Legal Video: Copyrights on Real Estate Photos

Who owns the rights to the images of a property that you list? The professional photographer… the homeowner… you? Virginia REALTORS® attorney Laura Farley discusses the limited licenses for images and the liability that may come if you are in the dark about copyright details. Click the video to watch.

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Storyboard: Buyer gone AWOL

Have you ever had a buyer who was nowhere to be found?  This week’s story is an anonymous share, but an experience that can frustrate many REALTORS®. You have worked hard with a client, completed the entire home buyer process, reached the closing date, and now you can’t get in touch with your buyer. It happens more than you think and oftentimes it’s hard to understand exactly what went wrong. Selling a house is usually not a simple process, but it can become even more complicated and expensive if the buyer is not communicating effectively. Dealing with an AWOL buyer can produce stress for not only the REALTOR®, but also for the seller and the mortgage bankers. It’s imperative to be on the same page with your buyer, so make sure to stay proactive at all times and to keep that open line of communication.

The member who shared this story anonymously provided some honest wisdom for fellow REALTORS®. “Be aware of warning signs like failure to answer or return phone calls, missing appointments, and sudden changes in communication.”

What’s going on in your REALTOR® experience? We want to share your story – big or small – so tell us about your inspirations, obstacles, and lessons. Contact us at Outreach@varealtor.com. Submissions are welcomed on a rolling basis.

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Groundhog Day is this week… are spring sales around the corner?

Whether or not the Punxsutawney groundhog sees his shadow on February 2nd, more buyers may be coming out of hibernation. Nationwide, homes sold 4 percent faster in January than they did last January (2016), according to realtor.com’s Chief Economist Jonathan Smoke. Pent-up demand based on limited inventory has persisted in Virginia even through the winter off-season, keeping prices above where they were a year ago and moving properties from ‘listed’ to ‘sold’ at a quicker pace. Rates are motivating buyers, too. With the prospect that mortgage rates are going up in 2017, more home shoppers are feeling the sense of urgency to complete a purchase.

Are you ready for spring sales? Even if we have six more weeks (or more!) of winter, there’s a lot to talk to buyers and sellers about now. Listing in the cold months can have its advantages. Buyers shopping in the off-season are generally more serious and may be ready to close quickly at the ask price. According to Remodeling Magazine’s analysis of over 7 million sales, the winter season ranks second only to spring in how likely a home is to go for above listing price (17.5 percent). Since buyers are already showing interest in Virginia’s 2017 market, it’s not too early to start talking about what to expect from spring inventory and how to get prepared for a home search and purchase.

 

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NEWS ALERT: Virginia Home Sales Report Shows Impressive Gains for 2016

The fourth quarter of 2016 contributed to a year of significant market strength. With particularly strong sales in November, following consumer reaction to the conclusion of the Federal election cycle and the anticipation of rising rates, the fourth quarter of 2016 outperformed the prior year fourth quarter by 6.8 percent (from 24,639 transactions to 26,308). Likewise, fourth quarter volume grew year-over-year, from $7.830 billion in 2015 to $8.527 billion in 2016. The 8.9 percent increase in volume resulted from the boost in pace, magnified by rising median prices. Median price for the fourth quarter rose 3.9 percent from 2015 to 2016, from $255,175 to $265,000.

The value of transactions for all of 2016 exceeded $37.916 billion, up 8 percent from the accumulated volume in 2015 ($35.095 billion). Despite mid-year inventory constraints, every quarter of 2016 outperformed prior year benchmarks. The strongest relative gains occurred in the second quarter, with the aggregate of sales for April, May, and June rising 10.7 percent higher than for the same months in 2015. Pace for the year rose 6.6 percent, with 116,091 transactions in 2016, over 108,870 in 2015.

Year-over-year, fourth quarter home sales increased in all price bands except the lowest, where limited inventory typically restricts market activity. Sales pace increased in every region of the state, and median price rose in all but the Southwest region.

Though 30-year and 15-year fixed mortgage interest rates remain at enticing lows, they each jumped notably from October to November and again from November to December. Responding to the Federal Reserve Bank’s decision to raise the key rate in December, rates for 30-year and 15-year fixed mortgage interest rates in the fourth quarter rose to 3.81 percent and 3.07 percent, an increase of 10.6 percent and 11.6 percent, respectively, to the third quarter rates. Rising but accessible rates may spur greater activity in 2017, particularly if entry level inventory loosens, as banks balance the prospect of higher margins with the risk of looser qualifications.

