The Wethman Group’s Real Estate News – March 2020

March 2020
Wow – what a few weeks it’s been! I know the world seems upside down right now, and the real estate market is no exception. Interestingly, it doesn’t seem to have slowed down all that much—yet. Generally we’ve been seeing some people pull back because of the fear of recession and stock market drops, but there are still plenty of buyers out there who see this as a window of opportunity for negotiation. Sellers still want to sell, and are generally moving forward with listing unless they are in a high risk group for Covid-19. Agents are adjusting their business practices, however, and the Wethman Group is no exception. Here are some of the changes we’ve made to deal with the current situation, and changes we’re seeing in the marketplace:
–         We’re generally advising against open houses, as most serious buyers will make appointments with their agent, and are looking to avoid crowds themselves. As a result, we’re listing properties earlier in the week (Monday/Tuesday) and not necessarily waiting until the weekend for offers. We’re seeing drops in foot traffic across the board, but a big increase in online views. It’s more important than ever to stage and have excellent photographs when listing.
–         Given that more people are working remotely from home, we are looking to capitalize on that trend by providing online 3D tours and/or video tours as well as floorplans to capture more views, and make sure that buyers who make appointments already have a pretty good idea of whether the house will work for them.
–         On the occasion that we do host an open house, we will be providing a hand washing station and/or sanitizer, booties and gloves, and eliminating sign in methods that use shared pens. We’re also considering Facebook Live open houses, and open houses ‘by appointment’ to limit the number of people in a home at one time.
–         We’re moving nearly all of our buyer consultations and listing appointments to online as a first step in the process, rather than in person meetings. We’ve been using GoToMeeting for years now, so this is simply an expansion of our current option to meet online. We will also be leveraging Skype, Zoom, Facetime and similar tools for listing appointments that may require us to “look” around the house as well.
–         The economic situation has indeed given some buyers pause, especially if they were significantly invested in the market. But buyers who are confident in their job security are pressing ahead, and see this as a short term external shock to the economy, which will (eventually) rebound when the crises has passed. Don’t be surprised if we see a higher than usual number of ‘under contract’ properties fall out of contract status and go back on the market as the situation evolves.
–         Rates, while extremely volatile day to day, continue to be near historic lows. It’s important to note that the Fed Funds Rate, recently slashed to near zero, is not directly correlated to mortgage rates, however. Look to the 10 year Treasury as an indicator. It’s still a great time to refinance (depending on the day).
The market situation is evolving daily, and we’re here to help answer any questions about where we see the real estate market headed, and what works best for your current situation. It’s going to be a wild ride, but at some point things will settle down. Please reach out if we can help!
helpful_tips_abstract.jpg
We’re starting a new feature: Tips and tricks for all things related to home buying, selling, and owning! Need some advice on something specific? Just contact us!
Homeowners: With warm weather on the horizon, it’s a great time to do outside maintenance and schedule any outdoor repairs. Small business owners like handyman services, painters, power washers, etc are all eager for work–support your local small business in this time of need if you can!
Home Sellers: Don’t think that the market has stopped simply due to the current situation. We’re seeing big jumps in online traffic, so it’s more important than ever to have properties staged, with excellent photos, floorplans, and 3D tours/video walk-throughs available. To make buyers (and yourself) more comfortable, set up a hand washing station, along with gloves and booties.
Home Buyers: If you were planning to use retirement funds or portfolio investments as your down payment, you need to check on your valuation–as painful as that may be right now. It may be worthwhile to take out a larger loan (e.g., 95% LTV instead of 80% or 90%) so that you don’t have to ‘lock in’ the current losses.
UPCOMING HOME BUYER ‘GETTING STARTED’ WEBINAR
man_scratches_head.jpg
Not sure if you still want to buy in 2020? Wondering what Covid 19 means in terms of inventory and pricing?
Join our next home buying webinar, scheduled for Wednesday, March 25 at 7:00 pm. Contact us for login details!
As always, if we can ever help with your
real estate needs,
please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Wethman Group Perks: Power Washers
We may not be able to host ‘parties’, but we can still enjoy the outdoors — wash away winter grime by using one of our power washers, and enjoy the sunshine to come. Available to all clients to borrow FREE! Contact us: wgperks@wethmangroup.com for more info.
We’re happy to help with all your residential and commercial real estate needs throughout the DC metro area. Remember to Like us on Facebook for market updates and real estate tips!
We have a nationwide network of quality agents–let us know if you or someone you know needs a referral to another city.
Share

