And We Thought Last Year’s Housing Market Was Crazy…

Question: The market seems even more intense this year than last, is that accurate?

Answer: I didn’t think the market had much more room to absorb higher prices and intense competition again this year, but that has proven to be wildly untrue. From single-family homes to condos, the first ten weeks of 2022 has given us even more competition and price escalation than last year, all while interest rates have spiked.

High Escalations, Fast-Paced Sales Across All Property Types

I compared sales of Arlington properties that were listed and under contract in the first ten weeks from the last five years to measure how the start of 2022 has compared to previous years.

Detached/townhouse properties are selling for an average of 4.9% over asking price with 85% selling within seven days on market and 92% going for at or above the asking price. These numbers dwarf what had been historically competitive first quarter markets in the previous four years.

The condo market, which suffered through much of the pandemic, is officially back with competition and escalations picking back up to levels close to what we saw during the post-Amazon HQ2/pre-pandemic market. We’re still seeing above an above-average volume of condos being listed for sale (based on 5yr averages), which is keeping the condo market somewhat in-check, but I expect the intensity of this market to increase through the spring and deep into the year.

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What About Higher Interest Rates?

Thus far, the market has mostly shrugged off intense headwinds created by rapidly increasing interest rates (see chart below), plummeting stock prices, and the war in Ukraine. Just yesterday rates jumped another .125-.25%.

There must be an inflection point somewhere, but so far hyper-low inventory, rising incomes, and high demand have kept us from it.

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Arlington In Three Charts

There are three charts that clearly illustrate why competition is so fierce across all property types in Arlington right now:

  1. Months of Supply (MoS): A measure of supply and demand calculated by how long existing supply can last based on current demand (lower = seller’s market). The detached market reached all-time lows in November 2021 and has decreased each month since, falling to just 1.5 weeks of supply in February. The condo market hovered around two weeks of supply post-Amazon HQ2 and spiked during the summer of 2020 to around three months of supply. Since December, supply dropped to roughly one month and is poised to drop below the one month mark this spring.
  2. Active Listings: The number of active detached and condo listings is down 40% year-over-year in each of the last two months. Reminder that last year I was also writing about historically low detached/townhouse inventory.
  3. New Listings: The volume of new detached and condo listings is down year-over-year each month since July 2021. This pattern will have to quickly reverse this spring if we want any sort of balance to the 2022 market.
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If you’d like to discuss buying, selling, investing, or renting, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at Eli@EliResidential.com.

Video summaries of some articles can be found on YouTube on the Ask Eli, Live With Jean playlist.

2021 Real Estate Market Review: Single-Family

Question: How did Arlington’s single-family home market perform in 2021?

Answer: Last week we reviewed the performance of the condo market so this week we will take a look at the market that has been a topic of conversation across the country for well over a year – the single-family (detached) housing market.

Appreciation Was Strong, Not Exceptional

The 2021 Arlington single-family market was fiercely competitive and experienced its highest appreciation in years. However, the shift in market conditions (demand and price appreciation) was not nearly as dramatic as other regional or national markets that have made headline news over the last 12+ months.

Why? Because thanks to strong market fundamentals and Amazon’s 2018 HQ2 announcement, the Arlington market was already exceptionally competitive and expensive, relative to most other regional and national markets, prior to the COVID-driven housing market mayhem.

Here are some highlights from the chart and table below (22206 and 22209 are not included due to lack of single-family homes sold):

