Well 2015 came in like a lion, went out like a lioness and in between was anywhere between a rhinoceros and a lemur, at least in the greater Williamsburg market which is the subject of this year end update. All data was gathered using broker metrics and the Williamsburg MLS between 12-14-2015 and 12-18-2015. Please keep in mind this report cover the 3 James City County zip codes 23188-23185-23168 plus the City of Williamsburg. These can be vastly different markets, but James City County accounts for the majority of the data. Call me for a break down that matches your needs specifically! Zip code 23185 can include 3 different localities with vastly different pricing that significantly throws statistics off kilter. York County 23185, James City County 23185 and City of Williamsburg 23185 values are hundreds of thousand dollars different.
The question I get asked most often is “how’s the market?” While I love that question, it is a loaded question. What market are you referring to? Investing, buying, selling or renting? Are you in the market or not? Where are you referring too? Are you asking about today, tomorrow, last month or the whole last year? Here is a market snapshot video from several years ago…
Overall, I have to say 2015 was a very good year. At least for me and my projection at the beginning of the year. I closed 35 sales successfully and had 6 or so fall apart for various reasons. I took on a partner in hopes of capitalizing on missed opportunities like in prior years. I finished the year with 11 active listings so 2016 is looking good so far too. But this was by far, the most complicated, stressful year I’ve had in 13 years. Both buyers and sellers had situations arise that I couldn’t make up. Lenders and the government have caused most of it. Unprepared buyers, sellers and their new or newer agents were frustrating to the end of some deals…and beyond the closing in some cases.
Looking back through the housing correction locally, James City County and the City of Williamsburg, residential sales (attached and detached), for years 2015, 2014, 2013, 2009, 2007,2005 and the year between June 1 2006 and June 30 2007- Presumably the height of the bubble market, but my data shows something different. 2004 is my benchmark and as far back as I can go for data. To really see the market rise and collapse you need to look over several long periods of time. One of the most frustrating things I hear with national broadcast of the “market” is it doesn’t really represents anyone’s real market-it is far too broad and arguably undefined. This 10 year snapshot is critical information for sellers today to establish a perception and a reality balance. It should also help buyers rationalize where things have gone locally over a long period of time. Although just like any product in the supermarket what your money buys varies greatly. Today’s $330,000 house is vastly different from the $330,000 house in 2004!
I do this for buyers looking to move into Williamsburg regularly to help them realize our market is significantly different than their market typically. Perception is reality right? What happens in Detroit, Washington DC or Las Vegas might have some impact on us locally but it still boils down to supply inventory and demand. Unfortunately we are not making inventory in most cases. Likewise sellers need to understand where we were, where we are. If anyone was really successful at predicting where we are headed, we shouldn’t have ever had a bubble or a financial crisis. So I am very cautious when buyers or investors ask “where will my value be when I decide to sell?”
We ended 2015 (at least through part of December) with a median sold price of $310,000 and average of $339,606 (97.57% of list price at closing). There were a total of 1318 closed residential sales. Almost 20% (279) were sold by the listing agent (likely new construction, dual or designated agency). According to broker metrics there were 248 producing agents for an average production of 5 sales per agent. But that number can be skewed however anyone wants using a variety of data. Any agent can be in the top 1% of agents locally depending on the source and data used! I don’t think the last 2 weeks will have a big impact on 2015 statistics.
Here is how the numbers looked over the periods I mentioned above and how they compared (improved or worsened over the previous periods)
Year Units Median SP DOM SP/LP +/-
2015 1318 $ 310,000 96 97.57 +5% 2014
2014 1221 $ 294,200 89 97.34 -2% 2013
2013 1270 $ 299,450 112 97.18 -8% 2007
2009 1415 $ 272,000 133 95.62 -16% 2007
2007 1225 $ 325,000 94 97.42 -3.3%
6/1/2006-6/30/2007 1571 $ 335,900 78 98.09 +2% 2005
2005 1651 $ 328,900 55 99.01 +18% 2004
2004 1474 $ 268,476 55 97.20 Benchmark
So looking at this a bit further the change in median sold price between 2004 and 2015 is about a 13% increase. This is through the worst housing market in the country’s history. So do you think real estate values are improving? Of course! But buying the right house… in the right neighborhood… in the right condition at the right time makes a big difference. Look at the unit sales in 2009 but the lower price point. Remember the housing stimulus (2008-2010). Had the government let the market work freely we might not have seen the increase in risk, rise in subsequent defaults and lingering effects of 2007s financial meltdown. Who knows?
Using this analysis by no means covers the gamut of scenarios facing buyers and sellers. But you have to think long term with real estate. If you plan to own your home for 10 years, you will win. What is a win in real estate? Live for free essentially and maybe make money on your “investment” of time and money. Keep it in good condition and up to date with market trends and you’ll do fine. If you neglect it, borrow fake equity and don’t pay attention to the current market demands and trends, you will be lucky to break even.
The home you live in is not an investment. It is your home and place to be safe and secure. Of course you can rent and be safe and secure and be limited to market swings (somewhat!). But if you rent a home at today’s average in Williamsburg of about $1800/month that’s $21,600 year or $210,600 over 10 years assuming no increases in rent and you don’t have to add the cost of moving 3 or 4 times during that period. That money is gone and you paid someone else’s mortgage. Protect your money and have more freedom and control over how, where you live. Purchase a home today, historically it’s still by far a safe harbor for your housing budget!