Real Estate Information Archive


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ZIP Codes Where Housing Sales Are Increasing

by posted by Desi Sowers

Housing sales are improving significantly in key ZIP codes around the country where prices have moderated, according to information compiled for by First American CoreLogic.

ZIP codes in California, Florida, Arizona and Nevada dominated the list, but there were also ZIP codes on the
top 25 most-improved sales list from the suburbs around Detroit and Minneapolis and in the metro areas of Atlanta and Chicago.

Inventories are shrinking and prices are stabilizing in several markets, according to the survey. Here are the top 10 ZIP codes with improved home sales:

  1. 94533, Fairfield, Calif. (Fresno)
  2. 92376, Rialto, Calif. (Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario)
  3. 91342, Slymar, Calif. (Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana)
  4. 92126, San Diego, Calif.
  5. 33914, Cape Coral, Fla. (Fort Meyers)
  6. 93065, Simi Valley, Calif. (Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura)
  7. 95123, San Jose, Calif.
  8. 85379, Surprise, Ariz. (Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale)
  9. 93722, Fresno, Calif. (Madera)
  10. 95624, Elks Grove, Calif. (Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Roseville)

Source:, Prashant Gopal (03/05/2009)

Low-Cost Fix-Ups

by posted by Desi Sowers

Home Improvements that Make Sense 

It's a strange time to be a homeowner. You've managed to hold on to your house during these tough economic times, but figuring out what to do next may be the trickiest part of all. If selling isn't part of the plan, could this be the right time to make some improvements to your home? I think it is, but with one condition. The improvements will have to make sense.

The Nuts and Bolts of It All
Making improvements to your home is never a quick and easy decision. Given today's economic climate, the decision becomes even more difficult. With so many aspects to consider, we decided to simplify things and concentrate on two – cost and the potential for adding value to your home.

Affordability is always relative to the individual. What one person can comfortably pay for may break the budget of another. For this reason we have decided to concentrate on improvements we consider to be fairly low in cost.

In addition, I thought it was necessary for the improvement to have a positive effect on your home's overall cachet. By concentrating on certain types of upgrades you'll not only create a more comfortable living space for yourself, but you'll make it more sellable if and when the time arises.

The Front Door
Repainting or replacing the front door will dramatically improve the exterior appearance of your home. It will enhance an area that everyone sees, no matter if they're driving by or walking up. Upgrading the hardware on the door is also a nice touch.

Plant the Seed
Foliage on the outside of the home carries many benefits. Among them are the addition of color and vitality to the landscaping. If the weather in your area isn't conducive for gardening at the present time, concentrate instead on acquiring potted plants for your porch or walkway. As the weather warms up, think about potential projects for the front and back yards.

Paint the Walls
The weather may not be right for painting the exterior of your home, but it's a fine time for painting the inside. Just remember that you don't have to paint every single room. Prioritize and proceed according to your budget and schedule. Think about sticking to lighter, more standardized colors. These types of colors will not only brighten the space, they'll make it look bigger.

Lighting is Everything
The ambience inside the home, especially at night, is highly dependant on lighting. Great looking lighting fixtures are a plus, but they can be expensive and don't always translate into putting out optimal light. The installation of dimmer switches is far less expensive and it allows for tremendous flexibility when it comes to lighting for mood.

Fix the Fixtures
While upgrading bathrooms is a sound investment in terms of increasing your home's value, a remodel may not be part of this year's budget. That said, don't ignore your bathrooms altogether. Fixtures such as faucets, towel racks, lights and showerheads have the ability to spruce up both the look and functionality. Throw in newly painted walls and some decorative accents and your bathroom will feel brand new.

Fawn Over Your Flooring
New flooring is major "bang for your buck" when it comes to increasing a home's value. But, once again, is there money in the budget to do it? If the answer is no, opt instead for having your carpets and hardwood floors professionally cleaned by a quality and reputable company, preferably one that's been referred by either a mortgage or real estate professional.

