Archive for December, 2012

The November 2012 Virginia Home Sales Report has been released and the pace of sales increased sharply (+18%) accompanied by a 12% increase in the median sales price in the Commonwealth.

blogRead more inside the complete November 2012 Virginia Home Sales Report.



VAR Board of Directors members Gail Penman and Donn Irby (center) accepted the award on VAR’s behalf. The award was presented by HRRA’s Jay Mitchell (left) and David Wilkey (right).

VAR was honored last week by the Hampton Roads REALTORS® Association as its 2012 Association Partner of the Year. Over the last year, VAR worked in partnership with HRRA on a variety of services and issues affecting our mutual members, including

  • addressing membership policy issues concerning REALTOR® firms and listings,
  • REALTORS® Property Resource (RPR),
  • The Real Show – VAR’s Annual Convention and Expo,
  • a dues amnesty incentive to promote REALTOR® membership,
  • and through education grants and providing speakers for HRRA events.

VAR is delighted to have such a great partnership with HRRA and appreciates HRRA’s kindness in honoring us in this way. Thanks to HRRA’s 2012 President, David Wilkey, and all the members of the Hampton Roads Association for the recognition. In 2013, VAR looks forward to more opportunities to partner with and support the 28 local associations throughout the Commonwealth.

2012 prediction accuracy, 2013 guesses

There can’t be a Nate Silver for housing; Silver uses math for his predictions (which is why they’ve always been so accurate), and predicting the housing market requires some degree of guesswork. (Educated guesswork, hopefully.)

Bill McBride at Calculated Risk was kind enough to put together the 2012 predictions of various people and organizations so we can see who got how close.

  New Home Sales (000s) Total Starts (000s)
Fannie Mae 336 704
John Burns 359 717
Merrill Lynch 330 713
Moody’s 530
NAHB 360 709
Tom Lawler 365 740
Wells Fargo 350 690
2012 Actual* 370 770

*well, a solid estimate based on what thing look like this week

So Tom Lawler was the most accurate, and Moody’s the least.

And what do these same folks say about 2013? Again, thanks to Mr. McBride for doing the work:

  New Home Sales (000s) Single Family Starts (000s) Total Starts (000s) House Prices
Barclays 424 988 +4.8%
Fannie Mae 452 659 936 +1.6%
Merrill Lynch 466 976 +2.6%
Moody’s 500 820 1,190 +1.4%
NAHB 447 641 910 +1.6%
Wells Fargo 460 680 990 +2.6%

Once again, Moody’s seems overly enthusiastic (on starts this time). Of course, we learned from the housing bubble that Moody’s tends to overrate things.) And Barclays is expecting much higher price than everyone else.

Once again we’ll have to wait to see who got it right. Me, I’m waiting for Lawler’s figures.

Under 30? Time to apply for Realtor mag’s contest

They start young these days Are you or someone you know under 30 and planning to stay that way till at least the beginning of June? If so, you’re eligible to be one of Realtor magazine’s annual 30 Under 30 — “Rising stars in real estate,” as the magazine puts it.

To make the cut, you have to be a Realtor (duh), and 29 or younger on May 31, 2013. (If you can’t do the math, I suspect you’re automatically ineligible.) Oh, and you can’t have been a previous winner.

You have until January 15, 2013 to apply — forms are available by clicking here. You’ll need to provide information like your 2011 sales volume and transaction sides, and you can submit up to three letters of recommendation. (Heck, just go to the site if you’re interested!)

So what is the mag looking for? Glad you asked.

Several factors are considered  — business success is just one. Community and professional leadership also are important factors. We strive for balance: We want to ensure we have a diverse group of finalists in terms of business niches, gender, ethnic background, and geographic location. Finally, we look for compelling stories that bring to life innovative business strategies that have worked for you or obstacles you’ve overcome.

Out of more than 500 expected applications, the editors will narrow the choices to 75-100, which a panel of judges will review and cull so there are 50 finalists. They then choose the 30 tentative winners and vet them with state and local associations. (Hint: Be nice to us.)

So what are you whippersnappers waiting for? Get off my lawn and get applying!

So the price of lumber futures has hit a six-year high. So what? It’s a great indicator of Wall Street’s confidence in the home-building market.

Anyone can say that housing is recovering (including us), but that lumber futures number tells us that investors honestly believe that homebuilding is going to be increasing in the near future. They’re betting money on it.

