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Spencer Marker


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Out on a Limb

by Spencer Marker

Typically around now, we see inventory catch up with demand.  Not sure that will happen this year, as single family home inventory is down from the last couple of years and demand has actually been higher.  I do not see the townhome market slowing down either.  Townhome sales are fueled by new buyers entering the market and that is showing no signs of letting up.  Single family home sales ebb and flow according to the amount of inventory that comes on, as opposed to the number of buyers.  Inventory is low compared to the last couple of years, yet demand has stayed strong.  So in each category, I look to see June actually wind up stronger than it was last year.  I think that as buyers will keep coming in the market at the same pace and I do not see a surge of inventory coming.  I think June will be a strong month and I think there will be increased activity in the upper levels as buyers are faced with the decision of moving up in price, or go further out when they can’t find inventory where they want.   It will be interesting and as the market continues to unfold, I will, as usual, keep you informed.


Front Lines

by Spencer Marker

April was a pretty good month,  as was May, although that really depended on what type of home you were selling or buying and where that home is located.  Townhome sales continued their frenzied pace where multiple offers and escalation clauses are the rule rather than the exception for the best ones. 78 townhomes came under contract in Centreville in April and 73 in May.  Down by just 2 from May of 2016 and 4 from April of 2016. There are, however, only 40 active townhome listings, up from 37 in March but well below the 61 from May of 2016. The average Days on market for townhomes that came under contract in May is only 15.  Single Family homes are doing well, with 53 coming under contract in April, up from 48 in March, and up from 50 in April of 2016. That dropped to only 38 in May, which was identical to May of 2016.   There are currently 91 single family homes active on the market in Centreville, up from 79 in April, but less than the 108 listed in May of 2016.   However, if you break the single family home sales down, you will see that 39 of the 91 homes that are available are priced less than $700,000 and 52 are price above $700,000.  32 of the 38 homes coming under contract in April were homes priced under $700,000, while only 6 were priced over $700,000!  So, the higher price ranges are not doing as well as the lower ones.  Overall, in looking at Centreville numbers, the median sales price increased to $389,900 this April, up from $353,000 in April of 2016.  The total number of active is 153, down 32% from the 225 in April of 2016. The average Days on Market decreased 53% from 30 in April 2016 to 14 this April.  Lastly, there is currently a 1.2 months’ supply of active inventory in Centreville, down 36% from 1.8 a year ago.  As our market continues to unfold, I will, as usual, keep you informed. 


out on a Limb

by Spencer Marker

March surprised us a bit, as activity leveled off a little from the pace earlier in the year.  Might have been the weather, might be a wavering of consumer confidence with the hiring freeze or it might just be that it paused briefly, we will just have to see.  The warmer weather in April should get people back out and I expect to see both the number of sales and the amount of active inventory increase. The 1st time buyer properties have been in high demand and I think it has finally sunk in that if you keep waiting, your purchase power just erodes away.  Multiple offers on good, 1st-time buyer properties are the norm as of this writing.  I look for that to continue, maybe through April, but at some point, inventory will catch up with demand and that pace will slow.  I look for the over $600,000 market to see a bit more activity in April as well, as relocation activity increases.  Inventory will increase if it follows the normal pattern, which I think it will. Rates are slated to rise twice more this year and they are now pretty firmly in the 4’s.  April will be interesting and I will, as usual, keep you informed.   


