Don’t Be Fooled By Current Housing Market Conditions

Question: I’ve noticed that the market has slowed down quite a bit the last few months. Do you expect that trend to continue into next year?

Answer: I’d be remiss not to mention the Thanksgiving pie poll results from last week! With 1,043 votes as of last night, ARLnow readers overwhelmingly prefer pumpkin pie (45%) for Thanksgiving, followed by apple (29%), and then pecan (26%). That’s exactly the order I eat my pie on Thanksgiving! Now back to your regularly scheduled programming…

Will The Slow Market Continue into 2024?

Like clockwork, the second half of the year is slower than the first half (except when COVID flipped 2020 upside down) and it gets especially slow in the 4th quarter as focus shifts to holidays, family/friend time, and travel. This period of seasonal slowness consistently succeeds in lulling the market to sleep, resulting in predictions that the prevailing economic/housing headwinds (whatever they may be at the time) will result in a slower/down housing market the following year.

These predictions are consistently wrong and the market usually proves that within the first 2-3 weeks of the new year.

The Data Says Prepare for a Rapid Increase in Demand

The data in the chart below is collected from Arlington sales going back to 2017, sans 2020 data. It shows market performance based on the week that properties go under contract – percentage of properties selling above the original ask, percentage of properties selling at or above the original ask, and the percentage of properties selling with 1-10 days on market (my preferred measure of market speed).

  • The highlight of the chart is how rapidly the market shifts in January, relative to the previous 3-4 months. By the second week of January, the market is moving faster than it has in over four months and by the third week of January, both pricing metrics are higher than they’ve been in roughly six months.
  • Only about 21% of properties that go under contract in the second half of the year are over the asking price, but by the third week of January, 1/3rd of properties sell above the asking price and that price pressure remains in place until summer hits.
  • For buyers in the market, it’s important to also prepare for just how quickly homes will start selling. In the last two months of the year, only 28.5% of homes were going under contract in the first ten days, but that jumps to over 46% by the second week of January and by early/mid February well over 50% of homes sell within the first ten days on market and the pace hovers around 60% through May.

These percentages will vary significantly based on the market conditions of a given year, but the important takeaway is how quickly demand shifts in the new year relative to the end of the prior year. As a reminder, Q4 ’22 to Q1 ’23, a period many predicted would result in a continuation of a slow/down market, delivered us the most significant whiplash effect through a new calendar year we have seen.

A graph of sales

Description automatically generated

You can see a similar rapid shift in annual market conditions from this chart from Altos Research showing the percentage of properties in Arlington on market that have had a price decrease. The steep drops you see start when the calendar turns to January.

A graph showing the price decrease

Description automatically generated

If you’d like to discuss buying, selling, investing, or renting, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at

If you’d like a question answered in my weekly column or to discuss buying, selling, renting, or investing, please send an email to To read any of my older posts, visit the blog section of my website at Call me directly at (703) 539-2529.

Video summaries of some articles can be found on YouTube on the Eli Residential channel.
Eli Tucker is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington DC, and Maryland with RLAH @properties, 4040 N Fairfax Dr #10C Arlington VA 22203. (703) 390-9460.

Important Thanksgiving Poll: Apple vs Pecan vs Pumpkin Pie

Happy Thanksgiving ARLnow!

On behalf of all ARLnow readers, the Eli Residential Group has donated to the wonderful Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) whose mission is to feed our neighbors in need by providing dignified access to nutritious supplemental groceries. AFAC is a 4-star, top-rated charity on Charity Navigator and is a worthy organization for your holiday giving.

Last year, I ran a critical Thanksgiving poll asking ARLnow readers whether they prefer white or dark meat turkey. Apparently, we are a house perfectly divided here in in Arlington; with 575 total votes, 288 voters prefer white meat and 287 prefer dark meat. That’s impressive! (and I can’t believe 288 out of 575 ARLnow readers are so wrong about their turkey preference…)

This year, I am returning with another mission critical poll:

What kind of pie do you prefer for your Thanksgiving meal?
Participate in the poll at ARLnow.

This year, our team gave 160+ pies to our clients from Arlington’s Acme Pie Co (if you haven’t indulged, I highly recommend them). Our clients selected 45% apple, 39% pecan, and 16% pumpkin, which surprised me. I thought pumpkin would surely be second to apple, but it wasn’t even close. Let’s see how our clients’ tastes compare to the taste buds of ARLnow!

Thanksgiving pies (photo via Acme Pie Co.)
Thanksgiving pies (photo via Acme Pie Co.)

If you’d like to discuss buying, selling, investing, or renting, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at

If you’d like a question answered in my weekly column or to discuss buying, selling, renting, or investing, please send an email to To read any of my older posts, visit the blog section of my website at Call me directly at (703) 539-2529.

Video summaries of some articles can be found on YouTube on the Eli Residential channel.

Eli Tucker is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington DC, and Maryland with RLAH @properties, 4040 N Fairfax Dr #10C Arlington VA 22203. (703) 390-9460.

Missing Middle is Not Achieving its Goals

Question: Are you seeing that Missing Middle is achieving its goals for housing supply creation in Arlington?

Answer: What is the goal of Arlington’s Missing Middle aka Expanded Housing Options (EHO) housing policy?

At first, it seemed the County was hoping to provide housing options for “middle income” home buyers. That shifted once it became obvious that any new housing product would be far too expensive for anything resembling middle income. The target became a blend of creating housing that filled a gap in property type(s) missing from the Arlington housing market and adding housing supply.

It also seems that the County hopes that most Missing Middle housing units will be delivered for sale rather than as rental units, because most of the conversation I’ve heard/read from them focuses on ownership opportunity related to Missing Middle, but there is nothing they are doing (likely nothing they can do) to make that a reality, aside from hoping the market delivers ownership opportunities instead of new rentals.

If you’d like a catch-up/review on my previous articles about Missing Middle, you can read my initial thoughts here, followed by more recent thoughts and observations here, which includes some doubt that many of the approved applications will actually get built.

What is Missing from Arlington’s Housing Market?

If you ask me what’s missing from Arlington’s housing market and in high demand, I’d say that it’s townhouse/duplex housing with 3-4 bedrooms with roughly 2,500-3,500 finished square feet and two off-street parking spaces, that suits a family with 1-2 kids. The data, summarized below, also supports this being an undersupplied category of housing. Arlington does not lack multi-family housing (condo or rental apartments), relative to other housing types.

I looked at the last five years of Arlington sales data and analyzed the breakdown of property types sold by bedroom count, total finished square footage, and property type:

  • 45% of homes were multi-family condo and just 19% were townhouse/duplex (most of the 19% were built well over 50 years ago) 
  • Over 50% of homes had 1-2 bedrooms
  • 55% of homes had 1,500 or less finished square feet
  • Only 10% of homes had 2,500-3,500 finished square feet, a range that I think is highly desirable for many buyers/families in Arlington
A pie chart of sales by property type

Description automatically generated
A graph of sales by bedroom count

Description automatically generated
A graph of sales

Description automatically generated

What Are We Getting from Missing Middle?

Missing Middle provides for seven different options ranging from two-unit duplex/semi-detached properties to six-unit multi-family (apartment-style) properties. In addition to other zoning restrictions that may limit a building’s total envelope, the County set maximum sizes for the combined units in each Missing Middle property by establishing a maximum floor area (basically the sum of all horizontal, non-garage area in a property).

I created the table below using the Missing Middle max floor area limits set by the County for each Missing Middle option and added information on approved Missing Middle projects per the County’s online tracker, as of this writing. It is unlikely that any units delivers through Missing Middle will exceed ~2,600-2,700 and most units will likely offer 1,500 or less finished SqFt (as noted above, this is the size range of over 50% of Arlington’s housing sold in the last five years).

