How To Give Or Receive A Downpayment To Buy A Home

When buying a home, it can help a borrower’s purchasing power if they’re able to put down a down payment. In its simplest form, the more money a borrower is able to put down on a purchase, the less of a “risk” to the mortgage company who’s financing the rest.

Many times, the down payment comes from family members, which is a pretty awesome gift. But, it’s important to know just HOW to receive that money – it’s not as simple as Grandma writing you a check.

Dan Green of The Mortgage Reports has a great blog post on this, and I’d encourage you to head over and read it in its entirety – linked here. If you want the highlights, here goes:

  1. Write a Gift Letter – this is a letter stating the amount of the gift, the relationship of the person giving the gift to the person receiving the gift, the property address, and that the money is a gift, not a loan, and will not be repaid.
  2. What the Giftor needs to do – Keep a paper trail. Write the check, while photocopying everything and keeping duplicate copies.
  3. What the Giftee needs to do – Take the check to the bank (Dan says don’t do a mobile deposit), deposit it, and keep the receipt.

Again, Dan’s post goes into great detail, both with the idea of using gift monies as a deposit, as well as what the tax consequences might be, and more. I’d encourage you to read it if you’re considering giving, or receiving, gift money in order to purchase a home.

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2014 Nest Report Is On The Way!

There are tons of things I’m proud of about Nest Realty, but one of the things I get really excited about is our Nest Report. It’s a statistical look at what’s happening in the New River Valley real estate market, and it’s put out every quarter. Visually, it’s stunning – thanks to the amazing folks in our Marketing Department. Statistically, it’s one of the most accurate representations of our real estate market – thanks to the bean counters who compile the whole thing. And, interestingly enough, two real estate agents from another company told me yesterday how impressive a report it is … they look through it each time it comes out and think “wow”.

Download the 2014 New River Valley Nest Report here.

  • Median and Average Sales Prices both fell 3% in 2014 throughout the New River Valley MSA.
  • In Blacksburg, the Median Price was flat, but inventory was up slightly.
  • In Radford, Median Price was up quite a bit, rising more than 12% from 2013 levels.
  • Conventional Interest rates, projected to be at or above 5% by the end of 2014, were actually at 4%, much lower than expected by those in the know – proving once again that no one has any much of a clue.

We’re extremely proud of what has been happening at Nest Realty, and the Report will talk a little bit about that, as well. The full report will be hitting mailboxes soon, but here’s a sneak peak! You can see earlier reports here.

Want to talk further? Let’s grab a cup of coffee/tea/water/insert favorite beverage here soon!

 

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Blacksburg VA Named A Top College Town

I’m woefully behind on this news, but Blacksburg has once again been named a “Best” Town in America, this time by BestCollegeReviews.com. From the site:

Blacksburg is home to Virginia Tech, Radford University, and a number of large employers. With close to two students for every non-student, Blacksburg is definitely centered around college life. Though small, the town is forward thinking, as the home to Blacksburg Electronic Village (BEV) since 1991. BEV and close proximity to high quality graduates make Blacksburg an ideal location for tech firms.

As far as creature comforts, Blacksburg is situated between the Blue Ridge and Allegheny mountains with beautiful views around town. In the mountains there are tons of scenic drives and outdoor activities. In town, there are more than 150 restaurants, pubs, art galleries, and boutiques. If you want a high quality town that’s on the smaller size, Blacksburg could be the place for you.

None of this is news to those of us who live here, but it’s nice to once again see the recognition. As I tell clients all the time, there’s nothing like living in a college town.

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Documents You’ll Need To Get A Mortgage In 2015

You’ve decided to buy a house. Congratulations! You’ve written the offer, and while you’re waiting for the seller to sign you’re driving by the house to see it and show friends and family … you’re excited, and you should be!

Now the seller has signed the offer, and it’s ratified. You’re buying a house! You’re over the moon!

And then you start to receive emails and calls from your lender, asking you for this document/that document and more. You’re not so excited any longer.

