VIRGINIA HOME SALES UP IN FEBRUARY 2015 – SPRING SELLING SEASON KICKS OFF

Now is the time to buy—interest rates are creeping up !

RICHMOND, Va., March 19, 2015—The Virginia Association of REALTORS® (VAR) released its February 2015 Home Sales Report today, affirming the steady month-to month and year-over-year increases in sales and in volume, despite the severe winter weather across the state.

 

The number of sales and the median sales price began to increase in February, kicking off the spring selling season.
• Sales increased relatively modestly, a little less than 3% from January to February and were 3.9% higher year-over-year.
• Median sales price increased 2.5% from January to February and 5.7% year-over-year.
• Total sales volume was approximately $1.8M—9.33% higher than February 2014.
• The average number of days on the market remained constant at 91 days and is 7% higher than February 2014.

 

“This is fantastic news. We were a bit concerned that the bad weather was going to be a setback, though we have been seeing more activity. Now I expect to see more for sale signs popping up – which means greater inventory,” said Deborah Baisden, president of the Virginia Association of REALTORS®. “This is the time to buy a home as mortgage interest rates are starting to creep up.”
Average 30-year mortgage interest rates rose in February to 3.71%, after five months of consistent decrease. Rising interest rates reflect general economic health. Rising mortgage interest rates may prompt potential buyers to purchase a home now, while they can still take advantage of historically low rates.
“Historically sales and prices increase quickly in March as the spring selling season sets in. Increases in interest rates may encourage some potential buyers to enter the market sooner—and the Virginia unemployment rate is consistently decreasing,” Baisden added.

 

The Virginia Home Sales Report is published by the Virginia Association of REALTORS®, with analysis provided by the Virginia Center for Housing Research at Virginia Tech. The February Home Sales Report, with charts and graphs, is available on our website.
The Virginia Association of REALTORS® (VAR) is the largest professional trade association in the state, representing approximately 30,000 REALTORS® engaged in the residential and commercial real estate business. VAR serves as an advocate for homeownership and homeowners and represents the interests of property owners in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Note: The term REALTOR® is a registered collective membership mark that identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the National Association of REALTORS® and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics.
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Local REALTORS® Rally to Support Newport News One City Marathon

Look for us and our We Are The R Shirts along the route !

Sunday, March 15, 2015 7:00 AM
13560 Jefferson Avenue
Newport News, VA

REGISTER TO RACE HERE !

SIGN UP TO VOLUNTEER HERE !

Please direct any questions to race volunteer coordinator Dana Perry, dperry@nnva.go

Big Changes Coming for Water Heater Efficiency. Ready?

New residential water heater energy-efficiency standards that go into effect April 16 will require changes to the installation of many residential water heaters. Most water heaters with a capacity of 55 gallons or less will require more installation space, and those larger than 55 gallons in capacity will see additional, more significant changes. However, products manufactured before April 16 can still be bought and installed after the changeover date.

These new efficiency standards will require much higher Energy Factor (EF) ratings for larger water heaters, making a huge impact, especially on how these types of water heaters are manufactured, distributed, installed and/or vented.

The more common-sized water heaters of 55 gallons or less will likely be larger by roughly 2 inches in height and diameter to account for the additional insulation needed to meet the new standard. This may require builders to account for the increased size in their design.

It is expected that replacement water heaters installed in closets will present the biggest problems: They may require installing an applicance with reduced water capacity, selecting a much taller tank of the same diameter or a switching to a tankless water heater if space does not allow for a simple change-out.

As more information is available from manufacturers and the federal Department of Energy, NAHB will update this page.

Larger heaters, bigger changes

There are many factors for home builders and remodelers to consider when deciding whether to specify these new larger water heaters. First is the cost: Conventional, current minimum-efficiency 60-gallon gas and electric water heaters are approximately $675-$1,500, while the new high-efficiency models are about $1,200-$2,450.

New gas water heaters with a capacity of more than 55 gallons will need to be a condensing combustion design to meet the new efficiency requirements, which raises the EF from 0.55 to 0.75 for a 65-gallon model. This means you’ll need a dedicated electrical receptacle to power the exhaust fan and provide a means for condensate disposal. For venting, a dedicated line for combustion air via a lower temperature PVC pipe will typically exhaust through the wall rather than the roof with this design.

