Hopefully, you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy during these unprecedented times. As previously mentioned, real estate is considered an essential business and as such, we have adapted to new ways of conducting business. Yes, homes are being purchased, sold, and leased – people need shelter. We are lucky as we can help those in need of our services. Due to the different lock down restrictions, many of my friends across the country and around the world cannot help people with their housing needs. The economic impact that redounds from the sale of a home is staggering so from an economic standpoint it is indeed a good thing that we are still able to transact home sales and leases from that perspective as well, and that the market is still robust.
Locally, we are practicing all real estate services albeit on a more limited basis and in a different way. We are doing virtual showings for buyers who do not want to go out to see homes in person. We are conducting virtual open houses and scheduling appointment only showings during the virtual open houses. Settlements are outside or even drive up style – many with no REALTORS present. We are also seeing e-closings with no one present in the same room. We have masks, gloves, and booties during showings and bring disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer. If you are considering buying, selling, or leasing a house, it is still eminently possible and I am willing and able to help and to do so at a level that reflects you comfort level. So let’s discuss how this all works in more detail.
Now, let’s talk numbers. Inventory levels remain low – 34% below this same time last year. We currently have only 2,974 houses for sale in all of Northern Virginia. Contracts written the previous 30 days are down 31% versus the same week last year. Lastly, closings the previous 30 days are down 20% from the same time last year. Now, the good news is sales have gone up each of the last four weeks and when houses do come on the market, they sell quickly, though as always when priced right and they are in the right condition. The average days on the market are more than triple the median days, bearing out that reality. We continue to see multiple contracts in many homes throughout the area as well. We have had many buyers move to the sidelines during the pandemic and some sellers have decided to wait or have pulled their homes off the market until “the coast is clear”. One thing is for certain, we will have a lot of pent up demand for housing when we return to a new normal, and as we have more buyers on the sidelines than sellers. I envision an even more competitive housing market in the future.
The mortgage market in one section is in good shape but in others not so much. Conventional conforming loans are readily available with rates in the low 3’s, which is fantastic. Anything Jumbo is an entirely different matter, as credit and income minimums continue to climb and investors for these loans are elusive. It has never, NEVER in my 31 years in the business been more important to have an elite level agent and top notch service providers like your lender and title company. It’s truly the difference in closing a deal or not.
I’ve been posting regularly and in detail on my web site about these topics and encourage you to check out the blog to keep current.
Be safe, make wise decisions when going out in public so you and your family remain healthy.
It’s a good life.
Quarantine Revelations: What to Look for in Your Next Home
Thanks to stay-at-home orders, future homebuyers will likely have new criteria for what they want in a house.
One thing we’ve learned from being hunkered down at home is that there are certain aspects of our houses that we love, and some that we downright loathe. After spending quality – and quantity – time indoors, folks planning to move in upcoming months will inevitably have an improvised list of must-haves for their new space.
Here are a few spots around the house that may be inadequate in your current home – and need a big upgrade in your next.
A place of gathering
While it’s often the heart of the household, an uninviting living room won’t serve its purpose as a hub of relaxation, conversation and fun (like movie and game nights). The ideal living room may not require more or less space, but rather a layout that encourages gathering, like housing Dad’s favorite recliner or a sectional sofa for everyone to cozy up on.
Access to the outdoors
Whether you’ve been cooped up in an apartment or using the living room as a children’s playroom, having easy access to the outdoors – or a grassy yard to call your own – might be a top priority in your home search. It could be a fenced-in backyard for the dog to roam or a balcony to enjoy morning coffee, but there undoubtably will be a newfound appreciation for the great outdoors. You may see new value in having the option to get fresh air and sunshine without leaving home.
An updated kitchen
After weeks of practice, have you gone from mediocre cook to master chef? With a recent passion for cooking, you may want to search for a kitchen with upgraded appliances or a butcher block island.
As life slowly returns to normal, you likely won’t be stocking up on groceries in bulk quantity. That being said, recent stockpiling may have highlighted a lack of storage space in your current home. Going forward, having ample storage is a priority for whatever life throws your way.
A multi-purpose room
While a home office perhaps seemed unnecessary before, it’s possibly starting to look like a great investment now. The extra work-from-home room could also function as a guest bedroom or even a playroom for kids who need room for creativity.
By: Leah Curtis | RE/MAX Blog
Crispy Cod with Sweet Potato Fries
Serves 4 | Total time 30min
· Nonstick cooking spray
· 3 Tbsp. olive oil
· 1/2 tsp. onion powder
· 1/2 tsp. garlic salt
· 1/2 tsp. black pepper
· 1 lb. sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges
· 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
· 1/2 tsp. dried thyme, crushed
· 1 lb. fresh or frozen cod fillets, about 1 inch thick, cut into serving-size pieces
· Lemon wedges or malt vinegar
· 2 medium sweet potatoes, each peeled, cut into 12 equal wedges
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- Line a 15×10-inch baking pan with foil; lightly coat with cooking spray. In a large bowl combine 1 Tbsp. of oil, onion powder, 1/4 tsp. of garlic salt, and 1/4 tsp. of pepper. Add potato wedges; toss to coat. Arrange in a single layer on half of the prepared baking pan. Bake 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine bread crumbs, thyme, and remaining 1/4 tsp. garlic salt and pepper. Add 2 Tbsp. oil; toss to combine.
- Remove baking pan from oven. Carefully turn potatoes over. Place fish on other half of the hot baking pan. Sprinkle crumb mixture onto fish; return to oven.
- Bake about 10 minutes more or until potatoes are tender and starting to brown and fish flakes easily. Serve with lemon wedges or malt vinegar.
Spring Gardening Checklist for a Gorgeous Landscape Year-Round
Use this time to get a leg up on spring cleaning and home maintenance so when it’s time to sell, you’re ready.
The garden is waking up, and you’re in charge! It’s time to start planting, pruning, and
preparing your flower beds.
Much like a good spring cleaning after a long winter can help freshen up your house, taking a similar approach to your yard will help you get it back in shape for the warmer months. Even after the snow and ice melts, it can be a little overwhelming to tackle all the work that needs to be done for a picture-perfect spring landscape. Use this checklist to help pace yourself as you get your flower beds and shrubs cleaned up. It’s broken down into early, mid-, and late spring so you can plan out your garden clean-up tasks and hit each area of your landscape before summer arrives.
Halfway through the season, you should start seeing your spring landscape take shape as more and more bulbs, perennials, shrubs, and trees start growing again and even blooming. And with most of the clean-up done, you can get started on adding new plants to your garden.
1. Clean bird feeders
Some people like to take down their bird feeders in mid-spring and put them away until fall. If you want to leave them up year-round, now’s a good time to take them down, wash them out, and fill them up with fresh seed or nectar for spring.
2. Make notes as you watch the spring show
Some of your spring bulbs should be starting to flower! Enjoy the blooms, and take note of any empty spots where you want to plant bulbs later in the fall.
3. Plant hardy annuals
For some quick color, plant cool-season annuals like pansies or snapdragons around your yard. They also work well in containers to brighten up your front porch.
4. Add new trees and shrubs
Plant as soon as the ground isn’t frozen anymore. The earlier you can do this, the better, so your trees and shrubs have enough time to grow new roots before temperatures start getting hot.
Once you’re finished planting, add a fresh layer of mulch around all your plants. If you mulch now before weeds have a chance to sprout, you’ll have next-to-no weeding come summer.