Author Archive

Virginia is a cat state

According to data from the American Veterinary Medical Association, Virginia is slightly more of a cat state than a dog state.

Make of this information what you will.



Drone no-fly zones

We explained earlier that the FAA forbids commercial use of drones (sorry, “unmanned aerial vehicles”) without a license, and — in its interpretation — that includes Realtors.

But there are also some places where it’s illegal to fly a drone even for non-commercial purposes: near military bases, major airports, or national parks, for example.

Not surprisingly, that puts a lot of the Norfolk and Virginia Beach area off limits.

To help show where you can’t fly a drone, period, comes the aptly named website “Don’t Fly Drones Here,” which consists of an interactive map indicating those no-fly zones.

So while the general “commercial use of drones” rules might eventually change, you still won’t be able to photograph these areas from the air.

Much of the Norfolk and Virginia Beach area is a drone no-fly zone.

Much of the Norfolk and Virginia Beach area is a drone no-fly zone.








VAR CEO Terrie Suit attended the NAR Environmental Summit in Washington, D.C., on July 29 and 30.

The conference was created to help Realtors understand and deal with the “wide variety of environmental risks that could impact the real estate industry in the future” especially those related to climate change, water resources, and energy issues.

Keynoted by Former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, it featured speakers from organizations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, EPA, National Institute for Building Sciences, Insurance Information Institute, and FEMA.


VAR CEO Terrie Suit catches up with keynoter Tom Ridge. The two worked together when Suit served as Virginia’s Secretary of Homeland Security.


Former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman addresses the attendees.


Here is the recommended background-information list provided by NAR to attendees:

Video/Audio Clips

Adapt, Adapt, Adapt: Market Responses to Climate Change
Terry Anderson – May 5, 2014

Our Year of Extremes: Did Climate Change Just Hit Home?
NBC News – April 7, 2014

Ex-Bush official Ridge: Climate change poses ‘a security challenge’
Morning Joe, MSNBC – May 21, 2014

News Articles

One Year Into Obama’s Climate Action Plan, Limits on Executive Actions Remain Obvious
Bloomberg BNA, June 24, 2014

White House Unveils Climate Change Initiatives
The New York Times – July 16, 2014

Climate Adaptation Strategies Gaining Traction Among States, Business
Bloomberg BNA - July 17, 2014

Adaptation Key to Dealing with Climate Change
USA Today – June 4, 2014

Climate Change Reconsidered II: Biological Impacts
Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change – April 9, 2014

The Economic Risks of Climate Change in the United States
The Risky Business Project – June 24, 2014


Zillow to acquire Trulia for $3.5 billion

The rumors are true: Zillow is acquiring Trulia for $3.5 billion in stock. “The combined company will maintain both the Zillow and Trulia consumer brands” according to the press release.

Click here for the Inman News story.


Realtor Linda Terry appointed to Auctioneers Board

LindaTerryCongratulations to Linda Terry of Richmond, a broker/auctioneer/partner with Tranzon Fox (which specializes in auction sales of property) and 2013 president of the Richmond Association of REALTORS. She was appointed to the Virginia Auctioneers Board by Governor McAuliffe.

You can read more about Linda in this 2013 article from the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Buyers want financial info — here’s how to help them

A new report from Discover Home Loans finds some important info for Realtors.

Take these three bits of information from the company’s poll.

1. “Despite feeling financially prepared when entering the process, many homebuyers don’t know what purchasing a home will actually cost them.”

2. “Nearly two-thirds feel overwhelmed by the amount of information available on home financing.”

And then, 3, the kicker:

For help determining whether buying a particular home would be a good investment, prospective buyers turn to real estate agents most often, 66 percent, then to family and friends, 56 percent. However, when evaluating mortgage terms and comparing offers, they turn to mortgage bankers most often, 59 percent, then to real estate agents, 49 percent.

So prospective buyers are ready to buy, but they’re confused about financing options — and you, as a Realtor, are (for better or worse) where they’re likely to turn.

You might be tempted to offer advice on mortgages and financing options, but that’s a dangerous thing to do.

You’re a real estate expert, not a financing expert, and if the advice you give turns out to be wrong (or someone just thinks it’s wrong), you could end up on the wrong end of a lawsuit.

That doesn’t mean you have to send them out into the cold. Your value is being the ‘source of the source.’ Point them to financial experts — give them a list of three people in the area who you trust to provide good info. (Just like with contractors, inspectors, and the like, it’s never a good idea to only give one.)

Result: You cement your place as the go-to person for real estate matters and recommendations, while reducing your risk. Win-win.

Disney World can call itself the Happiest Place on Earth™, but when it comes to actual data, Richmond and Charlottesville take the crown (at least in the U.S.).

Richmond is America’s most contented city according to a new report from researchers at the Vancouver School of Economics and Harvard University, which is based on a large survey in which residents were asked about their satisfaction with life.

That’s among cities with a population of at least a million.When it comes to metropolitan regions of any size, Charlottesville tops the list.

But Virginia’s representation didn’t stop there: The number-two happiest large metro area is Norfolk-Virginia Beach-Newport News region, and number three is Washington, D.C.

And because we know you’re interested, the three least happy large cities are New York, Pittsburgh, and Louisville.

Happiness chart courtesy of the University of British Columbia.

Happiness chart courtesy of the University of British Columbia.




Existing-home sales were down slightly in June according to the latest data from NAR, but are continuing their long-term upward climb. From the press release:

Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, climbed 2.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.04 million in June from an upwardly-revised 4.91 million in May. Sales are at the highest pace since October 2013 (5.13 million), but remain 2.3 percent below the 5.16 million-unit level a year ago.

So that’s up month-to-month, but down year-to-year.

Better news comes from the inventory front, where NAR data show it was up 6.5 percent in June from the year before. And median price (for all housing types) was also up — 4.3 percent in June from the year before. “This marks the 28th consecutive month of year-over-year price gains,” says NAR.

Source: NAR, plus some insight from Calculated Risk.




FHA will allow dual agents to work on pre-foreclosures

After initially saying that it would not allow dual agents to work on pre-foreclosure sales, the Federal Housing Administration has agreed to change that policy after working with NAR.

The original no-dual-agents policy was put in place by the Department of Housing and Urban Development because of concerns of fraud during the pre-foreclosure sale process.

But NAR pointed out that “no statistics or reports were provided to NAR detailing short sale fraud by real estate agents,” so it sent a letter to Carol Galante, the assistant secretary for housing, asking for the policy to be changed.

It said that restricting some real estate agents from representing buyers or sellers in a short sale  would only hamper the sales process, making it harder for thousands of homeowners to sell their homes because they would need to find an agent who can work with them.

Further, the FHA rule even prohibited transactions in which the two sides were represented by the same brokerage, not just the same agent.

FHA heard NAR’s concerns and has changed the rule.

In a victory for NAR, FHA has released a Mortgagee Letter (2014-15) that preserves dual agency arrangements in FHA short sales, although the properties must be listed for at least 15 calendar days before any offers are evaluated.


Looking to buy a rental property? Think Spotsylvania

Capture-000018Spotsylvania County is one of the best places to buy a single-family home to rent out, according to a new report from RealtyTrac.

With an annual gross rental yield of almost 12 percent, Spotsylvania was the No. 5 market in the country for buying single-family rental properties, according to RealtyTrac’s Q2 2014 Residential Property Rental Report.

That means investors who bought those properties have an annual return well above the national average of about 9.97 percent.