February 20th, 2014 by Lisa Oates · No Comments
If you are planning a garden, placing windows strategically in your new home construction project, or installing solar panels for going green, this SunCalc tool is for you! Even if you’re not currently doing any of the aforementioned tasks, its pretty sweet to see how the sun moves over your specific property.
Simply enter your address at the top, and SunCalc will show you sun position, sunlight phases, sunrise, sunset, dusk, and dawn times there. Here is an image for our downtown office address for February 19, 2014.
Obviously as the seasons change, sunrise and sunset times will change. So, say you are planning a garden and you want to know which part of your yard will get the most sun exposure on July 15th… you can change the date with this tool, too!
There are tools you can purchase at home improvement and gardening centers that you stick in the ground and wait several hours or days for information like this to help you, but why go to the cost and trouble when a free, easy-to-use web tool will calculate this for you? We all have moments when we love technology and others when we hate it. This is one of those times when we love it.
February 19th, 2014 by Lisa Oates · No Comments
Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance is throwing a party! On Monday evening, February 24th, toast to another year of downtown’s success, hear exciting plans for the future, and enjoy complimentary refreshments, while also finding out who has won Design Excellence Awards, Partner of the Year Award, and Volunteer of the Year Awards.
Several local businesses have sponsored the event, and it is sure to be a great night of celebration.
Celebration and Reception
Monday, February 24, 2014
5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
February 19th, 2014 by Lisa Oates · No Comments
Scrabble — a competitive word game for people of all ages to enjoy — was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame ten years ago. To mark this anniversary, to raise funds for education programs at Skyline Literacy, and to just plain have fun, area residents can compete this Sunday, February 23rd, in a Scrabble tournament!
The National Toy Hall of Fame is based in Rochester, New York, and honors games and toys that “inspire creative play and enjoy popularity over a sustained period.” In 2004, Scrabble entered this elite group, along with GI Joe and the rocking horse. Hundreds of other Scrabble tournaments are taking place this year to commemorate the 10 year anniversary, too. What a fun way to get the community together for an afternoon of friendly competition!
At the Skyline Literacy tournament on Sunday, great prizes — donated by local businesses — can be won. All proceeds will help support the nonprofit organization’s programs in literacy, English as a second language, citizenship training, and CED prep courses, which are taught by 60 volunteers to 300 students.
According to Elizabeth Girvan, Executive Director of Skyline Literacy, the tournament games range from “ultra-serious to ones where the competitors seem to spend more time laughing than they do spelling… The afternoon of community spirit reminds us why this is such a good place to live, and why the students in our programs want to gain the skills to make even greater contributions.”
Scrabble Tournament to Raise Funds for Skyline Literacy
Sunday, February 23, 2014
2:00 PM – 4:30 PM
Skyline Middle School [map]
Entry Fees: $15/person, or $40/3-member team
Registration: at the door, which opens at 1:30 PM, or call 540-433-0505
English and Spanish Scrabble boards will be available
Not into Scrabble but want to donate funds to the cause? Make a donation online at Network for Good!
Tags: Events · Fun · Places
February 13th, 2014 by Lisa Oates · No Comments
The Blue Ridge Mountains and foothills of eastern Rockingham County have an amazing history of Appalachian Music development, with bluegrass music jams dating back to the 1730s. These jams are considered the bread and butter of a Shenandoah Valley music heritage.
Now all can enjoy, and even participate in (if desired), bluegrass jam sessions in Elkton. Every Tuesday evening from 6:00 – 8:00 PM from now through May 13th, and starting up again this fall, young and old, novice and experienced are welcome to jam at the Elkton Community Center. It is free and open to the public!
PHOTO CREDITS: Kneeling LtoR: Danny Lam, Don DePoy, Randy Edward, Cliff Shifflett.
Standing LtoR: Martha Hills, Jerry Armstrong (banjo), Walter Grooms, Hazel Randall, Allen Kennedy, Bill Randall, Greg Eppard
Wondering what a Bluegrass jam is like? Acoustic. Creating music by ear without written notation. 3-part harmonies. Instant performing art that has been going on in the valleys, mountains, cabins, garages, and front porches of eastern Rockingham County for over 275 years.
Bonus: Did you know that Elkton is the childhood home place of Patsy Cline?
Bluegrass Jam Sessions
Tuesdays through May 13, 2014
6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Elkton Community Center
FREE – All ages welcome
February 12th, 2014 by The Harrisonburg Homes Team · No Comments
So some of our faithful blog readers enjoy data and charts, and others just don’t. We get it. Poring over numbers isn’t for everyone. This became wildly obvious to us last month when we created an infographic portraying the key market stats rather than only showing our usual tables and graphs. Therefore, we’ve decided to give everyone the best of both worlds!
Now, you can quickly scroll through our monthly market reports and simply view and read what you want. No lengthy analyses. We’ll give you the visuals, and if we believe there is a need to expand on what you see, we’ll write a short blurb with our thoughts on the matter. At the end of each report, we’ll include a summary, for those of you who prefer the written word.
