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Recent news, business resources and press releases.

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Stafford County to consider downzoning on October 29

The Stafford County Board of Supervisors will host a joint public hearing with the Stafford County Planning Commission on Thursday, October 29 at 6:30pm on downzoning.  This meeting will be held at Colonial Forge High School, located at 550 Courthouse Road, to allow for physical distancing.  The only item on the agenda for the meeting will be Stafford County’s proposal to downzone land in the A-1 category from a minimum lot size of 1 home per 3 acres to 1 home per 10 acres.  The Board can adjust that acreage down at that meeting, but cannot increase it and cannot consider any other alternatives to the downzoning.  Check out Stafford’s website dedicated to downzoning for more details on the meeting.

The FAAR Board of Directors approved sending a letter to the Board of Supervisors and the Planning Commission in opposition to the proposed downzoning.  The Association is concerned about the financial impacts to longtime landowners that have used the increasing value of their land as wealth creation over many years.  For many, the security of their retirement is directly tied to the value of their land.  In addition, many landowners are looking to family subdivision as the only affordable way to help their children stay in Stafford County and achieve the dream of homeownership in the place that they were raised.

FAAR requested 3 specific items be considered when looking at downzoning:

  • Change the proposed minimum lot size from 10 acres to 6 acres
  • Exclude A-1 properties that are located in the Urban Services Area from the downzoning as County planners have already identified those regions as capable of handling future growth
  • Consider special considerations for family subdivisions such as reducing the required minimum lot size so that it remains viable for properties with lesser acreage

If you or your clients are concerned about what a downzoning could mean for property owners’ ability to do as they see fit with their land, consider attending the public hearing and letting your voice be heard.  FAAR has created a special webpage related to downzoning that includes a sample letter of concern that can be emailed directly to each Supervisor.  If you are unable or unwilling to attend the meeting in person, emailing your thoughts and concerns to the Stafford Board Members is a great way to convey your message.  Once an action like downzoning is taken, it is very unlikely that it would be reversed, impacting both current and future landowners in the County.

Congratulations FAAR members appointed to 2021 NAR committees

Congratulations FAAR members appointed to 2021 NAR committees

 

Congratulations to these FAAR members

Please join us in congratulating the esteemed FAAR members who have been appointed to NAR committees for 2021. As of publication, 76 Virginia REALTORS® have been selected to serve on NAR committees, and several individuals received multiple appointments.

Congratulations to the following FAAR REALTORS® on being selected for NAR committee positions

Committee Appointments

Suzanne Brady – Consumer Communications Committee
Barbara Castillo – Professional Development Committee
Drew Fristoe – Sustainability Advisory Group
Kim McClellan – Land Use Property Rights and Environment Committee
Christine Singhass – Public Policy Coordinating Committee
Michael Straley – Real Property Valuation Committee

 

More of the Same in the Fredericksburg-area Real Estate Market

The local real estate market continues to experience high transaction volume, low inventory, and rising prices.  As summer faded into early fall, inventory shrunk to just under one month of supply.  A healthy, balanced market is generally considered to have a 6-month supply of homes.  Total sold dollar volume was up nearly 49% from last year, coming in at approximately $275.9 million this September compared to $185.4 million last September.  The region’s median price increased for the 18th straight month, soaring nearly 10% year-over-year going from $305,000 in September of 2019 to $335,000 in September of this year.  Units sold also increased significantly, rising nearly 35% with 755 homes sold this September compared to 560 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 over 55% with houses averaging just 22 days on the market in September 2020 compared to 49 days in September 2019. 

“The market is challenging right now in that it’s such a seller’s market and we desperately need more listings to help with the inventory shortage,” states FAAR Board Member Carol Sondrini.  “Interest rates remain historically low which is encouraging for buyers as they have more purchasing power, but since the market is moving so rapidly, it often takes buyers a few offers on different properties to get a ratified contract.”

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 September with just 609 homes on the market, a whopping 63% decrease from last September.  New listings provided a glimmer of hope with an 8% increase in new listings over the same time last year.  In September of 2019, 755 homes came onto the market, while 817 new listings came on this September.  New pending transactions were strong again this month with a more than 34% increase, indicating that things are not slowing down.

How about a BONUS for your landlords???

