EVERMAY ESTATE IN GEORGETOWN

11/22/2010

Georgetown Stats - Week of November 15 - 21

According to the MRIS (Multiple Regional Information Systems, Inc), the following real estate transactions have taken place in Georgetown real estate during the week November 15 - 21.

new listings: 2 Single Family-SF ($1,050,000 - $1,795,000), and 0 Condo/Co-op - C/C

5 properties came under contract: 2 SF ($1,325,000 - $2,750,000), and 3 C/C ($360,000 - $849,000)

3 properties went to closing during this time frame: 2 SF ($999,000 - $5,495,000), and 1 C/C ($545,000)

Georgetown Stats - Week of November 8 -14

According to the MRIS (Multiple Regional Information Systems, Inc), the following real estate transactions have taken place in Georgetown real estate during the week November 8-14.

9 new listings: 9 Single Family-SF ($625,000 - $5,495,000)
4 properties came under contract: 4 SF ($915,000 - $3,575,000)
3 properties went to closing during this time frame: 2 SF ($950,000 - $2,195,000), and 1 C/C ($5,750,000)

11/08/2010

What's impeding our market?

Georgetown hasn't escaped the slow-down in real estate sales which is in evidence across the U.S.  But as we begin the recovery, each locality will have a different pace of recovery.  And every locality has its own challenges.  In Georgetown we have been fortunate with the job market and fewer foreclosure issues.  Our biggest impediment is extremely tight credit, and very strict lending guidelines.  In the Atlanta area, the big drag is distressed sales. Paul Brower, ABR, GRI, of Harry Norman, REALTORS®, in Marrietta, says the market is improved over last year and is expected to improve even more in 2011, but the metro area is trying to absorb the addition of 1,500 foreclosed properties each month. Until that overhang starts to ease, he says, the market can’t decisively turn around.

Read more...Different Locations, Different Recoveries



By Robert Freedman, Senior Editor, REALTOR® Magazine

Georgetown Stats - Week of November 1 - 7

According to the MRIS (Multiple Regional Information Systems, Inc), the following real estate transactions have taken place in Georgetown real estate during the week November 1 - 7.

13 new listings: 9 Single Family-SF ($769,000 - $15,000,000) and 4 Condo/Co-op-C/C ($595,000- $3,550,000)

3 properties came under contract: 2 SF ($1,095,000 - $4,195,000) and 1 C/C ($3,250,000)

1 property went to closing during this time frame: 1 SF ($1,225,000)

11/05/2010

30-Year Mortgage Rates Inch Up

30-Year Mortgage Rates Inch Up...with emphasis on the word "inch".  They are still incredibly low.

Freddie Mac confirms that average interest for 30-year fixed mortgages rose for the third consecutive week, bumping up to 4.24 percent from 4.23 percent a week ago.

The average 15-year rate for the week ended Nov. 4 was 3.63 percent, a drop from 3.66 percent.
Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James & Associates Inc., says this week's Federal Reserve actions "aren't going to change the economy right away, but they should help keep mortgage rates low for quite some time."

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch (11/05/10)

11/01/2010

Will the elections help the real estate market?

Most people hate uncertainty.  Given the level of current uncertainty, there is a fair amount to hate.  Perhaps hate is too strong a word, and maybe "uncomfortable" is better.  In any event, housing doesn't do as well when there is uncertainty and/or lack of comfort with the economy and the state of the Nation.  Whichever party does better in these elections tomorrow, the level of uncertainty will be reduced.  With that reduction, should come a willingness on the part of consumers to think more seriously about buying a house.

Despite widespread declines, D.C. posted marginal home price improvements in August.

S&P Case-Shiller Index Records Widespread Declines in Home Prices

Home prices across the country slipped in August, according to data released by Standard & Poor's Tuesday.

The data showed a 0.1 percent drop in the composite reading of 10 cities tracked, while the 20-city composite posted a 0.2 percent decline between July and August.

Home prices decreased in 15 of the survey's 20 metropolitan statistical areas on a month-to-month basis. Only Chicago, Detroit, Las Vegas, New York, and Washington D.C. posted marginal improvements in home prices over July.

The S&P/Case-Shiller 10-city composite remains up 2.6 percent from August 2009 levels. The 20-city composite is 1.7 percent above a year earlier.

A separate report released Tuesday by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) showed that home prices rose 0.4 percent from July to August. The FHFA monthly index is calculated using purchase prices of houses backing mortgages that have been sold to or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

According to DSNews.com, the analysts at Capital Economics say the disparity in the two reports may suggest any fall in home prices is temporary, reflecting the plunge in homes sales during the summer months.

As of August 2010, S&P says average home prices across the United States are back to the levels they were at in late 2003 and early 2004.

More on this....   dc prices rise

Georgetown Stats - Week of October 25 - 31

According to the MRIS (Multiple Regional Information Systems, Inc), the following real estate transactions have taken place in Georgetown real estate during the week October 25 - 31.

12 new listings: 8 Single Family-SF ($699,000 - $11,250,000) and 4 Condo/Co-op-C/C ($419,400 - $1,395,000)

2 properties came under contract: 1 SF ($1,395,000) and 1 C/C ($549,000)

1 property went to closing during this time frame: 1 SF ($815,000)

Georgetown Stats - Week of October 18 - 24

According to the MRIS (Multiple Regional Information Systems, Inc), the following real estate transactions have taken place in Georgetown real estate during the week October 18 - 24.

4 new listings: 4 Single Family-SF ($1,399,000 - $4,195,000) and 0 Condo/Co-op-C/C

1 properties came under contract: 0 SF and 1 C/C ($999,000)

2 properties went to closing during this time frame: 1 SF ($1,395,000) and 1 C/C ($699,000)

10/22/2010

Georgetown Stats - Week of October 11 - 17

According to the MRIS (Multiple Regional Information Systems, Inc), the following real estate transactions have taken place in Georgetown real estate during the week October 11 - 17.

6 new listings: 3 Single Family-SF ($1,249,000 - $1,875,000) and 3 Condo/Co-op-C/C ($435,000 - $3,250,000)

2 properties came under contract: 2 SF ($910,000 - $5,495,000) and 0 C/C

1 property went to closing during this time frame: 1 SF ($1,150,000)

10/21/2010

Beware of BIG furniture!

Houses Get Smaller but Furniture Remains Big...from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune


The declining size of U.S. homes hasn’t resulted in a decline in the appeal of plus-size furniture.

Online retailers such as Oversize Furniture, Living XL, and Brylane Home specialize in outfitting the homes of large-size customers, providing extra-wide seats and increased support. Other furniture makers are subtler, making furniture that is a little bigger without calling attention to it, retailers say.

This trend won’t last forever either, predicted Jerry Underwood, director of marketing for HOM Furniture. He said big traditional furniture appeals to baby boomers, but their echo boomer children like cleaner lines and smaller scale. "The big overstuffed [look] is going away rapidly," he said.

Source: Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Kim Palmer (10/20/2010)

10/15/2010

Social Benefits of Homeownership

Over the years, research has consistently shown the importance of the housing sector to the economy as well as the long-term social and financial benefits of homeownership to individual homeowners. NAR (National Association of Realtors) Research recently released a report on The Social Benefits of Homeownership and Stable Housing.

Homeownership and stable housing go hand-in-hand. Homeowners move far less frequently than renters, and hence are embedded into the same neighborhood and community for a longer period. According to the the Current Population Survey's report, Geographical Mobility 2008-2009, while 5.2 percent of owner-occupied residents moved from 2008 to 2009, nearly 30 percent of renters changed residential location.

The key reason for the higher “mover rate” among renters is the fact that renters are younger – that is, changing and searching for ideal jobs, not yet married, and hence, literally, less committed. The mover rate or percentage of people changing residence, among 20-to-24 year-olds was 27 percent, and for 25-to-29 year-olds it was 26 percent. The mover rate then declines rapidly from 14 percent for those in their early 30s to less than 5 percent for those 65 years or older.

As to why people move, the predominant reason given by Current Population Survey respondents in 2009 was housing-related. Almost one-third said they moved to a better home, a better neighborhood, or into cheaper housing. The second most popular reason cited was family-related at 26.3 percent. Work-related reasons (new job, lost job, easier commute, retired, etc.) were reported by only 17.9 percent of respondents. Very few indicated change of climate and health reasons for moving.

Read more...Social Benefits

10/13/2010

78% of Americans Believe Home Prices Have Bottomed

Beacon Economics analyzed home affordability and came away feeling optimistic.

Beacon Economics founding principal Christopher Thornberg, whose firm advises a variety of business clients, says the high level of affordability is likely to drive demand and reduce the stock of excess inventory, ultimately resulting in the need for new housing, a rise in prices, and a pickup in new construction.

"While prices may fluctuate modestly over the next several months, we believe the worst of the housing crisis is behind us," says Beacon Economics Research Manager Jordan G. Levine. "We expect prices to stabilize around current levels and likely be higher in the next 12 months."    Source: Beacon Economics (10/11/2010)

Worst is over?

