Archive for January, 2014

NAR forecasts higher growth, lower affordability

In “Economy Heats Up,” the 2014 forecast from NAR published in REALTOR® magazine, the association sees solid growth in the national housing economy.

Three notable predictions for the next two years:

  • A half-percent increase in sales in 2014 (over 2013), but a 5.0 percent increase in 2015 — to 5.4 million homes nationwide.
  • A 21 percent increase in new-home sales in 2014, and more than a 30 percent increase in 2015.
  • An average 30-year mortgage rate of 5.1 percent in 2014, and 5.8 percent in 2015

Read more starting on page 12 of the latest issue of REALTOR® magazine.

VAR Out & About: Southern Piedmont

VAR team members Erika Almstead (director of professional standards and legal affairs) and Lynne Wherry (director of member outreach) visited the Southern Piedmont Land & Lake Board of REALTORS® on Tuesday, January 28 to conduct leadership and bylaws training with the board and committee chairs.

Before that, Erika and Lynne joined the United Country Real Estate firm in Clarksville for its sales meeting to share the benefits of their membership with VAR and NAR, and to talk about some risk management issues they should be aware of.


First row (l. to r.): VAR’s Lynne Wherry, Southern Piedmont Association Executive Donna Dennis, VAR’s Erika Almstead, Janet Bryant
Second row: Franklin Dover, Bill Baker, Broker, Kelly Wilcha, Holly King, Bruce Riley, Chad Madison

Brad BolandVirginia Association of REALTORS® 2013 President Bradley J. Boland has been asked by the Virginia Chamber of Commerce to sit on the Business Climate and Economic Development Industry Council for Blueprint Virginia: A Business Plan for the Commonwealth.

Blueprint Virginia is a statewide, long-range economic development strategy that provides elected officials and private sector leaders with a roadmap for economic competitiveness.  Participants include more than 300 organizations and more than 7,000 community and business leaders statewide.

Boland, among other business leaders, will aid in the implementation of strategies identified within Blueprint Virginia.

Click here for more information about Blueprint Virginia.

Click here for Brad Boland’s bio.

Maurice Jones, Virginia’s new secretary of commerce and trade, is scheduled to speak at Get Active, VAR’s Legislative Conference on Wednesday February 12, following REALTOR® Day on the Hill.

In his new position, Jones will oversee six state agencies including the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation (DPOR) and the Department of Housing and Community Development, making his views on housing and the real estate economy especially important for REALTORS®.

His new role will also include the oversight of economic development in Virginia. Among other tasks, Jones will be working to entice businesses and jobs to the state, which could prove a boon to the housing market.

A Rhodes Scholar with a law degree from UVa., Jones had been serving as deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development until recruited by Governor McAuliffe. He served under Governor Mark Warner as deputy chief of staff and commissioner for the Virginia Department of Social Services, and as publisher of the Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk.

Click here for more information about (and to register for) Get Active and REALTOR® Day on the Hill.

Virginia finishes 2013 strong

[Edit: Fixed a type in the first sentence; we accidentally swapped the years! Thanks to Wayne Duke for catching it.]

Virginia home sales were 7.58% higher in December 2013 than in December 2012, making a strong finish for the year.  Compared to the previous three years, Virginia sales were higher in every month of 2013 except for November when sales dipped below 2012 levels. Despite a slow pace in November, quarter four sales were up 2.86% year-over-year. Year-over-year increases in sales are evidence of Virginia’s strong and consistent market recovery.

Lower unemployment and mortgage interest rates likely contributed to increased sales in December. Unfortunately, increases in sales were not experienced throughout the state, raising concerns about limited inventory in some regions. Struggles with inventory may be pronounced because we are entering the depth of the seasonal decline. Based on historic trends, we can expect to experience a slow pace of sales in January and February and then come out of the slow season in March. Second quarter sales will tell us whether we can expect to see the recovery continue or plateau.


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

Cover 2013-Q4

REALTOR® magazine wants your stories

NAR’s REALTOR® magazine is looking for a few good stories. It’s launched a new website — “First Person” — where REALTORS® can share their tales of working in the real estate industry.

