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!
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If Hotel Madison is built in the location shown above, it is likely to be without any financial support from the City of Harrisonburg.
A private developer, JMU and the City of Harrisonburg have been negotiating for months on details of a potential partnership between the three entities to build a hotel and conference center on the site shown above -- but that deal has now apparently fallen apart.
The developer was asking for $10 million towards the conference center construction, which would be a part of the overall $40 million cost of the entire project.
Per today's Daily News Record article, after nearly every detail was in place, the City made a few changes to the draft memorandum of understanding, and the JMU Foundation could not agree to those changes.
The developer indicates that the project will not be able to move forward without the now unlikely private-public partnership.
Read more in today's Daily News Record article, or catch up on how this all played out....
Per NerdWallet, Harrisonburg is Virginia's fastest growing City.
Set in the Blue Ridge Mountains in northwestern Virginia, Harrisonburg's 32.1% income growth, plus growth in population and jobs sent it to the top of our list. The area has a farming tradition, but science and academics are now leading industries in town. DBT Data operates a cyber integration center in Harrisonburg and SRI International, a bioscience research corporation, recently expanded its offices in town. The area is also home to James Madison University, which has an enrollment of more than 18,000 students per year. City planners project that Harrisonburg will claim more than 60,000 residents by 2030. In preparation for new residents and future growth, the city is following its Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance plan to make downtown Harrisonburg a destination for the region and an engine of economic growth. The whole city's pitching in- volunteers have logged more than 85,000 volunteer hours so far on the project.Per the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber of Commerce, we are also one of the top 20 emerging metro areas.
As suspected a few years ago, the location of the new hospital (now Sentara RMH Medical Center) did indeed bring with it plenty of additional commercial (and residential) development in its immediate vicinity.
Earlier this week, the Board of Supervisors approved a rezoning request for "Coffman's Corner" -- a new commercial development intended to be developed at the intersection of Stone Spring Road and Port Republic Road, and with frontage on Ridgedale Road. It is a small, and somewhat irregularly shaped piece of land, so much so that it won't have a VDOT road system -- it will have private roads, maintained by a Property Owners Association.
County staff approved this rezoning in February 2014, and the Planning Commission on March 4, 2014. This property is across the street (more or less) from The Reserve at Stoneport, an upscale apartment complex currently being constructed.
Per the developer's narrative....
Board OKs Land For Development (Daily News Record, March 28, 2014)
Details from the Rockingham County Board of Supervisors Agenda Packet
Context is everything --- and the map above provides a great snapshot of major developments taking place over the past seven years (2007-2013) in downtown Harrisonburg.
Exciting times for downtown Harrisonburg!
Click here for a larger version of the map above.
This map is from the Harrisonburg's Downtown Streetscape Plan, a 36 MB, 89-page PDF that can be found here.
If you've been wondering what is being built on the corner of East Market Street and Country Club Road, wonder no longer. A fifth McDonalds location is being built in the previous location of First Bank and Trust Co. Read more via the Daily News Record.
The former Dave's Downtown Taverna building, an enormous 6,500 square foot building in downtown Harrisonburg will soon house a new restaurant being opened by the owners of the Byers Street Bistro and Sauced in Staunton and The Palms in Lexington. Read more via the Daily News Record.
Finally, the Kmart on University Boulevard will be closing in June. Read more via the Daily News Record.
A 205-room hotel and 21,000 SF conference center might be built on South Main Street between Grace Street and Cantrell Avenue through a public-private partnership. This $40 million project could result in over $1 million in tax revenues for the City during its first year of operations per a feasibility study recently provided to the City. The City of Harrisonburg is being asked to pay for $10 million of the project, which would cover the cost of the conference center. The developer would build the hotel and conference center on JMU-owned land in the location described and shown above.
As a side note, this is being described as a downtown hotel and conference center --- though the corner of Cantrell Avenue and South Main Street doesn't quite seem downtown to me --- or to the creators of the downtown maps.
Read more about this project....
Featured Home: 1787 Broadridge Drive, Harrisonburg, VA
I just published my monthly report on the Harrisonburg and Rockingham County real estate market -- and despite a slower than expected November, the full year of home sales data is still looking great.
