Category Archives: Market Conditions

What is “Agency” Disclosure?

  The disclosure of “Agency” in real estate is currently a hot topic. The National Association of Realtors maintains guidelines regarding Broker Agency, but the oversight and enforcement of it is on a state-by-state basis. The Commonwealth is preparing to introduce revised legislation in 2012 that will outline and purportedly mandate specific guidelines as to how and when agency relationship must be disclosed. Not all of the details of this new legislation have been presented to Brokers and industry professionals, but I’m certain the entire process regarding agency disclosure in Virginia will either become crystal clear or expressly more confusing.


  The concept of who a licensee represents in Virginia is currently not all that difficult to follow. For instance, did you know it is required that “Broker Agency” be disclosed to you as a real estate customer/client at the first substantive conversation you have with a REALTOR® about a particular property? Yet, according to the National Association of Realtors, only 31% of those surveyed in 2010-11 reported having this up-front conversation with an agent. 23% said it didn’t come up until they sat down to write a contract, and it seems the remaining folks were statistically uncertain about the subject of Agency.


  In reality, the current disclosure of brokerage relationship in the Commonwealth is quite clear when expressly followed by those of us working in real estate. The problem arises when disclosure doesn’t take place at all. Many agents feel such a conversation early in a relationship will turn people off, sending them running the other way. However, if done properly with education and understanding, it is a great way to engage folks into learning more about the process of real estate sales and service. I have found these situations usually result in opportunities for those involved. The goal after all is to better assist and protect the real estate consumer and to remain the consummate professional they rely on when purchasing or selling a home.


Contact your most trusted real estate provider to learn more about this topic. Ann & John VanderSyde are Associate Brokers with Virginia Properties, A Long & Foster Company. They can be reached at (804) 282-7300 or at

What about Real Estate Stats

Have you seen any home statistics lately?  Do you find this information to be invigorating or exhausting? Do these numbers excite you enough to think about buying or selling a home, or do they entice you to plug your ears and block out the market banter? There is an excess of information out there, so what should you believe, who should you listen to, and what should you do?

We as real estate professionals are in the business of evaluating real property every day. The overall message we receive is positive, and it is part of our job to relay this good information to you the consumer. I can point to dozens of stats and market analysis that should easily convince most people of the improving market conditions, as well as the unarguable fact that interest rates remain so low that this may be the best opportunity to own a home EVER. But listen to the national media and it doesn’t mean a thing if consumer confidence in the market is down.

Fortunately, Richmond Virginia fairs better than the national housing market. In general, we enjoy a good housing industry. While there are many homes that sit on the market, there are many more that sell immediately – and yes, some with multiple offers.  We know these are challenging times for buyers and sellers because there is so much uncertainty about what is the best decision for each of us.

We can tell you that the housing market will continue to improve and that interest rates will go up; we wish we could be specific about exactly when to expect this to happen. In the mean time, we will advise you to listen to your personal needs, contact your trusted housing advisor, and have them discuss with you the current market trends as it relates to your specific situation. Well informed consumers are empowered to make smart decisions, and real estate is no exception.

Who Is Saying It is Time To Buy a Home? EVERYONE!

Enough with the doom and gloom about homeownership.” – WSJ 9/16/2010

WOW! If that quote was attributed to the National Association of Realtors or the National Association of Home Builders, it would have been quickly dismissed. However, it was the Wall Street Journal that was calling for the end of the ‘doom and gloom’ talk surrounding real estate.

We are finally seeing a powerful backlash to all the recent claims that homeownership should never have been part of the American Dream. It is about time!

The WSJ has been posting on the financial advantages and the other non-financial benefits of homeownership for over a year. “We must admit that, at times, we felt very lonely. It now seems that we are part of an ever growing army of believers preaching the advantages and opportunities available in today’s real estate market. Who have joined this cause? Let’s name a few.”

The Nation’s Real Estate Pricing Expert

Karl E. Case is a professor emeritus of economics at Wellesley. Professor Case is also co-creator of Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller House Price Index and is recognized as the one of the foremost authorities on real estate today. In a New York Times op-ed piece earlier this month titled, A Dream House After All, he said:

“I have never quite understood what the American dream really means when it comes to housing. For some people, it means having a solid and fairly safe long-term investment that is coupled with the satisfaction of owning the house they live in. That dream is still alive.”

