Hampton Roads Real Estate News & Market Trends

We hope you’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to things to do! That’s because we care about the community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!

Aug. 10, 2020

Home Inspections

You might be surprised to learn that a home inspection can vary widely, depending on your home's square footage. It can also vary from inspector to inspector. Understanding why you need a home inspection, who should be conducting the inspection, and what an inspector looks for during an inspection will help you know what to expect.

Whether you believe it or not, buying a home is a HUGE DEAL. It is probably the single largest investment you’ll make throughout your lifetime. So, to deter any surprises, you’ll want to learn about the home you are about to purchase (as well as ensure your current home is ready for selling). This is where the home inspection comes in. As per the American Society of Home Inspectors, a home inspection is an objective visual examination of the physical structure and systems of a house, from the roof to the foundation.


How Much Does a Typical Home Inspection Cost?

Home inspectors are in a professional service business; because of this, the home inspection costs can range by location and by individual provider. In general, you’re looking at spending approximately $200-$500 for a 2,000 square foot home. 


In the Hampton Roads area, we see an average of about $353 for a home inspection. The typical range for an average home is between $301 and $426. On the low end, you may pay around $200 for a very small house, or up to $520 for a larger home. 


While you might be hesitant to put out the money for a home inspection, it’s important to remember that home inspectors are always certified and have the necessary training to ensure that homeowners and families are kept safe. A home inspection provides you with essential information about the state of the home and gives you peace of mind, whether you are buying or selling.


Home Inspections Help The Buyer

When you have extended an offer to purchase a home, but no inspection has been required, it is always a good idea to request one. A home inspection gives you an inside glimpse of how well the home’s systems work and highlights any places that may require repairs.


As a buyer, you’re going to want your home to be inspected thoroughly to include, but not limited to - the heating and cooling systems, plumbing, electrical, foundation, roof, siding, and windows. 


If for any reason, the inspectors deem the house unsafe after inspections, the lender will more than likely require those items to be fixed before providing funds to close. The buyer and the seller can negotiate who handles and pays for the repairs. Any issues identified during the inspection will need to be scheduled and fixed prior to the closing date. 


Home Inspections When You Are Ready to Sell

If you have been mulling over the idea of selling your home, the cost of a home inspection will likely be worth it. There could be maintenance items that have been deferred, ignored or even conditions of the homes you decided to live with because you weren’t too concerned about them. However, now that you’re thinking of selling your home, you need to make sure that your home is in pristine condition for the prospective buyer to get funding. 


By performing the home inspection beforehand, you have the luxury of time and gain some control over costs to repair any issues. You can hire licensed professionals to get the job done prior to listing your home.


When you fix safety and maintenance issues before you list your house, it helps you set and hold to a higher sales price, and the new homeowner has confidence they won’t have to pay for any repairs in the short-term. Your house will be move-in ready, which is vital to many of today’s buyers. 

Posted in Home inspection
Aug. 3, 2020

Staycation Ideas - Make Your Home or City the Best Vacation Spot

Summertime brings with it the promise of warmer weather, longer days, and dreams of vacations. Unfortunately, sometimes, traveling just isn’t possible (especially if it's 2020). So what do you do? Simple...vacation local.

Your home or local city provides you the best space to turn your family vacation into a reality. Whether it’s backyard camping or a planned visit to a winery or brewery near you, you can easily transform your home or city into the ultimate summer vacation spot


Backyard Camping

One of the more popular staycation ideas is pitching a tent in your backyard and creating your own camping adventure. Backyard camping is not only affordable but there are plenty of fun and easy options for tent set up. Check out this tent that promises an almost instant set up in 60 seconds! A few enjoyable activities associated with backyard camping are making s’mores and telling scary stories around the campfire. Here’s a budget-friendly firepit and don’t forget the s’mores roasting set! 


