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!
Summer is not quite over yet (100 degrees today, I hear) --- but the local housing market is already showing some signs of fall --- and that's a good thing! Typically our local housing inventory continues to increase through July before starting to decline heading into the fall. This year, however, we're seeing a decline in local housing inventory earlier than we typically do.
Perhaps it is the result of more buyers making buying decisions. Perhaps fewer sellers are trying to sell. Whatever the reason, it is helping to (slowly but surely) bring more balance back to our local housing market.
Here is the first half of the headline from today's Daily News Record....
(the only part that was really printed)
Here is what the second half of the headline could have been.....
So yes, it is true that this is "the biggest monthly jump in nearly a year" -- but put in context, it's not as terrible news as some might otherwise suspect.
The bottom line here is that month by month analysis of local unemployment rates can cause you to have sudden mood swings. After all, last month we were celebrating a tie for the lowest unemployment levels in over a year.....and this month we're mourning a huge increase in unemployment.
Looking for information about recent property transfers in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County? Be sure to check out HarrisonburgPropertyTransfers.com.
photo credit: Aaron Johnston
Have you heard about Harrisonburg's Northend Greenway?
It is an exciting new project that you should know about, and support...
It will be a 2.5-mile multi-use path connecting people in north Harrisonburg with the places they want to go. From Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community, to Section 8 housing, and a university, a high school, and two community centers, the path will serve several diverse populations, representing 10-20% of Harrisonburg residents.
Commuters working or living in downtown and points north will have a scenic, stress-free, and significant segment of their ride off of roadways and along a relatively level route. People needing to buy groceries, attend events downtown, or athletics and plays at Eastern Mennonite University, will have an easy, relaxing way to get where they need to go. Others wanting to travel farther – to James Madison University, Purcell Park, etc. – will be able to easily connect with existing bike and pedestrian infrastructure to continue their journey. For many of the residents along the path's route, this will provide a sustainable and financially viable means of transportation.
Beyond simply meeting transportation needs, the path will also be a "corridor park," that passes through neighborhoods and undeveloped land along a scenic route that follows Blacks Run and which reveals some of Harrisonburg's better-hidden natural beauty. Along the Northend Greenway, this will create public park space in areas where there currently is little. The path will be 8 to 10 feet wide and entirely paved, with a buffer of green space on either side. At different points along the route, this green space will include native plantings, places to sit and rest or have a picnic, informational signs, and potentially stream and field restoration. The park will only be accessible to non-motorized traffic, and will be well-lit.
Last, and by no means least importantly, the Northend Greenway will be a prototype representing the best in bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. We see the greenway as the first stage in a larger human-powered transportation network, and one which will set the standard for future development in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County. With this in mind, we hope to create a community resource that employs the best practices in bicycle and pedestrian transportation infrastructure and applies them to our context.
We hope the Northend Greenway will be a place for families, individuals, and groups to enjoy themselves, and that it will be an accessible means of recreation and transportation for individuals of many ages, ethnicities, income levels, and physical abilities. We want to bring the best of the world to Harrisonburg!
For more information....
Virginia home prices have increased 11% over the past year when comparing the May 2011 median sales price to the May 2012 median sales price.
Read this good news and more in the most recent Home Sales Report from the Virginia Association of Realtors.
Home sales are up 6% year-to-date, which is great! Though the month by month stats have been a bit nerve-wracking.....
Perhaps June will be a predictable month, right on par with last June?
Home prices seem to be starting to increase again in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County (read more here) so what impact (or relevance) does this new report from Fannie Mae have on our local market?
"Doug Duncan, chief economist for Fannie Mae, released a report saying growth for all of 2012 is expected to come in at roughly 2.2%."
Maybe so, though locally, home sales are up 7% thus far in 2012. (read more here)
"And before Americans finish off the year, they will continue dealing with a reduction in hiring, potential issues stemming from the fiscal crisis in Europe and a potential drag on the U.S. economy during the remainder of the year."
We have remarkably low unemployment rates locally, that are still declining. (read more here) Thus, any declines in national hiring seem unlikely to significantly affect us locally. And issues in Europe and with the general U.S. economy might peripherally affect us here locally, but our local economy has managed to remain relatively stable throughout the past five years despite significant negative impacts in many other parts of the country.
"Main measures of home prices have firmed in recent months, as the share of distressed sales has declined in a strong seasonal period," he explained. "Despite this recent encouraging trend, the (research) group continues to expect that home prices on a national basis will show a slight additional decline before bottoming in the beginning of next year."
I am guessing that we will not see an additional decline in home prices in 2012 and 2013 (as predicted above) for Harrisonburg and Rockingham County. I believe the 2012 median home price will be relatively similar to 2011 (+/- 1%).
National housing market and economic news is important to monitor, but it is important to keep it in context and to pay even more attention to what is happening locally.
It's a tough time to sell a building lot in Harrisonburg or Rockingham County. Before the real estate boom of 2003-2007, roughly 200 lots sold per year. In recent years, only 60 lots have been selling per year. However.....
The graph above represents lot sales reflected in the HRAR MLS of less than one acre. See a clearer version of this graph on Page 18 of this PDF.
