February 2021

A Lot of Different Opinions

Last month we wrote about the snow and now I am writing this with my window open to enjoy the sunshine. I enjoy snow so much that I am known to track multiple weather forecasts in hopes of seeing it on the way but it seems that, at least for our region, spring is moving in. Big snow isn’t likely however the change in seasons tends to be positive in our industry – traditionally houses sell better in the spring! 

Just as you get differing weather forecasts from various sources, you will also get differing opinions on the housing market depending on the economist and/or real estate expert you consult. Before we tackle those varying opinions, take a look at last month’s stats from the Real Estate Information Network Inc. (our local MLS).

All of our local numbers point to a very hot seller’s market. Nationwide, the real estate market is also on fire. According to numbers from Barry Habib, who runs a national real estate and mortgage prediction service, 76% of all the homes that are listed are going under contract within two weeks. Also, about 50% of those homes are getting more than one offer, and first time home buyers are making up about one third of the buyers. The number of new home buyers is higher than normal, which is important because when a second or third time buyer purchases a house, they almost always sell a home a well. By definition a first time home buyer doesn’t have a house to sell, so when the percentage of first time buyers increases the supply of homes for sale tends to go down. 

The national experts are all over the map with their predictions for the future of real estate prices. I can show you charts and quotes saying we are heading into another real estate bubble but there are many others taking the opposite view. It is hard to rely on any one forecast as their track record of accurate predictions is not strong. What we do know as your time-trusted hometown professionals is that Hampton Roads is currently in a screaming seller’s market. If you are thinking about moving, and you would like to discuss your personal real estate needs, please reply to this email, or give us a call (757-726-7653 for Lee, 757-434-9084 for Harry). Of course, every situation is different and our careful and up to date market analysis means that as the facts change, our advice might as well. We love talking real estate, so don’t hesitate to give us a call if you have questions.

Loan Approval in a Seller’s Market

We are approving customers without the contingency of selling their current residence. Being able to do this in a sellers market is another way to make your offer to purchase a little stronger and stand out from the rest. This also leads to the question of how can I get the equity from my current home and apply it towards the new mortgage. There are a couple of paths we can explore. 

1 – if you’re doing a conventional loan for the new purchase you can ask the loan servicer to process a “recast” of your loan. You make a large principal payment after you receive the proceeds from the sale of your prior residence and apply it to the new loan as a large principal payment. Once that is done the loan servicer can reamortize your loan and adjust your monthly principal and interest payment.

2. We can explore a bridge loan for your current residence. This enables you to obtain a home equity line of credit on your current residence and use those funds for the down payment on the new home.

 Give us a call to discuss your homeownership goals and we can get you pointed in the right direction- Bill Duggan Sr. Mortgage Banker 757-615-5172 or billduggan@atlanticbay.com

Suffolk Restaurant Week Is Coming

The 2021 Spring Suffolk Restaurant Week is slated for March 20-27. During this culinary showcase, participating eateries offer chef-created delicacies and simple three-course, price fixed menus at the DELUXE ($10 lunch/$20 dinner), PREMIER ($15 lunch/$30 dinner) or ULTIMATE ($20 lunch/$40 dinner) levels for lunch and/or dinner. No coupons, vouchers or tickets are needed—simply order from the Suffolk Restaurant Week menu at each location.

For additional information and menus, visit www.DiningInSuffolkVa.com or like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/suffolkrestaurantweek. You may also contact the Suffolk Visitor Center at 757-514-4130 or VisitSuffolk@suffolkva.us. 

Let’s Get in the Garden

One of the good things (if there are any) from our year of COVID home time is that many of us have found our “roots” again in the joys of gardening.

March is the perfect time to work on our backyard gardens. Here are a few tasks for early spring:

Plant cool season vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, kale, broccoli, cabbage, and other leafy vegetables. 

No garden plot? Consider planting vegetables in containers on sunny decks, porches, and balconies.

Prune roses and evergreens before new growth appears.

Feed your soil with compost.

Plant summer bulbs.

Have questions or want more information?

Contact Virginia Cooperative Extension: https://ext.vt.edu/lawn-garden.html

Let it Snow!

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We enjoyed the first snowfall of the year in Hampton Roads last week and are expecting more this weekend and, at least in my household, excitement levels have been through the roof! The local real estate market is just as exciting right now, with sellers experiencing a boom we have not seen since 2006. 

