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Decision time in Stafford County

Tomorrow is decision day in Stafford County.  Will the Board of Supervisors adopt a unilateral downzoning changing the minimum lot size from 3-acres to 10-acres?  FAAR has been strongly opposed to this action for more than a year because it could devalue rural land, potentially by up to 50% according to the County itself, and will rob generations of wealth creation from rural property owners.  A recent article in the Free Lance Star included some comments about the action that are inaccurate and unfair to Realtors and the work that they do.  FAAR sets the record straight below:

  • Supervisor Mark Dudenhefer claims that builders are flocking to Stafford County and creating an explosion of growth due to more permissive zoning rules than surrounding counties.  The truth is that there were LESS occupancy permits issued in 2020 than in 2019.  Stafford County issued 946 occupancy permits in 2019 compared to 875 in 2020, representing a 7.5% DECLINE.
  • Supervisor Dudenhefer says that downzoning is the only option the state provides to manage growth, but he fails to mention that his County’s own Healthy Growth report looked at downzoning coupled with Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) to help make landowners’ whole after their land was devalued.  TDR is permissible under state law but is not part of this action at all, providing no financial remedy for those whose property value could be taken by the local government.  In addition, the Planning Commission is opposed to a unilateral downzoning and presented three other options to the Board for consideration.  In order for the Board to consider those other options, they must vote no on downzoning.
  • He also states that anyone who dare speak out in opposition or voice concerns about this action is only acting out of financially motivated self-interest.  The Code of Ethics by which Realtors® are bound holds their duty to their client and all parties to the contract as their primary responsibility.  Furthermore, a property owner is certainly expected to have a financial interest in their own land, especially when the value of that land is often inextricably tied to the financial health of that individual.
  • Finally, Supervisor Dudenhefer tries to pit north Stafford residents against south Stafford residents by claiming that properties in the A-1 hardly pay any taxes because they are in the land use program.  The Board’s own agenda for their March 2 meeting states that of the 2,321 taxable parcels impacted by downzoning, just 854 are in the land use program, meaning that more than 60% of property owners in the A-1 zoning category pay their full taxes.  For those who have their property in the Land Use program, it is not a free pass.  Those properties have their taxes deferred for their time in the program and when a property exits the program, the owner must pay 5 years of deferred taxes and a percentage charge on top of that. While the property is in land use, the owner pays full taxes on a 1-acre homesite and the value of the structure.   In addition, the more rural parts of the County have long subsidized growth in other parts of the County, namely the Rt. 610 corridor where Mr. Dudenhefer represents.

FAAR Board Member Clay Murray said in a letter to the editor published on Sunday that as a Realtor® and a citizen of Stafford County, he wants “smart growth, housing affordability, and the protection of private property rights.”  Murray doesn’t think those ideals have to be mutually exclusive.  There are other options out there that can address growth challenges without decimating the financial health of  rural property owners and their families.

 

Concerned about this downzoning action and want to get involved?  Click here to access sample talking points and a sample email to send to the Stafford Board of Supervisors.  

Virginia Realtors Legal Hotline—Stellar service for all members to utilize

Virginia Realtors Legal Hotline—Stellar service for all members to utilize

Legal advice is a precious commodity that occasionally everyone needs to access. The Virginia REALTORS® offers the Legal Hotline. A member is required to complete an application before a question can be submitted to the VAR attorneys and must communicate the issue to his/her broker. The broker will receive a copy of the question. Sometimes the Broker’s policy may be more restrictive than the general response of the VAR attorney. Visit virginiarealtors.org/legal-hotline to access the User Agreement & the Terms of Use.

Read other articles like this in the latest FAARside newsletter.

March is for Members March Madness Bracket Contest

March is for Members March Madness Bracket Contest

Get off the sideline and into this fun FAAR competition! Guess who you think will make it to the top of the March Madness pyramid and will be crowned 2021 National Champions!