Themed Movie Night

Create your very own movie theater inside or outside of your home. Movie nights at home can be more enjoyable and less expensive than an actual trip to the theater. Choose a movie night theme like 80s movies or watch a trilogy or series. Make special movie-themed snacks and homemade popcorn with a large pot or a popcorn machine. We recommend this cool outdoor projector and screen


Plan a Tourist Adventure in Your Own City or a Neighboring One

There are plenty of places to explore and visit not too far from home. Reserve a day or whole weekend to hit a few spots and explore your own city or one that is close by. There are often admission discounts for residents and museums and local attractions also run specials during the summer months. Click here for some places to put on your list to visit in the Hampton Roads area. 


Visit a Few Local Wineries or Breweries

Local wineries and breweries seem to be popping up everywhere from small towns to larger cities. Research some local spots that offer tours and plan a day where you and your spouse along with several other couples can enjoy what some places have to offer. No wineries or breweries in close proximity? No problem! Plan an evening at your home and invite some of your closest friends to take part in wine or beer night. Ask your guests to bring their favorite alcoholic beverage and provide the snacks. This charcuterie board is perfect for pairing cheese, crackers, and fruit with wine or use this recipe for a delicious pub snack mix for your beer lovers. 


Posted in Staycation
July 27, 2020

Make the Best Offer on Your Future Home

You did it...you found your dream home and now you’re ready to make an offer to seal the deal. But how can you ensure that your offer stands out amongst the rest? How do you make your offer more appealing to the selling party?


Whether you’re dealing with a competitive housing market or a cautious seller, getting your offer accepted requires creativity, compromise, and a strong strategy.  So how can you convince a seller to side in your favor? Check out these strategies to help you seal the deal and make “home sweet home” a reality.


1. Get pre-approved for a home loan

Getting pre-approved will show the home seller you can actually afford to buy the home. This is an important step for a buyer in any situation, but it’s even more critical if you want to make the strongest case that your offer is solid. 


2. Add an escalation addendum 

When making an offer on a house, you can stipulate that if anyone beats your offer you’ll raise your offer by a certain amount, with a cap as high as you’re willing to go. This also helps you avoid overpaying, but still keeps you in the game in case there are other offers coming in.


3. Waive contingencies 

Contingencies are certain things that must be met in order to close a deal on a property – such as a home inspection. In multiple offer situations, buyers can waive some or all contingencies to reduce the seller’s risk and speed up the home selling process. Generally, the fewer contingencies you have, the stronger, but riskier, your offer.


4. Increase the amount you’re willing to put down

A higher down payment typically means less financing issues with a mortgage lender and also less risk for a seller. So when you are wondering how to make an offer on a home and win, a higher down payment can make the difference. Presenting documents such as pay stubs, tax forms, and your 401(k) balance can also show that not only are you prepared to put more down, but you also have the funds to do it.


5. Be flexible with the closing date

If your lender allows and you’ve been through underwriting, you can promise to close quicker (15–21 days). Generally, the faster the closing process, the stronger your offer. However, the seller may be looking for a longer closing process. In that case, letting the home seller know that you’re flexible with the closing date could allow them the much needed time to move their belongings into their next house.

Contact us on our website or give us a call at 757.452.8974 and we’ll help you with your offer!

Posted in Home Buyers
July 20, 2020

What Happens When You Don't Change Your Air Filters

What Happens When You Don't Change Your Air Filters


Many think that trying to get the most out of their home is a long drawn out process, but really it is as simple and easy as changing out your air filters. Homeowners that choose to ignore the filters in their heating and air conditioning systems are at risk of higher energy cost, damaging expensive equipment, and diminishing indoor air quality. 


There are many particles floating in the air around us at the microscopic level: flakes of skin, pet dander and the fumes and residue from cooking, to name just a few. These particles increase with more activity and more time spent in your home; so you can imagine what has built up in your home these last few months. 


Changing your air filters is one of the most important and overlooked basic home maintenance tasks. If you want to keep the air in your home clean and avoid unnecessary repairs, consider replacing your air filters every 30 to 90 days.


