Cover August2014

August sales trends are hard to predict because we have not seen a consistent increases or decreases in sales in August over the past ten years. Sales have increased in August in 5 of the past 10 years and decreased in 5 of the past 10 years. The first graph below shows the monthly pace of sales from 2005 through August 2014. The data colored in red shows the decline of the housing market in the years following the “burst” of the housing bubble. The data colored grey shows the depths of the housing market performance beginning with the 2008 recession. Finally, the blue data highlights the market recovery in the most recent years, 2013 and 2014. The first graph shows that the 2014 market performance is still relatively strong, despite slow growth and lower sales than 2013.

The second graph below takes a closer look at the market performance in the late summer and early fall. In this graph, the blue lines highlight years when number of sales decreased from July to August and the red lines highlight when sales increased from July to August. As you can see, significant increases in sales in August are unusual, but so are significant decreases. In most years, number of sales in August have remained fairly stable compared to July. 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 can expect further, albeit relatively moderate decreases in September and November. When sales hold steady or increase in August, we see more dramatic declines in September.

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



FAAR Show draws record crowd



With a new look, a nationally known speaker and Krispy Kreme donuts, it’s no wonder that the September 17th Fredericksburg Area Association of REALTORS® (FAAR) tradeshow attracted over 400 real estate professionals. VAR staff members Janet Hakki, Staff Accountant/HR Director and Jenny Wortham were two of the lucky attendees.

Free for members

According to Lynn DeSena, marketing director at FAAR, the trade show and educational expo included 92 vendors of all types, and seven classes including some that offered CE credits. “We rebranded the show this year and made the expo free for our FAAR members,” explained Lynn. “If members wanted to take classes, the fee was only $35 for a total of six CE credits.”

The keynote speaker for the day, Mark Given, gave his audience tips on how to thrive in the next three years. The day also featured FAAR’s 2015 Board of Directors election.

The theme of the FAAR show this year was “Tailgating,” and the group enjoyed a live DJ and dancing, as well as a booth for new head shots and Krispy Kreme donuts outside of the classrooms. Lots of giveaways and prizes added to the excitement.


VAR CEO visits with Southern Piedmont

Sept meeting with Terrie Suit

VAR CEO Terrie Suit recently traveled to speak with the team at the Southern Piedmont Land & Lake Board of REALTOR®. The purpose of the visit was to give the group an overview of what VAR offers to local associations and members.

As the business advocate for real estate professionals in Virginia, VAR wants every REALTOR® to succeed. Terrie explained that VAR engages in political and regulatory advocacy to ensure member’s ability to conduct business and to protect private property rights. VAR also works to keep our members informed of the legal requirements of doing business in the real estate industry, and facilitates the Professional Standard and Code of Ethics at the state level.  She encouraged the members to come and learn more at the Real Show: VAR’s Convention & Expo.

For both the team at Southern Piedmont and Terrie, it was a worthwhile visit.


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The phrase “Homeownership: Celebrating the American Dream!” was the theme of this year’s New River Valley Association of REALTOR® Trade Show. Lynne Wherry, VAR’s Director of Member Outreach and Anthony Reedy, VAR’s Director of Grassroots/PFR had the honor of attending the event on September 17.

According to William Haithcock, CEO of NRVAR, the show had 36 participating vendors and affiliates with a combined total of 200 REALTOR® and Affiliate members enjoying the day.

Breaking tradition

“This year, we broke with tradition and chose a brand new venue, The Event Centre, which provided more space for vendors and more opportunities for education and roundtables,” said William.

The day started with a breakfast and an opportunity to browse affiliate booths. Then there were two sessions of roundtable discussions that focused on topics such as trends in technology, appraisals, insurance, and mortgages.

“In addition to our usual Platinum and Gold Sponsors, RAM and Chrysler partnered with us to provide all attendees with a free BBQ lunch,” explained William. “Freedom First brought its ice cream truck, appropriately named Scoop, for free desserts.”

Patrick Moore, an affiliate and participant this year, summed up the day by saying, “This was the BEST trade show in all of my years of participation. I was so happy to see REALTORS® who actually sell come to this event. Good job!”


Don’t be a robot on social media

By Melanie Padgett Powers

You must be authentic on social media, or your savvy audience will find you out.

Social media advocates often talk of “engagement” and “community,” but once you have set up a Facebook and Twitter page, how can you interact with your followers and make real, lasting connections?

Get involved in your real-world community and translate that to social media. Be genuine. Be yourself. Do searches on Facebook and Twitter of all the vendors and businesses you work with and “like” or follow their pages. Beyond that, follow the pages for your local library, chamber of commerce, that new restaurant that just opened up, your neighborhood schools, and nearby county and state parks.

Then, occasionally click your Facebook “home” button, scroll through your newsfeed of all the pages you liked, and comment on and share those posts. For example, say “Congratulations! Way to go, Bearcats!” when the local middle school basketball team wins a tournament, or tell that new restaurant “We had such a great dinner the other night, and I loved the salmon.”