AND......

Fannie Mae has conducted a poll of both homeowners and renters to gauge consumers’ attitudes toward housing in the U.S. The results indicate that Americans have become more cautious about buying a home, though most believe the market has bottomed out.

Rents are expected to increase more than home prices, and Fannie says mortgage borrowers and underwater borrowers are less discouraged about homeownership, while delinquent borrowers and renters are more pessimistic.
Of the respondents to the Fannie Mae National Housing Survey, 47 percent believe home prices will hold steady over the next year, while 31 percent expect them to rebound.

Seventy percent of Americans think now is a good time to buy a house, compared with 64 percent in a similar survey conducted in January 2010.   Bottomed out?

Georgetown Stats - Week of October 4 - 10

According to the MRIS (Multiple Regional Information Systems, Inc), the following real estate transactions have taken place in Georgetown real estate during the week October 4 - 10.

8 new listings: 5 Single Family-SF ($817,000 - $4,750,000) and 3 Condo/Co-op-C/C ($469,000 - $1,695,000)

5 properties came under contract: 4 SF ($999,000 - $2,495,000) and 1 C/C ($545,000)

3 properties went to closing during this time frame: 1 SF ($1,399,000) and 2 C/C ($575,000 - $2,300,000)

10/06/2010

Why do we have overpriced listings?

I guess this begs another question immediately, i.e. "How does one know a property is overpriced?"  Of course the only certain way to know is put it on the market and see if someone will pay the listing price.  That almost never happens.  The buyer generally pays more than or less than the asking price.  The job of the Realtor is to help the owner determine a price based on location, amenties and condition...and using the sale of other properties as a guide.  Even with a lot of research it is difficult to get the price exactly right.  What we do know, however, is that when a house sits on the market for months, there is no buyer who is willing to pay the list price, and the process is generally painful for both the agent and the owner.

I've linked an article here which I find interesting and maybe a bit harsh, but in most ways, on the money.  (I disagree with one of her conclusions that agents don't care whether the property sells or not... that's not my experience during my 27 years of this.)  But it is interesting and informative reading.  More at:
Overpriced Listings

Georgetown Stats - Week of September 27 - October 3

According to the MRIS (Multiple Regional Information Systems, Inc), the following real estate transactions have taken place in Georgetown real estate during the week September 27 - October 3.

6 new listings: 3 Single Family-SF ($949,000 - $5,990,000) and 3 Condo/Co-op-C/C ($849,000 - $4,750,000)
2 properties came under contract: 1 SF ($1,225,000) and 1 C/C ($699,000)
3 properties went to closing during this time frame: 2 SF ($800,000 - $1,525,000) and 1 C/C ($559,000)

9/27/2010

What's New in New Housing Design

Here are the products grabbing the attention of the home building and remodeling industries, according to Bill Millholland, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Case Design/Remodeling in Maryland, and Jamie Gibbs, a New York-based interior designer:

· Appliance Drawers. Small warning drawers, modest-sized dishwasher drawers for small loads, refrigerator drawers and microwave drawers.

· Counter-depth refrigerators. Some are only 24 inches deep.

· Motion-detecting faucets. Like you'd find in the restrooms of businesses.

· LED (light-emitting diode) lighting. These are used under cabinets and in ceiling fixtures as a longer-lasting, more efficient alternative to compact fluorescent lamps and incandescent bulbs.

· Electric heated floors. A nice touch in bathrooms,

· Showers with multiple heads and body sprays. Bathtubs are out.


Source: The Washington Post (09/25/2010)

Georgetown Stats - Week of September 20 - 26

According to the MRIS (Multiple Regional Information Systems, Inc), the following real estate transactions have taken place in Georgetown real estate during the week September 20 - 26.

11 new listings: 10 Single Family-SF ($789,000 - $7,850,000) and 1 Condo/Co-op-C/C ($999,000)
3 properties came under contract: 1 SF ($1,845,000) and 2 C/C ($359,000 - $499,000)
3 properties went to closing during this time frame: 1 SF ($939,000) and 2 C/C ($454,900 - $581,000)

9/22/2010

Who Is Saying It is Time To Buy a Home? EVERYONE!

by R. Scott Shaheen, Regional Vice President, Long & Foster

“Enough with the doom and gloom about homeownership.” – WSJ 9/16/2010

WOW! The Wall Street Journal is calling for the end of the ‘doom and gloom’ talk surrounding real estate.

Who else is jumping on the bandwagon?
The Wall Street Journal

In an article last week, 10 Reasons To Buy a Home, Brett Arends reported:

Sure, maybe there’s more pain to come in the housing market. But when Time magazine starts running covers that declare “Owning a home may no longer make economic sense,” it’s time to say: Enough is enough.

He then posted 10 reasons to buy a home today:

1. You can get a good deal.

2. Mortgages are cheap.

3. You can save on taxes.

4. It will be yours.

5. You’ll get a better home.

6. It offers some inflation protection.

7. It’s risk capital.

8. It’s forced savings.

9. There is a lot to choose from.

10. Sooner or later, the market will clear.

The Nation’s Real Estate Pricing Expert

Karl E. Case is a professor emeritus of economics at Wellesley. Professor Case is also co-creator of Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller House Price Index and is recognized as the one of the foremost authorities on real estate today. In a New York Times op-ed piece earlier this month titled, A Dream House After All, he said:

I have never quite understood what the American dream really means when it comes to housing. For some people, it means having a solid and fairly safe long-term investment that is coupled with the satisfaction of owning the house they live in. That dream is still alive.

Others, however, think the American dream is owning property that appreciates by 30 percent a year, making a house into a vehicle for paying bills. But those kinds of dreams have become nightmares for the millions of foreclosed property owners who have found themselves sliding toward bankruptcy.

But for people with a more realistic version of the American dream, buying a house now can make a lot of sense.

The Wealthy

The only segments of the housing market that are showing sales growth are the price points over $1 million. That market is up 6.1 % in the second quarter of this year vs. the second quarter last year. A recent survey showed that over 30% affluent buyers are planning to either build/buy a new primary residence or a second/vacation home in the next twelve months. It appears the wealthy believe now is the time to buy!

Everybody Else

Fannie Mae just released their National Housing Survey. The survey reported:

• 82% of respondents consider homeownership important to the economy, up two points from January.

• 70% of respondents think it is a good time to buy a house (of which 36% think it is a very good time to buy), up six points from January. This is also four points higher than the 2003 survey – well before home prices peaked – when 66 % said it was a good time.

Bottom Line

Our iconic financial newspaper, our nation’s real estate pricing expert, the wealthiest people in the country and 70% of everyone else think now is the time to buy a home. It probably makes sense to listen to them.

9/20/2010

Georgetown Stats - Week of September 13 - 19

According to the MRIS (Multiple Regional Information Systems, Inc), the following real estate transactions have taken place in Georgetown real estate during the week September 13 - 19.

5 new listings: 3 Single Family-SF ($745,000 - $1,845,000) and 2 Condo/Co-op-C/C ($655,000 - $1,750,000)

4 properties came under contract: 3 SF ($579,000 - $1,995,000) and 1 C/C ($314,500)

2 properties went to closing during this time frame: 1 SF ($13,450,000) and 1 C/C ($775,000)

Housing Affordability

Here is an in-depth look at the affordability index and how it might change in the coming months.  Affordability is near an all-time high based on mortgage rates and house prices.

Read more....  Affordability

9/15/2010

The resurgence of home buying!

With all the fear-inducing talk of foreclosures and short sales, there has not been much positive press in the past many months.  However, while that coverage has pointed out a real issue in the housing industry, it has ignored another part of it...namely that owning a house is still worthwhile.  There is a great article in the New York Times written by Karl Case of the Case-Schiller Report.  It is quite insightful and worth reading.  I'm sorry I can't provide a link here, but I encourage you to read it.  The title is “A Dream House After All”.

In that article he discusses several good points:

  1. Housing has never been cheaper, and is a great buy today.
  2. Prices will soon start to rise.
  3. Tax-free capital gains when we sell a property
  4. That we can deduct mortgage interest and real estate taxes.

One other thing he talks about is "imputed rent". He says, "you live in a house and so it provides you with a real flow of valuable services. This part of the yield is counted as part of national income by the Commerce Department. It is the equivalent of about a 6% return on your investment after maintenance and repair, and it is constant over time in real terms."; i.e. if you rent, you pay a landlord.  If you own a house, you pay yourself.

9/13/2010

Some reason for hope in the economy

From an article in the Washington Post, September 2nd by Neil Irwin:  Five reasons for economic optimism.
  1. Higher savings rate:  More money to spend in the months ahead
  2. Credit is easing, supporting growth
  3. Manufacturing sector holding up
  4. Housing may have hit the bottom
  5. Trade:  with other world economies doing better than the U.S., domestic growth could be helped.

