Local Commentary

Guest Commentary: F.C. Real Estate Market Remains Strong

Potential buyers are circling.

The City of Falls Church remains as popular as ever, if not more so. The most important mantra in real estate is location, location, location. Falls Church has this, plus so much more. Falls Church is a community. It’s an easy sell.

It is a community where neighbors care about each other, where the huge success of the fundraiser for the homeless shelter last Saturday is reflective of all of us. It is a place where fans at a girls’ basketball game are not just the parents. It is a place where the kids start at Mount Daniel, go through Thomas Jefferson, MEHMS and then George Mason. New kids are always welcome and the recreation league enjoys kids from St. James and the other private schools. No matter the school, the kids know each other, the parents know each other, and they care. It is a community where going to the grocery store is a social outing, especially when you look your worst and are in a hurry – but it’s OK.

As the spring market fast approaches, sellers are busily preparing their homes for sale. Some are downsizing, and others are relocating. Downsizing and staying in Falls Church is more of an option now with the huge selection of condominiums. Just on Broad Street we have the Spectrum, the Broadway, the Byron and more. It isn’t much of a geographic move, but it is a distinct change in lifestyle. Imagine no yard work, snow shoveling, little maintenance and being able to go down the elevator to Mad Fox, Panera, the cleaners and more. It is funny what a few blocks can do.

While real estate prices have fallen in other areas of the country, values in Falls Church and the surrounding neighborhoods have remained strong.

While real estate prices have fallen in other areas of the country, values in Falls Church and the surrounding neighborhoods have remained strong. Interest rates, which have recently crept up a bit, remain low. While buyers in our market don’t sit on the fence when deciding on a house, sellers shouldn’t either. Naturally, sellers want the highest price they can get for their house, but it is important to remember that the cost of a house is made up of the price and the interest rate the buyer will end up paying. As interest rates creep up, affordability goes down. It is predicted that while rates are historically low – thus giving buyers much more bang for their buck than in the past, they are stepping up. If you want the highest price, move quickly before rising interest rates diminish the pool of potential buyers.

Right now, more than 90 percent of potential buyers search on the internet for homes before calling a realtor. Some look daily – some hourly. Unfortunately, many of the websites prospective buyers use to search are inaccurate. They place low values on homes, provide outdated information on the status of a home, and often give incorrect school and community information. I have heard many frustrated buyers ask about homes that were sold months ago that they found that day on a website.
The official site for real estate agents is the Metropolitan Regional Information Systems (MRIS). This is the site that we enter all the information onto when we are putting a house on the market, under contract, or showing its status as sold, rented, etc. It is the official site for real estate transactions. If inaccurate information is included, realtors can be fined.  While non-agents don’t have direct access to this site, they do have access to homesdatabase.com, which is directly linked to the MRIS. It is the most accurate place to begin a search before a buyer calls an agent. Remember, however, that in a market like Falls Church City, the local agents learn of upcoming listings before they reach the market.

Because buyers do begin looking on their own on the internet, it is essential that when marketing a home, your internet presence is first rate.  It must get as much exposure as possible. Excellent photos are a must. It is amazing how many houses that linger on the market do so because they either have no pictures (or worse, lousy pictures) that wouldn’t make anyone want to see the house in person. When your home is on the market, you should be sure to check all websites to make sure the information is accurate and the photos are top quality. Remember, the internet reaches well beyond our own boundaries and, if used correctly, it is an essential and important marketing tool. If used poorly, it can ensure defeat. Make sure your house shows well on the internet!

Your agent should help in every step of the way and know the local market whether you are preparing your home for sale, or searching for your dream home. Being a realtor in Falls Church City and actively involved in the community is a huge asset because while we do have location, location, location, we truly have a community that is number one!

 

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