Two recent articles show opposite misconceptions some buyers have about what it costs to buy a home.

From Freddie Mac comes a piece by Christina Boyle, the company’s head of single-family sales, that explains that many people assume they need a much larger down payment than they actually do. In “Down Payments: Today’s Most Persistent Misconception about Mortgages” Boyle writes:

Today’s consumers persistently overestimate the size of a down payment they need to finance a home. Just how deep-rooted the myth of the large down payment is was made plain in some recent research from Zelman & Associates  in New York, which found respondents, on average, believe lenders require equity of 11 to 15 percent. [...] It’s a wakeup call to the housing industry that we have more to do to let the next generation know they can get a conforming, conventional mortgage with a down payment of as little as 5 percent (sometimes with as little as 3 percent coming out of their own pockets).

Meanwhile, while they’re overestimating their down-payment needs, those same would-be buyers are underestimating the other costs of homeownership.

According to’s Christine DiGangi, buyers often don’t count on the price of (or need for) private mortgage insurance. In “Most Homebuyers Don’t See This Cost Coming,” she writes that, “A study released last week by TD Bank showed 65% of homeowners with PMI caused them to pay a higher-than-expected monthly mortgage payment” and “Among people who purchased a home in the past two years, 35% said PMI impacted their decision of which house to buy.”

With PMI costing (according to DiGangi) an average of $100 a month — and FHA loans requiring it for the life of the loan — it’s something more people will need to figure into their calculations.

Of course, that’s just another reason you, Realtors, are critical to the home buying process — you’re the experts who can make sure that buyers aren’t making incorrect assumptions about the costs they are or aren’t about to incur.


April McMillan, CEO of the REALTOR Association of Prince William

April McMillan, CEO of the REALTOR Association of Prince William

Congratulations to Coby Alaoui (broker/president of Coby Realty in Manassas), Scott Jacobs (Owner of Jacobs & Co. Real Estate in Nokesville), and April McMillan (CEO of the Prince William County Association of REALTORS. All three were named part of’s Forty Under 40 for 2014.

The site — an independent news organization serving Prince William and Stafford counties — called them among “our region’s brightest, most promising professionals under the age of 40.”

To merit the award, Alaoui, Jacobs, and McMillan had to have “achieved a high level of responsibility in their careers” and “contributed to the betterment of the community where we work, live and play.”

You can read more about the award and the winners at




The Colorado Real Estate Commission is concerned that off-market or “pocket” listings are not in the best interest of the public. 

State regulators are warning real estate agents not to keep listings away from the market in an effort to boost their pay without warning sellers, a tactic an official called “fairly widespread.”

The Colorado Real Estate Commission is concerned about brokers who put up signs saying listings are “coming soon” to the market and find[ing] buyers before they go public.

Because the full market can’t bid, sellers might not get as much as they could, but agents benefit: They can take a commission from both the buyer and the seller, said Marcia Waters, director of the Department of Regulatory Agencies’ real estate division.

Click here to read more at the Denver Post.


Remodeling magazine is concerned that “reality” shows about remodeling are skewing people’s expectations.

Remodelers say that shows such as “Love It or List It” and “Property Brothers,” which often cram whole-house remodeling projects into too-small budgets, give clients the wrong impression regarding pricing and time constraints. For instance, some shows might suggest that two weeks and $50,000 is enough to renovate an entire house. You know that’s under time and over budget, but homeowners don’t have your perspective, and they see you as the bearer of bad news when you give them a realistic time frame. 

Click here to read more from the magazine itself.


Wells Fargo is concerned that many real estate markets are seeing high prices despite low demand thanks to investor purchases.

Most markets, however, are finding themselves wildly out of balance, with home prices having been pulled higher by an influx of investor purchases and exceptionally tight inventories well ahead of any fundamental improvement in demand. Residential development also remains sparse, which has sent new home prices soaring and severely curtailed affordability.

Click here to read the report.


And NAR is concerned that not enough new homes are being built.

New home construction activity is currently insufficient in most of the U.S., and some states could face persistent housing shortages and affordability issues unless housing starts increase to match up with local job creation.

Click here to read more from NAR.

How are you feeling about these issues?  Comment below!



The good folks at Reis have some fresh statistics about the commercial market — three commercial markets, in fact. This comes from the company’s latest “CRE Insights and Analysis” newsletter.

Apartments. Rents were up about half a percent in the first quarter of 2014. And while those rents have been showing “decent growth figures,” the figures reflect the slowest pace of growth in rents in the last 12 months. “[D]epending on the neighborhood it is increasingly obvious that landlords are finding it difficult to raise rents by over 5 to 10 percent,” because while unemployment may be down, wages are not growing.

Office space. Vacancies barely dropped in the first quarter of the year (down a tenth of a percent nationwide), although, says Reis, “other indicators suggest a market that’s beginning to tighten, with improvement in fundamentals beginning to accelerate.” Completions are low, absorption is high, and job growth continues. Result: “Asking and effective rents have risen for 14 consecutive quarters.”

Retail. “Stagnant” might be the word here: Vacancies are unchanged, supply isn’t increasing by much, and demand remains weak, with the latest figures “one of the weakest on record since [...] late 2011.”


