real estate news
for the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia
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)
Mortgage Purchase Applications greatly increased this week showing that purchaser's are coming back into the market to take advantage of low interest rates. If this continues locally, we expect to see an increase in the pace of contracts and perhaps a full recovery in any market slowdown that has been experienced due to COVID-19.
Median home price increases outpace previous years due to a continued lack of housing supply. This is also causing the median days on market to be unusually low. Homes are selling faster and at a higher price than in previous years. In fact, home prices are up about 8% over last year which is on pace with the state and national average. This is a great opportunity for anyone looking to sell their home.
Click Here For This Week's Report (pdf)
Funkhouser Real Estate Group is helping clients meet their real estate needs by providing face masks and gloves for property tours during the COVID-19 pandemic. The real estate market continues to stay active and our firm has prepared to help clients stay safe while buying and selling homes.
“The health and safety of our clients and community is our top priority,” says Kemper Funkhouser, Funkhouser Real Estate Group’s Chief Operating Officer. “We are committed to helping our clients stay safe during this time while guiding them through the home sale and purchase process.”
The Shenandoah Valley real estate market continues to stay active during this time and the real estate professionals at Funkhouser Real Estate Group are prepared to transact business in a safe manner. In addition to providing face masks and gloves, our firm has the latest technology to help clients transact business electronically. “Besides walking through a property, our associates can conduct a real estate transaction one hundred percent through our online technology,” says Funkhouser.
We are also providing seller clients with yard signs that describe guidelines purchasers should follow before and during a property tour. These guidelines include asking buyers to work with a real estate professional to research property online and to get financially qualified prior to scheduling a tour in person. During a property tour, purchasers should wear a mask and gloves, not touch surfaces and limit the number of persons on the tour.
“We recognize our clients may have concerns during this unprecedented time. We want to do our part in helping to keep our community safe while meeting the real estate needs of our clients,” says Funkhouser. During the month of April, Funkhouser Real Estate Group helped over 200 clients list, buy or sell property. The real estate market continues to move forward during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It's official, interest rates are at an historic low! On April 30th, Freddie Mac reported a 3.23% - 30 year mortgage rate in its weekly market survey. This truly presents an historic opportunity for buyers in today's market. These rates appear to be pushing buyers to increase mortgage purchase applications as this index is increasing.
Locally, the real estate market shows strength in most areas. Inventory continues to be a challenge for purchasers, presenting an opportunity for sellers to list and sell their home quickly. In fact, the median days on market across the Shenandoah Valley ranges from 18 to 55. Homes are selling much faster this year compared to last. Contact a professional at Funkhouser Real Estate Group to learn what today's market conditions mean for your real estate needs.
Click Here For This Week's Report (pdf)
Interest rates ticked up slightly last week and mortgage applications increased nationally. This may indicate more buyer activity in the weeks to come. Overall, the local real estate market remains steady. Most indicators show signs of continued strength in comparison to 2019, especially in the Rockingham, Shenandoah and Page markets. However, the Augusta County market continues to lag behind last year's performance.
Beyond the numbers, our firm is experiencing many multiple-offer situations and some homes remaining on the market for only days. This is an indication that supply remains low and owners who are contemplating a sale this year should be talking with a real estate professional about listing their home on the market soon. Click here to download the full report (pdf).
The Virginia REALTORS® survey of REALTORS to gauge the impact of COVID-19 on home buyers and sellers. Here are the survey results from the latest report. Click here for a PDF.
Our Analysis: Sellers who have their homes on the market continue to hold on the asking price and about one-third of potential sellers are deciding to wait to list their home. This is contributing to an already low supply of homes available to buyers. However, approximately half of all buyers are deciding to delay their home search. While only about 15% of Sellers are reducing their prices to attract buyers, between one-third to one-half of buyers are expecting lower prices.
Source: Virginia REALTORS® survey of members.
* No data reported during this time.
Joe Funkhouser, President of Funkhouser Real Estate Group, discusses the COVID-19 impact on real estate.
Interest rates hit an historic low this week reaching 3.31% as reported by Freddie Mac, while mortgage applications continued to be far less than this time last year. With buyer activity continuing to be strong in the Shenandoah Valley, sellers should consider getting their home on the market. Call a real estate professional at Funkhouser Real Estate Group to discuss the opportunities of selling your home in today's market and best practices during COVID-19.
Click Here to download the full report (pdf).
As of last week, more than 20 million U.S. residents had filed for unemployment. With those numbers increasing weekly, it has caused a shock to the labor market that was thriving before the COVID-19 pandemic.
These numbers, along with the plummeting stock market indices, point toward the possibility of an economic recession.