Georgetown Stats - week of September 6 -12

According to the MRIS (Multiple Regional Information Systems, Inc), the following real estate transactions have taken place in Georgetown real estate during the week September 6 - 12.

19 new listings: 13 Single Family-SF ($815,000 - $5,450,000) and 6 Condo/Co-op-C/C ($499,000 - $1,130,000)

5 properties came under contract: 3 SF ($950,000 - $2,195,000) and 2 C/C ($549,000 - $575,000)

3 properties went to closing during this time frame: 3 SF ($1,095,000 - $1,895,000) and 0 C/C

Georgetown Stats - week of August 30 - September 5

According to the MRIS (Multiple Regional Information Systems, Inc), the following real estate transactions have taken place in Georgetown real estate during the week August 30 - September 5.

9 new listings: 5 Single Family-SF ($579,000 - $1,749,000) and 4 Condo/Co-op-C/C  ($499,000 - $925,000)

2 properties came under contract: 2 SF ($999,000 - $1,795,000) and 0 C/C

4 properties went to closing during this time frame: 4 SF ($880,000 - $1,490,000) and 0 C/C

9/09/2010

Just got back from Florida....

I just returned from Florida where I helped my parents celebrate their 70th (!) wedding anniversary.  It was a great time with them, but seeing the real estate market there made me grateful for being here. 

The market there is really suffering from the poor economy, lack of jobs and tight mortgage money.  My gratitude for living and working in this area is not about schadenfreude, because I know there are plenty of people suffering here as well.  But we are doing better!

8/30/2010

Georgetown Stats - week of August 23 - 29

According to the MRIS (Multiple Regional Information Systems, Inc), the following real estate transactions have taken place in Georgetown real estate during the week August 23 - 29.

3 new listings: 3 Single Family-SF ($849,000 - $1,295,000) and 0 Condo/Co-op-C/C

4 properties came under contract: 1 SF ($1,300,000) and 3 C/C ($499,000 - $2,495,000)

3 properties went to closing during this time frame: 2 SF ($829,000 - $1,295,000) and 1 C/C ($349,000)

Renting trumped by Homeownership

In the article linked below one can see good reasons to move towards owning rather than renting.  It's not just about money.

5 Reasons to Buy

8/25/2010

5 ways to make your house stand out

With the current news that the real estate market has slowed again, this is a good time to think about what might help your house sell if you want to put it on the market.  Though there are many things to think about in selling these are 5 good, basic ideas:

  1. Focus on the price
  2. I'm NOT a short sale or foreclosure
  3. Look your best
  4. Use a professional photographer
  5. Selling v. leasing
These come from an article by Allison Linn of AP.  To read the full article, click here 5 Ideas

Georgetown Stats - week of August 16 - 22

According to the MRIS (Multiple Regional Information Systems, Inc), the following real estate transactions have taken place in Georgetown real estate during the week August 16 - 22.

2 new listings:  0 SF and 2 C/C ($314,500 - $499,000)

1 properties came under contract: 0 SF and 1 C/C ($559,000)

8 properties went to closing during this time frame: 4 SF ($899,000 - $1,250,000) and 4 C/C ($550,000 - $2,995,000)

Georgetown Stats - week of August 9 - 15

According to the MRIS (Multiple Regional Information Systems, Inc), the following real estate transactions have taken place in Georgetown real estate during the week August 9 - 15.

0 new listings
3 properties came under contract: 3 SF ($815,000 - $1,399,000) and 0 C/C
2 properties went to closing during this time frame: 2 SF ($699,000 - $1,895,000) and 0 C/C

8/12/2010

24 Rooms in 350 Square Feet!!

In the article linked below one can watch a video of an architect in Hong Kong as he moves the walls around in his 350SF apartment. The moveable walls make it possible for him to have 24 different configurations, and as a result, sizeable kitchen, living room, bath, bedroom and more in a tiny apartment.

24 Rooms

8/11/2010

Mad As Hell

It seems there is a lot of anger in the air.  The article linked below details many examples.  The writer doesn't mention real estate, but we have it in spades....sellers mad at buyers for not paying their price; buyers mad at sellers for not accepting their offer; clients mad at agents for not getting them what they think they deserve; agents mad at each other for being disrespectful; owners mad at contractors for not doing the job right; contractors mad at owners for not paying up....  and it goes on and on. 

There is always some level of anxiety and anger in this and other businesses.  But it seems particularly bad right now, and it is no doubt related to the larger issues of the world...unemployment, fear, debt, natural disasters, heat.  

To the extent we can find it in us to give others the benefit of the doubt, we can help ameliorate some of the anger.  Or at least can help do so in ourselves, which will inevitably spread to others.  The old idea of counting to 10 when angry seems pretty useful today.

Read more here....Mad As Hell

8/09/2010

Georgetown Stats - week of August 2 - 8

According to the MRIS (Multiple Regional Information Systems, Inc), the following real estate transactions have taken place in Georgetown real estate during the week August 2 - 8.

4 new listings: 2 Single Family (SF) ($815,000- $1,200,000) and 2 Condo/Co-op (C/C) ($559,000 - $875,000)

4 properties came under contract: 4 SF ($829,000 - $1,095,000) and 0 C/C

2 properties went to closing during this time frame: 0 SF and 2 C/C ($588,885 - $2,100,000)

Want to sell a house? Start a business...

Whoever talks about the real estate market these days almost always talks about jobs.  The uncertainty in the job market has more impact on housing than any other single factor with which we are dealing.  People who don't have jobs, who are afraid of losing a job, or don't see any salary increases on the horizon, are not likely to buy a house.  Those who are particularly afraid are those at the entry level, and until these folks are feeling more secure, and begin to buy their first homes, those further up the line (2nd, 3rd, and 4th homes) have no one to sell to.

Here is an interesting article about job creation by startup businesses.  If each of us selling a house could start a business we'd be in gret shape.

Aug 03 2010 3:34pm EDT

Startups Vital to Job Creation
Startups are an even more important source of long-term job growth than previously thought, according to a new study by the Kauffman Foundation.

Previous research by Kauffman established that startups are responsible for all net new job creation in the U.S. economy. But since many startups fail, economists believed many of the jobs they created evaporated as well. A new study by Kauffman, however, found the startups that survive create enough additional jobs to make up for a lot of the jobs that are lost when unsuccessful ventures close.

Kauffman used census data to look at how startups founded in 2000 fared five years later. In 2000, startups created just over 3 million jobs. By 2005, half of these startups were still in business, and they employed more than 2.4 million people, about 78 percent of the total employed by all the startups in 2000.

The organization looked back at startup statistics dating back to 1977, and found that 20 percent of startups survive for at least 25 years. At this point, these survivors employ about 68 percent of the total employed by all the startups in the year of their founding.

The fact that the number of surviving startups shrink much faster than their employment numbers shows that the survivors keep growing, even as they mature.

Charles Darwin would be proud: Evolution works in business, as well as in biology. The fittest firms survive, and continue to create jobs.

Even firms founded in difficult times, such as today’s weak economy, can expect to catch up with other firms in terms of job growth, if they’ve got the right stuff.

“Starting a company during a recession adversely affects the new firm for only a limited time,” said study co-author Robert Litan, vice president of research and policy at Kauffman, a Kansas City-based organization that studies and promotes entrepreneurship.

“While a recession has a negative effect on a company’s employment in the first few years, a recession does not impose lasting consequences on startups,” he said. “By age five, these firms’ employment reaches roughly the same level as firms that were not started in recessions.”

So now is just as good as time as any to start a business -- if you can find the capital. Unfortunately, that’s currently a huge problem for many would-be entrepreneurs. Friends and family—one traditional source of capital for startups—don’t have as much money available to invest as they did before the 2008 stock market crash. Home equity isn’t what it used to be either.

Banks are hesitant to loan to startups unless an entrepreneur can put up a lot of collateral, and falling real estate values have made that harder as well. Venture capital firms began turning away from startups after the tech bubble burst a decade ago, and now even angel investors are putting more of their money in more established firms.

So what’s a poor entrepreneur to do? An increasing number are relying on credit cards. That’s an expensive form of capital, and an earlier Kauffman study found that startups with high credit card balances are less likely to survive than other startups.

Every $1,000 increase in credit card debt increases the probability a firm will close by 2.2 percent, Kauffman found.

Congress should pay attention to these Kauffman studies. Even though many startups fail, others survive and continue to grow, adding more jobs to the economy as time goes on. They need access to more than just credit cards, however, if they’re going to reach their job-creating potential.

Procedural disputes between Democrats and Republicans have delayed Senate action on legislation designed to get more capital into the hands of startups and other small businesses. It’s time for senators to do less political calculation, and more analysis on how the government can best foster another generation of startups, even in this weak economy.

