News

Recent news, business resources and press releases.

#MemberMonday Meet REALTOR® Janny Sims

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
Janny Sims

Hometown
Cleveland, Ohio

Current Location
Fredericksburg

Title
REALTOR® at Long and Foster

Number of Years in the Industry
3

Why do you love working in real estate?
It doesn’t feel like a job. I love it! When you get rid of any ego, it’s about the family/ people you are working with, whether buying or selling, and helping them get to their next destination. It’s a very gratifying feeling knowing that you have helped in this big decision, and they trust you to do it!

Favorite Work Story 
My first listing.
It was a unique property, which is typically a little bit harder sell. The owner knew I was brand new, and had the confidence in me to list the property. After 9 months, they decided to go with another agent to list their home. I knew that I had given 110%, but understood their frustration. After another 9 months with the new agent, the home still did not sell. I called the owner and told her it killed me that I did not sell their home, and please give me another try. They did, and the house sold! That was a great feeling!

What are you most proud of in your career?
I realize that I love a challenge, but most appreciate that my clients trust me.

Do you have a special cause or volunteer your time? 
Loisann’s Hope House, no family goes homeless! I have been involved with this organization for about 10 years and am on The Board of Director’s. It’s amazing to me how we don’t realize how homelessness is right in our backyard. I was actually selling a home two years ago, and they had a renter in an apartment on The property. One day I met the renter, who I was told lost everything, and the church was paying the rent money. I knew the man, and his two sons, they went to school with my son a few years back. I had no idea, no one did. That was a huge eye opener! There are many many people we can help.

Fun Fact
Years ago I was a hairdresser, and I assisted the artist who did all the hair on the mannequins at The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. That was amazing!

Do you have a favorite local housing charity?

Do you have a local housing charity that you work with and would like to see considered for funding from the Fredericksburg Realtors® Foundation?  Then we want to hear from you!  We work with lots of local non-profits, but we know there are even more and we love the opportunity to get to know new folks doing great things in our region.  Submit the charity’s information below and we will reach out to see if the organization would be a good fit for our funds.

Nominate your favorite housing charity!

Do you work with a local charity doing great work related to housing? Then provide us with their information and the Fredericksburg Realtors Foundation will reach out and see if there is a way for us to help them.

FAAR has a podcast!

Introducing FAAR Louder, your official Association podcast!  These bimonthly sessions will feature elected officials, hot topics, and news you can use.  We are working to launch the podcast on your favorite apps but in the meantime, take a listen here.  

FAAR Louder: How the General Assembly Impacts YOUR Business

#MemberMonday Meet REALTOR® Melissa Longton

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
Melissa Longton

Hometown
Saratoga NY

Current Location
Stafford Va

Title
Real estate agent on the Give Back Team of Coldwell Banker Elite

Number of Years in the Industry
2

Why do you love working in real estate?
I love the challenge of completing a deal to the very best of my ability. When I have exceeded my clients expectations and get a great review it makes it all worth it. I have met some amazing people.

What are you most proud of in your career?
I am most proud of the goals I have set for myself as a new agent. I love challenging myself and learning new things everyday.

Do you have a special cause or volunteer your time?
I’m on the Give Back Team of Coldwell Banker Elite in Stafford. We do lots of community support for local charities. In addition to volunteering our time we donate a portion of all commissions to a charity of our clients choice.

Fun Fact
Never ever underestimate the importance of having fun. #GBTFAVORITEAGENT

2019 Was a Great Year for Local Real Estate Market

The 2019 real estate market posted significant gains in total sold dollar volume and units sold, experienced modest price appreciation, and saw seriously increased competition with low inventory and very low days on market.  The year closed out with a total sold dollar volume of $2.324 billion which represents a nearly 21% increase over the year-end totals for 2018.  The market saw a modest 3.34% year-over-year increase in median price, going from $299,990 in 2018 to $310,000 in 2019.  Units sold increased over 16%, finishing out the year at 6,978 compared to 5,997 units sold in 2018. 

2020 FAAR President Drew Fristoe states, “2019 was a great year.  Like most years, it had its ups and downs, and saw considerable challenges with a constrained inventory, but overall sales were up and 2020 is already off to a strong start.  I personally have clients in the wings, just waiting for the right time to jump into 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, fell a whopping 42% with houses averaging 72 days on the market in 2018 compared to just 42 days in 2019.  Over 32% of homes sold in 2019 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 80% of the total units sold. 

