Coming together for good causes

REALTOR® associations across Virginia continue to share their service to the community, essential throughout the year and especially at this holiday time.

In Halifax County, the Southern Piedmont Land & Lake Association of REALTORS® leaders and members teamed together to collect coats for local children. Working in cooperation with the county department of social services, the REALTORs® gathered nearly 100 coats for delivery to young neighbors in need. Students at elementary and high schools will benefit from the warmth of the association’s effort.

The generosity continued with members of the Northern Neck Association of REALTORS® who collected canned goods and warm apparel for delivery to the Northern Neck Food Bank in Warsaw. The food bank serves over 6,000 people per month during the winter season, so every contribution is vital to the meeting the needs of the community. The association’s collection has been an annual effort and engages members of the board and other volunteers.

Throughout the year, REALTORS® identify community need and work to fill it. Thank you for continuing to share stories of giving; thank you for continuing to give. Share more with Jenny Wortham, VAR Director of Community Outreach at

Merry and bright wishes through the holidays and year end.



A head start: Virginia First-time Homebuyer Savings Plan

A First-time Homebuyer Savings Plan allows any Virginian to set aside up to $50,000 toward the costs of closing on a new home. The earnings on those funds — interest and capital gains — are free from Virginia state taxes.

These accounts are simple and easy to set up, because not only can you open a new one, you can also designate almost any existing account as an FHSP. To create an FHSP, you simply include a form when you file your state taxes. (It will indicate that you should not be taxed on any earnings — e.g., interest or capital gains — because of the account’s FHSP status.) After you use the money toward the closing costs on a first home (yours or someone else’s — see below), you send in a different form to the Department of Taxation showing that the funds were put toward an “eligible cost.”

Download the First-time Homebuyer Savings Plan fact sheet:

Read article: Virginia launches investment plan to spur first-time homebuyers


Fannie rolls out 3% down payment option for homebuyers

Fannie Mae is rolling out an option for qualified first-time homebuyers that will allow for a down payment as low as 3%.

Building upon Fannie Mae’s successful lower-down payment program offered through state Housing Finance Agencies, the 97% loan-to-value ratio option will expand access to credit for qualified first-time homebuyers who may not have the resources for a larger down payment.

A recent examination of what’s holding back homebuyers argues that the down payment is the biggest challenge for first timers.

These loans will meet Fannie Mae’s usual eligibility requirements, including underwriting, income documentation and risk management standards. These loans will require private mortgage insurance or other risk sharing, as is required on purchase loans acquired by the company with greater than 80% LTV.

Read the complete story:

Trey Garrison, December 8, 2014, Housing Wire


Metro areas with a lower cost of living and sunnier weather are poised to see an increased number of baby boomers moving in and buying a home as some delay retirement and remain participants in the labor market, according to new research by the National Association of Realtors®.

NAR analyzed current population trends, housing affordability and local economic conditions in metropolitan statistical areas1 across the U.S. to determine housing markets most likely to see a boost in sales from leading-edge baby boomers2. Boise, Idaho and Raleigh, North Carolina were identified as top standouts for baby boomers for their solid job growth, share of self-employed workers and affordable home prices.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says Florida and Arizona cities attract many baby boomers. In addition, the share of men and women working after their 65th birthday has increased3, setting the stage for elevated baby boomer buying activity in metro areas with a dynamic local economy, adequate housing supply and a lower cost of living.

Click here to read the complete story:


While you are in Richmond attending the VAR Advocacy Conference you’ll want to plan to attend our informative roundtable meetings. Over a box lunch, we will be discussing four timely matters that affect your business. Topics include property listings, disclosure agreements, property management, and managing teams.

This year we’ve even reduced the price, $15.00 for this informative lunchtime session.

Register now for the Broker-Owner/Manger Roundtable & Lunch. The pre-registration deadline is January 30, 2015. For more details about and to register, please visit


The majority of Americans say they are living in less-than-ideal housing and neighborhoods. The Demand Institute recently polled more than 10,000 households — both renters and home owners — across income levels to find their top unfulfilled housing needs and desires.

“The biggest overarching thing is that when it comes to their homes, there are still a lot of things that Americans want to improve,” says Jeremy Burbank, vice president of the The Demand Institute, about its report, “The Housing Satisfaction Gap: What People Want But Don’t Have.” “There’s a desire for things like more space, privacy, and safe neighborhoods that are often attributed to single-family homes and ownership.”