Kent Hoover is the Washington bureau chief for bizjournals.
Read more: http://www.portfolio.com/views/blogs/capital/2010/08/03/small-business-is-big-boost-for-the-labor-market/?ana=e_pft%22%20%5Cl%20%22ixzz0vejkspXC

8/06/2010

Georgetown Stats - week of July 26 - August 1

According to the MRIS (Multiple Regional Information Systems, Inc), the following real estate transactions have taken place in Georgetown real estate during the week July 26 - August 1.

7 new listings: 4 Single Family (SF) ($955,000- $4,000,000) and 3 Condo/Co-op (C/C) ($424,900 - $549,000)

5 properties came under contract: 5 SF ($939,000 - $1,525,000) and 0 C/C

9 properties went to closing during this time frame: 8 SF ($699,000 - $2,195,000) and 1 C/C ($369,000)

7/28/2010

6 Ways to tell if your Realtor is lying.

This is the title of a web article I ran across the other day.  Since I'M a Realtor, you may not be able to believe anything I'm about to say, but if you give me the benefit of the doubt, I'll say why I think the article and its title are baloney.  Or perhaps pose the question, "How do you know when web-writers are lying"?

The title did grab my interest.  Unfortunately the title reinforces an untrue stereotype that Realtor's are liars. The writer seems either very paranoid, or simply very mean-spirited. Either way, her writing becomes suspect from the getgo.  Her article is based on her research as to how to tell when people are lying.  Maybe her research is accurate...I HAVE seen some of her "techniques" on a couple of TV shows about detectives who solve crimes by studying suspected criminals for signs that they are lying.  Maybe this author lives in a fantasy world also.

In the real world, Realtors are easy to pick on.  We are very public people and we put ourselves on the line every day in very complex situations.  One of our prime skills is the ability to guide clients through the real estate purchasing maze.  When our task is to help someone buy a house, we must sort through dozens of potential properties in numerous neighborhoods, make arrangements with listing agents to show the chosen properties, take our clients around to see the properties, help them evaluate each property for price, location and amenities, help them fill out the proper contract and disclosure forms, advise them as to which forms are critical to the process, help them understand how the process works, help them sort out the terms they want to offer an owner, negotiate the offer through the listing agent and owner, help our client understand whether a counter-offer is realistic or not, etc, etc...and then help arrange inspections, financing and settlement, handling the myriad details of all those processes. 

An intimate business relationship is developed.  This is an emotional time for most clients.  There are plenty of things out of the control of either the client or the buyer agent, and as a result, plenty of opportunity for expectations not to be met.  The Realtor is on the front line, and while she gets paid for the work, she also is the handiest and most intimate target for disappointments.

All the above is the truth and nothing but the truth... :)

7/23/2010

Home affordability at best level in 10 years

Thanks in part to interest rates continuing at all-time lows, home affordability in the U.S. remains near the most attractive levels in 10 years. In addition, HUD's Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP)has spurred local investment and is beginning to make affordably priced homes available to consumers.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of the Treasury released the second edition of the Administration's Housing Scorecard showing:

Historic low rates continue to promote affordability: Families continue to benefit from the lowest rates in history on 30-year fixed mortgages. Since April of 2009, record low rates have helped more than 7.2 million homeowners to refinance, resulting in more stable home prices and $12.9 billion in total borrower savings.

Over twice as many homeowners helped compared to foreclosure completions: Nearly three million borrowers have received restructured mortgages since April 2009, outpacing the 1.24 million foreclosure completions for the same period. As more families are able to remain in their homes, household assets continue to rise with $1.1 trillion in home equity gained since April 2009.

Meanwhile, data in the scorecard show that the recovery of the housing market remains fragile; with some measures suggesting recovery will take place over time. For example, in May, sales of new and existing sales dropped after the expiration of the tax credit, and the supply of homes on and off the market remains near all-time highs; it will take time to work through this large inventory.

Complete Housing Scorecard available by clicking here:
http://portal.hud.gov/portal/page/portal/HUD/initiatives/Housing%20Scorecard

7/20/2010

5 Real Estate Scams To Be Aware Of

This is of more immediate interest to Realtors than to non-Realtors, but is a fascinating look into the schemes unscrupulous people are able to come up with....

Don't be duped by mortgage fraud. Here are a few common scams and the red flags you should look for in a transaction.
By Melissa Dittmann Tracey
August 2010

Mortgage fraud is pervasive: An estimated $4 billion to $6 billion in annual losses result from mortgage fraud, according to FBI reports. “An entire community can be damaged by mortgage fraud,” says Rachel Dollar, a lawyer from Santa Rosa, Calif., and editor of the Mortgage Fraud Blog. Mortgage fraud can lead to a spike in foreclosures, home values plummeting, and lenders raising their rates and fees to recover losses.
The crimes are often complex, involving several parties and occurring over multiple transactions. To protect you and your clients, educate yourself about mortgage fraud and be on guard for any warning signs in a transaction. You can start by reviewing these five scams, and then test your knowledge by taking our Mortgage Fraud Quiz.

1. The Foreclosure Rescue Scheme

The Scam: “Rescuers” promise cash-strapped home owners that they can save their home from foreclosure. The rescue, which involves paying upfront fees, can take multiple forms, such as the perpetrator obtaining a new loan on behalf of the owner or by having the owner sign over the home’s deed and then rent the home until they can repurchase it. Eventually, the home owner loses the home, either to foreclosure or the fictitious rescue company.

Red Flags: With foreclosure rescue programs, borrowers are often advised to sign over the title of their house to a third party, become renters of their home, not contact their lender, or send mortgage payments to a third party, according to Fannie Mae, which provides fact sheets on mortgage fraud.

2. Loan Documentation Fraud

The Scam: This fraud involves numerous schemes in which a borrower provides inaccurate financial information — such as about their income, assets, and liabilities — or employment status in order to qualify for a loan with lower rates and more favorable terms. Occupancy fraud is one growing area: Borrowers say they plan to live in the property when they actually intend to rent it.
Red Flags: Documentation may raise suspicion if the employer’s address is shown as a post office box, accumulation of assets compared to the person’s income appears too high or low, the new house is too small to accommodate occupants, the person has no credit history, or the application is unsigned or undated, according to Fannie Mae.

3. Appraisal Fraud

The Scam: A faulty appraisal — saying a property is worth more than what it really is — is connected to many types of mortgage fraud. It entails manipulating or overstating comparables, market values, or property characteristics in order to obtain a higher appraisal. The higher property appraisal, which generates false equity, is done by falsifying an appraisal document or using an appraiser accomplice to obtain the higher value.

Red Flags: Be skeptical of appraisals that are dated prior to the sales contract, list comparable sales that do not contain similarities to the property or are outside the neighborhood, the owner is not the seller listed on the contract or the title, or a third party participating in the transaction orders the appraisal, Freddie Mac warns.

4. Illegal Property Flipping

The Scam: This entails purchasing properties and reselling them at inflated prices. These scams usually involve faulty appraisals and inaccurate loan documents. The property is then refinanced or resold immediately after purchase for an inflated value. The home is purchased at a higher price, often by straw buyers working with the “flipper,” and eventually falls into foreclosure.

Red Flags: Some key things to look for are rapid refinancing of a property; the seller recently having acquired the title or acquiring the title concurrent with the transaction; an appraisal that comes in too high; a property that was recently in foreclosure being purchased at a much lower price than its sales price; or the owner listed on the appraisal and title not matching the seller on the sales contract, according to Fannie Mae.

5. Short Sales Schemes
The Scam: Borrowers owe more than the current value of their home so they fake financial hardship and no longer make their mortgage payments. An accomplice of the borrower then submits a low offer to purchase the property in a short sale agreement. The lender agrees to the short sale, unaware that it was premeditated. The property, after being purchased at the reduced price, is then often resold at the home’s actual value for profit.

Red Flags: The borrower suddenly defaults on the mortgage with no workout discussions with the lender, an immediate offer is made to a lender at a short sale price, the short sale offer is less than current market value, or a cash back is offered at closing to the delinquent borrower (disguised as “repairs” or other payouts, for example) and is not disclosed to the lender, according to Fannie Mae.

You can report instances of suspected mortgage fraud to Stopfraud.gov.

Melissa Dittmann Tracey is the multimedia Web producer of REALTOR® magazine. She can be reached at mtracey@realtors.org.

7/19/2010

Georgetown Stats - week of July 12 - 18

According to the MRIS (Multiple Regional Information Systems, Inc), the following real estate transactions have taken place in Georgetown real estate during the week July 12 -18.

7 new listings: 5 Single Family (SF) ($1,425,000 - $5,995,000) and 2 Condo/Co-op (C/C) ($581,000 - $588,885)

2 properties came under contract: 2 SF ($949,000 - $1,495,000) and 0 C/C
5 properties went to closing during this time frame: 3 SF ($1,475,000 - $2,300,000) and 2 C/C ($399,000 - $539,000)

7/15/2010

Frugal Tips for Making a Home More Appealing

I just ran across this article from Bankrate.com, and like the suggestions it gives....

