Welcome! This blog tracks the real estate market in the Central Shenandoah Valley, featuring market data and analysis, an exploration of common buying and selling questions, and candid commentary on all things real estate.
If you are interested in discussing any of the topics on this blog, or the details of your specific real estate situation, call or e-mail me!
Here's a bit of a sneak peak at my upcoming market report which will be published next week. The graph above shows the number of contracts signed per month over the past two years. As you can see, there were 91 contracts signed this November -- as compared to only 70 and 77 in the two previous Novembers.
This bodes well for continued strong sales (closings) into December 2016.
The Rockingham County Planning Commission will consider a request on Tuesday for a further revision of the Preston Lake master plan.
The most recently approved master plan showed one large 168-unit apartment building, and the new master plan will include 12 smaller apartment buildings, presumably with 14 apartments per building.
Rockingham County is not required to hold a public hearing to obtain input from nearby residents because the changing the overall density of the community. Here's why....
This is the affected portion of the master plan before the proposed change....
And here is the same section after the proposed change....
If approved, the updated composition of Preston Lake will be as follows....
I recently installed a Nest Protect smoke alarm in my house to try out this new(ish) technology.
The installation process was quite simple, using the Nest Home iPhone app to allow the Nest Protect smoke alarm to connect to my home wifi network. Physical installation was also very straight forward, as this is a battery operated alarm (not hard-wired) with a 10 year battery life.
Some of my favorite features of this product include....
Learn more about the Nest Protect here.
As I commented to a potential investor this past week -- investing in student rentals can offer a higher return than other non-student properties, but there are also higher risks associated with such an investment. These include....
Again -- investing in student housing can provide a great return on your investment, but it comes with risks that you should full understand before you make an investment.
Learn more about investing at Hunters Ridge here.
Mortgage interest rates jumped nearly 0.5% over the past week or two, but they are still below 4% given the current average of 3.94% -- and if we look at that rate of 3.94% in nearly any historical context, that is a TREMENDOUSLY LOW mortgage interest rate.
As shown above, that is below the average annual mortgage interest rate for every year since 1972 with only two exceptions -- the average rate of 3.66% in 2012 and 3.85% in 2015.
Interest rates could edge even higher after the first of the year, so if you like that first digit of your mortgage interest rate being a 3 instead of a 4, and if you'll be buying soon, you may want to start the buying process sooner rather than later.
Gift & Thrift is in the process of adding 300 solar panels to the top of Gift & Thrift and neighboring buildings -- and the video above shows the process of installing the first 160 solar panels, which took place a few weeks ago.
Gift & Thrift is now looking for further community support to raise the funds to purchase the remaining solar panels. Once completed, this will be the largest solar array in Harrisonburg AND the 107 kilowatt system will provide 46% of Gift & Thrift's electrical needs, thus allowing them to donate $14,000 more each year to the international relief and development work of MCC.
So, action items....
Stay tuned for where interest rates go next week -- but following the election, they jumped nearly 0.5% up to almost 4%. This takes us back to where we were nearly a year ago -- and is not a tremendously high level, but is much higher than where we were a week ago.
Read more via Google News.
Learn more about this month's featured property: 429 West Marshall Avenue
I just published my monthly report on the Harrisonburg and Rockingham County real estate market. Jump to the full online market report, download the PDF, or read on for highlights....
First, let's take a look at the overall market performance in October....
A few highlights from the quick snapshot above....
OK -- as noted above, the 94 homes sales seen in October 2016 mark a 10% decline as compared to the 105 home sales in October 2015, and that was even lower than the 112 home sales seen in October 2014. But before you get overly depressed about a slower October, remember....
So, it seems that the timing of home sales during the year can vary significantly from year to year. Looking at the past three months together can help put things in perspective in some ways....
There, not so bad now, right? That's a 16% improvement over last year when looking at these three months -- and as noted above, when looking at January through October, the pace of home sales in 2016 is 14% higher than it was last year.
OK, on to some other items....
The median value of single family (detached) homes is often the best indicator of trends in home values in a local housing market. As shown above, we have been seeing those values increase over the past five years, most notably over the past two years.
Also of note, as shown above, after hovering between 810 and 820 home sales per year for the past three years, it seems we are finally poised to break through that invisible barrier this year, as we are likely to see at least 900 and perhaps 950 single family home sales.
If my consoling notes above about why slower October home sales weren't so bad didn't help, then perhaps the graph above will help. Slower home sales in October 2016 does not mean that the fast and furious pace of 2016 home sales has come to an end. As shown above, buyers (and sellers) signed 109 home sales in October 2016 -- a 33% increase over the 82 contracts signed last October. So -- we might be in for another month of stronger sales in November.
