We Don’t Have a Crystal Ball

We are going in a different direction with this month’s update.  We have put the summary chart at the bottom of this email, and if we had written this two weeks ago our theme would have been that prices seem to be going up and that inventory is tight.  However, the events surrounding COVID-19 and its evolving impact on our area have everyone in our office questioning how it will affect real estate.

Harry has been in the business for 47 years and Lee for 19 years but, thankfully, this sort of event has not happened before in our lifetimes so it is hard to evaluate with a lack of precedent.  Our guess is that things will slow down until the immediate threat of the virus has passed and schools and businesses reopen.  The extent of a downtrend will really depend on how significantly our area is affected by COVID-19 and what the government recommends everyone to do locally.  

We are advising our current clients who have homes listed with us to not make any changes at this time. The best offense is to have a very strong online presence for your home with great pictures. Some buyers may even make offers based on online information. This has happened in other market situations. Locally we have had buyers start to cancel showings, and have heard from our real estate contacts throughout the nation that things have predictably slowed down in the parts of the country where the outbreak of the virus is worse. Assuming that the economy bounces back quickly, it is likely that the local real estate market should return to normalcy when everything reopens.

Even if the real estate market comes to do a dead stop for a month, we will be okay, and the odds are good that if you are reading this you will be too.  However, thousands of local families and children will struggle greatly during this time.  There are a lot of great nonprofits that are working overtime to help fill the gaps and meet the needs of local families, especially now.  Two that are close to our hearts are ForKids and the Suffolk Christian Fellowship Food Bank. We volunteer our time at both organizations and find that the work that they do is vital to our community. If you are interested in learning more or helping, please see the information below:

https://www.forkids.org

Suffolk Christian Fellowship Food Bank
211 E Washington Street
Suffolk, Va 23434


As we move forward with the changes that COVID-19 brings, the facts are subject to change as well. We don’t have a crystal ball, but we do watch the market closely, and if it shifts, our advice might too so feel free to give us a call if you’d like to discuss your personal situation.  We love real estate and are always happy to talk.

Lee and Harry


The best word to describe interest rates these days is volatile.  Yes, on March 6th we saw historic lows, but we have also seen rates do a 180 since then and we’re back to the high 3’s for conventional loans.  It’s difficult to predict how the rates will be affected by the coronavirus, but please know that we are happy to talk with you to discuss any questions you may have.  Give me a call anytime-Bill Duggan, Sr. Mortgage Banker at  757-615-5172 or email billduggan@atlanticbay.com

Here’s a Giant List of Ideas for Being Home with The Kids:

Have each kid pick a topic they’d like to learn about and spend 30 mins each day

  • Spend one day reading every single picture book in the house

Go through all the old mail laying around (ok, that one’s not for kids although they do enjoy helping tear stuff up)

  • Bake something every day
  • Have each kid write a letter and/or emails to a different friend or family member each day
  • Use all of our building toys on one giant structure
  • Wash our hands!!!!
  • Races of various kinds in the backyard (hopping on one foot, crabwalk, walking backwards, etc.)
  • Try stop motion animation with playdough
  • Facetime grandparents a lot
  • watch everything on Disney+
  • Inventory the plants & wildlife (from bugs on up) in your yard.
  • learn the parts of plants/flowers & how they function (bonus if they learn the Latin names).
  • If you aren’t too squeamish & have a spare clear shoebox size tote or 5-10 gallon tank, catch some pillbugs (rolly pollies, sowbugs) & observe them (if you really do this, i can tell you how to set them up. i have about a thousand of them currently because it’s too cold here to thin the herd & they’ve been reproducing all winter. they’re pretty interesting).
  • Write a short story & illustrate it.
  • Learn how to do simple book binding.
  • Make paper (from your old mail!)
  • Have the kids help with yardwork in between playing games outside. They’re little, but they like getting dirty and “working” in the gardens.
  • GoNoodle! Great for guided movement, relaxation, etc.
  • Board games, card games
  • Legos.
  • We have some extreme dot to dot books (1400 dots) that the kids love, especially the 5 year old!
  • Lots of reading, playing with the dog,
  • Working on learning to sew using stuff we have on hand.
  • Card making/scrapbooking projects (mostly for me but kids can do it too).
  • Getting the garden ready, we need to weed and work the ground. I might get seeds and we’ll set up to have our own starts this year.
  • Make tents and reading caves : ) flashlights, tidy snacks, books, and pillows!
  • Have a shadow show in the reading tent (we used blankets over chairs or a table)
  • Get binoculars and learn about the birds near your house, look them up on google and search for their birdcalls on YouTube

Info found on Omaha’s Kat Country, KAT 103.7FM with Steve and Gina,

Snow and Home Sales are both Piling Up

We hope you are warm and enjoying what is left of the snow.  Lee was greeted at home Thursday by some very excited girls armed with snowballs!   Lots of fun was had by all, and the day ended with hot chocolate.

