The Spring market is hopping, but some recent changes are making it difficult to predict what's around the corner. Here's what's going on in the local real estate world:
Interest Rates Jump: Mortgage rates took a significant jump in the past few weeks. The short story is that optimism about the economy combined with fears about inflation are pushing rates up. But if you want the long story, you can read more about the relationship between the bond markets and MBS markets here.
Foreclosures and short sales continue to be a very active segment. Banks have finally figured out that the trick to selling foreclosures quickly is to price them ridiculously low and get a bidding war going. It's not uncommon to have dozens of offers in during the first few days for entry-level price points ($200-300k). Short sales continue to be a source of frustration for buyers, as noted in this good NPR story.
The area's inventory remains flat (Arlington and DC) to declining (NoVA)--check out the significant decline in Northern Virginia inventory here.
New Appraisal Code Scuttles Deals: The new Home Valuation Code of Conduct was implemented in May, and is wreaking havoc with deals. This Code created intermediaries to manage the appraisal process, and some argue that quality has dropped. Many appraisals are coming in low, opening the door to a secondary round of price negotiations in many transactions.
Monetization of Tax Credit: Of significant note to first time buyers is the emergence of programs that will allow a buyer to "monetize" the $8000 tax credit. VHDA has developed a program to structure a second trust of $8000 with no principal or interest payments due during the first 12 months. Details are still evolving, but it is expected that a buyer could use this $8000 second trust as part of their downpayment.
If you are a first time buyer hoping to take advantage of the $8000 tax credit - start your search NOW! The lack of "good" inventory may make it difficult to find something that fits your needs and your price range. Settlements must occur by November 30 to file for the credit, and with the current volume of lending and refinancing banks are backed up. No doubt this backlog will increase for both lenders and settlement companies as we approach November 30 - plan ahead! Contact me to start your search - I'd love to help you!
And finally, just for fun: For all you Arlingtonians and those who want to be an Arlingtonian -- check out this rap.
As always, please let me know if I can do anything to help you or your friends with your real estate needs.