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!
It shouldn't be a surprise that a landscaping company would be a good source of information about living green --- but despite that, I was delighted to find some good reading about green living in Fine Earth's most recent newsletter.
Fine Earth is one of many landscaping companies in Harrisonburg, and according to their web site, they are in the business of "creating outdoor solutions that complement your lifestyle."
Click here, or on the image, to read the full newsletter.
Who new!? I drive by this location several times a week, and never would have known!
According to the March 29, 2008 issue of the Daily News Record, sometime between in the 1930-1960 vicinity, a landfill existed near the intersection of Reservoir Street and Myers Avenue.
The precise location of the landfill isn't clear, but read the article for a bit more information about the location and history.
From my March article in the Shenandoah Valley Business Journal . . .
Cycles exist in every real estate market across the country, and the Shenandoah Valley is no different. Thus, it is essential that buyers and sellers have a firm understanding of their segment of our local market. To better understand our current market, here is a look at several different perspectives:
How Many Buyers Feel . . .
Even if buyers want or need to purchase, many are still hesitant to move forward with an offer and a purchase, and here are a few reasons why:
What Buyers Should Realize . . .
Some buyers have started to realize that now can be a good time to buy because:
How Many Sellers Feel . . .
Depending on the price range, and location of a seller's house, and their timetable, a seller may be thinking:
What Sellers Should Realize . . .
Some sellers would like to believe it is always a good time to sell, but I would purport that:
Some Conclusions . . .
Here is some time-proven buying and selling advice buyers and sellers should consider:
Late notice, I know, but on Monday, March 31, 2008 at 10:00 a.m. the groundbreaking will take place for East Rockingham High School and River Bend Elementary School. The location (14652 Rockingham Pike, Elkton, VA) is indicated below.
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Due to a schedule conflict, I will not be able to attend. If anyone makes it, let me know how it goes, or e-mail me some photos!
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Source: Daily News Record, 3/24/2008
Trustee: Samuel I. White, 757-457-1460
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Source: Daily News Record, 3/25/2008
Trustee: Shapiro & Burson, LLP, 757-687-8822
We constantly hear national statistics and and stories on the news about the national housing market. On this blog, I endeavor to provide helpful analysis of our local housing market --- since it often is characterized by very different trends than other parts of the country.
But, at least for a day, I will be abandoning my local focus . . .
Tomorrow, I will have the opportunity to learn firsthand about the national housing market, and where we may be headed.
Along with four other Virginia Realtor bloogers, I will be having lunch with Dr. Lawrence Yun, the chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, who was recently named (by USA Today) as one of America's top 10 economists.
The City of Harrisonburg is accepting bids on the two parcels of R-2 land labeled below. The first parcel (labeled "1" below) contains 3.119 acres. The second parcel (labeled "2" below) contains 5.018 acres.
This land, zoned R-2, provides for a great residential development opportunity --- a convenient location close to Route 11, Route 42, Port Republic Road, Keister Elementary, and more.
Bids will be accepted until 9:00AM on April 8, 2008, and the bids will be opened at the City Council meeting at 7:00PM on April 8, 2008.
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This house is currently on the market --- click here for details.
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Source: Daily News Record, 3/22/08
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Source: Daily News Record, 3/22/2008
Many sellers think so.....but I rarely meet buyers who think so.
You have likely heard of incentives that sellers offer buyers, such as:
But wait --- all such logic goes out the window given the negotiation process! For instance, it is quite possible that when presented with an offer, the seller of the house without free trash service might come off of their price by $8,000, while the seller of the house with free trash service might not negotiate at all. As becomes clear --- the existence of a buyer incentive does not at all guarantee a better opportunity for the buyer --- and buyers know this!
Additionally, buyers can ask for and attempt to negotiate any term they so desire in a contract. If you want free trash service from a seller who isn't offering it --- ask! If you want closing costs from a seller who isn't offering them --- ask! I rarely find a buyer who is bashful to include such concessions in an offer, even if it is not being advertised by the seller as being possible. Thus, the non-existence of a buyer incentive doesn't mean that the concession won't happen --- and buyers know this!
A few final notes . . .
I am delighted to be a part of marketing and selling the Urban Exchange project --- an exciting new construction project in downtown Harrisonburg featuring retail space on the first floor and almost 200 apartments and condos.
The photo below shows the excavation progress (these aren't just really deep footers, there will be two levels of underground covered parking). See more photos of the progress by clicking here.
As a proud (two-time) JMU alumni, I'm excited to wish JMU a Happy 100th Birthday!
More details on the festivities are here . . .
Click the image above for a printable version of this fantastic photo --- formed by several thousand members of the JMU community (students, faculty, staff, administration, etc).