Do you represent landlords throughout the region?  Do you have some available properties?  Then you’ll want to check out this program from our local non-profit partners that will house homeless families AND get your landlords a signing bonus!  Read on for more details…

From Micah Ministries, administrator of the Stable Homes Partnership which serves Empowerhouse, Loisann’s Hope House, Micah and the Thurman Brisben Center

Recent CARES Act funding has presented an immediate opportunity for the Fredericksburg region to permanently re-house those experiencing homelessness. With your help, the majority of those currently staying in the community’s emergency shelters could be housed by Christmas. Our goal is to get 95 households housed in the next 90 days.

LANDLORDS: DOUBLE your rent for the first month!
Landlords have an extraordinary opportunity to join homeless services in ending homelessness in the Fredericksburg region! Sign a lease with a household experiencing homelessness between October 1 and Christmas Eve (December 24) and receive a signing bonus in addition to the regular security deposit and the first month’s rent. Your signing bonus will equal one month of rent. It is free and is our way of saying thank you for doing your part to end homelessness in the Fredericksburg region.

Make a house a HOME this Christmas!
Micah congregations have developed a system to collect donated furniture and household items. They will then distribute them to those who need it. Drop off gently used sofas, beds, tables, chairs, dressers and other household essentials at 1212 Lafayette Blvd., Tuesday through Thursday from 9am to 1pm or complete our online donation form to arrange a pick-up.

Want to get involved in the program?  Call 540-760-3310 to connect with the Community Housing Locator.  

Rental Assistance and the Eviction Moratorium

Eviction Moratorium

What is the current status of evictions in Virginia?  Can landlords evict individuals for non-payment of rent or other lease violations? 

The answer is yes, but with qualifications.  While the statewide eviction moratorium has ended, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has instituted a nationwide eviction moratorium for folks unable to pay rent due to financial impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.  Any renter who certifies that they meet certain criteria cannot be evicted for failure to pay rent.  However, tenants can be evicted for other lease violations and Virginia courts are accepting unlawful detainers.  

NAR has issued a brief on the federal eviction moratorium that details the criteria for protection.  Check out the document below for full information. 

Rent and Mortgage Assistance 

Is there funding available to help tenants with rent and homeowners with mortgage payments?

Yes, the state has allotted federal CARES Act money to provide assistance to those who cannot make their rent or mortgage payments due to financial losses from the coronavirus pandemic.  The Rappahannock Area United Way is the administrator of those funds in our area and is currently accepting applications for assistance.  Please click the button below to be directed to the United Way’s website for information on the program, how it works and who is eligible.  

Judge denies motion to dismiss MLS lawsuit

From NAR Legal Counsel, Katie Johnson, regarding the current status of lawsuits pertaining to MLS operation…

As we continue to provide updates on the Moehrl v. NAR lawsuit, I wanted to let you know the judge denied our motion to dismiss and the case will proceed to the next phase of the litigation, discovery.

We are very disappointed in the ruling. However, this is only the first round. As the case moves forward, we intend to demonstrate how the MLS system creates competitive, efficient markets that benefit home buyers and sellers as well as small business brokerages. The MLS fosters cooperation between brokers providing the best and greatest number of options for buyers and sellers. The broker commission structure also ensures greater access for first-time, low-income and many other home buyers who otherwise couldn’t afford a home purchase. We are confident that when the case is ultimately decided, we will prevail.

There have been no changes to the copycat Sitzer v. NAR lawsuit, which is also in discovery. We will continue to keep you informed as the litigation progresses.

Talking Points for Members

  • The MLS system and the way commissions are paid create competitive, efficient markets that benefit home buyers, sellers and small business. The MLS system creates a highly efficient residential real estate market that fosters cooperation between brokers to the benefit of consumers. Commission structures (including how the listing broker pays the buyer broker) ensure greater access for a large community of home buyers who might otherwise be priced out of the market, which also would limit options for sellers.

 

  • REALTORS® are champions of homeownership, property rights and the communities they serve. Every REALTOR® adheres to a strict code of ethics based on professionalism, consumer protection and the golden rule. REALTORS® draw on their unmatched knowledge to help buyers and sellers navigate one of the most complicated financial transactions of their lives. And REALTORS® are engaged neighbors committed to building and enhancing the communities they serve.

 

  • Local, expert brokers play a crucial role in helping buyers and sellers achieve their goals. Given the volume of information buyers have to navigate and the complexity of this transaction, buyer brokers serve many essential, highly informed roles ranging from scheduling home tours and inspections to coordinating with lenders and appraisers to coordinating attorney reviews and closing documents. Consumers agree: 78 percent of homebuyers say their broker was an important information source, and almost 90 percent would recommend their broker to a family member or friend.