Homeowners who want to sell but don’t have a lot of cash to spruce up their properties might consider these tips from Bankrate.com for upgrading a property without spending a fortune.
 Polish up the kitchen. Add new cabinet door handles, replace lighting and update the faucet set. Unless the cabinets are mica, give them a fresh coat of paint. Order new doors for kitchen appliances.


Tidy up the bath. Replace the toilet seat. Clean up the floor with vinyl tiles or sheet vinyl applied over the old floor. Re-grout the tub and, if the tub is dingy, add a new prefabricated tub and shower surround.

Paint the walls.


Add closet systems to all the bedrooms, pantry, and entry closets.


Hire a plumber and an electrician to fix anything that is loose or that leaks.


Clean the carpets or, if they are worn, cover them with area rugs.


Replace ceiling lights with inexpensive but attractive fixtures.


Refinish or repaint the front door and replace the hardware.


Mow the lawn, edge the sidewalks, mulch all the beds and put two big planters at either side of the front door.


Source: Bankrate.com (07/14/2010)

7/14/2010

Only Top 2 percent will pay new "Sales Tax" on Homes

A big piece of legislation like the health care reform act understandably sparks a lot of questions. The massive law, officially known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, was signed into law by President Obama in March but it will take some time for the American public to understand the nature of the changes.

The law includes provisions about how the government will pay for health care services, one of which is a “sales tax” on real estate. It’s important to understand that, while this tax does exist, it’s unlikely to affect most of us. In fact, The Tax Foundation estimates that only the top-earning two percent of families in this country are likely to be impacted at all.

• The 3.8 percent tax on profits from the sale of investments, which includes real estate, applies only to individuals who make more than $200,000 per year, or married couples filing jointly who earn more than $250,000 per year.

• For those who make more than the cut-off, the tax won’t be applied to the first $250,000 in profit from the sale of a personal residence—or $500,000 if a married couple sells their home.

• The exclusion for the first $250,000 in profit (or $500,000 for a married couple) does not, however, apply to vacation homes or rental properties. Those properties—only for those who exceed the income limitations—will be subject to the tax.

• This new rule does not take effect until January 1, 2013.

7/12/2010

Georgetown Stats - week of July 5 - 11

According to the MRIS (Multiple Regional Information Systems, Inc), the following real estate transactions have taken place in Georgetown real estate during the week July 5-11.

13 new listings: 8 Single Family (SF) ($949,000 - $2,495,000) and 5 Condo/Co-op (C/C) ($349,000 - $950,000)

3 properties came under contract: 1 SF ($1,045,000) and 2 C/C ($399,000 - $2,100,000)

3 properties went to closing during this time frame: 3 SF ($950,000 - $1,269,000) and 0 C/C

7/09/2010

Georgetown Stats - week of June 28 - July 4

According to the MRIS (Multiple Regional Information Systems, Inc), the following real estate transactions have taken place in Georgetown real estate during the week 6/28-July 4.

1 new listing: 0 Single Family (SF) and 1 Condo/Co-op (C/C) ($950,000)

2 properties came under contract: 1 SF ($1,495,000) and 1 C/C ($674,900)

4 properties went to closing during this time frame: 2 SF ($649,000 - $1,299,000) and 2 C/C ($459,000 - $829,000)

7/07/2010

Rocking before Rolling

A great deal of the success in selling a property is in the preparation for sale.  If one's eye is on "the sale" rather than the myriad details of preparation, one is likely to overlook necessary details and wind up without a sale, or at a price lower than desired. 

I'm reading a book by Judy Tillman titled "Stroke of Insight".  She is a brain scientest who had a massive stroke, and survived to write this very detailed book about that experience.  In describing the first few days after her stroke, she tells about her desire to recover physically, and on this particular day, her desire to simply sit up.  But before she can even think about sitting up, she has to learn to roll over.  And it takes every ounce of her energy and determination to rock back and forth to gain enough momemtum to roll over. 

Her conclusion is that if her goal had been sitting up, she would have been defeated immediately.  By setting a goal first to rock, and then second to roll, and then third to eventually sit up, she was able to accomplish one goal at a time...leading to sitting up finally.

So focus on "rocking" with your house, before "rolling" with it.

7/02/2010

Jobs and Georgetown Housing


Thankfully we live in one of the most stable parts of the world with regard to jobs. That is one of the things which has kept us moving forward in the housing market in general. But the national drag on real estate has been significant as a result of job losses. That, in turn keeps a lid on our Georgetown market. We aren't "hurting" as in the quote below, but it reinforces the concept that while all real estate is local, we are connected globally.

"....many analysts are now predicting that employment won’t revive significantly until 2011. This doesn’t bode well for the immediate recovery of the housing market. "If you're looking for a silver lining in housing, you aren't going to find it here," Mike Larson of Weiss Research said in a report.

"The overall economy is rolling over, consumer confidence is slumping, and, most importantly, we just aren't creating jobs," Larson added. "With so many Americans unemployed or underemployed, the housing market is going to keep hurting."

Source: U.S. News & World Report, Luke Mullins (07/01/2010)

Location, Location, Location.....and Walkability


We all know that location is key to achieving the best possible price for a property. But only recently have we really begun focusing in on the "walkability" of the area in which the property resides. This is good news for DC, including Georgetown. We've always been walkers here, but it's good to know that others are noticing this amenity. Nancy Keates in the WSJ says, "The increasing interest among Americans in walkability is spawning a change in attitude about the desirability of not only urban areas, but also suburbs — both old and new — that have nearby amenities that can be reached on foot.

Having amenities within walking distance can boost the value of a home as much as $3,000, according to one study. Another found that “location efficiency,” a measure of transportation costs, affected the number of foreclosures in a neighborhood. "

Source: The Wall Street Journal, Nancy Keates (07/02/2010)

6/30/2010

Georgetown Stats - week of June 21 - 27

According to the MRIS (Multiple Regional Information Systems, Inc), the following real estate transactions have taken place in Georgetown real estate during the week 6/21-27

5 new listings: 3 Single Family (SF) ($1,395,000- $1,995,000) and 2 Condo/Co-op (C/C) ($639,000 - $795,000)

5 properties came under contract: 4 SF ($699,000 - $3,450,000) and 1 C/C ($775,000)

5 properties went to closing during this time frame: 2 SF ($1,699,000 - $2,375,000) and 3 C/C ($339,000 - $1,995,000)

6/24/2010

Georgetown Stats - week of June 14 - 20

According to the MRIS (Multiple regional information Service), the following real estate transactions have taken place in Georgetown real estate during the week 6/14-20.

11 new listings: 4 Single Family (SF) ($1,045,000- $6,995,000) and 7 Condo/Co-op (C/C) ($249,000 - $2,100,00)

5 properties came under contract: 2 SF ($759,000 - $2,195,000) and 3 C/C ($369,000 - $559,000)

5 properties went to closing during this time frame: 4 SF ($785,000 - $1,995,000) and 1 C/C ($799,000)

The Sky Is Falling...or...maybe not.


HOME SALES ARE PLUMMETING!

-No, they're not!

-Yes, they are!!

-No, they're not!!!

-Well the Washington Post says so!

-Actually, the Post headline is referring to NEW HOME sales (See "Behind the Headlines" below).

-Oh. Well, what about resale?

-Compared to May of last year, May’s sales were UP 19.2 percent. Furthermore, new home sales made up only 5% of all home sales in May.

AND...the headlines we read and hear are National statistics, not local ones. We aren't necessarily setting the world on fire at the moment in DC, but we are definitely ahead of most of the rest of the world.

For local real estate news check out Long & Foster's Market Minutes


Behind the headlines

The news agencies and media are reporting:

• Big decreases in home sales
• Housing stats paint a deteriorating housing recovery
• The housing market is "double dipping"


The facts are:

• New home sales (only 5 percent of the market) are down, but existing home sales (95 percent of the market) are up.
• Written contracts were down in May, but we projected this with the pull-forward phenomenon caused by the tax credits.
• We expect June numbers to get back on track as the market works through the ripple effects of the tax credit.


If you are interested in more about this, my company, Long & Foster has a number of statistical resources I can either send you or point you in the direction of... Or click this link for immediate info: Long & Foster's Market Minutes

6/14/2010

Power in baldness

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Baldness has genius, power, and magic in it”

This is a great quote attributed to Goethe, and I ran across it on a real estate web site. If you look at my picture on my blog you will note that I am bald. So you can imagine how excited I was to see that someone as famous as Goethe had memorialized what I have always known to be true.

However, having sung a lot of German songs set to texts by Goethe, it struck me that this didn’t really sound like something he would have written. So I googled it. Not surprisingly I found that this quote doesn’t come from Goethe…not to mention the fact that the quote isn’t about “bald” guys, but rather about “bold” guys.

Either way, I’m on board…a bold, bald guy!

