NewsRecent news, business resources and press releases.
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Scam Alert: Health Insurance Text Messages Target NAR members
FAAR members have reported receiving multiple text messages offering health insurance from a sender who claims to be affiliated with NAR. Messages like these are a scam, NAR does NOT offer members direct health insurance benefits and did not authorize a third party to reach out to you on their behalf. Please direct any fraudulent outreach to firstname.lastname@example.org.
NAR does partner with providers who offer individual insurance plans for major medical, dental, vision, home, life, auto, and pet policies. These plans are all offered on an individual basis and not directly through NAR. NAR members have access to a trusted third party vendor that offers consulting services to help NAR members find the best policies available on the private market. This service is on-demand for members and does not reach out unsolicited. Access all of NAR’s personal insurance benefits at https://www.nar.realtor/realtor-benefits-program/personal-insurance.
NAR has also provided a website with FAQs about this issue, you can access it here.
Welcome Meghan Kala to the FAAR Board of Directors
The Board of Directors elected Meghan Kala in January to serve as a Director when another Director needed to step down from the position. Meghan has served as Vice-Chair for the Education Committee in 2022 and is currently serving as the Chair.
What goals does Meghan bring to the Board? Meghan hopes that FAAR will continue to contribute to the success of existing and new agents, and that its membership always provides value.
Short-term rentals sent to Housing Commission for further study
Over the past two weeks, the Virginia Realtors® short-term rental bill which would have exempted Realtor®-managed properties from enforcement of certain short-term rental provisions in local ordinances, has received many requests for amendments to the bill. While Realtors® from across the state spoke in strong support of the bill through our statewide Call for Action, the bill will be referred to the Housing Commission for further study and recommendations. This gives us time to fully review all of the proposed amendments and work with all stakeholders to ensure that we can return in the 2024 General Assembly with an even stronger proposal.
The rest of the Virginia Realtors® agenda is moving along well through the legislative process. The following status updates are as of January 30, 2023.
Extends time to return a security deposit when a third-party needs to be contracted by 15 days
HB 1542/SB 891
Unanimously passed both chambers committees and is headed to the House floor
Provides more transparency and accountability for HOAs that violate Common Interest Community law
HB 1627/SB 1042
Unanimously passed both chambers committees and is headed to the floor
Resale Disclosure Act
Consolidates all parts of the resale disclosure packet into one code section under the “Resale Certificate” and streamlines its presentation for purchasers
HB 2235/SB 1222
Cleared the House subcommittee and Senate full committee, had first reading on the Senate floor
Spring Cleaning Lockbox Discount
Decommission an old box for a discount on the new SentriGuard Lockbox!
FAAR Brokers and Agents:
FAAR and Sentrilock are offering a discount to help agents get the NEW Sentrilock boxes!
Stop service on your old lockboxes and get a discount on a new Gen 4 SentriGuard! Watch a short video about the new lockboxes here!
Regular Price: $130.00
Pre-Order Discount until February 17: $110.00
Use the order form to order your new boxes.
For each new lockbox you purchase at the discount, an old lockbox will be decommissioned (deactivated) by FAAR.
If agents need a list of what their lockbox serial numbers are, we will provide that.
Once we have the new lockboxes in stock the agent may come to FAAR to pick them up, and at that time the old one will be decommissioned.
The agent is responsible for disposing of the batteries and old lockbox.
Friday, February 17:
- Deadline to place order for your new boxes and give FAAR the serial number(s) of box(es) that will be decommissioned.
- Payment guarantee of $110 per lockbox must be made by this date. (Credit card will be charged when the new lockboxes are received by FAAR.)
Monday, February 20:
- FAAR will order the boxes from Sentrilock at the discounted rate.
- FAAR will receive the new boxes and agents can pick them up at the FAAR office.
- FAAR will decommission the old boxes.
- Agents will dispose of/recycle the decommissioned boxes.
Contact Lori at email@example.com.
NAR Legal Update
Great news shared recently by NAR:
A district court issued an order granting NAR’s petition to end the DOJ investigation of NAR, including their investigation of the MLS Participation Rule and Clear Cooperation Policy. As you may recall, we reached a settlement with the DOJ in 2020, which they tried to back out of in 2021. The court concluded: “The government, like any party, must be held to the terms of its settlement agreements.”
This does not preclude the DOJ from investigating NAR in the future, and the DOJ has the option to appeal this decision if desired. But this is a clear victory. NAR is delighted the DOJ is now bound to honor its agreement.
As part of our commitment to act in the best interests of home buyers and sellers across this country, NAR remains dedicated to advancing independent, local real estate marketplaces that provide for greater economic opportunity and equity for small businesses and consumers of all backgrounds and financial means.
Alert: Closing Delays in Westmoreland County
Update 1/26/2023: Westmoreland County is back up and running. Text document are being received without issue, but there may be some delays with sending images.
Please see the message below from Northern Neck Association of Realtors® Association Executive Teresa Whitlock regarding potential delays in closings for properties located in Westmoreland County.
