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Loudoun’s real estate market at a glance

Home sales throughout the county declined month-over-month in July, but increased year-over-year, according to Real Estate Business Intelligence.

More than 450 homeowners signed on the dotted line last month, a number that fell 17 percent from June’s 546 homes sold, but increased 11 percent year-over-year from July 2010. The number of homes listed on the market (446) followed the same trend – dropping 18 percent month-over-month, but increased 8 percent year-over-year.
Western Loudoun home sales were the star of July. Home sales reached their highest monthly level in four years last month with 67 homes flying off the market, a 12 percent increase compared to June, according to the Metropolitan Regional Information Service.

Purcellville pulled ahead of the other towns west of Leesburg with 39 percent of the total sales in July, which is a 53 percent increase compared to June and an 86 percent increase compared to July 2010, according to Loudoun housing analyst Rosemary deButts. 

Sales usually begin to fizzle out as the end of the year and as winter approaches. Home sales at the tail end of 2010 were squashed by the expiration of the first time home buyers tax credit that ended June 30.

The slowly declining trend in sales may continue this year as sales volume in July 2011 was the second lowest since 2006, according to deButts.  The county is on pace to end 2011 with 5 percent fewer sales than last year. 

Median sales prices, however, were a bright spot in the county’s real estate report last month. During the last four consecutive months, the county’s monthly median sales price has outpaced the median from the corresponding month in 2010. The median was $389,000 in July, 2 percent higher than the July 2010 median of $382,000. 

Although homes sales were up in the west, median sales prices saw a major decline. The median sales price in May and June hovered around $435,000, but in July, that number dropped 23 percent and $100,000 to $335,000, according to deButts.

This reduction in median sales price is due to the number of homes sold in each price range. In July, 51 percent of homes sold were priced between $200,000 - $399,999. Only one home sold at a price exceeding $1 million. In June, 33 percent of homes sold were in the $200,000 - $399,999 price range and three $1 million homes were sold.
Despite a nearly $100,000 decrease in median home sales prices in the matter of one month, the year-to-date median sales price has decreased only $5,000, to $410,000 countywide.

The average close price for a single family home was $523,882 in July. The average close price for an attached home was $308,613 and for a condominium was $175,760.

Distressed sales

When the height of the housing bubble forced many Loudoun homeowners into foreclosure or short sale during the past several years, the home sales and recording company Metropolitan Regional Information Systems started requiring real estate agents to designate whether a sale was distressed or healthy.

In the first quarter of 2009, the first quarter homes were designated, foreclosures and short sales represented 47 percent of Loudoun’s total home sales. That ratio has been cut in half, as only 20 percent of Loudoun’s home sales year-to-date in 2011 have been distressed sales.

Distressed sales dipped in the summer of 2010 to about 27 percent, an active time for real estate sales, but spiked again in January 2011 to nearly 45 percent. Prince William, Manassas and Manassas Park did not fair as well as Loudoun last month, as 35 percent of its sales were distressed sales. Likewise, 57 percent of home sales in Prince George’s County, Md., were foreclosures or short sales last month. Conversely, all other jurisdictions in the metropolitan area had a distressed to healthy sales ratio of less than 20 percent, according to deButts.

Middleburg and Waterford have each had only one distressed sale so far this year, according to deButts.

Round Hill

Round Hill, the small community on the western edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains, has been the quiet, victor community in home sales so far this year. Nearly 10 homes have sold each month this year in the town, which resulted in 69 homes sold – 21 percent of homes sold in western Loudoun, according to deButts. 
So far this year, Round Hill’s median home sales price is $370,000, a decrease of 1 percent from the 2010 median of $373,000, according to deButts. Nearly 51 percent of Round Hill’s 2011 sales have been priced between $200,000 - $399,999 and 25 percent have been priced between $400,000 - $599,999.  Round Hill is home to one of the highest ratios of distressed sales (30 percent) so far this year.

Villages of Purcellville

No homes are currently for sale in the Villages of Purcellville. However, three homes are under contract with an average list price of $318,000. Two of the three contracts are listed as short sales, according to deButts.

Seven homes have sold within the community this year with a sales price ranging from $330,000 - $412,000.


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As someone else pointed rkove, they basically feed off consumers who don’t do their homework.  They buy into the fact that a real estate agent is “looking out” for them and has their interest in mind.  In reality, these people just want to close the deal and make their commission.  They don’t care if their customer overpays.  They aren’t attorneys but sell themselves like they are experts on contracts.  They aren’t home inspectors but claim a real estate agent can help you avoid a lemon.

