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!

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!

May 25, 2020

Questions to Ask When Doing a Virtual House Tour

With all the major changes that we’ve experienced this year, one of the major surges we have seen is the growing popularity of virtual home tours. There are normal questions and procedures to follow when doing a regular house tour. But this type of home buying is different for all parties involved and the standard protocol is still slightly unknown. Whether you’re looking for a starter home or trying to find a place to settle down in, the fact of the matter is your next home tour will more than likely be done virtually. We don’t ever want our clients (or any other home buyer that’s visiting our site) to feel like fish out of water so we’ve put together a few questions that should most definitely be asked when you do your first virtual house tour. 

 

Before the Tour

Before the tour, you want to be sure to ask if there is a floor plan you can print out on your end so you can follow along. This will help you get a better sense of what the rooms and the layout of the home feel like. You also want to make sure that you address connectivity issues. If for any reason the video call gets cut off during the tour and cannot reconnect, you want to be sure there is a plan in place - such as having the realtor record a video of the home instead. 

 

During the Tour

This is the part where you need to ask ALL the questions. Do any features or surfaces look worn or damaged? Can you open any curtains or blinds so I can see all the possible views? What direction is natural light coming from? In carpeted areas, can you walk around and tell me if you hear any creaking or other sounds? Every single question you can think of about your new home, you want to ask here. Don’t think you are being overbearing or asking too many questions. This is about to be the home you will probably be in for a while so you need to make sure it is practically perfect in every way for you. 

 

After the Tour

At this stage, it is important to circle back with your real estate agent and go over everything that was talked about during the tour. Before proceeding to any next step, you need to be 100% positive that the home you toured is the home you want. 

 

We hope this short guide provides you with some insight on how to go into a virtual house tour. We at The Verity Group want to be with you every step of the way. Contact us on our website or give us a call at 757.452.8974. We can talk more about questions and options to alleviate any concerns you may have.

May 18, 2020

Stimulus Checks and Housing

So by now, we hope that most of you have received your government funded stimulus check. In case you have no idea what I’m talking about, let’s recap. A stimulus bill known as the CARES Act was passed by the federal government. Around April 15th, most were already receiving their checks and ready to use them for essential items - including mortgage and rent payments. According to a survey by personal finance site Creditful.com, about 28% of Americans will put their stimulus payments toward covering their rent or mortgage (most will use them to purchase groceries and pay bills). Millennials are most likely to spend their checks on housing as they probably don’t have the means any other way.

 

How far can this $1,200 check take you? Across the nation, about ¾ of folks could actually pay their rent with the money given to them; while homeowners may have a bit of a tougher time paying their mortgage. Remember, this is all based on the cost of living in each area of the nation. 

 

What about locally? The stimulus boost has actually helped many survive this time and has also kept the economy somewhat steady. Those who have been furloughed have been able to put this money towards bills and rent while others who are still working have allocated the funds elsewhere. 

 

Your stimulus check can also be a big help if you’re planning on buying or selling your home this year. If you’re in the process of buying or purchasing a home, perhaps these funds could go towards your closing costs. Putting the money is a high-yield savings account or home savings account will allow you to keep the money aside for a future purchase (with maybe a bit of interest attached). You could also use it to pay down debt and boost your credit score. There really are so many options available. 

 

Here at The Verity Group we are ready to help you navigate the best options for you. Contact us on our website or give us a call at 757.452.8974 to get started!

Posted in Current Events
May 12, 2020

Get Your Home Ready for Summer

We’ve finally made it! It’s almost summer and quarantine looks to be done soon. States are starting to open up (safely) and we can finally move on from this crazy springtime memory. 

 

It may seem like all you need to do to prepare for warmer weather is to buy a new bathing suit and book your summer vacation. But, beyond the traditional deep cleaning, spring is the perfect time to get your home ready for summer.

Get your air conditioner checked

Dealing with a broken air conditioner during summer when the weather is extremely hot is definitely an unpleasant situation. That is why, before the hot temperatures appear and make your house feel like a hot oven, you need to check out your air conditioning system to ensure it will keep you cool in the summer months. We recommend shutting off your electrical panel and hosing down the outside unit to wash any dirt out. This will ensure your air conditioning is fresh once you flip it on. 

