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Culpeper Market November 2011

If you want it in a sound bite: Inventory is much improved. Sales stink!

Here are the details of the Culpeper real estate market.

Year over year the number of houses for sale is down almost 20%. That's terrific news! There are now fewer than 10 months of inventory at the current sales pace. That's getting pretty close to what's traditionally been defined as a healthy market.

You can, of course, find depressing stats as well.

The dollar volume of real estate sold this November as compared to a year ago is down 44%. That's a substantial number. The number of houses sold is down 36%.

But the average sales price is only down 8% year over year. Not nearly so gloomy.

The average days on market has actually improved. A year ago it took, on average over 3 months to get a contract on your house. Now that number is 79 days.

What happens next depends on several factors, including:

  • How many foreclosures are banks waiting to dump on the market?
  • Will Europe implode and drag us back into recession?
  • Will the unemployment numbers continue to improve?
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Culpeper Foreclosures

Despite what you read in the news media and hear from banks, in Culpeper County, at least, there does not appear to be much slowing down of foreclosures.

There were 78 new listings in Culpeper last month. 38 of those were foreclosures. Another 17 were short sales, meaning the house is worth less than it will sell for. That's 55 listings or just over 70% of new listings being bank owned or influenced.

It's going to be tough to get to a stabilized market as long as that's true. While Prince William county appears well on its way to a more normal real estate market; Culpeper county clearly still has  way to go.

So, what hapened to all the banks who were supposed to be holding off on any more foreclosures?

In general, we're seeing a long lag time between a foreclosure happening and that particular home being put up for sale. So, most of these homes that came on the market in February probably actually went into foreclosure some time in 2008.

If the banks really are following a moratorium on new foreclosures, I'd expect to see the impact of that in the April/May time frame. Will owner occupied homes then start to come back on the market to fill that void? I suspect that most will hold off waiting to see some evidence of appreciation in values.

That may mean the tightest inventory we've seen in Culpeper during the spring and summer for at least three years. And, if that happens, there may, finally be some good news for sellers.

Good news in this case simply means a stabilization of prices. I think we're still a long way from much in the way of seeing rising prices!

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Culpeper's Future

I couldn't have said this better myself! Here, in the Culpeper Star Exponent is a framework for Culpeper's future.

I'd add that we should look at the transportation issues and work on better rail connections with these technology centers.

And, I'd add to his rationale for attracting high tech jobs that they tend to pay well enough for people to afford to buy homes, as opposed to service industry jobs.

The local real estate market could use that shot in the arm!

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Culpeper Train Gains Momentum

It's no secret that higher gas prices are one of the factors hurting our local housing market. Culpeper seems to "get" this in a way other local jurisdictions haven't yet.

They're hard at work at getting another Amtrak train. See this Culpeper Star Exponent article for more details. If you haven't gotten involved yet, this is worth your time! Sign the petition!

The Culpeper Rail Coalition, part of the larger Piedmont Rail Coalition is leading the local efforts. Opportunities to get involved are detailed on their web site.

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Culpeper Foreclosure Pain

There was a story in yesterday's Culpeper Start Exponent about a couple in Culpeper county who are losing their home to foreclosure. It's just one of the many painful stories out there. This couple is right in saying they're not alone. Not even close!

The article also briefly discusses where the foreclosures are concentrated. As you'd expect, most of them are in the recent developments in Culpeper. Lakeview, the largest of those developments, is the hardest hit. But the other new developments along 522 aren't far behind.


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The Train is Coming!

Date: Apr. 25, 2008
Tags: , , , , , ,

It appears some of what I've envisioned for Culpeper may be coming to pass. With new condos slated to be built downtown right across from the train depot and now another Amtrak train to and from DC potentially being added, I like the long term outlook for Culpeper!

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Culpeper March Numbers

I'm a little late getting March's numbers out to you all. Blame the IRS! But now that taxes are done, it's time to dive into the numbers and take a look. I haven't done individual posts by county for awhile so I'll be doing that over the course of the next few days.

Today it's Culpeper.

The biggest difference between February and March is the number of new listings coming on the market. Last month there were 206 new listings. This month there were only 142 new listings. That would seem to be helpful to the total amount of inventory on the market but there's only a slight difference (February: 819, March: 802). The other notable difference is the number of sales which increased from 31 in February to 42 in March.

Those numbers are interesting, but the more interesting comparison is with what happened a year ago. Remember, real estate is very seasonal. Spring markets are very different from fall or winter markets. The best comparison is almost always year over year changes.

In March of 2007, a year ago, the total inventory was only 643, as opposed to the 802 we've got now. The number of new listing taken were 145, almost identical to the number in March of 2008, 142. The number of new contracts was also very similar, 54 last year, 53 this year. The biggest difference is the number of closed sales. That number was 52 in March of 2007 and 42 in March of 2008.

Year over year it's hard to see any signs that this market is turning around.

Prices continue to drop. Average sales price in Culpeper county a year ago was $328,013. The average sales price now is $288,017. That's a 12% drop in one year. That's significant. There's no sign that prices are stabilizing either.