There are five most seen harmful effects of not changing your air filters when they need to be changed.


1. You Spend Money on Energy Costs Without Seeing the Benefits

No matter the rate of airflow, your HVAC system is either running or not running. If the conditioned air sits around the coils, then you are heating or cooling the same air and not pushing it through into the ducts. Slow-moving air in the ducts will not stay the same temperature by the time it reaches each room.


With a dirty air filter, expect to increase the run-time of your HVAC system while only changing air temperature in small increments.


2. Your Air Conditioning System Runs Longer, Gets Clogged and Fails

Air conditioning repair can be very expensive. All of the air in your home, along with airborne particles, cycle through this single point multiple times in a single day. Similar to dust that settles on a flat surface, the spinning fan blade and air pressure in your HVAC system can force particles onto different surfaces, crevices, heating and cooling coils, and electrical and mechanical components.


The longer particles remain in the air, the more likely they will build up inside the unit, block air flow and cause damage.


HVAC components are engineered and manufactured with an expected lifespan of 15 years. The faster you can heat or cool your home, the less you have to run your HVAC system and the longer the equipment will last.


3. Heating and Cooling the Air Takes Longer with an Old Air Filter

Your HVAC system is one of the only methods of moving air inside of your home. Consider the location of your HVAC unit relative to air vents. As air filters load, the ability for air to move through the filter diminishes.


Have you ever noticed some rooms are warmer while others are cooler in your house? Depending on the distance, hot or cold air may need to travel further through ductwork. Without adequate air flow, rooms further away may stay cold in the winter and hot in the summer, while other areas get the majority of the air flow.


4. The Air in Rooms Becomes Stagnant

When air doesn’t move, it becomes stagnant. Odors, dust, moisture and other particles sit in the same space and fall onto surfaces, into carpeting, and places you don’t see. Wiping down surfaces isn’t enough, especially if you are using a chemical spray. The ingredients in cleaners get into the air with the other particles. Just because surfaces look clean doesn’t mean the room is clean.


5. Indoor Air Quality Gets Even Worse When You Don’t Change Your Air Filter

According to the EPA, indoor air quality is on average two to five times worse than the air outdoors. In some locations, air quality can be 100 times worse than the air outdoors. Much of this results from the energy crisis in the 1970s. To save energy, we improved our methods of construction and changed the materials we used to better seal buildings.


This is good news for energy costs but bad news for our respiratory systems, especially for allergy sufferers.


Changing out filters can have a profound impact on indoor air quality, energy costs and maximizing the value of your home on the US housing market.


By taking care of your home, you are ensuring that it’s value stays intact. Keeping your home market-ready will help you to sell whenever you are ready to make that next big move. 

Contact us on our website or give us a call at 757.452.8974!

Posted in Air filters
July 13, 2020

House Hunters Look for Homes in Small Towns More than Big Cities

Pageviews of houses in small towns are surging amid the coronavirus pandemic, while big cities are staging a more modest comeback.


Americans across the nation are beginning to search small towns - suburbs of metroplexes and even towns with populations of less than 50,000 - for their new homes. While larger cities are recovering from (and working through) the coronavirus pandemic, homebuyers are steadily leaning towards small-town USA. 


During the first month of the pandemic, interest in rural areas skyrocketed while interest in large cities decreased. Perhaps the decline was a derivative of fear or just a yearning for peace and quiet away from the big city hustle and bustle. 


There was an initial influx in rural area interest, which led to a more sustainable home-buying market in small towns. Living in a suburb presents some with a better option, even those individuals with big city jobs. The commute to work isn’t bad and at the end of the day it provides a slower and more relaxed way of living.


Heather and Steve Heishman have embraced small-town America as they have recently purchased a home in Smithfield. Smithfield is a town in Isle of Wight County located in the South Hampton Roads subregion. A roughly estimated 8,000-10,000 presently live there. Smithfield definitely checks all the boxes on small town requirements. 


