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!
In the end, the Harrisonburg City Council decided to increase the real estate tax rate by $0.06, from $0.72 to $0.80 per $100 of assessed value -- instead of the $0.08 increase proposed by the City Manager.
Big ticket items in the 2017 city budget include building schools, and a 2% pay raise for City employees.
Read more in today's Daily News Record article.
City Council voted last night to approve changes to Harrisonburg's backyard chicken ordinance.
From today's Daily News Record article....
City officials began reviewing the regulations on backyard hens after council members were approached about the matter last fall. Tuesday's vote eliminated a minimum 2-acre lot-size requirement enacted in 2009.
Fear not -- cheap money is still available. By that, I mean that the interest you will pay on a new mortgage still remains at record low levels. The current average mortgage rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage is still at 3.58%, the same spot it was one month ago.
If I had to guess, I think we'll probably stay under 4% for the remainder of 2016. Crazy to imagine, I know, but that is my prediction. The low rates don't seem to be leaving very quickly.
Given continued low interest rates and some increase in home values, let's take a new look at the opportunities of buying versus renting.
RENT = $1000/m. There are regularly options for renting a two-story townhouse in Harrisonburg for approximately $1000 / month in Avalon Woods, Beacon Hill, Stonewall Heights, Liberty Square, etc.
BUY = $865/m. With a 95% loan, buying such a townhouse apparently may cost as little as $865 per month assuming a $140K purchase price and 3.875% interest rate per SunTrust Mortgage's payment calculator....
This shows an $135/month cost savings of buying instead of renting. If we then look at the difference between renting and buying over a five year time period, the advantages start to pile up.
As you can see, this builds a rather compelling case for buying instead of renting if you are going to be living in this potential townhouse for the next five years. Two other factors to keep in mind....
Tomorrow! Saturday, May 20th -- downtown Harrisonburg!
Check out the first Harrisonburg Strawberry Festival at City Hall tomorrow.
The day will include activities and games for all ages, including a bouncy house, dunk tank, food trucks, live music and STRAWBERRIES!
Dessert ticket vouchers will be for sale for $5. Each is good for your choice of: strawberry shortcake, strawberry sundae, or chocolate covered strawberries.
This event is being put on by the area Rotary Clubs and proceeds from the event will be donated to the Build Our Park and Albert Long Park projects in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County.
click here for a larger image
Enjoy a really (really, really) short walk to the JMU Campus (and Starbucks and Purcell Park) from this recently built (2011) home with upscale features both inside and out including a HardiePlank and brick exterior, a composite deck with vinyl rail, covered front porch, hardwood floors, granite countertops, ceramic tile in the bathrooms and so much more. The main level features a kitchen with dining area, living room, dining room and office, upstairs you will find a large master suite plus two additional bedrooms and a full bath. The recently finished lower level features a large rec room, the laundry room plus a fourth bedroom and third bathroom. Don't miss the propane fireplace, high end clothes washer and dryer, two heat pumps, hardwood treads and much more!
View high resolution photos of this home by clicking the collage below....
Or, walk through the home by clicking the image below....
Find out more about this home at 117PortRepublicRoad.com.
click here for a larger image
There will be a workshop today at 11:30 AM to discuss the County's Urban Development Area, located southeast of the City. The size of this development area was tripled in September 2015.
Current developments in the works or under review in this area include:
After the workshop (11:30 AM) the Board of Supervisors will hold their regular meeting at 3:00 PM today.
From today's Daily News Record article....
Townhouses may be built on Vine Street (across from Longview Oaks and Beacon Hill) at some point in the future. This land was rezoned from agricultural to residential in 2010, and is owned by Virginia State Free Will Baptist Church.
Cosner Construction (Broadway, VA) is considering building 24 - 28 townhouses on this site.
Read more in the May 12, 2016 Daily News Record article, Planners OK Utilities For Development.
Learn more about this month's Featured Property: 4290 Brown Roan 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 video overview video, 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 April....
We are, again, looking at signs of strength and growth for our local market....
Let's dig into a few details....