“The fourth quarter sealed a year of impressive strength in Virginia’s housing market,” said 2017 Virginia REALTORS® President Claire Forcier-Rowe. “For buyers and sellers, 2016 was a year of opportunity. Particularly as inventory constraints eased in the last half of the year, we saw surges in activity and price. Buyers have been able to take advantage of low rates, even as they rose in the last quarter, and invested confidently at the end of the year. Sellers are poised to profit from sustained high demand as we move into 2017.”

 Click here to view the Fourth Quarter Home Sales Report.

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Storyboard: Using market stats to enhance your business

Virginia REALTOR® Michael Guthrie is a longtime leader in the business and passionate about what makes the industry tick. As a REALTOR® since 1982 and a manager since 1986, he’s got a lot of perspective on the tools to build success. One essential skill for agents is knowing what’s happening in the market overall and regionally, and using that knowledge to demonstrate expertise and best serve clients. It’s also critical to follow the stats in order to identify business development opportunities. Knowing the inventory, ask/sold price trends, and metrics like average length of time on the market and regional volume are key to representing clients properly. If the overall market average indicates  one thing, but different geographic areas or price ranges show different trends, you’ll be able to prepare your clients and they’ll be impressed with your expertise.

Michael offers that, “When REALTORS® have a grasp of what the statistics show, they can focus on the price range or area that is most active, helping them ensure their success.”

Ready to share your REALTOR® story? Contact us with your tips for success, inspirations, and frustrations at Outreach@varealtor.com. We welcome submissions on a continuing basis.

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Legal Video: Text Messages as a Contract…?

Virginia REALTORS®’ Associate General Counsel Erin Barton discusses whether or not exchanging text messages can constitute contractual obligation. Find out what the precedents are and how relying on this communication might affect your business. Click the video to watch.

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Special Events at the 2017 Legislative Advocacy Conference

Mark your calendar for special onsite events at the upcoming Virginia REALTORS® Legislative Advocacy Conference. Don’t miss out on the premier opportunities for networking, education, and advocacy. Featured events include Tuesday night’s RPAC Awards & Reception, Wednesday’s REALTOR® Prayer Breakfast and also Day on the Hill Briefing, and keynote lunch with national political star Dr. Larry Sabato. Details of each day’s full itinerary are available on the event site, and, if you are already registered, you can update your registration here for attendance at these special sessions. Contact Glenda@varealtor.com | 804-249-5710 or Lili@varealtor.com | 804-249-5704 for details.

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Legal Video: Assistance Animals and Reasonable Accommodation Requests

Virginia REALTORS®’ Laura Farley offers clarification on the Virginia Real Estate Board (VREB) Guidance Document regarding reasonable accommodation requests for assistance animals. Click the video to watch.

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Storyboard: Success at any age

Land broker and member of the Blue Ridge Association of REALTORS® (BRAR), Brad “B.K” Haynes proves that with hard work and determination, success is in reach at any age.

When B.K. began his real estate career in 1966, his sights were set high on becoming successful.  Motivated by the idea of living an exceptional life, then 32 year old Haynes was determined to push past his own perceived limits by instilling the idea of never giving up. Now, with over 50 years of experience being a land broker, B.K. has developed and sold over 300 square miles of land for rural home sites. His energy extends beyond real estate, too. Inspired by his creativity and love for writing, he is the author of three books. His most recent title, ‘Racin’ Past 80,’ encourages and advises prosperity for seniors. When it comes to success B.K. Haynes proves that age is really just a number.

After a long career, what tip would he share with fellow REALTORS®? “Have a definite idea of what you want to accomplish and follow through to get there – be specific with your goals.”

What’s going on in your REALTOR® experience? We want to share your story – big, small, uplifting, forewarning – so tell us about your inspirations, obstacles, and lessons. Contact us at Outreach@varealtor.com. Submissions are welcomed on a rolling basis.

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Advocacy in Action: Virginia’s Legislative Session Kicks Off

The Virginia General Assembly convenes on January 11th to begin its annual session of developing and deliberating the laws that govern our state, including those that affect your business. This year, we’ll offer a special weekly summary to keep you in the know about our efforts to protect your business, broaden your opportunities, and enhance access to homeownership. Be on the lookout for details of our legislative agenda, updates on important activity, and calls to action on REALTOR® issues. Together, we are shaping the future of real estate.

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