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.

The Overwhelming Numbers & Trivia Question

We have all been overwhelmed by numbers in 2020.  The stock market went up, then way down, and now back up again.  COVID cases were going up, then down, and now are on the rise again.  The local real estate market also has had its share of fluctuations, but thankfully they are little less confusing. The news for sellers is good – houses are selling fast and prices are increasing! Here is a chart of the real estate stats for Hampton Roads based on numbers from June:

As you can see, there were 37.20% fewer homes listed for sale in June 2020 than in June 2019. Additionally, 31.25% more homes went under contract (pending) in June 2020 than in June 2019.  In May 2020 there was only 2.54 months of inventory, and that reduced to 2.33 months in June.  An average market typically has between 5 and 7 months of inventory.  The median sale price was up almost three percent in June, and we expect that number to keep going higher based on our July transactions.

We are interested to see what the month of August will bring.  Traditionally August is one of the slowest months of the year for new listings and properties going under contract.  However, it wouldn’t be surprising if the normal slow down doesn’t happen this year. Low inventory combined with cancelled vacations because of COVID could lead to a busier than usual August. 

Finally, for a little fun; we have a summer real estate 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.  What is it?  You can reply back to this email and the first three people with the correct answer will get a prize. 

If you would like to discuss your real estate needs; please email us @ info@callcrossrealty.com or call us at (757)726-7653 (for Lee) or (757) 434-9084 (for Harry).  We love real estate and are always happy to talk!

Lee and Harry

At the end of March and early April we saw a number of loan programs disappear overnight due to the economic fallout over Covid-19. Thankfully, we have started to see some of these loan programs return. There are Jumbo lenders that have slowly started to return to the market. However, their guidelines have tightened up on credit scores and debt ratios. We also received some good news this week from the Virginia Housing Development Authority, now known as Virginia Housing. They have brought back their reduced down payment Conventional loan. The benefits of this program are a low 3% down payment, a reduced mortgage insurance premium and the possibility of obtaining a 2% grant to be used towards the down payment. 

Interest rates have remained at historic lows making a housing payment more affordable than ever. If you’re interested in finding out how much you would qualify for, or what loan program would be a good fit for you – give us a call. We would be happy to walk you through the process and help identify the best program for you.

Give us a call, or shoot us an email if you’re in the market to purchase a home, or a refinance.Bill Duggan, Sr. Mortgage Banker at  757-615-5172 or email billduggan@atlanticbay.com .

It’s HOT HOT HOT

Keeping cool when the heat is on can be hard.  So here are a few tips to help you keep your cool inside:

Be reasonable in your expectations: In this region, the summer design temperature for cooling equipment is about 95°. That means when it hits that temperature outside, your AC unit will run full tilt to keep your house cool. Higher outside temps may cause your house to be a little bit warmer than what you’d really prefer. Most AC units can only offer a 20-degree difference from outside to inside.

Do NOT crank the thermostat down: Leave it set where you normally have it. Moving the dial from 76° to 72° will not change the temperature of the air coming out of the registers; it just makes the unit run longer to reach the desired temperature. If your unit is already running full time to keep the house at 76°, moving the dial down will not make the house any cooler.

Make sure the filter is clean: Take a look and change it or clean it if you even THINK it’s dirty. A dirty filter will make your AC unit work harder than it needs to. That costs you extra money and you won’t be as cool.

Close your curtains, shades, or blinds and don’t block vents or returns: Keeping the sunshine out will help keep the rooms as cool as possible. If you don’t like feeling like you are in a cave, then just close them on the east side in the morning and the west side in the afternoon. If you have south-facing windows, you may want to keep them closed all day to keep the heat down in those rooms. The key to comfort is to keep the air flowing. Move furniture around so that you are not blocking any supply or return registers.

Check the outdoor unit: Make sure that air can move freely around your unit.  Be sure it’s free of grass clippings, leaves, pet hair, and other things. Having the unit cover clear allows the air to flow better and the unit to dissipate the heat it is pulling from your house. 

Avoid using your dryer and oven in the hottest hours of the day:  We all can use a break from laundry and cooking chores from time to time.  A dinner of cold salads, sandwiches or take-out might be just the thing.

Now, did someone say ice tea?

The Real Estate Market Isn’t Shut Down

Last month we wrote about the effects of COVID-19 and lower number of homes for sale across Hampton Roads.  You can read it by clicking this link:

https://www.callcrossrealty.com/2020/05/01/lee-and-harrys-real-estate-update/


The decline in active listings has continued and the median sales price is going up.  Here are the percentages in chart format:

In our view, this is all driven by a lack of supply (homes listed for sale).  After steadily increasing, including double digit percentage gains, the pending sales have reached a breaking point and dropped a little over five percent last month.  This isn’t due to lack of demand; it is due to lack of available homes for sale.  This is especially true for any homes that are listed under $300,000. 

Despite some changes to the local market, Cross Realty is seeing a lot of activity! Lee currently has 11 properties that he is involved with under contract and Harry and the rest of our great agents have many more as well. 

In short, the local real estate market isn’t shut down. If anything, prices may have been driven higher by COVID-19 and we know how to help both buyers and sellers. Of course, each situation is different, and we have found the combination of a lack of supply and COVID has resulted in our advice sometimes looking very different for individual circumstances.  If you would like to discuss your real estate needs, please call us at (757) 726-7653 for Lee or (757) 434-9084 for Harry).  We love real estate and are always happy to talk. 

Lee and Harry

Mortgage Rates Hover Near All-Time Lows – 


Based on Freddie Mac reports, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage inched up recently to an average of 3.26%, but remains near its record low. “Mortgage rates stayed at or near record lows for the fifth straight week and homeowners are taking advantage with refinance activity remaining high,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.


