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!
Townhouses are now for sale in Section 2 at The Townes at Bluestone, starting at $184,900.
You can see the location of the first two buildings, as well as the pricing, here, and you can view and download the floor plans here.
If you are looking for a NEW townhouse in the City of Harrisonburg, The Townes at Bluestone may be a great option for you.
Find out more at TheTownesAtBluestone.com, or let me know (540-578-0102) if you would like to meet me over at the model home to take a look at the community.
Mark your calendars, and plan to come out to the 2014 Home & Garden Show at the Rockingham County fairgrounds this Saturday and Sunday:
As Charles Hendricks notes, over at HarrisonburgArchitect.com....
The Home and Garden show is a great kick off to spring each year, giving you access to the best and brightest in the home industry in our area.
Find more more via Facebook.
A quick update on mortgage interest rates....
So far, mortgage interest rates are staying below 4.5%, other than for two weeks at the very start of this year.
These current rates (4.3% - 4.4%) are still WONDERFUL from absolutely ANY long term perspective.
Money is cheap --- if you're buying a home now, you'll be locking in your housing costs at historically low levels.
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.
This event, held for one week in March and August every year, showcases the diverse culinary culture of downtown Harrisonburg's local restaurants - from Ethiopian to Greek to new Americana.
More than 25 restaurants and eateries feature tasty treats, combos and meals in 5 categories: sweets, breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. A list of offerings is below.
Join the Facebook event and invite your friends to experience Taste of Downtown with you.
Click the image below for a larger version....
Are you interested helping to re-imagine what Grace Street might look like in an ideal context?
Join stakeholders from the community (residents, government, leaders, etc.) alongside JMU students, staff and faculty for the Grace Street Project Community Design Charrette.
Grace Street Project Community Design Charrette
Saturday, March 22, 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Icehouse 2nd Floor Collaborative Space
217 S. Liberty Street, Harrisonburg, VA
You will be joining JMU's Systems Design & Placemaking Course and facilitator Lindsay Kinkade (Design RePublic) throughout the day in sharing ideas, telling stories, collaborating and having fun! Learn about the past, present and future of Grace Street. Brainstorm develop and rapid prototype design ideas.
Plus, a musical interlude and a chalk street stencil workshop!
Free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.
For Information or to RSVP contact Audrey Barnes (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Elise Barrella (email@example.com).
Here are some good primers to what you'll need to know if you are considering purchasing an investment property in Harrisonburg....
Types of Investment Properties In HarrisonburgIf you're thinking of buying an investment property in Harrisonburg, let's set up a meeting to discuss your goals and review some of the basics.
Will they keep going down?
Lock in now....or soon!
Late 2012 through early 2013 provided the lowest mortgage interest rates ever -- as low as 3.3%. While mortgage interest rates have now risen from those low levels, they have remained between 4.1% and 4.6% over the past six months.
These are still wonderfully low interest rates from any sort of a long term perspective, providing buyers with the opportunity to lock in their housing costs at historically low levels.
Join me at the Explore More Discover Museum this coming Saturday for a fantastic evening of fun and food.
This delicious evening will feature food and beverages from:
Beyond, Clementine Cafe, Joshua Wilton House, Local Chop &Grill House, Rick's Cantina, Capital Ale House, New Leaf Pastry Kitchen, Billy Jack's Wing & Draft Shack, Jack Brown's Beer & Burger Joint, Cuban Burger and Kline's Dairy Bar.
Click here to purchase tickets online.
If you were hoping to buy a townhouse at The Townes at Bluestone, act quickly! There is one remaining building in Section One, with seven townhouses. Of those seven....
Click here to view the available townhouses, floor plans, standard features, or photos of the new model home at The Townes at Bluestone.
Why are these townhouses selling so rapidly?
Let me know if you'd like to take a peek at the new model home at The Townes. Just call me 540-578-0102 or send me an email: scott@HarrisonburgHousingToday.com.
