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!
Average interest rates edged up last week (from 3.59% to 3.69%) but from a historical perspective, they are still ridiculously low....
Thus, the opportunity persists to lock in your housing costs at very, very low levels. Looking for a referral for a great local lender? Email me at scott@HarrisonburgHousingToday.com for several recommendations.
I recently created HarrisonburgAssessments.com, which analyzes the relationship between sales prices and assessed values. And then it hit me -- what if we compared list prices to assessed values -- might we find the best buying opportunities in and around Harrisonburg?
Introducing . . . . BestDealsInHarrisonburg.com!
Are the 30 properties on this new website REALLY the best deals in Harrisonburg? Possibly.
The properties featured on BestDealsInHarrisonburg.com are being offered at a low list price compared to their assessed value. This is likely to mean that they are a "good deal" -- though if their assessed value happens to be high (relative to their market value) then the deal won't be as sweet.
As always, consult a Realtor (such as myself) for expert advice on whether any particular property really is a great deal. BestDealsInHarrisonburg.com is simply shuffling some good prospects to the top of the pile for your consideration.
What are you waiting for? Go check it out at BestDealsInHarrisonburg.com.
As shown above, we are starting to see fewer foreclosures in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County.
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.
If you are in the market to buy a home, some of the properties you might be considering are foreclosures – but there are some distinctions to be aware of at different stages of the foreclosure process. It is possible to buy a home from the owner before they are foreclosed on even if they cannot pay off their mortgage – this is called a short sale. Or, you might buy a property at the courthouse steps when it is being auctioned – this is called a trustee sale. Finally, if a property does not sell at the auction, you can buy the property from the lender after they have taken ownership of the property – this is called a bank owned property or REO property.
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.
Here's my monthly updates on long-term mortgage interest rates and they (AGAIN!) have dropped over the past month. The average rate is now 3.66%. It is a great time to lock in your interest rate if you are buying a home!
If you're thinking of buying your significant other a house for Christmas (mostly a joke) you might want to lock in your mortgage interest rate NOW. 30 year fixed mortgage interest rates continue to linger below 4%, which will provide you with an excellent opportunity to have low monthly payments on that exciting Christmas gift. :)
Take a few minutes to walk through this immaculate home just outside the City offers privacy and long views from the covered porch and wrap-around deck. Enjoy a spacious home with beautiful interior finishes including a large kitchen with breakfast bar, a dining area, living room with wood beams, a sitting room with a stone-front gas fireplace and a mudroom / laundry room. The expansive master suite features two walk-in closets and a large master bathroom with jetted tub and tile shower. All bedrooms are spacious and feature ceiling fans. Don't miss the hardwood floors, ceramic tile, recessed lights, upgraded refrigerator, high ceilings, raised bed gardens, partially fenced yard, upgraded light fixtures, two zone heat pump and water softener!
Click here to walk through this home now, on your computer, phone or tablet.
Or, visit this home's property website.
Or, view lots of pretty photos of this home by clicking the collage below....
Today -- December 12th -- 5PM until 10PM -- Downtown Harrisonburg
Shop Local for the holidays! You will enjoy extended store hours, special promotions and events, art and live music, holiday treats, and plenty of festive cheer!
Special promotions this evening include....
Midtowne Bottle Shop | Open til 11pm
The Lady Jane | Open til 10pm
Ten Thousand Villages | 10am-10pm
Walkabout Outfitter | 10am - 10pm
Downtown Wine & Gourmet
OASIS Fine Art & Craft | Open til 10pm
Located in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley, Harrisonburg is the perfect home for your business and your career. Here, local businesses benefit from:
Learn more at HarrisonburgDevelopment.com....
I promise I won't play-by-play this, but interest rates fell again this week, to an average of 3.92% for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage.
If you're getting ready to buy, there is a compelling reason to do it now / soon to take advantage of these great rates.
For the very first time in 2014, the average mortgage interest rate is below 4% for a 30 year fixed rate mortgage. The national average as of yesterday was 3.97%.