While Smithfield is a smaller town, new listings are still popping up almost every day. Small town home buying is predicted to remain consistent . Take a page from the Heishaman’s book and explore what Smithfield has to offer! 

Contact us on our website or give us a call at 757.452.8974. Let us find the home of your dreams!

Posted in House Hunters
July 6, 2020

Thinking of selling? Consider The Home Improvements that Matter Most to First Time Buyers


Gen Y, who make up the largest share of home buyers, are looking for properties in move-in condition and want to avoid the expense of even cosmetic renovations. That said, sellers will benefit from making the right, inexpensive updates to appeal to busy first-time buyers by making their home stand out and more competitive.


First time home buyers are looking for a place to start their life. They often respond emotionally to how they feel walking up to and through a home. They want a clean, bright space to make their own. The more aesthetically pleasing the more they will want to purchase the home. Consider a few features we’ve included to get your home noticed and boost its perceived value in a competitive market.


Enhance Curb Appeal

Make the best first impression for buyers—even before they step foot in the door—by cleaning up the exterior of the property and sprucing up curb appeal. Pressure wash if needed, add a few seasonal flowers, and make sure there no visible wood rot or paint chipping.


Create a flow

Open concept floor plans are all the rage now.  You can make homes with designated rooms or spaces feel more open by having a consistent neutral paint color throughout. Gone are the days of creams and beiges, it’s all about the greys at this point! Your Verity Group agent can tell you which shade will be the best choice for your finishes. Consistent flooring is another thing that creates a flow. Consider a hardy LVT floor throughout the main living area including bath, dining and kitchen. Having consistent paint and flooring throughout gives a home a larger, more open concept feel.


Refresh the Heart of the Home

The kitchen is considered to be the heart of the home. It is where most of the action happens. A first-time home buyer will not only be interested in the color of paint, but also the modern lighting fixtures you have just installed. You’d be amazed at how inexpensive light fixtures are on Amazon or Ikea! You can also update your kitchen by: 

  • Swapping outdated faucets and cabinet hardware for more contemporary, full-functioning styles in trending finishes, such as matte black, brushed brass, or polished nickel.
  •  Rather than completely replacing dark, dated, and worn cabinets, simply repaint them in a bright white or soft gray hue to brighten and enlarge the space.
  •  Replacing or refinishing damaged, or aged flooring with in-expensive life proof LVT


Create a Master Bedroom Retreat

Get that Instagram-worthy bedroom aesthetic by creating a light, bright, and airy feeling throughout. Replace heavy drapery with white curtains. You can also install a stylish ceiling and bedside table lighting or even create a fluffy looking bed with accent pillows.


Always remember that the amount of work into improving your home will help you appeal to the first time home buyers making their way up the ladder. The “carpet or cosmetic” allowance is really a thing of the past. Busy families would often rather pay a higher sales price at a lower interest rate, then negotiate a little off the top but have to come up with the time and money to do the improvements.


Contact us on our website or give us a call at 757.452.8974 today and we will help you find the best way to improve your home to make it the most popular on the market!

June 29, 2020

How to Increase Your Credit Score Quickly and Buy Your First House

Being a first-time homebuyer is tougher these days, as banks and mortgage lenders are tightening their lending standards. While credit requirements for a mortgage can vary, a credit score of 620 is typically the minimum credit score needed for a conventional loan. However, lenders are raising the required minimum credit score and are now looking for at least a 700 credit score from new borrowers. 


So, if you’re exploring the housing market and looking to buy soon, you may need to boost your score fast to meet these new requirements. Check out these strategies for how to increase your credit score quickly, so you can move forward in your home buying journey.


  1. Clean Up Your Credit Report

First, find out your credit score by getting a credit report. There are sites where you can get a free credit report. They provide credit reports from the three credit bureaus Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion at no charge to you. You will then need to look through those reports, inspecting them for mistakes. Errors could include an incorrect name or address, credit lines that don’t belong to you, duplicate entries, and incorrect account status.


