Three clients had babies… two girls and one boy.
People don’t often think about the life events Realtors are a part of every year. We step into roles where lives are in the process of changing.
Living is more than lifestyle
Here are a few notables from 2016…
2016 kicked off helping sisters and a brother sell their childhood home 30 years after Mom’s passing. The dilapidated old house sat on a half acre lot on one of Vienna’s prettiest streets.
Then there were married doctors who bought their first house from a custom builder in McLean. After years in medical residencies, in apartments around the country, they settled into a stunning home with their children and trusted dog.
One couple realized their current agent didn’t really know the Vienna real estate market and contacted me for help since their condo was under-contract. They urgently needed a home. After an unsuccessful negotiation, a better home popped up for sale and we put together an offer that day.
They moved in with their daughter will walk to Westbriar Elementary School.
Baby Boomers on the move
Clients who are Baby Boomers are making changes to their lifestyles too.
One Boomer couple sold their luxury townhouse and left Vienna for St. Michaels, Maryland. That’s a charming town across the Chesapeake Bay on the Eastern Shore (a good day trip idea).
Another Boomer couple sold their old Vienna rambler and moved to Hyattsville, Maryland to a fix up a little house in town.
Yet another pair of Boomers sold their townhouse to move into a luxury apartment with a perfect view of Washington D.C. The building is near the Metro, walk-able to restaurants, has underground parking, a front desk for package deliveries, and it has two elevators.
Watch this trend as Boomers downsize to strategically located apartments and give up home ownership for lifestyle flexibility.
And one long time friend was unable to live on her own in Vienna, and moved into her daughter’s new home in Williamsburg. Multi-generational living is becoming more common, and this lifestyle decision to move was welcome by all.
Relocating to Vienna
There are always clients who relocate to Vienna, and this year a wonderful family from Philadelphia arrived. Since they moved during the summer, the proximity to the community’s pool was a great way to meet new neighbors and other first graders.
And the family who relocated from Nashville bought a gorgeous model home that one of Vienna’s best custom builders finished for the annual Custom Builder Showcase of Homes. It’s always fun to work with clients who are excited, have a sharp sense of humor, and hit the market when there were choices to consider.
Location remains a high priority, and one family moved into a Reston apartment while we searched for a good long-term house. Although the kids liked the elevators and urban-like activity of Reston Town Center, moving into a spacious Oak Hill home with a stunning yard was worth the wait.
Real Estate Investors vs. New Apartments
Although I don’t typically handle rental properties, I have helped one client for a dozen years rent out his Reston townhouse. This year was a challenge because the supply of new, luxury apartments absorbed many tenants. Real estate investors in Reston and Vienna should know this oversupply of luxury rentals is going to impact rental rates and vacancy periods.
Mortgage rates are about the same as they were twelve months ago. Yes, they dipped in 2016, but the charts show a valley that is typical for any market.
I refinanced my own home in 2016 to lock in a long-term fixed mortgage under 4%. This refinance ended my Libor based ARM which had been around 3% for a eight years.
Vienna Real Estate in 2017
Thoughts going into 2017…
People always ask, “Doug, will the election cause much turnover?”
Most politicians now rent homes rather than buy homes here because housing prices are so high, and their constituents back home will question their residency.
So, they rent.
Political appointees and lobbyists are another story…
The inventory of available homes for sale will remain tight because the population is increasing and supply of new homes is flat. Specifically because there is little to no additional supply being added since most new homes are replacing older homes. One-to-one.
This one-to-one replacement masks one of the hidden problems for the future of the Fairfax County real estate market.
The older homes are being replaced by larger families with school age children. And it is the schools that are feeling the growth pressure of the population.
George C. Marshall High School has essentially doubled in size over the last ten years – from 1,250 to 2,100 students. Similar for Madison High School which is bursting at the seams forcing large class sizes and teacher burn-out.
Economists may look at this surge as a sign the economy is doing well (like traffic jams), but Fairfax County Schools are starting to limp along with frustrated parents looking at under-sized schools for their kids with classroom trailers being the only viable solution.
Revenue from Richmond isn’t going to increase and a meals tax referendum to provide funding to schools was defeated in November. The only solution now is to increase the real estate tax rate.
A study prepared for the meals tax referendum showed that over 200,000 people come in and out of Fairfax County every day. These out-of-towners would have generated over $80 million a year for Fairfax County Public Schools.
So, real estate taxes must go up because the 1896 Dillon Rule gives the County no other choices.
In Doug’s twenty five years living in Vienna, Fairfax County has grown from 700,000 to 1.2 million residents!
The start of Interstate 66’s re-construction will cause headaches for the next few years.
Finally, home sellers who work with Realtors to prepare their homes and then market across the Multiple Listing will get the best exposure and highest price. Understanding how today’s home buyers search for home is critical in this digital world. Side markets using coming soon signs and pocket listings will yield less than ideal results.
The real estate marketplace is more complex, as is the negotiation period and mortgage loan process.
Pricing will remain flat because most gains were made over the previous six years.
I look forward to helping old friends and making new friends in 2017 ~ let’s talk!