Friday, February 24, 2012

Appliance Guide - Ranges

Gas vs electric? Double oven or warming drawer? What are new features? The Washington Post has a handy new online guide for those in the market for a new range or those that are still investigating. Click here to read the whole article and learn more.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Getting organized

Among the major resolutions people undertake in the new year is getting organized. While it may be your kitchen, the tool shed, toy room or your office desk, a little organization doesn't hurt anyone but the hardest part is getting started and having a strategy. If you are still struggling with the first step here are three websites that offer a myriad of tips and how-to's.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Market Update - January 2012

Low inventory remains one of the top stories in the metropolitan D.C. market with 10,095 active listings available in January - the lowest level since 2005. But while the inventory was low, the number of signed contracts outpaced the five-year January average by 22% a positive sign that buyers are in the market and actively looking for homes. Other positive signs include that pricing in the area remained stable with the average sales price increasing 1.4% year over year $396,823 and half of the jurisdictions in the region saw a year-over-year increase in median sales price: Arlington (17.2%), Falls Church (16.6%), Alexandria (2.1%) and Fairfax County (2.1%).


The full report from RBI is included below:    

Contract Activity and Sales
    There were 2,343 homes sold in the D.C. Metro Area in January, down 2.9% from January 2011, but 3.1% higher than the five-year January average. The townhouse market actually saw a year-over-year increase of 1.4% over January 2011, with 642 closed sales. The 1,090 detached properties sold represented a decline of 6.1% from the January 2011 level.
    The 333 foreclosed property sales represented a decrease of 38.3% compared to 540 sales in January 2011 and a decline of 55.1% compared to 742 sales in January 2010. The 370 closed short sales were up 3.4% year-over-year, but accounted for only 15.8% of the sold market share. 7 out of 10 sales (70%) were traditional, not involving foreclosed or short sale properties, down slightly from a 72.8% share last month, but an improvement over January 2011 (62.8% traditional) and significantly higher than January 2010 (only 57.2% traditional).
    Contract activity continues to show positive signs, with 3,802 new contracts signed in January representing a 4.6% year-over-year increase, boding well for the year’s beginning and showing evidence of increasing consumer confidence.

    Inventory level remains low, though some areas see increase in new listing activity vs. January 2011.
    After closing 2011 with the lowest inventory level since August 2005, listing activity resumed normal seasonal patterns with 54.1% more new listings entering the market in January compared to new listings in December (the 10-year average December to January change is +51.3%). But the 4,178 new listings still represent a 4.7% year-over-year decline and the low inventory level remains the key story of the DC Metro Area market. With 10,095 active listings representing a mere 3 months of supply against an annualized rate of 3,328 sales per month, the shortage in supply should continue to put upward pressure on pricing. The inventory level represents a 25.3% decrease compared to the 13,510 active listings at the end of January 2011.
    While new listing activity was down 4.7% region-wide, 5 of the 8 jurisdictions actually saw a year-over-year increase in new listings in January: Falls Church (+100%), Fairfax City (+32%), Arlington (+11.5%), Fairfax County (+6.8%), and Washington, D.C. (1.0%). Prince George’s County saw the largest year-over-year decrease with 938 new listings representing 24.4% fewer new sellers than the 1,240 that entered the market in January 2011.
    The foreclosed market share of active inventory continued to fall, with only 4.9% of active listings under foreclosure representing less than half the 11.1% share in January 2011. Although the 2,278 short sales on the active market are down 27.7% year-over-year, the 22.6% share of the market is only nominally lower than the 23.3% share in January 2011.

    Pricing Remains Stable
    Home prices saw a nominal 1% year-over-year decline, with a median sold price of $310,000 in January compared to $313,000 in January 2011 while the average sold price actually increased 1.4% year-over-year to 396,823. Half of the jurisdictions in the region saw a year-over-year increase in median sales price: Arlington (17.2%), Falls Church (16.6%), Alexandria (2.1%) and Fairfax County (2.1%).
    The median price for detached homes in the region increased 2.9% from January 2011 to $385,898 while the median price for attached townhouse properties was down 3.2 percent to $300,000 and condo/coop prices were down 3.9% to $230,000. Foreclosed listings had a median sold price of $175,000, or 46% of the $375,000 median for traditional property sales. But the traditional median sale price was down 5.1% from January 2011 while the foreclosed median sale price represents a 6.1% increase year-over-year. The $200,000 median sale price for short sales represents a 15.3% year-over-year decrease from the $236,000 level in January 2011.
    The average sold price per square foot for foreclosed properties was $142 while short sales sold for an average of $152 per square foot in January. Comparing these levels with the $289 sold price per square foot average for traditional sales underscores the importance of tracking the bank-mediated composition of the market in the year ahead.


Friday, February 3, 2012

Book Report - The Total Money Makeover

If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else" - Dave Ramsey

If you’ve spent any time with us, you’ll know that we are big fans of Dave Ramsey and his insight on financial matters. The whole team has read his books and attend courses and truly believe in how he is helping people eliminate debt and create a lifestyle that keeps you out of it. In the most recent Pierson Real Estate newsletter we shared the first three steps of Dave’s baby steps program which is found in his best-selling book Total Money Makeover. Below is a recap and the final four steps.  

Step One: Save $1,000 cash as a starter emergency fund
Accidents happen, cars break down and this fund with hopefully sustain and soften the blow when things don’t go your way. 

Step Two: Debt Snowball
This step is the one that most people have heard about when it comes to removing debt and includes four steps:
  1. List all of your consumer (non-mortgage) debts from lowest balance to highest balance.
  2. Pay the minimum payment on all debts except the one with the smallest balance.
  3. Pay everything you can on the smallest debt.
  4. When that debt is gone, do not change the monthly amount used to pay debts, but pay all you can toward the debt with the next-lowest balance.
Some people may say to pay the debt with the highest interest but Ramsey believes that it is about getting little victories and morale boost that follows to correct the issue of spending that got you into trouble in the beginning. 

Step three: Emergency fund (3-6 months)
The first $1,000 is just the beginning. Ramsey suggests three to six months of living expenses and states the best way to complete this is to continue to save the same amount you were paying on non-mortgage debt and place it in a savings account. 

Step Four: Invest 15% of income into retirement
With no credit debt and your only payment being your home, this is where you start to build wealth and Ramsey suggests investing 15% of your income into Roth IRA’s and pre-tax retirement accounts. 

Step Five: Save for college
Whether for you or your children start saving your money for college - an education is possible without loans! There are a variety of options when considering how to save but among the best ways according to Ramsey is Education Savings Accounts (ESA) or 529 plans. 

Step Six: Pay of your mortgage
After figuring out how much you need to save for retirement and for college, now it is time to start paying off your home utilizing any leftover funds. The goal is to create the same sort of momentum that you did during the debt snowball.

Step Seven: Build wealth and give
From leaving an inheritance to for future generations to financially supporting causes dear to you it is now time to give like never before. As Dave says, “ Hoarding money is not the way to wealth. Save for yourself, save for your family’s future, and be gracious enough to bless others. You can do all three at the same time.!”