December, a traditionally slow month in real estate, bucked traditional trends and ended the year with an impressive 68% increase in sold dollar volume and an over 56% increase in units sold.  The month saw more than $166.5 million in total sold dollar volume, compared to just over $99 million in December of 2018.  Median price was up about 2%, settling at $314,388 this December compared to $307,500 last December.   Units sold increased from 309 last year to 483 this year, with significant increases in both attached multifamily and detached single family. 

FAAR agents are anticipating another strong year in the local market with modest price appreciation.  Limited inventory will continue to plague the market, but continued low interest rates, strong consumer confidence, and a growing economy will provide a solid foundation for the real estate market in 2020.

#MemberMonday Meet REALTOR® Michael Brannon

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
Michael Brannon

Hometown
Daytona Beach, Florida

Current Location
Woodbridge

Title
REALTOR® at Coldwell Banker Elite Stafford

Number of Years in the Industry
4

Why do you love working in real estate?
I love to see that special smile on someone’s face when they get the keys to their new home or when they turn over the keys so that they can move on to the next chapter of their lives. I also enjoy the marketing aspects of real estate, creating new ways to reach out to people, as well as pushing the limit of what is expected. Additionally, the “Details” – the curb appeal, the layouts and designs, and the architecture – I love classic buildings, especially in Big Cities. I wouldn’t want to live there, but visiting is okay.

What are you most proud of in your career?
I spent a lot of my life living in rentals. I’m proud that I get to help people realize the joys of owning a home, gain a stronger connection to the community and a place that provides a stable environment for their families – sooner rather than later!

Do you have a special cause or volunteer your time?
I have the privilege of working with members of the Communication and Technology Committee as the Vice-Chairperson and I excited about the year ahead. I also serve as a member of the Northern Virginia Veterans Association of Real Estate Professionals (VAREP) where we work to increase sustainable homeownership, financial-literacy education, VA loan awareness and economic opportunity for active-duty military and Veterans. I also spend time as a Food Rescue Hero with the ACTS Prince William Food Rescue program where we help to end hunger by delivering potentially wasted food from donors to those in need.

Fun Fact
I never met an egg I didn’t like.

FAAR Back in the Day: Recollections of Past Presidents

FAAR Back in the Day: Recollections of Past Presidents

 

Thank you to Arlene Mason for her inspiration to reflect on the impressive history of the Association through the eyes of some of its distinguished leaders.

 


 
My, how time flies…

Pat Breme, RCE, CIPS

Chief Executive Officer

Organized originally in 1956, as the Fredericksburg Board of REALTORS® (FBOR) members believed in the direction of the national association to share listing information to increase exposure for sellers. Some agents preferred the concept of keeping the listing information to themselves but in the end, it made more sense to share and NAR set up the rules for cooperation and compensation.

Those early REALTORS® also embraced the 17 Articles of the Code of Ethics authored by NAR. It elevated the practices of the time and it is still the beacon of professionalism for REALTORS®.

Locally, the sharing progress went from agent’s pockets to index cards, to a routinely printed book of listings. Those who remember the “Book” were sad to see it go because the online system eliminated the possibility to pour over the listings with a cup of coffee or give it to clients to peruse (Actually, against the rules, but it happened, a lot.)

The association was run by volunteers for a time and then several hired executives. My recollections came from my predecessor, Kay Patterson and Sharon Toombs, FAAR’s longtime bookkeeper. They operated in an office on Bragg Rd. in the late 70’s.

The office eventually moved to the Kenmore Ave. address and that was where I began by career in 1987 as a public relations director. It was President Bev Mabbitt’s idea to hire a PR person to enhance the public image of REALTORS®.  I also was tagged to set up education classes, market the association’s services to members and assist with events. We all wore many hats!

Eventually, the Kenmore office was renovated to include a good-sized classroom and that gave impetus to start our own school, the Real Estate Career Academy (RECA). In those days, a courier service delivered the MLS books and stacks of association flyers to the real estate companies. Before the rise of computers, flyers were done with copied graphics and headlines created with rub off letters.

FAAR has always been involved in supporting the community. The Association won many Virginia Association of REALTORS® sponsored scrapbook contests showcasing community revitalization, community projects and American Home Week events. 