Pro Tip: Correcting errors on your credit reports are not only important to your credit profile but it is also your legal right as a consumer to have any accounts on your credit report, reported accurately.


  1. Lower your credit utilization ratio. 

It’s recommended to keep your total credit utilization ratio below 30%. So if your credit utilization rate is high, paying down your credit card debt is a quick way to lower that rate, boost your score, and proceed in your home buying process. 


You can also make multiple payments to your credit accounts. You can keep charging everything to your card, but make payments at least twice a month to keep your balance low, which will result in lowering your credit utilization ratio.


Also, when your credit limit goes up and your balance stays the same, it immediately decreases your utilization. Of course, this only works if you keep your balances low. 


  1. Pay Bills on Time

No strategy to bump up your score will work if you end up paying your bills late. Why is this? Your payment history makes up 35% of your credit score ― the most heavily weighted factor. So not making payments on time is the single worst thing you could do. Reminder – you’ll want to pay all bills on time. Not just credit card bills, but also your student loans, rent, utilities, phone bills, and so on. 


Unfortunately, there’s no way to predict the exact timing for when your credit score will go up or by how much. By following these steps you should be well on your way to improving your score and purchasing your first home. Contact us on our website or give us a call at 757.452.8974 today!

June 22, 2020

Homebuying Demand Grows Stronger

It seems that nothing can deter home buyers these days...not even a worldwide pandemic. At the beginning of June, we saw that the rising demand was up about 25%. There were predictions that stated that the COVID-19 pandemic would cause the market to dip, but no one has really seen that. (Especially in Hampton Roads). There has been a steady decline in listing inventory over the last three years, while there has been a steady rise in the average price per square feet. Sellers were hesitant to list their homes for fear of exposure, and families were waiting on orders to be able to search for houses or list them. 


So with a strong homebuying demand, you can see that inventory must tick up. Sellers are always more careful than buyers. They are cautious of the ROI they’ll receive if they put their house on the market. With the pandemic, sellers have become even more cautious to list their homes because of potential health risks. If you’re a seller, we know how to market and protect you during this time.  We’ve added 3D tours with downloadable floorplans standard for our listings.  Our open houses are COVID compliant and we’re providing masks and hand sanitizer.  If you’re a buyer, we’ve got you covered.  Three of us divided and conquered last week's video showing houses to our out of town military family.  With the Verity Group, you have a team working towards the best real estate solution for your family. We’ll help partner you with the right lender for quick closings, low rates, lender credits, whatever you need specifically to be competitive in this market.


But even though demand is strong now, no one can say for sure what the long-term outlook is. The whole real estate market needs to be looked at from week to week as opposed to month to month because the changes are ever-present. Unfortunately, many jobs that were lost in the past couple of months are not coming back. Those who were supposed to buy homes have entirely backed out, but the upswing is in full effect and others are going to jump right into the growing economy and invest in the market. 


If you are a buyer or seller and you’re looking for your next step. Contact us on our website or give us a call at 757.452.8974 today!

June 15, 2020

How to Check the Square Footage of Your Home

If you’re looking at homes online that you would like to purchase, you make get a little disillusioned by the amount of square footage that home actually has. A house that sounds roomy and spacious may actually only have 800 of its square feet contained in a four foot tall dirt floor basement...probably not what you’re looking for. 


Why the conflicting information? Well, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) guidelines on how to calculate a home’s square footage are considered the standard, but there are no official laws that govern this process. In addition, some Multiple Listing Services (MLS) report all finished and unfinished square footage of a house as one number, adding to the confusion. Since the rules aren’t standard, some listing agents just post their best guess on a home’s square footage. As a result, buyers and their agents often have to investigate.


If you love a home, does it matter if the 2,000 square foot charmer turns out to be officially 1,600 sq ft in length? Since square footage is used to determine a home’s market value, it can matter a lot. When it comes time for you to sell, 400 fewer feet in measurement can impact the price you’ll get, particularly in a buyer’s market.


