With inventory low and demand rising, how much is your home worth?

February 26, 2013 — “How much could we get for our home on today’s market?”

You probably ask yourself that question from time to time, even if you’re not seriously thinking about making a move.

What's my home worth CREDIT ActiveRain DOT com

Credit: activerain.com

Why not find out? The Spring market is rapidly approaching, demand is strong and the inventory of homes for sale is very low.

I’d be happy to give you a rough idea of the current market value of your home, based on what similar properties in your area have sold for recently and demand for you type of home in your part of the Washington DC metropolitan area.

It’s good information to know!  For many of you, it might provide some peace of mind.

Of course, there’s no cost or obligation of any kind for this service. It’s just one of the many ways I help my friends and past clients — whether during a move, or in the months and years in between.

You can fill out the “Free Market Report” widget on the front of my web site . Or just call me and I’ll get you your number.

Bidding wars are heating up, often with escalator clauses, for sought-after listings in Northern Virginia

January 20, 2013 — I’m seeing them more frequently with each passing month. Not only are more attractive and accurately-priced listings for single family homes, townhomes and condominiums drawing several offers, we’re finding more buyers willing to include escalator clauses.

Multiple offers - images

Multiple offers on the sale of your home may bring a few unanticipated challenges. CREDIT: Activerain

Escalator clauses were a common feature of bidding contests in from 2003 through 2006 throughout the Metro Washington, DC area. With notable exceptions, one had to include them in their submissions on top of matching the asking price.We may not be quite there yet throughout the entire DC region. But we may be there soon with homes for sale that have good locations, have been kept relatively up-to-date and are priced realistically to begin with.These factors in the Northern Virginia, DC and close-in Maryland suburbs figure to play even stronger roles in 2013 and beyond:1) pent up demand

2) low interest rates

3) a steadily improving economy, and

4) the stable federal and contracting workforces.

Average home prices in Northern Virgina home rose 13% year-over-year in 2012, that’s the most drastic increase in more than six years.

If you find yourself competing with other others, first understand how escalator clauses work. Don’t go it alone. Working with a Realtor  you trust can keep you from overpaying or making some other mistake you’re bound to soon regret.

It is quite possible that deploying an escalator clause might needlessly inflate the selling price. That’s great if you’re the seller, not so if you’re the buyer.

A contract might say something as simple this:

“In the event of multiple contract presentations for the property located at 12 Main Street, I hereby increase my purchase offer by $5,000 above any alternative offer, providing that my maximum purchase price shall not exceed $650,000.”

If an owner receives several full-price offers, the details of their escalator clauses (e.g. any maximum offering price) should push one on top of the others. Before you choose any such option, however, it helps for sellers to look at which offer represents the best chance to close, especially if the owner is in a hurry to sell.

At one extreme, the best offer might be an offer with no contingencies, such as need for mortgage financing, the sale of an existing home, and an inspection of the property for sale. (Remember, home inspections still make sense so you at least know what your getting yourself into.)

At the other extreme, the escalator clause might come with a a few strings attached, attached, e.g. a faster than normal closing to register children for the next school year.

Here are a few examples of what can happen with escalation clauses from the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors, of which I’m a member.

Please call me at 703-593-9432 if you have any questions. And be sure to mention you read this on my blog.

Help ensure home appraisers in Northern Virginia and Montgomery County, MD have ALL the data they need

June 26, 2012 — I often get questions about appraisers not fully appreciating the rising value of  homes for sale in parts of Northern Virginia and Montgomery County, Maryland. It’s no wonder because more mortgage loan officers and RE/MAX colleagues are sharing experiences of appraiser reluctance to report local appreciation.

A home sale contract does not have to be jeopardized because the appraiser does not have — or does not collect — all the relevant facts. CREDIT: TotalMortgage.com

The impact on buyers and sellers can be significant and maybe even kill a deal. When an appraisal comes in much lower than the mutually agreed-upon contract price, the buyers typically need to revise their loan request. That could mean having to renegotiate the contract price with an unhappy seller. What’s worse, this may not even be possible.

Sometimes the appraiser will do his or her job but experience push-back from the appraisal management company that hired him to “revisit” an upward adjustment, e.g. get rid of it.

A recent poll of members of the National Association of Realtors fthroughout the U.S. found 33 percent reported appraisal problems. This is the single most important valuation obstacle to seeing a sustained recovery in regions such as the Greater Washington, DC area where we have multiple economic indicators that justify rising home prices.

The bottom line: make sure agents on both sides of the transaction have accurate data on “comparable” sales or pending sales. This can demonstrate how a market is improving, especially over the past three months. Make sure the appraiser sees that data. I do this EVERY time for my clients.

DC area is among improving real estate markets starting to see multiple bids

May 2, 2012 — I’ve seen it first-hand already with several of my clients. Here now is some big-picture confirmation in this video by The Wall Street Journal.

In markets with tight inventories, up-to-date homes in good neighborhoods and locations that are priced right are drawing multiple contracts, sometimes within days of arriving on the market.

Wall Street Journal reporter Nick Timiraos spotlights Washington, DC homes for sale as ripe for multiple contracts IF the price is right and they are in good locations. CREDIT: The Wall Street Journal

The Journal spotlights the Washington, DC market as one of the metropolitan areas experiencing a big improvement from last year.

Because most banks take a skeptical view of appraisals, buyers with a lot of cash have the most buying power.

Historically low interest rates are influencing buyer psychology. That said, if rates rise significantly, the rush could speed up.

One analyst in the Journal’s video compared the market in some metro areas to “looking for your future wife in a bowling alley . . . there are very few eligible properties.”

Who says buying or selling a home isn’t entertaining!

Washington, DC-area housing market rebound is gaining momentum

The Washington metro area is one of 101 U.S. housing markets that have shown “measurable improvement” for at least the past six months, according to an index released by the National Association of Home Builders April 5. There are approximately 360 such housing markets total.


Catch the azaleas throughout the DC region while you can. CREDIT: AndyAdvantage Real Estate

In order to make the list, a region must stay above its low point, or “trough,” in housing prices, building permits and employment for six months or more. (The low points are measured from the 2009 housing crash.) That’s harder than it might seem, because a dip in even one metric — it’s usually home prices — below the “trough” would knock a region off the list.

For the Washington area, which includes the District and Northern Virginia and Maryland suburbs, the low point for jobs was February of 2010, and employment has improved 3.7 percent since then, according to an April 6 report in The Washington Post. For home prices, it was January 2011, and prices have risen 2 percent since.

The growth may seem somewhat tepid because some areas saw an improvement of 15 percent or more. NAHB senior economist Robert Denk said that’s because metropolitan Washington’s housing market didn’t fall as far as some areas did. It may be a long road back to a robust housing market for the nation but the DC area appears to be leading the way.

Metropolitan Washington “didn’t have it as bad as other areas, and it is improving at a healthier pace than some areas,” Denk told the Post.