Inspect your roof

A quick inspection of your roof before summer can save you from a lot of headaches. During winter, the heavy snow and the high levels of humidity could have damaged your roof. So, checking your roof for misaligned, cracked, or missing shingles which might let water seep in is a great idea before the heavy summer rains arrive.

Make your deck your favorite room in the house

Create an outdoor extension of your indoor living space: comfortable, clean, and filled with your favorite things. The fun part of patio cleaning is that it can mostly be tackled with warm, soapy water, a scrub brush and a hose – your deck, outdoor upholstery, furniture (depending, of course, on the finish), walkways, and even your hammock (read our great tips on cleaning outdoor furniture). After cleaning and arranging your furniture, create a moonlight mood with outdoor lights, and punctuate the space with flowering planters, candles and pillows. 

Doing all these different things will not only get your home ready for summer but if you’re planning on selling your home this summer it will highlight the best features of your home. For some, summer might seem like a time where you don’t want to sell because common knowledge states the market may be weak - it’s a slow season. But with the right team on your side and understanding how to target the right buyers, you will be able to get that home sold quickly and yourself into a new one just as fast. 

The Verity Group is the team and the tools you need to understand the market and get the best bang for your buck!  Contact us on our website or give us a call at 757.452.8974 and let’s talk about it!

 

May 8, 2020

Thinking About Selling Your Home? Do This First.

Mention to anyone that you’re getting ready to sell your home and you’ll be inundated with advice on what you need to do before you begin the selling process. Completely overhaul your outdated kitchen. Let the new owners handle the remodel. Install brand new carpeting. Just steam clean the old carpeting. Chuck the carpeting altogether and install faux wood flooring instead. Everyone is telling you what they think is best and it can be very easy to get overwhelmed. 


We’re here to help you decide which suggestions you should actually listen to and which you should just maybe put to the side.

First and foremost, find the right real estate agent. Your home’s condition, the neighborhood it’s in, and your competition are all unique. With your agent’s knowledge of what buyers want and what features are helping homes sell in your area, your home will sell for the best possible price—if you follow their advice. At Verity, we are here to guide our clients through the selling process. We don’t ever want to force our clients to feel like we are pressuring them into a particular decision. We are more about partnership than profit-ship. 

Decluttering is another important step to take before selling your home. Not only do you want your walkthrough to be clean and appealing, but you definitely don’t want to take all that extra stuff with you into your new space. Consider what is on your nightstand.  A box of tissues, important mail, your phone charger, your current book—all of those essentials jumbled together just looks like junk to buyers. Decluttering gets all signs of your everyday routine (and excess knickknacks, too) out of sight so buyers can focus on your home’s assets rather than your mess. Empty out and organize, be brutal! 

One downside to deep cleaning is that you’ll be getting up close and personal with every inch of your home—which means you’ll likely discover a laundry list of minor repairs that need fixing.

As tempting as it is to leave all of those repairs you’ve been letting go for years to the next homeowner—doing so may sink your shot at a top-dollar price. Little repairs left undone send warning signals to buyers that you’ve probably neglected major home maintenance projects, too. And when buyers doubt the condition of your house, they’ll only make lowball offers.

You don’t need to go nuts trying to restore your home to like-new condition, but there are a lot of little fixes that are relatively easy and inexpensive to DIY.

Now that we have all the practicality out of the way, let’s talk data. We have some fun three-year statistics that you can check out. They cover supply of homes for sale, new listings, median percent of last list price, and closed sales. Looking at all of these, things might seem a little confusing. Let me break it down for you. In essence, you’ll see that over the last three Aprils (2018-2020) there has been a growing trend of less and less inventory. Home sales prices have looked to stay consistently strong and they are marginally increasing. Closings are also up significantly. But you’ll notice that new listings are down...way down. So while it is awesome that many are able to close on their homes and fulfill those dreams. If we don’t get a new listing up, we are going to run out of homes for sale in 3 months. And that’s just no good for anyone. 

You might be wondering if right now, amidst all the crazy, is the right time to sell your home and purchase a new one. Understanding the buyer and sellers market will help greatly. It's commonly understood that more than 7 months of inventory is a market that favors the buyer, 5-7 months is a balanced market that favors no one and less than 5 months is a seller's market. There’s no better time than right now to get your house up on the market. There is less competition out there and from the data the market is sure to be on your side. 