 Using the statistics from the Real Estate Information Network Inc. (our local MLS), the median sale price increased 11.75% when comparing December 2019 to December 2020 sales. In fact, following a trend that started in September of this year, all of the major statistics we track had double digit percentage changes based on year over year numbers. Here is the chart that compares December 2020 to December 2019:

While the months supply of homes for sale continues to be very low, Hampton Roads actually had over 1000 more homes listed for sale between October and December in 2020 than we did in 2019. We have seen a huge increase in demand from buyers, fueled in part by incredibly low interest rates.

  Our crystal ball isn’t perfect, but we would not be surprised if this trend continues through the spring. People believe that summer is the best time to sell your home but that is often a misconception, especially in our area. In light of the way the market is trending, you might want to consider starting much earlier. Of course, every situation is different and our careful and up to date market analysis means that as the facts change, our advice might as well. If you would like to discuss your personal real estate needs, please reply to this email, or give us a call (757-726-7653 for Lee, 757-434-9084 for Harry).  

As we all know we are in a sellers market now. What does this mean if you’re in the market to purchase a home? You should be prepared to pay a portion, or perhaps all of your own closing costs. In the past we would see offers accepted where a seller would provide sufficient funds to cover those expenses. That is not necessarily the case now. What we tend to see with prospective buyers is that they are only focused on having enough funds for the down payment. It’s an after thought when it comes to closing costs. When purchasing a home you need to plan and prepare for how much it will cost you out of pocket to acquire your new home. There is no better time than now to start planning. We will be happy to discuss your loan options and provide a realistic figure on how much you will need.

 Give us a call to discuss your homeownership goals and we can get you pointed in the right direction- Bill Duggan Sr. Mortgage Banker 757-615-5172 or billduggan@atlanticbay.com

There is still lots to learn at the Suffolk Libraries. Virtual classes are available on subjects from inactive language learning to interactive music and audio books. And, you call get curbside pickup service at Morgan Memorial and the North Suffolk locations.
Visit https://www.suffolkpubliclibrary.com/ for more information.

See YOU at the Library reading challenge encourages people to connect to reading and learning resources that are as complex as our community. Read to find yourself. Read to find others.
Challenge yourself to read books in 2021 that not only reflect your own identity but that of others. Explore other identities, cultures and perspectives in your reading. Review books and share what you learn to be entered in to a quarterly prize drawing.
Register and log your reading on Beanstack

New booklists and themed activities will go live every other quarter to keep you reading all year long!

Need help with something to do in Suffolk?

Be In The Know

Looking for something to do? Consider signing up for Suffolk Tourism’s new FREE monthly e-newsletter.

Visit: http://www.visitsuffolkva.com and follow the links

December Monthly Update

In October we pointed out that it was the first time in our memory that all of the major statistics we track had double digit percentage changes based on year over year numbers. This month’s update also has them solidly in double digit territory. Here is the chart that compares November 2020 to November 2019.

As you can see, prices have continued their steady increase, inventory (the number of homes listed) continued to decline, and the median sales price continues to increase. Using the statistics from the Real Estate Information Network Inc. (our local MLS), the median sale price increased 13.69% when comparing November 2019 to November 2020 sales. This meant sellers got on average an extra $33,175 for their home. 

The number of active listings across Hampton Roads declined by 40%, however roughly 5.5% more homes were listed for sale across Hampton Roads in November 2020 than in November 2019. Houses are just selling so much faster that the active inventory has declined greatly. 

People believe that summer is the best time to sell your home but that is misconception, especially in our area. If you are thinking about selling, give us a call and we can tell you what the local statistics show is the best time to list your home – it’s probably much sooner than you think. We love talking real estate and are always happy to chat. Reply back to this email, or give us a call (757-726-7653 for Lee, 757-434-9084 for Harry). 

Happy New Year! 

Lee and Harry

IGive us a call to discuss your homeownership goals and we can get you pointed in the right direction- Bill Duggan Sr. Mortgage Banker 757-615-5172 or billduggan@atlanticbay.com

More Americans, including in Hampton Roads, are experiencing food insecurity for the first time in their lifetimes since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Data released this month by Feeding America shows food insecurity in Virginia Beach increased by 40 percent from 2018 to 2020. In Chesapeake, the number rose by 37 percent; 30 percent in Hampton; 32 percent in Suffolk; 31 percent in Newport News, and 28 percent in Norfolk.

