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New Listing on Golf Course

by Desi Sowers

Proud Colonial home sits just by the 17th hole at Auburn Hills Golf Club - with almost 5,000 square feet there is certainly room for the whole family!

Call today to schedule your private tour of this lovely home.


New Christiansburg Listing

by Desi Sowers

Conveniently located to schools, shopping and restaurants in Christiansburg, this home is a Smart Buy!


What's In the Foreclosure Prevention Plan

by posted by Desi Sowers

The Obama administration yesterday released its long-awaited plan to stem foreclosures. It's organized into three categories:

1) Help for homeoners making their payments but at risk of default and foreclosure. Homeowners with a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan would be eligible to refinance as long as their mortgage doesn't exceed 105 percent of the home's current market value. Currently owners need to have at least 20 percent equity. Potential impact: 4-5 million households.

2) Help for homeowners already in default and in need of loan modification. For lenders that voluntarily agree to lower a borrower's payment so that it makes up no more than 38 percent of the borrower's income, the government would share the cost of lowering the mortgage burden to 31 percent of income. Incentives to lenders to participate include a $1,000 payment. Borrowers can receive up to $1,000 as an incentive to stay current on their new mortgage. Still in the works is a proposed provision that would allow bankruptcy judges to require loan modification (known as a cramdown) as part of a household's restructuring. That provision requires legislation by Congress. Estimated potential impact: 3-4 million households.

3) Doubled resources to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. To encourage investors to buy the secondary market companies' mortgage-backed securities, the government explicitly backstops them to up to $400 billion, twice the current amount.

The plan does not provide help to investors or to homeowners who are in trouble with a second home, nor does it apply to homeowners whose mortgage is part of a private-label mortgage security that is not backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

"The administration's proposed plan, combined with provisions like the $8,000 first-time home buyer tax credit in the just-enacted American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, will help minimize foreclosures, shrink housing inventory, stabilize home values, and move the country closer to an economic recovery," says NAR President Charles McMillan.

Source: REALTOR® Magazine Online

Homeowner Perception Changing: Most No Longer in Denial about U.S. Housing Slide

by posted by Desi Sowers

American homeowners’ perceptions of the value of their own homes moved more in line with reality at the end of 2008, at least when it came to hindsight. More than half (57 percent) believe their own home lost value during the year, according to the Zillow Q4 Homeowner Confidence Survey[1]. This is markedly more than the 38 percent who believed their home’s value was declining when asked during the second quarter of 2008.

In reality, 76 percent of all U.S. homes lost value in 2008, according to analysis of the Zillow Q4 Real Estate Market Reports. With these new findings, Zillow’s Home Value Misperception Index[2] shrunk to 10 in the fourth quarter, from 16 in the third and 32 in the second quarter. An index of zero would mean homeowners’ perceptions were in line with actual values.

Homeowners May Believe a Bottom Has Been Reached

However, when asked what the near future will bring for their homes, most homeowners expressed optimism, and appear to believe that the worst may be over. According to the survey, more than two-thirds (70 percent) of homeowners believe their home’s value will either increase or stay the same in the first six months of 2009. Only 30 percent believe it will decrease.

“It’s clear that the ‘not my house’ sentiment that was so prevalent in earlier surveys is waning, and homeowners are opening their eyes to the unfortunate reality of significant losses in home values across most of the country,” said Dr. Stan Humphries, Zillow’s vice president of data and analytics. “That said, there’s a curious optimism for homeowners when asked about the future - most seem to believe we’ve hit a bottom and the worst has passed. Unfortunately, the data tells another story. With year-over-year home value losses continuing to accelerate, most areas of the country will see housing values get worse before they begin to stabilize.”

Meanwhile, homeowners’ optimism for the future does not extend to their neighbors’ homes. While 70 percent of homeowners think their own homes’ values will increase or stay the same in the first half of 2009, only 52 percent believe home values in their local market will increase or stay the same during the same time period. Nearly half (48 percent) think values in their local market will decrease, but only 30 percent believe the same will happen to their own homes.

Homeowners are still more optimistic about their local market than in the third quarter, however, when more than half (57 percent) said values in their local market would decrease in the next six months.

