News

Recent news, business resources and press releases.

Stafford Reconsiders Cluster Development Ordinance

It was recently brought to FAAR’s attention that Stafford County is looking to repeal the state-mandated cluster subdivision ordinance that they have had in place since 2009.  The General Assembly mandated that high growth counties such as Stafford have a cluster ordinance in place that ideally allows development to occur in a smaller footprint by clustering homes in a certain area and then preserving green space in others.

The County’s concerns are focused on the use of this ordinance in rural areas such as Hartwood.  The County contends that the green space that is being “saved” by using this ordinance is actually unusable land anyway like wetlands, stormwater management areas, or community drainfields. The County is concerned that the ordinance is not actually preserving any usable green space while allowing development to accelerate outside of the areas targeted in the Comprehensive Plan.

The Board of Supervisors passed a resolution in January directing the Planning Commission to hold a public hearing on this scheduled for Wednesday, February 28 and to come back with recommendations to repeal the ordinance.  The resolution indicates that County staff would like to see the ordinance eliminated and then work with stakeholders to draft a new ordinance to replace it with.

FAAR has heard from Realtors® who are concerned about complete elimination without replacing it with something else as they have properties that are under contract with the intent of using the current ordinance and its elimination would render those deals obsolete.  In addition, there are developers who have invested considerable resources into developing projects under the current ordinance which will not be grandfathered and will lose out on all of that investment.

The FAAR Board of Directors voted on Tuesday, February 20 to oppose complete elimination of the ordinance in favor of working with stakeholders to revise the current ordinance to address the County’s concerns.  It’s unfair to change the rules of the game halfway through when Realtors® and developers have been using legal code language to inform their deals.  FAAR President Kevin McGrath sent this letter to both the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors outlining FAAR’s position.  Realtor® and affiliate members concerned about this proposed change to the cluster ordinance are encouraged to attend the Stafford County Planning Commission meeting.  This meeting will take place on Wednesday, February 28 at 6:30pm in the Board of Supervisors Chambers located at the Government Center, 1300 Courthouse Road, Stafford, VA, 22554.

Realtors Educate and Advocate in Richmond

A number of FAAR Realtor® and affiliate members attended the Virginia Realtors® Economic and Advocacy Conference this past week.  The conference featured a speech from Governor Ralph Northam, an economic update from Stephen Moret who heads up the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, a real estate outlook with NAR’s own Dr. Lawerence Yun, and a session with presidential historian Douglas Brinkley.  There were also Legislator Town Halls with area elected officials and a reception to conduct more informal discussions with elected officials.

Some highlights of the presentations:
Governor Northam wants to return Virginia to its former place as the #1 state to do business in the US
–The Governor wants to reduce our reliance on federal jobs, uplift rural Virginia, deploy better broadband services, expand educational opportunities, continue state focus on transportation, and expand healthcare access
Stephen Moret wants to focus on bringing Virginia up in the rankings for the best places to do business, sees a few major issues
–college grads are leaving, no national marketing plan for the state, our outlook for growth isn’t great
–we can change this dynamic by supporting great educational opportunities, expanding broadband, and developing business ready sites
Dr. Lawrence Yun said the Fed will raise rates through 2019 and begin pulling back from supporting the economy
–tax reform could impact patterns of home buying as it is not the tax incentive it once was since the standard deduction was doubled
–NAR was able to advocate on behalf of homeowners to stop some of the most potentially hurtful provisions in the reduction of Mortgage Interest Deduction and the deductibility of state and local taxes
–the final bill included a $10,000 cap on deductions for state and local property taxes and a $750,000 cap on Mortgage Interest Deduction
–90% of  VA homeowners pay less than $10,000 in property taxes and 92% of homeowners have mortgages less than $750,000
–price appreciation nationwide is not sustainable for the long-term; incomes grew 15% since 2011 while home prices grew 48%
–average tenure in a house is 10 years, up from 7 years and that is impacting inventory
–prediction for 2018 national housing market:  700,000 homes sales, 2% price appreciation, 4.5% interest rates

January Real Estate Market Kicks 2018 Off with a Bang

January kicked off a good start to the year in the local real estate market posting significant gains in total sold dollar volume, median sold price, and units sold.  Days on market, which has been continually declining compared to the prior year, decreased significantly again in January of 2018 compared to 2017.  January 2018 generated $104,052,726 in total sold dollar volume from 342 units sold throughout the Fredericksburg region.  This represents a nearly 23% year-over-year increase in sold dollar volume and a 14% increase in units sold.

