Amazon’s impact on Arlington and Alexandria continued in December

McEnearney Associates’ EVP and CIO David Howell

December brought some truly incredible absorption rates in Arlington and Alexandria in the aftermath of Amazon’s HQ2 announcement, while the rest of the region continued to see more typical performance.

Compared to the previous December, contract activity in Alexandria was up 13% in December 2018 and was up 20% in Arlington.  The Amazon announcement created a perfect storm – it fueled demand precisely at a time when inventory is seasonally low. In December 2017, inventory was about 40% lower than it was in September 2017 in both Alexandria and Arlington.  As expected, inventory was already headed down before the Amazon announcement, so when contract activity increased in the last six weeks of the year in Arlington and Alexandria there was already less inventory to fight over.  And since we were then in a time of year where relatively few listings come on the market, buyers were soaking up whatever was there.

In addition, there is no doubt that there are homeowners out there who were thinking about putting their home on the market who have now made a strategic bet, to hold off selling for now in the hope of much higher sales prices once Amazon ramps up.

And that squeeze resulted in absorption rates that we have seldom seen.  In Alexandria, detached homes and condos priced between $400,000 and $1,000,000 had 66% rates and townhouse had 50%.  (Bear in mind that anything above 30% is considered a seller’s market.) In Arlington, the rates were even higher. There were only 9 townhomes on the market in all of Arlington at the end of December and there were 28 that went under contract – the absorption rate for townhomes priced under $1,000,000 was 100%. Detached homes and condos under $1,000,000 had absorption rates north of 70%!

But we don’t expect these meteoric rates to continue.  There was an understandable and immediate reaction to Amazon’s news and that fueled speculation, and it likely that some would-be sellers decided to hold their homes off the market, betting that prices will rise.  But we do expect inventory to slowly return to more typical levels over the next few months.

—David Howell, “Amazon’s impact on Arlington and Alexandria continued into December”

Winter prep from top to bottom

As the temperature drops and the weather outside is ever more frightful, be sure your home, townhome, or condo is ready to bear the winter force of Mother Nature. From freezing temperatures to snow and ice, winter weather can be harmful to your home and exceptionally costly. Prepping your home for the winter months seems almost daunting, but it will protect you and your investment. You might also find some energy saving tips helpful to put save some extra cash after holiday expenditures. You’ll have snow problem surviving winter with these tips to help protect your home, your car, and you, as the winter begins to come in full force.

CAR CARE

Be ready for wherever your winter adventures take you! Keep in mind your vehicle’s basic car care needs – neglecting standard maintenance can be detrimental, especially during the winter months. Check your oil, the tread on your tires, wear on the wipers and test your battery. All of these can be done with a quick basic tune-up. For those without a garage, be sure you keep an ice scraper on hand in the house. All of us Washingtonians are all too familiar with the pains of stuck doors and layers of ice from freezing rain. And if you hear a storm is coming, don’t neglect your gas tank.

HEATING AND FIREPLACE SAFETY

If you haven’t done so already, be sure to schedule an inspection of your heating system. The last thing you want is for it to act up during a cold spell, making you wait longer for a technician or costing you more in emergency service fees. The cold winter days will entice some of us to cozy up by the warmth of a fire. Schedule a chimney expert to come out to the house to inspect the chimney and vents. You want to ensure all is working properly, and avoid the possibility of carbon monoxide build-up. This applies to gas and oil as well. Be sure to check all of your smoke detectors and fire extinguishers!

PROTECT AND CLEAR GUTTERS

Give your home the love it needs as we get ready for the next few months of snow. In the winter, clearing your gutters is important so water can flow freely to help prevent the formation of icicles. In addition, gutter protection systems such as LeafFilter can help prevent ice damming and roof damage.

WINTERIZE YOUR ENTRY

Prevent the snow from making its way into the house by purchasing a boot tray, so you not only have your shoes by the front door, but you keep snow, ice, salt and sand from coming into the house. Also, add a small bench to sit on while putting on and taking off your snow gear.

PIPES & PUMPS

To avoid a frozen outdoor pipe shut off the valves inside for your outdoor faucets, then open the spigots to drain any water that may be in the system. With snowy days, the buildup and melting of snow leads to moisture. Test your sump pump by pouring several gallons of water into the sump pit. You will want to make sure the pump turns on, to ensure a dry space.

INVEST IN WARMTH

“Don’t forget to bundle up!” How many times did you hear that as a kid? Well it’s as true today as it was back then. The cold air and drop in temperatures can be harmful to your health. And who wants to burn up all your sick days during the first month of the new year? The key to surviving the winter season is layers upon layers, and invest in waterproof outer layers for those ice storms and snowy days. We also have a few cozy home tips to keep you and your home warm and snug.

REVERSE HEAT

Insulating your windows helps the cold from coming in. Even something as simple as well taped plastic wrap can make a big difference in your heating bill. Remember to use your ceiling fan – it’s not just for the warmer months. Once you start running the heat in your home, go ahead and change the direction of ceiling fans to run the blades clockwise. The reverse motion of the blade will push down the heated air from the ceiling.

PREPARE FOR POWER OUTAGES

Snow and ice aren’t the only culprits of power outages in the winter – the Mid-Atlantic often sees high winds that cause lots of headaches. In addition to the smoke detector batteries, double check your flashlights to ensure they are working. A good practice is to keep one in your bedroom or by your front door so you know exactly where it is. Keep some candles and board games on hand to stay entertained with friends and family as you bunker down and wait for power to be restored. Those of you with gas stoves might even be able to make some hot chocolate. If you do lose power, keep your fridges and freezes closed! While ice packs and coolers will help, dry ice is a great option if you know you’re bound to lose power during a blizzard. If your area is expected to lose power, remember to fill your gas tank!

—McEnearney Associates, “Winter home prep from top to bottom”