Caveat Emptor – Let The Buyer Beware!

Question: What responsibility does a seller have to disclosure problems with their home?

Answer: Sellers cannot lie about or conceal material defects of their home, but in Virginia, property owners are under no responsibility to disclose them to a buyer. That’s because Virginia is one of the few states in the US still operating under the common law concept of Caveat Emptor, meaning “Let The Buyer Beware.” This places the duty of discovery (of defects) on the homebuyer. Per Bankrate.com, the other states include Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, North Dakota, and Wyoming.

Residential Property Disclosure

The Residential Property Disclosure is required in most transactions except for sales between relatives, foreclosures, builders, and a handful of other scenarios. The Disclosure, signed by the seller and buyer, states that the homeowner(s) makes no representations or warranties with respect to things like:

  • Property Condition
  • Sexual Offenders
  • Adjacent Parcels
  • Wastewater Systems
  • Historic Districts

Alternatively, jurisdictions like Washington DC and Maryland require extensive disclosures by homeowners. The DC Disclosure runs 4+ pages long and requires owners to make representations on every material aspect of the property and community including roof, insulation, heating/cooling, appliances, drainage, zoning, and more.

Realtors Held To A Higher Standard

While Virginia homeowners aren’t required to disclose defects, the Realtor Code of Ethics holds us to a higher standard. A listing agent who is a Realtor “shall disclose to prospective buyers/tenants (customers) all material adverse facts pertaining to the physical condition of the property which are actually known by the licensee.”

While listing agents don’t have a duty to discover latent defects, they are required to communicate anything they’re made aware of through the standard course of the transaction be it discussions with the seller, inspection of the property, or otherwise.

Should Virginia Change?

Personally, I’d like to see Virginia make changes to the seller disclosure laws to balance the scales a bit. One could make a case that increasing disclosure requirements would reduce buyer risk, thereby making Virginia homes more valuable and pushing home values up across the board (sellers would still have the ability to offer “As-Is”). It would be particularly valuable in a market like we’ve had the last few years where due diligence periods are shortened or waived completely.

As a counterpoint, buyers in jurisdictions with heavy disclosure requirements can rely too much on what the seller says/does not say and fall victim to a seller simply not being aware of a defect that a buyer could have discovered through due diligence.

What do you think? Are you happy with the current system or would you like to see Virginia get rid of Caveat Emptor and place more duty on the seller to disclose material defects? 

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.

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

The Effect of Boeing’s Headquarters on Arlington Real Estate

Question: What effect will the recently announced move of Boeing’s Headquarters to Arlington have on our real estate market?

Answer: I got this question from quite a few people over the past week, but it wasn’t until my Mom asked that I decided it needed to be this week’s topic!

The news itself, Arlington becomes Boeing’s Global Headquarters, seemed to be another massive shock to our real estate market just a few years after Amazon’s HQ2 announcement sent demand through the roof. Fortunately or unfortunately (depending on whether you’re on the buying or selling side), that is not the case and it’s unlikely to have a material effect on the housing market in the near or mid-term.

For now, Boeing is not planning much of a change in their workforce in Arlington or Chicago, where they’re currently headquarter. The CEO and CFO offices will move to Arlington, but that seems to be the extent of the immediate workforce changes planned.

It’s possible that in some one-off scenarios, this news will give more confidence in our local housing market to some buyers and investors and result in a willingness to make a better offer or an offer they otherwise may not have. However, it’s unlikely these cases will cause any sort of noticeable trend in an already thriving real estate market.

I do expect a longer-term positive effect (4-5+ years out) on the Arlington real estate market for a few reasons:

  1. It’s probably a safe bet to assume that future workforce growth, office expansion, and community investment will focus in Arlington
  2. As with Amazon, smaller companies and start-ups in the Boeing orbit will be more likely to carve out space in and around Arlington
  3. Hosting powerful and diverse corporate name brands like Boeing, Amazon, and Nestle significantly increases the likelihood of Arlington (and surrounding markets like Tysons and Reston) landing at the top of the list for other Fortune 500/1000 companies to relocate their headquarters here. In my opinion, this is the most important effect of Boeing’s Global HQ announcement.

As we grapple with some difficult and unique market forces – supply/demand disconnect, surging interest rates, soaring inflation, plummeting stock-market, and signs of a potential recession – news like Boeing’s choice to move its Global HQ to Arlington is an important reminder of the long-term strength of our housing market and its resilience in the face of economic headwinds.