Verity wants to help you understand how the square footage of a home actually works, so we have created this guide to explain. 


What To Do As A Buyer


  1. Start by referring to your city’s building department records. Many city and county records are now available online, which makes getting this info much easier than it used to be. Some updates – like unpermitted remodeling – may not be reflected in the records, but it will still provide a good baseline.


  1. Familiarize yourself with basic ANSI guidelines for calculating square footage for single-family homes. Practices can vary slightly from market to market, but these rules apply to most areas in the country:

  • Below grade spaces (basements, dens, etc.) do not usually count toward a home’s square footage. Even a finished basement can’t be counted toward a home’s Gross Living Area (GLA) but it can be noted separately in the listings total area.

  • The ANSI method specifies measuring from the exterior of the house, but the wall width is not usually subtracted to account for actual living space.

  • Stairways and closet areas are included in the square footage length.

  • Finished attic square footage is included if an area has at least seven minimum feet of clearance.

  • Covered, enclosed porches can only be included if they are heated using the same system as the rest of the house.

  • Garages, pool houses, guest houses or any rooms that require you to leave the finished area of the main house to gain access are not counted.


Check it Yourself.


As a buyer, it can be helpful to know how to calculate square footage of a house yourself; just multiply the length and width of all applicable rooms in the home. All you’ll need to get started is a 100 sq ft tape measure, some graph paper, and a pencil. 


  1. Assign a unit of measure. Assign a unit of measure to each square on the paper (a foot, for example) and measure to the nearest tenth of a foot.

  2. Pick a wall. Pick a wall and begin making your way around the interior perimeter of the house in one direction, drawing lines accordingly on the graph paper.


  1. Then, go back over your floor plan, multiply the rectangular areas, and add them all up to get your final number. If your calculation includes an area that is not permissible, don’t forget to subtract it out.

Finally, remember that while square footage is important to your home value, don’t focus on it at the expense of style or your emotional response to it. Do you like the design and floorplan? How about the location? Are there rooms you absolutely love? Numbers are important, but they are no substitute for the intangibles that make a house feel like a home.Contact us on our website or give us a call at 757.452.8974 today!

June 8, 2020

Newly Built Homes Make Up Largest Share of Market

With the supply of existing homes sinking, new properties now make up a bigger piece of the pie. We are starting to see that 1 in 5 homes on the market has been a newly built home. That’s up from closer to 1 in 6 last year and represents the largest share since at least 2012.


The inventory of existing homes has plummeted amid economic uncertainty and health concerns fueled by the coronavirus pandemic, with an increasing number of Americans choosing to delist their homes or not even put them up for sale in the first place. Meanwhile, the supply of new-construction homes has seen a relatively small drop, as builders and homeowners approach home selling differently.


Builders are focused on a bottom line and running a business. They need to clear their inventory as quickly as possible whenever necessary. Homeowners and new home purchasers, on the other hand, make the decision to move, list their home and sell it when the time is right for the right price. 


Still, builders have been putting fewer houses on the market than they have been as they’ve had to halt projects amid restrictions on construction activity and permitting delays. New listings of newly constructed homes fell 12% month over month in April, though that pales in comparison to the 36.3% slide in new listings of existing homes.


With that, it would seem that many buyers are backing off and taking their purchasing a bit slower. Its also interesting to note that while prices of new homes slipped, existing home prices went up. Normally when it comes to prices, new homes are hit harder than existing homes because they tend to be less affordable. This has caused more people who are purchasing to buy new homes on the lower end of the new-construction market which brings down average price. 


In any case, New home purchasers need representation when purchasing new construction or custom building sites. The site agent represents the builder 100%, so it's important that the buyer has representation for fair negotiation to ensure that someone is representing their best interest as well. 

The housing market is becoming more interesting to navigate, but Verity is ready to take on the task. Contact us on our website or give us a call at 757.452.8974 if you’re interested in buying new construction!