real estate news
for the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia
Kemper Funkhouser made a presentation today to the Luray-Page Chamber of Commerce on the impact of COVID-19 on the local real estate market. Hear about current economic indicators and how the pandemic has changed our local real estate market.
The decrease in closings has lessened over the past week in certain counties. This is good news as the market climbs out of the downturn from the pandemic. While mortgage rates continue at an historic low, mortgage purchase applications continue to outpace last year. This creates a positive environment for further increases in home sales in the coming months.
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Interest rates remain at an historic low for another week at 3.13%! Although home prices continue to increase between 6% to 10% across the Valley, overall affordability is more favorable than last year due to lower rates.
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Interest rates hit another all-time low at 3.13%! Contracts are increasing throughout the Valley indicating a rebound in closings is on the way! Although closings are down in some areas of the Shenandoah Valley, we are fairing much better than other areas in Virginia where closings are down nearly 21%. Overall, we are continuing to experience strong demand for housing throughout the Shenandoah Valley and conditions are favorable for both buyers and sellers.
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The spring market is on the way! We have heard from the top real estate economists that our traditional spring market activity would be pushed back to the summer due to the pandemic. We are now seeing indicators of that through the mortgage purchase application index. This week's index hit 322.5, the highest it has been since January of 2008! This is great news showing upcoming purchaser activity.
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Listing inventory continues to be a challenge across the Shenandoah Valley. As mortgage applications continue to increase and more buyers are shopping for homes, housing availability is holding the market back. In fact, there are 285 fewer listings this year. This drop in supply is causing home prices to increase.
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Interest rates have again hit a record low at 3.15%! This is great news for buyers who want to secure a long-term saving in their mortgage payment. Mortgage applications increased again this week, signaling a strong summer market.
Year to date numbers throughout the Shenandoah Valley are now lagging behind last year in most categories. With low interest rates, we expect to see a new wave of buyers in the market in the coming months. The greatest challenge facing today's market continues to be the supply of homes. Owners who are thinking about selling their home in the near future should talk with a real estate professional about selling this year.
It happened! 30 Year Mortgage Purchase Applications surpassed last year! This may mean home purchaser's demand will translate into more contracts in the coming weeks. This is great news for sellers. However, this may also mean more competition for purchasers. In a competitive market with a low housing supply, it is important for purchasers to work with a qualified real estate professional to help secure their next home.
Is the market really slowing down or is there more to the numbers? Perhaps there is more to the numbers. As we look at the year to date numbers that have slowed, there is a domino effect that starts with housing supply. In a market that already had a shortage of housing, COVID-19 caused sellers to delay bringing their home to market and to even take their home off the market. Less homes on the market equates into less contracts and eventually less closings.
Click Here For This Week's Full Report (pdf)
Funkhouser Real Estate Group has been actively enacting new policies, additional education opportunities, and ongoing support measures to ensure that our associates can confidently serve clients during COVID-19 and that our clients are still able to reach their real estate goals.
“Challenging times present an opportunity for a company to provide clients and associates the support and resources to keep moving forward,” Kemper Funkhouser, COO of Funkhouser Real Estate Group, explained. “Prior to the impact of the pandemic, we prepared for working remotely and to provide our associates the information to guide clients through this time.”
Funkhouser Real Estate Group first started enacting these supportive measures in March, prior to the Governor’s stay-at-home order. We’ve now successfully implemented more than a dozen actions to support our team and clients, including twice-weekly team meetings with industry experts, weekly reports to track ongoing changes to the local real estate market, and community outreach to ensure we’re meeting the current needs of our clients. We’ve also made changes to our procedures to protect everyone’s safety, including providing COVID-19 showing guidelines, COVID-19 yard signs, and care packages for all showings that include a mask and gloves for interested buyers.
Funkhouser Associate Luke Smith says he’s felt incredibly supported by the number of measures the company has taken and the ongoing guidance the leadership team has provided.
“I think the company is doing a great job taking care of their associates and their clients,” Smith said. Smith added that the company’s actions happened swiftly, allowing the company to respond to the immediate needs of their clients despite a global pandemic.
“The speed at which Funkhouser Real Estate Group was able to shift gears and start taking this really seriously early on, shows how intelligent, professional, and thoughtful the company is,” Smith said.