 

Here’s how it works

Fill out the bracket here with the teams announced on Selection Sunday and who you think will triumph in each faceoff. Turn in your completed bracket to lzuza@faarmembers.com before tip-off of the first game on Thursday, March 18th.

 

Point System

Answer the winner correctly in each round of faceoffs and get the points shown for each correct guess!

First round — 1 pts

Second round — 2 pts

Sweet 16 — 4 pts

Elite Eight — 6 pts

Final Four — 8 pts

NCAA championship game — 10 pts

 

2021 NCAA Schedule

Selection Sunday — March 14

First Four — Thursday, March 18

First round — Friday, March 19, and Saturday, March 20

Second round — Sunday, March 21, and Monday, March 22

Sweet 16 — Saturday, March 27, and Sunday, March 28

Elite Eight — Monday, March 29, and Tuesday, March 30

Final Four — Saturday, April 3

NCAA championship game — Monday, April 5

 

Prize

The individual scoring the most points will win a $50 gift card and of course the right to brag!

How To Get More Leads To Your Website

Today we talk about how to get your website in front of clients and how to utilize SEO. If you like this episode and are interested in the FAAR YouTube video on writing bios you can check it out here! youtu.be/K-u_oU_zKZg

Transcript

 

Welcome

 

welcome to far louder your official

association podcast

 

 

Hey FAAR members it’s MacKenzie and

today I want to talk to you about how

you can optimize your website so that

you start getting more leads from it.

 

Website Tools

 

One of the great tools we’ve seen come

out in the past few years are

things like Placester, Realtor.com has

created a place for you to build your

profile, you can use Squarespace but a lot of

people have gone with

the more customizable options of

using things like WordPress to create

their websites because that gives them

more control over the content and where

they’re going to show up.

 

Some of the major contributing

factors of that (where content shows up)

are the content that goes on the website

so I really want to talk to you about

how to get the right content on your

website to get more leads.

 

SEO

 

To understand that, we need to talk

about search engine optimization

more casually known as SEO. SEO is what

happens when you go and you type your

article and they suggest that articles on your

website be between 300 and 500 words

long which is about the

size of an essay that you would have

written in high school. The purpose

for this is because it’s not too long

but it’s not too short

to keep your readers attention. On top of

this, they also suggest

that you use key phrases a certain

amount of times in your

articles depending on the length of your

sentences and the

number of paragraphs.

 

It sounds really

complicated and really overwhelming right?

Resources

 

Well, there are a lot of great resources

to find out if the articles on your

website are actually going to be

optimized for the internet so that they

come up higher in search results.

 

The number one thing that you’re going

to want to look at is Yoast

which is an SEO optimizer that can be

plugged into WordPress.

If you have a WordPress website, this is

my number one suggestion.

it is free to use up to a point. There are some

higher end features that aren’t as

commonly used

if you really want to look into those.

 

But this is my number one suggestion. If

you want to get your website higher up

you’re going to want to start optimizing

your website

 

Other SEO Tips

 

If you’re not using a

website like WordPress where you can use

this plugin,

check out some of these tips:

 

Have a blog

and again that  300 to  word count

 

It is very important try to use a key

phrase two or three times throughout your

article. something like

“best homes in the area” and then name your

area.

 

The more you put these things into your

Article, if somebody is searching for

those specific things, they will come up

higher in search results.

What Else You Want To Talk About

You’re also going to want to link to

other websites’ content. Maybe if you’re

talking about

Lake Anna you want to link to the Lake

Anna website because it gives

your website credibility in a search

engine’s processing.