Note #1: The actual finished square footage of units will be less than the max floor area shown in the table below because stairwells, framing, etc will eat into the livable sqft for each unit

Note #2: A builder can choose to allocate the max floor area across each unit however they want. For example, a three-unit townhouse project might allocate 1,800 sqft to the interior unit and 2,850 sqft to the end units.

A table with numbers and a number of objects

Description automatically generated with medium confidence

The data from the pending applications and 19 approved projects is clear – six-unit multi-family properties are much more desirable for developers than any other Missing Middle option, with over 50% of approved Missing Middle units falling into this category. I shared in my initial thoughts on Missing Middle that I felt the policy did little to incentivize the development of larger units, suitable for families, that are actually lacking in Arlington’s housing supply. The data now supports that concern and to a larger extent than I imagined.

Missing Middle is Missing the Mark

The prevalence and popularity of six-unit multiplexes is, in my opinion, clear proof that Missing Middle is not an effective housing policy based on the County’s stated goals. Six-unit multiplexes will result in the smallest units, with average finished living spaces likely ~1,100-1,200 SqFt or buildings with a couple/few smaller units with 700-800 SqFt and a couple/fewer larger units of 1,300-1,500 SqFt, and will create housing that serves a nearly identical housing demand as existing multi-family condo and rental apartments, which already dominate the Arlington housing supply.

Per Arlington’s 2023 Profile (fantastic, interesting data the County reports on each year) we have added 5,800 housing units over the last five years (nearly all multi-family condo/apartment), totaling just over 121,000 housing units in the County as of 2023. Nearly 87,000 (71.5%) of those are multi-family and about 70% of approved Missing Middle units are 4-6 unit multiplexes (aka multifamily) and will look a lot like those existing housing units. There’s nothing “missing” or “expanded” about that.

Is that worth all the time and resources our County and residents have spent on this policy? Is it worth the negative effect on property value and enjoyment of the neighboring properties who will have six-unit multiplexes built next to them and suffer through up to a dozen extra cars on their street?

The other stated goal of Missing Middle is adding more housing supply to Arlington. You’ll likely hear these six-unit multiplexes promoted as proof that the policy is working because we’ve turned a single-family home into six new housing units for +5 net housing units. Winner Winner, right?

Arlington is offering 58 Missing Middle permits per year for the first five years. If the current application patterns continue (79 units across 19 projects) and the average Missing Middle project delivers four new units, and we max out all 58 permits (doubtful), that will be 232 new units per year and 1,160 units after five years. That’s a measly 20% of the current pace of new non-Missing Middle housing units being delivered to the market and 0.9% of the total housing units Arlington is forecasted to have by 2025.  And again, most of that will be multi-family style units that reflect most of the existing and planned housing units in the county.

If the County wants to expand the housing supply via multi-family housing and not actually help create housing types that we lack and have excess demand for, they’d be much better off strengthening their planning/investment efforts along established transit/commercial corridors where there is a demand for multi-family housing, rather than creating multi-family housing in non-transit focused neighborhoods that are not designed to support multi-family housing and likely do not have sufficient demand for it either.

I Support a Well-Formed Missing Middle Strategy

To be clear, I do believe that Arlington/Arlingtonians would be well-served by expanded housing policy that facilitates the smart development of homes for purchase that fill in existing gaps in our housing supply, as long as it can be done in a way that is a net-positive. Unfortunately, the Missing Middle/Expanded Housing Options policy we currently have does not accomplish that and currently projects to be a net-negative to the community.

If you’d like to discuss buying, selling, investing, or renting, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at

If you’d like a question answered in my weekly column or to discuss buying, selling, renting, or investing, please send an email to To read any of my older posts, visit the blog section of my website at Call me directly at (703) 539-2529.

Video summaries of some articles can be found on YouTube on the Eli Residential channel.

Eli Tucker is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington DC, and Maryland with RLAH @properties, 4040 N Fairfax Dr #10C Arlington VA 22203. (703) 390-9460.

Class Action Lawsuit Against Realtors

Question: What are your thoughts on the recent class action lawsuit against the National Association of Realtors?

Answer: You’ve probably read headline news over the past week about the Kansas City jury that found the National Association of Realtors and two of the nation’s largest brokerages, HomeServices of America and Keller Williams, guilty of colluding to keep Realtor commissions high via the use of the “clear cooperation” rule, which required there to be an offer of compensation to buyer agents/brokers for properties listed in an MLS.

The lawsuit awarded plaintiffs in Missouri, Kansas, and Illinois damages of $1.78B, which gets automatically “trebled” (tripled) by the court to $5.36B. Numbers that the defendants don’t come remotely close to having in combined cash and/or assets.

If you missed it, here’s a Housing Wire article with a good summary of the lawsuit, without subjective commentary. The lawsuit and others like it (there was a similar lawsuit settled a month ago and another copycat lawsuit recently filed) are a huge deal for the residential real estate industry and consumers.

I’m not going to waste your time making predictions about the legal process this and similar lawsuits will follow, you can google the lawsuit for plenty of opinions. It’s a massively complex issue from a legal and practical standpoint and nobody can honestly say they know where this will lead in the next six months or six years. It could end up at the Supreme Court years from now or it could send shockwaves through the residential real estate industry by next year.

I’m going to share my thoughts on a few of the ideas the lawsuit was built on, some of the more popular opinions I’ve read in the news, and things I find particularly difficult to solve in all of this.

There are reasonable, strong arguments to be made on both sides of most of the issues revolving around this topic. Most of what you’ll read/hear in the media is going to focus on opinions and ideas that are anti-Realtor “Cartel” because it appeals to the masses and generates traffic and eyeballs. I’ll touch on both sides of the argument in some cases, in others I’ll offer my perspective from inside the industry.

This is Mostly About Seller’s Paying Buyer Agent Commissions

Most MLS’s and Associations require(d) there to be an offer of compensation to the buyer agent/broker on a property listed for sale in the MLS; you could not sell something on-market with zero buyer-agent compensation. The lawsuit claims that ~500,000 sellers in MO, IL, and KS included in the class action lawsuit would not have offered/paid this compensation had it not been required and the $1.78B is the amount they “overpaid” in commissions.

The way most market transactions are structured (and have been for 2-3 decades) is that the seller agrees, prior to selling, to pay their broker X% and that amount is usually split evenly between the seller’s broker and the buyer’s broker, which is explicitly stated in the Listing Agreement. For reference, here’s the study I did this year on 2022 buyer-agent commissions in Arlington. There is clearly a “market” price for buy-side commissions.

While required, there is nothing that prevented offers of compensation of $1 or something well below the market, but people (consumers, agents, brokers) rarely chose that option. The plaintiffs in the case were able to make a strong enough case that sellers were forced to offer compensation at market rates and did not know they had a choice.

What if Sellers Stop Paying Buyer Agent/Broker Commission?

This is where it gets interesting and difficult, practically speaking. I could write a few columns on this topic and may do so over time, but I’ll keep it simple here.

Representation on both sides of the transaction is important. Yes, there are plenty of examples of bad representation and consumers who saw little or even negative value in their representation, but for the most part, studies show that buyers and sellers value having independent, professional representation in real estate transactions.

Sellers paying buyer broker commission makes sense and doesn’t make sense all at the same time.

It makes sense because it’s a cost taken out of proceeds for the sale rather than an out-of-pocket expense, so it’s much easier for a seller to receive less than a buyer to pay more. Anybody who has owed taxes understands the significance of how different paying taxes feels when it’s taken out of your paycheck vs cutting a big check to Uncle Sam.