The Wethman Group’s Real Estate News – February 2020

February 2020
Bidding wars and sight-unseen offers…what is going on out there?!
Left: Months of Supply of Inventory in DC reach expected annual lows in Dec, Jan.
Our inventory crisis (< 1 month supply in Northern Virginia, and < 2 month supply in DC — see charts above and below) continues, and is being exacerbated as a result of some unintended consequences of the regional MLS’s new “Coming Soon” policy.
For those that don’t know, starting Feb 1, the MLS imposes fines of $5000 on any agent who publicly markets a listing as Coming Soon more than 24 hours in advance of it going active in the MLS IF they are allowing showings; for properties that can’t be shown, they can still be publicly advertised. As a result, some agents are no longer posting these types of listings on Zillow and similar sites, and aren’t posting signs in the yards, but continue to advertise via word-of-mouth and through 1:1 conversations with agents. So it’s more important than ever to have an experienced, well-connected buyer agent! For “coming soon” properties that are NOT allowing showings (and thus in compliance with the new policy), we’ve seen multiple instances where buyers are making offers even though they haven’t seen the inside–and waiving contingencies too!
For properties that are in excellent condition, we’re also seeing bidding wars in Arlington and DC already–in one case, our client bid on a $1M Logan Circle condo that went for 10%+ over list with no contingencies. All 6 offers were at least $75k over list price. Of course, sometimes this is the sellers’ strategy, as in the case of this Falls Church house, listed at $799k, but valued at $870k, which received 37 offers and sold for $969k. We personally saw a home in Annandale priced about $50k above the recent comparable properties, and it sold another $30k higher than that with NO contingencies. We expect to see even more homes going for well above their estimated values–be careful out there, buyers!
Below: Months of Supply of Inventory in Northern Virginia reach expected annual lows in Dec, Jan.
helpful_tips_abstract.jpg
We’re starting a new feature: Tips and tricks for all things related to home buying, selling, and owning! Need some advice on something specific? Just contact us!
Homeowners: Now is a great time to refinance! Rates are extremely low, and spring sales comps are high to aid in valuations (very helpful to try to get to 20%+ down to eliminate any PMI!)
Home Sellers: While painting and staging is great bang-for-your-buck, don’t forget about ‘staging’ your entryway! Buyers and agents are there for a few minutes while the agent deals with the lockbox, and you want your buyer to be admiring how clean, fresh, and well-lit the area is. Clean away winter grime and put out some hardy potted plants that can survive overnight low temps.
Home Buyers: As discussed in our main article above, the new prohibition on public “Coming Soon” advertising is having some unintended consequences and has led to hidden inventory. Contact us to find out how to access some secret sources!
BEST OF ARLINGTON WINNER!
THANK YOU for voting our team one of the “Best of Arlington” for 2020 in Arlington Magazine! See us in the January/February issue on news stands now and read our profile online here.
Here’s a quick excerpt:
What’s an example of something in your professional life that you’re particularly proud of?
I’m most proud of the outstanding team that we’ve built. Everyone approaches each client as if we’re taking care of our own family, and we give honest advice even if it means that we don’t get any immediate business. We’re confident that by doing the right thing, our business will continue to grow.
IN OTHER NEWS…
creditcards_scatter_laptop.jpg
Credit Score Changes
Credit score changes are coming. Starting this summer, FICO will use a new scoring algorithm that is harsher on missed payments and debt levels. On the plus side, if a missed payment is more than 1 year old, the consumer could see a slight increase in score. These changes primarily affect consumer debt, not mortgage algorithms, but it’s important to be aware when checking your own credit score–don’t make assumptions about your ability to qualify based on what you think your score is.
Need help with your credit score? Our lenders have specialists who can talk through strategy with you. Just contact us for a recommendation!
VIDEO: GETTING STARTED WITH YOUR HOME SEARCH
Buying in 2020?
Catch our brief video on getting started with your home search and learn more about working with us!
Starting Your Home Search with the Wethman Group
As always, if we can ever help with your
real estate needs,
please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Wethman Group Perks: 10×10 Canopy Tent
Hosting a spring party but worried about the weather? Borrow our folding canopy tent to keep the rain (or bright sun) off! Available to all clients to borrow FREE! Contact us: wgperks@wethmangroup.com for more info.
We’re happy to help with all your residential and commercial real estate needs throughout the DC metro area. Remember to Like us on Facebook for market updates and real estate tips!
We have a nationwide network of quality agents–let us know if you or someone you know needs a referral to another city.
Share

