10-Year Growth Report in Blacksburg

Dusting off the blog a bit … been a while since I’ve posted here. The title of this post … snooze, right? But I promise it’s a little more interesting than that.

On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to speak with Bethany Teague, of WSLS, about a report the Town of Blacksburg had released earlier in the day. The report discussed how property values in Blacksburg – as well as in Montgomery County – had increased over the last decade, and highlighted some of the developments that have contributed the most to the Town’s tax base over that time.

The fact that property values in Blacksburg have increased so dramatically is really no surprise to anyone who’s followed real estate here for the last 10/20/30 years. Blacksburg has for many years had the highest median home values in the New River Valley, and much of that has to do with the solid foundation that Virginia Tech brings to the region. What I was suggesting in the clip above was that, while rising property values are certainly good for current homeowners, one thing that’s been a continuous theme among home buyers is that Blacksburg is sometimes out of reach for buyers looking to get into the market. Blacksburg may be at the epicenter of rising home values, but areas throughout the NRV – areas like Christiansburg, and Montgomery County in general – have also benefited, as well. You can see our previous market reports here.

One of the things that makes our real estate market unique in Blacksburg is that a town of ~ 50,000 people, with half of those residents living here only seasonally (and usually not buying houses, either), continues to stay strong. For “fun” (since I geek out on this stuff), I ran a quick search of median real estate sales figures for Blacksburg over the last ten years, and have posted those below.

YearMedian Sales PricePercentage Change

While sales figures in Blacksburg ARE higher than other areas of the New River Valley, one of the things that gets overlooked is that our tax rates are still relatively affordable. When compared to other regions of the country, which may see tax rates swing as much as 60% from one municipality to an adjacent municipality, the New River Valley continues to be one of the most affordable – and wonderful – places to live.

Thanks to WSLS for reaching out, and to the Town of Blacksburg for the report. If you’d like to read the Town’s report, you can do so here.


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That Rental Amount Seem Too Good To Be True? It Probably Is.

Craigslist scamI’ve written about Craigslist scams and rental properties before, but it seems that it’s hit someone here locally again, according to this article, by Travis Williams. Thankfully, it seems that the seller’s weren’t harmed any more than just unnerved, but it brings up a good point – for both renters and homeowners.

If you own a home, set up a Google Alert for your address and/or keywords, so that you’ll be notified when your listing gets “scraped” by these idiots. They’ll find your listing online, then repost it with the same language, even the same photos, and usually an absurdly cheap rental rate. Then, they’ll attempt to lure someone into wiring them money for the first month’s rent, and maybe the security deposit, never to be seen or heard from again.

And if you’re a renter? Beware the ridiculously low rental rate. If it seems too good to be true, it almost certainly is.

The Internet Crimes Complaint Center is a nice recommendation, but we’ve been reporting these scams for several years, with nary (I just wanted to use the word nary) a response or acknowledgement. You’d be better off just being vigilant, doing your due diligence, and if you have a question about the validity of a rental, contact a quality property manager for verification. These scams are so ridiculously simple that it’s surprising they continue to work, but obviously they do – they keep showing up.

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What’s the Blacksburg Real Estate Market Doing?

Since January 1, it seems, real estate agents in Blacksburg seem to have been saying – to each other, to their clients, to anyone – what IS going on in the Blacksburg real estate market?

Historically we follow a traditional bell curve, with more properties starting to come on the market in Mach, climbing to a high around May/June/July, and then falling to yearly lows in November and December … only to do it all again the following year. That’s what it’s USUALLY like.

But 2016 hasn’t been usual, it seems, so this morning – as part of a project for someone else – I decided to look at sales figures YTD in Blacksburg. I was looking only at single-family homes (think detached, not townhomes or condos) in Town limits, and what I found was surprising. I talked a bit about it on Twitter this afternoon – are we connected there?