Sellers are also having some fun in this market.  The number of homes listed for sale, especially in the first and second time home buyer range, is down significantly.  As the chart shows, the median sale price when comparing January 2020 to January 2019 is up almost ten percent!  This chart and the numbers are from the Real Estate Information Network (our local MLS).

Over the last couple of years it wasn’t unheard of to run into one or two homes that had buyers making multiple offers and bidding up the price during January and February.  It didn’t happen very often, perhaps only around 5% of the sales, but it did happen.  We found as spring came and more homes were listed for sale, the number of homes receiving multiple offers went down.  While that may happen again this year, inventory is well below average levels and dropping so we think that this spring will most likely continue to be favorable for sellers.

We have buyers that are actively on the hunt for homes.  One buyer in particular is looking for a house with a good water or marsh view.  They need a first floor master and would like around 3,000 square feet with an attached two car garage.  Please reply back to this email or give us a call (Lee – 757-726-7653, Harry – 757-434-9084) if you have a home that meets that criteria. 

This year will certainly be interesting in the real estate world, so if you are thinking about making a move, let us know so we can put our local expertise to work for you.

Suffolk Art Gallery Juried Photography Exhibit

Join the Suffolk Art Gallery as they host the 36th Annual Juried Photography Exhibit, the largest and oldest juried photography exhibit in Hampton Roads.

Artwork of professional and amateur photographers will be on display March 7 through April 17, 2020, from 10 am to 5 pm, Tuesdays through Saturdays, and 1-5 pm on Sundays.

This event is free and open to the public. An Awards Reception will take place on Saturday, March 7, from 4-6 pm.

The Suffolk Art Gallery is located at 118 Bosley Avenue. For additional information, please call 757-514-7284.

Mortgage rates haven’t been this low for this long in years–3.5 years to be exact.  Brexit was the talk of the town in the middle of 2016 and it resulted in rates very close to all-time lows for well over 3 months (all of July, Aug, Sept).  Although rates aren’t quite as low this time around; they are very close to it. In 2016 it was Brexit and massive foreign central bank bond buying.  In 2019/2020, it’s been the trade war and Coronavirus with the latter getting the nod for 2020’s lowest rates.  As such, it’s no surprise to see a spike in bad news relating to Coronavirus leading to big market moves. History suggests this could go on for months, but history also suggests it might not.  If you’re considering buying or refinancing and you choose to wait for even better rates (not necessarily something that makes a ton of sense at current levels); make sure you have a game plan in place with your trusted mortgage pro.   

Let’s Eat!

It’s time to eat, drink and enjoy some of Suffolk’s best restaurants!

Suffolk Restaurant Week promises a savory blend of the city’s signature flavors. March 14-21 is the perfect time to sample new restaurants or delight in old favorites!

During this culinary showcase, participating eateries are offering 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 need to worry about coupons, vouchers or tickets.  Simply order from the Suffolk Restaurant Week menu at each location.

For additional information, menus and hours of operation, visit www.suffolkrestaurantweekva.com.

2019 Year in Review and 2020 Predictions

Happy New Year! We hope that each of you enjoyed the holiday season and wish you the best in the new year. This email will be a little longer than normal since we are going to go over the past market and what that may mean in 2020. We have included several charts from the Real Estate Information Network (our local MLS) to help illustrate the patterns that governed 2019 and what that could mean for the market in the coming year.

As you can see in the chart below, the number of active listings (homes for sales) continues to go down while the number of homes pending (under contract) and settled sales (homes sold) continues to rise. This chart is based on comparing November 2019 to November 2018 across all the sales in Hampton Roads.

While we are happy to help you with your real estate needs throughout the entire Hampton Roads region, most of our readers are from Suffolk and Isle of Wight so the following charts reflect the numbers from those areas. Each chart is based on monthly numbers over the last five years.


The chart below shows the number of active listings over the last five years. As you can see, there has been a steady decrease with a larger drop occurring over the last year.

