Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA) continues to make housing affordable for first-time home buyers.

Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA) continues to make housing affordable for first-time home buyers.

The Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA) continues to make housing affordable for first-time home buyers in Virginia. VHDA is an independent non-profit organization dedicated to making home-buying education available for first-time home buyers. They also offer mortgages, grants and down-payment assistance. VHDA is the number one home-buying education and assistance program in the United States.

Cornerstone Business Group, Inc., has been hosting home-buyer education Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA) continues to make housing affordable for first-time home buyers.seminars for the past six years. The seminars cover a host of topics, including personal finance, credit and credit reporting, working with a lender, the role of the real estate agent, home inspection and the loan closing.

VHDA Seminar Format

The seminars are done in two formats. One format is a two-day seminar with three forty-five minute sessions each day, and the second is a six-hour one say seminar which includes 6 forty-five minute sessions with a lunch break in the middle. The Cornerstone seminars are typically the one day seminars. It is a long day, but the value of the information shared is incredibly valuable and worth a day.

Students leave the seminars with all the tools they need to make their first home purchase. The seminar provides a high quality workbook, which students take with them, and back-end support is also available. Each seminar speaker is certified through the train the trainer program, and each speaker is a professional in one of the seminar fields.

If you’re thinking about buying your first home, make sure to check out the VHDA website to see if they have a program that would benefit you. And, when you’re ready to buy, give Cornerstone Business Group, Inc., a call. We are your local real estate sales pros.

Northern Shenandoah Valley Real Estate Market Update – January – July 2017

Northern Shenandoah Valley Real Estate Market Update – January – July 2017

The northern Shenandoah Valley real estate market update for January through July 2017 shows where real estate is moving and where it is booming. It’s moving in all sectors, including, Frederick County, Clarke County and Warren County, VA. Where it’s booming is just across the Virginia state line in Berkeley and Jefferson County, WV.

Frederick County saw 792 homes sold in the first seven months of 2017. That was Northern Shenandoah Valley Real Estate Market Update - January - July 2017followed by 426 in Warren County, and then 123 in Clarke County. Move that view a few miles north and numbers run off the chart. Berkeley County, WV saw 1204 sales during that same period and Jefferson County, WV left all the neighboring counties behind with 1707 homes sold.

The Frederick, Clarke and Warren markets had a total of 1341 homes sold compared to Jefferson County, WV at 1707. That is a 21% difference in that one market as compared to three. Where’s the market booming at the top of the Shenandoah Valley? Jefferson County. WV. That’s good news for our northern neighbors.

Where the numbers are similar in the Shenandoah Valley Real Estate Market

Northern Shenandoah Valley Real Estate Market Update - January - July 2017The total sales numbers are all over the map in the northern area of the Shenandoah Valley real estate market, but there are numbers that are similar. Through the five counties, distressed property sales range from as low as 6% to as high as 9%. Frederick County, VA and Berkeley and Jefferson Counties in WV all show a 6% distressed property rate for the previous seven months. Warren County, VA was at 8% and Clarke County, VA was 9%. The 6% number is closer to pre-recession numbers, but overall, even 9% is a good number compared to five years ago.

The days on the market are also similar across the five counties. Clarke County, VA and Warren County, VA both show an average of 91 days on the market, while Frederick County, VA shows a low of 63. Berkeley and Jefferson County, WV had 77 and 76 respectively. There is a 30% difference from the high to low days on the market, but that number is influenced by many factors that may not signal problem issues.

The biggest difference in the Shenandoah Valley Real Estate Market

The biggest difference in the Shenandoah Valley real estate market is in the average sales price. The lowest sales price is Warren County, VA. Warren County had an average sales price of $154,416 for a 3 bedroom 2 bath home. Close behind that number was Berkeley County, WV. Berkeley County home sales averaged $188,279 for the first seven months of 2017.

Clarke County, VA had the highest average home sale price at $380,365, followed by Frederick County, VA at $269,030 and Jefferson County, WV at $210,935. The Clarke County, VA real estate market is a unique market. It is a lot like an island in the midst of the five counties. What is a normal market in the other four counties rarely applies to Clarke County, VA.

In the five counties, the numbers are moving in the right direction. Jefferson and Berkeley Counties may be getting a boost from new industry moving into the area. Proctor and Gamble is establishing a new facility on 450 acres just south of Martinsburg, WV in Berkeley County. The facility will be one-million square feet under roof and will employee 700 workers.

Amazon is also establishing a new fulfillment center at the most northern tip of Virginia in Frederick County. The new facility will hire 1,000 full-time workers. The facility will also be one-million square feet under roof. The site is just minutes south of the West Virginia border. That may also be contributing to the increase in home sales in both Berkeley and Jefferson Counties.

The northern Shenandoah Valley real estate market is looking good as we head into the second half of 2017. Home sales are up, distressed property sales are down and home values are returning to pre-recession values. It is a good time to sell. When you’re ready to buy or sell in the northern Shenandoah Valley real estate market, give Cornerstone Business Group, Inc., a call. Cornerstone serves both Virginia and West Virginia and we are here to help you find that great home. We are your local real estate sales pros.

 

 

You can’t buy the first house you look at, can you?

You can’t buy the first house you look at, can you?

