Spring has sprung. The grass is riz. I wonder where the houses is.
There are certainly not many available in D.C. No matter what price range you’re in, there is a dearth of detached homes and rowhouses on the market. If you’re planning on buying a condo, however, you have lots of choices.
Georgetown has a whopping 22 homes for sale but only one of them is priced at less than $1 million and it’s predominantly a commercial building. Capitol Hill is a little more affordable, with a small home (1,062 SF) listed at $750,000 and three to choose from for under $1 million.
If you travel north to Silver Spring, the market is still booming, but the prices vary from the $400s to the mid-$600s for a starter home. Recently, one such home there garnered 88 offers. While the situation was extraordinary, it was made even more so because 76 of the offers were all cash.
In the city of Alexandria, there are 21 available homes priced below $1 million. There were 26 just 10 minutes ago when I started my research. Of those, the median list price is $725,000. Seems like a bargain.
Over in Upper Marlboro you have a whopping two houses to choose from, or a total of four if you can pay up to $1.6 million. The most expensive one has 6 bedrooms, 6+ baths, more than 8,600 SF on 5.3 acres of land. Move that house to D.C. and you can have a slightly larger family compound in Berkeley with less than one acre of land for a mere $7,750,000.
There are people out there with sacks full of cash bidding against first-time buyers who are stretching their funds to buy not their dream house, but any house. People are throwing caution and contingencies to the proverbial wind again (refer back to 2004).
As a result, we are beginning to see some buyer’s remorse come back and slap us in the face. People who have gotten caught up in the craziness will sometimes change their minds, and while there is no automatic termination clause in the contract if you have waived all contingencies, buyers can ask their agents to negotiate an exit strategy with the seller.
So, what are you to do when you want to move but have nowhere to go? Your options are limited.
First, you can stay put and renovate your home to make it suit you better. This has been a great option for COVID cave dwellers who have turned spare rooms into home offices and renovated kitchens to support bread making addictions.
Second, you can cash out during this lucrative seller’s market. This is a particularly good option for those who have a pending transfer to another state. Even if there’s a seller’s market elsewhere, choosing to spend twice the price for a home there generally won’t come close to paying our median price of $675,000 (per Washington Post) in D.C.
For example, let’s all move to West Virginia, where the median price for a house is roughly $113,000 (per Zillow).
This offers a bonus of being able to choose to run for office and infuse more blue into Joe Manchin’s state.
Or we could try Mitch McConnell’s and Rand Paul’s state of Kentucky, where you can buy a house at a median price of a little more than $158,000. You can settle in Bowling Green, the site of the Bowling Green massacre, as Kellyanne Conway once reminded us. At least it’s a college town.
Third, you can keep trying to get a contract, asking your agent to hang in there as they write offer after offer without a positive result. Most of us drink in the evenings anyway, so what’s one more disappointment? Answer: to certain buyers, every disappointment can feel like a personal rejection. On the other hand, some of them can simply get back on the housing horse and ride on to the next one. Temperament and patience are key.
For those who give up, assuming that a buyer’s market may surface soon, I remind you that housing costs have risen 16.6% during the past year and the mortgage issues that plagued 2005 are not present this time.
Anyone who has the time and the finances to do it is better off buying the replacement house first, then quickly selling their existing house. Otherwise, you may have to pitch a tent in my back yard. My pooper scooper company comes every other Tuesday.
Valerie M. Blake is a licensed Associate Broker in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia with RLAH Real Estate. Call or text her at 202-246-8602, email her via DCHomeQuest.com, or follow her on Facebook at TheRealst8ofAffairs.