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!
Residents of Heritage Estates held their 1st Annual Heritage Estates Open golf tournament last weekend. (TEAM Ed / Deb / Mindy / Jerry landed on the top of the leader board!) But this is just the tip of the iceberg -- this active adult community gets together quite regularly because they enjoy spending time together.
There aren't many communities that can boast this level of connectedness and engagement. Whether it be golf tournaments, barbeques at the pool, progressive dinners, or white elephant gift exchanges, the fine folks at Heritage Estates know how to have fun together.
Find out more about Heritage Estates....
e-mail me to set up a time to visit Heritage Estates.
Heritage Estates is an active adult community in Harrisonburg, Virginia featuring superb French Country architecture with flowing interior floor plans that are wonderful for entertaining. You'll also enjoy spectacular views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the golf course immediately beside Heritage Estates, the community swimming pool, and a maintenance-free lifestyle.
Other good news includes....
Learn all about Harrisonburg's 22 townhouse communities on HarrisonburgTownhouses.com, now updated with 2012-Q3 sales trend data.
Did you miss it? The Harrisonburg City Council spent $4.76 million last night. These funds were "reserve suplus funds" --- which are undesignated funds that have built up over time --- not a surplus in a single year's budget.
How did the City Council decide to spend the funds?
So What? Why does this matter? Wasn't it just extra funds that had to be spent? Why should we care where the funds went?
I believe these expenditures reveal the priorities of the City of Harrisonburg --- road improvements, sidewalks, bicycle and pedestrian trails, employee retention, parks, soccer fields. Personally, I think these are great priorities for the City of Harrisonburg to be focusing on to make it a safer, more enjoyable place to live.
From the fine folks at the Virginia Association of Realtors....
"Home prices may not return to peak until 2023," is the CNN Money headline. The story is that housing prices may take that long to hit their 2007 levels — that is, the levels they were at the peak of the housing bubble.
This is news? During the bubble, property values prices rose way above rational levels, and thus way above where they should have been. ("Should have," being defined as where they would go if they stuck to normal levels of inflation.)
It's as if CNN was expecting prices to look like this:
When in reality they're going to look like this:
You can't expect prices to hit 2007 levels any time soon. Home prices have, on average, tracked inflation. After the bubble burst, prices dropped below where they should have been (think of it as the pendulum swinging far in the other direction), and are making their way back to their "natural" state. At which point they'll proceed to track inflation, barring another bubble or bust.
So if, like CNN, you were expecting the market to quickly make its way back to 2007 levels, think again. And give it time.
I am happy to help you learn all about the home buying process --- so feel free to e-mail me and we can set up a time to meet. And....hopefully the variety of information on my web site serves as a good learning tool for you to gain a better understanding of how to buy a home.
But wait, there's more! Click on the image above (or here) to check out VHDA's online, free educational course about the home buying process.
VHDA's 8 hour course offers information in areas such as....
If you are going to finance your home with a VHDA loan, you must take the class above --- but regardless of your financing plans, you can take the class for free and learn a LOT about the home buying process.
Again, I am certainly willing to help you learn all about the home buying process, but the resource above might be helpful for you as well. Check it out and let me know what you think.
There is a lot planned for Port Republic Road --- likely related to the relocation of Rockingham Memorial Hospital, and the widening of Port Republic Road.
We recently talked about the following new developments coming on Port Republic Road....
And now, I'm finding more details online about the residential development to take place at Stone Port.
Here are details of the residential development at Stone Port, from their web site....
All of the above (Aspen Heights, Stone Spring Courtyard, The Reserve at Stone Port) are all indications of a recovering, growing local economy.
The under $200K segment of our local housing market has recovered nicely over the past 15 months --- improving from an average of 36 buyers per month up to 42 per month --- a 17% improvement in sales pace.
The next most affordable price range ($200K-$300K) is also doing OK, having improved by 43% (14 buyers/month up to 20 buyers/month) during the same time frame.
But our local housing market's higher price ranges are not faring as well --- with virtually no change in pace in the $300K-$400K segment of the market, and a declining pace of sales in the $400K+ price range.
So.....overall, the local housing market is definitely recovering (read more here) but it is not affecting all property types and price ranges equally. Interested in details on how your property value has been affected? Feel free to call me at 540-578-0102.
As I mentioned last month, after we have your house on the market for a month or two, if we aren't having many showings (or we're not satisfied with the feedback from those showings) we may want to adjust our pricing strategy to work towards a successful sale.
But then the question comes to WHEN to make the price adjustment. In some ways, as soon as you have decided you need or want to make a change in pricing strategy --- MAKE THE CHANGE!
However, one of my clients brought up a great point this past week, which is that there aren't always buyers for every house in the market at all times.
