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!
If you have driven on Port Republic Road or Reservoir Street near the hospital anytime in the past six months, you have likely seen the drastic changes to the landscape surrounding Reservoir Street. A significant part of that change has been the development of a new college student housing complex, called The Retreat, which is shown above.
Construction has been moving very quickly at The Retreat, with the new structures springing up seemingly overnight in some cases, while the site work is still in progress.
Reservoir Street will have certainly seen some significant changes when we look back a few years from now -- with the road expanding (in the City, and hopefully soon in the County) and the development of Robinson Park (an affordable housing complex) and The Retreat (student housing).
The buildings shown above currently under construction on Reservoir Street -- at the previous location of the Albert Long baseball field. These apartments will be called Robinson Park, and will affordable housing -- with income limits for tenants who wish to reside at Robinson Park.
The developer was planning to expand Robinson Park into a second phase on the five acre wooded parcel shown above, adjacent to the current development, but the County tabled the developer's rezoning request.
A few snippets from this week's Daily News Record article....
Read on for a bit of context for this exciting announcement....
PHOTOS ARE KING....
According to National Association of Realtors research, photos are the most valuable feature to buyers when viewing a property online. However, even with lots of beautiful photos, buyers are still left wondering "How do these photos fit together?"
BUYERS PREFER INTERACTIVITY....
Until recently, a video tour was the best way to try to deliver this value - but many buyers don't like video tours because they are not interactive. But, what if . . . we could combine the value of all of these features and put the buyer in control of the experience? It is now possible, using Matterport 3D Showcase (TM) technology, and the results are stunning!
MATTERPORT -- NOT JUST IN THE BIG CITIES....
You may have heard about Matterport from your friends or relatives in large metro areas across the country where it is being used to market high end homes. But here's the exciting part -- just as you no longer have to drive to "the big city" to get your Krispy Kreme fix, you can now market your home in Harrisonburg with Matterport!
HOW IT'S DONE....
Once we capture 3D imagery of your home with my Matterport camera, potential home buyers will be able to explore the home online to their heart's content -- by walking through the home, exploring a dollhouse view of the house, or by viewing the floor plan from the top down.
AND NOW, VIRTUAL REALITY....
Some of you know that I have been using this technology for over a year now, perhaps to market and sell your home -- but now there's even more fun news! Homes marketed with Matterport can now be viewed in Virtual Reality! This latest advance will TRULY give a potential buyer the experience of walking through your home -- whether from across town, across the country, or around the world.
Feel free to explore this new technology yourself at WalkThroughThisHome.com, or let's set up a time to meet over coffee, and I'll let you walk through a home via my virtual reality headset! Warning -- it's pretty fun!
For the past four years (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016) and even some before that, we started off the year with enough homes actively listed for sale to last us for right around six months -- or a bit longer. This balance (a six month supply of housing inventory) is considered by many analysts to be an indicator of a balanced housing market.
Well, this year (2017) is quite a bit different. Inventory dropped 26% over the past year, and sales rose 17%. As you would, thus, expect - we're starting off the year in a slightly different spot, as shown above.
This year, the amount of homes actively listed for sale (413) will only last us 3.8 months based on last year's pace of sales -- which is quite a bit different than the balance we have seen at the start of the year for the past four years.
So -- this year will be interesting. Will sales decline because there aren't enough homes for buyers to consider? Will prices rise as many buyers fight over a small number of listings? Will we see just as many home sales last year, but with an even lower "days on market" as each new listing gets snapped right up by a buyer?
You have the opportunity to have an impact on the future of the City of Harrisonburg!
The Comprehensive Plan presents a vision of Harrisonburg's future. It identifies steps to move toward that vision by providing information about current conditions, long-term goals and objectives, and recommended implementation strategies.
Virginia requires that local Planning Commissions review their comprehensive plans once every five years. The City of Harrisonburg last updated the plan in 2011 -- and last year (2016) the Planning Commission determined that it should be updated again.
Find out more about the Comprehensive Plan update process here.
Sign up to receive updates on the comprehensive plan process here.
Read the 2011 Comprehensive Plan here.
Now, for the annual showdown between the City of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County, though first noting that:
There are any number of factors that affect whether buyers end up buying in the City or County, including what type of property they are seeking, how much land they desires, school systems, employer locations, and much more.
So -- 2016 is over, and 2017 has come. Let's use the data above to draw a few conclusions about what 2016 home sales mean for buyers and sellers in 2017....
Ready to buy or sell? Have questions? Just send me an email at scott@HarrisonburgHousingToday.com or call me at 540-578-0102.
And here are two handy references to prepare yourself to buy or sell a home....
Learn more about this month's Featured Property: 5448 Jesse Bennett Way
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 2016....