Front Lines

by Spencer Marker

March was disappointing in my opinion, but overall was pretty much the same as last year.  I just felt that we would see more activity than what we did, but hey, it still was not bad.  The townhome market fared better than single-family homes.  80 townhomes came under contract in March, up from 58 in February, but down by a smidge from 82 in March of 2016.  In the first quarter of 2016, a total of 159 townhomes came under contract, compared to 174 this year.  The good news is that there were 37 townhomes available in March, up from 20 in February, but well below the 52 in March of 2016.  Single family sales are pretty much the same, with 48 homes coming under contract in March, up from 27 in February and just a tad below the 51 for March of 2016.   Year to Date, there have been 93 single family homes that have come under contract, down by over 5% from 98 in the same time frame last year. On the plus side, there were 88 active listings for March which is up, as usual, from 82 in February and well below the 106 for March of last year. While the numbers show an absorption rate for single family homes of over 60 days, the reality is that for homes under that $675K mark, the absorption rate is actually less than 30 days, and homes higher than that, more than 6 months.  Townhomes are pretty much turning over in two weeks or less.  There are a lot of factors that come into play and of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but this gives you a good idea of how the market is moving.  We are happy to give you a more in-depth analysis of your specific home, just give us a call.  As our market continues to unfold,       I will, as usual, keep you informed.


Front Lines

by Spencer Marker

The warmer weather we had in January has gotten people out in the market and the lower pricing points are seeing good activity.  Not so much for the higher priced homes. We started the year with Inventory up, as far as the townhome sector, with 42 active listings in January, up from 27 last January and up from 31 in December.  Then in February, we see inventory drop to 20, down from 31 in February of 2016.   The number of sales remained the same as last year in January, with 36 townhomes coming under contract, but in February it jumped significantly to 58, up from 41 in February of 2016.  Sales of single-family homes jumped by over 10% from 16 sales in January of 2016 to 18 in January of 2017. It gave back though in February, with only 27 sales compared to 31 in 2016.   Single Family inventory is down year over year from 64 in January of 2016 to 57 in 2017. With 82 active in February, we are just a tad below the 84 in February of 2016.  One thing that is interesting to note is that there is an absorption rate of 30 days for single family homes priced under $500,000 and an absorption rate of just over 30 days for single family homes priced between $500,000 & $700,000. There is an18 month absorption rate for homes priced over $700,000!  That is huge!  Now that being said, that reflects some new home activity, although I do try and filter that out.  That does show where the builders are sitting and the impact that they have on the resale market.  Townhome sales reflect an absorption rate of just two weeks or less in all categories.    (These numbers are based upon January-February sales figures.)  Rates are pretty solidly entrenched at over 4% and that has had little effect on the market that I can see.    

Out on a Limb

by Spencer Marker

I usually feel that the market sees a lot of “tire kickers” in January and February.  By that, I mean people getting out there and looking at homes but not making buying decisions, thinking that something better will be coming on the market. I feel that we may very well see higher sales this March than we did last March. Weather plays a huge role in February and the warm weather we had got folks out early. I am seeing lots of competition in the lower pricing points and good activity in general.  I am optimistic enough to bring our inventory into the market early hoping to “get on and get gone” before there is a lot of competition.  I think there is some pent up demand as people held off making buying decisions, in part because of the election and in part because they think better inventory would come on in the spring.  We saw more inventory coming on in February and certainly should see a big bump in March.  As relocating buyers enter our market in March, the sold signs should follow. Then we will see things start rolling as some urgency is created.  As our market continues to unfold, I will, as usual keep you informed.    

The Paralysis of Analysis-What waiting could cost you!

by Spencer Marker


 The article below, I called “The Paralysis of Analysis” was originally prepared by me in 2014.  I came across that on my desk top and thought it was especially appropriate for this year again.  The information is the same but let me give you updated numbers to work with.  The average LIST price for a townhome in 2015 was 340,587 and in 2016 it was 351,375.  Year over year that was a 10,788 difference and a difference of 44,141 since when this article was first written!  The townhome market reached its bottom in 2009 and has seen appreciation EVERY year since then.  It is still not back to the high of 2005 so there is still plenty of room and this time the market is built on solid foundation and not on creative and liberal financing.  Rates have now gone up and I think it is pretty safe to say they are going to again this year.  If you have been sitting on the fence and scared to buy you are costing yourself money and more importantly your purchase power is being eroded greatly.  That is just my opinion of course but look at the numbers for yourself and see if you do not agree.  If you do then give us a call and come on in and let's talk about how to proceed.  We can educate you in the process and give you a level of confidence in your knowledge on how to make a sound decision.  Visit our website to see this data, as well as a rent vs. buy comparison and other helpful information.   

