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Top 3 Reasons to Earn Your GRI

Top 3 Reasons to Earn Your GRI

It doesn’t matter if you’ve been in the business a while or are just starting out. If you’re hungry for more success, it’s time to raise your real estate career to a higher level by earning the most comprehensive real estate designation: Graduate, REALTOR® Institute (GRI).

Just ask current GRI designees. In a recent survey, they indicated these top three reasons for earning the GRI:

1. Gain comprehensive knowledge

The coursework provides in-depth training on the most essential topics, including market knowledge, business skills, systems and tools, and risk management—substantially beyond what’s covered by licensing courses.

2. Build confidence

 Past graduates consistently say they love their GRI because it gave them confidence in their own skills and credibility with clients—essential components for building a successful real estate career.

3. Impress consumers

With “Graduate, REALTOR® Institute” by their name, they stand out in their market as an agent who takes advanced real estate education seriously.

Not only do GRIs have a leg up on agents without the designation, the time required to earn your GRI goes a long way towards demonstrating your level of commitment to yourself, your clients, and the industry. It’s a true win-win-win proposition.

How is the GRI different? Unlike most NAR designations, the GRI is managed independently by each state association of REALTORS®, with slightly different course requirements. This provides an optimal blend of state-specific content along with national perspectives. Also, GRI designees do not pay any annual dues to maintain their designation.

Learn More

Are you ready to become a GRI and elevate your business? Learn more and find courses offered in Virginia at

Fredericksburg-area Real Estate Market Wraps Up a Sizzling Year

“In a year of uncertainty, one thing was certain:  the housing market was hot,” states 2021 FAAR President Carrie Danko.  “In March, as widespread local shutdowns and quarantines were implemented to curb the pandemic, it seemed that the housing industry should prepare for a tough year,” continues Danko.  “Instead, we saw buyers and sellers adjusting to COVID precautions and restrictions resulting in one of the best years in real estate in over a decade.”  The year closed out with a total sold dollar volume of just over $3 billion which represents a nearly 30% increase over the year-end totals for 2019.  The market saw a significant 10% year-over-year increase in median price, going from $310,000 in 2019 to $339,520 in 2020.  Units sold increased over 19%, finishing out the year at 8,310 compared to 6,978 units sold in 2019. 

“The only downside to the 2020 market was low inventory and buyers felt it.  Most sellers experienced multiple offers, likely over list price, after only days on market.  Many buyers experienced disappointment after disappointment, especially buyers in the most competitive price ranges.  Ultimately, 2020 did end with very happy sellers and buyers as evidenced by the over 8,000 transactions that took place in our market,” says Danko. 

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, fell a whopping 31% with houses averaging 42 days on the market in 2019 compared to just 29 days in 2020.  More than half of homes sold in 2020 went under contract in 10 days or less.  The vast majority of sales were of 3 or more-bedroom single family homes, with that segment making up over 83% of the total units sold. 

December kept with the trend of the year and posted an impressive 56% increase in sold dollar volume and a nearly 44% increase in units sold.  The month saw more than $259.8 million in total sold dollar volume, compared to $166.5 million in December of 2019.  Median price was up 10%, settling at $347,222 this December compared to $314,388 last December.   Units sold increased from 483 last year to 695 this year, with significant increases in both attached multifamily and detached single family. 

Inventory has been the main challenge facing the local real estate market for a few years now and the events of 2020 exacerbated an already bad situation.  December 2020 closed with the lowest number of homes available on the market in over 10 years with just 511 available properties, which represents a less than one month supply of homes.  By comparison, we closed the year 2015 with a 3.8-month supply of inventory and 1,574 homes on the market. 

While any predictions about 2021 are incredibly uncertain at this point, Realtors® are anticipating a strong year in the market.  “My hope for 2021 is that interest rates remain at historic lows, inventory starts coming on the market at higher levels, strong buyer activity continues, and that 2021 finishes even stronger than 2020,” Danko concludes.   


