A new report from Discover Home Loans finds some important info for Realtors.

Take these three bits of information from the company’s poll.

1. “Despite feeling financially prepared when entering the process, many homebuyers don’t know what purchasing a home will actually cost them.”

2. “Nearly two-thirds feel overwhelmed by the amount of information available on home financing.”

And then, 3, the kicker:

For help determining whether buying a particular home would be a good investment, prospective buyers turn to real estate agents most often, 66 percent, then to family and friends, 56 percent. However, when evaluating mortgage terms and comparing offers, they turn to mortgage bankers most often, 59 percent, then to real estate agents, 49 percent.

So prospective buyers are ready to buy, but they’re confused about financing options — and you, as a Realtor, are (for better or worse) where they’re likely to turn.

You might be tempted to offer advice on mortgages and financing options, but that’s a dangerous thing to do.

You’re a real estate expert, not a financing expert, and if the advice you give turns out to be wrong (or someone just thinks it’s wrong), you could end up on the wrong end of a lawsuit.

That doesn’t mean you have to send them out into the cold. Your value is being the ‘source of the source.’ Point them to financial experts — give them a list of three people in the area who you trust to provide good info. (Just like with contractors, inspectors, and the like, it’s never a good idea to only give one.)

Result: You cement your place as the go-to person for real estate matters and recommendations, while reducing your risk. Win-win.

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Disney World can call itself the Happiest Place on Earth™, but when it comes to actual data, Richmond and Charlottesville take the crown (at least in the U.S.).

Richmond is America’s most contented city according to a new report from researchers at the Vancouver School of Economics and Harvard University, which is based on a large survey in which residents were asked about their satisfaction with life.

That’s among cities with a population of at least a million.When it comes to metropolitan regions of any size, Charlottesville tops the list.

But Virginia’s representation didn’t stop there: The number-two happiest large metro area is Norfolk-Virginia Beach-Newport News region, and number three is Washington, D.C.

And because we know you’re interested, the three least happy large cities are New York, Pittsburgh, and Louisville.

Happiness chart courtesy of the University of British Columbia.

Happiness chart courtesy of the University of British Columbia.

 

 

 
 

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Existing-home sales were down slightly in June according to the latest data from NAR, but are continuing their long-term upward climb. From the press release:

Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, climbed 2.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.04 million in June from an upwardly-revised 4.91 million in May. Sales are at the highest pace since October 2013 (5.13 million), but remain 2.3 percent below the 5.16 million-unit level a year ago.

So that’s up month-to-month, but down year-to-year.

Better news comes from the inventory front, where NAR data show it was up 6.5 percent in June from the year before. And median price (for all housing types) was also up — 4.3 percent in June from the year before. “This marks the 28th consecutive month of year-over-year price gains,” says NAR.

Source: NAR, plus some insight from Calculated Risk.

 

 

 

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Market Recovery Recap

The graph below shows the progression of the Virginia housing market from 2007 to 2014. 2007 (in blue) is the last year before recession. 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 (in grey) show the depressed housing market related to the Great Recession. 2012 (shown in orange) was the first year that the market showed signs of recovery, but 2013 (shown in green) is when the Virginia market strengthened enough to show significant recovery. This year (2014 shown in red) the Virginia market performance has also been solidly above recessionary levels, but the sales volume has not been at the level of 2013.

The performance of the 2014 residential real estate market is undeniably tied to the overall performance of the US economy: jobs still aren’t easy to come by, incomes have increased sluggishly, and market participants are still cautious. Nonetheless, the economy is growing, low mortgage interest rates remain a good incentive for buyers to enter the market, and stable prices will keep inventory flowing. The metrics included in the Virginia Home Sales Report indicate that supply and demand remain in sync. Stable prices indicate that our growth is healthy and not related to speculation or overbuying.

Although the market has entered a phase of slow growth, we believe that Virginia has achieved a solid recovery and we certainly prefer steady growth that matches the growth of the overall economy to a bubble based on speculation.

blogimage_q220144Analysis and commentary by Ted Koebel, Senior Research Associate and Mel Jones, Research Associate of the Virginia Center for Housing Research at Virginia Tech
 

For the full report click here:

Cover 2014Q2

 

 

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After initially saying that it would not allow dual agents to work on pre-foreclosure sales, the Federal Housing Administration has agreed to change that policy after working with NAR.

The original no-dual-agents policy was put in place by the Department of Housing and Urban Development because of concerns of fraud during the pre-foreclosure sale process.

But NAR pointed out that “no statistics or reports were provided to NAR detailing short sale fraud by real estate agents,” so it sent a letter to Carol Galante, the assistant secretary for housing, asking for the policy to be changed.

It said that restricting some real estate agents from representing buyers or sellers in a short sale  would only hamper the sales process, making it harder for thousands of homeowners to sell their homes because they would need to find an agent who can work with them.

Further, the FHA rule even prohibited transactions in which the two sides were represented by the same brokerage, not just the same agent.

FHA heard NAR’s concerns and has changed the rule.

In a victory for NAR, FHA has released a Mortgagee Letter (2014-15) that preserves dual agency arrangements in FHA short sales, although the properties must be listed for at least 15 calendar days before any offers are evaluated.