FAAR raised money for Habitat for Humanity and Kids on the Block (a puppet program that taught children about disabilities). I don’t recall a period when members were not giving time and money to local organizations and charities.

My favorite endeavor was the Rubber Duck Race where thousands of pre-numbered plastic ducks were dumped off the Falmouth Bridge to float down the Rappahannock River. The adopting parents of the rubber ducks plucked from the river won great prizes, including sometimes, a Safford Dodge car. Perhaps the most ambitious fundraiser was for Hope House where a house, donated at cost by the Silver Companies, was raffled off. The raffle was open to the public. Lots of rules and regulations but a family won the house and Hope House was $51,000 dollars richer.

The Association partnered with the Central Virginia Housing Coalition and set up a revolving security deposit program. This program and the Hope House raffle were recognized by VHDA. The Fredericksburg REALTORS® Foundation, founded in 1990 was an idea of Alex Long. Just since 2010, the Foundation has assisted organizations, agencies and programs with funds totally over $120,000.

Members were never afraid to get out of there comfort zone to raise awareness. Bev Babbitt dressed up as a colonialist at the Spotsylvania Mall when we celebrated the Bicentennial. We even hired a bus to take members of the public to visit the National Archives in DC to actually view the Constitution.

Back in the day, even before my time, FAAR members were a VERY social group and there are a lot of photos of FAAR members dancing at the Fredericksburg Country Club. Jo Knight is in most of them with her blonde hair tucked in a bun.

Production awards, the Million Dollar Club, had a long run. Marilyn Love was the agent who everyone wanted to out produce, but few did. It was a huge undertaking for the Awards Committee to review applications for accuracy. When the number of categories and the criteria became very complicated, the Committee and Association cried uncle.

The Million Dollar Club concept was replaced by a merit awards system. So now we have Spirit, Good Neighbor, REALTOR® Choice, Icon and other awards that present a better image to the public.

Giving back to the community was important but providing services to the members to be successful has always been the Association’s driving purpose. Engaging in a computerized MLS was a big step but even bigger was when FAAR gave up its privately- owned system to join MRIS. Brokers were thrilled that they could reduce the number of associations they had to join to expose listings to the widest range of agents.   

A map book was published for each county in FAAR’s jurisdiction.  For relocation efforts, folding maps and welcome guides were printed. In 1996, The Source Book was published, one per office, loaded with great reference information. FAAR partnered with The Free Lance Star’s, Star Web Homes, the first internet home listing site in the area featuring only FAAR listings. The second project of the partnership was the Real Estate Showcase magazine, a tabloid printed every week that was distributed locally and up the I-95 corridor.

We had many memorable Potomac River cruises raising RPAC contributions on Stanley Palivoda’s paddle boat. Betty Jasmund was the chief arm twister. No one ever refused her “ask”!

Adding value to membership is still FAAR’s primary goal. Today faarmembers.com connects members to local resources and to VAR and NAR. The school, now called The Academy, educates hundreds of FAAR members and is a vital non-dues revenue source.

FAAR has established relations with elected officials who contact the Association and ask members opinions on topics they are considering. FAAR is the area’s voice for real estate. FAAR collaborates with FABA, the Chamber, the Fredericksburg Alliance, the George Washington Regional Alliance, Main St. and many charitable organizations. FAAR is a player in community.

Be proud of the impressive accomplishments of the Association- small efforts, at first, that were the foundation of many years of good works in the community and dedication to bringing the best services and products to the members.

 

Are you contributing to the history being created right now?

 

FAAR’s formative years described by past presidents and leaders

On June 21, 2019 a group of FAAR senior past presidents and notable long-standing members gathered to look back at the formative years of the Association. The gathering was hosted by Arlene Mason, who was to be president in 2020. Unfortunately, due to an unpredicted long recovery from surgery, Arlene had to stepped down from the Board of Directors. To Arlene, 2020 was a good time to collect FAAR memories of past leaders in order to plan for the future.

So, the group, Nick Calamos, Jo Knight, Priscilla Sheeley, Bev Mabbitt, Betty Jasmund, Melanie Thompson, Latana Locke and long-standing members, Marilyn Love, Ann Black and former CEO Kay Patterson shared these memories

As they say, back in the day, MLS was index cards. No lockboxes, no electronic keys, agents picked up the key from the listing agent. The majority of listings were pocket listings and sharing information was minimal. The first local MLS was broker-owned. Eventually, FAAR, then the Fredericksburg Board of REALTORS®, formed its own MLS which it maintained until 1996. With the urging of the broker community, FAAR joined MRIS. Over the years, additional staff was employed for marketing, governmental affairs, education and communications. From a 2- person office to now 8, the professional staff provides specialization, resources and professional development so members can be successful in the business of real estate.

