Housing market rebounding?

Laura Lafayette
The housing market in Henrico and metro Richmond area appears to be headed in the only direction it could go -- up. That was the general consensus of attendees at the Richmond Association for Business Economics’ luncheon last month at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, following a presentation by Richmond Association of Realtors CEO Laura Lafayette.

“What I took away, and what I think [everyone else is] taking away as well is the real estate market has really bottomed out in the Richmond region,” said RABE president Charles Kennington. “And going forward, we’re going to see more good news than bad news.”

The numbers showed that the units sold in Virginia declined every year from 2005-2010, with last year showing the first signs of improvement (slightly more than 11,000 in 2011 compared to about 10,600 in 2010).

Lafayette pointed out that, while the units sold rebounded slightly in 2011, each county saw a significant drop-off in average selling price. Henrico witnessed the biggest decrease, with units selling at an average of $230,823 in 2011 compared to $250,535 in 2010, a decrease of nearly 8 percent.

While her overall comments were encouraging, Lafayette warned that the number of units sold in 2005 (just more than 20,000) was probably more than the Richmond area could maintain, adding that 2007 totals (about 15,800 units) were a more attainable goal.

“We’re just looking for the market to behave normally,” she said, “not take off.”

Henrico did rate better than the other counties in other categories, though, such as active listings (1,275 as of May 20), sold vs. listed percentage (60 percent) and average sales per month (245). Henrico also rated well in average days on market (DOM), with 70 the current average for May 2012.

Lafayette, though, told attendees not to pay attention to DOM because real estate agents “can be creative.” An agent can re-list a house by taking the property off the market for a couple hours and putting it back on. This process gives the property a new Multiple Listing Service (MLS) number and resets the DOM.

Lafayette stressed the significance of the average list price of newly constructed homes compared to that of resold homes (those built since 2006). New homes in Henrico were listed, on average, for $375,926 compared to $348, 937 for resold homes. Other counties saw an even larger difference.

“We need to get resale price closer to new price,” Lafayette said.

The big difference is scaring off potential new-home buyers because of the appearance that their investment almost immediately loses value, she said.

Nationally, the housing market had its best first quarter in five years, and foreclosures are down significantly, she said. In Virginia, the percentage of units sold has been up every month except for March, though Lafayette said she wasn’t concerned about the change (about half a percent).

There is a concern, though, that the good numbers for January and February may cause a softening in May and June, normally the highest selling months, she said.

There is a stubbornness on the part of some “boomers” to not sell their properties now because they’re bitter about the fact that they could have sold them for more years ago, she said.

“People’s 401k has become their 201k,” she joked.

RABE has about eight to 10 regular luncheons each year on topics relevant to the Richmond community, Kennington said.

“Clearly, real estate, having suffered the downturn that it did, is something we think is on the minds of our members and the public at large,” he said.

“When we reached out to Laura, we didn’t know what her message was going to be. So, whether it was good or bad, we just want to see what the facts are to inform our membership.”

Next month, RABE will host Virginia Secretary of Finance Ric Brown, Kennington said.
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‘Hello Kitty Truck’ rolls into Short Pump Saturday


MAR. 23, 12 P.M. – Hello Kitty fans, rejoice. On Saturday, the Hello Kitty Cafe Truck, described as “a mobile vehicle of cuteness,” will make its first visit to the region.

The truck will be at Short Pump Town Center, 11800 W. Broad St., from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. The vehicle will be near the mall’s main entrance by Crate & Barrel and Pottery Barn.

The Hello Kitty Cafe Truck has been traveling nationwide since its debut at the 2014 Hello Kitty Con, a convention for fans of the iconic character produced by the Japanese company Sanrio. > Read more.

Governor vetoes Republicans’ ‘educational choice’ legislation


Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Thursday vetoed several bills that Republicans say would have increased school choice but McAuliffe said would have undermined public schools.

Two bills, House Bill 1400 and Senate Bill 1240, would have established the Board of Virginia Virtual School as an agency in the executive branch of state government to oversee online education in kindergarten through high school. Currently, online courses fall under the Virginia Board of Education. > Read more.

School supply drive, emergency fund to help Baker E.S. students and faculty


Individuals and organizations wanting to help George F. Baker Elementary School students and staff recover from a March 19 fire at the school now have two ways to help: make a monetary donation or donate items of school supplies.

The weekend fire caused significant smoke-and-water damage to classroom supplies and student materials at the school at 6651 Willson Road in Eastern Henrico.

For tax-deductible monetary donations, the Henrico Education Foundation has created the Baker Elementary School Emergency School Supply Fund. > Read more.

Nominations open for 2017 IMPACT Award


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Nominees must be a for-profit, privately-held business located within ChamberRVA's regional footprint: the counties of Charles City, Chesterfield, Goochland, Hanover, Henrico, New Kent and Powhatan; the City of Richmond; and the Town of Ashland. > Read more.

Business in brief


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Community

Villa’s Flagler Housing wins national NAEH award


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NAEH annually recognizes proven programs and significant achievements in ending child and family homelessness.

Flagler completed its transition from an on-campus shelter to the community-based model of rapid rehousing in 2013, and it was one of the nation's first rapid re-housing service providers to be certified by NAEH. > Read more.

RIR’s Christmas tree lighting rescheduled for Dec. 12


Richmond International Raceway's 13th annual Community Christmas tree lighting has been rescheduled from Dec. 6 to Monday, Dec. 12, at 6:30 p.m., due to inclement weather expected on the original date.

Entertainment Dec. 12 will be provided by the Laburnum Elementary School choir and the Henrico High School Mighty Marching Warriors band. Tree decorations crafted by students from Laburnum Elementary School and L. Douglas Wilder Middle School will be on display. Hot chocolate and cookies will be supplied by the Henrico High School football boosters. > Read more.
Entertainment

CAT Theatre to present ‘When There’s A Will’


CAT Theatre and When There’s A Will director Ann Davis recently announced the cast for the dark comedy which will be performed May 26 through June 3.

The play centers around a family gathering commanded by the matriarch, Dolores, to address their unhappiness with Grandmother’s hold on the clan’s inheritance and her unreasonable demands on her family.

Pat Walker will play the part of Dolores Whitmore, with Graham and Florine Whitmore played by Brent Deekens and Brandy Samberg, respectively. > Read more.

 

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Tuckahoe Library will host a Death Café from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Led by spiritual and bereavement counselor Alane Miles, a Death Café is a gathering during which attendees can discuss death and dying in a surprisingly upbeat and informative way. Ask questions about the often-taboo topics of death, dying, grief and funeral practices. Miles has 20 years of experience in the hospice field, hosts the Death Club Radio show on WRIR and writes for Style Weekly. For details, call 501-1910 or visit http://www.henricolibrary.org. Full text

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