Sunday, December 7, 2008

Interest Rates Drop

Mortgage Rates Take a Big Dip This Week
For the week ended Dec. 3, Freddie Mac reported the lowest interest on 30-year fixed home loans since late January.

The rate came in at an average of 5.53 percent, down from 5.97 percent the previous week and 5.96 percent a year ago; while 15-year fixed mortgages settled at 5.33 percent compared to 5.74 percent last week and 5.65 percent in the year-earlier period.

Borrowing costs for short-term loans also were lower, with one-year adjustable-rate mortgages dipping to 5.02 percent from 5.18 percent a week ago and 5.46 percent a year ago.

Five-year hybrid ARMs, meanwhile, fell to 5.77 percent from 5.86 percent last week and 5.75 percent during the same period of last year.

Source: Realty Times (12/05/08)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Zip Realty

You may have noticed that the Long and Foster Logo is gone from this Blog. Well, it's because I have made a switch to a new brokerage company. I'm now with Zip Realty. You may not have heard of Zip Realty, but it is a publicly traded company that began in California in 1999. According to Realtor Magazine it is #15 in the country in transactions for 2007 and is growing with leaps and bounds. The office here in Richmond celebrated it's 1 year anniversary this August. The website will give you more history of the company.
It is my goal as a Realtor to offer my clients the best experience they can have in buying or selling a home. This includes customer service, marketing and administration services and follow up. Zip Realty has the same goals and puts a network of services along with it. You can receive up to a 20% rebate on the purchase of a new home and save up to 25% commission on the sale of your home. Zip has a 94% customer satisfaction rating. There is an excellent website where you can search homes by different criteria and you are assigned a personal agent to help you with the site and with the purchase/sale of your home. Zip Realty parallels my goals and puts a great website behind it.
So, I am now a better agent for you with Zip Realty. Please call me and I will help you sign on the website or check it out yourself.
Have a Great Day!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Dog Poison LIne

"Calling all dog owners!"
Did you know there is a poison hotline for dogs? Well, there is. It's 1-800-213-6680. But because they do not receive any government funding there is a $35.00 charge (price on 7/24/08). If you can not reach your Vet. it's worth it. I hope you do not need to call this number.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Downtown Master Plan

Today, I had the opportunity to hear Rachel Flynn, Director of Community Development speak about the Master Plan for Downtown Richmond. This is the second time I have seen the presentation and I am equally impressed. There are great plans for the revitalization of Downtown including increased utilization of the river, improved transportation, and over all redevelopment. Please review the link of The Master Plan under the Government Tab of this blog to get the full details. This plan needs the support of not only Richmond residents, but also everyone from the counties. Please call/email a city council person with your support. Email addresses are available on the Richmond Website.

I welcome any comments on this topic.


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Virginia Association of Realtors Home Sales Statistics

If you would like to keep up the Virginia Housing Market the VAR website is a good place. Go to for statistics on sales by Local Multiple Listing Services. The second quarter report is due out on 7/24/08

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Google Maps

Holy Moly! What next? Google maps has some great features that you may find useful. You will want to go to and type your address in the "search maps" space bar. This will more than likely place a “push pen” at your location. Click on the “push pen” and a picture of your house will come up. Next click on “street view” under the picture. Now you will be able to click on the white
arrows on the street to move along the street. If you want to turn, click on the arrows above the zoom bars.
This is a great feature to use if you are looking for a new houses in other cities or even in Richmond so you can view the house at home and save on gas. Check it out. Let me know what you think.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Good News From The National Association of Realtors

Daily Real Estate News | May 7, 2008
Expect a Summer Rise in Home Sales
A flat pattern in home sales activity should continue for the next couple of months before improving over the summer, according to the latest forecast by the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the extent of an expected recovery hinges on better access to affordable loans. “Things are beginning to improve, but the availability of affordable mortgages is uneven around the country and sometimes within metropolitan areas,” he says. “As anticipated, we continue to look for a soft first half of the year, for both housing and the economy, before notable improvements in the second half. Some time is needed for FHA and new conforming jumbo loans to become widely available.”

The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contracts signed in March, edged down 1.0 percent to 83.0 from a downwardly revised level of 83.8 in February, and was 20.1 percent lower than the March 2007 index of 103.9.

NAR President Richard F. Gaylord says additional costs in many markets are hindering a recovery. “Our members are telling us that more buyers are looking at homes but are slow in signing contracts, and that’s contributing to the weakness in pending home sales,” he says. “In many cases buyers are waiting for greater access to affordable credit, especially in higher cost areas, but some are disappointed with what appears to be unnecessarily restrictive lending requirements. The good news this week is there is some discussion toward relaxing some of the burdensome lending practices.”