 

So those are a couple of tips

on how to create

content

 

You’re also going to want to add

an image and here’s why it’s twofold

 

the image comes in and creates something

more eye-catching for people to relate

to as they’re going through your website

 

but also if you have something where you

can

share your content it’ll usually pull

that graphic at the top of the page

that’s associated with the article

so instead of having to create separate

social media content

you’re pushing everybody back to your

website whenever you share

information this is great because it

keeps everything

centralized when you’re looking at

 

content to share talk about your local

area there are a lot of different services

that each area has something about

schools, something about trails, just really dig

into those things that if you were

moving someplace what would you want to

know. And then you also want to talk

about local businesses because people

want to see

local business supporting local business

and that’s where those photos come in

 

Again, if you put a photo in your article

About you going to this great downtown shop

and you share that article

to your Facebook page and you’ve got

that photo being shared again and again

and again

it’s just getting that mileage out there

you’re also going to want to talk

about your day-to-day life not everybody

needs to know the

nitty-gritty details of what you had for

breakfast but if you really like to run

in a certain trail share that trail with

people

if you really like to go and make this

recipe but you need to have

this ingredient from that particular

store share that share your life to the

point where you’re sharing your

lifestyle

because you know that other people are

going to want to enjoy that same

lifestyle that you have the privilege of enjoying

because when at the end of the day we

all know that real estate comes down

to selling a lifestyle so if you want to

connect with people

share who you are they’re going to want

to connect with you

 

I think a lot of people get stuck on

this writing content for their website

or managing their social media. They’re

like I just don’t have the time

you know your clients are going to come

from this

they’re going to find you on the

websites maybe it might not be the first

time they see your name but if your name

pops up on some place like Zillow or

realer.com

they are googling you to find out more

about who you are

 

It’s very interesting to see the

statistics especially because

a lot of people think that the most

important thing on their website

is that MLS feed and while that’s a

great feature to have

it’s not what drives people to come to

your websites anymore because they’re

going to zillow and they’re going to

realtor.com

 

So, if you want to hear more about the

exact statistics we actually have a

great episode

on our YouTube page that was taught by

Matthew Rathbun

about how you can get your bio to be

more professional looking and why it really

matters to have that content on your

website I highly suggest you check it out

 

You really can’t afford not to put

content on your website

it is a driving force especially for new

agents so if you want those leads if you want

to get started make sure you’re

developing content for your website

and as always far is here to help and

support you we have great tools on our

website I highly suggest you check them

out faarmembers.com tools and check out all

the great content we have there for you

 

Have a great day guys!

Regional Housing Market Starts the Year with a Sprint

The new year began the same way it went out:  with so little supply of homes for the raging demand from homebuyers that even houses in the top price points saw multiple offers, a relatively rare occurrence in the in the last 10 years.  January closed out with a total sold dollar volume of approximately $184.5 million which represents a staggering 50% increase over January of 2020.  The market saw a significant 13% year-over-year increase in median price, going from $305,000 in January of 2020 to $345,000 in January of 2021.  Units sold increased over 26%, finishing out the month at 486 compared to 385 units sold last January. 

FAAR Board of Director Dawn Josemans comments, “As we keep doing business with our new virtual tools and following CDC guidelines when we physically show homes, we are not seeing the market slow down.  We are still seeing more buyers than there is inventory to support, so buyers are not getting the first house they put an offer on.  Maybe not even the second or third home they put on offer on.  As a result, we are seeing multiple offers quite a bit over list price within days of going on the market.  Many sellers are accepting those offers, waiving previous customary contingencies and keeping their fingers crossed for an on-the-money appraisal.”        

While Stafford County has frequently driven gains in regional numbers, that was not necessarily the case for this January.  While the County’s median price clocked in at $400,000 once again, representing a more than 14% increase from last January, units sold remained flat.  There were 154 homes sold in pre-pandemic January in Stafford County, and 159 homes sold in January of 2021.  At first blush, this might appear to indicate that demand is cooling in the County but a closer look at the numbers reveals that is not the case.  A nearly unfathomably low inventory is responsible for depressing sales in Stafford County.  In January of 2020, a time when most agents would agree that the supply was very low, there were 404 available homes on the market.  Fast forward to the end of January 2021, and there were just 80 homes on the market, representing a whopping 80% decrease. 

