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!

Jan. 21, 2019

4 Key Trends to Watch for in Our 2019 Market

There are four key trends that buyers and sellers need to look out for in 2019.

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According to Realtor.com, there are four key trends that buyers and sellers need to be mindful of in 2019:

 

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, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I’d love to help you.

Jan. 9, 2019

2019 housing market forecast: Arlington up, Alexandria down


The Northern Virginia housing market forecast is for home prices in Arlington to rise, while home prices in Alexandria are expected to fall.


WASHINGTON — The number of homes sold in Northern Virginia in September was down almost 12 percent from a year earlier, and active listings throughout the Northern Virginia region are down 9.3 percent from September 2017, according to the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors.

The Association’s data include Fairfax and Arlington counties, the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax and Falls Church and the towns of Vienna, Herndon and Clifton.

But prices continue to rise, with the average price of what sold in Northern Virginia in September 2018 at $573,555, up 3.6 percent from a year earlier.

“Although Northern Virginia sellers remain in the driver’s seat, our September data regarding rising home values is a positive indicator to those wondering about market headwinds,” said NVAR chair Lorraine Arora.

“Despite volatility in the stock market and Federal Reserve decisions, homes that are priced and show well are selling,” she said.

Not everything on the market in Northern Virginia is selling.

“If a home is not in tip-top shape, it is sitting,” said Gary Lange with Weichert Realty in Vienna. “Sellers are trying to get top spring market prices and that just isn’t going to happen in fall and winter months,” he said.

Lange said he’s seen instances of buyers keeping a home on their radar, and then pounce on it with other potential buyers when the seller decides to lower the price. A price reduction often triggers multiple offers and can actually benefit the seller in the end.

The NVAR has also issued its forecast for early 2019, most notably calling for prices in Arlington to continue rising and prices in Fairfax and Alexandria to pull back, with inventory declines in all three jurisdictions to continue.

 

Posted in Market Updates
Dec. 18, 2018

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

It truly brings us joy to help you make your real estate dreams a reality. Thank you for working with us. We wouldn’t be where we are today without your help.

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We hope you and your family have a great holiday. May the Christmas season fill your home with joy. It truly brings us joy to help you make your real estate dreams a reality. Thank you for working with us. We wouldn’t be where we are today without your help. As always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’re here to help you in any way we can. Have a fantastic Christmas and we’ll see you in the new year! To hear my full message, watch this short video.    

 


"Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!"

 

 

Posted in Real Estate
Dec. 11, 2018

Amazon HQ2 is coming to Northern Virginia



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Friends and Clients, 

As everyone knows, Crystal City, Virginia has been chosen as the site of one of Amazon’s two new corporate headquarters locations, Amazon HQ2. What does Amazon HQ2 mean for the Washington region?

The Stephen S. Fuller Institute, the Washington Region’s premier source of information for economic analysis, has compiled a full report on their website that may answer any questions you have about this development. 
You can find that report here, but our team would also like to share a few highlights of what this news may mean for Arlington County and the Commonwealth of Virginia in general. 

First, there are rumors that receiving Amazon HQ2 could lead to a massive housing shortage in our region due to the influx of new jobs; however, I would advise my clients and fellow Realtors alike to not panic yet. 

There is cause to believe that, when put into context with the Washington Metro Area’s general growth projections, the aptly named “Amazon effect” may not contribute to the housing issues some suspect. 

As stated in an article by the D.C. Policy Center, “Small changes in household size could make a big difference in the region’s ability to absorb new households.” 
You can read more from this report, which fully breaks down how the region may respond to the introduction of Amazon HQ2, here

In addition to the counterarguments against negative rumors listed in the D.C. Policy Center article, the earlier-mentioned report from the Stephen S. Fuller Institute also makes a strong case for our area’s capacity to absorb the impact of Amazon HQ2. 

