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So what is an absorption rate??

When I’m looking at a market to see if it’s leaning toward buyers, sellers — or neither — I look to the absorption rate. This means how long would it take to deplete the inventory at the rate that homes have gone under contract in the last 30 days. (Huh?) Read the rest of this entry »

I can only say – HOW DID IT TAKE SO LONG? One of the best researched articles from the Washington Post on the misleading information that’s found on Zillow<dot>com. Thank you Ken Harney! If

I came up with values with 20% ranges for my sellers, I WOULDN’T HAVE ANY SELLERS! Excuse me, did I just leave the caps button on?? Click Here the article.

I have a plumber in my house fixing a leak that I “thought” I noticed about a week ago. But I let it go. “Naah. It’s not a leak – probably just creekings of a 40-year-old house,” I second thought-ed it. Now – wet floor, carpet and drywall one week later – I realized again – I shouldn’t have waited.

There are plenty of things we shouldn’t wait on. Home maintenance and repair is one of them. Another for real estate professionals is how you treat your business. Work toward the market that’s coming, not in the market you’re in.

We are in a very hot market – low inventory, rising prices, few days on market – sound familiar? The difference this time, though is that there’s no frothing in the market and the appraisers are doing a good job at keeping prices in line. We’re not seeing consistent 10-20% increases in the values.

But – as a professional – work toward the market that’s coming. We know real estate, just like the stock market, runs in cycles. We may be ending this last run-up cycle. For Northern Virginia, we’re still running strong – but that doesn’t mean, keep marketing and working like you’ve been working and marketing the last 10 years.

It’s time to keep your finger on the pulse of pricing even more than before. Watch the inventory closer. Start connecting with your database of relationships consistently and letting them know what’s happening to the market and to their home value.

Note cards, popping by to see folks, and calling them to check in must be a consistent, daily routine for any real estate agent who wants to weather the ups and downs of our industry.

Don’t wait! When you think you should call someone, drop by and see them or send a note – do it!

Here’s my take on the 2016 Presidential Election. Nothing.

Neither candidate would have250433, has had, would have had or ever will have (just trying to get all the tenses in there) an effect on my business plan to help as many investors, purchasers and sellers with their real estate needs as a real estate professional.

Nevertheless- Read the rest of this entry »

As we look at the 2009 real estate market recovery in Northern Virginia, there are various indicators to pull out to demonstrate how hot the market has turned here. The first item to watch is the pending sales. (I know many people want to look at pricing, but the problem with watching pricing is you never know where the bottom is until it bounces back up!)

Pending sales let you know buyers believe prices have hit bottom and are starting to jump off the fence. As pending sales (contracts written) pick up speed, the number of closed sales follow suit. Once sales surpass year-over-year percentages, the media starts jumping on board, officially announcing the market has turned.  Well – we saw the turn last fall (nearly a year ago) and all the numbers have been in a positive run since.

Next – I reported that inventory was hitting lows that would result in higher prices. And that’s exactly what happened. In my last issue of Around Town, I shared with you how the average prices have been moving up now for 7 consecutive months– well, that’s now 8 months straight for the whole region. And that brings us to the final indicator of a turning market, and that would be the Days on Market.

As of July 2009, the average days on market (DOM) for houses sold in Northern Virginia has hit the 60-day mark. The significance of 60 days is that it is half the time it took (120 days) to sell a house at the height of the buyers market, which was in January 2008 (see the chart on the flipside of this newsletter).

So what? What does this mean to you? Well – it doesn’t take much to figure out what’s happening here. Prices hit the bottom for buyers, buyers jumped off the fence, inventory dropped, prices are moving upward and now more buyers are jumping in droves, dipping the time on market.

We are selling more and more regular sales these days – non-foreclosure – and that means regular sellers are moving up to the larger, more updated home since they have plenty of first-timers and move-up buyers in line to buy their home for a profit. The market is tightening up!

Make your move now while there is still plenty of higher-priced inventory available.

Housing markets are turning around all across the country. The way this is measured is first through pending sales and then the following closed sales. By the time the national numbers turned, the recovery had already been happening for months.

Albuquerque is one such city. Prices are still down from last year, but they are now leveling out at around $180,000 (for about 8 months now). The pendings have been increasing for months and now the closed sales are following suit. The same is true for cities such as Las Vegas, Washington DC, Miami, and others.

