Thursday, January 03, 2008

Great Time to Buy Real Estate

Northern VA is an area that many have said is recession proof. We have a STRONG and STABLE economy, projected future job growth and projected population growth. Our unemployment is below 2%. The indicators clearly point to a good and growing real estate market in the future. When the market turns ... Northern VA will be one of the first to turn and the local REBOUND will bounce higher than most other markets in the nation.

2008 is a great time to buy real estate in Northern VA. We are in a very strong buyers market and there are many distressed properties for sale and those that are not distressed are certainly anxious. There are a lot of great deals to be had! It would be a mistake to purchase with the intent of attempting to resell in 2008 or 2009 ... but if you are looking for a principal residence or an investment property that you will be holding for a few years then you could likely benefit "big time" from the eventual market rebound.

"There is opportunity in every market!"


Real Estate Info - Loudoun County Real Estate Info

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

2008 - Happy New Year!

My 2008 Real Estate New Years Wishes

1. That the Northern VA Real Estate Market will level off and shows some signs of a rebound.

2. That I will be able to meet, fulfill and exceed the needs and goals of my clients.

3. That my personal real estate business will equal or exceed my 2007 volume.

Hopefully, the above is not too much to wish for. After multiple years of qualifying for The Multi-Million Dollar Sales Club ... 2007 was a very good year for yours truly and my sales volume will qualify me to be a Top Producer when NVAR gives out Sales Volume Awards in early February. A little hard for me to believe or explain since the market has been tough on both real estate clients as well as real estate professionals.

I'm counting my blessings and certainly extend much appreciation to all my clients from 2007, my colleagues that co-shared serving my clients and to everyone at Samson Realty. Success is usually a collective rather than individual achievment. It is a joy to work at a company with a friendly and family atmosphere. I could feel the support of my Brokers and the wonderful Samson Realty staff behind me all 365 days of 2007. Thanks to All!


Free VA Foreclosure Listings

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Monday, December 31, 2007

New Real Estate Taxes for 2008

Beginning January 1, 2008 an increase in the Grantor’s Tax will take effect as part of Virginia's 2007 transportation funding package. The Virginia General Assembly and the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) voted earlier this year to increase the Grantor's Tax rate to a total of $5.00 per $1,000. This increase, along with revenues from six additional taxes and fees, will be dedicated to transportation projects in the Northern VA.

The localities affected by the increase are: the City of Alexandria, Arlington County, City of Falls Church, City of Fairfax, Fairfax County (including the Towns of Clifton, Herndon and Vienna), Loudoun County, City of Manassas, City of Manassas Park, and Prince William County.


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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Foreclosure, Foreclosure, Foreclosure

Well, I know this is the Northern Virginia Real Estate Blog and most of my recent posts have been centered on VA REO Foreclosures ... primarily because REO properties are the hot topic both in the news and with Buyer's and Seller's too.

For Buyer's REO is a hot topic because the foreclosure properties are typically very good purchase deals and the aggressively priced foreclosure listings have been bringing down the values of owner occupied homes. That loss of value and market competition is a hot "negative" topic for Seller's. As the property values have declined I have observed many Seller's that have held out hope for Top-Dollar only to watch the Days On Market pile up as they have maintained a List Price that is above an ever lowering bar of fair market value. In this market if you "HAVE TO SELL" then the best strategy is to get your home priced where you are the next home to sell or at least in every prospective Buyer's TOP 5. Don't be penny-wise and pound foolish ... get your home priced to sell. This market is about price, price and price.

As far as the News and Media are concerned, happy endings and feel-good stories don't sell many newspapers or generate much TV ad revenue. The Foreclosure Market makes for good news even if it does not tell the whole story or even part of the story. I have not been seeing many foreclosures in Great Falls, McLean, Vienna, Oakton or Fairfax Station. I can just about count them on my own hands. Granted we do have some locations that are getting severely beat down by high foreclosure rates. Sterling and Sterling Park, downtown Herndon, Manassas, Manassas Park and Woodbridge have flooded markets with foreclosures and the loss of property value has been acute.

Tomorrow I will finish off 2007 with just some general real estate information and hopefully something up beat too.


Search the Northern VA MLS

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Saturday, December 29, 2007

When Will the Real Estate Market Rebound?

That is the BIG Question!

I can't speak for the entire country but the Northern Virginia Real Estate Market has always been better judged on its own merits. We have an incredible economy here in the Washington DC area and particularly in Northern VA. We have excellent housing and a wide variety of housing ... and prices have dropped considerably in the past 18-24 months so housing affordability has certainly increased exponentially.

There is little or NO doubt in my mind that a LEVELING OFF and a REBOUND are in Northern Virginia's future and I would predict that it will happen sooner rather than later. The late Winter and Spring of 2008 will probably give us a good idea of what to expect for the balance of 2008. With all the good deals and aggressive prices in the current inventory we could see some leveling off in 2008.

