The number of homes sold increased throughout most of the Winchester Region in May, according to the Long & Foster Real Estate Market Minute report. Winchester City had the largest increase with a 44% jump while Shenandoah County had a 4% decrease. Median home sale prices varied throughout the region with a 9% increase in Frederick County. Inventory continued to fall in the entire region with decreases ranging from 3% to 8%.
“When looking at the Winchester area it’s more of the same,” said Larry “Boomer” Foster, president of Long & Foster Real Estate. “Unit sales are shrinking in areas with already depleted inventory levels, but interestingly enough you don’t see huge appreciations.” There are single-digit median sale price increases in most of the region.
The real estate market is looking healthy though. “There’s a ton of competition and 30-year fixed rates are the lowest they’ve been in two years, so affordability is pretty strong,” Foster said. He noted that we seem to be involved in a later spring real estate season than normal, with the market holding strong and steady where it would have slowed down in the past. Due to the challenges faced in January and February, Foster expects June and July to remain high in terms of pending contracts.
Home flipping has become increasingly popular lately, which Foster associates with the rise of iBuyer companies. “In an appreciating marketplace, home flipping is an attractive option for people who want to make quick money,” he said. iBuyers offer convenience for consumers who are looking to sell their home quickly without the need to do typical preparations to list a property. These companies will typically close on the house within a 14-day period, flip it and sell it to make a profit. Since these homes are typically bought for far less than what they’re worth, the convenience comes at the cost of the consumer.
Foster also addressed the rise in mortgage closing scams in which criminals contact homebuyers by email in an effort to have them wire their funds for closing costs and down payment to a fraudulent account. He said when any transaction involves a significant amount of money, consumers need to double-check with their agent or financial institution. “People just need to be aware and reach out to their agent directly if they are unsure about anything involving their transaction or receive email instructions to wire funds,” Foster said. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has more information about protecting yourself.