Are you taking advantage of this advantage as a sales person? Are you getting the word out to your local sphere about what’s happening in the local market place?

The recovery has happened, predictably, in two fashions in the favor of buyers.

1 – While prices dipped, buyers could have named their price and received thousands of dollars back from the seller to buy their home.

We had a phrase of — “what would be the price you just couldn’t walk away from” on this house. The buyer would look it over and say — “Well — if it was $25,000 less, I would buy it.” So that’s what we’d offer – and that’s what they would get. While the market continued it’s slide, buyers got ahead of the drop and “stole” houses all over the country. To the shagrin of banks and owners, the buyers pulled in discounts in the hundreds of thousands. The agents who knew how to forecast that drop, helped buyers save a ton of money and made good incomes through the process.

2 – The cost of money kept dropping and then Uncle Sam started throwing in money to boost morale and buyer interest.

In the home-purchase process, buyers have to buy two huge commodities — the house – of course, everyone knows that. They keep waiting for the price to drop to the bottom and THEN jump in and buy. But you have to also look at that second product – the money.

The cost of money is measured in the interest rate and the points paid for such interest rates. This year, buyers have picked up money for interest rates as low as 4% – those are rates that my grandparents never saw!

So we have low prices and low interest rates. Did you pick up on that as the sales pro? More importantly – did you get your buyers on board and off the fence?

If you wanted to have predicted the come-back, then a look at sales on a state-by-state level would have been a good place to start. The media looks only at price. A very foolish move. A recovery begins when the buyers return – much sooner than when prices start upward.

On this table from Realtor.org you can see that the hardest hit states (California, Nevada, Arizona, Florida, Virginia) have now had the best quarters (up 100%+ in some markets).

Yea – we hit the bottom alright. Get ready for the bounce.

I was looking over the supply of houses on the market this week in Fairfax County, Virginia and it’s really getting dangerously low. Compared to May of 2008, we have 55% fewer homes on the market – and 20% more contracts written on them.

That leaves home buyers with only a 7-week supply of houses and it’s getting smaller. Officially – we’re in a sellers’ market. For pocket markets (townships, subdivisions, etc.) it’s as hot a market as it was in the peek of 2005-2006 – it’s just that the prices are much lower. Ergo – the opportunity. If you’ve ever heard about buy low, sell high – now is the time to buy low.

The same is true across the country. Pending sales are up all over Florida, in Seattle, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, you name it, and buyers are coming off the fence like they were stung by a bumble bee!

For a macro look at how this can benefit you – consider the suburban Washington DC market of Fairfax Countty. If you are sitting in a house purchased in 2000 or earlier, you’re most likely sitting on a lot of equity that could enable you to move up to a larger home with the upgrades you’ve wanted but couldn’t afford.

I know – this sounds like a sales pitch – but frankly – it’s just the simple truth. Sellers and buyers have a unique opportunity to purchase a house at prices that have been backed up several years and at interest rates not seen for decades (currently in the mid-5% range).

In fact – we haven’t seen these kind of rates since they’ve been tracking them at Freddie Mac (http://www.freddiemac.com/pmms/pmms30.htm).

The average price of a 4BR, 2BA house in Springfield, VA, for instance, sold for $235,665 10 years ago. Today, that same house sells at $371,549. While this price is down from the last five recent years, the pricing has leveled and starting to rise in pocket markets throughout Northern Virginia.

And if you’re wondering if the market has turned around consider this – the average days on market for that house in Springfield is down to 18 days. That is not a misprint – NOT 180 Days, but 18 Days – a little over 2 weeks. Many other towns in the area are in the same situation.

So what?

  • Inventory is beginning its dip downward because buyers are coming off the fence, the foreclosure rate in the Northern Virginia area has been cut nearly in half (see www.CRA-GMU.org) and
  • Regular owners have not yet decided to place their homes on the market yet.
  • We are experiencing multiple offers (7 – 10 is not unusual, we’ve seen upwards to 35)
  • Escalation offers are back – one of my team members lost a bid after escalating $75,000!

Just remember DON’T MAKE A LOCAL DECISION BASED ON NATIONAL INFORMATION!

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