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Economy

Inventory looks like the big issue for Virginia housing

Why is inventory becoming the big issue in Virginia real estate? Because there’s not enough of it. (If you’re in an area that does have plenty, be advised: It probably won’t last.)

Check out these statewide figures for February (the latest date we have solid numbers for):

  • Closed sales were up 13.8%, but.
  • Pending sales were down 31.6%, so.
  • Inventory was down 40.2%, and.
  • Months supply of inventory was down 45.3%

That’s huge. Meanwhile, days on market is down (-10.4%) and average closed prices are up (+9.7%) — in other words, the market is doing what it’s supposed to be doing: moving homes.

Columnist warns about the return of sub-prime loans

In case you don’t remember, the housing crisis we’re finally getting out of was caused by, at its core, people getting mortgages they couldn’t afford. Blame the borrowers, blame the lenders, whatever — that was the root of it all.

That was the sub-prime market: loans to people who didn’t have great (aka “prime”) credit. And that’s why we have all these new rules and regs and requirements: to prevent people — many of whom didn’t know any better — from borrowing more than they can afford. (Or at least shielding taxpayers from lenders willing to take the extra risk on those people.)

Governor announces $1 million to provide housing for 19 homeless families

To help fight homelessness in Virginia, Governor Bob McDonnell has announced three grants that will create 19 new housing units for homeless and disabled people.

The grants (which come from a “special funding allocation” of the governor’s 2013 budget) total an even $1 million. They’ll go to apartment complexes in Fairfax County, Gloucester County, and Newport News.

In 2008, Virginia had an estimated 1,166 homeless families — about 3,600 homeless people — mostly in Fairfax County, Virginia Beach, Norfolk, and Arlington County.

Blueprint Virginia launches local briefings

IMAGE_SM_Blueprint_VALast November, the Virginia Chamber of Commerce launched Blueprint Virginia, a year long initiative to develop a strategic plan that will improve Virginia’s competitive position in the global economy and ensure a prosperous and sustainable future. Virginia Chamber President and CEO Barry DuVal has been traveling across the Commonwealth in recent months to gain valuable stakeholder input on regional economic priorities.

Study: Zoning contributed to housing crisis

Add to the never-ending List of Things That Caused the Housing Market Collapse: zoning. Specifically, zoning for too many large, expensive, single-family homes.

That kind of policy, according to a paper in the journal Housing Policy Debate, left people who wanted to live in an area with a choice of either living elsewhere or being lured by the promise of low/no payments and the idea that they could refinance when their ARMs reset.

Naturally, they chose the latter, and the data show the result: Communities zoned for those larger homes were much more likely to see foreclosures. (And that, of course, drove down property values, making it harder for people there to refinance..)

Look at all the good news about Virginia’s infrastructure

Let’s play the glass-half-full game, and see all the positives in what the American Society of Civil Engineers’ “2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure” had to say about Virginia!

First off, we didn’t fail overall. We got a D+!

Fewer than 10 percent of our bridges (9.1%) are considered “structurally deficient” — only about 1,250 are in danger of collapse! (And only 17.6% are “functionally obsolete".)

Bravo for history! Our bridges are among the oldest in the nation — more than half are at the end of their designed life!

Shadow inventory isn’t a problem… is that a problem?

A new CoreLogic report says that “shadow inventory” (homes in the foreclosure process that will presumably enter the market soon) is down — in January it was 18 percent lower than a year ago. And it’s continuing to drop.

For a while, there was much being made about shadow inventory and how it was going to flood the market, lower prices, and stall the recovery. (We argued against that a-plenty, but there were still a good number of pundits who spread the fear.)

EarthCraft Training

Looking for effective ways to market EarthCraft-certified buildings?  The EarthCraft program provides a training class that teaches the principles of green building.  In addition, you’ll learn the specifics of the EarthCraft program in order to successfully present and market sustainably built, green homes.

The three-a-half-hour EarthCraft Real Estate Professional class teaches participants the fundamentals of the EarthCraft program, providing expert guidance on strategies for presenting and marketing sustainably built homes to sales prospects.

The class will discuss:

VAR’s work pays off — transportion bill passes

We asked and you responded – Realtors from across the state put pressure on their representatives in the Virginia General Assembly, which – after much debate, arguing, and compromise – passed a bipartisan transportation bill that Governor Bob McDonnell is expected to sign.

Mortgage banker CEO praises (!) CFPB

Mortgage bankers aren’t exactly the most regulation-friendly group around, so when the CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association (that’d be David Stevens) has good This guy things to say about a government agency that’s creating new regs, it’s worth noting.

In this case, Stevens told the MBA’s membership that, while he thinks many regulators are hindering progress, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is one doing policy right.