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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.)

Reminder: April 20-21 is Nationwide Open House Weekend

NOH logo 2013-dateYes, that’s right — once again, Realtors across the country will be holding open houses to kick off the spring selling season. Mark your calendars and tell your clients: Saturday and Sunday, April 20 and 21.

What’s in it for you? A chance to take advantage of the nationwide advertising campaign. Potential house-hunters will (hopefully) get on their feet and out their doors… and you should be waiting for them.

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.

April is fair housing month

equal-house-oppApril 2013 marks the 45th anniversary of the 1968 landmark Fair Housing Act. The Fair Housing Act prohibited housing discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or handicap. Every April, REALTORS® celebrate Fair Housing Month to reaffirm their continuing commitment to fair and equitable treatment and a professional level of service for all in their search for real property.

All About Fair Housing

April 2013 marks the 45th anniversary of the 1968 landmark Fair Housing Act. Each year REALTORS® recognize the significance of this event and reconfirm our commitment to upholding fair housing law as well as our commitment to offering equal professional service to all in their search for real property.


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..)

Spring buzzing season approaches

Every 17 years, cicadas emerge from the ground for a few months of mating frenzy — the spring break of the insect world. Then they go back to living underground.

There are different colonies or ‘”broods” of cicadas across the country, and this spring Brood 2 will emerge. And Brood 2 is in Virginia (as well as Connecticut, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.)

If it’s anything like when Brood X emerged in Ohio (when I was living there) get ready for a very, very loud spring. It was . impressive, to say the least.

I took this picture in my backyard in 2004:

Eastern Shore Realtor raises money for volunteer firefighters battling arsonist

imageSince November 2012, an arsonist has been plaguing the Eastern Shore, setting more than 70 fires in abandoned and unoccupied buildings.

He (or they) have eluded police and are driving the local volunteer firefighters nuts — these are folks with day jobs and are often out all night fighting fires.

An Onancock Realtor is saying thank you — and while raising some awareness (and money) by selling T-shirts.

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!