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!
As suspected a few years ago, the location of the new hospital (now Sentara RMH Medical Center) did indeed bring with it plenty of additional commercial (and residential) development in its immediate vicinity.
Earlier this week, the Board of Supervisors approved a rezoning request for "Coffman's Corner" -- a new commercial development intended to be developed at the intersection of Stone Spring Road and Port Republic Road, and with frontage on Ridgedale Road. It is a small, and somewhat irregularly shaped piece of land, so much so that it won't have a VDOT road system -- it will have private roads, maintained by a Property Owners Association.
County staff approved this rezoning in February 2014, and the Planning Commission on March 4, 2014. This property is across the street (more or less) from The Reserve at Stoneport, an upscale apartment complex currently being constructed.
Per the developer's narrative....
Board OKs Land For Development (Daily News Record, March 28, 2014)
Details from the Rockingham County Board of Supervisors Agenda Packet
Buyers across the country have spoken -- the graph above shows the information sources that are used "frequently" during the home search process.
I will be working hard to find you the HOME OF YOUR DREAMS -- but statistics show (see above) that two-thirds of buyers have to compromise in some way on the home that they purchase.
Of note, neighborhood and location don't seem to be areas where most buyers are willing to compromise.
A quick update on mortgage interest rates....
So far, mortgage interest rates are staying below 4.5%, other than for two weeks at the very start of this year.
These current rates (4.3% - 4.4%) are still WONDERFUL from absolutely ANY long term perspective.
Money is cheap --- if you're buying a home now, you'll be locking in your housing costs at historically low levels.
Check out this cool buying vs. renting tool from the New York Times that gives you the ability to easily these two compare scenarios.
In the sample property that I scoped out (above) it made sense to buy a $150K townhouse (instead of renting it for $900/m) if you were going to be in the home for 3 or more years.
Click here to check it out, and let me know (scott@HarrisonburgHousingToday.com) if you would like to sit down to talk through these details together.
Harrisonburg, VA has been selected as one of the 10 semifinalists for the 2014 Great American Main Street Awards.
Five communities from around the country will be chosen as recipients of the award on May 18 at the National Main Street Conference in Detroit, Michigan.
Here's Harrisonburg's summary....
Click here to view all 10 semifinalists.
Kudos to Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance for their critical role in the revitalization of downtown Harrisonburg!
As shown above, we are starting to see fewer foreclosures in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County.
With some regularity, I am asked by potential purchasers how they would go about buying a foreclosure. First, here is a list of upcoming foreclosure sales, but more importantly, below is a description of a few ways to buy what you might be thinking of as a foreclosure.
If you are in the market to buy a home, some of the properties you might be considering are foreclosures – but there are some distinctions to be aware of at different stages of the foreclosure process. It is possible to buy a home from the owner before they are foreclosed on even if they cannot pay off their mortgage – this is called a short sale. Or, you might buy a property at the courthouse steps when it is being auctioned – this is called a trustee sale. Finally, if a property does not sell at the auction, you can buy the property from the lender after they have taken ownership of the property – this is called a bank owned property or REO property.
SHORT SALES: Some homeowners must sell their home, but market conditions won't allow them to sell it at a high enough price to be able to pay off their mortgage(s). In this example, a homeowner might have a $250,000 mortgage balance but can only sell the property for $230,000. As a prospective buyer, it is sometimes possible to purchase this type of a property through a process called a "short sale." In such an arrangement, the homeowner petitions their lender to accept less than the full payoff of the mortgage and in return to still release the deed of trust so that ownership of the property can be transferred over to you, the new owner. This can benefit the lender, as they skip the time delays and cost of the foreclosure process. This can also benefit the homeowner, as a short sale will have a slightly lesser negative impact on their credit as compared to a foreclosure. As a buyer, however, you must know that there are challenges to buying a property as a short sale. The biggest challenges of late seem to be the uncertainty of the purchase and the time table. Even if you and the homeowner agree to a price of $230,000, the homeowner's lender must still agree to accept that price – since it won't allow the homeowner to pay off their $250,000 mortgage balance in full. This process of waiting to hear back from a lender, and then complying with all of their various terms can sometimes take 60 to 120 days – or longer! Visit HarrisonburgShortSales.com for a list of potential short sale properties currently on the market.