You can help end hunger in your neighborhood.

For every $10 donated, the Foodbank can distribute up to $60 worth of grocery products- how amazing is that!

Welcome 2021!

New Year’s Traditions

Did you know that iis believed that the Babylonians were the first to make New Year’s resolutions, and people all over the world have been making andd breaking them ever since!

Noisemaking and fireworks on New Year’s eve is believed to have originated in ancient times, when noise and fire were thought to dispel evil spirits and bring good luck.

We here in the south have the traditional New Year’s dish of Hoppin’ John. A one pot dish of rice, black-eyed peas (or field peas), smoked pork, and onions that cooks all day. Black eyed peas are supposed to bring you luck if you eat them on New Year’s Day, and it is traditionally eaten with collard greens. An old saying goes, “Eat peas on New Year’s day to have plenty of everything the rest of the year.”

As we usher 2020 out, let’s all wish for health and prosperity for 2021!

We Are In Double Digit Territory

For the first time in our memory all of the major statistics we track have double digit percentage changes based on year over year numbers.  Here is the chart that compares September 2020 to September 2019:

This chart isn’t that different than last month, but last month the median sales price was “only” up 7.84%.  This month we sneaked into the double digit range at 10.04%.  Another interesting note is that while the number of months of inventory is still down, Hampton Roads actually had 8.89% more homes listed for sale last month than in September 2019. 

As we said last month, what is really happening is buyer demand is making homes sell faster for more money.  From the buyer side, there are not as many homes to see, but there are homes available for sale.  Our trivia question for this month is: What year was the last time the median sale price showed double digit growth based on year over year numbers? 

We love talking about real estate. If you are wondering what your house may be worth in this market, reply to this email, or give us a call (757-726-7653 for Lee, 757-434-9084 for Harry).

Even if buying a home isn’t on your list of to-do’s for the next year or two, it’s definitely smart to start thinking about how much you can save towards that purchase when the time presents itself. Coming up with a down payment for your new home doesn’t have to be intimidating – in fact, there’s a huge reward after putting in the hard work – a brand new home to call your own. In this step-by-step checklist we will cover the basics of how you should start saving for one of the biggest purchases of your life.

Figure out just how much you want to save______ (check)

In order to determine a hard number for this, it’s best to give us a call . During this initial conversation you will get a better understanding of our loan products and the down payment affiliated with them. *Pro Tip – Getting pre-qualified first will set you up for success because you will have a better understanding of the loan you will choose and ultimately how much your loan requires you to put down.

Determine your timeline ______ (check)

The second item of business on this checklist is ultimately deciding when you are thinking of buying your new home! There are plenty of “life” factors that play into this, maybe it’s in your one, five- or even 10-year plan. If you’ve found a loan that doesn’t require a down payment (they do exist) then you’re already sitting pretty. If you need to start saving, building out a timeline will help immensely! *Pro Tip – It’s always smart to start as early as you can.

Come up with a saving strategy ______ (check)

The thought of saving thousands of dollars may seem overwhelming, but if you take it one step at a time, you’ll reach your goal and be on your way to becoming a homeowner in no time. There are several strategies that can help you get there even faster, including saving your tax returns, bonuses from work and cutting back on eating out just to name a few. *Pro Tip – Automating an allotted amount of money each month helps you save without having to do a thing! As you can see, the process of saving for a down payment can start as early as you’d like! And honestly, the earlier the better when it comes to determining just how much you want to put down on your new home. This kind of preparation will spring you ahead of the game and ensure no monetary surprises when you find your dream home.

 To get the process going give us a call at (757) 615-5172 or email billduggan@atlanticbay.com 

Celebrating Virginia’s Originals

Oysters are the oldest documented food in the Commonwealth, dating back to 1607 when the first English settlers at Jamestown survived on oysters pulled from the James River. The Virginia Oyster industry has a rich history which reached its heyday in the 19th century, when nearly eight million bushels were harvested in one year. Virginia is celebrated as the Oyster Capital of the East Coast, with eight different regions harvesting their own distinct flavors. These exceptional tastes range in salinity, creaminess, and sweetness. Unique to Virginia, wine made from grapes grown in the same watershed as oysters pair perfectly – proving that “what grows together, goes together.”