“Others, however, think the American dream is owning property that appreciates by 30 percent a year, making a house into a vehicle for paying bills. But those kinds of dreams have become nightmares for the millions of foreclosed property owners who have found themselves sliding toward bankruptcy.”

But for people with a more realistic version of the American dream, buying a house now can make a lot of sense.

The Wealthy

The only segments of the housing market that are showing sales growth are the price points over $1 million. That market is up 6.1 % in the second quarter of this year vs. the second quarter last year. A recent survey showed that over 30% affluent buyers are planning to either build/buy a new primary residence or a second/vacation home in the next twelve months. It appears the wealthy believe now is the time to buy!

Everybody Else

Fannie Mae just released their National Housing Survey. The survey reported:

  • 82% of respondents consider homeownership important to the economy, up two points from January.
  • 70% of respondents think it is a good time to buy a house (of which 36% think it is a very good time to buy), up six points from January. This is also four points higher than the 2003 survey – well before home prices peaked – when 66 % said it was a good time.

Bottom Line

Our iconic financial newspaper, our nation’s real estate pricing expert, the wealthiest people in the country and 70% of everyone else think now is the time to buy a home. It probably makes sense to listen to them.

Follow-up Post, What’s the Wait . . .

As a follow up to my blog post yesterday 9/8/2010 regarding “What is the wait in Richmond Real Estate” – regarding “low interest rates”, the Long & Foster Marketing Minute provides the following example:

 “Let’s talk about the “missed opportunity” on the tax incentives. Let’s say first-time home buyer couple is looking at taking a 30-year loan on a $340,000 home, which was the average Long & Foster sale price in July. If they had purchased in early April, in time for the $8,000 credit, the interest rate probably would have been around 5.25 percent.

 If that same couple bought today and locked in a rate around 4.5 percent, they would save more than $130 per month on the mortgage payment compared to the early-April purchase.

 Even if they only live in the house for 10 years, they would save more than $16,000 in interest. These record-low interest rates mean buyers “match” the $8,000 they would have gotten in tax incentives if they live in the house just five years.”

 Consider spreading the word and sharing the secret that the media seems to conveniently overlook. There is good news in the real estate market, and as professionals it is our responsibility to send the message in order to combat the lingering negativity in our marketplace.

 Facts & figures courtesy of Jeff Detwiler, president and COO of Long & Foster Real Estate

What is the Wait in our Richmond Real Estate Market?

The Richmond, Virginia metropolitan region of Long & Foster Real Estate met today for a Town-hall gathering. Several hundred local real estate agents, brokers and sponsors attended this special event which spent much of the morning commenting on the state of the company and the realities of real estate in our market sphere. The most important message I took away from all this is, of course, that with the amazingly low interest rates available to consumers today, and the apparent stabilization of real property in our area, it is perhaps the most affordable time in our history to purchase a home. So what is everyone waiting for?

Well, first, this premise presupposes that one has a relatively stable/secure job, ensuring enough confidence and providing proper financial wherewithal to make the next step into home ownership – or to make a move-up purchase. This is without a doubt a HUGE obstacle for anyone to see beyond, and if you’re risk adverse, it may not be manageable. But is the risk any greater today than four years ago when lenders were literally giving away mortgage loans while home prices continued to skyrocket through the heavens? Honestly, I just don’t get it!

Secondly, the media seems to have cornered all futures in real estate. I think it is too easy to pull the media card whenever our woes exceed rational justification, but you have to admit there are no headlines out there promoting the long-term benefits of the current interest rate. As a fellow realtor mentioned this morning, we should be shouting about the best kept secret in the real estate market – low interest rates are far better than any tax credit the government can offer. Just do the math! But hush; don’t tell anyone, it’s a secret. Maybe then the public, and possibly the media, will take note and make a step toward home ownership and a sound life’s-investment.

I can’t say what it will take to help people feel better about real estate, but my business tells me that the housing market continues to improve. Someone must be feeling better about things, because the difference between what is going on today over just a year ago is astounding, and our numbers/statistics reflect this notion.  The caveat to this observation is that we need to continue looking forward and forget about what’s in the rearview mirror. The years of 2005-2007 are thankfully gone. There is a new reality out there now for all of us to observe, just ask your REALTOR®. The honest truth is always plain to see!