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!
Maybe mortgage interest rates will never rise??? I have been thinking they would rise for quite a while now (years) but they just keep getting lower. Today's average rate of 3.43% is an absurdly wonderful opportunity to lock in your monthly housing costs at extremely low levels.
Now, admittedly, Janet Yellen (US Federal Reserve Chair) has indicated that rates could go up soon.
But until then, enjoy the low rates. If you're buying in the next 6 to 12 months, right now (or soon-ish) could be an especially opportune time to lock in your mortgage interest rates.
Oh, and here are today's rates in a longer context, of the past three years....
In local economic development news, the MillerCoors brewery in Elkton, Virginia has announced a $60 million expansion! This investment by Miller Coors will allow for the installation of new infrastructure to brew more beer brands and will result in 27 new jobs.
Some fast facts about the Shenandoah Valley MillerCoors brewery....
Are you considering a career in real estate in the Harrisonburg area? If so, let me know if you'd like to get together at some point to discuss what it is like to work as a Realtor in this area.
I love my career, and would be happy to chat with you to try to help you figure out whether it could be a good fit for you. Coffee is on me -- just email me at scott@HarrisonburgHousingToday.com.
PS. If you don't conclude that real estate is the career for you, it might be worthwhile chatting with Kyle at HarrisonburgCareerCoaching.com for further guidance.
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The Weldon Cooper Center 2015 Population Estimates show that Harrisonburg and Rockingham County are growing, as usual.
2015 Population Estimates:
Rockingham County: 79,134
Combined City/County: 133,009 (up 1% from 131,565 last year)
If we take 2000 home sales as a baseline portion of the population to be buying in any given year, and then we project forward based on actual population growth, we can conclude that....
More people than usual bought between 2001 and 2007. (housing boom)
Fewer people than usual bought between 2009 and 2012. (housing bust, and then recovery)
In 2013/2014 we may have finally returned to a "normal" portion of the local population to be buying in a given year.
Based on the data presented above, I believe the new "normal" number of people to be buying per year may be around 1,100.
Sometimes a seller is stating this as soon as they list a property: All inspectors are for informational purposes only. But sometimes a seller will introduce this amidst negotiations. This can certainly trigger some warning signals for a buyer......but should it?
Here are the top three innocent reasons why a seller would want a home inspection to be for informational purposes only....
It is, however, the second-worst time of the year to sell your home.
The data above reflects the timeframe during which properties went UNDER CONTRACT -- not when they closed. Plenty of the Summer contracts turned into Fall closings -- but the 235 figure is a reflection of how many buyers made buying decisions (signed contracts) between September and November of last year.
So....if you want to sell your home (and close on it) in 2016, you should be thinking about getting it on the market sooner rather than later.
Looking at home sales in the past year we find that....
Clearly, that also means that only 6% of our local market is comprised of home sales over $400K.
A brand new bike park with a lift system recently opened at Massanutten Resort, and Luke and I decided to go check out this past weekend. It was a blast! Admittedly, Luke crashed on his first run, sliding off of the side of a trail and tumbled down a rocky embankment (or a cliff, as the story is told) but he didn't break any bones and we had multiple successful runs later in the day, even if at a more moderate speed.
There are a variety of trails for different skill levels, and one of the most enjoyable aspects is that the ski lift will carry your bike up the mountain for you to start each run....
Read more about the new bike park via this Daily News Record article, a few excerpts of which are below....
The park features six trails along four levels of difficulties. Five are open for use and the sixth should be finished by the end of August, said Kenny Hess, Massanutten's director of sports and risk management.I expect that Luke and I will be going back again soon for another afternoon of biking and I encourage you to check it out as well. Plan your visit to the Massanutten Bike Park by checking out their hours, rates, etc. here.
Opportunities like these do not come along every day. A beautiful house located immediately adjacent to Lake Shenandoah has just been listed for sale.....
Enjoy privacy, views and direct access to Lake Shenandoah from this well maintained Lake Pointe home with a full lower level apartment! This home offers spacious one-level living with a living room with fireplace, an eat-in kitchen, formal dining room, office, master suite, two additional bedrooms and a full bath plus an rec room (with laundry room) all on the main level. The lower level features an expansive family room with full bathroom, plenty of unfinished storage space PLUS a complete one bedroom apartment with living room, kitchen, dining area, bedroom, bathroom and clothes washer/dryer! Don't miss the immaculate, oversized garage, and the large custom-built deck looking out to the 1+ acre yard, Lake Shenandoah and Massanutten peak!Find out more about this beautiful new home by visiting the property website....
Or, by walking through the home online....
Or by reviewing the floor plans....
And by that I mean that that more than 50% of the homes that sold in the past year went under contract within the first 60 days that they were on the market.
So, as a seller, if you are getting ready to put your house on the market, make sure you are thinking about price, condition and marketing.
If your house has already been on the market for 60 days, and is not under contract, it might be time to think through....
Of course, plenty of homes (46%) go under contract after they have been on the market for 60 days -- so that is not necessarily the time to panic -- but it is a good time to pause and take inventory of where things are, making sure that you feel confident in your strategy for moving forward towards a successful sale.
For even more analysis of our local housing market, check out....
Based on how the year is going thus far, I think we might see 1200 home sales this year. We are currently 79 home sales ahead of the 2015 pace at this time of year -- and if we add those 79 home sales to last year's 1125 home sales, we'd be just over 1200 sales for the year.
