We experienced a fairly substantial decrease in sales from July to August this year, and based on consistent trends over the past 10 years we expected further, albeit relatively moderate decreases in September. That’s just what we got. The decrease in sales from August to September was moderate compared to decreases in 2013 and 2014. We can expect sales to continue to decline through the end of the year and early 2015, so long as unemployment and severe winter weather do not take a significant toll.

In the third quarter, we continued to see evidence that the market recovery has plateaued. 2014 sales remain lower than 2013 sales, but higher than 2012 and 2012 sales. Nearly every region in the state experienced a decrease in year-over-year sales in the third quarter, with the exception of Central and Southside Virginia. On the other hand, most of the state experience moderate or no year-over-year change in median sales price. Only Southwest Virginia experienced year-over-year decrease in median price. Since prices were slightly higher in the third quarter of 2014 compared to 2013, the year-over-year decrease in total volume of real estate sold (5.1%) in the third quarter was primarily related to fewer sales.

Click here to download the complete report.



Analysis and commentary by Mel Jones, Research Associate, Gary Cummings, Graduate Research Assistant, and Ted Koebel, Senior Research Associate, of the Virginia Center for Housing Research at Virginia Tech



A significant number of Americans are confused when it comes to what does and does not get reported to national credit bureaus. According to a new survey from TransUnion, for exmple, 48% of respondents assumed their rental payments are regularly reported to credit bureaus yet many landlords don’t.

And this is not the only area where Americans are confused. Click here to read the complete article.

Source: Housing Wire, Brena Swanson



This year’s top-ranked company in the HW Fast50™, American Homes 4 Rent, posted an almost unbelievable 2,962% growth rate year over year. Equally impressive, the top five ranked firms grew an average of 1,944%.

That certainly qualifies as fast growth.

While SFR specialists dominated the top five in the HW Fast50™, they didn’t make a clean sweep: mortgage insurer NMI Holdings ranked second overall, demonstrating the opportunities that market innovation, a shrinking FHA and new government regulations can provide to agile market participants ready to capitalize on new trends.

And while astronomical growth was certainly the territorial ground of most SFR specialists, there are plenty of other high-growth companies making the top 50 in this year’s ranking. Click here to read the complete story.

Source: Housing Wire (October 1, 2014)


2014 Real Show Recap


VARNation Photo Gallery

The Real Show, the biggest real estate convention for Virginia’s Realtors had an amazing and successful event at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. Hundreds of real estate professionals from across the state come to mingle, learn, and connect in on October 8 and 9. Take a look at the Real Show 2014 photo gallery.


What’s this on my ballot?

When Virginians head to the polls on November 4 to vote for U.S. Senate and Congressional candidates, many will be surprised and possibly confused by another item on the ballot.

Ballot Question

Question: Shall Section 6-A of Article X (Taxation and Finance) of the Constitution of Virginia be amended to allow the General Assembly to exempt from taxation the real property of the surviving spouse of any member of the armed forces of the United States who was killed in action, where the surviving spouse occupies the real property as his or her principal place of residence and has not remarried?

The Virginia Constitution currently requires the General Assembly to exempt a military veteran who has been one hundred percent, permanently and totally disabled due to a service-connected injury from paying real property taxes on the principal place of residence.  When the veteran passes away, that exemption extends to the veteran’s spouse as long as the he or she does not remarry and continues to maintain the same property as the principal home.

The proposed Constitutional Amendment on this year’s ballot seeks to extend the same tax provision to the spouse of a member of the armed forces who is killed in action. A “yes” vote changes the Constitution to require the General Assembly to grant the real property tax exemption for the surviving spouse.  A “no” vote keeps the Constitution as is, with no tax exemption.

Check out RealtorsChoose.com for more information.


Life gets busy. Don’t forget to vote.

Have a long work day? Traveling out of town for business or that well-deserved vacation? Have a kid away at college? If you or someone you know will be preoccupied on November 4, don’t miss your chance to vote in this year’s election. We’re less than two weeks from Election Day, so the time to act is now.

There are a couple ways you can absentee vote.

If you want to vote absentee by mail, you must have your application returned to your local registrar no later than 5:00pm on Tuesday, October 28. You can also vote absentee in-person at your local registrar’s office by the close of business on Saturday, November 1. Remember to bring an acceptable form of identification when voting in-person.

For all things voting related, be sure to check out the Virginia Department of Election’s website.




NAR submits comments on the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) recent “Interpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft,” which specifically mentioned REALTORS® use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) for taking property videos as being a commercial use and therefore prohibited under FAA policy. Click here to read NAR’s drone response from NAR SEPT 2014.

Also, take a look at REALTORS® Weigh In On Drones video:
NAR analysts talk about how the National Association of REALTORS® is letting the federal government know its members are ready to use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) safely and responsibly in their business once such use is permitted.


According to Housing Wire one in every three single-family homes is a rental, lots are shrinking, and one in 10 homes has had a mice or cockroach problem. Homes have fewer physical problems than two years ago.

Welcome to the American housing profile.

That’s among the findings of the 2013 American Housing Survey by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau.

This report, the 40th American Housing Survey looks at the U.S. housing stock including detailed information on housing costs, social life, and overall housing quality. Click here to read the complete story.