Click here to download the 28 page PDF, click here to read the full report online, or scroll down for some highlights.
As shown above, November was a month of mixed indicators....
Contracts declined rather unexpected in October, which could have been a slowing down of our overall housing market after a fantastic first 10 months of the year --- but with a bit more data to now work with, I believe contract numbers were low in October due to buyer uncertainty during the temporary federal government shutdown. As shown above, November contracts bounced back, showing a 57% improvement over last November.
Inventory levels continue to decline in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County, with only 584 properties currently on the market --- a 22% decline from two years ago, and a far cry from the 1,000+ properties on the market a year or so before that. These declines in inventory are helping to balance the market between buyers and sellers.
There is a LOT more the full report, so click here to download the full December 2013 Harrisonburg & Rockingham County Real Estate Market Report.
An Important Caveat: Yes, our overall housing market is improving. But no, that does not apply equally to all price ranges, locations and property types. We can chat about your specific property to see whether that segment of the market is performing better or worse than the overall market.
And as always, if you're interested in talking to me about buying a home in Harrisonburg or Rockingham County.....or if you are interested in selling your current home.....just drop me a line by email (scott@HarrisonburgHousingToday.com) or call me at 540-578-0102.
As published in this month's Shenandoah Valley Business Journal....
The Harrisonburg and Rockingham County area have long enjoyed a stable and diverse local economy anchored by some of our area's largest employers. Those include James Madison University, Rockingham Memorial Hospital, Cargill, RR Donnelley, Massanutten Resort, Merck, Rosetta Stone, Eastern Mennonite University, Miller Coors, Dynamic Aviation and White Wave.
The wide variety of employment sectors represented in our local area has provided stability to our overall local economy, which in turn has helped our local housing market remain more resilient than many around the country.
Our current unemployment rate (5.3 percent) is well below the national rate (7.3 percent) and that difference was even more pronounced three short years ago when our local unemployment rate was 6.5 percent compared to the U.S. unemployment rate of 9.5 percent.
Our relatively low local unemployment rate has kept foreclosures from becoming too significant of an issue in our local market.
While there have been more foreclosures than normal in recent years, they have tapered off over the past year.
Between 2000 and 2007 there were only between 50 and 100 foreclosures in any given year in all of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County. This jumped up to a peak of 270 foreclosures in 2010, but has since declined to only 181 in the first 10 months of 2013.
With fewer people losing their jobs in the economic downtown, we saw fewer people losing their homes to foreclosure. We also did not see as large of a real estate bubble that could have caused more local homeowners to be underwater on their mortgages.
The most significant increases in home values in this area happened between 2002 (median price = $136,000) and 2006 (median price = $227,000). Home values shot up 67 percent during this four-year period, which was certainly not a sustainable rate of growth.
However, due largely to the stability of our local economy, we did not largely enter into the declining spiral of rapidly increasing foreclosures paired with rapidly decreasing home values. In the following five years 2006 to 2011 our local home values declined only 18 percent from $226,000 to $186,000.
Since that time, we have seen home values start to increase again.
If there had been greater turmoil in employment in our local area, more people would have lost their homes to foreclosure, which would have dragged home values down even further, as experienced in many larger metropolitan areas.
The strength and diversity of our local economy have helped us to weather many storms in the past, including the recent collapse of the housing market in the United States and ensuing struggles in the U.S. economy.
As economic indicators start to trend more positively, our local area seems poised to continue to grow and diversify.
Exciting new projects such as Innovation Village @ Rockingham will likely continue to spur on our local economy, providing further stability for our local housing market for years and decades to come.
The new Rockingham Memorial Hospital (now Sentara RMH Medical Center) recently built the RMH Funkhouser Women's Center and is now expanding again.
The Sentara RMH Orthopedics Center and Advanced Imaging Services will be a new, free-standing, two-story, 52,000 square-foot facility that is planned to open in September 2015, located next to the Funkhouser Women's Center.
"We are pleased to have an extremely talented staff of medical professionals who are able to offer a comprehensive range of high-quality orthopedic services to our growing community," said Carrie Willetts, program director for Orthopedics, Sports and Spine Services. "The increasing need for these services, and our expansion of staff to meet the growing need for them, led the Sentara RMH Board to approve construction of this new facility."Read more about this exciting addition at RMH here.
