NAR Says Existing Home Sales Up in March

The National Association of Realtors released data today that mirrors local existing home sales.  5.33 million existing homes sold in March which above 5.30 million expected. NAR says median home prices are rising faster than wages shrinking the pool of entry level homes.  First time buyers have traditionally made up closer to 40% of all buyers.

There’s only a 4.5 month supply of homes which indicates a seller’s market.  Six months supply is considered a healthy balance between buyers and sellers.  Market is tightest with lower priced homes and generally softest at higher price ranges.

Locally, potential sellers who have homes valued between $200,000 and $350,000 have a great opportunity to sell if they’re interested in relocating, downsizing, or moving up.  Interest rates are at historic lows so more buyers can qualify for more home than they might expect.  However, supplies are also tight so sellers of moderately priced homes can get top dollar.  Buyers moving to higher price bracket homes, locally above $350,000-$400,000, have abundant choices and a lot of negotiating power.

Here’s a link to the NAR article:





Spring Opportunity for Fredericksburg Home Sellers

FAAR, our local Realtors association, says that home sales dipped in March, but that may be a good sign for home sellers.  Home sales usually dip when buyers are scarce.  The market reaction is lower home prices and slower sales.  However, the March sales news may have a very different meaning.

Home sales are slow because of a lack of inventory.  Listings in the Fredericksburg, Virginia area market are down over 12% year-over-year according to FAAR, while average home prices are up $10,000 from $260,000 to $270,000.  There were 401 homes that closed in March 2015, while only 369 home sale contracts reached the closing table this year.

Supply and demand means that sellers have an advantage.  Interest rates are still at historically low levels meaning more buyers can qualify to buy. Sellers still need to price their homes realistically, and to get top dollar, present their property in as good a condition as possible.  However, this may be the moment of opportunity for any home owner thinking about moving up, downsizing, or relocationg.



Fewer Fredericksburg Area Homes to Qualify for RD Loans in 2013

Local officials in the Department of Agriculture (USDA) are saying that Rural Housing eligibility areas will change as of March 2013 based on the 2010 Census.  Far fewer homes in Spotsylvania and Stafford Counties will be eligible for Rural Housing (RD) loans after the changes.  One USDA employee in the Richmond, Virginia state office estimates that Stafford County will be virtually eliminated as RD eligible.  Spotsylvania may lose nearly half of the addresses that currently qualify for RD financing.  

RD are very popular among savvy home buyers because the mortgages are among the few available that still offer no money down purchases.  No money down purchases with a variety of loan products were common during the mid 2000’s housing boom.  Today, VA loans to military veterans and RD loans are among the very few no money down products that survived the housing and mortgage crisis.

RD loans are supposed to service rural areas based on census data.  However, eligible areas haven’t been updated in years.  Spotsylvania and Stafford have grown like teenagers over the past two decades.  Consequently, built-up areas such as England Run and Stafford Lakes, including town homes, are still eligible for RD loans.  These communities are just off US 17 and are only a traffic light or two from I-95.

RD Guaranteed Loans are available from lending institutions certified by USDA to issue the mortgages that government-backed much like FHA loans. A second RD product, Direct Loans, are issued directly from USDA.  RD Direct loans are subsidized providing a very low payment for buyers with modest incomes.

Fredericksburg area home buyers who aren’t veterans need to move quickly if they want to take advantage of no-money-down RD financing.  Attractive Fredericksburg, Stafford, and Spotsylvania neighborhoods including South Oaks, England Run, Lancaster Gate, Holleybrooke, Salem Fields, and Red Rose Village are still RD eligible.  All are commuter friendly with easy access to I-95, commuter rail, Fredericksburg, Quantico, and points north.  USDA hasn’t said where the new lines will be drawn.  However, it is likely that these and many other communities will disappear from the RD eligible list next March.






An Early Spring

From Exit 130:

We’ve seen an early spring this year whether its Washington, D.C.’s famous cherry blossoms to my apple trees a few miles south in Spotsylvania County.  Real estate in the Fredericksburg, Virginia area has experienced an early spring as well.  Agents report multiple offers on move-in ready properties priced under $250,000.  For example, a four bedroom, brick front Colonial in the Spotsylvania County  neighborhood of Ashleigh Park neighborhood was listed for $230,000.  It sold last week after five days on the market.  The owners had eleven offers

MRIS, the Washington area multiple listing service, reports that there were 120 sales in Spotsylvania County during the month of February.  That’s up from 101 during February 2011.  Petrhaps what is even more interesting is that 42 of the homes sold in February 2012 sold in less than 30 days.

Most of the action is in moderately priced homes.  The average Spotsylvania sold price was just under $210,000.   Only seven properties priced above $400,000 sold during the month.

While the homeprices appear to be slowly moving up (2.8% higher in February 2012 than February 2011), most homeowners who purchased their homes between 2004 and 2008 are are still a long way from positive equity.  Buyers have ruled the market over the past few years with bargain prices and historically low interest rates.  However, we may be seeing a market shift in moderately priced  property with some advantage back to the sellers.

Spring Apple Blossoms

Andy & Elaine's Apple Tree