If you’ve wondered what’s the difference between a split level and a split foyer, then you’ve come to the right place, ‘cause that’s what we’re talking about today and we’re starting right now.
My name is Harry Moore and I’m a 25-year veteran real estate agent in the Washington DC Metro Area. If you’d like to see my YouTube video on this, click the image below. If you are interested in seeing the content of these blog posts in video format, please subscribe to my channel!
Right now, I’ll take on another pair of real estate terms that seem to regularly confuse people, split level vs. split foyer houses. Both designs were mostly built in the mid 1950’s through the late 1960’s. They have different names in other parts of the country. In some areas split levels are called “ tri-levels” and Split Foyers are called Raised Ranchers.
In a split level house you usually have two sections of the house , one rectangular and one square. They normally have 3-4 levels, but you’ll sometimes see 5 and I’ve even seen 6 level splits a few times. You’ll generally walk in on the main level, with the living rm Dining room and kitchen on that level, then immediately to one side are two short sets of stairs, one that goes up to the bedrooms and one that goes down to the family room, other bedrooms and utility space. Often there is another level down which is a full below grade basement.
A split foyer is usually a 2 level rectangularly shaped house with the entry door and small foyer between the two levels of living space. So immediately when you walk in you’ll either go up to the living/dining/ kitchen and most of the bedrooms or down to family room, other bedrooms and utility space.
If you’re interested in other mid century style houses (like bilevels or maybe ramblers) reach out, my contact information is below, and I’ll set up a custom search for you.
My name is Harry Moore and I want to say thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you know someone, maybe a friend or neighbor, who might benefit from this information, please share this link with them. Make it a great day!
You’re wondering what’s happening with Kensington Maryland Real Estate these days, you’ve come to the right place, ‘cause that’s what we’re talking about today. My name is Harry Moore and I’m a full time veteran real estate agent in the Washington DC Metro Area. If you’d like to see this in video format please click the image below!
I’ve been out previewing a few houses on my way to the office, including this new listing at 11410 Soward Drive in Kensington. It’s a fixer upper in Kensington Knolls that backs to woods so the view out the back is really nice. If you’re interested in seeing the interior pictures, click on the image below and check it out, and if you’d like to arrange a showing, my contact information is below.
One of the questions that I get all of the time is “ hows the market”? If you’re curious about what’s going on with Kensington Maryland home sales, then stick around for the next few minutes for an up to the minute snapshot of the Kensington Maryland Real Estate Market. So let’s get going!
First we’ll look at the current numbers for July and the year to date numbers
This year- 16
New listings are down 47%
Total Active listings
Total active listings are down 40%
Under contract properties are down 33%If you are getting your updates from Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com or any of the other portal sites then many of the listings you are seeing may not even be available.
If you want up to the minute data, then contact your agent and have them set up an update for you that’s coming directly from the Multiple Listing Service, it’s the primary source that feeds all of the portal sites, why not get it direct?
Another benefit of a direct MLS search, is that you can see coming soon listings, so if you want to know about listings when they are being “pre-marketed” on the MLS then you’ll need to have your agent set that up for you.
Now let’s take a quick look at the Year To Date numbers
Number of sold properties
Average Sales Price
Average Days on Market
If you’ve got a house on the market and it’s not selling, maybe it’s been on the market for longer than 51days and you’d like to figure out how to get your house sold, then check out my video about the 4 things you need to do to get your house that’s already on the market sold.
There’s another number that I like to watch, the properties that failed to sell. In August, 12 properties failed to sell. Although some of those probably came back on the market, it reminds us that, even in a strong seller’s market, not every house sells.
2 other numbers that I keep an eye on are the absorption rate and the list to sell ratio.
What’s absorption rate? -Take the average number of sales over the past 12 months and divide that into the active properties, that tells you how long it’d take for all of the houses in your market to sell if nothing else came on the market. By using a 12 month average that takes seasonal market cycles into account .
If you know the number of months of inventory that helps to determine what sort of market you are in.
