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Archive for Real Estate Trends – Page 2

Mortgage Forgiveness Tax Relief Act Passed

National Association of Realtors® President Chris Polychron has issued the following statement on key legislation passed by Congress:

“The package of tax extensions approved by the U.S. House and Senate, and headed to the President’s desk for signature, includes important provisions that will help distressed homeowners and commercial property investors with transactions made during 2014. NAR applauds Congressional leaders in both chambers for their effort to pass this legislation before adjournment.

“Realtors® strongly supported the bipartisan Mortgage Forgiveness Tax Relief Act, which was included in the package to prevent underwater borrowers from paying taxes on any mortgage debt forgiven or cancelled by a lender in a workout or after their home was sold for less money than was owed. We are grateful to Sens. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Dean Heller, R-Nev., and Reps. Tom Reed, R-N.Y., and Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., for championing the provision.

“The legislation also includes one-year extensions of the 15-year depreciation schedule for leasehold improvements and the deduction for improvements to energy efficient commercial buildings.”


Real Estate Trends and Updates in Virginia Beach and Surrounding Hampton Roads Areas

According to Zillow, the median sales price for homes in Virginia Beach VA for Sep 14 to Dec 14 was $235,000. This represents a decline of 6%, or $14,900, compared to the prior quarter and a decrease of 1.1% compared to the prior year. Sales prices have appreciated 2.2% over the last 5 years in Virginia Beach. The average listing price for Virginia Beach homes for sale on Trulia was $387,084 for the week ending Dec 10, which represents an increase of 0.3%, or $1,129, compared to the prior week and an increase of 2.2%, or $8,343, compared to the week ending Nov 19. Average price per square foot for Virginia Beach VA was $149, a decrease of 50.8% compared to the same period last year. Popular neighborhoods in Virginia Beach include Northwest, North Central, Dams Neck Naval Air Station, US Navy Little Creek Amphibious Base, and Northeast.

Average price per square foot for Chesapeake VA was $126, an increase of 4.1% compared to the same period last year. The median sales price for homes in Chesapeake VA for Sep 14 to Dec 14 was $235,000 based on 409 home sales. Compared to the same period one year ago, the median home sales price increased 0%, or $0, and the number of home sales decreased 44.1%. There are currently 2,050 resale and new homes in Chesapeake on Trulia, including 3 open houses, as well as 242 homes in the pre-foreclosure, auction, or bank-owned stages of the foreclosure process. The average listing price for homes for sale in Chesapeake VA was $285,450 for the week ending Dec 10, which represents a decrease of 0.8%, or $2,397, compared to the prior week. Popular neighborhoods in Chesapeake include Greenbrier West and Great Bridges, with average listing prices of $242,924 and $320,736.

The average listing price for Norfolk homes for sale on Trulia was $246,103 for the week ending Dec 10, which represents a decline of 0.3%, or $634, compared to the prior week and a decline of 1.6%, or $4,099, compared to the week ending Nov 19. Popular neighborhoods in Norfolk include Larchmont/Edgewater, East Ocean View, Bay View, Ghent, Colonial Place/Riverview, and Park Place.

December Top Stories in Real Estate News

GSE’s Detail Low Downpayment Program
On December 8, 2014, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac released details on new mortgage product offerings that will provide access to qualified borrowers able to put down at least 3%.  Both of the entities will require lenders to use automated underwriting systems to ensure borrowers have additional compensating factors such as history of successful use of credit or cash reserves to ensure they will be successful homeowners.  Lenders will be able start offering Fannie Mae’s product on December 13, 2014, while Freddie Mac will implement the program on March 23, 2015.

FHA 2015 Loan Limits Released
On December 5, 2014, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) released its 2015 Loan Limits.  FHA’s calculation for maximum loan limits in high cost metropolitan areas of the country will remain at the 2014 level of $625,500. The standard loan limit for lower cost metropolitan areas will remain unchanged at $271,050. Any community that wishes to contest its loan limit must submit an appeal to the Santa Ana Homeownership Center no later than Jan. 5, 2015. An explanation of FHA’s loan limit calculations, FHA loan limit “look up” links and appeal information are provided in FHA’s Mortgagee Letter 2014-25.

