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!
Rockingham County, Virginia (not including the City of Harrisonburg) is comprised of (approximately) 46,600 parcels of real estate. Some of these lots or tracts are very small, in towns such as Grottoes, Dayton or Elkton. Others are quite expansive and are in the far flung corners of the County. Below is a visual representation of the distribution of lot sizes of those 46,600 properties --- you might need to click on this link to view the full size document for easier reading.
Here's the summary:
Every five years (or so) the Harrisonburg Redevelopment and Housing Authority conducts a detailed analysis of City housing. In 2005, S. Patz & Associates, Inc conducted the analysis, available here: Citywide Housing Analysis for Harrisonburg, Virginia.
One interesting "housing issue" that is identified as affecting the City of Harrisonburg was identified in the 2000 analysis, and re-confirmed in the 2005 analysis:
"The loss of new construction of higher price new homes to sites in Rockingham County, while the City continues to attract only more modest single family detached and attached homes."
I had never considered that this might be occuring --- that most higher price new homes were being built in Rockingham County instead of in the City of Harrisonburg --- but it makes sense, because undeveloped land is generally quite scarce in the City of Harrisonburg.
To confirm (or reject) this conclusion, let's take a look at the homes that have sold each year since 2000, that were built within 3 years of when they were sold (thus, new-ish homes)....
First, here's the break down of where all of these homes sold....
You'll note that the majority of the new-ish homes that were sold (and thus purchased) where in Harrisonburg, as opposed to in Rockingham County with a Harrisonburg address.
Now, let's look at "large" new-ish homes, those with 2500+ square feet....
Here we do indeed find the phenomenon that the report described --- almost all of the large (and thus expensive) homes were built just outside Harrisonburg, and not within the City limits.
Of note --- the City of Harrisonburg identifies this phenomenon as an "issue" because....
"An objective for the City is to help support development of higher priced/higher rent housing to provide a better mix of housing types and income levels in the City."
For even more reading, read the full housing analysis!
As a seller, which would you rather have?
This is a very realistic trade off in pricing in the current market in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County. In summary, we've seen the following over the past three years:
The problem, of course, is that if you price the home lower, you'll see an increase in traffic --- but any prospective buyers making an offer on your home will still want to negotiate down on price. Best case scenario -- they realize that it's a deal even at asking price, and eventually agree to a selling price very close to list price. Worst case scenario -- they remain insistent that they should be able to negotiate more in the current market, and ignore the deal they are thus passing up based on other recent sales.
What do you think? How would you price your home?
Related: Pricing Competitively, But With Room To Negotiate
Click here to view updated construction photos, showcasing the nearly-complete Urban Exchange! Both buildings (East and West) are now open, as of this pats Thursday.
Gym equipment will be delivered in the next few days, and the final construction details will be finalized.
To see the exciting developments at Urban Exchange for yourself, feel free to swing by our Leasing Center --- we're open nearly every day of the week from 12p - 5p. Or, call Mary to schedule at 877-548-3831.
PLEASE NOTE: This post has been updated since it was originally published to reflect my now more thorough understanding of this issue based on additional input from some of the fine administrators from JMU.
I frequently receive questions from the parents of JMU students asking whether they can buy a property in Harrisonburg as an investment property in order to qualify for in-state tuition rates. If this seems like a far-fetched idea, check out the difference in tuition....
First -- if you want to start with the exact details, please check out the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) web site where they provide a lengthy set of "Domicile Guidelines."
OK -- here we go, the bottom line is that if a student arrives in Virginia in August, is enrolled in JMU and continues to be enrolled in JMU (fall and spring semesters) for several years, then the presumption is still that they are in Virginia for education and not as "bona fide" domiciles.
So...how could a student establish themselves as a domicile in order to enjoy the in-state tuition rates?
Of note, SCHEV lists a variety of criteria that may indicate domiciliary intent, but these actions are not determinate in themselves:
My conclusion is this --- even if a student buys a house (or townhouse or condo) in Harrisonburg, lives in it, works in Virginia, pays income taxes in Virginia, has a car registered in Virginia, has a Virginia driver's license, votes in Virginia, intends to stay in Virginia after graduation, and is independent from their parents, that still doesn't necessarily mean that they will qualify for in-state tuition. The issue, again, is that it will be difficult to prove domiciliary intent when the move to Virginia and continued residency in Virginia is so immediately and directly tied to attending JMU.
PLEASE NOTE: This is not an official interpretation of Virginia Domicile Requirements, it is solely my interpretation of SCHEV's guidelines to provide a hopefully-useful summary for you. If you have questions about these issues, contact the following people depending on your scenario....
As the construction of Urban Exchange nears completion, I am again reminded of the "vision book" entitled "urban values and vision for downtown harrisonburg."
This work was created by Eugene Stoltzfus Architects at the request of the Economic Development Committee of Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance, and is a contribution to the ongoing exploration of ideas for the revitalization of downtown Harrisonburg.
In addition to some intriguing renderings to help us imagine the future of downtown Harrisonburg, the vision book also provides 23 guiding values for the revitalization of downtown Harrisonburg.