This chart is the number of sales, which shows a peak in 2018:

It is our belief that just because more homes were sold in 2018 than 2019 it doesn’t mean sales are slowing down. In fact, the number of days a home is taking to sell went down, and as you can see in this chart, the months of inventory (homes available for sale versus the number of homes that sold that month) is going down. The reason 2018 had more homes actually sell than in 2019 was simply a matter of supply and demand. 

The chart below shows the number of homes for sale was less, so buyers had a harder time finding what they wanted.

As you can see, Suffolk and Isle of Wright is following the Hampton Roads wide trend of having fewer homes for sale, along with the increase in medium sale price. You will see a large increase in the medium home sale price, but the actual price increase your home may have depends on a lot of other factors. If you are curious about your home, please give us call or reply to this email and we are happy to come out and do a free market analysis on your property. 

The chart below shows the medium sale price over the last five years

As for future predictions, for a couple of years we have been saying we are in a glass half full and rising market. This year, when people ask our answer is going to change to the glass is three quarters full and rising. As long as our national economy stays strong and interest rates are decent (they are really good right now – see below for more from Bill Duggan) we think 2020 should be another good year for real estate sales in our local market. 

We love talking about real estate, so if you are a member of a group or club and would like us to come talk about the local market we would be happy to arrange a time. Just reply back to this email or give us call.

Happy New Year!

Lee and Harry

Selling Homes and Setting Records

The numbers from Real Estate Information Network (our local MLS) are in for last month and they show some large year over year swings.  As you can see on the chart below 30% more homes went under contract in September 2019 than in September 2018.

Check out the increase in the median sale average – it is up 6.34% using year over year numbers (September 2019 verse September 2018).  September was also the 50th consecutive month the number of homes for sale has decreased.  Showing traffic is still strong and normally doesn’t slow down until Thanksgiving.  It will be interesting to see if listings get more showings than normal due to the higher demand from buyers. 

We hope that you are enjoying the fall weather! If you want to talk in more detail about how the real estate market impacts your personal situation just reply back to this email or give us call: Lee 757-726-SOLD (7653), Harry 757-434-9084.

 Lee and Harry

It’s Not Really Pumpkin After All?

We hate to squash your autumnal dreams, but baking a pumpkin pie might not be as easy as you think. That’s because the canned pumpkin isn’t made of pumpkin at all!

Food & Wine reports that cans of pumpkin puree, even those that advertise “100 percent pumpkin”, are actually made of a range of different squashes. Most pumpkin purees are a mix of winter squashes, including butternut squash, Golden Delicious, and Hubbard. Even the FDA is vague about what counts as “pumpkin,” which allows companies to pack unspecified squashes into their purees and still list pumpkin as the sole ingredient.

Pumpkins might be a quintessential part of autumn but they don’t actually taste that great. Most pumpkins are watery and a bit stringy. Turning them into a puree takes more work and involves less reward, than using other sweeter winter squashes.

While there seems to be a good reason for their deception, we will admit, t’s a little unsettling to find out your favorite pumpkin pie is not what it seems!

If you are a first time home buyer we have good news to share. The VHDA increased their income limits effective September 5th for their first time home buyer loan programs. Qualified first-time homebuyers may receive a percentage of the purchase price to help with the down payment. The maximum grant will be 2 – 2.5 % of the purchase price, based on the down payment required for the eligible VHDA loan. If you are first time buyer, or know someone who is, have them give us a call to discuss this opportunity.


It’s Not Too Early To Think About The Holidays!

Start your holiday shopping at the Seventh Annual Suffolk Artisan Gift Fair!

Visit the Suffolk Visitor Center Pavilion on Saturday, November 23rd from 10am to 3pm and you’ll find festive live music, a petting zoo, face painting and a bounce house. Enjoy light refreshments inside the Visitor Center wander through the Artisan Gift Fair where you will  find traditional outdoor holiday market features artisan-quality crafts, jewelry, soaps, fine art, candles, woodcrafts, birdhouses, crocheted items, jams and jellies, totes, holiday ornaments, wreaths, baked goods, seasonal produce, meats and more.

For more information about this event, please contact the Suffolk Visitor Center at 757.514.4130 or www.VisitSuffolkVa.com

Don’t forget that the Suffolk Farmers’ Market is still open each Saturday now through November 23, 2019.

