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!
Nope -- it's not too late to list your home in August. While we will have missed the strong Spring and early Summer rush of buyers, there will still be plenty of buyers in August, September and October. As shown above, last year there were more buyers in August than in July!
One other silver lining for late Summer (early Fall) sellers -- there will be fewer sellers to compete with as the next month or two passes and inventory levels continue to decline.
If you're thinking about putting your house on the market in August, let's chat ASAP about any improvements you will be making to the house as well as reviewing market data to develop a pricing strategy.
There were 16% fewer contracts in May 2015 as compared to in May 2014.
There were 13% fewer contracts in June 2015 as compared to June 2014.
Thus far, July 2015 is also lagging behind July 2014 -- by 17% -- though we still have a few more days for deals to stay together.
These slower months of contract activity will eventually, inevitably, lead to slower months of closed sales as well.
I think these guys (above) are checking out HarrisonburgPropertyTransfers.com.
OK, well, maybe not. But if you are interested in diving into the details of which properties are selling, and for how much, there are a few main ways to do so....
The disclaimers on the above information....
click here to view this map as a larger image
A few questions for ya....
EAST: Most of the residential development over the past 15 to 20 years has been on the East side of Harrisonburg, in the general vicinity of the new hospital. This makes it an exciting place to live -- for some people. There are many newer developments where homes have recently been built, and there are newer commercial destinations (Stone Port, Martin's grocery store, Target, etc) all on the East side of town. But this also makes it a bit more hectic for getting around. Of note, there is also plenty of outbound traffic East of town, towards Massanutten, Elkton, Charlottesville, etc.
WEST: There hasn't been as much residential development West of Harrisonburg over the past 15 to 20 years (other than Belmont and Monte Vista Estates) and this is just fine with most people who live on the Western side of Harrisonburg. Things are a bit calmer, without as much hustle and bustle, and in some cases with more established neighborhoods. The towns of Dayton and Bridgewater end up falling into this side of town as well for many people.
I am not doing justice to all of the differences between the East side of town and the West side of town, but I believe that most people in this area are oriented towards one side of town or the other, for very specific reasons. Furthermore, most people who have spent any considerable amount of time living on one side of Harrisonburg likely wouldn't think about moving over to the other side of Harrisonburg.
According to Wikipedia, a stick-built structure is "one constructed entirely or largely on-site," as opposed to a modular home that is "divided into multiple modules or sections which are manufactured in a remote facility and then delivered to their intended site of use."
My experience in chatting with buyers over the past 12 years has been that there are mixed opinions on modular homes. For example, some would suggest that . . .
Overall, my experience indicates that modular homes sell at slightly lower prices as compared to stick built homes -- and some of that is solely as a result of some buyers being hesitant to purchase a modular home.
Google indicates that several companies offer newly built modular homes in Harrisonburg.
Take a few minutes to walk through this spectacular home, a custom, site-specific design by Architect John Daly that is special to him because the land was parceled off of his childhood farm and neighbors several family members.
The property is surrounded by mature trees, long views. Enjoy a fiber cement, stone and brick exterior, an open floor plan with solid Brazilian Cherry floors and a first floor master suite. The two story living room with a fireplace features views out to the deck and a wooded grove. The kitchen features a high end Dacor gas cooktop, double wall ovens, exotic granite countertops and a brick backsplash. Don't miss the second level multifunctional space that leads to a rooftop terrace, the private fire pit sitting area and extensive landscaping.
Click here to walk through this home, on your computer, phone or tablet.
Or, visit this home's property website.
Or, view high resolution photos of this home by clicking the collage below....
General market recovery (in both pace and price of sales) may finally be resulting in a return of new construction single family home sales.
As shown above, we may see a big jump in the number of new construction home sales in 2015 -- perhaps beating out the past five years!
We are continuing to see a slow pace of foreclosures in 2015. There were 94 foreclosure sales in the first six months of 2014 -- and this year there have only been 79 foreclosure sales.
Check out upcoming foreclosure sales at HarrisonburgForeclosures.com.