  • The average and median price of a single-family home in Arlington increased in 2021 by 6.2% and 7.2%, respectively. Excellent appreciation for any homeowner, but not the double-digit appreciation other regional and national markets experienced last year.
  • Nearly 50% of homes sold for more than the asking price and didn’t last more than one week on market
  • More single-family homes were listed and sold in 2021 than any of the last five years. Had supply been closer to the ~1,000 homes sold in the previous three years, I suspect average and median prices may have climbed closer to double-digit year-over-year increases.
  • The median price of a house in Arlington exceeded $1M for the first time in 2021. The average price climbed above $1.2M in 2021 and has been above $1M since 2018.
  • The average buyer paid 1.1% over the asking price, which equates to about $13,000 over ask.
  • Of the homes that went under contract in one week or less (just under half), the average buyer paid 3.7% over the asking price
  • In 2017, the majority of homes (39%) sold for less than $800k, in 2021 just 15% of homes sold for less than $800k (this includes teardowns) and 19% sold for at least $1.6M.
  • In each of the last three years, over 40% of homes have sold for $800k-$1.2M

Shake-up at the Top of the Zip Code Rankings

We have a new club house leader in highest average sold price by zip code! With a 15% year-over-year increase in average price, 22213 (western Arlington) finished 2021 with the highest median and average sold price.

But wait, it gets even more interesting! Despite boasting the highest median and average price, the 22213 zip code actually has the lowest average $/SqFt, 4th lowest cost per bedroom, highest average year built by 10+ years, and tied for largest average lot size. So depending on how you look at it, 22213 is the most expensive or best value!

It’s also worth noting that 22213 has the fewest sales of the zip codes I included, with barely enough total sales for me to be comfortable using it here.

The 22201 zip code, which surrounds the Rosslyn (well, Courthouse)-Ballston Corridor, commands the most money for the least house and yard with by far the highest $/SqFt, $/Acre, and $/Bedroom.

Something I would like to highlight with the data below is that change in average price is not necessarily reflective of actual appreciation of individual homes. For example, while 22201 and 22202 show 1% and 3% year-over-year price change, homeowners in those neighborhoods can rest assured that their home almost certainly appreciated more than that in 2021. The uncomfortably low change in average price can likely be attributed to the property mix that was sold in 2021 rather than actual appreciation. Real estate data can be difficult and full of caveats when you’re dealing with relatively small sample sizes.

New Construction, Expensive Homes Lead the Market

The average price of a new home increased 13.1% in 2021and exceeded $2M for the first time ever. New homes are bigger than ever, with the average total finished square footage coming in at just under 5,300 SqFt and averaged 5.5 bedrooms with 5.1 full bathrooms (nearly one full bathroom for each bedroom).

In the last table, I broke the market in each year down by price range (lower 25%, middle 50%, and upper 25%) to see how each cross-section of the market performed year-over-year. The 8.1% jump in average price of the lower 25% in 2020 was likely due to the wave of people leaving shared living (apartments/condos) and the 8.4% increase of the upper 25% in 2021 is likely due to the increased demand of larger, new homes that offer more work-from-home and at-home schooling space for families and low interest rates allowing buyers to increase their budgets.

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

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

Video summaries of some articles can be found on YouTube on the Ask Eli, Live With Jean playlist.

2021 Real Estate Market Review: Condos

Question: How did the Arlington condo market perform in 2021?

Answer: Happy New Year everybody! I hope you’re all enjoying the beautiful snow.

We’ve reached a clear market stabilization point in Arlington’s condo market after an up-and-down 2-3 years. The condo market surged from the 2nd half of 2018 through pre-COVID 2020, led by the announcement of Amazon HQ2 in November 2018, then was hit hard by COVID with many owners and investors flooding the market with supply while demand dropped. This downward pressure lasted from the Summer of 2020 through Q1 2021 and has since stabilized.

Note: The statements and data below are for apartment-style condos (buildings/shared entry) and does not include townhouse-style condos (direct entry) or senior living.

Amazon HQ2 and COVID Were (Mostly) Offsetting Forces

The pricing and demand data are such that the upward pressure from Amazon HQ2 and the downward pressure from COVID seem to have mostly offset each other resulting is modest-to-moderate annual price appreciation over the last 5+ years in the Arlington condo market.

