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FAAR Sends Letter to Spotsylvania County on changes to subdivision ordinance

FAAR recently sent a letter to the Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors expressing concerns about potential changes to the Annual Exempt Subdivision ordinance.  President Randy Walther expressed concerns about reducing the number of allowable lots for annual exempt divisions from five lots to just one, which could seriously infringe upon property owners’ rights to utilize their land as they see fit.  Many people bought land under the current rules with the intention of subdividing in the future to fund retirement, college funds, or medical bills and will now not be able to realize the full value of their asset.  Click the button below to read the letter that FAAR sent. 

This issue is slated to come before the Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, May 28, 2024.  FAAR will publish the official notice when it’s available.  

Local Housing Market Posts Large Increases in Units Sold

The spring housing market is off to a swift start with April numbers posting considerable increases in units sold and total sold dollar volume coupled with modest price appreciation compared to April of 2023.  Median home prices were up 3% from last year, settling at $450,000 this April compared to $435,000 last year.  Units sold increased by more than 26%, with 522 units sold this April compared to 414 last year.  This increase is just the second time the market has experienced year-over-year growth since May of 2022 and eclipses the 6% increase posted in January of 2024.  The growth in homes sales fueled a nearly 30% increase in total sales volume with the market boasting over $256.7 million in transactions compared to $197.7 million last April.  The volume increase was seen in every jurisdiction in the FAAR footprint.

“April 2024 proved to be positive for sellers as the increase in sales pricing continues trending upward by percentage,” comments FAAR Director Gary Gardiner.  “Buyers are competing to secure a home in this low inventory market.  As a result, sellers have been able to maximize their equity. Mortgage interest rates remain higher.  Home affordability continues to be a challenge for most buyers who struggle to find a home and the market is highly competitive financially.”

Days on market, the time it takes from when a listing enters the market until it receives a ratified contract and is removed from active status on the multiple listing service decreased 3% going from 27 days last April to 26 this year.

Inventory was up by 10% from last April with 791 homes for sale at the end of the month compared to 717 last year.  New listings remained static with just 3 more than last April for a total of 649 new homes coming on the market.  New pendings sales were also steady from last year with a slight 1% dip from 615 to 608.  “Today’s market proves that there remains a very low inventory of homes available for sale,” continues Gardiner.  “Buyers and would-be sellers considering a move are hoping for lower interest rates as we continue through the second and third quarter of the year.”

Virginia General Assembly Wrap-Up

The Virginia REALTORS® Government Relations Team worked hard this year advocating for you, your clients, AND your business. Virginia REALTORS® has created a visual resource summarizing the many efforts this team made on behalf of your business during the Virginia General Assembly Session and details the bills, more about them, and what passed (not to mention one bill that passed with help from YOU).

Download this Advocacy Scorecard so you can get the breakdown on just how Virginia REALTORS® works for you and your clients. This document includes bills that were passed, defeated, and amended, plus details about each bill from the 2024 Legislative Agenda. Virginia REALTORS® fights for REALTORS® during the Virginia General Assembly AND all year long.

Celebrating Success: FAAR’s 2024 Awards Dinner and Celebration Shines a Spotlight on Real Estate Excellence

Celebrating Success: FAAR’s 2024 Awards Dinner and Celebration Shines a Spotlight on Real Estate Excellence

(April 25, 2024) The Fredericksburg Area Association of REALTORS® (FAAR) hosted its annual Awards event on April 17th, 2024 at the Woolen Mill, bringing together industry leaders to honor the personal and professional achievements of its members. The event highlighted the dedication, hard work, and community impact of FAAR’s real estate professionals over the past year.

The Awards committee sends thanks to everyone who provided a nomination recognizing a deserving FAAR member.

The highlight of the night was the awards presentation, emceed by Immediate Past President Carol Sondrini, where numerous professionals were recognized across various categories. The celebration also included a silent auction benefitting RPAC that concluded just before the awards presentation. The night rounded off with dancing and networking, providing a joyful end to the festivities. 2024 FAAR President Randy Walther, closed the event with a note of thanks, appreciating the generous RPAC contributions and congratulating all the award winners.

FAAR would like to extend a sincere thank you to all sponsors and vendors who contributed to making the event a memorable occasion. Their continued support plays a crucial role in the association’s ongoing success and community involvement.

If you would like to catch a glimpse of the moments from the event, please visit FAAR’s facebook page at where pictures will be posted soon.