Review the entire book by Eugene Stoltzfus Architects by clicking here, or using the file embedded below...
In a conversation a week or so ago with a potential client, we were discussing in generalities the "high-end" home market in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County. I say we were discussing it in generalities because we both had some basic understandings of and assumptions about this upper segment of our local housing market, but our conversations weren't based on facts and numbers --- which is my preference.
To examine these luxury homes, I started by examining sales over the past 5-ish years (since 2005) of homes that sold above $500,000.
It quickly became evident that most home sales were in the $500k - $750k range, but the price range of interest was actually homes above $800k. Let's look a bit closer...
As you can see (click the "Scribd" icon in the upper left corner of the graph to see it more clearly), there aren't too many home sales above $800,000 in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County. Other than the record of eight sales in 2007, there are usually only 1 or 2 sales in this price range per year.
Let's look a bit closer at the 14 home sales above $800,000 since 2005 to see what it is that can draw such a high sales price....
As is seen above, most homes selling over $800,000 were built in the last ten years, though there was one that was older than 75 years (built in 1858). Next, let's look at the land that came with these homes....
As seen above, most of these upper end homes were sold with less than 10 acres, with five of them being on subdivision-like lots (less than 2 acres), and two being on tracts of land greater than 25 acres. Finally, let's examine how long it takes for these homes to sell....
While there were some homes that sold in less than six months, the majority took 6 months, 12 months, or even longer to sell.
Curious about more details of these 14 home sales above $800,000 in Harrisonburg & Rockingham County over the past five years? Feel free to review or download the document below.
Finally, below you will find the nine homes priced above $800,000 that are currently on the market for sale. You'll note that there are not any homes priced between $800k and $900k. In fact, most are priced above $1 million dollars!
Let me know if you have any questions, about this upper end of the market, or otherwise.
Embedded below is my full report on the Harrisonburg and Rockingham County real estate market as of July 2009. Click the link below to read the report, and please use the comment section below to provide me with feedback or to ask any clarifying questions.
July 2009 Harrisonburg & Rockingham County Real Estate Market Report
Click here to download the full report as a PDF.
Well, actually, I'm not --- but as each week passes, the number of people who can make that statement is growing as Urban Exchange residents move in.
More on that in a moment, but first, some very interesting historical context....
I referred to the Citywide Housing Analysis for Harrisonburg, Virginia a few weeks ago, and here are some additional excerpts from that 2005 report, related to downtown housing....
"Harrisonburg's Plan for Downtown (2002) targets professional households for an emergent downtown housing market, particularly young singles and couples without children that would find condominium and luxury rental apartments amenable in a high amenity/high access environment."
The growing number of people leasing apartments at Urban Exchange is showing that there is indeed an emergent (emerged?) downtown housing market.
"Demand at the luxury scale will remain latent until the downtown reaches a critical mass of new attractive but more modest units plus commercial and arts amenities."
Given the number of people leasing at the Urban Exchange (which are luxury apartments), I don't think we can describe the demand as latent anymore. So....does that mean that downtown Harrisonburg has reached a critical mass of commercial and arts amenities??
"With a modest beginning, and implementation of other downtown projects, the downtown should support 10 to 15 new upscale multi-family units annually over the next five years."
Admittedly, Urban Exchange is being developed at the tail end of the 2005-2010 time frame referenced here, but certainly the demand for downtown living was grossly underestimated in this 2005 report.
Urban Exchange is comprised of 96 apartments in the East Wing (roughly 90% leased to date), and 98 apartments in the West Wing (roughly 45% leased to date).
"According to the 2000 census, and documented in the Plan For Downtown, the downtown area contained 260 households with 590 residents."
Even aside from other recent downtown developments, Urban Exchange will contribute 194 households (75% increase), and the potential for 375 new residents (64% increase). So, your next question might be....
Who are all of these people deciding to live in downtown Harrisonburg??
We'll be working to answer that more thoroughly in the weeks to come, but here are some examples of the Urban Exchange tenants that we have met over the past week:
Here's an interesting conundrum for a home seller...
Let's suppose, for a moment, that recently sold properties suggest that a home has a value of $250,000. Competitive pricing would, perhaps, mean pricing your home between $240k and $255k. With elevated inventory levels, you must stand out on price, being seen as a good buying opportunity. But then, when a buyer comes along, they'll likely want to negotiate you down $10k - $15k, or even more.
If you priced the home at $260k or $265k to leave yourself room to come down $10k to $15k, you likely wouldn't have near the interest as compared to pricing the home at $249k. But if you price the home at $249k, you certainly won't be excited about coming down to $239k or lower.
Suggestion #1 -- Use other "for sale" properties as a guideline. If comparable properties are available for $240k-$249k, you'll need to price your home lower, but if comparable properties are priced between $260k and $270k, you can likely get away with a higher asking price.
Suggestion #2 -- Price your home "just above" the value suggested by recently sold homes. If that value is $250k, consider a price of $254,500, or something in that general range.
Pricing is always an essential component of marketing a home to sell --- and in a fluctuating market, it becomes even more difficult than usual!
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