Prices from the 2019 market surge have stuck, with the average price of a one-bedroom in 2021 being 1.5% higher than in 2019 and the average two-bedroom in 2021 being 5.6% higher than in 2019. For the entire Arlington condo market, the average cost of a condo in 2021 rose 2.9% over 2019 values.

If you remove new construction condo sales, the average one-bedroom in 2021 is just 1% higher than in 2019 and the average two-bedroom in 2021 is only .9% higher than in 2019. For the entire Arlington condo market, the average cost of a condo in 2021 rose just .3% over 2019 values.

The other interesting takeaway from the data below is that key demand metrics like average sold price to original asking price, percentage of homes selling within 10 days on market, and average days on market have all settled back to what we saw before the Amazon HQ2 surge (and had been for a while before that).

I think that we are positioned for moderate condo appreciation in the coming years, unless we undergo a significant restructuring of office usage. This is based on a few key points:

  • Condo values have held on, and even appreciated slightly since 2019, despite the massive supply hitting the market over the last 18 months. Historically low interest rates and rising single-family/townhouse prices certainly helped drive that.
  • Amazon HQ2 will continue hiring thousands/tens of thousands of people over the next decade and driving major commercial development in Arlington
  • The pipeline for new condo development is practically non-existent and it takes years to fill that pipeline
  • In many cases, apartment rents are now higher than they were pre-pandemic, making buying more attractive
  • Wider gaps between condo prices and single-family/townhouse prices drive more buyers to condos, if they wish to remain in Arlington

Market Performance Similar Across All Price Points

Sometimes entire markets are led or held back by smaller sub-sections of the market and that gets lost when you take broad averages. I broke the Arlington condo market down into the lower 25%, middle 50%, and upper 25% of price points in each of the last three years to see if one section of the market might have an unnoticed influence on the overall numbers.

As it turns out, all three price cross-sections of the Arlington condo market have performed very similarly over the last three years, which I think is representative of a healthy market.

2021 Performance by Zip Code

For those interested in what the condo market in each Arlington zip code looks like, I pulled together average prices, demand metrics, and property details for you in the table below.

The most notable takeaway is the high demand metrics for 22206 (Shirlington area) because most of the units in this data set located in 22206 live/feel more like a townhouse, despite not being direct-entry (the many direct-entry condos in 22206 were not included in this data set). This clearly shows the markets preference this year for anything resembling non-apartment living.

Next week I plan to do a similar market review of the single-family/detached market.

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

Interest Rate Forecasts and New Loan Limits

Question: What do you expect from mortgage interest rates in 2022?

Answer:

Historically Low Rates

The first thing to understand about mortgage interest rates is that they are market-driven and forecasting comes with the same amount of unpredictability as any other economic/market-based forecasting (GDP, Unemployment, Stocks, etc). So take predictions/forecasts with a grain of salt.

Higher Prices Still “Manageable”

For perspective, the chart above shows the average 30yr fixed rated mortgage in the US since 1971. Historically low interest rates have been one of the main drivers of the rapid housing price appreciation we’ve witnessed over the last 12-18 months.

The charts below, courtesy of the National Association of Realtors, show that low interest rates have kept affordability, based on mortgage payments vs income, lower than the ’05-’07 housing bubble despite housing prices soaring relative to income; even higher than ’05-’06 peaks.

Forecasting Future Rates

For years, we’ve been reading/hearing pundits say that it’s hard to imagine mortgage rates getting lower, often coupled with overly salesy messaging from the real estate industry that you must buy now because rates have never been so low and likely will not remain this low much longer. The problem with those claims is that mortgage rates have been dropping for about 40 years now (with relatively minor fluctuations along the way)…

With that said, even small fluctuations in rates in the near/mid-term impact affordability and buying decisions, making forecasts for the upcoming 12-24 months relevant to those currently, or soon-to-be, active in the buyer/seller market. The chart below shows the latest 30yr fixed mortgage rate forecasts from four leading housing research sources:

Everybody expects mortgage rates to increase over the next 12-24. This is mostly based on the expectation that the Fed will start easing its economic support and will increase interest rates (indirectly influences mortgage rates) to fend off inflation, so if that strategy changes, so too will mortgage rate forecasts.

