Increases All Around

The Hampton Roads market hit a median list price of $300,000 over the last week in April. Keep in mind that it was only one week, and it was the list price, not the final sales price. April’s median sale price was $285,000, which is an almost 12% increase from April 2020 prices. 

Of course, as we go over the next couple of months, we have to keep in mind that year over year numbers are going to be skewed by Covid. Here is the chart for April’s numbers:

Inventory, the number of homes available for sale at any given time, has been slightly increasing. Across Hampton Roads, there are roughly 12% more homes listed for sale in April 2021 than we had in February 2021. This is not at all unusual for this time of year, and based on local market trends the number of homes listed does go up during the late spring and early summer. 

While it is a very challenging market for buyers due to the low inventory, we can make a good case that if you are planning to buy a home this year, you should think hard about getting started sooner rather than later. We are hearing that folks are concerned about selling their home and not being able to find a home they want to purchase. While buying is a challenge in this market, we have a couple of different strategies we have been using very effectively for our clients. 

Of course, every situation is different and our careful and up to date market analysis means that as the facts change, our advice may change as well. 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). We love talking real estate, so don’t hesitate to give us a call if you have questions.  

Mortgage Loans with Little to No Down Payments

We have all been there — living with messy roommates, feuding with loud upstairs neighbors, or trying to get your landlord to fix something, anything. We get it. It is time to get your own place. Maybe you are ready to move out of that rental and you are thinking about buying your own place. But if the thought of a down payment is a bit intimidating? It does not have to be. There are plenty of little to no down payment options that make homeownership even more attainable now.

What is a down payment?

When you buy a home, you know to expect a monthly mortgage payment that will be yours for 15 or 30 years, or until you have paid off the loan balance. The down payment, on the other hand, is a one-time cost that you will be responsible for paying at closing. Depending on the loan program you choose, your down payment could range from nothing all the way up to 20% of the purchase price (or even more, if you choose). Fortunately, there are many mortgage programs available that meet the needs of most homebuyers.

So how much do you need?

Generally, a conventional loan will require at least 3% down. Or, if you want to avoid Private Mortgage Insurance (or PMI), 20% down is required. But if you are not able to put that much down at once, there are some government-backed loans that range from 0-3.5% down. A few government-insured options that you may consider include:

  1. FHA loan – This program requires buyers to put down 3.5% of the home’s purchase price and will come with monthly mortgage insurance.
  2. USDA loan – This program has no down payment, but mortgage insurance is required and can be paid upfront or financed into the loan for borrowers buying a home in an eligible rural area.
  3. VA loan – This program is tailored specifically to active-duty military, their families, and veterans and requires no down payment or monthly mortgage insurance, but the VA Guarantee Fee replaces mortgage insurance and is paid upfront.

So how much do you need?

Generally, a conventional loan will require at least 3% down. Or, if you want to avoid Private Mortgage Insurance (or PMI), 20% down is required. But if you are not able to put that much down at once, there are some government-backed loans that range from 0-3.5% down. A few government-insured options that you may consider include:

  1. FHA loan – This program requires buyers to put down 3.5% of the home’s purchase price and will come with monthly mortgage insurance.
  2. USDA loan – This program has no down payment, but mortgage insurance is required and can be paid upfront or financed into the loan for borrowers buying a home in an eligible rural area.
  3. VA loan – This program is tailored specifically to active-duty military, their families, and veterans and requires no down payment or monthly mortgage insurance, but the VA Guarantee Fee replaces mortgage insurance and is paid upfront.

Start Saving

It is never too early to contact a mortgage banker to talk about your options. Once you have determined the amount of home you qualify for, you can see if you are ready to buy now, or if it would be smarter to wait a while longer and keep saving money for a down payment. So, what are some ways to start saving now? Save your tax refund. If you are getting a large refund, put that directly into your savings as if you never had it to spend. Might be hard, but it is a good chunk to start with. Reduce expenses. Take a look at how you’re spending your money. Listing out your expenses can really be an eye-opening exercise on your spending habits. Sell your stuff. But remember, this is not spending money, it is saving money now. When you are ready to take the first step toward homeownership, contact a mortgage banker to get started.

Bill Duggan Sr. Mortgage Banker 757-615-5172 or billduggan@atlanticbay.com

Amazing Peanut Chase

Think you know every nook and cranny in Suffolk? Come prove it at the library’s sixth annual Amazing Peanut Chase! This year’s city-wide scavenger hunt will have ySummer Family Movie Seriesou road tripping all over town solving clues. Then join us outside for the socially-distanced after party!