Homeowner Perception by Region

 Homeowner Perception of Home Value Change in Past Year by Region US 2008 Northeast Midwest South West
My Home’s Value Has Decreased 57% 58% 58% 47% 70%
My Home’s Value Has Stayed the Same 18% 20% 20% 20% 11%
My Home’s Value Has Increased 25% 23% 22% 33% 19%
Market Reality: Homes Reporting Year-over-Year Value Changes in Q4, according to Zillow
Actual Percent of Homes that Decreased 76% 71% 73% 70% 90%
Actual Percent of Homes that Stayed the Same (+/-1%) 4% 6% 5% 5% 2%
Actual Percent of Homes that Increased 20% 24% 22% 25% 9%
Q4 Home Value Misperception Index 10 3 5 14 13
Q3 Home Value Misperception Index 16 20 15 13 13
Q2 Home Value Misperception Index 32 29 31 36 23
Homeowner Perception of Own Home’s Value in Next Six Months
My Home’s Value Will Decrease 30% 30% 30% 26% 37%
My Home’s Value Will Stay the Same 43% 43% 46% 45% 38%
My Home’s Value Will Increase 27% 27% 24% 29% 25%

(NOTE: Column percentages may not total 100 percent due to rounding)

Northeasterners Have Firmest Grasp on Realities of 2008’s Housing Market

With a Misperception Index of only 3 - down from 20 in the third quarter - the perception of homeowners in the Northeast was closest to reality. Well over half (57 percent) of Northeastern homeowners believe their own home’s value declined during 2008, while 20 percent believed it stayed the same. According to Zillow’s fourth quarter data, 71 percent of homes in the Northeast declined in value during 2008.

Homeowners in the West, where values were hardest-hit, lost some of their optimism in the fourth quarter, but home values continued to edge downward, leaving Western homeowners’ perceptions among the farthest from reality with a Misperception Index of 13 (the same as last quarter). Southerners’ perceptions were farthest from reality, with a Misperception Index of 14.

RISMEDIA, February 12, 2009

Virginia Housing & Economic Trends

by Desi Sowers



Amid the national financial uncertainties and news about the economy and stock markets, the Virginia economy and housing market are out-performing the country and it is expected that the state’s economy will continue to have moderate growth in spite of the national economic turbulence.


After nearly a year of market slowdowns and home price depreciation, the housing market in the Commonwealth of Virginia exhibited signs of strength in the 3rd quarter of 2008. Sales activity was down only slightly in the 3rd quarter of 2008 compared with the 3rd quarter of 2007. Statewide, prices were up 1.4 percent over the year.


Much of the increased sales activity in 3rd quarter 2008 occurred in Northern Virginia

markets where a strong economy and drastic price drops continue to attract buyers.


Prices in many markets outside of Northern Virginia have risen slightly in the 3rd quarter of 2008 compared with the 3rd quarter of 2007. A notable slowdown in new construction

across the state in the first eight months of 2008 will put additional upward pressure on



Virginia Economic Trends


Virginia’s economy continues to perform generally well despite the national situation, although the state’s economy is moderating. A major factor in moderating job growth is the effects of the slowdown in the housing market. Following robust job growth years of 2004-2006, job growth moderated to +34,200 in 2007 and in 2008 is growing at an annualized rate of 17,000 through August. The rate of job creation appeared to moderate further in May and June, but in July and August jobs were added at an annualized rate of 19,000 per year Job growth continues to be very healthy in the services sectors and in state and local government. Sectors affected by the housing market slow down are construction, finance and real estate, and retail trade. All three sectors are contracting significantly. The Construction and Finance/Real Estate sectors are directly related to the housing downturn, while part of the retail trade decline is related to the national consumer confidence situation as well as lower sales due to fewer house refinancing.





Source: VAR

Foreclosures in Virginia


The foreclosure issue is a major one at the national level, and Virginia has not avoided the issue. However, the foreclosure problem is concentrated in the three largest metro areas of Northern Virginia, Tidewater and Richmond, and Northern Virginia is clearly experiencing the worst of this problem. As of October, 81 percent of foreclosure activity in the state was concentrated in Northern Virginia. Other metropolitan areas of the state have experienced very little of the foreclosure problem. From the chart below it is easily seen that the majority of foreclosures in the state are concentrated in Northern Virginia, and that in Northern Virginia and Tidewater foreclosures edged higher in October as compared to July. The Richmond metropolitan area has seen a decline in foreclosure activity since July. It is expected that the foreclosure problem will abate somewhat near the end of 2008 as the sub-prime mortgage resets begin to decline.


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