Housing supply in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County is high in many price ranges, and has been for many months now. As a result, some sellers are anxious to sell their homes, and some buyers are hesitant to commit to buying. It has become a standoff of sorts!
Additionally, some buyers are having difficulty obtaining financing, as many loan programs have disappeared, or become more restrictive (100% financing, for example).
These factors have prompted some buyers to pursue a rent-to-own opportunity, where they would rent a property for a period of time before they purchase it. Sellers aren't always thrilled about the possibility, but some are willing to explore it. Let's take a look at it from a few perspectives:
Buyers are typically most excited about obtaining new housing without closing costs, a mortgage, or a long-term commitment. A buyer can, at some point in the future buy the home in which they have been living, without physically moving, and often at a sales price determined at the start of the rental relationship. Aside from the missed opportunity of tax savings, paying down mortgage principal, and appreciation --- a rent-to-own opportunity generally works well for a buyer.
Sellers are often very lackluster about the opportunity to lease their property to a buyer and then (possibly) sell it to them at some point in the future, for good reason. Often, the future purchase price is fixed, which eliminates the seller benefit of increases in property values. A buyer typically is not required to buy the property, and thus the seller may be back in the same situation of needing to sell, when the buyer's lease term or option period comes to an end. They only positive aspect of a rent-to-own scenario for a seller is the fact that someone starts providing incremental income immediately. Cash flow can sometimes drive a seller to commit to a rent-to-own relationship.
If both the buyer(tenant) and seller are willing to explore a rent to own agreement, here are some of the main questions to consider:
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Source: Daily News Record, 3/11/08
Don't miss the Harrisonburg Planning Commission public hearing meeting on Wednesday, March 12 at 7:00 p.m. in the City Council Chambers at 409 South Main Street.
As usual, it's not easy to tell what some of the proposals actually mean --- but I have included a summary and explanation of the ones that I can decipher, and I welcome anyone else's insight. Again, the information below is what I can piece together about the proposals from various sources. Attend the meeting to find out more about the proposals, or to voice your support or concerns.
As you consider buying a newly constructed home, it is important to be aware of what is often referred to as a one-year builder warranty.
Technically, what we are referring to are "Implied warranties on new homes" per Virginia statute 55-70.1.
What is covered by the warranty?
The builder warrants that the "dwelling with all its fixtures is, to the best of the actual knowledge of the vendor or his agents, sufficiently (i) free from structural defects, so as to pass without objection in the trade, and (ii) constructed in a workmanlike manner, so as to pass without objection in the trade." Essentially, no structural defects, and workmanlike construction.
When does the one year start?
The earlier of when the title is transferred, or when the buyer takes possession of the property.
I bought a house three months ago and have discovered structural defects. The builder is telling me a warranty doesn't exist, because "as is" was written into the contract. Is this possible?
It is possible to modify or exclude the Virginia statute based implied warranty. However --- it is likely that the builder did not follow the statute when selling the property to you as is.
To sell a new property "as is" and exclude the implied home warranty, the fact that the house is being sold "as is" must be written on the face of the contract, in capital letters, in a font size at least two points larger than the other type in the contract. This doesn't happen too often.
I have a structural issue, what do I do?
The statute specifies that you have a cause of action against the builder, but that you must first notify the builder of the defect and allow them a reasonable period of time (no longer than six months) to cure the defect.
What about the foundation?
The foundation is warrantied for five years (instead of just one) --- though if a foundation issue exists, it must be reported to the builder within two years of when it is discovered.
The Virginia statute keeps referring to a "structural defect" --- what is that?
Per the code, "a defect or defects that reduce the stability or safety of the structure below accepted standards or that restrict the normal use thereof." Yes, that is about as vague as you can get.
My builder is asking me to sign a warranty document at closing --- why? And should I sign it?
First, take time to read the document. In most cases, such a document includes verbiage that limits the (vague) rights you would have had under the broad Virginia statute. Builders ask buyers to sign these documents to narrow the scope of buyer's possible warranty requests --- and this desire often comes from past buyers who have been unreasonable in asking the builder to address cosmetic (or other non-structural) issues within the first year.
If the document only includes language that restricts or eliminates your rights under the broad Virginia statute, kindly refuse to sign the document. Unless all parties agreed in the sales contract that a warranty document would be signed at closing, the builder can not require you to sign the document --- it is imposing a new contract term on the buyer, when that was not included in the original negotiations.
One caveat --- sometimes the document serves both the builder and the buyer --- it can do so by specifically stating items that the builder will indeed repair that might otherwise be in a gray area given the vague nature of the Virginia statute.
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