Check out the 2021 Virginia Realtors Legislative Agenda

Check out the 2021 Virginia Realtors® Legislative Agenda.  These are the items that your Association will be fighting for in the General Assembly this year.

  • Flood awareness: Creating a flood risk report, compiled by data already available through the Department of Conservation and Recreation, to provide accurate and easy-to-understand information to potential home buyers and require disclosure when a property is designated as a repetitive loss structure by FEMA.
  • Protecting tenants in a foreclosure: Conforming Virginia law to the federal Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act (PTFA) of 2018. The PTFA requires that a purchaser at foreclosure allow a tenant to continue to occupy the rental dwelling unit for up to 90 days if the purchaser is buying the house as their home and up to the balance of the term of the existing lease if the purchaser is buying the house for investment.
  • Guaranteeing virtual access to POA/COA meetings: Allowing property owner and condo unit owners associations to conduct regular and annual meetings through electronic means. The Attorney General has already opined that these meetings can be held electronically but stakeholders believe it would be prudent to add this to the Virginia Code.
  • Providing Affordable Healthcare Insurance:  We are considering introducing a narrowly tailored version of last year’s Association Health Plan legislation to allow only real estate licensee members of the Virginia REALTORS® to pool together as a large group in the pursuit of more affordable, quality healthcare coverage. Association Health Plans are already allowed under Virginia law, but because of the self-employed nature of our members, thousands of Virginia REALTORS® are prohibited from accessing affordable coverage through AHPs. Because of this, we estimate that nearly 7,000 Virginia REALTORS® go without health insurance because they are stuck in the gap between qualifying for subsidies and being able to afford the out-of-pocket costs for insurance.

Congress passes $900 billion COVID relief bill

Congress just approved a large stimulus package to provide relief from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  Check out the laundry list of items included in the bill.  Update is provided by NAR.  Some notable inclusions:  eviction moratorium extended through January 31, 2021 and rental assistance for states to dole out.  

Provided below is the NAR staff summary of the COVID Stimulus and OMNIBUS Appropriation Act with tax extenders and other legislative items. The attached staff analysis are those provisions that NAR advocated for. It is a robust list of important provisions for members and the consumers you serve!

NAR’s Federal Advocacy Responses to COVID-19 page:…

This document can be found  on the NAR.REALTOR at- Main Coronavirus page:

The House just passed this package and the Senate is next and the President is expected to sign!


NAR’s Federal Advocacy team has been working closely with Congress and the Administration to ensure the interests of REALTORS®, their families, consumers, and the entire real estate industry are protected in any federal action in response to COVID-19.

On December 21, Congress passed a COVID-relief package, which also included an Omnibus spending bill for FY21, and some tax extenders. Below is a summary of the major provisions of that bill impacting REALTORS®:


Unemployment Assistance

  • Extends the maximum number of weeks individuals may receive unemployment benefits, from 39 weeks to 50 weeks.
  • Extends all unemployment assistance, including the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation from December 26, 2020- March 14, 2021.
  • Limits payment of retroactive PUA benefits to weeks of unemployment after December 1, 2020, and PUA requests end on March 14, 2021.
  • Eligible individuals may receive PUA benefits until April 5, 2021 as long as the individual has not reached his or her maximum number of weeks of unemployment.
  • Extends Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) at $300 per week for 10 weeks. This provides supplemental unemployment benefits for individuals receiving PUA or regular unemployment compensation for weeks after December 26, 2020 until March 14, 2021.
  • Extends Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) for a maximum of 24 weeks for eligible individuals.
  • Phases out the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program and ends the program on April 5, 2021.
  • Extends interest-free loans to states to keep their unemployment insurance trust funds running.
  • Reimburses states at 50 percent for the first week of compensable regular unemployment benefits for states with no waiting period.
  • Provides individuals seeking unemployment benefits with the right to appeal any state determination or redetermination regarding rights to PUA.
  • Provides a repayment waiver for individuals who received Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), but who were not entitled to receive PUA, if the PUA payment was the fault of the individual and repayment would be “contrary to equity or good conscience.” State labor agencies must make all individual determinations regarding one’s repayment or waiver status.
  • Requires individuals to continue to re-certify weekly with the state that the individual’s loss of income is due to a Covid-related reason or issue and the individual is unemployed for a such week.
  • Adds additional program measures requiring individuals seeking unemployment to provide documentation of earnings and employment to state agencies as a mechanism for states to verify the identity of individuals seeking unemployment benefits.
  • Imposes “return to work” reporting requirements for states to provide a way for employers to report when someone turns down a job and to notify claimants of the requirement to accept suitable work, unless there is a good cause for refusal.