Enjoy the new visually stimulating market reports! First up: January 2014…
[ INFOGRAPHIC ]
[ TABLES ]
Note the increases in sales, average sold/list percentage (the difference between a seller’s final list price versus the sales price… i.e. 100% = sales price is same as asking price), and average price per square foot!
Fewer contracts were written, but the contracts written were for higher prices, and those homes sat on the market for nearly two months less time.
[ GRAPHS ]
[ SUMMARY ]
January is usually slow in the real estate world. The weather is frigid, folks are recovering from the busy holiday season, and still waiting on their tax returns. We (almost) always see a refreshing lift in sales and contracts throughout the spring months. However, we still saw an 8.5% increase in sales compared to last year at this time, along with an uptick of 3.2% in average sold/list percentage and 5.3% in average price per square foot. Plus, a decrease in average days on market of 47 days. All of these numbers bode well for the year to come. Starting off the year with a relatively strong January always gives us hope for the coming months. We believe this year will continue to be a buyers market, but that certain trends will occur positively for sellers as well, such as steady improvement in home values.
[ SHARE ]
Remember, you can always share any info you find valuable with your friends! Hover over “ShareThis” below to choose your favorite sharing method.
Tags: Market Trends
February 6th, 2014 by Lisa Oates · No Comments
Photographs were discovered at the Harrisonburg Redevelopment and Housing Authority documenting which buildings were destroyed in an Urban Renewal Project during the 1960s. These photographs are now part of an exhibit entitled What Was Lost: Urban Renewal in 1960s Harrisonburg that James Madison University’s Institute for Visual Studies created. In Roop Hall, room 208, you can view this exhibit free of charge from now until April 4th.
Head on over to the exhibit when you have a chance to take in how urban development changed Harrisonburg. It is open from 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM, Monday through Friday. February 4 – April 4. Find Roop Hall on JMU’s Campus Map.
Tags: Events · Issues
February 6th, 2014 by Lisa Oates · No Comments
The craft beer will be flowing and the live music will be amped up at the 4th annual Rocktown Beer & Music Festival at Turner Pavilion in downtown Harrisonburg. This is always a sold out event, so get your tickets now! Here are the details:
Rocktown Beer & Music Festival
Turner Pavilion [map + directions]
Saturday, April 26, 2014
2:30 PM – 8:00 PM
www.rocktownfestival.com (short video about the festival included!)
$34 for full access, $22 for designated drivers and underage
Purchase tickets online
Tags: Events · Fun
February 4th, 2014 by Ron Ross · 1 Comment
Buying your first home can be a very intimidating life event. However, there are things you can do to make it less nerve racking and more of what it should be…fun and exciting. The best way to eliminate fear is through education, so obviously the first step is already being taken if you’re reading this. As a first time homebuyer, here are some things you should understand:
Talk to a lender who will take the time to explain the loan process
I’m going to assume that the most intimidating part of buying your first home for most people is the 30 year mortgage (most likely) that you will be agreeing to. Sounds scary, right? Wrong, because the first step in this process is talking to a lender who will take the time to sit down with you and explain to you everything you need to know about mortgages and how they work. If you do this, you will have the comfort level and confidence you need when making an offer on a home with your Realtor®.
I won’t bore you at this point with all of the different mortgage options that are out there and the guidelines and requirements that go with them, but what I do want to do is talk to you a little bit about the pre-qualifying process and what you can expect when going through that.
THE PRE-QUALIFICATION PROCESS
Fill out an application for a loan
The first thing you will need to do when meeting with your lender is fill out an application. This can be done a few ways; it can be done via a phone conversation, an online application, or the old fashion way of making an appointment and doing it in person. All of these ways are equally effective, and with so many means of communication, whichever of these fit best into your schedule is the way I would recommend.
Pull credit and look at income
Once your mortgage advisor has all of the information needed it’s time to pull credit and look at income. Credit profiles and income are the biggest determining factors in getting pre-qualified for a loan. There are still loan types out there that don’t require a down payment, but there aren’t any mortgage products that don’t require a credit score and income evaluation. Since this is the most crucial part of getting your pre-qualification, you will need to provide some needed information that I will describe later.
Discuss which loan types are best for you
Once a thorough review of your credit, income and assets are completed by the mortgage advisor, it is time to discuss which loan types are best for you. This is the point where the discussion turns to down payment options, mortgage insurance discussion and explaining closing costs…what they are and how they are paid.
Once you have decided what mortgage type suits you best and the mortgage advisor determines you’re eligible, you are now pre-qualified and ready to start shopping!
THE LOAN PROCESS
After you, with your Realtors® help, find a home and successfully negotiate a contract, that is when the actual loan process begins. Getting through the loan process should now be a lot less intimidating because you have already taken the proper steps in the prequalifying process. Here are a few of the things you can be prepared to give to your mortgage advisor at the initial prequalification:
- Last 2 years tax returns with all W2’s and 1099’s
- Most recent pay stub for all borrowers
- Most recent 2 months bank statements
This may not be all you need to provide, but this is the starting point. If you have any questions please contact me.
