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!
We still have another few days when March 2015 home sales will be reported, but we have already seen more sales this year (56) than during the month of March last year (55).
This continues the trend of improving monthly home sales. Now, 10 out of the past 12 months have shown the same number of more home sales than in the same month during the previous year.
Canary is a $249 wireless security system with no required ongoing costs. As noted above, it offers many features in the home realm of home security, and beyond....
Now Open - in Downtown Harrisonburg - HATCH3D
The Shenandoah Valley's Source for 3D Printing Technologies
From the HDR blog....
"3D printing is revolutionizing industries, from education and medicine to military training. It's a game changing technology so we couldn't be more excited to have a company downtown that specializes in this unique field. Hatch3D is a brand new 3D printing, scanning, and design business located on West Market St. in the Wetsel Seed Building. "Read more on the Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance blog, or learn more....
Exciting News! We have several new, more affordable, floor plans now available at Heritage Estates!
This to-be-built home features French Country architecture, a stone and stucco exterior, all located in an active adult community pool with a swimming pool. Enjoy an open floor plan, upscale kitchen cabinets, granite countertops, a kitchen island, an expansive walk-in pantry, and a spacious first floor master suite.
Three new floor plan options....
If you are considering a home purchase in Heritage Estates, an active adult community in Harrisonburg, Virginia, you'll want to check out these new floor plans.
Let me know if you'd like to set up a time to view the model home and review these floor plans.
Contract activity has been RED HOT so far this year -- with 249 contracts signed in the first 82 days of this year -- as compared to only 178 in the same time frame last year.
If you are planning to sell this Spring, think about jumping into the fray now or soon before you have LOTS of other competition from other sellers in the late Spring and early Summer markets.
Exploring home sales over $500K, we see that home sales levels in 2014 stayed relatively on track with where they were in 2013....
Despite the drop from 20 to 18 sales over $500K, the $600K+ market stayed completely stable....
And the sale of $700K+ homes actually increased....
As a side note, you may recall that 2014 marked the first $1M+ home sale (in the MLS) since 2010.
Looking for a full listing of all the $500K homes currently for sale? Check out HarrisonburgLuxuryHomes.com.
Most buyers (67%) have to compromise in some way when it comes to finding the home of their dreams. Most (23%) of those buyers who compromise do so on price, though many (20%) compromise on home size, and quite a few (18%) compromise on the condition of the home.
Of note, most buyers do not seem willing to compromise on the neighborhood or location where they purchase.
OK, here it comes, a long one, folks....everything (or close to it) you need to know about buyer representation....
THE HOME BUYING PROCESS
Purchasing a home can be fun, exciting, thrilling, and fulfilling….but that very same process can also have its moments of being hard, frustrating, disappointing and overwhelming. In my role as a Buyer's Agent, I will be working with you through the entire home buying process to make it as educational and stress-free as possible.
The very first step in this process is for us to discuss your needs, goals, dreams and desires. This may involve specifics such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, or may focus more on the layout of homes, the feel of a neighborhood, and the long term plans for your growing family. I will be focusing on listening well, and hearing what it is you are working to achieve with our home purchase – and then helping to identify the best housing options for accomplishing those goals.
An important, parallel, part of starting the home buying process is to identify a target price range. This can best be determined through consultation with a reputable, local mortgage lender (just ask… I know who they are) but will involve more than just determining the highest priced home that they would allow you to purchase. It will be important to consider both your purchasing power, and your goals for how your housing costs will fit into your overall budget. You will also talk with your mortgage lender about how different loan programs might work better (or worse) for your situation.
Once we have a shared understanding of what you are hoping to purchase, and we know what the price tag can and should look like, we can start to evaluate homes that are currently on the market. This will usually start online, perhaps through an exchange of emails, and saving some searches in your account on my web site. Then, you might choose to drive by some of the prospects before determining a list of homes to go view – or you may be ready to start seeing all of the homes on the list right away. As we view this first set of homes, we will learn a lot – about the opportunities in the market, and about your preferences.
If we don't identify a home after looking at all of the homes on the market that seem to offer what you are looking for in a new home, we will either re-evaluate our criteria to expand our search, or we will wait to view new listings that come on the market. This extended home search process might take us weeks, or months, depending on the type of property you are hoping to purchase, and how often such a property becomes available. All along the way, I'll be following up on previous homes we have viewed to let you know if their prices have dropped, and will be letting you know of new opportunities as soon as those houses hit the market.
