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!
Home & Garden Show booth for The Gaines Group
As home values softened (declined) over the past six years, an increasing number of homeowners who would have considered selling their home and buying a new one found themselves improving their existing home instead. If you aren't going to be selling your home in the near future, you might do well to consider making some improvements to it that will make it a more comfortable / exciting / convenient place to live.
And if you are considering some improvements to your home (inside or out) over the next year (or if you might buy or build a home) you DEFINITELY want to stop by this weekend's Home & Garden Show. This gives you the opportunity (in a condensed time period) to meet firsthand the contractors, suppliers and professionals that you may decide to hire in the coming year.
Beyond why you might decide to come, here are the pertinent details once you have made the decision to attend....
Friday 4 PM - 8 PM
Saturday 10 AM - 8 PM
Sunday 12 PM - 5 PM
Admission = $5/person (children under 12 are free)
Home Show Web Site: HomeShow2012.com
As per the Daily News Record today, the Finance Committee for Rockingham County has proposed an increase of the real estate tax rate --- from $0.60 per $100 of assessed value up to $0.64 per $100 of assessed value.
Here's how that would impact a few different price ranges of homes....
In many ways, it is actually surprising that we haven't seen an increase in tax rates before now --- many localities across the country have been forced to do so in order to continue to pay for public services.
Click here for the full article from the Daily News Record.
As per the Daily News Record this morning, Harrisonburg may soon (2014) have its first gated community featuring luxury apartments. Most of these apartments (~70%) would be one bedroom apartments and would be geared towards "transient professionals" per the developer, Dain Hammond.
The 200+ unit development on six acres at the corner of Port Republic Road and Stone Spring Road would feature a triangular, 4-story building with a large courtyard and pool in the center of the building.
"Hammond envisions the development appealing to renters seeking upscale short-term housing. That would include RMH doctors who may perform surgeries at the hospital a few times a week and need a nearby "crash pad," or a visiting professor at James Madison University for a year, he explained. "It's more for the transient' professional," Hammond said. "That's our target demographic."
Read the full Daily News Record article here.
Today's local real estate news.....is not at all related to real estate. Instead, it's a reminder of a resource that may be helpful to you and your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers.
Four years ago (+/-) I designed a web site with a friend (Adina Bailey) called TakeThemAMeal.com --- it's a free online tool used to coordinate the delivery of meals to someone who is in need.
I'm mentioning the web site today because TakeThemAMeal.com users have reached a significant milestone -- over 1 MILLION MEALS have now been coordinated through TakeThemAMeal.com.
Click here to read more about these one million meals and about TakeThemAMeal.com.
Tomorrow, we'll be back to local real estate news....
As more (potential) good news for our growing local job market, it looks like CarMax may be opening in Harrisonburg sometime in the near future.
From the record of Harrisonburg Property Transfers last week.....
South Main Ford LLC to CarMax Auto Superstores Inc. a parcel of land on the northwestern side of South Main Street, south of West Mosby Road, $2,900,000.
This follows the recent news of Dick's Sporting Goods coming to Harrisonburg.
As a point of clarification, the title of this article is not an indication that I am willing to bet $2.9M that CarMax is coming to Harrisonburg. ;)
In another sign of potential stabilization of the housing market in Virginia, home sales rose 8.6% in February 2012 as compared to one year prior. This strong increase is after a 2.7% year-over-year increase in January 2012. Virginia's unemployment rate of 5.8% in January is the lowest level seen since December 2008 and provides a strong climate for growth in the housing market.
Download the full February 2012 Virginia Home Sales Report below which also highlights:
THIS SATURDAY, enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour of over 15 sites featuring downtown's energy efficient buildings, ongoing historic preservation, local food, and open green spaces. Demonstrations and presentations at select locations.
Guided Tours will start at 1:30PM and 3:30PM, starting at the Turner Pavilion (Harrisonburg Farmers Market) and led by the Shenandoah Valley Builders Associations' Green Building Committee.
The self-guided tours include:
And, there will even be children's activities at the Turner Pavilion and at select venues downtown!
Click on the image below for the tour brochure with a map.
Click here for an article about the tour from the Staunton News Leader.
This was a great tip that Oguz Sengul (Wells Fargo Home Mortgage) shared with me yesterday....
As shown above, sometimes even with a lower rate (4.000% via the FHA loan program), sometimes you will have better financing terms with a higher rate (4.125% as a conventional loan).
You need to be checking both the interest rate as well as the payment. Higher up front fees and higher monthly mortgage insurance costs can make the FHA loan program less affordable than a conventional loan if you have at least a 5% down payment.
Disclaimer from Wells Fargo: Interest rates displayed above require that you pay 1% of your loan amount toward the loan origination charge.
Yes, you heard me correctly -- there are fewer homes on the market than we have seen anytime in the past four years.
The inventory data above is current as of a few days ago when I published my monthly market report. At that time there were 665 homes on the market --- fewer than anytime in the last four years, including any of the winter months over the past few years.
Inventory is starting to pick up a bit (678 as of this morning) but there are still fewer homes on the market than we've seen in a while. This certainly helps sellers, as there is less competition -- though it is certainly still a buyer's market.
photo source: erix
The local housing market is improving (sales up, prices up) but as someone pointed out to me earlier this week, that's not necessarily good news for everyone. But I do think it's good news for just about everyone.
Certainly, it's good news for sellers -- they're now more likely to be able to sell, and don't have to worry (as much) about their home losing even more value before they sell.
Certainly, it's good news for homeowners -- the value of their home now seems to be stabilizing.
It's mixed news for near-term buyers -- it might mean that there are fewer deals to be had in the coming months, but since they're buying soon they can console themselves with the realization that their newly purchased property is not likely to continue to decline in value after their purchase.