You can’t buy the first house you look at, can you? I hear that question a couple of times a You can't buy the first house you look at, can you?year. As a matter of fact, my Friday closing was a first-time buying couple who bought the first house they looked at. OK, that’s not completely true. I forced them to look at one more on the same street, but they still bought the one the decided on before we met up for the first time.

I bring this up because there are no rules about which house you buy and when. If the first house you look at is the house that lights your fire, buy it. If you feel like you must look at a dozen to know the first one is the right one, that’s fine, but be aware that it may not be there when you go back. That also happened this week. 

Can you buy the first house you look at?

A super sweet couple wanted to look at a few houses. We could only get one on the schedule for that evening, and they fell in love with it. It was perfect for them and it was nearly perfect in every way. We stayed in the house for two hours. Thank goodness there were no showings after us. 

They were pretty convinced that they had found the right home, but that nagging question kept coming back to their minds, “You can’t buy the first house you look at, can you?” That spurred them to set up a few more showings of other homes a couple of days later, and guess what? The house they fell in love with was also a house that someone else fell in love with, but that buyer didn’t hesitate. He bought it. 

My advice is this, if the first house you look at meets all of your criteria: size, condition, location, amenities, price and style, then buy it. Don’t let some other buyer steal your dream home because of some mystical suspicion that you should have looked at more.

If the first house doesn’t meet your criteria, keep shopping, but don’t be afraid to make an offer on a house because it’s number 1 and not number 15. If it’s right, it’s right. You can’t buy the first house you look at, can you? Yes you can. I’ve had it happen three times this year alone and all three families are thrilled with their purchase. 

When you’re ready to buy that first house you looked at or the tenth one, be sure to give Cornerstone Business Group, Inc., a call. We are your local real estate sales pros.

Clarke County, VA Real Estate Market Update – July 2017

Clarke County, VA Real Estate Market Update – July 2017

The Clarke County, VA real estate market is an anomaly in the northwestern region of the Shenandoah Valley. It is a market on an island. It’s not literally on an island, but figuratively it is very much isolated from many areas of the Virginia real estate market. You might say, it has its own course and it doesn’t follow its neighbors in their real estate markets.

The Clarke County, VA real estate market is a smaller market, but it still had 123 sales Clarke County, VA Real Estate Market Update - July 2017in July. That is the second highest sales volume during the month of July in the past five years. The 2016 July sales were 131, but that was considerably higher than the previous three years. Sales numbers for those three years were 87 in 2015, 100 in 2014 and 99 in 2013. The one obvious thing about the Clarke County, VA real estate sales is that they are all over the map.

Clarke County, VA Real Estate Market – By the numbers

There are a critical numbers in every real estate market. Those numbers tend to tell the story of a market’s health, and Clarke County is no different. In that body of data, days on the market, ratio of distressed properties and volume of sales and sale values are important predictors of future growth or decline. Here again, Clarke County, VA doesn’t always follow the norms, but they do give a glimpse into the future.

Clarke County, VA Real Estate Market Update - July 2017The ratio of distressed properties has dropped radically from 2013. There has been a 41% dropped in short sales and foreclosures over the past five years. That’s a very positive number that gives a little insight into the overall health of the market. The July 2017 distressed property sales were 9% of total sales, and that’s good when compared to most of the previous five years. It doesn’t look bad until you look at Clarke County’s next door neighbor, Frederick County. The Frederick County, VA real estate market saw 1.5% distressed property sales in July 2017. Here again, Clarke County is a different animal with different norms.

Over the past five July markets, distressed properties were 2017 – 9%, 2016 – 11%, 2015 – 6%, 2014 – 16% and 2013 – 22%. Only the 2015 had better numbers, but it also had a 30% lower sales volume. In realty, the trend from 2013 to 2017 was continuously moving down, and it is likely that 2015 would have been somewhere between 16% and 11% if the volume was higher.

Clarke County, VA Real Estate Market – Days on the market

Days on the market can also be a predictor of a real estate market’s health. Long periods on the market can signal that there are too many homes on the market, homes are priced too high, home condition issues may exist or there are simply to few buyers for homes.

In reverse, short days on the market can be the result of low inventory, a high number of buyers, well priced homes in desirable locations and in great condition. That short list creates an environment of quick sales and higher volumes of sales.

The five-year average for days on the market in Clarke County is 120, but the July 2017 days on the market hit a low of 91. That is the best overall number for the past five years and it shows a relatively steady decline in days on the market.

Clarke County, VA Real Estate Market – Dollars and cents

The last area of improvement in the Clarke County, VA real estate market is the average price of sales for July. The average sales price was $380,365. That is not a noticeable shift from 2016 which was $377,528, but when you look back five years to 2013, the numbers look better. The 2013 average price for July was $327,939. That’s a 14% increase from 2013.

There has been a steady climb in average sales price since 2013 with 2015 being an exception, but the low sales volume of 2015 caused the average price to be $545,417. Lower volume sales and higher priced homes created that deviation from the current trend.

Overall, the Clarke County, VA real estate market appears to be healthy. It may need a while longer before it fully recovers from its recession hangover, but the data that gives the best view of the market is trending up. When you’re ready to sell or buy a Clarke County, VA home, give your Cornerstone Business Group, Inc., agent a call. We are your real estate sales pros in the Shenandoah Valley.