2015 VA Loan Limits Released
On December 10, 2014, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) released its 2015 Loan Limits.  The temporary high cost loan limits, which are currently at 150 percent of the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s (FHFA) loan limits, will expire on December 31, 2014.  The 2015 VA loan limits will mirror the 2015 FHFA loan limits.  The loan limits are the amount a qualified Veteran with full entitlement may be able to borrow without making a downpayment. These loan limits vary by county.

FHA Flipping Waiver Expires
On December 10, 2014, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) announced that it will not extend the temporary waiver of FHA’s regulation that prohibits the use of FHA financing to purchase single family properties that are being resold within 90 days of the previous acquisition.  The waiver expires on December 31, 2014.  NAR sent a letter to Commissioner Galante on October 3, 2014 urging FHA to extend the waiver because of the positive effects of the waiver where property rehabilitation and resale of these homes has increased the availability of safe and affordable homes.  In response to a recent a negative HUD Inspector General report, however, FHA decided not to extend the waiver.

Why Fall and Winter are Prime Selling Months in Real Estate

Fall officially began Sept. 23, but that doesn’t mean you should scrap plans for selling your home this year. In fact, October, November and December can actually be good months to sell. Now is the time to plan for it if you’ve even considered putting your home on the market.

For decades, the conventional thinking was that if you missed the spring selling season, you missed the boat. Once summer rolls around and school starts shortly after that, families are more settled, the thinking went, and therefore less inclined to pick up and move (unless a job change or other

Spring is still the busiest time overall. But there’s plenty of action happening after Labor Day through Christmas….

circumstance forced them).

Also, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and the January cold snaps follow the start of school. In the past, no one wanted to take time to drive around looking at homes when all of this was happening.

Things have changed. Today’s buyers aren’t necessarily timing a home purchase or sale around school schedules because people tend to settle down later in life and live longer. The result is urban expansion; more single, first-time and millennial buyers as well as baby boomers looking to buy (and sell). Also, a lot of home-shopping, at least initially, happens online and via apps. Buyers don’t have to take time out of their busy schedules to drive around — they can just sit down with a tablet on the couch.

As a result of the Internet, our hectic schedules and mobile lifestyles, the fall months are no longer a real estate dead zone. True, spring is still the busiest time overall. But there’s plenty of action happening after Labor Day through Christmas, enough to make it worth your while to put up the ‘For Sale’ sign.

Here’s why.

Buyers are still out there: As mentioned, buyers never stop looking. A serious buyer is looking at new homes online 24/7, even through the holidays. If the right home appears, they’re ready to move. In fact, it could be that buyers in the early winter months are even more motivated than buyers in warmer months because there is less going on. They have fewer distractions and are laser focused on finding a home.

There’s less competition: A lot of people still buy into the old thinking that real estate slows to a crawl by October and virtually stops from Thanksgiving until, say, Valentine’s Day. As a consequence, many potential sellers figure there’s no reason to go on the market during these months. So they wait for spring. And that’s good news for you, because less inventory on the market = less competition for you.

Even January can be a good time to sell: By now you’re probably thinking about all the disruptions to your life that selling a home during the holidays might cause. For instance, you’re in the middle of wrapping Christmas gifts when your agent calls. She wants you to leave the house right away so she can bring a motivated buyer by for another look.

If the potential for disruptions concerns you, put your home on the market in January. Inventory will still be very tight, and there will still be buyers out there looking. In fact, with the holidays over, there may even be more buyers out in January than in December. Also, January buyers may be more motivated. They’ve started doing their taxes and realize they need to buy. Or they’ve set a New Year’s resolution to buy a home within the next 12 months.

Ultimately, as we enter the final quarter of 2014, there will no doubt be plenty of motivated buyers in the market, searching for just the right home at a time when there’s less inventory. Doesn’t that sound like a good time to sell?

Courtesy of AOL

Tips for Upgrading Your Home to Sell

Courtesy of the Virginian Pilot

First, the good news. With 1,164 homes sold in the region last month, Hampton Roads’ housing sales are up 87 percent from November 2008, according to the Real Estate Information Network Inc., the local multiple listing service.