Georgetown Stats - week of June 7 - 13

According to the MRIS (Multiple regional information Service), the following real estate transactions have taken place in Georgetown real estate during the week 6/7-13.

5 new listings: 4 Single Family (SF) ($1,290,000- $1,650,000) and 1 Condo/Co-op (C/C) ($1,579,000)

6 properties came under contract: 4 SF ($1,299,000 - $1,895,000) and 2 C/C ($459,000 - $539,000)

4 properties went to closing during this time frame: 3 SF ($1,095,000 - $2,475,000) and 1 C/C ($559,900)

The Zen of home buying

I was running through a light rain last week on my way from my office to the Safeway. As I ran with my shoulders hunched, my eyes squinting, and my head down, it occurred to me that whether I hunched my shoulders or not, I was still going to get equally as wet. So I raised my head, lowered my shoulders and opened my eyes. I did keep jogging along…but the process of getting wet was a whole lot more comfortable…and almost enjoyable. I didn’t particularly enjoy being wet at the Safeway, so that of course, became a different Zen exercise.

So it is with the home buying process. There are going to be bumps along the way between ratifying a contract, and actually going to settlement. Sometimes there will be big bumps, but all of them are like raindrops of stress. (Maybe some are even hail stones of stress!). In any case, even if you do get wet from the stress, you might find the process more comfortable if you acknowledge the near certainty of stressful events, and allow yourself to relax through them. Most of the time your Realtor, your loan officer and/or your settlement attorney will help you figure out how to do that. And if the hailstones get too big…call me!

6/08/2010

Georgetown Stats - week of May 31 - June 6

According to the MRIS (Multiple regional information Service), the following real estate transactions have taken place in Georgetown real estate during the week 5/31 - 6/6

7 new listings: 5 Single Family (SF) ($699,000- $1,590,000) and 2 Condo/Co-op (C/C) ($625,000 - $925,000)

4 properties came under contract: 3 SF ($750,000 - $950,000) and 1 C/C ($895,000)

6 properties went to closing during this time frame: 3 SF ($629,000 - $1,150,000) and 3 Condo ($514,900 - $3,200,000)

6/03/2010

Let's go to the video!


Here is a link to several videos regarding the state of the real estate market in our area. Take a look at...


6/01/2010

Georgetown Stats - week of May 24 - 30

According to the MRIS (Multiple regional information Service), the following real estate transactions have taken place in Georgetown real estate during the week 5/24 -30

7 new listings: 3 Single Family (SF) ($750,000- $2,795,000) and 4 Condo/Co-op (C/C) ($389,000 - $985,000)

3 properties came under contract: 3 SF ($1,250,000 - $2,195,000) and 0 C/C

5 properties went to closing during this time frame: 4 SF ($579,000 - $4,250,000) and 1 Condo ($499,000)

5/26/2010

Great Historical Lecture coming up.

Washington at Home: An Illustrated History of Neighborhoods in the Nation’s Capital
Edited By Kathryn Schneider Smith


Using maps and contemporary and historical images, Kathy Smith will discuss the common threads in the history of the city that run through the stories of the twenty six unique Washington neighborhoods featured in this revised and updated, eagerly awaited, second edition of Washington at Home. Lavishly illustrated with more than 300 images, this edition adds new neighborhoods from across the city to the original text, first published in 1988. The book brings together the work of thirty authors—historians, museum professionals, librarians, a folklorist, a journalist and others who know Washington intimately and together have taken a fresh look at the social and physical history of the city. New chapters include Barry Farm/Hillsdale, Columbia Heights, Congress Heights, Kenilworth, the Palisades, Wesley Heights and Spring Valley, and an area once called East Washington Heights that includes Dupont Park, Hillcrest, Penn Branch, and Randle Highlands.

Kathryn Schneider Smith, a historian, author, and editor, is the founding executive director of Cultural Tourism DC, a past president of the Historical Society of Washington, D.C. and the founding editor of its journal, Washington History. (Ages 16 to Adults) No RSVP required. FREE.

5/25/2010

DC Metro Market Conditions Report

This report gives an overview of the DC Metro region. If you are interested in the full report, I can send it to you via email. The entire report is too lengthy to reproduce here.

Just let me know at darrell@lnf.com

5/24/2010

Georgetown Stats- week of May 17 - 23

According to the MRIS (Multiple regional information Service), the following real estate transactions have taken place in Georgetown real estate during the week 5/17 - 5/23:

3 new listings: 2 Single Family (SF) ($950,000- $1,895,000) and 1 Condo/Co-op (C/C) ($539,000)

5 properties came under contract: 2 SF ($995,000 - $1,995,000) and 3 C/C ($475,000 - $869,000)

1 property went to closing during this time frame: 1 Condo ($379,000)

Graduation as a means to hope.

I just got back from graduation at Hamilton College, where I heard Jeffrey R. Immelt, the CEO of GE, give the commencement address. It was reassuring to watch 500 students receive their degrees, to hear their leaders speak with optimism, and to listen to Mr. Immelt talk about the world as though it was a place he expects to continue to exist and improve...despite oil spills, war, economic trouble, etc.

Even better was to feel the energy of the students who are passionate and full of energy. All of that renews my faith in the future of our world; more specifically the Georgetown real estate world.

Here are a number of real estate related headlines which I ran across today, from which we can draw hope.

Fed researchers predict speedy economic recovery
Housing starts rise 5.8 percent in April
Home prices up for March
Homeowner confidence rises nationally
Optimistic outlook for housing, but challenges remain
Builder confidence continues to strengthen in May
Moody's home price outlook: distressed sales key to speed of recovery
Housing demand reflects job growth

Let me know if you would like to read the stories attached to these headlines. darrell@lnf.com

5/20/2010

More about the housing numbers...

I sift through statistics from several different sources, and as I have mentioned before, I try to make a distinction between national and regional stats, and local stats. The latter are the most difficult to track, because while there are plenty of sources tracking the real estate market nationally and regionally, there is next to nothing when it comes to smaller local areas. The Georgetown real estate market is very different from the national one...and, even within what qualifies as "Georgetown", the market varies a fair amount.

I look at statistics from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the Greater Capital Area Association of Realtors (GCAAR), the regional multiple listing system (MRIS), and various independent housing reports. I'm happy to tell you how to reach these reports. Just send me an email if interested.

The value of the NAR and GCAAR statistics, with regard to Georgetown, is that it gives us the big picture of price and sales trends. These trends reflect the Georgetown market in a general sense, and these trends have an impact on our market because this is the info nearly everyone reads and hears about in the news. However when our averages are lumped in with Las Vegas, for instance, it isn't an accurate reflection of Georgetown. In this case, our market never tanked the way it did in Las Vegas...in numbers of sales, price drops, foreclosure rates, etc. While we have suffered, we have been fortunate compared to almost every other city in the US.

Here is a long article from the NAR which, if you like this sort of thing, you will find interesting.

Using Housing and Economic Data
by Jed Smith, Managing Director, Quantitative Research

Disjointed factoids from the evening news frequently substitute for economic information. When making important decisions, such as buying a home, consumers may not always have all the facts; after all, economics is not first on everybody’s list. In last month’s Real Estate Insights, we looked at key economic variables that can shed light on where the housing market is headed: employment, interest rates, consumer mood, and Gross Domestic Product (GDP). A brief discussion of the actual data for the state of the economy can provide the facts—in contrast to the opinions available on talk shows.

In our monthly data (tracking sales and prices for Existing Home Sales - EHS), the monthly data fluctuate a bit from month-to-month and show where the housing market is based on the annualization of the current month’s sales. The monthly data can also be summed over a 12 month period to obtain a “12 month roll,” as discussed below.

Given the current media focus on housing – especially as it relates to the economy in general – it is not surprising that the news has been filled with information on home sales and trends. An examination of the national data indicates the market is recovering. Sales fluctuate from month to month, but total sales measured on a 12 month rolling basis show a housing market in recovery mode. A “12 month roll” is the summation of total sales over the previous month; each month there is a new “12 month roll” as an additional month is added to the calculation and a month a year ago is dropped. Looking at these rolls over a time period shows the overall trend of the market. This information can be used in conjunction with NAR’s monthly annualized figures to get a feeling for where the market has been, where the market currently is, and where the market is trending. Home sales data at the national level can be used in conjunction with local data to discuss comparisons of national and local trends.

Home prices are also a matter of concern to potential home buyers and home sellers, as well as their real estate agents., investors and policy makers. The current data on home price trends appear to indicate that housing prices are leveling out. This information is consistent with what we have been hearing from a variety of experts around the country. While we hear a lot about home prices on the news, a comparison of the national trends and those in local markets could provide potential home purchasers with useful information.

