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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Applications for Leadership Metro Richmond Class of 2018 now open

Applications for the Leadership Metro Richmond (LMR) flagship program Leadership Quest are now open at http://www.lmronline.org until May 1. Community leaders from Ashland, Charles City, Chesterfield, Goochland, Hanover, Henrico, New Kent, Powhatan and the City of Richmond are encouraged to apply.

All interested candidates are encouraged to attend a recruitment reception March 8 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Markel Corporation, 4501 Highwoods Parkway in Glen Allen. The reception will give candidates the opportunity to meet current LMR members and learn more about the organization. > Read more.

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Classes start March 7 for Reynolds Community College’s second 8-week and third 4-week spring semester sessions. Registration for both sessions is currently open and runs through the start of classes. Students can register 24 hours per day online by visiting http://www.reynolds.edu. Students can also register in-person in Enrollment Services located on each campus. > Read more.

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Hazard mitigation is the effort to reduce loss of life and property by lessening the potential impact of future disasters. The 26 localities of the Richmond and Crater regions maintain the plan to collaboratively identify vulnerabilities associated with natural disasters and develop long-term strategies to reduce or eliminate long-term risks. > Read more.

Democrat VanValkenburg kicks off Gen. Assembly campaign


Senior students at Glen Allen High School will get a personal touch when studying elections with their AP government teacher.

That teacher, Schuyler VanValkenburg, recently announced his intention to seek the Democratic nomination for the 72nd District seat in the House of Delegates. If he earns the nomination, he will run against Del. Jimmie Massie, R-Henrico, who has been unopposed for 10 years.

VanValkenburg, a 2004 University of Richmond alumnus who majored in history, is running for office for the first time. Although he has lived in Richmond since he began his undergraduate studies, aside from one year spent in Seattle, he said he never felt it was his time to run. > Read more.

Construction begins on JA Finance Park at Libbie Mill


School and business leaders from around the region, including (pictured, from left) Simon Hodges of Dominion Resources, Daphne Swanso(president of Junior Achievement of Central Virginia) and Henrico County Manager John Vithoulkas, gathered at Libbie Mill Library Feb. 23 for the Junior Achievement Finance Park construction kickoff. > Read more.
Community

Villa’s Flagler Housing wins national NAEH award


St. Joseph's Villa’s Flagler Housing & Homeless Services was one of three entities to earn the National Alliance to End Homelessness' Champion of Change Award. The awards were presented Nov. 17 during a ceremony at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

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

Weekend Top 10


Given the warm weather lately, Saturday’s RVA Polar Plunge Winter Fest, benefiting Special Olympics Virginia, might actually be enjoyable! Other weekend events you’re sure to enjoy include the 14th annual Richmond Kids Expo at the Richmond Raceway Complex, the Richmond Symphony and The Taters in concert at The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen, and the Richmond Ballet Minds in Motion Team XXL performing at the Henrico Theatre. This is also the last weekend to check out HATTheatre’s production of “Bill W. and Dr. Bob.” For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

 

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North Park Library’s “I Am Not My Hair” series wraps up with a screening and discussion of “In Our Heads About Our Hair” from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. This documentary from Hemamset Angaza examines issues black women confront regarding hair, culture and self-esteem. For details, call 501-1970 or visit http://www.henricolibrary.org. Full text

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