With the supply of houses for sale at near record lows, the Washington area is in the throes of a seller’s market. Still, Lisowski said, sellers — even amid bidding wars that often give them the upper hand — need to stand out to take full advantage of their position in the market.
“We shoot the video as a tool for potential buyers to get a better perspective of the home’s features and benefits, from room size, character, charm and overall layout,” says Lisowski, an agent at Fulcrum Properties Group.
“We feel we’re a little bit ahead of the curve — we hope to get to be as professional as HGTV,” he added. “It’s amazing how many e-mails we get at 2:30 or 3 in the morning from someone pursuing the listings.”
That’s what Lisa and Chris Jollay, who have enlisted Lisowski, are hoping for. Lisowski in late February produced a video tour of their three-bedroom, 21
2-bathroom home on Capitol Hill.
The active listings with videos tend to give buyers a better feel for a property. “You can see what the room looks like,” says Lisa Jollay, 42, a federal employee. “Most people nowadays don’t find their home through an open house; they find it online.”
A squeeze on inventory
The real estate business abounds with stories of the crazy market: a ratified contract within five hours of listing a home; 168 offers on a run-down District townhouse; buyers losing offer after offer and starting to become manic.
Three factors are driving the current seller’s market: low inventory, the velocity of sales transactions and competitive pricing, according to Jonathan Hill, president of data firm RealEstate Business Intelligence, a subsidiary of Rockville-based MRIS. Only 6,092 homes were on the market in the Washington area at the end of February, compared with the region’s 10-year average for that month of 12,173.
Homes in February spent a median of 24 days on market before selling, down from 53 a year before. “As days on market go down, that means the buyers are finding more of what they want, or they settle,” Hill said.
A balanced market would typically have a six-month supply of houses for sale. The supply in the District was 1.92 months in January. It was 2.43 months in Montgomery County, 1.85 months in Arlington and 1.93 months in Fairfax, according to Glenn Kelman, president of Redfin, a Seattle-based real estate brokerage.
One reason for the dwindling number of active listings is that many homeowners who would like to sell are on the sidelines because their mortgages are underwater.
The number of Washington area homes with negative equity is declining, but it is still significant, said Stan Humphries, chief economist at Zillow. In the fourth quarter of 2012, 28 percent of the area’s homes with mortgages were underwater, down from 32 percent in the same period in 2011. The region’s level of negative equity at the end of 2012 was slightly higher than the nation’s 27.5 percent.