0-4 months is a sellers market
4-6 is a transitional market
6+ is a buyers market
Kensington had 1.12 months of inventory at the end of August, that’s down from 1.29 months at the end of July. Part of that is seasonal, August is the end of the spring and summer season, and lots of people are at the beach, or wherever they go to get away.
How much the average home sells for as a percentage of the asking price. This is another good indicator of what sort of market you are in. Higher list to sell ratio means a sellers market. A lower ratio points to a buyers market. The list to sell ratio for August was 97.9%.
What does this all mean??
The big news is that the shelves are pretty bare. Inventory continues to sink, 1.12 months of inventory is the lowest number since March of 2018. Demand has remained strong, with average days on market dropping year over year. The gap in average sales price Year over Year from 2018 has narrowed substantially. Prices were actually down a bit over July, but still are well above the numbers last year. So, it’s a good time to sell. If you know anyone who’s thinking about selling, I’d appreciate the opportunity to speak with them about how I can help them to capitalize on this strong seller’s market.
This is all big picture data, which is good to have, but real estate is very local, and you can see big variations in the market based on price range and specific location. If you’re thinking about getting into the market, either as a buyer or a seller and would like a detailed neighborhood-specific analysis my contact information is below, just reach out and I’ll get right back to you.
If you know someone, maybe a friend or neighbor, who might benefit from this information, please share this article with them. Make it a great day!
My name is Harry Moore and I’m a realtor in the Washington DC Metro Area. If you’ve got a house on the market and it’s not selling, maybe it’s been on the market for a while and you’re starting to get nervous, then it’s time for you to take a look at what needs to be done to get your house sold.
If you’d like to see this in video format, please click the image below!
There are four things that sell homes- location, condition, presentation and price. Let’s go through each of them and examine how they affect the ability to sell your house.
Location- Not much to do here, unless you’re going to pick the house up and move it, but make sure that when you’re looking at the competition and what’s going on in the market that you’re focused on properties in comparable locations.
Condition- You really need to take a good hard look at how your house will look to someone who’s never seen it before. Take off your seller glasses and put on your buyer glasses.
It’s human nature to get used to the “quirks” of your house when you see them every day, but buyers have fresh eyes, and they’ll react very differently.
Once you’ve taken a survey of the condition of the house with your buyer’s eyes, then put together a list of things that need to be addressed. Think about your budget and how much time you have to get these things done.
Now, take a look at the competition.
Take a look at other properties that are on the market right now that buyers are looking at and comparing to yours, and see how your house stacks up.
Remember those seller glasses, take ‘em off!!
You can view a lot of your competition online, but it’s even better if you contact your agent and go look at some of them in person.
Once you’ve put together your list of condition items and done a survey of the competition, then you can decide what needs to be done to make sure your house is putting it’s best foot forward.
Have a frank conversation with your agent about the pros and cons of the different alternatives and put together a plan that makes sense for you.
Next, take a look at the presentation of your property. Does your listing have professional photographs? Has the property been staged to show it’s best? Is there a 3D and or video tour available?
I am a big fan of Matterport 3D tours. I think they are a great way for people to get a really good sense of your house and how everything fits together. You can start with the “dollhouse” view so that you know where everything fits together, and then zoom in to the individual rooms and walk around.
Next, what sort of social media marketing campaign is being used? How does your listing appear on the portal sites? Is it the same as what’s showing up on the MLS? Sometimes it isn’t and that may need to be fixed.
Once you’ve addressed condition and presentation and made adjustments, then take a good hard look at the price.
It’s not a conversation that anyone looks forward to, but it’s an important one to have. The market moves quickly, and you don’t want to be left behind.
Have your agent gather the current market data, and set up a time to review it with ‘em. Think about your goals, why you are selling your home, and focus on what needs to be done to move you towards that.
So now you’ve learned the 4 things that you need to review address if your house isn’t selling.
My name is Harry Moore and I want to say thank you for taking the time to read this post.
If you know someone, maybe a friend or neighbor, who might benefit from this information, please share this article with them. Make it a great day!
If you want to learn more about this topic in video format, please click the image below!
