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.

From 2002 through 2005, home prices in the Washington, D.C. metro area skyrocketed. Demand was artificially high, driven by ridiculously low “teaser” interest rate mortgages. Prices were up 14% in 2002, 15% in 2003, 20% in 2004 and 21% in 2005. Since mortgage underwriting guidelines were essentially non-existent, more and more buyers rushed into the market to buy homes they could not afford, with the expectation they could cash in their gains later.

When those artificially low adjustable rate mortgages started to adjust and guidelines tightened, demand plummeted. There was a 40% drop in the number of home sales in 2009, compared to the peak in 2005. At the same time, the market was flooded with new inventory as homeowners rushed to sell homes they could no longer afford. With the enormous drop in demand and the jump in homes on the market, prices dropped almost 15% in 2009. Prices only started to head back up in 2012.

None of those supply and demand conditions exist today.

Let’s take a look at demand. There are three basic ways to increase the desire for housing: an upturn in economic activity, an increase in population and generally low interest rates. To a large degree, all three of those exist today. The region’s economy is doing pretty well, especially in The District. Further, the region has grown by one million residents in the last 14 years. Finally, low mortgage interest rates have created an extremely attractive environment for prospective home purchasers, and yet, demand has not exploded. The number of home sales this year in the metro area will be virtually identical to the number that sold in 2003. There have been significant demographic shifts – people are waiting longer to marry and form households, and student loan debt makes it harder for many to buy their first home. And despite those low interest rates, it is harder to qualify for a loan. In short, demand is reasonable, and it not being fueled by speculation.

On the supply side, inventory of available homes is at a historic low. Just as buyers are waiting longer, homeowners are staying put longer. Nationally, the median number of years sellers have been in their homes has risen from six years in 2000 to 10 years today. New construction isn’t keeping pace with household formation.

Low inventory has certainly contributed to increasing home prices, but even in the hottest market area in The District, annual appreciation rates have been between 6% and 8% during the last three years. It is far lower in the suburbs. If demand were greater, the lack of inventory would have pushed prices much higher.

Markets seek balance over time, as long as they are not artificially stimulated or restricted. The hottest areas in our region are due for an adjustment because 6% to 8% appreciation isn’t sustainable forever. In our more suburban markets, current appreciation rates are in line with historic norms. And we know that eventually, mortgage interest rates will climb, and that will ease some of the upper pressure on home prices. We believe the inevitable market adjustment will come in the form of lower appreciation rates, not a drop in prices.

— David Howell, McEnearney Associates Chief Information Officer

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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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Achieving the American Dream: What I actually do as a real estate agent

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Lauren Budik

How did you get started in the real estate industry?

My background is in journalism, and I used to work as a newspaper reporter. As my husband and I were planning to move back to the States after serving two years overseas with the State Dept., a colleague suggested to me that I’d be great in real estate. I looked into what it would take to get a license. I ended up taking the licensure classes and sat for the national, Virginia and D.C. exams when we got back. And that was almost two years ago!

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As interest rates tick up, buyers’ purchasing power decreases

For months, interest rates have been at historic lows. Borrowers looking to buy a home today were able to get lower rates than those who purchased more than two years ago. But all of that has changed within the last few weeks, as interest rates climbed to their highest point since October 2014. Prior to that, rates hit an all-time low on Nov. 22, 2012, at 3.31%.

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Trying to sell your home during the holidays?

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Image credit McEnearney Associates

Worried about selling your home during the holidays? Follow these tips from Lisa Groover of McEnearney Associates in Alexandria.

There are pros and cons to listing your home for sale during the holidays; however, buyers looking during this time tend to be more serious and may be under a deadline to move. There is also less competition in the market. If you are prepared to modify your holiday plans to accommodate showings and the selling process, then here are some tips for preparing your home for sale:

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Fall Foliage in the DMV

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Image credit McEnearney Associates

No matter how long you live in the Washington D.C., Maryland or Virginia area, you can never get tired of gorgeous fall foliage. The reds and yellows and oranges are so intense, and driving through the countryside and mountains gives you the pleasure of watching the most stunning season change ever.

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Veterans Day: Honoring all who serve

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Veterans Day is celebrated on Nov. 11, the same day that World War I ended in 1918. It was originally established as a way to honor the Americans who had served in that war. Today, the holiday serves to honor veterans of all wars who have displayed patriotism and willingness to serve and sacrifice for this country. To recognize and celebrate these brave men and women, there will be plenty of events around the country, especially right here in the nation’s capital. We’re proud to say that our nation’s first responders are among the honorees.

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