American Housing Profile

  • There were nearly 133 million total housing units in the U.S. in 2013, 87% of which were occupied.  This represents an increase of 413,000 since 2011.
  • 65% of all housing units were occupied by owners in 2011; 35% were occupied by renters.
  • As of 2013, the median size of all single-family detached housing units was 1,800 square feet with a median lot size of .25 acres (compared to .36 acres in 1973).
  • Approximately two-thirds of all housing units used warm-air furnaces for heating; 12.1% used an electric heat pump; and 10.4% used steam/radiant heating.
  • The most common cooking fuel is electricity (61.2%) followed by natural gas/propane (38.7%).
  • Between 2011 and 2013, there was a slight decline in the number of homes experiencing moderate or severe physical problems (including plumbing, heating, and electrical).  In 2013, there were nearly 2 million homes with severe physical problems and nearly 4 million housing units with moderate physical problems.
  • 10.3% of all households reported seeing signs of cockroaches within the prior 12 months.
  • 9.1% of households reported evidence of mice in the last 12 months.

Source: Housing Wire, Trey Garrison, Senior Financial Reporter (October 16, 2014)


giant varbuzz blog

by Dan Gooder Richard, founder and president, Gooder Group

The secret to survival before the “Zulia” deal closes sometime next year—and after—is for local agents to work their local databases harder and smarter than ever before.

We’ve been hearing from our customers about the proposed Zillow/Trulia merger. Who can blame them for being concerned?

As Bloomberg quoted Steve Murray of REAL Trends, “Zillow has locked up the absolutely dominate position in online real estate in the United States.”

When No. 1 gobbles up No. 2 to control nearly 50 to 70 percent of the online lead market, there is cause for consternation. Traffic stats vary. For August 2014, comScore, which tracks online visitors in the real estate category, reported Zillow got 43 percent of 95.8 million monthly visitors, Trulia pulled in 25 percent (combined 68 percent), Realtor.com attracted 19 percent, Homes.com 9 percent and Redfin about 5 percent of total traffic.

On September 1, the top 15 most popular real estate websites ranked by eBizMBA reported estimated unique monthly visitors at 123 million and Zillow received 29.3 percent, Trulia 18.7 percent (combined 48 percent), Yahoo!Homes 16.3 percent, Realtor.com 14.6 percent and Redfin 4.9 percent. The remaining 10 had 16.2 percent of estimated visitors combined. Which ever way you count visitors, clearly Zillow/Trulia will be the giant that captures most of the property search leads out there.

What’s The Little Guy To Do?

The answer lies in a comment by Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff in an interview with RE/MAX’s Dave Liniger after the Zillow/Trulia announcement in July. Rascoff noted that out of the $12 billion a year agents spend on property advertising and marketing, only 4 percent is spent with Zillow/Trulia in online advertising. As Rascoff pointed out, 96 percent of agent marketing is spent elsewhere, and mostly offline. (REAL Trends estimates the real estate marketing pie at $6 billion annually, according to The Wall Street Journal.)

How can the little guy beat the giant portals to prospects? The one-word answer is: pre-leads.

The secret to survival before the “Zulia” deal closes sometime next year—and after—is for local agents to work their local databases harder and smarter than ever before. Pre-leads are early-stage local people who need a lightning-quick response to their inquiry from a local agent to buy or sell, as contrasted with a virtual website visitor.

Where Do Agents Find Pre-leads?

Pre-leads are simply past clients, sphere and local prospects that agents already know, or want to know, in the case of expireds, FSBOs and targeted farms. Connecting intelligently to all three local databases simultaneously is the key. When agents work their postal database, where people live (address, city, state, zip) and their email database, where people communicate (via email), and their social networks (where people share viral referrals) the little guy can beat the giant portals every time to pre-leads. These are the local people who are most likely to buy and sell with an agent.

The essential technique is to fish upstream because that is where the fish are hungriest. The secret is to connect with local prospects before and after they click on the listing portals to see homes for sale. And, click they will. Don’t get me wrong. Refreshing a database with new buyer prospects is certainly smart, and, after all, some buyer prospects will have a home to sell too. Capturing buyers from home search registrations is what the advertising portals do best—just like the duty desk captured calls from classified advertising back in the day.

Focus on People, Not Property

Capturing early-stage prospects, or pre-leads, will be even more valuable to the most successful rainmakers tomorrow as the advertising portals siphon off more buyer search leads.

After all, generating hyperlocal pre-leads is what the little guy does best. How? The little guy has local fingers on the smartphone and local shoes on the street to help local sellers learn the true value of their homes and help local buyers negotiate for the dream homes they saw online.

Nobody engages local prospects better than the little guy. Nobody guides buyers and sellers every step of the way through closing better than the little guy. No listing portal can compete with that personal relationship. To specialize in people—not property—successful real estate agents must work the only target that is truly valuable: the customer.

Simply put, agents must focus on local pre-leads who rise out of the people they already know. Work your postal database, your email database and your social networks together, and you’ll catch a boatload of local pre-leads before the giant portals get a chance to sell the leads back to you.



Michael Guthrie chats with Deborah A Baisden, the newly elected 2015 President of the Virginia Association of REALTORS® on Real Estate Matters. Click here to listen to the podcast featuring Deborah A Baisden.

Deborah A Baisden was installed at the Virginia Association of REALTORS® annual convention held in Virginia Beach and will begin serving as President in November, following the national convention. A REALTOR® since 1989, Ms. Baisden is recognized as a top producer in the Hampton Roads area and for her leadership as a past chairwoman of the Hampton Roads Association of Realtors (2004). She is a distinguished recipient of the REALTOR® Salesperson of the Year award (1999) and the Code of Ethics Award (2005), and has been an honoree of her local association’s Circle of Excellence for 24 consecutive years.

Baisden has engaged at the National level as a member of the NAR Board Jurisdiction Committee since 2010 and as a member of the Presidential Advisory Group on Membership Structure. Her long involvement with VAR has encompassed Public Policy, Governance Review, Strategic Planning, and Budget development; she served on the Board of Directors from 2008 to 2011, preceding her commitment to the Leadership Team.

The installation and awards ceremony were commenced during VAR’s annual fall business meetings and the Real Show on October 7 in Virginia Beach.