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.

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

Condos Must Be Aware of New Fannie Mae Guidelines

Question: Can you summarize the important details of Fannie Mae’s new condo loan deferred maintenance requirements?

Answer: In response to the collapse of the condo building in Surfside, FL last year, Fannie Mae issued new “temporary” lending requirements, effective Jan 1 2022, for Condos and Co-ops to protect against future deferred maintenance issues and, hopefully, incentivize Associations to address issues faster.

I will highlight some of the key changes below, but I advise Condo and Co-op Boards/Management to review the policy changes in detail to ensure properties in your communities remain warrantable (banks will lend using traditional mortgage products), otherwise you’ll risk a significant drop in property values by limiting your buyer pool to cash buyers or those who qualify for alternative lending products (non-Fannie).

Significant Deferred Maintenance and Unsafe Conditions

This is the strictest of the new requirements, but also leaves a lot of grey area and subjective decision-making by each bank’s underwriter(s). The Fannie Mae language states:

“Loans secured by units in condo and co-op projects with significant deferred maintenance or in projects that have received a directive from a regulatory authority or inspection agency to make repairs due to unsafe conditions are not eligible for purchase. These projects will remain ineligible until the required repairs have been made and documented. Acceptable documentation may include a satisfactory engineering or inspection report, certificate of occupancy, or other substantially similar documentation that shows the repairs have been completed in a manner that resolves the building’s safety, soundness, structural integrity, or habitability concerns.

Significant deferred maintenance includes deficiencies that meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • full or partial evacuation of the building to complete repairs is required for more than seven days or an unknown period of time
  • the project has deficiencies, defects, substantial damage, or deferred maintenance that
    • is severe enough to affect the safety, soundness, structural integrity, or habitability of the improvements;
    • the improvements need substantial repairs and rehabilitation, including many major components; or
    • impedes the safe and sound functioning of one or more of the building’s major structural or mechanical elements, including but not limited to the foundation, roof, load bearing structures, electrical system, HVAC, or plumbing.

…These policies do not apply to routine maintenance or repairs that a homeowners’ association (HOA) undertakes to maintain or preserve the integrity and condition of its property. Also, if damage or deferred maintenance is isolated to one or a few units does not affect the overall safety, soundness, structural integrity, or habitability of the improvements then these project eligibility requirements do not apply. Examples of this scenario include water damage to a unit due to a leaky pipe that is isolated or damage from a small fire impacting the interior of a specific unit…”

It’s possible a Fannie Mae loan can be approved on one unit and denied on another. The grey area comes from 1) how the Association responds to the questionnaire sent by the lender and 2) how each lender’s underwriter(s) determine what qualifies as significant/substantial deficiencies. It’s possible that the interpretation of a question, and thus the way that question is answer, can change based on who from the Management company is responding. The same difference an interpretation of a response and support information can occur between underwriters at different banks.

Special Assessments

Associations should be much more careful when choosing to issue a special assessment (as opposed to borrowing or increasing condo dues) because of the extra scrutiny that now applies for loans and possibility that issuing a special assessment may cause properties in the building to be unwarrantable. The Fannie Mae language states:

“Any current or planned special assessment, even if paid in full for the subject unit, must be reviewed to determine acceptability… The lender is expected to obtain the financial documents necessary to confirm the association has the ability to fund any repairs. If the special assessment is related to safety, soundness, structural integrity, or habitability, all related repairs must be fully completed or the project is not eligible. Additionally, If the lender or appraiser is unable to determine that there is no adverse impact, the project is ineligible.”

Reserve Requirements

Associations are now at risk for loans not being approved if they are not allocating 10% or more of their annual budget towards Reserves. In my opinion, this is the most unreasonable of the new Fannie requirements because it doesn’t take other relevant details into account like whether or not the account is overfunded or the recommendations of the Reserve Study. To issue a blanket requirement for every Association to contribute 10% of their annual budget to Reserves is bad policy.

However, there is some flexibility in this requirement. Borrowers putting 10% or more down can get an exception that will allow them to proceed with the loan. Borrowers with less than a 10% down payment have to go through an expensive and time-consuming exception process.

The full guidance letter from Fannie Mae can be downloaded here.