Assume the commenters here haven’t read the section in Freakonomics about realtors..and why they have little incentive to go the “best possible” price.  Why work so hard for tiny bit more money (sure, you want that extra $10K on the sale price but the agent just gets a few hundred dollars). Wouldn’t you take a lower number for a sure sale?  Realtors feel that way too.

Burndude, good point. And you will never get an honest answer since there isn’t one. They offer the same services no matter what the cost of the house. Perhaps they hold an extra open house(or two) for the million dollar home vs the 100K home, after all, splitting $60K sure beats splitting $6K.

I think “Mary” cut and pasted her comment from the real estate agent website.  Stop yelling “REALTOR”.

The need for a REALTOR is real and necessary. Their expertise, experience and dedication to help ease the stress especially during the challenging transactions this marketplace presents is worth every penny. As someone who has enlisted the help of a REALTOR, I am confident to say that I am not sorry.  Thank you for all that you do

Are Ralph Buona, Scott York, Suzanne Volpe, and Janet Clarke taking hidden funds from the Virginia Housing Development Authority in support of their campaigns?  What is it they are trying to hide?  Why is there a sham PAC that donated $18,000 to their campaigns?  A woman named Mary Covell is the Treasurer of the PAC and there is also a woman named Mary Covell on the Virginia Housing Development Authority.  This is just speculation, but call your candidate and ask them what they are hiding or where this money is coming from.

Wow….I thought just teachers got smacked for making too much money and having too many benefits….apparently verizon workers and realtors are evil too…Realtors provide a service. If you don’t want it, don’t hire them.

does a realtor do more work to sell a 800k house vs a 500k house?  they do get paid more for the 800k house.  can someone explain what they do to earn the bigger payment on the 800k house vs the 500k house?  looking for a rational point of view here, not some silly emotional junk arguments we typically see on LTM boards.

My husband and I didn’t use anyone last time and sold the house for slightly more than our neighbor down the street.  We did what Smart Consumer talked about with research.  We listed on some FSBO friendly sites.  Buyers found us and our house was off the market in 26 days. 

Buying our new house, we also just did research on pricing in the area and determined what a “fair” price was.  The house we bought had a realtor attached to it, so in our offer we wrote that we wouldn’t pay any commission as part of the sale price.  We didn’t want these deals where they take 6% out, but there is no buyer agent, so the seller keeps it all and we weren’t going to pay someone else’s cost of doing business anyway.  I don’t know how that became “standard”, but it is a scam.  We were actually half surprised the offer even made it to the seller, given our hard stance, but they still accepted.

So we essentially “saved” 6% of the selling price, for about $42,000.  The homes in the neighborhood that have sold since ours have gone for around the same price, indicating we had a good idea of what the market would bear.  We have zero regrets about how we did it, and we even used the savings to buy a convertible.

To agree with Alby, if you are dumb enough to sell your home and don’t know what it is worth relative to the market, then you get what you deserve.  I can research recent home sales in my area using the internet.  If the the last 3 homes like mine to sell in my neighborhood went for $550k, why would I accept $500k?  Conversely, why would a buyer pay more than $550k?  How does an agent change that reality?  Unless buyer and seller agent collude to boost the “market price” and their commissions?  Is that how it works?

Does the whole “advantage” of an agent rely on buyer and seller being idiots who have done zero research into the gigantic purchase they are making?  It is starting to sound the way.

I know what my home is worth.  I’ll know what the next home I want to buy is worth after I locate it and research the surrounding area and similar properties.  All I need an agent for on the selling end is to show the place to prospective buyers.  Negotiating the price is still MY job. If I want $550, but will settle for $540 for a quicker sell, that is my business.  The agent doesn’t change that.  So I’ll pay a couple grand flat rate “bounty” to anyone who brings the eventual buyer to my door, and a few to the person who will market and show the home. It is still good money for the few hours of work involved.  An attorney will take care of the contract, and I save close to $20k. 

Face it agents, you don’t have a monopoly on the information for the housing market anymore.  I can go on the Loudoun tax database and see the last sale price for a property.  I can go on “frankly MLS” and see similar listings and sale prices.  A few hours of my time for research is definitely worth keeping $20k, where as its not worth paying someone $20k to do what I can do. 

It’s a changing market place, people are realizing they don’t need an agent to buy or sell and they certainly don’t want to take legal advice or mortgage advice from one after so many people go put into bad loans after the agents and bankers told them “Oh yeah, you can afford more”.