Home sales increased 12% in December 2016 to add to the overall excitement of the year and we now, finally have a full year of data to work with -- and my oh my, what a year it was in the Harrisonburg and Rockingham County residential real estate market!
With all of the data in, we find....
As you can see, above, home sales started quickly in 2016 and never slowed down -- finishing the year out well above the pace of home sales in any recent year.
Now, let's take a closer look at the trends we have seen over the past two years....
The graph above shows a rolling 12 months of the number of home sales in the Harrisonburg and Rockingham County area, as well as the median price of the homes that sold during these time frames. Each data point shows one year's worth of home sales, which eliminates the volatility of evaluating sales figures on a monthly basis. What jumps out to me is that....
As shown above, buyers only have 413 homes to choose from today -- as compared to 560 one year ago. That is a 26% decline in the number of homes for sale over the past year -- all while we have seen a 16% increase in the number of homes sold.
In some ways, the increased sales have created the inventory problem -- buyers have been purchasing homes left and right and depleting the inventory of homes for sale. But now that inventory levels are so low, we must wonder whether sellers will keep pace (in listing their homes) with the buyer demand that we are likely to see in 2017.
I'll pause here for now, with you knowing that sales are up (16%), prices are up (4%) and inventory is down (26%) in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County. There is plenty more to read in my full monthly market report, which you can find over at HarrisonburgHousingMarket.com.
In coming days on my blog, I'll be exploring....
And -- as is always my encouragement -- if you will be buying or selling a home in the near future, start learning about our local housing market sooner rather than later! Being informed will allow you to make better real estate decisions.
NOW is your opportunity to have input on the City's plan for a shared use path on Garbers Church Road.
Be there! Wednesday, January 11 (tomorrow!) from 5PM - 7PM at 305 S Dogwood Dr.
Read on for more details....
Connect Our Schools Garbers Church Information Meeting Wednesday
The City of Harrisonburg will host an open-house meeting to share conceptual designs for the Garbers Church Road Shared Use Path (aka the Connect Our Schools campaign). We want to get out the word and invite you attend to learn about the project, ask questions, show desire for connected paths in Harrisonburg, and offer input on path design.
Why: We need interested neighbors to attend because this is an important step early in the design process to ensure these greenways are in located in the most useful corridors and serve the needs of neighborhoods, students, and the needs of the most residents.
When: Wednesday, January 11 from 5:00pm-7:00pm
Where: Community Activities Center at Westover Park (305 S. DogwoodDr.)
City Event Page and SVBC Connect Our Schools Event page:
You can see a detailed map here.
Please RSVPJoin City event on Facebook and SHARE it with your Friends
Join SVBC event on Facebook and SHARE it with your Friends
Additional information on the project can be found here.
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.
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.
Well, it seems the mortgage interest rates might really, finally, be on the rise -- for good. Over the past several years there were several times when I thought they might be rising -- but then they'd fall again a few weeks later.
We have seen a rather steady increase in mortgage rates since November 2016 -- and it is not yet clear when that increase will slow down or stabilize. Maybe around 4.25%? Hopefully?
From June 2016 - October 2016 we saw average rates below 3.5%. We're now up to 4.3%. That types of a change in mortgage interest rates impacts payments for buyers and could affect the number of home sales we will see in 2017.
While I don't think we'll see rates fall back below 4% in 2017 -- I am hopeful that they'll stay between 4.25% and 4.75%. Stay tuned for further updates.
As is my annual tradition, I am making some predictions about what we'll see in the Harrisonburg and Rockingham County real estate market in 2017. Overall, I am cautiously optimistic about what the coming year will look like in this area.
As shown above, I am predicting 1350 home sales in 2017. Here's why....
Now, on median sales prices (our best measure of home values)....
As shown above, I am predicting a 3% increase in the median sales price to $198,500 during 2017. Here's why....
So -- those are my predictions for 2017. What do YOU think? Feel free to email me (scott@HarrisonburgHousingToday.com) with your thoughts, questions and input.
So, last year, I made some predictions about what we'd see in 2016....
As shown above -- I was WAAAY too conservative in predicting how many home sales we would see in 2016. We ended up seeing a 16% increase in sales, not the 5% increase that I predicted.
Now, as to home prices....
It seems I was able to predict the sales price trajectory much more accurately. I thought we would see an increase to a median sales price of $192,500 -- and the median sales price ended up at $192,900for the year.
Stay tuned -- I'll make some 2017 predictions in the coming days.
All home sales have not yet been reported but it is now clear that there were upwards of 1300 home sales in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County last year. We are likely to see that figure rise a bit more over the next few days as the last few sales are reported in our local MLS.
This is a significant year-over-year increase in home sales as compared to previous years....
Stay tuned for my full market report in the next week or so, as well as predictions for the 2017 housing market.
Oh, and HAPPY NEW YEAR!
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