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

Q1 Single-Family Housing Market Review

Question: How did the single-family housing market perform in the first quarter of 2022?

Answer: At the end of last year, I expected a strong single-family market, but didn’t think the market had this much appreciation left in it. Sure enough, by the 2nd week of January, we were regularly seeing escalations of 10% or more over asking prices (that were set on last year’s prices) and despite headwinds from higher interest rates, the Ukrainian war, and inflation, the single-family housing market maintained the early momentum through the first quarter.

Intense Competition in Every Market Segment

I pulled data for sold single-family homes that were listed for sale after Jan 1 2022, excluding new construction, in Arlington, Fairfax Co, and Alexandria, Falls Church, and Fairfax Cities (Fairfax Co+) and the data is pretty incredible.

  • The average, yes AVERAGE, home in Arlington and Fairfax Co+ sold for 6.3% over the asking price
  • Over 27% of homes sold for 10% or more above the asking price
  • Homes listed for $750k-$1.499M sold for an average of at least 7% over the asking price
  • In Arlington, 85% of homes went under contract within one week on market and 95% were under contract within two weeks
  • It takes getting to an asking price of $2M+ before the average home sells below asking
  • The days of getting sellers to (help) pay for buyer closing costs are long gone, with only 4% of Arlington sales and 6% of Fairfax Co+ including any seller credit
  • The average Arlington home sold for over $1.24M and the average Fairfax Co+ home sold for over $1M

Months of Supply Explains Why

The easiest way to explain why we’re seeing such fierce competition and price appreciation is the Months of Supply (MoS) chart. MoS is a measure of supply and demand, showing how long the current inventory would last, based on the existing pace of sales. Fairfax Co and Arlington had just two and three weeks of supply, respectively, in the first quarter. Six months of supply is what economists say is needed for a well-balanced market.

Without a surge in listing volume, which seems highly unlikely given how difficult and expensive it is for people to find their next home, the only thing that can balance out supply is a significant drop in demand, which there are few signs of to-date.

Significant Year-Over-Year Appreciation

The year-over-year appreciation for homes that closed in the first quarter in Arlington was 7.8% and 13.2% in Fairfax Co.

The gap between the value of homes in Fairfax Co and Arlington is also closing as buyers seek more value. In Q1 2019, Arlington homes sold for 27.3% more than Fairfax Co homes and just three years later, Arlington homes are selling for just 17% more.

New Listing Volume Decreasing

Competition is not being driven just by high demand, but by low listing volume. The number of homes listed for sale in Q1 2022 was well below what we’ve seen in each of the last five years, which was preceded by a slow Q4 2021.

Looking Ahead

Expect demand and competition to continue through the second quarter, despite headwinds, because there’s such a wide gap between supply and demand. Higher rates may push some buyers into lower price points, but they’re likely to be replaced by buyers dropping down from the price point above that. The second quarter tends to be the most competitive and bring about the most appreciation. It will be interesting to see if prices continue to rise from Q1 levels or if they stabilize at these levels through the rest of the year.

The second quarter also brings about the most new listings each year and we can expect that trend to continue, although it will likely remain below the five year average for second quarter inventory, which means we shouldn’t expect to see any “progress” in the supply-demand gap.

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

Q1 Condo Market Review

Question: How is the condo market performing so far in 2022?

Answer: The condo market has looked very different than the single-family/townhouse market since COVID struck. While the latter has exploded, the former struggled initially, but has stabilized and strengthened over the past 12 months. With the first quarter of 2022 behind us, let’s look at the data driving the Arlington and Washington DC condo markets.

Prices Mostly Flat in Arlington and DC

I generally find that median, instead of average, price changes are more reflective of what most buyers/sellers experience in the market. The median condo price in Arlington is up 8.1% year over year in Q1 2022 and 2.6% in DC. However, you can clearly see that the overall price trend over the last two years is mostly flat in both markets and up slightly from pre-pandemic prices.

Interestingly, the average and median $/SqFt in DC has decreased slightly over the last 12 months, but increased slightly in Arlington over the same period. My best guess is that it’s a reflection of less demand for smaller downtown condos (smaller homes tends to have higher $/SqFt).

Both Arlington and DC had noticeable increases in average sold prices year over year in Q1 2022, jumping 10.3% and 8.2%, respectively, with similar increases in Q4 2021. My best guess on this trend is that it’s a reflection of some buyers giving up on the single-family/townhouse market and turning to larger, more expensive condos as an alternative.