Median sold price came in at $284,725 compared to $264,500 in January of 2017, posting a nearly 8% increase.  “2018 has started out with confidence built on last year’s strength. As I work with sellers who are preparing to list this spring, they are fueled with optimism and they have every right to be,” states FAAR Board of Director Clay Murray.  “We’re seeing homes entering the market, priced appropriately, going under contract in a few short days…in January!”

Days on market, the time it takes from when a listing enters the market until it receives a ratified contract, fell nearly 7% with houses averaging 69 days on the market in January of 2018 compared to 74 days in January of 2017.  Days on market has consistently fallen each month compared to the prior year since November of 2016.

Active listings posted a nearly 10% drop from January of 2017, with 1,180 active listings for January 2018 compared to 1,307 last year.  New listings saw a slight 2% increase with 617 new properties coming onto the market in January of 2018 compared to 604 in January of last year.

On the challenge of dealing with low inventory, Murray comments, “As far as our current lack of housing inventory, buyers are still eager for more options and are constantly searching and waiting for new listings. To successfully purchase a home, buyers must to do their homework and have a financing plan in place to confidently and quickly pursue a home that sparks their interest. 2018 is yet again proving that the Fredericksburg area real estate market is in great demand, no matter the season.”

02 12 18 January Market Statistics

#MemberMonday | Meet Lynn Lenahan

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.

Name
C. Lynn Lenahan

Hometown
Fredericksburg (Spotsylvania)

Current Location
Town of Bowling Green

Title
Assoc. Broker, ABR, AHWD, GRI @1st Choice Better Homes & Land, LC

Number of Years in the Industry
19+

Why do you love working in real estate?
Real estate is an amazing career! It’s never dull or boring, there’s ALWAYS something going…things to learn, things to share. It’s ever changing, fresh! My father always said find a need and fill it. I can’t imagine anything more fulfilling than helping people through the process of settling into that perfect spot they can call HOME. I just get caught up in all the excitement right there with them. It’s awesome!

Favorite Work Story
My favorite work story is not a single incident, but a realization. Every time I’m with a client and we are selling or looking for a home, the process is like painting (which I have a new appreciation for with our latest Sip and Paint’s). At first there is nothing…a clean canvas. Then there’s an expectation of what the final product or outcome will be. Each of us may paint on this canvas with different tools and may see the process differently. Suddenly, in the midst of all the different “things” getting put on that canvas, the final image begins to emerge. And when it’s done, it’s just beautiful. And I was blessed with the skills and knowledge to help it get there.

What are you most proud of in your career?
The thing I am most proud of is my adherence to the Code of Ethics and Professionalism. It’s not that I don’t make mistakes. It’s a very intricate career and sometimes there are sticky situations. I believe in being honest, truthful and treating others with respect. Interacting with others in a respectful way is huge!

Do you have a special cause or volunteer your time? 
I’m very active in my church and community. We do a lot with cooking events: Annual Pig Roast (October-ish), Annual Oyster Roast (March), Chicken Q (on Derby Day), Annual Fish Fry (2nd week of August), Annual Brunswick Stew at Harvest-fest (October). I don’t know who has more fun, the people that attend (and they are VERY popular events) or me. Profits go to various organizations benefiting the children and elderly in the community. I’m also a big advocate for blood donation with the American Red Cross…once every 60 days like clockwork! One more thing…anything to advocate for animals…that’s me!