This is certainly a TREAT, not a TRICK.
Perhaps we'll see 3.something% interest rates again soon???
For decades, homeownership has been an American ideal and sought after by many people as a sign of stability, success and independence. There are many benefits of purchasing a home instead of leasing, starting with the much wider selection of homes that will be available to you as a buyer as opposed to as a tenant. Furthermore, as a homeowner, you will be able to make improvements to your home to make it a nicer place to live, all of which will actually benefit you - the homeowner, as opposed to solely benefiting your landlord. There are, however, some benefits of homeownership, particularly in our current housing market, that are not as readily apparent.
Today's extraordinarily low 30-year fixed mortgage interest rates (currently hovering around 4.25%) give home buyers the opportunity to lock in their housing costs for the future. If you are purchasing a home in today's market, you can secure a fixed housing cost for years to come at some of the lowest mortgage interest rates we have seen any time in the past several decades. Purchasing a $250K house with a 20% down payment and with current interest rates (4.25%) will result in $984/month in principal and interest. When rates increase to 5.25%, that payment will increase $120 to $1,104/month. When rates eventually increase to 6.25%, that payment will increase $247 to $1,231/month. Purchasing a home (now or soon) will allow you to lock in low monthly housing costs on into the future.
When deciding whether to purchase a home or rent a home, it is also important to remember that one dollar of a mortgage payment is not equivalent to one dollar of a rent payment. The interest that you pay on your mortgage is tax deductible, making a $1,000 rental payment more expensive than a $1,000 mortgage payment once tax time comes each year. Your $1,000 per month mortgage payment is likely to include around $7,200 of interest paid in the first year ($215K purchase price, 20% down payment, 4.25% interest rate). If you are in the 25% tax bracket, then paying this $7,200 of mortgage interest will result in tax savings of $1,800 over the course of the year. That then means that your $1,000 mortgage payment is only an effective payment of $850 per month – much more affordable than the supposedly equivalent $1,000 per month rental payment.
Given the option of paying $1,000 per month towards your own mortgage or in a rental payment, it is also important to note that you can either be contributing to your own retirement (or savings) plan or to that of your landlord. Over the first five years of this $1,000 per month mortgage payment ($215K purchase price, 20% down payment, 4.25% interest rate) you would have paid over $15,000 towards the principal balance of your mortgage. Thus, just by paying your mortgage payment each month, you have accumulated $15,000 of savings. Looking at the first ten years of this mortgage, you would have accumulated over 35,000 of savings. Of note – this does not even account for the potential increases in the value of your home over time.
Homeownership is not for all people at all times in their lives, but there are many benefits of owning (and thus purchasing) a home both in the short term and long term. Many of those benefits are immediately apparent, but some require a closer look at the overall financial impact of making a home purchase.
This beautiful home on College Ave, near Eastern Mennonite University, offers gorgeous Western views and a 2 bedroom in-law suite.
You could also continue to rent the in-law suite, offsetting your mortgage payment by $650/month --- giving you a $300K mortgage payment on this $425K home!More details can be found here: http://www.1897CollegeAvenue.com
Have you ever wanted your name in the Guiness Book of World Records?? Mark your calendar for October 19 for your chance & bring your kids!
Come join The Roberta Webb Child Care Center and JMU's Fraternity and Sorority Life attempt a World Record for the most people dancing the hokie pokie with hula hoops!
The following outlines the itinerary for the day!
11:00am-2:30pm: Day-of RegistrationDemonstrations and practice of the routine will be available on the top of every hour.
Each participant will receive a t-shirt, a commemorative bracelet, hula hoop, and box lunch for the first 1,200 to register and registered for the World Record.
Directions to the James Madison University Field Hockey Field can be viewed in the link below.