Shop for fresh locally grown fruits and vegetables, jams and jellies, eggs and milk, meats and poultry, honey, baked goods, pickles and relish, salsa, fresh-cut flowers, and a variety of artisan-crafted goods.

{Re}Stored has come back to Suffolk!Stroll along Main Street on Saturday, November 30th from 10am to 4pm and find handcrafted, homemade and eclectic gifts for those special people in your life. Visit merchants throughout Suffolk’s historic downtown district offering artisan-quality crafts, jewelry, soaps and bath salts, fine art, needlework, ceramics, woodcrafts, crocheted items, jams and jellies, nuts, pottery, totes and handbags, holiday ornaments, home décor, and more. Discounts and holiday specials from other downtown established retailers and restaurateurs’ will be offered as well.

{Re}Stored will be open to the public free of charge. Free parking will be available throughout the downtown area as well.

As part of Suffolk’s “Love Local, Buy Suffolk” initiative, the {Re}Stored event encourages residents and visitors to support owner-operated businesses, as well as support the continued effort of revitalizing the Downtown Suffolk area. Guests to the event will also enjoy complimentary coffee and refreshments, live entertainment, visits from Santa, and so much more!

There’s lots to do in Suffolk in November!


Market Summary

Selling Homes and Setting Records

Selling a house for top dollar is always a team effort between the realtor and the seller and the work starts well before the listing hits the market.  Recently, we worked with a seller that wanted to sell but was not quite ready to put the sign in the yard.  They took some time, and with our advice, made a few minor changes.  That listing is under contract for what will be an all-time high resale price in Kilby Shores if it closes. 

As you can see by the statistics below, the market is trending in a direction that is helpful for sellers and, with interest rates staying low, buyers still have a good amount of purchasing power. Last week, one of our listings sold and was the highest priced sale in the neighborhood in over a decade and highest resale price ever in Windsor Woods.

Our local market usually stays decent through Thanksgiving, so if you are thinking about selling you have time to get your home listed and take advantage of the current market.  Give us a call, or just reply back to this email and we will come give you a free market analysis on your current home. 

Lee 757-726-SOLD (7653) or Harry 757-434-9084

 Lee and Harry

It’s  Time For The 42nd Annual Peanut Fest

It’s time to celebrate peanuts at the 42nd annual Peanut Fest!  Known throughout the Mid-Atlantic for its fun family activities, the festival offers rides, concerts, fireworks, a mud jam, shrimp feast, demolition derby, festival food,  peanut butter sculpting, petting zoo, Swamp Roar Motorcycle Rally, pony rides, arts & crafts, corn hole, karaoke, and so much more!

The fun starts on Thursday, October 10, and runs through Sunday, October 13. 

General admission:$10 per person. Children 10 & under FREE.
Parking is FREE. Debit/credit cards accepted. Early Bird: online only. $7.75 per person + fee.CARLOAD DAY: Thursday, October 10 – one car, van or truck – passengers must be legally seated in vehicle. $40 includes admission + all-you-can-ride wristbands for up to 8 people. MILITARY APPRECIATION DAY: Sunday, October 13 – $5 admission with proper I.D.

For more information follow the link at http://www.suffolkpeanutfest.com/

See you there!

So Much to Do and So Little Time!

Come visit Driver Village for the 26th Annual Fall Festival on October 19th and 20th. You’ll find small-town charm with a blend of historic landmarks and warm southern hospitality.  The festival will feature two days of free family fun, including: musical entertainment, a craft beer garden, food, carnival games with pony and train rides, cornhole tournament, Strongwill Kids 1 Mile & 5K Fun Run/Walk and more!

Visit Nike Park on Saturday October 12th for a ghostly good time! There will be family friendly activities and trick or treating from 5pm-7pm, and a Creepy Carnival Haunted Trail from 7pm-9pm.

Suffolk’s Bennett’s Creek Park will transform into a Drive-In Movie Theater and host a showing of Ghostbusters on Saturday, October 19th.   Watch two big screens and stay comfy in your car or bring your lawn chairs and blankets and get the best seat in the park.  Two full concession areas are available with food and treats with no outside food or drink allowed. 

The park is located at 3000 Bennett’s Creek Park Road. Pets are welcome on a leash when outside of your vehicle. The event is always free and open to the public. The movie will begin at approximately 8:15 PM


Want to See Something That Will Make Sellers Smile?

