Will Presidential Election Help Resurrect Local Housing Strength?

(Monday, July 21, 2008 7:38 AM EDT)

No matter who wins this November's presidential election, the turnover of political staff members will - if only slightly - boost activity in the local real estate market, some top local real estate professionals said.

But others suggested the assistance could be marginal, at best, no matter which party wins the presidency.

Here is what local real estate agents predicted about the presidential changing-of-the-guard, based on interviews conducted by Dave Facinoli, Brian Trompeter, Kristen Armstrong and Rolly Strauss:

Deborah Whitaker, Long & Foster Great Falls: “I think it will help the market a lot. I certainly hope it will help in the upper-middle-priced homes bracket, from $750,000 to $1.2 million. I think that's where we're seeing purchases right now.”

Amy Shafer, Re/Max Allegiance Arlington: “I think it will be a benefit, because there's going to be a demand. Historically, more people move into the area than move out.”

Nick Kuhn, McEnearney Arlington: “I think we will see an increase in real estate activity. Initially, people will look at rentals until they establish where they want to be. As the new administration takes off and its appointees are approved, they get into the marketplace.”

Robin Waugh, Weichert McLean: “I've been here through several elections, and I haven't seen a major change in my business or other people's businesses just because of the election. This is a unique election, and a lot of people are going to be moving into and out of town. Hopefully we will have some activity there. I've got a couple of sellers who have decided to wait until after the election to see if they can get more money.”

Tom Wartha, Re/Max Xecutex Oakton: “I don't think it [will produce] a real dramatic difference. The real estate market is helped more by the confidence people have in the market, the availability of financing and the reasonableness of pricing.”

Dayna Wagner, Long & Foster Arlington: “I would certainly hope, and many of us predict, that it would affect us in a very positive way, increasing our business and demand.”

Dianne Van Volkenburg, Weichert Great Falls: “Generally it helps the real estate market because there are new people coming to town. Depending upon who wins, it has a boost in morale and consumer confidence. I think people have a tendency with a new administration to feel positively. The market has tended to do better after an election.”

Kenneth Tully, Re/Max Preferred Vienna: “It will help, but not considerably. We do usually see an uptick in activity after an election.”

Kelly Tierney, Re/Max Distinctive Arlington: “Because of the change in government and people coming and going, there will be more activity in the market. A majority of our economy in this area is government-driven, so a change will always generate more activity.”

Casey Thompson, Weichert Great Falls: “I've been doing this for 25 years and I can never remember that we saw any significant improvement or otherwise with a change of administration. Maybe it does in other areas, like Arlington. I'm not looking for that to make any difference. It hasn't in the past.”

Aaron Seekford, Arlington Realty: “Yes. Definitely, depending on where everybody is being located. We're somewhat insular in our area.”

Joan Sellers, Weichert McLean/Old Dominion: “I think it will help, because staff that are living here now have enjoyed living in Northern Virginia, and may not want to go back to their home states. So we'll see an increase in new staff coming into the community.”

Pat Shannon, Long & Foster Arlington: “It will help tremendously. We'll see a lot more activity, a lot more buyers in what is traditionally a slow market through the winter, and we'll see a much busier spring. People will be putting their homes on the market, and come spring, people will start moving in.”

Kim Sharifi, Weichert McLean: “I haven't really noticed a serious increase in buyers in past elections - this is my third I've [worked] through - so I really don't know what effect it will have. People working in the administration tend to find jobs in the area after they're done with that.”

Scott Shawkey, Weichert McLean Center: “Political change is good for the economy, whatever direction it is; it inspires confidence. As far as staffing coming in from [either of] the parties. I don't think it will change the market particularly, because it's more expensive housing here and the younger staff are moving into D.C. My area won't particularly be affected by a change of office.”

Ann Shirey, McEnearney Arlington: “[In the last presidential election] when we were in the business, there was not much in the way of a new influx of folks buying in the locale where I was working, where there were a lot of rentals going on. But I think it is foolish to try to make a generalization.”

Jim Shirey, McEnearney Arlington: “It will impact the real estate market in the upper brackets, where it will have a positive and significant impact. In the lower price points, it will have less of an impact.”

Barbara Simon, McEnearney Arlington: “I won't expect it to have an effect in and of itself. The move is a much smaller percent than people think. There is a bit of a pre-election pause and post-election surge, because people just don't like uncertainty. But it's not related to the small transfer of personnel.”

Cristina Sison, ReMax Allegiance Arlington: “There's going to be turnover, and in my experience, Realtors will be very busy. There will be transition, and that will be good for the economy. In fact, I can already see a huge increase in rentals closer in and in the District, but not necessarily outside Northern Virginia.”

Hope Skilling, McEnearney McLean: “Historically, it doesn't always help the market all that much, because people stay in the area to do consulting. People coming in don't always buy immediately or can't afford to, and they rent.”

