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Spencer Marker


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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!

Front Lines-Centreville, Virginia

by Spencer Marker

Well, the last 3 months saw the market slow down in both the townhome sector and the single family home sector.  Single family home sales declined for the 7th straight month with only 20 coming under contract in Sept., 36 in July and 35 in August.  That is 91 sales in the two months, down slightly from 94 in the same three months last year. That is a glimmer of good news but the better news is that inventory has dropped to its lowest level since February, with only 96 single family homes currently active.  With 96 active listings and 20 sales, that gives us an absorption rate of just about 130 days which is not good.  

The average Days on Market for a single family home also increased to 69 in July and 49 in  August which are the highest numbers since January, then dropped in September to 31.  Last year, there were 373  single family homes sold in Centreville in all of 2016.  This was an increase of almost 10% over all except 1 of the last 9 years.  Currently there are 314 that have settled or are under contract.  If we sell 60 homes over the next 3 months like we did last year, then this will be the highest year yet, even though it is only by one sale. The townhome sector is faring a little better but it is still off as well.  The number of townhomes to go under contract dropped to the lowest numbers since February, with 54 sales in July, 56 in August and only 43 in September.  That is 153 sales over the three months, down slightly from the 188 of last year in the same time frame. The bad news is that townhome inventory has increased from 66 in July, 64 in August to 89 in September.  That is the highest level since October of 2015!  

 July, August & September were also the first months in the year that the number sold was not greater than the number that are currently active, meaning that the absorption rate is greater than 30 days.  (July 54 sales and 66 active, August 56 sales and 64 active, September 43 sales and 89 active) So we have gone from turning inventory over in 2-3 weeks to just over two months. 

Not good and hopefully not a long term trend!  Year to date, there have been 546 townhomes that have gone under contract and last year we closed the year with 717, so there is a delta of 171 sales.  In the last months of last year there were 154 townhomes sold, so even if we keep that pace, we will not beat last year’s total! We fell off pace in September so let’s hope that we make that back up in October.  It has been an interesting year so far and I am looking forward to seeing how the last 3 months will pan out. I will, as usual, keep you informed.   

Out on a Limb

by Spencer Marker

I look for the number of sales in May to stay steady and the trends of March and April should continue, especially in the townhome sector.  The townhome portion of our market is influenced by the number of new buyers entering the market and I do not see that changing.  Inventory is lower and I do not see an influx of that on the horizon either.  So I think the townhome sector will see continued strength and strong pricing.  The single-family sector is influenced more by the number of active listings and the total number of sales is remarkably consistent year after year.  While it is possible that the number of sales will shrink in May due to the fact that we have “robbed Peter to pay Paul” (in other words had mays sales come early in March and April) I do not think that will be the case.  For sellers it may not fell as strong as March & even April market due to the inventory but I look for the number of sales to remain consistent.  I do think you will see pricing drop as sellers that have not sold realize spring is ending and the summer market is approaching.  There may be 50 sales but if there are 109 active listings, that means that there are 59 that did not sell!  In breaking down the numbers for the single family homes you can see that 42 of the 50 homes sold in April were priced under the $700K mark yet 55 of the 109 active listings are priced OVER the $700K mark!  Below $700K is active and busy it is the higher end that is slow and that is where you will see the changes.  With 8 sales and 55 available that gives us an absorption rate of almost 7 months. That means that if no other listings come on the market it will take us at current contract levels 7 months to sell just the existing inventory!  The more motivated of those sellers will adjust their pricing to try and be one of the ones that sell and that is how the pricing will move.  It will be interesting and as our market continues to unfold, I will, as usual, keep you informed.

Front Lines-May 2016

by Spencer Marker

April, as expected, was a pretty good month for real estate here in Centreville.  First-time buyers continued to get into the market and the townhome sector reflected that.  There were 82 townhomes that came under contract in April, matching exactly the number that came under contract in March and greater than the 76 that came under contract in April of 2015.   The total number of active townhome listings increased slightly to 55 from 52 in March.  Still well below the 67 that were active in April of 2015.  The average Days on Market for a townhome in Centreville was 15 for the month of April.  So with 88 sold and 55 currently available, the absorption rate for townhomes is just a little more than two weeks. That is a great number!  The single-family sector did OK but not as well as the townhome market.  50 single family homes came under contract in April down slightly from 51 in March and noticeably less than the 59 in April of 2015.  The good news is that inventory increased just a tad from 106 in March to 109 in April.  That is just one less than the 110 available in April of 2015.  Days on Market stands at 36 for the month of April for single family home sales.  So inventory was stable in April which is good but sales were down a tad over 15% month over month.  All that being said though the numbers are up year to date!  So far in 2016 there have been 241 townhomes that have come under contract up from 227 in 2015 and 148 single family homes that have sold vs. 130 in 2015.  Considering that our numbers were up for all of last year as well. I see this as pretty positive news!  Let’s hope this trend continues.  As our market continues to unfold, I will as usual keep you informed.

Happy New Year!

by Spencer Marker

Happy New Year!!!!!

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 105