You’ve done lots of hard work to get your house ready and now it’s on the market and lickety split. You get an offer. If you’re wondering what to do next, then you’ve come to the right place.
My name is Harry Moore and I’m a realtor in the Washington DC metro area. Today, we’ll talk about what it means when an offer comes in quickly and the things that you can do to be prepared. If an offer comes in quickly, many sellers hesitate to work with it because they think that means there are more buyers out there and if they wait, they’ll get something better. There’s an old saying in the real estate business that the first offer is the best offer and I found that to be true most of the time in any segment of the market at any given time, there’s a pool of buyers that are ready, willing, and able to purchase real estate. I like to call them ripe buyers.
They’ve been out there, they’ve seen what’s available. Maybe they’ve written a couple of offers on other properties that didn’t work out and they’re ready to buy. Those are the people whose attention we want to get. We’re not really interested in buyers that are just getting started or looky-loos or nosy neighbors. The real estate market isn’t static. It’s not as quick to move as the stock market, but the dynamics do change and there’s always a push pull of market forces that you as a seller need to be aware of and prepared for. It’s key to lay out a plan from the very beginning so that you’re aware of what the different scenarios might be and if there is a clear process about how to deal with offers when they come in. I break this down into two components, paperwork and Intel. First we’ll talk about paperwork.
One thing that I like to do to help my seller clients be prepared is to review the contract forms with them ahead of time. That way, they’re familiar with the 20 to 30 pages of terms, conditions and disclosures. That’ll come at them as part of the offer that helps them be able to focus on the offer itself, instead of digesting all of the legal ease. I know that it’s a little passe in this era of email and text messaging, but I really like to get on the phone to gather my intel first. I try to gather feedback from agents who’ve shown the property so that the sellers can have some sense about what the market is saying about their home. It’s not easy to get. Most people don’t answer their phones and they don’t return voicemail messages, but I find that the quality of feedback that I am able to get from those who do respond is much better than what comes back from automated email or texts requests.
Second, I talked to the buyer’s agent. When an offer comes in, this helps to understand where the buyer stands, what experience they’ve had in the market, and if this is their first offer that they’ve written, how long they’ve been in the market, other things that are important background information for me to share with my sellers. It’s also good to get a read on what sort of personality the agent has. All of that helps me to give my client perspective about how they want to respond. Today’s real estate market is momentum driven. I like to use the analogy of surfing. If you’ve ever been to the ocean and Gone Body Surfing or regular surfing, you know what I mean? It’s that feeling of catching the wave versus the wave roll in right past you as a seller. You don’t want to miss that wave of early market momentum.
That’s when you have the most control. The market’s been pretty brisk for a number of years and in many market segments, a number of listings go into contract in the first week. Savvy buyers know that and they look at the properties that have been on the market for awhile and say what’s wrong with it and can I get a deal that’s, which can flip pretty quickly depending on the market. We want a buyer who’s looking to please not looking to negotiate. Some strategies to help be prepared when an offer comes in early. First, understanding the paperwork before offers come in. Second background information about the market, showing feedback and the background on the buyer and the buyer’s agents. All of this will help you to be in a good position to respond.
If you know someone, maybe a friend or neighbor or family member who might benefit from this information, please share this post with them. Make it a great day!
You’ve got a contract on your house, and you’re wondering about what to expect from a home inspection. If you’d like some home inspection tips for sellers, you’ve come to the right place, ‘cause that’s what we’re talking about today, and we’re starting right now! My name is Harry Moore and I am a realtor in the Washington DC Metro Area and I post new videos every week about all things real estate in the DMV.
If you’d like to view my YouTube video on this topic, click the image below
Whew, you’ve got a contract on your house. Congratulations! Now you can relax, well…not quite yet. Once they have a contract, most people tend to lighten up a little. That’s natural, and I’m not saying that you need to keep your house “ show ready” but there are still a few more hurdles to overcome before you get to settlement.