Once we have identified the home you are hoping to purchase, we will prepare to make an offer. This will include researching similar home sales to guide our discussions of price, creating a negotiation strategy, and preparing and reviewing the pertinent contract documents. There is quite a bit of paperwork involved in making an offer on a home, and I want to make sure that you understand these contract documents and make sure that we have drafted them in a way to protect your best interests.
Negotiating the final deal on the property you purchase may take a few hours, or a few days. We may go back and forth with the seller on price alone, or on many terms of the contract such as timing, contingencies, and more. Once we have a final agreement, all parties will sign and initial the final documents, and we will have a full ratified contract.
Immediately following the ratification of the contract, we will need to schedule and perform a home inspection and radon inspection (assuming you are conducting both) to learn more about the property you are purchasing. If these inspections reveal new (detrimental) information about the property, we will have the opportunity to request that the seller make repairs to the property, which may result in a renegotiation on price. Typically, we are able to work through this second round of negotiations relatively quickly, so long as the seller is being realistic and rational given the new information about their property.
Simultaneously with conducting these inspections, you will need to be starting the financing process to work towards obtaining full loan approval. This will start with signing your loan application and paying any applicable loan application or appraisal fees. Your lender will then be diligently working to further qualify you as a purchaser as well as the property via an appraisal. You will be providing many documents to your lender during this process as they work towards securing a loan for you to purchase the property.
Within the first few weeks after your contract is in place, we will need to select service providers to coordinate the additional aspects of your home purchase. This will include a settlement agent or attorney who will conduct a title search of the property and prepare all documents for your settlement. You will also need to set up a new homeowners insurance policy on your new property, as well as schedule utility service to start in your name as of the settlement date.
We'll now be just a few weeks before closing, and the final pre-settlement details will include reviewing the settlement statement (which shows all of the funds coming into and going out of the closing), conducting a final walk though of the property (to confirm the condition is as we expect it to be), and obtaining a cashier's check to bring the necessary funds to settlement. All of the details should be falling in place now, and if all goes well, we will be set for an on-time settlement.
In nearly all real estate transactions (in this area) at your real estate closing you will sign all of the loan and settlement documents as well as receive the keys to your new property. The house will now be your new home, and you can take possession and starting moving in immediately after settlement. Later that day, the settlement agent will record the deed at the courthouse that officially transfers ownership of the property into your name.
You are bound to have questions about the home buying process – before you begin, as we go, and even after settlement. I am here to answer all of those questions, or to guide you to the professional who can. There is plenty to learn about the home buying process, and I am here to help guide you through it and to help you make excellent decisions about your purchase of a home.
FOUR TYPES OF BUYER REPRESENTATION
Exclusive Representation: The Seller and Buyer are exclusively represented by separate Agents and separate Firms. The Agent and the Firm are solely representing the interests of their respective clients. This representation arrangement is created through a written Exclusive or Non-Exclusive Brokerage Agreement.
OK.....who made it to the bottom? If so, and if you still have questions? Let me know, and we can chat briefly -- by phone, email, or in person.
More soon, on everything you need to know about buying a home.
How does the home inspection process work? Can I (as a buyer) walk for any reason if I don't like the results? Does the seller have to fix everything I complain about?
Take a look at how the process typically works to understand how things might work out for you....
Fear not, you will still (likely) be able to obtain an interest rate below 4%. That said, rates have ended up a bit over the past month -- now close to 3.9%.
Showings do not always result in offers -- but absent showings, offers are quite unlikely. :)
Recent months have been quite encouraging as to the number of showings compared to the same month a year ago....
May it continue, especially with this beautiful warm weather we're experiencing this week!
Keep your finger on the pulse of new listings in Harrisonburg (and Rockingham County) by exploring the most recent listings at....
Six months of housing supply is considered to be an indicator of a balanced housing market. That is to say that if we look at the average number of buyers buying per month (I prefer to look at it over a 12 month period) and then divide that into the number of active listings in that price range....
As shown above, we're in a relatively well balanced state in the "$0 - $200K" price range (we have been for a while now) and we have recently become much more balanced in the $300K - $400K price range due to some recent recovery in that segment of our local market.
This might surprise you, but the price range that has seen the most significant year-over-year increase in the pace of home sales is homes priced between $300K and $400K.
Anyone want to volunteer some theories on why we're seeing this recovery in this price range at this time in the market?
