In 2004 and 2005 I wrote a few articles about the insane Washington, D.C. real estate market. There were multiple buyers for every house on the market. Prices were skyrocketing and buyers were stripping themselves of every protection by eliminating such common contract contingencies such as a home inspection, the ability to obtain a mortgage and an appraisal. Such practices were unheard of prior to about 2002.
The focus of my articles wasn't merely a description of the crazy conditions, but a prediction -- even a warning -- to anyone jumping on the real estate bandwagon hoping to make a quick buck: The red hot market isn't sustainable. Those folks who were buying speculative real estate with no money down and a short term holding period are playing a risky game.
These articles generated a lot of reaction from readers, most who agreed with my prediction that the market was headed for possible hard landing.
During the same period -- mid-2005 -- I received a phone call from a woman from New York City. She says she's putting together a book on real estate advice for Donald Trump. She asks me if I'd like to write something down and send it to her. If The Donald likes it, it will go in the book.
Even though I'm thinking that this must be some sort of practical joke, I agreed to send her an email anyway. My advice to Mr. Trump was simple: Recognize that real estate, while a good investment over time, may require patience and staying power. Folks expecting to double their money in a year are in for a rude awakening if their investment was ill-timed. If property values dip or the rental market slows, the investor must have the ability to hold the investment long enough to overcome dips in the marketplace.
So I write a few paragraphs and hit the send button. I then forget about it.
Low and behold, last week I received a package in the mail containing Trump's new book, "The Best Real Estate Advice I Ever Received -- 100 Top Experts Share Their Strategies," along with a letter from the publisher thanking me for my contribution. I flip through the book and there it is on page 213. I also note that Blanche Evans, editor of Real Estate-Realtor Times, is a contributor.
Well, it turns out my advice to the Real Estate-Realtor Times readers and to Mr. Trump himself wasn't too bad. I contacted my friend and true real estate expert, Bill Barnes of Barnes Real Estate Company in Alexandria, Virginia to get his take on today's Washington real estate market. He summarized the current market like this:
The Washington area real estate market is bound to lose a bit more steam before it picks up again. But Washington has proved to be resilient, and someone who buys real estate has made a good investment if the intent of the purchase is a long term investment. But be well aware of the fact that I mentioned in a Real Estate-Realtor Times column that was published on March 17, 2005: Cycles happen.