   What the “Paralysis of Analysis” Cost You over 1 Year!!

  If you started looking to buy your first home in January of 2013 but did not buy for what ever reason here is what it cost you. ( I will use real numbers for Centreville Virginia in this example) The average list price of a townhome for sale in Centreville was $307,234 in January 2013 and that increased to $334,109 by December 2013,  so right off the bat you are down $26, 875.  By that I mean the home you could have bought in January will cost you $26,875 more! If you were going to put 20% down that means you will now be required to put down $5,375 more or else switch to a more expensive but lower money down loan such as FHA.   We started the year with rates hovering around 3.75% and now they are a solid 4.5%.  (conventional 30 year fixed). 

 So using simple math a $100,000 mortgage would cost you $45 a month more or a $300,000 mortgage would cost you $135 a month more!!  Now you can look at that a couple different ways.  The first way is that if you divide the $135 by the factor of 5.07 (4.5%IR) for each $1000 of loan, you will have lost $29,220 of purchase power!  So if your budget allowed you to spend X number of dollars a month on mortgage and you were looking at a $300,000 mortgage then you can now only purchase a home that is $29,222 less than what you looked at in January or in this case $270,778!  Since that home is now priced $334,109 you will be precluded from buying anything anywhere near what you were looking at a year ago unless you pay a substantial amount more a month or over the life of the loan. 

 The other way to look at it, assuming you can come up with the additional cash to put down and assuming the newer more stringent lending regulations allow you to keep the same loan is to say that it will just cost you another $135 a month. In other words $1620 a year or over 30 years, the life of the loan, another $48,600.  BUT you still have to factor in the additional cost of the $26, 875 which is an additional $135.87 a month (26.8 x 5.07, 4.5% rate factor) so you can virtually double those numbers!!  That is huge!!   Now, this is a simplistic scenario but the numbers are real.  It does not factor in the savings that come from deducting the additional interest but it is a great illustration of the cost of waiting for a first time buyer. 

  If you are a move up buyer we can look at those costs as well because you may be thinking that what you lose on one hand you make up on your own home going up in value.  So, for this example, let’s say you own a townhome at the average list value of $307, 234 in January that is now worth $334,109.  You gained 8.75% or $26,875 in appreciation for the year.  The single family homes for sale in January that you were looking at were priced at 600,000 and they increased by 6.4% over the year and now are selling for $638,400 or $38,400 higher.   In other words even though you increased at a higher percentage the more expensive home went up more in value so it will now cost you 11,525 more.  You lost $11,525 worth of ground.   That will cost you about $58.30 a month additional if you finance that difference at todays rate.

 In addition, you will have to look at the difference the interest rate makes.  Lets say you were going to put down 20% on a 600,000 sale price so your loan amount would be $480,000.  That comes to a PI of $2217 a month. For the sake of argument, lets keep the exact same loan amount changing only the interest rate (we already told you what the cost of the difference in appreciation would be).  At 4.5% interest a $480,000 loan would be $2433 PI a month or $216 a month higher.  Apply the same math from above on the town home buyer and you have lost an additional $42,600 in purchase power PLUS the $11,525 for a total $54,125 of purchase power.  If you chose to just pay the additional cost per month it would translate to increase of $3,291 per year or $98,743 over the 30 year life of the loan.    Big numbers and enough to make a big difference in what you are able to buy in todays market!  