These are just a few things you can do to prepare your home for the big sell. We at The Verity Group have a ton of steps and directions to make the process of selling your home even further. Contact us on our website or give us a call at 757.452.8974 and let’s talk about it!

 

 

 

April 29, 2020

Home Improvement During an Economic Recession: The Time is Now

The social distancing mandates have resulted in us spending a lot more time in the comfort of our homes, and spending a lot more time at home means you’ve likely noticed a few areas itching for improvement. Those kitchen cabinets could really use a fresh coat of paint...or those baseboards that never got redone when you bought the place. Or that rustic chic barn door you want for your bedroom that was slated for last spring? Though the economy is reeling from the recent COVID-19 coronavirus slump, now is the best time to start that home improvement project you’ve been putting off, and here’s why.

 One would think that during a recession it would be wise to lay low and save as much money as possible, but when it comes to home renovations that is hardly the case. Once the economy bounces back, all of the building materials, decor products and other discretionary supplies are going to become more expensive. Very little on the construction side is happening so independent contractors are always looking for work. You might even find that building materials such as rebar, copper, brick and concrete are on the cheaper side as well. 

 On top of that, wouldn’t it be nice to be stuck at home and actually enjoy your space? I think so too! Maybe you’ve been wanting to take your little fixer-upper and drop a new coat of paint on it. There’s no better time to do this than right now.

When you’re doing all these cute little projects that seem to be just things to do to pass the time, you’re actually adding value to your home. But what if you’re unsure of which home improvement projects to tackle? Well, we’ve got a quick list of inexpensive ways to add value to your home:

  • Change your doorknobs. Details matter. You can add a nice, modern touch to your home by replacing old door knobs in your kitchen and throughout your home. Find a doorknob style that suits the aesthetic of your home. 
  • Replace light fixtures. Switching out old light fixtures for updated ones can give your home a much needed lift. The right light fixture can give your home a brighter, more modern look. In addition, consider replacing outlet switch plates to match.
  • Go for a bathroom mini-makeover. You can add a lot of value to your home by giving your bathroom a mini makeover. A new vanity, showerhead and sink can make a huge difference in not only the look of your bathroom but you can also increase the percentage of your ROI. 
  • Update your front door. When it comes to adding value to your home, replacing an old front door can also work wonders. The first thing anyone sees when they look at your home is the front door so you want to install something that is eye-catching but not overbearing. 
  • Replace your kitchen appliances. We work hard to keep our families fed; so do our fridge and stove! That appliance upgrade might be more affordable than you think: 3.7 million Americans replaced their built-in kitchen appliances in 2017 at an average cost of $517. Even if you aren’t ready to purchase new appliances, we strongly encourage you to protect the ones you already have with a home warranty.

We at The Verity Group have a team of contractors and home improvement experts available to help you get your project started. We want to help you find a way to give your home a much needed lift. Contact us or give us a call at 757.452.8974 and we’ll get a home improvement plan started for you!

 

 

 

April 24, 2020

What’s Really Going on in Real Estate Right Now

 

You’ve been seeing it everywhere. Businesses closing up shop left and right because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The real estate industry is no different, agents are getting out of the business and some of the large and newly popular big-box brokerage companies have announced massive shutdowns and layoffs.  What does that mean to you? We’d love to weigh in on that.

Companies like Zillow, Redfin and Open Door are three different models with some similarities in their makeup. Technology changed the game in nearly every industry. These three companies responded by trying to give buyers and sellers a “more efficient” experience that seemed to make agents less significant, if not unnecessary in the process. Buyers and Sellers were given more “control” or access to the data about the housing market. They justified that since the consumer was doing more of the work, they would pay the agents less.  In some cases, consumers were given a rebate of sorts and the company pocketed the rest.

What was in it for the agents who agreed to make less? The company provides them the leads, they save time, and if commission is lost they figured it was worth the company feeding the leads. Some agents like this type of model because nothing is truly required of them to grow their business.

Nothing could go wrong, right?  

That “any circumstance” scenario couldn’t foresee the times we are living in today. Letting technology do all the work is okay until it isn’t. You see, transferring any sort of property is an emotional process. Humans play a key role.