A “really good agent” isn’t going to be able to sell your home for anything more than the going rate in the area. For example, if your home is fairly priced at $500,000, a “really good agent” isn’t going to be able to sell it for $550k or $600k. Sure, they might be able to squeeze an extra $5k or something over market price, but you’ve got to remember the Buyer has their own agent who will be advising them if they are overpaying for a property. Thus negating any Sales Pitch a “really good agent” can muster.

The only time you need a really good agent is when you are selling a special one of a kind home that is likely going for millions of dollars. But the average cookie cutter homes in Loudoun are a dime a dozen. If anybody thinks a Commission Agent will do any better than a Flat Rate agent, they’ve been suckered by their commission agent’s sales pitch.

YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR - GO FOR THE FLAT RATE AND SEE HOW MUCH YOU LOSE ON THE LOWER SALE PRICE!  Most people don’t understand how a really good agent can sell their house for a lot more due to experience and easily make up the difference in the commission.  Go ahead, hire a flat rate agent who doesn’t care what price your house sells for…see what you get.  Oh well, you wouldn’t know the difference anyway.

Give up their weekends?  Most people can’t keep cutting out of their jobs to look at homes between 9-5.  That is when an agent works.  Its part of the gig.  M-F they can probably barely work if they want to. 

The question on commission is exactly what Alby said.  Where I grew up, a 4 bedroom home on .5 acre sells for $250k.  Here it is $600k or more.  Real estate agents back home make the same percentage. They put in the same number of hours as a DC area agent but get less than half as much?

Flat rate is the way to go, and I’d bet you could get someone to do it.

you sound like one.

I am not a real estate agent, but why so much anger towards the commission fees charged by them?

Median price of a home in LOCO in July 2011 was 389,000…so lets round up to 400,000 for simplicity.  I pay total 24 K in commissions. At 6% the agent who sold my house gets 12K, but then that agent works for a broker and pays them half so really the selling agent only gets 6K. Typically these agents are self employed and pay for there own health care and advertising costs.

Given the awful real estate market and an agent only engages in 1 or 2 transactions a month he/she may only make around 100K-150K a year depending on median sales price.

I think we should cut them a break b/c they work hard and deal with people who want to see like 50 homes and 3 months later they finally buy one. They give up their weekends. Do any of you? plus given the income per year above its good but not great.

No doubt, the biggest scam in the Real Estate business are the commissions paid to agents. Why should a seller pay the “buyer’s agent” 3.00% and the Seller’s agent anywhere from 1.50% to 3.00% on the home sale? That is crazy, because its a win fall for the agents as the value of the property sold increased. Its not like they are doing any more work, yet they get thousands more.

On $100,000, 6% in commissions (Buyer 3% / Seller 3%), that is $6,000 total and that seems plenty enough. But if its a $500,000 home, they split $30,000, are you kidding me? What extra work was done on the $100k home vs. the $500k home?

Real Estate Agents need to be blocked from charging commission and they need to be confined to a flat rate.

The only saving grace is to sell your own home (FSBO) and state in the contract the “Buyer” has to cover their real estate agent’s commission costs at closing.

WOW do you mean that for the past 4 years when I heard realtors claim this was the time to buy it was not.

RE commission is ridiculous.  Its why I won’t be using an agent next time.  Attorney, home inspector, and the internet are all I need.  I’m not paying someone 2.5-3% of $550k for the work they do.  If it takes a month to find me a house, that is worth about $2k at most.  I’m also not going to pay the seller’s commission.  If you want to use an agent, it comes out of your end.

Shocked that there’s intelligence in the real estate business. Maybe it’s time to change from 4-6% commission to flat fee, like $5K-10K.

@John -  The builders keep building more because they can still make a profit. Remember, building a home and selling it is a question on how much does it cost you in raw materials and labor to build that house.

If the Market for a 3,000/sqft home in Loudoun is $500,000 and it costs a builder $250,000 for the materials and labor, they can sell it at or even below market and still pocket a nice chuck of change.

When there are so many statistics in an article such as this, perhaps a bar graph or some type of pie chart is more useful than cramming all these numbers in each and every paragraph.

It seems every month LTM publishes an article similar to this. My guess the local realtors are paying for this advertsing?

The real estate market in LOCO is in the ditch and I am surprised they keep building more for example in Lansdowne Town Center and north of RT. 7 on River Creek Pkwy.

I wouldn’t invest in real estate in LOCO anytime soon unless you have money to throw away. Areas such as Bethesda, McLean, Vienna, saw little to no dip in prices over the last few years.

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