It’s a great time to purchase with interest rates being near all time lows. Give us a call if you would like to know how much you could qualify for, or how much you could save with a refinance. Give me a call anytime-Bill Duggan, Sr. Mortgage Banker at 757-615-5172 or email billduggan@atlanticbay.com 

Let’s Go Camping… At Home!

If you are an outdoor lover and your free time is usually characterized by activities such as hiking and camping, one thing is sure; you’re finding it hard to cope with the current situation.  So, how about turning your backyard into the ultimate campsite for a little family fun!

  • Prepare Your Food and Camping Gear 

You want this to feel like the real camping experience, right? If yes, then you have to prepare for it just like you would for the real camping trip. Pack all your camping essentials such as kitchen camping gear and utensils, insect repellent, sunscreen, toiletries, flashlight, non-perishable food and snacks, pillows, and a sleeping bag and on top of it all, your tent. Or, make one with blankets and sheets. If you have your real gear, it will feel as if you are camping and you’ll not have to keep on running back to the house and ruining the experience.

  •  Prepare Some Dinner 

After setting up the campsite and everything is ready, prepare some dinner for everyone.  Bring out the snacks and sandwiches or fire up the grill.  Once the meal is ready, set up the camp chairs in a circle, pass out the plates, serve, and enjoy.

  • Let The Games Begin

It’s time to play!  Charades is an excellent example of a game that both adults and kids can play. Consider a scavenger hunt, horseshoes, ring toss, corn-hole or even twenty-one questions.  

  • Don’t Forget the Campfire

Camping is never complete without a bonfire or time around the fire-pit. Consider dessert under the stars by lighting a bonfire. You can sit around the fire making s’mores or roasting some marshmallows while discussing your future camping plans. 


While its true our weekend get-away and vacation plans have been disrupted, we can still find a little camping joy… right in our own backyards
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Lee and Harry’s Real Estate Update

In the over 65 years that Cross Realty has operated under the leadership of my grandfather, and now myself and my father; we have encountered many situations that have impacted our local real estate market in interesting ways. In uncertain times, we have been able to help our clients with their individual real estate needs using our extensive market knowledge and vast experience. Certainly, COVID-19 and its repercussions are unlike anything any of us have experienced but we have the knowledge, the tools, and the skills to help you navigate the market now and always.

Our local housing market, like all markets of any type is driven by supply and demand. As changes in the supply (number of homes listed for sale) and demand (numbers of buyers looking for a home in a given price range) occur, the price and time it takes each house to sell also changes. As you can see in the chart below, the March numbers from the Real Estate Information Network (or local MLS) show that when comparing March 2019 to March 2020 the number of active listings (houses for sale) declined 21.37%, homes under contract (pending) went up by 21.55%, and most importantly the median sale price rose 8.70% to $249,900.

Supply was already trending down before COVID-19 hit and after response measures were put in place many sellers made the decision to wait on listing their homes. The number of buyers looking to move this month has gone down overall. However, due to the limited number of homes for sale, the buyer demand is higher than the current supply of homes.

Everyone’s situation is different and the market will continue to change as we move through the pandemic. Right now, we do think it is a good time to sell your house, especially if your house is vacant making social distancing easier. We use an innovative online marketing program to allow buyers to do complete and realistic tours of homes online. This lets buyers have their first and often second showings completely online, helping to maintain social distancing. Curb appeal is also very important in this market as more buyers are driving by the homes they want to see before they make an appointment to go inside.

We can’t predict the future, but we can help you prepare. 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 back to this email or call us at (757-726-SOLD (7653) for Lee – 757-434-9084 for Harry). We love real estate and are always happy to talk.

Lee and Harry

Interest rates have remained at very low levels (low to mid 3% range) for all traditional loan programs – Conventional, FHA and VA. COVID – 19 has had an impact the overall tightening of credit score requirements and the disappearance of the Jumbo market. The increased risk due to the rapid rise in unemployment figures brought those changes about.

If you’re considering purchasing a home it is best to start planning now. Contact us to have your credit checked to make sure you won’t be impacted by any of the recent changes.   Give me a call anytime-Bill Duggan, Sr. Mortgage Banker at  757-615-5172 or email billduggan@atlanticbay.com.

Shop Our Local Farmers Markets

Customers may order directly from participating market vendors via phone or email and picking up their orders on Saturday, May 2, 2020, at the Suffolk Visitor Center parking lot. This new system will provide the community with the opportunity to purchase garden-fresh fruits and vegetables, baked goods, jams and jellies, meats and poultry, plus personal care products from many of their favorite market vendors each Saturday.  Product lists will be available every Tuesday. 

Order pickups are scheduled for Saturdays, from 9am until noon, in a drive-thru process only, circling through the Visitor Center parking lot with vendors situated according to recommended social distancing safety practices in light of the COVID-19 crisis. Customers are to enter and exit the parking lot using the Constance Road access only. Pre-payment is required for orders as no additional on-site sales, cash transactions, or walk-up customers are allowed.

Once social distancing restrictions are relaxed, the Suffolk Farmers’ Market will proceed as a regular Market, offering Market-To-Go products, as well as arts, crafts, and additional items. 

SuffolkVAFarmersMarket.com or www.Facebook.com/SuffolkFarmersMarketVirginia

Smithfield will also have a drive-through Farmers Market!  

While it is a scaled down version, you can order through on-line and pickup all those fresh local goods at our May 2nd Drive-thru Market.

Specializing in properties in South Hampton Roads, Virginia.