It doesn’t make sense because of the obvious…why should I pay for your representation?

The problem, and I mean problem for consumers not for Realtors because of lost commission, is that if there’s a fundamental change to commission structure and sellers generally stop paying buy-side commission, the result is that most buyers cannot afford to tack on additional closing costs to their transaction and lenders will not allow it to be rolled into the loan (maybe this changes in the future). Wealthier buyers may be able to afford to hire buyer agents, but this scenario all but guarantees an even more difficult path to home ownership for those who can’t afford it.

Is Buyer Representation Important?

So how do we feel about most buyers not being represented in their purchase? Other countries do it, right? I feel strongly that buyer representation is of critical value to most buyers, especially first-time buyers, less financially advantages buyers, buyers who don’t speak English as their first language, etc etc. This is particularly true in the new world of real estate that is critically under-supplied and constantly competitive.

Let me suggest this exercise for anybody who doesn’t mind seeing buyer rep go away…visit 10 Open Houses and consider how many of the hosting agents you’d be comfortable writing a contract with and relying on guidance from to purchase that house within 24-48 hours of seeing it, knowing that they have a fiduciary responsibility to represent the seller. You might feel comfortable with one or two.

It’s also worth noting that “dual agency,” whereby one agent represents buyers and sellers, is illegal in many states, including Maryland. It’s legal in Virginia, but in my opinion, it’s an inappropriate relationship for the majority of transactions because, if done ethically and correctly, neither party gets the type of representation they often want or need.

Home Prices Will Fall if Commissions Drop?

I’ve seen this claim made quite a few times recently; it’s a perfect headline. Buyers across the country are frustrated by high prices, high mortgage rates, and low inventory so let’s suggest a path to cheaper housing if Realtor commissions are reduced. Sounds nice! But that’s not how markets work.

For the most part, prices are set by how much buyers are willing to pay, not how much a seller wants. A seller wants too much? They’ll probably sit on market and be forced to reduce or withdraw. A seller is willing to accept too little? Buyers will show up in crowds and push the price up. Seller expenses do not define market values – supply and demand do.

Scenario #1: Sellers stop paying buyer agents and buyers don’t pick up the tab either. Buyer rep mostly disappears.

If sellers stop paying buy-side commission, effectively cutting their commission cost in half, and buyers aren’t paying for representation either, buyer budgets remain the same, prices don’t fall, and sellers net more. You could even make a case that prices increase because buyers are relying on listing agents who represent the seller to submit and negotiate offers.

Scenario #2: Sellers stop paying buyer agents and buyers start paying for representation.

Buyer budgets shrink to accommodate the cost of buyer rep and because that cost is cash, it likely shrinks budgets by many multiples above the fee being paid to the agent (via reduction in funds available for a down payment), and prices drop as a result. Sure, you can take this scenario are say prices dropped because of the change in commission structure, but it didn’t make buying a home less expensive, maybe even more expensive AND due to the multiplier effect of cash in a real estate transaction, sellers might net less in this scenario too.

Are Commissions Too High?

Overall, yes, there’s plenty of waste in our industry and not enough innovation; we have plenty of room for improvement. But find me an industry or company with tens of billions or more of revenue that doesn’t have waste and inefficiency.

One of the major differences between the Realtor industry and other large multi-billion-dollar industries is that the excess gets spread across well over one million Realtors across the country plus the secondary services that support the industry. For most people involved, these are modest paying full-time and part-time jobs for many people in every community. Realtors, as a whole, do not make as much income as you think. Compare that with other large businesses/industries and I think you’d find that less of our excess/waste floats to the top or to wealthy shareholders but goes towards normal working wage people.

I’m not excusing the excess and want to see progress made there, but I think proper perspective is important.

Was There Collusion to Keep Commission High? Yes and No

One of the lawsuit’s accusations was that agents, who are mostly independent contractors in competition with each other, receive training from brokerage and Association leadership on securing specific commission amounts (6% is the one everybody hears as the “standard”). I do think this is a problem in our industry – training and influence of groups of agents to set a specific price sure does feel like collusion.

There is a fine line between what feels like collusion (training for 6% commissions or any specific number for that matter) and acceptable training for agents to help them maximize their income, but that has to be done without telling agents en masse what that rate should be.

On the other hand, I have a hard time fully buying the collusion argument (aka the Realtor Cartel/Monopoly) when there are endless service and pricing options available to consumers in every market for buyer or seller representation. Redfin carved out a massive market share offering listing services for roughly half of the average sell-side commission and crediting buyers a percentage of the buy-side commission at closing. There are low flat-rate options, listing-entry services, and plenty of agents who charge well above average too. And there’s also nothing preventing somebody from buying or selling without representation of an agent.

Does the industry need to change some of its training practices to ensure Realtors are acting more independently and competitively in determining their rates? Yes, for sure. Is there a monopoly that has cornered the market on commission rates? No, consumers seeking different pricing and services can find it in every market.

Consumers Also Need to Take Responsibility for Their Decisions

I am pretty pro-consumer in my belief system and apply that to this lawsuit with clear eyes (I think), but consumers also have a responsibility to do proper due diligence and make informed decisions in what is likely their largest transaction(s) by many multiples in their lifetime. Heck, I just spent 12 hours researching robot vacuums before making that purchase!  I landed on a Roomba j7+ (on sale, of course), which arrives tomorrow, and I’m very excited.

I bet many of the same sellers who were part of the class action spend months shopping for a car, scrutinizing dealership fees, and negotiating. Some of them probably spend Sunday mornings clipping coupons and driving to different grocery stores to get the best deals. Was that same energy given to the sale of their home?

Sellers have every opportunity to read the contract, ask questions, and meet with different Realtors prior to selling a home so in that respect, this lawsuit doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.

And the Result Will Be…

Nobody knows. Personally, I think the media and pundits are getting carried away with how much of a shockwave this is going to create in the real estate industry. It will surely lead to change, but class-action lawsuits are more about money and a couple of class-action lawsuits don’t help answer the deep, complex issues that need to be reckoned with to create a more efficient, balanced industry that supports homeownership across all classes and demographics. It’s quite possible that these lawsuits lead to massive structural changes in the industry in the name of consumers and we end up with a landscape that is a net negative for consumers. We shall see…

If you’d like to discuss buying, selling, investing, or renting, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at

If you’d like a question answered in my weekly column or to discuss buying, selling, renting, or investing, please send an email to To read any of my older posts, visit the blog section of my website at Call me directly at (703) 539-2529.

Video summaries of some articles can be found on YouTube on the Eli Residential channel.

Eli Tucker is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington DC, and Maryland with RLAH @properties, 4040 N Fairfax Dr #10C Arlington VA 22203. (703) 390-9460.

Home Energy Audits are Worth Considering

Question: I’m staring at another winter with a drafty, chilly house. Do you have any recommendations for ways of identifying the problem areas and prioritizing the solutions?

Answer: I’ve used very few posts to promote a product or service, but in the case of home energy audits I don’t think that most people are familiar with them, and I’ve personally found a ton of value in having them done and have clients who have found a lot of value in them as well.

It can be a worthwhile investment for a range of use cases including those who live in a drafty old house, anybody with a couple of rooms that are unusually hot/cold, or the owner of a new home who wants to quality check the construction and installation of energy-related systems.

Note: I’m not getting anything from the vendor I recommend later in this post, this is a good faith recommendation for something I think more people should consider.

What is a Home Energy Audit?