When the temperature drops and it’s wet and dreary, one’s thoughts turn to eating something that warms the soul.  Virgina claims the honor of being “The Original Home of Brunswick Stew”.  Brunswick county, just a few miles down Route 58, is the documented birthplace of the hearty meat and vegetable-based stew that has long warmed brisk autumn and winter days. Original recipes were once made with wild game such as rabbits and squirrels, but today’s variations usually include chicken or pork smoked for many hours before making their way into the pot. 

The humble Handsome peanut  raised in Southeastern Virginia is the largest of the four peanut types grown in the United States. The Virginia Diner in Wakefield is famous for the peanuts it packages and sends around the world. The first known commercial peanut crop of Virginia originated near the town of Waverly in 1842. By 1902, Virginia had quickly become the largest peanut producer, with fourteen of the twenty factories operating in the United States. 

Since the 17th century when settlers learned the Native peoples’ art of smoking meats, Virginia country hams began to earn an international reputation. Most famous are Smithfield hams, which, by law, must be cured within Smithfield’s town limits. Ham Biscuits are a staple at any Virginia table throughout the holiday season.

2006 All Over Again?

Do you realize 2006 was so long ago that the iPhone wasn’t even introduced?  That back in 2006 Lee had only had his real estate license for four years, but like now, the local real estate market was on fire.  Take a look at this month’s chart showing how August 2020 compared to August 2019.

Keep in mind this chart isn’t that different from the month before.  The active listings were down 38.40% in July, and the median sales price was also up a little under 8% based on year over year numbers.  Don’t let the low inventory numbers fool you – the number of houses selling is increasing by double digit percentages. 

What is really happening is buyer demand is making homes sell faster for more money.  From the buyer side, there are not as many homes to go see, but there are homes available for sale. 

If you are considering selling your home but are concerned about finding a new home should your house sell before you’ve found a new place, know that there are a few different options available in this scenario. If you want to find out more, email Lee at LeeCross@callcrossrealty.com, Harry at HarryCross@callcrossrealty.com or give us a call (757-726-7653 for Lee, 757-434-9084 for Harry). 

Interest rates have gone up slightly since the beginning of August. However, they remain in the 2.75% to 3% range. Historically speaking, these are still very low and help make housing affordable. 

As Lee mentioned, we are in an extremely competitive market. Due to this, we strongly recommend being fully preapproved upfront to purchase a home. Being preapproved gives us the ability to provide a stronger letter for your Realtor to submit with your offer to purchase compared to a prequalification letter, which is simply an “opinion” based on information that has been provided to us verbally. Getting preapproved upfront has the ability to potentially close faster too. The ability to close sooner could be another factor in choosing your offer over others.

To get the process going give us a call at (757) 615-5172 or email billduggan@atlanticbay.com 

Celebrating October!


October.  The tenth month of the year.  Time of pumpkins, falling leaves and goblins and ghouls.  Here are a few fun facts:

More United States presidents have been born in October than in any other month.

October not only marks the onset of the festive season, but is also celebrated as the National Pizza Month, Popcorn Month, Pork Month and Sausage Month.

October is never mentioned by Shakespeare, the famous English poet, playwright and actor, in any of his works. He is widely regarded as the greatest writer and dramatist in the English language.

October 1st is Homemade Cookie Day.

October 2020 has 2 full moons!  The first full Moon of Fall-in this case, the Harvest Moon-will appear on Thursday, October 1st. Later in the month, on Saturday, October 31st (Halloween), the second full Moon appears. This is the Hunter’s Moon, which will be special for two reasons: it’s a rare Halloween full Moon and a Blue Moon!

October means Halloween, and Halloween means bats.  Many of us associate bats with Halloween – and the same was probably true centuries ago. Most scholars agree that Halloween as we know it started some 2,000 years ago when Celtic people in Europe celebrated the end of the harvest and the start of a new year in a festival called Samhain (pronounced “sow-win”). It was also a time of communing with otherworldly spirits, with big bonfires lit in honor of the dead. When the Celts lit bonfires, the bonfires would attract bugs, and the bugs would attract bats. In later years, various folklore emerged citing bats as harbingers of death or doom. 

A Needle In A Haystack?

Some buyers are starting to feel that finding a house for sale is beginning to approach a needle in the haystack level of difficulty in this market.  Multiple offers are very common, especially for houses under $300,000, and it isn’t unusual for a home to sell within days or even hours of hitting the market. 