It’s my belief that a slow, gradual increase in rates, as predicted by Fannie, Freddie, and NAR, is unlikely to have much influence on home values but any sharp increases, or even the pace predicted by MBA, could result in some downward pressure on prices. Home values are an important part of the US economy so you can expect efforts to be made by the Fed to prevent mortgage rate spikes that shock the housing market.

High Loan Limits

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) just released new conforming loan limits for 2022, with significant increases to reflect recent price growth. The jurisdictions in the greater DC Metro area were given the maximum loan ceiling of $970,800. Beginning in 2022, Fannie/Freddie will insure loans up to $970,800 with as little as 5% down, or the equivalent of a purchase price just under $1,022,000 with 5% down. The new conforming limits increase the maximum loan amount with 3% down to $647,200, or the equivalent of a purchase price just over $667,000 with 3% down.

For any conforming loan (or any loan for that matter), borrowers must also qualify on several factors including credit score, debt-to-income ratio, first-time buyer status, and more. Feel free to reach out to me for lender recommendations if you’d like to explore your mortgage options.

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

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

Video summaries of some articles can be found on YouTube on the Ask Eli, Live With Jean playlist.

Zillow’s Home Buying/Selling Issues

Question: Can you share your thoughts on the latest news about Zillow’s issues with their home buying program?

Answer: I don’t usually comment on real estate news, but the recent issues reported with Zillow’s home buying/selling program are interesting and worth discussing.

Catch Me Up

Zillow entered the i-Buying game in April 2018 (launched in Phoenix) with a home buying program called Zillow Offers in which they’d quickly purchase homes using their pricing algorithm (Zestimates) directly from homeowners for cash. The incentive structure is simple: fast, cash, reliable, no list prep. I wrote a column on this type of “i-Buying” in 2019 and discussed the approach, pros, and cons.

Since 2018, Zillow Offers has expanded to over 20 markets around the country (mostly in the south and out west) and bought thousands of homes (maybe tens of thousands, but I couldn’t find a good source). Two weeks ago, news broke that Zillow was freezing home buying through 2021 as they work to offload ~7,000 homes.

Yesterday, news broke that an analyst at KeyBanc, Edward Yruma, studied a sample of 650 homes Zillow is currently selling (about 20% of their total inventory) and found that 2/3 are selling for less than their purchase price at an average discount of 4.5%.

What Does it Mean for the Market?

Does this signal a falling/collapsing real estate market?

People, especially news outlets, love looking for signs of a market or business collapse and will certainly play-up this angle. However, I think it’s a lot of nothing at this point.

First, Zillow’s i-Buying program doesn’t represent the housing market, so I don’t buy that it’s an early indicator of a downturn. It’s a new technology-driven business model for buying and selling homes and even if you expect i-Buying to find long-term success, you expect bumps along the way as algorithms and processes evolve through different market cycles.

Zillow relies on its Zestimate home valuation algorithm to determine their offer price and they have a published median error rate of 6.9% for off-market sales, which is essentially what a Zillow Offers home purchase is. Zestimates is within 10% of the final sold price on an off-market deal just 63.8% of the time.

Their published, and more visible, 1.9% error rate for on-market sales is misleading because the Zestimate algorithm adjusts to asking prices and days on market data once a listing is posted, which brings Zestimate accuracy for on-market sales (majority of sales) much closer to the sold price.

Combine Zillow’s 6.9% error rate for off-market sales with the difficulty in tweaking their pricing algorithms in a rapidly appreciating market (they’ve had to adjust values higher on the fly for their offers to have a chance of being accepted) and it’s easy to understand how they ended up with too much inventory worth less than what they paid.

This isn’t a housing market issue, but growing pains of a new business model and technology.