A home energy audit is a series of tests done on your home to measure its energy efficiency and test the operation of many of your homes core systems including how tight/leaky your home is (via blower door test), the effectiveness of your insulation, how well your heating and cooling systems are working (if they’re drawing enough air, leaky air ducts, etc), the CFM (amount of air being extracted) of your bathroom exhaust fans, gas leaks, areas with elevated moisture, and more.

I pulled some examples of test results from different reports I’ve seen and shared them below.

Examples of infrared results identifying air leaks and cold spots:

A collage of images of a ceiling and a ceiling

Description automatically generated
A collage of images of a kitchen

Description automatically generated
A collage of images of a purple and yellow object

Description automatically generated

Results of the blower door test measuring overall air leakage/tightness of an old home vs a new home:

A graph showing the amount of air leakage rate

Description automatically generated
A graph showing a number of ach and ach

Description automatically generated

Example of CFM measurements taken that show improperly installed exhaust fans:

A table with numbers and text

Description automatically generated

Testing done on all combustion appliances (those that burn gas/fuel) to ensure they’re operating safely:

A table with text and numbers

Description automatically generated

Testing on heating and cooling systems to measure for static pressure, delta T, and other efficiency measures:

A screen shot of a computer

Description automatically generated

Who, How Much, and a Discount

All of my experience with Home Energy Audits has come working with Brian McKnight at Home Energy Medics and I’ve been very happy with his/their service. For about $500-$900 (price depends on size and age of home), I think it’s a great investment towards learning more about your home and identifying areas of improvement to prioritize.

At risk of this coming off like I’m getting incentivized to post this (I am not), they have a referral program if you use my name and I will happily ask them to apply the $150 referral bonus I would receive as a discount to your service, in addition to the $50 discount you’d get as part of that referral program.

How to Use the Results

Energy/thermal issues can be difficult and expensive to chase without the right information. What seems like an insulation issue, may be better addressed with air sealing. What seems like an dying air conditioner, might be leaky ducts. What seems like a working exhaust fan, may be poorly installed and producing more noise than air extraction. The audit provides you with a ton of specific energy related information that can significantly increase the efficiency and comfort of your home, and quite possibly help you reduce your utility bills.

The report will include a list of recommended work to perform and sometimes, depending on how much work there is, they will bucket the work in terms of “good, better, best” to help you budget and prioritize. Home Energy Medics can do the work, and they do a good job, but you can save money by bidding out work yourself using their recommendations.

If you’d like to discuss buying, selling, investing, or renting, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at

If you’d like a question answered in my weekly column or to discuss buying, selling, renting, or investing, please send an email to To read any of my older posts, visit the blog section of my website at Call me directly at (703) 539-2529.

Video summaries of some articles can be found on YouTube on the Eli Residential channel.
Eli Tucker is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington DC, and Maryland with RLAH @properties, 4040 N Fairfax Dr #10C Arlington VA 22203. (703) 390-9460.

Poll: Why Do you Own a Home (or want to own)?

What is Your Why?

Any way you slice it these days, it’s tough to be a buyer. Your selection of homes available for sale is lower than usual because so few homes are being listed for sale and mortgage rates are the highest they’ve been since ~2000, but prices (and competition) remain high, and are unlikely to fall because of tight supply.

Most of the conversation around the advantages of home ownership focus on the financial benefits – wealth/equity accumulation, appreciation, tax incentives, etc but those financial incentives have weakened over the last 12-14 months for many buyers but there are plenty of non-financial reasons people have for wanting to own their home like stability, greater choice, control over your environment, and fulfilling personal goals.


What is the primary reason you own or want to own a home?

Participate in the poll at ARLnow.

Non-Financial Considerations

The conversation around homeownership vs renting must include the financial pros and cons, but too often the non-financial reasons don’t get enough attention. For example, I often find that people in a transitional period in their lives do not properly value the flexibility of renting. That flexibility can even turn into a financial benefit as well.

On the flip side, I rarely hear people factor in the importance of being able to control their own environment when they’re weighing homeownership. You are a product of your environment and being able to invest in the improvements and maintenance that are important to you can have a significant effect on your day-to-day happiness and well-being.

If I missed your primary reason for home ownership in the poll, please add yours to the comment section.

If you’d like to discuss buying, selling, investing, or renting, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at

If you’d like a question answered in my weekly column or to discuss buying, selling, renting, or investing, please send an email to To read any of my older posts, visit the blog section of my website at Call me directly at (703) 539-2529.

Video summaries of some articles can be found on YouTube on the Eli Residential channel.

Eli Tucker is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington DC, and Maryland with RLAH @properties, 4040 N Fairfax Dr #10C Arlington VA 22203. (703) 390-9460.

Podcast with ARLnow: Market Conditions, Missing Middle, and More

Answer: Last week I joined ARLnow founder and leader, Scott Brodbeck, for a live podcast discussing a range of local real estate topics including market conditions, the struggle of buying, Missing Middle, and more! Scott and I hope to continue doing live podcasts when there is a good intersection of news and real estate. Look for us to go live on social media so that you can listen in or ask questions live on the podcast.

The full podcast transcript is copied below, if you’d like to search for specific words and look at where it’s discussed in the video:

Scott: [00:00:00] All right. So thank you for joining us today. We’re going to talk for about half an hour this afternoon about the state of the Arlington real estate market. This is the first time we’ve done anything like this live. So it’s a bit of an experiment. So bear with us if some of the technology does not go perfectly.

So Eli, you are noted by our readers from your Ask Eli column for just having mounds of data from which you pull insights. What is your take on the current state of the real estate market in Arlington, where we have 8 percent interest rates, and it seems like a weird place. Help us out. What’s going on?

Eli: Yeah, so it is a weird place. And where we’re at now is oftentimes, not just this year, but in other years, you get some scary feelings about what’s next. Things start to slow down and it’s generally a fairly significant slowdown from earlier in the year. And so we are experiencing fairly normal seasonality right now.

The metrics are [00:01:00] aligned with what we usually experience this time of year. Demand is petering off. Inventory is slowing down. Properties are sitting on the market a bit longer. There’s more price reduction. So this happens this time every single year, and oftentimes people make the mistake of getting lulled to sleep and thinking that they can just let the holidays come and roll easily into

the next year and buy. But that’s what everybody plans to do and oftentimes we see demand in the market quickly turn by the second or third week of January. But what we’re seeing is a little bit extreme of a version of some of those data points. And it’s because both buyers and sellers are getting pulled away from the market because of primarily the high interest rates.

There’s a lot of both parties sitting on the sideline. And so the change in days on market that we’re experiencing now is more significant [00:02:00] than compared to earlier this year than what we would experience in a normal year. We do have a larger percentage of properties on the market that are reducing their price, but we’re talking about just percentages.

So right now in Arlington, I think something a little under 40 percent of homes have reduced the price that are sitting on the market. That’s normally like in the mid thirties. And so it’s similar, but a little bit more extreme version of that. We’ve got low inventory, but an extreme version of it, right?

We are down 20, 30 percent in the amount of inventory that would normally be coming to market this time of year, even though it’s normally still pretty slow. And all of that, even though demand is particularly slow because of high interest rates, there’s enough sellers sitting things out and sitting on the sideline and keeping supply low that it’s like this balancing effect on the supply demand. And prices are mostly staying level. There’s more deals [00:03:00] out there right now than you would expect in early part of the year, but we’re certainly not bottoming out, even though it might seem that way to some sellers who after three weeks don’t have an offer and their hair’s on fire a little bit, but that’s normal for this sort of this time of year.