The current market is a great time for first time buyers and investors too. It has been a long time since we have seen opportunities to buy for about the same cost as renting and we are now seeing the potential to invest and then rent at closer to positive cashflow in some areas. The rental market is VERY GOOD and wise investors should be counting on rapid appreciation when the market does rebound. Our market could enter another period of REAL ESTATE BOOM within the next couple years.

Our local economy is stable and strong! We have very, very low unemployment and considerable job growth potential. People all over the region, the country and the world want to relocate to the Washington area and Northern Virginia has always been high on their list for making a new home.

Real Estate has always been cyclical ... and the age-old saying about real estate and land is ... they are not making any more of it! The real estate rebound will come for the whole nation, it will come for the Mid-Atlantic and it will come for the National Capitol Area. The rebound will have to start in locales like Northern VA and Fairfax County and Loudoun County and Arlington County before it will begin to rebound in other areas of the country with weaker economy's, smaller job markets and less population growth.

Will we begin to see a turn in the market during 2008? Will it happen in 2009? I can't tell you when exactly it will happen but I do know that there is always good opportunity in every real estate market and surely some homeowners and some investors will seize the opportunity in this down market to create WEALTH!


Fairfax VA Real Estate - Loudoun VA Real Estate

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Friday, December 28, 2007

Northern VA Foreclosure Market

We didn't have many property foreclosures from 2000 to 2005. The local Northern VA real estate market was booming and any homeowner that got behind in mortgage payments could just put their home up for sale and find a buyer in days, settle fairly quickly and get a check for their earned equity.

The local market began to change in the summer of 2005 and those unfortunate homeowners that entered home ownership from 2004 to 2006 did so at the top of the market. They paid top dollar and home values have been sliding downward ever since. We had a decent rebound (leveling off) in January to March of 2007 and home sales were better than usual for the dead of winter. Since March of 2007 values have not been sliding ... the loss of value is better described as plummeting. In the 9 months from March to December 2007 the loss of property value has probably ranged from 1% to 2% per month on average.

I can't claim that I saw the foreclosure market coming ... at least not to the substantial degree that we are currently experiencing. But, I did foresee a substantial increase in foreclosure listings and distressed property sales. During early 2006 I began making contact with various Banks in hopes of generating some foreclosure listings. In 2006 I accepted and completed over 130 Broker Price Opinions (BPO's) in an attempt to generate Banking contacts and eventually VA REO listings. REO stands for Real Estate Owned and Bank's call foreclosure properties REO. Broker Price Opinions are a very detailed Competitive Market Analysis that Bank's order for their distressed properties and they pay a local Agent/Broker generally a $50-100 fee for the BPO preparation.

For me, 2006 and 2007 have turned out to be quite an education in the foreclosure market. I had a little experience from back in the early 1990's but the robust market in Northern Virginia the past 10 years pretty much wiped out any opportunity to work a niche market of foreclosure properties.


Real Estate Information

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Big & Little Banks

Here in the Northern Virginia Real Estate Market we are seeing REO Listings from huge Banks among the largest financial corporations in the world all the way down to REO Listings from little regional and even local Banks. Bank foreclosures from major banks are handled a bit different from foreclosures available from smaller lenders. The big Banks have REO and Asset Managment Departments or they have outsourced their foreclosures to an Asset Management Company.

The big Banks have more money, have mortgaged more properties and therefore are holding mortgages from more high-risk bad-credit clients. The local Banks are still (often) using inside staff to handle disposition of their REO properties. The big Banks have more REO inventory and are either more motivated to sell or less concerned about taking a loss on property "A" when they can make up for the loss on property "B". Whether you are an investor or home buyer, checking out major Bank REO's is a great option if you are interested in distressed properties at or even well below market value.


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Non-Traditional Foreclosure Contracts & Bank Addendums

There is no such thing as "standard operating procedure" when it come to Foreclosure Contracts. Every Asset Management Company and every Bank has their own unique policies and procedures ... and the Foreclosure Sales Contract is likely going to be their way or the highway.

It is typical here in Northern VA that the initial purchase offer is submitted using the standard local contract and after conditional (oral) acceptance by the Bank that a REO Addendum will follow. The Bank's Counter Addendum will supersede the terms in the local contract and while a majority of the Counter Addendum is consistent with the local contract ... there are some critical differences. The Bank may be selling properties in all 50 states and they want a contract document that they fully understand and are 100% comfortable with the terms and conditions. It is not uncommon for the Bank to demand that there be NO/ZERO changes or alterations to the Bank Addendum ... regardless of how minor or insignificant.

Realty Times Article: Watch Out For Nontraditional Foreclosure Contracts
"Your best offense is a real estate professional that has navigated
such waters and can help you miss any pitfalls along the way."

Realty Times, M. Anthony Carr - January 2007

Having a Buyer Agent that is familiar with both the sale and purchase of REO/Foreclosure properties can be an important factor in a successful foreclosure transaction.

John Thompson
Samson Realty

VA REO Listing Agent - VA Foreclosure Buyers Agent

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Bubble Has Burst

Side Note: I have left a couple older posts here on the Northern VA Real Estate Blog mostly for historical reference.