Learn more at n2Hoops.com.
click here for a larger version of this image
Heritage Estates is an active adult community located in Harrisonburg, Virginia featuring superb French Country architecture with flowing interior floor plans that are wonderful for entertaining. You'll also enjoy spectacular views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the golf course immediately beside Heritage Estates, the community swimming pool, and a maintenance-free lifestyle.
Updates at Heritage Estates....
At least for now, 30 year fixed mortgage interest rates seem content to hover around 4.5%. After having stayed below 4% for a year and a half (Nov 23, 2011 - June 20, 2013) mortgage interest rates jumped up rather quickly this past June. Since that time, however, rates have stayed between 4.3% and 4.6% without too much variation from week to week.
Purchasing a rental property can be an excellent way to plan for retirement, providing you with tax benefits in the short term and an income stream in the long term. Your best bet is to purchase an investment property when you are in your 30's, but a purchase later on in life can still be of great benefit to you as well.
Today's low mortgage interest rates will allow you to purchase many types of properties and immediately have positive cash flow, or at least be breaking even on a monthly basis. Financing 80% of a $150,000 townhouse purchase will require a total monthly payment of around $800 including the principal, interest, taxes, insurance and home owner's association dues. Most such townhouses will then easily be leased for $900 to $950 depending on the age, condition and location. Thus, there is a cost for getting started with this type of a retirement strategy – the 20% down payment plus closing costs – but then there will not be many costs as you move forward. Many owners of rental properties will save up their excess monthly cash flow ($100 - $150 per month) to save for any need repairs and maintenance.
As you move past the first three to five years of owning your rental property you will start to see an increasing monthly financial benefit. The largest portions of your monthly costs of the rental property – principal and interest – will stay fixed over time thanks to 30-year fixed mortgage interest rates. You will eventually start to see small increases in taxes, insurance rates and home owner's association dues, but in most cases those will surpassed by increases in rental rates over time. Thus, as time marches on, your monthly positive cash flow will increase. Five to ten years in, you may be seeing a rental rate of $1,000 to $1,050 compared to a monthly cost of $850.
With positive monthly cash flow from the first day you owned the rental property, you have effectively only had to pay 20% of the market value of a townhouse, and put yourself in a situation where your tenants will be paying the other 80% for you as they pay off your mortgage with their rental payments. Thus, over 30 years, you can thank your tenants for helping your mortgage loan balance decline down to zero. In addition, if we assume an average of 2% appreciation per year over 30 years, when your tenants have finished paying off your mortgage in 30 years, your $150,000 townhouse would be worth as much as $270,000.
Purchasing a rental property allows you to create a "retirement account" into which you made the initial deposit (the down payment) and into which other people (your tenants) will make all of the subsequent deposits. This financial transaction can provide positive cash flow from the first day of your ownership of the property, and will also provide tax benefits based on the interest that is being paid on your mortgage payments. In the mid to long term, you will have a regular source of monthly income when either the increased rental rate exceeds your monthly costs or once the mortgage is paid off. Then, after 30 (or 20 or 40) years, you can sell your rental property and cash in on your retirement savings.
Rates are down (4.31%) as compared to a few weeks ago (4.51%), even though they have climbed quite a bit from two months ago (3.59%).
Bear in mind, that these sub-4.5% rates have only existed for the past two years. Thus, we are still in a period of amazing opportunity for fixing in a low monthly housing cost given these historically low rates.
Mark your calendars....
Public meetings & charettes
City Council Chambers at 409 S. Main St.
Wednesday, July 31, 3-5 pm AND 7-9 pm
Give Input! The design team, which is composed of eight local, regional, and national firms representing multiple disciplines, will hold two public meetings and design charrettes (designers discuss solutions for park).
Presentation of initial findings and next steps
City Council Chambers at 409 S. Main St.
Saturday, August 3, 9:30 am
Learn more! This follow-up meeting will present initial findings and inform the public of the next steps in the park process.
Come on out and take an active role in helping to shape our community!
Visit the Plan Our Park Facebook page for more details.
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