Archive for February, 2014

What professions have the most homeowners?

Neat little infographic from the folks at Keeping Current Matters about what professions have the highest percentage of home ownership.

Not surprisingly, real estate agents were right there at the top — just behind farmers.

Leesburg’s daily newspaper, Leesburg Today, featured VAR’s analysis of Virginia’s housing markets in its Loudoun Business section. Not only did the paper cite data from our Pieces of Home housing market report, it also quoted VAR President Bradley J. Boland.

“When you look at the big picture . . . it’s clear that we’ve made a solid recovery, but we still have a ways to go,” Bradley Boland, president of the Virginia Association of Realtors, said.

Sales were up in every corner of the commonwealth, rising 8.9 percent to 45,113 in Northern Virginia; 9.7 percent to 22,716 in Hampton Roads; 10.2 percent to 15,666 in Central Virginia (including the Richmond area); 14.4 percent to 7,637 in Roanoke/Lynchburg/Hampton Roads; 5.2 percent to 5,421 in the Central Valley; 1 percent to 1,598 in Southside Virginia; and 15.6 percent to 1,296 in Southwest Virginia.

NAR cautions EPA about lead survey

The Environmental Protection Agency is considering whether and how to regulate renovation and remodeling activities in public and commercial buildings. To gather data, the agency is planning to send out a nationwide questionnaire to commercial-building owners, contractors, and tenants to ask about their renovation and remodeling practices.

On Feb. 4, the broad-based Commercial Properties Coalition — of which NAR is a member — sent a comment letter to the EPA regarding the proposed survey. It cautioned that that proposed survey appears to assume that lead paint hazards exist in commercial buildings.

“EPA is asking the wrong questions at this juncture. . . As a threshold matter, EPA must determine whether a lead hazard exists in [public and commercial buildings]. Routine maintenance and repair, painting, and other renovations are conducted on a regular basis in the public and commercial building stock. The critical question is not whether these activities are performed, but whether they create lead hazards.”

According to NAR, “EPA will now consider these comments and may refine its survey process and instruments as a result.”

Click here to read more from NAR.

NAR opposes House tax reform plan

U.S. House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) released a draft tax reform plan today, and the National Association of Realtors® was quick to oppose it.

The plan called for limits on both the mortgage interest and capital gains deductions, as well as the repeal of deductions for state and local property taxes.

In a statement, NAR President Steve Brown wrote:

“NAR supports reforms that promote economic growth, but we strongly oppose severely altering the rules that govern ownership and investment in real estate. Real estate powers almost one-fifth of the U.S. economy, employs more than 17 million Americans, and contributes a quarter of all federal and state tax revenue and as much as 70 percent of local taxes.

“We are extremely disappointed with several of the provisions contained in U.S. House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp’s tax reform draft released today, namely proposed limits on the mortgage interest deduction and capital gains, and the repeal of deductions for state and local property taxes. These proposed changes to the taxation of real estate will impact every single American, either directly or indirectly.

“NAR will carefully analyze the details of the Chairman’s plan so we can best educate Congress and the public about how this plan would impact the owners, consumers, and producers of both residential and commercial real estate.”

 

Richmond association victory featured by NAR

Congrats to the Richmond Association of REALTORS® which just saw its (successful) campaign to help fund area public schools featured on NAR’s Realtor® Action Center as a “Realtor® Party Success Story.

Quoth:

In Richmond, VA, REALTORS® have long understood the strong correlation between good schools and home values. Last year, they had to fight for it. The 4,000-member Richmond Association of REALTORS® put a $95,000 Issues Mobilization Grant from NAR to work on a campaign to use a restaurant meals tax on food and beverages to help fund public schools. Working with other community groups, their successful campaign prevented drastic cuts to the school system budget.

 

Fannie Mae is offering to give some buyers of its REO properties a 3.5 percent cash incentive, but those buyers have to act quickly.

The company’s First Look program is designed to reduce its stock of properties by offering the 3.5 percent cash, which can be used toward closing costs — and is particularly helpful for first-time buyers.