It is bad news for far-future buyers -- if you're not buying for a few years, it is understandable (sort of) that you'd like the market to get worse, so that you would have better buying opportunities.
So, what about you? Are you glad the housing market is improving?
Good news! With two months of 2012 under our belts, our local housing market is showing signs of continued stability and growth. Click here to jump to the PDF of the full market report, or keep reading.
As shown above, the pace of YTD home sales has increased 8% from 78 home sales (Jan-Feb 2011) to 84 home sales (Jan-Feb 2012). Furthermore, the YTD median sales price has increased 3%, and the average sales price has increased by 4%. After quite a few years of seeing declines in median and average sales prices, this is a welcome change!. The time it takes to sell a home, however, is still on the rise --- showing a 27% YTD increase.
February 2012 was another strong month of buyer activity, with 80 buyers signing contracts to buy homes. This marks a significant 16% increase over last February -- and even comes close to the summer months of 2011.
Remarkably, even now through the beginning of March, there are fewer and fewer homes for buyers to select from in our local market. Inventory levels have dropped 18% over the past year --- from 807 homes down to 665 homes. Typically we start to see an increase at this time of year, but I welcome these lower inventory levels, as it can help our market to continue to stabilize.
After many years of a declining pace of home sales, we have now seen a reversal in this trend over the past eight months as the annualized pace of sales has increased from 706 sales/year to 800 sales/year. This is welcome news, and likely contributes to the relative stability in annualized median sales prices that we have seen over the past four months.
There is plenty more to read, analyze and understand. Click here (or on the market report cover above) to download my full monthly market report.
And -- if you have questions about the local housing market, or if I can be of assistance to you with real estate that you own, or that you'd like to own, please be in touch. You can reach me most easily at 540-578-0102 or scott@HarrisonburgHousingToday.com.
It sure doesn't seem that we're having six more weeks of winter weather. But we certainly ARE having (at least) six more weeks of winter-like levels of housing inventory.
In fact, current inventory levels (664 homes) are lower than anytime in at least the past four years. Even in the coldest of months over the past four years, we have not seen inventory levels so low. Here's some perspective....
March 2008 = 814 homes for sale
March 2009 = 838 homes for sale
March 2010 = 863 homes for sale
March 2011 = 807 homes for sale
TODAY = 664 homes for sale
OK, seriously, why the winter-like levels of housing inventory? Inventory levels fell below 700 for the first time in a long while back in December, and they are not yet showing any signs of recovering.
OK, so perhaps homelessness amongst local college students is an imaginary problem --- but if it were an issue, local student housing developers are certainly being VERY proactive in making sure there will be plenty of housing for college students for a LONG time into the future.
Per the Daily News Record yesterday, the student housing project on Stone Spring Road is now underway again after having stalled for several years. When it stalled, I had hoped that the developers (both local and out of state) had seen the light and realized that the local student housing market was oversaturated. But alas, these facts don't seem to be influencing their decisions. From the DNR article....
Harman (the local developer) said he's not concerned about the potential surplus of student beds. "We're just building our project," he said. "I'm not paying attention to what everybody else is doing."
As a side note, that does seem to be a winning strategy, as many or most of the newer complexes have not had any issues in becoming fully leased.
So, why am I a bit less than neutral on this news? Well, the student housing market is a bit out of kilter (supply exceeds demand) and this new development will tip it even further out of balance. An out of balance market tends to be an unhealthy market, and in this case it can negatively affect individual property owners (in student complexes) much more than it will ultimately affect larger corporate owners of student housing.
For further reading.....
Here's a reminder of how the typical home inspection process works in Virginia....
And a brief reminder of a few of the timing issues.....
To map this all out, here's how long a home inspection contingency could really take....
Yes, that innocuous 14 day inspection contingency can really turn into a month!
Types of Investment Properties in Harrisonburg
Overview of Real Estate Investing in Harrisonburg
Reasonable Goals for Buying an Investment Property in Harrisonburg
Everything You Need To Know About Buying An Investment Property in Harrisonburg, Virginia
Buying real estate for your son or daughter to live in while they attend JMU
Analyzing Investment Properties
Three ways to buy a foreclosure in Harrisonburg or Rockingham County, and how to find such opportunities
OK, that's probably not EVERYTHING you need to know, but I hope it is a good start towards it. If you are ready to consider buying an investment property, please e-mail me (scott@HarrisonburgHousingToday.com) or call me (540-578-0102) to discuss your investment goals.
Don't get too worried, interest rates are still incredibly low, and still below 4%. But after four weeks at record lows, the average 30-year mortgage interest rate increased from 3.87% to 3.95%
"The rise in rates is a vote of confidence for the housing market, which continues to show signs of gradual improvement, said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac's chief economist."
Other factors affecting more optimism in the housing market:
Recent negotiations I've been a part of, or have heard about....
SELLER: $299,000 BUYER: $225,000
SELLER: $239,000 BUYER: $215,000
SELLER: $495,000 BUYER: $300,000
Needless to say, more and more buyers are making low offers on properties that are currently for sale. Buyers would call the offers aggressive. Sellers would call the offers ridiculous, absurd, far-fetched, tear-inducing, etc.
I do think, however, that this is an important part of a real estate market that is regaining its foothold and seeing what home values really are, what they should be, and what they could be.
Even if some (many?) of these low offers don't go anywhere, and even if they hurt the feelings of some sellers, I think that in a big picture sense it is good that buyers are making these offers. It puts the local real estate market in a lot better position than when buyers were just sitting on the sidelines thinking sellers' prices were too high, and not being willing to do anything about it.
Buyers.....keep 'em coming!
Sellers.....let's brace ourselves, and work hard to try to make a deal work!
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