Buying a house is exciting, and while the process of getting a mortgage can be tedious, it’s not as bad as we make it out to be.

Thanks to Kim Burke – an amazing lender, by the way, if you’re getting a mortgage OR refinancing – here’s a quick cheat sheet on some of the things you’ll need to have ready in order to get that mortgage going. Remember … the faster your loan is processed, the faster you move in.

When’s the housewarming party?

Required Documentation for Mortgage

Click here for a link to a PDF of the image.

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Busking in Blacksburg with Dr. Moon

If you didn’t have to look up the definition of “busking”, good on you. If you haven’t yet, let me help you. I’d never heard the term.

Here’s an interesting five-minute video about Chris Saunders, aka “Dr. Moon”, who can frequently be seen busking on the streets of Blacksburg. I don’t know about you, but (1) I’ve never really stopped to talk to him, and (2) I’ve always enjoyed hearing him play. Whenever I walk by him, I always find a smile on myself.

We need more of this in Blacksburg. We need people actively taking care of others they don’t know, and we need more live music and street performance. There’s a vibrancy that comes from live music, from performers out on the street, interacting with passerby. Let’s continue to tell Blacksburg officials we want this, and we support this.

And next time you see Dr. Moon, let him know you’re grateful. I know I am.

The Appalachian Moon from Michelle on Vimeo.

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Mountain Valley Pipeline

The Mountain Valley Pipeline.

Certainly, if you live in the New River Valley, you’ve heard about this proposed pipeline by now. The issue is far too broad to cover in detail here, but a simple Google search will turn up more than you ever wanted to know. For a comprehensive website that speaks out against the project, Preserve The NRV is a good place to start. Not surprisingly, there’s not a lot out there in favor of it, except for a .info site from the project coalition.

Mountain Valley PipelineThe pipeline is a proposed 42″ pipe, running 300 miles from the source fields, through West Virginia, and into Virginia, via both Giles County, and Montgomery County. Proponents of the pipeline say that it’ll bring affordable natural gas to markets on the east coast. Opponents say it’ll ruin watersheds, views, and property values. As with anything, there are likely truths and deceptions on both sides, but the fact of the matter is that the pipeline is a huge hairy deal in this part of the world right now.  Daily, news reports are coming out mainly in opposition of the project, although if you read the comments you’ll find plenty that are in support of it, as well.

The reality is that this has the potential of being a big deal to real estate in some areas of the New River Valley, namely due to the fact that some landowners will be facing a very real and present danger crossing their property – a fuel line, transporting natural gas, in some case just feet from their houses. That’s pretty scary stuff, and doesn’t account for the danger to water tables, ground stability (you know we have a lot of caves in the area, right?), and more. Some of this became very clear to me the other day when I took a call from a friend. He described how the proposed route was coming across a corner of his property, very close to the house. I knew he had some land, so I went and looked at the proposed route and noticed that the line and included easement weren’t just along a corner of his property – they are coming within ~ 30 yards of his house. Additionally, there’s only one way into and out of his property (the driveway), and that’s going to be affected by construction. It’s a real problem when you can’t get into and out of your house, you know?

There’s a long way to go on this, of course, but the issue is very real. People are going to be affected, and people are mobilizing. For an interesting look at the proposed route, including the easement on both sides of the line, download Google Earth to your computer, and then run this file – you’ll be able to see all sorts of detail regarding the project and where it crosses the various terrain and vistas we all enjoy.

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What is “Land Use”?

Lately, I’ve been working with a few buyers who have been looking for land; specifically, multi-acre parcels of land. Many of those properties have been zoned Agricultural, while others might have some sort of Residential zoning, but in a few cases, we’ve seen properties that have had the term “Land Use” attached to their record. So what is Land Use in Montgomery County?

New River Valley view

Can you imagine this view in your backyard?

Land Use in Montgomery County was established in 1978, and allows for the deferment of real estate taxes on land that is agricultural in nature, at rates that are based on a value that’s less than the tax assessed value. The purpose, according to the County website, is to “further the public interest by encouraging the preservation of land … and to promote orderly land use planning and development.”

