The Fall Market: Q&A With Brokers

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Lonnie Plaster of Long & Foster, Michael Rankin of TTR-Sotheby's and Bill Moody of Washington Fine Properties.

For this edition of The Georgetowner’s Fall Real Estate Special, we asked real estate brokers a few quick questions to assess the current situation.

In this market, is it best to sell, buy or simply stay put and upgrade your home?

In every market, there are opportunities to sell, buy or stay put; the decision depends upon the needs and motivations of the individual. Overall, our housing market continues to enjoy a low interest rate environment, and while we are still facing inventory shortages in some communities, it’s a great time to be engaged in the market.
—Lonnie Plaster, Senior Vice President and Regional Manager at Long & Foster

There is a good market in any market, and we are seeing opportunities for buyers and sellers alike. The village of Georgetown is one of the strongest markets in the Capital Region, and the year-to-date sales statistics show that it is a very strong and active market. Many of our clients find they are too busy to take on what is like another full-time job in managing a renovation, so they choose to relocate to a home that is “ready to go.”
—William F. X. Moody, co-founder and Executive Vice President at Washington Fine Properties

There are great opportunities to buy, and sellers have a strong buyer pool in Washington, especially Georgetown.
—Michael Rankin, Managing Partner, D.C., Maryland and Virginia, TTR-Sotheby’s International Realty

Pricing the house is key. A few houses on the market — such Kevin Plank’s house, Jeh Johnson’s former house and a historic home on 35th Street — all dropped in price. How are listings priced most appropriately, in your opinion, and are there any influences or market pressures that would contribute to pricing fluctuations?

There are always market influences and pressures that contribute to pricing fluctuations. Setting the right price requires the insights and guidance of a local expert, like those at Long & Foster | Christie’s, to help you evaluate the current market conditions and find that sweet spot. Not only is initial pricing key, but also knowing when to make a price improvement — and that requires intimate knowledge of the local economy and the willingness to strategically stay ahead of any market changes.
—Lonnie Plaster, Senior Vice President and Regional Manager at Long & Foster

Pricing is an art, not a science. The key to success is getting the home priced right from the beginning. It is a thoughtful process and we spend a great deal of time providing our clients in-depth analysis of the market so they are comfortable in choosing just the right asking price — one where they leave no money on the table but are not considered by the community as “overpriced.” Our process includes a study of other home sales in the past year, homes that are currently under contract, and positioning the home strategically to those homes that are currently active on the market. WFP’s pricing tour is a critical part of the process, where agents from our firm provide a suggested list and sell price. This data is graphed and provided to the seller with average and median prices. We believe it is our responsibility to make our sellers experts in the market and provide them with all of this data so they can choose the right price for their home. Some sellers decide to choose a higher price than the data shows to test the market. This often leads to longer market times and price reductions.
—William F. X. Moody, co-founder and Executive Vice President at Washington Fine Properties

There are so many factors that go into pricing, including location, interior renovations and upgrades, as well as lot and garden sizes.
—Michael Rankin, Managing Partner, D.C., Maryland and Virginia, TTR-Sotheby’s International Realty

How does the D.C. economic boom (also considering the “Amazon effect”) affect housing choices? Is inventory low or high in Georgetown?

D.C. and the Capital Region offer a variety of housing choices, but in many of these areas, inventory remains relatively low. We will not see the full impact of Amazon right away, especially because we have been in a full employment environment for quite some time. According to Bright MLS, inventory in Georgetown is down by 16 percent year over year, and months of supply is at 3.8, down by 6 percent year over year. Our median sales price is $1,083,438, which is up 9 percent versus a year ago. The market in Georgetown is strong, but the lack of inventory limits choices for buyers. These conditions are expected to continue, which will likely impact the overall number of sales between now and the New Year.
—Lonnie Plaster, Senior Vice President and Regional Manager at Long & Foster

It is an exciting time in our region, with the Nationals wining the World Series, Amazon coming to our area, a booming stock market and record low interest rates. Consumers’ attitudes are extremely positive and they are actively looking to sell and buy. While there is a good balance between buyers and sellers, we find that condition and price remain key factors. If a house is in excellent condition and priced correctly, it will sell very quickly. There is also a great market with our developer pool looking for homes in need of renovation.
—William F. X. Moody, co-founder and Executive Vice President at Washington Fine Properties

The Amazon effect is a big plus for sellers in Georgetown. We already have a strong buyer pool, and Amazon employees relocating will certainly be interesting in Georgetown.
—Michael Rankin, Managing Partner, D.C., Maryland and Virginia, TTR-Sotheby’s International Realty

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