In this episode of the series on home selling tips we’ll talk about the home inspection . For many sellers it can be almost as stressful as having their house on the market.Today I’ll share a list of some simple tactics that you can use to avoid potential issues and keep things moving along as smoothly and possible towards settlement.
If you’d like some great tips on other parts of the home selling process, from thinking about curb appeal all the way to settlement, then click the link above, or check the notes below to access other videos in the home selling series. Enough of that, let’s jump right in.
1.)Try to keep the house looking tidy. It doesn’t have to be as spotless as you kept it when it was on the market, but don’t let it slide back to the way you live normally. Spend 15-30 minutes the morning of the home inspection cleaning it up a bit. Remember this will be the first time that the buyers have been in the house since the contract was accepted. They’ll be excited and a little nervous. You want them to be happy and feel reassured when they walk in the door.
2.)People won’t be surprised if you’ve started packing, just try to keep the boxes away from the walls, especially in the basement and garage if you have one. Stack things neatly in the middle of the room. Inspectors are usually more interested in the stuff that’s along the walls; plugs and pipes and such, so keeping your things towards the middle will enable them to see what they need to. This doesn’t mean you have to move furniture, just don’t have stacks of boxes backed right up against the walls.
3.)Keep the utility area clear of clutter and easily accessible- A lot of times people have all sorts of things stored around the furnace and hot water heater. Keeping those areas clear for the inspector so they can access those systems easily will keep the inspection moving along smoothly. Inspectors generally can’t move personal items for insurance and liability reasons. If they’re not able to access the major systems, then the issue of a reinspection could come up, and you’d rather avoid that if at all possible.
4.)Make sure that all appliances which convey with the house are plugged in and operating, so they can be tested. That includes things like fans on fireplace inserts, spare fridges or freezers and other things like that.
5.)This might seem a little silly, but make sure you don’t have any burnt out lightbulbs, especially in hard to access light fixtures. It’ll keep the inspector from noting it in their report and suggesting an electrician come out to confirm the fixture is working.
6.)Make sure your toilets are functioning properly. Often people get used to the “personality” of their toilets when they live in the house, the fact that you have to jiggle the handle, or that it’s slow to refill…things like that. But the inspector and the buyers won’t be. Sometimes there is a toilet that does not get much use, maybe in a basement bathroom. Check it and make sure it’s working.
7.)Change your HVAC air filter and dust off the return grills. Dirty filters are a sure sign of deferred maintenance, and that’s a big red flag for one of the more expensive systems in the house.
8.)Check the roof and gutters. Clogged gutters, or even worse gutters that have plants growing in them are not good. Also check the roof for fallen branches and other debris.
9.)Make sure that all keys and remotes are available and working, and that any out of the way places such as crawl spaces and sheds are easily accessible. It’s human nature to fear the unknown. If they can see everything the first time, they’ll feel better about the whole house.
10.)Provide any documentation for substantial upgrades, or repairs and major maintenance items so that the buyers and the inspector can see them. That will help them to understand what you’ve done to maintain your home. A classic example is if you’ve had major work done to your furnace. The inspector might look at the outside of the unit and say that it looks old, but you might have replaced the heat exchanger or the condensor recently. That could influence their opinion about the remaining life of the unit.
Sometimes sellers want to be at the inspection. That’s generally not a good idea. The buyers want to feel comfortable in the house, and be able to talk openly with the inspector and their agent about questions they might have. It’s really very much like a showing. You want the buyers to feel at ease in the home. Remember you want them to feel like its theirs. I suggest that sellers plan to be out of the house for about 3 hours during the inspection, sometimes more or less, but that’s a pretty good rule of thumb.
Here’s a little post inspection tip for you. Take a few minutes right when you get home after the inspection to check all the appliances, faucets, toilets and spigots and other systems to make sure that everything is in good order. You’ll also probably have to re set your digital clocks on the microwave and your alarm clock, since they may have been testing circuits. Inspectors are professionals, but they’re human too, sometimes they forget things and it’s always better to nip those issues in the bud.
