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


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)


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.


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?


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


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


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)


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.


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)


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.




A Spring Surge??

The National Association of Realtors reported yesterday that pending home sales rose in February. One possible reason for this is in response to the home buyer tax credit. The data reflects contracts and not closings (which usually occur with a lag time of one or two months).

This information is drawn from the NAR Pending Home Sales Index. The link below will take you to the full article. This is a national index, so does not reflect the exact state of Georgetown Real Estate. But it is an indicator which matches my own observations of our local market.

The PHSI in the Northeast rose 9.0 percent to 77.7 in February and is 18.9 percent higher than February 2009.



Georgetown Stats - week of March 29 - April 4

According to the MRIS (Multiple regional information Service), the following real estate transactions have taken place in Georgetown real estate during the week of 3/29-4/4:

6 new listings: 5 Single Family ($989,000 - $5,600,000) and 1 condo/co-op ($395,000)

2 properties came under contract: 1 SF ($1,315,000) and 1 C/C ($545,000)

3 properties went to closing, all three SF ($828,000 - $3,995,000).


Saying goodbye to a beloved house

"It was supposed to be my Forever House — the home you think you will never leave, the house you love beyond all others, where you’ve recaptured only what made you feel safe and happy in your childhood and left the rest behind. The Forever House is where you’ve passed along the values you admire to your own children — and filled the rooms with laughter and tears."

This is from an article in the New York Times, written by Dominique Browning, who had to sell, unexpectedly, her house of 25 years. The profound way in which she talks about this process struck a deep chord with me, and reflected my observation of that process over my 27 years in the real estate business.

I know how difficult it is for owners to let go of the houses they have made into their homes. It is one of the most sensitive and sometimes difficult things a real estate agent deals with when working with sellers. The best agents are those who understand the depth of feeling experienced by sellers, and who are skilled at helping them adjust to the reality. Georgetown real estate may be particularly intense in that way because the houses here are commonly owned for 25 or more years at a stretch.

Here is a link to the article. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/28/magazine/28fasttrack-t.html?scp=1&sq=azalea&st=cse


Georgetown House Tour

Just a little plug for the Georgetown House Tour. It's a wonderful event combining Georgetown real estate, history and interior design. This year's tour will take place on April 24th, 2010 and will feature eight to twelve of Georgetown's most beautiful homes and their impressive gardens. Every home on the Tour will be open from 11:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Houses are arranged for easy walking at one's own pace taken in the order one prefers. The ticket price includes a tour booklet full of useful information including a map of the houses which makes it possible to see the properties in any preferred order.

For more info visit their website at http://www.georgetownhousetour.com/