Topic: Home Buying

Where To Find New River Valley Real Estate For Sale

So you’ve decided to buy a house – where do you get information on all of the real estate that’s for sale?

Years ago – back when people still walked uphill to school, both ways, you looked in the paper. Earlier this week I was listening to a podcast with Barbara Corcoran and she shared how, when she started renting apartments in NYC, you advertised in the New York Times because that’s where everyone looked for real estate. The real estate section of the NYT was at times thicker than most sections of the paper!

Times have changed, and so have the methods of finding real estate. You’ve got sites like NestRealty.com, Realtor.com, Zillow, and hundreds (thousands?) of others. And how many times have you found a great home on a site, emailed your agent, and found out that the house you wanted isn’t actually for sale any longer? (By the way, did you know that Nest Realty syndicates to more than 150 national and regional locations?) While everyone has a different website they like and trust, I’m always going to recommend that if you see a home for sale on one site, cross-reference it on NestRealty.com. Our search option connects direct to the Multiple Listing Service, so you know if it shows for sale on NestRealty.com it’s available and ready for you to take a look.

Looking for foreclosures? We’ve got that too – just hit up www.NewRiverValleyForeclosures.com, and there you’ll find every foreclosure listed for sale!

Happy searching!

New Phishing Scam Targets Home Buyers

Scammers – they’re the lowest of the low. And now, we’re seeing them go after home buyers, attempting to steal money via wire transfers. It’s something we’ve been watching gain momentum for a few months now, and while Nest Realty has taken steps to continue to safeguard our clients’ information, it’s still important to stay vigilant.

Nest Managing Broker Keith Davis has put together a really great blog post detailing the scam, and highlighting ways that you, as a home buyer or seller, can protect yourself. Even if you’re not working with Nest Realty, make sure your agent knows of the scam, and talk with them about steps to protect yourself. You can read the full post here.

Thanks, Keith, for the information.

When Do Houses Come On The Market?

Seems like, for years now, people continue to ask “when do more houses come on the market in the New River Valley?” It’s true that, as I write this a few days before Christmas 2016, inventory is down, as it is every year. For instance, if you were looking for a single-family home between $250,000 and $300,000 in Christiansburg right now, you’d have twenty six homes to choose from. In Blacksburg, that number would drop to eleven. This makes sense, of course, as in the last six weeks of the year there are three major holidays, and lots of traveling, but for a buyer who’s ready to buy NOW, it can be frustrating.

With that in mind, our real estate market follows most in the country – a typical bell curve, with more listings coming on the market in the spring, peaking in the summer, and falling off in the fall. It’s a pattern that’s been repeated for years now, and one we can reasonably expect to continue.

So – looking to buy in 2017? Don’t be disheartened by lack of inventory at this moment in time. Consider the chart below, which shows activity levels for the New River Valley real estate market going back to 2003. You can clearly see a sharp peak, year after year, as more and more properties came on the market. And for home sellers, fear not – the same pattern applies to you, as well.

So if 2017 is the year that you’re looking to buy, or sell, know that your options – and competition – may be limited right now, but that will likely change as we head into the New Year. As always, if you have any questions, any of our Nest brokers are happy to discuss further.

Have a Merry Christmas!

The Fed Raises Rates – So Now What?

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Federal Reserve

As expected, the Federal Reserve raised short-term rates today. This is the first such increase they’ve made in a year, and the second in a decade. So what’s it mean for real estate mortgages?