Paycheck Protection Program

  • Appropriates $284.45 billion for PPP loans and $20 billion for EIDL Grants.
  • Certain eligible businesses may receive second-draws of PPP loans of up to $2 million: 300 employees or fewer (or meets alternative SBA size standards) and saw at least a 25% drop in gross receipts in 2020 to a comparable quarter in 2019.
    • The maximum loan amount a business can get (for both first- and second-draw PPP loans) is $10 million within 90 days.
  • PPP borrowers who receive $150,000 or less in PPP loan money may submit a one-page forgiveness form online certifying their compliance with the program requirements.
  • Extends the deadline for PPP “covered periods” (the 8- or 24-week period from which a borrower has to use their PPP funds) through September 30, 2021.
  • Expands allowable expenditures of PPP funds to cover purchasing PPE for employees;
  • 501©(6) organizations can access PPP funds if they have 300 employees or fewer, do not receive more than 15% of their receipts from lobbying activities and lobbying activities do not comprise more than 15% of their activities, and the cost of the lobbying activities of the organization did not exceed $1,000,000 during the most recent tax year.
    • PPP funds cannot be used for lobbying activities of any kind.
  • Repeals the requirement that borrowers who receive both an EIDL advance grant and a PPP loan deduct the forgiven amount of the EIDL grant from the forgivable amount of their PPP loan.

PPP Tax Forgiveness

  • Allows for deductibility of business expenses paid for with forgiven PPP loans.

Eviction Moratorium & Rental Assistance

  • Provides $25b through September 30, 2022 for rental assistance. The monies will be allocated to states through the Department of Treasury.
  • States allocation will be based on population, no state will receive less than $200 million.
  • Allows landlords to apply for funds on behalf of tenants.
  • Includes payments for rent in arrears as well as utilities and “and other expenses related to housing.”
  • States should prioritize families with incomes below 50% of area median income (but no set % of funds distributed is required).
  • Rental assistance will not be included in recipient’s income for federal tax purposes.
  • Extends CDC moratorium through January 31, 2021.

State and Local Funding

  • Extend by one year (until Dec. 31, 2021) the availability of funds provided to states and localities by the Coronavirus Relief Fund in the CARES Act.

Individual Stimulus Payments

  • Provides for one-time direct payments of $600 for individuals making up to $75,000 and $1,200 for couples making up to $150,000, as well as an extra $600 per eligible child dependent.


Broadband Expansion

  • Provides $7 billion for broadband internet access:  $285 million for connecting minority communities.
    • $3.2 Billion for an Emergency Broadband Benefit for Low-Income Americans
    • $300 Million to Promote Broadband Expansion to Unserved Americans
    • $65 Million for the development of new, more accurate, and more granular broadband maps


Tax Provisions (related to COVID)

  • The Employee Retention Tax Credit is modified by:
    • Increasing the credit rate from 50% to 70% of qualified wages.
    • The eligibility is expanded by reducing the year-over-year gross receipts decline from 50% to 20%.
    • Increasing the limit on per-employee creditable wages from $10K per year to $10K per quarter.
    • Increasing the 100-employee delineation to 500 or fewer employees.
    • Allowing businesses with PPP loans to qualify.
    • Extending the credit through June 30, 2021.
  • Extends payroll tax credits for paid sick and family leave enacted in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act through March 31, 2021.