Read more about our local housing market in my monthly market report. Jump to the full online market report, or download the PDF....
Learn more about this month's Featured Property: 12108 Rabbits Foot Road
I just published my monthly report on the Harrisonburg and Rockingham County real estate market. Jump to the full online market report, or download the PDF, or read on for highlights....
First, the big picture trends thus far this year show signs of a healthy, growing market....
Both January and February of this year appear as "middle of the pack" months when put in the context of 2012, 2013 and 2014. The sales trajectory we see in March and April will be a good indicator of how the rest of this year will turn out. Last year, we experienced somewhat slower than expected home sales all the way until May when the monthly sales pace started popping up above previous years. I am hopeful we will see an earlier start to the 2015 market.
Hooray for lots of buyers in February 2015 -- signing contracts, that is. A whopping 98 contracts were signed in February 2015, compared to only 75 last February. This is an excellent indicator that we should see strong (closed) sales activity in March and April of this year.
As shown above, inventory levels continued to decline (slightly) over the past month -- and are now down 1.6% as compared to a year ago at this time. We are likely to see these inventory levels start to rise over the next few months.
OK, now for some action items....
SELLERS: All of the snow in your yard should be melted within 24 to 48 hours. If you are going to be listing your home for sales this Spring, consider trying to get the advantage of getting your house on the market early, when you'll have less competition from other sellers. Let's meet (soon!) to discuss timing, pricing, marketing and what else you should consider doing to prepare your home for the market.
BUYERS: We will see lots of exciting listings coming on the market in the next 30 - 60 days. Are you ready? Have you talked to a lender to become prequalified? Have we met to discuss your hopes, goals and dreams and your next home? Let's start looking at some houses now so that when your dream house comes on the market you have a good context for whether it is a good deal or a great deal.
Above all, if you will be buying or selling soon, I encourage you to become a student of the housing market. Learn what has been happening recently, what is happening now, and what is likely to happen next. Being informed will allow you to make better real estate decisions. You can continue your studies by reading the entire March 2015 market report online, or by downloading the PDF.
Also, if you're interested in working with me to buy or sell a home in Harrisonburg or Rockingham County, you can always reach me at scott@HarrisonburgHousingToday.com or 540-578-0102.
Based on enrollment projections approved by the State Council of High Education for Virginia and published by JMU, on campus enrollment is set to continue to increase in coming years, surpassing 20K students for the first time in the 2017-18 academic year.
Of the variety of different figures that exist within the enrollment projections, the "Total On-Campus Headcount" is typically seen as the most pertinent relative to our local housing market. This figure is the best reflection of the number of students who will need housing, either on JMU campus, or off campus. These figures, and their changes over time, are the best numbers to be using when analyzing the need for off campus student housing in Harrisonburg.
Read more about student housing in Harrisonburg, past, present and future here.
Have you heard? We might get another 6 inches of snow!?!
I have met with a variety of homeowners over the past two weeks who are planning to put their houses on the market "this Spring" -- though the timing is coming into question, with this snow that just won't seem to melt. And....we're apparently going to get some more tomorrow.
Which begs the question - are we seeing significantly lower inventory levels than we usually see at this time of year based on the snowfall? In short, not necessarily. Above, you'll see that current inventory levels (546 homes for sale) are just about the same spot they were a year ago. Though, you might recall that we also had a rather bitter winter last year -- so perhaps these 550/546 level is a depressed level compared to a normal level of around 600 - 650 based on 2012 and 2013?
All I can say is that I'll be glad (as will my seller clients) when the snow has all come and gone, and the grass starts getting greener, and the flowers start to bloom.
This calculator on the NY Times website (find it here) is the most detailed such calculator that I have seen in a long time. It takes many (MANY!) factors into account.
If you're torn as to whether to buy or rent, feel free to check out the calculator, or set up a time to meet with me and we can discuss it together.
How did buyer activity and seller activity compare in January 2015?
And focusing in on those buyers, what exactly did they buy last month?
Looking back at sales in recent months we find that....
Sales during 4 out of the last 5 months exceeded sales in the same month from the prior year, with January 2015 being even with January 2014.
The current month, however, has thus far not been as exciting. We'll need to see quite a few more sales recorded in the MLS over the next few days (that closed in February) in order to come up on par with last February.
Stay tuned for my monthly market report, or feel free to catch up by reviewing last months' market report.
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