Scott: So if you were to compare this market to let’s say 10 years ago, I don’t remember where the interest rates were 10 years ago, but it certainly wasn’t at two and I believe lower than eight, correct me if I’m wrong, 

Eli: –four fives ish. In the early part of the decade there. We had moved into a low interest rate environment due to the stimulus and everything from the great recession

and it was low rates. And so I think generally, if I recall, we were in the fours and fives. 

Scott: So is this at all comparable to that market where the interest rates were a little slightly higher than they were a few couple of years ago? I don’t know. I was not in the real estate market myself at that point.

Eli: You know, the most recent memory people have of major shifts in the real estate market [00:04:00] is the great recession, right? Is kind of 11, 12, right? And people have been looking for patterns that would suggest we are moving into a similar pattern as that, but it’s just a totally different situation. It’s a wildly different set of economics that we’re dealing with. It’s not comparable really at all. That shock was one brought on by collapsing mortgages, enormous supply, people unable to afford their homes, short sales and foreclosures, which were sending tons of inventory to the market while at the same time, demand was down because markets were collapsing in general, stock prices were down, people were losing their jobs. And that’s why prices dropped. And so the recovery phase was a winding down of all that inventory and a rebuilding of demand as people started to get more confident around 11, 12, 13. We don’t have [00:05:00] that kind of inventory, right?

And so prices are not falling. I think it, one, speaks to the kind of the stability and strength of the Arlington market and the local DC area market. That’s what a lot of the markets in the country are experiencing just because supply is so low. So it’s not allowing the week in demand and the interest rates to really push prices down.

And so there’s not really a lot of similarities to what we had happening 10 to 15 years ago. And this interest rate shock is significant if rates come down a little bit, like they did moving through the recession, which helped to stimulate some of the market. If we drop by a percentage or two, I think, hold on, right?

If the average rate comes down to five and a half, 6%, which I don’t think it will anytime soon, but if something happens that causes that to happen relatively quickly. I mean, hold on, there’s going to be a wave of buyers coming off the market. And are off the bench and much faster than sellers will come off the [00:06:00] bench and decide it’s time for them to move.

And things could get pretty interesting.

Scott: That would be exciting. Although there are a lot of people saying that these interest rates are going to remain higher for longer. So we’ll see what happens. We’ll do a quick reset here for anybody watching live. Uh, we’re talking with ARLnow real estate columnist, Eli Tucker. He’s been doing our real estate column for four years and you agreed, Eli, thankfully to do this little experiment with us where this is for a podcast, but it’s also going out live. We’re accepting questions. If anybody’s watching on Facebook right now, you’re welcome to type a question into the comments and we’ve never done this before. So, please forgive us if it’s not working exactly as we were intending. Eli, you talked about the demand is still there in the market and DC area potentially remaining strong. I wanted to ask you about two potential factors that might be playing into the market right now. You have 10, 000 plus employees.

We don’t know how many exactly moved here for the job versus we’re already [00:07:00] there. But you have a very large private employer that keeps hiring people down in the Pentagon city area. Do you see any evidence that is contributing to increased demand on the ground in Arlington? 

Eli: Yeah, I have found a handful of new Amazon employees who have moved into the area shopping around listings, open houses and things. So you are seeing some signs of that. I don’t think that it is enough that it has caused a real material effect On the demand in the Arlington market, because they’re not only buying in Arlington, right? They’re going to be looking across the DC metro area, Fairfax County, Alexandria. And so I’m not sure where we would find support to say that these new employees moving here are creating some sort of new demand, but I haven’t gotten that sense at all.

I think what we saw, the biggest impact that we will feel is that [00:08:00] initial spark that we got, particularly in the condo market when they announced at the end of 2018 and what that did to the condo market from late 2018 to early 2020 until COVID shutdowns sent condo market into a tailspin. That market appreciated up 8, 10 percent in that time, which is totally abnormal for the condo market.

And so I think it’ll be more incremental, what we see and feel. And I think it will be hard to truly measure, especially with all the other employment that’s happening around here, and all the people coming and going. Turning over of political offices and things like that. I think it’ll be hard to truly measure.

Scott: So another factor that’s potentially weighing into the real estate market, although on a small scale at this point, to be clear is Missing Middle. We’ve done numerous stories on the passing of the Missing Middle ordinance in Arlington. It essentially takes what were formerly area zone just for single family housing and [00:09:00] opened it up to buildings of up to six units a piece.

We’re seeing a fair number of duplexes townhomes in terms of permits for that kind of construction. We’re also seeing some six plexes mixed in there, mostly around the Metro corridor. But we’re just at the beginning of this, cause it was only a couple of months ago that they opened up the permitting process and in terms of.

Missing Middle units getting built, I’m not exactly privy to how many are under construction, if any, but we’re in the very early stages of this. And even if there was a flood of applicants, the county in their approval of Missing Middle limited the number that can get approved in a given year. So this is a bit of a small scale thing. But nonetheless, I’m sure a lot of people are wondering. Is it having any impact, excuse me, on the real estate market here in Arlington? 

Eli: From a data standpoint, from a pricing standpoint, no. There’s absolutely no impact to the market at this point from Missing Middle The impact to the [00:10:00] market is all of the noise and the conversation around it. That’s where all the energy is coming from and the policy side of things.

And also, unfortunately for the handful of neighbors who are seeing Missing Middle approved applications or Missing Middle pending applications right next to them, where it’s going to directly affect their parking and their experience and privacy and things on a day to day basis. That impact is very real. But from a market standpoint, I think we are a long ways off from seeing it move the needle in any meaningful way.

I think they started accepting applications July one, if I’m not mistaken. And in the first month or so, there were quite a few applications coming in. But it’s really slowed down to a trickle since then. Maybe one new application a week, a lot of applications getting rejected and sent back for review [00:11:00] and a handful, I think maybe seven or eight total have been approved.

And from anybody that I’ve talked to and the numbers that I’ve run, I’ve looked at this from a number of different angles with a couple of developers and some architects, and it’s really hard to find situations where you can justify paying more for land for a teardown for Missing Middle at this stage than you would for single family.

And so I think most of the folks buying up or looking for Missing Middle, especially with the lawsuit out there that provides a big question mark as to what this all looks like and a lot of potential risk, I think that it’s very hard for somebody who’s paying attention to the market and understands the market to pay more for land than they would be able to profit and do well with a single family house.

And so I don’t think it’s moving the needle very much. And there’s just so many unknowns right now. For me as [00:12:00] a real estate agent, where it’s my job to value things, to understand what the appropriate acquisition price should be, what the likely out sale is going to be for a four unit or a six unit, that’s really hard right now because we don’t really know what these are going to look like. We don’t really know how the market is going to respond to different product categories and in locations that haven’t really had those types of products in them. So when you have that much unknown in what the outsale is going to be, you have to be particularly careful in what you’re acquiring them for.

So I think that we’re going to slowly learn about how the market is going to interact with missing middle, where it works, where it doesn’t work. There’s going to be some mistakes and successes. There’s going to be some great ideas and some bad ideas. And I believe this was intentional from the county that it will probably be three, four, five years before there’s enough examples and we’ve seen enough where more people are willing to put their money in confidently and actually [00:13:00] start to intentionally buy up Missing Middle and implement it. If there’s profit there. We may find out in three or four years that there’s very little room for missing middle to be profitable in a lot of areas and that’s possible.

So I think we’re a ways off from seeing an actual effect on the market. Some people I think would applaud that. I think a lot of people would also say you totally missed the point and we missed the boat here in the policy. 

Scott: You mentioned that it’s hard to get it to pencil out and people who know the market might be avoiding it.