Fun Fact
We have a place on the Eastern Shore at Chincoteague. It’s a camper with a stick-built room attached and a fenced yard on a permanent site. We own everything BUT the land. We love our Chincoteague neighbors in our little section. We have a pontoon boat, a golf cart and jet skis. We pack up the dogs and head down whenever our schedules permit. I lovingly named it our “Shack @ the Shore”. It’s paradise. While there, I have conducted more business and ratified more contracts than I can count.

Update on Recent Bright MLS Performance Issues

This was sent to each shareholder association CEO regarding the current lack of performance of brightMLS

 

Good afternoon all –

I wanted to provide you with a brief update on ongoing system performance issues with the replication of data between our two primary data centers which variably affected all three systems.

Problems initially began on Thursday, February 1. These performance issues impacted the availability of listings to search on brightmls.com, mris.com, and third party sites. We believed that we had a work around for the problem until we identified a permanent resolution with Oracle. However, these issues surfaced again on Friday and spiked late Friday afternoon to an unacceptable level. To resolve these issues, we pointed all systems to one data center to allow the replication to catch up.

Saturday, a similar issue surfaced affecting the availability of showing links on mris.com and trendmls.com, and the flow of those listings to brightmls.com. That issue was resolved Saturday afternoon.

We are still operating most applications from one data center which is creating periodic slowness when searching mris.com.

We posted messages through the weekend and today on the applicable systems and social media sites.

I am sure you know that these issues are frustrating for our subscribers and that we are doing everything we can to resolve them quickly. In particular, these issues have added additional frustration to subscribers in Central PA where there was already a growing sentiment that system changes and updates are happening too slowly.

We are closely monitoring the situation and taking proactive action every hour to avoid any further service degradation.

Please let me know if you have questions.

Thank you,

Tom

Tom Phillips

President and CEO
610-783-4650 x3334
660 American Avenue, Suite 203
King of Prussia, PA 19406
www.brightmls.com

 

 

#MemberMonday | Meet Charlotte Rouse

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.

Name
Charlotte Rouse

Current Location
Fredericksburg

Title
REALTOR® with Coldwell Banker Elite

Number of Years in the Industry
8

Why do you love working in real estate?
I Love working in the community Where I live and where my children go to school. It’s a privilege to help clients and get their trust in one of their bigger decisions in life, selling or buying a home. I’m lucky enough to have many clients turning into wonderful friends, and then being introduce to help addional family members. I’m very passionate about my job and high level customer service

What are you most proud of in your career?
Long term clients and their referrals – International Presidents Club Award and Emerald Club

Do you have a special cause or volunteer your time? 
Member of the Rappahanock Rotary Club and sit on the Germanna Community Foundation Board.

Fun Fact
Born in Sweden and fluent in 4 languages. Worked 17 years in software sales and worked in 6 different startup in Silicon Valley

FAAR Partners with VDOT on Transportation Video

Are your clients concerned about the endless rows of orange construction barrels up and down area roadways?  Help them make sense of what is under construction, how it will impact their commute in the short-term, and how it will benefit the community in the long-term.  FAAR partnered with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) in the summer of 2017 to film the five minute video below which features a quick explanation of the region’s most visible road projects.

Watch, share, and help get the word out!

King George Economic Development Update

On Wednesday, January 31, King George County Economic Development Director Ryan Gandy addressed a packed house of Realtors and affiliates at the brand new Holiday Inn Express at Dahlgren.  He discussed opportunities and challenges the County is facing and invited the group to contribute to the dialogue about how the County is growing and what is missing.

He readily understands the importance of broadband access for today’s consumer.  The County has received a $30,000 grant to create a solicitation for internet service providers to bring expanded broadband service to more areas in the County.  As many Realtors explained, it is no longer just a luxury but a basic infrastructure requirement for many people looking to move to the County.

Ryan also touched on new businesses coming to the County with the focus of most of that being retail services to serve the resident and commuter population.  While he agrees that more sit down establishments would be great, the demographics and density of the County don’t always make sense for businesses.  He stated that if he talks to 40 businesses in a year and one actually locates to the County, that’s considered a victory.  The economic development process is slow and many factors go into whether a business will locate operations in a specific area.