For one thing, the D.C. area has absorbed the equivalent of more than one “Amazon’s worth” of job growth each year for the past three years. This has, indeed, contributed to our existing housing shortage, but may also be evidence that the coming addition of Amazon HQ2 will not be the monumental strain some anticipate. 


Also, while there has been much talk of the potential challenges this development may pose, we should also acknowledge the distinct fiscal and economic benefits that Amazon HQ2 will bring to our region. More information about these projected advantages can be found here, in another great report from the Stephen S. Fuller Institute. 

All in all, the introduction of an Amazon headquarters into Northern Virginia is sure to elicit significant growth within the region.

If you have any other questions about this development, feel free to give my team or me a call or reply to this email. We look forward to hearing from you soon.


Best,

Janet Gresh
Nov. 15, 2018

Tips for Making Sure You’re Given a Fair Shake on Home Repairs

Nobody likes dealing with expensive home repairs. Here are a few tips to help you make that process easier.

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I recently read an article in The New York Times titled, "Why do all home repairs cost $1,000?" The author was complaining that it didn't matter much what went wrong at home—be it a leaky faucet, broken garage door, or failed sump pump. In each case, the bill came out to at least $1,000. 

Most homeowners woefully underestimate the costs of various home repairs, often by as much as four times the actual cost. Can anything be done about this? Here are three recommendations to help you deal with home repair costs:

1. Save for a rainy day. The average homeowner spends $2,000 a year on maintenance. The trouble is that those repairs are often unexpected. To deal with this, consider starting a maintenance account and adding a little bit to it every month.    


"Sometimes it can make sense to look for a new home that won’t require frequent repairs."

 

2. Take time to enjoy being a homeowner. In short, this means giving do-it-yourself home fixes a try. You might balk at this suggestion, but many of those $1,000 repairs can be solved with $15 worth of parts and a few YouTube tutorials. Start small and build your skills, do what you feel confident about, and pay somebody to do the rest. 

 

3. Negotiate smart. No matter what you are quoted for any sort of repair, it's likely that somebody else will do it better for less. Make sure to get a few quotes. 

 

When you do hire a professional, realize that their fee covers not only their expertise and labor, but also various kinds of insurance, certifications, workspace rent, and so on. If you've done everything else on this list, you can accept the final repair price without feeling cheated or worrying that you're wasting money. 

 

Of course, sometimes it can simply make sense to look for a new home that won't require frequent repairs.  

 

If you're considering selling your current home or if you need recommendations for contractors to fix those things you don't want to deal with yourself, give me a call at 703-328-3434 or email me at Janet@TheGreshGroup.com. I can recommend several reliable businesses and I'm always here to help.

Nov. 14, 2018

3 Home Improvement Projects That Buyers Will Love

To increase your odds of selling in this market, you might want to look at completing a few home improvement projects. These are the three that we recommend.

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As we slowly shift to a buyer's market, it’s time to make some adjustments. For one thing, it's worth looking at some simple home improvement projects that can help ensure you sell your home quickly and at a top price. 

The thing is, when it comes to selling your home, not all home improvements are created equal. That's why I've collected the three top home improvement projects that homebuyers love, according to a report by the National Association of Home Builders:

1. A laundry room. More than anything, homebuyers currently want a separate room for washing, folding, and ironing clothes so they can keep the mess out of their living space. If you have an unused basement, it makes a lot of sense to put the laundry room there because all of the utility lines will be accessible and you probably won't have to demolish anything. A new laundry room could cost as little as $1,000 and could contribute a lot more than that when you look to sell your home.    


"90% of buyers want energy-efficient windows in their home."


2. Exterior lighting. Exterior lighting is the most desired outdoor feature by homebuyers, appearing on 92% of wish lists. Your options for exterior lighting include spotlights, walkway lights, and pendant lights. Fixtures range in price between $65 to $132. Exterior lighting will present your home in the best possible light, impressing these potential buyers and increasing overall interest in your home. 