Click here to find out what polled households say what they don’t have that they wish they did:


Let your up-and-coming leaders know: The online application process for the Leadership Academy is open until March 31. The program gives emerging leaders with state and local experience an opportunity to gain institutional knowledge and an understanding of the big picture to help them become leaders at the national level. Participants are chosen through an application process and asked to provide references from a state officer, a state AE,  and a local AE or officer.

Click here for additional information:



Owners, appraisers getting on the same page

The discrepancy between appraisers’ and home owners’ opinions of home values is narrowing. In November, appraisers valued homes 1.56 percent higher than home owners, according to Quicken Loans’ Home Price Perception Index.

“Mortgage financing often hinges on whether the appraised value coincides with the home values agreed upon by the home buyer and seller in the case of a home purchase, and the home owner’s estimated value in the case of a refinance,” says Quicken Loans Chief Economist Bob Walters. “It is reassuring to see the gap between appraiser opinions and home owner opinions narrow, and if we had to choose a side of the fence, it makes for a much smoother mortgage process if appraisers are valuing homes above home owners’ estimates like we’re seeing, as compared to the opposite.”

Still, in three-quarters of the metro areas Quicken Loans analyzed, appraiser opinions were higher than home-owner estimates. The difference varies widely among those metro areas, too. For example, in San Jose, Calif., appraisers valued homes 6 percent higher than home owners on average, while in San Francisco, appraisers valued homes 4.35 percent higher. In Dallas, it was 4.22 percent.

On the other end of the spectrum, in Kansas City, Mo., appraisers’ opinions were found to be 2.53 percent lower than home owners’.

On a national scale, real estate professionals are reporting fewer appraisal issues as the cause of derailing deals. Appraisals were blamed for only 2 percent of failures to close a sale, according to the November REALTORS® Confidence Index survey of more than 3,700 REALTORS®. Instead, the top closing challenges cited by REALTORS® were difficulty obtaining credit and a lack of affordable homes. About 15 percent of REALTORS® report having clients who could not obtain financing, while about 13 percent say the buyer and seller couldn’t agree on the price. Eight percent report that the buyer lost out in a multiple-offer situation.

Daily Real Estate News | Thursday, December 11, 2014


VAR President, Deborah A Baisden, joined the other one hundred Greater Piedmont Area Association of REALTORS® members to install incoming President, Charles “Chip” Miller, on Friday, December 5, 2014 at the Fauquier Springs Country Club.

The Greater Piedmont Area Association of REALTORS® serves real estate professionals and affiliate members from the counties of Culpeper, Fauquier, Madison, Orange, and Rappahannock..

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The Virginia Association of REALTORS® hosted the 2015 board of directors and the committee chairs/vice chairs on December 10, 2014. VAR’s 2015 president Deborah A Baisden led the orientation training and shared her vision with the group. The orientation helps define the role and sets the expectations of the newly elected board members and chairs/vice chairs.

The well-organized program helps the individual performance, smooth the transition of the new members/chairs/vice chairs, and introduces them to their fiduciary responsibilities and to the culture.

Meet the 2015 VAR leadership team:

  • President, Deborah A Baisden, GRI
  • President-elect, Bill White
  • Vice-president, Claire Forcier-Rowe, ABR, ABRM, CRB, GRI
  • Treasurer, Pat Sury, CRB, CRS, GRI, SRES
  • Immediate Past President, Bradley J. Boland
  • Chief Executive Officer, Terrie Suit

To learn more about the leadership team, click here:






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Congratulations to Joseph Croce! The CEO of the Southside Virginia Association of REALTORS® was recently honored by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) with the REALTORS® Association Certified Executive (RCE) designation, which recognizes exceptional efforts made by REALTOR® association executives. Croce is one of more than 425 REALTOR® local association executives who have achieved this mark of excellence. VAR’s president Deborah A Baisden presented Joe with his RCE plaque.

“This is truly an honor, and I am very proud to receive this designation. It is a high point in my career as an association executive,” said Croce, who received an award plaque from representatives of the Virginia Association of REALTORS® on December 10.

To qualify for RCE designation, candidates must demonstrate knowledge of areas critical to local association management, including association law, governance and issues related to member services. To retain the designation, RCEs must be recertified every four years.

The Southside Virginia Association of REALTORS® encompasses Colonial Heights, Hopewell, Petersburg, Chester, Emporia and Ettrick, and Dinwiddie, Greensville, Prince George, Surry and Sussex counties and much of Chesterfield County.