Tax Extender Provisions

  • The exclusion from income for mortgage debt forgiveness is extended for five years (through 2025), but the maximum amount is reduced from $2 million to $750,000.
  • The energy-efficient commercial buildings deduction is extended permanently, its efficiency standards are updated, and the deduction rates are indexed for inflation.
  • The energy investment tax credit for solar and residential energy-efficient property tax credit is extended for two years (through 2023).
  • The mortgage insurance premium deduction is extended for one year (through 2021).
  • The energy efficient homes credit is extended for one year (through 2021).
  • The nonbusiness energy tax credit (for qualified energy efficiency improvements) is extended for one year (through 2021).


Other Provisions

  • Provides for the tax deduction of 100% of business meals (up from 50%) for 2021 and 2022.
  • Corrects a technical problem in depreciating residential rental housing – under certain circumstances, some real estate businesses were forced to depreciate residential rental housing over 40 years instead of 30 if they elected out of a limitation of interest deductibility under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The recovery period is corrected to 30 years in the Act.
  • The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit is enhanced by the creation of a permanent 4% floor for the portion of the LIHTC that is typically used for rehabilitation of older rental housing and the preservation of subsidized rental developments.
  • Requires carbon monoxide detectors in all federally-assisted rental housing.
  • Provides for $49.6 billion for HUD’s budget, which is $561 million above the 2020 enacted level.  This bill includes:
    • $152 million for the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity and its grant programs, $7 million above the 2020 enacted level:
      • Funding for HUD’s fair housing grants, activities, and assistance, increased by $2.3 million to $72.5 million.
      • Funding for HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity staffing and expenses increased by $4.8 million to $79.8 million.
    • $25.8 billion for Tenant-based Rental Assistance, $1.9 billion above the 2020 enacted level; and $13.5 billion for Project-Based Rental Assistance, $895 million above the 2020 enacted level.
    • $40 million for HUD/VA Supportive Housing for Homeless Veterans (same as 2020).
    • $43 million for new incremental vouchers for homeless individuals and families.
    • $200 million for the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, $25 million above the 2020 enacted level.
    • $3.5 billion for Community Development Block Grants, $50 million above the 2020 enacted level.
    • $77.5 million for Housing Counseling, $25 million above the 2020 enacted level.
  • Reauthorizes the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), which funds various critical water infrastructure projects in communities nationwide, including water management, flood control, drinking water and resilience.  In turn, these projects make communities safer and support economic stability and growth.
  • Authorizes various renewable energy, energy efficiency and other energy projects, which will make energy more abundant, affordable, provide jobs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.


How hot can the local real estate market get?

Potential buyers in the Fredericksburg-area housing market are asking themselves, how high can it go?  The market posted another sizzling month with dramatic increases in total sold dollar volume and units sold coupled with plummeting days on market. Sold dollar volume was up 68% year-over-year, increasing from approximately $149 million in November of 2019 to nearly $250 million in November of this year.  The increase was fueled by a nearly 50% uptick in units sold with 664 transactions this November compared to 450 last year.  Median price was up over 9% settling at $340,000, up from $311,700 last November.

Is it possible for houses to spend zero days on market?  In this market, it is becoming more and more prevalent.  In the month of November, 24 homes spent zero days in active status on the market.  A whooping 435 of the 664 homes sold in November spent between 1 and 10 days on the market.  Average 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, fell over nearly 64% with houses averaging just 16 days on the market in November 2020 compared to 44 days in November 2019. 

Supply is the major issue in the market and has been for the entire year.  November closed out the month with just 572 homes on the market, compared to 1,435 in November of last year.  With 664 homes sold in the month, that demonstrates the quick churn through existing inventory.  New pendings were up again in November, with 28% more homes under contract in November of 2020 versus last year. 

“The November market was much the same as the rest of the year.  Multiple offers on homes are still happening a lot of the time,” states 2020 FAAR President Drew Fristoe.  “I have buyers who are still searching for the right home and the home where our offer will be picked.  On the listing side, my sellers are waiting until the New Year so that they can get through the holidays.”