However, despite such ominous indicators, we can’t be certain that a recession is actually occurring, nor what the long-term impacts may be, until we have more data, explained VA REALTORS® Chief Economist, Dr. Lisa Sturtevant.
“An economic recession is two consecutive quarters where gross domestic product is negative, so we don’t know if we’re in a recession until after it has already happened,” Dr. Sturtevant explained. “What we do know is that recessions are often closely linked to unemployment, and we are currently experiencing a lot of job loss in this country.”
Sturtevant assumes that if unemployment numbers continue to rise and reach the 10-15% level, such conditions will have a major impact on the housing market.
The current impact that we’re seeing across the country, however, is variable across markets. This variability depends largely on how robust individual markets were prior to COVID-19 and how local and state governments have dealt with shelter-in-place orders.
There are current trends that we’re seeing here in Virginia. In a survey sent to members across the Commonwealth, Virginia REALTORS® found that 90% of respondents said that COVID-19 is negatively impacting their real-estate business.
“This is most directly related to people postponing or delaying their search for a home, or sellers not putting their homes on the market due to COVID-19,” Sturtevant explained.
While there are trends that we need to continue watching, economists agree this potential recession will be much different than what we experienced in the 2007 and 2008 economic crisis.
The crisis that began in 2007 was closely linked to subprime mortgage loans and resulted in the bursting of the housing industry’s asset bubble. Since the financial crisis was so closely associated with the housing market and questionable lending requirements, home values dropped drastically and foreclosure activity dramatically rose.
But the current economic downturn is driven by a public health situation rather than conditions within the housing market, Sturtevant explained.
“The realities of the 2007 and 2008 economic crisis were exacerbated by 0% down payments and balloon payments, along with an increase in housing inventory, and these are not realities in today’s markets,” Sturtevant said. “So this downturn is going to be quite different.”
The strength of the housing market prior to COVID-19 was due, in large part, to a lower level of inventory and an increase in millennial-aged first-time homebuyers, which are still realities today despite this public health crisis.
But the question remains: What will be the long-term impact of this economic slowdown and how will we rebound?
“The honest answer is that no one knows for sure, but there are specific patterns to be aware of,” Sturtevant said.
One of the major factors will be when the virus is contained. New data suggest that the peak in the number of COVID-19 cases in Virginia is ahead of the predicted timeline, which could potentially mean that the virus will be contained earlier than anticipated. The earlier the virus is contained, the more quickly the economy will rebound.
The second major factor to track is unemployment numbers and whether the implemented federal stimulus measures help mitigate economic disruption.
Whether the federal stimulus measures work—and as a result, businesses are able to ramp back up and people are able to return to their jobs—will largely determine if we see a sharp turnaround and a recovery of employment, Sturtevant explained.
However, if unemployment claims continue to rise and it takes longer to contain the virus than projected, then we are likely looking at a slower recovery that could have longer-lasting impacts on the economy.
Despite the lingering unknowns, the important thing to remember is that the state of the economy and the housing market were both strong prior to COVID-19, and this will be beneficial for our economic recovery, Sturtevant said.
Funkhouser Real Estate Group is continuing to follow these trends and we will provide updates as we learn more; but currently, the Shenandoah Valley real estate market is showing different trends than other markets in Virginia.
While surveys have shown a decline in activity statewide, associates at Funkhouser Real Estate Group have remained relatively active as properties are still going on the market and contracts are still being signed.
“While some markets are seeing a great impact on activity due to COVID-19 restrictions, others are seeing very little, and so far, the Shenandoah Valley has experienced a small impact on the real estate market,” Kemper Funkhouser, COO of Funkhouser Real Estate Group, explained.
Additionally, we are not currently seeing any signs of home values dropping, nor do we expect this to be a major result from this latest economic downturn.
“Our firm is very active in working with buyers who are making offers and sometimes facing competition to secure the home they desire,” Kemper explained of the current state of the company. “We are also working with sellers who are enjoying multiple offers within days of listing their home. While this is not the experience for everyone, the market is very active.”
The area is growing and the number of potential buyers has increased over the years, outpacing the number of homes on the market. So, despite any slow-down in activity, there still remains a steady number of active buyers looking for homes.
As conditions continue to potentially change, including loan requirements and the fluctuation of interest rates, the importance of having local and professional guidance when buying a home has become paramount.
“Professional expertise from a local REALTOR is more important today than ever before,” Funkhouser said. “In times of market changes, it is essential to have a local expert who can guide you with accurate and timely information to make informed decisions.”
This is why our focus at Funkhouser Real Estate Group continues to be on the education of our associates, so that we can provide the best guidance to our clients during these times.
We are still holding professional development meetings online with our associates twice-a-week so that we remain up-to-date on new data and market trends. As we continue to learn more, we will keep you updated on what you need to know about the real estate market during COVID-19.