Honors/Award Recipients

YPN Travel Scholarship
Kristi Murphy
Long and Foster

Faces of FAAR Travel Scholarship
Denise Benedetto
Samson Properties

Icon Award
Don Seay
1st Choice Better Homes and Land

Dawn Josemans
Coldwell Banker Elite

Hall of Fame Award
Matthew Rathbun
Coldwell Banker Elite

Good Neighbor Award
Beth Pannell
1st Choice Better Homes and Land

Rookie of the Year
Sheronica Thompson
Coldwell Banker Elite

Manager of the Year
David Cropper
Cropper Homes Sales, LLC

Affiliate of the Year
Selina Bryant
Summit Funding, Inc.

Spirit Award
C. Lynn Lenahan
1st Choice Better Homes and Land

REALTORS® Choice Award
Amy Adams
Ink Homes and Lifestyle

Melanie Thompson Award
Nathaniel Ferguson
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Penfed Realty

Silver Circle Award
Christopher Calamos
Coldwell Banker Elite

Bettina Grein
Help U Sell Grein Group

Carol Holley
Lorac Property Management, Inc.

Peggy Lowe
Century 21 Coastal Lifestyles

Geraldine Ludwig
Secured Property Management

Gary Nance
Nance & Associates Realtors

Professional Honor Roll
Jennifer Burton
City Chic Real Estate

Jennifer Caison
Coldwell Banker Elite

Valerie Dellandre
Century 21 New Millennium

Deb Ellis
Coldwell Banker Elite

Abby Fitzsimmons
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices PenFed Realty

Drew Fristoe
Coldwell Banker Elite

Gary Gardiner, Jr.
Coldwell Banker Elite

Allison Graves
Coldwell Banker Elite

Amal Hall
Samson Companies

DeAnna Hamn
1st Choice Better Homes and Land

Janet Holt
Holt for Homes

Lynn Lenahan
1st Choice Better Homes & Land

Robin Marine
Coldwell Banker Elite

Clay Murray
Pathway Realty

Tamar Myers-Moffatt
Samson Companies

Melissa Stewart
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices PenFed Realty

Anna Torres
Long and Foster

Penny Traber
1st Choice Better Homes and Land

Sha Williams- Hinnant
1st Choice Better Homes & Land

Understanding and Protecting Against Spoofed Emails

Understanding and Protecting Against Spoofed Emails

In recent times, the frequency of spoofed emails designed to scam recipients has risen sharply. These emails often appear legitimate but are actually from fraudsters aiming to steal personal information. It’s crucial to stay vigilant and recognize these phishing attempts to protect your sensitive data.

Table of Contents:

  1. What is a Spoofed Email?
  2. 4 Ways to Spot a Phishing Attack
  3. Best Practices to Avoid Falling Victim
  4. Resources and Further Reading

What is a Spoofed Email?

A spoofed email is a malicious email that mimics the appearance and sender address of a legitimate email to deceive the recipient. FAAR recently highlighted an incident where several individuals received such emails falsely claimed to be sent by FAAR. These emails are crafted by scammers who are becoming increasingly sophisticated, targeting anyone at any time.

4 Ways to Spot a Phishing Attack

1. Strange or Mismatched Sender Address

Always verify the sender’s address. If the email claims to be from a reputable organization but has a suspicious or mismatched email address, it’s likely a phishing attempt.

2. An Unusual URL

Before clicking on any URL in an email, hover over it to see the landing page address. If the URL appears fake or slightly altered from what you would expect, do not click on it.

3. Message Looks Strange or Too Good to Be True

If an email’s content looks unusual or too good to be true, verify its legitimacy by contacting the supposed sender through a different communication method, such as phone or in person.

4. Poor Spelling and Grammar

Emails from professional organizations are usually well-written. Poor spelling and grammar can be an immediate red flag signaling a phishing email.

Best Practices to Avoid Falling Victim

If you receive a suspicious email that seems to be from someone you know, do not reply directly. Instead, contact the sender through another communication method to confirm its authenticity. Additionally, educate your clients or peers about these tactics to prevent them from falling prey to such scams.

Resources and Further Reading

For more detailed information on how to protect yourself from phishing and spoofed emails, consider exploring these resources:

You can also take a phishing quiz provided by Google to test your ability to identify phishing emails. Remember, knowledge is your best defense against these sophisticated attacks.


Staying informed and cautious about the emails you receive is essential in protecting your personal information from scammers. By educating yourself and others, you can help reduce the effectiveness of these fraudulent activities. For additional information and resources, access more spam email educational materials here.

Price Increases Continue to Frustrate Local Buyers

The local housing market showed surprising price growth in March despite persistent year-over-year demand decreases.  Median price was up nearly 8% year-over-year coming in at $449,949 this March compared to $420,000 last year.  Total sold volume remained static from last March coming in at approximately $202.3 million, a scant 1% decrease from 2023 numbers.  Units sold fell by almost 8% year-over-year compared to last March with 417 homes selling last month compared to 452 in 2023. 