Special thanks goes to guest author Ron Ross at VBS Mortgage in Harrisonburg for this post! More about Ron:
Ron has lived in the Harrisonburg/Rockingham County area since 1988. He enjoys spending time with family and the many friends he has made since his family relocated here from Richmond after growing up in Ohio. His favorite activities are playing golf, softball, and basketball. He has 2 grown children, one of which is a freshman at JMU. He has been a mortgage advisor since August of 2004 and has navigated the many changes the market has thrown his way since 2008. He absolutely loves his job of helping people with what is usually their biggest financial decision.
February 3rd, 2014 by Lisa Oates · No Comments
For the first time in the Commonwealth of Virginia, Harrisonburg’s vibrant downtown has been named a “Culinary District,” thanks to approval from Harrisonburg’s city council on January 28th.
Why a culinary district?
Mostly because it will bring more people downtown to enjoy the variety of restaurants available. The food industry is booming downtown, not just because of the many restaurants located there, but also because of food-related businesses, such as City Exchange, Wetsel Seed, Cassco Ice, Rocco Feeds, and Shenandoah’s Pride, that started off downtown and have since made national impact in the food industry. Plus, according to Harrisonburg Tourism and Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance, The Friendly City “became a leader in adopting the farm-to-table trend in all aspects of its food-related heritage, culture, and economy.”
Food Culture in Harrisonburg
Culinary enthusiasts enjoy dining at more than 30 locally-owned restaurants and eateries downtown, each with its own unique flavors and atmospheres. More than 15 food-related businesses can also be found here, like the year-round farmers market, specialty wine and beer shops, food tours, cooking classes, and more. Events that celebrate food and beverages welcome folks to downtown as well: Taste of Downtown, Rocktown Beer & Music Festival, National Food Day Farm-to-Table Breakfast, Chocolate Walk, and more.
Accolades for our Local Foodie Scene
A new Downtown Culinary District designation adds to a long list of accolades for Harrisonburg’s foodie scene.
In 2013 alone, Harrisonburg and its food-related businesses received notable mentions or awards in the Washingtonian, Blue Ridge Outdoors, Wine Enthusiast, Travel + Leisure, Huffington Post, USA Today, Blue Ridge Country, The Daily Meal, Virginia Living, Southern Living, The Local Palate, and many other local, regional and national publications.
Map of the New Downtown Culinary District
Want to learn more about how food fits into Harrisonburg’s culture?
[click map image to view larger version]
Check out these videos on YouTube:
Food in the Friendly City
Harrisonburg, VA: The Dining Destination of the Shenandoah Valley
So tell us… where is your favorite place to dine downtown?
Tags: News · Places · Videos
January 23rd, 2014 by The Harrisonburg Homes Team · No Comments
With a new year always comes new possibilities, and 2014 is no exception. Our team is excited to welcome Zach Koops, a JMU graduate (’06) who is a funny, hip, intelligent guy, and passionate about his new career with The Harrisonburg Homes Team. Read on to get to know him a bit better… trust us, he’s great!
How long have you lived in Harrisonburg?
Like many of my colleagues, James Madison University is what drew me to the Valley. Having grown up in the Appalachian Mountains of western Maryland, the transition to Harrisonburg was relatively seamless. I simply moved further down the mountain range. Though I must admit, I find our views of the Blue Ridge Mountains to be much better here, not to mention the slightly warmer climate.
What did you do before real estate?
About a year after graduating in 2006, a friend presented an opportunity to work as a production assistant at Tradeshowdirect, a local trade show display provider. I left the bar manager position I held at Buffalo Wild Wings and joined the TSD team on West Water Street. I quickly moved up the ladder into a sales position and stayed on for over six years. During that time, the company expanded into a 30,000 square foot facility on North Main Street, half of which now houses Three Brothers Brewing.
Why did you decide to pursue a career in real estate?
My parents bought a 19th century farmhouse when I was ten. I grew up amidst the entire renovation, which lasted about ten years, and ever since, I’ve been infected with the home improvement bug. During high school and college, I worked as a professional painter and a plumber’s assistant, and now when I enter an older home, I start picturing how it could be updated. At some point I realized my passion for home improvement could translate into a career in real estate, and when Chris mentioned I would be a good fit on the team, I decided to go for it.
What is your role on the team?
Working with buyers and sellers is just the beginning! My background in trade show marketing gives me a unique position in the world of real estate. As the newest, youngest, and hippest member on the team, I’ve enjoyed bringing fresh ideas to the table to help better market our company, and our sellers’ properties. I also make sure my older colleagues don’t collect too much dust.
What do you love about this job?
Honestly? The properties. I know everyone says the people they meet is what they love most, and I do like that part of my job. But I’m passionate about homes. I love exploring the local housing market and getting to know homes intimately. Every property has a history, and history is abundant in the Valley. And the more history I know about each property, the better I can serve my clients, whom I love getting to know.
Best place in Harrisonburg for a cup of coffee?
Our new downtown office, of course!
Favorite outdoor dining spot?
Clementine’s back patio is one of my favorites, even when it rains.
Contact Zach by email, stop by our office to chat in person, or give him a call at 540-746-8753!
Tags: News · People · The Team