You can do the same on Twitter: Scroll through your feed and reply to tweets with accolades, comments and questions, as you would in real life, instead of tweeting marketing pitches directly to them. Hint: When tweeting to someone, type a period in front of the @ handle or username so others can see your tweet, too. Tweets that start with the @ sign only show up in that person’s feed (but remember these are not private tweets and can still be seen on both of your pages).

If the social media managers don’t already know you, they will often look you up to see who is commenting or tweeting and sometimes follow you back. Now, you’re in front of their mind when they think of a Realtor and you’ve started a real-world connection.

For more social media tips and tools, look for the fall issue of Commonwealth magazine coming to your mailbox soon.

Cover Commonwealth Magazine Fall 2014


VAR’s Anthony Reedy and Martin Johnson had a chance to network with Southside Virginia Association of REALTORS® member Eileen Knode during their Affiliates Fair, which was held on September 24 at their headquarters in Colonial Heights. SVAR is privileged to have the strong support of many real estate related businesses. Affiliate members not only support events and meetings, but provide expertise through networking.


Caption: Left-VAR’s Anthony Reedy, director of grassroots/PFR, and Martin Johnson, chief of policy and advocacy; right-Eileen Knode of Long & Foster Real Estate. (Photo courtesy of  Victoria Hecht, SVAR.)


The Bank of Mom and Dad is playing a growing role as lender of last resort for a housing recovery struggling to provide more traction for the U.S. economy.

Last year, 27 percent of those purchasing a home for the first time received a cash gift from relatives or friends to come up with a down payment, according to data from the National Association of Realtors. That’s up from 24 percent in 2012 and matches the highest share since the group began keeping records in 2009.

Deborah Baisden, a Realtor with Prudential Towne Realty in Virginia Beach, Virginia, is witness to the pickup in cash gifts, particularly among parents assisting their children.

“We’re finding more and more parents are gifting money,” Baisden said. “Because of student debt and because of kids having a tough time finding jobs, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for them to be able to buy homes — we’re turning into a country of renters.”

Click here to read the complete story.


By Michelle Jamrisko | Bloomberg News,


Best Cities for First-time Homebuyers

VARBUZZ - Best Cities graphic
To determine which housing markets most favor first-time homebuyers, WalletHub, a personal finance social network, assessed the affordability of homes as well as the conditions of the real estate market and community environment in
the 300 largest U.S. cities.

They did so using 17 key metrics, ranging from median house prices and real estate taxes to median home price appreciation and price-to-rent ratios.

Key Stats
• The median household annual income (adjusted for cost of living) is five times higher in Frisco, Texas than in Paterson, N.J.
• Housing affordability is 14 times higher in Flint, Mich. than in Santa Barbara, Calif.
• The real-estate tax rate is 12 times higher in Waukegan, Ill. than in Honolulu.
• The price-to-rent ratio is six times higher in Santa Barbara, Calif. than in Detroit.
• The property crime rate per capita is eight times higher in Miami Beach, Fla. than in Mission Viejo, Calif.
• The average energy cost per household is three times higher in Honolulu than in Denton, Texas.

For the full report and to see where your city ranks click here.


The Bank of Mom and Dad is playing a growing role as lender of last resort for a housing recovery struggling to provide more traction for the nation’s economy. Virginia is one of few states to offer a First-Time Homebuyer Savings Plans, enabling parents (or any individual) to designate a bank account as a tax exempt savings tool for qualified distribution toward the purchase of a single-family home.

Last year, 27 percent of people purchasing a home for the first time used a cash gift from relatives or friends for a down payment, according to data from the National Association of Realtors. That’s up from 24 percent in 2012 and matches the highest share since the group began keeping records in 2009.

Those numbers will probably keep growing as younger Americans remain constrained by student debt, difficulty entering the job market and stricter mortgage-lending rules that require more cash up front. At the same time, rising stock and property values give their baby boomer parents the ability to help their kids lock in near record-low borrowing costs. With Virginia’s First-Time Homebuyer Savings Plans, parents have a long term opportunity to exempt taxes from money set aside to help a child with the purchase of a first home, reducing the hurdle of high cash requirements for a down payment and closing costs.

Click here to read the complete story.

Source: Bloomberg News (Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014)


With more than two months left in hurricane season, the Virginia State Corporation Commission’s Bureau of Insurance reminds Virginians to remain vigilant when it comes to protecting their property from loss.

Hurricane season runs through November 30, and the Bureau encourages homeowners, renters, and business owners to review their insurance policies now to make sure they have enough coverage in the event of a hurricane or other disaster. Know what each policy does and does not cover and contact your insurance agent or company or the Bureau of Insurance if you have any questions.

No matter where you live in Virginia, hurricanes and their accompanying winds and rains can threaten lives and property. Once a hurricane develops in the Atlantic, it will be difficult to find an insurance company willing to write related coverage until the storm threat passes.

“Whether you are a homeowner, renter, or business owner, the time to prepare for hurricanes and other disasters is now,” said Virginia Insurance Commissioner Jacqueline K. Cunningham. “Make sure you have the insurance coverage you need before a hurricane starts to form,” she said.

Click here to read the complete story

Source: (September 17, 2014)