So, you’ve gotten some great tips about how to prepare for the home inspection. If you’ve sold a home before, do you have any tips and tricks that were helpful in preparing for your home inspection? If so, please share them in the comments. I’d love to hear from you and learn some new things that I can let future sellers know about.
Once the inspection has been finished there are a few different options, depending on the jurisdiction and the type of contingency that was negotiated. In the next seller’s video we’ll talk about negotiating the home inspection contingency.
If you’d like to watch the YouTube video about this property, please click below!
For a different point of view, check out the 3D tour:
Located in the heart of the Dowden Terrace neighborhood in Alexandria, this lovely rambler situated on a beautiful ½ acre lot will capture your imagination from the first time you see it. As you walk up to the house, you’ll see the full array of solar panels on the roof which were recently installed, so big electric bills should be a thing of the past.
Step inside and you’ll notice the spacious feeling and beautiful natural light in the living room, which features a wood burning fireplace. You’ll love the classically proportioned dining room and large updated kitchen with stainless steel appliances and new granite countertops. Both the dining room and the kitchen connect to the sunroom, enabling wonderful flow while entertaining indoors and out.
The back yard has been thoughtfully landscaped and has plenty of room for all sorts of activities from badminton to volleyball, and everything in between. The second and third bedrooms are adjacent to the living room, and share an updated bath. The master bedroom has an en suite bath, and ample closets.
There’s a bonus room between the living room and the large family room, which has a gas fireplace. It’s perfect for casual indoor time. There is lots of storage in the “gardening garage” and the two attics. The location is wonderful, with many neighborhood amenities close by, including the Dora Kelly Nature center, Dowden Terrace Park and the Dowden Terrace membership pool.
Shopping and dining choices abound, both along route 7 and also Columbia Pike including Trader Joe’s, Peking Gourmet, Clydes and so many more. There’s easy access to the 395 HOV lanes and other major commuter routes as well. Come and see for yourself, you’ll want to make it your own. Welcome to 5539 Colfax Avenue.
So you’re wondering what’s going on in the Kensington real estate market these days? Well you’ve come to the right place, because that’s what we’re talking about today, and we are starting right now. Today we’re going to take a look at a summary of the Kensington Market for the first quarter of 2019. This area includes the entire Kensington zip code of 20895. Real estate is a hyper-local business, and there are quite a number of submarkets in Kensington, based on location and price range. However, it’s always good to step back and get a sense of what’s going on at the broad market level. So let’s take a quick look. All of these numbers are from Bright MLS, which is the database that most agents use, and where the majority of the real estate websites derive their information and data from, so we are going straight to the source.
We’ll start with a chart that I really like, one that shows the balance between supply and demand. First, we’ll look at the supply side. As you can see, total active listings have moved up about 20% and new listings are up by over 100%. This is part of the normal seasonal cycle. We were heading into the spring market, which is the busiest time of year. Everyone wanted to put their house on the market when the azaleas were in bloom. On the demand side, new pending‘s are up substantially as well. Not quite as large an increase as new listings, but the smaller increase in total active listings shows that demand was mostly keeping pace so far.
For an interesting historical perspective here is the change year-over-year in the same data. Here you can see on the supply side, the total number of active listings are up vs 2018, by about 13%. New listings are up year-over-year as of March by about 2%. Whereas pendings which are the demand-side of the equation have moved up by almost 65%. So you’ve got higher supply, but even stronger demand, and that means prices moving up. You’ll notice the upside down movement in February, Again,this is related to the normal seasonal ebb and flow of the market. Usually supply moves up first, as people start to put their homes on the market, then we watch to see if demand keeps pace, this March it certainly did!
Now let’s move onto the median days on market. As you can see in January it was 92 and it has moved down dramatically to 28 days on the market in March. This is also tied to the transition from the winter market to the spring. A lot of houses that go under contract and settle in December and January have been on the market during the slowest time of year and were unable to sell, so they will show longer days on market when they do finally get an offer and go to settlement. As more “fresh” inventory comes on the market in the spring, the properties that go under contract tend to show lower days on market.
