The residential real estate market in Northern Virginia has a seasonal rhythm that includes highs and lows. COVID-19 has upended everything, and some of the most common wisdom about when to sell has changed. We are seeing some exciting opportunities for home sellers, as well as some possible trends that go against business as usual in the area.
August was Hot for Home Sellers
In the rush to find a home before the school year begins, August has traditionally been a hot market. But starting the home selling process in mid-August meant you were late to the game, and most years, you might miss out on the busiest market of the year. However, the Spring market was severely hurt by COVID-19, because sellers didn’t put their homes on the market since they didn’t want strangers coming in to see their house during a pandemic. Also, concerns about safety made buyers reluctant to go out and look at homes to purchase. Those buyers are still in the market, so the demand is high, and the market remains extremely busy.
Fall Temperatures Are Looking Up Too
In the Washington, DC area, a presidential election usually spells a slow-down in the market. But the wave of demand that has continued to rise since the Spring doesn’t look like it’s going to go down. Without enough inventory in the market, and because less houses are coming on, it’s still a seller’s market. If you put your house on the market, even in this election cycle and after the busy August season, there’s going to be a pretty good chance that it sells quickly.
Shelter In Place Has Amplified Demand
The usual motivations to move have been multiplied because people have been cooped up in their home for months. If they didn’t like their home before the pandemic, they hate it today. So, they are even more motivated to find a new home that addresses the failings of their current home. This means that homes with specific amenities related to being stuck at home will be particularly attractive. For a long time, pools were considered a deterrent because of upkeep, but these homes are now sought-after. We also are seeing high demand for private rooms that make it possible to work from home, space for kids to learn and study in peace, better kitchens and large outdoor spaces. Where walkability and smaller lots were big sellers pre-COVID-19, large homes and big lots are now at a premium. There has been an increase in city dwellers, looking for privacy and breathing room, who want the less crowded community in the suburbs.
Trading Up is More Affordable
Demand for larger homes has increased, so if you have a bigger home, now is a very good time to put it on the market. Interest rates are currently at an all-time low, making it easier for buyers to consider a larger home. In addition, with the pandemic, people aren’t spending as much on restaurants, bars, going out, traveling and other expenses they usually have in their budget, so they are considering spending a little bit more on their home and getting something that will fulfill their needs. This has opened up the number of buyers looking at larger homes, making the market even more appealing to a seller right now.
So, Should I Sell?
The answer is: it depends. The pandemic hasn’t gone away, and the concerns of homeowners about having strangers come into their house are valid. However, we’ve learned more about safety precautions, and there are steps that can be taken to protect a home being viewed by the public. Now, if you’re in a position where you’re not going to be able to get out of the house, and you don’t need to sell it right now, then maybe you should hold off until the spring market so that you don’t have to worry about things that are happening in this new COVID-19 world that we’re dealing with. But if you’re relocating, your property’s vacant, or your house is presenting a stress for you financially, then it’s a great time to go ahead and move forward with selling.
What if the Fall Market Cools?
We are advising our clients to list their homes. We suggest that you put the house on the market and try to get the sale right away. If it isn’t selling or the market does slow down like it does traditionally right before a presidential election, you can always take it off the market and then put it back on early spring. Like August, Spring is normally a good time to sell, and we aren’t seeing any indication at the moment that next Spring will be any different.
Casey Margenau of Casey Margenau Fine Homes is one of the top real estate agents in the Northern Virginia. With over 30 years of experience, 3,000 homes sold and $3 billion in sales, Casey has surpassing expertise in the market. His hand-picked team provides concierge realty services and a seamless, stress-free process for the best possible experience selling or buying a home.