Funkhouser Associate Sable Ponn agrees. She says the twice-weekly team meetings we’ve been holding, have been the most helpful in making her feel prepared during this season. During these meetings, we invite industry experts from across the country to discuss what Funkhouser Associates need to know to serve our clients best and make wise decisions during this time. Guests have included mortgage lenders, real estate analysts, economists, healthcare experts, settlement attorneys, and leaders from Virginia REALTORS.
“These twice-weekly meetings with the industry experts have been really beneficial for me because I feel like I'm up-to-date on what's going on in the Valley,” Ponn explained. She added that being given access to research-backed information from experts in the field, rather than having to rely on hearsay or outdated information, has been crucial to her success.
”Our management team has done a great job of being advisors and giving us a lot of education on what we need to know and how to handle situations,” Ponn explained. “Because of this, I feel like I'm really informed and I think that that makes me feel more comfortable dealing with clients, especially during this stressful time.”
Funkhouser Associate Jo Plaster says she’s appreciated how the company has increased communication efforts, both as a team and with clients. These efforts include weekly market reports that keep associates up-to-date with ongoing changes to the real estate market, real estate surveys that provide vital information to associates, and communication to buyers and sellers so they remain aware of real estate trends and current procedures. Plaster says these efforts have helped build the confidence and connection needed to move forward during this season.
“Funkhouser's innovative approach is providing the strength and confidence needed now in these uncertain times and times yet to come,” Plaster said. “I really think that they are ahead of the curve and they have kept us, as agents, secure and confident, and then it's a trickle effect, because we can provide that confidence for our clients.”
“I think we’ve shown that we’ll take any necessary precautions to get the job done and we can adapt and will adapt. Clients can always expect that type of performance from Funkhouser Real Estate Group,” Plaster added.
Smith agrees the leadership portrayed by our company has allowed Funkhouser Real Estate Group to respond intelligently to this new reality and quickly transition to conducting business while adhering to all CDC-recommended guidelines, including social distancing. These also include utilizing technology to conduct informed teleworking procedures, incorporating the use of 3D cameras and video tours to market homes, and remaining connected to lending and title agencies to ensure that real estate transactions proceed smoothly despite new procedures.
Smith says that other than losing the personal touch of a handshake, he’s been surprised to find how seamless the transition has been with these new approaches.
“You really can get through an entire real estate transaction and successfully buy or sell a house without ever getting within six feet of another human being,” Smith explained. “Things can still move swiftly through the process, and that’s because our company has been able to restructure so well.”
Smith says he’s been able to remain confident under the guidance of Funkhouser’s leadership team and sees that confidence translating to how clients feel during the process.
“We are taking the pandemic seriously and we're taking every precaution to keep everyone safe, while still helping our clients accomplish their real estate goals,” Smith said.
Associates agree that our company’s ability to respond to COVID-19 and continue serving clients is due, in part, to our culture and long-held values, which are rooted in the belief that remaining engaged and staying continuously up-to-date on industry trends is vital if we want to serve our clients well. To accomplish this, we’ve always been committed to providing ongoing education for our associates and remaining innovative through the use of new technology.
“Our approach has always included looking for new opportunities to make ourselves better and change how we do business so we can always better serve our clients and our associates,” Funkhouser explained. “This value was embedded in our culture before this pandemic, and it served us well in responding to COVID-19.”
Ponn says that she believes Funkhouser’s culture, and their actions during this pandemic, demonstrate an investment in our community and a lasting commitment to our clients.
“I'm really proud to be a part of this brokerage,” Ponn said. “You can tell, even just through social media, how much we're trying to stay up-to-date in order to inform our clients about what's going on in the real estate industry, and that’s so important right now.”
“With the knowledge that we have and the leadership we’re under, I think you will never go wrong with choosing us as a company.”
The headline this week in the real estate industry is once again the comeback of mortgage purchase applications! Despite the pandemic, buyers are itching to take advantage of low interest rates. Applications have virtually returned to the same level this time last year.
While mortgage applications are a very positive indicator of new buyers in the market, current activity this week shows a slow in certain areas of the market. The year to date comparisons reveal more indicators turning negative and the margin of the positive numbers narrowing. Overall, the local real estate market is still very strong and there are many opportunities for both buyers and sellers.
Click Here For This Week's Report (pdf)