What are you seeing in terms of who’s building it? Is it smaller builders that don’t do as much work in Arlington? Do you see any of the bigger builders dipping their toe in the water to see how it goes? What are you seeing from that standpoint in terms of who is building this out there? 

Eli: Like most one-off development in this area, it’s a combination of those things. There are some small folks names I don’t recognize, but there are also some bigger players getting involved. I don’t think [00:14:00] that they would have any problem with being mentioned in this, but Classic Cottages, they’re a huge player in the single family development game in Arlington. And as far as I can tell, they hold the most pending and approved permits of anybody. There’s not a whole lot out there. And I think they probably have four or five, maybe five or six in process or approved. And I spoke with them and one of the fears that people have is that these are going to turn into rentals.

And I certainly understand that concern. I don’t think that the numbers work out in a lot of cases for these to be rentals in a lot of the areas, but Classic Cottages has no intention to rent, right? This is for resale. They plan to build to a similar style and quality as their 2 million dollar single family homes, right?

It’ll be tuned to the price point, but they’re very conscious of their brand and their name, and they don’t want to spoil what they have in the rest of the market. I think that any builder who has a brand in Arlington, I think we will see some of the mid sized to bigger [00:15:00] players getting involved eventually.

I think that they’re going to be very careful to deliver a product that represents also the quality of their single family product. And so it is a combination. I also think that a lot of the applications in are just from homeowners. I’ve looked back at some of the public records and sales history, and it doesn’t look like there’s been, for many of these, a sale recently. To me, that indicates that a lot of these applications are from, you know, existing homeowners.

 They might’ve been renting the property out or they’re living there and they’re just curious that they’ve heard all of this money that can be made for Missing Middle. It costs nothing to put an application in. It’s fairly simple to do. You have to provide some plans and permits. That’s not very difficult. I am not convinced that a lot of those folks have truly run the profit and loss models that a builder would to bring it to market. And so, for a lot of those folks, I wonder, and I’ve wondered [00:16:00] publicly on some of my articles that I don’t know how many of these will actually make it to construction because when it comes down to starting to spend a million bucks plus on construction, that’s where really the rubber meets the road.

And you start to get into the land disturbance stuff with stormwater, which is really challenging in Arlington to get through those. And none of that has not been done yet to get to an approved Missing Middle permit. So I think that there’s also a lot of homeowners who are maybe going to get to the approved application and then try to find a builder or an investor who wants to buy a lot from them with an approved application.

And who knows at that time, if anybody’s going to agree that it’s profitable. I would guess that there is a percentage of properties that fall into that category as well. 

Scott: So a bit of a fraught question. Apologies if it touches on a sensitive area But I was wondering what do real estate agents in Arlington in general think of Missing Middle?

We’ve [00:17:00] cited in our reporting a newsletter from a real estate agent, natalie Roy, who seems to be very much opposed to it. And in fact, ran for county board essentially on a platform opposed to it. On the other hand, there are a lot of people assuming in comments, both through elected officials and in our comment section that developers and real estate agents must be all for it because you’re gaining more inventory.

So where, where does the truth lie? 

Eli: You know, Natalie, I think is doing amazing things reporting on Missing Middle and I commend her for that. I think she’s making some great arguments and really supporting a large percentage of the community. Her and I are actually overdue for some coffee to talk about Missing Middle. She disagrees with a number of my opinions on the topic. And Natalie, if you listen to this, we’re still on for coffee. I think a lot of it has to do with where the agents live. And I think for agents who live in Arlington and can be negatively affected by missing middle, they’re in a [00:18:00] single family neighborhood.

Like most people who live in single family neighborhoods and don’t want that disrupted, they’re strongly against it. I’ve talked to multiple agents who are in that situation, or most of their clients are in those positions and they don’t like it. This isn’t going to be a seismic shift in the amount of business that we can do.

Right? You’re talking about maybe if it really becomes effective, a couple dozen, a few dozen new units per year. Maybe. And mostly condo type units and stuff. And so it’s not going to be a game changer for our industry by any means, the way that the code is put together. So I would disagree that the agent community overall is supporting it just because it’s more business for us. Personally, as somebody who spends a lot of time in the housing industry, both as an Arlington resident and has a single family house with a couple of lots around me that I look at and I say, “ooh, that lot behind me could be Missing Middle. There’s a couple [00:19:00] opportunities here in my neighborhood.” I don’t like that as a resident, but I understand it. And I think that there’s progress that can and should be made on how to do this the right way. So I support it from understanding that there are gaps in our housing market that would be nice to fill.

I don’t think that the policy and the code that we have in here is going to do a good job of filling that. But hopefully this is the start of a longer term conversation to bring some new inventory and some new product to market that actually does fill some of those gaps. But without dragging the conversation all too long– No, I don’t think that the agent community is salivating it over all of this new business that’s going to come from it.

I just don’t think it lines up in that way. 

Scott: So it sounds like your answer to this is going to be yes. But just out of curiosity, is the middle actually missing? Is there a dearth of townhomes and duplexes and those kind of smaller scale [00:20:00] housing units that are somewhere between like a condo, one bedroom condo and a high rise and a single family home on its own lot?

Eli: Yeah, there is. So three and four bedroom properties exist, but a lot of those are old properties built in the forties to sixties when a lot of single family in Arlington was built and there’s not a whole lot you can do with it. We don’t have, in my opinion, enough townhouse and duplex product, and we’re certainly not missing one and two bedroom condo multifamily type housing.

That’s a ton of our housing, both rental and for purchase. And so I think when I talk about the policy, not really, in my opinion, working for what we actually the gaps that we need to work. I think the policy is going to ultimately lead to more one and two bedroom condo style development and that’s not what we need.

That’s not really what anybody is looking for. And I strongly [00:21:00] disagree with the way that the policy was structured that allows that to be the overwhelming profit driver for developers and really one of the only good paths forward. What we’re missing are the kind of 2,000 to 2,800 square foot, three to four bedroom, two and a half, three full bath that product where a young family or established family can move there, live there comfortably. It has the conveniences and the features in the floor plans that families right now are looking for. That I believe is where the gap is. And I think that it would be fantastic to find some ways to deliver that. I also think that for much of Arlington, when we talk about real neighborhoods, the suburbs where people don’t want these four to six plexes, they’re just out of place.

Those products, I do think are appropriate in some of those neighborhoods in a lot of cases, right? I don’t really have a problem with a duplex or even a well done [00:22:00] triplex or something, or we’re on a large lot for townhouses, which is not allowed now going in some areas, I think that’s the type of product that there is a gap for, but it’s not the product that is really being incentivized and the code really allows the developer community to create. 

Scott: So somewhat related question, and going back to our real estate market conversation among people my age, and I just turned 40. A lot of people my age who I’m friends with in Arlington, they are in the same boat. They bought a house at some point within the past few years when interest rates were low, or they bought a house earlier and they refinanced.

And now they’re sitting there with a low interest rate. Sitting pretty. But they bought what they expected to be a starter home. And there is just no world in which it makes any economic sense for them to trade up and go from a 3 percent interest rate or something around [00:23:00] that to an 8 percent interest rate.

Enviable position if you’re currently in the market and you’re going to be starting with that 8 percent interest rate. But nonetheless, I talked to so many people are in the same exact boat and they’re thinking, do I renovate? Do I do additions? A lot of them are taking that option, but what does that do to the market?

When you have people who bought assuming that they would be trading up at some point and now are like, I guess I stay here. 