What Does it Mean for Zillow?

Did Zillow reach too far from their core business and get itself in trouble?

Business Insider reported that if Zillow sold everything at the current list price in Phoenix (Zillow Offer’s second largest market), they’d lose about $6.3M. Let’s say they take even more losses on these homes and take similar losses in the rest of their markets, we’re probably looking at losses of ~$50M-$100M against a market cap of approximately $22B and ~$3.7B cash on hand as of today. Far from trouble and probably losses they’re willing to accept in return for the lessons learned/experience.

These losses are also offset by the financial gains Zillow gets in the other businesses they have that benefit from their home purchase/sale transactions. Zillow bought a mortgage company in 2018 and market their loans to buyers of their homes and likely convert quite a few home sellers via Zillow Offers into Zillow Home Loans borrowers on their next purchase. Zillow also has their own title and escrow business, Zillow Closings, a notably profitable business. The transaction activity also strengthens their very lucrative revenue stream from real estate agents who purchase leads from, and pay referral fees to, Zillow.

Not only is this news about underwater inventory unlikely to materially impact Zillow’s business, but it’s hard to even call it an embarrassing misstep at this point given the valuable information/lessons learned they likely picked up along the way.

Does Zillow Offers Operate Here?

Zillow Offers does not operate in the DC area, in fact, the closest market to us that they operate in is Raleigh NC. I believe we don’t see Zillow Offers here because our housing inventory is more diverse and older than most/all of their current markets.

A diverse housing supply makes it more difficult for algorithms to predict values compared to markets Zillow Offers operates in that have huge developments of homes with very similar inventory. An older housing supply is likely considered too risky for a hands-off buyer like Zillow making it hard for them to make competitive offers that account for the added risk factor.

Looking Forward

I’m very interested in when Zillow restarts their i-Buying program and if they make significant adjustments to the markets they operate in, their fee structure (fees are already high for homeowners), or process. There’s so much potential in i-Buying for a company like Zillow because of all the different ways they can create revenue/profits, even if they take some losses on the actual sale, that it’s hard to imagine they don’t come back better and stronger than before.

On the flip side, they could decide that i-Buying creates too much risk/distraction for their core business(es) and find revenue elsewhere, leaving i-Buying to companies that specialize in it like Opendoor.

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

Is The Real Estate Market Slowing Down?

Question: Have you noticed a change in the real estate market lately?

Answer:

Summer Slowdown is Normal, Likely More Pronounced in 2021

It is normal for the real estate market to slowdown as we transition from the intensity of the spring market into the summer market and we (myself, my colleagues, and lenders I’ve spoken to) have seen that shift over the last few weeks.

I don’t think we are anywhere close to experiencing a market correction, but I do think the change in market conditions from the spring market (which really began in January/February 2021) to the summer market will be more pronounced this year because of COVID.

Buyers More Distracted By Travel/Events

Now that most of our buying population is vaccinated and businesses/events are open, Buyers’ attention is finally being focused on trips, events, and visiting friends & family rather than solely on their home search. Diversions are usually highest in the summer and around the holidays, thus historically slower markets, but this summer and holiday season will be met with an unusually high number of distractions for Buyers (that’s a good thing!).

Asking Prices Catching Up

Another factor in the shift in this summer’s market is that asking prices are finally starting to catch-up, in many cases, to actual market values. During the first 3-4+ months of 2021, the sales data (sold prices) wasn’t there or wasn’t enough to give Sellers the confidence to increase their asking prices 5-10%+ over 2019-2020 prices, which is why we’ve seen such extreme price escalations this year. Now that asking prices are falling more in-line with what the market is willing to pay (based on my experience over the last 4-8 weeks), the number of offers and wild escalations should subside.