 

  • These lawsuits are wrong on the facts, wrong on the economics, and wrong on the law. Commissions are negotiable and, in fact, can be negotiated at any point during the transaction. The MLS and associated brokerage system create highly competitive markets with increased transaction volume and superior customer service. Consumers have many choices of different service and fee models among many brokers. Over 100 years, the courts have repeatedly validated this pro-competitive, pro-consumer MLS system, recognizing it increases the efficiency of the market and thus serves the best interests of sellers and buyers alike.
Virginia REALTORS® Announces 2020 Good Neighbor Award Recipients

Virginia REALTORS® Announces 2020 Good Neighbor Award Recipients

RICHMOND, Va. (October 1, 2020) – Virginia REALTORS® celebrates its 2020 awardees. The association conducted its annual awards ceremony through its first-ever virtual awards show on September 30, 2020. The ceremony recognized excellence in various areas of real estate, along with notable community contributions. These awardees were selected by a committee of peers as standouts among an association of 35,000 members.

 

The Virginia REALTORS® Good Neighbor Award recognizes REALTOR® members who make a positive impact on their community and gifts the organization through which they volunteer time and talents. This annual award seeks to highlight, inspire, and perpetuate the individual contributions within the real estate industry toward improving the lives of citizens in Virginia.

 

Each winner will receive a $500 award, which will go to the to the 501(c)(3) non-profit/charity with which the Virginia REALTOR® Good Neighbor is involved.

 

The Virginia REALTORS® 2020 Good Neighbor Awardees are:

 

  • Sarah Moorman of the Northern Virginia Association of REALTORS®, volunteering on behalf of Generosity Feeds
  • Jim Napier of the Richmond Association of REALTORS®, volunteering on behalf of the Massey Cancer Center at Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Chip Taylor of the Fredericksburg Area Association of REALTORS®, volunteering on behalf of Fredericksburg Virginia Main Street
  • Patricia “Trish” Snyder of the Massanutten Association of REALTORS®, volunteering on behalf of the Virginia Cooperative Extension, and
  • Linda Wolf of the Northern Virginia Association of REALTORS®, volunteering on behalf of Mission M-4, in partnership with the Walter Reed Society.

 

To see the entire list of this year’s winners, click here.

For headshots of award winners, please contact Robin Spensieri at rspensieri@virginiarealtors.org.

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About Virginia REALTORS®

Virginia REALTORS® (previously known as the Virginia Association of REALTORS®) is one of the largest professional trade associations in Virginia, representing 35,000 REALTORS® engaged in the residential and commercial real estate business. Virginia REALTORS® serves as an advocate for homeownership and homeowners and represents the interests of property owners in the Commonwealth of Virginia. For more information, visit www.virginiarealtors.org or follow Virginia REALTORS® on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Virginia REALTORS® is celebrating its 100-year anniversary in 2020.

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. Top of Form

Contact: Robin Spensieri, Vice President of Communications & Media Relations
Email: rspensieri@virginiarealtors.org
Telephone: 404.433.6015

 

Topside Federal Credit Union supports community in the fight against fraud

Topside Federal Credit Union supports community in the fight against fraud

Local Credit Union hosts 4th Annual Shred Event

DAHLGREN, VA (September 28, 2020) – Topside Federal Credit Union, the area’s largest locally-owned credit union, is committed to helping the community properly dispose of sensitive data. Topside FCU’s latest free Shred Day Event was held on September 26 at their Massaponax branch in Fredericksburg VA. The event resulted in a total of over 16,000 pounds of paper collected and shredded, and almost $2,000 raised for Germanna Community College’s Gladys P. Todd Academy.

“Topside is happy to provide this valuable service to the communities we serve,” said Bruce Six, Topside FCU’s CEO. “We encourage everyone to take advantage of these free events to help protect their privacy and security. We are dedicated to helping our members and the community stay safe by providing these free opportunities to dispose of personal documents securely.”

Topside Federal Credit Union began hosting its free Shred Day Events in 2017 in response to their members’ needs for secure and safe document disposal. The events have grown in popularity and demand over the years and the Credit Union plans to continue shredding sensitive information for their community members for years to come and collecting donations for various area non-profits in the process.