Beth Slucher, Long & Foster Vienna/Oakton: “With the election and, hopefully, by spring, which generally starts in January/February, the market will be better. Part of that is the psychological element, because the election will stimulate change, whichever way it goes, in all segments of society, and that can create a psychological boost for consumers.”

Kate Ryan, Long & Foster McLean: “I just haven't seen over the years that those elections will have any influence.”

Debra Rubin, Long & Foster Great Falls: “I think the elections will have an impact as far as outlook, and it will have a great deal of impact on the economy.”

Mercedes Robinson, Long & Foster Arlington: “Absolutely: The election will create a lot of activity in the Washington area.”

Lisa Smith, McEnearney McLean: “I don't think it makes any difference at all. I spent years working on the Hill, and for Sen. Obama and Sen. McCain, the majority of their staff already have a place, because they're already here. The new incoming Congress, whether they're Republican or Democrat, very few will buy initially, and will rent until they decide. It really has no impact at all.”

Nancy Sorensen Willson, Long & Foster McLean: I don't think it's going to have an effect on us, because our area is not solely dictated by the government and we have so many different industries here.”

Leanne Spencer, Weichert Arlington: “I don't think it's going to help as much as people seem to think, because in the Washington area, people may leave their administration jobs and become lobbyists or join a law firm and continue to participate in the Washington atmosphere.”

John Steele, Long & Foster McLean/Dolley Madison: “I don't think it will, or marginally 5 percent at best. Staffers tend to go from one program to another and don't relocate. Only the leadership and the top-level people are physically changed out, and they're usually local anyway. It's more psychological impact than actual numbers of physical moves.”

Jisue Sue, Long & Foster Tysons: “We always say when there's an election, the market is going to be better. The new president always comes in with promises; they will try their best to boost the economy, and that usually does help - in the short run.”

Jake Sullivan, Re/Max Allegiance McLean: “The new people coming in are not making enough money to buy the houses, but the group that's going out is going into lobbying and the private sector, and they're the ones who are going to buy the move-up houses, they're the ones that can afford to buy the houses in Northern Virginia.”

Eileen Summers, Long & Foster Great Falls: “I don't know that in the Great Falls market it's going to change a whole lot, because a lot of those high end staffers move to the area, but their homes are still maintained in the state they come from. More of what happens is the change in consumer confidence, which will help the market, of course.”

Sally Swanson, Long & Foster McLean/Dolley Madison: “I don't see that it does much for the real estate market. In my 27 years, those voted out often stay here and aren't moving out of their home. New people coming in usually can't afford a new home or don't necessarily buy, and most often rent. What it does for the consumer, and the buyers and sellers if they've been sitting on the fence, they see the economy turning around and more activity, that's when things will be turning around.”

Said Zangeneh, Weichert Realtors Great Falls: “It has always helped. The change of parties brings benefits to real estate.”

Steve Wisemiller, Re/Max Allegiance Arlington: “It will help. Whenever parties come and ago, there is somewhat of a significant impact [on the market].”

Bradley Winkelmann, Re/Max Allegiance Arlington: “Having been in real estate for a while, I think it's a well-evidenced trend that, regardless of who wins, there will be a great deal of turnover. But even as the administration changes, a lot of people don't leave the market. We should be seeing an influx [in the market].”

Ann Wilson, Re/Max Allegiance Arlington: “Oh, I think it'll impact [the market] a great deal. Change is good!”

Rowena Wolf, Long & Foster Great Falls: “I think it will help it a great deal. I think a lot of people are waiting to see what happens. I don't think it matter who wins, but it will create a sense of optimism that there's a change. And usually there's a lot of activity of people coming and going. Staffers turn over. We do usually see a big boost in housing at that time. Next spring or January, that's when I see when page will turn.”

Ingrid Wooten, Long & Foster Arlington: “Elections usually do not have a great impact on the housing market, in my opinion. The people leaving office seem to stay here and go into private business, and the people moving into the area often don't know yet how long they will stay and thus tend to rent, at least initially.”

Michelle Sagatov, Fall Properties Arlington: “There will be some movement and maybe it could bring a little spike.”

Sherry Schaffer, Long & Foster Arlington: “People are waiting to see what happens, especially with a lot of the move-up buyers. Once the election is over, there could be a big flurry of action.”

Mary Schrodt, McEnearney McLean: “I do believe, depending on who gets elected, that might have an emotional effect on consumers and consumer confidence.”

Ann Romer, Weichert McLean: “In the shorter team, the initial impact will be on the rental market more.”

Leslie Schultz, Re/Max Distinctive McLean: “I don't think it will help the market. New policies won't be enacted for a few months until after the election.”

Caroline Rocco, Coldwell Banker Brokerage McLean: “There is a lot of economic unrest right now pending the outcome of the election, and there is a major difference between the [presidential] candidates. Until that is decided and minds are put at ease, there will not be much movement on the market. But after that, things should get cracking again.”

Lucille Ryan, Avery Hess Dunn Loring: “If the Democrats win, there is going to be a change in the capital-gains tax, so we might see more investors selling property. Capital gains will be the big issue.”

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