So the benefit to a property owner is that by having a property be a part of the Land Use program, they pay less on their real estate taxes. Imagine a 40-acre parcel in Montgomery County is assessed at $100000 … that parcel, taxed at the County’s current rate of $.87 per $100 of assessed value, would mean a tax bill of $870 per year to the property owner. By putting – and keeping – the property in Land Use, the owner would pay significantly less per year in taxes, somewhere on the order of 50-75% of that amount. Of course, if the property is ever taken OUT of the Land Use program, then the owner would be responsible for “roll back taxes”, which would be the difference between the tax levied during the past five years the property was in Land Use, and the tax that would have been levied had the property not been subject to Land Use qualifications.

Clear as mud? Land Use is a way that landowners in Montgomery County can protect the natural resources of the land, while paying lower taxes.

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Step Into Blacksburg

The Blacksburg Partnership recently published a video called “Step Into Blacksburg”, and it’s really well done. Nice job, folks!

Step Into Blacksburg from Step Into Blacksburg on Vimeo.

The New River Valley as a whole is truly a special place to live; I feel fortunate to be here. #LiveWhereYouLove

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How Accurate Is Zillow In Montgomery County?

Over the last few days, I’ve been following a conversation on Twitter – yes, those actually happen – between a few Nest Realty agents in Charlottesville and Fredericksburg. They’ve been discussing the validity of Zillow’s “Zestimates” in their respective areas, and in metro areas in general.

Tool ShedI’ve written about Zillow before, sometimes with some disdain, but the truth is I really really like Zillow as one tool. Like any tool it’s not perfect, but as one tool in a larger toolbox it can be useful … which is why you’ll see me there quite a bit. I haven’t always had such a fondness for the site, but that’s changing.

What I don’t have a fondness for, and what initially propelled Zillow into the public eye (alongside a massive marketing budget), is the idea that based on information like tax records and neighborhood sales we can determine a value for a home. While Zillow doesn’t specifically state Zestimates to be THE end-all for pricing strategy, it’s suggested enough times to be believed. As a single tool it’s a nice way to look at specific houses, or neighborhoods, or areas. As an all-encompassing platform to defining market trends and current data, it misses the boat.

To see our latest Nest Report for Q3 2014, check out our Nest Report.

Zillow gives it’s Zestimates a star rating, with four stars meaning “Best Zestimate”, and one star meaning “Tax assessor’s value, or unable to compute Zestimate accuracy”. So how accurate are Zestimates in Montgomery County? According to the Coverage Accuracy in Virginia, Montgomery County ranks as a One Star county. Same goes for Pulaski County, Floyd County, and Giles County.

Montgomery_County

Taken from http://www.zillow.com/howto/DataCoverageZestimateAccuracyVA.htm

I don’t point this out for any other reason than to say that, as a pricing tool, Zillow in Montgomery County – or Zillow in the New River Valley as a whole – is woefully inadequate. If you want to talk specific marketing position, let’s do that.

Man, it’s always dusty in here when I watch this commercial.

Photo Credit.

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What Did The Q3 2014 Real Estate Market Look Like?

The Nest Report, our quarterly look at the real estate market in the New River Valley, is out for the third quarter of 2014. I wrote in August that the second quarter of 2014 was different than expected, and at the time we didn’t really know why. I suspected it was because of a very short summer for Montgomery County Public Schools, and from what we’ve seen in Q3 and now, Q4, I think that that was, in fact, much of the reason for the slow down.

Throughout the New River Valley, most of the metrics tracked showed nominal change from the same quarter in 2013 – median sales prices, inventory levels, and total sales were all basically flat. Where we saw the most fluctuation was in the various Towns and locales, with tracked metrics bouncing up and down all over the place.

As we head into winter, we expect to see the historical slowdown before the spring market heats up in Q2 2015, leaving opportunities for buyers and sellers who are ready, willing, and able to act now while rates continue to be held down.

If you want to chat about this in more detail, first cup of coffee is on me!

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