Buying a home is an exciting experience, but it can feel a bit overwhelming if you don’t have the right information. Check out these helpful resources about the home buying process. When you’re ready, give The Lise Howe Group a call at 240-401-5577 to tour available homes in the Montgomery County and Bethesda areas.

2020 Housing Market and Economic Trends

Now that we’re almost 2 months into 2020, you may be wondering what the remainder of the year will hold for the economy and the housing market specifically. Let’s start with the economy as a whole–and don’t worry, it appears things are looking up! Stocks picked up right where they left off in 2019 by touching all-time highs. And Bonds, which also performed well in 2019, continue to hover near three-year highs, keeping home loan rates near 3-year lows.

Here we present three economic trends to watch for the remainder of the year:

Don’t fight the Fed. As the saying goes, there doesn’t appear to be any chance of a Fed rate hike in 2020. The economy is strong, but not too strong. Plus, the Fed is fighting disinflation, so a rate hike would counter those efforts. Moreover, it’s a presidential election year and the Fed has historically tried it’s best to avoid any monetary policy moves in those years.
Bottom line: good for Stocks and less good for Bonds.

Stock gains. Post-World War II, Stocks on average have gained 10.1% in presidential election years where the incumbent is up for re-election. It’s tough to fight that trend, even with Stocks soaring in 2019. Bottom line: Stocks are set to finish 2020 higher.
$1,000,000,000,000. That was what the U.S. spent in holiday retail shopping in 2019. That massive record highlights the strength of the U.S. consumer who makes up 70% of the U.S. economy.

What can we gather from these trends? That absent a Black Swan event or unforeseen negative surprise, 2020 is shaping up to be a great year for the U.S. economy, with the labor market strong, wages rising, inflation muted, and interest rates low.

Moving on to the housing market, it looks like 2020 should be an interesting year for residential real estate. Because predicting housing market trends can be challenging, we examined combined projections from the most trusted entities in the industry to bring you as accurate a forecast as possible. We review mortgage rates, home sales, and home prices–and the predictions for 2020 may surprise you.

Looking to Buy an Investment Property in the DC area? Consider the I-270 Life Sciences Corridor!

Depending on how closely you follow development in DC and the surrounding area, you may have heard of the I-270 life sciences corridor: a 37 mile stretch of life sciences companies along I-270 that snakes from Bethesda through Rockville, Gaithersburg, Germantown, and Clarksburg. The corridor spans two counties (Montgomery and Frederick) and hosts 140 companies and counting that employee over 19,000 people between them.

One reason that buying a property along the corridor is a smart move? There are more massive developments underway that will bring plenty more jobs and plenty more employees in need of housing! Read on for some information about several of the largest planned developments.

Neighborhood Spotlight: Alexandria

Let’s get one thing out of the way: we recognize that Alexandria isn’t exactly a neighborhood. With a population of around 150,000 and around 200 independent restaurants and boutiques, Alexandria is better described as a small city. Nonetheless, we chose to feature it because it’s chock full of things to do and comes with some major perks for residents. For starters, living in Alexandria means an easy commute whether you work in DC or Northern Virginia! Alexandria offers easy metro access and it’s a hop, skip, and a jump to Reagan National airport for those who travel frequently. And, if you’re moving to the area to join the ranks at Amazon’s new HQ2, Alexandria is a perfect spot to call home–close to Arlington but with arguably more charm!

Even if you aren’t looking to move in 2020, this small city is most certainly worth a visit for both DMV locals and out of town visitors alike. Don’t take our word for it–Alexandria was named a Top 3 Best Small City in the U.S. by the Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards in 2019! Read on for our guide to this lovely and historic town.

FHA Loan Limits Increase for 2020

The first step in buying a new home is to get your finances in order. Many first time homebuyers turn to FHA financing because the down payment is only 3.5% of the loan amount and it is available to borrowers with lower credit scores. The FHA loan limits were announced on December 3, 2019 for the following year.

All About Westbard Mews

Are you looking for an elegant but affordable home close to Bethesda and Northwest Washington? Do you need to get out to Dulles Airport easily? Do you want to be able to lock your front door and travel for a few weeks or months and not worry about who is going to shovel your front steps when it snows or mow your grass in summer? Check out Westbard Mews – the perfect community for empty nesters or small families that want to spend more time living life than maintaining a home.