Here’s what we are seeing in the industry today:

  • Appraisers are refusing to walk properties. Let me give you an example: recently we (Verity Group) represented a buyer on a house who’s appraisal came in 45,000 less than the home was pre-appraised for just weeks before. What a significant difference! The process of valuing property is too subjective and too human to automate with any tool including a “Zestimate.”
  • Lending Guidelines are changing. Lenders are changing the criteria up to the last minute. Not every lender can offer all the loans, they could a month ago. We recently had to switch a buyer from one lender to another a week before closing in order to actually close on the house. Without having a seasoned agent who knows how to maneuver with ever-changing targets, home sales could fall apart.
  • Contractors are difficult to come by. Closing companies are running behind and if home inspectors are even inspecting properties they won't let anyone, even the buyer inside in some cases. It’s harder to find contractors like plumbers and electricians and handyman type services at this point.  Buyers and sellers are confused and upset. No scientific equation can make up for that.  

How are some of the companies responding to all this? 

They quickly say shut it down. People need stability when buying and selling houses. They need to be able to build relationships with seasoned agents representing them through the process. They need to have the space to ask questions, change the plan, find a space to stay in the transition. They need agents with a network of resources to come up with a plan B, C, D if necessary.

Where do the agents fall?  

If companies are stopping all realty processes, how do the agents that work with these companies survive? Well, an employee minded agent who gets handed "deals" and sees them as a paycheck might feel the sting of relying on companies. A career business-minded agent who is truly running a small business that is service-oriented and based on consumer experience and referrals may see a slight dip, but they remain steady because of rapport. 

Not all agents and companies are created equal. Right now there's heightened awareness about small local business patronage. Verity Group is a small, locally owned business founded on principles of customer care, fiduciary, exceeding expectations, and delivering consistent experiences. There’s no guarantee of a paycheck. Verity Group runs 80%+ based on referrals. Our network of people we work with refers out to friends and family. It's why the Verity Elite program is so important. 

And even amidst what is going on in our world today, Verity Group is still here. Our team continues hiring staff, showing houses in masks, and pulling out every hat trick because we believe through all this real estate will still happen and people will still need representation in the process.  

The big guys? The companies everyone thought were the end-all of traditional real estate? They are shrinking to the detriment of their customers and the agents who had a false sense of security.

Verity Group won't stop being here for you. If you're ready to close your deal or transition into something new, we will be there every step of the way!

April 14, 2020

It Took a Village: We Found the Perfect Home for Every Family Member’s Needs. Here’s How.

Your family is your pride, your joy and your slice of heaven here on planet Earth, which is exactly what you deserve to give them...the world. However finding the right-sized home for your family that accommodates everyone’s needs can be tricky and boy, do we know! Keep reading to discover how we were able to find just the perfect home for a beautiful family of five.

 

“It takes a village to raise a child.” Sometimes, it takes one to find the right home for a client. So this week, after speaking with our own family and friends in the Hampton Roads community, our outreach efforts paid off--big time. We are so proud to announce that the perfect-sized home for the perfect family with five kids is now UNDER CONTRACT!

The House

This gorgeous 4 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom stately home nestled in the lovely Christopher Farms neighborhood of Virginia Beach offers everything our fun fam of five little ones wanted plus some! Pool and storage house? Yes! Fabulous backyard oasis perfect for entertaining and enjoying family get-togethers? Absolutely! Freshly-painted bedrooms and a spacious master bedroom and bath for Mom and Dad...rustic chic stone fireplace for cozy chats by the fire over mugs of hot chocolate...this home has. it. all. 

Crafting the American Dream means catering to the specific family needs.

As parents, we know just how it feels to know specifically what your needs are for your family. Each one of our darlings has their own special wants and needs, preferences and passions. As Realtors, we especially know how important it is that children have room to grow and thrive in a home perfect for them. Memories are made at home. The first tooth pull, the first science experiment, the first holiday celebration...and these memories are meant to be made in the home you love. So we knew...we HAD to find the perfect home for our client family.

 

Steve and I know what opportunities and exciting experiences await this family, and that the perfect home would be an absolute must. 

 

It was not easy...in light of the social distancing restrictions, we knew our work would be cut out for us. Yet we persisted and reached out through social media, to our family and our friends, to our professional associates and colleagues...we left no stone unturned and finally, we were able to get connected with the home that was absolutely meant for this fam.


This gorgeous Christopher Farms home is under contract, and we cannot wait to share photos of the happy family in their new home! Meanwhile, take a peak at this gorgeous home here.