TRUSTEE SALES: If a short sale does not take place, and a homeowner is behind on their payments (or not making them at all), eventually the property will be sold by the lender on the courthouse steps. Buying a property at a "trustee sale" can be exciting, and can be a great opportunity – but there are challenges as well. If a property to be sold at a trustee sale is also listed for sale with a Realtor, you can usually view the property ahead of time by calling your Realtor. Otherwise, you will likely not have the opportunity to see inside the property before the trustee sale, and thus you will not know too many details about the condition of the property. Furthermore, your purchase of the property at the trustee sale cannot be contingent upon viewing the property, or inspecting the property. In this instance, you are purchasing the property in "as is" condition, regardless of what you then find out about the property. It is also important to note that many times the lender will have an opening bid at the trustee sale that is close to (or sometimes higher than) the amount that they are still owed on the mortgage. Thus, in the example above, they might make an opening bid of $250,000. As a result of this opening bid process, many (or most) properties available for purchase at a trustee sale are not great opportunities. Occasionally, a property will be foreclosed upon that has had a mortgage in place for many years, whereby the balance of the mortgage is much lower than current market value – these are great opportunities for a buyer. Visit HarrisonburgForeclosures.com for a list of upcoming trustee sales.
BANK OWNED PROPERTIES: If you don't buy the property before the auction (as a short sale), and don't buy it at the trustee sale, you'll have a third opportunity to buy it once the bank owns it. These properties are called "bank owned properties" or REO properties ("real estate owned"). Oftentimes, the prices on these properties are quite realistic, if not under market value. It would not be atypical for a house such as the one mentioned above to come on the market after the trustee sale at a price of $210,000. In such an instance, you should expect to be buying the property in "as is" condition, and you will also be buying with a slightly different contract document. Most lenders have a long standard contract or contract addendum that spell out a variety of additional contract terms designed to protect them from any future liability – and rarely will a lender agree to have these contract documents changed in any way. As you can see above, oftentimes buying the property as an REO property is where the best opportunity lies. Visit HarrisonburgREO.com for a list of bank owned properties currently on the market for sale.
When a home goes into foreclosure it is often for very sad and unfortunate reasons – such as the loss of a job – and I do not wish such circumstances on any homeowner. However, if you are a buyer in today's market it is important to be familiar with different methods for buying a property when it will be, is being, or has been foreclosed upon.
When the school bells ring to mark the end of the day, hundreds of students do not go home, but instead continue to learn, grow, achieve and prepare for school and future success.
Beyond the Bell works with school and community to expand the learning day through a range of out of school time programs that are designed to build students' skills, strengthen their motivation to learn, and improve their academic performance.
Beyond the Bell utilizes a network of talented, passionate and caring educators and community partners to deliver academic and enrichment experiences that include completing high-quality homework, practicing important school success skills, such as goal-setting and organization, and participating in project-based enrichment courses like robotics, art and cooking.
Without funding, the wonderful things happening through Beyond the Bell will screech to a halt at the end of the current school year.
Click here to read an update on this search for funding, written by Brent Holsinger, the director of Beyond the Bell.
Context is everything --- and the map above provides a great snapshot of major developments taking place over the past seven years (2007-2013) in downtown Harrisonburg.
Exciting times for downtown Harrisonburg!
Click here for a larger version of the map above.
This map is from the Harrisonburg's Downtown Streetscape Plan, a 36 MB, 89-page PDF that can be found here.
We're starting to see multiple offers on some properties, likely because inventory levels are so low. In some other countries, that dynamic can lead to gazumping, a practice where a seller accepts an oral offer from one buyer, and then before firming it up in writing, accepts a second, higher offer.
Read all about gazumping on the Matrix Blog.
This is most common in England and Wales, where apparently it takes 10 to 12 weeks to get from an oral agreement to a written agreement. Blimey!
Thankfully, it doesn't (usually) take more than a few days to move from an oral agreement to a written agreement here in the U.S.A.
Construction is under way on the Ice House in downtown Harrisonburg, to feature apartments, office space, and more.
Earlier this week, City Council approved two special use permits for the Ice House earlier this week, one for a jewelry manufacturing business (6000 SF, to include retail and showroom space), and the second for a brewery (9000 SF, to include a tasting room and bottling distribution section).
Read more about it in the March 13, 2014 Daily News Record article.
In another sign of further stability in our local real estate market, sellers are negotiating less, on average, than they have in the past several years. The average "list price to sales price ratio" is now back up to 97% as shown above.
A few observations, though....
Featured Property: 4320 Wiltshire Street, Harrisonburg VA
I just published my monthly report on the Harrisonburg and Rockingham County real estate market -- click here to review the entire report online -- and here are a few highlights you might be interested to know about....
