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!
Per today's Daily News Record article, the City tax rate will be increasing to 73.5 cents per $100 of assessed value. This is a good bit (but not a whole lot) above the new Rockingham County real estate tax rate of an effective $0.67.
Purchasing a home can be fun, exciting, thrilling, and fulfilling….but that very same process can also have its moments of being hard, frustrating, disappointing and overwhelming. In my role as a Buyer's Agent, I will be working with you through the entire home buying process to make it as educational and stress-free as possible.
The very first step in this process is for us to discuss your needs, goals, dreams and desires. This may involve specifics such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, or may focus more on the layout of homes, the feel of a neighborhood, and the long term plans for your growing family. I will be focusing on listening well, and hearing what it is you are working to achieve with our home purchase – and then helping to identify the best housing options for accomplishing those goals.
An important, parallel, part of starting the home buying process is to identify a target price range. This can best be determined through consultation with a reputable, local mortgage lender (just ask… I know who they are) but will involve more than just determining the highest priced home that they would allow you to purchase. It will be important to consider both your purchasing power, and your goals for how your housing costs will fit into your overall budget. You will also talk with your mortgage lender about how different loan programs might work better (or worse) for your situation.
Once we have a shared understanding of what you are hoping to purchase, and we know what the price tag can and should look like, we can start to evaluate homes that are currently on the market. This will usually start online, perhaps through an exchange of emails, and saving some searches in your account on my web site. Then, you might choose to drive by some of the prospects before determining a list of homes to go view – or you may be ready to start seeing all of the homes on the list right away. As we view this first set of homes, we will learn a lot – about the opportunities in the market, and about your preferences.
If we don't identify a home after looking at all of the homes on the market that seem to offer what you are looking for in a new home, we will either re-evaluate our criteria to expand our search, or we will wait to view new listings that come on the market. This extended home search process might take us weeks, or months, depending on the type of property you are hoping to purchase, and how often such a property becomes available. All along the way, I'll be following up on previous homes we have viewed to let you know if their prices have dropped, and will be letting you know of new opportunities as soon as those houses hit the market.
Once we have identified the home you are hoping to purchase, we will prepare to make an offer. This will include researching similar home sales to guide our discussions of price, creating a negotiation strategy, and preparing and reviewing the pertinent contract documents. There is quite a bit of paperwork involved in making an offer on a home, and I want to make sure that you understand these contract documents and make sure that we have drafted them in a way to protect your best interests.
Negotiating the final deal on the property you purchase may take a few hours, or a few days. We may go back and forth with the seller on price alone, or on many terms of the contract such as timing, contingencies, and more. Once we have a final agreement, all parties will sign and initial the final documents, and we will have a full ratified contract.
Immediately following the ratification of the contract, we will need to schedule and perform a home inspection and radon inspection (assuming you are conducting both) to learn more about the property you are purchasing. If these inspections reveal new (detrimental) information about the property, we will have the opportunity to request that the seller make repairs to the property, which may result in a renegotiation on price. Typically, we are able to work through this second round of negotiations relatively quickly, so long as the seller is being realistic and rational given the new information about their property.
Simultaneously with conducting these inspections, you will need to be starting the financing process to work towards obtaining full loan approval. This will start with signing your loan application and paying any applicable loan application or appraisal fees. Your lender will then be diligently working to further qualify you as a purchaser as well as the property via an appraisal. You will be providing many documents to your lender during this process as they work towards securing a loan for you to purchase the property.
Within the first few weeks after your contract is in place, we will need to select service providers to coordinate the additional aspects of your home purchase. This will include a settlement agent or attorney who will conduct a title search of the property and prepare all documents for your settlement. You will also need to set up a new homeowners insurance policy on your new property, as well as schedule utility service to start in your name as of the settlement date.
We'll now be just a few weeks before closing, and the final pre-settlement details will include reviewing the settlement statement (which shows all of the funds coming into and going out of the closing), conducting a final walk though of the property (to confirm the condition is as we expect it to be), and obtaining a cashier's check to bring the necessary funds to settlement. All of the details should be falling in place now, and if all goes well, we will be set for an on-time settlement.
In nearly all real estate transactions (in this area) at your real estate closing you will sign all of the loan and settlement documents as well as receive the keys to your new property. The house will now be your new home, and you can take possession and starting moving in immediately after settlement. Later that day, the settlement agent will record the deed at the courthouse that officially transfers ownership of the property into your name.
You are bound to have questions about the home buying process – before you begin, as we go, and even after settlement. I am here to answer all of those questions, or to guide you to the professional who can. There is plenty to learn about the home buying process, and I am here to help guide you through it and to help you make excellent decisions about your purchase of a home.
30-Year Fixed Mortgage Interest Rates have edged up slightly over the past few weeks, to a national average of 3.84%. That means that there have certainly been lower rates in the past five months (shown above in yellow) but the current rates are better today than they were for the last seven months of 2014 (shown above in blue).
If you're buying soon, talk to a lender ASAP so that you are ready to lock in a rate once you have a contract on a home to purchase.
As you can see above, Rockingham County is in Zone 1 -- which means we are in an area that is likely to have high radon levels.
What is radon, and what does it mean for you? Read on, from the EPA....
Radon is a radioactive gas that comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water and gets into the air you breathe. Radon typically moves up through the ground to the air above and into your home through cracks and other holes in the foundation. Radon can also enter your home through well water. Your home can trap radon inside.Learn more about radon and real estate here.
If you are buying a home with a basement, I would recommend that you consider a radon test as a part of your home inspection process.
In each of the past six months there have been more showings than in the same month during the previous year. This increase in showings has amounted to a 30% year-over-year increase in showings when looking at November - April.
It should be no surprise, then, that contracts and closings are also increasing.
Based on recent trends, I believe we will see 2% - 4% increases per year in the median sales price over the next few years.
If we take this year's YTD median sales price ($182,250) and use a 3% per year metric, here's what the next few years would look like....
That would mean that a median priced home ($182K) may increase in value by about $17,000 over the next three years.
Take a few minutes to walk through this upscale, custom built home with spectacular western views overlooking Monte Vista Estates with granite countertops and cherry cabinetry. This home is wonderful for entertaining with a large great room, formal dining room, and an expansive deck. Enjoy a spacious main level master suite, two additional bedrooms on the main level, plus an enormous basement family room with wet bar, two additional bedrooms (one is currently a home theater), a home office, a full bathroom and a huge work shop with walk out access. Don't miss the bonus room on the second level accessible off of the kitchen, and the walk-in attic space for storage. This home is in immaculate condition and offers over 5,000 square feet to well meet all of your needs.
Click here to walk through this home, on your computer, phone or tablet.
Or, visit this home's property website to learn more about it.
Or, view high resolution photos of this home by clicking the collage below....
I thought I'd give you some sense of the geographic significance of our new, expanded MLS.
The red area on the map above (Harrisonburg and Rockingham County) were the primary areas served by our old MLS. There were certainly some properties in other counties (Augusta, Shenandoah, Page) that were entered into the HRAR MLS, but the majority were in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County.
The green area on the map above shows the primary areas served by our new MLS . This new MLS is the result of merger of the Harrisonburg/Rockingham MLS, Staunton/Augusta MLS and Charlottesville MLS. As you can see, it is quite a bit of a larger coverage area. Of note -- there are certainly some properties in other counties (in gray) that are in our new MLS, such as Page, Shenandoah, Madison, Orange, Rockbridge and Buckingham Counties.
Two practical implications to be aware of....
It's a whole new world with this new MLS -- new data displays, some data issues, and much more. If you're seeing any oddities online (on Zillow, my website, any other website) -- just let me know -- I'll be happy to help you figure out what is going on amidst this transition.
Learn more about this month's Featured Property: 205 Weavers Road
I just published my monthly report on the Harrisonburg and Rockingham County real estate market. Jump to the full online market report, or download the PDF, or read on for highlights....
Above you will note that we are seeing many market improvements in 2015....
As shown above, February, March and April 2015 home sales have all surpassed the same month in 2014. We are likely to see 100+ home sales per month over the next 5 or 6 months as we continue through the Spring and into the Summer selling season.
As shown above, more buyers (109) signed contracts in April 2015 than in April 2014 (107). This continues the trend of increased market activity in 2015 and is likely to lead to strong months of sales during May and June.
OK, that's it for now. I'll hit some high points here on HarrisonburgHousingToday.com in coming days. This month has been a bit of a whirlwind, in part because of the new local MLS. If you study my reports intently from month to month, you'll see some new data making its way into the mix -- more on that soon.
If you are ready to buy or sell a property in Harrisonburg or Rockingham County, contact me at 540-578-0102 or scott@HarrisonburgHousingToday.com to get the process started.
If you and your Tesla electric car are staying overnight in Harrisonburg, VA you may want to consider booking a room at By the Side of the Road Inn & Cottages where a Tesla charging station has now been installed.
From today's Daily News Record article....
Drivers of Tesla electric cars have a new place to recharge in the Shenandoah Valley, with more locations on the way.
In a curious coincidence, when walking near the Ice House yesterday, on my way to Black Sheep Coffee and then to Blue Hub Coworking, I saw a Tesla drive by. It was traveling eastward, as if, perhaps, from By the Side of the Road?
Our local MLS provider just changed, and it has brought about a number of changes. One interesting change relates to the map above.
For years and years, since before I started in real estate in 2003, there were several "areas" of Rockingham County defined in our local MLS....
The aged appearance of the map above might be an indicator of how long ago this map, and these "areas" have been used as a way to divide up Rockingham County.
But.....no longer! While these areas technically still exist in our new MLS, they are now an optional field, and some new listings include them and some do not.
So, if you became accustomed to thinking about properties (or searching for properties) in one area as opposed to another, all of that must now change. If you just focus on this now-outdated system of "areas" you'll likely be missing out on some properties as we move forward.
My recommendation for moving forward is to define your search based on a zip code, a school district, or on a custom area on a map.
Stay tuned for further updates on additional changes we are seeing in our local MLS and thus our local real estate data.
Side note -- our "MLS" is the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Multiple Listing Service -- which, among other things, is the online database where all real estate listings are stored.
Take a few minutes to walk through this spacious home on a corner lot in Reherd Acres with an attached two car garage offers plenty of living space with a formal living room, formal dining room, eat-in kitchen, and a family room with a gas fireplace. Enjoy hardwood floors, a large master bedroom with a ceiling fan and walk-in closet, and three additional bedrooms on the second level. Don't miss the laundry room with lots of cabinet space, central vacuum, storage area behind the garage, covered front porch, large back deck, and fenced backyard with a storage building. Plus, a new heat pump and air handler in 2014.
Click here to walk through this home, on your computer, phone or tablet.
Or, visit this home's property website.
Or, view high resolution photos of this home by clicking the collage below....
Home buyers wrote contracts on 107 listings in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County during April 2015. These are the properties. Below is a brief analysis of what buyers bought....
Licensed in the
Commonwealth of Virginia
Receive notifications of new content on this blog, via e-mail or RSS reader.
Mobile Real Estate Apps
Housing Market Report
Walk Through This Home
The Glen at Cross Keys
The Townes at Bluestone
Cottages @ Stone Spring
Harrisonburg New Homes
Best Deals In Harrisonburg
Bank Owned Properties
Potential Short Sales
Recent Price Changes
Secret MRIS Listings
Secret GAAR Listing
Broadway VA Homes