What Likely Will/Will Not Happen

Homeowners planning to sell should not worry that the bottom is falling out of the market, but expectations should change compared to previous months. Here’s what I think the shift will and will not look like:

  • WILL result in fewer total offers on competitive homes
  • WILL result in fewer properties selling within the first week
  • WILL result in Buyers negotiating better/more contingencies
  • WILL result in less extreme price escalations
  • Will result in fewer homes listed for sale (likely a 20-30% drop compared to March-May)
  • WILL NOT result in prices falling (prices should stabilize)
  • WILL NOT result in a Buyer’s market

Spring vs Summer, 2016-2019

Let’s take a look at how the Arlington real estate market shifted from spring to summer from 2016-2019 to give some historical perspective. I did not include 2020 because it will always be an outlier that provides little value for historical trends/context. I looked at four data points that I use to measure market conditions:

  1. Percentage of homes that went under contract within one week of being listed
  2. Percentage of homes that sold for at or above the original asking price
  3. Average sold price compared to the original asking price
  4. Number of homes listed for sale

Here is a summary of findings from the charts shared below:

  • Intensity of demand (under contract within a week and homes sold for at or above ask) dropped from the spring to summer season all four years, with the exception of a slight increase in the homes being sold for at or above ask in the summer of 2019 (likely due to a significant drop in supply due to the Amazon HQ2 announcement in November 2018 putting upward pressure on prices all year)
  • The average sold price to original asking price dropped each year except 2019 (remained almost unchanged) suggesting less extreme escalations and more price negotiations
  • The number of homes listed for sale in the summer dropped by about 20-30% each year compared the spring market
VA Market Trends: Arlington vs Fairfax & Loudoun County

Question: How does Arlington’s housing market compare to what you’re seeing in Fairfax County and Loudoun County?

Answer: The Arlington single-family home (SFH) market has been competitive, and prices have increased, but the shift hasn’t been nearly as dramatic as what we’ve seen further west in Fairfax County and Loudoun County.

The Arlington condo market has improved from the end of 2020/early 2021, and prices seem to be coming back, but inventory levels are still much higher than they were in the years preceding the Amazon HQ2 announcement.

Listing Activity Up In Arlington, Normal In Fairfax And Loudoun

The number of SFH listings in Arlington this spring is up noticeably compared to prior years, but the biggest story continues to be the amount of condos being listed for sale. I previously wrote about the historical volume of condo listings we had last fall and that trend has continued through this spring, with the total number of condos listed for sale from March-May significantly higher than any other spring market in the last 10+ years.

The number of SFH listings in Fairfax County and Loudoun County have been consistent with past spring markets, down slightly compared to 2018 and 2019.

Demand Meets Or Exceeds New Supply, Except Condos

Despite higher-than-average listing activity in Arlington, the SFH inventory levels remain very low because there is enough demand to absorb the extra supply. SFH inventory has remained at about one month of supply throughout 2021.

Condo demand has not met the higher-than-average listing activity and condo inventory has steadily increased through the spring, after dropping (and flattening) from 5-year highs this winter. The Arlington condo market has settled at around 2.5 months of supply for the last 6 months, which represents a market that is more favorable to sellers than buyers, but still a significant shift from the post-Amazon HQ2 market with 2-3 weeks of supply for about 18 months.

Demand in Fairfax County and Loudoun County has been exceptionally high and inventory levels remain dangerously low with just 2-3 weeks of supply for nearly the last 8 months.

Prices Are Up (Of Course)

Prices for SFHs in Arlington are up, with the median price of a SFH in Arlington exceeding $1.2M for the first time ever in May. While the prices in Arlington are up noticeably, it’s nothing compared to the massive appreciation seen in Fairfax County and Loudoun County over the last four months where we’ve seen up to 15-20% year-over-year increases in prices throughout both markets.

Condo prices have increased from late 2020/early 2021 and seem to be settling in a bit below pre-pandemic numbers. I didn’t include a chart for condo prices because there’s too much variability and it doesn’t provide much value.