The jurisdictions with smaller populations saw the largest gains in January with Colonial Beach, Orange County, King George County, and the City of Fredericksburg posting 100% or more increases in total sold dollar volume, with Caroline County not far behind at 75%.  The acceleration in sold volume was driven by a combination of higher price points and many more units sold, sometimes even 100% increases from the previous year.  If January is any indication of how the market is going to be in 2021, area homebuyers and sellers are in for a wild ride.   

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 nearly 60% with houses averaging a measly 20 days on the market this January compared to 48 days last year. 

Not unexpectedly, inventory across the region remains at historic lows.  In January of 2020, there were 1,149 homes on the market.  In January of 2021, there were just 396 homes for sale, representing a nearly 66% year-over-year decline.  New listings were down more than 10% compared to last year, but that number seems moderate compared to some of the decreases the market has seen over the past year.  New pendings continue their upward trajectory with a nearly 15% increase in pending contract activity compared to last year. 

The past year has also seen a very heated and competitive rental market, altered in many ways by the eviction moratorium and accelerating demand.  Josemans, whose real estate specialty is property management, comments, “The rental market remains strong; however, it is an interesting and complicated portion of the market.  There are tenants whose income has been affected by COVID receiving Federal protection from being evicted. There are landlords being protected by the State with avenues to seek mortgage and rent income relief.  The question is how long are both of these protections going to last.  What happens when the protections go away?  What happens to the folks who did not receive relief?  Market conditions have led to a great deal of landlords deciding to take advantage of the current sales market and sell their investment property.”

Citation system tweaked—fines increased

Recently, the Boards of Directors of the Associations in the region (FAAR, PWAR, BBAR, DAAR and GPAR) voted to stiffen the fines of the Citation System. Second and third offense fines have been added. In most instances, the first offensive fine has doubled from $250 to $500. Second and third offenses average $1,000 and $3,000, respectively.

The system’s focus is on potential violations of Regional Rules and Regulations of the Sentrilock Lockbox System in regards to articles of the Code of Ethics.
Sometimes an ethics hearing can be avoided by an agent agreeing to the guidelines of the Citation System. A potentially offending agent agrees to pay a fine, and the complaint never goes to a hearing. It is a much shorter process and the potentially offending agent does not have to admit guilt.

Download FAAR’s updated Citation System brochure here

realtor citation system brochure cover fredericksburg area association of realtors orange revised 11/2020

Read other articles like this in the latest FAARside Newsletter

What You Need To Know About Coming Soon

What You Need To Know About Coming Soon

Check out this doubleheader episode! First, we’ll hear a conversation by two agents about the rules for “coming soon” listings. Next, we will learn more about helping your client understand insurance.
Transcript

Coming Soon

hey chip

um hey listen I saw you got that listing

on main street can I show my client

see I know it’s still in coming soon

status but my buyers are really well

qualified and man they really want to see it can you

get me in?

 

Hey Kev no

I’m sorry the Bright MLS rules clearly

forbid showing well under the cummings

status my friend

 

Oh Whatever

listen there’s no harm in trying i mean

lots of agents have let me sneak into

coming soon why are you being so

difficult?

 

Whoa did you know actually even you

asking me is a potential Bright MLS

violation to you it’s not okay to see a

listing in coming soon status

period I’m sorry those other agents were

acting a little bit unethical but I do

not bend the rules even for my friends

 

All right Mr. Ethics can you at least let

me know if you change the status to active

absolutely sure to do it happy to let you know whenever it

goes active and just before the date it’s listed

 

Cool so I want to make sure I see it the

minute it goes active

can I go ahead and schedule a showing now?

sure thing  it’s scheduled ready to go active on 11/1 so you can go

through showing time right now make an

appointment show it on 11/1.

 

Hey I just spoke to my client they

really want this house and they don’t

want to wait till 11/1

how about if I just send you an offer?

What do you think?

