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Ask the Expert

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I am 35 and I’ve never owned a home. Now that I am paying attention to mortgage rates, I see an increase. Should I wait — or worry?

Simply put: It’s a fantastic time to buy (and with home prices rising it is a great time to sell, too).

You are at exactly the right age, on the high end of the millennial generation, to buy a home.

It’s true that in the last couple of years, a string of incremental rate increases by The Federal Reserve has put the focus on the housing market, where mortgage rates reflect those rate increases. Some assume that, as The Fed raises short-term interest rates, mortgage rates also rise and buyers are scared off by higher monthly payments.


While payments do indeed rise, how serious is it? Sometimes it’s not as much as you might think. If you are not paying cash for your house, you have to get a loan anyway. It’s not unreasonable to ask how much a slight raise in rates actually affects your payments.

Online mortgage calculators let you plug in your purchase price, down payment, length of loan, and interest rate. A 30-year fixed loan for $200,000 at 4.5 percent results in a payment of $1,013. Here we aren’t factoring in a down payment, taxes, or insurance, which vary. (As you move along in your home purchase, you will have all that information.)

But compare that rate to the same loan for the same amount at 4.75 percent. The monthly payment is $1,043 — a difference of $30 a month. When you find the right home, a jump of $30 probably won’t be a deal killer.

Right now, The Fed has signaled that interest rates may not rise in the near term, since inflation is low. But remember, rates do rise and fall over time. In 1999, the mortgage rate was 6.98 percent. In the 1980s, rates were a catastrophic 18 percent. A rate of about 4.5 to 4.75 percent isn’t the lowest historically but it certainly is affordable and nowhere near the highest.

Have no fear about buying today. Inflation is low and even if it rises, your mortgage payment won’t.

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Real Estate

Home prices rise quickly across Virginia while inventories see modest gains

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According to the May 2021 Home Sales Report released by Virginia REALTORS®, home sales and prices continue to rise steadily across the commonwealth.

There were 14,145 home sales in Virginia in May 2021. This is a 35.9% increase from May 2020, when the housing market was significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, it is not surprising to see a substantial year-over-year increase in home sales this May. Sales were up 5.5% between April and May this year.

Inventory increased slightly this month. At the end of May 2021, there were 18,000 active listings statewide, which is 32.9% lower than the level at the end of May 2020. However, the number of month-end active listings grew by 3.5% between April and May.

The statewide median home sales price was $367,200 in May, up 16.6% from a year ago. Prices have been rising quickly for much of the past year in Virginia. While prices are rising for all housing types, the most significant pressure on home prices is coming at higher price points. Overall, statewide, the average sold-to-list price ratio was 102.4%, meaning that, on average, homes sold for 2.4% more than the asking price. But homes selling for $800,001 or more sold for 3.6% more than the asking price, on average.


While Virginia’s housing market continued to be very busy in May, there may be signs of an approaching cooling. “The typical May sales bump was more modest this year than it has been in more typical years,” says Virginia REALTORS® Chief Economist Lisa Sturtevant, PhD. “There are signs that demand might cool a bit in 2021, and there are also indications that supply could be on the rise. These changes could signal a return to a more ‘normal’ market by 2022, which means more choices and a slightly slower pace for buyers.”

The Virginia Home Sales Report is published by Virginia REALTORS®. Click here to view the full May 2021 Home Sales Report.

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Warren County Market Report – May 2021 with Jen Avery

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Watch this video for a quick summary of Warren County real estate for May 2021. The seller’s market continues. Prices continue to be $100,000+ over tax assessed value on many listings and you will still experience a bidding war offering over asking price. Charts demonstrate the changes in the market, so be sure to click play!

BUYER TIP: Buyers, consider talking to your lender about appraisal “gap” strategy. This would be an approach to cover the difference if the appraisal comes in low. To remain competitive in a market where you go up against multiple offers, appraisal “gap” strategies can help your offer win.

In general summary:

  1. New Listings are UP 12.9%.
  2. New Pending UP 45.7% (April 2021) vs 0.0% (May 2021)
  3. Closed sales are UP 32.9%
  4. Average Median Sold $315,000
  5. Average Days on Market 15

*If you would like a copy of this report emailed to you, please send request to jenaveryrealtor@gmail.com.


Resource: May 2021 Market Stats by ShowingTime
Bright MLS: Statistics calculated June 2021

Jennifer Avery, REALTOR® “Your Happy Home Expert!”
BPOR, SRS, CNE, E-Pro Certified | Licensed in VA
jenaveryrealtor@gmail.com | 540-683-0790
CRUM REALTY, INC| 318 S Loudoun St, Winchester VA 22601 | 540-662-0400

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5 small gestures that will make you a good neighbor

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To truly feel at home in your community, getting along with your neighbors is a must. Here are five simple things you can do that will help you make a good impression.

1. Be courteous. Greet your neighbors when you pass them on the street or at the park, and take the time to ask them how they’re doing.