If we were going to make up statistics about our local real estate market that would make a seller happy, they would look something like this:

We didn’t make these numbers up! They are the actual numbers from the Real Estate Information Network (our local MLS).  The majority of them are year over year comparables (July 2019 vs.July 2018). 

Looking at some other numbers, there is an interesting trend when comparing the numbers for June and July of this year.  July had over two thousand fewer active listings than there were in June, but July had a small increase in the number of pending sales (100, roughly 3%) and settled or closed sales (62, roughly 2%).

Because the number of listings is down, this is a good time to list your house, especially if it is under $300,000, where inventory is the tightest.  It will be interesting to see where the August numbers come in, since it is traditionally one of the slowest months for sales.

We do have some good news for buyers and everyone with a mortgage.  If you haven’t checked your current interest rate in the last two or three years, you should read what Bill and Hunter Duggan with Atlantic Bay have to say below.

During the last update we asked: Over the last three years in zip codes 23434, 23437, and 23438 how many houses were listed and sold for more than $600,000?  The answer is that 12 homes sold for over $600,000, and Lee was the only agent to have listed and sold more than one of those homes. Whatever your home’s price range is, we are ready, willing and able to help get top dollar for your home.

Give us a call to talk about your options:  Lee 757-726-SOLD (7653), Harry 757-434-9084, or just reply back to this email.

Lee and Harry

Grab Your Dog and Go!

Who doesn’t like a walk in the park with your favorite 4 legged friend? So, grab your dog and join your friends and neighbors at Bennett’s Creek Park for the 11th Annual Mutt Strut.

This year’s event will be held at Bennett’s Creek Park on Sunday, September 15, from 11am-4pm promises lots of pet related activities and fun for the entire family, including the four-legged ones.  Best of all, it’s free!

Thanks to the generous support of businesses and individuals in our community, Suffolk Humane has been able to make a huge difference for so many animals since it was founded in 2007. Their goal is to raise $35,000 to help make 2019 the best year yet!

Make a plan to spend the day in the park and don’t forget there are lots of pets looking for their fur-ever homes that will be available at the Adopt-a-Thon on Saturday and Sunday, September 14 and 15 at the PetSmart stores in Western Branch and Northern Suffolk.

Interest rates have been moving lower since the start of June and have recently reached the lowest levels we have seen in three years. Not only is it a great time to purchase, it’s a great time to refinance. If you would like to know how much you can afford when purchasing, or how much you can save with refinancing, give me a call.

Bill Duggan, Sr. Mortgage Banker, Atlantic Bay Mortgage Group (757)615-5172 or billduggan@atlanticbay.com

When The Weather Gets Bad

We are heading into peak Hurricane Season and we still have a few weeks left to deal with our usual and sometimes severe thunderstorms.  Understanding severe weather terms can help you and your loved stay safe when the weather gets bad.

Hurricane Warning: Hurricane conditions are expected in the warning area within the next 48 hours. Complete your storm preparations. Leave the affected area if directed by local officials–Know your zone.

Hurricane Watch: Issued when a hurricane with sustained winds of 74 mph (65 knots, 118 km/h) or higher is possible.

Severe Thunderstorm Watch: There is a possibility that severe thunderstorms may occur in your area.

Severe Thunderstorm Warning: A severe thunderstorm is occurring or will likely occur soon in your area.

Flash Flood Watch: Due to heavy or excessive rainfall in a short period of time; your area may experience flooding.

Flash Flood Warning: Flash flooding is in progress, imminent, or highly likely. Seek higher ground immediately or evacuate if directed to do so.

Tornado Watch: Tornadoes are possible in your area. Remain alert for approaching storms.

Tornado Warning: A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Take shelter immediately.

Prepare For Severe Weather: More steps that you can take to keep yourself and loved ones safe include:  An emergency kit prepared with supplies. Include things such as:  Alternate fuel source for heating your home, flashlights and batteries, blankets, food that needs no cooking or refrigeration, 3 day supply of water, prescription medicines, battery operated radio, flashlights and cell phone chargers. Prepare your car with emergency supplies. Check batteries in smoke detectors and carbon monoxide monitors. Update important documents: insurance information and home inventory. Store them in your emergency kit or a waterproof container.

Remember, days without power means days without electronic devices.  Make sure that you have a written list of important phone numbers and medications!

For more information and printable checklist visit the Virginia Department of Health at:
http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/content/uploads/sites/6/2016/01/DisasterChecklist-1.pdf


Specializing in properties in South Hampton Roads, Virginia.