Who’s eligible for the cash?

  • Only owner-occupant purchasers (i.e., not investors) are eligible.
  • The offer is good for the first 20 days a property is listed on Fannie Mae’s HomePath.com website; each eligible property has a little countdown calendar.
  • They must bid on the property by March 31, 2014 and close by May 31, 2014.

Potential buyers still need to shop for a mortgage, and lenders can take the 3.5 percent incentive into consideration. The homes on the HomePath site run the gamut in price and condition. We found, for example, a $65,900 three-bedroom home in Richmond, a $178,500 home in Newport News, and a $326,400 home in Suffolk.

Fannie’s program comes on the heels of Freddie Mac’s, which offers $500 and $1,000 incentives for buyer and seller agents of its REO homes.

Click here to read the details of the program.

Click here to find eligible property in Virginia.

Click here to read the L.A. Times article on it.

 

How did prices change in 2013 compared to the year before? Senior Associate C. Theodore Koeble, Ph.D., and Associate Mel Jones, of the Center for Housing Research at Virginia Tech looked at the numbers for Pieces of Home:

Median sale price in 2013 was higher than in 2012 in every region of Virginia except Southside.

Southside Virginia continues to experience economic decline, reducing the demand for housing in the region. In every other region, the housing market continues to recover and prices continue to rise as a part of the market recovery.

Virginia prices have maintained a trajectory similar to that of U.S. prices, although Virginia prices are generally higher than those of the U.S. as a whole (see page 9). Moderate and consistent price increases, like the ones experienced throughout most of Virginia, are a sign of healthy market recovery.

Virginia has not experienced the rapid price increases that have led to concerns about another housing bubble in the other parts of the U.S.

Get your copy of Pieces of Home — the 2013 Virginia Housing Market Report — at VARealtor.com/homesales.

A couple of webinars from CRS you might be interested in

Our friends at the Council of Residential Specialists have two upcoming webinars you might be interested in.

The cost for each is $20 for CRS designees, $25 for CRS candidates, and $30 for non-members.

Click the titles for more information and to register.

Making Money on Facebook and Twitter

with Leigh Brown, CRS
February 27 at 2:00 PM Eastern

You’ve probably been told that you should be on Facebook and Twitter to make more money. Are you wondering where that money is? There are no guarantees in life, but Leigh will show you how she uses social media to increase profits — and how you can make social media work for your business.

Connecting with Young Buyers and Sellers

with Phillip Becker, CRS
March 11, 2:00 PM Eastern

This webinar will cover:
•    How younger buyers and sellers work
•    Understand how these clients are different
•    Learn to make a lasting connection with them

 

Coming soon: How are legislators voting on our issues?

This spring VAR will introduce its legislator report card — a groundbreaking project to help Realtors® and others understand how Virginia’s state senators and delegates’ are voting on important Realtor issues.

The report card will be all about transparency.

Each session, it will track the high-profile, Realtor-impacting bills being considered by the General Assembly, and will show how members of the Assembly voted on those bills.

Not only will it help you on Election Day, it will encourage those legislators to keep Realtor® issues in mind as they vote — things such as property rights, Realtors® licensing and regulation, property management, and more.

So watch your mailbox or bookmark RealtorsChoose.com/bills, so you can be better informed on what and who impacts your business.

Nominations open for VAR Honor Society

If you or someone you know should be a member of the 2013 Virginia Association of Realtors’ Honor Society, now is the time to fill out a nomination. You have till April 1, 2104 at 11:59 PM to file it.

This isn’t a “tell us why this person is an exemplary Realtor” form. Nominees get points for a variety of activities — attending meetings, earning designations and awards, serving as a state or local association volunteer, and more. So you’ll need to know, for example, whether your nominee is a member of IREM, or served as an NAR committee chair (among many other things).

Honor Society membership is more than a feather in your cap. It shows a dedication to the real estate profession in Virginia, and it marks you as a leader in the Realtor community. You can complete and submit the application by clicking here (var.wufoo.com/forms/virginia-assoc-of-realtorsa-honor-society-2013)