This next chart shows the ratio of the sale price to original list price for properties that settled in the first quarter. In January, it was 97.7% and that moved up to almost 100%. That means that most houses that went under contract this year and settled in March sold for full price. Part of this is tied to the last chart. Properties that stay on the market longer tend to attract lower offers.
Let’s take a quick look at the past 10 years, just to give you a little historical perspective. You can see that the lowest number was in October of 2010 when the median was 90.6% of the asking price. That has steadily moved up over the past 9 years and has basically been hovering between 96 and 100% since December 2015.
Now let’s move onto the months of supply. As you can see although it’s moved up slightly it’s still just under 2 months of supply. A balanced market nationwide is generally considered to be about six months worth of inventory. In the DC metro area, I would say that number is probably closer to four, maybe 4 1/2 months worth of inventory. At 2 months it’s in seller’s market territory for sure.
Again let’s take a quick look backward for historical perspective. In September of 2010 it peaked at 5.7 months of inventory. It’s been trending down consistently since then, and has been below 4 month’s worth of inventory since August of 2012.
And finally, the one that most people focus on is the trend in sales prices. As you would expect with inventory sliding down, prices have moved up in the first quarter. This chart shows a big jump in Median Sold prices, which is somewhat misleading. The January sales price was much lower than it had been in prior months and was impacted by the small number of properties which went under contract in December of 2018 ( only 8 properties went pending in that month). That very small statistical sampling, could be easily skewed downward by just one or two inexpensive houses settling that month.
So the picture overall is that the market that is still favoring sellers, although things may be trending towards a more balanced market if inventory keeps increasing later in the spring. There are big differences between submarkets and price ranges. Having a skilled professional agent on your team will help you to understand the nuances of the market so that you can make the best decisions regarding your real estate needs.
If you’re interested in a more detailed analysis of what’s going on in your immediate neighborhood, or in a part of Kensington where you are thinking of buying, reach out and let me know. I’m happy to put together some neighborhood-specific data for you.If you know someone, maybe a friend or neighbor, who might benefit from this information, please share this blog post with them.
Click the thumbnail to watch the video, or if you’d rather read, scroll down.
Everyone’s always wondering what home improvements add the most value. The problem is that lots of home improvements don’t have a great return on investment financially. They may bring you great joy and pleasure, and be an expression of you and how you want your home to be which is totally fine, but that does not convert to getting your money back when you go to sell your home. There are lots of things you can do to improve the look and feel of your home without breaking the bank. Today we’ll look at some project ideas in 6 different areas that can really freshen up the look of your house without spending tons of money or time.
1.) A minor bathroom remodel- Re-caulking the tub, removing those old nasty shower doors and either replacing them with new ones or a nice shower curtain and rod can be a big step towards bringing your bathroom into the 21st century. Another project that can really help with the refresh is replacing or re-glazing the tub. Deciding which of those makes more sense depends on the age of the tub, what the surround is made of and whether you are doing other things to the bathroom. Another low-cost way to modernize the look of your bathroom is with a new light fixture and a new mirror.
2.) Landscaping – A green lawn and colorful plantings can really enhance the front of your home and make it pop in the pictures that buyers will see. Often times local gardening centers have people on their staff who can help with basic suggestions regarding plants that go well together. Make sure to take a few pictures of your house and the areas you want to change so they can get a sense of what you’ve got to work with.
Here’s an interesting tip that I picked up: if you have slate or flagstones, you can clean and seal them to give them a fresh look and a deeper color. Click on the link in the remarks to see some before and after pictures I found. If you’re looking for more ideas to make your house look great when buyers first arrive, check out my earlier video about curb appeal from the street.
3.) Minor kitchen remodel – if your kitchen could use a refresh and you don’t want to change the floor-plan, then a minor kitchen remodel might be just the thing for you. You could consider options like refacing the cabinets and putting new hardware on or possibly just painting the old cabinets, depending on their finish and the style of the doors.
More contemporary lighting can also provide a whole new feel for a dated kitchen. Well placed, recessed lighting and under cabinet lighting can help brighten up the whole room and shed more light directly on the counters.