Eli: It’s so frustrating. I have eight to ten clients that I have been working with lightly for the last kind of year and a half who are in this position and they can stay in the house they’re in. And it just is crazy to triple or quadruple their monthly payments. To make that upgrade. This is the problem across the board. It is freezing the market and it’s not providing the inventory because when those folks do end up buying now [00:24:00] a starter home a duplex or a large condo or small single family house comes to market and it allows the market to churn and move, which is good because it means more people are moving into the homes that they want to be in that they’re happy. You want that. Housing is such a key ingredient to the American life and happiness, and you want people to be able to matriculate through the housing system and what we also aren’t getting is the folks at the top of the housing system, the empty nesters and retirees selling those bigger homes that they have all this extra capacity and they’re in the same boat. It doesn’t make sense for them to sell because you know, they’re going to downsize and end up in something as expensive unless they decide to pay all cash, but everything’s frozen and I think it’s going to take a while to unfreeze it. I’ve seen studies that say we’re really not going to be able to [00:25:00] unfreeze the market until rates get to about 5%. Like that upper fours, low fives is when a lot of these folks who are sidelined, who don’t want to make that move will start to come back to the table. It’s really tough because you’ve got a lot of people who have worked very hard, who have great incomes, great savings and deserve to be able to move to the next stage of housing in their lives and with their families and they can’t and renovating isn’t pretty either. Those costs have skyrocketed and that’s not necessarily the right ROI long term for a lot of families. And so there’s, when you’re in these situations where there’s not a lot of great alternatives, it’s really hard, and there’s just a lot of frustration in the housing market. Not a lot of good answers. We’ve put ourselves in a really tough spot with people locked into super low rates and now in an environment where they might not come down to that five level anytime soon. I wish I had an answer. 

Scott: I can confirm [00:26:00] that it’s frustrating, even though I count my blessings that, you know, we bought in here in Arlington when we did where it just feels like we’re stuck, which is, it’s not the worst, but it’s also, you went into it with one expectation and now it’s a completely different reality and there’s no indication that it’s going to change anytime soon. So we’ll see. Eli, we’re at the end of our half hour that we said we were going to go here. Thank you again for being gracious with your time. I did want to throw in one bonus question at the end for those who might be interested in the behind the scenes here.

So you’ve been doing the Ask Eli column on ARLnow for a number of years. You can tell me the year it started, but what sort of reaction do you get? Do you ever get stomped in the street and Hey, you’re the real estate columnist guy. 

Eli: Yeah, what I get from a recognition standpoint is people will look at me and they, it’s a familiar face type thing, but like, it’s not easy to say, “Oh, you’re from the columns.”

So if I mention it, or I ask if they read [00:27:00] ARLnow or if I’m at an open house and I mentioned it, they go, “Oh, yes.” But it’s rare that somebody will actually stop me and say, “Oh, you do the column” because it’s a really hard thing to place out in the wild, but I’ve loved it. It has taught me so much about real estate and the Arlington market and all the time and the data.

I really enjoy it. And I know the data that I get into doesn’t really appeal to everybody, but it’s really helped me grow as a professional a lot. And I appreciate very much having the platform, the opportunity to do all that. And it’s really been a wonderful experience. Eight years in, and I hope to be having these conversations and another eight years.

Scott: I appreciate you being willing to be the guinea pig for our first discussion like this. It’s much appreciated. You always bring such insight to conversations like this when you have them with myself or other people you’ve talked to who I know and in the column itself. [00:28:00] So thanks for that, Eli. Appreciate you being here.

Appreciate you taking the time and maybe we’ll do this again soon. Sounds good to me. 

Eli: All right, Scott. I appreciate it.

If you’d like to discuss buying, selling, investing, or renting, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at

If you’d like a question answered in my weekly column or to discuss buying, selling, renting, or investing, please send an email to To read any of my older posts, visit the blog section of my website at Call me directly at (703) 539-2529.

Video summaries of some articles can be found on YouTube on the Eli Residential channel.
Eli Tucker is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington DC, and Maryland with RLAH @properties, 4040 N Fairfax Dr #10C Arlington VA 22203. (703) 390-9460.

Rent vs Buy: Data to Aid Your Decision

Question: How have rental prices and purchase prices changed in relation to each other over the last few years?

Answer: This is not going to be a column about whether you should rent or buy, there are plenty of those. Rather, I’m offering a data comparison of how rental and purchase prices and demand metrics in Arlington have changed in relation to each other since 2018.

We all know that both have gotten mind-numbingly expensive over the last few years, but there’s not really a third option (aside from crashing with Mom and Dad) so everybody is faced with the same decision of whether it’s a better decision/value proposition for them to rent or buy – hopefully this column helps with that decision.

Note: the rental data used below is limited to what is in the MLS, which is a limited data set of the Arlington rental market but it is more than enough data to allow us to capture an accurate reading of the rental market

Buy a Condo, Rent a House?

Since 2018, the average price of a single-family home has gone up by significantly more (+28.3%) than the average cost of renting a house (+20.7%) in Arlington (note: this does not take mortgage rates into consideration) whereas the average cost of renting a condo (+12.9%) has gone up much more than the average cost of buying a condo (+8%) during that time.

A blue and white table with text

Description automatically generated

Another way of looking at the price relationship between sale prices and rental rates is to look at the multiple of the average cost to buy compared to the average cost of a 12-month rental. Using the table below, we learn that condo prices are the cheapest they’ve been since 2018 relative to the cost of renting, which may very well be due to high mortgage rates pushing more demand towards renting and away from buying condos.

We can see a modest decrease this year in the cost of buying a house relative to renting, after five straight years of that multiple increasing. This is also likely due to mortgage rates shifting more demand than usual towards renting.

The other key takeaway from the table below is just how much more it costs to buy a single-family home relative to renting one in comparison to buying vs renting a condo.

A table with numbers and text

Description automatically generated

Renting Ain’t Easy

Unfortunately for those fed up with purchase prices, high mortgage rates, and low inventory for purchase, deciding to rent isn’t exactly an easy way out. Not only have rents increased significantly since 2021 — by 10.5% for single-family homes and 15.1% for condos (yes, it’s higher than the increase since 2018 because rents fell in 2020 and 2021) – but the rental market has gotten much more competitive in that time with properties renting more than twice as fast as they did in 2019 and about six times faster than they did in 2018!

The demand metrics below show just how competitive the rental market has gotten over the last two years, because of higher prices and mortgage rates pushing more demand towards rentals. For reference, depending on the season and type of property, about 40-60% of homes for sale go under contract within seven days and usually sell for 99-101% of the original asking price.

A screenshot of a graph

Description automatically generated

How to Use this Data to Decide on Buying vs Renting

The data in the first section suggests that the smart financial decision is to buy a condo and rent a house, right? No, not really. This data isn’t meant to answer your buy vs rent question, rather it can be a helpful input amongst the many other considerations that factor into which decision is right for you/your family.

For example, you may walk away from this column feeling that renting a house is a better financial decision, but the reality of renting a single-family may not actually work for you – it’s harder to find what you want from a rental, you give up a lot of control over the home’s maintenance and condition, you may not be able to live there as long as you’d like, etc.

Condos (and apartments) are a different story though, you have significantly more options from individually owned condos to commercially managed apartment buildings and there a fewer maintenance and condition issues that might negatively affect your day-to-day living and enjoyment of the property.

At the end of the day, the decision to rent or buy should include a wide range of factors and be based on your individual situation, not the opinion of one or two people in the business of making content or who financially benefit from your decision. I do think that a mistake many people make is that once they’ve owned a home, they never consider renting as an option again. I think that for every move you need/want to make, you should give serious consideration to both renting and buying, allowing yourself to revisit assumptions you’ve made, challenge your reasoning, and consider current market conditions.