The last time we saw interest rates in the 3%'s was in June 2013.
Tell your son or daughter to put on their architect hat -- it's time for the SVBA Green Playhouse Design Competition!
There are two categories of students, those in K – 9 and those in Grade 10 – post graduate. Students are welcome to participate as an independent project, class project, or just for fun.
The designs created should be shown on a 24" x 36" poster board, scale drawings, and / or physical model.
The winning entry in each category will receive a $50 gift certificate to Larkin Arts and one winning entry will be built at the SVBA Home and Garden show on Saturday April 11, 2015.
The playhouse that is built will then be auctioned off to benefit the Explore More Discovery Museum in downtown Harrisonburg.
For those teachers wanting to use this in their class but a little unsure of how to go about the design process, Harrisonburg architect, Charles Hendricks can assist getting your class started. Simply contact him to schedule a time to visit your group.
There aren't many new townhouses going up in Harrisonburg -- but The Townes at Bluestone is one example of a new townhouse development that is proving to be very popular with buyers.
These townhouses feature plenty of upscale features including:
The next set of townhouses with garages (Lots 98-101) is being released this week. A few price points to consider at The Townes include....
Find out more about The Townes at Bluestone....
Don't miss this amazing show, taking place on September 18 - 20.
PLUS...you have the opportunity to Bring the World into Your Home!
Host a member of the cast to connect with other countries and cultures, share your community and local traditions, and receive two complimentary tickets to the show. As a host family, you are simply asked to provide a bed, breakfast and dinner and limited local transportation.
If you are interested in hosting a cast member (Sept 15 - 22) please contact Jennifer Carson at 712-541-9880 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fixed mortgage interest rates keep declining....now to their lowest level thus far in 2014. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage is now 4.1%.
If you are under contract to buy a home, it may be wise to lock in your rate now!
While there aren't many foreclosure sales scheduled, and we have been seeing fewer foreclosures compared to home sales, there are still a good number of bank owned homes in the system for sale right now.
You can always find the most current listing of bank owned homes online at HarrisonburgREO.com.
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about these properties.
A new model home was just completed at Heritage Estates, an active adult community in Harrisonburg with a swimming pool and located adjacent to Heritage Oaks Golf Course.
Enjoy the photos below, check out the entire set on Flickr, and if you, or your parent(s) are considering a move and would be looking for a low maintenance home in a community with a swimming pool and friendly neighbors, let's meet over at the new model home at Heritage Estates so I can tell you a bit more about the community.
Learn more about Heritage Estates at HeritageEstates.us.
The Bowling Company at Court Square wants to build a six lane bowling alley in downtown Harrisonburg where you can bowl five types of bowling with pin boys to set up your pins.
Watch a video and learn all about their hopes and dreams here.
Join me in making a financial contribution towards their campaign on indiegogo.
Looking for bank owned homes in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County? You can find all active listings at HarrisonburgREO.com.
If you're interested in receiving email updates of new listings of bank owned homes, just drop me a line at scott@HarrisonburgHousingToday.com and I will set that up for you.
Also, you can find out about upcoming foreclosure sales at HarrisonburgForeclosures.com.
Fixed mortgage interest rates (30 year) continue their downward trend towards 4%. The average rate right now is an astonishingly low 4.12%.
If you're buying now, or soon, today would seem to be a GREAT day to lock in your interest rate!
Guess what, they largely don't exist....with one exception.
If you were a home buyer looking for a home under $200K with everything on one level.....and you wanted something built in the past 20 years so you wouldn't have too much maintenance, you wouldn't find many options.
Nearly all of the properties built in the past 20 years for less than $200K (with 2+ beds and 2+ baths) are two-story townhouses.
The one exception.... Founders Way Condominiums.
These brand new 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom condos offer an open floor plan with upgrades including hardwood laminate flooring, granite countertops and more.
Check out some photos here and here.
Check out pricing and availability here.
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