Escalations Over Ask Are The Norm, Likely To Change Soon

This spring, the average SFH in all three markets has closed for 3-4.5% over the original asking price. I expect this number to come down over the next few months as asking prices catch up with what the market is willing to pay and the attention/priorities of buyers starts to shift to other things like travel, events, and seeing family and friends.

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

Video summaries of some articles can be found on YouTube on the Ask Eli, Live With Jean playlist.

Best and Worst Months to List a Rental

Question: What time of the year is most and least favorable for putting a property on the market for rent?

Answer: The rental market follows similar seasonal trends as the resale market in that spring tends to be the best time to list a property and the market is slowest during the winter months. For this market analysis, I looked at all rentals in Arlington from 2015-2019 (I kept 2020 out because it’s an anomaly) to determine how the month a property is listed for rent impacts a landlord’s negotiation leverage and the days on market. I split the data into apartment-style properties and detached/townhouse properties to see if there was much variability, but the trends are similar for all property types.

Best Months to List: March – July

Worst Months to List: September – December

The data I looked at to determine the best and worse months are the percentage of the final rental price to the original asking price (indication of how much leverage landlords have), the average days on market, and the percentage of properties rented within two weeks of being listed for rent. These data points provide some of the best indications of how successful you will be renting a property at different times of the year.

While there are clearly certain months of the year that are better/worse to rent, I think it’s also important to note that the gap between the best and worst month(s) is not massive, but it’s enough that landlords should work to put themselves on a spring/early summer leasing cycle and avoid signing leases that expire in the late fall/winter.

If you are a tenant, you can expect the most properties coming to market from May – July and a dramatic reduction in options from October – December.

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

Cost of an Arlington Bedroom

Question: How much more can I expect to pay for a 5BR house compared to a 4BR house?

Answer: The primary criteria for most buyers is the number of bedrooms, so this week we will break down the cost of detached and condo housing in Arlington by bedroom count. The dataset includes all closed sales since Jan 1 2020 except a $45M sale, River Place Coop, and age-restricted housing. Below are some highlights from the data:

  • For detached homes, the biggest price jump is from four bedrooms to five, with an average price increase of 33.1%
  • The best value for a detached home, with the lowest cost per bedroom, is a four-bedroom house
  • Larger homes are much harder to find in South Arlington, with just 58 homes with five or six bedrooms sold since 2020 compared to 353 sold in North Arlington
  • Nobody builds smaller homes anymore. Of the sold homes built within the last 20 years, zero had two bedrooms, three had three bedrooms, and 33 had four bedrooms compared to 141 and 64 with five and six bedrooms, respectively.
  • Smaller, more affordable homes sell faster with ~70% of two-and-three-bedroom detached homes selling after just 1-10 days on market compared to ~40-45% of five-and-six-bedroom detached homes
  • For condos, going from a two-bedroom to a three-bedroom adds 78.1% and is even more expensive in North Arlington, nearly doubling the cost
  • The number of three-bedroom condos sold is <10% of the number of one-bedroom and two-bedroom units sold
  • If you are looking for a three-bedroom condo on a budget, focus on South Arlington, where the average comes in under $550,000 compared to over $1.7M in North Arlington
  • Expect to pay about 20% more for a property (detached or condo) built in the last 20 years

Hopefully this helps those of you currently searching for a home in Arlington or planning a housing search soon!

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

Quarterly Review of Arlington/DC Area Real Estate

Question: How did Q1 compare to other quarters and what does that mean for Q2?

Answer: The housing boom has been front-and-center in the national news cycle for about six months now and Q1 blessed many homeowners and builders with amazing results, while inflicting similar levels of frustration on buyers.

Despite the national, regional, and local craziness the Arlington single-family home (SFH) and townhouse (TH) markets actually didn’t look that different in Q1 2021 compared to the last couple of (post-Amazon HQ2) years so the pandemic-related housing boom hasn’t created nearly the systemic shock here as it has in other local markets like Fairfax County and Loudoun County. Months of Supply (measure of supply and demand) for SFH is down 36% YoY for Q1 in Arlington, but over 50% in Washington DC, Fairfax County, and Loudoun County with Loudoun County SFHs down an incredible 73.9% YoY in Q1.