So....if the right buyer is in the market now, great, a price reduction will help them decide to make a move now versus later.
But....if the right buyer is not in the market now, the lowering our price now doesn't do much other than leave us with less negotiating room later.
There is no one "right" answer here -- as we can't conclusively know whether the buyer of your home is in the market right now, or whether they will be later. That said, develop a pricing strategy that works for your timing, your life situation, your motivation level to sell, and stick to it.
Aspen Heights is a planned college student housing community on Port Republic Road. Or, as described by the Aspen Heights marketing team....
A neighborhood of craftsman homes with all the convenience and amenities of a luxury multi-family dwelling complex.
To its credit, this does seem to be a notably different type of community compared to most other college housing complexes in Harrisonburg. That said, it is being built amidst (adjacent to) several existing single family home neighborhoods (Ashly Meadows, Stone Spring Village) and those homeowners have a vested interest in it being a well-planned community.
This PDF (from the Rockingham County Planning Commission's April 2012 meeting) gives some insight into the Rockingham County rezoning process, showing some very detailed information including:
The townhouse market has been hit especially hard in recent years:
But it seems (see the graph above) that the market may finally be starting to stabilize.
You'll find lots more market analysis and commentary in my monthly real estate market report (PDF).
I just published my monthly Harrisonburg & Rockingham County Real Estate Market Report. Download the full PDF here, or read on for some highlights.
Despite some confusing and conflicting indicators in September, our local housing market is still stabilizing, and is poised for further growth.
This month particularly, we need to keep the one-month indicators (September) firmly rooted within the context of longer-term trends (YTD)....
Contracts are up 46% in September 2012 (compared to Sept 2011) but bear in mind that 22 of those contracts were a single buyer purchasing 22 investment properties.
Inventory levels continue to drop in our market, slowly creating a more even balance between buyers and sellers.
Buyers aren't able to negotiate quite as much these days, as shown above. This is another sign of market stabilization.
Looking for more analysis of our local housing market? Download the full PDF of my market report here.
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.
Oh, one last thing....here are a few articles I have written over the past month that might be of interest:
It has become a part of my routine to take a look through the City of Harrisonburg Planning Commission board packets, as these are available for public consumption, and often have some interesting insights into forthcoming developments in the City of Harrisonburg. Read on for some highlights of what will be discussed during the October 10, 2012 meeting (at 7PM).
Above is the site plan for Aspen Heights which is the new gated student housing complex being built on Port Republic Road. View more details on their Facebook page or web site. Per the site plan, there will be 183 buildings with a total of 600 bedrooms.
Above is the site plan for Stone Spring Courtyard (here as a PDF) the new luxury gated apartment community on Port Republic Road.
Above is the revised, proposed site plan for Campus View Condos (here as a PDF) showing the new layout of buildings as proposed by the new developer of the complex. The original developer was foreclosed on, and the new developer is proposing to 108 apartments in 8 buildings, instead of the same number of units 9 buildings.
View the full Planning Commission board packet (and from previous meetings) here.
After some increase in the average mortgage interest rate between late July and late August, it looked like we were finally going to see mortgage interest rates start to climb.
But now, they have achieved yet another historic low this week, with an average 30-year fixed rate mortgage at 3.36%. Wow!
If you bought a $300K house with 20% down, your payment would be another $74/month less expensive because of the decline in interest rates that we have seen since the beginning of the year.
If you're buying soon, buy now. Lock in a 30-year mortgage interest rate at these ridiculously low rates, and brag about it for years to come!
The WAV Group published a rather interesting study yesterday, analyzing the data on Zillow, Trulia, and broker web sites in 11 major markets including the Washington Metro area. Several key findings are represented below....
As shown above, Trulia and Zillow were likely to show a significantly incomplete set of listings --- mainly because they do not have a direct feed from the MLS, and thus they piece together their listing data from multiple sources.
As shown above, it takes Zillow and Trulia much longer to show new listings than a local broker or agent web site.
Finally, over a third of the listings on Trulia or Zillow will appear to be active, when they are really under contract.
Read the full study here for further details, and remember that when you are using Zillow or Trulia for your home search, you are dealing with a partial data set, that is always running about a week behind, and that 1 out of 3 of the houses that you'll be viewing is really already under contract.
Feel free to search on my web site here, and stay tuned for exciting announcements about my web site in the coming weeks.
Some sellers are feeling depressed, not having received a contract on their house during the exciting Spring and Summer months of April through August. And since September has now passed, they assume they might as well now wait until Spring to try selling again.
But wait --- if we look at last year's contract trajectory, we need not be discouraged....
We should still have two more active months of buyers writing contracts before the market does slow down for its two slowest months of the year --- December and January.
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