Larger electric water heaters will need to be of a heat-pump design to meet the efficiency requirements, which increases the EF from 0.88 to 1.98 for a 65-gallon model. Where a 3 feet x 3 feet closet was often the go-to location for installation for an electric water heater, these new appliances likely won’t fit into the same space.

According to the Air Conditioning, Heating, & Refrigeration Institute, heat pump water heaters require installation in locations that remain in the 40-90 degree Farenheit range year-round and provide at least 1,000 cubic feet of surrounding air space. Because heat pump water heaters remove heat from the house to heat the water, it’s better to install them in warmer areas of the country where the cooling effect of the heat pump will reduce the air conditioning load on the house.

Gary Klein of Gary Klein and Associates says one alternative is to run new plumbing to two smaller water heaters (i.e., 40 gallons) at opposite sides of the home, bringing them closer to the point of use and conserving both water and energy by eliminating excess piping.

For gas water heaters, there may not be much of a benefit from purchasing two appliances because of the need to install another gas line and comply with ventilation requirements. However, not only can the two electric water heaters fit in smaller spaces, there is no need to manage the cold air expelled from the unit or for the design to account for proximity to fixtures to decrease heat loss in piping.

Another alternative: the gas or electric tankless water heater. These units take up little space and can be mounted indoors in cabinets, under sinks, and in very close proximity to fixtures, using less energy than conventional water heaters.

However, gas tankless water heaters may require a larger gas line and modifications to the vent pipe. Electric tankless models may require increasing the capacity of the electric service to the house. Hot water flow rate is limited by the size of the unit and measured in gallons per minute (GPM). Whole-house tankless hot water systems with up to 7.0 GPM can cost $600-$1,000.

It’s important for builders and installers to become familiar with the new rules and the technology options so that they can offer customers the best solutions for placement and capacity.

Water heater manufacturers are working to get the word out and the major manufacturers have updated their websites with the latest information. So far, A.O. Smith, Rheem, Bradford White and State Water Heaters have announced changes to product lines and installation instructions to address how these new standards will affect their customers.

mobile_logoFor more information about this item, please contact Donald Surrena at 800-368-5242 x8574 or via email at dsurrena@nahb.org.

VIRGINIA HOME SALES UP IN JANUARY 2015 – SPRING SELLING SEASON LOOKING STRONG

February 20, 2015—The Virginia Association of REALTORS® (VAR) released its January 2015 Home Sales Report today confirming that sales are continuing to track higher in year-over-year comparisons on a monthly basis.

While January is typically the slowest month of the winter selling season and the slowest month of the year, sales and sale prices improved year-over-year, resulting in an 8% increase in sales volume (dollar value) year-over-year.
“Going forward, Virginia can expect to see steady increases as the spring selling season begins. Mortgage interest rates and the Virginia unemployment rate continued to decrease in January and December, respectively,” said Deborah Baisden, president of the Virginia Association of REALTORS®. We expect the combination of those two factors to have a strong positive effect on spring sales,” she added.

 
The average 30-year fixed mortgage interest rates decreased to 3.67% in January. This decrease in interest rates represents a 17.2% decrease year-over-year. The combination of low mortgage interest rates and low unemployment will likely have a strong positive effect on sales this spring. Virginia’s unemployment rate continued to decrease in December 2014. Virginia has seen a steady and consistent decrease in unemployment of about 0.2% per month over a four-month period
More good news is that the median sales price in January 2015 ($239,900) is 4.76% higher than the previous year, January 2014 ($229,000) and 6.62% higher than the median sales price in January of 2013 ($225,000). Virginia prices declined 7.7% over the previous month, which is typical for January. The recent spate of cold weather and snow may keep February sales down a bit, but should not affect the spring sales season.

 
The Virginia Home Sales Report is published by the Virginia Association of REALTORS®, with analysis provided by the Virginia Center for Housing Research at Virginia Tech. The January 2015 Home Sales Report, with charts and graphs, is available on our website.