Speaking of counters, if you’re thinking about replacing them don’t just assume that granite would be the best choice. For many installations, quartz countertops have become a popular alternative
4.)Hardware- Another way to give an updated feel to your house is to install some new hardware. Doorknobs, kitchen cabinet knobs and pulls, front door hardware, and maybe some new hardware in the primary bathroom. Good choices distributed throughout can give the key spaces, a much fresher, more contemporary look, without really changing many of the major components.
The front door is the place where most buyers are going to “ shake hands” with your house for the first time, so if you’re interested in some good tips about what to do there, check out my earlier video about dressing up that part of the house.
5.)Let there be light!! A couple of strategically placed new fixtures, and fresh new bulbs throughout the house that are a consistent hue, can make a real difference in how the house feels. LED bulbs have come down in price substantially over the past few years, so replacing bulbs with these energy efficient alternatives isn’t nearly as expensive as it used to be.
Paint, Paint, and a little more paint. One of the best things you can do to freshen up the look of your house is getting out the roller and brush, or in my world, calling your favorite painter. It may be a good idea to change the color scheme of your home a bit. If you’re looking for inspiration, check out the post below from the Sherwin Williams site with the 50 most popular colors in 2019.
If you don’t feel up to the agonizing process of picking a new color, then you may want to consider a strategic re-painting of high traffic areas to get rid of those nicks and marks that life throws at your walls. You can start with the magic eraser before you paint, that’s sometimes good enough, but if that still doesn’t do the trick, then a fresh coat of paint may be in order.
So, we’ve looked at some great low-cost, high return home improvement projects to get your house ready for sale. If you’re considering some other projects, and you’re wondering whether they’re going to give you a good return, then put them in the comments or reach out to me directly, I’m happy to give you some feedback about that. If you know someone who might be interested in this information, please share this with them, and if you have any suggestions for real estate questions you’d like answered, please let me know. I’m always on the lookout for topics you’d like to hear about.
Today we’re going to take a look at the overall market in the DC metro area for the first quarter of 2019. This area includes Montgomery, Prince Georges, and Fairfax Counties, Falls Church City, Arlington, Alexandria and of course, the District of Columbia. These are very broad statistics, and as you know, real estate is a hyper-local business. However, it’s always good to step back and get a sense of what’s going on at the broad market level.
If you’re interested in viewing this in video format, please click the image below! If you’d rather read, please continue.
So let’s take a quick look. I should say that all of these numbers are from Bright MLS, which is the database that most agents use, and where the majority of the real estate websites derive their information and data from, so we are going straight to the source.
We’ll start with a chart that I really like, one that shows the balance between supply and demand. First, we’ll look at the supply side. As you can see, total active listings have moved up slightly and new listings are up sharply. This is part of the normal seasonal cycle. We are heading into the spring market, which is the busiest time of year. Everyone wants to put their house on the market when the azaleas are in bloom. On the demand side, new pending‘s are up substantially as well. Not quite as large an increase as new listings, but keeping pace with them so far.
An interesting way to look at it to get a broader historical perspective is to look at the change year-over-year. Here you can see on the supply side, the total number of active listings are down vs 2018, almost 10%. New listings are also down year-over-year as of March by almost 4%. Whereas pendings, which are the demand-side of the equation, have moved up. So you’ve got lower supply and higher demand, and that means prices moving up. As I said earlier, some of this is related to the normal seasonal ebb and flow of the market. Usually supply moves up first, as people start to put their homes on the market, then we watch to see if demand keeps pace.
Now let’s move onto the median days on market. As you can see in January it was 51 and it moved down dramatically to 26 days on the market in March. This is also tied to the change in the seasonal market. A lot of houses that go under contract and settle in December and January have been on the market during the slowest time of year and were unable to sell. Due to this, they will show longer days on market when they do finally get an offer and go to settlement. As more “ fresh” inventory comes on the market in the spring, the properties that go under contract tend to show lower days on market.