Prices have surged 37 percent this year, more than any of the 24 commodities tracked by the Standard & Poor’s GSCI Spot Index. Lumber has more than doubled since January 2009, when the recession and a collapse in the U.S. housing market left a glut of wood. (Emphasis mine.)

More from Bloomberg.

Oh, and homebuilders are more confident about their businesses.

Shadow inventory is supposed to be a Big Problem going forward. Heck, it was supposed to have been a Big Problem already… it just never turned out that way. (I, too, had bought into the concern — and was happy to see it was unfounded.)

Here’s one reason that may have been the case. “Shadow inventory” is loosely defined as ‘homes in or near foreclosure that haven’t made it into the MLS yet.’ For whatever reason, lenders haven’t gotten around to trying to sell them, but they’re out there, waiting to throw the market into disarray.

According to Doctor Housing Bubble (an excellent site covering, well, the housing bubble), LPS says there are about 5.2 million homes in the nation’s shadow inventory:

  • 1,957,000 late 30 days or more, but less than 90 days
  • 1,543,000 90 or more days late, but not in foreclosure
  • 1,800,000 in foreclosure process

(That’s real data — or at least close to it — meaning it’s not a guess, estimate, projection, etc.)

One problem right off is that first number. Close to two million homes (38 percent) are considered “shadow inventory” for being a mere 30 days late. That’s a bit extreme, doncha think? Sorry, LPS, but one missed payment does not a shadow house make.

So the real number is closer to 3.3 million — foreclosures and 90+ days late.

Now, JP Morgan uses different math or numbers or something, and it says that U.S. shadow inventory is about 4.3 million. Whatever. More importantly, unlike LPS, JP Morgan also looks at what becomes of those homes. And it projects that 530,000 of them will get a mortgage mod and thus be crossed off the list. (That’s 12.3 percent, btw.)

So from reading a single blog post about shadow inventory, I found a reason to cross more than half off the list (38 percent for being premature, 12.3 percent for being modified).

That doesn’t mean that every time you read a shadow inventory number that you should cut it in half. What it does mean is that there are good reasons to suspect that the real figures are somewhat or much less than what’s being bandied about.

Shadow inventory was supposed to be a big deal in 2012. It wasn’t. Now it’s supposed to be a big deal in 2013. Maybe it will. But my feeling is that, while there are certainly more distressed homes coming into the pipeline, it’s not nearly as big an issue as it’s being made to be.

Local growth and shrinkage in Virginia

Working for the Virginia Employment Commission, the Demographics & Workforce Group has developed a picture of what the state’s population will look like in 2020, 2030, and 2040. Result: Some areas will grow, others will shrink.

Projected to see the biggest population declines between now and 2040 are Lee County (-8%), Arlington County (-5%), Virginia Beach (-4%), and Alleghany County (-4%).

image What areas will grow the most? That would be Stafford County (+87%), Spotsylvania County (+80%), James City County (+59%), and Frederick County (+50%).

And the makeup of these areas will change as well, as various racial and ethnic groups make their homes in Virginia.

Sadly, the reports that are available are only in Excel format, so there isn’t a spot for easy reading of the data (yet), but numbers junkies should enjoy what’s there; click here to see those population projections.

Henrico loses eminent domain case

Henrico County has lost an eminent domain case brought by a developer who had a chunk of her land acquired/seized by the county. A jury unanimously awarded the the (former) property owner an additional $236,750 for the land, which had been taken as part of a road-extension project.

Quickly put:

Emily Sterling owned a half-acre plot — acquired by her father in 1997 — at what is now a rapidly growing section of western Henrico.

The county offered Sterling $126,000 for the 1/5th of an acre it needed for the project.

Sterling declined, but offered the full half acre to Henrico for $253,000.

The county said no and took its 1/5th acre via eminent domain.

Sterling sued, contending that not only was the price too low, but by taking only part of the parcel, what’s left couldn’t be developed.

The jury agreed, awarding her $236,750. So Henrico ended up paying $362,750, not counting legal fees.

And another case is pending.

Read all about it in the Times-Dispatch.

Sharp-eyed police ID'd the greenery This comes from Australia, but that doesn’t diminish the humor (sorry, humour) value: In selling his home, a man posted some pictures of the property, including the garden. Someone noticed that hey, aren’t those cannabis plants?

Why yes, said the police when they arrived. Yes they are.

The 28-year-old homeowner is scheduled to appear in Port Adelaide Magistrates Court.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch asked Richmond Association of Realtors CEO to weigh in on Virginia’s housing recovery. Check out what she had to say by clicking here.