The start to the 2015 real estate market across the local area seems to be strong, but how will the rest of 2015 go?
Given the relatively stagnant economy and generally flat growth in personal income in the local area, do top real-estate professionals in the area expect to see average home prices rising in 2015? And which communities of the Northern Virginia market are primed to do best this year?
The Sun Gazette asked some local Realtors those questions. Here are their thoughts:
Rob Ferguson, Re/Max Allegiance: “I think we will see an uptick all over Northern Virginia, but it’s hard to say how much. It might depend on how much the low interest rates, like 3.75 [percent], stay where they are or tick down, which isn’t getting much publicity right now, and the gas prices staying low. People will have more disposable income, so they might feel better about buying, and we are already seeing a push from that. We’ll see more first-time buyers – that area has been sluggish since August.”
Karen Briscoe, Huckaby, Briscoe, Conroy Realty Group: “I think 2015 will be a very good year. In 2014 it was a minor-adjustment year. I think the average home prices will rise 5 to 6 percent across the board. The under-$1 million homes will do the best and inside the Beltway closer to the city always does best. The upper-bracket homes depend on so many factors, it’s hard to break down. I think the game-changer in 2015 will be the Silver Line for the homes out in Tysons, Reston and Great Falls.”
Billy Buck, Buck & Associates: “Condos were flat last year, and I’d like to think they could be up 3 to 5 percent this year. The expectations are the same for single-family homes and townhouses. Also, interest rates. You can’t take for granted they will stay low, so take advantage of where they are right now – historic lows.”
Dawn Wilson, Keller Williams: “I think Arlington will continue to see rising prices and across all types of houses. The biggest gains will be the single-family homes under $1.6 million.”
Steve Wydler, Long & Foster: “I am cautiously optimistic we are going to have more appreciation at a modest rate, like 3 percent. There are a lot of things going well, like the stock market, oil prices, job growth and consumer confidence. Jobs are the fuel to real estate, so the entire market could benefit. Plus, the lower gas prices might help the outer markets have a stronger year.”
Dee Murphy, Long & Foster: “I think prices will go up across the market – under a million, 3 to 5 percent – but anything over a million could still be a tough sale. There will be a lot of new listings, but prices will still rise. The spring market will come early this year and that will drive prices up. Because of the bad weather, the spring market came late last year, and that threw off the rhythm of the market for the whole year. Things that usually happen in March didn’t happen until May.”
Casey Samson, Samson Properties: “On my radio show in 1992 I told listeners, ‘If prices ever went down in Northern Virginia, I would jump in the Potomac.’ Man, was that water cold. That is what you get for making predictions. With that said, rates are so low, prices softened in 2014, confidence is high and we are back to getting 20 to 25 people at our open houses. As long as the knuckleheads in D.C. don’t do anything stupid, we are in for a solid year in all markets.”
Donna Moseley, TTR Sotheby’s: “We are enjoying a nice start in 2015. Our transactions are up about 50 percent already. We are very optimistic and we think the opening price points will stay very strong. I don’t really have an explanation why. It’s just flat busier. I don’t think we will have a runaway market and it will continue to be a market with a lot of negotiating. Prices could be up 5 percent in some areas. We expect single-family homes to be better than last year and homes over a million to be about flat.”
Dean Yeonas, Yeonas and Shafran Real Estate: “I think resale prices incrementally will rise, maybe 2 to 3 percent, inside the Beltway for sure. Single-families inside the Beltway at the million-and-under price point is the hot spot. Condos along the Orange Line will do well and anything under a million for townhouses will also do well. Also, in Arlington and McLean, land prices are up, so there is more building going on. So the new-home prices will creep up, maybe as much as 10 percent.”
Betsy Twigg, McEnearney Associates: “Single-family homes will be the best, followed by condos and townhouses. Anything under a million will go up. From $1 million to $1.4 million will be stable. Anything above $1.5 million, particularly new building, will be flat at best or see a decrease, because there is a glut on the market.”
Casey Margenau, Fine Homes & Estates: “Everything is working to be a very strong market for sellers, with gas prices down and so many other factors. Real estate usually lags the stock market by six months or so, and the stock market has been on a tear. I think the overall market will be up 2 or 3 percent. Last year, D.C. and North Arlington were on fire, and McLean and the town of Vienna were catching fire. That will all continue, along with areas where properties that are geographically desirable. I think the market will continue to move farther out in the suburbs with the brisker trends. One of the most improved areas could be Great Falls.”
Natalie Roy, Keller Williams: “This is already shaping up to be a banner year. Buyers are coming out of winter hibernation early, and new listings, priced competitively, are going under contract quickly. I expect prices to remain constant, unless inventory balloons. In that event, prices could drop, bringing more balance to the market and giving buyers more choices. One segment of the market, retiring Baby Boomers, is on the increase. They are looking for homes offering one-story living, particularly master bedrooms on the main floor. It is a trend that will only grow.”
Mark Middendorf; Long & Foster: “We should see some appreciation in the $600,000 to $800,000 range if we can get some inventory there. But there is a lot to choose from in the upper brackets, over a million. So there might be some adjustments there. In Arlington, I think the Bluemont neighborhood west of Ballston is being discovered more. I think buyers will find better prices in some of those undiscovered neighborhoods.”
Jack Shafran, Yeonas and Shafran Real Estate: “Prices will increase, but at what percentage, no one really knows. I think it will be better than flat. Down-payment requirements will be loosened, and that will help all phases of the market across the board.
Carol Temple; Coldwell Banker: “I anticipate prices rising at a manageable rate of 3 to 5 percent, with Arlington County and the cities of Alexandria and Falls Church leading the pack. Single-family homes are always in demand, and are more abundant than townhouses and condominiums. Buyer demand for townhouses will continue to strengthen and prices will climb. Condominiums have proved to be a solid fit for all ages, and are no longer seen as an entry-level purchase. At the risk of sounding like a mother who can’t choose her favorite child, I believe that all segments of the market will continue to pick up strength. It is easy to become seduced by the specter of rising prices.”
Craig Mastrangelo, Re/Max Allegiance: “With a rise in inventory the past three to six months, and most likely more this coming spring, prices will have a tendency to stabilize, especially in the $1.4-million-plus (new-home construction) market. An increased inventory can lead to longer days on the market. The $500,000 to $1 million is still strong, and even if the spring market has more new listings than the same time as last year, the current demand for ‘moderate priced’ homes should still be strong. Obviously factors affecting the buying market include stable (read: low) interest rates and continued strong job growth.”
Joan Stansfield, Keller Williams: “Experts are predicting that nationwide, homes will appreciate another 4 percent in 2015, and that rates will increase by a full percentage point by the end of the year. Yet we know that in Northern Virginia, homes in certain areas inside the Beltway are likely going to appreciate at a higher rate than 4 percent, and the areas near the Silver Line have a flurry of investor activity, driving prices upward. Upper bracket homes in parts of Northern Virginia are taking longer to sell, which is a clear indicator that lower bracket homes and condos are in higher demand. Of course, as always, weather will play an important part, as the frigid weather in January and February of 2014 created a delay in our spring market.”