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Ask McEnearney: Is Now a Good Time to Start a Career in Real Estate?

This week’s Q&A column is written by Karisue Wyson, Director of Recruiting & Agent Support at McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria. To learn more about this article, contact Karisue at 703-615-0876 or email [email protected]. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

Question: Is now a good time to start a career in real estate?

Answer: Real estate has never been a career for those uninterested in hard work, maintaining focus in the midst of chaos, and having an optimistic view of the future. Why else would anyone take on a job where you don’t get paid until the end of the process? This is a career for entrepreneurs looking to build a business over a long period of time with highs and lows along the way.

But there is no doubt that what realtors are facing now is complex and challenging, tying together economic and health crises with a seismic shift in the way we do business.

No one has experienced what we are going through right now, so in some sense all agents are at the same starting point of learning to sell in the midst of a global pandemic. Of course, agents who were selling during the housing crisis of the late 2000s have a better reference level for what it takes to succeed in a challenging market.

But during the Great Recession it took years for our housing industry to recover and a great deal of overhaul in the businesses associated with real estate to reclaim public trust. That is not the case today, and there are signs that the strength of our local housing market prior to the pandemic — buoyed by low inventory and low mortgage rates, two things that have not changed — is keeping us in a positive position.

As local officials designated real estate as an essential service, realtors quickly ramped up to serve the public in the safest and most efficient ways possible. From stocking listings with anti-bacterial supplies to hosting virtual open houses and guiding clients through remote-access settlements, agents have ensured that CDC guidelines on public interactions have been carefully followed. And the results show that sales are still happening at a hopeful pace.

Local stats from throughout the D.C. area, as compiled by McEnearney’s David Howell, Executive Vice President & CIO, shows that for the last several weeks, contract activity still lags behind that of last year, but the previously very wide gap continues to narrow.

For the week of May 10-16, the total number of newly ratified contracts was down just 14.6% compared to the same week last year. To put that into perspective, the previous week was off 19.3%, and that was preceded by weekly drops of 30.9%, 40% and 45%.

Absorption rates for the City of Alexandria — the rate at which properties went under contract or sold in a 30 day period — in April showed a continued seller’s market, with a 47% rate for detached homes up to $1 Million and 33% for homes over $1 Million, 50% rate for townhomes up to $1 Million and 32% for townhomes over $1 Million, and 49% rate for condos and co-ops up to $1 Million (the news was not so great for condos and co-ops over $1 Million with barely any movement in those properties). While we do not expect contract activity to catch up to 2019’s performance anytime soon, the trend is very positive.

What the last two months have made clear is that our homes have never been more important to us than they are today. They have become the center of our universe — our workplace, our schoolroom, our communications center — providing a sanctuary in a time of uncertainty.

Demographics will shift as a result of our time in quarantine that will necessitate a change in housing: families will grow, couples will divorce, working from home will mean less focus on commuting times, multi-generations will come together under one roof. There will be a lot of movement in the housing market and opportunity for savvy agents at every change in that cycle.

Real estate was key to so many things in our lives before the COVID-19 pandemic arrived. It will take professional, knowledgeable and caring realtors to guide buyers, sellers and renters through the new market ahead.

If before the pandemic you were considering a career in real estate because you wanted to be a part of something essential, not just to our economy but to our social fabric, then now is the perfect time to start.

If you’d like to learn more about how McEnearney Associates is growing, visit us at

If you would like a question answered in our weekly column or to set up an appointment with one of our Associates, please email: [email protected] or call 703-549-9292.

McEnearney Associates Realtors®, 109 S. Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. Equal Housing Opportunity. #WeAreAlexandria

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