer or reduce the overall amount you plan to borrow.”

Are there easy ways to raise your credit?

The first thing you want to do once you see your credit report is check for errors. A collection account that was paid off long ago or that’s not even yours could be dragging your score down. “You might have errors on your credit report. If so, they could potentially hurt your credit score,” said Norton LifeLock. “You can get a free copy credit of your credit report every 12 months from each credit reporting company. How? Go to AnnualCreditReport.com. You want to make sure your information is accurate and up to date.”
 
Experian Boost is a newer service that allows you to raise your FICO score by getting “credit” for making timely phone and utility payments. According to Experian, the average user raised their score by 13 points, which could be enough to get you over the hump.
 
Should you spend some time working on your credit before you buy a home?
 
This is a personal choice. If you can get your score up quickly over a couple of months and the difference will help you qualify, then yes. Your lender should be able to review your credit report and tell you where to concentrate for the biggest and quickest improvement.Then again, if raising your score a few points won’t make a big difference in your rate and you’re ready to roll, you might not have much incentive to wait. 
 
Keep in mind that the savings over time with a lower rate can be huge. “Even a half-point in interest can make a big difference in your monthly mortgage payment and how much you pay over the life of the loan,” said BankRate. “For example, the difference between a 3.5 percent rate and a 4 percent rate on a $200,000 mortgage is $56 per month. That’s a difference of $20,427 over a 30-year mortgage term.”

What is the best loan for low credit scores?

The aforementioned FHA loan is often the choice of buyers with low credit scores and/or minimal down payments funds. Their criteria is among the most lenient, but you will pay for that leniency. 
 
“You may be able to qualify for an FHA loan with a minimum credit score of 580 and a 3.5% down payment,” said Business Insider. “However, not all lenders will approve you, as some have higher credit score requirements. Taking out an FHA loan does mean that you'll need to pay mortgage insurance, also known as a mortgage insurance premium, throughout the lifetime of your mortgage. Currently, the mortgage insurance premium on an FHA loan is 1.75% upfront, then 0.7 to 0.85% annually.”

Bottom Line

The new spring market for real estate is underway. If you’re considering buying or selling, let’s connect, so you have the advantage in this competitive market. Just give me a call at 703-963-5500 or send me an email today.
 
Posted in Real Estate
Jan. 23, 2020

Winter 2020 DC Area Home Price Update

Friends and Clients —
 
If you've been thinking about upgrading to a new home, you'll want to read this email.
 
As you'll see, current conditions make it an incredible time to sell — as well as to buy a bigger or more luxurious home. Let's look at the details:
 
1. Enticing mortgage rates
 
The 30-year fixed mortgage rate recently fell to 3.49%.
 
This is a drop of 1.5% in the last year alone. It puts current mortgage rates in the neighborhood of record lows that we saw in 2012.
 
Not surprisingly, many buyers are ready to invest in these attractive conditions. A strong job market is fueling demand even more.
 
Yet home sales are stagnating. What's going on?
 
2. Deep housing shortage
 
The answer is simply the lack of homes on the market.
 
The number of homes for sale in November was the lowest on record for the month.
 
In fact, fewer existing homes sold in 2019 than in 2018, and experts say that number will drop further in 2020.
 
So supply is short, while demand is strong… can you guess what happens in these conditions?
 
3. Home prices heating up again
 
Home price growth flattened out last summer, but it's picking up steam again.
 
The median price for an existing home sold in November was $271,300. That's the highest November price reading since readings began in 1999. 
 
Price growth is strongest for lower-end homes, while higher-end homes have more supply.
 
You can see now why I say this is a unique moment if you're thinking about upgrading to a new home.
 
In the current under-supplied market, you can sell your home in record time and for top dollar. You'll find it much easier to buy a new, higher-end home.
 
If you're curious about your options, I suggest two things. First, check out this home value calculator, based on recent DC Area sales. It will give you an idea of what your home is worth in the current market:
 
 
Second, take a look at this complete listing of DC Area homes for sale. Several beautiful and affordable homes recently came on the market. You can find them all here:
 
 
Finally, if you'd like to get my in-depth and personal estimate of what you could sell your home for, and how long it might take, give me a call at (703) 963-5500. I'm here to help.

Bottom Line

The new spring market for real estate is underway. If you’re considering buying or selling, let’s connect, so you have the advantage in this competitive market. Just give me a call at 703-963-5500 or send me an email today.
 
Posted in Market Updates
Jan. 10, 2020

The New Spring Real Estate Market is Here. Are You Ready?

 
 
Which month do you think most people who are considering buying a home actually start their search? If you’re like most of us, you probably think the surge happens in the spring, likely in April. Not anymore. According to new research, January 2019 was only 1% behind February for the most monthly views per listing.
 
So, what does that mean? The busiest season in real estate has just begun.
 
The same research indicates,
“Historically, April launched the kickoff of the home shopping season as buyers would come out of their winter hibernation looking for their new home. However, the spring shopping season now starts in January for many of the nation’s largest markets.”
With the reality of fewer homes on the market in the winter, and that supply naturally increases as we head to the spring market, waiting for more competition to list in your neighborhood this year might put you behind the curve. Perhaps now is the time to jump into the market.
 
George Ratiu, Senior Economist says, 
“As shoppers modify their strategies for navigating a housing market that has become more competitive due to rising prices and low inventory, the search for a home is beginning earlier and earlier.”
There is a lot of speculation in the market about why the search for a home is shifting to an earlier start. The one thing we do know is if you’re thinking about buying or selling a home this year, the earlier you get started, the better.
 
Reminder: When should you sell something? When there is less of that item for sale and the greatest number of buyers are in the market. That’s exactly what is happening in real estate right now.

Bottom Line

The new spring market for real estate is underway. If you’re considering buying or selling, let’s connect, so you have the advantage in this competitive market. Just give me a call at 703-963-5500 or send me an email today.
 
Posted in Real Estate
Dec. 24, 2019

May the Merry Bells Keep Ringing

Happy holidays to you!

The holiday season has officially arrived. We hope you enjoy this wonderful time of year and make some fantastic memories with your family and friends. 

We wanted to take a moment to thank you for your continued support. We love helping people make their real estate dreams come true, so thank you for working with us. 

This may be a busy time of year, however we are always here to help you and answer any questions you may have. Give us a call or reply to this email.

In case we don’t hear from you, have a happy New Year! 

Janet Gresh
(703) 963-5500

Posted in Holiday
Nov. 19, 2019

What Is The Gresh Group Thankful for This Year?

As we approach Thanksgiving, I wanted to reach out and let you all know how thankful our team is for your support.

Selling your Greater Washington DC area home?
Buying an Greater Washington DC area home?

 

As I count my blessings this Thanksgiving, know that you are among them. Clients, friends, staff, peers, and even those who I have yet to meet make my business what it is. For that, I’m extremely grateful. Everyone here at the Gresh Group wishes each and every one of you a happy Thanksgiving. We hope your home is filled with love on this wonderful holiday.

 

Also, if you have questions or would like more information, you can always reach us at 703-328-3434 or email me at Janet@simplyyourbestmove.com. We look forward to hearing from you soon!.

 

Posted in Holiday