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!
I have come to know these two things to be true....
That changed earlier this week, when nine such properties were listed for sale. Click here to review the details of these investment properties -- they house lots of students, paying healthy amounts of rent, and thus they carry a high price tag.
This full-day conference provides professional development and networking opportunities to entrepreneurs, managers, and business owners.
Click here to learn more about the schedule of events, speakers and workshops.
Click here to register for the event.
Never before have home buyers been able to lock in such low mortgage interest rates, which sets up 2012/2013 home buyers to have ultra-low housing costs on into the future. For the past six months, most home buyers have been able to lock in 30-year fixed mortgage interest rates between 3.3% and 3.6%. Over the past four decades (since Freddie Mac started tracking this data) the average U.S. interest has never been this low --- in fact, this average mortgage interest rate had never dipped below 4.0% until October 2012.
To put today's low mortgage interest rates in perspective, a home buyer financing 80% of their purchase at the most recent average rate (3.41%) would have a monthly payment (principal and interest only) of $622. Just one year ago, the average rate was 3.90%, which would have resulted in a monthly payment of $660, and two years ago the average rate was 4.91%, which equates to a $744 payment each month. As can be seen, locking in a mortgage interest rate today can create tremendous monthly savings for years into the future.
Not only do today's home buyers have the unique opportunity to lock in a low interest rate, they are also potentially buying at the lowest housing prices that we will see for many years to come. Local home values increased quickly between 2003 and 2006, with a 51% increase in median price over a three year period. Since that time, home values have been slowly declining, showing an overall 9% decline between 2006 and 2012. Home values now appear to have stabilized, with annualized median sales prices steady for the past 23 months. We are likely to see home prices slowly start to improve again over the coming years.
The lowest mortgage interest rates ever combined with the lowest home prices that we are likely to see over the next 5-10 years create a unique opportunity for buyers who are willing and able to act now to buy a home. The first steps in taking advantage of this opportunity should include talking to a local mortgage lender to become preapproved for a mortgage, and talking to a Realtor about what you are looking for in a new home.
Sign up NOW for the Valley 4th Run in downtown Harrisonburg. Last year over 400 people participated in the 1st Annual race and raised money for local charities. This year you too can participate, having a fun time with your family, friends and fellow community members, while supporting one of these great organizations:
March 2008 Annualized Median Sales Price = $197,000
March 2013 Annualized Median Sales Price = $175,000
March 2008 Average 30-Year Fixed Mortgage Interest Rate = 5.97%
March 2013 Average 30-Year Fixed Mortgage Interest Rate = 3.57%
The graph above shows the impact of combining low home prices and ultra low mortgage interest rates by analyzing the monthly payment (principal + interest) assuming 80% financing of the median sales price at the average mortgage interest rate.
As you can see, this monthly payment would have been $942 back in March 2008, and is only $634 today.
Today's low housing prices and historically low mortgage interest rates provide unique opportunities for home buyers!
I just published my monthly housing market report for Harrisonburg and Rockingham County (download here) and good news abounds in many/most segments of our local housing market.
(Beautiful Cover Property: 1920 Marigold Circle, Harrisonburg, VA)
As shown above, there are many positive trends in the local housing market....
Even if March was a bit slower with home sales (+1.5%) the pace of contracts skyrocketed to 114 contracts during March 2013. This marks an astonishing 31% increase over last March, and is the highest pace of monthly contracts since April 2010 which was nearly the last opportunity for a buyer to take advantage of the home buyer tax credit.
As shown above, despite this being the spring selling season, inventory levels have dropped again --- with only 599 homes currently listed for sale. This marks a 15% decline in inventory level over the past 12 months.
Here are a few other tidbits to entice you to download the full report....
Also, here are a few other articles of note from the past month....
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.
There seems to be some talk of trying to establish an indoor climbing / training facility in Harrisonburg. I'd love to see this happen, as would my son, Luke.
Connect with Harrisonburg Climbers on Facebook.
Head over to Clementine on on Wed, April 24 at 8:00 PM where the local climbing community will be coming together to gauge interest in the project and begin a discussion.
Make plans to attend the Shenandoah Valley Builders Association Home & Garden show this Saturday or Sunday at the Rockingham County Fairgrounds.
In addition to a wide variety of home and garden companies that can talk to you about building, renovating or improving your home, this year you will also find....
Lest I be accused of only talking about mortgage interest rates when they are falling....
As you'll see above, interest rates have generally been on the rise since the beginning of the year. After staying below 3.5% between September 2012 and January 2013, they have now edged back up.
These mortgage interest rates are, of course, still unbelievably low -- both over the long-term (the past year's rates are the lowest ever) --- as well as in the short term (rates are 0.5% lower than a year ago).
If you are considering a home purchase this spring or summer, now might be an excellent time to become pre-approved, find a house and lock in an ultra-low mortgage interest rate!
If you are looking for low-maintenance living under $200K in or near Harrisonburg, primarily on one-level, there aren't many options out there --- or there weren't many options, until Founders Way Condominiums started being built.
These upscale condos with an open floor plan feature two or three bedrooms and range in price from $150K to $200K.
View photos of a: two bedroom condo | three bedroom condo
View more details at FoundersWay.com.
Let me know if you have questions, or if you'd like to take a tour of these new condos.
Don't miss this FREE RECEPTION on Monday from 5p-7p at Clementine!
Enjoy refreshments, toast to another year of downtown success, and hear exciting plans for the future! Awards presented for Design Excellence, Volunteer of the Year, and Partner of the Year.
I have several clients who have purchased real estate using a Self-Directed IRA. While there are certainly some risks, and it can seem like a complex process at first, there are some distinct advantages of considering this strategy....