We told you about VAR attending the Fredericksburg Area Association of REALTORS’ RPAC breakfast on June 4. Now here’s some more information, courtesy of FAAR Government Affairs Director Kim McClellan, who writes:

On Thursday, June 5, the Fredericksburg Area Association of REALTORS welcomed 2011 NAR President Ron Phipps and Congressman Rob Wittman to a special breakfast focused on advocacy and RPAC. Over 100 FAAR members and affiliates attended the event which featured in-depth discussions about how what’s happening in Washington directly impacts the business of real estate throughout the Fredericksburg region. Specific issues of flood insurance, sequestration, and student loan debt were brought up. Ron and Congressman Wittman brought their unique perspectives to this great event and demonstrated how engagement at the member level is so important to the success of advocacy efforts at all levels of the association.

(l. to r.) NAR Past President Ron Phipps, FAAR CEO Pat Breme, Sha Williams-Hinnant, VAR President Bradley J. Boland, Suzy Stone, FAAR 2009 President Sherry Bailey, Congressman Rob Wittman, Claire Forcier-Rowe, Drew Fristoe, FAAR 2013 President Suzanne Brady, VAR CEO Terrie Suit, VAR Director of RPAC Development Kathy Diradour

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The staff executives of the state’s 28 local Realtor associations came to Richmond for the annual Virginia Association Executives Conference, where they got a crash, two-day course in a host of important topics.

  • Proposed Virginia Real Estate Board regulations
  • Professional standards
  • NAR’s new core standards
  • NAR Game Changer grants
  • Promoting the use of Realtors
  • Reaching RPAC goals
  • And, of course, an overview of VAR programs that can help them and their members

Here’s keynoter Adorna Carroll giving advice on “When Life Gives you Limes Make It Into a Margarita – Dealing with Difficult People”:

!2014-06-10 AE Conf 06


genericgenyAccording to NAR’s 2014 Home Buyers & Sellers Generational Trends report, here are some things you may not know about Generation Y, aka Millennials, aka “those born between about 1980 and 1995.”

They make up about 31 percent of home buyers – the largest age group. Generation X and Baby Boomers each make up about 30 percent of the market, with older buyers (born between 1925 and 1945) making up most of the rest.

Even though the group is between about 19 and 34 years old, almost a quarter of them (24 percent) were repeat buyers. They’re “typically upsizing,” says NAR, and are usually moving close to their previous home.

They are, however, the smallest group of sellers. Only about 12 percent of homes sold were put on the market by Generation Y. (About 29 percent came from Gen X and 43 percent from Boomers.)

OK, this isn’t quite so surprising, but 97 percent of them financed their home purchases. (About 88 percent of all buyers used financing.)

They found their agent, predominantly, by a referral from a friend, neighbor, or relative. Further, they are more likely to use the same agent when they sell and buy again. 


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Screen-New Single-Family Homes in 2013According to the Census Bureau’s just-released “Characteristics of New Housing,” here are five interesting facts about what kinds of homes were built in 2013.

  • Gas is in: 61 percent were heated with it (although the survey doesn’t specify whether it’s natural gas or propane). Another 38 percent were heated with electricity, while the remaining 1 percent or so uses oil or something else (e.g., solar).
  • Almost half of newly constructed homes — 46 percent — were only a single story.
  • While a third had three or more bathrooms, the majority — 62 percent — had either two or two and a half baths.
  • Forget window units: 91 percent of new homes had central air conditioning installed.
  • Bedrooms were evenly split: 46 percent had three of them, 44 percent had four or more; only 10 percent had two or fewer.

Click here to read all the details.



RS-Rot-Banner-FeatureThe 2014 Real Show — the official statewide convention and expo for Virginia Realtors — is now open for registration.

This year’s show is already shaping up to be phenomenal.

For starters, you asked and we listened: The Real Show is being held during the week, so you don’t miss any of that critical weekend client time.

We’ve streamlined our classes. Now there are three tracks: broker, risk management (“Risky Business”), and marketing (“Market Matters”). That means getting the business knowledge you want is easier than ever.

Of course we have a ton of education available, including 21 hours of high-level CE content from the best speakers in the business, like Melanie McLane, “Coach” Jackie Leavenworth, and VAR’s own Blake Hegeman.

There are courses on RESPA reform, creating an office policy manual, using NAR’s powerful Realtor Property Resource, working with teams, fair housing law, smart pricing, and more.

You’ll also see the return of our popular Learning Lab and Alpha Stage. They’re great ways to learn about the latest tools of the trade, and get tips for using your technology in quick, intensive, hands-on workshops.

M0re than 80 companies have already signed up to exhibit in the expo hall, which means hundreds of products and services to see and demo.

There’s networking galore as the best and brightest Realtors from across the commonwealth return to Virginia Beach to share ideas, meals, and even a drink or two with old and new friends.

And of course you won’t want to miss the VAR Installation and Awards Ceremony, where you can celebrate the installation of 2014 VAR’s officers and board of directors, and see the presentation of our major awards.

Every year the Real Show is the biggest and most important conference for Virginia’s Realtors, whether you’re a seasoned pro or just started in the business. You’ll find more information about events, classes, and speakers at

Be sure to register early for the best price, and we’ll see you in Virginia Beach in October!


VAR Out & About: Fredericksburg

VAR President Bradley J. Boland joined the leaders and members of the Fredericksburg Area Association of REALTORS for the association’s RPAC breakfast.

Special guests NAR Past President Ron Phipps and U.S. Representative Rob Wittman talked to attendees about how what’s happening in Washington affects their business, and what it takes to make a difference there, whether it’s running for Congress or advocating for more than a million Realtors.

2014-06-05 FAAR RPAC Breakfast

(l. to r.) VAR President Bradley J. Boland, Congressman Rob Wittman, NAR 2011 president Ron Phipps, and FAAR President Debbie Irwin.