The Wethman Group’s Real Estate News – January 2020

January 2020
The “Season” Has Come Early…
I know it sounds crazy, but the Spring real estate market has already arrived. Yes, in January! Frustrated buyers from 2019 never stopped looking and homes that are going on the market are selling NOW, often with multiple bids. For sellers with a home that has some ‘flaws’ that may make them compare unfavorably to competition in Spring (i.e., busy road, a fixer upper, outdated features), this is the perfect time to get on the market as quickly as possible. Buyers, you need to start looking NOW — don’t wait til Spring when other buyers are ALL out; we’re not expecting huge jumps in inventory this year, and interest rates remain at historic lows.
BEST OF ARLINGTON WINNER!
THANK YOU for voting our team one of the “Best of Arlington” for 2020 in Arlington Magazine! See us in the January/February issue on news stands now and read our profile online here.
Here’s a quick excerpt:
What’s an example of something in your professional life that you’re particularly proud of?
I’m most proud of the outstanding team that we’ve built. Everyone approaches each client as if we’re taking care of our own family, and we give honest advice even if it means that we don’t get any immediate business. We’re confident that by doing the right thing, our business will continue to grow.
IN OTHER NEWS…
The “Beltway” vis a vis HQ2’s Impact
Greater Greater Washington had a great story looking at the size of our DC Beltway superimposed onto other cities. Check out the story here. Looking at their maps, the Seattle map was particularly interesting given Amazon HQ2 and its impact on our market. Seattle’s equivalently sized “Beltway” (pictured at left) is mostly water, and has some pretty serious commuting bottlenecks, which, combined with their heavy concentration of jobs at Amazon, resulted in their crazy real estate market as Amazon grew. Our area looks very different both in terms of geographic advantages as well as the ability to absorb a high number of jobs more easily. On a related note, we enjoyed reading ARLNOW’s column with a deep dive into HQ 2 zip code 22202 statistics (and Part II here). Be sure to follow our updates at our National Landing Account on Instagram here!
Confused about how it will impact buying or selling in Arlington? Contact us for more info!
WETHMAN GROUP VIDEO: FIVE MISTAKES SELLERS MAKE
Selling in 2020?
Catch our 30 minute video presentation (at right) on Five Mistakes Home Sellers Make, and contact us to discuss market conditions and your strategy.
5 Mistakes Home Sellers Make - Katie Wethman ('94)
As always, if we can ever help with your real estate needs,
please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Wethman Group Perks: Moving Truck
Need to drop off donations? Do you need a truck for a charity event?Picking up new furniture? Use our truck locally (free of charge) if you are a past or current client (or referred a client). Contact us: wgperks@wethmangroup.com for more info.
We’re happy to help with all your residential and commercial real estate needs throughout the DC metro area. Remember to Like us on Facebook for market updates and real estate tips!
We have a nationwide network of quality agents–let us know if you or someone you know needs a referral to another city.
Share

The Wethman Group’s Real Estate News – December 2019

December 2019
Market Update & Year in Review
As expected, the market activity has dropped now that it’s December, but it’s been a very active year for our team and the real estate market in general. Looking back at 2019, here are some key takeaways about our current market:
  • We saw a further drop (again!) in inventory, which contributed to bidding wars starting in Spring and continuing throughout the year. (See chart with 5 year trend above.) This was exacerbated by the hype surrounding last November’s Amazon announcement, but the inventory crises was in place well before the announcement.
  • HQ2 has had limited impact on our area–mostly the hype value–so far, with only a few hundred new hires at its new Arlington “National Landing” location. Disappointed investors have not found any deals on residential rental properties, but commercial developers are quickly working to bring apartments online in the coming years. There are still a few pockets that our team loves for potential upside though, so contact us if you’re thinking of buying in that corridor.
  • Interest rates dropped across 2019, further motivating buyers to drive up prices. 30 year fixed rate mortgages averaged 4.75% back in January, and are currently at 3.68%.
  • The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2019 seemed to have minimal impact on buyers’ decision making, despite the disadvantageous new rules about state and local tax deductions.
  • November saw a change in our local MLS’s rules about “Coming Soon” advertising, with significant fines to take effect starting February 1 for agents who advertise off MLS for more than 24 hours. This has the potential to significantly alter the way buyers search for homes, and having a well-connected team of agents to find opportunities is more important than ever!
New 2020 Conforming Loan Limits and Changes to VA Loans
The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) recently announced its new loan limits for 2020. The new (regular) conforming loan amount impacts nearly every part of the US, and was raised to $510,400. In higher cost cities, which includes the DC Metro area, the new conforming loan limit is $765,600.
The Veterans Administration has also updated their lending requirements for 2020, and there will no longer be a cap on the amount a veteran can borrow, subject to their income qualification criteria. There is an increase in the funding fee, but all Purple Heart recipients are now eligible for a waiver of the funding fee.
Buying in 2020?
Now is the time to discuss timing, strategy, and financing options. There are good values to be had if you know where to look. Contact us for a consultation, and catch our video “5 Mistakes Home Buyers Make” here.
Madison Network Webinar- Katie Wethman ('94)- 5 Mistakes Home Buyers Make
Thinking of Selling in 2020? It takes time to prep a house–don’t wait for Spring to reach out for a no-obligation meeting! Our team is looking to get a jump on the Spring market and is currently setting up consultation appointments for January and February. We’re offering special financial and staging incentives for sellers who meet and sign with us before the end of February for a Spring 2020 listing—if you or someone you know is thinking of selling next year, please contact us to book an appointment!
As always, if we can ever help with your real estate needs,
please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Wishing you all very merry holidays and a happy new year!
HOME CARE CORNER
Winter is officially here! If you haven’t turned off your hose bibs, now is the time! Click here for details: Hose Bib Shutoff Instructions.
CLIENT APPRECIATION EVENTS
THANK YOU to all of our clients that attended Pie Day and Breakfast at the Movies with Santa! We loved seeing you! We appreciate you supporting our business all year long with your referrals of friends and family.
Wethman Group Perks: Moving Truck
Need to drop off donations? Do you need a truck for a charity event?Picking up new furniture? Use our truck locally (free of charge) if you are a past or current client (or referred a client). Contact us: wgperks@wethmangroup.com for more info.
We’re happy to help with all your residential and commercial real estate needs throughout the DC metro area. Remember to Like us on Facebook for market updates and real estate tips!
We have a nationwide network of quality agents–let us know if you or someone you know needs a referral to another city.
Share

