Friday, June 12, 2009

No More Houses For Sale?

On the 10th of each month, MRIS (the MLS for the Washington DC Metropolitan Area) publishes market statistics by region, county and zip code.
Each month, I pull them up, review them, and sometimes incorporate information about the market into my blog. Recently, however, I haven't done that so much. That's because I don't feel like the stats really show what's going on. There's one exception: Listings.
The number of listings is DOWN. Way down. Our inventory is so low right now. At some price points (generally, under $400,000 except for the condo market), it's creating a feeding frenzy among buyers. First time home buyers, investors and relocation buyers are chomping at the bit to get into a nice affordable home here in Northern Virginia.
Stastics like Days on Market, or Available Inventory are very misleading. This is because of how distress sales are being handled in the marketplace.
REOs are frequently on the market for a few days, maybe a week or 10 days at most, and then the bank will choose an offer and "accept it". At that point, the home is no longer available to new potential buyers. However, the contract is not ratified, it's still in process. Therefore, the home still shows like it is available on web sites and in the MLS. But, it's not. It usually takes 1-3 weeks before you see these listings updated as "under contract" in the MLS system. It results in the MLS showing the number of marketing days as 14-30 days when really it was 7-10.
Short sales are even worse. Many times, they are not marked as under contract until the bank has approved an offer. This can take months - several months. Meanwhile, the seller has a ratified offer, and often has several back up offers sitting on their desk; and the home isn't really available for purchase by a new buyer. I mean, would you want to be the 10th back up offer?(Learn more about short sales: This results in the MLS reporting 90-200 days of marketing time, when in fact, the seller had 2 or 3 offers within a week.
When these two things are happening in half of the sales in the market place, it creates misleading information. So, it makes it difficult to report with accuracy.
Some days I am pouring through the listings, looking for homes to show to buyers that are "really" available. After scouring through 20 or more listings, reading through all the comments and calling the listing agents for more information, I sometimes come up empty handed. I have actually had to call buyers and say that there are no available homes that fit their criteria.
Imagine that! The national news media is saying that it's a buyers market, and their real estate agent is saying there are no more houses for sale?
If you own a home that should sell for $200,000-500,000, and you've been wanting to relocate or move into a larger home in this area, the time to consider this is NOW. At higher price points, there is still more inventory. So, you can sell your $300,000 house in Loudoun and move to a $500,000 home in the very same area and take full advantage of the seller's market and the buyer's market.
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Curious what you're home should sell for? You can get an idea by ordering a free automated snapshot at; which will tell you what homes in your neighborhood are selling for, but pay no attention to the "days on market" or even the list price - look at the sold prices.
Even better, call me and let me prepare a personalized market analysis for you. We really need more houses to sell, so I do hope to get your call soon!
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