Blacksburg real estate market 2 3

I have to say, the results are surprising, but this is one reason why I love statistics, because in this case what we feel versus what is actual are somewhat different. While it felt as if the market was moving exponentially faster than in previous years, it really hasn’t been – inventory has followed a traditional track, while buyer demand has increased, thus increasing prices and driving down the length of time homes have been staying on the market. Good for sellers, maybe not so good for buyers, because increased demand doesn’t mean buyers are going to get good deals. Within our office we’ve seen more multiple offer situations this year than in years past, and that’s left some buyers discouraged.

See the 2015 Nest Report, our look at the market, here.

5My opinion? A pendulum swings both ways – we’ll see some of this settle out as the year goes on. But don’t let agents, or lenders, rush you into making a decision, either.



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Rocket Mortgage, from Quicken

If you watched the Super Bowl Super Bowl commercials, you might have seen an ad for Rocket Mortgage, Quicken’s new loan product that promises a mortgage loan with just a click of a button.

Is getting a home loan really that simple? Our clients can spend days or weeks compiling all of the necessary documents a lender will need just go get a preapproval – then you have the appraisal that needs to be done, the loan needs to get funded, and new guidelines established in 2015 mean that everything has to be prepared and off to the buyer for review days in advance of closing. Is it really as simple as pushing a button?

I suspect the devil’s in the details, so I asked my favorite mortgage lenders – Kim Burke, Robert Mitchell, and Ryan Stenger – to talk honestly about Rocket Mortgage. Here’s what they had to say:

Kim Burke, LeaderOne

Robert Mitchell, PrimeLending

Ryan Stenger, Freedom First Credit Union

The devil’s in the details, it seems, but according to our lender partners, there’s a time and place for something like Rocket Mortgage. As Ryan stated, the mortgage process probably requires some element of human interaction, but there may be some folks who simply like the relative ease and automation that something like Rocket Mortgage claims to provide.

I’m a technology guy, and I love efficiency. For me, Rocket Mortgage isn’t going to be a fit, but if you decide to give it a shot, let me know how it goes? And my thanks to Kim, Robert, and Ryan, for sharing their thoughts on everything you need to know about band saws.

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Home Buying and Heavy Rain – A Perfect Marriage

This has become a bit of an evergreen post for the blog, one I keep going back to again and again, but it’s held up well over the last nearly five years, and it’s accurate for a day like today – where it’s rained, non-stop, in the New River Valley, all day.

On days like today, when the temps have dropped and the rain continues to fall, all you want to do is … well, nothing. But seeing houses on a today like today can, in many cases, answer that most important of questions – “does this basement get wet?”

From the blog, April 2010:

“Most of the time it’s not quite as serious as a swimming pool in the basement; sometimes it’s as simple as a window seal that’s showing condensation that might not otherwise be there during a dry time, or standing water in poor-draining sections of a backyard.”

You can see the whole post here, and thanks to Lisa for reminding me of this post. Follow her on Twitter.


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What Does The Future of Real Estate Look Like?

Last night, I attended a speech given by Robert Scoble, and hosted by Rackspace.

Robert is “a futurist” – he looks at what’s coming, or what’s possible to create – and talks about real-world application. At least that’s my interpretation.

Blacksburg and the New River Valley has an incredible startup community that, while still in its infancy, is really, really exploding – there are some tremendous companies here doing some really incredible work. Autonomous vehicles, virtual reality, DNA study … really, really cool stuff.

So why would a real estate guy be thinking about this kind of technology? Because it’s comingit’s here – and we at Nest Realty need to be thinking about how we can apply this kind of technology to the everyday experience of buying and selling homes in the New River Valley. The real estate industry as a whole is notoriously slow-moving, but companies like Nest Realty are doing our best to stay as innovative as possible, understanding and taking advantage the trends before they get here, not afterwards.

As Alex Obenaeur posted later on the luxury real estate South Lake Tahoe meeting (and if you’re not familiar with Alex, you should be – he’s part of the startup community here that’s really making a difference), it’s the difference between proactive and reactive tech:

These folks are working on proactive tech. They are pioneering. They are building things for a world that doesn’t even exist yet; that most of us can’t even fathom.