All of the attendees remembered presenting offers in person.  Buyer representation wasn’t a formal thing yet, but agents in the Fredericksburg and Stafford area knew each other and frequently worked face to face. Everyone misses the personal touch. Arlene and current President Drew Fristoe, listened to the recollections with great interest and agreed that it’s all about knowing the person on the other side of the transaction. 

After the June meet-up, other past presidents were contacted to provide their memories.

 

1976 Carole Williams

In those days, NAR only allowed brokers to have a vote.

During my early years as an officer, each officer did all the paperwork required – the President, the Vice-President and the Secretary-Treasurer.  No other help!! I created a newsletter to increase communication among the members.

When I was Vice-President, the Board voted to start their own MLS system, replacing a privately owned one that an entrepreneurial broker had started a year or two before.

Before that, you had to call another real estate company for permission to show their listing and you had to accept a smaller portion of the commission, IF they agreed to co-op!!!  They didn’t always.

We managed to scrape up enough money (no sponsors!) to have a dinner-dance (at the former Sheraton) for the first time, during my term as President and then went on to have two formal celebrations every year.

In other world events in 1976, according to Wikipedia:

Microsoft officially registered with the office of the Secretary of the State in New Mexico. Apple Computer Company formed.

United States Bicentennial celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.

First Class of Women inducted at U. S. Naval academy, Annapolis, Md.

Viking 1 landed on Mars.

Clifford Alexander, Jr., confirmed as the first African-American Secretary of the United States Army.

Jimmy Carter defeated incumbent Gerald Ford as President of the United States.

 

1977    Nick Calamos

FAAR’s MLS of the mid to late 70’s, charged $20 for each listing.  The revenue was substantial, allowing FAAR to purchase the building at the Kenmore location. I recall when MLS’s were consolidating, the days of a bi-weekly printed MLS were coming to an end.  When FAAR joined MRIS, a dependable non-dues revenue stream ended. 

 

1979    Jo Knight

I attended a meeting at George Washington hotel, and almost walked out of meeting when I discovered the purpose was to discuss a computerized MLS.

FAAR was very social back in the day, I fondly recalled lavish formals, I had a closet full of gowns. 

FAAR sponsored many epic fundraisers. One year we convinced the City of Fredericksburg to close down William Street for a Board Mardi Gras parade. The proceeds went to the Stafford County YMCA.

I embraced the rise of computers. My first computer cost $11,000 and I spent several thousand more on software.  It was all obsolete 2 years later.

In the early development of Aquia Harbor, the marsh soil attracted marijuana growers. Apparently, I appeared in many police surveillance videos showing buyers the area.

 

1983    Priscilla Sheeley           

For over 40 years, Betty Jasmund and I traveled together to state and national conferences.  I was involved in the early efforts to adopt Fair Housing standards before they became the law. At the time, this was somewhat controversial and not everyone was initially on board. FAAR members went to the newspaper to ask them to place the fair housing ad in the paper. They were told that someone would have to pay for the ad.  It was Mayor Davies who convinced the FLS to run the ads without a charge.

The formation of the Fredericksburg REALTORS® Foundation was spearheaded though the efforts of Alex Long, who identified a need for FAAR to have a charitable arm.  I remember Alex saying, “There’s money there, go get it!”  Early fundraising efforts went to “Kids on the Block” and eventually transitioned to housing related charities.

 

1987    Bev Mabbitt

I was in awe of the first fax machines. I sent a contract to a client in Singapore and I was incredulous thinking that it would be in someone’s hands across the world a few seconds after sending.

I remember MLS directions, before GPS!  The directions could be hard to follow, and sometimes when you finally arrived at the home, no key was left out.  Since there were no cell phones, and limited payphones, you had no choice other than to drive back to town and try to get the key from the listing agent.

In 1987, when I was president, Pat Breme was hired as a public relations director. I saw the success many other associations were experiencing through the efforts of a PR person who touted the services of REALTORS® and their involvement in the community.