Based on the analysis above, it would seem that sellers are not (in almost all cases) accepting home sale contingencies. Here's the logic....
I must say, I was quite surprised to find this to be the case --- I thought perhaps 10% - 20% of contracts might have kickout clauses (and thus home sale contingencies) because plenty of buyers have to sell before buying.
It would seem that most buyers are likely waiting to make offers until they have their own properties under contract (thus eliminating the need for the kickout clause) AND/OR most sellers are not accepting offers with home sale contingencies unless the buyers' houses are already under contract (thus eliminating the need for the kickout clause).
If you are a buyer, I would certainly suggest the strategy outlined above (and the only one that is apparently working with sellers right now) --- get a contract on your house and THEN make an offer on the property you would like to purchase!
There are 7% fewer homes for sale under $200K as compared to two years ago.
In contrast, there are 2% more $200K - $300K homes for sale....
...and 20% more $300K - $400K homes for sale....
...and 2% fewer $400K+ homes for sale.
This change (fewer lower priced homes for sale) is another indicator that home prices are starting to increase again.
Sales of building lots of less than an acre in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County have started to pick up steam over the past few years. Year-to-date sales (47) point to a potential of 94 lots sales this year, which would be a 12% increase in sales.
Prices also seem like they might finally be increasing. The median sales price of building lots of less than an acre declined (slightly) in 2013 and 2014 but seem poised to increase 6% in 2015.
The analysis above looks only at single family home sales -- which excludes duplexes, townhouses and condos. This metric is a helpful indicator for the overall residential market because there are not usually a lot of investors participating in this segment of the market, thus it is typically a good representation of owner occupant demand for houses.
As is shown above, the last few years have seen (small) declines in median sales prices with a 2% decline in 2013 and a 1% decline in 2014.
It is, thus, exciting news (for home sellers, though perhaps not as much for home buyers) that these median sales prices have increased by nearly 8% thus far in 2015 as compared to 2014 median sales prices.
Read more about current market trends in my monthly market report found online at HarrisonburgHousingMarket.com.
Learn more about this month's Featured Property: 2826 Brookshire Drive
I just published my monthly report on the Harrisonburg and Rockingham County real estate market. Jump to the full online market report, or download the PDF, or read on for highlights....
First, the fun news. As noted above, June 2015 home sales (all 126 of them) broke a long-standing record for the number of homes selling in a single month in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County. The last time we saw this many closings in a single month was waaaay back in August 2007!
Moving beyond a single month of lots of home sales, it is clear (as shown above) that the first half of the year is off to a smashing start as well. There were 515 home sales in the first half of 2015 -- more than in the first six months of any of the preceding five years.
Perhaps these increasing home sales are what is also helping median prices to start to rise. As shown above, after several years of slow increases (+1%, +2%, +2%) in the median sales price, we are now poised to see a 5% - 6% increase in median sales prices in 2015. Stay tuned to see how the rest of the year shakes out -- but hopefully we'll at least clear 3% or 4%.
If you're thinking about putting your house on the market, this might be a swell time to do it -- as shown above, inventory levels are down 6% year-over-year AND inventory levels dropped over the past month. Buyers have fewer options right now, and there are still plenty of buyers looking to buy....
As shown above, there were more buyers (126) in June 2015 than we saw in May 2015 (114) and we should still see quite a few more months of 100+ buyers making decisions to buy homes in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County.
OK, that's it for now. I'll hit some high points here on HarrisonburgHousingToday.com in coming days. In the meantime, you can read the full July 2015 Harrisonburg Housing Market Report online or by downloading the PDF.And as is always my encouragement -- if you will be buying or selling a home in the near future, become a student of the housing market! Learn what has been happening recently, what is happening now, and what is likely to happen next. Being informed will allow you to make better real estate decisions.
If you are ready to buy or sell a property in Harrisonburg or Rockingham County, contact me at 540-578-0102 or scott@HarrisonburgHousingToday.com to get the process started.