How Long Can This Economic Recovery Last?

How long can this economic recovery last? Earlier this year, there was lots of talk about a recession or at least an economic slow down coming by the end of the year. Here we are in mid December 2019 – and the stock market is booming and unemployment rates are at record lows. The economy is currently experiencing the longest recovery in our nation’s history.

Neighborhood Spotlight: Rockville

For our first Neighborhood Spotlight featuring a community outside of DC city limits, we chose Rockville, Maryland. Rockville is one of the most populous towns in Montgomery County, and although it’s a fairly easy half hour drive into Washington, Rockville offers plenty of things to do, drink, and eat in its own right! We’ve compiled some recommendations below for locals and visitors alike–as our list will prove to you, there’s really no need to fight Beltway traffic to have a good time!

Pros and Cons of a 30 Year Mortgage–And Is it Still the Reigning Mortgage Option?

homes near Walter Reed

For all those contemplating buying a home or an investment property, you may be wondering what type of mortgage is best for you. Well, the answer of course depends on your situation. Because that isn’t exactly helpful, let’s run through the pros and cons of choosing a 30 year fixed rate mortgage–which, to answer the question posed above, remains the most popular option among home buyers by far.

Pros:
Lower Monthly Payments: When your loan payments are spread out over 30 years versus 15, there is no surprise that the monthly cost is less. This is ideal if you don’t have a ton of leftover money each month after budgeting for all of your expenses.

A Nicer Home: Especially for first time buyers who may be earning less than people shopping for a second or third home, a longer mortage term allows you to buy a more expensive home (due to those lower monthly payments.) Of course, buying a larger, better located, or simply nicer place should result in a better return on investment when you go to sell. That being said, it’s never a great idea to buy the priciest home you can possibly afford–being a bit conservative and leaving money for a rainy day is always wiser.

Flexibility: First, ensure that your 30 year loan does not have penalities for making extra payments. Once that’s settled, you have the flexbility to pay off your loan more quickly and save yourself lots of money in interest! The great thing is if your financial situation changes–you suffer an unexpected job loss or something along those lines–then you can go back to your initial (smaller) monthly payments. If you have the option of paying more than you have to and the discipline to do so, then having a 30 year mortgage and paying it off in 15 can be the best of both worlds–it slashes the total interest you pay while also offering a fallback plan if your finances go downhill.

Now, onto the cons of a 30 year mortgage.

Owning Your Home Takes a Long Time: Simply put, getting a 15 year mortgage means that your home will be paid off in half the time of a 30 year loan. For those who can manage a shorter mortgage, it will mean you are in debt for many fewer years!

Saving Money: The issue with opting for a 30 year mortgage with intentions to pay it off in 15 and avoid massive interest is that good intentions don’t always translate into action. Choosing a shorter mortgage from the jump ensures that you will save boatloads of money on interest–whereas going with a 30 year leaves open the possibility that instead of paying it off more quickly you will submit to temptation and spend that extra money on clothes, a vacation..you name it!

More Equity More Quickly: With a 15 year mortgage, you pay down interest much more quickly than with a 30 year. As a result, more of your monthly payment goes to pricipal and less to the bank–certainly preferrabe if you can swing it.

All things considered, a shoter mortgage will save you more money over time. However, it may simply not be feasible depending on your situation. Whatever you choose, talk to a qualified lender for sound professional advice, as buying a home will be the biggest financial decision you make!

Please call Lise at 240-401-5577 if you’d like a referral to an experienced and knowledgeable lender!

Neighborhood Spotlight: Park View

Park View is an up and coming (or already arrived depending on your point of view) neighborhood in Northwest DC directly north of Howard University. Development in Park View really started heating up around 2009, and 10 years later there are now a plethora of great restaurants and shops. Park View offers easy walkability to hot neighborhoods like Shaw and also boasts 2 metro stops on the Yellow/Green line for access to the rest of the city (not to mention direct metro access to Reagan National airport.) Park View is a lovely place to stroll, and it offers both peace and quiet on residential streets with a thriving commercial section on Georgia Avenue. Without further ado, here is a list of the best things to do, places to eat and drink, and a little information on housing in Park View: