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, Merck has announced a $168 million investment in its Elkton facility for upgrades that will take place over the next few years....
"The Kenilworth, N.J.-based pharmaceutical business has been operating in the Valley since 1941, according to the release, and the Elkton plant works to produce a variety of vaccines in bulk. The improvements will upgrade that system.Read the entire article here: Merck Plans $168M Upgrade
Looking back through the Daily News Record archives, the most recent major improvement I can find record of is a $57M announcement in 2006, followed by a $193M announcement in 2007.
Read the 2007 article here: Merck Adding 70 New Jobs
Merck is one of the largest employers in Rockingham County, so this is a welcome news announcement!
The Townes at Bluestone will soon feature a new floor plan -- with construction starting in the next few weeks.
Previously, the floor plans at The Townes at Bluestone included:
These new "loft" floor plans will feature two large master suites on the bedroom level, plus a third level loft that could be a third bedroom (with optional bathroom), or a play room, or exercise room, or office, or so much more.
Explore the pricing and floor plans for these new townhouses here.
Take a few minutes walk through this spacious and exceptionally well-maintained Barrington home with upscale features such as 10 foot ceilings, hardwood floors, ceramic tile, tray ceilings, crown moulding, ceiling fans, cherry cabinets and granite countertops offers a large living room with gas fireplace, an eat-in kitchen, formal dining room, master suite, and three additional bedrooms and a full bathroom on the main level. The fourth main level bedroom would also work well as a sitting room or home office. The basement features a large family room (and more), a guest bedroom and full bathroom, plus plenty of unfinished space for storage or expansion. Don't miss the screened porch and back deck - plus a large patio off of the lower level.
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....
Find out more about this 3D Walk Through technology at WalkThroughThisHome.com....
Money continues to be cheap. Mortgage money, that is. The average mortgage interest rate fell again (slightly) to 3.71%, after having risen for a few weeks. This is a good bit below the 12 month average of 3.853%. And, notably, interest rates continue to be below 4%, as they have been for most of the past year.
This is still a great time to lock in your long-term housing costs!
Do you think kids should be active, playing outside, riding bikes (among other things)? I do. As such, I am supporting the ShenRock Mountain Bike team by purchasing a raffle ticket to win the bike pictured above.
The ShenRock Mountain Bike Team is an interscholastic youth mountain bike team in the Shenandoah Valley consisting of boys and girls from local public, private, and home schools that participates in friendly and competitive mountain bike events against other surrounding teams....
The raffle is being run by Bluestone Bike & Run -- a local bike shop and running store.
Check out the raffle here.
You can now access market reports back to 2013 by visiting HarrisonburgHousingMarket.com.
Whether you are looking for the most recent report, or if you are interested to see how things were looking a few years ago, you are welcome to explore them all.
Also of note, the best ideas for additions to my monthly market reports come from YOU! If you have further questions about our local housing market that are not covered by my monthly market reports, let me know!
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.
After quite a few years of somewhat slower home sales over $500K, the pace of these higher end home sales jumped up in 2015 to 29 home sales -- the highest pace seen since 2008.
If we raise the bar a bit, and look at home sales over $600K, we see that this slightly narrower market is looking quite strong -- a jump up to 19 home sales over $600K in 2015. This is the highest level seen since 2006.
And finally, wow, the most dramatic change is in the $700K+ price range. There were 11 homes sales over $700K in 2015 -- which is more than were seen in the sum of the four years -- and is the highest number of $700K+ home sales ever seen in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County.
Stay tuned to see how these market segments perform in 2016.
Explore homes for sale over $500K by visiting HarrisonburgLuxuryHomes.com.
Big news for off road biking enthusiasts!
Development and construction of a new bike park are underway, with a mid-summer opening date. And....wait for it....it will be served by a bike lift. Ride the lift to the top, with your bike, and race on back down!
BREAKING: Massanutten Announces Virginia Bike Park (North America's Mountain Bike Resort Website)
Massanutten Bike Park (Massanutten Resort)
The chart above is calculated based on comparing the 2015 median sales price to the median sales price in each of the prior 15 years.
Several key points to take away from this chart....
Learn more about this month's Featured Property: 120 Cantermill Lane
I just published my monthly report on the Harrisonburg and Rockingham County real estate market. Jump to the full online market report, watch the overview video below, or download the PDF, or read on for highlights....
First, a video overview....
Next, let's take a look at the overall market performance in February....
As outlined above, there are several indicators of a strong local housing market....
February was right on target at 68 home sales -- and we are likely to see a similar number of home sales in March. Wait until April, however, and homes should really start flying off the shelf.
The pace (and price) of single family homes are often a good way to understand the overall trajectory of a local housing market -- because it takes rental properties (and the impact of investors) out of the mix. As such, it is good to see the price of these home sales increasing (quite a bit) even if the pace of sales has not significantly increased over the past few years.
Inventory levels are still hovering around 530/540 -- but are on the brink of increasing significantly, which will likely happen over the next 30 to 60 days. Hang on tight!
BUYERS -- You should have plenty of additional options to consider in the coming months, but houses that are priced well will likely sell quickly. Strike while the iron is hot -- and relish the opportunity to still have super low (sub 4%) fixed mortgage interest rates.
SELLERS -- Price, Condition, Marketing. If you are getting ready to put your house on the market, let's make sure we have your house priced well compared to what has recently sold, that your house is in a condition to have a broad appeal to buyers, and of course, let's market it thoroughly and professionally.
More and Much, Much More....
There is more, oh so much more, in my full real estate market report. I have even made it very easily accessible for you to read online....
And as is always my encouragement -- if you will be buying or selling a home in the near future, become a student of the housing market! Learn what has been happening recently, what is happening now, and what is likely to happen next. Being informed will allow you to make better real estate decisions.
Finally, here are two handy references to prepare yourself to buy or sell....
Buyers across the country have spoken -- the graph above shows the information sources that are used "frequently" during the home search process.
As such, we need to align the marketing strategies for your home with how buyers are actually looking for homes.
An excellent Open Forum yesterday in the Daily News Record.....worth reading, maybe twice....
Gov't, Market Can Unite For Good
Posted: March 8, 2016
By Andy Perrine
No holds are barred in the pitched battle for presidential nominations in the party primaries. Every channel of media is filled with candidates on both sides of the aisle pointing out how government has failed, and promising that unless they are elected, America will fail.
Amidst such a negative barrage, it is wise and refreshing to remind ourselves that government can be a positive force. We need look no further than home. The successful and ongoing revitalization of Harrisonburg's urban center demonstrates clearly how government, with the involvement of private sector forces and engaged citizens, can play an enormously positive role in improving our American quality of life.
You may have seen that Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance recently celebrated the blossoming of economic activity downtown by welcoming a new leader and celebrating the accomplishments of its founding director ("Bumbaugh Honored As ‘Downtown Hero,'" Feb. 23). Former City Council members who voted 13 years ago to create HDR attended this celebration for Eddie Bumbaugh. At the time of the historic vote, the City Councils Republicans and Democrats agreed that funding the recovery of our local identity and bringing economic growth to a blighted and forgotten downtown district was a good idea.
They knew risk was involved. Yet, ultimately their wisdom and bipartisan agreement to improve our city is without doubt a convincing testament to how government can be a positive force.
Once a place to avoid, downtown was filled with crumbling sidewalks, worn buildings, vacant storefronts and faded pride. When council approved funding for HDR, many residents believed it was a mistake, that downtown was a lost cause. Today, it is Harrisonburg's heart. For the last six years, the Daily News-Record's Annual Reader's Survey proclaimed downtown the best use of taxpayer money. For five years, the same survey named downtown the best thing about Harrisonburg.
Since HDR began operating in 2003, 250 historic preservation projects have been completed. The number of downtown dwellings has grown from 150 units to 550. Twelve restaurants were downtown in 2004. Today there are 35. Private investment in downtown through the last 13 years totals $66 million. And, downtown Harrisonburg received the National Main Street Center's "Great American Main Street" award in 2014 — recognizing our community as a model for others throughout the U.S. to follow.
Of course, the city's decision to fund HDR is not solely responsible for downtown's success. And this is the key point. That success is shared among the developers who, working in the free market, purchase and refurbish decaying buildings; restaurateurs, artists and retailers who open businesses; volunteers who donate precious time to planning committees and events; and donors who contributed their hard-earned money.
When council voted to fund HDR, our community got the kick-start it needed to get the public and private sectors working together. Such positive action can happen at any level of government — municipal, state and federal. Government, citizens and the free market working together with a clear set of objectives can accomplish great things. This has always been true, and it is a distinctly American mode for advancing society and improving everyone's standard of living. It's the core of how America became history's greatest nation.
As you watch the increasingly negative depictions of government during this especially distressing presidential campaign season, remember, the rhetoric is nonsense. Our system of government can work very well if we the people stay positive and involved.
Andy Perrine is president of Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance.
click here for a larger, clearer PDF
Sentara RMH has applied for a rezoning of their 238.61 acre campus from B-1C (General Business District with Conditions) to PMR (Planned Medical and Research).
In a nutshell, the original rezoning of the hospital campus took it from A-2 (agricultural) to B-1C, which was the most appropriate zoning at the time. Since that time, the County has adopted a revised zoning ordinance that includes this new "Planned Medical and Research" classification. This new zoning district (PMR) is "designed to provide flexibility for large-scale medical facilities and to promote the mixture of uses and increase density of development."
So -- nothing to wild or crazy with the rezoning -- seems to be appropriate re-alignment of the zoning of the property with the current and planned future use.
The fun part (to me, I suppose) is the updated MASTER PLAN provided as a part of the rezoning request. This paints a picture of how the campus may continue to develop in future years.
If this year is like last year (and just about every year, ever) buyers will have many more choices in coming months. As shown above, inventory levels are likely to steadily increase over the next three to their peak in June.
If you are hoping to know about every new listing, as soon as it hits the market, check out NewListingsInHarrisonburg.com where you can sign up for email alerts for new listings.
Do you have plans this evening? If you missed seeing "The Big Short" at Regal Cinemas, maybe you should make a point to catch it at Court Square Theater over the next few days.
The Big Short is a 2015 American biographical comedy-drama film directed and co-written by Adam McKay. It is based on the non-fiction 2010 book of the same name by Michael Lewis about the financial crisis of 2007–2008, which was triggered by the build-up of the housing market and the economic bubble. The film stars Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, and Brad Pitt.I haven't seen the movie yet (I plan to see it at CST) but I have heard that it does a fantastic job at explaining how the housing bubble created a financial crisis in 2007/08.
While every home sale is different -- with unique contingencies based on the needs and situations of the buyer and seller -- there are three main hurdles that most buyers and the houses they are purchasing must clear to make it to closing.
INSPECTION - This is an evaluation, by a home inspector, of the condition of the house. Clearing this hurdle typically involves requesting that the seller make some repairs to the house (or negotiate further on price) based on new information about the property condition discovered during the inspection process.
APPRAISAL - This is an evaluation, by an appraiser hired by the purchaser's lender, of the value of the house. If the property appraises for the contract price (or higher), all is well -- otherwise, the buyer and seller may need to renegotiate the contract price based on the appraised value.
LOAN APPROVAL - This is an evaluation, by a lender (and their underwriters) of the purchaser's financial situation. The lender must confirm that the buyer has the income to support the mortgage payment required for purchasing the home.
Again - there are many other smaller hurdles (for example, a termite inspection) and larger hurdles (for example, a home sale contingency) that may need to be cleared in your purchase (or sale) of a home -- but these three main hurdles (inspection, appraisal, loan approval) are the three main mileposts during the contract-to-closing process that we'll be focused during the transaction.
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