If buying is in your future you need to look long and hard at what the cost of waiting truly is.   The above examples are real life and yes, there are many considerations or options out there, BUT, if you are putting off buying while trying to save additional down payment you are losing ground.  You could get shut out of the market.  If you are fearful that the turn around will not sustain itself then you need to look at the track record since the turnaround in 2009.  We are not back to where we were in 2005 but we are headed there.  The big difference is that the market is building on solid foundation this time not speculation and sales to those that should not have bought in the first place.  We will continue to see rates rise both because the FED will do so and because loan guidelines will dictate it independently of the FED.  We will see loan guidelines continue to constrict making homeownership more difficult while making the market safer.  We will see appreciation as the economy continues to lurch to it’s feet.  If home buying is in your future for one reason or another do not let the paralysis of analysis cause you lose further ground or worse, shut you out of the market.  Give us a call today and we can give you further insight into todays market!


The Math:  Paralysis of Analysis in Buying

AVG List price of a townhome in Centreville in 2012:                       307,234

AVG List Price of a townhome in Centreville in 2013:                       334,109

Difference:                                                                                   26,875

$26,875  Additional cost to buy the same house  a year later

Percent of appreciation:                                                                  8.75%


AVG List Price of a single family home in Centreville 2012: 522.996

AVG List Price of a single family home in Centreville 2013: 556,494

Difference:                                                                                      33,498

Percent of appreciation:                                                                     6.45%


Rate Factor for 4.5% Interest Rate:                                                    5.07

Rate Factor for 3.75% Interest Rate:                                                  4.62



100,000 mortgage at 3.75% equals a PI (Principal & Interest)          362  3.62 per 1000

100,000 mortgage at 4.5% equals a PI (Principal & Interest)            507  5.07 per 1000

Difference                                                                                           45

300,000 mortgage difference equals 45 X 3                                           135


135 / 5.07 = 26.627 X 1000 = 26,627 LOST PURCHASING POWER

 The Math: Paralysis of Analysis in buying and selling

600,000 home on Jan 1, 2013

6.45% (2013 Appreciation Factor for Centreville Single Family Homes) See above

600,000 X 6.45% = 638,700  ( Decembers 2013 Pricing for the same house)

638,700 – 600,000 = 38,700 Lost Purchasing Power

26,875 is the amount a 307,234 town home appreciated in 2013

38,700 – 26,875 = 11,825 NET purchasing power lost to paralysis of analysis

11,825 X 5.07 = 59.95 a month in additional payment or buy 11,825 less house


600,000 – 20% = 480,000 loan amount

480,000 X 462 rate factor =                                                                2217 PI

480,000 X 507 rate factor =                                                                2433 PI

Difference                                                                                           $216 a month

216 / 5.07 =     42,600 lost purchasing power

42,600 + 11,825 =                               $54,425 TOTAL LOST PURCHASING POWER

Out on a Limb

by Spencer Marker

While I was surprised a couple of times last year, they were pleasant surprises and our clients did well again in 2016.  I think 2017 will come out of the gates even stronger this year.  The slowdown we saw in the townhome market in the last 4 months of the year was caused in my opinion by nervousness related to the election. With the election behind us, I see this as pent-up demand that will enter the market early.  Rising interest rates will be a factor and initially will be positive as it finally gets people off of the fence and out of their parent’s basement.  You can visit our website at to see the difference 1% rate makes in your purchase power.  Combine that with the increase in prices and it is substantial.  If you are a first-time buyer or the parent of a first-time buyer, now is the time.  We are happy to sit down and go through the entire process with you and go through our “Homebuyers Bootcamp” with you.  I look for us to make up some of that ground we lost in the last quarter of 2016. I also think that with the election behind us and a new administration coming in, that will further increase consumer confidence just as it does every election cycle.  I see the first 6 months or so of 2017 as beating last year’s numbers. The second half, well that really depends on how the first half goes. Once we see where rates end up, once the stock market settles down and once we see just how the politics really do play out, we will have a better idea.  I do not see it as being worse than last year. The question is… will it be better?  I will, as usual, keep you informed


Front Lines-January 2017

by Spencer Marker

Compared to previous years, 2016 was really uneventful.