 

1988 Caryn Self Sullivan

In 1988, the biggest event we did was, The Hope House Raffle, $10 per ticket.  The home was a donated at cost. We had to extend the raffle a month, but ended up netting about $50,000 Hope House, a local shelter for abused women. As a result of that, and other events that were huge successes thanks to the hard work of our BOD and other volunteers, we won 7 state awards, setting a record for FAAR and perhaps VAR.

Buyer Brokerage was considered RADICAL.  I remember being one of the first agents to represent buyers and shocking most of the rest of area REALTORS®. They all thought I was crazy… Many of us also joined the NVAR so that our listings would attract agents from up north. I taught the SWEATHOGs Marketing Program for new agents.

1988 saw indictments handed down related to the Iran-Contra affair, George H. W. Bush elected as President, and Sonny Bono elected as the Mayor of Palm Springs. I cannot remember the year I installed my Motorola (now vintage) Mobile Phone in my car, but it was after 1988.  It saved me hours at the office, but added hundreds of $$ to my expenses. Using computers was pretty new, all DOS based, using Word Perfect, I think! I used to print 50 photos of each new listing, then attach them to sticky post card paper that I had printed out using mail merge and my contact list. 

 

1991    Betty Jasmund

I became a REALTOR® because of a horrible transaction I had with my own home purchase.  I remember one-page contracts and when a builder contract merely stated, “Builder will build home similar to the one on X street.”

In my day, I was the RPAC fundraising member that no one resisted, “I would call agents and tell them I would be by to pick up their check.”

 

1992 Gayle Elliott

There was no succession ladder and I ran against a formidable opponent for the office, Alex Long. I made campaign flyers and visited offices to ask for votes. Pat Breme was the Public Relations Director. We spent a lot of time at community events, giving away American flags, competing in the Chili Cook Off, and racing rubber ducks down the river to help housing entities provide affordable housing. We created the REALTOR® Hall of Fame award to recognize our very special peers. It was an honor and a pleasure to serve.

 

1998    Melanie Thompson

I attended member meetings in the early to mid-80’s at the Country Club and the George Washington Hotel.  They were well attended, lively with a copious number of adult beverages. It was the place to be seen then. 

 

2002 Chris Kaila

My tenure started in the wake of 9/11. NAR’s annual convention was scheduled in Chicago in October 2001. It was almost cancelled, but Pat and I and a few others went after they decided to carry on. I adopted “God Bless America” as a theme and had it sung at major events during the year, focusing on the theme, “Home, Sweet Home”. Local governments were trying to slow growth with proffers on new subdivisions, and I represented FAAR at several public meetings and spoke against the “no growth” policies.

In technology, e-keys (Supra) were introduced in Spring 2002, and we used a PalmVx to interface. At the end of my term, I became the Chairman of the Building Committee and started a 3-year search for a new location to accommodate FAAR’s growth. The search ended up at our current location with the purchase of our 1.32-acre site in Celebrate Virginia.

 

2003 Gail Penman

My year as President started with my installation being the first one to be taken ‘off site’ and held at the Kenmore Inn.  We had outgrown our current building on Kenmore Avenue – and had plans for bigger and better things to come. My emphasis that year was for a more involved role in assisting the homeless population in the area.  

 

2009 Sherry Bailey

The real estate market was in the midst of a down turn which resulted in numerous short sales and foreclosures. Very little guidance was available on how to deal with the ethical dilemmas brought on by these transactions. Under my direction, FAAR invited 4 surrounding associations to begin a dialogue on the affect current market conditions had on the business practices and professionalism of our members. The dialogue crystallized the problem and generated many useful tools to assist our members – a resource web site, VAR’s Short Sale Road Show, Short Sale Tips, SFR Certification courses, The Citation System and an open dialogue with MRIS for better reporting practices.

Map books were still in use but losing popularity due to GPS. Barack Obama was sworn in as our 44th President.

 

2010    Latana Locke

I worked for my broker mother. She told me to become involved at FAAR.  I recall at my first installation event, Kevin Breen was given tennis shoes to keep up with Pat, or perhaps it was the other way around but as I watched the interactions of engaged agents, I knew I wanted to be a part of it.

 

2012 Chip Taylor

As far as memorable events/issues go – Honoring and celebrating Pat Breme for 25 years of dedication to FAAR was made more memorable by Doris Buffet’s refusal to leave the stage making that event go ridiculously long, lol!  Who could forget the RPAC Murder Mystery Dinner? I’ve never laughed so much in my life and that’s the night I met…Kevin McGrath for the first time!