On Monday, December 26th, Cott Systems identified some unusual activity on the servers. The Cott system is what Westmoreland County uses for Title searches and closings of real estate properties. This system has been hacked rendering it useless. It has been determined that Cott Systems is the victim of an organized cyber-attack. Both the FBI and Homeland Security are investigating. Unfortunately, since December 26th, the title companies and real estate companies have been in limbo, unable to perform title searches or closings for their customers. With no end in sight, it is developing into a disastrous hardship for buyers, sellers, title companies, attorneys, and real estate companies who do business in Westmoreland County. The FNF (Fidelity National Financial) has issued a notice that under certain circumstances, the company may permit its offices and agents to perform closings and insure titles if the customers will sign an indemnity, but this puts the customer at risk and lenders are not willing to allow that. Files are backing up; buyers are losing their interest rates which have already been extended once and are now starting to cancel contracts because they can’t afford the payments due to the higher rate. The clerk’s office in Montross has not kept a paper copy of the land records in years. Everything was on that system that was hacked!
2022 Real Estate Market Closes with High Prices, Declining Sales
2022 was a tumultuous year for the local real estate market with a fiery start to the year that began to moderate about halfway through due to rising interest rates and continued supply challenges. “The housing market always fluctuates. We had an intense seller’s market with lower inventory and record low mortgage rates last year, but that has settled out. Buyers have more ability to negotiate now, and sellers are still enjoying higher prices, so it is still a strong market,” comments FAAR President Carol Sondrini. While price growth remained robust throughout the duration of 2022, units sold decreased significantly which also dragged down total sold volume despite the high prices.
The year closed out with a total sold dollar volume of just over $3.3 billion which represents a more than 12% decrease over the year-end $3.8 billion total for red-hot 2021. The market saw a nearly 12% year-over-year increase in median price, going from $382,000 in 2021 to $425,600 in 2022. Units sold decreased more than 20%, finishing out the year at 7,284 units compared to 9,266 units sold in 2021. Stafford and Spotsylvania counties saw volume reductions that accounted for nearly 1,500 of the 2,000 fewer units sold in 2022 versus 2021, but despite falling sales, prices soared in both places. Spotsylvania County broke $400,000 for its annual median price for the first time ever, clocking in at $410,000 while Stafford County reached $485,000, a $40,000 increase over the previous 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 increased more than 33%, going from just 15 days in 2021 up to 20 days in 2022. However, most homes still sold in 20 days or less, making for some strong competition for well-priced homes.
December saw large decreases in total sold dollar volume and units sold, with both metrics declining by over 30%. Despite falling sales volume, median price continued to climb. The month closed out with about $196.6 million in total sold volume, representing a more than 33% decrease from last year. Units sold clocked in at 438 compared to 689 sold in 2021, a more than 36% decline. Median price climbed to $415,000, a nearly 8% increase from the $385,000 price point of December 2021. Every jurisdiction in the FAAR footprint saw units sold decline by more than 30% with Caroline County leading way with a nearly 50% decline from December of 2021. Stafford County saw days on market jump 133% from one year to the next with homes spending an average of just 15 days on the market last December compared to 35 days this December.
While December of 2022 saw more than 200 additional homes on the market than 2021, supply remains an issue. Active listings surpassed 1,000 a few times in 2022 but dipped to 819 in December paired with a more than 35% decrease in new listings from the year before. In December of 2021, 550 new homes came on the market compared to just 355 this December.
While some harbor fears about market dynamics similar to 2008, Sondrini does not see parallels with the housing bust that impacted so many people. Today’s buyers are well-qualified with stable mortgages, sizable down payments, and growing equity. The market is shifting, but supply remains an issue and finding the right home at the right price will continue to be a challenge. “I expect 2023 to be a good market and both buyers and sellers will need a well-informed, trusted Realtor® on their side,” states Sondrini.
FAAR Presents Orange County with Recognition for Broadband Achievement
On Tuesday, December 20, 2022, the Fredericksburg Area Association of Realtors® (FAAR) presented the Orange County Broadband Authority with a certificate of recognition for “outstanding results in serving and connecting the community” and “being a leader in broadband development in Central Virginia.” Orange County Broadband Authority and Board of Supervisors members Jim Crozier and Jim White were in attendance to receive the award.
FAAR Communications and Technology Committee Chair Michael Brannon presented the award stating, “The Committee is beyond impressed with Orange County’s commitment to expanding broadband accessibility and affordability. The county’s efforts to provide all citizens with broadband service aligns with FAAR’s Strategic Plan goals of inclusion and is indeed notable.”
FAAR members have long known that broadband connectivity is extremely important to buyers in today’s market. Average home sale prices indicate that broadband access could impact the sale price of a home by 13% and that homeowners have come to regard Internet service as public utilities like lights and water. As the coronavirus pandemic shifted all aspects of life online, FAAR members feared that our region’s rural areas would struggle the most. FAAR embarked on a two-year long journey to learn about broadband coverage in the region and what efforts were underway to expand it. Orange County proved to be a leader in every way on broadband deployment and deserves to be recognized for their commitment to serving every household in the county.
