Rubinchuk is an agent with Keller Williams Realty, and she publishes a realty news Web site, ArlingtonRealEstateNews.com. She is licensed to sell real estate in Virginia, Maryland and the District. She specializes in helping first-time homebuyers and sellers navigate the real estate process.
How's the real estate market these days?
Things are mostly very quiet. It's not that values have gone down or foreclosures are up, it's just that there are fewer people out there both buying and selling. The market is very seasonal. Memorial Day to Labor Day is usually pretty quiet, but things are especially slow between Memorial Day and the Fourth of July.
How does this year compare to last year?
I'm finding it's a little bit quieter this year than during the last few years. All the numbers right now are two-thirds of what they were last year. Fewer homes are going under contract, and fewer houses are available for sale. So the number of people out there looking to buy or sell is down.
Why is that?
We borrowed, so to speak, buyers from the future because when the new homebuyer tax credit [that expired April 30] was around, we sold through all the old listings that were for sale. So the properties that nobody was buying suddenly flew off the shelves because the tax credit was expiring and people felt a bit of a time crunch. Things were crazy between February, March and April. Once May hit, it started to get quiet.
How did the national housing crisis manifest itself in the D.C. market?
We're sort of in a bubble around here, which is a factor of job security. There are so many government employees around here, and government contractors, so the unemployment rates that hit other places didn't hit us quite as hard. Prices never really went down so much in the D.C. area. Once you got to the outskirts of the city, like Prince William County, they got demolished by prices, by the slew of foreclosures and bank owners that came on. But in the immediate D.C. metro area, prices really never went down as far as the national average.
When do you think the market will pick back up?
End of August, heading into Labor Day weekend. Springtime is the hottest time for us, but we foresee a big spike in September and into a little bit of October. That's generally the second biggest selling season. - Markham Heid