 

I love that, certainly, there’s no rule

absolutely no rule against submitting a

contract to a coming soon listing

I look forward to getting your offer and

showing it to my seller

 

Great I’m sending it now. Do you got it yet?

 

Great news Kevin, my sellers have got it

they’ve accepted your offer

please sign or return it and we then will be ratified

 

Sweet action that is great to hear. My

clients are going to be so happy

can I come see it now?

 

I’m sorry not just

yet it cannot be shown while

still in the coming soon status once we get

it ratified I’ll change the status to

pending in the MLS

and then it can be shown

 

Wow I’ve had

girlfriends left it less difficult than

you what is

the deal man

 

No no no no I’m just being

ethical I’m following the rules my friend

it’s important that we follow the same

set of rules with everyone

playing by the same rulebook there’s no

gray area with coming soon listings they

cannot be shown

 

 

Wow we learned a lot today about what

you can and can’t do with coming soon

properties for more information check out the

Bright MLS website

to find out all of the rules and

regulations regarding coming soon

 

Home Owner’s Insurance

 

Up next we have Richard Bibb with Goosehead Insurance

talking to us about what

you need to know about homeowners insurance

 

 

how are you today Richard

 

I’m doing great

 

Awesome

 

So what are some of the things that

every realtor should know about

home insurance

 

well home insurance is

obviously required for every property

that’s sold and that they’re the key thing

realtor should be aware of is that

there’s incredible number of variables

that go into calculating the

premium for a home um and so some of the

things that i like to point out to

re-entrance that are important are

things like the age of the roof i mean

you probably don’t know this but

many insurance companies will not even

write an insurance policy

on a home if the roof is over uh older

than say 20 years so while there’s plenty of will

all i want so and the age of the roof is

a factor that every insurance company

wants to know

and the calculations into the premium so

that’s something that should be aware of

when you’re either

selling a property or representing a

buyer that’s buying

 

that’s awesome so you mentioned house

there are a bunch of different

insurance companies why is it vital that

customers shop among all the different

providers

 

well insurance companies uh have all

have different appetites for the type of

risk that they like to ensure i mean

some people

only like you know only one insurer properties that say are in suburban neighborhoods and

they don’t like rural properties for

example some companies don’t like

properties that are near water

while there are others that will write

those so that because of so many

different types

of properties out there that their

different insurance companies are going

to be like that type of property and may not

like another type of property so the

only way to find out really is to go

shop among the different

different companies to find out who’s

going to have a good premium for the

particular property that you’re

involved in selling yeah and around

Fredericksburg of course we have all

those different types of

properties you got to King George it’s

like very rural developments

 

So downtown Fredericksburg has a lot

of historic homes

so what are some things that an agent or

a consumer might need to know about

insuring those

 

well the most common type of loss

settlement is

where you ensure the companies insure

the property for its replacement cost

which is

as the name implies it’s how much would

it cost to replace the cost that

replaced the house

in the event of a total loss with older

homes

and historic homes

many times we do what’s called a

modified replacement cost or

where instead of replacing exactly as

it’s currently built obviously if it was

built in the 1850s it’s hard to

replicate exactly the constructive

methods and so forth

you may have to have insured to what’s

called a modified replacement cost where

essentially they

build it like it was but using modern

materials and modern

construction techniques and so those are

things that just come into play when

you’re dealing with

properties that are you know say 75 plus

years old or something

 

so what are some things that people need

to look out for that homeowners

insurance might not normally cover

 