2. Offer your help. Whether you shovel an elderly neighbor’s driveway or collect parcels left on someone’s doorstep while they’re away, lending a hand will certainly be appreciated.

3. Be mindful of noise. Mow your lawn and do other noisy tasks at a reasonable hour. Also, don’t let your dog bark unnecessarily, and keep music at a moderate volume at all times. If you’re planning a party or a major renovation, let your neighbors know.


4. Keep your yard clean. Don’t leave old tires and other trash lying around your yard. In addition, be sure to maintain your lawn and garden, so they don’t become overgrown.

5. Respect property boundaries. Take steps to ensure you don’t encroach on your neighbors’ property. This means being careful about where you place hedges, fences, and trees as well as making sure your pets stay in your own yard.

Finally, if you’re new to the neighborhood, or if others have recently moved in nearby, don’t hesitate to introduce yourself. This way you can start the relationship on the right foot.

 

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Virginia’s housing market a leader in economic recovery following COVID-19

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Virginia’s booming real estate industry has been a leading contributor to the commonwealth’s economic recovery following the recession triggered by COVID-19.

According to Virginia’s Secretary of Finance, the Commonwealth of Virginia is expecting a half-billion budget surplus by the end of June. The state’s economy has far outpaced expectations during the COVID-19 pandemic and recession, and a major reason has been the strength of the residential real estate market. The housing market boom has contributed to a 40% surge in state revenues in taxes paid on deeds and other court filings.

“Strong homes sales activity in Virginia has been fueled by steady growth in higher-wage professional jobs and historically low mortgage rates,” according to Lisa Sturtevant, PhD, Virginia REALTORS® Chief Economist. “The strength of the residential real estate market has been essential to the resiliency of the state’s economy.”

Virginia REALTORS® worked closely with lawmakers to ensure the industry would remain open in the commonwealth. “Our association has worked with the Governor’s office, legislators, and regulatory agencies throughout the pandemic to ensure our members could stay in business. These efforts have been instrumental in making sure Virginia’s sales and rental markets did not stagnate or atrophy but were able to remain healthy and contribute significantly to Virginia’s economic recovery,” says Virginia REALTORS® CEO Terrie Suit.


“Over the past 16 months, while other states shuttered real estate through severe restrictions, our 36,000 members responded by pivoting our business practices, models, and client interactions, adhering to the strict guidelines of the CDC. By adopting new technologies and procedures, the REALTORS® of Virginia continue to help lead the way through the economic recovery,” says Virginia REALTORS® 2021 President Beth Dalton.

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Discover what your new neighborhood has to offer

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If you recently moved or getting ready to move, it’s a good idea to explore your new neighborhood as soon as possible. In addition to familiarizing yourself with the street names, you should look for anything that might be useful or interesting. As you walk around, keep an eye out for:

• Essential and convenient services like police and fire stations, grocery stores, bus stops, pharmacies, health care facilities, hair salons, clothing boutiques, markets, gas stations, and more.

• Places to visit such as museums, art galleries, beaches, parks, theaters, restaurants, coffee shops, microbreweries, bowling alleys, and other fun venues.

• Recreational opportunities offered by music schools, theater groups, educational training centers, soccer clubs, libraries, swimming pools, bicycle networks, and other organizations.


Feel free to take notes as you explore. You should also consider greeting your neighbors and asking them what places are a must-see in the area. Enjoy!

Learn more online
Visit your municipality’s website to get the waste collection schedule, find out what community services are available, and learn about upcoming local events.

 

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How to prepare your home for a photo shoot

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Since most prospective homebuyers start their search online, it’s vital that your property is listed with beautiful, high-quality images. In addition to hiring a professional who specializes in real estate photography, here’s what you can do to make sure your home looks its best.

Front yard
Remove cars, garbage cans, bikes, and other items from the driveway. Use the garage for storage as needed. You should also mow the lawn and freshen up the landscaping.

Kitchen
Clear the countertops of all clutter including knife blocks, soap dispensers, and paper towel holders. Leave out no more than one small appliance. Hide the garbage can in a closet and take everything off the fridge.

Bathrooms
Close the toilet seat cover, put out fresh towels, and remove mats to show off the floor. Install a neutral shower curtain. Clear the countertop, bathtub, and shower of all personal items including soap, toothbrushes, and shampoo bottles.


Living spaces
Clear all surfaces of everything but decorative pieces. Hide or replace personal photos with landscape shots. Wash windows and open the blinds and curtains. Check for burned-out bulbs, and make sure all your lighting is the same temperature.

Bedrooms
Make the beds and neatly arrange throw pillows or blankets. Remove all clutter from the nightstands and dressers. If you have walk-in closets you want to feature, make sure they’re presentable.

Backyard
Vacuum the pool, clean the barbecue, and neatly arrange the patio furniture. Trim shrubs, rake leaves, and consider adding fresh flowers to your garden. Make sure all toys and tools are out of sight.

