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Monika Edwards Harrison, Realtor
Direct Office:
703-472-8014
monikaharrison@gmail.com
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Monika Edwards Harrison, Realtor
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Direct Office:
703-472-8014
monikaharrison@
gmail.com
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YOUR REAL ESTATE PRIORITIES ARE MY BUSINESS!


COVID-19 AND REAL ESTATE IN THE DC METRO AREA in April 2019:

The Coronavirus has affected many industries in widely flung parts of  the world, including the real estate industry.  The overall pronouncements of the impact of COVID-19 on the real estate industry mean little if they are not more narrowly focused on a region, state, or local area.  Just as the medical impact of COVID-19 differs from city to city, state to state and country to country, the impact of the virus on real estate differs from place to place.  And, numbers often reflect the way the statistics were aggregated or the narrowness or broadness of the data analyzed.  To sum up the DC Metro impact as of April 23, 2019, we have seen the number of new homes under contract go down as much as 40% from the same time period last year.  But, for many reasons, this is not surprising and not a predictor of future activity because many factors, such as a smaller number of homes being listed and fewer homes being shown in person also have an impact.  

As COVID-19 cases have mounted in over 100 countries, sole proprietors, small businesses, medium businesses and large corporations have found it necessary to deal with the reality of a medical emergency that shows no preference or exemption for workers in any size company or any industry.  Not surprisingly, real estate brokerages and agents have also found it necessary to change the way they work. As a result, depending on where you live, there are few, if any traditional open houses and fewer visits to even beautiful, newly listed homes.  But, in an effort to serve our clients through timely and more innovative approaches, we have created virtual open houses and more revealing virtual tours. We have listened to our clients when they decide to move forward with listing their homes or pursuing buying opportunities and we have listened to our clients when they have decided to suspend their listing/selling plans for a while to adhere to social distancing and other medical guidelines.  For some buyers and sellers, the mental stress of the coronavirus crisis has overcome their interest in either buying or selling at this time. Every buyer and seller must make decisions that work best for them and their families.  This crisis will pass and there will still be buyers and sellers for our beautiful homes whether a few days, weeks or months from now.  I pledge to you that together we will navigate these waters in a way that makes buying or selling a home as stress-free as it can be.      

At any time, the Washington, DC Metro region is an exciting place to live!   With the Congress and the White House in our back yard, we are part of both national and local events every day.  Our local news is often followed by the rest of the United States and the rest of the world.  However, for those of us who live here, it's also just home and, other than a likely  longer commute to our jobs, our daily lives are no different than those of our friends and family living in urban areas elsewhere in the United States. 

Our real estate market, on the other hand, is not always like real estate market in other parts of the country.  It's often more expensive than the housing market those new to the area left behind. Although we have well paying jobs and a vibrant economy, the demands of residents seeking to avoid long commutes to those jobs raises the price of homes in many highly desirable neighborhoods. The good news is that we have homes for every lifestyle, so you'll find a mix of condos, townhomes and single family homes in great neighborhoods throughout the region.   

Remember, all real estate is local!  Each January, real estate pundits analyze the past year's activity to validate indicators for the upcoming year's real estate market.  Unfortunately, like the weather, real estate markets can vary significantly from a previous year because of global, national and local events that either directly or indirectly affect both buyers and sellers. Last year there were predictions of interest rate rises by the Federal Reserve with a view that higher mortgage rates would follow.  However, as of February 2020, interest rates have remained exceptionally low and definitely a benefit to buyers who, despite higher prices, continue to be able to afford the higher price because of lower rates.  This benefits not only the buyer but the seller who gets a bigger pool of qualified buyers at their price point.

Is 2020 expected to be another "Seller's Market?"

In 2019 many well prepared and strategically priced listings went under contract almost immediately and over asking price.  However, most often those were listings where sellers took the pre-sale steps to get their homes in tip-top condition and to present their home in a way that there is a Wow! factor. Homes seen as overpriced for their condition, comparable recent sales or location sat on the market much longer and often sold at a much lesser-than-hoped-for price. In addition, some of those homes were taken off the market at the end of 2019 and will re-enter the market in 2020. 