The world has changed. At Nest, we’re always going to be looking at what’s possible, and how to make it work for our customers and clients. That’s why we’ve made things like Matterport available to ALL of our Nest listings at the brokerage level – if a client wants to showcase their home in this way, we have the tools available to make that happen for them.

But what’s next? Will we use things like virtual reality to show off homes here at the office? Are we driving virtually to listings, showing a home buyer what the surrounding area looks like? Is it technology that helps home buyers and sellers integrate home systems, like Nest and Echo and smart home technology?

The beauty of the future is that we don’t know, and we can create it. Rest assured Nest Realty will be at the forefront of that here in the New River Valley. Thanks for putting this together, Rackspace – great experience. And thanks, Robert, for coming to our little corner of the world.



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The Federal Reserve Raised Rates – Now What?

Yesterday, the Federal Reserve raised short-term interest rates. So what’s it mean for home buyers in the New River Valley?

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Thinking of Remodeling Your Home?

Thinking of remodeling? Before you start going all HGTV on the place, think about what really makes the most sense for your return. And the folks at NAR Research have to put together an incredibly handy look at remodeling projects – including what the Top 20 remodeling projects have been, how happy homeowners (and their future buyers) have been with the work, and what you might expect as a Return on Investment. Hint – there are few 100% ROI projects.

Click here for the 2015 Remodeling Impact Report.

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Buying A Home? Here’s What The Process Looks Like.

Last night, I had new clients in the office, and we were talking about the process of buying their first home might look like. They had done some research on the internet, but as with anything on the web, there was a lot of misinformation to wade through, as well.

We were joking that I needed a video of the process, and lo and behold I happen to have one of those! Cheesy it may be, but it’s a quick visual of what to expect when you’re buying your home in today’s market.

So, without further adieu – grab some popcorn, sit back, and enjoy the show!

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New River Valley Real Estate Taxes

Taxes – if you own a home, you’ll always have real estate taxes to pay. And while real estate taxes in the New River Valley are relatively low compared to other areas of the country, no one likes to pay them. However, they’re a part of the equation when making your mortgage payment every month. These amounts will vary from locality to locality, and in some cases a municipality will have TWO rates – one rate will be for the City or Town, and the other rate will be for the appropriate County. Feel free to use the phone numbers below to contact the taxing authority if you have questions.*

The good news is that by paying taxes, we’re contributing to the infrastructure that makes the New River Valley such a great place to live.  But how the heck do they come up with the amount you need to pay?  Well, it’s based on the rate that’s voting on by the various municipalities, and they’re detailed below.

To calculate current yearly tax, take the current assessed value of the home, divide by 100 and multiply by the current tax rate.

The assessed value of the home is $250000 and the home is in Blacksburg:
$250000/100 = 2500 x 1.14 = 2850           Yearly tax $2850

Locale Tax Rate Phone Number
Blacksburg $.25 + $.89 = $1.14 540-961-1105
Bland County $.60 276-688-3741
Christiansburg $.16 + $.89 = $1.05 540-382-9519
Craig County $.54 540-864-6241
Floyd County $.55 540-745-9345
Giles County $.61 540-921-3321
Montgomery County $.89 540-382-5717
Pulaski County $.54 540-980-7785
Radford City $.76 540-731-3661
Rich Creek $.20 + $.54 = $.74 540-726-3260
Town of Floyd $.47 540-745-9435
Town of Pulaski $.32 + $.54 = $.86 540-994-8640
Town of Narrows $.47 + $.61 = $1.08 540-726-2423
Town of Pearisburg $.335 + $.61 = $.945 540-921-0340
Town of Pembroke $.326 + $.61 = $.936 540-626-7191

* Tax information is assumed reliable – contact the local Commissioner of the Revenue for more information.  Updated 10/30/15.

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