The only time we have seen more than 1200 sales in a year in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County was between 2003 and 2007 -- the infamous housing boom that lead to the dreaded housing bust.
It seems unlikely that 1200 home sales in 2016 will be a sign of another boom (and bust) on the way -- as we are seeing much slower and steadier growth now.
For even more analysis of our local housing market, check out....
Many housing market analysts consider a six month supply of homes for sale to be an indication of a market that is balanced between buyers and sellers. As such, and based on the information presented above, it would seem safe to say that....
For even more analysis of our local housing market, check out....
Learn more about this month's Featured Property: 580 Spring Oaks Drive
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 below, download the PDF, or read on for highlights....
First, a video overview....
Now, let's take a look at the overall market performance in July....
A few things jump out at me when looking at the chart above....
July could be seen as a disappointment in some ways. We didn't see sky high home sales, towering over all previous months of July. We only saw a tiny 1.85% increase in sales as compared to July 2015. But wait -- before we become too glum about the 110 home sales in July, let's not forget the record breaking months of sales that we saw in May and June!
Just for fun, let's look at May through July home sales for the past few years....
So, yes, I think we can be satisfied with the 110 home sales we saw in July 2016 given the slightly larger context.
The graph above is somewhat complicated, but very important as to an understanding of our local housing market. The green "SELLERS" trajectory is showing the number of homeowners trying to sell their homes. The blue "BUYERS" trajectory shows the number of buyers closing on the purchase of homes in a six month period. This graph, therefor, is a good indication of overall market balance in our local housing market, as many housing market analysts consider a six month supply of homes for sale to be a sign of a market that is balanced between buyers and sellers.
As shown above, after many years, we finally saw these trajectories cross last month. That is to say that there are now more buyers buying in a six month period than there are sellers selling. As such, if we've been approaching a balanced market for the past year, it is now definitely "in balance" -- even if that varies some from price range to price range.
Taking a look at buyer activity in the form of signed contracts, we see that July was another relatively strong month with 119 contracts signed -- as compared to 118 last July. Put in a slightly larger context, we have seen an average of 136 contracts per month over the past five months -- as compared to an average of only 117 contracts per month during the same timeframe in 2015.
One of the ways that we have achieved the market balance illustrated above is by a reduction in the number of homes for sale. As the graph above indicates, we have seen a 15% decline in inventory levels over the past year. Thus, buyers a year ago had 644 homes to choose from -- and today can only choose from 549 properties.
OK, let's cut off my ramblings about our local market there for now. There is a lot more more in my full real estate market report, but I'll let you explore that and read further on your own if you so choose. I'll continue to delve into the latest trends on HarrisonburgHousingToday.com over the next few days, but if you just can't wait, feel free to read the entire report online....
Generally speaking, you should list your home sooner rather than later.
As shown above, we are likely to see a declining number of buyers signing contracts over the next few months. August is always the busiest month of buyer activity, then September, then October.
That said, there are only 26% fewer contracts signed in October (on average) as compared to August, so it is not a drastic slowdown.
If a buyer is buying over $400K, or even over $300K, the layout of the home becomes very important to them. That is not to say that it is unimportant for a $200K buyer -- but someone buying a more expensive home oftentimes plans to stay in it for a longer time frame.
If not the #1 feedback, the #2 feedback I receive from showings of homes priced over $400K is that the layout just didn't work for the buyers. They wanted another bedroom here, instead of there. They wanted a more open floor plan. They wanted a more formal dining room. They wanted a more spacious basement.
Challengingly, the layout is something that is hard (nearly impossible) for a seller to change in order to appeal to a wider segment of buyers. Thus, if your home has a layout that continues to not work for buyer after buyer, you must either wait (and potentially wait and wait and wait) for the buyer who loves that layout -- or adjust the list price to make the house (even with its layout) more appealing to more buyers.
That said, as reflected in the conversation at the top of this post -- a great deal on a house is not always enough to sway a buyer beyond the layout challenges that a house offers.
Based on the analysis above, it would seem that sellers are not (in almost all cases) accepting home sale contingencies. Here's the logic....
I must say, I was quite surprised to find this to be the case --- I thought perhaps 10% - 20% of contracts might have kickout clauses (and thus home sale contingencies) because plenty of buyers have to sell before buying.
It would seem that most buyers are likely waiting to make offers until they have their own properties under contract (thus eliminating the need for the kickout clause) AND/OR most sellers are not accepting offers with home sale contingencies unless the buyers' houses are already under contract (thus eliminating the need for the kickout clause).
If you are a buyer, I would certainly suggest the strategy outlined above (and the only one that is apparently working with sellers right now) --- get a contract on your house and THEN make an offer on the property you would like to purchase!
Explore More Discovery Museum, in downtown Harrisonburg, is expanding upwards, onto the 2nd and 3rd floors.
The future 2nd floor Arts & Innovation area will offer eight new, interactive exhibit galleries! Explore in the tree house,build in the construction zone, fly the airplane, create movies, music and art!
The 3rd Floor Community Education Center will provide greatly needed multi-purpose space for educational programs and special events. Two new classrooms and a kitchen facility will offer unique opportunities to expand enrichment offerings.
Construction is in progress!
Read more about the expansion here and consider making a donation to support this effort.
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