My favorite personal, presidential memory was good membership outreach. I’m still very proud of mailing out over 500 handwritten notes to members and made well over 20 office visits. My hands have never been the same! We were still on the Supra lockbox system in 2012.  

Obama was elected to his second term. The economy was actually finding its legs again with the unemployment rate locally, finally dipping below 8%. November 2012 had seen the best home sales in the last five years as consumer confidence continued to improve. The Great Recession was getting further and further behind in our rearview mirrors! Loved every minute of being a FAAR President.

 

2017 Linda Fosdick

In 2017, after multiple years of stringent budgeting during a prolonged economic slump, FAAR was finally experiencing optimism that we had survived the worst of it. Now the focus was on positioning ourselves to weather any future economic challenges.

Our MRIS MLS had just officially merged with TREND MLS to become an expanded and full featured BRIGHT MLS. As shareholders, this was an important decision and vote for our future, with an impact on our finances. Rather than our scheduled share revenue, we now received a lump sum payout with a cessation of anticipated future dividends. We used some of the dividend funds to pay a portion of our members lockbox fees for the next three years. Funds were also invested to plan for the looming balloon payment on our building mortgage. To offset the tax effects of the lump sum revenue, capital improvements were made to expand our classroom as a greater revenue source for FAAR, as well as a build-out of needed meeting space on our first level.

All decisions were made with the intent to ensure FAAR’s future financial health. With that in mind, FAAR was able to purchase the lot adjoining our office. The vision is to use that property for future revenue generation. I felt a surge of pride and excitement when I signed the purchase documents.

I dreamed that one day our members would reap the financial benefits of our investment foresight, just as we now benefit from the decisions of the many talented leaders who have preceded us and made FAAR a successful and widely admired Association.

 

Marilyn Love

As a new agent, I remember breaking down in tears when I presented a low offer to a seller who fumed and yelled at me but he eventually accepted the offer.

 

Ann Black

In the late 70’s, I recall several agents were excited about attending some of the first computer classes at Mary Washington College.  They invited me to join them, I declined, telling them, what a waste of time- the computer fad won’t last.

My scariest real estate mishap was when I took a shortcut though a very remote area and ran out of gas. This was before cell phones so I had to spent the night in the car and waited for help to come the next day.

 

1979-1996      Kay Patterson, former CEO

There were NO written records. We didn’t know who was a member. I had to contact NAR to get our membership roster.  Sharon Toombs was the only other employee. I liked having a new President every year… new energy and ideas. I remember one prediction that proved very wrong, a lender announced at a breakfast meeting that there will never be a 30-year mortgage and interest rates will never be under 15%.

 

How about a trip to Richmond??

The 2020 Virginia General Assembly session is just around the corner!  Join FAAR for a day at the State Capitol meeting with legislators, talking about the Realtor legislative agenda, and advocating for the real estate industry.  FAAR will provide transportation from the FAAR building down and back from Richmond.  We will also have lunch with the Virginia Realtors Government Affairs staff and learn about the bills we are promoting this year in greater detail.  Register today to reserve your spot, space is limited!

Timeline of the day:
Thursday, January 30, 2020
Depart FAAR at 8am sharp
9:30am-12:30pm Meetings with legislators
1:00pm Lunch at the VAR Richmond Office
2:00pm Return to FAAR

FAAR Requests Increase in FHA Loan Limit for King George County

The Fredericksburg Area Association of REALTORS® (FAAR) submitted a request to the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) to increase the FHA loan limit for King George County to bring parity across the regional housing market.  The letter was supported by both King George County government and Congressman Rob Wittman.

The 2020 FHA loan limit for King George County is $350,750 for single family homes and the County is categorized as a non-metro MSA.  Three of the County’s neighboring jurisdictions, the counties of Stafford and Spotsylvania, and the City of Fredericksburg, are located in the DC Metro MSA and have a loan limit of $765,600 for single family homes.  That disparity creates a hardship for those looking to buy a home in the County and disadvantages King George as potential buyers cannot take advantage of generous FHA loans as they would be able to do in the other jurisdictions. 