Here are several articles that will help you better understand the concept....
Innovation Village @ Rockingham is a 365-acre, Class-A planned community located in Rockingham County, Virginia, home of SRI International Shenandoah Valley, where innovators and entrepreneurs can collaborate and create their own businesses.
With strategic partner James Madison University, IV@R is destined to become a high-tech and bio-tech hub, perfectly suited for businesses and organizations in the life sciences, energy, information technology, and agriculture and crop science industries.
Learn more about Innovation Village @ Rockingham....
There are three Multiple Listing Services (MLS's) where a Harrisonburg or Rockingham County property might be listed for sale....
There are, however, always a few listings in the GAAR MLS and/or MRIS that are not in the HRAR MLS. (Are you following these acronyms yet?) These secret listings (not in the HRAR MLS) are often great finds because many local buyers won't even know they exist.
Here are some quick links so that you can check them out over time....
If you'd like to be notified of these secret listings by e-mail as they come on the market, just drop me a note at scott@HarrisonburgHousingToday.com and I'll set you up.
Check out this amazing local holiday shopping guide from OldSouthHigh.com --- and get to shopping!
Tour Old Town Homes and visit downtown lofts and work spaces decorated for the holidays.
Dec. 2 from 1-5 p.m.
A SELECTION OF OLD TOWN HOMES
Read more about the Downtown Holiday Tour in this Nov 24 article in the Daily News Record.
During the real estate boom, many people were trying to "get rich quick" by investing in real estate – and many people succeeded. Now that the market has cooled back down, there are still great investment opportunities, but you have to know where to look.
Foreclosure Auctions offer a unique opportunity to buy a property at a price that could be much lower than market value. A lender will open up the bidding at such a Trustee Sale with a price typically dictated by the remaining balance on the owner's mortgage plus the Trustee's fees. In many cases, this opening bid is higher than market value --- but occasionally, there will be great opportunities to buy a property at the courthouse steps and then keep it as a rental property, or fix it up and sell it. The caveat to this, of course, is that you will usually not have the opportunity to view the interior of these properties before the auction. You can review upcoming Trustee Sales online at HarrisonburgForeclosures.com.
Bank Owned Properties are those that do not sell at the courthouse steps and thus come to be owned by the bank that foreclosed on them. These properties typically offer better than average buying opportunities – but they are not amazing deals – the bank wants to recoup as much of their loss as possible. Buying a bank owned property is relatively straightforward, though it requires wading through the lengthy additional contract documents provided by the lender. You can review upcoming Trustee Sales online at HarrisonburgREO.com.
Under-Priced Homes don't come around too often, but occasionally you (or I) will spot a property on the market that is priced lower than it should be. Typically this happens as the result of an above-average motivation to sell – perhaps an owner needs to leave the area for a new job, or there might be bigger picture financial issues, or a divorce, etc. Whatever the reason, there are usually a few properties on the market with better-than-they-should-be asking prices, providing unique buying opportunities for the alert investor.
Buying in bulk can offer you a discount, just as when you shop at Costco. If you are in a position to acquire several properties at once, from the same owner, you will typically have much more negotiating ability than you would otherwise. This could include multiple investment properties owned by one individual or entity, or perhaps new construction properties.
If you are interested in investing in real estate in Harrisonburg or Rockingham County, there are opportunities to be tracked down, at the sources above and using a few other research strategies depending on your specific goals . Don't forget, of course, to also consider how you will finance the purchase, whether you will rent or flip the property, and the tax implications of investing. It can still be an exciting time to invest in real estate, though you must be more strategic now than was required during the real estate boom.
Click above to view parents of kids in Smithland's Dual Language Immersion Program talk about their experience with the program.
Smithland Elementary's Dual Language Immersion Program offers elementary students (K-2) the opportunity to have half of their instruction during the day in English, and half in Spanish.
The program was started two years ago with Kindergarten, and has now been expanded to include first and second grade. Click here to read the recent (Sept 4, 2012) Daily News Record article on the program.
Looking to buy a home in Smithland to have a chance at enrolling your child in the Dual Langauge Immersion Program? Here's one fantastic house that is currently on the market....
3 BR, 2.5 BA, 2252 SF, fenced backyard, large basement family room (learn more)
Do you ever see a house for sale online that seems to be too good to be true? It has everything you are looking for (4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 2400 square feet) and it is priced $40K below all of the other homes you have been considering.
Shocked at the low asking price of your apparent dream home (per the specs) your hand trembles as you move your mouse over towards the "more photos" link to look inside. Could it be? Could it really be?
(Side note: Could it be what?? That the seller has grossly under-priced his house? And that no other buyers have figured it out yet?)
Your excitement builds even further as you look through the online photos --- the hardwood floors, the new gas range, the beautiful light fixtures! It is at this moment that you are thankful you have my phone number (540-578-0102) set on speed dial......and we quickly set up a time to meet at the house.
Walking quickly up the sidewalk, we look over our shoulders, wondering if other buyers and their Realtors will be showing up soon, joining into a frenzied pursuit of this wonder-house.
But sadly, as we start to walk through the house, we realize we've been fooled again --- by what the specs didn't tell us, and by what the photos didn't show us....
Walking back out of the house, our gait is notably slower and our shoulders slump in despair. Yet another house that was too good to be true. While the house looked good on paper, it was quite a different value proposition once we were actually inside.
Having experienced this several times lately, here is some advice...
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Harrisonburg New Homes
The Glen at Cross Keys
Cottages @ Stone Spring
Bank Owned Properties
Potential Short Sales