He also mentioned that there is some expanded residential development coming to the County but that multifamily apartments and townhouses are still not the primary focus of that development.  The County will soon be working on a mixed use ordinance to open up more opportunities for developers to achieve higher densities but he said it’s important that elected officials hear from citizens who want that kind of denser development that can house individuals and families looking for lower cost housing options.

2018 February FAARside Newsletter now available!

Your copy of the February Newsletter, the FAARside is here! Crack open a copy to learn all about projects the Association completed in 2017 and help shape the future of the Fredericksburg REALTORS® Foundation.  But that’s not all!

This edition includes

  • Sentrilock Lockbox Firmware Updates
  • Message from the 2018 FAAR President, Kevin McGrath
  • Thank you to RPAC investors
  • Tax Reform and You
  • The Search for the Best Spring Awards Season
  • Virginia REALTORS® Advocates for you and your business
  • Yearly CE/PL and Designation/Certification Schedule

and more!

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

The Virginia Realtors® Advocate for YOU and YOUR BUSINESS

After a very long election season that culminated with a race being decided by drawing a name out of a bowl, the 2018 General Assembly session kicked off with calls for bipartisanship and working together for the good of all Virginians.  The Republicans hold a razor thin majority at 51-49 and a new Speaker of the House, Delegate Kirk Cox, takes over as a new leader.  Committee assignments have changed, there are many new members to get to know, and the Virginia Realtors® are working hard on the items below that are important to the real estate industry.

Here at FAAR, the Public Policy Committee has met with new Delegate Bob Thomas who takes over from long-time Speaker of the House, Bill Howell, in the House’s 28th District.  FAAR Public Policy Director Kim McClellan is working to set up a meeting of introduction with Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy who took over the seat in the House of Delegates 2nd District.   It is vitally important that these new members understand the important economic impact that real estate has on their district.

Here are the bills that the Virginia Realtors® are advocating for during the 2018 General Assembly session.

Team Legislation – Delegate Chris Peace (HB 862) / Senator Glen Sturtevant (SB 758)

  • The legislation defines a Real Estate Team as “two or more real estate salespersons or brokers who engage in licensed real estate activities and who: (i) work together as a unit within the same brokerage firm; (ii) represent themselves to the public as working together as one unit; and (iii) designate themselves by a collective name.
  • The legislation makes it clear that a Real Estate Team will have to obtain a business entity salesperson license. The requirement to obtain a Business Entity License already exists in the statute and DPOR believes that a Real Estate Team should already be obtaining a Business Entity License. This clarification in the statute allows consumers and other members of the general public to search on-line at DPOR for a Real Estate Team.
  • The bill will require brokerage agreements (buyer’s and seller’s agreements) to include the name and contact information of the supervising broker. Consumers need to know, in all transactions, who the supervising broker is should a problem arise.


Translation of Documents Non – English
Language – Delegate David Bulova (HB 439)/ Senator Monty Mason (SB 528)    

This legislation would encourage real estate licensees to assist the growing diverse population in the Commonwealth by establishing statutory authority for a real estate licensee to refer a party to one or more translation services so the party can contract directly with a translation service of their choosing. The legislation would also make clear that the real estate licensee is not liable for any inaccuracies that may occur by the translator or translation service since all the real estate licensee is doing is advising the party of the availability of translation services.

Earnest Money Deposits – Delegate Riley Ingram (HB 864) / Senator Dave Suetterlein (SB 514)
This legislation would establish in statute a right for the real estate broker to give written notice to the parties and disburse an earnest money deposit in accordance with the clear terms of a real estate purchase contract. The legislation also gives a real estate broker an option to give written notice of intended disbursement, with a 15-day “protest period” for one of the parties to object in writing.  If a party objects in writing, the likely option at that point would be to go to court.