The PHSI in the Northeast jumped 12.5 percent in March to 80.8 but remains 15.4 percent below a year ago. In the South, the index slipped 0.1 percent to 84.9 and is 26.7 percent lower than March 2007. The index in the West declined 1.4 percent in March to 91.2 and is 9.5 percent below a year ago. In the Midwest, the index fell 10.4 percent in March to 74.1 and is 22.3 percent below March 2007.

Existing-home sales are projected to rise from an annual pace of 4.95 million in the first quarter to 5.82 million in the fourth quarter. For all of 2008, existing-home sales are likely to total 5.39 million, and then rise 6.1 percent to 5.72 million next year. “Although more than half of local markets are expected to see price growth this year, the aggregate existing-home price will decline 2.4 percent in 2008, driven by a relatively few markets that are very oversupplied,” Yun says. The median price is forecast at $213,700 this year before rising 4.1 percent to $222,600 in 2009.

Some areas already are seeing sales increases, underscoring that all real estate is local. In March, unpublished snapshot data shows sales in Bakersfield, Calif., and Jackson, Miss., were higher than a year ago. At the same time, price gains were noted in markets such as Buffalo-Niagara Falls, and Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

On May 13, NAR will report first-quarter data on metropolitan area home prices, covering about 150 metro areas, and state home sales. “Although some market adjustments are necessary, a downward overshooting of the housing market would cause unnecessary loss in economic output, income, and jobs,” Yun says. “It is critical to stimulate housing demand by inducing fence sitters back into the market. A home buyer tax credit on any home purchase would accomplish that.”

Here are some highlights from NAR's report:

New-homes. Sales of new homes are expected to fall 30.9 percent to 536,000 this year before rising 10.1 percent to 590,000 in 2009. Housing starts, including multifamily units, will probably drop 29.5 percent to 955,000 in 2008, and then rise 1.3 percent to 967,000 next year. The median new-home price is estimated to fall 3.7 percent to $238,000 this year, and then rise 5.4 percent in 2009 to $250,900.
Rates. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is likely to rise gradually to 6.2 percent by the end of the year, and then average 6.3 percent in 2009.
Affordability. NAR’s housing affordability index is expected to rise 10 percentage points to 127.0 for all of 2008.
GDP. Growth in the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) should be 1.5 percent this year and 2.3 percent in 2009. The unemployment rate is projected to average 5.3 percent in 2008 and 5.5 percent next year.
Inflation. Inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index, is seen at 3.4 percent this year and 2.2 percent in 2009. Inflation-adjusted disposable personal income is forecast to grow 1.2 percent in 2008 and 3.0 percent next year.

Source: NAR

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Wall Street Journal Article on the Housing Crisis