Wow! This graph shows very clearly (look at the last two bars on the right) how HOT of a Spring real estate market we are experiencing this year. The pace of contracts in March was a new record for March -- and in April, buyers have done it again. As far back as I have on record (2007) there has never been a month of April when this many (158) contracts have been signed in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County.
Single family homes are often the best indicator of overall trends in a local housing market. As shown above, sales of single family homes are quite stable -- and the median price has been on the rise for several years now. It seems likely that we will see another increase in the median sales price of single family homes in 2016.
Most housing market analysts consider six months of inventory (active listings) to be an indicator of a balanced market (between buyers and sellers). The "BUYERS" trend line above is illustrating how many buyers are buying in a six month period. The "SELLERS" trend line above is illustrating how many sellers are in the market (active listings) at any given time. Over the past four years we have been seeing a steady increase in buyers in the market and a decline in sellers in the market.
If you have lived in Harrisonburg for a while (more than a few years) which side of I-81 do you live on? The East or the West?
Would you consider moving to the other side of I-81?
Regardless of which side you are on now, I'm guessing you wouldn't flip-flop to the other side.
Most people stay on one side of I-81 after they buy on that side -- because they get used to the patterns of life on that side of our community. Nothing is necessarily better or worse on one side or the other -- but they are different, that's for sure.
EAST: Most of the residential development over the past 15 to 20 years has been on the East side of Harrisonburg, in the general vicinity of the new hospital. This makes it an exciting place to live -- for some people. There are many newer developments where homes have recently been built, and there are newer commercial destinations (Stone Port, Martin's grocery store, Target, etc) all on the East side of town. But this also makes it a bit more hectic for getting around. Of note, there is also plenty of outbound traffic East of town, towards Massanutten, Elkton, Charlottesville, etc.
WEST: There hasn't been as much residential development West of Harrisonburg over the past 15 to 20 years (other than Belmont and Monte Vista Estates) and this is just fine with most people who live on the Western side of Harrisonburg. Things are a bit calmer, without as much hustle and bustle, and in some cases with more established neighborhoods. The towns of Dayton and Bridgewater end up falling into this side of town as well for many people.
I am not doing justice to all of the differences between the East side of town and the West side of town, but I believe that most people in this area are oriented towards one side of town or the other, for very specific reasons. Furthermore, most people who have spent any considerable amount of time living on one side of Harrisonburg likely wouldn't think about moving over to the other side of Harrisonburg.
I had an interesting conversation with a potential real estate investor earlier this week -- he asked whether townhouses generally increase in value over time.
We decided to take a look at the data, which is shown above, and the conclusions are not necessarily clear.
So, in the past 15 years, there have been some intense increases, some depressing decreases, and some recent recovery.
The yellow line is the general trendline over time, which shows that overall, values have trended positively over the past 15 years.
So, do townhouse values generally increase over time? Let's go with 'yes' for now -- but continue to monitor as we hopefully have a more normal next three to five years in our local real estate market.
It remains difficult to buy a single family home in the City of Harrisonburg for less than $100K. While the 2016 data point (above) is based only on the first four months of the year, it is clear that fewer and fewer detached homes are selling in Harrisonburg for less than $100K.
Here are the currently available detached homes for sale under $100K in the City of Harrisonburg: search now (4 listings as of 5/4/2016)
click here for a larger image
Back on 2009, the Board of Supervisors rezoned 282.86 acres of land on Osceola Springs Road and Pleasant Valley Road from A-2 (agricultural) to R-2C (medium density residential with conditions). This made way for The Springs at Osceola, a subdivision with (116) lots ranging in size from 1 - 5 acres.
Sales of these lots has apparently been a bit slower than anticipated....
By my count, this would in the currently planned 32 single family home lots being converted into....
Rockingham County staff is recommending that this re-zoning request be tabled. The Planning Commission will be reviewing this request at their meeting this evening.
Taxes, taxes, all about taxes.
Clearly, lots on the blog lately about real estate tax rates. Well, Rockingham County has officially approved their budget and an increase of the real estate tax rate from $0.68 to $0.70.
Stay tuned for news on the final decision on the Harrisonburg real estate tax rate.
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