November Housing Market Sees Plummeting Sales
The Fredericksburg regional housing market continues to show signs of a softening market, but prices remain stubbornly high in many jurisdictions. Total sold dollar volume took a staggering 37% drop this November coming in at approximately $193.5 million compared to more than $305 million last November. That decline was fueled by a more than 42% reduction in sales from the previous year with 715 homes being sold in November of 2021, compared with just 412 this November. Despite cratering sales, median price remained high coming in at $424,715 which represents a nearly 8% year-over-year increase from last year’s median sales price of $395,000.
“Volatile interest rates led to a decline in the number of buyers actively looking for homes,” comments FAAR Board of Director Abby Fitzsimmons. “Fewer buyers looking led to more inventory available. This shift has given buyers the leverage to win contracts with home inspections and even some seller subsidies, something that buyers have not seen in the previous crazy seller’s market. Although buyers have some leverage, home values remain stable. A few months ago, buyers were having to offer more than list price and waive appraisals or pay for appraisal gaps. Instead of homes going above list price now, they are selling for list price with concessions. Homes that are over-priced are sitting. Interest rates fell slightly towards the end of the month, but this is coinciding with the start of the holiday season, so we’ll see if those buyers will start looking again or wait until after the holidays,” concludes Fitzsimmons.
While median price rose for yet another month at the regional level, individual jurisdictions are seeing both plummeting sales, and in some cases, falling prices. Caroline and Orange counties, along with the City of Fredericksburg and the Town of Colonial Beach, all posted year-over-year price declines in November. However, King George, Stafford, and Spotsylvania counties all saw price increases. Spotsylvania County was a notable standout with a nearly 14% increase in median price in November going from $370,000 last year to $420,000 this 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, increased another 35% this October, coming in at 27 days versus 20 last year.
Active listings jumped nearly 40% over last year with 974 homes on the market at the end of November 2022 versus 704 last year. While the number of active listings is a constantly changing number, dipping below 1,000 homes available demonstrates how competitive even this changing market remains with low supply. The market is still several hundred homes short of where it was at the end of 2019. New listings were down again this month, with 537 new homes coming on the market compared to 668 last November. New pendings remain down with 400 new contracts ratified in November compared to 636 last year, representing a nearly 38% year-over-year decline.
FAAR Welcomes the 2023 Leadership Team
The Fredericksburg Area Association of REALTORS® (FAAR) welcomes the 2023 Leadership Team and Board of Directors. The Association under the leadership of 2022 President Deb Ellis served more than 1,800 Realtors® working throughout the region with top-notch educational offerings, wide ranging networking opportunities, and strong advocacy to protect the real estate industry.
Ellis presented the President’s Award to Immediate Past President Carrie Danko of Pathway Realty, thanking Danko for her guidance and inspiring actions as a leader.
Looking ahead to 2023, incoming President Carol Sondrini of BHHS PenFed Realty looks to continue the trend of strong leadership at the Association. Sondrini inspired members to get involved with the association, continue to be strong advocates in the community, and to “let your voice be heard.”
Carol Sondrini and her leadership team were installed by Sherry Bailey of Century 21 New Millennium.
The 2023 FAAR Leadership team is
President Carol Sondrini, BHHS PenFed Realty
President-Elect Randy Walther, Nest Realty
Vice President Dawn Josemans, Coldwell Banker Property Management
Secretary Kardin Lillis, Weichert, REALTORS®
Treasurer Lauren Tate, Century 21 Redwood
Immediate Past President Deb Ellis, Coldwell Banker Elite
Abby Fitzsimmons, Coldwell Banker Elite
Tamar Myers-Moffatt, Samson Properties
Gary Gardiner, Jr., Coldwell Banker Elite
LeAnn Black, 1st Choice Better Homes & Land
Matthew Rathbun, Coldwell Banker Elite
Michelle Caldwell Thompson, CTI Real Estate
Sherrie Shaw, Summit Mortgage
FAAR would also like to thank departing Board Members for their service including Carrie Danko, Pia Contreras-Sanchez, Clay Murray, and Michele Freemyers.
FAAR Welcomes the 2023 Leadership Team
The Fredericksburg Area Association of REALTORS® (FAAR) welcomes the 2023 Leadership Team and Board of Directors. The Association under the leadership of 2022 President Deb Ellis served more than 1,800 Realtors® working throughout the region with top-notch educational...
Prices show no signs of stopping while demand continues to cool
Local Realtors® are feeling the change in the market, but prices do not show any signs of cooling as we head into the fall months. Prices remain high and continue to climb despite moderating sales volumes. Many Realtors® report significant price reductions from...
3rd quarter stats show continued price increases, volume decreases
Prices keep going up while demand for housing cools
The local real estate market continues its march toward moderation as demand continues to fall but prices are still climbing compared to last year. Total sold dollar volume was down more than 23% in September of 2022 going from more than $325.5 million last September...