The Federal Reserve is the bank of the United States – they regulate monetary policy, and they provide stability within the central banking system. And while an increase in short-term rates might seem to be a bad thing, it’s actually an indication that the Fed sees the US economy in positive terms, and is bringing interest rates up to better mirror inflation. While it’s true that mortgage rates will now rise – local lender Robert Mitchell of Movement Mortgage is already reporting that they’ve seen rates rise to 4.25% – the truth is that this is really a sign of an improving economy. With quoted rates effective today of 4.25% on a 30-year fixed loan, let’s run some numbers to see what the difference in today’s advertised mortgage rates look like:

$200,000 loan at yesterday’s closing rate of 4.125% – Principal & Interest payment of $969.30
$200,000 loan at today’s current rate* of 4.25% – Principal & Interest payment of $983.88
* rate pulled from www.Movement.com

For home buyers, today’s news is going to mean a slight increase in the overall cost of a loan. Again, based on the calculations above, that cost is going to be minimal, but each hike in the Fed’s rate will mean a slight increase in the monthly cost of a home loan. And for sellers, it puts a small amount of downward pressure on you, as well – rising rates are going to keep a small number of buyers out of the market initially, but we’re predicting that’ll reset a bit as we head into the spring market. And remember – rates are still incredibly low, historically. The chart below, from HSH.com, shows 30-year conventional rates over the last 16 years.

30-year mortgage rates since 2000

30-year conventional rates since 2000

 

What Does A Trump Presidency Mean For Mortgage Rates?

dusty-computerTap tap tap. Is this thing on? It’s been a long time since I blogged with any regularity at all, but today seemed an appropriate day to dust things off and get back into the saddle. I was speaking to a group yesterday and was asked about the blog, where I was reminded that it had been far too long since I had done this blogging thing. So … let’s get back to this, shall we? Now’s as good a time as any.

There was a relatively significant event in the United States yesterday, one in which hundreds of millions of people, and every country in the world, was watching. Did you catch it? The 2016 Presidential Election was held, and Donald J. Trump has been named President-elect. Like it or not, we made our bed, so now we’ll lie in it. I was glued to the TV last night, watching every pundit talk about this and that, and wondering what this all means for the New River Valley real estate market going forward.

In elections past we’ve seen some market caution leading up to, and even after, the election. That’s not unusual, and not unexpected. It’s been the case the last elections I’ve seen as a practicing Realtor (2008, 2012, 2016), and it was something we knew was likely. This year, however, we saw almost right away that market futures started to fall, and they kept falling throughout the night – the markets did not like the uncertainty that a Trump presidency might bring. This wasn’t altogether unexpected … in the weeks and months leading up to the election, the markets had typically improved when Hillary Clinton was polling well, and it had typically fallen when Donald Trump was polling well. What was unexpected – to this hack, however – was how quickly it started to fall.

crazy-numbersAnd then the emails and texts started to come, from clients and casual observers. “What’s this mean for mortgage rates?” “Should I lock my refinance?” Since I’m a wealth of knowledge on this subject, I crunched the numbers and then asked a few mortgage lenders who really know what’s going on.

The general consensus among the lenders I talked to is that the market is going to be pretty volatile over the next few weeks. As one lender told me, “look – the bond market is tanking, and that moves inverse of mortgage rates, so they’re going to go up. It’s time to lock.” Another surmised that President Trump – that sounds REALLY weird to say – is likely to replace Fed Chairman Janet Yellen, who he’s said has been terrible at her job, with someone more aggressive. All of this is likely going to mean volatility for mortgage interest rates.

Moral of the story? If you plan on buying a home before Inauguration Day 2017, it might make sense for you to do it sooner than later – or at least lock your rate now. If you’ve read for any period of time you know I’m not prone to creating a lot of “the sky is falling” scenarios, but when it comes to what your monthly mortgage payment is going to be … well, it might cost a little more. The lenders I’ve spoken to today have been busy locking rates, and will likely continue to do so in the next several days. Failing to do so is going to mean your monthly payment is likely to rise as we deal with the uncertainty of exactly what a Trump presidency means for the economy as a whole, and the real estate market in the New River Valley in general.

These are interesting times.

Dusty keyboard.
Crazy numbers.

 

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.

 

 

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 according to iphelp.com.au. 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.

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.

Home_shopping_in_the_rain

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! I wanted to explain whether you should be too worried about the pricing and details, orsilly stuffs like if they have the best shower head in the bathroom! 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!