The regional price increase was driven by high prices in Spotsylvania and Stafford counties, with the latter setting a price record for March.  Spotsylvania County landed its third-ever highest price at $449,000 with an increase in units sold over last March.  Meanwhile, Stafford County posted a whopping $522,500 median price for March, a 10% increase from last year, but that price point was reflected in a downturn in demand of nearly 30%. 

“We’re seeing a pain crunch for first-time buyers as inventory in their price point has aways been a challenge, and it’s very pronounced right now,” comments mortgage lender and FAAR Board of Director Nick Bohn.  “On the bright side, Virginia Housing programs increased flexibility on income limits has really helped expand those opportunities for first-time buyers.  We’re seeing an increase in inquiries for mortgage loans, and we are anticipating high demand for the limited inventory that’s on the market.”

Days on market, the time it takes from when a listing enters the market until it receives a ratified contract and is removed from active status on the multiple listing service decreased almost 20% going from 37 days last March to 30 this year.

Inventory was again all over the place with a slight increase in active listings with the market seeing 704 active homes for sale compared to 693 at the close of last March, a less than 2% increase.  New listings coming on the market were down by nearly 8% with 602 new homes listed throughout last March compared to 555 listed this March.  New pending contracts were up by over 11% this March with 566 pending transactions compared to 509 last year. 

Spring FAARside newsletter now available

Spring FAARside newsletter now available

Your copy of the Spring Newsletter, the FAARside is here! Crack open a copy to learn about what’s going on at the Association including a letter from the President, 2023 accomplishments, the Virginia REALTORS® legislative agenda, member photos, and more!

This edition includes

  • How REALTORS® gave back over $25,000 to local charities in 2023
  • Information on a new housing gap study
  • April Events & Classes Schedule
  • Thank you to RPAC investors

and more!

Right click here or the cover image to the right and click “Save as” to download

huge pit between person and a house on front page of spring magazine cover

Spotsylvania looking to restrict Annual Subdivisions of lots

Please see below for an update on an issue that the builders are tracking that could impact property owners trying to subdivide their lots.  Spotsylvania County is looking to amend its subdivision ordinance that currently allows 1 division per year for up to 6 total lots down to just 1 lifetime division plus the remainder parcel.  This could be a huge impact for property owners who intended to sell off pieces over time to fund retirement, medical care, college, etc.  If you’re concerned about this change, consider turning out to the upcoming Planning Commission meeting.

Spotsylvania Planning Commission
April 3, 2024 at 6:00 PM
Board of Supervisors Meeting Room
9104 Courthouse Road, Spotsylvania, Virginia, 22553

The proposed amendments are as follows:

  1. Renaming the Annual Exempt Division as the Single-Exempt Lot Division.
  2. Reducing the potential number of lots created per parcel under this provision from 5 to 1, plus the remainder.
  3. Setting the date of the ordinance as July 1, 2024.
  4. Establishing the Single-Exempt Lot minimum lot size as 3 acres, with the remainder lot conforming to the conventional lot size for the zoning district.

Additional Background/Other Considerations: Annual Divisions were adopted as part of the Exempt provisions of the Subdivision Ordinance on March 10, 2009. The provision allows one division of land per year from parcels in Rural, Resort, and Agricultural zones creating up to five new lots over time from each eligible parcel. The code amendment occurred during the economic downturn and the intent was to allow a farmer or larger land holder in the rural areas to sell some land in order to generate income to maintain their rural or agricultural property.  When adopted, the ordinance capped the number of annual lots that could be created each year to 100.  The County has not come anywhere close to this threshold over the last few years.

While these changes may seem innocuous at first glance, they could severely restrict the ability to develop land efficiently and cost-effectively. Here are some key talking points to consider when advocating against these amendments at the upcoming planning commission meeting :

  1. Economic Impact: Restricting the number of lots created per parcel limits the potential return on investment for developers and property owners. This could discourage investment in new developments, ultimately stunting economic growth in our community.
  2. Property Rights: These amendments infringe upon property owners’ rights to utilize their land as they see fit within existing zoning regulations. Limiting the number of lots that can be created per parcel restricts property owners’ ability to maximize the value of their assets.
  3. Housing Affordability: These amendments could drive up the cost of housing in our area by decreasing lot yield. Decreasing available and buildable lots will result in higher home prices, making homeownership less accessible for working families and young professionals.
  4. Competitive Disadvantage: Large developers with more resources may be better positioned to absorb the impact of these amendments or seek alternative development opportunities. Small home builders, on the other hand, may struggle to compete in a market where their ability to maximize land use is constrained.