The Wethman Group’s Real Estate News – November 2019

November 2019
November marks 1 year since the Amazon HQ2 announcement, so we thought this would be a good time to explore the residual effects to come from this important decision.
In securing the deal, Amazon promised between 25,000 to 37,850 jobs coming over 15 years as a result of the new headquarters. As a point of reference, the DC Metro area brings in 34,000 jobs on average annually. Since the announcement, the corporation has worked to fulfill its promise to hire 400 employees in 2019, and has thus far filled about 200 of those spaces. According to the Washington Business Journal, Amazon should reach its target with the number of workers already hired with a start date before the final day of 2019. Amazon is expected to break ground on phase one of its new headquarters in 2020, which includes two 22-story office buildings in Pentagon City with about 67,000 square feet of ground-floor retail and 2.1 million square feet of office space in National Landing.
There was an enormous amount of hype surrounding the announcement for the first 6 months that has quieted in the latter part of 2019. Investors came to area immediately after looking to find a great deal for a cash-flow positive investment property and many were disappointed to find it difficult with high housing prices in the area. That said, with more buyers scouting in the area and already low inventory, competition has only increased throughout 2019. In the long term, we still believe housing impacts from Amazon HQ2 will be dispersed throughout the area and evolve as Amazon employees fill positions over the next decade or more. National Landing’s status as a new ‘it’ location has affected some pockets of relative affordability in South Arlington and inventory in and around Pentagon City, Crystal City, and Potomac Yard rarely sits on the market for long and is a competitive bid.
Local universities, including Virginia Tech (VT), George Mason University (GMU), the University of Maryland (UMD), and more, have already started work on expanding campuses, building new facilities near the Amazon HQ2 headquarters, and adding focuses of study and courses to provide a tech pipeline of students who can fill much of the future job demand from Amazon HQ2. GMU recently announced plans to expand their Arlington Campus with the Institute for Digital Innovation facility to focus on tech studies, and UMD is expected to open a research and event space in Crystal City called the Discovery Center. VT plans to build a Tech Innovation Campus near the new headquarters to accommodate 750 new computer science master’s students and hundreds more postdoctoral fellows.
We have seen housing prices increase this year, but still believe the major driver behind this is a lack of inventory that has gotten worse year-over-year. In addition, many homeowners held out on selling in the early part of 2019 in hopes to see even greater equity increases, further compounding the inventory shortage. A heavy sellers’ market has been the norm for a while now in the greater DC Metro area, making a competitive and difficult environment for buyers. According to the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors, total home sales are up from last year and our team’s buyers have still found good options so don’t let this influence your decision to purchase a home in the coming year.
If you are considering buying or selling contact us to discuss your strategy.

Client Appreciation Event: Thanksgiving Pie!

Reminder: Our annual Thanksgiving Pie Giveaway is underway for clients! Clients: if you didn’t receive your postcard or email link, please contact us! As always, we are so grateful for your support of our team with your business and your referrals. We look forward to seeing all our clients at our event!
p.s. Breakfast at the Movies with Santa invites are also out, so keep an eye out for your RSVP link or contact us!
Picking up new furniture? Need a truck for a charitable event? Use our truck locally (free of charge) if you are a past or current client. Contact us: wgperks@wethmangroup.com for more info.
We’re happy to help with all your residential and commercial real estate needs throughout the DC metro area. Remember to Like us on Facebook for market updates and real estate tips!
We have a nationwide network of quality agents–let us know if you or someone you know needs a referral to another city.
Share