Arlington Quarterly Market Performance

First, let’s take a look at a breakdown of the Arlington SFH/TH quarterly market performance, with some highlights bulleted below:

  • If you’re buying a SFH/TH that has been on the market for 10 days or less, prepare to pay an average of 2-3% over the asking price. 12% of buyers since 2020 have paid 5% or more over the asking price.
  • Since 2020, about two-thirds of SFH/TH properties go under contract in 1-10 days and only 21% have stayed on market for more than 30 days
  • You can expect price escalations on hot properties to be even further above the asking price in Q2 compared to Q1, based on historical data. The only exception to this was in 2020 because Q3 functioned like Q2 due to a delayed spring market caused by the pandemic.
  • Expect about one-third of 2021’s SFH/TH properties to be listed for sale in Q2, the most of any quarter by a significant margin
  • Among SFH/TH properties that went under contract in 1-10 days in Q1, the average sold price of those homes increased 11.8% over Q1 2020. Last year there was a 5.7% increase in average sold price of hot properties compared to Q1 2019.
Contract Year/QuarterAvg Sold to Org Ask (Properties 1-10 Days On)% 1-10 Days on MarketListing VolumeListing % of Annual Total
2016100.7%38.8%1640100%
Q1100.7%38.9%40525%
Q2101.0%46.6%55534%
Q3100.4%34.0%40224%
Q4100.2%31.3%27817%
2017100.9%41.0%1744100%
Q1101.0%47.1%48728%
Q2101.3%46.1%58733%
Q3100.7%36.5%41524%
Q4100.1%28.4%25515%
2018101.1%43.0%1614100%
Q1101.2%50.4%40025%
Q2101.5%48.1%54934%
Q3100.9%39.4%39024%
Q4100.5%31.3%27517%
2019101.9%56.9%1451100%
Q1101.8%63.4%38927%
Q2102.2%61.0%47833%
Q3101.9%54.6%34624%
Q4101.1%43.8%23816%
2020102.2%59.5%1600100%
Q1102.4%65.4%35622%
Q2101.8%58.1%39925%
Q3102.7%63.9%49331%
Q4101.9%50.0%35222%
2021102.7%60.3% 
Q1102.7%60.3% 

Northern VA and Washington DC Market Performance Comparison

As noted earlier, the pandemic created a much sharper change in the real estate markets outside of Arlington because Arlington had already experienced similar changes due to Amazon’s HQ2 announcement in November 2018. Below are some charts comparing the SFH markets (and one comparing the condo markets) in Washington DC, Arlington, Fairfax County, and Loudoun County, with some highlights bulleted below:

  • In 2018 and most of 2019, Months of Supply for SFH in Washington DC, Fairfax County, and Loudoun County was 2-3x higher than Arlington (indicating a more favorable market for buyers). In Q1 2021, Fairfax County and Loudoun County had about half the Months of Supply as Arlington and Washington DC, clearly a sign of buyer preferences for more space, lower $/SqFt, and de-prioritization of commute time and walkability.
  • The most dramatic pandemic-related market shift for Arlington has been the condo market going from the most favorable market for sellers pre-pandemic to a near tie with Washington DC for least favorable, by a significant margin
  • Fairfax County stands out for the huge drop in active SFH home listings, dropping from an average of nearly 2,000 listings/quarter in 2018 to less than 500 in Q1 2021
  • The data suggests relatively little change in average prices in Q1 2021 in Arlington and Washington DC, but I think this is more about the data composition than a reflection of actual pricing because everything I’ve experienced in the market suggests strong price growth in Q1 2021
  • Median days on market for SFH has been below 10 days in all four markets since the pandemic began

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