The new site is divided into sections, including “Street Cred” (a project demonstrating how REALTORS®’ act as community ambassadors), “Power of R” (showing REALTORS® as advocates for their communities), “In the Trenches” (for “crazy real estate stories”), “How I Sold It” (self explanatory), and “My First Year” (for inspiration in those first 12 months from other real estate pros).

Check them all out on First Person from REALTOR® magazine.


What does the new generation of homeowners want?

Interesting find for your Friday…

Clear Voice Research surveyed a thousand homeowners to learn how they went about finding, choosing, and using a service professional — that is, a contractor.

It found some interesting things from what it calls “A New Generation of Homeowners” and put them in a rather large infographic.

Here are a few facts worth noting:

  • No matter what the age group, from 18 through 65+, “Referral from a friend or family member” was by far the most common way of finding a pro.
  • Television shows (e.g., HGTV) were a popular source of design inspiration for all age groups, but particularly 25-44 year olds, who also loved image-oriented websites like Houzz and Pinterest. Younger homeowners (18-24), though, were more likely to look at home magazines and speak to friends and family.
  • Communication: Everyone likes the phone; few people like texting (although it was slightly more popular with 25-34 year olds). In-person scored in the middle — although that 25-34 set would prefer e-mail.
  • Finding green alternatives for projects was most important to 25-34 year olds (not so much for 18-24 year olds, possibly because of the potential for additional cost).

There’s more from the study at the Home Industry Leadership Board’s website; click here to download it as a PDF, or click below for the (large) image.

The Virginia Association of REALTORS® — following the initiative of its Leadership Academy — has partnered with Virginia Tech to launch a new student internship program for real estate students.

Eighty-two brokers from across the commonwealth have signed up to participate, covering specialties such as residential, commercial, land, and property management.

This program is designed to give students seeking a degree in real estate an opportunity to obtain first-hand, practical knowledge of the industry through direct exposure to day-to-day operations of brokerages across the state, benefiting both the student and the firm.

Benefits to the students include bridging the gap between classroom theory and real world application, discovering specific areas of interest within the field, and developing a professional network.

Brokers are put in the path of recruitment opportunities, cooperation with young, creative minds, enhancement of the REALTOR® community involvement, and promoting professionalism at the start of a student’s career.

The program was designed by VAR and Virginia Tech, working with both real estate professionals and university faculty.

VAR is looking forward to the first year of its internship program with Virginia Tech and its students, and we’re looking forward to growing our partnerships with all Virginia universities to help and support the future of real estate in Virginia.

Mortgage cancellation tax relief bill introduced in House

Earlier this month we told you how NAR was working to extend tax relief for homeowners who had some or all of their mortgage debt forgiven.

Congress adjourned in 2013 without taking up the bill. (While there had been some movement in the Senate, the House didn’t take action on its version.)

Last week came some good news: Congressman Bill Foster (D-Illinois) introduced the Homeowners Debt Relief Extension Act (H.R. 3856), which would extend the mortgage debt tax exemption that’s been in place since 2007 for another two years.

DSNews writes:

Foster’s bill would ensure any qualifying reduction or cancellation of mortgage debt is not considered taxable income by extending this tax relief through January 1, 2016, for debt forgiven after December 31, 2013.

Remember to express the importance of this issue to your senators and your representative, and how it is causing uncertainty in the market. And click here to get more information on the issue from NAR.

Freddie Mac dispells short-sale myths

The short sale is an important tool for helping distressed homeowners avoid foreclosure and eliminate their mortgage debt, however they can still be a bit of a mystery for borrowers. There are misconceptions and there are little known facts.

Freddie Mac senior vice president Tracy Mooney has a detailed blog post dispelling the myths of short sales.

Among other things, she explains why “Even if you are current on your mortgage payments, you may be eligible for a short sale” and “If you meet the other eligibility requirements, you may be able to obtain a Freddie Mac short sale even though you have a second mortgage.”

Take a look and see what may surprise you about the ever-changing business of short sales.