January Market Update & Newsletter

It’s time for me to make my predictions on the upcoming year in real estate, so here we go! People are always interested in the prices of their homes, in their neighborhoods, and in their cities, so I will start there. Despite a literal roller coaster ride in the real estate market this year, when all is said and done and we look at the end of the year, prices have increased in Northern Virginia year over year by 8%!  Other areas of the country have appreciated up to 22%, which is unhealthy and not sustainable, and leaves them more vulnerable to correction than we are. While a majority of the 8% was attained in the first half of the year when we had a frenetic market, things have stabilized.  With an average sales price of $710,000 in NOVA, who wouldn’t want an extra $56,000+ in net worth?  Some of those other areas have already seen corrections, but despite the sky is falling reporting by the media, even the worst of those are not exceeding 5.8%.

For 2023, I believe we will have, on average region wide, a 2%-3% appreciation rate. Some houses will sell below market value and other will sell for more—people and property conditions are the deciding factors in each situation, but a housing crash is not on the horizon, at least not for this region. People are also interested in rates due to their large function in  buying power. We started the year at an unbelievable rate of 3.22%, and then they rose in historical fashion to 7.5%. Rates have never gone up 100% in one year, much less in 6 months, as they did in 2022. Currently, rates are in the mid-6’s. I believe rates will be in the low to mid 5’s by the second quarter and largely remain there for the rest of the year. The elephant in the room for rates will continue to be inflation and the Fed’s response to it. As I have said here before, inflation is the destroyer of worlds, and must be defeated long term. Based on current pricing trends I’m projecting we are looking at 3 to 5 more rate hikes next year of a modest fashion as the Fed tries to pull off a “soft landing”. There are other things in the works that are impactful, such as how they handle the money supply, but call me if you’d like to have those Econ 301 discussions. Regrettably, reckless Federal spending and this administration’s energy policy and its attendant “cost push” inflation pressures are countervailing forces.

We will continue to dive deeply into inventory levels and trends. They tell us much. We continue to see fewer and fewer homes for sale in Northern Virginia. Inventory of existing home sales is down 55% from 2018, 46% from 2019, 24% from 2020, and even down 8% from last year. There are a few factors to explain why this is the case. People refinanced in 2021 and early 2022 in the low to mid 3% range, and they’re not willing to give up that rate for a much higher rate on what might be a more expensive property, so they aren’t selling. As a result of not putting their property for sale, inventory levels go down—it’s a simple concept, but immutable. If you are considering buying, historically, inventory will pick up as we get into the 3rd week of January and further into the year. The good news is lower inventory levels will also keep prices stable moving forward, and limited supply results in stable to slightly increased prices. Lower inventory means we’ll have fewer sales too! I like to compare 2022 and beyond with pre-pandemic years, as those years were anomalies. Our sales in 2022 were down 8% from 2019 and were down 6.5% from 2018. So even though we have strong demand for   housing, because inventory is down substantially, I believe sales will be down to 7-8% this year. However– if rates get into the low 5’s or high 4’s, we may see an uptick in sales. Finally, there’s been a lot of hype around distressed properties. I’ve commented at length on this   previously but because of prices increases, people will sell before they do a short sale or go to foreclosure to take advantage of the equity they have in their homes. During the previous recession, people had negative equity and as a result, walked away from their houses in huge numbers. Lending guidelines are much more strict now than they were in the early 2000s so people can actually afford their homes today. With equity, low inventory, and buyer demand, people will simply sell versus lose out.

It’s going to be an interesting, and I believe, constantly evolving economy and real estate market. We will have to keep a constant watchful eye on inflationary and recessionary pressures and inventory levels to not only keep up with but anticipate what the market will be doing. As we know, time will tell, and barring any other worldwide issues, this is how I see our market moving forward. A partnership with a capable and informed broker will never be more important to your housing future. If you are considering selling, buying, or investing in real  estate, call me to discuss how all of this impacts you.

Happy New Year and I hope 2023 is your best year ever!

It’s a good life.



Tips to enhance your curb appeal this winter

Read the full article on blog.remax.ca

The grey and lifeless winter landscape can leave your home’s curb appeal… lacking. If you’re selling your home and are hoping to channel your inner Norman Rockwell in a cozy, welcoming scene, take it from the experts: it is a lot simpler than you think! Homeowners who want to give their front yard a facelift or prepare their home to sell during the winter season should be aware that it does not require too much of an investment. From a fresh coat of paint to a modest bird feeder, it is the little things that count, and can add the most charm to your home’s exterior. We have compiled a list of tips from real estate experts on how you can enhance your curb appeal this winter.

Give Your Numbers an Update

How old are the numbers on your house? Whatever state the numbers on your front porch may be, consider investing in some new numbers for an easy, affordable and striking outdoor refresh. Investing in a new mailbox can also instantly upgrade your exterior aesthetic. So, scrap that rusty eyesore and trade it for a sleek, metal letter box that can usually be affixed to the wall with a couple of screws.

Apply a Fresh Coat of Paint to Your Door

Oftentimes, the best way to spruce up any part of your humble abode is with a fresh coat of paint. Your door is usually the first thing that appeals to somebody’s eye. Many homeowners might choose to fully replace their old door with a new one that has a lovely glass insert. But if you are on a tight budget, all you need is some paint and a color that suits your home.

Install a Bird Feeder

What better way to liven up your front yard than by hanging a well-placed and colorful bird feeder to attract some feathered friends? Winter provides us with plenty of gray days, so placing a bird feeder can show some colorful signs of life like blue jays and cardinals.