No Cottage Cheese
Since acoustic ceilings are no longer en vogue, removing them is a great way to improve the look of your home. You can do this project yourself, but beware. It is not only a messy endeavor, but some acoustic ceilings contain asbestos. We suggest hiring a qualified and recommended painter to do the job for you. If budget is an issue, you can always do one or two rooms at a time, as opposed to the whole house.

Windows to the World
Windows are your portals to the outside world, so it makes a lot of sense to give them a facelift. New windows not only improve your view from inside, they may just save you some money on your energy bill. While you're at it, you may also want to consider adding interior trim to your new windows, or replacing any outdated window treatments. You may be a bit surprised at how affordable these types of improvements have become. Once again, however, you can do this project one room at a time.

Rearrange for Change
One of the least expensive upgrades is a simple rearranging of your furniture and decor. It costs nothing and it might actually result in either selling or donating items you no longer like or want. Proceeds can be put toward the purchase of new items. If you need help in rearranging your home's interior, we suggest the book, Decorating for Good: A Step-by-Step Guide to Rearranging What You Already Own, by Carole Talbott.

Don't Forget the Garage
The garage is a part of the home that is often neglected. If this sounds familiar, you may want to think about organizing the interior. Any items that are no longer in use can be sold in a true "garage sale". These proceeds can go toward either repainting or replacing the garage door. Don't laugh. It's an inexpensive yet effective way to spruce up your garage's exterior.

Ihope you found these suggestions useful. Even more useful is the idea that improving and updating your home does not have to be an expensive proposition. I wish you luck and encourage you to create the brightest and most comfortable space possible.

Want to know the approximate market value of your home?  Please visit for a free Market Analysis emailed to your inbox!


Virtual Tours

by Desi Sowers

Sizing Up Remodeling Returns

by posted by Desi Sowers

Siding and window replacements and wood decks had among the highest return of project costs upon resale, according to a report prepared by research company Hanley Wood LLC in cooperation with the National Association of Realtors' Realtor Magazine.

The 2008 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report found that the average upscale fiber-cement siding replacement project cost about $13,177 and recouped about $11,424 of that cost -- or 86.7 percent -- upon resale.

Wood deck additions, which cost an average of $10,601 per project, recovered an average $8,676, or 81.8 percent of the cost upon resale, the report found.

Midrange vinyl siding replacement projects returned about 80.7 percent of project cost, followed by upscale foam-backed vinyl siding replacement at 80.4 percent, minor kitchen remodels at 79.5 percent and upscale vinyl-sided window replacements at 79.2 percent of project costs. Wood and vinyl window replacements and major kitchen remodels followed on the list of projects

NAR noted that it was the second year in a row that exterior projects recouped the highest percentage of project costs.

The report compares construction costs with resale values for 30 midrange and upscale remodeling projects -- including additions, remodels and replacements -- in 79 markets across the country, NAR reported.

The least profitable remodeling projects in terms of recouped costs include home-office remodels, sunroom additions and backup power generators, according to the report, which return from 54.4 percent to 57.1 percent of project costs, on average, according to the report.

In some cities, homeowners can recover all of their costs on projects, the report found -- some projects in Charlotte, N.C., as an example, can net more than they cost at resale, and Seattle, Jackson (Miss.) and Billings (Mont.) also topped the list of cities with a high rate of return.

The Pacific region (Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington); the West South Central region (Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas); the East South Central region (Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee); and the South Atlantic region (Washington, D.C., Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia) generally had higher recouped costs for projects than other regions in the U.S.


Price Just Reduced!

by Desi Sowers

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.


Displaying blog entries 701-710 of 778




Contact Information

Photo of Desi Sowers,  Associate Broker,  Real Estate
Desi Sowers, Associate Broker,
Certified Residential Specialist at REMAX 8
1344 N. Main Street
Blacksburg VA 24060
Phone: (540) 320-1328

Each Office Independently Owned and Operated