The Housing Crisis Is Over
May 6, 2008; Page A23

The dire headlines coming fast and furious in the financial and popular press suggest that the housing crisis is intensifying. Yet it is very likely that April 2008 will mark the bottom of the U.S. housing market. Yes, the housing market is bottoming right now.
How can this be? For starters, a bottom does not mean that prices are about to return to the heady days of 2005. That probably won't happen for another 15 years. It just means that the trend is no longer getting worse, which is the critical factor.
Most people forget that the current housing bust is nearly three years old. Home sales peaked in July 2005. New home sales are down a staggering 63% from peak levels of 1.4 million. Housing starts have fallen more than 50% and, adjusted for population growth, are back to the trough levels of 1982.
Furthermore, residential construction is close to 15-year lows at 3.8% of GDP; by the fourth quarter of this year, it will probably hit the lowest level ever. So what's going to stop the housing decline? Very simply, the same thing that caused the bust: affordability.
The boom made housing unaffordable for many American families, especially first-time home buyers. During the 1990s and early 2000s, it took 19% of average monthly income to service a conforming mortgage on the average home purchased. By 2005 and 2006, it was absorbing 25% of monthly income. For first time buyers, it went from 29% of income to 37%. That just proved to be too much.
Prices got so high that people who intended to actually live in the houses they purchased (as opposed to speculators) stopped buying. This caused the bubble to burst.
Since then, house prices have fallen 10%-15%, while incomes have kept growing (albeit more slowly recently) and mortgage rates have come down 70 basis points from their highs. As a result, it now takes 19% of monthly income for the average home buyer, and 31% of monthly income for the first-time home buyer, to purchase a house. In other words, homes on average are back to being as affordable as during the best of times in the 1990s. Numerous households that had been priced out of the market can now afford to get in.
The next question is: Even if home sales pick up, how can home prices stop falling with so many houses vacant and unsold? The flip but true answer: because they always do.
In the past five major housing market corrections (and there were some big ones, such as in the early 1980s when home sales also fell by 50%-60% and prices fell 12%-15% in real terms), every time home sales bottomed, the pace of house-price declines halved within one or two months.
The explanation is that by the time home sales stop declining, inventories of unsold homes have usually already started falling in absolute terms and begin to peak out in "months of supply" terms. That's the case right now: New home inventories peaked at 598,000 homes in July 2006, and stand at 482,000 homes as of the end of March. This inventory is equivalent to 11 months of supply, a 25-year high – but it is similar to 1974, 1982 and 1991 levels, which saw a subsequent slowing in home-price declines within the next six months.
Inventories are declining because construction activity has been falling for such a long time that home completions are now just about undershooting new home sales. In a few months, completions of new homes for sale could be undershooting new home sales by 50,000-100,000 annually.
Inventories will drop even faster to 400,000 – or seven months of supply – by the end of 2008. This shift in inventories will have a significant impact on prices, although house prices won't stop falling entirely until inventories reach five months of supply sometime in 2009. A five-month supply has historically signaled tightness in the housing market.
Many pundits claim that house prices need to fall another 30% to bring them back in line with where they've been historically. This is usually based on an analysis of house prices adjusted for inflation: Real house prices are 30% above their 40-year, inflation-adjusted average, so they must fall 30%. This simplistic analysis is appealing on the surface, but is flawed for a variety of reasons.
Most importantly, it neglects the fact that a great majority of Americans buy their houses with mortgages. And if one buys a house with a mortgage, the most important factor in deciding what to pay for the house is how much of one's income is required to be able to make the mortgage payments on the house. Today the rate on a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage is 5.7%. Back in 1981, the rate hit 18.5%. Comparing today's house prices to the 1970s or 1980s, when mortgage rates were stratospheric, is misguided and misleading.
This is all good news for the broader economy. The housing bust has been subtracting a full percentage point from GDP for almost two years now, which is very large for a sector that represents less than 5% of economic activity.
When the rate of house-price declines halves, there will be a wholesale shift in markets' perceptions. All of a sudden, the expected value of the collateral (i.e. houses) for much of the lending that went on for the past decade will change. Right now, when valuing the collateral, market participants including banks are extrapolating the current pace of house price declines for another two to three years; this has a significant impact on the amount of delinquencies, foreclosures and credit losses that lenders are expected to face.
More home sales and smaller price declines means fewer homeowners will be underwater on their mortgages. They will thus have less incentive to walk away and opt for foreclosure.
A milder house-price decline scenario could lead to increases in the market value of a lot of the securitized mortgages that have been responsible for $300 billion of write-downs in the past year. Even if write-backs do not occur, stabilizing collateral values will have a huge impact on the markets' perception of risk related to housing, the financial system, and the economy.
We are of course experiencing a serious housing bust, with serious economic consequences that are still unfolding. The odds are that the reverberations will lead to subtrend growth for a couple of years. Nonetheless, housing led us into this credit crisis and this recession. It is likely to lead us out. And that process is underway, right now.

Mr. Moulle-Berteaux is managing partner of Traxis Partners LP, a hedge fund firm based in New York.

See all of today's editorials and op-eds, plus video commentary, on Opinion Journal.
And add your comments to the Opinion Journal forum.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Buying Vs Renting

Have you ever wondered whether it's better to buy or rent? Well now you can easily discover the answer by using the link I have added from the NY Times. This is an easy to use calculator that will answer your questions. Be sure to play around with it and read the methology to completely understand what you are looking at. Of course this gives the raw facts on the financial aspects of homeownership and doesn't uncover your needs. So please consult a realtor for a full analysis.

Richmond Makes Forbes "Best for Business" List

Three Virginia cities make nation's 'Best for Business' list

Blacksburg, Charlottesville, and Richmond have made Forbes magazine's annual short list of metro areas that are business-friendly in the U.S.Forbes magazine has for the tenth year in a row ranked the 200 largest metro areas according to their business acumen. Cities topping the list have solid job growth, an educated labor pool and low business costs. The calculation also includes tax, energy and office space costs, and takes into account's living cost index.
Six of the 10 top metro areas are in and around state capitals.

Here are the magazine's top choices (in ranking order):

Best Metros
Raleigh, N.C.
Boise, Idaho
Fort Collins, Colo.
Des Moines, Iowa
Lexington, Ky.
Atlanta, Ga.
Richmond, Va.
Olympia, Wash.
Spokane, Wash.
Knoxville, Tenn.