It is my view that it is never really completely a Seller's Market, despite what formulas relating to days on market and available inventory tell us. Even with extremely low inventory, buyers always have the last word on an individual sale as they will not make offers on homes that are over-priced for their location or condition.  DC metro area buyers are well educated and strong in their demands for well-maintained, upgraded and well-presented homes.  Sellers may receive good, and sometimes multiple, offers quickly, but only if their home price and condition meets those buyer demands. Although inventory may remain low, buyers remain very discriminating in their choices.  Even in what is likely to be a fast paced 2020 market, a home that is not well presented will sit on the market, as will a home that may be viewed as  overpriced for its size, location and condition. 

 What about the Amazon Effect?

At the beginning of 2019 the unknown factor for 2019 was "The Amazon effect" of being selected as one of two headquarters locations by Amazon, with 25,000 new projected in the next 12 years.  Based on the Seattle experience with Amazon, many people only focused on the news that Amazon was going to create 25,000 jobs and did not read further to understand that this would occur after 10 years and not immediately.  Nontheless, it has had an impact on some areas of the DC Metro, including specifically the Crystal City, now called National Landing, area of Arlington as well as other areas near there or near metro stops with easy access to the Amazon HQ area.  Read on to decide what you think.  

So, what should a buyer or a seller planning to buy or sell  before the end
of  2020 do to achieve their real estate goals?

1.  If you plan to buy, work with a Realtor to develop a realistic action plan and move forward deliberately!  Start with real numbers and facts rather than what you wish was true. Meet with a couple of lenders to get pre-qualified for a purchase. Do this before you start looking at homes; even with low interest rates, not every buyer qualifies for the loan amount they might like.  If your income limits you to a $500,000 purchase, don't waste your time looking at $700,000 homes. And be prepared to deal with competition which may waive home inspections, radon inspections, and appraisals. 

2.  If you plan to sell, work with a Realtor to develop a realistic plan for getting top dollar for your home. Use real facts and data to prepare and position your home in the market. It's important to know what your neighbor's home really sold for, not just what they told you or you heard through the grapevine.  Maybe they didn't tell you about a large seller subsidy which made the deal work for their buyers or that they spent lots of dollars getting their home ready for sale. It's also important to clinically assess how your home compares to that sold home to develop a realistic price for the sale of your home.

3.  Throw out your emotion and step back to view your home through the eyes of any 10 anonymous prospective buyers who will walk through your home. Buyers remain fixed on their needs and wants and even a relatively good price will not always overcome dated, highly personalized and offbeat choices in paint, flooring, lighting and fixtures. In addition to de-cluttering, which almost all of us
have to do, make time to do some touch-up painting, modernization of lighting, spiffing up of the yard, and general delayed repairs which you have been meaning to do for years.  Thinking in terms of what
a home inspector will find is also a useful exercise as it's easier to schedule those necessary fixes before the house goes on the market than when the clock is ticking toward a closing date.  

4.  Remember that not every home meets every buyer's needs.  However, what every buyer is looking for is a home that is priced to reflect its condition, location, and comparable market value.  Simply wanting more for your home than recent comparable homes have sold for is not a good prospect for success and, even if prices go up, a home that has been on the market for a long period does not benefit from those increases.  Unlike boats, a rising tide/price does not lift all homes! 

For a quick snapshot of what is happening metro-wide, read our Market in a Minute report and call me to relate your home to our current market. 

Actively searching for a home?  Visit my site often to find the most comprehensive display of listings in the DC metro area.  And be sure to check Monika's Blog on this site to read about emerging issues and solutions for buyers, sellers, investors and prospective homeowners.

When you decide to buy or sell, I have the market knowledge and experience to help make a complicated real estate transaction as stress free as possible.  To learn what I offer my clients, click on About Me and then call or email me now!

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Monika Edwards Harrison, Realtor 
Contact Info:
Direct Office: 703-472-8014
Email: monikaharrison@gmail.com
 
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