Winter 2018 Marketwatch: More of the same?

2017 ended with a bit of a whimper, as contract activity on our region’s real estate market cooled off along with the weather. But it was an overall solid year, with Washington, D.C. continuing to outpace its suburban neighbors. What’s ahead for 2018?

We’ll put our forecast into three categories: Steady State, the Wildcard and the Tantalizing Possibility.

Steady State – With inventory in short supply, especially inside the Beltway, we expect 2018 to look a lot like 2017. There will continue to be considerable upward price pressure close-in, but we do not expect the DC market to maintain the 8%-9% annual appreciation rates of the past three years. We think it will be more like 5%, and probably less in the upper brackets. The suburbs will still be strong, particularly as more frustrated buyers look outside the inner city because of prices and inventory. Even with those factors, we’d be very surprised if the appreciation rate exceeds 3% in those areas. And regarding mortgage interest rates, it is almost inevitable that they will (finally) rise as the overall economy improves, ending 2018 around 4.75%. That rate shouldn’t discourage homebuyers.

The Wildcard – With the ink drying on the sweeping tax reform legislation, residential real estate will be impacted in at least three ways. First, with the cap on deductibility of state and local taxes and the diminished value of the mortgage interest deduction for expensive homes, it is likely that upper-end home prices won’t increase as much as they would have had reform not passed. Second, the overall tax decreases for most wage earners will put money in their pockets, particularly for millennials who may be thinking about buying their first home. This should help with student loan debt, saving for a down payment, and/or increased spending – and that’s good for real estate. And third, if the economy grows as it did after the Kennedy- and Reagan-era tax cuts, that means more jobs, more income and a much healthier economic climate. Overall, we think the tax reform legislation in 2018 will be a modest, net positive for the region’s real estate market.

The Tantalizing Possibility – Three communities in our region made the short list of 20 semi-finalists for Amazon’s HQ2, with a promise that their final decision will come in 2018. Should one of those three areas be anointed to host 50,000 new employees, acres of office space, and the traffic that will come along with it over the next several years, the whole region wins. Amazon won’t be turning dirt for their second headquarters anytime soon, but the real estate boom for some city on that list of 20 could begin later this year.

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Home design trends to watch in 2018

We frequently get questions from clients who are taking on decorating and remodeling projects and want to ensure their dollars are invested wisely.

Which looks will last for years to come, and which ones will feel dated quickly? What colors and styles are most popular among buyers in our area? How can I add the most value to my home?

So we’ve rounded up some of the hottest trends in home design to help guide you through the process. Whether you’ve planned a simple refresh or a full-scale renovation, making smart and informed design choices will help you maximize your return on investment … and minimize the chance of “remodeler’s remorse” down the road.

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Absorption Rates and Sell-by Dates

Determining the appropriate list price for a home or figuring what to offer is equal parts art and science. The “art” has a lot to do with the motivation and level of risk tolerance of the parties, as well as the degree of emotional attachment to the outcome. The focus of the “science” has typically been on knowing overall market and financing conditions, and picking the most “comparable” properties to see how the subject property stacks up. Unsurprisingly, there’s a lot more to it than that.

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Champagne, baths – and real estate

Bubbles are great to have in champagne, baths, and a host of other things, but they are not good for the real estate market.

A real estate bubble generally is caused by unjustified speculation in the housing market that leads to a rapid and unsustainable increase in prices. When it bursts, prices decline quickly – often to levels lower than when the run up in prices began. The whole country experienced a painful bursting bubble almost a decade ago, and its impact was felt far beyond the real estate market.

There is no doubt that home prices have risen significantly in the metro area during the past several years and affordability, especially for first-time homebuyers, is a real concern. But are we in a bubble? The short answer is no.

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Millennials feel the pinch: The impact of rising mortgage rates

As millennials are entering their prime as homebuyers, they are feeling the pinch between very low inventory for entry-level priced homes and rising interest rates in the metro DC market.

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What are the up-front costs associated with buying a home?

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The spring real estate market is here, and with all the buyers out there, I thought I’d put together a series of posts covering the various topics addressed during the purchasing process. The first in this series is what the up-front costs are in purchasing a home.

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Around Reston: Meet Caliber Home Loans’ Scott Silverstein

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Scott Silverstein, Caliber Home Loans

Moving to Reston is interviewing members of the community who are a part of small businesses that serve the Reston area. Next up is Scott Silverstein, a loan consultant with Caliber Home Loans.

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