ABOUT TOPSIDE FEDERAL CREDIT UNION

As a member-owned financial cooperative originally founded in 1961 by the employees of the Naval Weapons Laboratory in Dahlgren VA,  Topside has more than $425 million in total member assets serving 40,000 members.  Visit topsidefcu.org, or call 540-663-2181 for more information.

Upcoming Safety Webinars

Upcoming Safety Webinars

 

From Bright MLS

Bright Subscribers! Join us, Friday, September 18, for a free Safety from the Start Webinar with REALTOR® and safety advocate Carl Carter, Jr. of the Beverly Carter Foundation. Carl will share his story and important tips on how to have tough conversations with potential clients from that first phone call or lead.

Register at http://ow.ly/XfL650BqfuM

 

From the National Association of REALTORS®

REALTORS® face job-related risks every day. Being aware of potential dangers and taking precautions will help you avoid risky situations that can happen to any agent—including you! Tune in for a free safety webinar from NAR & REALTOR Jen Stanbrough on September 23rd at 2pm EST

Register at  https://www.nar.realtor/safety/safety-webinars

 

No Slow Down in the Fredericksburg-area Real Estate Market

The local real estate market shows no sign of cooling as summer draws to a close.  Total sold dollar volume was up over 30% from last year, coming in at approximately $281.3 million this August compared to $215 million last August.  The region’s median price increased for the 17th straight month, soaring nearly 11% year-over-year going from $315,900 in August of 2019 to $350,000 in August of this year.  Units sold also increased significantly, rising over 17% with 755 homes sold this August compared to 644 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 over nearly 43% with houses averaging just 23 days on the market in August 2020 compared to 40 days in August 2019. 

The region’s housing engine is being fueled by nearly every jurisdiction within the FAAR footprint.  Caroline County saw a huge increase in total volume sold, exploding by over 37% and posting a $13.3 million month in August, compared to approximately $9.8 million last year.  The City of Fredericksburg saw a nearly 57% increase in units sold and a startling 72% drop in days on market, coming in second in the region for August at a mere 19 days.  King George saw a more than 25% increase in their median sold price, inching ever closer to the $400,000 milestone by settling at $390,000 this August.  Spotsylvania County wasn’t far behind the City in days on market, coming in at just 21 days with a massive 46% increase in total sold dollar volume.  Stafford posted the most impressive numbers in the region, surpassing $400,000 in median price for the first time ever by settling at $403,115, a nearly 12% increase over last year.  The County also led the region in lowest days on market with a 55% decrease and a measly 17 days on market.  Of the 287 sales in the County in August, 193 homes spent zero to 10 days on the market. 

Sellers are in strong command in this market with very low inventory making for challenging times.  Many Realtors® are seeing multiple offers and buyers waiving contingencies like home inspections and appraisals.  “We are also seeing more requests for safety measures to help protect sellers’ homes and their families,” states FAAR Board of Director Deb Ellis.  “It’s not uncommon to see seller stipulations like universal masking for showings, requests to not touch anything in the home, only allowing people into the home who are a party to the contract, and limiting the number of showings per day.  These restrictions are ushering in many sight-unseen contracts as well,” continues Ellis. 

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 August with just 651 homes on the market, a whopping 63% decrease from last August.  New listings provided a glimmer of hope that sellers are feeling a little more comfortable listing their homes with August seeing the second straight month of only single digit losses in new listings compared to the previous year.  The market had been experiencing double digit decreases in new listings each month since the start of the pandemic.  New pendings were up 30% indicating that this trend of a very active market is set to continue through the end of the summer.

Press Releases

More of the Same in the Fredericksburg-area Real Estate Market

The local real estate market continues to experience high transaction volume, low inventory, and rising prices.  As summer faded into early fall, inventory shrunk to just under one month of supply.  A healthy, balanced market is generally considered to have a 6-month...

No Slow Down in the Fredericksburg-area Real Estate Market

The local real estate market shows no sign of cooling as summer draws to a close.  Total sold dollar volume was up over 30% from last year, coming in at approximately $281.3 million this August compared to $215 million last August.  The region’s median price increased...

Fredericksburg Area Real Estate Market Continues to Sizzle

The local real estate market continues to sizzle fueled by plummeting inventory and skyrocketing demand as many prospective buyers look for more space, more yard, and more in-home amenities like pools and playscapes.  Total sold dollar volume was up over 30% from last...

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