3. Energy-efficient windows. Most homebuyers today care about energy efficiency. Specifically, 90% of them want energy-efficient windows in their new home. A set of energy-efficient windows will drive down the costs for your utilities, improve comfort inside your home, and increase your home's curb appeal.

That's why, whether you are planning on staying in your home for a while or are looking to sell quickly, energy efficient windows are worth considering. In fact, that's true for all of the above projects. If you have any questions about any of these projects or what else you can do to add value to your home before selling, don’t hesitate to give me a call at 703-328-3434 or email me at Janet@TheGreshGroup.com. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Nov. 14, 2018

An Update on Our Fall 2018 Real Estate Market

As we head into fall, we wanted to bring you a closer look at the real estate market. Here’s what you need to know.

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If you've been thinking of selling your home, you'll want to keep listening. Today I’ll show you how to get a significant advantage over a lot of other home sellers in the market today.

First, let me give you a bit of background on the current conditions in the (area) housing market:

1. Mortgage rates have hit a 7-year high. Several weeks ago, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate broke through the 4.6%-mark—the highest level since May 2011. This is part of an ongoing upward trend in mortgage rates, which started over a year ago. In spite of the rate increase, mortgage applications spiked in September. This is a signal that buyers expect rates to go up even more in the near future.

2. Affordability is dropping, and demand might soon follow. For the past several years, home prices have increased at twice the speed of inflation. For a while, this didn't have too much of an effect on the market because there was so much pent-up demand. Affordability is suffering—an estimate from early summer put current home affordability levels at a 10-year low.    


"If you’ve been thinking about selling, the time to act is now."


3. More home sellers are reducing prices. Not surprisingly, the combination of sustained high prices, increasing mortgage rates, and a drop in demand is finally starting to have an impact on the real estate market. More than a quarter of homes listed as of September 16 had a price drop. 

What does this all mean for you? In short, if you've been thinking of selling your home, then the time to act is now. In spite of the easing of demand, there are still many hungry buyers on the market and prices remain near all-time highs. This means you can sell your home quickly and for top dollar.

However, all of the reasons I listed earlier mean this situation might not hold very long. Demand might slack off even more and many more homeowners might decide to enter the market, driving down prices and really ushering in a buyer's market. That's why it can make a lot of sense to move early—before this kind of awareness reaches the majority of homeowners. 

If you want specific information about the current Northern Virginia real estate market, or you're mulling over the idea of buying or selling a home, please give me a call at 703-328-3434 or email me at Janet@TheGreshGroup.com. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Nov. 14, 2018

How Mortgage Rates Are Affecting the Market

The average mortgage rate is at a seven-year high. Is this what’s behind the shift we’re seeing in the market?

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The 30-year fixed mortgage rate currently stands at around 4.77%. That's near a seven-year high, and almost 1% higher than just a year ago. This is the result of a steady rise starting last September and ending this May.


What impact is this having on the real estate market? It's certainly true that affordability is down. In fact, one estimate from June found that home affordability is at a 10-year low. This is translating into fewer home sales, fewer viewings, and fewer mortgage applications.

However, I don't believe that the shifts in the mortgage rate is the primary mover of the changes we're seeing in the real estate market. In fact, even at its current level, the mortgage rate is still historically low.

Instead, the big reason for the changes in the real estate market is the ongoing growth in prices. Over the past several years, home prices have gone up at close to twice the rate of inflation, and have far outstripped the growth of incomes.   


"Over the past several years, home prices have increased at twice the rate of inflation."


The price increases, in turn, have been caused by a lack of inventory, which has been shrinking for the past three years. In my opinion, it’s this lack of inventory (and the resulting hike in prices) that explains most of the effects on the real estate market that I listed above.

If you're looking to sell, you should still have no trouble doing so. Demand continues to outstrip supply, and even with dropping affordability, it's very likely that you would find a buyer quickly and at a top price.