This type of market would lead one to believe that there are fewer homes listed for sale but surprisingly, across Hampton Roads there were actually more homes listed for sale in July 2020 than in July 2019. The difference was only 2.79% more, but the current market feels as though there was a significant decrease in the number of homes for sale this July. What has actually occurred is a greater number of buyers are in the market for a home right now so, despite the increase, it feels like a decrease.  Here is a chart with some additional real estate stats for Hampton Roads:

As you can see in the chart, even though more homes were listed, the percentage of active listings was down by almost 40% (38.40%).  Demand from buyers was so strong in July that it drove the year over year median sales price up 7.84% and the months supply of inventory down to 2.19 months.  An average market typically has between 5 and 7 months of inventory, and last month the median sales price was up a little under 3%.  Clearly, we are in a seller’s market. 

Last month, we asked a trivia question: Based on data from REIN (our local MLS); there is a single feature of some homes that is showing an extra 16% rise in sales for homes that have this feature.  The answer – a swimming pool! 

You may be pleasantly surprised by the price that your home will bring in this market.  We are happy to provide you with a free custom market analysis for your home or property.  Reply back to this email or call us at (757-726-7653 for Lee, 757-434-9084 for Harry).  We love Real Estate and are always happy to talk.  Lee and Harry

I may sound like a broken record but rates continue to be at historic lows which make it a great time to buy a house or consider refinancing your existing mortgage. Over the last 2 weeks we have seen a minor increase but rates continue to hover around 3%.  The Hampton Roads area is definitely a seller’s market and since inventory is very low, your agent needs you to be ready with a lender pre-approval before starting the home search.  I would be happy to chat with you about your financial situation and help you get ready to purchase a home.  

Give us a call Bill Duggan Sr. Mortgage Banker  757-615-5172 or email billduggan@atlanticbay.com 

Celebrating September

Sometimes the month of September can be a bit of a back-to-school bummer, especially after a carefree summer schedule. September has lots to offer to celebrate. From National Double Cheeseburger Day to National Beer Lover’s Day here is a list of a few of the wacky, weird, and wonderful holidays September has to offer. Here are a few reasons to celebrate during the month of September.

Sept. 4: Eat an Extra Dessert Day~Splurging on dessert isn’t always the healthiest choice to make. But today, go ahead and indulge in that second serving of your favorite dessert. After all, it’s good to treat yourself every now and then.

Sept. 5: National Cheese Pizza Day~It’s widely believed that the humble cheese pizza is the perfect food. It’s the ideal balance of carbs, protein, and fat. It reheats wonderfully. And it’s delicious for any meal. Dig into a homemade cheese pizza, or order one from your favorite restaurant today.

Sept. 7: National Beer Lover’s Day~Isn’t just the standard light lager bartenders sling across every American bar top. The craft beer movement has produced some incredibly creative and tasty brews that blend different styles, flavors, and inspirations. Check out your local brewery for some new-to-you beers today, or try brewing your own beer at home.

Sept. 13: National Kids Take Over the Kitchen Day~Let your kids do the cooking today for National Kids Take Over the Kitchen Day. This day is all about teaching young people some cooking skills and letting them be creative with food. So pick a recipe that’s suitable for your child’s age, and allow them to take the lead on the food prep.

Sept. 19: International Talk Like a Pirate Day~Shiver me timbers: It’s International Talk Like a Pirate Day! If you’re not sure exactly how to talk like a pirate, try adding a few “argggghs” and “walk the planks” into your everyday conversation. Whether you carry a parrot on your shoulder or wear an eye patch is totally up to you.

Sept. 27: Love Note Day~Everyone loves receiving a sweet love note. So for Love Note Day, skip the mushy store-bought card and get a little more creative. Add a cute note to your kid’s lunch, use old lipstick to write a message on your partner’s side of the bathroom mirror, or surprise your best friend with a note filled with compliments.

Sept. 29: National Coffee Day~Today, raise your coffee mug and toast to the roasted beans that keep us going. Looking for a few more ways to appreciate coffee? Try adding it to your favorite cocktail, coating coffee beans in chocolate, or blending a few beans into your favorite vanilla ice cream for a homemade coffee shake.

Specializing in properties in South Hampton Roads, Virginia.