Mortgage interest rates (for a 30 year fixed rate mortgage) have varied from as low as 3.3% to as high as 4.6% over the past three years. Current rates are hovering right around 4% -- which is higher than they have been recently, but is still absurdly low within a longer-term context, providing buyers with a great opportunity to lock in their housing costs for the long-term.
You should be!
Join me (and lots and lots and lots of other people) at the Red Wing Roots Music Festival this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
View the schedule, get directions, read the latest news, or buy yourself some tickets.
But by all means, be there!
Want to know even more, read this preview of the festival from the Huffington Post.
If you are entering the market to buy a home, the number of homes you will have to choose from will vary widely based on what you are looking for in a new home. Some buyers have a very narrow scope and find themselves on a prolonged hunt for what seems to be an elusive or mythical home. Some buyers find plenty of options, evaluate quite a few, make a decision and move forward with an offer.
As you consider the over 600 homes currently on the market for sale, keep in mind that some of them have been on the market for 3 months, 6 months, 9 months or even longer. The freshest of fresh listings are those that have come on in the past 30 days -- which (this time of year) is only around 100 - 125 homes out of the 600+ current listings for sale.
Depending on your time frame for buying, and the narrowness of your scope, sometimes it makes sense to quickly evaluate the current options -- and then to wait and see what new and exciting listings will be coming on the market in coming days and weeks.
Steps to get started include talking to a lender to get a sense of your target price range, and then chatting with me (in person, by email, by phone) so that I can also be keeping an eye out for suitable properties for you.
If a buyer is buying over $400K, or even over $300K, the layout of the home becomes very important to them. That is not to say that it is unimportant for a $200K buyer -- but someone buying a more expensive home is oftentimes planning to stay in it for a longer time frame.
Back in the red hot market of 2004-2008, this did not matter as much -- inventory was low, buyers were happy to just get a house at all -- but that has changed. Now days, buyers are assuming that they may want to (or have to, if prices aren't increasing over time) stay in their home for quite a while. As a result, they want a layout that works really well for their family.
If not the #1 feedback, the #2 feedback I receive from showings of homes priced over $400K is that the layout just didn't work for the buyers. They wanted another bedroom here, instead of there. They wanted a more open floor plan. They wanted a more formal dining room. They wanted a more spacious basement.
Challengingly, the layout is something that is hard (nearly impossible) for a seller to change in order to appeal to a wider segment of buyers. Thus, if your home has a layout that continues to not work for buyer after buyer, you must either wait (and potentially wait and wait and wait) for the buyer who loves that layout -- or adjust the list price to make the house (even with its layout) more appealing to more buyers.
That said, as reflected in the conversation at the top of this post -- a great deal on a house is not always enough to sway a buyer beyond the layout challenges that a house offers.
An important part of getting ready to buy a home is to talk to a mortgage lender (ask if you need recommendations) to find out how much money they will lend you to purchase a home. Lenders have a variety of calculations that they perform to determine how much money they will lend you -- most related to the highest percentage of your income that they are comfortable with having you spend on housing.
However -- this does not always mean that you should borrow as much as you possibly can. Spending the most on a house that your lender would be comfortable with may not make you comfortable -- as it would then reduce the amount of money in your monthly budget that you could use for vacations, retirement savings, college savings, and so much more.
Check with your lender to find out how much of a home you CAN afford to buy -- but then decide how much you WANT to buy.
Despite having fewer showings in May/June and fewer contracts in June, it looks like June 2015 was a great month for (closed) home sales.
With a few more sales likely to trickle in over the next few days, June 2015 home sales are already showing a 13% improvement over last June.
Stay tuned for more analysis in the days to come.....and Happy Independence Day!
Get ready for some significant shifts in the locations considered by new businesses coming to Harrisonburg -- thanks for the upcoming completion of the SouthEast Connector Road.
Read more about its potential impact on our local commercial real estate market over at Tim Reamers' blog....
1,124 Words About Asphalt by Tim ReamerOr, find out more about Stoneport, the new mixed used development on the SouthEast Connector Road....
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