If you're looking to buy, the picture is more complex, because it's so hard to predict what the mortgage rate might do in the near term. One thing we do know is that the severe lack of inventory is unlikely to change any time soon.

If you want specific information about the current Northern Virginia real estate market, or you're mulling over the idea of buying or selling a home, please give me a call at 703-328-3434 or email me at Janet@TheGreshGroup.com. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Nov. 14, 2018

Is Northern Virginia Entering a Buyer’s Market?

After being in a seller’s market for quite some time now, it looks like a shift is on the horizon. Here’s what you can expect.

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After several years of continuous price gains, the real estate market seems to be reaching its price cap. In June, the last month for which we have complete numbers, 14% of all listings saw a price cut. That's up from a low of 11.7% at the end of 2016.

In the same month, housing demand fell 9.6%, the largest decline in over two years. Mortgage applications to purchase a home have decreased as well. 

A few things are at play here. One is rising mortgage rates, which have been steadily climbing for much of this year. Another is an overall decrease in affordability, resulting from a combination of the growth in home prices and mortgage rates. 

If this is the start of a buyer's market, it's unlikely to be just a momentary blip. One sign of this is that homebuilder sentiment has recently fallen to the lowest point in almost a year. In other words, homebuilders are losing confidence in their business due to the aforementioned affordability concerns.   


"This is certainly good news if you're looking to buy a home."


So what does this mean for you?

Well, it's certainly good news if you're looking to buy, because it means you will have more choice at more affordable prices.

On the other hand, if you've been thinking of selling, this might mean that it’s time to act. Listing your home now would give you the best odds of achieving a top price before the change in the market occurs. 
Remember that all real estate is local. There are big differences even within the Northern Virginia area, and prices can change from block to block.

If you want specific information about the current Northern Virginia real estate market, or you're mulling over the idea of buying or selling a home, please give me a call at 703-328-3434 or email me at Janet@TheGreshGroup.com. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

 

 

Nov. 14, 2018

Does Investing in a Starter Home Make Sense?

Investing in a starter home isn’t the right move for every homebuyer. However, this is how many can benefit from one.

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Should you invest in a starter home? Or, is it a better idea to wait and save up for your "forever" home?

First off, let's make sure we are talking about the same thing. Economists often define a "starter home" as being in the lower third of a market's valuation (as opposed to trade-up homes and luxury homes). For many homeowners, however, a starter home is not about price. Instead, it is about how long they plan to stay there.

This is where the dilemma really lies. This is because buying and selling a home, as well as moving in and out, each carry specific expenses. Also, since the bulk of the mortgage payments for those first years go to interest, you are unlikely to build up much equity if you only own the home for a short while.

In fact, according to one estimate, the break-even point for a starter home is somewhere between five to seven years. In other words, if you're planning to stay in the home for just a few years, it might not make sense to buy it in the first place. 

Am I telling you not to buy a starter home? No. There are definitely situations in which a starter home makes perfect sense.   


"A starter home can help you save money and build equity."


For example, if you’re planning on staying put for five or more years, a starter home will save you money on rent and help you build up equity. Purchasing a starter home also makes sense if the home has the potential to become your forever home with the right renovations or additions.

If you are open to keeping the home and renting it out later in case plans change, buying a starter home may be a wise choice in this case, as well.

Ultimately, this will be a decision that is based on your own unique preferences and places. 

When you weigh all of that in, if you do decide that a starter home might make sense for you, then here's something important you should know: The best time to buy a starter home is coming up soon. Fall is the season when starter home inventory peaks and listing prices drop, according to the real estate portal Trulia. This means you will have the most choice, at the most affordable prices.

If you have any questions about the current Northern Virginia real estate market, including whether a starter home is right for your unique circumstances, don't hesitate giving me a call at 703-328-3434 or email me at Janet@TheGreshGroup.com. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Posted in Real Estate