Register at the link below:http://ow.ly/YksJ50EQEBr

Keep in touch with the library by signing up for email updates at

https://www.suffolkpubliclibrary.com/236/Stay-Informed

Summer Family Movie Series

Join Suffolk Tourism, in partnership with the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts, as they proudly present The Addams Family on Sunday, June 13, 2021.

Admission is $1 per person, and the movie will begin at 2pm. Please note that only 160 seats are available, to allow for social distancing in the 530-seat Birdsong Theater; masks are required.

For more information or to purchase tickets, please contact the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts box office at 757.923.2900 or visit www.SuffolkCenter.org.

April is Hopping

March was roaring and April is hopping! April is normally one of the busiest months in the real estate world and, based on a local study we did a few years ago, it is the month when the largest number of new homes are listed. This chart shows just how busy March was and that April is following suit.

While an almost 48% percent decline in active listings is eye catching, it does not mean that the number of people who want to sell has been cut in half this year. Across Hampton Roads, there were actually 60 more homes listed in March 2021 than in March 2020. Buyer demand is driving the huge reduction in active listings and the increase in the median sale prices.

Keep in mind as the spring numbers come in, the year over year comparisons will be skewed due to the Covid shutdowns last year. No matter how skewed the numbers may be, it is clear we are in a screaming hot seller’s market. 

If you are on the fence about selling we are always happy to give you a free market analysis on your home. No obligation on your part, but you may be surprised to see what your home is worth in today’s market. Just reply to this email, or give us a call (757-726-7653 for Lee, 757-434-9084 for Harry). We love talking real estate, so don’t hesitate to give us a call if you have questions. 

Work With What You Have!

Since 2020, we’ve been seeing record low housing inventory. We know how frustrating this is for you and your clients on the hunt for their dream homes. A solution: Work with what you have.

When the perfect home isn’t on the market, renovation loans can help your clients achieve their homeownership dreams.

How a buyer can benefit:

  • Customize the home to their preference
  • Finance the cost of repairs, remodeling, or energy improvements

With a variety of renovation loan options to choose from, we’ve got you covered. Reach out to me to talk about how we can work together in today’s market!
Bill Duggan Sr. Mortgage Banker 757-615-5172 or billduggan@atlanticbay.com

Let’s Go To The Movies!

Shrek At the Park

Load up the kids and head to Bennett’s Creek Park on Saturday, May 8, 2021, for a Carpool Cinema showing of a family favorite, Shrek.

This event is FREE and open to the public, however pre-registration is required by car.

To register, click “Register Here” under Carpool Cinema at SuffolkVa.us/Parks. After registration, save your confirmation email for entry into the event.

Who doesn’t love this classic romantic comedy? Boy meets girl complicated by life in a swamp, an evil lord and a talking donkey. Voices include Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, and John Lithgow.

Bennett’s Creek Park is located at 3000 Bennetts Creek Park Road, in northern Suffolk. For more information about this event, contact Suffolk Parks & Recreation.

The Farmer’s Market is Back!

Opening on Saturday, May 1st from 9am until 1pm, the Farmers Market is back at the Suffolk Visitor Center Pavilion. Located at 524 North Main Street in Downtown Suffolk, the Market will continue each Saturday through November 20, 2021.

Admission is free and open to the public. This family friendly market offers an array of fresh local meat and produce, plants, flowers and other artisan crafts. For a complete list of vendors and ongoing activities, visit SuffolkVaFarmersMarket.com

Opening day will feature live music by singer/songwriter Justin Luke McCurry; complimentary balloon creations by Animals & Arches; gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches and soups will be available for purchase from Jessie Lou’s Food Truck. Special guests include Suffolk’s Early Childhood Development Commission, Suffolk Master Gardeners, and local authors, Sarah Newland and Wanda Roberts.

Multiple hand sanitizing stations will be located throughout the Pavilion. Social distancing and face coverings are strongly encouraged.

For more information, visit SuffolkVaFarmersMarket.com or call the Suffolk Visitor Center at 757.514.4130. The Suffolk Farmers’ Market is produced by the City of Suffolk Division of Tourism. 

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.

Specializing in properties in South Hampton Roads, Virginia.