Back in late summer 2005 the BOOMING Northern VA Real Estate Market echoed a couple little blips on the local housing market radar. During the end of August, Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and the country was riveted by the disaster in both terms of property damage and human pain and suffering. There was clearly an abrupt slowdown in what was expected to be a Labor Day surge in real estate activity. Here in Northern VA, we have never recovered!

The last quarter of 2005 the local market just ticked along at a progressively slower pace and the days of multiple offers and homes selling before a For Sale sign could go up ... were gone. We had actually entered a "fair market" where buyers and sellers were on progressively more equal footing and by the Spring of 2006 average Days On Market were more in the 60-75 Day range. I would consider a market that averages 60-90 days on market to be the best for all concerned .... agents, buyers and sellers. Seller's can list there home with confidence that a willing and able buyer will be produced in a reasonable time period and Buyer's can take their time and sleep on their home purchase decisions without undo pressure to make an immediate decision.

The Summer and Fall of 2006 were highlighted by those that were predicting that the Bubble was Bursting and those that were painting an optimistic Slight Correction philosophy. Of course, the media jumps on the bandwagon of any doom and gloom story and took every opportunity to instill fear into the market ... sometimes a self-perpetuating strategy. Not trying to blame the media .... but Happy Homeowner stories just don't generate ratings like Homeless Family lost everything in the crashing real estate market.

I was reading news articles and blogs and seeing TV News forecasts that the housing market was in trouble back in 2001, 2002 and 2003. So while some may claim to have read the tea leaves correctly many others were just eventually right after 5 years of being dead wrong.

As for myself, I was a big believer in the housing boom with a dose or two of caution and I also was quick to see that times were changing and have attempted to adjust my personal business marketing to match the current market. I began to seek a share of the Foreclosure Market in mid 2006 which put me way in front of most real estate professionals ... but not quite far enough in front ... to fully capitalize on the Real Estate Owned (REO) potential.

To make a long story short and leave plenty of fodder for future blog postings ... the Bubble finally did Burst. The Bubble leaked air for many months but eventually near the end of 2006 the leak expanded and the inevitable Burst occurred.

More to come.

John Thompson

Northern VA Real Estate - VA Foreclosure

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I Will Be a Faithful Blogger in 2008

Seasons Greetings!

I'm going to give blogging another attempt for 2008. I've deleted most of the garbage that has been posted on this site from time to time .... including most of my own out of date postings.

The real estate market has changed from one spectrum to the other since I first created the Northern Virginia Real Estate Blog and the time has come to share my more recent real estate thoughts and experiences.

Happy New Year!

John Thompson

Northern VA Real Estate - VA Foreclosure

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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Welcome ... Again!


This Blog is about the Real Estate Market in Northern Virginia.

Originally Created 12/1/2004 and revamped 12/20/2007.

John Thompson
Samson Realty

Market Update - March 2006

Wow! The real estate market took a quick turn back in late July to early August and everyone experienced a much more even market during the fall of 2005 and early winter of 2006. The "HOT" Seller's market of the past few years has become more of a normal-even market. Multiple offers and escalation clauses are few and far between.

Did the "Bubble Burst?" Not hardly, I think the market was so vibrant for such a long stretch that even a good market and reasonable appreciation have felt like a bit of a crash for real estate agents and homeowners alike. That negative attitude and pessimism can actually feed on itself and become self-fulfilling prophecy. Homes that are priced to sell ... are still selling in relatively short periods of time. Many, many properties are seeing less than 30 DOM (Days on the Market). Properties priced unreasonably high ... they are sitting ... as they should be.

Thankfully, spring 2006 is almost here and an influx of the annual spring buyers as well as the buying period during school summer vacation are fast approaching. I'm very optimistic that a strong market is on the return, although not quite at the levels we witnessed in recent memory.

What happens in other markets regionally and nationally ... is a far cry from the DC Metro area and especially the thriving economy in Northern Virginia. We have new jobs being created, low unemployment ... and a solid real estate market.

John Thompson
Samson Realty

Failed first attempt at Blogging

Well I guess it does not take a rocket scientist to see that my first attempt at the Northern Virginia Real Estate Bolg did not go very well or very far.

I have switched to a new company, Samson Realty so I have plenty to share on my new company, the market and other Northern Virginia real estate issues.


Visit Judi Servis' Real Estate Web Sites:
Plymouth MA Real Estate - Tarantino Real Estate

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Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Northern Virginia Market Conditions - December 2004

A strong Seller's Market continues to dictate Northern Virginia Real Estate conditions. Limited inventory in single family, townhouse and condominium markets have resulted in stiff competition between ready, willing and able buyers. Buyer's must have realistic purchase expectations and be prepared to do what is necessary to make winning purchase offers. New homes are also facing limited inventory issues.

Northern Virginia sales prices averaged $449,678 in August 2004 compared to $379,764 in 2003, an increase of 18%. Active listings remained tight with inventory levels about 5% less than August 2003.

Northern Virginia Real Estate Blog


This Blog is about Real Estate in Northern Virginia. Created 12/1/2004.

John Thompson