yeah it’s important to understand you

know what’s covered under your

homeowner’s insurance and the list is

quite long but there’s also a couple of

very common things that the

insurance does not normal home

insurance does not cover

and that’s for damage from things uh

like earthquake

uh and damage from uh from flood uh

earthquake was something that

around this area people didn’t think

about much of until or 15 years ago so

when the event happened in mineral

and now uh you know there’s a disclaimer

that’s provided with every insurance

policy pointing out

to them that the standard policy does

not cover earthquake insurance

damage from earthquake um there are

endorsements available from practically

every insurer to cover earthquake damage

to certain extent

we point that out to the customer but

it’s important to realize that your

standard policy does not cover

things for earthquake also similarly

with flood

flood usually have to get a separate

flood policy either from the national

flood program

or there’s a number of private insurers

that offer flood insurance now

and usually at a much more competitive

rate and so it’s important

to you know when you’re when we’re

dealing with a customer particularly if

they’re in an area where they’re

near a river or

a body of water that’s subject to

flooding to make them aware of that and ensure it

properly secure the property with the flood

insurance in addition to the regular

homeowners insurance

 

awesome so that is awesome information i

feel like every agent is going to feel a

little bit more prepared now because

honestly insurance can seem so scary to

begin with

and then people are asking me questions

as you’re going

so um if an agent wants to refer you to

their client or insure

their stuff with you how can they get in

contact with you

 

well this is the thing

just to call me my

phone number is 571-349-9069

um you can reach me by email

richard.goosehead.com

 

The 2021 February FAARside Newsletter is ready for you!

The 2021 February FAARside Newsletter is ready for you!

It’s here, FAAR members! Your copy of the February Newsletter, the FAARside is ready for your review! Crack open a copy to learn about what’s going on at the Association including a letter from the President, 2020 accomplishments, and more!

This edition includes

  • 2021 Legislative Agenda
  • How to maximize your FAAR membership
  • An update on Stafford County Downzoning
  • Zoom tips
  • Fredericksburg REALTORS Foundation Annual Report
  • FAAR’s March is for Members sneak peak
  • 2021 Bright MLS Training Schedule

and more!

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

February realtor newsletter cover page with tiled grid of FAAAR member headshots and see the diversity scholarship on page 17
How is the GRI different from other designations?

How is the GRI different from other designations?

 

Of all the residential real estate designations offered through the National Association of REALTORS®, the Graduate, REALTOR® Institute (GRI) is the most comprehensive, providing a broader scope and depth of training.

Designees must complete a minimum of 60 classroom hours that cover legal and regulatory issues, technology, professional standards, and the sales process. Using materials that go well beyond real estate licensing courses, GRI instructors have prepared resources that agents don’t necessarily know they need, helping build their confidence to work more successfully with buyers and sellers alike.

Each state establishes its own GRI curriculum requirements, allowing flexibility to integrate state-specific material with key national topics, including:

Market Knowledge: Neighborhoods and property amenities, considerations for housing types, developing CMAs and impact of MLS, financing options and home-buying programs, inspections and appraisals/valuations

Business Skills: Prospecting, buyer and seller services, creating your niche market, negotiations, creating and implementing your brand

Systems and Tools: Record retention, form platforms and applications, website portals, marketing tools, hardware and software to streamline your business

Avoid Setbacks, Fines, and Lawsuits: Professional standards, contract to close, risk management, agency relationships, and advertising

In some cases, GRI courses overlap with other designation requirements or are eligible for CE credit, providing additional value from your training. You’ll gain comprehensive knowledge and skills you’ll continue to draw upon for many years to come. There are not, however, any annual dues to maintain your GRI designation.

Learn More
Earning the GRI designation is an intensive, in-person experience that gives you the information and tools to grow your real estate practice. Learn more and find courses offered in your area: virginiarealtors.org

 

FAAR 2020 housing market one of hottest in state

Check out the 4th quarter home sales report produced by the Virginia Realtors® for the FAAR footprint.  The 4th quarter did not see the traditional seasonal slowing that we expect to see as the year winds down.  Consumer demand was very strong in the last 3 months of the year.  The report states, “The supply of homes for sale is tight and continues to dwindle.  There were just 635 active listings in the FAAR market at the end of the 4th quarter, a 61% reduction from a year ago.”  

Click the button below to access the full report and use it in your business!

Press Releases

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.

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...

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