Finally, whether a household can actually afford to purchase a home is certainly a crucial factor in the home buying decision. NAR’s measure of affordability – the NAR Housing Affordability Index (HAI) is based on interest rates and prices. The HAI shows that affordability is at a ten-year historical high in terms of affordability. Again, the comparison of national trends and local experience can provide a benchmark of the current market and serve as the basis for the discussion of the outlook. What may be most helpful to home buyers and their REALTORS® is to look at the trends relating to percent of household income spent on principal and interest payments.

In conclusion, a few readily available pieces of economic and housing market data – rather than sometimes wild assertions found in blogs -- can provide some insight both about the course of the economy as well as housing. A few charts of data can portray housing trends. The information at the national level can be combined with local data for specific markets and should give an improved overview of the housing markets.

5/17/2010

The Poetry of Real Estate.

Can we learn anything specifically about the real estate market or business from a poem?

I couldn't think of any poems I had read about real estate...aside from the limerick-like doggerel I have written myself, or heard from other real estate practitioners. So I did a little research. And to my surprise found many poems about houses and their inhabitants. I especially liked this one from 1898 by Rudyard Kipling because in the 2nd stanza it expresses a reality we still face in the current real estate market.

The Houses
1898 -- A Song of the Dominions

'Twixt my house and thy house the pathway is broad,
In thy house or my house is half the world's hoard;
By my house and thy house hangs all the world's fate,
On thy house and my house lies half the world's hate.

For my house and thy house no help shall we find
Save thy house and my house -- kin cleaving to kind;
If my house be taken, thine tumbleth anon.
If thy house be forfeit, mine followeth soon.

'Twixt my house and thy house what talk can there be
Of headship or lordship, or service or fee?
Since my house to thy house no greater can send
Than thy house to my house -- friend comforting friend;
And thy house to my house no meaner can bring
Than my house to thy house -- King counselling King.

Rudyard Kipling

Georgetown Stats- week of May 10 - 16

According to the MRIS (Multiple regional information Service), the following real estate transactions have taken place in Georgetown real estate during the week 5/10 - 5/16:

7 new listings: 4 Single Family (SF) ($1,350,000- $3,495,000) and 3 Condo/Co-op (C/C) ($475,000 - $1,750,000)

6 properties came under contract: 2 SF ($685,000 - $1,349,000) and 4 C/C ($499,000 - $1,895,000)

6 properties went to closing during this time frame: 2 SF ($1,290,000 - $1,335,000) and 4 C/C ($540,000 - $4,500,000)

5/13/2010

Those pesky numbers!

They say numbers don't lie, and I suppose if numbers could speak for themselves that might be the case. The problem though begins to arise when we subjective humans begin talking about the numbers.That's why I'd like to be clear as to the intended meaning of the statistices I generate weekly with respect to the Georgetown real estate market.

The source of the statistics is the MRIS (Multiple Regional Information System). This is a "Multiple Listing System" used by Realtors to keep track of active and sold properties. The definition of Georgetown in my stats is the area designated by MRIS as the "Advertised Subdivision" of Georgetown. All of Georgetown falls within the borders of zip code 20007, but this zip code also encompasses other advertised subdivisions, e.g. Glover Park.

I choose this narrow snapshot in order to give the best possible picture of our immediate, local listings and sales. If one compares these reports from one week to the next, one can begin to see some trends in numbers of sales, prices, etc.

I have chosen to provide the numbers without comment most of the time. Hopefully the raw data is useful for those who like drawing their own conclusions.

5/12/2010

Georgetown Stats- week of May 3 - 9

According to the MRIS (Multiple regional information Service), the following real estate transactions have taken place in Georgetown real estate during the week 5/3 - 5/9:

8 new listings: 8 Single Family (SF) ($599,000- $9,950,000) and 0 Condo/Co-op (C/C)

6 properties came under contract: 5 SF ($629,000 - $4,250,000) and 1 C/C ($639,000)

2 properties went to closing during this time frame: 1 SF ($1,425,000) and 1 C/C ($1,099,000)

5/03/2010

Have you done any renovations lately? You may have issues with drywall made in China

Not to be an alarmist, but if you have had any renovation work done in the past few years, you may want to at least investigate what kind of drywall was used in your project. You may have heard the news reports about defective drywall which was imported from China and used in construction projects in the U.S. Reports vary, but it seems that the first of the defective drywall was imported in 2001 and none has been imported since 2008. Although the dates of import are relatively well established, the dates of installation are not. Homes built or renovated since 2008 may be affected as well.

While most of the problems so far seem to be in southern States, it is my understanding that the “tainted” drywall has shown up in 32 states as well as in DC. Heat and humidity serve to exacerbate and accelerate the manifestation of the problems associated with this drywall. It is likely that many homes located in areas that are not exposed to high heat or humidity have not begun to experience issues. Because the symptoms have not yet become evident, the issue hasn't surfaced. This assumption is supported by several studies that are being conducted on problematic drywall.

Here is a good website from HUD: HUD Drywall Info

Georgetown Stats- week of April 26 - May 2

According to the MRIS (Multiple regional information Service), the following real estate transactions have taken place in Georgetown real estate during the week 4/26 - 5/2:

2 new listings: 2 Single Family ($829,000- $1,295,000) and 0 condo/co-op (C/C)

14 properties came under contract: 10 SF ($649,000 - $2,375,000) and 4 C/C ($799,000 -$5,750,000)

3 properties went to closing during this time frame: 1 C/C ($575,000) and 2 SF ($1,295,000 - 1,575,000)

4/29/2010

Good news about "Growth"!

Stephen Fuller, an economist and faculty chair at George Mason University, comments regularly on the DC Metro economy. His latest report, "The Future of the Washington Metropolitan Area Economy", is at the same time upbeat and cautionary. The cautionary part is that we have a lot of work to do to "upgrade" infrastructure, but having done that, we have tremendous growth expectation...in the next 20 years, population to increase by 1.67 million and 1.58 million net new jobs.

This will require significant new housing possibilities...new construction and rehab. Georgetown is not likely to be the site of much of this, but the Georgetown real estate market will benefit from the added demand for housing wherever that demand is initially located.

See the full report at http://www.cra-gmu.org/forecasts.htm

4/26/2010

Georgetown Stats - week of April 19 -25

According to the MRIS (Multiple regional information Service), the following real estate transactions have taken place in Georgetown real estate during the week of 4/19 - 4/25:

7 new listings: 5 Single Family ($759,000- $2,095,000) and 2 condo/co-op (C/C) ($525,000 - $5,995,000)

7 properties came under contract: 3 SF ($779,000 - $1,699,000) and 4 C/C ($450,000 -$5,500,000)

1 property went to closing during this time frame: 1 SF ($2,295,000)

4/21/2010

Many good housing signs

Georgetown real estate is for the most part not an "entry-level" neighborhood. Thus we are dependent in many instances on the lower priced properties to sell, so those owners can move up to higher priced properties. The good news right now is that first-time homebuyers, and investors have become much more active, and as a result the inventory of unsold properties has diminished. This is driven by an improving job market, lower house prices, continuing low interest rates and the tax credit for first-time buyers.

As that market improves, our Georgetown market will experience a surge. It may be a slow, deliberate "surge", but it will improve our outlook.

4/19/2010

Is NOW the time to buy?

That seems to be the eternal question, and it isn’t an easy one to answer given the complexity of reasons why any given person thinks about buying or not buying. But whether or not it is the best time, it certainly is a good time to buy. Interest rates are still very, very favorable. For many buyers the $8000 tax credit is still available (until April 30th unless it gets extended again). Prices have come down, and in some areas have come down a lot. And, there are short sales and foreclosures which are potentially great bargains. It’s hard to imagine a better scenario in which to buy a property.

Of course all of this assumes wanting to settle down in one place for a while; having the resources to buy without putting oneself in financial straits; being ready to take on the upkeep of a property; etc.

No one knows, of course, whether we have reached the “bottom” in the economy or the real estate market. The reality is that we won’t know we’ve reached that point until we are on the way up. Even if one thinks we haven’t bottomed out yet, there are many good reasons to buy now. Waiting for the possibility of lower prices is probably not going to gain anything. And if interest rates were to rise over the coming months, the advantage of a further drop in house prices would likely be nullified by the higher cost of mortgage money.

Finally, one's life circumstances are a very important piece of the puzzle. A house is not purely an investment. Historically, owning a house has been a wise financial investment, but it is also an investment in one’s quality of life. Too often we ignore that side of it. Depending on the reasons for buying, it is worth weighing the quality of life value against the financial investment value. Some buyers are willing to risk some of the financial value in exchange for a desired quality of life. Otherwise, I believe it is as good a time to buy now as it has ever been in my (27 years) experience.

There's a very good article in U.S. News & World Report, titled "The future of home-price appreciation." Buy Now?

4/16/2010

77 percent of Americans expect stable or rising home prices

According to a recent Gallup survey, seventy-seven percent of Americans expect home prices to rise or stay the same in the next 12 months. 34 percent of Americans expect the average price of houses around them to increase in the next year. Gallup reports that 43 percent of Americans expect housing prices to stay the same in the coming year. Confidence that prices will rise is strongest on the East and West coasts.

