All eyes are on the interest rates. They have been so low for so long that just about everyone expects them to rise several times during the coming year. The increases will start off in small increments, so we don’t anticipate a sudden impact on the housing market, but it could make it more difficult for some buyers to qualify for a mortgage.
However, the pent-up demand for buying a home in the D.C. area is large enough to offset the potential loss of those who won’t be able to qualify for a mortgage as rates increase. After all, buyers have had a few more years to save up for larger down payments and improve their credit scores so there are more qualified buyers than even a few years ago.
Given the predicted rise in interest rates, the selling season might kick off earlier than usual. Buyers will want to lock in as low of a rate as possible. The ones who know that they want to buy a home this year will most probably try to get a head start on finding one that fits their needs before rates rise again.
Spring real estate activity is also always weather-dependent. Heavy snow late into February and March can deter people from going out to tour homes. That has a domino effect in delaying any offers, which then delays the final closing date. Thus, only if we have a mild winter do I predict an early start to the spring market.
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