Archive for March, 2014

Daan!Congratulations to Realtor Daan De Raedt of RE/MAX Allegiance in Arlington, who was named as one of REALTOR magazine’s 2014 “30 Under 30″ — “hard-working young professionals [who]… put their customers first, and are champions for their communities.”

And congrats, too, to two Realtor neighbors from just north of the state line: CJ Davis and Ron Mangas, Jr., both of Washington, D.C., who also made the 30 Under 30 list.

You’ll be able to read all about Daan in the upcoming issue of REALTOR magazine.

VAR CEO named one of Virginia’s most influential people

terrie_vb As the first women to head Virginia’s largest trade association, VAR CEO Terrie Suit was named in Virginia Business magazine’s “On the move” section — part of its annual feature on the most influential people in the state.

The magazine listed Suit as one of the “People who are making their mark” along with others such as Tom Folliard (president and CEO of CarMax), Gracia Martore (president and CEO of Gannett Co.), John F. Reinhart (CEO and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority), and George Sherman (president of Advance Auto Parts).

Congratulations, Terrie!

Click here to see the article.

Four things to know for Friday

Did you know that inventory is up 6.2% from last year?

That’s based on NAR’s numbers, and includes single family homes and condos. It’s the first national March-to-March increase since 2008.


The median asking price of these homes was estimated to be $263,463.2 Since this time last year, the inventory of homes for sale has increased by 6.2% and the median price has increased by 10.3%.[READ ALL ABOUT IT]

Did you know that Freddie Mac doesn’t expect mortgage rates to drop any time soon?

That’s what it said on its blog in a post with a title that says it all: “Mortgage Rates: From Dirt Cheap, to Cheap.”

One thing seems certain: we aren’t likely to see average 30-year fixed mortgage rates return to the historic lows experienced in 2012.[READ ALL ABOUT IT]

Did you know that NAR’s Pending Home Sales Index fell again?

It’s the eighth straight month that the index is down. It measures contract signings, not closures, but it’s still a reasonable look ahead. In the South, pending sales in February were down 9.3 percent from a year ago, but the freakish weather was at least partially to blame. [READ ALL ABOUT IT]

Did you remember to vote for one of the three Virginia finalists in REALTOR magazine’s “30-Under-30″ contest?

You have till 1:00 PM today, March 28, to vote, and you can vote once per day. So show your support! [READ ALL ABOUT IT]

Happy Friday — and remember: You heard it on VARbuzz!


WaPo column offers perspective on off-market listings

There’s an excellent column in the Washington Post by regular contributor Jill Chodorov on off-market or “pocket” listings. (Technically it’s a column, but it reads more like a well-researched article.) Whatever you think of pocket/off-market/pre-listing listings, it’s worth a read to understand how and why they’re out there.

“[I]t depends on what the seller wants in the end,” [Realtor Dina] Paxenos added. “I think some sellers are into it because they don’t want to bother painting or clearing out clutter to get ready for open houses. If they can get a certain price, they are willing to sell without listing on the MLS.”

Check out the column by clicking here.

Share your thoughts on these listings and sites by posting your comments.

Three Virginia Realtors have made the final 50 of REALTOR magazine’s annual 30-Under-30 contest: Alex Belcher of Fredericksburg, Richard Bridges of Woodbridge, and Daan De Raedt of Arlington.

Here’s how REALTOR mag explains the contest:

Each May/June, REALTOR® Magazine features 30 rising young stars in the real estate industry. In determining who makes the 30 Under 30 list, REALTOR® Magazine staff looks for candidates who are successful in the real estate business and have demonstrated skill, success, creativity, and leadership in their careers.

Alex, Richard, Daan

Alex, Richard, Daan

These guys need your help! You can vote for each candidate once per day per IP address (meaning once per day per computer), so vote for them today, tomorrow, and every day until voting closes at 1:00 PM Friday, March 28.

Click here to vote for Alex
ANDClick here to vote for Richard
Click here to vote for Daan,

Then come back tomorrow and repeat!

President Obama signs flood insurance bill

obamasignsAs expected, President Obama signed the bipartisan Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act on March 21, which extended government flood-insurance subsidies to people in flood zones. Because of the 2012 Biggert-Waters law, many of those people would have seen their flood insurance premiums skyrocket as they were adjusted to accurately reflect the flood risks.

