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!
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!
Dawn at Heritage Estates, December 2016
Only a select few building lots remain at Heritage Estates, an active adult (55+) community located on the West side of Harrisonburg on Garbers Church Road.
Heritage Estates boasts 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.
Check out the remaining building lots here -- each grouping offering a slightly different vantage point on the community, the pool, the mountains, etc.
For more information on Heritage Estates, visit HeritageEstates.us or email me to set up a time to meet at the model home.
We saw a surge in home sales back in 2003-2005 (and beyond) with a 26% increase in the pace of sales in a two year period. Let's see how that compares to more recent years....
As shown above, if we finish out 2016 with 1300 home sales (which seems likely) we will have seen a (somewhat) similar surge in home sales with a 20% increase over a two year period.
Hmmmm --- should we be worried? After the real estate boom of the early 2000's, we saw a significant bust.
Let's look further....
As shown above, between 2003 and 2005, home prices were increasing RAPIDLY -- with a 33% increase in a two year period. This, it turned out (surprise, surprise) was NOT sustainable. Family income was not increasing by 33% in that same two year period, so families (and individuals) were spending a greater and greater share of their income on housing. This rapid increase in prices was a large contributing factor to why prices (and the pace of sales) then started to decline in 2007 +/-.
So, are we seeing that same rapid run up in prices?
And --- no! Which is GOOD news! We have only seen a 8% increase in the median sales price over the past two years, which I believe means that the recent increase in the pace of sales is not an indicator that this is a boom that will be followed by a bust.
What's your take on this data? Email me at scott@HarrisonburgHousingToday.com with your thoughts or questions.
Some folks would look at home sales over the past seven years (shown above) and comment that home sales are increasing at a very fast pace -- showing a 52% increase since 2010 -- or around 9% per year. Of note -- this is not even including December 2016 home sales, so the rate of increase would be even a bit higher.
Others would look at home sales over the past 16 years (shown above) and comment that home sales have only had a small net increase over time -- and that the increases we have seen over the past seven years have been catching us back up to a normal amount of buyers buying in any given year.
I tend to fall into the second group.
I believe that a "normal" (or "typical"?) number of buyers were buying in 2001/2002 -- and that we started to see the housing boom (loose lending standards, irrational buying craze) starting in 2003. If that is the case, then we have barely seen a net increase between 2001/2002 and 2016.
If we round this year (2016) up to 1300 home sales (to include December), and we average 2001/2002 to come up with 1112 home sales, then we have seen a 17% increase in sales over the past 14 years -- or an average of a 1.2% increase per year.
Then, let's put it in the context of population growth....
2001 Population Estimates per the Weldon Cooper Center....
2015 Population Estimates per the Weldon Cooper Center....
As shown above, we've seen a 20.7% increase in population in this 14 years timespan, or an average of 1.5% per year.
So, in a 14 year timespan, we've seen a 1.5% average annual increase in population as well as a 1.2% average annual increase in home sales. That seems to be a reasonable growth in home sales -- perhaps even with some further upside potential for further increases.
As such, if we do see 1300 home sales this year, I think we are likely to see at least the same number next year.
Just after the election, mortgage interest rates started rising. They started around 3.5%, and have since climbed to somewhere between 4.25% and 4.3%. It seems unlikely that they will come back own anytime soon -- if ever.
So, what do these new mortgage interest rates mean for home buyers? Well, higher mortgage payments, naturally. The graph above shows the potential change in a monthly mortgage payment for a median priced home ($190K) as well as a home priced at $250K and $350K. The payment scenarios above assume that you are financing 80% of the purchase price -- and yes, I know, plenty of folks are really financing 90% or 95% of the purchase price. If you are financing a greater portion of the purchase price, the monthly payment will be higher, and the increase in the monthly payment will be greater.
As you can see above.....
As always -- for actual payment scenarios, you'll need to consult a mortgage lender. Shoot me an email (scott@HarrisonburgHousingToday.com) and I can make some recommendations.
I thought we might actually see more change in these figures over time than we do see when looking at the data. The graph above shows the percentage of buyers (for this year and the three prior years) who purchase in each of the four main price ranges that I analyze each month.
A few observations....
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