FEBRUARY SALES DECLINE
Perhaps as a result of the frigid temperatures, multiple snowfalls, and a record number of days without school, February home sales declined (to 51) below where we would expect them to be (67) based on last year's trajectory.
SALES, PRICES, DAYS ON MARKET DOWN
Due to a slow month of sales in February, year-to-date home sales are down 9.65% thus far in 2014 -- probably related to the weather.
Median home prices also declined 5% over the past year -- probably related to the small sample size of only Jan + Feb data.
In (possibly) better news, the time it takes to sell a home (days on market) fell 8% over the past year -- this is either a signal of a quickening pace in the market, or related to the small sample size of only Jan + Feb data.
LISTING INVENTORY DECLINES AGAIN
Despite fewer sales in February 2014 (compared to last Feb) the overall number of active listings on the market DECLINED this month. Either homeowners are taking their properties off the market ---- or the weather has delayed homeowners from listing their properties for sale. Even though I was wrong a month ago when I said this, I really do expect we'll see an increase in inventory over the next 30 days. Really.
TOWNHOUSE (DUPLEX, CONDO) MARKET GROWING QUICKLY
Every segment of the local housing market is different -- generalizations are helpful, but you need to dig deeper to see the facts that pertain to your property. As shown above, the pace of townhouse sales has quickly increased over the past several years (+46% in 2 Years) and median prices have also shot up (+13% in 2 Years).
HIGH END MARKET BOOMING
I will repeat myself --- every segment of the local housing market is different! As shown above, the high end market ($400K+) has seen a 139% increase in the pace of sales over the past year!
OK, enough highlights for now -- there is plenty more inside the full report.
As always, if you're interested in talking to me about buying a home in Harrisonburg or Rockingham County.....or if you are interested in selling your current home.....just drop me a line by email (scott@HarrisonburgHousingToday.com) or call me at 540-578-0102.
click the image for a larger version
Kensington Model (22' wide): floor plans -- starting at $289,990
Manchester Model (24' wide): floor plans -- starting at $294,990
Townhouses are under construction at Preston Lake, anticipated to start in the $280K price range. I took a quick ride through Preston Lake yesterday to see how things are looking....
The townhouses have been delivered! Well, at least the walls have. The townhouses will apparently be built with pre-framed walls.
If you haven't already seen it, this is Preston Lake's model home.
The upgraded entrances to Preston Lake are certainly looking good.
There is even a new wall along Massanetta Springs Road that provides a bit more definition to the community.
Finally, construction is almost complete on the bridge across the end of the expanded lake.
For more information about Preston Lake, feel free to email me at scott@HarrisonburgHousingToday.com or call me at 540-578-0102.
This event, held for one week in March and August every year, showcases the diverse culinary culture of downtown Harrisonburg's local restaurants - from Ethiopian to Greek to new Americana.
More than 25 restaurants and eateries feature tasty treats, combos and meals in 5 categories: sweets, breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. A list of offerings is below.
Join the Facebook event and invite your friends to experience Taste of Downtown with you.
Click the image below for a larger version....
Are you interested helping to re-imagine what Grace Street might look like in an ideal context?
Join stakeholders from the community (residents, government, leaders, etc.) alongside JMU students, staff and faculty for the Grace Street Project Community Design Charrette.
Grace Street Project Community Design Charrette
Saturday, March 22, 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Icehouse 2nd Floor Collaborative Space
217 S. Liberty Street, Harrisonburg, VA
You will be joining JMU's Systems Design & Placemaking Course and facilitator Lindsay Kinkade (Design RePublic) throughout the day in sharing ideas, telling stories, collaborating and having fun! Learn about the past, present and future of Grace Street. Brainstorm develop and rapid prototype design ideas.
Plus, a musical interlude and a chalk street stencil workshop!
Free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.
For Information or to RSVP contact Audrey Barnes (email@example.com) or Elise Barrella (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Reserve at Belvedere, as shown above, is a project the Cathcart Group recently completed in Charlottesville. They have now begun work on the first 168 apartments.
Per today's Daily News Record:
Today's Daily News Record article:
Luxury Complex Coming
My prior story about The Reserve:
The Reserve at Stoneport seemingly one (significant) step closer to reality
The Cathcart Group's January 2014 press release:
Cathcart Group to break ground on Luxury Apartment Community
The location of The Reserve at Stone Port....
This appears to be the layout of the community....
click here for a larger version
This beautiful sunset from an amazing house on Eversole Road helps me overlook the extra effort of clearing yet another round of snow off of cars, driveways and sidewalks.
Drive safely today!
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Commonwealth of Virginia
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