FAAR Installs 2021 Leadership Team

The Fredericksburg Area Association of REALTORS® (FAAR) installed its 2021 Leadership Team in a virtual ceremony on Thursday, December 10, 2020.  Despite the year’s many challenges, the Association under 2020 President Drew Fristoe remained committed to serving the more than 1,700 Realtors® working throughout the region with top-notch educational offerings, wide ranging real estate services, and strong advocacy to protect the real estate industry.

Looking ahead to 2021, incoming President Carrie Danko of 1st Choice Better Homes and Land is focused on keeping those values strong and is committed to “rethink, reenergize, and rebound” together.

Incoming President Carrie Danko and her leadership team were installed by Ann Black, broker and owner of 1st Choice Better Homes and Land.

Several awards were also given out, including:

 Realtor® Emeritus
Recognizing members who have attained 40 years of continuous membership in FAAR.

Chris Kaila
Exit Elite Realty
Patsy Thompson
Rappahannock Properties, Inc.


Silver Circle Awards

Recognizing members who have attained 25 years of continuous membership in FAAR.

Tracy Bilodeau
BHHS Select Realty
Falco Bruno
United Real Estate Premier
Kathleen Elim
Samson Properties
Joyce Lamantia
A Home 4 U
 Richard Snow
Exit Realty Expertise
 Faith Strong
Valere Real Estate
Denise Vrabel
Help U Sell Grein Group
Kenneth White
Century 21 Redwood


 Affiliate of the Year
Recognizing the FAAR affiliate member that provides exceptional service to FAAR, its members, and the general public.

Tim Murphy
C&F Mortgage

Good Neighbor Award
Recognizing members who give back to the community.

Patti Murphy
Long and Foster
Denise Smith
Century 21 Redwood
 Deb Ellis
Coldwell Banker Elite


Spirit Award
Recognizing the participation of a member who supports FAAR behind the scenes.

Sherrie Shaw
Universal Title

Raising the Bar Award
Recognizes the member who has gone above and beyond to improve their knowledge of the business and professional standards.

Matthew Rathbun
Coldwell Banker Elite

Icon Awards
Recognizing members who have made a significant mark on the real estate profession.

 Alex Long
Weichert, Realtors®
 Janel O’Malley
Coldwell Banker Elite

The 2021 FAAR Leadership team is:

President                    Carrie Danko, 1st Choice Better Homes and Land, LC
President-Elect          Deb Ellis, Coldwell Banker Elite
Vice President           Carol Sondrini, Coldwell Banker Elite
Secretary                    Randy Walther, Nest Realty
Treasurer                    Clay Murray, Pathway Realty
Directors                     Lynn Lenahan, 1st Choice Better Homes and Land, LC
                                      Sandy Pearce, Pathway Realty
                                      Dawn Josemans, Coldwell Banker Elite Property Management
                                      Lauren Tate, Century 21 Redwood
                                      Kardin Lillis, Weichert, Realtors®
                                      Pia Contreras-Sanchez, Prime Realty
                                      Donna Schmidt, 2-10 Home Buyers Warranty

Immediate Past President, Drew Fristoe, Coldwell Banker Elite, will join the 2021 Leadership Team on the Board of Directors.

Say NO to Stafford County downzoning!

UPDATE as of January 2021:  Due to ongoing concerns about COVID-19, Stafford County is deferring action on downzoning until the public can safely engage at County Board of Supervisors meetings.  The issue is still on the table, but we expect consideration to be mid-February or later.  FAAR continues to monitor this situation and provide input to the Board.  It is important that our members do the same!  Consider using the sample letter linked below to send an email to the Stafford County Board of Supervisors.  

UPDATE as December 2020:  Stafford County has posted the agenda for the 12/15 Board Meeting.  The agenda has been posted here for anyone who wants to check it out.  The Board has added an exemption for Family Subdivision.

Stafford County continues to pursue efforts to downzone property in the A-1 agricultural zoning district.  This effort will now require more acreage to create a buildable lot, changing the minimum lot size from 1 house per 3 acres to 1 house per 10 acres.  This action will reduce land values in the rural areas, decimate decades of wealth creation for Stafford County families, and will rob landowners of the right to do with their land as they see fit.