There are 17 homes on the market in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County priced over $750K -- view them here.
How many of these impressive homes are likely to sell this year? Well, as it turns out, the high end home market ($750K+) is on fire in 2012 (with 1 sale thus far) as compared to 2011 when not a single home sold for more than $750K as reported by the HRAR MLS.
Yes, you heard that right, not a single home over $750K sold during 2011 through the HRAR MLS. Which brings me back to the question at hand..... How do you market and sell a $750K+ home in Harrisonburg or Rockingham County?
There are plenty of marketing strategies and techniques that can be employed (e-mail me and we'll discuss them) but the main point here is that a seller needs to set realistic expectations based on how large the pool of buyers is for their particular segment of the market.
If nobody has bought a home like yours (based on price, size, location, whatever) during the past year --- what are you going to do in the marketing and pricing of your home to get different results? Don't do the same thing that other sellers have done for the past year and expect different results.
As mentioned in the Daily News Record today, the number of homes for sale keeps declining. Current inventory levels are down 14% (see the graph above) from one year ago --- and down 25% from two years ago.
SELLERS: Research (with your Realtor's help) inventory in your segment on the market (age, location, size, price). You need to know if your segment of the market is also experiencing declining inventory. Price, market and negotiate according to what you find.
BUYERS: If you are attempting to buy in an under-supplied segment of the market, be ready to act fast when the right property comes along with home sellers who have priced the house to sell.
WOULD-BE SELLERS: Research your segment on the market to see if you'll be listing your home in an over-supplied or under-supplied market. You might be positioned quite well to sell quickly --- or, you might be in for a long wait.
Read more about the local housing market in my full monthly market report by clicking on the report cover below.
As mentioned earlier this week, home prices may be ready to head back up.
So, if you have been waiting to buy until you were confident about the future of the market --- now may be the OPTIMAL time to buy. This may be the lowest point for prices, with a brighter future ahead.
These are likely the lowest interest rates we'll see in the next few years.
These are likely the lowest home prices we'll see anytime in the near future.
If you're on the fence as to buying, talk to your Realtor today about getting the ball moving forward on a purchase! And if you don't have a Realtor, I, of course, would be more than willing to assist you with your home purchase. Drop me a line at scott@HarrisonburgHousingToday.com or call me at 540-578-0102.
Take a look at the past four months of contracts (356) --- marking a 6% increase over the same four months of 2011. With the pace of home sales up 6% over this time last year, and contracts up 6% over this time last year, we are likely to see a continuation of the strong 2012 local home sales market into and through the summer months.
Read more in my most recent housing market report (click on the cover below)....
Are home prices (finally) ready to head back up? I think we're getting closer to price recovery, but do bear in mind that:
Read more in my most recent housing market report (click on the cover below)....
The Harrisonburg and Rockingham County home sales market is roaring through 2012 through, likely due to low mortgage interest rates and low local unemployment levels....
There are very promising sales updates across the board:
A warm February lead to higher than normal March sales, followed by a slower than normal April, finished off most recently by the best May in three years.
In other exciting news....
Click the image below to read the entire June 2012 Market Report....
This is one metric that we like to see declining.....
If this trend continues....
A new record was set yesterday, with an average rate of 3.67% for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage. Wow!
As referenced a few weeks ago, demand is growing for new homes --- and it has been a busy (past) month at Founders Way Condominiums, with three condos selling -- leaving only two remaining condos in the first building -- both ground level condos.
The good news is that another building will be under construction shortly, with a few slight modifications to the floor plans, but with the same overall strong points that have been appealing to buyers:
To find out more about Founders Way....
After my ramblings last week about modular homes, I had a helpful conversation with Jim Herr, a local building contractor, who shared this perspective on modular homes....
I think modular housing is a great alternative to consider when looking at new housing, but there are several issues to consider when buying a modular home that are often overlooked.
The modular housing industry often advertises a packaged home at avery attractive price. There are numerous costs to consider that add to the cost of the package, not to mention the upgrades offered on a modular. Excavation and sitework, well, septic, driveway, seeding and landscaping, foundation/basement costs and set up costs are often the same as they would be for a stick built home.
My guess is that the market for the modular housing industry is a client that is looking for lower cost housing when in fact they could be building for the higher end market as well. There are several upgrade options that give an owner many of the same amenities that are available in a custom home.
I have lived in a modular home and we have renovated modular homes. We have seen good construction and have witnessed poor construction practices in modulars. As is true in most cases, it is up to the contractor you are working with or your knowledge of construction and your ability to supervise the construction that will give you a good product.
If you have clients looking at modulars or have clients who wish to be there own contractor, we would be happy to meet with them. The housing market is clearly changing and Herr & Co wants to continue to work with owners who like to be involved in the process.
If you're considering a modular home, you may want to touch base with Jim Herr of Herr and Co. Building Contractors as a potential contractor for the construction of your modular home.
From the Reuter's blog: Let's go buy a house!
The national headline (and excerpt) from the Daily News Record over the weekend....
The local headline (and excerpt) from last week's Daily News Record....
Just as with the housing market, the local news is often quite different than the national news, thank heavens!
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