Real Estate Blog

December 21st, 2016 10:09 AM

Housing Market

This year the housing market was different than what was forecasted. A review of Rein’s monthly market reports show that inventory has steadily declined since the beginning of the year which started at the lowest point since 2013. Sales have remained strong throughout the year with the best months being February and May while July had a large drop year-over-year. The drop in July was not in Hampton Roads alone, in fact the Hampton Roads market has followed the national market with low inventory and low sales in July. Redfin is attributing the July sales to a month of fewer business days due to five full weekends and a national holiday. New construction has continued to be strong since May with double digit growth and the median sale price has remained relatively stable since April which had a 4% increase year-to-year. The mild winter may have helped the spring market and May had the lowest state unemployment rate since 2008.


Interest Rates

Although the Federal Reserve threatened to raise mortgage rates this year, we have actually seen a decline of approximately 0.5% since January with rates below 4%. Many of the foreign economies are experiencing slow growth which is keeping our rates low. If China, Japan, and Europe’s economies turnaround, our rates may rise a noticeable level but until that happens, economists don’t expect to see a significant change. We may continue to see rates near 4% for a while.


Homebuyer Shift

While the market has remained strong and rates low, the homebuyer market has seen a change in homebuyers. According to NAR, in this past year, 17% of homebuyers were single women, which was twice the rate of single men. Many female buyers of single family homes are in their 40’s or older and are divorced or widowed. The report also showed that single millennial women are buying condominiums.


MLS Tools

This July REIN implemented single sign-on technology to allow easy access to all the necessary transaction tools. You no longer have to recall numerous websites and passwords to process a single transaction. This should speed up and simplify the transaction process. In October zipLogix Products were replaced by Instanet Solutions to also simplify the transaction process.

Matrix is now the sole MLS system. This decision was made by the product vendor who is no longer going to support the technology behind Fusion. The REIN staff was busy working with the vendor to create reports and functional processes to make the transition seamless while offering all the tools that we need to run our businesses. Change can be painful for some, but in a world of changing technology and data access it is important that we stay up-to-date to effectively service our clients.


Since this year’s market has been so strong it is believed that it will remain strong into next year. Rates may increase to 4.5% but this should not have an impact on the market. It will still be difficult for first time home buyers to qualify for a mortgage. If inventories increase, appreciation should slow down and keep prices at an affordable level, allowing many first time home buyers to qualify for a loan.

Posted by Betsy Hughes, SRA, AI-RRS on December 21st, 2016 10:09 AMLeave a Comment

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December 29th, 2015 10:23 PM

Recent Changes and Expectations for 2016

This past year, many regulations have changed in the real estate industry. The changes highlighted are for the appraisal industry and will affect REALTORS and their transactions.

AMC licensing

The Virginia Real Estate Appraiser Board implemented a licensing program for Appraisal Management Companies (AMCs) in February 2015. The law requires all AMCs to be registered by December 31, 2015. After this deadline, firms associated with incomplete applications and found to be practicing without an AMC license will be referred to the agency’s Complaint Analysis & Resolution Section for subsequent enforcement action. This law will affect whom your buyers choose as their lender. If the lender uses an AMC that is not licensed in the state, an appraiser should not complete an appraisal for that AMC. This could hold up the closing of a deal, since the lender will need to contract a licensed AMC or the buyer will need to find another lender.  A list of licensed AMCs can be found at This list is constantly being updated, so be sure to check it frequently.

Customary & Reasonable Fees

In March 2015, Governor McAuliffe signed into law the requirement of AMCs to compensate appraisers a reasonable and customary fee. AMCs have traditionally taken a portion of the appraisal fee paid by the borrower and paid the appraiser a reduced fee of typically $100 - $200 less than the fee collected. The borrower has no knowledge of this third party, since the Good Faith Estimate shows one appraisal fee and not the breakdown of the real costs involved. The law now states the appraiser must be paid the fee they would typically charge a direct client (Customary & Reasonable). The law does not state that the appraiser and AMC fees be segregated, so the borrower may be paying a higher appraisal fee to compensate for the higher appraiser fee.

FHA Handbook

FHA consolidated Single Family Mortgagee Letters, Housing Notices, past Handbooks, and other policy documents into one handbook that was effective from September 14, 2015. The handbook does not have many procedural changes for appraisers. The biggest change is wording such as changing “should” to “must” for inspections and reporting. One important inclusion for REALTORS is that the handbook once again stresses the fact that Appraisers must have the FULL contract and any other pertinent documents prior to starting the appraisal process.


The biggest affect TRID has on appraisals is if a fee change is necessary for the assignment. The appraisal fee is a service fee that cannot differ from the loan estimate, unless there is a change of circumstance. The allowed circumstances include:

  • An extraordinary event, such as a hurricane, flood, etc
  • Incorrect information specific to the transaction that the creditor relied on, such as a duplex, when the lender was actually told it was a single family dwelling
  • New information that the creditor did not rely on in the estimate – for example, if the lender was not aware that the subject is a waterfront property

The concern is that some lenders may not be willing to change the fee once it is entered on the loan estimate for fear of incompliance. This could cause a delay in the transaction if the appraiser does not receive the requested fee.

Appraisal Licensing

The Appraiser licensing requirements were updated in January 2015. All licensed appraisers must now hold a college degree. As of 2017, the Appraisal Qualifications Board will require background checks for all new applicants. Virginia has not stated whether this requirement will include renewing licensees as well.

2016 Forecast

The 2016 real estate market is expected to have a slower rise in sale prices, according to the Home Buying Institute. Freddie Mac reports that the 30-year fixed mortgage rates have slowly increased since January and will continue to rise through 2016 to a rate of 5.1% by the end of the year. Another factor that may affect the market is the Presidential election. Movoto reports that history has shown a decline in sale prices during a Presidential election year. This is most likely due to a decline in total sales, as election years are stressful due to the uncertainty of the outcome. Many people choose not to make big decisions, such as buying or selling a home, until the election is over. Currently, job layoffs may affect our market. Since July, five large employers have announced over 3200 layoffs or relocations. Three companies are in the government-contracting sector, one is in the resort industry and one is in the mortgage industry.

Overall, the regulation changes are positive for the appraisal industry. Since most have been in effect for several months, lenders and REALTORS should already know how these changes affect their clients.

Posted by Betsy Hughes, SRA, AI-RRS on December 29th, 2015 10:23 PMLeave a Comment

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