Months of Supply Finding its Level

Months of Supply, a metric that measures supply and demand (lower numbers reflect a more competitive market, favoring sellers), seems to be leveling off with relatively similar Q4 2021 and Q1 2022 readings in Arlington (~1.25 months) and DC (~2 months) after sharp increases during the first 18 months of the pandemic.

From a housing economics perspective, these readings suggest a strong sellers’ market in which one can expect competition and price appreciation. It will be interesting to see if this plays out in Q2 as more supply comes to market (Q2 brings the most inventory to market) while interest rates rapidly increase.

Sales Noticeably Slower in Arlington and DC

Despite signs of a strong, more competitive market, the overall pace of the market remains relatively slow with average days on market for Arlington and DC hovering just under 40.

Active and New Listing Volume Still High

The number of condos being listed for sale in Q1 2022 was less than a year ago, but still high relative to previous Q1 listing volume in Arlington and DC. This fact makes it impressive that Months of Supply (measures supply and demand) has dropped to strong seller market levels because it shows that, despite an unusually high number of people moving out of condos, there’s significant demand to absorb the new inventory.

Looking forward, I expect that higher interest rates will have a much more immediate and significant impact on condo demand than on single-family and townhouse demand and I think that Q2 condo data will reflect that.

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.

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

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.

Arlington Rental Market Update – Single-Family, Townhouse, and Apartment

Question: Have rental prices in Arlington followed a similar trend as the ownership market?

Answer: The rental market for apartments was hit hard during the pandemic with rental rates dropping roughly 15%-20% in Arlington and the DC Metro, but rents quickly climbed back up last year and seem to be stabilizing.

As you would expect, the pandemic had the opposite effect on the detached and townhouse rental markets, sending those prices up, but at a lower rate than the appreciation we’ve seen in the cost to buy.

Below, I’ve compiled rental data from the MLS in Arlington over the last five years. Note that very few commercial apartment buildings list in the MLS so this data is limited to non-commercially owned rentals (for apartments, that is mostly individually owned condos).

Further, it’s difficult to say what percentage of non-commercially owned properties go through the MLS for rent but I would guess that it’s less than half of rented apartments, but likely a majority if detached and townhouse properties. Despite the limited data set, we still have more than enough information available through the MLS to generate outputs that represent the true rental market.

Here are some highlights from the data table:

  • The total number of rentals that came to market in 2021 increased sharply over previous years with 48.8% more apartment rentals and 24.9% more detached/townhouse rentals, compared to the averages over the previous four years.
  • The increase in rent for 3-4 bedroom and 5+ bedroom single-family homes from 2019-2021 was 6% and 12.7%, respectively
  • In 2021, the average tenant for a single-family or townhouse paid at or over the asking price
  • Rental prices for 3-4 bedroom townhouses is nearly identical to those of 3-4 bedroom detached homes
  •  The average rent for a one-bedroom and two-bedroom condo is down from 2019 highs by 5.7% and 3.2%, respectively

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

Market Values 14% Higher Than County Assessments

Question: How close are the County’s tax assessments to actual market values?

Answer: Last week, Arlington announced that the next round of annual tax reassessments would increase the total residential assessment by 5.8% (this is overall, changes to individual home/land values will vary significantly). This change is meant to align with the increase in market values of Arlington homes, but assessed values remain well below actual market values for most homes. In fact, 88.6% of homes sold in 2021 sold for above their most recent tax assessment value.

Homes in Arlington that sold in 2021 sold for an average of 14% (median 12.3%) above their most recent tax assessment. Last year, that difference came to an average of 18.2% and in 2019 it was 14.2%.

Homeowners in the 22205 zip code benefit the most by underassessments with an average difference between 2021 sold prices and their assessments of 20.9%, or nearly $181,000. Owners of single-family homes and townhouses (17.6% average difference) benefit more from underassessments than condo owners (9.5% average difference).

If County assessments were representative of actual market values, the average Arlington homeowner would pay over $1,000 more per year in property taxes. So don’t forget to send the Department of Real Estate Assessments a thank you card!

If you believe that the County’s assessment of your home’s value is too high, you have the right to appeal the assessed value, but that must be done by March 1.

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.