The new law will limit flood insurance premium increases to 18 percent per year, grandfather in homes that complied with previous flood maps (so they won’t be hit with huge increases when new maps come out), and — perhaps most importantly for Realtors — no longer requires an immediate hike in premiums when a home changes ownership.

“As the leading advocate for home and property owners, NAR applauds this bill for the relief and protection it will bring to businesses and families nationwide,” said NAR President Steve Brown. “We believe this legislation will bring relief to property owners by ensuring a slow and steady phase in of risk-based increases.”

Click here to read the excellent New Orleans Times-Picayune article on the bill.

And click here to read NAR’s explanation of its position.

Housing market slow to thaw

The pace of Virginia homes sales increased in February, but only by 3.15% despite decreasing unemployment and mortgage interest rates. Prices remained fairly stable and days on the market continued to increase, indicating low demand rather than restricted supply. So what is holding back demand? Even though the market is not picking up as fast as it did last year (sales are down 7.55% from February 2013), many housing economists predict that 2014 will be the strongest sales year since the Great Recession. Since interest rates and employment are working in the market’s favor, winter weather seems like the main barrier for buyers and is certainly a barrier for builders. Although access to credit may be slowing the housing recovery to some degree, we expect to see better performance in the Virginia housing market once we are free of snow and ice. Long-term decreases in unemployment, stable interest rates, stable prices, and new inventory coming onto the market should all bode well for spring sales.

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 Feb2014

Three things to know for Friday

Did you know that adjustable rate mortgages are “making a comeback”?

That’s what the Wall Street Journal says — but this time it’s different.

Now, though, financial executives say they are focusing on borrowers with strong credit who are using the loans to take out large “jumbo” mortgages—and not so-called subprime borrowers, who used the loans to stretch their buying power as far as it could go. [READ ALL ABOUT IT]

Did you know that Alexandria was named the fifth best downtown in America?

That’s what the folks at Livability said: “Cobblestone streets and century-old buildings evoke memories of the past, but anyone walking through Old Town will experience the area’s modern, hip vibe.” [READ ALL ABOUT IT]

Did you know that the wild winter weather made February one of the worst months for sales since 2012?

Says ABC News: “Sales of U.S. existing homes slipped in February to their lowest level since July 2012 as severe winter weather, rising prices and a tight supply of homes discouraged buyers.” [READ ALL ABOUT IT]

 Well you know it now — and remember: You heard it on VARbuzz!

Three things to know for Thursday

Did you know that NAR joined Move (operator of in a lawsuit against Zillow?

After Errol Samuelson, former president of, “defected” to Zillow (to use Realtor magazine’s term), Move and NAR sued both Zillow and Samuelson for breach of contract, fiduciary duty, and misappropriation of trade secrets. [READ ALL ABOUT IT]

Did you know that a study found tight credit has resulted in 1.2 million fewer mortgages?

Here’s the kicker: That’s 1.2 million fewer loans than under 2001 standards — before restrictions were loosened and the sub-prime market began to inflate the housing bubble. [READ ALL ABOUT IT]

Did you know that found seller confidence rose significantly in February?

What that means is that more houses are going on the market. The National Housing Trend Report for February 2014 found 10.1 percent more were up for sale than the year before, “a sign of confidence in the gains sustained through the winter and an indication of a strong early beginning to the spring home buying season.” List prices were also up — 7.6 percent. [READ ALL ABOUT IT]

Now you know. (Remember: You heard it on VARbuzz!)

A slick buy-vs.-rent calculator from the Times

The New York Times has a very cool calculator up — it lets you see whether it makes more sense to buy or to rent. You input your rent, the price and down payment for the home you’re considering, your mortgage interest rate, and your property taxes.

Then you guess: You choose how much you think the property value will go up each year, and how much the rent will increase. The app will then show you how long you’d have to own a house for it to make financial sense:

(Click to enlarge.)

There’s some obvious guesswork — it’s hard to say how much property values will increase (although Case-Shiller found that, in general, it tracks inflation.) Still, it’s a clear and useful tool. Click here to test it out.

Oh, and if you’re not sure about some numbers, check out to get more information.