Monday, December 1, 2008

"The Real" on Real Estate Values

When I tell people I sell real estate for a living their faces turn down, they ask, in a sympathetic voice, "How is it out there? Are you doing ok?" I tell them that it's really good - people are buying and selling, making money, and generally things are as they should be. They are slightly encouraged by my positive response, and highly skeptical that I'm being 100% honest.

Well, here are some facts that you will not hear on CNN.
  • Nationally, only about 3% of homeowners are behind on their mortgage payments
  • Mortgage rates are about 5.375% for a 30 year fixed mortgage (but that changes all the time. Check with Ray Cruz at BofA for the current rate 202-438-9700)
  • Locally, houses are selling on average for 91.2% of their list price
  • Locally, it is taking an average of 116 days to sell a house. Houses in good condition and priced properly are selling in much less time

Using national real estate statistics to determine the performance of the Washington, DC Metro area is sort of like using the statistics of the entire MLB to determine the kind of player Derek Jeeter is. Or using the test scores of an entire school district to learn about one child's performance. Thanks anyway, Gerri Willis, but you're not telling me anything useful or even slightly meaningful when you tell me national statistics.

It is true that some parts of the country have been hammered but DC isn't one of those areas. If you browse the listings that have sold in the past 3 months you will have a hard time finding examples of people losing their shirts on the sale of their home. Here are some examples in the Bethesda area:

5717 Roosevelt Street sold on 12 June 2003 for $699,000. The owners put in a new kitchen and updated the family room, powder room, and master bath in 2004. They sold it on 11 Sept 2008 for $1,005,000.

4977 Battery Lane #1-920 sold on 22 June 2004 for $366,450. The owner sold this condo on 28 July 2008 for $485,000. They made $118,550 in only 4 years.

105 South Brook Lane sold in 1998 for $290,000. It sold again on 7 August 2002 for $538,500 and again on 6 Oct 2008 for $650,000. In ten years three owners shared profits of $360,000.

9803 De Paul Drive sold in 1998 for $240,000. The owners took great care of the house and put in a new kitchen in the 10 years they lived there. They sold it on 15 Sept 2008 for $699,900. It was on the market for 66 days. They made almost $460,000 in 10 years.

If you bought at the peak of the market in 2005 or 2006 you might not be able to sell for a profit right now, but hang in there. As these examples show, if you can wait until 2010 or 2011 you will more than likely be satisfied with the return on your investment.

If you've been hesitant to jump into this market here are a few more things you need to know:

  • Banks are lending for mortgages to anyone with average credit, with a steady job who can afford the payments. You do not need to have excellent credit
  • You need as little as 3% down to buy a home
  • You can have your pick of the nicest houses in the best condition
  • You will be buying at (or very near) the bottom of the market

Coming soon... examples of people who bought in 2000 and sold in 2005 - the bottom of the market buyer who sold at the top.