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!
If you are looking to purchase a rental property for your JMU student to live in while they are a student at JMU, there are two basic paths you could go down....
Option 1 -- A property in a traditional student housing neighborhood. These will allow the most students to live in the property and will maximize the rental income per dollar spent on the purchase. However, it will also expose you to a more turbulent segment of the market, as rental rates and sales prices of these properties can vary quite a bit over time as the supply of competing student housing ebbs and flows based on large complexes being built by student housing developers. You can find purchase options in this category here.
Option 2 -- A townhouse in a community that has many owner occupants, some non-student renters and some student renters. Many of these will not allow as many un-related students to live in the property (per zoning regulation or restrictive covenant) and will not provide quite as much rental income per dollar spent on the purchase price. However, they will be in segment of the real estate market that is much more predictable and less volatile from a rental rate and/or sales price perspective. You can find purchase options in this category here and here.
I work with parents of JMU students each year who go down each path outlined above, each for different reasons. Most of the time, though, it boils down to their tolerance for risk or their desire for reward. It can also be related to their intended time horizon for owning the property.
If you are interested in buying a rental property for your son or daughter to live in while they are at student at JMU, let me know.
The R-2 zoning classification was amended on December 15, 1998 to only allow up to two unrelated people in an R-2 zoned property. Prior to that time, up to four unrelated people could have lived in the property. All that said, if an R-2 zoned property was being inhabited by four unrelated people prior to that zoning change (12/15/1998) and has been ever since that time, without a 24 month gap, then it can continue to be used in that way.
Otherwise, if you own an R-2 zoned property, even if it has four bedrooms, even if it is close to the JMU campus, even if everybody else on the street rents their house out to four unrelated students, you cannot per the zoning ordinances.
Below is an excerpt of an article from the Daily News Record that discusses one property owner's request to the City to allow him to use an R-2 zoned property as a rental property for more than two unrelated people. I think his request was reasonable, in some ways, based on the use of neighboring properties, but read on to discover what the City thought and what they decided.
Council Kills Special-Use Permit Request
Click here to read the entire article.
If you have driven on Port Republic Road or Reservoir Street near the hospital anytime in the past six months, you have likely seen the drastic changes to the landscape surrounding Reservoir Street. A significant part of that change has been the development of a new college student housing complex, called The Retreat, which is shown above.
Construction has been moving very quickly at The Retreat, with the new structures springing up seemingly overnight in some cases, while the site work is still in progress.
Reservoir Street will have certainly seen some significant changes when we look back a few years from now -- with the road expanding (in the City, and hopefully soon in the County) and the development of Robinson Park (an affordable housing complex) and The Retreat (student housing).
As I commented to a potential investor this past week -- investing in student rentals can offer a higher return than other non-student properties, but there are also higher risks associated with such an investment. These include....
Again -- investing in student housing can provide a great return on your investment, but it comes with risks that you should full understand before you make an investment.
Learn more about investing at Hunters Ridge here.
click here for a larger version of this aerial image
If you have driven along Reservoir Street lately, you would have noticed the massive area on the hospital side or Reservoir Street where trees have been cleared for a new housing development. This site will soon be home to 700 college students in a new development called "The Retreat at Harrisonburg", being developed by Landmark Properties out of Athens, GA.
The developer has acquired 36.81 acres for $5.71 million in August after the land was rezoned in May to allow for this community to be developed. This same developer is (per their website) also currently developing The Retreat at Blacksburg, a student housing community for 829 students.
Read more about this purchase and development in this Daily News Record article....
Student Housing Developer Buys County Land
August 30, 2016
Here is the intended site plan....
Per documents submitted to the County, we know the following about this potential student housing community....
Based on enrollment projections approved by the State Council of High Education for Virginia and published by JMU, on campus enrollment is set to continue to increase in coming years....
view a larger image
view a larger image
The Rockingham County Planning Commission will consider a re-zoning of a 6.1 acre parcel on Port Republic Road this evening. The property, located across the street from Bojangles (but on the same side of Port Republic Road) is currently zoned R-3C and the applicant (KKB, LLC) is requesting that the land be rezoned to be PMF (Planned Multifamily).
Per the Planning Commission's packet of information about this rezoning request, this land would be used for a student housing community to include a total of 140 apartments, and 425 bedrooms....
A new student housing community may be built in Rockingham County depending on (among other things) the outcome of the public hearing of the rezoning of the land that will take place tomorrow, April 5th.
Below is an illustration of where the community would be located -- just off Reservoir Street, just past the City/County line when headed towards the hospital.
This location is in the vicinity of several other student housing communities, so it is not a surprising location to be proposed for this community.
Per documents submitted to the County, we know the following about this potential student housing community....
You can view lots of details about this proposal by downloading the full packet of information from the rezoning request which includes the master plan and illustrations of the front elevations of some of the potential dwellings to be built. Download it here.
Pheasant Run Townhomes is a college rental community comprised of 143 townhouses. Of those 143 townhouses, 103 are corporately owned and 40 are privately owned. The privately owned townhouses have recently been selling in the $140K's....
The latest news is that the 103 townhouses that are corporately owned sold for $10,425,000 on December 18, 2015 to TRP Pheasant Run Manager LLC, a company affiliated with Thalhimer Realty Partners, which is a subsidiary of Cushman & Wakefield/Thalhimer.
As per today's article in the Daily News Record....