It started off strong in the spring, then languished during the summer, and then we had a surprisingly busy fall.  I had expected the election to have a greater impact in both the earlier part of the year and the latter part so it was a pleasant surprise.  Looking at the numbers it was also a surprise. The single-family market was stronger than the townhome market and I expected it to be the exact opposite. Let’s look at the single family sector first. The number of single family homes that came under contract in 2016 increased from 373 to 384.  That is a 10+% difference over what we have been seeing for the past 10 or so years and the highest number of sales in a year since 2005! The average number of days on market was stable with just a 2 day increase to 55 from 53.  

 It was a surprise to see the number of listings coming on the market during the year increase to 533 from 451 in 2015.  This is the highest number of listings coming on the market since we had 602 in 2007.  The average number of listings on the market in any given month was 89, which is high compared to years 2009-2013, but down from 2014 & 2015.  That being said, you need to look at the different price ranges to get some clarity.  There were an average of 15  single family homes on the market in any given month and 12 of them sold on average each month.  There were 28   single family homes priced between $500,000 and $700,000 on the market each month and 16 of them sold. There were an average of 46 active each month priced over $700,000 but only an average of 4.5 sold in any given month.  The higher end was much, much slower than the rest of the market, and when you factor that in the numbers are strong. 

I had hoped to see a stronger townhome market as that is primarily first-time buyers.  I was disappointed to see that the total number of sales in the year came in at 675, down from 717 in 2015.  A 6% drop.  We were on pace to surpass the 717 number for most of the year but sales in Sept-Dec slowed with only 172 townhome sales compared to 227 in 2015.  There was plenty of inventory, which has been a   problem in past years as 688 townhomes were listed in 2016, up from 550 in 2015.  What is impressive is that 688 townhomes were listed in 2016 and 675 of them sold.  Pretty Strong! The really good news, however is that the average LIST PRICE of the townhomes that came under contract rose to $351,375 in 2016, up from $340,587 in 2015.  That is great news!   We made up some of the ground we lost since there was only a $2,394 difference between 2014 and 2015.  The average Days on Market for a townhomes in 2016 was consistent at 33, down from 36 in 2015.

The above are all stats that I compile and are specific to Centreville.  This year I thought I would also include the NVAR stats that they track for the entire Northern Virginia market. Dollar volume of total sales was up 2.16% increasing to $18,851,080,021 in 2016 from $17,757,706,169 in 2015.  The total number of homes sold (includes towns and singles) increased 5.80% from 35,971 in 2015 to 38,058 in 2016.  The average sold price though, only increased .34% going from $493,667 in 2015 to $495,325 in 2016.

All told, it was not bad for an election year!  You can find these stats and more by going to .  We are changing our strategies for the coming year based upon these and other numbers that we study and trends we have identified.  If you are thinking of buying or selling this year you should call us today we can sit down and show you how you can win in today’s market!

Out on a Limb

by Spencer Marker

The slowdown of the last few months is concerning but not unexpected.  I give a lot of the blame for that to the impending election.  As the rhetoric heats up, it especially affects consumer confidence in the metro DC area.  People put off decisions until they have a better idea of what the future holds.  It has been a good year but as we get closer to the election, it becomes easier to delay until after the elections or the beginning of the year. I do not see things changing over the next few months and I think we will see a very typical close to the year.  Typically it slows down once we pass the date school starts. There is some activity as the procrastinators play catch up or buyers take advantage of highly motivated sellers that have lowered their pricing. I see us following the same pattern as usual into the fall. I will go out on a limb and say that both the townhome market and the single family sector will fall short.  The higher end will be where the real pain is felt in the local market.  First time buyers will remain active and possibly see a boost as the FED was pretty convincing in saying that while they did not raise rates this time, they plan to next time.  All told, the next few months will see a lot of changes but once we are past the election.  I expect things to settle back down into business as usual.  Long range, I expect next year to come out of the gates strong and barring any unforeseen event be a strong year for real estate.  I will, as usual, keep you informed!

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