 

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Governor McAuliffe announced additional appointments to his administration last week. Among those appointments was Realtor Shewling Moy of Virginia Beach to the Council on Aging.

Shewling has been volunteering in Hampton Roads for over twenty years in grass-root organizations, civic, business, and academic communities.

Shewling was born in Canton, China and lived in Hong Kong until she was 14 when she immigrated with her family to the United States. She graduated from the Norfolk General Hospital School of Professional Nursing and worked seven years as a registered nurse, while she continued her education and obtained a BS degree in Business Administration from Old Dominion University. She started an accounting business and ran it for twenty years.

Today, she is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Professional, REALTORS® where she is proudly able to incorporate all of her skill sets including nursing, business, volunteering, and knowledge of the region.

Click here to see the complete list of appointments.

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Capture-000018Spotsylvania County is one of the best places to buy a single-family home to rent out, according to a new report from RealtyTrac.

With an annual gross rental yield of almost 12 percent, Spotsylvania was the No. 5 market in the country for buying single-family rental properties, according to RealtyTrac’s Q2 2014 Residential Property Rental Report.

That means investors who bought those properties have an annual return well above the national average of about 9.97 percent.

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Our First-time Homebuyer Savings Plans are getting a lot of coverage, especially in the real estate community.

Our posting to Twitter alone got lots of retweets from Virginia Realtors, not to mention the Virginia Young Professionals Network and real estate companies as far away as Dallas, Texas, and Scottsdale, Ariz.

NAR even picked up on it — and not only did it pass along our Tweet about FHSBs…

its Realtor magazine covered the news, as did HousingWire.

The new plans were already covered by the Washington Post, Richmond Times-Dispatch, and local papers across Virginia.

Don’t know about Virginia’s new First-time Homebuyer Savings Plans? Head over to VARealtor.com/FHSP to get all the details.

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Can Realtors use camera-equipped drones to shoot photos and videos of property? The short answer appears to be no, not legally, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The long answer is a bit more interesting.

In general, the FAA has the authority to regulate things that fly — anything “from the ground up,” as it explains on its mythbusting page. That includes drones.

That doesn’t mean you always need FAA approval to put something into the air. You can buy a cheap model rocket at Toys R Us and launch it from your backyard without approval, or zip a model airplane around the park.

That’s because the FAA has model-aircraft guidelines that let you fly things below 400 feet (as long as you aren’t within three miles of an airport, or near populated areas).

But drones are a different matter. The FAA has some different rules for these “Unmanned Aircraft Systems” or UASs. Here’s the important part of those rules:

You may not fly a UAS for commercial purposes by claiming that you’re operating according to the Model Aircraft guidelines [...] Commercial operations are only authorized on a case-by-case basis. A commercial flight requires a certified aircraft, a licensed pilot and operating approval.

The question is, does “commercial purposes” include Realtors? Yes, according to the FAA. By definition, it says, Realtors using drones are using them for commercial purposes. Ditto for any drone-flying services a Realtor might hire.

As the New York Post reported, the agency is looking into brokerages that use drones. The Realtors in these cases claimed that drone-photo flights aren’t commercial use because they don’t charge their clients for the photos; it’s part of their overall service. (Dome drone-flying services  tried to claim they don’t charge for the drone flights, but for “video editing”.) But the FAA isn’t buying it.

Realtors using drones to photograph properties are using them for commercial purposes, and thus must have a license, it says.

But then things get complicated.

In June 2013, the FAA fined Raphael Pirker $10,000 for operating a drone around the UVA campus illegally — “in a careless or reckless manner.”(He was shooting a video for the medical school.)

Pirker appealed, and a federal judge ruled in his favor, saying that the FAA couldn’t enforce its drone rules because it didn’t go through the proper procedure to create those rules.

Inman News reacted to that ruling by saying it “[paved] the way for broader adoption of drones by businesses including real estate agents, brokers and real estate marketing firms.”

Not so fast, says the FAA. See, it appealed the ruling immediately, which (it says), means the judge’s decision has been stayed and “that means all rules are still enforced and the FAA is still enforcing them,” according to the agency.

So, at this point, according to the FAA, if it learns about unauthorized use of drones, it will either call or visit the pilot and ask him or her to stop. If that doesn’t work, it will send a warning letter. If that doesn’t work, it could pursue a cease-and-desist order.

The FAA has also recently issued this notice of its intent to issue clarifying regulations.

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Capture-000007The Washington Post gave us some nice coverage about First-time Homebuyer Savings Plans in Dion Haynes’s “Virginia establishes savings plan for first-time home buyers“:

The program, somewhat similar in concept to college-saving plans, also allows parents and grandparents to designate savings or investments for a child’s future purchase of a home. Money or investments in the plan can grow to no more than $150,000, sponsors of the program say.

Part of the purpose of the legislation is to establish “the mental discipline to save and invest,” said Chip Dicks, legislative counsel for the Virginia Association of Realtors, which requested the legislation. “What this [does is to] put money aside and let it grow without taxing the growth on the money.”

Click here to read the full story, and be sure to click here to read more about First-time Homebuyers Savings Plans.

 

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