Now let’s temper that: The competition among sellers is fierce, with an inventory of almost 12,979 houses in November, REIN reported.

The right upgrades – even small ones – may be the determining factor between a buyer choosing your pad and the one down the street.

According to Remodeling magazine’s 2009-10 Cost vs. Value Report, projects faring well now include entry doors and siding replacement, the addition of an attic bedroom and minor kitchen remodels.

According to the report, the national average cost of a mid-range major kitchen remodel is $57,215 and returns about 72.1 percent at resale. A minor kitchen remodel averages about $21,411 and returns 78.3 percent.

Real estate agents say that great kitchens and bathrooms traditionally score high in buyers’ minds. But don’t go overboard trying to tip the buyers’ mind in your favor.

“The money you’re going to spend depends on the price of the home” and what you can afford to do, Inglis said. Don’t make changes that won’t return the investment…”

David Alderman, president-elect of the National Kitchen and Bath Association and a partner in Dave’s Cabinets Inc. of Chesapeake, offered another viewpoint: An outdated kitchen “is an automatic $20,000 to $30,000 deduction in a potential buyer’s mind.”

Naval aviator John Chewning and his wife, Chris, of Virginia Beach considered all this when embarking on a kitchen renovation this year.

While they’ve no plans to sell in 2010 (though “you never know in military life – things can change,” Chris Chewning said), the couple took cues from expert remodelers and market trends. Alderman, a certified master kitchen and bath designer, and Matt Hylton of Hylton Builders informed the Chewnings about buyer preferences and cost-efficient solutions during the $40,000 upgrade.

“Buyers are looking for a solid investment,” Alderman said. “They are looking for materials and construction that will hold their value.” They want long-lasting, low-maintenance and water- and energy-efficient appliances and fixtures that will still be in demand 15 years from now. He cited a recent trade survey in which buyers stated they’d even pay more for certified “green” features.

For their Middle Plantation home the Chewnings chose dark granite counter tops, Energy Star appliances in stainless steel – the most popular finish today – and rigid Thermofoil cabinets with deep drawers, a lazy Susan, soft-close drawer slides and roll-out shelves in the pantry.

The kitchen also features a refrigerator garage – matching cabinetry and panels built around the refrigerator, which can be done for as little as $450 while increasing the ever-essential storage space and making an impact, Alderman said. The couple also made structural changes for better flow, which aren’t always necessary but will appeal to buyers.

Renovations don’t have to break a seller, Inglis said. Three of her recent listings, all in the $250,000 range, sold for full price within one month after sellers had each invested only $15,000 in improvements and upgrades. One received multiple offers and sold for $5,000 more than asking price.

“New and clean is good” and not necessarily expensive, Inglis explained. “Often it’s simply good taste and organization that adds value.”

White flat-panel cabinets are fine, she said, and dark Formica counter tops that mimic granite contrast beautifully.

Save by avoiding cabinetry “up-charges,” like glass doors, wine racks and open shelf cabinets, Alderman suggested. Instead, spend on lower-ticket upgrades, like brushed nickel or oil-rubbed bronze fixtures and hardware, under-the-cabinet lighting in the kitchen, replacing or adding light fixtures and adding crown molding.

And while a 4-inch backsplash in granite or stone is nice, the same money can buy an entire backsplash in tile. A tiled focal point costs even less.

Bathrooms are frequently another deal maker or breaker with buyers. Go smart and frugal with wood-framed mirrors, grab bars and shower seats to add value. A tile shower surround’s still the most popular and economical choice, Alderman said, and always choose non slip tile for floors.

Rethink adding a jetted tub, he cautioned. “Everybody thinks they have to have one for the master bath,” but most people hardly use them. They’re not energy-efficient and can use three or four times the water a shower uses.”

However, do consider a secondary heat source, like a wall-mounted electric heater. Shallow cabinets built into walls behind doors and above toilets add valuable storage space and are easy upgrades. And if they need replacement anyway, install tankless hot water heaters and dual-flush comfort-height toilets.

Consider adding a second bathroom to a one-bath home if you’ve been advised that you can recoup the investment.