Real Estate: Bidding Wars in Northern Virginia

By Ron Dory, Epoch Times
May 8, 2013 Updated: May 8, 2013

Real estate brokers in northern Virginia compare the current market to a jungle. 

With a lack of inventory to meet buyer demand, brokers are changing their business approaches, focusing on art of mastering the competitive bidding process and utilizing new ways to preemptively get their clients options to buy homes not listed on the market. Brokers proclaim it a seller’s market. 

To engage in competitive bidding wars, prospective home buyers are deploying real estate brokers to on be the front lines, gathering information and actively engaging potential sellers.

“We now have to become experts in the game of bidding wars,” said Frank Llosa, broker and owner of Frankly Real Estate. “So if I do an analysis of an agent, and if they have never done a bidding war, I would treat them differently. Is this agent a habitual under pricer? Agents tend to have a system and it’s fairly predictable.”

Llosa’s firm analyzes variable factors in a real estate transaction to advise their clients on the best approach to deliver a winning bid that may not be the highest. It offers tools, advice, and resources such as hourly e-mail alerts that notify clients of new listings within a half hour of their appearance on the local Multiple Service Listing (MLS), a real estate advertising service used by brokers, buyers and sellers. 

“Weekend warriors don’t have the experience,” said Llosa, referring to part-time real estate agents. 

Whether they are extremely experienced or less so, brokers are also helping people buy new homes in northern Virginia. For example, Stanley Martin Homes offers new houses in Fairfax with prices starting at $609,990. 

New homes are also attracting competitive bids. Llosa said that there is more risk in purchasing new homes, especially in larger developments in northern Virginia.

“I’ve seen builders liquidate inventory,” said Llosa.

When builders liquidate and drastically cut prices, owners can quickly lose equity.

The Belt Team of Keller Williams recommends that buyers act swiftly and without hesitating because homes are selling fast. 

According to Real Estate Business Intelligence, 221 home sales closed in Arlington County in March with an average sale price of $597,172. 

The Belt Team reported on their blog that 27 homes sold in Vienna in the last week of April, with 75 percent of those homes selling in one week or less and 89 percent selling in weeks. 

In the past 30 days in Oakton, 52 new listings have come onto the market while 53 more homes have gone under contract, according to the Belt Team. In Vienna, 137 new listings were added to the market and 125 went under contracts in the last 30 days. Vienna’s inventory is at its highest so far this year with 126 homes on the market. 

Cindy Jones, broker and owner of CJ Realty Group in Woodbridge, Va., reminds buyers in her blog to remember the option of new construction. Builders can quickly deliver homes in the area and they can be more flexible in closing assistance than sellers, who may be tight on equity, according to Jones.