If you are trying to buy a home right now, it is quite possible that you are frustrated by not having many options to choose from. The graph above might explain why you are having this experience. Inventory levels continue to fall -- to where we now only have 480 homes on the market!?!?! This is as compared to a year ago when there were 640 homes on the market at this time -- showing a 25% year-over-year decline. This lack of inventory is slowly starting to tip the market in the favor of sellers, though not in all price ranges and not in all locations.
OK, there is plenty more to say, such as....
And -- as is always my encouragement -- if you will be buying or selling a home in the near future, start learning about our local housing market sooner rather than later! Being informed will allow you to make better real estate decisions.
I recently installed a Kevo smart lock from Kwikset at my home and am enjoying the conveniences of unlocking the door simply by touching the lock instead of using a key -- and the ability to remotely lock and unlock the door.
The installation of the lock was relatively straightforward -- it replaces your existing lock, fits most doors, and can be keyed to match your existing Kwikset locks on your home.
Learn more about this smart lock on the Kwikset website.
You can have a voice -- make your opinion known as to where the City of Harrisonburg should consider installing sidewalks and shared-use paths.
The Harrisonburg Public Works Department will be presenting a proposed Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan on November 16th at Keister Elementary School at 5:00 PM.
You can review the proposed plan here on the City's website.
Click here to download the proposed Elementary School and Middle School maps.
(current as of 11/7/2016, check here for updates)
If you haven't heard, Harrisonburg City Public Schools are in the midst of a redistricting process, which may change which elementary school or middle school your child will attend in the City of Harrisonburg. This redistricting is a result of the changes required by the forthcoming opening (Fall 2017) of Bluestone Elementary School on Garbers Church Road.
A few highlights to address some FAQ's....
As a home seller, you will face rejection left and right -- many prospective buyers will come view your house and most of them will decide not to buy it. But how, as a seller, do you make sense of that feedback?
I often hear the following types of feedback after a showing:
This type of feedback (size, location, floor plan) is difficult to do much with as a seller. You likely aren't going to build an addition to your house, nor will you physically move the house, nor will you reconfigure the floor plan. Sometimes the feedback is just a mild objection to be overcome -- did you realize that the unfinished bonus room could be finished quite inexpensively (size) and that the new South East connector will make your commute quite short (location)? Oftentimes, however, if you receive feedback about size, location or floor plan there isn't much you can do about it as a seller.
I also, however, will hear the following types of feedback after a showing:
This type of feedback (price, condition, marketing) is completely in your control as a seller. Many buyers will not make an offer if they think your list price is too far from reality -- adjusting your pricing may be just what you need to either generate more showings, or have a chance of the showings turning into offers. I almost included AGE as a factor outside of a seller's control, but it's much more about condition -- how well has a property been maintained, and is it in top showing shape so that buyers don't feel overwhelmed by short-term cosmetic updates and long-term maintenance needs? Finally, if a house has not been marketed thoroughly and effectively, it will likely have a much longer "days on market" than other properties, worrying buyers that perhaps they shouldn't buy the home because nobody else has in the last ten months.
Read more about, think more about, and learn more about selling your house at SellingAHomeInHarrisonburg.com.
An early look at home buying activity (contracts being signed) in October 2016 indicates that the local real estate market is still not showing any signs of slowing down. After a decline to 99 signed contracts in September 2016, buyers signed 110 contracts in October 2016. This marks a 34% improvement over last October's 82 contracts.
Looking back to the start of the main home buying season, there have been 1,018 contracts signed since March 2016 --- compared to only 861 contracts during the same time frame last year.
Stay tuned for my full real estate market report next week with plenty of additional details on our local housing market. If you want to receive that monthly market report by email, click here to sign up.
Does buying or leasing make more sense with a two year time frame?
It depends on the price range, how much of a down payment you are making, whether you are willing to keep the property as a rental property after you move out, and many other factors. However, above I have included is a 2-year and a 3-year analysis of buying versus renting a property valued at $150K compared to $300K, which shows that....
There are, of course, plenty of extenuating circumstances. Many people might buy a $150K house (or townhouse) even if they are planning to be there for only 3 years --- because they want their own home (not their landlord's), or to get in a certain neighborhood, or because of the tax benefits, etc.
view a larger version of this map as a JPG or PDF
This map from Rockingham County of the Urban Development Area is frequently updated, and provides helpful updates on the status of each project currently under development (or nearing development) in this growth area just southeast of the City of Harrisonburg.
Current updates include....
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