Best Smaller Metros
Sioux Falls, S.D.
Iowa City, Iowa
Bloomington, Ind.
Columbia, Mo.
Bismarck, N.D.
Morgantown, W.Va.
Rapid City, S.D.
Greenville, N.C.
Charlottesville, Va.
Blacksburg, Va.

Source: Forbes, Kurt Badenhausen (03/19/2008)

Home Sales Forecast from the NAR

Daily Real Estate News April 8, 2008NAR:
Existing-Home Sales to Level Off
Little change is expected in existing-home sales over the next few months, before improving notably during the second half of the year, according to the latest forecast by the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says the market will come into clearer focus this summer. “Existing home sales could start to show a sustained increase within a few months, unless there are some additional economic problems or excessive inflationary pressure,” he says. “We’re looking for essentially stable sales in the near term, before higher mortgage loan limits translate into more sales in high-cost markets. The wider access to affordable credit should increase sales activity notably this summer as pent-up demand begins to be met.”The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contracts signed in February, slipped 1.9 percent to 84.6, from an upwardly revised reading of 86.2 in January. The index was 21.4 percent lower than the February 2007 index of 107.6. “The slip in pending home sales implies we’re not out of the woods yet, though an era of successive deep sales declines appears to be over,” Yun says.

By the Region
Here’s what the index reveals across the nation with existing-home sales:

Northeast: rose 3.2 percent in February to 71.8 but remains 25.4 percent below a year ago.
Midwest: declined 3.7 percent to 82.7 and is 17.4 percent lower than February 2007.
South: fell 5.5 percent in February to 85 and is 30.3 percent below a year ago.
West: dropped 9.8 percent in February to 84.6 and is 17.1 percent below February 2007.

Home Sales Forecast

Existing-home sales are likely to rise from an annual pace of 4.9 million in the first quarter to 5.9 million in the fourth quarter. With relatively weak activity in the first part of the year, existing-home sales for all of 2008 is forecast at 5.39 million, increasing 6.6 percent to 5.74 million in 2009.

“Exceptionally weak home sales related to jumbo loans problems will depress home prices in the first half of the year, but steady liquidity improvements in the conforming jumbo-loan market will help prices recover in the second half of the year,” Yun says.

The aggregate existing-home price will probably ease by 1.4 percent to a median of $215,800 for all of 2008 before rising 3.7 percent to $223,800 next year.

Yun says that there will continue to be wide variations in regional housing market conditions.

“Some parts of the country that can expect improvement include the Northeastern region and the oil-patch states of Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Arkansas,” he says. With lower interest rates and flat home prices in many areas, NAR’s housing affordability index is forecast to rise 14 percentage points to 127 in 2008.

New-home sales are projected to fall 25.7 percent to 576,000 in 2008 before rising 4.6 percent to 602,000 next year. Housing starts, including multifamily units, are estimated to drop 26.3 percent to 999,000 this year, and slip another 0.5 percent to 994,000 in 2009. The median new-home price will probably fall 3.6 percent to $238,400 in 2008, and then rise 4 percent next year to $247,800.

Other predictions on factors that can impact the housing market:

Mortgage rates: 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, which has fluctuated recently, should average 5.8 percent in the second and third quarters, but trend up to an average of 6.3 percent in 2009.

Growth in the U.S. gross domestic product: expected to be 1.4 percent in 2008 and 2.4 percent next year.

Unemployment rate: forecast to average 5.4 percent this year and 5.6 percent in 2009.

Inflation: (as measured by the Consumer Price Index) is projected at 3.4 percent in 2008 and 2.2 percent next year. Inflation-adjusted disposable personal income is likely to grow 1.2 percent this year and 3.0 percent in 2009.

“The economy will not grow in first half of the year,” Yun says. “However, the combination of recent fiscal stimulus enactment and the lagged impact of monetary policy will help jump start the economy in the second half.”

—REALTOR® magazine online
Copyright THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® Headquarters: 430 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611 DC Office: 500 New Jersey Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20001 1 800 874 6500

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Long and Foster Site now has Foreclosures

The Long and Foster website now gives you the opportunity to view foreclosures that are listed in the Richmond MLS. The site is When buying foreclosure property it's best to have a realtor and real estate attorney to help you through the process. You will need to inspect the property, insure there are no existing liens, check comparable properties to prepare your offer, arrange for financing and follow up on any inconsistencies or decrepancies that you encounter. Buying forclosed property can be rewarding, but proceed with caution. If I can be of any assistance please do not hesitate to call.