 
The Virginia Association of REALTORS® (VAR) is the largest professional trade association in the state, representing approximately 30,000 REALTORS® engaged in the residential and commercial real estate business. VAR serves as an advocate for home ownership and homeowners and represents the interests of property owners in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Note: The term REALTOR® is a registered collective membership mark that identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the National Association of REALTORS® and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics.
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Contact: Jody LoMenzo, Director of Communications and Media Relations

Virginia Association of REALTORS® Email: Jody@VARealtor.COM

Phone: office 804-525-2948 | m 804-347-9564

 

“WE ARE THE R! ONE CITY, ONE FUTURE

VPAR & THE NEWPORT NEWS COMPREHENSIVE PLAN

Many thanks to those who attended our Membership Breakfast and “WE ARE THE R! ONE CITY, ONE FUTURE: VPAR & THE NEWPORT NEWS COMPREHENSIVE PLANNING Session. Thanks to our moderators Susan Gaston – VPAR Legislative Consultant, and REALTOR® Michael Carpenter – Chair of the Newport News Comprehensive Planning Advisory Committee.

Teams of our REALTOR® members provided valuable insight to the City of Newport News in this focus group integral as a building block used by the City in developing their Comprehensive Plan. Special Thanks and kudos to the City of Newport News and Sheila McAllister – Director of Planning, Britta Ayers – Manager of Comprehensive Planning, Angela Hopkins – Senior Planner, Sandy Hitchens – Planner and Flora Chioros – Landscape Planner. With their professional expertise and resources the City of Newport News Comprehensive Planning process is in good hands!

 

Law Addresses First-time Home Buyer Hurdle

Hampton, VA – On July 1, 2014, a new law took effect that makes it easier for Virginians to save for the purchase of their first homes. The Virginia Association of REALTORS®’ 2014 signature legislation, First-time Home buyer Savings Plans, House Bill 331, helps Virginians prepare for home ownership, reminds them of the importance of home ownership, and is designed to improve the long-term health of the housing market.
Virginians now will be able to invest up to $50,000 in financial institutions such as credit unions and banks or directly in mutual funds, brokerage accounts, or almost any other financial vehicle and declare them first-time home buyer savings plans. The gains or earnings on the investment are free of state taxes, and the funds can be used for down payments and closing costs on first home purchases in the commonwealth.

“This bill is a great opportunity to help the next generation of home buyers enter the housing market and buy their first home,” stated Kimbel Dornan, President of the Virginia Peninsula Association of REALTORS® (VPAR), the local trade association that covers housing issues in Hampton, Newport News, Poquoson, Isle of Wight County and York County. VPAR supported the bill and worked earnestly for its passage. All members of the Peninsula Delegation of the General Assembly voted in support of the measure.

Whether it’s a grandparent opening an account for a newborn, a forward-thinking high school student, or a recent college grad looking to the future, first-time home buyer savings plans will reinforce the idea that setting a little something aside today will make it easier to buy a home tomorrow.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Law:
What kinds of accounts can be FHSPs?
Almost any account you have with a financial institution: mutual funds, CDs, brokerage (stocks, bonds, etc.), money markets, insurance, even a savings account. FHSPs can also include individual stocks.
How much can I put in a FHSP account?
You can contribute up to a total of $50,000 in principal, and the account can grow in value up to $150,000. You can put that $50,000 in all at once, or you can contribute over the years. There is no limit on how long the account can exist.
What can I use the money for?
A FHSP account can be used to pay for just about anything related to closing on a home — anything included on the settlement statement: closing costs, inspections, lender fees, etc. These are all considered “eligible costs.”
What is considered a first-time homebuyer?
A first-time buyer is: Someone who has never purchased a home before. That includes single-family homes, condos, coops, townhouses, or mobile homes. (It does not include land or commercial property.)
If you owned a home at some point but did not purchase one — e.g., if you inherited — you can still qualify.
Can I use the money to pay for someone else’s closing costs?
Yes. As long as the person you’re giving the money to (e.g., child, grandchild, niece, and even a close friend) is a first-time homebuyer.

Virginia is ahead of the curve on this initiative. Major real estate and business media figures have written extensively about not only first-time homebuyers who cannot afford the down payments required because of student debt, but also its effect on the housing market. This bill is a way to change that discussion and hopefully act as a platform for other states to enact similar proposals.

The Virginia Peninsula Association of REALTORS® is the voice for real estate on the Peninsula, representing nearly 1,000 real estate professionals active in all phases of real estate brokerage, development, and property management. Our mission is to protect private property rights and enhance our membership’s ability to achieve business success.
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