One statistic that surprised me is that the total number of new construction listings are up. As more and more builders have slowed or stopped building, I expected a reduction in new construction listings. But a year ago there were 224 new construction properties listed and now there are 263.

But perhaps even more surprising is the number of new construction sales. 12 sold in March of 2007 and only 4 in 2008. Considering the terrific deals most builders are providing, that's surprising. If you're ever going to buy new construction, the deals out there right now may make this the time.

Overall, there's not much here to raise your hopes if you're a seller. Lots of continued good news for the buyers!

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South Wales Update

It's been a little while since we've peeked in on the South Wales community and so I thought we'd take a look at what's happening there. Big picture numbers are interesting, but really, even at a county level they can be pretty meaningless.

When I originally pulled up the active listings for South Wales I got a pleasant surprise. The inventory volume is the lowest it's been in well over a year. There are currently 13 homes for sale.

The number of active listings here has been hovering around 18-20 pretty consistently for the past year. So 13 is definitely good news.

The next question is, what happened to the other listings?

Well, I'd like to tell you the reduction in inventory is due to all the sales happening in South Wales. But that is clearly not the case. In the last three and a half months only four homes have sold.

Interestingly, given the discussion on pricing in yesterday's blog, one sold for a net (after giving closing costs to buyers) of $365,000. Consider that the lowest sale price in there during the last quarter of 2005 was $530,000. That's a price drop of 31%! By any measure, that's substantial!

Six homes have been withdrawn from the market in the last few months and not relisted. If you add those six back in the total actives go right back to 19, about where they've stood all year.

So the real question is, have those sellers truly given up? Will they be back on the market in 2008?

The really good news for South Wales is that none of the current listings appear to be bank-owned or short sales.

There's always a silver lining!

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Culpeper October Numbers



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Culpeper County

Culpeper County, Virginia

Culpeper County is an agricultural community experiencing exciting growth and development. By an increase of 20 percent since 2000, the county's population has grown to just over 41,000. Almost half of the county's acreage is still dedicated to agriculture, a great deal of which is made up of nurseries, green houses, and Christmas tree farms. But horse and beef farms are popular and wineries are prevalent. Fifty percent of the county land is still wooded.

The county was chartered in 1749 and named for Lord Thomas Culpeper, just after a young George Washington was commissioned to survey the area. It was an active community in the American Revolution and was a strategic "hub" during the Civil War due to its desirable railroad location.

In addition to a wealth of Civil War history, Culpeper offers many cultural events, free concerts, theaters and art festivals. For those who enjoy the outdoors there is plenty of gorgeous scenery to take in while bike riding, hiking, horseback riding fishing or canoeing.

Today Culpeper County has its own regional airport, although the major DC and Baltimore airports are within 100 miles, and two Amtrak lines stop through the area. The Culpeper Regional Hospital is located in the Town of Culpeper and the Culpeper public school system is fully accredited by the Virginia Department of Education.

For more information visit the county's website at http://www.culpepercounty.gov or the Chamber of Commerce at http://www.culpepervachamber.com

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Wildwood Forest

Wildwood Forest is a lovely community in Amissville in northwest Culpeper County. It is located approximately nine miles west of Warrenton. There are approximately 90 homes in this subdivision.

One of the distinctive things you'll find here are the hand-painted mailboxes. Every home has one and it really does add to the ambience of the community.

Wildwood Circle is the main street and is, of course, a circle. The other streets in the subdivision are spurs off this main street.

Most of the homes here are colonials, although you'll also find a sprinkling of cape cods and ramblers. All are on large lots, generally over 1.5 acres.

There is no HOA in Wildwood Forest. Although there are restrictive covenants.

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A Vision for Culpeper

I get asked a lot about what is going to turn the real estate market around in this area. It's not an easy question to answer.

A friend who was formerly in the mortgage industry told me last week that he believed it was purely psychological and that when people believed it was a good time to buy homes again, they would. And, that's certainly a part of the answer. But what moves people to believe that?

I especially fret over Culpeper since the market there has suffered more than in the rest of the area I cover. And I've got a grand scheme that I think would ultimately make a difference for that community.

First of all, VRE needs to be extended to Culpeper. The hard part of this is already done as VRE trains use Amtrak tracks which already go right through Culpeper. They even stop there! You would need to expand the current depot to accomodate larger crowds. And you'd need a whole lot of parking. I suspect the city would have to purchase some nearby property to make this happen.

Now you build housing in downtown within walking distance of the train station. I'm thinking condos or townhouses. If you really want to make this attractive long term, I'd make them environmentally friendly and energy efficient.

Downtown Culpeper is already a terrific place. This would make it a huge draw for those people who want to live in a place like Culpeper but can't face the commute. I believe it would jump start the housing market, not just for those units near downtown, but through the community.

Heck, you might even see some spillover into Fauquier County with people driving to Culpeper to catch the train.

This is a huge project and obviously needs the city and county to pull it off. But I believe it's doable. And I think even announcing the idea would make people start to think more seriously about a home in Culpeper.

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