Add Functional Lighting

Exterior lighting offers a myriad of benefits. The first thing homeowners will point out is the safety aspect of light installations, providing added visibility during the shorter and darker days of winter. Opt for downward soffit lighting to create a warm glow that makes your property look inviting and cozy.

Clear the Snow and Clutter

The snow certainly looks nice after a fresh snowfall, but the longer winter continues without proper up-keep, the more unkempt your home will appear. While it is perfectly alright to let the snow accumulate on your lawn, aim to shovel the front walkway and the driveway to keep paths clear and safe.

Winter Brings New Decorative Opportunities?

Many homeowners typically think about what they can do to add seasonal holiday touches to the interior of their home, but tend to neglect outdoor winter décor, which can create a bold, inviting statement to elevate your curb appeal. Whether a wreath or planter made of cold-hardy perennials, or a faux fur blanket draped over your porch-side Muskoka chair, there are so many ways to bring the beauty of the season to your home’s exterior!


Recipe of the Month

Creamy Chicken & Mushrooms

Total Time: 30 Minutes

Serves: 4


  • 4 5-ounce chicken cutlets
  • 4 cups mixed mushrooms, sliced if large
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley


  • Sprinkle chicken with 1/4 teaspoon each kosher salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the chicken, turning once, until browned and just cooked through, 7 to 10 minutes total. Transfer to a plate.
  • Add 1 tablespoon oil and mushrooms to the pan; cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated, about 4 minutes. Increase heat to high, add wine and cook until it has mostly evaporated, about 4 minutes. Reduce heat to medium; stir in cream, any accumulated juice from the chicken and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and    pepper. Return the chicken to the pan and turn to coat with the sauce. Serve the chicken topped with the sauce and sprinkled with parsley.


8 tasks for your January home-maintenance checklist

By Jeanne Huber | Read the full article on WashingtonPost.com

January is the month for new beginnings. With the holiday rush over and the weather frigid in many parts of the country, it’s a great time to attend to some of the tasks that are easy to put off but oh-so-satisfying once they’re done — such as making or updating an inventory of what’s in your home. You might never need it, but if something goes wrong, having one can save some grief. Read on for more home-maintenance tasks to put on your to-do list for this month.

Schedule a ‘fix-it’ weekend

Set aside one weekend day this month to do minor repairs that take less than a day. Ahead of time, go from room to room and note things such as cracked switch plates, burned-out bulbs, loose screws, missing pads on chair legs and squeaky hinges that need lubrication. Make a list of materials and tools you’ll need, and shop for whatever you don’t have in a single trip. On the appointed day, put the tools and supplies in a tote (the homeowner version of a carpenter’s steps-saving tool belt) and get to work. As you proceed, test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and check off the items from your list.

Get organized

Struggling to find a place for all the holiday gifts your family received? You’re not alone. Home-improvement stores consider January the “storage   season,” which means you can probably find an unusually good selection of plastic bins, closet organizers and the like for great prices. Before you buy, though, get rid of what you no longer need. If you can make outflow equal inflow, you’ll probably have all the storage systems you’ll need. If you decide to buy plastic bins, go for clear ones with straight sides. Tapered sides waste a surprising amount of shelf space. If boxes will go on shelves, get ones sized to make efficient use of shelf depths and widths.

Create/update your home inventory

While you’re paring down and organizing, make a quick inventory of what you have, or update an inventory you might have created in the past. If you ever need to file an insurance claim, having a list of the contents of your home will help you get your claim settled faster — and for the correct amount. Cellphones can simplify the process: Snap pictures or record short, narrated videos explaining what’s on each shelf or in each drawer.

Plan for upcoming projects

If you’re contemplating making major repairs when the weather warms, create a plan, and line up a contractor now. A good contractor should be able to advise you about other planning you need to do. Do you need an architect? Permits from your local building department? A financing plan? Given the unsteady supply chain, ask about lead times for ordering key materials, so your project doesn’t stall midway.

Wipe down kitchen cabinets

After all the holiday cooking, kitchen cabinets can be left quite grimy, especially near knobs and handles. Regular cleaning prevents buildup that can compromise the finish. Skip fancy cleaners. Just mix a few drops of clear hand-dishwashing detergent such as Dawn into a bowl of warm water.  Moisten a clean cloth or sponge, wring it out well and wipe down the cabinet surfaces. (Moist, not wet, is key.) Do not soak the cabinets. If areas around knobs or handles are especially dirty, use a bit more soap. After wiping one cabinet door or drawer, go over it again with a different clean cloth and plain water. Rinse a second time if you used more soap. Buff dry with a clean cloth..

Add lighting

The right light fixture can make all the difference. Although daylight is increasing a bit each day this month, there are still plenty of dark afternoons and evenings to assess whether you have enough indoor lighting. Rooms are most pleasant to be in when there is a mixture of lighting types: overhead (for general lighting), accent (such as floor lamps or sconces to light artwork) and task (such as a lamp on a small table next to a chair, so someone can sit there and read comfortably).

Replace water filters

Let the icy weather outside remind you to get on a schedule for replacing water filters you might have for your kitchen sink or for the ice maker in your refrigerator. Because filters should be replaced every six months, doing it in January means you’ll be on target to do it again in June, just as the summer heat builds. If you’re not sure how to change the filter in your fridge, look at the manual or find it online by searching for your brand and model.

Watch the snow and ice

If you live where it snows, go out after the next storm to check whether there are places on the roof where the snow is melting especially quickly, which is a sign that insulation is thin or missing. Sometimes these point to huge air gaps, such as spaces above upper cabinets that the builders left open to the attic. Sealing these gaps will make your house less drafty and will save on heating bills.