While King George may be rural in geography, its economy is not.  Fueled by the military installation Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren, the King George real estate market looks more like northern Virginia than a small, rural county.  FAAR requested the FHA increase the loan limit for King George County to $765,600 to bring parity across the central Virginia housing market. 

Remember mortgage debt forgiveness?? It’s back!

Remember mortgage debt cancellation?  And how it was not extended for 2018?  Well, it was just included in the big spending package for fiscal year 2020 with a retroactive reauthorization for 2018.  If you had clients with a short sale or foreclosure, those folks can go back and filed an amended return that excludes the phantom income they were taxed on as part of the debt forgiveness.  Paperwork can be a pain, but it will be worth the savings in the end! 

Read below for more updates from NAR on top priorities they fought for in the spending bill including an extension of Terrorism Risk Insurance and the National Flood Insurance Program. 

From NAR Government Affairs….  

Terrorism Risk Insurance Program
NAR’s advocacy team has spent months calling on Congress to reauthorize TRIP before its scheduled expiration in 2020, publicly supporting Chairwoman Maxine Waters’ Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2019.

Terrorism risk insurance is often required to secure necessary financing for the thousands of commercial practitioners nationwide. Absent TRIP, the country would likely see a repeat of what happened in 2001, when many insurers raised terrorism risk insurance to unsustainable prices or stopped offering coverage entirely. NAR believes this long-term agreement will provide stability to the commercial real estate industry while playing a critical role in U.S. national security. 

National Flood Insurance Program
On flood, NAR is pleased to see a 9-month program extension worked through Congress with little fanfare. While the agreement will ensure NFIP policies can be issued and renewed through the end of the fiscal year, we will continue to push lawmakers to use the afforded time to find compromise on a longer term reauthorization and reform package.

As we know all too well, this program has operated on a string of short-term extensions and endured multiple lapses over the past two years. From Montana to Mississippi and everywhere in between, that unpredictability has put home sales in jeopardy and left insurance policies in limbo. While NAR research has shown that NFIP lapses threatens 1,300 transactions each day, the resulting uncertainty threatens our nation’s overall housing market and economic stability. 

NAR has strongly supported the NFIP Reauthorization Act, also authored by Chairwoman Waters, which includes a 5-year program reauthorization along with reforms to improve mapping, enhance mitigation, and remove obstacles to private flood insurance. H.R. 3167 is the product of extensive bipartisan negotiations between Waters and House Financial Services Committee Ranking Member Patrick McHenry, striking a delicate balance between NFIP sustainability and affordability. This legislation unanimously passed the Committee in July and we will maintain our call for lawmakers to work through the legislation this congress.

As we are reminded in this country every year, floods are not just a coastal issue. In fact, since 1996, 98% of U.S. counties has had at least one federal disaster declaration. Very simply, without reforms, the NFIP’s ability to continue providing critical protections to people across America is very much in doubt.

Tax Extenders
Finally, included in the package are temporary extensions of three tax provisions directly impacting our industry:  1) the exclusion of forgiven mortgage debt from gross income, meaning that owners of primary residences who sold them short and had part of their mortgage debt written off will not have to pay tax on the amount forgiven; 2) the deductibility of premiums for mortgage insurance; and 3) the deduction of the cost of improvements to commercial buildings that make them energy efficient. These provisions had all expired at the end of 2017. The bill would extend them, retroactive to the beginning of 2018, and through the end of 2020. 

Press Releases

Cooler Weather Can’t Chill the November Real Estate Market

The real estate market posted a strong November with gains in total volume, median price, and units sold and a decrease in days on market.  Total sold dollar volume increased nearly 24%, going from approximately $120.3 million in November of 2018 to nearly...

Local Real Estate Market Remains Strong in October

The October real estate market posted a large increase in sold volume fueled by double digit rise in number of units sold.  Total sold dollar volume increased from $138 million in October of 2018 to $178.1 million in October of 2019, representing a 29%...

Median house price up $20K across Fred region

The local economy remained healthy throughout the 3rd quarter of 2019.  Unemployment remains very low along with interest rates with no indication of either situation changing in the near future.  Sales continued to grow throughout the FAAR footprint, with...

FAAR Cereal Drive Success

Each year, the Fredericksburg Area Association of Realtors® (FAAR) collects cereal to donate to area food banks. This year, FAAR members collected over 17,000 boxes of cereal. FAAR would like to recognize the members and volunteers who worked so hard to...

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