If you’d like to discuss buying, selling, investing, or renting, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at

If you’d like a question answered in my weekly column or to discuss buying, selling, renting, or investing, please send an email to To read any of my older posts, visit the blog section of my website at Call me directly at (703) 539-2529.

Video summaries of some articles can be found on YouTube on the Eli Residential channel.

Eli Tucker is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington DC, and Maryland with RLAH @properties, 4040 N Fairfax Dr #10C Arlington VA 22203. (703) 390-9460.

Find Savings in your 2024 HOA/Condo Budget

Question: We are finalizing our 2024 condo budget. Do you have any advice for ways to save money?

Answer: As a former Condo Board Treasurer, I feel the pain that this time of year brings, so I’m happy to offer some advice that helped me finding savings while I oversaw the budget and has helped other Associations do the same… review your Master Insurance Policy.

I know, it’s not the most exciting answer, but your insurance policy is likely a top three expense every year and if you haven’t reviewed it lately, there’s a good chance you can cut the cost by 10% or more and probably improve your coverage at the same time.

I’m not an expert in insurance so, I asked Andrew Schlaffer, President of ACO Insurance to provide some details on what Boards should look for when they do a review of their Master Policy. If you’d like to discuss a review with Andrew directly, you can reach him at 703-595-9760 or Take it away Andrew…

Hardening Markets, Increasing Premiums, Decreases in Coverage

The condominium insurance marketplace is facing challenges that will impact homeowners in 2024 and beyond. The combination of catastrophic storms and reduced reinsurance capacity continue to wreak havoc on many communities worldwide causing some property insurance markets to increase rates and/or exit the habitation market entirely. Through the first two quarters of this year, on average, US property insurance renewal rates increased by 20%. Water damage claims are still among the loss leaders impacting Unit Owners locally, along with fire damage and wind/hail claims. The DMV is home to many aging condo buildings that continue to struggle with mitigating water damage losses and their impact on insurance premiums.

As water damage claims continue to rise and property damage costs increase, many insurance carriers are beginning to make changes to their coverage offerings that may increase your risk exposure. A few examples of these coverage changes include increased deductibles, per unit water damage deductibles, removing coverage for Sewer or Drain Backup and Wind-Driven Rain.

In general, condominium property rate increases in the DMV have been significant and unpredictable. Much of the pricing impact can depend heavily upon carrier underwriting discretion which highlights the importance of your insurance professional specializing in this space. It is unheard of for Master Insurance policies to receive between a 10% to 20% property rate increase. For struggling communities, these rates are much higher.

The umbrella/excess liability carrier marketplace has also faced tremendous disruptions. There are several factors driving these rate increases including but not limited to: COVID-19 impacts, years of underpricing, reinsurance rate increases, and the rise of nuclear verdicts (claims over $10MM).

Additionally, there have been several specialty real estate programs who no longer offer umbrella/excess liability options for the habitational industry which has put a lot of strain on remaining carrier markets to fulfill the increase in demand. Many communities can expect umbrella/excess liability rates to increase between 10% to 25% this year. 

Pillars of Insurance Reviews

Condo insurance reviews require a holistic approach, so it’s important to break the cost into a few distinct categories: insurance premium, deductible expense, and out-of-pocket costs. To effectively accomplish long-term savings, all three of these categories need to be considered and addressed with a qualified insurance professional.

Adjust Coverage Responsibly to Save on Premium

Premium is certainly a factor to consider during the insurance selection process; however, available insurance products differ significantly. Coverages and services should be very carefully analyzed and compared. While omitting various coverages will save premium dollars, it might also result in substantially increased costs to the Association for out-of-pocket expenses related to uncovered claims.

It is critical to work with a professional who understands local insurance needs and can adjust your insurance program in a way that maximizes premium savings while maintaining adequate insurance coverage. Some coverages may be required by statute and/or Association documents, so cutting required coverage exposes the Board to unwanted risk.

Deductibles Based on Loss History

Associations with strong financials often choose to increase their property deductibles which can provide immediate savings of 3-10%. Deductibles range from $2,500 to $25,000+. When considering deductibles, it is important for the Association to review their loss history and the loss history of comparable buildings in an effort to obtain an accurate estimate for deductible expenses.

Rate Shopping

The most common strategy employed by Associations seeking lower insurance costs is to shop their carrier. An Association can accomplish this in several ways but generally their appointed broker can offer alternative carriers in an effort to obtain the most competitive rates possible. Make sure your broker has access to all of the competitive markets in order to maximize the likelihood of finding savings.

Secondly, and more importantly, if savings is found, your broker should verify that all required coverages per the Bylaws and State Statute are included to secure the Association’s long-term financial security and lender approval. Additional savings can be realized by a thorough coverage analysis to verify the Association is not being over-insured by paying for coverage it won’t use.

To ensure cost savings and long-term health of your property, make sure your insurance broker specializes in Condominium or Homeowners Associations. To maximize your savings, the Association, insurance broker, and insurance carrier need to work in harmony to identify and reduce threats to the financial health of the community.

Help Reducing Claims

One of the best ways to keep insurance costs down is to avoid claims altogether. Some examples of how insurance brokers can help reduce claims and the impact claims have on your future premium costs include coverage reviews/benchmarking, claims management services, site inspections, building upgrade recommendations, life safety planning, vendor contract reviews, discrimination/harassment training, and hiring/firing best practices.

Thank You Andrew

Andrew, thank you very much for your insights. HOA/Condo Boards can reach out to Andrew at to review their insurance policies, I highly recommend him.

If you’d like to discuss buying, selling, investing, or renting, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at

If you’d like a question answered in my weekly column or to discuss buying, selling, renting, or investing, please send an email to To read any of my older posts, visit the blog section of my website at Call me directly at (703) 539-2529.

Video summaries of some articles can be found on YouTube on the Eli Residential channel.

Eli Tucker is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington DC, and Maryland with RLAH @properties, 4040 N Fairfax Dr #10C Arlington VA 22203. (703) 390-9460.

My Most Viral Moment

I’ve written this weekly column for 8 (!) years and made plenty of social media posts for my business, yet my most viral moment (by a long shot) came two weeks ago from…a picture of a bird! But not just any picture of a bird, it was a BALD EAGLE with a RABBIT in its talons! In Arlington!

So even though this has nothing to do with real estate, I thought I’d share with everybody the photo below that went “viral” and got almost 4,500 likes/interactions and 350 shares in the Virginia Wildlife Facebook Group. And later written about in The Zebra, an Alexandria-based publication.

I live in Alcova Heights and was walking to Thai Square (best Thai food in Arlington) for dinner with a friend when we turned the corner onto S Glebe Rd, just north of Columbia Pike, and saw this eagle perched on the wall with a freshly caught rabbit hanging from its talons. It sat there for a while posing for photos and letting us gawk, until taking off in a low glide across the parking lot, with the rabbit hanging below it. The wingspan must have been 6-7+ feet.

Check out how close it let us get in the video below, which I stopped filming as soon as it turned and looked me directly in the eyes and I decided my life was more important than continuing to film!

If you’ve captured some crazy wildlife photos in Arlington, let’s have it shared in the comments section!

If you’d like to discuss buying, selling, investing, or renting, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at

If you’d like a question answered in my weekly column or to discuss buying, selling, renting, or investing, please send an email to To read any of my older posts, visit the blog section of my website at Call me directly at (703) 539-2529.

Video summaries of some articles can be found on YouTube on the Eli Residential channel.

Eli Tucker is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington DC, and Maryland with RLAH @properties, 4040 N Fairfax Dr #10C Arlington VA 22203. (703) 390-9460.