Broker Education – Post-License CE-Other Technical Changes-Delegate Riley Ingram (HB 864) / Senator Dave Suetterlein (SB 514)
This legislation allocates 2 hours of the existing 8-hour broker education hours to the requirements for broker supervision under the Code of Virginia and the Real Estate Board Regulations. This legislation also adds real estate finance to the existing curriculum for post-licensure education. Finally, this legislation makes a series of technical edits to various sections of the Real Estate Licensing Law.

Condo and Property Owners Associations  – Delegate David Bulova (HB 923)
This legislation would require all Common Interest Communities (Condo and Property Owner Associations) to provide a short summary of important information contained in the resale certificate or disclosure packet, delivered at the same time as the Resale Certificate or Disclosure Packet.  Much like the Residential Real Property Disclosure Statement, this summary will provide buyers with a summary of items that could affect their decision to purchase a home in a Common Interest Community including:

  • Annual dues.
  • Special assessments.
  • Rental restrictions.
  • Parking or vehicular restrictions.
  • Pet restrictions.
  • Architectural restrictions.

Acceptance of Rent with Reservation – Delegate Chris Peace (HB 855) / Senator Mamie Locke (SB 197)

The current statute requires a landlord to give a notice of acceptance of rent with reservation in order to accept rental payments and still move forward with eviction.  The current language of the statute is being interpreted different ways by different judges, so that landlords and tenants, property managers and lawyers don’t know exactly how to handle these notices. The purpose of this legislation is to simply clarify the existing law removing the requirement for second notice for the time period between entry of an order of possession and prior to eviction, thus eliminating the confusion with the existing statutory language.

Lexington Short-Term Rental Ordinance – Delegate Barry Knight (HB 824)

Earlier this year, the City of Lexington passed an ordinance to regulate short-term rentals that violates state law in a number of different ways.  Among other items, the ordinance prohibits individuals from owning more than one rental property, requires BPOL taxes, requires a business license, etc.  The purpose of this legislation is to require the City of Lexington to amend its ordinance to come into compliance with various provisions of state law. Every other locality in the Commonwealth that has adopted a short-term rental ordinance has complied with state law and the City of Lexington should be required to do the same thing.

Clarification of Supreme Court Case – Title – Delegate Marcus Simon (HB 311)

A real property owner who buys a house at foreclosure sale, if the occupant does not move out, would file an unlawful detainer in the general district court.  In the Parrish case, the occupant challenged the legal title of the successor owner and the Supreme Court ruled that such owner would have to try “sufficiency of legal title” in the circuit court since a general district court does not have jurisdiction to try legal title to real property.  The Office of the Executive Secretary of the Virginia Supreme Court (OES) prepared a narrative in the general district court judge’s manual to try to head off the potential of every unlawful detainer case getting derailed by assertion by a tenant or other occupant of insufficiency of legal title to real property. The purpose of this legislation is to put into statutory language the substance of the OES judge’s manual narrative.

Press Releases

January Real Estate Market Kicks 2018 Off with a Bang

January kicked off a good start to the year in the local real estate market posting significant gains in total sold dollar volume, median sold price, and units sold.  Days on market, which has been continually declining compared to the prior year, decreased...

Fredericksburg REALTORS® Foundation Awards $1,200 Grant

The Fredericksburg REALTORS® Foundation provided a $1,200 emergency housing assistance grant to Mental Health America of Fredericksburg (MHA).  The grant was used to repair the home of a client of the organization participating in their Senior Visitors Program.  The...

December Closes Out a Strong 2017 for Local Real Estate Market

The 2017 real estate market posted a significant increase in total sold dollar volume and modest increases in both median sold price and units sold.  The year closed out with a total sold dollar volume of $1,856,321,321 which represents an 11.5% increase over the...

November Posts Modest Gains in Local Real Estate Market

November posted modest gains for the local real estate market with slight increases in total sold dollar volume and median price and decreases in units sold and days on market.  Total sold dollar volume increased nearly 3%, coming at $125,014,068.  This increase was...

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