That confidence combined with low interest rates on government loans will mean more home sales in the short-term, Gallup said. Those sales, in turn, will stimulate the real estate market and larger economy.

The survey also noted that 72% of Americans think it’s a good time to buy a new home. But it also notes that the issue of job creation is an obstacle to feeling financially secure enough to buy.

To see the poll, go to Gallup

Single-women homebuyers: a growing segment

Results of the 2009 National Association of Realtors (NAR) Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers show that a significant share of homebuyers are single women. Indeed, the percentage of single-women buyers has increased from 14 percent in 1995 to 21 percent in 2009. These home purchasers account for the second largest share of adult households who purchase homes.

Single females make up one-quarter of the first-time buyer population and 17 percent of the repeat buyer population. Among single-female buyers, 58 percent were first-time homebuyers in 2009, compared to 47 percent of all homebuyers.

The median household income for single-women homebuyers was lower than that of all other homebuyer household types. Single females reported a median household income of $47,900 in 2008 compared to $73,100 among all home-buying households. This difference in household income should not be completely surprising as 68 percent of home-buying households are couples-and so perhaps likely to have two income earners.

The difference in median income for single women households compared to those for single men is less striking-single men typically made $53,700 in 2008. Additionally, single women households are less likely to have children living at home than couples.

While the majority of single female buyers purchase a single-family home, single female households are more likely than other household types to purchase an apartment/condominium or a townhouse/rowhouse. One in four single female buyers purchase a house in an urban area/central city, which is a higher percentage compared to all other household compositions except single males. Still, the majority of single female homebuyers purchase a home in the suburbs, similar to all buyers. Single female buyers are more likely to purchase an existing home than are other buyers.

Source: 2009 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, Jessica Lautz

4/14/2010

A weekend of Community

One of the things which makes Georgetown real estate a preference for many people is the sense of community. No better example of our community life are events happening the weekend of April 23rd and 24th. Right across from our office is Book Hill Park which is what gives our Book Hill neighborhood its name. And we are the center of the annual French Market with discounts up to 70% at 30+ Georgetown merchants, live entertainment, French food, and children's activities.


That same weekend on Saturday, we have The Georgetown House Tour. One can visit numerous Georgetown homes and gardens, and enjoy the Parish Tea at St. John's Church, with homemade tea sandwiches and sweets.


Details are available at http://www.georgetownhousetour.com/ and http://georgetowndc.com/event/book-hill-french-market1

4/13/2010

Georgetown Stats - week of April 12 - April 18

According to the MRIS (Multiple regional information Service), the following real estate transactions have taken place in Georgetown real estate during the week of 4/12 - 4/18:

7 new listings: 6 Single Family ($779,000- $2,380,000) and 1 condo/co-op (C/C) ($559,000)

6 properties came under contract: 4 SF ($579,000 - $1,995,000) and 2 C/C ($575,000-$725,000)

5 properties went to closing during this time frame: 2 SF ($835,000 - $1,995,000) and 3 C/C ($350,000 - $589,000)

4/12/2010

The increasing value of Eco-Friendly

Given the ever increasing interest in "green" technology and living, it isn't surprising that the real estate industry is adjusting to some new realities. In the past, when an agent put a client's property in the Multiple Listing System (MRIS), there was no particular place to highlight properties in which owners had invested in green technology.


So MRIS has just added several "green" categories to the listing profile in the system which enable listing agents to promote these unique positives in a given property. This is being driven by both buyers and sellers...buyers looking for property which has some of these features, and sellers wanting to differentiate their properties by virtue of these features.


Maybe more importantly, this will enable appraisers to more easily take eco-friendly features into account when appraising a property for sale.


4/09/2010

Interest rates not likely to rise in 2010

In a speech Thursday, Fed Governor Daniel Tarullo said, "The relatively modest pace of recovery, the continued high rate of unemployment, subdued inflation trends, and well-anchored inflation expectations together suggest that the need for highly accommodative monetary policies will not diminish soon.”

Likewise, Donald Kohn, Fed vice chairman in a speech in San Francisco, said the Fed would raise rates, “in due course,” but he also noted that low rates "help offset the lingering restraining effects on economic activity and prices."

So far, rates have risen modestly, but analysts speculate they will likely become much more volatile down the road. “It’s an uncertain type of market,” says Keith Gumbinger of HSH.com.Michael Fratantoni, vice president of research and economics for the Mortgage Bankers Association, predicts that the Fed will have created a situation where there are days or weeks of low-rate opportunities, and other days and weeks when rates rise significantly.

Sources: The Wall Street Journal, Nick Timiraos (04/08/2010), and The Wall Street Journal, Jon Hilsenrath (04/09/2010)

4/08/2010

Road closures on April 12 and 13

This is a notice from Jack Evans regarding road closures related to the 2010 Nuclear Security Summit coming up on April 12 and 13. I have quoted it in its entirety below.

As you may be aware, the District will be hosting the 2010 Nuclear Security Summit, taking place on Monday, April 12 and Tuesday, April 13 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. While this event will have the greatest impact on those living near the convention center, it will also result in rolling roadway closures and emergency vehicle caravans throughout many parts of Ward 2.

With this event will come several street closings, as well as parking restrictions (times of these restrictions vary block by block, so please be sure to refer to the posted Emergency No Parking signs), pedestrian screening, and changes to public transportation routes and trash/recycling pick up. My office has requested that street sweeping for streets immediately outside the “no parking” area be suspended on Monday, April 12 and Tuesday, April 13 to provide additional residential parking. In addition, the Mt. Vernon/Convention Center Metro stop on the green and yellow lines will be closed from midnight Sunday until 5am Wednesday morning.

Road closures and parking restrictions will begin as early as 10pm on Sunday, April 11.

Road closures will include:
• New York Avenue NW, eastbound and westbound from 6th Street, NW to 7th Street, NW and 9th Street, NW to 11th Street, NW
• K Street, NW, eastbound and westbound from 6th Street, NW to 7th Street, NW and 9th Street, NW to 10th Street, NW - Traffic will be allowed to run eastbound and westbound on K Street, NW between 7th Street, NW and 9th Street, NW but will then be diverted southbound on one of those two Streets
• Massachusetts Avenue NW, eastbound and westbound from 9th Street, NW to 11th Street, NW
• L Street, NW, eastbound and westbound from 6th Street, NW to 10th Street, NW
• M Street, NW, eastbound and westbound from 6th Street, NW to 10th Street, NW
• N Street, NW, eastbound and westbound from 6th Street, NW to 10th Street, NW
• 7th Street, NW, northbound and southbound from O Street, NW to Massachusetts Avenue NW
• 8th Street, NW, northbound and southbound from O Street, NW to N Street, NW
• 9th Street, NW, northbound and southbound from O Street, NW to New York Avenue NW
• 10th Street, NW, southbound from L Street, NW to New York Avenue NW
• There will be intermittent closures of other intersections in the vicinity of the Convention Center that will temporarily affect vehicular and pedestrian movement
Restricted parking will be in effect on:
• 7th Street, NW from Massachusetts Avenue NW to O Street, NW
• 8th Street, NW from N Street, NW to O Street, NW
• 9th Street, NW from New York Avenue NW to O Street, NW
• 10th Street, NW from New York Avenue NW to N Street, NW
• 11th Street, NW from H Street, NW to I Street, NW and K Street, NW to L Street, NW (1150 mid-block)
• 12th Street, NW from H Street, NW to I Street, NW and K Street, NW to L Street, NW (1150 mid-block)
• 13th Street, NW from H Street, NW to I Street, NW and the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue N
• 14th Street, NW near the intersection of New York Avenue NW
• N Street, NW from 6th Street, NW to 12th Street, NW
• M Street, NW from 6th Street, NW to 10th Street, NW
• L Street, NW from 6th Street, NW to 12th Street, NW
• K Street, NW from 6th Street, NW to 10th Street, NW
• Massachusetts Avenue NW from 6th Street, NW to 13th Street, NW
• New York Avenue NW from 6th Street, NW to 14th Street, NW (mid-block)
• H Street, NW from 13th Street, NW to 14th Street, NW (mid-block)
• I Street, NW and intersection of 11th Street, NW
• Rhode Island Avenue NW (1100 block – Connecticut Avenue NW, including Logan Circle) from 8 am to 9 pm on Monday, April 12 and 8 am to 9 pm on Tuesday, April 13
Please click here to read the joint release from United States Secret Service, Federal Aviation Administration, US Coast Guard, Metropolitan Police Department, District Department of Transportation, Department of Public Works, and Metro. Here you will find information on all services impacted by this event, as well as contact information for the coordinating agencies. This release also contains specific information for residents of McCollough Terrace, as well as Circulator rerouting plans.

If you have additional questions or are having difficulties obtaining more information, please feel free to contact my office at 724-8058.

Sincerely,

Jack