Another Gold Star for Richmond

Three Virginia cities make nation's 'Best for Business' list
Blacksburg, Charlottesville, and Richmond have made Forbes magazine's annual short list of metro areas that are business-friendly in the U.S.Forbes magazine has for the tenth year in a row ranked the 200 largest metro areas according to their business acumen. Cities topping the list have solid job growth, an educated labor pool and low business costs. The calculation also includes tax, energy and office space costs, and takes into account's living cost index.Six of the 10 top metro areas are in and around state capitals.Here are the magazine's top choices (in ranking order):
Best Metros:
Raleigh, N.C.
Boise, Idaho
Fort Collins, Colo.
Des Moines, Iowa
Lexington, Ky.
Atlanta, Ga.
Richmond, Va.
Olympia, Wash.
Spokane, Wash.
Knoxville, Tenn.
Best Smaller Metros:
Sioux Falls, S.D.
Iowa City, Iowa
Bloomington, Ind.
Columbia, Mo.
Bismarck, N.D.
Morgantown, W.Va.
Rapid City, S.D.
Greenville, N.C.
Charlottesville, Va.
Blacksburg, Va.
Source: Forbes, Kurt Badenhausen (03/19/2008)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Need help searching for someone to do repairs around the house.

Have you ever been in a situation where you didn't know where to turn to hire someone to do home repairs? Look no more. Long and Foster's website, and are great places to start. While Angieslist requires a contract the Long and Foster Home Services Connection is free. Simply scroll down to the bottom of the home page and find Home Services Connection under the Services heading. Long and Foster screens and qualifies every vendor on the list to insure you get the best service. You can also handle transfering your utilities on this site. So next time you have repairs and no where to turn...check out these sites.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Business/Services that you would like posted

This site was designed to offer a boutique of products and services that would be useful to homeowners as well as report on topline real estate information. Please click on "comment" and briefly describe your business along with your contact information. If you have a website, I will add it as a link. Together we can create a "depot" that will be a resource for all homeowners.
Thanks for your addition.

Richmond Makes the Top 10 list of Best Place for House Bargains

Daily Real Estate News February 11, 2008
10 Best Places for House Bargains The best place to get a bargain on a home is an area where there is healthy job growth and more houses available than people to buy them.These are markets “where you have high inventories but pliable borrowers, with lenders willing to deal,” says Anthony Sanders, a professor of finance at Arizona State University.Forbes magazine went looking for markets where the damage from risky lending hasn’t been as dramatic as in some parts of the country and where employment growth will burn off an over-abundance of inventory quickly.Here are what the magazine considers the 10 best cities for bargain house hunters.
1. Salt Lake City, Utah. Developers have gotten ahead of the demand, but the city is adding jobs more quickly than practically any place else in the country.
2. Raleigh, N.C. Another place where building got ahead of the curve, but the economy is expanding quickly.
3. Orlando, Fla. This part of the state had fewer speculators than Miami and Tampa, and it’s adding jobs faster than those cities as well.
4. Charlotte, N.C. The financial industry is moving here, adding jobs, but the inventory of unsold homes is still significant.
5. Phoenix. This city had a high foreclosure rate, but the economy is growing and people are still moving here in large numbers.
6. Seattle. The city’s port has profited from the weak dollar, but the housing price growth has slowed.
7. Las Vegas. This market was hit hard by foreclosures, but the growing economy makes the huge inventory less toxic than it is many places.
8. Jacksonville, Fla. The foreclosure rate is slower than the rest of the Florida cities, making the large inventory likely to improve.
9. Richmond, Va. There is only one foreclosure per 1,103 households here (compared to 1 in 33 in Detroit). Still, there are plenty of homes on the market.
10. Houston. Homes in Houston have long been a bargain. While there have been plenty of foreclosures, the population and the economy are expanding.
Source: Forbes, Matt Woolsey (02/07/08)
Reprinted from REALTOR magazine online by permission of the National Association of Realtors. Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Mortgage Demand reachs 4 year high

Daily Real Estate News January 16, 2008Mortgage Demand Reaches 4-Year HighDemand for mortgages surged last week, hitting its highest level in nearly four years as interest rates fell, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported today.Mortgage application volume reached 906.4, an increase of 28.4 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis, up from 706 one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the index increased 64.8 percent compared with the previous week, which was shortened by the New Year holiday and was up 39 percent compared with the same week a year ago.The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 62.7 percent of total applications, up from 57.7 percent the previous week. Adjustable-rate mortgages were only 9.2 percent of total applications.Meanwhile, mortgage rates slipped during the week. They were:
30-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 5.62 percent from 5.73 percent.
15-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 5.07 percent from 5.21 percent.
1-year ARMs decreased to 5.77 percent from 6.04 percentSource: Mortgage Bankers Association (01/16/08)