By following these tips, your photos are sure to make a good first impression. If you want to maximize your home’s appeal to potential buyers, consider having it staged by a professional before the photoshoot.

A note for pet owners
Make arrangements, so your pets aren’t around during the shoot. This will make it easier for the photographer to work. Store bedding, toys, and other supplies out of view. Pick up droppings in the backyard as needed.

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Front Royal
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Upcoming Events

Jun
21
Mon
9:00 am Stop Motion Animation @ Code Ninjas
Stop Motion Animation @ Code Ninjas
Jun 21 @ 9:00 am – Jun 25 @ 12:00 pm
Stop Motion Animation @ Code Ninjas
Stop Motion Animation Experiment with video production through a variety of mediums including Claymation, LEGO® Minifigures, pipe cleaner creatures, and much more! Ninjas will capture images frame-by-frame and produce videos in a rapid prototyping style.[...]
Jun
23
Wed
12:00 pm FRWRC Women In Networking @ ONLINE
FRWRC Women In Networking @ ONLINE
Jun 23 @ 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm
FRWRC Women In Networking @ ONLINE
CLICK HERE for link to attend. Guest: Patty Fadeley, Blue Ridge Hospice *Event will also be Live on Facebook Topic: Blue Ridge Hospice FREE VIRTUAL EVENT “More than just another networking group”. FRWRC WIN is[...]
4:00 pm Messy Makers and Art Adventures ... @ microWave Project
Messy Makers and Art Adventures ... @ microWave Project
Jun 23 @ 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Messy Makers and Art Adventures for Kids @ microWave Project
We are bringing back two of our most popular classes for the month of June, Messy Makers and Art Adventures! Messy Makers returns for the month of June on Wednesdays from 4-5 pm. With the warm weather[...]
7:00 pm Front Royal Cardinals Baseball Game @ Bing Crosby Stadium
Front Royal Cardinals Baseball Game @ Bing Crosby Stadium
Jun 23 @ 7:00 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Cardinals Baseball Game @ Bing Crosby Stadium
Front Royal Cardinals Baseball vs. Winchester Royals Wednesday, June 23rd @ 7 PM Bing Crosby Stadium Warren County Night at the Bing
Jun
24
Thu
5:30 pm Daisy Girl Scout Open House @ Living Water Christian Church
Daisy Girl Scout Open House @ Living Water Christian Church
Jun 24 @ 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm
Daisy Girl Scout Open House @ Living Water Christian Church
The newly formed Daisy Girls Scout troop for Warren County is hosting an Open House on June 24th, 2021, from 5:30 PM to 6:30 PM. It is open to girls in Pre-school through 1st grade.[...]
7:00 pm Front Royal Cardinals Baseball Game @ Bing Crosby Stadium
Front Royal Cardinals Baseball Game @ Bing Crosby Stadium
Jun 24 @ 7:00 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Cardinals Baseball Game @ Bing Crosby Stadium
Front Royal Cardinals Baseball vs. Purceville Cannons Thursday, June 24th @ 7 PM Bing Crosby Stadium
Jun
26
Sat
all-day Great American Campout @ Sky Meadows State Park
Great American Campout @ Sky Meadows State Park
Jun 26 – Jun 27 all-day
Great American Campout @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area. Don’t miss your chance to camp out in the beautiful historic Mount Bleak backyard. See all that Sky Meadows has to offer through activities beginning at noon on Saturday and running until noon[...]
9:00 am Summer Wild Edible Plants: Earth... @ Sky Meadows State Park
Summer Wild Edible Plants: Earth... @ Sky Meadows State Park
Jun 26 @ 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Summer Wild Edible Plants: Earth Connection Series @ Sky Meadows State Park
Meet at the Carriage Barn. Sky Meadows’ summer landscape comes alive with the bounty of nature. Join professional outdoor instructor Tim MacWelch to learn about the tasty wild edible plants of the Crooked Run Valley.[...]
Jun
27
Sun
5:00 pm Front Royal Cardinals Baseball Game @ Bing Crosby Stadium
Front Royal Cardinals Baseball Game @ Bing Crosby Stadium
Jun 27 @ 5:00 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Cardinals Baseball Game @ Bing Crosby Stadium
Front Royal Cardinals Baseball vs. Waynesboro Generals Sunday, June 27th @ 5 PM & 7:30 PM Double Header Game Bing Crosby Stadium
6:00 pm SCUMC Vacation Bible School @ Stephens City United Methodist Church
SCUMC Vacation Bible School @ Stephens City United Methodist Church
Jun 27 @ 6:00 pm – Jul 1 @ 8:15 pm
SCUMC Vacation Bible School @ Stephens City United Methodist Church
Dates: June 27 – July 1 Time: 6 pm to 8:15pm each night Place: Stephens City UM Church on Main Street Theme: Wilderness Escape – Moses leads the Israelite’s through the desert Ages: 4 years[...]