Matt Raggi, a vice president with Thalhimer Realty Partners, said the company will operate the property. It owns and operates almost 4,000 apartment units in Virginia and the Carolinas, including student markets such as Richmond, Norfolk and Chapel Hill, N.C.Absent any major changes in strategy by the new corporate owner (which seems unlikely) I anticipate that the 40 privately owned townhouses will continue to sell for similar prices as they have in the recent past, and that the community will remain a good option for investors looking to purchase a student housing rental property.
Find out more about Pheasant Run at HarrisonburgInvestmentProperties.com.
Based on enrollment projections approved by the State Council of High Education for Virginia and published by JMU, on campus enrollment is set to continue to increase in coming years, surpassing 20K students for the first time in the 2017-18 academic year.
Of the variety of different figures that exist within the enrollment projections, the "Total On-Campus Headcount" is typically seen as the most pertinent relative to our local housing market. This figure is the best reflection of the number of students who will need housing, either on JMU campus, or off campus. These figures, and their changes over time, are the best numbers to be using when analyzing the need for off campus student housing in Harrisonburg.
Read more about student housing in Harrisonburg, past, present and future here.
click here for a larger version of the map or here for a PDF
Enjoy this updated map showing where JMU college students live, in a few categories of housing....
If you are interested in purchasing an investment property in Harrisonburg -- for college students, or not -- feel free to drop me an email (scott@HarrisonburgHousingToday.com) and we can discuss the best opportunities for you.
It would seem that JMU will be buying this 60 acre parcel on South Main Street that was originally intended to be privately developed as student housing.
Per the Daily News Record (June 7, 2014)....
James Madison spokesman Bill Wyatt said that while the university has no immediate plans for the property, the board is buying it to add flexibility to shuffle the school's auxiliary, nonacademic services away from the center of campus, and create space for future facilities.Read the full DNR article here.
Read about the 466 apartments that were originally going to be built on this land here.
Photo Source: Moseley Architects
I'm not sure if we call this on campus or off campus housing, but JMU is building a new residence hall on West Grace Street that will feature approximately 507 beds, various student life spaces, classrooms, seminar spaces, administrative offices, and other support spaces.
Read more via The Breeze here.
An auction was scheduled for University Fields back in September -- and now we know who purchased the property.
Vesper Holdings, a real estate investment firm in New York City, purchased University Fields for $19 million on October 28th.
Five million dollars of capital expenditures are planned including renovating the interiors of the apartments, clubhouse and amenities as well as enhancements to the exteriors of each building and technology upgrades.
Pertinent details about University Fields....
Read the entire press release here.
Read today's Daily News Record article here.
After several (very!) slow years of condo sales at Hunters Ridge, there has been a rush of sales this year --- 13 as of 11/13/2013. Prices have come down a bit further this year, to a median of $56,250.
Sales have also increased (slightly) at Camden Townes (Hunters Ridge Townhomes) -- and prices have started to tick upwards a bit to a median of $78,500.
Here is all of the data....
Search for properties for sale in... Hunters Ridge or Camden Townes.
JMU just published updated enrollment projections as recently approved by the State Council of High Education for Virginia.
There are plenty of different figures that can be used to understand JMU enrollment, but the most pertinent relative to our local housing market is the "Total On-Campus Headcount" as shown in the graph above. This figure is the best reflection of the number of students who will need housing, either on JMU campus, or off campus. These figures, and their changes over time, are the best numbers to be using when analyzing the need for off campus student housing in Harrisonburg.
First, as you can see, JMU is still growing and intends to keep growing for years to come. This is good in many ways for JMU, our local economy, our community, etc. The question that is of interest to me, however, is how this all relates to Harrisonburg's off campus student housing market.
A lots can happen in 5 short years (2008-2013)....
Over the past five years, there has been an increase of 1,445 students needing housing....and during the same time frame, housing was built for 3,792 additional students. This has led to a significant oversupply of student housing, with real world implications such as....
And yet, at the same time....
Why did it all happen?
So, we apparently have a tremendous oversupply of student housing in Harrisonburg -- many wonder why it happened. Read my theories here.
Given this new data (at the top of this post) about increases in JMU enrollment (Total On-Campus Headcount) what can we say or know about the future?
This is a lot of information -- if you have questions, feel free to email me at scott@HarrisonburgHousingToday.com.
In another interesting twist to our oversupplied student housing market, a 228-Unit Student Housing Property just off Port Republic Road may be auctioned off this week.
Here is an overview of the opportunity via Auction.com....
Auction.com presents the opportunity to acquire a non-performing loan secured by University Fields Apartments, a 288-unit / 1152-bed multifamily complex located in Harrisonburg, Virginia that caters to the student demand from James Madison University (enrollment of 19,000). Built in two phases, Phase I in 1989 and Phase II in 1997, and later renovated in 2004, the property consists of 22 three-story buildings situated on 23.55 acres. Amenities include an outdoor swimming pool, a fitness center, tennis court, a cyber cafe with WIFI, and a clubhouse. The units feature fully-equipped kitchens, a full size washer and dryer, walk-in closets, mini-blinds, high-speed internet access, vaulted ceilings, and both balconies and patios with storage. Centrally located in the historic and scenic Shenandoah Valley in west-central Virginia, Harrisonburg is served by Interstate 81 and is located approximately 110 miles north of Roanoke, 125 miles west of Richmond and 125 miles southwest of Washington, D.C.A few other interesting tidbits:
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.
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