This next chart shows the ratio of the sale price to original list price for properties that have settled in the first quarter. As you can see in January it was 98.3% and that has moved up to almost 100% so that means that most houses that went under contract this year and settled in March sold for full price. Part of this is tied to the last chart we saw. Properties that stay on the market longer, tend to attract more low offers.
Let’s take a quick look at the past 10 years, just to give you a little historical perspective. You can see at the bottom of the market in 2009 most homes were selling for 94.3% of the asking price. That has steadily moved up over the past 10 years and has basically been hovering between 96.8 and 100% since February 2015.
Now let’s move onto the months of supply. As you can see although it’s moved up slightly it’s still right around one and a half months of supply. A balanced market nationwide is generally considered to be about six months worth of inventory. In the DC metro area, I would say that number is probably closer to four, maybe 4 1/2 months worth of inventory. The DC metro area has a much more fluid and dynamic real estate market than many other parts of the country.
Again let’s take a quick look backward for historical perspective. At the bottom of the market in 2009, it was right around 6 months worth of inventory. It’s been trending down consistently since then and has been below 4 month’s worth of inventory since 2011.
And finally, the one that most people focus on is the trend in sales prices. As you would expect with inventory sliding down, prices have moved up in the first quarter.
But if we take a minute to look at things from a different perspective, the rate of appreciation has decreased over the past few months, although it’s still well within the historic range.
So the picture overall is that the market that is generally leaning towards sellers, although maybe trending towards a more balanced market. Obviously there are big differences between neighborhoods and price ranges. Having a skilled professional agent on your team will help you to understand the nuances of the market so that you can make the best decisions regarding your real estate needs.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you’re interested in a more detailed analysis of what’s going on in your neighborhood, or in a neighborhood where you were thinking of buying, reach out and let me know. I’m happy to put together some neighborhood-specific data for you. If you know someone, maybe a friend or neighbor, who might benefit from this information, or who may have questions about real estate, please share this post with them.
2018 was an interesting year. It started off on a high note, with lots of activity and anticipation that it would be busy. The first half of the year was just that. Driven by high demand and some of the lowest inventory levels in years it was a spring for the sellers.
Then things started to turn a bit. Inventory levels moved up, although not dramatically. Interest rates moved up as well. They started at 4.15%, jumped up to 4.85% by October, then settled to 4.55% in late December. For some historical perspective from 1971-2009 the average 30 year fixed rate mortgage never fell below 5%. Even during the run-up in home prices from 2000-2007 rates were in the 6-8% range.
Combine interest rate volatility with a mostly downhill roller coaster ride of the stock market starting in October, and by year’s end, most people had a case of whiplash. But if you take a step back, it was still a solid year for real estate in the DC metro area. The total number of properties sold was the second highest in the past five years; not too shabby.Let’s dig in and take a look at some of the numbers.
Regionally*– Inventory was up less than 1%, and pending contracts were up about 2%.The total number of units sold was off by 2.3% and prices were up by about 3.5%. That’s lower than the rate of price appreciation for 2017 but close to the historical average of 4.3%
So there was a change in the market, but not a dramatic one; more a change in tone than direction. In my mind that’s good news, we don’t need a repeat of 2007-2011. The market needed to cool off a bit, and it seems to be doing just that. As is always the case, the regional news only tells part of the story. Let’s take a look at some of the local jurisdictions to see how they fared.
Alexandria City seems to be one of the winners. Inventory was down by 53% year-over-year, and pending contracts were up by 16%. The total number of sales was up by 6% and prices moved up by 3.1%. Of all of the major northern Virginia jurisdictions, Alexandria had the highest increase in the number of total sales at 5.7 %. Three out of the other five showed a decrease in sales activity.
Next-door in Arlington the story was not quite so rosy. Inventory was down by 40%, and pending contracts were up by 20%, but prices had moved down by 2.6%. So out of the 4 NOVA jurisdictions in the list Arlington and one other showed price depreciation. The Arlington numbers seem counter-intuitive to me, given the pending and inventory numbers. Sometimes the real estate market, like the stock market, doesn’t seem to make sense.