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Economy

Three Virginia cities ranked as “best places to live”

Charlottesville, Richmond, and Newport News were named among the nation’s “Top 100 Places to Live” in 2014, according to Livability.

Working with researchers at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, and using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, USDA, Walk Score, Great Schools, Americans for the Arts, and others, Livability examined more than 1,700 small and mid-sized cities across the country.

The rankings were based on a variety of factors, including local economics, quality and availability of healthcare, affordability, quality of education and infrastructure, and local amenities such as parks, museums, and music venues.

Study: Virginia most affected by government shutdown

A study by personal finance site Wallet Hub found that Virginia is the state most affected by the government shutdown.

Using data from Realtor.org as well as the Department of Education, the Brookings Institute, FedsDataCenter.com, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and the U.S. Small Business Administration, Wallet Hub examined a number of factors that would make a state more or less impacted by the shutdown.

Some mortgage brokers are offering closing-cost help

An article in the Washington Post explains how consumers shopping for mortgages may be offered “substantial credits” from mortgage brokers. Lenders, the article explains, may be able to offer similar help with closing costs, but do not always advertise the fact.

This is because the mortgage brokerages, unlike lenders, are required by law to pass certain monies back to their clients, according to the Post. They are trying to use this fact as a tool to attract customers, it says.

As the article explains:

The government shutdown and real estate

As you might expect, there are plenty of stories about how the government shutdown is affecting folks across the country. Let’s focus on the real estate market, though. Here are some of the stories making the rounds:

Mortgage Bankers Call for End to Government Shutdown (DSNews)
David Stevens, president and CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association, urged an end to the shutdown:

Government shutdown and mortgages — what you need to know

If Congress shuts the government tomorrow (i.e., tonight at midnight), how will that affect mortgages? With Fannie and Freddie backing 90+ percent of them, and FHA loans being so popular, it’s an important question.

CNN has the answers, but here’s the gist:

Fannie and Freddie will continue to operate. They aren’t funded by the government; they make their money via fees.

However, FHA, VA, and USDA loan applications won’t be processed.

Pending home sales up for 28th (!) straight month

NAR’s Pending Home Sales Index (which measures contracts, but not closings) was up 5.8 percent in August from the year before, marking 28 months of annual increases. (It was down from July, but that’s typical — sales taper off after summer.)

NAR also expects total existing-home sales to be up about 11 percent in 2013 compared to 2012.

You can view and download the latest Virginia Home Sales Report right here on VAR's website.

Forbes ranks Virginia #1 for business

Forbes has ranked Virginia the number-one state for business. We had been #2 since 2009.

This contrasts (or contradicts) the CNBC ranking from earlier this year that had us slip to #5.

Here’s part of what Forbes had to say:

Housing demand prevails over seasonal decline

Sales numbers can look bleak as the market begins to experience its seasonal decline, but the market it still looking strong in Virginia. Sales are holding steady compared to previous years. In fact, Virginia has seen more sales this summer than it has since 2007.

The end of the sellers’ market is coming (and that’s OK)

Now is a good time to sell. Sounds backwards, right? Aren’t we supposed to repeat the “good time to buy” mantra?

The sellers’ market we’re in will soon be coming to a close. The pendulum will begin swinging back. No, that doesn’t mean that prices will plummet and we’ll be back to 2008 — just that we’re about to see a leveling off.

Follow the bouncing ball:

Virginia cities, schools, businesses in the rankings

A few of the recent rankings reports released had Virginia well represented, so I figured I’d share.

First, seven Virginia cities were added to the National Association of Home Builders’ Improving Market Index – it "tracks housing markets throughout the country that are showing signs of improving economic health."

Blacksburg, Charlottesville, Harrisonburg, Lynchburg, Roanoke, and Virginia Beach are on for the first time; Richmond and Williamsburg were already on the list. The only cloud: Danville dropped off the list this month.