An auction was scheduled for University Fields back in September -- and now we know who purchased the property.
Vesper Holdings, a real estate investment firm in New York City, purchased University Fields for $19 million on October 28th.
Five million dollars of capital expenditures are planned including renovating the interiors of the apartments, clubhouse and amenities as well as enhancements to the exteriors of each building and technology upgrades.
Pertinent details about University Fields....
Read the entire press release here.
Read today's Daily News Record article here.
View many more local economic indicators here: HarrisonburgHousingMarket.com
Mortgage interest rates have stayed relatively stable over the past few weeks, despite the shenanigans going on in Washington.
The current average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage is 4.28%.
Virginia is the best state for business, as ranked by Forbes Magazine for 2013.....
"Our study looks at six important factors for businesses: costs, labor supply, regulatory environment, current economic climate, growth prospects and quality of life. Virginia is the only state to rank in the top five in four areas—only missing on costs and growth prospects."Read more here at Forbes.com.
A private developer (dpM Partners, LLC) is proposing to build a hotel and conference center in Downtown Harrisonburg. The $40M project would be (per the proposal) paid for with $9.5M of public funds towards the 18,180 SF conference center.....and the remaining $39.5M of private funds would help build the remainder of the project to include a 205-room hotel and a restaurant.
And the latest update is that the developer will likely be ready to present the detailed plans (and feasibility study) to City Council by early summer. Read today's DNR article for more details.
White Waves Foods is expanding its Mount Crawford facility, with a recently announced $70M investment. This project will double White Wave's warehouse space, create three new product lines, and add 36 jobs.
Products from the brands shown above (Silk, International Delight, Horizon Organic and Land O Lakes) are all manufactured in the Mount Crawford facility.
Click here to learn more from the April 19, 2013 DNR article.
Downtown Harrisonburg has seen some major growth over the past eight years and there are exciting projects on the horizon. Perhaps that's why Downtown Harrisonburg was recently featured in the national publication pictured above, Main Street Now. In fact, the magazine actually features a lengthy case study highlighting the successes in downtown Harrisonburg, with quotes from Eddie Bumbaugh, Barry Kelley, Andrew Forward and John Sallah....
Click here to download the Jan/Feb 2013 issue of Main Street Now to read the full story about how Downtown Harrisonburg has been transformed in recent years.
Back when SRI International opened a research facility in Harrisonburg (Rockingham County) in 2009 the hope was that this research facility would be a catalyst for new companies being launched in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County based on the research, discovery and innovations at SRI Shenandoah Valley. After all, that is what happened in the Silicon Valley at SRI International's primary research facility.
We may now be seeing the first spin-off company resulting from SRI International's presence in Harrisonburg.
The full details are in an SRI press release, but in summary, researchers at SRI Shenandoah Valley developed a proprietary bed bug detection technology that is being licensed to a new Harrisonburg-based company called Redcoat Solutions, Inc.
"Scientists at SRI developed a rapid, sensitive test that recognizes molecules specific to bed bugs. Redcoat intends to market the device under the brand name RAPID PURSUIT™. Based on preliminary testing, RAPID PURSUIT presents a number of advantages: unlike other detection devices, the test requires no sophisticated equipment and registers a response in minutes, and RAPID PURSUIT is designed to detect only bed bugs, avoiding confusion that could be caused by the presence of other pests."It certainly is exciting to see this first spin off company that will be based right here in Harrisonburg....
"Redcoat Solutions, Inc.'s Chief Executive Officer, John Hall, has drawn upon his knowledge of the bed bug detection and treatment industry in guiding the company toward the upcoming launch of RAPID PURSUIT. "We have assembled an excellent management team, and we have worked closely with SRI to develop a great product that will revolutionize bed bug detection in several industries," said Hall. "We look forward to taking RAPID PURSUIT to market very soon, and we already are at work on new products that we will introduce over the next several months. Redcoat has a great business opportunity, and one of the best things is that it will be based right here in the Shenandoah Valley.""Read more via SRI International's press release.
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