Rising Prices, Low Interest Rates and Declining Inventory

Phew! We here at the Wethman Group are TIRED! It has been a CRAZY month in the real estate market. Multiple offers, bidding wars, and more. We would like to start off by thanking all of YOU for your referrals. Thanks to you, we have 13 settlements this month!

And it’s not just us…many agents are busy right now. Continuing low inventory and record low interest rates are starting to sound like a broken record. Prices rose 8% in the DC metro area, listings available dropped 15%, and days on market dropped 13% in May. June looks to be on a similar path. Even Case-Shiller, which typically lags the market by several months and reflects only single-family home sales, is showing increases in prices for the greater DC area (which includes outlying areas like Frederick, Calvert, Fauquier, and Loudoun Counties, among others). The July market is typically slower, but we will see.

Most of our area is running at about two to three months of inventory, far below the six months we like to see in a balanced market. If you or someone you know is looking to sell, now is the time! I personally have had multiple offers on nearly every listing, and about 75% of the offers we have written for our buyers in the past month are competing against others. Even our DC rental listing had eight applications in just four days and got bids well above the list price!

If you know someone looking to move, please contact us. And if you’re thinking of selling, contact us and we’ll be happy to provide you with a free market analysis of your home and a review of statistics in your local neighborhood.


Inventory, Tax Assesments, and Rising Prices

Well, it looks like more of the same this month: low housing-market inventory and all-time low interest rates. Just in the past week, though, I’ve noticed more homes coming on the market, so the Spring market is upon us.

And we have some good news and some bad news for Arlington homeowners: Property tax assessments are out, and overall, residential values are up 1.8%, with single-family homes showing the largest increase. The area in general has done well—both Northern Virginia and DC were named #3 and #6, respectively, on a list of Top 10 metro areas with the biggest rise in real estate prices. They showed year-over-year list prices increasing 6.06% and 4.34%. The secret is out: DC is the real estate market that defies the odds, according to Time magazine. But our unique combination of a strong job market, lack of foreclosures, and tight inventory is hard to duplicate in other markets.

Thinking of remodeling instead of selling or doing some upgrades to get ready for the market? Check out the Cost vs. Value report to get an idea of payback.

Do you know someone thinking of selling? NOW is the time to start decluttering and consulting with staging professionals. We would love to give someone you know a free analysis of their neighborhood—this market (and our team) needs listings!

If you or someone you know is thinking of starting the home-buying process, please attend our free first-time home buyer class at Arlington Central Library on March 26th at 7:00 pm, and encourage your friends to do the same. You can register here.

If you or someone you know is looking to move, please contact us. And if you’re thinking of selling, contact us and we’ll be happy to provide you with a free market analysis of your home’s value and a review of statistics in your local neighborhood.


Northern Virginia & Washington DC Real Estate Market Update: August 2010

Though August is typically pretty slow, there’s still plenty of buzz in the real estate world, as well as the TV world, where Katie is making her TV debut on an episode of HGTV’s “My First Place.” Be sure to set your DVR to catch the Emmy-worthy performance this Thursday August 5 at 8:00 pm (and repeats in September)!
There’s also buzz about the actual real estate market, of course.  The DC rental market is heating up as vacancies drop, and with the recent stabilization of our housing market, some apartments, including buildings in Adams Morgan, are once again being re-developed into condos (remember 2004, anyone?)
Our local real estate market continues to be one of the most stable in the country, still driven by low unemployment.  The Wall Street Journal published this cool interactive chart that shows DC as 7th in price increase and lowest unemployment in the nation.
Inventory continues to stay low, but there’s also buzz about ‘sidelined sellers’ returning to the market soon.  As the article notes, we’ve recently had about 20 homes per day list, when in past years we’ve had 50, so it would be a good thing for our area to have some more homes on the market.  (Shameless plug: If you or someone you know is thinking about selling, please contact us!)

In other news…

Read the San Francisco Gate article about reasons NOT to buy (no, that’s not a typo) with some commentary by Katie Wethman of the Wethman Group.
In the “practice what you preach” department, I (Katie) recently bought a house! With rates being so fantastic (4.5%-ish, so time to think about refinancing, all you homeowners!), and prices stable, I really do think it’s a great time to buy.  Shameless plug #2: If you or someone you know is thinking of buying, we want to hear from you too!
As always, if we can be of assistance with your real estate needs, or you know someone looking to move, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Washington, DC, & Northern Virginia Real Estate Market Update: July 2010

Summer is upon us, and with it, a slowdown in the market. Though the tax credit certainly has had an impact, it is NOT unexpected to have a slow down in summer. We’ll need to wait another month or so to really compare apples to apples once the May and June data are out. Looking at the Northern Virginia stats for May, though, we can see that once again inventory dropped and contracts went up–even AFTER the credit deadline had passed. Buyers and builders alike are catching on the the steadily dropping supply of homes: UrbanTurf reports the return of apartment-to-condo conversions, and CNN is reporting a possible housing shortage to come.

In other news…

Read the Washington Post article about the difficulties of obtaining financing for certain condo buildings in our area, with some commentary by Katie Wethman of the Wethman Group.

And finally, given our recent heat wave, you may be cringing at those high air conditioning bills — this is a great time to think about some energy efficient upgrades for your home, while you can still take advantage of the tax credits that expire at the end of this year!

Congratulations Arlington on being named the #1 Best City for Families by Parenting Magazine!

As always, if we can be of assistance with your real estate needs, or you know someone looking to move, please don’t hesitate to contact us.


Real Estate Market Update for DC and Northern Virginia – February 2010

Anybody ready for spring yet?  It feels like real estate has been on hold these last few weeks with our multiple blizzards.

Speaking of snow, as we continue the ‘big dig’ out from under the snow, remember these tips to help prevent snow related flooding in you home.  Many homeowners are also dealing with ice dams in gutters, so if you have water suddenly appearing on your walls you may want to read this article.

What does the spring market look like?  I’d expect a big push of inventory to hit the market now that we appear be out from under the storms.  And there are definitely buyers anxiously awaiting that inventory, given the continued lack of resale and even low new construction inventory, as noted here.

Home equity is again on the rise, according to the Fed. These factors, combined with the home buyer tax credit, are still motivating buyers.

On the bad news front, property taxes continue to be some of the highest in the nation, as shown here. There also continues to be buzz about looming potential increases in mortgage rates when the government stops buying mortgage backed securities next month.

More FHA changes regarding condos went into effect February 1, so expect that to have an impact on the condo market — sellers need to be aware that conventional financing may be the more appealing option should you have the choice, and buyers need to be aware that the process just got a whole lot more complex and expensive, at least for some of you.

I’ve scheduled a First Time Home Buyer class for March 3, 2010 at Arlington Central Library.  If you or someone you know is thinking of buying, please contact me to register.  The session is free, but space is limited and registration is required.  The next class is March 24.