The County’s own Commissioner of the Revenue estimates that a 10-acre downzoning could reduce rural land values between 50% and 60%.  (Check out his video explaining how that will happen here.)  Those that would be most impacted are smaller landowners who typically use their acreage to subdivide for family or to sell off a lot or two to fund college or retirement.  In fact, the County is only off 94 homes from their Comprehensive Plan target for rural housing development.  The vast majority of development in the County happens in suburban areas so any reduction in rural housing growth will be negligible.

The Stafford Board of Supervisors will consider downzoning again on Tuesday, December 15 at 3:00pm.  This meeting is being held in the Board of Supervisors Chambers located at 1300 Courthouse Road, Stafford, VA.  The opportunity to speak on this important topic is at the very beginning of the meeting during the open Public Comment period.  Sample talking points are provided below.  If you are unable to attend the meeting but wish to have your comments heard, please use the email addresses below to contact the Stafford County Board of Supervisors.  A sample letter is also provided.

Supervisor Meg Bohmke:
Supervisor Tom Coen:
Supervisor Cindy Shelton:
Supervisor Tinesha Allen:
Supervisor Gary Snellings:
Supervisor Crystal Vanuch:
Supervisor Mark Dudenhefer: 

Fredericksburg-area Real Estate Market Shows No Sign of Slowing Down

The local real estate market shows no signs of slowing down despite the ongoing pandemic, fears of another wave of the virus, continued economic contraction, and cooler weather approaching.  Total sold dollar volume was up a whopping 63% from last year, coming in at approximately $291.1 million this October compared to $178.1 million last October.  The region’s median price increased for the 19th straight month, soaring more than 13% year-over-year going from $310,000 in October of 2019 to $352,000 in October of this year.  Units sold increased a record breaking 42% with 760 homes sold this October compared to 535 last year.

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, fell 50% with houses averaging a mere 20 days on the market in October 2020 compared to 40 days in October 2019. 

“With the listing inventory still at an all-time low, the October market resulted in higher sales volume and increased sale prices,” comments FAAR Board of Director and affiliate member Donna Schmidt.  “Escalation clauses were insane, with buyers foregoing home inspections and all other contingencies taking us back to the 2004-05 market.  However, appraisers and Realtors® have tried to keep things in check and are doing an amazing job keeping up with the times.”

The region’s supply issues continue to frustrate buyers as the market saw another huge drop in active listings compared to last year at the same time.  The region closed out October with just 653 homes on the market, a 59% decrease from last year.  Realtors® would have said a year ago that supply was the biggest issue facing the market and that was when active listings were over 1,600.  New listings provided a glimmer of hope again this month with a more than 13% increase in homes coming on the market over the same time last year. New listings are quickly being absorbed into current demand leading to higher units sold the next month.  New pending transactions were strong again this month with a 44% increase, indicating that things are not slowing down.

Press Releases

Fredericksburg-area Real Estate Market Wraps Up a Sizzling Year

“In a year of uncertainty, one thing was certain:  the housing market was hot,” states 2021 FAAR President Carrie Danko.  “In March, as widespread local shutdowns and quarantines were implemented to curb the pandemic, it seemed that the housing industry should prepare...

How hot can the local real estate market get?

Potential buyers in the Fredericksburg-area housing market are asking themselves, how high can it go?  The market posted another sizzling month with dramatic increases in total sold dollar volume and units sold coupled with plummeting days on market. Sold dollar...

FAAR Installs 2021 Leadership Team

The Fredericksburg Area Association of REALTORS® (FAAR) installed its 2021 Leadership Team in a virtual ceremony on Thursday, December 10, 2020.  Despite the year’s many challenges, the Association under 2020 President Drew Fristoe remained committed to serving the...

FAAR debuts NEW monthly housing report

FAAR has a new monthly report provided through the Virginia Realtors® that is chock full of detailed information about the local market.  Use this data for your listing presentations, communication with your sphere and for your social media posts.

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