Local Real Estate Market Continues Strong Showing in February

The February real estate market continued the trend of increasing prices and falling demand, but also showed some promising signs for the those waiting for more inventory with a slight increase in active listings and a large increase in new listings compared to last year.  Median price was up nearly 4% year-over-year coming in at $435,000 this February compared to $419,900 last year.  Total sold volume remained static from last February coming in at approximately $157 million, a scant 1% decrease from 2023 numbers.  Units sold fell by 6% year-over-year compared to last February with 335 homes selling last month compared to 358 in 2023. 

“I find the present condition of our real estate market to be quite promising,” states FAAR Board of Director Tamar Myers-Moffatt.  “A growing number of homeowners appear ready to place their properties on the market, and there is a noticeable increase in active listings becoming available.  The open houses that I have hosted have steady streams of buyers who seem prepared to proceed. My buyers are encouraged by the quality of homes available but are still faced with multiple offer scenarios.”

The real estate market is highly sensitive to even small fluctuations in mortgage rates and the dip in rates that started the year turned into many more buyers coming out.  That increased competition was reflected in homes spending less time on the market than last February.  Days on market, the time it takes from when a listing enters the market until it receives a ratified contract and is removed from active status on the multiple listing service decreased 10% going from 40 days last February to 36 this year.

Active listings, new listings, and new pending contracts all increased for the first time since 2022, but available homes remain in chronically short supply and well-below pre-2020 levels.  Active listings increased nearly 2%, with 661 homes on the market compared to 649 homes closing out last February.  For comparison, there were 1,140 properties on the market at the end of February 2020 so the market is currently running at half of what was typical before the pandemic.  While the most recent active listings increase is very small, there was encouraging news in new listings.  The market saw a 32% increase of homes coming on the market this February with only 393 homes listed for sale at the end of February in 2023 compared to 520 new home listings this year.  New pending contracts were up 8% with 468 pending transactions this February compared to 433 last year.

Myers-Moffatt continues, “All of my current buyers have a home to sell, so finding that next property is a point of concern. Leveraging post-occupancy addendums certainly helps, however many of the offers we receive also have home sale contingencies.  This puts the seller in an especially vulnerable position when formulating their exit strategy for a new property.  I think we can expect to see this trend continue through the spring and summer months.”  


#MemberMonday Meet REALTOR® Denise Benedetto

#MemberMonday Meet REALTOR® Denise Benedetto

The Fredericksburg Area Association of REALTORS® Member Spotlight feature allows members of the community to get to know each other before working with each other in a transaction. Each member answers a series of questions to reveal more about themselves as people.  It is FAAR’s hope that learning about an individual may spark connections that blossom via email, phone conversations or in-person meetings at events and classes.

Denise Benedetto

Washington, D.C.

Current Location
Foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains

REALTOR®, PSA, LHC, Notary, Co-Broker Saba Group, CRE

Why do you love working in real estate?
Working in real estate is a fulfilling journey filled with daily surprises. It provides a unique chance to engage with people deeply and help them achieve their residential and commercial aspirations. Building trust within the communities I serve is immensely rewarding and speaks volumes regardless of market conditions.

Favorite Work Story 
A client intended to purchase a residential property located at 1902 ½ Street, featuring two bedrooms and two baths. However, during the home inspection and appraisal, both parties mistakenly visited the property at 1902 Street, which was also on the market. Fortunately, we recognized the absence of the “1/2” in the address and prevented the buyer from inadvertently purchasing the property at 1902 Street, which already had a pending buyer!

What are you most proud of in your career?
I take great pride in the growth I’ve achieved as an agent, thanks to the invaluable guidance of my mentors at SAMSON Properties and the leadership at FAAR. My affiliation with these esteemed organizations underscores the high standards of professionalism, depth of industry knowledge, and unwavering commitment to service they uphold. Engaging in committee and community service through these platforms ensures that I stay current and continue to be a valuable resource for individuals seeking expert assistance in buying, leasing, or selling real estate.

Do you have a special cause or volunteer your time? 
While I may not champion a specific cause, I am actively involved in volunteering. I hold the position of Secretary within my community’s HOA and serve as the Chair of the Landscape Committee. Additionally, I am a Committee Member of the Orange County Tourism Advisory Committee. Within FAAR, I contribute to three committees. Furthermore, I engage in public speaking and performances related to American history, serve as a mobile notary, and fulfill duties as an Officer of Election.

Fun Fact
I absolutely love the phrase “Go Fly A Kite” because I take it quite literally! I have a collection of kites in different sizes, made of various materials, and featuring diverse shapes. I even have some extras to share with others. Whenever the sun is shining and the wind is just right, you’ll often find me out there, soaring high! It’s not just about play; it’s a magical escape that allows me to daydream and take a little getaway, even if it’s just for a short time.

benedetto, denise REALTOR®

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